The site of the
Institute for
Eco[nomic &] 

in Jakarta,
the Republic of


                                  *             *             *

The Institute for EcoSoc Rights

Updated February 2008

CURRENTLY we focus on, first, helping resolve the problems of the migrant workers from Indonesia who are mostly working in Asia Pacific and Middle Eastern countries; second, to help improve city poor people’s participation in making public decisions, and third, on malnutrition and hunger phenomenon in Indonesia.

The first two programs are still going on, yet both are finishing soon. We are looking forward to conducting a review and assessment of what are the tasks of migrant worker attaches in Singapore and Malaysia. While related to site area of E. Nusa Tenggara, in which we work for dealing the issue of children malnutrition, we would soon conduct education activities on the ecosoc rights for rural communities in Manggarai of E. Nusa Tenggara.

On the Indonesia migrant workers issue, we conduct research and advocacy projects:

    * to initiate overall protection perspectives for the stakeholders, i.e. 
1) migrant workers associations and unions, including their families, and the NGOs working for them, 2) the governments, central and district levels, and 3) the recruitment and placement agencies to start drafting district level regulation for protecting the clean, due process from pre-departure up to re-integration. We have already published the study results, unluckily, still in Indonesian language. Please do see the post on the book. You may have the book for free only pay the shipping. Contact our secretary Indah MFP at or
    * the suicide and fatal accidents phenomena befalling over 100 migrant domestic workers in Singapore; from 1999 up to 2005 there have been 124 of them found dead after falling from high apartment buildings. We have also published the result in a book published in 2005 entitled Women's body manipulation in silenced private domain: The problems of Indonesian migrant workers in Singapore. See the post on this publication.
    * the rampant exploitation against migrant workers in the transit system for their return to village origins in Terminal 3 of the Jakarta international airport of Sukarno-Hatta; this post to the publication of this research: The transit system of the return of the Indonesian migrant workers at Terminal III of the Jakarta airport and the Tanjung Priok's Jakarta port -- Analysing the problems and reconsidering solutions.
    * problem mapping of the Indonesian migrants working overseas from recruitment process, during their working period overseas, and after they return to the country
    * to build database of the Indonesian migrant workers that will help the networking to monitor human rights abuses against them
    * See our articles on Indonesian migrant workers.

On hunger in Indonesia, we focus

    * to conduct comprehensive, comparative research on hunger in East Nusa Tenggara province with case studies in four districts of W. Sumba, E. Sumba, Southern Timor Tengah (TTS), Sikka and also the provincial capital of Kupang. We have produced booklet containing the research result in February 2007. Please contact us for the copy.
    * to build networking in an attempt to resolve the malnutrition and hunger problems through campaign and advocation activities. We focus particularly in East Nusa Tenggara and West Java, both are the epicenter of the hunger phenomena during 1998 until 2005,
    * to conduct assessment on hunger problem in East Nusa Tenggara. At the present we finalize our recent field researches in five selected districts of Kupang city, Kupang, West Sumba, East Sumba, Southern Central Timor and Sikka. We identify the main causes of hunger in the areas.
    * We also produce video documentation, depicting the depth of the hunger problem and the local people’s efforts to resolve it.
    * See our articles on malnutrition, famine and hunger in Indonesia, particularly East Nusa Tenggara.

On the acute diverse economical, social, political problems of the Jakarta metropolitan city, the capital of Indonesia, we focus on conducting participatory research to help define innovative measures to improve city poor people’s participation in making public decisions that directly affect their life. As we know the fast growing Jakarta yet not in a discrete fashion is yet to intervene for resolving acute city problems like traffic jam and inefficiency only with taking unpopular, short-cut policy like forceful evictions. There are two main objectives of this on-going research:

    * To identify main reasons why public participation of the poor is very crucial to improve current sloppy city management,
    * To identify possible concrete solutions to achieve public recognition of the poor people’s basic rights in their participation of any city policy making.

To have clearer idea on how basically we understand the economic, social and cultural rights, we suggest you to read an article about our knowledge framework entitled "Participatory research and education of economic, social and cultural rights to help promote and enforce basic human rights in Indonesia." [Click here.]

We recently publish book expounding the results of the research. You may see the introduction made by noted architect and "culture man" Marco Kusumawijaya. You may also get the book by contacting us. Click here for post on the book.**

Diposting oleh The Institute for Ecosoc Rights di 3:43 PM 

Label: budaya, buruh migran, English-version, Kebijakan, korupsi, Liberalisasi 


A Comment   

It was the Irish potatoe famine of the mid-1840s that drove hundreds of thousands of Irish women, men, and children to North America.
Poverty in Ireland was a main cause of emigration driving peasants and landless laborers to such locations of the cotton industry as Manchester, Oldham and Bury, in England.

In the mid 19th and late 19th Century, the poor of continental Europe, people from Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Russia and Italy, fled unbearable conditions at home, making off to the United States...

Since the 1950s, new waves of migration brought impoverished country-folk and skilled working class immigrants from Italy, Spain, Greece, Yugoslavia, Portugal and Turkey to France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Britain and Sweden.



In modern times, migrating working people have often been subjected to worse conditions of exploitation than "native" workers. They have been denied essential rights as workers, as citizens, as human beings.
Their civil rights, their human rights, their dignity as human beings must be respected. This is very often a difficult and protracted struggle, in the United States, in Western Europe, in Japan, but also in South Korea and the more recent members of the club of so-called "newly emerging countries"...

Comment on this!

Is dire poverty a factor explaining above average rates of migration from E. Nusa Tenggara to the large Indonesian cities as well as Malaysia?
Do you have detailed information on the socio-economic and socio-cultural situation in E. Nusa Tenggara?

If so, please contact the editor of URBAN-DEMOCRACY.ORG .




The problem of hunger in Indonesia is a social, a socio-economic problem. It is rooted
in a deep social division of Indonesian society.

It is a problem unknown to the rich and the powerful, the so-called elite of the country, also described at times as the 'ruling class.'

And even though food price increases are starting to hurt the 'emerging middle class,' professional people (self-employed doctors, lawyers, and so on) as well as the better-paid salaried people working for bigger and mid-sized urban-based firms, or modestly 'high-ranking' government officials, let alone the middle stratum of officers in the armed forces and the police...) are still miles away from going to bed hungry. 

Apparently, the food question is tied to 'class,' just as the housing question, the health question, the question of education are tied to 'class.'

Urban working people holding badly-paid (often, merely 'temporary') jobs are threatened by hunger.

The urban poor attempting to eke out a living in the 'informal sector' are even more likely to feel the pinch.

But poverty and hunger are nowhere more apparent than in the countryside.

If the managers of plantations, if big landlords, if most 'notables,'  if the 'aristocracy,' or  upper-medium level bureaucrats stationed in the countryside are well-off, this is much less true of the average farmer. 

Tenants leasing small plots of land are notoriously subject to endemic hunger and malnutrition. And so are many landless laborers.

In periods of draught or while food prices are driven up by speculation, the poor suffer still more.

If hunger is a 'question of class,' it is also a 'geographic question.' In countries where large segments of the masses are exposed to hunger, the phenomenon of hunger does not spread evenly across the land. There is not only the class divide, there is not only the divide between urban areas and the countryside; in towns and especially in the bigger towns, there is the divide between affluent and poor sections of town; in the countryside, there are provinces and parts of certain provinces that are noticeably poorer than others. In other words, the rural population in the Indonesian countryside is experiencing different 'average levels of poverty,' depending on their location (their province or district). Under capitalism, uneven development is the rule. The largest concentration of invested capital is found in a few, major, privileged locations, like Jakarta, Semarang, etc. The rural areas closer to such 'foci' of investment, linked to these centers of investment by better and shorter routes of transport (usually, road and/or rail transport) are in a better situation; they are  more likely to receive substantial market-generated income, and they may in turn attract some investment.
Provinces or districts situated unfavorably with respect to the privileged centers of capitalist investment receive no or only minute investment; they are 'bypassed' by capitalist development. The more quickly the centers of capitalist investment develop, the more do these 'bypassed' areas of the country fall back.  As 'development' in the favored regions accelerates (in diverse and specific degrees), the average cost of living in the nation increases and as a consequence, poverty worsens rather than remaining stable, in 'bypassed' regions. Unequality is increased. This tendency could be observed in 19th Century Britain and France; it is apparent within the United States today; it is the scandalous outgrowth of 'quick progress' in today's China, and it certainly does not fail to make itself felt in Indonesia, India, or Brazil during this beginning 21st Century.
It is only in regions still outside the dynamics of globalization (that is to say, capitalist market economics) that relatively stable levels of 'traditional' well-being and poverty persist. Anybody comparing the frugal situation of  Laotian peasants in the 1970s or 1980s with the misery experienced by slum dwellers in Lima, Peru, at the same time, will understand that poverty is not equal to poverty. Even though the per-capita-income of the Laotian peasants may have been smaller than that of their Peruvian sisters and brothers, the unbiased observer will note intact families, a better health situation, less exposure to hunger, a more balanced psychic state, in the Laotian case while the situation of the big city slum dwellers exposed to the dynamics of dependent capitalism in a megalopolis like Lima was characterized by insecurity, violence, extreme stress, periods of hunger, a likeliness of being malnourished, a likeliness to be drawn into prostitution and/or crime, a likeliness of being emotionally unbalanced, and so on. In other word, 'progress' was taking its toll. Certainly, the Laotian peasants would not own a television set; the slum dwellers living in the fast-expanding metropolitan area of Lima in all likelihood would have a television set. It would not make their makeshift hut a home, however. It would not make it immune from being bulldozed...
This is not an uncritical plea for the preservation of  'stable' relations of wealth and poverty, or for stable pre-capitalist class relations. The situation in Laos during the period mentioned was a special one. The central government and the state capitalism it defended was playing a modifying role, stabilizing the market for agricultural products, excluding the typical 'ups' and 'downs' of 'free-market' economies. At the same time, much older, more traditional social relations (of mutual help and solidarity) survived on the village level. This mix, for a short period, made a relatively dignified life possible, despite unquestionable 'scarcity,' 'poverty,' and so-called economic 'backwardness.' People were objectively poor but not disoriented and excluded.

If today, indigenous populations in Bolivia, in Chiapas (Mexico), or in Ecuador defend diverse traditional heritages (of mutual help, of joint or communal property - the ejidios, in Mexico, for instance), they defend humanly valuable heritages. But it may be necessary to merge these heritages with answers that solve the problems of the 21st Century.

It is clear that in India, or in Indonesia, there exist positive elements of their socio-cultural heritage that should be valued and that should not be sacrificed to the pressures of 'globalization.'
On the other hand, the problems caused by 'globalization,' by 'climate change,' and so on, require answers that can not be always found in the past.

Certainly, in traditional societies, including those socio-culturally influenced by 'popular Islam' (a German 'arabist' I talked to called it 'Volksislam,' the indigenous, popularly lived and continually reclaimed 'people's culture' or 'culture of the sub-altern classes' that in countries like Egypt and Iraq is shared by Muslims, Jews, Christians and agnostics), there exist repressive and irrational customs and discursive stereotypes, but there exists also a rich variety of humanly valuable forms of interaction. One of these traditional forms of behavior has implied an obligation not to let your neighbor go hungry while you have something to eat. It is time to remember this again, and to confront it with the coldness of social relations that are an outgrowth of an economic formation which fetishizes commodities and which demands the commodification of all aspects of life.

John McGregor