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Indonesia election 2024: calls grow for government to relook dual citizenship ban amid ‘brain drain’

Under Indonesian law, citizens automatically lose their nationality once they obtain foreign passports.

“I keep hearing grievances from Indonesians abroad over the lack of progress on the proposed revisions to the country’s 2006 citizenship law to allow them to hold dual citizenship in the country of their residence,” Marsha told This Week in Asia.

Among those who belong to the constituency are overseas Indonesians, who make up around 45 per cent of registered voters.

Marsha said many highly skilled Indonesians had no choice but to work overseas because of limited employment opportunities in their respective fields back home. “Indonesia simply doesn’t have the industries to make full use of their talents.”

Damelina B. Tambunan, dean of the business school at Surabaya’s University of Ciputra, said her study of the Indonesian diaspora led her to conclude the country is suffering from a gradual “brain drain”.

“Even if these highly skilled people wanted to come back, they wouldn’t be employable here,” she said.

Marsha agreed, saying she knew of Indonesians who worked in sensitive tech industries and had to take up foreign citizenships to qualify for higher security clearances.

Marsha said it would be remiss for Indonesia to ignore the ban on dual citizenship, which she added is one of the reasons causing the brain drain.

“The trend will likely continue and Indonesia will soon find itself haemorrhaging talent left right and centre.”

Among the countries popular with Indonesian professionals seeking a new life abroad is Singapore.

In response to the data, Minister of Investment Bahlil Lahadalia questioned the “patriotism” of the former Indonesians saying, “They shouldn’t just think of their own needs and cast off their birth country so