RI diaspora expected to
do more for Indonesia

Indonesians living overseas are being called on to boost the country’s global competitiveness by marketing its potential and transferring their own knowledge for the nation’s development.

“One of the most important things in the world are relationships and Indonesians living abroad are those who have real relationships [with other countries]. They can be key in helping develop the nation,” Indonesian Ambassador to the US Dino Patti Djalal said during a seminar, titled The Rising Impact of the Diaspora on Indonesia, in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Mohamad Al Arief, the president of the Indonesian Diaspora Network (IDN) in the US, said there were around 4.6 million Indonesians living overseas, who were struggling to find a way to contribute to the nation’s development, as they received no demands, either from the government or from other Indonesian diasporic communities.

“Most of the Indonesian diaspora face no demands for their skills or knowledge. Therefore, our task is to connect these people with one another as well as with Indonesia.”

Arief said one of the success stories between Indonesians living overseas and the government was when Indonesian academics in the Netherlands facilitated a discussion on flood management between the Jakarta administration and experts in the Netherlands.

“They had a teleconference call with Jakarta’s deputy governor to discuss the issue. It was also very cost-effective as the administration did not have to arrange a study trip to the Netherlands only to discuss flooding,” Arief told The Jakarta Post.

“This kind of thing would not have happened if we did not connect the dots within the Indonesian diaspora.”

Also speaking at the seminar, the Trade Ministry’s acting director general for foreign trade, Bachrul Chairi, said that Indonesia was currently the 16th largest economy in the world and would be the 7th by 2030; a fact that should encourage the Indonesian diaspora to more-actively market home-grown products.

“Indonesia is the second-largest exporter of coal and the largest exporter of palm oil. We also produce cocoa, nickel and other natural resources. These are the potentials we have,” Bachrul said.

“This is our foundation to further develop our economy in the future and those Indonesians living abroad should help promote these products,” he said.

In July last year, the Indonesian Embassy in Washington DC organized the first Congress of
the Indonesian Diaspora (CID) in Los Angeles, California, which was attended by around 2,000 people of Indonesian descent from around the world.

The next congress will be held in Jakarta in August this year, with the title Diaspora Pulang Kampung (Diaspora’s Homecoming). (nad)

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