Indonesia Anonymus

We are a group of Indonesians, ranting about our beloved country. This blog is a result of many people grumbling about many things in many ways.
Feedback: indonesia.anonymus at gmail dot com


Anonymus is the Latin word for anonymous, the correct English spelling. The Latin spelling, however, is traditionally used by scholars in the humanities to refer to an ancient writer whose name is not known, or to a manuscript of their work. Read more at Wikipedia.

Our blog in Bahasa Indonesia (but rarely updated) can be found here.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Give me your tired, your poor...

We were reading The Jakarta the other day and came across this news: Jakarta administration will launch a large-scale crackdown on unskilled migrants entering the city after Ied holiday [1]. The migrants are blamed to be the source of many urban problems. The Jakarta Post also wrote that such crackdown "could be in violation of the Constitution".

We cannot agree more. We are all Indonesians. We should be able to move freely in within our country.

Let's think about it this way: Which kind of people would you prefer: People who are willing to work hard to change their lives, or people who don't even try and leave it to fate?
We think we like the first one better. The migrants come to Jakarta because they know their life will not improve if they stay wherever they are before, and they have decided to do something about it. Isn't that a good spirit? That is the kind of spirit we want Indonesian people to have. If everybody has this kind of spirit, Indonesia would be a great country in no time. Poverty? Let's do something about it. Corruption? Let's do something about it. We need this kind of people. We need this kind of spirit.

Now why are we punishing them for having such determination, by crackingdown on them? Why do we treat them as if we don't want them? Isn't this discrimination?

Here is one of the reasons mentioned in the news: "Every new influx (of migrants) puts an increased strain on the city's transportation, schools, hospitals and water supplies."
Well, ok. More people, more problems. That's logical. But let us think about this further: Is city transportation free? No. This people will have to pay just like anybody else. (which means they have the same rights as us). Are schools free? Not that we know of. Hospitals? Come on. Water supplies? It is a known fact that people who live in slums pay more for clean water [2][3]. Conclusion: This people do not get a dime from Jakarta government. They have to pay for everything.

Here is another reason mentioned in the news: "Public zones such as parks, riverbanks and the spaces under overpasses have been turned into slum housing by squatters, while road shoulders, pedestrian sidewalks and bridges are lined with migrants who earn their living by becoming street vendors."
We don't know about you, but we have visited slums before and talked to the people there. Guess what: This people actually pay rent to live there. We are not saying that they pay rent to the government. But there are individuals who allow them to live there, for a fee. Same thing with sidewalks and bridges for street vendors: They are not free. Conclusion: Again, this people have to pay for everything.

So if they don't receive a dime from the goverment, what right does the government have to turn them away?

We believe the government are blaming the migrants for their own failures. Slums? No, no, it's not because of incompetent city administrators, it's the migrants. Streets crowded with vendors? No, no, it's not because of corruption. It's the migrants. Lack of clean water? It's the migrants.
The Jakarta Residents Forum (Fakta) chairman Azas Tigor Nainggolan said it right: "The administration should humbly admit that it has not been serious or professional enough in dealing with these problems and is now looking for a scapegoat,"

Enough of this. Folks, we sould not turn away people who are willing to work hard to change their lives. We should embrace them. They are the future of our country.
Don't we believe that if we work hard, we can overcome anything? This people believe in that too. That's why they are here.
Yes, of course we agree that the real problem lies in the inequality of wealth distribution. Yes, we agree that many regions have failed to take care of their own people nor create jobs for them so their people have to go elsewhere to earn a living. Yes, we know. But until that problem is solved, we will always have the migrants at our doorsteps.
What are we going to do? Two choices: Discriminate them, or embrace them as one of us.
We believe the second one is the best.

The writing on the Statue of Liberty cannot put it better [4]:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

[1] - Overpopulation remains a threat for Jakarta
[2] - Empowering Jakarta's Poor; The chance to break the cycle of poverty and injustice - Anugerah Pekerti
[3] Reason Online - Water Is a Human Right; How privatization gets water to the poor - Ronald Bailey
[4] Wikipedia - Statue of Liberty

Feedback: indonesia.anonymus at gmail dot com