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Jakarta Post

JJ Rizal: Understanding today by searching yesterday

  • Julia Suryakusuma

    Contributor

Jakarta   /   Fri, November 5 2010   /  10:03 am

Julia Suryakusuma What does a 35-year-old native Betawi who was farmed out to his fish merchant grandfather at the age of two months and only learned to read when he was 10, and I, a diplomat’s daughter, have in common?
Three things at least. The first is that we were both inspired by the late historian Ong Hok Ham, who was always able to make history meaningful to the present (see my column “Madmen and Memories”, The Jakarta Post, Oct. 13, 2010); second, our conviction that the New Order was founded on historical manipulation and distortion, so digging up and presenting the (historical) truth is a priority of the Reform movement; and third, our love of books.These three factors are what compelled JJ Rizal to set up Kobam (Komunitas Bambu, Bamboo Community) in 1998, immediately after Soeharto stepped down. Rizal received many tempting offers of work and study (including a s...