"The incapacity to communicate what happened is really very striking, because it forced me to read silence."
What your ethnic background?
West Sumatran, my mother is Minang and my father is Pariaman. The two ethnic groups are actually very different, Minang people have travel embedded in their culture since they practice merantau, even the women. They value education and seeing far away places very much. On the other hand, Pariaman is a lot like Sundanese in Java. They are matrilineal, they are also more strict in a way. Basically, the two families don’t actually get along all that well because of this cultural difference between them.
Can you elaborate more?
Well, when you go merantau, even though my mother’s family may be somewhat wealthy in Sumatra, the wealth is not considered to be hers. In my mother’s family, once you leave the household, everyone starts over with nothing. People from Pariaman puts a lot of emphasis on wealth, it’s as if you have to be rich no matter what. Status and wealth are highly valued. The Minang people value education a lot more than wealth, meanwhile Pariaman people care mostly about money.
When you came here, was it because of merantau? Did your parents send you away?
Yes! It is merantau! But my parents never really told me to go abroad or anything like that, at least not directly. They would just talk about their experiences when they were younger, so maybe that influences my decision. I always thought that my parents lived adventurous lives, so I would like at least some of that in my life too.
When I was growing up I spent most of time hanging out with natives. The area where I grew up was predominantly pribumi and I also went to public schools. I hardly know anything about the Chinese culture, I don’t speak the language either. When I got here, the disparity became a lot more noticeable because my friends here know how to speak Chinese and are brought up with more exposure to the Chinese culture. It’s even harder when I started working because most of the Singaporeans are Chinese, and they always kind of question my integrity when they realize that I don’t speak the language even though I look Chinese. It also presents an obstacle, like a social wall.
There is this unspoken racial tension that is going on. It’s all under the table, but it’s there. But then again, the funny thing is when you do go overseas and you meet pribumi people it’s a lot easier. It’s only when you try to connect with the ones who actually live in Indonesia that there is this thing. But after a while it disappears, after you get to know them, it tends to disappear but initially there’s always that thing that you have to overcome.
Read Sam’s full interview here.
Sutayasa lives in Singapore.
Where are you from?
Which part of Jakarta?
South Jakarta, the best area to live in. It’s near to everywhere that matters, really. It’s near to the central business district, to Kemang, to all the malls.
Is that what you like about Jakarta? Convenience?
I don’t know, I think they have better food than Singapore. It’s also home for me, where most of my friends are and that’s what makes Jakarta for me. My friends make me love Jakarta.
What makes you go abroad for college?
I just wanted to be abroad. To be honest, before this I never really been abroad before. I never travelled until college. I wanted something new. You also cannot deny that Singapore has a better educational system than Indonesia, it’s one of the best in Southeast Asia.
How’s living in Singapore different from living in Jakarta?
I think first thing that makes it difficult is keeping in touch with my friends in Jakarta, because that’s the friendship that I really want to keep and maintain. It can be quite a struggle, especially when I was maintaining all these different activities in college. I was having a long distance relationship with someone in Indonesia, that was difficult. Singapore is also very competitive. It wouldn’t be Singapore without the competition.
They were mostly university graduates, with no clear links to any major terrorist or extremist networks, rounded up at seven locations throughout the country in a series of arrests on Thursday, according to police.
The 19 terrorism suspects, whose arrests capped two weeks of undercover investigations, are believed to be behind both the series of book bombs sent to several prominent figures last month and the plot to blow up a Catholic church in Serpong, Tangerang, on Friday, and an unspecified Army warehouse.
Police have arrested a cameraman from Indonesian television station Global TV who was allegedly recruited to film the foiled Good Friday bomb attack on the outskirts of Jakarta.
National Police spokesman Chief Comr. Boy Rafly Amar identified the man by his initials, IF.
“He was arrested at Jakarta on Friday,” Boy told the Jakarta Globe on Saturday.
He said P had also asked IF to invite foreign cameramen to film the explosions, saying he “wanted the blast to be broadcast internationally.”
Global TV is due to hold a news conference at 2 p.m.
Boy said IF was recruited by the alleged mastermind, P, who “wanted the blast at Serpong broadcast live.”
P was arrested in Banda Aceh on Thursday in connection to the Jakarta book bombing campaign but surprised police by confessing to the presence of five pipe bombs and two much larger backpack bombs adjacent to a gas pipeline near the Christ Cathedral and an Army munitions storehouse.
People don’t see me as being Indonesian. They wouldn’t acknowledge me as an Indonesian. As a halfling, at first I thought I’d get acceptance from both cultures. But really, that’s not true, you’re really an outcast of both races. In Australia, a predominantly white country, they refer to me as being Asian. On the other hand, when I am in a predominantly Asian country they’ll refer to me as being a caucasian. Really, I am forced to find an independent identity. Being a “half cast”, there are just some things that Indonesians just don’t understand. Their open mindedness only go so far.
Read Richard’s full interview here.