Saturday, September 05, 2009


Indonesian news is boring me. You know it must be silly season in the news when the major topic of current affairs is the Pendet dance.

Discovery channel may have put the dance in some infotainment piece on Malaysia, big deal, Discovery is lobotomised drool TV at the best of times.

Meanwhile in turn I must scroll through both equivocating and fulminating correspondent's words. Ughh, ughhh....

Let me say something about the so called nationalism and patriotism in Indonesia.

On the one hand it is infectious; on the other it is vile (a vile infection?).

On the one hand I see cute little kids waving Indonesian flags on the other hand I hear of troops in Papua being interviewed and hand wringingly telling the interviewer that they are there to ensure that the Papuans (aka the first to leave footprints on virgin archipelago soil) are 'nationalistic' enough.

The so called Pribumi evangelising nationalism to Papuans! You got to laugh!

On one side I see Indonesians pulling together in times of hardship, denouncing terrorists, speaking as one; on the other I see segregation between different cultures in Jakarta. I hear nasty words directed at Chinese; I hear lurid tales directed at pribumi. I hear Christians saying this and Muslims saying that.

Indonesia is a hotch potch. It's an collection of peoples that all happened to have succumbed to the lures of the Dutch (plus the Papuans and the Acehnese).

One sultanate wanted to overcome another; so the sultan handed over trading rights of their neighbour to the Dutch; they obliged and helped conquer the neighbouring sultanate.

Every so often a young upstart would pop up and rebel against the local authority, if they were somewhat successful, the Dutch popped around and sort them out so that the local sultan remained in power and the Dutch East Indies company could keep producing coffee or tobacco.

Just like many of Indonesia's modern leaders, local sultans appealed to peasant's loyalty in rhetoric but were ruthless in ensuring their ill gotten tithes when need be.

Nationalism and patriotism. Pah!

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