Challenges of History
Publication Year: 2001
Published by: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
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Title Page, Copyright
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This book is based on the proceedings of the 2000 Indonesia Update Confer· coce, held at the Australian National University (ANU). Canberra, on 6-7 October 2000. The conference, and this volume, received generous financial and logistical support from a wide range of organisations, including the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Research School of Pacific and Asian...
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1 THOUGHTS ON INDONESIAN HISTORY
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It is indeed timely, given the wide-ranging changes and pressures in Indonesia in the last few years and the transition to a new century, that illumination is cast not merely on recent events but on seminal issues and episodes in Indonesia’s social, political and economic history. The task of this volume is therefore doubly difficult: charged with surveying the past, it must also provide an ‘update’ of recent...
2 THE CONTINGENT AND THE UNFORESEEN
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My brief for this chapter is more than a little daunting, as I have been asked to
consider what 100 years of Indonesian history might tell us about the future.
No less! Both parts of that assignment pose problems. First of all, does history
tell us anything about the future? Are there any lessons to be drawn? Marx, in
the opening sentence of
3 ABDURRAHMAN’S INDONESIA:POLITICAL CONFLICT AND INSTITUTIONAL CRISIS
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When Abdurrahman Wahid took office as Indonesia’s fourth president in October 1999, many hoped that the country’s first democratically elected leader would show the way to long overdue institutional reform of the political system. Abdurrahman won the presidential race as a compromise candidate, with representatives from most political forces joining what soon was to be called the ‘cabinet of national...
4 THE ECONOMY IN 2000: STILL FLAT ON ITS BACK?
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Indonesia’s GDP grew moderately well in 2000, confirming that the country’s economic recovery is gaining momentum. As a consequence, the government raised its official forecast of economic growth for the whole of 2000 from 3–4% to 4–5%. Although its recovery has been slower than that of other countries affected by the Asian...
5 BRIEF REFLECTIONS ON INDONESIAN POLITICAL HISTORY
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Indonesian politics has been poorly served by historians. Most of the seminal books were contemporary of their time – one thinks of Anderson’s Java in a Time of Revolution, Feith’s Decline of Constitutional Democracy, Crouch’s Army and Politics in Indonesia or even Robison’s Indonesia: The Rise of Capital – and written by scholars whose primary intellectual affiliation was not the study of history. One...
6 THE NEW ORDER: KEEPING UP APPEARANCES
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Our study of Indonesia – ‘our’ being Australian, but also other non-Indonesian, scholars of Indonesia – is tied up with a series of presuppositions about the New Order. Journalism and ‘pop’ academia latches too easily onto complex and sometimes problematic theories and produces simplistic understandings of politics. I argue that the...
7 MIDDLE WAY LEADERSHIP IN INDONESIA: SUKARNO AND ABDURRAHMAN WAHID COMPARED
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Sukarno (1901–70) and Abdurrahman Wahid (born 1940) each became president at a time when the integrity of the ethnically diverse Indonesian nation was threatened, and they each practised what Graham Little has called ‘middle way leadership’. This conjunction was fortunate, for the core psychological assumption of leaders in this mould...
8 PARTIES AND PARLIAMENT: SERVING WHOSE INTERESTS?
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Political parties and the parliament are key elements of Indonesia’s democratisation. In the two years since Soeharto’s downfall, the roles of both have changed dramatically. Parties have proliferated and been freed from state manipulation; they are now the central players in Indonesian politics where once they were either instruments of the New Order regime or largely impotent ‘opposition’ parties. Parliament...
9 CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL IDEOLOGY IN INDONESIA: A FOURTH WAVE?
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The exhilarating political reforms of 1998 and 1999 made many of the ideological mantras of the Soeharto decades (1966–98) seem inane and anachronistic. No longer did politicians speak of ‘Pancasila democracy’, dwifungsi, integralism and the disjuncture between Indonesian culture and liberal freedoms. The new catch cries were...
10 REMEMBERING THE LEFT
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This chapter will explore the meaning, significance and relevance of ‘the Left’ in modern Indonesian political culture, and in Indonesian society in general. This idea, and its heritage, will be assessed both in the activities and statements of so-called ‘dissidents’ opposed to the authoritarian New Order rule imposed by President Soeharto, and in the light...
11 THE RISE AND FALL OF THE GENERALS: THE INDONESIAN MILITARY AT ACROSS ROADS
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This chapter records the involvement of the Indonesian National Army (TNI) in Indonesian politics from the late 1950s through to today. The army faces a number of dilemmas relating to its future, including its political role and its relationship with the executive arm of government. This chapter traces the evolution of the military’s role in Indonesian politics; follows the rise of President Soeharto and his system of promotions and demotions...
12 THE CHANGING DYNAMICS OF REGIONAL RESISTANCE IN INDONESIA
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In much of the discussion of the regional challenges Indonesia has confronted in the post-Soeharto era, there is the implied question of why, after over half a century of independence, Indonesia is still concerned with threats of territorial disintegration. Regional rebellions and separatist movements have been one of the reoccurring features of post-independence...
13 BRIEF REFLECTIONS ON INDONESIAN ECONOMIC HISTORY
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Until quite recently very little attention was paid to Indonesia’s economic history. During the New Order period of government under President Soeharto, economists focused their attention on economic development and, like policymakers, looked to a better future. There seemed to be nothing to learn from the economic failures of the Old Order under President Sukarno, while the Dutch colonial era had become so remote...
14 REFLECTIONS ON THE NEW ORDER ‘MIRACLE’
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Indonesia experienced rapid economic and social development under the New Order government of President Soeharto, and this contributed to rising standards of living for the Indonesian population. However, focus on the economic achievements at the expense of the negative aspects of the New Order gives a biased view of the era. Given the current tendency in Indonesia to look upon the New Order as an unmitigated disaster...
15 INDONESIA’S ECONOMY AND STANDARD OF LIVING IN THE 20TH CENTURY
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Until 1998, Indonesia was on its way to becoming a middle-income country, even though it often seemed that the high rates of economic growth enjoyed since the late 1960s had not lifted the standard of living for all Indonesians. A common explanation was that this was a consequence of increasing income inequality. Another explanation was that it was not widely appreciated that rapid economic growth started from a very...
16 THE CHALLENGE OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: ECONOMIC, INSTITUTIONAL AND POLITICAL INTERACTIONS, 1900–2000
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Economic development used to be thought sufficient both to improve material conditions and to pave the way to a more open and democratic society. Until recently, the progress of the West, the collapse of communism and the rise of Asia appeared to justify this confidence. The Asian crisis sowed doubt because in several countries, include...
17 THE LATEST CRISIS OF REGIONAL AUTONOMY IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
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The recent radical changes to legislation governing the relations between central and local government in Indonesia are the latest in a series of reforms and experiments dating back to the Dutch colonial government’s Decentralisation Law of 1903. However, rather than a steady and maturing evolution, the process has followed what Mackie (1999, p. 2) has referred to as a ‘zigzag’ pattern between decentralisation...
18 BRIEF REFLECTIONS ON INDONESIAN SOCIAL HISTORY
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Only 30 years ago, the dominant view of the social history of the Indonesian archipelago was one of transition to modernity.1 The societies of the region, it was widely believed, were undergoing a process of being ripped from their stable and supportive traditions to be deposited in a modern world in which increasingly uniform values, norms...
19 INDONESIAN VIEWS OF THE FUTURE
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This topic – assigned to me, not chosen – is highly speculative, as readers will recognise. It does, however, have the potential to direct analysis to the centre of Indonesia’s present crises and dilemmas. One’s imagining of the future powerfully shapes what one does today. There is inescapable difficulty in the topic, however, for there has never...
20THE PROSPECTS FOR ISLAM
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Just how important is Islam in modern Indonesian life? For a long time many observers of Indonesian affairs seemed to believe that Islam was of peripheral importance, an impression reinforced by the relative paucity of academic studies of Islam in Indonesia (Hefner 1997a). Compared with most other large Muslim countries, and Indonesia is after...
21 AFTER THE BANS: MODELLING INDONESIAN COMMUNICATIONS FOR THE FUTURE
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The mediascape in post-New Order Indonesia has changed dramatically. Under the unexpectedly liberal approach of Information Minister Muhammed Yunus Yosfiah, the Department of Information cancelled the requirement for press publication permits and issued more than 1,200 new licences. As many as 912 new radio licences and five new television broadcast licences have been issued (Masindo 2000, p. xiii). Whereas for years there was only one officially sanctioned professional association for journalists...
22 GENDER RELATIONS IN INDONESIA: WHAT WOMEN WANT
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Indonesia, in common with most Southeast Asian countries, has long been regarded as according a relatively high status to its women. For centuries observers have commented on the prominent role of women in the economy, the equality conferred by the bilateral kinship system found in much of the archipelago, and other indicators of status.1 Measuring the status of women is a specialised and controversial field,...
23 THE CRIMINAL STATE: PREMANISME AND THE NEW INDONESIA
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This recent news item is typical of a rising tide of reporting in Indonesia not only of widespread vigilantism, but also of the proliferation of violent standover rackets; a linking of religion and ethnicity to gang warfare and the systematic killing of minority groups; terrorist bombings; and the failure, or even complicity, of law enforcement officials in such events. They are in part a consequence of the power vacuum created by...
24 INDEPENDENCE FOR JAVA? NEW NATIONAL PROJECTS FOR AN OLD EMPIRE
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East Timor is no longer a part of Indonesia. Aceh and Papua are seething with secessionist tension. The resource-rich provinces of Riau and East Kalimantan have put in ambit claims for independence, and talk has even been heard of independence demands from Bali and Sulawesi. The Indonesian experiment, a multi-ethnic state stretching more than 5,000 kilometres from east to west, is under challenge today as never before...
25 INDONESIA’S HISTORY UNFOLDING
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There is much truth in the words of Soedjatmoko: studying Indonesian political, economic and social history is a process fraught with difficulty, possibility and, occasionally, disappointment. Discerning myth from reality and form from content is a constant challenge not just for historians (in their various forms), but for those other disciplinarians such as political scientists, anthropologists, demographers and sociologists. To paraphrase...
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Page Count: 359
Publication Year: 2001