FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Indonesia Gets to Pick Its Killer

The International Herald Tribune headlined it “A Proudly Normal Election” in Indonesia, and it was — a minimal-choice election, as normally happens in most countries (Jacob Ramsay, “A Proudly Normal Election, ” International Herald Tribune, July 8, 2009).

This election was a de facto choice among three mass-killing Suharto generals — each of them old US proteges — one of whom actually embodied the specter of something like fascist dictatorship, and people voted for the smoothest, least frightening general, the incumbent, Gen. Susilo.

But it was impossible on the ballot to vote for the poor or to vote against killing civilians, because none of the candidates, pre-screened by the establishment, stood for anything like that: these were candidates of the rich, and of murder.

Gen. Susilo had most of the army and most of the rich people behind him, so he had most of the media propaganda and also most of the campaign money.

In Indonesia a lot of poor people like the election season because they get direct cash bribes. Party messengers come to their homes and give each family several dollars, and this time everyone I met said Gen. Susilo’s footmen gave the most money.

Beyond that, his two rivals were repulsive to many people. They selected as their running mates the two most hated generals in the country. One, Gen. Prabowo, has a neo-fascist style and made his name as a hands-on torturer and as Suharto’s son-in-law, and the other, Gen. Wiranto, saved the army in 1998 when he threatened a Tienanmen-style massacre of demonstrators if they challenged the army after toppling Suharto.

So compared to those two, Gen. Susilo seemed less bloodthirsty, even though he’s been high in the chain of command for some of the country’s most famous massacres, including Jakarta ’96, occupied East Timor ’99, Aceh in the early 2000s, and as President he’s backed nationwide police torture and army torture and murder in sealed-off Papua, and has a practice of arresting people who insult him or who hoist local independence flags. Economically, Gen. Susilo broke the law and canceled severance pay for workers, and hunger and diarrhea have been increasing nationwide, especially in Nusatenggara in eastern Indonesia.

But he’s done all that smoothly. He’s seen as smart, and he gets lots of foreign money. The US and investors like him because he does the necessary killing and holds down wages discreetly — without bragging about it — and he lets them take minerals and forests and labor while demanding smaller bribes than Suharto.

And at the same time he’s made life better for city elites, lots of condos and spectacular malls. If you have money, life in Jakarta can be Valhalla. That gets him good press coverage.

But if you’re poor, police thugs will come and bulldoze your home to put up those fancy condos, and your chances of working, eating, or putting your kid through primary school are the same or worse than before Susilo.

So the Herald Tribune is right, this was a normal election. There was voting but there wasn’t much choice.

ALLAN NAIRN writes the blog News and Comment at www.newsc.blogspot.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

ALLAN NAIRN writes the blog News and Comment at www.newsc.blogspot.com.

Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
Patrick Cockburn
Is ISIS About to Lose Its Last Stronghold in Syria?
Joseph Grosso
The Invisible Class: Workers in America
Kim Ives
Haiti’s Popular Uprising Calls for President Jovenel Moïse’s Removal
John Carroll Md
Dispatch From Haiti: Trump and Breastfeeding
Alycee Lane
On Heat Waves and Climate Resistance
Ed Meek
Dershowitz the Sophist
Howard Lisnoff
Liberal Massachusetts and Recreational Marijuana
Ike Nahem
Trump, Trade Wars, and the Class Struggle
Olivia Alperstein
Kavanaugh and the Supremes: It’s About Much More Than Abortion
Manuel E. Yepe
Korea After the Handshake
Robert Kosuth
Militarized Nationalism: Pernicious and Pervasive
Binoy Kampmark
Soft Brexits and Hard Realities: The Tory Revolt
Helena Norberg-Hodge
Localization: a Strategic Alternative to Globalized Authoritarianism
Kevin Zeese - Nils McCune
Correcting The Record: What Is Really Happening In Nicaragua?
Chris Wright
The American Oligarchy: A Review
Kweli Nzito
Imperial Gangster Nations: Peddling “Democracy” and Other Goodies to the Untutored
Christopher Brauchli
The Defenestration of Scott Pruitt
Ralph Nader
Universal Voting Dissolves the Obstacles Facing Voters
Ron Jacobs
Vermont: Can It Happen Here?
Thomas Knapp
Helsinki: How About a Fresh START?
Seth Sandronsky
A Fraught Century
Graham Peebles
Education and the Mental Health Epidemic
Bob Lord
How to Level the Playing Field for Workers in a Time of Waning Union Power
Saurav Sarkar
I Got Arrested This Summer (and So Should You)
Winslow Myers
President Trump’s Useful Idiocy
Kim C. Domenico
Outing the Dark Beast Hiding Behind Liberal Hope
CounterPunch News Service
First Big Strike Since Janus Ruling Hits Vermont Streets
Louis Proyect
Survival of the Fittest in the London Underground
David Yearsley
Ducks and Études
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail