Standardize brokers for Indonesian migrants

The significant movement of laborers from Indonesia to Taiwan is closely linked to the economic downturn that affected Indonesia in 1998. Consequently, a significant proportion of Indonesians found themselves jobless and opted to seek employment abroad. Taiwan was a favored choice for people seeking employment because of its high demand for workers, especially in the industrial sector.

As of June last year, a total of 135,791 Indonesian migrant workers have been sent abroad, Indonesian Migrant Workers Protection Agency (BP2MI) data showed. This included 77,350 individuals working in the formal sector and 58,441 individuals working in the informal sector. Taiwan is the top destination for Indonesian migrant workers from January to June last year, with 33,639 workers.

An essential factor of this occurrence is the impression of Taiwan as a favorable destination for these professionals to attain success. There are many stories of success among migrant workers in Taiwan, with many buying homes and setting up businesses in Indonesia after returning from Taiwan. Nevertheless, there are other occasions when some face adversity and subsequently return to Indonesia without any accomplishments.

There is an interesting article by Randy Mulyanto, titled: “Indonesian migrant workers in Taiwan face struggles, discrimination,” published in the South China Morning Post. The story is about a female Indonesian migrant worker who faced unfortunate circumstances in Taiwan. The promises given to her by the labor agency in Indonesia were inconsistent with the real situation. She faced adverse conditions in her work, where the majority of employees were men and she was the only female.

The narrative of the article is interesting, saying: “Taiwan is not as beautiful as the profile picture on Facebook”. The author says that this issue is not exclusive to a single migrant worker, but it is likely that many have encountered similar situations.

I am curious about the specific involvement of the Indonesian government, particularly the BP2MI, in collaborating with Taiwan’s representatives, such as the Taipei Economic and Trade Office (TETO) in Indonesia, to address this issue.

The key factor in addressing this matter is undoubtedly the establishment of a strong and efficient coordination mechanism between the two organizations involved, as well as conducting thorough verification of all labor distributors to obtain validation from both institutions.

Many unscrupulous labor brokers, who bypass official procedures, exploit the strong interest of potential migrant workers to go to Taiwan, Mulyanto said. These brokers entice and deceive prospective workers with false promises, taking advantage of their vulnerability.

An optimal resolution could be collaboration between BP2MI and TETO to establish a comprehensive standardized process for labor channeling companies. These companies should only be authorized to recruit migrant workers for Taiwan if they are duly registered with BP2MI.

It is crucial to establish clear regulations regarding the procedure of sending legal workers to Taiwan, through the collaboration between BP2MI and TETO.

Furthermore, it is essential to widely publicize this process through Indonesian media to reduce the chances of unethical labor brokers taking advantage of the situation.

Effective collaboration between BP2MI and TETO could prevent the emergence of distressing narratives concerning Indonesian migrant workers in Taiwan.

M. Syaprin Zahidi is a senior lecturer in the Department of International Relations at the University of Muhammadiyah Malang and is a doctoral student at Ghazali Shafie Graduate School of Government at the Universiti Utara Malaysia.

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