A Letter to the Jakarta Post
Don't you think your paper's website would have been a good communications media for warning the population of the potential tsunami that could have resulted from the recent earthquake?I expected to see something. However you were silent!BOB HARTMAN
Miami, Florida. USA
Well, far-be-it the role of Jakartass to serve as the mainstream media's mouthpiece, but the above letter showed an alarming lack of knowledge of conditions here in Indonesia.
I first heard about the earthquake when I awoke some seven hours after it occurred. My information came from the Guardian
and I posted at 7.30am
. Admittedly, there was no mention of it yet in the online Post, but then I doubt that the staff had arrived in the office. The paper edition, which is published c.11pm had been printed and was in the process of being delivered - I get mine around 6 every morning.
What Bob seems to have overlooked is that The Post is the only English language daily here. Its circulation is limited to expats and the educated milieu. In other words, it is a serious paper unlikely to be read by the coastal dwellers in potential danger areas. These people are therefore also unlikely to want access to The Post's website
Secondly, the earthquake brought down power and phone lines. Very few folk have satellite or cable connections enabling broadband access to the internet. Although I live in the capital city, I don't and am dependent on a phone modem. Recently, the Telkom monopoly has, probably through complacency as much as inefficiency, provided a less than satisfactory service. All ISPs buy bandwidth from Telkom, so my recent problems in connecting with Indosat are probably connected to Telkom's lack of customer service.
The profits of the telecommunications companies come from cell phones. There is no financial incentive in providing a service that meets the needs of the public at large or far afield as in Nias.
A site that is worth book-marking is the Global Alert Disaster System - Earthquakes. The information given on this page was automatically created by a computer on 3/28/2005 5:11:33 PM UTC (1.03 hours after the event).
It has concise and precise information about the potential damage and the need for outside assistance. For example: The population in the area of this earthquake if 1 people/km². The earthquake occurred at 22h local time. At this time a day, more people are at home and therefore more vulnerable to collapsing residential buildings.
And: Resilience is the capacity of the population to cope with a hazard. Since much of investments in earthquake preparedness and available funds for quick response is related to household income, the GDP per capita can be used as a rough indicator of resilience.
Indonesia has a GDP per capita of 961 PPP$ (Parity Purchasing Power Dollar, about 1 Euro) and is therefore part of the low level income countries. Therefore, the earthquake happened in an area of low resilience.
Next time Bob, and we can expect more aftershocks
, don't blame The Post for your lack of knowledge.