Chee-khoon Chan

Dr Chee-khoon Chan

Visiting Scholar
Institution: Centre for Research in International & Comparative Education (CRICE), Faculty of Education, University of Malaya
Current Institution Location: Malaysia

Phone Number:  +603 78323118
Website: Go to website

CHAN Chee Khoon, ScD (Epidemiology) Visiting Scholar Centre for Research in International & Comparative Education (CRICE) Faculty of Education University of Malaya 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Migration Health Research Area/Expertise
The migration landscape in Southeast Asia is overwhelmingly characterized by temporary labor migration. Home to major labor-exporting countries (Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar) as well as labor-receiving countries (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei), the ASEAN region also receives large numbers of labor migrants from South Asia (Nepal, Bangladesh, India), and is a significant source for emigrant and labor migrant streams to North America and the GCC countries. In Malaysia, refugees and asylum seekers currently total about 150,000, ninety percent of whom are from Myanmar (of whom, two-fifths are Rohingyas, one-third Chins) (UNHCR-Malaysia, October 2016). Numbers of Acehnese, southern Filipinos, Sri Lankans, Vietnamese, Cambodians have declined markedly as hostilities in the source countries subsided. By comparison, documented foreign workers are more than 10-fold in numbers (1,950,327, MoHR Aug 2016). As for undocumented migrants, a 2011 amnesty exercise in Malaysia registered 1,303,126 persons, a lower bound for a figure which is believed to rival and very likely exceed the figure for documented migrant workers. Undocumented migrants (large numbers in Thailand as well) are especially vulnerable to exploitation, intimidation, and abuse by employers, labor contractors (brokers), human traffickers and smugglers, and enforcement personnel. Furthermore, the management of novel and other infectious outbreaks (e.g. Sars, MERS, TB, HIV/AIDS, malaria, dengue) is made more difficult when undocumented migrants have a strong incentive to avoid contact with government agencies.
• One thrust of my research aims to understand the drivers and policy options for the persistently large pool of undocumented migrant (workers) in Malaysia and Thailand (despite repeated rounds of amnesty).
• I am also conducting research on (documented & undocumented) migrant workers' health experiences in Malaysia (living & working environments, employment health benefits, health histories & how they cope with post-arrival illness episodes & chronic conditions, resources they (could) tap into, facilities & services accessed, payment modalities, etc)
• In collaboration with the Embassy of Nepal in Kuala Lumpur, and with research counterparts in Kathmandu, we are investigating the seemingly high mortality of Nepali migrant workers in Malaysia (including anecdotal reports of sudden unexplained nocturnal death syndrome, SUNDS) (Malaysia is the leading destination country for Nepali labor migrants, and they constitute the second largest group of documented labor migrants in Malaysia, after Indonesian migrants).
• I am also coordinating a poll of stakeholders in labor-sending and labor-receiving countries in Southeast Asia vis-à-vis potential scenarios for contributions and social entitlements of migrant workers in their respective host countries (should ASEAN consider a multilateral agreement among its member states on taxation options for migrants, which would entitle them and their dependents to designated ‘citizen-equivalent’ social benefits in their host country?). This would not be a one-size-fits-all solution, but would be customised to the (evolving) taxation and social entitlement regimes of respective ASEAN member states. Such an agreement might for instance adopt the generic principle that mandatory contributory regimes of the host country (including income taxes) could be extended to migrant workers, who in return would be entitled to (designated?) social benefits (on the same terms?) as are available to local citizens.

Research Focus/Expertise on Relevant Migrant Categories
International/Cross-Border Migration
Patient mobility across borders (Children, Adolescents, Adults, Elderly)
Refugees (Children, Adolescents, Adults, Elderly)
Asylum seekers (Children, Adolescents, Adults, Elderly)
Human trafficking (Adults)
International migrant workers (Adolescents, Adults)

Relevant Publications

Title Author Year Published Link to Publication
Re-balancing ASEAN Integration: Medical Tourism vs Migrants’ Health? Thinking ASEAN (newsletter of The Habibie Center, Jakarta), August 2017(Issue 26) p.15-17. CHAN Chee Khoon
Healthcare Entitlements for Citizens and Trans-Border Mobile Peoples in Southeast Asia, in A McGregor, L Law and F Miller (eds), Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian Development, Abingdon: Routledge (in press, 2017). Meghann Ormond, Chan Chee Khoon and Sharuna Verghis
Universal Health Care? (Un)documented Migrants in Southeast Asia. Health & Human Rights Journal, published on 5 November 2015 CHAN Chee Khoon
Book Review: David Reisman Trade in Health: Economics, Ethics and Public Policy Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health 27(3) 360–362 CHAN Chee Khoon
Medical tourism in Malaysia: How can we better identify and manage its advantages and disadvantages? Global Health Action 2014, 7: 25201 Ormond M, Wong KM and Chan CK

Relevant Projects

Title Year Published Region/Country Role in the Project Main Outcome Link to Study Reports and publications
Migrants, Rights, and Health Security in Southeast Asia Asia and the Pacific
Principal Investigator poll of stakeholders in labor-sending and labor-receiving countries in Southeast Asia vis-à-vis potential scenarios for contributions and social entitlements of migrant workers in their respective host countries