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Indonesian authorities voice concerns over Increasingly number of students migrating to Singapore

INDONESIA— The Director-General of Immigration at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Silmy Karim, revealed on 8 July that a significant number of Indonesian students are choosing to become Singaporean citizens.

Speaking at the Gen Z Festival 2, a youth community aimed at enhancing human resources, particularly among Generation Z, Karim stated, “I don’t remember the exact data, but if I’m not mistaken, approximately 1,000 Indonesian students in Singapore become Singaporean citizens every year.”


According to a report by detikFinance on 10 July, the number of Indonesian citizens who became Singaporean citizens reached 1,091 in 2022, compared to 1,070 in 2021.

This figure represents a substantial increase from previous years, as the number was 811 in 2020 and 940 in 2019. Notably, up until April 2023, there have already been 329 Indonesian citizens who have migrated to Singapore, surpassing the 286 recorded during the same period last year.

Various factors have contributed to this migration trend. Many young Indonesians face limited job opportunities, difficulties in accessing capital, high living costs, and significant wealth disparities. However, there is no reliable data available on the material or non-material losses resulting from this phenomenon.

Anthony Budiawan, Director of Political Economy & Policy Studies (PEPS), believes that the future prospects in Singapore are more promising. Students who wish to pursue work there seek income stability. Budiawan stated, “Salaries in Singapore are much higher than in Indonesia, so the relatively high cost of living is not a problem.”

Singapore, despite its small size with a population of approximately 5.5 million, has become one of the developed countries in ASEAN.

The wages in Singapore are relatively substantial, with the median monthly salary in 2022 was S$5,070 (equivalent to approximately IDR 57.5 million).

In contrast, minimum wages in Indonesia vary significantly by province or city. For instance, the Governor of DKI Jakarta has set the Minimum Wage for 2023 in Jakarta at IDR 4,901,798 per month. The highest regional minimum wage (UMR) in Indonesia for 2023 is in Karawang Regency, West Java, at IDR 5,176,179 per month.

The Chairman of CentennialZ, Dinno Ardiansyah, highlighted the importance of addressing the challenges faced by the younger generation. He mentioned limited job opportunities, limited access to capital, high living costs, and significant wealth disparities as contributing factors.

Ardiansyah emphasized the need for the Indonesian government to create a more attractive labor market to prevent the loss of highly qualified human resources to other countries.

Dr. Tuti Budirahayu Dra Msi, a sociologist from Airlangga University, stated that the phenomenon of Indonesian students migrating to Singapore is a natural occurrence driven by push and pull factors.

Dr. Tuti explained that opportunities for better work, career advancement, and quality of life in Singapore are attractive factors for Indonesian citizens to consider changing their nationality.

She also stressed that this migration is a matter of individual human rights.

While the migration trend can have positive impacts on Indonesia’s reputation globally, there are potential negative consequences.

If migrants do not contribute to the development of their home regions, various sectors may be neglected due to a lack of human resources.

To prevent brain drain, the Indonesian government has initiated efforts such as the scholarship program offered by the Education Fund Management Agency (LPDP). This program requires scholarship recipients to return to Indonesia and work for at least two years following their studies abroad.

Rahmad Handoyo, a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives, emphasized the need to improve the employment system in Indonesia to prevent the younger generation from being enticed to become citizens of other countries.

He suggested reforms in the minimum wage system, easier access to healthcare, improved public transportation, and maintaining a pristine environment.

Indonesia’s ambassador to Singapore, Suryopratomo, acknowledged the phenomenon of Indonesian citizens migrating to Singapore but considered the number of 1,000 per year relatively small compared to the overall Indonesian population in Singapore, which includes 5,000 students and 160,000 domestic workers.

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