And everything should be connected
You just don’t mess with words! One missing word can mean different entirely. Or, worse, all hell let lose….
My colleagues and me were dumbfounded as “President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo instructed for canalization to tackle fires in Central Kalimantan”, as titled in setkab.go.id.
“Presiden menegaskan, kunci mengatasi kebakaran hutan dan lahan di Kalteng ada di kanal, kanalisasi yang memang harus dikejar. Untuk itu, Presiden Jokowi mengaku telah memberikan perintah ke BNPB, ke Kementerian Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan agar dibuat kanalnya secepat-cepatnya, dan nantinya akan dikerjakan Zeni (TNI AD) yang mobilisasinya cepat.”
[(The) President underlined (that) the key to tackle forest and land fires in Central Kalimantan (lies) in the canals, canalization must be pushed. Hence, President Jokowi claimed that he had instructed BNPB, Ministry of Environment and Forestry to build canals as soon as possible, which would be done by the Army for faster mobilization].
Out of confusions, environment journos then worked out several ‘assumptions’ : (1) President Jokowi did say that. (2) President’s slip of the tongue. (3) Media misquoted his statement. (4) Setkab misquoted the President resulted in plenty of misquotes in media, even in highly respected media, such as Tempo (which then renewed its title but still using the same content), Metro TV, Elshinta, and Republika.
Why does it matter? Because, CANALIZATION aka building canals means DRAINING PEATLANDS which RESULTED TO FIRES. Here’s how it works : companies build canals to let out the water from peats, after dried, then they are able to plant anything.
The catch is dried peats are prone to fires and hard to extinguish. It’s not rocket science! All experts, activists, and even government blame these canals for forest fires. And, one way to prevent it to happen is to build CANAL BLOCK or CANAL DYKES.
Blocking the canal and building the canal is a completely different term and meaning. I even checked with Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language dictionary) that “kanalisasi/ka·na·li·sa·si/ n 1 perihal pembuatan kanal (terusan); 2 ki penyaluran (rasa tidak puas dsb).”
I was not present when he said these statements so dare not to make any assumptions. Though, up to date, there has yet any retraction or clarification on the statement so we can highly suspect that he did say that.
IF he did got slip of the tongue, then the [environment and forestry] ministry need to rectify the situation because people just gonna plainly read it.
IF not, then the minister is still need to lots of explaining to do and prepare for the storm to hit.
Either way, I don’t think good environment journos will let this go that easy (I hope).
Speaking of which, whoever written the story are just plain ignorant! Seriously! Do these media even bother to ask second opinions???? Ask experts??? Or, ask those covering these issues???
For whatever reasons, I don’t think you can be ‘casual’ with terms, especially scientific-based (canalization has been subject to many peats researches). You don’t reduce it to something ‘popular’ because some know they meant completely different.
On this case, clarification matters a lot. And, may this become a lesson learned for officials and media to ‘mind their words’.
Just a month ago, I did a story on Indonesia’s confidence in tackling haze resulted from forest fires, which usually happens annually in the country.
The editor put out a very convincing, if not provocative, title that there will be ‘less haze from forest fires for Indonesia this year’.
Unfortunately, I somehow have to correct it…..
For the past few weeks, haze stories filled up headlines everywhere, TV, newspaper, and even social media. I lost track.
A few updates that I manage to keep up were it’s getting worse, declining air quality, refugees, casualties, and transboundary haze.
So much for being confidence, huh?!
It’s not partly the government’s fault. They were aware of long dry season followed by El Nino phenomenon, in layman’s words, which is practically bringing more dry weather, up till September. But, men are just too proud and Mother Nature got really really upset.
They just never learn their lessons. “It is about raising awareness. It is about educating local people. It is about law enforcement. It is about forest management.” All those ‘business-as-usual’ quotes.
It’s sound simple, isn’t? But, we have been having these routine haze stories for 18 years! We should have been able to learn something from it?!
Mas Achmad Santosa, a prominent environmental law expert, who was actively engage in the issue in the UKP4 era, underlined three elements, prevention, extinguishing fires, and law enforcement, of which were lacking in performance from President Joko Widodo’s administration.
Santosa, who was ‘on fire’ stating his remarks to journalists, said that Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya was supposed to be the ‘conductor’ to tackle these issues.
She needs to work fast and effective engaging other important institutions, such as police, judge and prosecutor, to deal with law enforcement. At the same time, she must build a strong commitment with other ministries to back her up on prevention and extinguishing fires.
The bottom line is someone should take the leadership and get on with it! This is no time for another discussion. We got it wrong, so we need to fix it!
She got slipped a bit as when fires blazing, she had to go to Oslo, Norway, ironically, discussing on climate change under President’s instruction. (The irony is that Indonesia emits carbon more from its forest fires).
If only she has clone of her own….
Yet, the ugly truth is once these fires started out, especially in peats, you can only wait for Mother Nature to deal with it… At least, that was what Sarwono Kusumatmaja, chair of Climate Change Steering Committee, said on current forest fires.
He was right. The fires can be put down but the smokes are gonna be thick. Somehow, it means just brace yourself.
Writing this, I am not excluding the facts that many people have been impacted directly by smokes but also many have tried to put them out relentlessly. I have been reading many efforts from fire fighters, locals struggling to put them out. One news even reported a loss of life in the field.
I know that they are trying hard too. But, as this writing goes, I sincerely hope that there will be different approach to this issue. We’re missing out something here…. If policies are in order, if reasons are known, so why it keeps on happening. It’s either we’re missing something or we’re not doing it right.
You may be familiar with Einstein’s quote : don’t expect different results if you’re doing it the same way. I guess this applies to this case. Just be realistic, we have been doing the same routine for 17 years and nothing works. No one realize it???? Come on, we’re a great nation with great people, we can do better than this!
Lastly, I hope that this is not forgotten once rain coming down. That’s our jinx. We have chronic short memory loss as a nation. Seriously. I don’t want have to read this article to write another same story for next year.
Finally! I decided to use another blog for my ‘piece of mind’. The other blog, with the same name, will serve as my journalistic resume or compilation of published writings.
While this one is, hopefully, for lighter ones (or basically rejected story proposals :D)
So, here we go!
PS : I will have lots and lots of tweaks for this blog, so bare with me.