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.

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


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't care about politic & i never vote. But your post actually encourage me to vote. thanks

2:58 PM  
Blogger Yuda said...

the problem with indonesia campaign is that every body can promise anything, and when he finally got elected, he can get away without bringing anything that he promise. Not even social punishment, cause our people is forgiving people, sigh.

Commenting on polygamy, remember our beloved ust. Aa Gym before he decided taking that path, he also the one who show off family before other thing. And now what?

People tend to change, whether or not he had power. So we never know we had choose the right decision or not before the result.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...


You have a very good point there.
We will never know if an elected official would go that path after he got elected.

But of course, using the AA Gym example, the public can 'punish' by not voting for that person again, just like how the public walked away from AA Gym. Now he's not as big celeb as he used to be.

But with election done every 5 years, the 'punishment' comes quite late. Democracy works, but slowly.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous anong said...

I think you missed this bit...

Itu kata beliau. Dan saya setuju. Saya yakin bila hal di atas terjadi pada anak kita, kita akan mati-matian mencegahnya. Kenapa standar yang sama tidak berlaku bagi Lutfiana Ulfa?

5:22 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...

Thank you. You're right. We missed a wee bit.
But we hope it did not affect the message intended.

1:32 AM  
Anonymous Andre A said...

why vote a party full of crooks just because there's ONE righteous person inside??
Assumptions and Conceptual thinking in the world has gone so wrong that you would be surprised to see what kind of crap gullibles actually fall for. The whole story spells nothing but hypocrisy, anyway i see it.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...


hypocrisy? Really?
What do you suggest our friend do to be an informed voter?

She couldn't decide and so she tried to inform and educate herself so she can make an informed decision. There is nothing wrong with that.

She looked for information that is important for her and for people like her. There is nothing wrong with that either.

Whoever she voted for is her business and the fact that she tried to educate herself about the people she voted for is a good thing. At least in our opinion.

Where is the hypocrisy?

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Andre A said...

1. She's clearly against things her own religion holds dear.
2. She has an 11-year old which means she voted at least twice before. She can either a) vote for the same old BS, or b) not vote at all. Indecisiveness is usually traits first-timers possess. Her story sounds like a sloppy work of fiction.
3. Promises from the political parties cannot be accounted for and there's a sense of reluctance from media to single out guilty individuals.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...


1. Just because she has her own opinion that is not in agreement with her religion does not make her hypocritical. It means she is honest to herself.

2. Just because she already voted twice before this does not mean this time around she can easily choose. One of us here is almost 60. He too found it difficult to choose.

So when you say "Indecisiveness is usually traits first-timers possess" you really don't know what you are talking about.

Try to read more topics on this two words: swing voters.

A sloppy work of fiction?
leaving comment is one thing, accusing her of lying is another.
This is an insult.
Please remember that she did not write it for us to read. She wrote it to share it only with her friends. We found what she wrote compelling and that is why we asked her permission to post it here.
Fiction? who has the time?

3. Did you just say there's a sense of reluctance from media to single out guilty individuals?

Really? Reluctance?
That probably depends on what you read or listen or watch.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Andre A said...

1. Definition of religion: : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.
Definition of hypocrite: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.
Just because a lot of people does the wrong thing, it doesn't make doing the wrong thing right.

2. Maybe i didn't make my point clear enough. Voting has been degraded to a level of choosing the lesser of evil instead of choosing the right leader. If you're 60, by now you would've realized that politicians has little means or even simple will of keeping their promises because of the inability of one party to get majority support. Conclusion: politicians = liars. in a nutshell, we're choosing the liar that will not screw us up instead of choosing a leader that should be doing their job.

3. You didn't know?? I read Kompas btw and i've yet to see a headline that reads "Megawati breaks promise to lower prices" or the various promises SBY failed to keep during his 2004 campaign ??

3:28 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...

1. She believes what she thinks is right and she is sticking to it, and you call that hypocritical. If you say so. You are entitled to your opinion and we don't have to agree with you.

2. To call all politicians as liars is just as irresponsible as thinking they are all honest.
It's not perfect and it will never be. So get real.
Or better yet: Stay cynical and grumpy and see if it takes you anywhere.

3. Learn to read between the lines. The devil is in the detail. Not the headlines. After all, how do you end up thinking all politicians are crooks, if not from information provided by the media?

Seems like the media has served you well so far...

10:53 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...

To Andre,

we did receive your comment with a link. Unforunately we cannot visit that link because our office blocks it. (Therefore we cannot display it here.)

Here is a suggestion: if you have anything more to say, why don't you write it in your own blog? After that, if you want our comment, you can email us and we'll drop by.

That way you can be free to call anybody hypocrite, accuse people's work as fiction, call all politicians liars...

(and see if anybody actually cares).

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Hadi said...

WOW. I read your book and instantly got taken by your writings that i bought a copy. I thought of opening views of genuine mind(s) behind it.

that before i read your comments here. pissed off and attacking visitor?

learning from your words, writing is one thing, being commented (or for a sensitive person, attacked) is another. No any of you a pejabat or pensiunan pejabat here, right? ;)

7:04 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...


Thank you, and no, we are not pissed off at all at any comment.
And we are not attacking anybody.
In fact, we are the one being insulted.
We tried to be civil when the commenter called our friend hypocrite. That's fine. As we said, everybody is entitled to own's opinion.

And we responded with courtesy. But then our post is called a sloppy work of fiction, and then all politicians are called liars...

This kind of comment will not bring anybody any good.

So we drew the line. We don't appreciate such attitude here, so why not write it elsewhere.

Commenting is one thing, insulting is another, and we are sure people can see the difference.

We always welcome constructive criticism. Let's make things better. We can argue without being offensive.

Sorry if you got a wrong impression after reading the comments.
We hope this clears the matter, and thank you for buying the book.

We really hope you enjoy it.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Hadi said...

You said it, people can see the difference. Indeed. I'd say people reading your blog must be able to see whose among positive, cynical and counter-cynical :).

And yes, I enjoyed the book. I'd recommended it be on should-buy list.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...


We are very happy to know you enjoyed the book. And thank you so much for recommending it to others.

8:35 PM  

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