Ambonese - Sociopolitical Organization

The province of Maluku is headed by a governor who is directly appointed by the president of Indonesia and is commonly of non-Moluccan origin, as are those holding other key positions. The other offices on the provincial level and below are occupied by Moluccans, but they, like the provincial parliament, have only limited political power.

Social Organization. Traditional Ambonese society is democratically organized to a degree. Elevated status is only afforded by the clan that has the hereditary right to the office of village chief and to religious officials. Furthermore, academicians are highly respected. In postindependence times, however, the status of all these persons has been declining. Status distinctions made between original clans and those that arrived later in a village are also waning.

Political Organization. Within Ambonese society proper, the villages constitute the largest organizational units, each tying separately and directly into the regional components of the national governmental superstructure. They are self-contained and autonomous, dealing with each other as if they were independent ministates. Villages are governed by a council of hereditary office holders headed by the village headman ( raja). Orders of the Indonesian government to open the councils to anyone chosen in free elections, including non-Ambonese, have been met with great resistance.

Social Control. Villagers still try to avoid the involvement of the police and other governmental authorities in dealing with internal problems. The fear of punishment by the ancestors, who are the founders and guardians of the social value system (adat), is still the most effective prevention of social transgressions. Gossip, public embarrassment, and threats of ostracism are effective devices of social control.

Conflict. In the past, warfare was extremely common and intervillage fighting is still a quite frequent occurrence, resulting in casualties and burning of property. Violence is also common in intravillage fights.

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