The Trisakti Tragedy: 10 years later

It's been exactly ten years today since the Trisakti tragedy took place in Indonesia and the last  remaining foundations of Suharto's 30 year rule started crumbling down. During the month of May in 1998, student demonstrations against Suharto were organised everywhere and several incidents occurred on campuses all over the Indonesian archipelago. But the events on May 12 at Trisakti university shocked many and directly led to the fall of Suharto nine days later. On Tuesday May 12, at around 10.30, thousands of students gathered for a peaceful demonstration on the campus of…Read more …

Suharto and a former PM of Australia

A lot has been said about Suharto's legacy in the weeks before and the week after his death. Those who think highly of him point to his economic successes and his achievements in poverty alleviation. His critics of course refer to his human rights record: the killing of more than half a million in the aftermath of the 30 September movement, his invasion of East Timor and the political repression during his 32 year rule. In the reactions to his dead in Australia the second version of Suharto's legacy clearly was the dominant…Read more …

Student protests and the rise and fall of Suharto

At the age of 86, Suharto, the former president of the republic of Indonesia has died. Suharto has been in Pertamina hospital since the 4th of January and passed away today at 1.10 PM local time. A week ago, University World News published an article I wrote on the role of student protests in the rise and fall of Suharto. Here is a slightly revised version of the article. For most, Suharto's name is inextricably connected with corruption, collusion and nepotism. Only few will remember him as Bapak Pembangunan (the father of development,…Read more …

Authoritarianism or Participation? That’s the Question!

Is China proving that developing countries are better off under an authoritarian regime that focuses on developing the economy, rather than under a democratic regime that gives emphasis to political participation? It's the question posed by Randall Peerenboom from UCLA in his new book China Modernizes: Threat to the West or Model for the Rest? He tries to answer the question by exploring China's economy, its political and legal system, and its record on civil, political and personal rights. Peerenboom's answer is "yes". At the forum of the Far Eastern Economic Review, Nicholas…Read more …

Jakarta Post article

The Jakarta Post published a short op-ed article I wrote on higher education funding in Indonesia. They titled it Inequality in Indonesian higher education a real threat (registration required; click here for the pdf version). It is mainly based on a previous post I wrote on the topic, although the blog post has some extra graphs in it.Read more …

Asian Godfathers: Collusion of Business & Politics

Another book to add to my ‘to-read-list’: Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Newsweek has an article by the author of the book, Joe Studwell. Studwell had expected that the Asian crisis ten years ago would trigger the transition from crony capitalism to a market free of manipulation by bureaucrats and politicians. After the research for his book, he concludes that he was wrong: The architecture of the Southeast Asian economy remains what it was 10 and 50 and 100 years ago. The domestic economies of Hong Kong,…Read more …

Higher Education Funding in Indonesia

The Jakarta Post reported that the Indonesian Director General for Higher Education, Satryo Soemantri Brodjonegoro would increase the subsidies for universities. The government would disburse a Rp 13.5 trillion (US$1.5 billion) fund next year to subsidize costs at state-run and private universities. Good news for Indonesian higher education? Of course, every extra dollar or rupiah is welcome. But...He admitted that the increase would not cover education costs for university students. "The amount is too small to meet the demands of poor families who want to have access to higher education," he said. In…Read more …

Indonesia Too Democratic?

Can a country be too democratic? Vice President of Indonesia, Jusuf Kalla, thinks it can be. The Jakarta Post reports on his visit to China, and it seems like Kalla is quite impressed by what is going on in China. If only Indonesia was a bit less democratic they would be able to make the same progress as China is making."China's strength is that it can plan and implement. Our system, which is too democratic with too much individual freedom that often disregards the rights of others, has made it difficult for us…Read more …

Travel report

Here, somewhere between Los Angeles and Sydney, I decided it's time to resume posting again. I'm returning from a very long and interesting trip through Indonesia, Malaysia, India, the Netherlands, Portugal, Canada and the US. In three of the countries I have conducted interviews for my research: Indonesia (at Institut Teknologi Bandung and Universitas Gadjah Mada), Malaysia (Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Malaya) and the Netherlands (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen and Technische Universiteit Delft).My research analyses the way in which nation states and universities respond to the increasing importance of knowledge for economic development and…Read more …

All in 1 week

In the past week, three remarkable men have passed away. The best writer of all times, one of the most innovative artists of all times and one of the most influential economists of all times.Pramoedya Ananta Toer (1925-2006) passed away last Sunday (30 April).For me, his numerous books, short stories and essays are the most remarkable works I have ever read. Both his use of language and his choice of topics make that his books and stories portray a lively picture of Indonesian societies and cultures. Toer brought history to live, from the…Read more …

Pak Pram’s new book

The IHT has an article on one of the greatest writers of our time: Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Toer (a.k.a. Pak Pram) is probably best known for his Buru Quartet, named after the island Buru where he was imprisoned while he wrote the book. It consists of four books telling the saga of the first stirrings of Indonesian nationalism seen through the eyes of a young Javanese student. The books are This Earth of Mankind (Bumi Manusia), Child of All Nations (Anak Semua Bangsa), Footsteps (Jejak Langkah), and House of Glass (Rumah Kaca). I…Read more …