Wag the Dog à la Indonesia

Apr 25th, 2008, in Opinion, by

Rima FauziRima says the government creates distractions and the media willingly participate, to hide the real problems of Indonesia.

Wag the Dog à la Indonesia

If you are an Indonesian like me, or a foreigner living in Indonesia, or someone who has been following Indonesian current events, you might agree with me when I say that Barry Levinson’s “Wag the Dog” rings a familiar bell. It is somewhat similar to what has been happening lately in Indonesia.

The government knows the people is much more aware of the situation around them nowadays, the people can see right through them, and the people can see their impotence. So what do they (the government) do to take control of the situation? They create decoys as a weapon of mass distraction. They throw bait at the Indonesian media who in turn almost always turn the bait into a giant media circus, distracting the people’s attention from the real, much more urgent problems at hand.

The Indonesian government’s incapability in the eradication of poverty and improvement of the current economy, monetary and socio-political problems have inflicted what seems to be irreparable damage to the country, the keyword here being “seems”. It is pre-conditioned that way, and while nothing is impossible or irreparable, this situation is continuously yet implicitly portrayed in the media. A clever tactic by the government to throw the people off course and a cruel move by the money-hungry media that has resulted in the general feeling of despair and hopelessness across the nation.

The following media hulla-balloos are among some of the government’s attempts to make sure the public is forever misinformed of the truth; a sure fire diversion:

Media circuses are certainly not against the law. It isn’t even all that evil. It is neither, only when it happens in a place with a higher number of educated people, or at least higher number of sanity. Sadly, Indonesia is not. The majority of the Indonesian people are uneducated people whose opinions are very easily formed by bombardments of information, much like what the media has been doing lately.

The fact shows the media’s prominent role in shaping the general consensus and I think it plays a big part in the rise of fall of the country’s future as well. It is time for the media industry to up their game and not take the government’s bait and fall into the lure of big sales and advertisement prospectives for the sake of profits only.

They must realize the chances of stimulating the people’s mind and making profit off hard journalism is also feasible. They need to start being serious; employ serious, credible and dignified journalists; focus on serious issues; stop exaggerating and over-blowing silly situations; and they need to put more effort into educating the nation with factual and hard truth. The Indonesian people deserve more than what they got, they need the media’s faith that they are able to digest real news.

While light and entertaining news should not be banned, I think the media should refrain from paying too much attention and merit to the actions of the morally and financially corrupt, those who are passing laws or building business that would only benefit a particular group of people while disadvantaging the majority of the Indonesian people.

Indonesia’s Problems du jour

At the present time, Indonesia has so many problems that, if not treated well, they will be a threat to the country. We have environmental problems, three of which that are quite urgent are:

  • deforestation
  • pollution
  • floods

We have been hit with bad regular floods so often that it is starting to affect the economy, health and the well-being of the people. The fact of the matter is, the flood problem is something Indonesians cannot afford to put off any longer.

We have a shortage of food supply which has led to soaring food prices. This is also the culprit of many malnutrition cases across the country, some of which have even resulted in hunger related deaths. Something unthinkable and unheard of just a decade ago.

We are in a deep hole when it comes to labor and human rights issues. We have never had a transparent government and believing strongly in eastern taboos doesn’t help us get out of the top 10 most corrupt governments list either. Besides that, we also have an increasing growth in poverty and gap between the rich and poor, not to mention a mess of government bureaucracy, infrastructure and working system which it is imperative to improve.

One of our biggest problems yet, as you may already known from the reporting of the various local and international media, is that we have an alarming increase of intolerance among people of different groups and religions which could be the beginning of Indonesia’s journey into medieval times. It may as well be the start of the demise of the so-called world’s third biggest democracy. This is probably the deadliest poison, one that could kill this great nation of diverse people from all walks of life and different cultural, religious and racial backgrounds.

Problems in these areas are so serious and incessant that the government should and must re-evaluate its priorities and start doing something about it. They must stop doing nothing but create situations, laws and regulations that will further distract the general attention of the public from their impotence. They should have some kind of a dialogue with (competent) representatives of the people to brainstorm for solution ideas and to get the people’s aspirations on the table. They must stop hiding behind excuses and apologies of how hard it is to “clean up the mess” left by Suharto Inc. and his legacy of chaos. While it is true that time heals wounds and is important in the progress of change for the better, the decade that has passed by has not really showed significant improvement. On the contrary, many feel that we are now in a state of decline, further backwards than when we started 10 years ago.

Now, will the media wake up and start doing intelligent journalism? Will the government realize they are officials entrusted by the people to guide them to a better place? Will tolerance resurrect and save the people from doom?

As always, we shall wait and see.


92 Comments on “Wag the Dog à la Indonesia”

  1. rima says:

    @pulutan:
    I do have my own blog. Click my name on this comment and you’ll be redirected there. 🙂

  2. rima says:

    Dykarg, Dhea and Andy,
    Thanks for the kind words. I just write as I see it. It might be right, it might be wrong. But it’s my own personal opinion, one which I see many people share.
    Thanks for reading it.

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