Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Black May 1998: 6th Commemoration (26 of 40)

Government confirms SBKRI not required
By Sari P. Setiogi, Jakarta
The Jakarta Post (Friday, June 25, 2004)

The Minister for Home Affairs Hari Sabarno told provincial and regental/municipal secretaries on Thursday that the controversial Indonesian Citizenship Certificate (SBKRI) was no longer required from Chinese-Indonesians.

"The government sent a letter in 1996 stating that the SBKRI was no longer needed to acquire official documents," Hari explained to the regional officials.

Chinese-Indonesians -- more than five million throughout the country -- are still required to produce the SBKRI when applying for official documents, including birth certificates, citizenship cards (KTP) and passports.

While the ruling was officially scrapped with the issuance of presidential decree No. 6/1996 by then president Soeharto, civil servants at provincial offices are still demanding that Chinese-Indonesians produce the certificate, arguing that they have not received the implementing regulations yet.

Hari told the secretaries that the SBKRI was only required of ethnic Chinese people wishing to obtain Indonesian citizenship for the first time.

"It should be understood that the children (of people who already have such citizenship) no longer need an SBKRI. They are Indonesians automatically," said Hari.

The minister admitted, however, that a lack of information among his staff at the regional level had prompted them to ask Chinese-Indonesians to present the certificate when applying for official documents.

Some Chinese-Indonesians, including star badminton players Susi Susanti, Alan Budikusuma and Hendrawan, have publicly complained recently, because they were still asked to produce the SBKRI and encountered difficulties in obtaining documents.

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

Hari called on Chinese-Indonesians to say no if they were asked to produce SBKRI.

However, no punishment will be given to officers who do ask for the SBKRI or create difficulties in the document registration process for Chinese-Indonesians.

"Just report them (officials who ask for the SBKRI) to the police. But what will happen next is up to the police," said Hari.

Hari became furious, however, when a woman from the Anti-Discrimination Institute shared her experiences of discrimination while trying to register 125 Chinese-Indonesians in Tegal Alur, West Jakarta.

The woman said the institution assisted 125 Chinese-Indonesians and 529 indigenous Indonesians in Tegal Alur -- who were too poor to register and pay for their birth certificates.

Those 529 indigenous citizens were granted birth certificates at not cost, while the 125 Chinese-Indonesians were charged with a crime for not registering their births.

Hari, however, snapped: "I do not want to hear such a story here. I have known such things from A to Z. Can we make it quick as it is late already?"

Chinese-Indonesian businessman Ciputra, who was at the forum, said he still experienced discrimination. "My KTP still has the 09 code showing that I am a Chinese-Indonesian," he said.

He also said that the prolonged issue of the SBKRI was a way for civil servants to get money from Chinese-Indonesians. "I have a big concern for Chinese-Indonesians who are poor and can't get the necessary documents because they can't pay."

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