Mon, Jul 25, 2016 - Page 16 News List

Morotai development plans ongoing

INDONESIA:A memorandum of understanding inked in 2012 is still valid, but little interest from Taiwanese investors and a lack of workers has delayed the deal

Staff writer, with CNA

The cooperation between Taiwan and Indonesia on a joint development project on a remote Indonesian island is still ongoing, Indonesian weekly magazine Tempo has reported, citing an Indonesian minister.

Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli said at a forum in Surabaya, East Java, on Thursday last week that Indonesia would collaborate with Taiwan to develop Morotai Island in North Maluku Province into a new economic hub consisting of a seafood-processing industry, a tourist resort and an industrial zone, according to the report.

The development of the 2,476km2 area would be conducted in cooperation with the Taiwanese government, Rizal said.

Rizal said he had held a special meeting on the plan with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) a month before she was sworn in on May 20.

Although the master plan and the details have not been revealed, Rizal expressed optimism that the Morotai development plan would be realized.

To turn the plan into reality, the Indonesian and Taiwanese governments would have to deal with a lack of workers, Rizal said.

He suggested that one way to resolve the problem is to increase the quota of Indonesian migrant workers (TKI) employed in the industrial fields of Taiwan, according to a report by the Jakarta Post on Friday last week.

“Later, when the development of the industrial zone in Morotai is carried out, some TKI will be reallocated to work there,” Rizal said after the forum.

He said that about 230,000 Indonesians are working in Taiwan, half of whom are domestic workers and the others are workers in various industrial sectors, according to the Jakarta Post.

With the increase in the number of Indonesian workers in Taiwan’s industries, Indonesia is expected to have a sufficient number of experienced workers to develop Morotai, Rizal said.

The two governments signed a memorandum of understanding in 2012. In July 2014, former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono approved a proposal to set up a special economic zone on Morotai.

It was originally thought the Taiwan-Indonesia joint development project would be canceled mainly because Taiwanese investors who have visited the Indonesian island have shown little interest in proceeding with the investment.

However, cooperation on the project is still ongoing as the MOU is still effective, a Taiwanese official said in February.

Morotai is one of Indonesia’s northernmost islands. It is 2,600km from Taiwan and has a population of about 50,000.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has voiced his support for the Taiwan-Indonesia project aimed at developing Morotai into a hub that links East Indonesia with the rest of the world.

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