Subject: E. Timorese graduates await RI citizenship decision

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

The Jakarta Post August 11, 2003

East Timorese graduates await citizenship decision

The Jakarta Post, Bandung

The fate of at least 20 East Timorese graduates from the National Public Administration Institute (STPDN) in the West Java town, Sumedang, remains unclear as they recently finished their studies there.

The government says it will determine whether the graduates will stay in Indonesia as government officials or will be sent home to East Timor, which broke away from Indonesia in 1999.

Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno said his office would discuss the matter with the East Timor government.

"They (the East Timorese graduates) can choose whether they wish to become Indonesian citizens or join their brothers in East Timor," he said.

Philipus Pathippelohi, one of the graduates, said that he and his colleagues were basically ready to stay in Indonesia due to uncertainties in their homeland.

However, he stressed that the country's policy on obtaining citizenship was unclear. He did not elaborate.

"If the citizenship policy continues to be uncertain, we will leave it to the Indonesian government and are prepared to be posted anywhere as government officials," said Philipus, who was accepted as an STPDN student in 1999.

"The point is that our future is uncertain in East Timor. Here it is certain that we will serve as civil servants," he added.

Philipus said the government here had offered the East Timorese students at the institute the chance to remain in the country as Indonesian citizens.

Hari said that if the East Timorese graduates changed their mind and decided to return to their home country, it would still bring advantages to Indonesia.

At least they can help bridge or mend communications between Indonesia and East Timor in order to strengthen bilateral ties, he said.

The minister denied the government had tried to establish complicated procedures for those wishing to become Indonesian citizens.

The 20 East Timorese were among 982 graduates from the STPDN in Jatinangor, Sumedang, which was established by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

On Friday, President Megawati Soekarnoputri officiated at the graduation ceremony of the students, the 11th batch to have graduated from the institute.

Along with these 20 East Timorese, STPDN has so far produced at least 7,704 graduates, 6,722 of whom have been posted to administrations across Indonesia.

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