Wednesday, 29 April 2009
I don’t know how to start talking about poverty today. I’d written an article for OMNI on October 2007 Indonesian Speaks Out Against Poverty. One and a half year gone by, but the issue is still the same...economic situation doesn't seem to be better. Poverty is still spreading all over the country. It feels even worse although the number provided by the official data said the contrary. Poverty is one subject that is always in my concern, that is why I’d like to join Bloggers Unite in “Unite for Hunger and Hope”.
An article from Economist.com showed, at the end of the year 2006 the number of officially poor people in Indonesia was increased from the number officially produced in 2005. 4m more people become poorer in a year, not to mention those who were not counted in. It was 18% of the population of 220m. According to the article the numbers will be bigger if there were no cash handouts (BLT). The article also claimed that Indonesia will have more than 80m Indonesians in poor status if the government used the US$ 1 a day as a measurement. The goverment used the measurement below US$ 16.80 a month as the starting point of the poverty status.
That was before the global financial crises came. News uploaded in January 2009 from Rohmatin Bonasir, a journalist from BBC Indonesia, in a compilation of poverty stories, showed a better standing- 15% of the total population as the data of 2008. Yet, the financial aid was already 4 times the aid given in 2004. Bonasir reports are in Bahasa Indonesia but she also showed pictures. Some are in these series: poverty series, poverty 1, poverty 3
What I saw in practice is the huge different life style that we can feel when entering a mall like Grand Indonesia or Senayan City to the real life of most Indonesian people. In those malls we do not really sensing the financial crises. People go out and buy things with high prices, or queue up for discounted prices that were probably still a month salary for an Indonesian teacher in a public school, or even for a middle class private school’s teacher.
Life is difficult for most Indonesians. When poverty is spreading, then the most affected sectors are healthy food intake and education for children. It is sad as healthy food and education are also the way to change their “destiny”. Healthy food is the intake to help the brain and the body function well. Education is the way to improve their talents into creative actions. Children need both health and education to be able to improve their standard of living in their adulthood.
It is not strange that some poor urban kids are having only rice and noodles. Healthy food like eggs and meat are not in their mother’s list anymore. Salted fish and “tempe” (fermented soybean patty) perhaps are the most common healthy food for them. But, there were times when the price of “tempe” and “tahu” (tofu) are also augmented because of the rising soybean’s price.
The price of good education is also soaring up. Then, chances for these children to upgrade themselves become more limited. Usually in this case, girls are the first excluded from the pathway. Indonesian family, who are patriarchal, will prefer schooling for boys than for girls. While actually girls also need good education to be able to continue teaching the younger generation. It was the struggle of R.A. Kartini, Dewi Sartika, two of our women heroines, to provide education for girls. We also need an improvement of education system in Indonesia so that we can give chances youngsters to be ready to run into the workforces even if they do not have enough capability, either in financial or in their interest/capability to study in the university.
Hunger is not always only due to lack of food. There is also hunger for love. For middle class citizens who can still afford healthy food for their children, it is a struggle to provide time for their beloved kids. Sometimes both parents should work, not only from eight to five but also long after those working hours. The problem of traffic can also cause delayed time to spend with their family. The stress of overload of works can also popped out anger at home. Then the hunger of love is taking over the hunger of food. It could also drive children into drugs or other worse possibilities.
I don’t want to venture more into the dark side of the life road. Now I want to share hope. There is also hope. We can see in churches, mosques, or temples the health services provides for those who need cheaper or even free health services. Then there is also the action of being foster parents, giving donation for kids to continue their studies. These days more and more provinces are providing schools for free (at least 9 years free public education). I do hope that the universities will not close their doors to students who are not able to pay the large amount needed to enter their university.
Some people are opening “rumah baca”, a place to read for free, or giving free tutorial for kids either in enhancing their talents or in creating new ability to support their living. We are lucky that there are always existed people who care about others. Hopefully it won’t fade away by global financial crises. Even a small candle can share its light, so we can join together sharing our small lights together to make a brighter light of hope in the world. Whatever small deeds we can do in our nearest environment will add something to the world. Let’s join together and act something…
Saturday, 25 April 2009
Tom Plate , Los Angeles | Sat, 04/25/2009 1:33 PM | Opinion
It seems that quality journalism is becoming more conspicuous than ever by its absence. But the causes are complex.
Sometimes governments are the fault. In Sri Lanka, convulsing in civil war, independent journalists have not been permitted near the fierce zones of conflict between government forces and beleaguered clusters of minority Tamils.
Many are deported. Earlier this month, Jeremy Page, of The Times UK, was kicked out and put on a plane back to England. That was nothing. In January, editor and Sri Lankan government critic Lasantha Wickrematunga penned and published his own fatalistic obituary, writing: "When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me." Three days later, he was murdered, and arrests have been made yet.
Thus, no one has a clear idea of whether Tamil civilians are being held as human body-shields by what is left of the anti-government terrorists among them, or are huddled in fear of possible ethnic cleansing by the government.
No one knows much - except that the crisis is "nothing short of catastrophic," simply says the International Red Cross.
Similarly, journalists were mainly kept away from the recent fighting in Gaza. They were limited, by the Israeli government, to perching, gawking and squinting at the action miles away. It was impossible to confirm whether Gaza's civilians were in greater danger from Israeli guns or from Hamas' Machiavellian tactics that seemed to taunt for Israeli gunfire. Quality journalism could have cleared the issue up. That's what it is for.
Journalism, at its best (which is not always what it is, to be sure), tells the truth about power and tells the truth to power. The practice is decidedly unfashionable in places that cannot handle the truth -or care only about staying in power.
North Korea snatched two American journalists on its border with China, threw them into a Pyongyang hellhole and charged them with espionage in March. Euna Lee and Laura Ling, a former super student of mine at the University of California, Los Angeles, are professional American journalists. If they are working for the CIA, as the North Korean government is suggesting, then I am prepared to state that I am the real James Bond.
In Iran, Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi just got slapped with an eight-year spying sentence. As with the North Korean case, the proceeding was held behind closed doors. An unnamed Iranian judiciary official put it in these words: "Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Roxana Saberi to eight years for espionage.
She can appeal the sentence." Saberi has two masters' degrees, from Cambridge in England and Northwestern in Chicago. She is a former Miss North Dakota who she made it to the final ten in the 1998 Miss America contest. She reported for the BBC, National Public Radio in America, and Fox News. Not bad, eh?
It should tell us something obvious, in fact, that aggressive journalism is reviled in places like Sri Lanka, North Korea and Iran. What's surprising is that the power doesn't like independent journalism, even in Thailand - even before the latest political chaos.
To be sure, governments aren't the only reason quality journalism is increasingly absent; journalist institutions are themselves contributing to the crisis. They are cutting budgets, firing journalists, eliminating whole sections and in some cases are shutting down entirely.
This is surely the case in the United States, the titular head of journalistic freedom. Even our industry leader, the New York Times, is looking more and more like a Big Three auto company in need of a government bailout. That's not going to happen in the United States of America, of course. It's too bad: If anything should be declared too big and important to fail, it should be the country's leading daily newspaper.
The other day the New York Times was awarded five esteemed Pulitzer Prizes. This was good to see. It remains a tremendous newspaper. So is The Wall Street Journal, even under its new owner, Rupert Murdoch, who may not deserve the oh-so pious bashing he got (from critics like me) when he brought the paper. After all, at least Murdoch understands - and loves - newspapers.
Someone who clearly doesn't is Sam Zell, who engineered a buyout of The Los Angeles Times (and which this year won but one Pulitzer, below its usual) from the Tribune Company. Commented Zell, "I haven't figured how to cash in a Pulitzer." This is a big part of the problem: Newspaper proprietors who fail to understand that quality journalism is priceless. What is the ultimate cost to peoples and societies when the truth is hidden from them?
The writer is former university professor and author of Confessions of an American Media Man, was Editor of the Editorial Pages of The Los Angeles Times (1989-95).
According to the article above (taken from the Jakarta Post), there are at least two reasons of the absence of quality journalism: the government and the journalist institutions.
If it is the government who did not give access to journalists, then the citizen can fill in the function...That is how citizen journalism is important.
If it is the journalist institutions who cut down budget, eliminating sections, fired journalists...then we can really be mourning, as there will be no example of how to achieve quality journalism...
Citizen can fill in the gap between government to media, or between journalist to grassroots, but to have quality journalism - just like other professions - journalists need practice and experience.
Being a citizen reporter made me realize how much investment should be done by a journalist institution to build their community, to gather the most fresh but verified information. It is something that would probably difficult for a standing alone citizen reporter.
If the company is cutting budget, then perhaps it is also cutting the chance for its journalist to cover a story within a deep and objective perspective.
Eliminating sections means that some readers are not getting their right of knowledge, as unpopular section will be eliminated...sometimes those are the qualified but unpopular one. I can see through wikimu that it is not the quality of presentation that attract the majority of readers. The title and leading paragraph yes, but that's only one aspect. Sometimes articles that I wrote just to kill time, something that is actually "empty" for me, is more popular than the one I prepared with full attention and research.
Firing journalists, either for the different idealism or for financial reasons, will also degrading the quality of journalism. To be professional, it is important to stay focus in the subject or work we are facing. I can write, but I do need my time to be a mother of three active boys, and to share it with my social life too. I love writing, but I do need to think about the financial consequences that will follow my decision of time table...which one is more important, write as a volunteer citizen reporter or concentrating in a personal business to help the family financially? I know that those professional journalist also has the same amount of time to share with their family or their other social activities, but their prime concentration is in the journalism itself. I think it works for every professions. A doctor should be concentrating in healing his/her patients, and if it comes to citizen journalism then it should be his/her way of communicative approach to the other citizen, either as a doctor (professional) or as a mere citizen. Yet, a proffesional journalist should concentrate on communicative approach toward the readers, and hopefully that is how they also make their living...so they won't need to think of other sources.
Only by enhancing the communication between citizen and the journalism institution (as the representative of the professional journalists) then we can have a better quality of journalism...the one that serves the need of its readers.
Monday, 20 April 2009
The discussion was already taken place last Saturday, a week prior to the exhibition. Instead of featuring artists or art critics, he invited a marketing expert and an urbanist as the speaker who share views on his work.
I wrote about the discussion for wikimu in "Penjelajahan Seni Teguh Ostenrik: deFACEment (1)"
Sunday, 19 April 2009
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Today I feel the need to join with friends from all over the world who would like to thank our blog readers.
Readers for me are those who are encouraging me to keep writing. As a diary, this blog is actually to keep tracking my mind while doing citizen reporting. So, actually I do not really write this for public. Those who shares the same interest can come by and drop his/her comments...all are welcome, but I'll keep writing even if nobody is visiting. Yet, I've got to admit that having readers is boosting my energy to write. And readers who gave their comments are enriching my thoughts. Readers' comments were also encouraging me to write more into me. As a citizen reporter I am not really keen to write about my self or my family, but as a blogger I sometimes did. Then, incoming comments made me want to write more personal articles. Readers are those who make me wondering, "Should I keep reporting or should I start writing my own personal stories?"
I'm thankful to those who read my articles, either in OhmyNews International (OMNI) or in wikimu.com, who specially come to visit my blog and share comments. Positive comments (including positive criticism) are valuable things that would provoke my mind to think and explore more. It can also help my mind to keep focusing in one topic. My wandering mind is my talent but also my weakness. It is a real talent as I can jump into any topic with ease, that is also helping me in my social life. Yet, it is also my weakness as I am easily distracted from one topic into another one. Details are also something that I usually missed. In this interactive activity I found that readers are enriching, they also gave me in-depth views, they also gave appreciation of my work. That is something that I won't usually find when writing for printed newspaper.
When my article was published in a printed newspaper, usually those who know me will mentioned it, usually in a praising tone. That's all. But, here in my blog I can have direct interactive communication with my readers. I can have criticism, I can have compliment, it depends on the readers' appraisal. Those readers who already know me would probably find another new side of me here, and their comments can also help me seeing the other side of them that I probably did not know before. But, the most fascinating thing is to gain new friends who share the same interest as me...
One of my cyber friend did not want to continue her blog, saying that blogging is wasting her time. Actually as a reader I missed her blog. In her blog she shares her journalism knowledge, and also a little bit of herself. Yet, I'm not a regular reader or visitor to a certain blog. Perhaps wikimu.com is my bigger nest that I regularly visit (sometimes not daily). I'd like to visit other blogs as well but time is my limitation, that is why I like citizen journalism websites like wikimu and OMNI. They are the crossroad of bloggers, places to meet and to hear something in others' pint of views. There are a lot of citizen journalism websites, but until today I can only manage to write for these two websites. I've got to admit that writing for blog and citizen journalism websites is not really encouraging me to write for the printed newspaper. Why? It is simply because of you...readers! These interactive communication with readers is something that lured me more into blogging.
I've got to thank you for sharing your precious time to come by blogwalking here and share your thoughts. I'm also thankful for all the knowledge that you share with me, and would mostly thankful for knowledge that you've shared through your own blog. Your appreciation words are something that help fires my courage to write, to steal time from my real life into this cyber world. Yet, as I admired an Indonesian poet named Chairil Anwar, I knew that my blogs are also my way to live a thousand year...thanks to you!
Please keep reading, keep commenting...
You are welcome to come anytime you've got time...
You can come when you're happy...
You can come when you're feeling blue...
Thank you for trusting me as your cyber friend...
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
Sunday, 12 April 2009
It is amazing to know that he has researching into the Indonesian election. I've warned him that I'm not a political observer, neither do I have real interest in reporting political news. Yet, his questions made me revealed some opinion as a mere citizen.
This is the interview:
|[Interview] Election Means Many Things in Indonesian Politics|
|Citizen reporter Maria Margaretta V.N. Hakim shares view on country's recent legislative elections|
Indonesia has just concluded its parliamentary elections, and although the final results would not be known before two weeks, early returns from the poll however indicate that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is well placed for re-election. With the credit crunch looming, most candidates could not resist the temptation of re-branding themselves as Obama-the man now believed to solve the current global economic meltdown. How has this played down with the electorate? What are the expectations of Indonesian voters?
I posed some of these questions to Maria Margaretta Vivijanti N. Hakim, a fellow citizen reporter in Jakarta, via email. In her answers, she told me that the people obviously want change in reforms as well as big results. Despite the skepticisms of the past, she argued, Indonesian politics is finally on a sure path, as the country take cognizance of world attention.
This is the third election after the era of reformation, but this is also the first time we can vote our own legislative by name. Personally I like this new system, because we can choose names that we do know and we can ask their commitment for their promises. If we do not know any of those legislative names then we can also relying on the party that we trust will represent our voices to the government. I think it is important that people choose their own legislative. Sometimes votegetters did not receive their seats as they were not in the elitist circle of a party, while actually people trusted the party because of those votegetters' hardwork and commitment to people.
Yet, this new system is also confusing for the grassroots as we do not always know those legislative track records. Some said in Indonesian expression "Membeli kucing dalam karung" (it is like buying a cat in a bag), we don't really know who we are voting for. But, I believe that once this system is working, then people will learn how to watch and choose their future legislatives. And legislatives chosen will be careful as people can give their votes to any name in the party. They are representing peoples through the political party. If a party is not loyal to the interest of the grassroots, they should be the internal voices to remind their party about our voices that was given to them. My only concern is the possibility of money politics, as this five minutes vote will affect us for at least five years consequences. But, the first step is always the harder one.
|Maria Margaretta Vivijanti N. Hakim|
|©2009 Maria Margaretta Vivijanti N. Hakim|
Indonesian democracy is just 10 years old. With 38 political parties taking part, without any clear agenda, would you say that the democratic process in Indonesia is still struggling to discover itself, or people are not just so inspired with politics?
I wouldn't say that Indonesian democracy is just 10 years old. Indonesia was born together with our UUD'45 (the 1945 Constitution of Indonesia, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Indonesia). Constitutionally the power of people is recognized, and we are giving our voices through the electoral process to our representatives. We went up and down in democracy through the years. We can say that we are facing a struggle into a (hopefully) more mature democracy. We went through the previous nine elections, each with its own problems. From the first election (1955) women were already exercising their right to vote. Yet, we might be in the process of a new democracy, where freedom of speech is really granted. Where communication is really interactive and universal, acknowledging that the world is really watching us.
Most candidates have produced posters identifying themselves with celebrities and eye catchy names such as Obama, Beckham, James Bond, etc. What is your take on this? Does this make them questionable or connected to the public?
Hey, it's interesting to know that you are aware of that. I don't know about Beckham and James Bond. But I do know that President Obama made a lot of impact here. I will send you a picture of a legislative using Obama as his catchy name. For me, it would make those who used names like that questionable. Are they seriously working for us, or they are just trying to make us laughing? Through the years of Soeharto we were facing the electoral period as a democracy party. It was a party, we went out in mass to show our support to a certain political party, a time that we can exercise our freedom to vote (perhaps those in working as government officers and PNS and or their family were not really experiencing this, so this is really personal opinion). But, we are developing... at least the new generation needed more than that. We don't need false promises, we do need action, we need to hear mission, planning, and then action. Perhaps that's the reason behind the increased white party voters.
As a citizen journalist, what has been your personal observation of the process? Has the mainstream media been balanced in coverage? What has been the role of citizen journalism in this year's poll?
Personally my interest is more to art, culture, and education. I'm not really keen on politic, but a lot of art, culture, or education issues will have a direct correlation with the new legislatives. So, I'm not really observing the whole process, but I'm not being indifference too. We have a lot of media, printed media and online media, so we can choose a lot of sources of information. Citizen journalism is an important bridge from citizen to the conventional media. Our voices are the support for the mainstream media to develop their own articles. It is a win-win solution. We are free to say what we have in mind, and the mainstream media can help explain things or situation that is not yet in our perspectives. Wikimu (the local citizen journalism website that I joined), together with vivanews.com made a special writing competition about the election. Vivanews has a u-report section, a citizen journalism part of that online media. That section will show article from Wikimu's contributors. Wikimu readers can also read those articles uploaded by Vivanews' citizen contributors. Articles went through an editorial decision in cooperation between both websites.
New citizen journalism websites were also emerging like Politikana, or pilahpilih. Mainstream media who have citizen journalism section in their online website are also giving more rooms to show opinions on this political event, the example is Kompasiana from Kompas group. The most amazing up-dated news perhaps came from the social networking like Face Book. We can read all those angry "administrative driven golput" grumbling in Face Book, or who went out after the election to have a free cup of Starbucks coffee (and having a small reunion with friends there) only by showing the tinted finger (sign that we have voted), or more serious questions and opinions coming from citizen to candidates.
President Obama has proven the strength of the new media, and it seems that Indonesian legislatives are also turning their head to the new media. Yet, we are still learning to face the new media in its own stand, changing our way from viewing it only as a conservative media going online. And there is still the need to accommodate the opinion from people who are not connected to the internet.
What are the expectations of the electorate? What in your opinion would be the mistakes at the poll?
I think every time citizen give their votes, what it actually means is that they want a better life. Facing the global financial crises is the most difficult task that the new elected legislatives (and the new government after the presidential election) to handle. Security in term of financial and human right exercises is most important facts that we need. That, I think, is also a universal need.
For the last question, I'm going to use the answer from a scholar who is also a politic observer, Anis Baswedan. He said that the most important thing is that those who lost in this election should accept that and help those in the position to develop the country. I agree with him. So, in my opinion, the mistakes would be: if we are angry with the situation and do not follow the judicial procedures. We are in the process of learning this new democracy; hopefully we won't ruin the success that we had in the 2004 election by exercising violent protests. This is a step of learning for the presidential election in July, and for the next election...five years from now.
Your last remarks?
This year, the General Elections Committee has made a lot of unprofessional mistakes, but I do hope that it won't ruin the process of learning this new democracy. I hope we are going to learn from our past and present mistakes as a foundation to a better tomorrow.
Actually I gave him another additional remark, that this Friday is the first time I received printed media on Good Friday. One of his questions mentioning "Easter Parliamentary election", it made me reflected on another letter from the mailing list that I've read. The Church has refused to make a ceremonial Easter celebration with governmental department this year. The decision came as the joint Christians Religious leaders thought they do not want to have this event be politicised.
The reflection made me produced another article for wikimu. "Kejutan di Hari Jumat Agung" or "A Surprised on the Good Friday". As a part of the Church we are asked to follow the religious rituals. For me, as a Catholic, this holiday is not a long weekend. Since Thursday evening, those who had responsibility in the Church's activity should be really busy. I've also read in Face Book people coming back from counting the ballot at night, some even has to stay after midnight.
My father used to be active as ketua RT (chief of the smallest organization of the citizen community), and we (his children) were used to stay watching throughout the counting of votes. I knew how busy it was. I also knew how important it was, to observe the genuinity of people's voice that would be reported.
Then I remember my neighbors who were seen at the ballot helping out the election, some of them are also friends from Lingkungan (the smallest organization from the Church). I was not thinking of the consequences that they have to face, even after reading the letter in the mailing list. That night we should be attending the Last Supper celebration in the church. Hopefully they were finished early, but as I've read in Face Book, in some area people need a longer day to count the voices given...So, there is always the possibility of people who should be choosing between his duty to the country and his duty to the Church.
I had to postpone answering Amin George's questions because I need to go to the Holy Thursday mass which lasted very late at night. Then, after revisiting "via dolorosa" through the stations of the Cross (Friday Morning) I started answering the interview. I broke my promise not to work on the internet that Friday. Actually the choice is with me, I can tell Amin that I'm not interested in answering his questions or I don't have time to answer it. Yet, it made me think of those who need to perform his/her professional task (for the media reportage, for counting the ballot, or for the analyze of the quick count, etc.) That was the reason why I wrote my own piece after answering his interview. I was thanking the printed newspapers for giving me a very nice surprised by their presence on a "red date" (holiday) but also revealing my own reflection of the bible on the tribute to Caesar "Pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar-and God what belongs to God."
I am lucky as I did not take a lot of responsibility out side my house, the only task that I was committed to is the children's Easter Mass this Sunday morning...yet, this year there are those who had to choose between focusing his/her heart to the preparation of the Paschal Triduum and his/her responsibility to our country. Thank you Amin, you've brought me to that revelation...
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
Monday, 6 April 2009
Actually I had planning to go with them, but my son's schedule was changing so I could not go. Other than that, Friday is usually a hectic day for me. I don't know why, but Friday is always seems shorter than other days. I was not going there as we've got representative, but my heart went with them. Hearing the rejection shocked me a little bit. Then I saw in the printed daily Kompas the mountain of goods donated for Situ Gintung, and underneath I can read the comment that they have to throw away instant food and used clothes as they've received too many. Hey...we were trying hard to collect those things, and there are a lot of people out there who might still need it. There are those who are also flooded in West Sumatra, or others who really need help.
I think that those working in the Social Department should be responsible to coordinate all the donation to go through the right direction. They should be ready with a system on how to coordinate help, physically (together with BASARNAS), and financially (including those food and clothes donation). Used clothes donated are usually had been selected to a usable clothes, sometimes there are also new clothes. The internet with its social networking such as blog and citizen journalism website could be the best place to put updated information on what they do need in the location, how to help, who should we contact. Because we are facing the election day, so it seems that everybody are showing up with their donation, showing that they care...so donation came in mountain, let's see two months from now.
Today (this is not included in the article that was published earlier. This post is a little bit late as I've got no time to write) I've heard that from all those people who were moved out from campusses, not all of them get a place in the new shelter, some are given tents for sleeping. I've tried my best to help, and the only important help that I can offer them now is praying. I would like to be there helping too, but I knew that we do need to make priorities. If the Almighty needs me there, then He'll show His way...for the time being: " Dear God, please blessed all those mourning people and also those rescuers who were doing wonderful services to people and to You, God. Please help us walking out of the temptation that could make us against Your love and the spirit of peace.