Migrant workers' welfare turns hot election topic

Migrant workers' welfare turns hot election topic
Satinah Jumadi Ahmad is on death row for killing her employer in Saudi Arabia.

JAKARTA - Three Indonesian candidates vying for support from overseas voters have called for more to be done to improve the welfare of more than six million Indonesian migrant workers abroad.

They touch on an issue that has gripped the nation as yet another Indonesian domestic worker faces the death penalty in Saudi Arabia for killing her employer.

The candidates' focus on this issue stands out in an election campaign for the April 9 parliamentary elections that has few concrete policy issues otherwise.

"For the past 10 years, since I was in school, I have seen nothing change on this issue," said National Mandate Party's (PAN) first-time candidate Yoga Dirga Cahya, 27.

"Coming up again now, this issue gives an opportunity to Indonesians to really question whether any legislator wants to fight for better policies to safeguard the welfare of these maids."

The subject of abused domestic workers abroad arouses intense passions back home.

The April 3 execution in Saudi Arabia of Satinah Jumadi Ahmad, a maid from Central Java, has hogged headlines.

Pressure from the public is mounting for the government to settle the seven million riyal (S$2.4 million) blood money compensation demanded by her victim's family. Only four million riyal have been raised.

This election season has seen the issue being politicised.

Ms Anis Hidayah, executive director of Jakarta-based Migrant Care that organised the panel discussion involving the three candidates yesterday, said she invited them to the discussion to give wider publicity to the issue.

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