Sunday, July 31, 2005
  A Private Space

Our Kid kept asking me if I was going to be all right on my own. He kept on keeping on.

"Of course", I kept on saying but didn't tell him my favourite short story whose provenance I forget.

After seven years, curiosity got the better of the wife.

She used a kitchen knife to prise open the desk drawer, the drawer her husband had told her to never open.

It was empty.

"But why?" she asked him that evening.

"Because I wanted a space of my own," he said.

Something every expat in Indonesia who marries a local has to come to terms with is the extended family. It's not how we westerners would define it but something amorphous. Most of us recognise when the migratory instinct to pulang kampung (literally to return to one's village) kicks in. This usually happens at Idul Fitri, the festival at the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan, when Jakarta miraculously empties, the air is breathable and the Jakarta Post publishes a photograph of a deserted business area.

It is the nature of the kampung which can occasionally perplex. There are innumerable ethnic groups in Indonesia; 'Er Indoors is a Batak from Medan and, to be more precise, her clan is Tapanuli Selatan. (Anybody interested in researching this particular sub-group is welcome to browse the list of antiquarian theses and doctoral essays here.)

These past two days, Jakartass Towers has been echoing to the raucous sounds of umpteen kids and adults. Bataks are not renowned for their delicacy or dulcet tones. I asked 'Er Indoors who they were. (My exact words are not important, but now you know why my post was so brief yesterday.) The answer, as I suppose I expected, was that they came from her kampung.

But you lived in Medan, a major metropolis, I said. Ah yes, but they lived three streets away and used to meet regularly at the local shop when she was at school.

All thirteen of them have motored off to Taman Safari (Safari Park).

Thankfully, there wasn't enough room for me.

I've got my own space.



3:00 pm |
Saturday, July 30, 2005
  There comes a time in every blogger's life when s/he has nothing to say.

I won't apologise for today's absence of wit and wisdom.
Instead I'll let this guy ....... do it on my behalf.



5:15 pm |
Friday, July 29, 2005
  Back in '69 or '70, I was strolling into the main shopping area of Belfast when there was a very loud bang and I could see arms and legs flying everywhere.

No-one was hurt; it was a menswear shop that had been blown up, had gone for a Burton as it were.

This was the start of a bombing campaign which brought death to the streets of London and elsewhere, much as al-Qaeda are doing now.

News that the IRA has brought a "formal end to the armed campaign" is to be welcomed. This has been a long and difficult path which has its modern roots in the disenfranchised Catholics of Northern Ireland seeking a more equitable economic deal from the British government, who governed in Ulster through the Protestants who saw themselves as part of a Great Britain.

There are parallels here with the mostly agreed peace pact between GAM and the Indonesian government due to be signed on August 15th.

Both the IRA and GAM argued for separatism and resorted to criminality in order to arm themselves. The Acehnese have also been seeking a fairer deal from a remote central government, although in the case of Ulster there were few, if any, natural resources to be siphoned off.

Both groups claim to be followers of a conservative religion. Similarly, the roots of these conflicts are long whilst the current militaristic campaigns were sparked about 30 years ago.

Hope is being restored in two provinces. If only al-Qaeda were similarly regionalised.

Priests and preachers may argue that terrorist acts will not lead to nirvana, but then I don't recall any IRA or GAM volunteers deliberately setting out to blow themselves up. If they did, then it was more through 'chance' than design.

Bobby Sands and others became martyrs to the IRA cause in 1981 by starving themselves to death. It was their choice, albeit one of desperation brought about by the intransigence of the British government in denying them political status.

I urge al-Qaeda to do the same. Killing yourselves through not eating is an option you have which will gain you worldwide approval. If you continue to blow yourselves and others to pieces you face eternal damnation.

The technique of suicide bombing is anathema, antithetical and abhorrent to Sunni Islam. It is considered legally forbidden, constituting a reprehensible innovation in the Islamic tradition, morally an enormity of sin combining suicide and murder and theologically an act which has consequences of eternal damnation.

Furthermore, if you should actually make it to the happy hereafter, there'll soon be a shortage of virgins. The good guys you blow up would surely have the first pickings.



7:00 pm |
Thursday, July 28, 2005
  Khoomei and Demos

I've got a two week trial subscription to something called the Concord Review Indonesia who send me lots of daily emails.

I can be fairly certain that I won't sign up for the paid subscription as I can be fairly certain that it will be way beyond my budget.

Most of the 'news' is available elsewhere, such as tomorrow's Jakarta Post, news such as Governor Sooty being accused of corruption.

The Jakarta Drinking Water Customer Community (Komparta) reported the Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso, the former Jakarta Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) Agung Imam Sumanto and the Board of Directors of both PT Thames PAM Jaya (TPJ) and PAM Lyonnase Jaya (Palyja) to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for alleged corruption in both TPJ and Palyja involving Rp800 billion (about $81,4 million) based on the audit conducted by the Agency for the Control of Finance and Development (BPKP) in 2004.

What I find more interesting and seemingly otherwise unobtainable, such is my lack of intelligence, is the notification of the day's demonstrations.

These are what I've missed today.

Date (eh?): 10.00
Reported # of personnel : 100
Location : The State Palace on Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan, Central Jakarta
Description : Members of the Nation Defenders will demonstrate responding to the Aceh peace pact in Helsinki, Finland.

Time : 10.00
Reported # of personnel : 500
Location : The West Jakarta Municipal office on Jl. Puri Indah Raya, West Jakarta, the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) office on Jl. Latuharhary, Central Jakarta and the Jakarta Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) on Jl. Kebon Sirih, Central Jakarta.
Description: Members of the Indonesian Street Vendors Union will demonstrate responding to eviction on street vendors at Taman Surya Kali Deres Market in West Jakarta.

Time : 10.00
Reported # of personnel : 100
Location : The Ministry of Home Affairs on Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara, Central Jakarta, the Attorney General's Office on Jl. Sultan Hasanuddin, South Jakarta and the General Election Commission (KPU) office on Jl. Imam Bonjol, Central Jakarta.
Description: Members of the People Students' Act Network for Democracy Victims will demonstrate responding to the local polls' result in Sukabumi, West Java.

Fascinating eh?


Then, how about studying Tuvan Throat-Singing, or Khoomei?

All styles of Tuvan Khoomei involve controlled tension in and manipulation of the diaphragm, throat, and mouth. However, there are great differences between the different types of throat-singing; for example, some styles are multiphonic whereas other styles are not. Even this description must take into consideration the hearing, or conditioned hearing of the listener as much as the intention and execution of the singer.

NB. Jakartass remains adamantly opposed to capital punishment.


5:30 pm |
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
  Nine Years Ago Today

'Er Indoors came home somewhat traumatised on July 27th 1996. She had been in a taxi which ended up at the front of one of the demonstrations of brute force which culminated in Suharto's ouster.

Suharto had decided to replace Megawati as the head of the Indonesian Democratic Party (known by its Indonesian initials, PDI), one of the two political parties officially sanctioned to oppose the ruling Golkar Party. It should have been a simple matter to get Megawati to resign, but Suharto had recently lost his wife Tien, whose skills in Javanese mystical arts were widely thought to have aided Suharto's rise from obscure colonel to virtual monarch and guided his reign. With Ibu Tien gone, Suharto began a string of political misjudgments that culminated in his downfall.

Rather than quietly easing out Megawati, Suharto chose to do it publicly. Even for a self-effacing housewife with no previous political ambitions - but a rich knowledge of Javanese mythology in which power seeks worthy princesses, rather than the other way around - the loss of face was too much for Megawati to accept. Moreover, her ouster, which came in June of that year, provided a rallying point for opponents of Suharto. After more than three decades in power with increasing corruption and nepotism, the no-longer-New Order had no shortage of opponents in search of an excuse to express their dissatisfaction.

This energized opposition movement centered on PDI headquarters in Jakarta, where Megawati and her supporters were occupying the complex in defiance of Suharto's new PDI leadership. On July 27, the military under General Sutiyoso attacked the headquarters to eject the occupiers. Megawati was not present, but hundreds of her supporters were. The attack left five dead, 23 still categorized as missing, and 149 more injured.

This day propelled Megawati to the presidency, a position from which she was able to indulge her taste for shopping and her lack of political savvy as she forged an alliance with Golkar, the hated Suharto ruling cabal, and made General Sutiyoso the Governor of Jakarta, a position he still holds.

There was a demonstration this morning by members of the Victims' Alliance for July 27 incident at the former office of Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) on Jl. Diponegoro in Central Jakarta.

Reportedly, Soeriadi, who was both Megawati's predecessor as chair of PDI until voted out at the party congress in Medan in '96, and successor, courtesy of his mentor Suharto, attended but was chased off by the demonstrators.

The people of Jakarta have long memories and never forgotten that day nine years ago and why it happened. That Megawati failed to meet their aspirations will also not be forgotten, which is why PDI-P is now a marginal political force and until they return to their democratic roots, that is what they will remain.

This is democracy in action and it is not imposed but comes from where it belongs - the people.



7:00 pm |
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
  Follow Ups. And Downs.

Just in case you haven't looked at the comments following yesterday's post, allow me to comment on one of them.

Indcoup ~ who knows more about money than I do ~ offers a couple of suggestions.

Firstly the simple solution: open an account at Bank Permata or BII. They are much better than BCA, IMO.
Actually, those are the two banks where I already have accounts!

Otherwise, get your wife to open an account in BCA in her name (as an Indonesian) and use this account instead!!!!
But then how will she be able to transfer to my account?

Then he says that Indonesia's central bank recently issued a regulation to restrict transactions by foreigners, but much of it was ambiguous and open to interpretation.

Eh? Ambiguous AND open to interpretation?

I was under the impression that Bank Indonesia was being pressured by the IMF, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and every major donor from Japan Inc. to Piggy Banks Anonymous to open up the banking sector. We've also had all and sundry and Bill Clinton talking about the need for transparency in the financial institutions.

Meanwhile, the country's largest bank, Bank Mandiri is the subject of an ongoing probe into allegations of reckless lending practices, lax risk management and fraud, a probe which has, unsurprisingly, affected its public image. A family concern of the VP, Josef Kalla, has been implicated, although there are no indications of personal impropriety.

Another major financial institution, Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), is the subject of legal probes into procurement graft, embezzlement and several other financial scams nationwide.

Still, I haven't heard of any massive wrong doings at BCA, so all I can assume is that somewhere someone in BCA is being open in his interpretation.

And if I don't get paid on Friday, I will offer a compromise.

Something like this ........



6:00 pm |
Monday, July 25, 2005

According to my Webster's, my title refers to a harmonious agreement.

Well, by-and-large, or where 'Er Indoors is concerned it's buy-at-large, that's the Jakartass lifestyle in the haze that is Jakarta.

Today I received bits of news which give both rise to and the lie to my title.

I won't bore you with my news of an extra responsibility which will, hopefully, be translated into extra income.

However, information came which, if correct, will have dire consequences for all expats working here.

Our employer's bank, Bank Central Asia, has apparently decided that they cannot make electronic transfers into bank accounts owned by foreigners. This is not mentioned in their home page which says that business transfers are only a click away on a PC.

The convenient, secure and simple banking services that we offer through KlikBCA Bisnis is the suitable facility to help you manage your company financial management.

Ignore the grammar and pause a while to think about the consequences.

I'm not a transient expat. I live here.

I get paid in rupiah by Indonesian bosses. My income supports my Indonesian family; we spend rupiah in the shops and on the buses, for rent and school fees and, most importantly, for beer.

In rupiah, I'm a millionaire several times over, but then Rp.1 million is only just under US$100. Not a lot, except for the urban poor whose minimum monthly wage is less than that.

Apparently, cash transfers are acceptable. Cheques, of course, would be OK too, but then there doesn't seem to be a clearing system so they aren't widely used here.

We're told that a new regulation was issued last week; whether this was a directive from Bank Indonesia or came from the BCA head office, we don't yet know. If fact, there is a lot we don't know.

Although no local bank seems to have mastered internet banking, I would have thought that electronic transfers were easier to monitor than wads of easily lost, or stolen, cash. That is assuming that the monitoring of expat finances were the aim of this new policy. If it is, then please start with the scammers, corruptors and embezzlers who plague this country and who are, invariably, Indonesian.

If this is a wind up, then kindly eff off. I've got rent and school fees due at the end of the week. If, however, there is some new banking procedure, then, and especially after having been named the top financial institution brand, BCA should issue a press release I can use for a balanced post.

Comments on this post would be more than welcome. I feel a crusade coming on.



7:00 pm |
Sunday, July 24, 2005
  These are confusing times.

In a London I don't recognise, a man moves through a tube station. His CCTV image suggests a handbag-snatcher, but this thief's alleged haul of choice is human lives. A bombing mission has ended in failure or, as politically correct teachers are now being urged to say, deferred success. The attackers are planning to come back.

The capital's biggest manhunt is on. Police seeking four would-be assassins shoot dead a man running for a train. Suddenly, shoppers, children and commuters are actors in a Tom Clancy fantasy that has usurped the lives of a city and its inhabitants. It is hard to pin a single mood on seven million people, so the media have two labels: fear or defiance. Neither sounds right to me.

Or, I feel conscripted to a bizarre war where I don't know what my enemy wants but I'm told it's my moral duty to defend western consumerism by defiantly riding the underground. Perhaps I would feel easier if political leaders were prepared to do the same.

In London SW8, an area I know very well and where the young man was shot, we were thankfully back to 'normality' by Saturday morning. This is not a misnomer. 'Local' peopled were vox popped (sample study: whitey in a suit), suitable quotes were scribbled down and a moral panic was unleashed on a nation of retired Colonels in the Home Counties.

Do I feel safer in Stockwell this evening? Not with the gutter press parked right outside my gutter.

As a blogger, I often wonder about my readership. Apart from myself, who am I appealing to?

About 50% of you arrive here via search engines. Although I can see absolutely no connection with the 'Yage Bay Club', I'm gratified that a quarter of Googlers are actually looking for Jakartass, but I do wonder why half of the Yahoo visitors are looking for Indonesian bar girls. Is it something I said?

Among my non-reciprocated permanent links is Joe Rose, a right-wing Christian pensioner in Bakersfield, California who copies and pastes snippets from blogs that appeal to him. So why Jakartass?

Touchy Subjects is a wordy, yet worthy, philosophical blog including such posts as 'Either Political or Religious Correctness and the Unity of Meta-Ethics'.

No, I don't understand it either, but I think I'm flattered to be included in his blogroll in his 'Touchy Foreign Viewpoints' links list.

Even more confusing to me is the old news that the Disney Empire owns the largest percentage, as a partner, in the biggest company in the soft-to-medium porn market.


And finally comes the sad news of the death on Friday of Long John Baldry. He was a seminal musician in the London blues scene and gave room to Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Jimmy Page, Ginger Baker and Reg Dwyer who took the John from him and Elton from his sax player, Elton Dean.



4:00 pm |
Saturday, July 23, 2005
  National Children's Day

Every year on this day the Jakarta Post has a host of images of Jakarta's street children being treated to a day's entertainment and free food.

It's a shame but the defence of Children's Rights, as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is still necessary here in Indonesia, a signatory to the Convention.

On September 24th 2001, Indonesia signed two additional protocols to the main Convention, but have yet to ratify these. They are on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

As Human Rights Watch reports, in Aceh, during the military emergency which only the tsunami brought to an end, it was reported that the Indonesian police force had lowered the age for recruitment into the police force in Sumatra (where Aceh is located) from 18 to 1 and children as young as 11 were reportedly killed by government security forces after being accused of GAM membership.

Although the Stockholm-based GAM leadership denied using child soldiers, in June 2003 military forces arrested two teenagers they said were attempting to set fire to a school building in North Aceh. According to military reports, the teenagers were forced to join GAM and had burned down 60 school buildings over the past three years.

Regarding the exploitation of children, Indonesian children as young as 12 work 14 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, without a day off. They are also forbidden from leaving their place of employment or contacting their families.

These are almost hidden children. In Jakarta street kids are an everyday sight, whether they are begging at traffic intersections or busking on buses or trains.

Jakarta Kid has two blogs, 1 which focuses on his nine years as a former wealthy expat here encountering poor families and 2 which focuses on the wider issue of street children.

Seated on the pavement in front of the flea-pit cinema, in a state of utter dejection, was a young boy. He was barefoot and dressed in a dirty ragged shirt and long trousers several sizes too big. He was moving his head from side to side like a depressed young panda in a zoo. At his feet were a few scraps of cooked rice on a crumpled piece of brown paper. Was he twelve years old? Difficult to tell as he was so undernourished.

Another personal account of direct contact with street children, albeit promoting a less altruistic and more pragmatic approach, is given by Our Man in Hanoi.

The KOTO Class One was special. It was special because they cleaned, painted and opened the first restaurant. That class is legendary, they were so proud of what they achieved and they have all gone on to great things.

Now we have a chance to repeat this with Class Six and Class Seven. We will all work together on the new KOTO. We will all have a stake in it. We will all be very proud on opening night and that pride will always be with us.

So the new KOTO won't be as swanky as maybe we occasionally dreamed. It'll be a make do and mend job. There won't be a wow factor. But, like the old restaurant, it'll be the kids that make it special - not the décor.

It's no bad thing.

In deed.

Our Kid


2:30 pm |
Friday, July 22, 2005
  Food for thought

News that the government is going to do a mass cull of livestock in the wake of the three recent deaths from avian flu should give all food for thought.

What worries me, an avowed vegetarian, is that I too could be at risk. As with passive smokers, it appears that the virus, being airborne, can infect anyone within range.

And it could be pigs and quails as well as chickens which are the carriers.

I presume that the origins of this particular plague lie in intensive farming techniques. A mass cull is drastic surgery which may well be needed, but isn't prevention better than cure?

It is surely time for a total rethink of our headstrong, hedonistic and consumptive lifestyle. A world which features competitive eating championships, genetically modified and patented foods, and mass obesity in a world which is witness to malnutrition on a hitherto unheard of scale, is surely a world gone mad.

Shouldn't food be good for you?

Go Figure



7:00 pm |
Thursday, July 21, 2005
  Not so Gr8

I know I won't be the only blogger commenting on this, but news that 5 African teams, from Burundi, Cameroon, Zambia, Nigeria and Kenya, scheduled to take part in the Homeless World Cup, the global street soccer tournament kicking off global poverty, have been refused entry to the UK by the British government on the basis that they do not have sufficient funds to support themselves whilst visiting the UK truly beggars belief - pun intended.

Those surely are the very grounds that prove they are eligible to take part!

This almost makes me ashamed to be British.

That this tournament is currently taking place in Edinburgh, location of the recent G8 conference which agreed to cancel much of Africa's debt, is more than ironic. But then, most of the debt was caused, as George Monbiot persuasively argues, by multi-nationals who have now been given cârte blanche to relieve the poverty ~ as long as trade tariffs, as imposed by the so-called developed countries, are kept to.

Few would deny that one of the things Africa needs is investment. But investment by many of our multinationals has not enriched its people but impoverished them. The history of corporate involvement in Africa is one of forced labour, evictions, murder, wars, the under-costing of resources, tax evasion and collusion with dictators. Nothing in either the Investment Climate Facility or the Growth and Opportunity Act imposes mandatory constraints on corporations. While their power and profits in Africa will be enhanced with the help of our foreign-aid budgets, they will be bound only by voluntary commitments: of the kind that have been in place since 1973 and have proved useless.

If only Richard Murray were Prime Minister of Grate Britain.

He makes me proud, and especially proud to be a Charlton Athletic supporter. I support a football club which, he said yesterday afternoon, is "a privilege to be chairman of, a business which stands for everything which is good in professional football.

"Charlton are highly regarded - both on and off the pitch. We are a genuine community club, which touches the lives of so many disadvantaged adults and children, and gives so much back to the community from which it draws its support."

That community includes South Africa.

Yesterday, Richard received an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration (HonDBA) of the University of Greenwich, an honour richly deserved.

Congratulations sir.

Now, how about organising a tournament, in Africa, for those five teams of homeless footballers as part of the wider community programme?



3:33 pm |
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
  Wednesday Witterings About Weblogs

I have nothing to say today so I'll let a couple of Indonesian-orientated bloggers say it for me.

nothing is nothing

a good friend emailed the other day to say she had nothing to say and that was it. nothing else. so brief. then it kept me thinking about nothing -- i mean about something she wrote about, which revolves around, er ... yes, nothing. first, i thought about her nothing in particular, then about nothing in general. i mean the nothing in general application by anyone. obviously there is something truly intriguing about nothing. this nothing is quite something. thus: is nothing nothing? nothing is nothing? is no thing nothing? is nothing no thing? or is no thing no thing? nothing successfully got me confused. nothing confused me. to generalize, therefore, nothing confuses.

No apologies for lifting this wholesale from Once Upon A Weblog, especially when he links to an article about the Indonesian Psyche written by an Indonesian, Julia I. Suryakusuma, a sociologist and social commentator based in Jakarta.

We are a fearful people, lacking in spirit due to years of authoritarian rule, first by our kings and queens, then the colonialists. Leader after leader colludes with the neo-colonialists who come bringing loans, laden with conditions that strip us of our autonomy and often, dignity and self. No wonder we have become selfish and petty, mediocre and conformist, all a function of fear and characterlessness.

We are a jealous and envious people, coveting what another has or afraid that someone will take what we have. While these tendencies are corrosive to the heart, we are strangely attached to these traits as they act as a prop for our insecurity. Envy is a compulsion which is made up of desire but at the same time self denial, creating frustration and obsessiveness, which Indonesians are clearly manifesting. And, in the thick of envy, one is blind to one's own nature when in fact knowing and understanding who we are is a fundamental prerequisite to solving our manifold problems.


Everybody knows that Indonesia is part of Bali. That's because we can all say that I've Been To Bali Too and someone who does is a new blogger on the scene who resides in Melbourne, Australia and thinks he's Trapped In A Suit.

If he is, it probably stinks as he says:

At the moment, I have only one suit, a blue pinstriped suit I had stitched by a team of tailors and tailor apprentices over a 24 hour period for $130 (extra pair of trousers included) in Udaipur, Rajhasthan many years ago. I am destined to buy a suit in Bali; I will be unable to help it despite having seen some truly terrible suits on returnees from the Island of the Gods.

However, a blogger who can tie in Japanese anime, John Pilger, Javanese script and Bali culture vultures in the mere three weeks that he's been at it is worthy of immense respect.

Both have been awarded permanent status in the links list on the right (in Firefox and Opera, but fiddle-arsing around the bottom of the screen in I.E.)

Finally, folk interested in where Jakartass (mis)spent his youth, should have a look at this post from Inspector Sands who spent a Sunday patrolling on foot the boundaries of my old domain.

Brave lad. I used to use a bike.



5:30 pm |
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
  Pampering the population

In its zeal to save energy, the government has decreed that for the next six months TV stations should shut down between 1 and 5 a.m., unless they're showing religious programmes or European football matches which the TV companies have already contracted to show..

Now I wouldn't think there'll be dramatic energy savings from this policy and I can well understand why the subscribers to Kablevision, a company with limited reach ~ Jakartass Towers is literally on the wrong side of the tracks, are particularly upset.

Most customers accused the company of using it as an opportunity to skim extra profits by lowering the cost of production, without lowering the monthly fee that everybody must pay.

"We still have to pay fees for 24-hour cable access. If the broadcast hours are reduced by four hours, the company should give us a 16.7 percent discount per month," one customer was quoted as saying.

Then, of course, there is the question of what all those night workers are now going to do. For example, security guards may now be tempted to sleep on the job.

What worries me the most, however, is the one inevitable consequence of folk going to bed early - we can expect a baby boom to start next March.

Not that I need to worry.

I don't watch TV.



5:30 pm |
Monday, July 18, 2005
  Peace in our times?

Any news of possible outbreaks of peace are to be welcomed, especially when it's in an area which has suffered for 30 years or so.

I'm referring of course to Aceh, where it looks as if the current round of talks in Helsinki will result in peace at last.

The Free Aceh Movement (GAM) looks set to be allowed to form a political party as part of a peace accord agreed on Sunday between it and the government to end 30 years of separatist fighting in Aceh.

The two sides reached a preliminary peace deal in Finland on Sunday, which they will formalize in a memorandum of understanding on Aug. 15. The two sides have vowed there will be "no substantive changes" to the agreed draft.

It is still unsure, however, whether the eight-page draft stipulated whether the GAM would be allowed to form a local political party as the rebels strongly demanded in the peace talks, or an Aceh-based national party as offered by the government.

As I commented on Thursday, given Aceh's history of anti-colonialism, whether it was the Dutch or, in more recent times, Soeharto and his Javanese cronies, ceding political control of the province seems eminently fair.

This will upset the centralised political parties here in Jakarta, but then they have done very nicely, thank you, out of the devolvement of local government in other provinces.

In today's Jakarta Post, the chief editor Endy M. Bayuni argues that regional parties would reflect Indonesia's pluralism.

Being a nascent democracy, Indonesia must allow political pluralism to reflect the pluralistic society that it is.

Although at the end of the day, it was the major established parties that won the most seats in the elections, we should not prevent anyone from forming any association (which is constitutionally guaranteed), including forming political parties on whatever platform they choose. In 2004, there were more than 200 registered political parties; 24 contested the elections, and of these about 10 won representation in the House of Representatives.

A small ad in the Post caught my eye on Saturday.

To quote, because the print is really tiny, a Study Excursion departs every Thursday, presumably from Jakarta, on a 3 day - 2 night visit to Aceh to witness the recovery of some areas devasted by the Tsunamy. Sharing our love and offering hope to our friends there is our objective. Facilitated by PKPU - tel: 786.3774 (9am - 4pm)

PKPU is a foundation to help the families of the teachers. The group raised an initial fund of Rp 50 million from their own resources that was used to open a small office in Depok, West Java.

From this office, the foundation has begun an operation to collect data and work out a plan. Focus is given to simple welfare programs relating to helping the families of the teachers.

So, "our friends there" may well be fellow Javanese teachers who have volunteered their services in the wake of the tsunami. I can't be sure about that, but on Saturday evening I did have a long chat with a friend who had just returned from a week in Banda Aceh running a teacher training programme at the university there.

The university has a dire need for 'emergency' English speaking lecturers. The tsunami decimated its ranks; their numbers have been further reduced however by the recovery programme. The new recruits are recent graduates fast-tracked to pass on their (limited) knowledge to students who are, by and large, of the same generation.

Banda Aceh is suffering from 'Aid Culture', with the local economy dominated by the big bucks and 4-wheel drive syndrome. Those Acehnese who have a reasonable command of English have gravitated towards the easy money, and who can blame them?

No-one is unaffected by the tragedy of Dec. 26th. My friend came back having learnt more than he taught. How does one cope with the loss of all one's children and a landscape only familiar from archive photos of the Hiroshima bomb?

One needed, and still does, a travel permit to enter the province. The students had never met a native speaker before so, hey, we can communicate, was a great confidence boost. Having an element of control over one's destiny is surely an inalienable human right, barring what are euphemistically labelled 'Acts of God'.

The 'little people', the vast majority of the surviving population, are still dependent on handouts and remain uninvolved in the reconstruction process.

The Acehnese have suffered enough. It is only right that they should be enabled.

Jakartass, and Endy Bayuni, hopes that good sense will prevail among the powers-that-be.

If our politicians cannot represent the people of Aceh and meet their aspirations, then we don't deserve Aceh. And neither does Aceh deserve our politicians.



6:00 pm |
Sunday, July 17, 2005

Events chez Jakartass Towers and elsewhere have conspired to prevent me from espousing environmental causes recently.

It is my contention that, to quote a line from Bertolucci's Little Buddha, there is no salvation without a compassion for every other being.

To that end, I present a non-exhaustive list of mainly Indonesian links which demonstrate that we can all do our bit.

Indonesian Earthkeepers


Ashoka's mission is to shape a citizen sector that is entrepreneurial, productive and globally integrated, and to develop the profession of social entrepreneurship around the world. Ashoka identifies and invests in leading social entrepreneurs - extraordinary individuals with unprecedented ideas for change in their communities - supporting the individual, idea and institution through all phases of their career. Once elected to Ashoka, Fellows benefit from being part of the global Fellowship for life.

Ashoka Fellows in Indonesia.

Suryo Wardhoyo Prawiroatmodjo founded Indonesia?s first centre for environmental education on the slopes of the sacred Penanggungan volcano, in east Java.

Sujana is a roadcleaner in Bandung.who earns a very small income, but he admits that he is quite happy with his job, because he can do something for his earth.

Terranet - Indonesian Portal for Environment and Sustainable Development - has many links inc:

Club for Green Indonesia - Surabaya

Indonesian Foundation for Sustainable Development is a non-profit organization who cares on environment and sustainable development.

Animal Lovers

ProFauna Indonesia is a non-government organisation working for the protection of wild animals and their habitat, especially primates.

It is supported financially by Nature Travel Specialists who believe in the conservation of nature throughout the world, and of the traditions and values of the people of it. We feel that the best way for anyone to feel passionate about conservation is to experience its success, and to understand what can happen to wildlife, ecosystems, and scenic beauty without it.

Experience tells us that a person feels more strongly about something they have touched, seen first hand, or interacted with, than just read about or seen on television. While the latter are great tools,
first-hand experience is far more powerful.

Working with animals can be so rewarding !

Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation has a sister organisation in Sumatra.

A survey by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP) found at least 1,000 orangutans in North Sumatra and Aceh provinces are disappearing each year due to poaching and loss of habitat.

Animal Nuts

"I've seen five cases of adult males with infected penises caused by bad teeth."

I must admit that I haven't closely examined that many squirrels - tupai in Indonesian. However, if you're that concerned, then a step-to-step guide to trimming male squirrels' teeth can be seen here.

While you're at it, you may wish to shave its nose. Don't ask me why, but for those who do you could practise on a stray cat first.


World Animal Net - Indonesia lists 34 Indonesian groups, many with their own website.

Planet Ark has a daily email newsletter of worldwide environmental news for concerned world citizens.



10:30 am |
Saturday, July 16, 2005



9:00 am |
Friday, July 15, 2005
  "I always take the bus."


"Because it's cheap."

Actually, Jakartass doesn't but, believe me, I would if they were like London's buses.
(Saturday 7a.m: For a Londoner's take on the article, read Inspector Sands. It seems that Thatcher's legacy was a Jakarta-like chaos which has been turned round by a mayor who cares. Over to you Gov. Sooty.)

This is not a Jakarta bus.

I commented yesterday how quiet Jakarta's streets were on Wednesday. I put this down to temporary obeyance of SBY's edict to save energy. Like all trends, however, I suspect that things will return to 'normal' pretty soon.

Normal as in transport workers going on strike because their salaries are unpaid or their status is low. It was bus drivers last week and will be railway employees at the beginning of next month.

And normal as in the traffic grinding to a halt in the flooded streets because shopping malls and exclusive housing complexes have been built on Jakarta's flood plain. Mind you, the torrential downpour we're experiencing today is not normal in the dry, rather than rainy, season.

In fact, this is where I must pause to strew buckets and towels around because, strewth, this is a really massive storm and there are leaks where there shouldn't be.

And back at the keyboard, it's worth noting that, much as London Buses are back to being one corporate entity, so there's a realisation here that too many bosses cook the books.

The Jakarta administration revealed yesterday that it would transform the TransJakarta Busway Management into a corporate entity in order to boost flexibility in handling the planned 15 busway corridors in the capital.

TransJakarta Busway Management has repeatedly complained that it could not use the revenue it collects from tickets because the funds have to be transferred to city coffers. It cannot immediately repair damaged lanes, for instance, since the authority and funds to repair the lanes is in the hands of the City's Public Works Agency.

Aside from the Public Works Agency, at least four other agencies are involved in some way with management of the Busway, including the City Transportation Agency, which handles shelters and traffic signs; the City Park Agency that is in charge of median strips; the City Public Order Agency that provides security personnel and the City Public Illumination and Road Infrastructure Agency that handles street lighting along the corridors.

This is.

The need for a sane public transport policy in Jakarta is paramount, not least because the immense drain on fuel supplies by private motorists.

My old friend, Bill Guerin, has an excellent analysis of the fuel and energy crisis here.

And now I must leave for the land of nod as I've run out of steam.



10:30 pm |
Thursday, July 14, 2005
  Disconnected and Disenfranchised

News that the four London bombs were set off by four British suicide bombers should not be too much of a surprise.

One security source I spoke to yesterday, before the police revealed their findings, presciently guessed that the culprits were "a UK group, home-grown, having bypassed al-Qaida training camps". He reckoned they would have drawn on the pool of young Muslims so disconnected and disenfranchised that they are easy prey to the extremist sermons heard in some mosques, to the wild, conspiracy-theory packed tapes sold outside and to the most fire-breathing websites. The proliferation of that material represents a deep challenge to British Islam; that disconnection and disenfranchisement is a challenge to Britain itself.

This has echoes of the recent bombing outrages here in Indonesia. The evil lies within the heart of every nation.

As for the reasons why, many ask but few seem to get to the heart of the matter preferring to put the blame on religious perversion.

Only the emergence and establishment of a true pluralistic society will hamper the recruitment of suicide bombers. Only communities that feel that their voices are heard, their hurt is felt and their issues are addressed can be confident enough to then be able to take their place alongside other communities as a partner with a vested interest in the future of the UK.

This surely holds true for every nation.

In Helsinki the fourth round of talks between the Aceh separatist group GAM and the Indonesia government is reaching its conclusion. One contentious point to be settled is the Acehnese demand for the right to create local political parties that are not controlled in Jakarta and that will allow the province to largely rule itself - a demand flatly rejected by the Indonesian government.

To Jakartass, the GAM proposal seems eminently fair. They have given up their original core demand for independence, as was grudgingly (and violently) given to East Timor. However, the political élite in Jakarta have other ideas.

Last month the House of Representatives urged the government to halt the talks.

Last Friday they changed their minds.

And why? Simple really.

Yesterday, chief security minister Widodo Adi Sutjipto said, "The government's stance is quite clear. The demand for local political parties cannot be accommodated. It is already firm that we cannot accept it because our existing legal system only recognizes national-scope political parties."

If the Acehnese weren't such devout Muslims I'd draw an analogy to snouts in the trough.

On my shoe seeking mission yesterday ~ which was successful since you ask, at Pasaraya Blok M ~ I passed something called the Institute for Authentic Friendship.

An 'institute'? Could this be a marriage guidance centre; these are the only 'institutionalised' friendships I can think of. And what is 'authentic friendship' anyway when it's at home? Either you have friends or you don't. Surely faux friends are merely hangers-on.

Can anyone enlighten me?



5:00 pm |
Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Regular readers will know that this isn't my favourite activity but occasionally needs must.

For Jakartass it's the traipsing around for shoes. You'll probably know that Indonesia exports shoes by the container load but can I find a comfortable fit? Can I f***.

It's not that my feet are abnormal. They're wide, true, but size 11 (UK) or 12 (US) is not that unusual among westerners. I generally have to find an outlet selling goods not fit for export, or one selling imports, often branded goods made in Asian sweatshops such as the lowpaying factories here in Indonesia.

I tried a few places yesterday with Our Kid in tow. Apart from meeting a few friends in Jalan Jaksa where he failed to finish off his Ya Udah burger, this was an abortive venture.

At least it was until we arrived in Jalan Surabaya, the street of small lockups selling modern artefacts and an establishment selling second-hand LPs, laser discs and CDs. I've been going there for years when I'm in need of an aural boost. A browse through the racks digging out unknown treasures is my one unalloyed shopping joy here in Jakarta.

So, as I contemplate another traipse through town later, I'm tapping this out to the refrain of a band who I'd never heard of, Kosheen, who are apparently quite big in the UK and Yugoslavia. I'm certainly listening and I'm almost dancing. Great stuff.

There were a few modern jazz classics added to my collection as well, including a Jaco Pastorius tribute, John Schofield and Don Grolnick. I haven't listened to them yet. For the moment I'm grooving to a new sound.

Hey, there's life in this old dog yet.

Now for those shoes.



3:00 pm |
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
  I'll be a fuel for you - SBY

On Sunday, SBY was criticised for his clothes sense.

While former South African leader Nelson Mandela wears batik with great aplomb, Susilo went the other way. He chose to wear dark suits with a white shirt and tie. Much to my amazement, he even showed up at mosques in a suit. During his first 100 days as President, he went to Istiqlal Mosque for two different ceremonies and wore a suit for prayers.

During his first 100 days he did wear batik at Ancol beach. Although, his choice was a long-sleeved batik shirt, which is a popular choice for formal occasions here. Most Indonesians go for a short-sleeved batik or even a T-shirt for a trip to the seaside. Well, he is a president, that is true, but does he have to dress up that much? He did not even roll up his shirt sleeves during his trip to the tsunami-devastated Aceh province.

On Monday, yesterday, SBY looked like this.

Unfortunately, it appears that he isn't trying to go 'metro'. Nor is he doing his bit to cut down on global warming as Japanese businessmen are.

No, his reason is more prosaic.

Although the fuel subsidy has been reduced this year, the rise in the dollar price of a barrel of oil coupled with the weakening of the rupiah and rising domestic demand for fuel means that Indonesia is rapidly increasing its debt.

Pertamina, the state oil company has rationed fuel throughout Indonesia resulting in lengthy queues at the pumps. This is a crisis big enough for SBY to postpone his overseas trip to China, Brunei and Thailand which was due to start tomorrow.

"I will explain more to the public about the fuel problem soon, and I will also call on people to reduce their fuel consumption to a moderate level so that we can meet the fuel subsidy allocations in the state budget," Susilo said.

Raising the temperature in air-conditioned offices is one tactic suggested in the Presidential Decree No.10/2005 on energy conservation. He will also cut down on his cavalcading escort.

Good idea. Methinks I'll do the same and follow the lead of the Governor of Central Java who has suggested that his subordinates should use public transport to go to work.

Hang on a sec. I already do.

In case you think I'm being too sardonic, read today's Jakarta Post editorial.

Instead of arbitrarily telling officials to embark on conservation measures and cut up to 10 percent of fuel consumption, it would have been more strategic for the President at the beginning of his term to instruct the government to work with just 90 percent of the allocated budget appropriated.

Such a dramatic approach to budgeting and planning would have been more effective than the knee-jerk response currently being touted.

It would methodically introduce conservation measures and at the same time allow the government to achieve its promised targets without compromising the mobility and vitality of the public service.

Other public measures -- not just to conserve fuel and electricity -- on a short and long term basis could also be applied fairly to the general population. This could include progressive taxation for automobiles, water conservation, the promotion of alternative fuels, improvement of public transportation, etc.

In addition to solving immediate budgetary problems it is reasonable to suggest that this result-based conservation process will help reinforce the belief that the government not only cares but is taking consistent steps to spend wisely.

Susilo should not simply look at abating critics under the pretext of having "a sense of crisis".

Legitimate conservation efforts are part of a cultural habit. Any success in imposing such measures in the short term will be fleeting. The government should look toward a comprehensive effort that can be embraced and accepted by a population -- measures which in four years time will reduce pollution levels, conserve energy consumption, cut down on public expenditure and stop waste.

The President should learn what other democratically elected leaders have known for a long time: The more thrifty a government becomes, the more generous voters are at the ballot box.



7:00 pm |
Monday, July 11, 2005
  A Capital Comment

I'm nowhere near being an expert in capital markets, but a posting in The Aseanist caught my eye.

He quotes Robert E. Anderson, an ex-World Bank economist, who points out that how corporations are owned in the developing world is more important than how they are governed.

In Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia ... by and large, a few large shareholders control most of the stock, and whatever was sold to the public (I suspect in the I.P.O. boom of the early 1990s) was to raise a lot of cash for the company and its owner without giving anything much to the public.

The vast majority of Southeast Asian "public" companies are actually privately held. Either they're owned by governments or by well-connected individuals and families (many of whom, by the way, have close relations with government). So naturally, they're run by the same people who "own" them: bureaucrats or family heirs. And those that are run by managers aren't really run professionally, because regardless of those executives' experience or (often Western M.B.A.) educations, they exercise their discretion or expertise at the mercy of the large shareholders (who) have effective veto power over their day-to-day decisions. They're the professional face of what is essentially mom-and-pop (or matriarch-and-patriarch) operations.

The Aseanist then argues that we need more entrepreneurs and innovators; we need more people to build businesses as this is better for the economy (so resources are allocated more wisely).

And, I would add, more widely.

A wiser and wider dispersal of wealth would do much to alleviate the economic distress which drives those without hope into the welcoming arms of the fascisti of al-Qaeda.



1:00 am |
Sunday, July 10, 2005
  Casus Belli
(Edited and reposted)

London not only deserved to win but, what's more, really, really deserved to enjoy how that made it feel for a whole lot longer than it did.

But it wasn't about London. What happened on Thursday was a routine day in Baghdad.

It isn't about incidents at all, devastating though they are to the victims and their families.

It isn't about al-Qaeda. Their time is now, but it could have been, and in the 70's and 80's in London, Birmingham and Belfast it was, the IRA. It could also have been, and before last year in Madrid it was, ETA.

It isn't about Islam, although al-Qaeda may claim it is.

It isn't about anti-imperialism or anti-Americanism, although these are convenient pegs.

The Bali bomb killed more Australians than any other nationality, but bombs, by their very nature are indiscriminate. No nationality can claim freedom from terror, and therein lies the root cause.

What the world faces now is akin to fascism, communism, multinationalism and all the other isms. This is a totalitarian quest to dominate.

Whether you are brown or white, Muslim, Christian, Jew or atheist, it is uncomfortable to face the fact that there is a messianic cult of death which, like European fascism and communism before it, will send you to your grave whatever you do.

The perpetrators are in denial of diversity and the essence of the human spirit. In binding humanity both for and against it, al-Qaeda pursues a single-minded path.

Casus belli is now widely used to simply mean a nation's motives for going to war, without reference to any other formal documents or proposed means of redress, and sometimes without even implying that these motives are just.

Adherents to their cause do not have a choice once that choice is made. The rest of us do, yet few seem to be asking why such outrages can even be dreamt up let alone perpetrated.

Two similar viewpoints are offered which are unlikely to be taken on board by the powers-that-be.

Zaid Hassan has posted his reflections as a Londoner and a Muslim.

Why is no one talking about injustice? Surely it's obvious? Surely we all know that the prime cause of terrorism, of such acts is injustice? Surely we know that if terrorism is madness then it's a madness caused squarely by being a victim of forces beyond comprehension? By being on the receiving end of an intolerable amount of injustice? Of having no tears left, of being drained of empathy.

I search around me in vain for empathy. I can see courage, bravery, bluster, pain, fear, sadness, but no empathy. No empathy and no justice.

Ali Mostashari at Free Thoughts on Iran suggests that extremists of all stripes are partly to blame.

The choice of the Islamic fundamentalists, the Neocons and Christian Fundamentalists seems clear. What is unclear in this period of time is the role of the progressive peoples representing the multiple civilizations at odds. For long the only thing we have achieved is to condemn acts of wars and atrocities, without an actual and concrete alternative to offer.

So how about it? Do we want to sit and watch while the hatemongers in our nations take over the destiny of mankind and steer us towards massive bloodshed? What concrete ways are there to address issues of terrorism and bigotry in the Middle East, the growth of the military-industrial complex and religious fundamentalism and the retreat of rationality and human ideals in the West? Are there ways to address these issues on a global level?

Jakartass can see that the powers-that-be intend to continue their 'war against terrorism'. Not only will this involve military escapades against 'radicals' in oil producing, previously non-Coca Cola consuming countries but 'back home' there is the ready made excuse to reduce civil liberties.

In Britain, these long-enshrined civil liberties are already being eroded with the move to introduce a compulsory ID card and the notion to introduce email spying.

However, crushing Islamo-fascism means clinging to our grandiose dreams of eradicating poverty. It means never allowing last week's spirit of survival to fester into hatreds and bad laws.

It's important to remind ourselves that we have in our hands the tools for our own transformation, and we can make the world a better place through our own actions. There are some who wish to change the world through fear and violence, but there are far, far more of us who want to change the world through knowledge, cooperation, democracy and a long-view wisdom about both our responsibilities and our opportunities. The future is on our side.

Who will take on board the 'clear and sane message' of Mary Robinson? She was the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights who reminded world leaders that any effort to eradicate terrorism can not be made at the cost of human and civil rights.

What she said was: "The best tribute we can pay to the victims of terrorism and their grieving families and friends, is to ensure that justice, and not revenge, is served".

She also cautioned against the violation of human rights in the global 'fixation' with the war against terrorism and said: "What must never be forgotten is that human rights are no hindrance to the promotion of peace and security. Rather they are an essential element of any strategy to defeat terrorism."



2:00 pm |
  Sunday Magazine

The Jakartass Sunday Special is on hold this week.

However, if you have need of a fun fix, wander over to Ghost Traveller with its host of links.

And I'm not just saying that because he recommends this blog.



12:30 pm |
Friday, July 08, 2005
  London Pride

Reading the many blogs, with their comments, emanating from London gives me a great sense of solidarity and pride.

Inspector Sands
Diamond Geezer
Random Reality ~ a London ambulance man.

Read too, Ken Livingstone's fine impromptu speech, as Mayor of London, given to reporters.

I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.

That isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith - it is just an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each other. I said yesterday to the International Olympic Committee, that the city of London is the greatest in the world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have been bereaved and that is why I'm proud to be the mayor of that city.

I still have to ask one question though.

When there are bombing outrages here in Indonesia, western governments are prone to issuing travel advisories saying how wise it would be to not come here.

Can we expect to be told by the Indonesian government that it would be unwise to go to the UK?

Of course not.

This smacks of hypocrisy and paternalism from our economic overlords.

We ALL need to be vigilant, and we shouldn't need telling.



6:30 pm |
Thursday, July 07, 2005
  Now What?

Euphoria quickly turns to outrage as news comes through of the London bombings.

Thoughts are with friends and family.

Keep in touch with developments via the Guardian blog and main page.

Also Inspector Sands has a comprehensive list of links.



10:30 pm |
Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner ....
... that I'm pretty pleased that the 2012 Olympic Games will be held there.

Now I do know that more serious things are happening around the world. For example, there is the recent massive corruption in Iraq ~ by the American occupation authorities ~ which puts the malfeasance here in Indonesia in the realms of taking home an office pen. ($8.8bn in eight months???)

No, let me crow a little, but not as much as Diamond Geezer, that esteemed blogger and honorary Londoner. Much of his neighbourhood in the East End is now scheduled for redevelopment and he's recently written many posts about the past London Olympics with photos of their present condition. Well worth a look.

Inspector Sands is also well pleased; he lives south of the river and will also be able to stroll to a few venues, such as Greenwich Park where the equestrian sports and modern pentathlon are scheduled to be held, and the Woolwich Arsenal where my father worked in the postwar years as a cost accountant and where the shooting events ~ what else? ~ are scheduled.

The main venues are given here.

And slap bang in the centre of it all will be Charlton Athletic. Former Charlton favourite Paul Elliott, director of the trust that oversees the club's community activities, said: "We are all wonderfully privileged to be here and congratulations to us all.

"Sport is the most wonderful thing that can bring people together of all classes, races, colours, creeds, religions, and genders. What we have achieved now, as far as I'm concerned, is one of the greatest things in living history. We've all got a chance to be part of it. All I'll say is enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!"

The only problem from my viewpoint in Jakarta is the time zone difference. Most events will be shown here, if at all, in the middle of the night, much as three of the five Charlton matches due to be televised before Xmas.

Ho hum.

Still, we do have one thing here which will cause a touch of envy in both the Inspector and the Diamond Geezer. Today I spotted a Routemaster bus. Yes, having been declared redundant in London, one can be seen here in Jakarta. It is decked out in the colours of DHL mind, not that they seem to keen on telling us about it.



5:30 pm |
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
  Crocodiles Go Hungry Due To Shortage Of Tourists

Animal lovers are particularly perturbed by the above headline in today's Jakarta Post, the paper edition that is.

Terrorist outrages, travel warnings, SARS, avian flu, polio outbreaks, Schapelle Corby, the visa-on-arrival policy ~ you name it, they've all been blamed for the lack of wandering tourists.

The ramifications are wider spread than most would have imagined. It seems that not only are souvenir sellers, beach massage ladies, postcard purveyors, hotel and restaurant owners, and related tourism industries severely crocked, but the crocs are too.

Let them eat frogs!

Hang on a sec.

I've just noticed that the Asam Kumbang Crocodile Breeding Farm, listed as an official tourist site since 1982, in Medan, where 'Er Indoors comes from, needs the entrance fees from tourists to buy the ton of chicken meat needed every day to feed an estimated 2,700 animals.

PS. Whilst browsing, still online having posted the above, I came across this post.
Or what?


5:00 pm |
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
  Oh my Ghosh

Excuse me for not writing much today.

I got home to find 'Er Indoors, Our Kid and a couple of visitors from the in-law tribe sitting without electricity. Since 10 o'clock this morning it had been disconnecting at shorter and shorter intervals but, of course, they had done nought to remedy the situation.

I immediately sent emissaries to the local hardware shop to buy replacement fuses. If everything is OK, you can read this. If not .......

Actually there's nothing I can report which my online colleagues haven't already done.

Bart's Expat Newsletter carries two links about this morning's force 6.8 earthquake with an epicenter 190 kilometers west of the coastal town of Sibolga in West Sumatra, including one by Arijit Ghosh in Jakarta at Bloomberg. No casualties have been reported.


Indcoup carries the news that the Corby judges in Bali will re-open her case to hear evidence from many Australians including the owner of the 4.1 kilograms of marijuana found in Corby's bag.

"It was me what done it, Sir. I'm prepared to spend twenty years in a Balinese jail."

Oh yeah?

Actually, these witnesses will be able to give evidence via video link as they are already in jail.

In Australia.

Meanwhile, courtesy of the J-Walk Blog, you may like to read A Child's ABC of Terrorism.

I like H which is for hegemony and Halliburton. Hegemony (huh-JEM-uh-nee) is when you're so big and powerful you can do anything you want, like appointing a horse to the Roman Senate or openly handing out billions of dollars in contracts to people everyone knows are your friends. H is also for hubris.


5:00 pm |
Monday, July 04, 2005
  It's a comical old world

Following yesterday's post which featured British and American comics, it's only fair that my readers should know about Indonesian ones.

Presumably the Jakarta Post reads Jakartass because today's edition carries two articles, here and here, reporting that responding to the nostalgia of the heyday of Indonesian comics in the 1970s and 1980s, a Jakarta publishing company has breathed new life into the popular local superhero Gundala Putra Petir, reprinting the original books for staunch fans.

The publisher, BumiLangit, has reprinted the first and second titles of the original Gundala Putra Petir (Gundala the Lightning's Son), publishing 7,500 copies for each title.

fr. komikindonesia.com

Hasmi, who studied at the Indonesian School of Fine Arts in Yogyakarta and a language school, first published Gundala in 1969. He was inspired by American superheroes, especially Flash Gordon and Thor.

"Gundala wears a black costume, while Flash wears red. Flash moves as fast as lightning while Gundala is only as fast as a typhoon, but he can fire lightning while Flash cannot."

"It ended because I was lured by another comic project to depict the glory of then president Soeharto. Me and some other artists and comic creators in Yogyakarta thought we would be rich after the project," Hasmi said.

At the end of the day, the project turned out to be almost a complete bust and the publisher of Gundala never contacted Hasmi again after he abandoned Gundala.

"I was too ashamed to contact them," Hasmi said.

I'm not surprised. I would be too.



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