Sunday, April 22, 2007

Is this an Indonesian Soldier (or maybe bureaucrat) mentality?

I found this picture from here. It's made me wonder, how is this could happened? A Chief in Command of Indonesia Army Special Unit lower his body, showed his 'inappropriate' respect to a former convicted criminal, Tommy Soeharto? What in the hell...

It so frustrating! I was so speechless for many seconds when seeing this. Well, suddenly I was realise that maybe because I live in Eastern culture that we need to keep up our cultural values, showed respect to elders and the respect-worth ones. And sometimes, we just did it, not even think about how we suppose to do that? Of course we do need to show our respect to elders and or anyone, not only on cultural based judgement, but more likely based on the assumption that they deserved it! They deserved to be respected because what they did has give something for others. I am not talking about casual form of our relationships with parents or elders, but on formal relations with colleagues, friends, your bosses in social or formal institutions (or I could say, in bureaucracy).

Do we need to show some of this attitude when meet our boss or supervisor? Do we really have to lower our head (hey, it's kind bit different with Japanese, right?) infront of them? Why we should? Or worse in this case, a Chief of Special Unit in Indonesia Army show his respect to someone like Tommy Soeharto? Well, I know that our bureacracy cultural values still prioritise such symbolic attitude for particular reasons. I don't blame them, nor judged them as ass kisser(?). Maybe they just did it because they are truely Indonesians, highly respect their common values and cultural heritages.

Well.. I don't know, really... I can't tell no more.
I am so speechless.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Letter from Muhammad Yunus

Dr. Muhammad Yunus is a 2006 Nobel Peace Price Winner and become the first Nobel Laureate who came from Bangladesh. His microcredit program has been acknowledged by the world to contribute a significant effort in poverty allevation campaign in developing countries. Through Grameen Bank, the bank owned by Muhammad Yunus, unlike other conventional banks, he removed the need for collateral and introduced a mutual trust, accountable and promote creativity as the essential elements in delivering the microcredit program.

As his remarkable achievement in economic and prosperity become so popular, he now intended to enter political arena to spring up his concepts and goals in the high politics level in Bangladesh. His personal letter described why he wants to do so.
More about Dr. Muhammad Yunus, please click here

My personal letter to you

Dear citizen,
Please take my Salam. I am writing this letter to you with the hope of receiving a personal reply from you. You might have noticed in what situation many people requested me to join politics and why I had to consider it with utmost importance. I, like you, witnessed where our political culture has brought the country and how it attempted to destroy the country's future possibilities. The way the present caretaker government is trying to create an acceptable atmosphere by carrying out necessary reforms has made me optimistic along with all citizens of the country.

In this situation, I feel it with my heart that I should, showing due respect to the people's expectation of me, participate in the mission of taking the nation to the height it deserves.

It is now clear to all that it is not possible to reach the goal maintaining the existing political culture; it is only possible by bringing a comprehensive change to the culture. Through my work and experience, I feel with all my heart that the people with their innate sense of endeavour and creativity can achieve the impossible if political goodwill, competent leadership and good governance can be established. If I have to form a political party in response to the people's desire, it will be dedicated to this very objective. I have received pure love and respect from people of all ages ranging from the poorest to the most powerful, I do not know when again a Bangladeshi individual will have this good fortune. By the grace of Allah, I am a very fortunate man. There is nothing left for me to desire. I know that joining politics is to become controversial. I am ready to take the risk if you think me joining politics will help in ushering of a new political climate.

It is high time to form the proper political structure conducive to the huge task of building a Bangladesh we all dream of, by freeing ourselves from all past frustrations. I need the active participation and assistance of you and all others like you if I have to go forward with this mission. I need your advice on how I should go forward. I also want to know how you want to participate and assist in this task. The efforts of you and me to realise everybody's desire for a new politics in order to build a new Bangladesh will get strength if these can be learnt from you in the form of a letter.

You can give your advice in your own style on any topic regarding the formation of a new political party. I can point out some topics as examples: a) how the party can stay involved with the people of all villages and neighbourhoods and work to realise their expectations; b) how the party can be helpful to the common people in their daily struggle and in solving their problems; c) how the organisations of the party can be built on the basis of spontaneous devotion of men and women of all ages and professions; d) what can be done to encourage the eager, enthusiastic, honest and competent people of all levels to align with the party and to become active in it; e) how the honest and competent among them, having public support, can be nominated for different local and national elections; f) how can we ensure transparency and honesty of all the people involved with the party, and of the party itself; g) how democracy can be established within the party; h) how can the flow of opinions directly from the grassroots level be ensured; and i) how the officials and employees serving in state institutions can be prevented from turning into activists of political parties -- your thoughts and advice on many such questions are vital.

At the same time, it is important to know what role you (and your friends) can play in the party, how you can actively contribute or support, is also very important to know. For example, you can play the role: a) of a member of a village or neighbourhood-level organisation; b) of a pioneer of the party's welfare initiatives; c) of a local organiser; d) of an organiser of a community organisation; e) of an activist taking party calls widely among the people; f) of an adviserresearchertheoretician for the party; g) you can contribute to the party by using your special skills or expert knowledge in its service; h) by taking a leadership role in popularising the party as an enthusiastic supporter; i) by demonstrating your organising power; and so on.

I want to know your opinion and get your advice whether you are a political leader, activist, leader or worker of an association or organisation, industrialist, businessman, professor, teacher, shopkeeper, farmer, labourer, artist-writer-thinker, professional, journalist, service holder, housewife, teenager, youth or an expatriate Bangladeshi.

Please write a short or detail personal reply to my letter. Your friends, all members of your family, neighbours, classmates and colleagues can also put in their thoughts in the same letter. You can reply through email and distribute copies of it among all your acquaintances. You can also send a short reply through SMS and encourage all your acquaintances to do the same. You can send copies of my letter to your relatives and friends abroad and encourage them to reply. It will not be possible to come out clean from old politics if a strong momentum for a new politics is not created. We will not be able to reach our goal with feeble support.

I hope my letter and your reply to it will only be the beginning of our sincere communication. The communication established will be able to go forward actively towards a common goal from now on.

Dr Muhammad Yunus

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hal Hill Talking About Indonesia Indonesia's Economy

I find the article written by Hal Hill. Mr. Hill is the H.W. Arndt professor of Southeast Asian economies at the Australian National University, Canberra. From 1986-98 he headed the university's Indonesia Project.

The article was published in the November 2004 edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review


Four Men Who Changed Indonesia
November 2005

by Hal Hill

The past eight years have arguably been the most challenging in Indonesia's 60 years as an independent nation state. After the economy contracted by almost 14% after the 1998 financial crisis, recovery has been slow, shaky and unpredictable. At times, the country could have degenerated into a "failed state," with dreadful implications for its people and the neighboring region.

But it appears that the worst is over. In three nationwide elections last year, almost 150 million people cast their votes without verified allegations of malpractice on any scale. The economy is now recovering strongly, though it remains vulnerable. The new rules of the game in business and politics are gradually becoming clearer.

Why and how this recovery has been achieved will be the subject of some budding author's yet-to-be-written opus. But critically important have been the role of informal coalitions of broadly like-minded individuals engaged in major public-policy battles in a newly-emerging and volatile political arena. These individuals have had particularly important impacts in four key areas: the importance of "economic orthodoxy" in cleaning up the mess left by the crisis and in restarting economic growth; quickly regaining macroeconomic stability in the wake of the crisis; keeping open the intellectual and policy connections to the global community; and reminding a younger generation of academics of the importance of analytical rigor and public-policy responsibilities in their research.

In the grand scheme of things, academics typically resort to their favorite theory to explain how countries respond to major crises. Individuals are accorded a minor role in these explanations, since theory has always had difficulty accommodating them. And when they do enter the story, they are typically durable center-stage actors: the Maos, Hitlers, Thatchers, together with presidents, leaders of major corporations and members of dominant wealthy families. While understandable, this tends to understate the key role of opinion leaders with an opportunity to shape policy decisively.

To understand Indonesia's recent economic history, one has to look beyond the presidential palace and the major boardrooms to a broader set of actors who have been influential in shaping social and political currents. For Indonesia lurched suddenly from a carefully managed to a chaotic polity where anybody and everybody could have their say. Development policy is now no longer about "low politics" or lobbying the president and senior cabinet members behind closed doors. Rather it has become an open, transparent process featuring sometimes raucous and even vindictive public debates.

In this rapidly evolving and highly dispersed marketplace of ideas, ranging from the sophisticated to the wacky, the ability to argue and persuade has become critically important. To understand the transition process, one therefore needs to view it both at the macro level and up close. A helpful entrée to the latter is to examine the role of key individuals over this period, and how they operated during this period.

Inevitably the choice is arbitrary, but at least four "opinion peddlers" stand out. Perhaps inevitably also, all four are highly unusual. Two are past cabinet members. All four received doctorates and advanced training in the U.S. The first language for two of them is Dutch. Two also belong to Indonesia's tiny ethnic Chinese community, which accounts for about 2% of the population and has often been excluded from government.

But the common elements are just as important. They are all people of impeccable personal integrity. They are passionate about social justice and poverty alleviation. Philosophically, they are all what may be termed "liberal internationalists" in their belief in open societies and economies. But they are also deeply nationalist in the sense of caring about their country and its progress. During the crisis, all four could easily have left the country for greener pastures. But they remained at home, to fight on, either in government or as active proselytizers in the public domain.

Moh Sadli is emeritus professor at the University of Indonesia. Now well into his 80s, he was a cabinet minister under Suharto for 10 years and a core member of the so-called "Berkeley Mafia," led by the redoubtable Widjojo Nitisastro the grand old man of the Indonesian economics profession. Mr. Sadli has been the tireless public campaigner for sensible economic policy. His biweekly (and bilingual) opinion pieces in his Internet newsletter, in the quality Jakarta press and in his Business News outlet have arguably been the single most widely-read and influential economic commentary throughout this period.

Three key elements have always been present in these commentaries. First, the importance of sound "first principles" in economic policy, whether it be macroeconomics, trade and industry policy or social issues. The second has been keeping a watchful eye on the public-policy debates, the complex, fluid political economy equations, and how they are likely to impinge on outcomes. And third, in debates which have often been parochial and sometimes conspiratorial, Mr. Sadli has always been quick to remind his readership of the international dimensions, ranging from the lessons of other countries in transition from crises to the latest writings in development economics. Mr. Sadli has also straddled business and academe with ease, more effectively than anybody else in Indonesia. As the architect of Indonesia's liberal foreign-investment policies in 1967 and from his tenure as minister for mining in the 1970s, he retains close connections with the international business community, and has played a major role in educating them about Indonesian political economy.

Boediono, a professor of economics at Gadjah Mada University who has held several senior government positions, was minister of finance for three years, mainly during the Megawati administration. Probably more than any other person, he was responsible for the restoration of macroeconomic stability. Public debt began to rise alarmingly following the economic crisis, mainly owing to the liquidity credits issued to stave off bank failures. When he stepped down from the Finance Ministry, the budget deficit was just 1.5% of GDP, an achievement which would have appeared impossibly ambitious in the late 1990s.

The record is all the more noteworthy for it was achieved in difficult circumstances. The cabinet possessed limited economics expertise and sympathy for orthodox economic policies. Foreign investors were deserting the country. The president rarely went public to argue the case for economic reform. A newly assertive parliament was eager to spend on favorite projects, while the political environment was quite hostile to "IMF" notions of fiscal prudence. Mr. Boediono's contribution to the restoration of macroeconomic stability has sometimes been compared to the early years of President Suharto, when the technocrats quickly brought the Sukarno-era hyperinflation under control.

Yet in some respects his task was perhaps more difficult. The "Berkeley Mafia" were cohesive and more numerous in the cabinet, they had direct access to and strong support from President Suharto, and they enjoyed a close working relationship with foreign donors and multilateral organizations. By contrast, Mr. Boediono not only had to bring the cabinet on-side but he also had to persuade parliament of the merits of his package. Indeed, it was not uncommon for him to spend half his time educating, persuading and cajoling representatives.

Hadi Soesastro has for many years been executive director of Indonesia's most influential internationally-oriented think tank, the Jakarta-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Established in the early 1970s, CSIS has arguably functioned as the most important prism through which foreign intellectuals view Indonesia. The Center has had a sometimes controversial past, owing especially to the identities and histories of its early founders and leaders. It periodically comes under attack for its political and business ties, with an undercurrent of hostility toward its alleged "Catholic Chinese" identity. At the peak of the economic crisis in late 1997 it was the object of nasty, politically inspired demonstrations, and occasionally such sentiments reappear.

But this is a side show compared to its remarkable achievements in projecting Indonesia to the world. The center runs more quality international conferences in Indonesia than anybody else. Foreign scholars and graduate students gravitate to its hospitality, and to its lively, cosmopolitan, intellectual atmosphere. It has an unparalleled network of international contacts, especially but not only in the Asia-Pacific region, where it is arguably the best institution of its kind. For over a quarter of a century, it has also published Indonesia's best English-language current affairs journal, the Indonesia Quarterly. CSIS is a team effort, with a number of stars (a former director, Mari Pangestu, is now Indonesia's trade minister) and extremely able management. But over these eight years, it is difficult to think of a more inspiring and able leader of a think tank than Mr. Soesastro.

Thee Kian Wie is widely regarded as Indonesia's most eminent and prominent academic in the social sciences, for which he was recognized with the nation's highest award in 2002. From his tiny office in the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, over the past 35 years he has authored or edited almost 20 books and 70 papers on an amazing variety of subjects: economic history, his primary research field, together with industrialization, foreign investment, small-scale industry and poverty, to name just a few.

He too has been a prolific and passionate public commentator on a wide range of issues. In "retirement," he edits Indonesia's premier economics journal, Economics and Finance in Indonesia. The country's research community and its leading universities remain sadly neglected, and are in danger of falling behind their East Asian counterparts, owing to chronic under-funding and an environment which places little value on sustained scholarship.

Mr. Thee is the role model to whom the serious younger generation of academics looks for inspiration on how to maintain academic integrity in a challenging environment, and how to preserve life-long enthusiasm for intellectual enquiry. With his unparalleled international scholarly network, he has shown the next generation how to build bridges connecting to the global research community.

The past few years have been a volatile chapter in Indonesia's history. There has not been an "Olsonian" sweeping away of corrupted structures and vested interests. Rather, Indonesia is a work in progress, with impressive incremental achievements. Inevitably, this is a very partial picture of the transition. Since observers view the country through different prisms, it is therefore easy enough to quibble with this selection of individuals, which after all includes no politicians, no business people, and no women. But it does captures a key dimension of the forces at work in constructing a new, democratic Indonesia, and of how four individuals have worked effectively, in an unconnected fashion but with a broadly similar and coherent reform agenda.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Who, Me? Well....

Hi all, Me, Erdian Dharmaputra, or you can call me with my maiden name Donie, as my close friends, parents and my brothers used to call my by that name. I am the 2nd of five siblings. My father was a pensioner from government office and my mom was also already been retired as an elementary school teacher in Bengkulu.

I was born in Pekanbaru, Riau in 1976, and spend mostly of my teenager life in Medan, North Sumatera. I lived in a small boarding house with my two brothers, Andi and Wawan. Andi, my big brother, is two years older than me and Wawan is one year younger. Three of us enabled to become as independent sons, as my father and my mom along with the two younger brothers, Iir and Angga, stayed in Aceh province for six years. My father was assigned by the office where he worked for in three different areas of Aceh province during that time, Kutacane (the capitol of Southeast Aceh), Lhokseumawe (Norht Aceh) and Banda Aceh.

While I graduated from high school (SMA I Medan), I took architechture program study in the University of North Sumatera. I can tell you that the program study was not my field of interest since it was become my last option in State University Test (UMPTN). Even though I took physics major when I was in the high school, my intention was to continue my study in economic and management. However, I failed to enter the first option of my study, which was the economic and management in University of Gadja Mada. Then, I get stucked in the Architecture program.

It was only one year last. I was furious with the program and decided to follow another test for entering another program study in ohter university. I was too excited, and kept silent for the test as my father wanted me to focus with my current subject. As the test day came, I told my father that I was intended to leave the course and ask his 'bless' before take the test. He surprised, and ask me why? I told him that I cannot continue the program because I feel that drawing, sketching and stay for hours in drawing studio was not my interest. I feel so bored, I told him. He understand, and allowed me to take the test with one condition, "You have to choose Medicine study, because I want you to become a doctor, like your brother". What? But, I followed his wish and put the Medicine program as my first option for entering university. And, for other two options, I put also Medicine program and International Relations respectively. Shortly, the result came in and again, I was fail to enter Medicine faculty and accepted in my last option, International Relations in Padjadjaran University.

I can tell you that I was the first member of the family landed in Java Island for study. I never been to visit Jakarta or even Bandung before. And, there are no my father or my mother relatives live in Jakarta or Bandung. So, with only my friend's brother name and address in my hand, Ikhsan, I went to Bandung. As I landed in Husein Sastranegara airport in Bandung, I was surprised because Ikhsan waited for me in the airport! Phuih, thanks a lot. Shortly, I stayed with him in Dago for a while before I found my own room in Jatinangor, Sumedang, which was so close the campus. And as the time went by, I completed my degree in five years for International Relations studies in the University, from 1995 to 2000.

As I graduated, I had a job as Management Trainee in Sinar Mas Insurance in Jakarta, and then after six months, they posted me to the branch office in Batam Island. I only survived for two months working in the Island because I have so many different point of views with the manager. Then, I decided to quit and return to Jakarta. But, too bad, I have to pay training compensation fee as I broke the contract agreement mentioned that I have to stay at least two years working for the company.

I went back to Jakarta/Bandung, jobless. I eagerly looked for any job vacancies at newspapers and the internet. Shortly, after experiencing several job interviews, finally, I was accepted as a reporter at TEMPO Inti Media. It was only for nine months I worked here. I was quit not only because I was also being accepted working for the Ministry of Finance, but also TEMPO management put my career as a reporter on the brink as they extended my probation. I was want to be a reporter, but I was not secure enough when they did the extension thing. So, decided to leave TEMPO and start my career as government employee.

As I quit from TEMPO and started to work for the Ministry, I decided to proposed Tuty Nurhasanah, the girl I have known since I was become a reporter, to be my wife after six months engagement. And in 19 February 2005, we were officialy announced as a husband and wife. A year after our married, I received a scholarship offer from the Australian government to study in any universities in Australia for master program. The University of Sydney became my first option after heard some advice from friends and colleagues. And shortly, after six months stayed in Sydney, my wife got pregnant and we decided to do the labour in Jakarta, as we a little bit nervous to have our first baby without relatives and families surround. Well, the baby, Tadzkiya Amalia Dharmaputra, was born normally in 4 February 2007 while Jakarta strucked by heavy rains and floods.

Now, here I am, studying at the University of Sydney, Australia, taking Master degree in Economic (Social Science). Until now, I have been working for 4 years now with the Treasury Department, Ministry of Finance. My last position before I went to Sydney was as a Budget Execution Staff in Regional Office IX Pangkalpinang, Bangka Belitung Island Province. And now, I am struggling to finish up my dissertation on the issue of Indonesia's Debt Management and return to Indonesia in this July or August.

Finally, Wish Me Luck!