People to People Dialog, At Least

People to People Dialog, At Least
People to People Dialog, At Least

Not so long ago, India and Pakistan (plus Bangladesh) were one country called Hindustan. And they got indepedent from British imperialism and come out as two countries: Pakistan and India popularly known as the painful Partition.

The once two nations had undergone at least three wars. Currently both are going nuclear which make this part of the world more dangerous. Although peace efforts has been made, there's no significant breakthrough in the foreseeable future. Wars are made by politicians, not by the people. No wonder when cricket--the most popular sport in the sub-continent--was played by the two nations in Pakistan (2004) for the first time in 14 years, both people of the two countries were so exited.

The Pakistanis, as the host nation, welcomed the Indian fans wholeheartedly, so much so that even the Indians delegations (the media, Indian team and fans) were very much surprised to the way the Pakistani people treated them. See for example, the restaurant owners where the Indian team were playing welcome the Indian fans with free foods, etc. The relations known as people-to-people contact now is getting better by the day.

What I'd like to say here is if the relation between the politicians of western countries and their counterparts in the Muslim countries are not in the best shape for various political reasons-- one of them written very vividly by my friend Ahmad Qisai in recent publication of the Jakarta Post-- then we should not follow what our respective government has been and is doing. Instead, the people to people ccontacts like what the Pakistanis and Indians has been doing deserve to be taken into account as a very good precedence. If the government cannot make us--the citizen of the world--closer to each other; then it's our own responsibility to take initiave towards peaceful coexistence. Parrotting what (bad things) the politicians have said and done is just gonna make things worst.

Having Dinner with Minister of Justice

On Dual Citizenship and the Expats

I just came back from Indonesian embassy (KBRI) New Delhi for a meeting with Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Hamid Awaluddin & his delegates who're attending a conference of AALCO or Asia Africa Legal Consultative Organisation (this time, we're all invited, thanks for that!) . As question & answer session is opened by Ambassador Donillo Anwar, I come first to ask three questions one of which regarding the possibility of Indonesia having dual-citizenship policy.

Unfortunately, the answer is unsatisfactory which is not worth mentioning. The bottom line is he--which mean current government-- doesn't have any plan to make such breakthrough policy. But he said, under his ministership, changes have been made or is underway on that regard so as to make life easier for everyone concerned.

For example, a non-Indonesian who gets married with an Indonesian woman will get permanent residentship in Indonesia. An investor will get at least three year permit visa and can extend it in Indonesia without any need to go abroad (Indonesian embassy) just to prolong their stay. An investor who invest to certain amount will get permanent residentship also. Some of the new regulations either has been made or is on the plan. But he assured us that'll happen. Any investor, including foreigner, will only need to ask permission to invest to provincial authority. There's no need to go through Jakarta.

Other two friends of mine, Qisai and Tylla, are questioning the security situation in Aceh, Freeport & Papua's asylum seeker issue and Cepu (oil). It seems to me, only on Aceh issue Mr. Awaluddin's response has a merit.

The Butcher of Europe: Slobodan Milosevic

When separate yet closely related atrocities under Slobodan Milosevic leadership against roughly 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and women occurred between 1999 to 2001 one would call that horrific tragedy with various different adjectives. (1) A genocide 'regrettably' done by an european ultra-nationalist; (2) An attrocities carried out by Christian terrorists of Europe.

When the attrocities happened, I was in my early days of study. I tended to call it then--like some Indonesian Muslims--as the latter." But after I started studying international politics, my understading towards particular happenings in other parts of the world are getting better.

I know now that such horrific cruelty could not have been done by any sane human. There are times when the craziness for power overwhelming any human conscience, the insanity and lust for power could do anything with any pretext possible to justify his/her acts; be it ethnicity, religiosity, nationalism, or whatever. Slobodan Milosevic against Muslims in the Balkans, Usamah bin Ladin against humanity (Muslims & non-Muslims in 9/11 twin tower attacks in New York), George Bush and Tony Blair in Iraq against the Arabs and Muslims, etc.

Do it first, and justify it later. There are many scholars--religious and secular alike-- in this world who are voluntarily and economically-motivated prepared to be the tools of greedy politicians. And the citizen of the world should not only take what they are writing in their op-ed pieces and voluminous books for granted. Our conscience should be the basic principle in judging any occurrence and phenomena. The credibility should not lie only on how many references in our writings are based on.

Speaking of Slobodan Milosevic, he's now no longer, died in an unknown cause of death as reported by CNN and BBC yesterday. Let's not hope he'll be alive again.

New Year Eve in India: a Flashback

Being in India during New Year Eve is not cool, so some new Indonesian students complain to me. Well, that's not without reason. Indians mostly not celebrating New Year. They have their own celebration called Diwali which is just as big as the way we're celebrating new year in Indonesia.

Usually, we celebrate New Year in KBRI (Indonesia Embassy) New Delhi by just playing cards, chess, etc while 'the moms' busy making barbeque (satai), etc. Now, during this two year, under the current ambassador Donillo Anwar, all are gone. Not only that, even panggung gembira 'ritual' to mark independence day is also gone.

From personal level, either way (celebrating or not) doesnt make any different. I used to see every single day as precious. Very precious. So, I dont see celebrating a farewell day of a year as significant, to say the least. Hence, why any need to celebrate, anyway? What the difference between now--the day-end of 2005--and tommorow--the beginning of 2006?

Having said that, i tend to celebrate on my own: by a bit making flashback to what I, personally and we, as a nation have been doing.

Talking about the nation, I see two most 'thrilling' policies the current government done make me feel that this year-end indeed is not the night to celebrate, for you who used to celebrate it: (a) the government policy on education--by pulling out the higher educational subsidies that led to sky-rocketing of university tuition fee; (b) the hike of BBM (petrol, gas, diesel, etc) which resulted in the hike of everything the people--the poor people--need most in their daily lives. All two policies just make things worst for Indonesian people.

Life gotta move on, anyway. And happy new year for those who stay up late tonight. The beautiful firework in the picture is for you. :)

Christmas Greeting from Indonesian Muslim

On this special day for all Christian brothers and sister, I, a Muslim, would like to greet you all A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2006

If peace and love prevail among all different religious followers, the world will become one. Humanity will be much better. Prosperity and fraternity among mankind will be the talk of our daily life.

There are a few segment and fraction of all religious followers who want to make the faith differences as a big issue, making the always-want-to-be-close instinct of human species evaporates.

This kind of tendencies should not be given any chance to grow as it is the evil in itself. Let any religious preference be a personal choice without interfering. Any single person knows what is best for him/her.

Again, Merry Christmas. Wish you all a prosperous life and peaceful heart in years to come.

Indian Media Cold Shoulder

Compared to our previous presidents state visits, President SBY arrival in India faced with a cold soulder by Indian media.

A week before president Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid arrival, some major Indian newspapers published special op-ed articles about Indonesia-India relation from historical perspectives and about Gus Dur himself known for his secular, pluralism way of thinking as well as a figure with international stature

Likewise, a week before president Megawati Sukarnoputri arrival even much more was written about her. On her being the daughter of Indonesia's founding father and first President of Indonesia Sukarno. President Sukarno significant role on the establishment of NAM (Non Alignment Movement) known in Bahasa Indonesia as Gerakan Non-Blok. And Megawati as the symbol of an oppressed figure during Suharto 32-year tyrannical rule. And Encouragement to the Indian government to enhance the bilateral cooperation between two countries, etc.

Non of those adjectives ascribed to the current president SBY. I found no op-ed articles specifically written about Indonesia or about the incumbent president. Ironically, the coming of former Singaporean PM got even more coverage.

What's wrong? I tried to find out by trying to talk about it with a diplomat who headed the committee for the president visit. I found no answer. So, I try to figure it out myself. At least, there're two possibilites in my mind why this happened:

(1) SBY's military background is one reason. India is a democratic country where from its independent up till now, military always position itself in the backstage and never ever any effort attempted to take part in any political policies of the country. On the contrary, Pakistan, as its rival and neighbor is always ruled for most part of its independent by military ruler the decision of whom distract the two country's relation to the core. India doesnt like military ruler, so does its media; maybe even if the military personality elected by democratic means as in the case of President SBY.

(2) The lack of public relation on the part of our embassies might contribute to the Indian media cold treatment. I find there're always two pages advertisement days before a head-of-state official visit posted by any embassy concerned in some major Indian media. I found none of those ads before President SBY visit. Is lack of money on the part of our embassy as the cause? Quite unlikely, as our embassy always busy to build or renovate the embassies building even if it's just been renovated one year ago. Only those who once stayed abroad know what does it mean.

So, lesson learnt for any of us who want to make any head-of-state official visit succeed: make brouhaha ads in the media and be pro-active and smart diplomats to make your country counted respected in the world.

Beware of GAM!

01.00 pm November 23, 2005: Question & Answer with Indonesian expats (3) An ethnic cleansing attempt by GAM in Takengon

Photo: Aligarh Muslim University Campus
The third and last question or, to be precise in this case, the info and request were provided by Jusman Masga, a Ph.D student of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), India. Aligarh is a small town around 200 km from New Delhi.

He's from Takengon, NAD (Nangroe Aceh Darussalam). And that's why he's got an opportunity to come forward, as the ever-worried ambassador actually only gave two persons to ask question. The third one got special nod from the president himself.

Jusman is Indonesian senior-most student in India. He's doing all his undergraduate (S1), post-graduate (S2) and now his doctorate (S3) at the same university. He's been in India more than ten years during which he never goes home until three months ago. And his three-month stay in his home town made him surprised and shocked by his relatives stories about the attrocities done by GAM (separatist movement of Aceh) in his area.

He told the president a terrible attrocities occurred between 1998-2004 (before MoU deal) carried out by GAM against Takengon people which never been reported by media as follows:

(a) That GAM had blocked his area and never let anyone goes in or out. No outsiders knew what's going on there. This also means that his area was under the full control of GAM.

(b) GAM had killed one by one any man who supposed to be a loyalist of Indonesia. (As stated by the President himself, Takengon is mostly Republican or loyalist to NKRI). The numbers killed were more than 1000 people; in other words GAM just wanted to slaughter all Takengon males so as to not make any further problems for them in the future.

(c) GAM also "bought" most strategic lands belong to Takengon people with only 5% of its actual price. No body dare to confront them as it'd be meant death.

(d) Anyone in his area whose seventh-grand-parents were from Java or north sumatra must go out of the area within short time or face the deadly consequences.

(e) The attrocities and the numbers of victims will certainly increase had it been there's no heroic attempt by a Takengon person who pretended to be a farmer intended to sell his goods to outside market. Once he's got out of the village, he's directly went to a closer military headquarters. And the supposed-to-be a big massacres came to an end after the Brimob (militar moblie brigade) stormed the village and "clearing up" the GAM.

So, during those terrible years Takengon become so backward and so poor as GAM killed the economic movement of that region.

In his last statement, Jusman called for the President that Indonesian government should be on alert all the time especially towards the newly found groups like AMM, etc. And finally he praised the peace agreement and the role of military in Aceh who made his area can enjoy peaceful and normal life again after so many years lived with fear and desperation.

Nothing important from president SBY response except acknowledging that the attrocities did happen but after agreement been achieved he urges all Acehnese to forget the past and build a new future which Jusman gracefully agreed.

Investigative Journalism Indian Style

Today's major newspapers headlines almost in unison covering in a big way the question-for-cash scandal done by few Indian MPs (member of parliaments)or DPRs in Indonesia. The thing that needs to be highlighted here is the swift measures and action taken by the committee formed by the parliament minister.

To give you a bit clue over the course of events here's the chronology:

(1) A few days back, some reporters from a Indian tv channel met the MPs pretended to be a rich citizen and asked them to raise questions in which every question raised in parliament would be paid some amount of cash.

(2) The MPs got no clue whatsoever that before the "deal", hidden camere has been installed.

(3) The deal done. the cash paid. That's the start of the drama and the end of the poor MPs career.

(4) The footage of the pseudo-deal broadcast the following day which bring hype and furore on national level.

(5) This is the important thing: the committee set up by parliament in this regard decides that (a) all the 11 MPs caught red-handed accepting money will be expelled from the parliament membership. The decision is final. No more judiciary ruling wanted and, hence, the MPs cannot further this matter to the court; (b) No action taken for the journalists who trapped the MPs. The journalists action considered as legal. For the record, never in democratic history MPs being expelled for such actions.

Well, what do you think if the same thing happen to our DPRs or Ministers? Who'll be going to prison? the DPRs/Ministers or the journalists? Does our journalists have the same gut as their Indian counterparts?

FIFA World Cup Germany 2006

A football expert who'd been interviewed by CNN recently failed to give a brief and convincing answer as to why so much worldwide hype and brouhaha everytime the once-in-four-year competition being held. Why that's hype is not happening to Olympic, a larger sporting event with more variety of sports and participating countries? And why the FIFA Worldcup anthusiasts is not only cheered about by the participating countries?

Post-independence Indonesia, as a good case in point, has never ever reached to final rounds of football worldcup, but most Indonesians joyfully stay up late night to be one of the most faithful spectators ever. How could you explain that?

PS: Comments are welcome in any of the following languages: English, Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Jawa & Madura.