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New Manpower Law Requiring Indonesian Language Proficiency Test of Foreign Workers

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Kroshka2007 View Post
    @Happyman... this is kind of what I mean... I agree on that the longer time you stay the more demands... I think if the rules are too strict, it will be one more burden for foreign investors, if they need to have their staff working hard of language instead of "company related" things, from the very beginning. Personally, I focused on setting me "company foot print" even before i learned the word "makan" - and yes, I am sure a lot of things would be easier if I could have communicated in Bahasa... but then again, to discuss things in details, require more than a 5 weeks intensive language course..
    I would expect that if you trained your foreign expert in Bahasa Indonesia for 5 weeks, intensively, you'd still just have him on a par with the English most local college grads are capable of. Doesn't seem to presumptuous to say your "foreign expert's" "associate" are likely to be college grads.

    Sure, we come here, onus is on us to learn the language, but is it practical for a short-term arrangement? I could definitely see it being cheaper to hire a local "translator" for six months than to pay your "foreign expert" architect for five weeks while he learns BI. (The quotes on "translator" are because I actually mean a normal office worker who speaks English well, not someone who bills themselves as a translator)

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    • #17
      Personally, I prefer that the Indonesian colleagues are fairly fluent in English. but that's because of the industry I'm in. If they can't read documentation or research papers/white papers in English and they can't use Google with English keywords, then they wouldn't be able to perform their duties properly.

      I'd imagine many other industries would benefit more from the Indonesian employees being more fluent in English than the expat experts be fluent in Indonesian. Now, to require Indonesian proficiency for permanent residence, that I think is fair.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Happyman View Post
        I would expect that if you trained your foreign expert in Bahasa Indonesia for 5 weeks, intensively, you'd still just have him on a par with the English most local college grads are capable of. Doesn't seem to presumptuous to say your "foreign expert's" "associate" are likely to be college grads.

        Sure, we come here, onus is on us to learn the language, but is it practical for a short-term arrangement? I could definitely see it being cheaper to hire a local "translator" for six months than to pay your "foreign expert" architect for five weeks while he learns BI. (The quotes on "translator" are because I actually mean a normal office worker who speaks English well, not someone who bills themselves as a translator)
        There would seem little value in getting the foreigner, who is on a short term contract, up to the standard of being able to exchange pleasantries with coworkers and resorting to English when the subject gets complicated. How long would it take someone to be able to explain the theory of relativity in Bahasa Indonesia?
        "[COLOR=#000000][FONT=Helvetica Neue]I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.[/FONT][/COLOR]"
        George Bernard Shaw

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        • #19
          .. well I have to say that I think that is will take much more than 5 weeks to become good in Bahasa... I am often presented to written Bahasa, that none of our university degree and "experienced" people actually understand what exactly means.. and even Google translate cannot understand most written bahasa... But if the purpose is to be able to ask.. how much? where is the toilet? good morning (which many indonesians do not do when they meet), or ask for one ice tea.. well then I think it is fine, but then the law is kind of useless.. If you should be able to discuss technical things about a products, or legal matters in a contracts.. well.. sorry to say, it is hard.. even for local lawyers. Even simple text.. if you ask 5 different people to discuss wording of a simple consumer text.. waow - to me that has been chaos, and I am left without a clear impression about what is right or what is less right.. For that reason I think it would be better for many companies to stick to English.. Again depending on what you do.

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          • #20
            So far all I have seen is a bunch pointless speculation mixed with a good measure of angst. Does anyone actually have facts? Like what level of Bahasa Indonesia they are testing for? How they are testing for it? When in the IMTA process will they do the test?

            I also very much doubt they're going to get it done by February.

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            • #21
              I don't know what kind of level of proficiency is required and how many expats in Jakarta/Indo are proficient beyond basic conversation...but I think at least a few from this forum should pass with flying colors. Although I think if you stay (and work) in Jakarta/Indonesia for at least two-three years and still don't speak more than very basic Indo phrases...either you live a very sheltered life, or pretty much hang out strictly with other (foreign language)speaking expats.

              I watched Indonesian Bloomberg a few days ago and there was this guy (didn't get the name), Nico Von (something)...and he's a VP of something I can't remember either, boy that guy CAN speak Indonesian, I mean...really explaining stuff in detail, not just answering with a couple Indonesian phrases.
              Last edited by Banana72; 06-01-15, 23:39.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Kroshka2007 View Post
                .. well I have to say that I think that is will take much more than 5 weeks to become good in Bahasa... I am often presented to written Bahasa, that none of our university degree and "experienced" people actually understand what exactly means.. and even Google translate cannot understand most written bahasa... But if the purpose is to be able to ask.. how much? where is the toilet? good morning (which many indonesians do not do when they meet), or ask for one ice tea.. well then I think it is fine, but then the law is kind of useless.. If you should be able to discuss technical things about a products, or legal matters in a contracts.. well.. sorry to say, it is hard.. even for local lawyers. Even simple text.. if you ask 5 different people to discuss wording of a simple consumer text.. waow - to me that has been chaos, and I am left without a clear impression about what is right or what is less right.. For that reason I think it would be better for many companies to stick to English.. Again depending on what you do.
                Yeah, I may have been a bit unclear with my previous post... I don't think the average Indonesian college grad speaks English very well. There will be a lot who are only able to do the things mentioned above. When it comes to reading and writing, I think there is a higher level of proficiency. For sure my workers have a better chance of understanding a random technical text written in English than I do of understanding the same in BI. I've been here for some years, and use BI all day. Like the post above says, it is difficult to understand written BI unless it is written very precisely. Legal texts are about the only thing that don't make my head spin.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Happyman View Post
                  I don't think the average Indonesian college grad speaks English very well..
                  What is scarier actually...I don't think the average Indonesian college grad speaks Indonesian very well either!!

                  (just watch the presenters at Trans, TVOne, etc).

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by atlantis View Post
                    It strikes as being an utopia for new comers, considering that bahasa indonesia is not among the most popular foreign languages taught in foreign universities (beside perhaps in Australia), but it is the law.
                    I'm told that Indonesian is becoming less popular, and hence less frequently offered, in Australian schools these days. I find that quite shocking - I would expect it to be growing in popularity, but apparently I'm wrong.

                    As to the policy itself, any responsible policy-maker will have a goal they want to accomplish and will have some evidence that the law is the best possible way to work toward that goal (in other words, the law is the best of the available options, it won't cause unintended damage along the way that outweighs the benefit, and the cost will not be unreasonable).

                    To be honest, I doubt the lawmakers were taking this approach. As much as I support people learning the language, the law itself smacks of pointless nationalism. What on earth would be accomplished, if the law were ever rigorously enforced, except to offer another sign that Indonesia is hostile to foreign investment?

                    Mind you, I am not saying people shouldn't learn the language of their host country. But people should also eat healthy food and exercise. Should the Indonesian government insist that expats do this? Probably not. And yes, I do see that theoretically there is a difference between what expats eat and what languages they speak - the former is a purely personal decision where as the latter THEORETICALLY impacts their effectiveness on the job. In practice, however, many jobs here do not require Indonesian skills. So the comparison is more apt than it might seem.

                    In short, I seriously doubt anyone has collected evidence to suggest that Indonesia's development will be advanced if this law is enforced. And that's the only thing that would make it a good law. Personal prejudices about expats who can't or won't learn the language shouldn't have a role in establishing policy.

                    ETA - my own country has had a very strong "English first" movement forbidding the use of Spanish and/or requiring monolingualism. It just makes the English First proponents look racist and silly. Not sure why this situation should be any different.
                    Last edited by Puspawarna; 07-01-15, 05:37.

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                    • #25
                      I agree with Puspa - this law would just represent another barrier to entry for foreigners wishing to work here and companies wishing to hire them. In fact, I would go so far to say that it would have the impact of further reducing Indonesia's competitivenes (especially considering the upcoming AEC).

                      I wonder if this might also be designed to further restrict movement of workers from other ASEAN countries into Indonesia after the AEC rules kick in? Like it or not, English is still the undisputed "global" language of international business. Some other countries in ASEAN have much higher levels of English speaking ability.

                      To become more competitive regionally and globally it would be in the interest of the country to improve Indonesian workers English skills (as a whole I mean, there are obviosuly already many with excellent English skills). In addition to bringing foreign technical expertise and skills to transfer to locals, foreign workers that don't speak Bahasa would by necessity also help locals practice their English (assuming they speak Enlgish of course, but also with other regional languages that could also help).

                      If the goal is to make it easier to transfer technical skills and expertise from outside Indonesia to local employees, then I think it is a misguided policy. To expect/require a foreign expert to obtain a level of proficiency in Bahasa to transfer skills, would mean that for the most part that far fewer foreign experts will come here and thus far less skill and expertise will be imported and transferred.

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                      • #26
                        Call me silly... I don't see more more than a way to extract more bribe from company.

                        You know, the ritual of "ooh! You need to comply to this and this and this and this (to no end) regulation, but with a little "help" we can forgot about all this and make you life more easy.

                        Routine
                        La motivation vient en se motivant ~ Motivation come by self-motivation

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                        • #27
                          If you are going to be here a year or so how about just wanting to learn Bahasa out of a modicum of respect for the Indonesians ??
                          I have worked all over the world and make a point of trying to pick up a few basic words and phrases wherever I go (Please and thank you being the primaries) regardless of how long I will be in country.

                          After all we are living in their country, surely as a bit of a courtesy it wouldn't be too much to ask. I used to hate seeing immigrants who had been in the UK for decades and yet still couldn't string a sentence together (Yeah I know - SFW) and made a conscientious effort to master the language when I first arrived in Jakarta knowing that I was going to be there for at least a few years. Glad that I did as the country really opened up to me. I studied French for three years at school and apart from 2 or 3 phrases I still cant speak French and yet I was (basic) conversational in Bahasa after six months. If I can do it anyone can.

                          Sad to see so many people offering up excuses about why they cant, why they shouldn't, and how its a waste of time. Even sadder to see expats that have been here for 15 years struggle with the most basic of tasks as they have no command of the language.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by ScooterIndo View Post
                            If you are going to be here a year or so how about just wanting to learn Bahasa out of a modicum of respect for the Indonesians ??
                            I have worked all over the world and make a point of trying to pick up a few basic words and phrases wherever I go (Please and thank you being the primaries) regardless of how long I will be in country.

                            After all we are living in their country, surely as a bit of a courtesy it wouldn't be too much to ask. I used to hate seeing immigrants who had been in the UK for decades and yet still couldn't string a sentence together (Yeah I know - SFW) and made a conscientious effort to master the language when I first arrived in Jakarta knowing that I was going to be there for at least a few years. Glad that I did as the country really opened up to me. I studied French for three years at school and apart from 2 or 3 phrases I still cant speak French and yet I was (basic) conversational in Bahasa after six months. If I can do it anyone can.

                            Sad to see so many people offering up excuses about why they cant, why they shouldn't, and how its a waste of time. Even sadder to see expats that have been here for 15 years struggle with the most basic of tasks as they have no command of the language.
                            I agree with you that learning the language is a sign of respect that you should show to your host country. I just don't think it should be government mandated, especially for short-timers. If someone wants to struggle through life and look like an idiot, let them.

                            Plus, do you think the government will do a good job of this?

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Happyman View Post
                              I agree with you that learning the language is a sign of respect that you should show to your host country.
                              I must say that if I met someone in my home country who didn't speak English I wouldn't interpret it as a sign of disrespect. I would, however, see them as being severely handicapped when it came to participating in everyday life due to the monolingual nature of most anglophone countries.
                              "[COLOR=#000000][FONT=Helvetica Neue]I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.[/FONT][/COLOR]"
                              George Bernard Shaw

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by lantern View Post
                                I must say that if I met someone in my home country who didn't speak English I wouldn't interpret it as a sign of disrespect. I would, however, see them as being severely handicapped when it came to participating in everyday life due to the monolingual nature of most anglophone countries.
                                Maybe respect is not the right word... if a person chooses to exclude themselves from your society, how would you describe them? Let's say you often meet up with friends and one of them leaves every time you arrive, how would you characterize his feeling towards you? Better yet, if he finds out you are going to be there, he just doesn't come to the event at all. It doesn't mean he hates you, but it doesn't support the idea that he likes you are his favorite person. If he did the opposite, and attended only when you did... we could guess that he likes you.
                                Making no attempt to learn the local language, which is a keystone to participation in the local society and culture, I wouldn't say that is a sign of disrespect, but it is not a sign of respect. Learning the language so you may participate in the local society and culture, that may well be a sign of respect (or some personal need).

                                Wow, that's confusing. I didn't say not learning was a sign of disrespect, I said that learning the local language is a sign of respect(or learning it may be, I'll hedge now). You could have a lot of reasons not to learn. I had reasons not to learn the first year I was here.
                                Last edited by Happyman; 09-01-15, 18:48.

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