19 September 2008

Healing and Justice

I recently bought a book (I buy lots of books and they are starting to over run my house) Kerusuhan Mei 1998: Fakta, Data, dan Analisa (Riots May 1998: Facts, Data, and Analysis). I am reading through it albeit at a much slower pace than I would like. I have too much to do so I cannot devote as much time to reading as I would sometimes like to.

The book is published by Asosiasi Penasehat Hukum dan Hak Asasi Manusia Indonesia (APHI) and Solidaritas Nusa Bangsa, and they have been facilitated (I am guessing funding) by Yayasan TIFA.

The book is comprehensive in terms of the facts and data it supplies. It also relies on the public record for statements from people with knowledge of the events and how they unfolded.

Based on what I have read so far, I have this question.

Can Indonesia really move past the tragic events of May 1998 and really heal if the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are not held to account and where possible punished?

It would be interesting to see whether people favour a truth and reconciliation commission or the much more rigid justice of a court system (assuming that Indonesia's Human Rights Courts were given the mandate and tools to deal with these crimes).


Amitz Sekali said...

It depends on what you mean by "heal"?

I'm of chinese descendant. I might be the one who is extreme, but on at least a weekly basis, it always cross my mind to try to diversify everything in case another anti-chinese riot happen.

The old chinese are more hardline, especially those who lose their family members and friends on 1965 (and on 1997). That's why many chinese from the area which are hurt the most in 1965 are usually the most racist of all.

Anyway, looking back, it's funny how that event is the reason my parents met each other.

tere616 said...

Is it good ? I plan to buy it after I finished my Zaman Edan by Richard Lloyd Pary.

Personally, I would say, I doubt it. Even if the justice were there. The wound still there, both, Indonesian and Chinese Indonesia have their own thought about it.

There are a lot of racist people here, and how they view May 1998, were scary.

One of my friend, who is Javanesse, and educated person, have his racist opinion. According to him that May 1998 is worth compare to what Chinese Indonesian did to the Indonesian.

Am against his view, but then I realized, Indonesia or we can not move past the tragice event of May 1998. Or if I may say it's extremely difficult.

Amitz Sekali said...


Those kind of events did strengthen the hatred towards each other. From indonesian-chinese perspective, the parents who had experienced the 1965 event now can say "I told you so" to their children (who hadn't experience 1965) because of 1998, especially to children who are more insistently non-racist.

What I perceive to be the danger of living in Indonesia is how the chinese are probably considered a convenient spacegoat to calm the masses for any kind of riot.

PS. Yeah, it was supposed to be 1998, not 1997. I'm lucky to have the luxury to not experience 1998.

Rob Baiton said...


Everything always depends on something. Perhaps what I mean by heal is the ability to move forward with the knowledge that the "crimes" have been dealt with.

I guess the analogy that I was drawing was one where the crimes represent the wound and if it is not dressed then it becomes a festering sore.

The festering sore might be represented by racism or other things.

Strange perhaps as opposed to funny. Yet, one needs to hope that good can come from tragedy and despair.


Good is relative, I guess.

I am finding it interesting to see the factual representations of many of the things that I heard at the time and have heard since.

I am sure everyone has their own thoughts on this and how best to move forward.

Racism is not unique to Indonesia.

Your educated friend has found a reason to justify the violence in his own mind. To justify what happened in May 1998 as payback and then fair is scary to me.

This means that at least for this person Indonesia has not moved forward and has not addressed the reasons for the violence.

Just my thoughts!

Polar Bear said...


You partly know my position, which was partly coloured by another posters comment upon the subject.

His opinion was that by mentioning I was “disregarding cultural and emotional sensitivity”.

There was a joke in Faulty Towers, when Basil Faulty had German guests in his hotel he told his staff “don’t mention the war”.

The comment smacked of the same foolishness.

The riots happened, and the events still affect Indonesia and its people. To ignore them, or attempt to hide them, if foolhardy for the very reasons you mention.
I don’t necessarily think that people should be prosecuted. It would be complicated and to a large degree pointless. But the events should not be swept under the carpet. They happened. To mention them is not “disregarding cultural and emotional sensitivity”, it is being open, honest and frank.

treespotter said...

Not so sure about the question.

Recent history suggests that it varies everywhere, South African, Germany, Latin American countries, they all tend to differ in their approach. Will Indonesia ever get over it? i guess, the answer is yes. Time heals everything, though then one need only look at Israel.Talking about it and discussing it, i think is a very healthy progress. You should also grab a copy of the film, one that was argued before the MK, it's a good one, too (mostly Semanggi incidents).

and ah, Polar Bear, is it safe to assume, then that your opinion is coloured?

Anonymous said...

Rob- you have to believe the unsubstantiated myth first.
Lies Lies Lies and Glodok or was it Lippo Karawaci.

Maybe you should go interview Mochtar Riady's son and infamous gambling gangster Anton Medan why they funded and orchestrated this little temper tantrum?

I smell insurance fraud....

icantspell said...

purba, you are one hell of a racist javanese

Rob Baiton said...


Thanks for dropping by.

Maybe you should drop by Indonesia Matters as you will undoubtedly find Purba in much finer form over there.