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Merdeka was written by Stephen Hill and tells the ultimate insider’s tale of a hostage crisis. It is about his experiences when one of his employees (at the time that he was the head of Unesco in South East Asia) was kidnapped by rebels in Papua New Guinea. What makes it intense is that the employee was a young woman who had just found out she was pregnant. (Stephen took the picture at the top of this article when he arrived in Papua and the picture lower down in this article is of Stephen with the former Indonesian President, Megawati Sukarnoputri).
As Stephen recounts in the book, the rebels believed that they would be protected in battle from the bullets of the Indonesian soldiers if they used child in battle as a mascot.
The book deals with the ordeals that she faced, the intrigue behind the scenes and the aftermath of the crisis. I have known Stephen for quite a few years now… He is a great raconteur. This story is a ripping yarn and I would recommend anyone interested in a great read – or in the history of the Papuan peoples – to read it. It is available at Amazon.
Some background on Stephen Hill: He is a scientist and diplomat with an academic background focused on innovation policy and the culture of globalization. He is Emeritus Professor at the University of Wollongong and is Fellow of three International Engineering Academies – ASEAN, Cambodia and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
In 1974 at the age of 30 Stephen was the youngest full professor in Australia, providing leadership in the social science field after originally graduating in physical science nine years earlier.
Stephen Hill became a professor by day and a rock musician by night playing blues harmonica, keyboards and vocals, in several bands including Sons of Beaches, El Pifco and a duo, Goose Lagoon. His stage name during this period was ‘The Professor’ even though his formal status was never revealed.
In 1995 Stephen Hill joined UNESCO as a Director. Subsequently he became Principal Director.He designed and implemented the United Nations strategies for education, science, social science, environment, culture, world heritage, communications, the media, and peace building. He was responsible for designing, negotiating and implementing UNESCO’s reform decentralization policy and strategy across all regions of the world and was Chairman of the UNESCO Director-General’s Taskforce to Reform and Decentralize UNESCO.
He was directly involved in leading UN responses in education, media and environment reforms following the May 1998 political transformation of Indonesia and in building UN support for disaster preparedness and warning, education, media, environment and cultural aid strategies in Aceh following the Tsunami disaster of December 2004.
Stephen also served as consultant to the Australian Prime Minister’s Science Council, playing a leading role in Australia’s early science relations across the Asian region.