I’m a bit superstitious about a certain Indonesian name. I mean even before I meet a person, once I know one’s name, I tend to ‘judge’ his/her personality. Of course I never tell anyone about this habit. So, when I saw a commenter named Merlyna Lim in one of my posting several months ago ’something’ tells me that someone who carries the name Merlyna must be a light-weight person who loves a light-weight hobbies. In another word, she must be a fun-loving person who just wants to enjoy pop-culture life to the fullest. I am wrong, it turns out. Terribly wrong.
A few days back, I was googling her name and once I saw her picture (it’s also my other bad habit, but it used to be more accurate!) I saw something extraordinary in her face: strong determination, sharp brain and strong leadership. This time I am right. At least, some facts and her friend testimonial had proven that.Jak Boumans of Netherlands, who just met her twice, says this about her:
She is a young, intelligent and sharp lady. She is a trained architect, who graduated from Bandung Institute of Technology. But she changed direction and moved from physical spaces to virtual public spaces on internet. She has written a lot of articles, as her bibliography shows. Her main work is in describing the part internet played in the politics in Indonesia…
Endrayanto, one of her friend in the Netherlands who dedicated a lot of space of photo coverage for her success in defending her phd thesis thus
Defending her thesis (in September 2005)with title “@rchipelago Online, The Internet and Political Activism in Indonesia”, Merlyn got the degree Doctor with Cum Laude. Congratulation!
Cum Laude? It’s, and that’s one reason why she can ‘easily’ extend her study/research into another level as a fellow in University of Southern California.
And as a long time tradition of research scholar abroad, she writes extensively in several established journal and publication worldwide, the list of which you can see it here.
In between her very hectic schedule, she still has time to blog and help other Indonesians who need to continue their study by posting some very useful scholarships information in milis beasiswa (yahoogroups).
Although she has made it big in international arena, one thing I like is her down-to-earth attitude. And that’s the essence of Indonesian culture: the more achiever you are, the more humble you should be.
Following the downfall of Suharto regime in the late 1990s, I read a piece on Indonesia politics in Time Magazine, USA, written by Goenawan Mohamad, then the Editor-in-Chief of Tempo Magazine. There’s a brief CV in the end of his piece: Author of book Sidelines published by an Australia’s publisher. What non-Indonesian were unaware is that the Sidelines was actually the english version of Goenawan Mohamad columns in Tempo Magazine called Catatan Pinggir, the exact translation of Sidelines.
Budi Putra, himself incidentally a content manager for online edition of Tempo Interaktif, seems to be following his boss foot-step by translating into English all his Bahasa Indonesia column in Koran Tempo and put it in his blog. That’s a step in the right direction. While Goenawan Mohamad needs a special translator to make his column into a book, Budi Putra on the other hand, saving the time by translating it everytime his column got published in Koran Tempo. Certainly, that’s a sort of book in waiting.Making a book is obviously not a distant dream for him as he’s already published four books, mostly IT related and are written in Bahasa Indonesia.
He’s also won several awards in the field of journalism and writing contest and that’s why Tempo Media, the best Indonesia magazine, hires him.Even with so many achievements in a relatively young age, he still looks so eager to learn more to everyone –even to those whose achievements are not at par with him–a strong indication how down-to-earth personality he’s got.
It’s a common temptation for anyone who has attained a particular achievement and certain popularity in whichever field to feel being needed more than he/she needs others. I don’t see that kind of attitude in him. That’s a treasure everyone should be eager to have.
As far as I can see, Budi Putra is the most active Indonesian blogger, beside Yosef Ardi, with journalism background. I think he can do a lot more as far as blogosphere goes: (a)to be a pioneer in journalists circle by motivating other journalists to blog anything they can’t write in their media, a trend Indonesian journalists lagged behind with the rest of the world; (b) to give a good understanding to the editorial boards where he works how important the blog is in the current context and how necessary it’s for them to pay special attention to the content of Indonesian blogs; not only regards it as a technological phenomenon or temporary trend.***
Self-Reflection of an Indonesian Muslim
A lot of words being said for or against Islam and Muslim by the so-called experts, Muslims or non-Muslims. Particularly concerning the current phenomena of terrorism and the use of violence carried out by Muslims in the West or in Muslim countries.
The trends of analysis or commentaries are while non-Muslims tend to sharpen their attacks and criticisms against Islam and Muslims, Muslim experts or non-expert tend to be apologetic and defensive. The result of the on-going debates are predictable: no result of reconciliation in sight. Yet, the attacks and counter-attacks are still going on.For me, as I regularly say, any degradation of values in a particular community should be dealt with and analysed thoroughly by the enlightened personalities within the community; while the outsiders in this point of time should see and make a commentary on it with care and sense of empathy. A sympathetic approach on the part of outsiders and a comprehensive analysis followed by impartial implementation by the insiders will make things better.
On the part of Islam and Muslims, therefore, sharp criticism or condemnation should not be done by non-Muslim; it should be started from within against which the critics real purpose of improving the social degradation of a particular society will not come into reality. On the other hand, it will be seen by many as an attack which need to be counter-attacked. And that’s precisely what happens in Indonesia when some Christians criticise Muslims or Islam for certain bad things happen in the country; or Muslims lament the so-called christanization of Indonesia by evangelists, etc.
In this context, the self-criticism by Arief Prasetyo, himself is a Muslim, is a good step in the right direction.
In one of his post, for example, he condemned the suicide bombers and those Indonesians who support it:
How is suicide bombings justifiable? Justified by religion? In who’s eyes? Indonesia is a plural country with many religions. Although 85% of the entire population are muslims, I think that the majority of it live their lives in very moderate ways. However I do think that everyone in the country should help to promote peace and go against these suicide bombings and terrorism.
For the respondents who support the bombings (or say that it can be justified for whatever reason), I can’t wait until one of these bombs kills someone you love. Then I’d like to know how your opinion REALLY is about this.
On the Prophet Muhammad cartoon controversy, although he disagree with the irresponsible attitude on the part of the Danish newspaper, he equally criticise Muslims who turned into vandalism as a respons. He said,
However angry the moslems are, I think that violent and brutal ways of protesting and demonstrations goes beyond the line. The moslems sure will react… but I think this is way too much. The burning and destruction of public places, vandalism does not do and will never do any good on the moslem’s part. How can anyone ever believe that Islam is a peaceful teaching, while we show such rage and uncontrollable anger.
On the current Playboy Indonesia controversy, however, his opinion might not please a plethora of pro-Playboy. He’s unequivocally opposed it with a big no-no:
In the traditional Indonesian culture, sexual desire is something that is kept very secret and taboo to talk about. Islamic teachings also commands that muslims control their sexual desires and not be easily aroused.
Now other people may see it as art or high quality journalism. That may be. But for me, I think the reason why people buy Playboy (and alike), is its pornographic content. As long as the magazine falls into the hands of its market target, fine by me. The thing is I don’t yet believe in law and regulation enforcement in Indonesia.
I think that freedom of expression is limited by other people’s rights. When others are “disturbed” by one’s freedom of expression, perhaps one should look again whether one is still “just expressing one’s self” or “starting to disturb others”.
I say NO to Playboy Indonesia (and magazines alike). It just doesn’t feel right.
You might be agree or disagree with whatever Arief says in his posts, but one thing you must acknowledge about him is his sharp thinking, good and logical commentaries. His fondness of reading books must have contributed a lot on his good writings and arguments. And that’s why most of his postings make a good reading.