Aug 10, 2020 Last Updated 3:42 AM, Aug 7, 2020

In this issue

Published: Sep 11, 2007


Gerry van Klinken

With less than half of the population, the thousands of islands that lie outside Java make up 93% of the archipelago's land area. The colonial Dutch already knew that things are different in the 'outer islands'. Thinly populated, the area is quite unlike the intensively cultivated and now increasingly industrialised island of Java. In parts, the economy is extractive. All the mines, forests and giant plantations are there. Elsewhere it is impoverished - 'nothing but rocks', as President Habibie said about East Timor. The outer islands retain a frontier atmosphere first created by the Dutch. As in America's Wild West, tycoons and gun-slinging thugs play fast and loose with the natives and the bush.

The June 7 election result tends to confirm this image of the colonial frontier. Golkar got thrashed all around the archipelago, but it retained a lot of votes, and even areas of dominance, in the outer island periphery. The map of provinces where Golkar won a majority - from West Kalimantan all the way to Irian Jaya - makes us think the New Order lingers still out there. The election brought an exhilarating renewal to the heartland of Java, as Laine Berman and John Olle point out in this edition. But in Aceh for example, as Vanessa Johanson tells us in a riveting report, it was a failure.

East Timor is not alone. The vast outer islands region confronts us with colonial violence and exploitation in so many places it should make us think more seriously than the Jakarta-obsessed media have done to date. Roger Moody and Kathy Robinson in this edition of Inside Indonesia take us to the nickel mines of Sulawesi. Andrew Kilvert takes us to Irian Jaya, Geoffrey Gunn to East Timor, and Phillip Winn to the remote and beautiful town of Bandaneira. The people who live there are all hoping the renewal Indonesia is experiencing will touch them too. We hope you enjoy the trip!

Gerry van Klinken (editor@insideindonesia.org) is the current editor of Inside Indonesia.

Inside Indonesia 60: Oct-Dec 1999

Latest Articles

A generation of resistance

Jun 26, 2020 - IVO MATEUS GONCALVES

Students demonstrate at Santa Cruz cemetery, 12 November 1991 / Author

East Timor’s student movement and the struggle against oppression

Essay: Celebrating Imlek, Catholic style

Jun 22, 2020 - JOSH STENBERG

/ Josh Stenberg

Practices such as Imlek masses are a welcome example of tolerance and plurality

West Papua and Black Lives Matter

Jun 17, 2020 - SOPHIE CHAO

We are not monkeys / Twitter

A movement seeking justice, healing, and freedom for Black people has become a powerful rallying call for Indigenous West Papuans

Artists seek assistance

Jun 14, 2020 - RAHMADI FAJAR HIMAWAN

Several pesinden accompanying a wayang performance / Rahmadi Fajar Himawan

Javanese traditional musicians are among the many artists and performers struggling to survive, or qualify for government payments under COVID restrictions

A house of cards?

Jun 02, 2020 - YULIDA PANGASTUTI

ANTARA FOTO/Saiful Bahri/wsj

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the exploitation of non-formal early childhood educators 

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