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 DCGuy says:

    Oigal,

    This is what Arie said:

    “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.”

    Given his comments about brutality, and the corrupt elite oppressing the local people more effectively, it’s not a stretch to say he thinks White Men governed better than Indonesians (Brown People). It’s a logical step to argue that if we accept Arie’s arguments, the Indonesians would’ve been better off under Whitey. That’s what he was saying. It’s understandable as a former ruling colonial official himself — but he has a vested interest in that view.

    We just don’t have the archives, time, or libraries to check his claims. That’s why I’m keen to hear what the Indonesians have to say. There was actually a Dutch scholar called Boeke who advanced a theory of ‘tropical economics’, essentially that Indonesians were lazy.

    Here’s one link.

    http://books.google.co.id/books?id=9PtZuSShqQIC&pg=PA88&lpg=PA88&dq=Boeke+tropical+economics&source=bl&ots=y24PIBgiXG&sig=IUr2JSFFQfv9XelujMAbK8buK_8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=jRzyUc-tOcTVrQev1oGABw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Boeke%20tropical%20economics&f=false

    I think if we kept digging and digging at Arie’s subconscious we’d find similar things.

  2. avatar Arie Brand says:

    DCGuy you are well on your way to replace Purba Negoro on this blog. Now you even drag in my subconscious (“if I can’t get him on his conscious statements I will ambush him on his subconscious”).

    Your comment on Boeke is ridiculous beyond words. Boeke advanced the concept of a dualistic economy and a dualistic society. In a country like pre-war Indonesia there were, according to him, two sectors of the economy of different development and technology and geared to different markets – a capitalistic sector, mainly geared to exports, and a pre-capitalist sector mainly oriented to local demand. This was part and parcel of a dualistic society in which the various sectors only met in the market place. This was said about the pre-war situation. The concept seems now to be mainly of historical value as more recent researchers have suggested that the two sectors are more closely intertwined than Boeke indicated.

    An Indonesian economist as Thee Kwan Wie came up with a far more friendly (and of course informed) judgment on Boeke:

    Many of the Dutch civil servants working in the Netherlands Indies were not only highly trained for their job in the Indies, but were also genuinely devoted to the cause of improving the welfare of the Indonesian people. One of them was J.H. Boeke who became famous for developing his theory of cultural dualism (Higgins, 1968: 690)

    Well, for me the weekend has started. So for the time being I will not react to your increasingly more nonsensical outpourings.

  3. avatar DCGuy says:

    Arie,

    Yeah, there’s an informal economy – no shit. Mr. Kian Wie is obviously ethnic Chinese – a privileged group under the Dutch, who bolstered them as a bulwark against other Muslim ethnic groups.

    But we got your number — see Wertheim on the cornerstone of the colonial order being race:

    http://books.google.co.id/books?id=MUwfomdOQm0C&pg=PA9&dq=boeke+racist+%22tropical+economics%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=pkDyUfHzBMTwrQeakYDgBA&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=boeke%20racist%20%22tropical%20economics%22&f=false

  4. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Just this then before more pleasant things: You don’t have to teach me about Wertheim. He was my Professor in Amsterdam. Dare I add that in the “viva voce” exam I had with him he gave me the highest mark possible. I am still pleased about that. Later I had to write against him because he became a slavish adherent of one of the most abject regimes possible, that of Mao (he was joined in this craze by many young intellectuals – and it was a more widespread European phenomenon, particularly in France).

    Wertheim’s view was that Dutch colonial society was a racial caste society. That is approximately correct, even though more and more Indonesians penetrated the privileged caste with the increase in education. Wertheim also liked to quote Raymond Kennedy to the effect that education worked as dynamite on colonialism. The effects of that “dynamite” could already be perceived before the war.

    This still doesn’t take away the fact that measured by certain criteria for good government the Dutch pre-war government (in which Wertheim served until he became a professor in the Batavia School of Law) was superior to the post-independence governments of Sukarno and Suharto. And frankly I doubt whether, now a military, financial and political elite has firmly entrenched itself, social mobility is markedly higher than under the colonial order – even though ethnicity is not one of the main determining factors now.

    Well google on. It will keep you away from Blok M anyway.

  5. avatar DCGuy says:

    Thanks:

    I’ll explore this theme:

    “This still doesn’t take away the fact that measured by certain criteria for good government the Dutch pre-war government (in which Wertheim served until he became a professor in the Batavia School of Law) was superior to the post-independence governments of Sukarno and Suharto. And frankly I doubt whether, now a military, financial and political elite has firmly entrenched itself, social mobility is markedly higher than under the colonial order – even though ethnicity is not one of the main determining factors now.”

  6. avatar bluemoejoe says:

    essentially that Indonesians were lazy

    well DC … for the lacks of the proper words … i had to concur with this one

    too much blessed with fertile grounds and an abundant natural resources tends to make most of us ” less creatives ” … thanks god the moods/awareness are gradually starting to change . hence , starting 2014 there are no more raw material exports ( i know .. i know it’s aint perfect … but we are still trying here !! )

    Many of the Dutch civil servants working in the Netherlands Indies were not only highly trained for their job in the Indies, but were also genuinely devoted to the cause of improving the welfare of the Indonesian people. One of them was J.H. Boeke who became famous for developing his theory of cultural dualism (Higgins, 1968: 690)

    wow … how could us never catch that ??? seem the japs couldn’t wait long enough for the realization of all the Dutchies genuines ” Good Intentions ” 😀

    please arie … don’t cherrypicking the words . regardless the ” intentions ” … we still got to add ” sentiment ” into the ” real ” equations bro 😀

  7. avatar Arie Brand says:

    wow … how could us never catch that???

    Were you around then, Bluemoejoe? No neither was I. But I still perceived this mentality in the Nieuw Guinea BB, many of whom had served before the war elsewhere in the Archipelago.

    I have to add something to Wertheim’s view on that “racial caste society”. The word “caste” seems to suggest a sharper separation between the groups than actually existed. It has been estimated that around 1940 about three quarters of the European group (those who were “officially” European mostly Dutch) was of mixed origin. Eurasians could be found at the highest levels of the hierarchy. At least two Dutch generals in the Aceh-war (Van der Heyden and Swart) were Eurasians. The highest civilian official after the war, the lieutenant Governor General, Dr.Van Mook, was a Eurasian. And to add a personal note, the rector of the Institute for Civil Administration in Hollandia (Jayapura) where I studied, Dr.J.V. de Bruyn, and at least a quarter of my fellow students, were Eurasians. Some of these Eurasians were indistinguishable from real Indonesians.

    It should be said that especially in the lower reaches of the group of Eurasians there was often a frantic effort to distinguish themselves from “real” Indonesians.

  8. avatar bluemoejoe says:

    so it’s either you or us then ??

    God … Thank you for letting me born in this age …. where atleast the place i work now were truly ” bhineka tunggal ika ” ( with mediocre productivity though )

  9. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Mr. Kian Wie is obviously ethnic Chinese – a privileged group under the Dutch, who bolstered them as a bulwark against other Muslim ethnic groups.

    You must have forgotten that you referred to him first – when it came to the claim that the Dutch wanted Indonesia to pay for the costs of the “police actions”.

    Then he was a reliable source for you (incidentally, I don’t think he made that claim but that is not the issue here).

    However, when he said something positive about the erstwhile colonial government he is suddenly regarded as a member of a “privileged group under the Dutch” whose opinion can therefore not be relied on.

    Talking about cherry picking.

    And now I am really going.

  10. avatar Oigal says:

    independent papua was already a lost cause …

    Well who said? they were never given the opportunity.

    As Indonesia is directly responsible for the massive plundering of Papua and the repugnant transmigration (although an effective method to disfranchise a native people) it is bizarre you claim economics and poltics to justify oppression. You have obviously never been to Papua or you would know how absurd you claim is that Indonesia is investing the wealth of Papua back into the province.

    Ironically your description of Papuans as incapable primitives is a belly laugh in context of the rest of the conversations here. I also enjoyed your rationale that ET was never part of Indonesia. One can assume then, you agree Indonesia is just Dutch mapping construct and hence there is no need to hold onto the provinces by force of arms.

    Oh, please do some research before you lead with your chin and do your own thinking.

    Senior Aboriginals in power..name them you say?

    Let’s see..without a lot of thought.

    Adam Giles – Current Chief Minister (Head of Government) Northern Territory plus another six or seven (look them up)
    Former Governor of South Australia – SIR Douglas Nicholles
    Ambassador to Denmark, Norway and Iceland 2013 -Damien Miller
    Warren Mundine – Former National President of the Australian Labor Party (One of the two major political forces in Australia)
    Ken Wyatt MLA, Ben Wyatt MLA, the remarkable Ah Kit Family
    Bob Bellear – judge
    Sue Gordon – magistrate
    Pat O’Shane – magistrate
    Matthew Myers (judge) – magistrate
    Rose Falla – magistrate
    There are lots more, just google but you get the picture. Now, I am the first to admit Australia’s history is not all good in this regard but by understanding history not blithely moving on as you say then we can address past injustice. I look forward to when Indonesia enacts its own “MABO” laws and brings native title back to the Dayaks and Papuans.

    Seriously, you want to compare Turnball and Abbot to the current batch of CANCEROUS presidential no hopers here? Well for a start, Turnball as a businessman can travel to the UK without risk of long term gaol for fraud and theft and they both can travel overseas without risk of arrest for human rights abuses of their own citizens.

    Lastly, I would respond to your other posts but frankly not sure what you are trying to say.

  11. avatar Oigal says:

    where atleast the place i work now were truly ” bhineka tunggal ika

    I am pleased hear it and I am pleased to see your passion for BTI here. I assume you have written just many letters to your elected representative demanding to know why the government continues to allow attacks on the places of worship (despite supreme court rulings) attacks on Ahmadiyya Muslims and the burning/theft of their mosques?

    You would have written to the newspaper expressing your outrage at the attack on BTI after on the ahmadiyya victims was sentenced to six month gaol for defending himself from a pack of ranting, cowardly animals? You rang the television station after the appearance of that obnoxious fool religion minister who said that there would be no problem with oppression and assault if people just changed their beliefs (ok that was a gob smacking special case).

  12. avatar bluemoejoe says:

    Adam Giles – Current Chief Minister (Head of Government) Northern Territory plus another six or seven (look them up)
    Former Governor of South Australia – SIR Douglas Nicholles
    Ambassador to Denmark, Norway and Iceland 2013 -Damien Miller
    Warren Mundine – Former National President of the Australian Labor Party (One of the two major political forces in Australia)
    Ken Wyatt MLA, Ben Wyatt MLA, the remarkable Ah Kit Family
    Bob Bellear – judge
    Sue Gordon – magistrate
    Pat O’Shane – magistrate
    Matthew Myers (judge) – magistrate
    Rose Falla – magistrate

    hmm… without single soul bear an arms it’s hardly looks any brighter than us by miles … seriously bro … before ranting more you need to look deeeps in the mirror for calling the keetle blacks 😀

    and now you brings an Ahmadiyah topics in here ….

    this is my personal opinion comcerning the matter … both sides are stupids !!!

  13. avatar DCGuy says:

    Oigal,

    That’s pretty impressive. I always thought you Aussies were kinda cool and funny guys for a beer, but deep down knuckle racist rednecks who coast off the U.S.’s coatails. I know we also got our problems, but at least the U.S. (Iraq, Afghanistan), does it for the right reasons. Damn, without the U.S. you guys’d be speaking Chinese.

    Good to hear you let a few of them – indigenous people – through. My Aussie mining buddies used to call them Abbos — is that racist down under?

    Also, you seem like a pretty well-read fella, once again, I thought most Aussies never went far beyond sport and brewskies lol!. Though you might wanna try some real football and not that tight-short thing they play down there. See the Superbowl for how it’s done.

  14. avatar DCGuy says:

    Oigal,

    That’s pretty impressive. I always thought you Aussies were kinda cool and funny guys for a beer, but deep down knuckle-dragging racist rednecks who coast off the U.S.’s coattails. I know we also got our problems, but at least the U.S. (Iraq, Afghanistan), does it for the right reasons. Damn, without the U.S. you guys’d be speaking Chinese.

    Good to hear you let a few of them – indigenous people – through. My Aussie mining buddies used to call them Abbos — is that racist down under?

    Also, you seem like a pretty well-read fella, once again, I thought most Aussies never went far beyond sport and brewskies lol!. Though you might wanna try some real football and not that tight-short thing they play down there. See the Superbowl for how it’s done.

  15. avatar madrotter says:

    but at least the U.S. (Iraq, Afghanistan), does it for the right reasons.

    you’re joking right?

  16. avatar Oigal says:

    Yup DC and the only thing we burn on crosses are Internet Trolls ;-). Oh by the way, speaking of Chinese, I wouldn’t be so rude or they may call in your loans and youall will be doing the laundry.

  17. avatar Oigal says:

    Blue, bear n arms? I have no idea what you are talking about?

    Both sides stupid? What because one side expects to worship in peace? Seriously?

  18. avatar bluemoejoe says:

    now i know why i doesn’t hangs around here often ….

    Too much time wasted preaching about ” high and might of GOLDEN STANDARD ” on some elses humanity issues while act hypocrately surely made some fly above the grounds far enough to have some sense on reality .

    well off course talks were always easy especially when you’re sitting cozyly behinds the keyboards while others got drowned because some refuse to answer on some far away distress call or some bans on some minaret … surely that’s thrilling enough to be made for the threads on some online screens .

    too bad … i just don’t have the hearts cold enough to do it …

    but , don’t worry about it mate …. keeps on making it coming … ( without me though ) . this stupid , uneducated and un informed brownies simply don’t have the luxury of time to spares on some silly D##k measurement contest while everybody does had it’s faults it’s always easy for pointing and blaming on other without even trying to sorting the mess on their own houses

    You believe what you want to believe when its convenient for you. As long as the people from the other parts of Indonesia are flooding in the Papua, Papuan independence is a lost cause. I could easily make the argument that Europeans should get out of the US/Canada, because they stole the lands from the natives. So what is the difference between what the Indonesians are doing in Papua and what European ancestors did in the Americas, very little. The only difference is the Indonesians are far less brutal.

    Papua is different from Aceh and East Timor is because it was designated as transmigration area. If you want to resist Indonesians annexation of Papua, grab a gun or starting sending arms to them. Terrorise the migrant population – murder some children, strap a suicide vest etc. You have to get the migrants to leave in large numbers. Another way is to pay them not to settle in Papua.

    If you were to hold a UN referendum on independence in Papua today with all residents eligible to participate, the Yes side would most likely only get 30% of the vote. Migrants already make up 55% of population. In the East Timor referendum. non-independence supporters got 22% of the vote and this was a place with very few migrants. In Papua it would most likely be 30-40% opposing independence among the locals, its higher than in East Timor, because Indonesian rule is far less brutal than in East Timor, opposition resistance is far less organized. Its not as overwhelming as you think. UN referendums don;t distinguish between ethnic origin, that would be discrimination (so migrants can vote in such referendum), Indonesia itself does not have provisions for separation (unlike the USSR)

    Finally, the difference between East Timor and Papua is the boundaries of modern Indonesia are seen as the inheritor state of the Dutch East Indies. Papua was ruled from Batavia. That is the Indonesian argument post 1998. Now you can argue, those silly colonies boundaries don’t matter. OK, then why can’t the Arabs have an Islamic Caliphate.

    The international pressure on trade is largely irrelevant. The US, Australians backed the annexation in 1976, and East Timor in 1998, was the last thing on the minds of US, Australia with regards to Indonesia. During all that time the Indonesia had troops in East Timor, the US still had extensive military ties with Indonesia. Ironically the very same year the East Timorese were granted independence, the US suspended those ties. Indonesian President at the time surprised everyone with his decision, there was no pressure from the US..

    The US won’t rock the boat with regards to Papua, particularly now. Do you seriously think the West will do anything in Papua, when they are lifting sanctions on Myanmar for doing much worse to their minorities? Under Indonesian rule, US companies have access to West Papuan resources. An independent West Papua would most likely fall under Australian dominance much like PNG and East Timor, something that does not thrill US companies much.

    and this one from your buddy in PNG

    “Papua New Guinea’s Opposition Leader Belden Namah has warned that more than 10,000 PNG citizens from the Indonesian border area have moved across into West Papua and may next demand they move with their land to Indonesia.”

    If Indonesian Papua was so bad, why are PNG citizens crossing over into Indonesia? Why are they crossing over.

    “If we are not careful, many of our citizens living near the border who are already attracted by Indonesian government services on the other side of the border, especially the 12 to 15,000 people in my electorate of Vanimo-Green, may move to the Indonesian side of the border, basically because successive PNG governments have not provided necessary services on our side of the border,” Namah said

    so …keeps on dreaming … i’m out here …

  19. avatar timdog says:

    I just watched an amusing movie called The Rum Diary. Does anyone suppose that the experiences of real-life foreign correspondents in Indonesia might bear any resemblance to “Paul Kemp’s” tropical misadventures in San Juan?

  20. avatar Oigal says:

    Blue Blue, See ya, taking your bat and ball and going home already?

    Just a quickie or two on the way out the door..The UN or even Indonesia can set the terms of reference for a Referendum to anything they like, even to allow ethnic Papuans only to vote. Of course, the terms of reference determine the credibility of the exercise.

    Papua is different from Aceh and East Timor is because it was designated as transmigration area

    That is just funny in sad way, Papua is different because Jakarta said so? Ever occur to anyone to ask the Papuans?

    OK, then why can’t the Arabs have an Islamic Caliphate.

    Well they can, its up to the people isn’t it? What’s your point?

    An independent West Papua would most likely fall under Australian dominance much like PNG and East Timor,

    Abject nonsense, Australia had a far better deal under Indonesia regime than now and as for PNG Australia’s only dominance is in Aid. For that reason alone most Australians would prefer to see Papua remain part of Indonesia if only people would stop acting like ar*eholes.

    Lots more, but really too many factual errors in that post to address all at once. BTW, it has nothing to do with being black, brown, white or brindle. Nonsensical, uninformed “sound bites” might pass as fact in limited audience will always come unstuck on an international forum. Really there is no excuse for that in this day of information access.

    Anyway have fun Blue, do visit Papua one day soon and see just how much of the provinces riches are reaching the people.

  21. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Bluemoejoe wrote:

    nd this one from your buddy in PNG

    “Papua New Guinea’s Opposition Leader Belden Namah has warned that more than 10,000 PNG citizens from the Indonesian border area have moved across into West Papua and may next demand they move with their land to Indonesia.”

    If Indonesian Papua was so bad, why are PNG citizens crossing over into Indonesia? Why are they crossing over.

    Bluemoejoe I still have various bones to pick with you but I will start with this one:

    For the time being we are dealing here with a claim by a leader of the opposition in PNG, Belden Namah, who is trying to get some extra advantages for his constituency. There is no way of checking up on it. I understand that Namah is a controversial figure who is presently being sued for libel by PM O’Neill for claims he made about him.

    Having said that I must add that there is little doubt that people cross the border in both directions because their lands and tribal affiliations were not taken into account when, way back, this artificial line was drawn. The situation is essentially fluid but there is no doubt that the main movement has been from West to East even though the PNG government, fearing conflict with Indonesia, has been far from welcoming to refugees. In some spots the goodies available on the Western side of the border, brought about by the construction of the Trans-Papua Highway, have apparently induced people to move there (Papuans can move very easily). Here is a description of the situation by an author who seems to be well informed:

    As in other countries whose borders are the product of arbitrary decisions by past colonial regimes, language groups and traditional rights to land as well as relations of kin and of trade extend across the border. Indeed, border surveys during the 1960s established that the border ran right through the middle of at least one village and that several villages which had been administered by the Dutch were in fact in the Australian territory. As recently as 1980 a village included in Papua New Guinea’s National Census was found to be inside the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya [which in 2000 President Wahid renamed Papua]. The situation is made more complex for administering authorities by the tendency, amongst these shifting cultivators, for whole villages to shift, re-form and disappear over time[135] .

    On the Irian Jaya side, the construction of the trans-Irian Jaya highway and the transmigration programme are seen as major contributions to development, and there have been announcements of plans to improve communications in the border area (including, according to one report, colour TV sets) in the hopes of persuading Irianese border dwellers to stay on their side of the border.

    There has been a tendency amongst distant commentators on Indonesia-Papua New Guinea relations to refer to the problems, and to urge greater ‘understanding’, as though the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea relationship is symmetrical. Obviously it is not: border crossing has been essentially one way; border violations have been entirely at Papua New Guinea’s expense; Papua New Guinea does not have a domestic insurgency problem overflowing its border;

    (emphasis added A.B.)

    R.J.May, State and Society in Papua New Guinea: the first twenty five years, 2004

  22. avatar Oigal says:

    I should add that personally I think that an Independent Papua and ET will always be dependant on external AID and difficult to see them ever being economically viable. Additionally, nothing could be worse for the region than a bunch of fractured marginal states but really we just need to stop acting like colonial a*holes.

    TimDog.. I have not seen that one but (and this should be ammo for the mob) I did enjoy Long Haired Dictionary set in Colonial Malaysia

  23. avatar madrotter says:

    rum diary is a GREAT movie! and a GREAT book too, lots of people were disappointed by it, they were expecting another fear and loathing in las vegas not understanding that the rum diary was hunter’s first book, years before fear and loathing, more alcohol drenched than all the dope in later years…. truly one of my favorite writers and one of my favorite people 🙂

    johnny depp really did a great job with this movie and i’m hoping he’ll do another one, he could do hell’s angels or he could turn that time when hunter ran for sheriff in pitkin county, colorado and nearly won into a movie….

  24. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Bluemoejoe wrote:

    Finally, the difference between East Timor and Papua is the boundaries of modern Indonesia are seen as the inheritor state of the Dutch East Indies. Papua was ruled from Batavia. That is the Indonesian argument post 1998

    Now there is something oddly contradictory in this Indonesian claim which can, I think, be best illustrated by the ambiguous Indonesian opinions on J.B.van Heutsz, the general credited with having ended the Dutch Aceh war and having completed, by armed force, the map of Indonesia in his period as Governor General (1904-1909).

    Here is Mas Isharyanto in a recent article in Kompas:

    Van Heutsz, seorang figur dalam sejarah kolonial di abad ke-20, terkenal atas perannya dalam aneksasi Aceh, yang juga merupakan langkah menuju penuntasan penaklukan wilayah geografis dari yang sekarang bernama Indonesia.

    And here is the contribution of an Indonesian academic, Ahnsad Humam Hamid, to the discussion of what should be done with the Van Heutsz monument in Amsterdam ( it was bombed twice and defaced countless times – the city fathers finally decided to remove any reference to Van Heutsz and to transform it into a general monument to the Indies).

    Van Heutsz, however, is notorious. He was a general, a conqueror, and he undertook two campaigns against Aceh and caused great suffering of the people of Aceh. … If this government wishes that we could learn from this monument, is what can we learn from history. The monument ought to tell the truth, the basic principles of history. It should tell the positive matters, but also the suffering of the people of Indonesia. The monument can be a contribution to humanity. Colonialism and imperialism are appalling and the monument ought to reflect this.

    Yes that’s all good and well but don’t base yourself then on the map of the Netherlands East Indies, that was partly cobbled together by violence, in making claims to territory.

    If I may quote myself:

    Lately we have seen such claims

    dressed up with the Latin formula ‘uti possidetis juris’. This allegedly refers to a principle of international law implying, in this case, that successor states of colonial territories should have the borders of those territories. Well, the principle has often been ignored (to wit the partition of British India and French Indochina) but also, principle for principle, it should yield to the much stronger one of ‘self determination’,… It is presumably because of this that Constantin Stavropoulos, the UN legal counsel advising Secretary General U Thant, wrote in 1962 that ‘there appears to emerge a strong presumption in favour of self-determination in situations such as that of West New-Guinea on the basis of the wishes of the peoples of the territory concerned, irrespective of the legal stands or interests of other parties to the question.’

    And Indonesia has of course itself recognized this principle in agreeing to have an “act of free choice” in Papua – an act that still has to come about after the earlier sham performance.

    Bluemoejoe wrote:

    If you were to hold a UN referendum on independence in Papua today with all residents eligible to participate, the Yes side would most likely only get 30% of the vote. Migrants already make up 55% of population.

    Well Blue, I don’t think that it will come to a genuine “Act of Free Choice” anytime soon but I imagine that if it does there will be an attempt to stick to the relevant formulation of the New York agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands:

    XVIII d. The eligibility of all adults, male and female, not foreign nationals to participate in the act of self-determination to be carried out in accordance with international practice, who are resident at the time of the signing of the present Agreement, including those residents who departed after 1945 and who returned to the territory to resume residence after the termination of the Netherlands administration

    (emphasis added A.B.)

    So in most cases that would now mean the descendants of those 1962-residents (which will in actual practice mean the Melanesian population – there were very few Indonesians in August 1962, when the agreement was signed).

    When the movement for Papua to have an act of really free choice gains traction Indonesia could always try to bribe its main supportewrs – as it did in the case of the South Moluccas:

    The Indonesian academic Dr. George Aditjondro wrote:

    Indonesia’s former ambassador to the Netherlands, Ret. General Alamsyah,once bragged in an Indonesian newspaper, how he seduced the president of an
    unnamed state, to cease his support for the outlawed South Moluccan
    Republic (RMS). When this RMS-supporter was visiting the Netherlands,
    Alamsyah presented him with pieces of silver wrapped in fine batik from
    Java, with the request to detain the RMS leader who was residing in his
    country. According to Alamsyah, that bribe had done the trick, and he
    suggested that Indonesia should also not hesitate to bribe the US Senators,
    who had put pressure on Indonesia after the November 12, 1991 Dili
    massacre.

    This report in the Indonesian daily, Pikiran Rakyat, of Dec 7, 1991, did
    not specify which head of state was bribed, for an insulting cheap price,
    by Alamsyah. However, from researching South Moluccan politics one can know
    that only Benin (formerly Dahomey) had at one stage officially recognized
    three Indo-Melanesian independence movements — the South Moluccas, West
    Papua, and East Timor. Another West African country, Senegal, had only
    supported the West Papuans with an embassy in Dakar,

  25. avatar DCGuy says:

    Arie,

    I think it’d be really helpful to readers if we set up two separate threads — one on ‘was colonialism a good thing?’, with the to and fro between you and me, and a ‘Free Papua – Or not?’. If I’m carrying around some of these misconceptions that can be fixed with a bit of history and experience – surely many others are. But you did say you’d said your piece on it.

  26. avatar Arie Brand says:

    DCGuy , you might not be aware of this but the question about Papua was already extensively discussed on my sub-blog here (entitled “By the Way”) under the headings “The Indonesian claim to Papua” and “Triumph of History”. You can find these discussions here:

    http://arie.indonesiamatters.com/119-triumph-of-history/

    http://arie.indonesiamatters.com/3-indonesias-claims-papua/

    So for the time being that should be enough. Repeating it all would bore older contributors stiff and arouse the suspicion that I am suffering from an “idee fixe”.

    Who has said here that colonialism was ” a good thing”- “good thing” compared to what? What I have said is that, measured by certain generally accepted criteria for good governance, the late colonial government was superior to its successor governments. That is a far more limited thesis.

    For the time being I have had my say on both topics.

  27. avatar DCGuy says:

    Ok thanks, Arie. Thanks for the links and the discussion here.

  28. avatar Oigal says:

    Blue, Blue… I hope you can make time to have some more thought bubbles pricked…

    “According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are more than 9,000 West Papuan refugees in PNG today, many of whom have been in the Pacific island nation for over three decades.”

    Do google West Papua Refugees and you may surprised what is happening in the real world.

  29. avatar DCGuy says:

    Oigal,

    What’s your take on this? — see below. Surrender — what you Aussies would’ve done to the Vietnamese and Chinese without the good old U.S. of A.

    Papua OPM Leader Surrenders to Indonesian Military

    August 7, 2013

    The Jakarta Globe
    By Banjir Ambarita

    photo: Members of the separatist Free Papua Organization (OPM)
    appeared in front of media in the jungles of Indonesia’s Papua
    province on July 25, 2009. (AFP/Banjir Ambarita)

    A former Free Papua Organization (OPM) leader and four others pledged
    their commitment to the Indonesian state as the central government
    prepared a draft law that would allow the restive province increased
    autonomy later this month, the Indonesian Military (TNI) said on
    Tuesday.

    Engga Kiwo, the one-time leader of the Lanny Jaya chapter of the OPM,
    and four other rebels laid down their weapons in a welcoming ceremony
    conducted by the TNI’s Cenderwasih Command, spokesman Col. Inf.
    Lismer Luban Siantar said.

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