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.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

God's will?

It's God's will, some say. And we hear this time and time again when disaster strikes (such as the recent earthquake that took way too many lives.)

It's God's will, some say.
Sure, some of us Indonesians (if not most of us) are religious in one way or another. So respecting God's will is an instinctive response.

It's God's will.

Is it?
OK, earthquake is a natural phenomenon, but if we really look at it, it's not the earthquake that killed most of our folks there. It's the landslides that followed the earthquake.
And the crumbling building: The crumbling schools, hospitals, houses...

We may not be able to predict earthquake, but we can calculate the risk of landslide ahead of time.

We cannot prevent earthquake, but we can prevent our schools from crashing down on our children by building them stronger.

So no. Sorry. It's not God's will. Not yet.
If we ride a motorcycle without a helmet and then crash and crack our head, who's fault is it?
Are we going to blame it on God too?

Please do not get us wrong. We are not questioning the greater power, and we are not saying that it is wrong to be religious. No.

We are just trying to point out that some deaths that occurred after the earthquake are actually preventable. And it is our fault that we failed to do so. Not God's.

After the earthquake in Jogja, when people were starting to rebuild, there were some talks on how to build an earthquake-proof house. A stronger structure that if not withstand the average earthquake, at least stay together long enough to give time for the people inside to get out.

Some also say that it actually does not cost more, especially if we build the house from scratch, as many people in Jogja had to do anyway at the time, since their houses were destroyed.

Days and months passed by since then. And what happen in the end?
People rebuild the houses the same way they did before. It's the same old.
So if another earthquake strikes the area again (God forbid), the same thing will happen again.

And again.
And again.

Read this news:
The number of schools damaged and destroyed because of the earthquake in West Sumatra is 1.929 [1]. The news is dated October 6, 2009.

And now read this:
An earthquake of 5.8 Richter scale in West Sumatra has destroyed 295 schools, killing three teachers and four students [2].
When is this? March 9, 2007. More than two years ago.

And again.
And again.

And that's God's will?

If we failed to prevent the preventable, it's our own fault.

We do preventive measures all the time: We took vaccination. Wear helmet. Seatbelt. We use antibacterial soap. We work out and eat our vegetables.

We do them to prevent bad things from happening to us.

But somehow when it comes to building our houses, our hospitals, our schools we just don't think that far.

It's not ok to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, but we can get away with building schools with shoddy structures.

And when the earth started moving, our schools crumbled, killing our children, we say it's God's will.


Sure, having stronger buildings will not prevent casualties 100%.
Sure, when it is time to go it is time to go.

But when's the last time we hear an earthquake killing thousands in Japan? This is a country with daily earthquakes. is that God's will, or is it because the Japanese decided to have enough with the deaths and started building better structures to withstand the tremor?

Clearly, there is a way to prevent the worst.

So enough with it already.
When it is our fault, it is our fault.
It's nothing we cannot fix.

If we fix it right, when another earthquake occurs in the future (and it will), the news hopefully will be a short one: Earthquake, 8 richter scale. No casualty. No major damage.

Now that's God's will.

[1] Republika - Gedung Sekolah Rusak Akibat Gempa 1.929 Unit
[2] Detik - Gempa Sumbar, 295 Sekolah Rusak, 3 Guru dan 4 Siswa Tewas


Anonymous colson said...

A pleasure to read.

Though I don't know much about God's will I'm damned sure this is one of a hell sensible, sober and matter-of-fact post. With only one tiny catch perhaps: the second or third economy of the world ( Japan) can spend the money it takes to be sensible on this issue much easier than Indonesia can.

9:08 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...


Thank you.
What you pointed out is of course very true. We don't have the money Japan has.

Although maybe if there is not so much corruptions, we could have done a lot more.

12:25 AM  
Anonymous rima fauzi said...

I was going to post a comment here, but then I decided to make a post about it. You can read it by clicking my name. And I thought you guys are really nice and levelheaded with this post. Wish I could do the same..

4:33 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...


Thank you. It's good that your comment can become a post in your own blog.
This post actually was started as a comment one of us made at Rob's blog.

We like to think this is what blogging is about.

We've read your post. You are really angry aren't you? :)

4:52 PM  
Anonymous rima fauzi said...

I am not an angry person, but when it comes to ignorance and stupidity (which is ironic seeing that I'm not that open minded and smart) of the Indonesians and/or Indonesian members of the government, my anger has quite a reputation among Indonesian bloggers.
And yeah, Rob just commented about his SBY=natural disaster post..

5:03 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...


There is nothing wrong with being angry, you have the right to be.
We think all Indonesians are angry, and we all express it in many different ways.

It's better to say something rather than accepting everything and calling it God's will.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous indahs said...

Sincerely, Indonesians need better understanding on oceanography & geology to understand that earthquakes in Indonesia has nothing to do with god's will. At least basic knowledge is needed.. ;) Furthermore, it is important to note that human factors could trigger these disasters as well. We'd better stop littering our rivers with garbage, cutting down trees, etc, etc. I don't think these instructions do not exist in any holy books, but indeed will help our mother earth, where we live in!

BTW, I read Rima's blog before yours ;)

11:58 PM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...


That is a very good point.

2:13 AM  
Anonymous kamil said...

IA, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

If only this is the kind of things they talk about at Friday sermon, before Solat Jum'at.

One thing to add, though, I'm sure that when you mention "stronger" construction/building, you meant better work in general (which I agree). Although I just have to point out that our architecture is looking towards the West a bit too much, especially in terms of the use of concrete etc. There is an argument and trend for going back to light construction that adheres to the local condition of Indonesia, especially among local young architects. I thought that could interest you guys.

6:18 AM  
Blogger Indonesia Anonymus said...

hi Kamil,

that's a very good point.
If you could give us more info about this lighter construction that Indonesia's young architect are working on, links to site, or to the news about this, we would be very grateful.

2:50 PM  

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