Monday, March 13, 2017

The Sultanate of Yogyakarta in time of uncertainty.

            The Sultanate of Yogyakarta is located in the southern part of the Island of Java, Indonesia overlooking the Indian Ocean in the south.  It is surrounded by the province of central Java in the north, east and west.  Its territory is not large.  It is just a tiny kingdom but it is an important province in Indonesia.  Its land is very fertile and very productive. The most well known agricultural product is snake fruit also known as Zalacca zalacca in Latin.          It is also a popular tourism destination because there are ancient temples, nice view of Merapi volcano and living Javanese tradition like Batik and traditional dancing.   Yogyakarta is a student city. There are many good schools and university there.
Lately the sultanate has been exposed by the press and in the focus of public attention in Indonesia because of its political problems.   What’s seems to be the problem?  Let’s take a look at the following facts.

The History

The Sultanate of Yogyakarta was born as a result of political conflict in the kingdom of Mataram in the 17th century.   At the time the capital of Mataram was in Surakarta, central Java.  The ruling king Paku Buwono was not fully independent.  He was highly influenced by the Dutch East Indies Company that dominated and exploited the kingdom.  Prince Mangkubumi, the crown prince of Mataram, was not content with the situation.  He wanted Mataram to be free from colonial domination.  So he became a threat to colonial ruler.  Then the Dutch East Indies Company tried to eliminate him from Mataram.  That’s why the prince and his followers rebelled.  A long armed conflict between King Paku Buwono who was backed by the Dutch Indies company on one side versus Prince Mangkubumi on the other side took many lives.  After many years of fighting a peace settlement was reached in 1755.  An agreement was signed in the village of Giyanti that divided the kingdom of Mataram into two kingdoms.  King Paku Buwono remained the ruler of Surakarta meanwhile prince Mangkubumi became the ruler of Yogyakarta.  He became Sultan Hamengku Buwono I. 
When the British army occupied Indonesia in the 19th century the Sultanate of Yogyakarta was attacked in 1855.  Sultan Hamengku Buwono II was exiled in Sri Langka and the kingdom was once again divided into two.  Prince Noto Kusumo from the Sultanate became Paku Alam.  He ruled over a part of the Sultanate that since then on was called Paku Alaman.
In the first half of the 20th century an upheaval of freedom movement in Indonesia got a golden opportunity when the Japanese military was defeated in the World War II.   Sukarno and Hatta proclaimed Indonesian independence on August 17, 1945 when there was a vacuum of power following the defeat of Japanese armed forces to allied powers.  Sukarno became the first president of Indonesia and Hatta became the first vice president.  Soon they got popular support from almost all Indonesian since they had prepared the movement long before the proclamation.  The local rulers, the nationalist and the Muslim organizations were behind them.  Only the communist party was reluctant to support them.  Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX was no exception.  On September 1945 he made a statement that the sultanate of Yogyakarta fully support and become a part of the Republic of Indonesia.  He further stated that Yogyakarta would become a special province.  The executive power in Yogyakarta was in the hands of Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX and Prince Paku Alam VIII as the governor and vice governor.  Since then on leadership of the province is always in the hands of Sultan Hamengku Buwono and Prince Paku Alam.  The office of governor is inseparable with the traditional leadership. Today the governor is Sultan Hamengku Buwono X and the vice governor is Prince Paku Alam X.

The root of political problem

            The Reform movement that began in 1998 changed everything.  The movement was directed toward despotic ruler of Suharto.  His absolute power was a perfect breeding ground for corruption, collusion and nepotism.    The intellectuals, students, political activists organized a rally protest.  Finally following bloody incidents in Jakarta in May 1998 Suharto resigned after thirty two years in power.  The following year Indonesia successfully held a democratic general election.  After that the next democratic elections were held again in 2004 and 2009, and 2014. 
            The idea of democracy is widely supported by the Indonesian people from all levels.  Consequently the wind of democracy also sweeps Yogyakarta.  The SBY (administration) government proposed a new law on the local government of Yogyakarta.  The law stated that the governor of Yogyakarta must be elected by the people and it is not hereditary anymore.  On one occasion the president stated publicly that the local leadership must change.  Surprisingly the people of Yogyakarta refused the law.  They do not want any local election for a governor.  They organize rally protest and some people even threatened to separate from Indonesia.
              The social condition in Yogyakarta is really unique.  It is one of the best places to study in Indonesia.  Gadjah Mada University is the best University in Indonesia where Amin Rais, the prominent leader of reform movement teaches political science.  Besides GMU, there are many good schools in Yogyakarta.  Therefore community of students is an important element of the Yogyakarta society.  Common people, however, are the majority there.  They are not well educated.  For them primordial bound is still very important.  Traditional Javanese values are still dominant among them including the idea of monarchy.  So for them kingdom is a must.  Election to elect a new governor is beyond their imagination.  Any violation to traditional values means a serious threat for them that will invite hostile reactions.

The weaknesses of a monarchy and the need for a professional local leader.

            These people do not understand and they do not want to understand the weaknesses of monarchy and the benefit of democracy.  They don’t trust central government anymore.  Any efforts to tell them will surely fail.    For them monarchy is the identity of Yogyakarta and it is nonnegotiable. 
            The neighboring kingdom in Surakarta once had two kings. When the former king Paku Buwono XII passed away the royal family split into two groups.  One group wanted Prince Mangkubumi to become a new king while the other group wanted Tejawulan to succeed his father.   As a matter of fact the majority supported Mangkubumi as King Paku Buwono XIII.  He controlled the palace of Surakarta.  But still some royal family members supported Tejawulan.  For some time there were two kings there although finally Tejawulan gave up.  It is clear that in any monarchy the struggle for power may come up with emergence of two kings.  There is no guarantee that it will never happen in Yogyakarta.    In such a situation who will become governor if it happens in Yogyakarta?
            A king may pass away any time.  Sometimes a king passes away when his eldest son is still very young.  Let’s say he is still a student.  It means that he is not capable to become a governor.  If he has to work as a governor, he will not be able to do a good job.  There was a precedent in the 19th century when the new king was a kid.  As a consequence Prince Diponegoro became the real ruler because he was the most influential prince.
            Patriarchy is another strong value in Yogyakarta.  Men are considered to be better leader than women.  The present Sultan has no son.  So when the time has come for his daughters to become a new king then there is a conflicting traditional value.  Again there is no guarantee that the conflicting values have no effect at all.  Most probably people will argue and even there will be conflict.

The present sultan insisted his daughter becomes his predecessor.

In April 2015 Sultan Hamengku Buwono X made a royal decree stating that his daughter would be his successor as the next king of Yogyakarta.   He said he had received a kind of god’s and ancestor’s guidance to appoint his daughter as his successor.  Soon the decree got hostile reaction from the royal family.  His brothers who hold high ranking positions in the palace hierarchy opposed his decree.  They said it is against the custom and tradition of the Mataram dynasty handed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years.   
Then on December 2015/January 2016 Sultan Hamengku Buwono X once again made a statement confirming the previous decree.  He insisted that his decision is final and whoever opposed him must leave the land of Mataram.  His brothers who were invited to the event refused to attend and stated that they opposed the decree.
In Javanese tradition there is no gender equality. Man is considered to be the leader of woman. Over the past four hundred years the kings of Mataram (Yogyakarta and Surakarta) has been always male.  The idea of a female sultan is against the custom and tradition so it is totally unacceptable for the royal family and the public.  The opposition will no doubt receive popular support. If Sultan HB X insists and so do his brothers, then there will be escalated tension. The royal family will not endorse the new female sultan and there is a possibility that they will decide someone else as a new sultan.  If there are two sultans while the Indonesian law states that the sultan is the governor of Yogyakarta, then Jakarta will face a problem to decide who will become the governor.  A mistake will invite more complicated problem in the special province.

The king is too old.

In any kingdom including Yogyakarta there is no limit as to the terms of a sultan or king. He may be still in power although he is very old. In this case there is no guarantee that he is still capable of working as a chief executive who have to make important decisions for his kingdom.  A leader’s competency is clearly seen on the quality of his decisions. Good decisions will make his country develop rapidly while bad decisions will break his country’s potential.  In certain occasions, for example in a situation when he is not sure that his predecessor will be capable to rule or in a situation when he is in doubt whether there will conflict after he leaves office, may trigger him to stay in power as long as possible.

The king is incapable, incompetent.

Javanese custom and tradition do not have any requirement for a sultan (king) except he must be the eldest son of a prameswari (favorite wife).  There is no requirement as to his competency.  As a result a new king or a crown prince might be someone who does not have any competency at all. The history of Mataram clearly indicated that many decisions had been made that led to deterioration of economic and political condition of the kingdom. It is hard to say that those decisions were made by a smart leader.

The king’s character is bad and erratic.

Since the only criterion to become a sultan is the eldest son of a prameswari, there is no requirement as to his character or personality trait.  That’s why there is a possibility that the eldest son has a bad character. He might be an erratic man who cannot avoid using his emotions and desire to make decision.  He will appoint people to important positions based on his likings. He will choose anyone he likes and he will kick anyone that he does not like. He does not care about competency.  Consequently his organization will not be able to operate to its maximum ability. In this case it is very hard for him to make rational decisions. His bureaucracy will not be able to execute his decisions well.  Finally the whole kingdom will get negative effect from his policies.  Economy will suffer from such policies and will deteriorate. So does other sectors such as politics, education and culture. In short a sultan who has a bad character is a disaster for his kingdom and his society.
            Those are extreme conditions that clearly expose the weaknesses of monarchy.  Not to mention that in most absolute monarchy there is no justice.  The system works for the royal family at the cost of the public.  The ruler will become burden for the people. 
            Since there is no trust to central government anymore, it is impossible for the central government to tell the people of Yogyakarta about these weaknesses.  It means that the person who tells them must come from Yogyakarta.  The people of Yogyakarta need a wise man that can do the job.  He must be capable to overcome wisely the delicate situation of conflict with central government.     Furthermore the local leader must be able to cope with problems of economics, global crisis, tourism, etc.  In short he must be a professional and wise leader.  Again there is no guarantee that all the descendants of the king will become a professional leader.
All those factors mentioned above clearly indicated that Yogyakarta needs a professional local leader.  He must be a king, wise, and well educated. He must have a strong leadership skill, have strong managerial skill, and a modern bright thinking of how to develop Yogyakarta.

The need for a wise national leader.

The problem is not only based on history but also on a statement by the president that the government will change the status of special province.  The statement of president in public is a shock for them.  It was a humiliation to their values, their tradition, their king and their pride.  The president ideally should talk persuasively to them before making a public statement.  The central government must prepare the mental psychological condition that supports a new idea rather than humiliating their values.  Today the public view on central government is negative.  They see central government as conqueror who does not understand them.
Indonesia needs a wise national leader to cope with the problem wisely.  He must be able to build trust first.   Then he must be able to help Yogyakarta find a solution to their leadership problem.   However with the present government busy with the economic and corruption problems it is unlikely that the government will come up with a wise decision on the issue of Yogyakarta.  The absence of firm and wise decision add further uncertainty to the future of Yogyakarta.  Buying time does not help to solve the problem.  It worsens the problem instead.

Uncertainty ahead.

The ideal condition is when there is a professional leader in Yogyakarta who has not only traditional legitimacy but also advanced skill to overcome problems of politics, economics and social.  This condition must meet with a good, professional leader in the central government.  Unfortunately these two factors are very hard to find.  We have only mediocre leaders in a fast changing world.  Therefore uncertainty is the only certain thing.   

Sunday, November 27, 2016


This is a story from a land called Tropic. There the sun always shines brightly all year long. There are only two seasons – dry season and rainy season. In dry season there is no rain at all. The days are always sunny. The sun rises at six in the morning and sets at six in the afternoon. While in rainy season the weather is always cloudy and rainy. However, the temperature is warmer in rainy season. The land is very fertile and productive. There are so many fruits and vegetables there. That’s why most people work on agriculture. Some of them grow rice while the others grow vegetables and fruits. They were prosperous and happy.

There were many animals in Tropic land. There were tigers, monkeys, leopard, panthers, black panthers, elephants and many more. Monkey liked to live there because fruits and vegetables were abundant. Tigers like to live there because there were many buffaloes, goats, sheep, goose chicken etc. They did not have to hunt in forest. They often stole in villages. So they also lived prosperous life. But their numbers grew rapidly. Consequently their need was also rising. Then members of monkey community discussed their problems. Three leaders then appeared in monkey community. White monkey, red monkey and blue monkey. They were the smartest ones in their community. They discussed to find a solution. Finally they decided to improve their efforts of stealing in people’s farm.

The red monkey said: ‘We must improve our efforts of stealing. It must be more frequent and more organized. From now on we must steal five times a day. And we must do it in groups. Let’s say in group of five. Three of you will steal and the others will watch for safety. In case any human being appears, the guards should warn them so the whole group can run’ ‘That’s a good idea, I will inform the whole community about it’, Said the white monkey and blue monkey.

 The next day they implemented the decision. The plan ran well. In a short period their result were doubled. The monkey community enjoyed prosperity from their acts of stealing in human’s farm and rice field. Then the three colorful monkeys became heroes. They were highly respected in the monkey community. At first human being did not notice anything. But then they realized that their harvest diminished significantly. They were suspicious that animals stole their crop. So they decided to improve their security. They patrolled and guarded their farm and rice field night and day.

Some of them spotted groups of monkey tried to steal in their farm. They could repel some of them but still the monkey could steal from them. The problem made them to discuss it. They decided to set various kinds of traps. The plan worked. Several days later many monkeys were trapped. Their feet and hands were caught so they could not move. Human being arrested and punished them. Some of the monkeys were even killed. The monkeys were very worried with the problem. They realized that they were in danger.

The three leaders of monkey met again. They decided to find support from a powerful ally. The next day they met tigers. There were three tigers that they talked to. The striped tiger is the biggest and the strongest one. He was the king of the forest in Tropic land.

 The red monkey said: ‘O, great king of forest, glorious king of forest. Please accept respect and greetings from our community’
 ‘What do you want from me?’
‘We come here to build mutual benefit cooperation between our two communities’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I see a great opportunity for us to make tremendous profit. Near my village there is a village where human beings live. It is very prosperous. We can cooperate to exploit it’.
 ‘How can we do?’
 ‘We will take their crops and cattle’
 ‘Do you mean stealing?’ No, tigers don’t steal! And we don’t eat their crops’
 ‘You don’t have to do it. Let us take it from them. All you have to do is just protect us from human being. They always attacked us lately’.
 ‘What do I get in return?’ asked the tiger. ‘You can eat their buffaloes, goat and chicken’.
 ‘I told you tigers don’t steal’
 ‘I will do it for you if you protect us’
 ‘OK from now on bring us buffaloes, goats, sheep, and chicken everyday. I don’t care how you get them. As long as you can provide us, we will protect you. If human attack you, just tell us. We will see to it’.
‘Thank you very much, great king for your cooperation and protection. I promise I’ll do my best’. 

The next day monkey stole again but they were trapped and arrested by human. So the three monkey leaders immediately came to see the tiger.
‘O great king! We need you help. My people are arrested by human when they were working on a farm. We told them that we were your humble citizen. But they are very arrogant. They said they don’t care who we are. They said you are just a cat’.

 The tiger, the leopard and the Black Panther were very angry to hear that. They immediately came to the village. They talked to chief of village.

‘I am the king of the forest. I demand that the all monkey in your custody be released immediately. They are innocent. They were working when you arrested them. Your men who are responsible must be punished. And from now on monkey must be free to work anywhere in Tropic land. Furthermore you must pay tribute to us. Provide meat for us everyday’.

 Nobody dare to fight the tiger, leopard and black panther so human being had no choice but to accept the tiger’s demand. Since then on monkey were free to take whatever they want from human’s farm. Their farm and rice field were very fertile and productive but animals took the most part of it. So tiger, leopard, black panther and monkey lived prosperous life while human being lived poor life. People in Tropic land are still poor today although they live in a rich land.

A Note on Indonesia-Malaysia Relationship

(I have written this article some years ago. Now I posted here) Indonesia – Malaysia relations is like ocean wave. The ups and downs move very quickly. Sometimes it is good but sometimes it is very bad. The worst relation was during the Sukarno era in the 1960’s. The best one was under Suharto. The reasons are several factors. Elite’s perception plays an important role as in the case of Sukarno. He felt threatened by the international politics at the time. He led a new nation which had just free from western colonialism. He achieved freedom after a long and hard struggle against the Netherlands and the Japanese occupation. Consequently his mind was always suspicious to his long time enemy. That’s why when Malaysia was so close to British government Sukarno thought that it was a move to corner him. He interpreted it as a hostile action toward his new nation. So his reaction was also hostile. Ideology is no doubt played an important in the case. Sukarno was leftist while Malaysia at the time was so close to western capitalism. Ideology helped shape elite’s perception of a hostile neighbor. Sukarno saw Malaysia as a threat to Indonesia. The issue of border is also an important issue today. As there is no clear border between Indonesia and Malaysia this factor may become an obstacle to a good relationship of the two countries. The case of Sipadan and Ligitan Island is a recent example. The two countries claimed the islands but then Indonesia loses the case. The area of Ambalat, to the east of Kalimantan is the latest case of border dispute. It is an oil-rich area so both countries might think hat it is worth fighting for. This is a delicate situation that needs careful handling. Migrant worker is another important issue. Hundreds of thousands of Indonesian worker, most of them are low-paid workers like house maid, driver, etc work in Malaysia. Unfortunately some of them are illegal worker. They do not have legal documents like passport. In Malaysia some of them break the law that makes the situation more complicated. We have to realize, however, that some of them are victims of human trafficking. The issue of culture arises these days. This time the dispute is over song, batik, wayang, and tari pendet. There is an Indonesian song –Rasa Sayange – that appeared in a Malaysian tourism advertisement. The song which means the feeling of love and affection originally is a song from the province of Maluku in the eastern part of Indonesia. Batik originally was an art from royal court in Java. In Prambanan temple that was built in the 9th century we can see the batik decoration in the cloth of the Hindu gods. Wayang also come from the Island of Java. The stories come from India like Mahabarata and Ramayana, and from Java. Tari Pendet is a Balinese dance that appeared in a Malaysian tourism advertisement. Later Malaysia admits that it was a mistake. Reog is a dance from a small town of Ponorogo, east Java. Indonesian people protested the Malaysian claim over these cultural expressions. Consequently tensions mounted. All of these factors make the relations of the two countries complicated. But I am sure that both countries need a good relation. Both countries will suffer from bad relation. They need each other. Even I am sure that Indonesia and Malaysia actually are one nation divided by history and politics. Once Indonesia was occupied by the Netherlands while Malaysia was occupied by British. Good relation is the only way to achieve mutual benefit. That’s why I appeal all parties involved in the case– writers, journalists, press, political parties, business people and general public etc to work hard to create close relations of both countries. Good and close relation is a golden bridge toward business ventures. There are many opportunities for the two countries in business. Indonesian tourist is an important source of income for Malaysia. So are Malaysian tourists for Indonesia. So now let’s try to overcome all the obstacles and create a better relation and enjoy mutual benefit. Diplomats, politicians should talk. Writers, bloggers, hubbers, should contact and discuss the case. Business people should continue their business. For any Malaysians, let’s make peace not war, not conflict.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The King, The Witch and The Priest

Title: The King, The Witch and The Priest Author: Pramoedya Ananta Toer, 2002. This time Pramoedya wrote a famous folk tale from east Java, Indonesia. This story is widely known in Java, Bali, and Madura. The setting of the story is East Java in the 12th century. It is a story about political conflict in a kingdom named Kediri. The people lived prosperous life under king Erlangga. In the village of Girah there was a widow named Calon Arang. She was a well known and powerful witch so everybody was afraid of her. People believed that she had many victims. She had a beautiful daughter, Ratna Manggali. When Ratna Manggali reached the age of marriage nobody dared to marry her. This fact made Calon Arang angry to the community. So she decided to take revenge by killing as many people as possible. One day she prayed to goddess Batari Durga. She wanted to be granted ability to spread plague to the whole country. Batari Durga agreed on one condition that she might not reach the capital. Before long plague spread all over the country and killed many people. Soon people heard the rumors that the plague was created by the witch. The situation got worse and worse. More and more people died. Finally the news about the plague reached king Erlangga. The king held a meeting with his advisors to discuss the situation and then decided to halt and to punish Calon Arang. Soon a troop was sent to the village of Girah to arrest Calon Arang. Unfortunately the troop was easily defeated, even the commander was killed by her. Meanwhile the plague got more ferocious. One more time the king held a meeting to find a way to defeat the witch. Then King Erlangga assigned a well known priest. His name was Empu Baradah, a kind hearted priest. Empu Baradah was contacted and he agreed to help. Empu Barada suggested Empu Bahula, his student, to marry Ratna Manggali. Empu Bahula then proposed her. Because Calon Arang was a rich witch the wedding ceremony was held extravagantly. Empu Bahula then spied on his mother in law. Ratna Manggali who loved him wholeheartedly did not have any suspicion at all so she revealed to her husband that her mother had a secret book of witchcraft. Empu Bahula asked Ratna to take the book for him and she agreed. One day when Calon Arang slept Ratna took the book. Empu Bahula then gave it to Empu Barada. Empu Barada learned the secret of Calon Arang's witchcraft. Then he went to infected areas and he cured the people with his spell. Eventually Empu Barada met with Calon Arang. They fought with spell and finally Calon Arang died. The people of Kediri were saved from the plague. Literature has power because it can shape public opinion. The Javanese rulers realized it and used it for their advantages. I believe this story is an instrument to shape public opinion. The rebel has been described as evil and the ruler has been described as the good side. Consequently the general public was convinced that the ruling elite has privileged to rule. *

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Grass root political conflict in South Banten.

Grass root Political conflict in south banten Once in south Banten Author : Pramoedya Ananta Toer. This story is a description of political conflict in grass root level. The setting is a village in South Banten, Indonesia when there was Darul Islam rebellion in the 1950's and 1960's. The main character is Ranta, a poor worker. He lived a bamboo hut without electricity with his wife Ireng who often complained about poverty and security condition. One day Musa, a wealthy merchant, came. He gave Ranta money and asked him to steal seeds of tea and hevea plants from nearby plantation. Ranta stole it at night but Musa did not pay him. He threatened him instead. Musa's wife was surprised when suddenly Musa came home with anger. Soon they quarrelled. Then Djameng, Musa's subordinate, came to report that the commander was away and that he saw Ranta brought Musa's baton and bag. After that Kasan came with his troop and arms. Musa told him to solve the problem with Ranta. In the quarrel Musa admitted that he was one of DI leaders. His wife got more furious because her parent were victims of DI. Musa was surprised when suddenly the commander got in the house. He had been suspicious of Musa for a long time because Musa was never attacked by DI. Furthermore he just heard Musa's confession to his wife. In addition, he got Musa's bag which contain important documents of DI. Musa denied the accusations. Amidst the quarrel a voice of bird was heard. It was a code from DI. Commander and his troop immediately hid out. Before long a group of people came under chief of village. He addressed Musa as Residen (a district official under Dutch colonial government in Indonesia). He reported that commander went to city with three persons and that there were only ten soldiers left. He thought that it was time to attack the military post with only twenty persons. Realizing he was under threat Musa pretended he did not know anything. After chief of village left the commander came out and continued his interrogation. Musa kept on denying although he was cornered. Suddenly another voice of bird was heard. Once again the commander and his troops found cover. Kasan and his men came. He reported that Ranta was not at home and that he did not find Musa's bag and baton and that he had burned Ranta's house. Again and again Musa denied but Kasan said that Musa ordered him to burn houses and to wage psywar. The commander came out to capture all of them. Later the commander appointed Ranta as interim chief of village. The next day commander met Ranta to discuss security problems that was threatened by Oneng group of rebel. Ranta who was a Heiho (Japanese soldier) would help to organize civilian defence. He recruited local youth to support the military. Then Musa's wife came to inform that she would go home to Sukabumi. Ranta revealed Musa's dirty tricks. Once Musa was also poor. During Japanese occupation he asked those who went to work as romusha (Japanese slaves) to sign a letter. Later it was revealed that the letter gave Musa a right to take over their land. He also told her about his experience when he was forced to steal seeds of hevea and tea. Pramoedya nicely described political conflict and how the village people and the military overcome their problems by unifying all of their forces. Perhaps Pramoedya wanted to express his ideas that political conflict will only make poor people suffer. Whoever the winner poor people will suffer.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Indonesia and Globalisation according to Amin Rais

Indonesia and globalization according to Amin Rais. Book Title : Selamatkan Indonesia (Save Indonesia). Author : Amin Rais Ph.D Publisher : PPSK, Yogyakarta, 2010. Amin Rais is an influential scholar and Muslim leader in Indonesia. He got his Ph.D degree from Chicago University. Today he is a professor of international relations in Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta. He is also a former chairman of Muhammadiyya, the second biggest Muslim organization in Indonesia. Once he was the chairman of Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat (People’s Consultative Assembly – the most powerful state body in the Indonesian bicameral legislature at the time). He was also the chairman of Partai Amanat Nasional (National Mandate Party). In the presidential election in 2004 he was one of the front runners but he was defeated by Susilo Bambang Udoyono. Amin is a well known critic to the government since the era of President Soeharto. He was the one behind the reform movement, known as reformasi in Indonesian language that overthrew President Soeharto in 1998. This time Amin once again criticizes the present government by writing a book with the above title. Amin believes that history repeat itself. Indonesia was once a colony of the Dutch and Japanese. Today Amin said Indonesia is a colony of global powers. The format is different of course, because there is no foreign army occupying Indonesia but the substance is similar. Indonesia loses its sovereignty over its resources. Foreign domination is so strong that Indonesia is weak in terms of economy, diplomacy and military power. In the past Indonesia was a victim of corporatocracy. This is a combination of government, banks, intellectual, press, and corporate forces to exploit Indonesia. Today globalization opens the way for the same old story. Globalization works best for developed countries but it means economic imperialism for developing countries. But Amin also believes that globalization will weaken and it will works against developed countries as well. He cited many experts who criticize globalization. He further explains how corporatocracy works in international politics and how developing countries like Brazil, Venezuela, and Nicaragua response to it. Amin also presented how Indonesia suffers great losses from the case of mining, trade and investment. He concludes that what happened in Indonesia is state captured corruption. State capture corruption is manifested in purchase of various decree and law by corporate sectors and abuse of power. Corporations through the ruling government can purchase law, dictate contract in mining, banking, education, health, water supply and others. Government is just the expansion of corporations. Consequently the state wealth, including its natural resources is exploited for many years with the help of legislation, rationalization and justification of government. This is what happened in Indonesia. In the last part of the book Amin offers a series of action to overcome the problem. He believes that Indonesia still have abundance of potentials. If those potentials are managed wisely, Indonesia will be able to overcome its problems and become a great nation. Amin Rais is academician and politician. His double position makes him difficult to make an objective judgment on politics. As a politician he has his own interest that may become his obstacle to achieve objectivity. I believe there are some elements of truth in his thesis but I believe he is not fully objective. Perhaps he wants to shape public opinion that he is the one who can find solution to Indonesia’s problems. But apart from this subjectivity, I am sure that this is a good book. It gives a clear picture of problems in Indonesian politics today. He also gives a clear example that politicians should express their ideas in a book. He is one of the few Indonesian politicians who can express ideas in a good book. I believe that this book is worth translating into English. (Bambang Udoyono, Indonesian writer)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Midah, lovely lady with golden teeth.

Midah, lovely lady with golden teeth. Author : Pramoedya Ananta Toer In this book Pramoedya described woman' sorrow because of bad treatment of man. The main character is Midah, daughter of Haji Abdul, a wealthy entrepreneur from Cibatok village, who lived in Jakarta, Indonesia. Haji Abdul treated Midah improperly. One day he was angry when he heard Midah listened to kroncong music (Indonesian music) because he thought that kroncong was unlawful for moslem. So he beat Midah. Midah was forced to marry Haji Terbus. He was wealthy and good - looking man. When she was pregnant she realized that Haji Terbus had many wives. Midah was very disappointed then she left her husband. She did not dare to see her parents. She met and then joined a group of street musician. Midah was called si manis (the lovely one). Midah gave birth to a baby boy without husband so she was treated badly. When she wanted to leave the hospital they did not give the baby any proper clothing. When she got back to the street musicians they reluctantly received her. One day when she fed her son Riah, her former maid, saw her. Riah asked her to come home but Midah refused. Riah saw her singing in the streets and in restaurants. To win rivalry with other singer Midah had her teeth covered with gold. Consequently conflict escalated so she had to leave the group. The news about Midah finally reached Haji Abdul whose business declined. He was shocked. He searched for her eveywhere but his efforts was in vain. He was so depressed that he was sick. Midah was singing in Jatinegara when she met Ahmad, a young policeman. He could sing so he trained her to sing. Soon Midah fell in love with him and they went too far. One day Midah told Ahmad that she was pregnant but Ahmad refused to take responsibility because he thought that Midah had many boy friends. She had to come home to her parent and admit the situation. After several days in her parent's home she dicided to leave again. She left Rodjali. Her beauty and her voice were her commodity. She broke all the rules her parent had told her. She became a singer, a movie star and more. Midah was a victim of men. His father's attitude was too hard to her. Her husband never really took care of her. Ahmad just wanted comfort from her. The others just wanted her beauty.