Experiences of chin irregular migrant workers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia : a case study

Khai TUAL SAWN (Presenter)

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


Malaysia was home to between 500,000 and 700,000 Burmese regular and irregular migrant workers of various ethnicities from Myanmar n 2017. The Chin irregular migrants were working in precarious circumstances, although no statistical population data was available. This study explored how and why the Chin people migrated irregularly, experiences and challenges, benefits of migration, and coping strategies. Through snowball sampling, a nine-case study and two focus group discussions were conducted with the Chin irregular migrant workers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The findings reveal that: (a) there are a variety of push and pull factors that motivate them to migrate to Malaysia; economic hardship, natural disaster, oppression from the military, and discrimination based on ethnicity and religion, (b) they experience various challenges in their daily lives in their workplace and living environment; long working hours, limited rest days, irregular meal-times, language barrier, exploitation either by their employers and co-workers who are regular, unable to access banks, hospitals, schools for their children, no freedom of movement, and inability to seek protection reliefs, (c) despite the challenges, they can support their families financially, pay for their children's education fees, medication, and are able to repay their debts, and (d) they primarily rely on religious practices and self-denial as a way of coping with their problems. This study highlights that the Chin people's irregular migration is motivated by their urge to escape from poverty, oppression, discrimination back in Myanmar and as a means to improve their social and economic conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2021
EventPostgraduate Conference on Interdisciplinary Learning: Re-Imagining Postgraduate Studies in the 21st Century and Beyond - Lingnan University, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong
Duration: 26 Mar 202127 Mar 2021


ConferencePostgraduate Conference on Interdisciplinary Learning
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
CityTuen Mun
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Abstract published in Postgraduate Conference on Interdisciplinary Learning : Re-Imagining Postgraduate Studies in the 21st Century and Beyond : Programme book, Lingnan University, 2021, p. 51.


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