Feb 24, 2020 Last Updated 11:37 PM, Feb 23, 2020

In this issue

Published: Sep 22, 2007

Swimming against the tide

Activists are impatient, hopeful people. When everyone else sees little change or worse, ruin and destruction, they tend to see the outlines of utopia. Without their vision of a better, more compassionate tomorrow, nothing ever does change. The image of individuals and small groups who courageously swim against the tide is pretty strong in this edition of Inside Indonesia.

The tide for this great country, it seems, is running in a direction few people actually seem to want. Anne Booth examines the growing dissatisfaction in the resource-rich regions and wonders whether Indonesia as we know it might even break up. She hopes that a new government anxious to avoid a worse disaster will work hard to reduce the heavy hand of Jakarta. Anders Uhlin compares Indonesia with post-Soviet Russia and comes to the disturbing conclusion that Indonesia may be even less likely to democratise than mafia-soaked Russia.

Whatever the truth of Anders Uhlin’s dark scenario, it is important not to imagine Indonesians as powerless victims swept along on a tide that has already determined their fate. Lea Jellinek and Anton Lucas in their articles here describe an inventiveness among ordinary Indonesians that does not take a crisis lying down.

James Goodman meets Indonesian activists who, unbeknown to Australians who think East Timor inevitably pits Australians against Indonesians, have been struggling for self-determination in East Timor for years. They’re doing it for the sake of democracy in their own country.

The late Romo Mangun was for many Indonesians, and not only for them, the model swimmer against the tide. Always hopeful, never resigned to the sometimes cruel tide of history - these qualities made him a force for change by example.

The activists we highlight in this edition make demands on us as well. Elizabeth Collins calls on readers in the West to put aside simplistic notions of a clash between Western and Islamic civilisations, and reach out to tens of thousands of displaced Muslims within Indonesia. Fiona Collins and Mia Hoogenboom, cycling around Australia to raise awareness of poverty in Indonesia, show us a determination to do something practical. Andrish Saint-Clare wants us to know about an amazing but under-funded experiment in cross-cultural drama, bridging Arnhem Land with Sulawesi. Ahmad Sofian tells us about his centre’s work on behalf of girls lured into a completely unregulated sex industry in Sumatra.

We salute and thank these ever hopeful activists, as well as those others named and unnamed who made this edition what it is.

Gerry van Klinken

Latest Articles

Natural farming in Yogyakarta

Feb 19, 2020 - DIMAS DWI LAKSMANA, WARDHA ANDRIYUNI & FUAD LANGGARA

/ Oktavianus Kurniadi Prasetyo

A new movement connects with nature and tradition to foster independent, environmentally aware farmers

Small island life

Jan 16, 2020 - MOHAMAD RACHMADIAN NAROTAMA

Javanese-born transmigration farmers cross from Ranai Island to Sedanau Island to sell vegetables on a daily basis / Narotma, 2017

Remote island communities are fighting for greater autonomy and more suitable, fair development

Lost Lasem

Jan 07, 2020 - VANIA DJUNAIDI

Tiongkok Kecil Heritage Lasem – Jl. Karangturi / Author

Photo essay

Pious bikies

Dec 19, 2019 - WASISTO RAHARJO JATI

Members circulate invitations through social media such as WhatsApp and Telegram/ Bikers Subuhan Jogja Facebook Group

Yogyakarta’s Dawn Prayer Bikers are converting an outlaw tradition into a prayer ritual

Fiction: Pasung

Nov 22, 2019 - MAYESTICA DE JONG

/ Andrea Star Reese for Human Rights Watch

  His gaze is fixated on an indeterminate spot behind me, his arms hang loosely by his sides. Wearing nothing but a pair of faded black shorts, his ribs and collar...

Subscribe to Inside Indonesia

Receive Inside Indonesia's latest articles and quarterly editions in your inbox.

 


Lontar Modern Indonesia

Lontar-Logo-Ok

 

A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar