Saturday, September 5, 2009

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOURGH, TIMOR LESTE COUNTRY

It never cross in my mind where is Dilly was up until year 1979 when we transfered to Kupang Branch of Bank BRI in Timor island as a vice branch manager. Kupang, the capital of Nusatenggara in the west part of Timor and Dilly, capital of East Timor propince, recently Timor Leste Lorosae country.

And then just in short period of time I promoted to a higher ladder as BRI Atambua Branch manager for the first time, replacing Mr.Tahir Selo.
Atambua, small town, Capital of Belu district located remotely, very east part of West Timor, bordered to East Timor, younger province, after united to Indonesia. After sitting in this new position just for 3 months, my superior in Regional office Kupang, ordered me to set up a new office at Maliana, capital of Bobonaro district about 2 - 3 hours drive from Atambua, through dusting road and  cross the rivers without bridges.

In year 1981 East Timor province in west sector -west of Dilly- relatively peace, compare to east sector, that rebel never surrender and war fighting, mortar's explosion is a common music in everyday life. In Bobonaro districts that I visited regularly (every 2-3 weeks), we heard rumors of Fretilin rebel soldiers enter our district. Some other  times asked the civilians for foods. But, personally I never met them face to face.on our way back and forth Atambua - Maliana, where we always took a lot of cash, without any police protection.

As a part of Indonesian Goverment agencies, we took a serious responsibility to elevate citizen wellfare by all means, among other things to provide financial services to the farmers, agriculture sector and small businesses.
First thing we do is to promote Agriculture program to local authorities and farmers, a kind of program, known as BIMAS (Bimbingan Massal) or Mass quidance in rice production by provide fertilizer, loan, cash and field supervisors. In order to handle it properly, I myself  jointed my staf in disburshement of the loan directly in the remote villages.

This is the first time ever Bank BRI participate to help increase rice production, here in East Timor. And we take to account that this program might be not successfull as we did in neigbourgh district of Atambua. But, hopefully in the long run, our mission will affected increase in rice production and wellfare of poor farmers as well, so they will thanks and think joining the Republic of Indonesia is the best choice.

The second thing we do is introduced the loan  for Working capital nor Investment loan to small businesses. Special treatment created to lend the loan for buying two trucks to construction companies. In conjunction to this kind of loan, we invite Mitsubishi agent from Kupang to distributed many trucks for our costumers in Atambua construction companies and Maliana as well.

Still fresh in my mind when we hand over the keys in signing the loan in front of local Goverment who attended the opening ceremonial of Bank BRI office in Malina town. This event covered by Kompas daily reporter, Jakarta newspaper and post our pictures in the news. Looking back to that old picture, we will see local Goverment, Head of Bank Indonesia Kupang, head of BRI Regional offices Kupang and 5 BRI Bank branch managers of 5 towns in Timor island.

I fully aware that customers in Maliana town, actually was not eligible to get the loan, since they were unable to surrender the land's title as a collateral. But as a state owned Bank, in order to help the local communities, we create a special treatment by issued an Information letter only, from the local authority, stated that the properties belong to the costumers and became a collateral. to the loan.

After lending the loan, delivered the trucks, I imagine, probably the borrowers wouldn't pay the instalments and interest as scheduled, since they are accostumed to get aid from the Goverment nor United nation. They would treat this loan just as an aid and not necessarily to repay.

To prevent Bank loses, I had covered this loan by insurance policy to P.T.ASKRINDO, insurance company owned by Goverment. Later, what my imagination  come true, that most of the loans were bad qualities and they don't care to pay the interest and principal monthly basis. So after 3 months in a row, no interest payment at all, based on regulation, we had the right to claim it to insurance company. Luckily, we keep excellent loan administration files, so we filed the claim comprehensively that insurance company no reason to turn it down. And they paid.

I spend my life in Atambua more than 3 years, including covered Maliana teritory. Personally I do my best to set up a new Goverment Bank, the first Bank ever in town. No politicking and profit motive behind my services, solely dedicated myself, Bank BRI to people in this  younger province.

I visited Dilly, the capital 3 times in 3 years. Firstly I traveled with my Regional manager, Mr Martono from Kupang by plane in approaching military command to get a permit of opening a new BRI Bank branch in Dilly after 2 Bank opened previously, Bank Indonesia and Bank Dagang Negara.The situation in this capital rather in ambiques situation between war and peace climate, surrounding by military appearance in every cross section of the road, military vechicles, troops, armors etc. Fretilin rebels hiding among civilians, nobody knows.

Second time, we drive Toyota jeep accompanied by Mr.Handoko, a prime costumer of BRI Atambua through rough dusting road, pass the rivers full of stones, crossing without bridges, climbing to the top of the hill before come down to the valley, go along the beach heading to Dilly.The beauty of the beach didn't touch my heart and my eyes, since our mind covered fully  by insecurity along the way to Dilly. Its a scary time but enjoyable, because not everybody has this oportunity. I doing this aventures trip in my young spirit in 36 years of old.

The last visit we go by plane to attend the opening ceremony of new BRI Bank branch of Dilly, in central business district, manage for the first time by Mr.Saroji. In this event the central Goverment speaches delivered by Mr.Sudjasmin, second man in the military command of Dilly, happened to be my brother in law, his wife is Situmeang fam, from my hometown Sibolga.  As a brother in law, the couple visited me in Turismo Hotel, the best Hotel in town facing the beach and cross statue.

Talking about the beach, after leaving Atapupu, small port of Belu, we will see the white sand along the beach "Pasir putih", the nice place to visit. Not far from the beach, on the right side of the road, we found military vechicles structures as the witness of how terrible the war was before East Timor joined  Indonesia. We may imagines how many soldiers died, how many innocence civilians must die for nothing, how much blood sacrificed to get the freedom from Portuquise colonial.

On my regular visit to Maliana nor driving to Dilly, so sorry to say that West Timor development much better off compare to East Timor province condition, with no intention whatsoever to humiliate the people and the Goverment of East Timor. We realized it from very beginning when we cross the border in Motaangin post, that the road inside East Timor rough and dusting without any asphalt along the way to capital of Maliana. Looking to the housing condition, in the west better off. One thing in common is the rice field a long the way, look green with water flowing, good irigation system, as we saw in the west.

In this writing I try not touch, not involved in political aspect of Indonesian Goverment,. but put myself personally to carry our function and fully serve our neigborgh brothers in the district of Bobonaro to finace agriculture and small businesses. These became my best memory of my life to be remembered that I ever help and assits our brothers in East Timor. That is my goal in writing this topic.
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