THE ASEAN Community, which took effect at the end of last year, has expressed concern about the movement of skilled workers around the region.
But its interest in the unskilled labour remains poor, despite the fact that this group provides the real workforce that dominates labour flows around the region.
In 2007, Asean agreed to the Cebu Declaration, an agreement on the Protection and Promotion of Migrant Workers as a fundamental instrument to deal with such workers from other areas and nations.
In 2009, the widely-known Asean Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) were introduced, in line with the Asean Economic Community, to facilitate free movement of eight occupations for the setting up of mutual standards accepted by all Asean member states.
The Asean Secretariat admitted that the majority of workers in the region were people with a medium or lower level of skills in the informal sector.
A 2014 study by the International Labour Organisation and the Asian Development Bank found that the MRAs actually helped just 1 per cent of Asean workers.