Indonesia: Ethnic Warfare


July 9, 2007: A new defense agreement with Singapore is dredging up old animosities, and causing popular demands that the agreement to amended. Basically, the treaty allows Singaporean troops to train in Indonesian training areas. Singapore has a population of only 4.5 million, crammed onto only 704 square kilometers. There's no space for military training areas, and Singaporean forces travel as far as North America to train.

Singapore is the wealthiest nation in the region (over $32,000 per capita GDP, about the same as Australia.) While the Indonesians resent the wealthy Australians, for being foreign (European) interlopers, they have a similar attitude towards Singapore. That's because most Singaporeans are ethnic Chinese. For over a thousand years, Chinese merchants have settled throughout Southeast Asia, and prospered. Although there has been some intermarriage, many of the "Overseas Chinese" communities maintain the Chinese language and customs. Superior Chinese culture and all that. The usual story. This is resented by the locals (be they Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Filipino, well, you get the picture.) The Indonesians believe, with some justification, that the Chinese look down on them, and exploit them. The Chinese are more ambitious and work harder, and smarter, and the locals often respond by persecuting their Chinese minority. Indonesia has a GDP of only $4,600 (one seventh of Singapore or Australia). Indonesia believes Singapore, in particular (because of about four million Indonesians of Chinese ancestry) should do more to help Indonesia become wealthier, and better equipped for combat. The new defense agreement provided Indonesia with one important benefit; extradition of Indonesian criminals who have fled to Singapore. This includes corrupt officials, which Indonesia, per capita, has far more of than Singapore. Meanwhile, Singapore believes it has done its share, and resents being extorted by Indonesian politicians who are merely exploiting racial animosities and stereotypes.

July 7, 2007: Australia has warned its citizens that there may be more Islamic terrorist attacks in the Indonesian island of Bali. Here, the mainly Hindu population runs some of the most popular tourist resorts in the country. These areas have been targets of Islamic terrorism in the past. The Islamic radicals resent the Hindus, and the foreigners the resorts attract.

July 4, 2007: In East Timor, the ruling party, Fretilin, won the national elections, and will try to form a government that does not trigger a resumption of the civil disorder that has brought in the current bunch of peacekeepers.

July 1, 2007: In the Malukus, police arrested 31 people for displaying a separatist Maluku flag when the Indonesian president visited.


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