Find a teacher


If you type the word "Medan Chinese" in an internet search engine, you will find a number of negative writings and comments about Medan Chinese. Some of them even took the form of fairly harsh slurs. On one site it is written: "All the ugly human traits you know are in the Medan Chinese". On another site it is stated that "Medan Chinese are the most selfish and arrogant compared to the Chinese in other parts of Indonesia".

It seems that Medan Chinese have indeed become the target of ridicule everywhere. Not only in the eyes of other ethnic groups in Medan, but also in the eyes of fellow ethnic Chinese in Jakarta and Java, Medan Chinese also have a long negative list. In other provinces outside Java, such as in Kalimantan or Sulawesi, Medan Chinese also tends to get a negative rating, although it is not evenly distributed as in Java, especially Jakarta.

Some Chinese in Jakarta even gave a special nickname for the Chinese from Medan, namely Cimed. Cimed, which stands for “Cina Medan (Medan Chinese)”, of course, has a bad connotation. For many Jakarta Chinese, Medan Chinese are "people to watch out for".


The various actions of the Medan Chinese and the bitter experiences of the Jakarta Chinese developed by word of mouth in thousands of versions. It's no wonder that Chinese traders in Java have always had the same principle: to be extra careful when doing business with the Medan Chinese.

Because the Jakarta Chinese are so careful, often Medan Chinese businessmen find it difficult. In many cases, especially for buyers from Medan, the distributor of a product requires payment in cash. In fact, often the order money must be received first, after that the new goods are sent. Strict regulations like this are sometimes still applied even though the business relationship has been going on for years. Whereas for traders from other regions, Jakarta entrepreneurs apply a payment one month behind.

Of course, not all Chinese businessmen or traders from Medan were cunning and deceitful. There are so many who not only have no problems, but also run their business fairly or even have a good reputation in Jakarta. One thing that is certain is that there is secretly tight business competition between Medan Chinese and Jakarta Chinese in the capital. As the "host", many Chinese entrepreneurs in Jakarta have to work hard so that their business can survive and not be overtaken by the Medan Chinese.

Admit it or not, the Medan Chinese do have a lot of wits and efforts to win the competition, whether in a fair way or not. And when there are some Medan Chinese who practice incorrectly, the assumptions and prejudices of the Jakarta Chinese seem to find the truth. In fact, the people who practice fraud in Jakarta are not only Medan Chinese, but also Chinese from other regions including other ethnicities.

It is not known since when the Medan Chinese were included in the black list of the Jakarta Chinese. Some point to the 1970s when the horrendous Pluit land case took place, with the main suspect being Acai alias Endang Wijaya, a Medan Chinese from Lubuk Pakam, Deli Serdang. At a time that was not much different, it was rumored that a group of Medan Chinese were staying at a five-star hotel in Jakarta, and that the hotel had lost almost all of their valuables, including a TV set, because their guests had taken them away.

Several major cases involving the Medan Chinese, after the Endang Wijaya case exploded, further confirmed how "dangerous" the group was. Over time, from year to year more and more Medan Chinese who do not have permanent jobs try their luck in Jakarta. They set off in groups by boat. The story about the Medan Chinese who had nothing and became rich in the capital greatly influenced them. Some of them are samseng alias Medan thugs who have been "lounging about" in their hometowns, although many more have moved to Jakarta with capital or skills.


Not a few Medan Chinese went to Jakarta to work in companies owned by former Medan Chinese. Medan Chinese entrepreneurs in Jakarta have a tendency to look for workers from other Medan people, because they are considered to have a common culture and are easier to manage. Medan Chinese are also considered more "simple", not too demanding, including in terms of salary. Unlike the Chinese on the island of Java.

The relocation of the Medan Chinese samseng, aka "thugs" to Jakarta, caused many clashes with other groups. Some were involved in illegal jobs including gambling or being bouncers. Others are trying to survive in the wilderness of Jakarta, which knows no mercy by all means, including cheating and other criminal acts. After all, there is also a former Medan samseng who managed to become a boss after undergoing a struggle full of twists and turns for so many years.

On Mangga Besar Road and Gajah Mada/ Hayam Wuruk Road where there are many leisure spots such as massage parlors and karaoke, many of the owners are Medan Chinese. Not only that, many of the bouncers also came from Medan. In these places we will hear the Hokkien language and the typical Medan swear words. It is said that this area is controlled by several groups of Medan Chinese "gangsters", where each group is controlled by a “tua ko (big brother)”.

Admit it or not, the presence of the Medan Chinese gives Jakarta its own color. The atmosphere and feel of Medan can be felt in a number of areas where many Medan Chinese live, such as in Pluit and Muara Karang. The Teluk Gong area is also known as a place for Medan Chinese settlements, especially from the lower middle class.

Specifically for real estate, many Medan Chinese elites have chosen to live in Pantai Mutiara and Pantai Indah Kapuk. In these two complexes adjacent to the sea, many luxury villas belonging to Medan Chinese are equipped with yachts behind or in front of the house. Meanwhile, many young Medan Chinese families choose to live in Taman Palem Lestari and Citra Garden in the Cengkareng area.

In some areas, such as in Pluit, Muara Karang and Teluk Gong, the typical atmosphere of Medan is felt so that we feel like we are in Medan City. The colors of the Oriental tradition and the Medan style of life - kong kow aka chatting in coffee shops and the typical Hokkien language of Medan - are found in many places.

The most distinctive thing is the scattered Chinese restaurants here and there, ranging from Chinese food or seafood restaurants to outlets selling wonton noodles or fried rice noodles in front of the house. In some areas, there are also rows of places selling Medan-style Chinese food, such as on Jalan Mangga Besar. In a number of outlets we can find writings that the food seller is a branch from Medan. Almost every night these places are crowded with visitors. Indeed, although many think that the taste of the food sold there has "distorted" from the original taste, Medan Chinese food is quite popular in Jakarta and has many fans.

As in Medan, the Medan Chinese in Jakarta are also known as people who are very concerned about appearance and royalty. An importer of built-up cars in the capital admitted that they sell billions of rupiah luxury cars such as Jaguar, Ferrari, Porsche or the latest Mercedes models to Medan people. They are people who know to enjoy life and express their success by showing off what they have. In contrast to the Jakarta Chinese, who have a lower profile and are careful in spending.

The Medan Chinese in Jakarta also maintain their habit of preserving traditions. The majority are Buddhist/ Confucian, they are diligent in carrying out prayer rituals on big days. In Jakarta there are several monasteries known as the Medanese temples. Even the monks also come from Medan.

Strong traditional ties have also made the relationship between the Medan Chinese remain strong in the capital city. In the midst of the individualistic life of the citizens of Jakarta with a high level of activity, the Chinese ex-Medan are a specific community because they still take time to care for each other and help each other.


With the habit of speaking Hokkien and maintaining the culture of their ancestral country, the Jakarta Chinese have always branded Medan Chinese as full-blooded Chinese. On the other hand, the Medan Chinese refer to their fellow-ethnic brothers in Jakarta, who cannot speak "Chinese", as khiau seng.

Khiau seng, in Mandarin called chiao sen. The word chiao is taken from the word wai chiao, which means the outside, while sen is taken from the word sien sen, which means master. The word sen itself can mean people. So, chiao sen or khiau seng means "outsiders" or not local people.

From this nickname, it can be seen how the Medan Chinese regard the Jakarta Chinese as people who are "not the same as them". In the eyes of some Medan Chinese, Jakarta Chinese and Javanese Islanders, they are indeed "different" people. They are considered as "non-native Chinese", because they do not know their ancestral language and tend to forget their customs .

Khiau seng is also considered to have "distorted" from the Chinese frame, which attaches great importance to kinship. The Jakarta Chinese are also seen as very kiet sui people, which means people who are "very good at arithmetic". In doing business, Chinese Jakarta is considered to have a sophisticated way of counting and tends to be complicated, in contrast to the Chinese from Medan, which is more sophisticated and simple. Of course, all the accusations above are just assumptions that are not necessarily true.

In the view of the Medan Chinese, the Jakarta Chinese and the Javanese in many respects do have more in common with "Padang Chinese". China Padang is the name from the Medan Chinese for the ethnic Chinese who live in West Sumatra, who do not speak Hokkien or Mandarin, the same as most of the Chinese on the Java island. Uniquely, although many Medan Chinese do not want to be called as “Cina”, they call their fellow ethnic groups in Padang and its surroundings with that nickname.

Of course, not all Medan Chinese have a negative view of khiau seng. And vice versa. Not a few between the two parties there is a harmonious friendship or business relationship. In fact, it is not uncommon for marriages to occur between their sons and daughters.

Photo by Halim Kosasi on Unsplash


Random posts



Contact Form


Email *

Message *