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

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

Anna Athanasopoulou. (2013, December). Tourism as a driver of economic growth and development in the EU-27 and ASEAN regions. Retrieved July 7, 2019, from http://www.eucentre.sg/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/EUCResearchBrief_TourismEU27ASEAN.pdf

BBC. (n.d.). Types of tourist attractions. Retrieved July 11, 2019, from https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/guides/zxq79qt/revision/1

CAN-SENG OOI. (2006). Tourism and the creative economy in Singapore. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from https://openarchive.cbs.dk/bitstream/handle/10398/6605/working%20paper%20int_can-seng%20ooi.pdf?sequence=1

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

Chew Ging Lee. (2008). Tourism and economic growth: The case of Singapore. Retrieved July 8, 2019, from https://www.academia.edu/8277031/TOURISM_AND_ECONOMIC_GROWTH_THE_CASE_OF_SINGAPORE

Gardens by the bay. (n.d.). Our story. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from https://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/the-gardens/our-story/introduction.html?fbclid=IwAR3KoBqclubQ4Fx9FT-df5YZQQjIItnZeGgs0sv-ypV0yYpb3aurRyZsCaI

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

Sentosa. (n.d.). Universal Studios Singapore. Retrieved July 11, 2019, from https://www.sentosa.com.sg/en/things-to-do/attractions/universal-studios-singapore?fbclid=IwAR0-BaBMxn1bSC-tlpeOQA9dggCFKHUERhO6PybPQykifNlk2LOG5jpda8k

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

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.

 

References

Anna Athanasopoulou. (2013, December). Tourism as a driver of economic growth and development in the EU-27 and ASEAN regions. Retrieved July 7, 2019, from http://www.eucentre.sg/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/EUCResearchBrief_TourismEU27ASEAN.pdf

BBC. (n.d.). Types of tourist attractions. Retrieved July 11, 2019, from https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/guides/zxq79qt/revision/1

CAN-SENG OOI. (2006). Tourism and the creative economy in Singapore. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from https://openarchive.cbs.dk/bitstream/handle/10398/6605/working%20paper%20int_can-seng%20ooi.pdf?sequence=1

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

Chew Ging Lee. (2008). Tourism and economic growth: The case of Singapore. Retrieved July 8, 2019, from https://www.academia.edu/8277031/TOURISM_AND_ECONOMIC_GROWTH_THE_CASE_OF_SINGAPORE

Gardens by the bay. (n.d.). Our story. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from https://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/the-gardens/our-story/introduction.html?fbclid=IwAR3KoBqclubQ4Fx9FT-df5YZQQjIItnZeGgs0sv-ypV0yYpb3aurRyZsCaI

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

Sentosa. (n.d.). Universal Studios Singapore. Retrieved July 11, 2019, from https://www.sentosa.com.sg/en/things-to-do/attractions/universal-studios-singapore?fbclid=IwAR0-BaBMxn1bSC-tlpeOQA9dggCFKHUERhO6PybPQykifNlk2LOG5jpda8k

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 at the Thammasat University, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Photo by Nemanja .O. on Unsplash

Football, Collective Memory, and Nationalism in Southeast Asia

Nationalism is an endless thing. It must be inherited continuously through education, slogans, and of course the existence of ‘others’. In the context of inter-state relations the existence of ‘others’ will become more complicated if the national identity of other nations has come into contact in open conflict. In other words, ‘others’ would be considered an antagonist if history presents a collective memory of inter-state conflicts.

In Southeast Asia, conflicts between nations are not new. The confrontation between Malaysia and Indonesia at the end of the Old Order is one example. However, since the establishment of ASEAN 50 years ago, open conflicts between Southeast Asian nations incorporated in ASEAN have almost never been heard. This is because the countries incorporated in ASEAN agree not to interfere with the sovereignty of other countries in politics or ideology. With the agreement they hope to create peace in the region of Southeast Asia.

Memory is still a memory. The collectively recorded history of conflict can make latent embedded sentiments possible to stick back. In Plato’s view quoted by Anne Whitehead (2009), past memories of the past can reappear if there is an inducement from the creation of critical relationships in the present. Practically, these conditions can be found in Indonesia’s rage of support for Malaysia in the SEA Games 2017 event which makes Indonesian netizen remember the history of Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation in 1964. Started from the case of a reversed flag to the Indonesian team meeting with Malaysia in the semifinals of the male football team; Our collective memory of the political confrontation launched by Bung Karno returned to life and was manifested in ‘nationalistic’ slogans such as “Ganyang Malaysia”, or more contemporary styling like #shameonyoumalaysia. The slogan is revived as if it is not a matter of the fact that there are many Indonesian Workers (TKI) in Malaysia.

A glimpse of these slogans are the examples of the strengthening of nationalism in the digital era. It is not uncommon for these discourses to be on social networks accompanied by messages about the importance of maintaining unity in the midst of our increasingly fragile nationality post-elections in Jakarta. It is interesting to look back at how a nation in the midst of political conflicts between groups like Indonesia can regain the spirit of nationalism in sports. But as an ideology, nationalism will indeed revive life if called. In this case the call is made with a medium that broadcasts and promotes the spirit of nationalism through framings with patriotic nuances. The condition is further supported by the disappointment of Sports Minister Imran Nahwari’s statement on the preparation of Malaysia as the host of the Sea Games and cynical opinion from Indonesian netizen on the referee’s leadership of Malaysia in Indonesia’s men’s football match against Timor Leste. Accumulation of negative perceptions of Indonesian people of Malaysia’s competitiveness as host of Sea Games 2017 is getting worse with the history of Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation that erupted in Dwi Komando Rakyat (Dwikora). It is therefore not surprising that the protests by Indonesian netizens against Malaysia are no longer a rational but emotional protest.

The issue of conflict in the sports world that includes political sentiment is not a mere Indonesian and Malaysian monopoly. In the ASEAN region similar sentiments occurred in a match between Thailand against Vietnam in the ASEAN Football Federation U-19 (AFF U-19) tournament in Vientiane, Laos. At that time Thailand was in the process of blowing Vietnam, with the final result 6-0. In the celebration, Thai supporters began to light up and waved. A Laotian police team goes to the stands, perhaps to make sure no one gets hurt, but they got a strong reaction from Thai supporters. Chaos erupted, and gunfire was widely circulated. When Laotian police tried to enter the crowd, Thai fans created a kind of “human wall” to prevent authorities from accessing their stands. Interestingly, Vietnamese supporters also helped the Laotian police by throwing bottles at Thai supporters [1].

The complicated dispute between supporters of Laos, Vietnam and Thailand on the green field can be traced through a book entitled Creating Laos: The Making of a Lao Space between Siam and Indochina, 1860-1945 by Søren Ivarsson. In the book, it is explained that the cultural identity of Laos is created from the struggle between Thai expansionists and the French Colonial Government in Indochina. Thus the identity of the Laotian community was formed along with the presence of bad memories of Thailand. On the other hand, the communist ideology that became the cornerstone of the nationalism of Laos and Vietnam today, has made the sense of brotherhood between the Laotian and Vietnamese peoples stronger, let alone Thailand as their opponent in the tournament, its nationalism relying on imperial feudalism contrary to the basic principle of communism [2]. Therefore, it is not surprising that Vietnamese supporters are seen actively “helping” the Laotian police by throwing bottles at Thai supporters.

The rise of open conflict by sports supporters – especially football – in inter-state matches is not surprising. The presence of supporters to the stadium for an immediate and open expression of nationalism will usually be rewarded with similar actions from opposing supporters. With a lot of mass it is certainly very difficult to ensure their expression is still in a “safe” corridor. Not to mention if the media, public figures, or dark history in the past were involved in creating a negative perception of the opposing team. If such a thing happens, then it is certain that the nationalism sentiment of binary opposition will heat the game. Thus football is no longer a matter between players, referees, or FIFA; because as Zen RS columnist said in his speech on the book Sepakbola Seribu Tafsir, “football is not a matter of grabbing the ball alone, because throughout the 90 minutes of football matches there are so many allegories of life.” If I may add, then I believe that like life, the game will be more complicated if we have enemies. Therefore, it is not surprising that Jean-Paul Sartre said, “in football everything becomes more complicated due to the presence of opposing teams”

 

References:

Ivarrson, Søren. 2008. Creating Laos: The Making of a Lao Space between Indochina and Siam 1860-1945. Copenhagen: NIAS Press

Kennedy, Edward. 2014. Sepak Bola Seribu Tafsir. Yogyakarta: Indie Book Corner

Sartre, Jean-Paul. 2004. Critique of Dialectical Reason (translated by Alan Sheridan-Smith). London: Verso.

Whitehead, Anne. 2009. Memory. New York: Routledge

YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXPlleyUGLI (accessed on 15 September 2017).

YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXPlleyUGLI (accessed on 15 September 2017).

 

 

This article was written by Venda Pratama (in Indonesian), an Anthropology student, Faculty of Cultural Sciences, UGM, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Tracing Prostitution Tour in Thailand from Time to Time

The problem of prostitution is endless. In addition to the many opposing parties, there are still a handful of supporters. Although considered immoral by most people, but the sex industry is still surviving until now around the world. No matter how intense the government declares illegal, it is not easy to make prostitution vanish from a country because there is always a need. In Southeast Asia, Thailand is famous for its sex tourism. Boonchutima (2009) stated that the government of the White Elephant has been trying to change the image by promoting other tourisms such as cultural tourism. But unfortunately, a thick Thai image of sex tourism has not changed.

Podhista (1994) stated that prostitution in Thailand does have a long history. The practice has been around since the days of Ayuthya (1350-1776). The Europeans who came to Siam in the seventeenth century had witnessed the practice of prostitution in Thailand (Poumisak, 1975, Hantrakul, 1983, Skrobanek, 1983, and Thanh-Dam, 1990 in Podhista, 1994). One of those Europeans is an envoy from France, La Loubère. In his note, La Loubère mentions an official who is referred to as ‘the man who buys women and servants to prostitute them’ (Thanh-Dam (1990:148) in Podhista (1994).

In addition, in Ayuthya period, there is a corvée system [3] in which all men must indeed leave the family and serve the feudal lords for six months (Podhista, 1994). It was at that time that the girls were believed to be the servants of the corvée when they were far from their wives. In the end, in 1960, commercial sex in Thailand became a sizable industry during the Vietnam War or the Second Indochina War (1957-1975). During that time US troops sometimes came to Thailand to rest and that’s when the Thai women used the opportunity to meet the needs of life by serving the soldiers of the United States.

Since then prostitution rampant in Thailand even survive until now. Although the government is reportedly being intensively launched tourism without sex and banned brothels to operate in Thailand, the fact is prostitution in Thailand is still active. In fact, Gugić (2014) says that prostitution in Thailand plays a role in the country’s economy. About 60% of Thailand’s national income comes from the tourism and sex tourism sector playing a major role in Thailand’s tourism sector. Every year, Gugić (2014) says about 10 million tourists come to Thailand and about 60% of tourists are male while 70% of the male tourists come for sex tourism. Therefore, every year there are more than 4 million men come to Thailand for sex tourism.

Ironically, when sex tourism in Thailand contributes a lot to the national income of the country, Boonchalaksi and Guest (1994) in one of his studies suggested that Thai prostitute enter into the world of prostitution precisely because of economic problems. Indeed, universally the economic problem is indeed a problem of all countries, especially in the region of third world countries. However, according to Podhista (1994), specifically poverty in Thailand occurs because of the government which puts forward the industrial and services sectors, but ignores the agricultural sector. Though Thailand is an agricultural country and most of its inhabitants work as farmers.

Poverty that occurs to farmers in the villages result the difference of economic conditions in the village and in the city becomes very lame. Not to mention based on Podhista (1994), in the era of globalization as it is today, consumerism and a high lifestyle has plagued the village. Thus, to meet the basic needs coupled with lifestyle demands, any job that generates a lot of money in a short time is well received by the public, including prostitution.

Not only farmers who faces poverty, DaGrossa (1989) revealed that in Thailand there is not enough job opportunities for young women from villages who less educated and inexperienced. In fact, in Thailand girls have greater responsibility than boys when it comes to the household economy. Therefore, farmers who face poverty will eventually be forced to involve their daughters into prostitution. Thus, a daughter from an inadequate family who wandered out of town to become a prostitute for the sake of supporting her family has been understood and considered reasonable by the surrounding community.

The traditional discourse in which girls in Thailand are responsible for living their families is still implemented today. In Phongpaichit research (1980) in Podhista (1994), the prostitute in the research sources admitted that they were indeed the backbone of the family. In fact, the fact those women who are unable to support their families are considered fail, not only by the family but also by the surrounding community. Therefore, unsurprisingly Thai women are ultimately forced to justify any means to meet these demands, even if it means they must involve themselves into the world of prostitution.

Thus, unsurprisingly that until now the practice of prostitution still exists in Thailand. Indeed the government has repeatedly tried to remove the sex industry in Thailand. However, it cannot be denied that the surrounding community has no objection to the existence of these practices in their environment because yet it is much in need, both from the side of women who need money to meet basic needs, as well as from the men to meet biological needs.

Proof of acceptance of prostitution in Thailand is evidenced by non-exiled brothels. The brothels are located among the residents. According Boonchalaksi and Guest (1994) brothels in Thailand even located close to places of worship and trade center. The existence of brothel in Thailand is considered normal, like normal offices.

Moreover, in one of documenter films about prostitution in Thailand by Austria’s director Michael Glawogger, Whore’s Glory (2011) showed how the practice of prostitution in exclusive brothel covered as a massage parlor in Bangkok named Fish Tank. The building of Fish Tank located and operated in the center of city crowd like an office building. The prostitutes of Fish Tank stand in the upper floor of the building which made from glasses and pointed laser to the men who pass them to invite customer. Not only the extravagant building, Fish Tank also has other employees like any other offices, such as customer service, waitress, parking attendant, and security officer.

Fish Tank is not the only brothel which covers its business as massage parlor in Bangkok.  Furthermore, this kind of things is not only happened in Bangkok, the camouflage of brothel is spread across Thailand. It shows that prostitution has become an aspect of life in Thailand’s society and has been rooted. In fact, its existence is not harming or disturbing the surrounding community. The root that has been planted for the past decades and supported by the never-ending poverty, makes prostitution is hard to be vanished in Thailand.

 

References:

Boonchalaksi, Wathinee dan Philip Guest. 1955. Prostitution in Thailand. Salaya: Mahidol University.

Boonchutima, Smith. 2009. Resistance to Change: Thailand’s Image as a Sex Tourist Destination. Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University.

DaGrossa, Pamela S.. 1989. “Kamphæng Din: A Study of Prostitution in the All-Thai Brothels of Chiang Mai City”. Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 1-7.

Gugić, Zrinka. 2014. Human Trafficking Under the Veil of Sex Tourism In Thailand: Reactions of the EU. Osijek:University of Osijek.

Podhisita, Chai, et. al.. 1994. “Socio-Cultural Context of Commercial Sex Workers in Thailand: An Analysis of Their Family, Employer, and Client Relations”. Health Transition Review, Vol. 4, pp. 297-320.

Glawogger, Michael. 2011. Whores’ Glory. Lotus Film. Austria, 110 min.

[1] Thailand dulu dikenal sebagai Siam.

[2] Seorang utusan atau perwakilan, terutama dalam misi diplomatik.

[3] Tenaga kerja yang tidak dibayar oleh seorang bawahan kepada bangsawan feodal.

 

 

This article was written by Nitya Swastika (in Indonesian), an Anthropology student, Faculty of Cultural Sciences, UGM, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Constructing Southeast Asian Multicultural Identity: Bridging the Diversity across Nations

Southeast Asia is a very diverse and multi-layered sub-region in Asia which consists of different nations with different ethnicities, languages, cultures, and societies. Besides, Southeast Asian nations considerably share distinctive socio-cultural features, in terms of language spoken, ethnicities, religion, culture, and society which differed from one to another. Specifically, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore are highly considered as Southeast Asian diverse nations, ethnically, linguistically, religiously, culturally, socially, and politically. But they are diverse in different ways and cope with diversity in different ways (Ali, 2011).

In responding to such diversity, Southeast Asian nations are often encouraged to establish one common regional identity enabling them to integrate as one unity of Southeast Asian nations. Further, the notion of building such integrated identity is supported by Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as one of the most influential organisation in Southeast Asia. In addition, it is concretely represented in the concept of ASEAN’s long-term plan stating that ASEAN has formulated a planned integration among its ten member nations and has challenged its citizens to embrace regional identity (Jones, 2004). Moreover, such plan is also well-affirmed in ASEAN Vision 2020 proclaiming “we envision the entire Southeast Asia to be, by 2020, an ASEAN Community conscious of its ties of history, aware of its cultural heritage and bound by a common regional identity.”

The ideas to encourage the integration of one identity is also supported by the notion proposed in ASEAN Blueprint on Socio-cultural Community (ASCC) as it envisages several notable and worth-pursuing characteristics, one of which is building the ASEAN identity. The Blueprint pronounces that the ASEAN identity is the basis of Southeast Asia’s regional interests. It is the collective personality, norms, values and beliefs as well as aspirations as one ASEAN community. ASEAN will mainstream and promote greater awareness and common values in the spirit of unity in diversity at all levels of society.

However, it is important to highlight the problem currently occurred as the modernity in this late era has made the issue of identity become more complex and complicated. This phenomenon happens as the complexity and instability of identity are believed widely pervaded by the vast changing of social condition in human life. As a result, the rapid flux of identity can somehow be considered threatening the stability of identity itself, particularly in the era of modern technology, migration, urbanisation and globalisation on which people live nowadays (Rutherford in Howarth, 2002).

Thus, identity is believed as a socially constructed identification rather than just a simple idea considering identity as the belonging of individuals to geographical places where they live, as people now are able to adjust and adapt from one space into another. Under that circumstance, identity is no longer believed as something fixed as it dynamically changes and is always constructed and reconstructed. Hence, it can be seen from the sociological perspective, all identities are indeed a socially constructed identification which might use building materials from geography, common socio-cultural attributes, political control, history, biology, collective memory, or even religious institutions (Castells, 2010).

Further, Castells (2010) believes that social construction of identity always takes place in context of power relations. This functions as a basis of his proposal on the three forms of identity building covering legitimising, resistance and project identity. Legitimising identity deals with the origin of identity introduced by dominant institution to extend and rationalise their domination. When it is generated by actors who are in more devalued or stigmatised position in terms of its domination, it refers to resistance identity which aims to resist and survive from the influence of the dominating ones. Whereas project identity occurs when social actors are available to any cultural materials in order to build a new identity or redefine who they are (Castells, 2010). Hence, it is momentous to emphasise the role of powerful social institutions in Southeast Asia, either it is ASEAN, NGOs, religions, cultures or societies in building together once common identity of Southeast Asia.

By considering such complexities of identity, and the feature of Southeast Asian diversity which is greatly distinguished from one to another, therefore, it is necessary to propose the ideas that can let the identity possibly built without pushing or forcing, even to eliminate particular features of the existing diverse national identities. Thus, this paper aims to discuss the concept of multiculturalism in constructing the identity of Southeast Asia functioning as a bridge among its diverse nations.

In discussing about multiculturalism, it is indisputable that there is an increased awareness among scholars, activists, and policymakers of the importance of multiculturalism as a concept, as an approach, as an ideology to struggle for, a fighting creed, and as an object of research and study. But it is also a way of understanding of culture (Ali, 2011). Moreover, multiculturalism concept is well-applied in several prosperous countries such as the United States of America, Canada, Australia even some Southeast Asian countries, i.e. Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is often illustrated via analogy of melting pot, salad bowl or mosaic.

Melting pot refers to the process of assimilating different identities, races, ethnicities, cultures, etc. into one common pot provided. It is important to underline the involvement of assimilation or the process of melting a way to form and create one new identity or society. In other words, it is possibly made up from existed various racial and ethnic groups which have been combined into one culture creating a richly diverse country like the United States of America. While salad bowl and mosaic which are considerably similar and more applicable in this case refer to the process of combining and uniting the diversity into one common space or place allowing it to display its own beauty and aesthetic value. The key point of these concepts are the existence of the space (i.e. bowl and frame) which enables the materials to show how beautiful they are when they were combined and placed in the same space without any assimilation or the process of melting away (Datesman et al., 2005).

All in all, the problem is actually not how to accommodate relatively fixed plural identities, but rather how to provide for multiple possibilities of identity and culture. Moreover it is supported by the notion believing multiculturalism as an effective approach to addressing questions of ethnic, cultural diversity in contemporary society (Ali, 2011). Thus, it is also to highlight the need and the possibility for Southeast Asia’s powerful social institutions to form and construct one common identity which enable its diverse nations and citizens to be who they are yet positioned under the same underlying big umbrella, Southeast Asian multicultural identity.

 

References:

Acharya, Amitav & Layug, Allan. (2013) Collective Identity Formation in Asian Regionalism: ASEAN Identity and the Construction of the Asia-Pacific Regional Order.

Ali, Muhammad. (2011). Multiculturalism in Southeast Asia. Jakarta: The Wahid Institute.

Castells, Manuel. (2010). The Power of Identity. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Datesman, Crandall and Kearny. (2005). American Ways: An Introduction to American Culture. New York: Pearson.

Howarth, Caroline (2002) Identity in Whose Eyes?: The Role of Representations in Identity Construction. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 32 (2). 145-162 DOI: 10.1111/1468-5914.00181

Jones, Michael. (2004). Forging an ASEAN Identity: The Challenge to Construct a Shared Destiny. Contemporary Southeast Asia, (26), 1, 140-154.

Lian, Kwen Fee. (2016). Multiculturalism, Migration, and the Politics of Identity.  Singapore: Springer.

Murdock, Elke. (2016) Multiculturalism, Identity and Difference. London: McMillan.

Setyaningrum, Arie. (2003). Multikulturalisme sebagai Identitas Kolektif, Kebijakan Politik dan Realitas Sosial. Jurnal Ilmu Sosial dan Ilmu Politik, (7), 2, 243-260.

 

 

This article was written by Moh. Za’imil Alvin, a student of the Faculty of Cultural Sciences, Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN) Maulana Malik Ibrahim Malang, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).