In this episode, we discuss the new Governor of Jakarta Anies Baswedan and his inaugural speech, in which he used the controversial word “pribumi” — a colonial term that means “from the land” and was used by the Dutch to refer to the indigenous Indonesian population. We unpack the segregationist history of this term, which was used by both the Dutch and Suharto during his New Order to discriminate between the pribumi and the “non-pribumi,” which during Dutch colonial rule meant the foreign Asians of Chinese, Arabs, and Indians, but has since almost exclusively meant the Chinese-Indonesians. As such, Anies’ use of this term is deeply unsettling as it revives the damaging and dangerous anti-Chinese rhetoric that influenced the tragedy of May 1998 and, more recently, the ethnic tensions surrounding Ahok’s blasphemy case and the gubernatorial elections, which Anies profited from.
We talk about how other politicians have reacted (or not reacted) to this controversy and discuss the laws that were set in place by previous presidents to prevent the use of the terms “pribumi” and “non-pribumi” in daily conversation. Finally, we wrap things up by reflecting on Anies’ speech and the tone of it in light of the 2019 presidential elections, which is less than 2 years away. Even though we’re disappointed with how politicians and ministers have reacted to Anies’ speech, we are inspired by the many young Indonesian netizens — pribumi and non-pribumi — who have criticized Anies’ speech, reported him to the police for spreading racist rhetoric, and came out in support of the Chinese-Indonesians.
Thanks for listening!
P.S. you can hear our previous episode on Anies Baswedan here.
For those interested in learning more about the topic, we’ve provided links to resources as well as other recommended readings.
Anies’ Speech Where He Says “Pribumi” — Oct. 16, 2017, in front of Jakarta’s City Hall
Anies & Sandi Talks to Najwa Shihab — Part 2 of an interview series with the noted journalist
History of the Word “Pribumi” — making sense of the word
Could Anti-Chinese Violence Flare Again in Indonesia? — unpacking the tension behind “Pribumi” and “Non-Pribumi”
Behind Indonesia’s Illiberal Turn — courtesy of New Mandala
Jakarta’s new governor doubles down on identity — by Professor of Comparative Politics Tom Pepinsky of Cornell University
Instruksi No. 26/1998 : Penghentian Penggunaan Istilah Pribumi dan Non Pribumi — the Sep 1998 Presidential Instruction by B.J. Habibie
UU Nomor 40 tahun 2008 tentang Penghapusan Diskriminasi Ras dan Etnis — the 2008 Eradication of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Law
“Ada apa dengan pidato Anies?” – On Discourse Building — courtesy of Frame & Sentences