Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s recent remarks about the Chinese being marginalized have expectedly drawn loud protests and expressions of indignation from politicians in Indonesia.
These people really have the cheek. Before they dare to demand an explanation from MM Lee, I would suggest that they first give a proper account of the events of 1998. Lest some of you have forgotten, that was the year when many Chinese were killed and Chinese women systematically raped. Instead of summoning our ambassador, perhaps they should summon the BBC or CNN. Just look at some of these reports:
In what appeared to be a well organised operation, anti-Chinese sentiment was mobilised - many believed by the army - to create chaos in the city.
Hundreds of people were killed, homes and businesses were burned to the ground, ethnic Chinese women were systematically raped and in some cases stripped in public.
Source: BBC News SPECIAL REPORT: The Chinese dilemma, June 1, 1999
Team finds no proof of mass rapes
Women's groups have said at least 168 Chinese women and girls were raped during the May riots.
But a government fact-finding team said it had not found any proof ethnic Chinese women were raped during previous riots, Antara reported Saturday.
Women's Affairs Minister Tutty Alawiah, one of the leaders of the investigation, echoed military chiefs who said earlier this week that they had failed to find evidence of mass rapes.
"The team has been conducting an investigation for one and a half months now but has found no woman who fell victim to gang rape or who claimed to have been raped during the May riots," Antara quoted Alawiah as saying.
Human rights activists say rape victims may be unwilling to seek help because of the stigma associated with the crime and because they may view police as being corrupt.
Source: CNN - Anti-Chinese riots continue in Indonesia - August 29, 1998
"The murderer intended to send us a message that they could really kill," said Karlina Leksono of the Volunteers for Humanity.
"People will now be afraid to tell anyone what happened during the riots. This is terrorising for Indonesia's ethnic Chinese," said Ester Indahyani Jusuf Lubis, leader of Serambi Nusa Bangsa, a group formed to fight racial discrimination.
During the May riots many businesses and homes of the ethnic Chinese minority were targeted by mobs.
The reports of mass rapes outraged Chinese communities around the world and resulted in calls for tough action by the governments of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
BBC News: Indonesian rape counsellor murdered, October 10, 1998.
Rape or no rape … I think you can decide for yourself.
Maybe MM Lee was wrong after all, to say that Chinese in Indonesians are marginalized. Terrorized or brutalized may be a better word.
For further reading:
1) BBC News SPECIAL REPORT Indonesia '98: A year of living dangerously
2) BBC News ASIA-PACIFIC Analysis: South-East Asia's Chinese