On Dec. 26, the Kediri Military Command confiscated a number of books on the defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), including Komunisme ala Aidit (Communism a la Aidit), The Missing Link G30S, Siapa Dalang G30S (Who’s Behind G30S) and Kabut G30S (The Mist of G30S).
The books were considered communist propaganda, and their confiscation has prompted various reactions, including from a number of academics.
Hutri Agustino, a teacher at the Social and Political Sciences Department of Muhammadiyah University Malang (UMM), said he deemed the military’s action a joke. “This is the Reform Era, in which we need to put forward educational and literacy traits,” he said in a statement released by the university on Friday. “Civil society needs to be respected through the transparency of public information.”
According to Hutri, the development of literacy in Indonesia must be accompanied by the freedom to acquire books, while educating people on those books could be performed through official institutions. “How would the public know that communism is dangerous when such information is banned?” he added.
Hutri, who also heads Malang’s Public Literacy Movement (GPMB), said Indonesia needed to act fairly in protecting the country from any ideology that might harm the state ideology of Pancasila. He pointed as an example to the banning of Chinese cultural symbols in the New Order, which were viewed as related to communism. “If the country wants to take action against symbols, it should also take note of capitalism in the form of significant products that seem to rule Indonesia,” he said.
Hutri expressed his hope for clear regulations on the banning of ideologies deemed to contradict Pancasila values, as well as government support for a literacy movement.
“Banning books is wrong. In the future, there should be a way for every Indonesian citizen to thoroughly learn about ideologies that might be in conflict with Pancasila,” he said.