Tue, 06 Aug 2002

Govt urged to take care of migrant workers

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Several factions of Commission C at the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) expressed their concern on Monday over returning illegal migrant workers and urged the government to seriously address the problem.

The United Development Party (PPP) faction drew the government's attention to the fate of some 600,000 migrant workers who had been forcibly expelled from Malaysia.

"We hope the President will give special attention to the problem," PPP faction spokesman A. Syahrudji Tanjung said during a commission session.

Syahrudji said his faction recommended that the government be more serious about giving protection to the migrant workers to avoid similar cases in the future.

Meanwhile, the Crescent Star Party (PBB) faction charged that the government had not handled the problem of migrant workers seriously.

"The problem of illegal workers shames us as a nation. Do not exploit them (the workers)," PBB spokesman Darmansyah Husein said.

It is widely known that migrant workers are exploited and extorted by their brokers and certain Indonesian government officials from the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, customs and immigration offices.

One third of their salary, which could reach Rp 1 million (US$111.11) a month, is reportedly slashed by the brokers and the officials.

PBB recommended that the government prioritize labor intensive industries which could accommodate the migrant workers. It also urged the regional administrations to accept the returnees.

Hundreds of thousands of Indonesian illegal workers in Malaysia have been forced to return home and many are facing possible punishment for illegal entry.

Some 90,000 Indonesian migrant workers in Taiwan are also facing expulsion.

The government was totally unprepared to handle the problem resulting from the returning illegal workers, leaving hundreds of thousands of migrant workers stranded in cities across the country.

Several regional administrations have stated earlier that they could not accept the returning workers due to lack of funds.

The Interest Groups faction (FUG) and the Daulatul Ummah Party faction (FPDU) both called for the creation of more jobs, especially for migrant workers. They urged the government to develop an economy which could create job opportunities for the common people.

Besides migrant workers, party factions also urged the government to improve its effort to eradicate widespread corruption and collusion practices and to immediately solve the conflicts in Aceh, Papua and Maluku.