To the valiant sailors of the Nanggala 402: fair winds and following seas

The crew of the KRI Nanggala 402, a 44-year-old submarine acquired from West Germany and the prideful older sister of the pack, began the exercise by submerging to the depths. But when the submarine crew missed their routine check-in, they started to worry. The last contact was on Wednesday at 0430 hours.

The Nanggala was old, but reliable, the surface operators hoped. She’ll see it through to the end. She’ll come back with her crew safe and sound. But the Nanggala never checked in again. It couldn’t. Its electrical systems had failed, and it could not establish contact, let alone surface.

What was expected to be a routine naval exercise had turned into a search-and-rescue mission and a race against time. The Nanggala, and her crew, were lost in the waters north of Bali.

The clock was ticking. The Nanggala’s oxygen reserves would only last for 72 hours, meaning they had to be extracted before Friday at 0300 hours. Tardiness, even for a second, would put the crew’s lives in peril.

The search was on. Neighbouring countries pledged help: Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, India, and the United States sent assets to help with the search. Everyone’s eyes were on the time-pressed search for the Nanggala and her crew. International coverage spiked and the Nanggala trended.

As the deadline grew closer, hope dwindled. When the deadline passed, what little hope remained had vanished. The Nanggala was declared sunk at 850 meters below (far beyond its ‘crush depth’) and its crew of fifty-three good sailors began their eternal patrol.

Continue reading “To the valiant sailors of the Nanggala 402: fair winds and following seas”

THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #13: What to expect for the 2019 Presidential Election

On 9 June 2018, both Prabowo Subianto and Joko Widodo, the two presidential candidates for the 2019 Election announced their running mates. Prabowo would run alongside Sandiaga Uno, who was until recently the Vice-Governor of Jakarta; while Widodo would run with Ma’aruf Amin, the leader of the Indonesian Ulema Council.

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THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #12: Communist-phobia still going strong in Indonesia

Time and time again, Indonesia has seen many political outbursts due to the inflated fear of the Red Spectre of Communism. The most recent outburst occurred at a Lembaga Bantuan Hukum (Legal Aid Institute) in Jakarta following a seminar discussing the 1965 Communist massacre. The office was surrounded by protestors, entrapping the participants inside the walls. Most of those participants were the elderly – survivors and witnesses to the bloody pogrom that marked an important watershed in Indonesian politics. It was not until the following day that participants were allowed to leave, but the damage had already been done.

Involved in this incident were anti-Communist groups and a number of right-wing organisations, such as Front Pembela Islam. This incident indicates the continued stigma of Communism in Indonesia, a result of decades of indoctrination during the New Order.

The LBH office suffered some physical damage; however, I believe we can agree that the damage to Indonesia’s budding democracy should take centre stage.

Continue reading “THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #12: Communist-phobia still going strong in Indonesia”

THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #3: Uphill battle for Indonesia’s defense modernization

This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post, 1 November 2016.


The more expert analyses I read on the issue of naval and defense modernization in Indonesia, the more I realize that there are many challenges ahead. Though Jokowi does have a grand maritime vision for the country, there are a lot of challenges ahead before Indonesia can become a global maritime fulcrum in Southeast Asia.

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THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #1: A “David among Goliaths” or Eloquent Web-spinner?

A video (above) has spread overnight of an Indonesian representative to the United Nations General Assembly using their right of reply to a statement made by seven Pacific islands. The countries in question are Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Tongo, Palau, Nauru, and the Marshall Islands. The issue was regarding human rights violations in Papua. They are referring to the continued repression by the Indonesian armed forces against the Papuan separatists (or perhaps, dissidents).

Continue reading “THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #1: A “David among Goliaths” or Eloquent Web-spinner?”

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