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Jewel in the Palace

Title: Dae Jang Geum a.k.a Jewel in the Palace

Length: 54 episodes * 60 minutes

Seo Jang Geum - Lee Young Ae (Fireworks)
Min Jung Ho - Ji Jin Hee (Love Letter)
Choi Geum Young - Hong Ri Na
Jung Jong - Lim Ho (Her House)

Dae Jang Geum is based on the story of a real historical figure, Jang Geum, a girl who overcame many obstacles while growing up as a junior cook in the royal kitchens, later becoming the royal physician, then ultimately the physician in charge of the king.

The year 1482, the palace soldier, Seo Chun-Soo, was ordered to execute the ousted Empress (Yeon-San's mother) by poison. Overcome with remorse and guilt at what he had done, he fell into a mountain valley but was luckily saved by a Taoist priest. The priest prophesised Chun Soo to lead an unfortunate life dictated by three women: the first he would kill, the second would die because of him and the third would be the cause of his death.

14 years later, the Emperor, Yeon-San succeeded the throne. Chun-Soo resigned from his position, wishing to leave this unlucky life. He rescued a dying girl, Park Myoung-yee, from the riverside and knew that this was the second girl from the prophecy.

Park Myoung-yee was a palace cook who witnessed an attempt to kill the Emperor by the other palace cooks. Upon reporting this to her superior, she was carried out during the night and upon false accusations, forced to take poison.

The two ran away together and had a daughter, Jang Geum. Since then, Chun-Soo took wife and daughter to live in a rural village among the lower classes, where they would be able to maintain a low profile. Unfortunately, in the year 1504, a political massacre occurred and the Emperor ordered all those connected to his mother's death to be killed. Little Jang Geum accidentally let slip her father's identity to the public and incidentally, the family of three was torn apart, with Jang Geum's mother being shot.

Young Jang Geum, with the loss of both parents, had no where to go. Fortunately, she was taken in by Gang Deok-Guk and his wife Geum Bo Ra, a couple who sell wine. Following her mother's dying instructions, Jang Geum successfully became a junior cook in the Soo Ra Gan (the royal kitchen).

Jang Geum's curiousity often landed her in immense trouble but she studied extremely hard and helps others in times of need. With a unique and delicate sense of taste and exceptional cooking ability, she was quickly recognized among the kitchen staff, especially by Lady Han, her master and mentor, for her talent.

During the Royal Competition to select the best Sang Gung, Lady Han fell into Choi Pan Sool and Lady Choi's plot and was unable to make it back to the palace in time. Jang Geum took her place in competing against Lady Choi. The Emperor Jung Jong was impressed and touched by Jang Geum's sincerity and motivation in her cooking and therefore announced her as the best junior cook while Lady Han was made the Imperial Attendant, the highest senior position and a much respected title.

Once Jang Geum found out Lady Han was her mother's best friend, both were so filled with emotion that no words could express their happiness at finding each other. They became closer than ever. However, with the Chois also discovering Jang Geum's real origin, their euphoria did not last long, knowing that Jang Geum was now in great danger.

With this sudden threat and her failure in the competition, Lady Choi found every opportunity to beat Lady Han and Jang Geum down.

On a trip to the spa, the Emperor fell extremely sick. Choi Pan Sool and Lady Choi framed Lady Han, blaming it on the sulphur-infected duck she cooked for the Emperor. As a result, Lady Han and Jang Geum were exiled to Jeju Island. Sadly, Lady Han died on the way.

While living as a government servant on Jeju Island (and after many attempts to run away), Jang Geum met Jang-Deok, a woman physician, and studied medicine from her. Jang Geum then re-entered the palace as a medical assistant.

Shocked at Jang Geum's return, Lady Choi continued to make life hard for her, vowing to have her kicked out of the palace. However, Jang Geum shone through with her sincerity and integrity in her medical practice. She earned the Empress' trust and faith in her by proving her outstanding medical knowledge and skills. She finally found the real reason for the Emperor's sickness and cleared both her mother and Lady Han's names.

In the palace, Jang Geum continued to intensively study and develop her medical skills, finding cures for many diseases in the process. Along the way, she treated the 'incurable' Empress Dowager, who stubbornly refused any treatments, and the prince who suffered from small pox. Though the royal physicians and medical assistants did shun Jang Geum at first, misunderstanding her actions, they soon accepted her for her knowledge and skills.

In the end, through Jang Geum's efforts, her consummate medical skills, her boundless love and immeasurable care, she became the first imperial female physician in Korean history and was thus given the name, the "Great Jang Geum" (Dae Jang Geum).


Seo Jang Geum [age 8 - 49] Lee Young Ae
An intelligent and beautiful lady whose outgoing nature and enthusiasm allow her stand out from the crowd. Ever since her parents died during a political massacre, she has suffered many hardships and obstacles, especially in the palace, but she overcomes them with strong determination and perseverance.

Being strong-willed, Jang Geum strives to reach her goal no matter what and although her character seems too good to be true, she does have her faults, as pointed out by her medical lecturer who she finds hardest to impress of all. Jang Geum can be too smart for her own good and can thus overlook simple problems, leading to mistakes that can be too big to rectify.

What sets her character apart from the usual k-drama heroines is that although she is kind-hearted, she is also human and can hate others with vengeance. One of her biggest obstacles to overcome is to rid herself of this aim as that is the reason why she wants to become a physician in the first place, in order to get back into the palace.

Though far from an easy thing to do, Jang Geum does manage to control her anger, not allowing it to motivate her into using her medical skills to harm her enemies. Instead, she uses a steady mind to bring them to justice without resorting to bribes, threats or tactless methods.

After the downfall of the Chois, she desperately seeks for her freedom outside the palace's influence where she is free to do whatever she desired without the pressure of the royalties bearing down on her and often goes out to take care of the lower class people. Through consistency, she never fails to keep improving her medical skills, always helping those in need to the best of her ability. Thus, it is with her extraordinary medical skills/knowledge and her moral to only use it for good that she becomes the first female physician for the Emperor, and named the Great Dae Jang Geum, ranking third in the officers, something that had never happened before in Chosun history.

Min Jung Ho [age 29 - 50] - Ji Jin Hee
A learned man with good looks and high intelligence, he is an outstanding scholar who combines both learning and the martial arts. Min Jung Ho is a judge of the Hang Sung Boo, a government ministry governing the affairs of the capital Hang Sung. He is saved by Jang Geum without his knowledge when he is shot. They then meet again when she goes to him to borrow books. They become romantically involved as he moves to Nae Geum Wee, the Royal Military Guard as Jong Sa Gwan, a senior officer.

Min is impressed by Jang Geum's intellectual beauty and passion for learning. He falls in love with her as he tries to help her, but puts himself in danger several times in the process. Later, he gets impeached by Sa Hun Boo, the Government Intelligence Agency and fired for his efforts to help Jang Geum after he becomes a senior official of Nae Eui Won, a government agency in charge of healthcare and drugs.

He constantly looks out for Jang Geum, always worried for her well-being and being there for her when she needs someone to lean on the most. This is demonstrated when he resigns from his position in order to follow Jang Geum to Jeju Island and stays there with her for the entire time, and then again when he breaches protocol and races back to the quarantined village when Jang Geum was tricked into staying behind. Min can be described as the perfect gentleman, one that girls often dream of but are once again disappointed by the lack of.

Choi Keum Young [age 20 - 40] - Hong Ri Na
Choi Keum-Young starts her life in the palace as the niece of the influential Lady Choi, and becomes Jang Geum's long-time rival. She is an arrogant girl burning with ambitions. Although she is with the Choi clan, she is desperate to find her own way: never really accepting the Chois' way but unable to find her own independent identity. Her intelligence and talents often put her head-to-head with Jang Geum and she desperately competes with her in order to become better than her.

However, her pride and class often clouds her judgment and she falls short of her rival. Therefore, she finds it easier to hate Jang Geum even though she secretly admires her independence and skill. Despite the social class difference, she has secretly loved Min Jung Ho since she was a little girl. When she finds out he is in love with Jang Geum instead, this only fuels her desire to hate Jang Geum more, thinking that she had taken away all that is hers. However, in the end, when Jang Geum exposes her and the Choi clan, she indirectly thankes Jang Geum for giving her freedom back. It could often be said, that under different circumstances, she and Jang Geum could be good friends but under these conditions, it's always 'what if¡­'

Jung Jong [age 20 - 60] - Lim Ho
The 11th king of the Chosun Dynasty. He is very gentle but extremely irresolute and indecisive. His kind-heartedness is demonstrated when instead of punishing Min Jung Ho for breaching protocol when he went back for Jang Geum, he sees this as an act of good faith in helping the villagers and promotes him instead. His act of compassion also allows Jang Geum to complete her dream of becoming the Imperial Attendant for a short while in order to record her mother's findings.

He is a kind man who has lost his ability to love a woman as his first wife was forced to be killed by cabinet ministers for political reasons. The Emperor deeply grieved over his beloved wife, but he had no actual power to protect her. He is constantly aware that he is only a puppet to the appointed ministers and is angered over the fact he is helpless to do anything. The Emperor gets to know Jang Geum in the midst of his aggressive efforts toward pushing for a political reform and grows fond of her for her warm personality and outstanding talents. He finds an understanding companion within her and later, for the first time in a decade, becomes attracted to her not through political tactics but by an emotional motive. However, knowing that his love could not be returned, he shows his love for Jang Geum by not making her his concubine as he doesn't want her involved in a power struggle but only asks for her to stay by his side.

Han Sang Gung - Yang Mi-Kyung
As one of Soo Ra Gan's Sang Gung, she possesses a talent in culinary art and is able to identify the source of the ingredients in a dish. Best friend to Jang Geum's mother, she often misses and regrets not being able to save her friend. She is a rigorous person who is not to be swayed from her purpose. Although obdurate in nature, she is actually very kind-hearted. Jang Geum's appearance allowed to open up and she treats her as both a strict teacher and kind mother. Unfortunately, she is caught up in Choi Sang Gung's conspiracy and during her exile to Jeju Island, befalls an unjust death.

Choi Sang Gung - Kyun Mi Ri
Choi Pan Sool's younger sister and Keum-Young's aunt. Comes from a family of high hierarchy and is to be the successor of Soo Ran Gan's Highest Sang Gung from a long bloodline. She started learning the delicacy of food at a young age. She is arrogant in nature and holds her pride above anything else. She possesses a fierce need to get what she wants and will stop at nothing until she does. She is sharp-minded and quick in action and thus is always one step ahead of plotting against Jang Geum and Han Sang Gung. Her betrayal to both sides left her with a path of loose ends which eventually lead to her demise. Her speech to Jang Geum's mother and her death are both poignant and triumphant. Her strong need for power and her strong family connections condemned her to a life of tragedy.


During its original run on MBC, Dae Jang Geum achieved an amazing 54% ratings share, the highest viewer rating in Korean television history! The rating also shot up as soon as Dae Jang Geum was broadcast in Taiwan, creating the 'Jang Geum syndrome'. Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and even Chicago followed suit.

Dae Jang Geum, the story of a single girl's journey as she overcomes many hardships and obstacles, shining through with her courage and wisdom. An emotional roller-coaster that takes viewers along for the ride. You feel the sadness in her dilemmas, the joy of her companionship with Sir Min, the anger at the Chois' attempt to sabotage her and the thrill of it all as she overcomes them with her integrity and honesty. The fifty-four episodes go by far too quickly, each an adventure of its own and creating an in-depth view of the characters and of the palace life. The affairs of the kitchen are depicted as a furious struggle to secure the highest hierarchy where it can be hard to tell friend from foe, the dealings of a family plot to sabotage those who threaten to overturn their plan, comical minor characters to ease the balance¡­ overall, a superb cast and storyline that will never fail to grab your interest.

Korean culture is displayed throughout with careful photography, costumes, sceneries, martial art choreography and scrumptious food-making as well as an educational purpose through learning about the various herbs and ailments.

The series focuses on Jang Geum's journey through life with a subplot of forbidden but chaste love (as all women in the palace belong to the Emperor and to marry anyone would be committing a serious offence resulting in death). Indeed, Jang Geum and Sir Min's love is pure and beautiful through lingering touches and embraces. Although slow in developing, their love is one of patience and commitment with no third party (saved outside admirers). Min Jung Ho's many sacrifices for Jang Geum and his neverending belief in her touches many as he willingly stays by her side no matter what, giving his unconditional love, faith, trust and life in her as well as his support and encouragement during her times of need.

There are also other characters that through time, viewers become emotionally linked to: Lady Han's last moments and death was one of sacrifice and of such injustice, that the anger at the Chois was uncontainable. There was the triumph when Jang Geum uncovered the Chois' past misdeeds. However, the death of Lady Choi was of such poignancy that for a brief moment sympathy overcomes the victory won. And there the second part of Jang Geum's journey ended, she had achieved what she had set out to do, avenging all the innocent people who had fallen in the Chois' hands.

Of course, Jang Geum would not have come as far as she did if not for the supporting characters: Yeon-saeng (Park Eun-hye) and Shinbi (Han Ji Min) as good friends of Jang Geum's, Jang Deok as her medical mentor, and her two medical teachers as well as Lady Min and Chang.
Jang Geum is a character of strong morals, never stepping down from what she believed in as demonstrated when the Empress asked for her help in 'treating' the first prince. Jang Geum maintained the fact she would only use her knowledge and skills to help others, not to harm them, even for the Empress and thus offered her own life instead.

Even in an era when the belief of male chauvinism ruled, Jang Geum stood out against all odds and finally becoming the royal doctor, a highly respected and honorable position even for men at that time. The ministers thought that giving a woman the title of royal physician, the top post of the nation's medical department, would result in shaking the society's fundamentals. Therefore, they impeached Sir Min for supporting the female royal physician, which is believed to be shaking the social order. This could be said to be the third part of Jang Geum's journey and which in my opinion, the hardest of them all: her battle against society, a fight against the traditional belief that has been placed down since the beginning of time.

While no one doubted Jang Geum's medical skills, it was thought wrong for a woman to gain such power in such a high position, it has never been heard of. Even the females were opposed to it, including the Empress Dowager, Yeon-saeng and Jang Geum's fellow colleagues, despite Jung Jong's persistence against the cabinet ministers. Jang Geum's medical teachers, whom she respects very much turned their backs on her, claiming that while it is not her fault, he will not find any cause to help her. This left Jang Geum in a very lonely position. Only Sir Min, Shinbi and Jang-Deok supported her and encouraged her to take her rightful place. As Sir Min stated, it is only when she has done this will she be able to be who she always was, and not someone who has been quashed by society's belief. Shinbi argued with the other medical women that if they had the right to play prostitutes then what is the difference in them playing a different role. Jang-Deok one the other hand, wants the respect that woman rightfully deserves. People do not trust their skills and knowledge and their biggest payment was to stay overnight.

One thing I must say I admire most about Jang Geum (among many other things) is her strong resolve to help others no matter their stature. She often goes off to the villages that others tend to avoid and treat the people there free of charge. In one episode, she even quarantined herself and other sick children away from the outside world and did not come out until she found a way to contain it. This is definitely a marking of a true doctor.

According to the 'Chosun Dynasty Chronicles', Seo Jang Geum was the first female physician to the Emperor in Chosun history. Unfortunately, not much is found regarding this legendary figure in the annals.

In another book, a medical record, described Jang Geum in more detail. In 250 words, it mentioned her study and research in acupuncture and medical delicacy.

*Note: I would just like to point out that the next section was written in old Chinese language (much like Shakespearean language). I roughly translated it as best as I could.

'Further records of the female physician, Jang Geum, have been lost and thus can not be checked upon. The 11th emperor, Jung Jong, bestowed upon her the name 'Jang Geum'­ Ever since the beginning, no medical women was permitted to check on the emperor; however, Jang Geum was an exception as he recognized her skill as a doctor and her unique talent in making medicine into a delicacy (by combining it into everyday food so to make it easier to consume)¡­ In the after event, a scholar wrote a poem: The first imperial female physician in history. She was initially (a type of) textile maker and succeeded in becoming a female physician. In order to safeguard her medical profession, the imperial family honoured her with the name Dae Jang Gum and became a female hero, and the only imperial female physician to date.'

Though very laconic, these two accounts prove that there is indeed such a person as Seo Jang Geum. The very ill Jung Jong trusted Jang Gum and allowed her to make the diagnosis and prescription (something females were not allowed to do), and even rewarded her for her skill. Unfortunately, even the best physician cannot overcome age and time. It was said that after Jung Jong passed away, Jang Geum was exiled to China. Only when the empress came into power and regained Jang Geum's status, did she continue to serve the imperial family until she died of sickness in 1566.

Jang Geum is Chosun's history's most unique and remarkable woman. Her consummate medical skill enabled her to adjust the taste of the herbs and medicine to incorporate into everyday food. Even today, Jang Geum's form of acupuncture and secret recipe remain in Korea to undergo further research into its extensive possibilities in the medical world.

It can be assumed that most of the scenes in the Korean drama are fabricated to catch our attention (and it has done so very well). Nowhere in the records does it state she was a royal cook, though her cooking skill must have been of high standard to make the herbs and medicine more pleasantly edible. It is not very likely that such a character as Min Jung Ho existed, or if he did, he would not be romantically involved with Jang Geum as that is an offence at its highest.

Delightfully entertaining with a great plot that will have you glued to the screen, stunning scenes and costumes, wonderful performances as well as a beautiful soundtrack, can you blame 'Jang Geum' for being the highest rated show of 2003?

Although Jang Geum's history still remain shrouded in mystery, the TV drama has bought to life the heart of Korean culture and lifestyle.

Intel: Menguak Tabir Dunia Intelijen Indonesia

resensi buku

24 Agustus 2007, 19:14:09, Laporan Iping Supingah

Rahasia Dibalik Intelijen Indonesia

suarasurabaya.net| Judul buku : Intel: Menguak Tabir Dunia Intelijen Indonesia
Penulis : Ken Conboy
Halaman : xiv + 294 halaman
Penerbit : Pustaka Primatama, 2007

Badan Intelijen Indonesia (BIN), telah ada jauh sebelum perang melawan teroris. Di buku yang ditulis KEN COBOY Country Manager dari Risk Management Advisory, sebuah perusahaan konsultan keamanan di Jakarta ini, pertama kalinya membuka kisah lengkap tentang BIN, serta operasi-operasi intelijen yang dilakukan selama ini dan badan-badan pendahulunya (hal x).

Dalam sejarahnya BIN mengalami pasang surut seiring dengan perubahan rezim. Runtuhnya rezim Orde Lama dan perubahan rezim ke Orde Baru menamatkan riwayat Badan Pusat Intelijen (BPI) yang dibentuk pada 10 November 1959. Rezim baru menata badan intelijen dan melakukan sejumah pembersihan.

Pada 22 Agustus 1966, SOEHARTO membentuk badan intelijen strategis yang dinamakan Komando Intelijen Negara (KIN). KIN bukanlah satu-satunya unit intelijen yang mendapatkan momentum pada masa-masa awal SOEHARTO berkuasa. Meski sudah ada KIN, SOEHARTO masih mempertahankan unit Operasi Khusus (Opsus) yang diketuai ALI MOERTOPO, meski saat itu juga ia diangkat mengepalai unit intelijen luar negeri KIN (hal 43).

Ada hal yang menarik dari kiprah Opsus. Ternyata intelijen Indonesia sudah memanfaatkan perusahaan penerbangan Garuda Indonesia untuk operasi intelijen sejak tahun 1960-an. Agen-agen lapangan Opsus ini menyamar sebagai eksekutif penerangan Garuda yang bertugas di Bangkok dan Hongkong. Tujuan operasi ini adalah untuk menyerang Malaysia dari arah tidak terduga, walaupun kemudian setelah mencoba selama lebih dari setahun operasi ini tidak menunjukkan hasil (hal 44).

Operasi intelijen dalam buku ini disusun KEN COBOY berdasarkan wawancara langsung dengan para pejabat intelijen, serta dilengkapi berkas-berkas arsip yang diperoleh langsung dari sumbernya.

Dalam buku ini juga disertai foto-foto, termasuk rencana pengeboman yang ditulis salah seorang teroris yang tertangkap. Dengan mambaca buku ini akan membuka wawasan pembaca tentang dunia intelijen Indonesia.

Buku ini juga mengungkap tuntas berbagai kasus dan latarbelakangnya dari pelatihan agen intel pertama hingga Komando Jihad, juga penyusupan Al Qaeda di Indonesia, serta siapa yang memulai kasus Poso? Inilah pentingnya kehadiran buku ini untuk menguak tabir dunia intelijen Indonesia. Karena selama ini hanya buku tentang CIA, M16, Mossad, atau KGB yang sudah beredar di Indonesia.(ipg)


Bijaklah dalam menilai, memang, membuat kesimpulan atas suatu pandangan itu tak mudah, banyak pihak mengkaitkan bahkan menjadikan Sang Avatar Sri Satya Sai Baba-sebagai salah satu dari 30 Dajjal asal Khurasan sebelum datangnya Al Masiihuddajjal. Benarkah penilaian itu? Bukankah beliau adalah Penyantun untuk orang lemah? BACA KITAABUL FITAN dengan secara manqul, musnad, mutashil. Insya Allah anda akan mendapat tuntunan Yang Maha Kuasa sehingga tak terburu-buru membuat kesimpulan : menyalahkan atau membenarkan bahwa ia salah satu Dajjal. Bukankah begitu Swami?

A Guru Accused
Sai Baba, from Avatar to Homo-paedophile
Alexandra H.M. Nagel
The Netherlands, August 2001
Email: xnagel@yahoo.com
For at least a year, especially on the Internet, the Indian guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba has been accused of major misdeeds. Most accusations are not new to many devotees. However, stories that in the past were rejected as unimportant gossip are by many no longer denied. Quite a few devotees have become ex-devotees in the last 15 months or so. Nevertheless, many others keep their faith in their Swami, regardless of how difficult that may be at times.
In order to gain a broader, meaningful understanding of Sai Baba and the accusations, it is necessary that people outside the (ex-)devotee community, join the investigation(s). Currently, the perspectives of devotees and former devotees differ too much to come to an agreement on how to deal with the matter.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, a famous Indian guru, is known by many through his appearance – five feet in height, a voluminous hair-do – and his materialisations. Out of thin air he seems to create vibuthi, (‘sacred ash’), rings, watches, necklaces. “Miracles are my visiting cards,” is his often quoted explanation for these phenomena.
Sai Baba resides most of the time in his ashram, Prasanthi Nilayam (‘Abode of Peace’), 150 km northeast of Bangalore, initially built between 1948-1950 and since greatly extended. Over the years, the surrounding village has grown into a flourishing town, with an airstrip, museum, music academy, canteens and buildings for the many devotees who make their pilgrimage to Baba to receive his darshan, (‘seeing a great person and receive his or her blessing’). A second ashram is Brindavan in Whitefield, 20 km north-west of Bangalore. A third temporary residence is in Kodaikanal, at an altitude of 2,100 meters, 120 km north-east of Madurai.
It is said that his followers number up to 50 million, or even more, and are spread over 2,650 centres and groups in 165 countries (Figure 1), even though he has travelled abroad only once, in 1968, to Uganda. According to his principal biographer, Narayan Kasturi, Sai Baba began his mission in 1940 at the age of 14.
One of the issues known to be of importance to Sai Baba is education. Approximately 75 boys’ & girls’ schools in India and abroad carrying his name have been founded, and there are Sai Baba colleges and universities run by the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Healthcare is another issue promoted in Sai Baba’s name. With the support of donations two Super Specialty Hospitals have been built and give free medical treatment. Fresh water projects are a third type of large initiatives taken by his organisation to help those in need.
His teachings can be summarised in a few of words, epitomising five human values: truth, right conduct, peace, love and non-violence. These words, or the icons of five major religions on earth, are imprinted on the leaves of the lotus symbol of the organisation (Figure 2). Sai Baba says he has not incarnated to start a new religion, but is here for all religions, and he has come to guide mankind out of the Kali Yuga era, in which humanity is living at this time. This period is characterised by decay, betrayal, and selfishness. He, Sai Baba, claims to be a living example of unselfish love and service, whose purpose is to help mankind to find its way to a new golden era where our consciousness is lifted to a higher level, to a closer connection with God and selflessness. Love is the fuel for our spiritual evolution. In other words, Sai Baba is a guru for everyone who is drawn to him, independent of his or her religion. According to many of his devotees, he is the embodiment of the long expected second Messiah; he is the new Maitreya, Buddha, or Krishna. According to himself he is a divine incarnation, God in human form, an avatar.
Seen from the perspective of all his good deeds, and the inspiration people receive through him, it is of no surprise that over the years hundreds of books have been written and many videos made about Sai Baba. Also several academic studies have surveyed diverse aspects of the holy man and his devotees. The miraculous ‘materialisations’, for instance, have been thoroughly investigated by Erlendur Haraldsson; social research has been carried out in England (Donald Taylor), India (Lawrence Babb), Malaysia (Raymond Lee) and Trinidad (Morton Klass); an in-depth study on Sai Baba’s claim to be an incarnation of Shiva has been conducted by Deborah Swallow. All of these show intriguing, yet sometimes puzzling insights into the amazing godman Sri Sathya Sai Baba and the people inspired by him. It leads George Chryssides in Exploring New Religions to remark:
It is perhaps surprising that Sai Baba attracts so little attention from anti-cult organisations, since the movement possesses a considerable number of characteristics that are associated with the notion of ‘cult’ in its sociological senses. (…) Sai Baba’s relative immunity from criticism has no doubt been due in part to the fact that (…) Sai Baba has never been involved in any sexual or financial scandal, but has lived true to his teachings. The only major controversy generated by the movement relates to the miracles themselves. Sai Baba has been criticised by the Indian Rationalist Association as one of India’s many spurious miracle workers, preying on the superstition of an inadequately educated Indian population.
However, the purpose of this paper is to present an alternative picture because there is more than only the ‘major controversy relating to the miracles’ Chryssides has observed. Disturbing data has been surfacing for at least 30 years, but mainly last year, the year 2000, when especially due to the Internet, troubling stories and experiences have been revealed. And even this might just be the tip of the iceberg.
The information collected for this paper is the outcome of research from a variety of sources: books and articles, frequent surfing on the Internet from June 2000 till February 2001, and communications with several former devotees, some of whom are very active in their efforts to bring this unknown side of Sai Baba to light. The Internet developments are covered in another paper.
In an order of increasing seriousness a series of different accusations levelled at Sathya Sai Baba are presented. This is followed by a description of how devotees and ex-devotees look upon and deal with these issues. There must still be many devotees all over the world ignorant of some of the serious accusations, but those who do know them and still retain their faith in the guru have a different perspective on them compared to the views held by relatively recent ex-devotees.
Sai Baba Accused
The critical comments and accusations concerning Sai Baba have come from two angles: the sceptic-rationalists – as Chryssides noticed – and the (ex-)devotees. The first focus primarily on Sai Baba’s paranormal, psychic and supernatural claims, the second on a variety of issues.
· unkept promises
After his retirement of the foreign service in foreign European countries, in 1970 Mr N.C. Gunpuley donated seven acres of land to Sathya Sai Baba. He desired to serve the sick and poor in his own country, and Sai Baba had promised to take over the charitable dispensary and the property to build a 30-bed hospital on the property. For five years, Mr Gunpuley experienced a long series of disappointments and frustration. Sai Baba “neither kept his promises, nor showed any concern for the sick and the poor”, and at one point he even wanted to build huts for the foreign devotees instead.
A similar reported case is that of the family Premanand. In September 1969, Dr P.B. Menon of the Sri Sathya Sai Trust visited the 100 acres Shri Shaila Estate in Kerala. This belonged to the family Premanand, who intended to donate the property to an organisation that would use it for starting colleges, homes for the handicapped, or institutions for scientific research. Mr Menon agreed to study the offer of taking over the land for starting a college, but the final decision was in the hands of Sathya Sai Baba. Over the months developments led to trust that the matter would settle, but on January 24th 1970 it emerged that Sai Baba had cancelled all Kerala programmes, implying that the Sai Trust would not accept the gift. When Premanand senior went to Sai Baba a week later, Sai Baba said to him that he knew nothing about the Shri Shaila Estate. This was strange since Sai Baba had seen three albums of photographs, and had invited the family to visit him to settle the donation officially. In spite of the fact that in March 1975 90 acres were handed over to the Trust and eventually a Sathya Sai college got established on the property, ever since the cancellation of the promise in 1970, the two brothers Basava and Dayanand Premanand have been extremely critical regarding Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s (mis-)deeds.
· unproven paranormal claims
The late Dr Abraham T. Kovoor from India was a rationalist by conviction and, it is said, in 1972 at the age of 74 awarded a doctor degree for research done in the field of parapsychology by the private Minnesota Institute of Philosophy. In the mid-70s, he was instrumental in getting the Narasimhaiah Committee to attempt to investigate Sai Baba’s miracles under controlled conditions. Neither the Committee nor Kovoor himself were ever given permission to do such research, which led them to issuing public questions like ‘Why does Sai Baba never create a large object like a pumpkin?’
Although Erlendur Haraldsson, unlike Kovoor and the Committee, was welcomed in the ashram and had interviews with Sai Baba, he had no real opportunities for controlled observations, and after years of research could neither prove nor disprove with certainty Sai Baba’s supernatural claims. Dale Beyerstein, a sceptic philosopher from Canada, undertook a different approach. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, he collected texts referring to Sai Baba’s claims of being omnipotent and omniscient, of having resurrected two persons from death, performing paranormal healings, materialising small objects, and fulfilling ancient prophecies. Beyerstein’s conclusion: The stories of a person promoting such claims need extraordinary proof, a standard that simply has not been met.
· sleight of hand
In 1992, the late professor of Psychology, Piet Vroon, of the Netherlands, was invited to join a television crew that had permission to film in the ashram for a documentary on Sathya Sai Baba. Vroon observed (from a distance, with the aid of binoculars) Sai Baba’s ‘materialisations’ of vibuthi to be acts of sleight of hand, and he wrote fiercely about it in some of his weekly columns in a Dutch national newspaper.
Two years later, a video appeared containing a fragment of an Indian TV news item allegedly showing how Sai Baba had not ‘created’ a golden necklace, but performed a trick. This charge was believed by many, although Professor Haraldsson was not convinced. Nowadays on the Internet a few videos of ‘Sai materialisations’ are available; allowing people to judge whether at least in some of these particular cases sleight of hand has been involved. In addition, there are some persons claiming to be able to perform the same miracles, but, more disturbingly, there are confessions of former Sai Baba students explaining for instance how some of them, acting on instructions, prepare Sai Baba’s chair in the interview room by ‘planting’ jewellery and trinkets.
· murders
On June 6th, 1993 four former Sai students, E.K. Suresh Kumar (28), N. Jagannathan, Suresh Prabhu (37?) and K. Sairam (22), went armed with knives to Sai Baba’s chambers. On their way they stabbed four people, two of them to death: N. Radhakrisha (45), Baba’s personal assistant and driver, Sai Kumar Mahajan, an MBA student (or lecturer?) who slept in a room adjacent to Baba’s bedroom. In one scenario it is said that the four intended to kill Sai Baba, in another they were on their way to inform him they had received reliable information concerning an attempt to kidnap him. When the four forced their way into Sai Baba’s bedroom, and didn’t find Sai Baba there – he had pushed the button of the alarm and gone into the garage – they locked themselves in. According to the Sai Organisation officials the former students were shot by the police after interrogation; according to Hari Sampath, who at the time was a volunteer member of the intelligence and security section of the ashram, they were stabbed to death by a crowd of about 60 people, and then shot by the police. Photographs showing bodies in pools of blood were in many regional newspapers. Until today it is still unclear what the real motive of the four intruders was; the case was never officially investigated.
There are other stories dealing with murder in the ashram. However, they are even less clear cut and even more mystifying than the 1993 ones.
· being a homosexual
Sexuality in Sai Baba’s teachings comes across as a force that takes away a devotee’s focus on his/her spiritual growth, and ought to be mainly used for pro-creation. Males and females are rigidly separated in the ashram life, and only married couples are allowed to share rooms. For a long time – the last few years this has changed – Sai Baba invited only male devotees for a ‘private interview’, a meeting in which a person is alone with Sai Baba. He never called in a woman alone, because, as he once explained, even though he is “above and beyond the Human Attributes”, he has to regulate “social behaviour” and be “above the slightest tinge of suspicion, or of small talk”. Rumours, and more than rumours have come out nonetheless. Not from women, but from men.
The first person to write about this was the American Tal Brooke, who stayed with Sai Baba for a year and a half during 1970-1971. Sai Baba had hugged him in private interviews, and, with his hand, tried to get Brooke aroused. Around 1980 there was uproar in Malaysia:
(…) some members have begun a quiet campaign to discredit Sai Baba after they had conducted personal investigations of his life-style and behaviour.13 This campaign to expose Sai Baba comprises mainly taped revelations by several Malaysian Indian students who claimed that they had been sexually abused by Sai Baba. (…)
Note 13 [referred to in this excerpt]. Two of my informants told me that they had journeyed to India and had taped interviews with several Malaysian Indians (males) who claimed that they had been seduced by Sai Baba while studying at one of the many colleges established by him.
In January 1992, the sexual issue began to be discussed among devotees in Holland, when the story of Baba’s hugging and genital fondling Keith Ord (UK) during his private interviews in the Spring of 1990, came out in a national weekly magazine. A group of American male devotees, under leadership of Roger Delano Hinkins, the founder of the Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, was invited in for interview. “The five-minute private ceremony involved “anointing the genitalia with ‘bachelor oil’”.
Last year, more of this kind of stories have surfaced. Based on information found on the Internet and in the literature, a list of at least twenty cases can be compiled (see Table 1) in which male devotees had to drop their pants, and either their genitals were ‘massaged’ (not always with sexual arousal taking place), or Sai Baba hugged and fondled them, and even forced them to accept or give oral gratification. The people investigating these confessions, among them David and Faye Bailey, authors of The Findings, a document that compiled a variety of accusations mainly taken from the Internet, were forced to conclude that this practice of Sai Baba’s must have been taking place for at least 30 years and been happening to male devotees from many countries.
· being a paedophile
Similar encounters which (young) men have had with Sai Baba have also been experienced with minors. Undeniable testimonies come from a boy aged fifteen, and from ‘Sam Young’, at the time sixteen (see also Table 1). Even more alarming is a letter Basava Premanand received in December 1998, written by one of the students at a Sai Baba school in Puttaparthi. The student explained in detail how some teachers make sure that the good-looking, young boys (age seven and up), are in front when coming for darshan. If a boy pleases Sai Baba, ‘Babaji’ offers him an invitation.
This is the story of life in [the] Sri Sathya Sai Hostel for Boys. (…) The Principal of the Primary school Mrs. Munni Kaul knows it only too well that her survival there purely depends on sending in the front good-looking, usually fair and sometimes girlish boys, because as is well known Baba Ji has a weakness for such boys. These are the innocent boys you see, who are forced to come in the front, on some pretext or the other, holding cards, trays etc. This in itself is nothing serious, but what follow[s] later is.
These young, good-looking boys who are generally not even in their teens are for some time closely watched by Babaji. Later some day these small boys are called for personal interview. What happens to these tiny tots in the interview room is known to many but all keep mum because their very survival depends on it. These small boys are taken one by one in the inner interview room behind the curtain by Babaji. For some time he fondles them and then suddenly he opens their zippers and pulls down their pants and underpants. Now Babaji massages and fondles the sex organs of the small boys, who know nothing and take it as some form of spirituality. Babaji generally hugs and kisses the boys while they are stark naked, then sends them back. This is in itself a traumatic and sickening experience for a boy of about 5th of 6th standard. Then there are certain advantages too, these boys are labelled as FORM BOYS and are kept in the forefront by the Headmistress, who actually is well aware of the fate of these young ones. These boys generally get chains, rings and watches from Babaji as special blessings or in a worldly sense, the ‘payment’ for ‘selling’ their bodies without their knowledge.
The apparent abuse does not stop at the primary school. The author of the letter stated that it continues with college boys. He even mentioned a teacher who, abused himself by Baba, had become sexually interested in boys as well and got away with his activities. Premanand – following up on this letter, out of the several on the subject he had received – sent a registered letter on December 9th, 1998, to the Vice Chancellor of the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning asking for permission to investigate the truth concerning the content of the letter. No answer followed, and Premanand decided to publish the letter in the Indian Skeptic of August 1999. Having read it in July 2000, ex-devotee David Bailey knew it to be true. He remembered the teacher referred to, and had always wondered what could take place with those little ones who entered Sai Baba’s quarters and looked sad and timid when they emerged.
· being the devil
On her spiritual quest, Barbara Szandorowska, a Polish Canadian, travelled worldwide and arrived in Puttaparthi to become a Sai Baba devotee. One day, in November 1981, a feeling of great inertia came over her (no drugs were involved). When the sensation in her body eventually ended, she felt different, even though her image in the mirror looked the same as always. Then:
Suddenly an image of Sai Baba’s face loomed in front of me. (…) It was dark and fearsome and glowed like an ember.
‘Ha, ha, ha,’ he laughed hideously, ‘You’ve surrendered to the devil!’
The voice had come from within and Szandorowska understood that Sai Baba was allied with evil forces. He had revealed himself to her as the devil. She converted to Christianity and, months later, back in Canada, after an assistant of evangelist Michael Green, had laid hands on her and said a short prayer, a weight was lifted from her shoulders. She felt free at last: Christ has authority over demons and Sai Baba was finally gone.
In a similar manner Tal Brooke, who was the first to write about Sai Baba’s homosexual deeds, experienced Sai Baba as an evil entity and turned to Christianity.
Assessing the Accusations
The first type of accusations listed above is a type well known among devotees. There are many more examples of Baba’s unkept promises, like interviews or pieces of jewellery that would be given, or trips he would make to the United States. Devotees didn’t get the interview, and were given a bracelet instead of a watch, or weren’t given anything at all. And except for his trip to Africa once, Sai Baba has never travelled abroad. There are plenty more issues talked about among devotees which could be labelled as ‘accusations’. At times Sai Baba makes inaccurate or contradictory statements. He advises a satvic (balanced, healthy) diet but the canteens in the ashram don’t serve these. No donations are requested, yet every three months a mailing of the Sri Sai Padhuka Trust goes out to hundreds of devotees, informing them that those who would like to can contribute. And why would Sai Baba need a security guard if he is above all things? Such issues are usually explained away as being part of Sai Baba’s leela, his ‘divine play’. They contain teachings; the devotees can learn through them; they are being tested in their faith in Swami. What it finally comes down to is to trust him, Sai Baba, God incarnated, Love embodied. This is the core belief of many Baba devotees. All else in the end does not matter to them.

An identical type of reasoning is used by devotees for Sai Baba’s unproven paranormal claims and even for the proven tricks of sleight of hand. Sai Baba is testing. Do the devotees believe (in) him for his miracles, or for his teachings, the love he radiates, or the personal relationship each and every devotee can experience with him? Is faith shattered by trickery and fraud? Often faith has deepened when a devotee, shaken after having witnessed an action of sleight of hand, has been able to come to terms with it. Besides, the fact that no definite conclusions could be drawn from the research carried out by Haraldsson, and even the convincing conclusion of Beyerstein, do not prove that all miracle stories are untrue. Devotees do have their own instances of proof that Sai Baba is the one they believe him to be. There are dreams and mystical visions in which Baba has convincingly appeared; small piles of vibuthi have been found at places where no one has dropped it. Also, for many devotees, there have been these incredible coincidences when a prayer to Swami got answered in some miraculous manner.
The last type of accusation, that of Sai Baba being the devil, depending on the angle it is looked upon, is either an easy or a difficult one to judge. Does something like a devil exist or not? One’s answer to this question colours how one views Szandorowska’s experience. It might be true that Sai Baba has allied himself with evil forces (or is the embodiment of Satan), or it might be a psychological phenomenon that happened in her particular vision. Her belief in Jesus being the ultimate Saviour may have caused the train of thought that Sai Baba is to be feared. Believing in some psychological construct may lead to alternative avenues of explanation. It goes beyond the scope of this article to go further into this aspect – which leaves us to deal with the homo-paedophile accusations.
It has been, and still is believed by some devotees, and by the (young) men who experienced Sai Baba’s massaging, hugging, fondling, etcetera, that through these very acts Baba has bestowed a favour upon the devotee: purifying or initiating the devotee. The belief relates to the so called ‘kundalini explanation’. Stemming from Indian esoteric teachings is the knowledge that each human body carries within a spiritual energy. Coiled up and dormant, this divine energy, the kundalini, lies in the first chakra, an energy centre named muladhara, near the base of the spine. Upon awakening, the kundalini energy moves like a snake upward through the other chakras until it reaches the sahasrara, the chakra at the top of the head. At that moment, one experiences enlightenment. Micro and macro cosmos merge, become one; Godhood is attained. A guru can initiate the kundalini’s awakening and one method of doing so, for males, is by touching a particular spot between the testicles and the anus. Some devotees alter this explanation a bit and think that Sai Baba is helping the devotee to overcome overheated sexual drives, and maintain easier focused on the spiritual path.
The kundalini explanation does make sense in the cases where no sexual arousal was involved. It does not make sense when the massaging of genitals, kissing on the mouth, and oral contact took place. It is exactly at this point where some devotees who have tried to understand the private sexual encounters switch from the devotee’s perspective to the ex-devotee’s. The shock intensifies when hearing or reading about Sai Baba’s apparent activities with male minors. Once the shift is made, automatically all other accusations heap up to form piles of evidence that Sai Baba is a fraud, a crook, a liar, a charlatan, murderer, and ultimately a homo-paedophile. Sai Baba simply does not seem to live up to his own teachings.
There still are many devotees unaware of the evidence that surfaced last year. According to ex-devotees, such people ought to be warned because they consider it their duty to prevent more adolescent devotees getting caught in Sai Baba’s trap. Ex-devotees maintain that the case has to be investigated by the legal authorities in our society, and Sai Baba has to be brought to court.
Devotees aware of the homo-paedo accusations are aware in different degrees. Some know by hearsay and do not want to delve into it further because it is judged as negative energy and they prefer to focus on the positive. Others go deeper, and criticise much of the exposé material, at times rightly so. For example, Tal Brooke, a conservative evangelical Christian, and Basava Premanand, a sceptic rationalist, are so strong in their convictions that they seem to have pushed themselves to the extreme and people may not take their points seriously any more. Devotees looking a bit further merely seem to rationalise the accusations away. Sai Baba is God, God’s roads are inexplicable, so just keep faith that All is Well and that it is His Divine Play. Perhaps this is done out of unconscious fear as to what might psychologically happen if their beloved guru turns out to be a first rank criminal.
Devotees, having become ex-devotees, have to cope with tremendous grief, through the psychological loss of Sai Baba, and emotional hurt, due to what is sometimes viewed as spiritual rape. In addition to this, there is the fact that some officials of the Sai Organisation have known about Sai Baba’s sexual ‘misconduct’, but have not informed the devotees. Why would such information have been ignored, or worse, covered up for decades? The anger and frustration of these ex-devotees make it difficult for them to communicate with people still being Sai devotees.
Further Investigation
As explained above, the perspectives of the devotees and ex-devotees are so strongly opposed to one another that it seems impossible to find a common ground to investigate the accusations within the Sai Baba movement itself. Since the homo-paedophile accusations are too serious for society in general to be ignored, it will be absolutely necessary that a third group of people joins in the debate. Yet, even then problems are to be anticipated.
Since the belief that Sai Baba is an avatar, God personified in a human body, is unfamiliar for an outsider, a non-devotee, it will be difficult for the latter to get an understanding of the perspective of a Sai devotee. The devotees have motives for their belief, and these ought to be taken into account as well.
Can Sathya Sai Baba be considered a fellow human being and be judged accordingly? Will justice be done if only the accusations are taken into account? Could the hundreds, or thousands, or perhaps millions of people who have benefited in a variety of ways from his existence, simply be ignorant and easily fooled spiritual seekers? What is it about this tiny, orange-robed figure whose message was spread worldwide, that justifies him getting away with what western society in general condemns as sexual crimes? If it is some kind of teaching he is bringing mankind, or the individual devotee, what exactly might this teaching consist of? Should we search for a sociological or psychological pattern among the victims before filing a complaint? Is Sai Baba a case of his own, or are there similar cases? (Probably not on his scale, but comparable nonetheless.) Are we willing to look into the so far uninvestigated miracle stories, or are we assuming all of them to be fake? Should we as a society look at ourselves first before crucifying him? Have we as a society failed so badly to find meaning in our human existence that masses of people flocked to India to get blessed by some guru? Could this be Sai Baba’s teaching to humanity? When taking full notice of the accusations against this Swami, would we as a society be willing to consider such questions, or will we immediately judge him as a criminal who belongs in jail?
Final Remark
The variety of accusations briefly mentioned in this paper may come across as unbalanced. Yet they have lingered within society – mainly among ex-devotees – for quite some time. Now that more of the sexual encounters with Sai Baba are being confessed more openly by some men, and because of the increasing upheaval that has arisen from these disclosures, it seems important to investigate all of the accusations thoroughly. In order to get an understanding of who or what Sri Sathya Sai Baba from Puttaparthi is, it will also be important to include the full range of miracles ascribed to Sai Baba in the voluminous literature.
If Basava Premanand had not launched his Indian Skeptic a lot of the critical Sai Baba-material might still be floating around isolated. If Tal Brooke had not introduced his personal sexual encounters with Sai Baba in his Avatar of Night, others having experienced similar encounters would not have had an anchor reference point. Even though I do not agree with their conclusions about Sai Baba, I acknowledge their pioneering efforts in search of the truth.
Thanks to Brian Steel for help with my English grammar.

Figure 1. Diagram of Sathya Sai Baba Organisation, worked out for local level in the Netherlands & Belgium (based on information found on http://www.sathyasai.org/, and Op de Hoogte, the newsbulletin for the registered Sai devotees of the Sai Baba Organisation of the Netherlands, October 2000).

Figure 2a. Logo of the Sathya Sai Baba Organisation having six different symbols for some major religions in its lotus leaves. In this particular logo the Hindu Om, Buddhist wheel, Zoroastrian fire, Islamic crescent and star, Christian cross, and (although not always added in India), the six-pointed Jewish star of David.
Figure 2b. Logo of the Sathya Sai Baba Organisation with the names of the five human values in its lotus leaves. Sometimes the Sanskrit words are used instead of the English ones: sathya for truth, dharma for right conduct, shanthi for peace, prema for love and ahimsa for non-violence.

Table 1. List of names of persons whose testimonies regarding Sai Baba’s sexual advances have been out in the regular media and/or on the Internet (see for instance http://www.exbaba.com/)


1st hand stories: sexual contact with SaiBaba
Tal Brooke
Stayed in the ashram during 1970-1971 and had several private interviews
Conny Larsson
Had many private interviews between 1978-1983 and his three open letters to Sai Baba asking Baba for an explanation are on Internet
Keith Ord
One group interview and two private interviews in Spring 1990
Said Khoramshagol
Seven private interviews in 1991, 1993; info on Internet
Jens Sethi
Private interview in 1996; info in The Findings
Hans de Kraker
Australia / Netherlands
Several private interviews in 1996; info in The Findings
‘Sam Young’
Many private interviews between 1995-1998
‘15-year old’
Took down precise notes of his two private interviews in September 1999, which were hand copied, xeroxed and distributed with an accompanying letter to many devotees in April-May 2000

2nd hand stories: sexual contact with SB
Dr N. Bhatia
Was head of the bloodbank in Sai Hospital during 1993-1999, and admitted to have had a sexual relationship with Sai Baba for sixteen years; info in The Findings
Malaysian Indian students
These students must have had interviews around 1979-1980
Attended a Sai Baba school in Puttaparthi and had interviews between 1977-1980. The American Sai Organisation was informed about it.
‘23-year old’
Had an interview in 1986 which was attended by Conny Larsson; committed suicide a few years later; info on Internet
Michael Pender
A friend of Keith Ord, who committed suicide in Jan 1990 after many private interviews between May-Nov 1989; info on Internet
‘Golden Boy’ X
Eight private interviews in December 1998-January 1999, two in June 1999; Conny Larsson went with him; info on Internet
Indian students
Several letters of a students of Sai Baba schools in India confess Sai Baba’s sexual abuse

1st and 2nd hand stories: ‘massage’ of genitals only
Letter from a concerned mother about her son’s experiences in a private interview in 1988; info on Internet
Jed Geyerhahn
Four private interviews in 1989; info on Internet
Matthijs van der Meer
One private interview in 1990; wrote an article about his quest in 2000
David Paul ‘dpmeg’
Two private interviews in 1990; info on Internet
Marc-André St-Jean
Three private interviews in 1992; info on Internet
John-Roger Hinkins followers
Private interview(s).
Steel, Brian The Sathya Sai Baba Compendium. A Guide to the First Seventy Years, York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser Inc., 1997. The following informative, journalistic study is recommended: Brown, Mick The Spiritual Tourist. A Personal Odyssey Through the Outer Reaches of Belief, London: Bloomsbury, 1998:25-94.
Babb, Lawrence A. “Sathya Sai Baba’s Magic”, in Anthropological Quarterly, 56(3), 1983:116-124; Id. “Sathya Sai Baba’s Saintly Play”, in Saints and Virtues, John Stratton Hawley (ed.), Berkeley, CA: California University Press, 1987:168-186; Haraldsson, Erlendur Miracles are my Visiting Card. An Investigative Inquiry on Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian Mystic with the Gift of Foresight Believed to Perform Modern Miracles, Prasanthi Nilayam, India: Sai Towers Publishing, 1998 (1987); Haraldsson, Erlendur & Karl Osis “The Appearance and Disappearance of Objects in the Presence of Sri Sathya Sai Baba”, in The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 71, 1977:33-43; Klass, Morton Singing with Sai Baba. The Politics of Revitalization in Trinidad, Boulder: WestView Press, 1991; Lee, Raymond L.M. “Sai Baba, Salvation and Syncretism: Religious Change in a Hindu Movement in Urban Malaysia”, in Contributions to Indian Sociology (NS), 16(1), 1982:125-140; Sharma, Arvind “New Hindu Religious Movements in India” in New Religious Movements and Rapid Social Change, James A. Beckford (ed.), Unesco: Sage Publications, 1991 (1986):220-239; Swallow, D. A. “Ashes and Powers: Myth, Rite and Miracle in an Indian God-man’s Cult”, in Modern Asian Studies, 16(1), 1982:123-158; Taylor, Donald “Charismatic Authority in the Sathya Sai Baba Movement”, in Hinduism in Great Britain, Richard Burghart (ed.), London, New York: Tavistock Publications, 1987:119-133; Thomas, Caroline M. “God Men, Myths, Materializations and the Kalas of Immortality”, in Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 55(816):377-403, 1989.
Although mainly on Shirdi Sai Baba, of interest is White, Charles S.J. “The Sai Baba Movement: Approaches to the Study of Indian Saints”, in Journal of Asian Studies, 31(4), 1972:863-878.
Chryssides George D. Exploring New Religions, London/New York: Cassell, 1999:179-192, quote on p. 180.
Nagel, Alexandra H.M. “De Neergang van een goeroe door het internet. Sai Baba, van avatar tot homo-pedofiel” [The downfall of a guru through the Internet. Sai Baba: from avatar to homo-paedophile], unpublished paper in Dutch for the course ‘Religious sociology and psychology: new religious movements’ of the Educational Institute Theology and Religion studies, University of Amsterdam, January 2001, 35 pages. In preparation: Id. “For and Against Sathya Sai Baba on the Internet”.
Mangalwadi, Vishal The World of Gurus, New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1977:158. In the same book on page 164, there is a letter to the Editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India, December 28, 1975, which reads:
A suit was filed in 1973 in the Civil Judge’s Court, Bangalore district, against Sathya Sai Baba for recovering from him a sum of Rs 94,800. After one year’s litigation the case was withdrawn on September 1974.
It is to be noted that Sathya Sai Baba talks of Dharma and non-attachment but owns extensive immovable properties in many parts of India, owns posh cars, lives in style and, as the said court proceedings have revealed, indulges in business dealings amounting to lakhs of rupees.



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Bapepam-LK Belum Sentuh Grey Area

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“Sulit bagi kita untuk mengungkap kasus penipuan berkedok investasi yang dilakukan lembaga non bank”. Itulah jawaban Ketua Badan Pengawas Pasar Modal dan Lembaga Keuangan (Bapepam-LK) Fuad Rahmany saat menjawab pertanyaan seorang investor swasta. Dialog tanya jawab itu terjadi pada Seminar bertajuk 'Menggerakan Perekonomian Nasional dengan Berinvestasi di Pasar Modal Indonesia' pada Indonesia Investor Forum 2, di Jakarta Convention Centre, Senayan, Jakarta, Selasa (29/5).

Bukannya tanpa alasan Fuad mengatakan seperti itu. Pasalnya, hingga kini memang belum ada regulasi yang menangani masalah penanaman investasi yang dilakukan oleh lembaga non perbankan. Fuad beralasan, kasus seperti itu masuk dalam grey area yang belum tersentuh Bapepam-LK. “Itu merupakan area abu-abu,” kata ujarnya.

Dia mencontohkan penyelesian kasus Dressel, yang berkedok investasi. Padahal waktu itu, lanjut Fuad, Bapepam-LK sudah mendatangi perusahaan itu, tetapi tidak bisa menangkap pelaku, karena tidak ada payung hukumnya. Sehingga, yang bisa dilakukan pihaknya waktu itu, hanya mengumumkan di surat kabar agar investor tidak berinvestasi di perusahaan itu. “Sebab, Dressel belum memiliki izin di Bapepam-LK,” jelasnya.

Seperti diketahui, beberapa waktu lalu kepolisian dan Bapepam-LK mengusut kasus penipuan berkedok investasi oleh PT Wahana Bersama Globalindo. Perusahaan ini menjadi agen produk penanaman modal Dressel Investment Limited, yang telah menjerat banyak tokoh penting di negeri ini, termasuk Ketua DPR Agung Laksono.

Untuk kasus itu, saat ini kata Fuad, Bapepam-LK masih menggunakan peraturan yang ada sejak zaman Belanda. Peraturan itu menyebutkan, apabila ada perusahaan yang bergerak tidak sesuai dengan izin yang tertera, maka harus dihentikan. “Setelah kita kaji ada peraturan seperti itu, yang digunakan sejak zaman Belanda, yang hingga kini masih layak dipakai,” imbuh Fuad.

Resiko Ekonomi Urusan Sendiri

Pada kesempatan yang sama, Fuad juga mengungkapkan kalau pihaknya selaku regulator pasar modal wajib melindungi kepentingan investor. Hanya saja, menurutnya, perlindungan itu tidak dalam konteks jaminan ekonomis, bahwa berinvestasi di pasar modal tidak akan mengalami kerugian sebagai konsekuensi logis berinvestasi.

Meskipun begitu, menurutnya, investor tetap harus dilindungi dari informasi yang menyesatkan, manipulasi pasar, dan praktek transaksi efek curang lainnya seperti insider trading. Selain itu, tambahnya, perlindungan terpenting bagi investor berupa tegaknya prinsip keterbukaan yang berpengaruh terhadap keputusan investasi.

Bentuk perlindungan investor lainnya, kata Fuad adalah pemberian ijin secara selektif untuk pihak-pihak yang berkecimpung di pasar modal, termasuk penerbitan standar atau aturan berikut aspek pengawasan. Jika terjadi pelanggaran, lanjutnya, regulator harus melakukan upaya hukum yang tegas guna melindungi kepentingan investor.

Untuk itu, kata Fuad, Bapepam-LK berperan untuk melarang dengan tegas penyebarluasan informasi yang tidak benar atau menyesatkan, manipulasi pasar, dan insider trading. Bapepam-LK juga berhak menetapkan aturan main yang mengedepankan tegaknya prinsip transparansi di pasar modal dan membuat aturan yang mendahulukan kepentingan investor dalam bertransaksi.

“Selain itu kita juga akan mengoptimalkan aktivitas supervisi terhadap kegiatan pasar dan pihak-pihak yang perannya terkait langsung dengan perlindungan investor. Dan yang lebih penting meningkatkan kualitas penegakan hukum di pasar modal Indonesia ,” tegasnya.


Enam Instansi Sepakat Perangi Penipuan Berkedok Investasi

Kesepakatan ini dituangkan dalam bentuk kerja sama yang di dalamnya termasuk tukar-menukar informasi antar instansi.

Kasus penipuan berkedok investasi memang marak belakangan ini. Kasus PT Wahana Bersama Globalindo (Wahana) adalah kasus teranyar yang merebak beberapa bulan terakhir. Perusahaan yang selama ini menginduk kepada Dressel Investment Limited ini, diindikasikan telah melakukan penipuan terhadap nasabahnya sebesar Rp1,4 triliun. Bukan hanya orang biasa saja yang ditipu, Ketua DPR Agung Laksono juga mengaku telah dikadali oleh perusahaan ini. yang bermarkas di British Virgin Island , Karibia ini.

Wahana telah menjual Strategic Portfolio Management Scheme (Sportmans) dan Global Markets Portfolio (GMP), dua produk investasi Dressel. Selama puluhan tahun produk-produk investasi ini memuaskan ribuan nasabah karena memberikan imbalan bunga 24-28 persen per tahun, lebih tinggi dibanding bunga bank. Namun, sejak tiga bulan lalu bunga tak lagi dibayar.

Melihat kenyataan seperti itu, enam instansi pemerintah akhirnya turun tangan untuk mencegah terulangnya kasus serupa. Keenam instansi yang juga sebagai regulator tersebut antara lain Badan Pengawas Pasar Modal dan Lembaga Keuangan (Bapepam-LK), Badan Pengawas Perdagangan Berjangka Komoditi (Bapebti), Departemen Perdagangan (Depdag) melalui Dirjen Perdagangan Dalam Negeri, Bareskrim Mabes Polri, Bank Indonesia (BI) serta PPATK. Mereka sepakat bekerjasama memerangi kasus yang meresahkan masyarakat.

Kepala Biro Perundang-undangan dan Bantuan Hukum Bapepam-LK Robinson Simbolon mengatakan, forum kerja sama ini bertujuan untuk memberikan perlindungan terhadap masyarakat dari aksi penipuan yang marak terjadi.

Selain itu kerja sama ini juga untuk mempermudah pengungkapan suatu kasus penipuan berkedok investasi karena bisa dijdikan sebagai ajang tukar informasi antar instansi. “Kalau ada masalah, keenam instansi akan bergabung untuk memeriksa kasus tersebut,” ujarnya usai menemui Ketua Bapepam-LK, di lantai 3 Kantor Bapepam-LK, Jakarta .

Robinson menambahkan, Bapepam-LK, Bapebti, Dirjen Perdagangan Dalam Negeri Depdag, Bareskrim Mabes Polri dan BI akan khusus bertindak terhadap lembaga investasi yang tidak berijin. Sedangkan PPATK akan bertindak khusus berdasarkan laporan kecurigaan. “Pokoknya kami akan menindak semua bank gelap, bursa berjangka gelap dan seluruh lembaga investasi yang tidak jelas,” tegasnya

Sebelumnya Bappebti dan Bapepam-LK sepakat melakukan joint jurisdiction dan mencari pola kerja sama yang tepat untuk memberantas penipuan berkedok investasi. Hanya saja, keduanya merasa belum perlu menyusun peraturan baru dalam kerja sama ini.

Alasannya, UU Nomor 32 Tahun 1997 tentang Perdagangan Berjangka Komoditi sudah mengatur adanya pola kerja sama antara beberapa instansi terkait menyangkut investasi di perdagangan berjangka. “Masing-masing instansi seperti Bapepam, BI, dan kepolisian juga sudah punya hukum sendiri yang memungkinkan untuk melakukan kerja sama,” jelasnya.

Dalam rangka kerja sama ini, Kepala Bapebti Titi Hendrawati mengusulkan agar Indonesia perlu menerapkan pola kerja sama yang dilakukan oleh pemerintah Amerika Serikat. Menurutnya, pemerintah Amerika sejak 2000 lalu sudah menerapkan peraturan untuk mencegah penipuan investasi yang terjadi di wilayah abu-abu (grey area), tidak dalam wilayah hukum otoritas pengawas. “Nanti kami lihat pola yang cocok untuk kerja samanya, bisa saja kami mencontoh pola yang diterapkan di AS untuk kasus penipuan investasi yang berada di grey area,” tandasnya.


Akankah Papua Akan Lepas Dari NKRI ?

Kibaran Sampari:

Gerakan Pembebasan OPM dan Perang Rahasia Indonesia di Papua Barat


Kibaran Sampari: Pembebasan OPM dan Perang Rahasia Indonesia di Papua Barat


Robin Osborne




Amiruddin dan Agung Yudhawiranata


ELSAM, 2001

Aura Magis

di Tiang Sampari

TUNTUTAN merdeka yang mengema di Papua sepanjang tahun 2000 ini telah mengundang banyak perhatian. Baik di luar maupun di dalam Indonesia. Media massa luar dan dalam Indonesia juga mulai bergairah memberitakan berbagai soal yang kini terjadi di bumi cendrawasih itu. Hampir setiap hari sekarang ini kita bisa menyaksikan dan membaca berita mengenai Papua di media massa baik cetak maupun elektronik. Masalah Papua kembali menjadi pembicaraan dalam sidang-sidang DPR maupun dalam rapat-rapat kabinet. Dari gejala itu secara politik telah menunjukan loncatan perhatian yang cukup berarti yaitu dari sekedar masalah urusan militer menjadi urusan politik nasional secara menyeluruh.

Di tengah gairah perhatian terhadap Papua yang sedang tumbuh itu, ELSAM ingin memperkenalkan buku karya Robin Osborne, KIBARAN SAMPARI: Gerakan Pembebasan OPM dan Perang Rahasia Indonesia di Papua Barat. Buku yang masuk ke dalam daftar buku terlarang dibaca oleh publik Indonesia di masa Rezim militer Orba ini pada awalnya diterbitkan dalam bahasa Inggris tahun 1984. Meski pun telah di terbitkan 16 tahun yang lalu masih sangat relevan dibaca dalam situasi Papua sekarang.

Robin Osborne dengan cara bertutur menguraikan sepak terjang OPM dalam membela dan mewujudkan Papua Merdeka. Dengan jeli seluruh kegiatan dan gerak OPM dicatat dalam buku ini. Begitu pula mengenai perselisihan antar pemimpin OPM dalam memilih taktik dan strategi perjuangan. Di samping itu juga mengulas bagaimana dunia internasional mengapresiasi perjuangan OPM itu. Mulai dari keterlibatan PBB melalui UNTEA sampai ke keterlibatan Australia dan Amerika dalam menyikapi perubahan-perubahan status wilayah itu ke dalam RI dari Belanda. Masalah lain yang sangat kaya diulas Robin adalah keterlibatan PNG dalam masalah Papua ini. PNG yang menjadi tetangga terdekat Papua sangat kerepotan dalam menghadapi diplomasi Indonesia, terutama kebijakan militernya. Dalam buku ini diuraikan pula bagaimana militer Indonesia sering kali melakukan provokasi di perbatasan PNG untuk memancing OPM.

Namun masalah inti dalam buku Robin ini adalah perang rahasia militer Indonesia yang berlangsung sekitar tahun 1969 �setelah Pepera sampai tahun 1980-an dalam menghadapi sepak terjang kelompok-kelompok bersenjata di Papua yang disebut gerakan pengacau keamanan. Menurut Osborne antara tahun itulah perang rahasia itu begitu mengganas dan menelan korban jiwa ribuan. Perang itu dirahasiakan oleh para petinggi militer terhadap publik Indonesia di luar Papua. Perang rahasia Indonesia di Papua itu terungkap ke permukaan di tahun 1980-an ketika mengalirnya ribuan pengungsi ke PNG. Gelombang pengungsian yang tiada henti sepanjang tahun 1984 itu telah mengundang perhatian dunia. Namun Indonesia tak mengubris itu dan tetap melancarkan berbagai masalah operasi militer. Akibat operasi yang begitu hebat dan telah mendatangkan penderitaan bagi rakyat di Papua akhirnya gerakan OPM itu surut dan terpecah-pecah. Bahkan akhirnya OPM kehilangan resonansinya akibat tak pernah lagi bisa menemukan titik temu di antara mereka. Meskipun begitu OPM tetap saja mengibarkan bendera Sampari-nya berulang kali di tengah-tengah hutan belantara Papua yang begitu menakjubkan itu.

Kini, Bendera Sampari itu kembali berkibar di hampir seluruh pelosok Papua. Namun pengibarannya menimbulkan sekian banyak interpretasi dan juga menimbulkan sekian banyak masalah. Baik di kalangan orang Papua sendiri, maupun di kalangan orang Indonesia lainnya. Untuk memahami pengibaran Bendera Sampari yang magis itu tak ada jalan lain selain menelusuri sejarahnya. Buku Robin ini merekam seluruh sejarah pengibaran Sampari itu dan usaha militer Indonesia dalam menurunkannya. Maka dari itu untuk menyimak lebih dalam bagaimana kibaran Sampari yang penuh magis tepat kiranya Anda membaca buku ini. Selamat membaca. ¤


Sejawat Yth.

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Berjibaku Hingga Maut Menjemput

Text : Angga Rulianto, Wartawan 69++ (Sixtynine Free Mag)
Photos :

Penularan HIV/AIDS masih luas di masyarakat. Para relawan tak pantang menyerah mengurangi dampak virus ini.

Pria itu berjalan terburu-buru. Aroma kesibukan tercium dari raut wajahnya dan gestur tubuhnya. Ia tidak sendiri. Beberapa orang juga ikut bergegas menuju mobil kijang yang parkir di depan rumah itu. Satu persatu dari mereka masuk ke dalam mobil. Satu orang di antaranya tampak kepayahan karena harus dibopong oleh yang lain. Selang kecil terlihat terpasang di hidungnya. Oksigen rupanya sedang disuplai ke dalam paru-parunya. Tak lama, mobil itu langsung tancap gas dari Bandung ke Jakarta menerobos suatu malam sekitar dua tahun lalu.

Di dalam mobil itu, penumpangnya adalah beberapa anggota keluarga pria itu. Suasana selama perjalanan tegang. Mereka diburu waktu, soalnya nyawa pria itu sedang di ujung tanduk. Bima, sebut saja begitu, terinfeksi kanker paru sehingga napasnya harus ditopang oksigen buatan. Masalahnya, orang-orang di dalam mobil tidak ada yang mengerti soal ilmu kedokteran. Suatu resiko besar membawa orang yang sekarat dalam perjalanan jauh tanpa didampingi oleh ahlinya. Akibatnya, Yakub Gunawan, salah satu penumpang mobil itu, memantau pemakaian oksigen Bima.

“Keluarganya merasa nggak yakin ditangani di Bandung. Jadi dibawa ke RS Dharmais, Jakarta pakai mobil pribadi. Bisa bayangin Bandung-Jakarta nempuh beberapa jam, itu sebenarnya rada khawatir juga,” cerita Yakub, 31 tahun. Ia adalah relawan HIV/AIDS yang mendampingi Bima. Bima sendiri merupakan ODHA (Orang Dengan HIV/AIDS). Posisi Yakub sebagai manajer kasus Bima. Peran manajer kasus tidak hanya mendampingi ODHA, tapi juga ikut mengarahkan dan merencanakan proses pemberdayaan diri.

Menurut Yakub, untuk menangani ODHA secara optimal, relawan harus menjadi manajer kasus. Bukan lagi sebagai konselor. Tapi, sebelumnya Yakub menjadi konselor, karena memang jenjangnya seperti itu. Peran konselor adalah memberikan konseling pra-tes, seperti pengenalan HIV/AIDS, resikonya, hingga mengarahkan klien untuk ikut tes. Sehabis itu ada konseling pasca tes agar ODHA tidak shock dan untuk terapi obat. Dalam tahap awal, biasanya ODHA tidak tahu apa yang harus dilakukannya. Di sinilah peran penting manajer kasus. Tugasnya lebih komprehensif, karena bertujuan agar ODHA mampu memberdayakan dirinya dengan mandiri.

Yakub tergabung dalam Partisan Club atau Klub Partisipasi Kemanusian yang bergerak di bidang kesehatan reproduksi, narkoba dan HIV/AIDS. Partisan Club didirikannya oleh Baby Jim Aditya bersama sang suami, Jim Bary Aditya, pada tahun 2000. Ia sudah lima tahun di Partisan Club. Awalnya, Yakub sama sekali asing dengan dunia ini. Tahun 2002, ia masih menjadi pegawai hotel di Jakarta. Posisinya saat itu sudah di level supervisor. Namun ia tidak sreg berkarir di dunia perhotelan dan merasa salah memilih jalan. Isu tentang psikologi lah yang menjadi ketertarikannya sejak SMA.

Akhirnya, Yakub berinisiatif membuat penelitian sendiri. Tujuannya, hanya untuk memenuhi rasa ketertarikannya. Ia memakai metode penelitian yang dipelajari dari buku-buku. Posisinya sebagai supervisor dimanfaatkan untuk mengatur ritme hidupnya. Pagi masuk kerja, dan malamnya keluyuran di jalan untuk mengobservasi kehidupan malam Jakarta. Ia masuk ke klub-klub hiburan malam untuk meneliti tentang pekerja seks komersial (PSK), waria, gay, dan lesbian. “Saya tertarik ketika di klub-klub bertemu dengan orang-orang yang dianggap ‘tidak baik’ kayak PSK. Nggak tahu kenapa, kok mereka sering curhat ke saya. Itu jadi inspirasi saya untuk turun ke jalan,” tutur Yakub bercerita.

Tak terasa, makalah-makalahnya mulai menumpuk dan belum tahu ingin diapakan. Tidak sengaja, Yakub menonton program acara malam di salah satu televisi swasta nasional. Lalu muncullah ide untuk membuat script acara serupa dari makalah-makalahnya. Ia pun menawarkan script-nya ke Lativi dan diterima. Jadilah acara Jakarta Underground. Yakub menjadi pegawai freelance di Lativi dan dibayar per episode. Dari aktivitas malam itu, ia bertemu dengan Baby. Kehidupan PSK, waria, gay, dan lesbian yang masih menyentuh soal HIV/AIDS mempertemukan Yakub dengan babak baru petualangan hidupnya.

“Saya banyak menemukan hal baru karena terjun ke jalanan. Pokoknya Tuhan kayak kasih jalan saja. Akhirnya aku dilibatin Baby karena mungkin dia lihat capacity aku yang nggak dinaungin lembaga apapun, tapi sendirian turun ke jalan,” ungkap Yakub. Melihat potensi itu, tak lama setelah direkrut, Baby langsung melepas Yakub bergerak sendiri. Saat awal bergabung, ia belum terlalu paham soal HIV/AIDS. Perlahan, ia jadi mengetahui berbagai hal tentang HIV/AIDS.

Yakub mengaku, awalnya ia belum merasa terpanggil untuk terjun ke HIV/AIDS. Soalnya, ia belum bertemu langsung dengan ODHA. Baru lewat Baby, ia bertemu dengan klien yang positif terinfeksi HIV/AIDS. Dari situ, ia mulai menemukan ada dunia baru untuknya. Tapi dari beberapa kali pertemuan dengan ODHA, Yakub merasa masih harus banyak belajar agar bisa membantu ODHA dengan baik. Ia meminta berbagai literatur tentang HIV/AIDS kepada Baby untuk dipelajari.

AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome) adalah munculnya kumpulan gejala penyakit akibat menurunnya kekebalan tubuh karena terinfeksi HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). HIV adalah jenis parasit obligat yang menyerang jenis sel darah putih penangkal infeksi, termasuk limfosit yang biasa disebut “sel CD4”. Pada tubuh manusia sehat, angka CD4 berkisar antara 600 hingga 1.500. Jika angka CD4 di bawah 200, maka sistem kekebalan tubuh sudah rusak sehingga infeksi oportunistik gampang muncul. Penyakit seperti maag kronis, lever, TBC, kanker, hingga penyakit kronis lain bisa mudah menyerang. Penyakit yang tidak berbahaya pun bisa membuat pasien sakit parah atau malah meninggal.

HIV hidup di cairan tubuh yang ada sel darah putihnya, seperti darah, cairan plasenta, air mani atau sperma, cairan sumsum tulang, cairan vagina, air susu ibu, dan cairan otak. Jadi, penularan HIV bisa terjadi dari hubungan seks dengan pasangan yang mengidap HIV, jarum suntik dan alat penusuk (tato, tindik, dan cukur) mengandung HIV yang dipakai bergantian, transfusi darah yang terinfeksi HIV, dan ibu hamil pengidap HIV ke janin atau bayinya.
Virus HIV sendiri pertama kali ditemukan tahun 1983 oleh Lug Montaigneur, ahli mikrobiologi Perancis. Tahun 1984, Robert Gallo, mikrobiolog Amerika Serikat, mengumumkan penemuan yang sama. Di Indonesia, kasus HIV/AIDS ditemukan pertama kali pada tahun 15 April 1987. Turis asal Belanda, Edward Hop meninggal di Rumah Sakit Sanglah, Bali, karena AIDS.
Penularan HIV/AIDS lewat jarum suntik masih memegang rekor di Indonesia. Jumlah ODHA di Indonesia yang telah mencapai 1,3 juta orang, umumnya akibat penggunaan jarum suntik secara bergantian. Penularan lewat jarum suntik erat kaitannya dengan narkoba. Yulianti, 33 tahun, pernah berurusan dengan penularan melalui jarum suntik ini. Suaminya adalah mantan junkie dan positif terinfeksi HIV. Awalnya, ia belum peduli dan tahu soal HIV/AIDS. Pengalaman mengurus suami saat sakit, otomatis membuat Yuli mengenal seluk beluk tentang HIV/AIDS. Sang suami akhirnya meninggal tahun 2003.

“Dari situ juga, aku jadi tertarik untuk terjun di dunia LSM. Senang saja bisa berbagi, karena aku kan pernah ngerasain waktu sama suami,” ujar Yuli. Pengalaman pribadinya itu membuatnya tertarik menjadi relawan HIV/AIDS. Dari situ pula Yuli sadar terhadap banyaknya masalah yang dihadapi ODHA, seperti menyangkut masalah sosial dan ekonomi. Sudah hampir tiga tahun ini, Yuli masuk dalam jajaran relawan AIDS dari Yayasan Pelita Ilmu (YPI).

Yayasan Pelita Ilmu adalah lembaga swadaya masyarakat nirlaba yang didirikan pada 4 Desember 1989 di Jakarta. Saat ini, YPI menekankan pada usaha pendidikan, pencegahan, dan pelayanan tentang HIV/AIDS. Beberapa programnya, yaitu pencegahan, dukungan masyarakat untuk ODHA, pusat penelitian keterampilan hidup, klinik konsultasi, tes HIV, dan pendidikan bagi anak putus sekolah.

Di YPI, ia menjadi pendamping ODHA. Walau berpengalaman hidup bersama ODHA, Yuli tetap mengikuti pelatihan relawan tentang cara mendampingi ODHA. Ia juga rajin membaca berbagai referensi pengetahuan soal HIV/AIDS. Beberapa pelatihan relawan AIDS juga sudah dilakoninya. Dalam melakukan tugas relawannya, Yuli biasanya berkunjung ke rumah sakit atau rumah ODHA. YPI memang menjalin kerjasama dengan pihak RS Ciptomangunkusumo dan RS Dharmais untuk para pasien ODHA yang butuh didampingi. Kadang ada juga ODHA yang mengurung diri saja di rumah karena statusnya sudah diketahui orang lain.

“Lamanya tergantung orangtuanya butuh sampai kapan. Biasanya sih kita sebulan. Kadang juga ada yang lebih,” kata Yuli. Ia hanya mendampingi ODHA jika saat dibutuhkan. Jadi tidak selama 24 jam dan bukan seperti perawat. Namun, Yuli tetap harus memberikan dukungan, semangat, dan motivasi, kepada ODHA agar bangkit dan mau berjuang hidup. Ini tak mudah, karena masih adanya stigma negatif dari masyarakat yang membuat ODHA dikucilkan dan didiskriminasi.

Di Indonesia, masih banyak bentuk diskriminasi ke ODHA. Padahal, menurut Yuli, sosialisasi untuk HIV/AIDS sudah gencar. Dari pengalaman Yuli selama menjadi relawan, ODHA paling banyak curhat soal perlakuan diskriminasi itu. Apalagi jika ODHA juga junkie, karena stigma dan diskriminasi itu menjadi double. “Sudah kena HIV/AIDS, terus narkoba juga. Biasanya ngerasa kayak sampah,” katanya.

Kuatnya stigma negatif itu juga yang membuat ODHA takut untuk mengaku. Klien atau ODHA yang ditangani Yakub ada yang seperti itu. Hingga saat ini, klien Yakub itu masih belum berani mengaku kepada orangtuanya. Padahal, tahun 2005 lalu, klien itu pernah sekarat. Besar sel CD4-nya cuma 80. Yakub terus membujuk kliennya itu agar mengaku ke keluarganya. Kliennya tidak bisa selalu tergantung pada Yakub. Soalnya, klien itu harus bisa memberdayakan diri juga.

Memang butuh keberanian untuk mengaku terinfeksi HIV/AIDS. Termasuk berani juga untuk menjalani tes. Ada teman dekat Yuli, yang terinfeksi HIV/AIDS karena narkoba, tak pernah berani tes dan menjalani pengobatan. Ia lebih memilih dekat dengan Tuhan dengan ibadah. Akhirnya, ia meninggal. “Aku mau tolong dia, cuma jadi nggak sempat, karena dia nggak mau, akhirnya meninggal. Itu sayang banget,” kenang Yuli.

Perasaan menyesal dan bersalah kadang hinggap di pikiran para relawan. Yakub, hingga saat ini, masih teringat dengan kejadian Bima. Malam itu, saat sudah tiba di RS Dharmais, Yakub baru ingat kalau belum menyiapkan kamar rawat inap. Sementara, kondisi Bima makin memburuk. Untungnya, pihak RS akhirnya memberikan kamar. Walau ujungnya, Yakub dimarahi. “Lain kali jangan yah pakai resiko kayak begini. Kalau ada apa-apa di jalan, mau tanggung jawab nggak,” ucap Yakub menirukan kembali omelan itu.

Saat itu, Bima bisa bertahan selama enam hari. Masuk hari ketujuh, ia tak tertolong lagi. Saat Bima meninggal, Yakub ada bersama-sama keluarganya. Tapi ujungnya, ia merasa bersalah, karena merasa tidak maksimal dalam menangani Bima. Ditambah lagi, setelah Bima meninggal, keluarganya tak pernah menelpon Yakub lagi. SMS darinya pun tak pernah dibalas. “Itu jadi makin merasa bersalah. Jangan-jangan kesalahan saya. Itu jadi beban juga,” ungkapnya.

Yakub sekarang menangani proyek HIV/AIDS Prevention Program In the Prison. Ini adalah program pencegahan HIV/AIDS dan dampak buruk penggunaan narkoba di penjara. Wilayah garapannya adalah Rutan Pondok Bambu, Rutan Salemba, LP Wanita, dan LP Pemuda Tanggerang. Yakub bertugas sebagai Prison Specialist-Field Coordinator. Proyek ini untuk membangun sistem pencegahan dan penanganan di dalam dan luar penjara bagi napi yang terkena HIV/AIDS.

“Proses membangun sistem, supaya provider-provider layanan kesehatan di luar LP mau menerima kasus dari LP yang sebelumnya selalu ditolak,” jelas Yakub. Sebagai awal, sistem di dalam LP dulu yang dibenahi. Dari pihak keamanan hingga klinik. Soalnya, napi yang harus berobat ke luar LP, harus ditemani oleh orang keamanan dan klinik.

Di dalam LP, Yakub dengan rekan-rekannya aktif mengedukasi napi dengan memberikan materi penyuluhan tentang HIV/AIDS. Setelah itu, jika napi bersedia, diadakan sesi konseling. Di sini, napi yang 90 persen beresiko HIV/AIDS akan ditawari provider untuk tes. Pasca tes, jika positif, akan ada konseling lagi dan bisa masuk ke ranah tugas manajer kasus.

Rutan Pondok Bambu, saat ini, menjadi proyek percontohan nasional karena dianggap berhasil, serta dikompetisikan untuk tingkat asia pasifik. Di sana, sejak napi masuk hingga keluar, sudah terbangun sistem. Napi masuk di-assessment perilakunya. Jadi kalau dia sakit sudah ada database-nya. Di Rutan Pondok Bambu sudah tersedia layanan tes HIV, pengobatan HIV, dan pengobatan TBC.
Pemakai narkoba dengan jarum suntik (penasun) di penjara sendiri meningkat seiring tingginya angka kematian napi periode 2004-2005. Angka hunian LP di Jakarta pada tahun 2005 sekitar 16.000 orang dengan angka kematian 390 jiwa. Tahun 2006, jumlah itu menjadi 19.000 dengan kematiannya 315 jiwa. Untuk seluruh Indonesia, sekitar 813 napi meninggal di tahun 2006. Selama Januari-Februari 2007, masih ada 62 napi yang meninggal.
Jumlah kematian itu diduga akibat HIV/AIDS, soalnya persentase penasun yang meninggal cukup signifikan. Data LP Kelas 1A Cipinang menyebutkan, tahun 2004 ada 117 kasus kematian, 77 di antaranya penasun. Tahun 2005, jumlahnya melonjak menjadi 166 napi, 124 di antaranya penasun.
Penyebaran HIV/AIDS di LP tidak bisa dianggap enteng. Di Provinsi Banten, dari sembilan LP dan rutan, sampai Maret 2007 sudah ada 214 napi terinfeksi HIV/AIDS. Menyebarnya HIV/AIDS di penjara tak lepas dari mudahnya mengonsumsi narkoba dengan jarum suntik di sana. “Walau di dalam penjara masih ada perilaku penggunaan jarum suntik, tato, tindik penis, dan semua itu dengan jarum terbatas,” jelas Yakub.
HIV/AIDS telah menjadi pandemi di seluruh dunia. Penularan HIV/AIDS di Indonesia juga memerlukan langkah antisipatif sejak dini. Apalagi dengan munculnya kelompok rentan pada kalangan remaja berusia antara 15-24 tahun. Ini menjadi pusat dari pandemi AIDS dalam hal penularan, kerentanan, dan dampak. Diperkirakan 4000-5000 orang pada kelompok ini terjangkit HIV setiap harinya di dunia.

“Indonesia sudah dalam kategori high risk epidemic dengan peningkatan di atas lima persen setahun. Makanyanya kita pilih ke anak muda, karena mereka yang paling rentan,” kata Lutfi Nurhidayat, 27 tahun, koordinator program Yayasan AIDS Indonesia. Yayasan AIDS Indonesia adalah organisasi nirlaba (non profit) untuk mewujudkan kepedulian terhadap masalah-masalah yang berkaitan dengan penanggulangan HIV/AIDS, khususnya di kalangan usia produktif angkatan kerja. Yayasan ini ada sejak 13 Agustus 1993.

Yayasan ini aktif melakukan kampanye ke sekolah, kampus, dan tempat-tempat nongkrong, seperti pusat perbelanjaan. Tak hanya itu, ada pula kegiatan dalam bentuk event, seperti kuis diskusi interaktif bersama anak sekolah seluruh Jabodetabek pada tahun 2001. Yayasan AIDS Indonesia memang ingin memaksimalkan proses penyebaran informasi ke kalangan usia muda ini. Luthfi sudah menjadi relawan sejak tahun 2000. Sekarang, ia juga sebagai konselor tatap muka untuk memberikan informasi langsung ke keluarga atau ODHA. Sesi konseling ini biasanya bisa terjadi empat kali perbulannya, tergantung permintaan klien.

“Kalau penyuluhan dikasih informasi lebih general, misal cara penularannya dan data kasusnya. Kita kan cuma education saja. Lebih preventif,” tutur Hendra, 23 tahun. Eggu, begitu panggilannya, sudah menjadi relawan sejak lima tahun lalu. Ia masuk Yayasan AIDS Indonesia karena diajak temannya. Sebelumnya, Eggu sama sekali tidak peduli dengan HIV/AIDS.

Alasan sama diucapkan oleh Wiji Rochani, 23 tahun. Ia bergabung dengan Yayasan AIDS Indonesia karena banyak relawan yang seusianya. Kebetulan, Wiji adalah angkatan relawan terakhir yang baru masuk tahun lalu. Sekarang, Wiji mengaku kalau kepeduliannya terhadap isu HIV/AIDS sudah meningkat daripada sebelumnya.