ARTICLE: Indonesia’s 2014 Legislative Elections: The Dilemmas of “Elektabilitas” Politics by Max Lane

On April 9, 2014, around 200,000 people stood for election to 20,257 seats in the Regional and Provincial Legislative Councils (DPRD), the House of Representatives (DPR) and the Regional Representatives Council (DPD). Of these, 6,607 candidates from 12 parties competed for the 560 seats in the DPR, while the remainder ran for the 132 seats in the DPD, the 2,137 provincial seats and the 17,560 regional seats. There are 1,344 new seats, mostly in the regional parliaments and 123 in provincial parliaments.
One week after the elections, more and more reports have surfaced of cheating during vote counting. Most of the reports are about switching counting of ballot papers for one candidate to another for money. This is possible with the bribery of election officials. Initially, complaints came from candidates who had been unable to mobilise enough supporters to be scrutinisers at the very large number of voting centres in each constituency. Their ballot papers were especially vulnerable. If those who lost votes due to cheating can document this, there may be a round of court cases disputing votes in different constituencies. It is difficult to know the extent of cheating at this time,


ON BALI: four pieces (2 poems, 2 essays).



Green, deep green
Chlorophyll blinds the eyes keen
Black earth, brown aches
Sticky mud between toes cakes.

Tears irrigate the picture
painted under the labouring harvest’s stricture
Paddy, palms, coconuts, frangipanis
Creations of peasant hands canny.

Rice sold and eaten
Suffices to keep deep want beaten
But for the future there are no savings
School, culture, dignity unsatisfied cravings.

Green beauty massages the soul
A rested spirit is the tourist’s dole.
The holy dollar has bought the view
Aching fingers sculpt paradise for the few.

Melbourne, 2010


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POEM: Fried Rice (Nasi Goreng).


We were talking about food last night and a memory came back to me – for the umpteenth time.

Narrow and dark and most of all hot. If I ended up at a back table, 3 or 4 metres inside, the sweat would pour from forehead and my hair would be wet enough to comb again in just 20 seconds. And the prickly heat itchiness would invade. Better to get a table at front, and visit only at night. So narrow, maybe 2 or 3 metres, and even narrower at the front – maybe one metre or 1.5 metres. It was narrower at the front because half the width was taken up with the kitchen. Sitting at the front one was almost being on the footpath. Sabang Street, in central Jakarta, in 1969 was a fun street. It was almost all restaurants, cafes and other eateries, with a row of…

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ARTICLE – After THE ACT OF THE KILLING: Indonesia, 1965: rehabilitating victims, rehabilitating revolution by Max Lane


Indonesia and 1965: rehabilitating victims, rehabilitating revolution under a counter-revolutionary state.

Max Lane

Text of notes used for talk delivered at Conference: “After The Act of Killing: Historical Justice and the 1965-66 Mass Killings in Indonesia”, University of Melbourne and Sekolah Tinggi Filsafat, Jakarta, August 30, 2013.

 It is very heartening to see the increased and more open discussion of the 1965-68 mass killings of supporters of President Sukarno and the Indonesian Left, including the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI),  internationally and within Indonesia. The stark and cruel brutality of the 1965 murders revealed by the confessions in the film THE ACT OF KILLING has played a very important role in provoking this discussion. The public release of the main findings of the KOMNASHAM Report affirming the systematic role of the state and the military in the killings and the passing of this report to the current Indonesian government has also been…

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Poem” The Wretched’s Choir”

Listening to the original religious version again. Would like to here these words sung to the music.


Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That wakes a wretch like me
I once was lost, myself now found
Was fooled, but now I see.

T’was to fight that taught our hearts of fear
Yet to fight do fears relieve
The wretched’s choir did then arise
The world to be the prize.

Max Lane, May, 2010, Melbourne, Australia

(Apologies and thank you to John Newton who wrote a beautiful hymn.)

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The trains are the chariots of the people
Carriages ripple with tired tongues of many lands
A lonely man sick with nostalgia for fireworks in the dark
sits across from us and talks intensely
A head on my shoulder whispers new year love talk
The train jerks forwards, happy new year chattily announces the driver
Hands squeeze
Young people hug
Workers sleepy, gaze
Stations come and go