Chinese Indonesian surname

Many ethnic Chinese people have lived in Indonesia for many centuries. Over time, especially under social and political pressure during the New Order era, most Chinese Indonesians have adopted names that better match the local language.[1][2][3]

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During the Dutch colonial era, the Dutch administration recorded Chinese names in birth certificates and other legal documents using an adopted spelling convention that was based primarily on the Hokkien (Southern Min), the language of the majority of Chinese immigrants in the Dutch East Indies. The administrators used the closest Dutch pronunciation and spelling of Hokkien words to record the names. A similar thing happened in Malaya, where the British administrators record the names using English spelling. (For instance, compare Lim (English) vs. Liem (Dutch), Wee or Ooi (English) vs. Oei or Oey (Dutch), Goh (English) vs. Go (Dutch), Chan (English) vs. Tjan (Dutch), Lee (English) vs. Lie (Dutch), Leong (English) vs Liong (Dutch).)[1] Hence, Lin (林, Mandarin) is spelled Liem in Indonesia. Chen (陳) is Tan, Huang (黃) is Oei or Oey, Wu (吳) is Go, Wei (魏) is Goei or Ngoei, Guo (郭) is Kwee, Yang (楊) is Njoo, and so on.

Further, as Hokkien romanization standard did not exist then, some romanized names varied slightly. For example, 郭 (Guo) could sometimes be Kwik, Que or Kwek instead of Kwee and Huang is often Oei instead of Oey.

The spelling convention survived through the Japanese occupation (1942–1945) well into Indonesian independence (1945) and sovereignty acknowledgment by the Dutch government (1949). Since the independent Indonesian government inherited the Dutch legal system, it also survived until 1965 in the Sukarno era.

The Indonesian government later began changing Indonesian spelling to harmonize it with the spelling used for Malay in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, first under the Ejaan Suwandi introduced in 1947, and again under the Ejaan Yang Disempurnakan, literally “Perfected Spelling”, adopted in 1972. Under the Suwandi system of spelling, “oe”, influenced by Dutch, became “u”, influenced by English; for example, Loe was spelled as Lu. Since 1972, Dutch-style “j” became “y”, meaning Njoo is now spelled Nyoo.

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