In Australia, Indonesians Cast Their Vote

CANBERRA ~ While cities and towns throughout Indonesia – from Sumatra, Java and Bali to the scattered provinces of eastern Indonesia – have for months been adorned with the colorful signs of the country’s general election, Indonesians living in Australia marked their democratic exercise in a much more sedate way.

Australia’s capital, Canberra, is home to a large community of Indonesian nationals, but nowhere in Canberra is seen the mass of election billboards, banners and flags and posters which festoon Indonesian towns promoting the numerous “calons” or candidates, seeking public office through the voice of the people.

Far from the busy streets, villages and ricefields of Bali, in the leafy confines of Canberra’s diplomatic area – Yarralumla – the Indonesian embassy had a busy week, as on Thursday, some 500 members of the Indonesian community in Canberra cast their votes to determine their country’s future.

According to the Indonesian embassy, some 50,000 Indonesians live in Australia – with more than 34,000 eligible to vote.

Canberra’s centers of learning – the Australian National University and the University of Canberra draws a firm number of students from Indonesia.

Canberra is also home to members of the Australian Indonesian Family Association – a local organization of Indonesians who have settled in the capital over the years, many of them married to Australians.

Many of these cast their ballot this week.

Given what’s been described as confusion over the high number of parties and candidates and the diversity and complexity of policies, some local sources have suggested a sense of uncertainly in the minds of the voters in Canberra about who to vote for and what candidates stand for.

However, even though they are separated by thousands of kilometers from their country, the Indonesian nationals in Canberra still show a keen interest in the political situation and future direction of their country. (From John Janke in Canberra)

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