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A century of decentralisation

Decentralise. Easy to say. Difficult to do. Trevor Buising Few states have had as long an experience of decentralisation as has Indonesia. The Dutch, primarily to increase administrative effectiveness, enacted the first law for decentralisation in 1903. It was the first of several designs. Yet Indonesia today is more centralised than it was a century ago. Many states, in particular developing ones, have attempted to decentralise for a bewildering variety of administrative, political and economic reasons. It is a technically complex policy, especially for developing countries. Yet decentralisation is a political as well as an administrative necessity for Indonesia. However daunting the task, Indonesia is so diverse that it has to decentralise, and sooner rather than later. A recent World Bank study noted that the 'problems associated with decentralisation in developing countries reflect flaws in design and implementation more than any inherent outcome of decentralisation'. Policymakers may not sufficiently understand the specific problems they want to overcome through decentralisation, or they may adopt an ineffective strategy to solve them. Implementation is inherently even more difficult. Policymakers may give the field implementers unclear guidelines. Implementers may lack the required skills and commitment. The policy may lack sufficiently powerful political mentors and organised support to carry it through. Changing circumstances may make the policy redundant, or it may be insufficiently resourced. Much of this has been the case in Indonesia. Flaws in the original design forced the colonial Dutch to revise the 1903 law in 1921. None of the three 1940's decentralisation laws was satisfactory - they did not apply to all of Indonesia, and they were framed during the anti-colonial struggle for independence, when expediency rather than longer-term considerations was the priority. The Dutch were still working towards implementing the amended design when the Japanese invaded in 1942. The independent Republic of Indonesia enacted a replacement for these Dutch attempts in 1957. Law 1/ 1957 came out of lengthy negotiations, only to be rendered inoperative in many of its provisions by Presidential Decree No 6 of 1959. The PRRI-Permesta regional rebellions gave President Sukarno the opportunity to replace constitutional democracy under the 1950 provisional constitution with presidential rule under the 1945 constitution. New Order The New Order tried to decentralise as well. Law 5 of 1974 was potentially an effective general design, negated by a lack of detailed design and implementation. Like the Dutch, the New Order leadership accepted the need for decentralisation if only as a means of enhancing administrative effectiveness, particularly with respect to development and thus its claims to legitimacy through performance. However, Law 5/ 1974 left many details to be finalised in subordinate legislation. This applied in particular to the problem of sectoral decentralisation - that is, the allocation of specific functions in the various fields of government activity to particular levels of government. If the break-up of functions between the various levels of government had been included in Law 5 then many (but not all) of the subsequent problems would have been avoided. Sectoral decentralisation is technically complex. Moreover, many bureaucrats in the affected departments perceived decentralisation as detrimental to their institutional interests. This made determining the details a protracted process. Indeed, if the details had been included in the draft, Law 5 might never have been enacted at all. Thus there may have been good reasons for deferring sectoral decentralisation to supplementary regulations. Still, the longer it took to enact the regulations the more difficult it became to maintain the political will to decentralise in accordance with the original objectives. French decentralisation was on a lesser scale than is being attempted in Indonesia, yet it still took decades, and that by a state with a much greater capacity than that of the often ill-coordinated personal fiefdoms of the Indonesian state. Law 5/ 1974 had an additional problem. One of its aims was to shift the focus of regional autonomy from the provinces to the regencies (kabupaten) and municipalities. This level was closest to the people and thus the most appropriate for administering services. Before 1974, legislation dealt only with transfers of functions from the central government to the provinces. It regarded sectoral decentralisation to the regencies and municipalities as an internal provincial matter. Furthermore, between 1950 and 1974 the number of provinces had grown from 9 to 26, 17 sectors needed to be decentralised, and the legislation was confusing. On top of that, the oil boom allowed New Order sectoral departments to subvert the objectives of decentralisation by coopting the regions with development money. In the early 1990's the New Order, especially under dynamic Interior Minister Rudini, sought to revive the impetus for decentralisation. Regulation 45/ 1992 was designed to push through decentralisation to the regencies and municipalities. All functions except those specified as central or provincial functions could go to the regencies and municipalities. Regulation 8/ 1995 implemented these changes and launched the 'Autonomous Regions Pilot Project'. Activities in 19 sectors were to be transferred to the regencies and municipalities (so-called level 2 regions). Inaugurated with great fanfare, this initiative failed because it was under-resourced. The central government gave selected level 2 regions greater responsibilities but no greater funding to go with them. 'Justice' Last year, the Habibie government brought down Law 22/ 1999 to replace Law 5/ 1974. The new law, it said, would enhance 'democracy, community participation, equitable distribution and justice as well as to take into account the regions' potential and diversity'. Actually it was hardly needed. Law 5/ 1974 could just as well have been implemented to do all this. What was really needed was the supplementary legislation. The changes are not as great as often imagined. Although consideration was given to abolishing them, the provinces have been retained. (There are compelling reasons for retaining them - they bridge the centre and local communities). However, Law 22 is more specific about the role of the regencies and municipalities than was Law 5. They are no longer part of the hierarchy of 'administrative territories' which made them subordinate to the provinces and hence the centre. As with Regulation 45/ 1992, Law 22 states that the regencies and municipalities can assume responsibility for all aspects of government except those reserved for the central and provincial governments. These regions must in any case assume responsibility for a minimum of eleven fields or sectors, a provision similar to that of Regulation 8 of 1995. Law 22 also clearly stipulates that the decentralisation of functions to the regions must include the transfer of the relevant resources - facilities and infrastructure, personnel and funding. Obviously the framers of Law 22 have learned something from the failure of the 'Autonomous Regions Pilot Project'. Yet like Law 5/ 1974, Law 22/ 1999 requires considerable supplementary legislation. With one notable exception little of this legislation has yet been passed. Law 5 and Law 22 both required a replacement for Law 32/ 1956, the inoperable law determining fiscal relations between the centre and the regions. This was finally accomplished with the enactment of Law 25 of 1999. This law should increase revenue adequacy and certainty for the regions, improve regional equity, contribute to macroeconomic stability and enhance transparency, accountability and participation in the budgetary process. However, Law 25 itself also requires considerable supplementary legislation. Regional development planning also still needs reform. In principle, bottom-up planning has been an important feature of Indonesian development planning processes (known as P5D) since 1982. But in practice the emphasis has been on implementing central government policies, programs and projects, and hence on increasing the effectiveness of regional sectoral agencies to implement rather than design policy. Nobody would argue that effective service delivery is not an important responsibility of the state, but this is not what decentralisation is all about. At the heart of any decentralisation policy must be the realisation that effective policy requires a comprehensive understanding of local circumstances - so comprehensive that central planners simply cannot do it themselves. Diversity requires diverse policy inputs. If decentralisation is to be effective in Indonesia, regional development planning has to be reoriented towards the needs and potentials of the region itself. Trevor Buising (tbuising@hotmail.com) is a consultant from Brisbane, Australia. He is a former colonial administrator in Papua New Guinea who recently completed a PhD on Indonesian decentralisation at Griffith University. Inside Indonesia 63: Jul - Sep 2000

A tale of two cities

Post-Suharto, central power is weak and 'the local' becomes more important. A look at two very different cities. Loren Ryter Medan gets a new mayor 'The Minister of Interior Affairs shouldn't force the people of Medan to play hardball?. If they wanna make this country into [a nation of] cowboys, we're ready.' Medan assembly member Martius Latuperisa issued this threat late in March in the midst of a heated controversy over the planned swearing-in of Medan's new mayor, Abdillah Ak, MBA. Abdillah is a local businessman who on March 20 had been elected by a vote of 35-10 in the local assembly. If necessary, Martius warned, the assembly would inaugurate Mr Abdillah themselves, without Interior Affairs Ministry authorisation. 'We know best who's most fit to be the mayor of Medan. Moreover, the people of Medan are not subordinates of the central government,' asserted Martius, who is the Medan chief of the Armed Forces Sons' and Daughters' Communication Forum (FKPPI). Martius once represented Golkar in the assembly. He is now the faction head of the Golkar splinter party Justice and Unity Party (PKP). After decades of regional subordination to Jakarta, it is tempting to laud the rise of the local. But this still looks like a New Order kind of conflict. The inter-bureaucratic, inter-personal, and inter-organisational competition for influence reaches from the local to the national. It is not strictly a matter of local autonomy.Yes, the advent of new political parties has heightened competition. A freer media and rising stakes make conflict more visible. But local power continues to be contested much as it has been ever since independence: through mass mobilisation, bribery, and 'lobbying Jakarta.' Medan was once the colonial seat of the Deli plantation region in Sumatra. Today it is Indonesia's third largest city with a population of over two million. Medan's ethnically diverse composition reflects the legacy of a colonial economy which relied on Chinese, South Asian, and later Javanese contract coolies to work the tobacco and rubber estates, as well as on ethnic Chinese traders to provide basic commercial services. By 1981, ethnic Javanese comprised 29% of the population, and ethnic Chinese made up 13%, four times more than in Indonesia overall. Military mobilisation during the 1945-49 revolution and during the late 1950s PRRI rebellion against Jakarta brought many Bataks and Mandailing to Medan, where they had previously been a minority. Once demobilised, these youths maintained contacts with military commanders even as they assumed territorial control in the informal economy. By the 1960s, these 'preman' (free men) as they were known, made a living as middle-men in markets, ticket scalpers at the movie theatres, and in private security in ethnic Chinese residential districts. In response to leftist labour radicalism in plantations and industry, military authorities encouraged the formation of anti-communist labour unions such as Soksi and youth groups such as Pemuda Pancasila (Pancasila Youth, PP). By the time of the October 1965 'coup', these groups were well placed to lead the purges against suspected members of the PKI, and were indeed positively encouraged to do so. Chief among the victims were predominantly ethnic Javanese railway and plantation workers, and urban ethnic Chinese accused of involvement with Communist China. The leaders of the groups which carried out these purges, as well as civilian and military officials who had violently demonstrated their anti-communist vigour, increasingly gained control of the early New Order economy and polity. Medan had long promised quick fortunes. During the colonial era it was the export hub for 'the land of the dollar' in its hinterland. Plentitudes of disposable cash made Medan particularly suited for gambling and prostitution. Tjong A Fie, the Dutch-appointed Captain-Chinese and the leading non-European power broker in late colonial society, operated government-licensed gambling, opium leases, and nearly thirty brothels. But with their political influence completely smashed by the late 1960s, ethnic Chinese fell to the mercy of power-holders for the continued operation of these ventures as well as legal commerce. The premanwere more than willing to provide the 'protection' they required, under threat of closure, seizure, or worse. Bad boy democracy Under these conditions, a kind of bad boy democracy flourished in Medan. Jakarta was never able to perfectly structure Medan's polity from the top down. Central and local authorities were forced to negotiate with the quasi-mafia forces at the grassroots whose growth they themselves had fostered. In fact, this year's controversy over the new mayor echoed a similar contest at the dawn of the New Order. Then, Pemuda Pancasila had openly and successfully championed Sjoerkani for mayor against a candidate backed by the regional military command. Installed in 1966, Sjoerkani served until 1974. During Sjoerkani's tenure, Pemuda Pancasila's influence grew further. Its members squeezed legal and illegal commerce in the town so tightly that the ethnic Chinese community still calls them 'five claws' (go-jiao) rather than 'five principles' (Pancasila). Not merely a gang of thugs, Pemuda Pancasila also became a springboard into the bureaucracy and even the military. Pemuda Pancasila leaders still boast that even former Abri chief Feisal Tanjung was once a member and a market preman. However, Pemuda Pancasila's chokehold became irksome to business owners and to military officers who themselves wanted a cut of the action. In the early 1980s a splinter group of PP began to fight for control of territory, and especially for gambling revenues. Ikatan Pemuda Karya (Work Service Youth Association, IPK) was funded in part by Chinese entrepreneurs, and was backed by some military officers including, so it is rumoured, then-Abri commander Benny Murdani. The idea was to create a balance of power. IPK's leader was a shrewd Christian Toba Batak fluent in Hokkien named Olo Panggabean. Unlike PP, IPK began to directly manage gambling operations rather than merely squeeze them for protection money. Olo got his start while still a PP member at the 1973 Medan Fair, where he was in charge of security. Shortly thereafter he opened kim, a variety of bingo played for cash prizes, which he still runs openly at the Medan Fair ground. Though they mortally fought each other on the streets, IPK strove to support Golkar even more fervently than did PP. Golkar election campaigns provided the ideal venue to stage a show of force. Each group mobilised thousands of its members clad in their respectively coloured camouflage uniforms. By the late 1980s and into the 1990s, other national Golkar-supporting youth groups became minor players in Medan's territorial scene, notably FKPPI, the army brats' youth group, which for most of its late New Order existence was led nationally by Suharto scion Bambang Trihatmojo. Clashes between the groups' rank and file were often actually lucrative for their municipal leaders, who themselves sat comfortably in their assembly seats. (Each group had at least one representative in the local assembly, always with Golkar.) For several years during the early 1990s, a protracted three-way battle known as the 'the poison arrow affair' ensued between PP, IPK, and FKPPI in the Polonia district of Medan, an area adjacent to the airport slated for luxury housing development. Developers colluded with the youth group chiefs to provoke a protracted conflict which would scare off residents and drive down land prices. For the Medan bosses, reformasi ushered in new opportunities as well as some new obstacles. They did not see multi-party elections as a formidable threat. IPK continued to support Golkar. FKPPI split between Golkar and its splinter party PKP. Senior leaders of PP hedged their bets, fanning out into Golkar, PKP, PAN, and also PDI-P. One local PP boss running on a Golkar ticket lost the election in his district of Padang Bulan but still gained a seat after negotiation within Golkar. Most bosses who held seats retained them, though sometimes under new party banners. But what did the rise of the new parties imply for territorial control? To IPK in particular, members of the security wing of Megawati's PDI-P were dangerous pretenders, all the more so since many rank and file PP members had joined their forces. Golkar assembly member and Medan IPK chief Moses Tambunan told an IPK rally shortly after the elections to prepare for a fight: 'Clearly PDI-P is out to undermine us. They gotta eat too. If they beg for rice, give them some. But if they want the rice bowl, forget about it!' Other institutional changes brought about by reformasi were more important. The separation of the police from the rest of the armed forces gave PP new leverage against IPK. PP began to demand that the police crack down on illegal gambling. As if obediently, in December the police mobile brigade avenged IPK's stabbing of one of its members by shooting up Olo's headquarters, known locally as 'the White House.' IPK in turn relied on the regional military command, whose logistics operations it has openly helped finance, to admonish the police. 'Cooperate' Medan's established forces found a common candidate for mayor in Abdillah Ak. As a local entrepreneur he could be expected to generate numerous projects to be contracted out. During the mass mobilisations surrounding the mayoral candidacy, both FKPPI and the Youth Front of the political party PAN were among Abdillah's militant supporters. One of PP's senior leaders sits on the North Sumatran board of PAN. Abdillah was fully willing to cooperate with all groups holding effective power in Medan. PDI-P's original candidate, Professor Firman Tambun, took a less pragmatic stance and suffered for it. After clashes between PP and IPK in November and December 1999, Tambun stated that the police must enforce the law and arrest criminals, not just summon the youth group leaders for reconciliation. He was subsequently shut out of the candidate list entirely. PDI-P held more seats in the local assembly than any other party - 16 out of 45 - yet they failed to secure their mayoral candidate. The circumstances that led to this failure were only brought to light through non-procedural means. After the assembly voted to elect Abdillah mayor, a group of PDI-P cadres calling itself the Struggle Bull Youth Movement abducted 12 of the PDI-P's 16 assembly members and took them to the party's provincial headquarters. There they were pelted and threatened with knives. Four of them then signed a prepared confession that each of them had accepted 25 million rupiah from Abdillah's 'Success Team' in exchange for their votes. On April 18, the governor of North Sumatra finally swore in the new mayor in a local assembly building guarded by army troops, members of the security wing of the PDI-P siding with their party's assembly members, and members of FKPPI. The inauguration caught Medan by surprise. It came the day after the Attorney General's Medan office indicted Mr Abdillah on charges of corruption and vote buying. Nevertheless, the inauguration was technically legal. The Minister of Interior Affairs authorised it in a decree issued mere hours after the Attorney General's office announced the indictment. Loren Ryter (loren@u.washington.edu) is completing a doctoral dissertation on youth and preman in Jakarta and Medan at the University of Washington in Seattle. Inside Indonesia 63: Jul - Sep 2000

Business as usual

Until Gus Dur can bring military business activities under control, they won't go 'back to barracks' Lesley McCulloch In 1998 a study by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) exposed, not for the first time, the fact that the military had their fingers in the country's economic pie. What was different this time was the coverage it received in the media, exposing the size and variety of the pies in which the generals had their 'sticky fingers'. Amid the protests that led to Suharto's fall, military business activities were yet another 'open secret' to join the fray. Business down the barrel of a gun, a practice as old as Indonesia itself, has been lucrative indeed. Military business assets were estimated to be greater than US$8 billion in 1998. These activities are pervasive, corrupt and exist in the formal, informal, and even criminal economic sectors. There can be no mistaking Gus Dur's desire to return the military to barracks and democratise both politics and the economy. But it is proving to be a delicate balancing act. The president has warned that the country still needs the armed forces as an institution, and should therefore not engage in 'anti TNI sentiment'. Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono remarked recently that Indonesia couldn't yet afford democracy. For most it is a daily battle for survival, he observed, and only 10% of Indonesians can afford the luxury of participating in democracy. Like most ordinary Indonesians, the military rank and file does not reap rich rewards from their institution's business activities. The military initially became involved in commercial activities because the government could not afford to provide for their welfare and running costs. So what has changed since Gus Dur became president? The government is still unable to provide for the needs of the military. Regular salaries do not adequately provide for the basic needs of personnel. Recent salary increases to public servants and the military averaging 30 percent are a start, but have made little difference with prices spiraling. While it is generally agreed that higher salaries do not necessarily guarantee less corruption and 'extra-military' activities, it would at least be a starting point. Late last year Juwono Sudarsono demanded a 62.9 percent increase in the 2000-2001 defence budget, arguing that if this was not forthcoming the professionalism of the military as a defence force would continue to be compromised by corruption and commercial activities. Theodore Friend of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Washington says such commercial activities only produce 'clumsy entrepreneurs and flabby soldiers'. However, the 2000 defence budget did not include any raise. At Rp 10.1 trillion (about US$ 1.4 billion) it involved no change - it was merely a percentage of the 1999 budget to reflect its nine-month duration. Nevertheless the military's hierarchy of needs is no secret. Armed forces chief Admiral Widodo Adisucipto has announced a 'wish list' of naval vessels and aircraft upgrades. He specifically mentioned the planned purchase of two Parcham-class corvettes and upgrades of seven F-16A/B jet fighters, at a combined cost of over Rp60 billion. He also wants large fast patrol craft. Navy chief Admiral Sucipto recently revealed plans to increase personnel numbers by 20,000 over five years to facilitate the expanding role of the navy. The result? More sticky fingers will be dipping into the economic pie. The government has recently announced it intends to turn to China for weapons in its attempt to side step what it regards as politically motivated procurement barriers raised by the US and other Western defence manufacturers. Preference for these equipment upgrades was borne out by a confidential Indonesian military source who recently conceded to me that the priority is to channel additional government defence allocation to 'modernisation and maintenance of equipment', rather than to use it as a lever to extract the military from business by raising salaries even more. In addition to weapons a considerable portion of the budget is to be allocated to recruitment and training. Here we have an institution that openly declares its inability to adequately compensate existing personnel, but still intends to increase its numbers. Until the effects of the crisis were felt in 1998, military budgets increased throughout the 1990s. But the number of active personnel also rose, from 270,000 active regulars in 1990 to 298,000 by the late 1990s (excluding paramilitary forces of around 177,000). These personnel increases made it impossible for budget increases to deliver enhanced welfare benefits. Off-budget Indonesian defence spending is much higher than that declared in the official budget. Revrisond Baswir, a prominent Indonesian economist, has suggested that the declared defence budget accounts for only 25 percent of true defence spending. The rest comes from military cooperatives, foundations and stock purchases, and from corrupt practices at the institutional, group and individual level. Profits from these 'ventures' are divided three ways. Some is siphoned off to well-placed individuals, some is reinvested in the companies, and some becomes extra-budgetary income for the military. The true amounts can only be guessed at. The government has stated it must continue to accept these commercial activities as an inevitable necessity until it can afford to increase the defence budget. This means it is also implicitly saying it has no alternative but - to use an increasingly popular Indonesian euphemism - to expect a certain 'leakage' of any profits from these unsupervised businesses to individuals and groups within the military. Gus Dur has recognised the wisdom of not trying to put the cart before the horse. Only when the problem of the official defence budget has been addressed can the government claim the moral authority to insist that the military relinquish its hold on the economy. Indeed in a country where the military remains the most efficiently functioning institution, this may be a wise move. Meanwhile a network of military influence continues, together with an institutional mindset that accepts off-budget financing as normal - a potentially unsettling combination. Gus Dur wants to turn Indonesia into a fully functioning democracy, but removing the military from business is not top of the list on his hierarchy of priorities. In the months since taking office he has certainly declared his intention to stamp out endemic corruption, improve corporate governance (a pledge to the IMF), and oversee the retreat of the military from civil society. But his real priorities have become quite apparent. They have been, firstly, to adopt an individual rather than an institutional focus by filling key positions with reformists both in the military and in government. His second priority seems to have been to meet the requirements of the January 2000 IMF Letter of Intent (LoI) in order to secure the economic bailout on offer. Failure to deliver all reforms stipulated in the LoI has already led to a delay in the next US$ 400 million of the three-year US$5 billion support package. Following this action by the IMF, Gus Dur's somewhat confusing policy orations quickly sharpened to focus on these reforms, 90 percent of which the government says have now been met. Article 31 of the LoI addresses off-budget funds. The government intends to increase transparency and has instructed the State Audit Board (BPKP) that future audits of government agencies' financial operations should 'take full account of all extra-budgetary sources of support'. This 'best practice' begins in 2000 and 'will include the military'. Unfortunately this is the limited extent of the government's attempts to extract the military from business - military businesses will now be accountable to an independent audit. Gus Dur is no doubt treading carefully. Powerful interests are at stake, perhaps none more so than the very existence of his government. As Indonesia continues to languish in the aftermath of the economic crisis there will be no significant increase in the defence budget for the foreseeable future. The military will become more rather than less reliant on a diminishing number of extra-budgetary sources - which themselves have suffered in the economic crisis. In the past, the 'clumsy entrepreneurs' had access to such perks and privileges that many businesses were kept afloat which were not commercially viable. Those military businesses and business connections that have survived can no longer rely on the levels of patronage they previously received. If the government pushes this, the only truly functioning government institution, offside, in other words, if it pushes reform quicker than the military can accept it, the results may bring even more chaos. Perhaps Gus Dur is wise to concentrate on consolidating his power rather on reform. But so long as this is the case, it is 'business as usual' for the military. Ms Lesley McCulloch (lesley@bicc.de) is writing a study of Indonesian military spending for the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC) in Germany. BICC (www.bicc.de) is dedicated to promoting processes that shift resources away from the defence sector towards alternative civilian uses. Inside Indonesia 63: Jul - Sep 2000

Fireside chat about AIDS

How do you reach illiterate young people at risk from HIV/AIDS? These volunteers take them camping. Ingrid Hering Vickram Amiri knows the ways of the streets. At 19, this Manadonese youth is the youngest outreach worker in an HIV/AIDS prevention project for marginalised youth run by a local non-government organisation. His earlier years mirrored the lifestyle of the project's target group in the North Sulawesi capital - drinking, drug use, numerous partners who were also sex workers, hanging around with friends, and sleeping on the streets. He first came into contact with the non-government organisation Yayasan Mitra Masyarakat (YMM) two years ago when he participated in one of the monthly three-day camping sessions aimed at distributing information about sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and HIV/AIDS. The sessions convey the message through role plays, small group discussions, case studies, information sessions, and question and answer time with a HIV/AIDS specialist. Camping as a tool to reach marginalised youth is unique in Indonesia. Before camping, Vickram had never heard about HIV/AIDS. He was subsequently trained as a peer educator. Although not instantly, his lifestyle slowly changed and he believed many of his friends were at high risk of infection by STDs, which is one of the channels of HIV /AIDS infection. The girls often had four to five partners in one night, encouraged by their boyfriends who acted as pimps and who were themselves often drunk or used drugs. Early last year Vickram became an outreach worker. Despite finding it initially daunting he has come to view his youth as an advantage. 'They (the target group) receive me as a friend, which makes it easier to give them information and for them to receive it,' he explained. Some of his friends are reducing their intake or using drugs in a safer manner. Others who are sexually active but have never used condoms have become aware of the dangers. 'Camping is very effective to give information because it appeals to youth,' Vickram said. His work is sometimes made difficult by his age, or because discussing sex is still taboo. He has to overcome myths such as that lemon juice on the genitals will kill infection, that only foreigners get HIV/AIDS, or that only transvestites (bancis) use condoms. The project has led to behaviour change, but this can be difficult to sustain if the youth have no regular activities. 'Their environment does not support them to change. It can influence them to return to their former behaviours,' Vickram said. Indonesia's official figure of 1080 HIV/AIDS cases is greatly underestimated, mainly due to a poor surveillance system. According to Dr James Sinaya, one of about 20 HIV/AIDS specialists in the country, HIV/AIDS here is a time bomb in the face of globalisation and a growing illicit drug trade. Manado in particular is at high risk. Youth unemployment is high, a large maritime and unskilled labour force work overseas, and the town shares a reputation with West Java for its beautiful women. The government supports the distribution of information, but Dr Sinaya wants to see more funds for testing kits, which had been dropped as a policy priority, and more recreational activities for young people. Much of the question and answer sessions are spent dispelling popular myths such as the use of beads, needles and horsehair around or in the penis to increase sexual pleasure. Dr Sinaya believes the greatest obstacles for disseminating information are the diversity of ethnic languages, illiteracy and religious objections to discussing of sex. YMM's prevention project is funded by USAID and has been running since 1997. It has reached more than 3600 youths to date. According to project manager Umar Mato, written material is not enough to be effective for this target group, due to their limited attention span, minimal education and transient lifestyle. The use of peer educators to reach them, outreach workers to give follow-up information, and activities such as World AIDS Day expos and small group discussions help reinforce information given during camping. Pak Umar believes the biggest hurdles to be overcome are the resistance to condom use and the increasing prevalence of injecting drug use, particularly heroin. 'The Department of Religion here is not brave enough yet to talk about condom use or promote it,' he said. 'They still hope HIV/AIDS is not a big problem because in North Sulawesi there are only three (official) cases.' Government prevention strategies are in place, as they were in Thailand 10 years ago, but Pak Umar believes it has not translated into action, partly because 100% condom use is not being pushed. Attention also needs to be focused on injecting drug use. 'Otherwise we will be late, like Thailand and Malaysia,' he added. Ingrid Hering (ingrid_1010@hotmail.com) is an Australian Volunteers International volunteer, working with Yayasan Mitra Masyarakat in Manado, North Sulawesi. Inside Indonesia 63: Jul - Sep 2000

Indonesia is definitely OK

Independent comic artists explore newfound freedoms Laine Berman One of the first things I noticed in the bookshops after Suharto's resignation was the amazing proliferation of books on sex. Then came humour books on every subject you can think of including politics. Finally and predictably, formal political commentaries flooded the shelves. For these few months, the Japanese comics that have been the best sellers in all Indonesian bookshops were pushed aside. Celebrating the freedom of the moment, Indonesians chose sex, humour, and politics over imported comics. Now, some two years later, enter bookshops and the window displays and shelves are again filled with comics. Sex manuals seem to have been shoved aside by religious books. Sadly, as I reported here in 1998, all of these comics are licensed, translated imports, with not a local comic in sight. The only local comic book found in some shops is Komik politik, which in its two volumes resembles New Order style hero-worshipping. National Comic Week has since 1996 presented a yearly celebration of formally published Indonesian-made comics. Being restricted to those with 'permission' and slick presentations, it glorifies bad marketing, lack of distribution, translations, western copies, censorship, and ideological repetition. It also glorifies the 'Golden Age' - legend and silat (martial arts) comics from the 60s and 70s. For the first time in 1999, local independent or underground comics were permitted to appear. Independents are those comics created by admirers of the art or those who simply choose to express themselves through the medium. These mini comics are 'self-published', meaning they are photocopied, distributed amongst friends, and occasionally sold in local shops. Illegal prior to May 1998, by the 1999 Comic Week fifteen 'studios' or groups from Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya and Denpasar were actively making and self-publishing comics. For the indie comic artists, it was a moment of idealism, mixed with the thrill of legitimacy and finally seeing their work in the same exhibition space as the great Indonesian 'komikus' Jan Mintaraga, RA Kosasih and others. Wahyoe Soegijanto, head of the Indonesian Comic Community (MKI), claimed great things for indie comics, even while maintaining New Order discourse: 'We're moving ahead step by step to advance Indonesian comics as our contribution to the development of Indonesia'. By the 2000 exhibition, however, these independents were already reduced in number and confined to one corner of the hall. Freedom What is so important about comics? For one, Indonesians love them and have a long, fond history of growing up with them. But if comics mirror the environment in which they appear, the 'Golden Age' was a time of heroes and legends, whereas now Indonesia is an occupied nation. Very few komikus have found their own voice under reformasi. The vast majority of comics on display at the 2000 Expo this past February were copies of western comics in terms of art, story, design, location, characterisation, and even language. The poet Rendra once described freedom of expression as a reflection of the artist's degree of contact with the people, with life and nature. It was an ability to express the truth, or soul of society. So why are most Indonesian comics utterly removed from any direct contact with the everyday world? With reformasi, comics have the potential to reflect social and political life way beyond other types of communication. Where are these models of contemporary culture we would expect to see in such a genre? Now let's go back to that little indie corner of the exhibition and see what comics look like when freed from the stranglehold of slick presentation or censorship. First, there were the classics. Self-published comics had been a trend on campuses since 1994. By 1996 groups of Yogyakarta-based art students compiled their efforts into Core comic, Komik selingkuh, Kiri komik, Petak umpet komik, and Komik haram. They worked out of love for the medium, out of the need for self-expression, and in a vain attempt to revive a much missed local tradition. For the most part, and precisely like indies anywhere else in the world, they remain economically utterly unsuccessful. Like indie artists elsewhere too, many are self-conscious about presenting their work in public, evidenced by opening statements that justify their efforts as socially useful. 'Jakarta the hot and filthy can be transformed into a comic!!', said Rudi H in Komec perjoeangan, (1999). Rampok (1999, by Emte) avoided criticism by referring to the comic as garbage and without meaning. The indie theme in the pre-reformasi era was predominantly despair. One of the earliest in the group comic output was Komik selingkuh (Deception, 1996). This comic-cum-manual is entirely devoted to deception with the ultimate goal of luring someone into sexual engagement. Success or failure both lead to the same ending: a fight with the wife, financial debt, unwanted children, divorce, misery, suicide, and the comfort and joy of imagining and/ or doing the whole sex scene again. Regardless of the consequences, sex as the reward for a good deception heavily outweighs the negatives, at least in terms of its presentational build-up within the comic. Core Comics (1996) self-published a series called Berteman dengan anjing (Befriending dogs). Each volume contains compilations that conform to various dog themes, nearly all violent: dogs as mad scientists, dog heaven where dogs curse at and abuse people, space dogs fall in love with earth women, and others too weird to identify. Tanggaku kirik (My neighbour is a puppy) compiles stories based in dog worlds, where humans are the beasts, and dog dreams, aspirations for love, to become human, or to just survive. As a whole, nearly every story has a sad ending where man beats dog or dog aspires to greatness and fails. Autobiography Most of the New Order era indies share this pessimism. At the same time, and totally unlike indie comics in Australia or the States, they avoid any sense of a self within the social environment. By 1999, however, indies are beginning to show more autobiographical work, based on 'the material at hand' turned into a story or just a simple expos? of life. Not all of it is depressing or pornographic either, as seen in the Komec perjoeangan by Rudi H. His inscription reads 'Indonesia pancen oke lho' (Indonesia is definitely OK, you know). The comic reveals tidbits of the young man's life and experiences that are thoroughly normal and 'definitely OK'. Nowhere to be seen at the 2000 Comic Expo was the work of the Yogya-based comic and organisational wizard, Bambang Toko. Bambang was the organiser for Core Comic and later moved to the far more interesting Apotik Komik. While extremely active makers of comics as autobiography, full of word plays and local trends, Apotik Komik also has taken comics to the streets through their humorous posters and by decorating walls and billboards. Their collective works have developed a good balance between telling a familiar story and using humour as a way to promote thought and different perspectives. Yet they and all the other Yogya komikus chose to boycott the 2000 Comic Expo. Hopefully, by the 2001 Expo, komikus, publishers, and the Indonesian public will make more effort to look forward instead of back and support a more lively, relevant local comic industry. Laine Berman (laine@indo.net.id) lives and works in Yogyakarta. Inside Indonesia 63: Jul - Sep 2000

Inside Jepara

Tensions between state, society and business Jim Schille Jepara is a small town of about 100,000 and a district of slightly under a million on the north coast of Java, two hours by car from the provincial capital Semarang. Unlike Medan it has only recently become urban and is not an ethnic or religious mixing pot. Nearly 98% of Jeparans are from one ethnic group, the Javanese, and more than 95% are Muslim. Jepara was an important port kingdom in the mid-sixteenth century, once ruled by Queen Kalinyamat. The colonial Dutch burned it to the ground twice in one year for breaking their trade monopoly. It was also the home of Kartini the Javanese aristocrat whose life and letters advanced educational opportunities for Indonesian women in the early twentieth century. Jepara exports more than 500 million Australian dollars of its famous handcrafted furniture each year. It makes antique reproduction, garden and other furniture in any design the customer wants. There is also a substantial domestic furniture industry. Together they employ more than 80,000 Jeparans. Many more are employed in allied industries. Most work in more than 2000 overwhelmingly Javanese-owned small and medium enterprises in Jepara's villages. Even most of the largest firms are indigenous or European. Elsewhere in Indonesia, Chinese Indonesian firms dominate manufacturing. Jepara's economy has boomed. For several kilometres the road into town is full of furniture factories, showrooms and warehouses. There has been a related growth in public transport, in packing and shipping services, in upholstering, banks, and public buildings. Internet and telephone kiosks, good hotels and 'modern' restaurants cater mainly to foreigners and the new commercial elite. In 1971 Jepara was one of the poorest districts in Central Java. Now it is near the top in regional per capita income. It has more registered motor vehicles than any other locality in Central Java except the provincial capital. Another sign of local prosperity is the pilgrimage to Mecca, which costs more than AU$5000. This year nearly 2500 Jeparans went, up from about 900 the year before. In both years Jepara sent more pilgrims than any other locality in Indonesia. Local government revenue is so strong that in the midst of Indonesia's 1998 economic crisis Jepara's local government could build a large two-storey office building without borrowing. Jepara's recent wealth is also visible in new retail shops, department stores, motor vehicle dealers and even a super-market. While inequality seems to have grown, there is anecdotal evidence that the growth in employment in the furniture industry has helped to push up other rural wages. Responsive For decades local politics has been competitive and local society has been able to challenge the local state to be more effective and responsive. My argument about how Jepara got by New Order standards a relatively demanding society and a responsive developmental state can be found in my book Developing Jepara (1996). Jepara has long had a strong Islamic institution, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), with deep roots and high status in Jepara's villages, small business community and Islamic schools. NU won nearly 60% of the vote in the democratic elections of 1955, and it expected to dominate local government after the destruction of the Indonesian Communist Party in 1965. It soon became clear that less-overtly Islamic bureaucrats from southern Central Java would fill local government positions. However, these 'outsider' bureaucrats soon found that they needed the support of local NU leaders to succeed with their development programs. Even in the 'controlled' New Order elections, Jepara's Muslim community resisted efforts to deliver the government party Golkar victories. They regularly elected PPP candidates to 40% of the elected seats, narrowly won one election, and found ways to make the assembly question government practices. Encouraged by delegations to the assembly criticising poor government services, the Jepara assembly actively investigated corruption. They used the NU informal network to reveal the secrets of bureaucrats who showed signs of conspicuous consumption. On more than one occasion an assembly representative asked the district head (bupati) how it was that an official built a new house or deposited ten million rupiah into his bank account. The questions were well informed and embarrassing. Jepara began to get a reputation as a difficult place for state officials to govern, because the people dared to complain loudly unless government was attentive and careful. As the furniture industry grew, entrepreneurs acquired cars, televisions, and stereos that gave them a new prestige in the materialist New Order. Entrepreneurs gained further status when, after the oil boom, the state admitted it needed the private sector to play a leading role in making development succeed. In the 1980s and 1990s there was also a marked cultural turn to Islam in Indonesia. Jepara's officials began to see Jepara's Islamic and business communities as deserving their respect. Jepara's business leaders came to expect public services. Jepara's local government financed trade promotions, fought for better roads, for the right to use container trucks, for improved telecommunications. All this does not mean that there was no conflict between state and society. It did mean that the risks of corruptors or tyrants being found out and humiliated were greater. The arrogance of power was constrained, not eliminated. That arrogance was most obvious when national or provincial interests wanted local land. Examples include the now-abandoned nuclear reactors, the huge, still-unfinished, Suharto family-owned Tanjung Jati power plant in Bangsri, and tourist development in the Karimunjawa islands. In these national projects the local state and local society had little voice. One ongoing tension between state and society and between large furniture enterprises and small ones is over the role of (overwhelmingly European) foreigners. There have been pro- and anti-foreigner demonstrations, occasional mysterious fires in furniture factories, media attacks on the local state for condoning the presence of 'illegal' foreigners, and public threats to the safety of foreigners. Many indigenous firm-owners think that foreigners are trying to make a quick profit or establish a monopoly. However, many small business owners support the foreigners because they provide an alternative market which drives up prices. Reform era Jepara went through the New Order relatively well, with a strengthened economy and a society able to place limits on the state and a local state made more responsive. So how is Jepara managing in the Reform Era? The local economy has remained strong with the rupiah value of furniture exports soaring. Many Jeparans now believe that they can do well at business even in adverse conditions. The worrying cloud on the horizon is the question of sustainability. Can the forests of Indonesia (and now Brazil) provide quality timber in ever increasing amounts? Politics has been more problematic. The problem is not state-society relations but clashes within society. NU had established its own party, PKB, and thus came into competition with the other Islamic-based party, PPP, to which most Jeparan NU members had hitherto given their loyalty. One of the most widely reported clashes of the 1999 election campaign was in Dongos, near Jepara, in which four PKB supporters were killed when they tried to establish a local branch in a PPP-dominated village. Tensions remained high during the election. PPP captured more than 40% of the votes, more than double the second party. Some election monitors saw PPP's victory as a sign that intimidation continued to play a big role. PPP, they said, did what Golkar had always done. Another view might be that voters remained loyal to the party that had battled the New Order in difficult times. On the other hand, the PKB and NU leadership has been gracious in defeat. They did not challenge for the chair of the local assembly even though an everybody-but-PPP coalition might have succeeded. The PKB candidate withdrew and announced that it was better that the party with the most seats won the chairmanship. Such flexibility, inclusiveness and tolerance among the NU and PKB leadership provides the greatest hope that Jepara will do well in the reform era. Through the authoritarian years of the New Order it sustained resistance, but gave ground when it needed to. Eventually, it tamed the local state. NU headquarters is now a place where Muslim and even non-Muslim activists feel they can meet and talk. The difficult task ahead for NU will be to accommodate and somehow soften their proud, exclusivist, PPP wing. Jepara has a flourishing civil society and a responsive local state. The question is how that society can learn to govern itself and constrain society-based power-holders. Jim Schiller (asjs@sigma.sss.flinders.edu.au) teaches at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia. He is the author of 'Developing Jepara: State and society in New Order Indonesia' (Monash Asia Institute, 1996). Inside Indonesia 63: Jul - Sep 2000

The kampung bookshelf

An innovative idea to stimulate reading in the urban village Bambang Rustanto and Lea Jellinek A mobile library stands alone, forlorn beside kampungs without any people coming to it. The librarian leans against the door, tired waiting for people to come. The dust collects on the books. It is not that people do not know the library is full of books. It is because they do not want to read. Children grow up with stories based on the history of the place where they live, their ancestors, their religion and funny and dangerous characters. The stories their grandparents and parents tell describe an exciting journey through life - the ups and downs, the difficulties, the traumas they will have to face, and how to behave in polite society. It is a rural tradition based on most Indonesians' recent peasant origins. The wayang is part of this tradition. This should be the basis on which a reading culture is built. Indonesian children learn reading in a back-to-front way. First they are taught to read and only later to listen, see and experience. They do not get beyond phase one because the reading does not ring true. At school, creativity is not allowed. Children must follow the teacher. Answers are brief and by the book. Composition is not part of any Indonesian child's curriculum. The problem starts at home. With TV and radio, parents are losing their oral tradition. Those quiet moments in the morning and evenings or during the mid-afternoon siesta when people laze about and talk have been lost. Children are being told fewer stories. Schooling exhausts them. They grow up disliking learning. If the books a ten-year old carries are piled on top of each other, they are taller than the child. Yet hardly anything in those books remains in the child's mind because they are so full of shallow pieces of information. Even teachers find it hard to remember what is in them. Warung baca Our non-government organisation Kesuma has a kampung bookshelf system (Warung Baca) in Jakarta. Each community of 150 people (RT - rukun tetangga) will borrow about sixty books per month. One person can read three to five books or magazines a month. The sixty books/ magazines consist of approximately twenty children's books and stories, ten educational books, ten magazines, newspapers and children's magazines, and twenty books for teenagers and adults. A simple list records the name of each borrower, the date of borrowing and the return date when the book is due. Children and adults serve themselves from the community bookshelf without being surrounded by too many rules. They take the books home and read in their own time, their own way and the more relaxed environment of home. Bookshelf minders are all women. The community decides how these organiser(s) should be reimbursed and where the money will come from. Other payments may be used to buy new books, repair the bookshelf, help pay for the collection and distribution of books, or repair damaged books. Based on the Kesuma experience in Kemanggisan, Jakarta, the community is able to raise just Rp 3000 - 5000 per month. A contribution from the community creates responsibility and a sense of ownership. Since starting the program in October 1999, not one book has been damaged or lost in the seven bookshelves. Food and drink sales have expanded around the Kesuma kampung bookshelves as people drink and eat while they read. Children talk with one another about their learning difficulties. Once a month, the bookshelf organiser places all the books and magazines in a cardboard box and carts them to a neighbouring bookshelf, so the books are rotated between the seven bookshelves. A mobile library in a truck is unnecessary! The bookshelves are within five minutes walking distance of people's homes. The kampung bookshelf is for everybody - the young, the old, the middle-aged and teenagers. It satisfies people's varied needs. As the old and the young read together they encourage each other. The influence runs both ways. Lea Jellinek (leajell@ozemail.com.au) and Bambang Rustanto are freelance development consultants in Jakarta. Kesuma needs money to buy books and magazines. Anybody interested in supporting its work should contact Lea. Inside Indonesia 63: Jul - Sep 2000

Sulami explains why

An extract from Sulami's speech at YPKP's first anniversary "Indonesia at this moment, all Indonesians, feel that this country is moving towards something new. Something free from the darkness of oppression and exploitation, from the corruption, collusion and nepotism that was born out of absolute power, from the economic and political crisis that grew out of the greed of its leaders. No nation can move into the future with its feet chained to a historical burden, to those dark, traumatic moments that will forever haunt the national character in the future. That burden must be released. This nation must bravely face up to its fears, to the truth that lies behind the trauma. Only then can its character once more grow healthy and strong. This is no different to other nations who have had to leave behind a black page in their histories. They first of all needed to know what happened. So that their grandchildren will know, and not repeat the same mistakes committed by their forebears, not experience the same disaster over and over again. The South African nation, black and white, worked together to investigate, to dig out, to expose all the wrongs that they experienced together. The Cambodian nation have opened up all their records from their dark past, they have let their eyewitnesses speak so that those crimes against humanity should never be repeated. The Argentineans have done the same. West Germans have welcomed their East German brethren: communists at that! Many other nations have had the courage to face up to their dark past, to open up that bitter reality and then move ahead as nations that have become more democratic." Inside Indonesia 63: Jul - Sep 2000

Scenes from an occupation

Review: A lone Australian filmmaker records East Timor's history-making year of 1999 Carmela Baranowska In September 1999 I was among the last group of journalists to be evacuated from the UN compound in Dili. In the middle of East Timor's crisis we never knew what would happen next. As the Hercules aircraft took off from Dili airport we expected the worst - further genocide and international indifference. We were wrong - but East Timor's history in the last 24 years would hardly have led us to believe otherwise. By this stage I had spent four months in East Timor, filming day to day for my 67-minute documentary Scenes from an occupation, which was broadcast as two parts on SBS TV 'Dateline' in 1999. There were 600 journalists in East Timor during the referendum, but I was the only filmmaker to document the last six months of Indonesia's occupation. From the beginning in March 1999 I was adamant that interviewing Timorese 'after the fact' would be of little use. I planned to be in East Timor over a long period. I believed I could document reality 'as it happened'. I wanted to see and hear the Timorese speaking to one another, without the mediating influence of a Western expert whom the audience could recognise. If I missed an event there would be no re-enactment. After the massacre at Liquica in April 1999 my filming concentrated on reactions at the headquarters of the Council for National Timorese Resistance (CNRT) in Dili, specifically from the survivors who went there to give their eyewitness accounts of what took place. At that time there was no UN presence, nor any international observers in East Timor. Amazingly, the Australian government was still arguing publicly that the militias were not supported by the Indonesian military. Kosovo dominated world headlines. East Timor was largely forgotten. The massacres at Liquica and Dili in April 1999 have been overshadowed by what is usually referred to as 'the post-ballot violence'. As a filmmaker who documented both periods I would argue that the killings in April were a well-orchestrated dress rehearsal by the Indonesian military and their latest offspring - the militias. By late August there had been a predictable transformation in Dili's militia. They now wore personalised 'Aitarak' sweatshirts, provided by the TNI. They had also been joined by Kopassus soldiers - locals and journalists who knew them sighted them repeatedly in Dili's suburb of Becora, also wearing the 'Aitarak' logo. For the East Timorese the role of the Kopassus special forces in destabilising East Timor was hardly a new phenomenon. In taped addresses, sent out from house arrest in Jakarta and circulated throughout East Timor before the ballot, Xanana Gusmao reiterated their prominent historical role in orchestrating violence for their own advancement. Initially Australians showed only muted indifference to such allegations. However as 1999 progressed this gradually turned into a ready acceptance by the mainstream media and eventually even by the government. By the end of the year Australia's commercial Channel 9 network was referring to Indonesia's 'brutal occupation' of East Timor. Back in January, the ABC had still been politely referring to the territory's 'integration' into Indonesia. Any account of 1999 - whether documentary or written - can only ever be partial. But the mere presence of a video camera in 1999 helped render individuals and organisations as documented history, whereas the massacres at Mt Matebian in the late 1970s and Kraras in 1983 live on only as memory, song and oral history. As East Timor moves towards independence the Timorese have already begun to document their own histories for their own purposes. During this period of accounting it will be the East Timorese person who will sit opposite the Indonesian military general and ask 'Why?' Carmela Baranowska is a documentary filmmaker.'Scenes from an occupation' is available for sale to individuals, schools, universities and community groups. Email for Australia/NZ admin@roninfilms.com.au, elsewhere viagemfilms@hotmail.com, web site www.roninfilms.com.au. Inside Indonesia 63: Jul - Sep 2000

Wahid, IMF and the people

A young activist jailed under Suharto is stirring more opposition to Wahid too Nick Everett talks with Budiman Sujatmiko Budiman Sujatmiko chairs the Indonesian People's Democratic Party, PRD. He first became active in the movement for democracy in 1988, when he was a student at Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University. The New Order regime jailed him for more than three years. He was not released till December 1999, six weeks after Abdurrahman Wahid was elected president. Together with Avelino da Silva, secretary-general of the Timorese Socialist Party PST, Sujatmiko recently visited Australia on a speaking tour organised by Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (Asiet). I caught up with Sujatmiko during his visit to Sydney on April 12. Wahid was elected in October 1999 amid mass protests against continued Golkar rule. His appointment continued a process of reform begun under B J Habibie. Acting under the growing pressure of a mass anti-dictatorship movement demanding 'reformasi total', the Habibie government had passed legislation for multi-party elections, reduced the armed forces representation in parliament, withdrew some of the most repressive labour laws, and instituted a UN-supervised referendum in East Timor. The Wahid government subsequently forced Golkar-appointed military commander General Wiranto out of cabinet, finished releasing political prisoners, and launched its own investigation into human rights abuses by the armed forces in East Timor last September. Australian and other Western governments have touted these reforms as proof of the new government's commitment to democracy. Sujatmiko and the PRD do not share this view. 'These are just the minimum criteria for democracy,' Sujatmiko explained. 'Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly these offer the chance for the majority to rule. But if those liberties do not actually result in majority rule, then we do not have democracy in the true sense.' Sujatmiko concedes that, unlike his predecessors Suharto and Habibie, 'Wahid is not a bureaucrat.' However, 'he has no policy to deliver better living standards or to end the threat of unemployment - his policies cannot deliver "people friendly" outcomes,' he said. Sujatmiko argues that this is most clearly demonstrated by Wahid's pursuit of an economic restructuring program imposed by the International Monetary Fund. 'If the policies dictated by the IMF are fully implemented in the next three years, the majority of the people will have to bear the burden of an increased cost of living, driving them under the poverty line,' he said. 'The 1997 economic crisis has already resulted in 37 million unemployed this figure will continue to rise if the IMF policies are implemented further.' IMF demands to restructure the economy have robbed Indonesia of its economic independence. Sujatmiko likens it to the experience of Latin American countries since the 1980s. 'Privatisation, financial liberalisation, deregulation of trade and investment, reduced state subsidies this is the same as the neo-liberal policies that have been pursued in Latin America.' 'Wahid has given a commitment to the IMF that he will cut state subsidies, resulting in higher petrol, electricity and transport prices and increased education fees,' says Sujatmiko. 'He has said that he has to do this to reduce dependency on foreign debt and the IMF.' However, opposition to price hikes refreshed the memory of mass demonstrations against similar hikes that brought down the Suharto dictatorship in 1998. It forced Wahid to delay the fuel price increase and the increase in civil service salaries. 'Wahid is playing between two poles,' notes Sujatmiko: 'the IMF and the people.' 'He wants to win sympathy from the people, but his concessions are still not enough. He has created anger by proposing to increase salaries for the first echelon bureaucracy by 2000%. What he has done is not based on a clear-cut vision,' states Sujatmiko. 'Objectively, the Wahid government remains loyal to the dictates of the IMF and of Western governments. Wahid is seeking to use his popular following to position himself to implement this austerity program.' No serious opposition is emerging to this economic program from the parties represented in Indonesia's newly elected parliament. 'The PRD is the only political party criticising this program,' Sujatmiko says, 'in unity with other democratic forces: the student movement and trade unions.' 'Workers and students have come to parliament to protest the cutting of subsidies, and teachers have mobilised in many centres in Indonesia demanding a 300% increase in their salaries. There has been unrest and social discontent. Bus drivers, taxi drivers and others have taken action against the increase in transport costs. This has given the people confidence: they can now act as political groups to put pressure on the government so that the government must listen to the people.' Growing opposition to the IMF's demands has strengthened the PRD's advocacy of an alternative economic program. 'We have already come to parliament and met with its members and presented our proposals,' Sujatmiko tells me. The PRD advocates: cancellation of the foreign debt, a progressive tax on high incomes, taxes on the sale of luxury goods, a reduced military budget, and expropriation of Suharto's assets (estimated to be worth US$16 billion) and those of corrupt bureaucrats and military businesses. 'One of these proposals has been accepted already taxes on luxury goods,' explained Sujatmiko. 'These measures are needed to create a fund that can maintain state subsidies for essential services.' On the prospects of a trial for Suharto, Sujatmiko says: 'There are protests by the student movement now almost every day in Indonesia. These actions have included attempts to occupy Suharto's house and demand that he face a "people's tribunal", because they have no confidence in the Indonesian justice system. A fair trial of Suharto and corrupt bureaucrats, as well as of generals responsible for human rights abuses, cannot possibly take place under the current justice system. Cleaning up the justice system is potentially a very radical thing. It cannot be achieved simply by replacing judges. The system itself needs to change.' On the possibility of an international tribunal to try the generals responsible for the violence in East Timor, Sujatmiko observes: 'The UN itself is not demanding an international tribunal, but is there any alternative? We support a campaign for an international tribunal because it has the potential not only to address past injustices but will draw attention to the political role of the armed forces in Indonesia. While the factions in parliament have agreed not to give seats to the armed forces in the next parliamentary term, the structural issue of the role of the military through the territorial command system is yet to be addressed.' Communism In recent weeks, a Wahid proposal to lift the 1966 ban on communism has stirred much public debate. Wahid now indicates he wants to un-ban communism while retaining a ban on the Indonesian Communist Party PKI. More than a million PKI members and sympathisers were killed following the Suharto regime's seizure of power in a military coup in October 1965. 'Wahid has issued a statement of apology to the PKI,' explained Sujatmiko. 'He has no phobia about any ideology, he gives permission for people to live with any faith or ideology in Indonesia he is liberal-minded. But both conservative Islamic forces and the military are opposed to this, including forces inside the cabinet such as the religious Crescent and Star Party PBB, and Amien Rais who chairs PAN, while Vice-President Megawati is silent on the issue. Opposition within Wahid's own cabinet has pressed him to concede to maintaining the ban on the PKI.' Sujatmiko notes that 'while the unbanning of communism would enable the distribution of Marxist literature - the Communist Manifesto, for example - the question of whether we would openly campaign for socialism is a tactical one. We need to give a socialist perspective, not as something that is attainable in the near future or programmatic in the short term, but as our longer-term objective. More immediately we must continue to campaign for "people's democracy", because this lays the basis for raising consciousness. We are defending ourselves as a leftist party with one goal: promoting popular-oriented democracy and socialism in the context of capitalism as it exists in Indonesia now.' Under the New Order, the PRD experienced severe repression. Its members were hunted down, jailed, kidnapped and killed. I asked Sujatmiko: 'What is it for you that commits you to remain a PRD activist, in what you describe as a "leftist party"?' 'Commitment,' he responded. 'It is not something that can be explained in a few words. It has to be explained in deeds. You have to look for the answer in practical experience.' 'Since the very beginning the PRD has been built on a solid theoretical, ideological base that is absent in Indonesia's non-government organisations or other political parties. Most other parties are built for running their chairperson for the presidency. We have been building the PRD in the context of the ongoing struggle of the mass movement, the people's movement. So for us the existence of the PRD does not depend on the objective political situation,' he explains. 'Democracy or not, we are still there.' 'We draw on the lessons of the past in Indonesia in revolutionary struggles against Dutch colonialism. We draw on the lessons of people's movements around the world: if you want something worthwhile you have to pay for it. You may have to go without, to live in prison, in order to win the bigger freedom for the people you want to defend. If you live in a society where exploitation is blatant, naked and very repressive, then your decision to fight for the greater liberty of all by reducing your own personal liberty is something logical and can be accepted not just by rational logic but by our own consciousness.' Nick Everett is a member of the Sydney committee of Asiet (email asiet@asiet.org.au, or visit www.asiet.org.au). Inside Indonesia 63: Jul - Sep 2000

No longer so 'special'

Keating's 'special' relationship with Jakarta was undemocratic. After East Timor, Howard is right not to rush back. Scott Burchill In the first weeks of September last year, 70% of all public buildings and private residences in East Timor were destroyed. TNI and their militia surrogates displaced at least 75% of the population. Between 500 and 2000 East Timorese were slaughtered. These statistics measure the denouement of 25 years of Indonesian state terror in occupied East Timor. They also indicate the scale of Canberra's greatest foreign policy failure since federation. At the very least, one might think that these grim statistics would prompt Australia's foreign policy elite and its adjunct the Jakarta lobby - to rethink an approach to diplomacy with Indonesia which has been so conspicuously discredited. Incredibly, this hasn't happened. Instead, those wanting a rapid return to business as usual with Jakarta are attempting to blame the Howard government for the collapse of the relationship. Within a month of Interfet's deployment in East Timor, which finally brought the killings to an end, the editor of The Australian believed it was time for Canberra 'to withdraw from the military leadership role' in East Timor, because 'an ongoing military presence by Australia could hinder the peace process by continuing to antagonise militia groups'. Fortunately for the people of East Timor, his request was ignored. The foreign editor of The Australian, Greg Sheridan, was also keen to 'make up' with Jakarta as soon as possible. Reflecting his employer's distaste for foreign policy driven by 'humanitarian and moralistic concerns' (Rupert Murdoch), Sheridan believed that the cause of the problem was Mr Howard's regrettable habit of listening to the views of his constituents: 'The government's worst statement was the prime minister saying in parliament recently that he wanted foreign policy to be in step with public opinion'. Veteran Indonesia analyst Bruce Grant also identified Mr Howard as the problem. According to Grant, the prime minister is seen as 'unsympathetic to cultures and aspirations other than his own', a character trait that apparently puts him sharply at odds with leaders in Beijing, Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur. Howard is 'suspect' in Asia because he is a monarchist, lacks 'an emotional commitment to the fortunes of the region', and loves cricket 'which does not help in Indonesia'. Grant doesn't explain the perils inherent in Indonesia's bilateral relations with other cricket-playing nations such as India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, nor does he note the damage done to ties with Kuala Lumpur when Malaysia hosted a cricket tournament during the last Commonwealth Games. Cultural deference is clearly Grant's recommended strategy for engaging with Asia. The onus is on Australia, and only Australia, to change its ways. There is no suggestion of reciprocity from the region, even in the light of last year's horror in East Timor. According to ANU Indonesia specialist Harold Crouch, Mr Howard's response to the terror in East Timor last year, rather than the slaughter itself, 'was offensive to many Indonesians'. The prime minister has a limited cultural understanding of Australia's great northern neighbour and 'doesn't quite know how to convey things to Indonesians', he says - true enough as messages such as 'stop the killing' clearly fell on deaf ears in Jakarta last September. 'Provocative' Former diplomat Tony Kevin also worried about Australia's 'provocative' behaviour last year. 'Indonesian military and strategic elites will not quickly forgive or forget how Australian foreign policy cynically exploited their weak interim president in order to manoeuvre Indonesia into a no-win situation', says Kevin. If only John Howard stopped basking in 'jingoistic self-satisfaction over East Timor' and said sorry, bridges with Indonesia could be mended. More recently, professional Asianists have sought to engender a moral panic about the current state of Australia's relationships with the region by claiming that John Howard's intervention in East Timor is indicative of a broader rejection of regional engagement. What they really mean is that Howard is ignoring the specific rules of engagement that they have drafted for successive Australian governments. Even more disturbing, the coalition isn't seeking their wise counsel. According to his critics, Howard has disengaged Australia from the region, repudiating 'the Australia project in Asia' (Stephen Fitzgerald), painstakingly nurtured by every Australian prime minister since Whitlam. Emblematic of this has been the collapse of bilateral ties with Jakarta: 'Forty years of bipartisan effort to build up a relationship with Indonesia have been seriously eroded by recent events', argues Richard Woolcott, without detailing these 'events' or specifying the responsibility Jakarta bears for the downturn. 'The relationship has been destroyed?. Indonesians feel betrayed by Australia', laments Rawdon Dalrymple, who already looks back at the Suharto years with a nostalgia unlikely to be shared by the victims of the dictatorship: 'I fear we shall not see the like of him [Suharto] again'. According to leading Sinologist Stephen Fitzgerald, 'in the game of self-identifying regions' Australia must 'commit to and find acceptance in Asia'. Our 'fundamental problem is that while we may have come to mouth the sentiment of belonging to the region, we have done too little to belong in human terms or to make the necessary cultural and intellectual adjustment'. Under the old orthodoxy, Asia was seen as an exclusive club which Canberra must seek to join being left out would be 'a disaster for Australia'. Our need for belonging, however, brings with it obligations of membership which require us to alter our ethical and cultural outlook. The price of admission to the Asia club is never explicitly conceded, but by implication it includes the sublimation of our European political heritage, a less assertive commitment to universal human rights, and a greater sense of cultural deference to Asian sensitivities. But does Asia see itself this way, as a club? If not, should we? An alternative explanation for recent policy changes is that the Howard government is reflecting a popular unease with the rules of Asian engagement previously set by Australia's foreign policy elite though not the need for engagement per se. This discomfort dovetails with the prime minister's personal ambivalence about Asia, which is partly based on ignorance and partly on an exaggerated sense of the importance of cultural differences in international politics. Howard believes that the Keating government's style of Asian engagement was elitist and lacking in domestic popular support, hence it was ultimately driven underground. In 1995 both the intention to negotiate and the content of the Australia-Indonesia security agreement was withheld from the public until after it was signed an unusual departure from the concept of 'due process'. Howard is perhaps understating the need for government leadership in this area of public policy, but he has correctly identified a widening cleavage between elite and popular perceptions of how Australia should present itself to the region. Many Australians believe they can be equal partners in Asia without sacrificing their political or cultural identity: they merely ask to be accepted at face value. Differences between nations and cultures can be respected, they don't need to be resolved or dissolved. Convergence is unnecessary. Economic ties prompted by globalising forces, for example, are rarely dependent on shared values. Australia's most important bilateral trade relationship with Japan was formed at a time when anti-Japanese feelings in Australia were still potent from the Second World War. Many Australians would feel they have little to learn from the legal and political processes in most East Asian societies. New orthodoxy The outlines of a new orthodoxy about events in East Timor last year are becoming clear, at least as far as the Jakarta lobby is concerned. It's a strategic mix of inverted history and national self-flagellation. Despite the absence of any alternative regional responses to the slaughter, Canberra 'took too much ownership of the process' (Greg Sheridan), meaning the East Timorese should have been left to their awful fate. Indonesia has nothing to be sorry about and no reparations to pay. The Howard government, on the other hand, was 'meddling' (Richard Woolcott) in Indonesia's internal affairs, and has been engaged in 'gratuitous displays of jingoism' (Peter Hartcher), as well as 'triumphalism', 'neo-colonialism' and 'latent racism' (Richard Woolcott). According to this re-writing of history, Howard is primarily to blame for the cooling of the bilateral relationship between Canberra and Jakarta because he abandoned his predecessor's 'special relationship' with Indonesia and is personally uncomfortable with regional engagement. An alternative view is that the Howard Government has deliberately distanced itself from what it regards as the supine posture of its predecessor because it believes the public disliked the morally dubious relationship struck between the Keating government and the New Order regime specifically, and what it saw as an 'over-accommodation with Asia' more generally. When Canberra cashed the bilateral cheque last September it bounced, despite claims about the 'ballast' which Gareth Evans and Paul Keating allegedly infused into the relationship. For the Jakarta lobby, the bilateral relationship is refracted through the personalities of Howard and Wahid. Leaders' summits are more important than building democratic institutions. According to former diplomat Duncan Campbell, the lobby is 'making a ritual study of the entrails of Wahid's spasmodic performance divining how Javanese, and how much of an expression of Asian values it all is'. This is simply replacing the Suharto cult with the Wahid cult, a strategy which promises to repeat the mistakes of the past. Howard, however, is unimpressed with Wahid's unpredictable and erratic performance, and is unsure that he yet commands support across the spectrum of Javanese elite opinion. The prime minister sees no need for an urgent restoration of good relations and is prepared to wait to deal with Jakarta on his terms. In the meantime he would be well advised to offer tangible support to those nascent democratic institutions which will embed a more liberal political and civic culture in Indonesia. This is much more important than the atmospherics of leaders' meetings. Scott Burchill (burchill@deakin.edu.au) teaches international relations at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. Inside Indonesia 63: Jul - Sep 2000

Muchtar Pakpahan interview

Terry Symonds interviews Muchtar Pakpahan How important are international links to you? Solidarity among the union movement is very important, whatever their own ideology. There are also a few Australian businesses in Indonesia, particularly in mining, so it is important that our unions fight together for solidarity. What was SBSI's stand on East Timor? My union and I myself were the first to fight for a referendum for East Timor - it was one reason Suharto put me in jail, as a 'subversive'. Before, I wanted East Timor to become one nation with us, but the people of East Timor decided to be free, and I honour their decision. For the future, I suppose the trade union role in Indonesia and Australia is to support our friends in East Timorese trade unions to build democracy, rule of law, justice and human rights in East Timor. What role did the SBSI play in Indonesia's democratisation? The SBSI was involved in bringing reformasi to Indonesia, and in electing the current president, Gus Dur. The role of the SBSI for the future is to support the government, as long as it still supports reformasi. How much change has there been for workers? It's not easy yet for us to organise. In Riau, two leaders of my union were sent to jail after striking to demand a wage increase. The police and FSPSI, the former government union, joined with the military to intimidate my members and send them to jail. Such cases are going on in a number of provinces. What do you think of the current Minister of Manpower? Bomer Pasaribu was involved in labour rights violations, particularly since 1985 when he became secretary-general of the FSPSI. Then as president of that union he twice was involved organising demonstrations to insist that the government punish me. When he became commissioner of Jamsostek, the company which administers social insurance for workers, the company was full of scandals. He 'marked up' the budget. He was corrupt, and the new attorney general is still investigating him. We would like international unions to insist that President Gus Dur replace Bomer Pasaribu, for the international good appearance of Indonesian workers. His is still the 'New Order' appearance. What is the future for the SBSI? First, we want to reform the labour laws produced by 32 years of New Order government. Now, there are no laws to protect workers - all the laws protect companies and the military. Second, we want many officials replaced, particularly in the military, police and the Department of Manpower. Third, we want to strengthen my union through education and training. By the end of 2001, we aim to have at least a million due-paying members. Finally, discrimination about race (Chinese and non-Chinese) and religion (Muslim and non-Muslim) is rising here. I believe that only the trade union movement can build real democracy, rule of law, human rights and anti discrimination. Inside Indonesia 63: Jul-Sep 2000

62: Aceh's pain-a future of war or peace?

Apr - Jun 2000 Politics and human rights Aceh's pain-a future of war or peace?A human tragedy is occuring in Aceh that can't be ignored - Gerry van Klinken From heroes to rebels Aceh: Jakarta's other colony? - Sylvia Tiwon  Whither Aceh? Updating events in the troubled province - Ed Aspinall A widow's notes Yet another violent death in a small Acehnese village - Syarifah Mariati The structure of military abuses Lying or semantics? A need to understand military definitions - Doug Kammen More than meets the eye A close look at the new president - Greg Barton The Banyuwangi murders Examining the deaths of 100 black magic practitioners - Jason Brown George McT Kahin (1918-2000) Goodbye to America's foremost Indonesian scholar - Daniel S Lev Society and economy The new Timor Gap What will Australia do now? - Geoff McKee Women workers still exploited The publicity hasn't dramatically changed Nike's policies - Peter Hancock Environment The world is not (green) enough Trying to slow climate change - Agus P Sari Box - What is climate change? Agus P Sari Sinking carbon in Kalimantan CDM could help Indonesia's forests - Merrilyn Wasson Culture Semsar Siahaan - Hero into exile Where to now for the anti-Suharto artist? - Astri Wright Regulars Newsbriefs The net Bookshop  Inside Indonesia 62: Apr-Jun 2000

61: Abdurrahmin Wahid wins the top job

Jan - Mar 2000 Politics and human rights After fear, before justice Australia and Indonesia in 100 years - Richard Tanter End of the Jakartan empire? Reflecting on the Wahid presidency - Michael van Langenberg Eight surprises Profiles of eight cabinet members Nationalism 50 years ago the world embraced Indonesia - Goenawan Mohamad Out of the tiger's teeth The inside story of East Timor's ballot - Helene van Klinken Humanity, not fascism! An Indonesian eyewitness to East Timor's destruction - Yeni Rosa Damayanti Why West Papua deserves another chance The 1969 UN ballot broke all the rules - Sam Blay West Papua in 1999 An urban movement pushes for change - Nina FitzSimons Aceh's causes Conversation with an activist - Maree Keating Society and economy The case for debt relief An Indonesian NGO appeal - Binny Buchori and Sugeng Bahagijo Business and pleasure Indonesia's super-wealthy love their money - Veven Wardhana and Herry Barus Environment Gutted by greed Illegal loggin in Indonesia's parks - Julian Newman Culture Back to the future Democracy in old South Sulawesi manuscripts - Elizabeth Morrell Mao's ghost in Golkar A 1960s slogan survives - Julie Shackford-Bradley The language of the gods A playwright backgrounds his creation - Louis Nowra Regulars Editorial Newsbriefs Standard Tetum-English dictionary Review: How standard? - Catharina van Klinken The green iguana Review: Goodfellow has drawn on his deep knowledge of Indonesia to excavate from daily events the realities that lie behind them - Ron Witton Bookshop Inside Indonesia 61: Jan-Mar 2000

60: East Timor has it's say

Oct - Dec 1999 Politics and human rights On the mend The election renews some hopes - Laine Berman Sex, money, power Tabloids go sensational - John Olle Fifty years ago Sukarno flashback - Damien Kingsbury Aceh's failed election Australian team finds no euphoria - Vanessa Johanson Box - The sultan will be Dr Hasan Tiro Interview with "Free Aceh" fighter - Vanessa Johanson Lost and found How the world rediscovered the Timor cause - Geoffrey Gunn Whisky friends PNG military and TNI get together - Andrew Kilvert What caused the Ambon violence? A corrupt civil service is to blame - Gerry van Klinken Banda burns Fear and hatred spreads in the Moluccas - Phillip Winn A peaceful road to freedom Riau wants freedom and more money - Freek Colombijn Society and economy This complex crisis Indonesia's crisis two years on - John Maxwell Environment Dirty landlord Local views on Sulawesi's Inco mine - Roger Moody Revisiting Inco Reformasi hits Sulawesi's 'Freeport' - Kathryn Robinson Culture Star wars Presidential PR Indonesian style - Marshall Clark Teachers do it Indonesian teachers get together - Lee Herden Travel Sumatra by bus From bottom to top by bus - Jim Della-Giacoma Regulars Editorial Your say Newsbriefs The politics of environment in Southeast Asia-Resources and resistance Review:A new, engaging collection of writing on environmental disputes in Southeast Asia - Vanessa Johansen From the place of the dead-the epic struggles of Bishop Belo of East Timor Review: Biographies of even undisputed heroes can be problematic - Robin Osbourne The book bridge Review: Lontar books open a window on the hidden lives of ordinary Indonesians - Carl Hennessy Indonesia on the net Resources on two troubled regions: Aceh and Irian Jaya - Ed Aspinall and Iain Wilson Bookshop Inside Indonesia 60: Oct-Dec 1999

59: Elections: For the people , or the parties?

July - Sep 1999 Politics and human rights Escape from the past? The June national elections - Gerry van Klinken Will Indonesia break up? The regions are revolting - Anne Booth The Russian road Indonesia and Russia compared - Anders Uhlin Mobilise or perish Not a good year for student demonstrators - Dave McRae The mayor who fell down the well Reformasi in a country town - Anton Lucas Romo Mangun, activist Tribute to an Indonesian prophet - Nico Schulte Nordholt Indonesians for East Timor Solidarity for self-determination - James Goodman Horta bears the torch The end of a long struggle is in sight - Conan Elphicke Society and economy Forgotten refugees of Buton Muslim refugees from Ambon - Elizabeth Fuller Collins Flesh trade of Sumatra Trafficking in young girls - Ahmad Sofian Wheels for awareness Fiona and Mia's big bikeride - Helena Spyrou Blacksmith boom The crisis is not all bad news - Lea Jellinek Culture Trepang The Aborigine-Indonesia trepang link - Alan Whykes Travel Hiking Timor's tops Mountain climbing in East Timor - Mike Davis Regulars Editorial Newsbriefs On the net Bookshop Inside Indonesia 59: Jul-Sep 1999

Tapol troubles

when will they end? Tapol is short for tahanan politik, or political detainee. It refers most often to the 1.5 million alleged communist sympathisers who were detained after the coup attempt of 30 September 1965 (there are lesser numbers of tapol from later pogroms). These were the survivors - between 200,000 and 500,000 were massacred. Only a handful were ever sentenced and are referred to as napol, narapidana politik or political criminals. About 10,000 tapol and napol were shipped to Buru Island after 1969 and not released until 1979, when international pressure grew too strong. Even those detained only briefly were stigmatised by the letters ET, ex-tapol, on their identity card. There are still 13 in gaols in Indonesia, some still with pending death sentences. Before being freed, tapol and napol had to sign a declaration that they would not demand compensation. Despite a government order to return their possessions, in reality nobody has successfully reclaimed their books, land and homes. As late as December 1998, a Jakarta court ruled that Indonesia’s most famous tapol, novelist Pramudya Ananta Toer, could not have the house back that was taken off him by the military in 1965. Tapol/ napol were not permitted: To work in any form of government service, nor in any state-owned corporation, strategic industry, political party, or news media. They were not permitted to become a minister in any religion, a teacher, village head, lawyer, or puppeteer (dalang); To vote or be elected; To obtain a passport and travel overseas, even for medical treatment (some allowance was made for those going to Mecca on pilgrimage); To choose where to live or to move house freely. Ignorant officials made life difficult, and all the procedures cost money; To obtain credit from the bank, even when they fulfill other requirements; To receive the pensions to which they are entitled from their former employers when they were sacked in 1965. They are still required to report regularly and are then given paternalistic ‘guidance’ - the frequency often depending on the whim of the local official. The government greatly feared the moral influence tapol/ napol might have on their family and even friends. For anyone to qualify for employment in the job categories mentioned in 1 above, all candidates had to establish they had a ‘clean environment’ (bersih lingkungan), ie. they were not related to a tapol/ napol. Regulation No.6 of 1976 established the screening process. All close relatives were affected, as well as anyone who may have paid for the education of the tapol/ napol. It was a system of collective punishment. As part of ‘reformasi’, some of these regulations have been lifted - including the ‘clean environment’ rule and the ban on voting. The ET label on identity cards has been officially removed since August 1995. But the communist party remains banned. And there has still been no wholesale amnesty for the 1965 tapol/ napol. Inside Indonesia 58: Apr-Jun 1999

Women's Congress

The Women’s Congress was held in Yogyakarta 14-18 December 1998, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the first All-Indonesia Women’s Congress (Kongres Perempuan Indonesia), which was also held in Yogya in 1928. A committee of five from Jakarta were the main organisers. Among them were Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, Indonesia’s foremost feminist lawyer, and Australian-trained political scientist Chusnul Mar’iyah. The congress was replete with historical resonances. The organisers wanted to hark back to the Kongres Perempuan of 1928, seeing a particular strength in the term perempuan (woman) over wanita (lady, the common New Order term for women). They also wanted to distinguish themselves from Kowani (Kongres Wanita Indonesia), which replaced the original Kongres Perempuan and which was later so thoroughly co-opted by the New Order. Among the historically important figures in attendance was the octogenarian S K Trimurti, a nationalist, the first woman to hold a ministerial position in Indonesia (1947-48), and a national treasure. More remarkably, the first speaker at the seminar was Sulami – a former leader of Gerwani, incarcerated for almost two decades and speaking publicly for the first time since 1965. Chusnul Mar’iyah in her opening speech stressed that the issues of most concern to women should be placed on the political agenda of all the parties that will contest Indonesia’s first real election since 1955 this year. Nursyahbani Katjasungkana spoke of the need to recognise differences between the various groups of women. Three particularly divisive issues surfaced on the second and third days of the congress. These were the inclusion of Gerwani and thus the legitimisation of communism, the inclusion of lesbians, and finally and most contentiously the centralism of Jakarta. There were strident debates and several disruptive tactics. A walk-out aimed to register a protest against what some saw as the Jakarta feminists’ overly radical and ‘fashionable’ agenda. It became so difficult for the Jakarta committee that an alternative committee of three non-Jakarta delegates had to be elected to chair the congress proceedings. At one point in the proceedings a labourer, baby at her breast, took the microphone demanding to be heard, despite question time being over. Very eloquently she drew attention to the struggle of workers to find a voice in such a forum. This was not to be just a talk-fest for the Jakarta elite. Many felt disappointed that the congress was unable to fully express the feeling of solidarity with which it had been originally conceived. But most felt it was an achievement to have come together as women from all over Indonesia and from all walks of life. For the first time in a generation they were able to express their views without constraints. The networking that went on was probably of far greater importance than the congress itself. A presidium consisting of 14 representatives was elected with Nursyahbani as the Secretary General. This presidium, responsible for implementing decisions of the congress, comprises all groups represented at the congress, including farmers, labourers, lesbians and prostitutes. This is the first time that the claims of some of these groups as women have been recognised. Inside Indonesia 58: Apr-Jun 1999

A hero passes on

Y B Mangunwijaya (always known as Romo Mangun) died of a heart attack on 10 February 1999, moments after presenting a paper at a Jakarta symposium. On 6 May 1999 he would have turned 70. In Yogyakarta where he was buried, and in the Jakarta Cathedral beforehand, thousands came to mourn, among them President Habibie and Sri Sultan Hamengkubowono X. There were street kids, politicians, military officers, students, and East Timor activists. Mangun was known as an architect, novelist, artist, social worker, parish priest, but above all as someone who always sided with the poor. In 1989 he took up the cause of farmers displaced by the giant Kedung Ombo dam. In 1984 he went on a hunger strike on behalf of squatters living under the bridge at Yogyakarta’s Code River. He always wanted Catholics to do the best for the downtrodden, but never in order to catholicise them. He once told a Muslim friend: ‘Be a pious Muslim’. Most of all he was a teacher. His Basic Education Institute (DED) focused on primary age children. He had many friends among the young. Damairia Pakpahan, one of the young people who often accompanied him, wrote: ‘I feel he gave me an inner toughness with the stories of his own life as we traveled around Central Java, or in our work at Code River. Amidst our often depressing struggles he opened a critical dimension’. (Inside Indonesia interviewed him in edition no.24, October 1990). Inside Indonesia 58: Apr-Jun 1999

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