Recent Politico-Legal Change for the Lives of Labour Migrants in Southeast Asia
Time & LocationSession 9
Fri 09:00–10:30 Room 1.101
Save This EventAdd to Calendar
- Democratisation and Immigrants’ Welfare Rights in Southeast Asia Jakob Henninger University of Bremen
This paper seeks to situate the case of Southeast Asia in the comparative literature explaining immigrants’ welfare rights. Theories proposed by this – largely Eurocentric – literature often rely on liberal democratic institutions in the explanations they propose. In the absence of well-functioning democratic institutions, crucial parts of the mechanisms leading towards an extension of rights don’t work as postulated by the literature: Public opinion, for example, does not change policy makers’ preferences in the same way and interest groups don’t have the same means to lobby for their ideas.
In Southeast Asia, immigrants’ welfare rights have been expanding in several countries. Why is this the case? Using newly collected comparative data on the welfare rights of immigrants in the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the years 1980-2018, the paper first quantifies changes in immigrants’ welfare rights in the region and assesses whether they correlate with democratisation. The analysis is complemented by two case studies on Malaysia and Thailand, both being countries which grant at least some immigrant workers access to their social insurance systems. The paper will attempt to trace the political processes leading to the inclusion of immigrants in these systems with a special focus on the roles of civil society organisations and trade unions.
- Indonesian Women Migrant Workers: Standing in the Midst of Femininity and Masculinity Elisabeth Adyiningtyas Satya Dewi Parahyangan Catholic University
This paper discusses the experiences of Indonesian women migrants from a range of different countries and pays attention to the impact of their absence on gender roles in their own households and wider communities back home. Global economic development has encouraged a large group of women from the Indonesia to work in the global north, where they are gainfully employed to perform roles in line with the socially accepted gender roles for women in many parts of the world. In labor-sending countries, it is clear that the migration has created 'vacancies', as the migrant workers ask other women to fill in the 'void' caused by their absence. At the same time, the migrants’ spouses continue life and work as usual in those communities, prompting a lively debate amongst scholars of international relations about the different ways in which migration for overseas employment masculinizes the role of migrant women and their female employers. Focusing on Indonesia, I show that female employersI argue that Indonesia women’s migration and entrance into domestic work constitute an international division of reproductive labour. purchase the low-wage services of migrant Indonesia domestic workers to perform reproductive labour, and that they simultaneously buy the even lower-wage services of poorer women in Indonesia to replace the roles played by the migrants. As a result, the migrant women’s spouses retain their status as the head of the household, which, I argue, is a another aspect of the international division of reproductive labour that deserves our attention.
- Myanmar’s Emigration Policies and Practices in Transition Sirada Khemanitthathai University of London
Myanmar’s well-known political instability, civil conflict, and poor governance, which also negatively affect its economic structure, have been resulting in more than four million emigrants. Since Thein Sein’s administration, Myanmar has been under the early stage of emigration policies’ reformation of which some examples include establishing migrant-related government agencies, revising regulations, engaging with multilateral migration regime, and being more positively active in bilateral arrangements regarding migrant workers. Emigration is also utilised to negatively respond to receiving states’ action, particularly several temporary bans on officially sending migrant workers. Moreover, the government has shifted the perception towards migrants despite the existence of mixed-migration of ethnic minorities.
I argue that the reform of international migration arrangements is the part of the extensive political transition, mainly during Thein Sein administration, which reflects the country’s new foreign policy objectives. The effects of the country’s transition have spilt over into the international migration arrangements mainly to be a more active migrant-sending state with further liberal emigration policies and practices. The paper demonstrates three main ways of how the emigration policies during the transition period implied foreign policy goals. The first way is the normalisation of emigration policies in order to purposefully pursue the international standard as a tool to engage with the international community. The second one is that the reform of migration management indirectly expressed the altered perceptions towards the problem of ethnic politics. Myanmar’s ethnic politics landscape and political transition may have secured the regime so sufficiently that the government has transformed perceptions towards the majority of its emigrants. The last point is that Myanmar as a migrant-sending state exercises its agency through a set of policies which is not powerful but symbolic. It is worth noting that the paper applies the state-centric perspective, focusing on how the government presents its intentions through the national-level policies and practices, and do not investigate the effectiveness of regulations on migration.
- Transcultural Lives of Myanmar Migrant Children in Thailand: Self-Identity and Sense of Belonging Gunnar Stange University of Vienna
Globalization and international mobility have led people to settle in vastly different cultural contexts. Transnationally situated families resulting from migration are becoming a more regular feature of children’s lives in today’s world. Thailand is one of three major economies in Southeast Asia and hosts over a half of the region’s migrant workers. An influx of migrant workers from neighbouring countries has been noticeable and the flow has increased continuously. In 2018, there were three million migrants living in Thailand and an estimated 300,000 of those were children. It has been noted that migration experiences constitute substantial interferences in children’s psychological development and well-being given the environmental and cultural changes they are exposed to. However, despite this trend, very few researches focus on children. Language and language acquisition are central issues in debates about transculturation, cultural identity in transnational migration, as well as integration in host countries. Notably, an importance of acquiring the language of the host country is acknowledged and has become a core element of today's integration policies in many European immigration countries. However, this challenge is a largely overlooked dimension of the migration policies of Thailand and several other countries in Southeast Asia. Taking up the example of Myanmar migrant children, this study contributes to the current debates on transnational family migration by arguing for the centrality of language acquisition in the everyday lives and identities of young migrants.
The multi-directional nature of labour migration flows around the globe has resulted in an increasing number of countries, including in Southeast Asia, having become both senders and receivers of migrants. But academic studies tend to identify countries according to a neat sending/receiving binary when in fact they are both. These states also tend to see themselves primarily as ‘senders’ and so prioritize policy development and implementation in response to the experience of outgoing migrants. In the process, these states often overlook legal obligations that they then have to incoming migrants, including migrant workers, refugees, international students and spouses. As part of an attempt to examine the phenomenon, this panel focuses on experiences in Southeast Asian countries. Papers will cover one or more of the following topics: migration patterns and related rights issues, regulatory frameworks for migration; and/or history of the sending/receiving binary’s role in migration policy.