‘Tolerance Is Alive and Well in Indonesia’

By Bhimanto Suwastoyo on 08:07 am Sep 12, 2013
Category News

For many foreigners, Indonesia is often seen as a country where intolerance is on the rise, but for others who have been working deep in the archipelago, such statements have no bearing.

“Sometimes people in the Western world think that there is intolerance, but actually it is exactly the opposite here. You feel embraced, and I think Indonesia is a hidden gem,” Gen. Andre Cox, the international leader of the Salvation Army said on Wednesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a lunch with partners and friends of the Salvation Army, Cox said he had traveled to many isolated parts of the country, including areas not frequented by Westerners, and never experienced reticence from the locals.

“There is always a warm embrace,” he said. “That is a tremendous draw card, and you need to tell the world about it,” he added.

He called Indonesia a fascinating place and added that despite the negative images portrayed about Indonesia, he has often found that the people here were tolerant.

Comm. Mike Parker, the Salvation Army’s territorial commander for Indonesia, also spoke of the same experience.

Parker said he had been warned about intolerance in Indonesia, but in the field, he found them to be an accepting people.

“I have been here for two-and-a-half years and I’ve yet to experience [intolerance]. Everywhere I go I feel I’m being treated like royalty. Their welcome is so warm, so sincere,” Parker said.

Cox said the acceptance may also be partly because his organization, despite being a church, does not carry a religious bias in its engagement with local communities.

“Our bias is to help the poor. We serve without discrimination,” Cox said.

He also said Indonesia has shown that people from different faiths can work well together.

“Here in Indonesia, I found a great source of strength in communities where people of different faiths have actually come around and sat down to look at the community, to look at the issues, and we discovered how much we have in common with each other,” he said.

Cox said many of the community development projects, engagement and social programs of his organization provided a unique characteristic that also needed to be shown to the world.

“We put the spotlight on Indonesia, or wherever we are, that these are positive things. This is an opportunity for us to put the spotlight and say here, a difference is being made,” he said.

The Salvation Army, headquartered in Bandung, West Java, has been in Indonesia since 1894. It is now active in 20 of the country’s 34 provinces and has approximately 60,000 active members.

It operates more than 100 schools across the country, from kindergartens to university level, including a school for medical nurses.

It also runs six hospitals and 15 medical clinics in the country and 20 homes for babies, children and the elderly.

The Salvation Army is also involved in an HIV/AIDS program, while it also empowers the poor in rural areas through training programs in agriculture.

In addition to providing practical emergency relief and disaster services, the organization also trains volunteers to deal with post-disaster relief services. The organization was started in London, England.

  • Wong Edan

    Congratulations to Indonesia for your tolerance of foreigners coming here to provide fianncial assistance.

    • Pelan2

      Financial assistance from foreigners are not needed here anymore considering the eminent financial capabilities for 22/lanun..

  • Jon Wijaya

    “I have been here for two-and-a-half years and I’ve yet to experience [intolerance]. Everywhere I go I feel I’m being treated like royalty. Their welcome is so warm, so sincere,” Parker said.

    Sounds like Dennis Rodman in North Korea!

    (and just as clueless).

    • Peter Griffin

      Hahahaha – what a joke. This used to be the case 20 years ago.

      Now you are fine here as long as you are playing the game – pay out excessive money – let staff and servants take the piss. Criticise anyone or try to teach them anything and you are no longer tolerated.

      It is becoming one of the hardest places in Asia to do business – with bules always charged more where they can be – cos bules are all rich and owe Indonesians a living.

      Very welcoming…

      • http://somewhere.com/ FMN

        “cos bules are all rich and owe Indonesians a living”

        Because Bules/Whites in the last decade are synonymous with colonization/plunder/wars/piracy/etc so they owe Asians so much compensation and reparation.

        That’s actually just a small change, so stop moaning.

        • Peter Griffin

          What utter crap you write…

    • Jowousa

      Y’all need to clear your goddumm shades, when somebody’s saying nice thing can you just say something nice too!? Don’t like living in INDONESIA? Heck don’t like don’t do it simple as that.

      • true

        i agree with u bro. tell that to all the pancasila-hating-intelligence-lacking-racist-clueless people that just dont like indonesia.

        • TalkingEid

          “pancasila-hating-intelligence-lacking-racist-clueless people” – you mean lanun / 22 ?

        • http://xirinet.com/ PerlNinja

          Your attitude is part of the problem really. I’ve lived here for 7 years now, and while my intelligence can (and often is) questioned, especially in the early morning when I’ve not had any coffee, I love the concept of Pancasila.

          What bothers me about it is that a large majority of Indonesians don’t seem to share my love for it – because they do not follow it, at all. Only when it suits them, and only when it’s convenient.

          Which is fine – but own up to it. Don’t say “oh I totally dig Pancasila” but then turn around and prove by your actions that you don’t. That doesn’t get any respect. If you just flat out say you don’t give a toss about Pancasila and then prove by action that you don’t, that’ll get you more respect.

          And maybe, just maybe, some of us foreigners might just say the things they do because they consider Indonesia home, and they don’t want to see their home go down the shitter. And sometimes it takes an outsider to point out all the nasty things that are wrong, because those on the inside can’t or won’t see it.

  • TGIF

    “Our bias is to help the poor. We serve without discrimination,” Cox said. He also said Indonesia has shown that people from different faiths can work well together. Then why would the local government feel helpless when dealing with the FPI??

  • trugiaz

    If you’re a white guy in Indonesia, no matter where you came from or what is your religion you’d still feel the hospitality from Indonesian.

    That is a fact.

    • Hypocrite Buster

      It is a fact, until you criticise them, even constructively.

    • rahadi widodo

      unless they are FPI

  • PakLe

    Intolerance comes from the ‘mass organisations’ and the government that supports them. It comes from the wahabist mosque leaders and the clerics councils and the ministry of sunni religion. It comes from regional government officials with a pious chip on their shoulder.

    It doesn’t come from the simple folk in far-flung locations who are always delighted to see foreigners, especially those who bring Aid and work to help them.

    To say ‘tolerance is alive and well in Indonesia’ is to sweep one of Indonesia’s biggest current challenges under the carpet.

  • Dazeddazza

    Typical do-gooder religious response, but good luck to them if they are indeed doing some good!!!

  • TalkingEid

    Indeed – I’m sure he doesn’t want to join Harrison Ford and be threatened with deportation unless he toes the line.

  • rustynails

    So sad, this man can say this when so many are being used and abused. Although not a religious person the Salvos have always had my respect as they unlike so many others get down and get dirty with thier assistance without paying grand salaries to professional hangers on.

  • MadWorld

    I have been traveling for years in Indonesia, the remotest part was Flores (Bajawa region). I travelled with friends including mostly bule (caucasian). When Indonesian in remote places saw a bule (e.g. Sumba) almost every body became very very friendly, asking the usual questions; where you from?There was even a minor traffic accident caused by gaping to our girlfriends. Almost everybody was mesmerized by fair skin & blond hairs, even when we are a mix group including Indonesian born C.E.Os, no body, almost No Body talk to the Indonesian guys, even when all these mission was funded by Indonesian C.E.O. I have the impression that Indonesian have a degree of inferiority complex ( Not All of them) when they saw bule, wow , it must be a very rich people, lets get unctuous. Smile you just see a bule.
    Cox & Parkers (colonel Parker) territorial commander is on a mission ,selling religions.

  • TalkingEid

    please note the word ‘should’ before your blood pressure reaches danger point.

  • mrlogic

    Tolerance of corruption alive and well would be a more apt headline, don’t you think?

  • Unum Deum

    True…..I have many non-muslim neighbors and near my home…there are church and mosque less than 50 meters away…nothing bad happen…we communicate with each others as Indonesians….not as muslims or christians…