By Khoon Choy Lee
In could 1998, President Suharto stepped down as President of Indonesia. along with his fall, the 3rd biggest kingdom in Asia has plunged into anarchy and political, fiscal and social strife. Racial and spiritual clashes, culminating in riots, burning and chaos, became the order of the day. Fissures within the social cloth are widening and there's genuine threat that this multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural state may perhaps crumble, similar to Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. during this publication, the writer portrays the Indonesian humans, their background and their cultural traditions. He presents insightful analyses and views of the political cave in of Suharto and describes the chance dealing with the rustic. Describing the variety within the background, traditions, customs and cultures of a few of the ethnic teams, he presents an knowing of Indonesia. the writer goals to convey outsider's readability of belief and the journalist-diplomat's adventure of culture and background to the issues and to talk with authority and sensitivity in regards to the demanding situations dealing with an enormous, heterogeneous state that contains 336 ethnic teams talking 250 dialects.
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Nor do I shy away from prying into purely personal relationship. I have deliberately tried to give an account of what I saw or heard in a journalistic style. I realise that the specialists who read my book may discover certain defects. To some extent this is inevitable. Indonesia is the third largest country in Asia, only smaller than China and India. It is resource-rich. It has large reserves of natural gas, oil, timber, rubber, coffee and other products. It does not need a super genius to run the country.
P65 6 08/11/2000, 10:24 AM I N T R O D U C T I O N 7 I was made to realise that to understand Indonesia, one must understand Javanese mysticism. An elite of perhaps 2,000 men manipulate Indonesia’s politics. Many of them are abangans or nominal Muslims who are Muslims and yet not entirely Muslims with their own beliefs. Unlike orthodox Muslims referred to as santris who believe only in Mohammed and Allah (God), these abangans believe in kebatinan, that is, the spirits which dwell in the kris; they believe in the existence of Semar, the guardian spirit of Java; predictions of Joyoboyo; and Lara Kidul, the Queen of the Indonesian Ocean.
I have a special chapter on the Chinese. 5 million — about three percent of the total population and more than double the population of Singapore. This chapter explains why Indonesians are anti-Chinese, the impact of the economic measures taken by Chinese cukongs (economic masters behind the scene) who have aroused feelings of hatred among the other Indonesians. I also discuss the problem of loyalty of the Chinese, their language and cultures. Through the centuries, the Chinese have built up a distribution network that is not easy to replace.
A Fragile Nation: The Indonesian Crisis by Khoon Choy Lee