Post C: The Guardians of Indonesia

By Catherine Nguyen


Myself and Aina (left)

Growing up in a city where smoking was prevalent amongst the diverse population, it was a certainly a strange sight upon arriving in Banjarmasin. Although it seemingly appeared that the ‘rokok’ culture was proudly celebrated with tobacco kiosks positioned every 5 metres apart, the unsettling amounts of cigarette pack disposals in the Martapura river as well as the large groups who bonded with cigarettes in their mouths, something in particular stood out. There were absolutely no signs of women smoking at all- if anything, the closest they were was through the passive breathing of their husbands’ cigarette. Curious about whether this was due to religious, cultural or social reasons, I decided to delve further through a conversation with Aina.

Aina Novie (Aina) is an 18 year old student currently undertaking English Conversation at the Lambung Mangkurat University in Banjarmasin with big dreams to travel the world. Confirming the obvious as soon as she shook her head upon asking her if she was a smoker herself, she stated that she was well aware of the dangers, risks and inconveniences associated with smoking. However it was a different story amongst her peers- most of them were ‘rokok’ users and all of them happened to be male. This was no surprise, as data revealed that 48% of Indonesian smokers admitted to smoking since their late teens, whilst 30% affirmed that their habits began when they were still minors. (Jakpat, 2016).


Graph illustrating the ages people began smoking in Indonesia (Fandia, M. 2016)

Aside from being one of the world’s most populated countries with over 260 million residents at a near 1:1 ratio of men to women (CountryMeters, 2018), Indonesia is also recognised as one of the countries with the highest record of male smokers. With such a balanced population, it was unexpected to notice such a stark contrast in the rates between male (69%) and female smokers (3%) (Ghouri, N., Atcha, M. & Sheikh, A. 2006). However, it was discovered that Muslim women were restricted access in certain public places- including social spaces where cigarettes would be traditionally smoked. Furthermore, the act was deemed socially unacceptable for women; often construed as a vice which undermined the social standing of the family (Ghouri, N., Atcha, M. & Sheikh, A. 2006). Whilst males were often praised and sanctioned with the ‘gift of masculinity’ through using rokok, females would become targetted for ostracism.

Suprisingly, Aina also uncovered that there lay more than just religious and social purposes. When asked about her decision not to smoke, she replied that “if girls use rokok, it is not good for the baby”. Her mother had told her so, and apparently, it was commonly believed throughout Indonesia. According to Barraclough in ‘Women and tobacco in Indonesia’, women are respected as the guardians of their families’ health. As well as taking care of everyone’s health, theirs is viewed equally as significant due to their ability to give birth. In a country where the maternal mortality rate was once as low as 358 per 100,000 pregnant women (Barraclough, S. 1999), the notion of motherhood is worshipped as an aspect of success for the women of Indonesia. If a one was unable or unwilling to reproduce, she would be perceived as ‘inadequate’ and a ‘failure’ for not being able to fulfil her socially designated role (Bennett, L.R. 2012).

Talking with Aina answered many of my curiosities as well as opened up new topics of interest beyond the tobacco industry. There is still a long way before the matter of tobacco, as well as issues in relation to the perception of Indonesian women and their alleged ‘duties’ can be tackled and resolved due to their interwoven nature in the local communities and lifestyles. However, with an enhanced understanding of their motives, values and perspectives, we can realise solutions which enable potential for a more open-minded community, where the responsibility of everyone’s well-being wouldn’t be limited to the women of the household themselves; where everyone would be their own guardian.


Barraclough, S. 1999, ‘Women and Tobacco in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 8, pp. 327-332.

Bennett, L.R. 2012, ‘Infertility, Womanhood and Motherhood in Contemporary Indonesia: Understanding Gender Discrimination in the Realm of Biomedical Fertility Care’, Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, vol. 28.

CountryMeters 2018, Indonesia Population, viewed 16 January 2018,<;.

Fandia, M. 2016, Cigarette Lovers: Indonesian Smokers Survey 2016, Jajak Pendapat App, viewed 16 January 2018, <;.

Ghouri, N., Atcha, M. & Sheikh, A. 2006, ‘Influence of Islam on smoking among Muslims’, British Medical Journal, vol. 332, no. 7536, pp. 291.



Post C: Interview with Dipa on foreign music in Indonesia

Since coming to Banjarmasin, what I have been repeatedly reminded of was how different my lifestyle was in Sydney in comparison to Indonesia, as well as how deeply rooted they are into their traditional culture. However, interestingly, I discovered through my interview with a young girl named Dipa, who is currently studying a Mathematics course, was the surprising similarity that we shared in terms of music in Indonesia.

While chatting with Dipa, I learned that modern music in Indonesia is actually greatly influenced by mostly outside cultures. In particular, for people in Dipa’s age group and younger (around 20 years old), the most prevalent and popular music is known as ‘Korean pop’. Dipa informed me that Korean pop (known colloquially as ‘k-pop’) is hugely popular in Indonesia, especially amongst young girls. Historically, the pop industry in Indonesia has always been influenced by foreign music (Shim & Jung 2014) and that “Since the mid 2000s, K-pop has become a ‘cool’ and ‘modern’ sensation in the local pop market, a phenomenon driven in large part by the power of youth fan networks on social media” (Shim & Jung 2014). Furthermore, “Indonesia has been identified as the fastest-growing K-pop market in Southeast Asia” (Jung 2011). Judging from this, it is clear that k-pop is hugely popular and widespread in Indonesia.

Dipa also informed me that she found that girls in high school especially were very dedicated to their idols. Their huge popularity is highlighted in Samantha Hawley’s article, where Indonesian girls believe that Koreans are “very cute in terms of appearance, the colour of their skin, the colour of their eyes…” (Hawley 2016) and so Dipa’s social media would be completely full of posts relating to k-pop idols. She mentioned how heavily influenced they were by this phenomenon better known as the ‘Hallyu Wave’ and how abundant this was across mass media. This is further reinforced by Sun Jung who discovered that “Indonesian media, including television programs, pop music, books, and magazines is heavily influenced by the world beyond its borders…in the last two decades of the twentieth century, satellite and digital technologies, and the related financial integration of the world have made it infinitely more difficult to keep foreign cultural products outside national media borders” (Jung 2011).

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Mashtia 2016 | The Fandom for Idols – A Survey Report on Kpop Fans in Indonesia

Notably, as I researched further into this topic, I discovered that “one of the key attractions of K-pop, according to many Indonesian fans, is its modern, cool attributes” and that it is a “carefully manufactured hybridized pop product that combines both East and West as well as global and local cultural aspects.” (Jung 2011) Dipa also mentioned that due to the massive fanbase in Indonesia that is following K-pop, concerts that are performed in Indonesia have also been drawing huge fans from all across Indonesia. As such, it “is clear that the new form of Korean Wave is adding significant cultural experiences to young Indonesian and creative industry in the country.” (Anwar, P. R & Anwar W.W 2014)

After discussing with Dipa and hearing her opinions on the influence of k-pop on modern music in Indonesia, I have discovered just how much Indonesia is continuously influenced by foreign music and styles. Through this interview and research, I have learned that the foreign music scene plays a dominant role in Indonesia’s music scene and how much mass media is able to create such a cultural globalisation. Judging from this, to what extent will this cultural globalisation affect Indonesian youths and their traditional lifestyles?

Reference List

Anwar, P.R. & Anwar, W.W. 2014, ‘The Effect of Korean Wave on Young Generation and Creative Industry in Indonesia’, Modern Society and Multiculturalism, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 65-89.

Hawley, S. 2016, Music, fashion, drama: Indonesians ‘falling in love’ with South Korea, ABC News, viewed 25 January 2018, <;

Jung, S. 2011, ‘K-pop, Indonesian fandom, and social media’, Transformative Works and Cultures, vol. 8, no. 1

Mashita, F. 2016, The Fandom for Idols – A Survey Report on Kpop Fans in Indonesia, Jajak Pendapat App Blog, viewed 25 January 2018, <;

Shim, D & Jung, S. 2014, ‘Social distribution: K-pop fan practices in Indonesia and the ‘Gangnam Style’ phenomenon’, International Cultural Studies, vol. 17, no. 5, pp. 485-501.



POST C: Interview with Desy Nurmanita — Sasirangan

Sasirangan is a traditional cloth of Banjar tribe society and is commonly used in Banjar indigenous events. The word sasirangan comes from the word “Menyirang”(RedDot TripNusa Indonesia, 2017) which means drawing the patterns, tying with threads and dyeing, until now sasirangan still made manually and become one of the traditional handicraft city of Banjarmasin.

Desy, a student of Primary School Teacher Education, Lambung Mangkurat University, kindly shared her experience and understanding of traditional sasirangan. Historically, the sacred cloth was believed as a means of healing for the sick and protecting from ghosts. Each design of motif has different meanings created by sasirangan artists, and it often follows the will of the buyers.

I was very fortunate to be invited to the sasirangan studio operated by Orie, who is known as one of the best sasirangan designers in the city. From the very first steps of designing and drawing patterns; threading lines with a tiny needle, to dyeing with the mixture of magic powders, the idea is gained that massive effort and patient contributed to creating a special and unique piece of sasirangan.


Sasirangan Process: Material Preparation –
Cut Cloth According to Size –
Make Motif –
Stitch Cloth –
Dye –
Remove Stitches –
Wash Off Extra Colour –
Pickling –
Drain –




As the complicated and fussy motif of sasirangan, people in Banjarmasin often purchase it from trusted and professional stores rather than make it themselves. The price is decided depends on the designs, patterns and colour of sasirangan. More complicated, higher the price. Nowadays, people prefer to choose the print version over hand-made one as the price is much cheaper and the colour is more diverse.


Desy and her friend wear sasirangan kebaya



According to Desy, she usually wears sasirangan as kebaya, a traditional blouse-dress worn by women in Indonesia, in formal situations. Moreover, most of publics showed up in the anti-smoking event day wore sasirangan as shirts, dresses, etc., to show their recognition and awareness towards the issue.

Sasirangan is often puzzled with Batik, a traditional and famous Javanese technique that creates motif by drawing dots and lines of the resist with a special tool then applying wax resist dyes to allow the designer to colour selectively by soaking the cloth in one colour, removing the wax with boiling water, and repeating if multiple colours are desired. Similarly, the diverse patterns of sasirangan and batik are influenced by a variety of cultures and inhabit; both of them are considered to be the intangible heritage of humanity(UNESCO, 2009). Sasirangan was embedded in modern designs in New York fashion week 2017, the collaboration endowed a new meaning to traditional heritage and allowed it to spread world-widely.


new york fashion week
2017 New York Fashion Week







Asikbelajar, n.d., Kain Sasirangan: Sejarah, Arti dan Motif, viewed 24 Jan 2018,

RedDot TripNusa Indonesia, 2017, SASIRANGAN “Traditional Clothing” BANJARMASIN South Borneo INDONESIA, Linkdin, viewed 24 Jan 2018,

UNESCO, 2009, viewed 24 Jan 2018,

Zubedi, V. 2017,  New York Fashion Week: First Stage – Runway, gettyimages, viewed 24 Jan 2018,