Personal Views

Bendera Setengah Tiang

Today we all witness the passing of a ‘great’ man. I don’t think I’ve seen a more moving ceremony than this.

Where were you when the shooting broke out? I remember turning on the TV at 10 in the morning and saw the most hideous crime ever performed in this country. A student activist on the ground, his head was bashed uncontrollably several times by a police officer with heavy boots. I remember our world spun in all directions. Things would never be the same.

We were calling all our friends in Perth, checking if everyone was OK. We tried calling home with no response. One cousin was a Trisakti student. His brother lived in New York sent me a message asking if I had any news from Jakarta. Panic was in the air. Thank God that cousin was fine. He was trapped on campus and helped out his friends washed their faces when the tear gas was shot in. It was very emotional.

The next days, we joined the protest from a far. Sakti, Buce, Bang Uki, apa kabar? Talking to the consulate officers was really useless.

Where were you when the ‘great’ general stepped down? I remember cheering it proudly.

Then there was the void. It was empty and meaningless. Ten years later, that void is still around.

Suddenly, today we become the sentimental nation. Everyone seems to forget what happened during Reform. Forgiveness, seriously?

Sakti sent me a message…

“Wina ngapain pasang bendera ½ tiang? Bukannya kita dulu bareng Ganyang Suharto?”

Mate, there is paying respect and there is wanting justice. But there is absolutely no similarity between forgiving and wanting justice.

Bapak, I am a self proclaimed nationalist. I proudly raised the national flag to express mourning. Even though I have more very serious strong opinions for all the other presidents, I promise I will do the same when their times come up. More importantly, today I pay my respect to you as a national hero for fighting against the Dutch colonials.

Suddenly new fear came rushing in. I wonder if I will ever witness ‘what belongs to the nation’ returned in my lifetime…

~ lig ~


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