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Abdurrahman Wahid : Muslim Democrat Indonesian President, A View From Inside

Greg, Barton (2002) Abdurrahman Wahid : Muslim Democrat Indonesian President, A View From Inside. University of New South Wales Press Ltd, Sidney.

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Few biographers like to imagine that their own subject is anything less than unusual and interesting. I certainly feel the same way about the focus of this biography for the most subjective of reasons, but I also believe that there are objective reasons for regarding Abdurrahman Wahid, or Gus Dur as he is known affectionately by tens of millions, as representing a most remarkable subject. I am also well aware that I have written a rather unusual biography. By the conventions of the genre, a serious biography is generally hammered out in long sessions examining archives or interviewing dozens of people who knew the subject, all of which is documented in extensive footnotes. The approach that I have taken is somewhat dif- ferent, for while this biography does benefit from extensive reading and research and from numerous interviews with a wide range of individu- als, it deliberately focuses on the subject’s own account. The reason is simple: I had a unique opportunity to observe and interact with Abdurrahman during a critical period of his life and was therefore in a position to give a firsthand account. I was privileged to be given remarkable access to Abdurrahman throughout his political campaign after the fall of Suharto and throughout his presidency; I spent hun- dreds of hours with him during this period, having already come to know him very well since first meeting him in the late 1980s. During6 his 21-month presidency I spent about seven months as his guest, ris- ing most mornings at 4.30 am to spend the first three hours of the day with him. I was also able to travel with him around Indonesia, and occasionally abroad, and observe him at work as president. It seemed to me that, because both Abdurrahman and his world of traditionalist Islam are frequently misunderstood, even within Indonesia, an account that attempted to understand the man and his world empathetically from his point of view would have significant value, especially if it drew on firsthand observation. This does not mean that the approach I have taken is uncritical. On the contrary, I have wrestled with this material over many years and in the later chapters in particular this has led me to make a series of crit- ical observations. This is made easier for me because the bulk of this book focuses on the period since I have come to know Abdurrahman and was able to observe many of the key developments described here. What this means, of course, is that this is a very personal and subjec- tive account. This is both its strength and its weakness, but in this it is not so different from other biographies as might first appear. All biog- raphies are essentially interpretations of an individual’s life, and none is entirely objective in an absolute sense. Some benefit from decades — even centuries — of critical distance and vast bodies of earlier scholar- ship; others from direct access to more immediate sources. There are advantages and disadvantages with each. Consequently, although I believe that it is important that future biographers of Abdurrahman Wahid draw on material other than what I have used here, I don’t believe that the approach taken here is any less valid. Another defining characteristic of this account is that it is deliber- ately written to be accessible to as broad a readership as possible. As a professional academic I have found it the most challenging piece of writing that I have ever undertaken. I have spent years wrestling with trying to understand Abdurrahman and attempting to establish a coherent interpretation, so far as it is possible, of his convictions and behaviour. It seemed to me that there was little benefit in burdening the reader with an account of my struggles. Instead, I have tried to present the results of my research as straightforwardly as possible while also tying my reading of events into what I hope is a reasonably vivid nar- rative account. I owe a great debt to many people with whom I have talked about Abdurrahman over the years; only a small number of them are mentioned by name in the acknowledgements that follow. Many of these conver- sations took the form of formal interviews, a number of which were recorded; others took the form of conversations of a kind that it did not seem appropriate to record. Indeed many of these conversations were so intimate that even to refer to them in footnotes was not appropriate. In recent years I have often had opportunity to meet with government ministers, religious leaders, intellectuals, activists, military generals, and other members of the Indonesian elite and have enjoyed many fruitful conversations. Few of these are referred to directly in this volume but all of them contributed, in some way or other, to my understanding of events. I have also been in the fortunate position of being able to accompany Abdurrahman and witness many of the events described here. Frequently I have found my observations of what I saw are at vari- ance with contemporary accounts in the media. This does not mean, of course, that my recollection of events is always correct, or that it is always superior to media accounts. I have gained valuable insight both from reading accounts in the press and also from speaking directly with journalists. Nevertheless, I have oriented my account very much to what I have observed, in the hope that it communicates something to the reader that a secondhand account cannot do. During the process of researching this volume I have experienced tremendous emotional pressure. I have seen Abdurrahman’s strengths and weaknesses as few outside his immediate family have done. I have experienced extreme frustration and despair when he has made grave mistakes, as often happened during his presidency, and I have also seen something of the vision that drives him on. He has been a remarkably generous friend and has opened himself to me in a way in which few people would to a biographer. And while this account draws heavily, and therefore depends greatly, on firsthand observation and Abdurrahman’s own recollections, there is no sense in which I have been directed to write anything at all. At no point has he, or anyone around him, attempted to influence what I was writing. Naturally, this degree of trust, combined with my own sense of what is fair and ethical, has left me with a sense of where it is reasonable for this biography to go. There are certain areas that, it seemed to me, because of their personal nature, that I had no good reason to investigate in this book at this time. There were other matters, such as the affairs of Abdurrahman’s party, PKB, that I felt to be beyond the scope of this study, important though they no doubt are — this book is already too long as it is.

Item Type: Book
Additional Information: File lengkap dapat diunduh di https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B--F02-0TIp5RVdNSzFCQ3VHelU/view?usp=sharing
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Depositing User: Juhaidi Ahmad AJ
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2015 01:20
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2015 01:42
URI: http://idr.iain-antasari.ac.id/id/eprint/477

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