Sunday, July 5, 2015

Luwak Coffee? It's not worth buying the faeces of tortured animals

We human like to venture out and try on new things. Once the novelty is popularised on the mass media and sold as 'exotic' in big department store in a capital city of a developed country, the thing became a hit. Celebrities tried and endorse it, and everyone in the developing countries want to produce it.

Even though the thung is shit. Literally, faeces of a shy nocturnal animal from South East Asia, has become a big hit in London. 'Kopi Luwak' or Luwak coffee came from the faeces of civets (in Indonesian: Luwak, or its Latin name: Paradoxurus hermaphroditus).

In its natural habitats, the rain forests of Indonesia, they eat and cofee beans - either wild coffee plants or steal some from plantations. Human collected their droppings, and found that the coffee is nicer after being digested by the civets. So the original coffee luwak was discovered. Today, the coffee luwak sold in London's famous Harods department store with  ridiculously expensive price, does not come from civets living happilly in their natural habitat. Today there are luwak farms all over Indonesia, both producing luwak coffee and marketed as tourist destinations. 
(Photo from

Now here's the news: the civets living in cages are not happy at all. While their natural diet consist of but not exclusively coffee beans, in their cages in luwak farms they are forced to eat coffee and coffee only! Here is an article in Indonesian exposing their living condition in farms ( Not a pleasant live at all. Even the person who introduced Luwak coffee to the UK is now campaigning against farmed Luwak coffee....

Personally, I never wanted to try luwak coffee because it's an overpriced shit (literally coming from back end of the creature, right?). If anyone else wanted to spend lots of money on that, I did not care. But now that we know that the industry is hurting innocent civets.... Come on, wake up and let's campaign against this cruelty. My argument is: it's not worth buying the faeces of tortured animals.

We consumers have the power to boicott and spread the words to boicott this ill treatment of fellow Earth dwellings. So please save your money and save these lovely shy creature by not buying the shit luwak coffee... Want is different than need. We do not need to have faeces coffee. There are many other delcious coffees produced and sold in fair trade system, choose them instead.

PETA has a good article on this. Disturbing report by their investigator

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Law of The Sea According to Acehnese Fishermen

Acehnese fishermen's 'Law of the Sea' (Hukom Adat Laot) stated that seaman who sees any boat in distress should offer help. As a loval fisherman explained to Al Jazeera news, "At sea you are all brothers and sisters, foreigners or Indonesians. So if someone is asking for help, we as fishermen have an obligation to help without looking at race, religion or anything."

I sense a similarity in principle with the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The strange thing is that these fishermen had never studied UN Conventions and might have never heard of the Declaration og Human Rights. On the other hand, countries who had ratified the UN Convention for Refugee and claimed to adhere to Human Rights principles are turning these human down! 

The worrying thing is that the so called law enforcements are questioning fishermen who helped the immigrants. Indonesian Armed Forces reminded Acehnese fishermen that that taking in illegal immigrant is against the law. 

I hope that the brave Acehnese fisherman will stand up for human rights and will not let authority in uniform stop them helping fellow human. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Petitioning President Jokowi to Accept Rohingya Refugee

Dear Mr President, 

please open your heart to our fellow human who are suffering. 

Remember your speech on the opening of Asian African Conference last month? You said Indonesia is ready to take the lead in social justice. You said we cannot continue to rely on the so called developed/first world/North (rich) countries... 

Well this is the time to put your words into action. Please open our shore for the suffering asylum seekers. 

Acehnese fishermen who were poor and once displaced themselves had started to show compassion, why can't we as a nation do the right thing too? Our land is enough for sharing, our people though poor would still feed the hungry. In sharing we will become richer, our resources is enough to be shared, as long as we are not too greedy. 

Please open your heart and open our border, Mr Jokowi... 

Acehnese are No Stranger to Refugees

Between May 2003 - 2004 Indonesian government declared martial law inAceh province. Thousands of Acehnese had to evacuate their homes. IDP (internally displaced people) camps formed all over Aceh. On Boxing Day 2004, nine Richter scale earthquake hit Aceh, followed by 30 metre high wave - tsunami - that claimed about 200,000 souls. There were toddlers who were born in IDP camps during the martial law (2003) and stayed in tents long after the tsunami. Acehnese people are no stranger to displacement, to queueing for food, to unclean water, they survived diseases predicted by WHO and other international emergency aid organisations.

Today Acehnese people witness others in their shoes. Immigrants from Burma/Myanmar's persecuted Rohingya ethnic and from Bangladesh are arriving after months living on over-crowded boats. Thai governments refused them, Malaysian people looked away. Australian government quickly said "No!" American government pleaded mercy from South East Asian governments. Indonesia has not ratified UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugee (the 1951 Refugee Convention).

But would Acehnese people turn their back on their fellow human in need? Did history mean anything to those who had lived in IDP camps? Thanks be to God that they don't! Alhamdulillah... Acehnese people open their heart and most took these asylum seekers in.

It seems that Acehnese people show their heart of gold to these Rohingya asylum seekers from Burma/Myanmar ( ). God bless the poor and the marginalised.God bless asylum seekers and those who help them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Renungan Indonesian in England

BBC Indonesia mengadakan survey: di manakah Anda pada Mei 1998?

Berikut kenangan dan renungan saya, 17 tahun setelah kerusuhan 1998 dan jatuhnya diktator Soeharto.

Sebagai wartawan muda dan jebolan UI, saya hadir di Salemba. Tak lama orasi2 mulai, saya dapat tiga pesan di pager: dari kantor, dari suami, dan dari orang tua. Semua isinya sama: segera pulang, rumah Lim Sui Liong di Gunung Sahari akan dibakar (kami tinggal di Kemayoran, tak jauh dari istana pemilik Indofood dan kroni Soeharto tsb). Namun bis dan mikrolet tak ada. Jalan Salemba seperti kota hantu walau halaman UI penuh demonstran. Berjalan kakilah saya dari Salemba. Untung seorang pengendara motor berbaik hati memberi tumpangan hingga perempatan Jl Angkasa. Sampai rumah putra saya Jack Bara yang masih bayi menangis di gendongan ayahnya, surat-surat penting dan pakaian seadanya sudah di travel bag. Kami siap cabut jika api menjalar... Untung tak terjadi. 

Demokrasi Indonesia kini telah 17 tahun, masih remaja namun terbukti makin dewasa. Bangga sekali dengan pidato Presiden Jokowi di pembukaan KAA bulan lalu. Sementara pada saat yang sama negara Inggris Raya tempat lahirnya demokrasi moderen, negara asal John Locke dan Magna Carta, sedang mengalami kemunduran demokrasi. Pemerintah Konservatif berencana menghapus UU HAM (Human Right Act 1988), mengurangi anggaran kesehatan (NHS) dan melegalkan kembali perburuan rubah. Rakyat miskin kian tergantung sumbangan sembako dari foodbank sementara sahabat kaya para politisi menikmati pengurangan pajak. Indonesia, ayo pimpin keadilan sosial di dunia!