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‘I actually don't have Indonesian blood whatsoever’: Agnez Mo’s statement sparks controversy

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, November 26, 2019  /  05:35 pm

Singer Agnez Mo has sparked controversy for saying that she doesn’t have Indonesian blood during an interview with Build Series by Yahoo.

Posted on Nov. 22, the video discusses Agnez’s music, including her latest single “Diamonds”.

However, some parts of the video have angered Indonesian netizens as Agnez told host Kevan Kenny, “I actually don’t have Indonesian blood whatsoever. So, I’m actually German, Japanese and Chinese, I was just born in Indonesia and I’m also Christian, [but] the majority [of people] there are Muslim.

“So, I’ve always been kind of, I’m not going to say that I felt like I don’t belong there because I always felt like the people accepted me for who I was, but there’s always that sense of, I’m not like everybody.”

Responding to the statement, some Twitter users accused Agnez of disregarding the Youth Pledge, the acknowledgment of Indonesia as one motherland, one nation and one language.

“Agnez Mo [is] forgetting that we have the Youth Pledge," tweeted @pegiatsendu.

Meanwhile, @permadiaktivis said, “Your statement has betrayed your fellow Indonesians of Chinese descents who still fight to be equal,” he said.

Read also: Agnez Mo accused of cultural appropriation over hairstyle

Other Twitter users, however, said they could understand Agnez’s statement.

Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman said she was frequently asked why she did not look Indonesian during international events, to which she replies, “I’m Indonesian from an ethnic minority.”

Defending Agnez, she added that “there is a feeling that is hard to describe when you’re a minority in this country”.

Chinese-Indonesian poet and essayist Theodora Sarah Abigail echoed her sentiments by tweeting, “You can’t make ethnic Chinese people fear for their lives and then get mad at them when they say they feel unwelcome in Indonesia. It’s a result of your action and words.”

Indonesian set designer Teddy Setiawan also conceded that he could relate to Agnez’s statement.

"When you’re an Indonesian of Chinese descent, you are teased for being Chinese when you’re just a mediocre, but when you’ve achieved something, people will say that you’re Indonesian.”

Following the controversy, Agnez posted a different part of the video on her Instagram account. The snippet shows her explaining the country's culturally inclusive environment.

"I grew up in such a diverse culture; a culture [of] inclusivity is what I stand for. Bhinneka Tunggal Ika means Unity in Diversity. I love it when I can share something about my roots and my country. I will always be honest and testify to the world how a minority like me was given a chance to have dreams and pursue our dreams. My heart is full," she wrote in the caption.

This is not the first time Agnez has stirred controversy. In July, she was accused of cultural appropriation after posting an Instagram photo of herself in cornrows while wearing a cream-colored one-piece bodysuit and a combination of traditional and modern accessories. She explained in the caption that she and the other two women in the picture were wearing one of the many Indonesian traditional outfits from Papua. (jes/kes)

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Editor's note:

The title and the eleventh paragraph of this article have been corrected. 

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