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Are Indonesians Great and Friendly People?

Are Indonesians Great and Friendly People?

01.00 pm November 23, 2005: Question & Answer with Indonesian expats (1)

After the president speech, the Ambassador as the MC in the proceeding offered three audiences to come up with their questions. I was not quick enough to do so, and losing the opportunity to ask a thousand of questions to President SBY.

The first person named Doni Rifai stand by the microphone. He’s an expat works for a German IT company branch in Bangalore, India. He didnt ask something, instead he told a story about himself who studied in Germany and works for the biggest IT company there. He came to India and works with other Indian IT guys in Bangalore. He sum up his long-enough story by saying:

“I believe Indonesian people are capable of doing something that other big guys from other countries have done. We are competitive people. I, myself, see with my own eyes that Indian IT guys are not as great as they seem to be. Their fame and domination in the IT field around the world helped in a big way by their expats who help promoting them to the world.”

Finally, he pushed the punch line which I think his primary goal: advertising himself before the president and ministers:

“Im proud of being Indonesian and will always be. Indonesia could be dominant also in IT field if we have the will and determination to do so. Although now I have a very good job in Germany and in a very good position, Im ready to go back to my country if Mr. President asks me to do so.”

He seems to be so successful in his effort. Because soon after the question & answer session ended, the president spokesman, Mr. Andi Malarangeng and Trade Minister Ms Marie Elka Pangestu approached him and asked his contact address.

Well, actually in some ways, I agree with his confident opinion that we as a nation are capable of doing something like any other nations have done. But if we talk to a head of state of our country, the statement should not be made for personal interest, it should represent a larger issue of the people instead. In other words, Doni Rifai should make it clear, that we could be as advanced as other nations as far as we manage our country governance properly: clean governance, clarity of regulation to beef up investment, discipline, clarity of the rule of law, educational friendly policy, etc etc.
Unfortunately, he didnt seem to care enough to further his statement or did he just forget the important point?

Are Indonesians Great and Friendly People?

My previous posting with the same title amassed many responses, either through the comment box or to my email. All are similar: that Indonesians have a open and friendly attitude by nature. Even indcoup, a Londoner, agreed with that with a positive criticism: that Indonesians mostly undisciplined; hence the corruption spread like a bird flu pendemic. But all the responses are not answering my real questions: if it the case, then why Indonesians are so easily erupted in anger and are so easily offended for just a trivial thing?…

There’re, however, one email regarding this issue sent by a mysterious person who doesnt want his name to be mentioned (pseudonym emailer? :p ). And his respons deserves to be posted here.

He said that our friendliness and easy-to-be-offended kind of attitude are paradox yet co-related. he said that…

(1) Friendly individual in some cases represent a weak personality; easy to be offended and in extreme cases easily turn his anger into physical violence.

(2) Friendly people needs the same kind of reciprocal response. Once he/she doesnt get it, he’ll be angry or offended. Compare to those cold and unfriendly guys who dont bother whether his/her surrounding are friendly or not.

(3) We are a young nation; with very young civilization. our mentality are not so tough compared to other older civilization like, say, China, India, Persia, the West, etc. Our experience in dealing with any hardships are not yet tested.

Well, if you confused with his explanation, dont worry, you are not alone. Me too. he’s a psychologist, so he has his own opinions on human behavior which sometimes hard for me to comprehend.

Our Education only for the Rich!

01.00 pm November 23, 2005: Question & Answer with Indonesian expats (2)

Contrary to the first question which applauded the current government “success” and praising anything Indonesia, the second question forwarded by Tylla Subijantoro, a law student of Delhi University, criticised strongly the Indonesian establishment ignorance on education for the poor.

He further compared the higher educational system between Universitas Indonesia (UI) her former campus and Delhi University (DU) her current campus to make her points clear:

(1) Fee: India is among the cheapest in terms of educational fee. Indian students need to pay only around RS. 5,300(about Rp 1,600,000) for post-graduate. For applied sciences fee see here. Compare this to the fee for UI (Universitas Indonesia) where, you have to pay around Rp. 50 million (USD 5,000) for post-graduate in social sciences. In other words, even if your dad is tukang becak (three wheeler puller), he still can afford to send you to the best university in India!

(2) Quality: The more expensive the clothes, the better the quality is not applied to the case of education between India and Indonesia. UI is her almamater, and as she said to the president, is the best university (beside UGM) in Indonesia. Yet, compared to Delhi University, where she’s doing her M.A., UI almost nothing, for several reasons including

(a) the quality of teaching staffs [many of her lectures and her professors are also visiting professors or distinguished scholars in some prominent and high-profile world universities like Oxford, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, etc];

(b) Accessibility of the teachers. Even though the professors are highly qualified from the world-standard point of view, they are all very accessible. So long they are at the campus, you can make a very long discussion with them. No busy excuses are made, like in the case to our hyper-busy lectureres who hardly have time for their students;

(c) Self-dependent of teaching staffs. The campus itself can produce highly qualified professors who can teach everywhere in the world; in UI you can only find those kind of teachers only if they’ve done their M.A. or Ph.D abroad, like Prof Juwono Sudarsono who’d been a visiting professor in an American University, himself graduated from the US; or Prof Arief Budiman, a professor in an Australian University because he’s earned his Ph.D from the US, etc.

In the end, Tylla made her last punches: (1) where the hell is the commitment of the current regime to make education more accessible for the poor if it even cant fulfil 20% budget allocation for education as per the mandate of the Constitution?; (2) How dare the current governments raise the BBM (petrol, gas, etc) price, and at the same time, claim itself as the most successful regime in many fields?

In responding to the strong criticism, President SBY looked a bit uncomfortable. His answer dont worth to be mentioned here as it’s full of apologies and excuses remind me of Suharto’s or Harmoko’s way.

That made the dynamic Tylla looks angry and impatient and express her unhappiness by talking to her friend sitting behind her. As a result, President SBY almost shouting in anger warned her: “Anda tadi bicara saya dengarkan, sekarang dengarkan ketika saya bicara!” (I listen to whatever you’ve said. Now, it’s your turn to listen to what I’m saying!)

The audience kept quite. But after the proceeding was over, some friend of mine whispered at me: Mr. SBY was an easily angry personality (suka ngambek). He’s once got angry to a Kompas journalist, and banned the journalist from coming to the Istana Merdeka (Merdeka palace, presidential office).

When President SBY and delegation walked towards lunch room, his spokesperson Mr. Andi Malarangeng proudly told us, “UGM (Gajahmada University) is ranked no. 200 in Asia”. We all smile. I myself smiled, because I wanted to be a “polite” host. I dont have a heart to tell Mr. Mallarangeng that Delhi University is ranked no. 3 (three) in Asia! But, Tylla again “barked” with her last outburst! And Mr. Mallarangeng smile in amazement by saying “oh, really?” Come on, Andi! Dont forget to read more even if you are very busy nowadays!

Shalat Idul Adha in KBRI New Delhi

I’ve just done Eidul Adha prayer in KBRI (Indonesia Embassy) New Delhi along with other Indonesian students and KBRI staffs. Some Muslim diplomats from neighboring countries like Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore are also praying with us. And as usual, our ambassador host the breakfast for all people who join the prayer and for non-Muslim who come after the Eid prayer is done.

The interesting feature in such occasion is the Indonesian food. We who used to have our daily meals with Indian flavour can now enjoy the purely Indonesian foods. And for that the students just eat and eat, enjoying the moment of “luxury”. Sayur lodeh, ketupat, tempe, tahu, ikan asin, asinan, sambal terasi, sate madura, etc are the kinds of foods we take them for granted in Indonesia. But, here in India, all are as precious as gold!

Some Thailand students (Muslims) are also doing Id prayer in KBRI New Delhi mostly for those foods!

I also enjoy to see our embassy regularly become the host of such festivals which are attended by our neighboring countries for years. We eat together, chit-chat in friendly way and joking endlessly. Eid celebration certainly means manything for us. Not only a simple religious ceremony. A symbol of unity among mankind of different nationalities, religion and cultures are among the most important point which need to be carried forward all along.

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