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 email@example.com 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
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
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