in a land of idealists, thinkers and dreamers

Only here, all in two hours:

I reunite with the lady who as a fresh grad, refused to turn a blind eye to the children she saw on the streets, which began a lifelong cause.


On Labour Day, “Obor Marsinah” (Marsinah’s Torch) started its 11-day long tour to cities in Java. Marsinah was a worker activist at an Indonesian company in East Java, whose rape and murder 21 years ago drew international attention to the practices of the dictatorship and the suppression of workers. The torch tour is in celebration of her spirit and aims to generate public support and solidarity to secure justice for Marsinah and to spread the message of her courage among workers to resist intimidation from employers. Day 5 lands the torch in Semarang and I arrive just in time to hear the labour activist ask the crowd: “What kind of government do you want to vote in?”

I dine with a PDI-P candidate for the Central Java Legislative Assembly. A humble former activist and unlikely politician, I asked her what made her step up to party politics and she answered with crystal clear conviction: “Under this regime, we cannot achieve anything if I choose to work from outside the system.”

I drink teh with an activist whose tool for change is the written word, and whose works are inspired by the thoughts of Paulo Freire and Ivan Illich.

Finally, I end the evening in the “thinking den” of the resource persons of the Governor of Central Java. There, I meet the leader of the bunch, a former theatre-of-liberation member who, on hearing that I’m from Sekolah Seni Singapura, greets me warmly and asks if I know his friend, Wong Souk Yee of the Third Stage. For those of you who are too young to know what this name implies, here’s a google search for you.

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