The Philosophy of “Pager Mangkok” An Early Warning System from East Java to Prevent Violent Extremism

Minority in Sharia Territory
October 14, 2019
Majorities and Minorities Contribute to Radicalism
October 30, 2019

By: Johan Avie, S.H., M.H. – Direktur PUSHAM Surabaya

One day, in Malang City. “Knock-Knock, hello sir, please try my cuisine. This is sayur asem (traditional food from Indonesia), and this is fried chicken from me,” said Bu Mur, my neighbor in Malang City. I said, “Oh, thank you Mom, God bless you.” That day, she gave me a bowl of food, for free. “This is what we called Pager Mangkok,” said my wife to me.

I will start this essay by explaining what a Pager Mangkok is. Pager Mangkok comes from Javanese. In Bahasa, we call it Pagar Mangkuk (read: Bowl Fence). This term actually comes from Javanese proverb, “Luweh Becik Pager Mangkok Tinimbang Pager Tembok”, which mean better if we use bowl fence than we use wall fence. As we know, fencing is the outermost structure of our house. The fence serves as a barrier and guard of our house from unwanted guest. People usually build fence for security reasons. More higher the fence that we build, more secure our house from security disturbances. But, that assumption is useless for rural people in East Java, Indonesia. They prefer to use bowl fence than use wall fence. So for them, there is no need to build a high wall fence. Enough with a bowl fence, their house already safe from security disturbances.

Actually, a philosophy of Pager Mangkok (bowl fence) is how we fence our house by giving the neighbors a bowl of food. So, this proverb wants to convey a message about the importance of building good relations with neighbors. They give the neighbors a bowl of food by delivery directly door to door. When delivering the bowl of food, they did not go straight home. Usually they chat with neighbors around 5-10 minutes. After that, they go home. When that neighbor received a bowl of food from other neighbor, there is one feeling that automatically arises, “Okay, you are kind to me, and I also must kind to you too.” Maybe in modern community, there are not feeling like that. But in Javanese Community, that feeling automatically arises. This tradition passed down from one generation to next generation. And, we can see that tradition in some areas of East Java until today. For Javanese community, relation with neighbors is very important. Usually, the Javanese community considers that neighbors are closer than siblings.

With Pager Mangkok tradition, Javanese community did an early warning system. They will know when their neighbors not at home. They will know if there a new neighbors. They will know a background of their neighbors. They will know a profession of their neighbors. They will know about siblings of their neighbors. They will know a lot of information about their neighbors. Not just know, they will care about their neighbors. If there their neighbors sick, they are a person who know first. And usually they will take care that. If any guest comes to their neighbor’s house, they will know who the guest is. This is a natural early warning system. 

On terrorism issue, this tradition is very important to detect any potential terrorism. As we know, a terrorist usually have a basecamp in housing. Terrorists use this basecamp to arrange a strategy, or made a bomb, before they attack their target. In many cases, terrorists stay in a big city. Because, big city do not have Pager Mangkok tradition. Modern society tends to be individualistic. They do not care about their neighbors. They do not know who their neighbors are. And they does not have social relation with their neighbors. For example, I mention Dita’s Family cases. Dita is one of terrorists who attack 3 church in Surabaya City last time ago. Before they do terrorist act, they lived in Dukuh Kupang village (Surabaya City) for one month. After that, they stay in Rungkut village (also in Surabaya City) for 3 months. They arrange a plan, made a bomb, and do another preparation in Rungkut village. And the question is, “Why they not do another preparation in Dukuh Kupang village, and why they choose Rungkut village as their basecamp?”

We get an answer. Dukuh Kupang village is a residential area, where the community lives in a strong social cohesion. In Dukuh Kupang village, we can see a Pager Mangkok tradition. And Dita’s family not comfortable with that. It is different with Wonorejo village. Wonorejo village is a industrial area. There are a lot of factory on that area. And the average of population stay there is a factory workers. So, a factory workers use their house just for sleep. They go to work at 07.00 am, and go home at 08.00 pm. They do not have time to socialize with neighbors. In a community like this, Dita’s family choose their place to stay for 3 months.

When Dita’s family bombing 3 church, Surabaya people get shock. Even their neighbors do not think that Dita’s Family was a terrorist. Taufik, one of Dita’s neighbors said, “We never thought that Dita was a terrorist.”( Terrorist always use a camouflage strategy. They never show their identity, they never show their profile, even to their neighbors. They need a situation where a community does not care about their neighbors. And Dita find that situation in Wonorejo village.

That fact can describe how important Pager Mangkok tradition is. In Indonesia, Civil Society is the spearhead of early warning system. In Indonesia, The Police themselves lack the number of personnel to conduct early detection of vulnerability terrorism. Ideally, the ratio between Police and the community is 1:300, mean 1 Police have capability to handle 300 people. But in Indonesia, the ratio between Police and the community is 1:750, mean 1 police must make sure 750 people safe. This is not ideal for a security system. So, to prevent violent extremism, State apparatus need empower civil society. Civil society as a partner of state, to prevent violent extremism. That is why local mechanism/local wisdom like Pager Mangkok need develop.

Based on many cases, Malang City is area where terrorists stay to hide. May, 17, 2018, Densus 88 (Special Force of Police) arrested two terrorists in Klojen village, Malang City. This terrorists affiliated with Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), who has relation with ISIS. At December, 9, 2017, Police arrested Rizky Al Baiti aka Abu Ukasah, a terrorist who had affiliation with Abu Jandal al-Yememi al-Indonesi, the leader of ISIS in Indonesia. September, 12, 2015, Police arrested Ahmad Junaedi aka Abu Salman. This people had relation with Abu Jandal, the leader of ISIS in Indonesia. February, 22, 2016, Indonesian Police arrested 6 people of terrorist in Dau village, Malang City. One of them is Achmad Ridho Wijaya, a civil servant worked on Department of Transportation in Malang City.

Indeed, Malang City has never been a terrorist target. But for terrorists, Malang City is their favorite hideout. Now, state apparatus and civil society in Malang began to make improvements. Their concern for the dangers of terrorism began to grow. Some people on National and Political Bodies (Bakesbangpol Kota Malang) routinely disseminate information on early prevention of terrorism. Civil society in Malang had initiative to revive a Pager Mangkok tradition. For example, in Dau village, and Lowokwaru village, the neighborhoods asked their citizen to exchange a food every Friday. They think that this tradition can be an effective early warning system. And a fact, citizen have more social cohesion than before. 

Pager Mangkok is one of the traditions in Indonesia, which lived since the time of our ancestors. And now, we realize that this tradition is a way for people in ancient time to make an early warning system. I think the early warning system does not need to be done by top-down method. On the contrary, the bottom-up method is an effective method for building an early warning system. Bottom-up method is a method by using local mechanism or local wisdom as an early warning system. We think in other areas, there is a local mechanism is the same as Pager Mangkok tradition, which can revive as an early warning system. And in this way, citizens more easily understand what an early warning system is. 



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