Date: Mon, 7 Apr 1997 16:38:57 +0100
From: Waruno Mahdi 

Withdrawal of Moluccan Former Dutch Mercenaries to the Netherlands (3)

On Fri, 4 Apr 97 12:23 WET, Chaumont Devin wrote:

>> The retreat of the Ambonese troops was seen as a long-term thing
>> (they were moved together with families, etc.), and it was obviously
>> simpler, and more merciful towards the involved people, to transport them in
>> one move to a permanent destination, rather than first to a temporary
>> intermediate base for a few months.
>You see this as a purely humanitarian move on the part of the Dutch, then?  If

Not necessarily, it was perhaps only a practical move on their part. But I expected a humanitarian interest from our (my and, I thought, also your) part in being at least relieved that the Dutch, even if for no other reason than the practical, had spared the people the ordeal of multiple successive transportations.

>the Dutch were truly guided by humanitarian feelings toward the Moluccans,
>then how could they stand by in Irian Jaya, a scant 300 miles off, while all
>Moluccans in Maluku were systematically being deprived of their liberties
>forever or else being shot?  And how could they, as honorable men, keep their

They weren't deprived of their liberties until much later (together with the rest of the population of Indonesia). As for the Dutch, they were, "as honorable men", tied by the peace treaty and the results of the Round Table Conference. So were actually also Dr. Soumokil and those ex-KNIL officers who instigated the uprising against the united government (united in the sense that representatives of the "State* of East Indonesia", to which Dr Soumokil and his friends originally belonged, were included), to which the Dutch queen had handed over sovereignty over the WHOLE country (save West Irian, to be included a year later). So Dr. Soumokil and friends, and said ex-KNIL officers were acting in contradiction to existing binding treaties, in defiance of their own "State* of East Indonesia", and the officers and men, insofar still upholding allegiance to the Dutch queen, in defiance to their liegelady as well, thereby plunging the people of Central Maluku in a bloody catastrophe. That the Dutch then still somehow felt responsible enough for their idiosyncratic former mercenaries, to provide a new homebase for them in faraway Netherlands, does perhaps bear testimony to a certain degree of humanitarianism after all, what?

It had not originally been an uprising of the Ambonese or other Moluccan people. Dr Soumokil and consorts had before that been connected with the abortive Andi Sele mutiny in Makassar (also within the "State* of East Indonesia"), which however failed to get the population involved. They then retreated to Ambon and tried it again here, unfortunately with more success.

There have of course been rumours, which tried to connect the RMS affair with the Dutch secret service. If that were true, then you would be right of course in decrying Dutch abondonning of the Moluccans. But I know of no facts that prove the accusations. If you do, you must name them first, I think, before placing accusations.

>> Reorganizing these borders inevitably brings much more
>> suffering to the people, than that which it helps alleviate.

ever heard of Biafra? An ethnicity, feeling discriminated in Nigeria, tried to separate itself, with sympathies of many international humanitarian organizations (for understandable reasons). The price they had to pay for the attempt (it failed) was too horrible to be described.

In Rwanda they tried a more practical method to secure themselves of an ethnically homogenous homeland: the Hutus started killing off all the Tutsis. The the Tutsis chased the Hutu government. all Hutus, fearing retaliation, ran over to Zaire... The war is still on there. But don't think such carryings on are restricted to "barbaric" Africa. Ethnic cleansing was invented in "civilized" Europe. Here too, as everywhere else, there were Croats living in Serbia, Serbs living in Bosnia, etc., etc. US and UN specialists are still crawling over entire Bosnia, trying to locate all the "killing fields".

>Under the Indonesian system the idea seems to have been to get rid of any form
>of government that wasn't ABRI dictatorship.  Even under the Dutch, the Sultan
>of Ternate was allowed to keep his court, and the rajas of the central
>Moluccas had some authority.  These institutions had centuries of government
>behind them, but their power was all swept away in a moment by the all-wise,
>all-powerful RI.

It had been the policy of the Dutch United East India Company (the VOC), to subjugate the local heads, but not to replace them by a Dutch administration (which would have been much too expensive, and for which there was not enough personell). The indigenous local establishments were "relieved" of all responsibility of defense and foreign relations (this was taken over by the VOC). They just continued a parasitical existence, exploiting their population to produce the required quota of export products to be delivered to the VOC, under preservation of whatever antiquated methods and organization of production that had existed before that. What sort of totally degenerate decadent feudal stooges this resulted in, was aptly described in Multatuli's "Max Havelaar". Those institutions "with centuries of government behind them" degenerated quite rapidly as soon as they came under VOC dependence.

> Sounds very familiar.  The Dutch told us that the Indonesians were like
>children, and would never be capable of governing themselves.  And the Dutch
>made sure that their Indonesians remained docile and lived up to every word of
>what they said.The only way anyone will ever be able to say what a truly
>Moluccan government would be like is to stand back and let Moluccans govern
>themselves instead of stringing endless lies about their innate inadequacies,
>stupidity, laziness, etc.  Do you honestly believe they could have come up
>with anything worse than Sukarno and Co.?

No, just that they would be no different. Humans are humans, no matter whether Javanese, Moluccans, Serbs, Somalians, or whatever. Sukarno, incidentally was a half-Balinese.

>It IS unjust for Moluccans to be ruled by Javanese, and always will be.  But

They aren't being ruled by Javanese, but like all other peoples of the country, including the Javanese, they are being ruled by Indonesians, which consist of Javanese (the by far largest contingent), Sundanese, Balinese, Madurese, Bataks, Minangkabaus, Buginese, Makassarese, Menadonese, etc., etc., and also Ambonese, Tidorese, Ternatans, etc.

>why do you assume that any of these groups would have to be ruled by Ambonese
>in a free Maluku?

The Ambonese are likely to have an edge over the other Moluccans, similar to that of the Javanese with regard to other Indonesians. That's where the capital is, that's where the university is, by far the greater part of Moluccans with higher education are from here ......

>             Do you believe Moluccans to be incapable of grasping even
>the most fundamental principles of democrasy?  You may find that Moluccans are
>much more egalitarian than you have imagined until now.

Where have I read something like this before? Oh yes, in Raffles. Only, he was writing about the egalitarian democratic traditions among the Javanese I think.

>                                                     I believe that
>Moluccans are generally further culture-wise from Javanese than, say,
>Englishmen are from Russians.

Or Cherokees from Philadelphians? Never mind, you're mistaken anyway. It is at best what one French historian called "dephase", a discrepancy in the phase of development. The commons, still mentioned as an important institution in Beowulf, were finally wiped out when the pasture lands were privatized in England in the 17th (I think?) century. In Russia, these commons, known as "mir", persisted till the and of the last century, when one of the czars started doing something about their disintegration, I think it was Alexander II, but my memory is a bit fuzzy there. In Java, the Dutch liberals set up legislation to decrease the extent of lands of the commons, known here as "desa", in the 1860s and 70s, but the process was much slower than in Russia, so that common lands still persisted well into the 20th century.

On the other hand, democratic traditions of egalitarian societies have nothing to do with modern democracy and human rights, but are a feature of pre-industrial, even pre-feudal social and economical organization. The Moluccans too, will be forced to abandon it (I mean those which haven't already done so), to be able to survive in the modern world. In fact, at least part of the grosly unpopular policies of the Indonesian administration (as also similar policies in other West Pacific countries), are directed at bringing individualistic industrial moral in accordance with the conditions for survival under the current trend of globalization. Democratic societies of present industrial nations had once also passed through this process. Which is however by no means to justify the lawless style of government practiced by the present regime, but I already wrote about that elsewhere.

>This last phrase ('profiting from the size of the country," etc.) is one I now
>keep hearing again and again, as if Java has given Maluku some great gift by
>"allowing" Ambonese to live in Java while depriving them of the rest of the

No, not "Java has given", because all peoples of Indonesia, Ambonese and Javanese alike, had been given the vision of this right in 1918, when Suryadi Suryaningrat (later known as Ki Hajar Dewantara) spoke of a future unitary Indonesian state at the 10th anniversary of Budi Utomo. They had then all collectively layed claim to this right when in 1927, representatives of all youth organizations of the country, including "Jong Ambon", made a pledge to "one land, one nation, one language". They then fought for this right, when Ambonese, Tidorese, Buginese, Makasarese, Menadonese, Balinese, Madurese, Javanese, Sundanese, Dayaks, Malays, Minangkabaus, Bataks, Achehnese, etc., etc. recruited themselves to the defence of independent Indonesia, proclaimed by Sukarno in 1945.

Why do you think, that the stiffest and most massive resistance and opposition against the present government is coming from Javanese? If you go through the list of political prioners, you'll find members of Java ethnicities (Javanese, Sundanese, Jakartans) over-represented. Not Moluccans. Any attempt at fragmentation of a unitary Indonesian pro-democracy opposition coalition (including your wish to extract critical Moluccans from it) is in fact playing into the hands of the "Jakarta Bapaks" you profess to be fighting against.

>Your understanding of the mechanics of nationhood, etc., seems to assume that
>because there were/are Ambonese in the Indonesian military the Moluccan
>identity has been absorbed

Not in the least. I am merely stressing that it isn't a Javanese republic, but a multi-ethnic one, in which Ambonese, like all the other peoples of the country, are involved. Also in the military.

>> And Ambon
>> can export to the whole archipelago without facing tarif barriers.
>Is this supposed to be some kind of feather in Indonesia's cap after taking so
>much from Ambon?  And what Moluccans are now free to export their cloves where
>they want to?  I contend that if Moluccans were truly free they would now be

Read what I wrote once more. I didn't say free to export, but to export WITHOUT TARIF BARRIERS. Or have you never heard of import taxes, import quotas, etc.? Why do you think were the Europeans so keen on setting up the Common Market? Why are the ASEAN countries doing the same? What incentives could Canada and Mexico have in joining NAFTA? The Ambonese and other Moluccans already enjoy the benefits of a common market, the size of whole Indonesia. No Javanese or other import tarifs and import quotas to worry about.

>Sorry, Waruno, you lose again!

:-) Who you think you're kidding.

* Correction: In the original I mistakenly wrote "Republic", which is historically incorrect.

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