Less than 1% of Indonesian public hates Chinese ethnic group: Pollster

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A survey by the Jakarta-based Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) has found that only 0.8 per cent of the public admit to disliking the Chinese ethnic group, which comes in contrast to the recently growing claims of anti-China sentiment in the country.

"Statistically, we can say there is no problem against Chinese groups in society because the number is insignificant," SMRC founder Saiful Mujani said during a discussion on Thursday (Dec 29).

"If it seems as if the anti-China sentiment was growing recently, the source was not the public. We should be clear on that," he added.

Even in long term survey data, which the SMRC collected from 2001 to this year, public sentiment against ethnic Chinese remained constant as it never went above 1.5 per cent.

Saiful viewed recent anti-China sentiments as having been heated up by some parties to gain support for certain issues, such as the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election.

The Islam Defenders Front (FPI), a group that has long objected to Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, for example, has used the momentum to gather more people to rally against him, a Christian of Chinese descent in the predominantly Muslim country, Saiful said.

Of the more than 1,000 respondents who had been interviewed about intolerance in November this year, 25.5 per cent cited the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as the group they disliked the most, followed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) group with 16.6 per cent and communists with 11.8 per cent.