Goenawan Mohamad

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Goenawan Mohamad
Goenawan Mohamad © Photo by Wahidur Rahman Khandkar Czhoton

Article

Outspoken Indonesian intellectual

Goenawan Mohamad is founder and editor of Tempo Magazine, Indonesia´s most widely circulated weekly. His magazine was officially banned in 1994, but reopened in October 2003, following the ousting of Indonesian President Suharto.
Goenawan Mohamad writes critical remarks on the press, on the massive corruption and lack of human rights and of democratic tradition in Indonesia. His tireless fight for freedom of expression has led to the foundation of several new media organisations and made the Indonesian press one of the most free in South Asia.

Writer, editor, activist, and poet, for more than 30 years Goenawan has set standards for journalists around the world. Ever hopeful, he looks forward to continuing change in Indonesia. "It´s like building a new country", he says.

With his daily column Goenawan Mohamad influences the political agenda in Tempo Magazine - Indonesia´s answer to Time Magazine - which he founded in 1971. As a writer and poet, his critical engagement led him to criticise the undemocratic regime of President Suharto. Tempo, which quickly turned out to be the mouthpiece of the opposition, was closed in 1994 after years of harassment.

Goenawan Mohamad then established AJI - The Alliance of Independent Journalists - Indonesia´s first independent journalist association. He also started ISAI - Institute for Studies in the Free Flow of Information - which documents harassment on the Indonesian press. ISAI also gives training courses for student journalists to show them how to produce newspapers more professionally and convincingly.

"It was a new way of circumventing the information blockage by the government. We published instant books on current affairs. They were usually banned after about a year, but by then they had been circulated clandestinely, including to campus newspapers all over the country", Goenawan Mohamad says in an interview in World Press Review to reporter Charles Stokes.

Goenawan Mohamad also reoriented the weekly magazine D&R, from a tabloid to a political magazine, based on former TEMPO reporters.

When Tempo Magazine was reopened, it had reduced its size but its importance remained. Tempo is now part of a more democratic Indonesian media landscape, which has perhaps the most free press in the whole of South Asia, thanks to Goenawan Mohammed´s tireless fight.

Since the fight for freedom of expression were won, Goenwan Mohamad has concentrated on the rebuilding of the democratic Indonesia - without corruption, chaos and based on respect for human rights.

Today Goenawan Mohamad is a recognised intellectual and participants in conferences all over the world. He represented Indonesia during a cultural conference in 2001 in the White House hosted by Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright.
Author: Karin Bergquist

Bio

Goenawan was born in 1946 in the small town of Batang in Central Java.

Before he was 18, he had already had poems and essays published. At the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, he studied psychology and philosophy. Then he went into journalism.

1971: Goenawan Mohamad founded Tempo Magazine - Indonesia´s answer to Time Magazine.

Works

Tempo Magasine

Published Written,
1971
In 1971 Goenawan Mohamad founded Tempo Magasine - Indonesia´s answer to Time Magazine. During his daily column Goenawan Mohamad influences the political agenda in Indonesia. As a writer and poet, his critical engagement led him to critisize the undemocratic regime of President Soeharto. Tempo, which quickly turned out to be the mouthpiece of the opposition, was closed in 1994 after years of harassment. It later reopened, in a smaller coverage, but its importance has remained the same and is naow part of a media landscape, which is perhaps the most free in the whole of South Asia.

Merits

1998: He received the Committee to Protect Journalists International Press Freedoms Price.

1999: He was nominated by "World Press Review" as international editor of the year.

Furthermore, he has won a Harvard University Nieman Fellowship for journalism, and the Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Images of Asia

(08 August 03 - 26 September 03)