Govt urged to facilitate migrant workers in regional elections
The Jakarta Post
A political expert has warned the political rights of Indonesian migrant workers abroad could be violated as no system had yet been put in place that allows them to participate in the election of regional heads.
"The government will violate the civil and political rights of the Indonesian migrant workers abroad if they are not facilitated to participate in the election of their regional heads," Muhadjir Darwin, a researcher and demographer at the University of Gadjah Mada's demography and policy study center (PSKPP UGM), told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
Based on the government regulation in lieu of a law (Perppu) No.1/2014 on the election of governors, regents and mayors, regional head elections will be held simultaneously in December 2015.
Muhadjir said the migrant workers had a right to elect regional heads in their hometowns, as they still had families and assets there. There would also come a time when the workers would return to their hometowns.
"In legislative and presidential elections that are national in nature, our Indonesian migrant workers can exercise their political rights to elect the country's leaders; so why can they not participate in regional head elections which are local in nature?" he said.
Muhadjir said the right to vote, including electing regional heads, was a political right of every Indonesian citizen guaranteed in the constitution.
The analyst said Indonesian migrant workers also supported the country's economic growth thanks to the remittances they sent to their hometowns.
"So, the Indonesian embassies must facilitate them. It makes sense because one of the functions of an embassy is to assist Indonesian citizens abroad to exercise their rights," said Muhadjir.
According to the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers official data, 429,872 Indonesia people went abroad to work in several countries, including Hong Kong, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, throughout 2014. The remittances they sent to their hometowns amounted to around Rp 107 trillion (US$8.24 billion).
In Yogyakarta, 3,808 people worked abroad in 2014, sending home total remittances of Rp 121 billion.
Yogyakarta General Elections Commission (KPUD) spokesperson Farid Bambang Siswantara said Indonesian workers abroad could not participate in regional head elections if they did not return home. (ebf)(++++)
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