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Indonesia urged to strengthen background checks on migrant workers
Central News Agency
2014-06-25 09:18 PM
Jakarta, June 25 (CNA) The Indonesian government has been urged to strengthen measures to check on the identification and background of every migrant worker to ensure the high quality of the laborers it exports. Rahmadi Sunoko, an official responsible for human resource affairs in the Southeast Asian country's Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, made the call Wednesday after Indonesian naval ships intercepted a Taiwanese fishing boat, minus its skipper, in waters close to the Indonesian island of Lombok earlier in the day. The Kuo Jung No. 333, registered in Donggang, Pingtung County, was suspected of having been hijacked by its 12 Indonesian crewmen after its owner lost contact June 19 with skipper Chen Chih-wen, the only Taiwanese on board. Upon boarding the ship for a check, the Indonesian naval personnel discovered no sign of Chen. In a preliminary investigation, the Indonesian fishery workers claimed that the skipper went missing after falling overboard when they were operating in rough seas close to the Solomon Islands. The timeline of the incident was between June 19-20, according to the crew. Sunoko said he doubted the veracity of their account. In an interview with CNA, the Indonesian official suggested that the Taiwanese government and its representative office in Indonesia should ask the Indonesian authorities to probe the case and establish the truth. If any of the crew are found to have committed a crime, they should face justice, Sunoko said. He also suggested that the Indonesian government demand migrant workers to take Mandarin Chinese courses before setting off for Taiwan to work. Even if they learn the language for only a few weeks, it would make communication with their Taiwanese bosses easier for the workers, who are hired to do heavy manual work on fishing ships and who are required to stay on the boats for long periods of time, Sunoko said. Poor communication between foreign workers and their skippers is often the main culprit behind conflicts at sea, he said. If the Kuo Jung No. 333 is determined to have been hijacked by its Indonesian crew, it will not be the first case of its kind. In July 2013, the Taiwanese skipper and chief engineer of the Te Hung Hsing No. 368 fishing boat, registered in Suao, Yilan County, went missing and are believed to have been killed by the vessel's Indonesian crew. Six Indonesians were indicted by Yilan district prosecutors on charges of murder. This year, the Liouciou, Pingtung-registered fishing boat the Fu Fa No. 12, was reported in March to have lost contact with its Taiwanese owner. The Liouciou District Fishermen's Association has speculated that this vessel might also have been hijacked by its Indonesian crew. The Fu Fa No. 12 has still not been accounted for. (By Jay Chou and Elizabeth Hsu)
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