Indonesia Seeks Malaysian Help on Unemployed Migrants

JAKARTA ~ President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on Malaysia this week to help find a solution to the plight of thousands of migrant workers expected to be made jobless in the global economic crisis.

“There are many Indonesian workers there. If there is any problem, then we should find the solution together,” Yudhoyono told reporters after meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi.

Both countries should work together to prevent their economies from being sucked further down by the crisis and to protect the rights of Indonesia’s citizens working in its wealthier neighbor, he said.

Indonesia expects 100,000 of its two million migrant workers in Malaysia to be laid off and sent home by the end of the year.

The Indonesian government said in February that 10,000 Indonesia workers in southern Johor state alone had already been sent home since the start of January.

Abdullah said the lay-offs were “unavoidable” and urged Indonesians not to “exaggerate” the problem.

“What’s happening today is affecting all countries in the world. If the lay-offs occur, then they will affect both expatriates and Malaysians,” Abdullah said.

Malaysia has slashed its work permit approvals for foreign workers by almost 70 percent so far this year due to fears the recession will lead to more job losses for locals.

The country, which has experienced a slowdown in its manufacturing sector, has recently cancelled work visas issued to 55,000 Bangladeshi workers after demands from unions.

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