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 Bayu.