Catatan Singkat tentang Negeri Jiran dan Para Perantau Dermawan

Desember tahun lalu adalah kali pertama saya mengunjungi Malaysia. Agenda pelancongan ini menjenguk saudara dan nonton Timnas main di Piala AFF 2012. Saya sempat menyinggahi dua tempat: Pulau Pinang di lepas pantai sebelah barat semenanjung, lalu Kuala Lumpur di selatan. Tentu saja, saya berharap untuk mendapatkan pengalaman menarik di bangsa yang sering dipandang secara antagonistik oleh banyak dari kita orang Indonesia.

Kata jiran, seperti yang anda ketahui, diserap dari bahasa Arab yang artinya tetangga. Maka selayaknya saat bertamu ke tetangga samping rumah, saya berusaha untuk membuang jauh-jauh prasangka buruk tentangnya. Akan tetapi, ketika berada di dalam taksi dari bandara ke penginapan di Pulau Pinang, masih saja ada keraguan untuk sekadar berbicara tentang pertandingan sepak bola yang dihelat sebentar lagi itu. Dengan naif, saya khawatir kalau-kalau sopir taksi, yang selama lima menit pertama perjalanan diam, akan mengurangi kualitas pelayanannya setelah mengetahui penumpangnya dari Indonesia.

“Ini mau lihat bola, tapi mampir Pinang dulu,” saya akhirnya membuka obrolan.

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Chinese Faces in Indonesian Football: Celebrated Past, Humble Present

The shorter, edited version of this article is featured at In Bed With Maradona, February 8, 2012.

Ramang vs Soviet

There are many meanings one can attribute to the word ‘achievement’. But in football there are only two. For behemoths, it’s trophy. For underdogs, it’s either that or making a top team suffer. Currently sitting 143rd in the Fifa ranking, Indonesia clearly belongs to the latter category. So as Brazilians recall of their glorious past by counting silverwares in their trophy cabinet, Indonesians can associate their greatest time in football with the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia.

One of the two games they played in the competition turned out to be the best page in the over a century-old book of Indonesian football. It was against the mighty Uni Soviet. Powered by the great Lev Yashin, team captain Igor Netto, and genius attacker Eduard Streltsov, this was Soviet’s golden string playing under Gavril Kachalin as coach. Indonesia played fearlessly throughout the match and managed to survive the opponents’ bombardment. They even nearly scored one themselves through Rusli Ramang, the country’s legendary forward. Yet, neither side conceded a goal.

Indonesian football story actually began long before that match. It began since the country was still referred to as the Dutch East Indies, involving a kind of players that have become rare today: the Chinese.

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A Short Guide to (New) Indonesian Movies

Featured at Latitudes, March 29, 2011

Indonesian cinema seems to mirror developments in Indonesian society. During colonial times most movies had Dutch involvement on one level or the other. Then, during the Sukarno years,  the newly gained independence added a nationalistic and anti-Western tinge to most movie productions. Foreign films were even banned! During Suharto’s reign, censorship gave filmmakers a tight rope to walk on, but also spurred a lot of creativity. After reaching its peak in the 80s with the likes of Catatan Si Boy (Boy’s Diary), Nagabonar, and Warkop Trio’s comedy, Indonesian film industry died down over the following decade. This was mainly due to the fact that foreign import of films resumed. Indonesian cinema had no answer to the sudden competition. As a consequence, flicks made in the 90s are mostly adult movies of poor quality. Filmmakers and fans often refer to this as the Krisis Film Nasional.

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On Last Night’s Game

It’s been years I didn’t sing the national anthem. And even back then, I often sang it in false tunes, while giggling with friends during the flag ceremony every Monday morning. Last night, when I watched the national team singing “Indonesia Raya” and some players cry, I could feel the shiver. I sang it with my whole heart and, no kidding, almost shed tears.

I was with hundreds others that night in an eating place in Yogyakarta. It was not my first time to watch football in a public place but I saw Indonesia’s games only at home or at a friend’s house before.

Each of us knew that winning the cup would be heavy after suffering the 3-0 defeat in Malaysia. It did not hold us back, though. We shared the same agenda, supporting our football heroes in the final game of the AFF 2010 Tournament no matter what.

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