Last week, I walked to the Department of Fine Art studio building of the Indonesia University of Education, which is located just next to the Faculty of Language and Arts building where I work. There were quite a few things that attracted my attention. One of them was this poster that contains a sharp criticism to the the government and capitalism.
Here is what the poster says (my translation):
(On the picture)
Your leaders cannot save you. THEY CAN ONLY TERRORIZE YOU.
Terrorism: Terror committed systematically, in the form of violence or intimidation, with the purpose of creataing fear. A technique used by the government to manipulate the views of the people with the goal of running an agenda.
And so on and so forth ...
The fear of terror is worse than terror itself. (Anonymous)
This poster is published by ...
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Eleven years ago, we would not have been able to see this kind of posters anywhere. If any, the freedom of speech we had was very limited. It was unthinkable to criticize the government as directly and sharply as this. But all this changed in 1998 with the advent of Gerakan Reformasi (Reform Movement). Since then our Constitution has been amended four times, new democratic institutions instituted, and freedom of speech guaranteed.
But is the freedom of speech always good? Supposedly it is. But it all depends on what you believe in and how it is exercised.