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.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Split the Waffle

A country is about to split in two, and guess what: nobody thinks it's a tragedy.
Some even think it's a good idea. How can that be?

What country are we talking about? Yes, you got it: Belgium.

Background story in short:

The country's population has two major linguistic lines, the French-speaking Wallonia (the Walloons) in the South and the Dutch-speaking Flanders (the Flemings) in the North.
In the nineteenth century, the Francophile political and economic elite treated the Dutch-speaking majority as second class citizens. At the end of the nineteenth century, and during much of the twentieth century, the Flemish movement evolved to counter this situation. Following World War II, Belgian politics became increasingly dominated by the autonomy of its two main language communities. Intercommunal tensions rose and even the unity of the Belgian state became scrutinized. [1]

They had a general election three months ago, and the split looks even more inevitable:

"Belgium has failed to create a government, producing a crisis so profound that it has led to a flood of warnings, predictions, even promises that the country is about to disappear." [2]

Interestingly enough, the Economist thinks it's a good idea:
"Belgium has served its purpose. A praline divorce is in order." [3]

Do we care? After all, we never discuss Belgium unless it is about chocolate, waffle or Audrey Hepburn.

But bear with us a minute: Remember a while back, when Indonesia was worried about breaking up into pieces? Remember when Acehnese 'rebel' demanded independence, then same noise came from Papua, and then the latest with the Republic of South Maluku flag incident? [4]

Do we really fancy being together, we don't want a breakup? Is it all love in our united Indonesia?

One friend who happened to be a member of parliament (at the time) once challenged us:
"If, by breaking up, the people of Indonesia can actually prosper, would you think it's a good idea?"

Tough question.

But to us that is not the real question.

The real question is this:
If we broke up into smaller countries, will we prosper? Are we going to be better-off?

We hate our answer but we will write it here anyway.
We don't think so.

Why not? Singapore is a small country, with almost no natural resources. They can pull it off. Why can't we? And we have abundant natural resources!

Because Singapore has never been under the corrupt dictatorships of Suharto.
We, on the other hand, have. Way too long. And with that, a corrupt culture was shaped. At least one generation grew up watching a corrupt government stealing people's money and got away with it. Needless to say, bad moral & ethics education flourished. It was so bad it brought the country down into one of the most corrupt on the planet.
Yes, we are corrupt. Yes, we. Us. Ourselves. Not the country. The people. Calling our country with different names and having different flags will not change that.

Breaking Indonesia into smaller countries will only create smaller rent-seeking kings or queens, or shoguns, or whatever you want to call it. We don't need a breakup to have a taste of it: Didn't you hear all the scandals occurred after the decentralization?

Belgium can afford a divorce. Its people are well-off. Even after they failed to create a government since June, public service still works: the trains still runs on time, garbage is collected, the mail is still delivered. [5] How is this possible? Good governance.

We, Indonesians, can't afford a divorce and arguably are better-off staying together.
Because we are poor.
We are poor because we can't even get our act together and create a clean government.
And without a culture of clean governance, a divorce will just make us even poorer.

So as long as we are poor, we might as well stay together.
Misery loves company.

And oh, enjoy the waffle while it is still Belgian. You may not enjoy it as much when it is called Walloons or Flemish waffle...

[1] Belgium, on Wikipedia
[2] International Herald Tribune, Sept 21, 2007, front page
[3] The Economist, Spet 8-14, 2007, page 12
[4] Antara - Kapuspen : Pembentangan Bendera RMS di Luar Perkiraan
[5] International Herald Tribune, Sept 21, 2007, page 3


Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about the papuans? maybe they would prefer to be poor but not under the rule of indonesia, to be more like timor leste, chaotic yet free :), unless every province get the same deal that nanggröe aceh darussalam got, which is unlikely.

have you guys thought about doing a poll on this?, just like what you used to do.

1:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't say it enough how much I appreciate this blog.

I've thought about the possibility of having a federation-based country, with bigger autonomy and all. But I've realized the problem is often rooted in the individuals that are in charge of making the decisions (usually local, smaller government/institution).

I guess it probably comes down to change in basic morality and platform. I've lost most of my hopes for "better leaders" in Indonesia, so the next best thing is to let go of the shackle and get the people proper education. It will be a hella slower process compared to having a Hugo Chavez (haha), but there ya go.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice but sad.

The one thing I regret is the rarity of your entries.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

some might say that smaller countries are have the opportunity to be less corrupt because it's easier to keep politicians accountable.

so i disagree, corruption and bad governance could well be a side effect of such a big 'united' indonesia.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somebody ever told me that Indonesia is just a country, not a nation. A nation develop from it's people and not push by a group of people or anything.
I thought your posting may add the reasons why Indonesia is not a nation.
And oh...I also agree with colson, I regret your rare posting...


1:41 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...

Roi & Colson,
thank you for the kind words. We're doing our best, over here. We all have jobs to do and at this point this is the best we can do.
Hopefully we can write more in the future.

Point well-taken. You're probably right. Being big may be a determining factor.
We should note however, that not all big-sized country is corrupt.
USA is huge, and yet it is fairly clean (at least up to bill clinton. Can't vouch for Dubya).
So one might think just being big is not an excuse.
We do agree with you: If indonesia was smaller, it's probably a lot easier to manage.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commenting anonymous 2nd: As an Indonesian, I have an increasing feel that we are NOT YET a nation. We as Indonesian feel as if we are in the same nation, but at the same time we feel that being together with people with different (and sometimes 'disturbing') customs is painful. Sometimes I think we Indonesian are in the similar situation as the German during the middle ages.

The main job of Indonesian leaders in the first line is then not to increase the welfare of the people but to protect them from vicious influences that may disturb the natural process to 'be as one'. Of course if the people themselves want to continue the big project called 'Indonesia'.

1:09 AM  

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