We now have more clarity from Manpower Minister, Muhammad Hanif Dhakiri. Dhakiri has announced that proficiency in the Indonesian language will be a requirement for both existing expatriates in Indonesia and prospective foreign workers.
Hanif said his ministry was planning to establish some kind of online Indonesian language proficiency test for expat workers. Actually, he said that in January too, and mentioned that it would be starting in February. It is now March and the test has still not been made, but anyone could have seen that coming. In previous posts we suggested that it would not appear for many months due to bureaucratic incompetence. The truly new information here is that it will apply to existing expatriates too, something which had been the subject of considerable conjecture on expat forums.
Dhakiri also continued to whine about the unfairness of the world, saying that Indonesians heading for Japan needed to learn Japanese, so how was it fair that expats in Indonesia couldn’t speak Bahasa? In addition, he repeated the same allegations that he made last time, namely that expats don’t know any more Indonesian than “Selamat pagi” (Good Morning) and “Terima kasih” (Thank you). This is a gross generalization, and one wonders how many expat workers Dhakiri actually speaks to, but let’s not even dignify this whole thing by pretending it is about more than xenophobia and prejudice anyway.
At this point it would seem that the best that non-Bahasa-speaking expats can hope for is that the Manpower Ministry will take many months in creating this test. There is also the possibility that there will be loopholes in the procedure, and that businesses who make a ”gift” to Manpower will be able to employ non-Indonesian speaking foreigners. But for Indonesia’s language schools, this is another headache they certainly didn’t need.