SKBRI Not Required by Chinese: Megawati

Historically, Indonesian laws have reflected a pervasive worry about Chinese influence. It was not until 2000 that then-president Abdurrahman Wahid revoked laws prohibiting the display of Chinese culture and restricting the movement of Chinese-Indonesians. In spite of these changes, Indonesians of Chinese descent often complain that they are asked to produce special identification when applying for passports and other documents. The issue gained public attention when Indonesia's Olympic gold medalist badminton players Alan Budikusuma and Susi Susanti applied for passport renewals and were asked to produce a special Indonesian Citizenship Certificate (SBKRI). Many of Indonesia’s best badminton players are of Chinese descent, and many have faced similar problems. In response to the controversy, President Megawati Soekarnoputri assured Chinese-Indonesians they do not need any extra identification. "There is no such thing as indigenous and non-indigenous Indonesians. They (Chinese-Indonesians) are born here and made many contributions to this country. They are all Indonesian citizens," said Megawati. In spite of the president’s words, many Chinese-Indonesians worry that immigration officers will continue to require extra documentation. – YaleGlobal

SKBRI Not Required by Chinese: Megawati

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja
Thursday, April 15, 2004

President Megawati Soekarnoputri has stepped into the controversy over the plight of Chinese-Indonesians by declaring that they are no longer required to possess an Indonesian Citizenship Certificate (SBKRI).

During a meeting with dozens of Indonesian badminton legends, who are mostly Chinese-Indonesians, Megawati called on all immigration offices across the country on Wednesday to abide by the law.

"There is no obligation for Chinese-Indonesians to obtain an SBKRI if they already have a proper identity card showing that they are Indonesian citizens," Megawati was quoted as saying by the chairman of the Indonesian Badminton Federation (PBSI), Chairul Tandjung.

The meeting was also attended by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights' director general of immigration, Mochammad Imam Santoso. The director general, however, failed to make any comment.

Chinese-Indonesians have often complained that they are still being asked to produce SBKRIs when applying for passports and other official documents.

Former president Soeharto actually scrapped the SBKRI policy in 1996 through presidential decree No. 6/1996.

In 2000, former president Abdurrahman Wahid went further by scrapping presidential decrees that banned the display of Chinese culture in the country and limited the movement of Chinese-Indonesians. He also revoked a decree of the People's Consultative Assembly on the requirement for SBKRIs.

Citing the absence of ancillary regulations, officials on the ground continue to require Chinese-Indonesians to produce SBKRIs when applying for passports or identification cards (KTP).

Chairul said on Wednesday that President Megawati had instructed the immigration director general to ensure that all immigration offices would not demand SBKRIs as part of the requirements for the issuance of Indonesian passports.

"There is no such thing as indigenous and non-indigenous Indonesians. They (Chinese-Indonesians) are born here and made many contributions to this country. They are all Indonesian citizens," the President stressed.

The SBKRI issue last resurfaced when Indonesia's Olympic gold medalists Alan Budikusuma and Susi Susanti were asked to provide SBKRIs when they applied to renew their passports.

Alan and Susi are to travel to Athens later this year to carry the Olympic torch representing Indonesia.

Another badminton player, Hendrawan, had a similar experience last year, prompting Megawati to intervene.

Many Chinese-Indonesians had hoped, however, that Megawati, who took over the national leadership in 2001, would take resolute action against immigration officers who continued to require SBKRIs.

"What we had been hoping for is that President Megawati would issue a written instruction saying that SBKRIs were no longer required to end this issue once and for all," Alan said on Wednesday.

He expressed the hope that the SBKRI issue would not continue to cause problems, not only for the badminton players but for all Chinese-Indonesians.

© The Jakarta Post

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