Changing official attitudes about the Indonesian Diaspora

In the past, the official attitude towards Indonesians who gave up their Indonesian citizenship was one of indifference at best to outright hostility at its worst. However, the Jakarta Post via the Brunei Times has reported that the government of Indonesia is considering a new policy toward Indonesians who live and work abroad – especially those who are in position to help the Indonesian economy.

Indonesian Diaspora NetworkIn fact, the Indonesian government have given overseas Indonesians a new “name,” the Indonesian Diaspora, and its organizing the first Congress of Indonesian Diaspora in Los Angeles on July 6 to 8. The Congress has the approval of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who will send a personal video message plus a number of Cabinet ministers are set to address the attendees. However, its still unclear how many members of the Indonesian Diaspora will attend.

Its worth noting that India has created the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and distinguishes between Non-Resident Indians (NRI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) with the second group including descendants of Indians who have become citizens of other countries (including Indonesia). NRIs now have voting rights in national elections while holders of PIO cards are entitled to various privileges, including visas.

Whether the government of Indonesia will go that far with the Indonesian Diaspora remains to be seen, but certainly the Congress of Indonesian Diaspora is a good first step towards encouraging overseas Indonesians to contribute to the development of the country they left.

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