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Jakarta Post

‘New’ or ‘better’ normal for migrants in ASEAN?

  • Rosalia Sciortino


Bangkok   /   Thu, November 12 2020   /  01:00 am
Loud and clear: Activists from the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union and Greenpeace Indonesia stage a protest in front of the State Palace on Thursday to demand the President immediately ratify a draft regulation on the protection of Indonesian ship crew.(JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting major divides in society and exposing preexisting vulnerabilities. A case in point are the estimated 10 million international migrants in Southeast Asia, mainly consisting of lower skilled-workers most often in irregular positions. The pandemic has disproportionately affected them, if not in terms of infections, in terms of socioeconomic impacts and disruption to their already precarious lives. In Singapore, national spatial modelling exercises and containment measures missed to include the large migrant population as they simply did not consider it part of the inhabitants. The government was taken aback by the growing spread of the infection in migrants’ dormitories and implemented stay-at-home orders, despite activists arguing that such measures will continue to expose them to transmission due to the substandard living conditions. In Se...