May 20, 2024 Last Updated 3:18 AM, May 20, 2024

Favourite Inside Indonesia covers

Published: Dec 07, 2023

In 1983 Pat Walsh and John Waddingham co-founded Inside Indonesia. It was published as a printed magazine for 89 editions from November 1983 to April 2007. 40 years on, Pat shares some of his favourite covers, both front and back.

No. 6 December 1985  The black and white cover displayed a detail from an election poster in Solo, 1982. The poster showed Suharto, arms folded, standing calmly in the prow of a boat being rowed past rocks in a huge storm. The clever poster evoked both Chairman Mao, the great helmsman, and Jesus reassuring his petrified followers not to panic in a storm. It was also our first and only ever wrap-around cover.

No. 6 December 1985

The black and white cover displayed a detail from an election poster in Solo, 1982. The poster showed Suharto, arms folded, standing calmly in the prow of a boat being rowed past rocks in a huge storm. The clever poster evoked both Chairman Mao, the great helmsman, and Jesus reassuring his petrified followers not to panic in a storm. It was also our first and only ever wrap-around cover. 

No. 25 December 1990

The cover featured a colour photo of Robert Domm and Xanana Gusmao meeting in September 1990 in Xanana’s mountain hideout in Indonesian-occupied East Timor. Our editorial rightly said ‘It was a most improbable meeting’. Ten years later Gusmao was leader of independent East Timor. The edition also provided the text of the Domm-Gusmao interview. 

No. 36 September 1993

To mark its 10th anniversary, the magazine used a striking, close up and fine-grained black and white photo of an aging woman in Lombok on its cover. Taken by Sandy Scheltema of The Age, the photo was part of an exhibition and promotion of the magazine held at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Fitzroy. 

No. 56 October-December 1998

The cover showed a striking colour photo of an Indonesian woman praying amidst the 1998 economic and political crisis that ended when Suharto resigned on 21 May, which also put an end to his three decades of authoritarian/military rule. In contrast with its 1985 cover, the edition included a cartoon of Suharto’s ship sinking. But rather than self-congratulate, say ‘job well done’ and shut down, the magazine ran an editorial looking forward to, and already celebrating, the first democratic elections in Indonesia in 44 years. The edition also marked Inside Indonesia's 15th anniversary.

No. 61 January-March 2000

In a rare departure from its use of a photo, the magazine placed a cartoon on its front cover, a drawing of Gus Dur kicking a soccer ball. Abdurrahman Wahid had been President since the previous October. Gus Dur shattered all the stereotypes of a Muslim cleric. He loved soccer, was deeply committed to democracy and universal human rights, active in civil society, funny, and known to many of us personally. The editorial said that as a new millennium kicked off, he offered a glimpse of lifted hopes.

No. 70 June 2000

Using a delightful sketch by Tim Lindsey, the cover celebrated Herb Feith, one of Australia’s most famous Indonesianists, and a friend and donor to the magazine from its inception. Inside, the edition described Professor Feith as a ‘remarkable pioneer of friendship with Indonesia’. He epitomised the magazine’s vibe which was, in its words, ‘to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between the peoples of Indonesia and Australia’. Herb Feith’s public association with the magazine also helped other Australian Indonesianists to identify with the magazine and write for it. 

No. 88 October-December 2006

The cover featured Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who had died on 30 April 2006. Like all those institutions across the world who acknowledged Pram’s writings, the magazine celebrated both his work and his criticisms of corruption and abuse of power by each of the regimes under which he had lived and which led to his political imprisonment. The edition is a collector’s item. It carried a valued series of articles on Indonesia’s greatest author. The magazine also had a special link with Pram. Max Lane, translator of Pram’s Buru Quartet, was its founding editor. 

The edition also struck a bung note. It contained a reader survey saying that ‘we [at the magazine] have to seriously consider the future of Inside Indonesia’. It was the penultimate print edition of the magazine.

Back 

As back covers, like back lanes, rarely get any attention, I have also taken the liberty of selecting my favourite back cover ads for subs to the magazine. About 16 were run over four years. They were supposed to show that the mag was widely read in and outside Indonesia, a somewhat spurious claim. I’m not sure how many subs they generated, but they did serve to end otherwise very serious editions on a light touch. They still make me laugh. Note that the magazine also had some well-known public backers. They included Bill Dalton and David Jenkins.

No. 35 June 1993

Bored London bobby on duty at Buckingham Palace and happy to be distracted. Kirsty Sword took the photo. 

No. 44 September 1995

Me posing overseas somewhere, Geneva, I think. The poster shows 1995 was the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a set of principles the magazine both promoted and tried to comply with. If you look hard, the photographer can be seen reflected in the glass.

No 47 July-September 1996

Indonesian women laughing at their inability to work out which way to hold the magazine. Photographer unknown. 

Pat Walsh (padiwalsh@gmail.com) helped found Inside Indonesia in 1983 and has been close to it ever since. His personal reflection at the magazine’s 25th anniversary in 2007 remains relevant and has been re-published in the present edition. Back issues are archived at https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-88227234

Inside Indonesia 154: Oct-Dec 2023

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