On 8 July, the Director-General of Immigration at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Silmy Karim, revealed that a large number of Indonesian students are opting to become Singaporean citizens. He made the revelation at the Gen Z Festival 2023, a youth community that aims to improve human resources, especially among Generation Z. Karim stated that around 1,000 Indonesian students in Singapore become Singaporean citizens every year.
According to a detikFinance report published on July 10, the number of Indonesian citizens who became Singaporean citizens reached 1,091 in 2022, up from 1,070 in 2021.
The figure shows a significant increase compared to previous years. In 2020, the number was 811 people, while in 2019 it reached 940 people. As of April 2023, there are already 329 Indonesian citizens who have migrated to Singapore, surpassing the number of 286 in the same period last year.
On the other hand, Suryopratomo, the Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore, acknowledged the phenomenon of Indonesian citizens migrating to Singapore. However, he pointed out that the number of 1,000 people per year is still relatively small compared to the total number of Indonesian residents in Singapore, which includes 5,000 students and 160,000 domestic workers.
Several factors have contributed to this migration trend. Many young Indonesians face difficulties in finding limited job opportunities, difficulties in obtaining capital, high cost of living, and a large wealth gap. However, accurate data on the material and non-material losses caused by this phenomenon are not yet known.
According to Anthony Budiawan, Director of Political Economy & Policy Studies (PEPS), future prospects in Singapore are promising for students who wish to work there because of the stability of income they seek. Budiawan explained that salaries in Singapore are much higher than in Indonesia, so the high cost of living is not a problem.
Singapore, as one of the developed countries in ASEAN, is small in size with a population of about 5.5 million. The average monthly salary in Singapore in 2022 is S$5,070 (about Rp57.5 million), which is a relatively large amount.
In Indonesia, on the other hand, the minimum wage varies greatly from province to province and city to city. For example, in 2023, the provincial minimum wage (UMP) in Jakarta has been set at Rp4,901,798 per month, while the highest regional minimum wage (UMR) in Indonesia for 2023 is in Karawang Regency, West Java, at Rp5,176,179 per month.
In response, the executive director of Indonesia's Center of Reform on Economic (CORE), Mohammad Faisal, said that there are more job opportunities in the formal sector in Singapore than in Indonesia. Especially in the field of science, Indonesia has a significant gap in terms of laboratory equipment compared to other countries.
This is an urgent task for the Indonesian government. The government needs to create a more attractive labor market so that qualified human resources (HR) will not continue to be attracted by other countries.
On the other hand, a sociologist from Universitas Airlangga, Tuti Budirahayu Dra Msi, stated that the migration of Indonesian students to Singapore is a natural phenomenon influenced by push and pull factors. Tuti explained that opportunities for better jobs, career advancement and improved quality of life in Singapore are attractive factors for Indonesian citizens to consider changing their citizenship. She also stressed that migration is part of human rights.
While migration can have a positive impact on Indonesia's global reputation, there are also potential negative consequences. If migrants do not contribute to the development of their home regions, various regional sectors may face stagnation due to a lack of human resources.
In an effort to prevent brain drain, the Indonesian government has taken several measures, including a scholarship program offered by the Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan (LPDP). This program requires scholarship recipients to return to Indonesia and work for at least two years after completing their education abroad.