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Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
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Popular culture the latest fashion to improve diplomatic relations

  • Cemara Dinda

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sat, May 28 2016 | 09:24 am
Popular culture the latest fashion to improve diplomatic relations Playing his part: Robert O. Blake Jr. (second left) and Harris J. (left, blue shirt) appear in a scene from Salam, a soap opera that will be aired on RCTI to welcome the fasting month of Ramadhan.(Courtesy of Digitan Network Aestetik (DNA) Productions)" border="0" height="305" width="510">Playing his part: Robert O. Blake Jr. (second left) and Harris J. (left, blue shirt) appear in a scene from Salam, a soap opera that will be aired on RCTI to welcome the fasting month of Ramadhan.(Courtesy of Digitan Network Aestetik (DNA) Productions)

From visiting mosques and cycling to performing in soap operas, a number of foreign ambassadors in Indonesia have developed their own diplomatic strategies to get closer to the local people.

US Ambassador Robert O. Blake Jr. snatched the opportunity to interact with a greater number of Indonesians by appearing in Salam, a new religious soap opera series on the private TV station RCTI.

In Salam, slated to be aired on June 6 to welcome the holy month of Ramadhan, Blake acts beside Harris J. — a British Muslim singer from London. He will appear as a cameo in one of its 30 episodes.

“This year, I was fortunate to collaborate with Harris J. and my reputation increased considerably after that,” he exclaimed during a recent launch of Salam at the US Embassy’s cultural center @america in Pacific Place, South Jakarta, referring to an increase in the number of his Twitter followers.

The popularity of soap operas in this country is so large that it is very common to see locals glued to certain TV channels at certain hours. In fact, Blake has had his share of cameos. Previously, he appeared in Preman Pensiun (Retired Thug), also on RCTI, and Emak Ijah Pengen ke Mekah (Emak Ijah Wants to Go to Mecca).

Interaction with Indonesians is of great importance in building strong relations between the two countries, the ambassador says. He says one of the greatest collaborations the embassy has made is by appearing in the soap opera, where he got a chance to perform funny little skits with people.

“As ambassador, my job is to reach out to all of Indonesia, to 250 million Indonesians. So we try to do that through television, through Twitter, and through programs like sinetron because they reach audiences that we would not otherwise reach,” he said.

Blake says he also wants to encourage everyone to think of Ramadhan as a way to embrace differences.

Appearing in soap operas has not been his sole effort. Throughout his time in Indonesia, Robert has continuously visited Pesantrens to advocate ideas of peace and tolerance.

“You see, it’s not about me at all, because the wider message is to show a great respect for Islam, and for Muslims all around the world, particularly as the month of Ramadhan begins,” he said.

Easy rider: Danish Ambassador Casper Klynge rides with the Bike2Work community and Kompas Gramedia Community from the State Palace to the Danish Embassy in South Jakarta, located 6 kilometers away, in this 2014 photo.(JP/Seto Wardhana)

PREMIUM Playing his part: Robert O. Blake Jr. (second left) and Harris J. (left, blue shirt) appear in a scene from Salam, a soap opera that will be aired on RCTI to welcome the fasting month of Ramadhan.(Courtesy of Digitan Network Aestetik (DNA) Productions)From visiting mosques and cycling to performing in soap operas, a number of foreign ambassadors in Indonesia have developed their own diplomatic str...

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