There is a scene near the start of Joshua Oppenheimer’s award-winning 2012 documentary The Act Of Killing in which Japto Soerjosoemarno—the leader of far-right paramilitary group Pemuda Pancasila—is being interviewed on a golf course about his role in the Indonesian genocide of 1965-66. As he’s warming up for a drive, an interviewer asks him, “How did Pancasila exterminate the communists?” Soerjosoemarno replies, “We killed them all. May I hit the ball now?”
The narrative thrust of The Act of Killing is that few of the hatchet men involved in the CIA-backed massacre of between 500,000 and 3,000,000 Indonesians ever faced consequences for the killings, and many of them don’t even harbor remorse. Their nonchalant openness about the murderers is what makes the documentary so chilling. Pancasila, which played a major role in the genocide 50 years ago, is still very much active and very much for hire for any, say, European conglomerate that wants to break up a nascent union by force.
Soerjosoemarno remains Pancasila’s leader, and as the film indicates, he loves to golf. He is listed as a member of PGA Tour Indonesia’s board of advisors, and he appears to have hosted several golf tournaments in Southern California. PGA Tour Indonesia doesn’t appear to be connected to the official PGA Tour, but the official group does seem happy to accept a whole bunch of Soerjosoemarno’s blood money.
Most recently, Soerjosoemarno was one of the amateur partners for PGA Tour pros Jim Herman and Rod Pampling at this year’s Desert Classic (he shot a 201 over three rounds.) Soerjosoemarno is especially fond of playing in the Coachella Valley, where the PGA has held a January event for 60 years. It used to be known as the Bob Hope classic, but a variety of sponsors have cycled through it, including the Clinton Foundation.
A leaderboard from the pro-am in 2018 doesn’t show Soerjosoemarno’s name, though his sons Jedidiah and Aboshalom both competed. All three played in 2017, and while no amateur pairings nor leaderboards were posted in 2016, Japto partnered up with pros in 2015, 2014, 2013 (shortly after the documentary came out), 2012, and as far back as 2005.
Soerjosoemarno is a self-professed “gangster” and an obviously wealthy man— as are most who regularly pay for pro-am entry, which costs $29,000, according to the Desert Sun. (It’s unclear whether that is the per-person rate or a group rate, though the general manager of a forthcoming PGA Tour event told Deadspin a three-person berth in his tournament’s pro-am would cost $35,000, and they sold out well in advance.) Either way, Soerjosoemarno has paid a ton of money over the years for the right to play with the pros, joining the ranks of celebrity participants like John Elway, Roger Clemens, and Dwight Eisenhower.
Deadspin reached out yesterday to two Desert Classic representatives about Soerjosoemarno’s long-running involvement with the tournament, and whether or not they knew he admitted to participating in the 1965-66 genocide. They did not reply. Deadspin also asked three PGA Tour reps if they would allow Soerjosoemarno to participate in future events, and whether or not they condemned the Indonesian massacres of 1965-66. They did not respond either.