I ran to the rooftop of my office building and stunned... I saw smokes everywhere and thousands of people were on the street chanting something I couldn't hear properly. The mob looked angry and they were marching towards my office.
I ran quickly and asked the HR department to make a loud announcement, asking everyone to leave the office as soon as possible. My handphone rang and I could hear my boss's voice, "Please bring all our Chinese staffs with you and hide. I heard they are attacking Chinese and non-muslims. I am stuck near Tanah Abang and my car couldn't even move. Please be safe."
I walked out quickly from the building with my colleagues. We couldn't drive our cars out of the office garage as the street was jammed badly. We didn't know where to go but we just walked to avoid the incoming mob. A colleague from the IT department suggested us to walk towards a hotel. I didn't know his reason but nobody had any idea where to go, so we just followed him.
We managed to seek refuge at the nearby Pan Pacific Hotel at Jalan Thamrin. Somehow we felt that hotel was safe. The hotel had more than 20 security guards manning the lobby and the entrances. We saw so many foreign reporters and a lot of people like us, sitting on the floor with blank faces, trying to believe that they were dreaming.
For a few days after that I lived in fear.
For a few weeks after that I lived to listen to horror stories of assaults, rapes and murders.
For a few months after that I lived trying to understand what has happened to my country.
It's been 15 years since that tragedy took place but I can still remember everything vividly.
Today marks the 15 year anniversary of the dark day in Indonesian history that many tried to ignore and forget. But Chinese Indonesians who lived in Jakarta, Bandung and Solo on 13-15 May 1998 will never forget their experiences. Hundreds of churches were burnt, hundreds of banks were robbed, thousands of shops were looted, thousands of Chinese were assaulted, hundreds of Chinese women were raped and murdered.
Fifteen years on.... nobody has been charged, nobody has been punished and nobody has bothered to investigate who is the person behind the "movement". It stays like an open wound that was left untreated until it heals by itself, leaving a huge scary scar. While the wound is healed, the scar will always be there to remind us of that tragic 3 days.
So many theories sprouted. Some said it's the works of Suharto's son-in-law, General Prabowo, to topple him. Some said it's the works of CIA to destabilize Southeast Asia. Some said it's the student movements to end Suharto's presidency. Some said that the Muslims want to wipe out all the Christians from Indonesia. Some even said it's the works of George Soros to gain profit from the stumbling stock market.
Nobody knows which theory is true but I can attest that the tragedy happens because our people were easily divided and provoked to fight each other. The best war strategy is to "divide and conquer" or de-vide-et-impera. The strategy worked well when the Dutch colonized Indonesia for 350 years in the 1700's and I believe it still works well now too.
The strategy of "divide and conquer" is used not only to break a country apart but also to break friendship, family relationship and business relationship.
I saw this strategy being used far too often... I saw it during the last General Election of Malaysia. Certain politicians made some provocations to make the Malays hate the Chinese, make the Chinese hate the Indians and make the Indians hate the Malays.
I saw "de-vide-et-impera" at work and I hated it. It reminded me of the 1998 tragedy.
Fortunately there are a lot of Malaysians who can think with their head instead of their crazy irrational emotions. They choose to unite instead of divided.
The last Malaysian GE reminded me again on the importance of Unity.
Indonesia will have its election next year. I wish the people will be strong and not easily provoked to hate each other. This sad anniversary of 13 May 1998 should remind all of us not to believe everything we read and hear easily, not to be influenced and provoked to hate certain races blindly...
I wish for a society who can think before believing, who will think before speaking, and who will think before writing anything on FB wall..
I would like to take a moment of silence to remember the thousands of daughters and sons of Indonesia who suffered, traumatized, handicapped and died without justice....
My prayer is with them... may God bless their souls...
"When there is no enemy within....
......the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” Winston Churchill