Nurvita Indarini, Jakarta – Dita Indah Sari and labour are two things that are inseparable. But over the last three months, she has chosen to work within bureaucratic circles. And in those 3 months, her weight has dropped by 3kg. Duh!
Since late 2010, Dita has been a trusted expert staff member as well as the spokesperson for Labour and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin (Imin) Iskandar. Getting close to the inner circle of policy makers has resulted in her being super-busy.
"I dropped 3kg, Mbak (sister). A drop of 3kg in three months", Dita said with a laugh when speaking with Detik.com on Wednesday February 16.
Nevertheless, she claims to enjoy her job and the work that piles is a challenge for her. She is happy to be able to contribute ideas and energy within Labour Ministry policy making circles.
"Usually I get home at 8 or 9pm. Sometimes if it's a Saturday or Sunday I'm out of town because there's work. This is all part of the challenge", added the mother of Tito Karno Adisuryo.
Although busy with her activities, Dita does not however want to abandon her morning ritual with her beloved son. Almost every morning she is there to bath, hand feed and take her son to school.
"If I have to go into the office very early because there is a meeting, for example, if possible I don't miss out on the 'ritual'", continued Dita.
The woman born in the North Sumatra provincial capital of Medan 38 years ago related how she initially became associated with bureaucratic circles. Several months ago, she received an offer from Iskandar to join the Department of Labour. After thinking it over, Dita finally agreed.
"Up until now I have always been outside the system, always been the opposition. But I also thought about how I could contribute ideas more effectively. Cak (elder brother) Imin himself is a person who is open to new ideas and wanted to make a breakthrough on certain problems, so I was willing", she said.
Dita claims not to have been close to Iskandar prior to this. They were just both admirers of former President Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid. Based on this and Iskandar's character, Dita accepted the challenge he handed her.
"There are some who supported me, but others also who lamented my decision. Those that supported me said it would be sad if the experience I have is not utilised. Meanwhile those that didn't support me deplored the fact that I had joined the government, which they believe has made many mistakes", explained the University of Indonesia Faculty of Law dropout.
Many were worried that Dita would be caught up in the system such that it would change her character and she would no longer be the Dita of old, no longer be the Dita who is pro-worker. Dita however insists that she has not changed. Eighteen years as a labour activist is no short time and her character has been steeled the different incidents she has experienced.
Dita was once arrested when leading an action in the Tandes area of Surabaya, East Java, in June 1996. Dita her colleagues were later sentenced to eight years in jail because the Indonesian Centre for Labour Struggle (PPBI), an organisation that Dita was part of, was deemed to be a banned organisation.
"Those 18 to 20 years were a long time to shape my character. I have been an activist for 20 years, and that is not a short time", she said.
It is as if the things Dita experienced when she was an activist were an incredibly tough test so new influences cannot be accepted just like that. Dita is confident that she will not betray the things that she has fought for.
"If there are those that are sceptical, okay just wait and see. I'm confident I have enough experience, and I will prove it", added the woman who was once the general chairperson of the Party of United Popular Opposition (Poor).
Dita is grateful that in her current activities she still has many friends and that her network has in fact grown. Sometimes her friends from when she was an activist come to her to ask for help. For example there was a friend from a trade union that want wanted to report a case, so Dita was able to take part in helping facilitate.
"I rarely meet with [old] friends (activists). At most I communicate by SMS, Facebook or e-mail. Sometimes they come here, because [they] want to report a case so once in a while we can swap news", said the woman whose hobby is playing piano. (vit/nrl)
[Translated by James Balowski.]