Battling Corruption

“It is well-known that corruption is widespread in Indonesia, both in government and in businesses. Please describe one major cause of corruption and a concrete strategy for addressing it in order to reduce the corruption in Indonesia.”

Written by: Bryna Budiman

Corruption is often a difficult issue to handle, but what I believe is in this quote by Gandhi, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”  In order to change society, you must start from within first. The prevalent cause in corruption would be the situation of the people in Indonesia, most of the people of Indonesia are in a state of poverty, which can create greed in officials who did not have enough income per say, and to that, are the mindsets of people which agree that corruption is culturally acceptable. 

From the background I will focus on one issue that is taxation, from taxation, government can acquire funds, which are needed to improve poverty and increase the living standards of the people in Indonesia. Tax officials have linked many data from our E-KTP, tax file number, banking records, and land title and asked questions for instance, if we had an income of Rp 100 million/ month, and we go to Paris every week, isn’t there a discrepancies? In order to solve this problem tax officials need a team of data analyst to act on discrepancies, and this team needs to be clean, how to achieve that? I was inspired by Lee Kuan Yew’s way of battling corruption; he used the “carrot and stick approach”, where he raised salaries of government officials, to limit the need for officials to be corrupt or to have greed as they already have a high income.  Firstly, I believe Indonesia should do the same and create rewards for the team of data analyst for taxation.

Secondly, I believe that the will of Ministry of Finance and the President plays an important role here. It is important for the President have a vision and political will for Indonesia to be a bustling and robust economy. He must communicate with his team and translate his mission step. Not withstanding that, in order to change the country, the President must realize what needs to be changed in himself, may it be more eloquent and understanding like Obama, or strict and disciplined like Lee Kuan Yew, or maybe has clear direction like Margaret Thatcher. The flaws in oneself must be improved daily, and to say it is not only in great leaders that one should change himself, but I say it all happens to ourselves. Whether we want to or not, in order to create a change in our family, our friends, our city, our country, it must first start with ourselves. 

Corruption is not an easy thing to handle, and is one of the major problems of our country. If I may give an example of changing oneself, I used to be a weak person, meaning I did not have the tools or experience to become strong. Years before, I was in an energy-consuming event, I was tired and did not have the will, but I kept pushing on, with the support of those around me, and came out a mature person than I will ever be if I did not tackle that event. Presidents have challenges themselves, if they are willing to tackle this corruption, with a vision in their mind, starting from looking at their flaws and weaknesses, acknowledging them, getting support from their team, I strongly believe Indonesia will come out a blooming country in the future.

Thirdly,I must also emphasize on the mindset of our people, where they tend to accept their fate, or avoid confrontation-musyawarah, or the thinking that everything will be okay in the end, also that culturally, we could not confront someone. The Indonesian people should be more educated so that they know that corruption is an issue to be dealt head on, and this is where the role of NGOs come on, where they give check on government, whistleblowing tips where they will put that in media. These NGOs have to push for changes to make their voices heard. 

In the future I believe, that the middle class will also play a role, and as their incomes increase, they would ask, why am I paying tax and the other people are evading, the voices of this middle class people would get bigger, and then we will come to tackle the issue of corruption.

What I want to emphasize here is corruption is a complicated issue, and it may take years to change this, however, if we look inside ourselves, acknowledge our flaws and face our problems, together with the help of our team, united we can solve corruption by raising income for officials, and changing the mindset of our people. It is a tough fight, and I am not saying it is not like fast food, which can be done in minutes, but it requires a process, same like when we undergo a process of learning in this life, there may be ups and down during the process, but in the end it will be worthwhile. I may take an example of a student, he would like to go to top universities, but then he have to be hardworking, discipline, committed and motivated. In battling corruption, the President must have all these qualities, in the short run, it may be tiring, time-consuming, but throughout the process, he may learn something from it, and grow and develop Indonesia as a country. 

To finish my views, what I answered here is to what I know and to what I perceive can happen, I believe Indonesia has potential, true, it may be just a couple of islands, but to believe in one country is the first step for it to move and strive, as it is in oneself. Somebody once told me, if you don’t believe in yourself, then who will believe in you? To finish, believe and change comes from within.

Treat your friendship as yourself

I have a Chinese friend in class who told me about this saying: “君子之交淡如水” (jun zi zhi jiao tan ru shui); this means virtuous men will treat the friendship flowing as water. I guess love for someone first comes from friendship. I am amazed how my Chinese friends have a deep understanding of this. That having someone as a partner is having deep friendship with someone. He also advises me to treat that friendship as you treat yourself, to love that person as you love yourself as you do not get overwhelmed with the emotions. That is good advice. Sometimes, the emotions overtake us, and it can cause pain and other things. 我希望我那朋友会得到真心的爱因为我当成他是个好朋友!

Bringing my life plans

I drew this with pencil and outlined it with Visconti rollerball and coloured it with gouache paint and coloured it with Faber Cast ell Polychromous Pencil Colour.

As in my previous post, at the end of my education in Universitas Pelita Harapan, a lot has happened. I tend to rush things, wanting to run in this race of life, instead of taking it step by step and to walk by Him. But He has been good, always good. I was upset when I did not get accepted into Ivy League schools. I was disappointed and very upset. However, he provided a way and now I will be finishing my LLM at University of Sydney. And also, I have been applying for jobs. I do not know what He wants for my life, but I know it is for my good and for His glory as stated in Romans 8:28.

I prayed in 2015 that I hoped to be able to apply my legal skills and hone my writing and art skills too. He has been good, and always good. The education I am doing and the blog I have been starting to write has indeed fulfilled my desires unto His plan for my life. I do not know what else He has planned for Him, but it is fulfilling indeed to trust Him in every aspect of my life. In John 15:4, God asks us to remain in Him, so that He may remain in us and that we may bear fruits. I pray that I may bear fruits that may be a pleasing aroma to God and also that I may be a blessing to others.

I hope one day I can help people using my legal, art and writing skills. I do not know what the future holds, but God holds me. In Song of Solomon, the writer says, “I am my Beloved, and His love is for me.” May I be reminded of this truth and be grounded in His love. I pray also to whoever is reading this that you may trust God and surrender all your life to Him because He knows what you need and want, and that He always wants the best for you and knows what is good for you. After a long journey of distrust, I finally realised that God never meant harm for me. He always has loved me, and will always love me, and will never leave me, let alone give snakes to His children, how more O’ friends He will give to us as our earthly father would give us bread…O’ How deep is your love O’ Lord. Help us to trust You and love You more day by day. In Jesus name, Amen.

True Love

This is an interpretation of David Bowman’s painting of Jesus Christ Hugging Child

Jesus loves all His children, but who will walk with Him? The Holy Spirit pushes me, speaks for me, for the Holy Spirit desires Jesus. I always try to find something that could fill me, the yearning to be loved. As I searched everywhere, I found no fulfilment. It is only in His embrace, that I am filled with love and grace. I had no desire whatsoever at first. But He kept loving me, tenderly, passionately, gently. When I searched for love, I found nothing in this world. Only in Jesus, I can say… His embrace, His acceptance. His love is the fulfilment of my soul and desire. Let this be our prayer in this Easter.

Dear Jesus,
I want to put you first in my life. Let nothing hold first place in my heart except you Jesus. Let me be your vessel so that your love can pass through me and into me. Let me walk with you and be closer to you each day and let me love you more and more and passionately. Father, I am your child, and I want to be entrusted by You to do Your will. Use me for your glory and always embrace me with love and grace each day. Give me joy and peace and never let me go. I want to be like You, Father. I want to walk with You. And I want to be transformed. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Let this Easter be a reminder of the yearning of a Father who loves His child and waits for His child to be in His embrace, and His wish for the child to love Him, revere Him and grow with Him. Someday, we will be united with the bridegroom. Let us prepare ourselves for that day.

Loving Him

I drew this with Carand’ache mechanical pencil and painted it with Kuretake watercolours layering it one by one

Many people seem to confuse what this verse from Deuteronomy 6:5 says ,”Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Is it a linear position where we put Him first and disregard the other important things in our life such as family, relationships, work school. To answer that, it is linear but linear in the sense that it branches out. Putting God first in your heart does not mean disregarding other parts of your life such as family relationships, school, work. Loving Him means involving Him in every parts of your life, this is where the linear position is is linear like a tree but branches out with the roots, involving every part of your life to the root of it and giving it all to God. This means being honest with Him what are your desires, pain, hurt, disappointments.

It is not easy to put God first in which we surrender every detail and parts of our lives to Him. We think it is much easier to handle it ourselves. Like decision of which school to go to, what job should I apply to, whom should I marry, and other things. But we must remember He has a good plan for those who love Him such in Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” It is hard to surrender and trust Him with all our plans, but isn’t it much harder to handle it alone?


The Books that Save Me

I am a girl. I am a daughter. I am a student. Beyond all that, I have a secret. A secret that lies within the library books, a secret which is a stigma yet a power which made me be a better person. As a little girl, I would be immersed in the words of Dahl, Wilson and Blyton. My imaginations of these childhood fantasies were vivid and real, one thing books does to me is that it makes me calm. I have not realized the danger of my imagination.

It began on a rainy day; I did not get what I wanted. Suffice to say, it made me upset. My imaginations in this case were a danger for my mental and physical state. Thoughts came rushing in my mind, pulling me away from reality. It was a deep and dark moment. I did not wake up for school. I did not want to meet people. I was alone and scared of slipping away into the depths of abyss. My parents were worried. They did not know what to do with their beloved only child.

As the rationality of her mind was overshadowed by her imagination, she turned to a safe haven where she could unleash all her disappointments and shame in the place where she could call home, the library. Here she learned about the power of books in shaping and correcting her imagination. She stumbled upon the book “Unquiet Mind”. She read this book about a psychiatrist who had mental illness. She did not know what she had then, but somehow she could relate and be comforted that at least in the world, there was someone who felt like she had, hopeless and going crazy, for there was no end in the voices inside her head.

Her grades were falling. She had fewer friends. No one would like to approach her because she was so gloomy. Her family tried to help but they could not understand why she was like this. She could not stop the feeling of being trapped in darkness. She could not stop her mind from racing with negative thoughts. But alas, all she could do was go to that safe haven, the library. Again, she found solace and comfort in books. The smell of paper, the crispness, the texture, everything about a book makes her calm and seem to relax her. She read C.S Lewis in “Mere Christianity” and learned that above all, there is someone there, someone greater than all of us, looking over her.

I am in my car. The sun shone on my head and I feel comforted. I do not know why but I feel that the books I have been reading are like speaking to me. It made me realize that however bad it may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed that, quoted from the book “Theory of Everything” by Jane Hawkings. I had lost hope. I thought no one would understand how I feel, how trapped I feel. Books are like a friend to me. They speak to me when I read, it is a two-way street, and it is interactive. How can I explain what books are like to me? It is just like love on a sunny day eating ice cream.

Then again, this girl became upset again. Her thoughts poison her very soul. She was desperate to seek new hope in her despair. She happen to stumble on the passage in Psalm 88, it exactly resembles her state of mind and soul. The book spoke to her, it gave her comfort and made her realize one thing. There are many people in the world that suffered like her. She thought that she was the only one who is suffering.

Everyday, this girl goes to the library after classes. Because not only did she gain comfort, she acquired the thing called friendship. It changed her perspective in life, and allowed her to accept who she is, despite her failures and weaknesses. The books told her indirectly to love and appreciate herself, and not to look at her suffering as though it is the worst thing that happened in the world, because let’s face it, there are many people who suffered more.

I am back again to the library. I do not know why, but now my thoughts stopped racing. They seem to flow like the water, I accept my thoughts but I am not again alarmed by my imagination. I learned that imagination is a wake-up call to my conscience, which leads me back to sanity. Though sometimes I feel upset, it does not drag me away from life. I fell down and got back up again. I could not say whether those books are God’s way of talking to me, but I learned one thing from these books, that God has a good plan for those who believe in Him. Whatever He plans, it is the best of us, even though sometimes He allows suffering to happen in order for good to come out of that.

This girl has grown beyond measures. She has learned to identify her suffering with the suffering of others. She has learned that even after a tragic event, people can still succeed in what they do. She has learned that despite all, God is there. What all of you may not realize is that, she has depression. It is now common among teenagers to experience that. However, some teenagers never recover from that state. She is lucky enough to have advices coming from the books in the library that brought light into her life. Books are written words and ideas from different kinds of people. She learned from these various authors the value of accepting yourself and despite of having difficulties, to have hope. Beyond those pages of books, she knew in her heart that someone, up there was watching over her. For being able to show her that sufferings are part of life, and for showing that she is loved, she learned to be kind to herself, throughout it all, the library was her sanctuary, the books were her mentors, but above all He is overseeing things to happen, He made her read those books, and He made her realize that she was valuable beyond measure.


A Stigmatised Issue Dealt by Women

Women and charities are interrelated. Based on a study by Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the University of Indiana, women are as much as 40% likely to donate than men. (TIME, Newcomb, 2011) Women are sympathetic. Therefore, they tend to donate to the organizations they feel strongly about. One of the main organizations is the mental health organization created by women. WISH is a mental health charity founded in 1987 in the UK. They provide services to women at prisons or hospitals and help them come back into the community. The stigma about women getting sick and becoming mentally ill is an issue. More mental health conference are held, one of them is lead by International Association for Women’s Mental Health.

Imagine the pain and rejection these women have to endure. There is the ridicule and mocking from their peers regarding their disability. What if you have a friend or a family that is mentally ill? There must be a support system in the society. It may be through either support groups, psychiatrists, counselors, family or close friends. There is not much awareness and information raised about mental health in Indonesia. We rarely see people with mental health issues being embraced and accepted in society. There is a harsh sentiment around this issue and they treat mental illness as if it is a disease. That is why there is a need for more compassionate and sensitive people to care for these people.

Another scenario is when a teenage girl undergoes depression. Who can understand what she is feeling? Many of these girls feel like there is no end to this black cloud and they cannot seem to get out of it. Talking to the counselors may help but they are just there to advise you. It is up to you to make the decision to get better. The counselors are not there 24/7. Young girls grow to become teenagers and teenagers become adult who will soon become mothers. Indonesia should understand how important mental health is and create centers for women who need support and encouragement when they are mentally ill. Is it not important to have a stable woman in the family (as they are mothers whom which children look to)? Would they not lead better and meaningful lives? It is an issue that is still sensitive. More people should take the stand and contribute to the growing sector of the mentally ill women.

(This article was published in Student Globe in 2013)

Student Globe is Jakarta Globe’s sister company.

Plans, plans, and plans…

As I ponder to myself, I am not focused on my goals. I have so many different plans. Essentially, all I want to be is a success. Going to Ivy League schools, working in top-tier firms, getting lots of money. But I realised that is not what is important, my focus in life is to build my character and to be able to serve others through the talent I have. Whatever I do, whatever I achieve, I hope to contribute to society.


You can make plans, but if it does not succeed, do not lose hope. Maybe some things do not happen the way you want it to, but know that, whatever happens, essentially it is for our growth and character building. I realised that I do have high expectations, and that is good, because it is what drives me to push through the hard times, but I also reflected on this, and think again, that I have to lower my expectations so it will be realistic. What I am capable of, what my experience is, what skills I have and connect it to which dream school I could apply. If I do not get into the schools I applied to the US, I would not be upset, because nevertheless, I am a work in progress. I have achieved more than what my teachers, friends, and parents expected. It may not be much to the world’s calibre because the world has a certain definition of success: to go to an Ivy League school, have lots of money, be a slim figure, have a good career and so on. At least, I managed to finish high school and law school. That is my biggest accomplishment to date.

I do not have to be down because of rejection. Rejection is another word for failure, and failure is another way to success. If you keep pushing through and keep going on when you fail, and try again, you will ultimately reach success. Perseverance in adversity, is important. Whatever I experience in this life makes me learn, that failure, success, ups and downs shapes me to be a unique individual. Everyone experiences that also, and I believe every person in this world is unique.

In regards to people, there are some people who are rejected by society. The mentally ill, the sick, the poor, all those are not accepted in society. But we as human beings, must learn to accept these people. They are in their situation right now because of circumstances that happen. Aside from my desires to succeed, I have a yearning to help these people. I do not know what specific legal field I have to be in to help these people, and how I am going to utilise my other talents like music and art to be a blessing to these people. But I know He has a plan for my life, and I want to follow whatever He decides for my life.

To close, ambition itself is good, but do not get carried, and do not be upset when rejected. Ultimately, His plan is the best plan for each of us, it will help us to love Him and love others more, and also build ourselves to be more like Him.