Where is Jokowi in our hour of need?

Today most Indonesians who pride themselves as progressive would have felt let down by the news that Ahok has been sentenced to 2 years jail for blasphemy. They view Ahok as innocent and a victim of bigots, Muslim hardliners and vested interests in politics.

On the other side are those who feel a sense of justice because they feel that Ahok had been contemptuous of them. Them loosely defined as those mostly Muslims that see his speech at 1,000 Islands as blasphemous or at least insulting, and those who feel that Ahok had gone too far in his outbursts against those who disagree with him.

The important question to ask is firstly whether Ahok’s punishment fit the crime? Ahok has certainly been brash and maybe even abuse in his outbursts against those who are sometimes clueless of how government should work and try to appeal to him directly, he has also been contemptuous, this time perhaps rights, against those who want to take advantage of the system, be they  politicians or civil servants.

So if anything Ahok can be said to be guilty of being insensitive, callous and sarcastic, “crimes” that may earn him a reprimand but certainly not two years in jail.

But jail he must go, says the judge, and while Ahok’s lawyers are sure to appeal the decision, the question to raise now is what does his conviction portend.

Today’s decision is sure to embolden further to an already emboldened religious Muslim Right who will now not stop until they become the political ruling class. And why not. They smell blood in the air. Against legal norms they have managed to wrap the blasphemy charge against Ahok, seemingly against the implicit wishes of the President himself and the more liberal and dominant Muslim sector represented by the NU. They can virtually see the light at the end of the tunnel with Ahok’s conviction.

Today was also a good day for Prabowo who has his eyes on the next round of the presidential elections in 2019. At the present there is only Jokowi who is the only viable opponent for 2019. With Jokowi dithering and meditating on his own non-action in a very Javanese way, Prabowo is starting to look even better as presidential prospect in two years, what more with him cozying up to the leaders of the Islamic hard liners. Whether he can, like Lee Kuan Yew who rode the communists like a tiger to power and afterward subdued them, ride the Islamists to power and then subdue them remains to be seen.

The only thing that can forestall all of this coming to pass is Jokowi himself who apparently is locked in inaction because he does not want to be accused of being authoritarian and brutal as Suharto and who feels that he does not have enough control of the political parties and factions and the military to crack down on the Islamic hardliners.

Hence legal violations like inciting racial hatred, acts of vandalism during demonstrations and the FPI taking the law into their own hands goes unpunished, adding to the sense of impunity these thugs already feel.

Jokowi takes no hard decisions and instead he seems to be looking elsewhere but the right place for a solution. While Ahok’s verdict was being read, for instance, the President’s advisory council was meeting influential people to discuss how best to “socialize” Pancasila. Another meeting is being held tomorrow with another group of social leaders on the same subject.

This is all nonsense. The Pancasila may espouse the best values that a nation could want but unless the government is ready and willing to show that it is ready to stand up and defend these values, no amount of spin and socialization would have real lasting effect.

In this dark hour, the people of Indonesia want a decisive leader, a firm leader and a resolute one to lead them out of the present path leading to division, sectarianism and confusion. It is time that Jokowi discard that Javanese facade and act as a national leader, lest Prabowo be tempted to shoo him away like ants trying to get at his cakes.

Jokowi, do not forsake your people. They need you to be strong for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking potential crisis: Telkomsel and its hacked website

Crisis Management Students: Fire up your twitter apps and browsers and train them on Telkomsel’s website and their Twitter responses.

Someone has hacked into Telkomsel’s website and filled it with vitriol and animal references –  and being generally lauded by netizens for doing so.

Although hacking is a crime and should be condemned. The hackers are instead getting plaudits because for years Telkomsel has been perceived to be arrogant, expensive and treating its customers with contempt.

There is a marketing and customer service lesson here somewhere that tells the story of how you may be dominant in a market but not loved. If only a competitor could get its act together and run a disruptive campaign enlisting Freedom Fighters against obscurantism, bad service and expensive service, you’d be toast.

In the meanwhile Telkomsel’s Twitter handle is telling all and sundry that they are restoring the website so people can use them again, as if nothing untoward has happened.

More: something’s very wrong or it’s just absolutely bad timing when your agency peeps posts this just as the issue is escalating. 


 

 

 

The mystery behind the Cisewu Tyger

OK, so everyone had a chuckle and some fun over the Cisewu Tiger. And rightly so because it looks like the sculptor was smoking something illegal that the police confiscated when fashioning his magnum opus. But as usual, people miss asking the right questions when it comes to such stories.

The questions:

  1. Who was the sculptor and what’s his claim to fame if not being the relative of some high ranking military man?
  2. Who in the military commissioned the sculptor?
  3. How is it that presumably sensible military commanders could approve this comical sight and pay the sculptor?

In short (with apologies to William Blake):

What immoral hand or eye,
Could frame thy laughable symmetry?

Comical tiger statue at military base torn down but netizen frenzy remains

Amusement is one thing you might rarely find in a military base.

But this was not the case at the Subdistrict Military Command (Koramil) 1123 in Cisewu, West Java, when a smiling tiger statue at the base generated laughter and glee around the country.

On Monday, however, the odd-looking statue located at the base’s main entrance was taken down into pieces. The tiger is the symbol of the Siliwangi Military Command, which oversees the entire West Java province. For a few days prior to Monday, netizens shared the hashtag #MacanCisewu (Cisewu Tiger), with the picture of the statue going viral.

With its wide smile, the tiger would surely put a smile on the face of any visitor to the base. Social media users had every reason to post hilarious comments on the statue, but high-ranking military officers felt irritated by the online fuss.

The cheeky netizens were deemed bullies by the military and alas, the military eventually decided to dismantle the tiger.

Source: Comical tiger statue at military base torn down but netizen frenzy remains – Entertainment – The Jakarta Post

Things I learned last Christmas

This Christmas season was different. We’re not Christians and don’t really observe Christmas but like many of our friends join in the festivities and merry making that also marks the season of the ending of the year.

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When the old stop eating the only way to nourish them is through tube feeding

 

Normally, our family would go somewhere for a holiday but this year things are different. My 93-year old aunt has fallen ill and has been bed ridden in hospital since the 16th. She’s special to my sister and I. She was the one whom we were closest too when we were young because our mother would be out of the house teaching. She has been stayed with us ever since I, the elder of two siblings, was born. She had married but her husband died from an illness soon after the wedding and she’s been part of our family since.

It was a no brainer then that as a family we’d forgo our seasonal holidays to spend time with her and Mum, who’s also pushing 84.

The decision turned out to be timely. Two days before we were due to fly to Malaysia, my aunt was readmitted to the geriatric ward of the hospital. Her lungs had been clogged up and she hovered between delirium and unconsciousness.

Since coming back my sister and I have been taking turns together with our maid, attending to my aunt. Other family members visited when they could. It turns out that my aunt was infected with Klebsillia, a contagious bacteria that causes all sorts of pandemonium to the body, including pneumonia.

These are the things I learned while being a caregiver over the past few days.

Being a caregiver is hard work – I had thought that the job comprised of one sitting by the bedside, opening up the computer and surfing the Net or reading a book, and occasionally attending to the patient. Wrong. In my aunt’s case, on many days she would moan and groan ever few minutes or complain of pain.

You don’t know how much of the pain is actually experienced by her or it’s in the imagination but you care for her so you try to find out and to reassure her. That leaves you little time for anything else and at the end of the day you’re dead tired mentally and physically.

You also need all sorts of skills as a caregiver. In the two weeks or so I learned how to feed my aunt through a tube because she had stopped eating, how to change adult diapers when she soiled herself, and how to change clothes and bed sheets for the bed ridden. There were nurses but they were so overworked that unless you rolled up your sleeves you had to wait a long time before you can get some service.

The treatment, level of care and friendliness at University Hospital, a government teaching hospital, is as good if not better than what you’d get at private hospitals. The facilities may not look so spanking new but they are not backward in terms of equipment, level of care, courtesy and medical advice. In fact, listening to the many stories of how mercenary private hospitals have become I tend to think that we get better recommendations and treatment here than in the private hospitals. That’s because the medical staff here want to do their jobs, as opposed to wanting to make lots of money in private hospitals.

 Siddharta Gautama was right. Old age is suffering. My aunt was one tough cookie. When I was growing up I could not recall a single time she want to the doctor. Even well into her early 80s she did without doctors, popping only an occasional Panadol when she felt unwell. Right up to her first serious bout of illness about a month ago my aunt could still walk around with a stroller, albeit we coud see her getting slower and weaker as old age and osteoporosis took their toll.

But she could not go on forever.

So this seems the final decline and it is not pretty. He streak of independence has been compromised, her dignity stripped as she is not even able to change her own soiled clothes. For the first time in her adult life she has had to rely on others.

It is heartbreaking but it is also the natural course of things. Unless we drop dead while still relatively young, all of us are destined to suffer through old age as it robs us of motion, our senses and our will. The only recourse we have left for our aunt is to make sure that she feels as comfortable as possible and, if it is still possible for her, to know that she’s being loved to the end, a reciprocation of the care and love she showered us when we were young. It is a debt that we cannot even begin to repay.

 

Update – It is now New Year’s Eve and my aunt is still in hospital. She’s due to be discharged on Monday. The doctor has said that she should be with family after discharge.

Happy New Year everyone. Do not forget to show your love and appreciation for those who helped raise you in an atmosphere of love and acceptance.

Breaking Bread with Sari Roti

Here’s what I posted on the Maverick blog today about the brouhaha over Sari Roti:

What corporations can learn from the Sari Roti incident

Out of the blue, the bread manufacterer Sari Roti came under attack by unverified news postings on social media in the past week.

The attacks came in the form of postings claiming that Sari Roti was supporting the 212 demonstrations by giving out free bread to the demonstrators. Photos were posted of Sari Roti tricycles with a handwritten sign “Free for the mujahids”.

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Similar posting kept cropping up and the usual supporters and critics weighed in. By Saturday, the noise had grown so much that Sari Roti’s management felt compelled to make their stand clear.

The issued a press release on their website, ostensibly saying some PR-ese about appreciating how the Super Peaceful 212 rally went on peacefully, how they were committed to uphold the values of democracy, diversity and national integrity of the country and how the incident involving the signs on the tricycles were not officially approved by Sari Roti because they were politically neutral.

It also said that the signs appeared because an unidentified customer bought the bread from the tricycle hawkers, asked them to go to the Monas entrance and put the signs on to feed the demonstrators – all without the knowledge or approval from the Sari Roti management.

 

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Read more…

How transnational couples can start owning properties in Indonesia

If you are a foreigner married to an Indonesian or vice versa, this would be a forum you’d want to attend.

The reason is that until two weeks ago you’d have a pre-nuptial agreement if you want to have a normal life in Indonesia that allows you to buy and sell properties.  Article 29 of the 1974 Marriage Law makes it a bitch for you to divide up your property and debts unless this was agreed on before you get married. It does not recognize any agreement between consenting adults on their property and debts if it is made after marriage.

The consequences of such an interpretation of the law makes it virtually for transnational couples to buy and own property. Banks  would not give you a loan because the Law does not recognize the foreign spouse as a legal entity, meaning that if you die then they cannot take up the payments for the loan. There is apparently also some provision that if you do not have a prenup should any of you die, half of your assets would be surrendered to the state.

This was clearly unfair to Indonesians most of all, so it was good news that the Constitutional Court last month declared this policy unconstitutional. For more details on this decision see here.

But now that the Court has overturned the 42-year policy, what next for married couples? How should they go about drafting their Post-Nup agreements? Should it be bilingual? Where should such an agreement be filed at?

The Indonesian Mixed-Marriage Society (PerCa), that has been doing an excellent job championing the rights of transnational couples in Indonesia, is holding a talkshow next week to have these questions answered. Make sure you attend it if you want to avoid the uncertainties that usually accompany any simple bureaucratic procedure in Indonesia.

 

 

 

Is Trump the best thing to happen to America, and the World?

This idea, like Trump himself, seems preposterous.

Here is a man who violates all form of political correctness, a racist, a misogynist, a racist, a pussy grabber….and the lost of deplorables goes on. As a result most people around the world, let alone Americans, woke up with the shit!-was-I-so-wasted-I-went-to-bed-with-THAT! expression the morning after the November 8 elections.

We blink, and hope that it was only a bad dream after all. But no such luck. Trump is now the President elect. We got screwed by Hideous and that’s a fact of life.

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No point whining about it now, or be outraged by the electoral system or the type of people who voted him in.

There is a good reason why Trump won, and the sooner we all come to grips with it, the sooner we, the rest of the world (excluding the Brexit Brits, they too had already been screwed) would be able to avoid a similar fate.

Among everything Unspun has heard and read about this election and Brexit, I’ve found two articles to be particularly enlightening.

The first is an article by former Wall Street Journal reporter and co-founder of Muslim Reform Movement Asra Q. Nomani. She’s a Muslim, a woman, an immigrant and she voted Trump. Until now, she had been one of Trump’s silent supporters, because to declare her preference would have exposed her to all sorts of bullying by the more liberal members of America’s population.

Today she wrote an article for the Washington Post here. You could disagree with a lot of the things she said but what fascinated me is that for her and people like her, the possibility of Trump being an agent for change in the US’s policy on bread-and-butter issues and on the Islamic State was so important it overwhelms all this weaknesses. She also sees Clinton as a member of the establishment that will not change anything substantially.

Read Asra’s article together with George Monbiot‘s article Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems and an interesting picture develops. It is a long but thoughtful piece on how neoliberal we all – our governments, our businesses, our educated classes – have become without even realizing it.

So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

The bottom line of the article is that neoliberalism (no not the pejorative term in use today but the actual economic concept) has taken over most part of the world. As a result we have become a world in which the strongest (read: the cleverest, most educated and networked) thrive while the rest are not only left to languish but scolded for being unable to climb out of their gutter.

In this world, social and welfare safety nets have been dismantled, and – to simplify matters – the poor get poorer while the privileged jet around, attend Ted talks, do yoga, fashion themselves as entrepreneurs with their startups, networking sessions and get richer.

In any society you can’t have the relatively few eating richer cakes while the poor become more disenfranchised, find themselves deeper in depth and get angrier because even if they are willing to work hard and long there is simply no way out for them.

It is this anger that has propelled the need for change at any cost, and Trump and Brexit are the results.

The pertinent questions we should ask ourselves is what can we do to meet the challenges wrought on us by Neoliberalism. Trump/Brexit is a bit like Communism facing Capitalism. There was once a time when Capitalists looked on Communism as a threat as frightening as the Mongol Hordes. There was once a time when it seemed as if Communism would swallow up Capitalism.

Staring into that abyss, Capitalism changed from the raw Dickensian form of ruthless exploitation to a gentler and more caring form, and that eventually defeated Communism.

Today history may have come around to pitting the forces that ensued the success of Trump/Brexit against Neoliberalism. Can we change so that we embrace a liberalism that is more inclusive of all the segments in our society, so that the rich may have an opportunity to become richer, but only if they also help take care of the welfare and empower the less fortunate of sectors of society to become more prosperous as well. Call it Creating Shared Value if you would.

In a rising tide all ships rise, in an ebbing tide all ships fall.

If we are able to take Trump’s victory as a wake up call for us to address the deficiencies of neoliberalism we may yet catch that tide. In this sense, Trump may be the best thing to happen to us all, lest we descend uncomprehendingly in a falling tide.