Indonesian Policy Bits: Drunk Driving and Privacy for Sale

I’m starting a weekly segment on my blog on “Indonesian Policy Bits”, which are minor commentaries on articles that I’ve read on Indonesian policies and its political and economic situation, apart from my regular analysis or commentaries. This week, I’ll touch up on the issue of drunk driving vis-a-vis alcohol control and the government’s proposal to sell citizen database in the electronic identification cards system for business interests.

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I’m starting a weekly segment on my blog on “Indonesian Policy Bits”, which are minor commentaries on articles that I’ve read on Indonesian policies and its political and economic situation, apart from my regular analysis or commentaries. This week, I’ll touch up on the issue of drunk driving vis-a-vis alcohol control and the government’s proposal to sell citizen database in the electronic identification cards system for business interests.

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The famous fountain in front of Hotel Indonesia has become a favorite spot for drunk drivers. A car with its 23-year-old drunk driver crashed the fountain, broke two fountain lamps (each costing Rp 27 million) and a water pump. A police officer who worked at the police bureau near the fountain said that similar accidents were frequent, at least five this year.

So what is the solution? A Jakarta Park Agency officer said:

“We have requested the Transportation Agency to immediately build rows of light speed bumps so that drunk drivers would be alerted as their cars approach the fountain”

Did it occur to them that they should stop drivers from getting drunk at the first place?

At least two problems occur to me: 1) there is a lack of public education on the consequences of drunk driving; 2)  I question whether there is alcohol control, especially for minors.

I would expect the government to have public education services on the dangers of alcohol, i.e. that you need to be responsible when you drink. Of course, conservative groups would immediately make a fuss that such acts would only encourage more drinking because you’re not supposed to drink in the first place. It’s the same problem with sex education and public information on the use of condoms – try telling the girls who must bear their unwanted pregnancies that it’s their fault because they’re not supposed to have sex in the first place.

Public awareness is needed because you can’t stop people from getting drunk or having sex, but you can teach them on how to be responsible about it. Ignoring the problem doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

One phenomena that I observed in Jakarta, is the mushrooming of 7/11, Circle K and other convenience store that freely sells alcohol. In several occasions, I have seen under-age teenagers buying alcoholic drinks without any adult supervision. There were no control from the sellers themselves, although there is clearly a sign that says “selling alcohol and tobacco to people under the age of 18 is prohibited” behind the sales counter.

Tobacco? Don’t get me started. Any kid can easily buy cigarettes from the nearby warung for such a cheap price.

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Here’s another news: the government plans to sell our electronic data for business interests.

I’m a supporter for a single identification number system, because there are several benefits to it, among them are:

  • Prevention of identity frauds, which can lead to the prevention of money laundering and even track possible terrorists;
  • Easier to track low-income groups so it is relatively easier to target poverty alleviation measures, i.e. educational and health assistance; and
  • Prevent voters data manipulation in elections

What I don’t agree is that if the government tries to sell our data for marketing purposes:

Reydonnyzar Moenek, Home Ministry spokesman, told The Jakarta Post on Monday that the data could be used for business interests but only to see the distribution of certain characteristics of the Indonesian population.

“For example, if a milk brand needs data about infant distribution in Indonesia for marketing purposes, they can use the data. But we won’t disclose private information,” he said, adding that the government would charge those who were interested in using the data.

“We will discuss the mechanism further, but if it happens, the income from selling the database will be categorized as non-tax income,” he added.

Instead of protecting our privacy, they are looking for additional state income? If this happens, I will mourn the loss of integrity from my government that they are more willing to sell our data for money.