If you are visiting the famous Bogor Botanical Garden, the main tourism destination in the Rain City, and entering through the main gate or Gate number I, and you glance to a road right in front of it, you will see a structure in red resembling a gate. You may feel that you are entering a Chinatown.
Yes, red is always a symbol that is attached to the ethnic.
And, you are not wrong.
If you go through the structure, then you may meet with many people with yellow skin and narrow eyes, Chinese people. You are in Suryakencana street, Bogor’s Chinatown.
The structure itself is called the Gate of Suryakencana, or in Indonesian, Lawang Suryakencana. The setup was inaugurated in 2016 and costed more than 3 billion rupiahs.
The gate is not something to separate the ethnic from local people. In fact, the Bogor government establish the gate as the symbol of Bogorians’ acceptance that the Chinese ethnic is a part of Bogor.
Chinese people was known to have resided in the city since 17th century. Most of their ancestor were the ones who flied from Batavia, now known as Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia when Chinese massacre took place in the city.
Based on the Dutch politics at the century, the settlement of people was based on their ethnic and the Chinese people was ordered to live near the area of Suryakencana street.
The decision to develop the gate was also based to the fact that Chinese ethnic had been the object of discrimination when the New Order regime ruled Indonesia. They were considered to be responsible for the communist movement and since then, Chinese people were considered as the 2nd class citizen, not only in Bogor but also in Indonesia.
The situation changed after the fall of New Order regime in 1998. Chinese ethnic has been given more chance to show themselves in front of public. Other people also more welcome to this and the discrimination gradually go away from the life of Indonesian.
And, the Gate of Suryakencana was born as the symbol that Chinese people, who is called Tionghoa in Indonesian, is not outsiders. It shows the acceptance that Bogor has one part that has different race characteristic compared to the majority. The gate symbolizes this.
That’s why the Gate of Suryakencana was developed adopting many characteristics of Chinese culture, not only the architectural signatures but also the color.
When you come near to the gate, you will find two “guardians” of the gate, the Lions that is also one of important symbol in Chinese culture. One is male and the other is female.
And, that is the meaning of the Gate of Suryakencana. A simple gate but has a lot of meaning inside, at least for us, Bogorians. With this gate, we acknowledge that parts of us have narrow eyes and yellow skin, and sometimes they speak Mandarin/Chinese.