Monday, August 30, 2004

Black May 1998: 6th Commemoration (31 of 40)

New hotline to mark No-SBKRI campaign next week
By Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta
The Jakarta Post (Friday, August 13, 2004)

The government will launch next week a campaign in 105 offices across the country in hopes of preventing local bureaucrats from demanding from Chinese-Indonesians a controversial citizenship document when applying for passports.

It has also has a new hotline number (021) 522-5038 for people to complain about officers who do ask for the certificate, known as the SBKRI.

"Our policy is clear. The SBKRI is no longer a necessity. An ID card or a birth certificate is sufficient," Ade E. Dachlan, the immigration directorate's spokesman, announced on Thursday.

The Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra -- which oversees the immigration directorate -- is expected to launch the campaign early next week at the West Jakarta immigration office.

Ade admitted that some immigration officers still requested the SBKRI from Chinese-Indonesian when applying for passports.

"But self-styled immigration agents are also involved as they tell their clients to give them the SBKRI before they go to apply for passports on their clients' behalf," Ade said.

The SBKRI is often required for Chinese-Indonesians to get official documents including ID cards, passports and business licenses. It is not required of indigenous Indonesians or people who trace to ancestry to India or the Middle East.

"SBKRI is no longer required for making passports for Chinese-Indonesian citizens. Only the first generation of foreigners who relinquish their citizenship in favor of Indonesian citizenship are obliged to present an SBKRI to our officers," Ade said.

Since 1996, the government has actually announced that the SBKRI was no longer necessary for those who already have legal citizenship.

However, the decree has not been implemented in many of the government offices, particularly at immigration offices. They are reluctant to implement the decree due to what they claim is a lack of technical instructions.

One recent example is the East Java immigration office, which issued a circular announcing that the SBKRI was a requirement for passport applications.

"We are disappointed with the issuance of the (East Java) circular as we informed our offices about our policy years ago. We will issue another circular today to annul the East Java (immigration office) circular," Ade said.

Meanwhile, Lieus Sungkharisma of the Chinese community organization Parti, said that the Director General of Immigration Iman Santoso had promised to take stern measures against his officers who defied the order.

"Those whose passport applications are rejected by immigration officers due to a lack of an SBKRI may report it to P.O. BOX 888," Lieus said, referring to a mailing address used by his organization.

Lieus added that Parti would also put up banners at immigration offices across the country, which inform people that the SBKRI is no longer needed.

Legal observers have said that government officials consider the SBKRI a "gold mine".

President Megawati Soekarnoputri has called on Chinese-Indonesians to say "no" if officers asked them to show the SBKRI in order to get official documents.

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