Friday, December 31, 2004
  You have to try to do your bit.

The response from countries far away, such as the UK, has been heart warming; from individuals, such as children selling their Xmas presents, to each English Premier League side donating 50,000 pounds and my home club, Charlton Athletic, doubling their donation.

Charlton captain Matt Holland said: "Just watching the pictures of the disaster on television has been horrifying, so I can barely imagine what it must be like to be involved in such a catastrophe.

"I think a lot of people feel helpless, but by contributing to the disaster relief fund everyone can play their part in saving further lives and helping the region to recover. That's certainly what we feel at Charlton, and that is what has prompted the further donation by the directors, players and staff."

The online community has generally responded well too. We bloggers have shared personal accounts - "Everyone seemed to have a role. Mine was that of news reporter. Telephone company. And someone who was trying to bring some facts in to the situation. And I also served as a listener." - pointed to resources and appealed for aid whilst a vast range of information has been contributed to the Wiki Encyclopaedia.

This is the power of the individual; the sum of the parts making a collective difference.

Whilst news gathering from Aceh remains the province of news correspondents such as the Guardian's John Aglionby, questions are now being raised about the effectiveness of the aid efforts.

The problem is twofold: the need for co-ordination and the lack of transport and communications infrastructures.

Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said today that heads of state or their special representatives from the tsunami-affected countries, as well as major aid donors and international organisations, would be invited to an international tsunami summit on Jan. 6th. "The meeting is aimed at consolidating joint commitment for emergency assistance and also for future rehabilitation and reconstruction of the affected countries," he said.

But there is an urgency to get much needed food and medicines to the survivors now, not next week.

"The indications are the disaster is going to be a lot worse than we have anticipated already," United Nations Children's Fund communications director John Budd said in Jakarta. "Aceh really is ground zero ... there are miles and miles and miles of nothing."

Budd said there was a desperate shortage of food and fuel across the remote province, which had already suffered from a lack of infrastructure due to a decades-long violent battle between separatist rebels and the government.

So it doesn't help that Indonesian troops are still conducting their war against the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

While volunteers, security officers and families are busy collecting and searching for the bodies of victims killed in Sunday's catastrophic tsunami in Aceh, soldiers are continuing their offensive against separatist rebels. A recent cease-fire offered by the military for Free Aceh Movement (GAM) members, whose hideouts were not affected by the tsunami, appear to be mere rhetoric.

Other countries seem to have their priorities better organised.

A U.S. carrier battle group is due to anchor off Sumatra island today to spearhead an unprecedented multinational military effort to assist the survivors of last weekend's quake and tsunamis.

"The United States is not there to take over the rescue or relief effort," an unnamed official said. "We are there to provide whatever help they decide they need."

Presumably as part of the "multinational military effort", Singapore is opening up its air and naval bases to countries seeking to send relief supplies into tsunami-wracked Indonesia, Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Friday. Airport facilities at Banda Aceh and Medan, nearest the devastated areas, are "currently overstretched," he told a news briefing.

Things are going to get worse, much worse in Aceh and North Sumatra.

"There's no food, there's no fuel, it's a cruel situation. If we get food in, say, rice, there is no pure water or fuel to cook it. We are desperately trying to break this cycle," John Budd said.

We must continue to do our bit, not only in 2005 but in the years ahead.

Think positive. It's time we changed the world.



6:00 pm |
Thursday, December 30, 2004
  Vigil in Jakarta

A prayer vigil is being held in Jakarta tonight.

Masli, the husband of Ida, a school friend of 'Er Indoors, has rung Ida from Banda Aceh to say that there is no trace of their house or their daughters. Inside were Yuli, 24, wife of Abral, and their year old daughter, Novi, 22, due to graduate as a doctor next year and Cut Nong, 12, awaiting school results in order to enroll in junior high here in Jakarta.

Hope has been extinguished.

Most of Abral's family is missing as well. He was in Medan on business when the tsunami struck.

We never saw Ida's granddaughter, but Ida, Masli and their daughters visited here several times, the last time being Idul Fitri last year. Another daughter, Dewi, remained in Jakarta and stayed with us for six months to complete her schooling whilst the rest of the family ran a restaurant in Banda Aceh.

This feeling of loss is shared by many, many thousands of families across Indonesia and in the other affected countries around the Indian Ocean.

It is impossible to find adequate words.

Light a candle


10:31 pm |
  Heads In The Sand

Whilst the red and white flies at half mast throughout Indonesia there is indifference, if not downright callousness elsewhere.

Tony Blair, one of the leaders of the 'Free World', waited until yesterday before offering his prayers. Thanks, Tone.

The British Foreign Office has updated its travel advisory.
"Security concerns" ?? The 'state of civil emergency' has been lifted and there is a truce between the Free Aceh Movement and the Indonesian government. The Province of Aceh is now under central government control, with SBY spending much of this week there and VP Kalla is co-ordinating efforts in Jakarta. "Foreign diplomats and volunteers, including doctors, social and humanitarian workers and engineers, have been given clearance to go to Aceh," Kalla said. A visa-on-arrival can be obtained at Medan and Banda Aceh airports.

As for the civilian unrest elsewhere, Christian and Muslim communities in Ambon are working together to collect basic supplies and funds.

Elsewhere, in Phuket tourists are intent on not missing their holidays.
Four days after the tidal wave hit, normal life has returned to much of Phuket and surrounding resorts such as Patong. The 'girlie' bars are reopening, the bazaars selling rip-off Rolex watches are busy, the tourists are streaming off flights and on to the beach.

The only problem ... were delays caused to commercial passenger flights by the unprecedented number of aircraft landing at the airport. The congestion is due to aid flights coming in and planes bearing the dead, injured and badly shaken out.

Back in Britain, my online friend Inspector Sands is disgusted that the UK Daily Mail focuses on the deaths of three members of Lord Richard Attenborough's family.
"And now, foreign news - famous British man loses three members of his family, 69,000 foreigners also die."

To give the Mail some credit, its online version does devote 238 words (only?) to its lead story: Tsunami disaster toll nears 100,000.

But it's not just the Brits who are self-obsessed. According to Tim Blair, some Pommie-bashers have been given too much attention in the press.
Sydney couple Dave and Joanne Ali were on their honeymoon at Phutong Beach and were just getting out of bed when the first wave hit. Joanne Ali says they felt abandoned because many other countries were evacuating their nationals from the devastated region.

The pair - who, unlike 24,000 others, are not dead - were able to leave on their scheduled flight home.

And good riddance.



2:30 pm |
  This is another extensive list of organisations accepting donations for Indonesian relief, both national and international:

You can make a difference.
Just by spreading the call for help.



1:00 am |
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
  If you want this banner on your web pages, email me for the code.

Two substantial offers of co-ordination


If you think and feel you want to help, you can send your donations, funds, clothes, items that you don't need anymore but still good to the PATA Bali headquarter, at the Renon BTB office.

Contact Evie, phone: +62.361.226578 Fax: +62.361.226579,
e-mail: patabalinusra@dps.centrin.net.id

When all funds and items are collected, PATA Bali Chapter will co-operate with The Rotary Club of Medan or other trustfull organization in North Sumatra to deliver these help to the right people in need.

Kind regards,
Al Purwa, MBA


This is URGENT

There is a 200 ton ferry leaving Padang port tomorrow, Thursday, with relief supplies for the islands off the west coast of Sumatra.

Padang FM are broadcasting to collect material such as bottled water, rice, matches, cooking ware, tarps, tents, medical supplies and more:

Chris and Chris at Hotel Batan Arau are ready to store material, food and equipment until these can be loaded on boats.
Padang residents can drop aid packages at:
Hotel Batang Arau,
Jl Batang Arau No 33.
Phone 27400

For packages sent by mail or courier, please use the following address:
PT Mentawai Wisata Bahari
Jl Kesatria No. 6
Ganting, Padang
West Sumatra

See http://www.mentawai.com/aceh.html for further details.



10:30 pm |
  The following appeal is being sent by British expats in Indonesia to the football teams they support. I'm addressing this appeal to my fellow Charlton fans. The club has had a very joyful December. Indonesia hasn't.

A nation in mourning

Dark clouds are casting a long shadow over Indonesia's capital city Jakarta at the moment. And it's not because of the rainy season or that the national side under the management of Peter Withe lost 2-1 at home to Malaysia in the semi finals of the Tiger Cup on Tuesday night (28/12). No, it's much worse than that. Much, much worse. Players of both sides were wearing black armbands that night for a very good reason indeed.

What has swung the mood from the usual year-end festive joy to one of utter despondency for Indonesians is the growing realization that many thousands of their countryfolk have perished in the recent tsunami that has caused death and destruction in coastal communities across Asia.

Aceh, a very rugged and remote region at the northernmost tip of the huge island of Sumatra, has been battered beyond belief. Although Jakarta is completely unaffected, harrowing news footage has been broadcast into the capital city's homes. And TV broadcasters in Indonesia are not like the BBC or CNN. They do not shy away from showing the terrible consequences of a tragedy like this. One image in particular will be etched in my mind forever: seven or eight drowned babies placed side by side in a small room, with peaceful expressions on their innocent faces, but nonetheless lost forever. And then there was the woman who had lost all her seven kids; she was left to curse the fact that she was still alive.

The death toll in Indonesia will be far higher than first expected. Initial reports suggested around 5,000 deaths; but the authorities are now looking at 30,000-40,000 plus. In one town on the western coast of Aceh, Meulaboh, a quarter of its 40,000 population have been wiped out.

Although nothing can be done to help those that have died, those still alive desperately need help. Many are starving, have no shelter and are at risk of contracting deadly diseases. The already poor communications and transport systems have to be built anew in order to reach these people.

If you are able to make a donation - however small - you would be helping to prevent people from dying.

IndonesiaHelp, a weblog, has been set up to give online information to donors.

Thank you.



7:00 pm |
  Indonesia Help
Enda Nasution has opened a blog giving online information about resources, aid and donations for quake and tsunami victims in Aceh & North Sumatra.

International Aid Organisations
(scroll down)



10:30 am |
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
  Indonesian bloggers are rather quiet today with a couple of notable exceptions.

Jerm provides a link to an animated .gif of the path of the tsunami, which is not this one:

This gives rise to the question of why countries further afield didn't receive sufficient warning of its arrival. "At least two-thirds of the people who died should not have died," a natural disaster expert, Bill McGuire of University College London, told the Guardian. "They could have had an hour or so to get a kilometre or two inland or to reach high ground."

Enda Nasution has compiled the following list for residents and visitors wishing to make donations.

Aid in the form of tents, kitchen utensils, cemetery tools, medicine, baby foods, goods for women, generator set, clothes, blankets, fresh water can be left in local Welfare Offices (Puskesmas) or at Halim Perdanakusuma, the airport in South Jakarta.

The following bank accounts have been opened:
1. Indosiar
Name: Indosiar
a/c no: 001 - 304 - 0009

Name: RCTI
a/c no: 128 - 300 -7000

3. Metro TV
BCA Branch: Kedoya Baru
a/c no: 309 - 3007979

4. Coordinator of Peoples' Welfare, Rep. of Indonesia
Name: I Nyoman Meweh (Head of Welfare Bureau)
Branch: Harmoni
a/c no: 07 000 311 2717 911

Readers with details of other local appeals are asked to contact Jakartass, Java Jive or Enda Nasution.

An online Candle Memorial for the Aceh victims can be viewed here.

For worldwide details in one place, the Wikipedia Encyclopaedia may be the best source.



7:00 pm |
  It is chilling how slowly coverage of the disaster (let alone the disaster itself) emerges from Indonesia, while 'shots' of other places were on TV on Sun evening those from Aceh etc are barely emerging although the Indonesian TV news (daily half hour) gave some indications yesterday (yet I don't understand Bahasa ).

So much for communication. What happens on the ground is of more importance.
A paternalist or worse may think 'just what would happen to any aid funds' ?!?
C (Australia)

Although the Jakarta Post has seen its traffic increase spectacularly, a strangely inappropriate word, it has not, as has been reported, down for long. It still gives the most relevant information and is, as I've said before, an honourable news source. It also places the local disaster in the context of the international situation. So keep checking its stories.

The following, at 9.30 am, may give you some hope C, and, indeed, all of us.

Firstly, SBY, who spent Xmas in the earthquake shattered province of Papua, is currently in Aceh displaying the 'hands on' approach lacking in three previous, still living, presidents. Vice President Kalla, also seeing the disaster for himself, is co-ordinating the aid programme.

The Army (TNI) has called a truce in its war against the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) so that both sides can focus their efforts on their humanitarian roles. Note that at least 377 TNI personnel have been confirmed dead.

A major concern is that the current state of emergency in Aceh bars foreigners from entering the province. This may hamper the efforts of international agencies to assist. I say 'may', because they are obviously well-positioned to oversee operations given their history of territorial control.

Update 7.35pm
Secretary to the coordinating minister for people's welfare Sutedjo Juwono said Jakarta-based foreign journalists could go directly to Aceh after they had secured a pass from local military authorities.

"However, aid workers and journalists not based here are required to submit application letters... which may take two weeks (to process)," Sutedjo said.

As for the 'slippage' of financial aid, given that the Governor of Aceh, Abdullah Puteh, went on trial for corruption yesterday, there may be less that expected.

Finally, C, yes it is true that news has been slow to emerge. Indonesia was in a soporific holiday mode. Most TV stations continued their broadcasting of dangdut and quix shows during the evening, apart from Metro TV, that is, our news station, as reported by Java Jive. But this seems to be the callous truth elsewhere.

That's it from me for now. I'll give a further personal perspective later.

Thanks for your messages. We're fine, although still awaiting news from family in Medan, which experienced the earthquake but, thankfully, not the tsunami.



10:15 am |
Monday, December 27, 2004

The travel advisories I usually write about were, as expected, unnecessary. It was a generally quiet Christmas in Indonesia, celebrated both spiritually and materially.

Then news arrived yesterday of the massive devastation caused by the largest earthquake in 50 years and the resulting tsunami, seemingly the largest since the eruption of Krakatau in 1883.

Indonesia, situated in the Ring of Fire, is prone to volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis. One wonders if the tragic death toll is not also a man-made disaster. Earthquakes are recorded on the Richter scale to the nearest decimal point, and yesterday's was 8.9, and this information is immediately available through satellite connections. Where was the early warning system?

And that must be a purely rhetorical question. In Aceh and India, the majority killed and lost were fishermen and their dependents living on subsistence incomes. These people do not have the so-called benefits of modern communications.

As Brandon of Java Jive reports, there is no way of contacting tourists in Thailand and Sumatra either. Tourists may wish to remain deliberately incommunicado, diving, snorkeling and sunbathing, although one could expect those working in the tourism industry to have ready access to communications.

There is, of course, a correlation between poor communities and tourism. Paradise on Earth is often perceived as a secluded palm fringed beach. Until the advent of jumbo jets and the tourism industry, these are the homes of poor fishermen. Displaced, firstly by backpackers' bungalows and later by exclusive resorts, if they are lucky they get employed by the new industry.

Perhaps the luckiest yesterday were those who had to go to the cities to support their families.

Residents of Jakarta are seemingly immune from natural disasters. Brandon and I may live "only 2 miles from the coastline in North Jakarta" but, because Jakarta lies on a coastal plain, we rarely feel tremors and the annual floods are the result of greed, the building of housing complexes and shopping malls on land designated as green areas in the now corrupted city plans.

Check Rajan's blog for links to other Asian bloggers reporting the major story of 2004 and the Jakarta Post for regular updates of the Indonesian situation.

PS. 3pm. Family friends are still unable to contact their family in Banda Aceh.


10:30 am |
Sunday, December 26, 2004
  Boxing Day Blues

A surfeit of good food, a healthy dose of good friends and happy kids to the good and torrential rain, massive leaks and faulty electrics to the bad. That was going to be my post-Xmas story.

Then I heard the news about the earthquake and tsunami.

This makes my musings seem very trivial.



10:30 pm |
Saturday, December 25, 2004
Have a nice day.

Or two.



12:01 am |
Friday, December 24, 2004
  Christmas under custody?

Perhaps no one ever imagined that the citizens of this country would need a police guard to commune with God; yet, this has now become a reality. Is God being held hostage by worldly threats, or is it the people?

For the past several years, security has been a top priority during religious holidays, and this Christmas is no exception: Police have been deployed to guard churches throughout the country, especially in major cities and conflict areas. In some places, military troops are providing reinforcement.

It is not just Christian holidays; security was also tightened during the recent Muslim holiday of Idul Fitri. In the recent past, there have been times when Muslims could not celebrate their holy day due to prolonged sectarian conflicts.

The presence of security forces at religious events is a nuisance, to say the least, because universal peace, tolerance and acceptance of our brothers and sisters are central to most faiths. We should not take their presence for granted, as doing so would be akin to taking for granted the terrorism that has altered our lives so drastically.

For many Indonesians, the days of joyful and peaceful Christmases are long past. With the 2000 church bombings still reverberating and with the two most wanted bomb-makers on the loose, it is difficult to dispel the apprehension that arises every holiday season. At least 15 Christians were killed in the 2000 bombings across the country and 96 other churchgoers were injured.

Terrorism again struck in 2002 in Bali and 2004 in Jakarta. Foreign governments, including Australia and Britain, have issued travel advisories upon intelligence that militants could be planning another attack ahead of Christmas.

Indonesia used to be a country in which the faithful of different religions could coexist in peace: Religion was no obstacle to friendship and brotherhood here. Sadly, those days fostered by our founding fathers are long gone.

It is thus not surprising that many find incredulous and amazing the modern absurdities that have unfolded in the name of religion. Today, religion tends to be a divisive factor, thanks to its diligent exploitation by unscrupulous politicians for short-term gains.

The status quo of requiring police protection for religious events is a manifestation of our false approach toward religion. Somewhere, somehow, we have erred in our path to embracing the divine here on earth - whether that path be defined through Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam or Protestantism. This has left a spiritual and moral void, which has been filled in the meantime by a form of terror that has found convenient bedfellows with short-sighted politicians.

But religious exploitation, long a part of Indonesian politics, will not go away overnight; hence terrorism, like it or not, is here to stay.

Nevertheless, it is irrational to expect the government to uphold security single-handedly, especially when it is already overwhelmed by an exhaustive agenda brought about by economic and social woes it inherited from the previous, post-Soeharto administrations. Every citizen in their right minds should be contributing to peace and safety - after all, we are their beneficiaries.

To be fair, this Christmas season has not been as bad as in previous years. Some achievements have been made, albeit at a snail's pace. Police have recently discovered a haul of explosives in a number of places and so succeeded in preventing who knows how many bombings - but more challenges lie ahead.

Indonesia has yet to fully recover from its six-year-old crisis - now going on seven - with its accompanying social disturbances. The price paid has been dear, as people have had to learn to live with armed insurgencies, like in Aceh; terrorism, like in Jakarta and Bali; and violence, ethnic and communal conflicts, like those in Poso, Palu and Maluku.

When a country remains in crisis, its people remains in limbo; when a crisis persists, social disturbances ebb and flow.

Sick and tired of this 'purgatory', great expectations have been placed in the two-month-old government of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was directly elected by the people with a mandate to get rid of the crisis.

It is not by chance that our founding fathers held aloft 'Belief in God' over and above the five principles in our Constitution - it is by the wisdom of their vision and the virtue of all faiths toward creating a universal brotherhood.

It is our task to work together, as a united Indonesia, against all the odds that appear to haunt the nation upon a hope that we will come out of this suffering stronger than we have ever been.

After all, 'A place for everyone' is the nation's sanctified pledge. Let us all welcome this holiday season with peace, acceptance, common sense and generosity of spirit in embracing our fellows - men and women - without prejudice.

A safe and happy holiday to all.

Today's sermon was delivered by the Jakarta Post.


1:34 pm |
Thursday, December 23, 2004
  Last minute shopping
There is a gender-specific stereotypical myth out there that men tend to leave their Christmas shopping until the last possible moment. I, for one, am offended by such obvious slander. I don't like the fact that such comments make us men look like ill-planned, uncaring, unthoughtful morons.

If she promises to make me some home-made boozy Christmas gifts then I think I'll get her an Orgasmatron; apparently they're good for headaches.

Trouble is that in order to be with 'Er Indoors I am a Muslim. It's all to do with the paperwork which puts obstacles in the path of mixed marriages, and I'm talking about nationalities rather than gender. So Idul Fitri, the end of Ramadan, is the big tribal get-together in Jakartass Towers.

However, there is still that part of me that will always be an Englishman, with ghosts of Christmases past. I've sent about 50 home-made cards by email and, in return, there is a card delivered by the postman sitting, rather forlornly I must admit, on a book shelf.

There are snacks, the remains of some duty-free bourbon, some special flavour instant noodles in the larder and a bottle of Ribena for the cold evenings. Christmassy candles are primed; there's usually a power cut or two at this time of the year.

So excitement mounts.

Our Kid is tracking Santa Claus with the aid of Ringo Starr who is Santa's little helper because he's a personal friend of Santa Claus and he has been ... for many years.

It's just a pity that Santa scares children.

When we are born, Santa needs to know who we are and where we live. Because we all use so many different languages and have different names it gets really confusing for poor old Santa Claus.

Just before the Stork delivers us, all of Santa's little helpers - like the elves, pixies, goblins and fairies - gather round and select a name for us and that's the name Santa remembers.

So, until sanity returns, you may call me Tumbleflump Kissy-Tummy.



3:30 pm |
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
  Is there no end to this trivia?

As part of "the price you have to pay for votes!", I am indebted to C in Australia who's been writing to me offline.

"Yesterday I had a clean up and an old suitcase came to light. Several years ago we were preparing to visit Sumatera Utara and, in an op shop, (a what shop?) I came across a very sturdy suitcase that was just right. Not only that but it had a classic old sticker 'Jakarta Hilton'. Yesterday I saw more recent connotations."

Now, I don't have much intelligence, from government sources that is, the kind which justifies travel advisories and mass hysteria among intending visitors from the music fraternity - or sorority in the case of Norah Jones who has reportedly cancelled her March 1st 2005 gig here. A rusty hand grenade was found in the Hilton grounds this week; for all I know, that was the perceived threat.

What I do know is that the biggest fear here is among the Christian community, for whom, as with Muslims, the observance of religious festivals and holy days is the cornerstone of life.

As much as I agree that governments have a responsibility towards its citizens everywhere, and, in the words of the new U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, B. Lynn Pascoe, travel advisories were essentially the government's effort to protect its citizens abroad, those of us who make a life in the country of our own choosing and try to make a contribution do feel that those issuing these advisories don't actually meet the people.

As abhorrent as any terrorist bombing is, the majority of those killed in recent outrages here were Indonesian. And the majority of expats and tourists die from drowning, road accidents and other 'natural' causes.

As Winston Churchill probably said, "The biggest fear is fear itself."

And as for "the price I will have to pay for votes", may I remind regular readers to vote every day. It's neck and neck at the moment between The Swanker, The Fool and yours truly.

In the immortal words of Dave Weinberger, as quoted by the Expat at Large in Singapore, "On the Internet, everyone will be famous for 15 people."

PS. Myrick in Singapore has this to say:
Best Indonesia Blog: I am guilty of vote splitting here and have been single-handedly trying to engineer a tie. Daily, I look at the tallies and vote for either Macam-Macam or Jakartass, depending on who is ahead at that time. A bribe, or other incentive, would help me stop fence-sitting.

My riposte is simple, Myrick; vote for me or I won't continue to vote for you. Oh, and if I lose, the drinks are on you. And if I win ....?


2:00 pm |
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
  How inconvenient
I did set my alarm and get up at 3am, made a mug of coffee and plonked myself down in front of the telly ready to watch Charlton win their 3rd game on the trot, or preferably a stroll. And what did TV7 decide to show? A recording of Manchester United beating Crystal Palace from Sunday, that's what.

Bloody typical. So it wasn't until the morning, having tried to recapture my dreams, that I discovered that it had been a cracking match against Fulham, deservedly won 2-1.

Still, I wasn't going to waste my day. Was I?

Up at 8, don't be late, and off to the public launch of the National Movement for the Socialisation of Standard Public Toilets in Indonesia held in the plush surroundings of Hotel Aston.

Having signed in and got my bag of goodies, it was a tad disappointing to see so many empty chairs as obviously a lot of effort had gone into preparing everything. I wasn't too enamoured either to have to sit through nigh on 40 minutes of a sales spiel from Domestos, whose free samples I was clutching. My impression was that all attendees were of the social class which enjoyed toilets which are clean and hygienic.

That there is a paucity of public toilets is something I've commented on previously. I was pleased to find others with the same concern. They range from those with vested interests, such as Domestos, Toto, the World's Largest Toilet Manufacturer rather than the rock group - which came first? - and Mowilex, a Ciputra Group company apparently, who make paint, sealants and stuff, to the only government department with the brief to construct public toilets, the Ministry of Tourism, and one gentleman from the city government's Department of Health who scarpered very quickly when he realised that I may have had something unpleasant to say.

I then had a lengthy chat with some of the principals involved in this campaign, namely Naning Adiwoso, the co-ordinator, and Enny Herawati, the promoter. I asked about the involvement of a multi-national such as Unilever, which professes to have a concern for the environment whilst some environmentalists think the company is evil because of the pollution caused by the chemicals used in the manufacture of its products.

As always, the answer is simple. They provide funding which enables a higher profile ~ and this was certainly a very professional launch. Naning mentioned that visitors to Borobudur will soon be able to benefit from model toilets, built with the design expertise of the Indonesian Institute of Architects.

There wasn't time to discuss the use of dry toilets, although Naning agreed that this is a technology worthy of further investigation, especially as the slogan for this campaign is Kering Itu Sehat (Dry is Healthy).

I counted four journalists covering the event so I look forward with interest to reading tomorrow's papers, though I won't hold my breath. As with all community-based initiatives, it is the sum of all our efforts which prove the most successful.

An invitation is extended to all who wish to contribute thoughts and information regarding the whereabouts of any public toilets in Jakarta to contact us at Jalan-Jalan Jakarta, the H.Q. of Jakarta's Good Loo Guide.

All in all, it hasn't been too shitty a day.



6:30 pm |
Monday, December 20, 2004
  I need my beauty sleep
Charlton are playing Fulham at 3 o'clock this morning, local time. Now, I only mention that because, with a couple of weeks off work, I could stay up, or get up, to watch it live on TV. After all, this is of vital importance to we Addicks.

The problem is, my bio-rhythms, internal body clock or whatever, still determine that I wake up bloody early and, therefore, go to bed early because, friends will agree, I do need my beauty sleep.

This is why I've missed some important events here in Jakarta. And I'm not talking about Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes of Man Utd. wreaking havoc or the big bang which disturbed residents around Jakarta at the same time: Indonesian Air Force radar detected an unidentified object falling toward the earth at a great speed before disappearing at around the same time as the noise was heard, a spokesman said. Air Force spokesman Commodore Sagom Tambun said the air force was not monitoring falling objects such as meteors.

Must've been a UFO then.

The really earth-shaking event that I missed was the come-uppance of Akbar Tanjung. He is no longer the éminence grise controlling Golkar, Suharto's political group that he reinvented after the abdication of the smiling general. That Akbar was able to guide them back into becoming the largest group in the legislature was certainly some achievement, but then he did have the levers of a formidable political machine which was backed by powerful business interests.

His successor, Josef Kalla, is a very successful business man too, though I'm intrigued by my lack of success in sussing out his current interests and connections. That he is successful can be taken as read, particularly in the Jakarta Post editorial today: While Golkar remains very much a élitist game, with votes acquired through a hard sell of money and power, nevertheless, during this congress and the convention earlier in the year it showed that the party's apex was determined via a process that allowed anyone - and just about everyone tried to take advantage - to partake.

What I think this says, is that in the true spirit of reformasi, this was a democratic vote, and the richest man won.
"Akbar asked us to listen to our hearts, but Kalla gives us vitamins," said a participant from Sumatra. During this election year, "vitamins" and "nutrition" have widely been used as informal codewords for material gain, mainly cash.

What this means for the country will take some time to understand. Golkar has probably been co-opted to support SBY rather than serve as an oppositional force. The post-Suharto ditherings of Gus Dur and Megawati have not raised morale. Will a stronger presidency encourage the populace to get more involved in their own governance? I suspect that there will be further power plays as Kalla is now in a position, as both vice president and leader of the largest power grouping, to make a play for the presidency himself.

I don't have the answers. I think I'll sleep on it.



11:30 am |
Sunday, December 19, 2004
  It's Xmas week and a Sunday, so here's a seasonal message.

Dear Beloved in Christ,

It is by the grace of God that I received Christ, knowing the truth and the truth have set me free. Having known the truth, I had no choice than to do what is lawful and right in the sight of God for eternal life and in the sight of man for witness of Gods mercy and glory upon my life.

I am Mrs Caroline Solange Haafkens from Netherlands. My late husband acquired a considerable sum of money through his resourcefulness and effectiveness through the duration of his stay in Nigeria.

Oh. Next?

Thanks to J-Walk, I've discovered that Microsoft have a range of seasonal templates. Have a look at this Holiday Dinner Menu and try to work out what kind of meal would look so unappetizing.

Actually, it may be my Xmas lunch; 'Er Indoors has gone up to Medan with Our Kid for a week, but has yet to sort out their return tickets.

Being a confirmed vegetarian does leave me with few options, mainly leaves.

In today's Observer Magazine Nigel Slater has this to say: If a vegetarian friend is for life, not just for Christmas, don't fob them off with the old nut roast (Hey, I love nut roast!) and offers Parsnip cakes with muchrooms (sic) and pine kernels. Sounds delicious, but considering that most of the ingredients are unavailable here, I may have to make do with his veggie paella, which is the Spanish version of nasi goreng (fried rice).

Still, music lover and mall hater that I am, at least I won't have to put up with the Mike Samme's Singers version of White Christmas. If you want it, you can get it here, but not here. For a better choice of sounds, I'd inveigle an invitation to Carl McCaskey's home because he says he's got 500 Xmas albums. And I want to hear this one.

My friend Derek, however, is a total Beatles nut; he's got every track they've ever recorded, which isn't bad considering that he was born after they'd split up. This also means that he wouldn't have been a member of the official Beatles' Fan Club. If he had been, then he would already be familiar with one or more of these records. The Beatles recorded them and sent them out to their adoring fans every year, finally collecting them all on one album for the 1970 edition. Now rare and quite pricey to obtain, these seldom heard recordings offer a rare glimpse of the fabs at their funniest. Download the MP3s here, Del.

The rest of us will have to make do with a corporate choir (requires Shockwave).



3:30 pm |
Friday, December 17, 2004
  Just because you're paranoid ...

The Asian Blog Awards for 2004 are being voted for as I type this and, yes, I'd be truly humbled if you were to vote for Jakartass EVERY DAY.

The joy of it all, however, is not the fame and lack of fortune that is sure to head my way. Rather, it is that through it all other blogging gems are surfacing. Up until yesterday, I had only been aware of one Indonesian consistently writing in English. A big hand, please, for my fellow nominee The Fool in Bandung. Now, thanks to her comment following yesterday's post I'm pleased to present for your pleasure and edification Alia's Realm.

She wrote: "Once every fifty years or so, a single landmark event takes place which has the easy ability to expose a thousand lies that preceded it." - J. Vialls

You should read his analysis on the Jakarta & Bali bombs here. It's really shocking!

Well, I did, Alia.

And I'm afraid I think Mr. Vialls is an egg short of an omelette. What he writes, under the heading Zionists Nuke The Australian Embassy in Indonesia, is a load of tosh disproved in the first paragraph.
An Israeli micro-nuclear demolition device from Dimona in the Negev Desert, went critical nine feet under the street in a storm drain outside the gates of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Storm drains are only 3 feet (one metre) deep in Jalan Rasuna Said.

As for such phrases (my italics) as "Zionist lackeys ... slavishly obey orders issued by the American and Israeli ambassadors, a welcome obsequiousness which naturally ensures that all Zionist covert operations in the Southern Hemisphere run like clockwork", I can only think that Mr. Vialls is in need of a reality check.

He says so himself: Predictably perhaps, I remain permanently barred by American multinationals including Yahoo and PayPal, in what appears to be an ongoing attempt to obliterate my Internet presence completely. Life is never easy for a former combat veteran living on a miniscule disability pension, but it has to be admitted that this multinational stranglehold has managed to make life even harder still.
Yahoo? PayPal? A Zionist conspiracy?

Besides, Indonesia doesn't have diplomatic relations with Israel, so there isn't an Israeli ambassador.

If I were you Alia, I'd keep on writing your own thoughts. You could start by sending Mr. Vialls a Get Well card.

And whilst we're on conspiracy theories, you might like to have a look at AboveTopSecret.com which has possible support for Mr. Vialls. Apparently a millionaire, Jimmy Walter, is offering a prize to anyone who can prove that the WTC towers actually did collapse the way the US government said they did.

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you?



5:30 pm |
Thursday, December 16, 2004
  I've got (more) post

1. That's fantastic! Won't ask where you found it (where did you find it?).
Kiddo (UK)
Sorry. I forgot to mention that the Fried Breakfast Hat I posted yesterday came via the J-Walk Blog, a regular standby when I'm bored or need to find inspiration.

2. This (unedited) email is definitely a spam, but I was intrigued by the address. Are there any of my London readers who can do some legwork, or other research, to find out if there really is a slimeball called Dave Osmond Esq.?

Dave Osmond Esq.
c/o tomulos chambers
23 aderlin square
queens rd,


Grant me the indulgence of this unsolicited mail to you.I am DAVE OSMOND an Attorney-at-law.I am the personal attorney to Late Mr.WILLIAM BARNES,hereinafter called my client who died intestat(Without A WIll) on 31 st of october 1999 through an unfortunate air crash via Egypt Air involving him and so many others.

Etc. etc. of the usual crap.

3. Re Jarkassas. How could Singapore possibly compare to life on the edge? Chubby Alexander Downer has issued warning of an imminent threat. I guess life is a risk anyway... I read and I vote...
C (Australia)
I have problems spelling my write name as well. It also took me ages to work out how to say it. The answer is to stress the last syllable.

Question one relates to my post two days ago; fellow expats agree that living here gives us something to talk about and, for me, something to blog about.

I heard yesterday that, according to Australian radio, the Hilton Hotel here was believed to be the intended target of the next bombing outrage. When I drove past it yesterday, I assumed that the lengthy queues of cars lined up in the road outside belonged to Golkar Party Congress delegates. However, seeing that the remnants of Suharto's power base are actually meeting in Bali at the weekend, the bomb threat may well have been real.

The Jakarta Post, on its front page today, reports that at least three countries - Australia, Britain and New Zealand - warned yesterday that they had received credible intelligence suggesting an imminent terrorist strike on an Indonesian target, possibly a large hotel.

The British Foreign Office has this to say: There remains a high threat from terrorism in Indonesia. We continue to receive reports that terrorists in Indonesia are planning further attacks on Westerners and Western interests. We believe that there is a heightened risk of attacks in the lead up to and during this Christmas/New Year period and that these attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in Indonesia, including locations frequented by foreigners. They have shown in previous attacks that they have the means and the motivation to carry out successful attacks.
Update 1
Hilton hotels in Indonesia hunker down after threat

As for Golkar, will we see the
corrupt and despicable Akbar Tanjung finally get his comeuppance? He is being challenged by Josef Kalla, the current VP, for the position of Golkar chairman. This was announced at Golkar meeting on Tuesday night which was, indeed, held at the Hilton. Apart from the ethical question of party politics tarnishing the presidential role, this would create an interesting scenario in that Golkar, the largest party in the legislature, would be a less obstructive opposition force.
Update 2
Indonesian police investigate possible poisoning attempt on vice president

And the three spurned politicians, Gus Dur, Akbar Tanjung and Megawati (GAM?!?) can continue to play their dog in the manger and masturbatory mind games.

Finally - and I do go on, don't I? - voting is now open for the Asian Blogs of 2004. Thanks to Simon for organizing it all and thanks to all of you who vote for me
once a day til the end of the year in the Indonesian category HERE.

Re Updates
I'm indebted to Bart's Expat Newsletter for the updates of the two stories, which
I'd have known about earlier if I were a genuine journalist.



6:00 pm |
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
  The office party in Bugils was over as soon as we had poured 'she-who-must-be-obeyed' into her taxi. I don't recall any faux pas and, considering that I haven't made too many typos yet, this probably means that I could have kept going for a few more pitchers.

Ho hum.

Of course, this does mean that my posts are liable to be shorter for a while. With a couple of weeks off, I'll probably get up to steam over the weekend, so tonight let me give you a couple of connected links.

Firstly, my number one Kid, back 'home', sent me the following email: Will be playing around on one dependent on delivery of new computer sometime soon. However, my mate Al has created one: http://www.baconbutty.org

As well as looking for feedback said he would like to link to Jakartass - would you be happy? (or have any feedback - bare in mind its only been up for 2 days and he is a complete amateur!)

Ignoring the spelling errors and the fact that the first sentence is very obscure, I have to say that as an avowed vegetarian, although we veggie converts do miss our bacon, I can't give a permanent link. However, it is a nice looking site for "a complete amateur!".

So I offer this one in exchange: The Fried Breakfast Hat



10:15 pm |
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
  Blasé? Moi?

Yesterday I experienced culture shock, which surprised me. I've done the Singapore visa run innumerable times, yet I seemed to be seeing things anew. I think it's a phenomenon I'll call the blog effect.

In Jakarta, one gets used to the continual near misses on the roads, the pleasantries exchanged when slipping uniformed officials a fiver for turning a blind eye, the need to watch one's step and the absence of 'home' comforts.

Today my legs are aching thanks to the wide tree-lined footpaths; the lack of pedestrian impediments apart from handphone toters makes walking a real pleasure. I didn't see a single plume of exhaust and didn't hear any over-revved motorcycles.

Of course, the cost of living is higher, yet shopping for a few tokens of nostalgia was also rewarding. I had to buy the December issue of Mojo because of the interview with John Peel and the many tributes from friends and musicians, as well as the free CD of Elvis influences, Presley that is.

I also bought a genuine, non-pirated DVD. Westworld, in which Yul Brynner plays a robot gone bad in a theme park, has long a favourite movie but I've yet to see it on the stalls here, so paying ten times the price made it a bargain.

The real prize, however, was Erroll Garner's Concert By The Sea, my all-time favourite live album. This is a truly sublime performance which seems considerably shorter than its 45 minutes. I haven't seen it in the stores here for some years, so was well pleased to spy it in the Borders bookshop in Orchard Road.

So, passport and visa collected, in record time, it was off to the theme park that is Changi Airport where we were serenaded with carols by a high school acappella group, which I enjoyed whilst tucking into an Indian vegetarian curry.

And, of course, there was the 14 minutes 13 seconds of free broadband Internet access, just time enough to jot some thoughts, posted below. And the typos were the result of the wonky, over-used keyboard. Honest.

As the taxi drove me sedately up to the embassy in the morning, we passed through Legoland, row upon row of housing block beside housing block in clean pastel shades, and I couldn't help humming the Pete Seeger 'hit' Little Boxes.

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same,
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

No-one breaks the speed limit, motorists allow pedestrians to cross the road, there's so little litter that finding a stray cigarette butt is a shock, everyone queues and there didn't seem to be much to rant about.

Yet, I don't think I'd like to actually live in Singapore. I didn't feel comfortable.



7:30 pm |
Monday, December 13, 2004
Yep, here I am with time on my hands, but limited to 15 diminishing minutes, at Changi Airport. My deeds are done,so I can now give you as many impressions as my right forefinger a very strange keyboard will permit.

Firstly, I little oncost gives you impeccable service here; I've even got receipts for the extra fees, but not from Jakarta.

Secondly, it's so pleasant to walk or use public transport. I haven't seen any plumes of exhaust and I've lost count of the number of cars which stopped to give me, a pedestrian the right of way. I've seen and heard birds too, among the ferns and tropical trees that line various footpaths.

Directions have been asked for and given. It's been a pleasure to shop, but I'm going to enjoy it even more in the Duty Free.

And my time is nearly up so I'll post this and put up something more substantial, and at my expense, tomorrow.

But I've still got time to down a few before my flight takesoff.



4:28 pm |
Sunday, December 12, 2004
  Grafting away
Keeping up this blog is a matter of discipline. On days like today, with a summery breeze on a quiet Sunday afternoon, tending to the garden which, this being the tropics, needs little attention, seems the nicest option. But needs must.

So here are a few links to the latest on the war on corruption.

Indonesia getting tough on graft
SBY has promised "shock therapy" in fighting corruption; ordinary Indonesians and foreign investigations would have to go through Indonesia's courts ...

British Arms Maker Accused of Bribing Tutut
A British arms manufacturer has been accused of paying a bribe of more than £16 million (Rp283 billion) to Tutut Suharto to win a deal to sell tanks to Indonesia.

Indonesia investigates Soeharto family over British arms deal
Indonesia's powerful anti-graft officials, the Corruption Eradication Commission, said on Saturday they were investigating the eldest daughter of ex-president Soeharto over claims a British arms firm paid her £16 million over a deal to sell tanks. This is the first inquiry into the inner circle of the former dictator, who has escaped trial for massive graft due to ill health.

Tax officials feel heat over graft charges
A recent investigation by The Jakarta Post revealed that extortion by tax officers, especially with regard to the manipulation of the ministry's tax tribunal and tax refund procedures, remained rampant.

Graft spirals out of control at tax office
by Rendi A. Witular, The Jakarta Post (not online)
Few people could afford to buy the latest BMW 5 car at the age of 27, no matter how hard they work. But, Amien, not his real name, can buy one easily. He's a public official in one of the country's most corrupt institutions: the tax office.

Officially, Amien, who has been employed as a Jakarta tax official for the past six years since graduating from the state-run accounting academy STAN, receives a monthly take-home salary of about Rp 3 million (about US$328). But he can easily make an additional Rp 500 million per year without even working for it.

Graft unit takes aim at corrupt tax officers
Responding to reports of rampant corruption in the tax office, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has lambasted the finance ministry's Directorate General of Taxation, urging it to crack down on the offenders, particularly tax officers who made deals with and extorted taxpayers.

Aceh governor thrown in slammer
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) tossed Aceh governor Abdullah Puteh in prison on Tuesday, pending his trial for his alleged involvement in a graft case in 2002.

And there's more, lots more.

Tomorrow, I have to go to Singapore to get the paperwork completed for my new work permit. If all goes to plan, I should be home in the evening. But the only way this will happen is by paying an 'extra' fee at the embassy there for an express service. I'll also have to pay a 'fine' of $20 dollars at Soekarno-Hatta airport here because I'll have overstayed my business visa by one day.

I hope it's another nice day.



3:00 pm |
Saturday, December 11, 2004
  Sorry, no post today as I haven't stopped since 7 this morning and have just got home in order to just go out to a Halal BI Halal which is a gathering of local residents who chat in Bahasa Indonesia (so I don't really understand) about things of concern to local residents and we eat a lot of local food which is probably too spicy for me but I must eat it to be polite and not think about missing Everton v Liverpool on the box because it's probably Indonesia v Vietnam anyway, but I hope we're home in time to read the teletext results showing Charlton whopping West Brom, and we also get to elect the street leader, whose house we're meeting in, so we can re-elect him, which we would anyway 'cos he's a good guy and so's his wife, except she's not a guy because she's a she, so that's it.

Must dash.


7:00 pm |
Friday, December 10, 2004
  I don't like the rainy season

My roof leaks in places I didn't need to fix last year.
My shoes leak.
We have to buy umbrellas to replace those lost by 'Er Indoors when she was out.
It's cold; temperatures fall to as low as 80ºF / 30ºC.
Mud gets traipsed everywhere.
TV reception is worse.
The rainy season coincides with the English football season.
Bugs surface - whining, biting mosquitoes and HUGE cockroaches.
There are more power cuts.
I have to disconnect my modem because of the electrical storms.

I do like the rainy season

Our desiccated garden turns green.
The water table rises so our well refills.
It's nice to have a shower au naturel.
I can wear my winter wardrobe.
The cat shit gets washed off the roof.
Dust and pollution levels are lower.
It coincides with the English football season.
I have a ready-made excuse for everything.
It gives me something to blog about.



9:00 pm |
  Lord Scarman R.I.P.
In 1981, I was a children's charity co-ordinator in Stockwell and lived in Brixton. I witnessed the so-called race riots which were, in my view and that of the vast majority of residents, triggered by the racist and heavy-handed policing of the Special Patrol Group out of Brixton police station.

Lord Scarman lanced the festering boil with his even-handed, respectful approach to all who appeared at the inquiry into the 1981 Brixton riots, which he chaired, and which led to community policing and the creation of the Police Complaints Authority.

"Lord Scarman became a popular figure in Brixton, making frequent informal visits to the area. His inquiry found that the disorder was caused by serious social and economic problems affecting the inner cities. He also blamed "racial disadvantage that is a fact of British life".

"He was ahead of his time in being in favour of treating people as equals and not treating them as subjects but as people with rights."

He died on Wednesday aged 93. Obit here.



7:00 pm |
Thursday, December 09, 2004
  A Public Service

The Guardian has won a court case in Britain allowing public access to documents which show that Alvis paid £16.5m in bribes to President Suharto's eldest daughter to secure a £160m sale of Scorpion tanks in the mid-1990s which were then used for internal repression.

You can download the .pdf files of these documents here.

They make fascinating reading.



7:30 pm |
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
  Enjoy the convenient

No, this isn't a follow up to yesterday's story about public toilets. However, I have often described the shitty service provided by my ISP Indosat.

I only had 21 spam messages in my inbox this morning ~ happily deleted on the server by my use of Avirmail. There were also 2 emails from Indosat, one of which is my monthly bill.

For the past month I've been able to log on to Indosat with relative ease; initially I thought it was because businessfolk were away for the Idul Fitri mass exodus, but the happy state has continued.

I was about to gift Indosat another wodge of rupiah but with the intention of changing my email address to fool the spammers for a short while. Now I have the chance to see if Indosat really can offer customer service, with all due regard to their crap English.

Dear Customers,

Thank you for trusting us in providing your internet service.

We are glad to inform you that soon you will be enjoying our new mail service system with spam and virus free, commencing on December 11, 2004.

To be able to enjoy this facility, neither needs you to change nor set up anything, either to your connection or your mail; you are even able to sending and receiving email as usual.

As the migration to the new system took place, the activities such as change password, new user activation as well as user resignation will not be conducted between December 10, 2004 at 00:00 until December 12, 2004 23:00. Shall you wish to make any changes, please request before or after maintenance.

If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact our 24 hour Customer Service on 021 78546900, or fax us to 021 78546998 or chat on www.indosatm2.com.

Enjoy the convenient with Indosatnet service.

Best regard,
Customer Service Manager.

Casting my net a bit wider, I'm going to give Firefox another plug, or rather give a link to a review which says it all much better and in greater depth than I possibly could.

If browsers were baseball, Mozilla's Firefox would be the Boston Red Sox (and if browsers were football they'd be Chelsea?). For years, Mozilla (and Netscape before it) has been the underdog that success has eluded. But looking at Firefox now, a little over a week since it bowed in final form, the word that comes to mind is believe.

So, if you want to view Jakartass musings as I'd like you to, then you know what to do.

Finally, don't forget that nominations close today for the Asian blogs of 2004.
This one is in the Indonesian category, thank you. Do check out the others.



1:10 pm |
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
  Piss off
Thanks to Friskodude for reminding me that I'd forgotten to remember to bring you this story.

The Ampera Bridge in Palembang, South Sumatra in danger of collapse. Nothing new in that, I hear you cry. After all, bridges collapse with seeming regularity worldwide. The causes range from a heavier than anticipated traffic load, a flooded river below or, as might be expected here, the use of shoddy materials in place of those in the winning bid document so that contractors and bureaucrats alike can have a slice of the financial pie.

Ampera Bridge has been weakened for a different reason however.

Azmi Lakoni, head of the local highway and bridge department, said: "The office has not yet done thorough tests on the slant of the bridge. But we are concerned that one of its main support piers has been weakened by urine, as it is a popular spot for locals to relieve themselves."

Whilst I'm on this urinary track, I must mention that I've been invited to the launch of a National Movement for the Socialisation of Standard Public Toilets in Indonesia. Titter ye not.

A few weeks back, on our Jakarta-specific blog Jalan-Jalan Jakarta, I launched a Good Loo Guide. Of course, there aren't any available for public use unless you count those in shopping malls and five-star hotels. As with everything here, progress is slow and has, in fact, been exacerbated by the loss of the J-J Jkt. Database. (We hope to have it back up this weekend.)

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the conference is at Hotel Aston (Cendrawasih Room), Jl. Senen Raya on Tuesday 21st December from 8.00 - 15.30, snacks and lunch provided. I may go, but as my Xmas holiday will have started I may not.
Contact: Ms Naning Adiwoso - adi1508(at)inias(dot)co(dot)id .

Other people who are pissed off this week include the participants in the Street Art Festival who were cleared out of Sumenep Park in Menteng on Saturday night.

Led by the municipality's Public Order Office Head, Harianto Baijuri, and backed by the police, two trucks loaded with public order officers forced the artists to move out of the park, pulled down their banners and whitened out their wall murals, including a painting of murdered human rights activist Munir.

Accusing the artists - some of whom have artistic tattoos and body piercings - of being "thugs", the officers assaulted two of them and, in a move clearly seen by eyewitnesses, gave money to a group of unidentified men who forced the artists to move on at about 10 p.m.

"There is no place for arts in Jakarta. This is the metropolis," Harianto scolded the artists.

"They accused us of being thugs, yet the officers themselves, including the Public Order Office chief, Harianto Baijuri, were drunk when they arrived at the scene," said Amir, an artist from the Nurani Senja group.
(Adapted from Jakarta Post articles not online.)

So what is going on? Is it big business not liking anti-globalisation protesters as some suggested, or is it connected to the malevolent forces behind Munir's assassination? This overkill certainly smacks of a fascistic tendency, the jackboot approach with its tendency to quash any form of dissent.

Coincidentally (?), Menteng is the home of many of Indonesia's elite, including the unlamented President Suharto. He is in the news again this week, or rather his daughter Tutut is, for receiving a 16 million pound bribe from Alvis, the UK company who sold Indonesia the tanks that have been very useful in operations against the rebels in Aceh. This is today's lead story in the Jakarta Post which has taken it from the Guardian.

May we continue to live in interesting times.

On second thoughts ......



6:00 pm |
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