Let’s Make Sure that Our Leader is Not Becoming a Dictator

Prior to 2009, politics were mainly about personal preference. Figure head was part of the conversation, but policy and ideology, the exchange of views, the battle between progressivism and conservatism has always become the main driver for most countries with democracy in the world.

Sure we have somebody like Al Gore or Bush being a poster boy for both of the extremes, but at the very end, the battle was between the left and the right.

There were arguably no bigger media darling than Obama once were. His rise to power and fame, was a unique and inceptive social phenomenon, that brings about changes in the political landscape not just in terms of policy, but more importantly on how politics will change its course over the years.

His Yes we can campaign is, for me, a turning point on how a political figure would be seen and regarded from 2008 on. His prominence and huge presence in social media, has shifted the way politics would work in the future [present].

Obama’s success proved that an individual as a brand can become stronger than the party. Arguably, his presence has lifted the Democrats more so than the other way around.

All that, apart from his charm and intelligence, was possible thanks to social media platforms. Through strong social media campaign, his public image skyrocketed not only in the US, but all around the world.

That trend catches on relatively quickly. In less than 2 years, Indonesian mayor turned governor turned president Joko Widodo has taken advantage of the same momentum and medium, to rise into power and fame.

Image result for social media political cartoon

On one end, this is a really good preposition. Thanks to social media, the pathway to power that was exclusively controlled by the “political elite” has since been demolished, and is now pretty much open to anyone. I mean if a dark skinned candidate can take the throne away from a clinton [granted that it is not a male one] and rednecks twice, then anything can basically happen from then on.

Somebody as “ordinary” as Joko Widodo was able to appeal to a much larger audience, because the stage that was exclusively owned by parties is now forced to be shared with independent (and yet collective) movements in the social media.

From then on, we have Trudeau and Macron and (unfortunately) Trump in an international political stages, and the likes of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, Susi Pudjiastuti and Ridwan Kamil in our national political landscape. The type of individuals that can basically win any election with any party if he puts enough calculated efforts into it.

This arguably new scape in politics though, does not come without consequences.

Whilst the pro of giving access to practically anyone to become a politician with the help of social media is quite desirable. Its cons can also be equally, or even more damaging.

And no, I’m not even going to talk about the fake news and hoaxes.

The overwhelming supports that a candidate, or a figure receive through social media has often driven by admiration of certain personality or individual characteristics. Obama was liked because he is reasonable and seems approachable as a person. Jokowi was adored for being modest, humble and honest. Basuki, Susi and Ridwan are loved for being smart and firm.

All that, were also followed by success implementation of policies or good decisions that in the end also elevate their profile.

Those things, however, has unfortunately created unrealistic idolization of the figure. Which leads to blind supports and fanaticism. The sort of support that were enjoyed by sports player and mega artist like Justin Bieber, is now equally enjoyed by politicians.

This is obviously not really good, because a football player or Justin Bieber don’t get to decide how much benefits your uncle should get from his medicare. Arsenal can keep Arsene and Justin can keep making cheesy catchy song that annoys you all day without necessarily making any significant impact in your life.

But a politician could.

In fact, those are what they’re paid and elected for.

We can always choose not to watch Arsenal play or listen to Despacito all day by turning them off. But we cannot turn our back on our country and politicians, because where else would we go?

So we cannot adore a politician the same way we adore Justin Bieber and Arsene (who am i kidding). We need to reserve some sort of criticism towards any politician, because as any politician naturally do, they will make mistakes.

Unfortunately, lately (in Indonesia at least) we have seen less criticism and more blind defense towards a politician for a certain policy. Take the latest executive order issued by president Jokowi on organisations for instance (Perppu no. 2 Tahun 2017). That decision, as sweet as his administration are trying to put it as, is still a very insulting backstab into our very idea of democracy. An authoritarian-esque move that we feel comfortable criticising when Erdogan or Putin does it, and yet defend to the dying breath when Jokowi issued it.

Sadly this is not the first time that he shows his willingness to be flexible with the idea of democracy and his willingness to flirt with power. Rizieq Shihab’s case (as much as I want him to be locked up) is suspiciously very comfortable in terms of both timing and circulation of evidence for the police to be just a coincidence. Not to mention the locking up of some figures (again who had it coming frankly) for supposedly treason without a proper trial.

Those things we would’ve enraged by, if done by Soeharto towards somebody like Goenawan Mohamad.

Yet, somehow we (and by we, I mean Jokowi’s supporter) feel comfortable with it now. Again, maybe because he is hiding behind “pancasila” and “extremism”. But is putting those people behind bars worth our democracy? The very idea that we accuse those people against at the first place. Because the way it is done right now, is very undemocratic at the very least.

Same goes to cases against Susi when it comes to cantrang, or Basuki when it comes to evictions. Yes some bad people may have used their good intentions and bad implementations into their benefits to keep their dirty money going, but it does not take away the fact that Susi’s decision on Cantrang provides no solution for lower class fishermans, and Basuki’s evictions provides no solution for people who has become accustomed to a certain way of living.

All this shouldn’t take away the good things that these figures has done for the society. All and all, I still do believe that these people are good leaders. But, we need to realize, that as politicians, they should be hold responsible for any actions that they took, be it good or bad. Appreciations are due for good decisions and criticism should be imminent for bad decisions.

We shouldn’t get trapped by our preference and become a part of a sided wave by constantly engaging in argument with somebody in the internet and criticizing those individuals. Instead, we should criticize and pay more attention towards the policy and the decision makers.

Our best and most important part to play in a democratic society, is to be in the middle, or at least in our own side to hold people up to their promises. To tell them which policy you think is good for you and the society around you. Our leader should not come in a package like a macas meal. We should be able to point to them what to do policy by policy, not just follow and agree to anything that they say.

You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it – MX

Governor Anies Baswedan: It is NOT Another Brexit

It is really hard to make sense of how Anies won the gubernatorial race last week. Not that the reasoning behind his victory is not obvious enough. Nor that his capability is way below what it should be. It is just that, for me who have known Indonesia for the past 24 years; Jakarta’s decision to choose Anies and Sandi goes against everything i’ve learned about country.

Indonesia has been (sort of) famous for being a diverse, multi-cultural yet tolerant country. For anybody who lives in it long enough as a minority, they’ll know that it is just a bunch of lies. Indonesia being tolerant is like saying that the great wall of china can be seen from outer space. It sounded plausible, but it is not when you actually try and see it yourself.

And that has never been a problem for me. I kind of get used to (with some complaining to get me through by using this blog) living a life where I have to be disrupted by prayers call five times a day, or being judged for eating during the fasting period, or the minor inconvenience of not being able to find bacon in every supermarket. That has generally been okay with me. So when Ahok is being attacked for blasphemy against muslim even if it is obviously a political maneuver, I wasn’t even raising my eyebrow, because it is sort of expected..

It is politics. It is dirty. it is corrupt. it is opportunistic. So Anies’s victory, for me, is more than comprehensible.

What I could not understand, however, is the way people reacted to it. Understandably, Ahok’s supporters are frustrated and they took it to social media and start bullying everybody they know, while Anies’s supporter just go about their usual live as if nothing has happened.

But, there is this one group of people who started bullying every Anies’s supporter and blaming them for allowing him to be voted. Basically comparing the election to Brexit and the U.S. election. Arguing, that their country has been polarised and divided because of this very election.

Thing is, our country has always been polarised. Our country has always been separated.

I remember when I was growing up, every single day my mom would drove me to school; Back then, she would made sure that I understand I could never marry anyone outside my religion (especially muslim). I remember (being in a catholic school) hating muslims together with my friends without knowing why. I remember blaming all Muslims for the Bali bombing without even knowing the differences between radicalised terrorist and my muslim neighbours.

That level of hatred has always been there. Hatred that was manufactured by fear. You see, my mom was completely scared that I would marry a muslim and found out that our religious differences would lead me to an unhappy marriage. You see me and my friend hated every muslims we met because we are scared that they would punch us in the face for not behaving properly (even if there’s no reason why they would punch us at the first place). And that relationship is reciprocal.

We acted everyday as if everything is okay. We say hi to our neighbours, wish them good things when they’re struggling and send them congratulations when they achieve something; But deep inside, we wished they would’ve been more similar to us. We wished that they do not believe in the holy trinity, or that they do not believe a woman should cover every single inch of their body, or that they could not eat a cow.

Deep inside we created assumptions about somebody we do not even know and talk to, because they believe in different Gods than us.

Please do tell me if I’m the only one, but at least that’s how I was raised.

All that change when I met my friends in Melbourne who completely share the same fear and concerns as I was and ended up being less devoted to our Gods.

But my friends here. Those people reminds me of my middle school years.

And that is how I have always seen Indonesia. And sadly, socio, economics or even educational backgrounds has nothing to do with it. One can have good degrees but understanding requires more than just learned knowledge. It requires patience and a willingness to be wrong. And religion just simply does not let us to be wrong.

So when you say Anies’s voters has created a brexit-like condition in Indonesia, I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about, because it has always been like this. We have had these polarised, racist and divided society all along, even before this country was even born, we have the innate instinct to hate on different groups. We live kingdoms by kingdoms, and we have maintain different traits for living in different parts of Indonesia, governed by different kingdoms. And that differences will always be a source of fear for us. And that source of fear will always manufacture hatred for us. We are innately trained to fear (and later hate) anybody who has a different background than us.

We are not divided because we choose Anies, we choose Anies because we are divided. And minor issues like blasphemy would only highlight something that has always been there all along.

This is a really negative and pessimistic view of it, but it is (whether I like it or not) the way I see it.

Man, I hope I’m wrong.

Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power. – J.S.

King of Saudi, Selfie Stick and the Impotent Parliament

“I’m so sick of congress I could vomit”

Joshua Lyman, a character from West Wing said that, in an episode called “five votes down”. In short, the main conflict of the episode resolves around the president’s bill to make the sale of some gun’s harder to ultimately reduce gun violence. At first, They got enough vote from the congress, but all of a sudden, five of them withdrew the vote. Some for a good reason, other for a completely childish one. Basically this one guy just decided not to vote for the bill, that saves lives, because he wasn’t getting enough photo op with the president. And he used that momentum, to leverage himself into getting attention and asking for exactly that.

I'm so sick of Congress I could vomit. photo joshymansickofcongress.gif

I know it’s a hyperbole or a rather exaggerated fiction from a TV show. But in reality, I feel like this petty and selfish reasoning for not passing a bill couldn’t be very far from this fictitious rendition. I mean look at the whole republican party and how the acted in support of Donald Trump. Some of them, at some point really went at him during the campaign period, and now, they just somehow decided to back him up. They just want to board the train, no matter how crooked it is.

Not to forget this whole calamity regarding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and how members of congress insisted they will repeal the plan, even though they still do not have any feasible replacement. You know what’s funnier, their constituents actually want to keep the ACA, but they decided to try and repeal it anyway, for whatever reason they may have. In short, Congress members are (more often than not) selfish. Re-election is the only thing they worry about when it comes to their constituent, and political agenda for their party is the second in command of their lives. And if (worst come to worst) they fail to convince their constituents, they can always lie.

This is no unique to the U.S.

Photo Credit: SINDOnews/Isra Triansyah

Indonesia, the largest democratic country in the world has the same problem of dishonest and stubbornly selfish parliament. Worst, they’re impotent too.

By November 2016, two years after elected, they have passed only 10 of their 90 planned regulations. Only 10% of their annual targets are fulfilled. 10%. If you only achieved 10% of what your boss asked for in the office, you are surely screwed. Yet, nobody really hold them accountable of this impotency. Vacant chamber during a parliamentary meeting is a common sight. Yet they flooded the news cycle with their visit to some country that are (most of the time) irrelevant to their performance and actual regulations.

Okay, I may be a bit unfair here. They do flood the room at some point. Like when the King of Saudi visited the parliament this Thursday. Whilst this sounds encouraging, I think it’s important to note, that our dignity as a citizen wasn’t really kept well by our representative, as all they do is sneaking selfies and pointing selfie sticks everywhere.

And to be fair, they do sometimes push forward an emergency meeting. Like when they need to take away Basuki Tjahaja Purnama’s gubernatorial seat for an ambiguous technicality. They actually insisted really hard for this resolution to pass quickly. Of course it has nothing to do with the people they represent. But hey, as long as it benefits they party’s agenda right?

Ironically, on the same day , a group of citizen marched in front of the Saudi Embassy in Jakarta to ask for more protection towards Indonesian Worker in Saudi. With high numbers of violence and unfair criminal prosecution of Indonesian citizen in the Saudi; and with the high numbers of Indonesian workers and diaspora there, I think this is a really important issue (aside of Hajj quota) to look on to. This issue can be easily pushed by the member of the parliament into a discussion with the King himself, and yet, the people representing those protester are instead busy taking selfies and posting the moment they catch a glimpse of the Arabic King on their social media (I should mention though, Setya Novanto did mentioned this issue during his speech). One may say that the fate of our worker has been deemed redundant and unimportant by our representatives, so that they can priorities on taking some pictures that they can brag on their social media.

Congress consists of one third, more or less, scoundrels; two thirds, more or less, idiots; and three thirds, more or less, poltroons. – H.L Mencken

Rethinking Tolerance: Blasphemy and Why Minorities Should Just Give Up

In about a month, I would’ve been here in Jakarta for 2 whole year. This strange, dingy, chaotic city is now my home. I’ll have to admit, the challenges of adjusting to life here, are humongous. The piercing and yet humid afternoon sun that never seem to help your skin decide whether you’re too hot or getting a cold because of the sweats. The long, long, long queues of cars along the street, waiting for a wealthier, taller black SUV’s cutting the proletarian’s road miles ahead creating bottle necks. The smell of clove cigarettes, combined with the smoke your everyday motorbikes produce. The mysterious figure you can’t see the first time you’re trying to park your car, but is always there to pickup that leftover coins of yours somehow.

This city, it is a place worthy to be called jungle. Hell jungle is worthy to be called this city. Bottom line is, this city is a tough place to adjust to.

Yet, those inconvenience hasn’t really lived up to its dark reputation for me. In fact, I think those things has made this city become more exotic somehow. It gives it identity that separates it, even from the most livable city in the world. It has a very, very unique identity. It’s the homeless guy that always smiles, sitting besides his dog just north of Swanston street every day. He has a rather charming character isn’t he?

What I find challenging here in the city, has instead been the tolerance of its people.

Let me explain.

It is indeed very moving and beautiful, the first time you step into this city, where a majority of Muslim can live side by side by side with each other without seemingly any problem with other race or religion. Nobody have ever asked for my religion, nobody threw a spoon at me when I pray for my food in front of them, and nobody ever make a big fuss when I eat my lunch during a fasting period at the office.

Until you pay attention a little bit more to the people.

You see, maybe I live in this city during the wrong period of time. Like it or not, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama’s (Ahok) blasphemy case has had its polarizing effects toward this society. His Alleged misappropriation of Al Maidah 51 has brought a lot of unintended consequences, not only for himself but more towards the fabric of our society and how it interacts with each other. Suddenly, race and religion becomes even more important. Suddenly, common sense is abandoned.

Until I thought back to the past 23 months I’ve been living in the city. During this period, I’ve lived in two different places, both of them very near a mosque (unless you live in an apartment, I don’t think there’s such a place far from a mosque in Jakarta these days). 5 times a day, light or dark, they will sound the speaker to remind everybody (that includes me) to pray. Of course I don’t pray the same way, but that’s fine by me I thought. As long as they don’t force me to do so.

And then you see the road you usually go through everyday is closed on Friday afternoon. People are praying on the street weekly, and it is not uncommon for them to close the road so that people don’t pass and disturb their rituals. But I guess my church back in Jogja also do that every weekend, so who am I to complain?

After all, people here think it’s okay to close the road for any personal reason anyway.

But those things, those are just minor everyday routine that I find and I don’t mind.

So why am I making a fuss then? Why can’t I just adjust to this place?

Truth be told, I was about to. I started to feel comfortable living here in the city, right until the moment that blasphemy case started.

Suddenly, I see my neighbor differently. Suddenly I see my colleagues differently.

There was one moment, where I saw somebody I knew, posted the 411 movement on her social media. On it, she posted the sea of people flooding Monumen Nasional for the blasphemy case. Asking the government to prosecute Ahok, using banners with unkind words such as kill him! Kafir! And Pigs! (what they usually call Indonesian born Chinese). On it, she wrote “how beautiful it was” or something along that line. I get that She was referring to the love people have to their religion. But her failure to understand the context was the thing that worries me the most.

Since then, this movement that supposedly ‘defend’ Islam continues on and changes its form along the way to ‘defend’ ulama and finally to “choose a Muslim leader”. It has turned itself from a religious movement into a political propaganda.

All this, to be honest, wouldn’t be a problem for me if I don’t know these people. I thought having an okay job at an okay office would guarantee me a reasonably educated friends. And that is what I got really. Yet, they can still ‘double think’ and thought that whatever the 411 and other movements was, it was justified.

They are willing to get behind, or at least to not condemn somebody who’s been hiding behind religion to spread hatred and ostracize the minority. They are angry at Ahok for citing Al Maidah 51- even though he was (in my opinion) justifiably worried that people won’t accept his program to help empower them because people are using that verse to black campaign against him- yet, they are willing to march on the street and campaign against him using that very verse. Justifying his worries.

All that made me realize. That me, as a minority, I don’t belong here. At least not if I want to stand up for myself. Because If I want to live here, I have to continue respecting the mosque speaker and the roadblocks. Because if I want to live here, I have to accept that tolerance in this country, means that the minority have to stay silent and pave ways to the majority. So they can do whatever they want to.

This sadly, has become or has always been (without us realizing it) the norm here. Here, in a city where most malls accept any kind of clothes as appropriate. Yet at the same time, just minutes behind that very mall, people find it okay to blame victims of sexual abuse for wearing a “sexy” clothes. Why wear a revealing sinful clothes at the first place? They said. It’s not my fault that she made me horny! They said.

 

4th November Protest: We Are the One to be Blamed

There are 6500 spoken languages in the world. I think none of them can describe how I am feeling right now. Anger, sadness, confusion, frustration, all mixed up together in response to what happened on the night of 4th November. A night that many claims to be the day to protect Islam’s dignity in Indonesia. A night many others would remember as the night, of uncontrollable mess that started by merely a scandal.

The day started just fine for me. The noise of kids around my house woke me up, together with the sound of my phone alarm. I wasn’t expecting much that day. The only thing I expected was that, that night, it’s going to be a long one.

With all the fuss about the big protest coming at the heart of the city. I wasn’t expecting much would happened around me. I lived quite far away anyway.

Just when I started opening my emails to check on some spams, a plastic ball hit my bedroom door. My computer sits just behind it, with a curtain covering it from the glass window, so I could hear it quite clearly.

I startled, but it happened before, so I just put on “Top gear” so that I can hear Jeremy Clarkson’s voice on the background instead of those noisy kids.

I had just opened my bedroom door, readying myself to cook for my breakfast, when those kids started knocking at my front door, playing pranks for their afternoon entertainment, as if their noisy little soccer game just a meter away from my bedroom was not enough.

I ignored it. I started cooking, by  taking some water to boil for the noodle. Then from behind the curtain, I saw this one kid just casually walked into my front door and started knocking. “Assalamualaikum” He yelled before he started running away for cover.

So I waited behind the curtain, to see who’s been annoying me all morning. Then I saw two different kids approaching my front door. And just before they knock, I kicked my door. They startled, and ran away.

I felt so guilty. Just then, I caved in and turned myself into a 10 year old boy.

Just before you know it, they started banging my door using a rock. I ignored it. They stopped.

Just before I open the door to leave for work, I saw them again gathering. Only to ran away when they hear my key behind the door.

They kept running away and hiding behind walls and fences as if their big plan was discovered too soon.

I stopped and hopped off my motorbike. I waved my hand to call them over. I wanted to ask what they want, but they kept hiding. So I took off.

That’s how my morning started.

ostracism

So it became no surprise for me, when the same society that raised those kids, casually burned 2 police cars and raided 2 mini markets during the night of 4th November. And that’s only small pictures of what actually happened that night.

So it became no surprise for me, when the “peaceful protest” to “defend Islam” became violent and turned into a familiar form of ostracism by the Indonesia majority.

Young kids, not even 10 years older than those kids who threw rock at my front door, were yelling death threats, flipping the finger to the media, threw rocks at the police, and burnt police cars. All in the name of defending Islam.

I however, refuses to blame the religion. Nor will I blame the people who does whatever it is that they did. Misconception, misunderstanding, arrogance and ignorance has become the main identity of this country. All blanketed upon the notion of freedom and democracy.

Without realizing the politics behind their acts. Without understanding the core of the problem. We, as a society, has assumed upon something and acted upon it without thinking about it.

We kept telling lies to ourselves that all this wasn’t what we wanted. That we don’t want to degrade ourselves to their level, that all this started because of some idiots, not us.

But seeing those idiots burning those cars felt good ain’t it? Because when I kicked that door, it felt good.

Because we know that we are indeed smarter than them. Because we’ve proven that it’s not us the problem, it’s them.

We point fingers towards this problem from weeks ago, and hided behind the walls like kids. We did not address it, we encourage it by feeding into their angers. We threw oil into the flames.

You know most of us can’t vote for him. You know most of us won’t even be affected by his reign.

We backed him because he is a minority. We backed him not because of his brilliance, but because he represent the hope of diversity. And yet, we campaigned as if his leadership will lead into the death of their arrogance. Even thought deep inside, we know it’s not going to.

You know today I have to let go of the anarchy. I was instructed not to report about the chaos. Not to report the violence because the people might not like it. I was censored. Not only by the broadcasting bureau, but also by viewers.

You know we have viewers who insisted, that whatever happened on the night of 4th November, was a noble quest to protect Islam.

We are a country that is corrupted by religion. And yet, we fed on that arrogance. We shout onto it.

We were bullied, and instead of leaving them, we fought back. Even though they are million times the size of us.

Sometimes I wanted to just run. Sometimes I gave hope to the fight.

But today. Today I tried to fight and I felt like I’m childish. Today I tried to fight, and I was instantly reminded, that it had no use.

So let’s just stop hoping. Let’s just let the Indonesian be the country that they wanted.

Let us gave up on the unity in diversity. Cause let’s face it, such things will only crumble. Such things will only forever be a slogan.

 

Jokowi’s 3rd Capital Punishment: an Archaic Approach to a Modern Problem

Dark clouds loom over Cilacap’s skyline, as rain pours down followed by shouts of lightnings and heavy wind, accompanying the execution of 14 drugs offenders. The third drugs related execution, administered by president Jokowi’s government.

Using the justice system as an extenuation for taking somebody’s life. Not of those who are innocent of course, but life nevertheless.

It is hard to justify or to argue against capital punishment, as easy as it may seem. It is indeed compelling to argue that capital punishment should serve as a deterrent, and taking it away may increase the possibility of other offenses. Especially when such punishment has already been administered, and then suddenly taken away, wouldn’t it just increase offenses?

On the other hand, whose to say that we are able to justify the worth of somebody’s life. That undesired behavior, no matter how cruel or bad it is, serves as a permission for us to eliminate their existence. Anyway, whose to say that capital punishment is an effective deterrent at the first place?

death penalty

These arguments has gone on and on for the past years. Despite of the facts and statistics that has sided with the latter question, many societies remain stubbornly convinced, that capital punishment is effective.

Admittedly, it is hard not to justify execution, because to relate with somebody who has knowingly break the law and sympathies with them, who may or may not continue their crime if they weren’t caught, is indeed difficult.

“50 person dies every day in Indonesia, as a result of drugs abuse.”

That particular statistic was used by President Jokowi, back in 2015 to reiterate the magnitude of drug problems that Indonesia is facing. And of course the society backs him, holding on to the beliefs that capital punishment serves as deterrent, believing that drug offenders are inherently evil and shielding themselves under the law that supports execution.

The problem, however is more complicated than that. Because if battling drugs is used as a permission to take somebody’s life, then what will the death of 14 people, or even 50 people bring to the fight? Because evidently, if deterrent is what we’re looking at, then why does the problem still persist at the first place?

It is indeed hard for me to understand the effectiveness of executing dozens of drug offenders (most of them, by the way, are not dealers or producers) when there are 3,1 Million drugs consumers in Indonesia.

Fredi Budiman, one of the convicts, spoke to KontraS (The Comission for the “Disappeared and Victims of Violence) before his execution and question the justice behind his execution. Despite of the fact that he supplies a lot of drugs, and remain to do so while he was behind bars, his inquiry has its own validity.

He asked, “If we are being completely fair, then why is it that only me and the truck driver that is being executed.” Furtherly, he claims that drugs related crime in Indonesia is a systematic crime, and that there are deep involvement within the government institution, namely the BNN (The National Drugs Comission) and Bea Cukai (Customs).

Similar tones was also spoken by El Chappo Guzman, a Mexican drug cartel, during his controversial interview with Sean Penn while he was on the run, talking about the drugs industry in Mexico and U.S.

Their question is not entirely wrong, as a matter of fact, it should be the question that we are asking as a society. Because like it or not, the life of those who are executed are also on our hands. By not demanding for the law to be altered, by not asking enough questions about its effectiveness, we are involved with the execution.

If battling drugs is our excuse, then we mustn’t rely on a crocodiles guided prison and capital punishment alone. If the problem is indeed systematic, then we should approach it systematically. Because while we keep on executing life. The system remain unchanged, corrupt, the demand still persist and the problem may persevere. Of course we can’t take their words for granted, but such investigation and a more systematical solutions along with a comprehensive prevention measures are surely dire.

It is really hard for me to accept that there are no other way than execution. It can’t be. Especially when the chances of executing innocent people are significantly presence.

We can’t just keep hiding behind the law, because the law is not always right and absolute. And if there’s anything that we can learn about our society lately, is that these laws that governs us is malleable, especially for our humanity. We saw changes that allows equal voting, protect minorities and put aside any other agendas and beliefs in the name of love and humanity. So why is it? That this cruel “solution” is still taken for granted?

“Capital punishment is as fundamentally wrong as a cure for crime as charity is wrong as a cure for poverty.” – H.F.

 

 

Tolerance

If you are not friends with the regular, middle to lower class Indonesian, or if you are completely oblivious about whatever happens in Indonesia, then the name Saeni might just be a villager’s name for you. But for an average Indonesian, that name right now, represents everything that is wrong and everything that is promising about Indonesia.

A conservative, thick, stubborn country that is slowly moving forward.

The word tolerance and Indonesia who are supposedly goes inline, has never been so far away from each other with the holy month for the biggest Muslim country in the world still on its way.

To give you a little recap, Saeni was raided by civil service police unit (Satpol PP), for opening her little shop (warung) during the day, while most of the Muslims in the country are fasting. Apparently, the regional government for her area (Serang, Banten) has issued a temporary regulation that restrict shop owners from selling food during the day, because it would distract the Muslims from fasting.

original

Using tolerance as an excuse, the regional government enforces the regulation by seizing foods , stalls and other shop facilities, accusing them of not being respectful towards Muslims who are doing their religious rituals.

Whether what they’ve done is right or not, whether being the biggest Muslim country in the world is enough to justify that or not, is frankly up to your own judgement. As because religion is a very personal thing for me, and to understand its teaching and embrace it, as far as I can understand, will always differ from one person to another. Although, the word tolerance shouldn’t be different, shouldn’t it?

Anyhow, what I would like to emphasize instead is on how people react towards it.

Being viral, Saeni’s story has of course attracts a lot of sympathies. Since the story broke, about $20.000 (an amount of money that of course exceeds her needs) has been raised to help payback for the money that she used to buy ingredients for food later wasted by the civil service police unit. A reminder that some people do embrace differences, and see respects not only as acknowledgements of one’s existence, but also an acknowledgements of different values and beliefs.

On the other hand, we have bunch (and this is sadly the majority of the Indonesian people) who can relate more towards the civil service polices, who sees Saeni’s decision as disrespectful, and condones other religion that visibly eats in front of them as being intolerant.

Now I don’t think I have to explain my definition of tolerance to you. There’s a reason why I write my entries in English, and that very reason should also be relevant to the kind of reader that I am writing to (if there are any).

Anyway, like it or not, although as a country we have seen some good progress moving forwards (With new infrastructures being build inside and outside Java, with better public leaders, with increasingly educated middle class). We are still yet to see Indonesia as a country moving forward socially and intellectually.

Out education system is very outdated, poorly standardized, and underfunded, that we have a very different standards of education and basic general knowledge from one city to another. The only standard thing that most people can get almost anywhere in Indonesia is religious knowledge. And that is mainly Muslim. Of course it shouldn’t be strange, when the country have an entire ministry devoted basically just for one religion’s ritual (Haj).

Compared to other countries that has taken religion out from their curriculum, and instead put their effort on science, history, literature and culture; It is fair to say that Indonesia as a society relies more on “biased religion-based judgement” than basic humane and social value.

So it is only understandable that we have a really visible extremes that contradicts each other, living in a well juxtaposition, with bits of sparks every once and a while. Of course, if history ever teach us anything, the extremes are, more often than not, wrong, and the middle way is always the best bet for the society.

Balancing those extremes then, is (for me) the biggest task that the government should immediately tackle, through good education system and unbiased regulation that doesn’t take specific religion into account.

Yes, infrastructure and healthy economy are important for a country. But as a society that consists of hundreds if not thousands of different ethnicity, Indonesia needs to learn how to handle conflict sober-mindedly by choosing what’s best for the society, not for specific person or groups. And that might only be achievable, through a good education system.

What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature. – Voltaire