fear of living dangerously
Lane baked in a dry heat on Saturday morning, but I was in Joadja's
garden. It is a narrow space, a sanctuary of cool stillness, cut off
from the neighbours and the lane by high brick walls.
was a good place to hole up with the papers and a six-pack of cider.
Sunlight filtered through the woolybutt, dappling the ferns and fragmenting
the brick paving with shifting pools of light. There was the sound of
water trickling into the pond and the steady, hollow, bock, bock, bock
of a brown-striped marsh frog calling from the water's edge like some
distant, tired, drummer.
dozed off for a few minutes but I was woken by the insistent buzzing
of the mobile phone. I groped for it under the papers and pressed the
familiar voice said "Good morning Tuan Possum, it is I, Tommy,
calling from Jakarta".
I hear from you, it always means trouble", I said. "What's
really happening up there?"
fear we are having a creeping coup. It is the Javanese way of doing
things. My comrades are very worried. Already an Achinese MP has been
murdered and the puppetmasters are creating more of their 'militias'
in West Papua. It is led by thugs of the type like Mr Guterres of Timor.
A few MPs or workers' leaders will be found murdered, nobody will be
caught, but everybody will know it is TNI. There will be some official
stories that it is done by mysterious leftists or Christians or separatists
or even Muslim militants."
thought the edge on his voice would strip the fur off my ears.
each killing, each ethnic massacre, is part of a dialogue. The TNI puppetmasters
are saying: you will do what we want, because we can turn this stuff
on and off just as we like."
old Wahid?" I asked.
is only a nice old cleric -- cosmopolitan, well educated. But unless
he takes part of the army with him, what real power does he have? He
threatens to expose the soldiers and businessman who are formenting
communal strife, but so far he hasn't named them and he doesn't bring
them to justice. Look at Wiranto -- after the Timor report came out
it was most politely suggested he should resign but still he is there.
And even if we could find a court with the guts to find him guilty for
Timor, Wahid says he would pardon him, and even Suharto too. Does this
suggest a man with real power?"
about the threats by the US and the IMF -- the risk of foreign capital
being cut off? The media here is making much of that."
a joke. That is unlikely to frighten TNI because they know that whatever
they do, the US and Japan and the others need them to maintain order
and protect their investments. Perhaps they would go through a brief
time of -- do you say? -- unrespectibility, but they know they would
not long be boycotted and they do not care about suspensions of military
assistance and those things. We are not facing invasion by anybody and
TNI is a police army -- they are already equipped well enough for the
dirty work they do."
went on: "It is all feudal politics, all patronage and influence.
It will stay always with us while we have such big differences of wealth
and power. It is so easy here, while millions are so poor, to find people
who will murder whoever they are told. While the rulers try to keep
a Javanese empire, while we rule so many others, we can never be free."
put faith in her would be a great mistake. She is just another nationalist
ruler. There is not much difference between them. Some learned to talk
out of the left side of the mouth and some out of the right. Megawati
talks mainly out of the left. Even now the Muslim leaders are trying
to make sure she never succeeds Wahid. But I must not talk longer, it
is too dangerous."
after yourself Comrade. Have a Bintang on me", I said. And he hung
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 2000