Friday, June 30, 2006
  I'm A Mused

Which is why I rip off other people's writings and I'm really glad that you enjoyed yesterday's post. What is it about cynicism which we get off on? Could it be that there's a grain of truth embedded in the jaundiced awry humour?

So, why am I not smiling when I read this piece of satire in today's Guardian?

Charlie Brooker, a geek, and proud of it, says that he's too old for MySpace.

It had to happen, and it has. Age has crept up on me. I'm becoming resistant to technological change .... I'm looking at MySpace and I'm a fumbling old colonel struggling to comprehend his nephew's digital watch.

I mean, I know what MySpace is and what it's supposed to do and how influential it is. It's just that whenever I've visited a MySpace page I've thought "is that it?" and wandered around the perimeter looking confused, like a blind man patting the walls for an exit he can't find.

So users create a page and upload their music and photos and videoclips; they post blog entries and links to other stuff and leave witty little messages for one another. And it all meshes together to form a thriving social network. Okey dokey. On the surface it all makes sense.

Yet it's not for me.

Still, at least the teenage MySpacers are getting on with the business of being young and alive, unlike the fustier elements of the "blogosphere", who just waste the world's time banging on and on about how important the "blogosphere" is and how it spells the end of every old notion ever, when the truth is that, as with absolutely every form of media ever, 99% of the "blogosphere" is rubbish created by idiots.

Which could be why this is possibly the only 'Comment is free' page in the Guardian where commenting is not enabled.

So, is Jakartass in the 1% or am I an idiot? And do I, or you dear reader, really care?

If not, try and answer these questions from the Indonesian SAT - History Paper.

1. President Sukarno proclaimed that the year 1963 be named the year of ...?
a) ... living mindlessly.
b) ... living at the end of the street in a small bungalow (you can't miss it).
c) ... living next door to Alice.
d) ... livin' in da 'hood.

2. Who said "I was just whispering in her mouth"?
a) Former VP Hamzah Haz, when quizzed about his behaviour at the clandestine wedding to his third wife.
b) 'King of Dangdut' Roma Irama, when surprised with a 17-year-old school-girl in a hotel room.
c) A young man in Tangerang, when apprehended in close proximity to his girlfriend under a tree.

3. On 30 September 1965, which of the following was not on the list of Generals targeted by the 'coup' plotters for assassination?
a) Lieutenant-General Yani
b) Major-General Parman
c) General Suharto

4. Which of the following Generals did not get a toll road named after him?
a) Lieutenant-General Yani
b) Major-General Parman
c) General Suharto

5. Which General explained his absence from Jakarta on the night his fellow Generals were assassinated by saying that he had "taken his son fishing"?
a) Lieutenant-General Yani
b) Major-General Parman
c) General Suharto

6. When the Indonesian armed forces under General Suharto decided to 'restore order' after the killing of six Generals, what policy did they pursue?
a) Arrest the guilty parties and put them on trial.
b) Arrest the guilty parties and put them on trial, and outlaw the PKI.
c) Arrest the guilty parties and put them on trial, and outlaw the PKI, and kill every PKI member they could lay their hands on.
d) Arrest the guilty parties and put them on trial, and outlaw the PKI, and kill every PKI member they could lay their hands on, and kill their families, and subject their descendants to discrimination for three generations.

7. The term Pancasila is borrowed from Sanskrit. It means:
a) no parking
b) I see many robbers
c) cunnilingus

8. Which of the following ruses has former President Suharto not used to avoid having to stand trial for looting the state of billions of dollars for private gain?
a) Feigning a stroke, by putting cotton wool in one side of his mouth, walking with a stick and doing the 'Gus Dur' eye roll.
b) Feigning mental illness, by walking in the street with his pajamas on back to front and telling his neighbours 'he wants to go fishing'
c) Having Supreme Court judges 'taken for a boat-ride'.
d) Giving the money back.


4:00 pm |
Thursday, June 29, 2006
  Me? Cynical?

I have every right to be cynical at the moment and my cynicism is currently close to contempt for a few individuals. I doubt that they will appreciate the following which I received by email this evening. If you know the author, please let me know.

Indonesian SAT - Mathematics Paper

1. Agus and Joko are riding on the roofs of two different trains: train A and train B. The two trains are travelling towards each other along the same track. Train A is travelling at 65 kilometers per hour, train B is travelling at 80 kilometers per hour.
Within what fraction of a second will Agus and Joko smash into each other when the two trains collide head on?

2. Ibu Sumarmi is flying home to Padang for Idul Fitri. Her hand luggage consists of:
1 portable karaoke sound system
4 live chickens
1 litre jar of shrimp paste
36 small plastic bags of kerupuk and fried snacks
2 ironing boards
1 cardboard box containing durians and quail eggs
a) If Ibu Sumarmi is first on the plane, how many overhead compartments will she be able to fill with her belongings before other passengers begin to complain?
b) If Ibu Sumarmi is not first on the plane, where the fuck is she going to put all her stuff?

3. Bapak S takes five bribes a day. The average value of each backhander is Rp.400,000 and his government salary is Rp.1,500,000 per month.
How many months will it take for him to save up to buy a big house in Pondok Cabe worth Rp.500,000,000?

4. Pak Damian has an ecstasy laboratory. When he is arrested, the police confiscate his lab and 7,000 pills. Police Chief Bobbo offers to return his stash and forget the whole thing, if Pak Damian pays Rp.200 million to the police 'charity box'.
a) At the current street price, is it worth it?
b) If Pak Damian refuses to pay and does 18 months in Cipinang, how long will it take him back on the street to make up the lost revenue. And how long will it take him to have Police Chief Bobbo 'whacked'?

5. There are three lifts in an office building: lift A, lift B and lift C. The lifts are ascending from the ground floor to the 16th floor. There are ten passengers in each lift and each passenger wants to alight at a different floor.
a) Every time lift A stops a passenger exits first and then another passenger enters.
b) Every time lift B stops a passenger tries to enter first and then a passenger exits.
c) Every time lift C stops two passengers try to enter first, those inside try to move in four directions at the same time, and the passenger who wants to exit tries to walk through the mirror.
Which lift will take longest to get to the top?

6. Rini and Lia sell pirated DVDs in a mall. Today, their stall, which has a supply of 3000 DVDs, sells three types of film only: action, horror and nausea, in the ratio of 1:2:7.
How many horror films are displayed at their stall?
a) 200 b) 300
c) 400 d) 600
And how long will it take Rini and Lia to get the tarpaulin on when the local police force raid the mall?


9:00 pm |
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
  Will it ever?

Encouraging noises are emanating from the government for we expats and our local spouses, a year to the day since I first commented on this issue.

First up is the news that children of mixed parentage, by which I mean different nationalities rather than the biological gender-bases, can have dual citizenship until they are 18, at which point they must decide which side of the border suits them best.

An article in the bill's latest draft stipulates that dual citizenship is allowed for children of transnational marriages, as well as for children of Indonesian couples born in countries that apply the principle of ius soli (right of soil).

Countries with
ius soli principles, such as the United States, automatically give citizenship to anyone born in the country.

Indonesia currently uses the ius sanguinis (right of the blood) principle, which means that children born here receive the citizenship of their father.

Other beneficiaries of the proposed bill, which has taken TOO long to (yet) be passed into law, are the Chinese Indonesians who are treated as second-class citizens. (see this forum) and the children of Indonesian parents born abroad (see a different forum).

The other news is that procedures for permanent residence will be eased for foreign investors and top executives in an effort to boost investment.

No decision has been made on the minimum amount of investment required to qualify. "The Justice and Human Rights Ministry is still discussing the matter with the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM)," Justice and Human Rights Ministry spokesman Taswem Tarib said yesterday.

"This regulation actually took effect in March 2006. But since we had to coordinate with the BKPM and the Transportation Ministry, we decided to delay the announcement for this regulation."

The government also would determine the employment opportunities for locals in their enterprises, especially in the transfer of technology.

A question a colleague asked this morning related to the minimum investment to qualify. Given that we expats are not allowed to own property, except by proxy (generally the spouse), does house or land 'ownership' count towards our notional value? I'd also like to know if we are allowed to compute the expenditure of supporting an Indonesian family and would wish it to be known that my financial investment in this country in 18+ years far outweighs any repatriation of funds.


3:30 pm |
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
  Billing and Cooing 2
An occasional series documenting the trials and tribulations of settling accounts.

Dear INDOSATM2 Valued Customers,

It is such a pleasant feeling to be able to greet you again via this email. We are truly hoping that you could always enjoy our service conveniently.

On this mid year of 2006, we are still trying our best effort to improve ourselves in order to provide the best service for our entire valued customer. For one, we now are trying to improve our administration section, especially in email account services.

Kindly be informed that should any internet account is closed, it will automatically closing the email account. In order to maintain your email account, please make sure that your internet account always in active status (not closed or blocked bad debt), for all emails in mailbox would be automatically erased and emails in sending process will be returned to sender. Later, should any request to reactive the email account; the process would be treated as a new registration.

We hope our service would meet the expectation to you, our loyal and valued customers.

Best regards,
Customer Service Manager

I think that what this means is that if my account isn't settled on time they'll close it and all the emails which come pouring in everyday will be returned to their senders. Which is quite OK with me because Indosat don't filter out the spam as they used to.

What bothers me, though, is that I haven't had a bill, either emailed or sent by courier service, for three months now, and as Indosat doesn't have give customers online access to their personal accounts, I have no way of knowing if I should pay them some money and rebuild my credit.

Which, I suppose, generally meets my expectation to them.


6:00 pm |
Monday, June 26, 2006
  Apa si?

There are very few languages which I understand and very many that I don't.

For example, I haven't got a clue when I hear commentaries of a baseball game.

You do? Then please give me the answer to this question from this quiz.

R2, no outs. The batter-runner bunts the pitch and is running to first on fair territory, illegally outside the 45-foot running lane. The catcher fields the bunt and throws to first. The ball just barely touches the batter-runner's shoulder. The first baseman flinches, but catches the ball for an out at first. He then throws home against R2, who is safe. Ruling?

1. Batter-runner is out for running lane interference, R2 scores.
2. Batter-runner is out due to the tag of first base, R2 scores.
3. The ball became dead when it touched the batter-runner outside the running lane-running lane interference. R2 goes back to second base.
4. Same as 'c' except the runner goes back to third base.

The language of stock brokers is also a mystery to me. Warren King says he has deep family connections in world of politics and business so allow me and my key associates on the ground and in the boardrooms to understand what is TRULY going on behind the scenes!!

For example, UNSP (Bakrie Sumatra plantation), (is) a great stock with outrageous potential. The company is going online with the biggest bio-diesel plant (from its palm oil plantations) in the world later this year, and will be exporting over 50% of that by most estimates. EXPECT UNSP TO go UP by OVER 120% to 2100++ within the next 6 months (despite what the economy or the JSX does!)

PS.More on the Aburizal Bakrie (currently social affairs minister and owner of several Bakrie-related companies like BNBR, UNSP etc.) story later, looks like he might be in for BIG, lucrative job promotion.

Of course, this was posted before Bakrie did nothing about the mudflow in East Java for which one of his companies is responsible and for which he, as Minister for People's Welfare, has both a legal and moral responsibility. Expect him to get booted out of the government when SBY next reshuffles his Cabinet, even though (or because?) the government could end up bailing him out.

Where I do connect with Mr. King, however, is beer.

Some of our ... friends .... are actually high-powered, expat businesspeople or media moguls in Indonesia, and their favorite past-time is 'slumming it on Jl. Jaksa', but not, presumably with the Gentlemen, Revolutionaries, Scholars & Bules to be found there.

No, by "slumming it", I think our high-powered newbie entrant to the local blogosphere is referring to the Rp.15.000 price tag of a big bottle of Bintang, rather than the c.Rp.50,000 he'd usually pay for a lager glassful in a five star bar.

I suspect that Uncle Cap likes slumming it as well. After all, he does have 12,614 beer bottle caps in his collection, including the familiar Indonesian ones.

I'd like to ask Uncle Cap about Kuda Putih (White Horse) because I'd never heard of it. Unfortunately, Uncle is Russian, and that's another language I don't understand.

Follow up.

Following this post, Son No 1 in the UK has sent me this photo of a beer label with the message "You might like it ....."

So, if anyone in Jakarta can tell me where I can quaff a big bottle, please drop me a line or leave a comment.



2:30 pm |
Sunday, June 25, 2006
  God and the World Cup

Today may see the end of the road for England's brave and overpaid footballers. I'll stay up for the 10pm (local time) kick off and risk oversleeping tomorrow and all because of this:

I wonder how many of those supporters seen onscreen know that they are draped in the emblem of England's patron saint, St. George, who supposedly slayed a dragon. But he didn't and he never visited England either and his name may well have been Michael.

But so what? I hear you cry.

As the famed Liverpool manager Bill Shankly didn't exactly say, "Football isn't a matter of life or death, it's much more important than that."

Which, of course, is the fear of those who see their perceived and self-appointed duty as safeguarding our souls for the hereafter. Rather than lose their congregations ~ and note that churches and football terraces are among the few places where adults sing communally ~ they use football to extol Christian virtues and offer us their prayers.

This one is from the Church of England.

God of work and play, Lord of all the nations, guide, guard and protect all who work or play in the World Cup.
May all who watch or engage find in this competition a source of celebration and a recognition of what it means to be made in the image of the One who played the cosmos into being.

Then there's Father David, in Nottingham, UK, who has set up a World Cup Chapel which coincides with a recent poster recruitment campaign for the priesthood by the Catholic Church which uses footballing imagery.

Father David joked, "I am not sure that there is an official patron saint of football, but perhaps Saint Mirren should be considered for the job."

(St. Mirren are a Scottish football club based in the town of Paisley, Renfrewshire. The team is named after the Irish monk Saint Mirin* ~ died c.620. St.Mirren's Day is September 15th)

In Germany, churches have seized on the world's biggest sporting event as a chance to reach those indifferent to religion.

Thousands of congregations have received broadcast rights to games. Some are showing them on large screens in churches ~ others in impromptu places of worship. Preachers have worked soccer themes into their sermons.

Church officials looking for a message that resonates point to similarities between soccer and religion: both have rituals, offer a sense of community, a chance to leave the ordinary behind. Vast stadiums, which hold tens of thousands of frenzied fans waving banners and singing in time, are modern-day temples.

The problem I see is that the Church dignitaries will have themselves been caught up in World Cup Fervour. The Final, is on Sunday 9th July which coincides with the summer meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England and they actually think that England will be in that final. This is of course because of the biblical precedent of the symbolic value of 40 years, the period the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness and, incidentally, the length of time since England most recently won the cup (in 1966).

From Rome, home of the Catholic pope, comes a perspective on the educational, social and religious factors of the soccer world. In a short interview, Legionary Father Kevin Lixey, who oversees the "Church and Sports" section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said that, "Indeed, soccer is one of the phenomena that awakens the most passions in the world, but at the same time it helps "to establish fraternal relations among men of all classes, nations and races," as Number 61 of 'Gaudium et Spes' states."

Quite, and the football authorities agree.

The Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) President, Sepp Blatter, acknowledges "the prominent role of sport, and especially football, as a vehicle for delivering clear and firm messages to eradicate the huge blights undermining society around the world."

So, isn't it a shame that massive commercial considerations, as well as the usual factors of plagues and pestilence, have prevented so many of the 'blighted' from actually having the opportunity to watch the tournament, and not just here in Indonesia or because they have poor eyesight.

Anyway, do you think England will win today?

Have faith, brethren, have faith.

(* More than you probably want to know about saints can be found here.)


11:30 am |
Saturday, June 24, 2006
  Saints Alive!

Or dead in the case of St. Isodore of Seville (560-636). It was only this week that it was revealed to me that this worthy gentleman is the Catholic church's leading candidate to be the Patron Saint of the Internet. Just what we need and who better?

He was a seventh-century Spanish encyclopedist, Saint Isidore of Seville (560-636). A theologian and a scholar, Isidore is best known for his massive, 20-volume Etymologiae, ­an attempt at compiling all the world's knowledge, covering grammar, medicine, law, geography, agriculture, theology, cooking and all points between.

Saint Isidore by Murillo

There are several other candidates but none seem to have their own sophisticated web site offering a Prayer Before Logging On.

Lord, keep me from drooling over Internet porn, spreading spam and wasting my day with online games.

Sorry, wrong one. I meant this one:

Almighty and eternal God, we beseech thee that, through the example of Saint Isidore, bishop and doctor, during our journeys through the Internet we will direct our hands and eyes only to that which is pleasing to thee and treat with charity and patience all those souls whom we encounter. Amen.

Tomorrow: God and the World Cup


12:30 pm |
Friday, June 23, 2006
  How come ... ?

How come I can't go to Bali this week? Indcoup can.

How come Abu Bakar Ba'asyir was released if he really is Indonesia's terrorist mastermind?

How come there's a site offering podcasts of Indonesian musos when few of us here have enough bandwidth to download them?

How come A blog dedicated to cats that look like Hitler can get 38,000 hits in two months whereas it took me 'only' two years to approach that figure?

How come I can't think of anything else to say?


5:00 pm |
Thursday, June 22, 2006
  There is Something Rotten in The State

No, I'm not referring to Hadja Kouyate & Ali Boulo Santo whose album Manding-Ko has been reviewed thus: Two deeply rotted artists not afraid to push the edges out a bit make (the album) very pleasant to listen to: it won't make you dance, though there are parts a person with imagination could dance to. Most of us would have to be content to just sway with the music.

Whilst hundreds die in flash floods in South Sulawesi blamed ... on environmental degradation caused by clearing of forest areas and the construction of residences by rivers, thousands more have become displaced persons thanks to the seeming incompetence of an oil drilling company.

Oil and gas company PT Lapindo Brantas was "grossly negligent" in failing to implement prudent operating measures that led to massive pollution from an East Java gas well, one of its partners said. Gas and mud spewed out of cracks in the gas well on May 29, forcing hundreds of residents of nearby Tenokenongo village, Sidoarjo, to evacuate their homes. The overflow also forced state turnpike operator PT Jasa Marga to temporarily close parts of the Surabaya-Gempol turnpike, causing billions of rupiah in losses to the company as well as disrupting the distribution of goods in East Java.

Imagine if you will, because I can't find a picture online, foul smelling oily sludge oozing from the ground and spreading, spreading through your hectares of rice fields, through your village and inundating your home, a home it is unlikely you'll be able to live in again.

Imagine, too, the Vice President coming to offer 'sweet promises' which so far amount to Rp 20,000 (less than US$2) per person.

With all the publicity, accusations and excuses ~ apparently it was the earthquake in Yogya 2 days previously and a day's drive away what done it ~ there has been one notable absentee, the Coordinating Minister for the People's Welfare, Aburizal Bakrie.

Could it be because his family has a stake in the drilling company, PT Lapindo Brantas? This is a unit of publicly listed oil and gas company PT Energi Mega Persada (EMP) which has a 50% stake in the PSC Brantas Block which is being explored.

The displaced people of Sidoarjo, currently about 5,000 with nigh on 1,000 having received medical treatment for breathing problems, can be forgiven for thinking that there's something rotten in the State.


6:00 pm |
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
- Indonesia

Hi Chris,

I think I understand your* (and my) judging criteria. Basically, it's up to the public to vote and for we judges to be biased. This, of course, is why the majority of the Indonesian candidates have been nominated by me and the one nominated by the public (see below) is not on the list.

Without further ado, I'm going to offer the following 10 for voting on, subject to your agreement as Head Honcho and Co-ordinator. Let me have your thoughts/comments on these and then I'll declare this post 'official' and folk can start voting (but how??).

Yosef Ardi
Jakarta Guru
Cafe Salemba
Paras Indonesia
A. Fatih Syuhud
Expat in Jakarta
Indonesia Anonymus

Java Jive ~ a long running blog with good writing to accompany some outstanding photos, many of which I rotate as my desktop background. The only reason I've nominated it for this category and not INDONESIA is that I wanted to include as many blogs as possible. (I hope you understand, Brandon.)

Move to Asia BIZ/ECON section
Sarapan Ekonomi

Can you - anyone? - suggest categories for these?
Jakarta Kid ~ not regularly updated, but a well-written fictionalised account of a life as an expat teaching here a few years back, with a eye on the poor and homeless encountered.
Indonesia Help ~ originally set up as an online help line following the Aceh Tsunami. Currently revived following the Yogya earthquake.
Blog Indonesia ~ an aggregator and much valued access point to over 1,000 blogs
Indonesia Matters ~ a news poster, generally too much for one day!

DELETE (from nomination list)
The Fool in Bandung was a pioneer of the Indonesian blogosphere but now Isman posts very infrequently.
Indonesian Celebrities is an Indcoup blog of massive (= prurient) interest, but I think one blog per person is only fair, don't you?

Watch out for the Reveller with his Blog M launched yesterday: Many of the Blok M web site regular readers keep clamouring for updates and diaries, but I just haven't got the time that I used to have.

Blogging is the solution. It'll enable me to feed the news as it happens, which will provide an actuality that the regular updates and diaries lack, and spread the work load more evenly.

Also, Geoffrey is back with his Beyond Wallacia, albeit not very frequently. Good to meet you last Friday G.

Mas Mashu joined us a couple of days ago and has got off to a bright start.

All in all, the Indonesian blogosphere is thoroughly thriving. Viva Reformasi.



NB. The original 14 nominations had to be whittled down to 10.
These 10 represent the writing of the past three months.
In September, after three months, votes will be counted and a provisional 'league table' established.
Each quarter this will be done again.
Finally, we will declare a winner for 2006/7.
(Memo to Chris: What is the prize??)
Some blogs may be relegated, for example if they have lain dormant, and others may be added (cf. NEW above) if they have attracted sufficient readers, links, votes, notoriety etc.

*Chris has added a couple more criteria to mine:
1. Frequency of updates. Quality should be above quantity, but quantity still matters - one post per month isn't really sufficient.
2. Originality. Cutting and pasting articles is part of blogging.
However, we should expect comment and extra value added. Omitting attribution is a no-no.
3. Reasonable English.
It isn't important that there's perfect syntax, grammar and stuff, but the message should be clear and understandable.
4. Of Wide Interest
Blogs written for the 'general' public, and not just for friends and/or family.
5. A Recognisable Voice.
This could be a particular viewpoint consistently stated.
e.g. Jakarta Casual writes about Indonesia's football scene.
Following on from the earthquake in Yogyakarta there will be no relegation this season. Yogyakarta and Sleman, 2 teams most closely affected, haven't played since and with football's funding provided by local governments obviously they have other things on the radar these days. Instead 4 teams will come up so each division will have 16 teams and not 14 like now.

6. 'Member' of the Indonesian blogosphere
Given that blogging is a relatively new form of expression and that here in Indonesia the very notion of a free press and free speech is open to debate ~ or vandalism, hate mail and violence, even murder ~ then I believe that the blogosphere has a responsibility to be both responsible and supportive.

Which I believe we are, have been and will be.

I'd like to include Indonesian bloggers who are resident (e.g. Maya in Antibes) or studying abroad but Indonesian Expats is, perhaps, a sub-category for the future.

Next: How to vote.
(If you want to write some rules, change any of the above nominations then comment below - NOW)


5:00 pm |
Friday, June 16, 2006
  Fw: Make Your Life Stress Free, Get A Diploma

I've already got one thanks but it doesn't relieve stress. I did enjoy this bit of spam though and I hope you do too.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Twila Barnard"
To: Jakartass and loads of others
Sent: Friday, June 16, 2006 3:00 AM
Subject: make your life stress free, get a diploma

Good day,

If you are like most people, you are more than qualified with your experience, but you are lacking that prestigious piece of paper known as a DIPLOMA that is often the passport to success.

Call us today 1|2|0|6-350-2883
24 hours a day, 7 days a week including Sundays and Holidays

Good Day

Have you already loved sleeping?.
Tell me when you have loved singing..
Jackie has disliked writing since five weeks ago..
I don't hate studying in London..
Those news announcers aren't practicing shaving next to the police station right at this time..
That dentist is not enjoying writing near my home..
Do you hate shaving badly?.
Did Roy love working on the top of the mountain?.
Haven't you disliked reading?.
Paul's grandson disliked studying for six weeks..
Weren't those plumbers practicing talking last month?.
I don't miss jumping for three or four weeks..
Hasn't Buddy ever liked swimming?.
Was Michael enjoying running early last month?.
Ashley disliked reading between the two buildings..

Mia Krueger


6:30 am |
Thursday, June 15, 2006
  Cross-Cultural Misunderstandings

Wow, Jakartass, you've been here that long? How come?

Well, however long it is, it seems that every day there's something that makes me go, "What the f**k?"

And this is one of those days, so I'm going to wake up tomorrow with a hangover headache which is going to be alleviated with a lunchtime pre-holiday session at Bugils and will continue at the BlogFest in Jaksa in the early evening.

Speaking Frankly, pun intended, it's because I thought we were doing something of value rather than being akin to Carrefour checkout lasses.

Well, Fuck you very much! indeed.


9:30 pm |
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
  A Site For Sore Eyes

There's a great optical illusion here.

Stare at the dot for 30 seconds.
Then, without moving your eyes, move the mouse over the image. It will look like it's in color until you move your eyes.


9:30 pm |
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
  World Music Exchange

Bored or uninterested in the World Cup? Then go to a gig.

Back in Blighty, there's a category of music called World Music. This refers to music from different countries and, if sung, in a foreign language. This is, of course, incredibly patronising and could be construed as betraying vestiges of imperialism.

Except that when we Brits ruled the waves we also waived the rules. In some cultures listening to or playing indigenous music was banned by the western missionaries on the grounds that this was 'devil' worship. Yet just a short listen to the sound of the mbira, the Zimbabwean thumb piano and one is transcendentally transported. The devil sure had the best tunes.

Allow oneself to go with the flow of Balinese gamelan, to be energised by the raw power of flamenco and to dance along with Louisiana cajun. I'm sure you get the idea.

And this preamble is to let my fellow Brits know that they can experience Indonesian musical culture this month without leaving their shores.

SambaSunda will be in Brighton tomorrow, 14th June, at the Komedia (01273. 647100), Wednesday 19 July, 7:30 pm, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London's South Bank for the Rhythm Sticks Festival and probably elsewhere.

The group updates the lilting sounds of Sundanese gamelan degung and the angklung bamboo instruments by adding elements of Jakarta's kroncong, Sunda's jaipong, Balinese kebyar and the Brazilian rhythm of samba. The classic sounds of the traditional instruments evoke not only past splendour but also the bustling, urban energy of Bandung today - a full sound palette from the deep resonance of the mighty gongs to the silvery eloquence of the suling bamboo flute, complete with a heavyweight percussion section, wild vocal chanting known as senggak and the truly breathtaking vocal skills of singer Rita Tila.

The result is a mesmerizing mix that manages, strangely, to be both relentlessly exciting and languidly tranquil, full of explosive energy and seductive sweetness. Both reassuringly familiar and daringly innovative at home in Bandung, this is a dazzling new sound for the rest of the world to discover.

Salaam Music Village 2006: A Celebration of Art and Culture from the Islamic World
The festival illuminates examples of peaceful co-existence and critical engagement between Muslims and non-Muslims across the world. It celebrates some of the breathtaking diversity of artistic forms generated by Muslim communities as an expression of their faith. And it unveils for Muslims and non-Muslims alike the immense and enduring contribution of Islam to the world's cultural heritage over the centuries.

Free Weekends in London!!
Kew Gardens 1st and 2nd July
Regents Park 8th and 9th July

Rafly & Kande with Ubiet Nyak Ina Raseuki will be there.

Rafly is a nationally renowned singer, instrumentalist and social activist from tsunami-torn Aceh. A devout Muslim, he and his talented young band, Kande, perform Muslim prayer chants and rapa'i music in sacred settings, backed by traditional drums and pipes. They additionally carry their message of love and unity to rapturous young audiences all over Indonesia, playing Indonesian contemporary music on electric and folk instruments. Guest perfomer Ubiet Nyak Ina Raseuki is a world class Acehnese traditional singer and also an accomplished international jazz musician.

I know about the above gigs because I subscribe to a 'World Music' magazine called Songlines which is delivered by snail mail. The current issue has a major article on Wayang Golek written by noted authority Andrew N. Weintraub, author of Power Plays - Wayang Golek Puppet Theater of West Java

Based on ethnographic fieldwork spanning twenty years, Power Plays is the first scholarly book in English on wayang golek, the Sundanese rod-puppet theater of West Java. It is a detailed and lively account of the ways in which performers of this major Asian theatrical form have engaged with political discourses in Indonesia. Wayang golek has shaped, as well, the technological and commercial conditions of art and performance in a modernizing society.

The article was to publicise a tour by Pak Asep Sunandar Sunarya and his Troupe

Enter a magical and enthralling world of Sundanese (West Javanese) legend, brought to life through the masterful puppetry and music of the region's leading wayang golek troupe. Pak Asep Sunandar Sunarya is a captivating storyteller, skilfully manipulating his elaborately carved and decorated puppets through complex martial arts movements and the delicate and subtle expressions of traditional dance.

He is particularly loved for his humour, using trick mechanisms in the puppets and hilarious references to everyday life to entertain audiences of all ages. The accompanying gamelan music is lively and varied, characterised by dynamic dance drumming contrasting with sounds of incredible subtlety and beauty.

The magazine arrived too late for me to pass on details of variuos gigs including one at the Royal Festival Hall and a series of workshops for schools. However you can still become entranced this month in York on the 16th, Bradford (free) on the 18th, Southport from 22nd - 24th, Exeter on the 28th (workshop and concert) and on July 1st in Deal (workshop and concert).



7:00 pm |
Monday, June 12, 2006
  My Conspiracy Theory was not so far fetched

I told you that the decision to deny DBS subscribers the opportunity to watch the World Cup would be hot news. I also said that my conspiracy theory concerning the Suharto clan's control of the media was sketchy as I don't have full knowledge of who owns what.

However, it seems that I wasn't far wrong and my thoughts have been widely read in the Indonesian language blogosphere thanks to Pak Priyadi and Spawn's Sanctuary.

Yosef Ardi points out that it's better that a terrestrial TV station such as SCTV carries the World Cup.

I just can't imagine if the holder of the right is not a traditional network like SCTV, but a cable TV operator. With less than 1 million cable subscribers, their homes could be targetted by angry football fans around the country.

Quite, but then we DBS subscribers have paid for a service which the monopolist media moguls have now denied to us. Like many in my predicament, I watched the England match ~ yawn, yawn ~ on a TV with an internal antenna, my wife's. The reception wasn't that good, but enough to wonder why I'd bothered. 'Er Indoors, meanwhile, was watching a channel broadcast by Indovision. It was SCTV. Seriously! SCTV had a show called Sirkus, Sirkus and some other crap. Now if they could do that, why couldn't they have broadcast the World Cup by DBS?

But there is an answer to that ~ viewers in neighbouring countries could tune in. So bloody what? is my riposte. Just think how much more the advertisers could have been charged.

However, as Endy Bayuni, the chief editor of the Jakarta Post, points out today, 70 million to 80 million Indonesians live in areas where they cannot tune in to SCTV. Although it is a free-to-air channel, SCTV can only be viewed in cities where it has set up relay stations. This forces many people, depending on their satellite dish, to invest a further Rp 1 million (US$100) on a decoder.

So we have a situation where the wealthy in Indonesia won't have to pay a thing to watch the matches, but many of the poor will have to invest a lot if they want to enjoy the privilege.

But let's return to my conspiracy theory which, do note, was posted before the England game was on.

One reason that I don't enjoy watching football on Indonesia's terrestrial TV stations is because the talking heads employed don't seem to be that interested in the game or even know much about the game. (Mind you, neither do American commentators who refer to goal tenders and the offence. But I digress.)

On Saturday, having hurried home from a wedding, I was just too late to see England's winning goal but in time for the next 85 minutes. At half time, we were greeted with a slow speaking, dull-looking ibu (term used for older women - lit.'mother'. Indcoup has a screen grab.). Oh no, I thought, and checked my emails. So I didn't know that the ibu was Soeharto's daughter Titiek. As the SCTV spokesman Uki Pratama said, "Titiek has to improve her skill as a presenter."

She is the commissioner of and owns some shares in PT Abhitama Mediatama, a company that controls majority shares in SCTV. This explains how she got airtime. As for the why she'd bother, as the Jakarta Post says, the public could be forgiven for thinking the appearance of Titiek was part of a public relations campaign launched by the Soeharto family to mend its tarnished image.

Of course, that would be impossible.

Ade Armando of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) also said the move was politically charged. So, can we expect an investigation?

"As a private television station, SCTV makes use of a frequency that belongs to the public. It therefore should not allow it to be used as a vehicle by which politicians can promote their own interests."

Furthermore, he added, "Titiek has done it in a very inelegant way" and "Technically speaking, she is not someone who knows a lot about soccer. Politically, she is not known as clean figure and physically she is not very attractive to lure viewers."


Yosef Ardi reports that due to massive public protests Titiek Soeharto has been dropped as a presenter!



6:00 pm |
Sunday, June 11, 2006
  Sunday Soundbytes
There are loads of blogs written in English in Indonesia and all are eligible for the Asia Blog Award - Indonesia category - if nominated. (So, get to it.)

As a judge, I think it's only fair to give a few of the criteria that I will be on the lookout for.

1. Reasonable English.
It isn't important that there's perfect syntax, grammar and stuff, but the message should be clear and understandable.

2. Of Wide Interest
There are many blogs written specifically for a circle of friends or family. Where, for example, these comment on student assignments or shopping purchases, they are of little interest to those of us outside that particular circle.

This is not intended as a criticism. Far from it. Given the stifling of self expression under Suharto, every effort at communication through writing is to be encouraged and positively applauded. The growth of literacy is a fundamental key to reformasi.

3. A recognisable voice.
This could be a particular viewpoint consistently stated.
Jakarta Casual ~ writing about Indonesia's football scene
Rasyad A Parinduri and the group Café Salemba who write about economics.
Treespotter ~ A distinctive 'character' chronicling his life and an active commentator on other blogs in the Indonesian blogosphere.

4. A 'member' of the Indonesian blogosphere
Given that blogging is a relatively new form of expression and that here in Indonesia the very notion of a free press and free speech is open to debate ~ or vandalism, hate mail and violence, even murder ~ then I believe that the blogosphere has a responsibility to be both responsible and supportive.

Many of my links are to folk who have dropped by Jakartass, for which I thank you. Similarly, you'll have noticed that I've left comments and questions on other blogs. Debates have been started, information and links have been exchanged and together we have grown and learned.

Some older sites have adopted blog software in order to interact with their readers.
Paras Indonesia, a group effort which offers articles about current affairs in both English and Indonesian .
Wimar Witoelar - the TV talk show host and formerly President Gus Dur's official spokesman.

5. A service to the wider community
Blog Indonesia ~ Capturing the face of Indonesia one blog at a time ~ is an aggregator of, currently, 1146 blogs. They (we) get ranked according to number of hits, number of posts and other statistical stuff. It won't win an award, unless there's one for software excellence.
Indonesia Matters, which offers several posts a day on current issues. Virtually an online newspaper.

6. Special Categories
There is a category of Photoblog in which Java Jive and Eric Setiawan could both do well.

Maybe we can think of other categories at Friday's Blogfest. The following bloggers have indicated their intentions for the evening.

Will be there
Geoffrey MG
The Reveller
Gary - Jak Chat

May be there
Java Jive

Won't be there
Indonesian Anonymus - still in Yogya
Jakarta Guru - getting married the next day (which is a poor excuse!)

No Reply Yet
Tiara Lestari is now regularly blogging in Indonesian so, unfortunately, is ineligible for an Asia Blog Award this year. Her English blog, rarely updated, is now here.

Finally, in researching Jalan Jaksa I found this site which BagPackers (sic) may find useful.


12:00 pm |
Saturday, June 10, 2006
  Another load of balls

So you're a football fan wanting to watch the World Cup live from Germany? You want the full works, the Opening Ceremony, the detailed analysis of which player has a delicate touch for his size, a broken metatarsal, a blonde wife or boyfriend?

Well, if you're in Indonesia you can forget it unless you've subscribed to a special satellite decoder called Matrix. Those of us who thought that we'd paid a subscription to ESPN and Star Sports via Indovision or Kabelvision in order to watch our countries' young men fight with valour for the honour of representing us on our field of dreams (don't you love clichés?) are going to be disappointed.

And the war analogy is, I feel, a good one. We're only going to get the heavily censored highlights (if we're lucky). This was a car bomb in Basra and a stunned crowd grieving. That was a Crouch goal and a stunned crowd disbelieving. It's all the same, the aftermath and none of the foreplay. Where's the fun?

I've spoken to a rather smug young man in SCTV, the terrestial TV service which is showing the games. I asked him why they didn't show the Opening Ceremony last night and, of course, the answer was, predictably, that they hadn't bought the rights. This probably means that they haven't bought the rights to the presentation of the Jules Rimet Cup either. If so, it's going to be an unfulfilling romance, a wham-bang-thank-you-ma'am affair.

I've also spoken to a pleasant and helpful young lady at Indovision, my DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellite) TV provider. She told me that the only enquiries she'd had this morning mirrored mine. Such has been the volume of complaints that there is going to be a conference with SCTV later today in order to see if a compromise can be worked out. You see, apparently, only one TV company per country has been awarded a license to broadcast the World Cup.

However, ESPN is not an Indonesian company; the talking heads we see are based in Singapore. Given the relatively small number of subscribers to DBS TV channels ~ 120,000 residential and 17,000 hotel rooms ~ when I last checked, and the potential Indonesian audience of 100+ million (if only the guys watch), then I would have thought a bit of generosity could be shown.

However, would you like a conspiracy theory?

You already know that Jakartass likes to indulge in a bit of Soeharto bashing. Well, this is another opportunity.

Google 'Who owns Surya Citra Media?' and you will discover that SCTV's shareholders include the Indika Group. The youngest son of Sudwikatmono, Soeharto's cousin, Agus Lasmono, is the chairman of Indika which has 14.42% shares in PT Surya Citra Media Tbk, the listed company that controls SCTV. Mr Lasmono sits as one of the commissioners. Other commissioners are General (retired) Suyono and Siti Hediyati (Soeharto's daughter).

Soeharto's second son Bambang Trihatmodjo is the President Director of Bimantara which, according to this page has a stake in SCTV. However, I can't find corrobation of this. However, according to Yosef Ardi, Bimantara controls three major TV stations, RCTI, TPI and Global TV as well as a network of radio stations.

In an article by Bill Guerin published in October last year, I learned that Indovision is now owned by ethnic-Chinese tycoon Liem Sioe Liong's Salim Group and Kabelvision by the Lippo conglomerate founded by ethnic-Chinese tycoon James Riady. Both were cronies of Suharto in the good old bad days of the New Order. Given that the DBS satellite channels command very little advertising revenue in Indonesia, is it not conceivable that by having just the one channel carrying the World Cup, they can, without competition, charge the highest prices for advertising airtime?

And carve up the income?

Update 2.30 pm
Obviously this is today's hottest story here. If I use Indosat dialup connection service to access the internet, a pop up message window appears. The latest informs Indosat subscribers how to watch the World Cup ~ ekslusifitas siaran dari pemilik lisensi terhadap stasiun SCTV (sebagai official bradcaster FIFA World Cup 2006). Sebagai alternatif, siaran World Cup 2006 dapat dinikmati melalui Antena Terestrial / Antena Lokal.

I apologise for not giving you greater depth but my information sources and resources are basically the same as yours ~ search engines. If you are really interested in research reports on the Indonesian TV industry then you are welcome to pay £650.00 + VAT for the entire BASIC PACKAGE. You can also access to the INDONESIA TV MARKET WATCH / PREMIUM PACKAGE or ON-DEMAND PACKAGE and customise your research reports.


1:30 pm |
Friday, June 09, 2006
  Chris Myrick of Asia Pundit has emailed me to ask me to email him about the

AsiaPundit is pleased to announce the commencement of the new round of Asia Blog Awards. The awards are based on the Japanese financial year, which ends on March 31, and nominations are now open for the April 1 - June 30 period, full-year awards are to be based on the quarterly contests.

Details are below, nominations for the categories can be made on the individual pages until the end of June 16 ~ Samoan time.

(The Indonesia page is here.)

Awards are at present limited to English-language or dual-language sites.

Winners will be judged in equal parts on: (a) votes, (b) Technorati ranking and (c) judges' selection.

While judges will naturally have biases, they will hopefully offset imbalances in other areas, such as inevitable cheating in the voting and inflationary blogroll alliances in the Technorati ranks.

The names or sites of the judges will be public.

Judges will be ineligible for nomination. As the awards largely intend on providing exposure to lesser-known sites of merit, we are hopeful that authors of 'A-list' sites that tend to dominate such contests will disqualify themselves by being judges.

The contest has been endorsed by previous ABA host Simon who is also serving as a judge, thereby disqualifying Simon World.

Traffic - the most telling and accurate measure of a site's popularity - may be a consideration in future awards. However, at present, there is no clear or universal way to accurately measure and contrast traffic. This is all imperfect and will be tweaked in future events ~ with transparency, of course.

Most importantly, this is intended to be fun.

Jakartass likes fun and supports the extention of free expression, as you may have noticed. As yet, it appears that not one English language blog from Indonesia has been nominated, yet compared to a year ago we do have a vibrant blogosphere .

If we don't want our voices to be drowned out by the blinkered and bigoted groups which plague Indonesian society, then we must 'do our bit' to promote ourselves. If a beauty contest such as the Asia Blog Awards can help, then let's do it by voting.

I've got the ball rolling, by submitting my blogroll, as follows:

Yosef Ardi
A. Fatih Syuhud
Paras Indonesia
Indonesia Anonymus
The Fool in Bandung
(I've left out the Guvnor, Enda Nasution, as his blog is mainly in Indonesian. Respect, sir.)

Expat Blogs
Java Jive (Possibly as a photo blog?)
Jakarta Kid

There are many more worthy of inclusion, but please note that nominations close next Friday, coincidentally the day of the Jakarta BlogFest.

Postscript 10pm
I've agreed to be a judge, thus reducing the number of possible nominees by one ~ i.e. Jakartass is ineligible for an award but I still get kudos. And if your blog wins, then you too can be on the "A-list" and be a judge next time.

Buying me a beer in Jalan Jaksa next Friday at the BlogFest won't be construed as bribery, but may well affect my judgement. See you there?


6:00 pm |
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
  Public Perceptions of Environmental Management (edited 8th June)

The Jakarta Post has printed an apology for letting Jakartass accurately quote inaccurate information. I can't say that it makes much difference, but being bold in making corrections is probably a good thing.

A poll of some 5,000 people in all of the nation's 33 32 provinces in January, but published this week, found that 98% 73.5% of the respondents could not identify Rachmat Nadi Witoelar Kartaadipoetra as the current State Minister for the Environment, 40%.said they knew nothing about the ministry's work, while another 23 percent were unaware of the ministry's existence.

The Jakarta-based Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicate Center for Political Studies, which conducted the poll, is a non-profit institution established in 2001 to help ensure that the process of democratisation stays on track.

Regarding the poll, the syndicate director Sukardi Rinakit said, "Most of the people we interviewed wanted the government to promote green and clean cities. It's sad to find that the authorities empowered to manage the environment have failed to fulfill such a simple wish."

Former environment minister Emil Salim said while he did not support politicians making decisions based on opinion polls, this recent survey showed Rachmat had his work cut out for him.

"The poll shows there is a gap between what is being said and what is being done," Emil told The Jakarta Post.

He said Rachmat should do more to promote green issues in other ministries and to encourage the President to give public policies "environmental souls".

Emil Salim, all round good egg in my book for his economic nous and environmental credentials, is basically encouraging Rachmat (who?) to continue the efforts and initiatives started by Salim when he was Suharto's Minister for the Environment.

Green legal expert Mas Achmad Santosa said the survey's results were not unexpected in a nation that put economic interests over environmental ones. This showed when the government was unwilling to prosecute big foreign companies for their damage to the environment.

It's the monetary, rather than economic, interests which are prioritised. Sound economic interests are surely those which are sustainable. The wholesale destruction of the forests by timber, palm oil and mining interests is purely for reasons of profit. The same can be said about the construction of apartment blocks and shopping malls in Indonesian cities. These are in favour of short-term profits but at the expense of green spaces.

There is no economic sense in short-term thinking. The environment is something we borrow from our children and it's clear from the survey that the public recognises this. Isn't it time for the political and business élite to come to terms with the rest of us?


6:00 pm |
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
  Links Roundup

Jogja Media Centre has a list of (106) missing persons.

Okusi Associates is providing temporary working visas to legitimate aid workers heading to Yogyakarta "at cost". In most cases, this means free of charge.

Chad is a recently arrived journalist here on behalf of Voice of America. He seems to be a serial blogger as he's also got a blog about Mount Merapi incorporating the Yogya earthquake he was handily placed for.

He has a friend, Trish Anderton, about to work for the Jakarta Post who has also got a blog. Hers details the golly, gosh, wow factor of early culture shock ~ things like taking a mandi and nasi goreng.

Indcoup, who's not a journalist, continues to raise questions about the Bakries.

And Jakarta Guru picks holes in the Indonesian school exams. An easy target unfortunately.


6:30 pm |
Monday, June 05, 2006
  We Salute You R.P.

The Religious Policeman is no more; he has ceased blogging because, in the longed for words of the blogosphere, he has a book deal.

The Religious Policeman has been commenting on Saudi Arabia, off and on, for two years. This is post number 400, the equivalent of a very thick book.

A number of commentors and emailers have over that time very kindly suggested that I should write a book. I have been persuaded. That's what I am going to do. But unfortunately, I don't have the time to do both, so there will be no more blog entries.

In writing about Saudi Arabia, R.P. was protected because he lives in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him.

Many of us prefer living in an ecumenical and pluralistic society and reckon that those with the strongest faith probably have the most doubts. It is almost a duty to point out the incongruities of, for example, Fabric of Faith.

The PPT garments and Biblically patriotic logos symbolize your commitment to regularly seek God's favor as you faithfully defend America ... on your knees ... through prayer.

Keep The Faith BlogFest

It has been suggested that it's time for another Indonesian BlogFest. The last one was just before Xmas and it does seem that this year there has been an increase in the vitality of the Indonesian blogosphere with an awareness of the power of 'the people' to network and effect action, if not change. So, let's celebrate.

Suggested Date: Friday June 16th.
Suggested Time: 6pm 'til whenever.
Suggested Place: Ya Udah. Jalan Jaksa.
Suggested Agenda: Eat, Drink and say 'Hi'.

Please email me if you think you can make it, or can't.


4:30 pm |
Sunday, June 04, 2006
  With The Compliment of ....

Some years ago, Son No.1 and I flew from Gorontalo to Manado in North Sulawesi with Bouraq Airlines. We were unable to book a student reduction for him ~ he was 17 at the time ~ because at 9.30am the office manager of Bouraq in Gorontalo wasn't to be awoken from his mid-morning nap.

My, how we chuckled when we read the kind words on the logo'd wrapping of the face wipe which was in our boxed lunch, a cupcake, a boiled egg and a boiled sweet as I recall. How generous we thought, one compliment.

Just one.

I am reminded of this smallmindedness with the news that US Airways will no longer give complimentary peanuts to its passengers, although actually, it's nothing to do with penny-pinching.

The Tempe-based airline, the nation's fifth-largest, is bowing to concerns of travelers with severe peanut allergies. It will serve pretzels, crackers and other in-flight snacks, instead. Several other major airlines had already stopped serving peanuts after peanut allergy groups expressed their members' fears of a dangerous in-flight reaction.

Hang on. Re-read that bit again ... "Tempe-based" or tempeh-based?

Tempeh, made from fermented soya beans, is, as all Indonesians know, possibly the world's most adaptable, tasty and nutricious food, and great for snacks.

Tempeh is very nutritive and contains many health promoting ingredients, including soy phytochemicals. The main phytochemicals in tempeh are isoflavones and saponins. Tempeh is a complete protein food that contains all the essential amino acids. The proteins and isoflavones have many health promoting effects. Isoflavones strengthen bones, helps to ease menopause symptoms, reduce risk of coronary hearth (sic) disease and some cancers. Tempeh maintains all of the fiber of the beans and gains some digestive benefits from the enzymes created during the fermentation process.

It's probably good at preventing airsickness as well and as it's easy to make at home, why not Tempeh from Tempe?

On the other hand, if US Airways are really going the positive discrimination route, then they should offer religion-specific snacks such as these Bible Bars - one of the greatest new products ever introduced to the Christian market. This fantastic-tasting, all natural whole food bar contains the seven foods which the Lord calls good in Deuteronomy 8:8 - Wheat, Barley, Honey, Figs, Olive Oil, Grapes, and Pomegranates. You're going to love this first-of-its-kind nutritional bar with its refreshing, natural fruit flavor and Biblical significance.


12:30 pm |
Saturday, June 03, 2006
  Richard Parry has been in Indonesia.

The author of In The Time Of Madness, which has now been reviewed twice in Jakartass, has recently left Indonesia. He was initially here for the photogenic eruption of Gunung Merapi. As journalist's luck would have it, he was handily placed for last weekend's earthquake and he has written quite movingly about it in his blog. Unfortunately we couldn't meet up for a beer ~ he emailed me from the departure lounge at Soekarno-Hatta Airport ~ so until now I've been unable to propose the following book project to him.

Both Miko, my 'guest' reviewer, and myself would like a bit more substance to the reportage on affairs here. Since starting Jakartass, I've learnt more than expected about this country, but many aspects remain a mystery and most relate to the personalities behind the headlines. Many of the major figures have been around for as long, if not longer!, as I have, cropping up regularly in Yosef Ardi's blog, thanks to their continued involvement in the business community.

When documenting the events of May '98, I asked for information about a son-in-law of Suharto reputed to be in the People's Forum calling for Suharto to step down.

A correspondent replied: I believe the son in law you're talking about was Prabowo Subianto (married to Mamiek, the youngest daughter. Now divorced.) He was previously the head of the feared special forces, Kopassus, and was now head of Kostrad, the Strategic Reserve.

I'm not sure of any People's Forum you mentioned, but there was a Majelis Amanat Rakyat which was primarily a block supporting Amien Rais I'm not sure if Prabowo was ever a named/official member of this forum but he was good friends with Amien and a number of his colleagues were also very close including Mohammed Amin Rais, chairman of the Indonesian Supreme People's Consultative Council (a different guy), and others. It's also worth noting that Prabowo's father, the late Soemitro Djojohadikusumo, was also a member of MAR (People's Message Council).

Other prominent members included Goenawan Mohamad (founder of Tempo magazine), Adnan Buyung Nasution (co-founder of the Legal Aid Foundation), Arifin Panigoro (on the Forbes Rich List), Rizal Ramli (first Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy post-Suharto) etc.

Also while I've no intention of undermining these big guys, some of the much more important names were not officially aligned with them for many reasons. Most notably was the late Nurcholis Madjid (a Muslim intellectual) who was probably the only outsider who had any chance to directly meet Soeharto and was also summoned to the palace and I believe had a hand in orchestrating the most realistic resignation model.

Just a short anecdote here: on the night of the 20th, well past midnight, most of those people and many others including Fadel Mohammad, Iqbal Assegaf, Ginanjar Kartasasmita (Suharto's Coordinating Minister for Economy and Finance), Emha Ainun Nadjib (Muslim poet and "man of the people"), Haidar Bagir (Islamic educationalist), etc. were present in Hotel Nusantara - just behind HI (Hotel Indonesia) - and were notified of Soeharto's decision to resign.

The atmosphere was euphoric if not still tense.
Amien Rais was among them who wanted to announce this right away since many journalists were camping in the Mandarin across the road. Nurcholis was one calming voice to tell them that they should let Soeharto announce it himself, to allow him to save face. If he changed his mind before the official announcement, everybody could be charged with treason and God knows what would happen then. Among the elite especially, nobody would ever doubt Soeharto's willingness to use force if neccessary, so it was crucial. Nurcholis made this call, I believe from Cendana where he had just met with the old man and they were just waiting for Yusril to finish writing the announcement.

Other notables also included of course Gus Dur. The NU
(headed by Gus Dur) vs Muhamadiah (headed by Amien Rais) rift was what kept Gus Dur out. He would consider that Amien was too full of rhetoric and lacked the tact needed to deal realistically with Soeharto. Many were inclined to side with Gus Dur on this - including Nurcholis, Prabowo, Emha etc. Gus Dur was also on very good terms with Tutut/Prabowo - his blessing in his insanity was that this man could stand with everyone, but he wasn't really as nutcake as he is now.

If it weren't for Gus Dur, Megawati would've disappeared from the scene, but Gus Dur lent a lot of credibility after the PDI debacle and despite Soeharto's crackdown on PDI, Megawati largely survived. She was notably absent during the May crisis but really that's because she was just lame. Emha Ainun Nadjib was also playing a critical role in talking to Soeharto. I believe these three (Nurcholis, Gus Dur, Emha) were probably the three most important people as a calming influence behind the scene as all three had very, very extensive access to Cendana despite their very public opposition to Soeharto. All three were among the very few civilians - non military/Golkar/cabinet/family - that were accepted and consulted by Soeharto during the last 24 hours of his days in office.

This might not be of much interest to non-Indonesianphiles, but toss in the Suharto family foibles ~ how did Madame Tien die? Did eldest daughter Tutut really snipe at her former secretary and reputed lover when she got married? What's that little shit, Sigit the grandson, up to these days? Was Amien Rais really a friend of Saddam Hussein ~ and you have all the ingredients of a major South American soap opera

Are you interested in writing it Richard?

Recommended further reading:
AsiaWeek: Prabowo the scapegoat?
George J. Aditjondro: Financing Human Rights Violations in Indonesia.
Time Magazine: Suharto Inc.
Yosef Ardi: daily updates mainly on the business/political/miltary connections.
Foreign Fields Forever by Dave Jardine. Absolutely no connection to the above except that today I lent Dave my copy of In The Time Of Madness and he'd like to find a (re-)publisher of Foreign Fields. Offers anyone?


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  • Jakarta? Been there!
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  • Jakarta Restaurant Reviews - as it says in the title

  • Living in Bali
  • Hector - at Bali Times
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  • Nusa Lembongan News
  • I've Been To Bali Too Blog - defunct but still good stuff

  • Education Matters
  • Education 21
  • Performing Monkeys
  • Yayasan Goodwill International

  • Pre-Independence History
  • 1941-1942
  • A Family Tale

  • Del Boy - my multi-talented co-author
  • Hotel Rimbo - a mate
  • Ethos Travel - Son No.1
  • Indo Fair Traders
  • Organic Vanilla
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  • Indonesian Blogs in English
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  • Milk Tea Girl - poems and stuff
  • Bitching Babe - another slice
  • Café Salemba - ekonomi +
  • Enda Nasution - The Guv'nor
  • Aroeng Binang - a neighbour
  • Harry Nizam H. - legal practitioner
  • Ethereal Shards - youthful ponderings
  • Muli's Commune - defunct but good links
  • Isman H. Suryaman - not a 'Fool'
  • Rasyad A. Parinduri - ekonomi
  • Tasa Nugraza Barley - returned from the USA
  • Indonesia Anonymus - infrequent but always good

  • Indonesian Expats
  • Naz - a "12.5% Indonesian" in Norway
  • Bleu - in Malaysia
  • Anita - in Scotland
  • Maya - in Antibes
  • The Writer - in Denmark
  • Spew-It-All - in Australia
  • Jennie Bev - in SF
  • Rima Fauzi - in Belgium
  • Nadia Febina - in Angola
  • Society of Spectacle - in Berlin
  • Overseas Think Tank - for Indonesia
  • Indonesians Living Abroad Forum - as it says in the title

  • Expat Bloggers in Indonesia
  • PJ Bali - oil worker
  • Mat Solo - Malaysian oil worker
  • Jenny Q - an expat wife
  • Dr Bruce - retired teacher in Bali
  • Spruiked - Brett's take on things
  • Indoprism - an expat family
  • Java Jive - original photoblog (now in the Phillipines)
  • Amor Fati - good links
  • Metro Mad - Jakarta Globe columnist
  • Rob Baiton - back in Oz
  • Jakarta Kid - about street kids
  • Green Stump - in Kalimantan
  • Most Curious - née Betty Loves Blogging
  • The Mad Rotter - Henk loves Indonesian music
  • Duncan Graham - journo archives
  • Hardship Posting - more wtf
  • Indonesia Matters - loads of stuff
  • The Opinionated Diner - and NZ music
  • Patrick Guntensperger - has opinions on current issues

  • Selected Aseanist Blogs
  • SARAwho? - Southeast Asia Aggregator
  • Pelf-ism is Contagious
  • Brommel - usually in Indonesia
  • Friskodude - SF travel writer
  • Klong Walking - an Addick in Bangkok
  • Agam's Gecko - musings from Thailand

  • London Blogs
  • Diamond Geezer
  • London Daily Nature Photo
  • London Bloggers Tube Map

  • Other Fave Blogs
  • Aangirfan - who is s/he?
  • Ad Busters - ecological economic sense
  • Samizdata.net
  • Strange Games
  • The J-Walk Blog
  • Environmental Graffiti

  • Charlton
  • Doctor Kish
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  • Official Charlton site
  • Addickted to Blogs
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  • I'm an Aging Hippie
  • Man
  • XTC
  • World Changing
  • MoonJune Records
  • Canterbury Sounds

  • My Youth
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  • Charlton Lido
  • Charlton House
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  • Severndroog Castle
  • Overlapping Memories
  • More Overlapping Memories
  • Map of My Stomping Ground

  • Put Your Feet Up
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