Movie title: Underworld



NB: It were not going to be another ‘recycled’ vampire-vs-werewolf saga we mostly have been fed up watching year after year.

But this plot contains some metaphorical references to ‘vampire’ and ‘werewolf’. Should we set it, first, in the United States? Not necessarily, and I don’t really recommend it. We have seen pretty many movies talking about America’s underworld, and, okay, add ‘neo-Nazi gangs’ as additional spices won’t do so much. I think we should pay a particular attention on Third World countries, and given that political and social stability in those places are relatively fragile, this plot is much more suited there.

As poverty is highly prevalent, particularly in major cities as a consequence of decrepitude in government services and reliability, street gangs are oftentimes mushrooming, and in some instances, engaged in intense urban warfare. Killings, beatings, revenge, all of these perpetuate from one thug group to another, day by day. A tough guy, the main character, has grown so adjusted with it, that he has proudly termed himself as a ‘recidivist’. He has slashed his rivals’ throats, gouged one of their eyes, and cut off one of their arms, and he’s got stitches much across his body. As certain thug groups are backed by ruling parties, especially an autocratic regime, he’s subject to torture by security forces affiliated with the government. Nonetheless, no human beings are completely angelic or being permanently evil, though; in his little, suburban village, the tough guy is hailed ‘a stoic hero’, despite his overwhelming tattoos and scars on his body. He is also, unexpectedly, religious; religious in the sense that he originates from a community embracing a minority form of belief, and that community has always been ostracized by the majority. His fate is put into a big test, somehow, when the government announces to raze the entire village, and replace it with a wholly new urban development built by one of their cronies’ business empires. Some of the villagers had been bribed, some of those opposed are tortured, and rival gangs, backed by security forces, slowly intimidate every aspect of life in that village. What will the tough guy do? Either he fights the government – with a consequent risk that the entire village’s lives are put at stake, or simply acquiesce to their demands after offers of bribery – at a cost of having betrayed his fellow ‘people’?

Movie title: The Tallest City on Earth

the tallest city on earth


The theme may sound obsolescent – that post-World War fighting spirit that resonated with millions of young Americans in 1950s and 1960s, but personally I think it’s worth contemplating again, considering that it is becoming increasingly difficult for more people, not only in this country but also worldwide, in achieving their dreams and visions.

So, thanks to the random algorithmic system, this new plot has been unraveled. It will be something like a trilogy, each of which tells us a different perspective of life in 1940s New York City – the world’s Caput Mundi, epicenter of the planet where people from elsewhere strive hard to grab the American dream. There is a motivational speaker, seeing opportunities in giving fiery speeches to war-exhausted veterans about ‘the need to go on with life and strike the hardest out of it’. Then there’s a teenager, hailing from a poor immigrant family (my mental projection imagines him someone from Eastern Europe, and almost definitely a Jew), but has an IQ of above 150. Last but not least, a university student, once a trauma-beleaguered World War II soldier in Pacific theater, who is greatly gifted in mathematics. Their stories are hardly related, but they may intertwine: each of them, in Horatio Alger-esque literati, is struggling to overcome their odds, and, in ups and downs of life, by making use of Camus’ flow of thought, questioning the very existence of their lives. How their careers and life paths diverged as time went by, up to the time of 1970s, when signs of inequality, and the gradual backwardness of the city, became increasingly obvious.


Or I should use a time machine to return back to four decades earlier, I guess?

Love is Forever: teaching children to cope with loss

love is forever



Our love is a gift, a treasure to hold,
a story in our hearts forevermore.

This gift of love we have been given
is one that is pure, constant and sure.


Loss, as a matter of fact, is itself such a heavy-hearted keyword, that even conveying the word to kids itself becomes a burdensome duty. Loss, however, is an inevitable fate that everyone of us in this world will face. One day we will lose our beloved grandparents, or our parents, or our lovers, or someone else who we treasure, or who we grew up with. It comes in all forms, be it tranquil or tragic one. But we all know that dealing with it, sooner or later, is a must, and sometimes, we even must get prepared at all times with it. But, again, another problem comes: how to best equip people, especially children or toddlers, to cope with such devastating concept?

Casey Rislov and Rachel Balsaits collaborate together to publish Love is Forever, an illustration book about dealing with loss of beloved one, but this time aimed for children. Eking out a delicate balance between telling a hard truth and illustrating lightly-colored pictures, featuring owls as reflection of us human beings, Rislov and Balsaits hope that this work will inspire not only children, but also all of us, to appreciate more the meaning of life itself, and in particular, to cherish every single moment with our beloved ones, especially in such age of modernity where people are increasingly becoming self-centered.

See more examples of this illustration book in Brain Pickings.

Zen Pencils: Inspiring people with cartoon work

zen pencils


Why you should visit this website: wisdom doesn’t have to be judgmental; no human beings are born perfect, and we are all prone to making mistakes. But, one good thing about humanity, again, is our automatic tendencies to never cease reminding each other to learn from our misdeeds, to not repeat the same errors, and to live life with a wider perspective. Somehow, we also must realize that not all people are ready for feedback, in particular if it sounds harsh and superiority-inducing to one another. Gavin Aung Than, an Australian freelance cartoonist, has one creative approach to fill the void: make the fullest out of his passion – drawing adorable characters – to disseminate those messages of wisdom, preferably in a humorous and self-evaluating manner. And there comes Zen Pencils: with wise quoting by well-honored public figures, Gavin wants to prove, once more, that spreading wisdom doesn’t always have to be uni-directional. Thank you, Gavin!


Dear ladies, she wants you (only if totally ready) to shave your heads


Carly Pandza (Sinead O’Carly) is not joking about this notion; she is now organizing a huge event on it! The Los Angeles-based artist and social activist has been making that breakthrough since last year, and through that mind-provoking courage, she wants us to break a stigma not only about people worldwide who are suffering from baldness, assuming it as ‘divine punishment’. There are people suffering from cancer, having finished their strings of chemotherapy, or from alopecia, trichotillomania, and what have you, and this is heartbreaking particularly for women. And Carly has succeeded in breaking ‘the wall in the mind’ with her bald head now.

But, again, as we see from reality, not all people in the world, not all men, not all women, are willing to go hair-free. Nonetheless, at least, we now can learn a new perspective from Carly, showing that with or without hair, people should not be judged solely by their physical appearances or flaws.

Abroad, we’ve heard a lot about headshaving charities (I think there’s only one in Indonesia so far) overseas, and Carly Pandza is making that effort through ‘You Are Not Your Hair‘, a one-day female-only massive campaign held in Los Angeles by which she’s targeting approximately 200 courageous, mentally ready women to get their heads completely shaved. This event will be held on August 16 this year, and you can view her promotional video above. Only if you really, really, really want to.

Now, I must admit that you are gorgeous.


Bonus: Carly shares her experiences about going hair-free in The Bald Movement.

Innovations for Successful Societies: Achieving a civic society

innovations for successful societies


Why you should visit this website: firstly, there’s no doubt that almost every person is always questioning whatever an authority is doing. Be it city management, corruption eradication, simplification of red-tape obstacles, provision of basic welfare services, etc, etc. No doubt that many people, as well, will oftentimes get disappointed with the governments. Nonetheless, for Princeton University, this is a healthy sign. A sign that people ‘participate’ in public discourse about issues pertaining to their countries, their provinces, or their cities. That they are concerned about anything that the authority is doing, and of course, as government itself is primarily consisted of human beings, too, they’re prone to mistakes and wrongdoings.

So, how do governments, particularly in developing countries and semi-democracies where people’s voices are oftentimes overlooked and repressed, respond? Here is where the university releases a public-policy studies initiative, titled ‘Innovations for Successful Societies’. Looking into hundreds of case studies spread over 56 countries worldwide over decades, this program attempts to disseminate positive ideas, creative methods, and out-of-the-box courage as already practiced by dozens of successful leaders in their respective fields. These are just a few examples:

1. How Joko Widodo (or Jokowi, now Indonesia’s elect-president) transformed his hometown, Surakarta (Solo), from a city once plagued by crime, poverty, and extreme violence, into a creative arts and tourism hub in Southeast Asia

2. How Bertrand de Speville spearheaded massive anti-corruption efforts in transforming Hong Kong, once one of the world’s most corrupt cities, into now one equivalent to Singapore in terms of financial transparency, economic freedom, and almost non-existent red-tape practices, in less than 4 decades

3. How a former British police commissioner reformed a once-decrepit police force in Lesotho, a country completely surrounded by – and dependent on – South Africa

4. How anti-corruption watchdogs are working to bust political cronyism in several former Soviet states

Get inspired and be participating in building up your society!


Forever in chains: The tragic history of Congo

congo crisis


One of the Belgian hostages during post-independence Congo Crisis in 1960.


Misfortunes appear seemingly associated with the history of Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC as we now preferably call. Even its geographical existence itself, in agonizing terms, is a ‘colonial wound’, already carved by the personal ambitions of King Leopold of Belgium more than a century prior. Firstly known as ‘Congo Free State’, King Leopold brutally exploited his approximately all his subjects, mutilating their hands for failing to fulfill quota required by his private company. It was estimated that 10-30 million people died from 1885 to 1908, the year the colony was taken over by Belgian government directly. Renamed ‘Belgian Congo’, the colony underwent rapid economic growth, and near its independence in 1960, it became the most industrialized colony in the whole continent. Nonetheless, skills and technology transfer were virtually nearly non-existent, as bulk of the expertise was managed by a tiny white Belgian community, no more than 90,000 strong, against more than 16 million Congolese people, of whom only a few dozens had ever accomplished higher education.

As independence came, anti-Belgian sentiment was overwhelmingly terrifying; thousands of businesses were ransacked and looted, and the entire economy came into a complete stoppage. Another three-decade authoritarian rule by Mobutu Sese Seko, meanwhile, foresaw a relative political stability and a stronger Congolese identity under another more authentic African name, Zaire, but corruption remained severe in nearly all aspects. With his downfall in 1997, the whole nation plunged into an African-sized ‘World War’, by which more than 5 million civilians and soldiers died until 2003. Right now, the country ends up on the lowest bottom of the world’s poorest, desperately dependent on its mineral resources. It’s not to say the future remains bleak, but at the very least, the country needs a serious leader to unify the population, shed a light and cast a new hope on its own people, otherwise the country will not survive long, and simply end up as ‘a mere colonial wound’.

Read the whole article, published in 2006, in The Independent.




Other testimony disclosed how Belgian officers ordered their men “to cut off the heads of the men and hang them on the village palisades, also their sexual members, and to hang the women and the children on the palisade in the form of a cross”. This blood-curdling business carried on for more than 12 years before word leaked out. One of the first to blow the whistle was the captain of one of the riverboats that transported the ivory and rubber downstream to port. His name was Joseph Conrad, and eight years later he wrote a book that has shaped the emotional language in which white people discuss Africa.

It was called Heart of Darkness. The atmosphere it conjures is of fetid fever-ridden ports in an Equatorial river basin surrounded by dense tropical rainforest. It is a climate of persistent high temperatures and humidity, as enervating to the soul as to the body. It is a world of madness, greed and violence, centred on a charismatic ivory trader called Kurtz who turns himself into a demigod to the local tribes and gathers vast quantities of ivory. Eventually, he dies – “The horror, the horror,” his last words.

When the book was published in magazine serial form in 1899, it did not just expose what Conrad was to call “the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience”. It also gave backing to the writings of a man whose campaigns on the Congo the public had been reluctant to believe.

ED Morel was a clerk in a Liverpool shipping office who began to wonder why the ships that brought vast loads of rubber from the Congo returned carrying no commercial goods, but only guns and ammunition. He began to investigate the Force Publique and concluded that Leopold’s well-publicised philanthropy was in fact “legalised robbery enforced by violence”. He wrote: “I had stumbled upon a secret society of murderers with a king for a croniman.”

Both Israelis and Palestinians are losers in this conflict

Palestinians salvage their usable belongings from the rubble of their homes


An impartial, blatantly-honest food-for-thought by Daniel Barenboim about the eons-old conflict that encompasses all aspects. You can view the original article in The Guardian.

Here’s his brief essay.




Both Israelis and Palestinians are losers in this conflict

There can be no military solution. Both sides need to acknowledge the other’s suffering and their rights

I am writing these words as someone who holds two passports – Israeli and Palestinian. I am writing them with a heavy heart, as the events in Gaza over the past few weeks have confirmed my long-standing conviction that there is no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is not a political conflict but a human one, between two peoples who share the deep and seemingly irreconcilable conviction that they are entitled to the same small piece of land.

It is because this fact has been neglected that all the negotiations, all the attempts at brokering a solution to the conflict that have taken place until now, have failed. Instead of acknowledging this true nature of the conflict and trying to resolve it, the parties have been looking for easier and fast solutions. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts when it comes to solving this conflict. A shortcut only works when we know the territory we cut through – and in this case, nobody possesses that knowledge as the essence of the conflict remains unknown and unexplored.

I have deep sympathy for the fear with which my fellow Israelis live today: the constant sounds of rockets being fired, of knowing that you or someone close to you might get hurt. But I have profound compassion with the plight of my fellow Palestinians in Gaza, who live in terror and mourn such devastating losses on a daily basis. After decades of devastation and loss on both sides, the conflict has today reached a previously unimaginable level of gruesomeness and despair.

I therefore dare to propose that this may be the moment to look for a true solution to the problem. A ceasefire is of course indispensable, but it is by far not enough. The only way out of this tragedy, the only way to avoid more tragedy and horror, is to take advantage of the hopelessness of the situation and force everybody to talk to one another. There is no point in Israel refusing to negotiate with Hamas or to acknowledge a unity government. No, Israel must listen to those Palestinians who are in a position to speak with one tongue.

The first resolution that has to be achieved is a joint agreement on the fact that there is no military solution. Only then can one begin discussing the question of justice for the Palestinians, which is long overdue, and of security for Israel, which it rightfully requires. We Palestinians feel that we need to receive a just solution. Our quest is fundamentally one for justice and for the rights given to every people on Earth: autonomy, self-determination, liberty, and all that comes with it. We Israelis need an acknowledgement of our right to live on the same piece of land. The division of the land can only come after both sides have not only accepted but understood that we can live together side by side, most definitely not back to back.

At the very heart of the much-needed rapprochement is the need for a mutual feeling of empathy, or compassion. In my opinion, compassion is not merely a sentiment that results from a psychological understanding of a person’s need, but it is a moral obligation. Only through trying to understand the other side’s plight can we take a step towards each other. As Schopenhauer  put it: “Nothing will bring us back to the path of justice so readily as the mental picture of the trouble, grief and lamentation of the loser.” In this conflict, we are all losers. We can only overcome this sad state if we finally begin to accept the other side’s suffering and their rights. Only from this understanding can we attempt to build a future together.

“Yang Ketu7uh” / “The Seventh One”


For those who are still curious about how Indonesia’s 2014 presidential election became a very closely-fought one with one of the world’s highest participation rates (over 75%), you can watch the documentary’s trailer on the video above. As 17 journalists collaborated across the country to record the days leading up to the election, and the result announcement amid tensions and potential for political deadlocks, they recorded the emotions, the responses, and how ordinary people got themselves, directly and indirectly, entangled with democracy. And you can see a huge collective power running the atmosphere.

Jokowi’s homework list



I’ve actually been trying to publish this post since yesterday, but, blame the remnants of writer’s block still lingering in my mind after a year or so having not written any thousand-word articles, the draft ended up as a messily-written timeline about the rivalries between Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto. Forget that, now the media anywhere has taken everything out of it.

The victory of Joko Widodo, a commoner-looking, an everyday-like-us can-do person, is not something to underestimate with. Many have doubted his real capabilities, given his ‘appearance’ (feel free to interpret the picture above), in leading the world’s fourth most populous nation. He’s been doing great as Mayor of Surakarta (Solo) from 2005 up to 2012, gaining nearly absolute support from the 500,000 people, and he’s dared himself against corrupt bureaucrats as governor of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, and also a sprawling capital with 10 million people packed in an area no larger than Singapore, for a 2-year stint from 2012 up to 2014. And sooner or later, despite the opposite side’s accusations of ‘massive, systemic electoral fraud’ and pressure for the cancellation, which sound paradoxical (note: Prabowo relied heavily on a fragile coalition of political parties, extremists, thug-like organizations, and business elites representing Suharto’s past, while Jokowi, albeit a PDIP cadre, relied mostly on middle-class, villagers, moderates, and volunteers working day-and-night on social media to tackle black campaigns launched against him), Jokowi, as he is always referred to, will soon lead 250 million people, placing stakes at where Indonesia’s future is going to.

Okay, congratulations, Pak Jokowi, I truly believe you have had great experiences, and pioneered numerous innovative methods, in solving urban problems in both Solo and Jakarta. We must be honest, however, that many underlying problems haven’t been fully solved. They’re not gonna die down in a year, nor in the five-year tenure Jokowi and his running mate, experienced statesman Jusuf Kalla, will be trusted with, nor even in decades, not even in this generation. Problems, until the doomsday comes, will never cease to exist. Nonetheless, say the least, we should also appreciate all the attempts he had made in improving the lives of these two cities.

So, what are the problems Jokowi, Indonesia’s new president, will have to tackle within this period? Here they are:


1. Bitter pills for a long-term stability

Fuel subsidies, anywhere in any countries long hinged on it, remain a huge limbo for macroeconomic stability. Like a candy to a 5-year-old kid, it’s so addictive that the old wisdom says ‘too much candy causes your teeth rotten’. Okay, let’s not debate dentistry, but it’s definitely true that fuel subsidies have caused a huge ‘hole’ in state budgets, and many countries suffer when governments attempt to end fuel subsidies. There are protests everywhere associated with ‘fuel price increase’, and ironically, it happens in a lot of oil-rich countries, particularly Indonesia (it’s not so oil-rich anymore today). Jokowi’s foremost challenge, right now, is to make a courageous breakthrough to end fuel subsidies now costing the country nearly 30 billion US$ a year, and allocating the money instead to more investment in education and infrastructure.

2. Place the right people at the right posts, and be no Obama

No other people have been as risk-taking as Jokowi in terms of political consensus. Unlike his predecessor, the outgoing Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose cabinet is mostly filled with persons from his political parties after some power-sharing is agreed upon, he enforces every political party willing to support him to sign ‘no-lion’s-shares-attached’ treaty. That means no parties are gonna support him only to gain ministerial posts should he win the election. But, as political dynamism follows soon, Prabowo’s fragile coalition, which occupies more than 60% parliamentary seats, may at all times be ready to impose obstacles and blockades for any proposed policies by Jokowi. Two headaches for him: in an interview on Reuters, Jokowi eventually relegated that ‘at most 20% of the cabinet should be reserved to professionals from political parties’. Professionals from political parties? Hmm, I think Yudhoyono had said that five years prior. But that may be a good alternative, given that Yudhoyono’s cabinet, 80-90 percent of which I bet, is only reserved for those affiliated with political parties. And they’re disappointing, much or less. But what about Prabowo’s coalition? Well, it just kinda reminds me of Obama. He’s a great visionary, a breakthrough-maker compared to past presidents, but he always fails against the Republicans in a lot of proposed policies, most disappointingly gun control. Jokowi should be proud as Indonesia’s Obama, but he must remind himself that he can possibly fall into the same loophole Obama has been in right now. You won’t expect a government shutdown in Jakarta, and that will be really messy.

3. Make these political dynasties escape to Mars (or Moon, at least)

Massive protests in 1998, despite a huge anti-Chinese bloodshed which saw thousand lives perish, eventually brought democracy to Indonesia. Elections have been held, not only on national level, but also in every practical level you can imagine. Cities, regencies, and provinces, all of which sum up to 500 in Indonesia right now, have held direct elections, the costs of which, if calculated, may surpass tens of billions of US$. Democracy is expensive, truth be told, and any nation-state experimenting with that on early stages will find it highly formidable. Egypt is now shaken, and is still slightly shaken (despite Sisi’s rise to power), Thailand has now kept it on bay thanks to a series of military coups, and dozens of countries recount tales of democracy and the rise of political dynasties. And so is Indonesia. Elections become an economy in necessity, regardless of how paradoxical it sounds, and local dynasties rise up. Corruption used to be centralized in Jakarta, and as decentralization is massively implemented, it spreads like mushroom. Although new cities, regencies, and provinces have been carved up, people remain severely in abject poverty. It’s not to say that democracy is bad, but an emerging democracy, willingly or reluctantly, can’t avoid itself from being faced with such troubles. Now the time’s up for these dynasties; Jokowi will have to clean them up soon, and most importantly, we will need more local leaders who are clean, professional, and if preferably, technocrats. Meritocracy must always be the main priority (should it succeed).

4. You won’t ever eliminate poverty, but you can limit it

Everyone seated in Davos, Boao, New York City, what have you, never stops talking about the needs to eliminate poverty. But even Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen questions our limited perspective of what ‘poverty’ actually is. Is it an economical one, or rather a psychological one? Or simply a social label? Rich people may feel ‘poor’ if they haven’t purchased a mansion, and poor people may feel ‘blessed’ if they have enough meals to eat everyday, at least. Standards to measure poverty, in addition, remain unchanged since 1980s: a person is considered poor if he or she earns less than 1.25 US$ a day. Taking that into account (forget our government’s incredulously low statistics), as many as 100 million Indonesians are struggling to deal with life with that daily amount. Okay, we’ve got the praises from World Bank and IMF, we now have another 100 million Indonesians now entering middle class (lower-middle included). But a lot outside are getting hungry, starved with limited food provisions, something you will never expect under Suharto’s rule, despite his chronic corruption and widespread brutality. Jokowi, hailing from a lower-class family, will certainly have to deal with it, but one thing for sure: poverty, as long as humanity exists, always follows suit. At the least he should make sure that the poor get enough to eat, houses to live in, jobs to obtain, and most importantly, schools.

5. Make the fundamentalists either go to Middle East or end up in Venus

Religious tensions continue to hamper interfaith relations up to this moment, and minorities are severely affected by what a handful of extremists are doing. But we should be thankful that Indonesia, having been the world’s largest Muslim country, can successfully maintain such fragile equilibrium, by which Muslims (85%), Protestants (7%), Catholics (3%), Hindus (2%), Buddhists (1%), and hundreds of folk religions (2%) live side-by-side in peace (sorry, the statistics may not be pretty accurate). Again, though, Indonesia continues to be a spotlight, to the level of UN Human Rights Commission. Some churches remain blockaded, Ahmadiyya and Shi’ite sects (as Sunnis always claim to be ‘idiosyncratic’) continuously persecuted, and a few Buddhist temples should remove some deities’ status under pressure from a few Muslim extremists. Again, I stress out, majority of Indonesians are moderate and tolerant of each other, and it’s only this ‘few’, having been brainwashed by some dubious Saudi-based unemployed extremists supported implicitly by the kingdom, who dare to do so. Jokowi, having been dubbed ‘Chinese’, ‘Christian’, ‘Jewish’ (that’s absurd), and even ‘Communist’, will certainly have to stand up against them, something Yudhoyono right now has not pretty succeeded.

6. Research, research, research!

Truth be told, we have millions of talented, brilliant individuals with so much potential to make Indonesia a progressive state. But our current educational system, tainted with Suharto’s decades-old militarist patterns (revenge is good, seniors must wound the juniors to teach them how life is ‘pain-in-the-ass’), has been obviously a fiasco, failing to improve the lives of these millions. Exacerbate that with our chronic lack of funds for R&D. Okay, don’t compare ourselves to either United States, China, or Japan (the governments, respectively, have allocated 500, 300, and 150 billion US$ each); nor can even Indonesia match itself with neighboring countries, say, Malaysia or Singapore (each of which provides 5 and 9 billion US$ respectively for research). Economists, meanwhile, have calculated that a country should invest, at least, 2 to 3% of its GDP towards R&D to achieve long-term economic prosperity, and how much has Indonesian government allocated so far? Given its GDP of 1 trillion US$ this year, it only invests 0.2%, equivalent to approximately 2 billion US$. Will Jokowi afford to increase an astronomical spending on R&D to the level of 20 or even 30 billion US$ before the end of 2019? That will take decades. Firstly, education should continue to be reformed (given our current quality is not that supportive, frankly speaking), and to make it realistic, it would have been a spectacular momentum if Jokowi can increase R&D budget manifold, at most, into 10-15 billion US$ by the end of his tenure (make sure nobody corrupts the money though!).

7. Infrastructure please!!

Indonesia has its own ‘cholesterol problem’; like a human body with blood veins blockaded by fats or other substances, our country’s infrastructure remains in poor shape, most of which was built during Suharto’s time (thanks for an influx of easy foreign loans which burst out in 1997 crisis). Now, with our economy rapidly booming, more people are buying cars, motorcycles, using ships and airplanes than ever. Production has increasingly skyrocketed, and delivery becomes more sophisticating than ever, yielding in a huge flow of cargo movements between islands. Nonetheless, deadlocks still happen in seaports, with trucks, spanning kilometers wide, tucked in highways, oftentimes for days. Air travel becomes busier than ever, and most airports surveyed have encountered this problem known as ‘over-capacity’. Excluding ongoing power outages still imposed, even in major cities like Medan. Yudhoyono’s administration, at least we must acknowledge, has been ambitious enough to prep out investment in infrastructure systems through a 15-year economic package known as MP3EI (not some sort of MP3 product, mind you; it’s ‘Masterplan for Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development), with estimated costs between 450 and 600 billion US$. It has been partially successful, but structural problems continue unabated. Corruption, red-tapes, licensing problems, land disputes, and logistics problems, these are all problems Yudhoyono has ineffectively managed. Now, it’s time for Jokowi, and now I mention Jusuf Kalla (he’s also a national businessman engaged in infrastructure building), to continue supporting this program by eliminating obstacles related to its implementation.

8. Promote ‘Indonesia, Inc.’ abroad, be a global player, and engage the diaspora

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation, but the problem is, many foreigners, aside of those who know this country much better than we do, do not even know if there’s a country named Indonesia. Some of my friends in Hong Kong even think if Indonesia is part of India, that Indonesia is part of Bali, that Bali is in South Africa, or even just know that there is a country surrounding Malaysia or Singapore. Okay, it’s unfair to simply blame them, but many of our diplomats abroad, given limited funding from state budgets, have ineffectively promoted Indonesia’s image to international public. Our roles in facilitating international crises have been particularly limited, aside of those attributed to the end of decades-old conflicts in Cambodia and limited mediation for Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition, with the ongoing conflicts between China and ASEAN regarding South China Sea disputes, Indonesia, as ASEAN’s largest member and unofficial ‘big brother’, hasn’t completely attempted to mediate the conflicts effectively. Right now, with Indonesia’s image gradually rising as its economy now actively grows, Jokowi’s new government should use this opportunity to increase its roles in international diplomacy, most importantly through its active participation in South-South cooperation. But, for me personally, there are several regions that Jokowi’s government must prioritize in its foreign policy: Middle East (solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as he promises to support full independence for the latter), Southeast Asia (be an active player in formulating peace deals between China and ASEAN in regard to South China Seas), Africa (there’s so much potential Indonesian businesses can afford more to invest in), and Pacific region (Pacific island states usually refer to Indonesia in learning about environmental protection, and Australia must solve its own bilateral problems as well). Indonesian diaspora, in addition, is also a great potential for Jokowi to improve Indonesia’s image internationally. Estimated that between 5 and 10 million people living overseas are either Indonesians or have its ancestry line, it has unfortunately been relatively neglected by current government nowadays. Majority of them are informal workers in Middle East, Southeast and East Asia, but quite many of them are talented professionals in world-class universities. This is where Jokowi’s new government should engage them, regardless of their status, to promote Indonesia, Inc. to the world stage. Don’t ever let people outside think that Bali is in Hawaii anymore, or that Indonesians are an African tribe.


I’m getting enough with this list, but if you have more priorities you haven’t mentioned, just comment it below.


NB: Jokowi is now making efforts on crowd-sourcing; it starts with his volunteer team publishing a Google doc, by which people are persuaded to recommend experts and professionals suited for a ministerial post. Fill the document here (only in Indonesian, sorry!) if you want to, and time’s now to supervise his new government to come!