Last week, my friend Mukhlis Zamzami Chaniago, head of Indonesian Student Association in India (PPI INDIA – Persatuan Pelajar/mahasiswa Indonesia India) gave me a call asking me to attend a weekend debate held regularly by the association. This time around the speaker expected to be Mr. Dicky Sofjan, Ph.D. from UNDP (United Nation Development Programme) Jakarta office who happens to come to India for a two-week-long workshop with his Indian counterparts.
Unluckily, he couldn’t attend the meeting that night due to a sudden schedule change. He promised to attend it the following night. As we, Indonesian students from surrounding areas, were mostly coming we decided to hold a casual discussion which turned out to be a heated and contentious one. The topic was the roots and causes of corruption in Indonesia.
In that debate, I offered a bit weird and controversial proposition from socio-“genetical” perspective to make the debate more alive and “hot”:
(1)Genetically we are weak. See, whenever Indonesian marry to foreigners (non-mongoloid ones) our kids would be like them; not like us. White & tall like the westerners if their spouses are westerners, etc. It symbolizes, I added, another weakness: our floating opinion/mindset of life.
(2)Because our souls are still in search of the meaning, principles, values of life, we need output from everywhere. In audio-visual (radio, TV, movies) and IT (internet) era like today, the output must be from the master of the technology: the West.
(3) In brief, we absorb everything the west has given and is giving it to us: from sophisticated science & technology, democratic values to pop-culture, pornography, etc. The educated and most critical among us will take the positives ones, leave the rotten stuffs. The uncritical among us will take the easiest thing to absorb: the pop culture. Unfortunately, the latter are in majority .
The pop culture breeds many other evils among which are the consumptive culture. Accordig to English dictionary, this word means:
1. Consuming or tending to consume.
2. Of, relating to, or afflicted with consumption.
A person afflicted with consumption.
In her posting she writes:
Indonesians are consumptive. You can see that malls are just everywhere. Point Square just across the street from Cilandak Town Square will open soon. Pondok Indah Mall 2 has been attracting more and more shoppers with their big-brand counters like Plaza Senayan’s. Artha Gading up north in Kelapa Gading houses even more brands from outside the country.
When some say the country is poor or experiencing monetary crisis, it’s much likely not true …. I read …that the past 3 years, auto industry in Indonesia is going up 60% in selling its products.
Those with minimum income to fulfill their basic needs even compete with their peers owning the latest, trendiest cellphones. Some strive for loans from bank and relatives just to be able to go to Mekkah for pilgrimage. Some others have outstanding credit card debts because they’re buying the newest Toyota sedan or a Honda Jazz.
And I like the way she gaves her own opinion on this regard
And I don’t know whose fault this is. It’s not an advantageous lifestyle, no? It’s all about the pride.
For a 22-year-old girl, who lives in the capital of the country with all its materialistic and consumptive attitude of its citizens, the feeling she expresses, the concern she shares and the soul-searching of a higher values she shows, for me is very encouraging. We need many other soulful girls and boys; women and men; high-ranking governement officials and CEOs of MNCs, ‘ordinary’ civil servants and managers & workers of local companies, NGOs, etc.
We need them to think of living humble & simple. To be the men and women of substance. Spending not beyond our capability. Without which corruption eradication will be only a discourse without any reality. And without which the prospect of Indonesia as a country of prosperity and justice for all will be gloomy. Very gloomy.