Forest, Human’s Greed, and Youth

I think I wrote something about this topic long time ago. Since I just watched a good documentary about illegal logging, my heart just asked me to write about it again. This documentary: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/fightforamazonia/, talk about efforts by rain forest conservationists to protect the amazon rain forest. The conservationists are still young, they are pushed by there idealism that rain forest should be protected and that any illegal act should be held responsible. However, from the documentary, we can see that their effort was just so limited at the low level. I think they need to advocate more at the national level, to the federal government. Secondly, since they only operate at a very grass root level, they can only catch an unempowered person who were actually also forced to do illegal logging to earn living. Somehow, it’s a bit ironic to punish them.

After all, at any point of time, I feel a bit despair. It seems to be so hard to eradicate this. But then, again, I think that things are possible when the youth, the new generation really want to make a difference. A bit unfortune, I realized that, quite significant number of my qualified friends, aren’t concern about fixing this country’s or world’s problem. I personally a bit pessimistic about young people who are busy dating with their girl/boy friends. In my mind,  how can we are hoping that they will make a better thing when they do  not concern with the problems.

I just hoped that I am wrong, that it is still worthwhile to put hope on them. Again, after all, I do believe, with or without them, the change will continue to roll. Insyaallah, we’ll consistent to be in that  change maker.

Again, reinforcing

I was reading a news in kompas.com about a critic from a former minister on Indonesia’s public debt management. I do really know that his critic is obviously misleading. There are a lot small and unimportant thing that emerge in Indonesia’s public policy arena. Another example is the prolonged corruption case in democrat party.

When I reflect on this kind of stuff, I always think what should I do so that I can do something, be in that policy making environment to do the best thing that I can and run things as they should have been. Maybe in this very low level of understanding, I might not understand the whole impacts of any policies. However, I do believe that thing should be decided apart from personal and certain group interest.

Again, this kind of thing make me want to continue my study to PhD level as soon as possible and then get the credibility to join the talk at the national level and then can improve the government policies.

Apart from negative reviews about him, his excellency President Yudhoyono’s song below is always motivate me that we have to work professionally and keep optimistic in bringing this Indonesia become a developed country. I admire his consistency in choosing path that stabilize and direct Indonesia towards a better nation. Aku Yakin Sampai di Sana.

A good lesson that we can draw from Singapore public management is that the seriousness of the government to serve the public. Apart from the recent and rising critics from society about freedom in Singapore, I do believe that Singaporean should be grateful to have this kind of system in place, where meritocracy, pragmatism, and honesty are in place.

Realizing all of this condition, I would like to promise myself till death that I’ll always improve my competence, making sure that I am a world class public financial expert so that I can help Indonesia as the best stage that I can. I’ll always try to maximize every opportunity that can improve myself. Allah, please always help and guide me. Everything is nothing and impossible without you. If it is not for you then I will never do it. What’s the point of doing something if you don’t like it.

Allah, I’ll always remember when you said in the qur’an that the best person is the one who always advising others to do a good thing, prevent them to do the bad thing, and always believe in you. Please help me, my family, and my friends to be such person.

What I Think Indonesians Studying Abroad Should Improve

I do really always feel grateful to Allah for everything the He has given to me. The opportunity to study abroad, getting a good quality of education, as well as a pretty decent living condition. I do think that the same things are also experienced by my fellow Indonesian studying abroad.

One thing that I think should be fixed about us, Indonesian who study abroad. I do believe that we’ve got to remember that we are here because of a lot of du’a (praying) from million of indonesians. There are millions of Indonesians who pray for us, for the success of our study. They just hoped that we someday can lead them to a better life, a better Indonesia.

You know how many Indonesians are living below poverty line? As of September 2011, It’s 29.89 million people or around 12.36% of our population. And do you know how much the threshold line is? It’s only Rp243,729 per month or less than USD30 per month. For some of us, most likely USD30 is barely enough to eat for 3 days, while for them, it’s the income for the whole month, not to mention portion for electricity, school supplies, etc.

I said earlier that there’s something that we’ve got to fix in ourselves, that is our idealism. I’m just a bit disappointed by many Indonesians living abroad who I think quite irresponsibly live. I think many us just do not care with the 30 million indonesians that we talked earlier.

On the other hand, I am quite happy to know some Indonesians who I know are studying in a good university thus have a really good skill and professionalism. I dream some time that I and them can work together in a very professional way to improve indonesian’s living standard. I firmly believe that as long as there are Indonesians,  even though their number is small, who believe that they can do something for this country, we can make a better Indonesians.

So let’s get to work my friends. Let’s sharpen our skills and knowledge here. I believe we can contribute greatly together in the coming years.

Life is a Test

Do you think that this life’s deceiving? For me, somehow, yes, I think so. This life is deceiving in term of dynamics that face day to day. In Al-Qur’an, it is very clear written that we are created by Allah to pray to him. In Al-Qur’an, we also know that Syaithan sweared to Allah that they will deceive human kind as hard as they can. Now I know where the deceiving part comes from. It’s from syaithan. Syaithan will always try to mislead us from the right path. They will mislead us, all of us. Even a really good person, or maybe we call them ‘alim, the temptation from syaithan to them will be even more powerful. Thus, what should we do?

Allah has said in the Qur’an, “And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah ]” (QS 2:45). So here we can see that they key are patience and prayer. We have to be patient with every temptation from Syaithan. Patience doesn’t mean stay the way it is, keep quite, and passive. Patience is an active attitude. Always try and try to overcome something. While prayer, I internalize this word by two thing. First by praying to Allah that He always strengthen and guide us. Second, by literally do the prayer (sholat). I personally feel so peaceful when I pray (sholat) to Allah, mainly when I do sujud to Allah.

Hope Allah always keep iman in our heart and always strengthen us. This life is not an easy journey, but it’s also not an impossible one. Ya Rabb, arinal haqqa haqqan, war zuqnat tiba’ah wa arinal batila batilan, war zuqnat tinabah. Oh my Lord, please show us the  right path and help us to follow it; Please show us the wrong path, and help us to avoid it. Ya Rabb,,

Rasulullah SAW

Whenever I remember Prophet Muhammad SAW, I do feel really sad. I feel that I really want to meet him. In today’s world, when there are a lot of temptations, confusions, and doubt, I do really need someone to hold on, someone to take example from. Whenever I remember Prophet Muhammad SAW, I am so afraid that I can’t meet him later in akhirat.

Whenever I remember Prophet Muhammad SAW, I feel ashamed. I am so ashamed to myself that I haven’t followed all of his ways and sunnah. I am so ashamed to Prophet Muhammad that I have’nt done anything to help his ummah to be a better society. I am firmly believe that Prophet Muhammad would be very sad to see his ummah’s condition. Many moslem do not practice syari’at islam, many of them don’t even believe to Allah and his Prophet anymore.

I’ll try my best to practice, spread, and introduce Islam to anyone in this world. I’ll do my best and give everything I have so that people know the truth of Islam.  I’ll try to prove Prophet Muhammad that even someone who never met him still believe and strive for his teaching. Allahumma shalli ‘ala sayyidina muhammad wa ‘ala ali sayyidina muahhamad.

 

We Need to Fix Our Democracy and Free Market System

One of my favorite economics professors is Jefferey Sach from Columbia University. I’m fully supporting his notion that dismantling the government capability, by cutting the taxes revenue, could create many problems, such as the diminishing of social mobility in the US (low quality of public education, low investment in infrastructure, no attention to environmental problem, etc.). His other notions about corrupt free market system, where the capitalist just gambled the system, is something which I also believe.

Below is one of his lectures in LSE. Actually I also presented in  LSE several days after he spoke, and guess what, coincidentally, we were suggesting the same solution =). Enjoy the lecture below.

Being in a Competition

Life is a a competition. I’ve heard many people complained about this statement. They argue that perceiving life as a competition would make life feel un-enjoyable and full with seriousness. Let me elaborate why I think life need to be a competition and will always be.

Firstly, whether we realizing it or not, competition will make us better. Being in a competition, someone will always try to improve his/her performance which in the end, whether (s)he win or not, will improve his overall capability. One of my professor explained why many overseas chinese and indians are more successful than their family in their home country. His answer is because these chinese and indians areexposed to a competitive world, either in US, europe, or anywhere else.

Secondly, Allah almighty, already mentioned in the qur’an that this life is a competition. Allah want to know who the best one among us. Allah said, “[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving” (QS 67:2). Allah also suggested us to compete in doing good deeds. Allah said, “……, So race to [all that is] good. Wherever you may be, Allah will bring you forth [for judgement] all together. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent” (QS 2:148).

I do agree that our life need not to be a stressful life; however, I’m even more disagree if we think that this life is just to be enjoyed, whether not to pray to the God at all or doing the good thing in a slow pace. Having in mind that this is a competition, competition between us and ourselves and a competition between us and the time. In the end, we will never know when Allah will recall us to meet Him. Obviously, none of us want to be a regretful person when we meet Allah later. I do pray to Allah that me and everyone who read this writing will meet Allah with a satisfied heart, with a full of smile face.

Lastly, in term of applicability, when I was a junior high school student, I think a round 10 years ago, even though I was studying in a countryside area, I always think that I have to improve my knowledge, because I want to be on the same level of competency with the students in Java (because java is the most developed region in Indonesia). When I was studying at the university, even  though I was studying in the best university in Indonesia, I stress my mind that I have to be as smart and competent as the harvard student. believe me, all of this mind suggestion work.

Bearing in mind that we are competing in this life, will, insyaallah, make us want to do more and to improve more. So, ready to be in the race? Good luck!

Du’a and Desperation

One concept of God in Islam that I really like is the concept that Allah is very close to us, He knows what it is inside our heart, and His promise that if we pray to Him, then He will grant it.

As a human being who sometime just being alone and in the middle of a lot of duniawi problem, the understanding that there is Allah who knows what we are thinking is just very relieving. Allah gave many direction on how we should deal with challenges in this life. He stressed that there is no thing impossible if He want it. He also stressed that if we want to change our condition, then we have to work for it. And lastly, the concept of never give up. Allah really stressed that we may not become despair in anything in this life, there must be always solution, there must be always a way out.

In a practical way, one nasihat (advice) which I never forget from an Imam when I was studying in US is that, he said, whenever you are in a problem or feeling so desperate, just do tahajjud in the middle of the night and read surah Yasin three times and then pray, insyaallah Allah will make the problem easy for you.

Lastly, about the concept of Du’a or praying in Islam. Prophet Muhammad said that there are three possibilities after we pray to Allah. First, Allah grant it directly; Second, Allah grant it later; or Third, Allah give us pahala or reward because of it and erase our sin. Well, as an accountant, I don’t see any bad outcome from it, so why don’t we pray?

Hope we are always istiqomah (stand firmly) in this Islam way. Hope we can see and meet Allah later in His paradise.

Another Reflection on Muslim Countries

The condition of muslim countries around the world now is very terrible. High poverty, easily screwed by other (mainly western) countries, hate (not cooperating) each other and many other bad record.

This great documentary from Aljazeera: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/general/2010/10/20101023181320722986.html, shows us how bad the condition of iraq war is. Iraqi military and police officials have tortured hundred of thousands of Iraqi civilian itself, besides that, we are informed how US and other coalition force in Iraq had been silenced about the on going torture in Iraq.

What can we do?

The easiest and quite rational answer would be these muslim countries have to improved their education quality as well as the governance. They have to work harder and increase their productivity so that they can be more prosperous.

However that solution seems to be very very unfeasible. Many countries are still in developing or undeveloped condition is because of lack of all of the condition mentioned. There is regime in those countries who want to keep in power, abusing their own country without feeling guilty with what they are doing.

Thus, we do need people power. I am very very happy about the changes in middle east right now. It is the change and the dream that has been waiting for. Now there is change in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and hopefully also in Syiria. I do really hope that the really good people can be in power, without being sabotaged by US again, can work for the country.

What contribution that we can give? It is the old long question that I’ve asked to myself. What I can do for them. I only came up with two option. First, I can work in international development institution, especially the islamic one, like Islam development Bank, and con do many projects in those countries to help the economy and development improved. The second option is maybe I can work in Indonesia’s government, achieve top rank position and then help those countries from G to G level.

Which one is more effective? Don’t know yet, but I surely know that I have to improve my intellectual and analysis capacity, communication skill, as well as networking skill. Hopefully someday, in the near future, we can do something significant for their well being.

One of Islamic Work Ethics

One thing that I really like from Islam work ethic is that the concept of “Fa Idza Faraghta Fanshab”, that’s the concept of doing the next thing seriously after we finish one thing seriously. It give two senses to me:

  • First, it shows that we have to focus in doing something. Focus in doing something will help us producing a high quality work without getting screwed with what we’re doing.
  • Second, it shows that we may not feel ‘enough’ in doing or achieving something. Many people just feel that they already achieved something then now is the time to do a ‘useless’ thing. They are just satisfied with what they achieved and forget to keep innovating.

I will commit myself to keep working and keep improving myself.

Ya Rabbana Lakal Hamd,,

Allah, You know everything in my heart. You know every struggle that I face. You know my self better than me.

Allah, You know that how big my dream for my familiy, my friends, my fellow country men, and people around the world. Allah, You even know that every time I saw my fellow citizen in Indonesia face difficulties, You know how bad I want to help them. Every time I interact with my friends, You know how big the dream in my heart that they can be a muslim so that our friendship can last forever, last even after the end of the day.

Allah, You know how serious I am to make my country a better country. You know how big the dream in my heart that muslim around the world can be prosperous again.

Allah, please do always help me to be someone great, beneficial, and inspiring for everyone. Allah,, You know that how dependent I am to You. You know how vulnerable I am in everything. When I am alone, the only thing that make me feel secure is You. Because I know that You are there. That You are watching me.

Allah, there is nothing I can do without your help and permission.

Allah, I promise my self to be someone that is very effective, efficient, great, smart, and can utilize time very well.

Allah, I do really really hope that I will always know and believe in You. Allah, please forgive all of mistakes. I will try my best to be someone who always remember You, feel grateful to You, and pray to You. Please help me Allah.

 

Ya Rabbana, lakal hamdu kama yanbagi lijali wajhika wa’adzmi shultonik,, Ya Rabbana lakal hamdu kama yanbagi li jalai wakhika wa’adzimi shultonik,, Ya Rabb,,

Democratic System

I think one of the negative side of democracy is that everything is just dictated by the owner of the resource. To put it simpler, everything is just dictated by the one who have money. There are a bunch of examples on this. Let’s see some of them.

In US, the leader seems to be hijacked to reform their public education system (such as removing the tenure system) because the teacher association support million of dollars to the democratic party in presidential election. Leaving the public education system in a miserable condition. US student rank around 25th in 30 most developed country in term of math and also rank low in science. US is losing ground in term of their primary and secondary education compared to other country, even to China, their rising rival.

Second example is in the reforming the tax system. Currently, the tax rate for the wealthy american is lower than the tax rate for the low level workers. why can’t the government increase it? Simply just because the wealthiest and big corporations donor-ed a lot of money for the political party.

So here we can see the loop hole in the democracy. the idea of free speech and transparency are very very good, but the way we elect our leader, making sure that they really serve the citizen’s interest-not the minority wealthiest-is just so hard, if not impossible.

How’s the leadership transition in Islam? According to the experience in years after Prophet Muhammad died, the one decide who will be the leader is given to several closest friends of prophet Muhammad. They are the one who are trusted by people and then they will elect one person as the leader. So to be clear, monarchy system is never prescribed by prophet Muhammad.

The bad thing about the implantation of democracy system in our head is that, we will start to think that politics is always one of our considerations in making policy proposal. As a public policy student, I am taught to always consider the political feasibility of certain policy proposal. The consideration would be, will this proposal can be accepted by the political party and the opposition? Will this proposal not undermine the image of that political party in public? etc. So we can see here, we are playing in a non-rational playing field. We policy that we implement is not the one that is best for the country, but the one that is best in the view of ruling political party.

How long this democracy system will stay and perceived good in this earth? We will never know.

We, human, will never make any law, better that law prescribed by Allah, our God. We will just try and at the end we will know that we made a mistake, then why don’t we change now?

I don’t know. Maybe we are blinded by our desires,, too arrogant to acknowledge that we’re wrong or maybe we’re too aggressive in following our wants, not our needs.

Happiness

All praises belong to Allah, the one who give happiness inside human’s heart, the one who let His creature feel the happiness of smile. I would like to thank Allah and always want to be someone who is grateful to Allah. Grateful for the life He has given to me. Allah, I will always to try to make as many as people happy.

Thank you Allah,,

Lintasan Pikiran_As a Muslim (I)

  • As a muslim, I want to strive to develop midlle east, sub saharan africa, and other muslim region. I want to make people who live there think that, yes, Islam is the right solution for them, that they can be prosperous with Islam. I want to make them believe with Islam teaching and not just because of economic reason, they think that the west is always the best. I think prophet Muhammad is very right, when he said that the poverty can lead to apostate (being unbeliever). That’s why solving this economic problem is quite urgent.
  • I planned to finish my master in public policy degree and then work at the IslamicDevelopment Bank to foster the development in islam majority countries.
  • right now we are seeing many unfair treatment from the west to muslim country. Start from west intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Libya, and maybe Syria after this, and many more. I just remember what Prophet Muhammad said, “there will be one time, when muslim community is like a meat snatched by dogs”. Why that could happened? Prophet said, “Because muslim at that time, love dunya and afraid of death”. I believe that’s very true. We can see now in many muslim countries a lot of people are just fighting to get more power, more money, and more influence. Look at Saudi Arabia for instance, they don’t ashamed to practice monarchy in the holy land of muslim where prophet Muhammad never teach the use of monarchy.
  • Apart from that, I am very grateful to be a muslim, grateful for the peace inside my heart. I am so grateful to Allah who has made me as a muslim. I am very sad for my friends who are lost. Who don’t have the right thing to hold on. They just udder-ed by many things happened in life.
  • Allah, please make me die a a muslim. I do really want all my family and frinds can die as a muslim.

Lintasan Pikiran_My Country (I)

  • When most of European countries now have problem with their budget deficit, the challenge in public finance management of Indonesia is in its budget underspent. Underspent? Yes, at the end of fiscal year, Indonesia’s government have surplus in its budget. Somehow this condition is not ideal. when the government had made new debt for that fiscal year to finance its budget deficit, while at the end of the year, most of those debt aren’t used. But we still ‘ve got to pay for the interest which accounted for about 10% of annual budget. There should be reformed in government spending management, to channel the budget so that the trickle down effect of the budget can be realized.
  • However, the target to use this budget (which has grown more than 200% in the last 7 years) doesn’t mean that the quality of spending or specifically, the governance of the spending would be undermined. In the last few years, there are increasing amount of fraud in government spending. As an accountant, I would say improving government internal control system is one of the solution.
  • Besides from the preventing side (internal control system), tackling the fraud in government spending can also be done through improving in government audit (detecting side) and reforming the law enforcement (punishing side). BPK (indonesia’s supreme audit institution) have to strengthen its role and increase its findings follow up rate. Currently, I guess less than 60% of its findings have been followed up, while for GAO USA, its rate is around 80%.