Commission III of House would keep striving hard to prevent visa-free facility for foreign tourists as they tend to abuse the facility given. An example was tourists from China who tend to take over job opportunities of Indonesians. “They same was tourists from Korea who operated in Indonesia using local Indonesians as ‘mask’. There was a Karaoke labeled an Indonesian Dangdut celebrity but the owners were Koreans.” Wahidi Wiyanto, member of Commission III of the Gerindra fraction told Business News (31/7).
Previously Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Indroyono Soesilo underlined the positive side of Visa Free system: it minimized the negative effect of Rupiah weakening against USD. Rupiah depreciation automatically reduced expenses of visiting Indonesia. A package tour to Bali for 3 days and 4 nights would cost USD 250 including air ticket. The Visa Free facility was to drum up tourist from China as China’s GDP increased.
The Indonesian Central Board of Statistics (BPS) posted the number of tourist coming to Indonesia in 2013 at 800,000 pax. But according to commission III it did mean that Visa free policy was needed. “Even before the Visa free policy was implemented China had already been dominating. I strongly criticize the Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasona Laoly.”
The modus operandi of abuse of Visa Free facility was by continually extending length of stay every 2 months each time the permit expired. Having enjoyed doing business here for one month they extended their meaning they may stay for another 2 months. At this point they flew back home just to fool the Indonesian immigration Dept. then they returned by showing exit stamp from Indonesia and work again here for another 2 months and the cycle continued on and on.
Realize it or not, the Visa Free Policy posed as a threat to Indonesian citizens including Indonesian citizens of Chinese origin. They who had lived in Indonesia for three or four generations could be disadvantaged by the illegal workers. They stowed away in broad daylight such as in BRI Building II Semanggi Bridge, a company called Huawei China employed Chinese citizens from manager to drivers. The Tanah Abang Trading Center, Mangga Dua and even Muara Baru were full of Chinese retailers. “If they keep flooding Indonesia, we as Indonesian of Chinese origin would be edged aside. With those who happened to study abroad and work abroad, no problem, but pity us who have to work in Indonesia.”
In a different location, the Minister of Maritime Affairs Indroyono Soesilo made a statement that the Visa Free Policy was in parallel with Indonesia’s External Policy. The principle of Visa Free Policy was based o President Joko Widodo’s will to get out of the box which was responded positively by the Miniter of Tourism Arif Yahya who was intensely collaborating with the School of Tourist Guide in China.
Soon graduates of the Indonesian School of Tourism might go to China to study Mandarin language. “Meanwhile we would map out the places in Indonesia once visited by Admiral Cheng Ho. The history of Cheng Ho was a good material for a thematic tour to Indonesia and this is what encouraged us to adopt the Visa Free policy for all countries including China.”
The policy for visitors from Taiwan was dealt with separately because the Government of RI adopted the One China Policy so Indonesia had no diplomatic relations with Taiwan. “The Visa Free Policy follows National Foreign Policy. We facilitate visa free for China, not for Taiwan or Hong Kong”.
The above policy did not mean to absolutely wall out tourist flow from Taiwan and Hong Kong. As APEC member. Taiwan and Hong Kong still had the right to make economic interactions with other members not as a state but as economic member. So Taiwan and Hong Kong were involved in APEC activities without hoisting their national flag. (SS)
Business New - August 5, 2015