Indonesians leave for Raya, many will be back to fill labour gap

JOHOR BARU: Construction worker Samsir Shahlan, who last met his family in Indonesia five years ago, has been jumping for joy after securing a ferry ticket to return to Jogjakarta.

The 54-year-old, who works in Klang, came here to get a ticket to return home via Batam. And it was mission accomplished!

“I am so excited to finally be able to get home and hold my two-year-old grandson for the first time.

“I work in Klang and arrived in Johor Baru in the morning to purchase ferry tickets to Batam. I have not been back since 2017,” he said yesterday.

Samsir said ferry tickets have to be purchased two days before the travel date.

“I plan to meet as many family members as possible during my trip and we will be gathering at my relative’s house for a big Hari Raya celebration,” he said, adding that he will also visit his nephew in Batam.

Factory worker Sri Sukmawati Yatigio, 28, is also looking forward to reuniting with her family in Tanjung Balai after being apart for more than two years.

She said the past two Hari Raya celebrations were observed at her husband Abdullah Mohamad’s home in Benut, Pontian, due to the strict Covid-19 standard operating procedure.

“We could only communicate and celebrate with our families via video calls.

“I am glad to be a step closer to hugging and kissing my family members back home,” she said, adding that she and her husband will stay in Indonesia for two weeks before returning to Johor.

Indonesia’s Ambassador to Malaysia Hermono (pic) said 300,000 Indonesians are expected to make their way back to Malaysia again after Hari Raya.

He said there will be no mass exodus of Indonesians this Hari Raya as many had already made their way back in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

“While flights to Indonesia have been full these past few days, the numbers leaving by ferry is still manageable and is actually going down,” he told reporters after visiting the Stulang Ferry Terminal here yesterday.

He said the Stulang and Pasir Gudang ferry terminals are each offering three daily trips to Batam and Tanjung Pinang, carrying a total of 350 passengers each trip.

“We expect about 300,000 Indonesians to come back after Hari Raya as Malaysia is facing a labour shortage.

“I advised them not to come to Malaysia illegally as it will make them illegal immigrants.

“I also advised them against taking illegal boat rides as this will lead them to trouble with the law or, worse, meet their deaths due to accidents at sea,” he added.

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