Indonesians in Hong Kong

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Indonesians in Hong Kong
Orang Indonesia di Hong Kong
HK Causeway Road July 1 march 2010 Domestic helpers 03 KOTKIHO.JPG
A group of Indonesian migrant workers participated in Hong Kong 1 July marches rally.
Total population
165,750 (2015)
Regions with significant populations
Causeway Bay, Kowloon, Wan Chai
Indonesian, Javanese, Cantonese, English, others[1]
Sunni Islam[1]
Related ethnic groups
Various ethnic groups in Indonesia
Indonesians in Hong Kong
Traditional Chinese 在港印尼人

Indonesians in Hong Kong, numbering 102,100,[2] form the second-largest ethnic minority group in the territory, behind Filipinos.[3] Most Indonesians coming to Hong Kong today are those who arrive under limited-term contracts for employment as foreign domestic helpers. The Hong Kong Immigration Department allows the Indonesian consulate to force Indonesian domestic helpers to use employment agencies.[4] Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong comprise 2.4% of all overseas Indonesian workers.[5]


Indonesians domestic helpers often gather in the area near Victoria Park on their days off.

In 2006, it was estimated that 102,100 Indonesians worked in Hong Kong,[2] of whom between 80 and 90% are estimated to be women.[6] This represents a growth of almost 250% from the 41,000 recorded six years earlier,[3] while during the same period, the number of domestic helpers from the Philippines declined. Some newspaper reports attributed this to the fact that Filipinas were "harder to manage",[7] and additionally to the better training of Indonesian domestic helpers. Employment agencies in Indonesia sending workers to Hong Kong typically provide at least three to six months of training in household work, including a basic course in Cantonese, whereas similar agencies in the Philippines provide only fourteen days of training. The Employment agencies in Indonesia also work together with agencies in Hong Kong to extract higher fees from Indonesians after they start working in Hong Kong. Part of this extra fee is the money that agencies pay to women in Indonesia to start the migration process.[8] The fees owed by the workers for training and housing are non-negotiable and usually figure as four to seven months of salary deduction (HK$21,000 or US$2,709).[9] Indonesian domestic helpers in Hong Kong are represented by two unions, the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union (IMWU) and Coalition of Indonesian Migrant Workers' Organisations (KOTKIHO, Koalisi Organisasi Tenaga Kerja Indonesia Hong Kong).[10]

According to organisations representing migrant workers, police intimidation of migrant workers is also a problem.[3] Underpayment of wages and employer abuse is also a problem; Indonesian workers are widely paid as little as HK$1800 to HK$2000 per month.[2][11] During the May 1998 riots in Jakarta, the Hong Kong government threatened to expel Indonesian labourers in Hong Kong in response to the Indonesian government's inaction on crimes committed against ethnic Chinese women; however, in the end, they did not act on this threat.[12]

Pre-migration experience

Pre-migration experience for inductees into the domestic labor migration system involves overcrowding, shortage of food and facilities, abuse, and exploitation because the minimum standard regulation of the training centers set by the Indonesian Labour Department are not enforced.[9] The camps in which the young women migrants are made to stay for the duration of their training also double as a system of incarceration. Following the period of training, the workers will spend up to a few years indefinitely detained until a job offer is made in order to prevent pregnancy and ensure that workers will be available when jobs are requested.[9]

The living conditions in the centers are very poor. Women are made to sleep on the floor packed tightly against each other, and only one bucket of water is afforded per person for bathing. There is little medical care for the health problems that result from these conditions, and physical and sexual abuse is a prevailing reality.[9] Even the trip from home to the migration center often involves being sexually abused by the training center recruiter.[9]

Remittances and savings

Local Indonesian migrant workers' unions participated in the 2005 WTO Protests in Wan Chai

Indonesians in Hong Kong send remittances less frequently than Indonesians in Japan and Singapore, or Filipinos in Hong Kong;[13] they were also somewhat less likely than Filipinos to use a bank to send such remittances, instead relying on friends or other informal networks such as hawala.[14] Contrary to the trend in Latin America, where remittances from relatives working in the United States are often used to meet daily expenses or for other consumption,[15] in one 2005 survey, more than half of Indonesian workers in Hong Kong reported that their families used their remittances to start businesses, each creating between one and five jobs.[6]


In 2009, there were 220,000 Muslims in Hong Kong, of which Indonesians formed an estimated 120,000.[16]

Within their communities, services are provided to Indonesian Muslims and other Muslims mainly by NGOs. Most of these NGOs have courses in Arabic and the Quran so that children and newly Muslim people can learn the religion practices and language they need. There are seven Islamic schools in Hong Kong, run mainly by Islamic NGOs, for example the Chinese Muslim Cultural and Fraternal Association.[17] Some of them have membership schemes and provide services like library, retails, etc.[18] Some of the people also gather in the Mosques during religious celebrations. If they seem to mainly interact within their own local communities, it is because their social values and moral standards are different from mainstream Hong Kong culture.[19]

See also



  1. ^ a b Radio International Singapore 25 February 2006
  2. ^ a b c Media Indonesia Online 30 November 2006
  3. ^ a b c US Dept. of State 2000: Section 5
  4. ^ Palmer, Wayne (2013-05-01). "Public–private partnerships in the administration and control of Indonesian temporary migrant labour in Hong Kong". Political Geography. 34: 1–9. doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2013.02.001. 
  5. ^ Hugo 2000: 5
  6. ^ a b Villalba 2005
  7. ^ Pacific Business News 2004
  8. ^ Palmer, Wayne. 2010. Costly inducements. In Inside Indonesia 100. Archived 22 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ a b c d e Yau, Ching (2010). As Normal As Possible. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 37–50. 
  10. ^ IMWU 15 May 2005
  11. ^ ATKI Primer on Illegal Salary Deductions to Indonesian Migrant Workers (IMWs) In Hong Kong Archived 23 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ HRW 1998: Introduction
  13. ^ Orozco 2005: 15
  14. ^ Orozco 2005: 24
  15. ^ Wall Street Journal 1 November 2006
  16. ^
  17. ^ 香港穆斯林辦學一覽表
  18. ^ Islamic Union of Hong Kong-
  19. ^ 沈旭輝, 為伊斯蘭作嚮導-


  • Davis, Bob (1 November 2006). "Direct Deposits: Migrants' Money Is Imperfect Cure For Poor Nations: Earnings Sent Home From U.S. Fuel Increased Spending But Not Much Investment; Thugs Extort Cash by Phone". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 December 2006. 
  • Hugo, Graeme (September 2000). "Indonesian overweas contract workers HIV knowledge: A gap in information" (PDF). United Nations Development Program: Southeast Asia HIV and Development Project. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 9 January 2007. 
  • Orozco, Manuel (November 2005). "Remittances – global opportunities for international person-to-person money transfers" (PDF). Inter-American Dialogue. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 September 2006. 
  • Villalba, Noel (2005). "The Impact of MSAI Adult Education Programme on Poverty Reduction". Asian South Pacific Bureau of Education/Migrant Forum in Asia. Retrieved 26 December 2006. 
  • "Could Indonesian maids replace Filipinas in Hong Kong?". Pacific Business News. 7 September 2004. Retrieved 26 December 2006. 
  • "Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Hong Kong". US Department of State. 2000. 
  • "Indonesia: The Damaging Debate on Rapes of Ethnic Chinese Women". Human Rights Watch. September 1998. Retrieved 9 January 2007. 
  • "Indonesian Consulate should fulfill its responsibility as protector of Indonesian citizens" (Press release). Indonesian Migrant Workers Union. 15 May 2005. Archived from the original on 1 March 2007. Retrieved 26 December 2006. 
  • "Ribuan BMI di Hong Kong Protes Standar Gaji (Thousands of Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong protest pay standard)" (in Indonesian). Media Indonesia Online. 30 November 2006. Retrieved 26 December 2006. [permanent dead link]

Further reading

  • Ford, Michele (2001). "Indonesian women as export commodity: notes from Tanjung Pinang" (PDF). Labour and Management in Development Journal. Retrieved 9 January 2007. 
  • Sim, Amy S.C. (2004). "The Cultural Economy of Illegal Migration: Migrant Workers Who Overstay in Hong Kong" (PDF). Department of Sociology, University of Hong Kong. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 July 2007. Retrieved 9 January 2007. 
  • "Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong". Radio International Singapore. 25 February 2006. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 9 January 2007. 

External links

  • Indonesians in Hong Kong
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