If on Chinese New Year this year (January 22, 2023), it’s going to be an uproar. And ethnic Chinese can express their identity, as well as their customs and culture, who is responsible?

Of course all of us agree: Abdurrahman Wahid, a person who was familiarly called “Gus Dur”.

Yes, without that simple figure, a good-natured humorist, surely the ethnic Chinese in the country of Panacila would not be what they are today.

For that, let us bow our heads. Remember for a moment Gus Dur, the father of multiculturalism in Indonesia.


I really admire this figure of ours because he was the one who broke equality and opened the Pandora’s box of ethnic barriers in our country. Why not! Abdurrahman Wahid who opened the faucet for the growth and development of the basic concept of “Unity in Diversity” which for 32 years has often been spoofed with “Bhineka Tunggal Ika”, by uniformity in many aspects of national and state life politically so that it is easy to regulate and control. 

However, my point is on the side of Gus Dur’s pioneering and concrete actions towards pluralism which is the essence of our nation’s soul. I think, there are not many national leaders like him. Those who understand correctly and really learn from history about the process of forming the Indonesian nation-state. 

Gus Dur’s words, thoughts and actions were correct and consistent. Honestly, he is a source of inspiration and a model for me on how to model human development in  I believe that all religions teach truth and goodness. 

So, let us stick to our own beliefs and paths of truth. If we know the goal we want to achieve, then whatever path we take, the goal will be achieved. That way, we cannot claim that our path is the most correct. 

In good and true ways, I am reminded a wise person. He said, “If you’re sure it’s good, do it, don’t delay!”  Gus Dur’s attitude and actions in giving space and the right to life to all ethnic groups and nations in Indonesia really inspired and motivated me. 

The atmosphere and expression of Chinese New Year in the complex where I live in Tangerang, Banten.

Therefore, no exaggeration, I idolize Gus Dur too. However, my idol figures; I idolize not all dimensions. I like the combinations of their respective advantages. 

The fact that we felt during the New Order, there was almost no room for expression for all ethnic groups and nations in this country. There are certain ethnic groups who secretly do not dare to show their ethnic identity. One of them is ethnic Chinese.  

In the book Jika Rakyat Berkuasa: Upaya Membangun Masyarakat Madani dalam Kultur Feodal (If the People Rule: Efforts to Build Civil Society in a Feudal Culture ,1999: 221-318) Gus Dur offers a typical Indonesian model of democracy development.

To that end, he proposed regional autonomy, revitalizing the role of ABRI, empowering the DPR/MPR, and having a balanced reciprocal relationship between the central and regional governments. That is the benchmark, is Indonesia a democracy or not?