Monday, January 28, 2008
[Wsfasia-facilit] Global day of Action in the Grassroots level in the SW Bangladesh
Dear Friends,

We are very near to the 'Global Week of Mobilization-2008' events which will be held on 29-31 January, 2008 in the WVA, BILIA, BIM, SAYANAT and RABINDRA SAROBAR of Dhaka. More than hundred of local, national and international NGOs, CBOs will collectively organize 28 events. All of the events will be arranged under the Banner of 'Global Economic Justice Forum (GeJF)-2008', which was formed in 2006. The GeJF events are following the WSF norms and process including participants' registration.

Global day of Action in the Grassroots level in the SW Bangladesh (January 26, 2008)
Coastal Development Partnership (CDP) has organized five press conferences in the local level Jessore, Keshabpur of Jessore, Fultala of Khulna, Jhenaidaha and Kushtia for celebrating the "Global Week of Action-2008". Nationally CDP Dhaka team has participated in the HATE EVENTS of "Global Week of Action-2008" with some festoons where few people's demands motioned which held at 12.00 in Rabindra Sarbor of Dhaka.

At 4.30 pm in Jessore press club Mr. Ashraf-ul-Alam Tutu Coordinator of CDP chair the press conference where the local & national media journalists were present.

In keshabpur Press club of Jessore Mr. Babor Ali Golder Executive Director of Panjia Samaj Kallayan Sangstha has organized a press conference at 10.00 am.

At 11.00 am in Jhenaidhaha Press club a press conference arranged by Mr. Habibur Rahman Executive Director of Padma Samaj Kallayan Sangstha.

In Kushtia press club Syeda Habiba Executive Director of Joti Nari O Sishu Unnayan Sangstha arranged a press conference.

Social activists Mr. Mikail Hossain also arranged a press conference in Phultala press club of Khulna.

I'll update GDA activities from other parts of the Bangladesh as soon as we finish the compilation.

In Solidarity

Jahangir Hasan Masum
Technical Adviser
Coastal Development Partnership (CDP)
Program & Management Office: 55/2,Islampur Road, Khulna-9100, Bangladesh
Research, Coordination & Networking Office: 12/A (GroundFloor), Road No # 2, Shyamoly, Dhaka-1207, Bangladesh

Personal cell/mobile: 088-01911313049
Phone: 0088-041-810573 (Khulna), &0880-01916033444 (Dhaka),
Fax: +88-041-729310 (Khulna)
ContactE-mail: tutucdp@yahoo.comOR OR

Wednesday, January 16, 2008
"Act together for Another World : A World without FTA, Poverty, War & Discrimination!"
WSF 2008 Global Days of Action & Mobilization in Korea

Various organizations, trade unions, social movements and coalitions have come together in a joint effort to stir public discourse and articulate their concern for the current local and global situation: neo-liberal policies, unaddressed discrimination, and war. Participants in the "Social Movements Assembly," the closing event of the Social Movements Forum held in September 2007, agreed to organize a series of actions during the "Global Week of Action & Mobilization" in Korea. Many organizations responded to the Call for Action that was prepared by forum participants, and the Organizing Committee for the WSF 2008- Global Days of Action in Korea was launched, detailed below.

Since the financial crisis in 1996~1997 and the expansion of neo-liberal globalization, understood and propagated by the ruling class as Korea's only viable option, threats to people's livelihood and the crisis of financial instability have only worsened for many. Experiencing the difficulties of this situation, more and more people have realized that neo-liberal globalization fails to affect positive change, molded instead to protect the profit-centered, exploitative practices and interests of businesses.

As exemplified in the continuing seven-month strike of E-land workers (employees of a multinational retail chain) who demand their reinstatement, currently, precarious workers are in the forefront of the struggle for labor rights. Women, who make up the majority of workers in low-paid, insecure, and informal jobs, are fighting against neo-liberal policies, which exacerbate the existing gendered division of labor.

Korean farmers participated in the international mobilization that united in Cancun and Hong Kong to assert mass opposition against the WTO and transnational agri-business, and to demand food sovereignty.

Undocumented migrant workers, fervently demanding their rights and recognition as workers, as people in Korean society, argue that labor rights and improved working conditions can be expanded for all, if solidarity that transcends racial, cultural, and national differences among unions, organizations and people is achieved. The anti-poverty movement continues to grow, responding to the worsening conditions of poverty, which escalates as a result of globalization, gentrification, and an increasing gap between the "rich" and the "poor."

Strengthening connections and co-ordination between diverse social movements in Korea unite against the main agenda of the neo-liberal government: the dispatch of troops to Iraq, expansion of U.S. military bases, and negotiation of harmful FTAs. All of these show that multi-dimensional social movements, rather than neo-liberal globalization, offer better alternatives for people's lives.

Through the Global Day of Action, the social movements for another world in Korea become public, visible and moving to mainstream society. The new president-elect, Lee Myeong-bak, is continuing the neoliberal policy in the manner of right-wing politics. Even before making his entrance to office, he constantly announces plans for corporate-friendly and anti-people, and anti-environment policies everyday. January 26, 2008 will be a day for precarious workers, migrant workers, the poor, women, students, and many others to speak out against repression and discrimination.

Global Press Conference in Seoul
․Time: 2008 January 22 - 12:00pm
․Venue: Press Room of KCTU

[Panel Discussion] 2008 Global Day of Action & Perspectives from the Global Social Movement

․Time: 2008 January 22 - 15:00pm
․Venue: Conference Room of KCTU

[Rally] 2008 WSF Global Day of Action: "Act together for Another World: A World without FTA, Poverty, War, and Discrimination!"

․Time: 2008 January 26 - 14:00pm
․Venue: Seoul Station Square

Human Rights before Urban Development for Speculation! : Joint Action for Housing Rights- linked with Global Campaign for Housing Rights
Time: Jan 21 ~ 26

Press Conference against Privatization of Energy, Water, Railway & Structural Adjustment in Public Sector

Time: 2008 January 23- 11:00am
Venue: In front of Office of Transition Committee of New government
Workshop on Water Industry Promotion Act
2008 January 23- 13:00am,

Street Outreach concerning Repression against Migrant Workers
Time: 2008 January 23- 12:00pm~13:00 pm
Venue: In front of Myeong-dong Cathedral

Organizing Committee for the WSF 2008- Global Days of Action & Mobilization in Korea
Office: 4th. Shinsung BLDG, 8-48, Galwoldong, Yongsangu, Seoul, Korea
Tel: +82-2-778-4001
Fax: +82-2-778-4006

Imagination for International Solidarity(IFIS)/ Korean House for International Solidarity(KHIS)/ Workers Institute for Management Analysis(WIMA)/ Power of Working Class (PWC)/ All Together/ Cultural Action/ Joint Action against Water Privatization/ Media Culture Action/ Democratic Worker's Solidarity/ National Association of Professors for Democratic Society/ People's Solidarity against Commercialization of Education/ Korean Federation of Medical Groups for Health Rights (KFHR)/ People's Solidarity against Poverty/ People's Solidarity for Social Progress(PSSP)/ Seoulidarity/ Emergency Committee to Stop Repression against Migrant Workers/ People Before Profit/Sarangbang group for Human Rights/ Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU)/ National Federation of the Poor of Korea/ Korean Solidarity against Precarious Work/ Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination/ Korean March of Students/ Spec Watch Korea/Forward/ Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea/ Student Action Solidarity/ Working Voice/ Korea Social Forum-Organizing Committee/Korea Alliance of Progressive Movements/ Koran Alliance against Korea-US FTA/ Workers' Front for Social Transformation

People's Solidarity for Social Progress
4th Fl. Shinsung BLDG, 8-48, Galwoeldong, Yongsangu, Seoul, Korea
Tel. +82-2-778-4001
Fax. +82-2-778-4006
Mobil +82-11-9279-7106

Women and Work in Indonesia
Michele Ford and Lyn Parker, Women and Work in Indonesia, Routledge,
New York and London, 2008.

ISBN: 978-0-415-40288-0

This book examines the meaning of work for women in contemporary Indonesia. It takes a broad definition of work in order to interrogate assumptions about work and economic activity, focusing on what women themselves see as their work, which includes not only paid employment, home life and child care, but also activities surrounding ritual, healing and religious life. It analyses the key issues, including the contrasts between `new' and `old' forms of work, the relationship between experiences of migration and work, and the ways in which religion – especially Islam - shapes perceptions and practice of work. It discusses women's work in a range of different settings, both rural and urban, and in different locations, covering Sumatra, Bali, Lombok, Java, Sulawesi and Kalimantan. A wide range of types of employment are considered: agricultural labour, industrial work and new forms of work in the tertiary sector such as media and tourism, demonstrating how capitalism, globalization and local culture together produce gendered patterns of work with particular statuses and identities. It address the question of the meaning and valuing of women's `traditional' work, be it agricultural labour, domestic work or other kinds of reproductive labour, challenging assumptions of women as `only' mothers and housewives, and demonstrating how women can negotiate new definitions of `housewife' by mobilizing kinship and village relations to transcend conventional categories such as wage labour and the domestic sphere. Overall, this book is an important study of the meaning of work for women in Indonesia.


0. Introduction: Thinking about Indonesian Women and Work Michele
Ford and Lyn Parker

1. Not your Average Housewife: Minangkabau Women Rice Farmers in West
Sumatra Evelyn Blackwood

2. Keeping Rice in the Pot: Women and Work in a Transmigration
Settlement Gaynor Dawson

3. Dukun and Bidan: The Work of Traditional and Government Midwives
in Southeast Sulawesi Simone Alesich

4. Poverty, Opportunity and Purity in Paradise: Women Working in
Lombok's Tourist Hotels Linda Rae Bennett

5. Industrial Workers in Transition: Women's Experiences of Factory
Work in Tangerang Nicholaas Warouw

6. Bodies in Contest: Gender Difference and Equity in a Coal Mine
Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt and Kathryn Robinson

7. Meanings of Work for Female Media and Communication Workers Pam
Nilan and Prahastiwi Utari

8. Makkunrai Passimokolo': Bugis Migrant Women Workers in Malaysia
Nurul Ilmi Idrus

9. Making the Best of What You've Got: Sex Work and Class Mobility in
the Riau Islands Michele Ford and Lenore Lyons

10. Straddling Worlds: Indonesian Migrant Domestic Workers in
Singapore Rosslyn von der Borch

Sunday, January 6, 2008
Economy in the shadows of corporatocracy
Opinion News - Thursday, January 03, 2008
B. Herry-Priyono, Jakarta

If you are a reader of The Jakarta Post, the probability is very high you do not make up a part of the population the World Bank in 2006 referred to as "108.78 million Indonesians who live on less than US$2 per person/day".

And if you think about economic issues, the chance is high you think in terms of corporate niches, commercial skyscrapers, exchange rates, stock markets, shares, securities, as well as other features of a modern economy.

Indonesia is blessed with a sophisticated and suave economy. And it is indeed a blessing -- if only this modern economy could be harnessed to help modernize the Indonesian economy.

But things are not as neat as a textbook or a recipe.

And the reasons have nothing to do with the presence of a modern and suave economy - which should be greeted with applause -- but with the way this type of economy connects to what the World Bank refers to as 108.78 million Indonesians who eke out with less than US$2 a day.

This warrants us to entertain some dangerous thoughts.

Year after year we have concerned ourselves with the stagnancy of the real sector economy -- and 2007 is no different from preceding years.

If anything, our concerns are even more poignant in 2007, regardless of the exuberant growth of the financial sector.

The reason the inertia around the real sector economy has become a source of our concern, belongs to the realm of supposition.

As is well known, the inertia around the real sector becomes a source of economic angst -- precisely because we assume too readily its growth will be the panacea for colossal poverty and employment in Indonesia.

But why is the growth of the modern real sector economy supposed to be the solution to poverty and unemployment? Here we usually cite graphs and statistics to show how the growth of the real sector (say, manufacturing) goes hand-in-hand with the declining unemployment rates. But poverty is a more elusive problem.

And on closer inspection, the question remains unanswered. The fact that many textbooks tell us so, is no argument this assumed relationship is beyond doubt.

To claim the problems of poverty and unemployment in Indonesia can be solved by the growth of the modern real sector economy is to assume too much for what is absent in the modern real sector itself -- as much as for the poor and unemployed.

In the former, we assume its rates of job absorption are high. This is laughable for two reasons.

First, the yearly rate of job absorption per 1 percentage of economic growth has been constantly plummeting, from about 400.000 before 1994 to less than 50.000 in 2006 and 2007.

Second, we cannot ignore the fact the corporate drive for job cuts, streamlining, and easy layoffs in a flexible labor market is inconsequential to the rates of corporate job absorption.

Economics has a penchant for using a term borrowed from classic logic, ceteris paribus (assuming other things being the same/constant).

The problem is, there is no ceteris paribus in the order of reality.

We simply cannot claim the prevalence of poverty and unemployment can be solved by the buoyant growth of the real sector through its high rates of job absorption -- because such high rates of absorption are void.

This is also true with regard to the characteristics of the poor and unemployed. Why on earth do we assume the technologically advanced and streamlined real sector industry would willingly employ a colossal number of the poor and unemployed with low technological skills?

To argue the imperative is to improve the technological skills of the poor and unemployed, is simply stating the obvious. But this could only be done on a long-term basis.

As for now, the textbook is confined to reality.

All this may bring us to our senses. We may have to entertain the dangerous thought the current policy hype around conducive climates for big global investment is nice.

But it is nice only if it is not seen as the solution to the prevalence of poverty and unemployment.

In fact, it is hard to suppress the thought the hype may just be a form of corporatocracy (a rule by modern big corporations), rather than an economic policy.

To put it bluntly, it is a form of policy in which we assign the task of solving poverty and unemployment problems to big corporations whose raison d'etre has never been to solve poverty and unemployment problems.

Or, at best, the link between the two is so indirect that, faced with the colossus of 108.78 Indonesians living on less than $2 a day, any seed of a link is bound to get lost in the morass of indirectness.

This simple yet easily forgotten point may sound too stark, but only if we have lost the ability to recognize this familiar point. What is urgently needed is the following: if the corporatocratic policy does not correspond to the reality of poverty and unemployment, it is not the reality that is faulty, but the policy that is not providing a solution to the reality of poverty and unemployment.

The act of faulting the reality of colossal poverty and unemployment is what seems to have besieged us these years. Instead of scrutinizing the corporatocratic policy that does not connect to the reality of colossal poverty and unemployment, we are wasting too much time quarreling over the number of the poor and unemployed, which is too obvious anyway, whether we start from the $1 or $1.55 or $2 benchmark.

It is no accident the quarrels then keep us all too busy to notice even the most obvious fallacy under our noses.

All this is suggested not to discount the issue of investment -- not even a fool would see it this way.

Rather, we may have to employ some imagination to re-orient our economic policy. Although re-orientation will never take place if we refuse to see the uncomfortable facts and policy fallacies in all their starkness.

First, after several years relying too much on the corporatocratic approaches to be the backbone of economic policy, it is sufficient to conclude corporatocracy will hardly solve colossal poverty and unemployment.

As noted, the reason is not that it is bad, but that it assumes too many factors are absent. To think it must benefit everyone is to mistake normative legitimacy for corporatocratic convenience.

Second, if the prevalence of poverty and unemployment includes almost half the Indonesian population, then no amount of corporatocratic doses will address the problem, for big corporations are not here to solve colossal poverty and unemployment.

This may compel us to accept the unpleasant truth that Indonesia is perhaps really characterized by a dual economy, even almost 60 years after the term was coined by a Dutch economist, JH. Boeke, to describe Indonesia's economic problems.

Third, in practical terms, this points us to an imperative to shift the direction of our economy policy away from the reigning corporatocratic approaches.

In its place is a focus on public infrastructure reconstructions and genuine promotion of micro and small entrepreneurship.

Of course, this last point has been a slogan in the air for some time. The problem is, promotion of micro or small entrepreneurship has so far been understood almost exclusively as a problem of the provision of financial capital. That is why the failure of micro and small entrepreneurship has been narrowly explained in terms of the failure of the intermediary function of the banking system.

It is unfortunate even the way we explain it has been captive to corporatocracy.

Let us admit in bad times the poor or unemployed will not go to modern banks. They are a continent away in terms of world views.

The former are driven by a survival economy and the latter by an accumulation economy.

So, the puzzle of economic policy in the 2008 is plain: how not to stick stubbornly to the corporatocratic approaches which have hardly solved the colossal nature of poverty and unemployment -- and how to respond to the poignant fact that with or without the blessings of government or corporatocrats, the poor and unemployed have to survive.

Or, we simply continue in the same old sterile way, mistaking corporatocracy for economic policy.

* The writer is a postgraduate program lecturer at the Driyarkara School of Philosophy, Jakarta and holds a PhD from the London School of Economics.

Prices soar, but when will farmers roar?
Opinion News - Thursday, January 03, 2008
H.S. Dillon and Steven R. Tabor, Jakarta, Leiden

The Indonesian economy appears to be steaming along, apparently oblivious to an array of global market shocks and stresses, but meanwhile agriculture sputters and spurts, as if bearing truth to Boeke's colonial hypothesis of a dualistic economy, where capitalist and native economies have their own dynamics.

To predict the path agriculture and the rural economy will take over the coming years we must try to delve into this seeming disconnect.

Global commodity prices for many of Indonesia's most important agriculture products have been on the steady rise since 2002. For example, between October 2002 and October, 2007 the price of Thai Rice (5 percent broken) almost doubled from $175 to $325 per ton, Arabica coffee doubled from $1.50 to nearly $3.00 per kg and palm oil prices went from $410 to $900 per ton. Over the same period, tea prices rose from $1.60 to $2.25 per kg, coconut oil escalated from $425 to $1,025 per ton and rubber almost trebled from 75 to 225 cents per kg.

Given Indonesia's rather liberal trade regime, one would expect to have seen the global price increases inspiring higher agricultural productivity. Five years of consistent strong global markets should have unleashed a powerful upturn in domestic supply. Such a supply response, in turn, would have considerably elevated farm incomes, boosting rural labor demand, and helping the rural poor escape the clutches of continuing poverty.

Let us see whether the data backs this up.

While global commodity prices have soared, farm incentives have not necessarily improved. In fact, between 2001 and 2007, the average index of prices received by farmers increased by a whopping 54 percent, but the index of prices the farmers had to pay rose even more (by 58 percent), resulting in a decline in their terms of trade.

Actually, agricultural terms of trade registered modest gains between 2001 and 2004, increasing with an annual average of 2.2 percent per year. However, 2005 saw them falling sharply and by 2007 they were below levels reached at the start of the decade, as seen in the following data.

Recent wage data revealed the rural wage index actually declined by approximately 12.5 percent between 2005 and 2006.

It is an anomaly that despite booming commodity prices, very little progress has been seen in reducing rural poverty levels during the past five years.

Interestingly enough, the most recent data indicates the incidence of poverty in rural areas is around twice as high as in cities. Indeed, the share of the rural population classified as being poor is almost the same in 2007 as it was in 2006. In 2002, when the Indonesian economy began its upturn, some 25 million rural inhabitants were classified as living below the poverty line. At the end of 2006, some 24.8 million rural persons were still in the same position -- essentially showing no development despite four years of strong economic expansion.

The table below makes it very difficult to argue that the current administration, even through a period of soaring agricultural commodity prices, has not made a substantial dent on rural poverty.

Why is agriculture failing to generate growth, productivity, income and employment that would be instrumental in pulling the rural population out of poverty?

For several years, successive governments have wagered that market forces would be sufficient to get agriculture moving. But agriculture has been hobbling along -- certainly not booming, and, other than a few export oriented commodities (notably palm oil), both output and export performance has been sluggish. Is this part of the globally observed phenomenon of rural populations unable to escape poverty traps?

The answer to this is that by and large agriculture remains constrained by structural problems; tiny holdings, farmers locked into low-return paddies by virtue of the watershed wide nature of irrigation systems, a dearth of viable new technology, weak rural infrastructure which has been allowed to deteriorate even further over the last decade and costly farmer-to-urban market supply chains.

One could also add low levels of agro-industrial development to the above list, along with a rural labor force hollowed out by the migration of its most capable members to urban areas. Thus, if poverty traps do exist, they are linked to a combination of market and government failings. Escape from such traps requires concerted and effective public intervention, and for many years the government has had neither the resources, the institutional arrangements-cum-capacity nor the requisite leadership to design and deliver public goods and services needed to put Indonesian agriculture onto a higher growth and socio-economic development trajectory.

The increasing income of billions of Chinese and Indian consumers is bound to drive up agriculture prices in future, which could mean the era of cheap food prices will draw to a close. What are the prospects then, for Indonesian farmers?

As 2008 would be the final year preceding the presidential elections, one need not be surprised if ministers in this coalition cabinet are seen marching to beats of different drummers. If memory serves us well, the President's launch of the 'Revitalization of Agriculture' initiative in June 2005 was heralded as a serious attempt to keep his promise to transform rural economies.

Boosting rural labor productivity was believed to be an effective instrument used to simultaneously achieve all three objectives of growth, employment, and poverty alleviation. However, low growth in agricultural productivity and little progress in rural poverty reduction suggests there has been more continuity than change in the countryside.

Why? Because, it seems, presidential directives are being blown away in the wind. The current coalition cabinet coalesces but on occasion. If farmers continue to cry while agricultural prices soar sky-high, the blame for non-performance would have to be posted on the door of the President himself.

Although elected by a popular vote, strongly endorsing his agenda, the President inexplicably selected a cabinet based on principles of political expediency. Approaching the final stretch he thus finds himself presiding over a government which has failed to live up to campaign promises he made to the farming community, with absolutely no reason to believe it fulfill them in 2008.

Therefore, we anticipate export-oriented tree crop producers will continue to expand production at a robust pace, but sadly, the great bulk of agriculture -- regardless of the global market -- is bound to continue hobbling, largely unaided this year. It may be some time yet before our farmers begin to roar.

*HS Dillon is the director of the Centre for Agricultural Policy Studies (CAPS), Jakarta and Steven R. Tabor is a director of EMSI Inc., an economic consultancy firm in Leiden.

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