Wednesday, January 19, 2005

What I've learned so far from Tsunami

1. Knowledge is the key
When I read the story of Tilly Smith and the people of Simeulue island, Indonesia, it confirmed that knowledge is the key. They are survived because of their knowledge on what to do when tsunami happens.

Tilly, a 10 years old British kid saved about hundred of people in Phuket, Thailand, by remembering her class discussion on earthquake and tsunami just before the Christmas vacation. In stead of running to the sea when the sea level subsided like lots of the tsunami victims did, she urged people to retreat to a higher ground.

The same thing happened in Simeulue which located only 40km from the epicenter of the earthquake on Dec. 26th 2004. The people of Simeulue remembered folktale about tsunami in the area decades ago, they ran to a higher ground as soon as there was an earthquake, as the result of it, only a handful people died. Compared this story with those in Banda Aceh and Meulaboh where a lot of people running toward the sea to collect those fishes or to admire the scenery which led to thousands of dead.

It is sad to admit that in a country that lies on the 'ring of fire' such as Indonesia, there were no public training/drilling what so ever that have anything to do with any catastrophes. Sure tsunami is mentioned in, I believe, elementary and middle school's geography books, but there are no drills. Not even a fire drill for that matter. I hope in the future more will be done to prepare the mass during a calamity.

2. Show me the money
Yes, it's wonderful to see that the whole world united to help the victims of Asian tsunami. People and government are pledging money, so far more than $1billion and $4billion respectively. But there's a catch. Not all pledges materialized. It happened time and again after big disasters. Some just simply didn't deliver what they promised. Some diverted the money from, for example, existing loans, or other emergencies.

In the Bam, Iran disaster, out of $1.1billion pledged by both governments and organizations only $17.5million had been materialized. After hurricane Mitch disaster in Latin America in 1998, out of $3.5billion promised by foreign governments and $5.2billion by international organizations only less than one third had been sent. Similar scenario happened in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and other countries hit by disasters.

Based on these incidents, UN asked governments and organizations to keep their promises. They need to show the world 'the money'. So, those of you out there who pledged to donate something, please keep your promise and donate what you pledged.

3. Where all the money goes
The other night there was this discussion on Belgium TV about donations. It was said that organizations such as OXFAM takes about 5% of the donation to cover their administration expenses while other organizations usually take about 10 to 15%. I found it quite fair, after all those expenses had to be paid somehow and they (and their people) did all the works.

However, I'm not sure about paying the salaries of foreign consultants who are hired by reconstruction projects like the ones of World Bank. Usually their salaries are paid by the money we got from World Bank Loans, so in fact, we are screwed twice. After the tsunami destroyed everything, we got loan that we have to pay back with interest. Then we have to paid foreigners more than we paid our people to give us consultation.

Then there is this problem about donors didn't keep their promised as I mentioned earlier.

On other occasion, there was this guy from a charity organization on Dutch TV who said there were times when he had no other choice but to pay some corrupt individuals in order to get the aid to the victims! I've heard similar stories from people back home, on how some people are using this calamity for their own gain, by asking for a bribe, or selling donated things. My gosh, how low can you go?

There are also some problems with logistic, for example in the case of Bam, Iran; they sent summer tents instead of Winter tents that is/was needed. There were cases of shipments of expired medicines to calamities locations before, all of which costs time and money.

So I wonder how much money ended up by those who needed.

4. The line between giving assistance and taking advantage is blurring
World Help, a US based Christian charity, planned to spread their evangelistic work in Indonesia by relocating Acehnese orphans mostly, if it's not all of 300 of them, are Moslem, to Christian orphanage near Jakarta. Their old website stated: "We do not want to just distribute help and leave. We are committed to bring help and hope to these children. We want them to know that Jesus loves them and plant Christian principles as early as possible in their age. To accomplish this means long-term commitment." The acts confirmed what had feared by Moslem that some missionary group would exploit the tragedy and tries to convert people.

The group's president Reverend Brewer is quoted saying, "It's no different than what Mother Teresa did by taking Hindu orphan children and placing them in a Roman Catholic children's home in [Calcutta], and she won the Nobel Peace Prize for doing that." Well, it IS different than what Mother Teresa did, she helped people. Period. Unlike World Help, She didn't help people in exchange for something else. In fact she said:

There is only one God and He is God to all;
therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God.
I've always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu,
a Muslim become a better Muslim,
a Catholic become a better Catholic.

Now, in World Help’s new site it is said: ‘Since we are unable to assist the children in Indonesia whom we had originally hoped to help, we will also be identifying children in other countries who have been orphaned and need immediate assistance.’
Isn’t it strange? I mean if you just want to help for the sake of helping, you can still help those children; Just don’t ask them to convert, you are not helping anyone by doing that, you just make things more difficult for those who are there to help.

Thinking of this, I can't help but wondering the ulterior motives of the people who said they want to help.
Does the USA help us because they can, or are they trying to send out better image across Moslem world?
Does Saudi Arabia help us because they can, or because they didn't want to be called stingy and doesn't care about their Moslem brothers in Aceh or their helps' families in Srilanka, Bangladesh or Thailand?
Does Front Pembela Islam help Aceh because they can, or are they trying to sell softer image?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

So, how much did Saudi give?

It bothers me the fact that Saudi Arabia didn't react until Dec 29th and give $10M donation to tsunami's victims. I mean lots of their foreign workers come from countries affected by the tsunami: Bangladesh, Srilanka, Thailand, and Indonesia to name a few. Therefore I was expecting a speedy reaction from Saudi's government. After all without those cheap foreign workers what would happened to Saudi daily life?

I should also point out that the tsunami occurred on Sunday. Sunday is the day where while rest of the world are not working, those people in middle east are actually on working day! But no, they had to wait until Dec 29th, while Israel and other countries shipped their aid as early as on the 27th.

Thankfully, Saudi's people have more compassion than their government and collected an impressive $82M during a telethon, which is about $5.4 per citizen in absolute terms. Remember, not everyone in Saudi is a billionaire, in fact Saudi's percapita income is about $8500 per year according to Atlas method.

Then, I stumbled across this article on Indonesian newspaper citing that Saudi gave $800M in cash and materials (food & tools). While on Saudi Arabia information Resource there's no such information other than the Saudi'S people and government raised more than $100M from a telethon, Saudi government pledged $30M, and Saudi's petroleum company Aramco gave $2M.

I wonder how do they come up with $800M? Do they add relief packeged from Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank of $500M to Saudi's donation?

So, how much did Saudi actually give?

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Property rights & Planologi

Melihat gedung² yang habis terbawa tsunami di daerah yang terkena musibah, aku kepikiran bagaimana dengan property rights disana. Normalnya, bila kita memiliki tanah, makanya hal itu tercatat di badan pertanahan (CMIIW) serta kita sendiri memiliki sertifikatnya. Setelah tsunami, bukan tidak mungkin catatan kepemilikan itu hilang, baik yang ada di si pemilik tanah, maupun di badan pertanahan.

Pertanyaannya: Bagaimana membuktikan kepemilikan setelah bencana? Apa konsekuensinya?

Bila tidak ada ahli waris yang tersisa mungkin tidak masalah, tapi bila masih ada ahli waris, apalagi masih anak², bukankan hal itu amat berharga baginya?

Apakah artinya kepemilikan tanah menjadi milik negara?
Bila jadi milik negara, mungkin ada bagusnya juga untuk perencanaan kota saat rekonstruksi nanti. Selama ini kota di Indonesia kan perencanaannya boleh dibilang tidak jelas. Entah masalah saat perencanaannya sendiri atau saat pelaksanaannya.

Alangkah indahnya bila Banda Aceh nantinya memiliki perencanaan kota yang terbaik di Indonesia di kemudian hari. A blessing in disguise...

note: menurut kabar, data kepemilikan tanah di Meulaboh selamat, tapi di Banda Aceh terendam air sebagian

The Blogger's Tsunami Challenge

Tas of the Loaded Mouth is challenging bloggers and bloggers reader to donate to a charity of their choice. The goal is to reach $5000 $10000.

I did my part by donating to giro555, so if you haven't done it... go for it!

note: on Jan 5th the amount donated was : $8180

looking for someone missing?

Southeast Asia Tsunami-MISSING PERSONS is a site with pictures of missing person due to the tsunami last Sunday.

For more information you can try:

For victims (injured, death or still missing) in Phuket:
ps: one needs a strong stomach to search the 'death' section

For victims in Aceh:

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Giro 555 voor Asian's tsunami victims

You can also donate via giro 555 for the victims of the tsunami.

Make it to: Samenwerkende Hulp Organisaties
Mauritskade 9
Den Haag
IBAN: NL57PSTB0000000555
BIC (swiftcode): PSTBNL21
Bank: Postbank Arnhem,Nederland

As for Dec. 30th 2004, giro555 has collected €9.3 million plus another €5 million from the ministry of development.