Tuesday, August 30, 2005
  And a warm welcome back to .....

Regular readers will have noted that recently this blogger hasn't been consistently highlighting major issues of concern to democrats and pluralists here in Indonesia, although I feel no need to offer apologies for the posts about Charlton Athletic.

I've been in need of inspiration in these frustrating times.

There are major concerns beyond the need to survive the day. Apart from Aceh, Papua, the drop in the value of the rupiah and the rise in oil prices, there have been major schisms in communal life.

This past month, Muslim fundamentalists, the Islamic Defenders? Front (FPI), have been attacking Christian 'house churches' in Bandung and forcing their closure. Before that, they attacked and forced the closure of a complex in Bogor of a minor Islamic sect, Ahmadiyah, accusing it of heresy.

I had high hopes that Indcoup, a friend and former colleague, with an eye on Islamic fundamentalists elsewhere would have commented on the antics of FPI, but he hasn't yet achieved a focus on life in the Big Durian. I've waited in vain.

But now comes the welcome news of the re-emergence of Laksamana.net. I developed many of my posts around their in-depth articles until the site went into hibernation.

It has re-emerged as Paras Indonesia - Where Democratic Minds Meet with more columnists which will, presumably and hopefully, allow for more independent voices to be heard. What is of particular interest is that the site is interactive, having adopted a blog format with a commenting feature.

Articles already commented on include:
Tommy's Special Treatment A Sick Joke
Reasonable Doubt, Public Relations & Immunity
My Neurotic Fears About Indonesia's Future

And a recent news article, off the blog, focuses on the news that Gus Dur, the president before last, has warned that Banser, the security task force of the nation?s largest Muslim group Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), would be mobilized against FPI if the government fails to stop the radical group from attacking churches.

Welcome back guys. It was getting a bit lonely out here.


6:30 pm |
Monday, August 29, 2005
  Did you see the match?

No I bloody didn't !

I'd tuned in TV7 and got a good picture of .... loads of little guys trying not to fall off big bikes. Ok, that finished and what did we get for our Sunday night entertainment?

Shootkiller, a cheapo kung fu death match sicko Z-movie, that's what.

I logged onto to BBC Radio 5 Live via the website, only to discover that, for 'contactual reasons', live commentary was only available in the UK. So what's the use of having a World Wide Web?

I eventually got the updated-every-two-minutes link via the BBC's Charlton page.

And what was the score? Middlesborough 0 Charlton 3, that's what and Charlton are now one of only three teams with a 100% record and an unbelievable six, count 'em, goal difference, second only to Chelsea but with a game in hand. What's more, they are winning courtesy of some gloriously kaleidoscopic passing and movement.

So, in spite of missing the pleasure of instant gratification, I've had a smile on my face all day and a new determination.

A determination to fork out for one of those new-fangled satellite dishes so I won't miss out on our further glory.


6:30 pm |
Sunday, August 28, 2005
  Honoring Our People?

The late Morris Thompson was Athabaskan, born and raised in the Yukon River Village of Tanana. He had a colorful career in both the private and public sectors, and was known as one of Alaska's most prominent business leaders.

Morris served as special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior during the Nixon administration and, at age 34, became the youngest Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Morris was a former president of the Alaska Federation of Natives, founding Vice-President of Commonwealth North, co-chairman of the Alaska Federation of Natives, and a cabinet-level officer in Alaska Governor Walter J. Hickel's first administration.

Employed by Doyon Limited Regional Corporation since 1981, Morris was originally hired as Vice-President and, in October 1985, he was appointed President and Chief Officer. When Morris took over Doyon in 1985, it had an operating loss of $28 million. When he retired, it was generating $70.9 million in annual revenues, had 900 employees and 14,000 stockholders.

One month after retiring from Doyon, Morris passed away along with his wife, Thelma, and his daughter, Sheryl, on Alaska Airlines flight 261 returning from a vacation in Mexico.

And what has this got to do with Jakartass you might reasonably ask.

A couple of days ago I outlined the difficulties we have communicating with the drones who supposedly retain our website domain name and the resultant loss of communication due to the loss of our emails.

Being of a positive frame of mind ~ we'll sue the bastards ~ and with the exercise of a bit of lateral thinking, I've opened a new Jakartass email account.

With great excitement I awaited the first missive to my inbox. I found it had been filtered out and this is part of it:


I am Mr.Akram Mahmoud Ali Branch Manger of national Bank of Abu Dhabi I am writing following an Opportunity In my office that will be of immense benefit to both of Us. In my department I discovered an abandoned sum of $12, million ($12, 000, 000, 00) United state dollars) in an account that belongs to one of our foreign customers, Late Mr. Morris Thompson an American who unfortunately lost His life in the plane crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 Which crashed on January 31 2000, including his wife and Only daughter.

You shall read more about this story visiting This site. Since we got information about his death, we have been Expecting his Next of kin or relatives to come over and claim His money because we cannot release it unless somebody applies For it as next of kin or Relation to the deceased as indicated In our banking guidelines.

Unfortunately I learnt that his supposed next of kin being his Only Daughter died along with him in the plane crash leaving Nobody with The knowledge of this fund behind for the claim. And the banking law and guidelines here united Arab emirate That such money remained after five years the money will be Transferred into banking treasury as unclaimed funds.

etc. etc.

Mr. A.M.I. is a dishonorable person. What's more, the five years are already up.

And why am I blogging this? Because it is symptomatic of greed and venality, the curse of the 'developed' world.

Today's Jakarta Post gives prominence to the shooping habits of the rich and shallow.

Who needs new malls?

The intensified construction of malls is now capitalizing on the consumption-driven economy, in which lenders believe that injecting their money into the financing of new malls would quickly generate profits, rather than engaging in more risky production-side activities such as the construction of new factories.

People do a lot of things in malls

It's like there is no getting enough of them. There are a couple of them five minutes away from where we're standing now and another one seven minutes away, a friend said when I asked about the idea of banning the building of any more malls, particularly in the "swamped" capital of Jakarta.

No, my friend was not complaining.

He said it was just fascinating to see the abundance of options, even if only to taste the different atmospheres in branches of Starbucks, McDonald's, Sport Station or the 21 cinema in each mall.

Good news: There is still room for more malls

City Spatial Agency head Nurfakih Wirawan said that the city spatial plan would be made and revised in the best interests of business in the city.

The city administration apparently has turned a blind eye to the fact that the construction of new malls continually encroaches on the green areas and other public spaces.

A construction of new mall is now underway at the entrance of Senayan Sports Complex, which will swallow up a green field that is already diminishing due to the existence of a four-star hotel nearby.

Residents in Cibubur, in East Jakarta are now complaining about the massive traffic congestion in their neighborhood ever since the construction of a new mall kicked off in the location, while a trade center in Central Jakarta stands accussed of occupying a public road connecting a nearby neighborhood.

Nurfakih claimed that compared to other cities in Europe, America and Asia, Jakarta has cleaner air.

"If you fly above Jakarta, it still looks green. It's even greener than Paris, New York and Tokyo," he asserted.

Jakartass is beginning to despair of humanity. This isn't about honouring people; it's about consumerism of scarce resources and exploitation of a society losing its identity and soul.

Choice? A green city?

Bullshit. It's lies upon lies.

There are still green oases of sanity. I pause and reflect upon the whereabouts of Son no.1. He's up at Hotel Rimbo having his brain washed. If I can hang on 'til Xmas that's where I'll be too. Have a look at the banner photo, the view from my yet-to-be-built studio.

There is still hope that this aging hippy won't turn into a grumpy old codger.




1:30 am |
Saturday, August 27, 2005

It has come to my notice that many of you doubt my credentials. 'Er Indoors doesn't, so why should you?

Let me make this absolutely clear once and for all. I have not paid one dime or rupiah for any of my academic accreditations.

I have a B.Ed (Honours) as befits a man of my capabilities and physical attributes, a Certificate in Audio-Visual Aids, awarded in 1967 for my outstanding work with a slate and coloured chalks, and a Doctorate in Divinity from the Church of Aphrodite, which was noted for its good works on behalf of yet-to-be aging hippies. There is/was absolutely no connection with this one founded by Gleb Botkin.

Our church has been recognised as being another in the vast panoply of old time world religions.

We all worship Aphrodite,
And Her sister bold Astarte,
They both throw a lovely party,
And that's just fine with me!

In the Church of Aphrodite
She's a mighty righteous sightie,
The Priestess wears a see through nightie
And she's good enough for me.

I won't go into details, but my doctorate was awarded for services rendered. In the UK, the police authorities recognised my qualification. I recall one momentous occasion when I was returning on my trusty MZ 250 from a celebration which involved the inhalation of the Holy Sacrament and an officer of the law caught up with me and asked to see my driving licence. He had noted my slight over-exuberance. Reading my honorific ~ Dr. ~ he was very pleased to give me an escort, siren wailing and lights flashing, to the local hospital where he assumed I had an emergency to deal with.

Jakartass readers will be pleased, therefore, that recent revelations here in Jakarta about top people acquiring faux academic affixes do not concern me.

A former vice president (Hamzah Haz), several former Cabinet ministers, some Muslim clerics and a number of retired senior police officers are among the prominent figures facing police investigation for allegedly obtaining academic titles from a suspected illegal educational institute.

A National Police spokesman said on Monday that the police were now examining the database of the U.S.-affiliated Institut Manajemen Global Indonesia (IMGI), which lists the former top officials among the approximately 5,000 people it graduated since it was established in 1997.

Most of the officials and police officers obtained the degrees, ranging from bachelor's degrees to doctorates, between 1998 and 1999, before they reached the peaks of their careers.

To receive the degrees, it is alleged people simply had to pay between Rp 1.5 million (US$150) and Rp 5 million.

Apparently there are another 19 institutions reportedly operating in Jakarta without licenses from the Directorate General of Higher Education at the Ministry of National Education.

The institutes include the International University Transfer Program, the International Agyata Foundation, the American Management University, the American International Institute of Management and Technology, the Washington International University, San Pedro College of Business Administration and Kennedy Western University.

You'll note that the Church of Aphrodite is NOT included.

Enough said?

D.D., B.Ed., Cert. AVA (IKEA)
Email me.


12:00 pm |
Thursday, August 25, 2005
  Parallel Realities

Well, I see that Inspector Sands has problems, so I must thank him for being one of my inspirations in this blogging lark and wish him happy travels.

Due to issues involving my hosting company and Blogger (the former is incredibly helpful, the latter is refusing to answer my e-mails, meaning my problems cannot be fixed), Casino Avenue is taking a break. Or it could be the end. Whatever, Inspector Sands is being sent on his holidays, only being allowed home to watch Charlton matches for All Quiet In The East Stand.

He may not come back, but in the meantime this seems like a good time to switch off and think about where to go next with this blogging lark. After all, there's only so much you can do under a silly pseudonym on a website somebody bought for you. Or is there?

Strange that the good Inspector can't get a reply from Blogger; I generally do but I'm not getting much help from the host of a separate website I co-own. Actually, it's the previous host which is more than bothersome.

In brief, a couple of years back we chose to move from Easy Space to one we felt offered a better service and less 'spam' for services we weren't interested in. We paid for two years hosting with the renewal due at the end of the coming October. We set up ten or so email accounts in order to provide various language services, some of which, especially writing, have proved financially viable or, in the case of Jakartass and certain editing services, hopefully useful.

This week we have discovered that two years ago our new host was unable to effect the transfer of our domain name from Easy Space.

Transfer was attempted on 3 separate occasions and each time the domain was locked or no-one responded. As this was the case, the domain remained with easyspace. The domain has now expired and therefore you need to contact easyspace in order to renew the domain.

Of course, it doesn't help that this was news to us, not having received notification about the problem. It's only this week that, with our emails inoperative, that we realised that we have problems.

Anyway, we have, of course, tried to contact Easy Space who, seemingly, only use automated internet pages. Any human involvement seems to be dependent on the office boy not having a morning after.

Our webmaster sent two 'critically urgent' requests, on Tuesday and Wednesday, to Easyspace about the lapsed domain name, but had no response other than automated acknowledgments of receipt until the following came some 30 hours later:


Your domain has expired and is in the redemption period.

If you want to restore the domain the cost is £100 + Vat and can be apid (sic) by contacting our renewals department on +44 870 xxx xxxx.


Jamie McG
Domains Administrator.
Iomart Group
Support Services

Support Services?

We believed we had paid, against an invoice, just £15 for the transference. But then a thorough exploration of their website shows that we paid Easy Space for six years of domain hosting in 2000 and this expires on July 10th next year. In other words, Easy Space has unilaterally removed our right to use the domain name which is still ours!

We are tempted to wait until the domain name is up for grabs again and reclaim it as rightfully ours, albeit with a different host. Unfortunately, other than paying through the nose for something we've spent years building and still own, our only other recourse is through the Office for Fair Trading back in the UK.

Inspector, I hope your problems soon disappear. Perhaps in naming and shaming they will.

Perhaps ours will too.



4:00 pm |
Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The August update on Nusa's recovery from the tsunami by John Aglionby with photos is published today.

"Things have now changed and it seems OK to celebrate."

That is obviously a hopeful sign as is the fact that GAM rebels are now trickling back into villages and seeking reconciliation.

Inevitably this will be a lengthy process.

However, with the unconditional release of GAM prisoners scheduled to be complete by August 31 and the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) of the European Union and ASEAN in place what is certain, for now, is that a solid foundation has been laid for the construction of peace in Aceh. Success - that is, peace - depends now on how well the two sides work together in compliance with the provisions of the deal, particularly in cases where it is violated.

Also in the paper today

The advertiser lives in Solo, Central Java. I wonder if he could be a certain former Indonesian diplomat who was suspected of smuggling African animal parts in the diplomatic pouch.


1:00 pm |
Monday, August 22, 2005
  Words before Deeds

Bored waiting for another Jakartass epistle?

Me too, so I thought I'd try a few doodles courtesy of NEW ArtPadTM Beta v.2.1 .

However, you have to agree to a 17 (count 'em) section legal agreement which according to section 17 doesn't expire when you do. Only when you've agreed and clicked can you get down to doodling.

This ArtPad Agreement (this "Agreement") is by and between Art.com, a Delaware company, ("Art.com", "we" or "us" and "our" shall be construed accordingly) and you ("User" or "you" and "your" shall be construed accordingly), individually a "Party" and collectively the "Parties".

Art.com operates a website on the World Wide Web found on http://www.art.com (the "Website") and has developed proprietary technology to enable digital drawings, designs and other content to be loaded onto the Website ("ArtPad"). User desires to create drawings, designs and other content using ArtPad (the ?Content? as defined more specifically herein) which may be displayed on the Website and for which links may be transmitted electronically.

Furthermore, and without prejudice to PabloPicasso.com, you will hereby declare that any doodlings which are detrimental to the good name of the lawyers, legal advisers and other pedants who have drawn up the aforesaid legal agreement will be deemed the property of the said lawyers, legal advisers and other pedants, who otherwise agree that the ArtPad is only for the use of visually impaired and cack-handed procrastinators.

Express yourself, NOW!

OK. Where's my pen and scratch paper?

Much better "Art" was in evidence a couple of days ago when the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson were blown into the sky from a cannon in Aspen, Colorado.

Fireworks carrying the ashes of the writer exploded over the top of his memorial on his Owl Farm home.

"He loved explosions," Thompson's widow Anita said.



6:00 pm |
Friday, August 19, 2005
  Very nice, but why?

I won't be blogging so much for a couple of days, or three. Probably.

So here's a link which may or may not interest you but sure as wotsits boggles me.

Color Code is a full-color portrait of the English language.

The artwork is an interactive map of more than 33,000 words. Each word has been assigned a color based on the average color of images found by a search engine. The words are then grouped by meaning. The resulting patterns form an atlas of our lexicon. -- Martin Wattenberg.

Martin Wattenberg's work centers on the theme of making the invisible visible. Past projects include the Thinking Machine series, the NameVoyager, The Shape of Song, the Whitney Artport's Idea Line, and Apartment. Wattenberg is a researcher at IBM, where he creates new forms of data visualization. He is also known for the SmartMoney.com Map of the Market. He holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from U.C. Berkeley.

Very nice, Martin. But why?



11:59 pm |
Thursday, August 18, 2005
  Militating Militias

I suggested a couple of days ago that malicious militias in Aceh need to be curbed if the historic peace pact between GAM, the Free Aceh Movement, and the government of Indonesia is to hold.

I can't claim prescience and neither can John Aglionby who has been reporting for the Guardian from there for the past six years.

Much will depend on the political resolve of the two sides' leaders. The chances of this agreement succeeding and not disintegrating completely or collapsing into a state of pseudo-anarchy akin to that in the southern Philippines are therefore slim.

But they are infinitely better than on any of the previous occasions when Gam and Jakarta have tried to end the insurgency. Both sides are showing unprecedented public determination to succeed; the impact of the tsunami and consequent presence of huge sums of aid money cannot be overstated; the quality of the monitors is superior to past missions and, most crucially, a political deal has been struck before any guns are surrendered or troops withdrawn.

My experience of reporting from Aceh over the last six years makes me think the barriers to success are too great to overcome. But I was not expecting the negotiations to reach an agreement and Aceh's capacity to surprise is extraordinary. I look forward to being proved wrong.

Indonesian commanders have thousands of recently-disbanded civilian militiamen at their disposal to mobilise as and when they might be needed. Arrayed against them are numerous criminal elements who GAM could easily co-opt to do their dirty work.

I'm sure John is as dismayed as I am to know that plainclothes police threatened rebels who were released from the Jantho penitentiary in Aceh Besar regency.

One of the officers took a picture of a GAM prisoner, Jamal, near a rebel flag inside his cell, while two others pulled out and brandished their handguns at the departing prisoners.

Jamal is among 48 GAM inmates imprisoned in Jantho who received remissions on their sentences in conjunction with the independence anniversary. He was immediately free thanks to the sentence cut.

The presence of militia groups is also deferring the return of Acehnese exiles, many of whom have beren involved in the recent peace talks.

Shadia, the wife of American activist and freelance journalist William Nessen, has been living in the U.S. since 2003 and is active in the Aceh campaign across the country as well as other nations.

She said, "I have learned there are still militiamen roaming around Aceh, and this is not right. This is what continues to cause me worry, even though the peace agreement has been signed. I am sure my family and relatives and the province of four million people are also worried about that."

In its press release dated Aug. 14, the day before the MOU's signing, GAM quoted a leaked TNI intelligence document as saying that there were nine militia organizations in Aceh with some 10,000 active members who vowed to kill GAM members after they were disarmed.

The military command (TNI) naturally deny the presence of 'proxy militiamen'.

Still, it is nice to know that foreign governments have some faith that the peace pact has validity.

Papua New Guinea's foreign minister called on pro-independence rebels in the neighboring Indonesian province of West Papua on Thursday to seek an autonomy arrangement similar to that reached this week between Jakarta and separatists in Aceh.

Good luck with that process.



4:00 pm |
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
  Believe it or not.

In escaping the street festivities in my street I'd forgotten the annual shenanigans in Jl. Jaksa.

I was brave enough not to enter the 6-legged ski races or the eel eating contest, but what pisses me off a bit was that I was too late for the beer drinking race, because my lunchtime meeting proved that I could have been a contender.

I don't think you'll see me on TV tonight or adorning the front page of the Jakarta Post tomorrow, a fate which annually befalls those bules who do have the independence on Independence Day, mainly because I did my best to stay out of view. But if you really want to know who came 3rd in the ladies balloon bursting competition, or whose fat arse that is tumbling in the sack race, then drop me a line.

What intrigued me most from today's little jaunt was told me by my homeward bound taxi driver. Apparently, up on Jakarta's north shore, in the Ancol recreation area, a world record was set. A feature of many celebrations and now a focus for communal effort is the 8 or so metre high greasy pole from the top of which dangle tempting prizes.

The record? 260 poles had been erected.

Truly amazing, eh? 


6:30 pm |
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
  Unity in Diversity?

I might have blogged about it but, unlike Agam and his Gecko, I was unable to watch the signing of the Helsinki Peace Pact on TV as I was working.

I'll be working tomorrow too even though I've notionally got the day off for Independence Day. Mind you, I won't be disturbed by the painter and handyman spending some of my hard-earned dosh around the house, so there are compensations and if you're in Ya Udah for lunch, do drop by and say 'hi, you must be Jakartass'.

You won't win a prize, but I'll be very polite to you in keeping with the community spirit and goodwill which seems to be generated every year on this day. However, whether true independence and genuine unity has been achieved yet is a matter of conjecture.

We are united as a nation, but inequalities in many areas are the order of the day. And justice for most people remains a distant dream. We have yet to learn that genuine unity is based on visible social justice and appreciation of each other's ethnical background and religious affiliation.

Our unity is more symbolic, and statements like "Unitary Republic of Indonesia to the death" only serve once again to divert attention away from the real and substantive nation-building issues to the question of national unity.
If a part of the nation-building process is the formation of national character, then pity Indonesia for what we have become.

Today, the characteristics most typify Indonesians range from corruption and greed, cruelty and intolerance, to laziness, unreliableness and incompetence. Add hypocrisy for good measure given that we keep proclaiming ourselves to be very religious in spite of all these negative characteristics.

Still we have done our bit; our flag is getting its annual airing.



6:30 pm |
Monday, August 15, 2005
  A Leap of Faith

That's the peace accord between the Government of Indonesia (GoI) and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) signed today in Helsinki. The deal centers on a decommissioning of the GAM rebel movement, in exchange for participation in the political process, and a withdrawal of the Indonesian army and police forces from the troubled region, to be completed by the end of the year.

Chief mediator Martti Ahtisaari said today, "The agreement is under 10 pages long and we could have signed 100 pages but what counts is not words but deeds.

"It's a leap of faith"

The treaty says that GAM rebels will lay down their arms, integrate into civil society, and be allowed to participate in the political process and establish political parties.

The Indonesian central government army and police forces will withdraw from Aceh, leaving local police in charge.

There will be a mechanism for ensuring human rights and an amnesty will be granted.

There will be a human rights court in Aceh and a commission for truth and reconciliation.

The decommissioning and withdrawal is to be achieved over a four month period in four installments, to be completed by December.

Ahtisaari said he was pleased that the treaty had been agreed, "but now everything depends on the commitment of the parties".

The full text of the agreement can be read in my archives here.

It may have taken the tsunami to finally reach this historic day, but given faith and goodwill from both sides, with a commitment to purge Aceh of militia forces with their own malicious agendas, this could well serve as a blueprint for peace pacts elsewhere.

Starting with Papua perhaps? 


6:00 pm |
Sunday, August 14, 2005
  Wash Your Mouth Out

A morning's browsing, mainly in the J-Walk Blog and Bifurcated Rivets (great name) has left me immersed in words.

Or not, in the case of the One Word Movie which did the rounds of art festivals last year. This reveals a glimpse into the "collective psychology" of online cultures by showing patterns of word-image associations, as created by millions of people around the world.

Word-image associations?

Try Terence Trent D'Arby, he of the whatever-happened-to variety. If you really want to know, here is part of his recent biography.

Once upon a time, an artist, a fish, woke up to find himself in an era swimming in various kinds of music, the best of which touched him as a fish swimming in water feels everything that the water contains. He decided to take elements of all that moved him, wrap it around his vision and call it: 'POST MILLENIUM ROCK' (PMR!).

Oh, and he now calls himself Sananda Francesco Maitreya.

Now think of 'Jesus'.

Most of us will picture a long-haired, bearded sandle-wearing Caucasian hippie, possibly based on a Pre-Raphaelite painting.

However, for some not-very-literate marketeers it's this puppet.

This Jesus puppet was made with great care and love and was designed to depict Christ in a loving, kind approachable. We wanted a Jesus that children would want to know love and cherish. All of this big mouth puppets clothes are completely removable including his shoes. He has accentuated fingers, feet with toes (to wear sandals) and sewn elbow and knee joints. You can enter this lovely puppet from either the back in a ventriloquist puppet style or from the bottom like a standard half body puppet.

Take His clothes off and enter "from the bottom"? Sounds rude to me, which leads me to say that even though my ability to swear is relatively unfettered, there are some words I just can't say, and I rarely use foul language in writing - something to do with seeming permanence perhaps, plus the sense that, on paper, 'you irremediably imperious bunyip' will be more effective than 'you fucking knob'.

Indeed, and someone else with a surprising way with words was William Topaz McGonagall (died 1902), widely hailed as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language.

I particularly like his hitherto unpublished epic of The Faithful Dog Fido, which is, unfortunately, too long to reproduce here.

So instead, read out loud this wonderful ode written especially for Indonesian pembantus (charladies).

Sunlight Soap

You can use it with great pleasure and ease
Without wasting any elbow grease;
And when washing the most dirty clothes
The sweat won't be dripping off your nose
You can wash your clothes with little rubbing
And without scarcely any scrubbing;
And I tell you once again without any joke
There's no soap can surpass Sunlight Soap;
And believe me, charwomen one and all,
I remain yours truly, the Poet McGonagall.

If you want more,
Here's some stores.

If you think they're quaint,
Then become a saint.

So there you have it.
Now you can shove it.

At least and without sorrow,
until tomorrow.



12:00 pm |
Friday, August 12, 2005
  And now for something serious.

At 9pm, local time, tomorrow I'll be glued to the telly along with zillions around the world bellowing .....
Cumonyu Reds !!


Yep, it's that time of year again. As I wrote this time last year, "I suppose I will be disappointed if we don't get in the UEFA Cup at least, but whatever happens, it's going to be another great season."

Well, for a time in February it did look as if Europe beckoned and that was one of the most exciting periods in Charlton's history that I can recall. And the final day of the season when we had nothing but local pride to play for proved to be one of the best ever night's football viewing. Not that the game itself was live on TV here; we had Southampton v Man Utd. What we also had was a mini-league at the bottom of the screen showing all four clubs alternatively escaping the drop. And Fortune favoured West Brom. So now the Palace are less exalted than the Cottagers and merely on a par with the Den.

Since then it's certainly been an interesting mid-season break, what with two new Addickted bloggers to read. Both have great titles so I hope they have a great future. Frankie Valley has a lovely sense of humour and a good layout although I'm not sure what the long-term effect of greyish type on a maroon background is going to have on my eyesight. In the Land of the Sausage Tree (where vegetarians go hungry), an Addick seems to be intermittently honing his script writing skills.

You can find permanent links to these and some 18 other fan sites here.

Back at the Valley, the chairman, Richard Murray received an HonDBA from the University of Greenwich, after loads of politicians had come seeking for some reflected glory. Nothing to do with the football, of course, but Charlton's world renowned community schemes were deservedly in the spotlight. And this continues to grow. Red China has been added to the number of youth academies worldwide.

The Addicks have signed a five-year agreement with the Super League outfit, Shanghai Zobon, to establish a massive state-of-the-art youth set-up in the heart of Shanghai that will be called the Zobon Charlton Football Academy.

Charlton chief executive Peter Varney said, "We are joining an elite group of European clubs, such as Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United, who are seeking the enormous player, commercial and branding opportunities that can be secured from a presence in China - a country where there is enormous interest in the top European leagues.

"This is a key element of the international strategy for our football club."

The deal comes only a matter of days after Charlton became the first Premiership club outside the top four to market their television rights to international broadcasters with the introduction of Charlton Athletic TV.

Any chance of an academy in Indonesia, Peter?


Ah, hang on a sec. I get it. There's money at the root of this in the "commercial and branding opportunities", so here we're going to be stuck with Manu, a new theme bar, and Peter Withe in charge of the national team. As ever, this country is seen as a land of no-hopers.

Ho hum.

Charlton, of course, is fan-based and look how far we've come in ten years. We're an inspiration to the many Supporters Direct clubs.

And back at the Valley we may even have a squad of players capable of achieving the heights of European football. After all, Chris Powell has swapped places with Paul Konchesky who went off to get hammered as Chris' club of last year try to stave off relegation. We've also got a former Russian captain who prefers to be in Charlton's first team rather than Chelsea's third.

Add a bunch of lads with loads of potential and, in the case of one Darren Bent, a knack for scoring goals, the future's so bright, I've got to wear rose-tinted glasses. Pity the injury crisis has kicked in a bit early, but then we do now have a squad half the size of Chelski's so I don't think we should be too worried.


My prediction? Unlike one commentator who "can't think of anything to say" about Charlton's prospects, but thinks we'll end up 13th, I've already said it; it's going to be another great season.



4:30 pm |
Thursday, August 11, 2005
  More pap on Papua

Actually, I don't think my musings are "over-simplified or tasteless" (Webster's). If they were, then I'm sure the distinguished Australian journalist Antony Loewenstein would not have linked to my post yesterday. What gets my goat a bit is that he gets loads of comments and I don't.

Anyway, thanks Tone.

Perhaps you'll also be interested in a bit more background to the ongoing problems in Papua.

The Indonesian government granted special autonomy status to West Papua in 2001. Along with this came funds of Rp 1.7 trillion (US$174 million) to carry out development. Observers of the Indonesian scene ~ that's the entire population and foreign commentators ~ will not be surprised by the claim of the Papua Tribal Council to have strong evidence concerning the irregularities allegedly committed by the Papua Governor and his apparatus, and this evidence would be presented to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for further follow up.

"The evidence includes bank accounts of some Papua officials. The accounts are suspicious because the amounts of money in these accounts was staggering".

After a meeting with Deputy House of Representatives Speaker Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno in Jakarta yesterday, West Irian Jaya legislature speaker Jimmy Demianus Idjie said, "The value of the autonomy fund has been Rp 5.6 trillion over the last three years, but the welfare of Papuans has not improved through its usage."

Direct observation shows us that Papua is in fact a region that has received only a minimal "development touch". It becomes more ironic as this province is very rich in natural resources. We can witness that the cities at the regency level - let us say, in the Baliem valley area - are supported with sparse infrastructure. There is a lack of clean water facility, nearly daily power blackouts, waste can be seen everywhere, while health care and education are only minimal.

The condition becomes more frustrating if we are to witness the "human" aspect. Economic disparity seems glaring between the local indigenous people and the migrant inhabitants - "the newcomers". The indigenous Papuans believe that if they receive the same opportunities and equal treatment, they can also be as successful as the newcomers.

In reality the Papuans have to pay tax, but can only sell their goods on the side of the street, while the newcomers sell their products in permanent shops.

The influence of offcomers, generally Javanese, is one of the Suharto legacies. The transmigration programme, although originally initiated by the Dutch colonial powers, was adopted by first President Soekarno to resettle sparsely populated regions of the country and to alleviate the food shortages and weak economic performance.

In the 1990s, during Suharto's regime, 1.2 million Javanese and Sumatran persons streamed into Papua over a ten-year period. Nearly all of these migrants were Muslims, coming into an area that, prior to Indonesian rule, had been almost entirely populated by Roman Catholics, Protestants and people following tribal religions. The transmigration's purpose is to tip the West Papuan population from the heavily Melanesian Papuans toward a more Asian "balance," thus further consolidating Indonesian control.

That the indigenous population of the former Dutch New Guinea expected to rule their own country after the departure of the Dutch is well documented.

That some 50 years later they still have major grievances against their current colonial rulers, the 'apparatus' of the Indonesian government is nothing short of a tragedy.



3:30 pm |
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
  What is TNI up to?

Peace is gathering apace in Aceh as the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) start to withdraw their forces.

TNI spokesman Col. Ahmad Yani Basuki was quoted on Sunday as saying that the Indonesian Military (TNI) is preparing to withdraw reinforcement troops from Aceh in stages once a peace deal is signed by the government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) on Aug. 15.

"We (the TNI) support the peace process that has been reached by the government and GAM during a series of informal talks on Aceh in Helsinki.

"To show our support for the peace process, we are now preparing several policies with respect to our duties in Aceh, including the withdrawal of non-organic troops from the province."

TNI chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto has said the military is preparing a contingency plan to anticipate possible violations of the peace agreement.

According to reports, the TNI is considering the possibility of maintaining 20,000 organic troops in Aceh. Normally, the number of organic troops, who are attached to a regional military command, does not exceed 10 battalions, or about 10,000 personnel.

Peace is also gathering apace in Maluku following progress after the government revoked the civil emergency status for the province in 2003 following bloody sectarian violence which had occurred since 1999, and still does intermittently.

The government is planning to withdraw some 3,000 non-organic troops from conflict-torn Maluku next year, but maintain other 1,650 of non-organic mobile police there to maintain security.

Apart from my confusion about organic and non-organic troops ~ are, perhaps, some robots? ~ what Jakartass and others would like to know is where those withdrawn troops are now being posted to.

Could it be to West Papua?

That's what Australian Democrats believe and they've issued a press release which I republish in full.

Dated: 05 August 2005

Massacre warning for West Papua

Individuals, Non-Government Organisations and Church groups from inside West Papua are expressing grave concerns over increased Indonesian military presence and a dramatic escalation of violence and intimidation, according to the Australian Democrats.

There have been numerous reports that entire villages have been destroyed and the people shot and tortured, Democrats Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said.

Reports have stated that up to 15,000 (Eh? As many as that?) Indonesian troops have been sent to West Papua in recent weeks.

There has been a specific and concerted effort by the Indonesian military to increase dramatically national and racial tensions. This has all the appearances of a disaster in waiting and we cannot simply allow it to happen.

These events closely follow the passage of a Bill through the US House of Representatives that included support statements for West Papua from Congressman Eni Faleomavaega and Congressman Donald Payne.

Following the passage of the Bill, Congressman Faleomavaega called on the Australian Prime Minister to seriously rethink Government policy on West Papua.

I am putting the Australian Government on notice the situation in West Papua is critical. We have been forewarned. If the current violence escalates the onus will be on the Australian Government to explain what it did to prevent such a massacre.

The Australian Government must call upon Indonesia to immediately withdraw additional troops from West Papua.

During a situation like this, the allegations regarding a pro-Jakarta lobby within the Australian Intelligence services and concern over intelligence warnings prior to the East Timor massacre are deeply disturbing.

We must not allow another East Timor to develop on our doorstep. We have the advance warning, there will be no excuse if this is allowed to happen, Senator Stott Despoja said.

They are right to be concerned. According to this document on Human Rights Abuses in West Papua (Irian Jaya), since 1962 an estimated 30% of the population, that's 300,000 people, have simply vanished from the face of this earth.

A small portion of this could be explained, the aerial bombardment claimed 80,000 lives, exile and refugees at its highest [1984-1985] totaled 13,000, known massacres 13,000, that totals roughly 106,000. So, where did the remainder go? If one looks at the abysmal level of health care system for the rural population, the disease statistics meagre though they are, one could not help but conclude that this population is rapidly declining directly or indirectly as the result of Indonesian government policies.

Can we be assured by SBY's meeting with 29 Papuan leaders last night at the State Palace to discuss the latest developments in the easternmost province?

The leaders, including Papua Governor JP Salossa and Papua provincial council speaker Jhon Ibo, went to the State Palace at the invitation of the President.

All high-ranking government officials attended the meeting, including Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Alwi Shihab, National Police chief Gen. Sutanto and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo A.S. and chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN).

In his welcome speech, the President said the meeting was aimed at discussing solutions to Papuan problems, adding that all problems had solutions.

There was a ceremony in Jayapura yesterday commemorating International Indigenous Day.

The ceremony, which was tightly guarded by dozens of police and Army personnel, came only weeks after U.S. congressmen proposed a controversial bill on Papua. The bill sparked uproar among Indonesian government officials as it questioned the validity of the process leading up to the 1969 Act of Free Choice in Papua, when selected Papuan leaders voted unanimously to join Indonesia.

The secretary-general of the Papuan Tribal Council, Leo Imbiri, said that Papuans had always been treated unfairly but Papuans would continue to struggle to bring an end to the injustice. One such injustice, he said, was that development in Papua was never discussed with the Papuan tribal community. Many Papuans lost their lives after Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969. "The killers of those Papuans have to be brought to justice. If they are not, Papuans will always question whether we were incorporated into Indonesian just to be slaughtered?" said Leo.

As with Aceh, the issue for the Indonesian government and the TNI is the vast amount of natural resources waiting to be 'exploited' and that, again, Indonesia has failed to convince the population through concrete deeds that they are better off as part of Indonesia.

Tomorrow, SBY is meeting Xanana Gusmao, his counterpart in Timor Leste, in Bali where they expect to officially inaugurate a joint secretariat office of the Commission of Friendship and Truth.

So, East Timor, Aceh and Maluku are, or will be, no longer a playground for the TNI. It is vital that SBY acts expeditiously to prevent a continuance of their war games in Papua. Otherwise there will be a very strong moral argument, backed by western governments, for another part of Indonesia to be given its freedom.



4:46 pm |
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
  Ten Years of the Internet?

The Guardian is celebrating ten years of the internet, a word so ubiquitous that it's now lower case. Actually, according to this Wikipedia entry on its founder, Tim Berners-Lee, the World Wide Web is a bit older.

To understand the extraordinary revolution that swept the world so quickly, existing users need simply to imagine what life would now be like without email (on which corporate life depends), search engines such as Google, web companies such as Amazon, eBay and Yahoo, the ongoing explosion of online commerce, not to mention the burgeoning world of personal journals (blogs), downloaded music and films, free newspapers, web cameras, internet telephony and the growing convergence of the net and mobile phones.

And spam, spyware, porn and bigotry.

And Jakartass.

Ten years ago we were in the last throes of the Suharto-era. Life was good in that incomes were on a par with the west and I could afford return tickets to the UK. Actually, I mean 'from' as I paid for Son no.1 to pay me regular visits.

Arranging these meant using snail mail and long-distance phone calls, but we managed. And then along came the Asian krismon and the shocking, yet enervating, events which resulted in Suharto's forced abdication which we watched on TV.

We were marooned on our urban island, bordered as we are by the River Ciliwung, a toll road, a railway and a major route into town. For a week we went nowhere, apart from our bank to empty our account, just in case. The phone was our link to the outside and we were able to keep in touch with friends and the British embassy where the Reveller was helping to man the phones.

I'd just started a letter to Son no.1 which then turned into a daily chronicle of unfolding events. It was after this euphoric phase in our lives (albeit disastrously traumatic for thousands caught up in the riots, arson and looting) that I first bought a modem and was able to instantly link up to the outside world.

I don't want those events to reoccur, but I do somewhat regret that blogging hadn't been 'invented'. Still, I suppose I did my bit post-tsunami.

All in all, I applaud Tim Berners-Lee. We all should as there are a lot of good people out there sharing ideas, opinions and their creativity so thereby creating a world with fewer barriers.

Now, if only the Indonesian telecommunications industry could get its act together ?..



6:30 pm |
Sunday, August 07, 2005
  I need a holiday!

I'm still bloody knackered from all the anti-berak berak medicine I've been taking. This is really unlike me as can be attested to by countless friends of the Reveller, the chronicler of Jakarta's less salubrious nightlife, who know me as a convivial easy-going kind of guy in the best of physical condition.

Perhaps I'm a little stressed out.

Rent is due and so is a month's pay, last month's. Our landlady wants us to buy the house for a mere zillion, which is cheap by UK standards but then I live and earn here.

Ho hum.

Still, I haven't, except in my wildest daydreams, succumbed to the daily strife here quite like this fellow expat who is well versed in the ways of Jakarta's taxi drivers.

On Friday night I was travelling in a taxi and reading my book, not paying attention. Suddenly I realised the taxi had stopped for no apparent reason. I looked up, and saw a strange man quickly approaching my door, reaching for the door handle, and the driver seemed to recognise him and did nothing to warn me, but actually UNLOCKED THE DOORS. I instantly remembered some security advice about this kind of situation, and slid across the seat, jumped out the other side and began screaming for help frantically exactly as advised.

Lots of shocked onlookers stood around, and several security guards came running, but no-one came to help me. The guy had by now got the door open and grabbed my bag and stood there brazenly, not even scared or running away. This made me very mad, so I ran over and pepper-sprayed his face, kneed him hard in the genitals and gave him a karate chop as he slumped to the floor.

I dragged the taxi driver out and was about to give him a good hiding when a security guard explained that I had arrived at Hotel Shangri-La, and the guy was the doorman welcoming me to the hotel and helping with my baggage. Imagine my embarrassment, but later when we saw the poor guy being loaded still screaming into the ambulance we all had a jolly good laugh at my silly mistake.

Reading this, I realised that we all need somewhere to 'chill', whatever that means, so I've spent some of my sick leave googling and I think I've found the perfect place - The Tofu Islands.

Situated in the South Satay Sea, the twin islands of Mellaria and Rumpapumpaam are home to some of the most beautiful and heavily-logged rain-forests in the world.



10:30 am |
Saturday, August 06, 2005
  Today is Hiroshima Day, the 60th anniversary of the first use of a bomb so powerful that it would come to threaten the existence of the human race.

Now, that might not mean a lot to most of you, but it meant a lot to those of us born shortly after WWII ended. I would have been here, or thereabouts, as I was conceived in a spasm of whoopee on VE (Victory in Europe) day. VJ day was yet to come and it took the dropping of two atomic bombs to bring that about. And so my sister was born.

Yet, in spite of my father's mantra of "We fought the war for the likes of you", I have been a pacifist and anti-militarist for most of my life.

As one of the first western journalists into Hitroshima, John Hersey recorded the experiences of six survivors whose lives were shattered in an instant. His account was published in a special issue of the New Yorker. An edited version can be read here.

A weapon so powerful that it can leave civilians as mere shadows on walls is too powerful and disturbing to contemplate. This image can be found in both the article and his book Hiroshima published in 1946 by, I recall, Pelican, a book which had a profound impact on my malleable teenage brain.

That Japan was on the brink of surrender at the time has long been argued, yet who was to know? If I were a generation older, would I have been thankful? Would I have applauded Paul Tibbets, the man who piloted the Enola Gay on its mission to Japan?

On the way to the target I was thinking: I can't think of any mistakes I've made. Maybe I did make a mistake: maybe I was too damned assured. At 29 years of age I was so shot in the ass with confidence I didn't think there was anything I couldn't do. Of course, that applied to airplanes and people. So, no, I had no problem with it. I knew we did the right thing because when I knew we'd be doing that I thought, yes, we're going to kill a lot of people, but by God we're going to save a lot of lives. We won't have to invade Japan.

What I do know is that the use of atomic bombs didn't stop wars or the mass killing of civilians. The bombs didn't bring peace.

What President Harry Truman called "the greatest achievement of organised science in history" - had rendered obsolete the very concept of material, scientific "progress". As the great and heroic Simone Weil had said before her death two years earlier, the evil in modern war was now the technical aspect itself rather than political factors. Everything that has happened since has only confirmed that truth.

For that reason alone we must remember.



8:00 pm |
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
  Indonesian bugs

I've still got one of those bugs which seem common here. In English, I'd call it the trots but, if I were to bung myself up with more Entrostop and make it to a local quack, s/he'd probably tell me I've got tippus (rather than typhoid).

Truly, there are some wierd ailments here.

Take masuk angin. This can be roughly translated as 'wind entering'; most of us call it breathing. Another common one is panas dalam which means hot inside. Godammit, if we were cold inside we'd surely be dead, yet both generate massive sales of halal drinks.

This, of course, is good for Indonesian Muslims intent on following the one true path as defined by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

Indonesia's reputation as a bastion of moderate, tolerant Islam has been cast in doubt after the nation's ulemas council (MUI) issued 11 fatwas (edicts) banning liberal Islamic thought, religious pluralism, inter-faith marriage, inter-faith prayers led by non-Muslims and women leading prayers attended by men.

This, in itself, doesn't bother me. Being in favour of a woman's right to choose and the use of contraception I also ignore Catholic dogmatic claptrap.

What both religions have in common though is an assertion of their right to interfere in civil society by determining secular laws and here in Indonesia this is seemingly welcomed. There is a Ministry of Religious Affairs, currently under investigation for massive embezzlement of haj funds.

Yet, the MUI is not a state institution. It can issue fatwa and orders to Muslims, but they are not binding and it does no have the authority to enforce them. Legal authorities in the government have no obligation to enforce the edicts while Muslims are not obliged to comply with them.

Because the MUI has no authority to enforce the controversial fatwa, it is the hard-line groups, like the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) who appear at the frontline to pressure the authorities to enforce them. If they believe the authorities have failed, they (the hard-line groups) could directly come to the field to enforce them.

The MUI, whose influence is strongest in poorly educated rural communities, believes liberal teachings - defined as those promoting rational rather than literal interpretations of religious texts - are "dangerous and misleading".

In other words, we have a major Islamic organisation here in Indonesia whose teachings directly resonate with potential al-Qaeda recruits.

, my fellow Brit blogger here in Jakarta, seems to be most concerned about the growth of fundamentalist Islam in the UK. Like me, he has a 'mixed marriage' and is a potential target of the MUI.

And that's what really bugs me.



4:30 pm |
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
  I'm off.

And, yes, I am commenting on my deteriorating body.

I'm laid up with the dreaded lergy so, my brain being elsewhere, I'll leave off this blog for a while.

So, until I'm feeling more chipper, browse my links for inspiration and J-Walk or Bifurcated Rivets for fun.

And if you're the googler looking for paul scholes penis (really !), have a look elsewhere.


5:30 pm |
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