There is one thing that has been bothering me for the last few days since Katrina hit the gulf states. I have not found any official statement from the Indonesian government to express our condolences and sympathy for those who suffer from Katrina in the US. The only thing different from Katrina and the tsunami is the number of lifes lost. Obviously, we managed to avoid a massive loss of life in Katrina thanks to the nature of the dissaster that allows us to track and predict the event for days ahead. We did not have this luxury in the case of the tsunami. Hours or minutes is about all we had in Aceh.
So, America is now facing a natural disaster almost equal to the tsunami tragedy that hit Indonesia in December 2004. Back in December 2004, America was quick to respond to the emergency in Aceh. President Bush appeared in front of the camera to express his sympathy and support for the people of Aceh and Indonesia. President Bush even visited the Indonesian embassy in Washington DC to further express his sympathy and support. The United States quickly sent her sons and daughters, ships, helos, airplanes, medicines, food, water, and money to Aceh very swiftly. The aid coming from the US for Aceh, is arguably the largest aid package given by any nation and any NGO. In short, America was there when Indonesia was in need of help.
Now, why Indonesia is not in any position to offer physical or monetary help to assist in the Katrina incident. We are still struggling to put lifes back to normal in Aceh and is still in need of help. However, the government of Indonesia should at least release an official statement of sympathy and support to Americans now suffering from Katrina. I did not see this one bit in all Indonesian media I could access online. I think this is outrageous and I am outright shamed by this lack of sensitivity and inhumanity .... they may not be able to send money, ships, and supply to the victims of Katrina, but Indonesia should be able to mourn and pray for those who suffer in MS, AL, and LA as a gesture of appreciation for what America had done for Indonesia during the tsunami tragedy.
I have raised hell in various Indonesian mailing list about this issue. Many tried to hide behind the excuse that Indonesian government is now dealing with difficult economic issues. But they all fell silent when I asked "What would you think of the US if they chose NOT to help us out after the tsunami? America had its own problem too, foreign and domestic, to deal with. Yet they did show up in force to help us." Why is it that when another country is in trouble, everybody seems to turn to the U.S. for help. Yet, when the U.S. is facing a disaster like Katrina, I never heard of any support from foreign countries?
I know I am just a single individual, but as an Indonesian I would like to openly express my sorrow, sympathy and support for those affected by Katrina in this country. I also would like to apologize for any lack of courtesy and/or sense of humanity so far displayed by the Indonesian government and the Indonesian press. It is sad to read how top headlines in Indonesia 1 day after Katrina were all about how Rupiah (Indonesian currency) was weakening against the US Dollar and how the gasoline prices soared. Yet very little coverage was given to the devastation left by Katrina in the US.
Don't sweat it, but your gratitude and wanting to help back is very appreciated.