As citizens of the world’s third-largest democracy, two Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong grapple with the challenges of being migrant labourers while fighting to improve their circumstances by campaigning for their country’s presidential candidate from abroad.
1998: The streets were on fire as Indonesians protested against inflation and called for President Suharto’s resignation. Our protagonists, two Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong, recounted that they were just college students when Suharto’s 32-year dictatorship fell and Indonesia became a democracy. As fresh graduates caught in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, they went against their families and made the life-changing decision to work as domestics in Hong Kong. But life did not improve. They were tricked by agents, underpaid, and not given a day off. Hopeless and in despair, our protagonists saw politics in Indonesia’s new democracy as the only way out. Every Sunday, they campaigned for presidents and hosted massive political shows in hotels and parks. As leaders of Indonesian political party and organisation branches in Hong Kong, they relayed migrant worker problems and demanded solutions from Jakarta. Slowly but surely, politics became their new home. In the chaos of elections, as winners celebrated and losers cried, our protagonists video-called their families in Indonesia, reaffirming their commitment to improving the lives of Indonesians at home and abroad.
1998年：印尼人因通貨膨脹上街抗議，並要求總統蘇哈托下台。我們的主角是兩名在香港的印傭。她們回想當年大學生活，見證總統蘇哈托結束長達32年的獨裁統治下台、印尼成為民主國家。她們也是受1997年亞洲金融危機影響的應屆畢業生，她們違背家人意願，做出了改變人生的決定，去香港當傭人。可惜生活並沒有因此改善。 她們被中介欺騙，被壓工資，沒有休息日。絕望中，她們視印尼民主政治為唯一的出路。 每個星期天，她們都會舉行競選活動，並在酒店和公園舉辦大型的政治活動。她們身為印尼政黨駐港支部領袖，要求雅加達解決外勞問題。選舉當日，主角們致電身在印尼的家人，表達她們對改善人民生活的意願。
Director’s Statement 導演闡述
1998 is a documentary which provides an intimate window into Indonesian domestic workers’ political lives beyond their role as domestics working in Hong Kong employers’ homes. It captures the ups and downs of two Indonesian domestic workers who volunteered as political campaign managers in the run-up to the 2024 Indonesian national elections in Hong Kong. It is about a desperate dream for a better life and the ecstasy and depression of fighting for social change.
1998 is not about Hong Kong or Indonesian politics, nor is it about ideology. Our protagonists are not populist pawns manipulated by larger forces, but powerful agents who determine the fate of their own lives. This documentary mirrors the intensity of fast-paced electoral campaigns filled with snap decisions, feverish passion, painful betrayals and biting satire. Protagonists and audience ride this rollercoaster of emotions together in this raw, unfiltered and spontaneous journey of grassroots self-empowerment. It captures the unforgettable feeling of fighting for something you care about.
Junko ASANO 淺野純子
ASANO is an academic from Hong Kong who has researched Indonesian society for over 10 years. Her current PhD research at Oxford University is on the Indonesian migrant domestic labour movement in Hong Kong.
Jamie CHI 池清麗
CHI is an independent filmmaker. Her documentary Safe Distance: Chapter 1 (2022) won the Short Film Audience Award at the 33rd Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. She is currently directing Scorpion Grass which is shortlisted for the 17th Fresh Wave International Short Film Festival competition.
獨立導演。執導紀錄片《安全距離：第一章》獲第三十三屆香港同志影展觀眾票選短片大獎。導演作品《蝎子草》入圍第十七屆鮮浪潮國際短片節 – 本地競賽。