Arief was a pro-democracy student activist during anti-Soeharto movement 1997-1998. His cousin and best friend was one of the four university students that was shot and killed by security forces in Jakarta. The deaths sparked weeks of violence and nationwide unrest and eventually led to President Soeharto’s resignation after 32 years of rule.
With hopes to create change internally, Arief later joined the Golkar Party despite the fact that it was Soeharto’s political vehicle for decades. He served as the national chair of one the party’s internal youth organizations then worked as special assistant for the speaker of parliament handling strategic affairs.
n 2006, he worked for US Library of Congress in Washington DC and later returned to Indonesia in 2009 to head the legislative management support group for Indonesia’s President Yudhoyono’s Democrat party. Arief continued to be closely involved in parliament and later served as advisor for deputy speaker of the House.
He currently a legislative affairs expert and political risk advisor at LEXICO Indonesia and advises MNCs operating in Indonesia particularly for government and parliamentary relations.
Arief is both an Indonesian and American history buff, antique collector and connoisseur of Indonesia Batiks.
Shawn’s link to Indonesia began when he was a foreign student at the University of Indonesia in the late 1990s. He witnessed and documented first hand the pro-democracy movement and the beginning of the Reformasi Period, which brought violent street demonstrations, the occupation of the parliament building by students and President Soeharto’s resignation. These events cemented his interest in Indonesian politics ever since.
Shawn returned to the US after his studies and returned once again to Indonesia a few years later as a consultant advising MNCs on government policy, regulations and other issues and especially with navigating and understanding the new Indonesia in a post–Soeharto or post-New Order period.
He currently a political risk advisor at LEXICO Indonesia tasked with tracking legislation in parliament and dissecting new government regulations to identify how they may impact the business community.
Shawn spends his free time helping to preserve World War II history in remote areas of Eastern Indonesia. In addition to that, he hopes someday to turn his video footage from the Reformasi period into a documentary.