Indonesia's latest aviation and technological developments – areas of expertise in which former President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie excelled – were on display during the third annual International Habibie Festival at JIExpo Kemayoran in Jakarta on Oct. 17-19. (JG Photo/Nur Yasmin)

Commemorating the Legacy of B. J. Habibie


OCTOBER 19, 2019

Jakarta. Last week's International Habibie Festival commemorated the legacy of Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, Indonesia's third president, who passed away in September. 

Indonesia's latest aviation and technological developments – areas of expertise in which Habibie excelled – were on display during the third iteration of the annual event, held at JIExpo Kemayoran in Jakarta on Oct. 17-19. 

"Today we need to remember and understand what his legacy is and we must continue what he left for us. We are obligated to innovate and move forward so we can achieve his dreams, which are to make our country prosperous, developed and economically stable," his son, Ilham Habibie, said on Saturday.

He said his late father also played an active role in Indonesia's democratization process.

"We had the Reformation era, and he gave us freedom of the press and of expression. He also managed the government, including the general election. Truly, indisputably, he was the father of [our] democracy," Ilham said.

Murdaya Widyawimarta Poo, founder of the Central Cipta Murdaya Group, a diversified Indonesian conglomerate, shared his memories of Habibie.

"Until now, I remember him for his creative, ever-igniting spirit. He always said the most important thing was to never give up. I never met anyone as high-spirited as him," Murdaya said.

Jimly Asshiddiqie, chairman of the Indonesian Association of Muslim Intellectuals, which Habibie founded, expressed gratitude to have known the former president as a dear friend and colleague.

"The Islamic world is scarce in technological and scientific figures. Well, he was definitely one. The Islamic community across the world knew and loved Habibie," Jimly said.

He said Habibie coined the term "imtaq" – a portmanteau of iman (faith) and taqwa (piety) – which involves a unique approach to integrating religion and education.

"He always reminded everyone to pursue 'iptek' [science and technology] and 'imtaq,'" Jimly said.

Agus Yudhoyono, deputy chairman of the Democratic Party, represented his father, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, at the festival.

"The Habibie family is already like our own family. Our families have been supporting each other in tough times. When we lost Ibu Ani [Agus's mother], Habibie was with us even when she was still in hospital. We were also there when Habibie lost his dear wife," Agus said.

He said Habibie was a father figure who inspired Indonesia's youth to pursue a better future.

"We must encourage human excellence in Indonesia, which was also Habibie's dream, to develop people as intellectuals, with a thirst for knowledge, while maintaining their Indonesian identity," Agus said.

Ilham, Agus and Murdaya visited several booths during the festival, including a flight simulator for the Regio Aviasi Industri R80 aircraft that Habibie designed for Indonesia, but which has yet to go into commercial production. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has undertaken to prioritize the project during his second term.

B.J. Habibie passed away at the age of 83 on Sept. 11. Besides his 1998-1999 presidency, he is widely remembered for his achievements in aviation and aerospace engineering.