Film Review: the miracle of AVATAR

According to Miranda Devine, one of Australia’s loony right newspaper commentators, watching AVATAR felt like being “hit with a leftie sledgehammer”. It appears that in America too, the loony right has been severely irked by the immense popularity of James Cameron’s epic hi-tech science fiction film. Devine tips her hat to the talent involved in the visual art of the technological advances in the film; but she can’t stand its ideology. This is the same syndrome exhibited by the US loony right. Devine gives a list of the film’s alleged leftie clichés where she includes “Humans bad”, “Capitalism bad”, “America bad” and “noble savages good”. One example from the US is American loony right commentator John Podhoretz, of the Weekly Standard’s film critic, complaining that the “conclusion does ask the audience to root for the defeat of American soldiers at the hands of an insurgency. So it is a deep expression of anti-Americanism.”

Continue reading “Film Review: the miracle of AVATAR”

Indonesia, the new Pacific solution? Refugee rights and social justice in the Asia Pacific

Public forum:

Indonesia, the new Pacific solution? Refugee rights and social justice in the Asia Pacific

 Date: Tuesday, 08 December 2009 Time: 18:00 – 20:00

A discussion forum with Pamela Curr and Setyo Budi Presented by Indonesia Solidarity Forum and the University of Melbourne Indonesian program

Pamela Curr – Long term refugee rights activist and the Campaign Coordinator at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre will be speaking on “Australia: externalising borders and aping the Gaddafi/ Berlusconi agreement. Human rights trampled by political skulduggery. Has Australia lost the plot? What can we do?”

Setyo Budi – Indonesia solidarity activist and presenter on the Asia Pacific Currents show on Radio 3CR will speak on “Indonesian attitudes towards their government’s refugee policy. Continue reading “Indonesia, the new Pacific solution? Refugee rights and social justice in the Asia Pacific”

INDONESIA: Education and social inequality

From the 1986-2006 cohort of students who entered first year of primary school in 1986: 27% did not finish primary school; 55.8% did not finish junior high school; 75.5 did not finish senior high school.  (ESR, World Bank, 2007)

Only 7 % of student who finished school came from the poorest 20% of the population. Only 1% of university students came from the bottom 20%.

70% of all university students came from the top 20% wealth-wise. Continue reading “INDONESIA: Education and social inequality”

INDONESIA: The President has dismissed the head of the national police

Why has President Yudhoyono not dismissed the head of the Indonesian national police as a response to the scandal the confrontation, or turf war, between the National Police and the Corruption Eradication Commission? Why has no leader of any parliamentary party a clear and strong call for such a dismissal?

Perhaps they all remember what happened in May-June, 2001 when President Abdurrahman (Gus Dur) did the same to General Bimantoro, National Police Chief at that time. Perhaps they remember what happened to President Abdurahman soon afterwards. As a reminder of those days< I reprint some newspaper reports at that time.

Rally of security forces sends a `mutiny’ message to Wahid

South China Morning Post – June 6, 2001 Continue reading “INDONESIA: The President has dismissed the head of the national police”

INDONESIA: Documentary review: “Tjidurian 19”.

Tjidurian 19, directed by Lasja Susatyo and M. Anduh Aziz, screned Jakarta, November 17, 2009

This film is about some of the people who were leading writers and artists in the Peoples Cultural Institute (LEKRA) in the 1960s. LEKRA was aligned with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), and like the PKI was banned after 1965. Many of its leading figures were imprisoned for lengthy periods and tortured. Their writings were banned. In fact, they are still banned today even though since 1998 and the fall of Suharto these works have been easier to buy in bookshops.

The film focuses on those LEKRA writers and artists who worker out of the LEKRA office in Jakarta, a house at Jl. Tjidurian.

The film is easy to watch and flows well. The personalities of the various writers come across clearly, often their emotions stirred by memories. The film is also interspersed with clips from newsreel or official government footage from the period before 1965. The focus of the film makes it clear that one purpose of the project was to counter the demonisation of LEKRA writers that took place during the Suharto period and which has a strong legacy.  More than 1 million people were murdered; thousands more tortured and imprisoned for up to 14 years without trial. And there still has been no process to either end the demonisation, or to tell the truth about these events to all those who were brought up under the New Order regime who systematically told lies for 33 years. The efforts of the producers, the film-makers and the participants to defy this demonisation should be supported by all. However, I think the dominant framework in which this de-demonisation takes place does not make good political education. Continue reading “INDONESIA: Documentary review: “Tjidurian 19”.”

INDONESIA: Parliament represents less than half the people

“The number of voters represented by the nine political parties that obtained seats in the national House of Representatives (DPR) following the 2009 legislative elections is less that who are not represented.” Kompas, November 13, 2009

James Balowski from the APSN website has translated and circulated the following KOMPAS newspaper article. For more background to this issue see my series of articles on the Indonesian election. Click here for the first one (Gap between elite and people widens as Indonesian elections approach). Others can be found in the INDONESIAN POLITICS section of the pages menu in the right hand sidebar of this blog, e.g.

Anti-neoliberal demagogery fails to enliven elections; Indonesian elections allow militarists into the game; It’s a cult of personality among candidates who have no personality; No surprises in Presidential elections

The Kompas article:

House represents less than 50 percent of voting population

Kompas – November 13, 2009

Jakarta — “The number of voters represented by the nine political parties that obtained seats in the national House of Representatives (DPR) following the 2009 legislative elections is less that who are not represented.”

Continue reading “INDONESIA: Parliament represents less than half the people”

Film Review: 2012

Judging from the news coming in from the US box office, this film will make a lot of money for its investors. Such is the irrationality of contemporary society. As a commodity to be marketed, of course, it has everything you need. The main thing though is the promise that you will see the biggest ever disaster special effects. While previous movie volcanoes and earthquakes destroy California, or sink it, or see the US east coast flooded by a tsunami all the way to the White House or a movie meteor has wiped out Paris or London, in this film you get to see, so the marketing promises, the whole world wiped out. 2012 is the year that the Mayans predicted the Sun would destroy the world – or at least it is that year, I presume, when you convert the Mayan calendar to the one we use today.

2012_(film)_300  Continue reading “Film Review: 2012”