Sink them! she said.

 

Susi

Susi Pudjiastuti Indonesia’s Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (Photo from Wikipedia)

Susi smokes and has tattoos. She’s also the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in Indonesia and is credited with sinking 87 boats caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

The Ubud Writers’ Festival is underway. Each of the four days of this world-class production has as many as 18 panels, ninety minutes each, where authors, journalists, and activists from all over the world expound in their areas of expertise. Since there are three venues and three different sessions going simultaneously at all times, I can only physically attend six per day.

I feverishly waited for weeks for the Festival Program Book to be available. When at last I held it in my sweaty little hands, I pored over the events, agonizing that I couldn’t be in three places at once.

One description, in particular, grabbed me. Who would not want to hear from an Indonesian woman who is high in government in a fiercely patriarchal society and is sinking boats? She must be really something, I thought.

Susi Pudjiastuti is not merely something, she’s something else, and she’s doing everything that her position in government allows to protect the ocean for the people of Indonesia. “The blue of the sea is my medicine,” she said, and I listened, mesmerized, as she told how boats disguised as fishing vessels were engaging in trans-national organized crime. Not only were they depleting the supply of fish available to local fishermen they were also trafficking humans for commercial exploitation and transporting illegal drugs.

But Susi had a plan: Terrify them. She also had a flair for drama. At this point in the interview, laughter erupted and I may have missed or misinterpreted what was said. But I swear Susi indicated that she staged explosions at sea and made certain they were captured on social media. It sent a stern warning: Don’t mess with us!

She wasn’t kidding. Illegal ships were apprehended, evacuated, emptied of fuel, swept clean of environmental hazards, and blown up. No lives were lost but boats were sunk – 87 of them in 2017. Now the waters surrounding Indonesia are fished by Indonesians only. Her methods may have been unorthodox, but they were effective.

Susi didn’t finish high school but her message to the women of Indonesia is clear: “Education gives you access to opportunity and women in business actually do better than men.” When asked about her nicotine habit and tatts she didn’t miss a beat. “None of that matters,” she said. “It’s time to change stereotypes. The most important measure of success is a good job done.”

What a way to kick off the 2018 Festival. The sessions that followed Susi’s were equally phenomenal. The Ubud Writers’ Festival is like drinking from a gushing fire hydrant. It’s enough intellectual stimulation in four days to keep me satiated until the same time next year. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rose McInerney
    Oct 25, 2018 @ 22:40:07

    Nice Sherry!! Loved this article 🙂 Rose

    >

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  2. Anonymous
    Oct 25, 2018 @ 23:03:26

    Love it! What a creative solution and brave smart woman. It must have been great fun to listen to her and internally cheer her on. Now she needs a creative solution for the trash that gathers on the gorgeous beaches and eventually finds its way to the eastern Pacific. Have a great time at the rest of the Festival!

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  3. dibrandt030
    Oct 26, 2018 @ 05:05:40

    Wow! Not enough people prepared to act and be pro active I say. What a woman. Thankyou for keeping me up to date with intellectual issues in Bali
    .
    More tomorrow I hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Diane Struble
    Oct 26, 2018 @ 14:33:01

    I like her. I am not a fan of smoking or tattoos, but she is right. They are irrelevant and what she accomplishes is. I am particularly impressed that she removes the fuel and makes sure the explosion will not have an environmental impact. An inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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