Shadow of a Revolution-Indonesia and the Generals

Writer: Roland Challis

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Indonesia is a country that is often seen only through Western eyes and is largely defined by western interests: exploitable resources, client power groups, corruption, ethnic disord, the power of the gun, and aborted democracy. The West has judged Indonesia through the standard tests of aid, trade, investment, political stability and ideology, rather than trying to see it from an Indonesian perspective. After half a century of ‘independence’ Indonesia is still struggling to assert its identity as a nation, but its ability to do so remains in question. After the Second World War, South East Asia became embroiled in the Cold War between communism and capitalism. The raw material resources of Indonesia were fought over by the old colonial powers and the newcomers like Japan, USA, China and the USSR. Communism had also put down roots in the region and Sukarno was seen by the West as a bulwark against its further expansion. In the three decades between the fall of Sukarno and the fall of Suharto the world moved on and some things did change in Indonesia for the better, but at the end of the same period most of Indonesia’s old problems persisted and some had worsened. Add to these the age-old phenomena of religious and ethnic regionalism, and you are still left with the fundamental question of whether Indonesia in its present form is governable at all. As BBC South-East Asia correspondent during the period of Sukarno’s downfall, Roland Challis was deeply involved in the events he describes, and has become conscious since of how much more there is to say about it all.  Buy Now

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