Cablegate: Gtip Grant Monitoring: Asian Research Center for Migration

DE RUEHBK #2975/01 3280335
P 240335Z NOV 09


Department for GTIP Janet Zinn and EAP/MLS Demian Smith


E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: GTIP Grant Monitoring: Asian Research Center for Migration

BANGKOK 00002975 001.2 OF 002

Sensitive But Unclassified. For Official Use Only.

Ref: State 112289 (G/TIP FY 08 Monitoring Request)

1. (SBU) Summary: The Asian Research Center for Migration (AR CM)
is proceeding with the study of labor brokerage firms that send Thai
citizens to work abroad. While its research plan has altered
significantly, including travel to alternate destinations with an
increased number of staff, project leader Dr. Supang Chantavanich is
confident that project will be completed within budget and the same
approximate time frame. Given the importance of labor brokers to
the human trafficking dynamic in Thailand (and Southeast Asia), the
final report should be directly relevant to the efforts of both
government and civil society to combat labor trafficking. End

2. (SBU) Comment: While much of ARCM's research plan has changed,
the rationale behind these changes appears sound. ARCM, under Dr.
Supang's leadership, has conducted multiple, similar studies in the
past. Its proven capacity for quality research and the strong
qualifications of Dr. Supang give us high confidence that the
project goals will be met. ARCM should be a candidate for
additional project funding beyond this six-month study. End

3. (U) In response to reftel request, Econoff met November 17 with
Dr. Supang Chantavanich of the Asian Research Center for Migration
(ARCM) to discuss progress on its USD 85,000 project involving the
study of the practices or Thai recruitment agencies that send Thai
workers abroad. Although reftel requested an on-site review six
months after the project start date, given the six-month time-frame
of the project in question and ARCM's status as a first-time
recipient of State Department funds, Post determined to conduct a
review approximately two months after the start date. In the
meeting, Dr. Supang was joined by ARCM financial officer Ms.
Dolladee Taiwetchasatr.

General Activities
4. (U) Supang confirmed ARCM began project activities even before
receipt of all project funds from the Thai Government's (RTG)
International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA) in September
2009 (Note: Through an agreement with the Embassy, TICA advances
funds to all State Department grant recipients and collects receipts
from them while conducting auditing services, which provide
additional oversight on project funding. End Note.) Supang has met
with current and former employees of the RTG Ministry of Labor's
Office of Foreign Workers Administration. A research team made a
scheduled visit to Udon Thani province for meetings with five labor
recruiting firms based there, and is scheduled to make similar trips
over the coming weeks. Supang explained that ARCM has selected
firms to interview (from the approximately 250 registered firms
relevant to its research) based on a number of factors, including
the extent of their existing operations.

5. (U) Supang explained that, based on the visit to Udon Thani,
provincial field visits will not require as much time as originally
planned and second trips to certain locations will not be required.
At the same time, field interviews (both audio recorded and not)
require transcription, thereby making data collection more labor
intensive than anticipated. As such, ARCM has altered its domestic
data collection plan. Instead of two trips to Chiang Rai, ARCM will
make one trip there and another to Lamphun province (just south of
Chiang Mai). Instead of traveling to Nakhon Ratchasima (also known
as Korat) in eastern Thailand, researchers will travel to Khon Kaen
province in the northeast). ARCM also scaled up its project-related
personnel, from two to three researchers (all ARCM staff) and three
to six research assistants (two of the assistants are undergraduate
students, two are graduate students, and two are prior graduate

6. (U) ARCM has also determined that its planned visit to a
destination country for Thai laborers will be to either Qatar or
Bahrain, but not South Korea as originally planned. Supang
explained that, since beginning research, she has determined that
there are few Thai broker firms with operations in South Korea.
Most of the Thai workers who travel there do so through government
to government programs that do not require an intermediary (Thai
workers learn Korean while in Thailand prior to traveling to work in
sectors such as construction). Whether in Qatar or Bahrain, ARCM
plans to conduct interviews with the Thai Embassy Labor attache,
overseas representatives of recruitment companies, and Thai workers.
Supang assured that despite the changes to its data collection plan
(including to the size of the research staff), ARCM will be able to
conduct all activities within the allotted budget. (Note: Post is
seeking an updated budget from ARCM to reflect changes detailed in
paragraphs five and six. End Note).

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Challenges, Kudos, and Recommendations

7. (SBU) Challenges: Supang explained that the need to send formal
letters to companies in order to seek interviews with management and
staff requires is somewhat burdensome, although most responses to
her requests have been positive and that ARCM is on-track with its
provincial visit schedule. She noted that while she would prefer to
audio record interviews, most interviewees will not agree, making
transcription more difficult. With regards to the quality of the
data collected, researchers have found that answers to their initial
questions are superficial, requiring additional (sometimes
difficult) probing to elicit more detailed and useful responses.
With regards to funding, Supang complained that TICA regulations
require that her staff travel to site visits via car or train - but
not air, and cap per diem rates to a maximum of 240 baht per person
per day (just under USD 7.0).

8. (U) Kudos: Supang noted that Ministry of Labor officials have
been extremely helpful to her research efforts, responding to
requests for meetings and providing candid responses to questions

9. (SBU) Recommendations: Supang suggested Post work with TICA to
seek flexibility with regard to per diem and travel regulations.
(Note: we intend to raise with TICA the adequacy of current travel
and per diem regulations. We do not however believe it appropriate
to seek an exception for only those organizations funded by the USG.
End Note.)


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