Friday, December 29, 2006

Sacrificial animal avoids the murder of the other

One can always interpret the monotheisms as sacrificial archaisms, but the texts don't prove that they are such. It's said that the Psalms of the Bible are violent, but who speak up in the psalms if not the victims of the violence of the myths: "The bulls of Balaam encircle me and are about to lynch me"? The Psalms are like a magnificent lining on the outside, but when turned inside out they show a bloody skin. They are typical of the violence that weighs on humans and on the refuge that they find in their God.

Our intellectual fashions don't want to see anything but violence in these texts, but where does the danger really come from? Today, we live in a dangerous world where all the mob movements are violent. This crowd or mob was already violent in the Psalms. Likewise in the story of Job. It – the "friends" – demanded of Job to acknowledge his guilt; they put him through a real Moscow trial. His is a prophetic trial. Is it not that of Christ, adulated by the crowds, then rejected at the moment of his Passion? These narratives announce the cross, the death of the innocent victim, the victory over all the sacrificial myths of antiquity.

Is it so different in Islam? Islam has also formidable prophetic insights about the relation between the crowd, the myths, victims, and sacrifice. In the Muslim tradition, the ram Abel sacrificed is the same as the one God sent to Abraham so that he could spare his son. Because Abel sacrificed rams, he did not kill his brother. Because Cain did not sacrifice animals, he killed his brother. In other words, the sacrificial animal avoids the murder of the brother and the son. That is, it furnishes an outlet for violence. Thus Mohammed had insights which are on the plane of certain great Jewish prophets, but at the same time we find a concern for antagonism and separation from Judaism and Christianity that may negate our interpretation.

'Rain, traffic jams are hell for the children'

City News - Heard on the Street - December 28, 2006

Governor Sutiyoso recently called on the public to spend less on holiday parties and entertainment.The Jakarta Post asked some people about their plans for New Year's Eve.

Mira Damayanti Pirous, 34, is an architect who lives with her parents, husband and son in Duren Tiga, South Jakarta:

We will spend New Year's Eve at a villa in Puncak. We like to come together as a family to see in the new year, and one of my relatives offered us the use of his villa.

We usually have a barbecue. Actually, I'd like to go to Bali or Lombok, but that's a lot more expensive.

This is the first time I've ever gone to Puncak for New Year's Eve. I usually avoid going there during holidays because of the bad traffic, but it seems I've got no choice in the matter.

Other than staying in a hotel and enjoying whatever it has on offer, I think going to Puncak is the easiest way for Jakartans to celebrate.

Pantoro Try, 32, is an environmentalist who live in Mampang Prapatan, South Jakarta, with his wife and 3-year-old daughter:

For families with toddlers, like mine, its better to stay at home or get together with family than go out.

Rain and traffic jams are hell for the children and, as parents, we can't fully relax either. Staying at home is a lot more worthwhile.

--The Jakarta Post

New railroad cars offer little benefit for disabled

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Friday, Dec 29, 2006

A tryout of newly imported used railroad cars from Japan on Thursday resulted in frustration for about 200 disabled persons and their relatives.

"Four people had to help me to get into the car, so I think I am not going to use this train," said Endang Purwaningsih from Bukit Duri, South Jakarta.

"We don't want people to have to carry us onto the train every time. What we need are proper facilities so that we can help ourselves," she added.

The tryout -- a round trip from Gambir to Bogor station and back again -- was organized by the Handicapped Care Community (Kopetunda) and state railway company PT Kereta Api for disabled people from Greater Jakarta.

The company's Greater Jakarta region spokesman, Akhmad Sujadi, promised to improve the facilities for disabled people next year.

He said the government was replacing all the railroad cars in Greater Jakarta with 160 used cars from Japan. Each car costs Rp 800 million. To date, 44 coaches have arrived in Jakarta.

Of the 68 railroad stations in Jakarta, he said, only Gambir, Pasar Senen in Central Jakarta and Kota in West Jakarta were accessible to the disabled.

"We need to figure out the number of disabled who regularly use train services and then arrange facilities for them. For the time being, our officers will help disabled people anytime they need it," said Akhmad.

Meanwhile, Indrayant from Kopetunda said that the government's lack of awareness of disabled people's rights seemed to be never ending. He said he doubted the veracity of the pledge made by the railroad company to improve access for the disabled at railroad stations in Jakarta.

Even Gambir station, Indrayant pointed out, lacked minimum standards for the disabled, such as special toilets, escalators, ticket booths and special parking spaces for the disabled.

"It's not about the number of disabled that need the service, it's about their rights as human beings," said Indrayant.

Abdul Rauf, a disabled man who participated in the trial run, doubted whether the campaign would be successful.

"I have participated in campaigns like this before and nothing happened afterwards," he said.

A frequent traveler to Bandung, West Java and Surabaya, East Java, Abdul said that only the main stations in the two cities were relatively accessible to the disabled as their platforms were level with train floors.

Noted psychologist Sartono Mukadis, who is confined to a wheelchair due to illness, said that the lack of equal access to public facilities clearly demonstrated the nation's lack of empathy.

"As a nation we are so cruel to our minorities, not only the disabled but also other kinds of minorities such as ethnic and religious minorities. We say we are religious nation. But China is not a religious nation, so why are they so concerned about people with disabilities," asked Sartono.

Data from the World Health Organization shows that 10 to 12 percent of the world's population, or more than 600 million people, have some form of disability. Some 80 percent of them are living in poor countries. It is estimated that only two percent of people with disabilities enjoy adequate access to basic needs. (02)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Firms awarded for waste management

Headline News
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Eighty-five private firms were given awards Wednesday for properly treating their liquid waste by the Jakarta municipal administration.

The firms were shortlisted from 746 industries, hospitals, hotels, apartments, offices, shopping malls, supermarkets and shops in Jakarta, which routinely send their waste to the city environmental management board's laboratory.

Criteria for the award -- best performance in liquid waste management -- is based on compliance tests of the firms' waste undertaken every three months at the agency's laboratory, the levels of waste water produced, and daily waste monitoring reports sent to the agency.

"We need serious treatment to maintain water quality in Jakarta, because the water conditions here are getting worse, while groundwater remains the dominant resource for drinking water," Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso said at the event.

The award was presented for the first time and the event is expected to be be held annually.

Sutiyoso estimated about 22,500 industrial establishments in Jakarta posed a risk to groundwater because they did not have any waste water treatment facilities.

"Some might do it on purpose. They just don't want to be responsible and don't care about the environment," he said.

He said that the administration would soon start a get-tough policy on such negligence. It would send warning letters to uncooperative companies and revoke their licenses if they did not improve their liquid waste management, he said.

Budirama Natakusumah, the head of city's environmental management board, said the gubernatorial decree on domestic waste management required every house and public building to install a wastewater treatment facility to reduce the risk of groundwater contamination.

"It is necessary to always remind enterprises and industries to treat their liquid waste before dumping it into rivers or other waterways," Budirama said.

He hoped a bylaw on liquid waste treatment would be produced soon to reduce pollution in the capital. (02)

Foundations encourage schools to go green

Thursday, December 21, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Four high schools in Greater Jakarta have integrated green and energy-efficient practices into their learning and teaching processes, thanks to the support of two foundations concerned about environmental issues.

Islamic vocational high school SMK Al Muslim in Bekasi, private vocational high school SMK Wikrama in Bogor, state high school No. 13 in South Jakarta, and state high school No. 69 in Kepulauan Seribu have each received Rp 25 million from the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation (KEHATI) and the Coca-Cola Foundation (CCF) to run their environmental programs.

"We hope that environmental issues, which are becoming increasingly more complex, also become a youth concern," Christien Ismuranty from KEHATI said Tuesday.

"We hope schools adopt a perspective on the environment and approach their management and curriculum from that perspective," she added.

KEHATI and CCF held in 2005 a competition to select high schools that were models in their communities for healthy, safe and environmentally sound practices. The four schools beat out 16 other competitors.

Under the Go Green School program, KEHATI and CCF, along with a number of other NGOs, help schools integrate a range of issues like energy conservation and recycling into their curriculum.

After a year, SMK Wikrama Bogor was selected as the best model and received another Rp 10 million to finance its green program.

The emphasis on environmental friendliness spurred SMK Wikrama to stock nutritious food in its canteen -- including vegetables grown in the schoolyard -- save money by reducing consumption and energy costs, increase the protection of natural resources and better manage its garbage.

The other three model schools practiced pollution prevention, recycling, energy efficiency and waste reduction, as well as introducing modules on coral transplantation and seaweed cultivation.

Christien said the schools were selected because of their commitment and creativity in internalizing environmental values in their management. Schools with different advantages and facilities were selected. For example, SMK Al Muslim is a private school with great facilities, while the one in Kepulauan Seribu is a state school with limited facilities.

"Being a green school does not necessarily depend on facilities and location. Wherever you are, however limited your resources, you can do something. That is our message," Christien said.

Titie Sadarini, CCF chief executive, said the foundation had given Rp 500 million to the KEHATI foundation, which will coordinate the program for four years beginning in 2004.

The Go Green School program has also encouraged the National Education Ministry and the State Ministry for the Environment to bring in an award scheme for green schools called Andiwiyata. (02)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Acer enters fray in LCD TV market

Tuesday, December 05, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The country's growing digital home entertainment market has become too hard to resist for Acer, with the top computer maker having just launched its first LCD TV in Indonesia.

Unlike conventional LCD, TVs which combine audio and visual modes only, the new product, known as the Acer Total Experience, brings combines the audio, visual and IT worlds into one experience.

Jason Lim, president director of Acer Indonesia, said Monday that the launch of the new product was designed to meet the growing demand for convergence between the information technology (IT) industry and consumer electronics (CE) industry.

"There is a growing trend now to combine IT and CE technology. As a leading PC and notebook manufacturer around the world for 30 years, we decided to bring our expertise to bear in developing this multifunction LCD TV," Jason said at the official launch.

The product is equipped with similar technology to that used in the LCD monitors in Acer's personal computers and notebooks.

Acer's product marketing manager, Daniel H. Rustandi, said that the company was very optimistic about the prospects for the new product due to the growing demand for high technology in the digital home entertainment market.

Daniel said that the new LCD TV product would be one of his company's main products in 2007, besides its notebook and PC products.

According to figures from the International Data Corporation (IDC), an independent research firm, Acer's notebooks hold a more than 30 percent domestic market share.

Daniel said the new LCD TV product was aimed at users who valued affordable cinema-like entertainment, people who needed to replace their conventional TVs and those who were technology-savvy.

The new product comes on the market this month, with prices ranging from Rp 7 million to Rp 19 million. (02)

Jakarta to host 1st international agriculture expo

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) and the Indonesian Young Entrepreneurs Association (HIPMI) will host Indonesia's first international agricultural expo in March 2007 to promote local agricultural products on both the national and international markets.

The expo, which is also intended to support government programs for the revitalizing of the agriculture sector and increasing national food stocks, will feature farm machinery, and processed and unprocessed farm products, as well as presentations on agricultural research projects.

Djoko Said Darmadjati, the director general of agricultural product processing and marketing, said the expo was part of the effort to create and promote a better image for local products in the minds of consumers by disseminating information and providing transaction venues.

The expo will be held on March 16-18, 2007, at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC) and will be hosted and mainly funded by the Bogor Institute of Agricultural (IPB), the Indonesian Young Entrepreneurs Association (HIPMI), and event organizer Performax.

Apart from the expo, there will also be a conference, workshops, field visits, one-on-one business meetings, and export, tax and trade counseling.

Rifda Ammarina, director of Performax, said that the expo would provide opportunities for all stakeholders involved in agriculture to establish ties with prospective clients. She expressed the hope that the event would gain the attention of the international business community.

HIPMI chairman Sandiaga Uno, who co-initiated the expo, said that based on a recent study, agriculture was an important entrepreneurial sector. Chastened by the 1998 economic crisis, 80 per cent of the 25,000 members of HIPMI around the country have been shifting their business focuses away from the construction sector to the agriculture sector.

"My short-term goal in initiating this expo is to create networking and to speed up the business repositioning of HIPMI's members. By 2008, we should see 10 percent of them already fully involved in the agricultural business," said Sandiaga.(02)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Reuters opens second office in Indonesia

Thursday, December 07, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Reuters Group Plc. has opened a second office in Indonesia to provide training to clients on how to use its news and information programs, and to display the full range of Reuters business products that are available here.

"The opening of the office reflects the growing demands from our clients in line with the dramatic development of the Indonesian financial markets over the last few years," Reuters business manager Tony Wong said Wednesday.

Jerry Norton, Indonesian bureau chief said that apart from general services provided by the company's main office in the Wisma Antara building in Central Jakarta, the new office would specifically service clients from the financial sector.

"It's not designed to be a general office, but is more for the purpose of training and displaying our products," he said.

Established in 1851, Reuters is the biggest multimedia company in the world with 196 bureaus in 130 countries. It provides more than 30,000 news reports in 19 languages every day, which are used by currency markets, business professionals and individuals around the globe.

The Reuters office in Indonesia was established in 1920 and continues to grow rapidly, widening the range of its business products and expanding its global reporting network for media, financial markets and the private sector.

The real-time data covers stocks, bonds and derivatives from 300 stock exchanges. It also provides historical information about more than 35,000 companies. (02)

Citigroup offering finance education to the poor

Thursday, December 07, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

As part of a global strategy to empower the disadvantaged, Citigroup has picked Indonesia as the third country where it will introduce its financial education for the poor project, which started in Peru and the Philippine two years ago.

The project, which basically provides training for trainers, is costing some US$5.3 million worldwide.

As part of the project, a one-week workshop, which started Tuesday, is being held in Jakarta, with around 30 participants taking part from Cambodia, Mongolia, Sri Langka, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Shariq Mukhtar, Citibank country business manager, said that teaching good money management practices would help people understand money management and financial law, thereby hopefully helping them to improve their well-being.

"This is a model I feel very proud of because it educates the consumers.

"When you have an educated consumer, it will result in a stable banking industry as people will pay back their money at the right time and the money will then go to the next eligible family," explained Mukhtar.

The project kicked off two years ago with a study to identify the needs of clients around the globe and identify key learning objectives. After the creation of modules and pilot programs, the team came up with a generic module design, which in turn can be localized and adapted to the needs of specific countries.

The module covers such areas as budgeting, savings, debt management, banking services and financial negotiations.

For the preparation of the module, Citibank spent about $3.9 million out of a total of $5.3 million. The remainder of the money is now being used for the dissemination of the curriculum around the globe through in-country training.

"There is a long way to go, and many things to do regarding this program, such as how to localize and adopt the module's materials to enable it to be implemented it in Indonesia," said Danielle Hopkins, Financial Education Manager of Microfinance Opportunities, a micro enterprise resource center, who had helped developed the financial education curriculum, based on successful micro finance practices in several countries.

Six educational institutions and microfinance institutions with good track-records in microfinance sector in Indonesia have been selected as dissemination partners by the bank. They will now be trained as service providers for the program.

Ditta Amahorseya, senior vice president and country corporate affairs head of Citigroup Indonesia, said Citigroup would be targeting the members of 75 different institutions from around the country to receive training in 2007. (02)

Sentul could be an inspiration

The Jakarta Post, Dec 11, 2006

The A1GP race is entering its second year and although it has yet to be as popular as the Formula One, it has started to attract more racing lovers around the globe. The Jakarta Post's Matheos Messakh spoke to A1GP Chief Operating Officer David Clare on the sidelines of Indonesia's race at Sentul circuit, south of Jakarta, over the weekend, on the challenges and the future of the sport.

Question: What are the problems the A1GP has faced?

Answer: We are very much a young series and I think our main challenge is awareness, making sure people understand what we do and aware we are different to the other series.

You talked about focusing on the Asian market. Why are you interested in the market?

The Asian market is the market that we are trying to develop. A lot of the Asian markets are fairly new in motorsports. The traditional European or North American markets are well developed.

So as a series, A1GP is in the opposite side of the other series. It makes sense and we have a lot of interest within the Asian market. So it's a very important part of our future. Also a lot of manufacturers and a lot of development in the automotive industry is around the Asian market.

Is it true that in the first year you suffered financial losses? How do you see the future of A1GP?

It's like starting any other business. At the first year, there's a lot of capital investment.

But since the end of last season, we had significant interest from major international corporations, slightly coming in. Most of them will invest in the series. They seem to approve of what we have done in the first year and we are in to the second season.

We may be able to announce initial sponsorship partnerships in the next few months.

About the sport itself, in other series you would say that technology plays maybe 75 percent of the quality of the car. But we hope here is the driver-engineer team combination that makes up the majority of the performance.

So if you have a good engineer and a driver working together closely then the car can improve significantly.

As a new championship, is the A1GP going to have one or two main established sponsors or are you looking for several different sponsors?

Currently, we're thinking of arranging global sponsors to run every car as well as a national sponsor on each car. We haven't considered having a serious type of sponsor yet. We haven't been looking to do that because we want to make sure that the brand in itself is strong.

Do you have any plans to expand the number of teams?

There is always a plan to have some more teams, maybe in the autumn. Twenty-five is a good number, 28 is probably the maximum. But if you look at most series around the world, lots of them are in 18, 20 or 22 cars. So already we are competitive within the numbers.

In the future, are you going to make A1 the final destination of top drivers?

In many situations we hope we have our own group of drivers who want to race in A1. One or two of our drivers, for example Alex Yoong of Malaysia has spent half of his carrier with A1 and he has been very supportive.

I think you'll find opportunities in certain markets. We will be the pinnacle of opportunity to certain countries.

What is your opinion about Sentul in terms of its liability for racing? Is there anything that needs to be improved?

Definitely it needs to be upgraded a little bit. Track service and things like that need to be improved. But as a venue, the location is good, it's very popular, it creates very good TV images, which is good for us and for Indonesia.

From a technological point of view, there are certain things that need to be done to the circuit. Developing awareness about the facilities, getting people to want to come here to compete themselves.

The important thing is Indonesia as a country with (a big) enough population, should be a significant player in the industry, both in the automotive side and also from the sport side.

Indonesia needs to use this (circuit) as a catalyst for the development of motorsport, not only the domestic thing but also having a major event here gives people the start to aspire to "One day I would like to drive those cars".

New Zealand's twofold win at Sentul

The Jakarta Post, Sentul, West Java

New Zealander Jonny Reid claimed his first ever double victory at the rain-disrupted A1GP race in Sentul circuit, south of Jakarta, on Sunday.

Racing from the starting grid, Reid won the feature race after clocking one hour 10 minutes and 36.607 seconds. He had earlier won the 15-lap sprint race in 19 minutes 41.054 seconds.

He had a tough race against championship leader Nico Hulkenberg of Germany, who finished second with 1:10.37.785, followed by France's Nicolas Lapierre with 1:10:40.869.

Indonesia's Ananda Mikola, who had hoped to reach the podium in front of the home crowd, finished 11th with 1:10:44.586. Ananda also failed to make a mark in the sprint race, finishing 14th in 20:07.032.

"It was not a straightforward race at all and the weather came in and played a big part in that race," Reid said in a press conference.

"After the start of the race I was struggling quite a lot and at the pit stop we made a change and the car was much, much better, as you could see in the lap times. I snatched back the lead and pushed hard to get a gap. We put a lot of push on at the end and I just got my head down," he added.

Speaking on his chances in the next race in Taupo, New Zealand, from Jan. 19-21, Reid said he has never driven there.

"I think the track will be slippery because it's a new circuit," he said.

The race was delayed for about half an hour after a heavy downpour.

Reid made an excellent start and retained his advantage over Hulkenberg to win by 1.178 seconds, his first A1GP Feature race victory.

"Fortunately I was able to take the win today. Germany and myself have shown a clear pace in qualifying for the first half of the season and I am confident we can keep that pace up," the German driver said.

The wet track caused some problems, with Great Britain's Robbie Kerr spinning out on the 38th of 47 laps. The safety car came out due to the incident.

Germany still leads the overall standings with 48 points after five races, followed by Great Britain with 36 points and Mexico with 33 points. Indonesia is tied with Ireland at the bottom with one point. (02)

New Zealander secures A1 pole

Sunday, December 10, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Jonny Reid of New Zealand's A1 Team snatched the pole position Saturday for Sunday's Sprint race at the Gudang Garam A1GP Sentul, with a last-gasp flying lap in the final minutes of the qualifying session.

Reid's total time was just 0.034 seconds quicker than Great Britain's Robbie Kerr, who also moved up in the last minute to secure second position from Germany's Nico Hlkenberg for Sunday's 15-lap Sprint race.

Reid performed powerfully throughout the four segments, setting top five times in all sessions, but it was his last lap that grabbed pole.

"It's quite hard in today's qualifying due to the weather conditions, but I'm glad to be on the pole position, and looking forward to the race," said Reid.

He now looks to achieve a better result in Sentul than when he competed in Brno, Czech, the last race he started on pole, where he ran into the wall before the first corner after a clash with Hlkenberg.

Meanwhile, Kerr could only post the fifth quickest in the third until a massive push in the final minute moved him into second ahead of Hlkenberg.

"It was an unfortunate situation. I think we both have misjudged the circuit corner but we have been moving on and will be focusing on winning the race tomorrow," Kerr said.

After recording the fastest time in session one, 0.064 seconds quicker than Reid, Hlkenberg looked set to score yet another pole position, however he failed to match the pace in the remaining three 15-minute portions and dropped down to third overall.

Hlkenberg said he had made minor set-up adjustments between sessions, and felt the car was better Saturday.

"Yesterday I actually had a problem, but today, I felt much better and enjoyed the track. For me the weather does not really matter. I like both, the wet and the dry conditions. I'm ready for both conditions."

Mexican Salvador Duran, after setting the fastest time in the morning's earlier practice session, steadily improved his lap times to start the race from fourth position. Duran's combined times were enough to win the position against Phil Giebler of the USA, who posted the fastest time in the third session. Defending champions France will start the race in seventh behind Australia.

Ireland's A1 Team's new racer, Richard Lyons, had an eventful first A1GP qualifying when he ran wide into a tire wall at Turn Three during the second session and caused a red flag period.

He returned to the pits to repair the car and continued in the remaining sessions to start Sunday's Sprint race from 18th on the grid.

Team Indonesia's Ananda Mikola, with an aggregate time of 2.35.519, will start from seventeenth position, after India's Armaan Ebrahim.

The Sprint race is due to start Sunday morning at 11 a.m. with the result determining the grid for the afternoon's 50-lap Feature race, which will be moved back half an hour from the original scheduled time of 3 p.m. in anticipation of rain later in the afternoon. (02)

Ananda wants more than just points in A1 race

Friday, December 08, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Lido, West Java

Weather conditions and quick newcomers are threatening Indonesian driver Ananda Mikola's ambition to reach the podium during the A1 Grand Prix races at the Sentul circuit, south of Jakarta, this weekend.

"I know the circuit better... but it's easy to make a mistake when you push too hard. We set some good lap times here last season so I know I can be up there," Ananda said Thursday.

"Hopefully the spectators will help us. I want to be on the podium, even though the team only expects me to get points."

So far, Indonesia has collected one point from four races and is at the bottom of the standings.

A huge crowd, similar to last season's audience in February, is expected to attend this weekend's extravaganza.

"I hope we will have very good attendance this year because we are better prepared. We have worked closely with the Indonesian government and the organizers to ensure the spectators have more enjoyable experience. Yes, it's a last-minute preparation but more people are aware of this event than last season's," said David Clare, A1GP chief operating officer.

Drivers are facing competition from quick newcomers at the A1GP.

"There are four or five new young stars appearing in the A1 this year. I'm sure more will appear in the future and I think that will be a challenge to established drivers, like Ananda," Clare said.

Malaysian driver Alex Yoong, who won the A1GP Sentul leg in February, said all drivers, including Ananda, would have an equal chance to win.

"He had the toughest time this year, but in Europe last season he was as quick as anybody else. He just needs to stay up for the whole weekend," Yoong said.

"I'm expecting an exciting race here and hopefully we can do as good as what we did here last season."

Malaysia is currently third on the leaderboard with 24 points after Germany, backed by Nico Hulkenberg, with 37 points and Great Britain with 31 points.

One of the newcomers, Ho-Pin Tung of China is hoping for a quick debut.

"Maybe I will suffer a bit. I'm not familiar with the car and the track and I have no experience at all in the race," he said.

Ho-Ping Tung is the newly crowned 2006 German Formula 3 Champion and comes to Sentul after testing a World Series Renault car at the Valencia track in Spain for the Belgian KTR team.

The weekend's action kicks off Friday with a practice session, followed with qualifications rounds on Saturday and the sprint and feature races on Sunday.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to officially open the event. (02)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Foundation grooming Indonesian Einsteins

Monday, December 04, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Inspired by the achievement of its students in international science and math competitions over the past 10 years, a school foundation has launched a special class for gifted high school students for the next academic year.

BPK Penabur, in collaboration with the Surya Institute, will open what is dubbed the Brilliant Class with a specially designed three-year curriculum, with a focus on the sciences and maths at high school, under-graduate and graduate levels.

"From my experience with students who have won prizes in the physics Olympiad, it only takes one year for them to master the materials at the bachelor and master's level. Why should we slow them down?" said Yohanes Surya, the chairman of Surya Institute.

The class, which will be conducted at Gading Serpong Christian High School in Tangerang, only admits students with an IQ of 150 or above, who are well above average or categorized as a genius. The selection of students will start in January 2007.

"About one in every 1,000 people has an IQ of 150 or above and about one in every 11,000 people has an IQ of 160, which is the level of Einstein. It means that Indonesia with its huge population has about 25,000 Einsteins," said Yohanes who is also the chairman of the Indonesian Physics Olympiad Foundation (TOFI).

Yohanes, who used to work with the U.S. Nuclear Physics Center in Virginia, said Indonesia had been left behind in the field of science because the government had not made the most of its people's talents and had not set up the basic conditions that would encourage its scientists to come home after studying abroad.

The class, that aims to prepare students to study in high ranking universities in the U.S., will be taught by a group of experienced university lecturers using a special curriculum focusing on mathematics, physics, biology and chemistry, developed by the Surya Institute.

Yohanes, who met President George W. Bush during his recent visit in Bogor, said the president had endorsed his idea of expanding quotas for outstanding students from Indonesia in American universities.

A total of Rp 2.2 billion (US$241,700) a year is needed for the program while the education of a student costs Rp 100 million annually.

BPK Penabur, which was established 56 years ago, has 120 schools in Jakarta, West Java and Lampung provinces. Some of its students have excelled in national and international science and mathematics competitions. On such student is Jonathan Mailoa who won a gold medal at the International Physics Olympiad in Singapore last year.

Surya Institute established a "super-class" at State High School No.3 in Setiabudi, South Jakarta, in September 2005 in collaboration with the Jakarta Secondary Education Agency, the TOFI and car maker BMW Indonesia.

The institute has also received several applications for a similar project from several other schools including Al Maarif High School in Surabaya.

By working together with more and more school institutions, the Surya Institute hopes to reach its target of sending 200 brilliant students to study at top U.S. universities every year.

"From the financial point of view, this is a high-cost project, but in the long run we hope we can contribute a lot to the human capital in this country," said Yohanes. (02)

Friday, December 01, 2006

KKP RI-Timor Leste Terbentuk

Deutsche Welle 1, Agustus 2005

Indonesia dan Timor Leste serentak mengumumkan nama 10 anggota Komisi Kebenaran dan Persahabatan, KKP.

Secara serentak, pemerintah Indonesia dan Timor Leste Senin kemarin mengumumkan susunan anggota Komisi Kebenaran dan Persahabatan, KKP, yang resmi terbentuk dan mulai bertugas 1 Agustus 2005. Dalam Keterangan Pers yang dikeluarkan Kementerian Luar Negeri di Jakarta disebutkan, Indonesia akan diwakili oleh 5 anggota, dan Timor Leste juga oleh 5 anggota komisi. Anggota dari Indonesia adalah Ahmad Ali, Wisber Loeis, Benjamin Mangkudilaga, Petrus Turang dan Agus Widjojo. Sedangkan anggota komisi dari Timor Leste adalah Jacinto Alves, Diorinicio Babo, Aniceto Guterres, Felicidade Guterres dan Cirilio Varadles.

Rekomendasi Kejadian di Timor Leste

Kepada wartawan, Juru Bicara Departemen Luar Negeri, Yuri Thamrin mengatakan, para anggota komisi adalah tokoh-tokoh masyarakat yang tidak diragukan lagi kemampuannya dalam menyelesaikan konflik di kedua belah pihak. Yuri mengatakan, KKP nantinya akan mengeluarkan sebuah rekomendasi bagi kedua belah pihak mengenai apa yang sesungguhnya terjadi di Timor Leste tahun 1999. Tapi KKP tidak akan menyebut siapa saja yang bertanggungjawab atas peristiwa pasca jajak pendapat di Timor Leste, juga tidak akan menyebut nama yang sebaiknya diajukan ke persidangan. KKP hanya akan melengkapi laporan Komisi Pencari Fakta yang sudah dibuat sebelumnya, demikian Yuri Thamrin.

Tanggapan Terbentuknya KKP

Banyak pengamat menilai, komisi ini sebenarnya tidak berarti apa-apa dalam upaya mengungkapkan apa yang sebenarnya terjadi selama aksi bumi hangus di Timor-Timur tahun 1999. Mattheos Messakh, seorang jurnalis yang cukup lama mengikuti kasus ini menerangkan, KKP sebenarnya tidak punya mandat apa-apa.

Matheos Messakh: „Komisi ini tidak melakukan investigasi sendiri, mereka hanya memeriksa berkas-berkas dari komisi sebelumnya. Sedangkan komisi ini bisa memberikan amnesti kepada pelaku, walaupun mereka tidak melakukan pengusutan sendiri. Jadi, akhirnya komisi ini hanya akan memberi amnesti kepada para pelaku pelanggaran hak asasi manusia, yang membunuh dan melakukan perusakan. Ini mungkin bukan maksud sebenarnya, tapi ini yang akan dihasilkan, kalau kita lihat mandatnya.

Tapi jurubicara Kementerian Luar Negeri Yuri Thamrin kepada Deutsche Welle menjelaskan, komisi ini tidak dimaksudkan untuk menutup-nutupi masa lalu.

Yuri Thamrin: „Komisi ini akan bekerja dengan kredibel, komisi ini tidak dimaksudkan untuk menutup-nutupi masa lalu. Komisi ini tentu akan bekerja dalam sorotan banyak pihak, tidak hanya masyarakat internasional tapi juga di dalam negeri.“

Gereja Katolik di Timor Leste juga mengeritik pembentukan Komisi Kebenaran dan Persahabatan. Para uskup di Timor Leste menegaskan, para pemimpin politik telah menyangkal hak rakyat Timor Leste untuk meraih keadilan. Gereja Katolik Timor Leste menuntut PBB untuk membentuk pengadilan internasional. Hanya dengan jalan itu, keadilan bagi para korban pelanggaran HAM pada masa jajak pendapat bisa diraih, demikian disebutkan. Juga Selandia Baru menuntut adanya ‚pengadilan yang kredibel’ bagi para pelanggar HAM di Timor Timur. (hp)

Bantar Gebang

Sifon; Persepsi tentang Kekuatan Seks

Jawa Pos, Rabu, 5 April 2006

Bagi kaum laki-laki, sunat adalah hal yang wajar, bahkan malah jadi suatu keharusan. Lalu, ada tradisi yang mengharuskan laki-laki setelah sunat berhubungan intim dengan minimal tiga perempuan yang berbeda secara bertahap. Namanya sifon. Bagaimana prosesi sifon itu?

Tradisi merupakan suatu hal unik yang memperkaya keanekaragaman budaya. Bentuk dan jenis tradisi itu bisa berupa apa saja. Salah satunya adalah sifon. Sifon tak berbeda dengan mitos-mitos lain yang berhubungan dengan fungsi seksual pria. Tradisi tersebut masih banyak dilakukan di Nusa Tenggara Timur. Karena dipercayai berkaitan erat dengan keperkasaan, kejantanan, dan keharmonisan keluarga, tradisi sifon dipegang sangat kuat, baik oleh laki-laki maupun perempuan yang menjadi mitra seksualnya.

Karena itu, banyak perempuan lajang yang mengharuskan calon suaminya disifon sebelum menikah. Banyak pula istri yang mendorong suaminya yang belum disifon untuk menjalani sifon.

Sering laki-laki yang tidak atau belum disifon akan diolok-olok atau disindir, biasanya dilakukan dalam pertemuan-pertemuan komunal. Tetapi, bagaimana sebenarnya tradisi itu dilakukan?

Sifon biasanya dilakukan bertahap dan masing-masing tahap mempunyai makna berbeda-beda. Sebelum melakukan sunat dan sifon, ada tahapan yang disebut naketi, yaitu pengakuan kepada dukun sunat tentang berapa kali seorang laki-laki pernah berhubungan seks sebelum disunat.

Seberapa banyak seorang laki-laki pernah berhubungan seks akan disimbolkan dengan sejumah batu yang dikumpulkan untuk diberikan kepada dukun sunat. Bila terlalu sering berhubungan seks, biasanya cukup disimbolkan dengan batu besar.

Tahap pertama, bertujuan membuang panas, maksudnya adalah membuang bala atau penyakit. Bila tidak menempuh tahap ini, dipercaya akan terjadi musibah. Misalnya, terjangkit penyakit, rumah tangga tidak harmonis, dan anak-anak mudah terserang penyakit.

Caranya adalah dengan melakukan hubungan seks dengan perempuan tua yang sudah berumur atau dengan perempuan yang sudah memiliki banyak anak. Prosesi pembuangan panas itu dilakukan ketika kondisi luka sunat hampir sembuh, yaitu 4-8 hari setelah disunat. Dia harus berhubungan seks untuk memecahkan bengkak luka sunat.

Tahap kedua disebut saeb aof atau menaikkan badan. Pada tahap ini, hubungan seks dipercaya dapat mengembalikan kesegaran tubuh atau mengembalikan darah yang terbuang pada saat sunat. Pada tahap ini, pelaku sifon dianjurkan berhubungan seks dengan perempuan muda atau yang masih lajang.

Selanjutnya adalah tahap ha’ekit atau tahap melicinkan dan menghaluskan. Dalam tahap ini, pelaku tradisi itu percaya bahwa hubungan seks dapat menghaluskan luka-luka atau gelambir luka pada alat kelamin setelah disunat.

Rentan Penyakit Menular

Bila ditelaah lebih lanjut, sebenarnya praktik sunat yang diikuti sifon sangatlah membuka peluang bagi penularan penyakit menular seksual (PMS), terutama bagi perempuan.

Kerentanan perempuan terhadap PMS sebagai praktik sifon itu disebabkan pada umumnya laki-laki yang menjalani sunat telah lebih dari satu kali berhubungan seks dengan perempuan yang sudah terbiasa melakukan hubungan seks (PSK). Apalagi hubungan seksual itu dilakukan ketika alat kelamin dalam keadaan luka atau infeksi sehingga pelaku tradisi tersebut berpotensi terjangkit penyakit menular seksual.

Anggapan yang muncul di masyarakat wilayah itu -sunat dan sifon dapat meningkatkan daya seksual laki-laki- semakin menyuburkan praktik sifon sekaligus mempunyai daya paksa bagi laki-laki untuk melakukannya. Akibatnya, posisi daya tawar perempuan menjadi lemah.

Hal itu memunculkan dominasi kuasa laki-laki yang menempatkan perempuan pada posisi tidak berdaya dan tidak berani menolak tuntutan tradisi sifon. Padahal, selain penularan PMS, perempuan rentan terhadap tindakan diskriminatif dan kekerasan. Tetapi ironisnya, perempuan sendiri menerima hegemoni nilai di balik sifon sebagai sebuah tradisi yang wajib dan tidak bisa ditolak.

Itulah fenomena menarik tradisi sifon yang menggelitik hati seorang Ferderika Tadu Hungu untuk melakukan penelitian ini.

Metode pengumpulan data dilakukan Tadu melalui wawancara mendalam dan FGD (focus group discussion). Informan penelitian dipilih secara snowball terhadap 42 orang perempuan yang berstatus sebagai istri.

Sasaran penelitian Tadu itu dibagi atas empat kelompok, yaitu perempuan yang suaminya belum disifon, perempuan yang menikah dengan laki-laki yang telah sifon sebelum menikah, perempuan yang menikah dengan laki-laki yang melakukan sifon setelah menikah, dan perempuan yang melayani sifon.

Dalam proses pengumpulan data, Tadu dibantu beberapa perempuan lokal. Namun dalam perkembangannya, mereka keberatan karena masalah-masalah seksual masih dianggap tabu selain ada beban psikologis sebagai sesama warga. Juga, saat wawancara, para informan biasanya dikelilingi suami atau saudara laki-laki mereka. Jalan keluarnya, Tadu melakukan pendekatan kepada informan tatkala suami-suami mereka tidak berada di rumah.

Maskulinitas dalam Tradisi Sifon

Dalam praktik sifon itu, peranan dukun sunat cukuplah dominan. Dukun menjadi sarana penyebar informasi mengenai sunat dan sifon. Pada umumnya, dukun sunat adalah orang yang mempunyai pengaruh dan posisi yang dihormati dalam masyarakat atau gereja.

Selain itu, dukun sunat pandai sekali membaca wajah laki-laki yang sudah disunat dan laki-laki yang belum disunat. Mereka mengatakan bahwa laki-laki yang sudah disunat dan melakukan sifon akan terlihat bercahaya, segar, dan mempunyai fisik yang kuat.

Hampir semua informan dalam penelitian ini menyatakan, sifon membuat hubungan seks dengan suami lebih memuaskan karena lebih lama ejakulasinya. Begitu pula sebaliknya, laki-laki yang ejakulasi dini dianggap egois karena tidak dapat memuskan istri dan hanya untuk kepuasan sendiri.

Menurut mereka, hal itu terjadi bukan karena tidak ada kerja sama antara suami-istri untuk kenikmatan seksual, tetapi akibat gesekan dari kulit alat kelamin suami yang mengakibatkan ejakulasi dini.

"…jika berhubungan dengan istrinya, itu akan membuat istrinya puas dan kelihatan cantik," ujar Yu, salah seorang informan.

Pernyataan tersebut menunjukkan bahwa sifon bisa membuat laki-laki kuat dan perkasa dalam hubungan seksual. Di samping itu, semakin sering seorang laki-laki melakukan hubungan seks, mereka dianggap semakin gagah.

Mereka mengangap laki-laki yang impoten bukanlah laki-laki sejati. Sebab, kejantanan dianggap melambangkan kehidupan laki-laki sehingga jika tak lagi berfungsi, orang itu tak berguna lagi dan disamakan dengan perempuan atau banci. Hal tersebut dipengaruhi kepercayaan bahwa laki-laki yang disunat tanpa sifon akan mengalami impotensi.

Meski demikian, lima orang informan menyatakan cukup menikmati hubungan seks tanpa mempermasalahkan suami sifon atau tidak. Temuan menarik lainnya dalam penelitian ini adalah kesediaan dan kesetujuan kaum ibu jika anak laki-lakinya menjalani sifon. Namun, mereka tidak mau j anak perempuannya menjadi sasaran sifon. Mereka jelas-jelas tidak mau nama keluarga tercemar serta agar anak perempuannya tidak mendapatkan penyakit kotor akibat menjadi tempat "buang panas". (yg/ryn)

Students' designs win national awards for future bicycle

Thursday, November 30, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Three students from a state high school in Denpasar are happy enough to have won the first and second prizes in a national bicycle design competition, but are unconvinced their works will ever see daylight.

"We are happy of course, but from our past experience we are afraid that these designs will never become real products because there is no financial support," said Gana Sudibya, who also once won second prize in the high school student category at a national electronics design competition.

On Saturday Gana, Budi Riyanta and Aditheya Indra from Denpasar took first and second prize in the high school student category of the bicycle competition, while Rinata Permana, Roghib Hujja and Didik Rahmawan from Purwokerto won third prize.

In the university student and public category, Doni Luwantoro, a Surabaya-based designer, won first prize, while Pandu Purwandaru, a student at the Bandung Institute of Technology and Aris Indarto, a student at Gajah Mada University won second and third prize respectively.

The competition, which opened in June, was held by Pancasila University in collaboration with the United Bike manufacturing company, the National Center for Design and the Directorate General of Intellectual Property Rights.

The judging committee received more than 80 entries from 12 provinces, which by the end of September had been whittled down to a shortlist of 30.

A final evaluation by the panel of four judges took into account each design's creativity, marketability, and aesthetic aspects, in addition to innovation relating to its mechanical components, structure and performance.

Eleven finalists gathered Friday in the hall of the department of technology at Pancasila University for the final evaluation.

Gana, Budi and Aditheya said they got the ideas for their "G-2, smart technology for healthy life" and "grasshopper" designs from characters in a children's movie about insects. They took home a total of Rp 2.5 million (US$228), two trophies and two bicycles.

"These are really imaginative ideas, if we don't want to call them crazy. Can you imagine a bicycle with a computer chip or hydrocarbon power? These students are really brilliant. I think that, as high school students, they must read a lot, because some of their ideas (involve) NASA-like technology," said Edi Jatmiko a judge from Pancasila University.

"As an educator, however, we have to encourage these efforts, and it is not impossible to bring them into reality," he added.

Another judge, Janto Hasan, said most of the designs simply needed slight modifications in order to be manufactured.

"There are some designs (that currently would have) high production costs, but we only need to change some materials and to do some slight alterations to the design if we want to produce them on a large scale," he said.

Budi Darmadi, the director general of transportation and telecommunications at the Industry Ministry, said that Indonesia needed to increase its bicycle production because the national demand for bikes exceeded supply.

"The national demand is five billion a year; meanwhile we can only produce two billion a year. Moreover, about 650,000 of those produced nationally are earmarked for export," said Darmadi.

He added that he encouraged the university to rush through the intellectual property rights applications for the designs and send the prototypes to the upcoming national industrial exhibition.

Fahri Hamzah, a member of the House of Representatives' industrial commission, said he would urge his colleagues at the commission to adopt policies that were in favor of the bicycle industry.

"We hope that this competition will not merely emphasize the design but will also make applying for intellectual property rights a priority," he said.

Lahindah, a judge from the Directorate General of Intellectual Property Rights, said that the winning designs would be registered for intellectual property rights.

"The designs are may not fall into the category of originality, but are in the category of newness and industrial applicability" she said. (02)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Mengubah Dunia dengan hal-hal kecil

Langkah 1#
Kurangi kantong plastik sebisa mungkin

Jika setiap orang di negara ini menggunakan minimal 1 kantong plastik setiap harinya, berarti dalam setahun sekurang-kurangnya harus diproduksi 90 milyar (360 x 250 juta) kantong plastic untuk memenuhi kebutuhan orang Indonesia.

Sebuah kantong plastik membutuhkan waktu 500 tahun untuk membusuk di tanah. Satu hari berbelanja, berdampak sampai 500 tahun.

Ada pilihan lain. Orang menyebutnya ‘tas belanja’ yaitu menggunakan satu tas yang sama setiap kali berbelanja. Selain mengurangi dampak pada lingkungan juga modelnya stylish dan elegan.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Walking into the trap of urban life

Matheos Messakh

Charniyah doesn’t relish the idea of leaving the miniscule hut she has been living in for the past 10 years. Sitting with her baby on the porch of the hut made of cardboard, plywood and tarpaulin, she sighs, “The only skill I have is to scavenge, so every day I hope the disposal continues so we can make a living.”
The stench of garbage and the flies buzzing are familiar to her. Just off the porch, bunches of threadbare clothing dangle from nylon ropes. The yard is so full of piles of collected trash that it is difficult to distinguish between the huts and the rubbish.
As far as the eye can see, tons of trash from small mountains, where men, women and children prowl around and fight with each other for usable items before the bulldozers and scrapers cover over the garbage.
“I do worry about my safety, but I am more worried about getting something to eat,” said Charniyah, referring to the collapse of refuse heap at the Bantar Gebang dump that killed three scavengers, two months ago.
Charniyah, 23, is one of the 3,000 scavengers living in the shanties scattered around the mountains of trash at the Bantar Gebang dump located about 13 kilometers away from city of Bekasi. Most of Jakarta’s garbage is sent at the dump. Around 600 trucks work around the clock to deliver about 6,000 tons of trash every day. Reaching up to 15 meters in height, these mountains of garbage provide sustenance for the people of Sumur Batu, Cikiwul, and Ciketing Udik subdistricts.
Charniyah’s family has eked out a harsh livelihood from the urban trash for many years. By age six, she had become a scavenger and is no stranger to hardship. Her father, a scavenger too, had brought her and her mother from their home village in Indramayu, West Java, to Bantar Gebang because he could not make a living as a landless peasant.
At the age of 12, a time when most children are enjoying their time at school, Charniyah chose to quit school to help her parents. Not long after that, she got married to a scavenger at the age of 13, and now she has two sons, a seven-year old, and a nine-month old.
The scavengers in Bantar Gebang have something in common: Most of them are landless peasants coming from areas, such as Karawang, Indramayu and Semarang. They rely on their bosses, who usually have links to some factories that buy the collected garbage in large quantities.
The scavengers compete to gather saleable items from dawn to dusk. Using hooks and baskets, they pick and choose tin and aluminum cans or other containers, plastic bags, bottles and bones from the mountains of trash. They are careful, however, to never pick a fight over any item, no matter how valuable it may seem. “If you don’t compete, you get nothing. However, nobody will ever snatch away a thing from the one who first picked it up; we are all in the same boat,” said Charsiti, 25, a mother of two.
Every 10 to 15 days – when the collected trash has been cleaned and sorted, the scavengers sell it to their boss for variety of prices depending on the type and quality of the items.
The most valuable trash is aluminum, worth Rp 6,000 (US$ 5) per kilogram. Plastic bags are woth Rp 2,500 per kilo while cans and bones bring in Rp 300 a kilo and bottles bring Rp 150 per kilo.
These are the fixed prices from the boss who provides them with land to erect their huts, and a water pump for each 30 houses. He also provides electricity for each house but not for free; he charges each household Rp 10,000 monthly.
Apart from that, the boss also fronts them cash for daily meals. “We choose the boss who can pay us beforehand, because we need the money on a daily bases,” Charsiti said. “Beside, who else would see you had money for meals if you got sick and could not work for one day or two?” said the women who has been a scavenger for four years.
In a month Charniyah’s family can make around Rp 400,000 but the money is mostly spent on food, especially for the children. “With no kids in the house, we spend only about Rp 10,000 for meals a day, but with two kids, that is not enough,” she said.
She acknowledged that sometimes, after calculating the price of the garbage they collect and subtracting the debt they owe for their daily meals, they might receive no cash at all from the boss. In that case, they would have to ask for loan.
When they face certain situation, such as getting seriously ill, or giving birth, they can only rely on the helping hands of their fellow scavengers. “Most of the time it is enough to rely on medicine we buy from nearby kiosks, but when we are seriously ill, our neighbors will chip in together to pay for medical treatment,” said the woman who had to pay Rp 150,000 to the midwife who helped her give birth to her youngest son.
In another hut, Sari, 25, has her own strategy for coping with the situation. Sometimes, she and her husband can save up to Rp 50,000 in their piggy bank because they have sent their two children to their parents in their village in Indramayu.
Before her marriage to a scavenger, Sari had worked at a shellfish nursery in Cilincing, North Jakarta, but now scours the mountains of rubbish for a living. “As a woman, I have to follow my husband, whatever his job is,” she said.
“The trouble with scavenging is that if you cannot overcome the fear in your heart, you won’t have anything to eat,” said this primary school dropout.
Even with the danger of landslides in mind, she has no intention of getting out of the scavenger business. “I had looked for jobs from door to door at many factories before I started scavenging, but every door I turned to was closed in my face because ia have no skills,” she added.
Like every other women in the scavenger community, she puts her hope in her children. “Gaining material things is impossible for me. No matter how I try, I never will. Therefore I would rather have lots of kids to take care of me when I get old,” she said smilingly.
Tarwin, 40, and Watinah, 30, a couple who have been scavengers for six years, have also sent their children to their parents, but they still cannot make ends meet.
“The hardest moment for us is on rainy days, when our boss doesn’t come to buy our things while we really need some money,” said Tarmin.
“Sometimes, when things are really hard, we even pick fish or fruit out of the trash, wash and eat it. Sometimes, we can even find instant noodles, sugar, or even a sack of rice in the refuse. Thank God we are rarely ill and are still alive until now,” said Watinah.
(Jakarta, Nov 23, 2006)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hawkers a threat to Senen traders

Traders at Senen market in Central Jakarta have complained the illegal street vendors in the area are hampering their business, while the market authority has done little to deal with the problem.
Almost 300 vendors sell their goods out of makeshift tents along the street in front of the market, blocking the entrance.

"It is hard for people to find the way into the marketplace. It is very crowded out there, making it uncomfortable for the shoppers to come in," said S. Hutapea, who sells clothing in a kiosk she rents for Rp 7 million (US$546) a year inside the market.

She said Thursday that her income had continued to decrease since the street vendors began invading the area a few years ago.

"Last year I could earn up to Rp 9 million a month, but this year I can only make up to Rp 5 million," she said while acknowledging that the public's reduced purchasing power could also be a contributing factor.

The street vendors mostly sell imported secondhand goods like clothing, shoes, bed sheets and curtains, which are more affordable and often of better quality than the items available inside the market.

"Outside it only costs them five Rp 5,000 to 10,000 to buy a complete outfit, while a new one would cost at least 25,000 inside," she added.

Raditantri Asri Hendrarti, an operational manager assistant of city market operator PD Pasar Jaya, which is in charge of Senen market, said they had trouble organizing the street vendors in order to create a better environment for the market vendors.

"They are so aggressive that they treat us as if they were the owners of the market facilities and we were the interlopers," she added

"Dealing with them is like having someone try to push something up your nose," she said, referring to the street vendors crowded around the main entrance of the market.

We can do nothing because they operate outside the marketplace. We have no authority to take action against them," she said.

Raditantri said the street vendors started to operate in the area in 1998 in the wake of the economic crisis that hit the country a year earlier. Since then, as many as 331 of the 2,588 kiosks have closed, partly because their owners could not compete with the illegal street vendors.

She also said that 18 tenants had broken their contracts with PD Pasar Jaya because they planned to move due to what they perceived to be the poor trading climate in the market. Many others said they could not afford to pay the monthly rent of Rp 1.5 billion.

Some of the vendors rented out their kiosks to other merchants, including dealers in secondhand clothing, even though the government officially bans the import of such goods.

"We are reluctant to enforce the subletting ban in their contracts, because they are long-term tenants, and we don't want to damage our relationship with them," Raditantri said.

Meanwhile, the street vendors said they would not mind moving from the area as long as the city administration provided them with an adequate alternative space to run their business.

"They should give us another space so we can still make a living for our families and send our kids to school," said L. Silaen, a mother of three and a secondhand clothing vendor.

"Don't treat us like trash, just find us another place," said Sonar Manulang, another vendor. (02/05)

The Jakarta Post, Saturday, November 11, 2006

Domestic workers indispensable in society

How does it feel, to be without domestic staff?

Any working couple relying on a cleaning woman to keep the house in order and a nanny to bring up the children knows the answer. Although the holiday absence of domestic staff may not be the end of the world, one thing is for sure: Without them life can be hard.

Yohana Eti, 32, a career woman who is adverse to doing household chores, had to get up at the crack of dawn every day during Idul Fitri.

"I had to run around the house from early morning, even before my kids got up," said Yohana of her recent experience during the absence of both her cleaning woman and her nanny for the holiday.

She had to take care of her two sons, eight-year-old Kevin and three-year-old Angga, all by herself because her nanny had gone home for eight days and her husband was on duty at the factory where they both work.

"I had to pay extra attention to them, especially in the day time," said Yohana who clearly feels uncomfortable about the closeness of her children and their nanny.

She also had to do all of the cooking and laundry for the entire family.

Yohana, who has been married for seven years, and has had seven housekeepers in the interim, said the most difficult part of domestic work was trying to prepare meals while watching the children simultaneously.

"Last year, my mother was with us for the holiday so she could help us a bit, but this year was my first time entirely without staff and it was really hard," said Yohana who works at a beef canning factory in Tomang, West Jakarta.

Frustrated after only a day of domestic drudgery, Yohana took refuge at Mercury hotel in Ancol, North Jakarta, from Oct. 25 to 26.

"It was a total headache, I'm not used to taking care of the kids. I felt like I was botching up everything, so I called the hotel and luckily they still had some rooms available.

"I was forced to spend a whopping Rp 1.8 million, that is twice the amount I pay my household help in a month," said the woman who pays her cleaning woman Rp 300,000 (about US$33) monthly, and her nanny Rp 600,000.

"I can now understand how hard it must be to be a domestic worker. We really should treat them more like family because they fill in for us when we can't be there and keep the clutter away," said the resident of Cakung, East Jakarta.

Another couple, Ridaya and Rahmi Yunita, who have 18-month-old twins named Rensi and Rahmi, tried a different strategy for Idul Fitri, when their housekeeper and nanny took a vacation. They transported their twins to Rahmi's parents' home in Temanggung, Central Java, for two weeks for a holiday visit, and also in the hopes that Grandma could help with the children.

The couple spent a total of Rp 3.2 millions for the trip, but the strategy did not work. Rahmi's aging parent could not help much and they ended up having to take care of the twins by themselves.

"The life rhythm of the babies is so different and we are not used to it. Just to bathe and dress them is a struggle, and feeding them is even worse," said Ridaya, who works at a domestic non-governmental organization in Kalibata, South Jakarta.

The couple praised their household help, saying: "They are extraordinary people. We never imagined how hard their burden was. They spend more than 15 hours daily taking care of our children; that's far more than the normal working hours for any adult. They deserve better treatment and better wages."

According to Federika Tadu Hungu, a development sector consultant: "Domestic staff are a necessity nowadays. The traditional role of man as breadwinner is now under challenge. Women, as well as men, now have to work in order to make a reasonable living."

Federika, who studied at the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands, and has written two books about gender and development, added that: "As a result, the care-giving, such as laundering, cooking, washing and looking after the children, which has been regarded traditionally as the woman's role has been shifted to a third party, such as a housekeeper or babysitter."

"Therefore, domestic staff should be regarded as professionals and paid properly," she wrote.

The Jakarta Post, Saturday, November 18, 2006

Scavengers in Bantar Gebang dump

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Pelangi di kala senja dan Masa Lalu yang Terkenang

Namanya Samuel Marcal. Dia baru berumur sembilan tahun ketika keluarganya mengungsi ke hutan menghindari serbuan tentara Indonesia. Selain kakaknya yang berselisih usia dua atau tiga tahun darinya, semua adiknya malah masih balita.

Pasukan Indonesia sudah mulai melancarkan serangan-serangan dari wilayah-wilayah perbatasan seperti Maliana dan Suai. Desas-desus yang terdengar ialah : “segera setelah menyerah yang laki-laki akan dibunuh, dibelah dua dan perempuan diperkosa”.

Tiga keluarga mendaki bebukitan mencari tempat aman di hutan, menghindari tentara Indonesia. Mereka cuma punya tiga senjata. Satu senjata laras panjang dan dua pistol.

Maka datanglah saat itu, saat ketika tidak ada bekal yang dapat dimakan lagi. Buah kusambi dan air kali menjadi satu-satunya harapan. Tentara Indonesia mengepung dari segala arah, bagaikan pagar betis.

Semua anggota rombongan sudah lelah. Ada dua pilihan: turun gunung untuk menyerah atau bertahan di hutan. Sang ayah berkata: saya tak mungkin menyerah, laki-laki yang menyerah pasti dibunuh. Tapi perempuan dan anak-anak mungkin tak apa-apa.

Lalu voting pun dibuat, ikut ayah atau ikut ibu. Semua anak dan anggota keluarga yang lain ingin ikut ibu. Hanya Sam dan seorang anak kerabat yang lain memilih ikut sang ayah. Senjata diberikan kepada yang tidak menyerah. “Menembak saja saya belum bisa” kata Sam mengenang bagaimana ia pertama kali memegang senjata api.

Maka mereka pun berpisah. Jalan mendaki dilalui dengan tangis dan air mata. “Kami mendaki sambil menangis, tapi tak ada pilihan”. Sekali-sekali mereka menoleh ke belakang, memastikan ibu dan saudara-saudaranya selamat. Kata sang ayah, jika mereka lewat dengan selamat, kita terus. Tetapi jika kita mendengar tembakan, kita harus menyerang tentara Indonesia, kita tak mungkin membiarkan ibu dan saudara-saudara kamu mati tanpa perlawanan.

Berkali-kali ayah harus naik ke puncak pohon untuk memastikan keselamatan anggota keluarganya yang menyerah.
Setelah ibu dan saudara-saudaranya diperkirakan melewati daerah yang dianggap aman, merekapun bergerak maju.

Di suatu perhentian, sang ayah menyuruh kedua bocah itu bersembunyi sementara ia sendiri menyelinap mencari jalan keluar dari hadangan bala tentara Indonesia. Bekal daging kuda dan masing-masing sepucuk senjata di tangan. Rerumputan ditutup di atas kepala. “Jangan ke mana-mana” pesan sang ayah.

Beberapa lama setelah ayah pergi, terdengar tiga kali tembakan. Berselang beberapa menit sepasukan tentara datang menderu. Kedua bocah itu tetap diam di tempat. “rebut-rebut” begitulah kata bahasa Indonesia pertama yang sempat didengar, tanpa dimengerti artinya. Keduanya hampir tak bernapas di tempat. Apalagi seorang tentara duduk tepat di atas kepala kedua bocah itu.

Sekitar setengah jam setelah para tentara itu pergi, keduanya berlari menyusul sang ibu dan anggota keluarga yang lain. Berhasil menyusul memang. “papa mungkin sudah mati, kami mendengar tiga kali tembakan setelah mama dan adik-adik pergi”, lapor si kecil. Semua duduk tanpa kata. Hanya airmata berlinang.

Selang beberapa jam, muncul sesosok tumbuh merayap dari arah sebuah kali. Ternyata itu ayah yang terluka parah di kaki. Ia dihadang tentara, dan melarikan diri meninggalkan senjatanya. Untunglah ia mampu menyelematkan diri. Sepotong kain diikatkan ke kaki kiri. Ia menyusuri sungai agar tetesan darahnya tidak terlacak oleh musuh.

Dua minggu bertahan, akhir mereka memilih menyerah.
Ia ingat bagaimana ayahnya dipukul orang-orang banyak. Semua orang mengambil bagian. Bukan cuma tangan yang dipakai, tapi juga batu dan kayu.

Untunglah seorang Koramil di Same yang menyuruh seorang Hansip membawa ke rumahnya. “Kamu kristen?” tanya sang Koramil begitu ia sampai di hadapannya. “Iya”,
“Punya Alkitab?”
“Ada tapi di rumah”

Sang Koramil lalu menyuruh dua orang Hansip mengawal sang ayah ke rumah mereka untuk mengambil Alkitab.
Alkitab berbahasa Portugis itu dibolak balik isinya untuk dibandingkan dengan Alkitab berbahasa Indonesia milik sang Koramil. Rupanya sang Koramil belum yakin kalau ayahnya sungguh seorang Kristen. Dalam pikiran militer Indonesia seorang pemimpin Fretilin tak mungkin pemeluk kristen, karena mereka termakan propaganda bahwa Fretilin adalah komunis. Setelah memastikan Alkitab itu sama, sang Koramil memeluk sang ayah.

Baru dikemudian hari mereka tahu kalau, saudara-saudaranya yang tertangkap di Dili menitipkan pesan kepada sang Koramil agar menyelamatkan keluarga sang ayah, karena mereka bukan komunis.

Dalam tahun itu juga, sang Koramil pun mengajak ayah Samuel membangun gereja. Gereja pun berkembang pesat. Banyak orang datang untuk memberi diri dibaptis. Karena ketakutan dituduh komunis, banyaknya orang yang datang memberi diri untuk dibaptis.

Samuel mengingat dalam sebuah peristiwa pembaptisan, dua orang pendeta militer membaptis orang sampai jam tiga pagi. Sayang kakak dari sang ayah dan beberapa orang menolak berpindah agama demi prinsip. Mereka dibunuh oleh karenanya. Dari sinilah asal-usul berkembangnya jemaat protestan di Same, Manufahi.

Namun derita keluarga ini tak jua berakhir. Ada banyak alasan mengapa mereka dimusuhi dan dianiaya: Pemimpin Fretilin, protestan.

Ia ingat bagimana ia dan kakaknya Daniel harus bersembunyi di semak-semak setiap jam istirahat sekolah, karena anak-anak lain akan memukuli mereka, mengangkat mereka dan membuang di lumpur.

Di kala bel jam istirahat akan dibunyikan, ia sudah harus dekat-dekat pintu kelas, memastikan dapat cepat-cepat melarikan diri ke semak-semak. Ia hanya kembali kalau lonceng tanda jam istirahat berakhir. Hanya di kelas ia sedikit merasa aman.

Jangan harap di luar kelas para guru bisa membantu, karena merekapun menanggap anak-anak ini adalah anak-anak GPK yang “wajib” dianiaya. Karena tak kuat menahan aniaya, Daniel sang kakak, memutuskan untuk pindah ke Dili setelah menamatkan SD.

Sang ayahpun berkali-kali ingin dibunuh. “Tapi entah mengapa pertolongan Tuhan selalu luar biasa” ujar Samuel.

Sekali waktu seorang hansip yang terkenal berdarah dingin, diperintahkan menangkap sang ayah. Ternyata, tanpa diketahui pemberi perintah, sang hansip ini adalah anak baptis (God son) dari sang ayah. Si Hansip datang mendahului pasukan algojo pengeksekusi, memberitahukan rencana jahat itu.
“Bapa, saya diperintahkan menangkap bapa untuk dibunuh, saya menerima perintah itu dengan maksud saya bisa memberitahu bapak untuk menyelamatkan diri. Sekarang juga bapa meninggalkan rumah ini” kata sang anak baptis kepada sang bapa baptis itu.

Di lain kesempatan yang diperintahkan justru adalah anak angkat sang ayah. Ia juga menjalankan trik serupa untuk meloloskan sang ayah angkat.

Jam menunjukkan pukul 6.20 ketika pelangi senja menyapu langit di atas Dili. Perjanjian perdamaian itu masih ada untuk anak-anak Timor Leste. Masa lalu memang tak selalu indah dikenang. Terlalu sakit untuk dikenang, terlalu berharga untuk dilupakan.
Namun jika anak-anak kita masih bisa berlari bebas dibawah rintik hujan, itu bukti bahwa harapan masa depan selalu ada. Ia menanti dengan damai. Pelangi setelah usai rinai gerimis membuat perasaanku sendu, sesendu rasa anak-anak Timor yang menderita ataupun mungkin mati selama invasi dan pendudukan negaraku tercinta Indonesia yang mukadimah UUD-nya tertulis: “bahwa sesungguhnya kemerdekaan itu ialah hak segala bangsa”. Entah berapa puluh tahun dan berapa ribu kali sebaris kata ini harus dibaca untuk bisa dimengerti.

Dili, 24 July 2005