Voice of Migrants (VOM) Hong Kong held a celebration with a traditional Javanese rice cone ceremony called “tumpengan” and conducted a Public Discussion with the theme “Wisely Engaging in Social Media.” The event took place on Sunday (27/10/2019) at the Grand Building, Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong. This marked the inaugural gathering of the Working Group (Pokja) VOM, a coalition of various migrant worker organizations, aimed at engaging in efforts to protect migrant workers in Hong Kong.
In her opening remarks, Icha Fael, the Chairperson of Pokja VOM, emphasized that Pokja VOM aims to embrace anyone willing to cooperate in developing the capacity of fellow migrant workers, particularly regarding the protection of their rights. In that context, VOM began organizing itself as a platform for Hong Kong migrant workers who have the spirit and strong will to disseminate information, knowledge, and proper ways to protect migrant workers.
“Through this public discussion, Pokja VOM will provide a space for Hong Kong migrant workers to learn together about organizing and sharing information that can foster a sense of solidarity,” explained Icha.
Utilizing Technology to Protect Migrant Workers
The public discussion was part of Pokja VOM’s activities to encourage Hong Kong migrant workers to become media-literate. Nowadays, it is easy for people, including migrant workers, to access various information with just a press of a button on their internet-connected devices.
Mobile phones have become essential tools for everyday needs, always within reach in our pockets or hands. The world no longer seems vast. Any information we want to know appears before our eyes within seconds. When we want to communicate with family, close friends, or even with people we didn’t know before in different parts of the world, we can simply search and find them on social media. The advent of mobile devices as communication tools has truly become the new “heart and pulse” of modern human communication.
The world has changed with the presence of mobile devices and internet technology. To keep up with the advancement of mobile devices and the internet, the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia (KJRI) in Hong Kong has opened many online services.
According to Yuni Suryati, the Consul for Information and Socio-Cultural Affairs at KJRI, the development of KJRI services based on internet technology was particularly interesting to the attending migrant workers in the public discussion. It is a well-known fact that PMIs’ access to information about KJRI services in Hong Kong has not been widely received by migrant workers. Therefore, whenever KJRI representatives provide information about services for migrant workers, the enthusiasm of the workers to ask questions becomes very high. Public discussion becomes a positive space for Pokja VOM to collaborate with KJRI in every activity conducted. Why? Because KJRI plays a key role in protecting the rights of migrant workers in Hong Kong.
Learn to Engage Healthily in Media for a Safe Overseas Experience
In line with the theme of the public discussion, Yuni encouraged participants to actively access the Facebook page of KJRI Hong Kong. Currently, the number of followers on KJRI Hong Kong’s Facebook page has reached 172,942. KJRI is continually striving to enhance the protection and services for Indonesian nationals in Hong Kong through online systems, such as passport services, employment contracts, legalization, information about agents and employers, services for sick and deceased Indonesian nationals, legal assistance, and more. In concluding her presentation, Yuni urged participants to practice filtering information before sharing it on social media.
The public discussion, moderated by Anil Husnaini from MIC, proceeded with great enthusiasm from the participants. After the Q&A session between the participants and KJRI representatives, the next session was facilitated by Muhammad Irsyadul Ibad (Ibad), the Director of Infest Yogyakarta, for a discussion on “Healthy Social Media Engagement: Safety in the Host Country.”
To start the discussion session, Ibad encouraged participants to understand how social media works—quick, easily accessible, and anonymous. Of course, besides advancing human life, social media also contributes to “destroying” human existence.
“The war in Syria, for example, partly occurred due to social media being used to spread fake news. The events in Syria should serve as a collective learning experience that we must use social media wisely,” explained Ibad.
Ibad also added that within the context of the rise of extremist violence, propaganda is also disseminated through social media. Therefore, it is crucial for migrant workers to become open and aware of such phenomena as a preventive measure to protect themselves from exposure to extremist violence. Thus, migrant workers can stay safe from the threat of radicalism, which has already permeated the lives of migrant workers in Hong Kong.
*This article was written by Dedi Kristanto, Program Officer (PO) at Infest in Hong Kong, based on his learning process with the Indonesian migrant worker community in Hong Kong.