Will Indonesia survive?

TitleWill Indonesia survive?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsEmmerson DK
JournalThe Indonesian quarterly
Date Published11-01-10
Call NumberTA 4166
KeywordsAceh, decentralization, East Timor, Excerpta Indonesica, INDONESIA, POLITICS, Reformasi

Many analysts have predicted the imminent demise of Indonesia as a unitary state after the secession of East Timor. The author of this article argues otherwise. He points out that indeed Indonesia may even have been strengthened by the departure of this province. In April 2000, six months after this took place, the rest of Indonesia was still intact even though there were areas in which potential fractures might become visible. He points out that the very distinctiveness of the various parts of Indonesia can work in a positive way. People with a very different culture may not readily identify themselves with or be inspired by the struggles of people of the same nation but a very different culture. He then turns his attention to potential trouble spots, first and foremost Aceh. He points out although the Indonesian government has handled the problems of this province in a very ham-fisted way, it seems unlikely to pull out, and even if it did it would not be the result of a domino effect but of a set of distinctively Acehnese and Indonesian conditions and interactions. The author also looks at Papua where he feels that the huge diversity of cultures would militate against concerted action, even though as most Papuans are Christians of one sort or another, they might be able to drum up international support. The other two provincies which might just decide to secede are Riau and Kalimantan Timur, but he thinks that the majority of people here, as indeed in Aceh, would prefer more autonomy than actually hiving off. He gives an interesting disquisition of the character of Abdurrrahman Wahid's performance as president. His interpretation is that Wahid's very capriciousness and unexpected behaviour which are a breath of fresh air to a people who had been thoroughly repressed for more than thirty years. He also believes that Wahid is working surreptitiously towards a re-invention of the federal state, without ever uttering the terrible "F" word. He also argues that it is China's best interest to keep Indonesia intact, for if it were to break up various regions in China itself might be inspired to do so too. In short he feels that Indonesia will survive.