Thu, 06 Jan 2000

Government to review anti-Chinese policies

JAKARTA (JP): The government pledged on Wednesday to review laws, government regulations and all discriminative policies against ethnic Chinese.

At least 13 government regulations and one presidential decree will be reviewed, with Minister of Home Affairs Surjadi Soedirja and Minister of Law and Legislation Yusril Ihza Mahendra assigned to study the technical aspects of the policies.

"They will make the follow-up details, including which laws can be neutralized at the moment," Coordinating Minister for Political Affairs and Security Gen. Wiranto told journalists following a Cabinet meeting.

During his visit to Beijing early in December, President Abdurrahman Wahid assured Chinese President Jiang Zemin that Jakarta was committed to fair and equal treatment for all and called on Indonesians of Chinese descent who fled the country to return.

Jakarta and Beijing resumed diplomatic ties in 1990 after being frozen since 1967 following an abortive communist coup which Indonesia claimed at the time involved China.

Chinese-Indonesians have often complained that the government treats them as second-class citizens. Careers for ethnic Chinese in the military and government bureaucracy are often limited if not altogether closed to them.

Among the various discriminative policies regularly cited are the banning of publications and advertisements using Chinese characters, and Presidential Instruction No. 14/1967 on Chinese religions, beliefs and traditions.

Others include the Minister of Home Affairs Instruction No. 455.2-360/1968 on the arrangement of Chinese temples; the Jakarta City Regulation on family registration cards, Cabinet presidium circular letter No. 6, in 1967, on the change in the usage of Tiongkok and Tionghoa -- both meaning Chinese -- to Cina.

Ampera Presidium Cabinet decree No. 127, in 1966, requires Chinese-Indonesians to adopt Indonesian names.

Ethnic Chinese make up only about 4 percent of Indonesia's 210 million people but are regarded as controlling much of the country's wealth. (prb)