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Type: Thesis
Title: Indonesian labour migration to Sabah: changes, trends and impacts.
Author: Sayed Mahadi, Syed Abdul Razak Bin
Issue Date: 2014
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences
Abstract: This thesis is concerned with low-skilled Indonesian labour migration to Sabah East Malaysia that is driven by multi-sectoral developmental activities, particularly in plantations and agriculture. The flow of Indonesian workers that began before Sabah’s independence in 1963 has grown especially during the 1990s parallel with Sabah’s economic development facilitated by a well established network system that allows entrance to Sabah through legal, semi-legal and illegal channels. Indonesian labour migration to Sabah has become more complex with the state government’s inability to implement temporary migration policies which consequently has allowed migrants to stay longer than their contracts permit, bring family members with them and form family units. In addition, the granting of fast-track citizenship for political reasons is believed to attract more migrants to Sabah. This study has three main parts namely changes, trends and impacts of Indonesian labour migration to Sabah. It begins with an analysis of internal changes in Malaysia generally, and Sabah specifically; that involves rapid economic development, improvement in education and changes in workforce structure initiated by New Economic Policy (NEP) implemented in 1970. As a result, Sabah had to depend on foreign workers to fill jobs eschewed by the locals. Migrants continue to play an important role to help keep production costs low and remain competitive in global markets. The selectivity of the Indonesian migration flow is examined through an analysis of the characteristics, reasons and decisions to migrate and migration strategies which are part of the migration trends of Indonesian labour migration. Historical links and geographical proximity between the two countries; as well as physical characteristics, culture and language similarity between Indonesians and Malays are part of the reason Indonesians choose Sabah as a destination. The role of social networks in pre, during and post migration stages facilitate and smooth the process of recruitment and movement. Growth of a migration industry that comprises several layers of intermediaries who facilitate illegal movement further sustains the migration flow between the two countries. The presence of Indonesian migrants has had economic and non-economic impacts to both origin and destination. The tendency of bringing family members and full family formation is another distinct feature that has impacts on remittance behaviour as well as health and education services. The sensitive issue of granting citizenship to migrants that contributes to changes in the demographic structure and ethnic balance in Sabah is often associated with political interest and survival of the ruling party. All these contribute to the dynamics and complexity of the Indonesia-Sabah labour migration corridor discussed in this study. Although importation of foreign labour is seen by government largely as a short-term measure to solve labour shortages, dependency on labour migrants will possibly become a permanent feature in Malaysia. It is impossible to provide a sufficient local workforce in export industries in the current situation and the near future, hence the importance of international migration. Therefore, it is crucial for government agencies that handle employment of foreign workers to move from a policing model to a management model of migration. To benefit from the Malaysia-Indonesia labour migration corridor, both countries should cooperate to improve the sending and receiving migrant workers. Legal employment should be made less complicated and costly to attract more migrants choosing the legal channel to overcome illegal migration problems.
Advisor: Hugo, Graeme John
Rudd, Dianne M.
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2014
Keywords: Indonesian labour migration; labour migration; migration to Sabah; Malaysia's economic development and labour migration
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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