Indonesian Chinese born after 1966 grew up in a restrictive environment that specifically curtailed Chinese language and culture. This was the result of a series of policies administered during the Suharto era (1965–1998). At that time, the Indonesian government closed all Chinese-language schools and prohibited the use of Chinese characters in public places, the import of Chinese-language publications, and all public forms and expressions of Chinese culture.
After the fall of Suharto, Indonesia experienced the ‘Reformasi’ period in which democratisation and the increased visibility of the Chinese were two key developments. Long-suppressed politically and culturally, the Chinese community re-emerged, attempting to rediscover its history, culture and language.
In this podcast, we speak with Singapore Management University's Assistant Professor of Asian Studies Hoon Chang Yau who has been a scholar of the Chinese diaspora and had long sought to understand the enigma that the Chinese in Indonesia were caught in. His research work looks into identity and minority issues such as identity and cultural politics, ethnic and racial studies, and multi-cultural education and religion in contemporary Indonesia.