Indonesian election

I’ve http://andrewbartlett.com/?cat=27 written on this blog about Indonesia quite a few times over the years, and had a couple of brief visits to Jakarta and once to Aceh. I’ve also tried to follow events in that country and speak with Indonesians – delegations and individuals – who are visiting Australia.
The elections held in Indonesia over the course of this year have been very important to Australia and our region. Not just the results – although the http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/07/09/sby-simply-a-league-his-own.html strong victories for President Yudhoyono in both getting himself comfortably re-elected and I improving the strength of his party in the Parliament is almost certainly the best outcome – but the fact the elections occurred and were run in such a smooth fashion.  There is some http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2009/07/09/A-victory-for-Indonesia.aspx good analysis at http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2009/07/09/A-victory-for-Australia.aspx The Interpreter, although I haven’t seen a great amount written http://www.blogotariat.com/node/174808 elsewhere in the blogosphere..
Indonesia’s transition into a functioning democracy in such a short space of time is really quite incredible, especially given that nation’s history and its enormous size and diversity of population. It presents real opportunities for Australia and for the wider region to move onto a footing which more strongly respects democracy and human rights and reduces poverty and inequality.
The one big blight on Indonesia’s progress remains its inability to deal with the oppression in West Papua.  This in part links to their still far from complete battle to eliminate corruption and the related task of getting all elements of the military under proper government control. But the historical and current injustices in West Papua in general remain a big blind spot for many Indonesians, much as the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders remains a blind sport for many Australians, including in our instituions.
These blind spots need to continue to have the light of truth shone on them, politely but persistently. But that shouldn’t hinder the ability to recognise the great progress that has been in Indonesia, the need to encourage and build on it and to pay credit to that country for making such big strides in such a short time frame.

I’ve written on this blog about Indonesia quite a few times over the years, and had a couple of brief visits to Jakarta and once to Aceh. I’ve also tried to follow events in that country and speak with Indonesians – delegations and individuals – who are visiting Australia.

The elections held in Indonesia over the course of this year have been very important to Australia and our region. Not just the results – although the strong victories for President Yudhoyono in both getting himself comfortably re-elected and in improving the strength of his party in the Parliament is almost certainly the best outcome – but the fact the elections occurred and were run in such a smooth fashion.  There is some good analysis at The Interpreter, although I haven’t seen a great amount written elsewhere in the blogosphere.

Indonesia’s transition into a functioning democracy in such a short space of time is really quite incredible, especially given that nation’s history and its enormous size and diversity of population. It presents real opportunities for Australia and for the wider region to move onto a footing which more strongly respects democracy and human rights and reduces poverty and inequality.

The one big blight on Indonesia’s progress remains its inability to deal with the oppression in West Papua.  This in part links to their still far from complete battle to eliminate corruption and the related task of getting all elements of the military under proper government control. But the historical and current injustices in West Papua in general remain a big blind spot for many Indonesians, much as the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders remains a blind sport for many Australians, including in our institutions.

These blind spots need to continue to have the light of truth shone on them, politely but persistently. But that shouldn’t hinder the ability to recognise the great progress that has been in Indonesia, the need to encourage and build on it and to pay credit to that country for making such big strides in such a short time frame.

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4 Comments

  1. I don’t know Andrew! Indonesia is a big country,and the fact it hasn’t had much coverage,and only people with the Lowy Institute will visit the outcome and make their own claims about it ,seems incredibly all overstated.The Indonesian Leader as a figurehead appeals as sounding and doing some good,but I feel for individuals not the glasses and mirrors of perspectives that are deeming this means this and that.I think life in Indonesia,generally,is still too hard to want to say much about official leadership.Its like Australian sources of opinion are just currying favour.

  2. Andrew:

    While I agree with the majority of your statement…….I really take offence at the comparsion between Indonesia’s record in West Papua and the treatment of Aboriginals and Torres straight islanders here.

    The Comparison is inaccurate and takes away from the obsolute genocide that is occuring in West Papua. Poor comparisons like these
    only take away and detract from the urgency of the situation there.

    Indonesia’s reputation will not and cannot improve until West Papua is removed from Indonesia. (A Country and culture that have nothinig in common with the rest of Indonesia).

    Tony

    Tony

  3. Well, the fact you take offence rather proves my point Tony. As I said, many Australians have a blind spot about the way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been treated in this country.

    Many Indonesians get offended at crticism of what has happened and is happening in West Papua. Some would even say that – dodgy though their referendum incorporating West Papua into Indonesia was – at least they made a pretence of asking the views of the indigenous people of Papua before taking over their land, which is more than happened in Australia. And genocide is more than apt for what happened in parts of Australia – the word was openly used for many years to describe what occured to Aboriginal people in Tasmania, until sensitivities and political correctness got in the way.

    Many Chinese get offended at criticism about Tibet. Many Turks get offended at criticism about Armenia. As I said, many countries have a blind spot where they are nicapable of dispassionately acknowledging the clear cut historical facts

  4. I agree totally with you Andrew re your statements of genocide towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples since white ‘settlement’? If Tony read the facts and had watched First Australians on SBS (you can watch it online) the attitudes behind stealing aboriginal children who were not ‘black enough’ or ‘too white’ to remain with their families, the reasons given and recorded publicly, were to get rid of the aboriginal race. Sometimes all kids were removed, sometimes only 1 or 2, but there’s no doubt that the aim was to remove aboriginals from their country permanently.The kids who were stolen and subjected to cruel and torturous actions were bashed if they spoke their own language – another act of genocide! Many believe, that the FORCED removal of land, culture and language is genocide!

    If, after all the available evidence of many years; writings in newspapers etc, concerns in British Parliament (why they didn’t make sure it ceased is another question?). Read Demons at Dusk, about the Massacre at Myall Creek. This was just one of many instances.
    Unless we confront the enormity of history, there’ll be no room for real reconciliation – and that angers and saddens me greatly!

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