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Riots and Ethnicity Issue in Indonesia


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By Vidi Soelaksono

APMCP Year 15 Online

Long before Indonesia has entered reform era, the problems with ethnicity and religions have been rooted deeply in the heart of many Indonesians. However, if those problems became/ turned into violence, people would argue that there must be something behind them; usually economic imbalance would be the top excuse, or intellectual provocateurs, or any other scapegoats will be blamed.

But, are there any other reasons that may explain those riots more logically?

Firstly, I will look at the Old Indonesian centralization policy as one of the trigger of all these riots over the regions in Aceh, Timor Timur, Riau, and secondly, I will look the lack tolerance from people as the result of the new order governments neglects that there are some differences and problems need to be solved rather than being taboo to be discussed. 

With the first reason about the centralization problem, the new government (also initiated by Habibies government) seems to have the solution by giving the special treatments for the special regions to be decentralized. However, there are still no concrete actions from the government about the ethnicity and religions violence.

The government has no clue on how to work on this issue because these problems have been happening for years, ever since the republic was being born. The founding father, Mr. Sukarno had already detected the problems when he formulated the five principles Pancasila. He tried to accommodate all religion elements that form Indonesia as a whole. But, ethnicity descents issue had not being discussed.

There were no questions being answered with all the ethnicity issues. However, if Indonesian has problems, the ethnicity issue has always being a scapegoat. During the Suharto era, there were strictly no policies about this issue. Indonesian did not recognize difference ethnic descents and banned all the ethnicity issue. There are no concrete policy or regulation that regulate such practices.

However, there is a hope for this current government to be more sensitive to realize that Indonesians are not only pribumi from various ethnics, but also ethnic descents people and bring them as a solid element to build Indonesia to be a great country.




Vidi Soelaksono