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Bleak future for repatriated Indonesians JAKARTA - There won't be jobs in Indonesia for most migrant workers returning from Malaysia, but officials in Jakarta said they can offer them training to develop their skills, or help them start small businesses. Mr Adang Farid, who oversees domestic-employment matters at the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, also disclosed that President Megawati Sukarnoputri would raise Malaysia's repatriation of illegal Indonesian workers next week when she meets Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for talks.
Indonesia plans to ask Malaysia to keep its doors open to job-seekers with proper training and documents, and not to impose harsh treatment on illegal workers arrested by the authorities. To help returning workers, Jakarta said it could only channel them to regional job centres, where they can learn additional skills. Some would be allowed to seek jobs in other countries again, after going through the necessary paperwork.
But the picture looks grim for the returning workers, given the extent of Indonesia's unemployment problems and economic difficulties experienced by most of the people. 'There is already a big unemployment problem here, but the government has to do all it can to help the returning workers. There are some options for us, but the people also have to help themselves,' Mr Adang said. The repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Indonesians from Malaysia will also affect foreign-exchange earnings as these workers had, over the years, sent home money they earned abroad.
Since the onset of the economic crisis five years ago, Indonesia's unemployment figure has risen steadily and it now stands at about 38 million. Many analysts, however, also talk about another 40 million to 50 million Indonesians who work irregularly or on a part-time basis. That sort of a future could be ahead of many repatriated workers, like 22-year-old Iwan Iswandi, who was employed for 13 months on a palm-oil plantation in Sabah and returned to Indonesia in May. He told The Straits Times that although he is a skilled worker with experience in construction and farming, he cannot secure another job back home. He has taken a few odd jobs, lasting a few days at a time, just to earn enough to keep himself fed and clothed.
The Manpower Ministry estimated that last year migrant workers from Indonesia remitted a total of 23 trillion rupiah (S$4.6 billion) to families at home. Mr Wahyu Susilo of the Consortium on Indonesian Migrant Workers Advocacy (Kopbumi) said the ministry only tracks money sent through banks, and not what is carried home by workers on visits or through other means. 'The actual amount of money is huge. Only a small percentage of migrant workers use the banking system. Most rely on trusted fellow workers who are going home, to carry some cash back to their loved ones,' he said.



Posted in General @ 01 August 2002 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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