It turns out that this is the beginning of Chinese Indonesian conglomerates changing their names

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – There are people who might think the names of Indonesian entrepreneurs such as Djoko Susanto, Sudono Salim, Budi Hartono, Prajogo Pangestu, are “original” since they were born.

However, behind that name, they are actually of Chinese descent. They initially had Chinese names, such as Indomie founder Liem Sie Long (Sudono Salim) or Alfamart founder Kwok Kwie Fo (Djoko Susanto). It's just that they were forced to abandon their Chinese identity because of the regulations when President Soeharto was in power.

Why do they have names other than their birth names?

Amy Freedman in “Political Institutions and Ethnic Chinese Identity in Indonesia” (2010) explains that Suharto wanted Chinese people to assimilate because they were considered not native or indigenous.

As a result, it was born Presidential Decree No. 240 of 1967 concerning Principal Policies that Affect Citizens of Foreign Descent. Through this regulation, citizens of foreign descent, including ethnic Chinese, are required to change their names.

For the record, at that time everything related to China was seen as negative. The reason is of course because of the country's sentiments towards communism, which is linked to China, as a result of the events of the 30 September Movement.

Moving on from here, Chinese people began to change their names. The goal, of course, is to consider them part of Indonesia and as a form of love for the country. Since then, Chinese names had to be abandoned.

Not only through this regulation, Suharto in the same year also issued Presidential Instruction no. 14 of 1967 concerning Chinese Religion, Beliefs and Customs. Furthermore, this rule means that Chinese culture must be reviewed and watched out for.

Suharto's fear of China and its culture was clearly not good. Sociologist Mely G Tan in Chinese Ethnicity in Indonesia (2008) said that this policy violated human rights regarding the cultural expression of a group. In this case, Chinese culture is clearly being erased.

As a result, during Suharto's 32 years in power, they could no longer express their culture, including speaking Mandarin and celebrating Chinese New Year.

In fact, for population administration purposes, ethnic Chinese people are required to have a Proof of Citizenship of the Republic of Indonesia (SBKRI) and a K-4 letter as proof that they are truly Indonesian citizens.

One striking thing that ethnic Chinese were allowed to do during the New Order was doing business. Chinese entrepreneurs are considered able to mobilize large amounts of capital and have the skills and knowledge to develop new projects and companies.

On this basis, the state collaborates with them. More than that, according to van Zanden and Daan Marks in Indonesian Economy (2012), the business relationships of ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs were one of the keys to rapid economic growth during the New Order era.

However, the emergence of this very rich Chinese businessman made people think that all ethnic Chinese had a lot of money. Though not all. This opinion then peaked in 1998 when Chinese people became victims of mass riots.

Luckily, these discriminatory regulations ended when the New Order collapsed. At the beginning of the reform, President Abdurrahman Wahid issued a regulation that revoked all discrimination regulations against ethnic Chinese issued by Soeharto.

Chinese people can express their culture freely, including celebrating Chinese New Year. Even so, discrimination against Chinese people did not just disappear because it was already deeply rooted.

[Gambas:Video CNBC]

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