Archive for January, 2008

But Not Here

Indonesia is a religiously plural society. The vast majority is Muslim, but large minorities are Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or animist. The Founding Fathers of Indonesia sought to recognize this fact in the national motto Bhinnéka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity). Traditionally, among some groups, monotheism has been mixed with animism or some local traditions, of demigods and so forth. The political system has also been pluralistic, but in a skewed sense. During the Suharto era only five religious denominations were allowed; Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, and Buddhist. Each citizen had to be a member of one of these groups. Thus, some local religions such as the Agama Jawa Sunda (West Java Religion) were banned and congregants had to choose one of the five recognized religions.

Over the past ten years there have been more and more cases of religious intolerance. Some religiously motivated vigilante groups have sought to close down karaoke bars, whose activities they deem inappropriate for the holy season, for instance of the Ramadan. Similar groups have violently obstructed gatherings of religious minorities. Such cases are nowadays frequently reported, not only because they have increased in number, but also because the media are freer to publish such cases. Not all cases make it in to the newspapers, however.
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Soeharto Dead


Soeharto, who ruled Indonesia for 32 years from 1966 to 1998, died earlier today at age 86.

The Government of Indonesia has called for seven days of national mourning.

Among the many achievements of Indonesia as regards democratisation over the past ten years, the main disappointment is that Soeharto was not tried at court.

Freedom Just Around the Corner

Around Christmas time, I finished reading Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History, 1585-1828 by Walter A. McDougall. One might say that I should not be reading such stuff that is off-topic as regards my thesis. But it was a good and enlightening read, and inspiring for its wit, naration and mix of small stories and broad but convincing brush-strokes.

A big thank-you note then goes to Lars since he gave me the book a while back, and it is only now that I actually got around to reading it.

Continue reading ‘Freedom Just Around the Corner’

Tempe and tahu off the menu!

Two of the most popular Indonesian foods are the bean curd tempe and tahu (tofu). Unfortunately for Jakartans, these foods are off the menu for the next couple of days due to a strike and demonstration by tempe and tahu producers against the price rises for soy bean. As reported by The Jakarta Post, the demonstration yesterday in Jakarta numbered some 10,000 producers who rallied at the State Palacedemanding the government lower soybean prices and discontinue the free trade policy that allows private companies to control prices. Apparently they are unable to raise their product prices corresponding to input prices.

As one of the coordinators of the demonstration, Asep Hidayat, explains in The Jakarta Post: “The State Logistics Agency should take over control of the soybean market again,” He said soybeans were imported from the U.S. and the price had been on the rise since January last year.’

JP also reports that some violence broke out among the frustrated demonstrators. A lot of consumers will probably also be frustrated – whether they sympathise with the demonstrators or not – when they don’t get their tempe.

A dull file…

"Politics is a dull file which cuts gradually and slowly arrives at its end.” (Montesquieu)

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