This paper examines how institutional dynamics among regulatory institutions affect the governance of the recruitment of Indonesian low-skilled migrant workers. Two institutional reforms have been made to create better governance for Indonesian migrant workers in the post-authoritarian era. One was the establishment of the National Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) while the other was the granting of greater responsibility to sub-national governments to supervise migrant worker recruitment. In spite of these institutional reforms, little progress has been made in the protection of Indonesian migrant workers. The paper reveals that the restrictive regulatory framework for the recruitment of migrant workers, which curbs private recruitment agencies, does not create better migrant worker governance. This regulatory framework does not take into consideration the horizontal relationship between the old and new institutions, and the vertical relationship between the central and sub-national governments. Horizontally, the institutional design of the proposed new regulatory framework has created institutional rivalry between the newly established regulatory actor and the old one. Vertically, the reluctance of central government to decentralise authority to sub-national governments has curtailed the ability of sub-national governments to perform a supervisory role in the recruitment process. These two inter-related factors have hindered the efforts to create a better recruitment process for Indonesian migrant workers.
The continuity of stable peace in East Asia, especially Southeast Asia, since the end of the Cold War raises one major question: why is there no apparent balancing behaviour against China, the emerging great power in East Asia? In response to this question, exceptionalists argue that there will be no balancing behaviour against China from Southeast Asian states, while soft balancing theorists argue that the balancing behaviour has already occurred in the form of institutional balancing. This article refutes those arguments and maintains that balancing behaviour is not yet apparent in Southeast Asian balancing, yet it exists in an indirect form. In order to make this argument, this article examines the recent military build-up among Southeast Asian states as well as recent assessments of the ineffectiveness of the Southeast Asian regional security framework. The article also further analyses the conditions under which Southeast Asia’s indirect balancing might turn into hard balancing.