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:

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