Analysts Warn KPK of Political Backlash

The Jakarta Globe

Last week’s arrests of more than a dozen politicians on bribery charges could earn the antigraft body the ire of major political forces, analysts said on Sunday.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested 19 current and former lawmakers on Friday for their alleged involvement in a Rp 24 billion ($2.7 million) bribery scandal centered on the appointment of Miranda Goeltom as Bank Indonesia senior deputy governor.

Those detained were among the 26 suspects named last September in the 2004 bribery scandal that has already seen four former lawmakers jailed.

Ari Dwipayana, a political science professor at Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University, said the KPK’s decision to arrest the 19 suspects would have major political repercussions. “The KPK’s move will lead to a political counterattack,” he said. “Not only against the KPK itself, but also against the ruling [Democratic] Party.”

All of those arrested on Friday came from three parties, including the Golkar Party and the United Development Party (PPP), both members of the ruling coalition. The third was the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP-P).

Ari said he expected any blowback against the KPK to come from the House of Representatives. “It could come in the form of pressure on the KPK through House Commission III [overseeing legal affairs] or even by slashing the [KPK’s] funding,” he said.

“There’s also the possibility of the KPK Law being amended [to curtail the antigraft body’s powers],” he added.

Ari said being dragged into politics would be dangerous for the KPK, which is still trying to regain public trust following a difficult period in which two of its deputy commissioners found themselves in a legal morass over questionable bribery charges.

He said the parties implicated in the BI bribery case, particularly Golkar and the PDI-P, could “ignite a political attack” in the House against the ruling government.

There were several ways this could come about, he said.

First, the PDI-P could push for a special inquiry into the so-called tax mafia. This would have the potential of highlighting the failure of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Judicial Mafia Eradication Task Force to tackle the alleged institutional graft inside the tax office, as indicated by the saga of former taxman Gayus Tambunan.

Second, Golkar could revive its bid to invoke the right of lawmakers to express an opinion on the Bank Century bailout scandal, which could ultimately lead to impeachment proceedings against Vice President Boediono, who was the central bank governor at the time of the controversial Rp 6.7 trillion bailout.

Emerson Yunto, vice coordinator of Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), agreed it was conceivable that the House would try to hit back at the KPK.

“They could [strike back] through the various policies under their authority relating to the KPK, including the selection of its chairman, the allocation of funds or the appointment of leaders,” he said. “It’s possible because not all lawmakers like the KPK or what it does. Some of them feel the KPK is stepping on their toes, so they’ll do anything to undermine its powers. …”

Emerson said he hoped the KPK leaders were prepared for the potential hostility facing the commission in the House.

“We can only hope that the KPK will continue to work on its campaign to root out corruption in the country,” he said.

He called on all parties in the House to put aside their hostilities toward the commission and back its efforts to unravel the Bank Indonesia bribery scandal.

“The KPK did the right thing by detaining the politicians,” he said. “However, it should not just focus on those who allegedly received the bribes, but also on those who paid them.”

While Miranda has been questioned several times by the KPK about the case, she has not been named a suspect.

Nunun Nurbaeti Daradjatun, who is alleged to have funneled the money to lawmakers, has ignored several KPK summonses. She is reportedly in Singapore, where her lawyer claims she is being treated for an illness that causes acute memory loss.

Penalties for Health Professionals Who Do Not Provide Cheap Drugs to the Sick

The Jakarta Globe

Doctors failing to prescribe generic drugs to their patients may soon face fines, a government minister said on Saturday.

Agung Laksono, the coordinating minister for people’s welfare, said all government health facilities and employees must prescribe and make available generic drugs for their patients.

Generic drugs are more affordable than brand-name medications but are just as effective.

“The only reason brand-name drugs cost more than generic ones is because of production costs, especially costs relating to research, promotion and packaging,” he said.

“The use of generic drugs helps patients to get a discount when they need expensive treatment,” he added.

Agung said a 2010 Health Ministry regulation, which has yet to be widely enforced, made it mandatory for state health facilities to use generic drugs unless none were available.

“The regional governments will monitor the usage of generic drugs,” he added.

He said that doctors or pharmacists at state facilities found not prescribing or providing generics drugs would be issued up to three verbal warnings before being slapped with an administrative fine.

Prijo Sidipratomo, the chairman of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI), said on Sunday that he feared the regulation would not be 100 percent effective in promoting the use of generic drugs and reducing treatment costs for patients.

The association supports the idea of issuing an administrative fine to doctors who fail to prescribe generic drugs to their patients, he said.

However, “If the public hospital does not have the generic version of the drug, the doctor should still be able to prescribe the brand-name medication to the patient.”

Prijo said the best solution to control and promote the use of generic drugs was to improve distribution management and implement universal public health care as soon as possible.

The planned public health insurance scheme would only cover medication listed by the insurance company. Therefore it would be easier to monitor which doctors did not prescribe generic drugs, he said.

Prijo said that Indonesia has around 100,000 doctors spread across the nation. Most are concentrated in Java and resource-rich provinces such as Riau and East Kalimantan.

Prijo said that with universal public health insurance doctors working in state health institutions would receive the same income “whether they worked in remote or rich areas.”

Unfortunately, he said, the government was lagging in implementation of the scheme. The bill on social security, also known as BPJS, is still being deliberated at the House of Representatives.

Rally Rages Outside Bogor Court Trial on Ahmadiyah Village Attack

The Jakarta Globe

Bogor. Over 1,000 Muslim hard-liners surrounded a district court in Bogor on Wednesday, demanding the immediate release of three youths standing trial for an attack on an Ahmadiyah community last year.

Dede Novi, 18, Aldi Afriansyah, 23, and Akbar Ramanda, 17, are accused of destroying property and inciting violence during an October riot in Cisalada village, according to indictment documents.

The three were said to be part of a mob that burned down houses, schools and a mosque at the Bogor village, home to 600 members of the Ahmadiyah, a minority Islamic sect deemed deviant by mainstream Muslims for their different beliefs on the Prophet Muhammad.

The crowds that came out in support of the defendants on Wednesday, however, slammed these accusations.

Though police had barred them from entering the courtroom, the protesters reportedly “became incensed” when the defendants’ lawyer told them about a witness who said Dede had set the At-Taufiq Mosque and an Ahmadiyah Koran on fire.

Ari Saputra, a resident in Cisalada, testified on Wednesday that Dede could have thrown a Molotov cocktail at the mosque.

“I cannot be sure that he really was the one who threw the Molotov cocktail, but I saw that he was part of the group,” Ari told the court, led by Judge Astriwati.

Dede, however, denied throwing the fire bomb, but admitted at the hearing that he was part of the group which set the village mosque on fire.

A second witness, Mubarik Ahmad, a Cisalada resident and an Ahmadi, said he saw the three defendants break into and torch the mosque.

“I saw them. They were among hundreds who came to our village that night and attacked. They were brutal,” Mubarik said. “They threw stones at the mosque, broke its windows and set it on fire. Others came on motorbikes and made noises with their horns.

“They burned and destroyed so much property in our village,” he added. “That evening, our only concern was how to stay alive.”

After being informed of Mubarik’s statements, the angry crowds outside the courtroom began to yell out that the witness was a liar.

Protesters also tried to attack Mubarik as he left the courtroom under tight police guard.

Amid Wednesday’s unrest, hundreds of security personnel were deployed to Cisalada and the Cibinong District Court, where the trial was held.

The three defendants are accused of violating the Criminal Code, particularly Article 406 on the destruction of property and Article 170 on assault.

Article 406 carries a maximum sentence of two years and eight months in jail, while Article 170 carries a punishment of up to five years and six months.

Agus Sulaiman, one of the protesters, said the people of Bogor would “never accept the presence of the Ahmadiyah.”

“What is worse is that they built an Ahmadiyah information center in our village,” said Agus, a resident of Ciampea subdistrict.

“If they don’t stop this, we will stop them. We will burn their properties,” he said. “They call themselves followers of Islam. This is what we cannot accept.”

Agus said many conservative Muslims in the area detested the sect for believing that Ahmadiyah founder Mirza Gulam Ahmad was the last prophet.

This runs counter to mainstream Islamic beliefs which reserve that distinction for the Prophet Muhammad.

Fishers’ Empty Nets a Indonesia Disaster: Activists

The Jakarta Globe

Environmental activists on Tuesday called on the Indonesian government to declare the inability of fishing families nationwide to earn a living because of months of bad weather a national disaster.

“The national disaster status is crucial because it would smoothen the coordination process between the central government and the regional government for the distribution of relief aid,” said Riza Damanik, the secretary general of the Fisheries Justice Coalition (Kiara).

Raising the current social disaster status to national disaster would allow the state to provide more relief assistance to the affected fishermen.

“The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency [BMKG] has said the bad weather will last at least until April,” Riza said.

Earlier, the Social Affairs Ministry had said that to help nearly 474,000 fishermen — and their families — whose livelihoods have been affected, the maritime affairs and fisheries minister, Fadel Muhammad, had asked district heads and governors to dip into rice reserves and funds from the Social Affairs Ministry.

Salim Segaf Al Jufri, the social affairs minister, said his ministry had already distributed about Rp 540 billion ($60 million) in development funds to regional governments to help the fishermen and their families.

However, environmental watchdogs say this isn’t enough, arguing that the government first has to get its numbers right.

Selamet Daryoni, the director of urban environment at the Indonesian Green Institute, questioned the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries’ data on the number of fishermen.

“The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, for instance, has only listed 3,084 fishermen in the Thousand Islands and Muara Angke [in Jakarta],” Slamet said. But he added there were other fishing villages in Jakarta, with more than 6,000 fishermen in places such as Marunda, Muara Baru, Kali Baru, Cilincing, Muara Tawar and Kamal Muara.

“If more than 6,000 fishermen living only 20 kilometers from the Presidential Palace are ignored by the government, what about the other fishermen in other parts of Indonesia?” he said.

The government’s mistakes in this regard, Slamet suggested, should not be tolerated. Oversights could have disastrous effects on the lives of thousands of citizens, he said.

Riza concurred, adding that many more fishing families were suffering than the government suggested. He said the actual number of fishermen across the country who had been unable to catch fish in the past months was far larger than what the state had estimated.

He said that at least 550,000 fishermen in 53 districts and municipalities across the archipelago had been affected by freakish weather conditions.

“At the moment the government only provides 13,721 tons of rice every two weeks,” he said, adding that more was needed.

Riza also said inaccurate data would influence the kind and amount of aid the government would provide.

“The government needs to do a lot more to help out more than 550,000 fishermen and women during bad weather conditions,” said Tejo Wahyu Jatmiko, the coordinator of the Alliance for Prosperous Villages.

Dedy Ramanta, the national secretary of the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen’s Association (KNTI), criticized the government for only reacting to deteriorating conditions and not preparing a long-term strategy to deal with the effects of climate change, especially for fishermen whose livelihood options are limited.

“The government needs to implement an insurance program and also give capital assistance so they can build small businesses,” he added.

Tiharom, 35, a traditional fisherman from Marunda in North Jakarta, said that in order to feed his family, he was now making sandals and doormats from garment industry waste.

He said that as a fisherman he could earn up to Rp 80,000 in one outing, enough to feed his family of six.

“However, now that the bad weather has really stopped me from going out to sea, I am trying to build a small business by turning garment waste into strong ropes and then producing sandals and doormats,” he said.

However, supply of materials and marketing posed serious problems, he added.

“I am not sure if this job will go anywhere or whether it will just keep me busy during the bad weather,” he said.

Hard-Liner Suspected of Bekasi Church Attack Turns on the Tears

The Jakarta Globe

Indonesia. A virulent Islamic hard-liner who incited others to attack a church community in Bekasi stunned judges and the gallery at his trial on Monday by bursting into tears and advocating social harmony.

Murhali Barda, the suspended head of the Bekasi chapter of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), had none of his usual fiery calls for violence.

After requesting time to express his thoughts from the presiding judge, Wasdi Permana, the defendant began to weep. Prosecutors have accused Murhali of inciting the attack through text messages and speeches on the radio as well as updates from his personal Facebook page.

On Monday, though, he said: “We have to maintain harmony in society. We would not have bothered the other group if only the other group had not bothered us. All we want is to live our lives in peace without disturbing others.”

As pin-drop silence followed, judges, prosecutors and lawyers stared at him in shock.

Murhali’s mother, in the audience, sobbed as well, as did other court visitors.

The FPI strongman is one of 13 standing trial for the stabbing of Asia Sihombing and beating of the Rev. Luspida Simandjuntak, both leaders of the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP), in Bekasi on Sept. 12 last year.

The attack took place as the congregation was its way to Ciketing, where it had been holding services after authorities sealed off the house it was using as a church in nearby Pondok Timur Indah.

Murhali said he had approached Luspida to ask her not to hold services in Ciketing.

“But she simply refused to listen to me,” he said.

Murhali, who faces up to seven years in jail, added, “It is hard for us residents of Bekasi to accept outsiders, particularly because the majority of us are Muslims and we are a tight community.”

Indonesia Court Ruling Fails To Stop Hard-Line Islamic Protests

The Jakarta Globe

Indonesia. Hundreds of Islamic hard-liners attended a mass prayer session on Sunday near the sealed building of the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI Yasmin) in Bogor, calling for the rejection of the Christian congregation’s request to use the church for worship.

The prayer session took place on Jalan KH Abdullah bin Nuh in West Bogor, the same road where the church building stands. The protest comes just a little over a week after the Supreme Court announced that it had rejected the Bogor city administration’s request to uphold the revocation of GKI Yasmin’s building permit.

The church remained sealed on Sunday in spite of the court ruling. The congregation was forced to relocate its Sunday service to the Harmoni Center building, located some 300 meters away from the sealed church.

“We are holding our services at Harmoni Center because the local administration has yet to unseal our church, even though the Supreme Court ruling has instructed it to do so. It is clear to us that the administration is united with fundamental Islamic mass organizations, because [Islamic hard-liners] are actually holding a prayer session [near the church] to intimidate us,” spokesman for GKI Yasmin, Bona Sigalingging, told the Globe.

“Instead of disbanding the prayer session, the local police and Bogor administration have actually provided [the Muslims] with security, and have given them a permit to hold the prayer session close to our church. And to top it all off, the topic of their prayer session is apostasy.”

Bona added that the congregation would not stop fighting for their rights. “We have won the [legal] case and we want our rights. Next week we will see the Bogor city administration to grant us our rights. If they do not open our church, we will open it by ourselves as the Supreme Court has rejected their request,” Bona said.

The Supreme Court’s announcement follows the church’s arduous battle spanning nearly a decade with both the Bogor administration and local Islamic hard-liners for the right to use its place of worship.

The congregation, which consists of more than 300 members, has been forced to hold its services across the road from the church, which has stood unfinished since it was last sealed off in March 2010. That came after the church had struggled with the local administration for nine years for permission to build its church in West Bogor.

Sunday’s mass prayer session saw hard-liners condemning GKI Yasmin’s congregation for violating the 2006 joint ministerial decree on Houses of Worship.

The decree requires any planning application for a place of worship to have the approval of at least 60 residents in the immediate vicinity, copies of 90 identity cards from congregation members and written recommendations from the local offices of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interreligious Communication Forum (FKUB).

“They are in violation of the 2006 decree,” said Ahmad Iman, chairman of the Indonesian Muslim Communication Forum (Forkami), at the scene.

“Ever since they planned to build a church at Taman Yasmin, we have expressed our disagreement. Yet somehow they managed to get themselves a building permit issued by the administration, by paying off local residents in return for signatures on a blank form, agreeing to the building of the church.”

Muhammad Ajus, a local resident of Cijahe in the area, admitted that he was one of the locals paid off by the leader of GKI Yasmin Congregation.

“I was tricked by the leader of GKI Yasmin Congregation. I was asked to sign on a blank form and I was given Rp 100,000 [$11] in exchange,” Ajus said.

“Later, I realized that I had been paid to support the church to get a building permit, while actually I did not agree to it. The majority of the society here is Muslim. We don’t need a church.”

Ahmad accused the administration of failing to conduct a “fact check” on the signatures with local residents.

“We are Muslims. We are not stupid people who can be bought off with money! We are not anarchists. We are gathering here peacefully to reject the agenda of apostasy, but in a peaceful way,” Ahmad said.

This is not the first time the GKI Yasmin has won a battle in court. A State Administrative Court [PTUN] also ruled in favor of the church permit in 2009. Back in August 2010, the Bogor administration’s Public Order Agency officers, armed with a letter from the local administration, decided to implement the PTUN ruling and unseal the church, only to seal it up again a day later, citing the reason used previously to close it — the locals were getting restless.

The congregation has struggled to convince the local administration to allow their church to be built since 2001.

A building permit was issued in July 2006 but then frozen by the local administration in February 2008. The State Administrative Courts in Jakarta and Bandung both ruled in favor of the church and in January 2010 construction resumed briefly before the church was sealed again in March.

Muhammad Zein from the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) cited Islamic Shariah law as the only solution to the issue of the church’s construction in Bogor.

“If [Shariah law] were implemented in Indonesia, there would be no case of GKI Yasmin. The church was not accepted by the community but it managed to secure a building permit. Indonesia’s ‘one village, one church’ policy will foster apostasy in future generations,” Zein said.

The Big 7 In Political Moving, Shaking

The Jakarta Globe

Charta Politika on Wednesday presented awards to seven people considered to be the most influential of the past year in the sphere of politics.

According to Luvie Triadi, Charta Politika’s director, the winners were chosen after the political research institute monitored six Indonesian newspapers and more than 10,000 articles to analyze how much they influenced the media in 2010.

Burhanuddin Muhtadi, a senior researcher from the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI), was awarded most influential political activist.

Alex Noerdin, the governor of South Sumatra, was awarded most covered regional chief for his role in securing the 26th SEA Games for the province.

Golkar Party’s Priyo Budi Santoso was recognized as the most noted politician from the ruling coalition for his comments on the Bank Century case.

Pramono Anung, from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), was awarded for his role as an opposition lawmaker in driving the discourse on the bill reviewing Yogyakarta’s special status.

Gamawan Fauzi, the minister of home affairs, was judged the most quoted minister, while Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra Hamzah, deputies from the Corruption Eradication Commission, were recognized for the attention their extensive legal battles drew.

Former Vice President Jusuf Kalla received a lifetime achievement award for his contributions over the years to driving the political debate.

The former Golkar chairman said the relationship between politicians and the media was very much give and take.

“The media plays a big role in informing the government. I’ve never shied away from meeting journalists because they help put us in touch with the public so we can build trust,” he said.

This is the second time Charta Politika has staged the awards.

Women’s Activist Gives ‘Posturing’ Female Politicians a Dressing Down

The Jakarta Globe

Female legislators and regional heads are failing to use their positions to promote gender equality, a women’s rights activist said on Tuesday.

Dwi Windyastuti, a researcher from Surabaya’s Airlangga University, said most Indonesian women tended to enter politics simply to enhance their social standing rather than champion women’s causes.

“Affluent businesswomen are more likely than other women to enter politics, which is due to the high cost of vying for public office, particularly a position as regional head,” she said.

“As a consequence, their motivation for getting into politics is more about gaining personal prestige than about improving social standards through a gender-based perspective.”

She added women in politics tended to emulate their male peers by prioritizing position and power over all else.

“Once these women get their positions, they forget that they’re meant to represent the country’s women,” Dwi said.

“They forget that they should be fighting for gender equality by addressing domestic violence, championing reproductive health awareness and ending human trafficking.”

Meanwhile, a 2010 UN Development Program Indonesia report points out that only 17.32 percent of seats at the House of Representatives (DPR) are occupied by women, up from 11.8 percent prior to the 2009 elections.

The report said there is only one woman among the country’s 33 governors — Ratu Atut Chosiyah of Banten province — along with 38 female district heads and five female ministers.

Angelina Sondakh, a House legislator and deputy secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party, said that while they remain outnumbered by men in politics, women are now increasingly taking up more important positions.

“In the past, you’d rarely see women serve in strategic positions, but now [female legislators’ roles] are improving,” she said.

She added that political parties should not only be concerned about meeting the quota to assign 30 percent of their House seats to women, they should also give them key positions in the party and the House.

However, Eva Kusuma Sundari, from the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) said that “We still have a long way to go if female politicians are to play a role as agents of change.”

Indonesia Church ‘Warned’ of Attack

The Jakarta Globe

Jakarta. An official from Bekasi’s secretariat on Monday accused the leaders of a local church of failing to heed repeated warnings from the city administration to move their prayer services away from an empty field because it might incite conflict.

Testifying as a witness in the trial of 13 men accused of assaulting two leaders of the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) in Bekasi, Zaki Oetomo told the Bekasi District Court that the attack on Asia Sihombing and the Rev. Luspida Simandjuntak occurred because they had ignored requests to use another venue.

During the Sept. 12 assault, Asia was stabbed while Luspida was beaten with a bamboo stick.

One of the defendants standing trial is Murhali Barda, the suspended leader of the Bekasi chapter of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

The incident occurred as the congregation was on its way to a vacant lot in Ciketing, where it had been holding services after authorities sealed off the residential house it was using as a church in Pondok Timur Indah.

Zaki confirmed that the city administration had instructed the congregation on July 9 to no longer use the house, while permission was granted for the congregation to instead use its vacant lot in Ciketing.

“But ever since we allowed them to hold their services there, there have been continuous demonstrations from local residents in Ciketing,” Zaki told the court.

“We, from the administration, continued to monitor the situation. I personally went there three times to monitor what was going on,” he added.

“We learned that the situation was getting worse each time, so Bekasi’s deputy mayor advised the congregation to move their prayer services to a building on Jalan Chairil Anwar in East Bekasi. This request was made official through a letter the city issued on July 21.”

Zaki said he regretted the attitude of the church’s leaders for ignoring the administration’s advice. “If they had listened to us, this incident would not have occurred. The administration advised them to move, not because we were denying them their religious rights; We were genuinely worried about their security.”

The trial was adjourned until Thursday.

In a separate development, the Cibinong District Court in Bogor on Monday began the trial of three men for an attack on the Ahmadiyah community in October last year. The incident saw a mob of hundreds ransack and burn down houses, schools and a mosque in Cisalada village, home to 600 followers of the minority sect, which is deemed deviant by many mainstream Muslims.

The defendants, Dede Novi, 18, Aldi, 18, and Akbar, 17, were charged them with destruction of property and violence.

News portal VIVAnews reported that thousands of supporters of the three arrived at the court in minibuses, demanding their release. The hearing was adjourned till next Wednesday.

Dozens of police and military personnel guarded the Cisalada village on Monday in case of an attack

Moratorium Putting Maids Out of Work, Activists Say

The Jakarta Globe

The government moratorium on sending Indonesian domestic migrant workers to Malaysia has worsened the unemployment situation in the country, as alternative jobs have not been provided for the thousands of workers slated to leave for Malaysia, activists said on Sunday.

Speaking at a women’s rights seminar in Jakarta on Sunday, Thaufiek Zulbahary, head of the migration program division from the group Women’s Solidarity for Human Rights (Solidaritas Perempuan), said imposing the ban was a responsive move but not the best solution to tackle violence against Indonesian migrant workers.

“The government does not care about what happens to the workers [barred from leaving for Malaysia in 2009]. The workers were simply sent back to their villages without being given any alternative prospects for employment,” Thaufiek said.

“The reason those workers chose to look for jobs in Malaysia as domestic helpers in the first place was because they had no opportunities in other sectors in their home country,” she added.

The moratorium has been in place since 2009, when an increasing number of cases of abuse against Indonesian domestic workers sparked outrage in the country.

Malaysia and Indonesia are still in the process of discussing terms and conditions for the moratorium to be lifted.

According to the National Board for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Overseas Workers (BNP2TKI), approximately 36,000 workers were barred from leaving for Malaysia in June 2009 when the moratorium was implemented.

The House of Representatives was scheduled to revise the 2004 Law on the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Workers Abroad in 2010, but the bill is still pending.

Roostiawati, head of foreign cooperation at the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration’s directorate for overseas worker placement, said the government had no plans to revoke the moratorium in the near future.

“We will only revoke the moratorium on sending migrant workers to Malaysia once we have improved the system for protecting our workers,” she said.

“Ensuring the protection of our migrant workers will require cooperation from other departments and ministries.”

Roostiawati said that from January this year, her ministry would be working in partnership with labor-intensive sectors on plans to absorb the prospective migrant workers into domestic industries.

The ministry is currently researching the industry potential of 159 districts in West Java, Central Java and West Nusa Tenggara where many applicants for overseas work come from.

The ministry hopes to accommodate potential migrant workers in factories, agriculture, plantations and handicrafts so they will not need to look for work abroad