Chapter 7: Patterns and governance of labour migration in ASEAN: regional policies and migration corridors
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International labour migration has been a central feature of Southeast Asian labour history since the 1870s, consistent with Southeast Asia’s greater integration into the international economy, European imperialism and the colonial administrations’ labour requirements. Following decolonisation, the independent Southeast Asian states passed restrictive legislation to halt unskilled Asian labour migration. After the 1970s, labour migration again assumed new Asian and regional migration patterns that have underscored ethnicity, nationality, gender and the migrant workers’ skills. This chapter first reviews colonial migration policies and trans-Asian migration patterns. It then interrogates and investigates the current migration policies of key ASEAN states, the ‘new’ guest worker systems and the diversity of the bilateral relations between sending and receiving countries. It also addresses issues concerning the exploitation and vulnerability of migrant workers, especially foreign domestic workers, who often experience frequent breaches of contract and fraudulent practices.

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