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Monday, July 25, 2011

President sends letter to Saudi king to save RI migrant worker

The Jakarta Post | Mon, 07/25/2011 9:53 AM 
                                                                                                                                                            President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono sent a letter to the Saudi Arabian government asking the kingdom to lift the death sentence on Indonesian national Sumartini.

Members of a taskforce led by Maftuh Basyuni, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, are lobbying the kingdom to commute Sumartini’s sentence. Sumartini is a resident of Moyo Utara in Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB).

“We are happy that the President has sent a letter to King Abdullah,” NTB Governor Zainul Majdi said after meeting Yudhoyono at the Presidential Palace on Friday.

“We hope the government can also help other migrant workers from West Nusa Tenggara who face death sentences overseas.”

Sumartini, a 33-year-old migrant worker, was found guilty in a Saudi court of using black magic to kill her employer’s 17-year-old son, Tisam, and is imprisoned at Maalaz Penitentiary.

She is one of 25 Indonesian workers on death row in Saudi Arabia.

Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam said the President was committed to protecting Sumartini and other Indonesian migrant workers from execution.

The government earlier helped Darsem — an Indonesian maid found guilty of killing her employer — from execution by beheading after paying “blood money” to the victim’s family.

Yudhoyono said earlier that around 200 Indonesians overseas faced the death penalty, including in the Middle East, Malaysia and China. He said 70 percent of the nationals were found guilty in drugs cases and 20 percent were on death row for murder.

In his meeting with the President, Zainal presented a report on the expected impact of a moratorium on sending new workers to Saudi Arabia, which takes effect next month.

“Some 12,000 residents of West Nusa Tenggara would delay their departure to the Middle East next month due to the moratorium. We need to provide them with jobs,” he said.

Zainal called on the government to accelerate economic development in NTB to create new jobs.

NTB sends between 55,000 and 60,000 migrant workers abroad each year, most of them housemaids. Half of them find employment in the Middle East.

“We ask for two things from the central government: improving the national program for community empowerment [PNPM Mandiri] to create new jobs and accelerating the establishment of international training centers in Lombok,” Zainal said.

Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa said the government would prioritize development in NTB to make it a key tourism gateway.

Hatta said the construction of an international airport in Lombok was expected to be completed in October.

“We have set aside 1,200 hectares near the airport to build a special economic zone for the tourism sector. We expect it to be a new hub for economic activity,” he said.

Lombok’s white sand beaches and its proximity to Bali have attracted a considerable number of tourists, both domestic and foreign.

Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar earlier said that the government had prepared up to 3 million jobs to offset the impact of the moratorium.

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