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Indonesian Tionghoa's Political Participation in Post-Soeharto Era: The Strive for Identity from Local Societies by Running for Elections of Local Chief Executives
political participation of Tionghoa (Chinese)
Basuki Cahaya Purnama (Ahok)
identity from Indonesian society
local chief executives
Bhinneka Tunggal Ika
In 2014, Basuki Cahaya Purnama (popularly known as Ahok) was inaugurated as the first governor with Tionghoa ethnicity in the post-Soeharto era. His case not only marks the milestone of Tionghoa’s political participation in Indonesia, but also inspires more Tionghoa to engage in the local politics, with the aim of maintaining their social status and rights. Nevertheless, while Tionghoa enthusiastically participate in the local politics by means of establishing political parties, being upheld by mainstream parties for representative elections, or running for local elections, there are still some people in the public who do not recognize Tionghoa’s identity and their political participation. Therefore, with companion of recent advocacy to strive for self-identity, the Indonesian-Tionghoa can leap at the chance, through the approach of political participation in the democratic electoral system, to gain the preliminary identity from local society, and gradually achieve identity in other aspects. By analyzing the facts of Indonesian-Tionghoa’s political participation after the fall of Soeharto, this research firstly shows that running for elections of local chief executives has steadily become the trend for Tionghoa’s political participation. Moreover, with netnography as the method of data collecting for further analysis, the ideology of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) has been rooted in the public’s mind since several significant cases, discriminating Basuki’s Tionghoa identity, are denounced by most people in their comments. Accordingly, more people in Indonesia can also accept Tionghoa, as national citizens, to engage in local politics. Therefore, it is shown in these case analyses that Tionghoa’s political participation is not only the way to sustain their development, but also the entry point to obtain identity from the local public. Although Tionghoa still need to be more active in political participation with facing internal and external hampers, they may be benefited from interaction brought by more Tionghoa’s political participation, which enhances both their self-identity bound and the identity from the society. To sum up, this exploratory research concludes that Indonesian-Tionghoa should seize the opportunity to strive for identity from the public by political participation, which gives Tionghoa a potential approach to stimulating their interaction with the local public and other dimensions of identity from the latter, so as to embody the values disclosed in the national ideology, Pancasila and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika.
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