JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Indonesia has lost one of its most eminent man of letters and political analysts, as Wimar Witoelar died at the age of 75.
Erna Indriana, the President-Director of the Intermatrix Communication consulting firm founded by Wimar in 1986, confirmed his passing. “Wimar Witoelar has died at Jakarta’s Pondok Indah Hospital on Wednesday, May 19, nearly a week after he was admitted on May 13,” she said.
“His death was caused by sepsis or complications from infection that caused his blood pressure to drop and induced multiple organ failure.” She added that he was interred at Jakarta’s Tanah Kusir cemetery.
Indonesian Vice President Ma’aruf Amin paid tribute to Wimar as a “courteous individual who was known for his critical, yet idealistic outlook.”
The former Indonesian Ulama Council stalwart added that he wielded his influence in many roles, including "as presidential spokesperson, man of letter, even as a TV talk show host.”
Born in Padalarang, West Java on July 14, 1945, Wimar served as late Indonesian President Abdurrahman ‘Gus Dur’ Wahid’s spokesman during his tenure between October 26, 1999 to August 9, 2001.
But he was more renowned as an opinionated writer and columnist of great wit and humor who conveyed his sharp perceptions of Indonesian issues, particularly as the country took its first steps towards democracy after the end of Indonesian President Soeharto’s rule in 1998, an era known as Reform or Reformasi.
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“[Wimar] frequently pointed out to the public about the importance of reforms for Indonesia. Wimar was a true friend who stayed true to his goals of looking out for Indonesia’s [interests],” said Indonesian Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati in an Instagram post.
“Wimar was known to convey his words in a meaningful and critical, yet humorous and polite manner, making conversations and exchanging opinions with him a pleasure.”
These views made him a stalwart on Indonesian and international media, as he became a featured columnist on publications such as Today, Business Week, and Newsweek, as well as news networks such as ABC, CNBC, and CNN.
He also made a breakthrough in Indonesian broadcasting with his 1995 talkshow Perspektif, which pushed the boundaries of the country’s then tightly muzzled media.
Known for its direct, pointed take on contemporary issues, the format contrasted with the indirect, euphemized style of the time.
Wimar also published four books, No Regrets in 2002, A Book about Nothing 2006, More About Nothing 2009, and Sweet Nothings 2014. His eminent standing was also reflected in his tenure as an adjunct professor at Deakin University in Australia.
Sri Mulyani epitomized the nation’s sense of loss with her eulogy. “Goodbye Wimar, Indonesia and I lost a loyal, caring friend. May you find a place beside God, and be reunited [with your late wife] Suvatchara.” Wimar is survived by two sons.
(Writers: Dian Erika Nugraheny, Tsarina Maharani, Fika Nurul Ulya | Editor : Kristian Erdianto, Icha Rastika, Yoga Sukmana)
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