During the whole 32 years of Suharto’s regime (1966–98), Chinese publications and the use of Chinese language in public were officially banned in Indonesia. As a result, printed matter in Chinese characters that entered Indonesia was classified as ‘prohibited imports’ (Heryanto 1999: 327). This prohibition came to an end after the fall of Suharto, as part of the process of democratization and Reformasi. The post-Suharto era of Reformasi is thus celebrated for the dramatic revival of the freedom of the press and media in Indonesia and many previously banned as well as new publications have emerged since Suharto’s fall. The Chinese press and media joined this florescence and many new Chinese-language daily newspapers and magazines soon appeared. A local Chinese media expert describes this period as ‘the time when a hundred flowers bloom (baihua qifang)’ (Li, Z. H. 2003: 323).
Juxtaposing the Chinese press in the pre-Suharto era with its current scene, it is possible to identify both continuity and discontinuity from the earlier Chinese press. On the one hand, most post-Suharto Chinese presses are operated by media practitioners who worked in this field during the pre-Suharto era. These people belong to an older generation and are mostly over 55 years of age. Their influence on the contemporary Chinese media has manifested itself in a focus on nostalgia and traditional Chinese culture. Notably, the Chinese press has become a ‘space’ for these people, who had been silenced over the three previous decades, to speak out and socialize. However, it is unfortunate that the significance of the differences in experience, education and language background between the older generation of media practitioners and the potential younger generation of readers has resulted in a limited readership among the younger generation.
Mass media, China, Chinese, Chinese, Indonesia, Media and communications, politics, race relations
Asian Studies | Mass Communication | Social Influence and Political Communication
Media and the Chinese Diaspora: Community, Communications and Commerce
City or Country
HOON, Chang Yau. 2006. "A Hundred Flowers Bloom: The Re-emergence of the Chinese Press in Post-Suharto Indonesia." In Media and the Chinese Diaspora: Community, Communications and Commerce, edited by Sun Wanning, 91-118. London: Routledge.
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