BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - Indonesian expatriates here yesterday expressed their hopes for their newly elected president Joko Widodo to continue the good bilateral ties with Brunei for them to reap the benefits by continuing to stay and work here.
The Indonesian president, his wife Datin Iriana and other top ranking officials arrived in the country yesterday morning for a two-day state visit.
The Royal Wharf in Bandar Seri Begawan was teeming with excited Indonesian families and employees eagerly waiting for their president' s arrival from his visit to Kampong Ayer yesterday afternoon.
Majority of those interviewed by The Brunei Times expressed optimism that the relationship between Brunei and Indonesia would continue to be strong and stable as both countries share so similarities in terms of religion, language and culture.
Ferial Ferari, a senior programmer at Mint Sdn Bhd, said that he hoped the relations would improve further, particularly in terms of policies in human resources.
He hoped for non-skilled workers such as housemaids to be treated farily with regard to salaries and other benefits.
Ferial, who has been working in Brunei for four years, went on to say that he was looking forward for this country to hire more skilled Indonesians to narrow the gap between skilled and unskilled workers.
"I hope there will be more policies and regulations in terms of bringing in Indonesian professionals to contribute to Brunei's growth," he said.
According to the study carried out by three non-government organisations - the Brunei' Council on Social Welfare, Solidaritas Perempuan of Indonesia, and the Women's Legal Bureau of the Philippines - there are 17,727 Indonesian domestic workers in the Sultanate in 2012.
The three NGOS are members of the Southeast Asian Women's Caucus.
Likewise, 2012 statistics from the Indonesian Embassy here shows that there are 913 of their nationals working as professionals.
Meanwhile, Opan Basori, who works as a farmer at padi farming in Kg Junjungan, said Brunei and Indonesia have been in good terms especially when it comes to manpower demand.
"Brunei needs workers from Indonesia, while Indonesia needs Brunei to be hired. Together we are helping each other," said the 35-yaer-old, who has been here for three years.
He praised the Brunei's Immigration and National Registration Department for their swift processing of legal documents needed by migrant workers such as the overseas employment cards (KTLN).
"Both of us (Bruneian and Indonesian), majority of the populations are Muslim. It's easy for us to help each other," added Opan.
Another Indonesian expatriate, Siti Khotimatus Sa'adah, food server at the Singapore Chicken Rice in the capital, said that as a Javanese ethnic group in Indonesia, she was proud to see Javanese Jokowi to be able to represent Indonesia and to meet with one of the great sultans in the world.
"When the bond between two great leaders in the world share the same people-centric leadership, I think that's important to reduce unemployment in both countries," said the 31-year-old.
According to embassy officials, as of 2014 there are a total of 70,000 Indonesians staying in Brunei.