Posted by: mel | June 26, 2009

Ethnic Chinese Said to Blame Prabowo for 1998

Jakarta Globe | Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Amir Tejo | 24 June 2009

Prabowo Subianto, the running mate of presidential candidate Megawati Sukarnoputri, is about to meet with Surabaya’s Chinese Indonesians on Wednesday. (Photo: Tri Pamungkas, JG)

Prabowo Subianto, the running mate of presidential candidate Megawati Sukarnoputri, is about to meet with Surabaya’s Chinese Indonesians on Wednesday. (Photo: Tri Pamungkas, JG)

An activist claimed on Wednesday that the majority of Chinese-Indonesians believed Prabowo Subianto, who is currently running for vice president, played a significant role in the 1998 violence that took a heavy toll on their community.

Sidharta Adhimulya, the founder of the Committee of Chinese-Indonesians Concerned about the General Election, said that the vast majority of ethnic Chinese in the country believed that the violence was closely linked to Prabowo, who was at the time an active Army general. 

“Ninety-nine point nine percent [of Chinese-Indonesians], I can say that much,” Sidharta said of the number of those in the community who believed that Prabowo had masterminded the violence, which targeted businesses owned by ethnic Chinese. 

While there have been numerous claims and rumors regarding Prabowo’s involvement in the violence, he has never been charged with a crime in criminal court. 

Sidharta said that Chinese-Indonesians were the third largest ethnic community in the country, after the Javanese and Sundanese, and that they wanted a personal explanation from Prabowo of the events of 1998. 

However, he said he doubted that any explanation from former President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s running mate would be forthcoming. 

“It’s hard enough to ask for clarification about the administrative fee [for ethnic Chinese] seeking identity cards. It will be even harder to ask for clarification from Prabowo …,” Sidharta said. 

He said the Chinese-Indonesian community had little involvement in politics, the legacy of three decades of authoritarian rule under former President Suharto, who was forced to step down following the 1998 violence. 

Sidharta said that the community also wanted to correct the misconception that the Indonesian economy was dominated by Chinese-Indonesians. He said ethnic Chinese controlled only 3 percent to 5 percent of trade in the country. 

The secretary of the Megawati-Prabowo campaign team, Hasto Kristianto, dismissed Sidharta’s claims as part of efforts to tarnish the pair’s reputation ahead of the July 8 election. 

Prabowo, who is a former son-in-law of Suharto, was forced to retire by a military honorary council after a military court found that men belonging to the so-called Tim Mawar (Rose Team), which was under his command, were guilty of kidnapping pro-democracy activists during the 1998 unrest. 

Hasto said the actions of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, himself a retired Army general, before and after the 1998 unrest should also be scrutinized. 

Yudhoyono, who is running for re-election, was the head of the military’s influential Social and Political Affairs Unit at the time of the violence, and later became the head of territorial affairs for the Armed Forces. 

“We should find out what SBY did during the unrest, when he occupied very important military positions,” Hasto said.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: