A guy who was born in Canada, grew up in Indonesia, went to high school in Australia, spent half a year in Hawaii, and ended up back in Canada.
This is my story...
DR's Corner
Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Indonesian bloggers

Wow, didn't know there were that many Indonesians who were blogging. A google on 'Indonesia blog' or 'Indonesian blogs' reveal lots of results and links to them. I was very ignorant in thinking that blogging was somehow more popular in western countries. Oh well, good mind opener :)

How did I find out about this? I was looking at the 2005 bloggies, and looked at one of the nominations for Asian blog of the year. Found this blog and was quite surprised to find that the owner is actually an Indonesian living in Waterloo, Canada :). Even more fun was discovering that she'd won 4 bloggies during the last few years.

Maybe the Indonesian bloggers in Canada should start a community, just to know how many there are? Anybody interested?

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Last night we managed to leave our son at my parents place for a few hours, so I could take my wife and watch Hitch. It was a pretty good movie, gave us a good laugh. The storyline was pretty typical of a romantic-comedy: guy meet girl, guy and girl fall in love, some major problem happen and they get back together in the end. In between, lots of funny things happen surrounding the plot.

It was quite predictable, and yet that's exactly the kind of movie we were looking for after a long stretch of no break from taking care of a very very very .. active 2.5 year old :). The only drawback was the price of popcorn and coke: $10 for a large popcorn and coke; if that isn't blackmail, I don't know what is anymore. But it was a good night all in all. Our son had fun playing with his grandparents and uncles, even got a chocolate to bribe him.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Political rant - dumb and dumberer

Okay, I'm not a guy who follows politics on a regular basis, and I don't profess to understand much of the political world, but I do follow what's going on in Indonesia since that's where I grew up and my future somewhat lies in going back there. Some of the actions of the leaders of the country for the last few years truly baffle me.

Take these 3 examples that I want to discuss:

1. A few years ago, a vice president claimed that (paraphrase): "There are no terrorists in Indonesia". This after 9/11, and increased information from news everywhere that Indonesia is being used for training grounds due to its lack of law enforcement. Of course then the Bali bombings happened.

2. In last year's presidential elections that was hailed as one of the most democratic elections in the world ever, the incumbent absolutely refused to congratulate the president-elect.

3. The people's representatives in the government protest the increase of fuel prices, even though the subsidies given to fuel for the last few years have absolutely killed Indonesia's economy.

Lets start with number 1. This prominent figure who has held the position of head of the highest legislative body in Indonesia, actually decided to ignore all warnings about terrorism from many experts, and made that famous remark. This seemed like a foolish thing to do; after all you're supposed to be smart and knowledgeable, not ignorant and clinging to false patriotism. Why are you so opposed to receive help from other countries / people / agencies and instead fool yourself into thinking that those entities are trying to trick you / split you up? Can't you think and make an informed decision based on what's available? Just mind boggling if you think of how stubborn this guy is.

Number 2: Have you ever seen a democratic country where the next president failed to congratulate / at least acknowledge defeat? George Bush Vs Al Gore, George Bush Vs Kerry ... those guys tried to kill each other with words during the campaign, and yet at the end of it, bad blood had to be put aside, for the good of the country. The ones who lose acknowledge the winners, and the winners acknowledge the ones who lost. In Indonesia's case, our dear outgoing president never made a concession speech, even after the president-elect congratulated her on a great campaign and publicly thanked her for improving Indonesia. This just shows arrogance and stubbornness in my opinion. How could you, as president, not know the protocol for an election? Do you really have advisors that are totally ignorant of courtesy and good sense? Can't you even bring yourself to admit that you lost and need to support the new government? Instead, after the new president took up his position, the parties of his opponenents ganged up in the assembly declaring that they're gonna make life tough for him. My goodness, can't you people look aside from your own selfish needs and think of what's good for the country? Can't there be defeat without revenge? Can't you introspect and think of what you did wrong, then try to correct yourselves instead of assuming that your opponents cheated? Just dumb... dumb... dumb...

The third: Indonesia has one of the largest, if not the largest, fuel subsidies in the world. That's why gas costs less than 30 cents there compared to 80 plus cents they are now in Toronto. When the oil prices went kaboom last year, Indonesia never took any profit in it since all its supplies to the people were subsidized anyway. The previous government knew about this, and yet refused to do anything for fear of backlash from the people The new government have no choice but to increase prices because the subsidies are damaging the budget and economy. Of course, the little people won't know or understand about this; they just know that life is going to get harder in the short run. I can symphatize with this, and understand why demonstrations are rampant because of this. What I can't understand is the people's representatives (again, some of them are unhappy with the current president for reasons in part 2 above). They actually declared that the price increase is unjustified and refused it. This just drove me nuts. How @#%&^@#$% crazy are these people? These are the educated people and who are supposed to represent the people of Indonesia. Don't you know the current situation? Don't you know that the government had to do this? Instead of supporting the move and try to make people understand what's going on, they decide to try gather public support for themselves and do this idiotic move. These people just don't understand what running a country mean. They just think that it's a power move.

Okay, I'm a bit calmer now. Here's my analysis of all these things:

Indonesians have been brought up in a patriotic / nationalistic education system. I went through this, and up till high school, had this way of thinking that Indonesia is the greatest. Any interference from outside is not needed, and are a nuisance. This of course caused problems when we try to think about everything from our own point of view, instead of trying to work together with others. Pride as a nation is totally different than being arrogant and a pain in the a**.

All the leaders say that unity of the nation is a first priority, and they are all working for its good, yet in practice, most of the time, it's all about the individual, how to get ahead at all costs, how to get more power, and how to live comfortably. Somehow that mentality has been put in place because of all the corruption around.

The only way I can think of fixing this country is by changing the way of life from a very early age. Changing the way kids are educated, the way they think and the way they are brought up. Corruption, lawlesness and all these things will continue to exist, but the next generation needs to be trained to have a different mindset / way of thinking if there's gonna be even hope of a re-born Indonesia.

I really believe that it will take a new generation that has the courage to be different, and not be affected by all the corruption/power struggle/me-first mentality, to change Indonesia. It truly is a great country if only the people and leaders can work together instead of bickering amongst ourselves trying to get ahead of everyone else. I'm still planning on going back to Indonesia, and I still love Indonesia, but the antics and attitudes of these supposedly 'knowledgeable' politicians just make me want to scream.

Thanks for reading :)

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