JUN 14 1998
Chinese ready to make quick exit
JAKARTA – Anecdotal evidence shows that thousands of Chinese-Indonesian families in the capital are prepared to leave at the first sign of renewed unrest.
With valid passports in hand, the families said last month’s riots had taught them a painful lesson about their vulnerable position in Indonesia, The Jakarta Post reported yesterday.
“My relatives and most of my students keep their passports with them so they can flee as soon as a new riot takes place,” said Mr Edison Yulius, a lecturer of architecture at Tarumanegara University here.
To get quick cash, some were reportedly offering houses, vehicles and furniture at low prices, the paper reported. Many preferred to travel to Singapore, Malaysia and Hongkong as temporary destinations as they did not need visas to enter these countries.
Housewife Liliek of Jalambar, West Jakarta, said she would flee with her two teenage daughters and leave her belongings behind. She told the paper that she knew of hundreds of families, neighbours and friends who were prepared to leave this way.
She said a couple were undergoing treatment at Bhakti Husada Hospital for deep psychological trauma as they could not accept the deaths of their children – three teenage girls – at the family’s shop at Glodok business centre in West Jakarta on May 13.
“Two of the girls threw themselves into the fire that gutted the shop after they failed to help their youngest sister, who was gang-raped by a mob,” she recounted. Distraught, the young girl followed her sisters by jumping into the fire from the second floor.
Ms Liliek’s eldest daughter said some of her friends had been stripped and molested by mobs during the riots.
Earlier this month, the Forum of Reform Entrepreneurs said about 110,000 Chinese-Indonesian families had fled the country.
About 80,000 of the families planned to return if the situation stabilised, 20,000 were undecided, and the rest had decided to move to Singapore, Taiwan and Hongkong, the group’s spokesman Nazar Haroen said.
Deep concern prevails among the Chinese-Indonesians over their future as they are the usual target of mob violence during times of hardship in Indonesia.
However, many of them were quick to point out that Indonesia is the only land they have known, said the daily.
“The decision to prepare to leave Indonesia, the country where we were born and grew up, is not an easy choice,” said Mr Qin Yang Min Tze of South Jakarta who plans to leave with his wife and two daughters to China or the US.