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August 2008

Below are James Balowski's translations of the three interviews with key leaders from the left as well as from the nationalist PAPERNAS group. They were first published in JURNAL BERSATU in early 2008. They are interviews:

1. Irwansyah, Secretary General Working People’s Association (PRP)
2. Zely Ariane, Spokesperson People’s Democratic Party-Political Committee of the Poor (KPRM-PRD)
3. Harris Sitorus, Secretary General National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas)

The KPRM-PRD has been built of the members expelled by the current PRD leadership who refused to support the proposed electoral fusion proposed with the Star Reformation Party, one of the small elite-based parliamentary parties.

PAPERNAS is the vehicle built by the PRD before the expulsions and was meant to become an eletoiral vehicle that could presentthe PRD's politics. It has been more-or-less inactive in public politics for more than one year now.

For more on KPRM-PRD and the PRD as well as on the PRP, see other articles on this blog.

Ideologically, PRP and KPRM explicitly advocate a socialist perspective. PAPERNAS proclaims itself as "populist in general or progressive nationalist" assserting that "all classes are confronting the grip of imperialism".

For the full text of the three interviews click on more just below. I have highlighted in bold what I think are key statemenys made in the three interviews.


Tom Fawthrop,
South China Morning Post, August 3

Much of the traumatic story of Indonesia since independence has been buried in mass graves, secret military archives and censored reports.

The grand silence imposed on the media about what really happened in the coup led by former general Suharto in 1965 against then president Sukarno and his government, plus the orgy of bloodshed and the purge that followed - wiping out up to a million Sukarnoists, Chinese , socialists and communists in a year of CIA-backed terror - is still far from broken.

In the decade since Suharto was ousted by popular indignation and people power on the streets of Jakarta there has been no official investigation and none of Suharto's generals have been held accountable for the slaughter.

Max Lane, an Indonesia specialist and translator of the famous works of Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer, brings an essential understanding to events in Unfinished Nation. He portrays how Indonesia today is torn between two legacies: the post-independence era of Sukarno, who led a popular nationalist and anti-imperialist government, and the 33 years of military dictatorship that followed.


Unfinished Nation: Indonesia before and after Suharto

Reviewed by Nick Everett,

DIRECT ACTION monthly, August, 2008

Unfinished Nation: Indonesia before and after Suharto
By Max Lane
Verso 2008 312 pages
RRP (Australia) $49.95


In May 1998, Indonesian dictator General Mohammed Suharto was forced out of power when his cabinet ministers and the other generals — faced with escalating mass protests — abandoned him. A second upsurge of protest, drawing in even larger layers of the population in November 1998, forced Suharto’s successor as Indonesian president, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, to call elections. These events signalled the end of Indonesia’s New Order dictatorship, which had dominated Indonesian political life throughout most of the archipelago’s post-colonial history.

Unfinished Nation traces the evolution of Indonesia’s political struggle from the stirring of an anti-colonial movement at the beginning of the 20th century through to the post-Suharto era. It tells the story of the real heroes of this struggle: Indonesia’s workers, peasants and urban poor, whose sustained mass action was the determining force in overthrowing the New Order regime.


James balowski's translations of the series of interviews with leaders of Indonesian peoples organisations that were published in the first issue of Jurnal Bersatu has now been updated to include the following interviews:


10 Years after the Fall of Suharto – Views from the People’s Organisations

Journal of Unity - May 2008

[The following is a translation of the first nine out of a series of 12 interviews with leaders of labour, peasant, fisherpeople, urban and rural poor, environmental, student and social-political organisations in Indonesia around the theme “Ten Years after the Fall of Suharto - Views from the People’s Organisations”, which appeared in the first edition of Jurnal Bersatu (Journal of Unity). Additional interviews will be added to this page as they are translated – James Balowski.]

Labour organisations

1. Sastro, Chairperson Workers Challenge Alliance (ABM)
2. Lqbal, President of the Indonesian Metal Trade Workers Federation (FSPMI)

Peasant Organisations

1. Donny, National Peasants Union (STN)
2. Iwan, Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA)
3. Rully, Indonesian Farmers Union (SPI)

Fisherpeople’s organisations

Arbani Nikahi, Chairperson Saijaan Fishers Union (INSAN)

Urban and rural poor organisations

Marlo, General Chairperson Indonesian Poor People’s Union (SRMI)

Student organisations

Ken, Indonesian Student Union (SMI)

Environmental organisations

Andreat, General Secretary Green Indonesia Union (SHI)

See 10 Years after the Fall of Suharto – Views from the People’s Organisations for full interviews.

The two articles below were published in the new monthly newspaper, DIRECT ACTION, in the June and July issues.

They are entitled:

Left collaboration growing in Indonesia


New Indonesian alliance fights fuel price rises

The second article is based upon interviews with Indonesian trade union leaders.


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