Indonesia Anonymus

We are a group of Indonesians, ranting about our beloved country. This blog is a result of many people grumbling about many things in many ways.
Feedback: indonesia.anonymus at gmail dot com


Anonymus is the Latin word for anonymous, the correct English spelling. The Latin spelling, however, is traditionally used by scholars in the humanities to refer to an ancient writer whose name is not known, or to a manuscript of their work. Read more at Wikipedia.

Our blog in Bahasa Indonesia (but rarely updated) can be found here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Change we can grovel in

We read an opinion today by the Jakarta Post [1] and couldn't keep wondering why on earth they would write something like this. It's on Obama not coming to Indonesia in his Asia tour.

Read the whole thing there but here is some taste of it:

" [...] Indonesia – the world’s third-largest democracy and country with the world’s largest Muslim population – is of vital strategic importance to the US [...] A new era of US-Indonesia relations was touted [...]

But when it came time for recognition, we did not get our expected due

"Two days in Japan, two cities in four days in China, two days in Korea, three days in Singapore, and not a minute in Indonesia? We all wonder. [...]

But the news of the cancellation [...], is a letdown that speaks volumes as to the significance, or lack thereof, Indonesia is granted in American foreign policy circles.

Some insiders claim Obama actually wants to visit next year [...]
Be that as it may, the hurt has been done. Even a five-hour pause at the airport and palace would have sufficed. "


Now hang on a minute, because we got some questions:

Question number one, who's hurt by Mr Obama not visiting Indonesia?
Our answer: Not us the little people. Not us mere mortal earning less than a dollar a day and have to live with horrible traffic day in day out to earn it.
(We still remember the time when W Bush visited Indonesia and how annoying the security measures were.)
So let's see. Obama's not coming. Hmm.. Do we feel hurt? Any pain at all? A little depressed maybe? Some kind of feeling? Disappointment? Anything? Deep down inside? Hmm...

Nope. Nothing. Sorry.

As a matter of fact, we didn't even know he's planning to be in the neighbourhood.
Sure, we like Obama and his hope thing. But it does not mean we would grovel for his attention. Haven't we grovelled enough throughout history? Let's have some dignity for a change. (Change! hey, another Obama thing).

And number two, why do we need recognition from Mr. O on how well we did democracy-wise?
What does a thumbs-up from him mean anyway?
Let's see: we got our democracy after the fall of Suharto. And what country supported Suharto to stay in power for decades? Oh, that's right. The good old US of A [2].
So we set ourselves free from a dictator that they once supported, and now we want THEIR recognition?

Really, Jakarta Post? Really?

Sorry, but when it comes to recognition, the only two-thumbs-up we need is from our own people, and that is yet to be seen.

So speak for yourself, Jakarta Post.

[1] The Jakarta Post - Barry’s snub
[2] AFP - US propped up Suharto despite rights abuses: documents

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

God's will?

It's God's will, some say. And we hear this time and time again when disaster strikes (such as the recent earthquake that took way too many lives.)

It's God's will, some say.
Sure, some of us Indonesians (if not most of us) are religious in one way or another. So respecting God's will is an instinctive response.

It's God's will.

Is it?
OK, earthquake is a natural phenomenon, but if we really look at it, it's not the earthquake that killed most of our folks there. It's the landslides that followed the earthquake.
And the crumbling building: The crumbling schools, hospitals, houses...

We may not be able to predict earthquake, but we can calculate the risk of landslide ahead of time.

We cannot prevent earthquake, but we can prevent our schools from crashing down on our children by building them stronger.

So no. Sorry. It's not God's will. Not yet.
If we ride a motorcycle without a helmet and then crash and crack our head, who's fault is it?
Are we going to blame it on God too?

Please do not get us wrong. We are not questioning the greater power, and we are not saying that it is wrong to be religious. No.

We are just trying to point out that some deaths that occurred after the earthquake are actually preventable. And it is our fault that we failed to do so. Not God's.

After the earthquake in Jogja, when people were starting to rebuild, there were some talks on how to build an earthquake-proof house. A stronger structure that if not withstand the average earthquake, at least stay together long enough to give time for the people inside to get out.

Some also say that it actually does not cost more, especially if we build the house from scratch, as many people in Jogja had to do anyway at the time, since their houses were destroyed.

Days and months passed by since then. And what happen in the end?
People rebuild the houses the same way they did before. It's the same old.
So if another earthquake strikes the area again (God forbid), the same thing will happen again.

And again.
And again.

Read this news:
The number of schools damaged and destroyed because of the earthquake in West Sumatra is 1.929 [1]. The news is dated October 6, 2009.

And now read this:
An earthquake of 5.8 Richter scale in West Sumatra has destroyed 295 schools, killing three teachers and four students [2].
When is this? March 9, 2007. More than two years ago.

And again.
And again.

And that's God's will?

If we failed to prevent the preventable, it's our own fault.

We do preventive measures all the time: We took vaccination. Wear helmet. Seatbelt. We use antibacterial soap. We work out and eat our vegetables.

We do them to prevent bad things from happening to us.

But somehow when it comes to building our houses, our hospitals, our schools we just don't think that far.

It's not ok to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, but we can get away with building schools with shoddy structures.

And when the earth started moving, our schools crumbled, killing our children, we say it's God's will.


Sure, having stronger buildings will not prevent casualties 100%.
Sure, when it is time to go it is time to go.

But when's the last time we hear an earthquake killing thousands in Japan? This is a country with daily earthquakes. is that God's will, or is it because the Japanese decided to have enough with the deaths and started building better structures to withstand the tremor?

Clearly, there is a way to prevent the worst.

So enough with it already.
When it is our fault, it is our fault.
It's nothing we cannot fix.

If we fix it right, when another earthquake occurs in the future (and it will), the news hopefully will be a short one: Earthquake, 8 richter scale. No casualty. No major damage.

Now that's God's will.

[1] Republika - Gedung Sekolah Rusak Akibat Gempa 1.929 Unit
[2] Detik - Gempa Sumbar, 295 Sekolah Rusak, 3 Guru dan 4 Siswa Tewas