Amelia Tan – Straits Times
Singapore. More Indonesians have become Singapore citizens in the past two years, reversing a previous decline, according to the records of Indonesia’s embassy in Singapore.
The number rose from about 630 in 2010 to about 740 in 2011 and climbed again to about 870 last year.
Still, these figures are below earlier highs. In 2009, about 960 renounced their Indonesian citizenship to become Singaporeans; about 1,180 did so in 2008.
Many who give up their Indonesian citizenship are married to Singaporeans, said an embassy spokesman.
The embassy does not keep records of their race or religion, but their names suggest they are a mix of various ethnic groups, from Chinese to Javanese and Sundanese, he added.
The drop in 2010 was probably due to Singapore tightening its immigration policies in the run-up to the 2011 General Election, said Singapore Management University’s Professor Hoon Chang Yau, who researches the culture and history of the Chinese in Indonesia.
The Government had in 2009 tightened the PR and citizenship criteria to ease concerns over the influx of foreigners.
But fears that Singapore could become even more strict may have led to the subsequent increases, he added.
“Some Indonesians may have felt they should take up citizenship immediately or it would be tougher to do so in the future.”
Indonesian community leaders in the country said Singapore is a top destination for emigration as it offers good jobs, safety and good education for their children.
But Yoga Dirga Cahya, president of the Indonesian Community Forum in Singapore, said that many do not renounce their citizenship because of strong ties with their families back home.
The forum is an umbrella body for about 10 associations for Indonesians in Singapore, and organizes events for almost 200,000 Indonesians living here.
Yoga also does not foresee a wave of Indonesians leaving their country in the next few years, because its economy is thriving and opportunities to set up businesses are growing.
Besides, Indonesians need to retain their citizenship if they want to own land or property to set up a business, he added.
Hoon also noted that there are no strong “push factors” like the 1997 Asian financial crisis, when Chinese Indonesians left in droves as rioters targeted their homes and businesses.
Ties between the Chinese and the Indonesian government, as well as other Indonesian ethnic groups, have been on the mend since then, said Hoon.
Indonesians who have taken up Singapore citizenship, like executive Eggy Laxmi Putri, said they did so to have a better life.
The 37-year-old native of Jakarta, who became a Singapore citizen in 2008 after marrying a Singaporean teacher, said, “I could not find a full-time job in Jakarta even though I am a university graduate.”
Fiana Santoso, 26, a bank operations analyst who married a Singaporean bank executive in 2011, is a native of Palembang in Sumatra who became a Singaporean last December.
“I plan to start a family in the future and I see Singapore as a good place to raise my children,” she said.
Reprinted courtesy of The Straits Times