Monday, December 26, 2005

Meeting the Wrath of the Pharaoh?

Having faced relentless angry responses from the community for their "comparative parliamentary study" to Egypt, the legislators (who went on this so-called study) have decided upon their arrival in Indonesia to ask for "forgiveness" from the people for their mistake.

However, because of the gravity of what they have done, forgiveness is not an option. Impeaching them from their positions would be the best option. It is now up to the Working Body of the House of Representatives (BK-DPR) to act.

Recently in India, a videotape of MPs taking bribes by some undercover TV journalists resulted in the expulsion of eleven of the MPs. The journalists, posing as rich individuals, had come to ask favors from the MPs to raise questions for them during the parliamentary session. Each question posed by the MPs was worth of some thousands of Indian rupees.

It was during the meeting between these MPs and the journalists that the bribe transactions were captured on a hidden camera. The videotaped transaction was broadcast on a prime-time TV show that later resulted in swift action by the Indian parliament to summon the MPs over their alleged involvement in the case. The video resulted in the immediate expulsion of the MPs from the House.

The question now is: Can the BK-DPR bring the same justice to the 15 of its members like the Indian Parliament did to its eleven members for their involvement in corruption? The fifteen members of the House of Representatives who visited Egypt on "official duty" have, in my opinion, crossed the line and should be charged with corruption. Public money spent during this visit should be returned and they should be held accountable for their actions. In other words, the guilty must be punished.

The failure of the BK-DPR to act will only degrade its position in the eyes of the Indonesian people and add to the woes and miseries of the people.

Published in The Jakarta Post Online on 26 December 2005
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Friday, December 23, 2005

Consensual Sex: Is it OK?

Today, the cold of the morning December winter is chilling my body, the same way I feel about the news I have been reading for the past week. Reading the news on Operation Majnu in the city of Meerut in Uttar Pradersh published in the Hindustan Times as well as watching the news of the same topic on NDTV and the similar situation in Indonesia as has been reflected in the news published in Kompas and Media Indonesia daily left me wondering, where are we going? What shall we do?

Operation Majnu, a moral police kind of operation that was designed to target eve-teasers in Meerut, has turned into an ugly incident when the police was recoded in a video camera to have beaten up two couples of young lovers in a park. They have been accused of doing ‘immoral activities’ by showing their affection to their partners. In Indonesia, as published by Kompas daily, a young couple of a reputed university in Bogor was roughed up by the locals for their ‘indecent behavior’ in a rented house in the locality. They were paraded half naked for their sin.

On the contrary of these two incidents, the Canadian Supreme Court has issued a decision to allow ‘consensual sexual acts between adults behind closed doors’. The Hindustan Times daily reported with a bold heading “Canada Okays Group Sex” that the Supreme Court of Canada has decided to give freedom to the ‘swingers’ to freely observe their practice of group sex in a private room behind locked doors. The decision says that “Consensual sexual conducts among adults behind code-locked doors can hardly supposed to jeopardize a society as vigorous and tolerant as Canadian society.”

The incidents above, I believe, must have been just a few cases of thousands of cases of similar situation in this complex world. To say the least, the incidents above reflected the different views and perceptions of different societies towards one thing: sexual act. In a society like India or Indonesia as an example, sexual act out of wedding bell, even though it is conducted in a closed doors is considered taboo or ‘immoral’ whereas in other society like Canada the same conduct is regarded to be normal as long as there is no money is changed between the adults having sex as this act of changing money is considered as prostitution which is illegal.

The judgment of immorality towards this act in societies like India or Indonesia, however, in my view is full of hypocrisy. Because when this act is conducted by high profile personalities, the society stays silent but they will be easily angry and aggressive when it is conducted by ‘commoners’. Why there should be any double standard in the society? Isn’t it a private choice for us to have this act? Because in my opinion, as an adult and leave alone religion, we have conscience towards things we do or decide to do. We realize that there must be consequences on everything we do. The society should have left this decision to the individuals and through the conscience of these individuals, I believe, that positive decisions will be chosen instead of negative ones.

It is true that we live in a society in which personal egos should be put aside if we still want to be a part of the society. But at the same time, the society has to understand the role it has to play for the individuals in the society. It should avoid being hijacked by individuals for their personal gains in the name of the society. And if we add religion to our thought in this matter, the conduct is regarded to be wrong in the sense that the decision by the individuals to conduct the activity have trespassed the boundary of what is allowed and what is not by the religions. As an adult, we must have realized who we are and what consequences we have to face for every decision we take. Behaving like a moral police while at the same time doing the same thing behind closed-doors is the most sinful act any individual can do. This kind of act is known as HYPOCRISY and is unpardonable in the society. So, in my opinion, finally it depends on any individual to act and decide what is best suitable for him/her. The consequences that come with the decision are then his/her own responsibility. He/she will be accountable for any decision he/she has taken, not others.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Useless Comparative Studies

The insistence upon visiting Egypt to do a comparative study of gambling in a Muslim country shown by some members of House of Representatives after the rejection of the plan by the leader of the House proves the insensitiveness of the legislators toward the grave conditions of the Indonesian people.

Spending a whopping US$1.4 million for the seven days of useless visits reflects the mind set of the legislators currently running the legislative body, of "as long as I am a legislator, I will use this opportunity to satisfy my greed". Because, instead of going for these kinds of useless comparative studies, the legislators could have found other means of revenues for the country.

But expecting some huge benefit from legalized gambling in an economically struggling country like Indonesia is a shame. They should have thought of something more essential that can provide more job opportunities to the ever-increasing number of unemployed instead of efforts to legalize gambling. Are there no longer any more legal and better methods of increasing the national revenue apart from gambling?

Besides, it was a point worth considering when legislator Djoko Susilo said that those legislators selected for useful foreign trips should have an adequate understanding of the subject matter first, as well as the medium of communication.

Language barriers, as he plainly said, will only hinder the prospect of achieving benefits from the visits/international conferences attended. Many instances can easily be found when those legislators sent out to undergo comparative studies gained nothing from the visits due to his/her lack of understanding of the subject matter as well as a huge language barrier he/she faced during the visits.

The legislators should understand that they are running the country on public funds and they are accountable to the people. It is hoped that the legislators, as well as other holders of public offices understand their position and their responsibility to the people of Indonesia. Only through better understanding of the roles and position they have can Indonesia move forward to achieve its goals as the third largest democratic nation in the world.

Published in The Jakarta Post, 22 December 2005 (Useless Comparative Studies)
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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ruling with an Iron Fist

This is a comment on the Opinion Are Indonesians truly tolerant? by M. Tholchah on Dec. 9. ( asp?fileid=20050920.F03&irec=2)

In spite of the impressive critical views presented by the writer in this article, he somehow missed the fact that the "tolerant society" created in Indonesia during the 32 years of Soeharto rule as he has pointed out, was, in my view, not because of the successful indoctrination of Pancasila as the writer has claimed. It was because of the iron-fist rule of the Soeharto regime that the sparks in the Indonesian society that erupted in the post Soeharto Indonesia were suppressed for more than three decades.

The regime's iron-fist approach created a calm surface with boiling lava below that was ready to erupt at anytime. The riots and violence in the post-Soeharto Indonesia prove my hypothesis.

With the absence of the strict control of the government over its populace as we witnessed during the Soeharto period there are now these sparks throughout Indonesia.

At the same time, claiming that the grim reality in Indonesia (the rampant corruption, violence, crime and other criminal acts), in the most populous Muslim country in the world, gave Islam a double face, is, in my view, a mistake. It is the individual, and not the religion, that needs to be blamed. It is not the Islamic teachings that produce these conditions but it is the understanding of the individuals about Islam that needs to be reviewed. I am pretty convinced considering the background of the writer that my opinion is wholly acceptable.

Published in The Jakarta Post Online Letter on 9 Dec 2005