Tourist Attractions

Dec 4th, 2007, in Travel, by

The morality drive in parts of Indonesia is scaring off foreign tourists.

The Immorality of Morality

Owing to the manner this essay is titled, “The Immorality of Morality”, it is not intended to elicit religious fervour.

This is simply a bread and butter issue and it comes from my personal observation.

I am no expert. I do not pretend that I have solutions to offer. Even if I do have any solutions to offer, it is a long shot from my lips to those who walk within the corridors of power in Indonesia.

The issue pertains to the enforcement by the Indonesian authorities to shut down businesses at various parts of Indonesia. The various kind of business we know that is patronized by tourists. I can attest that tourists are attracted in droves particularly over weekends and holiday seasons to Indonesia.

Over the years that I have been regularly visiting Indonesia, I have had the pleasure in being acquainted with several Indonesians. They are from various walks of life. In particular, I spend most of my time with Indonesians who are less fortunate. Therefore, I continue to learn and to understand about their daily struggle.

I empathize with most of them. They are young, energetic, educated and despite their hardships they appear indestructible – to face yet another day that will end in being nothing better than it was yesterday.

The unmistakable Indonesian smiles that I was accustomed to 7 years ago have gradually become strained through time.

I know parents who are now jobless because of the enforcement. They have practically nothing left. The hunger that pervades through their home is unnerving.

I know of children who live on one meal a day comprising white rice, tapioca leaves and water added to their plate of rice to replace gravy or soup.

I know of elderly men who work as porters at the Ferry terminal. They wear worn out rubber sandals. All it takes is one slip or a misstep and they would fall into the harbour waters and be crushed by the berthed Ferry or drown.

Without any alternate solution provided by the Authorities to those who previously eked a living by working at these business centers, the enforced business closure has bereft them of daily survival needs.

Tourists have been dwindling at an alarming rate. The lack of tourist patronage has forced several restaurants and hotels to cease operations. This in turn has increased the numbers of unemployed Indonesians.

The ferry operators have slashed their schedule because they cannot afford to sustain further loss with fewer passengers. There have been more than one occurrence where I was one of less than five passengers on the Ferry trip back home! Eventually to be cost effective, ferry staff will be reduced. That will further exacerbate the unemployed statistics.

The explosion of “ojeks” (motorbike public transport) is a sure sign of how grave the situation is.

As it goes with a vicious cycle, the Indonesian crime rate has increased. The more daring Indonesians prey on others in order to bring home some food. Apparently, for the Authorities such a trade-off seems justified.

Neighbouring South East Asian countries are now happy beneficiaries from the tourist exodus of Indonesia.

This domino effect adversely impacts the economy and the livelihood of the common folk in Indonesia. Where I go to in Indonesia, Indonesians tell me that they pine for the return of the Suharto era. They claim that during Suharto’s presidency, they never had to worry about having their daily essentials and that the price for essentials was affordable.

3 Comments on “Tourist Attractions”

  1. Sylvester says:

    I think the decline is more because of the security issues. Travel warning has given a great impact.

    Indonesia is more democratic but the economy is falling apart. The good trends in the Indo stock market only show that the rich is getting rich, but the poor is left behind. Suharto was good during 70-80s, but after that his sons were the viruses for Indonesian society.

  2. Dragonwall says:

    Suharto was good during 70-80s, but after that his sons were the viruses for Indonesian society.

    Well said but except TS some of his childrens were not accounted for. But anyway he did paid a hefty price didn’t he? Happy solitary confinement.

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