Friday, June 13, 2014

Opinion Piece

My office registered the staff to join a writing workshop by the Jakarta Post. The trainers are from various background and the workshop's sessions range from writing opinion pieces to using power writing tools. This workshop made me itchy to dig my writing passion. I looked at this blog shamefully since it's been neglected for quite some time.

I promised myself to revisit my writing habit, try to write something every other day or week. Writing has always been my passion, my escapade from daily mundane problems, and I truly miss my writing days.

After each session, the trainer assigned us to write something related to the topic. For the first assignment, we had to write an opinion piece. This is a good exercise, especially because we have a whole session specially to discuss and do some peer editing. Very inspiring.

Here's my first opinion piece. Open for comments and suggestions :)
Hopefully I'll have some time later to share more about what I gain from this workshop.

The Road to Purple Pinky

Many years has passed since the last time I walked to my TPS (Tempat Pemungutan Suara – Indonesian term for election booth) to vote and get my pinky purpled by the famous ink. With the way democracy and election implemented in Indonesia, not voting became the easiest decision for me.  I couldn’t care less with Indonesian politics for the last decade since I had been too upset with the moral crisis this country facing, namely government false promises, fake images of elite politicians, and the big corruption everywhere.

I had a first-hand experience on how the false promises were made (and later be broken). In 2005, when I was still a journalist working for one of the largest online media in Indonesia, my editor assigned me to cover Jusuf Kalla’s pre election campaign. Kalla then was the candidate for vice president of the already popular SBY. I followed him closely in many of his trips across the archipelago, from island to island and big cities to remote villages, listening to his speeches and promises. They were always the same, really sweet and sugar coated talks that told in front of many hopeful faces, and in the end made me quite bored and sceptical. After SBY and Kalla had been elected that year and all the promises to Indonesia were forgotten – replaced by the compromise and heavy coalitions in the government- I vowed that I would never vote again.

Apparently I was not the only one who felt that way. According to the Election Commission (KPU), the number of Golput (Golongan Putih– the term used for non voters in Indonesia) has been increasing during the last three elections, from 10,40% in 1999, to 23% in 2004, and around 29% in 2009. This data was quite surprising, considering the stage of democracy in Indonesia that is still young and dynamic, and people should not start to lose their faith in the government and democracy process in this country yet.

However, after a dose of careful reflection, I’ve changed my mind recently. I realized that losing faith – and hope – does not really change anything. One consideration is because, in the absence of my vote,  the government will still do whatever they used to do, and I don’t have the right to complain or judge them, since I choose to be indiferent to politics and did not use my right to vote in the elections. It’s like when you have a movie night with your friends and you don’t want to choose which movie you want to watch, but then you have the loudest complaint because the movie doesn’t fit your taste.

There are many reasons why people choose to become Golput. Beside feeling disappointed with the government performance, some people do not vote because they can’t decide which candidate is better, even marginally. Others become Golput incidentally, because they are not registered or even do not have adequate information about the voting system in Indonesia.

One of the reasons why most of my friends do not want to vote is because they think politics has nothing to do with them. They couldn’t care less who will become the President of Indonesia as long as they can still keep their jobs and feed their families. Flash news: politics is real. Politics is a part of our lives. Are you tired of the bad traffic everytime you’re going home from the office? Annoyed when you try to open your favorite website but it’s being blocked by the Ministry of Information? Frustrated with the ever more absurd system of National Exam that your children must pass? Welcome to the hard reality, where politics has real impacts in our daily activities.

We probably do not have the best candidates in the world for the upcoming presidential election, and nobody can guarantee that their promises will be fulfilled after they’re being elected. One has a doubtful past and the other still has much to prove. Moreover, some faces still come from the New Order era.

But this time, I’ve made up my mind. Indonesia is at an important moral junction and this election may cast some light to our country. For me, it’s still better to put hopes up and be disappointed afterwards (and then exercise my right to complain!) than to throw away hopes and live a stagnant life. For me, it is better to walk to the TPS and get my pinky purpled, than stay at home and hate my country with all my might without doing anything about it. Because like Dante Alighieri said, “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”