Indonesian expats celebrate Independence Day in Malaysia

Malaysia is host to over two million Indonesians workers. Their remittance income is a major boost to the country's economy.

By Samuel Bahari for Khabar Southeast Asia in Kuala Lumpur

August 29, 2013
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Approximately 500 Indonesians gathered at their embassy in Kuala Lumpur to celebrate their country's 68th Independence Day on August 17th.

  • Approximately 500 Indonesians, including embassy staff, boy and girl scouts, and expatriates, gathered at the Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia to celebrate their Independence Day on August 17th. [Samuel Bahari/Khabar]

    Approximately 500 Indonesians, including embassy staff, boy and girl scouts, and expatriates, gathered at the Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia to celebrate their Independence Day on August 17th. [Samuel Bahari/Khabar]

This year's theme was "Maintaining Political Stability and Economic Growth to Improve Our People's Welfare."

"It is a good theme, especially since it reflects the situation of our citizens in Malaysia. There are approximately 2.5 million Indonesians residing in Malaysia, and most of them are workers. If we have good economic growth and stability, it will benefit our citizens here in Malaysia and at home," said Nuryati Hartini, an Indonesian living in Kuala Lumpur.

"I have been working here for more than 10 years now. I think this year's celebration is also representative of the good relationship between both countries."

High spirits despite downpour

The celebration was interrupted by heavy rains but the storm did not dampen the prevailing spirit of nationalism.

Ambassador Herman Prayitno stressed that labourers in Malaysia need to remember that they're representing Indonesia.

"I always advise (workers abroad) to save their income for their families back home so their children can pursue higher education and produce a better generation for our country. I often tell them that they are ambassadors for our country. They need to perform with a positive attitude and not break any laws and regulations in Malaysia. So far, Indonesian labourers have been perceived favourably by Malaysians," Herman said.

Harry Winarto, an expatriate who has been working in Malaysia for more than a year, said attending the event increased his feelings of nationalism. He wants both countries to maintain their ties in politics, the economy, education and human rights.

"I hope Indonesia and Malaysia can co-operate and build a win-win relationship as neighbours with close ties in culture and languages," he said.

"We must work hand-in-hand to help each other and prepare ourselves regarding the upcoming ASEAN Community in 2015. Then we could create an export and import balance with Malaysia."

Joint efforts

Ambassador Herman has pushed for Indonesians in Malaysia to be aware that both countries promote democracy in the region.

He specifically pointed to the upcoming presidential election in 2014, urging every Indonesian in Malaysia to use the opportunity as a nation-building process.

"As our next presidential election will come soon … we should make our best efforts to encourage our citizens here to exercise their right to vote to appoint our next leader," he told Khabar Southeast Asia.

Siti Marshiela, a Malaysian graduate student at University of Kuala Lumpur, said both Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to secure the region, improve security and share resources.

When terrorists escaped from Tanjung Gusta prison in North Sumatra, Malaysia jointly beefed up its security.

"Our Special Task Force (Operations and Counter Terrorism) under the leadership of Mohamad Fuzi Harun patrols the borders, monitors situations, and keeps contact with Indonesia regarding the development of cases," she said.

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