The Waves Of Time

Click here to subscribe to the print edition. [image, unknown] new internationalist 116[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown] October 1982[image, unknown] Click here to search the mega index.

INDONESIA [image, unknown] The law lends a hand

[image, unknown]

The waves of time
Being at the crossroads of the Indian and Pacific Oceans,
the Indonesian archipelago has been subjected to
wave after wave of alien influence.

AD 700—1550 — Hindu period. Srivijaya empire centred on Sumatra followed by Majapahit empire centred on Java.

1100— Islam introduced by traders

1500s — Portuguese arrive in aearch of spices, bringing Christianity.

1600s - Dutch begin East lndiea trading expanaion. Chineae, Japaneae, Siamese and Indian vessels alao trading.

1799 — Colonial exploitation intenaifiea aa Dutch government takea over from United Eaat Indian Company. Dutch usurp authority of local elite.

1810— Britain defeats Franco- Dutch force and rules Java from Batavia 1816 — butch return.

1825—30 — Java War. Javanese, led by Prince Diponegoro. are forced into submission. Dutch reintroduce forced labour and intensify exploitation.

1830 — ‘Culture System’, under which indigenoua people, particularly on Java are forced to produce caah crops, ia introduced.

1870 — Dutch expand control throughout archipelago by treaty and conquest

1901 — Ethical policy, a combination of state and free enterprise welfare instituted by momentarily conscience-stricken Dutch. Policy fails 1912— Sarekat Islam (SI —first mass Islamic nationalist organisation) emerges from Islamic Trading Association origina

1919 — SI claims 2.5 million membership and changes policy from loyalty to colonial rule to opposition to govern’ ment and ‘sinful capitalism.

1922 —Nationalist movement begins to frighten Dutch.

1926—34 — Non-co-operation led by. Sukarno, Mohammad Hatta and Sjahrir. later to become first president vice president and prime minister respectively of an independent Indonesia.

1942 — Japan invades, Dutch routed

1944—Independence promised by Japan.

1945 — Japan defeated; nationalists declare independence as Dutch return.

1949 — Indonesian state a reality as Dutch transfer sovereignty after four years of war.

1955 — General election. Indonesia’s first and last free election. Inconclusive.

1959 — Guided Democracy introduced by Sukarno. 1 945 constitution, based on Panca Sila (five principles) —nationalism, internationalism (or humanitarianism), democracy (or consent), social prosperity, and belief in God — is reintroduced.

1962 — NASAKOM (cooperation among nationalists, religious groups and communists) urged by Sukarno. Claim on West Irien (West New Guinea) intensified and Dutch hand over control of colony to United Nations 1963 — West nan is handed over to Indonesia.

1964— Land action. Peasants move on large local and foreign landholdings after introduction of agrarian laws limiting landholding size.

1965 — Army suppresses peasant action and consolidates its economic alliance with landlords.

September 30. 1965 — Mutiny by junior officers-against senior military commanders is put down under direction of Major-General Suharto. Sukarno goes into rapid eclipse.

1965—67 — Anti-populist campaign in full flood. Military moves against organisations associated with mass mobilisation politics At least half-a-million killed
1969 — West Irian Act of Free Choice, a stagemanaged farce, confirms Jakarta’s possession.

1970 — ‘De-politicisation’ of rural population by making village-level party politics illegal. Government political party (Golkar) is formed.

1971 — General Election. All remaining mass’mobilisation political parties forbidden to participate in election.

1972 — Political parties merged. Ten remaining parties forced to regroup as two. thus robbing them of their identities

1973 — Protest emerges. Widepsread student youth and human rights protestors criticise the government’s foreign’interest orientated strategy and the activities of intelligence and security organ isations.

1974— Rioting in January during Japanese prime minister's visit Targets are foreign economic dominance and military abuse.

1975 — East Timor in turmoil as Portugal abdicates responsibility. Civil war followed by declaration by Timorese nationalists of ‘Democratic Republic of East Timor' in November and by Indonesian invasion in December.
Political trials of students and academics accused of ‘plotting against the government’.

1977 — General election. Opposition parties intimidated. Voting irregularities.

1978 — Suharto's re-election as president sparks strong protests Scores arrested. Publications closed. Last of political prisoners held without trial since 1965 on Buru Island and in other prisons released.

1980—82 — Strikes and industrial protest become common. Workers prevented from forming own unions. Fifty prominent Indonesians reprimand Suharto in a letter for trying to identify himself with the Panca Si/a. Pramoedya Ananta Toers books are eagerly sought by public.

1981 — Pramoedyas books are banned. Human rights repon. ‘Dark Clouds over Indonesia’. by Jakarta legal aid group, is published. industrial militancy intensifies

1982 — Pre-election rioting at government party rally. Group of 50 signs petition accusing government of doctoring election results.

Compliments of the bar
All of the Indonesians described here could use a lawyer. None could afford to pay one. But times are changing and, in spite of persistent official harassment, a new breed of lawyers is emerging in the form of a nationwide legal aid service.

IN Indonesia it is a courageous, generous lawyer who defends the rights of poor Indonesians who run foul of the law.

Adnan Buyung Nasution became the first of this new breed in 1971 when, with the blessing of Au Sadikin, then Jakarta’s governor, he founded the Legal Aid Institute (Lembaga Bantuan Hukum LBH).

In the decade since, LBH has become an organisation with 15 nationwide affiliates and other groups have formed with the same mission to help the underprivileged within the framework of Indonesian law.

LBH really took off in 1973 when a new generation of political activists came on the scene. Among them was a brilliant young legal worker named T. Mulya Lubis. Pioneeringthe idea of’structural legal aid’, Mulya Lubis argued that it wasn’t enough for legal aid workers simply to help their clients in the courtrooms~ as well, he said, they should get out into the community and teach people about their rights and how to protect them. He has continued to argue for reform of a legal system which institutionalises imbalances of power between rich and poor, governors and governed.

So far, the legal aid bodies are only scratching the surface of the problem. There are so many areas where action is needed workers conditions, peasants’ land rights, the lot of ex-political prisoners. Muslim leaders under government pressure, students and intellectuals in trouble for daring to criticise the government.

The emergence of legal aid has been accompanied by a rising tide of’ protest in the industrial sector. Indonesian workers have the right to join a union but the only legal union in Indonesia is ~he government-organised and controlled All - Indonesia Labour Federation ( Federasi Buruh Seluruh Indonesia FBSI). Even the FBSI’s director, Agus Sudono. has admitted that, in terms of providing protection and leadership for its members, the organisarion is tooth less.

It is not surprising Indonesian workers fear for their interests when Agus Sudono can say things like: industrial action is a luxury developing countries cant afford. h’s sad but true that in the Third World industrial action is a weapon with which workers end up cutting their own throats.

Indonesian law imposes a penalty of up to one year’s imprisonment for anyone implementing or taking part in strikes or lockouts.

Under Mulya Lubis’s direction, as head of the LBH’s human rights division, three handbooks have been produced for the use of wc~rkers, peasants and fishermen. He also has started to produce annual human rights reports and instituted a range of educational activities among workers and villagers. especially in and around Jakarta.

LBH has defended many of Indonesi&s most prominent dissenters W.S. Rendra. moral- religious critic Sawito. author Pramoedya. publisher Joesoef Isak. . But most of its work is among the poor. Its several lawyers at any one time have more than 100 cases on their hands.

LBH often Finds itself threatened by police authorities. Buyung Nasution has spent two years in detention. Mulya Lubis~s position at press time was reported as ‘delicat&. The government is now accusing LBH of becoming politicised’. That is a clear sign that the New Order’s patience with LBH is running out.

Mulya Lubis, asked by Jakartas Tempo magazine about his organisation’s politics’, replied: What do you mean by politics? LBJ-J is not allergic to politics if what you mean by politics is the defence of people when their basic rights are suppressed. But if you mean becoming a contestant in the election, no, LBH is not involved in thaL.. In a country whose legal and political culture isn’t yet fully formed, it is just too easy to use the accusation of being political to suppress your opponents and maintain your power.

Maryam’s job was to watch four machines knitting synthetic cloth. She became very good at sleeping standing up’. Her pay was less than 25 cents a day plus a monthly bonus of$8 a total of about $15 a month. One day she broke a needle on a machine. Her wages were docked $3.20 a month ror three months. One night her bus did not come to take her to work. She lost $1.60 of her monthly bonus. She had an argument with a security guard. She turned to her manager for help. He sacked her with one day’s notice.

[image, unknown]

Pak Effendi
People bought the land next to Pak EtTendi’s house and built an ice factory. The noise keeps his family awake at night. He was given a little compensation money for the inconvenience. Important people in his village told him be should sell his small block of wet rice land to city buyers: be should not stand in the way of ‘development and progress~, they said. Recently the general who had bought it sold it at a much higher price because he owed money to a bank. The land is still idle. Pak EfTendi is too old to compete in the labour market.

[image, unknown]

Siti, a servant to a rich family in her village, receives board and keep while she has her job. When she leaves she expects to be paid $4 in cash for every month she has worked. She was not paid in full when she left her last job. Two of Siti’s sisters have married and gone to live in Sumatra under the government’s relocation scheme. They moved because they were guaranteed they would be given land. Siti would like to follow them but she has a disfigured foot and may find it hard to marry.

[image, unknown]

Achmad, when he was a boy, looked after a buffalo until his father lost his job with the buffalo’s owner. Achmad, only seven, had to help his family. He got ajob, 6am to 5pm, in a tile factory, for 25 cents a day and a howl of rice. He wanted a better job but had no contacts in other factories; no friends to put in a word for him; or the $8 necessary to pay a labour agent to get him a job. Then his old landlord got him a rubber ractory job at 56 cents a day. If his landlord gets a vehicle, he might become a driver. Ar 14, Aebmad has dreams.

[image, unknown]

Heru, 23, head of a shift in a textile mill, makes $31.20 a month, handsome compared to the wages of his charges. Many of his friends have been dismissed, some jailed, for asking for more. ‘Managers are good friends with the police,’ says Heru. His job teaches him nothing that will help him improve his position. There is no promotion to look forward to. To get a better job be would have to pay the labour agent. He worries about not earning enough to get married. In Indonesia a man is not a man until he has children. Heru believes he has no future.

Worth reading on... INDONESIA

Showcase State. Edited by the late Professor Rex Mortirner. Angus and Robertson, Australia, 1978. Surveys of development implementation in Indonesia plus essays on modernisation ideo]ogy. the army and the state of the art’ of analysis of Indonesian economics.

Indonesian Tragedy. By Brian May. Routledge and Keegan Paul, London, 1978. Mays deep experience of Indonesia shows in this assessment of where Indonesia is at today. Provides good insight of dynamism inspired by Sukarno and, realistically evaluates the 'achievements' of the New Order. Perhaps unnecessarily pessimistic as a result of over-emphasis on cultural influences.

Suharto’s Indonesia. By Hamish McDonald, Fontana, 1980. Comprehensive account of major political events since 1965.

on Indonesia. By GJ. Missen. Thomas Nelson. Australia, 1972. Justifiably acclaimed as ‘A critical review of the resource base, the colonial inheritance, the economic activities, people and the future of Indonesia’.

The New Rice In Indonesia. By Ingrid Palmer, UNRISD, Geneva, 1977. Study of the base of Indonesian agriculture. Also The Indonesian Economy by Palmer, 1977.

Indonesian Political Thinking, 1945—65 Edited by Herbert Feith and Lance CasHes, Cornell Unitersiii Press, 1970. Excerpts from writings by Indonesians.

Breaking the Chains of Oppression of the Indonesian People. By Hen Akhnadi Cornell University Press, 1981. The defence plea of student leader Hen Akhmadi which articulates the views of many young Indonesians of the current economic, social, cultural and political situation in their country.

Tapol. Bulletin of the British Campaign for the Defence of Political Prisoners and Human Rights in Indonesia. 8a Trepori Sueez, London SWl8. Valuable journal of Indonesia’s human rights record.

Indonesia: an Alternative History. By the late Malcolm Caldwell and Ernst Utrecht Alternative Publishing Co-operative, Sydney; 1979. Neo-Marxist 'Indonesia-centric' rejection of conventional view of Indonesia ancient and modern.

Previous page.
Choose another issue of NI.
Go to the contents page.
Go to the NI home page.
Next page.

New Internationalist issue 116 magazine cover This article is from the October 1982 issue of New Internationalist.
You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription. Get a free trial »

Subscribe   Ethical Shop