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In the years since entering the era of independence, there has been a long debate in the country about the concept of mixing ethnic Chinese into the Indonesian nation, including among the ethnic Chinese themselves. Some Chinese people see the notion of integration, namely the process of mixing ethnic Chinese into the Indonesian nation without losing their identity as Chinese, as the most ideal concept.

Others argue that assimilation is more appropriate, because the application of Chinese culture and customs is considered to be a barrier to the assimilation process. Adherents of assimilation are divided into two groups.

The first is a group that identifies assimilation as fusion. That is, the ethnic Chinese merged into the Indonesian nation through intermarriage, embraced the majority religion, and gave up all their Chinese identity. The second group identifies assimilation as assimilation, in which the ethnic Chinese abandon all their cultural and traditional attributes but without being "forced" to change religions or intermarry.

Intermarriage and becoming a Muslim is a good thing if it is done sincerely and departs from one's own consciousness, but it cannot be relied on as a condition for assimilation for such a large community. Marriage and belief in a religion is a human right and involves a very personal matter.

Anthropology professor, Prof. DR Usman Pelly MA, said that the notion of integrating one ethnic group into another is acculturation. If assimilation is the process of merging an ethnic group into the culture of another larger or dominant group, then acculturation is that different ethnic groups give and receive cultural elements from each group. Thus, what happens is not smelting, but enrichment. The concept of acculturation will result in cultural pluralism and related groups living on the principle of mutual benefit (symbiotic mutualism).


Children of other ethnicities from childhood are taught by their families and their environment, although not all, that ethnic Chinese are "cunning, cheating and not part of us". Chinese children are also fed negative opinions about other ethnicities. They grow up with such a doctrine in mind. And unfortunately, in schools and playgrounds around the house, the doctrine seems to be justified because the people around them say the same thing.

There must be a mass commitment within the groups involved. Ideally there is political will from the government to make a movement such as "inner reconciliation" to break the chain of bitterness. mass organizations from both sides can also be the driving force. On the ethnic Chinese side, the ones who can drive this are INTI, PSMTI or PASTI, by involving ethnic Chinese figures whose authority and reputation are recognized. Meanwhile, from other ethnic groups, it must be an organization that can represent a pluralistic society.


Malaysia is a clear example of how the economic equality between the Bumiputra and the Chinese makes them able to coexist peacefully. Even though there was a racial riot in 1969 which was triggered by social jealousy, the facts show that for decades the togetherness between the Malays and the Chinese had gone on without any significant clashes. Even though the Chinese are the economic leader, the Malays as the majority can live a good life. With various facilities and conveniences through pro-bumiputra regulations, Malays have all the basic necessities for life: an apartment, a car and an adequate salary. When all the necessities of life are met, the bumiputras are never provoked to take anarchist actions, even though in their daily lives the Malays and Chinese tend to go their own ways.


The will and courage of the Medan Chinese to enter the world of politics, as shown since the 2009 election, must continue to be strengthened. Reforms that open many doors must be utilized to the fullest. Not only in the legislature or sitting as administrators of political parties, Medan Chinese also have to venture into all kinds of jobs and professions, including being civil servants in the government.

It's time for Medan Chinese not only to become objects and even "victims", but also become subjects or perpetrators. The younger generation of Medan Chinese no longer focuses on being traders. For this purpose, the government itself must really provide opportunities for ethnic Chinese to enter all fields. Restrictions that are not written but have become public knowledge must be removed. Opportunities to study at state universities, specialize in medical faculties, as well as opportunities to become members of the TNI/ Polri must be opened as wide as possible. Offers and opportunities are not only on paper, but on the field are complicated and limited.

The dispersal of ethnic Chinese in various professions related to government has many positive sides. On the one hand, the Medan Chinese can channel their potential in real terms in development, on the other hand, their activities outside of trade will provide opportunities for other ethnic groups. By sitting as the determinant and implementer of the policy, ethnic Chinese will be able to suppress various discrimination treatments that have been experienced by them for decades.

Photo by Halim Kosasi on Unsplash


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