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”

Review: Refugees and Rebels: Indonesian Exiles in Wartime Australia, by Jan Lingard

Refugees and Rebels: Indonesian Exiles in Wartime Australia, by Jan Lingard (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2008)

Jan Lingard’s book, Refugees and Rebels – Indonesian Exiles in Wartime Australia is a humane, interesting, informative and readable book. Every person interested in the history of the Australian and/or Indonesian people should read this book. It should be on the reading lists of high school and university history of Australia courses. The book describes and analyses the experiences of  5000s Indonesians living, working and engaging in political struggle in both cities and country towns in Australia between 1942 and 1947, the period of Japanese occupation of their country and the beginning of the armed struggle for Indonesian independence which started soon after the proclamation of Independence on August 17, 1945.


 The book describes and analyses events which are precious to the collective memory of the Australian people, and in particular to the Australian working class.  The collective class memory, and even the national memory, of the events in this book has been mostly erased, and where that has proved awkward, domesticated. Continue reading “Review: Refugees and Rebels: Indonesian Exiles in Wartime Australia, by Jan Lingard”

THE PHILIPPINES: “Seconds lost in Manila, 4 July, 1987”

15 October, 2007

It was a less than ordinary building on an ordinary road, an unattractive street despite the trees that lined it. Yes, it was an unattractive avenue adorned with buildings constructed on the cheap and for function only. Cables and wires of all kinds were strung from pole to pole, and building to building, a tangled mess, making even looking up at the sky unattractive. Around the trees was asphalt and concrete and that stretched out across six lanes, along which racket making and black smoke spewing vehicles traveled. There were not even jeepneys on this road, which at least would have added splashes of colour and trashy pictures to the narrow panorama of asphalt and cement and cables and grey, square buildings. The building was an embassy in Manila so it was fronted with a high iron fence of slats. It had a narrow and guarded gate as an entrance. A few trees jutted above the fence. It seemed a low building, square and flat and unattractive like the street. The hotel across the street and along a few buildings was also very plain, although the large glass panes that ran along the front marked it off from the cement and brick of the other buildings. Inside it was also plain, although with carpeted swirling stairs up to the first floor. The first floor was mainly function rooms, carpeted with just a few cream coloured upholstered sofa chairs in the corners. There were no functions on so the area was quiet. And here also the wall facing out onto to the street was made of glass. Continue reading “THE PHILIPPINES: “Seconds lost in Manila, 4 July, 1987””