Monday, February 23, 2015

When all hopes fade away...

The last couple of months was like a long nightmare for many Indonesians. The year started with a gloomy note because of the crash of Indonesian Air Asia plane on its way from Surabaya to Singapore in the middle of December, killing everyone on board. Then other bad news followed, the President suddenly nominated a police general everyone knows as a corrupt and politically connected man, to be the new National Police Chief. Everyone was shocked. How could he make a blunder like this? Not just it was unthinkable a few months ago, when we were swooned by his charismatic low profile persona, but a blunder at this scale would have been detected if the media scrutinized him enough. But the media did not see it coming, so who made him do it? All kind of speculation wildly swirled around: how could he be so wrong in picking his nominee for one of the most powerful position in the country?

Lots of questions were asked, lots of pondering and reflective action were taken, and almost all end up with one big question: what should we do now?

As citizen, we did our part in the last big election: we elected a clean man, someone without a dark past, someone with hope and sincerity to bring the country forward. We monitor the election, guard our vote until it was all counted, but apparently, our political system was not ready. A man no matter how clean and sincere, can still be tangled in this ugly network of power and influence, and rendered to be weak, confuse and loosing direction.

Come to think of it now, after all this happened, I started to question my initial optimism about this country. I mean, who are we trying to fool? Indonesia wasnt the country we think we have when we elect this man. Yes, the election was fair and square; people who were thinking to cheat the vote's counting and manipulate the result were cornered when five IT experts who called themselves Pandawa (after the great heros in Mahabrata tales) found a way to crowdsource the count and let the public involved. Yes, the anticorruption commission were making high profile arrests and breaking old barriers to build a new public awareness of a cleaner Indonesia. Yes, there are many progress on the ground, where individual and communities trying to fix problems around them, using any tool they can found, off line and online.

But, again, it is still the old Indonesia where the power structure remained the same as the last 30-40 years. The people with power, a power that they unjustly collected by years of corruption and abuses during the dark age (the new order regime that oversaw Indonesia for three decades until the end of the 90s), are left untouch. They enjoyed and still enjoy, impunity. They become rich not through fair and just exchange in the market, but by clinging themselves so close to the power, to the dictatorship regime, and by helping invented and maintained the culture of corruption in our beaucratic system. They are not just conglomerats, but also technocrats, lawmakers, law enforcement officers, military generals, academicians, people from all walk of life, who gathered and piled their powers (influences, moneys, networks, etc) and reached their position today, from and during all those years.

They are the one who tried and still try now, to resist the change. They dont want the court to investigate past human rights abuses, they dont want the anticorruption commission to look into past scandals of money laundering and profit taking policies, they dont want the current economy and political system change to be more open, transparent and market-based so there can be more fair and equal opportunity for other citizen. They dont want everything to change, because they enjoy and getting benefit from this current model.

There was a time, not long ago when we saw the man who now become president as our saviour. Because we believe he is one of us, we thought he will understand us. We believe he will change everything so not only a few privileged people can reap the benefit from the vast resources of this country, but everybody, you and me, and especially the poor, people who have been neglected for so long. But, it looks like the old power robbed him from us, they hijacked him, and they made him do things he doesnt really want to do, or understand the impact. He has stop listening to the people, and start listening to the powerful, to the donor, to the magician who make money appear and gone with one stroke of pen.

So, what now? What can we do now? I suggest we do the same thing we have done in the last twenty years: lets go back to the bottom, to the base, to the grass root. Lets strengthen our base, support the grass root movement, empower the people at the bottom of the pyramids. For they are our only chance. If we want to overthrow the current structure, we need to have enlightened people in every corner, educated mind, bright mind, people with vision and compassion, that are willing to change their society for the greater benefit of the society itself, not for their own interest and self indulging needs.

Lets not believe that our fate, our future, the future of our kids, only depends on one man. He cant do anything if we dont let him do it. Lets change the system from bottom up, starting from you, yourself and the closest people around you.