Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Practicum, MM on Indonesia and OH!

Last Thursday, I had my first practicum. I was rather prepared mentally, but my worries were about my lesson plan, realia and props. I spent sooooooo many hours to prepare them for the previous few days. In the morning of the day, I was still not sure as to how I could conduct the class.

It was not too bad after all. Perhaps my experience of teaching helped in Japan. After I started the class, my director, looking at the materials I had prepared, was sending me an OK sign. I was relieved a great deal. And Buddy (photo) helped me a lot! Thanks Buddy, you’re a very nice chap!!

Today, I attended a workshop with the next batch of people because I missed the last one for the visa-related reason I had already described. The director said that she would video-record my second practicum, which should mean my performance can be an example for others. She asked me to bring my materials to the next week’s workshop. A delightful surprise. In addition, I was asked to do a short Japanese lesson at the next workshop in order for the participants to experience what beginners go through, i.e. putting them in a situation where they don’t understand the language they are supposed to learn.

[Suharto] did not mention East Timor, which Indonesia was to occupy two weeks later. It was a good meeting…

But three months later, because Singapore abstained in a vote at the United Nations on Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor, a second chill descended on our relations. Other Asean members had voted with Indonesia. Indonesia’s army leaders boycotted our receptions in Jakarta for Singapore Armed Forces Day and National Day. Our counsellor in Jakarta reported that several generals said Suharto had been more angered than over the hanging of the two marines. (p. 304)

… [In November 1976] I agreed to provide [President Suharto], unofficially, with our trade statistics to help them curtail “smuggling”, but asked that they should not be made public. He wanted these trade figures to be published. I explained that as our statistical classifications were different from theirs, publication would cause more misunderstanding… (pp. 304-305)


Although our meeting went well, our ambassador in Jakarta, Rahim Ishak, warned that Indonesians, both the leaders and the people, viewed Singapore as Chinese. He said Indonesian attitudes to Singapore were inextricably tied up with their feelings towards their Indonesian ethnic Chinese. Singapore, he warned, would be a convenient whipping boy whenever there was discontent in Indonesia. This proved to be prophetic when Indonesia went into crisis in 1998-99. (p. 305)

[Suharto] appointed B.J. Habibie as vice-president because, as he said 48 hours before he resigned, nobody would want Habibie as president. Suharto believed that no one in Indonesia and no foreign power would conspire to remove him if they knew Habibie would then be president. (p. 316)

We knew Habibie well because he had been in charge of Batam’s cooperation with Singapore. He was against the Chinese Indonesians and by extension against Singapore with its Chinese majority. He wanted to treat us as he did his Chinese Indonesian cukong (compradores), to be pressured and milked. (p. 319)

There was more corruption at all levels [under Habibie] than during the worst of the Suharto years. The opportunities for graft were immense because many banks and large companies were insolvent and depended on government rescue schemes, opening them to pressure… The IMF and the World Bank withheld funds for Indonesia until a thorough audit had been made and the wrongdoers punished. Habibie blocked the publication of the auditor’s report on the ground that it breached Indonesia’s banking secrecy rules. The Indonesian media reported that the money had been traced to members of his family. (pp. 322-323)

During the Suharto era, to avoid misunderstanding with the president or his aides, we did not meet Indonesian opposition leaders… During their visits [between January and April 1999], Singapore ministers met the speakers at lunches and dinners to understand and establish rapport. In this way, we got to know Gus Dur (later president), Megawati Sukarnoputri (later vice-president) and Marzuki Darusman of Golkar (later attorney-general in Gus Dur’s cabinet).

This had angered Habibie and his aides who publicly expressed displeasure at our interfering in their internal affairs. (p. 325)

[Gus Dur] invited me to be a member of his international advisory council for Indonesia’s economic recovery, an honour I could not refuse. He talked of ethical standards and clean government. I said if he expected his ministers to be honest, they had to be paid so that they could live up to their status without corruption…

We had an empat mata meeting for an unrestricted discussion. His vitality in spite of his age, two strokes and a hectic morning was reassuring… His demeanour was that of a president in complete command of the situation…

His sense of humour was matched by a realistic appreciation of self. He joked, “The first president of Indonesia [Sukarno] was crazy about women; the second president [Suharto] was crazy about money; the third president [Habibie] was just crazy.” His daughter who accompanied him asked, “What about the fourth president?” Without missing a beat, he said, “Wayang” (a performance, theatre). In one word, he summed up his role in Indonesia. (p. 327)


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