This article was published a couple of weeks ago in The Jakarta Globe, in response to some very irresponsible tweets from a certain minister who should have known better than to be a Twitter Twit.
I can't wait to join Sir Richard Branson on his travel to outer space. Imagine being able to get away from this planet and all the problems that come with living on it. Richard Branson said he should get things ready in eighteen months' time by which time the ordinary person like you and me, plus a couple of hundred thousand dollars for a return ticket, would be able to lift off into the final frontier and follow the footsteps of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
I don't know if I could wait that long though, or whether I would get a return ticket at all. A one way ticket would be just fine. Other than being cheaper to raise the money, I relish the idea of moving permanently to outer space and live on a starship like the crew in Star Trek. From there I could watch the blue planet at a distance far enough to appreciate its wondrous beauty without having to witness the shenanigans of its inhabitants.
To be honest some of these shenanigans are beginning to get on my wick recently, prompting my desire to get off the planet all together - from bloody conflicts, street thuggeries, violent displays of intolerance and increasing narrowmindedness that seem to be prevalent both at home and across the globe.
Right now at the top of my list of pet peeves is in the shape of our Minister of Communication and Information, notorious for his ability to stir controversies by being the embodiment of miscommunication and disinformation often through his habit of tweeting before thinking..
His recent gaffe, for which duly received a deluge of censure, with many bordering on the abusive, from the incensed denizens of the Twitter world, was when he made peculiar animadversions in his tweets regarding AIDS victims, linking the disease to sexually deviant behaviour by homosexuals who like to stick their their appendage into just about anything.
His six part carefully crafted Twitter treatise, quite impressive for someone who only took two weeks to master the intricate skills of posting tweets online, went something like this:
Tweet 2: 'The cause of HIV/AIDS from gay people has increased sharply.' Doctors say that deviant behaviour is the cause of the spread of the virus.
Tweet 3: The Quran says: Allah overturns the earth of the people of the prophet of Luth, homosexuals, rain stones over them, from the burning soil. (Not quite sure what this means)
Tweet 4: The spread of the HIV/AIDS must be prevented as is the spread of behaviour that potentially carries the said viruses.
Tweet 5: According to Prof. Suyudi, the former healthminister, to make it easier to remember AIDS stands for 'Akibat Itunya Dipakai Sembarangan' ('because of improper use of 'it'- 'it' being understood as a reference to the male genitalia)
The next tweet quotes the saying of a Kyai about devils. Excuse the translation but I think you've got the gist.
The tweets have now mysteriously disappeared from his Timeline but could still be accessed on the Timeline of one @fajarjasmin, who is HIV positive and who was understandably upset by the minister's aspersions about AIDS sufferers and lack of sensitivity.
He felt that those kinds of comment coming from someone in a position of power and trust are not only hurtful and damaging to HIV carriers and AIDS victims, but perpetuate the negative stigma and prejudice that they, their families and AIDS workers have worked hard to overcome.
Aside from the fact that the comments were erroneous, it is also this type of blatant homophobia and stereotyping that legitimises the intolerance and discrimination against AIDS victims and homosexuals.
I shan't waste too much time giving my own two cents worth over our esteemed minister's peculiar views on a subject beyond his ken - suffices that his words already reflect the capacity of his fine intellect - other than it is obvious that the poor man is so out of depth in the job that he's entrusted with.
Moreover, he does profess on the front page of his website that when it comes to matters of morality, he is an ustadz (religious teacher), which is not quite on par with the responsibility of implementing the country's communication and information strategy, in which presumably the issue of whether one goes to heaven or hell is not really cogent.
As a matter of fact, his salient contribution to solving the country's communication problems so far, rather than focus on the critical digital divide where a big part of the archipelago still has no access to the Internet and deprived of information that would benefit their educational and economic opportunities, is to spend huge amount of energy blocking pornographic websites under the pretext of saving our souls and obsession with smut.
I lay the blame not on him however, but at the feet of his boss, the president, who gave him the job. The man is obviously a liability to this country. What would SBY say to President Obama when he comes and discuss the country's MDGs progress, particularly on Goal 6 and efforts to educate people on AIDS.
If the president continues to retain him as the cabinet court jester I have a good mind to apply to be the UN's ambassador for Aliens, preferably with a posting on another planet.
(Desi Anwar: first published in The Jakarta Globe)