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, May 28, 2009

One Woman, One Mind, One Vote

(A friend of a friend wrote this in a social networking site. We translate, edit and publish it here with her permission. We added the footnote to make sure all sources are cited. A slighty more original version in bahasa Indonesia can be found at our other blog here.)

Dear friends,

It's such a relieve to finally cast my vote in the election.
A relieve because before this I did not even know which political party to vote for!

I was so confused I ended up going around asking for advice. I asked my husband, my mom, my neighbours. My husband said "Just pick based on their plans. Their programmes. What they have to offer." One neighbour said the same thing: "Just choose the one that is good for the country..."

That's easier said than done. Maybe I am stupid, but if I chose based on what they offer in the campaign, then they are all pretty much the same. Copy and paste. They all say they will work for the people, will eradicate corruptions, bla bla bla.
How do you choose?

Until one day I happened to speak with my Mom on the phone.
She said "Don't think too much. Just think what's important for you."

What's important for me?

"Yes, start with you. Yourself. As a woman, a wife, and a mother of one."

That made me think. What's important for me? Gee, that's not very helpful.

Tired of thinking, I spaced out for a while, and slowly my thought flew elsewhere.

First, I remember one news I read some months ago. A name popped up in my mind: Lutfiana Ulfa.
Remember her? A 43 year old man named Pujiono Cahyo Widanto aka Syekh Puji, who calls himself a Kyai (Islamic teacher [1]) is in the news for marrying a 12 year old girl, Lutfiana Ulfa, although it is against the law UU Tahun 1974 on Marriage [2].

I have an 11 year old daughter. That time, after I read the news I went to hold my daughter and I cried.

In the internet I read that a member of National Commission on Violence against Women, Kiai Husein Muhammad said such thing should not be allowed. It is againsts Islamic teaching. Islam protects women and not the other way around [3].
I agree.

So I search some more: Is there any political figure who openly condemned such act? I found one: The chairman of Commission VIII DPR Said Abdullah said this is not a matter of religion. This is a matter of lust [4]. Which party is he from? PDIP.

Meanwhile DPR Vice Chairman Hilman Rosyad Syihab said based on religion, health, psychology and sociology point of view, it is not a problem [5].
Which party is he from? PKS.


From that my thought jumped to another matter that always stays in the back of my mind: My neighbour, whose husband left her to marry another woman. I saw with my own two eyes how her world suddenly fell apart.

Ah yes, that again. Questioning polygamy. No, I don't intend to participate in the for or against polygamy argument. Trust me, it is very very difficult for a muslim woman like me, to be against something that my religion actually allows.

But if someone asked me: "If your husband were going to get a second wife, will you let him?"
My answer would be: No. Over my dead body.
And I believe any woman who has the option to say no, will give the same answer.
That's just my opinion, because I am a woman and a wife.

Then I read the news about an NGO releasing a list of candidates in the election, who are allegedly practicing or are supporters of polygamy [6]. Responding to this release, one political party hotshot said that making a fuss about polygamy "does not sell and will not affect the result of the election" [7].

Oh really? Is that so? Hmmm....

Sure we can argue that it is a personal matter and we should not mix personal matters with political matters. But in my opinion, when I vote for a leader, I expect someone who are willing to sacrifice for the sake of the people. If that sacrifice took shape in having to stick with just one wife, is that so difficult? Surely not as difficult as having to wage a guerilla war in the jungle while suffering from tuberculosis like our war hero Gen. Sudirman [8] !

Looks like my Mom was right.
"Start with you. What's important for you."

On election day, I walked to the voting booth with my mom's words echoing in my head.

My point is this:
When I voted based on what I think is important for me, I voted because I think such matters is also important for other people who are like me.

When I am in the voting booth, everything that political parties said during the campaign, in television, radio, newspapers and posters, is no longer in my head. It's out the window. What's left are matters that are close to me. Close to my life.

Yes, they can promise prosperity, jobs, economic growth, and fight against corruption. Sure, it is important. It's great. But if I had to choose based on that, then all political parties are just the same.

In the meantime my mind went to my neighbour whose husband abandoned her, and to Lutfiana Ulfa, an underaged girl whom a middle-aged guy who calls himself religious would marry.

Yes, those things are important for me. Because I am a woman. I am a wife. And because I have an 11 year old daughter.
But what's important for me is not necessarily important for some hotshots at some political parties. It's no big deal for them to ignore one voice from one stupid woman such as I am.

They have the right to ignore me.
But I too have the right not to vote for them to represent me.
My vote is not a gift. I cast my vote with a hope that they will fight for me and for people like me.

Yes, one vote from one woman probably means nothing.
But they should remember: In Indonesia, there are millions of us and we all can think.


[1] WIkipedia: Kyai
[2] Kompas: Kasus Syekh Puji Bukan Semata Nikah Siri
[3] Detik: Kiai Husein Muhammad: Tidak Boleh Terjadi Nikah di Bawah Umur dan Nikah Siri
[4] Detik: DPR: Ini Bukan Persoalan Agama, Tapi Syahwat
[5] Detik: Anggota DPR: Tak Masalah Asal Semua Tercukupi
[6] Detik: 21 Nama Caleg Pelaku dan Pendukung Poligami Versi SPI
[7] Detik: Anis Matta: Itu Isu Nggak Laku, Soekarno Saja Masih Banyak Pendukungnya

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Much ado about nothin'

A bunch of Muslim clerics in East Java "are seeking ways to regulate online behavior in Indonesia, saying the exploding popularity of social networking sites like Facebook could encourage illicit sex" [1].

Oh, please.

Anybody still wonders why Islamic parties are losing votes in the recent election?


Eskimo: "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to Hell?"
Priest: "Not if you did not know."
Eskimo: "Then why did you tell me?"

(Annie Dillard)

[2] Wikiquote - Annie Dillard

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Politics, Spare Tire and Baggage

"Vice presidency is like a spare tire. It has no power to do anything." said Prabowo's henchman at the Gerindra party [1].

But that was a week ago. This week, apparently it is ok for Prabowo to be a spare tire in Megawati bandwagon, and it will be made official on May 24 [2].

People, however, have not forgotten about his past.

"His past? You mean his crime against humanity thing?" asked one friend.

Now hang on a minute. We are not defending Prabowo, but if he is at all charged for this crime, we certainly have not found the information to support it. (but we stand corrected). 

"Isn't there an arrest warrant out there somewhere?" 

Actually, no. 
There is however an arrest warrant against Wiranto, issued by The Serious Crime Unit (SCU) of the East Timor General Prosecutor's Office [3]. Not by the UN nor ICC. So folks, this is not the same as the warrant issued by the ICC against for example the president of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir [4].

We are not saying Prabowo or Wiranto are saints. We are just making an effort to get the facts straight.

So Prabowo has nothing to worry about.

Except for the stories from the past that will keep resurfacing:

The British paper Guardian in 1999 wrote:
"US trained butchers of Timor: Specific commanders trained under the US programme have been tied to the current violence and to some of the worst massacres of the past 20 years, including the slaughter at Kraras in 1983 and at Santa Cruz in 1991. The US-trained commanders include the son-in-law of the late dictator General Suharto, Prabowo Subianto and his mentor, General Kiki Syahnakri" [5]

The UNHCR in 1998 published an update that said:
"in July, a military tribunal held Prabowo accountable for the much-publicized abduction and torture of several opposition and student activists and discharged him from the Armed Forces. By the end of the summer, evidence that Prabowo and his allies had instigated the violent anti-Chinese riots in mid-May in Jakarta also began to surface." [6]

And one more: Mr Prabowo has been denied visa to enter USA. For life. That's according to Robert Gelbard, former US ambassador to Indonesia and foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama [7]

This means (if it is not changed), he can never set foot on american soil. Ever. (that would include unable to visit the UN headquarter in NY. But hey, that's the president's job. Vice president stays at home and be - oh, well - spare tire.) 

[Correction : As host, the United States is obligated under U.N. rules to approve visas to foreign leaders no matter their relations with the United States, and no one has ever been barred [9]. Thank you Silverlines.]

Megawati may embrace Prabowo with a hope that he can boost her to the forefront of the presidential race. But with such history, her spare tire may also become a heavy baggage.

However, speaking of baggage, we end this post by leaving you with a cutting from the Jakarta Post, commemorating the May 1998 riot:

"Both the government's fact-finding team (TGPF) and the rights body's team are of the same opinion that the riots involved intelligence personnel and that someone had hired the rioters.
The rights body's investigation team said current Golkar presidential candidate Gen. (ret) Wiranto, then the Indonesian Military (TNI) chief, Prabowo and the Democrats' Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, then the TNI chief of territorial affairs, were three of dozens of military and police officers who were responsible for security at that time. [8]

The stupid neither forgive nor forget; 
the naive forgive and forget;
the wise forgive but do not forget.

Thomas Szasz


Thursday, May 14, 2009

We're old

And hence we forget things.
With all the excitement of having published a book, we forgot to mention a friend who has made it possible.

Without him, this blog will just be a little blog in the corner of cyberspace.
Thanks to him, now it is also a little book in the corner of a bookshop.
(We did mention and thank him in the book, but we thought we should mention him here too, so here it is).

He is Isman H. Suryaman, our editor. If you see proper Bahasa Indonesia in there, that's his hardwork at play. If you see bad grammar, that's our ego resisting.

Without his hardwork this book will never see the light of day. 

The title of the book, Kopi Merah Putih, was his idea as well.
(He probably came up with it after he rolled his eyes reading our silly suggestions for a title.)

So thank you, Isman. We know you do not need this (and probably do not enjoy the spotlight), but we thought this is the least we can do to thank you for all that you have done for us.

And sorry we forgot to write about you a lot earlier. 
But we're old. So we have an excuse.

By the way, you -- our beloved reader -- can follow Isman's footprints on the web by checking out his blogs below:
The fool has landed (very very funny)
Bertanya atau mati (also really funny, in bahasa Indonesia)

He also published a few excellent books himself. among them are:

And yet he modestly calls himself "a former professional bus-chaser and a common office fodder"... 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Shrinking and Drowning

What do you know. Global warming may cause Indonesia to shrink, like a wool sweater in a tumble dryer.

With the rise of the sea level, it is said that 8 of 92 Indonesia's outmost small islands are vulnerable. They are Kepala, Dolangan, Manterawu, Fani, Fanildo, Brass, Laag and Nipah islands.

Although small, they are important: They serve as baselines for Indonesian sea territory. So if one of this island disappeared, we can no longer use its coast as a base.
(Nipah island is a base to draw the border with Singapore).

How bad is it? One survey in 2004 shows that the total area of Nipah island is about 73.6 ha during low tide. On high tide, we are looking at a mere 1.8 ha.

That was a survey in 2004. Meanwhile the sea level goes up 1 - 8 mm per year.
 We probably do not have to wait long to see Nipah island completely drowned on high tide.

Jakarta is not looking good either. And not just because of the rise of sea level. We Jakartans use ground water so much it causes the ground to sink 1 - 10 cm per year (depending on the areas).

That, plus a rising sea level: not a good combination.

"That's the government's fault" says one friend. "If the government can provide clean water, then the population won't use ground water."

Ah, yes. That again. But apparently it is not that simple:

"Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, gets drinking water from the Citarum Dam. Under extreme dry years, the water level at Citarum Dam may go down to a level of less than 75m. Under this condition, the water pump at the dam can not be operated and supply of water to processing the plant will stop..."

And with global warming, we will have longer and longer dry season.

So looks like in the near future we'll keep using ground water, and we will keep on sinking.
And the sea level keeps rising.

What does this mean?

"A sea level rise of about 0.25, 0.57 and 1.00 cm per year the total area of north Jakarta being inundated by flood in 2050 would be about 40, 45 and 90 km2 respectively, and this will increase further if land subsidence continues."

"A similar study also indicated that when sea level increases by about 0.5m and land subsidence continues, parts of six sub-districts of North Jakarta and Bekasi will be permanently inundated. In North Jakarta the sub-districts include Kosambi, Penjaringan and Cilincing, and in Bekasi they are Muaragembong, Babelan and Tarumajaya."

Not exactly the kind of  'waterfront' real estate we have in mind.

Doom and gloom?  Is there anything us common folks can do?

Sure. Let's start by saving water. Do not let water running while brushing our teeth.Take a shower instead of a bath. Don't run the washing machine half empty.  Use it sparingly when washing our car. 

And check the house for leaks.

Water is expensive. Just because we got it from the ground does not mean it did not cost us more than the electricity we use to run the pump.

Remember this when the flood comes.


MoE. 2007. Indonesia Country Report: Climate Variability and Climate Change,
and their Implication. Ministry of Environment, Republic of Indonesia, Jakarta.

Asian Development Bank - The Economics of Climate Change in Southeast Asia: A Regional Review.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

This can't be right

But it is.
With humility we present to you our first book, published by Gramedia Pustaka Utama.
It's in Bahasa Indonesia, so our sincere apology to our english-speaking readers.

in keeping with this blog's tradition of being non-profit, net income from the book's royalty (if it sells, that is!) will be directed to charitable activities in education.

Already available at Gramedia bookstores.

Kopi Merah Putih

ISBN: 978-979-22-4529-5
PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama

A bit more description about the book can be found here (in Bahasa Indonesia)