Another Artist Turns Down Bakrie ‘Achievement’ Award
Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Renowned writer Seno Gumira Ajidarma has turned down the 2012 Achmad Bakrie Award handed out by the Freedom Institute, joining a long list of luminaries who have either rejected or returned the prize.
“I refuse to accept it. Please understand,” Seno said on Friday in Jakarta.
He did not give any reason for his rejection of the award, which comes with Rp 250 million ($26,500) in prize money.
On his website, Seno wrote that he was notified by Rizal Mallarangeng, the Freedom Institute executive director, about the award on June 12. On June 18, he wrote back, saying he could not accept it.
“I told them that they should give the award to someone else who deserved it, because I would not take it,” he wrote.
The award was established in honor of the late business magnate Achmad Bakrie, and handed out each year just before Independence Day by the Freedom Institute and Bakrie Untuk Negeri (Bakrie for the Nation), the corporate social responsibility arm of the Bakrie business empire.
Seno’s rejection of the award is one of several since it was established in 2003, with past recipients citing its ties to Achmad’s oldest son, Aburizal Bakrie, a controversial business tycoon and chairman of the Golkar Party.
The 2010 recipients, former Education Minister Daoed Joesoef and poet Sitor Situmorang, refused to accept the award because of Aburizal’s handling of a mud volcano disaster in Sidoarjo, East Java, widely blamed on Lapindo Brantas, a gas company owned by his family.
Thousands of families have still not been fully compensated for the disaster, which began in 2006.
Also in 2010, writer and Tempo founder Goenawan Mohamad returned the Achmad Bakrie Award that he received in 2004, citing the Lapindo controversy. He also returned the Rp 100 million that he had received in prize money, plus interest.
In 2007, Jesuit priest and religious tolerance activist Franz Magniz-Suseno also turned down the award because of the Lapindo case. The latest rejection comes at a sensitive time for Aburizal as he mounts a bid for the presidency in 2014.