TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Head of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) Thomas Tri Kasih Lembong urged the public not to be affected by the rumor of mass foreign workers flooding Indonesia. The exaggerated uneasiness related to the use of foreign workers is counter-productive to the government's attempt in attracting foreign investors.
Thomas reminded the public to discuss the matter proportionally. "Don't let the obsession of the issue regarding foreign workers blur our focus on much more important and critical issues, such as our attempt to increase Indonesian workers' competitiveness," Thomas said on Thursday, January 12, 2017.
The government, according to Thomas, understands the importance of foreign workers in guaranteeing the sustainability of foreign projects. Thomas added that the use of foreign workers will only be apparent in the early stages of a project, such as the first and second year, and will gradually decrease and would eventually be sent home on their fourth year.
"They would start to divert their control to Indonesian workers," Thomas said.
Thomas, who is a former Trade Minister, said that the amount of foreign workers in Indonesia can be considered small compared to neighboring countries such as Singapore and Thailand. According to Thomas, foreign workers constituted around 20 percent of the total of workers in Singapore, while Malaysia has more than five percent of foreign workers, similar with Thailand.
"[Indonesia] only have 0.1 percent of [foreign workers], so we're a little left behind compared to other competing countries in utilizing foreign workers," Thomas said. "We're a large nation. We have 254 million citizens, why should we be afraid of foreigners on our own land? We can't be."