29 March 2007

Death Imminent

STREET vendors keep selling goods right close to the railway though without fence. In fact, the danger of being hit by such as the most rapid train like the express intercity threats them only one meter away behind. Since the Tebet sub-district officials fenced the under flyover area earlier this month, the vendors could no longer be there. Only few meters beside the railway is the only alternative place for them to work.

Indonesian version: Pedagang kaki lima bertahan berjualan tepat di pinggiran rel tanpa batas pengaman. Sementara bahaya sambaran kereta rel listrik cepat mengancam satu meter di belakang mereka. Sejak taman di bawah jembatan layang di stasiun Tebet, Jakarta Selatan, ditata pihak kecamatan Tebet awal Maret 2007 dengan memasang pagar-pagar, mereka tak bisa berdagang di sana lagi. Pinggiran rel adalah satu-satunya alternatif yang boleh mereka pakai.(Sri Maryanti)


Tiga Puluh Tahun Menggelandang

“Kalau sakit, saya jual baju buat berobat ke puskesmas. Kalau sudah tidak ada yang dijual lagi, saya tidak mau bayar. Kalau dimarahi saya lawan,” ungkapnya disertai senyuman. Wajahnya jadi lebih berkerut karena senyumnya.

Namanya Juriyah. Ia menunjukkan tiga lembar uang ribuan di tangannya. Jumlah itu yang ia peroleh hari itu hingga jam 10.00. Lantas ia memesan teh panas pada seorang pedagang.

Kalau sakit, saya jual baju buat berobat ke puskesmas. Kalau sudah tidak ada yang dijual lagi, saya tidak mau bayar. Kalau dimarahi saya lawan.

Semua pedagang kaki lima di bawah kolong jembatan layang di stasiun kereta rel listrik Tebet, Jakarta Selatan, mengenalnya. Suaranya bersemangat meskipun usianya sekarang sudah 82 tahun. Ia tinggal sebatang kara di Jakarta. Tiga puluh tahun sudah ia tak memiliki rumah dan hidup di jalanan.

Puluhan tahun yang lalu, bersama suaminya ia datang ke Jakarta dari suatu daerah di Sumatra. Tadinya mereka menyewa sebuah rumah di daerah Senen, Jakarta Pusat. Suaminya seorang tukang listrik amatiran. Meninggal dunia setelah kakinya terkena paku dan mengalami infeksi. Begitu juga anaknya semata wayang, penyakit merenggut nyawanya.

Sejak suaminya meninggal, ia tidak sanggup lagi menyewa rumah. Lalu ia menjadi pekerja rumah tangga sampai dua kali. Pada saat ia pergi ke pasar untuk belanja, sebuah mobil menabraknya. Matanya luka parah dan harus dirawat di rumah sakit. Sejak itu tidak ada lagi orang yang mempekerjakannya sebagai pekerja rumah tangga. Setelah 1965 ia mulai hidup di jalanan. Tidur di sembarangan tempat dan menggantungkan hidup dari derma orang.

Sekarang ia tak bisa berjalan jauh dari satu tempat ke tempat lain. Sekarang ia sering merasa kakinya kaku.** (Sri Maryanti)


27 March 2007

Exasperation in obtaining passports in Indonesia

Yulius Nurendra Efendi

MY EXPERIENCE in obtaining passports in Indonesia at the Surakarta immigration office has made me aware of how shoddy and corrupt this country is. It started when an overseas friend invited me to attend a meeting that later pushed me to have a passport document.

On October 18, 2006 I reached the Surakarta immigration office. I brought with me all required documents. In the front wall it was clearly mentioned the conditions, procedures, costs and fees required for having diverse migration-related documents. But you expected things would be clear and quick, certainly.

As I entered into the office, many brokers have already crowded the room. They offered service that promises to finish the passport making quicker. Of course this was not a free service but one would have to pay more to those brokers. Those brokers asked fees that were two times higher than normal, official one that was only Rp200.000. But because I wanted to do it myself since the beginning, I did not care about them. In fact if I take their service, they could help process only in one day. Yet, the official stipulation as mentioned in that front wall it needed two days to finish the passport.

First, I took the passport application form that cost me Rp10,000. I did not get any receipt for this payment. This is the first irregularity that I found.

After I completed the form, I submitted form including other required documents. In the further process, the officials verified the documents. Another irregularity soon took place. Although my documents were complete, it seemed to me the official would like to show me a loophole. I did not understand what he meant, actually. My birth certificate that I included as required was questioned. The official asked me to include my last education certificate. This meant that I had to get back to that office the day after because I did not bring with me that certificate. In fact as written in the announcement wall, birth and education certificates were only optional requirement. I should only submit either one.

The day after when I brought already my education certificate, the official even ignored that paper just like that. Not even once that certificate was asked. I felt a bit harassed. I became a bit nervous at the next step all my documents were almost lost as they were among other submitted applications. The official only started processing after I urged him, although for that I had to wait longer.

The next step concerned about the passport photo that I had to pay Rp55,000. Now I got a receipt for it. But I realized a weird thing happened as I saw another applicants who came much later than me yet he was given quicker turn to take picture. I realized then that the victims of brokerage were not only those who took the broker’s service but also other applicants who took normal procedure. We were put at farther turn at the back than those who paid more to the brokers.

After the picture was taken, the officials again seemed wanting to prolong time. With the pretext that the next step was to wait for the approval of the central immigration office in Jakarta, the officials asked me to wait for another week. At the time I fully understood as we, Indonesians, were approaching the high season of Idul Fitri.

I ponder upon what happened to me. My ignorance of the procedural process had pushed me to just say yes to what the officials asked. Many applicants must have endured bad experience like this. Because applicants could not monitor what happened to the submitted documents had turned them into a lame duck.

On October 30, 2006, as the officials had earlier promised, I went back to the office. Indeed the service flow was very slow. Now they gave an excuse that it had to be processed in several administration desks, I had to wait and wait again. It was an urge within me to ask them again and again while protesting the sluggish bureaucratic practice. How far my documents had been processed?

I think this is an institutional corruption. (comments from --ambar--)

I had to wait for four hours before the passport was completed. We had to pay Rp205,000 consisting of Rp200,000 for the cost of the passport document and Rp5,000 for the fingers print fee. If you count right from the beginning to the end, the total sum of fee required was Rp270,000. In fact the announcement says only Rp200,000. Only through normal, official procedures, you will have to pay more than actually required. What if you take the service of those brokers? I overheard them saying they paid from Rp500,000 to Rp600,000 to get the passport in one or two days. Is this my Indonesia?**


Facts about hunger and poverty in Indonesia

HUNGER is like the tip of the iceberg of poverty. Study reveals that malnourished children typically, you may say, crowd the iceberg tip. They characteristically originate from poor families. Most of them, particularly those living in rural areas, do not have any plot of land to till or they have too small one. And those from urban areas only have small, meager, unsteady income. If you count what they get daily into money, their income will be less than Rp200,000 a month. This is definitely far lower than the international threshold of poverty of spending $US 1.55 a day as stated by the World Bank or even US$2 a day by the European Union.

In addition, malnourished children tend not to get nutritious foods as they eat mostly more carbohydrate sources like rice, corn, etc. but no vegetables at all. It is true that most of families have some livestock like chicken and pigs they may take as important source of protein, but very low income and the adat customary demands prevent them from taking benefit without restraint from their meat.

.. their income .. is definitely far lower than the international threshold of poverty ..

Despite of those weaknesses of poor families, however, there are other non-economic determinants that define their ability to avoid their children malnourished. Following are the three most important efforts they do, i.e. first, they feed their children regularly, three times a day, morning, midday, evening; second, they keep their living places clean and regularly frequenting the activities of the community children health center (posyandu) for checking their children’s body weight and serving disease immunization program, third, they routinely feed their children with vegetables. The last two are distinct minimum efforts the poor families exercise to avoid the malnutrition routine threats.

You may ask why many failing families do not do such minimum efforts supposed to be so simple? Apart from the low income of the families, in fact there are some problems, i.e. first, they have very minimum knowledge and understanding about problems on malnutrition and health — this is very likely the result of low level of education, particularly of women; second, the families have many children more than they could shoulder the burden, third, they fail to have a child be born long enough after the other, fourth, the comparatively heavy load of family’s chores on women.

Looking closer into those malnourished children, our study also reveals that they mostly originate from parents with low education background, i.e. they passed only elementary schools or elementary school’s drop-outs, and they have many children. While parents of better-nourished children originate more from parents with higher school education (secondary school) and have less children.


* European Union Overview on Indonesia (September 2006)
* World Bank assessment on poverty (2006)
* World Bank on Poverty (Indonesia Matters)


26 March 2007

Why Jakarta elite indifferent to their surroundings?

ALTHOUGH fully realize the on-going construction of the car park building on the formerly Persija soccer field at Menteng quarter of Central Jakarta plainly breaks the law, the residents of the city elite quarter living in its surrounding remain indifferent, environmentalist says.

“We realize the problem, but we cannot confront the city government face to face. It is your job as environmental activists to resolve this problem,” says Slamet Daroyni of the Indonesian environment organization of Walhi quoting the response of many Menteng residents when asked to engage the problem.

The soccer field was managed by the Jakarta Soccer Association of Persija but the Jakarta city government evicted it last year. Now the government assigns contractors to build a car park building.

Menteng residents consist of different groups, he says. “There are government officials, businessmen, academicians and professionals. Government officials and businessmen prefer to side for their personal security in this case. Those who fight for it mostly come from among academicians and professionals.”

We realize the problem, but we cannot confront the city government face to face. It is your job as environmental activists to resolve this problem.

Mrs. Pudji Siregar, a Menteng dweller, who admits herself as a housewife but actively protesting the construction raised similar remark. “It is indeed difficult to involve them to engage against the construction,” she reiterated. She added the elite quarter residents are difficult to unite. They have different interests.

The woman who graduated from a US university said that to successfully involve them into social movement one should show concrete results in advance. “I therefore hold activities like movie screening (layar tancap) that will be held on March 31, 2007 and the publication of Menteng Heritage bulletin in a bid to unite them before inviting them to move (against the construction),” she said. To her, it is difficult to ask them for engaging complicated matters like the controversy of the car park building, not to mention yet about the tedious legal battle.

After her house was flooded in February, this spirited woman filed to city police of charges of crimes against the environment against the car construction responsible, i.e. the city government.

In addition, according to Slamet of Walhi who actively represents the Menteng residents, the environmental assessment is not in accordance with the proper legal procedures, because the city government does not fully involve the residents during the planning process. He said it was against the Law No.23/1997 on the Environment Management and Government Rule No.27/1999 on the Environment Assessment.**

See Indonesian version.


24 March 2007

Apa gunanya pemerintah untuk kaum miskin di Jakarta?

PULUHAN tahun warga miskin kota Jakarta memperjuangkan pengakuan bagi keberadaan mereka. Dari jadi langganan penggusuran, berupaya mendirikan rumah baru, membuat jalan, mengusahakan air bersih sampai listrik mereka usahakan sendiri.

“Pengalaman digusur sudah saya alami sejak kecil. Dulu Tramtib langsung menggusur dengan alat berat. Kami menyingkir dan menyelamatkan barang. Kami kembali lagi setelah aparat pergi,” kata Yati, salah satu warga RT 015/RW02 Cipinang Besar Selatan, Jatinegara, Jakarta Timur, 24 Maret 2007.

Perjuangan selama 20 tahun untuk memperoleh pengakuan secara administratif dari kelurahan tidaklah mudah. Berbagai jalan mereka lalui. Termasuk menyiapkan infrastruktur sendiri.

“Dulu listrik masuk ke daerah ini karena seorang warga memasang listrik dengan membeli tiang dan peralatannya sendiri. Lalu kami menumpang. Setelah itu barulah RT ini dipasangi listrik,” tambah Yati sambil mengingat saat mereka harus iuran untuk membuat sumur pompa beramai-ramai. “Pengerasan jalan pun swadaya masyarakat dan dibantu oleh sebuah organisasi pada tahun 1986.”

Pengalaman digusur sudah saya alami sejak kecil. Dulu Tramtib langsung menggusur dengan alat berat. Kami menyingkir dan menyelamatkan barang. Kami kembali lagi setelah aparat pergi.

Perempuan yang tinggal di pinggir kali dan sering banjir tersebut menunjukkan dua buah jembatan. Menurutnya jembatan tersebut dibangun berkat bantuan dari sebuah organisasi. Jembatan ini sangat dibutuhkan tidak hanya oleh komunitas RT015 yang sangat miskin itu tapi juga komunitas-komunitas lain di sekitarnya. Kata mantan sekretaris RT ini, pengadaan sarana mandi cuci dan kakus juga dibangun oleh warga sendiri pada tahun 1998.

“Tadinya rumah kami tidak seperti ini. Dulu dari papan dan dus. Lalu kami mengumpulkan uang dan mulai memperbaiki rumah menjadi berdinding semen,” tambahnya. Menurutnya mereka memperoleh fasilitas air PAM baru pada tahun 2003 atas usaha Dekel (Dewan Kelurahan) setempat.

RT 015 mulai diakui sebagai bagian dari kelurahan Cipinang besar tahun 2000 setelah Erna Witoelar mengunjungi mereka. Pegiat lingkungan Erna waktu itu jadi menteri pemukiman dan prasarana wilayah 1999-2001. Saat ini jumlah warganya sekitar 120 keluarga. Pengakuan secara admisnistratif ini menyebabkan mereka bisa memiliki KTP, Kartu Keluarga, memperoleh pelayanan kesehatan gratis bagi keluarga miskin dan raskin.

Tapi, apakah mereka sungguh-sungguh sudah aman dan tak akan digusur lagi di masa depan? Tidak jelas. Nasib mereka tetap seperti telor di ujung tanduk. Yang jelas, mereka tak punya sertifikat. Isyu program normalisasi sungai juga sudah dihembuskan di koran-koran. (Sri Maryanti)

Click wikimapia to find where they live in Jakarta.


23 March 2007

Mengapa Warga Menteng Cuèk ?

MESKIPUN sadar terjadi pelanggaran hukum di balik pembangunan gedung parkir bekas stadion Persija di Menteng, Jakarta Pusat, namun warga perumahan elit yang terpelajar itu tetap cuèk. Demikian ungkap Slamet Daroyni, Direktur Eksekutif Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (Walhi) Jakarta.

“Kami mengerti masalahnya, namun kami tidak bisa berhadapan langsung dengan pihak pemrakarsa (pemda). Tugas kalian sebagai pemerhati lingkungan untuk menyelesaikan masalah ini,” begitu ungkap Slamet mengutip kata warga yang diarahkan pada jaringan pegiat lingkungan.

Warga Menteng terdiri dari berbagai kelompok, kata Slamet. “Ada kelompok mantan pejabat, kelompok pengusaha, kelompok akademisi dan kelompok profesi. Kelompok mantan pejabat dan pengusaha lebih suka mengambil posisi aman dalam kasus ini. Yang selama ini banyak berjuang justru kelompok akademisi dan profesi.”

Kami mengerti masalahnya, namun kami tidak bisa berhadapan langsung dengan pihak pemrakarsa (pemda). Tugas kalian sebagai pemerhati lingkungan untuk menyelesaikan masalah ini.

Hal senada juga diungkapkan oleh Ibu Pudji Siregar, seorang ibu rumah tangga yang giat melakukan protes terhadap pembangunan gedung parkir ini. “Sangat berat sekali mengajak mereka untuk bergerak,” ungkapnya berulang-ulang. Menurutnya masyarakat Menteng masih susah disatukan. Mereka memiliki kepentingan yang beragam.

Ibu muda yang menyelesaikan studinya di Amerika ini mengatakan bahwa untuk menggerakkan warga masih harus melalui kegiatan yang hasilnya segera terlihat. “Maka saya mengadakan kegiatan seperti acara layar tancap ala Menteng yang akan diadakan tanggal 31 Maret 2007 dan penerbitan majalah Menteng Heritage dalam rangka mempersatukan mereka sebelum mengajaknya bergerak,” imbuhnya. Menurutnya, warga masih susah diajak mengurusi hal-hal rumit seperti kontroversi pembangunan gedung parkir itu, apalagi yang berhubungan dengan proses hukum.

Setelah rumahnya terkena banjir Februari lalu, ibu yang penuh semangat ini melaporkan pemrakarsa proyek pembangunan gedung parkir tersebut ke polda DKI. Pemrakarsa proyek tersebut dilaporkan telah melakukan kejahatan lingkungan.

Menurut Slamet yang aktif mendampingi warga, penyusunan dokumen Amdal (analisis mengenai dampak lingkungan) tidak sesuai dengan prosedur karena tidak sepenuhnya mengikutsertakan masyarakat dalam proses perencanaan. Menurutnya, hal ini menyalahi UU No 23/1997 tentang Pengelolaan Lingkungan Hidup dan PP No 27/1999 tentang Analisis Mengenai Dampak Lingkungan (AMDAL).**


22 March 2007

Why migrant workers remain poor back home?

Savitri Wisnuwardhani

My motivation to work abroad is to have money for buying a big house, land and improving my life. If I do not go, I can’t fulfill my dream. It’s hard to suffice my daily life’s needs.

An interview with an Indonesian migrant worker

POOR people in rural areas have been worse hit by the economic difficulties in third world counties like Indonesia. A case study conducted in migrant workers sending districts in the country features how the villages endure similar problems of poverty. Working overseas is among the solutions taken by poor villagers as almost all Indonesian women going to work overseas admit that their motivation is to improve their difficult life. They got a lot of earnings. But, how do they spend them? Why are they still poor and then go again to work overseas?

Many opinions say about the reasons why people work overseas. Poverty is one of the undeniable reasons. Difficulties to find a work at home countries push them to work overseas. But after returning to Indonesia, why are they still poor though they sent back quite sum of money? The Jember district branch of the Indonesian central bank recently informs that in the first semester of 2006 as many as Rp162 billions (over $US 17.6 millions) have been sent back as the remittance of the migrant workers originating from Jember district. About Rp27 billions a month is supposedly running into the villages in Jember.

Click the image to see it bigger.

The result of our research in 2005 on 92 Indonesian migrants working in Singapore may explain better the picture, saying that motivation of most migrant workers is to get money to buy land (13.7%) and to renovate their houses (19.5%) and for diverse home equipments mostly furniture and electronic products (10%). This tendency takes place because they admittedly want to pursue prestige and perceived success as they live in their villages with having a plot of land to build a good looking houses.

Case study that we conduct in a Jember village shows life’s success in the village is socially measured with having big and decent house. This is among what most migrant workers say when asked why they want to work overseas. No wonder that after returning to their village, they build houses that look like those in real estate. But most of their big, good-looking houses as you may see them from outside do not match with the inside condition. You would only find their genuine identity when you enter to their kitchen and bathroom as compared to their living rooms and the front face of their houses. You would see nearly a stark difference like luxury and simplicity.

This contrast likely shows that they are not well prepared to accept rapid social and economic changes, because they are nearly set up to imitate social trends of life style in big cities. There seems to be a cultural dominance that most people in the village unconsciously follow. Such cultural dominance has far affected their livelihood. Their earnings that they got from at least two-year working overseas would finish only in six months after living back in their origin country. Afterwards they would be back again into their usual condition of poverty.

Regarding rural life style, let’s say, most people in the village would like to behave as if people living in big cities. And they find urban style as if a ‘must-to-do’, something clearly incongruent to their surrounding but they are ready to pay it with high price. Such life style is indeed comparatively very costly that makes them quickly running out of money and understandably they would go working overseas again as unskilled migrant workers.

In this regard it is difficult not to say that in the present social context the TV programs like popular telenovelas have much affected their daily life. Most of the programs tantalize them with luxury and dreams of becoming rich people. Even people in remote areas in Jember district now would already have TV set in their home. Such a dream has unconsciously transformed into what they find it as their needs. You would find it then very contrasting with the actual simplicity of living in rural areas in Indonesia.

Social behavior that prefers of making nice impression than realistic attitude is apparently consequences of the inadequate education and trainings. They lack of proper information and skills on how to use their money to improve their livelihood.

In such a situation there appear overseas work placement sponsors who entice them to easily get a lot of money if they work like in Middle Eastern countries, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. That kind of easy money is almost straightforwardly associated with what they have seen the like in the telenovelas. Sponsors almost always allure them with sweet promises of quick money disregarding social, cultural condition of their working places in other countries. As a result, they decided to go overseas without any further reasonable considerations such as improving skills and self-confidence in advance.

May be you ask when they could really improve their life and stop being poor? To my opinion, they will only succeed overcoming poverty if they spend their earnings more on small businesses, the benefit of which would directly support their livelihood. In fact there are only as low as five percents of migrant workers who spend their earnings for microfinance activities. As many as 43.2 percents of them, instead, spend their earnings for building comparatively expensive houses and equipments. If they were more interested in spending their money for their economic undertaking, their lives would predictably be better, having more balance with their social environment.**


Why poor families in Indonesia may survive from hunger?

COMMON SENSE would say that children who suffer from malnutrition are those of poor families. This applies anywhere and our research in five districts in East Nusa Tenggara of Indonesia confirms it as well. Nothing is new. We find however not few poor families are able to keep their children remain healthy. Comparison between both kinds may be fruitful for understanding why malnutrition takes place and presumably we may identify what to suggest for improvement.

Most of those children who now suffer from acute malnutrition were earlier healthy ones. When asked why those children become too skinny, two third of their parents promptly respond that their children start to lose appetite and get sick. And most of the parents also do not know that their children actually suffer from malnutrition. They only realize what malnutrition is all about after visiting sub-district health center (puskesmas) and being informed so and/or by village midwives. They mostly are confused which is the first, getting sick or malnourishment. No chicken or egg problem here because is it not the fact that there are more children who do not suffer malnourishment than those malnourished? This would explain that although there are many diseases threatening, food quality would directly improve human body immunity.

Data on food quality at household level shows obvious difference between families having malnourished children and those with better nourished ones. The parents of the first category tend to give their under-5-year babies only rice porridge without any vegetables, while better nourished get more. If the latter parents could not afford to feed their children with additional food like fish or meat or other protein, data shows vegetables are the minimum additional food given to them in order to survive acute malnutrition. Analysis confirms that providing vegetables is the most conspicuous option that makes little but meaningful comparative difference between both.

It should be assumed however that this preference on food quality in understanding malnutrition and even hunger phenomenon does not put aside common knowledge that the diseases rapidly deteriorate already weak body condition for malnourishment. Diseases are common symptoms that this research considers to be put in the bracket for the moment. It is also because diseases like malaria, diarrhea, respiratory malfunction locally called ISPA, etc. commonly infect among poor people.

In addition, in many locations of the country gender preference matters as it is common that male members of the families, particularly the husband or father, are privileged of foods. And women are assumed to have less food and more chores. However, data also reveals that children malnutrition has likely nothing to do with gender bias within the families. Those families who apparently join hand in hand among all members of the families, but especially between husbands and wives, to put priority in nurturing their children, likely to have healthy children. Most poor families but having more healthy habit know what to do their best. Those who fail mostly have less understanding about basic knowledge on nutrition. The danger of malnutrition is much closer when they have more than two toddlers particularly when they fail to have one child be born long enough after the other. The most certain in trouble are those who have twin babies apart from other, let's say, five small children.**

Update 30/6/07
Who quot this posting?


18 March 2007

Two poor families in Sikka: How do they fight hunger?

Sri Palupi & Reslian Pardede

POVERTY is definitely not a single, simple reality, yet contradiction may enrich your understanding of what poverty is all about. The following is a case study of two families, both grouped as poor far below the World Bank’s standard, in Sikka district in East Nusa Tenggara province in Indonesia. Both have significant difference in their profile characteristics although both also have comparatively unusual education background.

The first is the couple of Marcellus Magnus and Margaretha Eta, whose child suffers from acute malnutrition. The second is the couple of Fermus Tuka and Martina Teparan, whose child is healthy. First of all, let’s look at how many children do they have. The first, who lives in Maumere town, begets four children, and the second that live in rural site of Baumekot village at Kewapante sub-district owns only one child. It is unavoidable to presume that the family load depends much on how many children do they have, particularly in the degree of attention and the quality of food fed in each family.

Magnus-Eta family has just had a new baby, the fourth child, female, when their third child was receiving food aid program from the local government. Her name was Elisabeth Elsa, 35 months old, was found malnourished after being measured at local community’s baby health service of posyandu (integrated service post). On one side, poor condition of the family has pushed related village midwife to give her food aids for recovery. What makes this family different from other families that have similar children suffering of acute malnutrition is the fact that three out of four children have suffered from acute malnutrition. Two other children have recovered into normal condition, each aged of eight and six years old. On the other side, the economic burden of Tuka family that has only one child is clearly much less heavier that Magnus family that has four children. The only Tuka’s child, named Romanus Oscar, five year old, is in a good condition.

If you look at the income of each, both families have the same unsteady ones. But Magnus family is slightly better than the other. Like many other families at Baumekot village, Tuka is a commodity crop farmer. The difference with the other one, Tuka has also another source of income. They have a small stall selling daily needs stuffs like instant noodles, coffee powder, sugar, tea, ect. Tuka’s wife, Martina Teparan, manages a barter method of selling to their customers, mostly villagers from the area. The stall allows candlenuts (kemiri), coconuts and other crops be bartered with other daily need items. With the stall Tuka family may survive from difficult economic situations, such as pest that hit their crops that once in the past no additional earnings could add into their meager income. In 2006 they could only take coconuts, the amount of which was not more than 10 kilos each time they pick. Severe pest attacked their cacao, while the clove plants failed to bloom, and until the end of the year the vanilla plants have not ripened the fruits yet.

Different from Tuka family that has a small, simple living place, Magnus family stays on a quite large stoned house. The latter’s house seems not to suit to their economic condition as of why most neighbors would consider them as poor family. In fact the family does not own the house but a non-inherited property of their parent. His work as a non-permanent laborer has rendered their life uncertain. Although he admits to be a stipend-paid gardener at a private local secondary school, in fact he does not receive the honorarium routinely. Magnus often finds himself more unemployed. You can say that he works for one month, but he would be unemployed for other three or four months. His status is a stipend-based laborer but his earnings is not more than semi-unemployed who is paid only when there are concrete, available things to do. If he is lucky, he could gain average income of Rp150,000 (USD16.27) a month. But it has been for some years of no work orders fetching him. What he gets often only suffices for buying rice and corn. In one day in fact they spend at least Rp7,000 for buying rice and corn. They could only rarely consume vegetables, which is a luxury they may consume only if there is some more money remaining.

Apart from lacking of steady work income, Magnus family does not own any plot of land. He only tills a small piece of land, not more than one-fourth hectares, owned by a relative while taking a share. Latest years he could no longer till the land for the many natural calamities hitting the areas like drought, typhoon, flood. In 2006 he could only take 70 kilos of corn and some sweet potatoes, the only crops that have mercy on him. And that small yield does not suffice the needs of his family.

He still has another chore to feed a pig owned by another relative with a share. In this case he is quite different from other families in Sikka district as he feeds the pig to afford his children schooling. In fact in Sikka most people have pigs for customary purposes. He knows that he needs to focus his days and nights to suffice the children’s needs of food and schooling, but he fails yet to materialize what he envisages.

Perhaps there is an uncommon clue that arises from their education background. Magnus and his wife actually have a higher upbringing as compared to other people in the surroundings. Both finished their high schools but it seems higher education does not make any difference for them, particularly from the threat of hunger for their children. Since she is high school graduate, Margaretha knows many things about nutrients and health requirements. She is also diligent to frequent the sessions held by the community health post to have a look to the development of his baby’s weight and to get health services like immunizations. She has personally milked all of her children. Since the beginning of their marriage the couple agreed to follow the family plan program but they failed to have one child be born long enough after the other. She has changed three times of the contraception methods but none is suitable for her. So far it is only herself who decides to use contraception. But now after the fourth child, the husband takes initiative that Margaretha uses spiral method of contraception.

Now if you look into the other child’s parent, they may be said to have worse education background. The parents of baby named Romanus Oscar have only passed elementary school level yet the minimum education seems not to stop them from well nurturing their child. Oscar’s mother, Martina, has quite good knowledge about nutrient and children health although she admits of not understanding about the use of why should milk her child until the child reaches age of 24 months. Until he reaches five years told, Romanus still goes to the community children health post. Martina is also quite concerned about the nutrient of his son’s feeding. When she knows that Romanus does not like eating vegetables, she tries to find other ways with providing him with his preferred soup. Even then when time is difficult to earn a living, though only sweet potatoes that she could provide, she keeps trying to include vegetables while feeding him. This young woman is clear in focusing on her child’s minimum nutrient. More than that, she also emphasizes the routine of the child feeding with three times of meals everyday added by some vegetables. As a result, Romanus has never had any malnourishment problem.

If you compare him with the other family’s children mentioned above, everyday the children are fed with only cooked rice no other menu with it. No vegetables, no side dish like meat, fish, or whatever. The main menu consisting of carbohydrate substance is already hard for them to get. During time of scarcity like then, children often eat only and only sweet potatoes. They admit that during difficult time the grandparents and other relatives from rural areas still support them with foods. From their origin village they still get some help to survive famine. They admit that the children are more sufficed the food if they stay along with the grandparent family in the village. There at least they could have porridge and vegetables and some dried fishes. Not like during their stay in the town, it is indeed difficult for them even to get “empty” rice porridge. Such difficult situations often push Margaretha and her children to leave the town and return to the village to find her parent, knowing that her husband’s income would not suffice their child’s feeding.

The above picture shows that although knowledge capacity of Magnus family may clearly suffice for them to survive from nutritious food lack, poverty definitely has taken away their ability to use such knowledge for survival. As compared to other families in the surroundings, Magnus family is sorted out as very poor, as the neighbors would put it. The local children health service cadre confirms us that they may be considered the poorest in the area. Magnus himself, humbly enough, also confirms such social label. Poverty has made his neighbors exclude him from participating in local festivities. He admits to have never been invited to neighborhood gatherings. During the festivities of first communion, one family may receive up to ten invitations. For Magnus family, it is much relieving to have no invitations at all. No invitation means no obligation to offer financial gifts to afford. Neighbors seem to understand that he would not have anything to offer knowing that even providing foods is difficult for his family. Such attitude apparently is rarely found in the East Nusa Tenggara province that has strong customary practices. Most of them find it embarrassing to be labeled as poor, because in fact they are likely to provide a lot of money to offer as gifts for burdensome social prestige of the tradition.**

Link to sky view of Maumere from wikimapia.


12 March 2007

Interview: Lesson Learned from Hunger Fighter in East Nusa Tenggara of Indonesia

Maria Mediatrix Mali

Eradicating Poverty to Improve Children’s Welfare

SHE is strong, brown skinned and warm, tall and slim, yet her voice is clear and well heard. The same voice is often echoed in the local council’s parlors, or at the regent’s office, several important public services division heads of the local district administration in Sikka, in Flores island, East Nusa Tenggara of Indonesia. She has also participated in several important international fora for health development. Her name is Maria Mediatrix Mali. This 47-year woman has academic background in education science from teacher institute of IKIP Karang Malang in Yogyakarta in Java. Now she has worked for seven years developing the People Social Development Foundation (Yaspem) in Sikka. The foundation has successfully developed among the best local initiatives to resolve hunger and poverty in Indonesia. Below interview with her reveals inspiration for you to learn her concern and her works, and hopefully you may take important note for your concern in fighting against hunger and poverty.

In short, it should not be emergency and charitable programs only.

How did you join the People Social Development Foundation (Yaspem) in Sikka?

In 1997 I met catholic priest Father Heinrich Bollen SVD in Jakarta. He asked me to join his work with the foundation. I declined but after several times of his requests to join him, finally in 1999 I started working for Yaspem. He put me as the director of the foundation. Before assuming it, I got an opportunity to learn for myself from several organizations in Germany for three months. During my stay there I learned a lot about many donor institutions like Misereor, Missio, Kolping, Caritas of Auxburg and Freiburg, Kinder Mission Werk and Frauen Mission Werk.

What did you do for Yaspem after returning from Germany?

I started to improve Yaspem that was already seven years of nothing. When Father Bollen set up it in 1974, Yaspem had two main units of services that are commercial unit and community services unit. I made some improvement while establishing new programs. Commercial unit for instance covers lodging and mechanic workshop. The community services unit covers agricultural activities, orphanage, land terrace conservation, several workshops for people training, husbandry, literacy program, anti-malaria and anti-tuberculosis drives, children welfare and hunger fighting program.

When did Yaspem start the program of tackling hunger on children?

I restarted it since 2004 because Yaspem earlier had tackled hunger disaster and acute malnutrition at Wolofeo subdistrict in 1978. The earlier program was more emergency program in its character. We now make it more systematic and sustainable because malnutrition and hunger hit the communities again and again. We realize that emergency program is needed from time to time but we would like as much as possible to set up preventive measures than merely emergency healing program. In short, it should not be emergency and charitable programs only.

..we help poor families that have malnourished children with improving their health conditions and providing them with adequate knowledge of feeding pattern for their children.

What is the way? What kind of approach do you apply?

Apart from direct program to help the acute malnourished children, we also strengthen the families’ resilience. For tackling malnutrition on children I set up a big team consisting of smaller teams of sweeping malnourished children to be treated medically, social service team to organize social service activities along with doctors, training team that helps conducting trainings for anti-hunger cadres in the villages.

What do you mean with ‘resilience of the families’? How do you do it?

I mean that we help poor families that have malnourished children with improving their health conditions and providing them with adequate knowledge of feeding pattern for their children. For instance, we conduct improvement for women capacity in preparing variations of nutrient-rich foods, in maintaining hydroponic agriculture for vegetables, and how to keep the environment clean. Meanwhile, we also help facilitate household economic activities with skill improvement trainings and co-operatives. It is expected that the livelihood of the families would be fulfilled and therefore they would be able to maintain children’s health and growth. Hopefully hunger would disappear soon.

It seems you put women as a very potential group in dealing with malnutrition.

Right, because women play much role in nurturing children. And therefore in many activities, we should empower women. In our place, about 60 percent malnourished children come from illiterate women. Therefore in the learning workshop apart from conducting literacy program for those women, we also teach them with anti-malnutrition awareness, reproductive health, children protection, anti-violence against women, etc.

There are in fact many fund opportunities from the government but they are not yet maximally allocated and benefited for people’s good.

What is the men’s involvement in the programs?

It is very important to change society’s mind that is dominated by men. Men have also to take responsibility on matters of families, taking care of children, diverse household chores, etc. In the activities we conduct, men are involved in hydroponics program for agricultural activities to provide families with healthy vegetables. We involve the communities to keep the environment clean, to clean water-channels from mosquito’ larvae that may cause malaria, compost making, etc.

What is the engagement of the communities?

It is important to involve the communities. Apart from involving the communities in the villages, we also involve religious groups like the church. As many people realize the church has important role in East Nusa Tenggara’s societies. The church has the power to deliver important messages for the societies. Even she can motivate her congregations to realize the concrete situations that they face and push all people together to tackle existing problems.

Where does Yaspem get funds from for anti-malnutrition activities?

Although Yaspem has a business unit that supports its activities, the total sum of the revenue is very small. We have also aid funds but the sum is not that big, such as from Kinder Mission Werk that grants 18,000 euro (±US$24,171)for tackling malnutrition for over 1,000 children beneficiaries. From Frauen Mission Werk we only gets 3,000 euro for the business of ikat clothes that were sent and sold in Germany. We realize that the hunger fight can be sustained and therefore long-term design should be taken. We find it then important to improve education providing knowledge and skill to improve economic condition of the families. Therefore we keep widening teamwork with many parties. We provide knowledge about nutrients while practicing skills to make foods like chips (kripik), preserved fishes (ikan pindang), fermented coconut oil, growing vegetables, etc.

Who do you work with?

So far we work with diverse parties, such as related government offices like district office of health, of industry and trade, and of education divisions. For instance for tackling malnourished children we teamwork with the subdistrict health center of Puskesmas, local hospitals, and the district government office of health. We deal with the poor people’s health insurance of Askeskin, a government’s health program that may finance the medical treatment for sick and malnourished children. We work with the district government office of industry and trade for the productive skill trainings and the products marketing. We work with the district government office of education service to train and form nutrient-aware cadres in the villages.

What are the results with working with those parties so far?

There are collaborative efforts that can be developed and kept improving, for instance, the supports from the district government office of industry and trade for our small business units, like cooperatives. Yaspem’s cooperative, the Bintang Timur credit coop that is only two years old now has heaped about 700 members and the assets reach over Rp500 millions (US $ 54,347). Apart from supporting the Yaspem’s finance, this coop has become an education place and community development center. This coop has affiliated to umbrella cooperative at East Nusa Tenggara provincial level, and also at national level with the Inkopdit, even it has an international affiliation. We can get trainings for our members. Now our coop has developed some business units like education saving, voluntary saving, daily interest saving and skill improvement saving programs.

What kinds of difficulties that you face in dealing with hunger?

It is indeed not that easy but we have conviction that we have to be brave realizing that what we do is correct. Therefore way-outs are open ahead. Besides honesty needed, you shall not be afraid. Difficulties are abound, for example in getting the health insurance program of Askeskin from the government, in fact information is closed to the public. Such facility is even swindled by the hospital’s employees. The bureaucracy of health services is also very long overdue and complicated. We also often get improper services because they see it as merely public insurance, from which they will not get any money. Another difficulty is about regulation. There are not many public regulations that protect people’s interests, such as district regulation on the environment about how to manage wastes. There is no yet regulation on literacy policy. Some people have already prepared with proposed drafts of district regulations but the local councilors do not pay any heed, and therefore people get disappointed and nurture distrust against the establishment. It is too often that the councilors hurt people’s feeling because they break their own words. Another difficulty may come from local people’s leaders like village heads because some of them decline to support people’s activities because the heads realize there will be no financial benefits for themselves.

What should be done to stop hunger?

On public policy we should demand for the people’s participation in planning and the implementation process. There are quite many opportunities to stop hunger with collaborating with the governments. We should pressurize them continuously and invite the governments to work concretely along with the people. There are in fact many fund opportunities from the government but they are not yet maximally allocated and benefited for people’s good. From the people themselves, their good initiatives should be more encouraged. And finally, don’t stop informing and campaigning the importance of hunger fight. In short, we should voice out the hunger fight concern until the problems are resolved and the future of the children could really be saved.**

Sea World Club


09 March 2007

The strength of civil society in Bangkok

Millions of miles away
between Jakarta and Bangkok (7)

THE INCREASING recognition of the rights of the poor communities in Bangkok did not take place merely because of the good will and the positive concern of the government. The recognition has gradually taken place because of the pressure and long struggle of the poor communities that organize themselves, develop networking and accept large popular supports from NGOs, academicians, and proffesionals.

It is almost no distance between poor communities and middle class people. It is in fact not only NGOs that organize the poor but also academicians from the universities and other higher learning institutions. Lecturers and senior proffesors are not hesitant to hold discussions and mingle with the poor. At least 10 percents of academicians in Bangkok are involved with supporting the struggle of the poor to achieve their basic rights.

It is no longer surprising that a professor of the respected Tamasad University involves himself in organizing 13 poor communities in the city. Another lecturer from the Silapakorn University helps the Mahakan Fort community, the members of which are now threatened to be removed by the land and old building commercialization. Academicians, NGO and proffesionals groups like lawyers, architects, ect. along with the poor communities fight for pushing the recognition of the poor’s rights. The coalition among academicians, professionals, NGOs and the poor communities at the same time would become the controller of the city development direction.

My visit to those three communities that are threatened by eviction, i.e. the Wang Lee, Kratum Diew and Mahakan Fort communities, has convinced me about the comparative strength of the civil society in Bangkok. When the Wang Lee community that is situated at Charoen Krung soi 52, having a small alley (soi) close to Saphan Taksin bridge is threatened by eviction, resistance comes from diverse parties, including from the NGOs, professionals (architects, journalists and lawyers), academicians (anthropologists, sosiologists, cultural studies proffessors and historians) and the organizations of the poor communities from four regions in Bangkok.

The small community that has only 77 household members got large supports from middle class people of Bangkok. The concern with the life continuation of a small community that was channeled into a large support of middle class people has rendered the eviction issue mobilizing into significant pressurizing one: the publicly condemned issue of the eviction against national cultural site.

Why so? Because the house in which the community resides was constructed by a noted French architect in early 20th century. A small alley that is part of the community is also part of the history of the maritime trade and transportation industry in Bangkok. The alley cannot be separated from a ship-shaped momument at the Buddhist monastery situated next to it. Along the alley formerly lived first Chinese migrants from mainlain China. The issue of evicting such precious heritage was raised in diverse fora including discussion forum at Thammasat University. When the evictors wanted to forcefully destroy the old buildings, mass of people coming from diverse directions and walks of life thronged into it to stop the unwanted unilateral eviction.

Similar happening took place at the Kratum Diew and Mahakan Fort communties. At both cases, NGOs, academicians, proffesionals and poor communities joined hand in hand to fight against evictions. Group of professionals supported with providing alternative architectural and community life design when they overhauled and renovated the poor communties. The academicians built supporting arguments from social, economic, cultural and historical approaches. They joined the NGOs in organizing the poor people. Along with poor communities they held dialogues and negotiations with the government or land owners. To sum up, different ways were applied to find solutions and to stop evictions.

It is difficult yet to imagine that Jakartan academicians could work together and willingly mingle the poor communities like what I saw in Bangkok. Even toward different city issues that directly relate to their own public issues like acute traffic jam, sloppy public room use, improper fencing of public parks, misuse of public spaces, land and space over-commercialization, even there are very few academicians and proffesionals voice up their concerns. It is inimaginable that such group builds coalition to resistance for those causes. Jakartan civil society is fairly weak so that Jakarta remains sloppy. The city development is fully at the hand of political leaders and capital owners. The Jakarta residents are fragmented, easily twisted because they are weak.

The weakness of Jakarta’s civil society, apart for low awareness and short public concern and solidarity as common dwellers of the city, political system and the bureaucracy have made its citizens powerless and fragmented in distantiated social groupings one from the other. The contrary takes place in Bangkok, instead. Bangkok’s political and adminstration system has given spaces and opportunities and even encourages its residents to organize themselves. It can be seen at least from the policy of offering funds for organizing the communties. Poor communities that have organized their members register themselves to the Bangkok administration, and they get the status of formal community and they will have loan facilities for further development.

Apart from that, from Baan Mangkong program offers the opportunities for poor communities, academicians, professionals and local government unit to encounter to solve problems. Politicians can no longer boast only promises and object the poor only as their tool to get votes. The politicians are closely linked to the people as voters. They have actual constitutent base knowing most the members and on the other way arount the contituents have critical stance and integrity. They are not easy to be fooled around.

Finally control to the government and the politicians is well in function because the civil society also has actual command over them. This control has contributed in the toppling of former prime minister Thaksin Sinawatra late last year. Most people like street vendors, taxi drivers upto academicians did not want Taksin because he was utterly corrupt. On the other side it is a also know that Thaksin was quite popular among the poor.

After considering Bangkok as a city and from the point of view of the poor communities, there appears a question: Why Bangkok could sustain changes while Jakarta fails? In fact Bangkok once learned it from Jakarta. Bangkok also suffered from traffic jams as serious as in the present Jakarta, but after building a mass transportation means of skytrain, the traffic jams subsides. In the meantime there are many unresolved problems, starting from acute traffic jams, inorderly city management, flood, pollution, poverty, riots upto evictions. As a metropole Jakarta’s problems does not seem to diminish but intensified, even though at a certain point in the past both shared the same level of seriousness. It is surprising that Bangkok may resolve the troubles yet Jakarta even more entangled.

What is wrong with Jakarta? Perhaps both do not share the same line of history. Thailand has never been colonized by any foreign power, but Jakarta and Indonesia have never been really independent. Perhaps the difference stance in each independence has born different mentality. My first queston seems to be difficult to answer. It may be better to jump into the second one: What should we do? Let’s spend some time to think it over and do something for Jakarta. [End]**

Millions of miles away between Jakarta and Bangkok (6)
Millions of miles away between Jakarta and Bangkok (5)
Millions of miles away between Jakarta and Bangkok (4)
Millions of miles away between Jakarta and Bangkok (3)
Millions of miles away between Jakarta and Bangkok (2)
Millions of miles away between Jakarta and Bangkok (1)


08 March 2007

Kekuatan Civil Society

Berjuta Jarak antara Jakarta — Bangkok (7)

Pengakuan hak komunitas miskin atas kota yang semakin luas terjadi di Bangkok, tidak serta merta terwujud karena kebaikan atau kepedulian pemerintahnya. Pengakuan itu sedikit demi sedikit terjadi karena desakan dan perjuangan panjang komunitas-komunitas miskin yang mengorganisir diri, membangun jaringan dan mendapat dukungan luas dari NGO, akademisi dan kelompok profesi.

Nyaris tak ada jarak yang memisahkan antara komunitas miskin dengan kelas menengah yang ada di sana. Bukan hanya NGO yang mengorganisir komunitas miskin tetapi juga para akademisinya. Dosen dan profesor di sana tidak canggung berdiskusi dan bergaul dengan warga komunitas miskin. Sedikitnya 10% akademisi di sana terlibat dalam mendukung perjuangan komunitas miskin dalam memperoleh haknya. Seorang profesor dan dosen dari Universitas Tamasad yang saya temui, terlibat aktif dalam pengorganisasian 13 komunitas miskin. Seorang dosen lain dari universitas Silapakorn terlibat membantu komunitas Mahakan Fort yang sedang terancam digusur oleh komersialisasi lahan dan bangunan tua. Akademisi, NGO, kelompok profesi – seperti pengacara, arsitek, dll, bersama dengan komunitas miskin berjuang untuk mendesakkan pengakuan hak masyarakat miskin. Koalisi akademisi, progesi, NGO dan komunitas miskin ini sekaligus menjadi kekuatan pengontrol bagi arah pengembangan kota.

Kunjungan pada tiga komunitas yang terancam tergusur, yaitu komunitas ”Wang Lee”, ”Kratum Diew”, dan ”Mahakan Fort”, semakin menguatkan penilaian saya tentang betapa berdayanya civil society di Bangkok. Ketika komunitas Wang Lee yang terletak di Charoen Krung soi 52, sebuah gang (soi) dekat jembatan Saphan Taksin, terancam tergusur, perlawanan datang dari berbagai kalangan. Dari NGO, kelompok profesi (arsitek, jurnalis dan pengacara), akademisi (antropolog, sosiolog, budayawan dan sejarawan) dan organisasi komunitas miskin dari empat region di Bangkok. Komunitas kecil yang hanya beranggotakan 70 KK itu mendapat dukungan luas dari kelas menengah di Bangkok. Kepedulian atas kelangsungan hidup sebuah komunitas kecil dan dukungan luas dari kelas menengah mampu membuat isu penggusuran sebuah komunitas kecil di sebuah gang berkembang menjadi isu besar: penggusuran atas situs kebudayaan nasional. Mengapa? Sebab bangunan rumah tinggal komunitas itu dibangun oleh arsitek Perancis di awal abad 20. Gang yang menjadi habitat komunitas kecil itu juga adalah bagian dari sejarah perdagangan maritim dan industri transportasi di Bangkok. Gang itu juga tak bisa dipisahkan dari monumen berbentuk kapal pada vihara yang terletak bersebelahan dengan gang yang akan tergusur itu. Di gang itu pula dulu tinggal imigran pertama dari Cina. Isu penggusuran situs kebudayaan nasional itu diangkat di berbagai forum, termasuk forum diskusi di Universitas Thammasat. Ketika pihak penggusur hendak membongkar paksa bangunan tua yang dihuni komunitas Wang Lee itu, massa dari berbagai kalangan datang menghadang.

Hal senada terjadi pada komunitas Kratum Diew dan Mahakan Fort. Pada dua kasus ini, NGO, akademisi, profesi dan komunitas miskin bergandeng tangan melawan penggusuran. Kelompok profesi mendukung dengan alternatif rancang desain untuk merombak dan meremajakan komunitas miskin itu. Akademisi membangun argumen dari sisi sosial, ekonomi, budaya dan sejarah, serta bergabung bersama NGO dalam mengorganisir komunitas miskin. Bersama komunitas miskin mereka melakukan dialog dan negosiasi dengan pemerintah atau pemilik tanah. Pendek kata, berbagai cara ditempuh untuk mencari solusi dan menggagalkan penggusuran.

Sulit dibayangkan bahwa di Jakarta ini akademisi bisa bekerjasama, bergaul dan tak segan turun ke jalan bersama dengan warga komunitas miskin. Jangankan terhadap persoalan komunitas miskin, terhadap persoalan kota yang menyangkut kepentingan publik, seperti kemacetan, kesemrawutan, pemagaran taman, penyelewengan tata ruang, komersialisasi lahan dan ruang, tak banyak akademisi dan kelompok profesi yang bersuara, apalagi membangun koalisi untuk perlawanan. Civil society di Jakarta ini demikian lemahnya, hingga bisa dipahami kalau Jakarta bisa menjadi seperti sekarang. Pengembangan kota Jakarta ini sepenuhnya berada di tangan penguasa (politik dan pemilik modal). Sebab warganya terfragmentasi, mudah diperdaya karena memang tak berdaya.

Lemahnya civil society di Jakarta, selain karena minimnya kesadaran dan kepedulian akan hidup bersama sebagai komunitas kota, sistem politik dan pemerintahannya juga membuat masyarakat warga tak berdaya dan terfragmentasi dalam kelas-kelas sosial yang demikian berjarak satu dengan lainnya. Hal sebaliknya terjadi di Bangkok. Sistem politik dan pemerintahan Bangkok lebih memberi peluang dan bahkan mendorong warganya untuk mengorganisir diri. Ini setidaknya tampak dari adanya kebijakan untuk memberi fasilitas dana dukungan untuk pengembangan organisasi komunitas. Komunitas miskin yang telah mengorganisir diri, mendaftarkan komunitasnya pada pihak pemerintah Bangkok, dan memperoleh status sebagai komunitas yang formal, akan mendapat fasilitas dalam bentuk dana bantuan bagi pengembangan komunitas. Selain itu dari program Baan Mankong kita bisa lihat adanya peluang bagi komunitas miskin, akademisi, kelompok profesi dan pemerintah lokal untuk bertemu dan bersama-sama menyelesaikan masalah. Para politisinya pun tidak bisa dengan mudah mengobral janji dan menjadikan kaum miskin hanya sebagai alat untuk meraih suara. Sebab para politisi di sana terikat dengan komunitas. Mereka punya basis dan mengenal konstituennya, di samping konstituennya itu sendiri juga kritis dan tidak mudah dibodohi. Pada akhirnya kontrol terhadap pemerintah dan para politisinya berjalan karena civil society-nya memang berdaya. Kontrol ini pula yang sebenarnya menjatuhkan perdana menteri Taksin. Dari kaki lima, sopir taksi sampai akademisi menghendaki Taksin lengser karena korup. Padahal konon khabarnya Taksin populer di kalangan komunitas miskin.

Setelah melihat Bangkok dari sisi kota dan kaum miskinnya, mengalir di benak ini sebuah pertanyaan: mengapa Bangkok bisa seperti itu, sementara Jakarta tidak. Padahal Bangkok pernah belajar dari Jakarta. Bangkok juga pernah punya masalah kemacetan yang sama parahnya seperti Jakarta, namun dengan mengembangkan angkutan massal (skytrain) kemacetan di Bangkok mulai berkurang. Sementara begitu banyak masalah di Jakarta yang belum bisa diatasi: mulai dari kemacetan, kesemrawutan, banjir, polusi, kemiskinan, kerusuhan, sampai penggusuran. Sebagai kota metropolitan, masalah Jakarta rasanya bukannya semakin berkurang tapi malah bertambah. Padahal pada titik waktu tertentu Jakarta dan Bangkok punya masalah yang sama. Hebatnya, Bangkok bisa mengurai tali masalahnya, sementara Jakarta semakin terbelit masalah.

Apa yang salah dengan Jakarta? Barangkali perbedaan sejarah yang membuat jarak Jakarta – Bangkok sedemikian jauhnya. Bangkok tak pernah jadi negeri jajahan, sementara Indonesia belum pernah jadi bangsa yang sungguh-sungguh merdeka. Barangkali masalah kemerdekaan inilah yang melahirkan perbedaan mentalitas kedua bangsa. Barangkali. Pertanyaan pertama agaknya sulit dijawab. Mungkin kita harus beralih pada pertanyaan kedua: Apa yang masih bisa kita lakukan? Mari kita berpikir dan berbuat sesuatu untuk Jakarta. ***

Caption: Komunitas Wang Lee berada di sekitar kawasan business yang sibuk di kota Bangkok.

Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (7) Kekuatan Civil Society
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (6) — Penggusuran Jadi Masa Lalu
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (5) — Program Baan Mankong
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (4) Kali dan Kaum Miskin
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (3) Kaum Miskin sebagai Aktor
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (2) — City of Everything
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (1)

See the English version of this post.


07 March 2007

Penggusuran Menjadi Masa Lalu

Berjuta Jarak antara Jakarta — Bangkok (6)

BERBEDA dengan Bangkok, Jakarta tak punya alternatif lain dalam menyelesaikan masalah kekumuhan selain penggusuran. Padahal di tahun 1960-an, Jakarta sudah mengembangkan program sejenis Baan Mankong, yaitu KIP (kampung improvement program). Program ini pernah populer di dunia internasional. Bahkan Somsook Boonyabancha, direktur CODI – lembaga pemerintah yang menangani program Baan Mankong, mengakui bahwa program Baan Mankong yang dikembangkan pemerintah Thai sebenarnya adalah hasil belajar dari program KIP yang pernah dijalankan pemerintah Jakarta. Sayangnya, di Jakarta sendiri program KIP telah menjadi masa lalu.

Hal sebaliknya terjadi di Bangkok. Bagi pemerintah Bangkok, penggusuran-lah yang menjadi masa lalu. Sebab penggusuran di Bangkok lebih banyak terjadi dalam kurun waktu 1960-1970, ketika peremajaan kota lebih dimaknai sebagai pembongkaran rumah-rumah tua dan pembangunan gedung-gedung bertingkat. Dalam kurun waktu ini penggusuran menjadi satu-satunya solusi bagi masalah pemukiman kumuh di kota. Pada akhir tahun 1970-an program peremajaan komunitas mulai dikenal di Bangkok dan tahun 1973 pemerintah Thai menjadikan penanganan masalah perumahan sebagai agenda nasional dengan membentuk National Housing Authority (NHA). Baru pada tahun 1977 pemerintah Thai untuk pertama kalinya menerapkan program peremajaan komunitas.

Perbandingan Jakarta - Bangkok dalam kebijakan terhadap kaum miskin kota

Klik bagan di bawah ini untuk memperbesarnya.

Meski pemerintah Bangkok sedapat mungkin menghindari penggusuran, namun gelombang komersialisasi lahan membuat Bangkok belum sepenuhnya dapat membebaskan diri dari masalah penggusuran. Coba bayangkan, harga sewa lahan untuk komunitas rata-rata hanya 20 Baht per meter per tahun. Sementara kalau lahan yang sama disewakan untuk kepentingan komersial harganya berlipat menjadi 375 Baht per meter per tahun. Meskipun Bangkok belum sepenuhnya dapat melepaskan dari penggusuran, namun ada perbedaan mencolok antara Jakarta dan Bangkok dalam menjalankan penggusuran. Misalnya saja dalam hal ganti rugi atau kompensasi, pengakuan dari pemimpin komunitas miskin yang menjadi korban penggusuran, aktivis NGO dan akademisi yang saya jumpai di sana menyebutkan, ada standar yang menetapkan ganti rugi penggusuran sebesar 10.000 Baht (300 USD) per rumah. Bahkan biasanya sebelum melakukan penggusuran, pihak penggusur terlebih dahulu menyediakan lahan pengganti. Penggusuran dengan tujuan untuk pembangunan infrastruktur, ganti ruginya bisa mencapai 10.000 USD. Besarnya ganti rugi ini menurut mereka tergantung dari lamanya negosiasi. Kalau pihak penggusur menginginkan warga segera meninggalkan lahan yang mereka tempati, maka pihak penggusur akan membayar tinggi kompensasi. Sebaliknya, bila pihak penggusur tidak bersedia membayar tinggi, maka warga pun akan tetap bertahan. Tentang detil perbedaan pelaksanaan penggusuran antara Jakarta – Bangkok, bisa kita baca dari tabel berikut.*

Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (7) Kekuatan Civil Society
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (5) — Program Baan Mankong
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (4) Kali dan Kaum Miskin
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (3) Kaum Miskin sebagai Aktor
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (2) — City of Everything
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (1)

Baca versi Inggrisnya.


Program Baan Mankong

Berjuta Jarak antara Jakarta — Bangkok (5)

JANUARI 2003 pemerintah Thai mencanangkan kebijakan untuk mengatasi masalah perumahan bagi kaum miskin kota dengan menyediakan perumahan yang aman bagi sejuta keluarga miskin dalam kurun waktu lima tahun. Target ini ditempuh melalui dua program, yaitu: (1) the Baan Ua Arthron Program (program ”kami peduli Thai”), di mana Komisi Nasional untuk Perumahan (National Housing Authority) mendisain, merancang dan menjual rumah dan rumah susun bersubsidi bagi rumahtangga miskin dengan sistem angsuran sebesar 1.000 – 1.500 Baht (25 – 37 USD) per bulan.

Program ini mirip program perumnas dan rumah susun yang dijalankan pemerintah Indonesia; (2) Baan Mankong Program (”program rumah aman”), yaitu program penyaluran dana pemerintah dalam bentuk subsidi untuk pembangunan infrastruktur dan pinjaman lunak untuk pembangunan rumah bagi komunitas miskin. Dengan program ini, komunitas miskin mengelola secara bersama subsidi dan pinjaman lunak dari pemerintah untuk merancang dan melaksanakan sendiri perbaikan rumah, lingkungan fisik dan fasilitas dasar bagi komunitas mereka. Dengan program ini bukan lagi pemerintah Thai yang membangun rumah atau rumah susun untuk kemudian dijual atau disewakan pada rumahtangga miskin secara individual. Pemerintah menyerahkan pembangunan rumah-rumah tersebut pada komunitas miskin dan jaringannya. Dalam program ini pemerintah menempatkan komunitas miskin dan jaringan mereka sebagai aktor penting bagi proses pembangunan jangka panjang. Dengan cara ini pula pemerintah Thai tengah menjawab masalah tanah dan perumahan di kota secara lebih komprehensif, sustainable dan berbiaya relatif murah.

Dengan program Baan Mankong, pemerintah Thai hendak merombak cara berpikir konvensional dalam melihat dan mengatasi persoalan kota dan kemiskinan. Kaum miskin bukan lagi obyek melainkan subyek pembangunan. Sudut pandang ini tercermin dari berbagai peluang yang dimungkinkan dalam program tersebut. Pertama, Baan Mankong menjadikan kaum miskin kota sebagai pemilik proses peremajaan perumahan nasional. Program tersebut memungkinkan komunitas miskin melihat sendiri masalah perumahan beserta lingkungannya. Dengan dukungan subsidi dan pinjaman lunak dari pemerintah, mereka kemudian merancang sendiri rencana untuk mengatasi masalah tersebut secara bersama. Jadi dengan program ini, pemerintah hanya memfasilitasi sejumlah dana – dalam bentuk subsidi dan pinjaman lunak, sementara pelaksanaan pembangunan dan pengelolaan dananya diserahkan sepenuhnya pada komunitas miskin itu sendiri dan jaringannya.

Kedua, Baan Mankong menjadikan perbaikan fisik rumah dan lingkungan komunitas miskin sebagai langkah awal dari proses pembangunan komunitas yang lebih luas dan komprehensif. Dengan program ini, perbaikan rumah dan lingkungan fisiknya dijadikan sebagai pintu masuk bagi proses peningkatan kemampuan masyarakat miskin untuk mengelola secara kolektif kebutuhan mereka sendiri, seperti rumah, finansial, kredit, lingkungan, penciptaan pendapatan dan peningkatan kesejahteraan. Terbukti bahwa peremajaan pemukiman dan lingkungan fisik mampu menggerakkan masyarakat untuk melihat masalah yang mereka hadapi secara bersama karena peremajaan itu sendiri melibatkan dan menyentuh kehidupan setiap individu yang ada dalam komunitas, bukan hanya para pemimpinnya.

Ketiga, Baan Mankong menempatkan issu perumahan bagi komunitas miskin kota sebagai persoalan struktural yang hanya dapat diatasi melalui kemitraan berbagai pihak yang terkait dengan persoalan kota. Dengan menciptakan ruang bagi komunitas miskin, pemerintah/politisi lokal, profesional dan NGO untuk secara bersama melihat seluruh persoalan perumahan di kota, Baan Mankong menciptakan perubahan dalam mengatasi persoalan perumahan bagi kaum miskin. Solusi atas masalah perumahan bagi kaum miskin tidak lagi dilihat sebagai masalah karitatif atau hal memalukan yang pantas disembunyikan di bawah karpet.. Masalah rumah bagi kaum miskin ditempatkan sebagai masalah struktural yang dapat dipecahkan dan yang terkait dengan perkembangan kota secara keseluruhan.

Keempat, Baan Mankong menciptakan ruang bagi komunitas miskin untuk membangkitkan kembali partisipasi warga dalam pengembangan kota yang selama ini telah lumpuh dilindas liberalisasi ekonomi. Ketika komunitas miskin membaharui dirinya sendiri dan kerja mereka diakui oleh seluruh stakeholder kota, peremajaan itu menjadi sebuah proses yang melegitimasi status mereka sebagai bagian penting dari kota dan sekaligus membuktikan kapabilitas komunitas miskin sebagai partner stakeholder kota lainnya dalam mengelola masalah serius yang mempengaruhi kota secara keseluruhan: bukan hanya perumahan tetapi juga lingkungan, air, sampah dan kesejahteraan sosial. Selama ini liberalisasi ekonomi dan sistem pemerintahan yang top down mereka anggap telah membungkam suara warga sedemikian rupa sehingga untuk berbicara tentang lingkungannya sendiri mereka tak punya hak. Kini, Baan Mankong yang menggunakan pendekatan bottom up menjadi jalan alternatif untuk membangkitkan kembali partisipasi warga dalam pengembangan kota.*

Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (7) Kekuatan Civil Society
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (6) — Penggusuran Jadi Masa Lalu
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (4) Kali dan Kaum Miskin
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (3) Kaum Miskin sebagai Aktor
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (2) — City of Everything
Berjuta Jarak Jakarta-Bangkok (1)

Baca versi Inggrisnya.


Kembalikan Dokumenku!

MENJEJAKKAN kaki di Taiwan tinggal angan-angan kosong bagi Fernawati. Gadis berusia 21 tahun itu gagal bekerja di negeri yang banyak memiliki pabrik itu. Terlantar tanpa teman di Malang, Jawa Timur. Tak ada kepastian. Sementara dokumen pentingnya dirampas. Mungkin tawaran menjadi pekerja rumah tangga saat itu adalah satu-satunya gantungan agar ia bisa selamat.

Kalau diingat-ingat, Fernawati pernah didatangi seseorang bernama J. Budi Santoso di bengkel milik orang tua gadis itu tanggal 24 Februari 2006. Lelaki itu seorang sarjana yang bekerja sebagai PNS. Ia menawari pekerjaan di Taiwan kepada Fernawati dengan sebuah selebaran.

Selang lima hari kemudian lelaki itu datang ke rumahnya. Sore itu ia memastikan kesediaan Fernawati untuk berangkat. Sore itu pula ia pergi lagi. Rupanya malamnya ia menjemput gadis itu. Sebelum berangkat seluruh dokumen penting milik Fernawati diminta. Gadis itu menyerahkan ijasah SMU, kartu keluarga dan surat ijin dari kepala desa. Dengan sebuah mobil Budi membawa gadis itu dari rumahnya di Jl Ki Hajar Dewantoro 42 Sempolan, Silo, Jember.

Ternyata bukan hanya Fernawati seorang yang dibawa. Mobil itu juga menjemput seorang calon TKI dari kecamatan Mumbulsari di rumah Ibu Intan di desa Suren. Mereka masih harus menjemput seorang calon TKI lain di kecamatan Panti.

Tengah malam baru mereka melanjutkan perjalanan. Mereka harus menenpuh jarak kira-kira 120 kilometer untuk mencapai kota Malang. Dini hari tanggal 30 Februari sampailah mereka di Jl Teluk Etna gang VII 96 Malang. Di situlah penampungan cabang PT Prayogo Prajogo berada. Budi meninggalkan Fernawati di sana. Ia berjanji minggu depan akan datang.

Seminggu lamanya gadis itu menunggu sendirian di tempat yang asing. Nyatanya, Budi tak kunjung datang. Ia menelpon lelaki itu. Calo itu bilang, ia batal ke Malang karena temannya sakit di tengah jalan. Ia berjanji akan menelpon Yuni, pemilik tempat penampungan itu dan meminta segera memberangkatkannya.

Apa yang terjadi? Yuni malah mengatakan Fernawati hanya bisa diberangkatkan ke Taiwan jika ia membayar Rp5 juta. Jumlah uang itu kira-kira sepadan dengan nilai seekor sapi dewasa. Gadis itu menolak. Yuni menawarinya bekerja ke Malaysia. Gadis itu tetap menolak. Yuni menjadi tak mau mengurus keberangkatan Fernawati. Ia lemparkan tanggung jawab itu kepada Budi.

Berkali-kali bahkan berhari-hari Fernawati menghubungi Budi dengan telpon. Sekali pun tak pernah diangkat. Ia terlantar di penampungan itu. Dipekerjakan sebagai tukang cuci, masak sekaligus bersih-bersih tanpa bayaran. Ia hanya memperoleh makan sehari dua kali.

Sampai pada akhir Maret 2006, tanpa sengaja seorang pengunjung tempat penampungan itu memberitahukan sesuatu kepadanya. Menurutnya tempat penampungan itu sebentar lagi akan ditutup. Lalu ia membantu Fernawati melarikan diri dari penampungan dan memberinya pekerjaan sebagai pekerja rumah tangga di rumahnya selama tujuh bulan.

Itulah akhir dari harapan Fernawati untuk bisa bekerja di Taiwan. Sampai saat ini, seluruh dokumen Fernawati tak juga dikembalikan, meskipun ia menghubungi Budi dan mendatangi tempat penampungan tersebut.**

Investigasi dikerjakan oleh Muhammad Cholili dari Gerakan Buruh Migran Indonesia di kabupaten Jember, Jawa Timur. Ditulis ulang oleh Sri Maryanti.


05 March 2007

Eviction 'policy' left in the past

Millions of miles away between Jakarta and Bangkok (6)

DIFFERENT from Bangkok, Jakarta has no alternative in solving the problem of slum areas but simply evicting them away. In fact, in the 1960s Jakarta had developed a kind of program similar to Baan Mankong, i.e. the Kampung Improvement Program (KIP). This program was once very popular worldwide. Even Somsook Boonyabancha, the director of CODI, the government’s body running the Baan Mankong program, admits that the program is actually a lesson learned from the practice conducted by the Jakarta administration. Ironically Jakarta has left it in the past.

The contrary takes place in Bangkok, instead. For Bangkok administration, eviction ‘policy’ has been left behind. Evictions mostly took place during 1960s-1970s, when the city renovation was more understood as destroying old houses replaced by sky-scrappers constructions. At the period eviction was the only solution against slum areas. At the end of 1970s the community renovation programs were introduced in Bangkok and in 1973 the Thai government made the housing problem tackling as a national agenda with the setting up of the National Housing Authority (NHA). Only in 1977 Thai government for the first time applied the community renovation program.

However, although Bangkok takes the policy of resoting to eviction as the last option, land commercialization waves have made Bangkok unable to fully avoid evictions. You can imagine that land rent prices for the communities cost the yearly average of 20 Baht (±0.6$US) a meter square. In fact, if the same plot of land be rented for commercial purposes the price increases 18 times upto 375 Baht (±11.27$US) per sq meter yearly. Even though, there is still a clear difference between Jakarta and Bangkok when each takes the eviction options. For instance in compensating the damages, community leaders, NGO activists, and academicians admit there is a clear standard of 10,000 Baht (±300$US) each living place.

The difference between Jakarta and Bangkok
in their policy on dealing with slum areas:
Click the table to see it bigger.

Even before last minute of taking decision to evict slum areas, the executors provide the compensated land in advance. Eviction that aims at providing space of public infrastructural constructions, the financial compensation may reach about $US 10,000. The amount of the compensation depends on the length of the negotiation. If the eviction executors want that the identified people leave the areas, the executors will pay higher sum of money. On the contrary, if the evictors do not agree with paying higher price, they will agree the people to stay longer. See my table above explaining the comparison between both cities.*

Photo caption: A public meeting at Kratum Diew community in Bangkok, January 2007

See previous stories:
Millions of miles away between Jakarta and Bangkok (5)
Millions of miles away between Jakarta and Bangkok (4)
Millions of miles away between Jakarta and Bangkok (3)
Millions of miles away between Jakarta and Bangkok (2)
Millions of miles away between Jakarta and Bangkok (1)

Read the Indonesian version.


If so what are police’s real jobs?

Where are you, Halima? (2)

THAT night Heri was not at home. The morning after therefore he reached Heri again and thanks God he finally found Heri. This migrant workers broker suggested Sholihin to go to the agency of PT Syafika Jaya Utama, instead of directly helping him, to meet Mamad, the man whom he said had arranged the departure of Halima to supposedly Malaysia.

However, Sholihin’s effort to ask about Halima at that agency’s office did not offer him any clue. Mamad did not appear himself. Sholihin could only meet a staff member of the agency. He then went back to Heri’s house.

And again Heri asked him to go to find Mamad. This time Heri suggested him to go to Heri’s house, while informing Sholihin the address. However, he failed to find Mamad. He met only Mamad’s wife who then only said: “Mamad goes to Jakarta.”

Sholihin thereby referred back to Heri, but the latter seemed to disappear. Sholihin only met Heri’s wife, who gave him the bank saving account. The woman said his husband had gone to see his second wife.

Sholihin kept trying to meet Heri. Sholihin tried six times to find Heri to pressurze him to get information about his sister Halima, but no result at all. When Sholihin met Heri for the last time accompanied by local village official and a student activist, Heri even mentioned something astonishing, saying that he had forgotten to have recruited Halima as migrant worker, kept her in his house and also arranged her departure. So easy an answer and no sense of responsibility at all.

This painful answer had pushed Sholihin to file formal report to local police about missing person. He was accompanied by local migrant workers union’s activists. All of his efforts have so far only resulted in nothing but grief and nuisance. The police officer he met rejected his report arrogantly. Police said his report was not followed up because there were not enough evidences for claim that Heri indeed had recruited Halima.

It is indeed bad experience that he and his family have to shoulder. He lost his sister. And his family lost their daughter.

In order that his report of missing sister be followed up properly, has he to find that evidence in advance? If so what are the police’s real jobs?**

Previous story:
Where are you, Halima? (1) – Missing sister. Missing daughter.

See Indonesian version.