National

Indonesia seeing ‘positive’
signs on dual citizenship

An official at the Foreign Ministry said the country was experiencing more “positive” developments toward recognition of dual citizenship.

Wahid Supriyadi, head of the foreign ministry’s diaspora unit, said Friday that the new government regulation enabling multiple entry for Indonesians of foreign nationalities, which was signed in April, is among the developments.

He was responding to the results of the second Congress of Indonesian Diaspora, held in Jakarta from Aug. 18-20, which among others reiterated demands for state recognition of dual citizenship for foreign nationals of Indonesian descent, voiced earlier in the first Congress last year in Los Angeles.

The new regulation had already been implemented in Indonesian legislation, he told The Jakarta Post, “while we are surveying models from other countries that allow dual citizenship” to explore suitable options for Indonesia. Wahid said the government was also studying the Indian model, which issues documents in place of passports for individuals of Indian descent, enabling “75 percent recognition” short of dual citizenship, making it easier for them to invest and do business in India. “There is great economic benefit” to the host country as a result of dual citizenship, Wahid said.

Delegates said on Wednesday during the closing of the congress that a focus group would be formed to study the dual citizenship issue including representatives of the diaspora, academics and policy makers. They would then submit an academic draft to all stakeholders.

Deputy of the Commission I in charge of foreign affairs at the House of Representatives, Ramadhan Pohan, said during the closing of the congress that the House would also facilitate the revision of the immigration law “to accommodate the wishes of the diaspora” for dual citizenship.

“We are convinced that those among you with foreign passports still love Indonesia,” Ramadhan said, adding his two America-born children would also soon join the diaspora. The government estimates that there are some 8 million Indonesians and foreign nationals of Indonesian descent living and working overseas.

The other results of the congress included collaboration plans regarding business, innovation, environment, livable cities and better protection for migrant workers.

Lily Erin, a lecturer on demography from Sriwijaya University in Palembang, said it was time for Indonesia “to change its view” on its single citizenship policy in the current globalized era. Its legal legacy from the colonial era sought to ensure citizens’ loyalty, she said.

Indonesia only recently realized the strength of the diaspora, mainly with the rise of US president Barack Obama, whose step-father was Indonesian, and whose sister is half Indonesian, she said.

Delegates at the discussion on citizenship had raised feelings about not being recognized in Indonesia even if they wanted to resume cultural and family ties.

Anna Yoshitani, an Indonesian woman married to a Japanese man, said her daughter obtained a tourist visa for only two months from the Indonesian embassy to visit Indonesia. With her singing talents Yoshitani said that she hoped her daughter could help strengthen cultural ties between Japan and Indonesia.

A restaraunt owner and Malaysian national from Sabah who was born in Indonesia Abdul Mukti B. Syaubari, also said dual citizenship would allow him to set up business in Indonesia. “Now I travel for a few weeks to Indonesia to see my family” every year, he said.

Indonesians with foreign husbands have also said they still faced difficulties regarding the nationality of their children, despite the 2006 law on dual citizenship for children under 18.

“The information was not adequately spread,” Yoshitani said, especially among housewives.

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