23 Nov 2010, SINGAPORE – The Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) and the Royal Thai Embassy co-organised a legal workshop on Saturday 20 Nov, to address common legal questions that Thai foreign nationals in Singapore encounter. The workshop brought together more than 30 legal experts, Thai officials, NGO community leaders and volunteers with the objective of better understanding Singapore laws and practices, including questions on overstaying, illegal workers, human trafficking, prostitution, the rights of witnesses in police investigations and drug trafficking.
“The SIIA encourages Singaporeans to be a thinking, cosmopolitan society,” said Prof. Simon Tay, Chairman of the SIIA. “This includes having a better understanding of Singapore laws and policies about foreigners. This puts us in a better position to help foreign nationals in Singapore, should they need a helping hand.”
The workshop marks the culmination of a research project partnership between the SIIA and the Royal Thai Embassy, which explored selected legal issues facing foreign nationals in Singapore. The workshop also discussed recommendations to the Thai Embassy, including identifying support networks and key players who can assist the work of the Embassy’s consular division.
"Engagement with NGOs and VWOs was critical to the success of this workshop,” said Prof. Mahdev Mohan, Associate Fellow of the SIIA. "With their help, we identified important issues facing Thai nationals in Singapore, which would not have surfaced without this interactive workshop.”
The project involved researchers from the law schools of the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Singapore Management University (SMU), and was supervised by Simon Tay, Chairman of the SIIA and Associate Professor of Law in NUS, as well as Mahdev Mohan, Associate Fellow of the SIIA and Assistant Professor of Law in SMU. The researchers involved in this project included Mr. Anthony Wong and Ms. April Cheah from NUS, Ms. Liyana Mahirah Bte Mohd Ramthan, Ms. Premalatha Silwaraju, and Ms. Nadia Ahmad Samdin from SMU.
Prof. Mohan noted that practical experience informed the student researchers’ contributions to the project. “Drawing on our experiences with NGOs in Thailand and helping VWOs dedicated to assisting foreign workers here, our team of students from NUS and SMU was able to competently address the questions that were posed,” said Ms. Nadia Ahmad Samdin, one of the student researchers involved with the project.
Among the participants were Mr. Monchai Patchanee, Minister of Royal Thai Embassy, Ms. Kanjana Wongsuwan, Thai Minister Counsellor of Labour, Asst. Prof. Pattana Kitiarsa, visiting fellow at the Department of Southeast Asian Studies in NUS. This project marks the first collaboration of its kind between Singapore Institute of International Affairs and the Royal Thai Embassy in Singapore.