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"Unity in Diversity" revisited

             Behind the screen of an united Indonesia that is being presented to foreigners and Indonesians alike, lie the prominent regional diversity that marks the identity of Indonesians in their everyday lives. Indonesians assert their national identity when they meet outsiders. But within local society, regional identity is more important (Wilson 1992:156). This is similar to other multiethnic societies, for instance, Singapore, in which a Singaporean will present oneself as a Singaporean to foreigners but within Singapore oneself, will categorise oneself as either a Chinese, Malay or Indian. In Indonesia, however, regional diversity is maintained due to its geographic situation, that is, the different islands of Indonesia remain separated and thus contact between people of different regions is difficult. Secondly, the government's transmigration policies also kept the people of different regions separate by developing areas specifically for migrants from a particular region settling down in the new homeland (Wilson 1992:157). .
             Having noted the importance of regional diversity, I now seek to explore certain issues related to regional diversity since Indonesia's independence. Especially since the New Order government was in place, there had been much criticism of the neglect of regional cultures by the state. Nonetheless, I argue that it is crucial to look beyond the negative impact of state policies in order to gain a more rounded perspective on the state's overall impact on regional cultures. Indeed, as will be shown, state policies had resulted in certain positive impact on regional cultures, albeit unintended.
             Maintenance of Regional Cultures .
             Essentially, there have been both changes and continuities in regional cultures since Indonesia's independence. In fact, this post-independent period in Indonesian history has seen similar cultural processes except two major changes during the New Order.

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