Saturday, April 30, 2005
  Gila Monsters

News from the UK has resonances here; headteachers are demanding an end to the "totally unacceptable" increase in attacks and threats from angry parents.

I doubt that the British parents mentioned could afford the $2,000+ per month which it costs to enrol students in the Jakarta International School where Theo Toemion recently assaulted students and staff. I don't know if his seven year old is a student there ~ he doesn't seem to fit the criteria, but I do know that if I were a headmaster then I would certainly ban the father from my school.

The investigation into the assassination of Munir continues to be hampered.

Former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) secretary Nurhadi Jazuli insists he had absolutely nothing to do with last year's murder of human rights campaigner Munir. If that's true, then why is he steadfastly refusing to be questioned by a government-backed team investigating the case?

The BIN and police hierarchy were appointed before SBY came to power, as was Theo Toemion. They act as if they are above the law, and some of them, such as police chief Bachtiar, are tainted with Suharto-era human rights violations. Conspiracy theorists will love the full article. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they aren't out to get you.

They are and they are also gila monsters. (gila = crazy). And this is a heavily contrived and awkward segue into the irrelevant news that a new injectable diabetes drug, developed from the saliva of the gila monster lizard, has been approved for sale in the USA.



12:30 pm |
Friday, April 29, 2005
  Net working

No, this post is nothing to do with an improvement in the service of the ISPs here, which I really don't expect to happen any year soon, but with the power of the Net to both get and keep in touch with people.

Firstly, my friend Derek Bacon has, from England, sent me the URL for a page related to Dave Jardine's book Foreign Fields Forever, which I mentioned on Monday. It's dated from May last year, so I think it is an example of DJ's writing.

For those with an ear for history, visits to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Menteng Pulo and the Dutch War Graves cemetery at Ancol on the north shore (both in Jakarta) reveal an episode of British history largely neglected by textbooks and university courses, the armed intervention by Britain in Indonesia after the surrender of the Japanese at the end of the Pacific War.

Over 1100 men and women of the Commonwealth and British Empire lie buried in these immaculately tended plots.

Next, another friend, who lives in N.Y., has written to me asking for help in tracking down a lass in, possibly, Yogyakarta.

Her phone is apparently disconnected. She supposed to come April 4 to Los Angeles, but her father had a very massive heart attack and she couldn't come, and we were in touch. She had some problems and then, she disappeared and her phone is not working and she doesn?t answer her e-mails, which is strange, because she is very punctual. I was at the LA airport waiting for her, and she didn't appeared, and after several hours of panic, I found she is still in Yogya!!!

Please see if you can help me, do not have idea where in Yogya is her address. She is an architect and she is postponing her trip to the USA for few weeks before the situation with her father. She is very dear friend of mine and I am worry. She also had some problems with her health and spent some time in hospital after being in Banda Aceh helping, she lost some family members over there. Since April 7, no news whatsoever from her.

If, dear reader, you are in Yogya, could you please email me and I can pass on further details.

The Net has spread the following story through the Indonesian ex-expat and expat community. It typifies the pomposity and arrogance of many of the Indonesian 'élite' who have little regard for anyone beyond their immediate circle. (Note that I say 'many' and not 'all'. I suspect that any long-term expat in Indonesia will count some very wealthy or worthy public figures among their friends and acquaintances, even if, like Jakartass, you live at street level in a local community and not in an exclusive apartment block or upmarket housing complex.)

Theo Toemion, the chairman of Indonesia's powerful Investment Coordinating Board, is, like most parents, passionate about his son's sporting activities. Just how passionate became evident one recent Sunday when he went on a violent rampage, assaulting a 14-year-old referee and several parents of other children in a dispute over a junior school basketball match.

The assault on the grounds of the Jakarta International School left an American oil company executive, the parent of one child in the game, with a broken nose. The executive has since been forced to leave Indonesia with his family. Another oil company employee was hit in the back of the head, requiring several stitches.
According to one witness, Toemion shouted threats that he could have the non-Indonesian parents thrown out of the country. Among those trying to restrain Toemion were executives from U.S. companies like ExxonMobil, Nike, Unocal and ConocoPhillips.

"The implication was that he could revoke anyone's work permit if he wanted to," the witness said. Another person familiar with the incident said Toemion had advised those present not to bother calling the police, because he "owned" the local police.



5:00 pm |
Thursday, April 28, 2005
  An ordinary day

Life is back to normal here in Jakarta following the A-A Conference. My pre-ordered Blue Bird taxi was half an hour late thus adding to my morning stress. How I hate getting up at 5am!

At that time, however, you'd expect to be able to log on to a local ISP.
Could I? Fat chance.

There has been a positive, rather than negative, sign of normalcy though. Pirated DVDs are back, so that's my Superman set complete, the start of my Sean Connery 007 collection, two Sean Penn films ~ The Assassination of Richard Nixon and Interpreter ~ both recently reviewed in the Guardian Weekly which I subscribe to, and a few other favourites. That's 13 films for c.US$7.50.

I'm not going to apologise for breaking the law. The police here are too busy trying to kill each other to bother with the likes of any Jakartass transgressions.

In Jakarta it's Phew, Wot a Scorcher weather. The rainy season seems to have ended. Unfortunately, that's not true in Aceh where 15 people died in a flash flood yesterday. That the Indonesian government is establishing a Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Board (RRB) for Aceh, to centralise and co-ordinate the massive task ahead, is little solace for these people.

There is an Implementation Board being set up by SBY with eight tasks:
1. Formulate strategies and operational policy.
2. Prepare the implementation board's work plans and budget.
3. Prepare a detailed plan for the rehabilitation and reconstruction in accordance with the government's Master Plan and taking into account the aspirations and needs of the people in affected areas.
4. Conduct rehabilitation and reconstruction activities based on documents pertaining to the implementation budgets.
5. Conduct rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in cooperation with other parties.
6. Conduct procurement of goods and services in accordance with existing regulations.
7. Coordinate the implementation of rehabilitation and reconstruction activities undertaken by the central and local governments and other parties.
8. Ensure that the utilization of funds in the rehabilitation and reconstruction is free from corruption.

This last one is going to be problematic. A seminar yesterday was asked, "Do you believe that the Rp. 41 trillion in funds apportioned to finance the rehabilitation and reconstruction of disaster-devastated Aceh and Nias in North Sumatra, will not be embezzled?"

Well, do you?



3:30 pm |
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Picture this - Air Heads

Arianna Huffington, commentator, one-time Republican and candidate for governor of California, has recruited a bevy of close friends to create an über-blog that will offer a round-the-clock commentary on our life and times. Norman Mailer, David Mamet, Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Walter Cronkite, Gwyneth Paltrow, Harold Evans and Tina Brown are just a few of the 250-plus names recruited.

While blogs were born to give a voice to the disenfranchised, www.huffingtonpost.com is somewhat different.

The writer Nora Ephron said, "The idea that one might occasionally be able to have a small thought and a place to send it, without having to write a whole essay, seems like a very good idea,"

Jakartass agrees with that sentiment, but I think the best place for fluff is in the sky. If you agree, then you could do no worse that join the Cloud Appreciation Society.
(Thanks again to J-Walk Blog.)

My friend Derek Bacon is a visual artist par excellence. I am indebted to him for the link to Pictures of Walls, although, as the author of Culture Shock - Jakarta, he should know that we had enough graffiti in Jakarta before the A-A Conference. Much of it has been scrubbed off, along with the flyers and posters advertising printers of the flyers and posters and Baby Sisters (sic).

What has intrigued me recently has been the proliferation of graffiti art in various underpasses. Given the attention to detail and that no lines are misplaced these have obviously been sponsored, presumably by the City Council whose permission had to be sought.

Jakartass is a fan of street murals.

Readers may have been a little perplexed by my one word New Year post. In the late sixties, BUTTERCUP was painted in metre-high letters on the wall which ran beside the garden of a corner house in Tufnel Park, London. I passed here on my way to work and always thought that it was a pleasant word to greet the day.

I also wonder if any of the Brian Barnes portrayals of life in Brixton and Stockwell are still in good nick? These were painted in the early eighties and I do know that the gable-sized one opposite the dole office in Coldharbour Lane survived the riots. I can't find any reference to him or them online, but I did find this fascinating photoblog by street artists.



5:00 pm |
Monday, April 25, 2005
  Monday Blues

Well, it's difficult to shout "Cummon you re-e-ds" as Charlton once again demonstrate how to stay in the Premiership without really trying.

By all accounts, well, by Dave Jardine's actually, life isn't so bad outside the football league, but I don't really want to find out.

Dave, incidentally, is the author of Foreign Fields Forever, "an incomplete account of the British armed presence in Indonesia in the 20 months or so following the Japanese surrender." Published by Fellview Publications and produced by Jakarta24, you won't find anything online, mainly because Jakarta 24 hasn't updated its site for 9 months. Still, it does still have this, now out-of-date, guide to Jakarta's book scene.

Pause to ponder: is Jakartass the most regular online publication in Jakarta ~ other than The Jakarta Post, that is?

Apart from soldiers killing each other and five more "suspected GAM rebels" in Aceh, there isn't much news so I'll now try to learn how to write more good with this guide.

Just as homemakers have their hints (e.g. a ball of cotton, dipped in vanilla extract and placed in the refrigerator, will absorb food odors), writers have their own bag of tricks, a bag of tricks, I might hasten to point out, you won't learn at any Bread Loaf Conference. Most writers, ivory tower idealists that they are, prefer to play up the mystique of their "art" (visitations from the Muse, l'ecriture automatique, talking in tongues, et cetera, et cetera), and sweep the hard-nosed practicalities under the rug.



6:00 pm |
Sunday, April 24, 2005
  Sunday Pest

Bad Habits 1

A report out recently says that the British may waste more food than any other nation, throwing out 30-40% of all the produce they buy and grow each year ... Figures collated from the government, supermarkets, processors and farmers show that modern food production methods may appear efficient, "but the reality is that large-scale manufacturing and rigid supply chains are creating very significant quantities of waste".

What happened to the parental cries of 'Eat up your sprouts' and 'Think of the starving Chinese'? And the riposte of 'They're welcome to them'?

Perhaps it's time for mass education on the lines of posters like these.
fr. Indian Bad Habits poster

Bad Habits 2

Pope Benedict XVI faced claims last night he had 'obstructed justice' after it emerged he issued an order ensuring the church's investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret.

"What really bothers me about this document is the way it suggests that what happens in the confessional should stay in the confessional," said Carmen Durso, a Boston lawyer who has represented scores of American victims abused by priests.

"In the cases I've dealt with, the paedophiles frequently use the confessional to try and initiate contact with youngsters."

What really bothers Jakartass is how, through male domination, the Catholic church has over the centuries enshrined greed and pomposity with impunity.

Suffer little children, anyone?

Good Guys

As the Asia-Africa Sumptuous winds down with the expected trite soundbites about resolving debt issues, capital market cooperation, improving market access, striving to provide voluntary non-reciprocal market access to Asian-African Least Developed Countries, one man is on a higher plane, and I don't just mean the Himalayas.

"We must build a future where quality education and health care are not only privileges of the wealthy but the rights of all; where our faiths rightly guide us to serve humanity, not to harm it and where a concern for collective well-being has replaced narrow national interests."

I'd suggest that 'market' interests have replaced those of nations (cf. the first story above); otherwise, Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, is spot on.

John Mills R.I.P.

To a slightly younger generation who first came across the name Mills through his sister Annette, who manipulated Muffin the Mule on TV, he is part of the history of our times and culture as mediated by movies.

To those born more recently, after Mills' daughter Hayley's time as a Disney child star (wear your sunglasses for this hallucinogenic site), he's a familiar young face in old black-and-white movies on daytime TV and a familiar old face on primetime programmes such as the 1995 Dickens mini-series Martin Chuzzlewit and as a regular witness on nostalgic shows like This is Your Life.

I once wanted to meet him. I'd fallen in love with Hayley in Swiss Family Robinson. We were, and still are, of an age. In 1971 she went off with an older man and I transferred my unrequited love to the real world.

64=65 (eh?)

If, like me, you've never made much sense of maths except when shopping, then this will confirm all your prejudices. But be careful. Some of the optical illusions on this website can cause dizziness or possibly epileptic seizures. The latter happens when the brain can't handle the conflicting information from your two eyes. If you start feeling unwell when using this website, immediately cover one eye with your hand and then leave the page. Do not close your eyes because that can make the attack worse.
(Thanks again to J-Walk Blog.)



3:30 pm |
Saturday, April 23, 2005
  London Calling

Margaret Atwood, a Canadian, visited London in the mid-sixties. This is an extract from Curious Pursuits: Occasional Writings, published by Time Warner Books on May 5.

When not injecting myself with culture, I was looking for something to eat. In England in 1964, this was quite difficult, especially if you didn't have much money. I made the mistake of trying a hamburger and a milkshake, but the English didn't yet have the concept: the former was fried in rancid lamb fat, the latter fortified with what tasted like ground-up chalk. The best places were the fish-and-chip shops, or, barring that, the cafes, (caffs?), where you could get eggs, sausages, chips, and peas, in any combination.

Ah, fond memories.

Nick Hornby is eating a breakfast fry-up in a cafe close to his north London home and Arsenal football club. In the background, the coffee machine is making a noise like the beginning of the old Hawkwind song Silver Machine - something he's probably noticed. Hornby is not simply a football nut (an Arsenal supporter), he's a music nut and a literature nut. He may be a misery guts, but he's also one of life's enthusiasts.

When he was teaching, he says, another teacher told him to teach Macbeth by getting the children to draw pictures of witches. "I couldn't understand how that was teaching Shakespeare; that was allowing them to draw pictures of witches. I think part of the reason I became the writer I became is because of teaching in a school, and you're always looking for this stuff that is really intelligent but really simple and everyone can understand it."

More recent, but has many resonances. I regret that I was never given the option of drawing witches during my A levels. I failed Eng. Lit.

Still, "stuff that is really intelligent but really simple and everyone can understand it" does, he mutters wistfully, sound like Jakartass, n'est çe pas?

Meanwhile, Diamond Geezer (an Arsenal supporter) has been queuing this week as he spends a week off visiting the tourist attractions that Londoners generally don't go to.

Kew here
On Thursday he went to Kew Gardens where he had the rare pleasure of seeing a raffleasia (titan arum - (amorphophallus titanium) in bloom.

I blogged about previous sightings last year, where to see it here in its home soil and the Bogor Botanical Gardens founded by Stamford Raffles, here.

If you're in London and want to see the titan arum, you'd better be quick. The flower starts to fade and droop within a day or two, its pollination work complete, so I was fortunate enough to see it yesterday at its very peak. I see from the latest pictures that the single petal has already started to close slightly, and by Monday the central spike will probably have slumped completely.

Antri dong.

This translates as 'queue, you bastard'. I will be commenting on some local bad habits tomorrow.



12:30 pm |
Friday, April 22, 2005
  Jakartass goes to pot

I'm not an advocate for drug use or abuse. I can't recall the last time I took a course of antibiotics or any proprietary medicine, other than the occasional paracetemol or aspirin for flu.

I do, however, drink a lot of coffee and my current beverage contains red and yellow colours and natrium benzoat (eh?) which tastes really good as it's Fanta Oranggo. I'm also seriously, but legally, addicted to Ardath cigarettes.

As a libertarian, my gut feeling about drug users is that we should be free to imbibe or ingest whatever we like. Of course, this rather naïve statement does not take into account the complex issues of peasant survival, criminal market forces, and the need of so many to escape from 'reality'.

Drug smuggling is in the news this week here in Indonesia. Firstly, Schapelle Corby is detained in a Balinese prison and now awaits sentencing from a panel of judges on whether she will be committed to the death penalty, by a firing squad, for allegedly attempting to import four kilograms of cannabis into Indonesia. (From an email petition currently doing the rounds.)

This petition was forwarded to Jakartass with the following comments:

To dispel any doubt, the only reason I signed is because I oppose the death penalty on principle. Can't say I have much sympathy with the stupid woman but I don't think she should be shot. All the best, JC

I'll sign it but how? What does not make sense to me is why anyone in their right mind would smuggle cannabis of all things IN to Indonesia rather than OUT. I am reliably informed that since the tsunami Jakarta has been awash with premium leaf from Aceh, courtesy, I'd guess, of the military and police. D.

I too will sign it because:
1. I believe Schapell Corby may have been 'set up' by Australian or Indonesian baggage handlers.
2. I do not believe that cannabis should be classified as a Class A drug, i.e. the penalties for possession and small scale carrying should not be as harsh as those for addictive drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
3. I am opposed to the death penalty for ANY crime. (And Indonesia's use of a firing squad, generally in public spaces in the early hours, somehow seems even more barbaric than hanging or electrocution.)

(Update: prosecutors are seeking a life sentence, although presiding judge Linton Sirait said that he still has the power to sentence Corby to death by firing squad, despite the prosecution's call for a life sentence.)

Whilst Australians have been working up a lather on behalf of Schapell Corby, further news this week has been of nine of their compatriots who have been arrested in Bali for allegedly attempting to smuggle heroin (strapped around their bodies) out of the resort island, an offense that carries the death penalty,

The eight men and one woman, aged between 18 and 29, were arrested on Sunday after a 10-week operation between Australian and Indonesian police.

Drug smuggling mules are usually portrayed in the media as being from a poor background trying to support their families back in Nigeria or other 'developing' country. The poor are disposable. So how come this case involves young people from a 'developed' country? Simple greed or plain stupidity?

Grandma's cooking pot

A couple of weeks ago Patricia Tabram became a convicted drug dealer for serving casseroles and cakes laced with cannabis to her friends. But she's unrepentant - the drug has solved her health problems.

"Originally, I suffered terrible depression after the death of my son when he was 14," she says. "And my husband had died and I had nursed my mother till she died, and I was placed on medication for the depression. Then I started to develop arthritis in my knees, and was placed on another kind of medication for that. And I developed - from the combination of medication - a lumpy red rash around my face, tinnitus, lost the hair from the top of my head and had very bad bruising on my arms and legs, blood in my stools and bleeding from my waterworks area. When you get up close to my face I look like an ugly old fossil.

"Since I started medicating with cannabis I don't use my walking stick any more, I don't wear my neck collar, I don't wear my hearing aid."

Besides, she says, "Cannabis lifts depression! Queen Victoria used it for her period pains!"

This is one of Patricia's recipes. Jakartass does not approve. After all, I'm a vegetarian!

Chicken Maryland with cannabis

2lb of roasting chicken in portions
Salt & pepper
Plain flour
1 egg
2-3oz fresh breadcrumbs
2-3oz butter to which add half a level tsp of powdered cannabis
Oil for frying

2-3 bananas
1oz butter
1 tin of creamed sweet corn

1. Place the cannabis butter between the flesh and skin of each portion of chicken, then carefully replace skin.

2. Season the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper, then dust with flour.

3. Beat the egg, and dip in the chicken portions, followed by dusting with the flour.

4. Fry in the just-hot oil, until golden brown.

5. Peel and quarter the bananas and fry in butter.

6. Heat creamed sweet corn and serve as sauce.

Serves 4

P.S. If you have something to say about this post, please do NOT email me. The distractions of constant emails, text and phone messages are a greater threat to IQ and concentration than taking cannabis, according to a survey of befuddled volunteers. Try this quiz if you don't believe me.



11:30 am |
Thursday, April 21, 2005
  Thursday titbits

1. No holiday for me today, although some places in Central Jakarta did shut.

2. No Jakarta Post tomorrow for the likes of you or me unless you're a delegate to the A-A Conference.

In conjunction with the national holiday commemorating Prophet Muhammad's birthday on Friday, The Jakarta Post will run a limited edition that will only be distributed to delegates of the Asian-African Summit.

Wow. A limited edition could be worth a lot, so any delegates reading this are welcome to donate a copy to the Jakartass Archives Trust.

However, I expect that it will mainly consist of the snippets posted in this special online section plus profiles of the junior and, therefore (?), more photogenic delegates.

3. The Guardian has updated its Rebuilding Nusa gallery.

4. I must give a plug to Bill Guerin, that very readable commentator on Indonesian affairs, whose website, Jakarta Eye, has the following to say: JAKARTASS - award winning blog - simply stunning in its breadth.

Cheers Bill. The next round's on me.

5. Because, as Pope John Paul's right hand man, he ran a tight and therefore secretive household, and because of his age, 78, Pope Benedict XVI deserves his pension increase.

So anyone expecting me to comment on his membership of the Hitler Youth, his leadership of the Inquisition, his involvement with Roberto Calvi's 'suicide' and the Chicago mafia, and his shielding of disgraced American Archbishop, Paul C. Marcinkus, is mistaken.

Mind you, there is still a mystery about the 1998 shooting deaths of the Swiss Guard commander, his wife and a young member of the corps in the commander?s apartment inside the Vatican walls.

The Vatican said the young officer shot the couple because he didn't feel appreciated enough, then turned the gun on himself. But many wondered how a guard described as having strange psychological characteristics was allowed to serve the Pope.

Because of the Pope's own "strange psychological characteristics" perhaps?

Expect some inside dope tomorrow.



4:30 pm |
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
  Nice work if you can get it.

Like the Swanker, I can't get too excited by this week's Asia Africa Summit, especially as the rumoured holiday on Thursday may not materialise.

I watched S. Africa's President Mbeki arrive in Jakarta today. My office window overlooks the toll road from the Soekarno-Hatta airport which was specially emptied of regular traffic so he could motor majestically into town with his entourage. Coincidentally, my home lies more or less on the route from Halim airport, so I expect more hold ups this week as I seek to arrive at my various assignations.

I also expect to see lots more security. Today I've seen truckloads of soldiers with machine guns, a policeman at every road junction and road-sweepers galore (who are presumably cops in mufti.). I've also noted an absence of beggars and a lot fewer meals-on-wheels vendors.

Around 60 heads of state/government are expected to arrive in Jakarta on Thursday.

In order to get a taxi home, I generally go under the westbound lanes of the toll road, over a fetid, stinking drainage canal, and then over a footbridge to the far side. Between the underpass and the bridge is a grassy area which is 'home' to half a dozen families who seem to survive by selling the plastic cups and bottles they dredge from the canal.

Today, I strolled past three policemen, dismounted from their trail bikes, who were enjoying a picnic in the park.



5:00 pm |
Monday, April 18, 2005
  Muffin the Mule is now legal !

Good news (or is it?) unearthed this past week is that Muffin the Mule will be returning to television in September 2005 in animated form. "In 2003, Maverick Entertainment acquired the intellectual property rights to Muffin the Mule and is now focused on bringing him out of retirement. The company is investing two million pounds into Muffin's TV makeover and has promised a faithful representation of the classic character."

So this pic is purely for nostalgia fans.

Diamond Geezer, a True Brit, and an Arsenal supporter unfortunately, is acerbic in his views about edible muffins.

The modern muffin bears no relation whatsoever to its traditional namesake. The modern muffin is more cake than bread, more sweet than savoury and far more 3-D than 2-D. It's heavy where its predecessor used to be light, dense where it used to be fluffy and brash where it ought to be delicate. As you may have guessed, I'm not a fan.

'American muffins' are towers of sponge with an overflowing top like an atomic mushroom cloud, and equally toxic. It's impossible to pick one up and eat it because every dimension is too broad compared to the widest stretch of human teeth. Muffins have to be picked apart with your fingers, which then become covered with sticky chocolate or blueberry stains. They lack real flavour, and any lingering aftertaste is probably wholly artificial. Muffins are also unfinishable, at least with a clear conscience, but millions of Britons still plough on to the last crumb all the same, risking pig-like obesity with every daily mouthful.

And merely for the synchronicity of this post, did you know that the one-hit wonders Martha and the Muffins (Echo Beach anyone?) are still making music?

Right, that's it then. Muffin else to say.

What? You expected me to comment on Charlton's latest defeat?

Hell no. I'll leave that to David Lacey who writes, "Almost inevitably it seems that when the clocks go forward the Addicks go back."



6:30 pm |
Sunday, April 17, 2005
  Interesting week ahead?

At the end of this week, immigration officials will have put their stamps on the passports of some 92 nationalities. They are delegates, including 55 heads of state, and observers who have accepted an invitation to the Asian-African Summit - dubbed as one of the biggest meetings of this century.

The coming together of Asian and African leaders in Jakarta and Bandung for a summit on Apr. 22 and Apr. 23, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Asia-Africa Conference, is a good time to reflect on the relevancy of building a "new bridge" between the two continents.

Of course, it will cost a lot and could be a security headache. Residents are anxiously awaiting an announcement that Thursday, when most of the delegates will arrive, will be a public holiday to add to Friday's which is the official celebration of Muhammad's Ascension (or is it his birthday?) which Muslims celebrate on Thursday but the government have moved to Friday in order to have a long weekend which could, supposedly, boost domestic tourism.

And, of course, there will be traffic problems with an extra 60 luxury Toyota Camry sedans, which will be used by the chairpersons (or their deputies) of state institutions, including the People's Consultative Assembly, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court and the Supreme Audit Agency, and statesmen including President Susilo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Cabinet members, after the summit wraps up on April 24.

Jakartass supports the notion of the conference. Anything for an extra day off. And I can safely predict that Monday may also be added due to safety concerns. This is because the delegates are scheduled to go walkabout in Bandung, where the original Asia-Africa Conference was held 50 years ago.

Delegates in bad odour

With Indonesia's volcanoes stirring in a domino effect following the movements of the tectonic plates in the past 3 months, there are fears about the 2,076-meter Mount Tangkuban Perahu, which overlooks Bandung and has been spewing out white ash, thick smoke and increased levels of hydrogen sulfide gas (more commonly known as rotten egg gas).

Superstitious locals believe a major eruption is an omen of major political significance.

Is that coincidence or what?



12:00 am |
Saturday, April 16, 2005
  Playing catch up

Work and recalcitrant ISPs mean that I've not posted much that is deep and meaningless this week. This is a catch up post.

But first, how come Fair Isle (which) is about three miles long and 1.5 miles wide and lies about 25 miles south-west of Sumburgh, on the Shetland mainland has broadband internet and Jakartass, living in a teeming metropolis, doesn't and can't get it?

Most of the 70 or so islanders - there were almost 400 a century ago - live in crofts on the south of the island. The north is largely uninhabited, rocky moorland. There are no pubs, restaurants or hotels. But there is a single room primary school, which takes pupils aged five to 11.

Back in Blighty, Charlton's blogging fans - here, here, here, here and here - still feel optimistic about being an Addick. That's because we could do worse and support Newcastle, who are 12th compared to our 9th. (It's a good job that Our Man in Hanoi, a Toon man, is doing a good job; otherwise he'll be really upset.)

The above topic is for fellow Addicks who don't want to read any more of my pearls of wisdom. (Just kidding, gang. Let's hope we all have a good day.)

Hit or Myth?

Malicious rumours have been circulating in the blogosphere that Jakartass lacks the courage of his convictions. That is a lie. I don't have any convictions outstanding; the slate has been wiped clean under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, 1974.

Furthermore, it is alleged that I have something to hide in that there isn't a picture of me prominently displayed on my blog nor can my profile be easily accessed. That is also a lie.

I have a UK ID card, my profile is here and this is me ...

So I'm intrigued that I generally get comments from what I feel are frivolous posts, like the popemobile and my cookery corner and very few, if any, when I write about the core issues here in Indonesia.

Thanks Friskodude for making the effort to read my post about the whereabouts of the Tsunami Aid ~ Great article. Must have taken you like forever to dig up and post all that information.
Yes, it did, Carl, but only because of the crap ISPs.
And a friend, a sometime commentator in the Jakarta Post on the nationality laws affecting expats with Indonesian spouses, has written as follows: I've been away for 3 weeks in Lombok/Bali for a much needed holiday. Very nice and did a lot of snorkeling.
Lucky bastard!

Nice too to see that Wimbledon have been promoted again! Three more and we are back in the football league!
(Great news. This is a genuine fan-based club. Something Charlton Athletic FC must never forget.)

I hope your blog is going well.
I think it is with an average of 350 unique visitors a week. And I'm still enjoying the challenge of adding my daily, if possible, twopennerth.

I notice you focus a lot on the tsunami relief effort. One thing that I think is particularly outrageous is that because the event has been deemed a disaster NONE of the infrastructure spending will involve tenders. The scope for malfeasance is therefore huge and Economics Minister Bakrie must be loving it as he will be giving a lot of projects to the companies he owns!. A lot of the projects will also go via the military, who will of course benefit from spectacular markups. Cement will be sold at vastly inflated prices for example. Crazy stuff, but I'm not surprised.

Yet Aceh Governor Abdullah Puteh has been fired and sentenced in absentia to 10 years in jail for corruption. Of course, he may yet get off on appeal citing some obscure legal technicality, but this should serve as a warning to others who may have thought themselves above the law and untouchable. Readers may recall that I've noted that Puteh's lawyers are those who serve the Cendana Clan, the Suharto family.

Judge Menon said Puteh was spared a heavier sentence because it was his first offense, he had a family to take care of, he had returned Rp.3.6 billion to the state, and he had behaved politely during his trial.

He also said Puteh must remain in detention, once he is released from hospital, if he appeals the verdict. In the past, courts have allowed numerous convicted public officials and military officers to remain free pending appeal.

This leads me to recommend a new kid on the blog, if you include our neighbour Singapore. Friskodude spotted this one (Hey, that's two plugs in one post. You owe me, Dude.)

Gilbert Koh, a lawyer, former prosecutor, 31 years old, father of two, and currently working in the banking industry aims to demystify Singapore Legal Mumbo Jumbo, providing a legal perspective to bloggers' commentary on the social, economic & political issues of Singapore.

A genuine humanitarian, Gilbert writes extremely well too. Try his post No-one Is Guilty So Everyone Is Guilty for starters.

The laws of Singapore are considered to be harsh by many, including me. But at least you know on which side of the authoritarian line you are, rather as we did in the 'good old days' of Suharto's New Order.

We need someone to do a similar job to Gilbert in this country, to explain where we stand legally, rather than financially, preferably in reasonable English.

My thought immediately turns to Frans Hendra Winarta whose resumé includes the following: American Bar Association (ABA); American Chamber of Commerce (AM-CHAM); council member of the International Bar Association (IBA); the IBA's Human Rights Institute (HRI); member of the user's committee of the Erasmus Law Library; member of IKADIN (Indonesian Bar Association); member of the Governing Board of the National Law Commission (Komisi Hukum Nasional or KHN); appointed as an arbitrator of the Indonesian National Board of Arbitration (BANI); International Chamber of Commerce (ICC); member of the Board of Trustees of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI).

Practice Areas: civil and criminal litigation; corporate law; intellectual property rights; labour and employment law; alternative dispute resolution and arbitration.

Impressive, huh? I've been privileged to read his doctoral thesis, Legal Aid - A Human Right, Not A Favour and had several conversations about the legal system here.

And there are other outspoken lawyers here who wouldn't be seen defending notorious corrupters. I was going to suggest the noted criminologist and human rights activist, Mulyana W. Kusumah but he was arrested on Friday night, last week, by the Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK) for allegedly attempting to pay a Rp.150 million ($15,800) bribe to a member of the State Audit Board (BPK) at the Hotel Ibis in Slipi, West Jakarta.

This was in his capacity as a member of the General Elections Commission (KPU) member. His arrest could taint the reputation of other KPU members -- Nazaruddin Syamsuddin, Ramlan Surbakti, Chusnul Mar'iyah, Valina Singka Subekti, Anas Urbaningrum, Daan Dimara and Rusadi Kantaprawira as well as Minister of Justice and Human Rights Hamid Awaluddin, a former member of the KPU.

That's because the body overseeing last year's elections was tainted with rumours of mark-ups and the award of contracts without a transparent tendering process for the supply of ballot papers, which, as there were some 150 million printed, represented a fair-sized forest, and other supplies.

A coalition of five non-government organizations in August 2004, one month before the run-off presidential election, presented KPK with a report alleging that KPU had marked up its budget expenditure for the April 5 general election by more than Rp.600 billion ($63.2 million).

KPU responded to the report by suing the coalition for defamation and urging police to investigate the members of the NGOs. Police suspended their investigation at the request of the KPK.

All these acronyms start getting confusing, especially when trying to work out who the good guys are. That there is a greater public display of nabbing the bad guys is to be applauded, yet this may well have been a setup, or a personal grievance. I can't tell and will follow this story with interest.

As I continue to watch the proceedings of the Munir assassination investigation.

The State Intelligence Agency (BIN) claims to be cooperating with an investigation into the murder of acclaimed human rights campaigner Munir, but one of its former operatives allegedly involved in the crime has been anything but cooperative.

Former BIN secretary Nurhadi Jazuli, who was recently appointed Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, has so far failed to comply with four requests for a meeting with a government-backed fact-finding team investigating the murder case.

Analysts say his persistent refusal to meet with the team lends credence to allegations that BIN was involved in the murder of Munir, who was killed by arsenic poisoning while on a Garuda Indonesia flight to the Netherlands last September.

His refusal also indicates that BIN may only be paying lip service to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono?s instruction that all state agencies give full assistance to the team's investigation.

Finally, as this is a lengthy post, I won't bother with any pictures. However, if you want to view some nice scenery of Mount Galang in West Sumatra, which is currently scaring the hell out of local residents, click here.



4:30 pm |
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
  Mind Blogger

After trying for some time to get Blogger to accept the post below without them sending me error messages, I found that this picture had been inserted below the 'cake' picture. I have never seen it before or heard of the Pyramid Alehouse and can only assume that the pic arrived courtesy of a crossed line.

Or is that too simplistic?

Still, if anyone from the Alehouse cares to send me a a few bottles of IPA ....



7:30 pm |
Cookery Corner

Apart from "Dari mana, Mister?' and "Mau kemana, Mister?", which translate as "Where are you from?" and "Where are you going?", the most common and therefore boring question asked of any expat here is "Do you like Indonesian food?".

Well, as with all things, I do and I don't. Those of you who want to know how to prepare nasi goreng (fried rice) can do your own Googling, but I have found a local blog devoted to the culinary art of baking. Try this cake which is, of course, typically Indonesian and popular with dentists.

Chocolate Cappuccino Cheesecake

alas : (base)
125 gr remah biskuit gandum (grain/digestive biscuit crumbs)
2 sdm (2 dessertspoons) brown sugar atau gula palem (or palm sugar)
90 gr mentega tawar (unsalted butter)

bahan : (filling)
375 gr cream cheese, biarkan dalam suhu ruang (at room temperature)
125 gr gula kastor (castor sugar)
2 butir telur (2 eggs)
1 sdm kopi instan, larutkan dalam (dessert spoon of instant coffee, dissolved)
4 sdm air panas (4 dessertspoons of hot water)
½ sdt kayu manis bubuk (½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon)
150 dark cooking chocolate, cincang kasar dan lelehkan (coarse ground)

topping :
whip cream (sic)
permen coklat bentuk biji kopi (chocolate drops)

Yummie or Yeuk?



6:00 pm |
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
For Sale

One careful expat owner, carefully maintained,
highly Polished original condition.

inc. teleprompt, multi-lingual dictionary, condom dispenser & commode.

NB. This has absolutely NO endorsement from the Pope Blog. Unfortunately.


8:30 pm |
Monday, April 11, 2005
  Tsunami aid siphoned off?

Questions are currently, and quite rightly, being raised about where the donations to the victims of the Aceh Tsunami are going.

There is, of course, the implication that Indonesian bureaucrats and the military are feathering their own nests. Given Indonesia's endemic corruption and without proof to the contrary this may seem to be a well-justified suspicion but news of large-scale malfeasance does not (yet) exist.

These are early days in the reconstruction of Aceh, and Nias and Simeulue hit by the massive aftershock on March 28th. These are also early days in the SBY presidency and as he mends fences with regional neighbours others are getting on with the mundane tasks of rebuilding bridges, schools and providing other basic relief.

Local groups, such as the Electric Lamb Mission and SurfAid International, both operating out of Padang in West Sumatra, are two such groups.

After departing Krueng Raya volunteers spent a lot of time repacking aid material that arrived at Krueng Raya wet. Rain on the trip from Medan caused some delays and the last trucks arrived in the late afternoon. We had to load everything by hand and the dock workers went home at 1800. Last 30 tons of food and fuel in drums all loaded by volunteers. We worked all night and completed at dawn so everyone exhausted. Heavy swell after leaving BA and entering Indian Ocean made admin work impossible while underway. We had to secure computers and equipment on top deck. Work focused on building shelving for medical supplies and finishing installation of the water-maker.

Teams are being dropped into the isolated regions of central Nias by helicopter, then spending two days in the areas trekking into villages which have limited access. The search and rescue teams are finding that up to 80% of dwellings are now uninhabitable while 90% - 100% of the populations are displaced. Food supplies are low.

These two local organizations and the many international groups are providing services from their own funding sources.

· A delegation from Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, funded by the city and Turkish citizens, is sweeping streets in the devastated city of Banda Aceh and has even shipped in a bakery that turns out 10,000 loaves of bread each day.

· British-based Oxfam is employing thousands in cash-for-work programs in Aceh ranging from home-building to hat-weaving. It distributes women's underwear and teaches villagers to harvest rainwater.

· Red Cross staff from Sweden, Austria and tiny Macedonia are helping provide clean drinking water.

The major concern lies with the funding 'promised' by governments. Australia's commitment is one such example.

Why is Australia giving half the $1 billion as loans?

Why does Australia's tsunami commitment directly reflect the objectives of Australia's aid program to Indonesia outlined by the Foreign Minister in his statement of May 2004 - seven months before the tsunami struck?

Why is the package that was widely credited as a "tsunami aid package" being dedicated to other regions of Indonesia?

Careful attention to Prime Minister John Howard's statements indicates that this $1 billion is not about aid to tsunami affected Aceh, but to the Australia-Indonesia partnership.

As I noted on Wednesday April 6th, and as reported in the Down To Earth March Newsletter, Indonesia owes around US$1.76 billion to the British government (mainly for arms sales). While it is true that this represents just a small fraction of the overall debt of US$132 billion, it is still a significant sum, far outstripping, for example, the $96 million that the UK government has pledged to the tsunami aid effort.

The UN has already received an unprecedented 90% of the $977 million appeal launched by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked for in January. These funds came from taxpayers' money and private donations and has mostly been spent providing food, shelter and medical help for tsunami survivors. One would hope that strict accountancy procedures are in place in the U.N.

As U.N. envoy Erskine Bowles said of the corruption claims after a recent visit to Aceh, "I think any time you had a disaster of this magnitude, affecting this many people and with the great outpouring of support from the world community, whether it happened here or in Europe or in Africa or other parts of Asia or Latin America or North America, that you would have some isolated incidents of money not ending up where it was intended to."

He added. "The key is, are you setting up the right accounting, the right transparency so that you can prevent the vast majority of it?"

Ah, the key.

Following a conference in Jakarta called to discuss ways to minimize corruption in the distribution of aid, Jak Jabes of the ADB said, "Donors should coordinate with governments and among themselves to avoid duplication of assistance schemes.They should also establish uniform procurement rules, maintain and publish clear books and records and provide assurance of full internal and external controls. They must further make a careful assessment of the local conditions so that allocated resources match needs."

This is understood by the Indonesian government which is arguing that it should be the overall coordinator of the reconstruction. The chairman of the National Planning Agency, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, admitted that she was "frankly" worried that the desire of so many donors - including governments and aid groups - to plan their own programs quickly was overwhelming her government.

"It is too hard for my own staff - let alone the local governments in Aceh that have been so devastated by this crisis - to have to deal with the additional challenge of different standards and rules for so many different donors," Dr Indrawati said.

"We understand that we will need to put in place a strong and independent governance framework to ensure accountability, transparency, participation, fairness, effectiveness and integrity. This week we will be announcing governance arrangements for the reconstruction that are unprecedented in the history of Indonesia."

Jakartass believes that Indonesia needs to be trusted. It welcomes the offers of help, including the essential development of an accountability framework. An international overview could well be the catalyst which forces a new paradigm of transparency here so it is premature to accuse and condemn the country.



3:00 pm |
Sunday, April 10, 2005
  Another earthquake in West Sumatra

On 4/10/2005 11:14:19 AM UTC an earthquake of magnitude 6.3 has struck the unpopulated region of Kep. Mentawai Region, Indonesia in Indonesia.

Whether international humanitarian aid is needed must be decided by an expert. However, the following automatically calculated elements can help. This earthquake has potentially a medium humanitarian impact and the affected region has high vulnerability to natural disasters.

The earthquake occurred at 17h local time. At this time a day, more people are at work and therefore more vulnerable to collapsing office buildings. During traffic hours, people can be affected by collapsing bridges and other road infrastructure.

The above is taken from the Global Disaster Alert System website and the text is computer generated.

Except, of course, that it's Sunday and the inhabitants of Siberut island don't have a road infrastructure, let alone traffic. Residents in Padang, the provincial capital, were alarmed however.



8:41 pm |
  Ecumenical, that's Jakartass.

Double take

Indonesian flag

When I saw this T-shirt I was about to think ill of the dead. But then I realised that Indonesia has few connections with Texas. Apart from the oil business of course.

on the day the pope died
the most impoverished people of the land
who are mostly
Black, Beige and Brown
still genuflect to a white man
heads bowed
kneeling on the ground
not realizing they've been
hoodwinked into thinking that they've sinned
giving their hard earned cash
to one of the richest men on earth
while the kingdom of heaven is within

Jesus means business so why not wash away your sins with these towelettes?

Only $4.50 for a pack of six!

Wrestle for Jesus
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Ephesians 6:12

The Christian Wrestling Federation (CWF) is a group of talented athletes using amazing feats, athletic ability, and entertaining stories to share the gift of Jesus Christ. The CWF uses a unique evangelistic approach to embrace the youth of today.

The Christian Womens Wrestling was founded at a recent prayer breakfast (of fresh fruit, bran croissants and mint tea). A few ... ladies discussed strategic and novel ways of reaching sinners for our Lord. Mrs. Betty "Knock Out" Bowers of Bringing Integrity to Christian Homemakers suggested professional wrestling. She successfully enlisted Beverly "Boom-Boom" LaHaye of Concerned Women of Amtrica and Barbara "Big Mama" Johnson of Spatula Ministries.

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12:30 pm |
Saturday, April 09, 2005
  The pot is calling ...

If I had had more time this week, and if Blogger hadn't been buggering around last night, I would have potentially broken the law, of Canada that is. As a Brit living in Indonesia (and as Jakartass) this would not have bothered me in the slightest. As it is, as of yesterday you are now at liberty to read the following.

On Tuesday, I was tipped off that a Canadian blogger, Captain Ed, had been ordered to take down stuff on legal grounds, felt bad about it, then saw that it was on prominent display on USA blogs, so recanted, and reposted it.

The story concerned a political scandal involving the Public Works Ministry, a government effort called the Sponsorship Program, and allegations of corruption in the ruling Liberal Party (which) has Canada abuzz with rumours of payoffs, Mob ties, and snap elections.

For the last two years, Canadian politics has been gripped by the so-called "sponsorship scandal" - tens of millions of dollars in government contracts which were funnelled into advertising firms closely connected with the Liberal government for little or no work, but with shadowy rumours that much of the money found its way back into Liberal coffers.

Prime Minister Paul Martin, himself a Liberal, appointed the Gomery Commission to investigate these charges and determine whether to bring charges against government officials for corruption and malfeasance.

In the interests of free speech, particularly where it concerns political skulduggery, I passed on the story to Chris Myrick, a Canadian who resides in the Asian blogosphere. In his post, he ponders the legality of publishing material outside the country which has put a ban on its publication, especially as his server is in Canada.

The publication ban has now been lifted on at least some of the testimony being given to Justice Gomery. This means that Canadian citizens can now learn in their mainstream media about the scandal. One reason that the ban was lifted must have been because it was not possible to keep the lid on the story once it had been exposed by (Captain) Edward Morrissey in his blog and, through interviews with him, by American newspapers.

... the kettle

What Jakartass finds particularly intriguing is that foreign media continue to hammer Indonesia and other 'developing' countries for their pernicious corruption as if they have clean hands.

The latest 'scandal' here involves the purchase of a villa in Geneva to house Indonesia's ambassador to the United Nations. On Monday, the government repudiated a report in a Swiss newspaper that tsunami relief funds were diverted.

To you and me, US$8.1 million for a house may seem excessive, but then we are not ambassadors, the house belongs to Indonesia and will, presumably, increase in value, and its purchase was approved in the 2004 state budget. Unfortunate timing, maybe, but so are all earthquakes and tsunamis.

Besides, international bodies, lending agencies and civil society has (sic) been working together to set up measures to ensure the tsunami aid reaches its intended targets.

... black

Of course, corruption is endemic here. The suspended Aceh Governor Abdullah Puteh, on trial for allegedly marking up the price of a Russian helicopter by almost Rp.11 billion ($1.16 million), has now been accused of embezzling a further Rp.4.13 billion to pay for his high-priced team of hotshot lawyers.

Puteh's lawyers are among the country's most expensive, including Muhammad Assegaf, O.C. Kaligis, Juan Felix Tampubolon and Rocky Waworuntu.

They also serve the Suharto family.


The UK, which will hold a general election on May 5th, has its own scandal involving Birmingham city councillors who organised forgery and corruption, through a campaign of bribery, death threats and intimidation in order to manipulate postal votes in last June's local elections.

Indonesian residents, local and expat alike, will recognize this scenario, especially if they care to note that the police, whose visit came on the night before the poll closed, remained remarkably unsuspicious.



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