Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Progress Report to the Ford Foundation

Consultancy Agreement Letter – FAP No. 1019-0022
January 2005

Book Progress

I traveled to Sulawesi in September 2004, visiting Miangas Island in the Talaud Islands as well as 10 other towns which included Manado and Makassar. I combine this book trip with a teaching assignment that I got from the Fajar newspaper group in Makassar. It took me to Makassar and met scores of reporters for four days.

During the book trip, I interviewed around 70 people, ranging from former Permesta rebel leader Ventje Sumual to fishermen in Miangas. But also in Jakarta, I did interview Minahasan leaders to complete my Sulawesi chapter.

My purpose is to get a clear picture about the kind of self-governance that most people in northern Sulawesi try to promote. I also learned about the discrimination that the Muslim minority feel in the predominantly Christian enclave of Minahasa. But the islanders of Sangihe feel the Minahasans are discriminating them. The Talauds, in return, also feel that the Sangihes discriminate the Talauds.

The trip from Manado to Miangas was pretty difficult due to transportation problems. I have to rearrange my schedule to match with the availability of motorboat going from Manado to Miangas. En route, I also visited Lirung, Melonguane, Essang, Beo, and Karatung in language islands of Talaud, as well as Tahuna, the capital of the Sangihe speech groups of island.

I spent almost two months to finish writing my Sulawesi chapter, meaning that it took me three months to do the reporting and the writing of a single chapter. It is longer than my planning of two months.

I spent quite some times to read some basic readings on Minahasa, which include three books:

- Barbara Harvey, Permesta Half a Rebellion, Modern Indonesia Project, Cornell University, Ithaca, 1976;
- David Henley, Nationalism and Regionalism in a Colonial Context: Minahasa in the Dutch East Indie, Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Leiden, 1996;
- Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, Feet to the Fire: CIA Covert Operations in Indonesia, 1957-1958, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 1999.

Don Emmerson of Stanford University also suggested me to use Leo Suryadinata, Evi Nurvidya Arifin, Aris Ananta, Indonesia’s Population: Ethnicity and Religion in a Changing Political Landscape (ISEAS, Singapore, 2003) to enrich my data on ethnicity and religion in Indonesia.

But I also used the reported period to write a part of my Java chapter and another part of my Chinese chapter. I wrote them partly to write a 8,000-word chapter in an anthology about conflict and media in Asia. This book is to be published by the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC) in Singapore. I interviewed some people in Jakarta to write down these parts.

I also decided to scrap my plan to write a chapter on Riau. I think it is simpler to concentrate a chapter on an Indonesian main island only. I have already written a chapter on Aceh that is located in Sumatra. I will update this chapter but not to write another chapter on Sumatra.

I divided the Sulawesi chapter into five parts: (1) Miangas Island; (2) the history of Christianization in Minahasa; (3) Sam Ratulangie’s idea about federalism in Indonesia; (4) The Permesta/PRRI rebellion; (5) Muslim minority and public forum in Manado. I wrote 13,000 words for this chapter. I should rewrite some parts of it to rearrange the flow.

In Desember 2004, after finishing writing my Sulawesi chapter, I went to West Kalimantan, visiting Pontianak, Singkawang, Sui Pinyuh, Pemangkat, Tebas, Jawai, Sambas, Bengkayang and Anjungan, to conduct interviews on the Madurese ethnic cleansing in 1997 and 1999. I also met Chinese people who were surpressed in the anti-Chinese killing in 1967.

I interviewed more than 60 sources during the two-week trip. I used a thesis by Jamie Davidson at Washington University on West Kalimantan as my “travel guide.” I learned how the Madurese were discriminated against by the Malay and the Dayak in West Kalimantan. It climaxed in the 1997-1999 ethnic cleansing. More than 2,000 Madurese settlers were killed, mostly beheaded, and their lands were seized by the Malays. Until today, the Madurese cannot return to Sambas regency.

I also learned more about the 1967 Chinese killing orchestrated by the Indonesian army and the gang of Oevang Oeray, the first governor of Kalimantan, in the aftermath of the 1965 killing of the communists in Java.

Newspaper Articles

I also published some parts of my Minahasa chapter in two separate publications. I published my sub chapter on Miangas Island in Tempo magazine, “Miangas, Nationalism and Isolation” (December 6, 2004), and my sub chapter on Jalan Roda with the Inter Press Service, “Wheel Street’s Public Forum” at www.ipsnews.net on Dec. 11, 2004.

The Tempo story is to appear as the first part of my Sulawesi chapter while the IPS one is to be the end of the chapter. I did that to get feedback and also to get a feeling about what the readers would react to this kind of travelogue.

Initially, Bruce Emonds of The Jakarta Post refused to publish my Miangas piece. He said it was too long (1,800 words). But Yuli Ismartono of Tempo English edition thought that it was okay to publish my piece uncut. Ismartono asked me to write again for Tempo.

I have not written anything on Kalimantan yet when finalizing this report. A 9.0 Richter tremblor rocked the Indian Ocean on Dec. 26, prompting me to return a little earlier to Jakarta to help discuss how the media should cover the earthquake and the tsunami that killed nearly 150,000 people in Asia and Africa.

Aceh in northern Sumatra was hit the worst in the disaster. I also wrote some articles on Aceh for the New Delhi-based Outlook magazine as well as the Colombo-based Sunday Times.


The biggest difficulty is myself, or to be precise, my own discipline. I need to work better and faster. I also tried my best to avoid speaking engagements, which have apparently become a habit among many public speakers in Jakarta.

Despite politely refusing to speak or to teach, still I fulfilled my long promise to speak in a student journalist forum in Bandar Lampung in October 2004. I also went to Colombo, Sri Lanka, in December 2004 to attend a seminar on the AMIC book. But I used this opportunity to also learn from Sri Lanka’s ethnic, religious and language violence. I talked to people in Colombo and bought some books to give me a better understanding about why electoral democracy in Sri Lanka cannot prevent recklessness among the minority Tamil.

I also refrained myself from teaching at the course on narrative reporting that Pantau organizes every semester. It was quite an effort to refrain from the teaching the course that I enjoyed so much since we began this course in 2001 with my colleague, Janet Steele, an associate professor at George Washington University.

But the next difficulty is time frame. I initially planned to spend two months on each chapter. I cannot meet this time frame. It took me three months to finish the Minahasa chapter. The field work was okay with only three weeks. But the writing was much longer. But I consider myself fortunate to be able to secure a writing grant from the Ford Foundation. So I need to work faster. Hopefully, I could finish more chapters faster.

Next Steps

My plan is now to visit the Maluku islands (the latest March 2005), Papua areas (May 2005) and Timor areas (July 2005). I will use the time in between to visit some towns in Java to finalize my Java chapter. I really do hope that I could finish writing the book in late 2005.

Re title of the book, I temporarily think about “Indonesia: Frozen Imagination” or “Indonesia: Forced Imagination.” I indeed play with the phrase “imagined communities” that Benedict Anderson had introduced on nationalism. My book is also about identities, ethnicities, religions and nationalisms.

Financial Reports

The Ford Foundation sent the first disbursement at Rp 62,492,075 on 22 October 2004. I already spent Rp 58 million during the reported period.

Jakarta, 11 January 2005

Andreas Harsono (aharsono@cbn.net.id)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found your trip to Talaud Islands was very interesting. I came from a family who is father orginally from Karatung island. Until today, strong culture breed from my father side is so strong with me. As one of "Anak Bangsa Indonesia" who is currently living outside Indonesia, to read your articles about my home island, has reminded the historical stories to the island.
I would like to say many thanks for your articles mentioning small part history of Talaud Islands to public in Indonesia.