Friday, December 19, 2008

Mahatma Gandhi VS Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mahatma Gandhi [October, 2, 1869- January 3, 1948] once said, “Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors. Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”

What can we learn from these wise remarks? Of course, we have to know that there are some stages in shaping our future. The stages which form the color of destiny we' will get next. These stages can be described as follow; our thoughts will produce the words we express. Then, our words produce the behaviours we act. These behaviors, next, will shape our habits. The habits then lead to our values in life, and finally these values will attract the color of destiny we've got.

What Mahatma Gandhi said above seems to get influence a lot from the ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson [May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882], similar with Gandhi’s remarks , Emerson adviced us, “Sow a thought and you reap an act; Sow an act and you reap a habit; Sow a habit and you reap a character; Sow a character and you reap a destiny.”

Very similar, aren’t they? No matter how similar their ideas are, what we should ponder here is that the thought should be well managed in order to enable it to work effectively for the sake of our goodness. How to keep it that way? I’m completely sure that everybody has known, or at least should have known how. There’s no other way as to keep a careful track of our all senses in order to absorb only the good and the positive things. Why? Since such things will automatically give positive influences to the way we think. At the end, the way we think eventually navigate the kinds of lives we will live. What kind of destiny are you gonna have in the future, my mate? It’s totally up to how well you use your brain to build up the state of your thoughts. If gold you put in it, then the gold you will take out from it . Any ideas?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Palembang got ESC Award!

Ten Cities in ASEAN Receive the ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable City Award

Ha Noi, 8 October 2008

Mr. Nicholas T. Dammen, Deputy Secretary-General at the 11th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment

The ASEAN Ministers responsible for environment presented this evening the ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable City (ESC) Award to ten cities/townships/districts in ASEAN that have made exemplary efforts towards environmental sustainability. The Ministers hoped that the Award, awarded for the first time, will motivate other cities to share best practices and to make even greater efforts to achieve high standards of environmental sustainability.

The Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan in his message for the event stated that “each city that received the Award tells a compelling story of how it has placed environment and nature at the core of city planning, the challenges it faced, and its resolve to ensure the cities remain environmentally sustainable as it develops and modernizes.” He further added that apart from just recognizing their exemplary efforts, the richness of their experience in varied circumstances tells us that there are different models and paths to urbanization and environmental stewardship.

The Ministers supported the “Cool ASEAN, Green Capitals Initiative” proposed by the Secretary-General of ASEAN to encourage efforts by the ASEAN capital cities and other major cities to mitigate climate change through addressing the everyday urban issues faced such as waste management, transportation, creating more green areas and conservation of energy.

The ASEAN Ministers responsible for environment met on 8 October 2008 on the occasion of the 11th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment, and the 4th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. The ASEAN Ministers will also meet with their counterparts from the People’s Republic of China, Japan and Republic of Korea at the 7th ASEAN Plus Three Environment Ministers Meeting on 9 October 2008, and Australia, India and New Zealand at the Inaugural East Asia Summit Environment Ministers Meeting.

Media Release

List of Cities that Received the ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable City Award 2008

  • Brunei Darussalam: Temburong District
  • Cambodia: Municipality of Phnom Penh
  • Indonesia: Palembang City
  • Lao PDR: Luang Prabang District
  • Malaysia: North Kuching City Hall
  • Myanmar: Taungyi City
  • Philippines: Puerto Princesa City
  • Singapore: South West Community Development Council
  • Thailand: Bangkok City
  • Viet Nam: Ha Long City

The View of Palembang City from the top of Mayor's Office on Merdeka Street

Friday, July 4, 2008

Palembang, The Land of Sriwijaya Kingdom

Palembang is the second biggest city in Sumatera after Medan. It is very old, even the oldest city in Indonesia. A few days ago – when this posting written – on June 17, 2008, Palembang celebrated its 1325th anniversary.

This city was founded by Dapunta Hyang Sri Jayanasa, in 683 AD (605 Saka). He was the first king ruled the Sriwijaya kingdom. The center of this kingdom, according to the history, was located in Palimpong, which is known as Palembang nowadays.

Based on the root of the word “Sriwijaya,” we can imagine how great this kingdom was in its golden time. According to Sanskrit Shri means shining, or radiant, and vijaya means victory or excellent. So Sriwijaya means a kingdom which is shining and emerging the victory.

The center of this kingdom – revealed by the France researcher, Pierre-Yves Manguin - was on the bank of Musi river, between Singguntang hill and Sabokingking. Other resources we can use to trace it were many inscriptions founded in and around Palembang. One of them is the Telaga Batu inscription. The shape of this artifact is pentagon with seven heads of cobra. There is a small bowl with a nozzle in the bottom side.

According to archeologists, this artifact was used to assign persons who held important official positions in the kingdom. They swore to be loyal toward the kingdom by drinking the water which was flown through this nozzle. As a tool to appoint the dignitaries, automatically this artifact should be well taken care and kept in the capital of the kingdom.

Based on these facts, there’s no doubt that Palembang has once been the heart of the great kingdom in Asia, the central of Srivijaya, the outstanding and great kingdom with its very powerful naval armada.

It’s obvious that Palembang has already been 14 centuries old now. What an age! Though it’s been very old, it doesn’t mean that it’s weak and powerless, but on the contrary, along this age, this city become more mature in anticipating any changes that take place globally.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Reading Culture

Dear readers, today let me share a little bit about reading culture. Why I bring this topic into the material for today’s posting, the reason is because reading is a crucial thing to do if we want to get the better future. Frankly, I sometimes feel despondent to see my fellow teachers so lazy to read. What can we hope from such teachers!

Let’s learn from Japanese people.

We know how amazing Japanese people are in their reading culture. Wherever they are, in the airport, parks, on the bus, subway, or in waiting rooms, etc, they are busy with their reading activities. Their love for knowledge, science, information and education on the whole deserves to be taken as role model.

People say when they were defeated in the World War II, when the only thing left was just heap of rubble because of the bomb struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when this cherry country was mourning, the emperor Hirohito immediately asked the center of Nippon information, “How many teachers are still alive?”

Imagine, Hirohito did not ask the number of soldiers they had, the fighters, which could still be flown, the warships, which were still seaworthy, or the ammunitions which could be fired, but again, what came out from the emperor’s mouth at that time was, “How many teachers still alive?” Wow, amazing, right?

This is the measurement how well they are aware about the importance of the education for a nation. No wonder we can see how great Japan is now. Due to their education is more quality than others and also spread evenly throughout their nation. Thus it makes their country very independent. They do not depend themselves too much on other countries. On the contrary, many countries, including ours, ask them to be our “shepherd”, almost in all aspects of life, from the infrastructure, vehicles, to the goods products such as computers, games, cosmetics, cell phones, even comic books for children.

We and many other countries in Asia and Africa are really sincere to be sheep driven here and there. Ah, wake up my nation! Wake up my country! … ♫♪Indonesia Raya!.....♫♫ Merdeka!! Merdeka!!...♫♫Tanahku, negeriku yang kucinta!!!!...

Books are the resources of knowledge.

This cherry nation, if we see from the number of books published annually, ranks the first position in Asia, and ranks the third in the world, after United Kingdom and Germany. According to the International Publisher Association Canada, in 2000, United Kingdom published about 110,155 titles of books and placed the first rank. The second was Germany with 80,779 titles. Then, the third rank was Japan with 65,430 titles, and United State held the fourth.

In 1997, Indonesia produced around 5,000 titles of books, but in 2002, noted only around 2,700 titles. Just for a comparison, Malaysia – with a population of 23,522,484 in 2004, and Indonesia with 238,452,952 people in the same year, so only around ten percent of our population – had published 15,000 titles annually. We are still far left behind in book publishing. Why is it so? Any comment?

This big nation should learn from Japan and other modern countries in the reading culture, if we want to catch up with them. Due to the essence of this temporary life is nothing but continuous learning. This is a core of our life journey, never ending improvement so that we can be better from day to day before the death comes.

This is human nature. It is our nature as a human being, the main purpose of our existence in the world. Have you learned and read today? Yes, at least you have read this posting. It is a great thing, my friends! Most people read only 5 or 6 lines, then they give up! Again, congratulations you have read so far!

According to the newest report of some world organization that Indonesia (the 4th biggest population, After China, India and US) is placed rank 39 in reading interest out of 41 countries researched. It means that there are only two countries behind us. What a shame!

It is the fact, which should be made us stimulated to improve our love toward reading. Since just through the reading quality books, we can bring this country to a better future, a richer and more quality life. I agree with Tantowi Yahya, an Indonesian reading envoy, he advised, “Someone who never read is someone who does not know much, someone who does not know much is so close to the stupidity, and the stupidity is so close to the poverty.” In line with what he said, there is also a Chinese philosophy that runs, “Through reading the poor can become rich, and also through reading, the rich can become elegant”

This is actually a secret. It is not human’s secret, but it is infact the secret of God! Do you know what the first word uttered by Allah S.w.t to our prophet Mohammad SAW? Yes, you are correct. God said “Iqro!” (read!). In your opinion what He ordered to read? What? The holy Qur’an? Sorry, you missed this time. At that time the holy Qur’an did not exist yet, as it was the first verse uttered.

So what? Any other idea? What?? Yes, now you are right. The God commands us to read anything, which is good, not only for ourselves, but also for others. We are asked to read the nature and any sign the God sent. We are ordered to learn through the universe. Learn from everything that God has created, from the world. So simply read any good thing, then our life and the quality of living will turn into the better one.

Okay, my friends, let’s read as many books as possible start from now on. Promise?

Singapore, We, and Thankful

Now, let us fly a moment to Singapore. It is a city country with the small number of people, even smaller than the population of South Sumatran province (in 2004, The population of Singapore was estimated at 4,353,893, meanwhile, South Sumatran population was more than 6, 6 million).

I do not have a special story about this country, but once when I intended to buy a book there, in Kinokuniya bookstore on Orchard Road, (this is a street, which is very important as a shopping tourist area in this small and modern country), I was so amazed to see so many people stand in line to the cashier to pay for the books they would buy. I never see such enthusiastic people in books. Even it can not be compared to the buyers in Gramedia bookstore on Matraman Jakarta (the biggest bookstore in Indonesia).

No need to compare with bookstores in a smaller city. Only two or three people stand in line to buy books, even they do not need to stand in line at all because they can be treated at the same time with two or three cashiers. What can we infer from this tendency?

Why? Is it because we do not have money? Or we still prioritize other things first? A stomach need, for instance? This is a common reason we often hear. Stomach, stomach and stomach! (Ironically, when they come up with this excuse, they just had a meal) Or is it because we do not realize how important the role of knowledge is in our life as intellectual creatures?

Believe it or not, the book should be put as the first priority if we think for a better future, if we want to upgrade our self-quality, if we want to see this nation awakening! If we want to see this republic becomes a great and elegant country! (Apart from whether we buy or borrow them).

Stop thinking only in the physical level, short, superficial, and narrow. It is just as long as physical needs, simply materialism fulfillment. Do you know a wise saying, “Do not give a person a fish, but give him a fishing rod”? This is also applied to our personal life. Provide ourselves with a quality to live a better and meaningful life. Try to switch our mind to a higher level, to intellectual, emotional, or even spiritual level. Any comment?

Perhaps, if we are asked to choose buying pempek (actually, we are not hungry), or buying a book, with the same price, Rp. 25,000, which one do we choose? Or we will not buy either, as we decide to buy bakso (soup with meatballs), pizza or fried chicken; even in doing that, we have to pay some extra ten thousand! Ah, it is definitely for you to decide! Or in other case, if someone is asked to choose reading a ‘nutritious’ book or watching an infotainment which shows a skeleton in the closet of others, which one will he choose? What do you say?

What we choose will determine what we'll get tomorrow! Undoubtedly, the greatness of Japan now (after being completely crushed due the World War II, August 15, 1945), the astounding advancement of Singapore at present (Just get its independence on August 1965), or the amazing progress of the South Korea as we can see nowadays (after dragging their country to awaken due to the crisis they experienced as the impact of civil war from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953), these all are because of the right choices they made in the past, the choices that drove them to the present achievements, to a better condition, to a modern and meaningful life they get now.

The facts above make me ponder and wonder, what on earth happens in my country? Why is it so difficult for us to choose something more constructive? Why is this big nation willing to be overwhelmed by the situation? As if we got high on a moment and false pleasure. Ah, I feel it is so bizarre! Any comment!

Teacher, oh, teacher!

I have found a very touching story about a teacher who sold her body to build a school. I don't know wheter it is a true story or not. I just let you reflect deeply on it

Following is the article I read. Let's ponder, mfy friends.

殷 彩霞 Xia die, she was a hooker, or she was a teacher. She is the most honorable teacher in China. She uses her dirty body, wash through children's heart. A hooker's death, all children cried and attend her funeral; a school drop the national flag for her.

On the funeral of this 21years pretty teacher, headmaster read Xia's diary sadly in front of all the students, she wrote: 'Each prostitution, can help one schooless child; become a mistress once, can rescue a hopeless primary school.'....

Xia lived in a small village of province of Gan Shu 甘肃省. All ladies in this small village, no matter she is pretty or not, went to Southern part of city to earn money. Every spring time, they will come back with money and beautiful cloths. Xia didn't follow after she finished her secondary school. A lot of people don't understand what is she thinking of as she has the pretty face and body. And because of this, her father always scolds her.
When she heard the only primary school in the village needs some teachers, she volunteers herself to become a free teacher. She was a very good student in her secondary school before. Because of this, she passes through all tests easily and became the teacher of the school.

When 1st time Xia walks into classroom, all children were shocked to see a pretty teacher. From then on, the classroom always fills with children's laughter. Classroom -- should call it a hut instead as the wall is made of sticks and cover with leaves as its ceiling. A big stone become their table and the most expensive should be the polished dark-green stone as their blackboard. With this condition, Xia taught thousands of Chinese words and knowledge to her students.

There was wild rain destroyed the classroom of the school and all students become schoolless. The headmaster visits the province's education minister for some money to repair the classroom; he comes back with nothing. Headmaster told Xia that the minister said only will give money if Xia asks for it. Xia never meets any minister before and afraid that she will make the things worst and decided to visit the minister. She walked more than 10km to the province ministry office and sit in a beautiful office in front of the minister. Minister's eyes look hungry and point to a room and said to Xia. Your money is in the room, if you want, follow me. Xia saw a big bed in the room and is the bed that she lost her virgin. Minister raped her.

Her virgin blood drops on the bed sheet and is more reddish than the color of the national flag in the room.

Xia didn't cry, all in her mind are the eyes of all the disappointed students that have no classroom.

She didn't tell anyone about the rape case after she went home.

The next day, with the money that brought back by Xia, all villagers bought some woods and repair the classroom. But whenever there was a heavy rain, the classroom still cannot be used. Xia always tells the students that province ministry department will built a good school for them. In the past half year, headmaster had visited the ministers more than 100 times and never ever gets any money from them. He is the only 1 knows what did Xia did and he can do nothing about it. New semester comes, a lot of student s cannot pay their fees and become schoolless and follow their parents to work. Xia feels sad about that.

When Xia feels that her hope of all students can go to school become hopeless, she drops all her cloths and swears to her naked body that she will use this body to exchange for the children to be able to go to school. She knows that all ladies in the village are working as a prostitute to earn the living and she knows this is a shortcut for her to earn money. She washed herself and say goodbye to headmaster, father, and school. She tights her hair as 2 ponytails and walk to the city. When she leaves, her father smile and headmaster cry....

In the colorful city, Xia is not happy at all, in her mind, there are only broken classroom and sadness and disappointed eyes of students. She walked into a Hair-Saloon, lie down on a dirty bed, and accept her 2nd dirty business. In that night, in her diary, she wrote: 'Minister can't even compare to her 1st customer. At least they pay.'

She sends all her earnings except those for her to live on to headmaster. Headmaster follows her instruction to use the money on the school. People ask about the source of the money and headmaster only answer that it was from some donation of society.
After a while, people knows about the source of money is from the teacher and many reporters would like to interview her and she just refused and the reason is that she is just a prostitute.

With the money, the school changed. First month, there is a new blackboard. Second month, there is wooden table and chair. Third month, all children has their own books. Fourth month, all children has a red tie. Fifth month, no children go to school bare leg.
On the sixth month, Xia comes back. All students welcome her happily and say 'Teacher is so beautiful'... With all student's smiling face, Xia cries... how many tear drops and how many sadness in the past 6 months... she feels worthy when she see all these.
After few days at home, she goes back to city.

Seventh month, they built a ball park. Eighth month, there is basketball. Ninth month, all students has their new pencils. Tenth month, the school has their own national flag; and students raise the national flags daily. At the eleventh month, a land-developer refuses to use condom and Xi pregnant. After abortion, she becomes the developer's mistress. After a few months, the developers dump her because he faced problem on land-value drop in Shenzhen, he didn't pay her any cent.

Xia feels tired, she thinks to go home and go back to the school, but she has yet to fulfill student's dream which are building a concrete classroom and 2 PCs for the students. Because of these, she went back to beg the developer and the developer just refuse to pay anything but only introduce a foreigner to her. Said the foreigner will pay her RMB3000 for 1 night. Think of the wild rain happen few days ago, she tiredly goes to the foreigner's hotel. She swears that she will go back to her home and school after this.

She was killed by the 3 foreigner because of raping. That time she just turned 21years old.

Xia died without fulfill her final wish, which build a concrete classroom and 2 PCs.

A hooker dies, silently, the sky of Shenzhen is still as blue as before, ministers still happily sitting in their office, many expensive cars still running on street, people happily discussing share market, house market value, car value, and movies, music and love story. Youngster try to suicide because of small matters happen between themselves.
At this time, students, teachers and few hundreds of villagers attending the funeral in this small village 'GanShu'

In the funeral, people see a black and white photo of Xia. In the photo, she has 2 pony tails and happily smiles. Headmaster open the diary of Xia and read in front of all students, she wrote: 'Each prostitution can help one schooless child; become a mistress once, can rescue a hopeless primary school...' The national flag drop to its half... Maybe, this is the ONLY national flag drop half because of a GREAT hooker in China’s history.

"Ah, Xia" That is the only remark out from my mouth..