Thursday, May 21, 1998 Published at 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
On the role of ethnic Chinese
The target for much of the recent violence in Indonesia has been the ethnic Chinese population. Though only a small minority of Indonesians are ethnic Chinese, they control a large share of the nation's wealth. Many Chinese Indonesians have fled the country. Others have e-mailed their views to BBC News online
Hesty, Chinese Indonesian
Malaysian who wishes to remain anonymous because he wishes to return to Indonesia
During the riots of the 14th May, I was monitoring the situations via 'Sonora', the tollroad radio. It was apparent that the riots were well organised. I am suspecting that these were linked to the Army faction of Prawobo, the President's powerful son-in-law. By targetting the ethnic Chinese, the element achieved the followings
There was a strong force coordinating all these activities.
Lie Fhung an Indonesian born Chinese-Indonesian
My father was born in China while my mother was a third, fourth generation born in Indonesia. I was born and raised in Jakarta and now living in Bandung.
I'm lucky to be surrounded by non-racist families and friends; in fact, most of my closest friends are Indonesian-natives. They are very kind and loyal to me as best friends would. I don't even have to change my name to Indonesian to be accepted in any native-Indonesians society.
If we see ourselves as one of them, as one nation, as fellow Indonesians, more often than not they will treat you like one.
A member of the Chinese community in Jakarta e-mailed us with his perceptions of the events on his doorstep. He preferred not to give his full name for fear of reprisals
What I regret is that they are not helping the situation unlike in Korea or Thailand, where the level of education is higher. What they ought to do is to fight against the government directly to demand full reformation. What they are doing is nonsense and useless.
An Indonesian e-mailed from Bogata, Colombia to make this comment
For instance in one incident I experienced myself, a Chinese did not want to seat next to a native Indonesian because of racial ground.
Amir Mohd, Singapore
The sentiments run deep of the indigenous Indonesians who are always at the disadvantage over the Chinese community in businesses have long been felt. Suharto whose deceased wife was a Chinese naturally seems to favour the Chinese in economic aspects.
The Chinese people are natural business people. This close knitted community has been long known that their objective of life is to accumulate as much wealth as possible. The Suharto's government failure to give equal business opportunities to the indigenous people has led the hatred to the Chinese.
AP Tan a Chinese born Indonesian living in Belgium responds directly
I had lived for 27 years in Indonesia, and I had work for a big six consultant so I know how the business work in Indonesia. Almost in every business, the first family have ownership, and they use Chinese as their partner because foreing investor and foreign customer prefer to do business with Chinese than Suharto family.
Name withheld for security reasons as my family is still there
The panicking Chinese-Indonesians trapped there are asking and giving each other advice on how to protect themselves, how to make protective weapons, etc. These people are living in fear and nobody cares.
Nobody is protecting them and if they are killed tomorrow in a new upheaval, the news around the world would again read: 'The 5% wealthy Chinese-Indonesian minority owning up to 80% of the country wealth is again the target of the frustrated poverty striven Indonesians'
The biggest regret so far is that the Indonesian leadership has not appealed explicitly to the mobs to avoid venting their frustration on the Chinese. However, this is to be expected in a country where Chinese are not allowed to study their language and adopt their Chinese names , and banned from practising any forms of Chinese culture.
Indonesian Chinese who grew up in Indonesia
The rich (both Chinese and native) should have shared their wealth to bring the education and standard of living up for the majority.
Anonymous from Bintaro, Jakarta
Indonesian businessman living in the US
Steve Dudley in Indonesia
Frankly it appears to me that President Suharto's sin is that he is, in the mind of his people, too closely alligned with Chinese business interests.
Indonesian Chinese should integrate and accept the Indonesian state principles of Pancasila. Too many times we hear shop owners saying, "It is not personal, it is business" as they unfairly treat the normally highly tolerant and calm Javanese. You can only push some one so far.
Fourteen years ago, when first I arrived in Indonesia, my Javanese driver told me that he cared nothing for who was President. He also cared nothing for who owned the shops and stores. All this with the caveat that as long as he could have a job, feed his family and provide education for his children. The rest he could take with a smile. However if those needs were denied he often stated he knew exactly who to blame for his problems. Chinese and those who allign with them.
Actually, Chinese Indonesians should be called Indonesian Chinese. Javanese however never use the word Indonesian positively in the same breath with the word Chinese.
This is not the first ethnic group in the world to pay in blood for standing out from the crowd in the name of business. Maybe it is just time to pay the piper.
Watching the trouble at home with sadness:Chinese Indonesians studying in the United States.Ruth Chia writes:
We got news from our friend that he was asked to take off his helmet by the natives to see whether or not he is a CHINESE or native. Actually he is a Chinese, but he was safe because he looks like a native Indonesian.
We know that the army did not do the right thing by shooting the college students (Trisakti University, Jakarta). But, we think, the students also took part in that, so, it wasn't wholey the army's fault. But, the conclusion is that, we know that the students have their rights to demonstrate and feel sad for what has happened. But we think that it was not necessary for other people (especially the natives to use this opportunity to do other NASTY things, such as robbery, arson, murder, etc.
They did not really want to make this country better, but make it worse. They did not try to solve the problem, but instead of that, they put more problem. Such a stupid thing to do. We hope this incident will end in a short time, because we are afraid of our families. How can we study well if this thing keeps on going? And this is really unfair to CHINESE. Why didn't they just focus on their people (natives), instead of us as CHINESE? (I mean, by burning their own shops and houses, and killing their own friends, the NATIVES).
I wish they could think better. I hope GOD will forgive them. We hope that Suharto will do better in governing this country. We will pray for that. And we also hope that it is useless to blame Suharto for not governing the country well. Thank You. Please pray for Indonesia, everybody. Hope that thing will getting better, and no more people, especially CHINESE will get hurt.