Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Black May 1998: 5th Commemoration (23 of 24)

Parties urged to end discrimination
By Kurniawan Hari, Jakarta
The Jakarta Post (Saturday, October 4, 2003)

Leaders of Chinese Indonesian organizations said on Friday that the ethnic community here would only vote for political parties that consistently fight against any forms of discrimination.

Chairman of the Chinese Indonesians Union (INTI) Edy Lembong and chairman of the Chinese Indonesians Community Hertanto Surya said that some 16 million voters of Chinese-descent across the country would seek an end to widespread discriminative practices.

"We will support parties that promote an end to discrimination, not just discrimination against Chinese but all kinds of discrimination," Edy told a discussion here.

He said Chinese Indonesians were heterogeneous and had their own political affiliations.

Unlike other Indonesian citizens, Chinese Indonesians have to produce a certificate of their Indonesian citizenship, otherwise they will be considered foreigners, Edy said.

Currently, there are three political parties set up to accommodate Chinese Indonesians: The Indonesian Tionghoa Party (Partindo), the Tionghoa Reform Party, and the Bhinneka Party.

But most Chinese Indonesians prefer supporting the well known political parties.

Another speaker at the discussion, Lius Sungkarisma, the executive leader of the Tionghoa Reform Party, said he established the political party, not to contest the elections, but to educate Chinese Indonesians on politics.

Chinese Indonesians were isolated from politics during the 32-year rule of Soeharto. Many Chinese Indonesian businesspeople got special treatment from Soeharto at a high cost, namely the hatred of many native Indonesians.

He said that since Youth Oath Day in 1928, Chinese Indonesians had promoted nationalism among Indonesian people.

Lius said that following the downfall of Soeharto in 1998, there had been more space for Chinese Indonesians to express their political views.

He acknowledged that in past elections most Chinese Indonesians had voted for political parties on the basis of ensuring their safety.

According to him, the political awareness of Chinese Indonesians would help improve democracy because they would be critical of the performance of the existing parties.

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