Daily Archives: 7 June 2004

Origin of the Name "Indonesia"

The term “Indonesia” was first used in 1850 by the British anthropologist J. R. Logan to designate islands called the “Indian Archipelago” by other Western writers. For Logan, “Indonesia” did not designate a political unit but a cultural zone that included the Philippines. The forebears of today’s Indonesians had no term for the region or concept of a single political unit linking communities across seas. From ancient times Java had been known by that single name, but most of Indonesia’s islands derive their names from European labeling. Early European traders at the port of Samudera named the entire island Sumatra, and visitors to the sultanate of Brunei called the whole island Borneo.

The Dutch named their colonial possessions Indië (the Indies). Initially the Indies meant Java and a few ports scattered across the archipelago. Between 1850 and 1914 Dutch power engulfed over three hundred separate sultanates and communities, and welded them into a single administrative unit called the “Netherlands Indies.” Subjects were called “Natives,” a legal category alongside “Europeans” and “Foreign Orientals” (local Chinese and Arabs), replacing the terms “Moor,” “Christian,” and “Heathen” used in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Associations in the early years of the twentieth century identified themselves by geography and generation, such as “League of Sumatran Youth” and “Ambonese Youth.” As ideological identities developed, parties took the colonial unit as their geographic marker but opted for Logan’s “Indonesia” instead of the Dutch “Indies.” The first to do so was the Communist Party of Indonesia, founded in 1921. Opponents of the Dutch understood “Indonesia” as both a political and a cultural entity; they adopted as a common language a variant of Malay spoken in Sumatra, already widely used as a lingua franca, and called it the “Indonesian language” (Bahasa Indonesia). The political unit they eventually won was the Dutch colony stretching from Sabang Island off northern Sumatra to Merauke on the border with Papua New Guinea, but many wanted the cultural definition of “Indonesia”–Islamic and Malay-speaking–translated into a state that would include Malaya, southern Thailand, the southern Philippines, all of Borneo, and Portuguese East Timor.

Following independence Indonesian place-names were substituted for the Dutch. Batavia became Djakarta; Buitenzorg, Bogor; and Borneo, Kalimantan. Indonesian spelling was revised in 1972, making Djakarta Jakarta and Atjeh Aceh. In this book Indonesia designates the state established by Sukarno on 17 August 1945; for the period before 1945, it is used as a shorthand for the islands constituting today’s republic.

SOURCE: The Emergence of Modern Southeast Asia: A New History, edited by Norman G. Owen (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2005)

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USINDO Presidential Election Countdown

Here’s the U.S.-Indonesia Society’s latest report on the upcoming presidential elections in Indonesia.

Five slates of candidates were formally approved by the National Election Commission (KPU) to compete in the July 5 Presidential Election. The slate of former President Abdurrahman Wahib (PKB) and Marwah Daud Ibrahim of Golkar was not certified, however, because of Gus Dur’s health; he is appealing his disqualification to the courts, although his reclama to the General Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) was denied on May 28.

The five contending presidential tickets are:

  • Megawati Sukarnoputri (PDI-P) and Hasyim Muzadi
  • Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (PD) and Jusuf Kalla
  • Wiranto (Golkar) and Solahuddin Wahid
  • Amien Rais (PAN) and Siswono Yudhohusodo
  • Hamzah Haz (PPP) and Agum Gumelar

Tracking Poll Favors SBY

A tracking survey issued by the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) on May 31 assessed the popularity of the main candidates, based on face-to-face interviews with 1250 respondents throughout the 32 provinces of Indonesia. Although this survey included potential candidates other than in the above approved slates, the top contenders scored as follows:

41.0% Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY)

11.2% Megawati Sukarnoputri

10.0% Wiranto

 4.4% Amien Rais

 3.0% Hamzah Haz

SBY emerged as the top choice in all regions of the country except for Sulawesi, where Wiranto obtained 35% support in contrast to 29% for Yudhoyono. SBY was also the top choice of both men and women, as well as all age groups. As IFES observes, only in the 55 and above age group is another candidate, Megawati, close to SBY with 19% support compared to 21% who support Yudhoyono. [Comment: Since other than the top candidates were included in this poll, and political party alignments have shifted since the survey was taken, we would caution that the above results are only relative and general indications of popular support.]

Relative Strengths and Weaknesses

As assessed by the Jakarta consulting firm of Van Zorge and Heffernan, the relative strengths of the presidential candidates can be summarized as follows:

  • Susilo Bambang Yudohyono: Strong momentum, clean image, attractive to secular voters, running mate Jusuf Kalla is an asset in eastern Indonesia, seemingly popular among armed forces dependents; the main debits is the lack of a strong campaign organization.
  • Megawati Sukarnoputri: Loyal PDI-P constituency, value of incumbency, running mate Hasyim Muzadi can attract NU-PKB voters; main weaknesses are lackluster performance as President and declining public image.
  • Wiranto: Golkar organizational support and financing, strong campaign team, former military and dependents’ support, media and public presence, running mate Solahuddin Wahid could pick up NU-PKB votes; principal debit is anti-militarism and allegations of past, mainly domestic, human rights abuses.
  • Amien Rais: Strong campaign team and media friendliness, loyal Muhammadiyah following, “clean” pro-reform image; minus factors are low drawing power of running mate Siswono and Rais’ erratic reputation.
  • Hamzah Haz: Loyal backing of traditional PPP voters; downsides: poor public image and running mate has no significant public following.

[Note: For further analysis, please refer to the biweekly Van Zorge Report at www.vanzorgereport.com, or call (62-21) 3190-3939 in Jakarta.]

Campaign Nuggets:

  • Golkar and the National Awakening Party (PKB), affiliated with the NU, have signed an electoral compact to support General Wiranto and Solahuddin Wahid, brother of former President Abdurrahman Wahid (“Gus Dur”). Although the PKB’s institutional weight will be behind the Wiranto team, uniform support of NU and PKB followers cannot be assured because NU chair Hasyim Muzadi is running with President Megawati and some may support the SBY-Kalla ticket.
  • Five minor parties have wheeled in behind National Mandate Party (PAN) candidate Amien Rais. The Marhaenism National Party, Freedom Bull National Party (PNBK), United Indonesia Party (PSI), Socialist Democratic Labor Party (PBSD) and Reform Star Party (PBR) have declared their support for the Rais-Siswono ticket. The Reform Star Party won 13 seats in the April 5 legislative election and two other of the small parties garnered one seat each. Observers do not believe that their endorsement will translate into a significant number of votes.

This is the fifth year since Indonesia began implementing comprehensive political and economic reforms in response to the onset of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and a leadership change that occurred in 1998. Indonesia is simultaneously addressing multiple crises – from terrorism and inter-ethnic, sectarian and separatist violence to endemic corruption and rising poverty.

For more information about Indonesia, the upcoming elections, and relations with the United States, please visit www.usindo.org; tel: 202 232-1400; fax: 202 232-7300; email: usindo@usindo.org

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