Lost in Translation
Under a controversial ‘new’ proposal, foreigners working in Indonesia would need to master the Indonesian language in order to work in Indonesia. Earlier this month, Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri revealed that soon, foreign workers would have to complete the Test of Indonesian as a Foreign Language, which is currently being developed by his ministry. The proposed regulations are likely to apply to all foreign workers, including those employed by natural resources companies. In a move aimed at boosting knowledge transfer between foreign and local workers.
The examination will be part of a new set of requirements that will determine the eligibility of a foreigner to work in the archipelago. It is included in the ongoing revision of a 2013 Manpower Ministry regulation, which the minister hopes would be completed sometime within the next month.
Early drafts of the new rules – which have yet to be formally introduced – require foreigners to be proficient in the Indonesian language before a work permit will be issued. Subsequent drafts seem to include some flexibility, however nonetheless large multi-national companies are fearful that even vital senior executives, who rotate through head offices on three to four year tours, could be at risk.
On a preliminary basis, ministry officials have advised that the test will be a condition to applying for a work permit and will cover basic language skills, with full time technical or administrative roles commanding a higher level of proficiency than non-executive director or commissioner positions, for example.
Mr Dhakiri added that the government would tighten regulations concerning expatriate workers in Indonesia in order to protect the local workforce from an influx of foreigners seeking their share of jobs. Data from the Manpower Ministry showed that as of October 2014 there was a total of 64,604 foreign workers registered in Indonesia. The largest number of those workers come from China, amounting to 15,341 people, followed by Japan (10,183) and South Korea (7,678).
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