Since 1991 I have visited many places in Indonesia, from Medan to Makassar. As I learned Bahasa Indonesia I can easily mingle with ordinary Indonesians. My first opinion about Indonesia was very positive. Most people greeted me and invited me to their homes. In particular people in the countryside are very happy when a westerner visits their village.
After staying a long time in this country and having talked with many people at all social levels, from farmers to government officials, it seems that most have only one topic which keeps them entertained: money. In my country, the Netherlands, people have many hobbies and ambitions. Dutch children as young as four years old want to become doctors, police officers, dentists, lawyers, musicians, dancers, etc. They are encouraged by their parents to swim, dance, sing, draw cartoons, love animals, respect nature and so on.
Indonesian children simply hang around all day in the vicinity of their house without having anything to do. They aren’t encouraged by their parents to do something useful as these parents only watch television, chat with neighbors or, even worse, sleep.
As a European I become bored of being told every day that I am rich just because I’m from Europe. Indonesians don’t care about their achievements, but only about the amount of money they acquire. The way they get this money doesn’t matter to them.
People at all levels protest daily about corruption, but most of them are themselves corrupt. If those protesters could acquire top positions they wouldn’t mind being corrupt in the same way they now accuse others. A lot of the media, especially The Jakarta Post, run stories on widespread corruption. Unfortunately, it’s only talk with almost no action at all.
In my opinion, the high level of corruption in Indonesia is caused by the fact that Indonesians have no ambition, except to acquire money. When they have more than they need, they simply have a party, buy a car, television, or waste it on other meaningless items.
They don’t save it for their children’s education and future like we do in Europe. What’s the meaning of money if you don’t know what to do with it?
How is this country going to develop if nobody cares about their achievements but only about money?
Medan, North Sumatra
March 10, 2007