Analyze this – is Indonesia a failed state?


Are we living in a failed state? With all the topsy-turvydom we are being served, quotidian, throughout the mass media, ranging from riotous demonstrations, mob-ruled brawls, shameless deeds on corruption, acts of religious intolerance and pervert racism, our relatively unstable food sovereignty, political catfights, and still a very long list to go, we could have concluded that the question actually provided a self-fulfilling prophecy of its own.

A piece of news, afterwards, came as a shockwave for our country’s officials. Or perhaps, instead, it has been our nation’s characteristic to have always rebutted and dismissed all the sombre criticism originating from other nations. As though innocent, the parliament simply put the blame on Corruption Eradication Commission (CEC) (Bahasa Indonesia). On the other hand, some others pointed out Indonesia’s economic success and significant public service reforms (Bahasa Indonesia) in recent years. Attempting to provoke public attention, some mass media outlets even openly discredited government in their so-called ‘uncompromising failure’ in protecting its own citizens, in their editorials. Thus, who should we really put our trust on? The officials, with a very high probability that they never (and won’t ever) mention their miscarriages, or the opposition, who seemingly knows nothing but all the bad things about the current government, or the mass media, openly backed-up by conglomerates?

Fund For Peace (FFP), a non-profit organization dedicated to global affairs and international security analysis based in Washington D.C., was where the startle began. It placed Indonesia on 63rd rank (those graded 1st to 60th are categorized as ‘failed states’) out of 178 in the annual Failed States Index list this year. In the researchers’ perspective, this was a slight downgrade, given that the country was once one seat above its current position in 2011. Having glanced at the number, we could precinctly conclude that Indonesia is not a ‘failed state’ after all, but rather one on ‘warning’ list. But seeing our state obtaining almost the similar red scores as Gambia and Fiji did (Fiji had been severely degraded due to its political instability, and frequent internal conflicts between race-based factions) was one worth reminding. Despite the economic bustle, Indonesians felt a high sense of insecurity, either political or social, in their daily lives.

Let us take a look at how researchers in FFP assessed Indonesia, based on 12 indicators used.

There were 6 of those where the government was, as the social scientists said, considered to have ‘moderately improved’, most of which were related to economic growth.

  1. Refugees & IDPs (as summarized in the report, a large number of East Timorese refugees had repatriated. Nevertheless, there were ongoing conflicts in both Maluku and East Java)
  2. Human flight (what they refer to as ‘brain drain’, an emigration of professionals, intellectuals, and political dissidents. As put in their statistics, the outflow is steadily decreasing, but compared to many other nations, Indonesia’s one is still relatively weak)
  3. Uneven development (thanks to the implementation of decentralization and improving economic stability, social inequality, as they outlined, had gradually decreased. On the contrary, poverty remains high)
  4. Poverty and decline (As many as 100 million Indonesians have ‘upgraded’ themselves into middle class. Minimizing poverty, however, remains government’s long-term challenge)
  5. Public services (bureaucracy, as they pointed out, has been significantly reformed. Transparency International rated Indonesia on 100th position in its Corruption Perception Index in 2011, up 10 numbers compared to that in 2010. Bribery and graft, on the other hand, remain commonplace)
  6. External Intervention (International agencies have much more confidence in Indonesia than they used to in the prior decade. For instance, World Bank had pledged further financial assistance for 19 of Indonesia’s economic projects in the near future)

Add 3 more factors where government’s performance underwent little or no changes at all.

  1. Legitimacy of the state (it could be inferred that too many instances had occurred where state was seemingly ‘nonexistent’. Majority of the public loses confidence in state’s ability to protect them in case the worst scenarios happen. In short, justice is no longer served, but reserved)
  2. Security apparatus (In the report, researchers mentioned Law of State Intelligence as their main analysis. The policy, aimed to combat terrorism and other state-threatening crimes, as of their views, is flawed, as it lacks coordination between judiciary and legislative branches, and is vulnerable to power abuse by military intelligence)
  3. Factionalized elite (that is, political rivalry. We have seen those all the time in TVs, like a never-ending family-conflict-themed TV serial, and we don’t have to include it further here anymore)

And the last 3 blackspots where Indonesia is ‘actually’ deteriorating.

  1. Demographic pressures (the example is not quoted in the report, but given Family Coordination Board’s little success in reintroducing the widely-acclaimed 2-children-only policy once in its heyday during Soeharto’s era, Indonesia’s population is expected to double to between 450 and 500 million in no more than 40 or 50 years. Which means providing 200 million new human beings with adequate food, health, and housing, but with inadequate state funding)
  2. Group grievance (that is, the rate of group violence. Either religiously or ethnically motivated, the occurrence is on the rise. The researchers quoted examples from Muslim-Christian conflicts in Maluku and Muslim-Ahmadiyya melee conducted by firebrand extremists in West Java as their main reference)
  3. Human rights (And the academicists, as has always been whenever Indonesia is mentioned, places Papua as their utmost priority. But what primarily concerns them, of another similar importance, is their partial unwillingness in reopening the investigation of human rights abuses in the past.)

In conclusion, when it comes to reporting, it may be so sagacious that we use no ‘blind-men-and-the-elephant parable’ while assessing this evaluation.


Promoting my friend’s artwork

First of all, I apologize for posting this on my blog. My friend is an aspiring artist and I’m, literally, helping her to promote her debut work. This drawing is titled ‘A Matter of Time’, inspired by one of Pulitzer Prize-winning Robert Frost’s poems. For more information, you may view it here. It is sold for $22.50, and is available for international shipping for a mere cost of $5. Please like her drawing by clicking the ‘favorite’ button on her Etsy page. It only takes a minute, and does not require any registration. Thank you and good night!


Note: check her Etsy store for more shift (click here). The store is updated once in a month.

Symphony of Tong Fang

(originally published on Facebook on 16 August 2012)

“Once, I used to have snubby nose. After getting treated in Tong Fang, now my nose turns out like this. Thank you so much, Tong Fang!”

It has had all what the public appeases and disdains. And now, thanks to the endless play-on in Twitter, the ‘Tong Fang’, known for its satirized testimonies, has managed itself as the main national trend, at least until last week.

I’m not sure whether it is being scrutinized, but with all the parodies overwhelming on both social media and Internet (and most recently, through Blackberry broadcast messages), though intended only to make use of it colloquially, I’m so sure that the bosses must have felt so outraged a few days prior that I received one broadcast message from one of my friends, Alex. Exactly on Saturday weekend. Not a good news for all Indonesian lawyers, though.

The content of the message was written as follows (Bahasa Indonesia):

“Perhatian, kepada semua pengguna BB, FB, dan twitter, bahwasanya terhitung dari jam 7 pagi pihak kepolisian akan mencari seluruh status atau catatan yang menghina klinik TONG FANG dikarenakan direktur utama klinik tersebut tidak terima dengan segala hinaan oleh pengguna status jejaring sosial…bagi semua yang merasa membuat status penghinaan itu akan langsung menjadi tersangka dan dikenai hukuman penjara minimal 5 tahun..untuk itu selagi ada waktu lebih baik Anda semua menghapus status atau catatan tentang penghinaan klinik TONG FANG dari akun Anda..BERITA SUDAH DISIARKAN DI TV. Sekian trims #SFTBC”

Translated version:

Announcement to all Blackberry, Facebook, and Twitter members, it is to be forewarned that commencing at 7 am, police are going to examine either the entire status updates or posts which obviously offend TONG FANG clinic due to the resentment of the clinic’s main director who has nothing of the posts updated by the social media users to be ethically accepted. Anybody who feels to have made such unjustly updates are automatically charged as suspects and sentenced behind bars for 5 years. Thus, as long as there is time it is to be reminded that you had better remove all the posts regarding TONG FANG you have published from your accounts. The news has been broadcast in TV stations. Yours sincerely. Sorry for the broadcast.”

If this were to come true, hence Indonesia must have had its name erected in Guinness Book of World Records for the largest number of people legally sued: almost 40 million Facebook users from Indonesia, more than 30 million Twitter accounts, and millions of Blackberry users. And plus, up to 100 thousand civil advocates needed to speak up for their clients. Plus, regarding the statement ‘anybody who feels….automatically charged as suspects….’, I have an increasing sense of fear that the police do increasingly possess psychic powers. Only because we feel we once posted the tweets we were directly teleported into the prisons? It’s no longer terrifying; it’s all imaginary! Democracy and freedom of expression become malignant under the hands of the inscrutable!

Instead, now numerous TV stations face en masse criticism by Indonesian Broadcasting Committee (Komisi Penyiaran Indonesia, abbreviated as KPI), a regulatory body of national television broadcasting, as they perpetually continue to air the Tong Fang ads, complete with the ‘seemingly’ fabricated testimonies (those of which are later parodied) and the full-discount packages offered (a bit disconnected, I guess?).

Rather than take it seriously, just make it a Saturday-night joke. Imagine the bosses had to tirelessly debate with the 100,000 lawyers (hint: the bosses even care nothing about the ridicule! Read this post (Bahasa indonesia):

Want more ridicule? One picture is not enough!

Go to:…0.0…1ac.dAf75iO1my0

Note: it’s all only in Bahasa Indonesia. Use Google Translate as your most (un)reliable intrepreter.