Written by Raisa Tanawi

Today is 17 August 2011, the day when we commemorate Bung Karno’s proclamation of our legalized freedom from all the Dutch, Japanese, and other European countries that have colonized us for hundreds of years. We, as the citizens of Indonesia, have experienced in celebrating it formally, with the flag ceremony, and the President’s speech seen on TV, and the whole bullet-wasting bonanza when they shoot the air. However, for us the younger generation, both overseas or in Indonesia, what does it mean to us? I can guarantee that more than 50% of you reading this would say that it’s a day I don’t probably remember or commemorate; just like any other day. Or maybe you just update your Facebook status or retweet an especially patriotic friend, and that’s it.

Well for Indonesia, it’s been-

Wait. It’s been…

(Shoot. I have to use a calculator to count how many years my own country has been independent?!)

So, it has been 66 years of highly downs, ups, ups, and downs, downs, downs, neutral, downs… Or is it?

I’m sure we all know and probably feel the same; whether we like it or not, our nation does have a negative reputation internationally. I won’t delve into the details, you all must know and would agree how pathetic our government handles the problems.

One good thing that recently happened is when Nazaruddin got caught after months, in Colombia even! Well, merdeka that he got caught! Something to really shout for during the flag ceremony!

But for every good thing, there seems to be something negative that crops up. However unreasonable it is, the verdict given to Prita Mulyasari once again gets our sympathy, and I would understand if she wouldn’t shout merdeka behind prison bars. I don’t know what’s happened to her (Ed: she recently reported three Supreme Court justices to the Judicial Commission for violating ethical codes), but if she were to be behind prison bars because of this measly little problem… Hello! There are way worse crimes, mostly white collar, that deserve similar, if not worse, sentences, but have received little action.

We’ve got too many problems to begin with, a mess that we, as agents of change to shape the future Indonesia, must clean up. This is the country we’re supposed to be responsible of, having been born and raised in this country before moving out somewhere for further studies. And even then, us studying abroad should be utilized to gather and expand our knowledge from an international perspective, to gain a great deal of exposure in a multicultural environment. What we are learning now would be useful for our country.

I understand, though, how after studying and working overseas, with a highly satisfying payroll, we are so disinterested in returning back home. Not to mention those whose parents took away from Indonesia at very young ages that the kids have completely lost fluency in their mother tongue. But still, don’t just complain without doing anything to help rectify the situation!

I do hope that you, the reader, would take the time to reflect how far our country has gone, how big is the mess, how we can change it in the future. I hope that no one has forgotten our roots despite the blurring of national and cultural boundaries thanks to globalization. If none of us return, then we shouldn’t expect things to straighten out with time. It is our responsibility to bring glory back to this nation.

That being said, I wish you a happy 66th Birthday, Indonesia! Still young, vigorous, and fruitful; but don’t let foreigners take your national treasures and natural resources away. I look forward to walking with my country, and building it towards a better future. And I hope all of you will do the same.

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