The recent fatal boat accident, which left 54 people dead, in Batam, Riau Islands, has highlighted the government’s poor management of migrant workers, a researcher has said.

International migration expert from Gadjah Mada University’s Population and Policy Study Center, Sukamdi, condemned the latest in a series of such incidents that had occurred in the past year. The tragedy clearly demonstrated the ineptitude of the government’s migrant worker placement management.

Even though the government had imposed a moratorium, it had never been able to stop the flow of Indonesian workers seeking jobs abroad, said Sukamdi.

“For me, it’s not a matter of legal or illegal. They [migrant workers] are also our citizens so the state should have been able to guarantee their safety and the fulfillment of their basic needs. They have migrated to meet their living needs. Could this country not facilitate them?” he said recently.

He said the Batam sinking should be a wake-up call for the government to immediately improve the placement of Indonesian migrant workers.

The 2011-2015 Indonesian migrant worker-placement data released by the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers Abroad (BNP2TKI) show more than 2 million Indonesian people worked abroad.  The number is probably higher because many Indonesian migrant workers do not have official documents and go abroad via illegal routes.

The BNP2TKI data also show that remittances from Indonesian migrant workers amounted to Rp 119.7 trillion (US$8.65 billion) in 2015, making Indonesia the world’s fourth-highest remittance-receiving country. (ebf) News Desk, 6 November 2016


The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ASEAN Trade Union Council.