Exclusive! Fadli Zon: Indonesia Must Take Benefits From The Tensions Between America And China
According to the Head of BKSAP Fadli Zon, Indonesia must take benefits from the tension between America - China. (Photo: Savic Rabos, DI: Raga VOI)

Tensions between the United States and China continue to occur, from trade wars to entering the political sphere. According to the Chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation Agency (BKSAP) of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Indonesia (DPR RI) Dr. H. Fadli Zon, SS., MSc., Indonesia must take advantage of this condition.

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The geopolitical map of the world changed drastically after the Soviet Union collapsed. The polarization that previously occurred between the Western bloc and the Eastern bloc has now changed to between the United States on one side and China on the other. Both compete to stick their nails in various parts of the world.

This situation, according to Fadli Zon, does not need to be too worried, but on the contrary, it must be optimized so that there are benefits for Indonesia's national interests. "I think we should take advantage of this situation. Just like before Bung Hatta said we have to row between two rocks because the situation is still bipolar," said this politician from the Gerindra Party.

Indonesian leaders, continued Fadli, must be able to approach the two countries. "If the United States feels that it has an interest in the South China Sea region, we should also receive support from America. We also have to get support from China. And China shouldn't let its ships enter and conduct exploration in our exclusive economic zone," he stressed.

Because of that Fadli called on anyone who will lead Indonesia in the future to really understand mapping like this. Global geopolitics must be understood so that there are no wrong steps and policy decisions. “The next leader must have a strong international vision. He must know what our coordinates are in the eyes of the world. Because it will also make it easier for us to get investment and various kinds of benefits. If we play an active role, we will be appreciated and respected by the international community. Of course, they also have faith in us. So we shouldn't be like frogs in a shell," said Fadli Zon to Iqbal Irsyad, Edy Suherli, Savic Rabos, and Rifai from VOI who met him at the Fadli Zon Creative House, in Cimanggis, Depok, West Java recently. Here is the excerpt.

Fadli Zon, menyerukan agar dunia mengutuk Israel yang belakangan menembaki warga di kamp Jenin. (Foto Savic Sabo, DI: Raga VOI)
Fadli Zon, called on the world to condemn Israel, which recently opened fire on residents in the Jenin camp. (Photo: Savic Rabos, DI: Raga VOI)

You have just led the BKSAP DPR RI delegation to attend the 13th Asian Parliament Session in Antalya, Turkiye, on January 8-10 2022, what was the result?

BKSAP is the focal point of parliamentary diplomacy. In addition to the traditional duties of the DPR making laws, controlling, and budgeting, there is also parliamentary diplomacy. The spearhead of diplomacy is BKSAP. So we carry out parliamentary diplomacy tasks to almost all parliamentary institutions and organizations around the world. Such as the World Parliamentary Organization (Inter-Parliamentary Union), Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum), Asian Parliamentary Assembly, ASEAN Parliamentary Organization (Inter Parliamentary Assembly). There is also the Islamic Country Parliamentary Organization (Parliamentary Union Islamic Country). Through this parliamentary organization, we are present and convey the aspirations of the Indonesian people to the world community.

We are always active in conveying resolutions regarding the latest developments in various parts of the world. At the IPA forum we conveyed maritime security issues related to the South China Sea conflict and the Rohingya issue in Myanmar, and it was accepted. For Palestine, our proposal was discussed in the APA forum. But now the Palestinian issue is getting more complicated because currently, the regime that leads Israel is from hardliners. The world must curse Israel so that their killings can be stopped.

We create a network with more than 40 countries from Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America. So it's not just Islamic countries, all countries that are concerned about the Palestinian issue are involved.

The world's geopolitics are still unstable, Russia and Ukraine are still at war, what can be done to fix the situation?

Almost a year Russia invaded Ukraine (February 2022). At the last IPU forum, we proposed a Task Force to settle Ukraine and Russia, and it was accepted, even with debate. There are eight people representing each region; Latin America, Asia Pacific, Africa and Europe, I represent Asia Pacific. We have visited Ukraine and Russia to help solve problems through dialogue. The IPU is the only organization that can be accepted by both parties, the UN cannot. Efforts to reconcile the two countries are still being carried out today. Last December we made efforts to reconcile the two. There are lots of interests from other countries, because they were harmed by the war between Ukraine and Russia.

Jokowi has visited Ukraine and Russia, but things haven't changed much, what else should be done?

President Jokowi's visit to Kiev and Moscow at that time, in my opinion, was a strategic step. Because from an Asian country, Indonesia is the only head of state who has visited the two countries to seek peace. Due to the problem of distance, the approach taken by Indonesia is not optimal. It is Turkiye (Turkey) that takes on more of a role because the country has direct borders, only separated by the Black Sea with Ukraine and Russia. Food export routes were also opened through the Bosphorus Strait, Turkiye.

America and European Union countries side with Ukraine, doesn't this exacerbate the situation?

Some argue that this is a matter of proxies from Western countries. This is a dilemma for Ukraine. If you don't get help, Russia can take it over. From the Russian side, they want to protect Russian-speaking citizens, especially in the Donetsk and Luhans'k areas, which have been suffering since 2014. Arms aid from Western countries has indeed strengthened Ukrainian troops, but on the other hand, it has prolonged the war. This is a dilemma, like pouring gasoline in the middle of a fire. The poor are the civilians, they are the ones who have suffered the most from this war.

So far, Indonesia has paid little attention to Asia Pacific countries. What should we do in the future?

Indeed, Indonesia pays less attention to countries in the Pacific. Our direction is more toward Asia. Even though their voice in the UN is there. Because I am one country, I have one vote in the United Nations. We hope that a country that was friendly to us because we had it full time in 2014. When I was just becoming Deputy Speaker of the DPR at that time there was cooperation with Vanuatu, but when they changed regimes, they became anti-Indonesian.

Previously, there were 6 Pacific countries, now there is only one left. We have to approach countries like Fiji, Solomon Island, Kiribati, Nauru, Tuvalu, etc. So far, our trade balance with these countries is small, but this must be seen as a potential that can be optimized. The partnership between the Indonesian parliament and countries in Asia Pacific must be fostered again.

Menurut Fadli Zon, kehadiran politisi Amerika di Taiwan justru memperkeruh keadaan, hubungan China dan Taiwan meningkat ekskalasinya. (Foto Savic Sabo, DI: Raga VOI)
According to Fadli Zon, the presence of American politicians in Taiwan actually made matters worse, relations between China and Taiwan escalated. (Photo: Savic Rabos, DI: Raga VOI)

If we look at the Asian region, where there is tension in Korea, Taiwan, and the South China Sea, what can be done because this could explode and spread to various regions?

Related to Asia there are APA and IPA forums. We do not want tensions in the South China Sea and Taiwan to escalate. But this condition was partly triggered by United States politicians who overacted, there was Nancy Pelosi who came. This is pointless, only increasing the China-Taiwan escalation.

In my opinion, this issue is the root of the conflict between the United States and China. While in office, Donald Trump openly declared a trade war with China. From the parliamentary side, we are trying to promote multilateralism, not unilateralism, because that could trigger a war. At APA we emphasized multilateralism, at that time there was also a Chinese delegation. There are so many problems in this world that can trigger the Third World War.

The conflict between Palestine and Israel is getting more complicated, Israel is killing Palestinians in Jenin Camp, what can be done?

There must be UN intervention to mediate the situation, and the resolutions that have been made must be realized. The issue of Palestine is not only faced by the Muslim community, but also the Christian community there. The Zionist extremists in the occupied territories are getting more ferocious and rampant. They want to control Islamic and Christian sites. Part of the Aqsa Mosque complex has been acquired to become a synagogue. Relations between Muslims and Christians in Palestine are good, also from Orthodox Jews, the bad ones are the Zionists who are in power. Indonesia's position must not normalize relations with Israel. We have a debt with Palestine which supported Indonesia when it first became independent.

In the context of heated relations between the United States and China, what is Indonesia's position in the future, especially ahead of the 2024 elections?

If I look at Indonesia's foreign policy, it is essentially the national interest. So Indonesia must be able to take advantage of this situation for our national interests, either with the United States or China. In the past, we were considered close to America and we got a lot of support, aid, and investment. Now we are considered close to China, but do we also get a lot of support, help, and so on?

How is the relationship between Indonesia and China in reality?

Economically, many countries are dependent on China at this time, including us. What happened in China will definitely have implications for us. Growth in China is down, we will also be down. So the implications are strong. But America is now starting to see Indo-Pacific again. The other day they applied to be observers at a science forum, this hasn't happened in a long time. It was Nancy Pelosi who was coming. But in the election, he lost. Finally, the one who came from the House of Representatives and senators representing the United States.

So how attractive is Southeast Asia to America right now?

So I think we should take advantage of this situation. Just like before Bung Hatta said we have to row between two rocks because the situation is still bipolar. There are two poles between Western and Eastern groups, between capitalist liberalism. If the United States feels that it has an interest in the South China Sea area, we should also receive support from the United States. We also have to get support from China. And China's ships enter and conduct exploration in our exclusive economic zone.

Now, China's practice is like capitalism too, is it different from China in the past?

In this case, China's formal ideology is still communist, the same as Vietnam's, the ideology is still the same as yesterday. But since Deng Xiaoping's reforms, China has turned into Chinese-style socialism. But that's not the case. In this global competition, there are those who want to be the sole ruler, there are those who still want to share. Right now the ones fighting are China and the United States. This must be utilized. Usually, economic power easily turns into political power, military power, and other powers. This can be seen from the extraordinary progress of China's defense equipment.

What should be our role in the midst of such an arrangement?

Indonesia can still play its role. Because Indonesia can actually be a country that is considered by all parties. But the reality is that we ourselves may not think we can. So we are actually expected to play a role but we don't take that role. We are busy with things that are not substantial.

So in the future facing China on the one hand and America on the other hand, Indonesia must take advantage of this situation?

Indonesia is indeed in a strategic position, our market share is also large, now there are more than 276 million people. We are also considered a leader in the Southeast Asia region. Then we also have quite a lot of rainforest, not inferior to those in the Congo and Amazon. We have lots of natural resources. We are big and very strategic. This is what must be optimized. Moreover, there are many productive young people in Indonesia, in contrast to developed countries like Japan, where there are more elders.

Has our government optimized this situation?

I haven't seen yet, the potential is so big it's not optimal. There have been efforts but not optimal. If we look at it, for example, in the Russia-Ukraine conflict or the Taliban. When there was a conflict in the Taliban, we actually had political capital, we had invited the Taliban here. But what plays a role later is Qatar. Because they are close to all parties and involved. Indonesia should be a leader in countries with a Muslim population and they hope that Indonesia will find a solution.

Should Indonesia's future leaders understand this kind of mapping?

In my opinion, future leaders must have a strong international vision. He must know what our coordinates are in the eyes of the world. Because it will also make it easier for us to get investments, and get various kinds of benefits. If we play an active role, we will be valued and respected by the international community. Of course, they also have faith in us. So we shouldn't be like frogs in a shell.

Fadli Zon Creative House, Efforts to Save the Nation's Cultural Heritage

Fadli Zon terpanggil untuk menyelamatkan warisan budaya bangsa dengan menyimpannya di Rumah Kreatif Fadli Zon. (Foto Savic Sabo, DI: Raga VOI)
Fadli Zon is called to save the nation's cultural heritage by storing it in the Fadli Zon Creative House. (Photo: Savic Rabos, DI: Raga VOI)

Various collections of the nation's cultural heritage are stored neatly in the Fadli Zon Creative House (RKFZ). The owner of the place who is also the chairman of the DPR RI Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation Agency (BKSAP), Dr. H. Fadli Zon, SS., MSc., is called to save the nation's cultural heritage so that it can be enjoyed by the next generation.

At first, glance when arriving at RKFZ it is no different from most of the houses in Bumi Cimanggis Indah Housing Complex, Pekapuran Street, Curug, Cimanggis, Depok, West Java. However, when you arrive at the yard, you can see a significant difference, especially when you enter the house.

What distinguishes this house is of course the collection it has. Starting from books, comics, wayang kulit, and wayang golek, ceramics, pottery, ancient statues, wooden statues, old batik cloth, keris, vinyl records, paintings, old bottles, antique household utensils, ancient animal fossils, and other antique objects. All were collected by Fadli Zon not in a day or two, but for years.

"The collection of wayang golek and wayang kulit here totals around 5,000 and has been able to make a MURI record. Some are hundreds of years old and some are tens of years. Then there is a collection of around 11,000 LPs, our comic collection has around 40,000 Indonesian comics from time to time," said Fadli who asked experts to check the authenticity of the items he will collect.

Prior to establishing the RKFZ, Fadli first established the Fadli Zon Library (FZL) which is located in Bendungan Hilir, Central Jakarta. “Apart from the library which houses a lot of books, there is also a collection of ancient maps, papyrus, gramophone records, and others. Over time my library could not accommodate the growing collection. Then part of the collection was transferred to the RKFZ," said the man who completed his education at the Russian Studies Program, Faculty of Letters, University of Indonesia (1997).

The keris collection received special attention from Fadli. “The keris can be seen from two sides, esoteric and exoteric. The keris is part of the reflection of our desires. Kerises are made with a specific purpose that is full of meaning," said Fadli, who assigned a special employee to take care of his collection of kerises.

Cataloging and Digitization

Fadli Zon memanggil para ahli untuk melakukan kurasi dan katalogisasi atas warisan budaya yang dikoleksinya di RKFZ. (Foto Savic Sabo, DI: Raga VOI)
Fadli Zon summoned experts to curate and catalog the cultural heritage he has collected at RKFZ. (Photo: Savic Rabos, DI: Raga VOI)

Fadli Zon has put together this collection because he has a calling to save Indonesia's cultural heritage for non-commercial, educational, and dimensional purposes. To keep his collection organized and maintained, he cataloged and then digitized his collections, such as books, old newspapers, ancient manuscripts, papyrus, and comics.

"So I made catalogs including books, wayang, daggers, and vinyl records. My goal is to make an encyclopedia of Indonesian gramophone records from scratch. If I'm not mistaken, the first recorded song was the Indonesian song 1904, which was still in the form of a signature," said Fadli, who was looking for it himself, and sometimes someone came to offer his collection.

Fadli gradually completed program after program to save his collection. "So the next plan is I want to do digitalization. But I want to finish the cataloging first," said Fadli, who involved a librarian from the University of Indonesia.

Fadli is open to anyone who wants to come to the RKFZ, but not just sightseeing but those who have a purpose. "If you just have to look around, it's not necessary, but if it's for research, please research, we'll welcome it with open arms," ​​said this man of Minang blood but who grew up in Cisarua, Bogor. "Especially later when it has been digitized it will be even easier to access," he added.

Idris Sardi

Sebagai bentuk apresiasi pada mastro biola Indonesia, Fadli Zon mengabadikan nama Idris Sardi menjadi salah satu ruangan di RKFZ. (Foto Savic Sabo, DI: Raga VOI)
As a form of appreciation for the Indonesian violin master, Fadli Zon immortalized the name Idris Sardi as one of the rooms at the RKFZ. (Photo: Savic Rabos, DI: Raga VOI)

The late Indonesian violin maestro Idris Sardi had a special relationship with Fadli. Before leaving forever, Idris used FZL and RKFZ as a place to teach his students the violin. It's no wonder that at RKFZ there is a large room or hall named Idris Sardi.

“Before the reform, Idris Sardri made FZL a place to teach his students. When I made the RKFZ I also provided this place as a means for the maestro to teach his students. That's why I dedicate one of the rooms here with his name," said Fadli, who has never counted how much he spent to collect his collection.

When actor Lukman Sardi's biological father breathed his last, he was laid to rest at RKFZ before he was buried at the Menteng Pulo Public Cemetery, South Jakarta on April 28, 2014. "It is also an honor for us that his body is laid to rest here," said Fadli Zon who was born in Jakarta, on June 1, 1971.

 

"Indonesia can still play its role, because Indonesia can actually become a country that is considered by all parties. But in reality we ourselves may not think we can. So we are actually expected to play a role but we don't take that role. We are busy with other unsubstantial things."

Fadli Zon

  


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