Australian perspectives on Indonesian: a case of white supremacy?

It has almost been a month overdue for Andrew Chan’s and Myuran Sukumaran’s execution date and the Indonesian officials are yet to put the two drug convicted in front of firing squad. Indeed, controversy over the decision to put the two criminals under capital punishment has been circulating around the world, with many figures condemning the decisions. From Julie Bishop to Richard Branson, the decision to end Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan’s life for a drug offence in a nation struggling with at least 4.5 million users facing rehabilitation (that is more than the population of New Zealand) and 40 to 50 young people die every day due to the same reason are seen controversial and is yet to be implemented.

Despite of Joko Widodo’s promise to not give clemency to the two convicted for whatever reason, earlier this month, the president himself has commanded the attorney general to listen and consider Australia’s requests. A (what seems somehow) more of a hypocritical move rather than humane move.

barbarian As I’ve already wrote on my previous post, I myself see capital punishment as a useless non-solution to any criminal problem, but I respect the constitution of my own country. It is like having to be an American, they don’t necessarily have to agree with the republican, but they (like it or not) have to accept the republican (no matter how stupid their views on the climate change are) for being part of their country.

Now I don’t want to discuss much whether the capital punishment is justified or not, you can read my opinion regarding this matter on my previous post. I just want to talk about a possible cultural perspectives that are clashing here, and that whether it is relevant to the drama that is still going on.

An oxford Phd candidate has recently posted on The Conversation, questioning the method of research regarding the data that the president is using and questioning its merit on using a questionable data to back up an execution of a convicted criminals. While her accusation is valid, I feel that this is a bit offensive and cocky at her side to see us as the fool, let alone incompetent in gathering our own data.

Though I have to admit, Indonesian are sometimes dodgy at these kind of things. I am no expert in this matter, but to arrive at that assumption without ever getting in touch with the people who are gathering the data seem a bit too arrogant for me. Granted that she is a PhD candidate at oxford, but it is still offensive for me.

The blog post is a dignified version of other critics towards the case. Others has criticises Indonesia as being primitive and inhuman. I’ll admit that in a western culture, which by the way at the past did some even worst thing to us Indonesian (and other culture) during the colonialism, this has increasingly seen as a taboo things to do. The thing is, Indonesian does not fall into that category. Our culture differ vastly from those that the westerners have and as an independent country, we have every rights to cultivate it.

It is so “white” in a way, when Australia and other countries criticise us of doing that and accusing us of being primitive using their personal cultural point of view without considering the Indonesian culture point of views. It is becoming a case of white supremacy for me, and possibly a cultural colonisation, when they are forcing their view on a matter that is related to our society and every aspect of its society including culture.

The idea of “civilised” society that they are using, is (for me) very western and is unfair to other global society. To interfere with other country’s justice process based on that view can be seen as political interference.

Granted that both Sukumaran and Chan are from Australia, but again I should say that they enter this country voluntarily and it is their responsibility to respect the country’s law and its consequences. If I were to enter Australia and to do some sort of offenses to their law, I also has to follow the appropriate law procedure accordingly. And despite of what the public say, the asylum seeker case has proven that Australian government will not care.

What I ultimately want to say, despite of my unclear writing, is that before anybody want to comment about the fate of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, they should consider a perspective not only from their cultural point of view but also from our point of view. We are a very young country, and we are still working on our law and even culture. Despite of the many conflicts that we have come across from colonialization through to civil wars, let’s not forget that most countries (including many western countries) went to the same process. Germany with Nazi, U.S. with the Indians (which still goes on) and even Australia with the Aborigines.

The last thing that we need is an alien interference from a side that doesn’t understand our complex society and its problem. The least that they can do is to obey our law when it applies to them. Because when (if) both Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran release will be a triumph for Australian government and other parties, it could mean a turmoil for the current Indonesian government and the loose of confidence against Joko Widodo as a president. The “coin for Australia” movement is evident enough that you can’t reason with most of Indonesian, to force the clemency would lead to an assumption that our president is weak against the west, and that is the last thing that we want.

“We have to constantly critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture because it is normalized by mass media and rendered unproblematic.” – Bell Hooks

P.S. By the way, I was about to post this writing with that ending when I read about two other Australian caught for similar drug offense with one being sentenced to death. Even though he might get away with a life imprisonment if he behave in the first two year. Either way, I think Australia’s bigger problem is not Indonesia (or any other country) giving death sentences to their citizen, their problem is that their citizen cannot obey other countries’ law. In my opinion, they should focus on that instead.


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