Sai S.W. Latt
Geography Department, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Correspondence: Sai S.W. Latt (email:
One major aim of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) integration programme, supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), is to foster regional ‘community’ for sharing resources, people and financial flows. This ‘community’ is the target of both economic growth and poverty reduction. The emphasis on ‘community’ in the ADB’s mushrooming quantity of documents raises important questions about what kinds of people are included, in what roles and with what kinds of support and protection. This paper explores these questions in relation to the political economy of regulating ethnic migrants from Myanmar working in Thailand. This paper argues that extra-legal relations between migrants and state/para-state agents constitute a crucial part of regulation. In transferring the regulation of migration to the national scale, the ADB inadvertently reinforces national differences between Thais and cross-border people. Additionally, the complicated and fluctuating implementation of national regulations in both countries leaves migrants subject to violence and extortion from state and quasi-state agents in Thailand. This paper shows that the dynamics of global capitalism require ‘deportable labour’ supplied by ethnic migrants who are included in the GMS community as the most invisible, vulnerable and exploited members.