Thursday, May 20, 2004

Black May 1998: 6th Commemoration (7 of 40)

Making Chinese New Year a holiday is good step
The Jakarta Post (Saturday, January 24, 2004)

The celebration on Thursday of the Chinese New Year, known here as Imlek, was a peaceful and joyous event. This was the second year the celebration has taken place since the government declared Imlek a national holiday in 2002. However, The Jakarta Post spoke with several people who said Chinese-Indonesians still have some way to go before they are fully accepted here.

Dewi Bastina, 24, works as a reporter at a radio station in Central Jakarta. She is a native Indonesian and lives with her parents in Pondok Kopi, East Jakarta:
It's good to have Imlek celebrated as a national holiday because it could help fight discrimination against the Chinese.

Yet, I cannot help but think that the openly celebrated Imlek is just a formality, as there's still discrimination against the Chinese.

If you are Chinese and you want to get an identity card or a passport, you have to submit an Indonesian citizenship certificate. Native Indonesians don't have to do that.

This huge wall standing between the Chinese and native Indonesians divides them into two different sides, leaving them still prejudiced toward each other.

We need efforts from all layers of society to appreciate other ethnic groups. It's diversity that makes this world wonderful.

Lanny Winata, 35, is Chinese-Indonesian and works as a manager in Central Jakarta. She lives with her parents in Kota, West Jakarta:

Making Imlek a national holiday is a positive step and is somehow a recognition of the existence of Chinese, whereas in the past we were treated like the "stepchildren".

But from my observations, too many political figures are using this occasion as an opportunity to gain support and garner votes from the people. I'm not being negative, but look at how so many party leaders show up on television, trying to earn our sympathy.

I hope that in the future, Imlek will be celebrated more openly but will be less commercialized.

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