Category Archives: MY INDONESIA

Posts about my country Indonesia

The Old Times

Time, have surely change. If 20 years ago, when I was 13 years old, my parents got mad at me, it was because I didn’t come home straight after school, but went to my friend’s house instead, to hangout and play basketball until 6 or 7 PM. But yesterday, my nephew got into a terrible fight with his dad, because he came home at 9 PM, and admitted he had been at his friend’s house after school, browsing and playing games, on the internet.

Twenty years ago, instead of spending hours and hours staring at a computer screen pretend to carry a gun and shooting terrorists through an internet-connected games, I spent hours playing basketball under the hot sunshine, and fell down, hurt my legs under the rain. From hanging around in my friends’ house, I’ve made more new friends whom I know face to face and introduced myself through a handshake instead of sending a “buzz” or a “ping” in the messenger applications.

Apparently, for some people, “change” can not be embraced in a positive way, including my 22 year old nephew “Nina” who recently got her diploma degree in midwifery. Her mother, a principal for a public-elementary school in the village of Condong, Probolinggo, East Java, who is also a PNS (civil employee) insisted that Nina should become a PNS and start working as a midwife in the nearest village. Nina’s mother have already prepared IDR 125,000,000 to pay the local government officials to “secure” her daughter’s position in the PNS “industry.”

She was pretty angry when Nina refused this plan and wanted to continue  studying in Surabaya, to get a Bachelor Degree and joins a program to become a lecturer. Nina’s mother told me, “I don’t understand Nina, she has this dream to educate other people because Indonesia is very poor when it comes to education. While for me, her dream is useless because she lives in Indonesia!”

This particular clash between a mother and her daughter is very rare, especially in villages of East Java. Everyone “adores” PNS and will do everything they can to be one. They invested their money in cows, gold jewelries, rice fields, and plantation, just to sell them all one day in order to pay government officials and seal-the-deal for a PNS status. Nina’s parents have already done this 2 years ago, when Nina’s older sister graduated from college and became a midwife (with a PNS status) at a nearby Puskesmas (village hospital).

Some things from the old times were much better than today, but the great PNS status is definitely not one of them. As for Nina, she will have to keep fighting her own mother, and repeatedly saying, “I don’t care about the PNS status. I can find my own money which I earn with dignity” which should make a mother proud, although in her case it was completely the opposite.

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So Very (Too) Fresh – College Graduates

One of the female staff in my office is 7,5 month pregnant. She is the secretary for administration department. Pretty soon she will deliver and we will need a temporary staff working for 3 months during my friend’s maternity leave.

pregnant, and working

We have received some applications and currently we have picked three female candidates to fill her spot. They all came from highly reputable university in Surabaya, and some of them are fresh graduates. Today, I have the privilege to watch all three of them doing an interview with my boss.

The first candidate, graduated from Airlangga University in International Studies, and continued management program at University of Surabaya, where she earn her post-graduate degree. She’s only 26 years old but already have an “M. M.” title behind her name. To complete our fascination, she also have a “3-point-something” GPA. But to my surprise, she showed up in something that I can’t understand, until my boss said, “her academic achievements does not match her appearance and working abilities.”

I thought to myself, “Girl, you might be smart, but you need to know that those outfit you wear, might be suitable for college, but not for work!

The second candidate, just finished her final assignment in the faculty of Communication and Public Relation at Petra University. She looks nice, confident, and friendly. I thought my boss will choose her instantly, but I was wrong.

“She might came from a very expensive university and her major is communication but she have no idea how to be engaged in an English conversation…” said my boss.

What ??? Doesn’t know how to speak or write English?

The third candidate, currently a stay-at-home mommy who graduated from University of Airlangga, majoring in International Study. Two-point-something GPA, used to work as Guest Relation Officer in several hotels, good appearance, fluent in English, but… showed up late for more than an hour..

During her lateness, she vanished from the face of the earth, we were unable to contact her mobile phone and local number. She finally showed up, looking good and did well in the interview. But punctuality is something that my boss (and pretty sure all companies) consider very important.

So my boss is kinda angry and feel a bit disappointed today. For a position that is relatively simple, an administration staff to manage office expenses and e-mails, all three candidates doesn’t have the very basic skills we needed: (1) Good appearance, (2) English capabilities, and (3) Computer skills (Microsoft Office Word, Excel, and e-mailing).

Yet, let me remind you that all of them came from a very reputable universities, have high GPAs, and were pretty actively involved in their university organizations.

Another bitter reality for me, considering all of them have spent enormous amount of (their parents’) money but are not ready to make (money) on their own. This surely is a valuable lesson for me as a parent. And this is one fact that must be deeply, thoroughly, think about, for all of you studying in college right now.

Are you sure you’re going to get a job easily after you graduate, or are you just like most college graduates who does not have any idea on how to prepare yourself in order to be ready for work?

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Don’t Go To College, If …

Found a very interesting article this morning from @rudicahyo, about the importance of high education. If Bob Sadino thinks it’s unnecessary to study as high as college, James Altucher even instructed parents NOT to send their kids to college.

Whether college is important or not, the fact is, not all brilliant, rich, and creative people today are college-graduates.

He didn't finish Harvard, one lucky bastard! (Google Images)

So dear fellow parents, or parent-to-be(s), or even those of you who are still in school, or college, do you agree? Before answering that difficult question, why don’t you try to answer this first?

do you know what are you going to do with you life?

If you have a solid determination on what you want to be, a scientist, a doctor, a lawyer, or whatever occupation you have in mind, obviously you MUST go to college to earn more knowledge about the subject of your choice. This is where Mario Teguh, Marissa Haque, or whoever believed that “college will make your life better” is correct. And you can stop reading this blog. 😀

But if you were like me, who went to college because you thought “what else should I do? Everyone else is going, so I think I better go too,” .. you better take some time to think again, stop wasting your parents’ money.

I use to be determined. I had a clear image on what I want to do with my life. I want to be an architect, I want to design houses, buildings, etc. But after it became impossible, I just went along with whatever was there in front of me.

Then everything started to fell apart. I was going nowhere. Without a solid determination on what I want to do with my life, and how I want my future to be, I have no directions. College becomes boring, because I have no idea what to do with all these subjects that I’m learning. I didn’t feel any satisfaction, and attending classes felt like a heavy burden for me.

If you feel the same way, perhaps you should quit for a semester, and rethink your decision through. Perhaps you’re like Mark Zuckerberg, or James Altucher, or everyone else who thought that college is a waste of time and money, and would have succeed in other areas.

If you’re a high school graduate, and can’t decide whether to apply to college or not, here’s my advice to you:

1) Ask yourself what am I going to do with my life? What do I want, what are things that makes me happy, WHAT sort of activities is going to give me satisfaction? What are the things I’m actually good at?

2) Ask yourself again, “Will college going to help me achieve that goal?” If so, what major? What university provides the subject?

You need to set the goal first, then the “how-to-get-there” later. It’s not the other way around. Apparently, most of us were trapped in enjoying high school too much that we forgot to set our goals immediately, and waited for them to appear after we applied to universities.

Now do you still think that it’s necessary to go to college? Do you know what is it you want to do with your life?

What is it?

Will, or is, going to college going to help you achieve that purpose?

Good luck.

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Life Is Tough, Kids!

I was so busy lately and have missed two important news: (1) Death of Jon Bon Jovi, and (2) Punk kids got arrested in Aceh by the Sharia police. The first news was a hoax (Thank God!), but the second one isn’t. I didn’t get a clear understanding of what’s happening with those (so called “Punk” kids) in Aceh, until my friend Fika wrote it on Blog IMO.

Turns out they were labelled as “punk” because they have this mohawk hair-style, wore dirty clothes, and were attending punk-rock music concert. A very shallow interpretation of punk indeed, to my snobby opinion. I’m not an expert,  but as a former musician who played in several indie bands myself, I tend to believe that:

The term “Punk” itself have a deeper and more valuable meaning beyond what-you-wear and what-music you listen to.

You must start from the inside, use it as a way of life, it directs you on how to think, how to be independent, and how to survive. Keep doing the things you like, but never forget your responsibility. I never adore the idea of showing-off a particular style to state a certain identity, I’d rather show myself on stage playing with my band. Doing the things I like, instead of following what others like.

I just hope that all those kids who got arrested were not just a “punk outside but a coward inside.” But I wouldn’t bet either that those kids truly understands what the punk ideology really means. More likely, they’re just following what their friends are doing. And while other kids are trying to compete with each other in a positive way, showing off their achievements, making their parents proud, these kids were letting the days passes by without actually received anything valuable. Again, it’s just my super-snobby opinion, pardon me. I feel bad for the parents, who struggle to create a future for these kids!

Life is tough, kids. You got your hair shaved off, your body immersed to the river, and detained for days. You know now religion has nothing to do with making people nice, kind, and fair. If you’re trying to figure out which part of “looking like a punk” is contradictory to Islamic laws, well, I have the same question myself. But life isn’t fair (and will never be) and that’s why we have to fight. And you don’t just fight by wearing punk-style clothing, you fight with your work, your creations. Make songs, be a lawyer, study politics and be the next president if your dare!

In the mean time, try to stay out of Aceh.

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It’s The Culture, Stupid..

When I was a kid, I grew up with my dad yelling around the house saying bad things about our government, every time our TV changed to a speech by Harmoko. And during national elections, I always asked “Mom, which are your going to pick? Red, green or yellow again?” to my mom, who then answered “Definitely yellow, I’m a PNS (civil employee) and therefore must choose yellow.”

Long story short, 20 years later and I’m still the same girl who hate this country, along with its stupid, hypocritical government.

There’s a big chance that I’m going to do what my father did (spreading hatred towards the government), so that my son can grow up without relying on anyone (especially our government) for his success. But nevermind the government, because they’re a bunch of idiots trying to make themselves rich by any means, and thought that praying 5 times a day is enough to secure a place in heaven, even though they’re doing things that are worse than a thief or a prostitute.

One more thing that I don’t get in this country is pride. I have been pretty amused by how intense this cultural thing has influenced everyone to do whatever it takes in order to pursue it. A parent does not have a health-care saving for their child, but instead of riding an old motorcycle, they prefer to buy a new one which cost + 10 million rupiahs (in cash), or pay it in installment of + Rp 500,000,-/month, for 36 months (3 years). Health insurance of Rp 200,000,-/month is considered expensive, but Rp 500,000,-/month to buy a new motorcycle when they already have an old one is not.

I even have a friend who is trapped in credit card debts of Rp 80 million, and still can afford to make another ‘hole’ by buying a car. She used her credit card to pay the down payment, and the rest will be paid by installment for 5 years. It’s one debt after another, and all she said was, “I can’t take my son to school with a motorcycle, it’s too far..” And since she is no longer running her own business, which means, that she is now a full-time housewife, I feel pity for her husband.

Waking up early in the morning and drag yourself out of bed to work sucks, it’s even worse if you are working in order to pay debts. But this isn’t just a fairy tale, it’s happening to a friend of mine who now have to work with a demonic boss just so that she can pay her debts. Why does she have those debts in the first place? Well, she just renovated her house, that’s why. She and her husband were trying to create a comfort home for their family, but then they spent too much and finally ended-up with thousands of million rupiahs in debt. Their home looks great now, but she doesn’t have time to enjoy her new-renovated home, because she left her home at 7 AM and returned at 9 PM, 6 times a week.

So it isn’t just the government who is full idiots, right? It’s our own culture which emphasizes on what we have that has pushed everyone to do whatever they can to be accepted, to have pride, and to earn acknowledgement from other people. And we all wish for corruption to end? For corruption to vanish, first we must create a new culture that eliminates materialistic-end-results as a source of pride. People want to have expensive things and they will do whatever they can, including believing that corrupted money is another form of “rejeki.”

This will continue to God knows how long. Why? Because nobody here gives a damn about where the money came from!

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The New SRI Party

Agree or disagree, the registration of a new political party with the name of “Union of Independent People” (Serikat Rakyat Independen) or SRI party, is a normal process in democracy. But why use a somewhat familiar name? Oh, right, they want to nominate former finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati (SMI) as president at the upcoming 2014 election. No official statement has been made from Sri Mulyani herself, but according to some, “when we’re talking about politics, not giving a comment means you have agreed.”

I thought SMI have had enough with our government, and wished to stay far away from politics. But perhaps she needs a more challenging role than just being the managing director of World Bank.

Is she a good candidate? Most people think so. But beyond SMI’s positive image and sympathetic figure, we need to learn from previous elections as well. Especially back in 2004, when we were introduced to a newly-established Democratic Party, who –at that moment– seemed to have captured the hearts of Indonesian voters.

Back then, I (and the rest of Indonesian voters) thought that SBY is going to bring this country out of its misery. But look at him now, look at the politicians of Democratic Party, and look at the present condition of our country under his leadership.

Obviously, being a-hundred-percent certain to vote for someone with a positive image, is NOT enough. We need to go beyond “who is this person running for President” and further investigate “who are the people behind this person.” Who is /are the people giving away their money to keep this party running, and what are their qualities? Because no matter how eligible a candidate is, their credibility and decision-making capacity will always be affected by other people in his/her supporting party.

I can only hope that SMI will not be supported by a bunch of politician and businessmen who have the tendency to disregard both ethical and legal considerations in order to seal a corrupted deal. The last thing we need right now is another party trying to steal the hearts of Indonesian voters with SMI as their weapon. If these people in SRI Party are serious, they need to start telling us who they really are. It’s gonna take more than just a figure like SMI to make us confident and vote, because thanks to the present ruling party, we have learned our lesson well.

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You, Me, and Corruption

Nelson Mandela once said, “It is what we make out of WHAT WE HAVE, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” And I agree, because for me, a real hero is someone who can liberate themselves using what they have in front of them, no matter how poor their conditions are. With a very limited resource such as poverty, sickness, and disabilities, these people are not ‘dreaming’ for changes, but they do something to change their own situation. And quite often, they eventually change other people’s lives too.

But yesterday when scrolling through my ‘freshly-made’ Google+‘ account and shared this article, I received a comment from a friend saying “the government sucks.” The article was taken from The Jakarta Post and it popped the question on whether or not ‘corruption’ can be considered as a good fortune (rejeki) by the people who were involved with it. I began to think, that maybe corruption is more than just a problem we have with the government, but perhaps it has touched our own culture and sub-conscious mind.

In order to make it disappear, perhaps we all need to think like Mandela. If we’re sick of corruption, we must start the fight with what we HAVE instead of waiting for the government to change. With poor implementation on our legal system, more fugitives are escaping to other countries and making excuses to the media. The last thing we need right now is for our ‘noble’ government to become an example. And surely, we don’t need their help to eliminate the “corrupted mind-set” which has grown in our culture.

What we need right now, is more people supporting each other to liberate themselves from the habit of ‘waiting for a change’ to start ‘creating a change.’ Sure, we all know that the government sucks, but instead of spreading posters on the social network to remind people about it, we definitely need something else inspiring and less provocative. If we want to create a brand-new generation, we have these heroes who have started their quest and succeed. They are our inspiration, and if we want to follow their path we better start by changing our own attitude and believe in our own capabilities. Just like what Dr Michael Leksodimulyo said, “everyone is born equal..”

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