Humans of ISC65: Willy Antony

Willy Antony from Indonesia will be our next featured advocates on Humans of ISC65. He is currently a member of table 3, with a focus on the topic of "Freedom of Speech and Its Restrictions in Today's World".


"While admittedly a students’ conference doesn’t have that much of a clout to directly influence policy, it does have some, and there’s always the off chance the proposal created by the conference is accepted in a far higher level of governance. More realistically, though, such a meeting, especially between like-minded individuals trying to find a solution to a problem, is an ideal environment for the trading of ideas. "


Q1. Please tell us what are the reasons/motivations that made you apply for ISC65?

Problem solving is a big one. While admittedly a students’ conference doesn’t have that much of a clout to directly influence policy, it does have some, and there’s always the off chance the proposal created by the conference is accepted in a far higher level of governance. More realistically, though, such a meeting, especially between like-minded individuals trying to find a solution to a problem, is an ideal environment for the trading of ideas. Trading ideas I such a way is important, as comparing a problem from differing viewpoints almost always creates a different picture and angle of approach to a particular problem. Considering problems are not in short supply in this world, I consider that as a massive plus.

The allure of potential for self-improvement needs to be addressed as well. Conferences and the likes, in my opinion, are underrated as a venue for self-improvement. Personally I believe that an interaction, a marketplace, or even a clash of idea is the best way to not only find the best idea, but also to sharpen the ability to make an idea. An idea sounded out in an open forum will can be expected to not only be agreed to, but also to be criticized, disagreed on, and especially in the more hare-brained ones, potentially completely floored. This, naturally, provides one with an outside perspective to how they function, through the end products that are their ideas. In turn, this perspective is necessary to understand how the mind works, and where improvements can be made.

Closely related to this is the competitiveness such a perspective could breed. If anything, getting a comeuppance, and working to get there is a thrill. While apparently using comparisons as a parenting and teaching technique is no longer in, I find it useful for personal use as it provides not only an easily recognizable goal, but also the enforcement mechanism, all in one neat package.

Q2.What do you think about your table’s topic?

The issue of freedom of speech, going forward, will be very important. Generally speaking, freedom of speech in particular and democracy in general have been seen to be in retreat around the world. Freedom House, for example, has marked 2019 as the 13thconsecutive year in which democratic norms are being eroded in one place or the other. Their reports paint a bleak picture, as anti-NGO measures, censorship, stifling of the press and mass surveillance all contribute to a weaker democratic institution around the world. While there are some gains, such as during the Arab Spring, those haven’t quite set in just yet.

Notably, the advancements in communications and information technology, and the corresponding increased globalization, didn’t seem to help in this particular front. While there are views that such new technology would promote free trade, and, importantly for this topic, free speech, the reality seems to be mixed. Especially examining social media, an industry in which much of the big name companies make free speech a central aspect of both their product and philosophy, the results seems to be mixed: While social media has been instrumental in some countries, directing public unrest and dissent in a manner which have brought down several authoritarian governments in some countries, in others it instead have been used as a method to subvert freedom of speech, either by state actors through censorship or control of access, or by non-state actors as a method to peddle contents that harm free speech, be it through fear or misinformation.

These two particular issues, along with the weakening in particular of the liberal world order, is shaping the current and next few years as important for freedom of speech. Would the new democracies stay that way in light of recent development, for example? What form would freedom of speech take form? Is there any proper form? In my opinion, going forward these few questions would redefine freedom of speech as we know it today.


Q3.What do you think about your table’s activities in overall now?

Definitely a bit more laidback than what I was expecting! The last few encounters have been less formal than I expected, and in hindsight I can’t help but feel I may have overdressed for some of the occasions. In my book, however that is a plus.

Q4. Can you share hare with us some of your feelings towards the upcoming ISC65?

Hopeful! This is my first international conference, so there’s this “treading new waters” kind of feeling, and I’m definitely pumped up, even if there’s that slight nervousness of trying something new.

Q5. Can you tell us a little bit about your hometown?

Jakarta is, generally speaking, is a mixed bag. Being the capital city does have its perks, but it does have its down. As the historic and current center of Indonesia Jakarta has a lot of places to see, experiences to try, and, rather importantly, foods to taste out. The food, especially, as Jakarta is a melting pot of the myriad of Indonesian culture, is definitely one of the main attractions of Jakarta. There’s simply no end to the variation, and while not as experimental as the things Bandung restoranteurs come up with, the flavors definitely don’t lose.

The historic center of Jakarta is also a treat, both for the eyes with their colonial architecture, and for the mind, as these usually house quite the story, and in a lot of cases a museum or two. Recently it has also been refurbished to be far more tourist-friendly, so visiting the Old Town is definitely a far more pleasant experience than it was in the past.

On the other hand, transportation is still a massive headache in Jakarta. The traffic jam, iconic as it is in Jakarta, is definitely still a thing and has, in fact, gotten worse (or at least seen as such), likely due to the increase in population and thus vehicle use in general as well as the starting and restarting of various projects in the city. While these were supposed to alleviate most of this traffic problem, its construction does strain traffic a lot. My suburbs had the great misfortune of being the terminus of the new LRT project, as well as a new flyover, so access into and out of it is severely limited after a certain hour (at night, thankfully).

Jakartans too are rather feisty, both in temperament and in traffic. Jakartan traffic can be regarded as an extreme sport venue, as navigating the tight spaces does require a bit of a daring-do, especially with motorcycles. And motorcycles are everywhere: Someone receiving it can be said as the Indonesian cultural equivalent to a kid in the United States receiving their first car, to put it into perspective. Car drivers too aren’t immune to it, as a quick glance to Youtube could show. Roads in Jakarta may not be a Mad Max style post-apocalyptic wasteland but it does feel like that sometimes.

Being the political center also means if you’re particularly (un)lucky you can encounter the angry masses in all its Mk1 Eyeballs glory. There used to be some kind of demonstration somewhere in Jakarta every other day, and the 1998 upheavals (which, as an aside, still affects urban living till this day) that brought down Soeharto’s 35 year of government was centered in Jakarta. Bandung may be the Paris Van Java, but if you want to experience to living in Paris around the time of the French Revolution in Indonesia, Jakarta is your next best thing.

All in all, as I’ve said, living in Jakarta is a mixed bag of good foods, good history, bad traffics and the occasional public disorders. But the place is, hands down, irreplaceable in all its uniqueness.

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