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  • Passing of an Indonesian Giant


    Most Americans do not know Abdurrahman Wahid (more affectionately known as Gus Dur) – Indonesia’s fourth President. To American eyes, his appearance alone could be a bit disorienting and difficult to rationalize with his towering influence.

    Even as President of one of the world’s largest, most consequential countries, Gus Dur dressed in casual clothes and often slipped his sandals off in conversations with visiting dignitaries. At the time, 1999-2001, his informality was slightly absurd – a symbol for what seemed like a chaotic presidential administration. Certainly President Wahid made some questionable judgments as President, but in retrospect, the informality looks less like chaos and more like profound comfort, a tranquil confidence in himself, his nation and his faith. Wahid made no apologies for who he was. He was a truly fearless defender of Indonesia’s traditions of decency, tolerance, pluralism and constitutionalism – matters of not only national legacy, but personal legacy. And even as serious a man as he was, the young man who routinely skipped his classes at Al-Azhar to watch American movies and soccer was always just below the surface.

    Indonesia and the world will miss Gus Dur dearly. Fortunately, his legacy lives on in, among other things, two organizations he established, Libforall Foundation and The Wahid Institute. One can also hope that it is preserved in the spirit of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Muslim social service organization in the world, an organization founded by his grandfather, over which Gus Dur presided for a time, and in which he was long a leader.

    Gus Dur will probably not be remembered as one of Indonesia’s greatest presidents. But he will be remembered as one of its greatest men and hopefully a model for its future.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Passing of an Indonesian Giant

    1. Timothy McGovern tmcgovern says:

      I totally agree

    2. Bobbie Jay says:

      Nice picture of a guy who appears to like being around people and having fun at it's time.

      You can't judge a book by it's cover, but always judge a man by his character. The way to determine good vs evil.

      God Bless Gus Dur and his goodwill to mankind.

    3. Mike, New York says:

      One of the great statesman that people outside of Southeast Asia never herd of. Truly a great man who doesn't hold back punches and truly a fighter for all Indonesian. A great man have passed away.

    4. ind says:

      Goodbye Gus Dur…We love you…

    5. Tim Az says:

      Gus was living proof that a formal education cannot create character nor intelect. He danced intelectual circles around dignitaries while being comfortable in his own skin. An example for all.

    6. Pingback: Simple Fact for Malaysia: “Allah” Means “God”, Regardless of Religious Tradition | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    7. Pingback: Simple Fact for Malaysia: “Allah” Means “God”, Regardless of Religious Tradition | Conservative Principles Now

    8. Jackson, Denton, TX says:

      I worked and lived in Indonesia from 97-05. I witnessed presidential change of the guard four times during that period. At the time I arrived in 97 there had only been two presidents in their history since declaring independence in 1945; Sukarno '45-'65 when ex-military General Bapak (father) Soeharto seized control in '65, he declared Indonesia would be "One Island, One Nation, One language instead of the hundreds of dialects spoken throughout the islands. It was a good idea but there was a lot of unrest with citizens over the corruption and command-control permeating the government; he was deposed in 1998.

      In '98 when Pak (Mister) Wahid aka Gus Dur was elected with his Vice President Mbak Megawati, the country was elated. "Mega" Sukarnoputri (literally translated: "daughter of Sukarno") became the president when Gus Dur stepped down becoming the first woman president of Indonesia.

      Gus Dur was Mr. Laid Back. I will never forget the picture of him standing on the veranda of the presidential palace in his boxer shorts. He brought calm, peace, and confididence to a nation on the verge of internal chaos. God Rest his Gentle Soul.

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