What’s next after the bitter Jakarta election? A time to laugh, apparently

source: WallpaperUp

by: Harry Febrian

this article was first published on  Asian Correspondent 

IT’s been weeks since the controversial Jakarta regional election ended with the victory of Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno over the incumbent Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama and Djarot Saiful Hidayat.

While the contestation left a bitter scar to the fabric of Indonesian society—that probably won’t be healed easily (remember the incoming presidential election in 2019!)—it also shows another side of Indonesian traits: humor.

Or to be more specific, digital humor.

Over the course of the election, which spanned more than six months, Indonesians witnessed various events so absurd they decided to turn to digital media and laugh at it.

They create memes. Continue reading “What’s next after the bitter Jakarta election? A time to laugh, apparently”


A Long Road to First Fellowship

a pin/Harry Febrian
a pin/Harry Febrian

It’s probably easier to celebrate glorious moment rather than reflecting on the long hard process behind it.

I was once again reminded by this simple fact at the end of my NFP fellowship November last year. The fellowship — fully funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs — last only for 3 weeks, and it was a wonderful one. But behind it, there was 10 months long preparation, and probably much more than that.

It was all started in February 2016, as I first got the information about the course: Producing Media to Counter Radicalisation. It was held by RNTC, part of RNW Media, Netherland.

According to its website, RNW Media is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. Nowadays it transforms into a multimedia organisation promoting free speech in countries where freedom of expression is severely restricted.

I started my application for Netherlands Fellowships Programme in March 2016. It took 3 months to know the result. And with much luck, I was accepted.

First day of class/ Harry Febrian
First day of class/ Harry Febrian

It sounds easy when you put it in words, but it was anything but easy back then. To be honest, I cannot remember exactly how I got known about NFP because there are so many types of scholarships/fellowships that I read regularly and try to familiarize myself with. This particular habit can be traced back to 2009, when I first tried my luck to go abroad by applying to AMINEF Undergraduate Exchange Program and failed miserably: I didn’t even finish the application process, although I’ve got my TOEFL test result already.

To think about it, I owed several people along my line of study in high school and undergraduate that helped to nurture this dream to go abroad, which I still hold very dearly until today.

The AMINEF failure was an insightful one, though. I procrastinated a lot, but it taught me not to give up halfway trying. After that, all I know is trying, trying, and trying, without thinking much about the result. Continue reading “A Long Road to First Fellowship”

Ending Another Year

First Day of Fellowship/Harry Febrian

And here we go again. As cliché as it sounds, time do really flies–perhaps faster as we become older. When I woke up this morning, kinda hard to believe that it’s 2017 already. Last year was an interesting year. Many people freaked out at what happened in 2016. Some so creative they made 2016 as a horror movie. Other, as a comedy.

Despite of this, I personally thought that 2016, especially the last quarter, was one of the best years I had. To be honest, I tried to remember what happened earlier in 2016, but my short term memory loss really had me. So I turned to Facebook to help remind me of what I’d been through the whole year. Continue reading “Ending Another Year”

Why We Should Have ‘Revolusi Mental’ in Our Reading Habit

Reading Light/ Ryan Pendleton

by: Harry Febrian

This article was first published on the Global Indonesian Voices

Being a lecturer, there’s a sense of horror occupying my mind every time a new semester starts. This feeling, which I believe is also experienced by most of my fellow lecturers, is due to one simple reason: how to convince the students to read a book.

It’s supposed to be a normal thing. Lecturer uses a book to prepare teaching material and student read it before class. As the class begins, they will discuss the material and lively discussion will kick in. Everything seems perfectly fine.

Except it rarely does.

In fact, convincing students to read books becomes one terrifying task for a lecturer. I usually spent 15-20 minutes of my first class trying to persuade my student of how important it is for them to read – juggling my argument from physiological (how it improves your brain cell), emotion (it makes you relax), to psychological (it increases your empathy) perspectives and so on.

This semester, I got additional ammunition: ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). It is imperative, I said, that we read a book because we will have to compete with our neighboring countries, which are definitely hungry to hunt a jobs in Indonesia due to its economical growth prospect.

Continue reading “Why We Should Have ‘Revolusi Mental’ in Our Reading Habit”

Indonesia’s Small Acts of Defiance Can be Big Blow for IS

Dita Alangkara/AP
Dita Alangkara/AP

by: Harry Febrian

this article was first published in The Jakarta Post

Everybody was shocked by the attack in Jakarta on Jan. 14 that resulted in the deaths of eight people, including the alleged perpetrators, and dozens injured. Suddenly, Jakarta became the center of the world’s attention.

Terrorism is complicated and sometimes hard to define. Jeffrey D. Simon (1994), for example, reports that at least 212 different definitions of terrorism exist across the world. But from all the hustle and bustle of hundreds of definitions, researchers Alex Schmid and Albert Jungian from the University of Leiden found that “causing fear” is a concept that appears in 51 percent as the main component of terrorism.

As the tragedy was unfolding, emotional messages poured out through social media. People were angry, sad and shocked. But if fear was what the terrorists hoped to inflict, they failed.

Within hours, people took back social media in an act of defiance. People showed solidarity through hashtags, tweets, statuses and even memes. Jokes were exchanged, shared and reshared. Instead of talking about the terrorists, people discussed ordinary people: a satay seller who calmly grilled his wares near the crime scene, police personnel and their good looks, people taking selfies near the blast debris and much more. Some even took to Instagram, selling shoes similar to the ones worn by pictured police officers.

People have hailed this as an example of Indonesian resilience in the midst of terror. For some, this might be analyzed not as an act of bravery, but ignorance. The pessimism, of course, has a legitimate standing. But to see it in another perspective, especially from the Islamic State (IS) movement, which claimed responsibility for the attack, these trivial things can deal a huge blow to their plans to expand their network in Indonesia.

To understand this, we must go back to the beginning of IS. In 2014, the term “femtorisk” was coined by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America (PNAS). From the word “femto”, a prefix meaning one-quadrillionth, the term is used to refer “a numerically small phenomenon capable of exerting an outsized impact on global politics”.

Continue reading “Indonesia’s Small Acts of Defiance Can be Big Blow for IS”


Dear friend, self promotion is, ehm, a little bit awkward for me :D. But I need some help from you all! I’m participating in a cultural program from Indonesian Minister of Youth and Sports, to help me conduct some research. If you don’t mind, please help me to LIKE this Youtube video. Any help will be much appreciated 😀

thanks all!



In Fighting Radicalism, We Must Go Beyond Censorship

Christina Goggi/Flickr
Christina Goggi/Flickr

by: Harry Febrian

this article was first published in The Jakarta Post

The government’s move to ban websites allegedly promoting radical views should come as no surprise. After being bombarded by several extremist-related problems, such as the group of Indonesians who attempted to cross over to Syria via Turkey and the broadcast of videos in the Malay language used to woo Indonesians to join the Islamic State (IS) movement, the government was forced to do something.

It has been somewhat of a pattern. Whenever signs of radicalism arise, the government reacts. But sadly, oftentimes it only shows that the government lacks the initiative to fight the radicals and can only generate hasty and reactive moves. Continue reading “In Fighting Radicalism, We Must Go Beyond Censorship”