G-G talk urged to tackle shortage of workers

Jokowi (centre) addresses his countrymen at the Indoor Stadium. On his right is Ariyanto.

KUCHING: Rusdi Kirana the Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia has suggested that the Malaysian government form a special taskforce for a government-to-government (G-G) meeting with his government to address the shortage of plantation workers in Sarawak reportedly due to the Indonesian government controlling the outflow of their citizens to work overseas.

He said he understood the problems faced by the plantation sector in Malaysia and hoped for a proper meeting to address the issue.

He said it was not appropriate to ask his president (Joko Widodo) directly on such issue when met at the Indoor Stadium here yesterday.

He had come to meet his countrymen in the state.

Rusdi was among members of Jokowi’s high-level delegation visiting the state capital yesterday.

When asked to comment on the (labour shortage) issue reportedly due to the control from Indonesia side to issue permits for their workers to work overseas, the Indonesian Council-General in Kuching, Jahar Gultom said his president had a tight schedule during his one-day trip here, and it would not be possible to get any comment from him on the matter.

Jokowi’s visit was welcomed by more than 7,000 Indonesians workers at the Indoor Stadium in Petrajaya.

Many of them came by bus from as far as Miri, Bintulu and Sibu.

Most of the Indonesian workers in Sarawak are involved with the plantation sector.

A member of the audience, named Ariyanto who is working at a plantation in Sibu,  invited to the stage to talk to the president, told the president  he was getting a monthly income of RM1,500 and he is able to send RM1,000 per month to his family back home in Indonesia.

Jokowi told him: “I am very happy for you. I hope you can work harder so that you can earn more and save more for your family.”

The Speaker and minister-in-attendance Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar accompanied the president during the ‘Temu Kangen President RI’ (meeting the president of Indonesia).

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