The Indonesian Constitution of 1945 would seem to support an argument that any Indonesian citizen born in this country, Indonesia, has a right to become its president. The Indonesian term is "orang asli" which loosely would translation to original person, and herein lies the problem. Does the term refer exclusively to indigenous Indonesians or does it also include the important and vibrant communities that trace their respective ancestries through to China, India, and the lands of the Middle East? Even more interestingly is does it include Indonesians who trace their ancestries to European roots who were born and raised in Indonesia from birth?
There has traditionally been a feeling that the highest office in the land was only opened to pribumi or indigenous Indonesians. My problem with this is that Indonesia is a socio-political construct and as such who is indigenous in this sense? Some have even gone as far as to say that one must be Javanese to gain the highest office. Unfortunately, for those that believe this, Soeharto chose one B.J. Habibie to be his Vice President. When Soeharto stepped down and Habibie became President these arguments were no longer valid. Habibie was was not Javanese.
The point of posting is not to write a 50-page tome on the merits or lack thereof of race-based politics. I can publish that research in a journal if it is good enough! Rather my intent here is in light of recent violence between religious followers and between ethnicities within Indonesia, perhaps an evaluation of race relations and politics is warranted.
I feel that Indonesia must sooner or later stand up and stare down those who flame the tensions simmering within Indonesian communities. This stand has to be one for tolerance, acceptance, and unity.
Many will argue that Indonesia is about being diverse but unified (or as some claim fragmented but one) yet this is hardly played out in real life. There must be a time where Indonesians identify not as pribumi and non-pribumi, or as Arab Indonesians, or Indian Indonesians, or Chinese Indonesians, but rather as "Indonesians". Maybe there is a need to return to a more literal understanding of the ideology of Pancasila (Five Principles).
After more than 60 years of independence Indonesia is still squabbling about race, about religion, and about tolerance! The founding fathers and mothers of this nation are undoubtedly rolling in their graves!