Friday, September 30, 2005
  My Complaint About Indcoup

Indcoup has recently made a number of people very, very angry, including me. However, as anger serves no function in a successful rebuttal, I will simply state objectively that I don't much care to share the same planet as Indcoup.

The rest of this post is focused exclusively on Indcoup, not because I harbor any ill-will towards him but because he says that no one is smart enough to see through his transparent lies. Yet he also wants to talk about you and me in terms which are not fit to be repeated. Am I the only one who sees the irony there? I ask because many of his subliminal psywar campaigns have been criticized for being slanted in favor of a particular stance.

That shouldn't surprise you when you consider that if I wanted to brainwash and manipulate a large segment of the population, I would convince them that university professors must conform their theses and conclusions to Indcoup's noxious, drugged-out prejudices if they want to publish papers and advance their careers. In fact, that's exactly what Indcoup does as part of his quest to win support by encapsulating frustrations and directing them toward unpopular scapegoats.

I went puce with rage when I first heard Indcoup say that all minorities are poor, stupid ghetto trash. The sooner he comes to grips with that reality, the better for all of us. It must be nice to live in his little world, where the sun shines, the birds chirp merrily, and reality never rears its ugly head, and deep down in our bones, we all know why. He is a cynical megalomaniac.

This is all well and good, but if you were to try to tell his cringers that he never misses an opportunity to indulge his preoccupation with his alleged victimization, they'd close their eyes and put their hands over their ears. They are, as the psychologists say, in denial. They don't want to hear that there are some basic biological realities of the world in which we live.

These realities are doubtless regrettable, but they are unalterable. If Indcoup finds them intolerable and unthinkable, the only thing that I can suggest is that he try to flag down a flying saucer and take passage for some other solar system, possibly one in which the residents are oblivious to the fact that it's a pity that two thousand years after Christ, the voices of careless purveyors of malice and hatred like Indcoup can still be heard, worse still that they're listened to, and worst of all that anyone believes them. Okay, I've vented enough frustration. So let me end by saying that Indcoup bickers and argues over petty things.

And what brought this little rant on?

Only that he got online before me - AGAIN - to comment on the fact that today is the 40th anniversary of the supposed communist coup which saw Suharto consolidate his power.

Check out today's Jakarta Post for loads of articles which generally point out that no-one truly understands what happened, who organised it ~ although it is known that the CIA were intimately involved, how many people were killed ~ between 500,000 and 1 million are the estimates ~ in the genocide that followed and, interesting question this, how come Suharto wasn't one of the generals slain that day.

What is known is that generations of families of those supposed communist sympathisers continue to suffer to this day.

Strange to think that Suharto's Pancasila 'democracy' was, in its centralised control and institutionalised bureaucratic corruption, an example of communist theories in practice.

Jakartass is, of course, a believer in individual expression within a communal framework. I hereby promise to never again use the complaint generator which produced the above rant. Next time I'll write my own.

Still, it may be useful for Teh Manis (Sweet Tea), another newish blogger in town, who is setting out on a particularly difficult lifestyle.

ladies and gent, i am gay and proud of it, but the f*%king thing is, im not out yet, just wait untill i have my own income and get out from my parents house.

Good luck, son. Just be thankful that Indonesia has made some progress in the last forty years.

(And thanks to Son no.1 for the link.)



5:30 pm |
Thursday, September 29, 2005
  Sealed with a kiss

This is outrageous. Just when I thought I had the monopoly on lifting stories from the Jakarta Post, along comes Indcoup and posts the story before I've had a chance to get it online. What's more, it's also been blogged in bahasa Indonesia.

If you haven't already heard, Aceh's controversial public kissing scandal has an interesting mix of perpetrators: an Indonesian Army General, one of his soldiers and his young girlfriend.

The incident took place in Lhokseumawe last week, during the withdrawal of Indonesian soldiers from Aceh in line with the truce signed in August in Helsinki. Maj. Gen. Supiadin, commander of the Iskandar Muda Headquarters, spotted an Acehnese girl in a corner of the wharf who was weeping uncontrollably.

"What's the matter with you, girl?" Supiadin asked.

Within his presence and that of Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) observers, then Prv. Eko Wahyudi and his red-scarfed girlfriend Yuni committed a blatant and flagrant violation of local decency, a heartfelt kiss, on the mouth, which was duly snapped, recorded and written up by a mob of waiting media.

Anticipating public protests from the devout Acehnese Muslims following repeated TV reports and print media coverage of the passionate kiss, the general made a public apology, saying he was responsible for the romantic - but legally wrong - spectacle.

The Kiss - by Eko

Supiadin has since promised to do his best to make sure that the soldier and the woman would eventually be able to form a family. In a situation where many commanders seem ambivalent at best about the welfare of their soldiers, the two-star general proved that he really cared. He called the soldier to say goodbye to his crying girlfriend, who he had known for a year, when the soldier's ship was about to embark. And, most importantly, he took responsibility for the kiss.

On Tuesday, dozens of members of the Association of Islamic Students (HMI) demanded the punishment of the 23-year-old Acehnese girl and her dreamed-of soldier. In Jakarta, many other people condemned the couple, especially the woman, because the kiss was conducted in Aceh, which everyone knows is the Veranda of Mecca.

Should the Acehnese woman be punished for expressing her love? Should she be caned or stoned? Under the sharia law, several people who committed minor crimes have already been caned in Aceh. We can certainly say that Yuni has violated sharia. However, when she kissed her soldier, she certainly must never imagined that this would have been the consequence. She was only an ordinary woman acting out of love for a man, who earlier had been ordered by the state to kill as many rebels as possible in Aceh.

Before we leap to punish this woman, it might be a good time to weigh up some sins in this situation; after all, laws should be seen in their wider context. Perhaps we should ask ourselves, who are the bigger sinners: Those who killed or ordered the killing of innocents in Aceh during the war, who raped women and committed crimes against humanity, or this young, naive girl? More blameworthy, surely, are the government officials who stole money that was originally allocated for the victims of the tsunami?

If the police or prosecutors do act in this case and an Acehnese court decides to cane or even stone the woman, the judge might do to remember this wise advice:

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

The Kiss - by Rodin


5:00 pm |
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
  The British press in Indonesia.

I am an admirer of the writings of John Aglionby, the Guardian's south-east Asia correspondent based here in Indonesia. His writings about Jakarta, the aftermath of the Aceh tsunami and political occurences demonstrate a keen observance of Indonesian nuances.

Although we have yet to meet, I am aware that he is married to a Javanese lady and is, therefore, attuned and accustomed to life here, although I'm not sure if he reads Jakartass.

What I am sure, though, is that he will have read an article in today's Jakarta Post by my long-term friend, Dave Jardine, who is sometimes referred to as Jalan Jaksa's John Pilger.

In this article, Dave looks back at how the British press covered events in Indonesia in 1945-1946.

In late September 1945 a British force arrived in Batavia (now known as Jakarta); mission, to find and secure Allied POW and internees held by the Japanese in Java and Sumatra and to demobilize the Imperial Japanese forces.

In their wake came a small number of British reporters. The British press was about to enter a situation as unknown to them as it was to the British military. They had an equal unfamiliarity with the land and its people; major shocks awaited them.

It is historically instructive to look back at the way the British papers covered the "Indonesia crisis of 1945-1946". Reporters, few of them with any Malay language skills and none of them with Javanese or Sundanese, were pitched into the world's first post-World War II liberation struggle.

The British papers showed an immediate tendency to interpret Indonesian nationalism simply as a function of wartime Japanese propaganda. This mis-reading of the situation would lead them to repeat the Dutch line that President Sukarno and Vice President Mohammad Hatta were simply "quislings" of the Japanese.

Would the media coverage be any different today? A moot point. Would the British insist on embedding reporters and TV crews? Certainly at one point the foreign press corps was moved to protest British military censorship of "the most vicious kind". There are enterprising reporters today who might have been prepared to take great risks to get a deeper story but that too is debatable.

There is more and this could well add a chapter to Dave's fine, albeit slim, volume about the British military's involvement in the birth pangs of Indonesia's independence, Foreign Fields Forever.

What say you, John?


5:00 pm |
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
  Education for the consumptive classes

The many parents who believe, as I do, that one of the most vital elements to their country's health is a first-class state school system may well feel a duty to send their children to state schools, even if they could afford to do otherwise. Like private medicine, private schools represent freedom of choice only to those who have always had freedom of choice - the affluent - and their continuing existence poses continuing hazards to that the state system in three ways: a) the creaming off of top teaching talents, b) the coralling of those middle-class children considered so important by state education authorities, and c) the weaning away of influential interest from state schools.

Jill Tweedie wrote this for the Guardian 34 years ago.

As a parent, I wholeheartedly agree with the above statement even though Our Kid attends a small National Plus school offering the Singapore curriculum alongside a few mandatory Indonesian components such as the outmoded, Suharto-era state philosophy, Pancasila. I make no apologies for this as the majority of his schoolmates have a mixed parentage, expat and Indonesian that is rather than meaning a mother and father.

An advert a couple of days ago in the Jakarta Post caught my eye.

The CaseTrust for Education scheme has been customised specifically by CASE for the education industry in Singapore. The scheme will enhance the confidence of international students and their parents in the quality of education in Singapore and in the schools offering the Singapore curriculum here in Indonesia. (My additional comment.)

What is CASE?

Could it be the Council for Advancement and Support of Education?

CASE helps its members build stronger relationships with their alumni and donors, raise funds for campus projects, produce recruitment materials, market their institutions to prospective students, diversify the profession, and foster public support of education. CASE also offers a variety of advancement products and services, provides standards and an ethical framework for the profession, and works with other organizations to respond to public issues of concern, while promoting the importance of education worldwide.

Well, I like the bit about 'promoting the importance of education', but it does seem to be an example of supply side economics, a throw back to the discredited notion of letting the market decide ~ donors, products and services?

So, I thought, the Singapore CASE must be something different. And it is.

In this case, CASE stands for the Consumers Association of Singapore. They have put in place, in association with the Singapore Education Authority, a shoppers' charter which will give international students and their parents added assurance that the Private Education Organisations have put in place proper systems and practices to look after the welfare and interest of international students in Singapore.

The scheme is all about sound and professional financial management of student fees. Without decrying the quality of education offered by the PEOs ~ after all, they've creamed off the best teachers and have far better facilities than state-run institutions ~ I do decry the élitism implied.

ALL parents want the best for their children. What particularly worries me is that the Singapore CASE is going to atttract funds from Indonesians who aren't prepared to invest in the, admittedly poor, Indonesian education system, and who, thereby, are weakening the balance of payments of this impoverished nation.

There are good schools here and they need our support. Those parents who opt out from the Indonesian education system, fee paying or otherwise, are not only plain selfish but distinctly unpatriotic.


6:30 pm |
Monday, September 26, 2005
  "Foreigners will probably have to spend for it."

But not if you're a top executive, because you don't "usually interact intensively with other workers".

Well then, Mr. Boss, you can bloody well pay the bribe to enable me to pass the Indonesian language proficiency test for foreign workers - which is to take effect next year, and is mandatory in order to get or extend work permits here.

Actually, for about a year I'm alright, Jack, as my work permit will be renewed at the end of this year. I suppose I'll have to engage in more discourse witth 'Er Indoors in order to master the intricasies of bahasa, but what worries me a bit is that the test will be more or less similar to the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Now, TOEFL is specifically designed to assess the capabilities of those about to enter their first semester in an American university; it is most definitely not a language test. A trained monkey could pass it.

Of course, there is no such thing as 'standard bahasa Indonesia'. What Bataks speak, apart from dialectical differences, sounds very different from that spoken, say, by Javanese. Presumably, there won't be a speaking component to the TOIFL, yet, surely, that is the main form of inter-action between foreigners and Indonesians.

As there are only around 28,000 foreign workers in Indonesia (.013r% of the population), it should not be too difficult to arrange oral testing, especially as, supposedly, the new TOIFL is being designed with job category subjects.

English language consultants could be on to a good thing. Come to think of it, perhaps the powers-that-be could enlist my services.

At least I'll be sure to pass.

Bedazzling Britain

The Jakarta Post hasn't commented today on the new TOIFL, but it sure likes us expats. Following a series of articles on Outgoing Australia, Diverse America, Colorful China, Shining Japan, Dynamic Korea and the India Diaspora, it is now the turn of we Brits.

Either in jest or seriousness, many Indonesians have wondered out loud whether it would have been better if we had been colonized by the English, rather than the Dutch, Japanese or Portuguese.

As for their English abilities, trips to the mall suggest that quite a number of Indonesian families now speak in English with their children. In schools, many apply English in their every day language. Although we're still far behind Malaysians and Singaporeans, the ability of Indonesians to speak English is slowly getting better, if only it's because they realize it's about the only way to a better future.

So, there's a simple solution to the problems of TOIFL. Don't introduce it at all. It would be far better for Indonesians, all 210 million of them, to learn English. 


6:30 pm |
Sunday, September 25, 2005
  The Other Half

A new blogger in town lets us know how the other expats live, those with expat, rather than Indonesian, partners. Presumably he's in for the short haul as he doesn't identify blues belter, long-time resident here (and a former colleague of Jakartass and Indcoup), Sue B. in his photo of a night out.

Our drivers have base salaries of (Aus) $120 per month for a 5.5 day week, but because they work a lot of overtime, they end up making probably double that each month, since overtime is $1 an hour, and they also get an extra meal allowance (80 cents) if they work more than 2 hours overtime. If they work before 5am or after 9pm they get an extra $1 for bus fares or gas for their motor cycle. Driving is a plumb job, since when they're not driving they just hang out with other drivers in parking lots, watch TV or sleep.
Indonesians have really good personal hygeine and grooming, but their plumbing systems and quality of their bathrooms stink. Literally.

The other drawback about using an unfamiliar bathroom here is that toilet paper is not always available. Many toilets are "squat" style - hang your trousers up on the hook on the wall, and put your feet in the "footprints" on either side of the hole in the ground, then let rip. If you're lucky there will be a tap with a hose attached to it that you can use as a bidet, wiping with your left hand (which is why you don't eat or hand anything to a Muslim with your left hand), or maybe there will be a tub of water that you can use to "clean up". So, always carry a few squares of toilet paper just in case.

My fellow blogger probably carries a supply of designer paper bought online from this emporium.

Only $7.95 a roll

And now for something really fascinating - a Coathanger Museum. Seriously, this is a well-researched history delving back to 2000 BC.

Designed by Michael Rice, Sheffield, England, 1947.
Produced by King's Steelworks Ltd., Sheffield, England.

In 1914 Ambrose Rice had come up with the revolutionary concept of reclaiming spilled molten steel from the factory floor to make wire coathangers. The outbreak of the First World War had halted production, and afterwards Rice was unable to find a factory willing to continue with the project. He died in 1940, a broken and embittered man.

Rice's youngest son, Michael, vowed to avenge his father, and began work as soon as he was demobbed from the army in 1945.

His design was based closely on his father's original, the Stella pt308, but advances in technology in the intervening years meant that he was able to use galvinised steel wire, rather than the remolten spillage of his father's model. The novelty of a wire coathanger, plus its inexpensive production ensured its popularity, and by 1950, the wd-100a was a standard feature in most low rank hotels, bed and breakfast establishments and hostels. And Jakartass Towers.

And does my fellow blogger use this one?

The Paris
Designed by Gustav Van Noys, Paris, France. 1931.
Produced by Foris & Co., Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, England.

The epitome of 1930's style and sophistication, The Paris was originally developed for the Swiss Pavillion at the Helsinki Expo of 1931. Hand-crafted from a single piece of edible blonde hawthorn, its decadent, sweeping lines and soi-disant aspect received so much admiration that its creator, Gustav Van Noys, decided to make it commercially available, awarding the contract for its production to Foris & Co., probably the best known of all the Essex coathanger manufacturers.



1:00 pm |
Saturday, September 24, 2005
  Flights of Fancy

There's something about gossip that reminds me of durians. One mouthful and throughout the day belches are an unappetising aftertaste. We westerners don't particularly like them; as Antony Burgess observed, and I paraphrase as I can't be bothered to reread his Malayan Trilogy, eating durians is akin to eating strawberries in the toilet.

So, what are we to make of the rumour that the Mandala plane that crashed in Medan was overloaded with durians, 2, or maybe 3, tonnes of them?

At the last moment, a person of influence decided to bring along many durians. Apparently the crew didn't have the chance to count the last-minute cargo. The pilot realized this too late. He should have aborted the flight before taking off.

I first heard this story through The Swanker who heard it through Global Voices Online who heard it from the Indonesian blog Jalan Sutera who picked it up from a tabloid which ......

'Er Indoors doesn't believe a word of it; this titbit, or tittle-tattle is a better word, hasn't emanated from Medan, her hometown, but the story has rapidly spread through the circle of the (many) Indonesians I encounter in Jakarta on a daily basis.

The problem is that the story is believable. Take the recent experience of Erik Mejaard who recently flew with Lion Air, one of the major local airlines, from Surabaya to Balikpapan.

The hydraulics of the rear door of the plane did not function well enough to automatically close the door, and it took two cabin crew and some outside crew to push and shove the door into place. I presume that one of the cabin crew tried to report this to the pilot, but as the intercom did not work, and the plane had started to move anyway, she shrugged her shoulders and left it there.

For the rest it was a pretty standard flight, i.e. reading lights didn't work, air conditioning vents were broken, and, after landing, the back door could only be opened after the joint and considerable efforts of two cabin crew. I was just glad to get out in one piece. I would have had no confidence whatsoever in either the plane or the cabin crew in case something had gone wrong.

Clearly one could question the need for luxury issues like automatically closing doors, reading lights, intercom, and air conditioning; as long as the engines work and the wings hang on, what's there to worry about?

He's right. What is there to worry about? After all, given the number of flights per day and over the years, there haven't been that many crashes, have there?

Madame Chiang's mother survived Garuda 20 or so years ago.

At the time we were living just outside Tanjungkarang - Telekbetung (now known as Lampung). Our local airport, Branti, had one major physical limitation .... the runway was too short - even for the little Fokker F-28s that Garuda was flying ... and at one end of the little runway was a cliff which dropped into a valley ... and yes, planes did drop off the end at a rate of about 1 a year whilst we were living there.

Anyway, her flight was called and in true Garuda style there was no seating allocation so the general idea was to just leg it out onto the tarmac and push and shove your way up the stairs into the aircraft ... my mother can push and shove with the best of them so she was soon seated.

The plane takes off ... reaches Branti and flies down the length of the runway (without touching down) ... all perfectly clear, no visual restrictions ... climbs again, banks and repeats the procedure ... after this the pilot announces that "they are unable to land at Branti so will be returning to Jakarta".

The plane returns to Jakarta and after touch down the cabin crew makes the following announcement, "Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to Jakarta International airport, if you have any onward connections please proceed to the Garuda transfer desk ... and thank you for flying Garuda. We look forward to seeing you in the near future."

A rare durian from Borneo

In Jakarta, it's the mango season. Losing 3 tonnes of this glorious fruit would have been a real tragedy.


2:00 pm |
Friday, September 23, 2005
  Pigeon Post

You might want to know that I've just received some spam from Carlos Fuentes, one of the best-known living novelists and essayists in the Hispanic world and a stern critic of American cultural and economic imperialism. Apparently he has some Rolex watches to offload, if you're interested.

Local Brits may have greater concerns, such as whether they should eat at Kentucky Fried Tikus because of Avian Flu. Well, nil desperandum, as we used to say in Sarf London. According to the attachment to another email I've received:

You should:
To date, most human cases are thought to have acquired their infection following exposure to dead or diseased birds. Evidence suggest that particularly risky exposure occurs during the slaughter, de-feathering, and preparation of poultry for cooking.

You should not eat dishes made with fresh duck blood or any other raw or inadequately cooked poultry products. (Yuk! I'm glad I'm a vegetarian.) Proper cooking destroys the avian influenza virus. Poultry should be cooked until all parts reach an internal temperature of 70°C. No cases of avian influenza have been linked to the consumption of thoroughly cooked poultry and egg products.

So dining at Col. Sanders' emporia is OK if you're into that kind of junk food.

This is the email.

Dear Wardens and Registered British Community


British Embassy staff in Indonesia, as in other affected countries, are watching the situation closely and liaising with the World Health Organisation and monitoring their advice.

At present, we advise against visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where it is possible to come into close contact with wild or caged birds; and ensure poultry dishes are thoroughly cooked.

We have no information at present to suggest that the authorities or airlines plan to block travel, but we are monitoring the situation and will issue further travel advice as necessary. Please also continue to monitor our travel advice on the FCO travel advice website.

Further information is on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Factsheet.

You may wish to look at the Department of Health's leaflet on Pandemic Flu at the following link.

The latest information, including the number of confirmed human fatalities, the countries affected, prevention and treatment measures and other Frequently Asked Questions, can be found on the following websites:

World Health Organisation

Health Protection Agency
National Travel Health Network and Centre

Yours sincerely,

Consular Section
British Consulate General
Tel: +(62 21) 319 01314
Fax: +(62 21) 316 0858



6:00 pm |
Thursday, September 22, 2005
  More blogs in Indonesia

This blog is a blog about bloggers in Indonesia.

Read some of them to save me the effort of writing something for you to read.



9:00 pm |
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
  Two entries and counting

Two pseudonymous souls have contibuted entries to the Jakartass Poetry Competition, neither of which are eligible for the honorary laureateship. Not because the verses are crap, you understand, but because, as contributor Aangirfan says, his poem works better in London than it does in Jakarta. It is also difficult to translate into Indonesian.

And that of 'Tongue in Cheek' presumably works better in Warrington or Wolverhampton.

The key to my contest is Indonesia, preferably about personalities. And written in English.

Please don't submit anything about golden sunsets, waving palm fronds and Indonesian smiles, which I've got nothing against, but I would have thought that postcards would suit such lines better than my blog.

What I'm seeking is pacy and possibly controversial, like these lines from Coming To Jakarta: A Poem About Terror by Peter Dale Scott.

A society which
declassifies its documents
after it is too late
to make any difference
will publish anything.

There are poets in Indonesia although the 'old guard', such as W.S. Rendra, Emha and singer Iwan Fals, have lost their impact since reformasi. Perhaps they really are like an old pillow - nostalgic and comfortable yes, useful and relevant no.

It would seem that rap and hip-hop is the new Beat generation here.

Rap's intimate connection with social critique continues to make it attractive to other 'underground' music groups. For instance, one of the most politically passionate rap songs of recent years, Sisi Gelap (Dark Side), was created by the now disbanded Yogyakarta Techno group, Teknoshit, on their self-titled album of 2003.

Dark Side, Teknoshit warns that the poor and marginalised of society will one day explode in anger and rise up to fight against those who oppress and mock them. They urge those who care about social justice to speak out and struggle for change:

Even human rights will end up trashed and thrown away
If we just stay quiet and dream of a better day
Nothing here will ever be solved
To be a true member of humanity
Requires a conscience free of vanity
For those who speak, for those who believe
It's not something that mere words can relieve
They'll never keep quiet, they'll keep up the fight.

Sounds like a ready made charter for Jakartass.

I still prefer jazz though.

Going, flowing

Boing, boing


5:00 pm |
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
  Poetic Justice

In a week when we hear tell of three members of the Supreme Audit Agency being suspended for receiving bribes from the General Elections Commission who also paid kickbacks to top Ministry of Finance officials, and of massive corruption of Aceh relief funds in the House of Representatives, Jakartass is pleased to organise a Poetry Competition.

The topic is, what else, Corruption.

I am led to do this because apparently George Bush Jr. is about to publish a slim volume of his verse.

The poems reveal a sensitive, literate side of the Commander-in-Chief not usually shown to the public.

This is his It's Tough Being the Most Powerful Man Who Ever Lived

Dick and Don and Condi Rice
And sometimes a throw of dice.
Having so much help at hand certainly is nice.
Mom and Dad and mostly God,
If I ever had to think things out myself it would certainly feel odd.

I do detect a certain je ne sais quoi about his oeuvre.

Thinking of powerful men ~ ignoring Jakartass for the moment ~ leads me to Tony Blair who is now immortalised in a children's nursery rhyme, a medium which has long supplied a sometimes coded oral history of key royal and political events.

The rhyme, which could make less politically-minded parents long for the simple innocence of Mary and her little lamb, is an earnest ditty intended to educate youngsters on the government's decision to take Britain to war in Iraq.

Baker Tony's Pizza

Baker Tony baked a pizza
very round and thin.
He said he added olives
but he never put them in.
The stuff that he had grated
and sprinkled on to please
was only yellow sawdust
although he called it cheese.
The rich tomato topping
was nothing more than dye
so Baker Tony's pizza
made all the children cry.

By Angela Martin, aged 57½

Entries to the Jakartass Poetry Competition can be made in the comments or by email.

Prizes will be considered, although prestige through publication on this blog should be enough.

Here's a few lines to get you started.

SBY is a good guy
Who rarely makes me cry ......

Tut tut Suharto, goodbye .....

Sutiyoso is a bozo ....



6:00 pm |
Monday, September 19, 2005
  I Don't Like Zoos

I never have, so I am somewhat ambivalent about the news that Ragunan Zoo here in Jakarta is closed today and will be for the next three weeks.

I like to read the Jakarta Post over my (early) morning cup of Lampung coffee, so I was aware that 19 birds there show symptoms of Asian bird flu. I reflected on this as I walked through the kampung along the footpath above the river Ciliwung on my way to find a taxi. I walked past a couple of handmade cages containing what appeared, to my non-ornithologically trained eyes, to be thrushes.

They hopped between the twigs therein. I strolled on and pondered their fate. Much like that of their keepers, I supposed - inadequately housed.

I made the mistake once of going to Ragunan Zoo on a Saturday. My fellow visitors weren't there for education; weekends are for entertainment.

The whispered cries of bule (whitey) and upfront accostings: "Hello, mister. Dari mana?" (Hello, mister. Where are you from?)

I know what it's like to be an exhibit and I don't like it.

There are birds in the sky of Jakarta ~ burung gereja (sparrows) and burung dara (pigeons) - usually in pairs with whistles affixed to their wings so their 'owner' can track them. Some summery evenings migratory swallows swoop overhead. These rare sightings always remind me that Jakarta is far from being a nature lover's paradise.

Asian bird flu is, if I've absorbed and understood its genesis correctly, basically a man-made plague. It started in factory farms and then mutated and migrated into populations of wild flocks.

We tinker with nature at the cost of innocent lives.

Like the 19 birds in Ragunan Zoo.



6:00 pm |
Sunday, September 18, 2005
  A Comic Strip

A nice idea and a change from flikr photos ~ an ongoing comic strip.

Rock and Jester

It's not so funny for these folk, foreigners and Papuans alike, jailed in Bali and elsewhere. Spare a particular thought and maybe support Rogerio Paez.

Another view of Bali is given in this travelblogue by some intrepid folk exploring Indonesia by kayak and bike. In fact, this is but one section of a journey around the world using only human power. Over two thirds of the journey - 25,000 miles - has so far been completed by Englishman Jason Lewis.

Read all about it here. Of special interest to local teachers and classes is that there are projects to get involved in. Given the insularity of the local population ~ it's been suggested to me that England is near Alaska and few can point to Thailand on a world map, as Enda in Bangkok probably knows ~ this is a wonderful opportunity to broaden horizons.

All good things must come to an end.

Yep, that's the last bottle of real ale brought out from Blighty by Son no.1 gone as I watched the match last night.

And so Charlton's perfect start to the season was shattered at The Valley on Saturday as Chelsea emerged with the spoils from the SE7 summit meeting.

There is certainly no disgrace in losing to a side as talented as Jose Mourinho's and the way they efficiently went about their business was mightily impressive.

Ho hum.

But some things hopefully get better. Following the dog in the manger attitude of EasySpace, who refused to allow us to re-register our domain name for less than £100, yet refused to answer our emails, we were pleased to find DreamHost.

For $99.98 we now have a slightly different domain name, hosting of main site plus sub-domains, up to 600 email addresses and direct correspondence with the people who manage the company. And all this for the next two years.

They also offer Wordpress as part of the package so, if I can get to grips with it, Jakartass may be moving.

But don't hold your breath.



10:01 am |
Saturday, September 17, 2005
  O Ye of little faith

No, this isn't a sermon opening, although for some my topic is about an all-consuming passion, the stuff of life.

I'm referring, of course, to tonight's match between Chelsea and Charlton. Biblical comparisons can be made, however. I'm referring to David and Goliath or the miracle of the Five Loaves and Two Fishes, which in the case of Charlton is actually only one Fish as the other isn't in the squad anymore.

By now, it's common knowledge that compared to Chelsea, Charlton are small fry with a squad that, at £14.5 million have been assembled at a mere 10th of Chelsea's.

It's inevitable, it seems, that soothsayers belittle the Addicks. Some say that the title race is already over as Chelsea are currently where they were at the end of last season, sitting at the top.

Played five, won five. Goals for, 10. Goals against, nil. Clouds on horizon, also nil. And what it feels like is this: for the first time since the championship came into existence, the title race is over before the leaves have turned brown.

Charlton, take note, are currently second in the table (played four, won four; goals for - 8, goals against - 1) and also with maximum points from a game fewer, (so) the hard-working Charlton players probably stand as good a chance as any of causing the sort of upset produced only once last year, when Manchester City prevented Chelsea from emulating Arsenal's unbeaten season in the league. But to take the bet, you would need to have money to burn.

Well, that's patronising, isn't it? Just because "history suggests" we should enjoy our lofty status while we can, doesn't mean that a precedent has been set. As an eternal optimist and unashamed idealist, I have never believed that 'nice guys come last'.

Statistics can also lie!

Warwick University's Decision Technology Group gives a 47% chance of a Chelsea win at The Valley today with a less than one in four chance of a Charlton victory.

What is undeniable is that everyone, except for Chelsea staff and supporters, want the Addicks to win.

This afternoon's game has come to represent more than mere points: a home victory would not merely take Charlton to the top of the Premiership, but would lift football's hearts.

We have a steely-hearted defence, the current top scorer in the Premiership ~ step forward Darren Bent ~ and some of the best fans in England (and Indonesia). Valley Floyd James is predicting a 2-1 victory and Zebulebu forecasts "an entertaining 1-1 draw".

Me? I'll settle for an entertaining match on TV7 at 9pm, local time, as advertised. And if, as seems to be the norm, we have a dumb-shit kung fu slam fest instead, expect me down the Blok in front of a big screen.



6:00 pm |
Friday, September 16, 2005
  Glass Houses

The only surprise in the news that "Britain's biggest arms firm, BAE Systems, has been identified on US banking records as secretly paying more than £1m to General Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator" is that it was only £1m.

After all, BAE paid Suharto's daughter, Tutut, a lot more ~ £16.5m. They are also accused of running a £60m slush fund to pay members of the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, friends of the Bush/Cheney oligarchy.

That these payments were authorised by the British government is well documented so I can't be too sanctimonious about the endemic corruption here, (there and everywhere).

Of course, all this is connected to the lucrative arms trade. Fellow Londoners should be aware that there is an International Arms Fair currently being held in the Docklands. Amonst the items advertised for sale are "leg irons, stun guns, and stun batons - banned for export under British law" (but OK for Indonesia!).

The leg irons are of "all-steel construction", with a "rust-resistant nickel finish" and "sturdy, loadable, foot chain".

Isn't it nice that both ex-dictators can feel the benefits?

Pinochet in leg irons

Suharto immobilised


3:00 pm |
Thursday, September 15, 2005
  I'm not a cynic!

Well, not often. Whatever, I've just discovered a blogger similarly struggling with the perceived inanities of life in Indonesia.

Indonesia Now, contains articles written by Duncan Graham, a resident of Surabaya in East Java, and published in the Jakarta Post. Nothing has been posted since August 23rd but I hope he is still around because there aren't enough of us "improving inter-cultural relationships".

This is a sample of his writing.


This is going to be a high octane complaint about airports and airlines. But because I'm an expert don't send me your troubles; I've got enough thanks. Just fasten your seatbelt and put the tray table uptight; sorry, upright. And don't bother corresponding with the airlines; did you think the Lost Property Office is for baggage?

Better rant at the cardboard cutouts of smiling staff which clutter the check-in aisles. Now that could be really effective.

Top of my list is the bouncy M'bak Mandala who sold me a ticket to Manado, gave a receipt and then said the plane had been cancelled. The obvious question was: "Then why did you just issue the ticket?" Lots of laughter. The joke was like the flight: I didn't get either.

Actually she failed Airline Standard UP/U. This requires passengers to be given notice of cancellation after they've arrived at the airport. Well-qualified staff (Star Air used to be tops) put your baggage on the conveyor belt and wait till it has vanished behind the frilly plastic curtain before announcing there's no plane.

There's no value in asking: "Why didn't you call me before I checked out of the hotel and took a two-hour cab drive through the Valley of Death? You've got my HP number." At this point the giggle-meter goes off the scale. Stupid questions must come from a stupid questioner.

They're right - the problem is the passenger. The sacred airline credo reads in letters of burnished aluminium: 'The customer is an idiot.' Staff recite this awesome oath daily to keep their jobs.

Are those warnings about not using mobile phones serious? I quit complaining on a Lion Air flight when the attendant ignored three users (including a bule) sitting close by her safety-feature presentation: "Use of mobile phones and other electronic devices is strictly prohibited." That's what she probably said. Who knows? Her voice was drowned out by ring tones - Greensleeves, the 1812 Overture and a few bars of Air Supply.

Maybe such instructions are just to pass the time while they look for a pilot who remembers how the thing works because the right captain is still sitting in the wrong departure lounge. How can little Nokias upset the navigation systems of big Boeings? The idea is ridiculous. Who cares whether the cockpit dials say we're descending into Sukarno-Hatta when we're really circling Mt Bromo? Stop worrying. No-one has ever got out of this life alive.
© Duncan Graham 2005

If you think Duncan is less than serious, then please note the following news item in yesterday's Jakarta Post.

Wings Air passengers were baffled on Monday when the aircraft that took them from Jakarta landed in a deserted airport after the cabin crew announced they were arriving in Padang, West Sumatra, just on schedule.

Although the recent air disaster that killed 150 people in the neighboring Medan was still on the mind of the 130 passengers, they did not panic because the MD-82 aircraft touched down perfectly.

Still, they were confused when informed they had just landed on the wrong airport, Tabing Airport, which was closed on July 21, following the opening of the new Minangkabau International Airport elsewhere in Padang outskirts.

The aircraft soon took off again with the cabin crew assuring everybody on board that nothing was to worry about the aircraft.

A passenger, Syahrial, said he heard the pilot tell the air traffic control tower of the Minangkabau airport that the runway was in perfect view and ready to touch down. And the tower controller told the pilot to go ahead.

A Minangkabau Airport spokesman Youhanes Gaffar said the incident happened because of bad weather and disruption of the aircraft's navigational system.

"Apparently a passenger used his or her mobile phone when the aircraft was ready to land."

Nuff said?



3:00 pm |
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
  As I was about to say ...

A couple of days ago I thought of mentioning that there was to be a follow up to the Indonesia Infrastructure 2005 extravaganza, held in January this year, on 14 - 16 November. I knew this because there was a quarter-page ad in the Jakarta Post.

I was a bit bemused by the ad as it seemed to be a repeat of the one used for the original conference, headed as it was by 'Indonesia Infrastructure 2005', with appropriate blurb.

"Through this Exhibition our State Owned Enterprises, Local Governments both at Provincial and District levels, will demonstrate the full scope of their national and regional priority developments to potential investors and partners attending the Summit. Furthermore, we are pleased to invite all private sector enterprises waiting to participate in our government's projects to join our exhibition, present and promote how they believe they can contribute and sustaining our ambitions in infrastructure development."
H.E.Aburizal Bakrie
Minister Coordinating for Economic Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia

The main reason I didn't post this a couple of days ago was that the website given at the bottom of the ad ~ www.iisummit2005.com ~ is indeed solely concerned with the earlier trough of plenty.

Well, lo and behold, in today's Post there is another ad with the same format and blurb but modified.

This tells us that Indonesia Infrastructure 2006 will be held, not in November, but from 9 - 11 February 2006. The reasons why can be seen in the official website which, as in all official Indonesian websites, is riddled with Flash graphics.

Anyway, if you're interested, have a butchers at it and get ready for the next carve up.



4:00 pm |
Monday, September 12, 2005
  Freedom to blog

This is my 500th day of blogging.

I've had a few days off and occasionally lost momentum, but hey, I never promised anybody anything. I was inspired to start Jakartass by reading the blog of Inspector Sands, a fellow Charlton supporter. He led me to the Guv'nor, the Diamond Geezer, chronicler of all things London who has now been blogging for three very consistent years and 250,000 visits ~ 'only' ten times as many as Jakartass, but who's counting?

I may not have as much to say as him, but, goddamit, I'll keep on trying. You see, blogging isn't, for me, a matter of how I kissed the cat and smacked the girlfriend, in between screeds of shopping expeditions completed.

For me, it's a matter of democracy, of giving vent to thoughts which might otherwise remain bottled up. I write about perceived insanities and inanities, about how Planet Earth is being raped by greedy bastards who don't understand that you can't take it with you. As a parent, I'm concerned that my two sons will inherit an environment which will not sustain their children and their children's children.

I'm concerned that there are those without a voice who need help. Blogging is a tool for the voiceless, of which there are countless millions. I am proud to be a member of a classless society dedicated to exposing lies and cover ups, to widening perceptions in a narrowing, increasingly homogenous world.

In an era whose triumphant idea is capitalism, where success is generally measured in the accumulation of wealth, it is hard to conceive of a parallel society established and self-governed on principles of trust and common ownership. But it exists. The biggest aggregation of human experience and knowledge ever created belongs to everyone, it is available on demand and it is free.

But for how long? Ranged against the new culture of digital freedom is a strange coalition of spooks, suits and vandals. There are governments unable to resist the technology that can track our every move; there are corporations lusting after the attention of the 2 billion eyeballs focused on screens; and there are the spammers, clogging up the net with junk mail, hijacking computers to peddle trash.

Ours is the last generation that will remember the analogue world and feel the difference between the two realms. For the next generation of digital natives, the web will be a slick, commercial machine. It will be just as big as the world we currently live in and it will be just as ruthless and as corrupt.

I hope not.

I will continue to rail against corruption in all its forms. Seeking personal gain at the expense of others in any form is, for Jakartass, morally repugnant.

That is why I also urge you to support the investigation into the truth about the assassination of Munir. There is a website headed Seeking Truth and Justice dedicated to the case. Bookmark it.

And keep watching this hyperspace.



6:00 pm |
Sunday, September 11, 2005
  Are you obese?

Adipose? Corpulent? Fat? Fleshy? Gross? Heavy? Outsize? Overweight? Paunchy? Plump? Porcine? Portly? Pudgy? Roly-poly? Rotund? Stout? Tubby? Weight-challenged? Well-upholstered?

Are you a baby elephant, a blimp, a butterball, a fatso, a hippo or a whale?

Then help is at hand.

Actually, it's on foot.

It's a shoe, it's in grey, it's the famed MBT. Last seen fighting lower body bulge alongside the world's greatest adipose antagonist, Poetic Cosmetics Fatgirlslim, in a neighborhood near you.

No matter how often you forgo the fettuccine, exercise in earnest, swear off sugar or otherwise 'deprive', your cellulite can stick. The telltale unsightly lumps and bumps plague plus-sized soccer moms and bantamweight supermodels alike.

The only proven methods of cellulite reduction require increased circulation to the affected areas. The MBT sneaker engages your entire body and helps direct blood flow to your distressed legs and bum. Slip some on, and make your anti-cellulite crusade almost automatic.

$259 (à la carte $270)

Jakartass, of course, isn't American, doesn't scoff fast foods or drink lotsa soda. But if I were overweight (like George Bush), I think I'd prefer to help Roger Pertwee, a neuropharmacologist at Aberdeen University.

He said on Tuesday, "We've discovered to our surprise that cannabis, as well as containing a drug that boosts appetite ~ a condition known as the 'munchies', contains a drug which has a blocking effect.

"The work so far has been working with tissue and we've yet to see what this drug does when we give it to humans."

God and Jakartass share a spliff.

Thinking of whales
For 15 years, novelist John David Morley dreamed of visiting Lamalera, a remote Indonesian village. He was fascinated by the fishermen who hunted the ocean's most majestic creatures armed with just a harpoon and their courage. But when he finally joined them on their perilous quest, it was an adventure that would test him to his limits.

Thinking of Wales (and Northern Ireland): Players oozing commitment, playing to their system and responding intelligently to tactical changes: what more could England want?

This, of course, refers to Charlton's 100% perfect start to the season.

There'll be no wailing from me this week.

Or fishing.


11:00 pm |
Saturday, September 10, 2005
  Jakarta? Been there!

The Guardian has launched a new service ~ Been There, full of handy tips for visitors to all kinds of places worldwide. Jakarta already has loads, mainly contributed by John Aglionby, their correspondent here, but with one, so far, by yours truly.

"Unity in diversity," Indonesia's national motto (the capital is a microcosm of the country's 17,500 islands and 300 ethnic groups).

For many visitors Jakarta is at best a cesspit of life. But once one gets behind the facade of a riot-ravaged, wannabe modern metropolis that isn't quite likely to make it anytime soon, Indonesia's capital quickly gets under one's skin in a hard-to-explain sort of way.

It will never be the most charming unplanned urban sprawl the developing world has to offer and, yes, the traffic's a nightmare, yes, there are pollution problems and, yes, it's hard to walk anywhere considering the stifling humidity and lack of pavements. But the friendly faces, ubiquitous fatalistic attitude and sense of mystery that pervades the place from decades of political and social upheaval leave an indelible mark on anyone who ventures beyond their air-conditioned car and hotel.

Jakarta has all one would expect an Asian capital city to have - stunning, but poorly labelled artefacts in a crumbling national museum, a colonial era presidential palace, houses of worship that leave one thinking what might have been, if only ...

But to find Jakarta's soul one has to interact with the people; explore the pre-dawn Kebayoran Lama vegetable market, the bustle of Glodok's spittle-stained streets, the more refined serenity of Kemang's galleries and antique shops or the textile stalls of Pasar Baru. And then go to the wacky Indonesia in Miniature park to get a feel of the rest of the sprawling archipelago.

Two tips: don't ever be in a hurry - Indonesia is the nation that invented rubber time, and never ask a yes-no question because the answer's always "Yes Mister", even for women.

This introduction echoes the comments made about Culture Shock - Jakarta, written by my good friend Derek Bacon.

A humorous, jaded guide to living intelligently in Jakarta with an emphasis on practical issues from finding good food to avoiding social faux pas but also offering a succinct history and exploration of social and cultural issues. All-around excellent for any kind of traveler.



2:00 am |
Friday, September 09, 2005
  Friday follow up

Firstly, let me be the umpteenth to wish SBY a happy 56th birthday today.

Right. That's the pleasanteries done with; now for the serious stuff.

Indcoup commenting on my post yesterday: Interesting is the reason why they had him killed. Apparently, Munir was encroaching too much on Hendropriyono's business activities in Papua (illegal logging!).

Of course, I can't find any info online about H's extra-curricular activities, but this c.v. from his spell in Megawati's Cabinet, when, incidentally, SBY was Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs, does show qualifications, experience and, therefore, opportunity. In other words, this is circumstantial evidence.

Still .....

Head of State Intelligence Service/KaBIN

Lt. Gen. (ret) AM. Hendropriyono

Place and Date of Birth: Yogyakarta, 7 May 1945

  1. Master of Social Politics / Drs. Master of Law / SH, Master of Economics / Drs. and MBA
  2. National Military Academy (1964-1967)
  3. Joined the School of Army Military Command at the Fort Leavenworth, Missouri, (1981)
  4. High School of State Knowledge Administration (STIA-LAN)
  5. MBA from the University of the Philippines, Manila (1994)
  6. Master of Law from Military School of Law (1994)
  1. Secretary, Control Operation Development
  2. Minister of Transmigration and Forestry (under Habibie's government)
  3. Commandant, Korem Garuda Hitam Lampung in the GPK Warsidi's Accident (sic) *
  4. Chief, Bakorstanasda
  5. Commander, Jaya Command
Note that he was Minister of Forestry in the short-lived Habibie administration shortly after Suharto's abdication.

Also, he was a high ranking member of the military forces which kidnapped activists, organised militia groups and generally caused mayhem and paranoia in the dark days of the nineties.

That he has stymied the investigation into Munir's assassination has been well-documented.

Please note that it is not the intention of Jakartass to cast aspersions. Others have done that for all of us. Such cases are invariably difficult to prove, or disprove, without a full disclosure in a court of law.

This is, of course, unlikely to happen in Indonesia.


* GPK 'Warsidi' Incident
fr. Amnesty International Report 1.9.94
Power and Impunity, Human Rights under the New Order

There is substantial evidence that the government, through its military intelligence agencies, has encouraged some Islamic groups to use violence. The purpose appears to have been to provide a pretext for widespread crack-downs against Muslim activists and to undermine lawful Muslim organizations, such as the PPP, the lawful Islamic party. Hundreds of people have been jailed since the late 1970s on the pretext that they were involved with these militant organizations. The detainees have included preachers, pamphleteers, Mosque officials and scholars.

One of the most significant series of Muslim trials began in 1985, a year after soldiers had massacred scores of protesters in Tanjung Priok, Jakarta. Once again there was evidence of military provocation, and again the violence was used to justify widespread arrests and prosecutions. Around half of the 200 people arrested in connection with the protest were subsequently brought to trial. Some were accused of acts of violence, but scores were sentenced to years in jail because of their peaceful beliefs. Several prominent opposition figures, including three members of the 'Petition of Fifty' group, were also jailed after criticizing the government?s handling of the affair and calling for an independent inquiry.

The next major series of trials began in 1986 and continued until 1989. The defendants were members of small Islamic communities, known as usroh and based in Central Java, which aimed to spread Islamic teachings and values. At least 40 usroh members were convicted of subversion, for allegedly seeking to establish an Islamic state and undermine Pancasila. Little or no evidence was presented to substantiate these allegations.

In early 1989 the spotlight shifted from the usroh groups after government troops attacked an alleged militant Islamic sect in Lampung, known by the name of its leader, Warsidi. In the aftermath of the assault, which may have left as many as 100 people dead, the government began a widespread crack-down against Muslims believed to be linked with the 'Warsidi Gang'. Scores of Muslim activists were arrested in subsequent months in Lampung, Nusa Tenggara Barat, West Java and Jakarta. Most were tried for subversion in 1989 and 1990. All were found guilty and sentenced to terms of up to life imprisonment.



6:00 pm |
Thursday, September 08, 2005
  A Year Later

Last September was a fairly tumultuous month here in Jakarta.

For a start, but in no particular chronological order, SBY was elected President in the first direct election by the people. There was also the bombing of the Australian Embassy, the deportation of Sidney Jones, the southeast Asia director of the International Crisis Group (ICG), and the murder of Munir, "one of the country's boldest and most consistent defenders of human rights".

In fact, it was a year ago today that Munir was assassinated, by arsenic poisoning, on a flight to Holland. What was immediately clear, and remains clear, was that the sinister forces of Suharto's 'New Order' were behind this tragic loss. Whoever was voted for, the government remained the same.

There is a trial taking place at the moment of Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto for the murder. He has been described as "suspiciously friendly" by Munir's widow, Suciwati.

But it is clear that he did not work alone.

The persons more dangerous than the man who "pulled the trigger" are the ones who ordered and planned the assassination.

Murder mysteries can be difficult to investigate. We understand that about homicide investigations, especially those that are politically motivated. But what is most upsetting is the way many institutions have showed an utter disrespect for the investigation, despite a direct presidential decree instructing all state institutions to fully cooperate with the investigators.

To this day, there remains limited followup on the government-sanctioned fact finding team's report, which revealed a highly suspicious link between Pollycarpus and the state intelligence agency (BIN).

Yes, SBY has spoken quite clearly.yet his instructions seem to have been ignored, with impunity, as stated by the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).

"Munir?s murder represents a return to the bad old days in Indonesia when independent activists faced the risk of personal injury or even death," said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch. "Solving this case and bringing the killers and their sponsors to justice is a big test for President Yudhoyono's government and its commitment to the rule of law."

Human Rights Watch called on Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to set up a high-level committee to audit the performance of the police investigation into Munir?s killing and establish why key recommendations and findings of the Presidential Fact-Finding Team have apparently been ignored. The Indonesian police and attorney general's office continue to ignore evidence and recommendations submitted to them by a Presidential Fact Finding Team, which has implicated senior intelligence officers in involvement in the murder.

Further, "The Indonesian authorities must aggressively investigate threats against those seeking justice in Munir?s case to ensure that witnesses can come forward," said Adams.

Human Rights Watch called on state prosecutors to drop a criminal defamation investigation against two prominent human rights activists who are members of the fact-finding team. General Hendropriyono, the former head of Indonesia's State Intelligence Body (Badan Intelijen Negara, or BIN), filed charges against Usman Hamid of Kontras (Indonesia's Commission for the Missing and Disappeared) and Rachland Nashidik of Imparsial. Both Kontras and Imparsial are human rights group with which Munir was associated.

"Criminal law should never be used against peaceful expression," said Adams. "The cases against Usman Hamid and Rachland Nashidik are thinly veiled attempts to shut down the investigation into Munir?s murder."

Intimidation? Such as is continuing in Papua where boys and girls are shot, knifed, kicked and beaten by gun butts, iron bars, wooden batons, fists, rubber hoses and chairs. Some are forced to chew and swallow condoms.

Eyewitnesses describe gang rapes in police stations, vehicles, barracks and other locations. Children are also routinely detained with adults in sordid police lockups and denied medical care.

Oh dear. If Munir were alive, he would certainly be taking the situation in Papua on board.

Someone who can and might, however, is the recently returned Sydney Jones. After more than a year of living in "exile" in Singapore, following her deportation from Indonesia by the administration of president Megawati Soekarnoputri, she has made a "stealthy" return to Indonesia and, indeed, been welcomed personally by SBY.

This suggests that his heart is in the right place, but his hands are still tied by the powers-that-continue-to-be.

He must demonstrate his authority. Everybody is aware that the State Intelligence Body bears some if not all the responsibilty for Munir's death. It says so in the report of the Presidential Fact Finding Team, a report that has yet to be released three month's after the team's mandate ended.

The world is watching you SBY. Release the report and damn the consequences. It is what your electorate wants and would be a fine legacy for Munir and all who continue to struggle for a life free from intimidation.



3:30 pm |
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