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Date: Mon, 28 Apr 97 15:07:41 CDT
From: rich%pencil@VM.MARIST.EDU (Rich Winkel)
Subject: Aditjondro: Oz: Education Minister sends Censorship Signal
/** reg.easttimor: 467.1 **/
** Written 8:24 AM Apr 25, 1997 by aditjond@psychology.newcastle.edu.au in cdp:reg.easttimor **

Minister sends censorship signal

Is the Victorian Government preparing to apply its own standards of political correctness to universities?

By George Aditjondro,
in The Australian, Higher Education Supplement
23 April 1997, p. 34

The pro-Suharto lobby in Australia, can add one more important figure as a recruits -- the Victorian Minister for Tertiary Education and Training, Phil Honeywood, who told journalists in Jakarta last week that Dr Arief Budiman's appointment to the University of Melbourne's foundation chair of Indonesian studies "should be investigated."

Honeywood expressed concern that the university was being used to create a "safe haven" for critics of the Suharto regime.

It shocked me to see this deplorable attempt by an Australian State government minister to placate the decaying oligarchy in Jakarta not only by threatening to intervene in an university's recruitment system, but also in apparently attempting to determine what it is politically correct to teach, to research and to debat on campus. The statement sends a signal that the State might consider censoring the university's curriculum and curtail academic freedom.

The appointments entrusts Budiman the co-ordination and planning of this new inter-disciplinary course. This involves, I assume, suggesting what is going to be taught, who is to teach it, the aim of the entire pedagogical enterprise, what research on Indonesian matters will be carried out and who will be invited as guest speakers.

None of these tasks will be new to Budiman, with whom I collaborated at Satya Wacana Christian University in Salatiga, Central Java, for five years until we were sacked in 1994.

Budiman had invited me to join the postgraduate program in development studies that he had introduced at Satya Wacana while I was still finishing my PhD at Cornell University.

Although he has been a consistent critic of President Suharto regime, who we ironically helped to bring into power in 1966, he cooperated with all schools of thought on our campus.

Diehard capitalists and diehard supporters of Indonesia's occupation of East Timor could debate openly in our program's monthly seminar, with hard-core socialists, such as Budiman and pro-East Timor advocates such as myself.

In 1993 we formed a joint enterprise with Sydney University, the contemporary Indonesia program, which Budiman and Dr Michael van Langenberg from Sydney coordinated. Unfortunately, the program was only able to run two one-month seminars for Australian students and other overseas students in February and July 1994.

In October that year, Budiman was sacked by Satya Wacana's board because of his opposition to the new rector ( equivalent of vice chancellor) whom it had appointed against the wishes of the majority of Senate members.

His dismissal spontaneously triggered a local "pro-democracy movement" on the campus. Budiman sued the university's board and rector at the Administrative Court in Central Java and, amazingly, won the case.

Still the university refused to re-install him.

I was briefly involved in Satya Wacana's pro-democracy movement, but had to pull out the next year: I had my own troubles to deal with. The Indonesian authorities had prepared a kangaroo court to muzzle my opposition to the occupation of East Timor and Suharto's nepotistism.

In February 1995, Murdoch University provided me with a temporary safe haven, before I could get a more permanent position at Newcastle University.

While at Murdoch, I learned that 50 more Satya Wacana lecturers had been sacked. Our dream to make the university a liberal intellectual oasis in the middle of a barren authoritarian nation-state was overturned.

It will be a privilege for Melbourne University and the Australian academic community in general, to have Arief in our midst.

Appointing highly qualified Indonesian and other dissidents in Australia should not simply be seen as acts of benevolence and charity. These academics may help broaden the university curriculums by providing a less Eurocentric perspective, thereby enhancing Australia's academic leadership in Asia, Pacific and the Indian Ocean rim.

Dr George J. Aditjondro teaches sociology and anthropology at Newcastle University.