chapter  4
30 Pages

Suharto’s Indonesia: Outsiders Tied to the Palace

As stated in the introductory chapter, the very different experiences of Chinese in postcolonial Indonesia and Malaysia demonstrate the power of the state in Southeast Asia to impose and condition the opportunities and the manner of elite political strategies. Over time the Chinese in Indonesia have experienced the most varied political conditions under which they organize, identify, and assert themselves. From 1997 to 1999 the Indonesian economy, political arena, and ethnic relations experienced vast upheaval. Indonesian Chinese have been at the core of all three contested realms of life. Sino-Indonesians recently faced physical and economic danger, and Indonesia is currently poised for a (possibly) complete restructuring of political life. The turmoil and dramatic political change illustrate how important political institutions are for shaping the way that Sino-Indonesians are both perceived and treated by other Indonesians and how they are able to organize and mobilize to protect their interests.