Sunday, November 09, 2008

Jiranku Indonesia IV

After check-in, we went immediately to Tanah Abang and had our lunch at the food court on the eighth floor. The food court was so clean and nice. I think there are more than 100 food stalls to choose from (otherwise they won't be the largest textile market in Southeast Asia). The cendol was superb!

For shopping, we hired a porter to help us carry all our stuff. The rate agreed was Rp 50,000 for three hours. You need to have good negotiating skills in order to get the best price. The complex is so huge that we got lost oftenly.

Although the food court was clean, the food stalls may not. Maryam and my mom-in-law suffered from food poisoning and had to rest in the hotel the next day. I stayed in the hotel too. Only my wife and her sister continued to shop in Tanah Abang the next day.

It was the election night in U.S.A. so I had the opportunity to watch the result the whole day. It was before afternoon that they announced Obama's victory, and the Indonesians really celebrated it. They were so proud to have a special connection with Obama as he spent 2-3 years of his childhood in Jakarta. As I listened to his victory speech in Chicago, I hope that the world would be a better place later on when he take over the President's office. Obama seems to be a leader that promised to listen the the people (at least his own people). This is the power of democracy.

Democracy basically champions the idea of people's supremacy (majority actually, not the whole population). This idea is somewhat alien to Islam since in Islam we believe in God's supremacy over everything else. However, once we are within the boundary allowed by revelation, than we must apply our reasoning to find the best solutions. I believe that once we observe the divine rules and regulations, then democracy should be the best way to govern a nation. It's only when we give the people the right to determine their choice then we can move forward. Democracy nurture the people to respect each other and to consult, listen and voice out. Democracy is one of the good thing that we should learn from the U.S.A. It seems that they are practicing what Islam has been teaching us centuries ago - consult the people. And I've seen my neighbor, Indonesia are pushing a lot of reforms in their political structure. If the leaders learn to respect their own people, then the country is ready to move forward. If Indonesia really appreciates its own people, then it is not impossible if they become greater than Malaysia. If we still stick to our old traditions and against any reformation, then maybe our future generations will become domestic helpers (a.k.a. housemaid) in Indonesia.

Remember, the Philippines 40 years ago was among the most advanced and richest country in the world, where Japanese, Korean and Hong Kong citizens worked as domestic helpers in the Philippines. Where are they now? Yes, now we see the Filipinos emigrating to Japan, Korea and Hong Kong as domestic helpers.

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