The Problematic View of Indonesia’s Diplomat — A Simplified Take

The latest media circus in Indonesia as of this moment is about Nara Masista Rakhmatia, an Indonesian diplomat that is currently serving as second secretary at Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations. Her speech during UN General Assembly made quite the news in Indonesia; more because of her appearance and less because of the content of the speech. Let us not go down the same rabbit hole as the majority of Indonesia press here and focus on her physical appearance.

Image © Ezra Stroller 1953

I am not one that is eligible to have a say regarding the conflict in West Papua but I believe that Ms. Rakhmatia does not, as well. The opinions and the facts made are merely the view of a bystander and I do not think that it is eligible to be made into a speech that represents the voice of Indonesia. A point was made during the speech that Indonesia has been one of the pioneering countries in the human rights movement. It is correct; there is nothing I could debate against that argument because those are all facts but it is widely known that Indonesia does not have a clean slate in human rights acts.

Her argument in the speech, it can be simply put as slanted. Attacking back with a ‘Go mind your own country’ move is not an act of a seasoned diplomat. Of course, she said it in a fancier and smoother way than what I just said before, but the underlining is still the same and the fact that it is being used as an argument is purely unacceptable. It is not bizarre for those six Pacific Islander countries to feel sympathy and to address their concerns towards of what has been happening in West Papua because they come from the same background as the West Papuans so they are able to comprehend as well the life struggles there.

As an Indonesian diplomat to the UN, Ms. Rakhmatia should be more aware of the arguments that she makes. The impression given during the General Assembly was not a kind one. It was one of pride and it came from a place of privilege and entitlement that most Indonesians cannot relate. A good diplomat should be able to sympathize with their own fellowmen, no matter what their background is but I fail to find the capability in Ms. Rakhmatia during the General Assembly.

It is not a crime to be born with a silver spoon in the mouth — being able to go to a good school and university overseas — but it is a big mistake, should a person from that background, thinks that they have the common Indonesian life and refuses to acknowledge their privilege. A privilege should be embraced and acknowledged out of respect for the struggles of the others — the common Indonesians with the common Indonesian lives. It is almost disrespectful and insensitive in a way, to Indonesians and especially to West Papuans, that their voice is being represented by someone who thinks that they come from a place of the same fight for life and for freedom.

No, Ms. Rakhmatia, you did not come from the same plight of freedom as the West Papuans. Treat the privilege that has been given to you with caution and compassion, especially out of respect to your fellow countrymen.