By the way: Being Indonesian and proud of it

Sun, 03/29/2009 11:14 AM  |  Headlines 

Another head scratching moment for me and for people who assist me - as an
Indonesian passport holder I always face the same issue every time I need or
plan to go to other countries outside ASEAN. Applying for entry visas, with
stacks of documents and tedious preparations required. At the end I always
feel overwhelmed filling in the forms and preparing necessary documents. 

One has suggested to me to change nationality to make it easier for me
whenever I need to travel overseas. You know, for citizens of some
countries, they have visa waivers so they can just jump up and go overseas
anytime they want. 

As a spontaneous person I feel this visa issue burdening me a lot. When I am
in the mood for travel I need to check entry requirement first, then have to
start applying for visas. Depending on the country and my luck (and so far I
have been lucky), I will get a visa approved in 1-2 weeks. But, hey, the
anticipation may not be there anymore. But what can I do? Nothing. Just try
to keep my name clear so every time I apply for a visa or when I enter any
country the immigration officer's computer will flash "Clear" or "Not in the
dangerous list" or whatever. 

Back to the suggestion of changing nationality, I suddenly remember one
story of an Indonesian singer who already went international. She has been
living outside Indonesia for many years and had established her reputation
as a reputable international singer in Europe. She changed her Indonesian
nationality to another nationality. She told the papers that as an
international artist she had difficulties and often has a headache applying
for and getting entry visas to perform or do overseas tours and the
Indonesian embassy people did not help her much too. Exchanging nationality
for ease of travel? 

It is true that being Indonesian we often have to line up outside the
embassy applying for visas that may or may not be approved, with stacks of
documents and financial proofs that should be prepared, and we have to wait
for at least 1 week or, it could be worst, 1 month to get it. In the
process, our passports will be kept with them. Honestly I hate this waiting
time. I am hopeless without my green passport. 

Now come to think of it, why do people, in this case governments, always
make things so complicated? Is it their nature not to trust anybody? So is
it that we are guilty before proven innocent? 

Maybe changing nationality is worth doing it. But, my blood is Indonesian.
Although, like many Indonesians, I swear a lot about the country, but, it is
my country, and I belong to it. I was, am and always will be Indonesian. No
matter what. 

I never knew that I loved my country until I realized it one day. I still
remember vividly that day. I was about to move to Canada. It was late
November. I was at Cengkareng airport in Jakarta, waiting for my flight. It
was not a time when the national anthem was normally played publicly, but,
suddenly I heard the Indonesian national anthem. I was dumb struck and
started crying quietly. I missed Indonesia already. I promised myself that
being Indonesian overseas meant that I had to represent Indonesia, make the
country proud of me, and that I would be proud of the country and defend it.

Despite any troubling things that have been happening in Indonesia, I am
never ashamed of being Indonesian. I am sometimes sad and disappointed with
what's happening in the country but am never ashamed of the country. If any
bad news about Indonesia reaches the shores where I live, I will always take
it as my responsibility to help the country to explain  - especially to
non-Indonesian people or people who are not familiar with Indonesia - what
exactly is happening. 

I always believe it is our duty to learn the best things wherever we live
overseas and bring them back to Indonesia someday, perhaps to help build a
better Indonesia in the future. 

Well, in the end, with my discovering my true love of my country, Indonesia,
it is really worth going through the headaches and bother of applying for
entry visas rather  than exchanging my identity. I am Indonesian. I will
always be Indonesian. And I am proud of it.  

- Iene Muliati 




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