Indonesia seeks Malaysian promise to protect migrant workers

Migrant Care has urged both leaders to make migrant workers’ protection a priority in their discussions. AFP
Updated 29 June 2018
0

Indonesia seeks Malaysian promise to protect migrant workers

  • There are about 2.7 million Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia working as domestic helpers, and plantation and construction workers
  • Indonesia and Malaysia are two of the world’s biggest producers of palm oil, accounting for roughly 90 percent of global oil palm production

JAKARTA: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has pledged to protect millions of Indonesians living and working in the country, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said after talks between the two leaders.
“I have asked about protection to migrant workers in Malaysia as well as the establishment of schools for Indonesian children there,” Widodo said during a joint press conference with Mahathir at the Bogor Palace in Bogor, West Java, on Friday.
There are about 2.7 million Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia working as domestic helpers, and plantation and construction workers — the largest concentration of the Indonesian diaspora abroad. Almost half work there illegally, according to data from the government.
Mahathir acknowledged that there are Indonesians in Malaysia who entered the country illegally, many with children. “These children need to go to schools. We already have Indonesian schools in the peninsula, but we still don’t have any in Sabah and Sarawak. We will see to it,” Mahathir said.
However, neither of the leaders said anything about the stalled negotiation of a bilateral memorandum of understanding on protection and placement of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia, which expired in 2016.
Migrant workers advocacy group Migrant Care has urged both leaders to make migrant workers’ protection a priority in their bilateral discussions. “Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia are still prone to various abuse, such as physical, fall victim to trafficking, and some of them are on death row,” Migrant Care’s executive director, Wahyu Susilo, told Arab News.
Susilo also said the two leaders should finalize negotiations on the MoU and refer it to the principles on the ASEAN Consensus on Protection and Promotion the Rights of Migrant Workers and other international human rights instruments to protect migrant workers.
Mahathir called on Indonesia to band together to counter accusation from the EU, which aims to phase out the use of biodiesel made from palm oil by 2030, that the two countries’ palm oil plantations have caused massive deforestation and ignited climate change.
“This is not correct,” he said, adding that both Malaysia and Indonesia have the right to clear its land for wider cultivation grounds and benefit from them economically.
He said Europe was also once covered by forests, which have now been cut down.
“No one objected to it, we never objected to it. However, now when we need to have larger cultivation areas, they accuse us of destroying the environment and causing climate change,” Mahathir said.
He added that EU’s position was mainly based on economic grounds instead of environmental concerns.
Indonesia and Malaysia are two of the world’s biggest producers of palm oil, accounting for roughly 90 percent of global oil palm production.
The premier was on a two-day official visit in Indonesia, which ended Friday. It was his first visit to a Southeast Asian country since he became prime minister for the second time in May after defeating then-prime minister Najib Razak. It is customary for newly installed leaders of ASEAN countries to make their first official visits to fellow member states of the regional bloc.
“We wanted to make Indonesia as our first trip abroad because Indonesia is our closest neighbor,” Mahathir said, taking into account the family ties between people in both countries.
“We are not strangers to each other and many Malaysians are originated from Indonesia,” he added.
Mahathir and his wife Siti Hasmah arrived in Jakarta on Thursday night. Widodo and First Lady Iriana Widodo greeted the pair on the tarmac at Jakarta’s Halim Perdanakusuma airport. The last time Widodo greeted a visiting foreign dignitary at the tarmac was when he welcomed King Salman of Saudi Arabia when the latter visited Indonesia in early 2017.


UK firms step up preparations for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit as PM Theresa May meets with EU leaders

Updated 47 min 30 sec ago
0

UK firms step up preparations for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit as PM Theresa May meets with EU leaders

  • May is meeting EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday in attempt to get support for Brexit delay
  • The Bank of England warned in November that the British economy could shrink by a massive 8 percent

LONDON: UK companies have ratcheted up their preparations for a disorderly “no-deal” Brexit as best they can over the past couple of months, the Bank of England said on Thursday.
With the prospect of a chaotic Brexit potentially eight days away, a survey by the central bank’s agents showed that around 80 percent of companies “judged themselves ready” for such a scenario, in which the country crashes out of the European Union with no deal and no transition to new trading arrangements with the bloc. That’s up from around 50 percent in an equivalent survey in January.
For decades, trading with the rest of the EU has been seamless. A disorderly Brexit could see the return of tariffs and other restrictions on trade with the EU, Britain’s main export destination.
To prepare, some firms have moved jobs and operations to the EU to continue to benefit from its seamless trade. Many have had to learn how to file customs declarations and adjust labels on goods. Exporters of animals are learning about health checks they will need to comply with.
According to the bank’s survey, however, many of those companies preparing for a “no-deal” Brexit said “there were limits to the degree of readiness that was feasible in the face of the range of possible outcomes in that scenario.”
There’s only so much companies can do, for example, to prepare for new tariffs and exchange rate movements.

-------

RELATED: Online petition to revoke Brexit gets 600,000 supporters in less than 24 hours

-------

Britain appears headed for a “no-deal” Brexit on March 29 if Prime Minister Theresa May fails to win parliamentary support for her withdrawal agreement with the EU.
She is meeting EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday in an attempt to get support for a delay to the country’s departure date to June 30. EU leaders have said a short extension would have to be conditional on her Brexit plan getting parliamentary backing and have indicated they would only be willing to back a delay to May 22, the day before elections to the European Parliament. After two heavy rejections in parliament, there are doubts as to whether she will be able to get parliamentary approval. What would happen next is uncertain.
European leaders, including those from France and Luxembourg, have said any extension will be granted dependent on May's deal passing a third parliamentary vote.
The Bank of England warned in November that the British economy could shrink by a massive 8 percent within months, though Governor Mark Carney has indicated the recession will be less savage, partly because of heightened preparedness.
According to the minutes of the latest meeting of the bank’s nine-member Monetary Policy Committee, at which the main interest rate was kept at 0.75 percent, rate-setters warned “Brexit uncertainties would continue to affect economic activity looking ahead, most notably business investment.”
Brexit uncertainty has dogged the British economy for nearly three years. In 2018, the economy grew by 1.4 percent, its lowest rate since 2012, even during what was then a global upswing. Business investment was down 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter from the year before.
“Business investment had now fallen in each of the past four quarters as uncertainties relating to Brexit had intensified,” the rate-setters said.
The survey showed uncertainty was likely to remain for months, even years, as Britain works out its long-term relationship with the EU. It said around 60 percent of UK firms in February said Brexit was one of their top three uncertainties, compared with 40 percent just after the June 2016 Brexit referendum.
Around 40 percent of firms expect the uncertainty to be resolved only by the end of 2019 and 20 percent anticipate it persisting into 2021 or beyond.