The transition theory provides a modernity view on movement of rural-urban demographic transition in which there is a noticeable transition from high fertility to low fertility and mortality, there is also a shift of economic based activities from agriculture to industrial based, and was seen as a development transition. Another changes transition theory suggest is the mobility transition of which migration is always two-way, there is always a combination of internal and international migration executing together.

The strength of this approach is that it combines different types of movements within a single framework and the theory is being criticizes as following a old myth of immobility and it is unreasonable to link mobility change to demographic transition. There is also postmodernist approach to give an antithesis generalization of migration, which migration is being seen as the fundamental experience of movement for creation of new cultures, erodes the created identities and make a new and more consistent one, through the transnational movement from one place to another.

In this way, migrants are believed to be individuals but not as decision-makers of the behavioural approach. Postmodernists use vanguard migration flows of exile, identity and experience as key concepts to reflect the subjective view of migrant as an individual and show the emphasis has shifted from national towards more university experience, in the post-colonial world, described by Said(1993), it created a global independent community while at the same time allowing people to believe that they belong to only one part of that community as whites or blacks, orientals or westerners.

The opinion of postmodernists give risk to a concept of transnationalism heightened interconnectivity between people all around the world and the loosening of boundaries between countries, by global flow of people, ideas, technologies and goods, this phenomenon is not reguard as new developed ones as people always move throughout history, bringing different culture to different places. However, its effects are exaggerated by recent globalization.

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The rural-urban migration in East Asia has been accompanied by a degree of integration in labor markets. The issue of labour scarcity has historically been a problem for capitalists attempting to realize an area’s full potential level of accumulation. Field(1994) witness two major phrase in labour market development, the first phrase is increasing employment with constant wages, then followed by a full employment and with rapidly rising real wages. The more recent migration is believed to be driven by ‘newly-decentralized economies’ which declines of labour-intensive manu-facturing in the urban area and the growth of low paid service sector jobs has resulted in a significantly flow of migrants from third world to take up these unwanted jobs.

Take Hong Kong as a case, sojourners from Philippines or Indonesia usually employed for relatively low-paid domestic household work, while all well-paid managerial jobs were held by local citizens. On the other hand, excessive migration would be served as a push factor inevitably lead to a break down of local culture, more and more Philipino culture is spreading to Hong Kong. What evident is that the migrants do not simply disconnect the economic from the cultural, explaining why migrants don’t just simply cut ties with their places of origin. This is not sentimental, but as a result of experiences they develop in the places they migrate to and how their identities interplay between economic and cultural factors which anthropology can illuminate. Therefore, notions of transnationalism are really about a lack of borders, and people put a strong investment in one place as a result of the other.

3. The Chinese Diaspora in Indonesia

As a result of migration, often to geographically distant lands, today’s Chinese people are widely distributed outside China and live in almost every country of the world. Emmigration of Chinese Diaspora begins in 19th century when colonialism was at its height, the weakness of the late Dynasty Qing had been a main period of migration. Owning to the lack of labours in some colonies, some Chinese were employed by foreign agencies and others were forced by Qing Empire and colonial powers to move away from their countries to work as labours.

From the census of Indonesia held in 2000, 2million inhabitants described themselves as ethnic Chinese but the number were expected to be underestimated and it is believed that the actual number is somewhere between 6million and 7million people of Chinese descent are now living in Indonesia. (Johnston,2005). Chinese Indonesian people are diverse in their origins, timing and circumstances of immigration to Indonesia. The dominant languages among these immigrants were Hokkien, Hakka, and Cantonese. The largest group belongs to Hakka, most of the Chinese Indonesian live in Bangka-Belitung, Java, West Kalimantan, Sumatra, South Sulawesi partially due to anti-Chinese legislation in Indonesia.

The Chinese have migrated to Indonesia mostly in the following three periods, the first wave is the time of Zheng He’s voyage in the early 15th, second wave is during the time of optimum war in 19th century when Dutch colonial policy favored ethnic Chinese who helped strengthen Dutch domination over the region to established their economic dominance. And the most recent migration is around the first half of the 20th century. Early Chinese Indonesian migrants whose ancestors immigrated in the first and second waves have already assimulated in the Indonesian society and are called Keturunan Chinese. The migrants arrived Indonesia during the third wave who are still culturally Chinese generally called Orang Tiong Hoa.

The Chinese has long been perceived as ‘aliens’ regardless of how much they assimilate until recent years. The Chinese discrimination and alienation began in 1740 after a massacre in Batavia, today Jakarta, conducted by Dutch East India Company. After the dissolve of Dutch East Indian Company in 1799, the Dutch government took over the control in Indonesia and imposes an apartheid segregation policy.

Residents of the Indonesia had been classified into three class, the first class are European, Jew, Thai and Japanese, second class is Chinese and the third class is Muslims including natives, Arabs and Chinese Muslims. Since 1940, Chinese are not allowed to leave Chinatown except small proportion privileged people working for the governor. This policy is expected to prevent Chinese to mix with the native, to alienate them, and to groom a resentment towards Chinese so that the anger of the natives should be directed to the Chinese not to the Dutch. (Wikipedia, 2006) Although the policy has been erased from legislation since the independence, it prohibited the Chinese from exercising free choice of residence, requiring them to live in cities.

During 1960s, the Indonesian Suharto government has continued a policy of discrimination against the ethnic Chinese, restricting their admission to state universities and the civil service and maintaining a ban on the use of Chinese characters, while at the same time, leaving their dominance of the Indonesian economy intact and enabling a few dozen ethnic Chinese families to amass fabulous wealth. These policies have resulted in a public image of the ethnic Chinese as rich pariahs.(Human Right Watch, 1997)

Many Chinese Indonesians in Indonesia today are pretty well off. Although it accounts for only 3% or 4% of Indonesia’s 238 million population, the mostly urban-based ethnic-Chinese community dominates retail business and controls many of the country’s major industrial conglomerates. The rise in prices of basic goods in November 1997 – May 1998 has led to violent protests across Indonesia the unrest had by mid-February hit the islands of Sumatra, Sulawesi, Lombok, Sumbawa, and Flores as well.

The protests have been related to sharp increases in the prices of the so-called nine basic commodities (eg. rice, wheat flour, cooking oil, sugar, soybeans, and eggs) as a result of the dramatic loss in value of the rupiah, the Indonesian currency. Much of it aimed at the ethnic Chinese minority who dominate the retail economy as they are failed to explain that high prices and food shortages are not the fault of individual retailers. The targets of the violence have been Chinese-owned shops, homes, and businesses, more than 1,200 people were reported killed and more than 160 women were gang-raped. Finally, the government has been quick to send troops to disturbed areas and arrest alleged ringleaders and some senior officials have appeared to endorse the anti-Chinese sentiment.

China government does not recognise dual nationality, so those living overseas have had to accept that they are Indonesians. But there is a very strong sense of ethnic solidarity, and the Chinese word for ‘overseas Chinese'(huaqiao), implies an eventual return home. Indonesian Chinese can now use their real names and celebrate New Year, but they are still unlikely to get a place at a state-run university, or join the army or police. Marriages between the Indonesian Chinese community and indigenous Indonesians are still rare, with parents on both sides tending to discourage such relationships.

The current stereotypes of Chinese in Indonesians tend to be based more on envy than anything else. Most ‘pure’ native Indonesian girls also wanted to look more similar their Chinese counterparts who tended to have fairer skin and taller builds. Richard Oh, an ethnic Chinese businessman, is confident that the long-term trend is towards integration, “The current atmosphere of harmony between the different races will I think bring us to a more multi-cultural and diverse mix in every segment of civil society, but it will happen slowly,” he says “I’m just as Indonesian as the next person”.(Johnston, 2005)

The integration and assimilation of Chinese Diaspora in Indonesia

The government program of assimilation for the Chinese was carried out in several ways. Since 1960s, the Indonesian Suharto government discouraged and even occasionally prohibited symbols of Chinese identity. Chinese-language newspapers, schools, and public ritual use of Chinese names were all subject to strong governmental disapproval. Census figures do not record Chinese as a special group, and there are no simple racial criteria for membership in this group.(Hoon, 2004). Since then, Chinese had a long history of enforced separation from their non-Chinese neighbors.

After the fall of Suharto government, in September 1998, President B.J.Habibie carried out legislative reform to end the official use of the discriminatory labels. Habibie issued a presidential instruction to allow the teaching of the Chinese language and abolished a regulation requiring ethnic Chinese to produce certificates of citizenship when registering for school or making official applications.

This move is aimed at erasing the distinction between ‘indigenous-ness’ and ‘foreignness’ and the ethnic Chinese community is starting to rediscover its confidence, beginning to take advantage of the democratic reforms. Among young ethnic Chinese, learning Mandarin has become a popular pursuit. In 2002, the following President, Megawati Sukarnoputri, once again strength the language policy, declared her support for Chinese education and established Sinology departments in Indonesian universities. Chinese language as a subject has been included in some school curricula. (Hoon, 2004).

Ethnic Chinese were also given greater freedom to assert their cultural and religious identity. President Abdurrahman Wahid assured the ethnic Chinese of their right to observe their cultural practice in the same way that other ethnic groups had enjoyed theirs. Wahid went a step further In January 2001 and declare Imlek (Chinese New Year) an optional holiday and it further declared as national holiday by Megawati in 2003. (Hoon, 2004). This is a landmark decision for further cultural rights of the ethnic Chinese.

Despite the rise in Chinese cultural freedoms, racial discrimination in Indonesia also diminished. More than 50 discriminative laws and ordinances were in force in 2004. The resurgence of Chinese culture and emergence of identity politics become a signifier of Chinese roots of ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, Indonesian Chineseness has inevitably been shaped by local cultures, this causes a re-assessment of the way culture, place, nationality, identity and ethnicity are defined, and the meanings associated with them. The Chinese Diaspora begin to create their own uniquess apart from being Chinese in mainland China, Taiwan or any part of the world. This generation tends to construct an idealised ancestral homeland despite the reality of living in a multi-ethnic nation.

There is an understanding of an endemic link between the Diasporic communities and the land which was initially vacated. A de-territorialized identity and link with the land of origin has always been the nature of diasporic identities. Mammoth linguistic commonality usually binds them into a community. Members of diasporic societies may emphasise with others sharing their ethnic origin, living in other countries, establish “very strong association of notions of diaspora with displacement and dislocation means the experience of location can easily dissolve out of focus” (Brah, 1996:180)


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