Thursday, June 26, 2014

The cocoa's flowering again!

While the Presidential campaign continues to astonish both foreigners and Indonesians alike with its pandering, double-speak, and charge/counter-charge/counter-counter charge, most people in the provinces are quietly trying to go about the business of keeping body and soul together and taking care of their families.   The unspoken, or maybe murmured, refrain of the general population seems to be “And the choice we have is those two?  Really??”

So we will leave the candidates to their slimy machinations today, and take the 13 hour road trip and then 5-hour boat trip to Simpang Jernih subdistrict, where 24 farmers in two communities are trying to make the cocoa flowering season as productive as it can be.

The beach along the river separating Simpang Jernih village from Pante Kera village
 Town dock, Simpang Jernih :)
The last time the cocoa flowered was in late March/early April, when journalist Michael Bachelard visited Aceh to speak to ex-combatants about the legislative elections.  As you will remember, a cocoa flower is a beautiful thing.

But cocoa farming is not for sissies.  Even the large plantations face a host of problems, from monkeys and wild pigs constantly eating and damaging the pods, to the pollination process itself, which happens on only 2% of all cocoa flowers—if farmers are lucky!  

Midges (small flies) and bats are the only things that will pollinate the flowers and turn them into fruit.  And midges live in the rainforest so will not travel very far out of it—that is why there are so few flowers that get pollinated (only 3 out of every 1,000 flowers gets pollinated) The object is to keep the flowers on the trees for as long as possible, before they drop off.  Here is where the home-made organic fertilizer comes in, which the women spray on the trees, to give those flies and bats a fighting chance.  
Getting the ingredients together

Turning it into mush

The final product, ready to spray: a fertilizer and bad-pest pesticide all in one.

Small, "wilder" plantations like those in Simpang Jernih are becoming more popular because they encourage an "exchange" with the rainforest and its flies and bats.  So the type of farming that JMD is encouraging is actually producing more cocoa per HA than big plantations, because the big farms go far away from the forest and the flies don't travel that far.

So let’s hear it for the flies and bats, and for cocoa farmers, who Robert says are still hanging on here in their ancestral villages only because “they really love cocoa farming.”  The continual destruction of the forest for palm oil (far easier to grow, and completely destructive to the ecosystem) insures that the difficult, methodical and symbiotic practice of cocoa farming will soon be extinct in Indonesia.  One, or both, of these presidential candidates better wise up.  Or they will presiding over a vast, sterile desert.

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
--Shelley, Ozymandius

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wati weighs in on the debate . . .

. . . and I sense a bit of ennui in her response.

I think Jokowi, as in previous debates, gave the more specific answers, but at times he implied that pretty complex problems could be resolved quickly—which is wishful thinking.

Prabowo as usual was inconsistent with his replies. He showed again that he will use whatever it takes to win, regardless of principles.  This debate showed his real character.
Honestly, in the beginning I thought he would change and become a decisive leader. But after analyzing his statements on different issues I really don't trust him. [Phew!  I was wondering when (or if) she would say that. . . ]

How come he criticized and blamed "leakages" while at the same time he took Iocals along during his campaign? Plus he chose Hatta as his running mate? [Wati is referring to a statement made by Prabowo that all the information regarding his military dismissal and allegations of human rights violations were “press leakages” that were just designed to hurt him.  Soon after, there appeared in the local and international media a poster of Prabowo standing in front of a microphone shaking a sanitary pad at the audience, saying “I used this to clean up leakages.”  Charming. And his running mate, no stranger to controversy, is a known blabbermouth.]

How come he said SBY  [Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, current president] has successfully practiced the right type of foreign policy diplomacy when his comments on the South China Sea we so dubious? In this regards please read JP today re Marty’s remarks.

[Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said he agreed with Jokowi’s position that Indonesia was not a claimant to the natural resource-rich South China Sea territory and therefore needed to be cautious in positioning itself amid the worsening regional conflict.  Marty also “tried diplomatically to articulate his understanding of the statement of . . . Prabowo Subianto, that Indonesia was a part of the overlapping sovereignty claims.”]

How come all of a sudden he praised his former father in law [Suharto] when in the past he blamed and made statement that he has nothing in common with that family except that he was once married to one of them.

He followed the adage "the end justify the means." You know, I admired President Soeharto very much and have empathy and sympathy for his tragic life.  [meaning that he led well at first but then faltered; democracy went out the window and corruption ruled the day.  He ended up ostracized and isolated from everyone—which was sort of what he did to Sukarno before him.]  And at times like this I really feel so sad because he is being used again as political commodity by his family.

Plus ca change, my friends . . . .

The 3rd debate: both the policy wonk and the platitudes-lover seem to overplay the nationalist card

I cannot wait to hear what Wati has to say about last night’s debate (the third—how time flies)  but in the meantime, the Jakarta Post, albeit pro-Jokowi, seems to feel that he did even better this time.

He seemed to man up in the foreign policy department, advocating diplomacy but stressing a tough-guy stance on external threats that rivaled Prabowo (and I do mean tough guy; his actual phrase was “I will seriously cause a rumble.”) 

He gave the nod Muslim supporters who’d been lukewarm concerning his ambivalent stance on religion by stating that he would support the establishment of a Palestinian state. And he displayed a degree of “foreign policy wonkiness” that played well with Jakarta elites as well as the younger crowd, while Prabowo stuck to the platitudes of nationalism and national prosperity.
And Jokowi (bless his little heart) told the audience that he would make resource conservation a priority.
Get me the smelling salts.
Yes, yes, we all know they say one thing and do another, but the actual words coming from lips is a BIG deal in this election, and hopefully puts the Aceh provincial government on notice that it may no longer be the big love-fest with the foreign extraction interests if he wins.
Which of course could make said interests pony up lots of anti-Jokowi campaign money in these last 2 weeks.  Hey. It’s what they’d do in the US.
Prabowo was a little more circumspect, saying that he promised to protect the country’s natural resources . . . from foreign control.  He’d allow their elimination . . . as long as it was Indonesia making the money.

Foreign affairs analyst Wiryono Sastrohandoyo said the two candidates attempted to be nationalistic in their views to woo voters, which could scare off foreign investors. “Bringing up this nationalistic sentiment will create fear among foreign investors,” he said.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle’s (PDI-P) presidential candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (R)gave an impressive performance during the third televised debate organized by the General Elections Commission (KPU) on international affairs and defense issues, two subjects considered strong suits for his rival, Gerindra Party’s Prabowo Subianto (L). The debate, which was moderated by an international law professor from the University of Indonesia (UI), Hikmahanto Juwana, focused on international affairs and national defense. JP/Jerry Adiguna

Jakarta Post Summaries (the sound eerily the same)
Prabowo Subianto
The foundation for our foreign affairs and defense is the prosperity of the nation. Foreign affairs will mean nothing if domestically we are weak. If we are poor, then we will not be highly regarded by other nations. Domestic conditions reflect the strength of our foreign policy. Indonesia should secure its national resources as too many of them are flowing overseas. We should improve our domestic economic strength. Indonesia does not want to have enemies; 1,000 friends are not enough but just one enemy is too many.

Joko “Jokowi” Widodo
The foundation of our foreign policy is to be “free and active”. This would be carried out with four strategies: Protect migrant workers; protect natural and maritime resources; improve productivity and competitiveness; and participate in improving regional and global security. Around 80 percent of our ambassadors’ time should be spent on marketing our products. The world’s geopolitics has shifted from the West to the East. This has created a greater chance for Indonesia to play a significant role.

read more:

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Today is World Refugee Day—remember the Rohingya

The majority of the world's refugees live in Asia and Somalia.  The Rohingya from the Rakhine state in Myanmar are among those in the most peril; they have been denied citizenship in their own country and neighboring countries are reluctant to take them in.  They languish in ill-run camps in Myanmar that resemble prisons, with little food, medical care, or freedom of movement.  The UN has issued a series of 30 goodwill videos from celebrity spokespeople urging everyone to assist refugees worldwide in whatever way they can.

There is no celebrity championing the Rohingya.

Please do not forget them.

Excerpts from “Unresolved conflicts leading to prolonged displacement”
Addressing the origins of persecution and statelessness
Stina Ljungdell
June 20, 2014

In the Rakhine State of Myanmar, about 140,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in the aftermath of inter-communal violence in June and October 2012. The majority of them are the Rohingya, with smaller numbers of Rakhine, Kaman and other ethnicities. Most of the Rohingya are living in temporary camps and shelters with restriction on their freedom of movement and a lack of basic healthcare. Reports suggest that they are subjected to different forms of extortion, forced labour and arbitrary taxation including financial restrictions on marriage.

Under the Burma Citizenship Act of 1982, Myanmar has granted citizenship to 135 different ethnic groups, but not the Rohingya. Instead the Rohingya population remains stateless and the Myanmar government constantly reaffirms that this group is not welcome in Myanmar. Therefore, the plight of the Rohingya is twofold -- they are subjected to serious human rights violations and they are also stateless.

Given this situation, thousands of Rohingya have continued to flee Myanmar and sought safety elsewhere. Abuse and exploitation are common along the way and many lose their lives at sea. A statement published by UNHCR last week shows that an estimated 86,000 people, mostly Rohingya, have sailed on boats since June 2012. More than 1,300 have died on the journey and hundreds have been ill-treated in overcrowded camps run by traffickers and people smugglers.

The conflict in Rakhine State in Myanmar has given rise to a regional problem that now spans across Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and India. UNHCR is advocating for these host countries to grant the Rohingya temporary stay arrangements until the situation stabilises sufficiently in Rakhine State for them to return.

Although UNHCR can alleviate the suffering of displaced populations, it takes political decisions to resolve the root causes of conflicts and achieve peaceful co-existence of communities. On this World Refugee Day, let us all urge the international community to pave the way for a peaceful solution which will allow the Rohingya to finally return to the society that they were once part of.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

All eyes (and ears) on the forest: get the chainsaws outta there

 We came upon a little startup company the other day called Rainforest Connection. (  They are trying to get funds to turn recycled cell phones into solar listening devices that can be hidden in the forest and can detect chainsaws (illegal logging) from up to 1k away. Their pilot project was in western Aceh.

In 2011 JMD was asked by Fauna and Flora International ( to develop the direct community support component of their 5-district community forest ranger project, which trained men from the districts surrounding the forest to work as conservation officers.  The object was to have the Aceh government’s department of forestry accept these officers onto the payroll after the two-year project ended.   Well, we all know how that worked—day by day the administration grows less and less fond of spending any money for forest protection. 

But I introduced these two agencies to each other, with what I think was some success.  Rainforest Connection was delighted to find a local colleague/partner in Aceh (they plan to distribute the devices in Africa and South America as well), and FFI staff were impressed by the technology and thought that it might be quite useful in Myanmar, if cell phone coverage costs could be kept down.

Sadly, what everyone agreed on was that even with the combined efficiency of good rangers and chainsaw detection, which allows rangers to catch loggers in the act—the fear of violence and reprisal, combined with the government’s refusal to back up its conservation officers with convictions and fines/jail time, means that Aceh still can’t get out of its own way to save its forests.

ZSL Living Conservation also has a similar citizen-based technology, called “Instant Wild” ( that it is pioneering in Kenya.  These are all wonderful and exciting innovations . . . . but they are all useless unless government officials stop being the lapdogs of the extraction interests that hire the majority of the illegal loggers, who thanks again to the administration have very little alternative if they want to keep their families fed.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Aceh’s three Provinces . . . the answer to Jakarta’s prayers?

I asked J. why he thought that a Jokowi win would result in Aceh splitting into “three provinces.”

Here’s his response:

It happened a while ago.  And of course 3 provinces mean 3 governors. There would be some districts in the west and south that would be called ABAS province. Banda Aceh and all the east area would form “Aceh province.”  Bener Meriah, Takengon and Gayo Luwes would be named ALA province. People from that geographical area were willing to separate themselves from the territory of Aceh and have their own governor and government. But this idea was never approved by Jakarta and parliament. Now it seems that JOKOWI has gotten many party supporters to agree that idea, and many members of parliament are now from Megawati’s party. Some members of he proposed ALA province area won seats on the legislature last month. So it looks like the political atmosphere will be changed a little bit in Aceh, but it will still be under control by Jakarta.

It is strange that the issue of 3 Provinces does not sit well with Jakarta because it is the answer to everyone's prayers. Divide and conquer. Banda could continue to be the most corrupt place in Indonesia and keep its violence to itself, while the other two provinces might be able to get on with business and settle down and become economically viable. A nice dream, anyway.

J goes on:

In Aceh and in my conversation with friends, some people in Aceh are still quite traumatized by the past conflict, and Prabowo is considered a criminal in Aceh. But I think for most people Prabowo’s issue of being a war criminal is secondary. There many people who have said that they will not vote for either candidate.  I have heard others say, “Neither will produce a change for Aceh or for our lives.”


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I vote for the candidate who will stop deforestation in Sumatra

Our new journalist pal Michael Bachelard, who visited JMD’s projects in April, traveled back to Indonesia in May with Greenpeace to witness yet more destruction in other areas of Indonesia, this time at the hands of pulp companies pledging to stop deforestation by 2020, leaving them 6 years to completely gut Indonesia of any forest plant or animal before their “promise” kicks in.

PaperOne's environmental pledge sparks race to clear Sumatran forest
Michael Bachelard, The Age, May 30, 2014

The big cut: clearing of peatland forests on Padang Island. Photo: Greenpeace/Ulet Ifansasti

The website of PaperOne features pictures of tropical forests and a claim that the copy paper company is "protecting high conservation values". 
On the ground in Sumatra, though, the chainsaws and excavators are rushing to mow down tropical forest on delicate peat swamp to feed fibre to its mills.

As consumer pressure built on companies to improve their environmental credentials, PaperOne's maker, Indonesian company Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), announced in January a commitment to stop logging "high conservation value" areas and peat swamp, to stop establishing plantations by the end of this year and to get all its fibre from plantations by 2020. 
It formed a partnership with environmental group WWF and announced the endorsement of the Norwegian ambassador (whose country has pledged $1 billion towards ending deforestation in Indonesia).
On the fragile environment of Padang Island, off the east coast of Sumatra, though, the deadline has prompted a new effort to clear what is left.

"APRIL's commitments mean nothing," says Zul Fahmi, Greenpeace's forest campaign leader for Indonesia. "It's just confirmation that they still intend to destroy forests until 2019."
 The company's big competitor, Asia Pulp and Paper, won plaudits last year for stopping the use of natural timber in its mills.

In January, APRIL, owned by Chinese-Indonesian businessman Sukanto Tanoto, responded with a new "sustainable forest management policy". But, under the policy, it can keep cutting forest inside its concessions until the end of the year and still use mixed tropical hardwood – taken from natural forest – until 2020. APRIL has not said where it will source that wood except from "limited-term suppliers vetted by APRIL" to ensure compliance with their policy.
Campaigners fear that, by 2020, too much of the Sumatran forest, with its endangered orangutans, tigers, rhinoceros and elephants, will be gone.

Late in May, this reporter saw from the air a dozen or more heavy machines at work on peat swamp on the low-lying island off Sumatra's fire and haze ravaged Riau region.
Canals, which are dug to drain the swamp, speared deep into forest, dividing the island into geometrical agricultural segments. Between the canals, every plant except individual ramin trees (which are protected) are cut to the ground, dragged into piles and loaded on barges.
Villagers say monkeys and wild pigs are starving and seeking food on their land, and that chemicals sprayed to kill weeds have also killed the fish in the river.
Hectares of uniform acacia plantation will replace the tropical rainforest.

Indonesian law is supposed to protect carbon-rich peat, but it does not. The peat on this island – 15 metres deep in some places and laid down over thousands of years – will drain, dry and decompose, releasing its millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Dry peat is also susceptible to the burning that releases the toxic haze that has coated Singapore and Malaysia  in recent years. 
In nearby APRIL concessions in Riau, it is clear from the air that extensive areas have been recently burnt, though there is no suggestion the company lit the fires.

Scientists believe it is also a medium-term investment, at best. As the peat on Padang Island decays, the land subsides, meaning that, in 50 years, the island is likely to be at or under sea level and useless for cultivation.
According to APRIL's spokesman, all this work is legal and fully in accord with the company's own commitments.

"We are currently developing our last new plantation in an area of Pulau Padang licensed by the Indonesian government," the spokesman said. "Our policy mandates that the work will be completed by December . . . So if one of your questions is 'are you violating your own policy?', the answer is 'no'."
Trees and animals, though, are not the only thing at stake. Padang Island contains 13 villages, some of whose inhabitants have protested for years about the destruction of their forests and, with it, their livelihoods
In 2011, residents went to Jakarta to protest against the politicians who issued the concessions – 28 villagers sewed their lips shut.

Until recently, APRIL observed a moratorium on levelling the trees in parts of their concession area because of local concerns. The company spokesman said, however, that had recently ended because "the government subsequently gave the go-ahead to proceed".

This was news to Budi Wardhana, the director of sustainability at WWF, which has joined the company's stakeholder advisory committee to guide its new policy. Budi says APRIL's policy is good, but "the implementation is different from the policy as it’s written".

WWF has already drawn attention to what it sees as a breach in a high conservation value area in Borneo. It also intends to investigate the work on Padang Island, Budi said.  The company, according to him, is "still in the phase of learning by doing". 

On May 17, a group of locals went into the concession area to protest against that a disputed area of forest was being razed when there was supposed to have been more discussion. One villager, Ares Fadila, was punched in the head by police.
"The villagers asked [the concession holder] to stop their canal construction works, but the contractor said they couldn't because they have a deadline to meet," Zul said.
The deadline, obviously, is when the company will start living up to the pledge PaperOne spruiks on its green-tinged website. 
But, for the forest inside its concession on Padang Island, that will already be too late.

Michael Bachelard flew over Padang Island and other concession areas on a trip organised by Greenpeace.

For Aceh voters, one candidate is just as rotten as the other

Here’s the first report from our “average citizens” in Aceh whom I asked to tell me what people were saying about the candidates, and how they personally felt about both Prabowo and Jokowi.

Hi Ibu Sara--
 It is very difficult to make a decision for this election. Currently all media and social media are releasing black campaigns. To me this is really disgusting for a presidential election. Everyone claims that they are good candidates but actually they are not.

Currently in Aceh, the chief of Party Aceh declared that they will make Prabowo the president of Indonesia. According to rumors I read in the local Aceh newspaper a week ago, Party Aceh received one billion rupiah when they campaigned for the governor election and now Party Aceh will return it by campaigning for the Gerindra party for Prabowo to be the next Indonesian President. 

In Aceh, especially in Banda Aceh and Bireun, from my personal observation, people do not care about this election, even though Prabowo’s banner is everywhere and Prabowo visited Aceh last week for more campaigning. 

As far as “word on the street:” people are still confused about who to vote for.  There is no pressure yet from Party Aceh; everything looks calm still.  Neither candidate is who people in Aceh want. And at this time it seems that people are not frightened by Party Aceh for Prabowo [meaning there does not seem to be any voter intimidation yet].
I asked I. and S. and they both said they will not go to vote but will stay at their office on election day (July 9th).

You wrote, “Jokowi is rather weak and being controlled by Megawati, but he has a progressive agenda and is truly promoting diversity.  Prabowo is a war criminal whose supporters include very fundamentalist groups who do not believe in free speech or equality and are very much against the idea of Pancasila even though Prabowo says he supports it.” Although I hear these statements a lot on the street, I don’t know if they are true or not, because both of them claimed that they will do what they say (and I don’t trust this).

Overall from my personal opinion, both candidates will be very dangerous for the country and especially for Aceh. If Jokowi wins the election, people in Aceh say that Aceh province will be divided in 3 provinces, and t most of Aceh’s citizens do not want this to happen.  
If Prabowo wins the election, the GAM (Party Aceh) will have more power to control all of Aceh, and Aceh citizens will start complaining about this situation. 

I don’t know who I will vote for. I’m still waiting and seeing.  Currently I don’t like either.

Thanks Ibu Sara--

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

“Authentic power is service.” –Pope Francis

Since most of the “formal” news on the elections that I get comes from global or activist news sources geared towards the “intellectual elite” of Indonesia, including the expat community, I’ve asked JMD’s team of intrepid “men on the street” to ask the general public—teachers, students, businesspeople, farmers, the unemployed, housewives, coffee collectors, fruit sellers, veterinarians, low-level civil servants, beauty parlor owners, factory workers, laborers, etc.—what they think about the candidates, and whether they believe that in Aceh these days, voting for who you truly believe in is a possibility, or if fear of reprisal from certain party “enforcers” will hopelessly skew the results.

But in the meantime, here is a thoughtful article from the Post that I believe is applicable to all voters, no matter their party or economic status. The only thing I would find fault with is that the author stresses that critical thinking (the assembling of facts in order to make a decision) needs to be taught in schools.  She’s right, but this implies (correctly) that it is currently not being taught—and so one can infer that many will go to the polls without a good sense of why they are voting the way they are. Not only that, the prospect of getting an education in the rural (read most) parts of Indonesia is very, very slim.  So even though the points below are indeed valid, a great many of this election’s voters are not familiar with critical thinking skills, and must rely on their own strength of character and ideas of justice, fairness and leadership, when they make their choices in July.  Hopefully the winning candidate will choose universal public education as a focus.  But an educated population is harder to control.  So we will see.

 Critical thinking at this critical time
By Carolyn Baytion-Sunaryo,
June 16 2014
The moment of truth in the political arena is right before our very eyes. The future of this country is in our hands, and what will become of it will depend on what we do or don’t do today.

The mass media and cyberspace are bombarding us with opinions, from anyone who wants to share his/her views for anyone who cares to listen, and touting this or that presidential candidate to vote for.

It is difficult for ordinary people like us to judge an issue or to pinpoint who is telling the truth because there are many sides to an issue and anyone can present the truth depending on what the speakers want the public to believe. This is the reason why we need to develop critical thinking so that we can make the right decision.

Based on a definition put forward by Moore and Parker (2001), we exercise critical thinking when we carefully examine what is stated to be true and decide whether or not we should accept it, and how confident we are in our acceptance or rejection.

How many of us spend time thinking about the statements uttered by our politicians? We tend to immediately form opinions without much thinking, and this prevents us from uncovering the truth. The decision that we make, not only in choosing our country’s leaders but in work and in our personal lives as well, should be backed up by evidence, otherwise it can lead to a wrong decision that may have a disastrous effect on our life.

According to Martin Luther King, Jr., the American civil rights leader, it is in school that the skill of critical thinking is developed, alongside the development of skills in reading and writing. It is important, then, for schools to instill in their students the desire to seek out the facts to support one’s opinion and to make good decisions.

In school, there should be balance between the teaching of facts and stimulating students to think. One can’t argue without facts, and facts are useless if not used in decision-making. Some of us just come out with our opinions without any basis.

We think that if we are good at getting our argument across, without supporting it with facts, that is enough.

So in school, having to go through theories and find out and test their applicability would be important to encourage students to develop their skills in critical thinking.

Aside from lecturers encouraging their students to openly air their opinions in class, debates should also be held.

This way, students would be trained to conduct research on a particular issue, present their side of the issue and participate in a healthy exchange of ideas.

If we exercise critical thinking in choosing our president, what qualities do we need to look for?

Chris Lowney writes that the leadership principles that have guided the Jesuits (male religious congregation of the Catholic Church) for more than 450 years include four core pillars: self-awareness, ingenuity, love and heroism.

Only leaders who possess both intelligence and character can adopt these four core leadership pillars. Without intelligence, self awareness and ingenuity, they would be difficult to achieve, and without character one would have difficulty in being concerned about others and being passionate.

If we exercise critical thinking in choosing our president, what would this leader look like?

In Lowney’s latest book on Pope Francis, the first Jesuit priest to become Pope, he wrote that one of Francis’ many admirable qualities was remaining true to who he really is. It takes courage to be who we really are, especially in business and politics where appearance and worldly possessions are considered more important than a person’s character.

Lowney quoted the first black president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela: “My greatest enemy was not those who put me in prison. It was myself. I was afraid to be who I am.” I should confess that is my greatest fear, too.

I now realize the heavy burden that we leaders have in remaining true to what we are committed to doing for the good of our organizations — or for the presidential candidates for the good of our country — because many people tell us what kind of person we should be to be a good leader. When we become what others want us to be, we have ceased to be a leader.

To remain true to theselves, according to Lowney, the Jesuits have been trained to make a habit of self-examination, which should also be applied to other leaders so as to be able to lead with integrity and character.

As leaders, we need to accept that we have weaknesses; and to function effectively, we need to struggle every day to fight ourselves not to give in to our impulses.

Being a leader is a calling, like being called for the priesthood in the Catholic religion. A leadership position is not to be sought; it will be bestowed upon the right person at the right time.

When we choose our leaders, we should choose one who knows that being a leader is to serve. We have been shown by the examples of Mandela and Francis that being true to oneself is the key, and that true leaders possess power, which in the words of Pope Francis and as shown by his actions, “authentic power is service”.

Let’s stick to the facts when judging and scrutinizing our candidates’ platforms.

The real winner in this upcoming presidential election will be the Indonesian people, if and only if we exercise critical thinking.
The writer is director for operations and programs at the GS FAME, Institute of Business in East Jakarta. The opinions expressed in this article are solely her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her institution.