Friday, September 08, 2006

Letter to Jakarta Post 8 August 2006

Letter for Publication:

So the TNI is going off to Lebanon. Can anyone tell me why? Let’s stop for a minute and take a look at Indonesia: according to the Post (7 September), the House and government just revised the 2006 Budget, putting the deficit at Rp 36.9 trillion; there are around 40 million unemployed adults; millions of kids cant go to school and instead they are working when they should be learning and playing; tens of thousands are living in shelters after their homes were destroyed; the poorest people are barely surviving on handouts after the fuel prices were raised; some kids are dying for want of a few dollars worth of medicine which their garbage-collecting parents can’t afford; and when the rainy season kicks off, you can just bet that there will be floods galore because flood-prevention efforts are too expensive.

But apparently the government has an extra Rp 355 billion lying around in a drawer somewhere which they have decided to use for… wait for it…yes, you guessed it…troop deployment! Oh happy days. Does anyone in this country understand the word “priority”? It’s enough to make a person cry!

At first I thought it was just this country that had a problem. But then I read Reuters (29 August, 2006), quoting the US Census Bureau, which states that 1 in 8 Americans, or 37 million people, live in poverty. Wow! So, it’s not just this place. American politicians are equally capable of ignoring the suffering of their own citizens, while simultaneously wasting money on troop deployments (read: war in Iraq) that is costing hundreds of billons of taxpayers’ dollars.

Is Indonesia trying to follow their example? When will someone in power here (or in the US) start to care for those who have less? Does it only ever happen at election time when votes are for sale? Who do I see about getting my tax payments back? I’d rather hand out the cash to those who live around me than see it being spent on a field trip to Lebanon.

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