Sunday, 24 May 2009

The Victim of the System?

I know that being in the governmental circle is difficult to keep being clean and idealistic. And so does being a president. It should be taken as a sacrifice to the country to learn how to keep one's self doing their responsibility to the country and to the fellow countrymen without changing it would be a very hard task!

Today I was greeted by the morning printed Kompas with its headline about the death of the former South Korean President, Roh Mo-hyun. It is something shocking as he was committed suicidal jump. Going to the online edition of Kompas I can read that Indonesian people is respecting him as this action show that he was really ashamed of the corruption he was accused of, and hoping that Indonesian officials can learn their lesson from him.

I don't know much about the late Roh Mo-hyun, but it is essential that whoever came into the political power, even as a legislative, remember that they should serve the people and be careful that they won't be the victim of the system. Money, power, and respect are the aspects that trigger people into temptation. Yet, they sometimes forget that gaining respect through money and power wouldn't last long...The saddest thing is when we can't make peace within our own heart...

Additional note (May 25, 2009): I've read this piece from OMNI, reciting the similar story from France, the suicide of the ex PM Beregovoy. I've noted this word from the citizen reporter "Suspecting him of corrupt behaviour was denying the man's core value, which proved fatal. Later investigations would find Beregovoy clean of any wrongdoings."

He then continues:
At his funeral, Francois Mitterrand, the president of France, gave one of his most powerful and personal speeches as tribute to his lost friend and lifetime political companion, and as warning to the dangerous path France was taking:

"No reason in this world can justify that the honor of a man and ultimately his life were thrown to dogs. His accusers have failed two fundamental laws of our Republic: to protect the dignity and liberty of each and every one of us."

By "dogs," Mitterrand meant the media. I remember watching him saying those harsh words with a voice shaking with emotion. Was Mitterrand overreacting? As a young student interested in the political life of my country, I also read critics of the President, arguing for the media's duty to uncover untold stories. I wasn't sure who was right.

I think as long as the media keep itself being objective, then the investigative story won't be leading into a false accusation. Citizen should also learn to judge news critically. Citizen journalism in this part is a way to share opinion, to give another way of seeing things, and to help the media to see another perspective from the citizen.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Learning More about Citizen Journalism

Hectic schedule made me a bit frustrated on providing time to write. I've still contributed some pictures but yet some other plans are kept in my mind...

I'm happy that a journalist based media worker had given me some questions on two articles I wrote for wikimu. She is doing her research for her master degree in journalism and was interested in analyzing those two articles. I'm happy because that way I can see which type of writing that took the interest of readers. Actually it would be nice to be able to know which type of article is interesting for common readers, and which one is interesting for those journalists. She promised me to send the soft copy of her thesis. At least I can see how interactive the article for her, and how did she grab my answers for her questions.

I've been watching how the media reacted to citizen journalism. I've also experienced how some media tried to use citizen journalism but only for their own sake. I'm not going to say which media are they. From the positive token, I think the Jakarta Post is an example from the media who used citizen journalism as a good interactive communication with its readers. An example of their balance reporting on opinion can also be seen in the articles about the annual memory of May Riot. After publishing an opinion writing that the writers have not forgotten it, which I paste in my previous posting, it was also published another opinion in a routine column of its Sunday edition.
Our national celebration of amnesia

Sun, 05/17/2009 1:36 PM | On the Town

As a scrawny high school kid in my red-checkered uniform with my black solidarity arm-band, I witnessed history in 1998. The euphoria of people-power was thick in the air of Jakarta.

We demanded reform, and we demanded the smiling tyrant be toppled from his 32-year reign. May 12 was a day of chaos. The streets of Jakarta were a battle ground. People screamed and threw rocks, while others looted everything from television sets to mattresses' and shampoo.

As the protest and mayhem escalated, the demand for Soeharto to step down reign was finally met. He announced his resignation with a big grin. The look was insulting: it was as though he believed he had done nothing wrong.

The old man proclaimed "ora pate'an", a Javanese phrase which means "nothing to lose" (whether he was president or not). Millions cheered in victory, but the damage was already done.

Contrary to Soeharto's claims, much was lost. Lives were lost. Buildings and businesses were destroyed. And my sisters were never the same after being violently raped.

Following the turmoil, blame games and cover-ups were thrown about on our television screens. The words "provocateurs" and "anarchy" suddenly became popular. Claims the mass action was provoked by a treacherous group connected to military generals was the word on the street.

Change, you ask? Reform became just another word in our history books. Certain parties reaped benefits from the revolution, while the majority of Indonesians gained nothing.

2009; eleven years later, some of the student activists who demanded reform have now joined the comfortable ranks of government, working for the very things they fought against in 1998.

The murders of university students during the protests remain unsolved to this day. Eleven years is a long time to wait for justice. However, it is not long enough for us, the generation that experienced it, to forget.

We were there. Why have we forgotten? Why have we ignored it, as if it never happened? Was it all in vain?

Last August, in celebration of Independence Day, a television station aired a 30 second bumper about national heroes. Along with Tjoet Njak Dien, Diponegoro, and those who fought against the colonialists for independence, was one man who made my heart stop: General Soeharto. Eleven years ago, he was a villain, a mass murderer, a man responsible for chaos. Now he is officially a TV hero. Men who a few years ago were implicated in the death and disappearances of students are now candidates in the presidential race, and they have a significant number of supporters.

Have we forgotten, or have we been conditioned to forget?

I have contacted several people involved in the 1998 riots and asked them to recall the events.

My then boyfriend was a high school student back in 1998. He wasn't an activist, nor was he directly involved in the action. But the atmosphere of the moment encouraged him to get involved in the euphoria.

"My school mates and I went to the University of Indonesia to join in the action, but we weren't taken seriously by the students. On our way back, we passed through an area where we saw a mass of people, got off the bus and joined in," he recalled.

Now he is a business executive. He hardly ever thinks about 1998 and is cynical of terms like "change" and "revolution".

"I think people who experienced 1998 have a reason to be apathetic. We saw that nothing really changed after the reform. Now we just do what we think is best for ourselves. The government will always remain the way it is," he said.

Lisa was also affected by the events of eleven years ago. She had her home looted by bunch of strange men. They broke in and accused her of hiding people in her house that was located near a big university.

"They kept asking *Where are you hiding them?' but I had no idea what they were talking about. We had an young son and we didn't want to fight back."

Now the Indonesian Idol fanatic claims to be disgusted by anything political. "Whenever there is political news or anything confronting on TV, I just change the channel. I don't give a shit. I just want to be a good wife and mother. As long as my family's happy, I'm happy." she said.

The "magic box" and its mind-numbing programs have proven to be an effective yet subtle lobotomizing tool. But can we blame apathy on the media alone? Every year, newspapers print stories related to the events of May 1998. Televisions air bumpers with dramatic musical scores portraying the events. As long as things remain the same, why should we expect people to care? Here in Jakarta, aside from a few political activists demanding justice for murder and rape victims, it is business as usual. Just yesterday, I served a coffee and a croissant to my regular customer, Rika, a senior student at Trisakti - the university where four students were shot dead on May 12, 1998. I asked her if her and her friends were commemorating the tragedy. "Maybe..I don't know. That's way before my time," she said hesitantly.

Oh well, can you really blame them for their apathy? For those of us who still care, families of the victims demanding justice for their losses - people who are still struggling for change you have my respect and support.

Keep loving and keep fighting.

- Kartika Jahja

That is what I do like from a media, the objectivity of seeing one topic. Both articles are against public amnesia, but the way it was presented were different. The second article was also including how the public amnesia could be developed.

Actually these other way of presenting stories made me thinking back into the case of our military action in East Timor and the truth that was seeking by the family of the Australian journalists. I've made a note as a citizen journalist before, and I think we can learn a lot of things if media keep their objectivity open to the public, and also hearing and digging into public opinions as well. And public opinion is actually the content of citizen journalism outlets.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The National Awakening Day

Today, a year after the centennial celebration of the National Awakening Day, we are facing another airplane accident. A military plane crash and killed 98 persons in Madiun (see the Jakarta Post today). The Jakarta Post published the comment of Indonesian Military chief, Gen. Djoko Santoso. He denied the accusation of commercialization of the flight service. While the general pointed out the unpredictable weather, it seems that rumours are gossiping about the lack of spare parts availability. Aren't we the nation who can build our own airplane? Why couldn't we produce our own spare parts?

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Forgive and Forget

This one is taken from yesterday's printed JP:

Eleven years after the May riot: We have not forgotten

Maesy Angelina and Ricky Gunawan , JAKARTA | Tue, 05/12/2009 10:08 AM | Opinion

On this day (May 12) eleven years ago, Indonesia witnessed the killing of four Trisakti University students in an incident known ever since as the Trisakti Tragedy. This horrific tragedy was soon followed by an appalling riot.

A national and international audience watched the national tragedy on television, but the terror was much closer to Indonesian hearts. The killing triggered nationwide protests, which eventually forced Soeharto to step down from his 32-year dictatorial rule.

As Indonesians of Chinese descent that lived in a Chinese neighbourhood, we witnessed our parents and neighbours attempt to defend us by raising barricades around the complex as we felt the panic rising as the riots moved closer to our area. The fear was not just that our houses would be raided and scorched, but that Chinese women and girls would be brutally raped and that the men would be violently attacked.

The phone rang constantly – either from relatives asking whether we are safe or from neighbours warning that the rioters were nearing. We were lucky though, as the closest riot took place a few hundred meters away from where we lived. However, not all Indonesian Chinese citizens were that lucky.

Many people disappeared. Hundreds of houses and commercial buildings were burnt down and thousands of people lost their livelihoods. Worse, it has been estimated that thousands of people were killed during the three-day riot.

Hundreds of women were victims of extreme sexual violence. Those who were not directly affected suffered vicarious trauma and many fled Indonesia.

It took a while for the government to respond. It commissioned a fact finding team, which released its report in October 1998. The report acknowledged that the above atrocity took place, that a majority of victims were Chinese Indonesians and that the number of victims was not verifiable.

Both of us were teenagers back then, yet the tragedy has remained with us and to a certain degree influenced the paths we chose in our lives. Now that we are young adults who understand what human rights are, we want to ensure justice is served. We want the state provide reparations for the victims and see the perpetrators dealt with. Unfortunately, this has not happened yet.

Only two of the eight recommendations presented by the fact finding team have been addressed by the state. The ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Convention against Torture, as well as the passing of victims and witness protection law and the subsequent establishment of the agency are indeed progressive steps.

The support for the formation of the National Commission on Violence against Women is also appreciated. Even so, these things did not directly address the tragedy itself.

Direct recommendations, including a commission for the further investigation of the incident and the establishment of a database for victims have not been properly followed-up. Moreover, the two most crucial recommendations of prosecuting alleged perpetrators and providing remedy for victims have been blatantly ignored.

Some of the alleged perpetrators have been named in the report yet none of them have been effectively brought to the court. This clearly signifies the absence of the state’s good will to resolve human rights violations. If the state fails to comply with its obligations, it is crucial for society to take action.

While civil society has tirelessly urged the state to fulfil its obligations, it is essential public amnesia of the tragedy is actively prevented. Campaigns against amnesia on the issue are of the utmost importance. The fact that alleged perpetrators even gained significant support
in this year’s legislative election show that the public is either uninformed or does not care enough to ensure that those responsible are held accountable.

Initiatives such as the annual candlelight vigils or the weekly Silent Thursday (Kamisan), which are relentlessly attended by the families of the victims, are good examples of what have been done. But more importantly, advocacy for the inclusion of the May 1998 tragedy into the national educational curriculum is urgently needed to raise the awareness among younger generations.

We hope that voters do not to vote for alleged perpetrators who are running in the forthcoming presidential election. Casting your vote for such candidates would send a message to the state that the public does not consider the trial of alleged human rights violators important. Aside from condoning impunity, this also poses the threat of having human rights violation reoccurring in the future.

We consider this piece not mere opinion, but a principal message worthy of being spread by any means possible to as many people as possible. Those who survived, witnessed and remember the tragedy bear the responsibility to say never again – or nunca mas, as the Argentinians say.

We shall not forget, we shall not forgive — until justice is achieved.

Maesy Angelina is a feminist, youth activist and development worker.
Ricky Gunawan is a human rights activist and has an interest in the issues of civil and political rights.

Perhaps the only fact that I can add is that I am a nationalist, and hopefully will always be...yet that tragedy made me thinking so hard about where I stand, who am I, and it did shake me...

It would be easier to forgive those intellectual actors behind that tragedy than forgetting their sins, but the wound won't be healed in a short period of forgetting this won't be an easy task...even after forgiving (whom to forgive????)

Actually I am speechless...
After the opening of the new Ayodya Park (ex Pasar Bunga Barito), I've no chance to visit it yet. I've seen the picture in wikimu, and today I've read this in the Jakarta Post:

City should involve stakeholders in managing Ayodya Park: Councilor

Triwik Kurniasari
, The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Wed, 05/13/2009 5:59 PM | Jakarta

A councilor of the City Administration suggested the city involve private stakeholders in the upkeep of Ayodya Park in South Jakarta, which was costing the adminstration around Rp 60 million per month in maintenance.

"The administration should go hand-in-hand with stakeholders to maintain the park. It will be hard for the administration to manage it by itself due to high maintenance costs," said Sayogo Hendrosubroto, head of Commission D overseeing city development, on Wednesday.

"Most of the upkeep expenses went toward water and electricity," he said, after visiting the park on Tuesday.

The 7,500-square-meter Ayodya Park was officially reopened to public on March 15.

The restoration project was part of the city's program to restore green areas in the capital, which have been decreasing over last few decades due to a massive increase in land development.

So, after relocating those longterm private stakeholders (the flower vendors, and the fish vendors), now the government are going to invite another private stakeholders...we'll see what are they going to do...

After rejecting the community development proposed by those vendors, now they are complaining for the high expense...Didn't they have planning? Did they have a financial projection before sending those old private stakeholders out of that park?

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

I Missed the World Press Freedom Day

I missed the chance to write for the Bloggers Unite on the World Press Freedom Day. Last week I've had a bad experience with my household helper. She broke into my locked drawer. I fired her just when I was mostly in the need for an assistant's aid.

I managed to write the second article of deFACEment, an article about how I viewed the exhibition. I did not have time to work on the third...something that would need interview with Teguh Ostenrik as the artist.

I had to miss the excellent chance to share a report on an international seminar "Permacity". I'd really love to go and listen to the speakers, yet I had no luck this time...(Strange, why my luck seemed to diminish every time it is something on architecture and the city?!)

I had a chat with a friend about education on the day of our National Education Day. Making it simple, a kind of a diary style writing, I wrote an article for to share some thought on education in Indonesia.

Then, struggling through time schedule I managed to come to the discussion forum hosted by the Minister of Research and Technology in Serpong. A neighbour for me, but an unknown neighbour... Actually I was more curious about the safety of the small (?) nuclear research of BATAN than the existance of Puspiptek itself. Yet, I found out that Puspiptek has a small forest of Indonesian plants, including those plants that became our incoming devisa. The fresh air, the green of the trees, and the birds' songs were all welcoming me. It seems like a nice oasis hidden in the middle of the hectic and jammed street between BSD to Bogor. I wrote an article titled "Dari Nyanyian Menristek Hingga ke Simfoni Inovasi" sharing my short time in that event.

Living in the real world make it difficult for me to keep my promise for the Bloggers Unite on the World Press Freedom Day. Actually I would like to prepare an article to share the day with other bloggers. I've even prepare the introduction in my previous entry about quality journalism. I was also lcuky to meet Mr. (pak) Wardiman Djojonegoro, an ex Minister of Education when I was waiting to have my eyes checked in Aini Hospital. I knew him, greeted him, and we talked about citizen journalism. Actually I would like to mixed the content of my conversation with him, and the previous conversation with Mr. (pak) Jakob Oetama, the Chief Executive of Kompas Gramedia group (also one of Kompas founders) when I've got the chance to aked his opinion about citizen journalism in the Indonesia Japan Expo 2008.

Those two men were a bit skeptic about citizen journalism. Pak Wardiman stressed out that the citizen voice would be better to go through the NGO. Both men were questioning the filter for news coming from the citizen. Sometimes I was also afraid of this aspect, but I think by making it open then we are learning to share ideas and to show how news are grabbed by citizen's mind. The commentators are the filters. That is why we do need the comments from real experts, or directly from the concerned party. It is nice to see that our Navy responded very quick when a citizen uploaded her question on a picture she saw in the Tanjung Nusanive-973, one of our Navy's ships. An article from the captain of the Nusanive ship expressing their gratitude for being appreciated by the community of wikimu is also the first article uploaded after the trip to the ship on Sunday. I think it showed that our Navy is also modernized (even if their ships are old...) and open to the citizens.

Yes, that Sunday I missed two important is the family gathering of our Church small community "Lingkungan St. Ignatius", then the World Press Freedom Day. But for the press freedom, I think we do not really need only a particular day to talk about it. We can do it every day, every time we need to warn others about the important support we can give for the freedom of the press. This one special day, May 3rd, is only to highlight how we all share our attentions to the freedom of press.

Note: my token from the trip to the KRI Tanjung Nusanive 973 and KRI Teluk Langsa was written in admiration to the Navy for their hospitality to us as a community of citizen reporters (or may be bloggers and family?) in "Kapal Perang, Hari Kebebasan Pers, dan Generasi Muda" (War ships, World Freedom Day, and the young generation). We can't really predict what would the citizen write. So giving us the chance to visit and uploading our comments in our articles meaning that they also give us freedom in the world freedom day. Hopefully in the war zone, they will also respected the professional journalists who tried to cover the news. Yet, deep down my heart, I'd be more appreciate the world without any war.

Additional note: Another article came out from the visit "Para Seniman di KRI Tanjung Nusanive 973" sharing about the artistic activity during the visit.

Our visit and articles became more meaningful after the accident of C-130 Hercules. The Hercules' crash made the journal paid attention to the weapon system's main instrument (alutsista). As citizens we've witness the Navy's weapon system's main instrument, we've voiced out our concern about it. We acknowledge how important for us a country of more than 17,000 islands to have a proper and renewed alutsista/weapon system's main instrument. We only hope that on planning and executing the plan to renew "alutsista", those who are involved in it would not use it as a way to increase their personal income.