According to the foreign ministry, more than seven million people make up the Indonesian diaspora, which includes people of Indonesian descent, legal and illegal migrant workers. 

Most of them are in Malaysia, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Singapore. 

Citizens living abroad and former Indonesians cite a gamut of reasons for migrating: Education and work opportunities, stability in their chosen countries, marriage, and a relatively weak Indonesian passport.

When Ms Vivi Fajar left for the US 18 years ago, the plan was to get her master’s degree in business administration, then gain some work experience there before returning. 

“But gradually my job became pleasant and I (made) many friends,” said the 41-year-old, an insurance administrator who now lives with her husband and three children in California.

Besides having good mosques nearby, “I also often meet up with Indonesian friends, go to the park and beach to enjoy the fresh air and nature, which is not possible in Jakarta”, she said. Indonesia’s capital, where Ms Vivi used to live, is known for its air pollution.

Rotterdam resident Monique Patricia, 54, has lived in the Netherlands since 2017. She moved there from Singapore, where she lived from 1999.

She cited the countries’ structured environment as a draw and said she plans to retire in the Netherlands. Although the income tax rate there is higher, at “nearly 50 per cent”, there are “significant benefits”, said the entrepreneur.

“Education fees from primary school through high school, and health insurance for my daughter are covered until she turns 18,” said Ms Monique.


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