Tsunami in Indonesia: The Failure of the Bourgeois Government of Joko Widodo


For a Revolutionary Workers Government in Alliance with the Poor Peasants and the Urban Poor!


By Joseph Adams, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 26 October 2018, www.thecommunists.net




On the 28th September a Tsunami and earthquake hit Indonesia in Sulawesi in the province of Palu causing untold misery to the thousands of poor peasants and oppressed people who live in the province. The earthquake and Tsunami was of such ferocity that to date over 2, 600 people have been killed buried or missing presumed dead. Many of their wooden shacks or dwellings that they lived in have either been flattened or destroyed and were totally inadequate to protect people from the Tsunami. Indonesia is in the archipelago of Islands which are frequently rocked by earthquakes.


“On 28 September 2018, a shallow, large earthquake struck in the neck of the Minahasa Peninsula Indonesia, with its epicenter located in the mountainous Donggala Regency Central Sulawesi The magnitude 7.5 quake was located 77 km (48 mi) away from the provincial capital Palu and was felt as far away as Samarinda on East Kalimantan and also in Tawau, Malaysia This event was preceded by a sequence of foreshocks, the largest of which was a magnitude 6.1 tremor that occurred earlier that day. [1]


This earthquake “triggered a tsunami and extensive soil liquefaction, a phenomenon that turns soft soil into seething mire, killing 2,073 people, according to the latest official estimate. In every disaster, there's always a lesson to be learned," Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the national disaster mitigation agency, said this week. Nugroho conceded that Indonesia's preparedness for disasters and capacity to respond still fall woefully short, not least because public funding is so low. He said the country's disaster response budget is currently 4 trillion rupiah (US$262 million) a year, equivalent to 0.002 per cent of the state budget”. [2]


The disaster has shown that the bourgeois capitalist government of Joko Widodo, one of the biggest economies in South East Asia, has failed to provide proper relief and assistance to the oppressed and the poor. Accounts have shown that there was very little planning or preparation from the Indonesian authorities. Many of the people affected by the tsunami have either died or collapsed after the attack of the tsunami. Buildings have also collapsed showing the magnitude of the crisis. Many foreign governments have donated very little relief showing that imperialist governments are not concerned with a semi-colonial country like Indonesia.


It has always been the case that imperialist governments like the USA always spend millions of dollars for wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and other semi-colonial countries but never has the money or inclination to help save people’s lives. People are either homeless or displaced and they are desperate for fresh drinking water and medical supplies. The government has shown a callous lack of concern about the situation and total unpreparedness for the situation.


“Indonesia has the largest economy in Southeast Asia and is one of the emerging market economies of the world. The country is also a member of G-20 major economies and classified as a newly industrialized country. It is the sixteenth largest economy in the world by nominal GDP and is the seventh largest in terms of GDP”. [3]


Such lack of preparedness is completely absurd give the fact that Indonesia is one of the world's most disaster-prone countries, experiencing seismic activity on an almost daily basis and an earthquake of magnitude 5 about once a week on average. Just two months before the Sulawesi disaster, two earthquakes rocked the island of Lombok, killing 500. Palu also saw widespread soil liquefaction with entire communities disappearing into the resulting mud.


Preparations in order to prevent such catastrophes would be entirely possible since rich imperialist countries have developed technologies for such events. Japan, for example, also experiences regularly fierce earthquakes. However, since the country is using modern technologies in order to avoid the worst consequences of such earthquakes, the number of causalities is usually much lower than in poor semi-colonial countries like Indonesia.


Elizabeth Hausler, founder and CEO of Build Change, which works in developing countries, including Indonesia, to help local communities build homes that can better withstand natural disasters, commented on the tragic events in Indonesia:


"[Sulawesi] was a complex disaster," said "We should be able to design a control tower to withstand that, but this is complex science, complex research, and complex engineering. The US, Japan and maybe a few other countries are state of the art on this, but it has not spread throughout the world." [4]


Even months after the disaster rescue teams are still digging people out from the massive mudslide that buried thousands. Many of the poor peasants and oppressed have nothing and the Widodo government continue to ignore their plight and carry on as if nothing had happened. Of course the capitalist regime with its programme of privatisation and profiteering has used its police force to prevent looting from shops and other places where the vast majority of population are starving and destitute, meanwhile the regime continues to enrich itself in this socially unequal country.


The RCIT puts forward the following demands to unite the working class, the urban poor and poor peasants.


* Immediate relief and help to all survivors caught up in the tragedy


* Action committees to be formed to organise the clear up and to locate the bodies of loved ones. It is no good leaving this task to governmental agencies who so far have failed the urban poor and oppressed.


* For a workers and trade union enquiry to establish why the government was so unprepared when the earthquake and tsunami destroyed so much of Sulawesi.


* Down with the reactionary capitalist government of Joko Widodo!


* For a revolutionary constituent assembly! For a revolutionary workers government in alliance with the poor peasants and the urban poor!


We call socialists in Indonesia to study the programme of the RCIT and to build a revolutionary party as part of a revolutionary International! Join us!






(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Sulawesi_earthquake_and_tsunami


(2) https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/indonesia-s-double-disaster-exposes-earthquake-lessons-not-learned-10820292


(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Indonesia


(4) https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/10/indonesia-quakes-wake-call-buildings-shaky-foundations-181018015500435.html