Elizabeth Chandra1 On August 1, 2006, the Indonesian government passed a new nationality law to replace the 1958 edition, which was deemed outdated and particularly discriminatory. It took approximately a year for a special commission of lawmakers to draft the new law, with the support and active contribution of various civil-rights groups. As a minority group, Chinese-Indonesians are especially pleased with the new nationality law, as it redefines the legal framework of national belonging. It propounds a new definition of "citizen" (Warga Negara Indonesia, WNI) that no longer distinguishes ethnic Chinese--formerly known as citizens of foreign descent (WNI keturunan asing)-- from citizens considered to be indigenous Indonesian (WNI asli), and, as such, promises to encode the very notion of equality that has long eluded the Chinese. The new law blurs the boundary between the supposedly "natural" Indonesians and those who have had to go through cultural naturalization (asimilasi) in order to become "Indonesian." More specifically, it no longer defines "indigenous Indonesians"--the natural citizens, 2 so to speak--as those who are native to the state's territorial I am grateful to Caroline Hau, Benedict Anderson, Didi Kwartanada, Evi Sutrisno, the IIAS, and Indonesia's editors and anonymous reviewers for comments or
Indonesia – Southeast Asia Program [Cornell University]
Published: Oct 24, 2012
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