Indonesia Through My Eyes: Introduction

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I’m officially a transplant in Indonesia now. I can’t believe it’s been a month. It’s the longest I’ve ever been in this country. Sometimes I catch myself daydreaming and realize that I’m not in LA anymore. It’s not everyday you uproot your life to move to another country to follow your passion. So, I’ve decided to create a series to document my journey in my parents’ homeland. Not only will it serve as a way for me to record my adventures, but I hope friends and readers will get to see Indonesia through my lens.

Setting foot 

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I broke my finger before I left LA in a basketball tournament. My parents were concerned for my well-being, as they should be, but I was insistent upon leaving as soon as possible. Being a very driven individual, I didn’t want my injury to stop me. However, it was only when I got on the plane to Korea that I realize it was going to be rather difficult having my hand in a cast. Lifting my bag into the overhead compartment, acting quickly to disrobe for the TSA , etc. posed some challenges. I just sucked it up throughout the trip.

I reached Jakarta passed midnight. I went through immigration with no problem. It was here where I found my injury to be a great icebreaker as the immigration officer was intrigued by it and we talked about it while he processed my entry. My cousin and nephew picked me up and the Jakarta I remembered came back to me: hot, humid and polluted.

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Despite the notorious reputation of unhygienic conditions at street food stands and warungs (mom & pop shops), I ignored my family’s warnings. We got some late night food on the way to my aunt’s house. My cousin drove us to get bubur ayam (chicken porridge) at Bubur Ayam Sukabumi.  After all, I’m a firm believer in supporting local businesses as well as food from these establishments represents the real Indonesian cuisine. The stomach aches and possibility of contracting food poisoning are worth the gamble.

While we exchanged words with each other and caught up with events since my last trip to Indonesia 4 years ago, I witnessed the Jakarta that some people talked about: privileged folks bossing around employees at the warung like second class citizens. I felt very uneasy sitting across from them. I could empathize with the workers because before I came to Indonesia, I worked at a cafe as a busboy and would never want to be given such treatment. It was late, so there’s a possibility, too, alcohol and other libations may have been a factor.

The next day I woke up to my aunt’s perfect breakfast – tofu, tempe, veggies, eggs and rice. Seriously, simple Indonesian food like this is what I appreciate and dreamed of when I first embarked on my journey.

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My aunt is the widow of my dad’s oldest brother. She is deaf but what she lacks in hearing is made up with her big heart. No matter how far apart we were and how long time has separated us, she never showed me any less love.

My family is still somewhat traditional. So, during my first few days, I practiced a traditional Indonesian custom of sowan, where I visit elder family members to let them know I am in their presence and ask for their blessings. It is a way for paying my respects being the youngest grandchild in my dad’s side of the family. It was during this time I realized Jakarta’s terrible condition. The infrastructure, poverty and cleanliness are worse than what I read in the news.

Initial Culture Shocks

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One of the reasons why I studied city planning was to help infrastructure issues in Indonesia. We talk about the pictures of children crossing treacherous bridges in outlying areas in Indonesia. Yet, we forget that even in the the capital city there are problems,too. I’m not saying the rural areas shouldn’t be helped as they do need support from the government asap. Though, how can we help those far away when issues within the immediate area where the country officials reside in aren’t addressed? Forget the smell, how can kids avoid falling into unstable or missing sidewalks that may have steel rebars and other dangerous construction hazards waiting underneath?  I’ve compiled my initial shocks which I’ve experienced, thus far, in my first several weeks and by no means is it a complete list.

Smoking & Trash

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These two are my biggest pet peeves. I have managed to contract asthma somehow in my early 20s. So most type of smoke aren’t good for my lungs. Because I love to support local coffee shops back home (check out Caffe Mediterraneum in Berkeley), my cousin and friends have introduced me to some spots in the neighborhood. Upon sitting at these establishments, the sight of people smoking indoor is such a distasteful sight. It makes me want to tell them to stop because of my condition. But smoking indoor is still allowed and telling them to stop can possibly offend them. Honestly I’m not sure what I can do to prevent my respiratory cells from deteriorating. While this is happening, I find it scarier that from several folks I met on the street that smoking ads are just scare tactics. In fact smoking does not kill according to them. One said that smoking may further hurt someone if they are already sick but the smoking itself is not bad. Being a non-smoker, I feel like I’m the one in the straitjacket.

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My heart breaks when I see people throw trash wherever they please. Indonesia is such a beautiful country with its abundant natural assets. The waste just contaminates this allure. Unfortunately, the infrastructure does not support it either, so attempting to change people’s behavior is a monumental task. There are folks who benefit from the this rubbish but it’s not like all of it will be picked up. Only the bottles and recyclable materials will be taken. As for plastic bags, ziplocs and wrappers, they will just lay among the sumptuous banana groves and already sad riverbanks. I was fortunate enough to walk in solidarity with the laborers of Java on May Day. While it was great to march with these folks to advocate for labor rights, my attention was slowly being distracted by the sound not of their cheers but their feet kicking bottles on the ground. It was amazing that after the walk, the streets were clean. Still, what if the cleaners or opportunists weren’t there? What happens then?

Water

Whenever I go out to eat back home, a majority of the time I just drink the water served at the table. I know it’s from the tap and maybe it’s not as clean as the bottled ones, but hey it tastes good to me. Plus, I find it more quenching and wallet-friendly than anything else (aside from coconut water). Arriving here, I realized that asking for water (aka Aqua for the brand by Danone) comes in a bottle. Only one time was I served water straight and that was at a restaurant I have come to like in Bintaro called Burgreens.

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I understand that water in general in Indonesian is not clean but I really wonder if the tap water is safe to drink? It’s just hard to believe that ordering tea or something else can be cheaper than water. It will take time to adjust but maybe I should look into it or ask the managers why they don’t serve water from the tap.

Conclusion

Jakarta isn’t like any other city I have ever lived in. Everywhere I have moved previously was still in California, so the culture was still the same. Thankfully, I moved during the presidential election, thus it will give me insight on that aspect of the culture. Transportation is a bit difficult since there isn’t really a place to look up for public transit information. It’s all by asking friends, family and those on the street. Maybe in the next post I’ll get into it more. I’m still trying to figure out how to best document my experience. We’ll see what adventures I share next.

Crowdfunding: Chasing my passion

Help me start my journey!

Help me start my journey!

 

I’m finally moving to Indonesia and currently seeking support for my relocation costs. My ongoing crowdfunding campaign started great, but I am still short of my goal. Although it’s been shared through my social media outlets, it’s possible some folks are not fully grasping my plan or need more info. So, I decided to make a blog post about my campaign and share briefly what crowdfunding is!

My cause, my story in short

Last January, I finished my research internship assisting a graduate student’s project on Indonesia. Now I am focusing on understanding and learning from underprivileged communities and kids in Indonesia about their daily struggles. As an International Development Studies major at Berkeley, I was exposed to concepts and strategies used to improve less-developed nations’ welfare like Indonesia’s. I also became interested in poverty in Jakarta and what kind of access people have to fresh produce and healthy foods in the slums. Naturally, I developed a drive to want to find ways to empower these people’s lives. Some people call it humanitarian work, I call it my passion.

Someday I want to collaborate with local Indonesian leaders and organizers in devising strategies to mitigate urban poverty and food access issues plaguing Jakarta and the country at-large.  I am inexperienced at the moment as a fresh college graduate, but I have the motivation. Understanding this, I need to collect skills and experience from the field to build upon my education. This way I’d have a strong foundation and confidence to approach any situation thrown at me.

Like all projects and endeavors, steps need to be taken to be effective. The first phase is to work in Indonesia. This way I can immerse myself in the community and meet the locals to gain insight on the current social-economic, political climate of the country. Next, I intend to use this knowledge to develop a research proposal for graduate school, where I hope to gain community development skills in addition to conducting my own research on Indonesia. Upon finishing graduate school, I plan to utilize the specialized knowledge on community development I’ve gained in dedicating my life in working in Indonesia, specifically on urban poverty and food access issues.

There isn’t a concrete career track for my field of study, so I have to blaze my own path. Road blocks will be inevitable. But I’m won’t be deterred, because I am not afraid to ask for help. With my friends, family and strangers’ support, I hope to be able to start step one of my plan and begin my journey.

My Luck

Despite my enthusiasm to just pack up and leave, money and luck have always been the issues.

  • In my last semester at Berkeley, I applied to a prestigious summer fellowship to Indonesia at the recommendation of many of my professors, but strangely it was cancelled due to a lack of applicants.
  • During my mentor-ship, I couldn’t secure any travel funding mostly because my applications weren’t selected or was unqualified. Few grants/fellowships are offered to recent graduates as many, if not all, are available to only undergraduates, graduate students and post-docs.
  • I tried to apply to jobs here in the US hoping to save money to go to Indonesia. I sent out close to a hundred job applications but heard very few back. The ones that did call back, I didn’t pass the interview rounds. At many times, I felt disappointed on getting rejected. Apparently, I wasn’t alone. A Reuters article I read said that “recent college graduates in the United States face a more challenging job market, causing them to remain unemployed or take lower paying jobs than their counterparts in the past two decades, an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has found.”

I stayed resilient. This time, I tried to find work in Indonesia hoping someone would hire a fresh grad from California interested in the non-profit, environmental, and public sectors. For two months, I was up around the clock sending out my resume and cover letters to companies, Linkedin connections and people in my network.

Again, I ran into roadblocks: “look at the job board” (which I already have), “sorry there isn’t anything open”, “we only hire Indonesian nationals only”, etc. But most of the time my emails met with silence, even after a few persistent follow ups. As for the few connections that actually responded, the contact person only wanted to talk to me when I am in Indonesia. Although my luck seemed to be finally shifting, money was still a problem.

Being optimistic for a potential opportunity to Indonesia, I took a cafe job as a night shift dishwasher to save up. I barely made 20 hours a week but I knew every dollar counts. Hoping to work there long enough to have a sizable travel fund, a prospective employer contacted me and would be interested in hiring me. By this time, I had only managed to save enough for a plane ticket. People who have gone to Indonesia know how expensive tickets can get, so when you add relocation fees (work permit, visa, living expenses, local travel expenses,etc.), it just becomes astronomical, especially for someone who has college loans to pay. My parents had enough things to worry to ask for their help. I also swore not to take out another loan until my student loans were repaid. I didn’t want to let this opportunity to pass so I thought I try out crowdfunding.

What is Crowdfunding?

For those unfamiliar with this concept, crowdfunding is a fundraising strategy that takes donation collecting to another level by not having to worry about capital investment. Traditional fundraisers like holding bake sales or car washes have a limitation. For those, you need money to make money. You can’t sell your baked goods or wash cars before buying the ingredients or washing materials. How do you buy these things when you don’t even have money for your cause?

The New York Times has found that plenty of people are often in this predicament, but there is a solution. They wrote, “Many of us have ideas… hatched while staring out the window or doodling on a cocktail napkin. And that’s where the dream ends, stunted by a lack of capital, credibility and confidence. Not anymore. Online crowdfunding is helping… big ideas become reality.”

I got exposed to Indiegogo, Kickstarter and GoFundMe as a member of the Berkeley Phi Beta Lambda National Business Organization. Crowdfunding was introduced to me during an entrepreneurial workshop as a potential method to assist a burgeoning enterprise get off the ground to develop their products and business model before seeking larger monetary backing. Back then, It never crossed my mind that crowdfunding can be utilized for personal causes.

Recently, though, thousands of people have started to use crowdfunding platforms to gain support for personal endeavors: medical treatment, educational opportunities, funeral expenses, etc. Even researchers are using it to help get their projects off the ground. Seeing how crowdfunding has been able to change many people’s lives, I took my cause to GoFundMe hoping people would support me.

College Grad Unemployment in America

US News has said, “The number of college graduates working minimum wage jobs is nearly 71 percent higher than it was a decade ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest figures.” Additionally, the New York Daily News mentioned, “More than 40 percent of recent U.S. college graduates are underemployed or need more training to get on a career track…”

The situation is real. Like many of my peers, I have fallen into all of the categories: underemployed, unemployed and needing more training or “experience” to get on my career track. If you don’t know what underemployed means, it is basically when you work at a job you are overqualified. I was overqualified when I worked as a dishwasher/busboy at a cafe in Berkeley. You don’t need a Bachelor’s degree to work the back of a cafe. That’s the reality of the current job market, and I’m not alone.

Although I served as an assistant for a grad student, I was basically unemployed as I had no income coming in prior to working at the cafe. My mom helped me out through this time as the small savings I had from my financial aid in my final semester of college dried up. Before I got the job at the cafe, I couldn’t apply for even a waiting or barista position because most required prior experience, which I didn’t have. I was shocked at this.

This “Catch 22” is an unfortunate phenomenon current job seekers fall victim in today’s job market. Most of the job postings I have encountered, including entry-level positions, seek candidates to have a certain amount of work experience to qualify. How can someone get work experience without a job? An internship is an example for a person to get that experience in their field. But, very few internships are paid, and I know the non-profit, public sector ones are mostly unpaid. If someone has loan payments, they may opt in applying for a service job instead. If they are lucky, they can get both an internship and a low wage job. For those that aren’t, they may end up part of the rising number of individuals defaulting on their loans and the staggering statistics found in the articles I shared above.

Not long ago, acquiring a Bachelor’s degree was still the key for individuals to achieve a prospective life.  Unfortunately, today, being college educated is the norm and you can’t rely just on your degree to get hired. But what is even frightening, folks with Master’s and PhD degrees can suffer, too. NPR wrote, “The number of people with graduate degrees — master’s degrees and doctorates — who have had to apply for food stamps, unemployment or other assistance more than tripled between 2007 and 2010, according to a report in The Chronicle of Higher Education.” The fact of the matter is, following this recession, employment in America for recent grads is harder than ever, no matter where you went to school.

Having been bred by UC Berkeley, where innovation and entrepreneurship are hot topics among my peers, I’m not ready to completely let my career path be determined by forces I can’t control. I was taught  to be resourceful and think outside the box. Adversity should also never get the better of me. I see crowdfunding as an opportunity to reach my goal, so I took advantage of it hoping it will be the boost I need.

So, if anyone who has read this post and has been moved in some way to help me, please check out my page and donate if you can. Even the smallest of donations go a long way.

 

Turbulent times: Anxiety about Indonesia

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Its been more than 2 weeks since my last post. I’ve been overwhelmed by my job hunt in Indonesia so there hasn’t been any stimulation to write despite collecting compelling articles and pictures to post. My title suggests that I am anxious to move to Indonesia as someone like me who has lived in America may have developed such emotions. But, that is not what I am trying to convey. Instead the anxiety that is occupying within me is the result of the uncertainty if my career will continue in Indonesia as planned.

Since January, my guess is that I emailed more than 20 applications or cold emails to various organizations operating in Indonesia that address community development, poverty alleviation, governance reform and environmental justice. I cannot fathom how many messages I sent through Linkedin directed to people in various positions at organizations I am interested in like the UNDP, UN Habitat, Mercy Corps, etc. I even created a short video about myself for a non-profit in Bali. Unfortunately, my application was not considered. My only hope so far is an environmental consulting firm called Leafplus, an NGO called The Partnership and a research institution called Center for Innovation, Policy and Governance. My plan is to move to Indonesia by next month but it is still in the air as if one of these organizations accept me, I’m holding my breathe on the outcome of a working permit and a temporary residence visa as an expatriate. My expectations were never prepared for the visa situation because it never occurred to me that it would be a difficult process as many of my non-Indonesian researcher friends told me it was not.

The situation gets more complicated as I just started a job at the historic Caffe Mediterrenum in Berkeley busing tables, washing dishes and occasionally cook or work behind the register. So it will be difficult for me to give my notice to my boss who has been gracious enough to give me the opportunity despite a very short stint. It gets even more sticky as my membership at a new cooperative household, that I helped shape, will have to end after only living there for 6 months. Although my date for departure is not set, a member that will be leaving the house must give 30 days notice and find a replacement. Therefore, being in this limbo is a difficult one as I want to stay as much as I can but I need to be respectful of the bylaws we agreed upon. In the end, I have to choose what is best for me and leave my friends that I have learned to love as well as had the chance to exchange ideas on politics and social justice. For the moment, it looks like my plan is to move to LA to be with my family that I have missed until a call for Indonesia happens.

You may ask why am I so set upon Indonesia? As an (International) Development Studies major at UC Berkeley, I studied how power structures have been constructed to create the world we live in separating societies we have come to know as “developing” and “developed”. Gaining an education in this study, has given me a toolkit to critically deconstruct and find solutions to issues relating to “development” in the sense of spaces and places (ie: cities, states, countries, etc.). For example, I have learned that we should not use the terms “Developing” or “Developed” because it implies that spaces we call nations progress in a linear fashion and having an endpoint. I can go on about this in another post but for time sake it is suggested and better to use terms like “less-developed” and “more-developed” as these co-notate relativity. Again I will explain another time. So with that said, having this foundation, I find it less useful to implement it in the US as there is already a burgeoning civil society with plenty of knowledgeable folks who are passionate on the welfare of America. However, in Indonesia, despite an already existing community of folks working on the grassroots level in solving the country’s issues, it is a very very small one as this line of work is not as respected yet to the level it is in America. With that said, I believe my skills and experience would better serve working in solidarity with the people I share my heritage.

My goal in working in Indonesia, at least for the moment, is to gain one to two years of experience in the country to understand the social, political and economic climate. It is a dream for my parents and myself to be accepted to a competitive graduate program. My mom, a typical Asian parent, has always envisioned me since I was in preschool to obtain a Master’s degree. She has been so fixated upon the idea as I believe it stems from the idea that graduate degrees equals success. It equals “having made it” as in many working class families, education is the key for social mobility. It never dawned on me that I would be able to reach such an accomplishment until I was accepted to Berkeley. Ever since then, my goal was to make my mom proud as most children would like to do. Moreover, I believe that in order to shape a competitive application, having the opportunity to set foot in my field of study in my country of focus is key to getting a nod by the admissions officer.

I honestly don’t know any other Indonesian-American who is so invested upon going back to Indonesia to help the country. This is why it has became my focus night and day finding individuals who may have answers or advice to share. Those who go back are Indonesian citizens who may not be able to help because they do not share the experience as I do trying to find an opportunity in Indonesia as a foreigner. Also they are going back to work in the business, tech or engineering sectors which already has a path set up and I am not interested. For that reason, my current experience has made me understand why people don’t like going through the path with most resistance. Trailblazing is hard, after all there is none or at least very minimal infrastructure to help you. Therefore, I am relying on contacting and meeting folks in any shape or form who would be gracious enough in lending their knowledge and time in guiding me or share some advice. Honestly, I believe it is worth the struggle because I know I have a lot to offer to communities and folks in Indonesia, whether it be my time or my experience I can share as an equal to help improve their lives together.

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Lombok Fisherman

Al Jazeera: Indonesia relocates families to build resorts? (Link to Article)

So I decided to take my opinions to a more appropriate space in the interwebs, having understood that maybe Facebook isn’t really the best place to offer food for thought to my friends. With that said, hopefully my two cents are appreciated and will improve my writing skills to prepare me for grad school. I hope none of my comments offend anyone and allow a space for folks to engage in calm, direct critical discussions.

Summary

Al Jazeera recently featured an article discussing a phenomenon that started a few years ago in Indonesia where “100 islands have been effectively sold to investors… in bid to boost tourism.” In the article, the writer, focused on Gili Sunut Island located near the Eastern side of Lombok where 109 families used to live there but have been relocated as Ocean Blue Resorts, a Singaporean development firm, is planning to build a “six-star resort“. The families were against the idea of relocation but had no choice in the end.

The People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice in Indonesia (KIARA), a sea and land rights advocacy group, says many more islands will effectively be sold to foreign buyers, trampling the rights of fishermen and threatening traditional livelihoods.”

As compensation for the relocation, Ocean Blue Resorts has built new bungalows for the families in their new living site and given each household between 3 – 5M Rupiah or $246 to $411. The article also says that tourism is booming on the island of Lombok and that development “promises to bring new wealth to the region, but for many villagers the pace of change has been disruptive.” In addition, despite the benefits of jobs and roads, it’s apparently against the Indonesian Constitution as it is illegal to sell the islands. According to KIARA, the government has bypassed the Constitution with an “Island Adoption Programme” where the owners/investors manage the island for 30-50 years. Gufrin Udin, an official from the Lombok regional government has “downplayed” the complaints and believed that these projects will create job opportunities and the rise in tourism will improve the locals’ livelihood.

Response

There are many things that are wrong with the events described in the article but I will focus it into three ideas. Firstly, it is alarming that islands could be bought for a monetary value when there are folks living on it for hundreds of years or more for the sake of tourism demand and view it as a project of development. Second, the compensation for relocation is not enough because  money and housing is a shortsighted gesture not capable for sustaining life. Lastly, it is shocking that an “Island Adoption Programme” is used to dodge the Constitution, which is nostalgic to Freeport’s rental agreement with Indonesia for exclusive mining rights on West Papua’s copper and gold reserves.

The expression “out with the Old and in with the New” seems to epitomize the development rhetoric utilized since the mid-20th Century. This is very true in Indonesia as it is struggling to transition to become a “modern” country that is largely famed for its unique, rich and diverse traditional culture. With its beautiful environmental features, Indonesia offers a paradise-like atmosphere that people around the world would pay top dollars to experience it. As a result, it becomes a double-edged sword. It is, then, difficult for a country who has been recently labeled a “rising-economy” and member of the ever-prestigious G20 to compete to get ahead.Thus, Indonesia’s agricultural lands and forests have been one of the cornerstone for the development projects as found in Sumatra and Kalimantan. Now through the lens of tourism, islands are the next marketable space to engage in development projects.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying the beauty of a country’s natural and built assets; however, to reclaim land from people in order to convert them into a cash and leaving those residents out is problematic. This would be a different story if the locals were able to stay as they have a better chance to participate in the wealth creation than to be relocated. Just because the local government has the authority to move the people, it doesn’t mean it is right. Development is suppose to be benefited by all members of those impacted by it. However, the Jamaica would disagree as it has become dependent on foreign aid, despite a thriving tourist industry as seen in the documentary Life and Debt. Only the resort areas will see investment and areas outside will be neglected. The fact is that benefits of development are unequal as those investing or directly connected will receive them. In this case, the former residents will be left out when the resort will be finish and the environment that these people have acted as stewards of will also suffer.

Although compensation has been distributed by Ocean Blue Resorts, housing and some money for repayment is inadequate. Relocation has been done to many groups of people throughout history from the Native Americans to the Jews, which has and will still be unlawful. Frankly, how do you determine compensation to a group of people whose livelihood is majority depended from the land or water and not in sales? These are the same people who produce the very rituals and “culture” that Indonesians are proud to show off when they go abroad. Economic models cannot and WILL NOT quantify in monetary value the worth of practices found in traditional way of life, unless ticket sales for a culture show counts. The Lombok official, Gufrin, suggested that jobs and the tourism demand will increase their livelihood. Those jobs that he claims will appear are not guaranteed and without the proper education these folks cannot utilize the burgeoning market to become entrepreneurs if in fact tourism is booming. The article does not mention it but like any site offering labor with paid compensation will attract folks outside of the area, thus, possibly squeezing out the locals, or in West Papua’s case, migrant workers are brought in by the employer to fill the labor need. The issue of transportation is not addressed too and what if they can’t manage the daily commute? What will possibly happen is that as folks do not have skills or way to cover costs to adapt in their new “home”, poverty and the potential for crime will develop. If the government actually did their job, services and oversight would be organized with the influx of revenue so that folks can adjust to their new surroundings and have a chance to thrive instead of leaving these locals’ welfare at the hands to the market’s mercy. In the end, government officials are then the real beneficiaries of the so-called “new wealth” as they reap the tax revenues and/or kickbacks.

With respect to this new flow of capital, it seems that such an “Island Adoption Programme” is a crime as it not only jumps over the Indonesian Constitution but it also denies the rights of the people living on the land that is proposed to be bought. In city planning, I’ve learned that “imminent domain” is a useful tool utilized by planning and zoning commissions across the US to take land. However, such tactic is the last resort if residents are unwilling to sell or move after the vested parties have gone through the necessary steps in reappropriating the land which includes in compensating residents. In this situation, it does not say what the stakeholders have done to work with the locals. It only says that the residents have sought for many “consultations” but it was inevitable for the move. Such compensation is not enough because the value of the land will be worth far more than their payment and that is literally stealing from these people. It is basically what happened in West Papua when Soeharto gave the exclusive rights to Freeport to mine for gold and copper for 100 years denying the local people’s voice to object it. The communities on the mountain were relocated to a place where they have no knowledge of surviving as their way of life was tied to the mountain. Many if not all of them did not see a single drop of the ridiculous amount of wealth excavated from their mountain as migrants from other islands took the jobs with the company. Now this part of the country is ravaged by poverty and in constant uproar for justice as they know they were cheated out of their own land. This is what I predict would happen in many of the islands that have been bought up by “investors”.

Today’s society values money, consumerism and innovation as the defining tenets of culture. It is frightening that the livelihood of some are worth more than others in order to accomplish these items. With every island bought, more cultures and traditions are lost as the attachment these folks have to the land and water are severed. To add insult to injuries, these officials’ claims for “new wealth” and jobs are just empty promises. They are unsupported until the benefits of the projects do reach the locals. One factor for China’s quick jolt in economic growth was largely in part to it’s government’s brilliant negotiation victory for technical training is mandatory by the companies for its workers. Many of these individuals were able to use their knowledge to get a formal education and become successful. If the government want to save some headache and potential public relations nightmare, they can do their due diligence and provide social services for the folks they have displaced or negotiate a clause with the new anchor tenants of the islands in guaranteeing jobs or some social mobility opportunity for the people. If not, the infamous mid-20th Century public housing project in St Louis called Pruitt-Igoe is clear cut example of what happens when low-income folks are given housing but do not have access to services to increase their mobility and prevent the cycle of poverty, which can happen to these folks. Indonesia wants to be like its Global North peers but it shouldn’t have to sacrifice its traditional ways and people’s welfare to be  modern or global. With that respect, if these investors are really investing instead of buying the land, why can’t the people stay on land that is still public?