Thursday, 31 December 2009

Farewell to Gus Dur, a Father of the Nation

Yesterday (December 30, 2009) Indonesians lost another charismatic figure, KH. Abdurrahman Wahid, also famously known as Gus Dur. He was our fourth President before being impeached and ended his period of presidency (read full story in English Wikipedia or in Indonesian Wikipedia)

Gus Dur was a very smart man who was probably an example of a man whose thinking cap is using a black box approaches. He was using basically his intuitive mind to settle his goals. It was the reason of his being a controversial leader. People did not really know his reasons.

1999 I voted for Megawati, but our voices for Ibu Mega could not bring her to the chair of appointed president. It was not a direct vote, so we are still depending on the parties' coalition in MPR (People's representatives). Those representatives had chosen Gus Dur as our fourth president. I've got foreign friends who questioned his capability as a president. I thought Indonesians were probably did not ready to have a woman president. I tried to explained to my friends why Gus Dur would also be a good president. One of my friends asked (due to his eye sight problem): "But, how could he do his presidential duty? Even an ambassador has a pile of reading tasks!" I just answered that he could do it with all the staffs around him. I also added that I'd been in a seminar where he was one of the speakers. I saw him fast asleep in a period of conversation. Yet, to my astonishment his comment on that specific conversation was not showing any remark that he was asleep. While watching TV One covering the preparation of his funeral, I heard someone remembering the same aspect of Gus Dur. He never really slept, yet he stole his sleep without loosing his alertness.

With more outlets of Indonesian citizen journalism today, I can gather more opinions. The one from an expert like Faisal Basri (uploaded in English in Kompasiana) or from a mere citizen (this one is in Bahasa Indonesia can be found in

Ex minister, Kusmayanto Kadiman, raised his voice as a citizen in Kompasiana in his writing "Bon Voyage Gus, We Love You Full!" (using the Indonesians most lovable phrase from the late mbah Surip). I agree that rumours should not become a big issue. The fact that he was buried as a Moslem, with a funeral attended by Moslems and non Moslems (both with sincere feeling of loosing him) shows that he is accepted as a great leader that goes beyond religious issues. Yes..., despite his being inconsistent and unpredictable he was doing a lot of pioneering steps towards pluralism and democracy (while at the same moment he might be seen as undemocratic for his black box way of approaches and for being stubborn). One example of mixed feelings towards his unreadable action (at the moment) can be read (in bahasa Indonesia) through this writing "Gus Dur dan Aceh".

Another important comment that I gathered through the television today is the importance of rehabilitating Gus Dur's name (for the reason of impeachment) which is more urgent than giving him a status as a national hero. I'm not sure how to do it without a judicial action, but seeing the content of both English and Indonesian wikipedia I think it is important to think it over before gathering 5.000.000 facebookers to support him as a national hero. Without rehabilitating his name, it would be normal if another question like this is popped out.

Thank you Gus Dur, you've been doing a lot during your short presidential period, and you've been planting more seeds of pluralism and humanity during your life time. You were not only serving us, Indonesian peoples, now you've also finished your good job serving the Creator.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Sharing Obama's Dream

I've always love to read memoirs and biographies, but Obama's memoir is not just an ordinary memoir. It was written before he won the presidential election (read this blog too). The greatest token from Pesta Blogger 2009 is a translated book of "Dreams from my Father" from the booth of the USA's Embassy. Pesta Blogger 2009 was giving me some treasures as I've got variety of books (from the USA Embassy) and a book "Makassar dari jendela pete-pete" about my hometown Makassar (given by Panyingkul's founder, Lily Yulianty Farid). I've also got more friends and more knowledge...

I am reading Obama's book during this Christmas holidays, and was enchanted by how he could put his heart's battle into a memoir. Now, I also know more about his brother which was mentioned in an article that I've pasted here as a post showing how rich is Obama's background (at that time without really knowing their real relationship and background). Reading memoirs that was written before he was elected as a president gave me an impression of honesty.

It is also showing me another aspect of the USA that I would probably not able to see through the Hollywood movies. It is enhancing my previous note on racism. So, it is a universal problem, and nobody could claim that their part is more miserable than others. That little Obama grew up with more identity problem than me. Googling through the internet made me encounter this other post (in Bahasa Indonesia) commenting about the same article from Jakarta Post's weekenders.

His biography also give me a chance to see the struggle of identity that came in generations before him. Barrack Obama (Barry)was very lucky as he gained good supports from his close relatives. I think his Indonesian father should also be credited in that process. That's how he can share the essence of his biological father's dream (also his grandfather's dream). He was blessed with the distance that his other siblings didn't really get. That's how Mark (his younger half brother) can only remembered a different version of nightmare (read more here).

Obama's struggle is reminding me of the Papuan struggle to obtain their identities. Seeing the film "Denias" is really different from "Laskar Pelangi". Both Denias and Lintang has the same problem, an access to the education. Yet, the problem faced by Denias is more than financial matter. . Denias needed to face his own Papuan brothers. That is the kind of discrimination that I can also feel in Obama's memoir.

Last week I brought some foreign friends to see the old film "Indonesia Indah 1" in the IMAX theatre, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah. I was embarrassed that some Indonesian; while seeing the Papuans dancing their dance (using only their kotekas) shouted out loud "pornography" in front of their children. It is actually an insult of others' traditional clothes. For the Papuan, the history of koteka is also the history of Adam and Eve (Emogiki Pane and Emobeku Pane), koteka and moge are their "clothes" after realizing their nudity in front of God. It is also a tribal symbol and one's pride. A dialog through citizen journalism website made me aware of this reality. Yet, I didn't have the courage to ask those shouting people to respect others' culture. It was in public, but I do hope that school can give an example of respecting others' culture. If they are kept being pushed to deny their real identity, then no wonder if they do not feel that they belong to Indonesian brotherhood. We can see how Obama's grandfather changed himself. It is something that come from inside one's heart, just like when Adam and Eve realized that they were naked, that they need changed their way of living.

Obama's dream and hope are universal, it is not about any race...but it is about real freedom, equal right as human beings. If the Papuans want their freedom, I think it is not actually a political demand. It is more their own struggle with their emotional feelings of being the righteous owner of their own land. I am always sad when some part of Indonesian archipelago asking for their "freedom". Are they sure that they can survive by themselves? We need to be together as a country to stand the universal world. It is also a universal struggle, a struggle of be able to sit as real brothers and sisters.

Obama has succeeded in stepping farther through his identity struggling period. Now is his time to show the world that he can help us gaining more positive approaches toward a peaceful world. It is not easier than his own identity struggle, and it is surely need lots of prayers and actions to support this universal goal.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Blogs as education and communication tools

I keep encouraging people to blog. For Indonesians, blogging would ask them to write, to put things in their head into writing. Putting our opinions in writing means that we need to think it out, searching for the right words, and in the end enhancing our capability in pouring out our ideas, our feelings, and our needs. Once people realized that they can write, they will keep writing and it will help open the communication gate.

For professionals, blogging is sharing. It opens the universal world into a flat media. Communications between continents are made easier. It will also be more profitable for one's professional's life as long as he/she can use it wisely.

I'd like to write a short note about some blogs here:

Blog Bahtera is a blog from professional translators and those who care about Bahasa Indonesia (so it consists writings in Bahasa Indonesia). It was started as a mailing list, and since June 2009 the coordinator also created its own community blog. Communication is better off through the mailing list. If you do need urgent help in translating a word or a sentence, you'd prefer to be engaged in a quick conversation in the mailing list. Yet, I'm not really blessed with those precious time to keep updating myself with all letters from the mailing lists I subscribe. So, I really appreciate the existence of this blog. I'm now able to come by as a fellow blogger just like a neighbour can come and visit other friends in the neighbourhood. The great aspect of the internet is that we don't need to bother our visiting time. It can even be at midnight if that's the only time available or convenience with our daily time schedule.

This blog is a nice melting pot of experiences, a crossroad of multinationals who care about Bahasa Indonesia. It is also serving as an "encyclopedia" of wisdom transferred from seniors to juniors (it's not necessarily in term of age, but more into professional experiences).

I would also like to mention a blog made by my eldest son's science teacher, IPA Menyenangkan (Science is fun). She tries to put her lessons in a blog, knowing that some of her students are not good in taking notes in her classroom but they have great talents in internet surfing (ehm...I know one of them very well!). She told me that she is asking her students to keep an eye on her blog, give her input either in beautify her blog (for those internet techie) or in adding the content (surely for those who find taking scientific notes and writing it out as an interesting homework). Being a full time teacher and a homemaker with kids she has limited time to blog, but it is great if she can make her students interested in helping her with her blog. She can be the editor of the content, and those kids should try to write on their own, not only copying and pasting information from other blogs.

Yet, the best news I've got is from my friend, Jacob Gautel, who is now sharing his artistic journey in his website. First I've met Jacob through his "Maria Theodora" project supported by CCF (French Cultural Center), an art project that is inline with his quest for his Indonesian root. His quest for completing his family tree evoked some odd feeling for my own "denial" of my Chinese ancestral root. I was also joined his workshop in Singapore. I think we've just met several times before the monetary crises came, the May riot happened (I remembered that he; the one who didn't really keen in answering e-mails, had telephoned me asking for my family situation. A simple call that was like an oasis in the middle of the chaos). Afterward I saw parts of his works through the magic of Mr. Google, or through his participation in other art exhibitions without his presence here. Now having his own presentation of complete works in his web is like exploring another part of his artistic journey.

I hope that we can really use blogs as education and communication tools. It can be a way to educate people about democracy or enriching our knowledge, supporting our creativity (not killing it by doing plagiarism) and starting a communication aiding to a better and peaceful world.

Wikipedia Indonesia

As a citizen reporter I am depending mostly on wikipedia to link names or events that I used in my writing. If I write in English I'll prefer the English version of Wikipedia, but sometimes Indonesian names or events are not written in English. On the other hand, I'd like to link my writing in Bahasa Indonesia to Wikipedia Indonesia, as it will help my Indonesian readers to read it in their preferred language. Yet, I haven't been brave enough to upload any post or trying to edit or add data from the existing wikipedia. I used to play in the sand box, but never have the courage to do my part of writing.

Today I am trying to share my part of writing for Wikipedia Indonesia. My motivation to help started when an Indonesian guitarist, Jubing Kristianto, was about to be deleted from Wikipedia Indonesia due to the incompleteness of data. I have seen his performances, and I like his way of introducing the traditional songs and Indonesian children songs in his guitar repertoire. I also like his interactive way of communicating with his fans (read my piece in wikimu "Naik Delman Fantasy dari Face Book ke Mal"), and his collaborative works with other Indonesian artists. So, I would love to see his name stayed in the online encyclopedia.

I think we do need to promote our local talents. Psychologically (and thinking over my time schedule) I was not really ready to write something in wikipedia, the last layer mentioned by Steve Outing as the most interactive part of citizen journalism. Yet, here I am...trying to add something! Welcome to wikipedia!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Please Join Your Voices to Save the Earth

I'm not really up-dated with climate change and UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, but I am following some articles through printed Kompas and online medias. Greenpeace International is also helping me in keeping updated informations through its e-mails. Sometimes Greenpeace's action were too militant for my style of action, but petition to save the earth; to call the world leaders to take real actions; to really care about educating citizens how to save the earth is important. That's why I joined my voice in their petition.

Petition to the 110 Presidents and Prime Ministers negotiating in Copenhagen:

We call on each one of you to make the concessions necessary to meet your historic responsibility in this crisis. Rich countries must offer fair funding, and all countries must set ambitious targets on emissions. Do not leave Copenhagen without a fair, ambitious and binding deal that keeps the world safe from catastrophic global warming of 2 degrees.

If you'd like to take your part of voicing your concern, you can visit

The picture of the demonstration has an interesting banner "Planet not Profit". I am also giving my voice for that..."Planet not profit". Yet, "Human being not profit" will be my ultimate concern. I would love if Indonesian leaders also think about that when planning or making any mutual decision on REDD.

Greenpeace International weblog is here, picture above is taken from its e-mail for the petition.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Citizen journalism is a way to communicate

I always believe that we do need better communication, that is why I joined my voice with bloggers around the world in this cyber world.

East Timor is always an interesting subject for me, that's the reason I wrote Perlukah Film "Balibo Five" Dilarang di Indonesia? for Kompasiana, the corner for citizen journalism in

I am limiting my browsing time, so I did not read other posts in the same tag of Balibo Five. I was reading an opinion column in the printed Kompas, and feel the need to write my opinion for citizen journalism site. I was including the link of my old writing for OhMyNews International (OMNI), and the link of another Indonesian citizen reporter for OMNI. We do need citizen journalism as a communication tool. That's why I like variety of comments. We shared and get feedback.

Today I browse and found this post in Kompasiana as an interesting piece with lots of information. I did not read it when I uploaded my writing two days after the author uploaded that post. 34 years...a very long pain for those related to the victims. I haven't got a chance to see the film, so I can't say my reaction to the film. I've got my prejudice, I've got my short opinion of the short official trailer, but I should be able to see the film and hear the discussion before I can make any judgement. So, I think we do need to see the film and make our decision about the content. If needed, we can make our own version of film on the situation at that time. Yet, the most important thing is to open a communication. It would even be better if those involve in it share their voices. Life is not long enough...34 years gone by...God is not blind, why don't we make way to forgive and be forgiven? It would not be forgotten, but we can make it a good lesson for the future.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

The Power of Netizens' Voices

In an article "Trapped Inside a Broken Judicial System After Hitting Send" by Norimitsu Onishi, Prita Mulyasari was quoted saying: "People always lose to the powerful in this country. I'm a mother, a regular person like everybody else, so a lot of people identified with me and felt sympathy."

That's so true...that's why people accepted to give her our supports when she lost her case in the civil defamation law suit. People started collecting coins to show the hospital that we are standing together with her. She is the representative of ourselves, people who do not have power towards the powerful and resourceful person or institution. She is also the symbol of our needs to have better service as customers, especially for the health service. Coins are also the symbolization of how how cheap is the value of our judicial law. Another blogger said it out nicely:
collecting coins for Prita has surpassed the actual case, and has grown into a making a statement towards the corrupt judicial system this country has. coin us, we’ll coin you back. I do support this movement. I support it because I think that we have the right to speak out (responsibly mind you), we have the right to know what we are charged with (if arrested) and we have the right to a fair trial. And I don’t think Prita got any of that.

The government should see this case as a positive input to develop our national and international health services. Then, we might hope that people will trust our hospitals. Health services like hospitals can only give charity or discounted services if they have money to support the financial budget. It could only be attained by having the high class society as their patients to help supporting the cost for the low income patients. We do need to gain consumers' trust in our local hospitals. Seeing the advertisements we can clearly see that Indonesian patients are targeted consumers of hospitals abroad. This case is giving a negative impact, but actually it would be easier to be forgotten if we are not facing the arrogance hospitality of a hospital.

The coins collected has surpassed the needed amount to pay off Prita's fine. Updated status can be seen through Face Book or mailing list. The hospital is dropping the civil suit against Prita, but we don't know yet about the two doctors who were also charged in their law suits. I think it would be wiser to drop the case (both sides, the hospital and Prita). We can use the case as a good example of how vulnerable the position of consumers and bloggers in voicing their voices through the internet if the implementation of the Bill of Act on Electronic Information and Transaction (UU ITE) is not implemented wisely. An old post from Dunia Anggara showed the author's concern towards freedom of speech and expression. Some commentators disagree with him, but Prita's case show how vulnerable the position of a citizen when voicing his/her opinion online. Prita's right as a patient to get the information about her health condition seemed to be forgotten. As someone who felt that her complaint was entering deaf ears, her reaction of mailing her fellow friends (and friends mailing their friends) should not be seen as defaming one's name or institution. They should clarify it, not issuing a civil law suit.

Prita's case showed us the power of netizen's voices. It is also showing us that small contribution can also build a huge amount, a powerful action. If we can do a bit in our own shoes, then together we can change the world.

If Prita doesn't need to pay the fine, then people are suggesting her to use the money for other victims of unbalance power in front of the judicial law (if we should not say the corrupted judicial law). It seems that the cyber world is waking up, building another stand that show the power of netizens' voices.

Talking about cyber voices, there is one nice post came from blogger Yoris Sebastian about Budi Soehardi who received CNN Heroes 2009 award. It reminded me of how nationality is not depending on where one's live or work. Being abroad, working for a foreign brand of airline, didn't stop Budi from thinking about people from his country. One comment underlined that the orphanage is not in East Timor but in Kupang. It doesn't really matter where the orphanage was build, the point is he (and his family) do care about those children. They are the victim of the East Timor war. Life is being very difficult for them and education is the most important way to help building better life for those children. Sharing inspirational story like that (and also about the newspaper boy who became an architect) is really a good way to inspire people to act. So, the power of netizens' voices will only be powerful if the readers are inspired to act...The cyber world is also making the world smaller, you do not need to be Indonesian to support Prita. Borders are fading out, just like how quick the world responded and helped us during the tsunami and earthquakes. Ready to do something for others?

Some links on Prita's case can be read here:

Thursday, 3 December 2009

My new blog and a new finding

I'm starting a new blog about being a mother (it is in Bahasa Indonesia). It will be talking about children and mostly about my own sons, and I'm calling it "Buah Hati". Translation by words meaning the fruit of the heart, but it is actually the apple of a mother's eyes, the fruit of the womb...

I've got an interesting fact that a song I've been so keen of since my teenage period is actually a song from a Philippine's singer, Freddie Aguilar. I read the comments from this YouTube post, and they made me wonder the origin of this song.

I've known the song in English version since I was in Junior Highschool (so around thirty years...) and only in English. I'd like to put it into my blog, then I came to know the origin of the song. It is from Tagalog, you can hear the Tagalog version here. And the title is "Anak"...the same word we are using for children in Bahasa Indonesia.

From his wikipedia page, I found out that he wrote this song as a way to show his regret for a decision to left his school and family at the age of 18.
Freddie studied Electrical Engineering at De Guzman Institute of Technology but did not finish the course. Instead he pursued music became a street musician and then a folk club and bar musician.[4] In 1973, he married Josephine Quiepo.

Freddie Aguilar left family and school unfinished at the age of 18. Realizing and regretting his mistakes five years later, Freddie composed "Anak", a remorseful song expressing apology to his parents.

Sometimes communication stuck, and we do need to have a better communcation between older generation to the younger one. I'm glad to find out the original song (and would really like to know the Tagalog translation)...and thankful to him that he shared his experience through this beautiful song.