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August 25, 2013

The2nd congress of Indonesian diaspora

The last week's congress, August 18 - 20th, was the first to be held in Indonesia, after last year's first such meeting ,6-8 July 2012, in Los Angeles.
 

Congress of Indonesia Diaspora is an event aims to inspire Indonesian diaspora communities to connect and to unite themselves into one big community and create a tangible force in order to achieve a better Indonesia. The event also aims to foster and implement concrete initiatives to empower Indonesian communities worldwide.

CID will be a landmark event that can create a paradigm shift in what it means to be part of the Indonesian Diaspora in the 21st century. In the past, we have primarily focused on the role of Indonesian migrant workers, who remain an essential part of the Indonesian Diaspora, but do not reflect the full and diverse spectrum of the Indonesian Diaspora across the globe. Since our nation’s independence we have yet to define a clear vision for these vibrant and diverse Indonesian communities around the world. Indeed, we have yet to fully embrace the concept of “Indonesian Diaspora” in our national conscience. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that we can no longer afford to overlook the importance and promise of the Indonesian Diaspora in the 21st century.


Paradigm

Today, the new paradigm for the Indonesian Diaspora must recognize that every Indonesian living overseas can be a tremendous social and economic asset to our country and play a pivotal role in shaping its future.
In tandem with online social networks and other advances in communications technology, a strong network of Indonesian Diaspora can advance mutual respect and understanding as well as promote trade and investment between Indonesia and their respective countries of residence. In many ways you are Indonesia’s bridge to the world and the world’s bridge to Indonesia, and I strongly believe that your ideas, skills and unique perspectives will be crucial to Indonesia’s success in the 21st Century. As a result, the primary goal of CID is to strengthen and elevate this network of Indonesian Diaspora communities around the world.

It is true that there are many different strong and vibrant Indonesian Diaspora communities around the world today. Nevertheless, these communities’ links with Indonesia as well as with each other are not as strong as they could be. In the United States, for example, there are many different Indonesian communities in many different states and cities. But the connections between them are limited and they are often unaware of each other’s efforts to achieve common goals. Therefore, the aim for CID is not only to cultivate a sense of pride, optimism and possibility within the Indonesian Diaspora, but to also foster a spirit of collaboration among the diverse Indonesian Diaspora communities around the world. 



Can Indonesia Lure Its Diaspora Back Home?

A significant source of the Indonesian Diaspora’s strength lies in its size and its diversity. That is why “Indonesian Diaspora” is defined as broadly as possible for CID. For example, every Indonesian national who lives overseas – regardless of their religion, ethnicity, occupation or visa status –is invited to join us. Moreover, non-Indonesian nationals - those who are of Indonesian descent; those who have commercial interests in Indonesia; or Indonesianists who care deeply about our country’s future – are an essential part of the Indonesian Diaspora as well and we also want you to be part of CID. In short, as long as Indonesia lies close to you heart, we want you to be part of this historic event.
Over 6,000 people of Indonesian descent, former Indonesians, and Indonesians living abroad from over 20 countries met to discuss how they can share their know-how with and contribute to South-east Asia's largest economy at a time when officials are actively wooing the Indonesian diaspora.

"So long as in your head, heart and blood there is Indonesia, you will always be a part of Indonesia's extended family," President Yudhoyono told them at the opening of the Second Congress of Indonesian Diaspora last Monday.

The diaspora meetings are the brainchild of Indonesia's outgoing ambassador to the United States, Dr Dino Patti Djalal, who felt that Indonesia's brain drain - a dilemma shared by many of its South-east Asian neighbors - could be reversed into a "brain gain".
Since last year, 55 diaspora chapters have been formed in 26 countries, including Singapore, to exchange ideas on business, citizenship and migrant worker issues.
There is also an online database of contacts called the Diaspora Network Brain Bank.
Djalal has also been touted as a possible contender at the Democrat Party's presidential convention, but he made clear that the diaspora effort was a national one - and politicians from all major parties attended.
Close to five million Indonesian nationals are registered with the foreign ministry as living abroad, and officials put a conservative figure of eight million for the Indonesian diaspora. "The Indonesian diaspora is full of figures who can become sources of inspiration for us all," said President Yudhoyono.
These include the 2.5 million maids who work hard and constantly remit money to help their relatives back home, with collective contributions totaling some US$7.1 billion last year.
The Indonesian government has also made it easier for Indonesians who have given up their citizenship to get permanent residency. And it plans to beef up its diaspora section at the foreign ministry.
Chicago-based Edward Wanandi, president of the Indonesia Diaspora Business Council, however, notes that not many may want to be permanent residents, but would prefer multiple-entry visas.
Despite the red tape, groups of Indonesians abroad have started projects to help others back home. Members of the Indonesia Diaspora Foundation have started a program called Computers for Schools to get members to invest in a computer for schools in underprivileged areas. There's also a program to get them to donate to and mentor students in poor families.
A group of young Indonesian professionals in Singapore also started the Global Indonesian Voices portal in June to report news and activities across the diaspora, and it now gets some 2,000 hits a week.
"There are lots of good stories about Indonesians overseas, but not a lot of information out there on what they are up to," the site's co-founder, Maulana Bachtiar, 25 and a postgraduate student, told The Straits Times. "Hopefully this will strengthen the links between those at home and abroad."
Source : the Jakarta Post, Jakarta Globe and Diaspora Indonesia
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