Posted by: mel | May 21, 2009

New promises for RI’s ethnic Chinese

The Jakarta Post  |  Jakarta   |  Wed, 05/20/2009 |  Headlines

Having just won seats in the House of Representatives, two Chinese-Indonesian legislative candidates have pledged to fight for the rights of the country’s minority groups.

Democratic Party legislative candidate Eddy Sadeli said he was keen to focus on supervising public services because many Chinese-Indonesians still faced discrimination when dealing with the bureaucracy.

“It is no secret that Chinese-Indonesian people, especially those living in big cities, are treated like cash-cows in government offices,” Eddy said.

Another Democratic Party candidate, Ratnawati Wijana, said it would be her top priority to fight for equal rights and treatment of Indonesia’s minority groups.

“I am sure the new House, whose members have more diverse backgrounds, will be able to find solutions to the problems faced by the country’s minority groups,” she said.

After the 1965 communist “cleansing,” many Chinese Indonesians withdrew from politics, and generations that followed focused more on business.

After reformasi, a several Chinese Indonesians began to enter politics again. In the 1999 election, less than 50 Chinese Indonesians ran as legislative candidates, with four of them, including prominent economist Kwik Kian Gie, successfully securing positions at the House.

Five years later, the number increased to 172, running either for legislative seats or positions in the Regional Representatives Council (DPD). Among a dozen candidates who secured seats were the National Mandate Party’s Alvin Lie Lee Peng and the Democratic Party’s Rudianto Tjen.

In the 2009 general elections, according to the Nationalist Democratic Forum (Fordeka), an association of Chinese-Indonesian politicians, 58 Chinese candidates competed in Jakarta for seats in the House, the City Council and the DPD.

Ratnawati and Eddy are the only two Chinese Indonesians among 21 House seat winners from Jakarta.

With escalating religious and group sentiments in recent years, both Ratnawati and Eddy agreed that Chinese Indonesians needed their own representatives in the House to voice their interests.

“If one day, for example, there is a discussion about the implementation of *Islamic* sharia law, we, the Chinese-Indonesians, will have a way to speak up,” Eddy said. (hwa)

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