Fri, 01 Dec 2000

'Stop discrimination against ethnic Chinese'

JAKARTA (JP): Hailing the move of President Abdurrahman Wahid to allow Chinese-Indonesians to openly practice their religion and perform traditional Chinese ceremonies, sociologist Melly G. Tan on Thursday hoped that discrimination against her ethnic group could be immediately stopped.

Melly cited the requirement for Chinese-Indonesians applying for a passport to show their citizenship paper.

"Whereas for non-Chinese people, it's enough to show a birth certificate. It means there's discrimination against Indonesians of Chinese ancestry," she said on the sidelines of a book launching ceremony.

Such unfair treatment, she added, has created a great opportunity for immigration officers to get extra money through bribery.

Melly also questioned the possibility of Chinese-Indonesians becoming civil servants, top government officials or students at state universities in this country.

"There was a Chinese-born minister recently, but that was only one," she added, referring to former coordinating minister of economy and finance, Kwik Kian Gie.

During the 32-year-old New Order era of president Soeharto, Chinese symbols were banned and other Chinese cultural traditions were restricted.

President Abdurrahman Wahid recently revoked Soeharto's Presidential Instruction No. 41/1967, which restricted Chinese religious practices and traditions.

Expert on Chinese-Indonesians, Gondomono from University of Indonesia, shared Melly's views.

"Just because there are several Chinese-Indonesians who collaborated with this country's elites and became successful and rich, then the are Chinese always stereotyped and identified with shrewd business," he said.

According to Melly, many people like to assume that all Chinese are the same as certain Chinese-Indonesian businessmen who committed corruption, collusion and nepotism.

"People blame the prolonged monetary crisis on Chinese tycoons, such as (Muhamad) Bob Hasan, Eddy Tanzil and Liem Sioe Liong, while they actually couldn't do it if they didn't collaborate with non-Chinese people in the government and banking industry," she said.

Melly and Gondomono were speaking at the launch of a book titled Prejudice on Ethnic Chinese, An Abstract, written by Yusiu Liem, an Chinese-Indonesian professor.

The book is actually a translation of the summary of Liem's dissertation he made during his study in Germany. It is about the condition of ethnic Chinese in Indonesia during the 1970s to 1980s plus several writings on the May 1998 riots. (hdn)