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How to be truly Indonesian

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  • Sunny
    res: Yang menciptakan Indonesia sebagai suatu kesatuan geografis politik adalah kaum kolonial, bukan Pancasila! Sebelum kaum kolonial tiba di berbagai
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 20, 2013
      res: Yang menciptakan Indonesia sebagai suatu kesatuan geografis politik adalah kaum kolonial, bukan Pancasila! Sebelum kaum kolonial tiba di berbagai kepualaun Nusantra terdapat berbagai macam kerajaan yang kemudian ditalukan terutama oleh Belanda dan dijadikan wilayah yang namanya Hindia Belanda. Itulah sejarahnya.

      How to be truly Indonesian

      Aimee Dawis, Jakarta | Opinion | Sun, August 18 2013, 11:28 AM

      Early this year, I was invited by Jinan University to present a paper on Chinese organizations in Guangzhou, China. At the conference, I met a distinguished African professor who asked me an intriguing question.

      He said, “Aimee, I’ve been to your country before, and I’m amazed at how large, diverse and dispersed geographically it is. You have so many people living on thousands of islands. What keeps it all together?”

      I thought of his question carefully and answered, “It’s our ideology. That’s what keeps us all together.”

      I explained to him that Indonesia was founded on the unifying principles of Pancasila: belief in one supreme god; humanism; nationalism; popular sovereignty; and social justice. Our founding fathers, Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta, also kept our nation together using the national motto of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika or Unity in Diversity.

      As child, teenager and later on, a young woman living abroad in Singapore and the United States, these concepts stayed as vague nationalist images in my memories as a third and fourth grader. Before I went to Singapore at the end of fourth grade, I learned Pancasila and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika as part of Pancasila moral studies).

      Never did I think that after earning a PhD in the US and coming back as a lecturer at the University of Indonesia that I would be immersing myself in a highly intensive course for seven and a half months at the National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas).

      Lemhannas is a government think tank established in 1965 to assist the president in providing an educational program to safeguard and preserve the national ideal of proclamation, the goal of the nation and the sustainability of the nation in the globalized world for potential national leaders.

      As the head of the Communication Research Committee at the Indonesian Chinese Social Organization (PSMTI, or Paguyuban Sosial Marga Tionghoa Indonesia), I had been selected to participate in this demanding Lemhannas course alongside military officers (including representatives from six countries such as Singapore, Algeria, Jordan, Cambodia, Malaysia and Pakistan), high-ranking officials from various government ministries and other representatives like myself, who come from various social or political organizations. Only five of the 79 participants are women.

      During the inaugural ceremony of the program, on March 19, 2013, I felt like a fish out of water — looking at the men in their military regalia and rows of medals on their uniforms. I asked myself then, “What do I have in common with them?”

      Throughout the course, I learned about many aspects of national security issues, such as national identity and integrity, regional and international diplomacy, as well as various aspects of our country’s demography and geography.

      I also became part of an official government mission to visit Turkey in July.

      In Turkey, my colleagues and I proudly represented Indonesia, engaging the Turkish ministries of science and technology, education, agriculture and defense in dialogues to enhance our countries’ bilateral relations.

      Other than Turkey, my other colleagues visited Jordan and South Korea at the same time.

      In September, my colleagues and I will also visit South Sulawesi, Aceh and West Kalimantan as part of our domestic strategic studies component of the course.

      As our country celebrates its 68th year as an independent nation, I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Lemhannas course. The strong bonds and friendships forged throughout the course means that I can count future military generals and future leaders of Indonesia and several other countries as my friends. If I could give myself a piece of advice on that inaugural day, I would tell her, “You’re all Indonesians or close friends of Indonesia. That’s what you have in common with them. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you to learn how to be truly Indonesian”.

      Thank you, Indonesia. I am proud to be one of your citizens.

      The writer, a researcher and lecturer on Chinese-Indonesian cultural and national identities, has published two books: The Chinese of Indonesia and Their Search for Identity and Prominent Chinese-Indonesian Women. She is currently completing her course at The National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas), Jakarta.

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