Bahasa Indonesia and Nationalism

Bahasa Indonesia and Nationalism
Bahasa Indonesia and Nationalism

My friend Ahmad Qisai writes a good piece published in The Jakarta Post on January 25, 2006 about Bahasa Indonesia. He especially highlighted the current Education Ministry, Dendy Sugono's call to speak strictly in Bahasa Indonesia in order to ensure the survival of the language.

Qie, as I used to call him, gives a good socio-historical evidence that a language will survive and flourish if it has flexibility to absorb other influences. In his own words, his says:

Thus, to be worried about the future status of Bahasa Indonesia due to the widespread use of foreign terminology, like English, in Indonesia should not be exaggerated. On the contrary, the flexibility shown by the language will only help it to survive the waves of globalization.

For me, the educational minister remark is not new. Many bureucrats, especially from the same office, has done so over times. Controversies are made. Educational policy changes occur every new minister occupy the portfolio. The result: nothing. They, the ministers, just enjoy talking rubbish which ignite pros & cons in the media that led to 15-minute fame of the ministers concerned.

The current educational minister fussy remark on Bahasa Indonesia & English should be read in that context.

From Suharto era up till now, the use of word 'nationalism' always being monopolized by the so-called PNS (pegawai negeri sipil - civil servants): a group of foxes & crocodiles who hugely steal the country' money and resources in gigantic way and make the rich-natural-resources country as poor country as Liberia or Kenya. Yet, they are shamelessly screaming out loud and dictating the people about nationalism and what nationalism stands for. The leaders with conscience and honest intention to uplift Indonesia towards prosperity and justice for all will never talk such nitty-gritty & pompous stuff.

Update Feb 17, 2009: As the Qisa'i's article is no longer found in the Jakarta Post archive links, here I reproduce the whole article for everyone to read:

Has globalization marginalized Bahasa Indonesia?
By Ahmad Qisa'i
Appeared on the Jakarta Post 25 January 2006

Looking back at the history of Bahasa Indonesia as the national language of Indonesia, it was a lingua franca for the diverse communities in the Indonesian archipelago. The original form of this language was a coastal Malay dialect spoken by a small community of people in the coastal area of Sumatra. Its flexibility as a form of communication among people in the archipelago as compared to the Javanese language, the language of the majority of Indonesians, had prompted the decision by the nationalists to declare it as the National Language of Independent Indonesia. The decision was widely known in Indonesian history as Sumpah Pemuda (Youth Pledge) and it was on the basis of this Pledge that the Indonesian Constitution has sanctioned Bahasa Indonesia as the National Language of Indonesia.

The diverse nature of Indonesian society has made a common language of communication a liability for it to succeed and survive as a united community. A simple and flexible mode of communication capable of bridging the gaps between communities will only guarantee the transformation process of Indonesia from a diverse community into a single, strong nation. Selecting a coastal Malay dialect as the national language instead of the much more complicated Javanese language proved to be a correct choice.

The decision to choose a Roman script for the language instead of its Perso-Arabic form has further helped the process of absorbing various elements of other languages to be a part of an enriched language, the Bahasa Indonesia. Foreign languages like the Dutch, Arabic, Sanskrit, French, English as well as other local languages like the Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese and others have given a lot of influence to the development of Bahasa Indonesia into its current position. The efforts by previous regimes to encourage the usage of a proper and correct form of Bahasa Indonesia in any form of communication further elevated the popularity of Bahasa Indonesia. However, the waves of globalization have certainly given a lot of impact on the development of Bahasa Indonesia. The flexible nature of the language has permitted the Indonesianization of borrowed words from foreign languages to be a part of an enriched Bahasa Indonesia. This process, nevertheless, has resulted in the pros and cons among scholars over the status of Bahasa Indonesia in Indonesia amid the continuous waves of globalization.

The most recent cautious remarks came from the Director of Center for Language of National Education Department, Dr. Dendy Sugono (Media Indonesia, 26 December 2005) when he said that the current practice by corporate houses to use foreign names and billboards has threatened the future of Bahasa Indonesia as the national language. This practice, he predicted, would marginalize Bahasa Indonesia and thus would become a national threat to the unity of Indonesia. To avoid the eventuality of his hypothesis, he suggested to the local governments to enact laws preventing the use of foreign terms in public. As an example, he said that his department is looking forward of working on this project with the Jakarta Governor in enacting a law to prohibit the usage of foreign names and billboards by corporate houses and public offices in the Capital.

On the contrary, it is the flexibility of Bahasa Indonesia that has made the language popular. The ability of Bahasa Indonesia to adjust itself to the situation has proved to be effective in its development. Had it been other language, for an example the Javanese language, as the national language, it would have been difficult for it to adjust with the globalize world. The complexity found in the structure and form of the Javanese language in its spoken as well as written form would have deprived the rest of the Indonesian populace of the current situation it enjoys. Indonesia would be limited to the Javanese community while the rest of the archipelago questioned the their status of being a part of Indonesia. India is a perfect example to the situation in Indonesia. The diverse nature of Indian society is a perfect reflection for the Indonesian society. The dilemma of a national language can be taken as an example worth of examination.

The problem of a national language in India arose at the same time it achieved its independence. The majority of Hindi speaking community in India insisted on the declaration of Hindi as the Indian national language. However, other language communities like the Tamils, Bengalis, Punjabis, as well as other language communities of Dravidian languages in the Southern part of India rejected the idea on the basis of possible hegemonic domination by Hindi speaking people over the running of the administration in the country. Thus having undergone various stages of deliberations and arguments as well as threats of secession, it was finally agreed that Hindi would enjoy the status of a national language of an independent India while at the same time 16 other major languages to be accepted as the official language of administration. English, the language that long enjoyed a status of a lingua franca during the British rule in India, would continue to play the role and enjoy the same status as other official languages pending the socialization process of Hindi as the national language of India. However, the situation remains till now and even there was an addition of some three more major languages into the list of official languages in India as sanctioned by the Indian Constitution.

Thus, to be worried over the future status of Bahasa Indonesia due to the wide use of foreign language like English in Indonesia is need not to be exaggerated. On the contrary, the flexibility shown by Bahasa Indonesia will only help it to survive the waves of globalization. It will become the beneficiary of the globalization. Continuous efforts by the government to popularize the use of proper and correct form of Bahasa Indonesia while at the same time encouraging the people to learn and use foreign languages instead of discouraging them will help the process of building Indonesia to be a strong and powerful nation in the future.[]

Men Abused, a New Trend in Saudi Arabia

You might have heard child and women abuse everywhere in the world. Yet you might never heard that men are also prone to be abused by well ... women i.e. wives. And this is not a rumour or joke. Domestic violence against men are happening and increasing trend in Saudi Arabia, reports The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR)

NSHR also reports:

An increasing number of men have been complaining about their wives beating them up or pouring boiling oil on them, Al-Watan newspaper reported yesterday.

The general causes varies

Al-Angari attributed the tendency among women to be cruel against their men to such factors as a forceful personality, the age difference, marriages in which men seek financial dependence on women and the couple being a total mismatch. Instances where sons abuse their fathers are often linked to drug abuse.

In Indonesia, I haven't found such kind of incident. But from psychological point of view it happens not only in Indonesia, rather it becomes a common phenomenon of couple life particularly when the wives are higher in profession, salary and social-strata.

For more on this read the Arab News here