Visions of anarchy may abound in today's Indonesia, but for the Chinese community in the country's second largest city, Surabaya, life under President Abdurrahman Wahid is a big improvement. 'The situation is much better now compared to the New Order era,' said Bingky Irawan, head of the Indonesian Confucian Association in the capital of East Java. 'The Chinese community has freedoms it did not have before. Under President Wahid there is no discrimination against the Chinese. 'The stark contrast between Wahid and the past is that he gives us the opportunity to celebrate our New Year and is the first person in this country to send greetings for that.' The religious leader said demonstrations now were focused and controlled, with little rioting. Surabaya's main shopping streets were closed during last week's mass protests in support of Mr Wahid, but Chinese shopkeepers gathered outside to watch and wave at the passing parade. Mr Wahid faces strong parliamentary pressure to resign. Former allies and reformist intellectuals say his confrontational style might ensure his own survival, but it would be less costly to the nation if he quit. Mr Bingky and his friends in the Chinese community, however, see the political drama as a vendetta against a man who remains the country's best hope, despite the corruption allegations against him. Media reports make the country look unstable, when it is not, according to Mr Bingky and his friends. 'We are merchants and smallholders, we are not the big conglomerates, and we say 'don't be afraid',' he said. Far from fearing political upheaval, they say they can adapt to the changing times. The conflicts racking the country did not represent the whole of Indonesia and people were sophisticated enough to see how the political elites were trying to manipulate the masses for selfish ends. 'The Chinese community is very disappointed to see members of the DPR [the House of Representatives] talking in the name of the people. But which people? In the DPR they say they represent the people, but they don't. The reality is the opposite, and Wahid's support is still very big,' Mr Bingky said. They admit the trauma of the anti-Chinese riots that accompanied Suharto's fall in 1998 remains fresh. And even now, with many discriminatory regulations abolished, they lament that they cannot register their Confucian weddings and that their identity cards still list them as Muslim. 'But we believe 1998 won't happen again because we are in constant meetings with other religious leaders - Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist,' Mr Bingky said. 'We talk of everything frankly. We often have dialogues with the Nahdlatul Ulama [Mr Wahid's 30-million strong Muslim organisation], including why in the past we had such gaps between us. What the Chinese community wants is not just a guarantee of security. We want to make a contribution to the whole nation.' He blamed the battle over Mr Wahid's fitness to rule on remnants of the Suharto era. As Chinese, his group believes it is only fitting that the vast Chinese-owned conglomerates that got rich in alliance with Suharto face hard times today. Asked what their crimes were, the men agreed the conglomerates were guilty of corruption and nepotism. 'Members of the Chinese community themselves do not like the bad conglomerates and I believe the big firms will change their attitudes,' Mr Bingky said. The men regret that much of the contribution made by Chinese to modern Indonesia has been forgotten. Matali, a vegetable farmer from the East Javanese town of Malang, said his mother's family had been in Indonesia for eight generations. His grandfather had come from Fukien province as a contract labourer to help build the railway line from Lampung to Palembang in southern Sumatra. 'So you see we have spilled our blood and our sweat for our country,' Mr Matali said.