Posted by: mel | February 2, 2009

Why Are Chinese Indonesians Discriminated Against?



  • Jinyu – Jakarta, IndonesiaI think the above question is pretty obvious. The government fail to educate its people. Indonesia old government hardly acknowledge chinese as part of its citizen. This is quite true if we gone through indonesian history. Most of the current policies never favour other ethnic except Indonesians. Though, Indonesian chinese are ‘Indonesians’ by large, their cultural aspects are not really accepted in society. Take example from its language. During old government, Chinese language are never accepted as part of its existence. Not to mention on the traditional aspects such as chinese new year celebration.The government hardly encourage its citizenship to mingle around with each other. ‘No Thanks’ to the older government policies which create segregation between chinese and non-chinese.
    Not to mention that most ‘Outsiders’ always has the assumpation that Indonesians Chinese are RICH and WELL TO DO. The same goes to some of Indonesian who always has the assumption that Chinese are rich and hard to get along with. In reality, there are huge number of Chinese that live below poverty line. There are Chinese who earn his living by doing odd jobs such as rickshaw peddler; yet none of them are being exposed to the world. At the other end, minority well to do chinese is being over exposed as the icon that represent majority chinese in Indonesia. This really creates a gap and misconception towards chinese Indonesians.Consequently, it is very obvious that Chinese Indonesians are obviously barred for political field. I have no idea how truth is the current situation now. But in my generation, i was graduated from local senior high school in 1997, one policy clearly stated that only muslims can qualified as Indonesian president. And Chinese Indonesians are non-existence as the member of parliment during that time. Unless, the government can gradually change the basic policies or else chinese indonesian will still being discriminated in the long run.
    New government do have different way of doing things. Unfortunately the new government is still not strong enough as most of the ‘old goat’ are still on the stirring wheel. So the above answer is pretty obvious. Start from the government sectors. You need a minority to represent its ethnic and voice out their opinion. I think Chinese are mostly non-exist in term of political entrance in Indonesia. I hardly can imagine if there is any Chinese Indonesian who pursues political sciences in Indonesian. Or do they really eligible in this courses at all? :)
    I did mine at overseas cause i was curious enough to figure out what the course can offer. Suprisingly i was the only one who took this major during that time. I believe i will have a hard time to survive in this course if i did it in indonsia. :)  I think it will take the government few decades before it can ended the discrimination of chinese indonesians in public sector. Educate it people by starting with changing the policies.
    Take singapore as example. By large, Singapore major population is chinese but the government admit the existence of other ethnicity such as Malays, Indians and others (caucasians). The government continously impose the importance of multicultural for the young generation. Its policy never favour one ethnic in term of private and public sector. Probably, the indonesian government need to spend more time in order to renew its old policies that hurdles the existance of chinese indonesians in public service sectors.
  • Anne – Jakarta, Indonesia Whoever keeps saying in negative tone that Chinese people have been controlling Indonesian Business for 35 years — and therefore are justified victims of their entrepreneurial hard works — is misleading people with the same-old same-old cliche, and must have missed the happenings in this country for the last 4 years or so. The fact is, the richest man in this country is no longer Liem soei Liong, but Aburizal Bakrie. And among the top earner middle class are those working at BUMN. this kind of cliche is the reason why chinese are still discriminated.To end it, Public Servants have to be EDUCATED that, If income disparity –especially if it is the result of a gap in work ethics and/or sense of entrepreneurial– used as a justification to keep discriminating others, it will not help with the high unemployment rate this country is suffering from.By the way, the truth of the matter is, this past 2 years, the Government has been helping Indonesian ‘Pribumi’ with a lot of easy funding.The money came from taxing the already prosperous community. Stop using your Ethnicity to make other ethnic’s life more difficult. It is so irrelevant, this is 21st century.
  • goodwill – Jakarta, Indonesia Are you kidding? Chinese Indonesians still receive discrimination? for the last decade there’s no more discrimination I say, I’m working in one of the government office in indonesia, and I have chinese colleagues also, no discrimination there,.. it’s just that most of them don’t want to be a government official. maybe the chinese should open themself up and blend in! in this country religious discrimination is far greater than racial discrimination.
  • Danujasa – Jakarta, IndonesiaIn the present reformation era in our country, they could go to KPK (Corruption Eradication Comission) or ICW (International Corruption Watch) led by Teten Masduki or write the case in newspaper reader’s column like this one.In the past, during the New Order era, they received discrimination in public services sector because at that time our country did not have well-known anti corruption bodies and full freedom of the press.But now in the era of openness and reformation, if any of them still receive discrimination in public services sector, then it is their duties to report to the respected anti corruption bodies I mentioned earlier. KPK and ICW are expected to be more active in investigating those cases.In the information century we are having now, every bad things happened to any Indonesian citizens regardless their races, religions, tribes; should be reported in the newspaper, magazines, and on-line media so that the authorities can handle them quicker and better, and our country’s name get better as a good country for foreign investment and business. Finally, it that could be done, more business and investment will create jobs and other business for small-scale traders.
  • maulana – Jakarta, Indonesiafirst of all, the Indonesian-Chinese must be inclusive by seeing that indigenous Indonesians are at the same level as they are, not undermining them. In fact, most Indonesian-Chinese consider the indigenous people as the inferior which deserve to be treated as the slave. This is true that in many Indonesian-Chinese owned companies, a glass ceiling practice is applicable, meaning that strategic position can only be held by Indonesian-Chinese with no chance for indigenous Indonesians to occupy such strategic position.
    So, if the Indonesian-Chinese wants to be equal, they must first take the indigenous people as equal as they are.
  • Lie – Jakarta, IndonesiaRather about ‘discrimination’, it’s more about ‘preference’. Chinese prefer to work in a corporate business rather that public services. Acknowleding the fact that most business in Indonesia, especially the ‘private’ sector is dominated by Chinese, It is common sense for chinese to stick in those business which is their comfort zone.By being in the chinese owned business, chinese enjoy that comfort zone.But, it is recommended for our NATION, INDONESIA, to annihilate every kind of DISCRIMINTATION that exist in our lovely country. After the discrimination is annihilated, let the preference choose whic business sector is better for both chinese or non-chinese…take notes, though chinese or non-chinese preference is different one another, we work AS ONE for INDONESIA ECONOMY… so though we work in different side of business (public – private) our main goal must be set ‘as one’ in order to reach BETTER INDONESIA in the future…regards,
  • M Cassell – Ohio, USA These kind of treatments have been in the flesh&blood of every other race that’re non-Chinese in Indonesia. Why these attitudes happened in the first place??? It’s the same attitude as how the world percieved the Jewish people : “That the Jewish (in this matter, the Chinese) are hoarding and controlling money/economy”.It was a discrimination and hatred that were fertilized by the generations before us, based on covets, jealousies, greeds, illiterate and uneducated.Yes, the majority of the Chinese in Indonesia (please note, it’s the majority…there’re tons of Chinese-Indo that’re still living under the poverty line) are economically settled, but that’s because of the hardwork that was earned by the generations before. And please don’t blame the convenience life that the new generations experienced….although, sometimes it is disgusting to watch some of these people spend their money like water, but…if we look at the positive side, this spending behaviour also churn the economy.And because of that, more hatred toward the Chinese (although there’re also lots of the non-Chinese that crazily spend their money). No matter what, The Chinese people are the scape-goat for all of the Indonesian people’s problem. And by not letting the Chinese people entering the public services / government positions, it’s the way the Government declare to the people that the Chinese are the second class citizens.There’s no way to stop this discrimination. Because there’s no way to end people’s jealousies, greeds, and covets. And the Chinese were made to be the easy-target by the government to hide their own problems.
    Although there’s still hope by educating the people,,,but because of the unorganized and corrupt government, these will take decades or maybe centuries for it to work.

    I rest my case.

  • Briend – Brisbane, AustraliaEach and every time a government office discriminates in any way, especially in provinces that restrict freedoms, sue the office and every individual in it. Create a situation that makes life miserable for them, and if these suits can start to be won, then the monetary losses will certainly change their minds about discriminating the next time.
  • Rob Baiton – Jakarta, IndonesiaIt is interesting to read the justifications for racism and discrimination put forward by other “voices” answering the question posed.The idea that the Indonesian Chinese “control” the economy is a Soeharto era race card. Simply, when things were not going so well economically the Indonesian Chinese were an easy scapegoat. The Soeharto clan are alleged to have amassed a fortune of up to USD 35 billion throughout the new order regime. When you factor in the non-Indonesian Chinese cronies, then it would seem that “pribumis” controlled a fair whack of the economy in their own right!The idea that Indonesian Chinese are purveyors of “groupism” is interesting as it would seem that in many parts of diverse Indonesia it is not only the Indonesian Chinese who are into groupism.It is time that Indonesians collectively faced the scourge of racism and discrimination. This means not only enacting some laws and regulations aimed at reducing and preventing the racist and discriminative practices but rather actively sort to enforce the laws as they currently stand.Simply, there is no justification for racism and discrimination!
  • Middle Class Chinese Indonesian – Pontianak, Indonesia First of all, there’s one point I would like to elucidate : Chinese Indonesians are not any richer than native Indonesians.
    Chinese Indonesians tend to be more urban therefore perceived to be more wealthy.
    If one were to visit West Kalimantan, one can see that so there are so many poor Chinese.
    If I have to say, the wealthy one are the government officials especially those in the upper echelons.
    Because there are indeed some wealthy Chinese Indonesians and Chinese are a distinct minority, they are the easiest scapegoat for daily problems in Indonesia.
    For as long as this stereotype is still around, I hardly expect an end to discrimination.
    To further prove my point, Paulus Wira, who I assume is a native Indonesian, point out some “solutions” that “pribumi” should be given a share in Chinese businesses. If it were that way, who should be given those shares (more government officials?? GOSH NO). I’d have to say that’s irrational.
    Educated Chinese should be allowed to work in public sector??
    who says that they are not allowed to? I’d have to say that cronyism is so deep-rooted in Indonesia that to work in public sector, one generally has to prepare some kind of bribe or through nepotism. 
  • sutoyo j susanto – Jakarta, Indonesia When it comes to public services, all Indonesian will receive the same treatment I believe, they don’t look at the color of your skin to serve you the best but they look at the size of your wallet.So, our fellow chinese descents stop whining about how bad you are being treated, you are still better off compared to the majority. And please, let yourself instrospect, have you treated your fellow Indonesian equally when it comes to career path in your exclusive business environment – do you still consider your kind to be the first being promoted. You are not special and we aren’t either.
  • Dion Alberto – Gresik, Indonesia i think it’s quite hard and takes many times and years to erase discrimination over differences, because discrimination exist many many years.
  • Lance Woodworth – Orlando, Florida, USAIt is very difficult to end either a Chinese felt discrimination when the Chinese control so much business in Indonesia from their 35 year ties to Soeharto and the post Sokarno revolution that saw thousands of Chinese Indonesian die at the hand of fellow Indonesians. However, a good place to start is by teaching one person at a time that discrimination is the devil. God made us all so how can one be better than the other. Discrimination is learned. It is not something that springs from the mind. To eliminate it educating the ones who are discriminating is very helpful, if possible. In Indonesia because it is a country of such rich culture and ethnic diversity the possibility of discrimination is expansive.In America we have discrimination even today black against white and white against black and black againt black, etc.. There will always be discrimination so accepting it is also helpful so you don’t get upset if you are the target of it. And, we all are discriminated against in some way. But GOD, OH GOD is so mercyful that if you live to forgive and love thy neighbor as you love thyself discrimination will not be a major problem in your thinking.Thank you.
    Lance Woodworth
    I am a former resident of Jakarta and worked in Indonesia from 1992-1998. I married a beautiful Indonesian women.
  • Paulus Wira – Jakarta, Indonesia1. All chinese indonesian must treat the Prebumi Indonesians as their brother and sisters.
    2. Chinese mentality of groupism that means, chinese business, chinese real estate, chinese factories,chinese shops ….all business should run as real Indonesian business not chinese business.
    3. Prebumis should be given a compulsary partnership like in Malaysia
    4. Allchinese busineses in Indonesia shound not be operated without Prebumi Indonesian Parnership.
    5.Corruptive Goverment officials always support chinese business man for legalising the business operations, like issuing Licences,taking commisions for arranging bank loans, tax concession…etc. Should be stoped.
    6. In 1960s, 1970s,,,lots of chinese workers were there in jakatra area, today not even a single chinese person working as tukang kayu, supir atau worker.
    7. Housing allocataions should be mixed with Indonesians. Not all chinese live in Kelapa gading or Murakarang.Ancol barat, Glodak….
    8. Educated chinese sholud be allowed to work in Goverment sectors.
    9.All races should be treated as Indonesian Citizens( Arabs, Indians, Chinese, others)
    We can end this practice, if we follow the above points.
  • whaden – Madrid, Spanyol Chinese indonesias are still discriminated, but not in the negative way as it is supposed. As i see, chinese inmigration in Indonesia is not like in other countries, as they still have much more money and economic power (it promotes a political power, too) than any other national birth indonesian.Hope Indonesia!!
  • reiujgvrn – Jakarta, Indonesia definitely it’s still far away for chinese indonesians to be free from discrimination.
    first of all, most chinese indonesians are not moslem. in this secular country soon to be saudi of the east where islam continues to enroach once mighty secular political establishment and the definition of mainstream indonesian islam continues to shift to the more radical side, it’s just natural for non-moslems to be discriminated. even unorthodox moslems (ahmadiyya + lia eden’s sect) are persecuted by their own compatriots.
    secondly, indonesia doesn’t have enough experience in tackling discrimination. up until 1998, discrimination had been state-sponsored. only recently anti-discrimination act was passed. but, it’s obvious that the act was deliberately sabotaged by some legislators by excluding religion from prohibited discrimination excuse. everybody knows that the victim of discriminations are mostly non-moslems (mostly eastern indonesians and chinese indonesians). therefore the sabotaged anti-discrimination act gives very comfortable leeway to discriminate against chinese indonesians. but even if discrimination on religion ground were prohibited, it doesn’t make chinese indonesians instantly well protected. anti-discrimination act (as any other acts) takes time to be firmly entrenched to indonesian legal system.
    thirdly, the current economic crisis makes the dream of keeping discrimination away from indonesia become unrealistic. during economic crisis, politicians always race to persecute entrepreneurs like churches raced to hunt witch doctors in middle age europe. since it’s widely perceived that most (wealthy) entrepreneurs are chinese, it’s just natural that chinese indonesians are very comfortable scapegoat during economic crisis.
    fourthly and lastly, even with their perceived to be immense wealth, chinese indonesian entrepreneurs are perceived to still run business in old-style, that is family run. assuming all these perceptions are correct, it’s just natural that their immense wealth would never leave their family, and therefore other indonesians would never get a share of their wealth and therefore enhancing popular support for anti-chinese discrimination.

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