Pribumis, Bumiputras and the politics of race

Let’s be honest: when the word Pribumi is used, it is code for anti-Chinese. This is the same in Malaysia where the word Bumiputra is used to mean anti-Chinese.

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Lining Anies’s passage to his inauguration: Not enough that you have to be a Pribumi but a Pribumi Muslim. No protection even if you’re a Pribumi.

The parallels do not stop there. The champions of the the racial ideology – Anies Baswedan in the case of the Pribumis and Mahathir Mohamad in the case of Bumiputras – are also shapeshifters. Both are of immigrant stock fashioning themselves as the torch bearers of the indigenous people.

 

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Never too Arab to champion Pribumi rights

 

Mahathir who championed Bumiputraism hailed from Indian Muslims in Kerala in South India.

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Mahathir’s identity card before the makeover: Never too Indian to champion Bumiputra Rights

Anies is from Arab stock and he is now claiming to champion the rights of pribumis.

Both seek to exploit the politics of race against a community that has proven easy pickings – the ethnic Chinese in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Mahathir wrote his The Malay Dilemma in 1970, a year after racial riots tore through Malaysia. The cause of the riots was that the ruling Alliance (forerunner of the Barisan Nasional) for the first time lost its two-third majority in Parliament in the 1969 national elections. It was more a psychological defeat rather than a real one. They were still in power but they had lost the majority ended to amend the constitution. They also lost most of their seats to the DAP, a Chinese-based party.

Tensions rose after the elections and on May 13 1969 a riot broke out in Malaysia. The next year Mahathir came out with his book that essentially said that the Malays were the indigenous people of Malaysia; that they were too  nice and had been taken advantage of; and that affirmative action was needed to balance out the dominance of the Chinese Malaysians in the economy and commerce.

This hate mongering was effective. It propelled young Turks like Mahathir into power and allowed them to oust the Old Guard typified by Tunku Abdul Rahman, who stood for decency and moderation.

The take out from Mahathirism is that race is an easy card to play and it can be devastatingly effective. The Barisan Nasional has been in power ever since and each time it is threatened it trots out the racial card and that is enough to get it though one election after another. Even Najib, tainted as he is by the 1MDB scandal and the murder of Mongolian model Alantuya, remains in power through the Machiavellian use of racism and money politics.

Anies is embarking on the same path. His campaign was racist and he is now fashioning himself as a champion of the Pribumi. That is, as we say in Indonesia #kodekeras for anti-Chinese.

As he and Saracen have demonstrated during the gubernatorial elections, playing the racial card is effective. Ahok is now in jail and Anies-Sandi is sitting in the governor’s chair.

Like the Barisan Natsonal  who will play the race card each time there is anything to threaten their grip on power they will do the same.

What is a threat to Anies-Sandi now is accountability. They made a lot of wild promises to get elected. If they fail to deliver, even the masses that vote them in will begin to turn against them.

They need to distract the attention of the hoi polloi and redirect that energy into something else – and hating the Chinese “colonizers” of Jakarta is as convenient a target as it can get. Similarly what threatens Najib is accountability over 1MBB, so what does he do? All sorts of racial distractions such as the nonsense about Ketuanan Melayu while he quietly hocks the nation to the Chinese Chinese.

So what are the rest of us to do with such an inexorable force as racial politics?

Indonesia can be different from Malaysia where the Bumiputra is synonymous with Malay. In Malaysia the predominant non-Chinese group are the Malays (an artificial construct as most of them are keturunan Orang Jawa, Orang Minang, and even the present Prime Minister Najib is keturunan Orang Bugis – but they are all manipulated to be in one “race” the Melayu or Malay).

Non-Chinese Indonesians are so diverse in ethnicity and religions that nobody can claim to speak for them. And this is where Indonesia’s strength lies – in its diversity. #Notmypribumi seems an appropriate hashtag for anything racial Anies utters from now on.

Indonesians should also b aware of the devastating effects of racial politics. Go to Malaysia and see the harm that Mahathir has done there. People there are so polarized that they eat in different restaurants, make friends mainly only with the same “racial” groups. Each year that passes there is less tolerance and more absurdity – like the Muslim launderette owner in Johor that would accept only Muslim clients to prevent pollution from other races (race and religion are synonymous in Malaysia, thanks again to Mahathir).

The situation is so bad that parents (even Bumiputra ones) tell their children not to stay in Malaysia and to work and live overseas if they can help it.

Indonesia can do better than Malaysia and the time to act is now by refusing to fill into Anies’ scheming. Avoid giving his racial politics much credence by discussing it at length but keep focusing on what he actually does as a Governor against his election promises. At best it would force him carry these promises out – which would be the benefit of everyone. At worst, it would starve his intent to use racial politics of the reaction it needs to create a Malaysianization of Indonesian racial relations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some questions about #SayaPancasila

The hallmark of a good campaign is that it spurs public discourse on a particular subject. In this sense, the #SayaPancasila campaign can be said to be successful, if the preponderance of the hashtag and profile pictures bering the message on social media are concerned.

Effective public discourse, however, exists when there are differences of opinion and when the participants abide by rules of rhetorical fair play. So here goes Unspun‘s contribution to the public discourse on the#SayaPancasila campaign.

Three questions spring to mind from all the #SayaIndonesia and #SayaPancasila profile photos being used on Facebook Instagram and other social media channels:

  1. Are atheists allowed to proclaim #SayaPancasila? Pancasila requires the belief God, in whatever form she exists. Arising from this should there be a discussion on which is more appropriate for Indonesia today – a concept from 1945 repurposed to knit together Indonesia in 2017; or would Embracing Diversity be a more appropriate idea to campaign on?
  2. When people these days declare #SayaPancasila can it be taken as their full subscription to the five principles formulated by Sukarno in 1945 as an instrument to rally people round Indonesian Nationalism? Or is it more a talisman to signal their rejection of the more extreme and intolerant elements of Indonesia today, i.e. Rizieq and the FPI as well as other assorted hardliners? There is a difference here: one is an embrace of something, another is a rejection of another thing.
  3. Are all these declarations of #SayaPancasila on the internet missing the target? One of the things the internet is notorious for is to create bubbles where like-minded people reinforce their own ideas and convictions. How many of these #SayaPancila proclamations are actually seen by the real targets? These are the 50+ percent who voted for Anies, the thousands of easter-clad protesters who came out on 212 and other demonstrations, that part of Indonesia who get their information more from mosques and grassroots institutions than the social media. There is also the question of whether seeing such #SayaPancasila declarations would persuade them to change their minds or reinforce their believes so that they dig down even deeper in the embrace of hardline attitudes and beliefs.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that any effort to claw Indonesia back from the clutches of the hardliners is something good for this country and society. But will it be effective? Or wilt be a distraction when resources could have been channeled elsewhere for greater effect?

So where do people stand on these three questions?

 

 

 

Oxford University about to shoot itself on the foot with Kalla invite?

Unspun watched with incredulity and horror a segment from the documentary The Act of Killing in which Yusuf calla addressed a group of Pancasila Youth, who were known to be the secular equivalent of a FPI in their heyday.

 

He told the group that this country needed preman (thugs) because they got things done. Unlike the apparat (bureaucrats) who would debate a thing to death. he then explained the romantic origin of the word preman which apparently is derived from freeman.

How is it that such a man who has been documented on film as having said such preposterous words could become the Vice President of a country not once but twice boggles the imagination. He hasn’t improved since and like Trump is a serial offender against tolerant and non-sectarian views. His latest, of course, is taking a swipe at the stereotype of the Chinese Christians and Taoists being the richest people in Indonesia while the Muslim non-Chinese lag behind.

You wonder what checks and balances as well as screening processes this country’s political is bereft of. But that is Indonesia, where democracy is still a shiny new toy whose ways need to be mastered.

But Oxford University? The cradle of some of the best minds to walk the earth? The seat of intellectual prowess? Surely they can do better?

One assumes that the people running the university would have access to the internet and they would do some desktop research, at the very least, before they extended an invitation to Kalla to speak.

VP Kalla to Speak About Religious Tolerance at Oxford University | Jakarta Globe

Jakarta. Vice President Jusuf Kalla will speak about religious tolerance in Indonesia upon an invitation from Oxford University in England.

“They want to know about Islam in Indonesia, how the religion is practiced here. Many experts and diplomats will attend the event,” Kalla said on Monday (15/05).

According to Kalla, the international community seeks to learn more about the development of Islam in Indonesia, which many consider unique and different from other Muslim countries.

“They want to know why in the Muslim world, which is marred by divisions, there is Indonesia which still believes in Islamic unity as long as [the religion] is rightly practiced,” Kalla said.

According to the university’s website, the vice president is scheduled to talk at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies on May 18. He left for the United Kingdom on Tuesday.

During his international trip, Kalla will also attend the 2017 Indonesia Trade Expo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“We are always looking for new markets. The Balkan region is still out of reach, so we’re working to change that,” Kalla said.

 

Insulting Islam or taking the piss out of ISIS?

One thing about Indonesia is that it always surprises.

Just when all of us thought that the Jokowi Government would user in a even more liberal regime that would value freedom of expression, comes news that the Police have indicted the Jakarta Post’s chief editor for insulting Islam.

The Post had carried a cartoon, demonstrated here on the Bisnis.com website today. Its crime: replacing the ISIS oval with a skull and bones. One might say fair comment, given ISIS’s propensity to lob off heads or hostages.

When the more religious readers raised a kerfuffle over the Post’s cartoon, the Post bowed to pressure and apologised. You’d think that people of a religious bent would find it in their hearts to forgive, given how all religions preach about redemption, love and all that.

The Indonesian Police, however, have a different take on things, charging the editor Dimas (Mediatama Suryodiningrat) with blasphemy.

Nice to see the nation’s enforcers so sensitive about the good name of ISIS and religion, to the point that they would not tolerate snark from journalists.

One wonders where the President and his Working Cabinet of putatively progressive leaders stand on things and how long will they keep quiet over this?

PEMRED JAKARTA POST TERSANGKA: Ini Komentar Meidyatama dan AJI | Kabar24

PEMRED JAKARTA POST TERSANGKA: Ini Komentar Meidyatama dan AJI | Kabar24

Bisnis.com, JAKARTA – Pemimpin Redaksi The Jakarta Post Meidyatama Suryodiningrat (MS) ditetapkan sebagai tersangka terkait dugaan dugaan tindak pidana penistaan agama. Langkah penyidik yang menjadikan MS tersangka mendapatkan komentar keras dari AJI.Dalam pesan yang diterima Bisnis.com, Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) Indonesia menyatakan tiga hal terkait dengan penetapan Meidyatama sebagai tersangka kasus penistaan agama1). Menolak keras penetapan Pemred Jakarta Post sebagai tersangka karikatur Laa ilaaha illallaah pada edisi Kamis 3/7/2014 lalu.2. Mendesak kepolisian RI tidak menggunakan KUHP untuk menangani kasus-kasus yang terkait dengan karya jurnalistik, dan kembali menggunakan UU Pers sebagai cara untuk menyelesaikan sengketa pemberitaan atau produk pers.3. Mendesak Kapolda Metro Jaya segera mencabut status tersangka Meidyatama Suryodiningrat dan mengembalikan kasus ini sesuai UU Pers yang bersifat lex specialis.4. Mengajak masyarakat pers, baik media massa, Dewan Pers, dan stakeholders lainnya untuk bersama sama menjaga kebebasan pers dan menegakkan kasus ini dalam koridor kasus pers bukan kasus pidana. Kasus ini apabila dibiarkan akan menjadi ancaman serius bagi kebebaaan pers dan akan bisa terkena kepada siapapun.Untuk itu, AJI mendesak kepolisian mengembalikan kasus ini seperti yang sudah tertuang dalam kesepakatan Dewan Pers dan Kepolisian dalam menangani kasus pers.Sementara itu, Pemred The Jakarta Post Meidyatama Suryodiningrat dalam pesan tertulisnya yang diterima Bisnis.com mengaku kaget atas penetapan dirinya sebagai tersangka oleh penyidik Polda Metro Jaya.

Read more…

Gumawan Fauzi and the Act of Killing Democracy with the FPI

In Joshua Oppenheimer’s incredible documentary The Act of Killing, Indonesia’s former vice president Yusuf Kalla, regarded by many here as a saner voice than most of the politicians, delivers a mind boggling speech to a gathering of the Pancasila Youth.

 

The Pancasila Youth is a paramilitary organisation that grew from a motley collection of semi-official gangsters that did the wet work for the Indonesian military against the “Communist” Chinese Indonesians in North Sumatra during Suharto’s New Order.

Kalla told an enthusiastic audience that Indonesia needs premans (gangsters)  because without them the nation would be run by only bureaucrats, who couldn’t get many things done. But preman are men of action who could get things done in Indonesia, he said to laud applause from the crowd.

He also paid lip service to the “roots” of the term preman which he and the gangsters all claim comes from the words “free man”, an insinuation that they are their own people, independent from the dictates of others. Indeed, on one level they are right. The word comes from the Dutch vrijman (‘free man’) .

But that is where the romance of the pre man, or free man ends. The fact is that they “existed in the grey areas where they treaded within the inside and outside of law. Whilst they were admired due to their autonomy, they were also feared by the locals due to their connections to the authorities.” In other words running dogs of the Dutch against their own people and because they serve a purpose to the powers that be are tolerated and even encouraged by government officials.

If you delve into the Wikipedia definition further it gets interesting:

preman is a member of an Indonesian organized gang, encompassing street level criminals up through crime bosses. Premans are often perceived negatively throughout Indonesian society due to associations with violence and criminality. This root word is derived from a term which describes the “confluence of state power and criminality”.[1]However, organized crime in Indonesian has a more enduring an complicated history, as the confluence of crime syndicates with perceived legitimate political authority has a history extending as far back as the Medang Kingdom.[2] While associated with brigandry and theft, Indonesian crime syndicates have periodically acted as enforcers to maintain authority and order.[2][3] The roles of the jago or jawara were particularly important during the Indonesian Revolution, as they often adopted political roles that helped consolidating the power of local authorities.[2] Despite their significance to Indonesian history, syndicates are universally marginalized due to associations with violence and social illegitimacy.[4][5]

And when it gets to the etymology of the word it get’s even more interesting:

The word jago literally means a rooster and refers to a type of strongman that exists as a part of the everyday life in urban and rural areas of Indonesia. The jago is a social and political actor in both recent and more distant history of Indonesia. In Indonesian popular culture, the jago is often romanticized as a champion of the people whose acts of violence are motivated by a deep sense of justice, honour and order.[6]

The preman is the modern form of the jago. This word originated from the Dutch term vrijman (‘free man’) which later morphed into preman, referring to a new breed of urban jago who “is not in the service of the Dutch East India Company, but has permission to be in the Indies, and carries out trade for the sake of the VOC,”[6]:9[1]:58–59 The vrijman, orpreman existed in the grey areas where they treaded within the inside and outside of law. Whilst they were admired due to their autonomy, they were also feared by the locals due to their connections to the authorities.

What all this means is that Indonesian leaders have been using these quasi-official gangsters to do their bidding for hundreds of years. It is baked into the DNA of the ruling class in Indonesia.

Hence we have Kalla and now Home Minister Gumawan Fauzi legitimizing  and even praising the FPI, who are no more than common thugs in Islamic clothing.

Indonesia has progressed far since the fall of Suharto in 1998, but when it comes to the preman its leaders have not moved an inch from the Medang Kingdom. It is feudal, it is wrong and it is disgusting.

But Kalla remains a popular figure among many in Indonesia who view him, in the face of SBY’s namby pamby image, as a decisive doer. And Gumawan, who’s act of praising the FPI as an asset to the nation is as reprehensible to praising Hitler’s Brownshirts in Germany today, is still keeping his job without even a slap on the wrist.

When will the populace rise up and say: Enigh is enough?

 

 

 

 

 

One small step for a Muslim, one giant leap for our eardrums?

Apres lui, le déluge? One can only hope

Indonesian Wins Rare Victory Against Noisy Mosque | The Jakarta Globe

Banda Aceh. An elderly Indonesian said Monday he had won a rare victory against a noisy mosque, despite being forced to withdraw legal action after an angry mob threatened to kill him.

Complaints against the loud speakers issuing the call to prayer have been met with extreme opposition in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation that is home to about 800,000 mosques.

And when Sayed Hasan, 75, filed a lawsuit in December in the city of Banda Aceh, in which he complained of being disturbed by lengthy recordings of Koranic verses, it was met with strong protests from the community.

But Hasan, a Muslim, said despite being taken to see the deputy mayor and Muslim leaders, and then being escorted to the court where he was forced to withdraw his legal suit, he had ultimately won a rare victory.

“I was forced to withdraw my lawsuit as an angry mob threatened to kill me,” he said. “But after I dropped my case, the volume was significantly turned down by about half.”

A local Muslim leader said the imam had decided to reduce the noise.

City dwellers in Indonesia are often woken up before dawn by intermingling calls to prayer from three or four nearby mosques. Many also blare Koranic verses or broadcast day-long events through loudspeakers.

Ninety percent of Indonesia’s 240 million citizens are Muslim. While most practice a moderate form, Aceh province has implemented Sharia law, which is enforced by special Islamic police.

Agence France-Presse

Why Malaysian politicos get worked up by a Bible written in jawi

Indonesians will be forgiven if they are flabbergasted by the news item below. That’s because in Indonesia there is lacking that narrow-mindedness that is so common among Malaysian, particularly Malay politicians who are unable to distinguish between religion, culture and language.

For you see, in Malaysia, race, and along with it religion and language, are politicised. The formula is simple: Malay(race)=Islam=Koran=Jawi=Malay(language) and anyone that says otherwise is seen as trampling in their underpants.

Hence the hullaballoo in Malaysia whenever they uncover any Bible translated into the Malay language, or in Jawi. Indoensians are too mature and diverse to believe that religion belongs to one ethnic group, race, or language. To them religion transcends the racial/language barriers.

Unspun thinks politicians such as Ibrahim Ali should get some intellectual development and maturity by visiting Indonesia, where the Bible is read mostly in the Indonesian language. In spite of this, Indonesian Muslims are in no danger of being proselytised en mass into some heathen religion.  The Indonesians know better than their Malaysian counterparts that the Islamic faith is made of more sterner stuff than the word.

This goes to show one again how secure the Indonesians are being themselves and how insecure the malaysians are in their faith, their race and where they stand in society. Pathetic and Ibrahim Ali wins a shit-for-brains tag from Unspun.

Malaysiakini: Ibrahim Ali: I didn’t intend to offend Christians 

Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali says his call to Muslims to burn the Malay-language Bible written in Jawi and using the word ‘Allah’ was not intended to hurt the feelings of Christians but that it was a reaction to those trying to violate the federal constitution.

The Independent MP for Pasir Mas explained to Utusan Malaysia that his call was to wake up those who tried to proselytise Muslims.

“We respect Christians and it was not my intention to offend or hurt the feelings of others. We have tolerated a lot.

“But when we voiced out our reaction to the action of a certain party that distributed Malay-language Bibles to students of a secondary school in Penang, many were angered,” the Umno-owned daily quoted Ibrahim as saying.

Full story: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/219603