Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 02:56 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 02:56 | SYDNEY

More on truth and reconciliation in Indonesia


Sam Roggeveen


25 January 2008 11:49

Nick Goodwin responds to Peter McCawley's views on an Indonesian Truth and Reconciliation Commission: 

As I blogged today, former Indonesian President Soeharto is being kept alive by technology, reportedly so he can secure a last minute pardon which would enable his children and their children to enjoy the spoils of Soeharto's plunder of billions.

McCawley asserts that it would waste scarce resources to instigate an Indonesian truth and reconciliation process. This is valid from a short term budgetary point of view - Indonesia has limited resources, much poverty and many urgent and competing interests. But that's not enough here. Think of the trauma caused by the Indonesian killings. It not only causes great suffering but, like any illness, holds a person back from living their fullest and most productive life. When people get treatment for mental illness they can start to move on and return to being productive and happy members of the community. When you do this on a national scale (eg. South Africa), it also sends a message to the broader national and international community which goes something like this..."you can trust us, we are gunna protect you. If someone abuses that trust, we are gunna make it right." People need to feel that security, especially when they elect a government; it's just human.

I agree that any truth and reconciliation process has to be Indonesian-led and run. It shouldn't suffer interference like the important effort by the Cambodians. Yes, there will be a need for donor funds and other assistance, something that our AusAID and universities could show leadership on. The forum started by Ilham Aidit, Amelia Yani and others calling for a truth and reconciliation process shows the importance of the issue to Indonesians. By satisfying their needs for truth and reconciliation, Indonesia's prosperity will be more secure.