Indonesia Anonymus

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Anonymus is the Latin word for anonymous, the correct English spelling. The Latin spelling, however, is traditionally used by scholars in the humanities to refer to an ancient writer whose name is not known, or to a manuscript of their work. Read more at Wikipedia.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Phen-O-menon

We all witnessed a phenomenon today that we thought we would never see in our lifetime: A first African-American ever elected to the highest office in America.

Indonesians, of course, just like many people in any other countries, are mostly for Obama. The online survey in Detik.com for example, gave Obama an even bigger landslide than he actually got in the election.

So we love Obama, no doubt about it.
Now the question is: if there is an 'obama' in our country, will we be able to spot him? Or better yet, will we vote for him?

So let's play with our imagination and draw a picture of our 'obama' :
Barack Obama is half white, half black. His mother is a white woman from Kansas and his father came from Kenya. In America, white is the majority, and black is the biggest minority.
In Indonesia, that would make our 'obama' half native Indonesian and half Chinese. Let's just say, our 'obama' has a javanese mother from Solo, central Java, and an Indonesian-Chinese father with ancestors from Fujian province, China.

Barack Obama has an African name. That name is not very common in the US and even Obama himself frequently refers to himself as a person 'with a funny name'.
So let's give our 'obama' a name that is not originally Indonesian. Let's call him Vincent Tjoa. (this is just an imaginary name. A mere example).

Barack Obama is a christian, while his father is a muslim. Christianity is the major religion in the US. So In Indonesia, this would make our Vincent a muslim (the majority), but with a christian father.

Vincent Tjoa, a muslim, mother from Solo, and christian father originally from Fujian, China. Picture it yet?

Let's build up our Vincent character some more using our imagination:
Just like Obama, our Vincent is young, patriotic and full of idealism. His life has not been easy. His father abandoned him when he was small and he was mostly raised by his grandparents in Solo, far from richness. Yet through his own perseverence he managed to graduate first from one of the top school in the country. (Let's say he graduated from ITB or UI).
Soon after he graduated, instead of taking a high-paying job in Jakarta, he chose to work in his community helping the poor.

He then went into politics, and became a member of parliament. He is new, with more idealism than experience, yet wildly popular. He has many supporters among young people, who are tired looking at Indonesia's same old corrupt politics. The young people think Vincent understands them. Understands their aspirations. Their ideals. They believe Vincent will be able to lead Indonesia to the better.

Two years later Vincent decided to run for the presidency.

He runs a grass root, efficient, discipline campaign, offering to bring change to Indonesian politics: He promised to end the divisive politics based on religion, race and ethnicity in Indonesia. "There is no javanese Indonesia. there is no chinese Indonesia, there is no muslim Indonesia, there is no christian Indonesia. There is only one Indonesia! Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, unity in diversity".

Vincent makes beautiful speeches. A great orator. He inspires. He has the ability to move people. Give them hope.
And to top it up, he has an incredibly structured, detailed plan on how to bring Indonesia to a brighter future. "Our prosperity is within reach", he said, "if only we can all work together. It is not about me, it is about you. About Indonesia."

His opponent is an old timer yet a very popular Indonesian politician. A native Indonesian, a devout muslim, a former Indonesian military man who has been in politics for a very long time and part of the political establishment. He is incredibly wealthy and his campaign is run by old faces of the establishment's political machine. Unfortunately, this is the same establishment that some Indonesian people view as the status quo: tolerating the corrupt culture and too slow to move the country forward.

Now, here's the question: Given the story above, will we, Indonesians, vote for our Vincent Tjoa to be Indonesia's next president ? Or will we vote for his opponent?

Can we get past his background, his christian father from Fujian province, his name, and his half chinese ethnicity, and vote for him?

If not, why not?
If not, then why are we cheering for Barack Obama? Because Obama offers a dream that we can never achieve?

After one decade Indonesia has moved from a dictatorship to a democracy. And not just any democracy. A good one too. The one that works.
And democracy works even better if we use it to bring about our future. To realize what we can achieve. And to choose the best person who can lead us to achieve them.

Shouldn't we look at a candidate based on his or her quality? On what future he or she can offer to us?
The best person. Not the best person with this or that religion, this or that race, or this or that ethnic group. And certainly not because he or she is a celebrity, a tv personality, a singer, or an actor.

The best person, period.

Knowing that we are dying to change our future, so desperate to change our country to the better, are we willing to keep an open mind and embrace the 'obama' among us? Our Vincent Tjoa?
Will we even consider him as a candidate at all? Will we vote for him and trust him to lead us?

Or are we going to cling on to the same old divisive politics, same old status quo while at the same time happily cheering for America's Obama?
Isn't that hypocrisy?

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22 Comments:

Blogger a0z0ra said...

We don't have civil right movement for Chinese Indonesians. Yet.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous roi said...

I will surely choose this Vincent...
I like 'young-guns', 'fresh-blood', you name it lah

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Rayen said...

I think Indonesian people would have vote for Vincent, as long as he's not other than Moslem?

Religion is the most divisive issue in Indonesia more than race.

But then again, can you imagine American will vote for Obama if he really is a Moslem? He tried very hard to prove that he is not, that American voted for him.

2:06 AM  
OpenID asti said...

Oh, definitely Vincent. I think Indonesia has been waiting for a Vincent for way too long.

I hope I can see an Indonesian campaign run by people who really care, and not just those who are being paid and cause riots. I hope to vote for the first time next year. I hope I can spot the Vincent, or someone with Vincent-ish qualities.

Here's to hoping!

asti

8:31 AM  
Blogger isman said...

You do have a point. We may be surprised by the results should this Vincent Tjoa really emerge. The May tragedy taught us that we may be more prejudiced toward racial differences than we thought. And prejudice is an ammunition people in power use to maintain the status quo.

12:00 AM  
OpenID xtrhic said...

one big problem is our constitution...

"Pasal 6
Presiden ialah orang Indonesia asli.
"

somehow our forefathers missed this when they claimed "bhinekka tunggal ika".

but pasal 6 aside, money politic aside, pak vincent will garner votes and a very healthy percentage.
btw, if he was muslim, i seriously doubt he would retain the 'vincent' as most mualafs usually add a muslim name.

12:25 AM  
Anonymous san said...

it won't be that simple, but not impossible. i believe we have many obamas more than we know. as far as political culture is concernted, the biggest challenge in our country is the political pedagogy, it's how we educate our people to be aware of their votes, out of apathy, that they have genuine rights to decide who will lead them. our next obama should consider this very hard, put the best effort before even thinking about pursueing the highest power in the country. it doesn't matter how many obamas it takes until the right obama comes up for the right presidency in just the right moment.

12:29 AM  
Blogger DwD said...

rayen's comment is spot-on. it would be another story if obama was a moslem. even when he's not, there are some people who was very sure he's a moslem. i think the western still sees moslem as a threat.

12:58 AM  
Anonymous Alia said...

Nice post. But since the Dunham family came from Hawaii, our Vincent shouldn't come from java. Preferbly any province in east indonesia, like sulawesi, maluku, papua or ntt. imagine our vincent coming from a family of a papuan father and a chinese mother!
I would hv chose the vincent tjoa. But as long as he has the same sincerity when he speaks like obama. Some of our current politicians are really good talkers, but since they don't seem to be sincere it makes people apathetic.
Btw, i kinda made a speech based on obama's acceptance speech if obama had bee elected as the president of indonesia. Its at my blog at alia.multiply.com.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Credo said...

Very nice thought.. Thank you for sharing :)

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Vincent Karambola said...

What democracy are you talking about Indonesia when you can't have open mandrin school in Indonesia,just look in our KTP,we cant have a oure chinese character names.

Obama will make his deadliest attack on muslim country such as Iran and wont move out of Iraq,lets see his foreign policy,to be the President of the America is not about skin colors or race or religion,its about your policy towards the jewish state of Israel,you must be the big brader to protect them,may be he is elected to expand Jewish propaganda in Africa next.....Dont dream for Obama in Indonesia,its a myth n not a hope anyway.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Wahyu Riyadi said...

Surely I will vote for Vincent. Indonesian people was tired with 'old' government and their corrupt tradition.
We want the change. And your vincent is very 'gorgeous'.

Agree with Rayen. Religion is still the main issues in the president election.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous ultratupai said...

This is exactly the scenario I hope for Indonesia. With the outcome the Vincent is elected by a land side.

Someone, please go out and find this person.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there were some different of the background between chinese and black people as minority in indonesia and america. chinese came to indonesia, black was brought to america. chinese had social status while black was slave. chinese was behind the power, while black below the power.
so..
there is something missing if the figure of this indonesian obama is a chinese, there is no sense of struggling.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Irene Yuan said...

if a vincent tjoa is elected i might just give up my United States citizenship hahaha.

as long as our money seeking celebrities are still running for office and corruption still running deep in the veins of the indonesian political system, don't even hope that a vincent tjoa be elected president.

cheering for obama was not hypocrisy.
its just very ironic. haha.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Pong2 said...

I think the reason obama was elected mainly because democrats are said to do better in economy.
A person like Vincent Tjoa will never exist, why?
1. pribumi-chinese proportions are way too high: 90:10 ?? It's like electing a jew during hitler's era. Come on face it, anything goes wrong and you'll be blaming the chinese.
2. indonesia will and never be a democracy, coz the same class are still holding all the power. We're like a diminished version of robert mugabe's zimbabwe democracy. Why? Name any strong candidate that has no affiliations with superpowers from Orde Baru !? --This man is nuts. he's comparing indonesia to dictatorship. Let me prove it--
3. Most talented indonesians, who are smart enough to think ahead, doesnt want to work in indonesia. new generations of the most elite minds prefer to work abroad and their best did that. bigger pay, better living condition and more professional attitude(no telat, alibi or blaming others). btw afghanistan is now screwed by the US because of the same gradual brain-drain syndrom.
4. indonesians, as a country, are uneducated. give them a shirt or 20 ribu, u get urself a nice vote(rich-poor counts as one vote).
5. our culture doesnt allow ppl like vincent tjoa to stand out. ive seen smart people being put down just for being smart, even in workplaces - a mindset of stepping on people's heads rather than climbing ladders to get higher.

you may not like what ive said. the only solution is for ppl like thaksin to appear. btw i dont think he's corrupt. if u look at the way he raise his children and the philosophy he builds around himself, it's unlikely that he's corrupt. then again, it takes a 'rich' mind to see that

1:53 PM  
Blogger Dony Yuliardi said...

You've missed the point.

The comparison of black african in the US and chinese in Indonesia is no way similar. First is on how this nation was built. Unlike the US which is diversed by the migrant, Indonesia is diversed by native ethnic groups. So, it's not Indo-chinese that should be the figure, but Java-nonJava figure.

Chinese was also not the real victim during colonialism.The natives were. Let's say, we should find the minority ethic group which until now is still underpressure. And there it goes the religion. I think Hindu is much more relevant for this.

So, i think this 'Vincent' you said should be: a Java-Balinese Muslim with a Hindu father. What do you think? :)

10:57 AM  
Anonymous sari said...

@The writer: I would choose Vincent Tjoa! New fresh ideas, why not? Only I thought the name would sound more Chinese (like "Barrack Obama" totally Kenyan name), e.g. Ming Tjoa :)

@Vincent Karambola:
I've seen Mandarin schools in some Java smaller cities e.g. Mandarin program in Jubilee School, Jakarta or Ma Chung university in Malang.
And I also know some Chinese colleagues who really have Chinese name e.g. Liong Ming written from their ktp to their school certificates. Of course it's written in roman character, as part of the national language of Indonesia.

1:56 AM  
Blogger oigal said...

Magnificent Post..

Dare I say Vincent was pushed out or eliminated long before it got to the presidential election. A clever but honest man but with ethics and courage he move overseas where he could earn a decent living for his family and be recognised for his merit rather for connections.

Oh and no way..was he flying B'class on Garuda.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous dienw said...

the problem is.. Indonesian people who cheers for Obama is only a splash of population in Indonesia. Most of us, didn't care, or didn't even know about it, and they votes count. Yet for part of them who seeing Obama wins, could be mislead by seeing it as a symbolic, not through Obama's vision, which will lead into a stronger Indonesian nationalism, despising minorities (not quality). nice thought, but still not applicable for 2009, skeptically until 2014, best fastest chance of change is at 2019.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Admiral said...

Unfortunately, this analysis mischaracterizes the reality of the 2008 election pretty badly.

McCain was not, actually, a member of the establishment. Nor were the people running his campaign. In fact, most in the Republican Party had a severe distaste for him from 2000 - 2008, but nominated him because of his moderate positions being more likable in this political environment.

Unlike Obama, who has never worked with the Republicans on anything, McCain has reached out to Democrats on numerous issues, providing leadership: immigration, global warming, and campaign finance reform being just three of the numerous issues in which he has done so.

Obama never did anything in the Senate. In fact, he became one of its most partisan members. And, of course, he built his political career off the backs of extremely corrupt Democratic politicians in Chicago. Their party machine is famous. He has many words, but no ideas, no will, and no ability.

Yet.

Americans believe in him and are going to give him a chance. We hope that he rewards our faith, and yours, in him.

2:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think your post was definitely a nice utopian illustration of indonesia. i would love to see this vincent to come up some time in the future, and it'd be interesting to see whether indonesians would be able to spot him or not.. i guess (and hope) indonesia in 15-20 years time would be able to eradicate the prejudice amongst the people so hopefully, this vincent could be found and able to get what he deserves. however if racism still exists, then its probably hard for ppl to accept him, despite their support for obama.
u know sometimes it's easier to fight for principles than to live up to them.
hypocrisy it is.

1:10 AM  

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