Chinese mark New Year without fanfare

INDONESIA IN TRANSITION

CHINESE Indonesians celebrated Chinese New Year without any fanfare, a sign that the community is being constrained by ethnic sensitivities in the post-Suharto era.

Jakarta’s Chinatown, Glodok, a beehive of business activity, was a pale shadow of its former self.

The ethnic Chinese, who own most of the shops there, were less than festive in their celebrations.

At Glodok, and other areas such as Mangga Besar and Tomang, the minority group was careful about being too extravagant in ushering in the New Year.

Mr Edi Susanto, 45, who owns a noodles stall, said: “We don’t want to attract too much attention by holding big parties.

“It will be considered ‘vulgar’ given the economic situation. It might upset some people who will look for any excuse to attack our stores and houses.”

President B. J. Habibie has pledged to end discrimination against them by passing a decree.

But the government has yet to repeal all the laws, including some which made it illegal to celebrate Chinese New Year openly.

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