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Struggling for rights in a self-reliant Way

Kompas - August 27, 2007

Jakarta – The poor in this country must be able to rise up themselves, self-reliantly and demand their rights that the state guarantee their prosperity. This must be done as the government is no longer able to lead Indonesia to rise up.

This was the view presented by the Indonesianist from the University of Sydney, Australia, Max Lane in a discussion with the theme, "Self-reliant my nation – sovereign my country" organised as part of the 5th Congress of the Indonesian Buddhist Students Association. Other speakers were Franz Magnis-Suseno from the Driyarkara Higher Institute of Philosophy Jakarta, the economist Sri-Edi Swasono, and the labour activist Dita Indah Sari.

According to Lane, the poor will be only be able to rise up under their own power if they can come into motion through their own organisations. Through having their own organisations, they can exercise some control and surveillance over the government.

"This kind of control and surveillance is important, The poor, if they organise themselves, will be able to participate in determining policies, especially how the resources of Indonesian are to be used", said Lane again.

Lane added that the young generation of intellectuals must be active in helping win this kind of self-reliance/ability to stand on own feet. But, unfortunately, the Indonesian education system doesn't encourage that.

According to Lane, schools and universities in Indonesia are allowed to be just second or third class in International standards. This was a great pity, said Lane who is also author of Unfinished Nation.

"Indeed education in Australia is subsided by millions of dollars from the Indonesian economy. This is a result of hundreds of thousands of Indonesians choose to pay for expensive education in Australia," said Lane.

On the other hand, Dita requested that the government not to view the various dissatisfactions in regions such as Papua and Aceh through the glasses of a romantic nationalism. This discontent was a result of the injustices created by the government itself.

Dita also asked society, especially the young generation, not to be allergic to engaging in politics in order to fix the various problems and injustices that are happening. Society can become involved in the process of policy making through politics.

"We must not choose to distance ourselves from politics which is honest, true and clean:, she said.