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.
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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.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Beg to Differ

"When you're on the street, at a sidewalk, or in a car stopping at an intersection or whatever, and then a beggar comes to you asking for money,
will you give?"

One colleague asked this question when we were having our coffee, while waiting for our meeting to start.
It then turned into an interesting conversation:

A :
"I won't. Never. It will just encourage them. They are lazy. It's the laziest profession ever. This people just want it easy. Work? No, I'll just beg. Easier.
Lazy bums..."

"Well, that if you think standing in the sun (and rain), going from car to car under the heat, day in day out, is easy...
I bet you won't even last half an hour standing there..."

"That's why you don't see me begging. Haaa ! " [laughing].
"But seriously though. Giving money to them will just encourage more of them to beg instead of work.."

"Yes, but some of them are old people, or young children. They are not supposed to work. We can't tell them "No, no money for you. Go away and get a job.."
I don't give to healthy young men. That sort of beggars should get a job. But I tend to give some to old people and young children..."

"I always give. It's only a small change. No big deal. It help me from feeling bad. Here I am sitting comfortably in an air-conditioned car, while they are out there, probably tired, hungry and thirsty... I always feel bad. Especially when I see young children begging.
I know it won't help much. But hopefully, by giving some, they will get enough for the day and can go home a bit early.
I always feel bad and regret it if I don't give any..."

"Well you should feel bad. You drive a BMW."

"Oh, shut up. You are not exactly taking a bus to work either. What are you going to say to the beggars: "Look, I only drive a honda jazz, I am just as poor as you are. I feel your suffering... I feel your pain.. " ?

[bitter laughter]

"All right.. all right. Stop it.

But some say the beggars are organized by mafias. And if you give money to them you essentially give money to the mafias...
And some other say, some beggars actually live a good life. They actually make good money out of this and in their homes they have TVs, stereos,..."

B: "That if you believe the story. You think it's true?"

A: "What, you think it's not?"

D who so far was only listening, decided to join in the conversation.

"Did you read the Tribune a few days back?[1]"
[Tribune as in the International Herald Tribune, the newspaper].

B: "What? It wrote something about Indonesian beggars?"

"No. It's about beggars in India. Some say the beggars in India were maimed, you know, cut some fingers, amputate one leg, or blood-vessel stitched up to make the arm look black with gangrene, just so they can get more money from begging. It's the mafia, some say. Disabled beggars get more money than healthy beggars, so they maimed them on purpose."

C: "That's horrible."

A: "And it's not true?"

"Not according to the newspaper. It's 95% myth. I would dare to assume, it's the same case here. The story of beggars organized by mafias or professional beggars who make good money begging and living a good life.
It's probably a myth."

B: "But why would people make up a story like that?"

"Well, it doesn't mean it did not happen. Surely we have mafias somewhere controlling the streets. Surely we have pro beggars who actually live a good life.
We just should not assume that is the majority, that's all. The majority I believe is out there not out of choice.

Such story has become a convenient excuse for us -- or for the government -- , so we don't have to tackle the real issue. It's easier to blame the mafias for placing the beggars at every intersections, or to label them professional beggars, than to tackle the real problem: Poverty."

"It's a two different world isn't it.
Here we are, having our coffee and our muffins, and we are not even hungry. We have had our breakfast, and look at us now: stuffing our face with muffins..
While out there people may not be able to afford even a meal a day."

D: Yes, here we are. Just talking. We're full of sh*t, really.

"Yes, and that is frustrating. It's not like we don't want to help, you know."

E who was preoccupied by her business-magazine suddenly said something in a very low voice while her eyes never left the magazine:

"If you think about it, the income tax you pay every month to the government, is enough to help one family of four to live an ok life... Two families, even.

Or maybe three..."

[looking at C with a wicked smile...]

Everybody is uncomfortably quiet. E is from HR. She knows how much everybody makes and how much taxes everybody pays.
You don't like it when HR think you make too much. You want HR to think you make too little, hence a raise is required...

E: "Maybe you all should ask the government. What's up with all those money?"

A scratched his head. B cleared his throat. C acted as if she didn't hear E. D sipped his coffee. Everybody is uncomfortable.

The door opened. Our counterparts who we all had been waiting, suddenly turned up.
"Sorry we're late..."

A :
"Oh, no no. You arrived at the perfect time... Perfect time indeed...
Shall we start the meeting right away?"

And there you go. The world full of coffee and muffins has started to revolve around project initiatives, targets, and profitability.
In the end that is what we do and we are sticking to it.

While the other world,
the world that makes a good topic while waiting for a meeting to start,
the world we talk about while sipping our coffee and chewing our muffins and cinnamon buns,
the world we see everyday on the way to work and back,
the world that we know is part of ours,

will still slowly revolve, if not stand still, in poverty.

(And yes, what's up with all the tax money we paid all this time, by the way?)

[1] International Herald Tribune, August 4, 2006,Page 2 : A myth about maiming: A scapegoat for poverty - Amelia Gentleman


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met a beggar maybe 2 months ago.. she beg for money while i'm eating with my friends. She said she was hungry. And i don't have a small change.. And i asked her if she wants to eat and i will pay for it. She rejects it.

They just want money..

10:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

this is probably a bit OOT, but you guys should do a talk show. Then blog the transcript.

I'm a willing host.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is their job. What do you do for living? Beggar.

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kemana uang pajak yang kita bayarkan? hmmm ... it's one zillion dollar question ... gak usah muluk dengan mengatasi kemiskinan ... untuk pelayanan publik seperti jalan umum yang lobangnya segede bagong ... pelayanan pembuatan SIM, KTP and the lists will go on and on and on ... trus juga gimana itu mental para pelayan publik dalam melayani masyarakat? idup di indonesia ... banyak pertanyaan tak terjawab ... i always read your blog. good blog ... keep up the excellent work, guys!.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...

Thank you Rifie, Hedi & Motem.


A talk show? You the host?
So it's official: Treespotter is the new Oprah...

5:23 PM  
Blogger oigal said...

Hi ALL..

To me, it is the most vexing question of all that I face daily in Indonesia. The little kid comes to the window and begs..seriously by giving some money am I helping or just creating an enviroment to attract me little kids into danger????

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog!! Lots of challenging questions & important issues... I say: give them some money (you have nothing to lose) then turn a blind eye to what happens afterwards...

10:18 AM  
Blogger agus set said...

sorry pakai bahasa indonesia...

di negara yang angka penganggurannya tinggi seperti indonesia, dimana orang susah mencari kerja, menjadi pengemis adalah sebuah alternatif pekerjaan.

nggak ada yg perlu dirisaukan, meskipun seharusnya, sesuai dgn. UUD'45, mereka dipelihara oleh negara. tapi karena negara hanya baru mampu memelihara para birokrat dan wakil rakyat saja (dari uang pajak yang ada), ya apa boleh buat :P

Kalau ternyata kehidupan mereka dengan bekerja sebagai pengemis cukup makmur, itu tandanya menjadi pengemis adalah sebuah pekerjaan yang cukup "menjanjikan". Sisi positifnya: mereka dapat digolongkan sebagai orang yang berjasa kepada negara, karena mampu mengurangi tanggung jawab negara yang diamanatkan oleh UUD'45 untuk memelihara mereka.

Mungkin mereka perlu diberi penghargaan oleh negara karena jasanya meringankan beban negara...

9:02 PM  
Blogger Arya Gaduh said...

Giving will encourage urbanization, which has created the visible poverty one sees in the streets of Jakarta. As evidence, see Jakarta during Ramadan.

Giving to children is worse: if parents saw that we are more willing to give to children, more children will become beggars, to the detriment of their education.

I acknowledge two types of poor: Those with no family in villages (the real urban poor), and those with (begging as a side-job). Street-giving won't help the former much because it encourages many of the latter, hence raising competition (reducing the probability that we are actually giving to the former).

Question is, why do we give: Is the Rp.1000 a day intended to help the poor, or ameliorate our guilt?

7:26 AM  
Blogger Arya Gaduh said...

For a longer version of my case against giving to beggars, see here.

9:12 PM  
Blogger santy said...

you guys have an interesting blog. if you don't mind I'd like to put your link on my blog :)

3:11 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...

Oigal, you share what we feel all this time.

Merry, thank you.

Agusset, refreshing point of view...
Mungkin ini salah satu 'obat' juga:
daripada kebanyakan mikir, mending lihat sisi positifnya spt yg anda tulis.. :)

Very good point there.
On your question: Question is, why do we give: Is the Rp.1000 a day intended to help the poor, or ameliorate our guilt?, our answer is probably both, but not necessarily in that order... :)

Definitely will visit your link and read your blog.

Santy, thank you. Linking is of course much appreciated.
Nice photos you got there on your blog, by the way.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You guys really do a good job here. I'm very impressed. I will visit your blog regularly. Thanks for sharing the thoughts!

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

giving to children? i should have a heart to look away, but i should... because i think - it's really not wise to give them money when they are begging on the street or on the public transportation, though i also thought about if i gave them money while they're begging at night, they would go home bit early... but then it would be reasons for them to beg even later at night...
children shouldnt think begging is one of the other way to get money, they should learn that job is the only way... and they should learn how to get a proper job - and definitely not by begging.

but for the old ones? well... how poor them, where the hell is their family? but maybe begging is the only way they know to support their life.

but dont you ever think that we are too a beggar somehow? not begging for money perhaps? but for many other things... =D

very good blog by the way - love to read you guys - i've been a while linked you guys, that would alright, right? =)

9:34 AM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...

Thank you. We don't blog very often though, so if you check back too often you may get disappointed.

You won't miss a thing if you have a little look just once every two weeks...

we are too a beggar somehow?
You got us thinking right there.
Maybe you're right.

About the linking, it is of course highly appreciated.

2:47 PM  

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