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…
Pancasila & UUD 45
The first principle of Pancasila does not mention belief in the God of the majority religion. No article in UUD 45 states that state leaders, national and regional, should adhere to a certain religion or belong to a certain ethnicity; they only need to be Indonesian citizens. Unfortunately, no one from the government has responded like this.
I do not posses the competence to judge whether it is allowed that non-Muslims becoming leaders of Muslims. But this is irrelevant because Indonesia is not a Muslim country. Indonesia’s state philosophy and basic law are Pancasila and UUD 45, not Islamic religious teaching. Even though it is the majority religion, it is not the state philosophy and basic law.
I haven’t found this statement from the government. Maybe because they are afraid to offend the adherents of the majority religion. Maybe because they themselves do not believe in the state philosophy and basic law. Or maybe there is such statement and I didn’t pay attention. This might also mean that even though such statement of support towards Pancasila and UUD 45 has been made, it was too weak and came from too low of position to be known widespread.
I haven’t found this support from groups that usually defend Indonesia’s pluralism either. Maybe because they, like me, also disagree with Ahok’s leadership. It is ironic that defenders of pluralism, because of their disagreement with the leaders currently attacked by anti-pluralist values, do not fight against those values and in the end, become complicit in the death of pluralism. Or perhaps, just like the above, there is such support and I didn’t pay attention. And just like above, this might also mean that even though such support has been made, it was too weak to be known widespread.
Meanwhile, the focus of national media right now is the comparison of the total demonstration numbers of both sides and whether the demonstration was orderly and they cleaned up the mess afterwards. The focus of public discussion right now is the enforcement of a blasphemy law that is dangerous to the freedom of expression of all groups. And meanwhile, the foundations of our home, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika and Pancasila and UUD 45, keep being assaulted.
Maybe my parents were right. Maybe Indonesia’s not our home.
Photo courtesy of Babiat.
This article originally appears in Indonesian here.