as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 10 January 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada.
I Made Gali Lubang Tutup Lubang is eager to ask his friends to make a cooperative.
We have to make a economy institution quickly, otherwise we are finished, he says.
We are facing Asian Free Trade condition. Products from other Asian countries will easily come to Indonesia as no import tax is charged to the products.
You know, when the import tax was still charged to products coming from other countries, Chinese products had already come to Indonesia massively, and our products could not compete with them; sugar, peanuts, underwear, etc. When the free trade zone is really applied, we are finished.
Nobody really pays attention to the conversation. They only pay attention when the topic of discussion is about money, women and meat and sort of.
Only I Wayan Setir Kiri takut Istri (I Wayan Good Husband) is surprised.
“Oh My God, thank you Made for talking about Chinese products. I almost forgot. My wife asks me to buy a toy for my son. Sorry my friends, I have to go to the ‘Serbu’ (Serba Lima Ribu: all items cost five thousand Rupiahs each) shop,” he says.
Since there has been the ‘Serbu Shop’ next to the soccer field, everyone goes there shopping. It has everything and very cheap too. It has been our question how come the Chinese can sell their products cheaply in spite of shipping cost from China to Bali that they bear. And how strange that our products are more expensive than theirs.
“I would think that the businessmen here have to cover a lot of unnecessary cost, e.g. fund raise arranged by village youth associations, donation for new year’s eve celebration, campaign for local election, etc. In order to cover that cost and still be able to make profit, the businessmen will of course increase the price of their products,” says I Putu Kredit Kema Utang Mai (I Putu Wherever He Goes He Borrows Money).
“So, in order to deal with the situation, I would think that we need to build a cooperative to be able to compete with Chinese products. I mean, when we work together side by side, we can solve any problem,” Made says further.
The problem is that he talks the right thing at the wrong place. Most of the drinking club members have no entrepreneurship mentality. They are just happy with their current condition. They have no idea where they will get money from for cooperative capital.
“If I join the cooperative, do I get a free T-shirt? Or a pack of rice?” says I Ketut Bayah Malu Dukungan Nanti (I Ketut Pay First But Goods Later).
“What kind of cooperative we are going to build? If it a selling product cooperative, I might not join, but if it is a cooperative for saving and borrowing money, I will. And I want to be the first customer to borrow money,” Ketut further says.
Now we know what situation the cooperatives are like in Bali. It’s just a place to borrow money. So when one has already borrowed money in the public bank or village bank, they will go to village cooperative to borrow money.
“Most of Balinese prefer to borrow money instead of using their money to start new business. They would think that why we should bother work when we can borrow money easily?”
“If it is like that you think, of course will be finished soon, we will become objects only, as we are only customers only, never become producers”, says Made.
The others jus smile. They don’t really know about Asia Free Trade. They don’t even know how a cooperative can make their life better.
“Well, let’s just ignore Free Trade or whatever it is, who knows China will also be able to produce palm toddy and roasted pigs that much cheaper than ours. If they do so, I will ask the Chinese government to take over Indonesian government who only talk and talk but does nothing.
So the Balinese now are waiting banten (offering), caru (a load of offering for ground spirits) and temples that MADE IN CHINA.