Jam Karet

November 25th, 2010 § 1

Jam Karet

Interesting discovery. Apparently, among the things that we Indonesians surprisingly manage to export is the concept of jam karet. There is a progressive rock band based in California named Djam Karet; a soundtrack from the American TV series Ally McBeal is titled such; and probably most advisory manuals for traveling into Indonesia such as this one will warn foreigners against expecting Indonesians to be on time.

In case you don’t know, jam karet simply means rubber watch, originally referring to the cheap plastic watch that people usually buy for their little children as a toy. When somebody is late for something, people will say he has a jam karet (or ngaret to say it as a verb) as a way of mocking him.

Now, reading the way the Djam Karet band explains what their name means in their biography page, however, I’m suspicious that some of the foreigners who have only heard the phrase but never been to the country may think it is some exotic eastern philosophical concept about the elasticity of the space-time continuum, instead of a way of describing slackers.

What everyone who writes in Indonesian should know

November 23rd, 2010 § 0

But apparently doesn’t, which can be pretty frustrating for an Indonesian editor, is that di as a prefix is not the same as di as a particle.

Where it serves as a prefix to a verb it constructs the passive voice, meaning the grammatical subject of the verb is the recipient of the action. You do not introduce any space between di and the verb. Examples: dicari, dilakukan, disuruh, dikerjakan, dimarahi, diampuni, etc.

Di is also a particle that generally indicates place, in which case you insert a space between di and the noun that follows immediately after. For example: di kantor instead of dikantor, di rumah instead of dirumah, di luar instead of diluar, di atas instead of diatas, etc.

And yes, this is elementary school language class.

No amount of money is worth it

November 19th, 2010 § 0

liputan haji-penganiayaan-tkw-15

Kompas ran a heartbreaking story today about the plight of Indonesian women migrant workers in Arab Gulf states. The backdrop of this story is a recent case of torture of an Indonesian maid by her employer in Saudi Arabia, and another more recent case where another maid was not only tortured but also had her throat slit and her dead body dumped in the garbage.

The journalist who wrote the story met a group of about forty of them at Dubai international airport as they were about to board a flight back home.

Wati, Ngatmi, dan puluhan perempuan di ruang tunggu itu pantas merasa lega. Mereka telah bekerja sebagai PRT rata-rata tiga bulan sampai dua tahun lebih di Dubai, Arab Saudi, Kuwait, Lebanon, dan beberapa negara lain di sekitarnya. Rasa kangen terhadap kampung halaman sudah membuncah.

(Transl.) Wati, Ngatmi and tens of the women waiting in the departure terminal rightly feel glad. They have have been working as maids anywhere from three months to more than two years in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, and several other countries in the area. They deeply miss their homes.

And in my opinion they should just go home never to return. This is why:

”Saya sudah ganti enam kali majikan selama 2,5 tahun di Kuwait. Kadang karena tidak kerasan, terus minta ganti majikan. Penyebab tidak kerasan terbanyak ya soal kekerasan dari majikan,” kata Sa’diyah (38), warga Cimahi.

Ketika pembicaraan merembet ke masalah kekerasan, wajah-wajah para penyumbang devisa bagi Indonesia itu pun langsung mendung. Dari sekitar 40 tenaga kerja perempuan yang Kamis itu akan menuju Jakarta, hampir semuanya pernah merasakan kekerasan selama bekerja.

(Transl.) “I have switched employers six times during my 2.5 years in Kuwait. Sometimes it was because I did not feel comfortable with my employer. Why uncomfortable? Most of the time the reason was the violence of my employer,” said Sa’diyah (38) of Cimahi.

When the conversation switched to the topic of violence, the faces of these contributors to Indonesia’s foreign reserve turned dark. Of about forty women migrant workers who were leaving for Jakarta that Thursday, nearly all of them had been subjected to violence in their job. (emphasis mine)

I never realized that the violence problem was so widespread in these countries. I remembered after reading the piece that our new maid had also worked in one of the Arab countries before coming to work for us. I asked her about the violence, and she confirmed that the mother of her employer had once banged her head on the wall for some unclear mistake.

I’m not sure what this indicates. Is it possible for people in these different countries to have some overwhelming propensity for violence? I mean you can’t even consider this a crime. It’s pathological.

Here’s one worthy cause to pursue: STOP SENDING OUR WOMEN TO BECOME DOMESTIC WORKERS IN ARAB COUNTRIES. Any amount of riyal or dirham is just not worth it.

Indonesia a development miracle?

November 18th, 2010 § 0

Harvard economist Dani Rodrik writes:

Which are the countries that have improved their human development indicators the most since 1970 relative to their peers? You’d be surprised, as I was, to find that the top 10 is dominated not by East Asian superstars, but by Moslem countries: Oman, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. This year’s Human Development Report is full of neat analysis and results, including this one.

Noting that not all of them have had high economic growth, he said that their success is due to expansion of educational opportunities and health access and creativity to come up with developmental approaches that fit their own conditions.

However, what’s interesting, and in contradiction of what U.S. President Barack Obama said about economic development and political freedom in his speech in University of Indonesia a while ago:

What is somewhat puzzling, as Rodriguez and Samman also note, is that these countries have not made nearly as much progress in democratization.

Is UNDP affiliated with the Chinese?

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