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NOTES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF FAHRI HAMZAH’S ARRIVAL IN MENADO (1): Fahri Hamzah’s Tranquil Visage

I still remember vividly the visage of Fahri Hamzah as soon as he got off the plane at Sam Ratulangi Airport Menado and was picked up by Vice Governor Steven Kandouw yesterday (13/5). He seemed serene. The look on his face showed no signs of restlessness. Occasionally he talked and jested with Mr. Steven Kandouw.

I accompanied him and heard his every word. The news on the arrival of Fahri Hamzah on his Official Visit to Menado apparently had been heard by the people of Manado. God knows who started the provocation. Rumors spread like wild fire. Fahri was the Secretary General of FPI. Fahri came with the General Secretary of FPI. Fahri was pro corruptors. Fahri Hamzah (was) a Wahhabi who (intended to) destroy the country. Fahri’s arrival to Menado was to provoke and divide the people of Menado.

These rumors are really irresponsible. It was uncertain who started them. Rest assured, we know for sure that they were injected into the heads of the Menado. In the post-truth era where information comes quickly without a verification room and a willingness to verify fairly, many social events will ultimately harm us. We are driven by an issue that is not necessarily true of the content.

The previous night (12/5), while were still in Makassar, we did hear some people provoking through social media to reject Fahri Hamzah. The frills of the reason for his rejection amused us. It was too contrived. We were also aware of the screenshots of media conversation about the anger of people in Menado. But FH – as we dearly called him – decided we must go to Menado. He was calm about the issue.

His official visit was an effort to strengthen his national commitment and the way to open a dialogue to find mutual understanding as a nation of people diverse in cultures and views. His presence as Deputy Speaker of the House is also a signal that the leadership of the country must exist in the midst of all angst and anger of the people. It absorbs all the feelings and the hearts of the people. Because then we can provide more space in our hearts and minds to understand what the voices are like in these different places. And that is the hallmark of the real leader of the nation.

I was still near FH when he talked to Mr. Steven. Incoming reports from airport security informed that the Governor of North Sulawesi Olly Dondokambey was giving speech to calm the masses. A statement of Olly’s cited by the media is that the people of North Sulawesi must maintain their honor and do not bring about embarrassment. Respect their guests who visit. Moreover, those who come bringing good. Mr. Olly showed his class as a mature and wise leader of the people of North Sulawesi.

The previous night (12/5) Mr. Olly also directed the youth organizations about the goal and purpose of FH’s visit to Menado. This is in order not to stage protests and rather discuss things in the national dialogue. So far there was no clear reason as to what started the protests that occurred this afternoon.

Hearing Mr. Olly giving speech in the midst of mass, FH offered to participate. For FH, people protest is a sign of love. There is no problems with the protest. If need be, meet and invite them to a heart to heart dialogue. After all they are still fellow Indonesians. They still highly uphold the eastern culture. They still have ‘adab’ and courtesy, inheritance of their ancestors. They all still have love and a sense of brotherhood. It is impossible for us to hurt each other just because of our petty differences in view that there is actually a solution. Unless this action is merely a provocation.

But airport security and Mr. Steven suggested to FH to not show up first. FH said the host knew better of the conditions and situations. Yet FH remained calm. He showed no apparent concern. Likewise, when Mr. Olly met FH after FH’s speech some time later. The host decided to go to the governor’s office through another route. FH went along and there was no anxiety. He was with the Governor and Vice Governor in the same car. We were in another car.

We were amazed at his calm visage and composure.

One thing I believe. It’s a test of his statesmanship. This is the way the people of North Sulawesi show their love to its leader. FH is being prepared for an upgrade to become a statesman capable of embracing the differences and of blending them into the power of this remarkable nation.

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