10 January 2009

Legal in Jakarta?

Every year the City Population and Civil Registration Agency send their inspectors to do the rounds of businesses employing foreigners in order, supposedly, to check that their paperwork is all squared away.

This "inspection" has also been a traditional annual under the table money spinner as there are invariably a good number of businesses and foreigners who believe they will never get caught and do not bother to get the myriad of paperwork and permits completed.

This year the Agency found 55 of the 241 expats across 62 different companies that they surveyed / inspected did not have their paperwork in order. Assuming that this is an accurate reflection of the numbers and not just the ones being reported, then this is a rate of more than 1 in 5 without the right paperwork and therefore technically working illegally in Indonesia. Stupid.

The simple reality is that all the countries that I have ever visited or worked in have had in place strict regulations governing foreign or expat labor. To expect that Indonesia is any different is naive and to assume that everything remains "fixable" is not good risk management.

The Agency seems to have been generous this year as it did not impose the sanctions it could have done on the illegal workers, but rather gave them a grace period to get their paperwork in order.

According to Agency data there are some 49,000 foreigners with work visas and a further 5,000 who would be classified as permanent residents (five continuous years or more) living and working in Jakarta. I have got to say that I can imagine that it is that many but I also have to say that I have never seen more than a hundred or so gathered in any one place at one time (usually a business networking meeting). So, I wonder where they all are and what they are doing?

But, back to the point. I really do not see what is so hard with understanding that as guests in this country we are required to comply with the prevailing laws and regulations. Admittedly, immigration is a bureaucratic challenge but it is a challenge that can be overcome. It is interesting to me that many of my colleagues talk about corruption in Indonesia but have no problem with paying 50K here or 20K there to get some forms to fill in that are free or 30k for some fella to snap their photo and take a set of fingerprints.

If you keep feeding the monster ...


johnorford said...

i remember gj-the-blogger mentioned that they had a couple of malaysian expats, went through all the paperwork in good faith. but then got stung, cos the indonesian embassy in kl issued the wrong type of visa (something v subtly wrong).

the local immigration officials seemed to have been tipped off, and they had to be bribed to get the two Malaysians out of jail.

Rob Baiton said...

Hey John...

How's NYC? With a bit of luck I will get their in March or April this year and then down to DC for a week or so.

Yeah, I remember the post. Without a doubt there are horror stories and I am not saying that there are not serious problems with the bureaucracy.

My comment was really towards those who do not even try and do the right thing with regards to completing the necessary paperwork.

nena said...

When I was working in jakarta 1992-1995 , My company who are worked had hired 2 foreigner to work for them and i knew exactly they dont have the "real Document" , they used turist visa , and everytime the turist visa is expire they just travel to singapore and back again to indo.

company cheated because ,they said was very expensive and complecated to be the sponsor.

Rob Baiton said...


Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

There are plenty of companies, I am sure, who like to flaunt the rules. The economic rationalist argument of it is too expensive is silly in that if you get caught it is going to cost more than it would have to have done it right the first time.

Is the process overly bureaucratic, yes. However, that is the state of play at the present time.

To each their own, I guess.