Given the track record of how this government handles, some would say mishandles, information during disasters and crises (such as the missing Adam Air Flight KI 574) the question that must be asked is:
Just what actually does the National Disaster Management Board do?
The last time Unspun spoke to anyone senior on the board was just after the Government mishandled the communications in the aftermath of the Aceh Tsunami. It was at a panel discussion organized by the business magazine SWA and Unspun‘s alter ego was invited to provide some input about crisis management practices.
What emerged during the discussion was an expose of what a joke the board was. Some of the officials would only speak off record and the picture that emerged is that the board is severely underfunded to do the correct things. Education to children of what to do on receiving an earthquake warning, for instance, received some silly amount like Rp 500 million per year. And that is for a national awareness program.
It was a long time ago (in 2005) so Unspun does not remember the details but impressions carved indelibly into Unspun’s mind were that:
- The board was politicised so decision making is a joke
- There has been no drill on what to do during an emergency
- Officials then were more interested in the projects coming up in Aceh rather than how to handle the immediate problems
Unspun is sure that things have improved at the board since then, although the board is still headed by the same person – Vice President Jusuf Kalla. Kalla is now facing the heat for the board’s perceived inadequacies in helping the relatives of the passengers of the missing Flight KI 574.
But really, what does the National Disaster Emergency Board do? Are they supposed to move in during aviation incidents? maritime incidents such as ferry sinkings? If so what is their mandate? What are they doing about KI 574 and the ferry victims and their families? Are they involved in coordinating the communications in such incidents? if so why the botch up?
Getting these questions answered will help get Indonesia to a higher level of competence in handling disasters and crisis-like situations. Not answering them will help ensure that Indonesia remains in a state of low capacity in handling such incidents.
So where are all the brave, fearless and smart journalists who work to get the information out so that we can all have a better society? The fact that Indonesia has such poor emergency and disaster handling capabilities is one thing that you can do something about?
Yet the mainstream media has so far failed to expose the weaknesses in a system that has caused unnecessary anguish to relatives of KI 574. It is time that the Tempos and Kompasses get off their high horse and do some honest investigative reporting.
Or must us in the blogosphere do your job for you?