Miss Indonesia Sports Hammer-and-Sickle T-Shirt

…and it causes a minor scandal. Here is an article, in Indonesian. And here is the offending image.

That’s right. Anindya Kusuma Putri, Miss Indonesia 2015, captioned her peasant-communist-chic Instagram photo as “I am so Vietnam today.” I got the image from a tweet by one @mas_prasetiyo, who suggests that the Army and Special Forces take action.*

Now, this isn’t a giant scandal or anything. But reading the comments and tweets you can see how a segment of Indonesia’s population remains gripped by a Cold War-era mentality, one fostered under Indonesia’s New Order regime, of communism as an existential threat to the very idea of Indonesia. I have no systematic evidence to back this up, but my guess is that such sentiments are fairly widely shared. A follow-up tweet from another user mentioned in the article above says it all: Communist ideas are forbidden [= terlarang] in Indonesia.

And in this tweet, yet another Twitterer mentioned in the article follows up by drawing on a common trope among anti-communist Indonesians, a memory of one’s family having been victimized by PKI, the Communist Party of Indonesia, over fifty years ago.

What I find even more interesting, though, is the explicit analogy drawn between communism and ISIS as two common threats to the Indonesian state.

The user mentions a widely known case of an ice cream vendor in the Jakarta exurb of Depok being detained simply for flying an ISIS flag. As if the more suggestion of ISIS and communism are enough to warrant an intervention by the state’s security apparatus.

Such sentiments from a random Twitterer would not be so notable were it not for the fact that, indeed, particular arms of the Indonesian state security apparatus have explicitly likened the threat of ISIS to the threat of communism (here is an example from a regional military command).


Right on cue, an Indonesian Army general feels it necessary to weigh in—as a private citizen, of course—on the matter, asking Miss Indonesia to apologize.


* To best of my knowledge, those are not the official twitter accounts of either the Army (TNI) or the Special Forces (KOPASSUS), although there’s probably an entire dissertation to be written on the GI Joe-themed KOPASSUS one.

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