(Pengantar oleh : Imron Rosyadi Hamid)

Tahun 2020 adalah peringatan 70 tahun Hubungan Bilateral Indonesia-Perancis.​​​
Selama ini orang sudah mafhum jika Gus Dur, cucu Hadratus Syech Hasyim Asy’ari, fasih berbahasa Inggris dan Arab. Tetapi banyak yang belum tahu bahwa Gus Dur juga menguasai bahasa Perancis. Sebuah tulisan pendek berjudul Gus Dur, French, And Indonesian Crisis ini merupakan testimoni yang disampaikan oleh Ananda Idris, saksi mata ketika kunjungan kenegaraan Gus Dur ke Perancis Bulan Pebruari Tahun 2000 dalam sebuah forum dengan kalangan pebisnis sebelum Gus Dur bertemu Presiden Jacques Chirac. Presiden KH. Abdurrahman Wahid menyampaikan pidatonya dengan Bahasa Perancis yang fasih dan sempurna, termasuk ketika menceritakan penguasaannya bacaannya atas karya dari Filsuf kenamaan Perancis Abad 18 diantaranya filsuf Perancis kelahiran Swiss Jean Jacques Rousseau, Francois-Marie Arouet atau yang banyak dikenal dengan nama Voltaire, dan filsuf eksistensial Abad 20 dari Perancis kelahiran Aljazair Albert Camus. Gus Dur juga menceritakan buku bacaan favoritnya ketika kuliah di Al Azhar Kairo : Le Mur karangan Jean-Paul Sartre.

(Keterangan foto : Gus Dur dan Mbak Yenny Wahid bersama Presiden Perancis Jacques Chirac)


By: Ananda Idris

As we commemorate 70 years of diplomatic relations between France and Indonesia, I would like to share an anecdote which has touched me and left a lasting memory of my stay and experience in France. Having just been sworn in as Indonesia’s 4th president in late 1999, Abdurachman Wahid also known as Gus Dur decided to tour European countries trying to get investment back to Indonesia after a major political and economic crisis which shook the country and its leadership.

Upon arrival in Paris around February 2000 his first gathering was with the French business community represented by the MEDEF or the French Employers Federation. It was a big gathering at the luxurious Paris Intercontinental Hotel Ballroom and the venue was full. It was just after New Year and obviously many who knew each other quite well were happy to meet, to gather, to discuss and to chat after, obviously, having not met for a while during the end of year recess. So, it was a quite noisy reunion and we even had a hard time listening to ourselves.

At the top of the hour the Master of Ceremony announced the arrival of President Wahid and asked the attendees to rise. Knowing many of my colleagues they obviously were annoyed being interrupted and while continuing to chat they forced themselves to rise, still chit chatting while an old and blind President Wahid entered the ballroom slowly through the side door in the arms of his daughter,Yenny, who was also his personal assistant to the podium. The chattering continued and even grew louder as President Wahid reached the podium. When he arrived and got seated the Chairman of Medef made the introduction and a brief welcoming speech before giving the floor to the President. All this happened still drowned by the noise and chattering and we barely heard the speech.

Then President Wahid took the microphone, after making sure it worked and obviously noticing that perhaps nobody was listening he addressed the attendees in French, and in perfect French his opening remarks. This was a surprise as nobody in the audience would have thought that this old blind man who had to be guide to his seat, presiding over a country nearing economic chaos thousands of kilometers away would be speaking very good French. The attendees were stunned and all of a sudden there was silence and everybody listened. President Wahid continued, still in French, that he was a great admirer of France, its history and its literature, that he read Rousseau, he read Voltaire as well as more recent authors as Camus.

He then explained that his favourite book was Le Mur, a short story by Jean-Pau Sartre which he read when he was studying at Cairo’s Al Azhar University. Still in perfect French, he explained that his admiration for the work drove him to translate the book to Bahasa Indonesia, which he said he did but was never satisfied with the translation thus never had it published. He then concluded that this was one of his regrets but hopes that one day he can have it done. Needless to say that by this time the attendees were silent and nobody was chit chatting any more.

But then he cut short the introduction and said he will continue the more formal speech in English about investing in Indonesia. The speech took less than an hour with the prepared slides and was well followed. After the speech he left the room walking unsteadily guided by his daughter to the exit as he was expected at the Elysee Palace for an audience with President Chirac. The attendees didn’t need to be asked to rise, they did it spontaneously and clapped their hands during the walk from the podium to the exit door.

I was touched and very impressed. He was not our best President but he certainly was not the worst. Indonesia at the time was in such a mess and he has made efforts to put the nation back on track. Interreligious pluralism, peaceful Islam, press freedom, defending ethnic diversity were just part of his leagacy. He passed away in 2009 but his daughters carry the torch of his legacy till this day. He was heavily diabetic and suffered multiple strokes in 1998, due to the brain surgeries he had to undergo he had lost at the time most of his vision.


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