October 2 is National Batik Day (Hari Batik Nasional) in Indonesia. Jarrah Sastrawan is a Balinese-Australian who attended primary school in Bali and has lived in Sydney since. His research interests include the traditional historiography of Southeast Asia, as well as the 20th century history, modern literature and regional popular music of Indonesia. This article is Jarrah’s ‘ode’ to National Batik Day.
If I were an Indonesian public servant, the hardest part for me would not be juggling political interests, climbing the patrimonial hierarchies, or running departments on a shoestring. It would be deciding which of my dozens of batik shirts to wear every Friday, when bureaucrats are obliged to wear batik to work. While most visitors to Bali bring home suntans, paintings or handsome waiters, I bring suitcases of batik shirts, sarongs and scarves. From the subdued colours and stylised imagery of central Java, the brightly-coloured naturalistic figures of the Javanese and Sumatran coasts, to the innovative southern Sulawesi designs modelled on the region’s traditional alphabet, I’ve got to collect them all.
Batik is the technique of tracing or stamping patterns of wax onto cloth and dyeing it so that the patterns appear in the negative. This process can be repeated to produce complex designs of overlapping colours. The term also refers to the motifs associated with this traditional technique, even if the dyeing itself is done using modern screen-printing methods. It’s unclear whether batik was an import from India or whether it emerged in Indonesia independently. Java appears to have the longest tradition of producing batik cloths in the region, as archaeologists have found 13th century Javanese statues wearing cloth patterns similar to what we see today.
Batik shows enormous regional variety. What many people picture when they think of batik are the styles of Yogyakarta and Solo. These central Javanese traditions tend to use a limited palatte of three colours (white/cream, indigo and brown), repetitive patterns with strong diagonal lines, and deep symbolic significance attached to many of the conventional motifs. The north coast of Java was an extremely productive area, with the trading cities of Pekalongan, Cirebon, Lasem, Tuban and Gresik all inventing their own distinctive styles. The coastal patterns make use of strong shades of red, and contain more diverse and more realistic representations of flora and fauna than those of central Java. Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, Chinese-Indonesian and Dutch entrepreneurs played a central role in developing and marketing batik to an eager Indonesian and international market. In the early decades of Indonesian independence, successive governments built on this market to promote batik as a national dress that was the cultural heritage of all Indonesians, including people such as the Balinese who had never really made it before.
Batik continues to thrive by adapting to contemporary interests: today you can buy shirts that combine your favourite Yogyakarta motifs with the emblem of whatever European football team you barrack for. Some pieces of batik are stunning handmade works of art costing thousands of dollars, while others are basement-bin items so lurid that they put the loudest Hawaiian shirts to shame. Politicians often stress that young people need to wear batik in order preserve traditional culture, but that seems needlessly defensive to me. I may not be an Indonesian public servant, but I do have fifty-two Friday batik shirts to get me all the way to next year’s National Batik Day.
On Monday 21 September 2015, AIYA Western Australia together with the Australian Society for Sports History held a special Basa Basi event with professional football (soccer) player Robbie Gaspar. Robbie was the first Australian footballer to play professionally in Indonesia, and played in Indonesia for seven years including playing for one of Indonesia’s biggest football clubs, Persib Bandung. He currently works as a FIFPro (International Federation of Professional Footballers) consultant and is studying a Bachelor of Accounting and Asian Studies degree at Murdoch University. Robbie was not there that night to discuss his own achievements as a player, but rather to offer an insight into what has gone wrong with Indonesian football and what can be done to see the game progress in this football-mad nation.
Club Management and Non-Payment of Players
The first topic Robbie addressed on the night was the management, or rather, mismanagement of the Indonesian football leagues and clubs, including non-payment of players. Robbie explained how in 2011 the situation became increasingly more difficult in Indonesia, as a rival administration the Indonesian Football Saviour Committee (Komite Penyelamat Sepak Bola Indonesia, KPSI) was set up in opposition to the Indonesian Football Association (Persatuan Sepakbola Seluruh Indonesia, PSSI). The KPSI established their own football league as they were from rival political affiliations to those governing the PSSI. Instead of making football more competitive in Indonesia, this rival league led to further complications for the Indonesian national team (Timnas). PSSI did not recognise the legitimacy of the league that they created and therefore players from the league were ineligible to play for the national team. Robbie argues that the motivations of the people in charge were political rather than in the interest of the national competition.
Robbie talked candidly regarding the problems in the administration of the PSSI. He told of how officials and players used to have to go and meet then PSSI Chairman Nurdin Halid in jail as he continued to run the PSSI from his prison cell. The current PSSI Chairman La Nyalla Mattalitti also appears to have a suspect past with Robbie commenting, “the less said about the current PSSI Chairman the better.”
The issue of non-payment of players is widespread in Indonesian football, with Indonesia currently ranked first in the world for non-payment of players. Robbie spoke passionately about how players from some clubs go months without being paid. Worse still, there have been five players who have lost their lives due in part to not being paid. Robbie gave the example of Diego Mendieta, a Paraguayan footballer playing for Persis Solo who tragically lost his life from a common treatable illness. Mendieta had not been paid for four months by the club and did not have enough money to finance his medical treatment. In the end it was the club’s own fans who raised money for Mendieta, but it was all too late to save him. One of the problems for local players is that they cannot take non-payment claims to FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC). As a result, there is little accountability on behalf of those responsible for the payment of players.
Although Robbie admitted that match-fixing was a fairly common occurrence in Indonesian football, he argues it was often the match officials rather than the players who engaged in it. He explained that before the non-payment of players became an issue, it was simply assumed that in away matches you were playing against 14 players (the 11 opposition and 3 match officials) rather than 11. One club, Persewa Wamena (Papua), for instance did not lose a home game in five years. When Robbie’s team drew against them away from home, the team celebrated as though they had won the league. The correlation between the non-payment of players and officials also saw a rise in the number of incidents of players engaging in match-fixing. When the Federation do not take care of players, they often feel that they have no other alternative. Robbie believes match-fixing amongst players became more prevalent in 2011-2012 due to the problems at the administrative level of Indonesian football and the political fighting between the two rival administrations. Greater accountability in the payment of players would help to reduce the problems of match-fixing and also lead to closer scrutiny of officials.
Scheduling and Travelling
Scheduling and travelling is also a major difficulty in Indonesia. For instance, Robbie recalls a time where he had to play 13 games in 43 days including an 18-hour trip from Papua to Malang. The structuring of the fixtures demonstrates how little the federation appears to care about the welfare of the players. All of the games are squeezed into a very short period, followed by a whole month without any scheduled matches. One season of the regular season once took 14 months to complete. The PSSI need to organise a more professional league schedule if Indonesia is to reach its full potential. There must be consistency in scheduling and enough time for players to rest and recover. Perhaps playing more games in the evening, such as what is done in Malaysia, would also help combat the strains caused by high humidity and travel pressures..
Robbie outlined the lack of facilities and junior development as another barrier to success. He spoke about how pitches are kept in awful condition and this leads to player injuries and decreased quality of matches. A major reason for this is the lack of irrigation and drainage of pitches. One time there was no rain in Balikpapan for three months and Robbie told us how the pitch had become so dry that the players could no longer use their moulded studs and had to instead use their futsal shoes. Given that Indonesia has a tropical climate with a wet and dry season, pitch quality often becomes a major problem due to flooding or lack of rain. One idea Robbie suggests to overcome this challenge would be to adopt synthetic pitches (such as what they have done in Russia).
Indonesia could take its cues from its regional neighbours, who have developed quality youth development programs. It is not only the senior players who need better access to facilities, but also the up-and-coming talent. For instance, in Thailand no team can take part in the national league unless they have their own training facilities. Thailand’s national team has now passed Indonesia in the FIFA world rankings. Whereas, Thai players used to come to play in Indonesia it is now Indonesian players wanting to play in Thailand. Neighbouring countries such as Malaysia have started setting up football academies to develop their young players. The development of good quality coaches with professional qualifications will also help to develop the game in Indonesia.
Sponsors also need to start investing in Indonesian football. For instance, if you watch the English Premier League you will often see billboards with Indonesian sponsors (some even written in Indonesian). However, these sponsors also have a responsibility to help the national league in Indonesia and need to start investing in the local game.
One aspect that Robbie would not change is the passion of the fans. He described the Indonesian fans as being from a “different class”. Wherever you play the stadiums are full and there passion is unrivalled. Robbie said the biggest game he was ever involved in was the derby between Persib Bandung and Persija Jakarta, known locally as the El Clásico. Even though he played in front of 90,000 fans in the Malaysian Cup final, he said that the atmosphere amidst the 65,000 fans at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium that day was the most amazing atmosphere he had ever experienced on a football field.
After his talk, time was given to the audience to ask questions of Robbie. The audience was very engaged as people asked questions about the ownership of football clubs in Indonesia, ways to improve the scheduling, as well as suggesting other leagues Indonesia could use as examples of success. One interesting point raised was the lack of involvement of the Football Federation Australia (FFA) in helping develop the game in Indonesia and Asia more broadly. Despite, Australia agreeing to help with the development of football in the Asian region when it joined the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in 2006. One audience member asked a very pointed question; after all that has been said, do you think Indonesia realises it is the sleeping giant of world football? Robbie’s answer was an adamant “yes”. Indonesia just needs to realise its potential.
A big thank you to AIYA WA President Matthew Satchwell, Australian Society for Sports History’s WA chapter coordinator Christopher Egan and of course Robbie Gaspar for putting on a great event.
Another successful CAUSINDY has drawn to a close! Delegates leave Darwin with a new appreciation of the history and future of Indonesia’s economic and cultural engagement with Northern Australia. Check out @causindy on Twitter to look back at the conversation, or listen to CAUSINDY Managing Director Karina Akib chat to Monocle 24 [start 24:00m] about what this year’s conference was all about.
Eid Al-Adha is an important and special commemoration for our Muslim friends. It’s the most significant celebration for our Muslim friends after Eid Al-Fitr. What does Eid Al-Adha mean?
In this momentous Muslim celebration, we learn to understand the readiness of Prophet Ibrahim (or well known in the Bible as Abraham) to offer his own son in compliance with God’s will, even though God prefers him to sacrifice sheep instead of Ibrahim’s son. Eid Al-Adha is a celebration of this exceptional example of submission to God, which is the pillar of the Islamic faith. Furthermore, in the Arabic language, the word Islam means “submission”.
Indonesian people honour the Eid Al-Adha with not only spiritual but also with joyful spirit. The date of Eid al-Adha commemoration also differs worldwide in line with the Islamic lunar calendar and in Indonesia it will be celebrated this year on September 24.
For many countries with a majority Muslim population, Eid al-Adha is a public holiday which is marked by family gatherings, prayers and animal sacrifice. Many of my Muslim friends in Indonesia honour this special day by cooking together with their loved ones and preparing the meat in the spirit of Eid celebrations as a symbol of Ibrahim’s sacrifice to Allah (God).
Moreover, the Eid al-Adha celebration starts with morning prayers, followed by visits to family and friends also the exchange of gifts and foods. In the spirit of Eid Al-Adha, our Muslim friends also share their money and food with impoverished people so they can enjoy and engaged too in the Eid al-Adha observance.
Eid also represents the end of Hajj, the yearly pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. What is Hajj? It’s the spiritual journey for our Muslim friends, to Mecca, the most religious Islamic site and is an important part of Moslem’s faith. Based on the Al-Quran, all Muslims who have enough money should travel to Saudi Arabia at least once in their life. Annually, 2 million Muslims will do the pilgrimage and stand in front of Kaaba, a shrine created by the Prophet Ibrahim and pray to God.
The pilgrimage ritual will be performed for five days, and the people will now be called as “Hajjs”, a phrase to honour those who completed the pilgrimage. In addition, the tough five-day hajj has the purpose to clean the devoted of sin. Furthermore, there is a saying from Prophet Muhammad in which he says, “a person who accomplished Hajj properly will come back as newly born spirit that is free from all sins” (seseorang yang selesai menuntaskan haji akan terlahir kembali sebagai jiwa baru yang terbebas dari dosa).
The Muslim community who experiencing Eid al-Adha not only become stronger in their spiritual state, but also they learn the true meaning of God’s love and mercy by also sharing their food and money to the underprivileged people. The spirit of Eid al-Adha strengthens the Muslim community worldwide. In conclusion, Eid al-Adha is truly remarkable month to have spiritual experience with God, to be closer with your loved ones and to practice valuable lessons of humanity.
Let’s listen to the experiences of our Indonesian friends who celebrate Eid Adha :
“Eid Al-adha celebration to me might not be as festive as Eid Al-fitr where I can gather with my family and relatives, but it is a great reminder to us how the Prophet Ibrahim sacrificed his son, Ismail, for Allah. As a way to celebrate this, my family and relatives usually purchase cows and goats, sacrifice them and then give their meat away to the less fortunate people instead of enjoying it ourselves. Hopefully in the future, every person that is well-off could all celebrate Eid Al-adha will the less fortunate ones.”
Annisa Sabran :
“Eid Al-adha for me is about sacrifice. The act of loving Allah more than yourself, more than your family, more than your friends and more than your loved ones. The ultimate symbol of unconditionally loving your God.”
“Eid Al-adha always reminds me that sharing is caring, because not everyone can enjoy good food everyday, especially because meat is quite expensive in Indonesia. I am also reminded to be grateful to God, in a sense that we got the opportunity to share to others.
Our thoughts are with all those celebrating Eid Al-adha.
Dari makna dibalik namanya, pemberian nama Tulus bukanlah kebetulan belaka.
tulus|tu·lus| sungguh dan bersih hati (benar-benar keluar dari hati yang suci); jujur; tidak pura-pura; tidak serong; tulus hati; tulus ikhlas.
Sincere|adjective|sin·cere| \sin-ˈsir, sən-\ | having or showing true feelings that are expressed in an honest way; genuine or real: not false, fake, or pretend.
Gagal Berteman dengan Tulus
Perjalanan ini dimulai ketika saya dan kawan saya Tim Flicker mendapati bahwa Tulus termasuk dalam line-up Soundsekerta 2015 yang akan diadakan pada hari Minggu, 13 September 2015. Karena kami berdua adalah penggemar berat lagu balada sentimentil, kami pun sepakat berkomplot untuk mencari cara agar Tulus mau menerima kami sebagai sahabat hidupnya. Strategi kami adalah mengajak Tulus mengamen di depan Victoria State Library di suatu senja yang mudah-mudahan cerah. Saya pun berpikir alangkah indahnya sore itu apabila ia juga bersedia menyanyikan lagu ulang tahun untuk saya dan kami semua kemudian mengakhiri hari dengan nongkrong bareng di bar favorit kami di Hardware Lane.
Demi mematangkan rencana tersebut, sejumlah bala bantuan pun diturunkan dalam usaha ini. Salah satunya adalah seorang gitaris pengamen Melbourne asli Banyumas bernama Alfeus Christantyas yang bertugas mempersiapkan lahan untuk debut mengamen Tulus di benua kanguru nantinya. Kemudian kami juga berhasil menarik perhatian tim manajemen penyanyi tersebut dengan daya pikat seorang kawan sineas bule berbahasa Indonesia, Miko Holt, yang menawarkan bantuan untuk syuting video perjalanan mereka. Saat itu kami merasa kemenangan sudah di depan mata, impian kami akan segera terwujud. Namun, apa daya, ternyata pada akhirnya mereka tidak begitu tertarik dengan segala rencana akal bulus kami. Mereka justru lebih tertarik pada ketulusan hati Miko dalam membantu mereka mendokumentasikan perjalanan ini.
Berkembangnya Tulus Menjadi Seorang Maestro Bujuk Rayu
Visi masa depan saya menjadikan Tulus sebagai man of honour di pesta pernikahan saya kandaslah sudah. Walaupun begitu kami tetap menikmati rangkaian acara Soundsekerta 2015. Konser itu adalah pengalaman pertama saya menonton Tulus secara langsung, dan subhanallah, Tulus itu memang terlahir untuk berada di atas panggung. Pagelaran musik malam itu dihadiri tidak kurang dari 1.800 penonton, namun persona panggungnya membuat kami semua merasa seakan-seakan sedang berada di sebuah acara makan malam eksklusif bersama sang bintang sendiri. Kami pun terbuai oleh setiap kisah yang dibawakan melalui lagu yang ia nyanyikan. Setiap lirik lagunya merupakan suatu refleksi dari pengalaman pahit maupun manis di masa lalu.
Set panggungnya sendiri terdiri dari tiga alat musik beraliran jazz berat yang diset secara efisien dengan komposisi pemusik Fuad Rudyan pada drum, Rudy Zulkarnaen pada double bass dan Yonathan Godjali pada piano. Malam itu kolaborasi ketiga musisi tersebut berhasil mengemas lagu-lagu berikut dari kedua album Tulus dengan indahnya.
Jangan Cintai Aku Apa Adanya
Seribu Tahun Lamanya
Malam itu, Tulus sang pendongeng mengizinkan para penonton mencicipi kesegaran rasa baru yang ia berikan pada baris lagu Seribu Tahun Lamanya dari band era 90-an, Jikustik, “biarkanlah terjadi wajar apa adanya.” Dan wajar apa adanya adalah nafas dari jalannya aksi panggung Tulus. Penampilan mereka sederhana, jujur dan tidak dibuat-buat. Penampilannya tulus.
Sepertinya ketulusan dapat dijadikan sebagai suatu prinsip yang baik untuk diterapkan di setiap lini kehidupan. Prinsip ini sangat sesuai untuk dijadikan bahan bakar utama yang mendorong manusia menjalankan tiap asanya. Bahkan prinsip ini juga cocok digunakan sebagai pendekatan reflektif dalam menjalani percintaan. Biarkan segalanya berjalan secara organik sesuai dengan apa yang seharusnya terjadi. Anda hanya perlu duduk dan menikmati perjalanannya.
Warisan Indonesia Berupa Penamaan Anak
Setelah merenungkan pengalaman Soundsekerta dan kehadiran Tulus sebagai seseorang yang tulus, lazim adanya jika saya menyebutkan bahwa pengalaman ini terjadi berkat adanya tradisi penamaan anak di Indonesia. Di Indonesia, nama berisikan harapan. Makna dari sebuah nama menunjukkan semangat yang dipegang oleh orang tua si pemiliknya. Sebagai contoh nama saya yang berasal dari bahasa Jawa berisikan harapan agar saya selalu membuat keputusan yang titis. Nama ini mengandung makna kias tetesan air atau keturunan serta tembakan anak panah yang tepat mengenai papan sasaran. Tentu saja ini merupakan sebuah kebetulan yang indah juga bahwa nama ini dalam bahasa Inggris berarti payudara secara keduanya memang memiliki tampilan yang sama.
Saya berasumsi bahwa hal yang sama dilakukan juga oleh orang tua Tulus. Penamaan Muhammad Tulus Rusydi dengan jelas menunjukkan bahwa mereka mengikuti tradisi luar biasa ini. Muhammad yang diambil dari nama nabi merupakan cerminan pegangan iman keluarganya dan sebuah doa agar anak tersebut mengamalkan kesembilan puluh sembilan nama baik nabi dan meninggalkan segala keburukan. Tulus merupakan harapan agar ia nanti terus menerapkan kebaikan yang tulus dalam segala tindakannya, dan Rusydi adalah nama keluarga yang diharapkan agar terus dihormati untuk generasi berikutnya. Dan saat saya menonton konsernya, saya kaget dan terheran bahwa semua harapan itu terwujud dalam bentuk persona panggung Tulus. Cukup magis adanya bahwa ia menjadi pria yang dibayangkan oleh orang tuanya ketika ia dilahirkan.
Akhir kata, karir musik Tulus sebagai seorang musisi baru saja dimulai. Baru kurang dari empat tahun lamanya ia merilis album perdana, dan sepertinya perjalanan hidup Tulus ke depannya akan menjadi sebuah tontonan yang luar biasa. Sebagai seorang penggemar yang hanya dapat memandang dari jauh, saya hanya dapat mendoakan agar ia terus mengingat pentingnya menjadi si tulus.
Tulus means sincere. It is not by a random chance his parents named him as such.
tulus|tu·lus| sungguh dan bersih hati (benar-benar keluar dari hati yang suci); jujur; tidak pura-pura; tidak serong; tulus hati; tulus ikhlas.
Sincere|adjective|sin·cere| \sin-ˈsir, sən-\ | having or showing true feelings that are expressed in an honest way; genuine or real: not false, fake, or pretend.
My Failure in Befriending Tulus
This journey started when my mate Tim Flicker and I found that Tulus would be in the line-up for Soundsekerta 2015 held on Sunday, 13th of September 2015. Being the big fans of sentimental ballads that we were, it was natural that a strategy was then plotted to trap Tulus into believing that we are worthy of becoming best friends for life. The dream was to get him to do busking in front of Victoria State Library in some beautiful sunny afternoon, sing me a birthday song and hang out at our favourite bar deep in the alleyways of Hardware Lane.
The plan was solid. A few accomplices got on board including a Melbourne-based Indonesian guitarist busker Alfeus Christantyas to prep the stage for Tulus to perform. We managed to get the attention of his management team with the lure of Miko Holt, our charming Indonesian-speaking film-maker bule who agreed to offer them a hand in shooting their travel diary. It seemed that we were going to win. However, it turned out that they were intrigued only by Miko’s sincerity to help them out and were disinterested in this deceitful scheme.
The Growth of Tulus as a Swoon Master
Oh well, the vision of having Tulus as the man of honour at my wedding has perished, but we nonetheless had the best time at Soundsekerta 2015. It was my first time to see him live, and boy, he was born to perform. He sang before some 1,800 pairs of eyes, yet his stage persona made it feel like we were attending an intimate private dinner. We swooned as he gently narrates each of the songs he sang; sharing tales of how each number came from a hurtful or gleeful past.
Along with him was an efficient and heavily jazzy band of three; Fuad Rudyan on drums, Rudy Zulkarnaen on double bass and Yonathan Godjali on the piano who did the following songs from his two albums justice.
Jangan Cintai Aku Apa Adanya
Seribu Tahun Lamanya
That evening, Tulus the story teller let the audience taste the refreshing flavour he added onto the words of 90’s band Jikustik, “biarkanlah terjadi wajar apa adanya,” from their song Seribu Tahun Lamanya. The line is translated as, “let it happen naturally as it is,” and that was how his show was run. It was simple, honest and unpretentious. It was Tulus.
The tulus approach can be applied in any areas of life. It fits perfectly as the basic fuel from which a human draws energy to drive her or his endeavours. In fact, this basic principal is also suitable to be used as a reflective approach in handling one’s love life. Let things run its course organically in the way it should have been. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Indonesian Legacy of Child Naming
Contemplating this experience and Tulus’ existence as a tulus being, it is only natural to credit the Indonesian custom of naming children. We ascribe hopes in names. The meaning of one’s name signifies the spirit that the parents live by. For example, my Javanese name Titis lies the hope that this kid will make titis decisions in life. The word can figuratively mean drops of water or descendant as well as bull’s eye or right on target when shooting an arrow. Of course it is of the utmost beautiful coincidence that this bull’s eye also means boobies in English. They do look similar in retrospect.
I assume the same happened with Tulus’ parents. The naming of Muhammad Tulus Rusydi is a telling sign that his parents followed this wonderful practice. Muhammad from the name of the Islamic prophet reflects the family’s pious outward and a prayer for the son to take up the ninety-nine good characters of the prophet and ditch the bad. Tulus is a wish that the son will always apply genuine kindness into whatever he does, and Rusydi is a family name that is hoped to be honoured in the family for the next generations to come. And as I watched him perform, it blew my mind that all these hopes were manifested as his stage persona. Isn’t it magical that he became the man his parents have wished for from when he was born?
All in all, Tulus’ career as a musician has only just begun. It has been a little less than four years since he released his first album, and his journey onwards should be a remarkable spectacle. As a fan watching from afar, I wish for him to constantly remember the importance of being tulus.
Aditya W Tumakaka is a Juris Doctor (JD) candidate at Melbourne Law School having already completed his undergraduate law degree in Indonesia. Aditya has worked at some of the top law and banking firms in Indonesia and is a young talent with a very bright future in the Indonesia-Australia relationship. AIYA caught up with Aditya to get to know a bit more about his career journey and what advice he has for young Indonesians and Australians looking to pursue a career between the two countries. As a delegate for CAUSINDY 2014, we also took the chance to ask what advice Aditya has for the delegates for this week’s conference in Darwin.
Tell us a little about your background — what did you study, and where did you begin your career after you graduated?
I did my undergrad in Sarjana Hukum (LL.B. equivalent), at Catholic University of Atma Jaya in Jakarta, with major studies in international law. After that I decided to have a career as a corporate lawyer in DNC Advocates Law Firm in Jakarta where I mostly dealt with banking and finance, foreign investment, and minor litigation. I worked there for four years and got seconded for one year at DBS Bank Indonesia during the same period. DBS Bank is a Singaporean government owned bank and is one of the biggest banks in Southeast Asia so it gave me more nuance on how the cross-border transactions works from the business and legal point of view.
During this time was the period Prime Minister Julia Gillard issued a White Paper policy for the Australian government, which I think has not been implemented at all. I was really interested in seeing how the Australia and Indonesia relationship would grow and how much potential it had in the future. When I read it I thought it was a terrific idea for Australia-Indonesia relations and I think at that time the Australian government really saw the importance of Australia’s integration to the Asian economy. With the booming economy in Indonesia and the rise of the middle class income it practically gives Indonesia a big market of Australia to have their products exported and with the rise of the economic relations between the two countries there will be many legal issues that may arise at the same time. Both Indonesia and Australia’s legal system is very distinct and sometimes Australian lawyers do not really understand how Indonesian law operates and vice-versa. I think with the ongoing conditions it is very possible for Indonesian investors to invest in Australia or Australian investors to invest in Indonesia.
I chose to take the JD program at Melbourne Law School because Melbourne Law School was and still is the number one law school in Australia, the fifth position in the world (currently at 8th), so it was a no brainer really. Also, the proximity to Australia is so close so it was easy to go back and forth to Indonesia and there is a niche market that I could handle if I practice in both Australia and Indonesia considering the potential we have right now.
Are you really the only lawyer qualified to practice in both Indonesia and Australia?
I am not yet qualified to practice in Australia. But, it is upon completion of my JD and Practical Legal Training that I will be admitted to practice law in Australia and subsequently become dual qualified.
The thing is in order to become qualified to practice Indonesian law and appearing before Indonesian courts, you need to obtain an advocate license in Indonesia. That means you have to pass the Indonesian bar exams, studied law at an Indonesian law school and also have to be an Indonesian national to get that qualification. So, no Australians would be able to obtain qualifications there I suppose unless they have dual citizenship/nationality (Indonesian law does not recognise dual citizenship).
However, I’m not fully aware if there are Indonesians that are qualified to practice in both Indonesia and Australia. It’s just the time and commitment required to assume that stage because you have to undertake four years law school in Indonesia and if you then want to take JD another three years on that. And sometimes, once people join the workforce they don’t really want to spend that much time in the law school anymore. There is no lawyer that I’m aware of that holds both qualifications at this point of time. But, I think it’s definitely possible for other Indonesians to obtain the JD and obtain admission to practice in Australia as well.
What sort of job opportunities has your niche skill set opened up in terms of employment opportunities?
It’s opened up a lot of opportunities actually because Australian businesses are really trying to penetrate the Indonesian market, but it seems they don’t really understand how to penetrate it. I think with my kind of qualifications and understanding of both countries and how people live and understanding what’s the best way to approach the people will allow me to be able to provide the best advice for clients. I’m currently applying for clerkships with international firms that operate in both Indonesia and Australia. I’m trying to find an Australian firm that has a vision to expand their practice in Indonesia.
What advice would you offer to young Indonesians or Australians interested in working in the other country?
Indonesians in Australia:
It’s pretty common to see that Australian companies tend to hire Australians, and they don’t usually hire international students. But, I think Australian companies will be missing out on a big opportunity in expanding their business because I think when you want to penetrate a market you have to hire people who understand the culture, how the business is conducted and people with experience in handling those regions and jurisdictions. In that respect I think it will be important for them to hire a diverse range of future employees from diverse backgrounds in order to penetrate those markets. For example, if they want to penetrate the Indonesian market I think it would be great if they employ Indonesians, especially those who have been in the workforce in Indonesia before and really understand and grasp the idea of how to penetrate the market.
Sometimes in Indonesia it’s more about the networks you have there and also the level of your understanding on the current situation in Indonesia as well. It’s not something you can learn on campus it goes by experience sometimes. You have to invest, and I think the best investment in this regard is in the people.
I think for Indonesians trying to work in Australia it is important to show what your value is. It’s important that you need to stand out. What I mean by stand out; it’s okay to show that you are Indonesian and how that factor can contribute to the growth of the company and show that you understand the Indonesian market in a way that will assist the company to expand their business to Indonesia or even to Indonesian communities in Australia. I saw many of my friends who have tried to find jobs here tend to forget that their background difference could actually work as a strength. Sometimes the employers do not have a clear vision of how to grow their business. I think when you apply for a job or to be an entrepreneur it’s important to show who you are or whatever background you are from to leverage your position.
Australians in Indonesia:
If the same business expansion argument applied to Australians in Indonesia, it is safe to conclude that Indonesia has big opportunities for Australians that want to study in Indonesia or even work there. There is opportunities in Indonesia especially for those who understand and can speak Bahasa Indonesia. I think it would be a great benefit for Australians who try and learn it as well because I’ve seen a lot of Australians who have come back from studying or working in Indonesia and have succeeded in creating the right networks. These accumulated experiences then become an asset for them and maybe for the companies where they worked. There are a lot of opportunities for Australians to travel to Indonesia, learn a lot of new things, which I think have been done well through the AIYEP program and CAUSINDY. But, the number is still not major enough to create the big impact, but I can see the numbers are growing and it shows really good progress.
CAUSINDY 2015 is set be held from 19-22 September in Darwin. You took part as delegate for CAUSINDY in 2014, can you tell me a little about those experiences and what the delegates should expect this year?
I had a really good time on CAUSINDY because it provides you with the opportunity to meet a lot of great people from different backgrounds. But, we all have one common thread; we are interested in the Australia-Indonesia relationship. Meeting and discussing with the delegates really gives you a new perspective as to how to help the relationship to grow and how can we contribute to make the relationship better. I met a lot of people from both private and government sectors, which I think is really terrific. I was on the business panel and we think seeing this relationship from a business point of view gives you more incentives to develop this relationship further. It’s not just about the cultural ties and the geographical ties or proximity that we have. I think when we talk about the commercial interests and the idea that we can grow a prosperous relationship will entice more contributions and more public discussions as to how to develop this relationship and bringing people together from diverse backgrounds.
On the other side, seeing people from other backgrounds helps you develop new networks of a lot of people from different areas and sometimes for business it is important to know the right people, in the right areas, at the right time. Some of the CAUSINDY delegates have asked me for advice about Indonesian law, and I think I’ve been really fortunate to be able to help them out and I’m really grateful for that. For the future delegates they should expect more diverse people than what you have read in the profiles.
I think it’s a good idea to put the conference in Darwin this year because Darwin is a good place to remind us of the historical ties between our countries especially between Aboriginals and Indonesians back in earlier times. It’s a good reminder of the original ties and how we could strengthen it, but in terms of experience they will also experience the same terrific things that I had during the conference. These being meeting a lot of people, meet people with different perspectives and developing new networks.
Got any questions for Aditya? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his LinkedIn.
Sebastian McLellan reviews Ken Ward’s recent Lowy Institute Paper on the relationship, Condemned to Crisis.
Events & opportunities
Sydney, 30 September: sign up for an evening conversation about your future Indonesia-related career, hosted by AIYA NSW in association with PwC and the Australia-Indonesia Centre. Details at the Facebook Event.