Tag Archives: indonesia

September 30th: Images and Realities of Violence


It was around this time thirty one year ago, in 1984. That day was one of the most historical days of my childhood. It was a cinema day! And it made me nervous, scared, and excited at the same time. The reason for the mixed feelings was two folds. First, I never went to the cinema before because my religiously conservative parents forbade us, my siblings and I, from watching movies in the cinema. Second, this was a movie about what one social science teacher called ‘the darkest chapter’ in the history of the nation. Even though my parents didn’t like the fact that their kids would be in a ‘sinful’ cinema and to pay for it, , they let my two little siblings and I go. They had no choice as it was mandatory for all kids. The government had forced schools to make students see the film during school hours.

Continue reading September 30th: Images and Realities of Violence

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?

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

Vote for Virtue and Wisdom, According to Dead Philosophers

published in Magdalene

Plato once said, “In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill…we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.”

Shall we argue against Plato? Of course he is correct. But in the ancient Greek where Plato lived there was also no television, let alone social media. Continue reading Vote for Virtue and Wisdom, According to Dead Philosophers

[Lim’s publication] Many Clicks but Little Sticks: Social Media Activism in Indonesia

I would like to share my newly published article:

Lim, M. 2013, Many Clicks but Little Sticks: Social Media Activism in Indonesia, Journal of Contemporary Asia, DOI:10.1080/00472336.2013.769386

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00472336.2013.769386

Drawing on empirical cases from Indonesia, this article offers a critical approach to the promise of social media activism by analysing the complexity and dynamics of the relationship between social media and its users. Rather than viewing social media activism as the harbinger of social change or dismissing it as mere “slacktivism,” the article provides a more nuanced argument by identifying the conditions under which participation in social media might lead to successful political activism. In social media, networks are vast, content is overly abundant, attention spans are short, and conversations are parsed into diminutive sentences. For social media activism to be translated into populist political activism, it needs to embrace the principles of the contemporary culture of consumption: light package, headline appetite and trailer vision. Social media activism is more likely to successfully mobilise mass support when its narratives are simple, associated with low risk actions and congruent with dominant meta-narratives, such as nationalism and religiosity. Success is less likely when the narrative is contested by dominant competing narratives generated in mainstream media.

Interested to read a full version of the article?

For those who have access from the university library, please download here (I share it online in my website but I also would like to push Taylor & Francis to give free access — if my article has a very high readership it’s more likely they’ll give free access).

For those who are not affiliated with any university, please download here for a free e-print.


[Publication] Life Is Local in the Imagined Global Community

“… In grappling with multiple identities and multiple realities, the reality of everyday life is experienced as reality par excellence.  Micro narratives that are closer to the everyday life experience are embraced more openly, resulting in the plurality of voices, allowing for differences, nuances, and even counter-hegemonic voices. The closer to home the issue resonates, the more conversations take place. Life is local, even in the global blogosphere.” Continue reading [Publication] Life Is Local in the Imagined Global Community

League of 13: Media concentration in Indonesia

I just want to re-post something I posted in the Participatory Media Lab’s blog a month ago.


Based on “Media Concentration” section in on the Media report I posted earlier, I generated several maps of media concentration below. The updated section on Media Ownership can be downloadable from here.

Continue reading League of 13: Media concentration in Indonesia

Social Implications of ICTs in Indonesia

This time I want to share the work of some Indonesian scholars who wrote on social implications of ICTs in Indonesia — not my own work — published in the special issue of the Internetworking Indonesia Journal.

I’m pleased to present this special issue: the unique contribution of Indonesian scholars to Indonesian Internet studies!

Continue reading Social Implications of ICTs in Indonesia