Tue, 23 May 2000

Habibie Center for the people

The presence of the Habibie Center and the Habibie Comet in the firmament cannot help but rekindle memories of the Habibie era, during which he was the head of state.

Speaking in a television interview on the evening of May 21, he said that these days he preferred to be seen as a scientist more concerned with social and political phenomena in society than as an ambitious man keen to sit in a government saddle again. The Habibie Center plans to reach out its hand to help Indonesia develop its human resources potential. It also might be expected to develop scientific research activities for the benefit of the common people.

I do not think that the center should concentrate its endeavors on aerodynamics, such as designing a prototype of an intergalactic vehicle or rockets which can take the Indonesian flag to the Mars or Jupiter's moon. Or looking for inter- planetary creatures.

Instead I like to see scientists and researchers look for formulas on how to produce affordable alternative energy to replace the depleting petrol and kerosene. Or ways to make electricity from solar energy more available in rural areas. Perhaps turning salty sea water into drinking water should also deserve attention.

But the most practical element of the Habibie Center seems to be to provide scholarships to brilliant students with limited means to advance. There is a need for more Indonesians to receive a Nobel Prize for their achievements, sooner or later.

To be crowned with immortality is the right of every leader and genius in his or her field. But in politics and social life it is imperative that examples of sacrifice and personal integrity are set out so others will respect and follow you.

Hopefully, the Habibie Center will help produce Indonesians with character, who are not merely chasing power and wealth which will diminish soon or later like that of Soeharto; Indonesians who are true to their principles. Developing and looking after immortal values and honesty must be the obsession of every democrat and future Indonesian leader in the service of the community.