Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Indonesia's Way: A brand new form of discrimination against Chinese

In Indonesia, if you (in this case anybody that holds public service positions) can make things "difficult" to get money, then you'd do everything in your power to make sure your channel of "easy money" will not cease. And, the Chinese-Indonesians are those sapi perah (money-making machine), kelinci percobaan (guinea pig), kambing hitam (scapegoat), and kambing congek (one who is present but doesn't count as taking part) - depending on the situation - that are easily (and most of the times legally or politically justified) coerced to accept their "fate".

There are several positive notes on the good will to reduce discrimination but there is no penalty or punishment to enforce the regulations. Ya, itu lagi... kalau ada yang bisa dibikin susah, kenapa dibuat gampang?

Below is what we still need to fight from continuing....

Discrimination is not over for Chinese-Indonesians. Several brand new restrictions have been declared for the Chinese in the country since the end of last year.

It is now "illegal" for Chinese-Indonesians to sign a cheque or to have an insurance policy. The Civil Code and the civil litigation procedure law is no longer valid for the ethnic group. The implications are, among others, that they can not file complaints, or be complained about, in state courts for tort or breach of contract, remedies and others.

At the end of last year, The 2006 Resident Administration Law was enacted. Article 106 of the law revokes several Dutch colonial laws in the administration of resident matters, including those on the conducting of civil registration for several important events in a life of a person, i.e. birth, marriage, divorce and death. This registration has significant legal implications in areas such as inheritance rights.

The revocation of the Dutch colonial laws was a blessing because they discriminated and segregated residents into three different groups: European, Eastern Foreigner and Indigenous. Each of them was administered under different laws. Biological identification decided which law should be implied. A Caucasian with Taiwan citizenship should be registered as European and not Eastern Foreigner. That was part of the history.

The problem is, however, that the 2006 law incorrectly revokes a regulation that actually should not have been scrapped. What was revoked by article 106 C was a regulation that brought into force several laws in business for the Chinese: The Civil Code, the trade law, the bankruptcy law, the civil litigation procedure law, the firm law and the adoption law. These regulations were well known as Staatsblad 1917-129.2. Before 1917, these laws only applied to the Dutch and Europeans.

However, after these laws were accidentally revoked, they were no longer effective for the Chinese. As the Chinese play a significant role in business, it will be a "business jam". In short, it's a catastrophe.

How could this blatant discrimination happen? Has the dream of non-discriminatory treatment just evaporated?

What the 2006 law should revoke is the colonial law widely known as Staatsblad 1917-130, or the Regulation for Civil Registration for the Chinese. This regulation is stated the birth certificate of every Chinese person in Indonesia. And it is also written as the legal basis for civil registration ordinances in every regency and municipal administration. Please note that as the Staatsblad 1917-130 has not been revoked, it still is in full power to force the Chinese into a different registration scheme. And that is discrimination, at least segregation.

The case is just the same for article 106 E that revokes Staatsblad 193-74, a regulation on marriage for Christian Indonesians in Java, Minahasa and Ambon. This Staatsblad had already been revoked by Article 66 of the 1974 Marriage Law.

What the 2006 law should revoke is known as Staatsblad 1933-75, or the Regulation for Civil Registration for Christian Indonesians. Again, just like Chinese, this regulation is stated on the birth certificate for every Christian Indonesian and used by every regency government. Still, it has been wrongly typed.

Suppose this flaw was not a result of negligence. The lack of proficiency in the Dutch language could be the primary cause, as the colonial era is long over.

On the other hand, should those who drafted the law on resident administration have intentionally formulated the law as it is now, then it is a disaster for our nation and character building. It is a reconnaissance of minority groups. The present careless regime theoretically has full power to continue discrimination.

Carelessly or intentionally, the Home Ministry must be responsible at least for an immediate revision for the law.

By: Ivan Wibowo, Jakarta
The writer is a member of the Advocate-Youth Chinese Network. He can be reached at ivanwibowo@gmail.com

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