Thursday, April 03, 2008

Do We Need To Boycott Beijing?

Ever since the riot in Lasha early last month after the arrest of some 60 monks dominated the headlines of newspapers across the globe, there is a mounting pressure from different quarters to boycott the upcoming Olympics to be held in Beijing in October. From France, the French President, Nicholas Sarkozy called for a boycott to the Games and it was echoed by his Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, who has said that the European Union should consider punishing China with a boycott of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

Robert Meynard, the head of the Reporters without Borders, called for the same action and has urged the “world’s big democracies to find the courage” to boycott the Olympics.

On earlier occasions, too, there have been attempts to sabotage the Olympics. The boycott by many Western countries of the 1980 Moscow Olympics when the Cold War was at its height is a notable example.

Earlier, a conference held in Delhi in June last year by a group that calls itself “Friends of Tibet” focused on ways to use the upcoming Olympics to highlight the issue of “free Tibet” globally. The Beijing Olympics, many participants of the conference emphasized, was the “one chance” for the Tibetans to come out and protest. A call was issued for worldwide protests and a march of Tibetan exiles in India and Nepal to Lhasa was also announced to coincide with the opening of the Games.

Across the Atlantic, some members of the American House of Representatives submitted their formal objection to the plan by President Bush to attend the opening ceremony of the Games in Beijing.

But, do we really need to boycott the Games?

I still remember in July 2006 when the Indonesian Tennis Association (Pelti) decided not to send the Indonesian Fed Cup Tennis Team to play against Israel in Tel Aviv in a protest to the Israeli government's continuing occupation of Palestine. This protest let the Israeli team to advance to the next stage of championship while the Indonesian team must suffer from the penalty by the ITF for its failure to play. Apart from the administrative penalty, the Indonesian Fed Cup team was also suspended for the whole one year from the competition. It was only last year that the Indonesian Fed Cup team could re-join the competition.

As a tennis lover, I was disappointed by the incident because the valiant effort by the Indonesian Fed Cup team to win a position in the play-off in New Delhi in 2005 had gone in vain. Politics has taken over the beauty of the game of tennis.

However, personally, I firmly understood the decision to boycott the game. Indonesians and the Indonesian government are known for their long history of support towards the Palestinian cause. Thus the atrocities conducted by the Israeli government towards the Palestinians are undeniably irresponsible and should be stopped.

A similar decision was once taken by the Indian Davis Cup team in the 1974 when they refused to play against South Africa in protest of the apartheid policy in South Africa.

But, I do not think that we have to boycott the Games. The Games is about sport and sportsmanship, no politics is allowed.

I do sympathize with the Tibetans and give my full support to their cause. But I also want to see the successful celebration of sports in the form of the Olympics. The Games must go on and we have to support the Chinese government's effort to guarantee its successful organization.

If we have to boycott the Games, we should have done it in the first place when Beijing was chosen as the host of this year's Olympics. Trying to obstruct the successful organization of the Games now is like a hypocrite who is afraid to say no when the announcement about Beijing was done and now is trying to steal the world's attention as a show of sympathy towards the Tibetans.

What about human right abuses in Iraq, in Afghanistan or in Guantanmo Bay?

I believe that Tibet is the domestic problem of China and the Chinese government is trying to solve it. As a suggestion, it is only through dialogue that the problem of Tibet could be resolved. The use of force will only heightened the hatred and rebellious attitude of the oppressed while dialogue will pave the way for peaceful solution to the problem. Putting Dalai Lama in an equal position and making him as a partner in the dialogue, I believe, will be the best way to solve the problem and the Olympics must go on.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Threat of Transnational Crime

In 2001, Osama bin Laden filled the headlines of newspapers across the globe. His sin was being accused as the man behind the WTC tragedy in September 11, 2001 in New York. In late March 2008, Geert Wilders, a Dutch MP, received condemnation from Muslims across the globe for his irresponsible act of broadcasting a derogatory documentary film towards Islam on the internet. At the same time, three Malaysian nationals were arrested by the custom officials at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport for trying to smuggle 9.3 kg of drug to Indonesia.

What is the similarity between the incidents above? It is globalization. Globalization has permitted the movement of people across borders without any hurdles and transnational movement is an undeniable phenomenon at this age.

The term transnationalism was introduced for the first time in the 20th century by Randolph Bourne to describe a new way of thinking on the relationships between cultures. It is a social movement that grows due to interconnectivity between men across the globe and due to the depleting borders among nations.

According to Thomas L Friedman, globalization as the main motor behind transnationalism is a new system in the 21st century which focuses on integration and the abolition of borders between states. Globalization also advocates openness in which it allows the development and the strengthening of civil society which is important in the deepening process of democratic principles. The current democratic process in Indonesia is the resultant of this phenomenon. At the same time, globalization eases the process of transfer of strategic technology to assist the development process in a country.

Apart from the implementation of free market policy, the demolition of Berlin wall that symbolized division of the world and the emergence of internet are key factors that influence the birth of globalization. Friedman says that globalization has three balancing platforms: (1) the traditional balance that defines the relations between nation states; (2) the balance between the global market and the states; (3) the balance between individuals and the nation states.

If the first platform focuses on the role of states, the second platform puts the market as the decision making institution on important happenings in the world. Super power and supermarket are the two dominating power at this period. Meanwhile, the third platform emerged when the borders between states have depleted and the world is fully interconnected by a single global network thus allowing individuals to come on to the world stage at will. The super-empowered individuals are the dominating force at this stage of globalization and their impacts might either be useful or harmful to the global community. And the phenomena described in the beginning of this article represent the capability of these super-empowered individuals.

By using the triple "T" revolution – telecommunication, transportation and technology – these super-empowered individuals are capable of conducting their actions at ease and the resultant of their actions can instantly be felt and known by the rest of the population in this globe. Globalization has given opportunities to these individuals to conduct transnational crimes as well and this phenomenon is undeniably increasing and unavoidable. Indonesia must be prepared to face this new threat.

Containing Transnational Crimes

For Indonesia, the threat of transnational crimes is very much real than ever before. As the biggest archipelagic country in the world, Indonesia needs to build a comprehensive national security system to contain the threats in its various forms, be it the illegal logging, illegal fishing, terrorism, human trafficking, smuggling of drugs as well as other forms of transnational crimes. International cooperation is importantly needed to fight this dreadful menace.

One of the strategies is by adopting the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime established in November 2000. The Convention allows the signatory countries to avail international support and cooperation in setting up a series of measures against transnational organized crime. These include the creation of domestic criminal offences to combat the problem, and the adoption of new, sweeping frameworks for mutual legal assistance, extradition, law-enforcement cooperation and technical assistance and training. Thus it allows the successful containment of the threats of transnational crimes.

Besides, the Indonesian government must meticulously studies the root cause of this threat in Indonesia. By providing facilities and the opening of job market in Indonesia, the government will, I believe, be successful in preventing the locals from being tempted to be irresponsible super-empowered individuals. Transnational crime is a threat brought by globalization and Indonesia must be prepared to fight it at all cost.