Bonek Surabaya

As I said a while back, the old Javanese feudalistic mentality still has a very strong influence in Indonesia.

The people are expected to know their place in society and not grumble about it. That’s great of course if you are in the upper strata, but not so much fun for the peasantry. It’s strange really: the Javanese dumped the caste-based Hindu religion for the far more egalitarian religion of Islam, but for some reason or another decided that they couldn’t do without the former’s hierarchical principles.

It is this feudalistic mentality that explains the Javanese obsession for politeness and respect for their superiors. Kids at school are taught not to answer back and office workers will never question the ways of the boss.

But like all stereotypes, this generalization often doesn’t hold true. The Javanese are among the most inconsiderate car drivers in the world for example. And then there are the football supporters.

Bonek Surabaya

Most evenings I work out at a gym located just a stone’s throw from the national sports complex, a huge stadium built by Sukarno and financed by the Russian communists. But on Friday I couldn’t go. It was too dangerous.

Football supporters from Surabaya and three other cities had descended on the capital for the final stages of a national football tournament. Now while most Indonesian football supporters don’t cause trouble, the same can definitely not be said for those from Surabaya.

Nothing is beyond these supporters. Armed with traditional weapons, such as celurit (a sort of machete) and golok (type of club), they terrorize anyone who comes in their way:

According to the Jakarta Post:

The Surabaya supporters did their (violent) reputation no harm on Friday night when a group of them became involved in a violent clash with a group of supporters of PSM, known as Mac's Men, at the sports complex. About 2,000 police officers and military soldiers quickly arrived in about 100 trucks and buses and managed to disperse the crowd.
At least five Persebaya supporters, one police officer and one soldier were injured in the violence.
There are unconfirmed reports that a Persebaya supporter was killed in the clash. With many of the fans arriving in Jakarta with nothing but their team spirit, some began harassing pedestrians, street vendors and motorists for money and food.

Hell. Sometimes I wish former strongman Suharto was still in power: at least
he knew how to deal with such idiots.

But Indonesia is not the only country to have problems with football hooligans of course. Judging by the latest reports, it still has someway to go before it is on a par with countries like England, Holland and Italy, where they start at a very young age indeed…


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