While most people in Jakarta were watching fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve, Immigration officials put on a show for the media, inviting them to film as they did a raid on the Sun City nightclub in West Jakarta during which they detained 76 Chinese women for allegedly working in Indonesia illegally as sex workers.
The director general of immigration enforcement, Yurod Saleh, said the women ranged in age from 18-30 years old. He said his department performed the raid based on their own intelligence as well as reports from the public.
Indonesian social media has recently been filled with rumors that Chinese workers were coming to the archipelago to steal work from locals. President Joko Widodo was reportedly angered by a hoax that there are already 10 million Chinese workers in Indonesia (when in fact there are only about 21,000) and ordered the police to find out who was spreading the rumors.
News of the Chinese women’s arrest seems to have been taken by some as a form of validation behind some of the anti-Chinese paranoia.
“[It is proof that] illegal foreign workers do in fact exist,” said Saleh Partaonan Daulay, a PAN party politician and vice chairman of House Commission IX, as quoted by Okezone on Monday.
Saleh said that Indonesia’s policy of not charging tourists from countries like China for visas was allowing women such as those arrested on NYE to easily come to Indonesia for work.
The Chinese women are currently still being held at an immigration detention center in Tangerang for further questioning. They face likely deportation though it is possible they could receive up to 5 years in jail for breaking Indonesian immigration laws.