TRUE STORY PIECE: The Sawangan Incident, 2001 by Max Lane

I never liked sitting in the room at seminars and conferences where I was the organiser. I had organised some very big conferences, with speakers who were not just boring academics, but national liberation leaders from East Timor, communist radicals from India, trade union militants from the United States, men and women who had been in and out of jail and torture houses in Indonesia, poets and dramatists. But even so, I still hated being inside listening. Nervous tension. Would things go wrong – but then if I was sitting outside I had to be nearby in case something did go wrong.

So it was in Sawangan, West Java, Indonesia in 2001. I was not an organiser actually, but had been helping out. I shared the stress.

One drop and then two drops of sweat splashed on the table top, and I wiped them away and then my forehead. It was hot, even shaded under the traditional shaped roof of the outdoor eating area next to the seminar room. There were only three of us there. The rest were inside in the seminar room, listening to speakers on neo-liberalism in the Asia Pacific. About 150 people, including thirty or so foreigners from 13 countries. I could hear the voice of the speakers, but not their words. Sounds. I had been chatting with the two Indonesian participants outside who were also seminar avoiders. One was a lawyer who was there just in case. He was from the famous Legal Aid Foundation of Jakarta. The discussion paused.


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ARTIKEL ANALISA: Jarak Tipis di antara Kedua Calon Presiden Indonesia oleh Max Lane

(Artikel ini diterbitkan dalam bahasa Inggeris di ISEAS PERSPECTIVES pada tanggal Juli 4, 2014, sebelum pemilihan presiden berlangsung pada tanggal Juli 9. Artikel ini diterjemahkan sukarela oleh Mohamad Zaki Hussein. Terima kasih.)

Setelah periode lobi pra-kampanye yang panjang untuk membentuk koalisi politik, kampanye pemilihan presiden telah berjalan selama tiga minggu. Sudah ada tiga debat di antara kedua calon (dengan tiap debat berfokus pada satu topik spesifik) dan “dialog” antara kedua calon presiden dengan Kamar Dagang dan Industri Indonesia (KADIN) yang disiarkan secara nasional oleh televisi. Terdapat banyak kegiatan ketika para calon presiden dan juru bicara mereka menenggelamkan diri dalam kampanye; papan iklan dan reklame ada di mana-mana.


Pembelahan yang ada di elit Indonesia sudah cukup jelas. Kedua calon, Joko Widodo (dari PDI-P) dan Prabowo Subianto (dari GERINDRA), mewakili dua jalan ke masa depan (atau kembali ke masa lalu) yang sungguh berbeda bagi Indonesia, tetapi keduanya muncul dari elit berkuasa Indonesia. Widodo berasal dari elit daerah baru yang tumbuh subur dalam eksperimen Indonesia dengan desentralisasi. Prabowo sangat terkait dengan elit lama Orde Baru dan, sekalipun ia sendiri sangat kaya, juga merupakan kakak dari seorang pengusaha yang sangat kaya. Ia adalah mantan menantu Suharto dan anak mantan menteri Suharto, yang juga seorang pengusaha kaya.[1] Di saat ini, kebanyakan jajak pendapat mengungguli Widodo dari Prabowo dengan angka antara 5% dan 7%, dengan 20-30% pemilih yang belum menentukan pilihannya. Widodo, meski masih unggul dalam jajak pendapat, tampak telah kehilangan keunggulan yang ia miliki sebelumnya di tahun ini, ketika beberapa jajak pendapat menempatkannya pada 70%.

GSPB militerisme

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ARTICLE: Gap Narrows between Candidates in Indonesian Presidential Elections by MAX LANE

After an extensive pre-campaign lobbying period to form political coalitions, the presi- dential election campaigning has been ongoing for three weeks. There have been three nationally televised debates between the two candidates (with each debate focusing on a specific topic) and a nationally televised “dialogue” between the presi- dential candidates and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (KADIN). There has been a flurry of activities as the presidential candidates and their spokespersons im- mersed themselves in campaigning; billboards and advertising are everywhere. It has become fairly clear what the division within the Indonesian elite is about. The two candidates, Joko Widodo (from PDI-P) and Prabowo Subianto (from GERINDRA), represent two quite different paths into the future (or back to the past) for Indonesia, but both emerge from within the Indonesian ruling elite. Widodo harks from the new regional elite that blossomed with Indonesia’s experiment with decen-tralization. Prabowo is very much tied to the old elite of the New Order and, while very wealthy in his own right, is also the brother of an extremely wealthy businessman. He is a former son-in-law of Suharto and the son of a former Suharto minister, who is also a wealthy businessman.1 At the moment, most polls put Widodo between 5% and 7% ahead of Prabowo, with between 20-30% still undecided. Widodo, although still ahead in the polls, appears to have lost the massive lead he had earlier in the year, when some polls had him at 70%. 


ARTICLE: The politics of the Indonesian Presidential elections 2014 by Max Lane

According to most Indonesian polls, former provincial businessman, mayor of Solo and governor of Jakarta Joko Widodo has lost a substantial lead to former general Prabowo Subianto in the current general election campaign. The two are now running neck and neck.

Prabowo is responsible for the kidnapping and torture of more than 20 pro-democracy activists in 1997-98. He continues to defend his actions, although he denies kidnapping 14 of those who were disappeared. He is also held responsible for a massacre and human rights violations in East Timor.

I think he has made up ground because he has repeatedly attacked the foreign domination of the Indonesian economy, claiming that it has caused massive leakage of wealth and is responsible for the poverty of Indonesia’s 200 million non-middle class masses.