The economic cost of Ethnic Cleansing

Henry C.K. Liu hliu at
Wed Apr 14 22:43:40 PDT 1999

Chinese Indonesian capital flight hits US$80b, says report

Estimated 25,000 entrepreneurs expected to leave ahead of June polls


Ethnic Chinese have shifted some US$80 billion (S$135.8 billion) out of Indonesia and 25,000 entrepreneurs and their families are expected to leave ahead of June's general election, Media Indonesia reported yesterday. Quoting business sources including Investment Minister Hamzah Haz, the daily newspaper said the capital flight had been going on for a long time. It did not specify the precise timeframe in which it had occurred.

"With the increase in the country's risk in the run-up to the elections, the capital flight out of the country may further increase," one business source was quoted as saying.

A member of the ruling Golkar party, Enggartiasto Lukita, said ethnic Chinese -- the country's most economically successful ethnic minority -- were leaving as they felt the laws still discriminated against them and were worried about the political environment.

"They are worried about the political environment and the high risk of looting as well as losses from the legal treatment by the apparatus," he said.

The report said there was also an increase in the moving of Chinese Indonesian companies' headquarters out of the country, and their main choices of destination were Singapore, Hongkong and Australia.

Mr Hamzah was quoted as saying he had heard that some 25,000 entrepreneurs and their families would leave the country ahead of the general election in anticipation of the possibility of riots.

"When each person spends about US$20,000 a month, the total amount of funds spent will be US$500 million," Mr Hamzah was quoted as saying. "It would be better if that spending money was used to move Indonesia's economy."

Chinese Indonesians were targets of mob violence during bloody May riots last year which killed at least 1,200 people in Jakarta. A government-appointed fact-finding team said at least 52 women, mostly of Chinese descent, were raped.

Indonesia has been hit by waves of unrest throughout the vast archipelago as it faces its worst economic crisis in 30 years. -- Reuters

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