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Jakarta Post

Labor group urges candidates to focus on migrant workers' rights in debate

  • Dian Septiari

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, March 30, 2019   /   04:51 pm
Labor group urges candidates to focus on migrant workers' rights in debate Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi speaks to Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia during her trip to Penang and Johor Bahru, Malaysia, between March 15 and 18, 2017. (Courtesy of the Foreign Ministry/File)

Migrant CARE, a labor rights advocacy group, has called on presidential candidates Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo Subianto to address the protection of Indonesian migrant workers in the upcoming debate, an issue both sides have failed to comprehensively highlight on previous occasions.

Jokowi and Prabowo are due to square off in the next presidential debate on Saturday night, which will focus on the themes of ideology, governance, security and foreign affairs.

Previous debates that had focused on themes of human rights and employment had not adequately discussed the protection of migrant workers, said Migrant CARE executive director Wahyu Susilo.

"The marginalization of the agenda [...] shows that this issue remains 'hidden' in the agenda of the 2019 election," he said in a statement on Friday.

Some main issues relevant to the agenda include the implementation of regulations based on the 2017 Migrant Labor Protection Law, which stipulates the enactment of government regulations (PP) on legal, social and economic protections two years after the law is passed.

The government is also yet to renegotiate bilateral agreements with destination countries such as Malaysia as the basis for continued migrant worker protection.

Wahyu said tonight's debate was a strategic opportunity for either camp to impress overseas voters, who are to head to the polls earlier than the in-country electorate. Overseas voting will be open from April 8 through 14.

Data from overseas election committees (PPLN) show that from the 2.05 million eligible voters overseas, the largest number of voters are located in areas with large constituencies of migrant workers, with 558,873 voters registered in Malaysia, followed by Taiwan (277,065) and Hong Kong (180,232).