TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - I am just a regular Indonesian citizen who happen to be an immigrant in the United States. This opinion reflects my concern and love towards both of my country, Indonesia, and the place where I live, the U.S., that has always been nearing and dearing to my heart. Being a professional who was once an academician in engineering, in no way am I claiming to be an expert at all in politics. However, I am still hoping that these two-cents of mine will enlighten readers in Indonesia who are possibly as confused as I am when reading or hearing the news about both Indonesia and the US. I am not hopeful that this opinion will change the way the politicians act as they are just representing us in general. To me, no government on earth is not suitable for its people. After all the government is just representing its people. The people elect the government and not the other way around. In short, if the society is honest than we get honest politicians and subsequently hones government; if the society is corrupt than we got corrupt politicians which leads to corrupt government. They are just reflections of us, not the other way around.
I will start by my recent lunch in the cafeteria at my work place several days ago. “Google Stops Hiring H1B Professionals”, that’s the local newspaper headline that catches my eyes. When I opened the newspaper further, the op-ed section titled “Don’t give Silicon Valley H1Bs Anymore!”. At first, I didn’t even want to read the articles. As I was finishing my lunch, I had nothing in my hand, so I ended up continue reading and flipping the newspaper. For those who are not familiar, the H-1B is a visa in the US under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H) which allows US employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. The limit for this visa issuance is 65,000 annually. Those are the federal waivers handed out to highly trained workers in fields such as technology who don’t plan to immigrate to the US. It usually expires after 6 years.
Both the headline and the op-ed in the newspaper I was reading is indeed the reflection of what the society feels here although it is completely the opposite with last year's news, as I recall. A lobbying group whose members included Twitter, Netflix, Facebook, and Google urged President-elect Donald Trump to increase the number. “The U.S. immigration system must allow more high-skilled graduates and workers to stay in the United States and contribute to our economy,” wrote Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association. I also remember that soon after that, tech big shots like Apple CEO Tim Cook, Alphabet CEO Larry Page and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella met with Trump in New York to pitch a similar nuance.
The article I read in the newspaper now basically accusing that the economic argument, the industry suffers from a shortage of workers, is false and misleading. In reality, though there is proof that big tech companies take advantage of the H1B program to drive their bottom line. The law permits companies to lay off their own employees in favor of foreign workers doing the work in the states or overseas. Think about that, the law does more than look the other way at firms that hire foreign workers instead of American citizens; it allows companies to ditch their own employees so they can hire foreign nationals.
The article continue with presenting more accusation. It says the law rewards companies for outsourcing their training programs. About half, or 40,000 of the visas handed out each year, don’t go to firms such as Microsoft, Apple or Facebook, the companies we think about when we hear H1B. They go to professional offshore outsourcing firms such as Cognizant, which received 9,000 H1B’s. Outsourcing firms operate an almost pyramid-like system: they bring foreign nationals to the United States, who then learn the jobs of American citizens. Then these foreign workers return home overseas. Many times, the best workers in India arrive in a tech-friendly city such as Seattle, learn the ins and outs of their host company, fly back to the subcontinent to run a call center or IT department, and train their workers with the skills they learned in the United States.
Indeed, the article that I read during my lunch time made me wonder. Have Americans really changed this much?? Is America really a closed country now?? Is the spirit of being an immigrant country really disappeared now?? Because those two articles are just reflections of what society is, I think. Is this society really changing from its rhetoric from ‘Globalization’ to ‘Nationalism’? or is it just the continuation of president Trump slogan ‘Make America Great Again’? Where is the pluralism that used to be driven by former president Obama? Or was it too soon to elect Obama as president, and as a result we now have the president with the view that is completely the opposite? I personally take it like what president Trump does is making a big and cheap drama, such that the majority white people being marginalized and replaced by foreign born people and non-white people. It is such a big joke that cannot happen in hundreds of years! If it even ever happens.
As I went home from work, as usual I checked my Indonesian news. Sigh…. It is not much of different. Still I see the same nuance. Indonesian politicians playing cheap slogan, making the drama such as the muslim majority being the victims. It is absurd and ridiculous. The so called of ‘Islamic Defender Groups’ dominates the media and seems so desperate to influence the government again by waging the drama such as being majority in Indonesia, they are the victim of the oppression. This is identical with how the hillbillies in America feel that the Hispanic is going to take over their lands, it is ludicrous and bizarre accusation.
I will tell you here: Indonesians need to learn to protect the minority groups, instead of playing what president Trump plays here in America. For once, let’s be better than America. Do Not Play the Victim When You are Majority. Until I see kids from non-muslim families wanting to go and actually enrolled in muslim schools and universities, I do not believe that the majority in Indonesia is protecting the minority groups in Indonesia. Until I see no complain from the minority groups on how disturbing the loud-speaker from the mosques disturbing the minority, I do not believe the majority even care about the minority groups. Until I see no more muslims trying to defend their calling ‘kafir’ and trying to explain the meaning of it to the minority groups, I do not believe that the majority in Indonesia is protecting and loving their minority groups.
Politicians should work on that instead of exploiting the un-educated groups scattered around the archipelago. It is ugly enough to see how a president can gain popularity by creating a drama that the white majority is being marginalized. It would be uglier to see how our politicians are copying the same drama to make the muslim majority seem 'marginalized'. Do not take advantage of social media by exploiting emotional issues that degrade the awareness of our positive ratio for the electoral gains.
Written by: Yunan Prawoto
Articles published in the “Your Views & Stories” section of en.tempo.co website are personal opinions written by third parties, and cannot be related or attributed to en.tempo.co’s official stance.