Indonesia: The Damaging Debate on Rapes of Ethnic Chinese Women
V. Ending Discrimination
With the controversy over the rapes, the momentum to end discrimination toward ethnic Chinese and prevent future
violence seems to have almost disappeared. More than twenty discriminatory laws and regulations are still in force,
some of them dating from the Dutch colonial administration, many of them from the early years of Soeharto's New
Order government. They include laws prohibiting the use of Chinese characters and banning Chinese-language
publications to a regulation obliging all ethnic Chinese to take "Indonesian" names. Some of the others include the
- "Policy for Resolving the Chinese Issue," Cabinet Presidium Instruction No.37/U/IN/6/1967, which states,
among other things, that no further residency or work permits will be issued to new Chinese immigrants, their
wives, or children; any capital raised by "foreigners" in Indonesia cannot be transferred abroad; no "foreign"
schools will be permitted except for the use of the diplomatic corps and their families; in any national school,
the number of Indonesian pupils must exceed that of "foreigners"; and that implementation of the "Chinese
issue" will henceforth be the responsibility of the minister for political affairs.
- "Presidential Instruction No.14/1967 on Chinese Religion, Beliefs, and Traditions," which states that
manifestations of Chinese religion and belief can have an "undesirable psychological, mental and moral
influence on Indonesian citizens as well as obstruct the process of assimilation." It bans celebration of
Chinese religious festivals in public and states that religious practice and observation of Chinese traditions
must be kept indoors or within the household. The minister of religion and the attorney general are charged
with enforcing the act.
- "Home Affairs Ministry No.455.2-360/1988 on Regulation of Temples" forbids any land from being acquired
for the construction of Chinese temples, building any new temples, expanding or renovating existing temples,
or using any other building as a temple.
- "Circular of the Director General for Press and Graphics Guidance in the Ministry of Information
No.02/SE/Ditjen-PPGK/1988 on Banning the Publication and Printing of Writings and Advertisements in
Chinese Characters or the Chinese Language" restricts any use of Chinese to a single newspaper called
Harian Indonesia on the ground that dissemination of materials in Chinese or Chinese characters will
obstruct the goal of national unity and the process of assimilation of ethnic Chinese. As a result, any use of
Chinese in books, calendars, almanacs, food labels, medicines, greeting cards, clothing, decorations, or other
logos and signs is banned.
- "Instruction of the Ministry of Home Affairs No. X01/1977 on Implementing Instructions for Population
Registration" and the confidential instructions No.3.462/1.755.6 of the Jakarta government dated January
28, 1980 both authorize special codes to be put on identification cards indicating ethnic Chinese origin.
- "Cabinet Presidium Circular SE-06/Pres-Kab/6/1967 on Changing the Term China and Chinese" obliges
Indonesians to drop the use of the term "Tionghoa" (as ethnic Chinese refer to themselves) and replace it
with the term "Cina" (then a derogatory term). One of the consequences of the May 1998 violence is that
ethnic Chinese are demanding that they be referred to as "Tionghoa" akin to "Javanese" or any other
ethnicity as opposed to the more common "Indonesian citizens of foreign descent" often just abbreviated
"descent" (keturunan) or simply as "Cina."
Frans Winarta, an ethnic Chinese lawyer, scholar, and human rights activist in Jakarta, has done more than anyone
to compile and publicize these regulations and edicts, and while his articles have been widely printed in the
Indonesian media, few concrete steps have been taken thus far to repeal the discriminatory decrees.(20)
Indonesia: The Damaging Debate on Rapes of Ethnic Chinese Women - Table of Contents