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

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.

 

President Elect Donald J. Trump: A Time of Reflection

The United States of America, the land of free and the home of the brave has elected Donald J. Trump as their 45th president.

I’m sure the past 24 hours wasn’t enough for any of us to let that sink in. I don’t think it’ll ever sink in.

His win boggles the mind of experts, journalists and even Hillary’s campaign herself that has been very confident of her chance to be the first ever female American president since its independence. And please don’t start with the “because she is woman”speech again, because the number of women voters that choose her in this election is not as overwhelmingly high as we all thought. So maybe it’s not about gender after all.

Now what does this mean for the rest of the world? I have no idea. Nor does a lot of country leaders. And we may have to wait until January, or at least until He announces His cabinet, before we know what His policies will be.

Is it okay to be scared? Yes.

Are there a reason to be that scared? Yes. And Trump alone may not be the only reason.

donald-trump-cartoon-luckovich

In the past 12 months, we have witnessed racism (sort of) triumph in the UK after they voted yay to brexit. We’ve seen hundreds and thousands of migrants life being left undecided because countries simply “can’t take more people”. We’ve seen wars purported in the name of God and religion. We’ve seen reasoning repeatedly lost to politics, when climate change continuously  being undermined in the parliament all over the world. And now, His Excellency President Elect Trump happened.

Is He one to blame? Are those politicians, country leaders and religious fighters one to blame? I’m not sure. I’m leaning no though.

I think this is a good time to reflect. To really think about the society we live in. About our values, and how it translates to the people around us.

Because evidently, the world has kick itself back some decades or even centuries, where reasoning are overwhelmed by fears.

We may think ourselves as a freethinker, as freedom fighter, as a reasonable citizen, but have we overestimate our role? Have we, in partying our freedom, create fear among those who can’t understand our reasoning?

Because let’s face it, most of those things happened because of votes. Maybe not the war and migrant crisis, but brexit, Trump, and whatever happened in Jakarta on the night of 4th November, happened, because they have strong backers. And those backers, are our fellow citizen. People who we meet everyday, who we interact with.

Have we, instead of engaging with them in conversation and in finding understanding as well as a middle ground, undermine them and ostracize them? Treating them as an old fashion bigot. Bullying them into having this pathological fear of pluralism, change and reason?

One thing is for sure, the world will not end tonight. It will not end tomorrow night, or the day after tomorrow or anytime soon. The world will go on. And it is up to us, to decide whether we’re going to be the pedantic uncle that always lectures the society about freedom. Or are we going to be the voice of reason that sits down in the dinner table to find a common ground.

The thing about our society is that what’s right, is always relative to the people. Democracy has given as the gift of eternal tug of war between infinite numbers of ideas. And undermining it by letting the rope go just because we fell we are right will only make the rope go further and further.

We can continue campaigning what’s “right” and what’s “wrong”. We can continue posting junks in our bubble that represent what we believe. But the conversation will never start if the sides involves only shouts about their opinion without listening.

The same thing could very possibly happen to Jakarta. The very same thing could very possibly happen to Indonesia. Difference is, we have just about enough time to change it.

This moment, is not a moment of discouragement. This, is a moment of reflection.

You See Those Newspapers? Well Read ’em!  

Politics is not something that everyone can understand.

Even when somebody does, they might not like it at the first place. As important as it can be, politics then, is not an easy subject to wrap your heads around.

So it is only understandable when somebody tries to relate politics to something that they like. After all, everybody at least understands the importance of everything related to it. Hence, it is only natural that people seek for something to root for. One of the easiest things to comprehend and root for then is a public figure.

People tend to choose or side with somebody that they can relate to. It is then easy to see why people like Bernie sanders, Joko Widodo, Trudeau or even Trump, who has a lot of supporters be it on the internet or in the actual world. Their policies, their speech, their actions and (in Trudeau’s case) their look, speaks to the needs of certain groups of people who have the same values. On the other hand, people who don’t agree with them could then easily oppose them.

ahok

Because politics are so complicated, what with the whole public policy, economics, law and bureaucracy involved in it, there may be a tendency where people choose not to try and understand it. This sort of started a habit where people tend to just agree with somebody that they support no matter what. Because those figures may be very admirable and relatable while a the same time, the issues in place are so complicated that reading just one article about it is not enough; It would then be simpler to just take the figure they supported for granted.

This is when things become tricky and quite interesting. Because like it or not, there is no such thing as a perfect human being. I mean even Obama, who’s arguably done a good job as the US president admits that he made a horrible mistake with his decision on Libya. And we all know that it wasn’t the only thing that he was wrong about.

This thing on Libya though is not something that is easily understandable. So does the refugee crisis, or the Panama papers scandal, or even the artificial island project in North Jakarta.

Nevertheless, because politics, as I said before, is a very complex matter, people are less able to comprehend policies when it was made, let alone when it is being argued about. More often than not, people would either just blindly trust the decision maker or the other way around.

So when an artificial land project that was initiated back in 1995 surfaced, people who support Ahok and thought that this was Ahok’s program would support it, and people who don’t support him will say whatever.

Sadly it doesn’t just stop there because it would then be turned into a net propaganda that translates into cyber bullying. And if you thought gossip (which is simply a rumor spread through word of mouths) was bad, wait till you see how word of mouths spread on the net. All of a sudden we have people who brand themselves as Ahok lovers or Ahok haters, ranting all over your timeline, without even understanding the substances of the very problem at the first place.

One case that was really apparent and for me exemplifies this argument best is the Sumber Waras hospital case. Amir

Amir Hamzah, reported governor Ahok to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for allegedly self-benefitting from the transaction of buying the hospital’s land using tax payer’s money, based on a report conducted by government’s supreme audit agency (BPK).

An argument later rebuffed by Ahok, Sumber Waras themselves and a report by Tempo magazine, which basically explained that BPK’s audit was based on a false data. Amir later, in a television interview, moves on and criticized the procedure of the transaction instead. A procedure regulated by the constitution, of which Ahok hasn’t been proven to violate.

Amir’s insistence of Ahok’s wrongdoings can then be seen as an act solely done against the figure, not the decision. Even when Ahok hasn’t been proven to do anything wrong, and even if he does violate a procedure, it surely doesn’t qualify as an act of corruption, Amir still stubbornly insisted that Ahok has done some sort of a crime.

Unfortunately, when Amir was asked to assess Ahok decision’s neutrally using appropriate data and theories, he (in my opinion) had rather shy away from it and persist on being stubborn by keep on insisting that Ahok is wrong (even if Amir’s argument has later turn out to be quite nonsensical).

I wouldn’t necessarily blame him, though, because he just simply represents Indonesia’s majority that isn’t able to comprehend complex aspects related to politics, and could only rely on snap judgments. Something that I myself would have done, if I don’t get paid to pay attention to this political nonsense (which is sadly still very important, and by any chances are the most relevant things to our life we can find out there).

All I can say is that those newspaper subscriptions your parents insist on keeping, even if you have no more space to store them in the attics anymore, read them. Because being adults does not only mean that you have to earn your own money and live for yourself. Being an adult these days also means that once in every few years, you get to decide the life of people around you by choosing one leader from the other. And the only way you can minimise the possibility of choosing the wrong leader, is by reading the news and being aware of what has been going on around you.

Our only real hope for democracy is that we get the money out of politics entirely and establish a system of publicly funded elections. – Noam Chomsky

The Depressing Comfortableness

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. – George Orwell

President Barrack Obama has told us what may well be the greatest political suicide ever been done by a modern American president. He finally gave up to common sense and decided to act against gun violence. He is going to use everything that he has in his executive power to assure that American people are a little bit safer.

A risky move, considering that what he will do in the next few months will most likely be the most things that we would remember about him as an American President. Why should we care, though? I mean it only affects the American people really. And if their congress and citizens are foolish enough to think that gun laws would make them less safe, then why we should we care?

comfortableness

Well, the numbers alone are astonishing enough for us to care.

At it stands, the US leads the world’s countries by gun ownership per capita, almost twice than Saudi Arabia and Iraq combined, and those two countries are actually at war right now. The US has 88.8 guns per 100 people, that’s 20 guns per 100 people more than the country with second highest gun ownership in the world. And that’s (yup, you guessed it) Yemen.

So who cares? If the people who have it bought it for their protection, shouldn’t people feel safer?

Well, in a utopian world, yes. But sadly, in 2015 alone, at least, 375 people died because of gun violence (That’s more than one people every day if you failed to notice). Not terrorism, gun violence. The number of people died because of terrorist attacks in the last decade in the US? 24.

If that number is not staggering enough, in 2016, which has only been 5 days, by the way, there has been at least 463 gun related incidents, with at least 127 body counts.

Now that is amazing.

So one would wonder then, why is it that this seemingly serious problem is not dealt with properly? Why is it that a (relatively speaking, successful) two-term president has to commit such a political suicide just to keep His citizen safe?

Well, that’s politics right there, and I have no fucking idea how it works really. If I’m being honest, nobody really does.

But what I can say is that it happens not only in the US. I mean of course, not in the exact same context. We’re seeing a lot of political tug-of-war over things like refugee crisis in the Europe, Climate change talk during the COP21, or even the 6 decades or so civil war which is yet to be resolved in the Korean peninsula.

Seemingly complicated political problems that go from one leader to the others without being resolved, while the ordinary people are forced to suffer every single day.

Perhaps it is that complicated, perhaps it is not as easy as turning our palms around.

But how can one sleep, after being sworn in to serve the people, while hundreds and thousands of their people suffer because their exclusive interest were not met in the negotiation?

Well perhaps I’m being too naive here, and perhaps it is a complicated problem. Especially when the people are easily manipulated to support one way or the other. I’m just a newbie writer after all, but hell if ordinary people like me are trying to understand this problem as hard as I can and has, at least, realise that something has to be done here, then why aren’t they?

You may think that I’m an idiot. That I don’t understand even a squat of the problems that looms around? That I made a snap judgement before trying to even understand the aspects?

But isn’t the people who are as far away as possible from the problem, are the one who can actually see the problem more clearly than the people who are involved in it?

 

 

 

On Jokowi’s First Year as President

Today, is exactly 7 days before Indonesian president, Joko Widodo end his first year in office. A year that was never going to be easy, but still full of hopes nevertheless.

It is safe to say that his first year in office, or rather his journey towards and during term is quite a colourful and confusing one. At the very utmost, kind of mediocre really.

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We all remember when Indonesia was seemingly separated into two sides. We all remember the celebration of the people when he was pronounced to be the winner of the presidential race. Jakarta, and most major Indonesian city was turned into seas of optimistic Indonesian for weeks, believing that they’ve chosen a leader that can better their life significantly.

Little that they know, a year later, their idol, their Messiah, their God of some sort, is being scrutinized so much. And by so much I mean, a hella bloody lot. From haze problems, depowering of corruption eradication organisation, through to economic downfall, Jokowi’s supporters has never been tested this hard in terms of their loyalty.

The Indonesian rupiah has never shown such a downfall since the 1998 crisis, a crisis that brought down our dear dictator, the almighty Soeharto.

Bushfire, which has been a problem since 1998, has gotten even worse. And somehow, he is able to make the people who used to just accept this as a yearly problem to be more vocal about it. More embarrassingly, last year during his campaign, he sort of promised those people that this year would be haze free.

KPK, the Indonesia Corruption Eradication Commission, is facing a, what’s going to be, stripping of their power to take corruptors to the court due to series of amendments of the constitution. Proposed by the member of his own party, of which one member said that his final goal was for KPK to no longer exist.

So perhaps Jokowi is not the sort of leader we thought he was?

Or is he?

Well the answer is a bit more complicated than a simple yes and no I’m afraid.

Last week, I attended a meeting with this one quite interesting fellow at work. He came to help us decides the appropriate assessments for Jokowi’s first year, and what sort of reporting we should make on him.

He went on and shared with us a hell lot of aspects relating to the politics of the government. He compared Jokowi’s presidency with the likes of Soeharto and SBY and during that, he mentioned a really interesting point that Indonesia has just shifted from parliamentary system to a presidential system.

Now I know a little, if not nothing about politics, but I think that is a good reasoning on why his decisions sometimes a bit weird for normal people like you and me to receive.

I won’t get into the detail, cause frankly, I don’t know squat about the details. But (correct me if I’m wrong) from what I understand, a Presidential system allows for the two executive powers, which are the parliament and the government to sort of, you know, play politics. One of them does not quite have stronger position than the other so they will need each other. Yet, because of the way politics works, they will despise each other. So what we’re facing right now is a quite similar system with those in the U.S. Sorry for failing to make you understand.

Anyway, what this means, is that Jokowi could not just easily call a shot on something, or decide something. Neither does the parliament. They would have to make an agreement with each other. They would need to go through a series of negotiation with each other just to decide something. This creates such a thing as political sacrifice.

Now if you imagine being him, first you have to make sacrifices in your cabinet, because your coalition member would want a seat in the cabinet. Yet, when you have some business that concerns the parliament, you will have to face a house with a majority controlled by the opposition parties.

So he doesn’t really have quite a room to move about. So when you think about that and look at the cabinet with unknown competent people like Susi Pudjiastuti and Sudirman Said, you asked yourself, how the hell did he get those people there?

Anyway, I’m just confusing you and myself right now, but what I’m trying to say is that, Yes he hasn’t performed quite that well according to our ridiculously high standards. But hell, maybe that is our problem. We have a bloody too high of a standard. We sort of forgot about factoring in other components like the multiple party systems, the parliament and other law worker before making our standards up.

We also forgot that we have chosen a president who did not came from the elite politics, which means, he not quite familiar, perhaps, with the politics of negotiation and bureaucracy. So maybe, he is just still learning the system. After all he just jumped from managing a city into a country, so he is bound to have hiccups.

Yes the economy is shit. Yes the haze problem is getting out of hand, yes corruption is still a problem, and there are more and more issue that appeared lately like dwelling time, transportation safety, foreign worker and religious tolerance, but we must remember that it only has been a year.

Now I’m not saying the cliché. I’m not going to say that we must support him no matter what because we elected him. What I’m going to say is that we should give him time. Of course we’re gonna have to critisize him and scrutinise his actions, decisions, and reactions towards every issue. But the sort of thing we should say to him is the critic that can actually help him, not a blind furry filled hate messages. You know, like those “hey I’m poor, fuck you dude! Do something!” Kind of thing. It should be the responsibility of the leaders to decide what’s best for the society. W

hat we often forgot is that it is the responsibility of the society to give the leaders the option of which they can accommodate and choose from. Because when we run out of money for being unemployed, we don’t blame the accountant do we? Do we blame the fire fighters when the house got burnt down because we forgot to turn off the stove? Yes the president is looking out for the whole country, but the country is our responsibility too, and the relationship that we have with the president is not a one way one.

“Semangatnya yang kecil harus tetap hidup, tapi harus mau diatur, jangan semau gue”

On Making News Nowadays

Talking about news, is not as easy as we thought it was. Apparently.

Because there is such thing as money in the media world, even news organisation, no matter how big and reliable they are, need to make money. From CNN to Vice, those media will have to in some ways “sell” their contents. It is just impossible for a news media to concentrate on an issue and wait until it works out before moving on, because the public, are just frankly too busy, and they got bored easily. And the Public, are the one who are feeding us money.

Being a media student who currently work at a news organisation, i’m finding myself in a sort of dilemma, where my ideology driven from Habermas’s public sphere idea are challenged by the capitalistic, money driven concept of the real world news.

The era of Walter Cronkite, Murrow, and Desi Anwar is (i think) slowly fading away. The news is slowly getting into a cardiac arrest, and there is nothing that we can quite do about it just yet. Because frankly, again, the public is not interested anymore.

There used to be a time, where a single picture of a girl, running away from a napalm in vietnam can literally stop a war. It started a debate, a discussion, and at the very least, an interest.

Nowadays, we had a picture of a poor dead kid laying in a beach that became a viral post for few days. Then everybody just suddenly forgets about it. It is sad really, because the immigration issue has not gotten better, and that picture is no longer enough to help it.

Perhaps, if that picture was in the front page of the Times magazine, or The New York Post 30 years ago, the world would have panic and do whatever they can, with any means that they have, to stop the crisis.

But now, some weeks later, the immigration issue has not gotten even slightly better. Actually it has gotten even worse. And when the countries failed to find a solution in the European end, they also sort of failed in the Syrian end with the Russian meddling in the water. And it seems that the little boy has been forgotten yet again. The news about immigration, if you observed, is decreasing. And sadly, it’s not a sign of the problem getting better, it is just a sign of the viewers getting bored about it. There are in fact still thousands of people sleeping on the street waiting for asylum.

Sadly, in 2015, that is the fact. The public, are just simply too busy to care, and they got bored easily. The used to be great invention of digital media, who are supposed to make  people interested in information, to help the mobilization of information, has sort of betrayed us all, and instead made us a public with less attention span. We are no longer the news generation, we are the trending generation, where anything but the trending topic is unimportant.

Why am i writing about this? well because my senior producer has just told me that i should look for a sexier news, softer, less political, and i can’t do anything about it, because deep down, i have to agree, that my audiences doesn’t care at all about the messages or the issue behind the reporting that i am presenting.

They just simply want to see staggering pictures. They just want to say wow, and share it to their social media.

So instead of reporting about a houthi attacking the Yemeni government, or about a sunni attack in Iraq who killed 57 people, I have to report about a pilot who died during a flight and a flood. Don’t get me wrong, those things are still horrible, and if I have the time, I would’ve put them all in there. But I do personally think that if any of my audiences has the power to stop a war, then i should keep reminding them about the horrible things that war yields. Because we can’t stop natural deaths, but we can stop a war somehow. And not reporting about it is no better. It is actually a step backwards.

Anyway, my point is, the news, are no longer as impact-full as it used to be. And what is democracy when the people around it are no longer interested in the information circling around it? well i don’t know. We are just simply too easy being distracted.

I am just sad that we have come to a point, where shareability has gotten over our sense of humanity. The news, has lost its power to influence people, it has just become a tool of amazement nowadays. It has become something sort of digital zoo, where we pick to see which story amazes us, take a picture of it, share it with our loves ones, and few days later forgot about the whatever stories that poor baboon went through that was written on that cardboard.

We were once the watchdog for the government.

I might be wrong, I hope I am wrong, but if I am right, then we should do something about it.

“If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.” – Thomas Sowell