2014年，Richard Borsuk和 Nancy Chng針對林紹良和他創辦的集團Salim Group，發表了一本書。林紹良曾是蘇哈托主要的商業夥伴和親信。作者使用林紹良的兒子們和摯友的訪問內容，精彩地描繪了林紹良和蘇哈托之間的親密合作關係。
探討1998年5月強暴事件的Elaine Tay寫道，極端的性暴力常常被「沈默以對或中性化，塑造成是戰爭或暴力衝突無法避免的不幸副作用」。 然而，這些默不作聲本身便是一種訊息。強暴常常成為男性溝通的一種武器，在戰爭或衝突中，作為主體的男性將強暴當作溝通工具，傳達「敵人不是真男人因為無法保護自己的女人」的訊息。雖然1998年5月的暴力完全不是什麼「戰爭」，強暴作為一種傳達種族男性氣概的工具，仍然有效。而且相對於體制化的弱勢，性侵暴力更加令華裔印尼人擔心受怕。1998年5月和之後的日子裡，許多華裔家庭紛紛將女兒送走，通常藉由與外國人結婚讓她們離開印尼。
 Richard Borsuk and Nancy Chng, LiemSioeLiong's Salim Group: the Business Pillar of Suharto 's Indonesia, ISEAS Publishing, 2014, Chap. 1.
 Purdey, Anti-Chinese Violence, 1996-1999, p.21.
 Purdey, Anti-Chinese Violence in Indonesia, 2006, p.25.
 Richard Borsuk and Nancy Chng, LiemSioeLiong's Salim Group: the Business Pillar of Suharto's Indonesia, ISEAS Publishing, 2014, Chap. 22.
 Elaine Tay, "Discursive Violence on the Internet and the May 1998 Riots: Analysis, Representation, Resolution" in Charles Coppel ed. ViolentConflicts in Indonesia: Analysis, Representation, Resolution, 2006, p.63.
The Impossibility of Collective Memory: Some Reflections on the May 1998 Violence in Indonesia (II)
by Sai Siew-Min (Independent Scholar)
Wealth has a (Male) Chinese Face
Perhaps the most troubling lesson I have learned from studying the May 1998 violence is the way racial stereotypes are systemically re/produced from structural asymmetries and take on lives of their own, with deadly consequences. The ease with which Chinese Indonesians could be "scapegoated" leans on the widespread belief that compared to "indigenous" Indonesians —marked by the Indonesian term "pribumi,"— "non-indigenous" Indonesians, i.e., the "non-pribumi" (which is a code word for Chinese Indonesians) are wealthier. The fact that class assumes overt racialized forms in Indonesia is not often examined, much less interrogated by laymen and experts alike. Just recently (in February 2018), I met an American researcher studying the Chinese Indonesians who repeated the platitude that they are wealthier than indigenous Indonesians to a public audience. This persuasive stereotype is not easily overturned by obvious facts such as there are many poor Chinese Indonesians as well as many rich indigenous Indonesians, the glaring example being Suharto and his family. Thus, when I offered these data points for his consideration, the researcher argued he was describing a "general" phenomenon which suggests he failed to realize how class identities have been consistently racialized in the country.
The discursive practice of giving wealth a "(male) Chinese face" draws life from an elaborate infrastructure of knowledge that has long and deep histories not only within Indonesia but also beyond Indonesian shores. Disproportionate attention is given to successful Chinese businessmen in the regional and global mass media but also crucially, in the English-language academia. It does not help at all that notable Chinese businessmen, particularly in Southeast Asia, routinely refer to some aspect of their "Chinese culture" to account for their business success. The notion that some "cultural and racial DNA" makes the Chinese good at business and money-making, also enjoys immense cache in many Sinophone societies and communities around the world. And so, we often forget that the same racialized argument can have a glowing but also a dark side.
New Order Indonesia was exemplary in exploiting the stereotype of the successful Chinese businessman, embedding it centrally in mechanisms of socio-economic and political control. When Suharto assumed power in the mid-1960s, he instituted extensive policies that discriminated against Chinese Indonesians. He banned the Chinese language and elements of Chinese culture and kept them out of the civil service and the political arena while working with his close Chinese business partners to develop the economy. Since Indonesia's anti-colonial war against the Dutch, Chinese smugglers/businessmen whose operations were mobile and small-scale had been critical in supplying Indonesian army commanders with necessities and even arms. Such mutually beneficial relationships persisted after Indonesia achieved its independence and well into the 1960s.
Using interviews with Liem Sioe Liong (Sudono Salim), his sons and close friends, a recently-published book on Liem, who was Suharto's primary business partner and crony, paints a vivid picture of their intimate relationship which began when Liem vied with others to supply the army under Suharto's command in Central Java with necessities. When Suharto became President, Liem and the Salim Group, an enterprise described in the book as "Suharto's creation," were given government monopolies and preferential treatment. Liem thrived under Suharto's protection and patronage. In return, Liem channeled a percentage of his company's profits to special "foundations" benefiting Suharto and his family or gave them shares in his businesses. Liem was also the chief financier for Suharto's major pet projects. Indonesians have a name for Liem and Chinese Indonesian businessmen like him. They are known as "cukong." As the authors of this book explain, "cukong" refers to "a Chinese financial backer who is given protection by powerful political or military leaders." (Richard Borsuk and Nancy Chng, Liem Sioe Liong's Salim Group: the Business Pillar of Suharto's Indonesia, 2014, chap. 1)
One must fault Suharto for setting a toxic model at the apex of power. The patron-client relationship between army commanders and Chinese businessmen was replicated throughout all levels of New Order Indonesian society, leading to abuses of power, nepotism, rent-seeking behavior but also systemic vulnerabilities for Chinese Indonesians, who must be willing to "pay" to receive "protection" and "patronage." Purdey's succinct description of this toxic relationship illustrates well the systemic vulnerabilities affecting Chinese Indonesians in the country:
The New Order kept in place a mutually beneficial system for members of the elite and for many Chinese Indonesians while increasing their underlying vulnerability and dependence upon the elite in military and government for protection. High-level relationships such as those with Suharto's family members and senior military figures were restricted to a minority of Chinese Indonesians, but the same discourse and practices also defined relations between small shopkeepers and local military officials. At all levels of society, their ethnicity meant that Chinese Indonesians required security and needed the means to purchase it. (Purdey, Anti-Chinese Violence in Indonesia, 1996-1999, 2006, p.21)
Such vulnerabilities include being susceptible to racist accusations such as "the Chinese are corrupt," "the Chinese control the economy," "the Chinese enrich themselves at the expense of indigenous Indonesians" and so on. As Indonesia's economy boomed, the Suharto-styled system of crony capitalism ensured that businesses owned and managed by Chinese businessmen with powerful patrons dominated the private sector. In the months leading to the May 1998 violence, claims that "the Chinese control a huge chunk of the country's economy"was circulating. Such claims were usually accompanied by vague "quantitative data" such as that Chinese Indonesians constituting no more than "3% of the total population dominated 50% to 80% of Indonesia's economy."
As scholars point out, what passed as "quantitative data" was more often than not, inaccurate and used loosely, ignoring, for example, the exclusion of Chinese Indonesians from several lucrative state sectors. Nevertheless, Purdey writes that more accurate figures do show that before May 1998, "Chinese Indonesians owned about 80% of the country's private corporate wealth. That is to say, of limited liability companies. Chinese Indonesians owned nine out of the top ten business groups in Indonesia and controlled 80 percent of assets in the top three hundred groups. Of the country's top 15 taxpayers, 13 were ethnic Chinese— the other two were Bambang and Tommy Suharto, the President's sons." (Purdey, Anti-Chinese Violence in Indonesia, p.25)
The numerical data discussed by Purdey may seem to lend some weight to popular stereotypes surrounding Chinese control of Indonesia's economy. A sharper analysis, however, reveals what is not evident at first glance. These figures demonstrate, in fact, that the patron-client structure had been wildly successful in keeping super-rich Chinese businessman precisely where he would be most useful for the New Order regime. A tiny percentage of well-connected Chinese businessmen — certainly less than 3%—profited handsomely as a result while Chinese Indonesians bore the collective burden of institutionalized discrimination and systemic vulnerabilities. This was a structure that reproduced itself, feeding off one anti-Chinese stereotype after another, making it convenient for the government to blame Chinese Indonesians collectively for the country's rapid descent into economic crisis during the late 1990s. Many years after the tragic events of May 1998, Anthony Salim — Liem's son and successor —would, with more than a hint of resignation, "tacitly acknowledge there was no way to dislodge the view that Chinese became a bigger target during the New Order —clearly targeted in the May 1998 riots —because a small group of them became very rich. As Anthony Salim put it, "We cannot change history." (Richard Borsuk and Nancy Chng, Liem Sioe Liong's Salim Group: the Business Pillar of Suharto's Indonesia, ISEAS Publishing, 2014, chap.22.)
Purdey's research moves us away from Jakarta to demonstrate how Chinese Indonesians in hitherto neglected areas such as, in the cities of Medan in Sumatra and Solo in Central Java, were impacted by the violence. She connects the extraordinary violence in these places to the common systemic vulnerabilities afflicting Chinese Indonesians, arguing that the remarkable violence was enabled by yet draw attention away from normalized forms of violence Chinese Indonesians were experiencing on a daily basis.
The case of Medan was especially striking because violence erupted in this city on 4th May 1998, about 1.5 weeks earlier than in Jakarta and lasted for much longer — five days without active intervention from the security forces. The violent episodes in Medan followed a similar pattern and displayed remarkable similarities with what happened subsequently in Jakarta and elsewhere, prompting the government's Joint-Team to describe the pattern of violence in Medan as a "template." Medan has its local specificities. It has a higher concentration of Chinese Indonesians (about 12% of the local population) who make up the third largest ethnic group in the city. Medan Chinese are also widely perceived to be "less assimilated." Thus, Purdey argues that the systemic vulnerabilities of Chinese Indonesians on a national scale and their entrapment within "cash-for-protection" practices are magnified in Medan. Medan Chinese are routinely subjected to demands for money from agents of government, local military, "youth groups" such as "Pemuda Pancasila," (Pancasila Youth) gang members and thugs who promise them "security" and "protection" in return. Remember the famous documentary "The Act of Killing"? In that documentary, the protagonist and his gangster friends were filmed going around the marketplace, half-teasing and half-threatening terrified Chinese Indonesian shop-owners as they demanded "protection money" from the shop-owners with ill-disguised ease and impunity. This was day-light robbery carried out with bizarre light-heartedness. That took place in Medan. In the days before 4th May, these groups escalated their threats and demands for money, creating what Purdey describes as "a mood of terror" in the city.
The situation in Solo was noticeably different from Medan's. Violence in Solo erupted almost simultaneously with that in Jakarta and the scale of the destruction caused was as extensive, if not worse than in Jakarta. However, Purdey finds that local Solonese were extremely conscious of reports in the national, regional and global media portraying the violence in Jakarta as "anti-Chinese." As a consequence, numerous groups in Solo, including Solonese-Chinese themselves sought to portray the violence in Solo as anything but "anti-Chinese." Yet, some of the arguments they put forth —including the contention that the main grievance of those who looted and plundered was "economic" and thus not targeted at the Chinese specifically — were tacitly racialized. About 80% of the shop-owners in Solo are Chinese Indonesians, a fact not lost on most Solonese. Purdey argues that this denial of "anti-Chinese violence" in Solo leaves the structural reproduction of systemic vulnerabilities afflicting Chinese Indonesians, intact.
And Silence Has a Female Face
The contrast between prolific images and narratives of exuberant male Chinese wealth and the silence hanging over Chinese female victims who were raped and tortured during the May 1998 violence could not be starker. Elaine Tay, who explored the issue of the May 1998 rapes, writes that racialized sexual abuse is often "a matter surrounded by silence or naturalized as an unfortunate side-effect of war or violent conflict." (Elaine Tay, "Discursive Violence on the Internet and the May 1998 Riots" in Charles Coppel ed., Violent Conflicts in Indonesia: Analysis, Representation, Resolution, 2006, p.63) These silences, however, communicate. Rape is often wielded as an instrument of male communication, for male protagonists in war and conflict situations to communicate to their enemies that they are not masculine enough to "protect" their women. Although the May 1998 violence was by no means a shooting war, rape as an instrument of communicating racialized masculine power amplified the terror felt by Chinese Indonesians, way beyond the systemic vulnerabilities they were already experiencing on a daily basis. During and after May 1998, families sent their daughters away, usually marrying them into families outside Indonesia, including Singapore and Taiwan.
The highly gendered messaging was sustained in acrimonious public debates on the May rapes which only succeeded in further silencing the victims. Confronted with the Volunteers' findings, the Habibie government veered between accepting and denying that the rapes took place. High-ranking military officers maintained that the rapes did not take place because there was no evidence. The police claimed they could not locate any "rape victims" and no reports had been filed. They threatened to charge groups that were reportedly "fabricating" the occurrence of the May rapes, with disastrous implications for Indonesia's good name. Groups like the Indonesian Committee for World Muslim Solidarity (Komite Indonesia untuk Solidaritas Dunia Islam) or KISDI slammed media reports claiming the victims were raped because they were "Chinese" and "non-Muslims." These reports, KISDI charged, portrayed Muslims in a negative light and damaged Indonesia's national image abroad.
In August 1998, an Asian Wall Street Journal report stated that photographs of "May 1998 victims" circulating on the internet were "fake" which provoked further speculation on whether the rapes took place. Indonesia's national reputation was again threatened. Then Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, commented that the distribution of fake photographs on the internet was "engineered" to discredit the Indonesian government and that because of the negative publicity, some Indonesian embassies had received "email bombs," forcing them to shut down their internet networks. In the din generated over whether the May rapes were "real" on the pretext that Indonesia's national reputation was hurt, the demand for "real" victims to step forward only threatened to put, not perpetrators, but the victims on trial. In the end, the Joint Team confirmed there were indeed 66 cases of rapes but failed to connect these rapes to the general disturbances. It did not establish the Volunteers' argument that the May rapes were part of one systematic and orchestrated act of violence and it concluded that there was no evidence to demonstrate that religion had been involved. Silences, gaps and distractions surrounding the May 1998 violence are part and parcel of how brazen, dominant and masculine discursive practices communicate in Indonesia. These discursive practices continue to inhibit genuine efforts in commemorating the May 1998 violence collectively and in meaningful ways.
In March 2018, I was back home in Singapore and managed to attend a talk by two young Singaporean artists. That session ended with a Malay pantun, a four-line Malay poem. It was a simple poem that spoke volumes about the contrast between the tangible world and invisible wounds. As I was writing this article, the poem stayed with me. I hope those who are silenced by the loud controversies surrounding the violence of May 1998 can find some comfort in the poem's unpretentious simplicity:
Buah berangan masaknya merah,
(The chestnut turns red as it ripens)
Kelekati dalam perahu,
(Winged ants inside a boat)
Luka di tangan nampak berdarah,
(The wound on my hand can be seen bleeding)
Luka di hati siapa yang tahu,
(The wound in my heart nobody knows)
Pantun by anonymous writer; translation by Alfian Sa'at