Thursday, November 30, 2006
  Wot A Bunch of Bankers

I've got an HBSC credit card. In fact I've got two because they said I could have one for free, but I don't like them because they're dangerous and debt is the cause of misery for umpteen millions the world over. I remain in credit because it's a bloody hassle paying any bills in this country, even via those magical mobile phones which can be preprogrammed to microwave your dinner as well as your brain.

The only time I've used the card is for magazine subscriptions through the internet. However, thanks to my erstwhile employers who are being more than recalcitrant in paying me what they say they owe me (let alone the legal claim for compensation), I could well be in urgent need of cash, for example if I have an emergency back in Blighty.

So, what's my PIN?

This morning I hailed a couple of mikrolets and wended my way to the HBSC Card Centre in the WTC and tried to log in with the Personal Identification Number I thought I'd remembered and discovered I hadn't. So I trotted upstairs to the area euphemistically called Customer Service.

Ok, I say, I've forgotten my PIN. Please issue me a new one. I gave my ID including my date of birth, my mother's maiden name, my KITAS, shoe size and the information that tailors ask for ~ I dress on the right, if you must know. This all tallied with what is on the HBSC computer.

This will take two weeks, they tell me. TWO WEEKS??? They're sitting there with a computer system which is far superior to the one I'm using for this diatribe and their's is networked.

So, I say, you know that I am who I say I am and, I tell them, I'm also Jakartass and if you don't use your computerised system, paid for, I point out, from the horrendous interest charged to customers, then I'll write about it here.

Ah, but we have procedures, I'm told. Two bloody weeks to change a PIN when they could be charging me interest? This is the Lack of Customer Service Department, I say. They're perpetually on the phone exhorting me to take advantage of 'special offers' and their monthly account includes a pamphlet offering discounts at hyper-expensive boutiques.

Bullshit, I say. Following procedures is the perennial excuse used by the henchmen of genocidal maniacs the world over and is no longer acceptable. Customers pay the salaries of all bank staff everywhere so screw 'procedures' I say.

Of course, I got nowhere, except here.

And now I'm left with one question.

How come my erstwhile employers didn't follow the procedures they made for themselves, procedures I agreed to?


1:00 pm |
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
  Postscript to Boggler (below)

I think the following comment about the explosion of the mains gas pipe running through the volcanic mudflow at Sidoarjo should be published openly, if only because this information backs up and adds another complexion to the mode (lack?) of thinking which seems all-pervasive here.

Miner wrote on the 26th :
Halliburton warned them months ago (when it had already dropped a foot). The American embassy warned them. Engineers warned them. Nothing was done due to the perceived costs of moving it. So, it was left there.

SBY did tell Bakrie that if it went he would hold him personally responsible.
(NB. Bakrie has so far held on to his position, as Minister of Social Welfare (sic = sick joke?) because he bankrolled SBY for the final push towards the presidency.)

Times have changed. Watch the news as the East Java government is under pressure from Bakrie and SBY and are now considering bailing out Lapindo.

Except that on the 28th, VP Kalla said (source: Jakarta Post) that the Bakrie family, still owners of Lapindo Brantas which has 50% of the gas block, and the Panigoro family, 50.7% owners of Medco Energi Internasional which has 32% of the block, will be responsible for paying compensation to the (currently) 12,000 displaced residents and the industries and the relocation of the now inoperable Perong-Gempol toll road and ....

The latter is no problem. As Kalla said, "Spending Rp.1.5 billion is nothing for the families and I am sure of their financial capacity to relocate the turnpike."

But what about the 1.5 billion dollars for the other costs?

Ah, now that?s where it?s starting to get interesting. By all accounts on the gossip grapevine, the Bakrie Brothers are trying to squeeze extra monies out of their other, extensive, interests. These include shopping malls whose tenants may no longer be able to afford the extra costs they're being billed. These tenants are understandably somewhat reticent to step forward publicly and state their predicament.

Kalla also said, "The Bakrie and Panigoro families are respected and have true nationalism."

That's good to know, but hardly relevant I would have thought. After all, the Bakrie clan did try to offload their responsibilities to a company, Freehold Group Ltd, registered in the Cayman Islands. However, Freehold have now pulled out of the deal citing "the controversy surrounding the plan".

Can't say I blame them.


10:00 pm |
  A Bit of 'Fluff'

Growing up in 60's London meant having to put up with parental choice of radio programmes. And we all had to put up with really boring stuff like Housewives Choice and Worker's' Playtime. (You can hear a sample here.)

But my dad made me a crystal wireless set with headphones so I could listen to Radio Luxembourg on 208 under the bed sheets.

Its cultural influence in the UK was immense and it is rightly regarded as one of the main forces for the popularisation of rock'n'roll in Britain; those who equate popular culture with politics argue that this is ironic for a station based in mainland Europe.

In the 1960s the station had to compete against the pirate radio stations located closer to the UK on ships or abandoned World War II sea forts, and was disadvantaged by its inability to broadcast by day. The tendency of its signal to keep fading in and out also put many listeners off.

Ah, but the music .....

Alan 'Fluff' Freeman, who died on Monday aged 79, was one of the first voices I heard. He joined the BBC in 1960 and only came back into my hearing when he presented Pick Of The Pops, first on the BBC Light programme and then on BBC Radio 1 which was set up in 1967 to replace the pirate stations.

He later hosted the Saturday Rock Show featuring music from the progressive, hard rock and heavy metal genres from 1973 until September 1978. Acts featured were diverse as Pink Floyd, Jean Michel Jarre, Jethro Tull, Caravan, Genesis, Steve Hackett, Yes, King Crimson and Vangelis.

I don't recall anyone else playing those genres; most stuck with pop and the top forty, so his shows were a relief from the muzak of those times. His nickname, incidentally, alluded to a fluffy sweater he used to wear rather than his choice of music, his delivery or catch phrases. Not arf.

His passing is not as sad as that of John Peel a couple of years ago; John was still playing the music he liked to his public whereas Fluff was in a rest home for aged performers and blasting out his true musical love, opera.

But, hey pop pickers, I bet every British newspaper will have his oblt on their front pages today.


11:00 am |
Monday, November 27, 2006
  Living in Sin ...
...... has to be much nicer than living here.

I've recently discovered a lst of Living in ... links set up by Elmer, a Filipino living in HK. He's feeling the strain of being a single expat ~ I wish I had a wife and kids to relate to. Wouldn't it be good to end the day looking forward to going home and play with the kids and share your day's good and bad sides with your loved one? I guess that's what makes a day worth enduring when you see smiling faces despite a tiring day at the office ~.so he's explored the world of expat bloggers.

Living in HK

Cooking at home is a healthier (if cooking the right food) option and saves you money compared to eating out especially if you have a family. Typical cost of going out is at HK$15 for breakfast and about HK$25 for lunch or HK$30 for dinner. Having to eat out on weekends and spending about HK$40 daily on weekdays will bring us to roughly HK$2,800 per month including extras like beer, tea, bread or yum cha.

Elmer's site is a mixture of prosaic and useful, but hardly entertaining. Cheer up, mate!

Living in London

We're back in London.
It was a particularly pleasant train ride this morning. We waited in the Eurostar Business Premier Salon at Gare du Nord for the first time and it's really nice. It really makes waiting for the train much more pleasant.
John watched dvd's on his computer for most of the ride while I just listened to my iPod, which is what I always do. A quick taxi ride from Waterloo Station and we're home!
Wow, what a fun week. I'm more in love with Paris than ever. I think it's the most beautiful city in the world.

There are many good Living In London blogs written by Londoners: this isn't one of them.

Check out Diamond Geezer who is consistently interesting and informative, even for an Arsenal supporter.

Living in Singapore

This week I have mostly been bathed in Christmas lights, as has most of the island. In fact if one is to believe the papers, and we are certainly encouraged to here, then over 6 km of Christmas lights are now twinkling away until January. This means 1/7 of the length of the island and a bit over a third of the width is lit up. Pretty impressive stuff as was the effort from Tangs department store who has managed to find that elusive biblical statement that says Christmas is in fact a commercial exercise and nothing to do with any religious beliefs.

It came from Matthew apparently.

A healthy dose of cynicism.

Living in Jakarta

And, yes, it's Jakartass. I'm flattered, especially as my blogging has recently been more sporadic than at any time since I started. But that's because I've been busy writing.

What's more, I've been writing about living In Jakarta as I've been commissioned to update Derek Bacon's tome Culture Shock - Jakarta.

A number of fellow bloggers have contributed to my knowledge and will have their names, or pseudonames, in print some time next year. Occasionally I'll be asking for help.

Like now. If there are any local (preferably Jakarta-based) expats reading this who have a car and drive it, or a motorbike, could you please email me the procedures for a. claiming ownership, if that's possible and b. getting a driving license.

Both the official (legal) and accepted procedures would be of interest.


9:30 am |
Saturday, November 25, 2006

Jigsaws, crosswords, Rubik's cubes, spot the differences, those interlocking nail thingies, word squares, logic. Some, if not all, of these were featured at the recent 15th Annual World Puzzle Championships.

Will Shortz, the neatly mustachioed crossword editor of the New York Times, who is also the editor of more than 350 books of crosswords, sudoku and kakuro, and who performs the role, on the American team, of an endlessly upbeat motivational coach said, "I believe we are living in a golden age of puzzles."

So do (k) you?

I don't think there was an Indonesian team there, probably because a different form of logic is applied here, one that can't even solve the following riddles.


A couple of years ago, I wrote about our closest cousins in Thailand. They had been smuggled out of their natural habitat in Kalimantan and Sumatra as young orphans and then trained as kick boxers to entertain the masses. After national and international campaigns, 48 have now returned to Indonesia. Five other are too sick to travel yet. They will all need lots of TLC, medical treatment and retraining if they are ever to be returned to the forests which are their natural home.

As has been widely reported, their natural home has been decimated by fires. It has been estimated that 1,000 Orangutans have been killed.

Willie Smits, a founder of the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) project, said that the forest fires killed many Orangutans and drove many others closers to human settlements, where they were killed by people, who consider them as pests.

Rescue 48, kill 1,000. Go figure that one.


The mudflow in Sidoarjo, East Java has been widely reported. Running through the site is a pipeline carrying gas to Surabaya, a major city, and to power stations.

As the mudflow has been ongoing since May and more than 10,000 people have so far been displaced by the mud, gushing at a rate of 50,000 cubic metres (1.75 million cubic feet) a day, the ground has subsided as much as five feet because of this and the mud is hot, very hot, most folk would assume that the pipeline was at risk.

Yet an explosion on Wednesday seems to have taken everyone by surprise. Being wise after the event is no consolation for the families of the, at least, eleven people killed, one of whom cannot be identified after being burned beyond recognition.

"We don't know exactly why the gas pipe exploded but the effect of the blast stopped gas distribution for Surabaya and Gersik," said Sukadi, Pertamina's gas transmission chief for East Java distribution.

Really? Sukadi, isn't aware of the explosive properties of gas? Or that the pipeline he is is responsible for has been at risk as long as six months? Others do.

Basuki Hadimulyono, head of the national team tackling the mud flow, told Reuters, "The soil layer in the centre of the Banjar Panji well, from where the hot mud constantly flows, subsided and then it curved. Thus it pressed the 28-inch pipes which broke and the gas escaped into the air."

Retno Rudi Novrianto, another official from the mud team, said it was likely the pipes cracked: "Since the gas pipes are high pressure ones, it produced a big blast."

Good thinking, Retno. The rest of us will now try to work out the riddle of why the various agencies weren't pooling their knowledge and why the gasline hadn't been moved.

A Boggled Mind



11:00 am |
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
This is the mast head of Jakarta's new newspaper. Except it isn't really; it's just that it's been a few years, 262 to be precise, since the last issue. In fact, it probably isn't very readable because it reads in old-fashioned lettering but not in Bahasa Indonesia or English, but just to show how up-to-date it is, there's an accompanying blog which is in modern languages and includes, thanks guys, Jakartass in its blogroll.

Apart from mentioning my birthday, I rarely dwell on the past; I merely moan about the present. And, yes, I do believe that nostalgia is what it used to be. So for that reason alone, I'm giving a permanent link to another new site, Old Jakarta, which has some fascinating articles to prove that Jakarta was once a city which was quite pleasant to live in with strangely familiar parallels, albeit mirrored.

An Indisch family was usually of an odd combination: a white man who took a native lady as his mistress. The mistress was called a njai and became an important element in the Dutch East Indies, filling in for the lack of white females in the establishment.

Naturally, a njai would take advantage of this unofficial relationship. Their white 'masters' would frequently shower them love and compassion. However, through the eyes of the Dutch justice system, the njai did not have one single right before the law. Most of the times, a njai had limited opportunity to communicate with her own children, borne from this unbalanced relationship. So, she always had to cautiously watch herself, as at anytime her master could oust her, due to his not wanting the children to be affected by kampong influence.

Now, of course, it's we expats who have to cautiously watch out in case we get booted out the country and have to return to our kampungs.


8:00 pm |
Monday, November 20, 2006
  Bush Whacked

As I start typing this George Bush II is just arriving at nearby Halim Airport. He's going to have a chat with the USA Ambassador in an anteroom before boarding a helicopter and flying down to Bogor where, presumably, SBY is waiting and it's raining.

That last point is important because it's put off the waiting demonstrators.

"They are just making noises playing to the gallery," Juwono Sudarsono, the Indonesian defense minister, said of the protesters. "Anti-Americanism is a high-tech industry." (High-tech umbrellas? I want one!)

One of the things they've been protesting about, ignoring the American adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan, is the building of two helipads, costing about $650,000 each according to the Jakarta Post, in historic Bogor Palace grounds. Helipads which they've just discovered won't support the weight of the American chopper he'll be in - codename: Chopper 1? - and the other one presumably carrying his security detail and chef.

GB has arrived from Vietnam where he didn't do much except waffle at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

The primary focus of Bush's trip to Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam is to increase American business and trade involvement in Asia, and to explore mutual efforts to pursue energy alternatives to fossil fuels and to combat disease.

He harped on about fighting terrorism without considering the socio-economic factors underpinning its causes. Which is just as well, because although the Indonesian armed forces, known as the TNI, have long been seen as the only institution capable of preventing the country of 7,000 disparate islands from fragmenting along geographical and ethnic lines, there will apparently be no discussions about increased military ties.

Nope, he's going to be Mister Nice Guy. In a joint press conference with SBY, Bush is expected to stress a U.S. desire for stronger ties with Indonesia and promise that U.S. friendship goes beyond the help Americans gave the country after the killer tsunami of nearly two years ago.

As proof, he will cite $55 million in U.S. aid for anti-corruption and child immunisation programmes.

How generous. (I wonder how much of the anti-corruption aid has been siphoned off.)

It was originally said that he'd be in Indonesia for ten hours; now it's said to be only six. The town of Bogor has stopped working for the day, with all schools and many businesses shut and a no cellphone zone around Bogor palace. Who knows what the cost to the economy will have been? "$55 million"?

Here in Jakarta, all police leave has been cancelled judging by the numbers I've seen today. I hope they get paid overtime. Extra special security is in force, including, as seen on live TV, snipers.

Once all the palaver is done, Bush and his entourage fly off to Hawaii making for one hell of a long day. This leaves the one obvious question: if nothing of substance is going to be achieved here, why wasn't a meeting arranged in Hanoi on the sidelines of the APEC summit?


4:30 pm |
Sunday, November 19, 2006
  Crap, Absolute Crap

And those are the most positive words I can think of to describe Charlton's abject performance yesterday. I started off thinking how fortunate I was to discover Indovision's hidden channel which seems to exist on Saturday evenings to show just the one match; now I wish I hadn't.

If the lads can't show enough desire to play for their pay when I don't currently have any, why should I torture myself further. Yep, that's enough, 'til next week anyway.

Meanwhile, for blogging Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono hope remains. Mind you, he does have a much larger community in mind than mine. He believes that Indonesia's democracy can be salvaged and made sustainable ... within the next 3 years (and) that the threat of radical and violent extremism can be mitigated ... as democracy is underpinned by broad based social-economic development.

Well, that's good news then; Indonesia has at least one government minister with common sense. What is more, Sudarsono then quotes himself from a Reuter's report to say that SBY is also on the same track.

"He is determined to ensure that democracy is socially and economically more accessible to those who have yet to be lifted from abject poverty," says Sudarsono. "That in itself will reduce the appeal of radical ideologies, be they be religious or secular-based ."

Another Indonesian blogger, Bambang Aroengbinang, is kind enough to give Jakartass a permanent link. A part time lecturer of Graduate Program at BINUS Univ. and Head of Ethical Medical (eh? Does he market jamu?)) he writes about the condition known as unemployment, the socio-economic problem threatening the foundations of democracy here.

I shouldn't be proud to be an unemployed person, but I shouldn't be ashamed either since I did nothing wrong. I committed no crime. My only crime was I had no income. Besides, I could get and do things that working people might not be able to get or do. The struggle to survive was one of the most precious experiences in life.

Well, I'm sorry. My current condition is not a "precious experience". If it is, I could do without it, but it may yet prove 'precious' to the forces behind my condition. Precious in the sense that in future they will have to adhere to the labour laws of this country, weak though they are, and precious in the sense that they will no longer be able to act totally arbitarily.

Democracy in its widest sense is the involvement of all within a community. It's not just about voting for the man (or woman) with the silkiest words and purse. It's about participation and a belief that we can all be stakeholders in our communities. That this country is amending its laws and beginning to ensure that they are enforced to enable democracy is totally commendable.

And I'm doing my bit with my team of lawyers so all should be right with my world. And it would be even better if the football team I support through the accident and rites of birth.recognised and reciprocated the support they have.


9:30 am |
Thursday, November 16, 2006
  happines in this life ...
...... is an elegant spelling mistake.

It crops up on every page of the website of a new (to me anyway) dating service in town ~ Table for 2 - Jakarta.

A lot of time and effort has gone into this website. After all, Table for 2 is the premier dating service for busy working professionals and entrepreneurs who have been too busy to find romance.

How It Does Work
Clients are pre-screened by dating consultants assessing their compatibility, to identify potential matches among the clientele. After a potential match is established, Table for 2's dating consultants arrange the clients' lunch or dinner date at an affiliated restaurant and later follow up with the client to evaluate the date, thus continuously improving the client's dating criteria.

new beginnings to true love and ......... Yes, yes .... and what??

This got me to thinking about my dating criteria. Of course, and in case 'Er Indoors gets to read this, this is all now in the past. Nearly all of my dates have been circumstantial, a date after a meeting, a meeting after a meeting as it were. There have been friends of friends and blind dates. The latter were the best as they couldn't see me.

A NSFW digression here.
Some 15 years ago, we went to a wedding in Sukabumi, a town to the southeast of Jakarta. It was a weekend do and we were put up in a hotel. Each room had large mirrors, on all four walls and the ceiling. This was really a shame because I can't see without my glasses, and I take them off in bed.

Anyway, as I was about to say before I interrupted myself, I was once a member of Operation Dateline (NB. NOT this one!), a very early computer dating operation in London. Insofar as initial flirting went, with the exchange of letters describing how we would walk barefoot in the park and other lovey-dovey stuff, it was fine and a few dates were arranged.

There was one girl who was appalled at my choice of a coffee bar, Le Macabre which had coffin lids as table tops, in Soho, the Blok M of London. Then there was another lass who was hoping I'd join her in a mud bath; she had it ready and I fled. And then there was the lass who went off and married my flatmate. There's no accounting for taste.

Which got me wondering, too, about Table for 2's "affiliated restaurants". I checked to see if there are any serving vegetarian fodder.

There are Japanese ~ serving original Okinawan Food creatively prepared by Japanese Chef, simply perfect for those who are aurally sophisticated. (Eh?)

And Thai ~ one of the city's most extravagant Thai restaurants ... offers a glimpse of savoring exquisite Thai cuisine in a defining contemporary ambiance." (Just a glimpse? What if you're both hungry?)

And French Cuisine which has set the standard of high quality service and presentation, renowned and acclaimed throughout world as origin of the food and beverage industry in europe. (Quite.)

But no Indian, which means that I wouldn't want a date arranged by Table for 2.

let us be the one to open your ......... wallet?

And I won't be signing up in order to get my discount card, for that is what this is. The Dating Service is surely secondary to getting members who'll be paying over the odds for their membership in order to get 10 or 15% discounts for ultra-expensive meals, beauty treatments and luxury goods.

I can't see the romance in shopping. Music, however, is the food of love so if you're looking for somewhere to take your date, consider this. JakJazz is back and is stepping up a gear and will re-launch its 8th edition and expand its high calibre image, therefore extending the festival's position as a one-of-a-kind jazz festival.

Next weekend, the 24th, 25th and 25th November, at Istora Senayan in Central Jakarta (a good venue), will be your chance to swoon to valium jazzers Phil Perry and Ernie Watts, classy diva Salena Jones, noted Indonesian jazzers such as Indra Lesmana, Bubi Chen, Kiboud Maulana and Luluk Purwanto, and lots of Japanese musicians I haven't heard of, except one - Kazumi Watanabe.

The first time I saw him, at JakJazz '88 when it was held at Ancol, his storming electric guitar blew us away. Who is this guy? we asked ourselves as we stood rooted to the spot, gobs agape. Backed with drums and acoustic double-bass, his dynamic invention was far beyond the smooch crooning of Phil Perry who was also there.

Unfortunately, I'll miss this year's gigs: I've got a date. But I really do hope the weekend will demonstrate that there is a demand for live music. Be there and let me know what I'll have missed.


4:30 pm |
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
  Gizza job

One of my claims to fame is that Alan Curbishley's successor as manager of the Addicks, Iain Dowie was nicknamed Monica, by me.

And now he's gone. That's all I know at midnight there and seven in the morning here, except it can't have helped that Charlton are rooted to the bottom of the Premiership having won only 2 out of 12 matches so far. Mind you, it does look as if we're going to be in the semi-finals of the once-it-was-called League Cup.

No manager of the club, or any club, has lasted for so short a time, and it's not as if Monica had lost the faith of the fans. So we'll have to wait for a few hours for the reasons why. I sympathise with the man though; believe me, I do know what it's like to lose a paid position before the end of the season.

I hope he doesn't have to wait for his pay-off as long as me.


7:00 am |
Monday, November 13, 2006
  Bomb in Jakarta

I've got friends and family heading this way over the next two or three weeks. Then there's Jen in Queensland arriving in January to live the expat lifestyle with her family for a couple of years.

You will have heard of a small bomb being set off in an A & W junk food outlet in a newly opened shopping mall.

"It is too early to say whether this was the work of Jemaah Islamiyah (JL)", not least because, if the aim was to cause chaos and to encourage martyrdom in the name of .... who knows what?, the target does not seem to have strategic value and the bomber and his bomb were relatively insignificant.

JL is seemingly moving away from indiscriminate bombings and has moved towards the traditional religious view that bombings are unlawful unless there is immediate danger to the Muslim community of believers. This is not to say that there are not cells of radicals who do not approve of the direction that JL is now.seemingly taking.

Apparently the 36 year old bomber, Muhammad Nuh, was an admirer of Dr. Azahari, Jemaah Islamiyah's top bomb-maker, who was killed last year in a police raid. However, Jakartass can state categorically that the bomber was a total incompetent. I can also state that he still is, because he's now lying in hospital about to be interrogated by Jakarta's finest.

Anti-terror official Budi Cahyono said that the suspect was apparently acting alone and that . officers seized two bombs ready for detonation from his rented house, together with powder explosives, cables and a timer, but "nothing that could not have been bought at an ordinary market."

According to one TV report, the suspect's mother died earlier this year and he was extremely upset. The bomb did minimal damage: it cracked a window, and only injured the bomber who has now recovered consciousness.

And why A & W? It suffers from an image problem as its products, apart from root beer, are not mentioned with the same awe or opprobrium as Ronald's or the Colonel's. The newly renovated mall is in an area of Jakarta, Kramat Jati, which most expats would have problems finding. However, it has now become a minor tourist attraction for the residents of East Jakarta

So this is not the start of a campaign. There is no need for governments to issue travel warnings, except possibly to George Bush II. He is due in Indonesia in a week or so and can expect a very hot reception, not least because drought conditions continue. Oh, and the protests and demonstrations against his visit which have already begun.


9:30 am |
Saturday, November 11, 2006
  A Green Indonesia Day.


7:30 pm
Friday, November 10, 2006
  We can be heroes ~ just for one day

So sang David Bowie and I suppose those few words are appropriate today, which is Hari Pahlawan (National Heroes Day). I'm not going to argue with SBY's choice of eight dead freedom fighters who have belatedly been designated National Heroes. I suppose that sixty years after the event has been sufficient time to evaluate their efforts, especially as the list includes four sultans and a couple of hajis, who were presumably pretty prominent in their heroic endeavours.

Not to belittle that list, I hereby humbly offer my own.

There was the young lass on my no. 46 bus rattling her homemade tambourine with a suckling child on her hip. Her singing was woefully out of tune, but I awarded her Rp.1,000 for her bravery in being there.

I have lived in the same house for nigh on 19 years. Several of my neighbours have lived here longer; we've watched each other's kids growing up. And we have shared the same electricity meter reader and the same postman in all that time. A commitment to a community is worthy of respect.

There's Ibu E., a local headmistress who didn't have a day off during the summer break. I asked her when she expected to have a holiday and she told me that she is due to retire in six years. Her dedication, and that of all teachers who, by encouraging their students to think, show they care, should be rewarded.

The above all contribute to society, albeit modestly without overt altruism. In my book, they are all heroes.

And there is a genuine heroine: Suciwati, the widow of the assassinated human rights activist, Munir.

How long must she continue to fight for closure? How long before the evildoers behind his murder are brought to book? She has lobbied worldwide and now that the Democrats in the Good Ol' USA have formed an opposition to George Bush II, it is beginning to look that Indonesia must heed calls for a resolution to the matter.

For Suciwati, this is not just a fight to find her husband's murderers; it's a challenge to the arrogant authorities who can act out of self interest rather than that of the state they are supposedly working for. Munir was a patriot; his killers weren't, and for that reason alone Suciwati is a national hero.


4:00 pm |
Thursday, November 09, 2006
  I'm a coward

Because I'm extremely myopic, over six feet tall, not financially flush and a coward to boot, I've never owned or driven a car. Back in Blighty, I did enjoy driving hither and thither on my MZ 250, a bike that was my size and very easy to dismantle and reassemble, but there's no way I'd want to join the hordes of Hell's Cherubs on Jakarta's streets (and sidewalks).

I have, therefore, been spared the paranoia of being stopped by a traffic cop in order to contribute to his welfare fund. However, with a commission to write about such experiences I would be grateful for personal accounts, particularly from the expat viewpoint, about the following:
Please email me with your contributions. Your help may save lives or get you a published acknowledgement. If we meet, then I'll buy you a beer.



10:30 am |
Monday, November 06, 2006
  Scraping For Scraps

Some of you may think that Jakartass is my raison d'être, my sole purpose in life. I wish it were, but there is a family and a football club in more urgent need of my support. Hence my recent sporadic posting, a trend which, perforce, must continue.

I'm accepting nearly all offers of work which come my way, but these are few and far between because it's that time of year. When they do come, needs must.

I am continuing my writing, but here too it's not just for Jakartass or Green Indonesia. Apart from briefing my lawyers, at some length it must be said, I've also been commissioned to write, well rewrite (to rewrite well?) an out-of-date guide book. More on that later.

So this little post is more of an au revoir than an adieu.
See you whenever.


2:00 am |
Friday, November 03, 2006
  I've Been Flagged

----- Original Message -----
From: Dominic
To: Jakartass
Sent: Wednesday, November 01, 2006 11:37 AM
Subject: In-accurate comments about me


Why have you created
this page? http://jakartass.blogspot.com/2006/02/too-good-to-be-true-this-is-text-of.html

I DO donate money to any site that will link to my sites. Its not spam I sent this personally to you and can prove it by screen grabbing Outlook or my server logs.

I want this removed as Its totally inaccurate, I do alot of "ethical" business on this email address.

I have also flagged this page and will continue to do so until its removed.

I have also sent a copy of this email to blogger who I would hope will take action against hosting in-accurate, slandourous comments.


Why has it taken him nine months to find the page in my archives? Has he changed his ways since then? (The answer's no.)

This was the opening to his original email, which I posted back in February:


Ive just visited your site looks nice, I am looking to donate anywere from $40 - $100 to your not for profit website.

I will be happy to make a donation via paypal.

The only requirments are the site gets good traffic and is well regarded by the major search engines such as google and MSN, In return for the donation I simply ask for a link back to one of our sites.

A modicum of research shows that in order to receive a 'donation' this scumbag offers subscriptions for $25 Per month.

This will subscribe you to a per month subscription via paypal. You are under NO contract and can cancel your subscription at anytime.

When he originally wrote PayPal was not available to Indonesian websites. It is now, as of last month, but considering that I'm not selling anything, apart from my opinions, and that there are only a couple of links to businesses run by friends, a. why should I join PayPal and b. why should I link to sites which are in no way connected to Jakartass?

And pay for the privilege.

I don't like unethical business leeches, especially those who try to leech off me, but following receipt of the email which starts off this page, I wrote:

----- Original Message -----
From: Jakartass
To: Dominic (Chauy.com)
Sent: Thursday, November 02, 2006 4:06 PM
Subject: Re: In-accurate comments about me

Hi Dominic.

So how much will you pay me?


Which I think you'll agree is a fair question as I'm only responding to his original offer, except .....

----- Original Message -----
From: Dominic (Chauy.com)
To: Jakartass
Sent: Friday, November 03, 2006 4:51 AM
Subject: Re: In-accurate comments about me

What do you mean how much will I pay you?

I wont pay you anything...

If you refuse to remove it I'll just post a full report about the whole incident on my 500+ popular blogs and leave your email on all the pages unprotected.

Your not holding me to ransom!!!!


That's true, I'm not holding him to ransom.
The word is 'ridicule'.

Oh, and I hope he does post my URL on his "500+ popular blogs". I'd be interested to hear from others who don't blog for financial gain and would be pleased to expose this leech.

After all, he can't write coherently or grammatically, nor can he spell. So why should he make money from those of us who can?

And as for leaving my email on all those pages unprotected ...... well, if I get spammed then it's not me who'll find himself not only operating unethically but also illegally.


11:30 am |
Thursday, November 02, 2006
  A Benchmark

Some thirty years ago, I lived in West Cumbria in north-west England. The whys and wherefores as to how I ended up there don't matter, but I did get involved in the local branch of Friends of the Earth which pushed for the Windscale Inquiry into the proposed nuclear reprocessing plant and 'won' the only points awarded by Lord Justice Parker.

This had, and still has international ramifications. But it was at the local level I wish to dwell in this post. Because it was this level, the local NGO, which changed national perceptions.

In the late 70's at the beginning of the long reign of Maggie Thatcher unemployment was rife. So much so that a number of short-term employment programmes were set up to reduce the length of the dole (unemployment benefit) queues. John Preedy had an idea.

Why didn't we set up a labour-intensive project to recycle glass containers?

You have to understand that West Cumbria was then and, I understand still is, a wasteland. It was an area which at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution provided raw iron ore which got smelted using the Bessemer process, which was first used in the area. With coal from the Haig Pit, the deep undersea coal mine at Whitehaven, to provide energy, the Workington Steel Works proved profitable until August this year.

This area had seen a long and sad decline for nigh on forty or more years before I moved up there, which is why it proved suitable for Windscale, which must be the subject of another post; not this one.

I got involved with Friends of the Earth - West Cumbria (FoE-WC) because ... well I lived there and I knew my anti-nuclear credentials would not enable me to get a living wage at Windscale so, living on the dole as I was, I had little to lose. And that's where I met John Preedy. Deeds not words was his credo, something which I appreciated because my primary school, Charlton Manor, had its Latin translation Res Non Verba as the school motto was emblazoned on our blazer badges.

I liked John but to be honest I did think that the local authority, responsible for waste disposal, should have initiated any recycling scheme. But they wouldn't. In the late 70's few local authorities would have had the gumption. So FoE-WC went ahead and rented a disused warehouse with a rail siding and set about collecting bottles, jam jars and other glass containers. These were then sorted by hand by temporary workers paid for by Maggie Thatcher's government, which had probably forced them into redundancy in the first place.

The sorted glass was loaded into rail trucks and then shipped off to wherever it was melted down and reblown into bottles, jam jars and other glass containers. And such was the success of this project that soon static bottle banks were seen in every borough throughout the land and Brit folk began to understand that they could be responsible for what they used of the Earth's resources.

I may have disagreed at the time with John's tactics, although we shared a vision. I just wasn't so single-minded. He cared, and a care shared had the power to move millions. I know that now, but I certainly didn't see John, unassuming as he was, as such a person. He was probably the least cynical person I've ever known.

He worked, as I recall, for the Cumbria Water Authority which was responsible for the Lakes. Also, as I recall, he lived a single and single-minded life in Workington. Our FoE-WC base was in Whitehaven and our weekly? monthly? meetings were in pubs in Whitehaven, Cleator Moor, Cockermouth or wherever was convenient. I had a motorbike; John had a push bike.

A couple of years after I had left the area and moved back down to London I heard the tragic news that one night on his way back home from Whitehaven to Workington, John had been knocked off his bike by an errant motorist and that he had died instantly. My instant response was to send FoE-WC a fairly large cheque with the request that the next time the group met they should go the local pub, buy a round and give thanks for his life.

It seemed an appropriate gesture, but they didn't follow through with that. My contribution had gone into a fund to have a bench made, a wooden seat with memorial plaque, overlooking John's favourite view. I don't know where it is; it doesn't matter.

What does, is that folk who wander the Cumbrian fells will rest awhile, admire the view and wonder how one person could have been so respected that he will always be remembered. It's not just me who was touched by him; he made a difference to our lives. His one small step involved us all and his influence can be felt today..

There is an annual John Preedy Memorial Lecture, but I'm sure, modest man that he was, that John would have felt that the bench was more his mark.


10:00 pm |
Alien Thoughts from Home

Home Thoughts from Abroad

Interactive World Time

Indonesian Dictionary

Indonesian Acronyms

Indonesian Slang

Learn Indonesian

Currency Converter

Email Me

The WeatherPixie

5 Day Forecast

Get Firefox!

  • West Sumatra Earthquake Aid Agencies
  • Sidoarjo Mud Volcano
  • Reports on Crashes and Sinkings

  • Living in Indonesia
  • Tempo
  • Bugils News
  • Jakarta Post
  • Jakarta Globe
  • Down To Earth
  • Loads of Advice
  • Inside Indonesia
  • Green Indonesia
  • Hobson's Choice
  • Gunung Bagging - New - clamber volcanoes
  • Indonesian Music
  • Indahnesia Online
  • Maps of Indonesia
  • Indonesia For Kids - blog
  • Green Group Links
  • Faces of Indonesia - blog
  • Photos of Indonesia
  • Indonesian Publications
  • International Crisis Group
  • Indonesian Engaged Travel - blog
  • Outside The Indonesian Box - blog
  • Indonesian Corruption Watch
  • News and Events Aggregators
  • Indonesia's Vegetarian Restaurants

  • Living in Jakarta
  • Culture Shock - Jakarta - 'my' book
  • Bataviase - loads of info in Indonesian
  • Rujak.org - for a sustainable Jakarta
  • Jakarta Kid - stories of street kids
  • Jakarta Events - as it says in the title
  • Map of Jakarta
  • Jakarta Nite Out
  • Jakarta Nite Out - for Francophiles
  • Jakarta 100 Bars - as it says in the title
  • Jakarta Java Kini - upmarket magazine
  • Jakarta Urban Blog- as it says in the title
  • Jakarta Green Map
  • Jakarta Daily Photo - as it says in the title
  • Jakarta? Been there!
  • Protecting Jakarta Bay
  • Nightlife - for single guys - check the forums
  • Jakarta Restaurant Reviews - as it says in the title

  • Living in Bali
  • Hector - at Bali Times
  • Bali Spirit
  • Bali Expat Forum
  • 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
  • Merdeka Coffee
  • Pekerti Nusantara

  • Indonesian Blogs in English
  • Top Blogs
  • Merdeka - aggregator
  • Elyani - good stuff
  • Therry - good stuff
  • Om'Bak - group thoughts
  • Yosef Ardi - business gossip
  • Treespotter - his serious blog
  • 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
  • Inspector Sands
  • Forever Charlton
  • Official Charlton site
  • Addickted to Blogs
  • Ex-Charlton forward in Belize

  • I'm an Aging Hippie
  • Man
  • XTC
  • World Changing
  • MoonJune Records
  • Canterbury Sounds

  • My Youth
  • Blackheath
  • Charlton Lido
  • Charlton House
  • Woolwich Ferry
  • Greenwich Park
  • Severndroog Castle
  • Overlapping Memories
  • More Overlapping Memories
  • Map of My Stomping Ground

  • Put Your Feet Up
  • Biscuit of the week
  • 50's British TV Nostalgia
  • Hello Children, Everywhere

  • Enter your Email

    Subscribe with Bloglines

    Locations of visitors to this page


    eXTReMe Tracker

    Listed on BlogShares

    Personal Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

  • May 1998
  • March 2004
  • April 2004
  • May 2004
  • June 2004
  • July 2004
  • August 2004
  • September 2004
  • October 2004
  • November 2004
  • December 2004
  • January 2005
  • February 2005
  • March 2005
  • April 2005
  • May 2005
  • June 2005
  • July 2005
  • August 2005
  • September 2005
  • October 2005
  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • December 2013
  • Creative Commons Licence