Dutch legacy in Indonesia


Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
San Antonio, Tx
You're rehashing something that has already been addressed in this thread. There was no such thing as '350 years of Dutch colonial rule' over the East Indies. Dutch colonial rule effectively started only in 1800 when the Dutch republic nationalized the possessions of the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie. Furthermore, most of the archipelago was actually conquered fairly recent. The map below illustrates this very well.

Thank you for this. I was confusing the VOC with Dutch Colonial rule.
Jan 2016
Timdog stated in an earlier post that he has no real answer to the Indonesian complaint that the colonial education system amounted to an attempt to "dibodohi" them.I have given an extensive sketch of the colonial education system above but I don't know whether this allows Timdog to come up with some sort of answer to this stereotypical Indonesian complaint because he has remained strangely silent.

I wonder what his reaction is to these remarks of Andre Vitchek about present day education in Indonesia. I remember that Vitchek was discussed earlier on the website Indonesia matters and that Timdog was of the opinion that Vitchek exaggerated tremendously and had no real knowledge of Indonesia (coming to think of it I can't recall that Timdog himself ever made a critical remark about the present situation in Indonesia). Well, maybe so but a new Indonesian publishing house, Badak Merah, took him seriously enough to bring out his book Indonesia - Archipelago of Fear in an Indonesian translation (Indonesia - Untaian Ketakutan di Nusantara). And the Indonesian writer Rossie Indira took him seriously enough to interview him for Counterpunch (9th May 2014). It is from this interview that the following fragments have been taken:

“Even Rwanda has much better roads than Indonesia. Even Zimbabwe has much better public schools. Even Kenya has more reliable mobile and Internet networks. Even Botswana has better public hospitals.
The regime is lying about everything, including the number of people who live here, and about the number of poor (in reality the great majority of the population). Education is almost non-existent. The so-called education system is here only to brainwash, and to maintain the status quo. And it shows: the country of over 300 million (real number) has not one great scientist or thinker, in stark contrast to places like Nigeria, which has many.
There has to be a strong drive to educate the people. As it is now, after the US-sponsored 1965 military coup and consequent bloodbath, Indonesian culture has been destroyed and replaced by local and mainly US pop. Thinking has been strongly discouraged. Decent education is strictly for the elites, and those who are educated are using their knowledge to extract even more from the country, and not to improve it as a whole.
There can be no democracy in a country where people are uneducated and do not understand their own position in the society and the world. People ‘rule’ only if they can make ‘educated decisions’. Democracy means ‘rule of the people’, but are people really ruling if all they can do is to count how much money they get for sticking paper into a box, or if they vote for candidates who will make sure that the status quo prevails? And all the candidates in Indonesia are pre-selected and approved by the regime, especially those who appear to be a ‘little bit different’, like Jokowi.
Of course each citizen should try to educate him or herself, but only after receiving some essential, basic blocks of knowledge. Formal education should always be free; from kindergarten to PhD. It is free in many European countries, and in several Latin American ones (including Cuba, Mexico and Argentina). China is returning to free education, as it is returning to universal health care. In countries like Chile, people are on the streets right now fighting for free education, and they are winning!
Culture has to be constantly on the vanguard, too. It should be educating people, as it does in Latin America: thousands of great theatres, art cinemas, millions of free books distributed by the governments, public poetry readings, free public lectures, and all sorts of bookstores are open until early mornings, exhibitions reacting to the needs and sorrows of society, concerts of engaged music.
Please just look at those Indonesian cities: Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan… are there any other cities on earth, of that size, with such an absolute chronic lack of culture, and institutions that are supposed to make people think? Like theatres, archives, grand libraries, concert halls, art cinemas, progressive bookstores… There is nothing here…
How could you educate yourself in Indonesia? Could you, just by consuming that obligatory crap – pop, and the junk television channels, or from mingling with that ‘functionally illiterate majority’, which is hiding its idiocy in the ocean of similarly minded citizens?
As for free education, universal medical care and other basic rights: Yes, people have to fight! Of course they have to. Free and good education is their right, no matter what advisors and ‘experts’ coming from the United States say.
The country has already been governed for too long by sclerotic uncles who have sold their nation off to foreign companies and governments. These people have no morals and no compassion. If you negotiate with them, they will only do what they have been doing for decades: they will cheat and lie, trying to buy time. They don’t give a damn about Indonesia and its people! They want those Porsches and diplomas for their kids, and luxury condominiums in Australia, the United States, Singapore and Hong Kong.”
Jan 2016
Arie Brand
FEBRUARY 20, 2016 AT 1:55 AM
Well the author might be right about contemporary Indonesia (though had those horrid meals something to do with his dyspepsia?) but he has strange illusions about Sukarno’s Indonesia.
Augmented Ether
FEBRUARY 20, 2016 AT 7:43 AM
Sorry, but you have to be more specific and make a point in a proper context. How about you write a counter piece and tell us how you see it?

These one line attempts at discrediting are seen for what they are, irrelevant.
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Arie Brand
FEBRUARY 21, 2016 AT 4:59 PM
Since Augmented Ether asked for it here it is:

It is useless to argue with Mr.Vitchek because it is obvious that he only recognises his own prejudices as a valid source. Most other sources will be dismissed as belonging to the academe he deems to be prostituted and which he says he has said farewell to (did it ever welcome him?).

Mr.Vitchek calls himself a philosopher, I don’t know by what right – perhaps he followed a course in philosophy once. He shows at any case not a trace of the reflective attitude one associates with a philosophical disposition. One learns nothing from this long article than that Mr.Vitchek dislikes Indonesia and some of his reasons for that. There is not even the beginning of an analysis why Indonesia is in such a mess – except for some wild and unspecific accusations about the supposedly nefarious activities of “the Empire” and Western powers in general.

I will not argue though with his portrait of contemporary Indonesia. Having my own reasons for disliking that country, I find it not altogether unrecognisable.

What I would like to take issue with is his portrait of the Sukarno-era and of Sukarno himself – a man about whom he seems to have rather childish illusions. Unlike Mr.Vitchek, who was born at the very end of Sukarno’s reign, I have been able to follow most of Sukarno’s presidential career as an adult. In addition I have read various Sukarno biographies (notably those by Penders and Giebels).

This then is my view of Sukarno: he was a wastrel of a President who spent tremendous amounts of money on his almost yearly foreign trips with full retinue that mainly served to reinforce his vanity. Part of that money went on accommodating the women he had had “organised” for him, often in the most luxurious accommodation. He was a notorious and outrageous erotomaniac for whom even the foreign ambassadors ‘ wives and daughters were not safe. After every trip abroad this head of state, who was supposed to be a dignified representative of his country, figured in salacious ambassadorial reports on his escapades in the countries he had visited. The last of his three official wives was the Japanese nightclub hostess Nemoto, later known as Dewi, who ran her own extortion racket once she was established as “first lady” (see L.Giebels, 2005, De Stille Genocide (The Silent Genocide), p.80).

If one uses Herbert Feith’s conceptual distinction of Indonesian politicians in “administrators” and “solidarity makers” one could argue that Sukarno, though always a lousy administrator, was at the beginning of his career at any case a “solidarity maker”. Finally even that art escaped him, to wit the political earth quake of Sept. 1965. By then he had, if not encouraged at any case tolerated, the terrorisation of whole neighbourhoods by bands of black shirted youths who called themselves communists, and high handed “land redistribution” in the countryside by other self-defined communists.

Cultural life, such as it was, was regimented by an organisation called Lekra which showed disturbing similarities to a Nazi “Kulturkammer”. One of the operatives in that was Vitchek’s beloved Pramudya Ananta Tur who harassed writers who didn’t think like him.

The Indonesian writers

“H.B.Jassin, M.Balfas and D.S.Moeljanto founded in 1961 the journal Sastra, that declared that its columns would be open to every one “because art is not tied up to ideology”. There was an immediate reaction of Lekra … Sastra was ‘reactionary, not progressive, anti-worker, anti-peace, anti-Communist Party”. Jassin was dismissed from his lecturer’s position and threatened with violence. In 1963 a number of writers without any ideological commitment reacted with the famous “Manifes Kebudayan”, known as Manikebu, against which Lekra immediately started a campaign of terror: Manikebu (so it was said) “ should not only be argued against, but those who supported it had to be destroyed until there was no trace of them left in Indonesia.” The poet Rendra has testified ( among other places in the Volkskrant of 31-10-81) how the signatories of Manikebu (of which he was one) were dismissed one by one (many of them were teachers) and how their publications and public appearances were prohibited. “Some of them were personally threatened and others were molested by teams of strong-arm boys” said Rendra “it was a nightmare.” Dick Hartogo has described how a threatening mass demonstration was organised in Jogya against the journal Basis under the slogan “Basis diterompetkan imperialis” (Basis is the trumpet of imperialism). Sukarno forbade Manikebu under pressure from Lekra; journals and newspapers that did not follow Lekra’s line were no longer allowed to be published; Takdir Alishahbana was confined to a particular city and fled to Malaysia, as did other prominent Indonesian intellectuals. Mochtar Loebis had already been imprisoned earlier.” (Rudy Kousbroek in NRC.nl 4th October 1991 – my translation AB).

Pramudya was the vice-chairman of the section literature of Lekra at that time and these things had in all likelihood his approval though in retrospect he has always acted as if he were as innocent then as a babe unborn. But what is more important in this context is that they couldn’t have happened without Sukarno’s approval.

None of this justifies of course the horrific massacre that followed the failed coup of September 1965 but it is important to realise that that crime against humanity did not fall from the sky and that Sukarno had a share in that disaster.

And if Mr.Vitchek calls what is going on in Papua genocide (as it is) then he should please remember that it was mainly Sukarno who insisted on the colonisation of that Melanesian territory and even declared it to be the most important achievement of his reign. And it was also this faithless man who committed Indonesia to the organisation of a plebiscite about the future of the region in 1969 in the New York agreement of August 1962. He broke that agreement almost as soon as Indonesia was sure of its prey, declaring that of course the Papuan brethren would want to stay with the Republic and that therefore a plebiscite was not necessary. Sukarno’s intimus, Ruslan Abdulgani, who seemed to take pride in the fact, has testified that Indonesia was intent on breaking the agreement right from the start (Suharto went one better – organising a fake plebiscite and getting that rubber-stamped by the UN).

This wastrel of a President who spent millions of the state’s money also ran the economy into the ground. I translate from the second volume of Giebels’ biography:

“Under Sukarno’s Guided Democracy the guided economy was heading for a total breakdown in 1965. All the signals pointed to red. There was wild inflation, though the official exchange rate was 45 rupiah on the dollar, in the black market this went up to 10,000. In only one year the costs of living went up by several hundred points. Industrial production had gone down to 20 % of its capacity because of a lack of raw materials and spare parts … The reserves in gold and foreign currencies had been completely used up… Foreign debt had increased to 2,4 billion dollar .. the money presses worked constantly …The circulation of money had increased by 100 % in 1963, by more than 150 % in 1964 and in the first nine months of 1965 it jumped to 240 %… It appeared that it was impossible to come up with a budget for 1965. The only thing known was that budgetary space was completely exhausted by the costs of defence and the procurement of rice.” (L.Giebels, 2001, Soekarno, Vol.II p.372).

That was Sukarno – Mr.Vitchek can have him.
Oct 2012
Andre Vltchek is some kind of mentally-imbalanced looney who still dreams of a successful communist revolutions in Indonesia and elsewhere. His rantings are best thrown to the rubbish bin.