Discrimination Against Chinese

Sep 27th, 2006, in Society, by

Lee Kuan Yew says there is systematic discrimination against Indonesians of Chinese descent.

The former president of Singapore, as part of a one-hour address at the Raffles Forum, held in conjunction with the IMF-World Bank Meeting in Singapore, reportedly said that the ethnic Chinese minority population in Indonesia, and Malaysia:

Our neighbors both have problems with their Chinese. They [the Chinese] are successful. They are hard working and, therefore, they are systematically marginalized.

and that this was one reason why Singapore, a Chinese majority state, had to be firm against Malaysia and Indonesia.

Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew.

Indonesian politicians were quick to react to these statements. Djoko Susilo of the National Mandate Party (PAN), said Yew was a big liar, and:

We are very upset because it has disgraced Indonesia. We will ask the government to send a letter of protest to Lee.

He said that Chinese people were able to work in any area, including the military.

We even have ministers and MP's [who are Chinese].

Amris Hassan of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), bemoaned the harm Lee's statement would cause to internal Indonesian cohesiveness, and intra-ASEAN relations.

It is very dangerous for our unity because the false feeling of some people here will be justified, and they will think that marginalization really exists. Beside obstructing our bilateral relations, the remarks also hinder the process of establishing the ASEAN community.

Amris said Lee should issue a public apology and explain himself.

October 2nd.

An apology was forthcoming. The Malaysian government's demanding of such an apology was successful with Lee Kuan Yew saying:

I am sorry that what I said has caused you a great deal of discomfort. ....it is the last thing I wanted.

in a letter to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.


193 Comments on “Discrimination Against Chinese”

  1. avatar Miss Indo 07 says:

    Once again, ask people to apologise duhh.

  2. avatar Molisan Tono says:

    HIPOCRACY is Indonesia trade mark.

    Support Chinese? Yeah right, first Chinese police woman, nice step though. wait and see till Chinese get the presidential chair in government.

    Until then, yes Indonesia is full of hipocracy and very discriminative. Believe me, you can ask Hassan too, he is one of them.

  3. avatar Riccardo says:

    My wife is Chinese-Indonesian and I live in a Chinese neighborhood in West Jakarta; and IF these bozos at the DPR truly believe there is no discrimination, they are clueless beyond imagination. Everybody knows it. Do they think they can keep this dirty littly secret from the outside world by yelling and screaming and calling one of the most respected men in Asia a liar??

  4. avatar Ram says:

    Lee Kuan Yew….

    As an Indonesian, my stand is: he’s not someone to be trusted. I’d say he’s a master of deception and stealing. So I’d rather just ignore him. I don’t know exactly what the motives behind his statement, I don’t think it’s something good for Indonesia.

    Our neighbors both have problems with their Chinese. They [the Chinese] are successful. They are hard working and, therefore, they are systematically marginalized.

    Huh? What a twisted logic.

    If “marginalized” means that the Chinese can’t get any work, that they have to beg on the street…, then… — by looking at the facts and reality — we can easily point out the flaw in that statement. We have Chinese in government, in the police force, etc. So what is he complaining about? (btw, does he have any right to complain?).

    To Lee Kuan Yew: you’re getting too old, so take a break, or… try to focus on maintaining “order” in your little repressive country.

    His attitude is almost similar to some Zionists trolling around in Indonesia blogosphere (to name a few, someone hiding behind the nick ‘Riccardo’). I don’t know, but to me they sound obnoxiously pushy, eager to dictate people around them. You’re bad, you should do this, you should do that, you should be like this, that… blah blah… etc, and they’d conclude with their all-time favorite game, putting label on / blaming / demonizing someone else.

    That is similar to what their state (and it’s allies) is doing: putting label ‘evil’, ‘greatest threat’, etc to Iran (for example).

    We Indonesians would say: “ngaca dulu dong!”. They shouldn’ve taken a look in the mirror first. If you read this report from Reuters “Iran seen borrowing nuclear strategy from Israel”, you’d realize how hypocrite Israel and it’s allies are.

    Ok, let’s sort this out:

    – Iran is building nuclear arsenal.
    – Israel says Iran is evil.
    – Iran is using the same strategy as the one used by Israel in the 60’s.
    – Israel says Iran is evil.

    If we sum them up, it’s not difficult to see that Israel is as evil.

    I’m not neither Moslem, Jew, or Christian.
    Thanks gods!

  5. avatar Dhita says:

    I remember Lee Kuan Yew also commented how good Soeharto was as a president. If you read his book, From Third World to First, you’ll find that he doesn’t seem too concerned about the corruption, the smuggling and other bad things in Indonesia seriously.

    Because Singapore has been taken advantage on these. Singapore is rich because they have 200 million stupid neighbours and they want to keep it that way.

    So don’t expect anything sincere from him, especially when he’s too old to think clearly.

  6. avatar Molisan Tono says:

    RAM… from your short name, i presume you must be Hindu.
    Anyway, out of religion issue, the topic is discrimination.

    Based on your comment…
    “If “marginalized” means that the Chinese can’t get any work, that they have to beg on the street”¦, then”¦ “” by looking at the facts and reality “” we can easily point out the flaw in that statement. We have Chinese in government, in the police force, etc. So what is he complaining about? (btw, does he have any right to complain?).

    I found it really funny… have you ever being visited to some area in Singkawang in Kalimantan? or lets say, the closest area to Indonesia’s capital… in Tanah Gocap, or Sewan… located in Tangerang, near the airport. It’s majority of low income or minor economic of Chinese ethnicity. Visit there, and maybe it will change your opinion. Chinese ethnics are struggling to fight economic pressure. Many have failed, some got crazy and many got lucky too. Somehow we refused to end up on the street hopeless. As long we have feet and hands attach, we will fight for life.

    Talking about discrimination? Can’t fake it out. Do you have TV? If you tune your channel to Indonesian local TV, someday you’ll see a commercial from Sampoerna. Talking about how discriminative our governement could be? They (Sampoerna) are not playing games, they are talking about hidden politics agenda. Sampoerna has their own purpose to do such commercial brake, thanks for their effort anyway.

    If you see Mari Elka as Chinese figure, and other Chinese policewoman in other post in this forum, well, that’s 0,000001% from what we can say “nothing at all”, it doesn’t prove Lee is wrong about his statement.

    Like I said, wait till you see Chinese president in our country and then you may post your comment. Not discriminative? Say again….

  7. avatar Riccardo says:

    Ram,
    Can I get some of that medicine you are taking? There’s this party on the weekend and it might be good for a laugh to amuse my friends.

    Let’s see if I’m following your drug-addled humour:

    Yew can’t be trusted and he’s a master of stealing so,
    therefore, I’m a Zionist (what would be wrong with that anyway?)
    and therefore Iran is developing nuclear weapons, and
    and therefore, Israel is evil.
    So therefore we should not give a flying f**k about about state-sponsored discrimination and gross rights abuse based on someone’s ethnic background.

  8. avatar Ram says:

    Molisan Tono…,

    like I said, wait till you see Chinese president in our country and then you may post your comment. not discriminative? say again”¦.

    Using your logic, we can say that:

    – US is discriminative against Chinese (no president of Chinese descent yet. Keep them in their Chinese town with their gangsters and in the universities to do some scientific researches).
    – Israel is discriminative against Chinese (surprise…! It’s a Jew state anyway, so why would let other ethnic / race run the country. They might do ho-ho-hola-claus to us someday!).
    – Saudi Arabia is discriminative against Chinese (yeah! those f*ck*ng yellow people don’t believe in one god, our god, Allah, who sent THE book and our prophets…, and they worship dead people, just like the Hindus. Why would we let such kafir run the country?).
    – Almost all other countries in the world except China, Taiwan, and Singapore are discriminative against Chinese.

  9. avatar Marsel says:

    I think, the main purpose for this website is to facilitate us in exchanging opinions about the issues written here and finally we can propose the solution.
    Not just emotionally wandering about all the issues in the world. (no wonder, we Indonesian get easily provoked)
    The problem here is about outsider (in this case, Lee Kuan Yew, one of the most respected man in Asia), stated that there’ve been a discrimination against Chinese in Indonesia. (systematically marginalized-it’s just the same)
    If we look objectively, from the history, we cannot pretend that there are no discrimination, new order period, Mei 1998 riot, these events are subjected to Chinese discrimination. Since then, if you guys really concern about Indonesia’s social life, you can find that there’s a lot of discrimination against Chinese. I don’t wether it’s just a social issue or racial issue. But this issue DOES EXIST! I can’t state the evidence one by one but try to be sensitive and examine our social life. You will find it. And if we don’t do anything about this social issue, it may spread to greater problem-political,religious,etc.
    It’s not about Iran, US, nuclear, Israel..
    It is about our country
    let’s stand out and do something

  10. avatar Riccardo says:

    Ram, is there some way for me to get some of that medication you’re using? It might be fun for a laugh one night.

    Email me we can do lunch — ciao and shalom (I’m one of those wierd Italian Zionists).

  11. avatar Julita says:

    Let me see, if discrimination or marginalizing is indicated by begging on the street and not getting a job. Look around, sometimes I see a Chinese driving his Mercedes, locals fixing the road. Come on, now is the Chinese discriminating the one fixing the street. In other countries the same there are jobless people, low paying job workers but that does not mean discriminating. How about study and work hard the key tp success.

  12. avatar Molisan Tono says:

    Now it’s yellow huh? Not Chinese ey???

  13. avatar Miss Indo 07 says:

    hahaha
    ram = ????

  14. avatar Molisan Tono says:

    Well, everybody knows that Chinese is really dangerous species in some other mysterious business method, in which has engaged many enemy or competitor.

    Let’s put small example, how Aussie fellow government prohibited Chinese race immigrant to keep coming in their country. These Chinese obviously not planning to do tourist activities… they were planned for business settle. And that’s what scared most people abroad across the whole world. Let’s face the fact guys, Chinese is absolutely crazy people when talking about business. This attitude form lots of bigger and bigger paranoid platform against Chinese and bring many discriminative action toward their superiority in business.

    Chinese tribe don’t ask for being discriminate, it just happen accidentally and become a common thing. Please do not hate Chinese, just walk along with them, and let see how many achievement we could get if we are success.

    Btw Ram, I’m yellow… and born in Indonesia. And I’m proud of it.

  15. avatar Bas says:

    That’s absolutly true. I have many “Chinese” friends in Jakarta. All of them are discriminated. I have also witnessed many many time how “Chinese” women are treated in metromini buses… A real shame. Actually most of Chinese Indonesian people don’t want to take these buses. Jealous Indonesians say it’s because they are arrogant.. But if they could pay the same price as others and not be looked like animals…

  16. avatar Julita says:

    In many parts of the world I have been and am living in. Latin American countries, the American continent, Europe, East Europe, US.
    1. They create jobs for the locals.
    2. Their children are the best and smartest students.
    3. They do not try to change the local laws like many other immigrants do.
    4. They love music, take care of their health and children without burdening tax payers money and they are not digging money from their host country money and send them home.
    5. Yes, they work hard and they are succesful. I can go on and on if I have to compare them with other immigrants.
    Sorry folks, I salute them, very good citizens.

    Face it, for everybody, everywhere there is discrimination, don’t be fooled. Your status in society does help, that is why I say study, be achievers.

    Oh, well, about that poor ‘baso man’ the poor get poorer and the rich get richer.
    Hopefully somebody will come up and change this situation.

    I have been two days joining you and I think we are not getting anywhere, it takes too much time. So good luck everybody, try wherever you are and wherever you go, to make this worl a better place to live in.

    To spread CHARITY, without this nothing works. Remember there is life after this wordly life and don’t be fooled by anybody that by ruining, hurting God’s creation you will go to Heaven.

  17. avatar Rockstar says:

    Ram,..

    the ‘ngaca dulu donk’ should have been better labelled for Indonesia.. this country is full of hypocrites.

    you say Israel and it’s allies are evil? how about our own people and gov? the ‘ngaca dulu donk’ is definitely something that Indonesia is very lacking of.

  18. avatar Molisan Tono says:

    it’s ok fella, we always hope the best for this country. although not much support and supportive act we can get to achieve it.

    thanks for you all folks who has really show us your great appreciation to us. THANK YOU.

  19. avatar Tomaculum says:

    Off course there is a discrimination against the Chinese in Indonesia. There is also a discrimination against our brothers and sisters from Papua, NTT, Kalimantan (Dayaks) etc., etc. And: in each culture exists a discrimination. That is not the point, but why does we just talk about the discrimination against the Chinese? What about the discrimination from the Chinese side against the so called pribumi? Doesn’t exist?
    Some one ever heard how the Chinese (maybe yourself) talk about the so called pribumi?
    I’m a mixed blood Indonesian (Javanese and Chinese). Guess, who discriminated me? It hurt but I learned from it.
    I think we should together start to touch/grab our nose (a german idiom means: look first at your failure before critisize someone else).
    The question is not if a discrimination exists but why it exists.
    Let us beginn with ourself and try to treat everybody as such of equal value and equal ranking. May be we can try to trust “the other” too?
    The best friend of my first daughter is a very white girl, of my second daughter is a black girl and of my son is an Indian blooded boy. The best friend of my white wife is a headscarf wearing Muslimah and mine are a dark skinned Javanese and a dark skinned Chinese. We live our tolerance and we don’t let us sunk in endless discussions.
    If we start now, maybe it will be better in the next generation.

  20. avatar Marsel says:

    Tomaculum, if only all Indonesians think like you, we’ll live in harmony.
    If only..

  21. avatar Hassan says:

    lee kuan yew is a racist himself. how else can he turn the Chinese who were the minority in Singapore in the 1960’s to the overwhelming majority they are today?

  22. avatar Peace says:

    I think PM Badawi is still not content with Lee Kuan Yew, cos he only said apologise for causing a great deal of discomfort, but still holds tight to his statement.

    Talking about discrimination…

    I think people are smart enough to know that there is religion, wealth, beauty, skin colour etc discrimination too not only about race.

    Molisan Tono,
    Hypocracy is Indonesia trade mark? Discriminative? Then ask any Falun Gong member, ask the Tibetan, and..remember what happened in Tianamen?
    In any country, no matter rich or developed, hypocracy and discrimination are there.

    I know not all Chinese are rich. But that doesn’t mean the Chinese are marginalised either otherwise we can also said that Melayu Indonesian are marginalised too.

    Wait until Indonesia has a Chinese president? Is that the only way to purge Indonesia ‘discrimination sin’? Can we say China, England, Italy, US, etc, are still racist cos each doesn’t have a foreign breed as its president?

    Riccardo,
    It’s true there are racist people in Indonesia, but to put the blame on one side is the most ignorant thing to show. Especially from someone who flew far away to a country that he said to be very racist (that’s what I felt after reading your blog).
    Maybe if your wife were Melayu Indonesian, then you would speak differently.
    Never cross my mind that Italia is a racist country when some stupido did some monkey scream toward football players from Africa. I’m sure you too have heard about that.
    What about in the USA? How about that race thing affected Katrina response issue?

    When I was abroad many times I was called ‘Oriental girl’ and in Paris some kids “cang cing cong” me and me calling me “chinois.” So Riccardo, that stupido things not only happen in Indonesia.

    I think it’s better if both sides, Indonesian-Indonesian and Chinese-Indonesian stop being racist and feel oneself as the right one to each other.

    It’s hard to be a minority, but sometimes that minority status is also benefiting too cos we can get attention easily. Only sometimes, and sadly that doesn’t happen to -say- the Papua people.

    I’m glad people like Tomaculum still exists, may God bless you with long healthy life to educate the ignorant like us! Thank you and Peace!

  23. avatar Molisan Tono says:

    Peace… you don’t get my point.
    when i say wait till Indonesia has Chinese president… doesn’t mean discrimination is purge away… it could be worst. Chinese minor society is not 100% acceptable here, especially it’s because we are minor. and most Chinese eat pork. if Indonesia “Moslem” country has Chinese president, think again what majority Moslem citizen will think about the Chinese president political agenda. will they trust the president? NO!!!

    and your falun gong thing… I don’t know what your agenda pulling this issue. but tiananmen is absolutly politics… it’s revolution mate, not discrimination. wrong intention to make up this issue.

    talking marginal? Chinese is minor, not every Chinese is rich and most Chinese are discriminated… which margin are you talking about?

    “Can we say China, England, Italy, US, etc, are still racist cos each doesn’t have a foreign breed as its president?”

    let me ask you… are you an alien which just arrived on earth my friend? I’m talking Chinese citizen in Indonesia… not those mainland Chinese people for Indonesia presidential candidate… hallo…peace to earth…

  24. avatar Peace says:

    So, with your saying “wait till Indonesia has Chinese president,” you are prophesying something that could be worse?
    Why would you think something worse when many bad things are still around?

    But let’s reread your message and compare them:
    this
    “If you see Mari Elka as Chinese figure, and other Chinese policewoman in other post in this forum, well, that’s 0,000001% from what we can say “nothing at all”, it doesn’t prove Lee is wrong about his statement.Like I said, wait till you see Chinese president in our country and then you may post your comment. Not discriminative? Say again”¦. “

    and this:
    “when i say wait till Indonesia has Chinese president”¦ doesn’t mean discrimination is purge away”¦ it could be worst. Chinese minor society is not 100% acceptable here, especially it’s because we are minor. and most Chinese eat pork. if Indonesia “Moslem” country has Chinese president, think again what majority Moslem citizen will think about the Chinese president political agenda. will they trust the president? NO!!!”

    They contradict each other, or else, unrelated (especially with the additional ingredient, Moslem) IMHO 😉

    Why not thinking of finding some good solution instead of making some reckless prophecy?

    I rise up Falun Gong issue, cos you were talking about discrimination issue, and I was trying pointing out that discrimination happens anywhere.
    Falun Gong is a discrimination too, not a race discrimination of course.
    If you think it’s not a discrimination then you can ask any of their members here in Indonesia. I don’t have any agenda, cos I’m not a its secret agent and I’m not related with FG either 😉

    And don’t you ever think some discrimination issues in Indonesia can be political thing either?
    Besides, that Tianamen is also a discrimination in another form. As I said, discrimination is not only about race, I’m sure you know that.

    I’m talking that being marginalized is not only the problem of Chinese-Indonesian in this country. That, if you can be honest of course.
    Do you think those poor people living their life because they’re all stupid, lazy and don’t want to stand on their feet?

    I wasn’t talking about those Chinese mainland of course. I was talking about breed, blood. I didn’t say foreign NATIONALITY ! Here’s the bahasa Indonesia ->Saya berbicara tentang darah/ keturunan (blood/ breed) asing, bukan BANGSA asing. 😉

    Do you think Indonesia that discriminative and hypocrite country?
    I knew about some Chinese mainland (illegally?) who came to this country just to become kuli angkut. I learnt about this five or six yrs ago when the moving service company that our lessee hired employed them, and one of them spoke with my Dad (in broken Indonesia language of course).

    I wish I were Alien so I could make everyone to listen to my message 😀
    Let’s us make revolution in Indonesia by first preventing ourselves to act/think discriminative towards others diffrent than us and do what best for Indonesia.

    Peace on Earth indeed, and let’s not make it just a saying, like when you ‘mate’ me 😉

    Sometimes we don’t realise that sometimes we’re not less discriminating than those who we call discriminator.

  25. avatar Tomaculum says:

    Hi Peace,
    with your last sentence you’ve got the point I want to express in all of my comments.

  26. avatar Molisan Tono says:

    it sound to me just funny… so your earlier statement of foreign breed.. is actual talking blood? hahaha… my friend, you can simply say it born what so ever… like Indonesian born Chinese… not foreign breed.

    born Chinese dude… not born China… your “foreign” is out of range…

    foreign is not include mate… I was born in Indonesia… I’m Indonesian… not foreigner… may be you do… you don’t make it sound that you are Indonesian to me… foreign? think again…

    which unrelated do you think?
    “If you see Mari Elka as Chinese figure, and other Chinese policewoman in other post in this forum, well, that’s 0,000001% from what we can say “nothing at all”, it doesn’t prove Lee is wrong about his statement.Like I said, wait till you see Chinese president in our country and then you may post your comment. Not discriminative? Say again”¦. ”

    “when i say wait till Indonesia has Chinese president”¦ doesn’t mean discrimination is purge away”¦ it could be worst. Chinese minor society is not 100% acceptable here, especially it’s because we are minor. and most Chinese eat pork. if Indonesia “Moslem” country has Chinese president, think again what majority Moslem citizen will think about the Chinese president political agenda. will they trust the president? NO!!!”

    let make this clear for you… this is MISSION IMPOSSIBLE okay…
    Chinese ethnic rule this country is almost impossible… but when it come the time, no people will accept their president like other president which hold Moslem ID. even though you find most capable candidate for president and he is Moslem… hey, wait a minute… he is Chinese…

    what you are hoping in your last statement is nobel, but you are breaking the problems with avoiding them… not solving the main stream. I’m glad our government slowly but sure is solving case by case of this discriminative issue… hope that can trigger you mind peace…

    we are not gonna achieve anything if we don’t fight for it… you don’t run from problems… you face the problems.

  27. avatar Peace says:

    Come on don’t be such a short fuse lah 😉

    Sorry…sometimes I like to use experimental word 🙂
    You know..that kind of newly-made word is all over the internet, I just like picking up things that sound less formal.
    And I used “foreign breed” instead of Indonesian-born Chinese because I think for this we’re better not to be specific.

    Btw, don’t you know that Gus Dur has Chinese blood too? Or maybe my Chinese Kalimantan friend made a joke? According to him, GD stated it when he did one of his campaigns, and he attended it.
    And I found this link http://ms.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdurrahman_Wahid.
    Or maybe it’s just for the ballot thing? 😉
    But thanks to GD, konghucu can be part of this country, right.

    Of course you are not foreigner if you’re Chinese Indonesian, cos you belong to Indonesia, not China.
    Those Belanda Depok are also Indonesian.
    And though your ancestor, those Belanda Depok ancestors, or etc ancestor got married to the local (the so called -‘native’- pribumi), that still can’t erase the fact that you all have foreign breed. And that’s good, mixed-bloods are cool.

    I too have foreign breed (but I don’t want to expose it, in case one day I will be interested to join the Indonesian president election 😉 , joking)

    Nothing is impossible mission. Mission: possible.

  28. avatar Tomaculum says:

    Hi folks, do you know, that the current nations (or races) of Indonesia are descendants of mongolic-caucasian ethnic groups from the asian mainland which immigrated to the islands now named Indonesia long, long time ago (before our valid eras)?

  29. avatar Rudy Hendra says:

    I am a Chinese Indonesian, born in Bandung, West Java.

    I think there is not much discrimination in ‘kampung’ or rural areas. It is true that when I was a boy, the Indonesian ‘pribumi’ looked at me like an alien from other space. And they called me ‘Cina! Cina!’.
    But now I understand that’s because they are only a rural people. They don’t have education.

    The discrimination can be seen in the city, Jakarta for example. And from the government. We chinese must have SBKRI (Surat Bukti Kewarganegaraan Indonesia) or the letter of proof as Indonesian Citizen, for going to government school. They don’t accept us if we don’t have it. (I have experienced it myself when I go to government university in Bandung).
    And also we are sometimes difficult to get a KTP (Kartu Tanda Penduduk). We must give them money.

    But it is not the folks that are bad, it is the government.
    The citizen and folks is good and sometimes fun talking to them.
    They are a good people.
    We live in peace with them.
    We don’t think much.

    But sometimes, the Indonesian don’t have much money, and then they try to borrow from us. That thing we don’t like, we don’t want to. So we sometimes make a range/distance from them.
    I am not saying that Indonesian are all poor.
    Many of them are rich.

    Rgds,
    Rudy Hendra

  30. avatar Tomaculum says:

    And many of these good and nice people lynched small eyed neighbours in the 70-ies riots and during the riots in the following years Bandung, Solo etc.)? Let us admit, that the government and many many “pribumis” are hating the chinese. But let us think further and ask ourself, why?
    Let us look around and watch, how we “live together”.
    There has always been an antipathy, which are boosted by the increasing gap beetwen rich and poor (off course there are also rich and very rich “pribumis”) and because these antipathy is being poked (misused for politik and religion).
    The folks aren’t bad, but the whole situation is exasperating.

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