Saturday, May 19, 2007

Survey sees rising tide of regionalism*

Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Most Indonesians are willing to die to prevent separatism but at the same time are exhibiting stronger tendencies toward regionalism, a recent poll has revealed.

The latest survey conducted by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) confirmed Tuesday that regional autonomy, which started seven years ago predominantly to address the problem of separatism, has not solved the problem of regionalism.

However, many still think that local autonomy is the best political solution to many issues, particularly in overcoming poverty.

Of 1,240 respondents from 33 provinces surveyed between March 5 and March 15, 74 percent said that they were proud to be Indonesians, while only 26 percent said they were proud of their local heritage.

About 86 percent of respondents said they would oppose any secessionist movement, while 14 percent said they would not object if certain parts of the country gained independence.

The LSI concluded that 67 percent of the respondents had a strong feeling of loyalty toward Indonesia, compared to the 33 percent that had a weak sense of loyalty.

"Indonesians are not only nationalist but also patriotic," said Anis Baswedan, a senior researcher at the LSI.

However, the poll also found that more than half of the respondents, or 62 percent, were not tolerant toward people from outside their region. About 47 percent preferred putra daerah or local politicians to become regents, with 48 percent stating that governors should be locals.

"The statistical analysis shows that the sense of local autonomy is not correlated to the sense of national unity," said Anis.

"The implication of nationalism should be reflected in people's minds and in the state policy of equal opportunity. We have a problem with nationalism here because six out of 10 Indonesians are not tolerant toward their fellow citizens from other parts of the country," said Anis.

LSI also found that in general most people felt that local autonomy had had no significant impact on their lives when compared to the situation under the previous, centralized, government.

Only 23 percent said unemployment was being alleviated, 33 percent said there was no difference and 40 percent said it was worse than before.

About 27 percent said people were better off under local administrations, 34 percent said people still faced the same level of poverty and 34 percent said poverty was even worse.

"Generally people felt there was no difference between the previous centralized system and local autonomy. This indicates that local autonomy has not reached the goals expected by the public," said Anis.

Despite the discontent about local autonomy, people still preferred autonomy to centralism, with 73 percent of respondents supporting local autonomy and only 27 percent rejecting it. (02)

* Starting on National Desk

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