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Jakarta post

 by Jennie S. Bev 

The Youth Pledge was declared on October 28, 1928, where three ideals of Indonesia –one motherland, one nation and one language– were immortalized and became the unifying promise among young Indonesians.

Today, such commemoration may sound like a routine without much practical meaning. While it is true that it was an important milestone in Indonesian history and we appreciate those heroic youth role models, many of us aren’t even aware of today’s young Indonesians who are inspiring and successful internationally and have been carrying the country’s name on their shoulders. We should give proper accolades to past and present heroes and ambassadors, and breed future ones.

To be known as Indonesian-born individuals in the international arena requires both the courage and the willingness to be perceived as “different.” They also fought long and hard along with top-notch international players. And this alone deserves our sincere applause.

If you know Steve Jobs’ Apple, you probably know Sehat Sutardja’s Marvell, or not. Sehat Sutardja, wife Weili Dai and brother Pantas Sutardja founded Marvell Technology Group in Santa Clara, which is a part of Silicon Valley, in 1995.

To date, they have more than 150 patents to their names, and in 2006, Sutardja was named Inventor of the Year by the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Law Association.

The Sutardja Dai Hall at UC Berkeley’s Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society is named after this impressive couple. Marvell (Nasdaq ticker: MRVL) is a Silicon Valley-based leading semiconductor public company that produces one billion chips annually, which is owned by these Indonesian-born individuals.

The Sutardja brothers combine both intellect and entrepreneurship, which is a rarity among Indonesians.

On literary front, we have Erick Setiawan, who was born in Jakarta in 1975. His debut novel, Of Bees and Mist, was published this year by Simon & Schuster.

Of course it is too early to predict his literary future, but by having a debut novel published by a giant New York publisher itself is a major accomplishment.

The storyline was inspired by his childhood as a Chinese-Indonesian and from being raised to feel guilty for many things.

In beauty products, there is Metta Murdaya and three other international partners with their Juara Skincare, which is a trademark owned by LoisaidaLabs, LLC. These skincare products contain ingredients that have been used in Indonesian herbal traditional beauty rituals.

These inspiring individuals might not feel they are acting as Indonesia’s ambassadors, but they truly are. At their young age, they have accomplished on the international level and have become recognized for their professionalism and uniqueness. And all of them showcase strong entrepreneurship and utmost confidence, which are two important traits that many Indonesians lack in competing internationally.

Entrepreneurship is probably the most lacking trait among Indonesians, both inside and outside the country. For some reason, the culture doesn’t place entrepreneurs in a favorable profession category. For another reason, most Indonesians prefer to work for others and, especially, as state officials.

However, in looking at the opportunity to propel one’s name and one’s country to the top of the competition pyramid, entrepreneurship is a trait that we must foster early on.

Entrepreneurship doesn’t refer to simply being one’s own employer. It is much more than that. In the bigger picture, it translates into the ability to lead with vision, to implement such vision with strategic plans, and to transform strategic plans into workable everyday solutions.

An entrepreneur, thus, refers to an individual who believes in their own visions and accomplishments, and they prove them many times over. And it may or may not be financially related.

Schools and training courses should realize the importance of combining hard assertiveness-based leadership with soft entrepreneurial leadership. I believe it is a challenge for the new National Education Minister M. Nuh to transform the education system in light of competing internationally in the 21st century.

It is about time for us to have more individuals like the Sutardja brothers, Metta Murdaya and Erick Setiawan, who serve as our true ambassadors to the world. After all, getting accepted to work at the Foreign Ministry isn’t the only path to becoming an ambassador.

Our wish for young Indonesians is for them to realize the importance of believing in themselves early on and that their world is not limited by Indonesia’s geographical boundaries. The world is for all of us to explore, the dream is for all of us to realize, and the sky is not the limit but our wishes are.

If our forefathers could dream about Indonesia long before we were born, why couldn’t we? Perhaps we should have a new pledge: one motherland, one nation, one language, and one world.[]

The Jakarta Post, October 28, 2009

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