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.



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