The Half Smart Man

Yogyakarta, October 2013
a half smart man

Finally, today I met one of amazing transport professor from ITB in a some transport seminar. The professor emphasized many amazing issues with his enthusiastic style which remembered me of my undergraduate time. Actually, I felt happy on that time. Being a student and sit in the class always let us freedom fleeing out to say anything what we want to say. I wish I could do that again while I take my master studies later.

I thought that researcher and academia usually left behind the reality. They make some research and invent something new which is unpractical . The common routine of research pattern is decided the topic, find suitable methodology, analyze, and produce conclusion. They can talk anything they want. However, many invention or research that produced, but it is hard to connect the one with another research toward implementation.

However, after working for international development agency I just realized that development professional of government, NGOs, or consultants are gain with the same point with the academia. They are The Half Smart Man too. How smart transport professional they are, or how sharp the analysis results it is, by the end of the story it is depending on political will. Hence, the experts are being limited into small thingy hole. They only could give the best suggestion without any control with the decision that made.

Sometimes I hate politics, while it use for a particular group interest. For an example from the real story, The transport professor has warned the ex-Bandung Mayor that parking on-street in Bandung citywide was harmed citizen with traffic congestion, delay time, air pollution and safety which worth with 180 million US$ cost. Meanwhile Bandung parking annual revenue is only 2 million US$. How awful is not it? However, do you know why the on street parking are presence, even in front of ITB and UNPAD? It is because the most or parking guy and the muscle man contribute to fulfill some party budget indirectly.

I have some colleagues working for government, both in national level and provincial level. Besides they are smart, they also always hold their idealism to work professional and tackle any corruption. However, people like them are very few in the unfavorable condition. Actually, there is an habit during August to December when we will hard to find government officer in their office. Meanwhile they usually do certain projects which tendered to public. In fact the tender process usually manipulated by register many companies for joining the tender while the winner usually had decided before. Inevitably, the underline conspiracy are really presence if the companies pay them to involve the job, they will get the project. Obviously, so that why many development studies about land use plan, CBD redevelopment or even Fly-over feasibility studies which held by local government present unsuitable products.

In fact, even I working on international development agency which did not receive any payment from Indonesia had trapped to be a half smart guy. They were playing around with academic truth which made us follow what they really want to do. It is not analysis produce the conclusion, but they make us prior to produce conclusion then manipulate the analysis. Meanwhile, I realize how they get pressure by certain politician in parliamentary house to avoid particular policy which will intrude on them interest. What a moral hazard I think! Well we refuse to be bent down their power since we are independent. Again we are half smart man now.

Nevertheless, in my opinion a powerful man without expertise knowledge is vulnerable. The powerful man with moral hazard is pathetic. The smart man without power is a half smart. Therefore, for any further change that chase would need more smart men who have patron client with power. Whether we could gather power with another smart man to gain a big change or seek people support. Moving together in the same direction with a certain group who understand ours purposes is inevitably necessary. Hope someday we?ll see this country would have many smart man who move the policy and economy, not only some lucky guy.

Achmad Faris Saffan Sunarya

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