Chairman of GNPF-MUI, Bachtiar Nasir, arrives at a police station to testify as a witness in a money laundering case at a police station in Jakarta, Indonesia February 10, 2017 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Reno Esnir/via REUTERS
By Tom Allard and Agustinus Beo Da Costa
JAKARTA (Reuters) – The leader of a powerful Indonesian Islamist organisation that led the push to jail Jakarta’s Christian governor has laid out plans for a new, racially charged campaign targeting economic inequality and foreign investment.
In a rare interview, Bachtiar Nasir said the wealth of Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese minority was a problem and advocated an affirmative action programme for native Indonesians, comments that could stoke tensions already running high in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.
“It seems they do not become more generous, more fair,” the cleric said, referring to Chinese Indonesians, in the interview in an Islamic centre in South Jakarta. “That’s the biggest problem.”
Ethnic Chinese make up less than 5 percent of Indonesia’s population, but they control many of its large conglomerates and much of its wealth.
Nasir also said also that foreign investment, especially investment from China, has not helped Indonesians in general.
Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, is a major destination for foreign investment in the mining and retail sectors. Jakarta is also trying to lure investors for a $450 billion infrastructure drive to revive economic growth.
“Our next job is economic sovereignty, economic inequality,” said Nasir, an influential figure who chairs the National Movement to Safeguard the Fatwas of the Indonesian Ulemas Council (GNPF-MUI). “The state should ensure that it does not sell Indonesia to foreigners, especially China.”
His group organised protests by hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Jakarta late last year over a comment about the Koran made by the capital’s governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic-Chinese Christian.