This is a tribute to Bapak Ali Syarif, his vision, his energy, his enthusiasm and his openness to and acceptance of other Peoples, other Cultures, other Religions and other points of view.
I have known Ali since my appointment as an Australian Business Volunteer for an assignment at Sekolah Menengah Atas (SMA) Mukti Mandiri in Cirebon from March to June in 2006. He is the quintessential Indonesian, the embodiment of all I find most attractive about Indonesian Adat-Istiadat and Culture. He is calm and patient and his friendliness, willingness to help and understand, and his openness to new People and new ideas exhibits the Indonesian Mind and World View at its best. As the Australian Business Volunteers’ Representative in Indonesia at the time of my appointment in Cirebon Ali was a Person I instinctively felt I could trust and rely on totally.
Ali is a person of high integrity and this is recognized by all those who know him well. He is a trusted Confidant of many Indonesians at the highest level of Politics, Business and Commerce, Education, the Armed Forces and other Sectors of Indonesian Life. He has a very sincere and very well-developed common touch and he has and makes time to listen to and help those who are striving for a better life, striving for a better/higher Education for themselves, striving for a place in the Indonesian sun, a place which is at present denied them by self-seeking and greedy richer echelons in Indonesian Society. He seeks to instil in all levels of Indonesian Society the ideals of service and sacrifice which were so evident in the Revolutionary Years when all Indonesians cooperated in striving to achieve a common goal.
Ali is an Idealist in the best sense of the word – always seeking practical measures to bring into reality his vision of Indonesian Society. This is evidenced by his wholehearted support for endeavours to ensure that ethics and ethical considerations inform all Indonesian Political Life, all sectors of Indonesian Society. This is evidenced by his emphasis on bringing into reality the deepest-felt aspirations of Indonesians – in his emphasis on HANURA – Hati Nurani Rakyat.
At a time when many Indonesians consider that the way forward can be achieved by the abandonment of Traditional Indonesian Values (a blog will follow on the projection of negative or anti- attitudes towards Traditional Indonesian Values by many Indonesians who perceive themselves as “movers and shakers”, in line with the disastrous environmental and economic policies of the West ( One could cite as an example members of various Yayasans), Ali stands out as a bastion, as an outstanding example, for those who are striving and yearning for a return to Traditional Indonesian Values. These values include the principles of the Pancasila (more honoured in the breach than in the observance), and of the 1945 Constitution, the traditional values of gotong-royong, musyawarah, the return to a willingness to sacrifice oneself for the good of the Nation and of one’s Fellow Citizens. This is the Spirit given life and brought into the reality of human affairs by those 8,000+ Heroes (including my Brother-in-Law) who are interred in Taman Pahlawan Kalibata, a Spirit belittled and dishonoured in public life by many who seek only to enrich themselves at the expense of others and of their sacred duty.
Ali is involved/the main driving force in a number of projects, the aim of which is to produce a better Indonesia for so many of its poorer disadvantaged Citizens, the wong cilik who have nothing and who have nothing to hope for, and whose welfare is completely ignored by many of those in power today and by definition in a position to take measures to relieve their suffering and sense of hopelessness. The reversal of this process is Ali’s principal objective which Insy’Allah will be achieved as more and more Indonesians, particularly those at the highest level, devote themselves to this noble cause.
Ali is the prototype of the Indonesian who will effect a recovery of the Indonesian National Spirit and Identity and will return Indonesia to being the envy of all other Nations for the strength power and authority of its National Character which will carry over into an intense desire and drive to create the “masyarakat adil dan makmur” aspired to by President Soekarno and all the Indonesian People but which has so far proved extremely elusive.
It is beyond comprehension why and how it happened that Ali was replaced as the Australian Business Volunteers’ Representative in Indonesia. Australian Business Volunteers deserves to be represented by People of the highest integrity and character, with a vision for the Indonesia of the future.
Richard J Whittington OAM