Regional responses to central government authority : a comparative study of South Sulawesi and Aceh
Rasyid, M. Ryaas
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Historically, South Sulawesi and Aceh appear to have had some very similar experience with external powers. As independent kingdoms, both regions were involved in colonial war against the Dutch. Both strongly supported the Republic of Indonesia, but less than three years after the formation of the Republic, both regions rebelled against it. Rebellion in both places was motivated by Islamic ideology. With the end of the rebellion in Aceh (1962) and South Sulawesi (1965), and the birth of the New Order government shortly thereafter, both regions demonstrated their support for this new government. The victory of GOLKAR in the 1971 election was one manifestation of support. However, from that time on, the regions diverged in their support. The South Sulawesians continuously supported GOLKAR in three elections (1977, 1982, 1987), but the Acehnese supported PPP. Most recently, in 1987 the Acehnese gave GOLKAR a slight victory, yet the PPP maintained a fairly strong position in the region. After scrutinizing the historical experiences of the two regions, we see that the similarities were superficial and that differences were more important. For example, the strength of traditional customs (the adat) and the domination of the aristocrats in South Sulawesi were never changed by the Dutch occupation. South Sulawesian support for the Republic, the absence of social revolution, the failure of the DI-TII rebellion, and the consecutive victories of GOLKAR in this region, all of these cannot be explained without reference to the traditional order. On the other hand, the strong Islamic ideology and the leadership of the ulama in Aceh inspired this region never to give up their fight against the Dutch and to become committed to social revolution several months after achieving independence. Moreover, Acehnese support for the Republic of Indonesia during the early days of independence (1945) and for the New Order (1971) was conditional on their expectation that the central government would favor Islam. Their discontent over the central government's policy in 1951 caused them to rebel, and their discontent over the New Order caused them to favor the PPP in the 1977 and 1982 General Elections. These differences in historical experiences help explain why the two regions responded differently to the central government during the New Order Period.