How do Indonesians remember Konfrontasi? Indonesia-Malaysia relations and the popular memory of “Confrontation” after the fall of Suharto
ABSTRACT After the fall of Suharto in May 1998, mass rallies yelling anti-Malaysia sentiment have broken out several times in a number of major cities in Indonesia. The rallies were triggered by various conflicting issues involving the two countries. Every time a mass rally against Malaysia happens, memory of “Konfrontasi” is recalled, as is seen in the use of “Ganyang Malaysia” (Crush Malaysia) rhetoric. Whereas during the Suharto era, the narrative of the historical episode of “Konfrontasi” was constructed in the tone of criticising Sukarno’s “Crush Malaysia” campaign as an escape from the internal economic crisis, rather than as an expression of nationalist sentiment. However, as this paper addresses, there is a gap between the “national memory” as is constructed by the history school textbook and “popular memory” as is embodied in the society. Beneath this “popular memory,” as this paper contends, there is a sort of nationalist sentiment in the sense of longing for “national pride” as projected upon the “persona” of Sukarno.
KEYWORDS: “Konfrontasi,” Indonesia-Malaysia relations, national memory, popular memory, nationalist sentiment
BUDIAWAN is currently a lecturer at the Media and Cultural Studies Program, Graduate School of Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He obtained his PhD in Southeast Asian Studies, at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2003.