Need for Leaders With Youth Pledge Day, 85 Years On

Students from Yogyakarta State Senior High School No.6 after winning a gold medal at the International Exhibition of Young Inventors 2013 in Malaysia for the Green Technology category. Indonesia won three gold medals and two silver medals. (JG Photo/Fajrin Raharjo)

Students from Yogyakarta State Senior High School No.6 after winning a gold medal at the International Exhibition of Young Inventors 2013 in Malaysia for the Green Technology category. Indonesia won three gold medals and two silver medals. (JG Photo/Fajrin Raharjo)

Today marks eighty-five years since Indonesian youth from various ethnic and religious backgrounds gathered at the Indonesische Clubgeouw building in Batavia to establish a nation on Oct. 28, 1928, an event that will forever mark the power of the Indonesian youth and what their ideas are capable of doing.

“The Youth Pledge Day is a mix of various ideas to formulate the concept of a nation, give clear limits to the archipelago as their homeland, as well as an agreement to the use of the Indonesian language as a language of unity,” Aridho Pamungkas, political analyst from the Community for Social Transformation (Katalis), said.

Speaking at a discussion titled “What Other Pledges Do the Indonesian Youth Need to Make?” Hermawan Sulistyo, a political analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said on Thursday that Indonesian youth remained rich with potential, both on a national scale and in the international community.

Such can be seen from the number of Indonesian students who have made high accomplishments in various international physics and mathematics competitions, he added.

However, Hermawan emphasized that not many of the Indonesian youth retained an interest in remaining in Indonesia after such accomplishments, as most preferred leaving the country, working abroad and becoming citizens of foreign countries.

“To me, this has redefined the Youth Pledge Day. It has now become a matter of how we can tell our children not to sell themselves and not to sell their nation. They need to learn the knowledge, but after that, return here. Use technologies in other countries for the benefit of this nation,” Hermawan said.

He noted that Indonesian youth today need a leader who is able to motivate them to perform and excel.

“There is one problem, which is that there are no leaders. All we have are government officials, but there are no leaders with a clear vision and mission. Meanwhile, all there is to motivate them are corporations, but there are no more national motivators such as Sukarno and [Mohammad] Hatta,” he said.

“Nelson Mandela was jailed for 30 years, and once he was released, he came out as a lion. The youth should be taught to fight. Attack, and do not remain silent,” he said.

Data by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) show Indonesia today is home to 62.5 million youth across the archipelago.

Hermawan emphasized that with 12 percent of the total youth being eligible to vote in next year’s general election, none of the parties have proven themselves truly able to develop their younger constituents. Political parties today prefer to approach religious leaders, art workers and others, he said.

“Once they are able to win the hearts of the youth, they will surely become the biggest party.”

He further said that approaching Indonesian youth was not a difficult task and that the most important element in doing so was to listen and think for the youth.

“Just listen, go to street races, invite them to race at the Sentul [racing track], ask their friends to go there. They will definitely be up for that. This is just an example,” Hermawan suggested.

In a separate discussion on Friday, Barita Simanjuntak, an academic from the Indonesian Christian University said Indonesia’s democracy has yet to make room for the nation’s youth to express their aspirations and ideas.

“Democracy tends to turn into a structure of authority dominated by the elder generation,” Barita said in a discussion titled “Youth Pledge Day: Advancing Indonesian Youth Movements” at the Indonesian Movement Organization headquarters. He added that youths should be brave to leave their comfort zones to change the system and improve the nation.

Center for Strategic International Studies researcher Indra J. Piliang said Indonesian youth shouldn’t be measured by their age, but by their ideas and their thoughts.

The youth, he said, should be able to produce fresh ideas that could challenge the older generation.

“So the new ideas from the youth should be able to become breakthroughs,” he said.

Dedi Gumelar, a member of House Commission X, which oversees education and youth affairs, called on the government to offer more funds and facilities for its youth, aimed not at spoiling the younger generation but in hope of motivating them to be creative in doing positive improvements. JG

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