zaterdag 8 maart 2014

Frans Seda Foundation

There needs to be no doubt that Frans Seda was the most influential Catholic in 20th century Indonesia, besides Ignacio Kasimo. Born in 1926 in a small village, not far from Maumere, he was so excellent in primary and standard school (together only six years, but standard school already included knwoledge of some Dutch), that he was sent to Muntilan in Java (not to Woloan in Minahasa as some gifted pupils before him). He started there in 1941, had to survive the Japanese period, when school and dormitories were closed down, was active in the early revolution, finished high school in Surabaya and was sent to Tilburg the Netherlands, to study economic in 1950. In 1956 he returned and soon became the leader of the Catholic Party as successor to Kasimo. He was a successful mediator with the Catholic political party in the Netherlands in the case of Papua. He was the only Catholic minister in the last days of the Sukarno government in 1964-5 (plantations). In the early years of the Soeharto government he was the architect for the cooperation with international bodies like IMF, the IGGI (Inter Government Group on Indonesia, under a Dutch chairperson, the channel for foreign aid). In the later sixties he was active in the textile business, but even more as founder and first president of the Atyma Jaya University. He died in 2009.
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I met Frans Seda twice. The first meeting was in or around 1985, when I was teaching at the IAIN, Islamic State Academy in Yogyakarta. A group of fifteen sponsors for development projects came to see the activities executed by the generous philanthropy of their family, the Brenninkmeyers. There was a programme in Yogyakarta where I gave a talk on Pancasila and Dick Hartoko on the magazine Basis.  Seda once came to see whether everything was OK, from the speeches until the hotel. I remember him is as a friendly, but decisive and hard working man who knew what to do.
The second time we met him was in 2006 at the launching of the two first volumes of Catholics in Indonesia, at the Atma Jaya University. He did not say much at the event (in the Aula of the Church of the SVD Priests at Matraman Raya in Jakarta), but it was clear that for all people around his name was a magical remnant of active Catholics who have given shape to their community.
Franciscus Xaverius (Frans) Seda overleden op 86-jarige leeftijd 
The Frans Seda Foundation was established in 2012 for cooperation between young Dutch and Indonesian leaders, to discuss matters of common concern, epseically also cooperation between the two countries. I will give a historical picture of Frans Seda under the banner of Ten Utopias for Indonesia, 1926-2009. The Utopias were ideal construction, but not really feasible. Seda was not the man to construct a utopia, or  to fight against general doctrines that were not correct: although he was for a long time member of the national government, he was an activist who used the private social channel. This was the Catholic political party and the trade union in the 1950s until they were banned in 1973. Then he worked through the channel of Church organizations like the Atma Jaya University, through the Catholic Press like the Newspaper Kompas and the magazine Basis, and through NGOs in the field of  socio-economic development.
The preparing papers for this conference both stress the meso-level. They talk about a civil society as a vital society. First speaker will probably be Cor van Beuningen, director of a foundation for social responsibility (SOCIRES). He joins the idea of the present government that citizens should not leave too much to their government. But on the other site citizens are not just loose individuals who are inactive as to social affairs. Citizens must at the meso-level (in Academia, through civil organizations, through business associations) do what they can do. They not just passive consumers of the care given by the government, but organize it themselves, when possible, through own networks.
Second speaker will be Dr. Mikhael Dua (the second angel Michael? a fighting angel? Like Iskandar Muda was a younger version of Alexander the Great?) who apparently feels close to the thinking of the American educationalist John Dewey, who always stressed that growing up is an active process, not just being trained by parents and teachers, but actively putting questions.  That sounds promising because Frans Seda was such kind of person: entrepreneur, fighter for real possibilities, and a person for whom personal relations remained very important.

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