Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A world of want

How beautiful our planet is! Since last year, my world has gotten bigger. Being a 'culture' girl, I finally started appreciating nature more. The different shades of green, the soft winds, heavy rains capture me. I now enjoy taking walks through the woods, bike along the coastline and sit in ricefields. Hearing birds sing their pretty songs can really make my day. We should take care of our environment and cherish it.

Staying in Jakarta made me think even more than before about how sustainable our way of living is, or little sustainable, I should say. Everybody in Asia wants to have a big car and everyone around the world wants a blackberry. After watching Annie Leonard's Story of Stuff, the notion that we should seriously diminish our consumption cannot escape me anymore. But how? In this world of want, is there a way of not wanting? Is there a way back?

Would I myself be willing to consume less? If this means I should fly less often, would I? Currently, I am reading Jared Diamond's 'Collapse', a book on how some societies have a tendency to destroy themselves. Is that what we're doing? Well, naturally I haven't found an answer yet. But I do want to share a teaser of Annie Leonard's video.

How the gecko fights the crocodile

For the past weeks, Indonesian news has revolved around the battle between the Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the police. President Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has made fighting corruption his flagship issue and thus established the KPK some four years ago. The KPK has thusfar brought several corruption cases to light. Then in May this year, the KPK's good name came under threat as its chairman, Antasari Azhar, was accused of ordering the murder of Indonesian business man Nasruddin Zulkarnaen. Not only was this said to be a crime passionel (supposedly, Antasari had an affair with a 22-year-old golf caddie, who happened to be Nasruddin's third wife), it was also speculated that Nasruddin tried to bribe Antasari to stop pursuing him in a corruption case.

Well, this is only the beginning. The story involves many players and intrigues, which are for the large part hard to keep up with. Most importantly, the two deputy chairmen of the KPK, Chandra Hamzah and Bibit Samad Riyanto, were accused of having accepted bribes. A high ranking police officier stated that the KPK and the Police relate to one another like a cicak (gecko) to a buaya (crocodile). It's a useless fight, or so he says.

Three star police general and national chief of detectives Susno Duadji illustrates

This analogy spoke to everyone's imagination and is now widely used. The extraordinary thing about it is that the public has risen to the defense of the KPK. Quiz participants on television wear black bands around their arms in solidarity with the KPK, students camp out in front of the KPK building and some were even on hungerstrike (?), NGO's organize press conferences to express their viewpoints and last week Sunday (at 7 am!) famous Indonesian bands (including the extremely popular rockband SLANK) performed at one of several demonstrations - this one attended by about a thousand people. 

And there's more: most surprisingly even is the online activity. As Indonesians too are active facebookers (membership rose with 800% over the past months, to 9 million), they have set up groups like 'Gerakan 1.000.000 Facebookers Dukung Chandra Hamzah & Bibit Samad Riyanto' which at time of writing already has over 1.2 million members. 

Two weeks ago SBY appointed eight experts (including renowned human rights lawyer Adnan Buyung Nasution) to get to the bottom of things. After two rounds of examinations, the team has recommended that charges against the two suspected KPK leaders be dropped. Also, Susno Duadji quit after wiretapes came out, which shows him invoved in a large conspiracy to bring down the KPK. Well, in Dutch we say that a story has a tail if you expect something not be completely over. In this case, involving geckos and crocodiles, there is no doubt about it: there will be a long, long tail.

And it wouldn't be Indonesia, if there wouldn't be a song:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Home Sweet Home

It was my intention to highlight the beauty of the Netherlands, before heading off to distant lands. That didn't exactly work out. So now, while I slowly get used to Jakarta's craziness, I will reminisce about the beauty of my very own country. Even though I have just recently learned to appreciate its varied richness, I have been able to admire it quite a lot in the past months.

De Veluwe