By ANDREW GREENE
Saturday, December 16, 2006, 5:57 PM Local Time
He says when he was a young man he studied law and decided to become a journalist for the chance to see the world. “A journalist doesn’t need to pay to travel,” he explains. “The company pays.” Following his interests, he has mainly written about exploration, the environment, and culture.
Being a journalist in
“During the Suharto era, one had to be an acrobat to write,” the father of two teenaged girls remembers. “The army, the special forces, thought that no one else was clever, but we were clever too.”
Despite the freedom reporters currently enjoy in
“The Marsinah case, where she was tortured and killed [in 1993 after trying to assist colleagues who had been arrested following a strike at the Catur Putra Surya watch factory in Sidoarjo where they worked] is one example,” he explains.
“The journalist in Yoga [Syafruddin, a correspondent for the
Hasman says technology has had a positive effect on Indonesian journalism. “It saves time and money and we can send reports from anywhere. But Indonesians use technology to show off too. We are still in an agricultural era but waste time and energy on things like airplanes as [Suharto’s crony and
Low salaries are another problem many Indonesian journalists face according to Hasman. “The publishing business here is worse, more evil than in capitalistic countries,” he says. “The top get more money, they are sharks, while those who face the sticks and rocks, the reporters earn less and less. That is why reporters ask for money from sources although it is illegal to do so.”
“Except for those from Tempo Magazine and Kompas [daily newspaper], many journalists do this,” continues Hasman. “According to [the Indonesian Journalists Association] PWI regulations, they face two years in prison for this, though I do not think anyone has ever been charged. It is like the 1974 polygamy ban, never enforced.”
Hasman acknowledges there have been some positive players in Indonesian journalism over the decades. “Goenawan Mohamad, [founder and editor of Tempo Magazine] has had a great influence on
“Without him and others, most of
Hasman is pleased with the country’s present direction but says he is aware there remain many hurdles to overcome. “The more you know about
“People start being corrupt at school,” says Hasman, “when they begin looking at their schoolmates’ tests. Parents and teachers do not teach them. This situation will not improve until the rule of law is implemented.”
According to Hasman, religion and the war on terror present his nation with some further difficulties. “Islam is a very sensitive part of life in
“Ujung ujungnya duit, UUD. It all ends up with money,” he continues. “The fanatics are being used. Where is their money coming from? The
Journalism has enabled Hasman to travel as he has wished. He has been part of expeditions to Irian Jaya, Kalimantan, Wakatobi, and
The people of Papua are among Hasman’s favorite to visit. “They’re very fragile,” he says. “They change their minds quickly because they’re not yet stable. The jump from the stone age to the modern age is too high for them.”
One of his greatest adventures was in 1993 when he was part of a group of journalists who bicycled across
In addition to the bicycling and expeditions, Hasman says he has climbed peaks around the world including Mount Kilimanjaro,
As an anthropology writer, he says he has studied the Badui, Kanekes and Kasepuhan of West Java, along with the Asmat, Dani, Yali of Irian Jaya, the Tengger people of the
Much of his anthropological writing and work has been about the Badui. He says this is because of their proximity to
Hasman says that he has visited the Badui more than 500 times over the last 31 years. This makes him one of the world’s foremost experts on the tribe that has lived largely unchanged in the highlands of
Budi Hartono, an Anthropology and Tourism lecturer from the
The Badui live in 40 villages, on 5,000 hectares in the hills around
The Inner Badui are only permitted to wear home-spun and woven white cloth. They are forbidden from growing cash crops, eating four-legged animals, taking modern medicine, using electricity or any form of transportation. Due to their strict mores they are often called “The Amish of Java.”
The Outer Badui, says Hasman, follow the same traditions and norms as the inner but are less strict in their adherence.
Hasman says it is difficult to get information on the Badui and anthropologists have published papers containing numerous mistakes.
“The more you want to squeeze them, the more they try to mislead you. That’s the way their brains are,” Hasman says. “They [the observers] do not spend long enough, nor come often enough. Five to ten years is nothing. That is just enough to study the cover. You must get their confidence, but, even then, they’ll still try to hide things.”
Hasman has no plans of slowing down. He is half finished writing a book about the Badui for the Indonesian Heritage Society. Ro King, the heritage’s chairman, says, “Don has been a friend of the Indonesian Heritage Society for many years. He has given three Evening Lectures on the Badui people… Don is truly our link to these wonderful people [the Badui].”
Next year he is planning a journey to the world’s seven deadliest volcanoes. For this trip he will travel to two sites in
Powered by his enthusiasm, Hasman hopes to continue bringing the stories of hidden worlds to his readers for years to come.
This article was published in The Jakarta Post’s Weekender Magazine, March 2007.