Going online: Former migrant worker Imas Tati (left) and executive director of NGO Migrant Care Anis Hidayah (center) look on as the campaign director of change.org speaks. The website promotes social change through the use of online petitions, and launched its campaign for Indonesia last week. (JP/Ricky Yudhistira)
Maftuh Basyuni’s inbox is currently filled with 4,161 emails.
The Migrant Workers Task Force chairman has been flooded by comments from those angered by Maftuh’s remark about abused migrant workers and those demanding an apology.
The email flood followed a petition titled “Isn’t He Supposed to Defend Them? #SupportImasTati”, featured on the Indonesia page of change.org, a US-based website promoting social change through online petitions.
The Imas Tati petition was created on June 13 by Melanie Subono, an Indonesian singer who said wants to collect 5,000 signatures.
In an open letter to Maftuh and President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono, Melanie said it was difficult it was for migrant workers to do their jobs.
“Imagine how the abused workers must have felt when they heard that statement. It came from an official who is supposed to protect and defend our citizens,” Melanie said.
Last month, Maftuh told a seminar that some Indonesian migrant workers had invited sexual harassment by flirting with their bosses.
“Some of these workers are extremely flirtatious, and it always takes two to tango. Maybe they are driven by their desires but the attitudes of the migrant workers are surprising,” he said.
Arief Aziz, the communications director of change.org in Indonesia, said that petitioners could use the website to send an email to the people named in its petitions.
“The petitioners can also print the letters and deliver them to the petition targets if they do not have an email address. We can assist with the petition delivery, too,” he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
According to campaign director Usman Hamid, Indonesians often perceived the process of reform as complicated.
“They think that they must join political parties, NGOs or big companies to bring about change. In the end, they refrain from taking any action at all. The truth is it is easy and simple to create changes,” he added.
Usman, the former chairman of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said that people could create a petition on change.org and start gathering support for their cause immediately.
Arief said that past petitioners’ failures to achieve their goals were due to a lack of focus on the issues and people to be targeted.
“People usually target some high-ranking officials, such as the President or the United Nation’s secretary-general, and the demands are often too wide in terms of scope. They say, ‘Fix this system and fix that.’ They are not being specific, and that is a recipe for failure,” he told the Post.
Thirty-five local petitions have been recorded on change.org since its Indonesian page was launched on June 4.
Not all of the petitions on the website are serious, apparently.
“semutzzzzzzzzzzzz manUTD” from Semarang, Central Java, submitted a personally focused petition on June 13, saying “I petition myself because I am a lazy person and I want to change.” “semutzzzzzzzzzzzz manUTD” is the only person that has signed the petition so far.
The most popular petition, attracting 12,198 of a desired 15,000 supporters, has been that of “end of the icons”, an Aceh-based NGO, demanding that the government enforce laws to protect the Tripa peat swamp in Aceh and its orangutans from deforestation and degradation.
The petition targets Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, chairman of the Reducing Emissions for Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) task force; Mas Ahmad Santosa, head of REDD+ working group; Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan; National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo. (tas)