Tue, 05 Aug 2003

Searching for meaning

As Indonesia's Independence Day on Aug. 17 draws near, a huge number of people, mostly ordinary citizens, many of whom are still struggling to keep their heads above the "economic water", are asking each other: Where is the Golden Bridge promised by the founders of this republic and the idealistic leaders of the birth of the nation?

Indonesians were hopefully happy when told at the beginning of nationhood that independence was not the ultimate goal of the struggle against colonialism. Independence should be seen as what the leaders eloquently described as a "Golden Bridge", which would lead to justice and social welfare, to the uplifting of the downtrodden, to the prosperity of the oppressed, notably the millions of landless farmers.

Now after a 58-year period of trial and error since Indonesia's independence proclamation in 1945, the promised Golden Bridge is nowhere to be seen. Unemployment remains high, education has become a luxury for many, most cities are full of displaced persons, factories have been relocated or closed down. The promise of the Golden Bridge, as the road map to people's prosperity, has not been heard again.

To everybody's surprise, however, for those fortunate few who managed to become, reportedly through dark manipulation, a special bridge has now been erected over which they can pass freely to more power and more wealth.

Those who have declared themselves to be suitable candidates for the 2004 direct presidential elections, for instance, are running across this special bridge like "mad cows", as if there is no more important thing to do. Many citizens are asking why so many influential intellectuals, politicians, scientists, economists, journalists and artists wrongly believe that the best way to serve the country and the community is only through the posts of president and vice president, instead of through exemplary honesty, dedication and professionalism?

It seems correct to say that they have removed the promised Golden Bridge for the people and have erected a Bally Bridge of their own making in its place. Fortunately, there are still enough modest sensible and competent Indonesians left who have not lost their minds.