Oom Pasikom: Communicating Criticism with Silence

Oom Pasikom

Who is Oom Pasikom? If there are any middle class people in Indonesia who don’t know him, she or he must be undesirable stupid idiot. Because of this name appeared daily as the character in Kompas, the largest newspaper in Indonesia since 1967! Even the name of Oom Pasikom is anagram from Kompas itself (added with “i”). Well, I heard one stupid idiot women like this whenever I went to Kinokuniya bookstore at Plaza Senayan on Friday (13/7/2007). She commented on a book titled 40tahun Oom Pasikom: Peristiwa Dalam Kartun 1967-2007 (Commemorating 40 years of Oom Pasikom: Event in Cartoon 1967-2007) when her boyfriend showed her this book at that bookstore. Meanwhile I just met G.M. Sudarta –the cartoonist who made Oom Pasikom- three hour before! Well, please pardon my emotional nuance in this preface of the article. I hate people who don’t have intention to learn although they can!

Oom Pasikom and Indonesia

As told by G.M. Sudarta himself, there was several cartoon illustration which could not publish because it’s sensitivity. One of them which showed for public in exhibition held at Bentara Budaya Jakarta (3-12/7) has DOM theme. DOM -for you who don’t know or foreigners who read this blog- are acronym of Daerah Operasi Militer, in English Military Operation Zone. This is Indonesian government policy on Aceh which threat that province as ‘war zone’ because of intension arouse of the separatist rebellion by Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM, Free Aceh Movement). Held from 1989 and ended at 1998 at the same time of Soeharto’s regime fallen, DOM suspected as human right violation related to the amount of victim death or missing.

Oom Pasikom character itself started not long since he applied as illustrator for Kompas. At the beginning, Kompas has no mascot since that newspaper just founded. GM Sudarta discussed this desire with J. Adisubrata, senior editor at Kompas in 1967. And incidentally, the character created later took face of Adisubrata as example! (GM Sudarta, 2007:262).

40 years appeared on the main page –beside editorial- of the biggest newspaper in Indonesia has made Oom Pasikom as the witness of Indonesian history, even the world. GM Sudarta recorded every big issue in the world like the death of Saddam Hussein (look at picture above) as well as domestic issue. For Indonesian, his cartoon can refresh our memory about what happened in the past. For example, when I read G.M. Sudarta compilation book (see source), I remember big occasion happened at Soeharto era. Some of them I was not born yet.

Criticism with Silence

For your information, the name Kompas itself given by Soekarno, the first Indonesian President later succeeded by Soeharto. But in progress, Kompas turn around being a supporter of the New Order regime lead by Soeharto at its first period at 1967-1970 (GM Sudarta, 2007:3). Close to the general election at 1971, Kompas gained its criticism again. Oom Pasikom has made the ruling party at that time –Golkar- angry because it shows the character walking under the rain of ketchup. In Indonesian term, ketchup is identical with anything bullied as number one or fake promise. The massive action of “ketchup selling” or inflation of fake promise before general election campaign time make the rain fall tasted like ketchup. (GM Sudarta, 2007:20).

One time at January 21, 1978 Kompas banned and shut-down by government regarding its news about Tanjung Priok case. This is the case which Indonesian military suspected doing massacre when facing demonstration by one of Indonesian Muslim faction at the area near Jakarta’s seaport, Tanjung Priok. Oom Pasikom cartoon is one of the objection points from government.  Kompas have got permission to be published again in February 6, 1978 after signed agreement with the New Order regime not to criticize them too hard.

With this position, Oom Pasikom has a significant rule in Indonesian press history. G.M. Sudarta can speak his critics loudly against government and situation with silence: drawing an excellent and full of meaning cartoon. He is not necessarily jump to street to joint demonstration, but still he can contribute and show his care about his nation: Indonesia.

Bibliography: G.M. Sudarta. 2007. 40 Tahun Oom Pasikom: Peristiwa Dalam Kartun 1967-2007, Jakarta: Penerbit Buku Kompas.


This article is originally posted on July 15, 2007 at my old blog: http://www.communicationworld.wordpress.com

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