Indonesia’s Representative Office expresses gratitude to Taiwan amid pandemic

A reporter from 4-Way Voice interviewed Taufiq Arfi Wargadalam, Chief of Protocol and Information Division at Indonesian Economic and Trade Office. Pitcured is the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office to Taipei participating in the 2019 Taipei International Travel Fair. Fourth from the left is Didi Sumedi, the office’s representative, and first from the left is Taufiq. (Courtesy of Indonesia Economic and Trade Office to Taipei))

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Indonesia celebrated its 75th Independence Day on Aug. 17, and although routine celebrations have been canceled or changed to online live broadcasts due to the pandemic, only President Jokowi Widodo and another six government officials were present before the presidential palace.

Amid the Independence Week, Taufiq Arfi Wargadalam, chief of Protocol and Information Division at the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office to Taipei, told 4-Way Voice of his thoughts about coming to Taiwan, his views on the pandemic, and an introduction to his country’s Independence Day.

Taufiq has only been in Taiwan for one year and will stay for another two, but since he had lived in Singapore and Shanghai, he can integrate into society more easily here. This year, every country has been affected by COVID-19, among which Indonesia has had a large number of confirmed cases.

In Taiwan, he believes that the government has dealt with it very well. “The Taiwanese government’s preventative measures have been exceptionally good! The Indonesian Economic and Trade Office to Taipei would like to thank Taiwan for its recent donations of masks to Indonesia.”

“Although the spread of the virus in Taiwan has cooled down for some time now, we still sincerely hope that all Indonesians residing here can stay healthy and abide by local authorities’ epidemic prevention measures,” he added with a smile.

Gamelan: a traditional Indonesian musical performance. (Courtesy of Facebook)

In the past year, Indonesia’s representative office in Taiwan has organized numerous events, what impressed Taufiq most was the heart-warming sight of Taiwanese students playing the gamelan, a traditional Indonesian instrument, during last year’s Independence Day, manifesting a wonderful display of cultural exchanges.

The gamelan is one of Indonesia’s oldest ethnic musical relics, performed together with main musical instruments such as the glockenspiel, xylophone, drums, gongs, bamboo flutes, plucked strings and bowed strings. Every time the orchestra erupts with melody, the atmosphere becomes an artistic feast.

In previous years, officials always held flag-raising ceremonies and ritual team performances on Independence Day. Hundreds of officials, foreign representatives, and others would be invited to celebrate. Various entertaining competitions were held, and shops would also offer discounts, making it a lively scene. (Courtesy of The Jakarta Post)

“However, because of the pandemic, we did not hold a special Independence Day event. We only held a small ceremony to celebrate privately with office staff and their family members,” Taufiq explained, adding that everything is in accordance with the principles of transmission prevention.

When asked whether there will be other activities at the Taipei office in the future, Taufiq cordially stated that even though it has been affected by the pandemic, as long as they aren’t canceled by organizers, the activities will continue normally, such as the office booth display at the International Travel Fair, Taiwan-Indonesia investment exchange meetings and so on.

However, they will be conducted in a new style as adapted preventative measures. “After the epidemic is over, everyone is still welcome to visit Indonesia! Our country has so many beautiful places to enjoy,” he said.

“After the epidemic is over, everyone is still welcome to visit Indonesia! Our country has so many beautiful places to enjoy,” Taufiq said. Pictured is the island of Bali, a popular tourist attraction in Indonesia. (Courtesy of Shutterstock)

The history behind Indonesia’s Independence Day on August 17th goes back to when it was under Dutch rule in the 17th century, followed by a brief period under Japan. In the end, Japan retreated after it was defeated in World War II.

Indonesian national heroes Sukarno and Hatta drafted the Declaration of Independence on August 16, 1945, and read the declaration at around 10 am on the 17th to declare Indonesia’s independence and 300 years colonial bondage.