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Unformatted text preview: ch opened its ?mega-church?, capable of seating 8000 people, in Kemayoran. The construction of the Messiah Cathedral was backed by money from Chinese Indonesian investors and led by the church founder Pastor Stephen Tong. A similar church led by Ambonese pastor Reverend Yacob Nahuway being built in Kelapa Gading will seat up to 10,000 worshippers. Whilst both have received permits, largely due to taking the precaution of building in commercial and Christian areas, others are proceeding without them. Though it is too soon to judge how these ?mega-churches? will be accepted and what their role within inter-religious relations will be, sensitivities remain. In processing his permit Jakarta authorities had asked that Pastor Tong forego the cross on the steeple. The minister rejected this recommendation saying the cross was the most important symbol of a Christian church. In contrast to the boldness of these congregations in Jakarta, many Chinese Indonesians remain uncomfortable with conspicuous displays of their religious practice, all too aware of the recent history of violence. Identity politics and minority representation Many observers have praised the success of Indonesia?s shift to regional autonomy. Some have noted that Indonesian voters in local elections have almost invariably rejected candidates representing extremist or ethnically exclusive views. At the same time however, commentators from inside and outside Indonesia also note the rise in identity politics in the regions, including in the revival of adat (tradition or custom) and ethnically-based claims to leadership. Regional autonomy has encouraged and enabled reinvigoration of local ethnicities and cultures, most often elevating one dominant identity or culture over the other. At the level of regional and district government moves towards ?moral legislation? or ?moral policing? in the form of by-laws regulating dress and other behaviours has been prominent for some time, and arguably has the most impact on minority groups. Most Chinese Indonesians remain disinclined to actively participate in politics and are unconvinced that there is a political role for ethnic Chinese as a group Where does this type of politics leave Chinese Indonesians and their access to and share of political power? Most Chinese Indonesians remain disinclined to actively participate in politics and are unconvinced that there is a political role for ethnic Chinese as a group. However, experiences so far in several regions suggest that ethnic Chinese individuals may have as much chance as any other aspiring politicians. In recent years ethnic Chinese candidates running in local contests on issue-based tickets and backed by broad-based parties were elected district heads in East Belitung and Singkawang, where the deputy governor is also of ethnic Chinese descent. These examples are, however, rare and in the latter case involve a district with a quite large Chinese population relative to other ethnic groups. It may be that the implication of Chinese Indonesians? unwillingness to participate in local politics will mean they will continue to...
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This note was uploaded on 10/06/2009 for the course HIST 131405 taught by Professor Kate during the One '09 term at University of Melbourne.

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