It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog entry – excluding the movie reviews that I post from time to time and posts about my thoughts about God, faith, or life in general. Academic life keeps me well-occupied – with thesis to write, data to analyse and think about as well as other side projects to manage and deliver. I thought I’d write something about the upcoming presidential election especially as it is related to my family as well.
It is with great amusement that I follow the discussions among my family members in our Blackberry Group and WhatsApp about the election. Even mum who is in her 70’s has embraced the electronic media with gusto. She would post a message in the morning with the greeting that is popularised by one of the presidential candidate. Even my sisters are on the topic as well – sharing clips and tidbits that they receive from their friends and acquaintances. Well, the whole country is having election fever at the moment – my Facebook wall is full of posts on the upcoming election. I am staying out of it as I am a bit uneasy about idolising someone way too much as being the saviour for the whole country. I know that the candidate that my family prefers would be my preference as well, had I still been allowed to vote. However, I just know the mammoth task ahead of him and I’ve been disappointed by putting too much hope on a certain party or personnel.
I still remember way back in 1999, as one of the yuppies in a large multinational bank in Jakarta, Indonesia – one year after the riot that rocked the capital city and the nation. After President Soeharto was toppled, we had our first ‘free’ election that was greeted by the whole country in euphoria. I backed one of the parties that was certainly very popular with Indonesians who believe in a pluralistic and yet united Indonesia. I still remember walking along the main thoroughfare in Jakarta, Jalan Jendral Sudirman, with thousands of people – along with the Director of the department and other staff members. We saw the people walking through the street from our office up in the tower and impulsively, we decided to come down and join the march. I was caught in the euphoria, even wearing a hat in the shape of buffalo horns – complete with my business shirt and tie as I joined the crowd. People who saw us gave us the thumbs up for wanting to join the movement. There was a sense of camaraderie, of unity. I was not seen as a Chinese Indonesian – a foreigner in my (former) home country – but a compadre.
The euphoria was unfortunately rather short lived – Indonesia continues to pass on one complex puzzle from one generation to the next. As we continue to wait – albeit unrealistically – for somebody, a single person, to deliver the whole country out of misery, we continue to put our hope from one idol to the next. Don’t get me wrong, I do hope that the next Indonesian president can slowly inch the sick elephant to the next glory days – I just think that it’s going to be way difficult.
As much as I hate to admit it, I do like talking about politics, and having an office mate who is even more passionate about politics has made me more aware of the political issues. This interest is also shared by my siblings and my mum. Maybe we have it in our blood. In this season of political circus and tomfoolery, I miss dad. The more alert, passionately Chinese yet staunchly Indonesian version of him. He would be wise to temper his views outside (due to his life’s experiences) but at home when we watched the evening news, he would’ve given his commentaries about politics and the presidential candidates and which one that we all should vote for. I would’ve been genuinely interested in what he has to say about what is happening in Indonesia.
Three years ago on 5th of June 2011, we lost him. A stubborn, bright, and loving father. He spoke in a love language that all the children recognised and yet found it hard to translate. I inherited so much from him that I could only recognise in my own life in my latter years.
He would’ve liked the upcoming presidential election and I miss not having him in situations such as these.