Tag Archives: Economics

Mengenang Sosok BJ Habibie

Mengenang Sosok BJ Habibie

Op-Ed: Diplomasi Gaya Menlu Downer: kalau tidak berhasil, membully lagi

Oleh Hamish McDonald, redaksi Asia-Pasifik SMH, 12 Juli 2008

Email masih saja terus berdatangan beberapa kali sehari dari Departemen Luar Negeri dan Perdagangan, dilampiri setiap transkrip dari apa yang dikatakan menteri di segala macam acara dan pemberitahuan tempat di mana saja sang menteri dapat disergap oleh para wartawan untuk acara yang berikutnya.

Padahal entah kenapa tidak demikian keadaannya dengan Stephen Smith dari Partai Buruh sebagai Menlu. Fungsionaris partai yang berasal dari kota Perth itu terlalu bersikap hati-hati, terlalu terbatas, terlalu ekonomis dengan bahasanya. Singkatnya, terlalu diplomatis.

Di mana gaya bicara Alexander Downer yang cerewet itu yang telah kita kenal dengan begitu akrab selama lebih dari 11 tahun, omelannya yang mengandung begitu banyak penghinaan pribadi dan hipotesis keterlaluan sehingga akhirnya lampiran tersebut selalu saja dibuka, sekedar untuk berjaga-jaga.

Sayangnya, dia telah kehilangan jabatan dan bakal keluar dari Parlemen. Daripada ikut bergabung dengan wahana tentang apakah Menlu Downer merupakan raksasa dalam sejarah diplomatik Australia, ataupun menjadi seorang pelawak bak Inspektur Clouseau, mari kita simak apa yang diklaimnya sebagai “capaian terbesar” selama menjadi menteri luar negeri Australia yakni Timor Leste.

Dalam tulisannya di harian Sydney Morning Herald kemarin, Downer akhirnya tampil sebagai sang penggagas surat terkenal dari perdana menteri Australia saat itu John Howard kepada presiden Indonesia saat itu BJ Habibie pada bulan Desember 1998, yang mengusulkan solusi untuk keresahan yang makin berkembang di Timor Leste waktu itu.

Bisa saja diartikan dari apa yang ditulis Downer bahwa surat tersebut mengandung argumentasi untuk kemerdekaan Timor Leste yang menghasilkan referendum PBB pada bulan Agustus 1999 dan pengeluaran destruktif pasukan Indonesia beberapa minggu kemudian.

Tetapi surat itu mengusulkan sebuah strategi untuk menghindari keputusan yang jelas, dirancang untuk meredakan desakan atas kemerdekaan di wilayah itu, dan jelas berdasarkan harapan pemerintah Australia bila orang Indonesia akhirnya bisa lebih terorganisir, Timor Leste pada akhirnya akan memutuskan untuk tetap berada di dalam Indonesia.

Surat itu menggunakan contoh perjanjian-perjanjian Matignon dan Noumea antara Perancis dan kelompok-kelompok saingan Kanak dan pendatang di Kaledonia Baru pada tahun 1988 dan 1998, yang memberikan otonomi yang lebih luas di kepulauan itu dan menunda pelaksanaan langkah penentuan nasib sendiri sampai sekitar tahun 2013 dan 2018.

Reaksi tak terduga dari Presiden BJ Habibie adalah kemarahan besar karena dibandingkan dengan kekuatan kolonial Eropa, dan keputusan mendadak pada bulan Januari 1999 untuk memberikan pemungutan suara langsung kepada rakyat Timor Leste tentang tinggal atau pisah, daripada kemungkinan membuang-buang dana selama 20 tahun mendatang dalam upaya merubah sikapnya.

Sepanjang bulan-bulan penuh kekerasan menjelang pemungutan suara pada bulan Agustus, Downer dengan tegas berpegang pada “diplomasi cerdas” yang dianjurkan oleh kepala departemennya, almarhum Ashton Calvert, daripada ikut himbauan bergabung pasukan penjaga perdamaian dari luar.

Tentu dapat disangka bahwa jika militer Indonesia dan milisi lokalnya benar-benar berhasil dalam rencananya untuk membujuk penduduk Timor Leste untuk memilih otonomi yang lebih luas dan bukannya kemerdekaan, pemerintah Australia akan setuju saja dengan hasilnya.

Pada hari Senin, Presiden Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, dan Presiden Timor Leste Jose Ramos Horta akan merilis laporan penyelidikan Komisi Kebenaran dan Persahabatan bersama mereka tentang kekerasan tahun 1999. Tetapi oknum-oknum yang paling bertanggung jawab atas kekerasan itu akan tetap tidak terekspos ataupun dihukum.

Ini sebagian besar disebabkan oleh kebijakan Downer dan rekan-rekannya untuk tidak mendukung, dengan cara yang tidak lebih dari tokenisme, penyelidikan PBB sebelumnya atau mengutuk pengadilan konyol para kambing hitam tingkat junior dan menengah yang diadakan di Jakarta.

Tetapi alasan utama mengapa sebuah jalan di Dili tidak akan diberi nama Downer Sang Liberator terletak pada negosiasi antara Downer dan departemennya dengan pemerintah Timor Leste yang baru dan PBB mengenai sumber daya minyak dasar laut di Laut Timor.

Dalam bukunya Shakedown [Pemerasan], penulis Paul Cleary, yang menjadi anggota tim PBB selama negosiasi tersebut, telah menggambarkan taktik intimidasi yang diadopsi oleh Downer untuk membujuk negara baru yang remuk itu untuk menandatangani pelepasan haknya atas 80 persen dari ladang gas terbesar dalam zona maritim yang disengketakan. Dengan menggebrak meja pada salah satu pertemuan, Downer dikutip mengatakan kepada perdana menteri Timor Leste saat itu Mari Alkatiri, “Kita tidak perlu mengeksploitasi sumber daya tersebut. Itu dapat tinggal di sana selama 20, 40, 50 tahun.”

Pihak Timor Leste dan PBB bersikeras, memenangkan persyaratan yang jauh lebih menguntungkan dalam perjanjian perbatasan sementara yang akhirnya disepakati pada tahun 2006.

Peter Galbraith, mantan diplomat AS dan penulis buku tentang isu-isu kebijakan luar negeri, bekerja pada kantor PBB sebagai penasihat negosiasi. Dia mengingat ketika pergi ke kota Adelaide pada tahun 2000 untuk memberitahu Downer bahwa pihak Timor ingin merundingkan kembali perjanjian “Celah Timor” yang sudah disepakati oleh Indonesia pada tahun 1989.

“Entah mengapa, dia merasa sangat terhina karena kami sedang melakukan itu, karena saya melakukan itu,” kata Galbraith. “Pada pertemuan itu dia sepertinya terus menegaskan bahwa dia sudah lebih berhasil daripada ayahnya yang terkenal sedangkan saya mungkin kurang berhasil ketimbang ayah saya. Ada suatu psikodrama nyata di sana yang benar-benar tidak ada hubungan dengan masalahnya.”

(Galbraith adalah putra ekonom dan penulis terkenal JK Galbraith. Ayah Downer, Sir Alexander, adalah menteri imigrasi dalam pemerintahan PM Robert Menzies.)

“Tentang negosiasi minyak itu,” tambah Galbraith, “Downerlah yang mengadopsi pendekatan yang selain merendahkan juga mengintimidasi orang Timor Leste dan PBB yang akhirnya menjadikannya salah satu orang yang paling tidak populer di Timor Leste.

“Sangat merusak reputasi Australia, dan berakhir dengan persetujuan yang lebih buruk bagi Australia dibandingkan dengan hasil pendekatan yang lebih diplomatis. Masalahnya akan diselesaikan lebih cepat dan Australia akan dapat memiliki bagian minyak yang lebih besar.”

Galbraith, penasihat senior dalam kampanye presidensial calon Demokrat AS Barack Obama, mengatakan, “Menjadi menteri luar negeri yang paling lama mengabdi Australia mungkin tak sama dengan menjadi menlu yang terbaik.

“Dia tidak akan gagal dalam pekerjaannya sebagai negosiator Siprus,” tambah Galbraith, merujuk pada jabatan baru Downer sebagai utusan khusus PBB. “Karena tentu saja jika ada kemungkinan serius untuk mencapai kemajuan antara Yunani dan Turki mengenai sengketa Siprus, PBB tidak akan menunjuk Downer.”

Siti Hartinah

Op-Ed: The Armed Forces, Capital, and Politics

Kompas Daily Op-Ed: The Armed Forces, Capital, and Politics

By Danang Widoyoko, October 11, 2017

KOMPAS – Many observers believe Indonesian National Armed Forces Commander General Gatot Nurmantyo has started campaigning for election. Some believe specifically that Gatot has started mobilizing support from political parties and Islamic organizations. Some think that flaming fears of a revival of the Indonesian Communist Party, and mobilizing the public to watch the film “G30S/PKI”, are part of efforts to build support for boosting his popularity and electability. There have even been many calls for him to resign as commander of the armed forces.
Gatot’s maneuvering has been seen by many observers as in reality representing not just his own ambition. Gatot’s action is viewed as representing the disappointment and frustration of the Indonesian Armed Forces and, in particular, the Indonesian Army which has lost both its role and access to material resources. In the context of an understanding of the history of capital formation in Indonesia it is very important to develop a policy for creating a professional armed force and its financial implications.

Domestic Capital

In his classic study Indonesia: The Rise of Capital (1986), Richard Robison demonstrated how the New Order regime generated domestic capital. He described four major sectors of domestic capital formation: Chinese conglomerates, indigenous conglomerates, state capital and state-owned enterprises (BUMN) and military businesses.
With support, facilities, and protection, these four sectors of domestic capital grew large and produced conglomerates in various parts of the economy. However, the 1997 economic crisis and the subsequent topping from power of the New Order meant that domestic capital faced a difficult situation. Reforms by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut all the facilities and protection for domestic capital.
Since then, policies of privatization and liberalization opened the door to international capital which has come to compete with domestic capital. In practice, that period represented a difficult time for domestic capital.
In their book Reorganizing Power in Indonesia (2004), Robison and Vedi Hadiz described the rise of an oligarchy. Rather than being sidelined, political and economic elites in fact grew stronger in the wake of the reforms.
Then, what about the development of domestic capital? According to Christian Chua in his book Chinese Big Business in Indonesia (2009), democracy and decentralization, in fact, facilitated the expansion of the Chinese conglomerates. With the large financial resources they possessed, the role of these conglomerates became important in the political system which has come to be characterized by the practice of money politics.
The second sector of capital, indigenous capital, was also able to prosper, not only in the economy but also in politics. In 2007, Forbes magazine crowned Aburizal Bakrie the richest person in Indonesia. Having once led the Golkar Party, Bakrie is possibly presently having difficulty with the burden of debt in his business group. Even so, he continues to rank among Indonesia’s richest people and is an influential figure inside the Golkar Party. Another example is the businessman Jusuf Kalla, current Indonesia’s Vice President.
The third sector of capital, state-owned enterprises, is presently rising to dominance again in a variety of sectors of the economy. President Joko Widodo’s focus on infrastructure development has positioned state-owned enterprises as important players. Capital injection and infrastructure development have made the state-owned enterprises increasingly large. Previously, the program of reform of state-owned enterprises that was supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) succeeded in restructuring the state-owned enterprises. In semester I 2017, the total assets of state-owned enterprises reached Rp 6,694 trillion (US$498 mil) (Kompas.com 30/8/2017) or almost 50 percent of Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Then what about the fourth sector of domestic capital, military businesses? In contrast to the other three areas of domestic capital, military businesses are currently in a slump. Public Law 34/2004 concerning the Indonesian National Armed Forces strongly prohibited the military from operating businesses and instructed the Armed Forces to surrender business entities to the state. To date, it is not clear what progress has been made in the process of surrendering these military businesses. However, I suspect the majority of these businesses either operate at a loss or have been taken over by their business partners.
Another factor that has caused the decline in military businesses is the firm separation of the function of defense from that of security. The military has not only withdrawn from business, but also in relation to security which has now become the task of the police. The withdrawal of the Armed Forces from the task of security has closed off access for the military to informal and illegal sources of funds connected to protection and security.
Aside from the decline of the military businesses, the military has now also lost access to material resources through political positions. The generation of General Gatot Nurmantyo is the generation that prior to joining the Armed Forces expected that on retiring they would occupy important positions within the bureaucracy, parliament or regional government.
In a democratic political landscape, these positions are only obtained through stiff competition among politicians. The military, of course, has had difficulty competing with these politicians who have been developing capabilities and networks developed in fact during their days as university students.

Professional Military

In relation to the maneuver of General Gatot currently under scrutiny, there are two important points for discussion. Firstly, with the withdrawal of the Armed Forces from parliament and the closing of military businesses, the military has generally returned to barracks. However, it is now, in fact, civilian politicians who have been “inviting” the Armed Forces to jump the fence out of the barracks and to back into politics.
Secondly, returning to barracks and becoming a professional military requires funds. Without calculating this cost, the invitation from politicians who are inviting General Gatot, and later also other generals, will continue to be repeated. For this reason, the formulation of what kind of professional military is needed, and how much is needed to fund it, is a pressing issue.
Making the Armed Forces into a professional military requires a significant amount of money, however, it is very important for the future of politics and democracy in Indonesia.


Source: Artikel Opini: Tentara, Modal, dan Politik, Kompas Daily 11 October 2017 with an English version published as Soldiers, Capital, and Politics. Tempo reporting on the issue. j danang widoyoko celoteh di awan blog


Ain’t No Night Fair #3

Ain’t No Night Fair

By Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Chapter 2 (continued)

I swung my head, and my eyes too, from her stare and gazed out through the train window again.

We were at Lemah Abang now.

All at once an old memory shimmered into my mind. Before, four years ago. Completely out of the blue, the Dutch had rained shells on our defenses from three directions using between eight and ten Howitzers. The number could be worked out by the fighters who had previously been soldiers in the Netherlands East Indies artillery. The people had panicked and run out in the direction of the rice fields. I still remember the time. I cupped my two hands and shouted, “Don’t run! Get on the ground!” But there were too many of them, and they were too confused, too frightened, and they were incapable of hearing my voice. And when I fell to the ground behind a large tree I was able to see one, then two, three, four, five artillery shells explode among the mass of scattering people. Bodies. Corpses. And my mind ran through the blood, injuries, bodies, to the letter, my uncle, and finally, to my father.

I sighed. My heart ached. I was indeed sensitive. And my family was full of sensitive creatures.

I closed my eyes tightly so I couldn’t see the scene around Lemah Abang. But the remnants of those memories would not leave my mind. The extraordinary achievement of the Dutch shooting, four sheep killed in front of their pen. And this is what was so upsetting: one old sheep, pregnant, eyes gazing into the sky, head resting on the rail of a pen post, with its two hind legs kneeling and its forelegs standing up straight. And the sheep was dead. I rocked the body of the sheep slightly and it tottered to the ground. It didn’t move. Really, it was dead. A friend suggested, “Let’s just cut it up.” I stared at its open, pallid eyes. I could feel a shiver run down my spine, and I ran all the way home. It was three days before I could get the vision of the sheep gazing into the sky out of my head. The sheep! My memory circled back again, the sheep transformed into a person, and that person was, my father.

I sighed.

(Continued)

Karawang sector, 23 July 1947
Karawang sector, 23 July 1947. A convoy of the Dutch 7th December Division in the town Cikarang on route Karawang. http://www.gahetna.nl

Source: Ain’t No Night Fair (Bukan Pasarmalam) by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Dinas Penerbitan Balai Pustaka, Jakarta, 1959.

National Archive Photo Collection

Anti-corruption Jihad photo credit

Poem for a Cigar

Poem for a Cigar

By W.S. Rendra

Taking a drag on a fat cigar
Gazing over Great Indonesia
Listening to 130 million people,
And in the sky –
Two or three businessmen squat down –
And shit on their heads.

The sun comes up
And the sun goes down
And all I can see are eight million children
Without education.

I question,
But my questions
Slam into the desks of bureaucrats like a traffic jam,
And the blackboards of educators
Who are cut off from the problems of life.

Eight million children
Cram down one long road,
With no options
With no trees
With no shady places to rest,
With no idea of where they’re going.

***

Suck in the air
Full of deodorant spray,
I see unemployed graduates
Covered in sweat along the highway;
I see pregnant women
Queuing for pension money.
And in the sky:
The technocrats sprout
That the country is lazy
That the country has to be developed,
Must be “upgraded”,
Made to fit technology that’s imported.

Mountains tower skyward.
The sky a festival of colors at sunset.
And I see
Protests that are pent up
Squeezed under mattresses.

I question,
But my questions
Bang into the foreheads of salon poets,
Who write about grapes and the moon
While injustices happen all around them,
And eight million children with no education
Gape at the feet of the goddess of art.

The future hopes of the nation,
Stars swirling in front of their faces,
Below neon advertisements.
The hopes of millions of mothers and fathers
Meld into a gaggle of clamoring voices,
Become a reef under the surface of the ocean.

***

We have to stop buying foreign formulas.
Textbooks can only provide methods,
But we ourselves have to formulate our condition.
We have to come out into the streets,
Go into the villages,
See for ourselves all the indicators
And experience the real problems.

This is my poem,
A pamphlet for a time of emergency.
What is the point of art,
If it’s cut off from the suffering around it
What is the point of thinking
If it’s cut off from the problems of life.

ITB Bandung
19 August 1977


This version of Poem for a Cigar (Sajak Sebatang Lisong) comes from State of Emergency, W.S. Rendra, Wild & Woolley, Glebe, 1978, p. 12.

Three parties in the 1977 election - Poem for a Cigar
The three parties in Indonesia’s 1977 legislative election

Other work by W.S. Rendra

Short Story: Motorbike Taxi

Motorbike Taxi

By Gerson Poyk

Late one evening as I was studying for my semester exams, my nimble-fingered father called out to me from the living room. Without looking up from the old radio he was repairing he said, “Come and sit here a moment, son.” I sat down expecting a request for help to hunt on the cool ceramic tile floor of our house for some nut or screw he had dropped.

But I was wrong.

“Since your mother passed away I haven’t been able to concentrate, son,” said dad. “I haven’t been doing a good job on these radios either, and well, the customers, they’re going other places. My small pension isn’t really enough; I’m not making as much as I used to from the radios and I have no idea how I’m going to pay for your little sister to go to university.”

Politely I said nothing as my father continued.

“What do you think if I withdraw the last of our savings from the bank and buy a small second-hand motorbike?”

I was puzzled. “A motorbike?”

“A motorbike. You could make a little extra money for us by taking pillion passengers. By becoming an ojek (1).”

“You mean like all those other ojek who give people rides for a fee?” I asked.

 “If you don’t mind spending the time on Friday evenings or in the afternoons you could get a few fares. Even one or two would be a help with the household budget. Rather than getting a job as a bus driver like some of your friends, it would be better to just become an ojek,” said dad, screwdriver still inserted into the radio.

“No problem,” I said straight away, getting up to go back to my desk beside the kerosene stove at the back room of our fourteen tile-wide three-room house. There weren’t any doors between the rooms so I could talk to dad in the living room if he raised his voice slightly. “Could I use the bike to go to university, dad?” I asked.

“No, don’t do that,” was his reply. “What you need to do is stay away from the main roads. Just wait on the bike at the intersection of the main road and the road leading into our kampong. You have to offer to take people places they can’t get by public transport,” suggested dad from our all-purpose living room cum electronics workshop.

My younger sister was worn out from playing volleyball with friends from the neighborhood and was in bed. When she went out to play volleyball in the afternoons she would usually take a couple of thermos flasks full of ice blocks which she would place by the edge of the court. Once her friends were thirsty she would shepherd them over to the thermos flasks and sell them ice blocks. She not only got a little physical exercise but she also made a little money, her own little contribution to the household. Our tiny house was, in fact, a highly productive place, serving as both a radio repair workshop and a factory producing the ice blocks my sister sold to weary neighbor children and school friends.

 ***

I busied myself, first arranging a motorbike license for myself and then with the last of dad’s savings, looking for a second-hand motorbike.

I would come home from lectures in the afternoons and wait at the top of the road leading down into the densely built kampong with its labyrinth of capillary small lanes and paths which were impenetrable to public transport.

On the first day, I made a fortune, five thousand rupiahs! This encouraged me greatly and after a week I had made a tidy little sum. Dad urged me to put the money into the bank account he helped my sister open a long time ago when she started selling ice blocks.

The money brought its own pleasure. But there were also the pleasures of the odd little things that happened from time to time not to mention the life-threatening risks. At first, I couldn’t care less about the passengers, what they looked like, or what state they were in, as long as they handed over the fare. Old, young, clean, dirty, healthy, sick (so long as they were still healthy enough to sit on the back), I took anyone, anytime they wanted, anywhere they wanted to there.

But it was the young women I enjoyed the most, and there were plenty of attractive young women wanting to be taken home to their houses deep in the kampong, far from the main road and public transport. But as an ojek, I knew my place and never tried starting a conversation.

One day a beautiful white woman walked up to me wanting a ride. The problem was she was so amazingly tall and so large that as we traveled the bike swayed wildly and she almost caused me to lose my balance. And then it had to happen, right as we descended a small hill, my front tire blew out! I jumped on the brake – and over we went! Small dark me and the beautiful giant both went sprawling across the road. Fortunately, she wasn’t hurt. As the bike went over, her vast figure landed on scrawny little me, right on my head! And as my helmet had no chin protector, my chin was driven into the gravel road, almost breaking my chin and sending dazzling sensations through my jawbone as it was pushed back into the base of my ears. Happily, the feeling didn’t last too long.

I apologized to the white woman, hailed a friend passing on his way home from taking someone else and asked him to drop off my huge white passenger.

It was some time before I saw the white woman again. Then one day while I was waiting for passengers she went past this time driving her own car. An Indonesian woman was sitting next to her. I wondered where the beautiful giant and her attractive Indonesian friend with flowing black hair could be going. I was desperate to know so I turned the ignition key and set off after them. Dismay swept over me when eventually the car pulled into an immense two-story house which compared to my fourteen tile-wide house was a castle. I just rode past satisfied that I had found where the attractive white woman lived.

It was sometime later before I saw the Indonesian woman again and in the meantime, I continued with my business ferrying passengers on the back of my bike. I lost count of the number of fares I had, anyone at all wanting a ride, young or old, male or female, not to mention all the children. I took no notice of them, just the money they held out.

At home, three things filled my mind: my father, my little sister and my study, while at the university campus I would revert back into a hard-working university student.

Several months later I did notice the woman with the flowing straight black hair again as she crossed the road at the bus stop. This time she was wearing a high school uniform. I waved and as she headed in my direction I started the engine. She jumped on and we roared off.

“Who was that good looking white woman you were with?” I asked without wasting time.

“Have you ever given her a ride?” she asked in reply.

Once. But I got a flat and we both came off. She landed on me and almost crushed me!”

The high school girl on the back laughed and said, “She’s my after-school tutor.”

“Well, that explains why you were in the car together, doesn’t it. And what does she teach?”

“She teaches English,” answered the girl.

“Cool. By the time you’re in university you’re English will be good,” I said encouraging her. “Which stream are you in at school?”

“I took sciences.”

“And what do you want to do at university?” I asked.

“Mathematics…”

I began to say how wonderful I thought that was but suddenly she shouted ‘stop’, seriously startling me. Without realizing it we had reached her large house.

She held out a ten thousand rupiah note and said, “This is all I have, sorry.” I didn’t flinch and she continued, “Ah, keep the change.” She strode off towards the imposing wrought iron gates leaving me clutching the note.

I stopped working as an ojek so I could concentrate on my final major paper at uni. In the meantime, I lent my bike to a friend whose own motorbike had been repossessed by the owner. We agreed to split the profit fifty-fifty and even though he’d only finished primary school, he turned out to be completely honest. He dropped in every afternoon to deliver half the day’s takings. My friend’s honesty encouraged me to look on him as a younger brother and my father too became quite fond of him. Orphaned when young, he had no home and sometimes slept on benches at the bus interchange, sometimes in shop doorways. When dad found out about this he rented a small room in a boarding house for my friend.

Late one night he picked up a passenger and that was the last time his friends saw him. His lifeless body was found dumped in a river, my motorbike stolen by his cruel thieving killer. My friend’s life had been extinguished for nothing more than a decrepit second-hand motorbike. Sorrow settled over our hearts and remained with us always, along with the memory of the friend who had been so good to us.

My friend’s death also caused the more mundane problem that we had to deal with the police, but we were satisfied they had taken his murder seriously.

  ***

After so much hard work I eventually graduated and the day I received my results, a satisfactory level pass, I was overcome with anguish thinking about my murdered ojek friend. He had contributed so much to pay for my way through my now successfully completed uni course, and I was overcome with grief and emotion.

In my poverty in that small house with a widowed pensioner scratching out a living by repairing radios and my little sister carting ice blocks to school to sell to friends the Almighty had granted that I should complete my degree, me, a university graduate, born of poverty and the faithful friendship of a homeless ojek whose life was torn away by a savage robbing killer.

My sister started uni and dad continued repairing his radios. He even surprised us by quietly learning how to repair television sets. My sister and I were amazed one day to find a television in the living room.

As soon as I graduated I was offered a job as a teacher at the uni and one day while teaching a class of first-year students I noticed one of the female students with a surprised look on her face. At once I recognized the woman who was gazing not at a teacher but at a young ojek and the question was obvious, how could he be one of my lecturers!

Unfortunately, it didn’t take her long to fail the semester examination and stop coming to lectures. Before she stopped attending, however, she sent me a letter politely asking whether she could visit me at home to arrange private tutoring, at whatever price I liked. She was even prepared to become my girlfriend, so long as I faked her results so she passed the examination.

Saddened I reflected on the fact that my degree had cost the life of my ojek friend and that if I did tamper with her results, the reputation of the university would be worthless. The answer was, no.

 


1. Ojek are informal motorbike taxi riders who earn an income by carrying pillion passengers to their destination for a fare.

2. Motorbike Taxi (Ojek) was published in the national daily newspaper Kompas in June 1988.

3. On Gerson see http://idwriters.com/writers/gerson-poyk/; http://gersonpoyk.blogspot.com.au/; https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/992956.Gerson_Poyk.  

4. Featured image credit: https://adinparadise.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/wordless-wednesday-hitching-a-ride/