Alumni & Voices

Bambang Harymurti


A Crystal Ball from America

Bambang Harymurti, born in 1956, is a prominent Indonesian journalist who is popularly known by the initials BHM. An electrical engineering graduate from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), he received a Fulbright scholarship to study for a master’s degree in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

“I think America needs to send more people to Indonesia,” he said. “Not only within the framework of the Fulbright exchange, but also in the Peace Corps and other research programs. Why? The more Americans who study Indonesia, the better Americans’ understanding of the country.”

In BHM’s opinion, there are fewer Indonesianists in America nowadays. “We need more experts on Indonesia, like the late Ann Dunham, the mother of President Barack Obama. They studied Indonesia with all their heart and had deep empathy for the people here. On the other hand, Indonesians who study in America should take as much advantage of that opportunity as possible.

America gives us an opportunity to see the future. So it is as if we get a crystal ball from America. In the Mahabharata, whoever has a crystal ball can see everything that is and everything that will happen,” he said.

“The sequence of Indonesian social, political, economic and cultural development can be seen from what happened in American history,” BHM continued. “Through the impact of freedom of speech and economic liberalization, step by step, we can see the pattern of what has been going on in America,” he said.

BHM once did an internship in a leading American magazine, Time. He was one of the few journalists who passed the selection as a candidate to be an astronaut in a United States space shuttle crew. Being an astronaut was his dream since childhood. Unfortunately, he never departed, as the American shuttle program was discontinued.

Between 1991 and 1994, BHM headed the Tempo magazine office in Washington DC. After returning home, BHM become a widely admired advocate for freedom of the press. He was removed from his position as managing editor of Media Indonesia daily newspaper for two weeks for not publishing the news of President Soeharto’s birthday in 1997.

Since 1999, BHM has been chief editor of Tempo magazine, replacing the legendary figure of Indonesian press and literature, Goenawan Mohamad.

Last Updated: Jun 3, 2019 @ 2:14 pm

This article appears from the book of Across the Archipelago, from Sea to Shining Sea Commemorating the 60/20 Anniversary of Fulbright and AMINEF (Page 88– 90) published in 2012.

Translator: Sagita Adesywi and Piet Hendrardjo.

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