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The Chinese in Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia

1 June 1972

In the first edition of this Report, an appeal was made for the governments of the three countries to welcome at least the local[1]boom Chinese as citizens. It was argued that although adoption of the iussoli principle alone would not solve all the problems, it was a necessary first step. In the present edition, it has been seen that the liberalization of access to citizenship for the Chinese in the Philippines and Indonesia has gone some distance toward bringing them into line with Malaysia, thereby reducing the size of their alien minorities. Although this process could (and may well) go much further, the central issue in all three countries is increasingly similar the extent to which their governments discriminate between those of their citizens who are of Chinese descent and those who are not.

The goals of national policy in the three countries are frequently contradictory and inconsistent. On the other hand, a desire for a rapid economic development which can help to alleviate poverty suggests that the governments should make the best use possible of Chinese resources, both of skill and of capital, with their established network of relationships with Chinese elsewhere in the region, including those in Singapore. Although this is consistent with a growing regional integration among the ASEAN countries, it is inconsistent with separate economic nationalism in those countries. It also conflicts with the desire of governments to provide special opportunities for indigenous people to share in the benefits of economic growth. On the other hand, where they make special provision for access of the indigenous population to certain areas of the economy and educational institutions (or restrict the access of Chinese to them to bring about the same result) they depart from the principles of non-discrimination among citizens regardless of race or ethnic origin to which they claim to adhere. Discriminatory policies, however benign in intent, make it necessary to classify citizens in separate groups and this in turn conflicts with the goal of achieving national unity.

Please note that the terminology in the fields of minority rights and indigenous peoples’ rights has changed over time. MRG strives to reflect these changes as well as respect the right to self-identification on the part of minorities and indigenous peoples. At the same time, after over 50 years’ work, we know that our archive is of considerable interest to activists and researchers. Therefore, we make available as much of our back catalogue as possible, while being aware that the language used may not reflect current thinking on these issues.

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Hugh Mabbett

Ping-Ching Mabbett

Charles Coppel