Freedom of speech is perhaps one of the most significant indicators of nation’s tolerance for diversity. It is a right that grants a citizenry the ability to speak their mind without fear of reprisal from fellow citizens, the government, essentially any entity which may or may not agree with the thoughts expressed—even if the thought could be considered as offensive or inappropriate depending on one’s standard’s.
Sadly the freedom of speech is not a privilege enjoyed by all. Indonesia for instance, is notorious for its willingness to control the thoughts and words of its people. From jailing bloggers who express dissenting ideas, categorizing Communist sympathies as a criminal act, forbidding the common peoples from cracking jokes at the expense of powerful individuals, and so on (Schonhardt, 2010). Essentially, what an Indonesian may or may not speak of depends on the whims of whoever currently sits in power.
It would be depressing enough to know that the Indonesian government prohibits its inhabitants from speaking their minds; but impeders of free speech could also be found among everyday Indonesians. A quick showcase of how intolerant Indonesians can be to the ideas of their fellow peoples, is easily seen from how they reacted to the “mockery” of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz of the Saudi Arabian Kingdom.
On March 1st 2017, the King of Saudi Arabia landed on Indonesian soil. Many Indonesians, especially those who adhere to Islam were ecstatic for the king’s arrival. To the government of Indonesia, Salman is seen as an opportunity for Indonesia to increase cooperation with Middle East states—not just Saudi Arabia. However, the Indonesian populace view Salman as something more than just a sign of Indonesia’s warming relationship with the Saudis.
To Indonesian Muslims, particularly those of the more fanatical nature, Salman is a sign of a changing paradigm. The man who represents the end of Indonesia’s secularist facets and acceptance of beliefs other than Islam (Staff, 2017). At worst, he would be a symbol of Islam’s superiority in Indonesia. They were, and still are, quite fervent defenders of Salman and his reputation.
When the immensely popular comedy show Opera van Java—commonly known as OVJ—performed a skit involving Salman, his Indonesian defenders were quick to react. One of OVJ’s main actors, Denny Cagur, played a caricature of King Salman. He did not insult Salman’s beliefs, the culture of Saudi Arabia, or behaved in any way that could be seen as malicious. What Cagur sought to do was basically make people laugh. A goal as innocent as any. Yet apparently such an aim is a sin to some Indonesia.
Viewers of OVJ, or anyone who heard the news of Salman’s portrayal by Cagur immediately called for Indonesia’s government to take action. KPI—Broadcast Commission of Indonesia—was stormed with countless complaints. With internet users voicing their disapproval of OVJ’s skit. One anonymous poster expressed his outrage (Staff, 2017),
OVJ needs to be put down, it has no sense of ethics. Even nobles from other countries are made into jokes[…] Why should majestic guests be made into jokes? […] It’s really not funny. KPI, please do something, just shut down OVJ.
I dare say that I do not need to elaborate on the ridiculousness of the above fusser’s complaint. As his words truly do reflect how particular citizens of Indonesia cannot accept that a figure they worship are not immune from the mildest teasing. Though it should still be noted that the anonymous complainer failed to illustrate why poking fun at Salman is an immoral act; merely howling that it is, well… wrong.
The anonymous poster is a reflection of how numerous Indonesians conceive of free speech. That is to say Indonesians are allowed to voice their ideas, praises, criticisms, et cetera. But God forbid anyone speak ill of an idolized character. In a sense, the Indonesian public act in a manner identical to their governing body. They may have different standards and agendas, but they are completely willing to prevent their fellow men and women from voicing their thoughts.
Indonesia is by no means a state that values humanity’s right to free speech. Its government as well as certain crowds from the common people may say that man has the right to say whatever they want. Yet should we speak in a fashion that upsets them, then our right to free speech would be immediately revoked. At the government’s hands, we would face the threat of jail time, whilst when the public are involved we would either be beset by mockeries, threats, or whatever else could be conjured up.
Schonhardt, S. (2010). Indonesia and Free Speech. The Diplomat. Retrieved from http://
Staff. (2017). Bergaya Ala Raja Salman, Candaan Denny Cagur di ‘OVJ’ Dikecam Netizen. Wow
Keren. Retrieved from http://www.wowkeren.com/berita/tampil/00151829.html
Staff. (2017). Raja Salman, Renggangnya Hubungan dengan Mesir dan Kunjungan ke
Indonesia. Media Dakwah Islam. Retrieved from https://mediadakwahislam.com/