About Being a "Keparat Pemerintah"

A friend reminded me while we had a chat last night: "It IS a big deal if you're not feeling ok at work! Remember the 200 million people you're serving!"

It was our private joke. During our initial chatting sessions, he asked me why I joined the ministry, since I had earned better in the private company I had used to work for. I gave him my two very reasons. First, it suited my educational background (I majored International Relations). Second, and the foremost, while the private company provided me the opportunity to serve its 3,000 employees, working with a government institution would allow me the better chance of preserving the interests of my country and its 230 million people.

It is, of course, an exaggeration, though to a certain extent it does resonate the truth and reflect my idealism. And perhaps pride. It takes a year alone, starting from the preliminary exam from hell, to score a seat in the new batch of Sekdilu. The emotional scale is usually a series of worry-prayer-hope-despair-ignorance-prayer part 2-etc. And another year before one could actually work in that institution.

But that is only the beginning.

Then came the years of struggling and juggling before getting one's first posting. The diplomatic title doesn't really fit the reality at hand, particularly as the bearer must try to make ends meet with unbelievably low income -- even compared to other government agencies! Forget about getting some extra money at work, chances are nil in this department. Unless you are lucky enough to have the job desc that requires you to travel a lot, e.g., being an Indonesian delegation to international organizations (WTO, APEC, UN, etc.). Which also means that you would be doing almost all the works for the Indonesian delegation, and your colleagues from other departments feed you only with one or two paper of raw materials which you somehow have to polish to make it presentable as an "Indonesian position" on a certain issue. In reality, many times the raw materials are so, so raw, you have to add more things and do research on your own so you'll get updated data. And while you are stuck in your room messy with papers, browsing internet for yet some other data, or merely typing the position paper, the other delegates would spend their SPJ in a shopping-fest.

Guess what? When you're home again, you'll read in newspaper all the comments and complaints about how stupid, underqualified, Indonesian diplomats are. Come to think of that, well, yeah, Indonesian diplomats are indeed stupid enough to have themselves work like a horse for other departments' credit. And to be willing to get all the revilement for the imperfect result.

Then you get your first posting. You happen to be posted in the capital of the world's sole, remaining superpower. You are ecstatic at first. And high spirited, eager to make the best out of it. And glad that finally you'll be able to make a decent living.

Time goes by, you go through excitement and frustration, wishes and disappointments, but you love your job, your helpful colleagues and new friends, your great bosses. Afterward you find out that your harshest critics are your Indonesian fellows. When the embassy does a great job, it's taken for granted. When it makes a minor mistake, the whole world would know the very details. After a while, you get used to it. Especially since you have developed friendship with some of them, you tend not to take all the criticisms in person.

Nevertheless, at times, you can't help but wonder why these people always make notions like "diplomats/Indonesian officials live in luxury at the expense of the poor Indonesian people", while they are not in Indonesia, do not pay taxes, and some of them work for the American official media. You often have to keep yourself from blurting out your thoughts to them, so as not to worsen things.

Then you, the Indonesian diplomat who is supposed to live in luxury at the expense of the poor Indonesian people, go home in a subway for you can't afford a new car, and you are still saving for your used car. In your close-to-empty apartment, you browse the internet, and read some messages/postings/articles that condemn the government of Indonesia and reveal the writer's shame of being an Indonesian.

In the end, you are working for the interests of the people who are ashamed of being Indonesians. So much for your idealism.


mellyana said...

pengen nangis deh bacanya. orang amrik dateng ke negaranya, bakal disambut dengan "welcome home, sir", tapi coba kalo kita mendarat di cengkareng, palingan bule2 itu juga yang disenyumin. ada sepupu yg justru diserang abis2an ama orang sebangsa! sedih

anita said...

Mbak, tulisannya bagus & bikin trenyuh... slamat berjuang yah!!

PS: aku skrg lg ambil jurusan HI, boleh nanya2 ga? thx..

Caranita said...

waduh makasih mel, nit.

Anita, aku mo ngejawab di blognya kamu kok gak ada fasilitasnya? Mo nanya2 boleh banget! Lewat sini, atw lewat emailku aja: lenje@yahoo.com

/ n i k k / said...

hehehe.. dicengo'in bangsa sendiri? itu wajar, sebab ini bangsa masih dalam status berkembang dari status miskin. jadi ya gitu, ngliat yg keren dan prestise dikit langsung senengnya ngudubilah gak ketulungan. pengennya keliatan. pengennya ke permukaan. jarang sekali yang mau masuk ke dalam. you know, artificial things surround us lately... and it makes me sick. :(

Agusti Anwar said...

Halo Nit, "Keparat Pemerintah"? Wah, serem banget judulnya... Jangan terlalu sedih dong, fight more... After all, your post is excellent, and just take the best of it, despite the grudges..(itu judul film horor ya...). Ketemu blog ini nyasar aja...but I will read more on your postings later... Salam, Anwar.

Mia said...

Halo mbak (bu?),

Saya tidak sengaja mampir ke blog ini, but I relate to most of what you say in this post. I'm not a diplomat, nor will I ever be; but am a daughter of one. And I'll always remember how he said, "these are the people we're supposed to defend out there!" with deep disappointment.

Best of luck, mbak. We need people like you :)

ayamkodok said...

you must be one of the very few diplomats that are somehow qualified. i have worked with them, interacted with them and been surrounded by them and i feel so unfortunate to have these experiences. most of them are greedy, ignorant, stupid, corrupt and lazy individuals. if you claim otherwise, you must be blind. if you are one of the honest and smart ones, i hope you will one day make a change in this dirty and corrupt ministry. i mean that sincerely.