Indonesia's Tionghoa tensions: Revival of identity politics against Indonesia's ethnic Chinese

The revival of identity politics and lingering prejudice against the ethnic Chinese community complicate campaigning for Jokowi

Identity politics looks to be behind a number of decisions in President Joko Widodo's (far left) re-election campaign. He decided on Dr Ma'ruf Amin, a conservative clergyman, to be his running mate. People visiting a Chinese temple in Denpasar on Bal
People visiting a Chinese temple in Denpasar on Bali island to mark the start of the Chinese New Year last Tuesday. Both presidential candidates Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto were coy about directly addressing the minority group in their tweeted greetings, avoiding addressing them as warga Tionghoa (Chinese Indonesians). PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Both candidates in Indonesia's upcoming presidential election, Mr Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Mr Prabowo Subianto, seek the support of ethnic Chinese Indonesians.

Yet, in a telling sign of the sensitive state of race relations, both fight shy of openly courting them, as reflected in their formal Lunar New Year greetings on Twitter.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2019, with the headline 'Indonesia's Tionghoa tensions'. Subscribe