AIYA Links: 27 March

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Jokowi’s Maritime Policy : Indonesia, A Global Axis

Joko Widodo, the 7th President of Indonesia has proclaimed Indonesia’s geography as an advantage and has clearly stated that his vision is to make Indonesia a global maritime nexus, in his speech at The East Asia Summit 2014. What are the key objectives of Jokowi’s Maritime Policy?

The Indonesian archipelago Photo:
The Indonesian archipelago Photo:
  1. A restoration of Indonesia’s maritime culture, especially connecting the link between Indonesia’s identity, the country’s archipelago, and livelihood.
  2. Improving maritime diplomacy, with an aim to Indonesia’s partners to collaborate together in solving cases of sovereignty, illegal fishing conflicts, and environmental problems such as maritime pollution.
  3. Revitalise Indonesia’s maritime economy by enhancing the country’s shipping industry, port infrastructures, and tourism.
  4. Refining the management of Indonesia’s fisheries and oceans, by creating maritime “food security” and sovereignty, and also the development of Indonesia’s fishing industry.
  5. Strengthen the maritime defenses of Indonesia, which will help preserve the country’s maritime security and wealth.

He established a new Maritime Security Agency (Badan Keamanan Laut, BAKAMLA) on 13 December 2014 with the purpose to limit illegal fishing boats that are equipped with large amount of personnel and act as coast guard for Indonesia. Furthermore, Jokowi collaborates with his Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Mrs. Susi Pudjiastuti to ensure the sovereignty of Indonesia’s maritime security.

Jokowi stated in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that nine-tenths of the 5.400 fishing boats in Indonesia are illegal, which costs Indonesia $3 billion annually. Moreover, Jokowi and Susi took actions to conserve Indonesia’s fisheries. On 5 December 2014, a Vietnamese fishing boat that was illegally hunting at Riau islands in Indonesia, was confiscated by Indonesia’s navy and destroyed? after the crew was removed. The Indonesian Navy also destroyed 2 illegal Thailand fishing boats on 28 December 2014. In addition, Jokowi wants to send a message that Indonesia takes serious actions against illegal fishing by sinking the ships.

One of Jokowi’s key tenants of maritime policy is improving interisland connectivity and refining port infrastructures of Indonesian archipelago. Indonesia’s archipelago has 6 million square kilometers with thousands of islands which are crucial to develop Indonesia’s maritime industry. There still exists a lack of interisland connectivity on Maluku, Eastern Indonesia, and North Maluku. Jokowi needs to build Indonesia’s port infrastructure in order to expand Indonesia’s maritime economy in the future.

Jokowi also needs to encourage maritime security and diplomacy especially in the code of conduct in the South China Sea between ASEAN and China. Jokowi is currently working alongside the Foreign Minister, Ms. Retno Surmadi to establish a more bilaterally driven, assertive, and self-interested strategy to Indonesian diplomacy.

To learn more about Jokowi and his maritime policy, visit the official website of Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Reflection on Language Learning: An Inadvertent Love Letter to Indonesia

I’ve been asked to write this month about learning bahasa. My first thought was, ‘oh dear’. For the last eight months I haven’t been in the language-learning mindset of writing out sentences, memorising vocabulary and substituting in grammar structures. I’ve been ‘immersing’ in Indonesia instead – and naturally, I’m sure, my bahasa has developed.

Alex photo
Alex with new friends in Indonesia. Photo: Alex Murfett

The path ahead learning bahasa for me is definitely a long tunnel though. That’s why it’s good to enjoy the ride. Stepping into the street or making friends in my classes when I first arrived in Jogja for my study abroad semester, there was a motion to bahasa that hadn’t been there in the textbook approach. Gradually, the words people spoke morphed into form in my ears and I could uphold a conversation without asking, “maaf, tolong ulangi” (please can you repeat that) too often.

I started to enjoy sinking into the flow of conversation and repeating back sharp and energetic sounds similar to the ones I was hearing. The big surprise I had heard time and time again in my Indonesian classes at Melbourne university but had not realised for myself until study abroad, was how dynamic and ever-changing bahasa Indonesia is. Particularly, bahasa gaul (the colloquial register). At this stage in my bahasa, this is why the tunnel ahead is long – inadvertently, by wanting to be in and honour Indonesia’s cultures and people.

One of the lovely things to come from facing challenges with speaking is the empathy it you develop for foreigners in Australia learning English. It really is humbling – and I am personally grateful to each person who has listened and wanted to have a chat, not fixating on the form of my words.

After the experience of AIYEP, just recently, my love and adoration for Indonesia has expanded in all directions. Language was the seed – and it is the present path. It is the way we are eventually able to relate to and form friendships. And a way we can be curious and take an interest in a truly beautiful place. For me, it tends to be something to flow with and enjoy. Yet, language learning is also a special way to give back to a place generous to the core that welcomes humanity with open arms.

I don’t know how this got soppy. Learning bahasa itself has been a lot of fun. There have been funny moments. The time in year 12 I asked when we were going to die (meninggal) instead of leave (meninggalkan). The time I walked up to the counter in a printing shop, only to have the guy on the other side explode into fits of laughter. The multiple times someone has done a double take when I open my mouth and bahasa (in my individual tongue) comes out. Situations I know other bahasa-learners also experience. And that I know will (and am bemused to have) continue unfolding as I keep along a path of discovering Indonesia.

AIYA Links: 20 March

1 soeharto dan pm australia malcolm fraser di peternakan sapi tapos

Above: the late Malcolm Fraser visits a feedlot with former president Soeharto during a visit to Indonesia in 1976.

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Q & A With Dr Thushara Dibley, Deputy Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre

Thushara Dibley is Deputy Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. Her research focuses on the system of international aid and development, its interface with grassroots and transnational activism and their influence on human rights based policy and practice in Southeast Asia. In addition to her academic work, Thushara has undertaken a number of consultancies in Southeast Asia. She has served on the Board of Inside Indonesia since 2007 and was the postgraduate representative for the Asian Studies Association of Australia in 2009-10. Thushara took some time out of her busy schedule to share her thoughts on Indonesia with the AIYA team.

Photo: Thushara Dibley

Tell us a little about your background — what did you study, and where did you begin your career after you graduated?

I studied a Bachelor of Liberal Studies – the degree for people who didn’t know what they wanted to be when they grew up. As part of the degree I had to do a science major, an arts major and a language. For the first three years of the degree most of my time was devoted to the science part of the degree (neuroscience). Once that major was out of the way, I was finally able to commit myself to Indonesian language and Asian Studies, and for the first time, I really LOVED being at university. I went on to do Honours in Indonesian Studies, focussing on the role of Indonesian language in Timor-Leste. It was a very empowering experience. I had grown up in Indonesia, but my time in Timor was the first time I had used my Indonesian language as an adult. Immediately after submitting I started a research assistant job at the University of Newcastle, but my real focus was on how to get over to Timor-Leste, which eventually I managed to do in September 2005 through the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program. After about 10 months in Timor-Leste working as an advisor to a local NGO, I returned to Australia to do more research assistant work, and eventually started a PhD in 2008 that looked at NGOs involved in peacebuilding in Timor-Leste and Aceh.

Tell us about your current job — where are you working, and what do you do? Do you use your Indonesian experience in this position?

Currently I am the Deputy Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre at the University of Sydney. It is an extremely diverse role. I am responsible for overseeing the day-to-day running of the centre, liaising with academics around the university and representing the university when we have visitors from or interested in Southeast Asia. On some days I could be pouring over spreadsheets working on financial issues related to running the centre, and on others I could be hob knobbing with high level diplomats from the Laos Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

My Indonesia knowledge and experience plays an important part of my role. Just at the moment, I am working with colleagues from around the university to run a training session for 25 Indonesian women from the NGO sector. Knowing how to speak Indonesian and having an understanding of Indonesian civil society is very important for this particular project. But, having knowledge of Indonesia is important more generally because it helps with aspects of my job like understanding appropriate cultural practices when meeting and greeting guests from Southeast Asia, having networks in Southeast Asia and being able to advise students and academics travelling to Indonesia for the first time on what to expect.

What do you enjoy the most — and least — about living and working in Indonesia?

I lived in Indonesia as a child for about 10 years. Since then, I have visited, but not lived there for extended periods of time. Having spent such a long time there as a kid, Indonesia feels very familiar to me. There are some things that just haven’t changed since I lived there in the 1980s and 90s… like the smell of the Hero supermarket or the sound of a kaki-lima going by, or the call to prayer. For me, going back to Indonesia evokes lots of memories my childhood, which is one thing I really love about it.

What I like least is the pollution, and (like everyone else) the traffic and seeing the effects of poorly managed over development on the country.

If you had four weeks to travel in Indonesia, where would you go?

My next research project is looking at the disability movement in Indonesia. I have planned to visit disability activists in six different cities across the country: Jakarta, Yogya, Makassar, Kupang, Banda Aceh and Padang. So… my next four week trip to Indonesia will hopefully involve visits to all of these places.

What kind of opportunities do you see in your field of work for young Australians with an interest in Indonesia — and vice versa?

From where I sit within the university, there appear to be more and more opportunities for students to travel to Indonesia. Our centre has been successful in winning funding through the government’s New Colombo Plan. We have sent over 30 students in the last twelve months to Indonesia, including many who have never been to or thought about traveling to Indonesia before. We have programs planned that involve sending at least that many, and possibly more, to Indonesia over the next twelve months. There also seems to be a growing recognition from the government’s perspective that this sort of exposure to Indonesia, and other countries in the region, is valuable.

That said, knowledge of Indonesia is pretty niche, which means that opportunities for employment where that knowledge can be directly applied are few and far between. The people in my networks who have an interest in Indonesia and who have been able to gain employment that draw on this interest have had to be creative entrepreneurial. For some, they have pursued this interest by undertaking a PhD. But with the shrinking of Indonesian Studies around the country, they have had to choose topics with an Indonesia focus, but also with a disciplinary focus that allows them to be employed in more than just an Indonesian studies department. Others have taken their passion for Indonesia into the government and private sectors, but have really had to be strategic and campaign hard to make sure that their job within those sectors allows them to continue to engage with Indonesia. Others have taken a gamble with private consultancies, their own small businesses, or pursued their interest voluntarily. For those who are truly passionate about Indonesia, they manage to create ways in their life to keep up their passion.

How useful have your Indonesian skills been for finding work in your industry?

I have been lucky in that every major career move I have made, my Indonesian skills have played a major role in being selected for the role. I was selected as a volunteer for the AYAD position in Timor-Leste, even though I had no experience at that stage in the development sector, because I could speak Indonesian. My roles as research assistant have often been because I have an Indonesian Studies background. And in my current role, knowledge and experience of a Southeast Asian country were one of the essential job criteria.

Follow Thushara on Twitter @thushdibley

AIYA Links: 13 March

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Q & A With Sooji Kim, Empat Lima

Empat Lima is a Melbourne based female rock band inspired by 1960s Southeast Asian girl groups, most notably Dara Puspita from Indonesia. On March 29, 2015 Empat Lima is set to perform at the Copacabana in Collingwood with legendary Jakarta group The White Shoes & The Couples Company to promote and celebrate the achievements of the female arts community in both Australia and Indonesia. AIYA caught up with Sooji Kim, Empat Lima’s bassist to ask about the upcoming tour and discuss collaboration within the Australia-Indonesia arts community.

Group press_154
Empat Lima: Sooji Kim, Carla Ori and Steph Brett. Photo: Theresa Harrison.

How would you describe your band to people (Australians and Indonesians) who haven’t heard you before?

We originally were inspired by 1960s girl groups from South East Asia, namely Dara Puspita from Indonesia. Although they are amazing musicians it is the energy and spirit of their sound that captured our attention and continues to inspire us. These women were revolutionary, and it is this energy that we hope to capture in our music. Other bands that influence our music include ESG, Blondie, the Boredoms and OOIOO.

Tell us about your upcoming tour. When and where will it be held?

We have invited the White Shoes and the Couples Company to Australia for a small run of shows, but mainly for the launch event for WANITA- Womens Arts Network Indonesia to Australia. This will be a huge event at the Copacabana in Collingwood that celebrates the diversity of female talent in Melbourne within the arts. There will be zine and art stalls, fashion shows, breakdancing and of course, bands. Empat Lima and the White Shoes will be joined by incredibly fun band Parking Lot Experiments. We saw them last week at a festival and their energy was exploding from the stage! This is an event that has been a long time in the making and we’re very excited about it. There will also be the culmination of our tour last year in Indonesia, in the form of the first WANITA mixtape and Zine to be launched on the day!

What are you looking forward to most about touring with White Shoes & The Couples Company?

It will be great to see these lovely people again! We had much fun when we played shows in Jakarta last year. I’m looking forward most just to see them play live again.

How did this collaboration begin? Who came up with the idea?

My housemate and I were brainstorming one night before the tour last year and came up with the idea for WANITA. We were looking at ways to further the connection with the female arts community in Indonesia while Empat was there on tour. As it turned out it was a great way to hold workshops and meet women within each city. We met so many interesting groups of people, and we learnt a lot about the different cultures of each place we visited. It made the tour a lot more meaningful and is a project that has the capacity to continue to evolve, which is satisfying.

Where do you see the progress of Australia-Indonesia collaboration through the arts?

I am hoping that this WANITA project will facilitate networks to develop within the Aus/Indo female arts community. There are a lot of incredible female artists I’ve met in Indonesia whose work draws a lot of parallels with artists from Melbourne. And yet the worlds are virtually unreachable to each other. Indonesia seemed to me to be a place where people meet and work through meeting each other, talking and organically reaching a point of collaboration. So I am trying to provide a point of introduction with WANITA. In the bigger picture, I see this as a small step to helping women and multicultural minorities to access more support within our community.

Do you think arts collaboration is strong at the moment or is there still a way to go?

There are strong projects between larger organisations in Melbourne doing fantastic collaborations with some Indonesian artists and musicians. There will be some more exciting projects planned for the coming year also. However, I’m interested in the smaller-scale community-building aspect of this project. I think there is plenty of room for growth in this area, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops through WANITA.

If you would like to know more about Empat Lima you can check out their Facebook page or better still come and see them for yourself!

The upcoming tour is proudly supported by AIYA Victoria.

wanita poster

AIYA Links: 6 March


Above: Australian parliamentarians at a dawn vigil appealing for clemency for two death row inmates in Indonesia (AAP photo)

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Living My Research: Indos (Eurasians) in Indonesia Since 1949

One of the most common questions I’m asked as a PhD candidate isn’t the usual ‘why did you choose this topic’ or ‘why are you investigating race/memory/other academic term from that perspective’. Rather, it’s ‘how does it feel to be living your research?’ The reason is simple. For the past three years I’ve researched the history of Indos – Eurasians, or people of mixed Indonesian and bule descent – who are mostly famous in Indonesia today as Sinetron stars. I’m married to an Indonesian man from Manado, so of course the children we are expected to have will be labelled Indo. A few people have laughingly commented that I’m doing personal, rather than academic research, for my own future family.

Andika and Ros at their 'verloofde' (engagement party. Photo: Rosalind Hewett
Andika and Ros at their ‘verloofde’ (engagement party). Photo: Ros Hewett

The comment that comes up most frequently is wow, you’re bule and your husband is Manadonese – you’re going to have gorgeous children who’ll become celebrities! Many Indonesians are delighted that I have an Indonesian husband, even if some warn me he could be a bit nakal¸ because apparently that’s what Manadonese people are like. My husband’s been warned that his wife will probably divorce him and is also nakal, because that’s what bule women are like. A few concerned Australians warned me before getting married that Andika was probably only interested in me because he wanted to migrate to Australia for a better life – never mind that he’s from a much wealthier family than me! And then there are our unborn children, who don’t really seem to have much choice in the matter; they’re going to be good-looking and probably terrible Sinetron actors, as the stereotype goes. At times we’ve had to negotiate these stereotypes on a daily basis, sometimes through three language mediums: Indonesian, Manado Malay and English. We’ve learned to smile patiently and laughingly report to each other the ways in which we’re supposed to behave based on our ethnicity and/or race.

I might be living my research, but I became interested in the history of Indos in Indonesia before my husband and I were ever a couple. The historian in me wanted to find out why an older generation of Indos, almost all of whom (about 200,000) left Indonesia after 1949, settling in mostly the Netherlands, had such different stories and different ways of identifying to the younger generation in Indonesia today. The term remained the same, but many of the meanings associated with it have changed. The older generation mostly identify as Dutch speaking children of European men and Indonesian or Indo women, born in the Netherlands Indies (colonial Indonesia), who found themselves outcasts in the new Indonesian Republic and forgotten by the former Netherlands Indies government, the Dutch government and the Indonesian government. During the early years of the National Revolution (1945-1949), thousands of members of this generation were killed on the islands of Java and Sumatra, notably in several mass slaughters carried out in East Java, because they were perceived by fervently nationalist pemuda groups as loyal to returning colonial troops after Japanese surrender. This period (1945-1947) is called the Bersiap by Indos who left Indonesia, and was one of the main catalysts behind their decision to leave the country.

My research looked mostly at what happened to those who remained in Indonesia, though I did some oral history interviews in the Netherlands in late 2012 and also Queensland, where some Indos of this generation had emigrated. I lived in Jakarta for almost a year in 2013, and during this time met young and elderly Indos across Java and in the Minahasa region of North Sulawesi. Then, to try to make the long wait for an Australian partner visa more bearable, I lived in Manado for a few months with my husband in 2014, and worked through the documents I’d collected from the Dutch archives about the 1950s. These documents talked about the breakdown of Dutch-Indonesian relations over the West Irian issue, which didn’t become part of Indonesia until 1963 (today the provinces of Papua and West Papua). The result was the complete expulsion of all Dutch citizens in December 1957, in what’s called the Black Santa Claus Incident (Peristiwa Sinterklas Hitam). All Indos remaining in Indonesia with Dutch citizenship left. The small number who took Indonesian citizenship assimilated, particularly during the Suharto years, and for many, it wasn’t really until after 1998 that they began to gather with other Dutch speakers and recall the days of their youth.

My research has taken me to some fascinating places – old Dutch cities with cobblestoned streets, modern retirement homes on the Australian Sunshine Coast, coastal fishing villages consisting entirely of people tracing their descent to Portuguese and Spanish traders four hundred years ago, and Pacific Place, one of the most elite shopping malls in Indonesia. People have been kind enough to share their stories with me, from humble fishermen to Dutch Indo activists to famous Sinetron stars to housewives serving me delicious snacks to retired soldiers expressing their complete loyalty to Indonesia. Possibly the most interesting tie-in between my own circumstances and the history that I’ve researched is the fact that I found out my husband’s great-grandfather was Indo, of Dutch and French descent, and I was able to interview Andika’s great aunt about the family history before she died last year. When we attended the funeral, I was able to provide relatives who were present at the interview with a copy of the recording, perhaps contributing to living family history. Some of my interview participants have kept contact with me, and they are awaiting the inevitable book that I’ve promised them. The networks I’ve made across three different countries, not only because I’m married to an Indonesian, but also thanks to the kindness of the people I’ve met, have made the whole PhD project a joy to undertake. They have all contributed, much more than I have, to the writing of a forgotten piece of Indonesian history.

AIYA Links: 27 February

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