The Domino Effect and the Web of Connections Between Tourist Sites in Indonesia

On the 1st-4th of April 2019, I attended the MMAT workshop (Mengajar & Meneliti Asia Tenggara or “Understanding Changes in Southeast Asia”). The workshop aimed to equip the participants with a deeper understanding of Southeast Asia as well as research skills and experience. A part of the workshop was to do fieldwork at one of three locations, and I was in the group that did our fieldwork at Sosrowijayan. We were asked to observe and do interviews to find out more about the area in accordance to our area of study. As an anthropologist, I looked at the state of the society, and the practices of the people.

In this essay, I would like to explore the concept of the “domino effect” or interrelatedness through the tourism industry located in Sosrowijayan; its implications and significance; and its resultant impact and consequences for the area and its community of residents. From my observations, I would like to suggest that a domino effect can be observed, where it has affected the economic activities and fortunes of the people living and doing business in Sosrowijayan. This has further implications for the lives and identities of its residents.

Sosrowijayan is located near Yogyakarta Station or Stasiun Tugu, a railway station located close to the centre of the city of Yogyakarta. As my group and I walked around Sosrowijayan, it was clear that the area was created primarily because of its location and the resultant demand for accommodation from travellers. Sosrowijayan is mostly filled with losmen, hotels, restaurants, tour agencies, and other services catering to the types of people that visit the area. These indicate the importance of the need for tourism-related demand, and it is not surprising why the area is heavily dependent on tourist numbers.

After the Bali bombings occurred in 2002 and 2005, this negatively affected the tourist sentiments about Bali, and in turn, affected the tourist arrivals to Indonesia in general, which includes Sosrowijayan in Yogyakarta. The tourist arrivals to the area dropped, which greatly affected the businesses in the area. With a decrease in the number of regular tourist arrivals to Indonesia, this increases the difficulty of sustaining an already seasonal economic activity, since most tourist arrivals (usually from Western countries) usually come during the summer (middle of the year) or around the Christmas holiday period.

This is where the domino effect comes into play because we were told by an owner of one of the resturants and losmen in Gang 2, Sosrowijayan, in a conversation with him, that the tourists usually come to Indonesia on a tour package. These tour packages usually bring them to Bali first and then Yogyakarta, so when the Bali bombings happened, the tour groups stopped coming because the package would include both. Hence, indirectly, the owner of the restaurant and losmen and Sosrowijayan in general are reliant on these tourist packages. This reveals an interconnectedness that exists between the various popular tourist sites in Indonesia, where even though they may not geographically distant from each other and might not be conceived as connected in any way by the locals, tour agencies have created a connected that these businesses had apparently depended on, and need to sustain their business.

This comment reveals the importance of the domino effect, since its consequences also affect the society there in other ways; not just economically, but also in terms of social positioning and feeling of relevance, since their identity as an area, as an “international village” is based on that idea that travellers will stay at that area. So what will happen to that identity when there are little tourists or when the tourists are gone?

While my group and I walked around Sosrowijayan, we visited a bookstore-cum-gift shop located in Gang 1. We talked to the owner/manager of the store she commented that the shop would received a lot of visits and business from the international tourists when there were still many coming to Yogyakarta before the Bali Bombings in 2002 and 2005. However, now the store’s relevance has changed, since more students and locals patronise the store and buy the books there because it is cheaper than other bookstores like Kinokuniya, since the books are second hand and are from the owner’s brother’s personal collection.

This is perhaps indicative of a changing relevance of Sosrowijayan, where it is not just an international village but a local “kampung” or a local village. Perhaps it now presents an international front for the local people, which casts doubt on whether the area is truly “international”.

This could be a new form of the concept of “international”, where the meaning of the concept is pertinent not to the outsider but to the insider. An example that comes to mind is the mall Terminal 21 in Bangkok, where each of its floors are zones designed according to the themes of different cities in different regions of the world. While the mall is situated in a tourist area and located near many hotels, it seems like such a design was not just meant for the tourists, who may actually originate from those cities or regions, but it seems to be designed for locals who wish to experience a different region without travelling out of the country, or while they go about the mundane activity of visiting the mall. Whatever the case might be, at the end of the day, such a theme is an effective way to attract visitors to the mall and create interest in them while they are there.

It is worth noting that Sosrowijayan does not have much relevance to Indonesia, as shown in a comment by the restaurant/losmen owner about how there are not many locals that stay there, since they would rather stay at their friend’s house or kos, instead of playing for a room at the losmen.

There are also other problems that face the area including the difficulties of digitalisation, the disruption presented by online businesses, and the construction of a hotel in the area. While digitalisation is the future, its effects are not necessarily positive, since most of the existing older losmen do not use digital infrastructure like credit card payments or online bookings. Furthermore, since there are more online businesses are now present in the area like Airy Rooms, tourists would usually prefer to stay in these more modern accommodations that the traditional and older losmen. Thus, it is important for these losmen, these businesses that are not digital, to retain their relevance to the modern tourist who prefers obtaining his accommodations through digital means. Lastly, the future presence of a big hotel in the area also presents a challenge for the community, since it literally towers over all the tiny losmen and smaller hotels and represents the advance of a “modern” form of tourist accommodation. It is not certain how its presence will affect the community and businesses in Sosrowijayan.

A sidenote, I think that it is worth considering the reasons why losmen are not all going digital, since examining the reasons could reveal other forces at play in the state of the community in Sosrowijayan that affects tourism activities. Some possible reasons include the existence of a technical gap, the lack of willingness to change, or the perception that it is or will be too difficult to change the nature of the business.

In conclusion, Sosrowijayan provides an interesting case study for the “domino effect” that is present in the tourist industry. It could also be a case study for how the tourist industry copes with different forms of changes, including competition from other kinds of tourism-related activities, new developments, events, technologies, etc., in order to remain relevant.

This article was written by Violet Ng Hui Zhi, an undergraduate student at National University of Singapore, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Photo by Nemanja .O. on Unsplash

Is It Worth Going to War Over the South China Sea? Chinese and US’ Stakes in the Region

The South China Sea issue is currently one of the most evident aspects of the growing polarization between the world’s two major economies, China and the United States. Even though this question involves primarily actors from Northeast and Southeast Asia (hereafter East Asia), which includes ASEAN and its member-States, it still should not be forgotten that at the end of the day, China and the US still are the main decision-makers in the region, given their power-projection capabilities. Peace, or war for that matter, depends on the position of these Great Powers. The region has a systemic value because the US-led network of alliances is being challenged by an ongoing military and economic Chinese ascent.

The Southeast Asian countries are participants in a fragmented productive system in the region. This system has been historically led by Japanese investments. However, it is today facing a trend of increased Chinese presence, in industry, trade, and direct investments – more so with the Belt and Road Initiative. The faltering of the US leadership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership has strengthened this movement. This is a result of fundamentally different perspectives and interests in the region: while for China the local sea routes can be considered essential for its survival, for the US, it is “only” a way of both controlling Chinese behavior and positioning itself as a trustworthy hegemon.

 

Chinese Stakes and Strategy

The South China Sea connects the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and as such, it connects the main producers of oil in the Middle East and Africa to the industrialized economies of Northeast Asia. It also provides the main lanes of intermediary goods trade within East Asia. These sea-lanes are also used by China as one of its main possibilities of naval power projection. Estimates of 2017 put a total of 40% of Chinese international trade passing by the region, and 22% of the total trade of East Asia. For the US, it only represents 6%. The Malacca strait is its most famous chokepoint, through which 80% of oil imported by the Chinese passes by . A blockade in Malacca, Sunda and Lombok straits would imply the necessity of circumnavigating Australia, which would have an impact over the cost of transportation and, most importantly, would increase the insurance price for the tankers, as well as interrupting the regional productive network.

Through a vast process of economic modernization and industrialization prompted by Deng Xiaoping’s reforms, Chinese GDP grew by an average of ten percent from 1980 to 2010, maintaining an average of over seven percent in subsequent years. To support this profile, China needs to meet its energy demand, dependent on oil imported through the Malacca Strait. Thus, Chinese interests in the South China Sea are primarily energetic, which implies two initiatives: expanding its military presence in the region and strengthening political and economic interdependence between China and the Southeast Asian countries. It is noted that the importance of either initiative has varied over the years: in the early 2000s, China employed a regional foreign policy known as “Charm Offensive”, following the principles of safeguarding peace, promoting the development and broadening cooperation . According to Shambaugh , most nations in the region saw China as a good neighbor then and a non-threatening regional power.

The current assertive stance, employing skirmishes between fishing boats and coast guards, with the establishment and expansion of military bases at points that were once small rocks, constitutes a change in China’s insertion in the region. Nevertheless, China maintained the same strategic interest in the region: safeguarding its interests by having political force in its strategic surroundings, securing its supply and trade routes and preparing against possible assertive initiatives by the United States and its allies. China is gaining influence over Southeast Asian countries. It has maintained its partnership with China-aligned countries in the Region (Laos and Cambodia), maintained diplomatic channels with countries seeking a neutral profile in the region (such as Indonesia and Singapore), and has gradually been able to increase its influence over countries that directly challenge Chinese territorial claims (Philippines and Vietnam, besides becoming the main foreign investor in Thailand). The region is central to the Belt and Road Initiative Belt. While the United States withdrew from negotiations for the establishment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, negotiations for the ASEAN-centered RCEP with Chinese participation remain open.

One of the high points of the previous Chinese cooperative stance was the Declaration on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea. Nonetheless, its main promise – the future signing of a Code of Conduct that would prevent the parties from resolving its territorial issues violently – evolved slowly, and indeed China has prevented its resolution. The change of attitude is logical if we analyze what was and is now at stake concerning the evolution of Chinese military modernization, both about the projection of maritime force and the strategic use of long-range nuclear weapons. The Chinese perception of the United States’ capacity for dialogue and its role in regional alliances also changed during this period.

From a strategic-nuclear standpoint, the main change was the process that led to the establishment of nuclear deterrence patrols of its new ballistic missile submarines, commissioned in 2007 and operating since 2010. The nuclear submarine armed with ballistic missiles is the main system for second-strike capability within the nuclear triad – meaning they are the ultimate dissuasion weapon. These submarines operate from Hainan Island in south China. This regional deployment is explained by the fact that on its east and north coasts, China is surrounded by US bases and its allies’ naval forces in Taiwan, the southern islands of the Japanese archipelago and South Korea. It becomes central to China’s ability to prevent detection of its nuclear submarines to fortify its position in the South China Sea. Besides, Japan and South Korea’s acquisition of ballistic missile interception capabilities starting in 2009 (through the AEGIS system), which although officially used as a defense against the North Korean nuclear program, also threatens Chinese dissuasory capability of a second-strike nuclear attack using land-based missile launchers.

From a military modernization standpoint, China started to invest heavily in its naval forces after they were shown to be thoroughly insufficient during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis (1995-1996). Naval reform, as well as its growing economy, enabled China to become the world’s greatest shipbuilder. This enabled China to become more assertive both regarding Japan, concerning the Diaoyu/Senkaku, and the SCS, occupying Scarborough Shoal in 2012.

 

American Stakes and Strategy

As stated above, the US’ stakes in terms of commerce are relatively minimal when compared to China’s. Still, American stakes in the region are directly connected to its global strategy. Contemporary US strategic interests in the SCS can be explored by analyzing two key moments: the 2011 Asian pivot, and the 2019 Indo-Pacific Strategic Report. Both have the same foundation: that the US network of allies in East Asia is one of the main pillars for their international hegemony.

The 2011 Asian pivot meant that the US would refocus to the Pacific instead of the Middle East. The US had boosted its alliance with Australia through the establishment of a military presence in Darwin, through agreements with India and Vietnam, and the use of anti-missile systems in Japan. The economic basis of this initiative would be the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The US sought to strengthen its position as guarantor of regional security and by ensuring the possibility of intervention in defense of allies. A major threat to US hegemony is China’s acquisition of Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2AD) capabilities, challenging the US capacity of unrestricted access to the region. The concept evolved gradually from AirSea Battle in 2010 to the 2012 Joint Operational Access Concept (JOAC), and finally to the Joint Commons Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons (JAM-GC) . Unrestricted access would mean the ability to attack the rearguard of the enemy’s defensive lines. However, by destroying the enemy’s (China’s) ability to command and control, it would also threaten the ability to coordinate a nuclear second-strike, and thus threatening credible nuclear deterrence. The Chinese response to the new US doctrine was the enactment of the Active Defense strategy in 2015, outlining a more assertive military stance.

Even if it is not as important to the US, the region has critical importance to their allies South Korea and Japan. About 90% of the oil imported by Japan and South Korea goes through the region, and both have the third and second-largest trade flows in the local straits, respectively . This is could be considered the basis of the US interest in proposing itself as the advocate of Global Commons.

Current US strategic interests for the region are presented in the US Department of Defense’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Report of 2019 . Even though it is based on the Obama administration’s pivot, it has the differential of accusing China of being a strategic competitor and revisionist power. It follows the 2017 National Security Strategy and the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which mention that the main threats for US interests abroad include competition between major powers (Russia and China) and conventional military threats (in other words, refocusing away from counter-insurgency). Contrary to the AirSea Battle concept, which focuses on the unique ability of the United States to employ combined forces (enabled by technological advancement), recent documents emphasize that such a factor will only be decisive if used at sufficient scale. The 2019 document concedes that conflict scenarios close to competitors are dangerous because in these cases the enemy would have a local military advantage at the start of a possibly short confrontation. To fight this, the active participation of their allies, committed to a joint confrontation of the revisionist power, is essential. The US would act differently depending on how close it is to countries in the region: Allies (Japan, South Korea, Australia, Philippines, Thailand), Strong Partners (Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand, Mongolia), New Indian Ocean Partnerships (India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal), new partnerships in Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia), dialogue partners (lowest level of engagement with Brunei, Laos and Cambodia). Thus, the US seeks above all to maintain a balance of power that gives credibility to its posture of guarantor of its allies and thus to maintain its hegemonic position.

 

Will there be a major war anytime soon?

Not likely. Indeed, the importance of the South China Sea straits – especially for mainland China, Japan, and South Korea – means that an embargo or blockade could threaten the entire productive system of the region. Although both Japan and China have strategic oil reserves in the event of shortages (100 and 40 to 50 days respectively ), the degree of productive interconnection means that any embargo can cause complete chain paralysis and consequently global shortages of certain industrialized products. Even threat perception can have increasing effects on the price and viability of production by increasing the price of vessel insurance. A prolonged interruption of maritime communication lines would threaten the survival of the State and thus lead to open conflict. Just as the United States realize the seriousness of imposing an embargo on China, Beijing understands that the sinking of an American aircraft carrier would require a US military response that could lead to total war. Besides, the SCS does not have the same symbolic importance for China as Taiwan has, for instance.

Will the US passively allow China to gradually surpass its economic and military power in the region? Also unlikely, but it does not mean that the SCS will be the theater of a major engagement. However, recent experience has shown that small naval encounters could lead to stalemates, which might bring winners and losers as one of the sides might have to concede to the adversary’s will. These stalemates could lead to limited skirmishes, which would contribute to the credibility of either Chinese or American military efficiency. Right now, the balance-of-power is shifting towards China. One of the key variables to assess future developments could be the possibility of change in Japanese and Indian initiatives. Even though they are giving signs that they are willing to play a bigger role in the region, as of now it still would not be enough to counter growing Chinese clout over the former American-led sphere-of-influence in Southeast Asia.

This article was written by Rômulo Barizon Pitt, a postgraduate student at Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, while working as a fellow researcher at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

 

Tourism in Singapore

Introduction

Tourism has become one of the most important global industries today. To maintain global power, Singapore has to get involve and give value to tourism in the country. Singapore can be considered a small country if you determine it from the amount of land the country has, but if you measure from its economy, it is one of the most growing counties in the world. This statement is pointed out by Hooi Hooi Leana, Sio Hing Chongb and Chee-Wooi Hooyc (2014) who say that ;

“ Tourism is a fast-growing industry in Singapore. Despite the small contribution to the country’s overall GDP, hovering around 8 percent, Singapore’s tourism industry lingers as a noteworthy showcase not only for trade and economic powerhouse but also as a hub for entertainment, media, and culture in Southeast Asia. In 2005, the Singapore Tourism Board heralded its target to ensure tourism played the role as a key economic pillar by tripling tourism receipts to S$30 billion and doubling visitor arrivals to 17 million in 2015. Besides, the “Uniquely Singapore” campaign that launched in March 2004, aimed to show the world the blend of the best of Singapore as the modern world of warm, enriching and unforgettable tourist destination had won a gold award conferred by the Pacific Asia Travel Association. In 2009, the contribution of the tourism industry on economic growth has recorded 7.3 percent and created 5.8 percent out of total employment opportunities. An increasing trend showing 4.1 percent of the total economy from the tourism industry in 2004 has escalated to 7.3 percent in 2009.”

From this fact, we can understand how tourism has had an impact on Singapore. But to understand the current impacts of tourism in Singapore, we must acknowledge what types of tourist attractions Singapore has to offer and the effects that tourism has on Singapore’s structure.

 

The types of tourist attractions in Singapore

Singapore can be considered one of the most outstanding counties in southeast Asia, this fact is a benefit for Singapore when it comes to tourism because Singapore’s name in more likely to pop up if you are planning a trip to this region. By recognizing this advantage, Singapore has created many noticeable tourist attractions throughout the years. Since there are so many tourist attractions in Singapore, the writer is going to narrow them down into two main categories which are nature-based tourist attractions and human-made tourist attractions. The writer plans on giving at least three destinations as examples.

Nature-based tourist attractions are tourist destinations which are more interested in the nature side of the attraction. Nature-based tourist attractions are usually combined by three elements, namely education, recreation and adventure (UK essays, 2017). Since these type of tourist attractions have little to no interventions from humans, it is the perfect type of destination for people who enjoy the natural side of life. Even though Singapore has become a very developed country, but there are still many nature-based tourist attractions around, for example, Gardens by the Bay, Botanic gardens and Sentosa island.

The first natural tourist attraction which the writer is going to mention is Gardens by the bay, a national garden and premier attraction for local and international visitors. The garden is an advanced facility which uniquely displays the plant kingdom by entertaining and educating the visitors at the same time. The garden also maintains various types of plants from all over the world. The garden can also be considered an independent organization responsible for developing and managing one of Asia’s foremost garden destinations (Gardens by the bay, n.d.). Coming to Gardens by the Bay is like being at almost every garden is the world because of the variety of plants the garden has to offer.

Another memorable nature-based tourist attraction is Botanic gardens, a collection of different types of gardens, like the Ethnobotany garden, the National orchid garden, and the Ginger garden. The gardens have played an important role in fostering agricultural development in Singapore and the region through collecting, growing, experimenting and distributing potentially useful plants. The gardens also played a key role in Singapore’s Garden City program through the continual introduction of plants of horticultural and botanical interest(Singapore botanic gardens, n.d.). Seeing all of these wonderful gardens in person can be a very relaxing experience for many people and that might be why the gardens are still famous today.

Moving on is Sentosa Island, an offshore island of Singapore accessible by a road link, cable car, and a light railway line. The island is not far from the city center (about a ten-minute drive). There have been many improvements to the island thru out the years to make sure that the island becomes a world-class tourist destination, which creates opportunities for tourists and locals. The increasing of transportation options and attractions such as a Marine Life Park and the Universal Studios Singapore amusement park have helped Sentosa island become a very popular tourist destination at an international level. But despite all of the famous human-made tourist destinations, Sentosa island has a lot of natural activities which makes the visitor want to come back for more, like Siloso beach which is perfect for a nice day on the beach. (Centre for liveable cities Singapore, 2015)

The next type of tourist attractions is human-made tourist attractions, which is any object or place that a person might travel to see which exists mainly because a human created it (BBC, n.d.), for example, Orchard Road, Singapore Flyer, Universal Studios Singapore and Chinatown.

Starting with Orchard road, one of the largest shopping, dining, and entertainment hubs in the country. Orchard Road is a 2.2 km. shopping belt between Tanglin road and Selegie road. Tourist considers Orchard road as a shopping district and prefers it to regional malls even if it may not be as close to their lodgings (Yap Yong Hwang, 2014). From becoming a popular icon for shopping in Singapore, Orchard Road has become a must-go destination for tourist in Singapore. The popularity has also helped Singapore’s economic growth.

Following up is the Singapore Flyer, which is the largest Ferris wheel in Asia. Singapore flyer can take you up to about 165 meters from ground level, which is about the hight of the 42nd floor of a skyscraper. But it is not just the hight that attracts tourist, the greatest part of Singapore flyer is the amazing view that allows you to see most of Singapore in a way you have never experienced before (Singapore tourism board, n.d.).

When mentioning about Singapore, a popular tourist attraction that comes up to mind is Universal Studios Singapore, a well-known amusement park. The park is located on Sentosa island, which is not far from the city center. This is the only Universal Studios in Southeast Asia where 28 thrilling rides and seven themed zones await (Sentosa, n.d.). The size of the park and amount of character that Universal Studios Singapore possesses easily makes it a tourist attraction that most people would want to come to at any age or gender.

The next well-known human-made tourist attraction in Chinatown, which is a must-go destination for people who visit Singapore because of its long old history and the impacts it has had on Singapore’s culture. This statement can be supported by Planning for Tourism: Creating a Vibrant Singapore (2015) which claims that ;

“In the early 1980s, Chinatown was Singapore’s top tourist attraction. An important heritage area, it was classified as a “Historic District” in the 1986 Urban Conservation Master Plan, and an “Ethnic Quarter” in the “Ethnic Singapore” thematic zone within the Tourism 21 Master Plan. It was hence a natural candidate for the pilot project on thematic development.”

 

The effects of tourism on Singapore’s structure

By getting an idea about what kind of tourist attractions Singapore has to offer from the previous section, the question remains that how do these tourist attractions affect Singapore’s structure? Many might argue that tourism is only a temporary income that is unpredictable, but tourism is not only about the money, it also has many aspects to offer besides money which we are going to explore in this section.

Since Singapore is a country that strongly depends on its economic structure, Singapore has made sure that they can make the best out of what they have. Many might argue that tourism has only a small part on Singapore’s economy and Singapore can easily depend on making money from music, films, concerts, fashion, computer games, architectural services, and other creative products. But the truth remains that Singapore has to strongly depend more on labor, services, and brainpower because of its lack of natural resources. So tourism is a great way to boost the economies growth because it can attribute to the provision of hard currency, creates employment opportunities and accumulates physical capital (Chew Ging Lee, 2008). The potential benefits that tourism has to offer for Singapore’s economic structure have made the government realize how important it is and got the government move involved with tourism many years ago, as reported in Tourism and economic growth: The case of Singapore (2008) that ;

“In Singapore, tourism industry receives heavy supports from its government. The Singaporean government has launched the “Uniquely Singapore” marketing campaign through Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in March 2004 in Singapore. Subsequently, this campaign was launched in the various key markets, such as in Germany in the ITB trade show on 12 March 2004. Recognizing the importance of tourism to economic activities, on 11 January 2005, Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore unveiled the STB’s bold targets of tripling tourism receipts to S$30 billion and doubling visitor arrivals to 17 million in the year 2015. This initiative will be supported by an S$2 billion Tourism Development Fund.”

On the other hand, an uncontrolled growing economy can backfire if not handled properly. There are many possible outcomes from a growing economy that gets out of hand, such as, the increasing price of food, land, and houses which would make it very difficult for the locals to remain living where they grew up. And also depending too much on tourism as a main income might shake the economic structure when tourism is not a reliable source (UK essays, 2018).

Moving on is socio-cultural impacts that tourism has on Singapore. From the amount of tourist who comes to Singapore each year, the impacts that they have on Singapore’s society and culture are increasing by the years. By these increasements, there have been positive and negative impacts on Singapore’s socio-cultural structure due to tourism in the country.

On the positive side of socio-cultural impacts, tourism has allowed the citizens of Singapore to interact with people from all over the world. These opportunities are the gateway for exchanging ideas, knowledge, and experiences. As a result, many elements from foreign countries have combined into Singapore’s society and enhances the skills of the residents to communicate to different types of tourist and how to handle situations relating to self-expression (UK essays, 2018). Besides, tourism has encouraged Singaporeans to travel at cultural destinations in their country, for example, Chinatown. This encouragement helps Singaporeans value and understand more about their cultural history.

With the positives of the socio-cultural impacts being so significant, the downsides to Singapore’s socio-cultural is also crucial. Since there are so many tourists coming into the country each year, it becomes hard to keep in check with what everybody is doing, which can easily lead to many problems in the society like drugs and illegal activities. Another downside which comes from tourism is the fact that locals start to adapt foreign influences and westernization, which slowly changes the locals from their traditional ways and replace it with a more foreign way of life (UK essays, 2018).

Many studies have shown that tourism has increased socio-economic growth. However, tourism steered economic growth and development is achieved at the cost of environmental pollution and degradation (Muhammad Azam, Md Mahmudul Alam & Muhammad Haroon Hafeez, 2018). It can be argued that Singapore has created a few tourist attractions dedicated to improving the environment, for example, Gardens by the bay which provides a ton polluted environmental atmosphere and the NEWater plant which is one of the world’s largest water recycling facilities. These type of tourist attractions have helped promote environmental awareness, but the downsides that tourism has brought to Singapore’s environment is too critical. The limited amount of space and resources in Singapore can not handle the incoming of tourist that are coming into the country. As a result, Singapore’s environment is getting affected in many negative ways because of the limited resources to deal with environmental problems. The most noticeable negative effects on the environment are pollution from more vehicle demands, litters dropped by visitors, disturbance of natural habitats and cause damages to the landscapes, land cleared for more attractions and heavy usage of resources (UK essays, 2018).

 

Conclusion

Tourism has had a major impact on Singapore. Since tourism is now one of the most important global industries today, Singapore has also got on board with what tourism has to offer. Although Singapore might be a small-sized country, in terms of development Singapore is one of the highest growing counties in the world and tourism has played a key part in this success. By recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of the country, Singapore has been able to create many well-known nature-based and human-made tourist attractions, like Gardens by the Bay, Botanic gardens, Orchard Road and Singapore flyer. These extraordinary tourist attractions are the staples of Singapore’s entire tourism industry. By heavily depending on tourism as the main income, there have been many effects on Singapore’s structure. Government support has helped make a positive outcome on Singapore’s economic system and has lead to the provision of hard currency, creates employment opportunities and accumulates physical capital, but tourism might shake the economic structure when it is not a reliable source. On the socio-cultural approach, the benefits are that tourism is a gateway for exchanging ideas, knowledge, experiences and an opportunity to see value in Singapore’s culture, but the downsides are that tourism can easily lead to many problems in the society like illegal activities. Last but not least, Singapore’s environment is becoming more polluted due to the number of resources that need to be used in tourism, even though Singapore is trying as best as it can to improve and promote environmental awareness.

 

References

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Centre for liveable cities Singapore. (2015). Planning for tourism: creating a vibrant Singapore. Retrieved July 8, 2019, from https://www.clc.gov.sg/docs/default-source/urban…/plan-for-tourism.pdf

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Hooi Hooi Leana, Sio Hing Chong & Chee-Wooi Hooy. (2014). Tourism and economic growth: comparing Malaysia and Singapore. Retrieved July 9, 2019, from http://www.ijem.upm.edu.my/vol8no1/bab08.pdf

Muhammad Azam, Md Mahmudul Alam & Muhammad Haroon Hafeez. (2018, July 20). Effect of tourism on environmental pollution: Further evidence from Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Retrieved July 13, 2019, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652618312010

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Singapore botanic gardens. (n.d.). The history of Singapore botanic gardens. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from https://www.nparks.gov.sg/sbg/about/our-history

Singapore tourism board. (n.d.). Singapore Flyer. Retrieved July 9, 2019, from https://www.visitsingapore.com/th_th/see-do-singapore/recreation-leisure/viewpoints/singapore-flyer/?fbclid=IwAR2Rpys70gMlDWIorssdIOOVWnLB5AEYZAu55mp74VzGXHPN5lfo68q2KZc

Tak Kee Hui & Tai Wai David Wan. (2003, March 18). Singapore’s image as a tourist destination. Retrieved July 9, 2019, from http://www.tourism.tallinn.ee/static/files/043/singapores_image_as_a_tourist_destination.pdf

Travel rave. (2013). Navigating the next phase of Asia’s tourism. Retrieved July 8, 2019, from https://www.visitsingapore.com/content/dam/MICE/Global/bulletin-board/travel-rave-reports/Navigating-the-next-wave-of-Asias-Tourism.pdf

UK essays. (2017, April 20). The nature-based attraction. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from https://www.ukessays.com/essays/tourism/the-nature-based-attraction-tourism-essay.php?fbclid=IwAR2Rpys70gMlDWIorssdIOOVWnLB5AEYZAu55mp74VzGXHPN5lfo68q2KZc

UK essays. (2018, November). SWOT Analysis of Singapore Tourism. Retrieved July 15, 2019, from https://www.ukessays.com/essays/tourism/critical-review-of-singapore-as-a-tourist-destination-tourism-essay.php

UK essays. (2018, November). Various impacts of tourism in Singapore tourism essay. Retrieved July 11, 2019, from https://www.ukessays.com/essays/tourism/various-impacts-of-tourism-in-singapore-tourism-essay.php

World travel & tourism council. (2018, March). Travel & tourism economic impact 2018 Singapore. Retrieved July 15, 2019, from https://hi-tek.io/assets/tourism-statistics/Singapore2018.pdf

Yap Yong Hwang. (2014, October 28). Orchard Road: The luxury of space. Retrieved July 11, 2019, from https://www.academia.edu/29878261/Orchard_Road_The_Luxury_of_Space?fbclid=IwAR3LhwkjPEUCuepXVMtoS_kM13wo_2DYms-QLeVmbRATvIlLcB8Kx1Pf5c8

This article was written by Dallas Kennamer, an undergraduate student of Psychology Department, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Photo by Nemanja .O. on Unsplash

Gender Bias in Marhata Sinamot: Wedding Procession of Toba-Batak

The process of marriage in Indonesia the society recognizes in term of dowry (mahr) for both brides. Dowry (mahr) is a property given to a woman from a man when he wants to marry the woman. In Toba-Batak custom, dowry is similar to sinamot. However, the distinguish dowry is not used for the cost of the wedding ceremony. Meanwhile, sinamot means” buying” – the woman he wants to marry from her family and for the wedding ceremony (Manurung, N. 2015, p. 33). Unlike Sinamot, Marhata Sinamot is an event in determining the amount of sinamot that will be given to women and whole of sinamot is used as the capital to make the wedding ceremony and as the purchase price of women. There is no specific formula for Sinamot. It was determined at the time of Marhata Sinamot by considering several things, such as the education of women – the higher the education the more sinamot they were given, social status – the more Sinamot given by men to be considered as established person and more Sinamot accepted by women is considered as buying an established lady, and the last is the position of the families – if it comes from high clan will be more expensive, is that so. In this era, born as a woman is still unprivileged under the stigma of “women will belong to others” and makes women left behind, unwell educated, and various others discrimination (Levine, D. 2003).

One thing that is overwhelming in our social structure is the ubiquity of gender where Children get gender from everywhere, women get gender from everywhere, so do men. Gender is in a pattern of relationship that develops by the time to define men and women, masculinity and feminity, structurally and regulate people’s relation among society (Eckert, P. n.d). In assessing someone without having a specific formula, we only use our perspectives that create uncertain valuation which makes more discriminations or bias to every individual. This happens almost in the whole layer of our society, in particular case on someone born as Toba Batak who has high patriarchal level –clan- makes women bear more burden comes from its patriarchal system. Clear depiction appears on Batak woman who fundamentally in a lower position than Batak men. Toba-Batak women are not allowed to inherit the clan from to their children, the child they born will inherit the clan of their father who must also be a Batak. For Bataknese, why this is necessary because they still hold the value of clan heir which only comes from the Batak men. Therefore, clan inheritance only by the man is a must for the Toba-Batak community. Furthermore,  placing the position of husband and son in each Bataknese ceremony is evidence of the pride of the Toba-Batak community in having a male role in tradition. This one of social structure creates a lot of discriminations in various fields, both inheritance, and custody rights.

Gender and Marhata Sinamot are two interrelated entities in the Toba-Batak tradition. The how women are constructed through clan and social position determines the received sinamot and the given sinamot by the groom. In determining the sinamot does not have clear standardization, sinamot is determined through the agreement of the two families of each bride and discussed in Marhata Sinamot and on how their parents rate the women based on their personal preference. One woman with another woman might have different sinamot, as well as the given sinamot from the groom. In Marhata Sinamot, the negotiation in term of Sinamot will be dominated by groom families and some consideration will be seen by groom parents in giving sinamot to female families. Not only highly educated, a career woman will get more sinamot rather than jobless women, the type of job is also being a further discussion as the determinants of sinamot. In the stigma of conservative Toba-Batak people, the doctor is placed as the highest, well-being, and as a desirable profession. For women profession, as the doctor will get sinamot more rather than others profession, It does happen in every Toba-Batak men profession as the doctor will give more sinamot caused by the dignity is constructed as the doctor. Being a woman is not easy, particularly if born into Toba Batak custom, one’s position will be different with others in regards on how people see them by the social structure and this constructs the different sinamot for every woman as their dignity, as happen to Toba Batak men.

 

References

Eckert, Penelope, and McConnellGinet, Sally. (n.d). Language and Gender. Second Edition. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from https://web.stanford.edu/~eckert/PDF/Chap1.pdf

Imam Taqiyuddin Abu Bakar Ibn Muhammad Al-Hussaini, Kifayah Al- Akhyar, Beirut: Dar Al-Kutub al-Ilmiah, tth, Juz 2, hlm. 60.

Levine, D. (2003). Are Investments in Daughter Lower when Daughters Move Away? Evidence from Indonesia. Elsevier Science Ltd,31(6)p.1065-1084

Manik, Septiani H. 2011. Makna dan Fungsi Tradisi Sinamot dalam Adat Perkawinan Sukubangsa Batak Toba di Perantauan Surabaya. BioKultur, Vol.I/No.1/Januari-Juni 2112, hal. 28. Retrieved from http://journal.unair.ac.id/download-fullpapers-02%20Helga—-TRADISI%20SINAMOT%20DALAM%20ADAT%20PERKAWINAN%20SUKU%20BATAK%20TOBA%20DI%20PERANTAUAN%20Rev.pdf

Manurung, N. (2015). How Does One Purchase a Woman? The Status of Christian Batak women in Wedding Traditions. Indonesian Feminist Journal, 3(1),33.Retrieved from https://www.jurnalperempuan.org/uploads/1/2/2/0/12201443/ifj_vol_3-article_4-_nurseli_debora_manurung-how_does_one_purchase_a_woman_the_status_of_christian_batak_women_in_wedding_traditions.pdf

Pujar, S. (2016). Gender Inequalities in the cultural sector . Culture Action Europe. Retrieved from https://cultureactioneurope.org/files/2016/05/Gender-Inequalities-in-the-Cultural-Sector.pdf

 

 

This article was written by Ferdinan R. Pilipus Sitanggang, an undergraduate student of Department of English at the Universitas Teknologi Yogyakarta, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Photo by Shardayyy Photography on Unsplash

The Phenomenal Pink Tourism Destination in Indonesia

Discussing LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) is still a controversial issue for Indonesian society by this time. The assumptions are constructed on the community tend to discriminate because they are often considered as the scum. All of that is due to the mindset of our society who still assume that LGBT is a deviant behavior their existence is often undesirable by society (Oetomo, 2013). However, no one would think that it turns out LGBT as one of the attractions for local and foreign tourists in Indonesia. LGBT Tourism Destination or called Pink Tourism is a term for LGBT travel (Huges, 2006) where not a new phenomenon, but its existence is not so highlighted by the wider community, particularly in Indonesia. It called Pink Tourism because pink color has been adopted by the homosexual community when the inverted pink triangle must be worn by gay men at Nazi Germany concentration camps at the time. So that, nowaday, phrase of pink tourism have been the term for tourist attractions which used LGBT as the main attraction (Ni Putu Diah Prabawati et al., 2019). Pink Tourism has become a natural thing for countries in Europe such as Spain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, but not for Indonesia (UNWTO, 2012). Indonesia for this far has only been mostly recognized by its tourism sector in term of natural and ethnicity. However, it turns out that we keep taboo tourism in the society called LGBT tourism. Many tourists want to visit Indonesia because they want to feel this Indonesia LGBT tourism. Two regions as the most popular tourism in Indonesia also store lucrative LGBT tourism, which is Yogyakarta and Bali. Indonesia is truly rich with its tourist attractions where all over parts of Indonesia has its attractiveness. However, as we know from all of that Special Region of Yogyakarta and Bali are the most want to visit places in Indonesia. This two well-known regions not only provide a beautiful landscape and ethnicity but also amazing and interesting Pink Tourism for their tourists.

Special Region of Yogyakarta is very known by their Javanese culture with Yogyakarta Palace so that make Yogyakarta is amazed by the local and foreign tourists, because in this digital era, Yogyakarta is still the most genuine city with its culture. Others than that typical destination, Yogyakarta also has a no less interesting LGBT tourism destination, Raminten Cabaret Show. “Raminten” Cabaret Show is one of the Pink Tourism in Yogyakarta located at the edge of Malioboro Street. Generally, this club employs the talented transsexual and transgender in Yogyakarta where those LGBT will entertain the audiences by dancing and singing. This Raminten Cabaret Show has been the most attractive and interesting tourist spot nearby Malioboro street for local and foreign tourists to watch Yogyakarta drag queen performance after shopping around Malioboro street or deliberately coming for them. This situation is being controversial when in a one Indonesia society is completely rejecting the LGBT community among them in another hand giving faith to those kinds of LGBT club in Yogyakarta. In addition to Yogyakarta with its Raminten Cabaret Show, Bali also has its no less interesting pink tourism icon. Before that, we all know that Bali or commonly called The land of Gods is the most favorite destination in the world. Bali has a lot of nature destinations but who knows regardless of their nature, Bali is being one of the most want to visit place for gay people, proved  by several search source in (Google, 2017) that found 15.000.000 result by “gay Bali” keyword (Ni Putu Diah Prabawati et al., 2019). By the data, we do not surprisingly know that Bali also has its own Pink Tourism to accommodate their tourists’ needs, especially for them with different sexual orientation. Bali Joe is a Bali’s gay club located in Seminyak region which is one of the Lands of Gods’ pink tourism. Bali Joe does not only attract local tourist but more even to foreign tourists and who knows that Bali Joe also gives profits to the around society. The level of their income from parking fee in Seminyak is more contributed by tourists visiting gay club compared to other tourists attractions, besides the mobility of tourists who wants to visit this pink tourism also give more profit to society around Seminyak and stimulate their tourism, particularly in management services and accommodation hospitality (Ni Putu Diah Prabawati et al., 2019). Bali Joe has been the most popular pink tourism in Bali even to the international. Their existence giving a positive impact on the society around them and increase Bali tourism destination either directly or indirectly.

A controversial phenomenon for Indonesia society is when being LGBT is considered as social deviation and the crum we also welcome the LGBT entertaining even being LGBT giving a blessing for anyone or this country. When many of LGBT experienced so many denials, evidently there are also many LGBTians being the public spotlight and the icon. Yogyakarta and Bali, this two the most famous regions in Indonesia has proved us that LGBT in tourism sector also can be one of the proponents of stability in society, particularly in economy pilar. The places which employ LGBT not only to accommodate the LGBT but also giving a positive implication for the society around them. Seeing LGBT from a tourism perspective is interesting. It brings us to see the different perspectives of LGBT from the positive sides that LGBT is still having a faith to work and earning money and their existence giving benefits to everyone around them.

 

References

Oetomo, Dede. 2013. Hidup Sebagai LGBT di Asia: Laporan Nasional Indonesia, Bali: Dialog Komunitas LGBT Nasional.

Huges, H. L., 2006. Pink Tourism Holiday of Gay Men and Lesbian. London: CAB International.

UNWTO, 2012. Global Report on LGBT Tourism AM Reports: Volume Three, Madrid, Spain: World Tourism Organization

Ni Putu Diah Prabawati, A.A. Ngurah Anom Kumbara, I. B. Gde Pujaastawa., 2019. Implikasi Kunjungan Wisatawan Gay di Seminyak, Bali. JUMPA Volume 05, Nomor 02., Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/46335-1153-98323-1-10-20190129.pdf

 

 

This article was written by Ferdinan R. Pilipus Sitanggang, an undergraduate student of Department of English at the Universitas Teknologi Yogyakarta, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Photo by Nemanja .O. on Unsplash

Military Conscription and Transgenders in Thailand

April can be a matter of life and death for young Thai men.

And no, it surely does not involve with Songkran, a popular water fight festival in the scorching heat of Thailand. It is a military conscription, a military enlistment process which Thai men who aged 21 years old and over must take part and choose between taking a voluntary military service for six months to one year, or going through a lottery system which the process is based on pure luck, just picking a card to see if the card is ‘red’ or ‘black’. While getting a black card means a permanent exemption, a red card is kind of a one-way ticket to military enlistment for 1-2 years. Plain and simple as it is, the lottery process could bring the toughest man to his knees.

Thailand has been a country where military service is mandatory since 1905, even though the country has not been in belligerency for decades. According to the Military Service Act, B.E. 2497(1954), any Thais who were born male and aged 21 years old must attend a selective process of military conscription at recruitment centers throughout the country, and the ones who escape the selective process would be sentenced to prison for no longer than three years for violating Article 45.

The spotlight of the military conscription news reports each year, however, is on appealing transgenders who are also required to show up at the recruitment center. Most trans get exempted from the military after a medical examination. Some of them, however, are still required to go through a thrilling experience, drawing a card as if they are in the settings of a survival movie. Despite all these facts, Thai media constantly present transgenders in military conscription to be “prettier than women” or “cannot differentiate them from women”. For example, the news from Thairath with a headline “เกณฑ์ทหาร กาฬสินธุ์ ประชันความงามสาวสอง จนท.ขอเบอร์ ประกบไหล่ถ่ายรูป”(2019) reported nothing but praising beautiful transgenders; “Normally, the spotlight in recruitment centers would be with transgenders who compete for each other with their beauty, their alluring makeup, and their beautiful dresses like today, which many pretty transgenders who are as pretty as women came to the recruitment centers. Those boys and recruiting officers could not help getting to know them, asking for their numbers and taking pictures with them. They surely made a place livelier” is what can be found in the report. The images of transgenders are stereotyped and presented superficially as mood makers and ornaments in a military recruitment center, the place where men are brought together to serve the country and ‘be a man’ in a patriarchal culture. Conversely, little is known about the essential part of transgenders and military conscription, such as the process and their lives in the military. Jetsada Taesombat, a coordinator in Thai Transgender Alliance (TGA) said that “When there are news reports about military conscription, we do not want the news to focus mainly on the appearance of those transgenders, we want the reports to be more on the procedure and how the officers treat transgenders” Jetsada also mentioned that “the more there are news reports like that, the more we can see biased thinking, by presenting [transgenders as] bizarre and ridiculous, and create a norm that only beautiful trans can be accepted by the society”(“ไขข้อสงสัยที่คนไม่ค่อยรู้ “เมื่อกะเทยต้องไปเกณฑ์ทหาร””, 2016)

 

Transgenders as An Exemption

But how exactly do transgenders deal with military conscription? Being transgender can be an exemption from conscription as Thai categorized them as people in Category 2. The military has categorized Thai males as four categories: people in Category 1 are the ones in perfect health. Category 2 means people who are not in perfect health, but not counted as disability, for example, with a squint, simple goiter, or twisted limbs. Category 3 is the ones with a disease that cannot be cured in 30 days. Finally, Category 4 which is people with disorders that is not competent to be in the military, for example, asthma, obesity, and mental disorders. People in Category 2 would get exempted but may be called to draw a card in case there are not enough men in Category 1. Category 3 would get a one-year exemption and must come to recruitment centers again next year, while people in Category 4 would get an immediate exemption. Transgenders are classified as Category 2, people with a gender identity disorder. However, the military requires transgenders to have a piece of evidence confirming their gender identity. The main criteria are how the feminine is their appearance and their medical certificate. For transgenders who have been through transsexual surgery or have breasts from going through breast augmentation or taking estrogen hormones, there is a considerably high chance that they would be exempted from the military service. For the medical certificate, transgenders who do not have breasts or never have been through transsexual surgery must go through a psychological test with 800 questions and an interview by 1-3 psychologies at 20 military hospitals throughout Thailand to receive a medical certificate confirming that they have gender identity disorders. The transgenders who do not possess the above requirements at least have to dress femininely, but it is still a risky way, and trans might still have to go through the process and draw a card. (“อย่าสับสน เมื่อ “สาวประเภทสอง” ต้องเกณฑ์ทหาร มาอ่านเตรียมความพร้อม”, 2019)

 

Human Rights Violations: How Military Conscription Becomes A Nightmare

The military conscription in Thailand, similar to most of the countries with compulsory military service, has tied men with the idea of being stronger and more competent of protecting the country. Conversely, anyone with feminine characteristics, like women and transgenders, would be excluded from the world of ‘real men’. It is a problematic belief as it promotes male supremacy and sexism in the country covertly. However, the idea of patriarchy and sexism in military conscription has been widely accepted by many Thais, even Thai women and transgenders to get exempt from military conscription because they do not want to lose their job, getting payment which is lower than standard payment, or even worse, a poor treatment and human rights violations in the military camp. Even for Thai men themselves, there are cases of Thai men who avoided conscription. Some Thai men may avoid conscription by going through Thai Reserve Officer Training Corps Student program for three years while they are studying in high school or college. Others who have not taken the course from financial problems or a lack of suitability might offer a bribe to the recruiting officers or even pretend to be transgenders to avoid the draft. There are many cases of fake transgenders that the army itself had to come out to warn that fake transgenders cannot dodge the draft, for the army has thorough checking procedures. (‘Army: Fake transgenders cannot dodge military conscription’, 2019) The problem of fake transgenders has led to more rigorous physical examination procedures which sometimes seem like sexual harassment.

As mentioned earlier, human rights violations are the major causes many Thais would like to avoid conscription. There are frequently leaked violence reports in the military camp, like a recent video which conscripts were punished by being shouted at and hit very hard with a stick while they were crouching on the floor. There is also a clip of naked Thai draftees being forced to lie on each other and pretended to have sexual intercourse to humiliate the conscripts. Some of these young conscripts even got beaten to death like a case of Chanont Nantabutr, a young conscript who died mysteriously with bruises. The autopsy report confirmed that the bruises are from getting beaten in the camp, yet the army neglected to be responsible for Chanont’s death, claiming that the victim fell from the tower himself. (ญาติร้องนายกฯ ทหารเกณฑ์เสียชีวิตมีเงื่อนงํา, 2019)

 

Mistreatment of Thai Transgenders in Military Conscription

Moving to transgenders in Thailand, they have fought a long way to get treated more humanely. In the past, transgenders who wanted to get exempt from conscription would be certified as a person with mental disorders in medical records. This affected their lives and their jobs severely, for the title ‘mental disorders’ made them look like insane people who cannot control themselves. The transgender called for this title to be changed, and their request was finally accepted in 2011. The military has changed the title of their condition from “โรคจิตวิกลจริต” (mental disorder) to “ภาวะเพศสภาพไม่ตรงกับเพศกำเนิด” (gender identity disorder) which can be directly translated as “gender identity does not match their biological sex” that sounds more appropriate. Still, some problems caused by gender discrimination have not disappeared. When transgenders apply for companies, the certificate of military exemption or Sor Dor 43 would clearly show that they have so-called ‘gender identity disorder’. Transgenders have to label and stigmatized themselves as people who are not ‘usual’ by the norms of gender binary just because they do not want to be conscripted in the army, which is commonly known to have serious human rights violations, especially for transgenders.

Many transgenders get harassed sexually since they set foot in the recruitment centers. There are reports of transgenders who get catcalled or commanded to ‘entertain’ other men in the recruitment center by dancing funnily, serving water to recruiters or sitting on their laps. Some trans who do not have medical certificates may be ordered to show their breasts and private parts in a room with recruitment officers as part of “physical examination”.(Panichakul , 2016) The situation may be worse for transgenders who do not know about the procedures to get exempted from the military and draw a red card. According to Ronnaphoom Samakkeekarom, a lecturer from Faculty of Public Health, Thammasat University, revealed that many transgenders have called and sent messages to Thai Transgender Alliance that they want to commit suicide just thinking of military conscription. (เข้าฤดูเกณฑ์ทหาร เครือข่ายเพื่อนกะเทยฯ แนะสื่อเลิกเสนอข่าวเชิงลบ-ตลก, 2017)

There is a case of a transgender who got in the military camp and got sexually harassed. He revealed that he was treated as a sex object. Drillmasters could walk to him and grope his bottoms anytime, and he was too scared to tell anyone. Moreover, the drillmasters often verbally abused him, asking him with sexual questions. ‘How many boys have you had sex with?’ ‘Which boy do you like here?’ or even ‘Who do you want to give oral sex?’. These are only part of his traumatic life in the military camp. The worst part, however, occurred when many drillmasters came to the victim’s bed at night. They forced him to lie on their bodies, thinking that the victim liked it. One of them showed a private part in front of the victim’s face, and the drillmasters later ordered their underlings to do fake sex with him as a joke. Being scared as no one could help him, the victim decided to laugh along. He pretended to be happy while asking himself whether he is still a human. He admitted that he wanted to commit suicide with life in a military camp, but he told himself he cannot die. Fortunately, his family has good connections with a commander, so they pulled some strings and asked the commander to take him out of the troop. He said that he hates using connections, and it was unfair for other people who do not have this kind of privilege. However, he thinks he will surely end up killing himself someday if he continues staying in the troop. (Soontornchatrawat, 2018)

 

Unforeseeable Future and Possible Solutions

Should the practice of military conscription continue? Personally, no, it should not. The compulsory conscription should be abolished. The practice not only affected transgenders and women who got discriminated by the patriarchal society, but also men who do not want to get treated badly and violently inside a camp. Moreover, most countries nowadays do not fight with all those tanks and guns in a war, but more in the form of economic warfare. According to Sunisa Thiwakorndamrong, the deputy spokesperson of Pheu Thai party which support the abolishment of military conscriptions commented that “the main treat of every country nowadays is terrorism which is not fighting with army troops but by diplomacy and negotiations. Therefore, the army should minimize the troops but still maintain the troop to be strong, effective, and have good welfare”.(“หมวดเจี๊ยบ” หนุนเลิกเกณฑ์ทหาร ยันภัยคุกคามเปลี่ยนไป ชี้ไม่ควรบังคับ”, 2019). There are about 100,000 conscripts in Thailand now, and many of them do not serve the country as soldiers, but more as slaves who work for commander’s house, mowing their lawn and cleaning their houses. Compulsory military conscription should be changed to completely voluntary military service, which is not limited to men only, but widely opened for people with different genders who can surpass the army’s criteria, regardless of being women or transgenders. The idea of trans labeling themselves as people with ‘gender identity disorder’ so that they can get an exemption from conscription would disappear. Moreover, there should be a reformation in the camp. The troop size could get minimized to be fewer people but more effective troops with more effective measures to prevent human rights violations inside the military camp. With fewer conscripts, the salary of a volunteer could be changed from no more than 10,000 baht per month which is not enough for most conscripts now, to a standard minimum wage of at least 15,000 baht per month. The soldiers’ living and accommodations could also get improved.

Transgenders should not be labeled as having disorders. They should not fear getting treated as sex objects or clowns, and no one should be forced to get in the military, saying that it is the duty tied with their sex at birth. Military service should not be compulsory as ‘men’s duty’ anymore, but a duty that any citizens with any genders can take part without being scared that they could get inhumane treatment in the camp. It seems to be far away from reality right now, as Thailand is governed by the junta government. The military is against the idea of the abolishment of military conscription, but I hope that someday there would be changes in the country. In the end, we cannot ignore the fact that every gender is equal, and every gender, every single person, deserves to be treated humanely and respectfully.

 

References

Military Service Act (Thailand), 1954. Retrieved from http://www.tdc.mi.th/pdf/พ.ร.บ.รับราชการ

ทหาร%202497.pdf

Nanuam, W. (2019, April 4). Army: Fake transgenders cannot dodge military conscription. Bangkok

Post. Retrieved from https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1656440/

army-fake-transgenders-cannot-dodge-military-conscription

Panichakul, I. (2016, March 31). ไขข้อสงสัยที่คนไม่ค่อยรู้ “เมื่อกะเทยต้องไปเกณฑ์ทหาร”. Post Today. Retrieved from

https://www.posttoday.com/politic/report/424568

Soontornchatrawat, W. (2018, August 25). ทหารเกณฑ์ เพศทางเลือก ผู้ถูกขโมยชีวิตในค่ายทหาร. Way Magazine.

Retrieved from https://waymagazine.org/

เกณฑ์ทหาร กาฬสินธุ์ ประชันความงามสาวสอง จนท.ขอเบอร์ ประกบไหล่ถ่ายรูป. (2019, April 9). Thairath. Retrieved from

https://www.thairath.co.th/news/local/northeast/1541083

เข้าฤดูเกณฑ์ทหาร เครือข่ายเพื่อนกะเทยฯ แนะสื่อเลิกเสนอข่าวเชิงลบ-ตลก. (2017, March 30). Prachathai. Retrieved from

https://prachatai.com/journal/2017/03/70824

ญาติร้องนายกฯ ทหารเกณฑ์เสียชีวิตมีเงื่อนงำ. (2019, May 23). Channel 3. Retrieved from

http://news.ch3thailand.com/local/95627

อย่าสับสน เมื่อ “สาวประเภทสอง” ต้องเกณฑ์ทหาร มาอ่านเตรียมความพร้อม. (2019, April 2). Thairath. Retrieved from

https://www.thairath.co.th/news/local/bangkok/1535540

 

 

This article was written by Suchanaad Dhanakoses, an undergraduate student of Department of English at the Thammasat University, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Photo by israel palacio on Unsplash

The Price of Love: Bride Price in Thailand and Indonesia

‘You can live without money, but you cannot live without love’, the romantic quote that many people may have heard before, or even grown up with it. However, in some parts of the world, you cannot love without money, and marriage is more than a ceremony to declare two people’s love. Some lovers cannot be together because of their status differences, and sometimes marriage strongly involves social status and financial stability. They are the bride price I am talking about, the price of love.

Bride price is often mistaken with the dowry. Bride price or bridal dowry is defined to be the assets which a groom must pay to the bride or the bride’s family and vice versa.  Dowry is the assets which a bride must pay to the groom or the groom’s family to get married. This article will focus mainly on bride price in Indonesia and Thailand, for bride price is a tradition that takes place commonly in many parts of Southeast Asian cultures.

Dowry and bride price have been parts of ancient cultures since long ago. According to Anderson (2007) “The dowry system dates back at least to the ancient Greek city-states (800 to 300 BCE) and to the Romans by around 200 BCE. The Greco-Roman institution of dowry was then eclipsed for a time as the Germanic observance of brideprice became prevalent throughout much of Europe, but dowry was widely reinstated in the late Middle Ages.” Moreover, bride price also appears in other ancient civilizations, such as ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Hebrew, Aztec and Inca cultures, but most of them have disappeared through time.

Noteworthy, it is believed that the bride price system would be adopted in countries in which women have a major role in agriculture.  According to Boserup (as cited in Anderson, 2007), “brideprice is found in societies in which agriculture relies on light tools (such as the hoe) and thus where women are actively engaged. In contrast, dowry is more common in heavy plow agriculture where the role of women is limited.” The statement is compatible with former conditions of bride price in Southeast Asian countries where females have major roles in agriculture to men. However, it is remarkable that many of these agricultural countries have been industrialized, changing from agricultural countries to industrial countries like in Thailand which does not focus wholly on agriculture, but also on tourism, industry, and manufacturing.

Moving to the bride price in Thailand and Indonesia. Bride price in both countries has a slightly different concept. For Indonesia, It is remarkable that Indonesia is a country with different regional cultures. Therefore, in some areas, the bride price may be different. In some regions, the bride price is not commonly practiced, while in others, the bride price is compulsory. Bride price in Indonesia is called ‘Mas-kawin’ or as known as ‘Mahar’, The idea of Mahar is Islamic belief, making it compulsory for marriage as stated in Al-Qur’an.“Mahar in etymology, meaning dowry. In terms of terminology, mahr is a mandatory gift from a prospective husband to a prospective wife as the sincerity of a prospective husband to create a love for a wife to her future husband or a gift that is required for a prospective husband to his future wife, both in the form and service liberate it and teach something useful” (Nurhadi, 2018). The bride price is not limited to money or jewelry, but can be animals or religion-related assets, for instance, Al-Qur’an and other praying appliances.

In Surat An-Nisa, the fourth chapter of Al-Qur’an stated that “Give a dowry or (dowry) to a woman (whom you marry) as a gift full of willingness”. (QS Al-Nisâ ’: 04) According to Nurhadi (2018), Mas-kawin or Mahar is compulsory bride price which men have to pay. The amount of the bride price, however, is not stated which means that it would up to the decision of the bride’s and the groom’s family. “Mahar is an obligation for men, not women, in harmony with the principles of Shari’a that a woman is not obliged to pay at all, either as a mother, a daughter, or a wife. Indeed, what is charged to provide livelihood is men, both in the form of dowry and livelihood, and the others, because men are better able to try to find sustenance. While the work of a woman is to prepare a house, take care of children, and give birth to offspring.” (Nurhadi, 2018)

The bride price tradition in Indonesia may vary to each region, for instance, the bride price or bridal dowry on Java Island would be combined with local traditions. “In a traditional Javanese wedding ceremony, there are some traditional ceremonial phases held such as proposal, “peningsetan” and up to the wedding day. A bridal dowry means of giving something from the prospective groom as a means of engaging the future bride and her family. According to the Javanese ancient tradition, it mainly consists of a set of betel leaves called sirih ayu, pieces of clothes with various motifs, fabric for kebaya (a traditional attire for Indonesian woman), traditional belt called “stagen”, fruits, groceries (rice, sticky rice, sugar, salt, cooking oil, and kitchen spice), a couple of marriage rings, and some cash as a means of the prospective groom’s contribution.” (Puspitorini et al., 2018) Conversely, in other parts of Indonesia like Bali the tradition of bride price may not be a necessary part of marriage, but more as a tradition that the bride and the groom can choose to follow as gifts to the prospective bride. The amount of bride price in Indonesia is normally determined by the prospective bride’s education, social status, and occupation. As Mahar has no standard rates, sometimes it causes the bride price to be so high that the groom cannot afford.

In Thailand, apart from Mahar which is a common practice among Thai Muslim community, bride price is not compulsory but more as a tradition to follow. Bride price in Thailand is categorized as ‘Sinsod’ (สินสอด) and ‘Tongmun’ (ทองหมั้น). “Sinsod” is cash bride price, while Tongmun is gold and jewelry. Contrast to Mas-kawin or Mahar, Sinsod would be assets which the groom gives the bride’s family, not the bride herself. The bride price would be decided and discussed between the bride and the groom’s family. All the asset would later belong to the bride’s parents. The bride’s family would have more negotiating power, and they can decide whether to return the bride price to the newlyweds after the marriage or keep it to themselves.

As stated before, brideprice is commonly found in societies in which agriculture relies on light tools which are the characteristics of Thailand in the past. However, the practice is still followed even though Thailand has been industrialized and agriculture is not the only major source of the country’s economic growth anymore. Many traditional beliefs are constructing the idea of Sinsod in Thailand. As Thailand is a country with a strong concept of family values, Thais view Sinsod, or bride price given to the prospective bride’s family as a way to show gratefulness (ความกตัญญู) to the bride’s parents, especially the bride’s mother, as they take care of the bride and spend a lot of money to get the bride a good education and a good future. Sometimes they would refer bride price as ‘ค่าน้ำนม’ which can be directly translated as ‘the price of mother’s milk’. Therefore, Sinsod is viewed as a way to express gratitude from both the groom and the bride. It could be argued, however, that the bride’s parents are not the only group that takes care of their children and spends money to raise them. The groom’s family also do the same thing. Some scholars would argue that bride price is a cost for the prospective bride’s household labor as a daughter has to move out of her house to take care of her husband instead of her parents. “Bride-price in some countries including Thailand is viewed as women generally join the household of their groom at the time of marriage, brideprice is typically considered to be the payment a husband owes to a bride’s parents for the right to her labor and reproductive capabilities. The amount of brideprice required has usually been rather uniform throughout society, where the size is linked directly to the number of rights which are transferred and not to the wealth level of the families involved.” (Quale; Goody, as cited in Anderson, 2007)

Apart from the family values concept in Thailand, It is believed that the idea of bride price has developed from the limited role of women in households according to the patriarchal society. While Thai men in the past take a leadership role of the breadwinner of the family, Thai women have the role of the supporters who are responsible for household chores such as taking care of children, cooking and cleaning. Therefore, those women lost the opportunity to earn a living by themselves and became dependent on their spouses. Sin sod, which was kept by the bride’s family, would support the bride in case she breaks up with her husband and must earn a living for herself and her children again. Thais also believe that bride price is an assurance that the prospective bride would be taken care well and that the newlyweds would have the financial stability to start a family and to raise children.

The problem of bride price in Thailand is similar to Indonesia. It is an incredibly high price that the groom must pay. The standard cost can be 100,000 – 300,000 Baht (~3,200- 9,600 USD). There are many criteria for the amount of Bride price in Thailand. “its amount is based on your Thai fiancee’s status, education, occupation and other related social background information (such as her virginity). An average middle-class, university-educated Thai lady deserves a dowry of 100,000- 300,000 baht. A dowry of a million baht for an uneducated lady of modest means is just ridiculous. Thai dowry prices fall drastically if your bride-to-be has been previously married, already has children, or is not a virgin anymore. In fact, in most of these instances, no dowry deserves to be paid.” (“Dowry in Thailand”, n.d.) We can see another problem from the statement that the bride’s value is determined mainly by her virginity and her background. Virginity of the bride is the main criterion to be evaluated, as the concept reflects patriarchal cultures. The concept of Sin sod evaluates women who are ‘virgin’ to be pure and worthy women, while women who are married would lose her innocence, purity, and value. Moreover, the concept emphasizes judging people by their social status and background, evaluating their lives to be ‘more worthy’ or ‘less worthy’ than others. It could be viewed as an idea against equality, promoting social categorization. Bride price in Thailand has also become an obstacle for some couples because the bride’s side asked for high bride price which the groom cannot afford.

In conclusion, bride price in Indonesia and Thailand has some differences such as the beneficiary of the bride price, the origin, and the practice. The concept of bride price is still debated whether it is suitable or beneficial in modern days. While bride price seems like a tradition that promotes women evaluation and labeling derived from a patriarchal society, others may argue, considering bride price as part of a tradition which does not cause great harm. Remarkably, the comparison of bride price in Indonesia and Thailand shows that the concept of bride price can be surprisingly similar. They said ‘love has no boundaries’, but is the quote still applicable in the case of dowry and bride price? Or in the end, the ideas of love and social status is just inseparable? For now, the answer seems to depend tightly on each person’s perspective.

 

Reference

Nurhadi (2018). Mahar Services (Dowry Non-Material) According To Mazhab Imam Hanafi And Mazhab

Imam Syafi’i. Indonesian Journal of Islamic Law, 1(1), 82-101. Retrieved July 22, 2019, from http://ejournal.pascasarjana-iainjember.id/index.php/IJIL/article/download/237/40/

Puspitorini, A., Soeyono, R. D., Faidah, M., & Perwita, E. S. (2018). The Form and the Meaning of Bridal

Dowry in Indonesia. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Social, Applied Science and Technology in Home Economics (ICONHOMECS 2017), 112, 249-252. DOI:10.2991/iconhomecs-17.2018.57

Anderson, S. (2007). The Economics of Dowry and Brideprice. Journal of Economic Perspectives,21(4),

151-174. DOI:10.1257/jep.21.4.151

Dowry in Thailand. (n.d.). Retrieved July 23, 2019, from https://www.thaiembassy.com/thailand/thai-

dowry.php

 

 

This article was written by Suchanaad Dhanakoses, an undergraduate student of Department of English at the Thammasat University, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Photo by Shardayyy Photography on Unsplash

Best Practice of Talent Management and Skills in Industry 4.0 Era: The Case of Banking Industry

The fourth industrial revolution, commonly known as Industry 4.0, is bringing rapid technological advancements -powered by the rise of digital technologies: cloud, big data, Internet of Things, Analytics, and Machine Learning-, changing the nature of work and increasing demand for a skilled workforce. Technology’s impact on the workforce was inevitable, adding that the most important action was responding to digital developments to optimize the workforce and its talents. Hence, industry 4.0 is rapidly transforming not only IT but business in general, particularly in terms of human-technology relationships.

The demands of the employees in industry 4.0 have been slowly transformed. Technologically-skilled labor, critical thinker, and creative labor are the most preferable employee in industry 4.0. Meanwhile, basic skills are mostly not applicable in this industry. These led to the emergence of skill gap—the gap between expertise’ needs and the capacity of the workforce. Therefore, human resources contribute to the challenges towards IR4.0 that have been threatening the global business economy. As a reference, there was a survey involving 123 Human Resource senior managers, which revealed that 70% of the problem is due to incoming worker’s poor skills, 61% Baby Boomer retirements and 51% is due to the inability to retain key talents. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, it is estimated that 49 percent of the activities that people are paid to do in the global economy has the potential to be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technology.

Besides, the employee’s skills to cope with technology automation can be varied depending on the sectors and mix of activity types. Many business sectors apply the Augmented Reality Strategy, as the effort for business sectors to apply the automation for completing the working operation. The aims are to assist and support the human’s activity. The strategy will transform how we learn, make decisions, and interact with the physical world. It will also change how enterprises serve customers, train employees, design and create products, and manage their value chains, and, ultimately, how they compete.

This writing aims to elaborate best practice of talent management and skills in the case of Banking Industry. This sector is particularly important because, banks have been relying on technology for quite some time to reduce costs, optimize processes and speed up delivery time for products and services. Banks are also feeling more pressure from clients growing expectations to offer new digital options. Banking, from the perspective of industry 4.0, calls for an even greater level of digitalization. However, Banking is also an industry which relies heavily on human resources.

For instance, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported by McKinsey Global Institute analysis illustrated the degree of automation potential for the various industrial sector in the US. In particular, Finance and Insurance has 43% chance to be potentially automated, comprised of management (0-10%), expertise (10-20%), interface (10-20%), unpredictable physical (10-20%), collect data (40-50%), process data (60-70%), predictable physical (90-100%).

Meanwhile, the trend in the banking industry shows that in the digital era, customers tend to utilize transaction through the digital channel. In 2011, bank customers who made transactions in e-channels in Indonesia increased by about six times. Nevertheless, previously there were only 5% to 36%. Meanwhile, starting in 2017, the customers of Mandiri mobile banking reached 37%, 17% of internet banking, and 40% ATM users. Then, the customers who visited the branch offices were only around 6%. The changing pattern of business service highly depends on digital transformation, which affects the activity of human capital. However, industry 4.0 increase the level of competitiveness, and the possibility of the talent market in the global economy. For instance, globalization and issues of IR 4.0 have enabled talented employees not to limit the marketing of their skills within one region, but they can look for jobs in firms across the world with digital skill. Because of this, experts are mainly worried about the possibility of intense global competition for talents which may draw attention towards how talent is recruited, retained, developed and managed yet, the uncertainly of industrialization of 4. 0.

Despite the advancement of technology in Industry 4.0, human capital remains an important element to run the business sector. Hence, how banking creates effective talent management to ensure that employees can make use of their talent to achieve an absolute success of a business?

Besides, talent management and skill in industry 4.0 are closely linked to human-technology relationships. The idea behind talent management is built on the fact that business is run by people. Therefore, putting the right people in the right job positions is what constituted a good talent management and for future need. The employability, knowledge, and competence are indicators of talent which determine the success of a business. Talent identification and development help business in identifying employees that later been develop as a leader of the future that represents the combination of a cyber-physical system due to the diversification of Industry 4.0.

There are two main steps of mostly bank industry to manage talent management and skill in the fourth industrial revolution. Firstly, talent management should start with the business strategy and what signifies talent towards a business. Employee as a potential resource is the source of the influence of an organization because the employee moves the business. Also, vice versa, moving the business means having to move employee with competitive strategy.

The strategy is also needed to understand the know-how the business’s goals are achieved. The bank industry understands that employees move the business. Thus, in some reasons, banking sector prepares the employee candidates or newly employed to have a deep understanding regarding the business’s goal.

Secondly, it is important to enhance and maintain the skills of new and existing employees through training, career development, commitment, and rewards. The recruitment and selection of employees in finding talented employees to an appropriate position by providing an effective training program. Career development is a lifelong learning process that continuously adds work experience. The positive relationship to job satisfaction and retain employees increased productivity and performance of the business sector. Meanwhile, employee hopes to get a reward for what they have contributed to an organization; therefore rewards affect the performance of every employee and affect their commitment. Commitment is interdependent with emotions because employees need physical and emotional support.

 

Conclusion

The management of advanced technology still depends on human capital. The case of the banking industry illustrates that the significant role of human capital is to drive business move. Therefore, the competition of the global economy in Industry 4.0 relies on human’s skills and creativity to manage the digital transformation to reach organization’s success. In this regard, a certain incentive given by the business sector is significant to enhance and maintain employee’s performance. Indeed, the fourth industrial revolution does not always pose the risk of job loss. This article opens the upcoming research on how the comparison of each banking industry in Indonesia improves their performance perpetually towards Industry 4.0.

 

 

This article was written by Archita Nur Fitrian, an undergraduate student of International Relations Studies at the Universitas Gadjah Mada, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

Crimes Against Humanity in the Philippines: How does ICC response towards Duterte’s War on Drugs?

Rodrigo Duterte was appointed as President of the Philippines on July 1, 2016. At the same time, he realized his political promise to catch up drug lords, through a war on drugs policy. War on drugs attempts to eliminate drug trafficking and use in the Philippines by arresting and/or killing dealers, both large dealers and small dealers, and drug users. In its implementation, Duterte hired police, paramilitaries, and assassins (BBC News, 2016).

The Philippines did suffer from drug emergencies as Duterte said in his speeches. According to data from the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) in 2016, drug users in the Philippines reached 1.8 million, equivalent to 1.8% of the total population of the Philippines which reached 100.98 million people. The data was collected from the age range of 10-69 years which at least had used drugs even once in his life (Gavilan, 2016).

In an interview with Russia Today, Duterte said that drugs were a threat that could destroy the young generation of Filipinos who became assets for the country. He repeatedly said that he would kill anyone who was caught in a drug case (Russia Today, 2017). Duterte gave an order to arrest drug addicts and dealers if possible. However, if they fight with violence that can threaten the lives of the police or security officers who arrest them, the police or security officers are allowed to kill (Al Jazeera English, 2016).

From July 1, 2016, to September 30, 2018, war on drugs has resulted in 4,948 people being killed in the operation. Moreover, data from the Philippines National Police (PNP) showed that 22,983  people were victims of murder since the implementation of the war on drugs. This number does not include thousands of others killed by gunmen (Human Rights Watch, 2018).

 

Human Rights Constitution in the Philippines

The Philippines has committed to the promotion of human rights, as evidenced by the ratification of several international agreements on human rights, namely the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on October 23, 1986. Furthermore, the ICCPR was instrumental in determining penalties for lawbreakers in the Philippines.

After ratifying the ICCPR, the Philippines then drafted its constitution by including human rights values in article 3 about Bill of Rights of the Philippine Constitution, which was ratified in 1987. Before that, the Philippines did not have a fixed constitution. Regulations imposed in his country are governed by the president in office at that time. That is what makes human rights regulations unclear in the Philippines before the Philippine constitution is ratified. Until now, the Philippine constitution has become the only law that underlies human rights regulation in the Philippines, excluding international agreements that are a source of international law.

In the same year, 1987, the Philippines became the first Asian country to abolish the death penalty. The Philippines abolished the death penalty twice, first abolished in 1987, and the second in 2006 (Armandhanu, 2016). After 2006, the Philippines did not apply the death penalty. Meanwhile, Duterte said he would re-implement the death penalty and direct shooting at drug dealers.

However, until 2018, the Philippine constitution has not been changed. Even though Duterte continued shooting at drug lords. Constitutionally, that cannot be justified. Plus, the Republic Act No. 9165 regarding drugs also does not write the death penalty, but a life sentence.

 

Violations against Human Rights in the War on Drugs Policy

The Philippine Constitution which specifically deals with human rights as contained in article 03 of the bill of rights. Article 03 consists of 22 sections that discuss the details of individual and community rights. War on drugs policy violated Article 03 Chapter 01, Chapter 14 (1), Chapter 19 (1), and Chapter 22 in the Philippine Constitution.

  • Chapter 01: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws” (The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, 1987, p. 3). It shows that every human being has the right to live and obtain freedom. Considering that part, President Duterte has violated the life rights of his citizens by killing without a court of law. This shows that the murder of drug dealers that he did was unfair to the community and violated the basic rules of the human rights constitution in the Philippines.
  • Chapter 14 (1): “No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law” (The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, 1987, p. 5). The Chapter clearly emphasizes that no individual can be asked for an answer to a criminal act without legal process. In other words, each individual has the right to undergo legal proceedings for his criminal actions. In the case of President Duterte, the state did not provide an opportunity for drug dealers to undergo regulated legal processes. The drug dealers were shot directly no matter where and whenever, without a court of law. This will be related to chapter 22 concerning the bill of attainder.
  • Chapter 19 (1): “Excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion Perpetua” (The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, 1987, p. 6). The punishment given by the state must be humane by not harassing human dignity. If you have to be given a death sentence, it only applies to very violent crimes. While the war on drugs contradicted the Chapter. According to President Duterte, drug crime is the most heinous crime in the Philippines because it has damaged the young generation of Filipinos (Regencia, 2016). However, many dealers who were killed were small dealers and the days were increasingly out of control. Judging in chapter 14 (1), every violator of the law, whether a minor violation or a serious violation, is obliged to undergo legal proceedings at first. In this case, the Philippines must also provide clear boundaries regarding small-scale drug dealers and drug dealers on a large scale, so that there is a clear and fair law to try the case.
  • Chapter 22: “No ex post facto law or bill of attainder shall be enacted” (The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, 1987, p. 6). Ex post facto law is a law that is implemented after being given a sentence as a result of subsequent actions. Then the bill of attainder is an act that states someone is guilty and sentenced without trial at first. In chapter 22 states that ex post facto law or bill of attainder is not invited, which means that no sentence is given without a court. Reviewing President Duterte’s policies, the policy violates chapter 22 of the Philippine constitution. The killings committed did not take the court first, but immediately killed once the target was weak.

At its conclusion, President Duterte’s policy injured the Philippine constitution itself. Four Chapters of Article 03 have been violated. That was the reason for the Philippine Supreme Court to warner President Duterte to dismiss his policies (Al Jazeera, 2017). However, Duterte insisted on continuing this policy based on the emergency threat (Al Jazeera English, 2016).

 

Introduction to the International Criminal Court (ICC)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an international regime that focuses on handling crimes against humanity. The ICC was established on July 1, 2002, through the Rome Statute agreement, which gave legitimacy to the ICC to try perpetrators of crimes against humanity. Based on the elements of crime contained in the Rome Statute, four major crimes must be dealt with by the ICC, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression (International Criminal Court, 2011). These issues have similarities with the issue of crime handled by the UN Security Council. For this reason, the two institutions coordinate with each other in dealing with these issues.

The ICC will prosecute genocide perpetrators, crimes against humanity, or war crimes on and after July 1, 2002 – so that any crimes that occur before that time cannot be tried through the ICC. These three crimes can be tried by the ICC if carried out by nationals of ICC member countries, in the territories of ICC member countries, or in countries that accept ICC jurisdiction. Besides, as explained above regarding the coordination of the ICC and UNSC, the UNSC can refer criminal cases to the ICC Prosecutor to be tried under the resolution adopted under Chapter VII of the UN charter.

Meanwhile, for the case of a new crime of aggression, it will be regulated on July 17, 2018, on the recommendation of the UNSC. In this case, the ICC can try parties’ guilty outside of the ICC membership. If the UNSC does not propose an investigation of cases of aggression, then the ICC can conduct investigations independently or based on proposals from member countries. However, before conducting an investigation the ICC needs to check the status of the case at the Security Council, whether the case has been handled or not (International Criminal Court, n.d.).

In conducting the legal process, the ICC has several stages, namely as follows:

  1. Preliminary examinations
  2. Investigations
  3. Pre-Trial stage
  4. Trial stage
  5. Appeals stage
  6. Enforcement of sentence

Because the ICC upholds human rights values, the penalties applied are only imprisonment and fines, as stated in the Rome Statute Chapter 7, Article 77 (International Criminal Court, 2011). The ICC does not implement the death penalty.

 

ICC Action Plan on the Philippines’ War on Drugs

On February 8, 2018, the ICC announced the opening of preliminary examinations on the war on drugs case launched by the Government of the Philippines since July 1, 2016. The examination focuses on thousands of drug users who have been killed and extrajudicial killings in the context of anti-drug police operations (Gallaghera, Raffleb, & Maulanab, 2019). It should be emphasized that ICC conducted preliminary examinations, not yet at the investigation stage. Preliminary examinations are needed to observe the urgency of the case, jurisdictional power, and justice. If all components have been fulfilled and with careful consideration, this case can be raised towards the investigation phase (International Criminal Court, 2018).

The Philippines responds to the ICC’s actions by writing an official written statement stating that it left the Rome Statute on March 17, 2018. However, legal proceedings against the Philippines are still ongoing. The waiting period from exit statement to the official exit is one year. During this period, the ICC will continue to conduct examinations on the Philippine government for its war on drugs policy that killed many people.

 

References

The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines.

Al Jazeera. (2017, January 15). Duterte: No One Can Stop Me From Declaring Martial Law. Dipetik April 29, 2019, from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2017/01/duterte-stop-declaring-martial-law-170115034431700.html

Al Jazeera English. (2016, Oktober 15). Rodrigo Duterte on Drugs, Death, and Diplomacy | Talk to Al Jazeera. Dipetik April 25, 2019, from Al Jazeera English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2KtLTXXej8

Armandhanu, D. (2016, Mei 16). Rodrigo Duterte Akan Terapkan Lagi Hukuman Mati di Filipina. Dipetik April 24, 2019, from CNN Indonesia: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/internasional/20160516140021-106-131030/rodrigo-duterte-akan-terapkan-lagi-hukuman-mati-di-filipina

BBC News. (2016, Agustus 26). Philippines Drugs War: The Woman Who Kills Dealers for A Living. Dipetik April 29, 2019, from BBC News: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37172002

Fehl, C. (2004). Explaining the International Criminal Court: A ‘Practice Test’ for Rationalist and Constructivist Approaches. European Consortium for Political Research, Vol. 10(3), 357-394.

Gallaghera, A., Raffleb, E., & Maulanab, Z. (2019). Failing to Fulfil the Responsibility to Protect: the War on Drugs As Crimes Against Humanity in the Philippines. The Pacific Review, 1-31.

Gavilan, J. (2016, September 19). DDB: the Philippines Has 1.8 Million Current Drug Users. Dipetik April 23, 2019, from Rappler: https://www.rappler.com/nation/146654-drug-use-survey-results-dangerous-drugs-board-philippines-2015

Human Rights Watch. (2018). Philippines: Events of 2018. Dipetik April 25, 2019, from Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/philippines#1ff4dc

International Criminal Court. (2011). Elements of Crimes. The Hague: International Criminal Court.

International Criminal Court. (2011). Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Hague: International Criminal Court.

International Criminal Court. (2018, Maret 20). ICC Statement on The Philippines’ Notice of Withdrawal: State Participation in Rome Statute System Essential to International Rule of Law. Dipetik April 28, 2019, from International Criminal Court: https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=pr1371

International Criminal Court. (t.thn.). How the Court works. Dipetik April 28, 2019, from International Criminal Court: https://www.icc-cpi.int/about/how-the-court-works/Pages/default.aspx#legalProcess

International Criminal Court. (t.thn.). The Philippines. Dipetik April 28, 2019, from International Criminal Court: https://www.icc-cpi.int/philippines

Regencia, T. (2016, Agustus 10). Duterte Threatens Martial Law If ‘Drug War’ Is Blocked. Dipetik April 29, 2019, from Al Jazeera: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/08/duterte-threatens-martial-law-drug-war-blocked-160805170518830.html

Russia Today. (2017, Mei 22). ‘They want me to fight China. It’s gonna be a massacre!’ – Duterte to RT (FULL INTERVIEW). Dipetik April 25, 2019, from RT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHjlCmdyesY

 

 

This article was written by Laras Ningrum Fatma Siwi, an undergraduate student of International Relations Studies at the Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Photo by Aditya Joshi on Unsplash

Tourism is Singapore

Tourism has become one of the most important global industries today. To maintain global power, Singapore has to get involve and give value to tourism in the country. Singapore can be considered a small country if you determine it from the amount of land the country has, but if you measure from its economy, it is one of the most growing counties in the world. This statement is pointed out by Hooi Hooi Leana, Sio Hing Chongb and Chee-Wooi Hooyc (2014) who say that ;

“ Tourism is a fast-growing industry in Singapore. Despite the small contribution to the country’s overall GDP, hovering around 8 percent, Singapore’s tourism industry lingers as a noteworthy showcase not only for trade and economic powerhouse but also as a hub for entertainment, media, and culture in Southeast Asia. In 2005, the Singapore Tourism Board heralded its target to ensure tourism played the role as a key economic pillar by tripling tourism receipts to S$30 billion and doubling visitor arrivals to 17 million in 2015. Besides, the “Uniquely Singapore” campaign that launched in March 2004, aimed to show the world the blend of the best of Singapore as the modern world of warm, enriching and unforgettable tourist destination had won a gold award conferred by the Pacific Asia Travel Association. In 2009, the contribution of the tourism industry on economic growth has recorded 7.3 percent and created 5.8 percent out of total employment opportunities. An increasing trend showing 4.1 percent of the total economy from the tourism industry in 2004 has escalated to 7.3 percent in 2009.”

From this fact, we can understand how tourism has had an impact on Singapore. But to understand the current impacts of tourism in Singapore, we must acknowledge what types of tourist attractions Singapore has to offer and the effects that tourism has on Singapore’s structure.

 

The types of tourist attractions in Singapore

Singapore can be considered one of the most outstanding counties in southeast Asia, this fact is a benefit for Singapore when it comes to tourism because Singapore’s name in more likely to pop up if you are planning a trip to this region. By recognizing this advantage, Singapore has created many noticeable tourist attractions throughout the years. Since there are so many tourist attractions in Singapore, the writer is going to narrow them down into two main categories which are nature-based tourist attractions and human-made tourist attractions. The writer plans on giving at least three destinations as examples.

Nature-based tourist attractions are tourist destinations which are more interested in the nature side of the attraction. Nature-based tourist attractions are usually combined by three elements, namely education, recreation and adventure (UK essays, 2017). Since these type of tourist attractions have little to no interventions from humans, it is the perfect type of destination for people who enjoy the natural side of life. Even though Singapore has become a very developed country, but there are still many nature-based tourist attractions around, for example, Gardens by the Bay, Botanic gardens and Sentosa island.

The first natural tourist attraction which the writer is going to mention is Gardens by the bay, a national garden and premier attraction for local and international visitors. The garden is an advanced facility which uniquely displays the plant kingdom by entertaining and educating the visitors at the same time. The garden also maintains various types of plants from all over the world. The garden can also be considered an independent organization responsible for developing and managing one of Asia’s foremost garden destinations (Gardens by the bay, n.d.). Coming to Gardens by the Bay is like being at almost every garden is the world because of the variety of plants the garden has to offer.

Another memorable nature-based tourist attraction is Botanic gardens, a collection of different types of gardens, like the Ethnobotany garden, the National orchid garden, and the Ginger garden. The gardens have played an important role in fostering agricultural development in Singapore and the region through collecting, growing, experimenting and distributing potentially useful plants. The gardens also played a key role in Singapore’s Garden City program through the continual introduction of plants of horticultural and botanical interest(Singapore botanic gardens, n.d.). Seeing all of these wonderful gardens in person can be a very relaxing experience for many people and that might be why the gardens are still famous today.

Moving on is Sentosa Island, an offshore island of Singapore accessible by a road link, cable car, and a light railway line. The island is not far from the city center (about a ten-minute drive). There have been many improvements to the island thru out the years to make sure that the island becomes a world-class tourist destination, which creates opportunities for tourists and locals. The increasing of transportation options and attractions such as a Marine Life Park and the Universal Studios Singapore amusement park have helped Sentosa island become a very popular tourist destination at an international level. But despite all of the famous human-made tourist destinations, Sentosa island has a lot of natural activities which makes the visitor want to come back for more, like Siloso beach which is perfect for a nice day on the beach. (Centre for liveable cities Singapore, 2015)

The next type of tourist attractions is human-made tourist attractions, which is any object or place that a person might travel to see which exists mainly because a human created it (BBC, n.d.), for example, Orchard Road, Singapore Flyer, Universal Studios Singapore and Chinatown.

Starting with Orchard road, one of the largest shopping, dining, and entertainment hubs in the country. Orchard Road is a 2.2 km. shopping belt between Tanglin road and Selegie road. Tourist considers Orchard road as a shopping district and prefers it to regional malls even if it may not be as close to their lodgings (Yap Yong Hwang, 2014). From becoming a popular icon for shopping in Singapore, Orchard Road has become a must-go destination for tourist in Singapore. The popularity has also helped Singapore’s economic growth.

Following up is the Singapore Flyer, which is the largest Ferris wheel in Asia. Singapore flyer can take you up to about 165 meters from ground level, which is about the hight of the 42nd floor of a skyscraper. But it is not just the hight that attracts tourist, the greatest part of Singapore flyer is the amazing view that allows you to see most of Singapore in a way you have never experienced before (Singapore tourism board, n.d.).

When mentioning about Singapore, a popular tourist attraction that comes up to mind is Universal Studios Singapore, a well-known amusement park. The park is located on Sentosa island, which is not far from the city center. This is the only Universal Studios in Southeast Asia where 28 thrilling rides and seven themed zones await (Sentosa, n.d.). The size of the park and amount of character that Universal Studios Singapore possesses easily makes it a tourist attraction that most people would want to come to at any age or gender.

The next well-known human-made tourist attraction in Chinatown, which is a must-go destination for people who visit Singapore because of its long old history and the impacts it has had on Singapore’s culture. This statement can be supported by Planning for Tourism: Creating a Vibrant Singapore (2015) which claims that ;

“In the early 1980s, Chinatown was Singapore’s top tourist attraction. An important heritage area, it was classified as a “Historic District” in the 1986 Urban Conservation Master Plan, and an “Ethnic Quarter” in the “Ethnic Singapore” thematic zone within the Tourism 21 Master Plan. It was hence a natural candidate for the pilot project on thematic development.”

 

The effects of tourism on Singapore’s structure

By getting an idea about what kind of tourist attractions Singapore has to offer from the previous section, the question remains that how do these tourist attractions affect Singapore’s structure? Many might argue that tourism is only a temporary income that is unpredictable, but tourism is not only about the money, it also has many aspects to offer besides money which we are going to explore in this section.

Since Singapore is a country that strongly depends on its economic structure, Singapore has made sure that they can make the best out of what they have. Many might argue that tourism has only a small part on Singapore’s economy and Singapore can easily depend on making money from music, films, concerts, fashion, computer games, architectural services, and other creative products. But the truth remains that Singapore has to strongly depend more on labor, services, and brainpower because of its lack of natural resources. So tourism is a great way to boost the economies growth because it can attribute to the provision of hard currency, creates employment opportunities and accumulates physical capital (Chew Ging Lee, 2008). The potential benefits that tourism has to offer for Singapore’s economic structure have made the government realize how important it is and got the government move involved with tourism many years ago, as reported in Tourism and economic growth: The case of Singapore (2008) that ;

“In Singapore, tourism industry receives heavy supports from its government. The Singaporean government has launched the “Uniquely Singapore” marketing campaign through Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in March 2004 in Singapore. Subsequently, this campaign was launched in the various key markets, such as in Germany in the ITB trade show on 12 March 2004. Recognizing the importance of tourism to economic activities, on 11 January 2005, Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore unveiled the STB’s bold targets of tripling tourism receipts to S$30 billion and doubling visitor arrivals to 17 million in the year 2015. This initiative will be supported by an S$2 billion Tourism Development Fund.”

On the other hand, an uncontrolled growing economy can backfire if not handled properly. There are many possible outcomes from a growing economy that gets out of hand, such as, the increasing price of food, land, and houses which would make it very difficult for the locals to remain living where they grew up. And also depending too much on tourism as a main income might shake the economic structure when tourism is not a reliable source (UK essays, 2018).

Moving on is socio-cultural impacts that tourism has on Singapore. From the amount of tourist who comes to Singapore each year, the impacts that they have on Singapore’s society and culture are increasing by the years. By these increasements, there have been positive and negative impacts on Singapore’s socio-cultural structure due to tourism in the country.

On the positive side of socio-cultural impacts, tourism has allowed the citizens of Singapore to interact with people from all over the world. These opportunities are the gateway for exchanging ideas, knowledge, and experiences. As a result, many elements from foreign countries have combined into Singapore’s society and enhances the skills of the residents to communicate to different types of tourist and how to handle situations relating to self-expression (UK essays, 2018). Besides, tourism has encouraged Singaporeans to travel at cultural destinations in their country, for example, Chinatown. This encouragement helps Singaporeans value and understand more about their cultural history.

With the positives of the socio-cultural impacts being so significant, the downsides to Singapore’s socio-cultural is also crucial. Since there are so many tourists coming into the country each year, it becomes hard to keep in check with what everybody is doing, which can easily lead to many problems in the society like drugs and illegal activities. Another downside which comes from tourism is the fact that locals start to adapt foreign influences and westernization, which slowly changes the locals from their traditional ways and replace it with a more foreign way of life (UK essays, 2018).

Many studies have shown that tourism has increased socio-economic growth. However, tourism steered economic growth and development is achieved at the cost of environmental pollution and degradation (Muhammad Azam, Md Mahmudul Alam & Muhammad Haroon Hafeez, 2018). It can be argued that Singapore has created a few tourist attractions dedicated to improving the environment, for example, Gardens by the bay which provides a ton polluted environmental atmosphere and the NEWater plant which is one of the world’s largest water recycling facilities. These type of tourist attractions have helped promote environmental awareness, but the downsides that tourism has brought to Singapore’s environment is too critical. The limited amount of space and resources in Singapore can not handle the incoming of tourist that are coming into the country. As a result, Singapore’s environment is getting affected in many negative ways because of the limited resources to deal with environmental problems. The most noticeable negative effects on the environment are pollution from more vehicle demands, litters dropped by visitors, disturbance of natural habitats and cause damages to the landscapes, land cleared for more attractions and heavy usage of resources (UK essays, 2018).

 

Conclusion

Tourism has had a major impact on Singapore. Since tourism is now one of the most important global industries today, Singapore has also got on board with what tourism has to offer. Although Singapore might be a small-sized country, in terms of development Singapore is one of the highest growing counties in the world and tourism has played a key part in this success. By recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of the country, Singapore has been able to create many well-known nature-based and human-made tourist attractions, like Gardens by the Bay, Botanic gardens, Orchard Road and Singapore flyer. These extraordinary tourist attractions are the staples of Singapore’s entire tourism industry. By heavily depending on tourism as the main income, there have been many effects on Singapore’s structure. Government support has helped make a positive outcome on Singapore’s economic system and has lead to the provision of hard currency, creates employment opportunities and accumulates physical capital, but tourism might shake the economic structure when it is not a reliable source. On the socio-cultural approach, the benefits are that tourism is a gateway for exchanging ideas, knowledge, experiences and an opportunity to see value in Singapore’s culture, but the downsides are that tourism can easily lead to many problems in the society like illegal activities. Last but not least, Singapore’s environment is becoming more polluted due to the number of resources that need to be used in tourism, even though Singapore is trying as best as it can to improve and promote environmental awareness.

 

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This article was written by Dallas Kennamer, an undergraduate student of Psychology Department at the Thammasat University, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Photo by Nemanja .O. on Unsplash