Category Archives: commentaries

Wiji Thukul: What’s the point?

What’s the point of being knowledgable
If only used to deceive
What’s the point of having read many books
If you never break the silence
(an excerpt from “What’s the point”, a poem by Wiji Thukul*)

Original version (Indonesian):
Apa gunanya punya ilmu tinggi
Kalau hanya untuk mengibuli
Apa gunanya banyak baca buku
Kalau mulut kau bungkam melulu
(nukilan dari “Apa guna”, puisi oleh Wiji Thukul)

Written by someone who never went to college, this message rings true especially to some of us who enjoyed privileged access to higher education.

The message also brings a validation for some of us, who have already begun to break the silence of the night and found the calling to speak is often marred with agony.

We must speak. With all knowledge and privileges we have, we must speak. We must speak to break the betrayal of our own silences. We must speak.

Today, August 26th, is the birthday of Wiji Thukul, an Indonesian poet and an activist who went missing in 1998 during the period of protests that led to the fall of the New Order regime. His poems are political, often critical of the Indonesian government (under Suharto) and the social conditions of the country. It’s suspected that he’s one of many anti-government protesters abducted by government forces.

Happy Birthday Wiji Thukul!
Thank you for your bravery and your unwavering quest for freedom and justice.

 

Continue reading Wiji Thukul: What’s the point?

The “Herrera” moment

with many thanks and congratulations to Juan Felipe Herrera...

let us gather in a flourishing way
en la luz y en la carne of our heart to toil
tranquilos in fields of blossoms
juntos to stretch los brazos
tranquilos with the rain en la mañana
temprana estrella on our forehead
cielo de calor and wisdom to meet us
where we toil siempre
in the garden of our struggle and joy
— an excerpt from “Let Us Gather in a Flourishing Way” by Juan Felipe Herrera

Tears were glistening in her eyes and spilling over to splash down her cheek. She turned her head to look at him, who apparently had already looked at her. She turned her eyes to his eyes. With a teardrop hidden in a corner of his eye, he reached out and gently touched her hand. His eyes were locked on hers.
Continue reading The “Herrera” moment

A neighbor with a beautiful mind

In the last decade or so, I came across some intellectual celebrities in various occasions in various places. No, I don’t have any evidence of my encounters with these people, no autograph, no selfies, nada. I had some email exchanges with a couple of them but I’d keep these to myself. Also, while they’re inspirational, meeting them didn’t not make me any special. Just because they’re brilliant, genius, and famous, it doesn’t mean that I turned brilliant, genius, and famous once I met them. Unlike in scenes of many feel-good Hollywood movies, I don’t have any life-changing moments in any of these encounters. In fact, some of the stories are probably rather ordinary, as exemplified in the story I am going to tell you. Continue reading A neighbor with a beautiful mind

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#‎QZ8501‬

Imagine that one day you were just watching television and suddenly heard news about a missing plane. And you were oblivious to the fact that someone in that plane was your loved one. Minutes later, you saw a familiar name in the list of passengers. Suddenly it felt like someone had knocked all the air out of you. You went numb. Your heart sank. And your blood ran cold. All at the same time. Those cliche phrases that you thought only exist in a fiction suddenly turned real. Worse, in your next minutes, hours, and days, that very same television screen would replay the tragedy over and over again, scene by scene, bits by bits, like a never ending nightmare.  Continue reading No comment

[Lim’s lecture] Social Media and Urban Activism from the Arab Spring to Hong Kong

On November 6th, 2014, I delivered the Canada Research Chair public inaugural lecture entitled: “Roots, Routes & Routers: Social Media and Urban Activism from the Arab Spring to Hong Kong”.

I managed to merge the actual recording of my lecture and the slideshow I prepared for and had shown during the lecture. So, here it is (the prezi is accessible through this link, but it’s also embedded below). Click “start prezi” button and then click the  button on the left corner to listen to the audio.

Unlike this light 10 minutes speech of mine, this one is based on years of comprehensive research and rather long.

Continue reading [Lim’s lecture] Social Media and Urban Activism from the Arab Spring to Hong Kong

An Outsized Role for Social Media in the Indonesian Election

An excerpt of my interview with The Asia Digital Life (original link is here)

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by: Patrick Sharbaugh (@psharbaugh)

Social media and digital platforms played a massive role in Indonesia’s historic presidential election earlier this month. With the official result still out, I talked to Asian Internet scholar Merlyna Lim about how Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and innovative open-sourced platforms for crowdsourcing election monitoring and the vote count made this election unique.

A few highlights of our conversation:

Of 255 million citizens in Indonesia (which makes it the world’s third largest democracy) there are over 77 million citizens online — and 50 million of those are eligible to vote. There’s a very active social media landscape in Indonesia, and the social media activism community there is particularly vibrant. Continue reading An Outsized Role for Social Media in the Indonesian Election