Free Speech & Begging

Sep 7th, 2009, in News, Opinion, by

BeggarJakarta's anti begging law in the light of constitutional freedom of speech.

Free Speech for Jakarta's Beggars

The Jakarta Post invites its readers to comment on an action of the Jakarta city government. It has to do with the enforcement of the City bylaw on begging. Both the beggars and their benefactors are penalized when caught in the act of charity.

All in the name of

public order

What is behind this? The first reason is, so it seems to me, keeping up face towards the outside world in the form of foreign tourists (who themselves are likely to fall foul of this bylaw). Outsiders to the Jakarta scene should not be able to see the widespread poverty, as if they needed beggars to remind them of that.

But the measure has also some domestic use. I fancy that it is, in a city with such flagrant differences in the possession of worldly goods, uncomfortable for the well heeled to be continuously reminded of this. There are of course people that find the spectacle of poverty a welcome additional spice in the enjoyment of prosperity. Less tough characters however probably prefer the ignorance that Marie Antoinette once famously demonstrated by asking why those who had no bread could not eat cake.

But when I was on the verge of writing that this was all ‘typically Indonesian’ window dressing, a bit of sniffing around on the Internet informed me otherwise. To my astonishment I learned that begging is also prohibited here in Australia, a prohibition that goes back to British vagrancy laws. I have never seen that law applied. On the other hand there are not many beggars here.

And, as I could have guessed, among Indonesia’s nearest neighbours, it is also not looked favorably upon in Singapore. In that city of the ubiquitous spying video eyes and piss detectors in elevators you can cop a fine of three thousand Singapore dollars or two years in jail if you are caught begging twice. Since to most beggars it will be a bit inconvenient to shell out three thousand bucks, even if only of the Singapore variety, it will be jail.

And what about the home of the free and the brave? I read that two years ago a beggar there had the misfortune to ask an undercover policeman for a dollar after which he was promptly arrested.  Astonishingly his lawyer came up with a successful defense based on the First Amendment. Asking for money, said that public defender, is a form of free speech protected by that amendment to the Constitution. The court that could go back to recent jurisprudence agreed.

Earlier prosecution by the New York City Police Department had failed as well.

It could not point to a specific prohibition of begging and had to categorize it as a form of "loitering". And to provide a rationale for its action it could only come up with its so called "broken windows theory" (its variant on Jakarta’s "public order"). This theory holds that low level signs of disorder, such as broken windows, graffiti and begging, lead to more serious crime. Applying this theory to begging doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. You forbid a person to beg and s/he is likely to look for more illegal means to keep body and soul together such as theft and prostitution.

So the courts didn’t buy this theory and the Supreme Court ultimately rejected it in 1999.

But is there a similar constitutional defense of (begging as a form of) free speech possible in Indonesia?  The original 1945 Constitution was rather wishy washy on free speech. It had an article 28 that stated 

freedom of association and assembly, of expressing thought by speech and writing, and so on, shall be laid down by law.

That law could, of course, either be permissive or restrictive.

The situation improved when, after the fall of Suharto, the Constitution was revised and amended. The Second Amendment, Chapter XA, Art.28E.3 now says:

Every person shall have the right of freedom to organize, to assemble, and to express opinions.

This is in agreement with Art.19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that concerns, among other things, the freedom to

seek, receive and impart information and ideas.

Scoffers have held that beggars do not seek to impart information; they just want to line their threadbare pockets. But people with a wider view of the matter thought that beggars impart information right enough, namely that they are destitute. The highest court of Massachusetts held, in addition, that prohibiting this form of information denied members of the public the chance for "self enlightenment" and the "fulfillment of moral or religious obligations".

And what about that part of the Jakarta bylaw which also seeks to penalize the alms giver? There is a certain logic to this. If begging is an offence than those who provide the coins are accessories to it. One could go even further. I am thinking here of the 1999 Swedish law on prostitution, which makes the buying of sexual services, or even the attempt to buy it, punishable by up to six months in jail. However, the selling of those goods is not prohibited. The rationale for this is, as the commentary on the law says, that the person who sells sexual services is

in the majority of cases … a weaker partner who is exploited by those who want only to satisfy their sexual drives.

Well, by analogy one could hold that, financially at least, the beggar is in the majority of cases the weaker partner to a transaction in which the alms giver only wants to satisfy his charitable drives. So throw these charitable characters in jail, where they have all the time in the world to seek self enlightenment, and let the beggars continue imparting the information that they are destitute.


39 Comments on “Free Speech & Begging”

  1. avatar Dragonwall says:

    The US First Amendment covers a wide range of topic.

    Freedom of speech expressly means

    Liberty to express opinions and ideas without hindrance, and especially without fear of punishment. Despite the constitutional guarantee of free speech in the United States, legal systems have not treated freedom of speech as absolute. Among the more obvious restrictions on the freedom to say just what one likes where one likes are laws regulating incitement, sedition, defamation, slander and libel, blasphemy, the expression of racial hatred, and conspiracy. The liberal tradition has generally defended freedom of the sort of speech which does not violate others’ rights or lead to predictable and avoidable harm, but it has been fierce in that defence because a free interchange of ideas is seen as an essential ingredient of democracy and resistance to tyranny, and as an important agent of improvement. The distinction between an action falling under the description of speech and one which does not is not clear cut, because many non-verbal actions can be seen as making a statement—for example, burning a flag or destroying a symbol. Again, valued freedom of speech embraces publication—writing, broadcasting, distributing recordings—as well as oral delivery of ideas

    Does Indonesia has this? No. Even if it had then it was only restricted to opposition party or students protest. Nothing of a big scale.

    Begging and soliciting is against the law anywhere in the world.

    The common answer as to why it is against the law could most probably be sized up to degrading a country’s image. The country is not doing enough to take care of their own citizen. A nuisance to the public.

    But for Indonesia to enter into a stage of Freedom of Speech, it would be in leading the country into chaos. Especially when Islamic factions staking claims on Freedom of Speech could like cause such an impact to lead ignorant Muslims to be propagated into a state of uncontrollable magnitude.

    I would rather Indonesia be back in the New Order where everything is under contol, law and order and prosperity with a certain restrictions that’s it. But otherwise peace and harmony.

  2. avatar Odinius says:

    New Order…peace and harmony? I can see why people might be jittery as a result of recent unrest, but I think that’s a bit of selective memory. The New Order began with the greatest act of violence in Indonesia’s history, then continued with sporadic state violence, particularly in the periphery, and massive corruption. I mean, the Petrus Killings alone ended with 10,000 dead. That’s more than Ambon, Poso, W and C Kalimantan, and all the terrorist attacks combined.

    It might have been stable, but it was hardly “peace and “harmony.”

  3. avatar Chris says:

    To my astonishment I learned that begging is also prohibited here in Australia, a prohibition that goes back to British vagrancy laws. I have never seen that law applied. On the other hand there are not many beggars here.

    In Melbourne, begging was recently unbanned.

    More generally, I think in Australia – unlike Jakarta – banning begging is less of a problem. There is government support (i.e. welfare payments) and/or a large number of charity groups who can help the poor, unemployed, low income workers, etc.

  4. avatar Dragonwall says:

    New Order…peace and harmony?

    Yes and I mean Yes. How long have you been living in Indonesia? Just curious. All your life?. If you had then I need not elaborate. Besides those political incurrence, we refer to economic and living, was that not better at that time like 20 – 25 years ago?
    I have been living in the country for more than 20 years. Prior to that my grandparents and some family members (some were Indonesians themselves) started doing business with Indonesia in as early as early as before the confrontation and after the confrontation. So do I know Indonesia? Yes. 45 years ago I started boarding the Tampomas I at the age of 11 and and later Tampomas 2, then Andes followed by my trips to Tanjung Pinang, Karimun, and all those outlying islands.

    I can see why people might be jittery as a result of recent unrest, but I think that’s a bit of selective memory.

    How jittery is that? No just jittery but say scary. My friends mother went out to a mini store nearby their house and on reaching home she was punched and feel to the ground and robbed nearby Grogol. How much is immaterial. Do you find that 20 – 25 years ago. At that time such an act are remote but now it is just rampant. A friend of mine, already here in the US. He stopped his car nearby Grogol and had his car window axed and suffered a cut in his head and was beyond apprehension and robbed of everything he was carrying. (He was a sales guy – robbed off his collection , cash checks and personal items in the region of around 100 million. Of course the checks could be cancelled)

    The New Order began with the greatest act of violence in Indonesia’s history, then continued with sporadic state violence, particularly in the periphery, and massive corruption.

    How did the 1998 incident went by? Wasn’t that quite similar when these two f**k**g idiot Wiranto and Prabowo was struggling over power and nearlu cause Jakarta to become a ghost town that was saved by the Panglima AL Jenderal Arief Kushariady who was later dismissed by th disgrunted Wiranto.
    Imagine a hero that saves all the Chinese Indonesia in Jakarta from certain death was dismissed from his command whereas traitors like Wiranto, and Prabowo assisted by safrie syamsuddin (later promoted to his current rank as Letjen) and his goons walk freely. This is thype of scary if you look real deep into that. Don’t believe what I said but long in to what was reported in personal interviews with him.

    I mean, the Petrus Killings alone ended with 10,000 dead.

    Honestly speaking! I really supported that. You could be surprised. All those bastrds were people who were actually murderers and big time rapist and robbers that went to court cpotting a peji and sarong and pretended they were religiously repentent and bought the compassion of the judge thus receiving a light sentence of 2 – 5 years and release after reduction of od conduct. Back on the street they will be the same because they were who they are. Unchange, unrepentent, and even hard core. Therefore they deserve it. To many victims, that is justice carried and justice done. Don’t even doubt that a little.

    I was told security personnel were given “jata” to carry out that.

    That’s more than Ambon, Poso, W and C Kalimantan, and all the terrorist attacks combined.

    As to these, they were all carried out by those traitors I mentioned above. That is considered to be war crimes and should be brought to justice and be sentences like those Nazis.

    It might have been stable, but it was hardly “peace and “harmony.”

    Then would you consider what is going on today as peace and harmony? I would consider what is going today as pathetic and misery not any better.

    To my astonishment I learned that begging is also prohibited here in Australia, a prohibition that goes back to British vagrancy laws. I have never seen that law applied.

    They have been compassionate and did not actually applied that unless someone had made complaints.

    On the other hand there are not many beggars here.

    Because there are welfare and not many of them capitalized the situation becoz in a civilize society, begging is something someone consider it to be degrading and shameful.

    In Melbourne, begging was recently unbanned.

    If they had done so then it showed that the government is facing certain financial pressure and hping they are able to ward off these people from further lynching on the government…..

    There is government support (i.e. welfare payments) and/or a large number of charity groups who can help the poor, unemployed, low income workers, etc.

    Do you think the Indonesian is giving their fullest? What is the current stastitics?
    Doubtful..honestly doubtful when officials are filling their own pockets more than handouts.

  5. avatar Wantiwanita says:

    If beggars real beggars, no problem. It is the false ones that are the problem.

  6. avatar ET says:

    If beggars real beggars, no problem. It is the false ones that are the problem.

    Correct. Of course in megacities like Jakarta and Surabaya with all its obvious and also hidden misery, and in the absence of a decent social security system, begging and solliciting may for some be the only way to survive. But in other places like Bali the gepeng (beggars) are a pest. They are organized in raquets from certain villages, are loaded in trucks and deposited in Denpasar and tourist areas and after a day’s ‘work’ rounded up and taken back home. The majority of them are children and women – some carrying infants which they ‘hire’ – , they put on a sad face and after you’ve turned your back start laughing. A Balinese friend of mine once tried to make them perform a little job like cleaning the rubble from a construction yard and they refused. I myself, still being a novice in my early days here, wanted to give some food – having no small money at hand – but it wasn’t accepted. Cash only please.

    in the majority of cases … a weaker partner who is exploited by those who want only to satisfy their sexual drives.

    This cuts both ways. The weaker partner may also be the one who is sexually starved and exploited by those who want only to satisfy their greed.

  7. avatar TheWrathOfGrapes says:

    Yes – con beggars.

    In Singapore, periodically, you get swarms of “Buddhist monks” in saffron robes, alms bowl in hand, fanning out across the island and targeting the housing estates, hawker centres, markets and coffee shops. And “nuns” selling religious articles. These are part of a well organized racket. These “monks” have been caught after “office hours” shedding their robes for nice civilian cloths and painting the town red.

    Then, there is the barely disguised begging – selling of 3 little packets of tissue paper for S$1. The profit margin is huge – but at least these people are trying to make a living.

  8. avatar Odinius says:

    Dragonwall,

    Basically your reply is: “extrajudicial killing is fine when I approve of the killers and targets,” which makes me think your opinion on the New Order is not so much that it was peace and harmony in general, but peace and harmony for you. You weren’t a target, so it was great. But what about those who were?

  9. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Dragonwall wrote:

    “But for Indonesia to enter into a stage of Freedom of Speech, it would be in leading the country into chaos. …

    I would rather Indonesia be back in the New Order where everything is under contol, law and order and prosperity with a certain restrictions that’s it. But otherwise peace and harmony.”

    Hey Dragonwall, with this plea you would have fitted very well in the colony – and not the coloony as it was in 1940 but in 1840. Then the administration argued against freedom of the press as well because of the dangers of chaos and the disturbance of the peace.

    The only press allowed then was the governmental gazette. Wouldn’t things be peaceful in modern Indonesia if that was the case today. Perhaps – but it would be the peace of the graveyard.

  10. avatar dragonwall says:

    You people talk so much about peace and harmony.

    Everyone talk so much about freedom of speech.

    I like to agree that everyone has their own rights, including freedom of speech.

    How do you term your freedom of speech? How does those people from the Islamic faction term their freedom of speech. How does those terrorist term heir freedom of speech. Anyone can write but the consequence is all that matters.

    What did that lead to.

    Can you guy please tell us the difference between then nd now in terms of:

    1. Security
    2. Economy
    3. Employment
    4. Country Condition
    5. Performance

    And mind you one thing the Indonesian Government have not in anyway protects the Indonesian CHinese from way back when.
    They only thing the Chinese had was being able to work with those political elites because they are making u of one another, not because they wanted the Chinese to. If you observe late in the 90’s and above most of the business were monopolized bynot the Chinese.

    So if you are referring to colonial days kind of crap then it would most likely place you back int ages and not realistic because you feel you sould get it so you must have it.

    And making statement such as extrajudicial killing mean that we are not the target wee entirely two different thing.

    Many of the Chinese Indonesians were being made a target from the days of Suharto era until today. Please don’t deny that.

    To say extrajudicial killing is alright you ned to substantiate that. Wasn’t that substantiating enough to say that a murderer deserves to be hanged, shot or sentence to death? But then when they appear in court all dressed in Islamic clothing to seek the pity of judge and getting away with minimal sentence is right for you? If you say yes then I please tell the world that you are munafik. If you say no, but then these people walked out of jail after 2 years a free man. There he goes again committing the same crime or even worse more serious crimes.

    Have you seen actually what happened during the riot? Tell us honestly ad don’t be afraid to tell the truth. So please don’t tell me that they have the rights to exercise what they right and depriving othrs of their right.

    And I am not sure if both of you are pri or Chinese. So when you kno who you are then the tone of what you express woud very likely be different.

    Everyone has their right of opinion and honestly speaking both of you are not speaking truthfully.

  11. avatar Odinius says:

    Arie Brand said:

    The only press allowed then was the governmental gazette. Wouldn’t things be peaceful in modern Indonesia if that was the case today. Perhaps – but it would be the peace of the graveyard.

    Couldn’t agree more.

    Besides, the violence that has occurred since 1998 is insignificant next to the violence perpetrated by the New Order regime. I mentioned the Petrus killings, but how about 1965-7?

    Dragonwall seems to just care about violence against ethnic Chinese, though.

    But even that is a poor bar to judge the New Order as “peace and harmony.” Far more violence occurred against ethnic Chinese in either 1965-7 or in 1994-8 than after 1998.

  12. avatar dragonwall says:

    Much as I like to agree what the New Order is not doing something humane and not because I am caring about vioence against the Chinese. We are referring to whether the killing by Petrus justifable?

    The peace and harmony, lets put aside those political activists, is refering to an overall view of what happened.

    On those period that you mentioned don’t you think that was a pattern of ethnic cleansing first by Suharto against those that were Pro Sukarno and the latter being power struggle by Wiranto and Prabowo making Chinese the scapegoat.

    Tell me what happend after 1965 and until 1997. What did the majoity of Indonesian enjoy so there is nothing to say that we are concentrating on violence against chinese.
    Didn’t the majority of Indonesa enjoy peace and happy living during those periods besides what appened to those political activists.

    So which is which. Indonesians may like rujak with rice or salt with rice but not everyone.

    If you segregate each and every part of the activities carried out by the government, you should be able to see which is considered priority to maintain peace and stability for the country because it reflects the economy and security to investment.

    Politics and economic shold be seen as a whole and not because someone dislike what a person do then mixed them all up togther.

    Therefore by summing up these you should be able to see that the Feedom of speech for Isamic factions could definitely spelt trouble for the country. This is exactly imilar to those demonstrant at Trisakti who were shot. There were victims of a political struggle.

    In England you can shout your heart out at Trafalgar Square provided nothing is said of the Royal Family.

    Did you see anything different then!

  13. avatar enigmatic says:

    dragonwall:

    Can you guy please tell us the difference between then nd now in terms of:

    1. Security
    2. Economy
    3. Employment
    4. Country Condition
    5. Performance

    Indonesia may be nowhere better off than Suharto today, but take note that what Suharto installed over 32 years cannot be dismantled within a decade. 3 Presidents have tried that but failed. However, I dare say that Indonesia has improved marginally at least.

    SBY may not change things fully by 2014, but at least he has made significant progress. The Aceh Peace Process is a significant milestone because of the different security conditions. Many of your yardsticks overlap each other, so I’ll just talk about the security economy and performance.

    In terms of security, yes Indonesia was hit by many terror bombings for the past decade. But the world wasn’t spared either because of the globalisation of terror. To imply that security has worsened since the New Order is not fully appropriate. Right now we’re attacked by Islamic fundamentalists, but back then terror was, bluntly put, state sanctioned. Think Aceh. At least there’s greater security there after the New Order.

    As for the economy, you have to remember that back in the New Order the economy only seemed to be working well. Even till 1997 every economic indicator seemed to show Indonesia would be spared Thailand’s fate in the Asian Financial Crisis. Suharto’s economic policies looked sound on the surface, and yes it was good but only in the immediate period after he took power when he dismantled Konfrontasi and restored ties with the International community for investments etcetc to restore the economy.

    But his policies of fostering cronies (like the dude running for Golkar chair) and cukongs like Lim Sioe Liong merely created resentment for the rest of the country by focusing the income on them and of course his family. When the Asian Financial Crisis struck the Chinese were easily scapegoated and vilified for their lack of patriotism while the black sheep like him fled with money in tow. The ones hit hard are not these bastards but the poorer ones who are maligned. Crony capitalism only fulfilled their financial stability and that of the first family.

    Dragonwall, if anything, the Chinese in Indonesia were Suharto’s convenient political pawns and cash cows. Their population is too insignificant to mount any political challenge to him, and their astute management skills suited him (and his family) just fine. If things don’t go well they could always be blamed for the country’s problems. How nice.

    In terms of performance, Indonesia is improving internationally. Economically Indonesia was able to have positive growth despite the global recession. During the AFC the economic fundamentals were weak and everything just self-destructed as soon as trouble came. Perhaps it hasn’t fully recovered from the AFC, but there has been significant improvements so much so that it’s been speculated to be included in the BRIC. Politically SBY’s reelection would usher in a more stable political system, something that went missing after the New Order imploded.

    Diplomatically, Indonesia has problems with Malaysia over the cultural theft, but spats with Malaysia have occurred since they were independent anyway. We’re losing against them over a song and a dance, and over Sipadan and Ligitan, but these losses cannot be attributed to the present Government alone. The foundations laid by Suharto discredited Indonesia’s reputation in so many aspects so badly that it’s not going to be restored in a generation. Stable government back then, yes, but isn’t the government now stable as well?

  14. avatar Dragonwall says:

    I will spent some time answering to your comment later in the evening.

  15. avatar dragonwall says:

    Indonesia may be nowhere better off than Suharto today, but take note that what Suharto installed over 32 years cannot be dismantled within a decade. 3 Presidents have tried that but failed. However, I dare say that Indonesia has improved marginally at least.

    Tell us what had he installed? Most of the part that was installed by him had been dismantled but it is those stupid government official that were suppose to implement new presidential decree were not doing the job. Worse of all new laws were enacted to further segregate if not marginalized minoroties. So where is the improvement? For the better or worse.

    In terms of security, yes Indonesia was hit by many terror bombings for the past decade. But the world wasn’t spared either because of the globalisation of terror. To imply that security has worsened since the New Order is not fully appropriate. Right now we’re attacked by Islamic fundamentalists, but back then terror was, bluntly put, state sanctioned. Think Aceh. At least there’s greater security there after the New Order.

    During the era of New Order was there such things as these bombings? Whatever happened to other parts of the world does not concern Indonesia. When Islamic Fundamentalist and extremist set the ground work to confront Indonesia with terror, the Indonesian Government seemed light handed on these people. As for Aceh, it was suppose to be part of Indonesia, now it isn’t or to say on their own but still lynching on the Indonesian Government calling themselves autonomous region. In actual fact the TNI should have wiped out GAM long time ago, then Aceh would unlikely to gain what they were fighting for. Similary to what Blow Job Habibie did.

    As for the economy, you have to remember that back in the New Order the economy only seemed to be working well. Even till 1997 every economic indicator seemed to show Indonesia would be spared Thailand’s fate in the Asian Financial Crisis. Suharto’s economic policies looked sound on the surface, and yes it was good but only in the immediate period after he took power when he dismantled Konfrontasi and restored ties with the International community for investments etcetc to restore the economy.

    The last round on the economic in 1988 was 500 to 1 USD until radius Prawiro had it devalued to 1000 to 1 USD. I see people right in front of my eyes scuttling back and forth Bank Duta to grab free money. 1992 it started to dropped to 2000 + to 1 USD then towards 95 96 it started to spiralled downards to 15,000 and then the riot brought it to thw lowest of close to 20,000 to 1 USD. It bounce back to 6000 and then yoyo between 7,500 to 13,000. Tell us what you see in it. Like what you say looked sound on the surface? No, not just that. Until his impeachment investment was still sound.

    But his policies of fostering cronies (like the dude running for Golkar chair) and cukongs like Lim Sioe Liong merely created resentment for the rest of the country by focusing the income on them and of course his family.

    I know that having to foster ties with such cronies was not to the best interest for Indonesia. But were you able to come up with a solution to feed such a huge army and a great number of the poor with Government funding? Most of them were from secret investment tactics he vest on what your so called cukongs to subsidize Government spendings which by and large was definitely insufficient from the APBN and APBD allocations.

    When the Asian Financial Crisis struck the Chinese were easily scapegoated and vilified for their lack of patriotism while the black sheep like him fled with money in tow.

    They were vilified when sore eyes traitors wrestling for powers came running and say that he is the culprit for helping Suharto. With Anton Medan (who is also a traitor) claimed that all Chinese Indonesian should be held responsible for the demise of Indonesia. Honestly speaking most of the money were already out of the country long before the riot. What they do with that money is, honestly speaking, none of yours or mine business. Where they choose to bring their money to is their personal rights. Many had said that Suharto had such and such an amount in whatever country. I said in my postings long ago. No one is able to find that alibaba’s cave. Why? Because the money were all spent on the army and the poor people. Don’t you think moving a huge amount of money will not create another country to blow the whistle? And Causing the rupiahs to dip further. The dip only came during the crisis and not like what was claimed.

    The ones hit hard are not these bastards but the poorer ones who are maligned. Crony capitalism only fulfilled their financial stability and that of the first family.

    So you feel that when Liem Sioe Liong and your co called cronies are not the one that was hit the hardest? So how their assets manage to shrunk? If it had not been for such cronies (not that I am pro KKN) then Indonesia may not have survive that long.
    If Suharto had listened to Abdul Rahman Wahid’s advice of retiring then he would have ended a hero, right. I think there will be no such things as Habibie Blowing the Job. He won’t have something to blow on. Do not misunderstand that these were speculation. To me you are speculating and hearsay. To me I was there. Know the difference? The only thing I cannot say anything more as it would definitely expose who I am.
    People kept thinking that when the owner of a bank owes money to BI on loans given to clients (maybe their kin, or whatever) they are know as KKN. Looking from the viewpoint of a bank and economic developments, must I go around and say: Hey I have a 100 million project, I don’t want to be involved in KKN so i must give that to you.
    The one reason I think these people are running away from Indonesia and refusing to return is because of the Indonesian Legal System that does not protect the rights of these people therefore in order to safeguard themelves that is the only alternatives for them to take.
    If you remember the case of Edy Tansil. Tell me what you know that happened. How could a person in jail could fly out of Indonesia. Because he paid theose people to get him out? No because he took the fall for TS and therefore he was assured of his safety. Say wht you like. Wasn’t his family vitimized and vilified?
    How Ibu Tien died? Who shot her? Why was there no post mortem conducted?

    If anything, the Chinese in Indonesia were Suharto’s convenient political pawns and cash cows.

    Don’t you think so?

    Their population is too insignificant to mount any political challenge to him,

    Did someone challenged him politically?

    and their astute management skills suited him (and his family) just fine. If things don’t go well they could always be blamed for the country’s problems. How nice.

    So what do you think of that? Any truth to that.

    In terms of performance, Indonesia is improving internationally. Economically Indonesia was able to have positive growth despite the global recession.

    What growth?

    During the AFC the economic fundamentals were weak and everything just self-destructed as soon as trouble came. Perhaps it hasn’t fully recovered from the AFC, but there has been significant improvements so much so that it’s been speculated to be included in the BRIC.

    Correct fundamentally, the Indonesian economy was strong until the 1996 crisis followed by the 1998 1999 riot that cause them to crash.

    Politically SBY’s reelection would usher in a more stable political system, something that went missing after the New Order imploded.

    So you see the problem yourself.

    Diplomatically, Indonesia has problems with Malaysia over the cultural theft, but spats with Malaysia have occurred since they were independent anyway. We’re losing against them over a song and a dance, and over Sipadan and Ligitan, but these losses cannot be attributed to the present Government alone

    Then you have not been fair when Indonesia had became independent on when was that.

    The foundations laid by Suharto discredited Indonesia’s reputation in so many aspects so badly that it’s not going to be restored in a generation. Stable government back then, yes, but isn’t the government now stable as well?

    So in other words, when anew person take over as new head of state, the first thing that person must do is to start fighting on that and ignore what is hapenning in the country?
    So how stable then and now?

  16. avatar Ross says:

    Alas, the call from the mosque has awoken me! Usually I sleep though it, after years here, but it has remindied me of all those ads on tv showing people breaking their fast and taking pity on those without sustenance to do so. Helping the needy, yet Jakarta aims to close down the beggars.

    Most of the foreigners i know disapprove of the ordinance. it seems harsh, all the more so in a season of goodwill.

    But there are many who point out the large number of professional beggars who seek alms despite having nice houses and all the resources they need. The truckloads mentioned above can be supplemented by the trainloads who come into town during Ramadan.

    My own view is that one ought to pick and choose. My ‘own’ beggar is a guy who holds up a plastic bucket just past the Pasaraya, on the lane that leads up to Melawai. His legs are not functional, and although many affect such disabilities, I have seen this fellow crawling up the stairs from the shopping mall beneath the Blok M terminal; unless he is a very good actor, he’s the real thing.

    He gets a thousand from me whenever I pass by. (that may seem parsimonious, but i pass him almost every day, so he appears happy at my miniscule largesse.)

    Anyway, I’d recommend this approach. You can’t really be expected to hand out cash to every single one who asks for it, so why not be selective and know that you are doing a wee bit of good where it is truly needed.

    The ones I hate most, on the other hand, are the Pak Permisi types. These go around door-to-door, carrying sheets of paper with unlikely sums ascribed to other residents. You are busy indoors when you hear the hissing ‘permisi’ outfront, which turns out to be him. he looks respectable and proffers a brown envelope, which you may think is a note from the RT, till you open it.
    ‘Who’s this from?’
    ‘Warga!’ And on the form is a grubbily printed address of a mesjid or yayasan somewhere far enough away that you won’t be going round to check.

    You can just hand it back, thereby facing a look of wounded astonishment, or, as I do, give him Rp 1000, saying by way of explanation that ‘all beggars get the same from me, but only one a day.’
    Some of the berks even retort that ‘I’m no beggar,’ but by that time you are back in watching the dangdut!

  17. avatar Odinius says:

    As I see it, you either have comprehensive social services for the homeless, or you have beggars surviving off of the private sector (i.e. strangers giving them coins, zakat, alms, etc.)

    Given that Indonesia does not have any comprehensive social services at all, let alone for the homeless, it’s a bit harsh to force them to stop asking for money from private citizens.

  18. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Enigmatic wrote:

    “Indonesia may be nowhere better off than Suharto today, but take note that what Suharto installed over 32 years cannot be dismantled within a decade. 3 Presidents have tried that but failed.”

    How hard did they try? In the Philippines they got rid of Marcos but not of the Marcos cronies. Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo – none of them made a visible move in that direction.

    The same might apply as far as the Suharto cronies are concerned. Of course it doesn’t help for the sitting President to declare that Suharto was one of “the finest sons of the Indonesian people”. This was at any case never stated about Marcos by the later presidents as far as the Philippines was concerned. And yet in my book Suharto was a far more reprehensible fellow than Marcos. They rivalled each other in kleptocratic practices but Suharto had far greater responsibility for the death of thousands upon thousands of his countrymen and -women.

  19. avatar dragonwall says:

    And yet in my book Suharto was a far more reprehensible fellow than Marcos. They rivalled each other in kleptocratic practices but Suharto had far greater responsibility for the death of thousands upon thousands of his countrymen and -women.

    It may be agreeable that the kleptocratic practices were mentioned on both Marcos and Suharto. The former was proven and found guilty because the gold that he hoarded was found. In the case of suharto, there was nothing found. If you were to look into wat happened to those Yayasans he headed, they were all interlinked. Each Yayasan had their purpose and duties to disperse funds to whatever the purpose was. Until this very day, I am quite sure no one manage to unveil any of those thought to be stolen funds to his peronal name.

    When he had took over the command from Sukarno, his very first duty was to eradicated those who were thought to be or were Communist elements wit regardless who they are Indonesians or foreign and that was with thehelp of CIA. Lets say if you were to take command of the job to do what is necessary to upkeep the stability of the country, I am damn sure you would be doing the same, wouldn’t you!

    If what he did was that of Idi Amin, killing because they were his rivals or personal vendetta, damned it hang him.

    Wiranto and Prabowo were responsible for ethnic cleansing, why weren’t they incarcerated. Syfrie Syamsuddin took part in ethnic cleansing, why is he promoted? He is promoted for doing a good job in assisting.

    I bet for the nect decade, there is no action taken on these three traitors of Indonesia. I wonder how come SBY did not name Arief Kushariady to be the Defence Minister. What a pity.

  20. avatar Odinius says:

    Wiranto and Prabowo, of course, both being Suharto proteges.

  21. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Dragonwall, since you are on the spot it is probably fairly easy for you to get hold of a copy of Colonel Abdul Latief’s defense speech when, after 13 years of solitary confinement, he was put on trial. Its title is Soeharto Terlibat G30S – Pledoi Kol.A.Latief, Institut Studi Arus Informasi, 2000, Jakarta.

    I have only seen a summary of its most important points. It is well known that Soeharto met Latief, one of the coup plotters, on the eve of the coup. Soeharto later acknowledged that but claimed that Latief came to check up on him in the hospital where his son Tommy was treated for burns. He came to murder him, so was Soeharto’s story, but lost heart because there were so many people around (as if an Indonesian wouldn’t know in advance that an Indonesian hospital is always full of people).

    Distinguished Indonesianists, such as Benedict Anderson, Ruth McVey and Wim Wertheim, had not long after the coup, and before Latief had a chance to speak out, already come to a different conclusion. Soeharto was in on the plot, did not report it to his military superiors such as Gen.Ahmad Yani and Gen.Nasution, allowed these rivals to be eliminated first and then moved against the coup plotters. Latief’s ‘pledoi’ confirmed this.

    This reading of the affair is also confirmed by the fact that many of the coup plotters had been or were under the command of Soeharto and that they must have felt that they could trust him. Anderson wrote:

    “Other facts strengthen Latief’s accusation. Almost all the key military participants in the September 30th Movement were, either currently or previously, close subordinates of Suharto: Lieutenant-Colonel Untung, Colonel Latief, and Brigadier-General Supardjo in Jakarta, and Colonel Suherman, Major Usman, and their associates at the Diponegoro Division’s HQ in Semarang. When Untung got married in 1963, Suharto made a special trip to a small Central Javanese village to attend the ceremony. When Suharto’s son Sigit was circumcised, Latief was invited to attend, and when Latief’s son’s turn came, the Suharto family were honoured guests. It is quite plain that these officers, who were not born yesterday, fully believed that Suharto was with them in their endeavour to rescue Sukarno from the conspiracy of the Council of Generals. Such trust is incomprehensible unless Suharto, directly or indirectly, gave his assent to their plans”

    After the coup a team of forensic doctors reported to Soeharto that the generals, whose corpses were found in the Lobang Buaya, had been gunned down by military weapons. But two days after the coup the media, then fully in the hands of Soeharto, ceaselessly reported that the generals had been murdered by members of the communist women’s association GERWANI who had gouged out their eyes and cut off their genitals. I remember another rumor of that time: a Chinese ship had imported a mass of scalpels from China to gouge out the eyes of any other opponents of the G30S movement.

    Mass hysteria was deliberately whipped up and this led to one of the greatest, if not the greatest, massacre of post war history. Estimates of the number of victims vary from 700,000 to 2,000,000.

    Add to that the victims in East Timor (probably 200,000), Papua (estimated way back to be 100,000), the Petrus Affair, Aceh, Lampung, Tanjung Priok etc.

    Anderson concluded that it was not the ‘Dewan Jenderal’ that had been plotting to overthrow Sukarno but Soeharto himself, with the help of the then intelligence chief of Kostrad ( of which Soeharto was the commander) Ali Murtopo and Benny Murdani. Murtopo was fostering contacts with representatives of Malaysia and Singapore (then enemy countries) and the US. Murdani, disguised as a Garuda emplopyee, was doing the same from Bangkok. See on the possible British role in this Wikipedia under the heading ’30 September movement’.

    As is well known Soeharto got his way about half a year later when he obtained the “Supersemar”, virtually at gunpoint, from Sukarno.

    So much for his concern about the country’s stability.

    In comparison with the crimes mentioned above his financial peculations pale into insignificance. Yet I might devote another post to them at some other time.

  22. avatar dragonwall says:

    I see you read, copy and paste the catalogues quite well but not well enough.
    Most of the main actors in, and key witnesses to, the crisis of 1965, have either died or been killed. Those who are still alive have kept their lips tightly sealed, for various motives: for example, Umar Wirahadikusumah,Omar Dhani, Sudharmono, Rewang, M. Panggabean, Benny Murdani, Mrs. Hartini, Mursyid, Yoga Sugama, Andi Yusuf and Kemal Idris.18 Now that thirty-five years have passed since 1965, would it not be a
    good thing for the future of the Indonesian nation if these people were required to provide the most detailed accounts of what they did and witnessed,before they go to meet their Maker?

    These people were alive! So why these people kept their lips tight? After the Death of Suharto, everyone should have jumped out and give the personal account of what happened.

    According to Eddie Sarwo the pogrom was in excess of two million!

    Sorry can someone find a grave that big? And where is that located.

    Try reading this
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transition_to_the_New_Order
    http://www.library.ohiou.edu/indopubs/1999/07/25/0257.html
    http://www.answers.com/topic/suharto
    http://aboeprijadi.blogspot.com/
    http://www.forums.apakabar.ws/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=30986&start=0

    And see where it brings us to.

    Don’t forget that Abdul Latief was conscript by the Dutch.

  23. avatar dragonwall says:

    And the US Conspiracies

  24. avatar Arie Brand says:

    “I see you read, copy and paste the catalogues quite well but not well enough.”

    Catalogues?

    Dragonwall, when I copy and paste something I indicate this by using quotation marks and mentioning the source.

    I cannot say the same of you. You might have forgotten this but last year I caught you on this very blog in plagiarizing Charles Krauthammer on Israel and presenting it as your own stuff.

    And now you are at it again.

    The entire paragraph following the first line of your post is pinched from Benedict Anderson’s account of the matter in the New Left Review, again without any acknowledgment. And that account is diametrically opposed to your thesis that Soeharto provided stability. He was, instead, instrumental in bringing about a situation in which millions of people were killed or tortured and jailed. And you see nothing better to do than copying a passage of his story as if it somehow supports your contention.

    “Don’t forget that Abdul Latief was conscript by the Dutch.”

    Yes, you got that fact from Anderson as well. But why do you refer to it? Is that supposed to somehow reflect on his reliability as a witness ? A conscript (which according to Anderson he was for a very short time) does not enter an army voluntarily. Soeharto, on the other hand, voluntarily joined the colonial army before the war. He was a sergeant there.

    BTW, I don’t know whether Anderson was right about that ‘conscript’. When the war threatened Indonesians were, as far as I know, not conscripted.

  25. avatar Odinius says:

    Roosa’s brilliant “Pretext for Mass Murder” sort of explodes the Latief story, but at the same time, demonstrates how an easily contained and botched coup, which was conducted at the elite level and without the mass support of the PKI, was used to perpetrate one of the worst mass murders in modern history.

    The PKI leadership comes off bad; the genocidaires even worse.

  26. avatar Arie Brand says:

    I haven’t read Roosa’s book and thus far I only saw some fragments of its last chapter on the internet. Unfortunately, just when it deals with the question what Suharto knew of it beforehand there are pages missing. For instance p 203 “Suharto probably knew before hand that Latief and Untung were plotting some sort of action but it is …” Then page 204 is missing. The same on p.220 “Suharto was able to act on October 1 with ‘uncanny efficiency” (as Wertheim put it) because he already had some idea that the movement …” Then page 221 is missing. Can any one complete those paragraphs?

    One other sentence caught my eye.”Untung was a soldier who had advanced through the ranks because of his bravery, not his intelligence”. I met Untung in September 1962 in his army camp in Sisir near Kaimana. The aftermath of that meeting and the later trouble he was intent on causing in Kaimana seem to confirm that judgment (as far as the bit on his intelligence is concerned). I have described this all in my series on the birth of the Papua independence movement Part XI.

  27. avatar Odinius says:

    I can recap for you. He uses a new set of documents to show that the coup was not planned by “double-agents,” and at most Suharto had some intelligence suggesting a coup could be in the works, but was no dalang. The army’s policy was to let the PKI and its allies play their hand, so the argument is that the coup–which Roosa shows was real–was a convenient pretext for mass murder (hence the name).

    Good book.

  28. avatar dragonwall says:

    Honestly speaking whether this has been a referral to understand conflicts between Suharto and Latief’s version.

    The ulterior motive is not what it is right now going into the mass murders committed by people that were mentioned.

    1. The question is that did Suharto brought about stability and prosperity to Indonesia during his reign until his impeachment.
    2. No one was is able to under those circumstance tocome up with a truthful answer except that he was branded a corruptor then come the PKI coup.

    Whoever they are is unimportant.

    Before the stability annd prosperity, Indonesia was in a mess involved with Connunist ties and that had brought about the displeasure of the US because of the threats that US fear. Then came the CIA conspiracy.

    Somehow, somewhere, soneplace someone had worked out something to apprehend the Communis problems in Indonesia. And that was Suharto.

    The US provided the hit lists to them to began the execution by the thousands daily. The exact amount of the what was estimated of the PKI members to be in the region of 3 million members. So an estimated was calculated that during those period of G 30 S PKI the total number of people that was thought to have been executed was between 700,000 to 2 million that I seriously doubted. They may not even have that 3 million members. I like to agree in the range of between 250,000 to 750,000 because to find a burial site the massive to accomodate 2 million corpses will be too significant to ignore.

    Since Suharto was the person who lead the elimination of PKI members, what he had done was is definitely with intent to ensure Indonesia can properly controlled without any futher interferrence by the PKI. From then on Indonesia had began a road of rebuilding and was later transformed to what was Indonesia until 1998.

    To me, let say if it is you, don’t you think sacrifice was made with a cause. So was that for the better or for the worse. The reason why corruption in Indonesia existed until this very day was rooted since after the coup.

    Everyone needs a scratch on the back and that later became the tradition, like what people used to call Ibu Tien as Ten percent. To unplugged it had became one of Indonesia’s most difficult task and attempt to eliminate this massive corruption practice had also became one of the most difficult task for those presidents that had taken the seat of Suharto.

    As you said that

    thesis that Soeharto provided stability.

    In any country, prosperity or poverty has been the aftermath of a war or civil commotion. So many countries undergoing such a makeoveris bound to make sacrifice in collateral damage. Don;t you think so.

    Therefore I can see that what you describe is that Suharto is the culprit instrumental to causing the death of the so called millions of PKI members. First of all do you want Indonesia to become a Communist country? If not then tell us what will you do?
    So the tukang sapu began the sweeping and now people are saying that the tukang sapu had make the cleaning but during the cleaning process those tukang sapu had to remove all obstacles by killing all those in their way.

    Many countries like, Malaysia, Singapore too have undergo those process. So what did they say of eliminating all those Communist elements from their country?

    What they are enjoying right now is because someone had done the dirty job.
    We could figure out which ever direction you so desire to take, be it Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.

    I am not prepare to speculate on what was written then considered to be a conspiracy of the CIA.

    Can you describe to us after that period of time, your parents (probably you were still unborn) and later you and perhaps your family, are you all enjoying the fruit of Indonesia’s economic development until 1996. Would you be considered to be whinning and sighing?

    Now to touch up on East Timor and all those places that had undergo ethnic cleansing, that had become something different to what happened before 1965. Don’t you thin so?

    Communist and ethnic cleansing that belong to two different categories of military actions taken. The former being a must for the Indonesian’s head of state to safeguard the future of the country. The latter being what I considered something that to be someone who feel that their co-existence of such a race in society is not what they want to see. So can you describe what category does the former and lattter comprise of!

    I didn’t justify the killings of those from East Timor, Papua and etc. But eliminating the communist is something mandatory to a democratic country. This should be the political thinking of a good leader. You cannot rule a country under both democracy and communist, could you. It was later thought by the US that after causing that much damage, like 1965 and 1998 they decide it is about time to wash their hands and that could be the case of the conflicting details of such unfortunate events.

    Like for now, there is this 9 criticsm against the communist of China and party members are thought to have surrendered their membership by the tens of thousand daily. The reason for so doing is that they are tired of livelihood under communist regime in so called “Walking Towards Democracy” for China.

    I think there might be question you will ask as to this.

  29. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Ben Anderson no doubt read Roosa but in his obituary of Suharto last year I can find no signs that he has changed his mind.

    Here is a crucial passage:

    “The crisis finally exploded on the morning of October 1, 1965, when a small group of mostly middle-ranking army officers kidnapped and later killed six senior generals on the grounds that they were planning Sukarno’s overthrow. Most of these disaffected officers had long personal associations with Suharto, and it is virtually certain that they informed him of their plans. They made no attempt to seize him, though he had operational command of all seasoned military units in the capital. Nor did Suharto make the slightest effort to warn Yani and his comrades of what was afoot. Instead he crushed the conspirators with ease and proclaimed that they were tools of the Communist Party”

  30. avatar Odinius says:

    Well, Roosa’s book is a (respectful) debunking of Anderson’s long-held point-of-view. Also it’s important to keep in mind that Anderson, while a great scholar, is hardly politically impartial here. Of course, the book is also inconvenient for the pro-Suharto crowd/anti-PKI crowd, as he provides evidence that the coup was planned only at the highest levels of the PKI, and there were no plans for a general uprising.

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