Wed, 10 Sep 2003

ASEAN tackle issue of migrant workers

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Lawmakers from ASEAN countries shared views on Tuesday on the need to accord better treatment to migrant workers by drafting a resolution consisting of standard rights for workers to ensure their safety while on duty overseas.

The lawmakers also recommended that each member country government of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) take tough action against anyone maltreating workers.

"We agree to protect workers from abuse or maltreatment by their employers," said Aisyah Aminy, who chaired the committee for social affairs here on Tuesday.

She added that the draft resolution would also urge the government of each ASEAN country to ban illegal workers from being employed in their respective countries.

The lawmakers also agreed to improve alertness among ASEAN countries on the prevention of certain diseases, like the recent outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

According to Aisyah, ASEAN lawmakers agreed to share information on the disease.

Separately, Alvin Lie Ling Piao said that the committee meeting also agreed to urge the government of each ASEAN country to impose penalties on individuals or manpower agencies that maltreated workers.

The meeting also agreed to recommend each government to improve health facilities for poor citizens.

The draft resolution would be brought to a plenary meeting of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organization (AIPO), scheduled for Thursday.

AIPO delegates were scheduled to go to the Puncak resort, West Java, on Wednesday. They will visit tea plantations and the Safari Zoo.

Meanwhile, lawmakers from the committee on political matters shared views on the need to improve security within the ASEAN region in anticipation of the threat of terrorism and transnational crime.

The lawmakers will only deal with legislative matters, not operational ones. The committee will focus on the need to establish a security council among ASEAN countries.

In the meantime, the committee on economic matters has also drafted a resolution on the need to create ASEAN legislation for realization of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA).

The draft calls for active participation of each AIPO member legislature in promoting and formulating common legal frameworks on trade and investment pursuant to a number of ASEAN agreements.

Another resolution drafted by the committee was a resolution on economic cooperation and comprehensive partnership between ASEAN and East Asia.