Is Indonesia Still Our Home?

06 December 2016

When I told my parents that I wanted to major in International Relations, they got angry and disapproved. They knew that it mainly led to becoming a diplomat, a public servant.

“We are Chinese. Why do you want to enter politics?”

I think they’re wrong. My parents grew for decades under the New Order. It’s understandable that they haven’t absorbed the achievements of Reformasi. It’s understandable that they still believe Chinese-Indonesians are second-class citizens. It’s understandable that they don’t believe that Indonesia will embrace all its diverse citizens. It’s understandable that they feel, deep in their hearts, Indonesia isn’t their home.

Or perhaps, they’re right and I am wrong. Maybe Indonesians still view Chinese-Indonesians as second-class citizens. Maybe Indonesia doesn’t accept us. Maybe Indonesia isn’t our home.

Because the two foundations of Indonesia being our home are viciously attacked right now.

Bhinneka Tunggal Ika

Unity in diversity. Unless you’re ethnic Chinese and non-Muslim.

Let’s not forget, Ahok stated his opinion on Al-Maidah because he was attacked that non-Muslims shouldn’t govern Muslims. This attack has to be remembered, regardless whether it was wise of him to respond. (I don’t think it’s wise at all, and let’s not forget either that his viral response was edited.)

Ahok’s shortcomings are plenty; I often disagree with his leadership. He has been heavy-handed in handling evictions and administrative reforms. He has chosen to join the party ticket in order to bolster his electoral chances. He often unnecessarily states his opinions on controversial issues.

But he was’t alone. Bu Risma in Surabaya and even Pak Jokowi back in Solo were also heavy-handed in handling evictions and administrative reforms. Anies Baswedan also joined the party ticket he criticized as corrupt in order to increase his electoral chances. Gus Dur also had a penchant for unnecessarily speaking up on controversial issues and Bu Risma often scolded her subordinates just like Ahok.

The difference is unlike the politicians above, Ahok is of ethnic Chinese and a non-Muslim. We judged Ahok more negatively because of his ethnicity and religion, even though his deficiencies are not that different from other politicians.

This is a double-standard. If we truly adhere to Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, it shouldn’t be like this.

It is actually understandable that society has such double-standard. Identity politics is inevitable. It could have been countered by another form of identity politics that we are all Indonesians, regardless of religion and ethnicity. This response is also supported by the state philosophy and basic law, which are…

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Rocky Intan

Rocky Intan is a researcher at the Department of International Relations, Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Indonesia. His ...