Category Archives: Legacy of the Distant Past

Goodbye Jogja : Part IV – The Faculty of Law

IV                   THE FACULTY OF LAW

the Community of International Moot Court: Charter Ratified

Finally, I entered the faculty of my dreams. Learning from my mistake two years earlier, I actually tried my best to study. I planned to dedicate the last three months to study but that didnt happen. But on the last two weeks, that was really a huge battle! Helped by James and Agnes, I studied day and night during that time.

An interesting experience happened while waiting for the exam time. The test would start at 9.30 am but I –along with most of the other test participants—have arrived since around 8am. There was this kid from Banyuwangi (son of a regional parliament member) whom was so desperate that he literally asked almost everyone in the area to teach him maths. Seriously? A competitor asking for help, while everyone else was having trouble with themselves? But I saw him ask almost everyone before reaching me (I sat in such a position that he had to cover more than two-thirds of everyone there to get to me).

Among so much that my dad had taught me, was that teaching others will help enhance your own understanding on the subject. But that was not in my mind. I am good at maths, and this person was desperate. How evil am I not to help him? I then found out that he was a direct competitor. When my application options were Law, Governmental Science, and International Relations, he opted for Governmental Science. Not to mention, he has opted that he would pay IDR 20 millions uang masuk if he gets in. Thats like more than twice the amount I opted!

I gave him one of the KFC Twisters I bought (yes, I bought three) because he told me that he has not eaten breakfast yet and he was trembling and panicking. Within the time remaining, I tried my best to teach him what could be taught. It was very unfortunate that he did not pass the test. However, I felt really lucky that I got in my first choice which is Law.

It was not as I imagined, though. My first class on Monday, 9am, was Introduction to Legal Science. Mrs Retno Supartinah lectured there. Going through my first years of law was very VERY difficult. All I could get is fragments and pieces of information which I ended up having to memorize –while memorizing like that is my weakest point. At the time, I just didnt get it. Even when I entered the department of International Law which I have dreamed about for so many years.

Then, the usual distractions came. As always, debating related events come every once in a while as my career in coaching and adjudicating escalated, as well as competition management in the region. Next, came a new activity which was Model United Nations. It uses my debating skills as a very basic material, but I can not use those skills as it is. I must modify and adjust it to the necessities of MUN.

Going to NTU Model United Nations (Singapore) with such a splended delegation: Qisthi, Dida, Enja, Moco, and Stephen, I learned so much new things which then also enhanced my debating skills. Unlike debating where you have to stick to your stance and can unleash the fullest extent of your creativity in public speaking, MUN requires us to negotiate (sometimes you take, sometimes you give), while maintaining an elegant and controled manner of speaking and use of language.

Returning from NTUMUN (in which I spent half of the conference time in the toilet DAMN YOU DOUBLE PROSPERITY BURGER), I only went to three local MUN events but won best delegate at all three of them. People always say that research is very essential in MUN, but I did research in neither of them. Not that I am being cocky, nor do I actually think that research should be dismissed. But the way I won those awards was through other ways, really disgusting and sly tactics in conduct of diplomacy and public speaking.

This activity made me realize that there is so much more to convincing people than mere logic. For example, in UGM Diplomatic Course and Table Manner 2010, there were two big blocks fighting against each other. One of them was led by my delegation (Spain), and the other was by Malta. Both of our draft resolutions want the same thing! We want to support the Greece Bailout and to accompany that with an austerity package. Then what was the difference?

Their draft was made with microsoft word, many pages, and printed out for everyone since mid way of the conference. It was very neat and comprehensive. How about the one that I and my partner (Aulia) made? It was handwritten with a pencil, with half a folio paper I found under my table, and we forgot to put a preamble. But my draft got majority and passed, Malta’s did not pass. F*ck logic, right?

As I have explained in the section of debating before on the importance of manners and style. It was from MUN that I learned about all this and tried to combine them. In fact, I have experimented on this before an audience of over 100 people in a debate workshop (UMY, 2011). We did a debate exhibition on euthanasia with outrageously bad arguments, I myself brought an argument which is generally even against most people’s conscience and morality (I said its a doctor’s duty to kill people). Rifky, by the way, went story-telling about a doctor named John for his entire speech with practically no arguments at all other than “John became a doctor because his father died of cancer. How would he feel if he is forced to kill his patients?”.

But the instructions to the exhibitters were to fully utilize their public speaking skills to the furthest extent possible. Roughly 95% of the audience actually thought it was a good debate, and gave best speaker to me and Rifky. Really, adjusting to the audience’s feelings actually worked. We constructed our arguments in such a way and manner that we appealed to their emotions to easen their mind to accept our (brutally-flawed) logic.

However, it was not until the end of 2010 when I had a life-turning experience. I was called to enter the international humanitarian law moot court team. Unlike national moot court competitions where we develop our own scenario and have a team of almost twenty students to perform a drama simulation of a court proceeding, this is more like a debate. Two teams will meet face-to-face, one as prosecutor and one as defendant, to either prosecute or defend an alleged war criminal before a tribunal. This is because my competition simulated a criminal trial. Other international moot courts could play as applicant vs respondent etc. Then we will plead before a panel of judges, where each of us must speak for around twenty minutes and the judges may interject at any time they please –which is a challenge way beyond debating.

What happened here was just too bizarre to be true. After a few weeks of practice, I was asked “what are the sources of international law”. I mentioned a few, and some of them were wrong. That was ridiculous! But then very intensive training continued and I improved a lot. Incidents happened. One of the biggest was when we planned to have a very extra intensive training on our last week, inviting lots of experts to assist our training for that period, Mount Merapi erupted and blew of all of our plans. We scattered and took refuge in different cities.

However, we somehow won the competition (along with the Best Memorials Award) and will represent Indonesia in the Asia Pacific level competition in Hongkong! That competition was more challenging, as there are more alleged crimes committed and there is a part where we must debate on legal theory. Unlike debating where we could simply say anything that sounds logical, we must understand the law behind our arguments. For a common person, maybe this sounds like “we must memorize all articles in conventions”. It is not wrong that we must memorize articles and conventions, but that is a mere small part of the whole problem.

International moot court pushes us to understand principles and logic of law, how to manage and interpret various sources of law along with their applicability, and not to mention how we assess the weight and value of the given facts in the case. Therefore coming home from Hongkong, I was a different person. All the pieces and fragments that I have memorized bit by bit and here and there from the first three years of my study? Suddenly everything came together. I understand everything now.

My semester GPAs in my first three years ranged from 2,8 to 1.3. But returning back from Hongkong, while having the busiest semester (I had two PLKHs AND an international moot court to fight in. Only law students would know how terrible that is), my GPA suddenly went 3.76 on that semester. Furthermore in the following semesters until my last semester a few months ago, my GPA had a dramatic and sudden incline. Special thanks to Mr Heribertus Jaka Triyana, the most outstanding and smartest lecturer I have ever met! Much and most of the experiences and knowledge and wisdom I have obtained are all owed to him.

As a small catch, international moot court did not only increase my GPA but also helped my understanding in argument construction. I managed to fully understand the das sollen and das sein principle and to apply it in arguments construction (or deconstruction), thus again contributed to my debating skills.

Another small catch was that it also gave me new friends. My first new friend was Uki. He came from EDS UGM, which I have explained what happened between me and EDS UGM. But we ended up being really good friends and actively discussing so many issues academically. These discussions were really full of quality and I emerged from them enlightened. Then I started to meet other friends which have nothing to do with debating, such as Pina, Kartika “Tweety” Paramita, Ririn, Yudis, Arby, Ichan, Giga, Diva, and so many others. Finally, I did have a life outside debating! Although of course, international moot court is simply another form of debate but F*CK YOU SHUT UP WHATEVER HAHAAHA.

But what was more important is the way I see law and legal science. What hit me most was the development of legal paradigm. There was a time when what people want was a law of justice and fairness, and in this time justice was carried out priests, kings, dictators, mullahs, and others. The reign of natural law. However, as Sudikno Mertokusumo identifies, the more it is just then the less it is certain –which also applies vice versa. People started getting sick of the uncertainty of the standard of what is just and what is not.

This is where legal positivism became very appealing. In fact, since the 19th century and to the development of modern law, legal positivism became the most common paradigm from which to construct a legal framework. This paradigm is hard to explain in short. But among the things that it provides would be legal certainty. The focus of legal positivism is to ensure that law is constructed in such a way that it follows a definite system so that one can calculate to a high level of certainty the legal consequence of their actions.

Among the manifestation of legal positivism, would be that there are hierarchies of sources of law where a lower law may not circumvent the higher law, and that there is clarity on which authoritative body has the competence to issue which kind of source of law. And that is under a system where the divisions of bodies within a government which is clear both in function as well as chain of responsibility and relation towards each other. A more down to earth example is that we already have a definition of what “thievery” means from Indonesia’s Criminal Code, and judges are bound to follow that definition.

However, as said earlier, the more certain it is then the less it is just. When natures of cases and occurrences in the society are extremely diverse  one can not simply generalize. Even when every district has their own law (provided that it still adheres to the hierarchy of law), there is always blank spots for injustice or perhaps even legal loopholes. This is where customary laws play in, as proof that natural law can not simply be totally ignored.

But there are times that even natural law can not fulfill justice, as the influence of positive laws are so extremely high. There are many ways to cheat the law legally. An example is how an employer can cheat minimum wages by dividing the hard labor into part time shifts –where minimum wages do not apply. This is not to mention how it is quite a common practice to manipulate the laws of evidence and crime in such a way that a crime could be done legally simply by adjusting the papers. An example of this is avoiding vicarious corporate responsibility in committing corruption by arranging subsidiary companies in such a way that it creates a limited liability within a limited liability (or even further, within a limited liability within a limited liability within a etc etc etc) that the line of responsibility is almost impossibly traced. Yes, guys, it is so hard to prove a corruption case even without any bribery involved (see my article on this subject here).

But then, as a person learned in the arts and knowledge of law, I understand that law is more than a set of written rules as pure positivists suggest. Even the most devoted positivist would agree that it is just wrong to interpret or understand the law in such a way that it contradicts the need of good prescribed in most (if not all) constitutions in the world.

Therefore, I find it very easy to distinguish a law or interpretation of a law which gives nothing but injustice. I do understand the background why legal positivism appeared, and under that notion it is just hard for a judge to ignore a positive law to adhere to his/her own personal sense of justice (just like the arguments of the defendants in the Judge’s Case before the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials).

However, to begin with, I believe that anyone who is learned well in the science of law would understand this. Thus further in practicing law, I believe they should carry out the law to at least mitigate injustice to the furthest extent possible. And legal scholars, being the ones who understand, must endeavor to the fullest to remind our politicians or even become politicians to construct positive laws with content that adheres to the true meanings of justice in its purest and kindest way.

In International Law, principles of Natural Law is held at a very high esteem. Despite positive laws being at the forefront in form of treaty laws, states can not avoid responsibilities from international customary laws (although, of course, many highlights of cases where it does go unpunished). In many cases, among them the ICJ: USA vs Nicaragua (USA lost, by the way), countries and individuals have been punished despite the fact that there were no positive laws applicable –but by the virtue of international customary laws. Legal theory brings it even to a further extreme. Starting from the Wimbledon case before the PCIJ in 1923, International Law started to recognize the Jus Cogens norms from which sovereignty and treaty law may can not circumvent. In fact, the Jus Cogens can quash a treaty null and void!

Much debates happen on the subject, however, much critics coming from the positivists. Even sometimes before the ICJ, the Jus Cogens argument has been ignored once or twice (see the Arrest Warrant case of Congo vs Belgium, which I really resent). This is a subject which I am highly interested in and wish to study further on.

For me, studying law is studying the institutionalization of “good” and “evil”. And from what I have learned, whatever instrument we use, it must as much as possible aim to do good. I believe that such commitment should be upheld by all legal scholars and practitioners.

During my last year in the Faculty of Law, I established the Community of International Moot Court (or CIMC) of Fakultas Hukum Universitas Gadjah Mada. Assisted by Rizky Wirastomo and Eldo Kredainou Alwi, we united the five international moot court delegations: ICRC IHL, Philips C. Jessup, IMLAM, C.Vis (East) and C.Vis (West) into one federation.

At the time I believed that international moot court activities should be institutionalized under one banner for better coordination and better funding. However, while drafting the charter along with Rizky and Eldo (before inviting other delegates of international moot court), I had something more in mind. I really wanted CIMC to be a community in law that practices law to the fullest extent, so that we actually apply our knowledge and become great lawyers.

Not only that we prepare for competitions, but we should also disseminate the knowledge of international law in each federate’s specific field. In that aim, we hold workshops and also established the first academic journal managed by undergrad students in Indonesia —Juris Gentium Law Review.

Other than that, during my regime as ad-interim president (because at the time, holding an election as mandated by the charter was not yet possible) I tried to establish a system where all rulings of the president and consul meetings are formalized in a certain format to accustom us to actually work as a legal system.

Finally, around May 2012, we held an election and inaugurated Thomas Peter Wijaya as the first president of CIMC. Under the banner of CIMC, international moot court kept on growing in UGM Faculty of Law, and we are expecting it to grow even further in the following years.

My hope is that this community, as I have said before, does not simply serve as a mere competition management. It must become a forum where we act and think like lawyers and legal scholars to actually do good for humanity. Yes it may sound utopic and altruistic, but I mean it.

(Next is the Finale. Goodbye Jogja : Part V – In The End, At The Start)

[TO RETURN TO THE FRONT PAGE]

Goodbye Jogja : Part V – In The End, At The Start

V                   In The End, At The Start

Glancing back to life in Jogja, a mixture of millions of different emotions fill my mind. I am now entering a very different phase of life and moving to an entirely different world –this time completely detached from that previous phase. For me, the previous phase was full of people whom were dedicated to care for us –or at least paid to do so, whatever the quality of their service eventually shows. Life was one class after another, despite having so many extracurricular activities.

Through out that time, one must really plan out their studies and activities especially for two particular purposes: identifying who they really are, and preparing whatever they can to ensure the significance of that identity they found.

After obtaining an undergraduate degree, I think people will move to a phase which many call “the real world”. Here, the only person that will want to care for us would be our parents and the government. They both may do it the wrong way, but they do –allegedly at least—try their best. But other than that, it is a huge battlefield. The purest display of homo homini lupus (a wolf is a homo to each other. They f*ck each other, depending which way is better) will be rampant. Everyone will be fighting against each other, maybe forming alliances whenever it is to their best interest only.

In a globalized era where everything moves so quickly, those who fails to keep pace will be trampled down by time and people. It is a basic theory of economy that there is simply not enough resources for all of us, so we must fight. In this phase of life, the power of pragmatism and the reality of the “survival of the fittest” doctrine will show its true strength.

From what I have learned in the Department of Physics, the feasibility of intentions rely on a cold and concrete logic of physics and mathematics. Anything could be done with enough energy, strength and momentum. There is no right or wrong, only possible or not. In fact through discussions with many parties, I learned that when you think you are right then there is no reason to associate with the wrong or even listen to them.

Furtherly from English Debating and Model United Nations, I learned that everything has two sides of perspective. Right or wrong is simply a matter of persuasion and negotiation. And under that notion, then we can have laws which are legally binding, teaches the Faculty of Law.

To this point, all seems in favor of a person to do as much as they can to fight in life’s battle only considering how to win –and if necessary, how to kill. Values of kindness and virtue and justice seem to fade away and even frowned upon as has become such an insignificant minority –in fact it has become an oddity.

However, I refuse to believe that such views are true. From the department of physics, I also managed to learn that universality does exist upon the relativity of truth, right, and wrong. It also brought upon me a brighter pathway to believe in God and His teachings, where then I find a purpose in the life after death. The fact that everything works in plain logic of physics is the perspective of a cold and soulless reality which is one that should not be shared by an entity claiming themselves to be “human”

From debating and model united nations, I understand that almost every argument presented are always in the name of the welfare of the international or national society. Despite the diversity of its practice, there is always a common good. This is exactly why argument and difference in opinion is a very good thing for a democracy. Just like islamic laws.

Interpretations may vary, but as long as they all aim for the purpose prescribed by the entirety of Sharia Law then it is not wrong. It is clear which argument seems to claim to be for the purpose of social welfare or Sharia Law but it is actually sugarcoated selfishness and bigotry. The fact that they can justify in many ways, only means that it is a challenge for the good to fight back and draw the line between the light and the dark.

From the faculty of law, as I have mentioned before, I learned that law is more than a positivistic set of rules which –according to Hans Kelsen—must be completely separated from concepts of justice and welfare or any other considerations behind the making of the law. Law is the institutionalization of good or evil, thus can not separate itself from them. Knowing all regulations is something that anyone can do, but scholars of law should know best that law is clearly so much more –or at least, should be so much more.

So this is who I am. Superman. No, really. In the sense that I believe that there should be a difference between good and bad. I believe that my role is to engage in the development in this concept, and to manifest it in works specifically in the sciences of law. In particular, in the fields of the philosophies and theory of law and international law. I find it important for people to know, especially lawyers –and not to mention that I really love teaching.

So this is who I found myself to be, and the way I fight for the significance of that identity. I am now trying my best, owing to the circumstances at this time, to fight my way to become a professor at law.

Today my faculty has lengthened my name to Fajri Matahati Muhammadin, S.H., but this is not the end of it. Someday that name will be Prof Fajri Matahati Muhammadin, S.H., LL.M., Ph.D., and I will not stop before I get that or die trying.

These are the lessons, dreams and values I have learned during my life in Jogja. With these lessons, dreams, and values, I am ready to fight on the battle of life as a person I have chosen to be.

Everything I got from Jogja could perhaps be summed up to what I said as my life motto in a video made by the Rectorate:

“Secara biologis, kematian adalah realitas yang harus kita terima. Tapi dalam kontribusi, kita dapat memilih untuk hidup selamanya”

(Biologically, death is a reality we must accept. But in contribution, we may choose to live forever)

.

.

Boarding time in any minute.

Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta, I thank you for everything.

Good bye!

.

[TO RETURN TO THE FRONT PAGE]

Goodbye Jogja : Part V – In The End, At The Start

V                   In The End, At The Start

Glancing back to life in Jogja, a mixture of millions of different emotions fill my mind. I am now entering a very different phase of life and moving to an entirely different world –this time completely detached from that previous phase. For me, the previous phase was full of people whom were dedicated to care for us –or at least paid to do so, whatever the quality of their service eventually shows. Life was one class after another, despite having so many extracurricular activities.

Through out that time, one must really plan out their studies and activities especially for two particular purposes: identifying who they really are, and preparing whatever they can to ensure the significance of that identity they found.

After obtaining an undergraduate degree, I think people will move to a phase which many call “the real world”. Here, the only person that will want to care for us would be our parents and the government. They both may do it the wrong way, but they do –allegedly at least—try their best. But other than that, it is a huge battlefield. The purest display of homo homini lupus (a wolf is a homo to each other. They f*ck each other, depending which way is better) will be rampant. Everyone will be fighting against each other, maybe forming alliances whenever it is to their best interest only.

In a globalized era where everything moves so quickly, those who fails to keep pace will be trampled down by time and people. It is a basic theory of economy that there is simply not enough resources for all of us, so we must fight. In this phase of life, the power of pragmatism and the reality of the “survival of the fittest” doctrine will show its true strength.

From what I have learned in the Department of Physics, the feasibility of intentions rely on a cold and concrete logic of physics and mathematics. Anything could be done with enough energy, strength and momentum. There is no right or wrong, only possible or not. In fact through discussions with many parties, I learned that when you think you are right then there is no reason to associate with the wrong or even listen to them.

Furtherly from English Debating and Model United Nations, I learned that everything has two sides of perspective. Right or wrong is simply a matter of persuasion and negotation. And under that notion, then we can have laws which are legally binding, teaches the Faculty of Law.

To this point, all seems in favor of a person to do as much as they can to fight in life’s battle only considering how to win –and if necessary, how to kill. Values of kindness and virtue and justice seem to fade away and even frowned upon as has become such an insignificant minority –in fact it has become an oddity.

However, I refuse to believe that such views are true. From the department of physics, I also managed to learn that universality does exist upon the relativity of truth, right, and wrong. It also brought upon me a brighter pathway to believe in God and His teachings, where then I find a purpose in the life after death. The fact that everything works in plain logic of physics is the perspective of a cold and soulless reality which is one that should not be shared by an entity claiming themselves to be “human”

From debating and model united nations, I understand that almost every argument presented are always in the name of the welfare of the international or national society. Despite the diversity of its practice, there is always a common good. This is exactly why argument and difference in opinion is a very good thing for a democracy. Just like islamic laws.

Interpretations may vary, but as long as they all aim for the purpose prescribed by the entirety of Sharia Law then it is not wrong. It is clear which argument seems to claim to be for the purpose of social welfare or Sharia Law but it is actually sugarcoated selfishness and bigotry. The fact that they can justify in many ways, only means that it is a challenge for the good to fight back and draw the line between the light and the dark.

From the faculty of law, as I have mentioned before, I learned that law is more than a positivistic set of rules which –according to Hans Kelsen—must be completely separated from concepts of justice and welfare or any other considerations behind the making of the law. Law is the institutionalization of good or evil, thus can not separate itself from them. Knowing all regulations is something that anyone can do, but scholars of law should know best that law is clearly so much more –or at least, should be so much more.

So this is who I am. Superman. No, really. In the sense that I believe that there should be a difference between good and bad. I believe that my role is to engage in the development in this concept, and to manifest it in works specifically in the sciences of law. In particular, in the fields of the philosophies and theory of law and international law. I find it important for people to know, especially lawyers –and not to mention that I really love teaching.

So this is who I found myself to be, and the way I fight for the significance of that identity. I am now trying my best, owing to the circumstances at this time, to fight my way to become a professor at law.

Today my faculty has lengthened my name to Fajri Matahati Muhammadin, S.H., but this is not the end of it. Someday that name will be Prof Fajri Matahati Muhammadin, S.H., LL.M., Ph.D., and I will not stop before I get that or die trying.

These are the lessons, dreams and values I have learned during my life in Jogja. With these lessons, dreams, and values, I am ready to fight on the battle of life as a person I have chosen to be.

Everything I got from Jogja could perhaps be summed up to what I said as my life motto in a video made by the Rectorate:

“Secara biologis, kematian adalah realitas yang harus kita terima. Tapi dalam kontribusi, kita dapat memilih untuk hidup selamanya”

(Biologically, death is a reality we must accept. But in contribution, we may choose to live forever)

.

.

Boarding time in any minute.

Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta, I thank you for everything.

Good bye!

.

[TO RETURN TO THE FRONT PAGE]

How Indonesia Got Our Freedom: Bambu Runcing

I can remember vividly how my Elementary School teachers used to say this:

“Indonesia berhasil memperoleh kemerdekaannya karena kekuatan dan keberanian para pendahulu kita”

(Indonesia won its independence through the strength and valor of our ancestors)

Well, I dont have problems there. Then it goes on.

Jepang sebenarnya akan memberikan kemerdekaan untuk kita. Tapi kita memilih untuk memerdekakan diri

(The Japanese would have given us our independence, but we chose to claim it ourselves)

Now comes the drama part.

Silih berganti, para penjajah berdatangan dengan senapan dan meriam mereka

(One after another, the invaders came with their guns and cannons)

And it goes on to this terrible, terrible, terrible statement.

Kita merebut kemerdekaan kita dari mereka, dengan hanya bermodalkan bambu runcing melawan senapan-senapan dan meriam-meriam mereka

(We snatched back our freedom from them, with mere bambu runcing in our hands against those guns and cannons of theirs)

Now what is this exquisite bambu runcing?

Here’s a picture of one.

Made of bamboo sticks, sharpened. And of course, with the famous panji merah putih (red and white standards) with it.

Badass.

I am not at all against the fact on how useful these things were. We poked a lot of those Dutch with these. Well, I do wonder how in the dramatizations our teachers love to only mention the bamboo. While a lot of us actually used swords, spears, and other non-bamboo. Oh, guns too, in fact. Teuku Umar, for instance, stole a hell lot of guns from the Dutch and used them to fight. And we can see many pictures of our national heroes and heroines in our history books holding things such as keris, rencong, badik, and more (check pics of Pangeran Diponegoro, Kapiten Pattimura, etc).

It was not debatable, however, that our heroes were outpowered by fire superiority by real far. Thus, we had so much trouble and fighting the Dutch was definitely not that easy.

But take a look of a picture of our independence day.

Any bamboos?

Boys and girls, no doubt that our past heroes used a lot of stuff including bambu runcing to try fight off the dutch and other invaders of our lands.

But in the end, it were scholars and pens and intelectual movements that brought us to where we are now. Therefore, kids, stop brawling and study well.

Just a final note. If bambu runcing were really the backbone of our resistance forces, thank God it wasnt CHINA who attacked us.

They’ll nom nom our bambu runcings.

*munch*

nGui

How Indonesia Got Our Freedom: Bambu Runcing

I can remember vividly how my Elementary School teachers used to say this:

“Indonesia berhasil memperoleh kemerdekaannya karena kekuatan dan keberanian para pendahulu kita”

(Indonesia won its independence through the strength and valor of our ancestors)

Well, I dont have problems there. Then it goes on.

Jepang sebenarnya akan memberikan kemerdekaan untuk kita. Tapi kita memilih untuk memerdekakan diri

(The Japanese would have given us our independence, but we chose to claim it ourselves)

Now comes the drama part.

Silih berganti, para penjajah berdatangan dengan senapan dan meriam mereka

(One after another, the invaders came with their guns and cannons)

And it goes on to this terrible, terrible, terrible statement.

Kita merebut kemerdekaan kita dari mereka, dengan hanya bermodalkan bambu runcing melawan senapan-senapan dan meriam-meriam mereka

(We snatched back our freedom from them, with mere bambu runcing in our hands against those guns and cannons of theirs)

Now what is this exquisite bambu runcing?

Here’s a picture of one.

Made of bamboo sticks, sharpened. And of course, with the famous panji merah putih (red and white standards) with it.

Badass.

I am not at all against the fact on how useful these things were. We poked a lot of those Dutch with these. Well, I do wonder how in the dramatizations our teachers love to only mention the bamboo. While a lot of us actually used swords, spears, and other non-bamboo. Oh, guns too, in fact. Teuku Umar, for instance, stole a hell lot of guns from the Dutch and used them to fight. And we can see many pictures of our national heroes and heroines in our history books holding things such as keris, rencong, badik, and more (check pics of Pangeran Diponegoro, Kapiten Pattimura, etc).

It was not debatable, however, that our heroes were outpowered by fire superiority by real far. Thus, we had so much trouble and fighting the Dutch was definitely not that easy.

But take a look of a picture of our independence day.

Any bamboos?

Boys and girls, no doubt that our past heroes used a lot of stuff including bambu runcing to try fight off the dutch and other invaders of our lands.

But in the end, it were scholars and pens and intelectual movements that brought us to where we are now. Therefore, kids, stop brawling and study well.

Just a final note. If bambu runcing were really the backbone of our resistance forces, thank God it wasnt CHINA who attacked us.

They’ll nom nom our bambu runcings.

*munch*

nGui

G 30 S PKI: From the Eyes of (Almarhum) H. Musa Affendy, S.H. (1931-2013)

This is a story about the 1st October 1965, as narrated by H. Musa Affendy, S.H., my grandfather from my dad’s side who passed away not so long ago, with some bits from Hj. Siti Maemunah Affendy, S.H., (my grandma), and retold by myself 4 years ago. I have added a few details that I either got afterwards or ones that I forgot to include at that time..

Before I start anything, I would like to introduce H. Musa Affendy S.H., and who he was. Born in the Island of Sumbawa on November 2nd, 1931, he become a very important figure to that island. From a very young age of 14 years old, he has been a school teacher and then a political activist in the region. Some important roles that he held were: senior member of the Islamic Labor Union, senior member of Masyumi, Chairman of Sumbawa Regional House of Representatives in the 1950s, and member of the Temporary People’s Consultative Assembly (MPRS) in the 1960s,

From that time, he became teacher and political mentor for so many people, including some very prominent figures such as Din Syamsudin (Chair of Muhammadiyah) and A.M. Fatwa (Former Vice-Chair of the Indonesian House of Representative and People’s Consultative Assembly) etc. He has been consulted to by many people (including the Sultan of Sumbawa) with regards to the political activities in Sumbawa.

After he retired from the Ministry of Education, he then become a court lawyer. Quite a senior one, who (together with O.C. Kaligis and other very senior lawyers) founded AAI (Asosiasi Advokat Indonesia). Since then, other than still active in political consultation, he has been active as a lawyer, dealing with numerous cases including some high profile cases (e.g. Bulog Gate etc) ranging from: marrital and inheritance disputes, domestic violence, corruption, labour law, and many other types of court cases.

I last met him at the 11th of July, 2013, saying goodbye because I was leaving for Jogja. I would only be gone for a few days, and would have arrived on the morning of the 15th of July by train (but it is tradition to say goodbye whenever anyone leaves the house, even if it is for less than a day). However, he did not seem to be able to wait for me to return.

After a relatively long and good life, he passed away very peacefully at home just before noon on 14th of July 2013. I took the earliest flight that I could get at that moment (which was a night flight) and arrived at home at 11pm. My house was already crowded with people and tears, all surrounding the body of the deceased H. Musa Affendy, S.H., to bid farewell to him, before his burrial which took place by the next day.

The reason why I really think his perspective may have some profound significance in the communist revolt was because of his role at the time. He was among the witnesses of history who was, at least to some extent, involved in the politics at the time.

Here goes………………….

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After Indonesia’s independence, three major powers came to front in the country. Nationalists, naturally because we just got our freedom, Islam, because a great majority of us were Muslims, and Communists, because we had quite a trauma with the liberals and apparently many of the people liked the idea.

Among the greatest parties at the time, was Masyumi with Islamic ideologies. And among their views, which are going to be highly relevant to this story, was that they did not trust Communism and their party: Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI). They had very bad track records throughout the world (was it Cambodia? The incident before 1965, I forgot) and also in Indonesia. 1926, 1948, PKI already revolted.

PKI had two big enemies: the army and the muslim parties. As previously mentioned, Musa was a prominent member of the Masyumi party, which was then disbanded. A conspiracy theory points this as PKI’s attempt (and partial success, at least), to get one of their enemy out of the way. Their greater enemy, though, was the army. History then reveals that the coup attempt of September 30, 1965, mainly targetted the army’s position in the country.

But Masyumi’s supporters were at large, which is why Soekarno appointed 4 ex-Masyumis as member of the Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat Sementara (Temporary House of Representative) post presidential decree. Musa was one of those appointed. The size of Masyumi’s supporters also became a concern of PKI, which may also bear some significance to what they planned after “neutralizing the threat of Dewan Jendral”. History also reveals that PKI would try to remove the army from the country by accusing this Dewan Jendral (or Council of Generals) of plotting a Coup.

Many may say that the Coupe attempt on 30th of September 1965, known as G30S PKI, was a conspiracy. Some say it involves CIA and Soeharto. Some others say that Soeharto was just a great Opportunist, and manipulating (in the sense of exaggerating) the facts of the Coupe making it sound more cruel than it actually was, to gain support.

But from what Musa Affendy knew, Masyumi saw it coming. He said that Communists are always like that. At first, they gathered enough support, secretly collecting and importing weapons, then suddenly make a Coupe which follows by massacres. He didnt say anything about the conspiracy theories, he seemed more tending to believe in the Soeharto being an Opportunist. This may be correct or incorrect, perhaps only God knows the real truth. Too much insidious matters surrounding this incident.

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Indonesia was (unknowingly) counting days before that major incident, around one month, actually, when suddenly one of Musa’s former students came to stay at his house. This man was a PKI member. Just like old friends, they discussed and debated every day. Of course, Musa was a Masyumi and the ex-student was PKI. But it remained as an intellectual discussion.

Lt General Ahmad Yani, a prominent general at the time (Commander of the Armed Forces) visited the area and made a speech, which includes reminding the potential threat of PKI. Well, this guy ended up among the 6 Generals killed also on the G30S incident. Musa and his ex-student watched this speech. Musa asked what does he think about the speech, and the dude simply said he did not agree.

A few days prior 30th September 1965, the ex-student disappeared and was never to be found until today. But one can guess where he ended up.

Then, the Coup attempt happened on 30th September night. Ahmad Yani, D.I. Panjaitan, S.Parman, MT Haryono, Soeprapto, and Soetoyo Siswomiharjo, 6 generals were kidnapped. Ahmad Yani and Panjaitan died on the spot, the others were killed by the next morning. Abdul Haris Nasution was also targetted, but escaped. Though at the expense of his daughter (Ade Irma Suryani) shot on spot and his bodyguard (Pierre Tendean) who was kidnapped along with the 6 generals. They claim that these were members of the Dewan Jenderal who was about to coupe and PKI has managed to deal with them.

(Fun fact: all generals targeted were the most prominent military figures, but they somehow –God knows deliberately or not- missed one big figure, which apparently grew bigger after this incident. Guess who)

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The question was, what saved the country from the coup? Was it that Indonesia’s pancasila was THAT strong to be replaced by communism? Was it Soeharto’s military operation?

History may have many versions there. But what Musa Affendy said, was that the savior was a heroic story but seemingly side-story in our history.

The idea of the coupe was not simply about kidnapping 7 generals and claiming they managed to stop a coupe. “They were radical Communists”, Musa told me, “and they do what they do best”. Throughout the country, they secretly dug large holes in places people dont see. What for?

For bodies. PKI bases all around the nation have picked targets. People who were public figures and activists who’s ideology would harm Communism while they had influence –among which would be the muslims especially the former Masyumi activists. They tail and gather info of these targets before waiting for the signal from PKI Central Command.

Now, try guess. What was that ex-student of Musa doing in his house?

Back to story. So all they waited for to massacre all these people and take over the country holistically, was a signal from PKI Central Command. What was this signal? It comes to the story of Sarwo Edhi Wibowo (Our president’s father in law, aint he?), from RPKAD now known as Kopassus.

1st October, was the great day –or planned so- of PKI. The President Elite Guard, Cakrabirawa, which was infiltrated by PKI (they also did the kidnapping), had occupied the office of RRI (Indonesian National Radio station). But Sarwo Edhi and his army managed to defeat the Cakrabirawa in that office and retook the station. This part was stated in history, but what did this story mean?

PKI occupied RRI so that after they have “removed the threat of Dewan Jenderal”, they would announce it to the whole country. This is not just a propaganda to gain sympathy. But this was the signal for the PKI forces all around the country to “do their job”. And as I have mentioned before, RPKAD forces managed to re-take the office. The signal never came out, and the coupe failed.

I dont know was it me not studying enough, or it is true that history did not appreciate that act that much. Or it was to cloud other important figures so that only one was shining. Guess who.

My personal opinion is that this is the part of story which is most heroic of all. Saving thousands even maybe millions of lives, and one big life of a whole nation. The most important tide-turner of the story, where it then made the biggest difference in history.

So then, PKI only managing to do half of their job, and failing to do the support gaining and massacre, and the national army highly enraged, things went really bad for PKI.

Engineered by the army and some other parties, up to a million of PKI members throughout the nation were hunted down and massacred and buried in the holes that PKI themselves dug. This is why I could make a probably pretty good guess on where did Musa’s student go. Sad. As bad as PKI were, but the doers of this massacre were Indonesian societies. We went barbaric and uncivilised.

The PKI members were loaded on numerous and large military trucks and brought to the jungles, where the holes (which the PKI themselves had dug) were waiting. While in some locations the PKI members were lined up and shot, Musa told me about some monstrous instances. In these instances, vast masses of people were waiting with all sorts of weapons: swords, spears, axes, and many others.

When the PKI members were unloaded from the trucks, not all of them reached the ground with their souls still intact to their body. Musa tells me that the masses were screaming with rage as they butchered the PKI members. Some even paused to lick the blood on their swords before continuing to slash through the PKI. It bewilders him (and me too) that people could be THAT enraged, so much, that it would turn people to beasts.

How did people become so angry? What level of counter-propaganda was launched to the society? Musa was not particularly clear on this matter, but did mention how it was the army that somehow provoked the people. At the time, there was indeed a very large contest between the army and PKI in both politics and control of the grassroots.

(Fun Fact: yes, genocide happened in our country. Just a thought. Why did nobody complain about this in the international world? Because they understood our situation? One argued because the situation was stabilised soon though. Only recently, the case resurfaced but we do not witness any concrete follow-ups to this date)

Due to this very unstable condition, came out the Supersemar 1966 order from Soekarno to Soeharto to stabilise the condition by any means, which is still highly controversial until today. Which then lead to Soeharto being president after some other incidents.

There are many theories about why G30S PKI happened. Some link it to CIA and Soeharto, especially for those who are interested in history AND have read Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins, leading to a 100% difference in Indonesia’s Governmental Policies domestic and foreign. Some just think some people are at the right and wrong time and place. As I said previously, too much dark insidious matters surround the incident, while the implications are very profound indeed.

But this is probably a perspective (plus some hints on theories :P) from a man who was there at the time, plus some spices from his grandson.

Hope its useful

May Allah bless your soul, Opa!