Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy anniversary my beloved Indonesia...:)

17 August is Indonesia's independence day.

You are now 66! Old for a man (or woman), but pretty young for a nation.
So, I am wishing and praying you and more importantly your people, all the best. :)

Oh, and i noted this year's theme is pretty much related with my dissertation, currently the most fascinating thing in the world. lol. :p

Here's the theme:

"Dengan Semangat Proklamasi 17 Agustus 1945, Kita Tingkatkan Kesadaran Hidup dalam Kebhinnekaan untuk Kokohkan Persatuan NKRI, Kita Sukseskan Kepemimpinan Indonesia dalam Forum ASEAN untuk Kokohkan Solidaritas ASEAN".

translated:

"with the spirit of 17 of August 1945 (independence) proclamation, let's increase our awareness in living in diversity to strengthen the national unity, and let's support Indonesia's leadership in ASEAN to strengthen ASEAN solidarity"

aww yeahh...

and I like how the Indonesian Ambassador for the Great Britain explain this theme in yesterday's flag ceremony.
(yes, i did join the flag ceremony here...)
Now I wonder whether other countries have this so-called flag ceremony thingy...(jangan2 kagak ade sama skaly...wkwkwkw)














*image from: http://indonesi4-ku.blogspot.com/2011/01/naskah-proklamasi-kemerdekaan-ri1945.html

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mum's Advice from Accross the Ocean















It was another Sunday when I had my routine London-Sleman talk. *for those who wants to know where Sleman is please check this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleman_Regency*

Well, not that routine...actually it was only these recent times I called home every Sunday as I had the exam season approaching and the whole panic and fears were haunting me, sucking my happiness like dementors (halah, lebay...kekekeke). Yeah, that's the time when every kid needs their mum. lol.

I told my mum that there was one ultimate class which was too difficult as it involved calculation and a totally new creature (for me) called statistics. *suddenly I remember now that the statistics teacher actually said "If you don't read Agresti and Finlay before lectures, it's none of my business. You should talk to your mum. (or something sounds like that)" How true it is! lol*

As every Mum will say to her children, my mum told me not to worry too much, just do what you can do, not to forget the five time prayers,to do the extra prayers at night, and of course telling me that she's doing the extra prayers herself for me, her only daughter. *the prophet was totally right for saying that heaven actually lies at your mother's feet* She also reminded me that a superb grades were probably not that super-important right now. :p *my dad later supported my mum by saying for not to stress too much* (well, you see, they're meant for each other :D)

All of he advice and reminders were important, although they are relatively "default" advices that I always received every time I am away from home (which means pretty much all the time, lol). However, her closing remarks somehow made me wonder. She told me to be careful with my words. Well, Mum reminded that being in a foreign land, with completely different culture, different people, different norms suppose to make me more cautious on what I say. That was a real point.

I think I've been ignoring this for quite a while. Being in the "West" make me feel that I can say anything what I want to say. Anything. But apparently it is wiser to think about it now.

I've been told many times for being very outspoken (sometimes it's used to ameliorate the word "annoying", I suppose :p). One of my first bosses, an American, even said that I was "more American than he was". Another boss, said that even though I'm from Yogyakarta (a city in Java, culturally well known for its high-level politeness and manners), I actually sound more like someone from North Sumatra (another part of Indonesia, known to be more outspoken than those from Java).

And then, very recently, a colleague said that actually I reminded him of Dr. Sheldon Cooper of the Big Bang Theory. *for those who don't know who he is,...helloo??! all cool people watch The Big Bang Theory, for God sake...lol. :D
Sheldon is cute, smart and everything...I love him...but being told that I am like him...is of course not something that I want to hear. :D

To make it worse, I need to ask my colleague what occasion precisely made me look like Sheldon. There you go. :D Lack of sensitivity, a number one Sheldon attitude.

So...apparently, Mum knows her daughter much more than anyone else. Well, thank you Mum for telling me that, I promise to be more sensitive and to think wisely before open my mouth.

So, for those whom ever feel annoyed with my words, apologies, I promise I will try my best to not repeating it. :)


*photo credit: http://sheldoncooper.net/how-to-talk-like-sheldon-cooper

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Because names are prayers, so, here's some ideas...:p

Name given to a child is actually the parents' prayer for him/her. Suddenly this thought came to my mind, in the middle of reading President Suharto's national addresses. lol. (kok ra nyambung yo...)

So, I've been wanting to name my children (in the future) with footballers' name. Eric (from Cantona), for sure. Haven't thought about any other footballer so far. (My nephew is actually named "Zidane") :p

The prophet name (whether it's going to be Muhammad or Ahmad) will be there, insya Allah, for the goodness and the blessings it may bring.:)

And, the new thought, is to name them with these astronomical objects, in their Javanese versions, specifically. So, among them will be thing such as "Bagaskara" (the sun), "Buana" (the earth), "Chandra" (the moon), "Aksara/Antariksa" (the sky), or "Kartika/Wintang" (the star). Stargazing rocks.

Hmm...sounds a lot...and most of them sound like boys' name. :D But sounds cool, no? They're all good prayers indeed. :)

Anyway, that's noted. And please don't steal my idea. Hehehe. Now, back to President Suharto...















*pics taken from: http://www.astronomy-images.com/

Friday, July 01, 2011

A Note for Myself, This Friday Morning

My twitter timeline has something interesting, and I suppose making note here is just the most reasonable thing to do. Yeaa, baby, you live in the social media era! :D

It was about one hadith (words of the Prohet Muhammad). The original sentence was something like this:
"How lucky is that man (or woman) who adopts humbleness without having scarcity, who considers himself inferior without having to beg for anything, who spends his won earned money in the right causes without disobeying Allah, who is kind to those having little means, and who remains in the company of learned men (and women)" (Tibrani)

So...this actually tells us who an enviable person is:

1. a person who is humble despite having that which makes people proud.
2. a person who earns and spends in the path of Allah.
3. a person who is kind to those less privileged.
4. a person who benefits from the companionship of the learned.

Hah, such a nice note it is (satisfied with myself, and my social-media literacy, lol).

Envy is truly one of the seven deadly sins that often drives us crazy. Looking at this note make me realize that sometimes my envy are just unnecessary, for to be enviable one should perform those 4 criteria. And indeed, to be enviable is just probably not that difficult. :D

Hmm...what do you think? :)

source: @islamicthinking















*picture: taken by me in a Turkish restaurant in London, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011

When I feel 'unable to define'...















When I feel this way, I will usually visit this blog. It has some sort of galau-ness in its tone, if you ask me, which feels good. haha. The blog is no longer being updated. The writer said he had lost his "mojo" to write. Unfortunately. Despite these, I always find interesting things, sometimes just to read, many times to inspire, most of the time to make me wonder, but often to make myself feel more awful...lol.

This particular post is interesting for today. Yes,I have never asked this question before, despite my new obsession with conceptualization, operationalization, and measurements (lol, thanks to King, Keohane and Verba - 1994.)

"how do you measure a year in a life?"

"Yeah, measure it in love!"

"2004 - 2 major crushes, 1 CLBK, 2 amazing journeys, 14 articles on MTV Trax, 2 converses, 15 musical stages, 6 acappela lives, 1st harry potter, 2 bouquets of flowers, 0 ketupat!"

See? It makes me feel much more awful. :p

Yet, awfulness is another thing in life to be grateful of...so that you can feel super-grateful when - in some other times - you find awesomeness. (opo seeh? :p)

Another thing I love to do in such a mood is to re-publish some poems. This time, I find a poem titled "Hujan Bulan Juni" ("June Rain") by Sapardi Djoko Damono is most relevant and representative. :D Check this out:


tak ada yang lebih tabah dari hujan bulan juni
dirahasiakannya rintik rindunya kepada pohon berbunga itu

tak ada yang lebih bijak dari hujan bulan juni
dihapusnya jejak-jejak kakinya yang ragu-ragu di jalan itu

tak ada yang lebih arif dari hujan bulan juni
dibiarkannya yang tak terucapkan diserap akar pohon bunga itu

***

Alright, now it is time to stop procrastinating and get back to real life which means...the dissertation!!!! Oh boy...

*picture was taken by me in London, Spring 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beauty in The Red Bus

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Don't know and don't really care who said that, but I think it is very true.

Today, as "the beholder", I saw a beauty.

It was a Saturday afternoon, the weather was confusing, supposed to be a sunny summer, but apparently London has been in such an unpredictable and annoying mood in the last several days. I was on the red bus number 24, heading to Camden town.

There were two baby strollers already in the bus, sat nicely in the specially-designed space in the very center of the bus body. At Chalk Farm road stop, however, the third baby stroller got in the bus. As expected, it caused a problem as the bus is designed for maximum two strollers.

The bus driver told the couple with the third baby stroller that he could not drive with a stroller (with a baby in it) in the bus corridor. The option was to carry the baby, and fold the stroller. The couple said that they could not do that as the baby was sleeping. The bus driver said (in a slightly not nice tone) that "then you have to get off". He even opened the doors for them already.

However, the black-haired woman standing next to one of the two others stroller offered to fold her stroller instead. She, in her foreign accent, told her blond young son to get off the stroller, and folded it so that the couple could use their place. The young boy looked sleepy yet obediently got off his stroller. The couple affectionately stroked this little boy head showing their thankfulness.

But the act of kindness did not stop there. An old man, with his white fez, tunic, and Osama Bin Laden-styled beard hastily got off his seats, offered them to the little boy and his mum. The woman and her son thankfully took the seats.

The red bus driver shut the door and carried on.

This happened in less than 3 minutes, but it was enough to make my eyes felt slightly warm and teary. I thought of these people kindness. I thought about these people differences, London-ness. The White-British couple, the Eastern European (or Latina, I could not really tell, I am very bad at recognizing accent), and the dark-skinned Muslim man (cannot really tell his racial background and cannot recognized his accent too). I knew, this is the London that I want to remember.

Ah, my eyes feel warm and are now slightly teary again. It is the thought of the beauty in the red bus and these London people, that probably bring me to the thought of Princess Phyra and Prince Fluvius.




















*picture was taken by me, December 2010

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Indonesia: Why Democracy and Why Social Media

What will happen if the young, who will (possibly) greatly influence the policy making of the current World’s Third Largest Democracy, do not believe in democracy? This question has been bothering me in the last two years, particularly every time I was “trapped” in the never-ending discussion with my civil servant peer group in The Ministry. For the past two years, the conclusion of discussion regarding the country’s political issues remains the same. It will usually end up with my frustration, desperately trying to convince them about the importance of democracy, as the safeguard of every positive changes happened in Indonesia since 1998.


According to The Freedom House, Indonesia is currently the only free country in South East Asia. The neighboring countries such as The Philippines and Singapore are even still categorized as “partly free” countries. Considering its 234 million population, it is now also often referred as the Third Largest Democracy, after India and The United States. To make it more special, it is also often referred as a rare successful example of a democracy with predominantly Muslim population. Indonesia was even honored to host the 6th Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in 2010, and in her opening speech, the Chairman praised the host as “the most vibrant democracy in Asia”.









However, from my point of view as a government official who deals with democratic consolidation as well as a student of political science, not unlike other young democracies around the world, the country is currently facing some potential of the so called “democratic backsliding”. The potential threats to democracy in Indonesia are resulted from the increasing frustration among the citizens, as its democracy appeared to be costly and showing only little concrete contribution to the people’s welfare. This kind of frustration seems to spread among people from various backgrounds, including the highly educated and affluent ones. The lack of understanding on the concept of democracy, a superficial and narrow-minded, past-oriented attitude which often results in the conclusion that the dictatorship in the past was better than the current democracy and are also other source of potential threats to democratic consolidation in Indonesia. Yet again, among all of these possibilities, there is nothing more worrying than a bunch of highly educated young civil servants, who are also potentially influential people, who are competitively recruited in the ministry which is functioned as the hub of the policy-making process and are unfortunately very skeptical in believing that democracy is the best basis for the Indonesian political system.

I believe that democracy is the best among the existing imperfect options. The history, almost anywhere in the world, has shown so far that it is the most fair and benevolent political system. Many of my friends think that democracy is a very westernized concept so that it is not suitable for Indonesian context. I agree that Indonesia has a very different culture and condition, and I can fully understand people’s anxiety about democracy’s minimal contribution toward the level of prosperity. In the context of Indonesia, the democracy is still very young, after all, that it is still far from perfect and satisfying. However, there are reasons and evidence that have shown that democracy compatible for, and is needed in Indonesia.

Democracy, I believe is the safeguard of every positive change that has happened in Indonesia since the 1998 reform movement. Therefore, it is essential to preserve, maintain and nurture democracy in Indonesia to protect all those positive changes. The improving freedom of speech, freedom of expression, free & fair elections, massive war against corruption, respect to human rights, non violent-peaceful leadership succession are among those positive changes I refer to. Before 1998, Indonesia was a dictatorship where people lived in fear and threats and unable to voice their aspirations. This condition was maintained by the Suharto Regime for more than 30 years, until the people power (with the students movement as the main component) changed everything in 1998. However, more recently, for many people including my friends, the post-1998 era is often perceived as chaotic, less-prosperous age that many consider Indonesian democracy has gone too far and in consequence, they want to return to dictatorship era in the past. The media often call this as “longing-for-Suharto syndrome”. However, I believe that those who aspire in such a way are basically people who had lived their life in the central-comfort zone and thus became less sensitive to those who lived far away from the central-comfort zone, in a geographic as well as in a political sense. These people are ignoring the fact that during the dictatorship, there have been some despotic policies exercised against the people that they suffered very much. One important instance of Indonesian democracy’s positive side effects is the Aceh peace process. If there had been no changing regime, the Helsinki peace-accord between the Government of Indonesia and The Free Aceh Movement would never have been realized in 2005.

Decentralization and local autonomy is another important example of change that democracy has brought to Indonesia and particularly people all around the country. As many critics proposed, to some extent, decentralized governance in Indonesia has not achieved its best performance, yet, this changing system has enable people in 34 provinces to elect their government democratically. In regard to the issue of democratic election, I think one of the most important gift democracy has brought to Indonesia is the mechanism of leadership and governmental succession in a non-violent way. History has noted boldly that undemocratic regimes in the past were succeeded by sacrificing civilians’ as well as military’s life. Therefore, Indonesian young and children have to be reminded about the 1960 communist-party related coup d’├ętat and the 1998 civil unrest and chaos in several cities so that they can rethink about how much it cost to take such undemocratic risk, despite the fact that the current democracy is often being criticized as a very costly governmental system, with so many elections take place in one year. In short, I believe that those who consider the past dictatorship age is better for Indonesia than the current democracy is being either narrow-minded. This can be caused by lack of knowledge (for example because they live their whole life in Jakarta, the capital city and never seen the other area of Indonesia), or probably they were the part of the previous regime and had gained so much more from it. After all, it is quite unfair to judge that the current democratic era is worse than the past dictatorship age only because so many bad news such as poverty, hunger, corruptions, and so on appearing in the media. If we think more logically, the REAL situation in the past might have been much worse, with all the political violence committed by the state apparatus, but we never knew about that bad news simply because freedom of speech and the media were circumscribed by the regime.
Having joined a team in the Ministry of Planning whose task is designing and coordinating for Indonesia’s consolidated democracy in 2025 for almost three years, I have found that there are so many different things to do, so many issues to raise, so many problems to be addressed, so many parties to be involved, and so many challenges to deal with. Moreover, in the recent years, I believe that people’s skepticism toward political issues in Indonesia has increased. It is quite understandable, as many politicians behave in a way that makes taxpayers and people in general angry. Corruption among legislators and among elected public officers and money politics during the election processes are the main source of these resentments. It is not surprising that people are getting suspicious and skeptical at politics and everything related to it.

Outside my office desk, realizing my limited capacity to influence people, I have decided to focus on the above mentioned area: my friends, the potentially-influential people of the future. What I have done so far is very little. The first method I have tried was speaking loudly, assertively in basically every opportunity I had, and on many occasions, I ended up impatiently explaining some logical argumentation with historical details as supporting evidence, on why we have to maintain democracy as the nation’s political choice. Did I succeed? Well, in some occasions, I have created a silence in class or a prolonged nodding from some of my companions. Silence in class can be misleadingly understood as agreement as well as ignorance. I never fully investigated the meaning of the silence that I have created. However, on many other occasions, many people considered my attitude as intimidating, and it is worsened by such utopian argument that cannot be accepted by many people, particularly those with low income and education. On one occasion, a senior even told me that I will be thrown away from a rickshaw if I talk in such a way to common citizens such as a rickshaw driver.

Alternatively, I tried to write. I put those writings on democracy and its related issues in my personal Blogspot website which is also automatically imported to my Facebook account. The blog itself was not particularly about democracy, it was an old blog I have been using since 2005, containing a wide variety of writing types, from poems to academic essays. The Facebook notes version, I am quite sure is more popular that the blog version, since I can tag anyone I want in it. There were at least two pieces of writing related to the issue of democracy. I wrote about female candidates in the 2009 legislative elections. This writing argued about the reasons why we need to vote and why female legislators. One of the reasons I strongly emphasize is the logic and the empirical evidence in some other I also wrote about Indonesian democracy status, emphasizing why Indonesians need to be grateful in their country’s 65th anniversary. This writing was actually inspired by one office assignment, explaining that based on Islamic teaching, freedom or independence is one of the most fundamental blessings given by God to human beings. Therefore, Indonesian people should be grateful for being the only “free” country in South East Asia according to Freedom House’s 2010 publication.

Were these writings effective? Well, I cannot tell about it for sure also. Compared to my oral arguments in classes, more people definitely listen to the ideas conveyed in them. Most people’s feedback was positive. One of my friends purchased a plane ticket back to her hometown to vote in the general election. Some clicked their “like this” icon in Facebook. Some people told me that they enjoyed my writings and were waiting for more. Some other thought that the arguments are quite logical and informative.
More recently I also tried to widen my target readers by joining Kompasiana, a network of blogs owned by Kompas, Indonesia’s biggest and most nation-wide daily newspaper. In this network, the writings posted by the bloggers are categorized in different fields. My writing on Indonesia’s democracy status was posted in the politics, law and security affairs category. I remember that I posted it during twilight, and in less than 5 hours the counter hit the number 60 and one reader considered the writing as “useful”. Several people also posted comments on the writing and I thought it was not bad at all for a starter.
















Thinking about these reactions, I have concluded some aspects that made combination of writing and social networking as the best personal way to promote democracy in a country like Indonesia. These aspects I think, has also made people like my writings better than my arguments. Firstly, the writings are written in a contemplative sort of tone, instead of provocative ones. Secondly, an article is less emotional, less arrogant, more systematic, more detailed, so that misunderstanding and a sense of intimidation is more avoidable. Moreover, written argument can be packaged in a less serious and more entertaining way. Thirdly, and maybe most importantly, social networking can reach wider audience, much wider than a class of young civil servants. The fact that Indonesia has recently become the third largest user of Facebook is only strengthening my conclusion.
Considering this heart-warming initial result, I consider social networking and a blogging as a better place to campaign in a more contemplative way. Of course, many challenges are being faced in the way ahead. I am constantly facing difficulties in simplifying the explanation of the good side of democracy and thus, the significance of its presence in our daily life. To be honest, I am myself is still in the process of conceptualizing the ideal democracy and in the process of believing it. The other challenges that I need to face is how to make these writings independent, despite my position as a government official. Although on the other hand, the fact that I am a government official is expected to bring positive impact in the government effort to convince people that they are sincerely changing. However, the most fundamental challenge remains how to find a topic related to the issue of democracy, but closely and clearly linked to the very fundamental and concrete aspect in daily life, more particularly for those potential future influential policy-maker friends of mine.

To keep up my spirit and enthusiasm, I keep reminding myself about two success stories of Indonesian social-networkers in contributing to the promotion of democracy. Indonesia’s Facebookers have also recently contributed significantly in determining policy-making and the legal process, notably when the “A million Facebookers support the release of Bibit-Chandra” cause has gained a massive support that contributed in endorsing the President himself to finally intervene in the case. This was about two commissioners of Indonesia’s corruption Eradication Commission who were arrested and suspected for their involvement in bribery. Indonesian public, having known the reputation of the commission and these leaders and the challenge of corruption eradication in Indonesia, believes that this merely a plot involving other authorities and those who are threatened by the Commission’s bold steps in handling corruptions and corruptors. This Facebook cause, has even successfully mobilized the mass to conduct a peace rallies against the plot and in the end, and it had stimulated the Authority to finally intervene in favor of the public aspiration. Another Facebook cause has also played enormous role in preventing Prita Mulyasari from being jailed by a Hospital about which she complained by emails and mailing list. Prita was a housewife who complained about the lack of transparency and poor service of a big private hospital near Jakarta.

These cases were evidence that social networks have played and potentially will play significant roles in encouraging freedom and promoting the value of democracy in Indonesia. I absolutely don’t want to be left behind.

:D


*image : Freedom House world map 2005 from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/69/Freedom_House_world_map_2005.png

** This essay was written around end of 2010, my first term in university, the peaceful days when there was no exams and two essays only...:p

Saturday, April 23, 2011

It Takes the Premier League to Break My Heart...














I thought my heart was unbreakable. Or,...at least, no longer breakable. But just last month my conviction was proven to be wrong.

It all started from this email:

I’m writing to inform you that we have exciting volunteering opportunity for you.

Under the Premier Skills 2 (http://premierskills.britishcouncil.org/), Indonesia will run KICKZ project (http://www.premierleague.com/page/Kickz/0,,12306,00.html) and we are going to take a delegation of 10 people to UK as part of study visit to understand the practice of community football in Premier League.

The study visit will take place from 16-22 March 2011, mostly in the city of Liverpool and end in London. To assist the Indonesian delegates communicate with their UK counterparts, we require 2 volunteer interpreters and willing to travel to Liverpool and London.


I felt warm.

The Premier League was my source of spirit and inspiration during my junior and high school life. It kept my student-spirit high for the whole week, as I had something I look forward for the weekend. Watching it live on TV (with 6 or 7 hours difference)could caused goosebumps and dancing butterflies-in-my-stomach. Now the feeling is no longer the same, yet, I feel that I owe some great parts of my life to the Premier League.

But the next second I felt hollow.

The date was just impossible. An important presentation was scheduled on 18th, right in the middle of the program. I knew I had no chance whatsoever. (Yes I know some of you will say I am such a nerd, haha).


Indeed, as I wrote back to them, I honestly told them:

Thank you,

indeed, rejecting this offer is like a broken heart. :p

sincerely,

Wiwie


(**Photo courtesy of Mas Ade Tsalasi dan Mba Rizka Maydita, taken during their visit to Manchester earlier this year. Thank you for sharing this pic Mba dan Mas! :p)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Never Let Me Go

please hold my hand
and help me find the way

even when my feet are no longer on the ground
or when i start zig-zag-ing all around

hold my hand
hold my heart

kindly let me know where to go
even when i start doubting and questioning or complaining maybe protesting

hold my hand
never let go

dear Lord

thank You

Monday, February 07, 2011

A Souvenir from Britain?

Here's an idea for a souvenir from Britain, for ... myself! I know, what an ego-sentric personality I am. :p

So, I want to have a British accent for my English. I have anticipated a jeer and mocking sounds here and there. :) Well, it has been decided at the end of last term despite the fact that it is quite (or very) difficult, or even maybe impossible, according to some people's experience. :D

I do wanna have it. Why? Well, because it sounds sophisticated, graceful, and nice. :p

But how?

Now that's the real question. :D

I've told this to some classmate and a teacher about this, and one of the suggestion is to watch a movie titled "Lord of the Flies", in which some cute little British school boys from the 1960s talk in a very "English gentlemen" way. :p Well, that's one option.

It was mid of December when I had the conversation with the teacher, and it's February now. My accent still sound very Javanese-American English, I think. :O

Oh well, I'll stick to the idea, still. Having a British accent for souvenir! Yay!

Ps: any advice and assistance is much welcomed. :D















picture: Mulled spice tea stall, from the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland