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March 2008

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The Chinese in Indonesia, An English Translation of Hoakiau Di Indonesia (First Published in 1960)
by Pramoedya Ananta Toer; Max Lane (Translator)

About This Book
Pramoedya Ananta Toer (1925-2006) was undoubtedly Indonesia's most significant novelist and writer. After the 1960 publication of this book, now translated for the first time, Pramoedya spent some 20 years in prison often in appalling conditions. The book sets out in the form of nine letters much of the author's humanist and deeply anti-racialist philosophy as it discusses the history and needs of Indonesia's large and long-established Chinese population who were facing increasing official discrimination. There also four essays on the author and his works by internationally recognised specialists in Indonesian history and literature.

AVAILABLE FROM SELECTS BOOKS

Price: US$24.86 (S$37.29*)
Region: Indonesia
Format: Paperback, 257 pages
Published: 2008, Singapore, 1st Edition
ISBN: 9789814022361
SB#: 042456

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For those following developments on the Left in Indonesia, there is an interesting interview with Zely Ariane, spokesperson for the Political Committee of the Poor - Peoples Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD) on the KPRM-PRD blog at http://kprm-peoples-democratic-party.blogspot.com/

2007 saw an unprecedented split in Indonesia's most well known radical party – the People's Democratic Party (PRD). The split spans the PRD from top to bottom. The following interview is with Zely Ariane – the spokesperson for The Political Committee of The Poor - People's Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD), conducted by Theresia Dian Septi Trisnanti .

1. When was the KPRM-PRD formed?
Zely Ariane: KPRM was formed in November 2007 as the result of a consolidation of PRD members from ten provinces that reject the coalition politics [currently being pursued by the PRD-Papernas leadership] and are ready to struggle to build a political alternative of the poor. The KPRM-PRD held its public declaration on the 31 January, 2008 in Jakarta.

2. Where are its main bases? What is the KPRM-PRD's main program of activities now and into the near future?

Zely Ariane: Our strongest bases are in Jogjakarta, Jakarta, North Sumatra, East Java and Kalimantan Timor. The original basis for the split in the PRD was that the majority of the PRD leadership could not tolerate a difference of opinion, or opinions rejecting the coalition tactic in the 2009 elections.

Our primary activity at the moment is to struggle for a politics of the poor that is neither co-opted nor co-operative with the remnants of the old regime (Suharto's New Order) such as the military, the pro neo-liberal government and the fake reformists. We are concentrating at the moment on consolidating a new political mass organisation that will unite like minded political groups and individuals from PRD, Papernas and some other mass organisations. This new organ will soon be formed in order to struggle for a politics of the poor and to push towards completion of the national democratic revolution in Indonesia.

We can not let go of the political wreckage that exists in PRD at the moment. We are especially focused on relating to the mass bases who mostly do not understand and have not been involved in the party's political decisions. As an example, the decision to support the Democratic Renewal Party (PDP) was taken in secret and is unknown by the party's mass base because the internal situation in the PRD, Papernas and even the mass organisations has become increasingly difficult for campaigning - room for debate has been completely closed. So to win back these organisations requires an external pressure. That is the reason we plan to form a new political mass organisation that at the same time can function as our political identity.

We are forging unity of left democratic groups and a women's liberation groupings from the democratic left spectrum – to become the vanguard in developing the feminist movement. We are establishing the frameworks and making lively efforts to mark International Women's Day and also unifying efforts to create a Venezuela Solidarity Group.

FOR MORE SEE http://kprm-peoples-democratic-party.blogspot.com/

Following the massive swing to the opposition parties in Malaysia, the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) has won two seats in the national parliament. In Sungai Siput, Dr. Kumar, defeated Samy Vellu while Nasir Hashim won the DUN Kota Damansara seat.

Below is a short interview I conducted today (March 10) with PSM Secretary General, S. Arutchelvan.

There is some other information appended.

In addition to the PSM leaders who won the two seats, well-known activist and former political prisoner Tian Chua, and former SUARAM activist Elizabeth Wong also won seats representing the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (Peoples Justice Party, associated with Anwar Ibrahim, but it was also a party of coalition.)

INTERVIEW

(1) How big was the swing against the Barisan Nasional? Who were the main beneficiaries?

The swig occurred in all urban areas and mixed areas. The swing was massive in areas where the non-Muslim formed a majority or simple majority

Read more...

Several different events were held on March 8 to commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD). Probably the biggest of the street mobilization events was held at the Thamrin-Sudirman roundabout in central Jakarta. At this protest, around 300 people gathered to hear speeches and distribute leaflets to passers bye. The protest had been organized by a coalition of left leaning groups. The main ones were the trade union, KASBI; the Indonesian University Students Union (Sarekat Mahasiswa Indonesia – SMI), the Working Peoples association (Perhimpunan Rakyat Pekerja – PRP), and Freedom Women (Perempuan Mahardika). The biggest contingent was from KASBI.

Later in the day both in this location and at other sites, a range of other activist, lobby, religious and political groups held smaller commemorations.

Women Seize the Night

Probably the biggest event in Jakarta were the two evening performances of Women Seize the Night, a play – or series of three short plays, monologues – performed in the Jakarta Arts Centre on the Saturday and Sunday evenings. About 1,400 people watched the performances.They were widely reported on the electronic as well as in the print media. The organizers held public forums of the future of the women’s movement before the event to generate more discussion around the issue of the oppression and discrimination against women and the state of the women’s movement.

Read more...

(All analysis here are my personal views and are not the views of any university, institution or organisation with which I am affiliated.)

UPDATE NOTE: For a more recent analysis see the interview with Zely Ariane

In this article, I want to report and analyse on one of the most important developments on the Indonesian Left. These developments began in Indonesia in July 2007, seven months ago now. I apologise to all those readers who have been reading my English language articles as a means of following the Indonesian left. I have been unfortunately constrained over the last seven months, and even now

In July, 2007 a majority of the current leadership of the PRD voted on a leadership body that a small number of leaders, who disagreed with current political perspectives should exercise their “democratic rights” to “go their own way” to test out their own line. The general membership of the PRD were to be informed of this decision and all those who did not support the perspective of the current majority would be invited to join those “going their own way”. In other words, all those with differences were being de facto expelled. Formal expulsions of Jakarta based members and the freezing of branches whose membership’s rejected the current leadership’s perspectives took place later in the year.

Read more...

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