Virgiawan Adi & Widya Kusu
Multiethnic as one component of national identity is complex problem which remains unsolved. The complexity here means a result of number ethnic group and race amongst the nation. From Sabang to Merauke, we can see that Indonesia has around 700 ethnic groups (Tilaar, 2007, p.xvii) where each ethnic group has different social and cultural activity. Of course, the government sees this phenomenon as a trigger to disunity or tribalism in which the fanatics to their own ethnic may create prejudice (Tilaar, 2007, p.xxv) and conflict. As long as we concern, since its independence day around 67 years ago government has created many policies to carry this nation from that aforementioned issue. One big question is then raised up. How does the government react towards this multiethnic phenomenon from time to time?
The historical background of multiethnic is started since its independence which means that every ethnic group was united under the same flag, Indonesia. We feel that the declaration of independence means the declaration of national identity. Our Founding Father, Soekarno, has determined policy as the strategy to unite the nation i.e. interethnic marriage. In his book Di Bawah Bendera Revolusi (1965, p.5), he mentions that “then only love your nation, participate to idea of love all ethnic, and have interethnic marriage”. It is the concept of uniting ethnic groups in Indonesia to be one. There are lots of benefits from this interethnic marriage such as reduce the negative judgment. Interethnic marriage functions to minimize act of judging and assessing people from different culture. Once, two people decide to get married and declare to be husband and wife then they need to have egalitarian relationship. Like another couples who are from the same ethnics, they who conduct interethnic marriage want to have a harmonic life. They need to respect each other and leave ego behind in order to avoid a conflict in a family. They will learn how to muffle their emotion if they see a small thing can trigger a big conflict. Husband and wife are able to mix their culture and bring into home in order to warm the relationship between husband and wife. They will learn each other about the culture. We assume that the acculturation process is happened here in which two different cultures are combined and united. We can see the fusion of the ethnic ego.
During the new order regime, the main ethnic problem in Indonesia was discrimination against Tiong Hoa ethnic group. This problem was mainly caused by the communist party revolution (G30SPKI) which tried to overthrow the incumbent government at that time. This communism revolution led the assumption of the government that communism threatened Pancasila as national ideology and Indonesia as a nation. Then, with the emergence of China as a big communist’s nation, the government of Indonesia put communism label to every Tiong Hoa people in Indonesia. Based on Anggana (2011. p. 8), they received 3 dimensional discrimination such as (a) culture: Tiong Hoa people were forced to fully assimilate their culture with Indonesian, it implied that they couldn’t demonstrate any kinds of their culture, (b) politic: Tiong Hoa people were forbidden to serve as civil servant and military personnel Moreover with the issue of letter of citizenship evidence. The government treated them as if they were strangers, (3) economy: actually economic dimension was the only freedom given by the government. However, this freedom created stigma that Tiong Hoa people were economic animal.
In our opinion, this ethnic discrimination was the form of simplistic generalization of the dominant group, the government, toward the dominated, Tiong Hoa people. Why was the discrimination merely simplistic generalization? Because the government simply generalized that if communism was from China, then all people coming from China were communists and wanted to disseminate communism. Collins points out that Brittan and Maynard claim "domination always involves the objectification of the dominated; all forms of oppression imply the devaluation of the subjectivity of the oppressed" (Collins, 1986, p.18). This simplistic generalization of the dominant group didn’t take into account or even devaluated the subjectivity of each Tiong Hoa people. Each Tiong Hoa man or woman is a different subject, and each of them might have different approach toward communism ideology. Just because they came from China, it doesn’t mean that each of them wants to disseminate communism. Being a communist never correlates with the willingness to spread it and threatened Indonesia.
Intersectionality theory suggests that the oppression based on race, gender, class, and ability don’t act independently, and they are interrelated and created multiple discrimination. It happened in Indonesia at the peak of Soeharto regime which was during 13th and 14th of May, 1998. Chinese ethnic discrimination led in to physical oppression and abuse to female Chinese. Many women were raped and killed without being able to prosecute the perpetrators as they were considered as the weakest part of Chinese ethnic.
In the present time, in the hand of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, multiethnic challenges emerge in Indonesia such as the revival of ethno-nationalism in the provinces of Aceh (in the northern Sumatra), Irian Jaya, “religious” violence between the majority Muslims and minority Christians on the eastern Maluku Islands and Poso (Central Sulawesi) and Sampit interethnic massacre which involved Madura and Dayak tribe. The solution offered by our government did not touch the core problems. The facts showed that Poso case which was considered to end on 2000, it relapsed again on 2003 (Aditjondro, 2004, p.1). The internal displacement solution in which one of the conflicting people are sent back home to their origin such as conflicting Maduranese in East Kalimantan were sent back to Madura island also could not solve the problems. Instead it created new internal conflict within Maduranese themselves problems. Tilaar (2004, p.14) states that inter ethnic conflict occurred due to cultural clash as a result of the absences of the positive communication from those ethnics.
The current government is always trying the new solution to overcome inter ethnic problem such as broaden the principle of decentralization. It means that not only the provincial government which has power to its society but also each regional and district has the same power. They are authorized to have autonomy to create the civic society (Tilaar, 2004, p.11) in their community. The central government is responsible to watch the mechanism of the implementation of this autonomy whether in the right tract or not.
Not only inter ethnic conflict, Indonesia in the present time faces the challenge of defending cultural heritage from being claimed by neighboring country such as Malaysia. It seems to be the nature of Indonesia to unite under the same threat, as Tilaar (2004, p.34) argues that Indonesia people united putting aside the difference while facing the common enemy such as colonialism and imperialism. To face the claim of Indonesia cultural heritage, Indonesian people altogether are condoning Malaysia to condoning Malaysia to defend Indonesian culture.
Reflecting from the past, learning from the present, we predict how Indonesia face it future. Both of us agree that there is a tendency that Indonesian people will understand multiethnic differences much better. The democracy that the Indonesian people respect will be continued. The future government will continue the regional autonomy. Having hard power in the new order era and soft power era makes people have more choice. Indonesian people are smart people who prefer to use his logic than his muscle to solve problem. They will use consolidation to interact and communicate their culture as the guideline to act and behave in the society. One day, a hope is symbolised in aforementioned picture will come true. Whatever our ethnic group whether Batak, Manado, Java, Ambon, Papua, or Blaster (Indonesia mix with Western), we will say we are Indonesia. A principle of unity in diversity will come true.
Aditjondro, GJ. (2004). Kerusuhan Poso dan Morowali, Permasalahan dan Jalan Keluarnya. Paper Presented in “Penerapan Keadaan Darurat di Aceh, Papua, dan Poso dalam Pemilu 2004”. Jakarta.
Anggana, Andy. 2011. Mengubah Pelabelan dan Pembedaan Etnis Tionghoa di Indonesia dalam Tinjauan Sejarah dan Konteks Ekonomi Politik. Jakarta: Lentera Filsafat.
Collins, P.H. (1986). Learning From the Outsider Within: The Sociological Significance of Black Feminist Thought. Social Problems, 33 (6). S14–S32.
Soekarno. (1965). Di Bawah Bendera Revolusi I (tjetakan IV). Jakarta: Balai Pustaka.
Tilaar, HAR. (2004). Multikulturalism. Jakarta: Universitas Negeri Jakarta Press.
Tilaar, HAR. (2007). Mengindonesia Etnisitas dan Identitas Bangsa Indonesia (Tinjauan dari Perspectif Ilmu Pendidikan). Jakarta: Rineka Cipta.