MBB Working for Colorful Indonesia


by Marcel Thee

Perhaps the advent of social media opinion-purging makes a case feel more widespread than it is, but fundamentalism and proudly unadulterated discrimination seems to have done nothing but grow over the years.

With increasing outspokenness, ignorance — self-justified in the oddest of manners — can now be fully distributed with a simple tap of the “enter” or “send” buttons.

By the same token, an increasing number of rationale-pushing, socially conscious movements have increasing visibility.

One of them is Muda Berbuat Bertanggung jawab (MBB), which roughly translates as Young and Doing Responsible Things.

Photo: Mayang Schreiber.

Photo: Mayang Schreiber.

MBB describes itself as a “forum of diversity, a vessel to exchange minds, to encourage progressive thinking among youngsters — open, cultured and diverse. Proud to be different, always ‘dangerous’ while also staying responsible. Forward onto a self-determined and colorful Indonesia.”

While it is still relatively young, MBB, established by music manager Rudolf Dethu (whose CV includes the popular Balinese pop-punk group Superman is Dead), has actively taken its activities all over the country.

Open discussions, seminars, and forums are often held in public spaces, including universities, concert halls (between performances) and other places often frequented by younger audiences.

The movement’s key goal is to establish the idea of pluralism in its many forms — not just racial, sexual, or religious, but also in terms of different ideas.

Their most recent battle was against the anti-alcohol law, which sold itself as trying to save the younger generation, but MBB saw as an attack on “civil rights [where] the government controls its citizens’ personal lives”.

MBB has also fought against the Pornography Law, which Rudolf considers was established by “cavemen and those whose heads are caught within the groins. They claim to want to save the young generation but end up being counterproductive, discriminative and, in the end, they blame women for what they consider satanic behavior”.

MBB is also actively taking part in the movement against the “reclamation” of Benoa Bay in Bali, which its supporters claim is about rejuvenating Bali but is in actuality a process of urbanizing one of the rare places still undamaged by commercialization.

Hot issue: Forum MBB aims to encourage progressive and critical thinking among young Indonesians.

Hot issue: Forum MBB aims to encourage progressive and critical thinking among young Indonesians.

Rudolf himself, who is clearly frustrated, takes part as speaker in many of MBB’s discussions, for which he also invites other speakers from different backgrounds and discipline.

“From these discussions, I could see how many of the younger generation aren’t aware that their civil liberties are being trampled upon,” he says, explaining that MBB tries to inform its audience that by not speaking out against these attacks, they are unwittingly letting the government into their most private spaces.

In time, Rudolf suggests, the government might as well decide what its people are allowed to eat, who to date, what time people are allowed to make phone calls.

“The country will continue to consider its citizens as being dumb and in need of constant, detailed control.”

As such, Rudolf is very much aware about the government’s and religion’s grip over its people.

“MBB was bred out of my restlessness with fundamentalist and Taliban-styled [beliefs], which is growing strong in this country — especially amongst youngsters,” he said.

“I was bothered that kids, who since they were young were controlled, told what not to do, choose to be so uncritical. Why would they want to voluntarily be restrained? What’s the use of being educated, or to have read books or articles, traveled afar, if so?”

MBB during the discussion at Salihara, late 2015. | Photo: Maggy Horhoruw

MBB during the discussion at Salihara, late 2015. | Photo: Maggy Horhoruw

It hasn’t been easy. MBB has been accused, ironically, of discriminating against certain beliefs, including those who claim that their Muslim belief justifies the restriction of what is considered pornography, which in reality is simple sexism bordering on misogyny.

“In their essence, Indonesians are warm, friendly, helpful and easy to get along with, but because of the low level of education and the incompetence of the government in taking care of its diverse set of citizens, people are easily roused by those they consider smart and/or religious. And, as such, those kinds of Indonesians turn violent — even to the level of murder. Why? Because they think they are doing religious work.”

Rudolf’s background in music means that he often utilizes musicians whose image of being “cool” can help get the attention of youngsters. He hopes to liberate minds through the power of music.

“Music transcends everything — the color of your skin, your religion, race, your background,” he says.


• Original article: MBB Working for Colorful Indonesia
• The third photo on this page is taken from Facebook. Owner unknown.


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