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INDONESIA - other authors

Papernas leaders sow illusions of radical change through the ballot box
By Zely Ariane

[The following article was written in response to an article by Kelik Ismunanto, a leader of Papernas (National Liberation Unity Party) titled “Indonesia: Tracing a path towards parliament” that was published in the December 3 issue of Green Left Weekly. Papernas was formed in July 2006 by the radical left People’s Democratic Party (PRD) to present a radical anti-neoliberal platform in this year’s Indonesian parliamentary elections. Zely Ariane is a former PRD secretary-general and now a leading member of the Political Committee for the Poor-People’s Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD). This party was formed in November 2007 by members of the PRD-Papernas expelled for disagreeing with a Papernas leadership decision to enter into an electoral coalition with one of the existing parliamentary parties. The article has been translated by James Balowski.]

See Papernas leaders sow illusions of radical change through the ballot box

Monday, 15/12/2008 12:47 WIB
PBR Ready to Support Prabowo as Presidential Candidate
Ronald Tanamas - detikNews

Jakarta - Partai Bintang Reformasi (PBR – Star reform Party) is now looking and seeking out who is the appropriate presidential candidiate for it to support in its coming convention. Up until this time the candidate that is acceptable to the PBR convention is Razil Ramli, but it is not impossible that the target may change to Prabowo Soebijanto.

"Our party’s basic mission is the same as Prabowo’s mission. It is quite possible we could support Prabowo as long as he joins and is in accord with the “central axis”,” PBR chairperson Bursa Zarnubi told detikcom, Monday (15/12/2008)


The 2009 general elections and illusions within the movement

September 10, 2008

By Budi Wardoyo1

In the lead up to the 2009 general elections, the political map of the movements appears to be undergoing a large polarisation, particularly a polarisation between the political decision to take part in the elections as a contestant (by joining an existing political party) verses the political decision of refusing to become an electoral participant.

The decision to take part in the 2009 elections, which has been taken, by among others, by the People’s Democratic Party (PRD) and its affiliated organisations2, has been motivated by the following arguments:


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.


In front of Presidential Palace.jpg

FPN demo May 29 - presidential palace in the background.

More photos FPN action May 29 - 2nd Jakarta aksi Photos by Admo

For some translations of Jakarta news reports of this action, click HERE - and scroll down to Latest from INDOLEFT.

May 21 aksi photo

Danial May 21.jpg

Standing on the left: FNP and KPRM-PRD activist, Danial Indrakusuma.

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

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.


Suharto (8 June 1921- ?? January 2008)

A career soldier who commanded a country.
John Roosa

Taciturn, reserved, reclusive, emotionless, Suharto ruled Indonesia for 32 years as a mystery man, a dictator who presented himself as a faceless, replaceable figure in an apolitical administration. His speeches were dull, forgettable affairs filled with mind-numbing bureaucratese, worn clichés, and pious homilies. There is not a single statement by which he is remembered today. If asked, Indonesians struggle in vain to recall some memorable phrase from him, while even the youth can quote Sukarno, the president he overthrew in 1965. Suharto has left a wordless memory.



The Peaceful Protest Action Supporting the Burmese Peoples Struggle Against the Myanmar Military Junta.

The peaceful protest actions led by the monks of Burma against the Myanmar military junta and for the restoration of democracy have finally been confronted with guns and other violent action. At least nine people have been killed (including one journalist) and hundreds, perhaps thousands, arrested. The Mynmar junta has also cracked down on the press and instituted a blockade of communication in order to constrain the flow of information. The leader of the democratic struggle, Aung Saan Suu Kyi, has been seized from her home where she has been under house arrest, and moved to Insein prison. Once more the Myanmar military junta has spilled blood. The struggle for democracy in Burma must continue in order to end the Myanmar military junta’s oppression. The road map to democracy which had been offered as the hope for a peaceful solution in Burma is further and further away from being realised.


Book dissertation: 'An Unfinished Nation - Indonesia, before and after Suharto'

(Published in Indonesian language only to date: Bangsa Yang Belum Selesai - Indonesia Sebelum dan Sesudah Suharto, Jakarta, Reform Institute, 2007.)

Pembebasan Discussion List - July 2, 2007 (No author cited for this report from PEMBEBASAN List).

"Literary history must be won back. Culture as a
priority for the people must be won back. People
today have forgotten the literature of Kartini(1),
also Pramoedya(2), who was crucial in unearthing the
foundations of [Indonesia] as a nation", said Max
Lane in book dissertation of his latest work "An
unfinished nation: Indonesia, before and after
Suharto", which was held at the Book Discount
Festival in the Auditorium Building A at the
National Education Department in South Jakarta on
Sunday July 1.


The PRD, the initiating organisation of the recent Papernas Congress (see earlier posts) issued the following basic data on the outcome of the Papernas congress.

"Amidst the violent threat and repressive situation, the foundation congress of Indonesian united party, now officially called PAPERNAS (National Liberation Party of Unity), finally accomplished yesterday, 20th January 2007 at 13 PM in Kaliurang Yogjakarta. We decided to shorten the congress and discussed only the most important topics such as party principle; statue, and national leadership, some other topics such as party program and strategy tactic will be decided by the elected Central Leadership Board (DPP) of PAPERNAS since all the participants from 19 regions already had parallel discussion and made various recommendations. The elected General Chairperson was Agus Jabo Priyono (also the general secretary of PRD) , and the national secretary was Haris Sitorus (also the General Secretary's 2nd Deputy of PRD). Congress also decided three persons which were Dominggus Octavianus (the former chairperson of Preparatory Committee of PAPERNAS and the chairperson of FNPBI); Marlo Sitompul (the general chairperson of Urban Poor People Union/SRMK); and Wiwik Wijanarko (Organisation Dept of National Peasant Union/STN), to work together with the elected general chairperson and national secretary to elect the executive committee of the PAPERNAS.

The congress were participated by 320 full participants, 50 organizing committee, 5 foreign observers, and 3 domestic observers."

For other material on the Papernas congress click: PAPERNAS

When undemocratic state authorities share "intelligence" the following can happen.
ON Saturday, November 11, 2006, Dr. George Junus Aditjondro, an Indonesian academic known for his extensive worldwide studies of Soeharto’s corruption, was put on a Thai Airlines plane to Jakarta, after spending one night at the Immigration Detention Centre at the Suwarnabhumi airport.

Dr George Aditjondro


Below is an article by Dita Indah Sari discussing recent Indonesian government responses to the plight of Indonesian citizens of Leftwing idological persuasion who had their passports revoked in the late 1960s. The revocation of their passports was one of the policies pursued by the Suharto government as part of its suppression of the Left-wing of ideological politics. Since the fall of Suharto in May, 1998, the level and depth of discussion around September 30 increases with each passing year. Click on "more" to read Dita Sari's article.
Dita Indah Sari.jpg
Dita Sari


Indonesia behind the learning curve

By Bill Guerin, Asia Times (Hong Kong)
August 31, 2006

JAKARTA - Indonesia is arguably Asia's least
well-educated country, and the government is largely
to blame. With 30% of its 242 million population
school-aged, the world's largest Muslim country ranks
lowest among its Asian neighbors in terms of public
education expenditure.

A minuscule 0.03% of the Indonesian workforce has
earned a university degree, according to government
statistics. Only 39% of 12-to-15-year-olds ever make
it to secondary school. Addressing a major world
conference this month on training and development in
Kuala Lumpur, Telkom Indonesia chairman Tanri Abeng
lamented that more than 80% of Indonesians have only a
primary-school education.

With a record 40 million people unemployed, the
education system's failure means that Indonesia's pool
of unskilled and increasingly unemployable labor is
growing exponentially. That's bad economic and social
news for a country that nearly a decade after the
1997-98 Asian financial crisis is still straining to
recover from the economic adversity and displacement.


I am posting this article from the South China Morning Post (Monday, August 21, 2006) about a Cuban medical team in Indonesia as I think it points to a quality of social cooperation or assistance among countries that is quite remarkable. It is a contrast with the nature of cooperation/assistance from Australia to Indonesia.


Cuba proves size doesn't matter on the world aid front

When a quake hit Java in May, Havana was quick to lend a humanitarian
hand - as it often does, writes Tom Fawthrop

More than two months after the earthquake that killed almost 6,000
people on Java, much of the world's international relief effort has
wound down. An army of medics from countries including Italy, Japan,
Poland and Pakistan have long returned home.

But among the ruins of 100,000 homes, a team of doctors from one small
Caribbean country is labouring to support the estimated 650,000 people
affected by the quake in May.


Below is a page 5 extensive article on the launch of the PRD initiated electoral party PAPERNAS and other new parties. This is a major breakthrough in publicity for this initiative. Hopefully I can put up an English translation soon.


For an interesting article on a recent mobilisation of several thousand of people from the Jakarta semi-proletarian poor (kaum miskin kota - KMK - urban poor), see the article by Zely Ariane

For further background material see the 1997 interview with Marlin on the politics of the mobilisation of the urban poor.

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