Green can mean naive or credulous and the reason for asking myself this question is that I've been unable to confirm last night's post. Even though the news emanated, via email, from eminently respectable authorities such as WWF and the Rain Forest Portal, I can find nothing to confirm what is surely of major importance, Could it be that I only want to know about events I have lobbied for or agree with?
That the world's mass media has not picked up on the news is surprising and all I can find on the WWF site is a week old press release praising a surprise decision by the government of the Malaysian state of Sabah to protect its most important remaining lowland forests on the island of Borneo.
That is just a state rather than one of the three countries supposedly working together.
What I have found could in fact give the lie to the notion of not destroying that vast swathe of Kalimantan (which, subliminally, I've just typed as Kallamantan).
Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to form a strategic alliance to produce, market and export crude palm oil (CPO), with business players assuming the collaborative effort as an attempt to form a cartel and thereby control the price of the commodity on the international market.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who is on a visit to Malaysia, and Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib bin Abdul Razak mapped out the shape of the collaborative venture during a closed-doors meeting on Wednesday.
"We have agreed to boost the production and marketing of CPO by forming a strategic alliance. Malaysia has the capital and technical management skills while Indonesia has abundant land and labor," said Najib during a press conference.
At another meeting with Kalla, Malaysian businesspeople conveyed concerns about problems they encountered in the plantation sector, including extortion of money from plantation investors by local communities, which often led to a halt in operation.
"The local community needs to cooperate with investors. Most of them often disturb our operations in exchange for some amount of money," said Abdul Wahab Maskan, chief executive officer for Malaysian plantation giant Guthrie Group.
Maskan also emphasized the need for the Indonesian government to extend plantation concessions to encourage more Malaysian investors.
Thanks to his family connections, we can asume Kalla will sort these problems out.
With the creation of the alliance, Indonesia and Malaysia should be able to boost their bargaining power in setting CPO prices and in controlling output so as to maintain higher prices.
"This alliance could be categorized as a cartel as it will include the control of prices. The two countries can do that as they account most of the world's CPO production," Halim Kalla, chairman for the Malaysian business department at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), told The Jakarta Post.
Halim, who is the younger brother of Vice President Kalla and a top executive at the family-owned Hadji Kalla Group, said Kadin would help Malaysian investors seeking plantation land and business partners for developing CPO plantations in Indonesia.
The partnership between Malaysia and Indonesia is nicely symbiotic as, according to Rabobank in Singapore more Malaysian plantation firms, unable to find opportunities to expand at home, are putting their money in Indonesia which is aggressively pushing palm oil production to use its vast tracks (sic) of unused land.
Vast tracts of unused land? Is this the virgin forest which the Rainforest Portal and WWF think has been saved or could it be all those hectares deforested to feed the world's hunger for wood?
In 2004 Britain was Indonesia's largest trading partner in Europe for timber products, importing about $145-million worth of timber products, Greenpeace said in a statement.
"Prime Minister Blair and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will talk about security threats, but they should not forget that one of the most serious threats to Indonesia is the destruction of our forests from which up to 50-million Indonesians rely for food and livelihood," forestry campaigner Hapsoro said.
The governments of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei have announced plans to protect the "Heart of Borneo" - establishing a massive trans-boundary protected area.
The initiative will preserve rather than develop for oil palm plantations one of the most important centers of biological diversity in the world, including approximately 220,000km2 of equatorial forests and numerous wildlife species. The Heart of Borneo harbors up to six percent of the world's total biodiversity.
Date: March 28, 2006 The "Heart of Borneo" conservation initiative was officially launched today with the three Bornean governments - Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia - declaring their commitment to support it. The tri-country initiative aims to preserve one of the most important centres of biological diversity in the world, including approximately 220,000km2 of equatorial forests and numerous wildlife species.
"Today's announcement by the three governments shows vision and leadership," said James Leape, WWF International's Director General. "Three countries sharing one conservation vision gives hope to one of the most important areas for biodiversity in the world."
This is the time for a hangover which, by rights, I should have. But don't. The quiz didn't happen because there were few expat blokes about last night, it being the start of a long weekend. Jakartass spent much of the evening with the Reveller who will, no doubt, dwell on the few events of the evening in his next dispatch.
I left him after a while to visit my favourite haunt, D's Place, where I was pleased to meet several long-term friends. This town can be strange for those of us who become home bodies. We don't exactly lose touch because there is a strong gossip grapevine. It's just that after we get past the Hey, long time, no see opening gambit we may well realise that it's not just months but, in the case of a friend and ex-colleague I met last night, several years.
The evening had started early with a haircut. Yep, I was re-introduced, by a colleague, to the delights of the barbershop: Pax Wijaya has proper adjustable chairs, towels tucked into collars, electric and cut-throat razors, and a crew of thoroughly professional gentlemen. Mine left me feeling less violated than usual, which is 'Er Indoors nagging me in to the alright, anything for a bit of peace torture of awaiting the ouch, you nicked a piece out of my ear, again moment.
After and as it was still early, we strolled through the leafy suburbs of Kebayoran Baru, wondering why, as usual, it was impossible to use the pavements (sidewalks to Carl and my other American readers). Eventually we reached the Pasaraya Big and Beautiful in Blok M and made our way down to the basement which is a massive food court selling everything that an Asian food court sells, including beer.
And so a small group of us settled down to some gossip and catching up on our respective ailments. This is, incidentally, a fairly regular post office hours gathering. Just look for us by the kiosk selling Chinese cuisine including Pecking Duck (sic).
An interesting anecdote was told of Jim Bob Moffett by a friend who had spent a couple of years at the Freeport site teaching English, possibly to the American and Indonesian staff alike.
Apparently Jim Bob was fond of jetting in by his private Boeing and heading down to the Barracks bar for the local staff where he would go through his Elvis impersonation routine. We weren't told if anyone actually applauded his antics.
If he still condescends to his staff like this, then he's either a fool or the malignant force, he is generally portrayed as in the media. Certainly he's used to confrontation, having had to deal with vociferous environmental and social activists who in years past have carried picket signs proclaiming JIM-BOB MOFFETT KILLS FOR PROFIT.
Talk turned to the current visit of Tony Blair and his real purpose in being here. Surely it's not, as stated, because he has an interest in discussing the matter of the development of Islam in Indonesia and besides that, he is also interested in understanding Islam more.
Which version of Islam do we have here, Tone, which you don't have back in the UK?
However, as an article in yesterday's Jakarta Post pointed out, Tony will not be Prime Minister for much longer.
When he met with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday, the President may have whispered to Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda, "Do you know how long this gentleman (the PM) can maintain power?"
The President needed to know that beforehand, because it would be disastrous if he made any major agreements with Blair only to find out later the agreements were soon to be annulled by the Prime Minister's successor.
Tony's wife, Cherie, had her own agenda. How that worked would be interesting to know. Apparently, she wanted to meet 20 representatives of women's groups. The British Council couldn't find that many.
Thinking of Blighty, I've just been informed by the Jakarta Embassy of a new comprehensive document from our Consular Department in London outlining what can and what can't been done by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for British Nationals abroad. It states that the document is printed on recycled paper containing a minimum of 75% post consumer waste and 25% ECF pulp, whatever that is.
That it's actually a .pdf file composed of hyperspace bytes is, I suppose, beside the point, especially as even the FCO doubts its value.
Neither the Government nor the relevant British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate can make any guarantee in relation to the professional ability or character of any person or company on the list, nor can they be held responsible in any way for you relying on any advice you are given.
Our man in Jakarta before the current one was Richard Gozney who was highly respected by all and sundry here. The word since he left has been that he had fallen from grace due to the slow response from Her Majesty's representatives after the first Bali bombings in October 2001.
I assume that this piece of gossip is untrue as he is currently the British High Commissioner in "the new Nigeria: democratic, undergoing reforms in order to raise living standards, and playing a leading role in the continent."
However, with the downsizing of the British Council here and the inability of the British Embassy to update their website, Tony Teflon is going to have to be some kind of magician to get anything useful from his stay in a very quiet Jakarta - today is a public holiday, Hari Nyepi - the Day of Silence for Balinese Hindus.
The above was going to be it until I clicked on the ever-interesting and eclectic J-Walk Blog.
The following two items are too good to leave to his much wider readership.
Firstly, since I gave up the evil weed, tobacco, it's been virtually non-stop coughing, spluttering and sniffing. As my lungs are emptied of their gunge I get the feeling that I'm losing my immunity to all the airborne pollution and viruses.
That's why I was particularly pleased to see this new invention, the NosePouchTM. A new generation of handerkerchief which will contain my excessive nasal discharge is just what I've been looking for.
Now onto more stupidity decreed in the name of religion. I'm sure that I won't be accused of being anti-semitic with this story. It's just that I like to be even-handed when someone decrees that they are holier than everyone else.
In a tough break for the children of Orthodox Jewish families, a former grand rabbi of Israel has urged parents to amputate their dolls to avoid the perils of idolatry.
Basing the move on a Biblical ban on the possession of idols, Mordechai Eliyahu, a Sephardic rabbi, broadcast his edict on a religious radio station calling for an arm or a leg to be dismembered.
In the case of a teddy bear or other stuffed animals, the children will see their beloved toys lose an ear or an eye instead. "It is very important that these toys do not remain intact so as to remove the element of idolatry," said Eliyahu. His son, Shmuel Eliyahu, himself a rabbi in the northern town of Safed, said that it was inappropriate to own statues or dolls, even to play with or for artistic purposes.
"They need to be amputated or at least altered," he said.
Shmuel revealed that his father had forced one of his followers to snap off the ear of a replica of a statue of Moses by Michelangelo that he had bought at an exorbitant price.
And that's all I'm going to say about Charlton who are finally getting back their early season form, even though most newspapers say that Newcastle were crap.
Which they were, but only because Charlton are playing really attractive, yet gutsy, attacking football - that's 'soccer' to you Carl and my other Stateside friends.
And now for the serious stuff which has been relegated to the inside pages of the Jakarta Post today and is not seemingly online.
On page 5 there is quite a large photo purporting to show Aceh Police Chief Insp. Gen. Bahrumsyah Kasman as he lights up 4.5 tons of marijuana outside Bireun police headquarters on Saturday. The plants were confiscated from 108 hectares of plantation during (a) 40-day anti-drug operation.
The scene is captured by loads of, presumably, reporters and photographers with a few other police officers strolling around. Insp. Gen. Kasman is the only person wearing a paper mask over his nose and mouth. He is standing downwind, as is everyone else.
Looking at the photo taken in Aceh, I could ask, as several colleagues did, why we hadn't been invited, but then it was noted that all the plants in the photo were male and not, therefore, particularly high in what gets you high. And where were the female plants with the flowers? And if they'd taken 40 days for the operation, how come the plants shown look as if they'd been freshly picked from the police station's allotment?
Then someone more numerate than your correspondent pointed out that 4.5 tons (that's 45,000 kgs) didn't seem a lot for 108 hectares, which is 10,800,000 square metres. Assuming one plant yields 2+ kilogrammes including stalks and stems, then that's one plant per 4,800 sq. metres.
Can Jakartan connoisseurs of the evil weed expect an influx shortly?
News that in a UK chain of supermarkets you can buy shrink-wrapped coconuts is not as bizarre as one may wish it to be.
Long gone are the days when you could buy goods by the ounce or gramme. Everything is prepared in hygienic conditions for we consumers. We know what we're buying because it's standardised and the contents are clearly set out on the packaging. It's the desire to conform which defines us, the desire to keep up with the Joneses, to wear the same clothes and to consume the same, often crap, food and drink.
And we're much healthier for it, aren't we?
To be fair, some manufacturers also seem genuinely perplexed that the consumer might have a problem with the way their goods are packaged in a hygienic, cost-effective way that enables them to get pretty much whatever consumable their heart desires, from anywhere in the world.
Trash put in a landfill will stay there for a very long time. Inside a landfill, there is little oxygen and little moisture. Under these conditions, trash does not break down very rapidly. In fact, when old landfills have been excavated or sampled, 40-year-old newspapers have been found with easily readable print. Landfills are not designed to break down trash, merely to bury it. When a landfill closes, the site, especially the groundwater, must be monitored and maintained for up to 30 years!
I am continually bemused by planned obsolescence. When I furnished my last domestic living space in the UK, I didn't want a gas stove which had a remote control, an alarm clock and assorted bells and whistles. I've always preferred simple machines, not because I'm cack-handed but because the more parts there are, the more can go wrong. My stove was, therefore, about fifty years old, built of cast iron and completely reliable.
Why is it that, in this country, you can't fix a leaking tap because, for want of rubber washers, you have to buy a new one? We had a rice cooker for a number of years which never failed us. Then the lid fastener snapped but could we find a replacement? We now have a new cooker!
In the UK, there is a Spare Parts Distributor for all those little bits of electronic gear, such as remote controls, non-standard batteries and assorted cables, which we (or in Jakartass Towers, 'Er Indoors) regularly mislay or break.
I have a computer monitor whose switch has given up. There's also a fairly old Sony TV which isn't exactly black and white or colour - yellows and blues predominate. I'd like to get them repaired. Alternatively I'd like to dispose of them, but in an environmentally safe way. Bunging them in a landfill is not the answer. Perhaps a more socially useful way would be to give them away to an organisation which can use them ~ that's if someone would like to collect them.
In the UK, there is a Furniture Re-use Network. Is there a similar organisation in Jakarta which can bring social, economic and environmental benefit through the re-use of unwanted household items?
Consider the case of Jose Rizal reported in yesterday's Jakarta Post, but not online. Apparently he has been seeking asylum in the USA because he was harassed and discriminated against by Muslims here, including friends, relatives and an aunt who made him leave her home after he converted to Christianity in 1984.
His original application in 2000 was turned down because his knowledge of the Bible was flaky - he thought Jesus was responsible for the Ten Commandments. That there were mitigating circumstances, such as death threats, have now been taken on board by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeal. Jose has since married a US citizen, who he met in church, so he'll probably be allowed to stay.
Now that's okay for Jose, but is he aware that persecution of Christians is on the rise in the US?
Tolerance of anti-Christian attitudes in the United States is escalating. Recently, a woman in Houston, Texas was ordered by local police to stop handing out gospel tracts to children who knocked on her door during Halloween. Officers informed her that such activity is illegal (not true), and that she would be arrested if she continued.
In Madison, Wisconsin, the Freedom from Religion Foundation distributes anti-Christian pamphlets to public school children entitled, "We Can Be Good Without God." The entertainment industry and syndicated media increasingly vilify Christians as sewer rats, vultures, and simple-minded social ingrates.
Anyway, that many US citizens have similarly flaky Christian viewpoints as Jose is in no way relevant, but mighty interesting anyway.
For example, a man in California claims the image of Jesus appeared to him while he was eating a plate of manicotti at an Italian restaurant.
Leo Williams said the image appeared before his eyes in the form of a bubbling, burned portion of cheese on his pasta dinner.
Williams showed several people at the business who said they also saw the Jesus image and began to take photos of the discovery.
"I looked at the plate and before I started to eat it I thought, I'm not sure about this," Williams said. "So, we called the hostess. She came over and just got chills. The next thing you know you got the cameras coming out. You got people who are eating here coming to our table to see it. They just had chills. There were about 100 people taking pictures."
Williams said since the lunch, a chronic stomach problem he has had since birth has vanished.
I'm glad Williams is feeling better. Could it be because he's stopped eating pizza?
Bosses at a Stockholm hospital have asked a nurse called Jesus to change his name, after concerns that it might cause confusion among patients.
According to Jesus, an auxiliary nurse at Huddinge hospital, his superiors were worried that patients told "Jesus will be coming soon," might get the wrong idea.
"If they thought that Jesus was coming they might believe that they were already dead," the nurse said. But, he added, "my name never usually causes me problems."
Talking about asylum, and I don't really want to discuss the diplomatic row erupting because Australia granted temporary visas to 42 asylum seekers from Papua, did you know that three years ago the wife of one of Suharto's cronies also sought asylum abroad?
The wife of a former Soeharto government minister, the tycoon Mohamad "Bob" Hasan, is seeking refugee status in Australia, claiming she fears persecution as a former crony of the regime if she is forced to return to Indonesia.
Justice Shane Marshall said that she had a well-founded fear of political persecution as a Soeharto crony because her husband had been exposed to excessive or arbitrary punishment while in prison.
Evidence was given to the court that in 2001 Hasan was transferred from the low-security Cipinang penitentiary in central Jakarta to the notorious maximum-security prison on Nusakambangan island. The Jakarta Post reported the then justice minister, Baharuddin Lopa, saying the move was aimed at deterring the corrupt, and as a security measure.
This is, of course, the home away from home of Tommy Suharto. I'd be interested to know of the current whereabouts of Mrs. Hasan given that hubby Bob is back roaming wherever Suharto's buddies roam.
I really didn't want to mention Freeport today but as everyone else is I don't really have a choice.
1. Two people were killed and another person is missing after a landslide buried an employee cafeteria early Thursday morning at the Grasberg mine of PT Freeport Indonesia in Mimika regency, Papua. Again?
2. The government says PT Freeport Indonesia's Grasberg mine has violated the law on the environment and has threatened to sue the giant mining company unless it improves its environmental record during the next few years.
State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar announced the results of a two-week environmental audit of the Papua mine in February, conducted by a government-sanctioned team of experts.
The team found the joint operation between U.S. Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. and London-based Rio Tinto Plc. at Grasberg mountain did not meet government standards on the management of acid drainage and tailings disposal. "A single violation is an act of pollution," Rachmat said.
The report also says Freeport has no permit to dump its tailings in a local river and that a huge amount of the tailings at its modified tailing deposition area had illegally entered the Arafuru estuary.
Rachmat also said that the audit was the first ever thorough study organized at the firm's operations since Freeport started extracting ore from the site in 1973.
"Only the previous governments know why such studies have not take place before," he said.
And the rest of us think we know and are happy to conjecture about fingers in the pie.
3."We have a volcano that's been decapitated by nature, and we're mining the esophagus, if you will."
"I can assure you that we receive better treatment in some foreign countries than we do here" - on U.S. citizens' attempts to hold Freeport accountable to the law.
"We find President Suharto to be a compassionate man."
"I graduated with the highest grades of any footballer at the University of Texas"
"You've got to be able to just goddam know your instincts are right" - explaining how CEOs function.
"This is not a job for us, it's a religion" - describing Grasberg as the world's greatest mine.
"I guarantee you this sombitch is glad we found a copper and gold mine" - showing a slide of a smiling Irianese youth in a bellhop uniform - " ( ... before Freeport arrived ) the young man was raising vegetables or doing whatever on the mountain with his parents."
"We're going to mine all the way to New Orleans." Quotes by Jim Bob Moffett, CEO of Freeport McMoRan
An article in today's Jakarta Post and syndicated from Bloomberg - neither of which I can find online - states that the CEO of Freeport received US$47 million in salary, bonus and stock options last year. Eight years agoa paltry one percent of future profits was set aside for local community development. As Freeport's net income last year is reported at $995.1 million, how much more than the local community was Mr Moffett 'rewarded'?
That one has to be careful with regard to accusations of impropriety is a given. Yesterday's posting has, again, stirred some debate although all I was highlighting was what is currently being said among expat businessmen.
That there could be local provocateurs behind the actions focussed on major American interests is credible.
Yesterday, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) - which was chaired by Aburizal Bakrie until he became a government minister - warned the political elite against stirring up protests directed at foreign companies' mining operations, with jittery investors watching from the sidelines.
Kadin's deputy chairman for international cooperation John Prasetyo said many foreign executives also believed the unrest stemmed from conflicts among the country's political elite.
National Intelligence Agency head Syamsir Siregar indicated there were political moves behind the allegedly orchestrated protests, but he did not elaborate.
It was not my intention to malign any specific figure. After all, Bakrie, in the guise of Minister of Social Welfare, is proposing a charter on human development which would require central and regional governments, NGOs and businesspeople to carry out and support welfare programs, especially in Kalimantan where his family business empire has recently invested US$3.2 billion in the local coal reserves.
Isn't it good that a pribumi businessman owns the nation's resources rather than an American or Australian company?
An article by B. Herry-Priyono Ph.D in today's Jakarta Post also picks up on the theme of provocateurs.
Given that modern business has increasingly become the principal source of revenue for the existing political economy, the habit of blaming provocateurs is a recipe for bringing the country into authoritarianism. The old dictum that "trade maketh peace" has a ring of truth if, and only if, relations between trading partners are based on symmetry. Otherwise, the situation is perpetually haunted by a specter of conflicts.
This is what I conjectured yesterday and it doesn't need anyone with a Ph.D to work that out. So my disclaimer is that Jakartass does not strive for originality but prefers the truth as it is recognised by most of my peers.
Jakartass has not retired, contrary to the possible misreading of yesterday's posting. This happened to be number 672 of those posted in 2 calendar years and I thought it needed a little commemoration.
So thanks for all your kind words which range from "That's a damm pity. I was just getting used to you and your gang in my life and now you're on your way out." ... which I'm not ... to "Happy birthday! Keep bloggin."
This I will with a bit of bar gossip which I've picked up today, not that I've been in a bar for a while you'll understand.
It's been a matter of happenstance, sublime synchronicity or 'just one of those things' which has seen the eruption of simultaneous demonstrations against American interests here in Indonesia.
Freeport in Papua has long been known, since the days of Henry Kissinger, Nixon and the Suharto family, to benefit all but the 'primitives' of Papua. Recent protests seem justified if one has any empathy for the local population. That 400 more troops are being sent there does not augur well for the stability of the province.
Last week's demonstration underscored the hatred many Papuans feel toward Indonesian soldiers and police in Papua. The remote province is home to a decades-long separatist rebellion and has seen scores of rights abuses by Indonesian troops.
Another attack on an American mining venture took place on Sumbawa at a workers' camp owned by Newmont Mining Corp. However this hasn't deterred the company.
"I am confident things are improving in Indonesia; if the deposits can bring the return on investment we need, we'll build mines," said Robert Gallagher, Newmont's recently appointed head of Indonesia and Australian operations.
And then there's the recent deal between Pertamina, the state oil company, and Exxon (aka Esso) to develop the Cepu oil field in East Java. Local demonstrators attempted to block roads in the area with no reports of violence. Many commentators feel that allowing Exxon to be the lead managers in the project, expected to produce around 165,000 barrels per day, accounting for around 20 percent of Indonesia's total daily output, is unpatriotic.
Others point to Pertamina's history of massive corruption and laugh, although they should be aware of the lawsuit against ExxonMobil on the grounds that they were co-sponsors of state terrorism in Aceh.
In 2001, the Washington-based International Labor Rights Fund filed a lawsuit against the energy behemoth, claiming the Mobil half of the conglomerate in the 1990s paid and supported Indonesian military troops that committed human rights abuses in the war-torn province.
Representing eleven unnamed residents of Aceh who say they or their husbands were brutalized by troops underwritten by Exxon Mobil, the ILRF maintained that under the Alien Tort Claims Act and Torture Victims Protection Act, the oil company and its Indonesian subsidiary could be held liable for the murder, torture, sexual crimes, and kidnapping conducted by these soldiers.
As part of a joint venture with Pertamina, Indonesia's state-owned oil and gas company, Exxon Mobil - which owns 35 percent of this enterprise -operates a major natural gas facility in this province in northern Sumatra.
Forbes advises its readers to invest in Indonesia.
The headlines (about Condi Rice's recent visit) will focus on global terrorism and the pivotal role Indonesia plays as the world's largest Muslim nation. (Not true. It was Open Sesame Street.)
A second great reason to be more fully engaged with Indonesia is trade and investment. It is a triple play of fostering higher economic growth and income in Indonesia, jobs and growth for America, and maintaining America's influence in the region, which is being undercut by powerful Chinese economic diplomacy. In fact, we need to pay more attention to Indonesia than the Chinese do. (Open Sesame?)
So, there we have it. The Americans want to foster economic growth in America by ripping off Indonesia's gold and 'liquid gold' before the Chinese do. And they've been coming here for years in high-powered delegations to do just that.
So why are there demonstrations against these developments?
Is it the thought of a repressive military presence to 'protect' the facilities? Possibly in the case of Papua.
Is it the anticipated environmental destruction? Doubt it, except in Papua.
Is it the anticipated economic boom? Possibly, in the case of Cepu.
Or could it be something else, a mini coup d'état as it were?
The following is the bar gossip of various expats, more influential (= better paid) than Jakartass.
Freeport, Newmont and Exxon are in Indonesia because Suharto and his cronies, including his political grouping Golkar, allowed them to be. Since Suharto's ouster, there have been major manoeverings for the shares. Those involved include Yusuf Kalla, the Vice President and leader of Golkar, and Aburizal Bakrie, currently Minister for Social Welfare, before which he was Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy.
The Bakrie family have fingers in many pies and have done since their company was started in 1942. The following was written in 1992.
In a country where big business is dominated by ethnic Chinese, Indonesia's Bakrie group has attained a prominent position by using its status as an indigenous company and its political connections to gain foreign partners.
Those partners include such names as the Kuwait Investment Office, the emirates' London-based investment arm; the International Finance Corp., the private-sector affiliate of the World Bank; Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. of the United States; Mitsubishi Kasei Corp. of Japan; and BHP Pty., Australia's largest company.
Analysts find it hard to fathom the group's health, however, because of its complex ownership structure. Aburizal Bakrie, whose family controls the group, said recently that there are 40 companies in the Bakrie empire and 13,500 employees, mainly in Indonesia.
Bakrie's shares in Freeport were sold to Suharto's main man, Bob Hasan, who was lent the money, by Freeport (eh?) to buy them. When he defaulted, the shares reverted to Freeport who are now being pressured to release a further block of shares and/or give a bigger return to Indonesian investors
Last month, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said that the government should revise a profit-sharing contract with the New Orleans-based mining giant to give Indonesia a bigger slice of revenue while commodity prices soar.
A University of Berlin anthropologist Georg Elwert raised an analysis of "markets of violence". He said behind every series of violence, there is always an economic interest, and therefore, the atmosphere of fear must be maintained.
"A particular cost-effective form of mobilizing troops is to create fear. Hence, propaganda acts as an important instrument of production. From an economic perspective, this can give a point to what would otherwise be pointless violence. The fear of retaliation by the victims leaves no option open but to join an army or support it for one's own protection. Fear of revenge stabilizes the system?.
A destabilised system would presumably benefit the local business empires who are keen to have a bigger bite of Indonesia's wealth pie. A destabilised Indonesia could see the eventual overthrow of SBY with his replacement by Kall and his cronies already embedded in Golkar, the 'natural' governing party, who traditionally have had the miltary's backing.
Are we seeing another attempted return to the good old bad days?
I didn't have any startling objectives when I started. I was then severely underemployed whereas I'm not now. I started Jakartass as a sounding board for the various obsessions and mysteries which daily plague expats in Jakarta.
I wasn't the first expat blogger in town; I believe that honour goes to Brandon who remains focussed at Java Jivewith his superb mixture of photographs and words. There was seemingly minimal interest in commenting on Indonesian affairs per se in English (the lingua franca of international news commentators) from other than we two. Internationally, the Swanker ~ who's currently off exploring the world, in Sydney and Friskodude in - where else? - Frisco, were supportive, as were Simon and Myrick who are now more focussed on things China.
And somewhere - they (he?) tell me it's Monaco - there is a co-operative of former convent girls observing the gritty side of life using the moniker of Aangirfan. As they/he are/is into conspiracy theories, then they/he shouldn't object to my giving a plug to Kent Clark's timeless writing as Jakarta Kid, a series of vignettes of encounters with the poor underclass of Jakarta. After all, they both give a link to My Web Page, a set of photographs posted online 3 years ago.
The tsunami at the end of 2004 saw the first networking of bloggers here for the benefit of the wider community. Since then we have not been lone voices. There is occasional dissension among us regarding perceptions, but we remain supportive by commenting, offering links and varied perceptions on each others blogs. We are beginning to inspire as well as provoke and that is as it should be.
As for Jakartass, I may have to post less frequently because money talks. I hope to move this blog to its own site sometime but that's going to depend on my learning a bit of HTML and not relying on the knowledge and skills of the Reveller and Treespotter. Whatever, as well as highlighting some of the good things which interest me, I intend to continue to point you to the inanities and insanities which pervade all our lives. Such as this:
Sorry, but I'm too busy working for crumbs to post anything meaningful today.
However, as I've stirred up some debate about the veracity and reporting of the poll suggesting that Indonesians want sharia punishments ~ i.e. stoning folk as opposed to getting stoned, you might like to add your thoughts here. Alternatively, add some thoughts to Indcoup's. We are personal friends, but we have differing opinions on this issue.
For something different, Greenstump has got the local blogosphere talking about littering and racism.
All in all, it does look as if we now have a vibrant, active and discursive local blogosphere. It's taken a while, but the wait's been worth it.
More to check out: Yosef Ardi for everything you didn't know you wanted to know about the rich and powerful. He posts 3 or 4 times a day. Paras Indonesia for a very wide perspective on politics and society, inc. Condi Rice and Miss Piggy.
Now, for almost 40 years, Sesame Street, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy - Miss Piggy, right - and who? Elmo? Come over here, Elmo. Come on, Elmo. Come on. And Elmo have been teaching children to read and to think and to explore different worlds. And so we're happy that we can bring Sesame Street to these kids and to other kids around the country. And I'll bet you'll find that you'll start creating some other characters, maybe some characters that would live here in Indonesia. So I'll look forward to coming back and to see what you created.
Sundays are when I am forcibly reminded that tomorrow is a work day, a time to continue earning my daily crumbs from the rich man's table.*
Today is no different.
Having stayed up til midnight to watch Charlton get right royally stuffed by the aristocrats of football, the Woolwich Arsenal, I had a lazy lie-in before getting up to enjoy my first cuppa Sumatra.
Being a man of leisure and weekend ritual, I read the Sunday edition of the Jakarta Post before doing anything else. This is always a hotchpotch and today's is no exception.
News 1 SBY has set foot on a remote island, Buru, in Maluku, which experienced a tsunami on Tuesday. Buru is a newly autonomous regency about to become a net exporter of rice and other crops.
News 2 Following the deadly riots in Papua which saw the indigenous population and university students vent their anger on the military and police seen to be protecting the Freeport gold mine, the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) has been ordered to return to barracks. NB. The military top brass who had ordered the clamp down on the demonstrators then had to clamp down on Brimob who were excessively violent.
Travel A major feature on the Badui who I wrote about last November. You may recall that the Badui are self-sufficient in food, clothing and shelter within the structure of their modest lifestyles. They are also not consumers. Their community is divided into inner and outer. The residents of the inner badui resist outside influences and are thus guardians of their environment.
If it wasn't for the fact that they remain one of the few groups who are not despoiling this planet and are therefore worthy of emulating, I would wonder at the insensitivity of those who organise tours to the Badui domain. People do not belong in zoos.
Shopping This feature always pisses me off as inevitably it's geared towards folk who think nothing of spending in an afternoon more than I earn in a year.
Today's fashion statement is a watch, the bigger the better, costing anywhere from $1,250 to $186,000 - Singapore dollars that is. I have very simple criteria when selecting a time piece: Is it accurate and is it easy to read?
I also have to use a battery operated one because my personal magnetism seems to screw up those wind up ones with a mainspring. Still, I now know how the expression Time is Money originated.
Excuse me, how much is the time?
Literature News that Wayne Rooney, who's quite good at kicking balls, has landed £5m for a five-book publishing deal should not puzzle those of us who think he can only utter four-letter words. This is indeed true, but then he won't actually write anything. This will be done by his ghostwriter, Hunter Davies.
Jakartass will also be pleased to consider a book deal. Not that I'm cheap, but as I won't be using a ghostwriter I'll consider any slightly lower offers.
Thank you for visiting xxxx.com. Indonesia has been blocked from our site due to extensive billing fraud, hacking and copyright violations.
*I am not employed by the seriously rich people profiled by Yosef Ardi here and here.
According tothe famous Garden of Eden story in the Bible, Eve was not so much born as sprouted, growing from a rib that the Lord took from Adam's side, after Adam had failed to get along in any meaningful way with other species.
Tempted by a talking snake to eat fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil - the one forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden - she ate and persuaded Adam to join her. The snake had promised that they would be like God, but in fact the only difference was that they realised they had no clothes on.
'Internationally respected biochemist' Dr. Fazale 'Fuz' Rana, says, "With the discovery of what scientists have aptly named Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve, new genetic and DNA evidence with the fossil record show very clearly that modern humans are not related to previously existing hominids as once believed.
"There is astonishing new evidence to support the position that homo sapiens exploded onto the scene less than 100,000 years ago from a single man and a single woman.
"Even more astounding is that scientists now know that human origins had their beginning in a particular geographical area - the same area identified by most biblical scholars as the physical location of the Garden of Eden. Belief in a literal and historical Adam and Eve as recounted in the Bible has greater scientific credibility today than at any other time in human history."
Dr. Rana has been assisted in his researches by none other than Dr. Hugh Ross, author of several books, including Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men.
Reuters carries the following headline: One in 10 Indonesians back suicide bombings.
The survey, based on 1,200 respondents across Indonesia's 33 provinces, showed 11.2 percent believed suicide bombings were justifiable on occasion while 0.5 percent said the method could always be justified to defend Islam from its enemies.
A survey conducted in late January by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) found 40 percent of respondents approved of adulterers being stoned to death, 34 percent did not want to see another female president and 40 percent accepted polygamy.
On a thief's hands being chopped off, 38 percent of respondents said the punishment fitted the crime.
The survey involved 2,000 respondents from different backgrounds nationwide.
Hang on a sec. How many respondents, out of a population of 212 million - 220 million according to Reuters, were interviewed ~ 2,000 or 1,200? And were they interviewed outside a mosque shortly after Friday prayers?
Imam Prasodjo, a sociologist of the University of Indonesia, disagreed with the parameters the survey used to measure radicalism, saying they were relative.
"Women oppose polygamy, all communities dislike mixed marriages and all human beings are against terror acts," he said.
There is a lot of mindboggingly tedious mumbo jumbo about steps of stratification based on the area of domicile: urban and rural, 33 provinces and population proportion based on gender: 50% male and 50% female etc. etc.
Yeah, yeah, move on. Who sponsored this poll, and why?
Terror Free Tomorrow which is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization, whose mission is to understand and undermine the popular support base that empowers global terrorists, that's who. Sen. John McCain, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton (former 9/11 Commission Chairmen) lead its Advisory Board and their interpretation of the poll is vastly different from the headlines offered by Reuters and the Jakarta Post.
According to TFT's press release, despite widespread stories on Koran desecration, Guantanamo, even the Danish cartoons, favorable opinion toward the United States among Indonesians has actually increased from 34 percent a year ago to 44 percent at the end of January 2006, while unfavorable views declined from 54 percent to 41 percent.
These changes occurred in tandem with similar declines in support for Bin Laden, dropping from a high of 58 percent in 2003 to 12 percent today, and terrorist attacks, falling from 27 percent Indonesian support after 9/11, to 9 percent a year ago and a mere 2 percent now. Indeed, Indonesians with very unfavorable views of the United States have declined from 48 percent in 2003 to just 13 percent today.
The reason for the popularity of the USA is obvious. "It's stunning proof of the sustained power of positive and substantial assistance (in tsunami hit Aceh) to radically change Muslim public opinion," according to Ken Ballen, president of Terror Free Tomorrow.
And there's me thinking that it was the promise of Sesame Street.
So why are we treated to this totally biased and distorted survey? Could it all be an excuse to give me and Indcoup something to blog about ~ just like I did last year?
Whilst my mind has been on higher ground, Indcoup has got to the bottom of things with his comment on the pending caning of an Acehnese guy found consorting after dark with a French aid worker.
Banda Aceh city police chief Zulkarnaen said the ex-negotiator of the now disbanded Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the woman were caught in a parked car around midnight on Monday night by residents in Lambhuk village.
Now that's all very well, but will the police help Oxfam who have been forced to shut down some of its operations in Aceh because they have discovered through an internal audit that funds have been embezzled? Nine months ago Oxfam were complaining that NGOs lacked accountability, so it's pleasing to note that they have reacted with promptness and transparency in this instance.
Aceh, of course, lives under sharia law so those of us who prefer a degree of personal choice in our lives don't go there. We've been worried by the seeming subversive attempts by a minority of fundamentalist Muslim politicians to punish those of us who don't share their brand of misogyny and bigotry, but it would appear that the tide has turned. The proposed Anti-Pornography Law, if it is ever enacted, will target materials rather than people.
Pressure needs to be maintained, but the government, which is 'independent' of the House of Representatives in terms of decision making, has demonstrated that it is on the people's side. To my mind, this has been the first time that, without recourse to violence, proposed legislation has been successfully defeated by the people, largely of course, because politicians have been listening to their constituents.
The room fell into an uneasy silence as Satria Naradha, one of the most influential community figures in Bali, made a point to the visiting members of the House of Representative's special committee on the pornography bill.
"Bali will never betray Indonesia, we will never secede. Instead, we shall fight until the end any group that is trying to subvert the nation into a monolithic society based on the teachings of one single religious belief," he stressed.
"If Jakarta and Aceh want to betray the republic (by suppressing religious freedom and multiculturalism) then we will let them go (from the republic). Bali will not go away, we will fight to keep this nation as a nation that respects religious freedom and celebrates multiculturalism," he said.
To the surprise of many Indonesians, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is not a bule. She's BLACK.
To the surprise (and delight) of Jakartass, the headline news about her first day, of two, in Indonesia is not about terrorism, increased funding for the Indonesian miltary or the problems facing American corporations such as Freeport or ExxonMobil, or the non-disbursement of promised funds to fight avian flu.
Oh no. It was much more important than all that. The USA is providing grant aid to the tune of US$8.5 million for the production of an Indonesian version of Sesame Street. And she announced this just two days after I posted a picture of Kermit the Frog! Wow, is that serendipity or what?
Two generations of Jakartass offspring have become the sensible folk they are today thanks to the educational experts behind Sesame Street. so I'm all in favour of Indonesian nippers sitting in front of their televisions and learning to say 'please' with Big Bird and how to count with the Count (who else?). This is one export the US can be truly proud of.
That last statement does not come naturally to Jakartass, a true Brit. I hope that Tony Blair, who is expected in Jakarta in a week or so, will uphold the grand traditions of British children's television by grant aiding the Indonesianising of, say, Captain Pugwash.
Before you try to translate into Indonesian the names of the characters, Master Bates, Seaman Staines and Roger the Cabin Boy, let me assure you that their names were, contrary to prurient and popular belief, actually Master Mate, Tom the Cabin Boy, and Pirates Barnabas and Willy. (Willy? Isn't that another euphemism for .....?)
The most popular British children's TV show here, bar none, has been the Teletubbies, not that the pre-schoolers were allowed to watch. Oh no, there was no way they could get in front of the maids and housewives who forsook their customary cinetrons (soap operas) and household chores in order to get their thrice daily fix.
And this thought puts me in a fix. Is there a good programme on British children's TV? According to some of the British press, there isn't one. Mind you, not having heard of, let alone watched, Pig-Heart Boythere may yet be hope yet. Apparently it's better for your kids to watch TV and programmes like that than browse the internet.
After several communications in regard to address information about our products and services, it is such a tremendous feeling to be able to greet you again via this email.
However, it would even be greater should we can personally greet you in INDO WIRELESS 2006 exhibition, rising: BROADBAND EVERYWHERE theme. The venue would be at Jakarta Convention Centre, March 14 to 16, 2006 between.08.00 A.M. until 07.00 P.M, except on March 16, 2006, where exhibition would end at 06.00 P.M.
I've gone past the Convention Centre twice today; with a bit of forewarning from IM2 Indosatnet rather than an email to download when I got home I could have had a 'treat'.
Show you are Techie Card or March 2006 Invoice, and as a token and our appreciation towards your loyalty, we would have pretty souvenir especially for you.
Your present is highly expected for we could assist you personally; and we do hope that towards this event we have a best chance to get to know each other better.
Customer Service Manager You may recall that these are people who send me threatening letters regarding a phone bill I haven't paid for a handphone I do not have, have never had, and never want.
I'm always wary of folk who pretend they're 'giving the customers what they want'. There's an inherent pre-supposition here which isn't borne out in reality ~ the customer is king. If this were true, with the expansion of the world's population and we here about the so-called benefits of 'free trade' and 'globalisation', you'd expect to have greater choice.
But that isn't so.
Small shops which traditionally offer a real person-to-person service are dying out. It is estimated that at the end of last year fast-growing hypermarkets controlled 38.5 percent of all retail market space here. Not bad when you consider that Carrefour, the French-owned international chain, only opened its first store here in 1998. They've managed to attract custom by only stocking fast selling lines and keep their costs down by ordering supplies months ahead of time.
Carrefouris currently appealing a fine of Rp.1.5 billion (US$148,515) imposed because the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) ruled that it had applied a minus margin policy in its contracts with suppliers.
Minus margin is one of the trading terms the giant retailer applied to 99 of its 2,500 suppliers, in which Carrefour could pose sanctions if the suppliers violated their best price guarantee.
It's not much different elsewhere. In the UK the Competition Commission found that the big chains had been engaging in what looks like blackmail and extortion.
Because the farmers and other producers had nowhere else to go, the superstores were able to demand payments to stock the farmers' produce; retrospective "discounts" on produce they had already bought; "compensation" when sales were deemed insufficient; and "contributions" to the costs of opening new stores. Any supplier who did not cough up was threatened with "de-listing" and therefore bankruptcy.
Such is the power of the big chains (and especially Tesco which is making rapid inroads into Asia) to control the supply chains, that the wholesalers who supply the small shops are approaching the "tipping point", beyond which they go out of business. This would trigger a chain reaction through the independent sector, pulling down thousands of businesses.
The network of small farmers, wholesale markets, dairies, auctioneers, news distributors and small abattoirs, with all its expertise and investment, is collapsing at an extraordinary rate. It is hard to see how it could ever be replaced.
Claims are made about 'corporate responsibility' but in Tesco's case that is merely in the communities it sells to through its charitable giving and community-based education programmes and through being the UK's largest private sector employer with the best overall benefits package in the industry.
You see, it's all about customer satisfaction. "We aim to appeal across the social and economic range, and the profile of our customers reflects this."
Well, not here or in the outer reaches of Indonesia, such as Flores.
Like most disadvantaged tropical areas, Flores suffers from the long-term decline in worldwide agricultural commodity prices, especially for key crops such as coffee, cocoa, cashew nuts and vanilla.
The international Fairtade movement is one way that the market can be made to behave in a more indulgent manner, by encouraging consumers to pay a premium price for their coffee, which in turn is paid direct to the farmer?s cooperative. Whilst these schemes are popular in Africa and South America, Indonesia has so far failed to take advantage, partly because of the very weak capacity of most cooperatives.
Need I ask which companies cause the decline in worldwide agricultural commodity prices?
With a lot of hard work and the goodwill of the inhabitants, a better future may be in sight.
JPA-flores is a community-based NGO in Maumere, on the island of Flores, Indonesia with a vision of a strong and fair economy in Flores founded upon ingenuity, self-reliance through co-operation and the wealth of natural resources.
The organization is founded on these principles: 1. Democratic co-operation commensurate with the principles of the cultural and family values of Flores. 2. Management that is honest, transparent and accountable. 3. No discrimination on the grounds of: gender, disability, parentage, tribe, race or religion.
My researches have turned up very few fair trade organisations here.
1. US-based ForesTrade's organic program fully embraces the idea that it is our moral responsibility to conserve fragile tropical ecosystems and maintain a harmonized balance within the earth's ecological systems. Walking our talk, we approach organic and sustainable agriculture with three main goals in mind: · Maintaining balance with the natural environment. · Educating producers about the long-term economic value of organic and sustainable agriculture. · Ensuring the wellbeing of partnering farmers and their communities.
To that end, they sponsor a number of projects in Sumatra, including:
a. sustainSumatra which is an initiative that was launched after the Tsunami in Northern Sumatra as a way to provide relief efforts and long term reconstruction assistance to the region.
This broad-based effort will provide strong support to shift from emergency relief to long term reconstruction and sustainable development in areas of Asia heavily affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
b. PT Mitra Ayu, a growing producer and exporter of essential oils such as patchouli, nutmeg and clove stem.
2. The Gayo Organic Coffee Farmers Association (PPKGO) is an organic Fair Trade cooperative located in the Gayo Highlands of the Aceh province of Sumatra. Co-op members are small-scale coffee farmers dedicated to producing 100% shade-grown, organic coffee.
In a region known for political conflict, the co-op has continued to produce, process, and export high quality Sumatran coffee. It has maintained relative peace and unity among an ethnically diverse membership comprised of Gayo, Javanese, Acehnese, Padang, and Batak peoples. Twenty percent of PPKGO's members are women.
"The value added from Fair Trade is not just about money, it is about protecting the ecosystem and our community. We are able to invest in infrastructure to improve our well-being. Thanks to Fair Trade, one of my children is now in medical school and the other is in midwifery school." Mohammed Salim, PPKGO member
3. Pekerti has been established "to increase the standard of living of poorer communities, to establish a fair, democratic process and involvement of communities in their own economic activities"
Pekerti markets Indonesian handicrafts.
There's an everlasting cultural spirit behind every pieces of craft you see, inherited from generation to generation. The fact that craft is a mass-product nowadays does not make such a spirit fades away. It's a culture, a tradition, a heritage, in which lives are devoted.
Pekerti respects and appreciates the process, the way, the philosophy, and the minds behind its making. And most of all, the people behind it who have devoted their lives. A product is not just a thing for sale. It's an art with a human touch deep inside. Craft is about a sense of beauty, respect, and dignity. That's why we, at Pekerti Nusantara PT, proudly present you something unique and special from Indonesia: beautiful crafts presented by talented and skilled artisans.
4. Yayasan Mitra Bali Established in 1993 as a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, Mitra Bali functions loosely as a cooperative of 80 artisan groups representing 900 member artisans who make wood, silver and bamboo handicrafts. Mitra Bali only works with producers who support gender equity, provide healthy working conditions, use environmentally sustainable materials and do not exploit child labor or women. Mitra Bali's Design Center offers free design service and trend analysis with artisans; the organization's shop provides access to the local market.
Because many Balinese handcrafts are made of wood, Mitra Bali avoids use of hard woods and supports reforestation of soft woods by supplying seedlings to their artisans to develop sustainable wood harvests.
5. Merdeka Coffee We are a boutique coffee company dedicated to the sourcing, selection and roasting of the best Indonesian coffees. Our clients are individuals, institutions and wholesalers who share our vision for exceptional coffee obtained through fair & equitable local trade relationships.
At Merdeka Coffee we believe in developing partnerships with small hold growers and farmers, both at plantation and village level. A percentage of our profits are shared with our Indonesian partners in order for them to develop their communities, their coffee expertise and to assist them promote environmental conservation.
What you can do
In the UK, you are in the middle of Fair Trade Fortnight. Do try to be fair for more than two weeks though. Remember, lives depend on you.
We all need to work. It's not just about making a living... it's part of being human. But somewhere along the line, work became Economics and real people became forgotten.
Greens believe that Real Progress means shaping economics to people's needs, not the other way round. Greens believe in measuring economic benefits in terms of quality of life, development of people and care for the environment, as well as money in the bank.
The world is increasingly being run for the benefit of multinationals, not its citizens. Real economic progress involves encouraging more local, smaller businesses - the real backbone of the economy - rather than the multinationals, which wield huge power but provide relatively few jobs. and work for change.