If the survey is accurate it suggests that after decades of living cheek by jowl with the pribumis, they still harbor stereotyped perceptions about the Indonesian Chinese.
Among the most glaring stereotyped are that the Chinese Indonesians tend to be more wealthy than the pribumis. Over 60 percent of respondents in the survey felt this.
Astoundingly almost half of the respondents, 47.6 percent, believe that the Indonesian Chinese harbor divided loyalties between Indonesia and China.
The survey, which was conducted in May 2016 after the anti-Ahok protests, did not say whether these sentiments were as intense before the demonstrations.
Several questions come to mind from the survey results:
Does this mean that no Chinese Indonesian can ever stand for high office and win, because all the opposition has to do is to fan the racial flames?
Can pribumis be so oblivious of the many, many walthy-off Pribumi officials and businesspersons that are so visible in everyday Indonesia?
Does it mean that Indonesian Chinese should prepare for a difficult year ahead and until the 2019 presidential elections are over before letting out their breath? Will Indonesia be a racial powder keg all primed?
Should Indonesian Chinese try harder to disabuse their pribumi counterparts of their prejudices? Or are they better off letting things lie than run the risk of stirring things up?
The would the results of a similar survey, if conducted in neighboring Malaysia, show a lower, similar or higher level of prejudice?
As a Malaysian who has lived overseas for most of his adult life, the last two decades spent in Indonesia, Unspun cannot help but marvel at the racial divide in Malaysia, even during a unifying event such as Bersih 4, that took place over this weekend.
For those not familar with Malaysian politics Bersih 4 is the wildly successful and popular rally of Malaysians over the weekend to protest the rotten system of political patronage and corruption among the elite in Umno entering on its leader and Prime Minister Najib Razak (for a primer on this issue see here).
So hundreds of thousands of Malaysians turned up for the rally in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend. Smaller groups of Malaysians all over the world also gathered in their cities to show support and solidarity with their compatriots. This included Jakarta that held their gathering at a restaurant at Epicentrum (see photo below).
What’s interesting is how one major threat of the conversation about Bersih 4 is going. And it’s all about race. There are those that say that most of the protesters in Kuala Lumpur are of Chinese descent, and that those of Malay descent were under represented. (But I do a disservice to the Malaysian nomenclature – careful phrasings of Chinese descent, ethnic Chinese and ethnic Malays are all abbreviated into Chinese and Malays).
Such observations have given rise to inferences and polemic. Some say that this reflect the political conservatism of the Malays, others say that the Chinese have now become politically dominant at the expense of the Malays; still others disagree and say that the Malays were actively participating, that the overwhelming population in Kuala Lumpur is Chiese, and that many Malays earned less and therefore they had to work serving everything from KFC to McDonalds to Starbucks to the bearish 4 protesters.
Without getting into the merits of their inferences, Unspun it is telling about Malaysian society how race remains the single most important factor of their lives. It is difficult to imagine such conversations gaining so much play in Indonesia, where protests can happen often and often with the numbers that can make even the Bersih 4 rally a middling event.
That Malaysians are so aware of their race is a testament of how damaging and polarising the Government’s policies have had on the populace. Everything revolves around race and interpreted through the racial prism. Even the most well meaning Malaysians who proclaim that they did not see Malays, Chinese or Indians among he protesters but only Malaysians belie the fact that they are conditioned by this polarisation to have such mindfulness of race.
So where does this leave Malaysia, assuming the Bersih 4 protest achieves its objective and they get rid of Najib? A bit of a better place but still sitting on a powder keg. Race is polarising, emotive and easily stoked as an issue. It is so entrenched that it will take much effort and many years to undo the harm that the Umno-led government (beginning with Mahathir Mohamad) has done.
But it needs to be addressed. So perhaps when Najib is shoved aside the focus should move toward a depolarisation of race, rather than anything political on the agenda?
The ever eloquent Patrick Teoh hits home with the latest nonsense from Mahathir Mohammad, who thinks that he can fool all the people all the time that he’s actually a Malay.
Of all the audacious hoaxes and scams perpetrated on the Malaysian people over the years, none has been as audacious and preposterous as Mahathir’s claim to be a champion of Malay rights.
The man is not fully Malay. he is of mixed blood and is an Indian Muslim, what Malaysians call Mamaks. He is so mamak that in the general elections of the late 1950s, if Unspun remembers correctly, his name at the electoral roll as a candidate contained the word Iskandar, which he subsequently dropped. Malaysians will know that that is a sure confirmation of Mamak-ness.
This, however, did not prevent him from hoodwinking the entire Malay community in Malaysia that he is their champion for many years. He did this partly by playing the race card with rhetoric against the Chinese.
These days Mahathir is now retired and ignored by the Government so he has little to do. The prospect of Anwar Ibrahim taking over the reins must surely not appeal to him as well. So he’s shooting off his mouth again to get some attention.
How dare you, an impostor of the Malay race, a self styled champion of the Third World say such things about a major race in Malaysia?
And what’s wrong with a Malaysian Malaysia? because it is not a Malay Malaysia?
Unspun’s though hard and long about Mahathir and have come to the conclusion that there is only one punishment that will fit all the crimes Mahathir is guilty of: If Anwar gets to be Prime Minister he should be given the chance to sodomize Mahathir.
I have received comments that accuse me of being unfair to Dr. Mahathir by using only excerpts of his blog post. You can read the whole thing here.
Today’s big story for me is from the blog of Dr. Mahathir Mohd. …….
“Openly the Malays have not attacked Chinese racialism as manifested by their practical rejection of the use of the national language, their rejection of the national schools, their Malaysian Malaysia slogan.”
When I read that I was shell-shocked for almost 5 minutes. As a Malaysian I couldn’t believe that I was reading something like that from an former Prime Minister of my country.
“……Chinese racialism as manifested by their practical rejection of the use of the national language, their rejection of the national schools, their Malaysian Malaysia slogan.”
So sad when senility takes over a once brilliant mind.
Read the full report of his views here and Dr. Mahathir’s original writing here.