When the monetary crises and the students power has led to the fall of the Indonesian strongest dictator General (retd.) Suharto–who ruled Indonesia for 32-odd years–Indonesia for the first time during my life-time became the poster boy of contemporary world media for a good reason. it became the headlines everywhere. world major TV stations were covering it and anything about Indonesia live almost 24 hours for few days. During which all major TV stations like CNN and BBC competed each other to get the best possible personalities and experts to talk to and giving expertise commentary on Indonesia.
And who’re the best persons that could represent and talk about Indonesia other than Indonesians themselves? Who knows the most about Indonesians mind, culture, customs and faiths other than Indonesians themselves who live, eat, drink, talk and observe their faith and custom as Indonesians? Any foreigner can claim him/her-self as an expert on Indonesia. And they (the foreigners) can claim that they are the experts on Indonesia based on their 20-odd years stay in the country. yet, have you (Indonesians) ever seen their commentary without any bias? Never. See one by one the full list of foreign bloggers who talk a lot about Indonesia in the footer of this page (under “Non-Indonesian Blogger on Indonesia”) and you’ll find out that they talk for their own audiences; not for us – Indonesians. and therefore, you cannot and should not expect them to talk for you, my fellow Indonesians, to represent your voice to the world.
Unfortunately, however, not many Indonesian experts can speak and write well in English. And that’s why on those historical days CNN and BBC interviewed many foreign political analysts who got expertise on Indonesia and talked to very few Indonesian political commentators. Among the few was Wimar Witoelar [pron: weemaar weetoolar]. His fluency in English both in writing and speaking made him very much in demand on those days. And I myself pretty much enjoyed the way he talked and gave interview to the foreign audiences which truly represent the realities and the truth on the ground; and highly understand what the Indonesian feel.
He’s a popular figure in Indonesia. Having hosted a talk-show on an Indonesia TV channel called Perspektif. So, beside being an Indonesian, his interview with many Indonesian experts and politicians has made him very knowledgeable on Indonesia political as well as socio-cultural matters. We are very fortunate to have him stand out and being interviewed so many times by foreign media, print or audio-visual alike.
And it’s even more fortunate for us, the blogger community, that he’s turned his website into a blog, a step that gives us an opportunity to interact with him directly. In his blog, you can read various articles written by himself or others on Indonesia in English or Bahasa Indonesia.
Besides, he also put the transcript of his interview conducted by some foreign tv channels mostly Australia Channels. One of the interesting interviews conducted recently (Nov 2) is his interview with ABC Asia Pacific entitled “Where Australians Misunderstand Indonesia” which i think a must-read transcript for any bloggers – Indonesian or Australian alike.