The situation in Hong Kong remains tense. Demonstrations against the Extradition Law have morphed into riots allegedly against Hong Kong’s socio, economic and political largesse, following the Bill’s cancellation in August and subsequent formal withdrawal in early September.
The developments are not unique to Hong Kong and have the potential for transmission to Indonesia. First, the existence of hundreds of thousands of Indonesian workers (TKI) in Hong Kong must be considered. In addition to concerns regarding general safety, the Hong Kong Government is paying attention to the entry of migrant workers into the fray, either as victims or perpetrators.
At present, rumour circulates that an Indonesia domestic helper was arrested during the riots. She was allegedly paid HK$3,000 (US$385) for participating in a single demo, or roughly two-thirds her regular monthly wage. If true, the Hong Kong government would be right to carefully monitor the situation of TKIs in the city, as few would be able to turn down such lucrative offers for side-employment, potentially bolstering rioter ranks with thousands of recruits.
As of July 2019, the number of migrant workers, mostly female, had risen to 349,000. This does not include those who remain in the Special Administrative Region (SAR) as spouses of locals.
Indonesians already in the cross-fire
Concern over paid rioters has arisen alongside that of greater Indonesian involvement. On Sunday (29 September 2019) an Indonesian journalist named Veby Mega was shot by rubber bullets while covering a demonstration.
The following day, Indonesian authorities requested further clarification, in the person of the Director of Protection of Indonesian Citizens and Indonesian Legal Entities at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joedha Nugraha (9/30/2019).
As reported by detik.com, Joedha also said that the Indonesian Consulate General had asked the authorities for the chronology of events as well as a follow-up investigation.
Veby, a Hong Kong News Voice journalist, was shot by a rubber bullet near her eye while covering a demonstration in the Wan Chai region, and her condition has stabilized and is gradually improving.
As reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Veby expressed surprise at the Hong Kong police who fired rubber bullets at her. This is because at that time, Veby’s helmet was marked “press” as was her vest, and she had been among the demonstrators for most of the evening. This raises the question as to if she was targeted, and continuing, why.
The Indonesian central government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Indonesian Embassy in Hong Kong have taken a firm stance in support of the Hong Kong government. In mid-August 2019, 13 Indonesian migrant workers from Hong Kong were returned in an act that many interpreted as a sign of the Indonesian government’s goodwill towards Hong Kong in recognition for its acceptance of hundreds of thousands of BKIs and the smooth flow of their remittances.
Further proof of this is that during the demonstration the BNI remittance exchange, which happened to be far from the location of demonstrations location, was still operating as usual. BNI, which has four outlets, continues to serve migrant workers who make remittances, especially on non-work days where many migrant workers deposit their money.
Hong Kong’s intention to maintain its relationship with Indonesia in the midst of the chaos that occurred there is also increasingly evident. Recently, the Minister of Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR) Basuki Hadimuljono received good news about the success of PT Waskita Karya selling toll roads. Basuki said that the two Waskita toll roads had been sold to the Hong Kong company, Kings T Limited.
This came to Basuki from a report by the Head of the Toll Road Regulatory Agency (BPJT), Danang Parikesit. In front of the media crew, he opened his cellphone and read Danang’s report via text message to him.
In Danang’s report, Basuki explained, Waskita met with Kings T Limited in the King Expa Conditional Sales and Purchase Agreement, discussing the toll concession agreement. “We are here at the King Expa Conditional Sales and Purchase Agreement between Waskita Toll Road and Kings T Limited. Good news for Waskita, will help the relationship,” explained Basuki at South Jakarta, Tuesday (10/1/2019)
Basuki added, Danang asked Waskita Managing Director I Gusti Ngurah Putra to immediately report the results of the agreement to him. “He already asked Mr. Putra to inform me,” said Basuki.
The two sections released by Waskita are known to be the Solo-Ngawi toll road and the Ngawi-Kertosono toll road. The sale of the two toll roads is carried out by divesting shares.
The public is aware that the process of selling the toll road owned by PT Waskita Toll Road (WTR) began in July 2019. At that time, Waskita announced that the Hong Kong company was the most serious of all interested parties.