Below is a writing of an Indonesian expatriate who has been traveling to dozens of countries; always promoting Indonesia in his own way. Now he is a permanent resident in Canada. Many members of the mailing list accuses him of not being a nationalist, blah, blah, blah. And he turns to answer at length.
Hope you find it as useful as I did.
To be or not to be an Indonesian
Just to complete the "pen war" (the term may now be replaced by "war email") about "to be or not to be an Indonesian" and rebuild the country from the inside or from the outside; these things will indeed continues to be a dilemma; especially for us who had the opportunity to see the world outside of Indonesia.
Brain drain theory is true.
In plain sight, countries like Australia and Canada earn additional foreign exchange immensely from receiving official immigrants like me. Prospective immigrants pay more than $2,000 and invest a minimum of $ 10,000 which must be taken of their assets in the country of origin. Most likely than not, the immigrants will be highly educated ones; which means they have important positions in their country.
Take me as an example. I am a faculty and staff of a Non-Government Organizations (NGO) in conflict and disaster areas. My departure was clearly detrimental to the institution where I taught and I know I could give a significant contribution to the industry and business in conflicts and disasters in Indonesia (please stop thinking that the field of social NGOs as selfless, because in reality, it is a business worth millions of dollars).
But does Indonesia not make a profit when I'm abroad?
In the period of 8 years I've lived abroad, I've become a dance teacher at the Indonesian Embassy in Melbourne, Phnom Penh, Madrid, etc.; always promoting Indonesian art in more than 12 countries. During my 3 years in Melbourne, I've done more than 300 Indonesian art workshop; introducing Indonesian angklung, gamelan, wayang, batik art, traditional dance, language, life, agriculture, etc. to hundreds of schools in the state of NSW and Victoria; just so children in those countries know that Indonesia is not just Bali.
When I did some research with the Ford Foundation in China, Chinese newspapers and television interviewed me and they were very surprised because there was a full-blooded person who speaks fluent Chinese and Indonesian. In the end, the Indonesian name gets recognized by their people since they associate me with my country.
So who's to say that building your country need to be exclusively from inside? Does a person's nationalism goes down when living abroad?
The answer is yes and no.
Why do people migrate?
Many Indonesian people are coming out of Indonesia because they are frustrated and disappointed with the Indonesian government; and really, who can blame them? When I was abroad, I realized how our governments are jerks; so much so that so long ago I vowed I would never be the representative of the government in any event. But that does not mean I do not have my nationalism because wherever I go -- whether I like it or not -- I also bring my culture. Half the contents of my suitcase is always dance clothes. Being an Indonesian is also the reason why I never paint my hair yellow, or wear blue contact lenses. I am an Indonesian.
Whatever the Indonesian Government does, it's none of my business. What is my business, though, is maintaining the existence of Indonesian performing arts and improving the education quality of the nation. That is why, despite frequent verbal abuse on this mailing list, I still often write emails; because I know this list is much accessible to those who are educated and should be the cornerstone of the fabric of the nation.
Going back to "brain drain" and "brain gain", let us learn from China and India.
Immigrants and Business
Just like Indonesia, India was upset because a lot of its citizens go abroad to get their education eventhough they are poorer than Indonesia (but they do not have foreign debt, you know). But India recognizes the fact that 60% of physicians in Canada and the United States (and most of the IT people in Australia) are of Indian descent. They are triggering the development of medical science in the country (please note that Indians rarely fail when taking medical equivalency exam in America). Philippines adopts international standards for nursing education so their nurses are accepted worldwide. China is very proud of the fact that two former Australian mayors were of Chinese descent. Chinese instead supports the expansion of its citizens out, settling in outside of Chinese society because they have a strong "sense of business" that when they are out they will find a way to develop business with relatives in mainland China. The departure of Chinese citizens also means reducing the burden on the government to take care of the elderly because immigration laws usually allow immigrants to bring in their parents.
When I was actively surveying NGO programs where I used to work in the field, I realized that what becomes an obstacle to economic development is a small community distribution and marketing. Indonesia does not have a strong linked product overseas so we can not be successful in the international market. Indian garment businesses, gold and Bollywood (their film industry) will not go forward if there are no Indian immigrants in foreign countries. Who is the ruler of the garment and Indonesian television? Even down to South Africa, Ethiopia, Qatar and Uganda, garment and jewelry business is being dominated by Indian people.
The existence of overseas immigrants also opens up food businesses. No matter where we go there is always a Chinese restaurant (even in a small town in the corners of Luxembourg where I've been at). Similarly for India, and recently also followed by Japan and Korea.
Do those immigrants have low nationalism? NO.
No matter where we go, we see the Indian saris. This is what distinguishes India and Indonesia. British colonialized India to teach their people to be proud of their own culture; but not the case with the Dutch (Indonesia was colonialized by the Dutch for 350 years). I've observed that nationalism in communities far from home is usually higher; their concerns for their ethnic culture are also higher. That is precisely why I never do dance performances in Indonesia; because no one will be watching. All of my dance performances abroad is always a huge success (even though the audiance is still Indonesian people).
I've met with many Dutch-Indonesian descendants who fled from Ambon after the RMS, or the Chinese-Indonesian people who return to China after the Communist Party incident (PKI). They and their descendants (who has never set foot in Indonesia), still identify themselves as Indonesian with the desire to go home. If people who've been hurt and abandoned by the Indonesian people still have a sense of nationalism, why do people who want to migrate still be identified as not nationalists?
I have confidence that when an Asian leave their home and country, he will never sever ties with his native land. Asian communities have a sense of brotherhood and kinship; they are highly social and their community structures embrace social network. All Asians are in a "curse" that they are burdened to support their family. Wherever they go, they will always send money back to their homeland; trying to improve the welfare of his extended family and so on.
Even the worst of any Asians, I'm sure will be trying to help his brothers in need. My brother, who lives in Spain, finally managed to open a furniture import/export business that feeds more than 20 families back home, improving family business and so on.
Indonesian government often complains that there are swift currents of westernization in Indonesia through the media (with MTV and so on); eventhough Asia is the world's largest ethnic (which unfortunately also contributed the largest number of poor people as well).
Major Powers of Asia
There are three major powers in Asia: China, India and Indonesia; known as the Dragon of the East, Elephant of the South and Garuda from the South East.
Implementation and cultural expansion can be done in various ways. Hutus in Rwanda did so with the mass murder of Tutsis; the ethnic Serb perform forced pregnancy through mass rape against ethnic Bosnia; Americans through their movies, fast food culture, and so on. India and China are also doing the same with the help of the their migrants; by setting up their original restaurants and entertainment industry.
Now who has never eaten Chinese food?
In all the major cities in the world there is a Chinatown. Chinese tea culture, accupuntur, tai chi, or Indian beef curry, yoga, etc.; they are becoming familiar in western society. It is part of their culture in the western Asianization. Unfortunately Indonesia has not been as progressive as India and China eventhough Pencak Silat is a very desirable martial art, and traditional gamelan music as the most desirable in Melbourne (there are more than 13 Gamelan group there with less than 5 Indonesian people). Indonesian Batik is considered to be the highest quality in Cambodia; far above Malaysian Batik, Singapore or Vietnam. The Dragon of the East and Southern Elephant have now become regarded and feared forces in the west. Lots of Indians and Chinese speak English but almost no white person can speak Chinese and Hindi. Almost all products circulating in the west are made in China (there is even a joke that Santa Claus has moved from the north pole to China).
So my question now is:
When will the Garuda of Asia start to spread its wings and fly?
Still busy with the fleas in the nest?