Showing posts with label Tribute. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tribute. Show all posts
  • Life Begins at 40 (A Tribute to My Mom)

    When I declared back in October 2023 that I will write something about entering the "magical" age of 40, I absolutely did not expect that I will write an obituary for my mom. Far away from it! But life is full with unexpected surprises and we must cope with that reality. A shorter version of this post was delivered as my annual end of year Message of Managing Partner to our Firm's lawyers and staffs as I think it is important for them to know how much my life philosophy and work ethics are shaped by the parenting style of my mom which obviously affects how I envision and run the Firm for the past 6 years. After all, for a person who thoroughly integrates his life and work, it is simply impossible to separate my personal life from my working life, the connection is just too deep. So no, you will not find a typical story about how family matters above work etc. in this blog post. Such concept is non-existent within the universe of my thought.

    As I said during my Firm's anniversary party back in November 2023, I have practically tasted all the pleasures that a good life can offer before I even reach the age of 40. Just see my various adventures in my Instagram account and you will know what I mean. I also reckon my consecutive three-day birthday celebrations in October to be the best parties ever in my life so far. Surrounded by people that are important to me and after securing multiple prestigious awards for the Firm and myself, I was on the highest point of my life (again, so far). With all these accomplishments, it is natural to ask: what's next? What should I do for the next 40 years to bring my Firm and myself to greater new heights? I know that my dream of finding a successor is not yet fulfilled, and of course, there is also the unrealized dream of making UMBRA as the Wachtell Lipton of Indonesia. So many things to plan and do, no rest for the wicked. 

    Unfortunately, as I was contemplating our next moves, I had to face the devastating reality that I will no longer see my mom, Erna Dewina (her real name for the past 65 years was Erna Dwina but then her last identity card had a typo so we ended up with this new official name). Died too young on 28 December 2023 at the age of 66 due to brain hemmorhage (just like her own mother back in 1994), the only thing that perhaps could embrace me is the fact that my number one hero, Scrooge McDuck, also lost her mother at the age of 57 when he was 30. Timing wise, there is a similarity between his life's journey and my own. Scrooge McDuck received the sad news when he was facing his mortal enemy, Soapy McSlick. Chained to the enemy's ship and ready to admit defeat, that piece of news gave him the much-needed energy to kick McSlick’s ass, destroy his fraudulent business empire, and establish himself as the new King of Klondike, opening the path for Scrooge to become the richest duck in the world and cementing the mantra of “strength through suffering”.

    I suppose, I am living in that period too. As our Firm grows larger and gains more successes in such a neck-breaking speed, it is inevitable that there will be people that do not like us. As once said by Anthony Bourdain’s mentor to him, “you know you are damn good when there are enemies that you are not even aware of ready to do whatever it takes to bring you down.” Such is life. But like Unca Scrooge, Bourdain, and many other successful people, pain and suffering are just par for the course. You must face them and either you win, or you die damn trying.

    In that context, writing about my mom serves three purposes: (i) ensuring that her memory will live on, (ii) giving the readers a glimpse of my personal background and thought process in building and nurturing my Firm, and (iii) doing a self-therapy to help myself processing the grief and turning the pain into the strength necessary to carry on her legacy and fulfill my ultimate vision.    

    In the simplest way, my mom is a typical Tiger Mom: relentless, fierce and most of the time, annoying. A true force of nature. Say whatever you want about ideal parenting model, if you do not have enough guts and grit, you cannot survive interacting with my mom for a long period of time. I can assure you that my intense drive for excellence and being competitive is derived from her parenting style. It was crazy and yet I will not expect anything less from her. Pramudya A. Oktavinanda as you know today will not exist without her.

    The 2 years before I established UMBRA were the worst period of my life, there was no visibility on whether I will be able to successfully create a new firm independently despite all the preparation, and I was practically stuck with my dissertation writing. Rather than being at the endgame, it was more of a game over. And my mom’s constant messages during those difficult years? “When will you earn your PhD? I want to see my son’s graduation soon.” I was like, wow, come on, I need some moral support and additional time to rest my body and soul, but of course she would not compromise at all. It was always tough love for her. And though I had tried to finish my dissertation and graduated before UMBRA’s official opening in November 2017, my professors said in May 2017 that it was not good enough. Consequently, the next period for graduation (if I ever graduate) would be June 2018, and if I still wished to graduate on that deadline, I would have to work on my major revisions while starting a completely new business with no guarantee of success. This was a tough choice as I only had the last ten million Rupiah in my bank account when I opened my shop. Would I be able to do both and get stellar results, or would this be my total meltdown moment?   

    Devastated but not shocked, as I thought that I have not put my best effort to this soon-to-be masterpiece, I knew that if I delivered the message to her that I am giving up on my PhD because I am in the process of building a new business empire, she would just scold me or look at me with disappointment (and I couldn't withstand her deadly eye stare). As you may all have guessed, I had no choice and I told myself and her that 2018 will be the year when I finally earn my Doctor of Jurisprudence degree, no matter what the costs. The rest is history (I put a pic with my mom on graduation day at the top of this post as a memento of her) and serves as the basis for me scolding my lawyers nowadays if they ever come to me and say that they are too busy with work. Try running a firm from scratch while practically rewriting 70% of your dissertation on Islamic legal interpretive theory at the same time, and then and only then can they come back to me and declare that they are busy.    

    Other than installing an absurdly high level of tenacity to me, my mom is also the one who inspires me to promote women at the workplace (we even won Indonesia Law Firm of the Year award by Women in Business Law Awards 2023). I am a feminist because of her as she was the living epitome that women can be both a successful mother and entrepreneur. She brought me to her own office almost everyday so that she can strictly supervise my study and test me from time to time after she dealt with her daily work. It’s like doing cram school but with your own mom, and believe me, it’s worse, especially if I failed to memorize the required reading passage or give the correct answer to the endless exercises from the prep books. I initially did not understand how she had the time to do all of these activities but as I grew older and reached this stage of life, and especially after I also did the unimaginable back in 2018 and continue to surprise myself about my own limit until today, I realize that if you are being trained your entire life to be super persistent with your goal, you would accomplish some incredible feats. No wonder that I have an everlasting burning fire in my soul. I was trained by the best.

    Furthermore, she was the source of our family business success and immediately when she was asked to retire earlier by my father from the management, our business went down to hell and was almost completely wiped out during the 1997-1998 crisis. Worst business decision ever! On the one hand, losing everything was damn painful. But on the other hand, as I said above and in many occasions, walking through suffering builds your character. It drives you to be relentless (perhaps borderline obsessive) in the unforgiving race to greatness. This episode of my life is also the main reason why all my female associates find me to be so prejudiced to boys, believing that most of them are distractions. Well now they know, it’s my personal trauma. My message to them is always the same, find a significant other that will support you to soar into the sky and never settle for less.   

    People should also be able to tell that my deep passion for management, obsession with neatness, diligence, and organizing things, plus a seemingly unlimited energy to enforce all of those commitments (all necessary qualities for becoming an effective Managing Partner) are all derived from my mother. Her brothers and sisters called her “miss rempong”, and I can’t find a better term to describe myself other than being “rempong” too. So yes, this is why both of us are so annoying to other people and why we also both annoy each other so many times. I remember how stressed my brother was whenever I entered into a high pitch conversation with my mom (and not even because we were angry, but simply because we talk so loud and passionate about whatever we believe, haha).          

    While a piece of me will be lost forever with my mom’s sudden departure (I am after all a doted child a.k.a anak mami), I am grateful that a piece of her will also continue with me as long as I am still living (and hopefully through other people’s memories too). And though I am incredibly sad that I have to part with my mother so soon, I am a little bit happy that unlike Scrooge McDuck who had to learn the news of her mother’s death when he was thousand miles from home, I was lucky enough to spend time with her until the end and that she had the time to celebrate my best birthday party ever (with her gone, I am afraid that no party will ever beat the ones that I had back in October). I guess experiencing all of these highs and lows in such an extreme way when I reached the age of 40 really tells something about the old adage that life begins at 40. It surely begins with a bang!

    The next phase of my life will definitely be tougher. My out of this world level of confidence, tolerance to pain, and drive for work are somehow connected to the belief that regardless of whatever challenges that I have to face, I will always have that one supporter in the background. Whether we are near or far, in good times or bad times, and even when we were not talking because of our silly fight (a certainty from time to time as I am a copy paste of my mom, and you can't have two divas on one stage), it does not matter, I know that she will be there for me (and what a lovely thing to find this video of her just after I've finished writing this passage, confirming my belief). With that one ultimate pillar gone so quick, it's surreal to find yourself standing alone in the wilderness of life. It's just like experiencing Thanos's snap in real life but without any possibility of bringing her back. It sucks and yet, I must persevere. 

    To be brutally frank, I always consider myself as a ruthless dark lord with a pitch black frozen heart. No amount of pain and suffering in this world or even the universe have ever moved me to shed a single tear. As I often said, I don't believe in any moral values where I owe any duty to anyone else, and vice versa, it's all about self-preservation, game theory, and emotion. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I do have a soft spot for my mom, and that speaks an uncountable number of words about her importance to me (There are still many stories and memories about her that I have not shared to the world and it would be my greatest pleasure to share them later on whenever I have the chance). And again, I was very surprised to know that my mom did say the same thing in her video above, she did not want her sons to support and care for her based on filial duty. It must be based on love and nothing else. Great minds think alike. 

    For my beloved mother, thank you for accompanying my journey for the last 40 years, goodbye, and see you among the stars. I will be forever missing you. For the rest of us, and especially myself, life must go on. There are deals to close, competitors to beat, and an industry that we have yet to dominate! The mission shall continue as planned until the day I leave this mortal plane and beyond. And while the road to such goal is arduous and long, I think I will be just fine as long as I can live the life that I choose, as long as I can do what I love to do now and then, and as long as every once in a while I can reminisce my treasured memories of my mom. Wish me luck!          
  • An Introduction to Economic Analysis of Law - A Tribute to Prof. Widjojo Nitisastro

    Today is a sad day indeed for Indonesia as one of its greatest economists, Prof. Widjojo Nitisatro, passed away this morning. What a great loss! Although I have never met him in person, I know him through his splendid articles and books about him, especially the Kesan dan Pesan Sahabat-Sahabat Widjojo Nitisastro. Two of my favorite articles of him deal with the economic analysis for national development and the economic analysis of Article 33 of the 1945 Constitution (which discuss the correct economic structure for Indonesia). I consider those articles as the classical example of economic analysis of law in Indonesia and they have significant impact on inducing me to pursue the art of Law and Economics.

    While I have been writing about law and economics for many times in my blog, I have never formally written about an introductory article on economic analysis of law itself. I guess this is the right time to do so as a tribute to the late Prof. Widjojo Nitisastro. You will surely be missed and may you rest in peace. God bless you.

    Economic analysis of law or law and economics is a school of thought primarily developed in the United States that uses the powerful tool of economics to analyze various legal issues. It discusses three primary questions: (i) What is law? (ii) Why law exists in the society and can have binding power? (iii) What can be considered as a good law? Two prominent scholars can be considered as the early developers of law and economics, Gary Becker, a prominent economist who won Nobel prize in 1992, and Richard Posner, a prolific legal academician who is also considered as one of the best judges in the United States. Both teach at the University of Chicago and contribute significantly to the development of law and economics.

    Why economics can be a useful tool in analyzing the law? The primary notion used in this school of thought is that men act rationally. Not in the sense that they can always make perfect calculation at all times but in the sense that they respond to incentives and pay attention to the costs and benefits of their actions, even when they are subject to various limitations in doing so. This is the basis of positive law and economics which deals with descriptive analysis on the law and how it will affect human behavior.

    The second notion in law and economics is the pursuit of efficiency and welfare maximization of society. This is used by normative law and economics which believes that law should be designed to maximize the welfare of the society, whereas to reach that goal, law must be designed as efficient as possible. The more efficient the better, since it means that we can save costs while produce the biggest benefits to the society.

    Interestingly, despite the fact that law and economics has reached a very strong position in the United States, dominating the legal thought there, it is relatively unknown in Indonesia which sadly, still focuses its law teaching with classical legal thought. I guess this should be changed if we really want to improve our Indonesian legal system.

    Why law and economics is helpful for developing our legal system? I have three main reasons. First, by paying attention to how the law can shape the incentives of the people, we can shape our law to effectively affect the behavior of the people. As an example, I once argued on limiting the use of prison as a sanction for corruptors and instead using the sanction of assets confiscation. Assets and money are the bloodline of corruptors, the ones that significantly induce them to do the crime in the first place. If we only send them to prison but fail to secure the assets back, that will allow the criminal defendant to use the money to buy his way through the legal system (remember the case of luxury prison).

    Second, by paying attention to the notion of efficiency, we will also pay attention to the costs and benefits of having regulation. Only regulate if the costs of doing so are lower than the benefits. Do not try to regulate everything because we cannot have an effective regulation without effective enforcement. And enforcement can be costly, the bigger the scope of the enforcement, the bigger the costs. Classical legal thoughts believe that law should be obeyed because it is promulgated by the relevant authorities. This is completely wrong. It is obeyed either because we find a mechanism to enforce it or the general society believe unanimously that such law is useful. Hence, the need of enforcement. 

    One good example of this would be laws that deal primarily with regulating private behaviors that do not produce clear harms such as how to dress publicly. On the one hand, regulating those kind of things will be costly, imagine the price for enforcement and the potential social unrest that it will create since it will give legitimation to people to violate other people on the basis of dress. On the other hand, there is no clear benefit of regulating such behavior in the first place other than to serve the idea of several people about morality. We've seen a lot of these absurd laws, such as laws that try to regulate how to name your child. I wonder how these laws could even exist if not only for the purpose of political maneuver.      

    Finally, by putting the goal that laws should always aim to maximize the welfare of the society, we will have a good guide in developing laws that will be useful for the society. And there are a lot of things that we can discuss here. Some good examples that I have once discussed: how to efficiently regulate liability of people in tort cases (such as whether we need to establish good samaritan liability), whether we should maintain death penalty (do the benefits justify the costs?), how to prevent rape crimes effectively, the extent to which we can limit foreign investment in Indonesia, how to share the legal risks of infrastructure development in order to induce more investors to come to Indonesia, how to reduce courts burden by cutting unnecessary costs for judging petty crimes (the latest Supreme Court regulation is a nice example of this), and many more.

    I believe that it is important for law makers and legal enforcers to always strive for welfare maximization in rendering and interpreting the law. You do not enforce the law for the sake of the law itself. Law is not holy, it is not untouchable, it is not derived from the sky, rather it is made to serve men and should be made in view of men needs. Prof. Widjojo Nitisastro has started the idea of using economic analysis in shaping our national development and making sound economic policy long time ago. It was a great contribution, something that we, youngsters, must also strive to achieve. The least thing that I could do is to introduce law and economics to Indonesia and contribute in offering good  public policy for our nation.

  • The Protection of Criminal Suspects in Law and Economics Perspective

    Forthcoming in Jurnal Teropong Edisi RUU KUHAP 2015 | 23 Pages | Posted: 10 May 2015 | Date Written: April 28, 2015

    Public Choice Theory and its Application in Indonesian Legislation System

    24 Pages | Posted: 8 Oct 2012 | Last revised: 8 Nov 2014 | Date Written: October 8, 2012

    Special Purpose Vehicle in Law and Economics Perspective

    Forthcoming in Journal of Indonesia Corruption Watch, 'Pemberantasan Kejahatan Korupsi dan Pencucian Uang yang Dilakukan Korporasi di Sektor Kehutanan', 2013 | 15 Pages | Posted: 22 Aug 2013 | Date Written: August 18, 2013

    Legal Positivism and Law and Economics -- A Defense

    Third Indonesian National Conference of Legal Philosophy, 27-28 August 2013 | 17 Pages | Posted: 22 Aug 2013 | Last revised: 3 Sep 2013 | Date Written: August 22, 2013

    Economic Analysis of Rape Crime: An Introduction

    Jurnal Hukum Jentera Vol 22, No 7 (2012) Januari-April | 14 Pages | Posted: 12 Nov 2011 | Last revised: 8 Oct 2012 | Date Written: May 7, 2012


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