President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s decree to help simplify Indonesia’s procedures for issuing foreigners’ work permits, which is set to take effect this month, includes a section requiring all expatriate workers to undergo formal Indonesian language training, an apparent first for any nation in South-east Asia.
The foreign business community has been caught off guard by the requirement, and domestic companies who hire foreign workers are also reacting with alarm.
The government has not explained the reasoning behind the language requirement.
However, it may be an attempt by Jokowi, who is running for re-election next year, to placate political rivals who say he is “opening the floodgates” to foreign workers by streamlining the process for obtaining work permits.
The complaints from Jokowi’s opponents stem partly from an increase in the number of Chinese manual labourers entering illegally on tourist visas to work on Chinese-funded infrastructure projects. As unregistered workers, they would not be subject to the new language requirement.
This decree, which goes into force on June 26, requires companies to arrange and pay for foreigners working in the country for longer than six months to take Indonesian language courses at local schools, and to provide attendance certificates.
If they fail to do so, the companies and their employees could face unspecified sanctions that are being drafted by the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, which processes and revokes foreign work permits, according to Mr Budiman, head of the ministry’s legal affairs bureau.
Source: The New York Times
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