Siti Nurbaya Bridgeoleh May Swan
The first large scale Asian-African Conference known as the Bandung Conference was held in Bandung Indonesia in 1955. It was a meeting to promote economic and cultural cooperation among the newly independent Asian and African states to oppose colonialism and neo-colonialism by any nations. It formed the first step and an embryo of the worldwide Non Aligned Movement in the midst of the Cold War.
The international conference held a bitter sweet memory for Koon Seng, a Singapore man who headed the Lee Rubber Company in Indonesia. He was invited to a school founding anniversary in Jakarta. He accepted the invitation in the hope that Chou En Lay who was in town for the conference would also attend the school event as VIP guest. As fate would have it, the Chinese Prime Minister couldn’t make it, but Koon Seng instead met an attractive lady teacher Swee Lan on the occasion.
Over the time Koon Seng who was thought to be a confirmed bachelor was seriously smitten by her. On the day he wanted to propose to her, he found out to his horror she already accepted the proposal of another man craftily arranged by her mother. Slapped in the face by rejection he went through life struggling to come to terms with the pain of betrayal and deceive.
The story set against the historical and political background revealed the vulnerability of the minority Chinese community in Indonesia; the latent danger that could manifest whenever there was a social and religious incitement provoked by people with political motivation.
Following the fall of the repressive New Order government, political reformation set in. Over the years the position of the Indonesian Chinese had somewhat improved, but at the grass root level antagonistic against ethnic Chinese particularly among the religious fanatics remained dormant.