Thursday, May 20, 2004

Black May 1998: 6th Commemoration (3 of 40)

'We Face Discrimination from Govt Officials'
The Jakarta Post (Wednesday, January 21, 2004)

Chinese-Indonesians will celebrate Imlek or the Chinese New Year from late Wednesday to early Thursday. Public celebrations were permitted with the issuance of a presidential decree by former president Abdurrahman Wahid in 2000 that revoked Presidential Instruction No. 14/1967 on Chinese religion, tradition and beliefs. Last year, the government declared Imlek a national holiday. The Jakarta Post talked to some people about the issue.

Widyawati Djuana, 27, is an employee at a financial firm in the Artha Graha building in South Jakarta. She lives with her husband and baby daughter in Setiabudi, South Jakarta:
"Imlek festivities are merrier compared to five years ago. Many people take part in the celebration, regardless of their ethnicity or religion. I have seen some non-Chinese people buying Chinese New Year paraphernalia at malls and shopping centers.

Unfortunately, there is still discriminatory treatment from government officers, especially when we apply for documents. In many cases, those officers still require us to show the SBKRI (citizenship certificate for nonindigenous people) before they will accept our application."

Rosdiana, 23, is a Chinese-Indonesian housewife who lives with her husband in Ciputat, Tangerang:

"The Imlek festival is very different because the Chinese Lunar Year was officially declared a national holiday last year.

Once, we had to take leave for the celebration but now we all enjoy the holiday. The celebration is also held openly in public and aired on television. It's good.

Public acceptance is also evident. Seeing people talking in Chinese in public places is a common sight now, even on board public buses.

I remember five years ago my father always warned me not to speak in Chinese while I was in public places.

However, I must admit that discrimination remains in our government. Nothing has changed particularly when we try to obtain documents."

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