Hans David Tampubolon, The Jakarta Post
National pride: Former president BJ Habibie (right) poses with a framed photograph of himself as a young man while Tiga Serangkai founder Siti Aminah (center) and managing director Eny Rahma Zaenah hold up newly published books about Habibie. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)
Eight biographical books are being released to highlight different facets of the life of Indonesia’s third president, BJ Habibie.
Before 2010, few Indonesian millennials were interested in BJ Habibie.
Most knew only that Habibie was the country’s third president, who managed the country during the chaotic turmoil period of reform after the 32-year reign of dictator Soeharto was brought to an end.
They also knew Habibie spent most of his career as an engineer, who built airplanes and developed theories that impacted the aviation industry not only on the local level but also at the global scale.
Other than that, the public knew little about him.
The death of Ainun, Habibie’s wife, suddenly drove people’s attention back to him. An iconic photo of the then 74-year-old Habibie giving a last kiss to Ainun’s cheek as she was laid to rest melted people’s hearts. They had been married for 48 years and the love of his life.
Not long after Ainun’s death, Habibie wrote a book entitled Habibie and Ainun, which chronicles their love story. The book was adapted into a film in 2012 with the same title, becoming a box office smash.
Habibie, the technocrat from the New Order era, suddenly re-emerged into the minds of contemporary young Indonesians and his name had also become a very marketable brand.
On June 25, Habibie turned 80, an age he said was special. In the last few years, he had always said he was having his “80 minus X years” whenever he celebrated his birthday.
In conjunction with the release of a film entitled Rudy Habibie, which serves as a prequel to Habibie and Ainun, the Habibie Center in Jakarta, along with publisher Tiga Serangkai, has released eight biographical books looking at Habibie from different angles.
The book launch was conducted two days before his birthday at the Habibie and Ainun Library in Patra Kuningan, Central Jakarta. Prominent figures such as Indonesian Muslim Scholar Association (ICMI) chairman Jimly Asshiddiqie were in attendance, and a number of Habibie’s old friends came all the way from Germany.
The first book, Jangan Pernah Berhenti (Jadi) Habibie (Never Stop (Being) Habibie), analyzes his leadership and accomplishments in the fields of science and technology, while the second, entitled Habibie: Jejak Sang Penanda Kebangkitan (Habibie: The Trail Of Resurrection), tells the story of Habibie’s decision to return to Indonesia after a successful engineering career in Germany.
The third book, Habibie: Karya Nyata Untuk Indonesia (Habibie: Real Works For Indonesia), looks at his contribution to the aviation industry, his role in the Indonesian political scene and his dreams and visions for a democratic Indonesia.
The remaining works take a light approach to Habibie, from his love of music and film to his hobby of photography. The last two books discuss his love story with Ainun and feature comics and poetry themed around the former president.
Multiple writers contributed to the series and all of their contributions are compiled and edited by Habibie Center director’s board secretary Andi Makmur Makka.
Andi said each of the books was presented in a light-hearted and interesting style so it could be enjoyed by all types of readers from all backgrounds.
“These books compile everything that Habibie has to share about religiosity, family, global issues and science,” Andi said.