Category Archives: My Inspiration

INVISIBLE BARRIERS (bukan hanya sebatas artikel)

Bukan hanya sebuah artikel tetang mobil tapi akan lebih tentang bagaimana rasa nasionalisme dan pstriotisme, rasa cinta terhadap negara.

Jun 24, 2001 8:00 PM EDT
In posh Kangnam, at the bustling heart of Seoul, a lonely Ford dealer makes an odd pitch to shoppers who barely glance at his shop. Inside the nearly deserted showroom, a display of flowers and pink ribbons presents a green Lincoln LS as the car of choice for–movie stars? Football players? No: government ministers. Salesman Jeon Kyeong Seob says the idea is to convince consumers they will no longer be punished for buying foreign autos. The pitch isn’t working too well. This is Ford’s main showroom in South Korea, and it has sold only about 100 cars so far this year. Why? “Patriotism,” says Jeon, gazing out on a street filled with Korean cars made by Hyundai, Kia or Daewoo. “Koreans are patriotic people.”
The supposedly inexorable force of globalization can’t change that. After years of pressure from the Americans, Europeans and Japanese, South Korea has cut tariffs, taxes, rules and regulations, becoming one of the most open car markets in the world–on paper. Nevertheless, South Koreans almost never buy foreign cars. The combined marketing might of the world’s great carmakers persuaded South Koreans to buy 4,400 imports last year–a mere 0.4 percent of the total market. Last week a visiting U.S. trade delegation demanded even lower barriers. Local importers can only sigh. They say no edict from Seoul can undo decades of government, corporate and union exhortations to buy Korean. “It is easy to change regulations and tax systems,” says Son Eul Rae, a Mercedes dealer who heads an auto- importers association. “But changing a culture or a mind-set is not.”
This culture was built on anger. After decades of Japanese occupation ended with Japan’s defeat in World War II, South Korea set out to win a respectable place in the world. “Nation building through exports,” the rallying cry of President Park Chung Hee in the early 1960s, was emblazoned on factory walls all over the country. Luxury-import buyers were publicly denounced as traitors. Until the 1980s, smoking foreign cigarettes was a crime punishable by jail. But no luxury item had more power as a patriotic symbol than the car.
That’s still true. The Buy Korean campaign tapped into a deep Confucian bias against displays of wealth. During the 1997 Asian financial crisis, officials in Seoul loudly blamed their currency’s plunge on profligate Koreans’ buying foreign goods. The real problem was that the country’s consumers were scared to buy anything. But TV news reports on the crisis routinely showed footage of foreign-car salesrooms anyway. Citizen vigilantes took up the cause, slashing tires and scratching paint jobs on foreign cars left unattended in Seoul. “I heard so much about harassment of import cars or their drivers,” says a 41-year-old restaurant owner who uses only secure pay lots to park her blue BMW. “I actually hesitated buying this car because of that.”
The harassment decreased as the economy recovered, but the resentment still lingers. An import dealer says he doesn’t allow TV crews in his showroom if they are from the city desk of a big Seoul network, because he knows the footage will be used to bash foreign-car buyers, who are abused enough. In a recent survey of 200 domestic-luxury-car owners, 70 percent said buying imports would lead to greater “social disparity,” and nearly half avoid imports for fear of “dirty looks” from fellow Koreans.
That hostility is about more than cars. It’s about economic class and corruption, too. Back in the Park era, when tax dodging was a national sport, one of the easiest ways to catch rich cheats was to audit anyone who traveled abroad or bought pricey foreign cars. Many of the targets were doctors, lawyers and other professionals with substantial cash incomes, rather than executives, whose corporate salaries were easier to trace. Until only a few years ago, simply owning a foreign car was enough to trigger an audit. Foreign carmakers protested the practice as an underhanded form of protectionism by intimidation.
Everything is different now, Seoul insists. Formal barriers started eroding in the early ’90s under former president Kim Young Sam, who cut auto-import tariffs from 20 percent to the current 8 percent. That’s lower than tariffs in the European Union, Australia, Taiwan and many other wealthy nations. Since then Seoul has revised discriminatory taxes on foreign cars, eased complicated testing requirements and otherwise tried to satisfy foreigners’ demands for an open market. Yet the gross imbalance of the South Korean car trade remains–the 4,400 imports last year, versus 1.5 million exports–keeping alive the suspicion that South Korea is still trying to export its way to prosperity. The less-than-1 percent import share of the South Korean market compares with 6 percent in Japan and 30 percent in the United States.
Seoul is increasingly focusing its reform efforts on informal, cultural barriers. Until recently Korean business and government leaders would never have dared to be seen riding in a foreign car. Lately, though, President Kim Dae Jung has repeatedly urged them to start buying imports for official purposes. Early this month Hwang Doo Yun, the Trade minister, bought a Lincoln LS with much fanfare. “With my action, I would like to convince people that foreign-car owners don’t face any disadvantages,” said Hwang. “In this age of globalization, riding a foreign car is not against national interests.” He went so far as to predict that Korean car buyers would one day embrace imports in the same way that “Korean kids have switched from kimchi to hamburgers.”
One day, perhaps. Ford dealers see hints of change even at Posco, a steel giant and a bastion of Korean export strength. Foreign cars used to be banned from even entering the grounds of Posco’s mills. (A company spokesman denies that such a policy ever existed.) But Ford officials say they were surprised recently to get a request from Posco’s presidential office for price quotes and brochures on Ford cars. “They have not yet placed any orders, but that itself was a major shock,” says Ford’s Korea sales rep, Jay Jung. “We are still in a survival mode, but see a growth trend ahead.”
The Kim administration is trying to allay the car buyers’ lingering fears of punishment. In April a senior tax officer proclaimed that import owners are no longer to be targeted for audits. Many people remain skeptical. Nearly two thirds of the luxury-car owners in the poll said they still think import buyers are inviting an audit. Import dealers are desperately trying to lure wary customers, at times offering zero-interest-rate loans and two or three years of free maintenance. Foreign-car dealers are even starting to battle the nationalists head on. Last week, as workers at Daewoo Motors escalated their protests against a possible General Motors takeover, the importers were trumpeting the benefits that foreign capital could bring to the industry.
South Koreans’ refusal to buy American gives GM more incentive to tangle with Daewoo’s angry workers and massive debts. Daewoo could enable the U.S. firm to slip through the invisible barriers. The French automaker Renault managed the same trick last year when it bought a controlling stake in Samsung Motors. Samsung’s cars were originally designed by a Japanese maker, Nissan, but the domestic brand name is what counts with South Korean consumers. With less than a decade in the automaking business, Samsung sold 28,000 cars in South Korea last year–compared with only 182 for GM. “By acquiring Daewoo, GM can secure easy access to the difficult Korean auto market,” says J. M. Park, an auto analyst with Jardine Fleming, who foresees a wave of foreign investment in Korean makers. “Eventually, it will be meaningless to differentiate domestic carmakers from foreign makers.” The strategy is pretty simple: if you can’t sell to Koreans, buy their car companies.

SRI SULTAN HAMENGKUBUWONO IX, INSPIRASI SEPANJANG ZAMAN (menembus ruang, batas, dan waktu)

Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX bukanlah sosok yang asing bagi masyarakat Indonesia, terlebih lagi bagi masyarakat Yogyakarta. Sosok yang menjadi raja terlama di Yogyakarta ini bukan hanya sekedar raja tetapi seorang pemimipin yang “ngayomi” rakyatnya. Beliau lahir di kalangan Bangsawan Yogyakarta pada  tanggal 12 April 1912. Walaupun beliau berasal dari kalangan bangsawan tetapi tidak membuat beliau menjadi manja. Pada usia 4 tahun beliau tinggal di salah satu keluarga Belanda. Pada usia 6 tahun beliau bersekolah di Eerste Europese Lagere School B dan menamatkan sekolah dasarnya di Neutrale Europese Lagere School. Walaupun beliau beasal dari kalangan bangsawan, tetapi beliau sangat menyukai bersepeda, berkemah, dan sepak bola. Beliau bahkan pernah menjadi anggota kesebelasan sepak bola pada usia 14 tahun. Memasuki sekolah menengah pertama hingga menengah atas, beliau harus meninggalkan Yogyakarta untuk melanjutkan pendidikannya di Semarang dan Bandung. Dari perlakuan tersebut, ayahanda beliau, Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono VIII mengharapkan beliau dapat menanamkan sifat sederhana dan disiplin.

Usai menyelesaikan sekolah menengah atasnya, Sultan melanjutkan pendidikannya di Holland. Ia memilih jurusan Indologi yang merupakan gabungan dari bidang hukum dan ekonomi diRijksuniversiteit, Leiden. Menjadi mahasiswa di Negeri Belanda benar-benar membuka cakrawala baru yang makin luas bagi beliau. Semasa kuliah, beliau sangat aktif dalam berorganisasi, beliau pernah menjadi anggota Leidse Studentencorps, ketua Verenigde Faculteiten , dan komisiaris Minerva. Beliau juga rajin menghadiri klub diskusi (debating club) yang dipimpin oleh Prof. Schrieke, karena perhatiannya yang besar terhadap perkembangan politik dan ekonomi. Pada tahun 1937, Sultan lulus dengan predikat candidaats-examen sehingga ia dapat melanjutkan pendidikan hingga tingkat doktoral.

Pad usia 28 tahun beliau dinobatkan sebagai Sultan menggantikan ayahandanyaa. Dalam sambutannya pada penobatan sebagai Raja, beliau  mengatakan bahwa akan mempertemukan jiwa Barat dan Timur agar dapat bekerja dalam suasana harmonis. Kata Sultan, meski beliau telah mengenyam pendidikan barat, beliau tetap orang Jawa. Setelah menjadi Sultan, beliau adalah sosok yang sangat patut untuk di teladani. Beliau begitu membaur dengan rakyat, tidak segan-segan beliau sering berkunjung ke pasar tradisional, menyapa rakyatnya secara langsung. Sultan juga memberi kesempatn kepada rakyatnya untuk mengunggapkan segala keluhannya di alun-alun. Bahkan pada suatu saat Sultan pernah di tilang oleh seorang polisi di Pekalongan pada waktu menuju ke Tegal. Dengan bersahaja Sultan tidak menggunkan kekuasaannya untuk melawan, tetapi Sultan menuruti aturan yang ada karena beliau merasa melakukan kesalahan. Sungguh sosok pemimpin yang sangat patut dicontoh. Sultan tidak sembarangan dalam mempergunakan kekuasaannya, jika beliau memang salah maka beliau akan mengakui kesalahannya.

Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX adalah sosok yang nasionalis. Beliau memiliki rasa nasionalisme yang tinggi terhadap NKRI ini. Beliau selalu menyorakkan kemerdekaan RI seperti keikutsertaan dalam Serangan Umum 1 Maret 1949 membantu Bung Karno dan Bung Hatta. Tak hanya itu, saat masa penjajahan Jepang, Sultan melarang pengiriman romusha dengan mengadakan proyek lokal saluran irigasi Selokan Mataram. Sultan tidak ingin melihat rakyatnya sengsara dikarenkan penjajah. Sultan yang pernah menjadi wakil presiden NKRI, juga pernah menyumbangkan dana 6 juta gulden kepada Indonesia sebagai modal awal terbentuknya negeri ini. Sultan tidak pernah perhitungan demi kemajuan bangsanya. Sungguh seorang pemimpin yang sangat patut diteladani.

Dalam bidang pendidikan pun, Sultan menjadi salah satu founding father Universitas Gadjah Mada Yogyakarta. Sultan HB IX juga ikut mendukung penggabungan pendidikan tinggi yang tersebar di berbagai wilayah di Klaten, Surakarta, maupun yang ada di Yogyakarta, menjadi satu perguruan tinggi yaitu UGM. Peran Sultan terhadap pendirian UGM sangat besar baik secara historis, sosiologis, politik, kultural, idenasional-ideologis, faktual, material-fisikal dan spasial-lokasional. Secara nyata Sultan juga memberikan bantuan dalam penyediaan sarana dan prasarana. Beberapa di antaranya adalah menyediakan tempat perkuliahan di Sitihinggil dan Pagelaran Kraton serta gedung lainnya di sekitar kraton. Ia pun menyediakan tanah kraton (sultan ground) untuk pendirian kampus UGM yang baru di wilayah Bulaksumur dan sekitarnya.

Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX adalah sosok yang patut di teladani oleh bangsa ini. Terutama generasi muda yang saat ini telah banyak kehilangan arah untuk memajukan bangsa tertelan oleh arus globalisasi zaman. Semangat dan kecintaan Sri Sultan terhadap NKRI akan terus berkobar walaupun raga tidak lagi berpijak di bumi pertiwi ini. Gaungan suara semangat yang di serukan Sultan haruslah menjadi cambuk bagi generasi muda dalam megisi kemerdekaan. Semangat dan teladan yang telah diberikan beliau sebagai seorang pemimpin haruslah menjadi cambuk bagi generasi penerus banga untuk menjadi pemimpin-pemimpin baru yang akan memberi perubahan pada bangsa dan negara. Sri Sultan HB IX walaupun engkau telah pergi namun semangatmu tetap ada hingga kini menembus ruang, batas, dan waktu.