To The Parents Of Indonesia:
My country of birth, Australia, is a nation in decline. Australian traditions, democracy, freedoms and human rights are all under attack from within.
The lives of too many people in Australia are ruined by fear, stress and unrelenting callousness by some Australians towards their fellow citizens.
My second home, Indonesia, is a nation on the rise. This vibrant young democracy consistently produces leaders respected around the world. National self-confidence and solid sustainable values give decent people in Indonesia the chance of building decent lives.
In 2016, President Jokowi inspired me and other people with the glorious words in reponse to the Thamrin terrorist attack, “Kita tidak boleh takut dan kalah.” which I transcreate as, “It’s just not on for us to be frightened or defeatist.” This is easily the best response to modern terrorism I have heard from any world leader. President Yudhoyono was also very effective against terrorism.
It is a great tribute to the whole Indonesian education system that a man of humble origins like Joko Widodo could go on to inspire the world with his clear powerful thinking. The words quoted above rest on the foundations of Amar Ma’ruf Nahi Munkar, Pancasila, Gotong Royong and Kebersamaan.
At the age of 59, in 2016, in Australia, I was treated like a criminal when I tried to share my love of the Indonesian values which now give my life its meaning. My efforts to talk about how much Australia can learn from and share with Indonesia lead to me being arrested by the Victoria Police on July 5th that year and put through psychological hell in Melbourne’s Family Violence Court until December. I am still struggling to recover from that trauma.
My father and over thirty thousand of his fellow Australians fought against tyranny at Balikpapan in July 1945. 229 of those Australians died. The freedoms they fought for are now thriving in Indonesia but are dying in Australia. If I could swap my Australian citizenship for Indonesian citizenship, I believe I would have a much better future.
To any Indonesian parents hoping to give their children a better life through education in Australia, I say this: think very, very carefully about that choice.
There are many wonderful teachers in this archipelago. Among the ones I have known personally are Gus Mus, AmienRais and Mbah Lim. Such teachers should be the envy of the world. I have learnt things about living and society from these and other Indonesian teachers which I could never have learnt in Australia. But what I have been able to learn and love here just does not get respect in Australia. The toxic forces now undermining human rights in Australia can also be very powerful on Australian university campuses and in Australian schools.
Please ask yourself this question if you are considering sending your child to Australia to study: do you want your child to learn in an environment of fear or in an environment of self-confident freedom?
Please choose carefully. Hati hati ya.
Selamat Tujuhbelasan. Merdeka!
Geoff Fox, Solo, Jateng, Indonesia, 17-08-2018