Waste not Those wastrels who think that blogging is a waste of time should repent at leisure. Where else would you be able to read about garbage? Yes, Jakartass has an obsession with debris, detritus, junk, waste, scrap and sewage. You may think I'm talking crap and you'd be right. Read on.
Last Wednesday, I managed a rare visit to D's Place in Blok M which some folks would say is non-productive. My friend, the Reveller, wouldn't, and neither would I as he's given me a plug in his July update. (This page is rated PG)
I spent a couple of hours indulging in nostalgia and alcohol with DJ, a fellow Brit. We've known each other for as long as we've both been here so it was a wide ranging conversation involving Carlisle United, Charlton Athletic, our separate but similar coaching of primary school soccer teams and crap, as in the following spoof report not actually published in Newsweek.
President Bush, appearing before a right-to-life rally in Tampa, Florida on June 17, supposedly stated: "We must always remember that all human beings begin life as a feces. A feces is a living being in the eyes of God, who has endowed that feces with all of the rights and God-given blessings of any other human being." The audience listened in disbelief as the President repeated his error at least a dozen times, before realizing that he had used the word 'feces' when he meant to say 'fetus'.
DJ is interested in worms as well and has sent me a link to Worm Woman, who, judging from her site, is positively obsessed with them. Here you will find all sorts of vermicomposting (worm composting) resources for all experience levels. Vermicomposting is garbage disposal at its best because recycling is done on-site. Vermicomposting contributes not only to water conservation, energy conservation, and soil preservation, but helps one get closer to a zero waste goal. Give worm composting a try, and join the thousands of people who can say, "Worms Eat My Garbage."
Jakartass is a believer in serendipity and happenstance. Why else should the Jakarta Post have two stories today about the benefits of well-managed dumps?
Story 1 is about Wisnu in Yogya who has developed a thriving business sorting the area's garbage. Two years ago, the government of Sleman regency honored Wisnu with a certificate of merit as an environmental pioneer. He is also a recipient of the 2000 Silver Gold Award from a Thai environmental organization, which also donated US$20,000 toward his composting business. Commenting on Wisnu's expertise, Genie F. Ferdie, a local waste management activist said, "All he needs to do is to simply rub the surface of the compost pile."
Hang on a moment. Who taught Wisnu to "rub the surface of the compost pile"? Was it Genie?
Story 2 is about one of Jakarta's out-of-the-city-limits dumps.
Residents living in the vicinity of Galuga dump in Kampung Lalamping, Bogor regency, said the dump's new processing system had eliminated the environmental and health problems from unprocessed waste they had suffered four years ago. ...consultants (have been brought in) from Australia and Japan for the project.
Jakartass would like to know why expat consultants need to be brought here to help sort out the rubbish. Composting was a regular feature of my grandfather's garden and no doubt many of my readers have green fingers. Here, there is a network of NGOs concerned with the productive recycling of organic waste. A year ago, on July 14th 2003, "Bali Fokus as the dynamisator of JALA-Sampah (Jaringan Pengelolaan Sampah)/GarbaNet of Indonesian NGOs Network, with 25 NGOs member from all over Indonesia, as member of GAIA, (took) part in this Global Day Action."
Because the Jakarta Post recycles its online pages, you should link to the full stories NOW.
Phew. Glad I got that out of my system. Must rush; I've got to take a dump.
Sorry Tenshi I misspelled your name and suggested that you were a 'he' rather than a 'she'. I should have known.
And thanks to The Fool In Bandung for letting me know about BlogBugs who have over 600 Indonesian blogs listed, the majority in bahasa. I've linked to the Jakarta pages on the right. Or at the bottom if you're still viewing on Internet Explorer.
A Free Press A couple of weeks ago, I had to copy edit a print advertisement for a hotel which was offering a free press. Unfortunately the website of the Malya Hotel in Bandung is in good English with no mention of undergarments. So there goes my hoped for continuity link.
By now, anybody who has an interest in the reporting of world events knows that blogging has entered the mainstream of journalism. They were at the Democratic Convention and politicians of all sizes and stripes are sharing their innermost thoughts. Not that anyone cares, because, by and large, they're not very good.
The issue for most of us is not about the quality of writing or argument, but the fact that it is there to be read. Having the ability to select and reject is a democratic principle. So the news that Amazon will not sell House of Bush, House of Saud by Claud Unger in the UK seems to be a curb on a citizen's right to know. So, fellow Brits, either visit your local bookshop or order it from Amazon USA.
When libel laws, or the threat of the use of them, go against public interest and protect the so-called élite, then they must be challenged. Publish and be praised is my motto. I certainly don't agree with the dissemination of stories about semination and you won't get any in this blog. (Digression: I've always said that football is a man's game and that England needs a virile manager. Most Addicks want Sven to stay so that Alan Curbishley stays with Charlton for the next season at least.)
The right to satirise must also be safeguarded. British taxpayers must be pleased to know that their government is preparing for emergencies and has produced a leaflet in umpteen languages including English, but not, unfortunately, bahasa, which can be downloaded here. However, they got a bit pissed of with Thomas Scott's parody of it and made him take down his site. So he's put it here instead. Good on yer, Thomas.
Such tactics remind me of Indonesia. You can't kill irritating mozzies with a sledgehammer, but governments certainly try. Here, there is the attempt to stifle the Tempo media group which suggested that a very rich tycoon was using thugs to clear land for his future profit. As regular readings of both Tempo and the Jakarta Post confirm, it's certainly happened before and continues throughout Indonesia. In this particular case, the International Federation of Journalists has given very strong support.
Jakartass is lending his support too.
Disclaimer: Jakartass is a bankrupt schizophrenic with paranoid delusions. Besides, it wasn't me guv.
At last, I've received some comments for which I'm very grateful. I was beginning to think that I was the only one reading this blog.
Isman in Bandung, who's got a very nice blog called The Fool, has been having this idea of making a website dedicated to Indonesian uses of English. I don't think you are a fool, Isman. (But how come your Google ads feature the Flake Filter?) Anyway, that's an interesting idea and I hope we can have some cross-cultural correspondence. All are welcome to contribute.
Fabian, the Swanker, who lives in Sydney, has several Indonesians reading his blog, Macam Macam, so I've included it in my Indonesian blogs list even though, I presume, he's an Aussie.
Temshi, who cannot be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, has written to comment on my last post which was a minimalist piece on the nuclear industry. I gave a link to an interesting paper on the growth of the UK anti-nuclear movement which, from 1976 until I came to Indonesia in late '87, I am proud to have been part of. Unfortunately, he says that a. he's too lazy to join any anti-nuclear power demos and b. somebody else's bound to do it.
Don't bet on it Timshi. As Winston Churchill probably didn't say, never have so many been owed so much by so few.
Finally, I've commented before that my browser of choice is now Mozilla's Firefox. Its tab facility in particular is very useful. It also seems to be faster than Internet Explorer. This blog seems to display as I wish it to, apart from the ongoing problem of the gap between Weather Pixie ~ which is offline as I post this ~ and my links. However, on IE the links seem to wander around the bottom of the page rather than neatly down the side. If you have this problem on IE and/or any other browser, please contact me and I'll be taking this up with the Blogger support team.
Losing a mint News that the economic case for the nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield in Cumbria, north-west England, has a hole like a Polo mint is not new.
That the use of nuclear fission to generate electricity is merely the by-product of the military programme of developing nuclear weapons is well-known.
That governments lie to their citizens about this is well-documented, if you know where to look ~ the Internet is a wonderful resource.
That nuclear power is both economically and environmentally unsound could be why Japan, which suffered Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is offering to help Indonesia develop the technology.
And following Chernobyl, Russia is offering to help Indonesia build a floating power station (eh?).
Luckily, given the budgetary restraints of Indonesia, there is little likelihood of a nuclear power station being built here for the foreseeable future. The country can relax and enjoy the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.
And if the powerful politicians decide to give glowing approval to the construction of a power station, possibly on the Muara Peninsula, the site of a seismological testing station ~ and do consider the illogicality of this notion, then be prepared to demonstrate. Anti-nuclear protests are not new.
Today's Sermon is inspired by a searing indictment by Bill Moyers of Bush's capitalist cabal and should be required reading by all who are concerned with the disenfranchisement of all except the rich.
You have probably already watched Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 and agreed with every review. It is that good and I defy anyone not to be stirred, moved, appalled or simply dismayed at a simple gut level. However, without constant use of the pause or rewind/search buttons on the remote, a film passes time but you miss or mishear central arguments.
The film, the book and the article focus on the USA, but there are parallels in nearly every other country, including Indonesia. Bill Moyers keeps "a file marked 'Holy War'. It bulges with stories of Shias and Sunnis in fratricidal conflict. Of teenage girls in Algeria shot in the face for not wearing a veil. Of professors whose throats are cut for teaching male and female students in the same classroom. Of the fanatical Jewish doctor with a machine gun mowing down 30 praying Muslims in a mosque. Of Muslim suicide bombers bent on the obliteration of Jews. Of the young Orthodox Jew who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin and then announced to the world that "Everything I did, I did for the glory of God." Of Hindus and Muslims slaughtering each other in India, of Christians and Muslims perpetuating gruesome vengeance on each another in Nigeria."
Read this most cogent argument for the power for good, rather than evil, that every religion should stand for. In Bush's America, Christianity doesn't.
"The very Jesus who drove the money changers from the temple ... has been hijacked and turned into a guardian of privilege instead of a champion of the dispossessed. Hijacked, he was made over into a militarist, hedonist, and lobbyist, sent prowling the halls of Congress in Guccis, seeking tax breaks and loopholes for the powerful, costly new weapon systems that don't work, and punitive public policies."
It may be Sunday today, but I'm not preaching and neither, I feel, is Bill Moyers. Like Michael Moore, Craig Unger, et al, he's telling a powerful truth, albeit as a committed Christian.
What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)
Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the secret of style. Mathew Arnold (1822 - 1888) said Shakespeare got it wrong.
A spade is never so merely a spade as the word spade would imply Christopher Fry (1907 - ) said he got it right.
Jakartass (1946 - ) thinks he got it half wrong. Or is that half right?
The joy of living languages such as English or bahasa Indonesia is that they are ever-expanding and mutating. It is possible to be precise or poetic; problems arise, however, when language is used to obscure or confuse.
My concern is that language is used to hide true meanings. Consider the term 'human resources'. Presumably everybody knows that humans are people, so let us define 'resources'. My Webster's dictionary defines them as "something that a country, state etc. has and can use to its advantage". This is a similar definition to 'tool' or 'implement', which are "devices to be used in a given capacity." It follows, therefore, that 'human resources' are to be used as tools to the advantage of countries, states etc.
Webster's defines a 'citizen' as "a member of a state or nation, esp. one with a republican government, who owes it allegiance and is entitled to full civil rights either by birth or naturalization". This, by implication, is a reference to people. Other creatures are entitled to animal rights.
The use of the word 'human' is obviously at odds with 'resources'. Being taken advantage of does not accord with civil rights. The right to be useful does not equate with the 'right' to be used. It seems that within the bureaucracies of government and the corporate world, people, by whom I mean employees and workers with specific job titles, are being dehumanized through the use of incorrect language.
Bank Universal used to have a Human Capital section within its HRD. Perhaps its successor, Permata Bank, has Human Revenue and Human Assets sections as well. The notion that people can be traded or spent is surely abhorrent. Shouldn't people be saved?
So, is a human resources department a personnel department in disguise? 'Personnel' sounds right; it is such a personal word. It is appropriate, so why has it been changed?
Could it have been a self-defence mechanism? "I don't actually know what I'm doing but if I blind you with jargon, neither will you. And if you don't like it, I am a staff."
In all my dictionaries, a staff is defined as a long stick used either as a weapon or as a symbol of authority. Staff, meaning a group of workers in a company, is an uncountable noun. A member of the staff in a company is an individual worker. So here we have another problem, that of mistranslation or misuse of a language.
The English travel writer Norman Lewis, who died on 22 July 2003 aged 95, described his travels in Indonesia some ten years before in An Empire of The East (Jonathon Cape 1993). In it he wrote about Bahasa Indonesia thus: "Indonesian is the supreme example of a language proving that on the whole grammar is unimportant, and that human communication can be maintained without conjugation of verbs, past or future tenses, case endings, genders, definite and indefinite articles, and the rest. ... All the foreigner has to do, is to pick up as many words as possible, string them together, and bring the meaning into clearer focus, when required, by adjustment of the context."
Well, this certainly describes my proficiency in bahasa, but I occasionally wonder why it is necessary to add group words. For example, a direct translation of Buku ini berwarna merah would be This book is (a) red colour. Surely red is red is red.
If there is a linguistic need to be both specific and to reflect accepted usage, then I urge the City Government to redefine the Indonesian translations of sidewalk. Trotoar, jalan pinggir and kaki lima are plainly inadequate, especially the last one which refers to the legal right of way for pedestrians, a width of five feet, at the side of a road.
Here are some Jakartass suggestions:
1. jalan (road)
2. toko (shop)
3. bengkel (workshop)
4. tempat parkir (car park)
5. rumah makan (restaurant)
6. kebun bibit (plant nursery)
This is the second draft of an article and photo essay to be published in PRObiz, a new monthly business magazine published by KADIN - Jakarta, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce - Jakarta branch.
And then there were two Given that Gen. (ret.) Wiranto is going to "take legal steps to achieve justice" and has demanded a recount in the Presidential election, I suppose that he thinks he's a loser. Which he is, so I've removed the link to his site.
Ph.D-to-be Blogwell wrote the paper and identified 5 types of blog:
2. Commentary (on environment, news, media, internet, etc)
3. Catharsis (or the purging of negative feelings)
4. Thinking by writing (using a weblog as a thinking tool)
5. Construction of community (many weblogs allow the sharing of help, support, and friendship from known and unknown readers)
Like DG's, mine's a 4, sublimating a 1 with a 2. This could change as life goes on or if there were fellow bloggers in Jakarta to add 5.
I often get the feeling that it's only me and the Jakarta Post who are prepared to comment publicly on life in the big shitty. Unfortunately, their City News about the quality of life, or lack of it, is in the print version and their online stories generally focus on national news. I'd be very happy to welcome contributors to these pages or to set up a Jakarta specific site which wasn't geared to bars or broads.
Given that Blogger.com was only launched in 1999 and now hosts nigh on 1 million blogs, although many are inactive having been set up on a whim rather than in tent, the growth of this most democratic medium has been unprecedented. Serious newspapers such as Guardian, which gives a link to my humble effort, soon recognized that the reality and truth afforded by access to hyperspace would prevail over political and capitalist prevarications and obscurantism.
And the only folk making a living out of all this are the academics who are given fees for presenting papers couched in pseudo-socio psycho babble to other academics who get paid to listen. Am I being unfair? Try and get your head around this Genre Analysis of Weblogs.
To be fair, the authors, all four of them, are American. But why are they so analytical in their blogs? The author of Language Log argues obscurely for a Shitload of Brevity. At great length.
In Training - 2 Having waited for up to half an hour for my conveyance to town ~ see my post on July 15th, it is with keen interest that I view the arriving train.
Inevitably at that time of the morning there are youths on the roof, a risky affair given that these trains are electric with an overhead power supply. This means that the sides are bulging with bodies and the insides are like the proverbial can of sardines. But, no worries think I, needs must. Anyway, where I embark loads of folk disembark. Also, that glimmer of intelligence I have in the early hours (if 10am can be called that) means that I have chosen a section of the train with the least internal mobility.
There are 8 carriages in 2 units of 4. Therefore, in the middle at the ends of each unit, there are the driver's cabs which are, generally, sealed off from the hoi polloi. The cabs are obviously the best places to be, but I have yet to be invited to join the dozen or so chosen ones. Instead, I attempt to enter through the double doors immediately behind.
Cattle class is variable. Sometimes I am delighted to see a shiny blue one arriving. These are likely to have overhead fans that still work. Silver trains are second best; it is a given that the double sliding doors are there for decorative purposes. They are either permanently open or jammed half shut. The latter situation does make it harder for the cling-ons, who are those who ride the sides of the train using their extra-strength fingernails to prevent sudden ejection.
If I see an orange train arriving I can expect something a little more down-market. There will be graffiti scrawls inside and out, no operative fans, missing lights and windows and a muggier atmosphere which is the result of having conveyed innumerably more sweaty bodies.
In none of these trains can I expect a seat. These were taken way down the line, probably in Bogor. The rest of us have to find a handrail or, in the blue trains, a luggage rack to grasp. This is fine by me as I am somewhat taller and have a longer reach. If the overhead fans aren't working it's because they have been grabbed too often during lurches. The handrails may similarly have come unattached through constant use.
I am prepared for this. My small backpack is on my front, I have my handkerchief-sized floor space, I am inside near the doors so I can attract the breeze as we rattle along and I am ready to quietly observe my fellow passengers as they observe me, the only westerner crazy enough to share their daily commute.
Our intent behind the new post editor was to increase the "democratization" that Blogger provides, rather than lessening it. That's why we added more formatting abilities, so that people who may not know any HTML can still use a toolbar that is probably somewhat familiar or at least intuitive from their experience with other word processors.
Note that if you wish, you can use the HTML mode of the new editor, and just ignore the Compose mode, and then it should be basically equivalent to the old version of Blogger. Your posting screen will automatically default to the last mode you used, so you won't even have to switch tabs each time. (This default wasn't happening at first, but we've fixed that bug now.)
Thanks for your reply. I think I understand, but I still have problems with the font sizes. If you could fix that I'd be grateful.
And could you tell me why my links float somewhere at the bottom of IE but look really cool in Firefox.
Concerning an interruption toward some applications run on our mail server since July 18th until July 20th 2004 which effecting activities in receiving emails as we previously confirmed, now we are glad to inform you that the service is being restored and you can enjoy the facility conveniently.
Please accept our sincere apologize for the inconvenience it may cause.
Where But For Caravan Would I ? Following yesterday's posting, a correspondent in California ~ hi Greg ~ has written to ask "How do I access your soundtrack, Caravan?" Well, the simple answer is to visit your local record store. A more expensive option is to go to one of these Stateside gigs (all with Nektar):
September  Albany, NY, The Egg.
 Arlington, MA. Regent Theater.
 New York City, NY, BB King's.
 Alexandria, VA, Birchmere.
 Charlotte, NC, Neighbourhood Theater.
 Atlanta, GA, Variety Playhouse.
 St. Louis, MO, The Pageant.
 Chicago, IL, Martyr's.
 Toronto (Canada), Opera House.
 Glenside, PA, Keswick Theater.
They're in Japan in October, but maybe that's a bit too far. Unfortunately they won't be visiting Indonesia time soon, though with the support of my friend Leonardo Pavkovic of MoonJune Records it may yet be possible.
I'm a long term fan of the so-called Canterbury music scene, initially through strange coincidental personal connections. Back in '69 I moved into a flat in London rented by an ex-pupil of Simon Langton School, which was the alma mater of various luminaries of that scene. Frequent visitors to the flat included Caravan's keyboard player, Dave Sinclair, and the drummer of Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt. I also met many of the other musos including the wonderful Kevin Ayres.
I replaced a guy whose then girlfriend became my second wife six years later, though I didn't meet her then. Robert Wyatt went to her first wedding and she knew nearly everybody in those early days. I can't really remember ~ which may prove something ~ that I really banged on a beer bottle or something at a Kevin recording, alongside Caravan et al, at the Roundhouse recording studio in 69/70.
I had always been a jazz fan, long before I encountered this 'progressive' music. Soft Machine were Jimi Hendrix's first tour of the States and bootlegs of their musical meetings have recently surfaced, officially. They were also the first (only?) group to play a prestigious Prom. And four of the alumni released an album in 2002 on MoonJune Records under the name Soft Works.
Caravan were more rock-orientated. Admittedly often trite lyrics, albeit sung with good clear British accents, were combined with the sheer orgasmic power of tight musicianship for suites which lasted for a whole side of a vinyl album. Music to groove to whilst skinning up; the soundtrack of my initial bachelor days.
And the gigs. These were family get-togethers. There is a Yahoo group which has sudden eruptions of "Do you remember when?" And I do. I remember spliffs being passed round; like chain letters, you'd get more back than you sent out. It was, and remains, a community. The musicians roll on with the years, still playing and recording together in various combinations and/or with others who became part of that scene.
I have over 100 albums and c.50 bootlegs of music related to the Canterbury scene, and they all get played regularly. But Caravan's early albums are the one's I play when I need an orgasmic rush. And yesterday was a good day.
A couple of days ago I said that things looked brighter. Well, they now feel better too because after 18 months of underemployment and being told I'm too old, too experienced (eh?), and too whatever, I've finally been offered and accepted a job which I feel will offer a living wage as well as the opportunity to explore fresh pastures. So 'er indoors and our kid, along with a good friend, have just polished off a ½ bottle of Dom Perignon '93 which we've been saving for such a day.
And Caravan is my soundtrack. Wow, it's good to feel energised again.
Stand Up Observer columnist Sue Arnold, who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa and is officially registered blind ... noticed several years ago that drawing on strong Jamaican skunk suddenly and temporarily enabled her to see things clearly. But Ms Arnold has since warned of side-effects that could impede night-time navigation.
"Only trouble was," she said, "I couldn't stand up."
And so the children of the sixties come in for a generational bashing. Apparently Tony Blair thinks we are to blame for the current societal ills in the UK. What a load of tosh. We weren't yuppies for a start. We were 'bulge babies', born as a consequence of the ending of World War II when our happily demobbed Mums and Dads made up for lost time in the bedrooms. We lived through rationing, and thus learned the value of recycling and good nutrition.
Dad's first car was probably pre-war and lovingly maintained. DIY and gardening were economic necessities rather than hobbies. TV and radio were educational and communal rather than prying and ephemeral. I listened and watched with mother. We were cosseted, true; our parents fought the war for the likes of us. Or so we were told.
We didn't so much rebel as seek a voice, our voice. The Teds, mods and rockers preceded the hippies, which I presume are the targets of Tony Blair. And I'm part of that era. I may say that I'm an aging hippie, but I'm not really. I never really dropped out, but I did tune in and turn on to some interesting social experiments.
The sixties and early seventies saw a return to communality from some 70 years before: socialism and co-operatives, a concern for society's well-being, arts and crafts and travel. Community law centres, housing and work co-operatives, community transport schemes, fair trade organizations, organic food and music festivals were all incepted by our generation. Products of the Welfare State, we looked for alternatives on a smaller scale at the level of our own community. It wasn't an era of 'fuck you' or, indeed, free sex ~ at least, not for me. It was an era of 'Self Help' and social experiment which rejected the Nanny State ethos of altruism without rejecting the core value of caring.
This post is not intended as a personal paean; I'll content myself with saying that I've been there and done that and always will.
We don't need preaching at Tony; prove that you care for all and we can stand up for ourselves.
I'm getting a bit pissed off with Blogger and Indosat.
The Blogger 'Create Post' set up remains the mess I complained about on Friday, except you can't now justify the text ~ and I'm talking about the formatting rather my musings. The font size option has also gone, as have the colours. What's more, my site looks totally different on IE from the version I prefer to look at on Mozilla's Firefox. With the latter, my links are down the right-side which is how my original template was set up. Not so with IE ~ the links are dangling somewhere at the bottom. Editing a post now seems to involve fiddling with HTML which I do not have time nor do I wish to do. Please give me back the idiot-proof version so I can play with my own words.
As for Indosat, I can't access my spam today; neither my direct link nor their webmail link are connecting. This is a recent e-mail from them:
Dear IM2 Indosatnet Customers,
Thank you for trusting IndosatM2 in providing your Internet service.
To continually improving the quality of service, herewith we would like to inform you that commencing on July 19, 2004, we provide Power Surf as our new free features for Dial Up Users, which gives an additional speed up to 5 (five) times in accessing the Internet.
We hope you can enjoy the facility conveniently.
Customer Service Manager
Quality of service? Who are they kidding?
And 'Power Surf' sounds like a soap powder, so I hope they don't mind me washing their dirty laundry in public.
Paul Foot and Pat Roach R.I.P. Two men who may not have shared the same political viewpoints but certainly had similar qualities have died. Paul Foot was a revolutionary socialist, a hero of the Socialist Workers Party who could be relied upon to appear at every demonstration to wave their black and white placards.
I never felt that they were genuine supporters of whatever cause we were marching for, be it nuclear disarmament, a woman's right to choose or the anti-nazi league. But Paul Foot, through his columns in the Daily Mirror and, more recently, the Guardian, was a voice for the victims of miscarriages of justice and political shenanigans. It was rare that I could find myself disagreeing with him or disapproving of the causes he espoused.
I was a fan of Saturday afternoon wrestling in the era of Mick McManus, who, offscreen, was an antiques dealer dahn the ol' Kent Road. (Sir) Jimmy Saville, Brian Glover and Pat Roach also crossed the divide between 'sport' and art/entertainment. A 'gentle giant', who achieved fame in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet ~ a TV series I rarely saw, he would have been my shoo-in to play Shrek if a non-animated version were to be produced. Which now won't be.
And Then There 2½ Amien Rais has conceded the Presidential election, so I've removed the link to his website.
It looks as if I'll be doing the same to Gen. (ret.) Wiranto over the weekend.
What an exciting election this has proved to be.
What the frig have they done? Diamond Geezer has a lot more technical nous than me and he's really upset. Read his blog for an analysis of the complete cock-up Blogger seem to have made of the 'Create Post' page.
I'm an ignoramus regarding HTML and want something simple like Word Pad which allows me to use bold, italics and, what would be nice, underlining and font formatting (strikethroughs etc.) at the click of a button. Oh, and for Blogger to sort out the punctuation so I don't get question marks instead of apostrophes when I copy and paste from my offline document into the Post editor.
Blogging is, or in Blogger's case 'has been', one of the greatest democratising revolutions in Internet development since, well..... the invention of the Internet.
Adding steep learning curves to fairly instant posting is anti-democratic. I do not want to undergo this. Just give me back the buttons.
If I have to, and I don't want to, I'll find another blog host unless ......
In Training - 1 For reasons of both time and money, I commute by economy class train from my semi-suburban home to the office where I'm tapping this out. I suspect that few of my readers here will have been through this experience, preferring the air-conditioned comforts of private cars or taxis as I used to do. For me, needs must.
Getting on the platform is literally the first hurdle. The sidewalks and footpath up to the ticket office are invariably blocked by ojeks (motorcycle taxis), their drivers and meals-on-wheels vendors. Once the ticket to town ~ Rp.1,000 (= 8p) ~ has been purchased, I try to find somewhere to sit and wait. This is difficult as most of the benches, made from old rails, are occupied by refreshment stalls, vendors of shoes, pens, eyeglasses, or scavengers having a morning kip.
This is a busy station in terms of genuine passengers but freedom of movement is in short supply for us and, unfortunately, the train frequency does not seem to have increased in line with Jakarta's population growth.
So I usually have time to sit and contemplate life on the opposite platform. This is not a peaceful muse as either Iwan Fals, Indonesia's Bruce Springsteen, or dangdut, the hybrid Bollywood / Arabic music is blasted out from the five stalls selling pirated CDs. Not that I'm grumbling; one of the stalls sells DVDs of exceptional quality in terms of the unlikely films which make their way here.
This platform is also my favourite market. I pay regular weekend visits to buy cheap energy-saver light bulbs, taps and the various bits and bobs which have a very short half-life in these tropical climes. If there is a ticket collector/inspector on duty, a fairly rare occurrence, I tell him that I'm just shopping and he grants access.
During the longer waits there is cross-traffic between the platforms. The shorter than me Indonesians show great agility in getting a leg up given that the platforms are at least chest-high. Why there is the cross-traffic I'm never quite sure. Very occasionally its to have a chat with an acquaintance, but most seem to prefer a shouted sentence or two across the divide.
For some, the tracks are a short cut between their kampungs and the level crossing which serves as the main entrance. For most, the tracks are a convenient place to sweep the detritus away from the stalls or to dump plastic bags and drinks cups. Every so often a scavenger will emerge from his or her nap and collect what is deemed to have value through recycling.
Ah, there comes my train. I'm now sufficiently in tune with my environment to ignore the hordes of rooftop passengers, which denote an even more stoical experience ahead.
I resist the urge. Blog writing pre-supposes that there is a readership for one's musings, but it can be hard work. I resist the urge to bitch about personal details. If I wanted to do that, I'd keep a personal diary ~ under lock and key. So I turn to Random Blogs, linked to on the right, and seek inspiration from others, hoping to find some common threads or blogs which seek to entertain and/or educate rather than pontificate. Or bitch.
So, what do I find?
Moe Dee is "bitchin' because I don't see any 'male odor-prevention' products other than deoderant. Why are there no male crotch sprays or penis wipes? Why don't they have special pads for men on the off chance that they leak during the day or some fluid escapes the penis? Why is feminine odor portrayed as so offensive?"
Then there's Annie Bunny who has singular problems. "I was sweating profusely when I got out of the car. Killed the engine twice in less than an hour. Still hating the stick shift. Death to all phallic symbols!"
Oh boy, I thought. How about a male perspective?
No joy from Ridiculous Redhead either. "Hi. I am getting no respect in this house. I spent 6hrs working on a herdsmanship schedule and my sister comes home and says that's not right and i need to change the format. I was trying soo hard to do it right. and she just comes in and complains... i give up... grrr."
I hate the pink template he's used. I wonder if it matches his ridiculous hair colour?
Sorry. See? Now they've got me bitching.
So I decided to focus on the educational.
Kristian is a Norwegian Buddhist and Spurs fan (eh?).
"These are some of the characteristics of the state of mind which the creation and appreciation of haiku (Bless you) demand: Selflessness, Loneliness, Grateful Acceptance, Wordlessness, Non-intellectuality, Contradictoriness, Humor, Freedom, Non-morality, Simplicity, Materiality, Love, and Courage."
And the inspirational.
Mixed Ravings had the following:
It was a Great Day! "I was lying on the grass, staring at the stars surrounded by thousands of my fellow Canadians, when I realized how good it is to be alive."
And then I got stuck in incomprehension.
Burry Katz seems to be a tolerant sort of guy, but I'm not sure what he's trying to say. "I saw a fifteen-year-old black-hatter kid take his tefillin off by ashrei-uva letzion. Okay, I thought, maybe he has to go to work, or to school, or is in a rush somewhere. His buddy came over to chat and they yukked it up for a while, long after davening was over."
Zelig is Portugese but likes Joseph Arthur. And so do I.
Annakannan probably writes beautifully. His blog is certainly a visual treat although I don't recognize the script let alone the language. Can anyone enlighten me?
OK. Back to Diamond Geezer who never seems to let me down. And lo, he's got a link to an unofficial historian of J.Lyons products. I failed to find a mention of their square fruit pies or the famous tea houses, but the thought of a Mivvi has got me salivating. If I can't resist the urge, I'll have to make do with a Walls Paddle Pop.
If it ain't broke... Due to non-seasonal floods exacerbating the regular traffic chaos, I don't have time to write my little essay comparing politicians with soccer players.
... spend wisely.
Connecting question: Which club won the FA Cup in 1988? Dennis Wise was on the winning side. (And I bet you get the answer wrong!)
Relief from sportsmen?
Or Sport Relief?
My only comment tonight is that the world of sports is warped ~ except for Charlton, of course. As Manager Alan Curbishley says,"....when you look at our finances, we have paid everything owed for all our players and there are no outstanding debts unlike other clubs."
Ding dong, bloody hell It seems that I've always been a Guardian reader and I regularly use their online articles to give a theme for my posts here. I hope my editorial perspective is clear ~ I'm a Brit abroad. If there are echoes to be heard then this may well mean that 'modern' life is rapidly encroaching from the so-called developed world.
That the Guardian now has 9,000,000 unique visitors per month including me to its online edition, is testament to the power of the Internet. If only this was true here. I've moaned before, and no doubt will again, about the intermittent connections from my ISP, Indosat, and that my incoming mail is more than 80% spam*.
What gets my goat though is that more concern is shown by Indosat and Telkom for the vast profits that can be made from handphone users. Too many meetings I go to are interrupted by ringtone muzak or the need to read and write an SMS message. And it is muzak too. A good friend of mine is regularly interrupted with a midi version of Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Torrega. What's wrong with the Segovia version I regularly ask him.
Now I am well aware that the majority of meetings are a complete waste of time devoted to someone reading a press release or to deciding the venue and refreshments for the next one, but it's still bloody rude to switch off the people you can see in order to switch on to one's girl/boy friend. My friend the Reveller agrees.
I'd like to ask every one of my readers who possesses one of these fashion accessories whether you actually need it. Admittedly I once missed a rendezvous in Gambir station due to the lack of one and once I was able to ask 'er indoors to bring a spare pair of glasses to a soccer tournament to replace a broken pair. That's twice in ten years. Is there an alternative to instant communication? Ask yourself what you did before you got one. Try pre-planning, sending an e-mail or postcard. Or waiting until you're comfortably seated with a cup of Java or glass of beer next to your office or home phone. Consider too that one of these gadgets costs more than the statutory minimum monthly wage for an Indonesian family of four.
Consider too that, if you're a man who keeps his phone in a trouser pocket in standby mode that you may be lowering your sperm count.
And if you really think that it's cool to stand at the top or bottom of an escalator, in the middle of a sidewalk or anywhere that you can block free movement and shout your inanities because you can't hear the person who's just rung you, then think again. You're a self-obsessed little ______________ (fill in the blank) and you really piss people off.
Jakartass values his privacy (as, once again, does the Reveller). I know this may seem to be a non sequiter given the public nature of a blog, but if folk want to get hold of me they can always leave a message. If the spammers can, why can't everyone else?
Having got that off my chest, let me congratulate Inspector Sands for the 20,000 page views and 100 posts in just over three months for his All Quiet In The East Stand. He's a Charlton fan like me which partly accounts for the 3,000 page views I've had in the past three months and to note that statistics show that this is also my 100th post. If you're a regular reader, many thanks for sticking with me. And if you're not, why not?
*There is an admirable freeware programme Avirmail which enables you to look at messages whilst they're still on the server rather than downloading them. It has a spam filter but it's quicker to just delete the crap.
And then there were four "The failure of Hamzah Haz and his running mate Agum Gumelar to gain a significant number of votes in the first round of the presidential election was due to a lack funds and a poor spreading of the message during the election campaign," PPP deputy chairman Alimarwan Hanan said earlier today. That says it all really. 3.1% of the votes cast is pretty dismal by any standards but I tend to agree with various pundits who say that the real reason is that the electorate don't trust a man with 3 wives. Bye-bye H.H.
SBY will come in first with c.33% of the votes and with half the ballots counted it looks as if the current president, Megawati, will beat off the challenge of Gen (ret.) Wiranto for the run off election in September. Snide attacks against her seem to have backfired and without an established party base SBY may end up as a one hit wonder. The entrenched forces of Soeharto's old power base, Golkar, represented by Wiranto, will seek cabinet seats from PDI-P and squeeze out SBY who has little but a nice singing voice to rely on.
What is worrying is that no-one has 'spread a message' and moves to form coalitions have begun even before the final result of this round is confirmed. I can see why the Amien Rais campaign team are asking the Election Commission to include a blank box on the ballot paper for the final round. This would be a legitimate way for electors to exercise their newly won democratic rights whilst declaring their distrust of getting more of the same old, same old.
This election has proved that Indonesians are quite sophisticated politically and can't be bought; the majority of the political parties' members did not support the candidate backed by their party. It is now time for politicians to do the job they were elected for and not the one they bought.
Iv'e allways beleeved that wen u rite enything four publikation, every efffort must be maid to cheque for grammaticall errers, spelling misteaks, and for the correkt use of punktuasion. The Grauniad agrees wiv me.
The Oxford University Press blame it all on spellcheckers. Copy and Paste the following into Word and run the Spelling and Grammar option from Tools.
ODE TO SPELL CHECKERS
I have a spelling checker
I disk covered four my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot see.
Eye ran this poem threw it.
Your sure real glad two no
Its very polished in its weigh,
My checker tolled me sew.
A checker is a blessing.
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles to reed,
And aides me when aye rime.
Each frays comes posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule
The checker pours o'er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.
Bee fore wee rote with checkers
Hour spelling was in deck line,
Butt now when wee dew have a laps,
Wee are not maid to wine.
And now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
There are know faults in awl this peace,
Of nun eye am a wear.
To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should be proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaws are knot aloud.
That's why eye brake in two averse
Cuz eye dew want to please.
Sow glad eye yam that I did bye
This soft wear four pea seas.
The Internet is blamed for the lowering of literacy. Blogs and e-mails are treated as a spoken, rather a written, medium. It can also be blamed for plagiarism because I can't remember who I ode this post to.
A Clarification To all Wardens and Honorary Consuls
Some of you may have picked up on the news that the Travel Advice for Indonesia has changed. For you own information and in case you are asked the following is an explanation of these changes. The important issue is the removal of "avoid all non-essential travel to Indonesia". However, this does not mean any reduction in the level of threat.
There is further explanation on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office web site www.fco.gov.uk under "News Wire" "Latest Headlines"
Explanatory Note on change to UK travel advice for Indonesia
After a worldwide review of Travel Advice, ordered by the Foreign Secretary in December 2003, the UK Government approach to travel advice has been changed. The Foreign Secretary announced these changes in his written statement to Parliament on 22 June 2004 (attached*). The main change is that "in the case of intelligence-based terrorist threats, HMG will advise against travel to a specific country only in situations of extreme and "imminent danger". In addition the language and phrases used in travel advice have been changed to make travel advice sharper and more user friendly.
Our travel advice for Indonesia has therefore changed In line with the worldwide changes, we have removed the reference to "avoid all non-essential travel to Indonesia". These changes should not be seen as downgrading the terrorist threat in Indonesia. The change is simply to be as open and descriptive as possible in order to allow British nationals to make an informed decision about whether to travel.
Her Majesty's Consul-General
(62) (21) 319 01314
* no attachment was found in the Jakartass inbox.
Visit http://www.fco.gov.uk for British foreign policy news and travel advice; and http://www.i-uk.com - the essential guide to the UK.
Please note that all messages sent and received by members of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and its missions overseas may be monitored centrally. This is done to ensure the integrity of the system.
Please note too that the above supercedes the advice found on Google by typing British Embassy*Jakarta. This is "Version 18/2002 updated at 09.30 October 25 2002 and no. 2 in the Google list of 33,500 pages !!
(See my post of 28th May this year for further info about our concern for relevant info from H.M. Govt.)
I won't tell you the provisional results of the presidential election based on votes counted by the General Elections Commission (KPU) as of 9:45 p.m. on Tuesday as I'm sure you don't really want to know.
You do? Oh, all right then ...
No. Candidates Votes %
1. Susilo-Kalla 15,419,780 33.52 %
2. Mega-Hasyim 12,290,022 26.72 %
3. Wiranto-Wahid 10,182,081 22.14 %
4. Amien-Siswono 6,618,954 14.39 %
5. Hamzah-Agum 1,488,224 3.24 %
Total 45,999,061 100 %
What is important is that the travel advisory issued by the British Government has been extensively revised today and visitors can now get travel insurance. And about bloody time to.
If I don't got that, I don't got nothing. ! don't have any bluegrass music in my collection, unless I count the wonderful Coen brothers movie O Brother, Where Art Thou on DVD. But I had to have that quote from Jimmy Martin, currently the "hottest man on the US festival circuit", as a title.
I see that the music industry still wants to sell albums in spite of the success of digital downloading and piracy. One answer is to bring the cost down. Now, there's a bright idea. I am somewhat bemused though by the notion of the three-tier system proposed by the Bertelsmann's boss. "The no-frills version will look virtually identical to a pirate copy, with only the title printed directly on the disc. It will cost ?9.99 - about £6.70." Well, it might look like a pirate copy, but at five times the cost here the price doesn't.
And now to the hottest news here. According to Weatherpixie, which I can now see courtesy of the very fast Firefox browser, it's over 30ºC in the shade. Oh, and in my street at least, the Presidential Election is proceeding peacefully. There's a polling booth at the end so no traffic can get through. No bajajs, no ojeks, no rowdy kids. Ah, peace. 'Ér indoors has voted for Mega, though she'd have preferred to have voted for Golkar. Unfortunately, Gen. (ret.) Wiranto doesn't inspire confidence as he's the only candidate who wants a role for the army separate from civilian control. And so at least one voter has made a choice based on a political platform. Or lack of one.
That today is historic is undeniable; the first direct elections for a President in sixty years is a massive step away from authoritarianism. I'm not going to make a prediction about the result. In common with most commentators and observers, I hope that there isn't an outright winner today. If there isn't, then the top two face a run off in September. That gives time for a coherent mission and strategy to emerge, thus giving electors an informed choice.
Whatever Jakarta citizens may wish, and I suspect that Amien Rais may be the 'winner' here, the election results will be determined in the kampongs away from the conurbations.
The General Elections Commission (KPU) has "a more advanced, more secure computerized vote counting system". However, as the chairman said, "Don't expect too much. It's a man-made system and there's always the possibility of failure." To watch it crash in real time, CTRL + click here.
Bits and Pieces "It's .... getting more and more difficult to find something new to write about each day given that absolutely nothing at all appears to be changing, but I'll keep trying." So wrote Diamond Geezer yesterday.
I've written to him offline because I remain in slight awe of his style and because he also wrote that his "ISP installed spam-blocking software at the end of January and now only a few rogue Russians slip through the net." My Indonesian ISP ~ Indosat ~ is so busy selling cards for handphones that they don't give a s**t about their Internet subscribers with landlines. Over 80% of my Indosat mail is spam, with the occasional virus being blocked by Norton. When my credit with Indosat is exhausted I'll be using the SMTP facility of our website server ~ Catalyst2 in Ulster if anyone's interested.
Jakartass would love to hear from anyone here who can give a positive testimonial for an Indonesian company which understands the concept of Customer Service. Oh, and provides it too.
Still on computer related stuff, following my recent re-format I discovered that I'd have to download a Java console as Internet Explorer doesn't now include it. And then, thanks to the b3taweekly newsletter, I've now discovered a free very user-friendly alternative browser ~ Firefox, which is Java enabled. The only negative comment I have to make about it is that in adding links to my postings, it isn't possible to copy and paste from the Properties box of offline web pages. You have to copy and type.
Today's title is related thematically to the success of iPod and iTunes. Apparently, there are now more tracks being downloaded than bought in record stores, so Radio 1 is to be allowed to broadcast a chart of top downloaded tracks. This presumably means that concept albums and extended mixes are going the way of 78s, 8-track cartridges and reel-to-reel tapes. Compilations, random tracking and instant soundbites are in and attention spans get shorter.
I'm not against digital music per se. I've got nigh on 40 gigabytes of music stored on my computer, much of it being complete albums from my CD collection. However, I can't get my thoughts together with random moods. Compilations can be fun; available here on pirated DVDs are 2 volumes of Ready, Steady, Go, the classic 60?s Rediffusion TV show with the Beatles, Animals, Rolling Stones, Lulu and Our Cilla lip-synching their way with joyous abandon through classic hits. As do the Dave Clark Five. These compilations are marketed by Dave Clark International Productions. He must be feeling Glad All Over.
Finally, an update of yesterday's posting.
1. Marlon Brando issued instructions months ago that details of his final hours and arrangements for his funeral be withheld from the press and public. It would have pained Brando - who espoused civil rights and pro-environment causes - to find President George W. Bush among those paying homage.
2. Sunandrio was buried yesterday in the same cemetery as Mochtar Lubis, Jeruk Purut cemetery in South Jakarta.
Now to listen to some mood music for a bit of peace.
2. Mochtar Lubis died on Friday aged 72. The noted writer-journalist, who was born on March 7, 1922, in Padang, West Sumatra, was a celebrated novelist and respected journalist who co-founded the Indonesia Raya daily in 1949.
Mochtar was jailed for nine years, from 1957 to 1966, due to his critical writing as the daily's chief editor, in Madiun, East Java, along with other nationalist figures, including Sjahrir, Mohammad Roem and Soebadio Sastrosatomo, who were also critical of the first president Sukarno.
The regime backed by the military then led by Gen. AH Nasution banned the daily six times after 1957. The daily's reports that caused the government's anger included the affair of Sukarno with Hartini, whom he eventually married. The reports led to his earlier wife, Fatmawati, leaving the presidential palace. The daily also reported a case of suspected bribery involving former Prime Minister Roeslan Abdulgani and some businessmen.
Under the New Order, President Soeharto permitted Indonesia Raya to resume publication in 1968 but banned it in 1974 following the daily's report on corruption in state oil and gas company Pertamina. The newspaper was not published again.
Mochtar joined Antara state news agency as a journalist in 1945 and cofounded the Horison literary magazine. He received the Ramon Magsasay Award from the Philippines for his work in journalism and literature in 1974.
He wrote several novels, including his Harimau, Harimau! (Tiger, Tiger!), Senja di Jakarta (Twilight in Jakarta) and Jalan Tak Ada Ujung (Endless Road).
(These were not available in bookshops here until after the downfall of Soeharto. My copies were bought in Singapore and London.)
3. Subandrio was almost a forgotten man when he died yesterday of natural causes aged 90, yet he only lived because of the intervention of Britain's Queen Elizabeth and the then U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson.
A former Indonesian foreign minister who also served as deputy prime minister during the Sukarno presidency, he was sentenced to death in 1966 for his alleged involvement in the Sept. 30, 1965 coup, which was blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). His sentence was commuted, thanks in part to HRH Liz and LBJ, to life imprisonment and Subandrio was released in 1995.
The coup attempt eventually led Sukarno to hand power to strategic reserve commander General Soeharto, who had taken steps to crush the communists. There is widespread belief among educated Indonesians that Soeharto was the guiding force behind the coup.
Subandrio denied involvement in the coup attempt and in 2000 appealed to then president Abdurrahman Wahid to clear his name. To my knowledge, this has yet to be resolved.
Unlike Jamal Saleh who provided my posting yesterday, their graves will be marked and visited. Marlon Brando's funeral will probably be televised and attended by George Bush. Mochtar Lubis was buried this afternoon at the Jeruk Purut cemetery in South Jakarta. I somehow doubt that Subandrio has a plot in the Heroes Cemetery in Kalibata, but he will be remembered.
Grave News Oh dear. Life can be so sad sometimes. At times I really wish that I had the problems of a recent Jakartass correspondent. I've decided to share his unfortunate circumstances and vast fortune with you so I can feel better. However, the less said about the "defiling" of his medicine, the better.
As you read this message, I don't want you to feel sorry for me, because, I believe everyone will die someday (You're right on that one mate)
My name is Jamal Saleh, a merchant in Dubai, in the UAE. I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer, which was discovered very late, due to my laxity in caring for my health. It has defiled all forms of medicine, and right now I have only about a few months to live, according to medical experts.
I have no particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone not even myself but my business. Though I am very rich, I was never generous, (Probably how you got rich, tight ass.) I was always hostile to people and only focused on my business as that was the only thing I really cared for. But now I regret all this, as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world. I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it now. (Too late for hindsight. Or should that be foresight?)
Now that God! Has called me, I have willed and giving most of my properties and assets to my immediate and extended family members and as well as a few close friends. I want God to be merciful to me and accept my soul and so, I have decided to give alms to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth. So far, I have distributed money to charity organizations in U.A.E, Algeria and Malaysia. Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this my self any more. I once asked members of my family to close one of my bank accounts and distribute the money in it to charity organization in Bulgaria and Pakistan, the refused and kept the money to them selves. Hence, I do not trust them anymore, as they seem not to be contended with what I have left for them. (They probably contend that you should have helped them before.)
The last of my money, which no one knows about, is the huge cash deposit of US$18.5m (Eighteen million five hundred thousand US dollars) that I have kept with a security firm in Europe. I will want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatch it to charity organizations. If you are willing to help me, please send me an email at: email@example.com
I have set aside 10% of the total amount for your time and patience.
Thank you and God be with you.
Seriously folks, I'm going to wait until his demise and the certainty of a letter from his close relative. I'm sure s/he'll offer me a bigger cut.
Failing that, I'll go and defile his grave. I know I'll be able to find it here.
When he writes, one should take heed.
Just this once, I've decided to write very little. Although next Monday will see the first ever direct election for the Indonesian President ~ a truly historic event, I cannot find anything of substance to relate. All candidates promise a better life, higher salaries for teachers and lower unemployment, but none seem to offer anything beyond their charisma, if they've got any.
In 1999 World Press Review honored the Indonesian editor Goenawan Mohamad as International Editor of the Year. The award goes to an editor outside the United States in recognition of enterprise, courage, and leadership in advancing the freedom and responsibility of the press, enhancing human rights, and fostering excellence in journalism.
He has long been associated with Tempo, which was banned by Suharto towards the end of the New Order era. Now this weekly magazine, which offers commentary and analysis of Indonesian affairs, thrives and is published in both Indonesian and English. I've given a permanent link on the right to the online Tempo Interactive, from which the following article has been lifted.
Post-Majapahit? INDONESIA is entering an exciting time. This republic, as it nears its 60th birthday, is on the threshold of a different political life. In 2004, for the first time the people will directly choose their head of state - something people in Nusantara have not experienced since the time of Majapahit.
It is true that the republic has had five presidents. But in 1945 Sukarno was chosen by the members of the Preparatory Committee for National Independence. And until the time that he was toppled in 1966, Sukarno, "he who enthralled the people", actually sat there in his position without ever going through a general election.
There was an election in 1955 of course, the one and only election during Bung Karno's leadership, but it was only the people's representatives who were voted in. There has never been a vote for the head of state. For in 1958, a system of "Guided Democracy" was introduced, and the elected parliament was dismissed. Bung Karno took the position of "Great Leader of the Revolution". A few years later, he agreed to the political elite of the time making him "President-for-Life".
And from then on, there was never any thought about who would replace Sukarno. He was the one and only "pillar" of the Republic. As time went on, the entire system became increasingly centered on him. His praises were heard everywhere, similar to the cult-like leader worship we know from the RRC towards Mao. Newspapers not yet banned were made to publish writings of the Great Leader; poets and singers lauded him, and all kinds of "grand" titles were offered him.
In such a climate, the independence of various institutions is lost. Even the Chief Justice had the status of a mere minister, as just one of many assistants of The Great Leader. Those political parties that were allowed to exist seemed to have verve and to compete, but were eventually also dependent on the will of Bung Karno.
Even the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), the dominant party of the time, displayed the same dependence-syndrome. Along with the military, even though ideologically in opposition to them, the PKI supported the system of "Guided Democracy". The PKI helped to strengthen the authoritative position of the ruler, especially through pressuring the government to disband parties and organizations it did not like. And so there was no fertile ground for socio-political power outside of the orbit of Bung Karno. When, towards the end of 1965, the news spread that Sukarno was ill (he was 64 at the time), Indonesia was tense. It all erupted in the event called "G-30-S" (the 30 September Movement) at the end of September, 1965.
People still debate what and who actually caused the murder of some generals considered "counter-revolutionary" and "anti-Bung Karno". But one thing is clear: the president himself was the only source of determining right and wrong.
In 1966, that president was overthrown. And then there was violence the like of which had never been seen in modern Indonesian history. After that late September, thousands upon thousands of members of the PKI, or people considered to be close to the party, were arrested or slaughtered. The party itself, after its leaders were murdered, had no way to survive. It had lost initiative. And meanwhile, a military group under the leadership of Suharto was the one that moved forward, with all kinds of new initiatives.
"Guided Democracy" was annulled. The military leadership that emerged at the time with the support of the politicians and civil technocrats, tried to form a new order. The "New Order" was born. But its system of power was actually still a variant of its predecessor?in many places even intensifying the repression of "Guided Democracy". The fear that spread following the cruelty over the years 1965-66 continued. In the name of "security", there was almost total control over people's lives.
Just as Bung Karno stood firm as "Great Leader of the Revolution", President Suharto in the "New Order" ended up steering the People's Consultative Assembly (DPR) and House of Representatives (MPR). He actively determined the design and leadership of the political parties. He suppressed the judiciary. He and his agencies maintained control over the press. Regular elections were introduced, but Suharto was not chosen directly by the people?and in the "election" by MPR, no competitors were allowed. There was also no limit on the number of presidential terms.
Inevitably, things went awry. The "New Order" which for 30 years was more effective in tidying up bureaucracy and making it more effective, was often considered to be a system that placed the State in a powerful position. But gradually, "The State" became just a bogie: frightening, but one was never sure it was really there. What was really there and wielding power was a Suharto. The system that started out as authoritarian-bureaucratic over time turned into a system like that of Bung Karno's "Guided Democracy: autocratic. And the praises towards the president himself also started to reflect this. He was given the title "Father of Development", and his picture appeared on all kinds of billboards.
But the more that power was centered in him, the more the Republic of Indonesia became synonymous with the house of Jalan Cendana. Suharto's children were more powerful than the ministers and generals. They easily manipulated government regulations for success in building up wealth and power.
So Suharto could not avoid becoming the single target when the economic crisis hit in 1997. The wave of student protests and pressure from various quarters finally made Suharto resign.
After Suharto's resignation, the presidents who followed tried to change the system. Particularly B.J. Habibie: free and secret elections were held; there was freedom to form political parties; the mass media no longer required licenses and therefore could no longer be closed down. But until Habibie was replaced by Abdurrahman Wahid, and Wahid was replaced by Megawati, the president was still chosen by the MPR which, as in "New Order" times, was the highest authority in determining the basic decisions for the life of the Republic.
But reformation continued, although without much fanfare. Under Amien Rais's leadership, the MPR revised various parts of the foundation of the political system. After experiencing the negative effects of the power of two presidents never replaced over more than half a century, the need was felt to limit the term of the head of state. It was thus decided that the president could serve a maximum of only two terms. The president could also be chosen from any group, not only from "native Indonesians", an ethnic categorization whose meaning was vague. And, no less important, the president was to be chosen directly by the people. In a historic move, the MPR stripped itself of its own power, and a democracy different to the "New Order" was born.
In this, one could say half in jest that Indonesia has entered the "post-Majapahit" era. This era arrived with the 21st century: the direct vote of the president by the people first needed a familiarization process. Indonesia extends over 13,000 islands and a population of 220 million, with infinite diversity. It is no easy matter for a candidate to be known to the voters.
The political parties are one of the go-betweens in this familiarization process. This is why someone who wants to become president needs this organization. But changing the system leads to a situation where direct campaigning becomes more important. This is something specifically 21st century, where campaigning takes on methods used in business, via the market.
And it is here that the presidential hopefuls strut their stuff, tout their views and agenda, and offer their best, so as to get chosen ? just like bath products or cooking spices are flashed to attract consumers. Advertisements become a medium impossible to ignore, and television, which is where Indonesians get 90 percent of their information, then becomes tremendously important.
The influence of television has not yet been precisely measured, but it is estimated that it has a huge effect on the loyalty of voters. The election of the DPR members last April showed that. The drastic decline of the PDI-P vote was a sign that the emotional tie to that party, because of both socio-economic and cultural background, has weakened. The increase in the vote for the Democrat Party, a new party that does not yet have the neat structure and organization of the Prosperous Justice Party, is thought to have been because of the positive image of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. This image is certainly because of his presentation on television: his is a new face that appears to be unsullied by the political life of the Reformasi period with its hangover of confusion and disappointment.
Advertisements and television, like media in general, can create illusions. Advertisements are half-lies, and television exists precisely because of distance. They are both high cost. There is the possibility that dependence on this media will make citizens cast their vote because of illusions broadcast forcefully and repeatedly, not because of the quality of a candidate. This is what is generally agreed to have happened in the elections in Italy and Thailand, where the prime ministers are known as people who manipulate the mass media, even though they are not people usually thought of as "clean" or wise.
The high cost of campaigning with electronic media also means that candidates without the funds are shunted aside. This situation encourages the mobilization of huge sums of money for a political fight which should actually be far removed from considerations of wealth.
But there is also the view that the role of advertising and television can redirect funds that would otherwise be used for money politics, the euphemism for "buying votes". Once elections are secret, buying votes is no longer very effective. It then becomes more effective to spend money buying airtime.
And there is one thing that the campaign-on-television these days promises of new democratic life. On the screen, people can see that X, who may later govern Indonesia, is no great figure arriving with aura from on high.
Candidates are people who come and knock at our doors, offering something, including their face and their deeds. They are people who can be asked all kinds of things in talk shows, and can even be criticized in public. The interviewers, if they dare, can even ask about sources of private wealth, and how many wives the candidate has.
And in this way, the presidential throne is no longer shrouded in aura. The president will appear as an ordinary person, with ambition and power, but also with memory lapses and weaknesses. Brilliant or not, the president needs us. Even Megawati, who in 1999 seemed to be distant and who rarely spoke, is now beginning to realize how important it is to seek the approval of the street.
And gradually, leaders will no longer need divine inspiration and the people will become the arbiters. One hopes that Indonesia will fully comprehend this "post-Majapahit" wisdom: leaders are not perfect beings, but rather people who want to better themselves and their surroundings. As the Chinese proverb says: "A great leader is a curse to a country."