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25 April 2011

Kartini's Day and Indonesian women

Raden Ajeng Kartini
Recently on April 21 the Indonesian nation commemorate Kartini's Day. Actually Kartini's Day is similar to Mother's Day (celebrated in Indonesia on December 22) or International Women's Day. Perhaps to understand Mother's Day you need to understand a person in your life called Mother, and for the International Women's Day and Kartini's Day perhaps you need to understand the person in your life called wife or sister. If you are underestimating women then firstly you need to look at your mother. Am I wrong?

In short: That is all for women. In wider meaning: That is how these special Day to further raise the awareness of Indonesian society or even the world - especially the women themselves - about women rights, their struggle for equality, and their important role in various spheres of life. This is also an occasion for Indonesian women to review how far their struggle get acknowledgment especially from the point of view of Indonesian traditional society who live in rural areas.

Kartini's Day is taken from the name Raden Ajeng Kartini, a heroine for the emancipation of Indonesian women during Dutch colonial. In 1964, President Sukarno declared Kartini's birth date, April 21, as Kartini's Day. This decision has been criticized by some historical observers. They argued that Kartini was selected by the Dutch to be displayed in front as a heroine for the advancement of native Indonesian women. They also argued that we take over Kartini as a symbol of Indonesian women emancipation from the Dutch people - why not Ratu Safiatuddin Taj ul-Alam from Aceh, or Dewi Sartika from Bandung, or Rohana Kudus from Padang. However, the commemoration of Kartini's Day still continue until today. But that's not the focus in this post because, for me, all the heroines can be an inspiration for Indonesian women to go ahead, right?

In the era of Kartini, the condition of Indonesian women was very marginalized and stuck in the system that are culturally, economically, socially, and politically, didn't take sides to women. Ordinary women were not allowed to school, become leaders, even did not have the freedom to choose a husband. This is worsened by the norm in the society that considers women's role only take care of home, children, and be a good wife and obedient to her husband. Within the circumstance, Kartini didn't give up and lament the situation. She was determined to elevate her people from ignorance and poverty. Kartini also known as a pioneer for the rights of indigene women at that time, in order to raise the dignity of women from the pit of contempt. Eventually Kartini had founded schools for her fellows Indonesian.

She keep maintained her spirit, ideas, thoughts and ideals through the letters that she sent to her friends in Netherlands. Kartini's letters much says about the independence of the Indonesian nation, education for women, and gender equality. Brilliant thoughts that goes beyond her age and era, even still relevant today and become the inspiration for many people. After Kartini died, Mr J. H. Abendanon (Minister for Culture, Religion and Diligence in the East Indies) collect the letters that Kartini had sent to her friends. In 1911, the collection of Kartini's letters published in a Dutch-language book titled Door Duisternis tot Licht, and then translated into English titled Letters of a Javanese Princess (click this link to read it). The book also published in Indonesian language with the title Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang. After publication, the book attracted great interest in the Netherlands and Indonesia. Her ideals also provided inspiration for prominent figures in the struggle for Independence.

Whether Kartini's spirit and ideals has been perceived by most women in Indonesia today? I see Indonesian women now are getting a lot of progress. Many women have become important persons in many companies and organizations, work as teacher, lecture, researcher, politician. The law has set 30% the number of women in the House of Representative and in the stewardship of political parties (unfortunately there are no sanctions for violator). Even former President of Indonesia Megawati Sukarnoputri was a woman.

Nonetheless, the spirit of Kartini has not been felt in hinterland or rural areas where many women not yet get a decent education or not going to school at all. Sometimes that's not because the government did not build a school there, but also because of the stigma in society who still assumes that whatever is achieved by women in education and career, finally after married ended up in the kitchen. Domestic violence remains a scourge for most women in Indonesia. Why? That is because many women are still very dependent to her husband financially. Especially after having children they almost had no bargaining power, helpless to act or take legal action. Fear of the future of children is often a major reason for women to survive in misery, even willing to become migrant workers abroad.

Note: Image of Kartini was taken from Wikipedia under Creative Commons license with attribute to Tropenmuseum of the Royal Tropical Institute.

16 April 2011

Suicide bomb in mosque

Suicide bomber has attacked a mosque located in the complex of Police Cirebon, in Cirebon city. The bomb exploded yesterday (Friday, April 15, 2011) at around 12:20, resulted in 1 person died (suspected as the perpetrator) and 26 people injured. Most of the victims were police because the mosque is a worship facility within the police complex.

According to the news in Indonesia, the perpetrator were identified aged between 20-25 years, 170 cm tall, oval-faces and short-haired, worn a jacket, a hat, and brought a prayer rug.

Actually this is not the first time for the bomb attack on the mosque. Previously it had occurred at the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta on April 19, 1999. Nevertheless usually observers in Indonesia, even international, tend to associate the bomb cases with Islamic extremists. But I guess a bomb attack in the mosque for this time probably will triggers various discourse and assumption. It's clear that the target location of bomb attacks this time are in the mosque and the police.

15 April 2011

Somali pirates

It's almost a month the news about Somali pirates appeared in various media in Indonesia. On March 16, 2011 an Indonesian vessel "Sinar Kudus" which was carrying nickel ore hijacked by Somali pirates in Arabian Sea in the voyage from Pomalaa, Southeast Sulawesi to Rotterdam. There were 20 hostages along with the vessel. The pirates demanded a ransom of US$ 3.5 million, but then fall to US$ 3 million.

Well, this is an urgent situation and also a dilemmatic. After one month it seems these piracy cases still not found its end point. Therefore, some observers in Indonesia proposes military force to rescue the hostages, especially Somalia's Ambassador to Indonesia Mohamud Olow Barow had provide an opportunity for the Indonesian government to use military force in freeing the hostage. But there is the family of one hostage were objected because they are feared the military operation would be very risky to the safety of the hostages. Perhaps the reason of live safety has made the Indonesian government to act very carefully (rather slow I think).

I think the diplomacy and negotiation efforts by PT Samudera Indonesia, Tbk (the company owner of the ship) for one month is sufficient. It is clear that the pirates demanded a ransom in money. I think there are only 2 options to makes this story ended quickly. First, give them money then the story will end. If you do not want to give them money then use the second option that is sending special forces to free the hostages. Treat them like freeing hostages from terrorists. Why not? even permission has been given by Somalia's Ambassador, right? so what are you waiting for ! Still hoping Somali government to help? Hmmm... it was hard because the Somali government itself was unstable due to prolonged civil war.

In the future the international cooperation to combat Somali pirates need to be strengthened again. Please you search on Google with keywords "Somali pirates", then you will find approximately 15,400,000 stories about them. Perhaps the kids story books about pirates have to be withdrawn from circulation because pirates can become an idol in their imagination.

05 April 2011

Young policeman rocking India

Indeed, recently the atmosphere in police station moreover the duty of a policeman is full of pressure. Each seconds must be ready to meet the call of duty, and must be able to move quickly to the crime scene. Moreover, recently in Indonesia occurred two events that made them tense, namely the book-bomb terror and demonstration due to controversy in football.

Nonetheless, police also human like us who need a little relax and joke (though momentary). So do not blame this young policeman to release a little tension. You better watch it before blocked.



This video has been aired yesterday afternoon by a TV station in Indonesia. Apparently this video is very popular after aired as I see today (after next 12 hours) it has 105,669 views on YouTube and 3,251 commentary on Yahoo News Indonesia. Hopefully this will not become our national joke. If yes then I guess my friend Rummuser from India will be shocked to know his country's song Chaiyya-Chaiyya involved in this humor.

PS: This video has been widespread in the social networking and re-aired today by several TV stations in Indonesia. Even the news reporter laugh out loud. I have watched this video with my 2 kids. I said: "Son, don't worry, it turns out the police are not scary". It's time for humor, don't you?

28 March 2011

Childbirth costs free - congratulations Indonesian women

This is a very good news for Indonesian women, especially mothers. Karolin Margaret Natasa, a member of commission IX People's Representative Council of the Republic of Indonesia said that this year the central government freeing the childbirth costs for the whole citizen. According to minister, government has budgeted Rp 1.2 trillion in the state budget 2011, and each city / district will get the allocation of Rp 2 billion to free up the childbirth costs.

Although this program applies to everyone, it seems the program is intended for the poor because Karolin says: "Jika masyarakat mampu juga ingin persalinannya gratis silakan saja, asalkan mau ditempatkan di rumah sakit kelas III. Kalau rumah sakit kelas mewah, jelas tidak bisa diberlakukan". (English: "If rich people also want it free for childbirth, go ahead, provided that they're willing to be placed in third class hospital. If luxury hospital, obviously not included in this program")

For me who lives in Indonesia of course this is an excellent news. But unfortunately when I convey this news to my wife and people around me, they did not know it. This proves that this program has not been socialized properly until the grass root. I realize that this takes time, but the government needs to immediately disseminate this program until grassroot, especially for rural society where they are the most in need.

Here I am still thinking whether this program for freeing the childbirth costs will trigger a boom in births in Indonesia, it means will disturb the birth control program. Whatever it is, congratulations for Indonesian women!

== Additional update on 29 March 2011 ==

Actually the plan of this program has been published in September 2010 through the official website of Health Ministry of the Republic of Indonesia. In there explained that in order to reduce the "Maternal Mortality Rate" and "Infant Mortality Rate", Health Ministry creates what's called "new iniciative", namely provides service for childbirth with the cost borne by the government. But again, when just last afternoon I was visiting my niece who was hospitalized due to illness, I just asked a mother who was accompanying his son in the same hospital by asking if she knew that the childbirth costs borne by the government? The answer was "not yet". Hopefully fellows blogger in Indonesia willing to spread this news in their respective area.

One of the targets of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to reduce the ratio of maternal mortality by three quarters from 1990 to 2015. Can Indonesia successfully achieve this target at the end of 2015?
Hmm... :( well, perhaps a news titled "A matter of life and death" from the Jakarta Post able to stimulate you to answer, and below I quotes four important points that makes me very focused (I'm sorry for a bit sad news, mothers):
  1. Many families prefer to use a dukun (traditional healer or shaman) because of traditional beliefs and because it is cheaper than using a trained midwife or going to the hospital. These traditional birth attendants usually perform household chores while the mother recovers. In many rural areas in Indonesia, traditional ways of delivering babies still exist.
  2. Of the 11 countries that contribute to 65 percent to global maternal death, five are in Asian countries including Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan India and Afghanistan.
  3. Indonesia is among Asian countries that have a limited national health budget at only 2.4 percent of the state budget, far below the World Health Organization (WHO)’s standard of at least five percent of the state budget.
  4. According to a study by Ascorbat Gani, medical professor at the University of Indonesia, decentralization of health authority from central to provincial and regional governments has worsened the women and children’s health conditions.
Previous posts related to mother and family:
1) Mother and child - an essay  2) Mother's Day - A tribute for mother  3) An hour with family

Images taken from Wikipedia under creative commons license.

17 March 2011

Ulil Abshar Abdalla, a piece of important story on him

Within this post, I just picked up the scattered stories from the media in Indonesia related to three book-bomb attact on 15 March 2011. The first news that has attracted me to publish this post was Jakarta Globe - titled "Democracy in Indonesia in 'Danger': Journalists Alliance":
"Judging from the package sent, the perpetrator was clearly trying to silence Ulil by killing him", said Nezar Patria, chairman of AJI (Aliansi Jurnalis Independen / The Alliance of Independent Journalists).
"The case has to be solved. An attack against an advocate of pluralism is a hard blow to our national ideals. Democracy in Indonesia is now in danger".
Tempo Interaktif also published the letter that found within the book-bomb's packet addressed to Ulil.

According to Jakarta Globe, there were three book-bombs. The first one addressed to Ulil Abshar Abdalla, co-founder of Jaringan Islam Liberal (Liberal Islamic Network). The second package was addressed to Comr. Gen. Gories Mere, a former key officer of the National Police’s elite counterterrorism unit, Densus 88 (Special Detachment 88). The books sent to Ulil and Gories were titled "They Deserved to Be Killed: Because of Their Sins to Islam and Muslims". The third book-bomb was addressed to Yapto with the titled "Masih Adakah Pancasila?" ("Does Pancasila Still Exist?").

Why Ulil Abshar Abdalla?
Because in 2002 Ulil wrote an article titled "Menyegarkan Kembali Pemahaman Islam (Rejuvenating the Islamic Understanding)" in Kompas, a popular newspaper in Indonesia. By browsing, I also found another piece of story about Ulil published in 2003, just to answer the question of why?

Who is Ulil? Please read at Wikipedia. Now what? Again, a test for the state constitution, Indonesia.

14 March 2011

Indonesian students abroad - between elitism and hope

While a lot of Indonesian children are not able to get a good education because their parents can not afford, on the other hand there are some of the elite society send their children to study abroad. As we know, send the kids to get education abroad requires substantial extra costs. Indeed, this is a situation of high-contrast.

Here are some assumption of Indonesian society (perhaps also in other developing countries) towards oversea graduates (from developed countries) of their children:
  1. Higher quality education.
  2. More competitive in employment.
  3. Certainly able to speak English.
  4. They were considered elite. (ps: I should end this points with question mark).
This post is not intended to look at one eye on education in Indonesia because there are many qualified people who graduate from Indonesia's school/university has sat on managerial level at large companies or become high officials in government. Beside that, there's a saying stated that quality of a person is not solely measured by his/her educational level, right?

Apart from the matter of elitism and gap above, I try to think outside the box towards Indonesian students abroad especially in developed countries. What is my hope on them? My hope is not solely they are smart in science but there is much more than that, that is they have a good insight and open mind towards pluralism, multiculturalism, democracy, gender equality, and think more globally as they return to home. I hope you would like to think like me, do not focused on elitism matter, but think they will bring changes into your outlook and changing the way of thinking in the right path. For me, this is the core of education!

Of course I also do not want them to forget their ancestral culture, so please back home and build your country.

Related post: Equalize bachelor's degree with diploma's degree?

12 March 2011

Leaked diplomatic wire, WikiLeaks, Internet, Blogging, What is this mean

When reading news through Google Reader, I found an interesting news reported by Antara News and Tempo Interaktif. There is mentioned that the two of Australia's famous newspaper, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, has reported confidential information about President Yudhoyono. The news on both paper were based on WikiLeaks's information, which have leaked from the diplomatic wire of U.S. Embassy.

Fellow blogger Martin Manurung, as I read on his profile was a President Director of PT Sekurindo Gada Patria (a company provides consultancy on managing risks and business continuity), has an interesting post about this issue titled Arti Heboh Wikileaks. Sadly he wrote in Bahasa Indonesia. He had quote and translate parts of the sentences from the Australian newspaper that he considers important (and I quoted from his posting), that is:
"...The US diplomatic reports-obtained by WikiLeaks and provided exclusively to The Age - say that soon after becoming President in 2004, Dr Yudhoyono intervened in the case of Taufik Kiemas, husband of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri..."
"...In December 2004, the US embassy in Jakarta reported that one of its most valued political informants, senior presidential adviser T.B. Silalahi, had advised that then assistant attorney-general Hendarman Supandji, who was leading the new government’s anticorruption campaign, had gathered "sufficient evidence of the corruption of former first gentleman Taufik Kiemas to warrant Taufik’s arrest"
"...But Mr Silalahi, one of Dr Yudhoyono’s closest political confidants, told the US embassy the President "had personally instructed Hendarman not to pursue a case against Taufik..."
Of course, the news got a lot of protests from senior officials of Indonesian government, like this:
"Suruh buktikanlah kalau itu benar. Kalau ada buktinya serahkan ke Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (KPK)", kata Ketua Mahkamah Agung, Harifin A Tumpa.
Translated in English: "Tell to prove if it's true. If there was evidence, submit to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK)", said Chairman of the Supreme Court, Harifin A Tumpa.
"Kalau memang (informasi) ini sungguh-sungguh tidak benar, kedutaan (AS) itu harus meminta maaf ke Pemerintah Indonesia," kata Jaffar Hafsah, Ketua Fraksi Partai Demokrat.
Translated in English: "If this (information) is really not true, the embassy (U.S.) must apologize to the Indonesian government," said Jaffar Hafsah, leader of Demokrat Party faction.

Like Martin, I do not want to comment on whether the news is true or not, factual or not, because I'm not involved in political mainstream, and do not have any evidence on my hand. I just want to release of what in my mind like this:
  1. Blogging is not just building our village (that is important too) as posted by Jim Belshaw. I think blogging has been ogled by many activists / journalist in this world as an alternative way out for channeling the freedom of expression without censorship, unlike printed news.
  2. WikiLeaks phenomenon is a signal that in the era of information technology, all things may be possible to open. Think about the incidence of a bank account hacked by hackers.
  3. Information through blogging, social networks like Facebook / Twitter, email, SMS via Blackberry, now seem more powerful. Unlike traditional media (printed newspaper), they do not know (not tied) with the journalistic code of ethics.
In closing I still wonder whether all the information stored in the WikiLeaks's safe deposit box are valid and accountable, or only partially that can be accounted. Hopefully the news from WikiLeaks, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald is not true, while I'm still love my president.

09 March 2011

Between two interests - oil and democracy

As we know the pro-democracy movement was on the rise in the Middle East and North Africa. The victim started from Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Yemen, and the next candidate is Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, and maybe Bahrain. I also saw a wave of pro-democracy has brought a sense of worry for countries in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia.

When pro-democracy movement shook Tunisia, oil prices has not been affected, likewise when these movement travel to Egypt, because these two countries was not a significant oil producer for the world. But when the pro-democracy protests spread to Libya, oil prices have jumped since mid-February when the rebellion in Libya increases.

Thus Saudi Arabia was forced to increase its oil production in order to maintain the stability of world energy and cooling the overheated energy prices. The most frightening is that if pro-democracy demonstrations spread to Saudi Arabia.

It seems that USA and European countries are aware that the longer the oil supply disrupted, it will bring economic chaos for them as the countries who depend on oil supply from non-democratic countries (Islamic and/or authoritarian countries) like Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Middle East countries. Moreover, the U.S. economy was still giddy after the global crisis and European economy are not yet better.

Therefore I have an intriguing question. Which one you choose? If you choose oil, it means you better support the Islamic monarchy in the Middle East (of course to their unique value too). Or ... proactively support the pro-democracy movement in the Middle East.