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Indonesia

NOVELIST, SOCIAL ACTIVIST PRIEST RECEIVES DUTCH LITERARY AWARD

Updated: July 18, 1996 05:00 PM GMT
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Father Yusuf Bilyarta Mangunwijaya, has received the 1996 Netherlands-based "Professor Teeuw Award" in recognition of his contributions to Indonesian literature and culture.

Father Mangunwijaya, 67, a Semarang archdiocesan priest in Yogyakarta, Central Java, is known as a novelist, columnist, educator, architect and social worker, and has received several national and international awards.

The Teeuw award was presented to him May 15 in Jakarta by the man it is named after, Andries Teeuw, a Dutch linguist highly regarded for his role in promoting Indonesian literature. The award announcement came two days earlier.

Koesnadi Hardjosoemantri, head of the selection committee for the "Professor Teeuw Fund" that administers the award, said Father Mangunwijaya was chosen for the "extraordinary intelligence in his literary works."

The committee also took into consideration the priest´s works in other fields, which show him to be a man who is consistent in word and deed, Hardjosoemantri said.

At the award ceremony Teeuw, 75, saluted Father Mangunwijaya as a true culturist, saying his literary efforts creatively develop the artistic and cultural dimensions of Indonesia´s national language, Bahasa Indonesia.

Besides a medal and certificate, the award carried a cash prize of 10,000 Dutch guilders (US$5,586).

Speaking with UCA News in an interview June 12, Father Mangunwijaya said that he had decided to use the money to help an orphanage for displaced girls under 10 years old in Yogyakarta.

He chose to direct the fund to displaced girls, "because they are most vulnerable to social ills. When reaching eleven or twelve years of age, displaced girls could easily be nurtured by poverty and irresponsible adults to become prostitutes."

Among Father Mangunwijaya´s several novels is "Burung-Burung Manyar" (weaverbirds), which won a Southeast Asian literary award in 1981 and has been translated into several languages.

The priest received a humanitarian award from the Indonesian Legal Institute for his defense of villagers fighting for fair compensation for their land in the World Bank-sponsored Kedung Ombo dam project in central Java.

He also received two "most distinguished architect" awards from the Indonesian Architect Association, and an award from the Geneva-based Prince Aga Khan Foundation for a village improvement project in Yogyakarta.

Father Mangunwijaya is the third recipient of the Professor Teeuw Award since it began in 1992.

The first recipient was Goenawan Moehammad, an Indonesian poet and the former chief editor of the now banned "Tempo" weekly magazine. The second was Harry Peoze of Het Koninklijk Instituut vor Taal, Land-en Volkenkunde (royal institute for language, country and culture), based in Leiden, Netherlands.

Among the works the award commemorates is Program Kajian Indonesia (Indonesian study program), founded by Teeuw, which from 1975 to 1992 conducted many studies in the fields of literary and social sciences.

END

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