Indonesian Islamist leader reveals ethnic Chinese wealth is next target

The police on Saturday (May 13) reminded foreigners visiting or living in Singapore to abide by the law here, a day ahead of planned events in support of outgoing Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama or Ahok.

Bonnie Triyana, a historian who has chronicled Chinese Indonesian experiences, said Nasir was "scapegoating" the Chinese.

He has also argued against foreign investment, and in favor of preventing the government from "selling Indonesia to foreigners, especially China".

Former President Suharto blocked Chinese Indonesians from many public posts and denied them cultural expression, forcing them to drop their Chinese names.

As they turned to trade and business, their wealth had been the subject of resentment bypoorer "pribumi", Indonesia's mostly ethnic-Malay indigenous people.

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, aka Jokowi, was targeted by a smear campaign when running for President in 2014, which claimed that he had Chinese ancestors and was a Christian.

Supporters of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama light.

As he geared for an election to win another term as governor of the Indonesian capital previous year, Purnama told a group of fisherfolk that his rivals were deceiving people by using a verse in the Koran to say that Muslims should not be led by a non-Muslim.

Those predictions were shredded when Ahok was sentenced to jail this week, and three of the five judges who presided over his blasphemy trial were swiftly promoted to even higher offices.

"If Ahok's sentence was to be revised as a city arrest, he would still be a convict", Tjahjo said at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta yesterday, May 12.

However, the decision handed down by the court on Tuesday was harsher than expected, a possible indication of Islam's growing influence in politics in the supposedly religiously tolerant Indonesia.

Ethnic Chinese make up less than 5 per cent of Indonesia's population, but they control many of its large conglomerates and much of its wealth.

Speaking in a rare interview at an Islamic center in South Jakarta on Thursday, Nasir advocated an affirmative action program for native Indonesians, Reuters reported commenting that his words might spur further tensions in Indonesia. "That's the biggest problem".

"Our next job is economic sovereignty, economic inequality".

Nasir insisted that he supported a pluralist Indonesia but he also spoke in favor of restricting alcohol to tourist areas, curbing prostitution and criminalizing adultery and sodomy.

In the interview, Nasir said "ethnic sentiment can not be denied" when it comes to inequality, and the economic power of Chinese Indonesians needs to be addressed.

His sister, Fifi Lety Indra, said the Bible was the only book Ahok brought with him when he was taken to prison.

Previously, EU Delegation to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam demanded the government and people to uphold their country's long-standing tradition of tolerance and pluralism.

Charles Santiago, the chairman of APHR, said in the statement that the verdict places Indonesia's position as a regional leader in democracy and openness in jeopardy "and raises concerns about Indonesia's future as an open, tolerant, diverse society". Once his star began to fall, critics accused him of pursuing policies that benefited wealthy ethnic Chinese at the expense of poor indigenous Indonesians.

A Saudi-trained cleric, Nasir formed the GNPF-MUI past year to target Purnama, the now-convicted Jakarta governor.

  • Carolyn Briggs