Fri, 19 Mar 1999

RI bars Japanese scholar Kunio from entering

JAKARTA (JP): Renowned Japanese scholar Yoshihara Kunio has been refused entry into Indonesia.

He was to enter the country on Sunday, an executive of the Jakarta office of the Kyoto University, Igarashi, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

He said Kunio, a historian, had intended to meet friends in Indonesia, one of a number of stops in Asia, and he was to land at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Sunday on a flight from Bangkok.

But Kunio failed to appear at the airport, and later telephoned Igarashi from Bangkok to say he had landed at Soekarno-Hatta but was told by immigration officials he could not enter the country, for unclear reasons, and had returned to Bangkok.

"I regret the ban (on Kunio's entrance)," Igarashi said. "Things are already safe, why are entry bans still existent?"

Other people that were once banned from entering the country, such as political observer Benedict Anderson, have recently been allowed into Indonesia, Igarashi said.

Kunio, who teaches at the Southeast Asian Studies Center at Kyoto University, he added, was still seeking information on why he was banned from entering Indonesia.

Historian Onghokham, one of the people Kunio was to meet, on Monday said, "The banning could either be caused by red-tape problems or just simply out of stupidity".

The government of former president Soeharto in 1991 banned a translated version of Kunio's 1988 book titled The Rise of Ersatz Capitalism in Southeast Asia (Oxford University Press). The Attorney General's Office then said the book undermined Soeharto's credibility.

On Thursday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice's Directorate General of Immigration, Mursanudin A. Ghani, said he had no detailed information concerning the refused entry.

"By procedure, if one is barred from entering, it must be because a government institution ordered it... it could be from the Armed Forces or the Attorney General's Office," he said.

Recently, Minister of Information Muhammad Yunus said lists of foreign journalists that were not allowed to enter the country should no longer be applicable.

Mursanudin said there were currently around 500 people barred from entering the country, for various reasons, based on requests from government institutions, while thousands of others had problems with immigration authorities.


A number of figures critical of the former government have also been banned from traveling. One of them is famed author Pramoedya Ananta Toer.

For the first time in 40 years, Pramoedya will travel outside Indonesia following an invitation from New York's Fordham University and the Association of American Publishers to attend an academic conference on April 24.

On Tuesday, one of his children said so far there was "no problem" regarding plans to leave for New York.

As well as the academic conference titled "Pramoedya's Voice in Indonesia and the World", the author will launch the English language edition of his memoir The Mute's Soliloquy (Hyperion Press).

The book is a record of the conditions and circumstances that transformed him from a prominent author into a political prisoner and later one of Indonesia's internationally recognized voices of dissidence during Soeharto's New Order. (amd/aan/sim)