Indonesia to impose language requirement for expat workers
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Indonesia to impose language requirement for expat workers

INDONESIA’S government is looking to introduce language learning requirements under changes to its work visa scheme.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that a decree issued from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will simplify the process of issuing work permits to foreigners, while also introducing a requirement for foreigners to undergo formal Indonesian language training.

It would be the first country in Southeast Asia to do so. Levels of English literacy are relatively low in Indonesia.

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“Our businesses want to be here and want to invest, but what they also want are predictable rules,” A. Lin Neumann, managing director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia told the Times.

The rule “sends a negative message that foreigners are somehow unwelcome,” he said.

“I think this is foolish; it’s stupid. It lacks clarity on what the objective is,” the former chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Suryo B. Sulisto said. “What are they trying to do — stop investment coming in? … It’s counterproductive.”

The Times report drew mixed responses online. Some argued it would simply produce more “red tape” and encourage corruption, while others said the reform was normal by world standards with many countries imposing language requirements for foreign workers.

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The UK, meanwhile, last week announced it would be loosening immigration requirements for Indonesian students, who will no longer be required to provide evidence of finances, qualifications or English language ability, according to Indonesia’s news agency Antara.

“This simplification of the UK visa process for Indonesian students is great news for thousands of young people starting courses this autumn and for those considering to take up studies in the UK in years to come,” said British Ambassador Moazzam Malik.

“I am proud that the quality of our education is continuing to attract the brightest and best from Indonesia and am grateful for the contribution they make to education in Britain.”