IBRAHIM ISA'S – SELECTED NEWS AND VIEWS
Thirsday, 14 january 2010*
A FORGOTTEN PIECE OF HISTORY
BOOK BANNING IN INDONESIA . . . JOHN ROOSA
MULYANI FELT SHE WAS FOOLED . . .
HOUSE COMMITTEE BEGINS QUESTENING J. KALLA
ICW – SUPREME COURT RULING S DISCOURAGE FIGHT AGAINST GRAFT
RI’s IDEPENDENCE DAY – A FORGOTTEN PIECE OF HISTSORY
Karina Soemarwoto* , Leiden, The Netherlands | Thu, 01/14/2010 9:24 AM | Opinion
On Nov. 15, 2009, a seminar was held at the Central Museum of Utrecht, the Netherlands. Besides its title, “Images of the Truth”, what made the event interesting was that it analyzed the Indonesian
independence movement from a Dutch perspective in the presence of experts on Indonesia, such as Prof. Dr. Nico Schulten Nordholt, as guests.
Had an Indonesian attended the meeting, they would have felt offended at the occasion. If they were familiar with the Dutch view of the issue, only the element of surprise would have vanished.
An expressive attitude on the Dutch behalf created the impression that the demand for independence by the indigenous East Indian population was truly notable only after the Japanese presence and the “occupation” by the Westerners. Occasionally, the view that colonization is beneficial to the occupied population was dropped in.
Sometimes this was done explicitly, for instance by casually mentioning that roads were built during the Dutch presence, and that the VOC traded with the East Indies.
At other times this was done implicitly, for instance by showing Eddy Cahyono’s movie Diantara Masa Lalu dan Masa Sekarang (Between the Past and Present) to end the seminar.
The latter could be interpreted as taking the essence of the movie of its context, creating an offensive implication of Indonesians.
The above forms only one example of an occasion in which Indonesia’s independence is perceived as such. This is not a rare perception of Dutch East Indian history in the Netherlands.
It is important that the Indonesian people devote their attention to Dutch disagreements on the topic of Indonesian independence, simply because the injustices thrust upon them in the past have not been resolved to this very day.
Indonesia declared independence on Aug. 17, 1945, while the Netherlands only recognized Indonesia’s sovereignty on Dec. 27, 1949. In the period in between, laws in the Netherlands were hurriedly amended to allow newly drafted soldiers to be deployed to Indonesia at a younger age, starting 1947.
It is well known that some of these draftees committed actions akin to genocide and war crimes, often referred to as gewelddadige pacificatie (violent pacification), during the politionele acties (political action).
Understandably, it is very unfavorable for today’s Dutch government to apologize for “having
stood on the wrong side of history” (as former Dutch foreign minister Bernard Rudolf Bot formulated in 2005) and recognize that Aug. 17, 1945, was the day Indonesia became a sovereign state.
Had they done so, it would mean the Netherlands had illegally invaded a sovereign state in the period between August 1945 and December 1949, and may have to pay high compensation for all kinds of damage done unto Indonesia and its people.
Yet one may question what right the Netherlands had to send their military to a state that had declared itself independent.
As if the newborn country had not undergone enough turmoil, when the Netherlands finally recognized its sovereignty, Indonesia was made to inherit the debts of the former Dutch East Indies.
The final amount to be paid was more than 4 billion Dutch guilders, which also covered the costs for the politionele acties, paid off from 1950 to 1956.
This amount was almost as much as the money that the Netherlands received from the Marshall Plan. As the amount would have created a leap forward for the Dutch economy, it would have been a significant burden/setback for the newly sovereign nation.
It would be utterly unacceptable to simply forget this past by means of invalid excuses such as “leaving the past behind to aim for the future”, for it is the past that determines the present, and the present that creates the future.
In August 2005, then Dutch foreign minister Bot delivered a speech in which he accepted Indonesia’s Independence Day to be on Aug. 17, 1945.
However, to accept is not to recognize. Bot further stated that the realization existed in the Netherlands that de facto Indonesian sovereignty began in 1945, indicating this statement was not necessarily lawful.
Recognition remains missing. Yet Bot will be granted the Bintang Mahaputra Utama medal at the 2010 Independence Day ceremony, along with another Dutch politician, the VVD (Dutch People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) lawmaker van Baalen.
Indonesian Ambassador to the Netherlands J.E. Habibie was interviewed on the Indonesian TV
show Impact on QTV on March 28, 2008. In the past, including in previous interview, the ambassador repeated that the Dutch government had since 2005 recognized Aug. 17, 1945, to be Indonesian Independence Day.
In the interview, the ambassador also spoke of the very smooth and increasingly friendly relations developing between Indonesia and the Netherlands.
He further said the progressing relations and trade with the Netherlands were beneficial to Indonesia.
The Dutch article “Band met Indonesië Spiegelglad” (Bond with Indonesia Mirror Smooth) from Oct. 13, 2008, stated Bot would be awarded the Bintang Mahaputra Utama particularly because in 2005 “he officially recognized Indonesia’s independence”.
Aanvaard, the Dutch word for “accept”, is repeated several times, whereas erken, the word for “recognize”, is nowhere to be found in the speech that former foreign minister Bot delivered at the Indië commemoration at the Hague on Aug. 15, 2005.
The recipients of the Bintang Mahaputra Utama become our national heroes, whom our soldiers salute with great honor. Given the current situation, such a gesture on Indonesia’s behalf is an inappropriate excess of intimacy; a motion of appreciation way beyond necessary, between the two countries involved. With all due respect to Ambassador Habibie, sometimes it becomes ambiguous concerning which team you are rooting for.
The writer is an International Baccalaureate graduate based in the Netherlands.
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BOOK BANNING – A BLAST FROM THE PAST
John Roosa , Vancouver, Canada | Wed, 01/13/2010 9:41 AM | Opinion
When I heard the news that the Indonesian translation of my book, Pretext for Mass Murder: The September 30th Movement and Soeharto’s Coup d’État in Indonesia, was banned, I was perplexed.
What year was it? Was Soeharto still in power? In the midst of the remarkable progress in legal reform since Soeharto’s fall in 1998, book banning has become anachronistic. The Dec. 23 announcement by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) is like some antique brought out from a dusty storeroom.
Indonesian citizens have gained a sense of self-confidence in the face of officialdom. University rectors, historians, lawyers, journalists, students, among others, have condemned the banning.
The typical comment today is that the banning insults the intelligence of citizens to judge books for themselves. To borrow a phrase from Benedict Anderson, who was banned from the country for decades for his writing on the Sept. 30 Movement, Indonesia has a new society and an old state.
As a historian, I am impressed by the long-term continuity of Indonesian laws on censorship. The AGO announcement banning my book cites Law no. 4 of 1963 – a presidential order (penetapan) of President Sukarno’s that harkened back to colonial-era laws.
Its preamble states that it was designed to “safeguard the path of the Indonesian Revolution.” That was Sukarno’s language. Is the AGO today banning publications for the sake of “the Indonesian Revolution”? Are we still out to crush Malaysia?
If the AGO is committed to Sukarnoism it should praise my book. However much I dislike his authoritarian Guided Democracy, I have great respect for Sukarno’s intelligence, basic decency, and anti-imperialist foreign policy.
I think my book works nicely as an elaboration of his all-too-brief, three-fold analysis of the Sept. 30 Movement: The cunning of imperial and neo-colonial subversion, the foolishness of the PKI leaders, and the presence of many individuals who were “not right” (apparently meaning Soeharto and his
My book endorses his simile about the mass violence carried out in the name of repressing the Sept. 30 Movement: It was like burning down a house to kill a rat.
The key task of the Reformasi period has been to overcome the legacy of two authoritarian polities and create a government based on the rule of law.
Two outstanding achievements have been President B.J. Habibie’s canceling of the notorious Anti-Subversion Law of 1963 and the late President Abdurrahman Wahid’s closing of Bakorstanas, an intelligence body with sweeping, undefined powers originating in the emergency of October 1965.
Reformasi has wounded Law no. 4 of 1963 but has not yet killed it. The laudable press law of 1999 eliminated its application to newspapers, magazines, and serials, while leaving untouched its application to other printed materials.
So we have the strange situation now where the AGO is forbidden from censoring or banning the press but has been left free to ban books, pamphlets and posters.
The former head of the Constitutional Court, Jimly Asshiddiqie, has stated that Law no. 4 is “out of date.”
My publisher and I have no idea why my book was banned. Right now we’re in Kafka-land: Declared guilty without being told what the crime is.
The AGO’s press statement claims that my book “disrupts public order.” How it does that goes unexplained. So far the AGO hasn’t even provided the text of the “letter of decision” (Surat Keputusan).
The AGO spokesperson mentioned that his office had catalogued 143 objectionable passages in my book. It would be edifying for me, other scholars of Indonesian history, and the general public to see the full report.
In most democratic polities that allow for the banning of books (in the name of suppressing pornography for instance), the banning is usually done through the courts. Prosecutors have to publicly explain their case against a publication and persuade a judge or jury that it is indeed in violation of the law.
Authors and publishers present their counter-arguments. The German laws against Holocaust denial work in this way; prosecutors there do not unilaterally ban books. While I am opposed to any kind of book banning, I will admit that an open, transparent procedure in the judiciary is preferable to a secretive, arbitrary procedure inside an inscrutable bureaucracy.
Many books have been published in the last ten years that have been critical of the Soeharto regime’s version of the events of 1965-1966. Except for some textbooks in 2007, none have been officially banned. I do not think my book is special enough to deserve the AGO Prize.
My book actually endorses part of the Soeharto regime’s version (on the role of the PKI’s Special Bureau) even while it rejects other parts (such as the claim that every PKI member should be held responsible for the Sept. 30 Movement). My book is a work of scholarship that brings out new primary sources and critically evaluates the fullest possible range of sources. It should be useful even to people who disagree with my conclusions.
Some publishers want their books to be banned so they can use the AGO for free advertising. To ensure that no one thinks we will profit from the new interest in my book, my publisher and I have decided to withdraw the copyright on it.
The entire text of the Indonesian translation is available online to be downloaded for free. My publisher, the Indonesian Institute of Social History, has stated that there should be no barriers to knowledge except narrow-mindedness – and I suppose a slow internet connection.
The AGO banning of my book does a disservice to the great advances in legal reform that Indonesia has achieved since 1998. It gives the international community the wrong impression of the country.
If I were an Indonesian – to modify the title of Ki Hajar Dewantara’s famous essay banned by the colonial state in 1913 for “disrupting public order” – I would believe, along with Ki Hajar, Indonesia’s “Father of Education,” that the nation’s progress lies in reading more books, not banning more books, and in the self-assurance and free-thinking of its people, not in state-imposed intellectual conformity.
The writer is Associate Professor of History at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
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*MULYANI FELT SHE WAS FOOLED*
*Hans David Tampubolon* , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Thu, 01/14/2010 3:10 PM | National
Former vice president Jusuf Kalla says that Finance Minister Sri Mulyani told him that she felt as if she was being manipulated in the Bank Century bailout case.
"[Mulyani] felt as if she was being fooled over the final amount of the bailout, [Rp 6.76 trillion (US$734.86 million)]," Kalla told the House of Representatives’ special committee of inquiry into the bailout on Thursday.
Kalla said that Mulyani's remarks were made during a private meeting between them at his house on Sept. 30, 2009.
On Wednesday, Mulyani told the committee that she was only responsible for a bailout fund amounting to Rp 632 billion.
House committee begins questioning Kalla over Century
*Hans David Tampubolon* , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Thu, 01/14/2010 10:38 AM | National
The House of Representatives' inquiry committee into the Bank Century bailout has begun its hearing with former vice president Jusuf Kalla on Thursday.
Kalla arrived at the committee chamber at around 10:30 a.m.
"Kalla is an important witness, because he received the report of the bailout decision straight from Finance Minister Sri Mulyani," one of the committee deputy chairmen, Mahfudz Siddiq from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said Thursday.
Earlier, Kalla said he had not prepared any evidence for the hearing as he “was not the policymaker” at the time of the Rp 6.76 trillion (US$736.84 million) bailout, but promised to say whatever he knew.
On Wednesday, the House inquiry committee heard from Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who played a key role in deciding on the Rp 6.76 trillion (US$716 million) bailout, along with then Bank Indonesia governor and current Vice President Boediono, during a meeting of the Financial System Stability Committee (KSSK) in November 2008.
Both Mulyani and Boediono said the decision was made to protect the country’s banking sector from a systemic threat amid the global financial crisis.
Allegations have arisen that the bailout was illegal and that some of the funds may have been channeled to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s re-election campaign.
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*ICW – SUPREME COURT RULINGS DISCOURAGE FIGHT AGAINST GRAFT*
*The Jakarta Post* , Jakarta | Thu, 01/14/2010 12:18 PM | National
Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) says the Supreme Court has discouraged the fight against corruption by reducing prison terms handed down to six high-profile graft convicts in 2009.
ICW said in a statement Thursday the Supreme Court rulings weakened the deterrent effect the country needed to combat the widespread corruption.
The watchdog found that the Supreme Court, for example, cut the jail sentence of former Pelalawan regent Tengku Azmun Jaafar by five years from the 16 years handed down by the Corruption Court; that of former Bank Indonesia governor Burhanuddin Abdullah by two years to three years; that of former House of Representatives lawmaker Al Amin Nur Nasution by two years from eight years; and the sentence of former fishery minister Rokhmin Dahuri from seven years to 4.5 years.
Rokhmin was released from prison on parole last November.
ICW expressed fears that the Supreme Court might issue more lenient jail sentences for corruption convicts in the future.