Jakarta Post – Never Miss a Chance to Re-Hab Reds!

Jakarta Post’s Parent Company, Gramedia, engages in public book-burning


The Jakarta Post postures vigorously to appear a champion of democratic values but I’m always curious why it so often engages in nagging on behalf of unrepentant PKI ( the Communist Party of Indonesia) malignants.

 Last week it took the opportunity to resume this pastime, with even their report on the opening of the non-political Ubud Writers’ Festival in Bali affording them the excuse.


=Ramos Horta

Despite the ‘news’ item being about the festival, they gave plenty of space to a ‘sidelines’ outburst by Ramos Horta of East Timor, who incredibly described the notorious Pramoedya Ananta Toer,  an eager and willing ally of the PKI, in glowing terms.

“I was very fortunate to meet Pramoedya in New York more than 10 years ago, when he was allowed to finally leave Indonesia…Pramoedya belongs to the generation that was so victimized after 1949.

Huh? 1949?

The old red was actively and openly up to his neck in fellow-travelling activity until 1965 (except for a brief spell inside when he upset Soekarno in 1960 or 61). It was ’65 when his collaboration caught up with him. I think that’s what Horta was on about when he continued –

So many Indonesian journalists, writers, intellectuals, fell as victims of that period of time in Indonesian history. He was jailed and forbidden to spread his wisdom and beautiful writings. http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/10/04/ninth-ubud-writers-and-readers-festival-kicks.html

If you have read his work, and I’ve read enough of it, you might think boring would be a better word than beautiful! 

But that’s a matter of opinion.

You’d have thought the JP would try to balance Ramos Horta’s opinion with a more realistic appraisal of the Red, especially when R-H strayed from literary observations into this next shocking assertion – Pramoedya is more than an author, he is a fighter for freedom and democracy in Indonesia,” he said.

Actually, he isn’t anything – he’s dead. But when he was in his hey-day, he was anything BUT a fighter for freedom and democracy in Indonesia.

I’ve referred readers to Tempo, issue May 16-22, 2006 before, but must once more do so, for it covers the evil old Red’s career rather well and explains why some 25 “prominent literary figures and cultural observers” put their distinguished names to a formal submission to the Magsaysay Award Committee in 1995, protesting at that body’s decision to give Pramoedya an award.


Pramoedya the Red


Their reasons were simply stated, viz his unethical role during one of the darkest periods for creativity during the Guided Democracy era, when he led the persecution of artists and literary figures who disagreed with him. (this protest is air-brushed out of most Western references nowadays, though a brief mention is to be found in an otherwise slavishly pro-Pram article in the Economist http://www.economist.com/node/168819 )

Useful quotes to refresh your memories.

Pramoedya ( April 1964 Bintang Timur) 

if literary scholars do not want to be left behind by political developments, then they should be active in the people’s struggle and revolution.

Pramoedya was a leader of Lekra (Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat/Institute of People’s Culture)an aggressive wing of the PKI.




He talked of the people’s struggle not in any sense of real people struggling against real tyranny, like the anti-communist Berliners in 1953, or the Hungarian people in 1956, but in terms of the elite cadres of the PKI seeking to enslave the workers and peasants of Indonesia.

===========He was just parroting the ignorant party line, enunciated by PKI high-level commissar Nyoto    it is about time to end the debate on whether or not culture is politics, because whoever claims that culture is apolitical is truly a reactionary.

The Tempo article also tells us what the PKI and Gramedia have in common. Some TWO MILLION BOOKS were burned, because of their “counter-revolutionary” character and that Lekra was also influential in campaigning to destroy independent publishers, such as the one that dared to deliver “Dr Zhivago”, plus Islamic publishers too

So now we know where Gramedia, the Jakarta Post’s parent company, may have got its inspiration for the book-burning it publicly organised in Jakarta barely a year ago.

Communists back then, Islamists this year – book-burners never change their spots!



The JP’s reputation as a’champion of tolerance’ was shredded when its editors failed to condemn this wicked nazi/communist style outrage.


Pramoedya (on non-communist supporters of the Cultural Manifesto, of October 1963) –  their annihilation, like it or not, must be organized.

Pramoedya – the annihilation of the enemies of the Revolution must be carried out because the masses must be taught to differentiate who are friends and who are enemies of the Revolution.

That’s it, Your Arrogance, you talk down to the ‘masses,’ who must be taught what to think, from your ‘intellectual’ ivory-tower.

But plenty of decent Indonesians recall what he was like in real life.

Taufiq Ismail – not only did he never apologise for all the violations of human rights that he was responsible for, he was not even willing to admit his actions.”

W.S. Rendra –  I am not slandering when I say that Pramoedya as the head of the LEKRA never protested nor opposed the burning of these books.

So either that Timorese never really grasped the evil essence of the man he praised or he’s playing the Communist game himself, eulogising a blood-thirsty culture thug.


Meanwhile, the JP never seems to miss a chance to prattle on behalf of those who actively collaborated with the book-burning traitors of the PKI.

And I’m waiting for, and would be delighted to report on, some correction to my so far unsuccessful attempts to find any condemnation of Gramedia’s contemptible conflagration in the opinion sections of that sorry newspaper.

Decent Indonesians did speak up, and the JP reported that http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/06/14/gramedia-burns-books-defaming-prophet.html  but where were their thundering editorials?