Foreign Correspondents in Indonesia

Jul 1st, 2013, in News, by

DC Guy piece today was going to be a trashing of foreign journalists. Instead, upon thinking, DC Guy thought to ask a relevant question about hiring trends of expats across Asia.

Should foreign correspondents - and ex pats in general - speak the local language?

I'm asking because my original piece was going to be called, "Why Foreign Correspondents Suck and What they're Not Telling You about Indonesia".

In my wide-eyed thirties sometime last decade I rocked up to a cocktail-gathering of foreign correspondents in Indonesia, somewhere behind the Mandarin Hotel at the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout. I was all excited, imagining a smoky room full of spies and Year of Living Dangerously reporters. I mingled. I exchanged business cards. I chit-chatted about politics.

At first it seemed cool. One Bule reporter guy in his 60s ranted about Bangkok in the '80s and how pathetic and lazy young journalists were. Cool. Another 40-something guy had just been laid off and was drinking away his severance package in bars in Asia. Cool. Some angry BBC chick was broadcasting her opinions (not so cool, but interesting). But then it struck me.

Most of them are tourists. Almost none of them spoke Indonesian.

"I've got a translator to do that"

said an Australian newspaperman.

"We've got fixers [slaves who set up appointments, get coffee, interns] for that"

said another Australian TV reporter. (A lot of Australians for some reason.) One English wire service reporter was even more blunt: they hire us [ex pats] for our skills - the locals do the language work. (In fairness, he was of Indian origin, not a bule.)

Guy Hamilton, The Year of Living DangerouslyAs the evening went on, I realized how little any of these supposed Guy Hamilton (Year of Living Dangerously) types actually cared about their stories. I paid attention and over the next few cocktail nights I realized that the Big Name correspondents rely on the Jakarta Post, Jakarta Globe and wire services to get their views. Maybe a few phone calls here and there to a diplomat, but in general they know much less than you, if you live in Indonesia, or me.

Let's get this straight. They can't understand the TV. They can't understand the radio. They can't read local blogs, websites, or newspapers. All they have is the English language sources. Granted, there's a lot in English. Some email listserve called 'Joyo' apparently collates all the English language reporting and sends it out. One drunk American freelancer told me all he reads is Joyo and that's enough.

Would you trust a White House reporter who didn't speak English?

And why should I listen to a tourist? Why should the rest of the world? I don't think they should. I think the foreign correspondents are generally a week or two behind the local press. I think they miss most of the most important stories. And I think the snootiness and arrogance hides an uncomfortable truth: they don't know what they're talking about.

That's why the Aussie press writes about cheap drug dealers like Schapelle Corby getting busted. It's why the Western wires were obsessed with Bird Flu whilst ignoring current epidemics such as Malaria or Dengue Fever. (Who cares, they're just local brown people?) It's why they sucked up to Indonesia's lame duck President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono when everyone in Jakarta knew he was an armchair general. It's also why they're obsessed with terrorism when traffic jams and bad hospitals are more of a threat to most of the population.

The fixers' version was even more telling. Some of them were kinda hot and came to the cocktail nights. They didn't have much respect at all for their bosses. Sure, they kissed their asses, as we all do. But when it came down to it, it turns out the fixers do the work. They read the local newspapers, watch TV, make the phone calls, set up the appointments. And then bossman or woman walks off with all the credit. Why not just give the job to the local?

In fact companies across Asia are waking up to it. In an NYT piece For Westerners in Asia, the Job Market Grows Tougher, the writer talks about a tightening job market for ex pats; strangely, employers in Hong Kong wanted people who could speak Chinese.

I want more than anything to get back out there - preferably Jakarta so I can get up to my old tricks. But I know I've gotta pick up my game. I can't just turn up like I did a decade ago, hang out a shingle and say

"unemployed white guy - hire me"

DC Guy's message: the Western media is failing you. Ignore them. Read the Jakarta Post, the Jakarta Globe, get an RSS feed to blogs you're interested in.


159 Comments on “Foreign Correspondents in Indonesia”

  1. avatar Arie Brand says:

    DCGuy you wrote regarding self determination for Papua:

    Why not an act of Free Choice in Aceh? Why not the Malukus? Why not Java and Bali?

    In one of your posts you referred your readers to the series about Papuan self determination that I placed in the now defunct webdiary (the link is http://webdiary.com.au/cms/?q=blog/417 ).

    But have you read it yourself? If so you should have found the answer to your question there.

    It was often contended by Indonesia that the Dutch dreamt up the concept of self determination of Papua late in the game to keep it, by hook and by crook, out of the hands of Indonesia. The facts are against this thesis. In 1947 the Dutch negotiators of the so-called “Commission General” met with representatives of the fledgling Republic (led by the Republic’s then Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir) in Linggajati near Cirebon. The Dutch envisaged there a federal structure for Indonesia and believed that the various territories should have the right to join or not join this federal structure (external self-determination) or to join it as a separate state rather than as part of the ‘core’state that consisted of the greater part of Java and Sumatra (internal self-determination). This idea was embodied in the Accord of Linggajati both parties agreed to (most of it soon became a dead letter).

    But a federal structure was agreed to in the agreement reached at the RTC. At the beginning of 1950, after the official transfer of sovereignty on 27th Dec. 1949, it looked as follows:

    There were six federal states, and ten lower bodies: daerah or daerah istimewa.

    But the revolutionary élan that prevailed in Java, especially among the “pemuda”, was looking for another target – that target was the federal structure. Allegedly the inhabitants of the various (semi) autonomous regions outside the “core” Republic (i.e. the greater part of Java and Sumatra) were themselves desirous to demolish this federal structure and join this “core” Republic. This was supposed to be clear from the various processions and demonstrations there (Jakarta has always been very good in engineering such things).

    So the federal structure went down the tube. It did not go altogether smoothly. It is ironical, DCGuy, that you asked (why there was no self determination for the Moluccas. That is what quite a few inhabitants of this area wanted to know themselves, way back in 1950. When the federal state East Indonesia (comprising Sulawesi, Halmaheira, the Moluccas etc.) was demolished, Manuhutu, then chairman of the Council of the South Moluccas, declared the independence of the Republik Maluku Selatan (RMS) on the 25th of April 1950. In September of that year troops of the “core” Republic landed in Ambon and subdued it in heavy fighting that lasted almost two months. The struggle for the RMS then became a guerilla led by Dr.Soumokil who had been the recent president of the RMS. The main stage of the struggle then became Ceram that is considerably bigger than Ambon. It took the TNI thirteen years to capture Soumokil there. He was condemned to death by a military court in April 1964. After Suharto had come to power the sentence was executed in April 1966. There is still a government of the RMS in exile. It has its seat in the Netherlands ( president Bambang Yudoyhono was supposed to come on a state visit to the Netherlands at the end of 2010. This visit was postponed indefinitely because the RMS government in exile had started court action against him).

    Now what about Papua. Around the time of the RTC the population of Papua was deemed unable as yet to exercise the right to self determination. So, ironically, when the federal structure was speedily demolished by Jakarta this territory was the only one to retain a concrete right to self-determination albeit a postponed right.

    So the concern with self-determination for Papua was not a ploy dreamt up in the late fifties in order to protect Dutch interests and to keep Indonesia out of the region.To quote the internationally respected American-Dutch political scxientist Arend Lijphart:

    Another objection to the self-determination argument of the Dutch was the claim that the Dutch invented the argument as recently as 1954, when they had to construct a defence for their policy before the forum of the United Nations. It is an indubitable fact that this argument gradually became the central justification of Dutch policy toward New Guinea especially after 1954. The objection overlooks the fact that the Dutch have been emphasising the right of self-determination ever since 1946. Articles 3 and 4 of the Linggadjati-Agreement are clear examples of this preoccupation (Lijphart A, 1966, The trauma of decolonisation – the Dutch and West New Guinea, Yale UP p29)

    .

  2. avatar DCGuy says:

    Mr. Arie,

    A Q and A format, I think, would be best for this conversation, given the head start you have on me.

    * What were you doing during the 1945-50 War of Independence?

    * What’s your position on the moral and ethical strength of the Dutch Police Action?

    * I’m still trying to gauge the tone of your (very thoughtful) answers here. Are you making an implicit case that, in fact, the late Dutch colonial government was actually more benign that the succeeding national Indonesian governments? Or are you just fighting for an accurate historical record?

    As for the Indonesian side not wanting a joint research team. Don’t know what I think of it. We’d have to say exactly who said no and why. There seems to be a paranoia whenever I had anything to do with university research teams that the voice of foreigners would prevail due to superior funding. See episode on research around the ‘Hobbits’ in Flores.

    Overall, though, I’m still interesting in that econometric or accounting exercise about exactly how much wealth was stripped out of the Dutch East Indies and to what extent that wealth contributed to Dutch economic growth back home. Who knows? Maybe that ‘ethical policy’ you mentioned ended up costing the taxpayer money back home, depending on the mood of politics. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to start squirrelling up the facts, and even if I did, you have a 20 year + head start, hence the Q and A format.

  3. avatar Oigal says:

    The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Timmermans, has revealed that Indonesia has made it clear to him that it doesn’t want this inquiry. I leave it to you, DCGuy, to speculate upon the possible reasons for this.

    Arie is without doubt extremely knowledgeable and I have learned a hell of lot from his despatches. I learnt my lesson a long time ago that it is at your own risk to debate history with him as I came off battered, bruised and KO’d

    That said, I am relatively ok with WW2 and the Australian’s involvement in Indonesia and I can say Indonesia is nowhere near ready for the truth about about Independence and what actually occurred. The brutal murders of women and children POW’s, the acts of selling her own people into Slavery (The Sumatra Railway easily rivals the more infamous Thai version) and even the story of the City of Heros would need to be vastly re-written.

    The above is not a judgement as births of nations are rarely pretty but Indonesia has not got past the boys own adventure style historical recording of the time.

    It is mildly ironic watching an American ticking someone off about meddling in another countries affairs. If true history ever comes about then both Australia and the USA will face millions in reparations for their part in the brutal actions of 1965 and the subsequent occupation of ET.

  4. avatar Arie Brand says:

    —–

  5. avatar Arie Brand says:

    The map in the previous post is the supposed federal structure of the Republik Indonesia Serikat as agreed to at the RTC in December 1949. By clicking on it it will become clearer.

  6. avatar DCGuy says:

    It’s all good as long as we get an enlightening thread out there. And hey, I ain’t my government.

  7. avatar DCGuy says:

    Mr. Oigal.

    Once again, I’d ask Mr. Arie:

    * What he was doing during the Police Action
    * Does he think Indonesians would have been better off continuing under a Dutch colonial government in the 1950s and 1960s?

    See, we’re reliving, to a degree what early nationalist Indonesian leaders must have faced. We just don’t have the same facts to master as Mr. Arie. We could, if we wanted to, with the the internet, but we don’t have the time to dredge up all the details.

    But I know from my few philosophy and history courses at college that no matter how learned someone is, someone else equally learned might and probably does disagree with them. Same set of facts can be interpreted *very* differently, depending on your politics or emotional state.

    Mr. Arie was a colonial official. He’s got plenty of reasons to have an emotional state. But he knows more than us, hence the Q&A. In essence, let’s not get spun by the “trust me I’m a doctor,” argument.

    I sense an overall tone of prettifying what the Dutch did and discrediting the Indonesian nationalists. I sense that he’s doing that whist hiding behind an edifice of facts we just don’t have the time to gather or get the frameworks to dispute.

    Mr. Arie’s basically saying, “hey, it [Dutch colonialism] wasn’t that bad, they [Javanese/Indonesian elite is worse ie murderous bastards.”

    I think he’s flirting with that line as well as the fighting-for-historical accuracy schtick. That’s why we need to know what he was doing back then.

  8. avatar Arie Brand says:

    A Q and A format, I think, would be best for this conversation, given the head start you have on me.

    * What were you doing during the 1945-50 War of Independence?

    Your supposed “conversation” looks suspiciously like an interrogation but never mind. Before I answer this question I would like to repeat what I asked you: who were the “Indonesian historians” from whom you learned that the Dutch charged Indonesia for the cost of the “police actions”? President Sukarno did not make this specific allegation but suggested something quite near to it in his public speech on Independence day 1956, the year that Indonesia stopped payment of this debt. According to him the greater part of the debt consisted of the costs of Dutch military action. He declared bitterly: “When the Dutch finally recognised our independence they left a safe not filled with money and gold but that was, instead, full of unpaid bills”. The accounting practices of the Indonesian treasury then apparently left much to be desired. The Indonesian government declared that the rest of the debt it still had to pay to the Netherlands amounted to 3,661 million guilders. The Dutch treasury figured out that it was in fact only 650 million guilders. Had Indonesia included in this amount the estimated cost of the police actions (2 billion guilders) – the demand for which the Dutch negotiators at the RTC had in fact dropped (encouraged to do so by UNCI chief Merle Cochran)? (my source is Lambert Giebels, Soekarno -President – Een biografie Vol II Amsterdam 2001)

    And now back to your question. In 1945 I was nine years old and I had emerged from the winter of famine at the end of the war as a heavily undernourished primary school kid who found it difficult to digest the Canadian army biscuits of which our school prepared a”bubur” that we were fed at lunchtime. What happened in the Indies was rumour in the background. The first Dutch soldiers, who had enlisted in the so-called 7 December Division went to Indonesia at the end of that year and there was a general conviction (of which I merely picked up the vibrations) that they went there to restore “law and order” (even the Indonesians call this period, known by the Dutch as the “bersiap” time, the “time of chaos”). What did we hear and see about the war. Not much. There was no television of course. The cinemas had newsreels before the main program but I never went there in those years. I do remember the black framed announcements in the newspapers every week, in which the government announced “to its extreme regret” that the following persons had been killed in action. i also remember that the homes of returning soldiers were often decorated when they were coming back. An older brother of mine was sent out to the Indies quite late in the game – in late 1948 or early 1949 I believe. He was a Sergeant Major Administrator and rather than handling stenguns he had to prepare wage lists etc. He never even heard a rumour about war crimes when he was over there and was just as surprised as any of us about post-war revelations.

    At primary school we were taught the topography of Indonesia and most people of my generation can still rattle off the list of the Greater and Lesser Sunda Islands when woken up from a dream. We also had school plates with romanticised pictures of Indonesian scenes.

    I remember that around 1950, I was at high school then, the English teacher asked us what the British were noted for. I put up my finger and said “for administering colonies”. I still remember his reaction “Oh no, we are much better at that” (the correct answer to his question was supposed to be: for maintaining their language – indeed a thing the Dutch are notoriously bad at). This then is a suitable introduction to another of your questions:

    Are you making an implicit case that, in fact, the late Dutch colonial government was actually more benign that the succeeding national Indonesian governments? Or are you just fighting for an accurate historical record?

    I believe that I can do both at one and the same time. I think that measured by most of the criteria for good government the late colonial administration was superior to the independent Indonesian governments that followed it. It was efficient, it was not plagued by corruption, it had a reliable administration of justiceand even in its dealings with political opponents it was considerably more “benign” (if that is the word) than the successor government. I am not even talking here about the actual massacre of 1965. Just compare the camp at Buru for the victims of the Gestapu-coup with the pre-war camp for political detainees at Upper Digul at Papua. The American Indonesianist and Sjahrir biographer Rudolf Mrazek has given an amazing picture of the latter in his”Sjahrir at Boven Digoel: Reflections on exile in the Dutch East Indies” in Daniel S.Lev and Ruth McVey (eds), Making Indonesia – Essays on Modern Indonesia in Honor of George MCT.Kahin, Cornell University 1996. just one detail: Sjahrir and Hatta travelled there, not in chains but as normal passengers on a KPM-ship and rather enjoyed the journey. Hatta had six large crates with books with him, so just as well that he got a cottage for himself.

    In one decisive aspect the colonial government was inferior (and this holds for all colonial governments I think): it offered no scope for genuine democracy. The ultimate sanction in a democratic system is to send the government of the day packing. This is impossible in a colonial system. That’s why I have called it a blind alley.

    Now before I answer any more questions of yours I want an answer to my question: who were the “Indonesian historians” from whom you allegedly learned that the Indonesian government was billed for the cost of the “police actions”?

  9. avatar DCGuy says:

    After checking, turns out it was a Swedish guy, Thomas Lindblad and an Indonesian-Chinese historian Thee Kian Wie, don’t have time to check further, and I’m relaying their research second hand from a long time ago. Basically, I’ve got a Wikipedia level of understanding.

    http://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thee_Kian_Wie

    http://www.hum.leiden.edu/history/staff/lindblad.html

    But we have your position right here:

    “I believe that I can do both at one and the same time. I think that measured by most of the criteria for good government the late colonial administration was superior to the independent Indonesian governments that followed it. It was efficient, it was not plagued by corruption, it had a reliable administration of justiceand even in its dealings with political opponents it was considerably more “benign” (if that is the word) than the successor government.”
    [WEB ADMIN — QUOTE FUNCTION ISN’T WORKING OVER HERE]

    You think the colonial government was better, following logically, Indonesians would have been better off under it.

    That’s a tough sell today, Big Guy.

  10. avatar Arie Brand says:

    I sense an overall tone of prettifying what the Dutch did and discrediting the Indonesian nationalists. I sense that he’s doing that whist hiding behind an edifice of facts we just don’t have the time to gather or get the frameworks to dispute.

    I read your second letter after I sent the one above.

    What am I supposed to do? To “dumb down” my arguments to create a “level playing field” for you? You wanted to engage in discussion. Well pull your finger out and bone up on the facts – instead of relying on what Oigal called the Indonesian “boys own adventure style of historical recording” and pestering me with your “findings”.

    And can you stop calling me “Mr.Arie” please?

  11. avatar Arie Brand says:

    You think the colonial government was better, following logically, Indonesians would have been better off under it.

    That’s a tough sell today, Big Guy

    For ordinary Indonesians In the last sixty years or so – yes. Ultimately probably not – if Indonesia develops into a decent democracy. A big if.

    “A tough sell”, so what? One of the advantages of my age is that I can afford to say what I think.

  12. avatar DCGuy says:

    Arie,

    Well, so… if we’ve established that the late Dutch colonial government was better than the succeeding nationalist ones in the 1950s and 1960s, we can make some counterfactual observations and ask some questions.

    These aren’t meant to be an interrogation, just a question to readers.

    * If the Indonesians were better off under the Dutch colonial government, for how long? Indefinitely? Maybe Indonesia should still be a protectorate of the Netherlands.

    * I have to wonder why Arie Brand thinks the nationalist governments were more corrupt. Is there something about Javanese culture which is inherently more corrupt or the natives are inherently less efficient? If so, what could it be?

    * Logically speaking, if the late Dutch colonial regime was better than the nationalist ones, which were corrupt and murderous (allegedly), the Dutch police action might have been *the right thing to do*… as it was force deployed for a just cause under the auspicious of a recognized nation-state protecting its own territory (the Just War doctrine).

    I think I have my next article.

  13. avatar madrotter says:

    You just have to read Twilight In Djakarta from Mochtar Lubis to know how bad corruption was in the early 60’s…..

  14. avatar Arie Brand says:

    * I have to wonder why Arie Brand thinks the nationalist governments were more corrupt. Is there something about Javanese culture which is inherently more corrupt or the natives are inherently less efficient? If so, what could it be?

    DCGuy for the quote function to work you have to be logged in (username, password etc.)I am pleased that you have dropped the “Mr.Arie” – if you now progress to just “Arie” I will be altogether happy.

    The late Dutch colonial administration was, as far as its “bureaucratic culture”was concerned, in many ways an offshoot of Dutch administration “at home”. There were no great problems with corruption there. Why?

    I will not go on about Dutch history here. Few readers will be familiar with that. Let us venture into British history, with a bow in the direction of Timdog who might be tempted to come in here..

    If Plumb can be believed an eighteenth century “Prime Minister” (I think he was the first who can be named by that title) as Walpole tremendously enriched himself in office and did not shy away from nepotistic practices either. By today’s standards he was notoriously corrupt. Yet he got away with it and was the longest serving PM thus far.

    If the same things could have been said of nineteenth century prime ministers like for instance Peel or Gladstone (men of impeccable rectitude) it would have been their undoing.

    Why? What had happened in just over a hundred years.? I am freewheeling here.

    Perhaps one of the main factors was the expansion of the “public sphere” – more newspapers and magazines, greater literacy among the population, an expansion of the electorate – in short an expansion of that part of the population that had some knowledge of “affairs”but could not possibly profit from these itself.

    Hopefully the same developments might lead to the same results in Indonesia.

    Why is Indonesia today unquestionably more corrupt than, for instance, New Zealand.? Well, its “public sphere” is proportionately smaller. Also it is still far less oriented to the “public weal” and far more to that of one’s own kin or one’s own “aliran”.

    As far as efficiency is concerned: a distinguished British Indonesianist as Ben Anderson has figured out that since Dutch times the Indonesian population has increased by the factor 4 but the bureaucracy by a multiple of that (I have forgotten the exact figure). This whole apparatus has to be kept busy between the many breaks for “snacks” . Hence the increase of red tape. It has settled itself like an incubus on the backs of the Indonesian population dragging things down.

    But anyway you people are living there. You can speak from personal experience.

  15. avatar DCGuy says:

    Arie,

    It’s ok, please do go into Dutch history. It’s hard to get elsewhere. But your position does raise some uncomfortable dilemmas: maybe the Indonesians would have been better off staying colonized. What about the rest of the world, I wonder.

  16. avatar Arie Brand says:

    DCGuy,

    Not all Indonesians. Obviously there are quite a few Indonesians, broadly the present economic/political/military elite, who have in material terms done very well out of independence – but for the mass of the population the last sixty years would have been less miserable I believe.

    But as Orwell (who, as you probably know, worked at an early stage for the Burmese imperial police) recognised: people prefer to be badly governed by their own rather than well by foreigners. This is a fairly isolated statement – one can find his critical opinion of “imperialism” more often.

    You seemed to start this exchange with the unshakable belief that independence is in all its aspects superior to a colonial status. But the main change brought by independence was, as I have said before, that a foreign exploitative elite (and all elites are to a certain extent exploitative) was replaced by an indigenous one, that, exactly because it was indigenous, could act with less restraint in keeping the others down. Ethnic commonalty counts for little here, except negatively. The one great advantage of independence remains however: The door to democracy is not definitely closed even though it might take a long time before it is even opened a crack.

    You started this exchange with what seemed an unshakable belief that after gaining independence the population of a country that was colonised earlier is necessarily better of. A lot of people pay lipservice to this belief in the fear of being dismissed as some Colonel Blimp but in your case it seemed to be genuine. Isn’t that very American? Sukarno speculated on this when he addressed the American Congress in May 1956.This is how he started:

    The shot that was fired in Lexington on the nineteenth of April 1775 was heard around the world. It echoes still in the hearts of all who have recently won their independence and it echoes in the hearts of peoples who still struggle against their colonial bounds.

    That was the way to get them. His speech was interrupted 28 times by applause. After that he could try more. Though his nation was then politically and economically in a shambles he could claim:

    In the eleven years of our independence the Indonesian nation has made more progress, and has been the scene of greater human happiness, than all the tens of generations of colonialism that went before.

    For Sukarno himself and those around him this was no doubt true.

  17. avatar Oigal says:

    maybe the Indonesians would have been better off staying colonized.

    Well for the 20% of the East Timorese disappeared during the Indonesian Occupation, to the tens, hundreds of thousands (million?) of people slaughtered for the Old Man’s Coup in 65, for those raped and murdered in 98 safe to assume they would have been better off.

    It would be different story if Indonesia had turned into something other than a Zombie democracy (looks like a democracy from a distance but get close and it is a rancid parody of one). Can anyone truly argue the cancerous Bak** business empire is not at least comparable to the very worst of the VOC?

    History will not be kind to the current generation of Indonesian Elite.

  18. avatar DCGuy says:

    Gents,

    I think we should start a separate thread along the lines of, “Was Independence a Mistake? Some say the Dutch colonial government was better.” I can write the opening salvo and present Arie’s case. It’d stir some good debate. What do you think?

    Thing is Arie, history’s full of facts. You watched and lived through this part of it, so it’s close to your heart. I’m interested in what history can teach us, the story it tells us about the future. An different people could look at the same set of facts and see different histories.

    Truth be told, I don’t believe you yet. I suspect that out of nostalgia and guilt you’re selected a very pro Dutch version of events. It’s very interesting, I grant you, that the late Dutch colonial government may have got its shit together. It’s a bit like what I hear about Freeport – bad in the beginning, learned over time, now saddled with a dark history. But without having the time or archives to look up the facts, I can’t refute you yet. But this question’s big enough to start another thread.

    But I do plan to continue writing about hookers and jerking off, but obviously not in the same thread. Fair warning ahead of time.

  19. avatar Arie Brand says:

    DCGuy the following two propositions are not incompatible though they are often believed to be so:

    1. There should be an institutionalised, peaceful way for people to remove a government they don’t like. That is only possible via the ballot box hence through a democratic system. Colonialism is incompatible with genuine democracy so colonialism had to go.

    2. Measured by such criteria of good government as lack of corruption, efficiency, reliability and impartiality of the administration of justice, financial responsibility, professional ethics etc. many a colonial government, notably also that of the Netherlands East Indies 1900-1940, was better than their successor governments after independence.

    I don’t see the need for a new thread. As far as I am concerned I have said most of what I wanted to say on this topic.

  20. avatar pattimahal says:

    Yep, I’m a lightweight!

    Please keep this up, I’m really enjoying reading it

  21. avatar DCGuy says:

    Arie,

    Dude: you’re chickening out because you know if I post something as controversial as saying you think Indonesians would’ve been better off under the Dutch: Brown People can’t govern themselves, you’d get crucified, and attract historians from the other side.

    A sophist you are, my fellow poster.

    I might go ahead and do it anyway based on what you’ve written.

  22. avatar Arie Brand says:

    I merely tried to prevent you simplifying what I had argued – and that you didn’t seem to get.

    You must have a mind fed on headlines and slogans to now simplify (“crudify”) things even further by coming up with “brown people can’t govern themselves”.

    I said in an earlier post that I didn’t want to dumb down my arguments to provide you with a level playing field. So now you seem to be doing it for me.

  23. avatar bluemoejoe says:

    jezz…. all this talks are nonstops for decade of decades

    as an indonesian my self … while i do feels for the plights of my papuans brother but serriously ..regardless of all of you foreigner moans and grinding teeths click around . papua will always be parts of indonesia with all of it’s benefits and fault . unless all of you planning on to nuke us into oblivion … these psyche of 247 million people will never let it go and that’s the grimms lengths we’re willing to go to

    some of you will always going in nagging on act of choices …. but maan … the worlds ( US of A ) turn their eyes blind back then and now ( capitalism at it’s best ) … what could you expect then ??? you could all talks high and might and idealistic point of view for all the eternity … but if you aren’t a superpower exerting on words alone just fall only on the deaf ears ( reality sucks… bro , just look on syria and egypt )… and referendum ?? by recent demographic alone has provide the obvious answer …

    Indonesian are famous for taking things ” lightly ” we don’t ” clings ” on our past too intimately … some say we are in denial while other tell us ” rude ” for taking the national historical lesson for granted … or maybe we just takes things too positively … ” whatever is done were bygone so let’s looks on the future now ” ingrained in our psyche mentality

    and yes .. we do are a rude and un sophisticated nation with enough fanatics ranks to mingling around . but … hey we are still trying down here to sort things out ..
    independent papua was already a lost cause … world ( capitalism ) politics and economy migrant influx was simply made the things impossible … the best things we could do is how to make them more educated and lifting their economical standard at least equal with the rest of nations ….and that’s the everyday reality in papua …. and wether most of you willing to accept reality … it’s up to you ….

    all of those decentralization process and various human right watchdog was part of the efforts. and regardless what you all have said … the seats of top provincial executive ( including the administirial staffs ) and legislator were local privilleges … and believe me finding locals with enough skill set and talents were quite ” challenging ” … but we do believe they will learn and adapting fast enough .. it’s their land they know what is the best for them … they free to shape thing into their ways while still holding the same banner and flag.

    which makes me kind of wondering …. pardon me for asking this ( due to my ignorance )

    while the governor ( both ) province and police chief are papuans and atleast we got some ex minister/top politicians/prominent public figures , ex admirals and some thirteen general ( various stars ) from the papuan ethnic/tribes …. how come i could never heard some aboriginal figure holding important positions in Oz political spectrum …. ???

  24. avatar Arie Brand says:

    while the governor ( both ) province and police chief are papuans

    The police chief of Papua, Tito Karnavian, is from Palembang.

    The police chief of West Papua, Paulus Waterpauw, was born in Fak Fak but moved to Surabaya when he was ten years old.

    The Army Chief (pangdam XVII/Cenderawasih), Christian Zebua, is from Nias.

    Tito Karnavian is engagewd in the usual Indonesian routine there:

    Jayapura – Dorus Wakum, activist Human Rights (HAM) in Papua assess Police Chief (Chief) of Papua, Inspector General (Police) Tito Karnavian is the “brains” behind various acts of arrests, murders, until pemenjarahan activists in Papua.

    Read more:
    http://www.infopapua.org/artman/publish/printer_2762.shtml

    Papuans know that in spite of all those “dazzling careers” you mentioned they are kept away from real power (top control over the guns) in their province.

    Hence those most likely to have those careers still dream of independence:

    Hundreds of West Papuan students have staged a peaceful “action and free speech” demonstration in the central Javanese city of Yogyakarta and in other cities across Indonesia.

    The Papua Student Alliance organised the action, held at the Gadjah Mada University (UGM) traffic circle just one week after the university hosted a major international media conference, to protest against the 1969 UN-sponsored referendum on West Papua’s integration with Indonesia (Pepera, Act of Free Choice).

    The students claimed the referendum had been legally flawed and riddled with manipulation.

    Read more:
    http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2013/07/west-papuan-students-protest-over-indonesias-1969-free-choice-annexation/

  25. avatar DCGuy says:

    @ Blue Moejoe,

    What do you think about Arie’s idea that Indonesians would have been better off under the Dutch? He seems to think Indonesians can’t govern themselves very well and would be better off having White men do it.

  26. avatar Oigal says:

    regardless of all of you foreigner moans and grinding teeths click around . papua will always be parts of indonesia with all of it’s benefits and fault

    Well probably not, the same thing was said about ET, Malaysia etc and look what happened. Should Papua be part of Indonesia, probably and the displacement of Papuans population and culture by transmigration will certainly help. That said if Indonesia thinks it can continue to act out the very worst lessons as a coloniser then that bodes ill for all concerned.

    Frankly unless there are some major changes by the Jakarta and Javanese corrupt elite then Papua is just the beginning of the problems. I think very much underestimate the undercurrents in the provinces Blue.

    “how come i could never heard some aboriginal figure holding important positions in Oz political spectrum …. ???”

    Like Governor, Senator, Judge, Magistrate ..Perhaps you need to read some more?

  27. avatar Oigal says:

    What do you think about Arie’s idea that Indonesians would have been better off under the Dutch? He seems to think Indonesians can’t govern themselves very well and would be better off having White men do it.

    It’s one thing to have a debate but another thing to deliberately misrepresent someone’s position. I am no great friend of a lot of Ari’s views but by no means could you take what he said as equating to

    He seems to think Indonesians can’t govern themselves very well and would be better off having White men do it

    It is fair to say that despite the abject nonsense taught as History since independence that the best that could be said of Indonesian progress is brutally “underachieved”. In daily life what % of people are really better off, keeping in mind that Indonesia has the most potential wealth of any nation (bar none) in ASEAN. That does not mean a call for the return of the Dutch but it does Indonesia needs to stop kidding itself and tolerating the Robber Baron, intolerant elite that will eventually destroy the nation sooner rather than later.

    Unfortunately, just how far away that day is remains to be seen. The current crop of presidential candidates is good indicator of just how bad things are.

  28. avatar bluemoejoe says:

    The police chief of Papua, Tito Karnavian, is from Palembang.

    The police chief of West Papua, Paulus Waterpauw, was born in Fak Fak but moved to Surabaya when he was ten years old.

    The Army Chief (pangdam XVII/Cenderawasih), Christian Zebua, is from Nias

    hmm … were they the usual evil ” javanese moslems ” colonialist in charge ???

    Papuans know that in spite of all those “dazzling careers” you mentioned they are kept away from real power (top control over the guns) in their province

    LOL wuttt ?? do you even knows what the means of words in charge ??? do you ???

    and NO !! corrupt mentality don’t equal oppressor tendencies regardless the sugar coated words you put on top of it

    and what the papuans feels and endure was no less than all of us get during the suharto authoritarians rule … hell two of my relatives ( big family ) still missing today from 95-98 reformasi , regardless the closeness ties with military people ( the new generation not the old guards !! )… yet , we still carry on and moves … dwelling on the past simply won’t take us anywhere ( and hell … i’m not even a javanese and my wife was from a sundanese whose family despise the javanese more than i do 😀 )

    @ Oigal : ET and malaysia was not part of dutch colony in the first place … regardless all the propaganda by the fool and stubborn fool soekarno and soeharto put for the masses . most the folks ( with enough knowledge ) were not too eager to take the propagandist baits . how in the earth you think Habibie could walk away from it if he is considered guilty by the people ( yes … our rude , violents and suicidal tendencies people )

    Like Governor, Senator, Judge, Magistrate ..Perhaps you need to read some more?

    care to names the few ??

    Unfortunately, just how far away that day is remains to be seen. The current crop of presidential candidates is good indicator of just how bad things are.

    err …. kind likes of Abbot ?? Turnbull ?? … 😀

    every nations had it’s fair share of messy political process along with ridiculous political figure in it …. but that’s just simply part of the process … either you take it or leave it , since i’m no magician …. i can’t tell what cards until it folded and it’s called … ” REALITY ”

    What do you think about Arie’s idea that Indonesians would have been better off under the Dutch? He seems to think Indonesians can’t govern themselves very well and would be better off having White men do it.

    well i’m tooth fairy too DC …. 😀

    just for sake of discussion …. if most of you think it was easy trying to regulate the land mass with hard terrains and under filled with local people who were too busy chooking alcohol botle to indulge in everyday normal live ( working or studying ) only to be “distracted ” to spill some “compensations blood ” over jealousy for their neighbouring tribe conditions . be my guess!! for the last decade they been given far greater authonomy with as litle as scrutiny than most and with greater sums of financing liquidity too … how come they’re not even come close to the likes of RIAU or Palembang is beat me ??

    so NO , i think we’re cool with it … we are already accustomed to talks by SYMBOLS ( to be honest !! all of those Iraqi ,Syria and Afghanistan anventures do taught us a LOTs ) and somewhere along the line i think they got the message too …. as long as there is no words of freedom or separations words in it they could always dancing , preaching and drinkihave ng till puking eternity ….FREELY

    so NO …. Corrupt mentality doesn’t equal with oppression tendencies

  29. avatar Arie Brand says:

    My thesis was simple:

    Measured by certain specific criteria for good government certain specific Indonesian governments were/are inferior to the government of the Netherlands East Indies 1900 – 1940. Does this mean that all Indonesian governments ever will be so – of course not. It means even less that “brown people can’t govern themselves”.

    I can hardly believe that this bit of demagogic nonsense (for which DCGuy tried to recruit Blue Moejoe as well)) is based on a genuine misunderstanding.

    Blue Moejoe doesn’t seem to be too enamoured of these post-independence governments either:

    and what the papuans feels and endure was no less than all of us get during the suharto authoritarians rule … hell two of my relatives ( big family ) still missing today from 95-98 reformasi , ..

    … ET and malaysia was not part of dutch colony in the first place … regardless all the propaganda by the fool and stubborn fool soekarno and soeharto put for the masses

    .And what is the perspective for the future:

    At the Q&A session, to which I referred in my first post on this thread, the editor of the Jakarta Post said that in order to fight corruption effectively they should have a president who is clean, as far as that is concerned. He doesn’t even have to be competent, he said, but he should have the moral legitimacy to go after corruption. Is there any presidential candidate of that description?

    The Philippines is lucky with Aquino in that regard.

    and what the papuans feels and endure was no less than all of us get during the suharto authoritarians rule … hell two of my relatives ( big family ) still missing today from 95-98 reformasi , regardless the closeness ties with military people ( the new generation not the old guards !! )… yet , we still carry on and moves … dwelling on the past simply won’t take us anywhere ( and hell … i’m not even a javanese and my wife was from a sundanese whose family despise the javanese more than i do )

    @ Oigal : ET and malaysia was not part of dutch colony in the first place … regardless all the propaganda by the fool and stubborn fool soekarno and soeharto put for the masses . most the folks ( with enoug

  30. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Sorry – the last two paragraphs are redundant Blue Moejoe quotes. They slipped in.

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