Soapbox: publisher's perspective |

Ten Years of NOW! Jakarta, a New Year for Jakarta City

Soapbox: Publisher's Perspective | 2 January 2019

There is a very funny and kind of inexplicable psychology about “The New Year”. What makes the 1st of January any different to the 31st December? Or any other day?

NOW!JAKARTA publisher, Alistair Speirs. Photo by Raditya Fadilla/NOW!JAKARTA

They are just days, my pet dogs don’t know the difference, to some extent the poorer end of society who work every day as food vendors or street cleaners don’t know the difference, indigenous peoples in forests and mountains don’t know the difference. But for us this wonderful, refreshing “new start” is just great! “Out with the old, in with the new” was the old cry, and still is. But why?

Perhaps it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we take this opportunity to really examine what we have done last year and try to improve it this year. We need to eliminate the things we have done wrong and magnify those we have got right. Hard to do sometimes but let’s try.

Top of my list for attention across Indonesia is “intolerance” which seems greatly on the rise. Whether fueled by misguided “nationalism” or driven by greed, ignorance or prejudice, we need to stop this now. The wonderful principles of “Pancasila” need no revision, they just need enforcing, and it is not just up to the government to do so but every one of us.

Second on my list is “sustainability” and here we have an equally hard uphill battle. Here’s a headline in The Jakarta Post on 18 Dec: “West Java to depend on nonrenewable energy”, the article goes on to say that the province – by law – will remain majority fueled by coal, oil & gas till 2050! And in the same paper on 20 Dec: “Plastic bag ban plan gets mixed response” (from retailers) with business associations saying reducing is enough.

I’m very sorry but enough is not enough! Plastic bags have to go, so do polystyrene containers for “Go-Jeked” food, small plastic containers for sambal and sauces, totally indestructible packaging for snacks, and everything which constitutes non-recyclable waste. In fact the plastic bag ban is NOT enough! Shame on you retailers, food vendors and business associations for not changing voluntarily. When you know it’s wrong – stop! And as for the power industry, have you really not realized yet that all sources of renewable energy are all FREE! Sun, wind, water & geothermal are all available, non-polluting and infinite. I am greatly disappointed.

So I’d better stop there before you all get bored or depressed and finish by saying a huge thanks to readers, writers and supporters of NOW! Jakarta who kept us alive for ten amazing years. Thanks to my amazing team for their inspiration and hard work and here’s the next ten!