Indonesian Democratization

In May 9th, I went to a seminar which held by SogangUniversity for East Asia Studies. The topic of this seminar was “Democratization in Indonesia and underground movement of Utan Kayu community.” The speaker was an Indonesian activist Goenawan Mohamad. And he started the seminar from Indonesian modern history and his government resistance history.

Indonesia was independent from Netherland colonization in August 17th, 1945. Sukarno was the first president of Republic of Indonesia and he was honored as the founding father of Indonesia. After 20 years Sukarno regime, in 1965 September 30, there was a failed coup which was leaded by some military senior officers who so called G30S. The coup was carried out by some communist sympathizer military officers. Some of them were involved to Indonesian Communist Party, PKI. In the beginning of coup, they occupied the national radio station in Jakarta and assassinated 6 Indonesian Army generals and put President Sukarno under their “protection”. But in the end of the coup, General Suhato successfully suppressed G30S. During the same time while he was suppressing the coup, he conducted a “New Order” for his political reason. In this movement, General Suharto conducted a political

After the coup, Suharto and his associates blamed the PKI as the group which indirectly organized the coup. With the support of Army, Suharto started his witch hunt. And his regime (so called New Order) stated from 1967 and ended at 1998.

The seminar international speaker Goenawan Mohamad was one of the freedom activists during Indonesian New Order period. He is the founder and editor of Tempo magazine in Indonesia. During the “New Order” period, President Suharto cited Tempo magazine as a treat to national stability and banned it. And Goenawan Mohamad was also the Utan Kayu community. The Utan Kayu community was like a government resistance movement during the New Order period.

In the seminar, Goenawan Mohamad mentioned that when they carried out the movement, the magazines would be banned easily. If the publisher was banned by the government, they would have another new publisher but it should be with a new license. In this regard, the resistance movement was really tough. The Tempo magazine was always focused on criticism of current affairs and some new headline. In this regard, Goenawan Mohamad became the person who was always on the government’s black list.

Additionally, Goenawan Mohamad also mentioned about the current situation in Indonesia. Next general election will be hold in 2014 which is the election that Goenawan Mohamad doesn’t have idea to vote or support any candidate yet. Moreover, Goenawan Mohamad told the audiences that the most serious problem in Indonesia society is corruption. Corruption is not only a morality problem but also the problem that make people distrust government. In this regard, the credibility of government and bureaucrat will be seriously challenged. And the gap between government and people will become bigger and the distrust between both will become deeper.

Goenawan Mohamad also mentioned other problem in Indonesia society which is the gap between religions. Especially the hostility between Islam and other religions is the most obvious one. Indonesia is the country which has the biggest Moslem population in the world. But Indonesia doesn’t make Islam as the national religion as Malaysia. The demand of Islam state religionlized is getting stronger and louder in the recent years. Even this problem is not public yet but Goenawan Mohamad is starting to worry about it.

The last point that Goenawan Mohamad pointed out in the seminar was the unbalance between economic growth and social justice growth in Indonesia. He pointed out that Indonesia’s economic growth in recent years was quite impressive. On the other hand, the social justice was not seemed as important as economic growth in society. In this regard, corruption and religion distrust would become more serious even than the “New Order” period.

After this seminar, I got a basic knowledge of Indonesian democratization history. And my impression to Goenawan Mohamad was kind, patiently and also humorous. If I meet him in the street without knowing his background, I can not tell he is a famous and important character in Indonesian democratization. A person who suffered for a great pain would be stronger and more modest like Goenawan Mohamad.



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