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Rahmad’s exit a slap in the face to divisive PSSI *

Rahmad Darmawan, the head coach of the Indonesian Under-23 soccer team, surprised soccer enthusiasts when he relinquished his post on Dec. 13, less than a month after he led his team to the final of the 26th SEA Games’ soccer tournament at home, which they lost.

The Indonesian Soccer Association (PSSI) had tried to persuade Rahmad to stay but to no avail, for one substantial reason: to defend the right of every best-suited player to play for the national team.

The PSSI has decided to ban players from the Indonesian Super League (ISL), which it deems as illegal as it rivals the PSSI-sanctioned Indonesian Premier League (IPL), from donning the national jersey.

It means Rahmad would have been unable to pick the best players as he did during his short stint as assistant to Wim Rijsbergen, the head coach of the senior national team, and for the SEA Games.

With Rahmad assisting Rijsbergen, the senior team stormed into the Third Round of the Asian Zone 2014 World Cup Qualifying but in his absence from the pitch’s sidelines, the team was eliminated after losing five of the six matches they played during this phase.

Apart from the failure to clinch the gold medal, the U-23 national team under Rahmad performed quite well at the SEA Games and in the friendly match against Los Angeles Galaxy on Nov. 30.

Soccer lovers view that having proved his chemistry and managerial skills in handling the promising U-23 national team, Rahmad would be the right person to take over the senior national team to end a long drought of achievements.

Had he maintained his job, he would have faced heavier challenges simply because almost all the players he brought to the national squad play in the ISL.

Young talented players like Titus Bonai, Patrich Wanggai, Okto Maniani, Hashim Kipuw, Dutch-born Diego Michiels, and many others belong to ISL clubs.

No doubt stable clubs will generate healthy competition, while a healthy competition will result in a strong national team.

Unfortunately, the PSSI has failed to create a healthy competition due to the prolonged conflicts involving its members and soccer elites, which have sparked division among the top-tier professional leagues.

Almost half a year since Djohar Arifin Husin took office as the PSSI chairman on July 9, during the association’s extraordinary congress held by the Normalization Committee in Surakarta, Central Java, the soccer elites remain unable to end their differences.

The congress merely produced a deal on figures concerning the day-to-day running of the PSSI’s businesses but failed to convey the association’s basic spirit to unite the nation as echoed by its founder, the late Suratin. The soccer elites wasted their opportunity to reconcile and formulate collective agreements on actions to develop the nation’s soccer.

But, as Rahmad said, it is unfair to sacrifice players in the dual-league controversy while the PSSI and its stakeholders have not exhausted efforts to end their deep and prolonged differences. Why must the elite rivalry punish the players?

Rahmad has left the national team but it does not negate respect for him. His yet unanswered question presents a deep lesson that reminds me of the words by Sir Bobby Charlton, English soccer’s living legend and 1966 World Cup winner: “Some people tell me that we professional players are soccer slaves. Well, if this is slavery, give me a life sentence.”

Soccer is for all. Keeping the regulations intact is absolutely correct. Enforcing the rules in line with
the spirit of fair play and unity in soccer, however, requires more than strict actions, let alone punishment for “rebel” players and clubs under the ISL.

Since both leagues have rolled on, 18 clubs in the ISL compared to 13 from the initially proposed 24 clubs in the IPL, let soccer enthusiasts see and judge the standard of the rival leagues since “soccer is democracy” and “democracy is soccer” wherein the spirit of respect exists.

It would be highly appreciated if the soccer power brokers, conflicting parties among the PSSI board members and both the ISL and IPL club officials don’t give up trying to find the best formula to take the advantages from the dual leagues for the greater objective of building a strong national team.

The difference can stand for the love of soccer and the lovers of soccer, and for the joy of all, without hurting each other.

* The writer is a freelance editor, writer and media consultant. Published on the ‘Opinion’ page, The Jakarta Post, Saturday 17 December 2011.

Indonesia Pasca-Pak Harto dan Nurdin Halid

MENENTANG sosok jauh lebih mudah ketimbang melawan sebuah sistem, apalagi rezim yang telah tersistem dan melahirkan pola pikir serta perilaku sistemik. Maka, tidak mengherankan apabila sosok yang dinilai sebagai simbol maupun icon sebuah rezim berhasil ditumbangkan, tidak ada jaminan pasti pola pikir dan perilaku rezimnya otomatis terkubur dalam-dalam di liang lahat tanpa setitik lubang jarum menguap ke permukaan.

PHOTO: AFP

Ketika sebuah rezim bisa digulingkan dan tatanan yang dibangunnya ikut diporakporandakan karena dicap antipembaruan, antireformasi, dan anti- anti- lainnya yang dinilai benar, maju, dan berbudaya, saat itu pula sejatinya sebuah kerja besar menantang baru dimulai. Tidak sekadar memancang harapan, tetapi pembuktian atas slogan-slogan yang mengisi ruang publik semasa ‘’kampanye penggulingan’’ yang cenderung abstrak (kata sifat) menjadi kata kerja, kinerja nyata.

Wajar. Itulah jalan hidup. Warna dan tantangan hidup. Sunnatullah. Bikin hidup lebih hidup. Socrates sang filsuf (bukan salah seorang pesepak bola legendaris dan mantan kapten Brasil yang tidak pernah mengantarkan timnasnya menjadi juara dunia itu) mengatakan, the unexamined life is not worth living. Hidup tanpa ujian sungguh tidak layak dijalani.

Siapa pun berani menantang ujian hidup pasti memetik hasilnya: berhasil atau gagal, lulus atau tidak lulus. Kiranya semua itu hanya warna hidup. Sang pemberani tidak jarang disambut aplaus dan dielu-elukan, diidolakan dengan label pelaku perubahan –the agent of change lah kata orang-orang sekolahan. Disengat laporan media serta kalimat-kalimat penuh nada canda dan amarah di spanduk dan pamflet, dari hari ke hari massa pengidola bertambah karena, menurut Eric Hoffer dalam True Believer, mereka merasa senasib sebagai kumpulan sosok yang haus perubahan dan memiliki satu tujuan.

Ketika komandan perubahan hadir, psikologi massa menjadi dominan melihat satu tujuan. Massa bergerak. Massa bertindak. Hipnotisme suara hati massa kerap mengalahkan pertimbangan masing-masing kepala dan ‘’mencoba curiga’’ untuk jangka panjang. Yang penting, saatnya bertindak. Ujian harus dilalui karena hanya itu yang akan membuat hidup lebih berarti. Amboi, romantisnya. Lebih romantis lagi jika tujuan tercapai, barangkali seindah pasutri yang sedang berbulan madu.

Sayang, tidak jarang pula cita-cita mulia perubahan yang membebaskan diwarnai provokasi yang tidak mendidik, pembiaran, bahkan tindakan anarkistis. Disayangkan pula apabila mereka yang dinobatkan sebagai aktor (otak kotor?) serta yang menganggap diri sendiri sebagai aktor bersama massanya dituntut tidak asal bekerja dengan spirit coba-coba, melainkan kerja yang terukur hasilnya.

Ada parameter kinerja yang memberikan peluang kepada publik untuk menilai tidak lagi sekadar faktor akseptabilitas para aktor, tetapi juga akuntabilitas berdasarkan kapabilitas mereka.

Jika semua paparan tersebut diposisikan sebagai teleskop, bagaimana kondisi di Indonesia saat ini pasca Pak Harto dan Nurdin Halid?

Para penentang bersorak kegirangan penuh kemenangan ketika Pak Harto dan Nurdin terguling. Padahal yang mereka tumbangkan itu sekadar simbol dari sebuah sistem yang telah mengakar dan dijanjikan oleh para aktor bakal dienyahkan seturut spirit reformasi (versi mereka) yang digelorakan.

Yang terjadi kemudian? Tampaknya tidak perlu lagi banyak dipapar di sini karena realitas sehari-hari telah menjawabnya. Benarkah presiden-presiden pengganti lebih cakap dari Pak Harto? Benarkah pengganti Nurdin di PSSI saat ini lebih terampil?

Masing-masing memiliki sisi plus dan segi minus.  Namun, mereka tidak akan pernah bisa lepas dari parameter kinerja yang dijadikan dasar penilaian oleh publik, tidak terkecuali yang sebelumnya bersama mereka bersemangat menggelorakan reformasi bertarget penggulingan para simbol.

Namun, setelah penggulingan para simbol memetik hasil, apakah ada jaminan pasti para aktor menggaransi keinginan –belum pada taraf kepentingan—massa pendukungnya? Dari titik ini pengingkaran terhadap tesis Hoffer dimulai dan semakin nyata mencolok mata publik ketika para aktor, ternyata, lebih mementingkan diri sendiri dan kelompok kecilnya. ‘’Sistem reformasi’’ yang mereka bangun tidak lagi bertolak dari kepentingan bersama, menurut parameternya sendiri.

Oleh karena itu, publik membutuhkan pikiran jernih agar tidak membiarkan diri serta menyerahkan jiwa mereka untuk diombang-ambingkan oleh retorika dan slogan para aktor,  namun sejatinya justru dijadikan tumbal dari kepentingan mereka.  Selamat merenung……

Bersama Istri Membincang ”Free Education”

Sangat lama saya tidak membincang berbagai isu pendidikan. Padahal ketika menjadi anggota penyunting penerbitan kampus, isu-isu pendidikan menjadi menu rutin di institusi saya yang mencetak mahasiswanya menjadi pendidik, IKIP Surabaya di kawasan Ketintang sebelum kebijakan memaksanya bermetamorfosis menjadi Universitas Negeri Surabaya (Unesa).

Di sela kehidupan mahasiswa yang penuh warna, saya masih punya waktu untuk menulis artikel pendidikan, kemahasiswaan (kolom mahasiswa), beberapa tulisan lainnya, dan mengirimkannya ke beberapa media lokal. Tentu hati berbunga-bunga jika tulisan saya dimuat. Bukan semata karena honorariumnya yang cukup besar untuk ukuran mahasiswa ketika itu sehingga bisa memperpanjang napas di rantau sekaligus mentraktir teman-teman, tetapi juga ada kepuasan batin yang tidak akan bisa dikonversikan ke dalam rupiah.

Terlebih lagi ketika ke toko buku mendapati tulisan-tulisan pendidikan saya dipilih sebagai artikel pilihan yang diterbitkan buletin GEMA (meskipun namanya sama, tetapi sama sekali tidak ada hubungan dengan penerbitan kampus tempat saya pernah belajar) dan buletin sejenis lainnya bersama tulisan-tulisan lainnya oleh para pakar pendidikan dan penulis lain yang lebih punya nama.

Di antara beberapa artikel saya yang dipilih tersebut sempat menjadi polemik di Surabaya Post. Bahkan, seorang guru sebuah SMA di Surabaya merasa perlu mendatangi saya di kampus untuk berdebat usai kami terlibat polemik on-print seputar pemanfaatan laboratorium bahasa di sekolah.

Buletin-buletin yang dijual di toko buku itu berisi kumpulan tulisan, khususnya opini, dari berbagai media massa di Indonesia berdasarkan bidang atau topik rubrikasi: pendidikan, politik, ekonomi, dan lain-lain. Saya tidak tahu pasti apakah buletin-buletin itu masih ada karena tidak lagi saya jumpai di toko-toko buku yang saya kunjungi beberapa tahun terakhir

Saking bahagianya, tulisan-tulisan saat mahasiswa yang dimuat itu hingga kini saya simpan. Begitu meninggalkan kampus dan bergabung koran demi koran, saya kurang konsisten lagi mengarsip berbagai tulisan dan laporan yang saya buat (dampak pemikiran rutinitas pekerjaan, hehehe…)

***

Proses pendidikan selalu menghadapi jalan panjang berliku. Namun, selalu ada tangga menuju perbaikan. CAKSOL

Akhir-akhir ini memori mengakrabi dunia pendidikan itu bangkit lagi. Kondisi yang membentuknya. Tahun ini putri sulung saya lulus dari sebuah SD. Adiknya segera masuk playgroup. Mau tidak mau, saya dan istri, yang juga seorang praktisi pendidikan, makin intens mendiskusikan rencana pendidikan selanjutnya untuk anak-anak kami, termasuk memilih sekolah yang kami nilai tepat sebagai fondasi pendidikan mereka.

Tentang berbagai kebijakan dalam sistem pendidikan, inovasi, metode, dan strategi baru dalam proses pembelajaran, jelas istri saya jauh lebih paham karena ia mengikutinya secara intens. Sedangkan yang saya tahu, pun sebagian besar dari berita, lebih sebatas penerapannya di lapangan bagi peserta didik.

Saya lebih banyak mendengar dan mencatat dalam buku tanpa lembaran kertas, di pikiran. Mengingat judul buku Jakob Sumardjo (1994), ibaratnya saya membuat Catatan dari Luar Pagar. Saya bukan pelaksana atas penerapan praktis sistem pendidikan meskipun tetap menjadi salah satu komponennya karena sebagai anggota masyarakat warga negara dan sebagai wali siswa.

Dari istri saya bisa lebih memahami apa RSBI itu. Bersama istri saya membincang hasil-hasil ujian nasional (Unas), seperti rendahnya nilai untuk Bahasa Indonesia pada Unas SMP/MTs dan SMA/SMK/MA serta ragam fenomena mulai dari nilai rata-rata Unas di Kota Surabaya tahun ini yang kalah dengan beberapa kabupaten maupun kota lain di Jawa Timur hingga soal penerimaan siswa baru (PSB).

Pada satu sisi, saya bukan fanatis terhadap capaian angka-angka dalam proses pendidikan. Tidak juga saya penganut teguh diferensiasi jenis sekolah; negeri atau swasta. Saya lebih suka berpegang pada ajaran-ajaran adab berilmu seperti dipaparkan dalam Ta’lim al Muta’allim, Usfuriyah, dan lainnya yang lazim dikaji di pesantren atau penerapan teori ‘’pendidikan untuk semua’’-nya Paulo Freire.

Mereka tidak hanya menawarkan pendidikan yang berbudi pekerti, melainkan juga berkarakter yang bisa disesuaikan dengan tuntutan kondisi Indonesia. Bukankah budi pekerti dan karakter itu yang belakangan ramai dicari-cari (lagi) oleh pendidikan kita, seperti upaya memasukkan lagi Pendidikan Pancasila dalam kurikulum sekolah?

Para politisi ramai memintanya. Kiranya mereka alpa pendidikan di republik ini juga buah dari kebijakan politik. Apa gunanya memberikan pelajaran Pancasila di sekolah-sekolah jika beberapa pemimpin, tokoh, dan pejabat publik masih doyan korupsi. Layakkah ini menjadi teladan rakyat, khususnya para siswa? Apakah itu yang dulu mereka pelajari di sekolah?

Jangan-jangan keinginan itu nanti malah ditertawakan siswa mengingat yang di atas dan sistem yang mereka bangun sejauh ini tidak cukup memberikan teladan yang semestinya.

Yang justru menggelitik pikiran adalah semakin kuatnya kecenderungan sekolah-sekolah memoles diri menjadi kapitalis –baik sekolah negeri maupun swasta, termasuk yang berstempel religius— dan semakin kehilangan pegangan karakter akibat tuntutan perlombaan pencapaian angka-angka yang berdampak pada statusnya. Imbasnya, ada kecenderungan guru juga berpola pikir kapitalis, pragmatis, dan ambisius jabatan meskipun kesehariannya tampak bagai orang suci yang layak digugu dan ditiru (dipercaya dan diteladani).

Kenaikan gaji guru, pemberian berbagai tunjangan, dan bantuan untuk sekolah adalah produk kebijakan politik dalam pendidikan. Oke-lah jika bertujuan meningkatkan mutu pendidikan. Namun, sejatinya semua itu tidak berkaitan dengan karakter pendidikan. Namanya manusia, dikasih berapa pun kebanyakan berpikir takkan pernah cukup, hehehe… Mentallah yang berbicara.

Di sisi lain, bisa dipahami bahwa sebagai sebuah proses, penerapan pendidikan juga butuh evaluasi. Pelaksanaan Unas yang menghasilkan angka-angka itu, selain kebijakan-kebijakan lainnya, merupakan upaya mengukur sejauh mana proses pendidikan berlangsung sesuai yang ditargetkan. Selagi masih dinilai sebagai barometer yang memungkinkan diterapkan sampai ada penggantinya yang kredibel, Unas pun layak dipertahankan.

Ironisnya, lagi-lagi namanya manusia, pada pelaksanaannya masih saja terjadi tindakan tidak jujur, bahkan culas dan curang yang menodai hakikat mulia pendidikan. Berdalih membantu, namun sejatinya lebih pada mengingkari dan mencederai kebebasan peserta didik untuk berpikir sesuai kemampuannya.

Ke-tidak konsisten-an maupun pengingkaran pada prinsip free education (mohon diartikan sebagai ‘’pendidikan yang bebas’’ —dalam arti kebebasan memperoleh pendidikan, termasuk memilih sekolah. Bukan ‘’pendidikan gratis’’ karena sejatinya tidak ada pendidikan gratis itu baik di sekolah negeri, apalagi swasta) masih juga berlaku ketika siswa lulus dan hendak melanjutkan ke jenjang berikutnya.

Prinsip pendidikan yang sebenarnya cenderung sosialis malah dikebiri oleh kebijakan politik berargumen sempit demi keadilan. Di sisi lain, ketika institusi pendidikan semakin tidak berdaya menghadapi tuntutan persaingan bebas bernuansa kapitalis, kebijakan pemberlakuan kuota yang membabi-buta oleh beberapa pemerintahan kota dan kabupaten, serta didukung parlemen setempat, justru menjadi ironi antitesis atas laissez faire (pasar bebas) yang menjadi roh kapitalisme.

Misalnya, bagaimana mungkin anak warga Surabaya yang bersekolah SD atau SMP di Sidoarjo kemudian ditangkal masuk mendaftar di SMP maupun SMA di wilayah Surabaya? Padahal, saat mendaftarkan anak-anaknya di sekolah-sekolah yang ada di wilayah Sidoarjo tersebut, orangtua bisa jadi melihat ada kebutuhan khusus dalam pendidikan yang harus dipenuhi. Mereka menggunakan haknya untuk memperoleh free education.

Mengapa penggunaan hak itu untuk jenjang berikutnya malah dipersulit, bahkan ditolak? Ironis, memang. Apalagi jika misalnya pejabat pemerintahan di Surabaya berlindung di balik argumen kaku bahwa pembiayaan pendidikan di kota itu didanai APBD, sehingga dikhususkan untuk para lulusan sekolah-sekolah di Surabaya. Masuk akal. Tetapi, bagaimana apabila siswa yang bersangkutan itu bukan warga Surabaya, tetapi warga Sidoarjo misalnya? Bukankah APBD untuk rakyat di wilayah bersangkutan?

Saya tidak tahu pasti apakah karena kebijakan seperti itu pada tahun-tahun sebelumnya yang membuat lulusan SMP/MTs dan SMA/SMK/MA di Surabaya tahun ini kalah bersaing dengan lulusan dari sekolah-sekolah di luar Surabaya.

Tetapi, seperti dikatakan istri saya, jika pendanaan pendidikan dari APBD yang menjadi acuan, maka kebijakan Pemkot Surabaya saat ini dengan pemakaian Kartu Susunan Keluarga (KSK) sebagai acuan PSB untuk sekolah-sekolah di Surabaya kiranya lebih tepat. Dengan demikian, di mana pun anak warga Surabaya bersekolah, mereka masih punya kesempatan untuk kembali menimba ilmu di kotanya—apalagi jika merasa pemenuhan kebutuhan pendidikan itu ada di sana.

Bagaimanapun, memperoleh free education merupakan hak dasar setiap warga negara sehingga kiranya lebih tepat lagi apabila sebuah kota tidak menutup pintu bagi siswa-siswa dari kota lain. Apakah fenomena ini masih terjadi di berbagai kota dan wilayah di Indonesia? Mengapa harus menutup pintu yang mengesankan takut bersaing?

Jangan sampai tragedi yang menimpa dua ibu di Amerika Serikat –Kelley Williams-Bolar di Ohio dan Tanya McDowell di Connecticut— pada Januari dan Mei tahun ini, terulang di Indonesia. Seperti ramai diberitakan media AS dan menjadi perdebatan sengit rakyat di sana, kedua ibu tersebut ditangkap gara-gara memalsukan dokumen akta lahir anak-anaknya agar bisa belajar di sekolah-sekolah lain di luar wilayahnya yang dirasakan lebih baik.

Memalsukan dokumen jelas melanggar hukum. Kedua ibu itu pun sempat ditahan. Namun, publik berteriak lantang mempertanyakan hal mendasar yang mendorong mereka melakukan pelanggaran itu. Publik menggalang dukungan dan memprotes dengan argumen mendapatkan pendidikan di mana pun di wilayah AS adalah hak setiap warga negara. Keduanya lantas dibebaskan.

Pada 1994, di kolom opini Surabaya Post, saya juga menulis fenomena ‘’bangku kosong’’ yang sejatinya merupakan ‘’bangku khusus’’ saat PSB. Bangku itu bukannya tidak berpenghuni, melainkan sengaja dikosongkan oleh pihak sekolah untuk ‘’ngobyek’’ cari pemasukan tambahan. Siswa yang hendak mengisinya dikenakan biaya tertentu hingga jutaan rupiah.

Mungkin ada juga uang yang masuk kas sekolah, tetapi sangat mungkin pula dibagi-bagi mulai dari jatah untuk kepala sekolah hingga lapisan bawah seperti tukang kebun. Masing-masing dapat jatah tertentu atas ‘’kepala’’ siswa baru sesuai jabatan. Bukankah ini mengerosi hak-hak siswa yang sejatinya lebih berhak tidak semata karena kemampuan finansial orangtuanya? Masih adakah fenomena itu sekarang di berbagai kota di Indonesia?

Our Politicians, Public Officials’ Slapstick

POLITICAL CLOWNS by HERI DONO - tropenmuseum.nl

In 2008, Indonesian lawmakers at the House of Representative passed anti-porn law with the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) faction in the House claimed it as their initiative. It has been  a source of angst among certain member of communities in this world’s most populous Muslim majority nation.

A year later, the then president of PKS Tifatul Sembiring was appointed as Minister of Communications and Information Technology in the second tenure of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s cabinet. In 2010, the ministry ambitiously launched a policy to ban pornographic contents in internet.

But this year, amid an internal conflict within the elites of PKS and a heating debate about the addict of Indonesian films toward the cameos of foreign porn stars, a photo journalist caught Arifinto, the member of PKS faction in the House, enjoying a blue film on his tablet computer during the parliamentary session.

Oops, didn’t he realize where and when he is? Whatever his arguments, as a penance he withdrew from the House to clean his party’s image. His decision deserved an appreciation.

Also in 2011, Youth and Sports Minister Andi Alifian Mallarangeng had launched a vote of no-confidence to the chairman of Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) Nurdin Halid, a Golkar Party cadre, and his executive boards before FIFA, the world governing body of football, dissolved Nurdin’s PSSI chairmanship. Although not clearly stated, it seemed Mr Alifian had no favour to Nurdin not just for his ways in managing national football but also for his graft suspect records, even he was ever indicted.

But who knows that later an allegedly corrupt practice of the graft case took place at Mr Alifian’s office by involving Wafid Muharam, his secretary, and members of the ruling Democratic Party in connection with the project on an athlete village in Palembang, South Sumatra, for the incoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Wafid was arrested at his workplace by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) who later decided him a suspect. Moh Nazaruddin, the young politician in the House from the ruling party faction, was relinquished of his post as the party’s treasurer for being allegedly involved in the case and for trying to bribe officials at the Constitutional Court.

Was Mr Alifian of the Democratic Party really unaware of this dirty practice? Was he so busy sweeping to make others, including the PSSI, clean that neglecting any details of SEA Games’ projects for the cleanliness of his institution?

Let the KPK does investigate the case thoroughly. Shall the KPK later prove Wafid guilty but clear Mr Alifian of any wrongdoings, to certain extents of moral judgement the minister still bear responsibility for what had happened in the institution he leads.

However, corruption is not a petty offence and whoever the offender at the Ministry of Youth and Sports shall be punished since all are equal before the law. The real example from the ruling party which backs President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono –in which fighting corruption becomes one of many agendas of his government— will be above all and, therefore, what really happens next is worth waiting.

Politics is philosophically not sports. Politics does not bear a standard of wrong and right instead of the left and right. It seems depending on the politicians’ ability to garner more on public attentions as a ‘’self-sale’’ strategy for their political interests than to do real works with substantial importance for people.

Politicians are listening to public voices but any public concerns are frequently not heard of. Take an example when the lawmakers stick with a plan to build a new tower despite public protests regarded it not an urgent need. Too many overseas trips by the lawmakers without any useful gains presented to public has also continuously been criticized along with public disappointment over the House’s slow work on legislation.

The incident of invalid e-mail gaffe, komisi8@yahoo.com , during the House’s Commission VIII trip in Australia a few weeks ago did indicate how they have still been far away from the public by not seriously taking into account the importance of both information and communication tools. Please note it’s the lawmakers who ratified a bill of Public Information Act which later took into effect as the law by the government since April 2010.

It’s alright that the gaffe is not substantial as said by the deputy House speaker Priyo Budi Santoso from Golkar Party on the Jakarta Globe on May 6. Say it a human’s err that is humanly. But, one thing Mr Priyo might not completely understand is that giving the wrong e-mail address –though the correct one komisi8@dpr.go.id is part of an intranet system which will bounce back any e-mails sent to it from outside the system as told by Roy Suryo, a Democratic Party lawmaker— is making a fool at the public.

In fact, the parliament and not all of ministries and government institutions are really well-prepared to do social interactions with the public as mandated by the law on the openness of public information they passed. On the matter of overseas trip by the lawmakers, for instance, it is not merely about the costs but also on the results gained from such study tours abroad which stir controversies since they are not publicized enough on the parliament’s website to be known by the large Indonesian society.

Another plain phenomenon, though there is an availability of ample budget and human resources or staffs, websites and media of many ministries and government offices or institutions do share an impression of nothing but randomly managed. This is one of many risks putting certain ministers or public officials from political party’s background who frequently bring persons from the same party to be their special or expert staffs to do the task without enough needed expertises and skills.

There would be information bottlenecks. Let alone if ministers or public officials prefer certain commercial media to others for publishing or making advertorial on their activities in order to be read by their bosses, not for the vast majority of Indonesian public. It’s also a misfortune if the publications concentrate on certain areas since the visits and activities of ministers and public officials directed to the provinces or regencies with the governors or regents coming from the same party.

Also how unlucky the public will be if ministers and public officials make use of public money not to serve them with the needed information but, for example, to publish expensive books just to personally boost the ministers’ and the officials’ images for their political interests in the future. Are some officials like them around us? It’s the task of the Indonesian ministry for state apparatus to observe and evaluate.

It’s the best if in the future we do hope not to see the lawmakers and public officials like the clowns who not necessarily say something funny since their acts have already been so cleverly producing various slapstick. (*)

Press, show us the way…

Neither it’s necessarily euphemistic nor sarcastic but I had to think in ‘’a little bit creative’’ way while reading news on two Indonesian news portals –detik.com and beritajatim.com— and a piece of Singapore’s largest newspaper, thestraitstimes.com on Monday, March 14, 2011. The three portrayed some realities in the noteworthy language and symbol.

The popular detik.com criticized the use of incorrect English ‘’Take the Bus, No It’s Way’’ instead of the correct ones like ‘’Take the Bus, Not Its Way’’ or ‘’Take the Bus, Not the Way’’ as suggested by the policy analyst Andrinof Chaniago. The words stuck at the rear views of the buses operated by the TransJakarta had appealed non bus way chauffeurs, motorcyclists and bikers not to trespass and drive along the bus special lanes.

Not only in the capital, the ubiquitous mistakes in English spelling and composition could easily be found in other various forms and sounds in other cities throughout the country. Even the case of incorrectness appears on any pages of many local media, like the unconscious choice of diction in ‘’win or loose’’ or ‘’nothing to loose’’ rather than the correct ones of ‘’win or lose’’ or ‘’nothing to lose’’.

Since that kind of mistake does not create a real mess, let alone it appeared in the middle of the heating debate on WikiLeaks materials attacking some prominent political figures in Indonesia published four days earlier by two Australian papers, readers accustomed to news on conflicts, violence and serious politics –though much without immediate solution and ending—might view the news about the language mistake of the TransJakarta’s campaign less important despite of just poking fun at the bus way operator and Jakarta officials.

At least, surely it was while I was skimming readers’ comments following the news. ‘’Bus the way you are,’’ a reader wrote with smiling and laughing emoticons on the news portal modifying the title song of Billy Joel’s Just the Way You Are.

The others were politely and intelligently written. And the rest, oh my God, I think it’s the right time for some news portals’ administrators and editors in Indonesia to educate their readers by moderating their commentary entries to be in line with the mandate of Section 3 Article 1 of the Law Number 40/1999 about the Press which states that the function of national press is as the medium of information, education, entertainment and social control.

It’s regrettable why such language mistake still happened when the campaign material had been put in public views. Had it passed checking and editing by persons with proven knowledge and competence in English? Only persons-in-charge has known the answer.

But the TransJakarta operator, Jakarta officials and Jakartans not necessarily feel ashamed and quickly jump into the final conclusion that better not using English for almost all trespassers to the bus lanes are Indonesians. It seems more proper the campaign is written in Indonesian or even Betawi language proposed by Mr Andrinof. The operator had actually made it in line with, unfortunately, that of incorrect English.

Since Jakarta is becoming more global to the world and nobody could guarantee any foreigners in this city won’t break the TransJakarta’s lane barrier, however, the campaign is also as the warning for people coming from around the world to this capital and such warning written in universal language like English is both understandable and acceptable.

The best way, I think, is to comfort oneself by believing the linguists’ theory that learning a language is a risk-taking process and trying to express the language is better than doing nothing. What the detik.com had presented was a little thing for certain readers but it actually meant a lot. Not only giving the valuable input for the TransJakarta operator to immediately correct the mistake but also as the medium for Jakartans to learn English from the daily experience to be part of global society. The detik.com has done not only social control but has also educated society.

Meanwhile, the beritajatim.com carelessly picked the word cium (to kiss, kissing) as its title, ‘Cium’ Angkot, Pasutri Tewas, for news on the deadly traffic accident in the Jombang Regency, East Java Province. The spouses in their 60s died after a motorcycle they drove and a city public transport had collided. Though the word cium had been put in the double quotes, the inappropriate diction did not reduce or even eliminate its rough impression to other’s misfortune despite of greatly sympathizing or even sharing their sorrow (I wrote this kind of objection on the readers’ comments of the news portal).

This is a photo copy of Malaysian newspaper Berita Harian published Sunday, March 13, 2011, with a caricature showing Japanese cartoon superhero Ultraman comically trying to outrun an incoming tsunami. The newspaper has apologized through facebook and twitter Sunday and issue the apology on the newspaper Monday for a caricature after critics slammed the daily for being distasteful and insensitive. AP PHOTO

And thestraitstimes.com brought news about public apology issued by the Malaysian newspaper Berita Harian over publication of a cartoon depicting the devastating tsunami in Japan on its Sunday edition, March 13. Drawn by cartoonist Mohd Zohri Sukimi, the cartoon showed popular Japanese icon Ultraman running away from an oncoming tsunami. The message could be whether the strong Ultraman, viewed as the representing symbol of Japan and Japanese, had been expected to challenge the destructive tsunami or had poked at their powerlessness before the natural disaster.

The cartoon had triggered a buzz on social networking sites on which public and politicians criticized the poor judgment of Berita Harian for the ‘’distasteful’’ and ‘’insensitive’’ work of journalism. The Malay daily also published the apology on its website, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

From the three news mentioned, we could draw the relationship between the press and society within the frame of their social control task. And whether it’s for artistic, prestigious and even sensational purposes, the press should not go beyond the limit by disregarding sensitiveness since no media could present the real truth. Media are just covering, recording, reshaping and presenting facts and events in their own languages and styles. What they could do is to get closest to the truth on the basis of available standards although the press must not be overconfident that their audiences are always willing to take their products for granted.

If media has the role of social control, then who should control the press? The answer is the public or society as the basis of its origin, existence and survival. In the society it exists, the press could laud its freedom but in its freedom there is also responsibility. Holding fast to the journalistic code of ethics is the ultimate way to become professional journalists in order to keep any demands of the society.

In this case, I do agree with the statement of the Head of Multimedia Department at Central Board of Indonesian Journalist Association Priyambodo RH during a seminar on journalism in Semarang last year. Quoted by the Suara Merdeka Cybernews on November 4, 2010, he said that freedom of the press ultimately belongs to the public who entrusted it to journalists and press organizations. Should journalists not been competent enough, the public could take the freedom back. It’s consciously or not the takeover has been in progress through several media like blog, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and citizen journalism.

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