This year we saw the first Congress of Indonesian Diaspora held in the US, which sparks excitement on how Indonesian diaspora can have a role in a variant of Indonesia’s soft power diplomacy. As President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed in his remarks at the congress, he wishes Indonesian diaspora to be their best and “…contribute for the future of our nation”. A positive wish that we appreciate but let’s not forget the etymology of the word “diaspora” which also implies that people from one country are dispersed to others as a form of exile, or to find better life as they can’t find one in their motherland.
According to foreign ministry data currently there are around 5.8 million Indonesian diaspora. However Indonesia’s current diaspora is a combination of this country’s history as a former subject of colonization, racial oppression, and lack of appreciation to technical skills and knowledge, as well as the lack of opportunities to develop and grow.