Jakarta's colonial-era Town Hall at its old town square, or Kota Tua. (JG Photo/Safir Makki)

Jakarta’s Old Town to Host 2017 Asean Literary Festival


JUNE 12, 2017

Jakarta. Jakarta's Old Town, or Kota Tua, is set to host the 2017 Asean Literary Festival on August 3-6. The festival will be attended by writers, scholars and artists from over 20 countries.

This year is the fourth anniversary of the festival and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Association of South East Asian Nation, or Asean.

One of the founders and the program director of the festival, Okky Madasari, said ALF will carry the theme of "Beyond Imagination" this year, with a goal to make culture and literature a central part of life in Asean member countries.

"We are one big community," Okky said on Sunday (11/06), adding that the festival also focuses on introducing the achievements of Asean writers to global audience.

"This is an important role for ALF. Only literature and culture can create a true bond between us. Relying only on economic and political partnerships will leave 'Asean community' as a mere slogan, an empty rhetoric," she said.

This year, the ALF is fully supported by the Indonesian Education and Culture Ministry, Tourism Ministry and Foreign Ministry.

As it does every year, ALF has a series of warm-up events in store, among them "Sastra Masuk Kampung" (Literature Goes to Kampung), a residency program to introduce literature to local communities. This year they will also have a national jamboree of literature.

Discussions — arguably the highlight of the festival — will be centered on the topics of freedom of expression amid increasing radicalism and the constant threat of terrorism, and the central role social media plays in everyday life.

The festival will also feature art performances, culinary workshops and a book fair.

The Tourism Ministry’s marketing development deputy, Esthy Reko Astuti, praised the festival, saying it would be an interesting event for Kota Tua and a marquee event for Indonesia's literary community.

"ALF has shown literature adds many different colors to people's perception of Indonesia," Esthy said last Friday.

"Literature encourages people to exchange ideas and thoughts," she added.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya had announced Kota Tua as one of ten priority tourist destinations in Indonesia along with Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Tanjung Kelayang in Belitung, Tanjung Lesung in Banten, Borobudur Temple in Central Java, the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in East Java, Mandalika in Lombok, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara, Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi and Morotai in North Maluku.