Tue, 16 Aug 1994

Indonesians are proud of their nationality: Poll

JAKARTA (JP): The majority of Indonesians are proud of their nationality, but think that the onslaught of Western information through mass media may erode their nationalism, a new poll says.

Involving 1,000 people from three major cities, the poll by the Center for the Study of Development and Democracy (CESDA) revealed yesterday that a whopping 96 percent of its respondents said they are proud of being Indonesians.

As many as 50 percent of all respondents, however, agreed that "foreign cultures, especially from the Western countries, can erode people's sense of nationalism", the poll revealed.

Rustam Ibrahim, director of LP3ES, the non-governmental organization (NGO) actively examining social and economic issues which oversees CESDA, told the press that the poll was designed to examine whether recent discourses on the allegedly declining nationalism among people had any foundation.

Some 57 percent of them said their pride remains constant, while 32 percent said they are proud only when Indonesia receives international honors or awards.

Rustam said 73 percent of the respondents translated their sense of pride by paying attention to various problems faced by Indonesia. Of these, 80 percent were university or college educated.

The poll also found that 36 percent said poverty is the most important problem Indonesia has to solve now, followed by 21 percent who cited unemployment, 18 percent who wished to see more opportunity for quality education, and seven percent who thought that rampant corruption is the most serious problem faced by the country.

Rustam said, 74 percent of all respondents said the government and the people bear equal responsibility to tackle the problems, while 19 percent thought they are the sole responsibility of the government.

The designers of the poll also tried to gauge the respondents' involvement with the nation's political process by asking what political parties they voted in the 1992 general elections.

Despite the government's campaign on making people's votes a "free and confidential" business, 47 percent of the respondents revealed their choices.

The poll said 29 percent of the respondents voted for the ruling group Golkar, 10 percent voted for the Moslem-based United Development Party (PPP), and eight percent supported the populist Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI).

The largest group, however, refused to reveal their political aspiration, saying their choice was a secret.

Most of them, both with high and low education levels, also said they are first Indonesians before anything else; membership of certain ethnic groups or religions come second.

This finding indicates that "the efforts to integrate the multiethnic Indonesia is successful and that (the government) does not have to worry too much that different ethnic groups here would cause frictions," according to Rustam.


When it comes to religions, however, the respondents' answers were not as uniform. According to Rustam, 30 percent said they put their Indonesian identity first before their religions, while 14 percent respondents said they feel they are first followers of certain religion, and put their nationality second.

Rustam interpreted the finding as proof that religions, compared to ethnic groups, present more potential for conflicts.

"So if some people are afraid that sectarianism is growing here, then their concern contains a grain of truth," he said.

His statement caused protests from reporters and other people attending the small discussion yesterday, who felt that the conclusion was too hastily made.

A reporter pointed out that suspicion of people of ethnic Chinese descent-- many of whom dominate the country's economy --is real and has not been covered by the poll.

LP3ES, an NGO concerned with economic and social issues, conducted the poll on nationalism from July 4 to 23 in Jakarta, Surabaya, East Java, and Medan, North Sumatra. (swe)