COFFEE TALK: SIR, JAKARTA IS BURNING!
Updated: Feb 1, 2021
In 1998, Indonesia was going through a rough patch in terms of the economy due to its currency's fall. Students, working-class people, and all the citizens were protesting against the party governing them for over three decades.
In May of that year, the situation was agitated in Indonesia. I was in Jakarta at that time, and I was frightened by the demonstrations that were being done everywhere, telling us that it was not safe to travel for a while. There were terrible downsizing, and people were left out on the streets. On 12th May 1998, I headed out to Malaysia, and I got a message from the Jakarta office saying: “Sir, Jakarta is burning!”.
Right before this, six students were shot dead. The killer was not to be found. Riots were taking place against the political elite. The situation was far from under control. There were mobs of people ransacking shops and setting them on fire. Several small-scale shops sell clothes near our office in Jakarta. The group set fire to them, and hell broke loose. Our members formed a human wall around our office to protect it from being burned. This gesture struck a sympathetic chord with me. They faced danger with the utmost courage.
There was considerable damage. Mass shootings, murders, and rapes were taking place. I contacted our office there, and they were panicking and were clueless on how to handle the situation. Budiman informed me that the problem was hostile, and we should have put off the operation for a while. I told him that this decision might come back to bite us since it is the worst situation to be put into. For an MLM company, stopping operations would mean the end of that company. I advised him to maintain function with a few minimal staff. I decided to go to Jakarta to calm them down and the members. This decision was not taken well by people as my phone was bombarded with calls asking me not to go. Nevertheless, I booked my ticket for the 18th of May, when the riots were still active.
There were only three passengers on that flight, and I had the luck to be attended by two beautiful flight attendants. As soon as I arrived at the office in Jakarta, members started rushing into my office. Some of them were protecting the office from riots. I told them that we should face every adversity with courage and vigor. I encouraged them not to bow down to danger. This galvanized them, and they started applauding. Amid these riots, most of the MLM companies in Indonesia were closed.
DXN was the only company that was still open in the market. Our sales multiplied during the riots. I was traveling all over Indonesia, promoting DXN, and asking people to become members. As more and more people joined us, we created a gargantuan image of ourselves in the market. Other companies were jealous and intimidated by us. We were way ahead of them in terms of pricing, marketing plans, and systems. Our marketing plan was quite old, and it was an issue for a while. However, the market is saturated soon. We overcame this by making our company sustainable, and this made it a good market for us.