Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Borneo (Kalimantan) – A Frontline for Survival of Our Planet

INVESTIG’ACTION interview with ANDRE VLTCHEK

Q1: You are preparing a new documentary film about a big island, Borneo, which is shared by three Asian countries. Which was the triggering
factor for making this film now?

AV: The triggering factor was a simple shock. I’m not what you’d call an environmentalist. Of course I care about our planet, about our wonderful creatures, plants, oceans, rivers and deserts. I don’t want them to suffer, to disappear. I wrote an entire book about the plight of South Pacific island nations, called “Oceania”, but that was all – I never made one single film about the environmental destruction.

But after visiting Borneo earlier this year (2017), something changed inside me. The island used to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, covered by impenetrable tropical forests, high mountains, and mighty rivers. Its many kingdoms and cultures were self-sufficient and thoroughly unique. Thousands of animal species were coexisting in harmony, sharing the living space with other creatures like birds, butterflies and rare plants, trees and flowers. It was a magic, gentle and pure world…

And it was all not so long ago. Many things are even documented by stunning old photographs…

Then, Western colonialism changed, basically ruined everything; as it had ruined everything almost everything, all over the world.

Dutch and British invaders, showing no respect and no interest in local people and their habitat, began doing here what they have been doing everywhere for centuries: plundering, stealing, cutting down trees, extracting riches from under the earth, enslaving the locals.

Later on, after semi-independence, the West corrupted local elites and introduced savage capitalism onto basically the entire island of Borneo. In Indonesia, the situation has been the most brutal, since 1965, when the pro-Western treasonous military overthrew the progressive anti-imperialist President Sukarno, putting on the throne a beast, a nitwit and a shameless collaborator, General Suharto. His barefaced money-hungry clique, together with Saudi-type religious bigots, has been running the country until this very moment.

Result: there is almost nothing left of the native forest. Indonesia has the fastest rate of tropical deforestation of any other nation on Earth. Rivers are polluted, often toxic. Hundreds of species are gone forever. Unbridled coal mining is scarring the land. Horrid palm oil plantations are replacing everything. As more and more riches are being found underground, the greater is the destruction. Indonesia is one of the most corrupt nations in the world, partially because of the shameful culture of collaboration of its ‘elites’ with the West, and with extreme capitalism.

What I saw in Borneo simply shocked me. From now on I’ll refuse to shut up. If Indonesians themselves are too scared or too programmed to address the situation, I’ll try to do it myself.

Q2: It seems that amnesia about the massive suffering of enslaved people, provoked by foreign imperialist administrations, is not the main concern of the traditional colonial powers like France, Britain or the US. For 75 years Borneo was a British ‘protectorate’. After its political independence, did UK put into practice a neo-colonial approach, aiming at keeping control of the island’s resources? If yes, what means have been used?

AV: Yes of course. Brits and Dutch, as well as others did it.

There were many well-established neo-colonial strategies implemented in Borneo.

First of all, the elites in all three countries (Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei) are almost totally under control of the West. What is often called ‘corruption’ here is in fact nothing else other than ‘collaboration’ with the foreign powers. Colonialism never died here – in fact it is alive and well in Borneo, and almost everywhere in Southeast Asia. The local ‘elites’ are serving the interests of both European and North American powers. They are willing to rob, to impoverish their own people, so they can maintain their own profits and privileges, and fill their own coffers, as well as those of the neo-colonialists.

Education and ‘culture’ are also playing their terrible roles. Education in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia is almost fully controlled by the Western demagogues, and it is ‘sprinkled’ generously with the extreme and intolerant religious currents, predominantly imported from the Gulf and from the West. Those few writers, filmmakers and film producers who could still be found here, are producing mainly absolute rubbish, and not addressing anything rebellious, socialist or revolutionary here. Almost all of them are well remunerated from the West and expected to shut up. I described it in great details in my latest novel “Aurora”.

The situation in education is even worse: professors are chasing diplomas and PhD’s instead of fighting for their island. They are ‘pacified’, bought by the privileges and by pathetic ‘feel good’ rewards, like those fully paid trips to Europe or the United States. They are paid to travel to the lands of their former colonial masters like UK or Holland, and ‘learn’, instead of spitting into the faces of those who have been robbing them for long and horrendous centuries. After getting indoctrinated at home and abroad, teachers and professors return home and continue their destructive work, brainwashing and indoctrinating both children and youth.

The young generation is taught how to get well-paid professions, how to make money and how to serve Western imperialism and savage capitalism, instead of fighting for, or defending their country or their almost destroyed islands, like Borneo. It is thoroughly shameful! The people who are ruling Southeast Asia would be executed for treason in places like Cuba, China or Russia!

Q3: Back in 2012, Barack Obama announced a “pivot to Asia”. Is Southeast
Asia already turning into the next Middle East because of the US imperialist
ambitions?

AV: Good question, but it came a little bit too late. Southeast Asia and the Middle East are not all that different, anymore.

Look, in both parts of the world, the West used the most extreme religious streams, in order to enslave, brainwash and ‘pacify’ the local population. And it is not only Islam that has been used and abused by Washington, London and Paris. Every imaginable and unimaginable fundamentalist religious torrent was injected into this part of the world.

Result: this enormous part of the world does not have one single great scientist, philosopher, writer or a film director! Not one, just imagine!

The more destroyed, damaged and brainwashed this part of the world becomes, the more it is hailed by the Western mass media as ‘successful’, ‘tolerant’ and ‘democratic’. It is all just one highway robbery, a terrible, cynical joke, but it is being accepted ‘at home and abroad’, as most of the lies that are being spread by the Western indoctrinators are tolerated and embraced, as they are always well paid for.

Q4: How are you planning to produce your documentary film? Are you being funded by some organization?

AV: I have no idea… I’m not funded by anyone.

This is how I always work: I recycle what I make from my books and films into my new work, into my revolutionary struggle for survival of our planet. I often run myself into the ground; periodically I collapse. But then I collect myself, get up somehow, and try to continue my struggle, my journey.

This time I actually asked my readers for support. Borneo is a tremendous story and it may need two films: one short and one feature one. I used the fundraising system: GoGetFunding. I asked for US$20.000, which would hardly cover a half of basic expenses. So far I collected US$60. That would hardly pay for a couple of memory cards. But I never give up.

As the great Chilean President Salvador Allende used to say: “Adelante Camaradas, venceremos nuevamente!”

As an internationalist, I feel that it is simply my duty to fight for Borneo, as it is my duty to fight for Afghanistan or for Venezuela.

If someone is ready to support my work and my struggle, I’ll be grateful. If no one will, I’ll do it on my own, somehow! Attempts to destroy our planet do not wait. Why should I?

More articles by:

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are his tribute to “The Great October Socialist Revolution” a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail