RIYADH, 8 February 2003 — Indonesia has temporarily suspended manpower export to Saudi Arabia in view of a possible US-led war on Iraq.
The decision, by the Indonesian minister of manpower, came into effect on Feb. 2, informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat, a sister publication of Arab News.
However, the sources said the suspension, which is to last a month, aims chiefly to allow comprehensive administrative reforms at Indonesian manpower recruitment agencies and put an end to visa mafias.
Abdullah Saleh Al-Hamoud, a researcher in human resources, said that the decision to halt manpower exports would have a negative effect on business relations.
Hamoud said the war was merely a pretext and Jakarta’s decision was unnecessary because in the event of a war flights to the Gulf region and some Middle Eastern countries would stop in any case.
He pointed out that other manpower exporting countries in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent have not stopped sending their citizens to the Gulf region.
Saad Al-Baddah, a member of the national recruitment committee, said the suspension would not affect the Indonesian labor market.
“It’s a temporary action and will not last more than a month and we are receiving more applications from Saudi clients to hire Indonesian servants,” he explained.
“The Indonesian Labor Ministry has instructed recruitment offices to allow travel of those workers who have already received visas,” he said.
According to Baddah, the Indonesian authorities took the decision to improve the quality of their manpower, by providing them with intensive training. The training period has been increased from 12 days to one month.
But according to sources in the Saudi labor market, the suspension was aimed at blackmailing Saudi recruitment offices and increasing the salaries of Indonesians.