For the 23 years prior to its banning on 21 June 1994, "Tempo" magazine was Indonesia's most important news weekly, and its chief editor, Goenawan Mohamad, one of Indonesia's leading poets and intellectuals. Yet despite its influence, the history of "Tempo" magazine is not widely known. All aspects of Tempo's history, including its roots in the literary and cultural milieu of the 1960s, its economic organization and management, its internal culture and system of deciding what's news, and its strategies for survival within a repressive press system, provide a window into the political and cultural history of Indonesia's New Order. "Tempo" magazine occupied an ambiguous position in Soeharto's Indonesia, and "Wars Within: The Story of Tempo, an Independent Magazine in Soeharto's Indonesia" explores these contradictions and paradoxes. Clearly a product of the New Order, "Tempo" nevertheless presented independent points of view, often at considerable risk.
The story of how "Tempo" managed to survive 23 years of autocratic rule sheds light not only on the culture and politics of modern Indonesia, but also on broader questions concerning the role of the press in developing countries and on the kinds of negotiation that must go on for an essentially democratic institution to exist in an authoritarian space. Like the epic battles depicted in the Hindu-Javanese version of the Mahabharata, "Tempo's" struggles against the authoritation Soeharto regime can be understood as a kind of war within the New Order.
Publisher: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies