The influence of the Joyoboyo prophecy on the current situation

Posted by Admin on Thursday, 5 February 2004 | Opini

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Thu, 02/05/2004 4:17 PM

Sayidiman Suryohadiprojo, Former Governor, National Resilience Institute (Lemhanas), Jakarta

Joyoboyo was a king in East Java in the 12th century. His importance in the history of this archipelago, now known as Indonesia, is not because of a spectacular performance as a ruler, but because of his prophecies, particularly regarding the future of Java. The Joyoboyo prophecies still have great influence on the minds of many Indonesians because much of what he predicted has come true. Like his prediction that Indonesia would be ruled by the white race for a long time.

This prediction became reality with the 300 years of colonization by the Dutch. Another prediction which became a fact was his prophecy that a yellow race would defeat the white race and would occupy Indonesia as long as the lifetime of a corn stalk. That came true when the Japanese defeated the Dutch in 1942 and occupied Indonesia until 1945, or three-and-a-half years, which corresponds with the lifetime of a corn stalk.

Because of these spectacular phenomena many Indonesians are inclined to believe in the strength and validity of the Joyoboyo prophecies. That is particularly true when people have difficult lives, coupled with great uncertainty.

The situation in today’s Indonesia has caused much frustration and trouble among many people, especially the common people at the grassroots level. The economic crisis of 1997 made most of them poorer, although they were still poor before. When the Reform Movement took place in 1998 people expected that life would improve.

But to their consternation the opposite has happened so far, not only because there has not been any remarkable improvement in the economy, but life has also become much more dangerous with the deterioration of security. People realized that with reforms there were more individual freedoms. But those things do not have much affect on the lives of common people. Freedom certainly improved the life of the middle class and high strata people, like intellectuals and professionals, living in the big cities.

However, life in the rural areas have been more affected by the negative effects of the excessive implementation of freedom and democracy, due to such things as an increase of uncertainty and disorder in many aspects of life, as well as the rising degree of criminality.

If some defenders of the old regime now assert that people in the countryside are now nostalgic for the days of Soeharto, the fact is that people want to have more security in their life, physically as well economically. It is not so that people want to have totalitarianism back. However, people feel that during Soeharto’s rule their life was much better than today.

The coming elections do not guarantee improvement. People are well aware of how politicians are behaving today. Instead of acting as real representatives of the people, they prefer to put their own interests as top priority, if not their only priority. And there is no prospect that a different kind of politician will emerge after the general elections.

People might now be much happier since they can directly elect the President and Vice President. However, people feel that those who have come forward as Presidential candidates are not capable enough to become effective leaders and there is no hope that they can become better Presidents than the one now in power.

At the same time life has not become easier for the average family. In a situation like this, some people just become apathetic. Other people think that being apathetic is bad and shows a weak attitude, but they also realize that they do not have the possibility and capability to make changes.

These people tend to gravitate for something to lean on. Those who are religious put their hope in God and strengthen their prayers that He will improve the situation in Indonesia when the time comes. Another group of people, in particular in Java, strengthen their belief and conviction in the Joyoboyo prophecies.

One of them who has shown his strong belief in such prophecies is Permadi, a House of Representatives legislator from PDI-P. In an interview with Peter Gontha on Q-TV channel some time ago, Permadi expounded on his beliefs and knowledge of the Joyoboyo prophecies. He stated that Joyoboyo predicted the present period of great disorder in Indonesian life and that it would culminate into greater chaos.

At that point a Satrio Piningit, or a Knight of Righteousness (akin to the Judeo-Christian’s Messiah), will come forward to rectify the bad conditions of life. Under his rule, Indonesia will gradually improve and ultimately will become a strong and prosperous nation. One can see in Permadi’s expression that he is a true believer in this prophecy. And Permadi is not alone in this belief and conviction, many others share his feelings, but often not so publicly.

One could criticize such a belief by stating that it is just wishful thinking. An escape hatch from the present tough conditions. But the prophecy believers would counter that Joyoboyo’s predictions of the white man’s supremacy became fact and so was the yellow man’s invasion and occupation of Indonesia. Therefore, why should this messianic prediction be wrong?

However, it would be much more positive if the people who believe in God’s wisdom and those who are convinced of the Joyoboyo prophecies combine their convictions with concrete efforts to improve the situation.

They might not be capable of influencing the situation on a broad scale. But even small actions, like improving discipline in their environment and for themselves, benefit development of the nation.

Such attitudes are definitely more positive than the life of the political elite who continue to mainly think of their individual interests and enrich themselves financially and materially.

Or those who become agents of foreign interests to benefit in the future when the nation they represent is able to dominate the situation in Indonesia. These kind of people behave destructively, while the believers remain positive.

The best solution for Indonesia is, of course, the arrival of a strong, capable and effective President with the coming elections, who can take concrete actions to improve the situation. Someone who will safeguard the process of democratization in Indonesia without tolerating excessive freedoms that result in disorder and the lack of the rule of law. Unfortunately, at present no such person has appeared on the political horizon.

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