Saturday, January 05, 2013


Dear Kate,

What's "blusukan"? Any economics on it?

Struggling Indonesianist

Dear Strugling Indonesianist,

Apparently you've been trying hard to read Indonesian news. I know it's fun, right? Here's a secret to learn the language quickly: just read the news over and over again, check the ones with pictures, forget dictionary or thesaurus. You'll get the feel eventually.

But lemme try. Blusukan perhaps means an impromptu visit by a top official to his/her subordinates - or as the media put it, to the people. It's done in order to get information from the grass root first hand, maybe. It can also be seen as an act of caring. When else a governor or a president pay a friendly visit to the poor? Empathy is the keyword.

But "impromptu" might not be a correct term. I would think any visit by a governor or a president would involve lots of preparation and security procedures. Some streets should be closed, alleys cleared. Some media get invited with special access to the site - but for regular cars, motorcycles, pedestrians, it's probably a detour. So, with all due respect, the economic impact for street sellers having to postpone their business a couple of hours might be negative. Let alone the extra time needed by motorists to deal with the additional traffic jam. It's great to meet with our leader occasionally. But probably you don't want it all too often.



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  2. Blusukan is important as long as better service. But I disagree it practiced for campaign only.