“A brand is a totalisation process of developing soul, personality and visual“
– DMID Group
Eighteen years ago today the aging autocrat Suharto abdicated and we were happy. What the majority of the rakyat were happy about was that their economic situation might improve. The word reformasi was bandied about with few taking a long-term view about what that meant, or how it would be achieved.
Over the next few months the press was freed from government restraints and with the simultaneous growth of the internet, mental horizons were widened as the world of knowledge beyond the archipelago became accessible. Blogging became a medium and more people began to understand what they were thinking as they read what they and others were writing.
But then came internet-connected cell phones with instant messaging, emoticons, and LOLs. Personal communication became reactive, and creativity was to be found in machine driven apps, spam and hacking.
(Found on FaceBook)
Two years ago, in his election campaign, Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo touted a revolusi mental as being the core of his political message. I admit that I was sceptical at the time. I did not believe that building “a foundation to make people more productive and competitive in the economy” was the correct aim. As befitting a furniture company owner with 500 employees, he seemed to be talking about more efficient cogs in the (his?) producing machine, one which has rapidly depleted Indonesia’s natural resources.
“In my opinion, the first priority in economic development is to build the human resource through education… What kind of education? We should do mental revolution.”
There’s nothing in that statement about freeing minds, about creative thinking. Recent events indicate that his revolusi mental is about closing minds, and restoring Javanese paternalism at the core of central government. And it’s all to do with symbols and brands, and nothing to do with education.
Apparently, the country’s ‘creative economy’ was worth US$71.55 billion last year, with food and fashion together contributing 60%. Neither are of much interest to workers struggling to get by on the basic wage, the very people who were supposed to be Jokowi’s targets for a change in mindset.
While he promotes an unnecessary super-fast rail link to Bandung, 18% of the population have yet to benefit from access to electricity. Or the bridge over the river crossing collapsed a couple of years ago so their children risk their lives trying to get to school.
Source; UK’s Daily Mail– best watched in full screen mode.
What we’re witnessing and experiencing is tokenism: it’s all to do with symbols and brands, and nothing to do with education.
Indonesia has diplomatic relations at the embassy level with Cuba, China, Laos, North Korea, Vietnam and honorary Ccnsulate status with Nepal. What these countries have in common is a political philosophy which goes by a label which must not be uttered here for fear of a five year prison sentence. Two words associated with these hand tools, both readily available from your local hardware store, are verboten, and even suggesting that I love Indonesian coffee could get me into trouble. So, if you’re here, do not utter the names of these two tools, readily found in a local hardware store.
Jokowi has bought into this nonsense. Whether this is for autocratic reasons or without due consideration of the consequences has yet to be fully determined. The most ominous sign of the former is that the military have been involved in recent arrests.
Last week, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo ordered some of his aides, including Badrodin, Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo and National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Sutiyoso to take “a legal approach” in dealing with “the increasing number of activities related to the Indonesian Communist Party [PKI] and other leftist movements.”
What we are witnessing is a clamp down on the right to freedom of expression. Rights activists have lambasted the raids, accusing security officials of trying to undermine the ongoing national dialogue between the government, victims and families of victims of the 1965 tragedy.
But, no matter, there is a country to be developed.
According to this Jakarta Post article, at the closing ceremony of the National Development Planning Conference in Jakarta on the 11th of this month, Jokowi called on city leaders to invent their own branding. Like me, you may not see the connection with his apparent source of his bright idea.
Inspired by his recent trip to the Sunnylands private estate in Rancho Mirage, California, which hosts more than a dozen golf courses and is known as a “go-to” place for golf, the President has instructed regional leaders to build a particular brand for their cities in the diverse country.
The Post had a few examples of cities which have already taken that step into banality.
Bandung : Everlasting Beauty … now changed to Juara Bandung (Champion)
The reality: transparency, removal of eyesore hoardings + from new mayor.
So, thankfully, a re-branding after the previous corrupt – supposedly Islamic – regime.
Banyuwangi (East Java) : Sunrise Java
The reality: yep, it faces Bali to the east
Jakarta : Enjoy Jakarta
The reality: traffic, pollution, noise, and traffic.
Pekalongan (Central Java) : World’s City of Batik
The reality: it’s one of several ‘cities of batik’
Semerang (Central Java) : Variety of Culture
The reality: yep, and several other cities could say the same
Sumenap : The Soul of Madura
The reality: the regency has only one-third of the island’s population.
Surabaya (East Java) : Sparkling Surabaya
The reality: the ‘brand name’ has no meaning.
Solo (Central Java) : The Spirit Of Java
The reality: A (not ‘the’) would be appropriate.
Yogyakarta (Central Java) : Never Ending Asia
The reality: Eh? No mention of its rich history and culture?
Note: on the same front page, another idiot died as the consequence of taking a ‘selfie’ – with an elephant!
And this is the banner at the top of the page of the company which provided my opening quote.
Why is the family (but where’s mother, eh?) staring at the bottom of a large sheet of apparently blank paper. If it’s a supposed to be a map, what information could they glean from it? Besides, people who always smile … I mean Smile. Always! … are generally thought of as being a loaf short of a picnic.
So, not much of a revolusi mental then.
In his article entitled National awakening and gnawing doubt in yesterday’s Post, HS Dillon shows that he has a similar despair about the future of Indonesia under Jokowi.
… the real President Jokowi has to emerge as a “moral compass”and reject the demands of the politicians, authorities, businessmen and volunteers who have been unwilling to transcend their self-interest.
However, he also looks to the early foundation of the country in order to offer a vision, an outline of what needs to be done to “rediscover our beloved Indonesia“.
It’s an article to bookmark and reread.