Viral: Surabaya neighborhood charges racist ‘non-pribumi’ taxes for residents and businesses

A circular detailing community taxes for “non-native” Indonesians in Surabaya. Photo: Twitter
A circular detailing community taxes for “non-native” Indonesians in Surabaya. Photo: Twitter

An unapologetically racist community tax policy in Surabaya, East Java is triggering outrage in Indonesia due to its disturbingly discriminatory nature.

Photo of a circular signed by a community unit (RW), which oversees neighborhoods units (RT) in Bangkingan district in the second largest Indonesian city, has gone viral today. The circular contains over a dozen points agreed upon by neighborhood officials in a meeting on Jan. 12.

The first point spells out that non-pribumi residents wishing to build a house in the area must pay IDR500K (US$36.61) in tax each to the RW and RT. Likewise, non-pribumi people who want to move in to live in the area must pay IDR1 million each to the RW and RT, while they must pay up to IDR5 million if they want to set up a small business. Existing businesses owned by non-pribumi are subject to a IDR100K monthly tax, while street food sellers who are non-pribumi must contribute IDR50K to the RW’s coffers monthly.

Pribumi is a term used to loosely describe “native” Indonesian citizens. It has gained popularity among proponents of identity politics in recent years, leading to racial divisions in Indonesia despite the country’s constitutional commitment to celebrate racial diversity.

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The circular made no mention of racially-based taxes for the so-called pribumi of the neighborhood.

The Surabaya city administration has yet to issue a statement on the racist tax policy, but its official Twitter account, @SapawargaSBY has been replying to an onslaught of complaints from netizens all day. 

Initially, @SapawargaSBY’s replied to many of the complaints by saying that the administration could not revoke the RW’s policy, as it was the result of community consensus. However, the account changed its tone of its replies this afternoon, saying that they will “coordinate” with the RW officials and “evaluate” the policy soon.


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