Indonesians mark I-Day with gaiety

ABU DHABI - The Indonesian community in the UAE marked their 59th year of independence from foreign occupation yesterday with traditional fervour and gaiety.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Wed 18 Aug 2004, 9:55 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:15 PM

The National Day celebration was kicked off at the embassy by Faisal Bafadal, the Indonesian Ambassador who delivered the special Independence Day message to the community members followed by the singing of national anthem and cutting of the Tumpeng, a traditional rice pyramid.

Quoting from the Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri's speech to the Parliament, Mr Bafadal said that the National Day is a special occasion to remember and appreciate the sacrifices of the national heroes who freed the country from more than 350 years of foreign rule.

"Following the footsteps of our great leaders, every Indonesian citizen has to play his part in national development by contributing to the cause of the country," he told the audience.

The ambassador also took the occasion to reflect on the various achievements of the current Indonesian government in terms of economic growth and political reform.

"Our economy has improved steadily with a current growth rate of 4.5 per cent and a projected rate of 5.4 per cent next year. The currency exchange rate has also been stable with 6,800 rupees per dollar as against the 15,000 rupees per dollar in 1997 when the country was passing through the worst economic crisis."

Underlining the need of more investment from the UAE to improve Indonesia's infrastructure, Mr Bafadal noted that his government is taking necessary measures to tackle unemployment, poverty and corruption that is embedded in the system.

"The parliament is planning to pass an investment bill soon to attract investors by providing them with all possible facilities and security in the country," he added.

Touching upon the latest direct presidential election being held for the first time in Indonesia, the ambassador said that Indonesia has won international praise for its democratic reforms and that the fair and peaceful election conducted in a single day and participated in by 147 million voters have been lauded as a political miracle by the London-based magazine Economist.

Elaborating on the efforts undertaken by the embassy to improve the plight of Indonesian domestic workers in the UAE, the ambassador said that he has put forward a proposal to the Indonesian government to streamline their recruitment to the effect that the embassy is notified whenever they arrive in the UAE.

"If our proposed scheme is approved by the government, it will enable the embassy to maintain a database of our workers in the UAE and intervene on their behalf whenever necessary."

Meanwhile, nearly 300 Indonesian expatriates turned up at the Indonesian Consulate, Dubai to take part in the celebrations that started off with the early morning flag hoisting ceremony conducted by the Consul General of Indonesia, Mr Muchtar.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, the consul general said that it was the first time that the consulate was celebrating the Independence Day because the Dubai Consulate had been open for a year only. "The Dubai Consulate was opened in 2003, and I am the first consul general to represent my country in the UAE," he said.

During his Independence Day speech, the consul general spoke about the upcoming elections in the country on September 20. He also guided the people on how to increase or improve the democratisation process in Indonesia. He urged the UAE-based Indonesians to actively take part in the upcoming elections.

He said that nearly 40,000 members of the Indonesian community were present in the UAE, out of which 1,600 were skilled workers. Indonesia will be holding the first presidential elections by the people on September 20.

Mr Muchtar also said that as part of the celebrations, several sporting events including badminton, table tennis as well as art and cultural events will be held in September, when many people would have returned to the UAE after completing their summer vacations.

Later, a sumptuous feast of traditional foods was also served to the members of the Indonesian community.

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