Fri, 05 Aug 1994

Freedom seen requisite for cultural progress

JAKARTA (JP): Freedom of speech plays an important role in the development of any culture, a leading Dutch literature critic says.

Professor Andries Teeuw told The Jakarta Post yesterday that in Western society airing an opinion against a government's particular policy is a common practice.

"Freedom of speech is an absolute requisite for cultural development," said the professor who has been a teacher and critic of modern Indonesian culture for more than 40 years.

He said that governments which intended seeing the progress among its people should grant the freedom to think critically in such fields as science and culture. Literary works, he said, also consist of criticisms although conveyed in an implicit way.

Teeuw, who taught at the Leiden University in the Netherlands, said that conflicting opinions should be discussed and taken into account.

The case is different if the opinion has turned into an insult, but still it should be the courts, not policy makers, which should declare whether it was insulting, he added.

Teeuw was speaking during a visit to Pramoedya Ananta Toer, one of Indonesia's internationally acclaimed writers, at the latter's home in East Jakarta.

The professor has been studying Pramoedya's works since 1950 when he reviewed Gerilya or guerrilla. Regarding the novel, Teeuw wrote: "...this is the first Indonesian novel which is truly valuable." (par)