21 August 2011

Indonesia in the 66th Independence: (Not) Free To Decide

The phrase 'free to decide' is borrowed from the Cranberries' song title

Today Republic of Indonesia is celebrating the 66th Independence Day since it has been proclaimed on August 17, 1945. The rise of the new look of Nusantara nation in a united form had a tremendous impact on freedom movement other nations, such as India, Egypt, Malaysia, etc. The courage of Indonesian founding fathers to make a quick start during the 'vacuum of power' since Japan's destruction following the nuclear bombings must be highly appreciated. 

Indonesia is a great nation in terms of number of population and territory. It is not easy to integrate vary cultures and values into one projected goal. Therefore, time and time again this republic has been faced by plenty of 'tests of life' ever since it has formed the sovereign government. Either internally or externally disturbed, Indonesia looks like passing through a bridge on trouble water. The experience in 66 years has proven such phenomenon. 

Indonesia nowadays is quite different from that of somewhat 20-25 years ago, when what people say 'iron fist' held firmly the rights to speak under authoritarian conduct. Post-1998 reform, people of Indonesia have been granted more independence to speak and to act under more democratic environment, where no powerful parties dominate. However, freedom to speak and to choose, unfortunately, has been becoming a source of chaotic situation because everyone speaks, everyone demands, and everyone overlaps one to another. This is how today's Indonesia is looking like. Debates on important issues such as politics, economy, and socio-culture come back and forth to highlight the media, to make ordinary people confused to hold which one is true. More intellectuals are showing their skills of rhetoric talks off making the audience paranoid about the future of the nation. More external influences keep absorbing significant aspects of the nation's life as the result of openness and active participation at global stage. In short, the change obtained by Indonesia in the past twenty years has been only freedom to speak and to act; not free to decide. Whether they are considered by authorities is another story. Those who are powerful are not willing to surpass the assets for the prosperity of the whole people, corruption keeps growing, image-building keeps telling lies behind truths. 

Compared with new democracies Indonesia has had more experience to defend the capacity-building of the nation. But compared with old nations with 'mature' experience, Indonesia has been no more than a teenager looking for status and recognition. Sometimes the choice on decision-making is taken emotionally, only going for short-term targets. Unfortunately, this decision often ruins things that have been set up for long-term purpose. This is how freedom is still constrained, either by internal or by external factors. Self-determination of leaders rarely prove in their critical decisions and their contribution to the people as the major stakeholders of the nation-building are often swapped by political interest of particular groups. It is probably human nature, even developed economies still experience, such what recently occurred in the United Kingdom. However, for Indonesian people inherit the spirit of ancient great Nusantara, there should not have been a fear of being lagged by the dramatic development of other nations. Indonesia with its coexistent heterogeinty must not surrender a holistic dependence on the move the other nations display on the current global stage. Instead, character-building is a 'must do' task in order to give birth the true characteristic of Indonesia.

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