Lion dance & Dragon dance performances by Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) at Jakarta's China Town (Petak Sembilan, Glodok) during the end of Chinese New Year's Festival #CapGomehGlodok2018 ❤️🇮🇩
Video courtesy of @ezkisuyanto pic.twitter.com/xM7fBqgm6e
— Christine S.Tjhin陈姝伶 (@cataya) March 5, 2018
There are so many remarkable things about this video when viewed in the context of what was happening in Jakarta just twenty years ago.
- Back then, the military (TNI, Tentara Nasional Indonesia) was known as ABRI (Angakatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia [= Armed Forces of the Republic of Indonesia]), and blended both military and the police.
- Back then, the lion dance, like any other visible expression of Chinese culture from Chinese writing to Confucianism, was strictly illegal.
- In May 1998, Glodok burned during the anti-Chinese riots that preceded by just a week the resignation of Soeharto.
The idea that members of the Indonesian military would participate in a lion/dragon dance in Glodok to commemorate the end of Chinese New Year would have been simply unthinkable just twenty years ago.
In a time of rising concern about identity politics—both religious and racial in nature—in Jakarta and in Indonesia more broadly, it is helpful to remember the real victories that Indonesian democratization brought.