Thursday, June 30, 2005
  Blind Logic
Occasionally I receive an email newsletter suggesting that if I can't read it I should go to www.whatever.

In this spirit, hearing that the Chinese blogosphere is being censored thanks to the extensive, technologically sophisticated, and broad-reaching system of Internet filtering with the assistance of Microsoft, Cisco Systems et al, and that Blogger might be blocked, if you can't read this, please send me an email.



5:30 am |
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
  News in generals

An intriguing example of symbiosis is the appointment of Brig. Gen. Marsudi Hanafi to head the 30-strong police team tasked with following up on the recommendations of a government-sanctioned fact-finding team that recently completed a six-month investigation into the murder of human rights campaigner Munir.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Soenarko said yesterday that Marsudi was chosen because of his experience with the fact-finding team. "It will be easier for him to investigate the report and follow up on the recommendations he himself made with the fact-finding team."

Furthermore, unlike the fact-finding team, the police team had the power under the Criminal Law Procedures Code to force people to appear for questioning.

Whether that means that General Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono, head of the Badan Intelijen Negara (BIN), the State Intelligence Agency, will finally come clean on the involvement of BIN, or its operatives, in Munir's assassination remains, as always, a matter of conjecture.

However, do bear in mind that Hendropriyono has already admitted other nefarious activities, including the bugging of Australia's embassy in Jakarta during the East Timor crisis. (Thanks Swanker for that link.)

Which leads neatly into the news that (that) a UN panel of legal experts has recommended (that) Indonesian security forces and local militia leaders responsible for crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999 should face an international tribunal if Jakarta does not prosecute them effectively within six months.

If it does not, the report recommends that the UN security council create an international criminal tribunal in a third state or refer the matter to the International Criminal Court.

Given the propensity of the Indonesian generals to grant themselves immunity, any international pressure is to be welcomed.

Another General (ret.), Governor Sutiyoso of Jakarta, is well-pleased. The view from City Hall is about to be enhanced with a new attraction emulating the Las Vegas Bellagio dancing fountains.

Well, he might be pleased, but the Jakarta Post is not.

With music and choreographed laser beams, the Rp. 26 billion (US$2.7 million) project is simply an embarrassment amid recent reports that at least 8,455 toddlers in the city are suffering from chronic undernourishment.



5:30 pm |
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
  Richard Whiteley R.I.P.

Britain is mourning the early death of Richard Whiteley who hosted a game show, Countdown.

Normally I wouldn't comment but what is particularly sad is that this wasn't a show of instant laughs or gratification. In fact, it was never broadcast in peak viewing hours so the audience were pensioners, students, the unemployed and layabouts. Like me. The majority of those tuned in weren't in fact glued to their screens.

Countdown's premise is/was simple: try to make the longest word from nine letters, vowels and consonants, selected by contestants. For the 30-second countdown the c.4 million viewrers would try to 'beat' the contestants. I often could.

Then there was a round involving number manipulation. I rarely could so I would gaze at Carol Vorderman who was a new kind of game show hostess, not only looking attractive but revealing her intellectual ability by carrying out fast and accurate mathematical calculations as part of the game.

That Countdown had run every weekday since being the first programme broadcast by Channel 4 on November 2nd, 1982 says much about British TV's quality. Both Richard and Carol graduated from Cambridge University so, and in spite of the simplicity of the show's concept, those of us who scheduled our days around its pre-evening slot were able to feel smug if our points total nearly reached those of the contestants.

Intellectual gamesmanship as it were.



5:30 pm |
Monday, June 27, 2005
  Corruption is like a fart ....
..... you can smell it, but cannot see it.
Amien Rais

The most frequently asked question by those of us working in the blogging business is "So, what else is new?". It's a question that Jakartass asks, on behalf of readers about any new announcement, pronouncement or news item, especially if it concerns corruption. Not all of them are newsworthy, if news is defined in part by its freshness and by its having something new to convey. If it fails the test, it really is old news. And old news is no news to the increasingly skeptical and demanding public.

Besides, who are we to judge?

According to Ardiansyah Parman, the Ministry of Trade's director general of domestic trade, critics ... had no business evaluating the results of his ministry's hard work, arguing that, "Judging the results is the territory of God".

As having a religion is required in Indonesia - though unfortunately the Ministry of Religious Affairs is one of the most corrupt ministries here - all Indonesians (and, presumably expat bloggers) are expected to follow Ardiansyah's advice.

So, skeptics and demanders alike, you are invited to write your own post on Indonesia's corruption.

Google has just over 1 million pages archived and you will find 144 in the Jakarta Post archived over the past year.

Help yourselves.

Or ask your God.



4:30 pm |
Sunday, June 26, 2005
  Instant Panacea

It was Edmund Burke's dictum that for evil to triumph, all that is required is for good men to do nothing. Yet an alternative case can be made: in the global altruism business, it is, indeed, sometimes better not to do anything at all.

Whilst worldwide audiences are keenly looking forward to Live8, there are justifiable concerns that Saint Bob may not be doing the good that he, and most of the rest of us, think he is.

A niece writes: Hi everyone. Just wanted to share something with you all....... I have won tickets to the Live8 concert in London's Hyde Park on July 2nd !!!!! I am so excited, I have been jumping around the house. Thought I should stop to share my good news.

Good news?

I don't know much about Live Aid or how it became one of the first global humanitarian crusades. I was somewhere remote, in the Himalayas as I recall, at the time, out of touch with the rest of the world except by snail mail. Although I recognise that celebrities have spearheaded mass movements, I can't say that my social awareness has been raised because a media personage has turned me on to an issue.

And therein lies my pondering. Fifty percent of us live in an era of mass communication and this is turning us into zombies. We buy the same products because there are fewer manufacturers. The only difference between us is the number of superfluous add-ons on our handphones.

My boss' son is very proud of his. He doesn't use it for communication; in fact, he has only got a couple of numbers programmed in, but apparently it makes him feel cool ~ is that still the right word? ~ when he's posing in a café surrounded by the lasses he wants to impress. In spite of globalization, his knowledge of the world is limited to Jakarta and, probably, Singapore where his family goes shopping.

Our involvement in causes is vicarious; let others suffer on our behalf. We can assuage our consciences with a swipe of our credit and/or debit cards, an instant panacea. Everything is accessible at the touch of a keypad.

BBC reporter Ben Brown returned to Meulaboh, Aceh, to follow up one woman's plight.

Rohati must be baffled, even bewildered by our behaviour. She has been singled out by us not once, but twice. Both times she has bared her soul for our camera. Both times I have listened sympathetically and then walked away.

I give her money, a considerable amount by Indonesian standards. But then it occurs to me that perhaps poor Rohati believes that because we have come back to see her again and accorded her such special treatment, we can deliver something more than just a fistful of cash.

Here in Jakarta a group of expats is concerned with the plight of so-called street children.

Street Children Care is a project of Rotary Club Prapatan, all profits made from the sales of our Merchandise goes 100% to our projects. We do not deduct any costs for administration and all our representatives are contributing their time and efforts voluntarily.

The Street Children Care donor ship program asks for an annual contribution of only USD 100. With this contribution we will be able to sponsor a Child for School Education and after school activities in the Street Children Care Activity Houses.

For Companies and interested organizations we have a special Business Sponsor Program that allows businesses to confirm or underline our mission, vision and goals by donating money for our project. Product and service participations are also a very suitable way for them to help our experience has learned in past.

It is a Jakartass contention that one should do more than donate money. Kampung Kids, for example, is in desperate need of computers in order to provide additional skill, self-esteem and greater job opportunities. They also provide sewing classes for mothers, providing 10 ladies with a new skill and the chance to earn additional income through sales.

The issue of street children is complex, although poverty is generally the root cause. Read Jakarta Kid for an overview. His personal insights can be found here.

He, like Jakartass, is a Global Voice, yet what we have to say is a mere reflection of an individual trying to make sense of a rapidly shrinking world.

Read this posting on Waiter Rant and ponder. It says more about the power of an individual to care for humanity than, I suspect, Live8 ever will.



12:30 pm |
Saturday, June 25, 2005
  Six months on.

John Aglionby in Aceh
Before the Boxing Day tsunami I'd never met anyone who had suffered so much that they had effectively lost their identity. In regular trips to the devastated regions in the last six months I've met thousands of such 'ghosts'; once proud people reduced to bedraggled, grieving bodies dressed in donated clothes and kept alive by the world's largesse.

Rebuilding Nusa
Vegetable patches and cake stalls are the small but significant signs of rebirth in Nusa, a village in Aceh, Indonesia.. But though its people are eking out new lives, fears about their long-term future remain.

Yet, even now, heartwarming stories still emerge out of the wreckage. Only this week, in the Aceh province of Indonesia hardest hit by the tsunami, a father and daughter were reunited for the first time since December 26.

Read More

Guardian archives

(Link corrected, Mrs.C.)


3:30 pm |
Friday, June 24, 2005

No BIN role in Munir case: Former chief

Jakartass, Jakarta

Former intelligence chief A.M. Hendropriyono denied on Thursday allegations that the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) was involved in the murder of human rights campaigner Munir.

"I never ordered the murder. If it is the work of the institution, I should know. (But) if it is the work of individuals at BIN, then let the legal process proceed," Hendropriyono said at the Jakartass office on Thursday.

Hendropriyono visited Jakartass to clarify Thursday's posting "Munir's Assassins Hinted At" quoting officials from the government-sanctioned fact-finding team investigating Munir's death, who said that BIN officials were believed to have been involved in the murder.

He said that he had no motivation to kill Munir although they held sharply contrasting views on different issues, including on how to curb terrorism.

"Many may have connected me with the death of Munir because I once urged the authority of this country to produce a tough regulation to curb terrorism, while Munir was against such an idea. Munir had also criticized the intelligence agency in many ways ... but it (such criticism) would not give me enough motivation to kill him," Hendropriyono said.

In its report set for submission to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono today, the fact-finding team concluded that there was evidence BIN officials were involved in the poisoning of Munir aboard a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam on Sept. 7 last year.

The mandate of the team expired yesterday and it was scheduled to meet the President after Friday prayers earlier today.

The report, however, did not definitively state that BIN as an institution was behind the crime, nor did it state how deeply BIN individuals were believed to be involved, or posit any motivation for the murder.

Throughout its investigation, BIN officials had blocked the team's efforts to gain access to documents and to its arms warehouse.

The team had previously attempted to summons Hendropriyono three times for questioning over the case, but the retired four-star Army general refused to respond, describing the team as arrogant and lacking professionalism, and said it had no legal right to question him.

"The team's egotism could actually be worse than that of (former internal security agency) Kopkamtib," he said, pointing out that the legal basis for the team was only a presidential decree, while that of Kopkamptib was based on a law.

Kopkamptib, or the Operational Command for the Restoration of Security and Order, was an instrument of the military during the New Order regime. The feared agency's officers could summon, arrest, detain and interrogate people deemed to be acting against the regime without an arrest warrant.

In its findings, the fact-finding team suggested the President order the police to launch a full investigation against top BIN officials who were in charge of the agency when Munir died.

Hendropriyono was the head of BIN at the time of Munir's murder.

He stressed that he would respond to any police summons.

"I will respond to the police. I would be violating the law if I didn't respond to the police, or even to (National Commission of Human Rights) Komnas HAM," he said.

"Do you all know the reason why? Because the police and Komnas HAM have the authority to do so (summon me). They have the law as their legal basis, not merely a Presidential Decree. Indeed, I have voluntarily come to the police to clarify my position on the case," Hendropriyono said, referring to his visit to the Police Headquarters on June 11.

Rest assured that Jakartass will continue to follow this case.

And so will The Jakarta Post.

This case must not be one of several thrown in the closet, where we keep all the other skeletons for fear of prodding sleeping, powerful dragons.

Munir's death will remain a test case for Susilo's administration. Can the President make a significant contribution to breaking down the wall put up many years ago around what has become a comfortable cushion of impunity?

He must.



5:00 pm |
Thursday, June 23, 2005
  Munir's Assassins Hinted At

Who killed Munir?

Human rights in the sense of human solidarity has created a new universal and equal language going beyond racial, gender, ethnic or religious boundaries. That is why we consider it a doorway to dialogue for people of all socioeconomic groups and all ideologies.
Munir Said Thalib

What everybody thought they knew has now been confirmed. In their report submitted to SBY today, the government-sanctioned fact finding team appointed to track down the assassins of Munir have concluded that the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) is believed to have been involved in a conspiracy to murder Munir.

The report, however, did not definitively state that BIN committed an institutional crime, nor did it state how deeply BIN individuals were involved. In addition they did not find a clear motive behind the murder, mostly because of the agency's reluctance to give the team complete access to certain relevant documents and its arms warehouse.

According to Marsudi Hanafi, the head of the team investigating his death, Munir's killers considered murdering him in his car and even by sorcery.

Mr Hanafi said he knew this information because he had received documents detailing the various options. But he added that he could not disclose where the documents had come from.

Munir actually died during a flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam last September, after his food was apparently poisoned.

As for BIN's suggested involvement, it can't have helped that former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Hendropriyono and his former deputy Muchdi Purwopranjono ... both ... failed to comply with two summonses for questioning by the fact-finding team investigating the murder of human rights campaigner Munir.

In a staggering display of the scornful arrogance that was prevalent during the era of former dictator Suharto, Hendropriyono ... publicly mocked the team, accusing it of being completely unprofessional and seeking only to tarnish his name.

The dapper retired four-star lieutenant general, nicknamed 'the Butcher of Lampung' by his critics over a 1989 massacre of Muslim youths, is now suing two members of the team for slander. His lawyer has derided the late Munir and callously questioned why President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono felt it necessary to form a special team to investigate the activist's death.

This page links to 100 pages by Roy Tupai which reference Munir. If you Google there are 8,690 links. You can also buy a DVD of a TV documentary about the case for $58.17.

The truth is out there somewhere and the time for innuendo is over. If SBY acts decisively, then there is hope for Indonesia, hope that society is finally on the mend and that some good will come from Munir's tragic death.



4:30 pm |
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
  Let those without sin ....

"Sin creates (an inclination) to sin; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts. This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgment of good and evil. Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense at its root."
Para. 1865, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, quoted here.

While Filipinos mourn the loss of their only Cardinal Sin, here in Indonesia we still have all seven.

* lust - sexual desire, such as desiring sex with a person one is not married to.

* gluttony - wasting of food, either through overindulgence in food, drink or intoxicants, misplaced desire for food for its sensuality, or withholding food from the needy.

* avarice - a desire to possess more than one has need or use for or, according to Dante, 'excessive love of money and power'.

* sloth - laziness; idleness and wastefulness of time allotted.

* wrath - inappropriate feelings of hatred, revenge or even denial, as well as punitive desires outside of justice.

* envy - resentment of others for their possessions ~ in this case, a boyfriend..

* pride - a desire to be important or attractive to others or excessive love of self.

Several of these sins interlink, and various attempts at causal hierarchy have been made. For example, pride (love of self out of proportion) is implied in gluttony (the over-consumption or waste of food), as well as sloth, envy, and most of the others.



5:00 pm |
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
  We have ways

Following yesterday's post about the pitfalls of 'mixed marriages', I think it's necessary to let you know one of the Jakartass mottos: Rules are made to be bent.

'Er Indoors and I were married under Islamic law. This did mean that I had to 'convert' as it was/is not legal for partners to have different religions. However, in following this route we didn't have to register with the Civil (meaning State as opposed to 'polite') Office.

We therefore have permission to live together, albeit without falling under the umbrella of the nationality law. On Our Kid's birth certificate I am recognised as the natural father, yet he is listed as having been born out of wedlock.

I have bought land but this is not in my name, which is okay by me as I can't take it with me.

As for being sponsored by one's spouse, it is perfectly legal to set up a limited company with Indonesian partners and foreigners being named as 'consultants'. These companies can then sponsor the expats; this is a well-worn route, particularly for expats making a living exporting furniture, handicrafts and herbs.

Long-term residents generally find their own ways. For example, I know of one couple who have been married to each other three times. They get divorced shortly before the birth of their children. Under British law, children with a British parent can choose their nationality when they reach 18.

Any couples contemplating tying the knot would be well-advised to get in touch with the embassy of the foreign partner.



5:00 pm |
Monday, June 20, 2005
  Mixed News

Well, seemingly I belong to 1968 ~ and thanks to Inspector Sands for that blogthing ~ but I'm also here and now.

And here and now, along with Indcoup and countless other expats, are problems. You see, we have Indonesian marital partners and the citizenship law, Law No. 62/1958, is "no longer appropriate at a time when democracy and equality should reign."

The following points are taken from an article by Julie Marsaban of the Soroptimists (whose site hasn't been updated for five years!) in the monthly magazine, Kem Chicks World. This is issued by Kemchicks supermarket in the upmarket enclave of Kemang, which caters for expats, generally short-term residents, who need a 'taste of home'.

* Dual nationality is not permitted in Indonesian law.
* Foreign partners of Indonesian spouses must have a stay permit with exit/re-entry permits and a work permit.
* Foreigners cannot own 'real estate'.
* Children of a 'mixed marriage' take the father's nationality.
* Foreign husbands cannot be sponsored by their wives. (If the husband loses his sponsorship, generally provided by the employing company, the Indonesian wife and any children of the marriage have to leave the country.)
* Foreign wives cannot work and must regularly renew their stay and exit/re-entry permits. This generally entails a trip to Singapore. The Aliansi Pelangi Antar Bangsa (APAB) was formed in 2002 to advocate changes in certain Indonesian laws and regulations that have negative consequences on families of mixed marriages. Now, APAB comprises six organisations: Srikandi, Indo-MC (mixed couples), DIANA (Dialog Antar Bangsa), C4 (Cross Cultural Couples Club), LBH (Legal Aid Bureaux), Womigo and Soroptimist International of Jakarta.

A year ago, APAB presented an appeal to the Legislative Body of the House of Representatives for dual nationality to be allowed for Indonesian citizens.

And now comes news that the House of Representatives legislation committee will propose a new bill on citizenship, which aims to eliminate discriminatory articles under the current problematic law.

Legislation committee member, Nursjahbani Katjasungkana, said that the purpose would be to erase as much as possible all discriminatory items in the existing law - especially those regarding women and children.

And about bloody time.

'Er Indoors and I should be able to complete the marriage procedures started 15 years ago. Once we have, Our Kid will no longer be a bastard ~ on paper rather than metaphorically.



5:00 pm |
Sunday, June 19, 2005
  Aung San Suu Kyi 60th Birthday

Today, the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient has spent a total of 2,523 days under house arrest, isolated from her family, friends and the Burmese people. It is her 60th birthday.

Speak out. She can't.

Stuck for words?

Here are some linked tips which may help you.

Firstly, avoid obscurantism. As the President of the Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc., Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. asks, "What is the reason that the Muslims have fallen from a position of top of the civilization to the bottom of civilization? One of the reasons or a major reason is OBSCURANTISM. What is obscurantism? Obscurantism is the act of obscuring, or striving to prevent enlightenment, scientific advancement, modernity or to hinder the progress of knowledge and wisdom."

It is important to remember that publishing articles on the World Wide Web in established webzines edited for love or money by people who take their tasks seriously offers a possible remedy to the problem of inauthenticity or pseudotransactionality in student writing.

In other words, avoid psychobabble ~ q'est que c'est? ~ and use Plain English.
For a fee, WordDog can help you with this.

f course, there are times when a fairly obscure word or phrase encapsulates precisely the nuance of one's communicative intentions. If you are in any doubt as to the appropriateness of a particular lexical item, then you could do no better, or worse, than having a trawl through Michael Quinion's excellent WorldWideWords website.

It's also, in my humble opinion, important to not give (too much) offence. The use of wholesome words may help. On second thoughts ...

Finally, dont fourget to cheque four grammer, punkchewayshion and spelling errers.

Word of advice: do NOT use the Microsoft Spell Checker. Copy and paste this Ode To Spell Checkers into a Word document and see how few errors are found.



10:30 am |
Saturday, June 18, 2005
  Hot News.

At 11.35, as your reporter was enjoying a late breakfast in Ya Udah in Jalan Jaksa, Central Jakarta, with a colleague, a loud cry emerged from the gang (alley) opposite.

Fire, Fire!

Black smoke was visible pluming above and behind the billiard hall on the other side of the street. And so another Jakarta kampung was destroyed, probably caused by the overturning of a kerosene stove generally used by poorer households.

The street quickly filled with residents and onlookers. We had a ringside seat as personal possessions were hauled out of the densly populated area. First came the TVs, followed by clothes and precious ornaments.

The fire brigade arrived at noon, followed, five minutes later, by a policeman from the station 300 metres away. Given the inadequate and outdated equipment, the fire brigade were magnificent. In spite of the well-meaning efforts of local residents and leaking hoses, they performed efficiently.

At one point your reporter left his ringside seat to investigate further. A total of 13 fire tenders were counted; the police had used a similar number of large Honda motorcycles to block through traffic. When questioned, onlookers estimated that a total of twenty houses had been destroyed.

Emotions ran high, there was a great wailing as the newly homeless sat beside their rescued possesions and rang, on their handphones, their families..

TV crews arrived at 12.25 and left twenty minutes later. You can see what I have seen later this evening.



3:30 pm |
Friday, June 17, 2005
  Friday Focus 2

In the interests of saving energy, and because I've got a workday from hell, here are three links to explore. I'll leave off major editorialising for another time.

1. Green Aceh Conference Banda Aceh June 21 - 23

"Let's build Aceh without destroying its environment"
Hear, here.

2. Bike2Work (in bhs. Indonesia)

In Jakarta? Brave souls.

3. The parakeets of south London

Every morning I'm woken by parakeets. They scream across the gardens at the back of our road, brash, arrogant, decked out in flamboyant bright green, the revved-up teenagers of the neighbourhood, except that no teenager would be up and about at this hour. On sunny mornings, as they whoosh past in sixes and sevens, I imagine I'm in the foothills of the Himalayas, where the Indian ring-necked parakeet originated. But this is suburban south London.

Why not Jakarta?



7:00 am |
Thursday, June 16, 2005

Darren asked, in my comments, "Where else in this world will you find a president asking the people to call him? A good image no doubt.. but nobody foresaw the system crash?"

Where else indeed? Such naivety!

Apparently, SBY blurted it out by mistake.

Even before the advent of modern technology, since the time of president Soeharto, similar channels for complaint existed with the introduction of a special post office box.

However, unlike his predecessors, Susilo's offer was ill-prepared.

The President was under pressure to deliver by an audience who had been invited, in a moment of public relations grandstanding, to call him to report officials' misconduct.

Ignoring the fact that some 50% of the population doesn't have ready access to any phone, let alone a hand phone, there is now a system to receive text messages in place backed up with a computer ... operated by a team of seven people.

So, that's all right then.

Or is it? Jakartass is operated by a team of one - me.

I don't rely on text messages, not having, and not wanting, a handphone. I read the Jakarta Post and have other sources of information, like 'Er Indoors, to bring you what's hot (and what is not).

You may want to know that there are now 47 polio cases and umpteen cases of children dying from malnutrition.

It does seem to be time for SBY to demonstrate real leadership. He has the information; what seems to be somewhat out of touch with the 'common' people. Text messaging is not the answer, although having electoral feedback unencumbered by the bureaucracy is essential.

Perhaps he should start blogging, or a website offering feedback, which is something now offered by the Post.

Your views are very important to us in making TheJakartaPost.com the best site on the Web. We welcome suggestions and feedback on our website. Speak your mind about current Indonesian topics of the day. Your letters may be posted on our bulletin board.

This being Indonesia, it would appear that the Post doesn't actually have a bulletin board yet. I'll let you know how long it takes to get the answer to my inquiry about its URL. Hopefully they'll get back to me quicker than SBY could.

9.30 Update
The SEND button doesn't seem to function on the JP page!


5:30 pm |
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
  I've been book-tagged.

Fabian aka The Swanker did it to me and Far Outliers did it to him having been tagged by ...

You see how it goes so I'd better do my bit in case seven years' bad luck follows.

1. Total number of books I've owned

Very hard to answer. A thousand or two I'd guess, from the Eagle Annuals of my childhood to the second-hand books I keep an eye out for here. Somewhere in the attic of my last abode in London are five tea chests full of reading material. I'll never see them again.

At various times I've owned complete sets of thrillers by Gerald Seymour, Len Deighton and Robert Ludlum. Now I've got, and will keep, all the John Le Carré, Anthony Price, Graham Greene and Ian, or Iain, Banks and Paul Theroux I can find. I'll buy anything I find in the Picador and Abacus imprints as they always seem worth rereading.

Mostly though, I'll borrow from fellow expats; I'll read anything. I've got to have a book 'on the go'.

2. The last book I bought

Foreign Fields Forever by Dave Jardine, a long-term expat friend with an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Indonesian and Carlisle United. This slim volume recounts an episode of modern military history few are aware of, the use of British troops, and Indian Ghurkhas, to support the Dutch attempt to recolonise Indonesia following the defeat of the Japanese in 1945. 715 British soldiers died in that episode, most wishing that they had already been demobbed. After all, World War II was over, wasn't it?

3. The last book I read

Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin. The first published, but last read, of the Detective Sergeant John Rebus crime thrillers. A classic genre.

4. Five books that have meant a lot to me

a. Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon
My copy has been round the world. I found it in Leh, Ladakh, and as I kept my own travel diary whilst circumnavigating the world, I found so many resonances that it was one of the very few books that I brought with me to Indonesia.

"I learned to travel, then travelled to learn."

b. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
As I wrote just this last Sunday, who hasn't been delighted as a story-telling parent or sleep-avoiding child by this book?

c. Ghostwritten by David Mitchell
An apocalyptic Japanese cult member is connected to a jazz buff and a burnt-out Hong Kong lawyer, and a woman on a mountain talks to a tree which talks back, and there's a Mongolian gangster, a New York DJ and a 'zookeeper' and a ghostwriter and ... it takes place "at the fugitive edges of Asia and Europe" and ... it all hangs together. Totally unique.

d. The Long Firm by Jake Arnott
Set in London in the time of the Kray twins, the early sixties, this was an era which just passed me by. Also, their gangster domain was the East End (of London) and I'm from another patch, the south-east. So this read captured part of the mythology of my youth.

e. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
Another London book; this one spans the post Great Fire era when Christopher Wren was rebuilding London but is linked to the present by a serial killer.

These were plucked almost at random from my shelves. The one link in this list is that they all have parallel universes. A bit like Jakartass.

(Simon doesn't like chain emails either but I'm only passing this on to Diamond Geezer because I really would like to see his selection and to Indcoup so that he can blog about something other than you-know-who.)



3:49 pm |
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
  Plus ça change

For the time being I'll give SBY full marks for effort. Is there another president who would ask the public to send him an SMS. Of course, the system crashed, such was the public response.

"Most people sent the President reports on corruption, their hardships and even on lucky charms, such as keris and stones. The public response has been most encouraging," said presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng yesterday.

I didn't know that text messaging had transmutable powers ~ lucky charms??

Still, the opportunity was provided due to widespread complaints of red tape and officials' unresponsiveness to the people's problems.

Presumably these problems include the following:

1. Arrogant Generals Impede Reform and refuse "in a staggering display of the scornful arrogance that was prevalent during the era of former dictator Suharto" to co-operate with the fact-finding team investigating the murder of human rights campaigner Munir.

SBY will probably be asked to extend the term of office of the team, which is due to expire on June 23rd.

2. TNI Passes Buck on Missing Activists Case
Former Jakarta Military chief Lieutenant General Sjafrie Sjamsuddin, who is now secretary general of the Defence Ministry, last week failed to comply with an initial summons for questioning by a special team of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) over what happened to the 14 missing pro-democracy activists, who were allegedly kidnapped and killed by the military seven years ago.

3. Police Deny Engineering Bombing
A low-explosive bomb exploded early Wednesday (last week) in the front yard of Muslim cleric Abu Jibril's rented house in Pamulang. The explosion occurred while Jibril was at a nearby mosque and caused no injuries.

Police, who so far have no suspects in the case, questioned Jibril as a witness for four hours after the bombing. They also seized his laptop computer, as well as several documents, photos and films to investigate whether he has any links to terror groups.

Jibril and his associates have suggested the US might have carried out the bombing in an effort to discredit their struggle to implement Islamic law in Indonesia.

One of Jibril's lawyers from the Muslim Defence Team, Akhmad Cholid, has reportedly accused police of engineering the bombing in order to confiscate the cleric's personnel possessions.

National Police chief General Dai Bachtiar said police could not possibly have done something that would create public anxiety or confusion.

Of course not.

4. Jakarta Election Officials Held in Graft Probe
Three members of the Jakarta chapter of the General Elections Commission (KPU) have been detained on suspicion of involvement in the alleged embezzlement of Rp168 billion ($17 million) in funds intended for the 2004 elections.

5. Activist Gets 6 Months For Insulting President
A court in Bali has sentenced a political activist to six months in jail for burning a portrait of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The law on insulting the president was inherited from Indonesia's former Dutch colonial rulers. The original legislation was once used against ex-president Megawati Sukarnoputri's father, founding president Sukarno, during his fight for independence from the Dutch in the 1930s and 40s.

Human rights groups have long demanded the section of the Criminal Code on insulting the president be dropped, saying it is a shameful relic of Indonesia's colonial past and a direct contradiction of freedom of speech.

Yudhoyono had in March instructed authorities not to be heavy-handed in dealing with protests against the fuel price increases, but the instruction came too late for Gendo and other activists arrested prior to the order.

6. More soldiers fired for drugs
Two soldiers and a staff official with the province's Bukit Barisan Military Command (in Medan, North Sumatra) were dishonorably discharged from the military on Monday for their involvement in drug trafficking - believed to be cannabis.

Bukit Barisan military commander Maj. Gen. Tri Tamtomo presided over a special ceremony at the headquarters' compound in Medan to mark the dismissal of the three officers, none of whom will be reported to the police.

I doubt that Schapelle Corby reads Jakartass, but if she does ~ Howzyadoin, Sheila? ~ I bet that last news item will have seriously pissed you off.

And the following too.

My friend Indcoup is one of a number of bloggers who are getting a lot of mileage out of the Corby cause celebre. As he points out, there is a humorous side to it all, including the name of her new hotshot lawyer, Hotman Paris Hutapea.

On February 27th 2004, a month before I launched Jakartass, an article, republished with comments here, appeared in the Australian Financial Review which described him as the embodiment of Jakarta's filthy rich.

The podgy 44-year-old bankruptcy lawyer with the mullet haircut boasts he can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per case in Jakarta's corrupt commercial courts (less the 'thank-you money' he sends judges after a victory) and he wants everyone to know it.

By his own reckoning, Hotman owns 60 houses and 15 luxury cars, including a new-model Porsche, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. Around his neck is a glistening diamond he bought for $US150,000 (nearly $200,000). Oversized opal rings adorn his fingers and a gold-encrusted watch and bracelet cover his wrists, though the pistol he keeps in a holster on his hip ("I even sleep with it") suggests his success has made him plenty of enemies.

Of his fleet of vehicles - which requires the services of six full-time personal drivers - Hotman says his favourite is a new SL500 silver Mercedes-Benz that set him back a cool Rp.3 billion ($470,000), and in which he claims to soar along Jakarta's main toll road at 200 kmh.

Hotman has accumulated almost all of his extraordinary wealth since 1999, when he left a leading city law firm to start his own practice, aiming to capitalise on the new legal framework set up after the 1997 financial crisis. "When Indonesia's new bankruptcy court opened [in 1998], all the big cases came to me. Yes, it's quite a good life," he smiles, sitting in his luxurious office on the 18th floor of the Summitmas Tower in central Jakarta.

All these recent news items demonstrate that SBY has a massive task in getting rid of the leeches and parasites prevalent in Indonesia.

Plus ça change, c'est toujours la même chose.



5:00 pm |
Monday, June 13, 2005

Jakartass is nominally a warden for the British expatriate community in my district. I say nominally because the duties have been minimal to match the information flow from the Consulate. If someone takes the job advertised below, which came by email today, then perhaps there will something for me to do.

Perhaps too, s/he could take down the travel advisory offered by the Jakarta embassy three years ago. I've already told you and H.M. No.2 about it, although he denied its existence.

Amidst the occasional travel advisories we Brits keep a stiff upper lip, submit to the varying degrees of security searches and get on with our lives. Still, it would be nice to have more than the occasional invitations to Queen Bess' Birthday Bash and the annual Xmas Carol sing-a-long at the Ambassador's pied á terre.

Wardens Co-ordinator (Part-time LE)

A vacancy has arisen for a Part-time (hours are flexible) LEIII Wardens Co-ordinator within the busy consular section of the British Consulate General. The primary aspect will be acting as the registrar of emergency contact details for British nationals resident in Indonesia; and contact point for British "wardens" to ensure our register is up-to-date and accurate in the event of an emergency.

The job is for six months in the first instance until we can put a case to Consulate Directorate to make the position permanent but still on a part time basis.

You will be expected to be familiar with IT, in particular Microsoft-based databases.

It is essential that the successful applicant speaks and writes English to the highest standard.

You must be a self-starter who is able to work under pressure, whilst remaining courteous and calm. Whilst the workload can at times be demanding, the liaison aspects of the job can be rewarding and you will be part of a close-knit and
supportive team.

Basic Job Description
If you wish to know more about the job, please contact Jim Liddell (mobile 0811961056) or Daryl Crooks (mobile 081119898752) or office (021) 31901314.

If you want details on pay and conditions of service please contact Nicola James in the Management Section of the Embassy. All applications should be sent to Nicola.

British Consulate General

Jakarta. 13 June 2005



5:30 pm |
Sunday, June 12, 2005

Grovel of the Week

Or should that be 'weak'?

Jakartass tries to be all things to all men. Oh, and women, children and similar sentient beings.

So discovering that my blog, albeit otherwise rated 'excellent' and 'ranked is ranked 35 in the world' by this site, discriminates against folk who are disadvantaged has got me worried.

Apparently I've transgressed the UK Disabilities Discrimination Act which makes most British websites unlawful from the 1st October 2004. The Act makes it "unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service which it provides to members of the public", specifically mentioning websites.

A formal investigation in April 2004 found 81% failed to provide even the most basic access to disabled users. Companies face the threat of legal action and unlimited compensation payments if they fail to comply with new legislation.

Oh dear, I didn't mean to. Honest.

I don't make fun of those different from me, although being a westerner of Fijian stature I do tend to look down on Indonesians. And I must admit that watching Our Kid last night in Snow White and the (only) Six Dwarves did lead me to comment that they were a bit short.

With chronic myopia I deliberately set quite a large text size. My readers are free to change this in View up on the toolbar. As a one-finger typist I suppose I am also digitally disadvantaged, but that shouldn't worry anyone. Jakartass is only interactive in the sense that I'm pleased when someone reads my musings. You don't actually have to do anything else, although comments are always welcome.

Whatever, I will continue to atone for my supposed sins by giving you access to tools that will enhance your reading pleasure and enable you in your daily dose of Jakartass.

Spending a penny

Do you struggle to pee in the toilet bowl at night? Help is at hand. Actually it isn't, because with Johnny Light you don't even have to switch on the bathroom/restroom/toilet/lavatory light.

What has been nice about the Johnny Light is those middle of the night trips to the John no longer require me to turn on the overhead light. This was always a dilemma, do you turn on the light and temporarily blind yourself. Or, do you just aim and shoot and hope for the best. Now, all I have to do is lift the lid and I get a subtle green glow that allows better vision without blinding me or waking me up entirely. Your product was worth every penny.

Those of you who were disadvantaged by my post on Wednesday about wiping the detritus from the nether region could well be interested in this remarkable aid.

SelfWipe is a bathroom toileting aid for those with difficulties cleaning after using the toilet. The SelfWipe extends reach and is regarded as the best product of it's (sic) kind. Our revolutionary design is comfortable because it is rounded and smooth.

The toilet tissue is held tightly and released easily with the push of a button. The SelfWipe is unsurpassed by any other extended reach bathroom aid, making your toileting cleaner, more efficient, and with a greater degree of hygiene.

This toileting aid is such a tremendous aid to independent living that it is the ideal choice for those with a myriad of physical disabilities and mobility challenges.

Sitting at a computer all day can be a pain in the neck .. and the back and the wrists. The human anatomy just wasn't designed to sit in a chair all day whacking away at a keyboard. We need support and support is what you get with the Redundant Recumbent computer workstation. This thing fully adjusts to every type of body known to the human race and it looks sooo comfy.

(via J-Walk)

Diamond Geezer has discovered that his blogging is damaging the ozone layer. He promises to plant a tree once every three years. Given that he gets three times as many daily hits as me, I hereby vow to plant a tree in 2014.


James and the Giant Peach, The Twits, Matilda. Who hasn't been delighted as a story-telling parent or sleep-avoiding child by these Roald Dahl magical tales with enchanting illustrations by Quentin Blake?

So news that the Roald Dahl Museum opened yesterday is doubly welcome.

And Our Kid and I are really looking forward to the July release of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka.

Who else?

Stop Press
There may be a Jakartass reader in Madison, Wisconsin. If so, this message is just for you.
Today is your only chance in about four years to see the Titan Arum flowering.

Those of you unable to get close enough to smell the stinkiest plant on the Earth, a 'native' of Indonesia, can watch the video-stream from the comfort of your Redundant Recumbent.



12:00 pm |
Saturday, June 11, 2005
  Must dash

I've been on the go since 5.30 this morning, haven't eaten, just got in and have now got to rush out for Our Kid's end-of-school year do. (He's got a small part in Cinderalla and the Seven Dwarves. I think he's Dopey.)

If you want an entertaining read, therefore, and aren't yet satiated with our local drama, do check out the Schapelle Corby is GUILTY blog and the many comments.



5:30 pm |
Friday, June 10, 2005
  Friday Focus 1

Last Sunday I said I would devote one day a week to environmental issues here in Indonesia. And where better to start than with a roundup of this week's Jakarta Post articles?

A healthy environment is a human right enshrined in law. In Indonesia, the right to a healthy environment is included in the 1997 Environmental Management Act, while Article 33 of the Constitution on social welfare and natural resources has quickly become central to the work of Indonesia's new Constitutional Court.

Bank Indonesia has issued a regulation (BI Regulation No. 7/2/PBI/2005 concerning Asset Quality Rating for Commercial Banks) which is a promising first step to stimulate the financial sector to help save the environment as banks play important roles in financing the forestry, plantation, mining and other important sectors related to environmental issues.

I have no idea who said it first or when, but a basic Jakartass credo is We Don't Inherit the Earth; We Borrow it From Our Children.

This, sadly, is seemingly not shared by the élite who pursue quick and easy profits without regard for anyone else's interests ~ malls before parks or sports grounds, the poaching in and plundering of Indonesia's forests and the ever-present corruption and collusion between bureaucrats and businessmen which has so pissed off SBY.

At least the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, KADIN, was listening. Kadin chairman Mohamad S. Hidayat said that it would take 10 years for the whole nation to inculcate an anti-bribery attitude, which would eventually provide a more conducive climate for investment and national welfare.

In a bid to boost the environmental education of students, Minister of National Education Bambang Sudibyo and State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar signed (last) Friday a memorandum of understanding that will require their offices to prepare materials for environmental lesson and to train teachers to teach the subject.

But many children are already aware.

Out of the mouths of babes
Grade 5 SD Mentari students share their thoughts on the natural world - and how to protect it.

How do you feel about the pollution here in Jakarta?
I feel that pollution destroys our country. Our people get sick and animals are also harmed.
I feel that it's disturbing the life cycle of both humans and animals. It's ruining our country and we're better off without it.

What do you do at home to reduce the amount of pollution?
I don't burn trash and I use recycled folders and bags.

How can we make Jakarta green?
I think we can make Jakarta a green city by planting more trees, recycling, reusing stuff and reducing the amount of garbage.

How can we look after the environment?
By planting more trees, not wasting fuel, building less factories and recycling.
By keeping our surroundings clean and by not throwing rubbish around.
Don't use so much transportation, don't cut trees, if you do not need something, don't buy it.

Why is looking after the environment important?
If all the plants are cut down, the animals have no plants to eat and the herbivores will die and the carnivores will have no more herbivores to eat.

Why are some animals endangered?
Mostly because people hunt them for something useless and their houses (habitats) get smaller and smaller.

SBY plants tree

It finally looks as if there are signs that adults and children are on the same wavelength.

Next week I'll be commenting on the everyday 'little' things which piss me off on my daily rounds. If any local readers are similarly concerned, please do write to me and I'll incorporate them.



6:00 pm |
Thursday, June 09, 2005
  Long Life

The Guardian's correspondent here in Jakarta, John Aglionby, wrote about the Schapelle Corby case on Tuesday. He said nothing that hasn't been said or commented upon by numerous bloggers such as myself and Indcoup here and all and sundry in Australia. The resulting brouhaha has been, I suggest, predictable.

"Writing a world dispatch about Schapelle Corby ... was always going to be akin to waving red rags in an antipodean bullring. All I can say is that it's lucky I didn't have any pressing appointments this morning so I could respond to the flood of invective that came my way.

Everything from "execrable rubbish" to "excellent article" littered my inbox, with the majority of messages - dispatched with a fair dose of emotional vitriol rather than reasoned argument - tending towards the former."

For Corby, the prospect of 20 years in a Bali jail is no joke. For the rest of us, there is always a funny side.

Firstly, here's one from the feedback to John's article:

Schapelle's song...
Don't blame it on the sunshine
Don't blame it on the airline
Don't blame it on the Bali Nine
Blame it on the Boogie

And this is one doing the rounds which all local expats will appreciate.

Indonesia has a little known alternative to the endless trips to Singapore, b*ggering around at imigrasi and kantor polri doing your 178th set of fingerprints etc. It's a 20 year single entry visa & residence permit; you don't need to start a business or invest money, but unfortunately it has no exit permit. All you need is a boogie board, a huge bag of laughing grass, the mistaken belief that your cleavage will distract any stupid airport official and an IQ no higher than your age. Comes with free clothing, board and lodging and handy craftwork lessons such as sewing mail bags.

And now for something else guaranteed to generate more hits.

Today Charlton Athletic celebrates its centenary.

I've been a supporter for 48 of those years and my father a follower of their fortunes for 68. Unfortunately, my grandfather was a Woolwich Arsenal fan but then that predated Charlton turning professional in 1920.

I haven't been at the Valley for more than twenty years and I'm sure I wouldn't recognise it now. Having stood in the middle of the terrace facing the only stand amidst a crowd of 60,000+ on a Saturday afternoon remains a distant, yet crucial, memory. I could walk there and back, on my own, yet feel comfortable, a sense of belonging. It was, for me, a rite of passage into independence and adulthood.

Much of what I value in society was formed by those afternoons. I am quoted here as having written that I used to live near 'the rangy right back John Hewie ... I don't ever remember him smiling. His honest graft, however, was always something to admire.

Support of Charlton, I surmise, is essentially British in that we Londoners generally appreciate honest endeavour above flashiness. Certainly, talent is important but week in, week out professionalism and team loyalty have long been the hallmarks of our club.

Loyalty, teamwork and professionalism, the continued hallmark of Charlton from the ground up.

I saw Colin Powell play as a lively winger; he has been head groundsman at the Valley for the last 15 years. Keith Peacock was always a crowd favourite and has been at the club, now as the assistant manager, for 40 years. Alan Curbishley, the manager for 15 years, was a player before that.

And today sees many of my 'heroes' at the Valley for the unveiling of a statue of Sam Bartram, the greatest goalkeeper in all those 100 years.

Addicks manager Alan Curbishley will say a few words at the unveiling ceremony, where more than 50 former players are expected, including some of the club's most famous custodians who have followed in the footsteps of the great Bartram - these include Albert Uytenbogaardt, Nicky Johns, John Dunn, Mike Rose, Andy Petterson and Jeff Wood.

Outfield legends such as Derek Hales - who was recently voted as the club's greatest striker alongside picking up the Cult Hero centenary award - John Hewie, Mike Bailey and Steve Gritt will also be in attendance, with a chance for supporters to mingle with their heroes in the north-stand lounge after the event.

When this all takes place I'll be in dreamland ~ it'll be 3am here. But, as always, my conscious thoughts will be 'back home'.

Here's to another hundred years down at the Happy Valley. .



6:00 pm |
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
  Left hand, right hand

Not being ambidextrous, I'm completely right-handed, I have problems wiping my bum with my left hand. I also have problems with the notion of using my hand, any hand, without a lining of paper.

Now I do know that my toilet technique is not Islamic. I read about it here, and apparently when water is not available, a material that does not have a smooth surface, such as stone or wood can be used. Tissue paper can be used as long as it does not absorb the feces or urine and cause the hand to come into contact with it.

You may not wish to know that but it does serve to introduce today's momentous news that if the lavatory attendants at Soekarno-Hatta airport have neglected to keep the cubicles supplied with babysoft tissue, there is a new SMS service to summon assistance.

"The operator will reply back within five to 10 seconds, around-the-clock," is the promise. Unfortunately the service will only be available available in Indonesian and only for those cellular phone owners who use Telkomsel phone cards.

And unfortunately for me, I don't have a handphone at all. (I like the notion of privacy; there is nothing so urgent that requires an instant response, especially in a country with elastic time.) Anyway, I always carry a wodge of tissue in my back pocket in case I get caught short.

I think Prince Charles would agree with my attitude. Yesterday he attacked "short-term, fashionable" trends in education yesterday which he said were threatening the "foundations of civilised existence".

He was actually referring to "voguish preoccupation" with making subjects relevant - including plans to allow children to study text messaging as part of GCSE English Studies.

I totally agree. Furthermore I think it should be mandatory for all toilets to have a shelf of good reading material such as I have here in Jakartass Towers. I use my little room in lieu of a study.

If you have wifi access in your loo but no paper reading material, which would be handy if the roll has run out, you can spend time in the Virtual Toilet Paper Museum.

Blog roll
Phew. That feels better.



6:15 pm |
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
  Nice to be home.

I do like Brandon's photos on Java Jive; they remind me that unfortunately I rarely leave Jakarta. It's also nice to see that he is writing more about living in the Big Durian.

His comment about the late arrival of the US Embassy warning about the likelihood of a suicide bomber in Jakarta is an accurate reflection of the viewpoint of many expats living here: A couple of years ago, this might have freaked me out. Now it just puts a dent in my evening's plans. Gotta love Jakarta.

It's the same as any other metropolis - if you go looking for trouble, you'll find it. We have prostitutes, murderers, corruption, demonstrations, and all other kinds of grime - but then again, it may feel like home. Detroit is much more dangerous in my opinion.

However, considering the number of headlines Jakarta makes annually, you'll be pleasantly surprised at just how calm this place can be. Most Indonesians can be extremely warm and welcoming and will most likely soothe your worry in no time. Then again, I've been here awhile and am definitely calloused to any of the attractions mentioned above - now it's just 'home' for me.

The Swanker in Australia, a keen observer of happenings here, is worried that as these terrorist outrages appear to be encyclical we can expect something serious (and bad) to happen in next two months or so.

I don't want to appear blasé but I do wonder how 'bad' the situation really is.

I lived in London during the lengthy IRA bombing campaign in the 70's, been caught, literally, in the middle of a Muslim-Hindu riot in Kashmir, witnessed the anger of the rioters in major English conurbations and had a few other hairy experiences.

The only period of fear I have experienced in the many years spent here was in 1998 just prior to the overthrow/abdication of Suharto. There were terrorist outrages to follow.

A bomb exploded at the Attorney General's office on July 7th 2000, shortly after Suharto's son Tommy had been questioned in connection with corruption charges. The following day police defused a second bomb in the building and announced that forensic evidence suggested that the explosives were from the army.

Shortly afterwards, on September 13th, a major bomb blast killed upwards of 15 people at the Jakarta Stock Exchange building. My friend Indcoup was working in the building at the time but he too has remained in Jakarta living, like Jakartass, at street level.

Indonesia's reformasi is slowly taking place but not as quickly as the majority of us would wish. But then, the army and political groupings are still dominated by figures from Suharto's New Order era. Yesterday, SBY angrily said that "It is a fact that a number of businessmen and bureaucrats are disrupting my current effort to combat corruption as their businesses and other interests have been severely affected by the move."

The recent bombing of the market in Tentena, Central Sulawesi, has been linked to corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who may be funding Islamic groups to carry out atrocities on their behalf. It can be argued that the separatist movements in Aceh and Papua are anti-colonialist at their core. The new colonialists are the local vested interests, and outsiders, plundering Indonesia's resources or swamping the nation with their goods in the name of 'globalisation' who SBY is railing against. Are these groups the root cause of terrorism?

(Some argue that more sinister forces are at work.)

This page argues that colas produced specifically for Islamic consumers could be a front for terrorist groups targetting US and western interests.

Unlike the Paul Newman line, none of these brands are non-profit, tho some claim to donate a portion to Islamic charities (Hamas? Hezbollah?), drawing the attention of Western terror watchers. And Arabs are buying them, unaware that boycotting 'American' goods does more damage to locals than multinationals (Coke is one of the biggest employers in the industrial-challenged Mideast).

Should we ignore the fact that Coca Cola supplies the American forces? In World War II, the War Department agreed ... that Coca-Cola would provide a boost in morale. Therefore, they had the U.S. government fund the installation of sixty-four bottling plants behind Allied lines. Entire bottling plants were shipped to the front lines with other supplies. And as soon as the battle front moved, so would the bottling company. When America went to war, Coca-Cola followed.

The fundamentalist Islamic groups, who are, undoubtedly, plotting further outrages here, recruit young, generally minimally educated, people to their causes. If Indonesia were less beholden to the corrupt and more equitable, offering opportunities for all sectors of society, then I suspect that there would be less need for belated travel advisories from other countries and we can all get on with living in a place we call home.



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