Raksasa dari Rezim Keropos

OGRE, a man-eating giant, and Dry-Rot Regime are slang names given by Anderson to acknowledge New Order regime under Soeharto (1967-1998).[1] It is called as such because the regime harmed the sacred idea of Indonesia.[2] Where under the authoritarian Soeharto, the idea and spirit of Indonesia lose its significance, and merely becomes a mechanical notion that was taken for granted.[3]

Indeed the idea of Indonesia nationalism, Anderson says, is truly a common project for the present and future involving all its citizenry. In doing so, “its fulfillment will never be completed and must be struggled for in every generation. …The continuity of a nation is fundamentally an open question, and also a kind of wager.”[4]

In his study, Anderson brings up the case of Aceh province[5] dan Irian province[6] as examples of how New Order regime used power to coerce the countrymen, and acted as a colonizer. Before Soeharto era, no Acehnese ever had an aspiration of independent. In fact, during the revolution era, Aceh provided enormous contribution to Indonesia in term of manpower and economic-financial resources. In 1970s Aceh was peaceful and wealthy under civilian governor. Terribly, at the end of the next decade Aceh turned into a horror field of Military Operation Zone. Thus, ever since the terminology of Freedom Aceh Movement became popular among the Acehnese.[7]

“The outstanding greed of the rulers in Jakarta, and of their provincial minions and errand-boys, as well as the replacement of local-son civilian rule by the military, originating very often from Java, increasingly seemed to say to the Acehnese: We don’t need you; what we need are your natural resources. How wonderful it would be if Aceh were emptied of Acehnese.[8]

Meanwhile in Irian, people have been alienated from the development of their own land. “The people of Irian were never seriously invited into the common project, so it is only natural that they quickly began to feel that were being colonized,” Anderson says, and adds, “There still seems to be Indonesian who think that colonialism can only be practiced by Westerner over non-Westerner.”[9]

Anderson remarks how New Order regime occupied East Timor, former Portuguese colony, in 1975 in the name of common project, which is Indonesia; and reflects on it as a good lesson from the “splendid Dutch colonial ancestor”. As the prelude result of annexation in East Timor, only in five years, Anderson says, “about one third of the entire population died unnaturally—killed by the gunfire, burned by the napalm, starved to death in ‘resettlement camps’, or the victims of contagious disease which spread rapidly under inhuman occupation condition. Torture became standard operating procedure, to say nothing of rape and executions.” [10]

In his previous study on Indonesia, Anderson says, similar to Dutch colonial which has utilized the Netherlands Indies’ Army or Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indisch Leger (K.N.I.L.) to control the colonized people; when it is in power, New Order regime also developed its military machinery to control and silent the people for it’s sake.[11]

Ali Moertopo, one of Soeharto loyal intelligent aides and on of the architects of New Order political framework, when introducing the concept of dual function system, stressed, “therefore the Indonesian armed forces are not only a professional army for the purpose of maintaining national defense and security, but are also a social force.”[12] The system later became a legal approach for Soeharto to place his loyalist military men into many of mass organization and political parties in order to control civil society. He himself interpreted Pancasila, the national basic values invented by Founding Fathers, as a norm where oppositions, and so differences, and diversities in politics are not allowed.[13]

In 1973 New Order regime minimize the number of political parties, from ten political parties in 1971 Election to only three political parties. Nine political parties were shorted of to merge based on similarity in some senses. Five Islamic parties merged and became Partai Persatuan Pembangunan or the United Development Party (P.P.P), while two Christian parties and two nationalist parties fused became Partai Demokrasi Indonesia or the Indonesian Democratic Party (P.D.I.). In other hand, Golongan Karya or the Functional Groups remains as a ruling party, and always won the election under New Order regime.

Even there were three political parties; Indonesia has only one effective party in its political system. Both of P.P.P. and P.D.I. served only as accessories and played only minor roles in political system, for not to mention in fact that both of those party were worthless.

It means that somehow New Order regime have turned to be a totalitarian country, where there is only one political party exist and serve as a control machinery for all aspect of life. In his book, Arendt says, “the goal of one party system is not only to seize the government and administration position, but, by filling all offices with party members, to achieve a complete amalgamation of state and party, so that after seizure of power the party becomes a kind of propaganda organization for the government.”[14]

According to Anderson, New Order regime is best understood as the revitalization of the state and its triumph vis-à-vis society and nation. The triumph of New Order based on “physical annihilation of P.K.I. and it allies, the suppression of popular movement, sweeping purges of the state apparatus, and the removal of President Sukarno as an effective political force—all achieved between October 1965 and April 1966.”[15]


[1] Anderson (1999).
[2] Studies on characteristic of Soeharto’s New Order as an authoritarian regime with its ideology of uniformity and stability ran by its military machinery can be seen in many studies, for instance in Heryanto, Ariel. (2006). State Terrorism and Political Identity in Indonesia: Fatally Belonging. London and New York: Routledge.; Cribb, Robert. (1999) Nation: Making Indonesia. In Donald K. Emmerson (Ed.) Indonesia Beyond Suharto: Polity, Economy, Society, Transition. New York: Asia Society.; Crouch, Harold. (1988). The Army and Politics in Indonesia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.; Liddle, R. William. (1996). Indonesia: Suharto’s Tightening Grip. Journal of Democracy, Vol. 7, No. 4, October 1996.
Study in the tip of Soeharto’s era can be seen in Baker, Richard W., Soesastro, M. Hadi, Kristiadi, J. & Ramage Douglas E (Eds.). (1999). Indonesia, the Challenge and Change. The Netherlandss: KITLV Press and Singapore: ISEAS.
[3] See a compilation of selected issues and writings from the beginning of the New Order to its last days in Bourchier, David and Hadiz, Vedi R. (Eds). (2003). Indonesian Politics and Society, a Reader. London and New York: Routledge Curzon.
[4] Anderson, (1999).
[5] After long dispute and conflict with New Order’ military machinary, Aceh found its news status as a truly special province following Helsinki Agreement signed with Indonesian government in August 2005. Irwandi Yusuf, a former officer of Freedom Aceh Movement (G.A.M.), won the first direct election for governor in Aceh, December 2006.
[6] After the fall of Soeharto in order to fulfill the principle of decentralization, Irian province has been administered into two provinces, Irian Jaya Barat and Papua.
[7] Anderson compares the Freedom Aceh Movement rebellion with the rebellion led by Daud Beureueh in 1950s to change the policy of central government in Jakarta.
[8] Anderson (1999).
[9] Ibid (1999).
[10] Several studies show that the annexation of East Timor cannot be separated from the great dynamic of Cold War as it is also considered as the great mystery behind the operation of toppling down Sukarno. In August 1999, Indonesian government under President BJ Habibie conducted a referendum for East Timorese. As a result, more than 78 percent of Timorese demanded independent.
[11] Anderson, Benedict R. O’G., “Old State, New Society: Indonesia’s New Order in Comparative Historical Perspective,” The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 42, No. 3, May 1983.
[12] Bourchier and Hadiz, p. 35.
[13] Ibid, p. 38. In a historical speech in front of the Interim People’s representative Council on August 1967, Soeharto, argued that “It is therefore clear that the president as the head of government and the People’s Consultative Assembly as his institutional overseer, must work together on a daily basis accord with the 1945 Constitution. Indeed opposition groups found in liberal democracies are unknown in the life of Pancasila democracy.”
[14] Arendt, Hannah. (1994). The Origin of Totalitarianism. San Diego, New York, London: A Harvest Book.
[15] Anderson (1983).

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Born in Medan, lives in Jakarta, loves Indonesia.

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