Hock Chuan Ong has "Observations about the media, current affairs, communications issues and life in Indonesia."
A journalist and occasional contributor to the Jakarta Post, his thoughts echo mine.
I often wonder about the tolerance level of Indonesians to incompetent authority.
For weeks, the state electricity company PLN ignored my office's requests for them to come repair some electricity cables that were dislodged during a heavy storm in Jakarta.
Finally, tiring of asking for them to do their job we wrote to the Jakarta Post.
Lo and behold! Even before the letter was published we spied some PLN workers outside looking busy trying to fix what they should have done weeks ago. On checking with the Post it seems that one of the editors had tried a whole day to get to PLN to follow up on our inquiry.
The Jakarta Post published Hock's letter one week after he posted the above.
I am now beginning to wonder about the competence of the Post. A month ago I also wrote to them because, you may recall, I was having problems in getting my satellite TV provider to accept my money. I cc'd my email to Indovision and it worked wonders; for a month now I have had a good relationship with their Customer Care division.
Three days ago the Jakarta Post sent me an acknowledgement of my letter requesting proof of my existence (which had been attached to my original email).
In the immortal words of my grandfather, if a job's worth doing, do it yourself. Jakarta Daily Photo is just what it says.
There are photos of shopping malls ~ wow ~ but if you want to know what really goes on in them, read Aussie in Surabaya Mall.
Everything is obtainable ~ for a price.
The New World Atlas is aptly named. I think it's about a parallel universe as it lists Indonesia's main agricultural products as ice (eh?), cassava (tapioca), peanuts, rubber, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, copra; poultry, beef, pork, eggs.
Pork? Don't tell any of the Islamic fundamentalist groups.
Save the Papua Rainforests or Boycott the Olympics.
Following their 'apology' of a couple of days ago, the RainForest Portal has prepared an online petition for sending to the China Olympic Committee.
It is against the Olympic ideals of bringing "people together in peace to respect universal moral principles" when the events are housed in ancient rainforest timbers of questionable legality and morality. To allow millions of years old ancient rainforests to be plundered for the Olympics would be evil and against everything for which the games stand.
The Chinese government must commit to hosting an "old-growth, ancient forest free" Olympics. Should this project go through, myself and rainforest conservation networks worldwide will ensure that this raping of Indonesia's Rainforests for a once off sporting event - a dastardly act anathema to the Olympic Spirit - tarnishes the reputation of China, the Chinese Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee and movement.
I urge every 'green' blogger to network this petition. Above all, perhaps, it is most important that those of us in Indonesia register our protest, if only to build a groundswell of opinion that our greedy politicians have to take note of.
So Chelski have duly won the Premiership without losing at home, not that they won every game.
Let it not be forgotten that manager Alan Curbishley masterminded Charlton's masterful draw in January - "a real team effort" which echoed the Addicks "heroic" defeat of Chelsea in the League Cup in October last year.
But Charlton lost yesterday. We Addicks are waking up to the realisation that we have lost the man who has fed our dreams for 15 years. He has had enough having, perhaps, taken us as far as he is able.
Charlton chairman Richard Murray announced to the Valley crowd ahead of kick-off against Blackburn Rovers that Alan Curbishley is set to leave Charlton at the end of the 2005/06 season.
Murray said,"Fifteen years ago we started on a journey which saw us return here to The Valley in 1992 and then embark on a period of sustained progress and success on and off the field. Throughout the entire period Alan Curbishley has been the manager of this great club.
"He has given us memories that will live with us all forever.
"Promotion to the Premiership in 1998 followed the most dramatic play-off final ever to take place at Wembley Stadium - 4-4 against Sunderland and 7-6 winners on penalties.
"In 2000 we won the First Division Championship in spectacular style. Next season we will start our seventh successive season in the Premiership - the best league in the world."Alan has masterminded all this success and deserves our total admiration.
"When Alan emerges from the tunnel today I would ask each and every one of you to stand and pay tribute to a remarkable man and leave him in no doubt of the genuine affection you all hold for someone who has done so much for our football club and is in my opinion the greatest football manager this club has ever had."
Three minutes before the end of the match, in which, it must be said, the team played very badly, the crowd - including the Blackburn staff - rose as one and started applauding the man, an ovation that lasted minutes after the official end of the match.
There can be few managers in any sport who have engendered such affection and been able to leave on their own terms. Curbs is, at 48, young enough to reach new peaks. Where he goes next ~ England? Newcastle? ~ is immaterial. It's where he's been and where he's taken us which demands and commands respect.
Charlton Athletic are a model club in that the management has been prudent. We're solvent, a valued member of the local community, one which seems to have expanded from London SE7 where I grew up, with education programmes in local schools and outreach projects stretching into Africa and China. A modern model, a club whose team and supporters both top fair play leagues and which other clubs hope to emulate.
I feel proud to be an Addick and so much of that is because Alan Curbishley has been the public face of the only sports club I have ever felt part of.
A month ago I made the audacious statement that the rainforest movement had achieved a victory in protecting Indonesia's rainforests and orangutans from a huge oil palm plantation. I made this statement fully aware that Indonesia's rainforests were in frenzied crisis and hoping that supporting those in government working to conserve rainforests from such atrocities could make a positive difference.
This hope has proven fleeting. I now realize I was wrong, am retracting the victory claim, and have realized there is little or no hope for Indonesia's large and intact ancient rainforests. I apologize for my error.
And now, like Dr. Glen, I don't know what to suggest other than read the in-depth article by Jane Perlez of the New York Times.
The forest-to-palm-oil deal, one of an array of projects that China said it would develop in Indonesia as part of a $7 billion investment spree last year, illustrates the increasingly symbiotic relationship between China's need for a wide variety of raw materials and its Asian neighbors' readiness to provide them - often at enormous environmental cost.
Overall, Indonesia says it expects China to invest $30 billion in the next decade, a big infusion of capital that contrasts with the declining investment here and in the region by American companies.
Much of that Chinese investment is aimed at the extractive industries, along with infrastructure like refineries, railroads and toll roads to help speed the flow of Indonesia's On April 19, Indonesia announced that China had placed a $1 billion rush order for 800,000 cubic meters, or 28.2 million cubic feet, of an expensive red- brown hardwood, called merbau, to be used in construction of its sports facilities for the 2008 Olympic Games.
Merbau wood, mostly prevalent in Papua's virgin forests, has been illegally logged and shipped to China since the late 1990s, stripping large swaths of forest in the Indonesian province on the western side of the island of New Guinea.
The decision to award a $1 billion concession to China would "increase the deforestation of Papua," a place of extraordinary biodiversity, said Elfian Effendy, executive director of Greenomics, an Indonesian environmental watchdog. "It's not sustainable."
WE DO NOT INHERIT THE EARTH - WE STEAL IT FROM OUR CHILDREN
Things happen every day in every way, and one of the ways is in Kerala, south west India. That is where somewhere between 4.30 - 5am (6.30 - 7am Jakarta time tomorrow) myself (Pete), Rahul and Dez will awake from sleep with a feeling in our bellies marking the realisation that the wildest plans can actually come fruition. It will be a golden moment for all of us to remember for the rest of our lives.
The dream is for Pete to run ½ a marathon, everyday, for a month, through Kerala. His two companions will provide logistical support and document the enterprise.
And what's this got to do with Jakartass? Well, first off, Rahul Noble Singh is an anthropologist and travel writer from London, where he is a very good friend of Son Number One.
Secondly, just over 20 years ago I spent six months in India and Kerala was where I stopped. Yep, after the constant stimuli of Indian travel, this state provided space to observe rather than react, a mental oasis. I explored Fort Cochin, gained weight at Kovalam beach, lived with elephants, snapping turtles and vicious spiders (really!) in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and slowly meandered through the incredibly photogenic Kerala backwaters whose tracks Pete will run through.
Then it was all part of the backpackers' banana pancake circuit. Now Kerala is on the international tourist route, but I suspect that Pete and his companions will feel more in tune with their surroundings than the annual exotica seekers. Just don't go too fast guys.
For the next month you can follow them through their website and blog.
I haven't read this book. I was only sent an email, posted a couple of days ago, referring to a couple of reviews. A quick bit of googling tells me that Richard Parry, the author, was correspondent for the British Independent newspaper for the period 1997-1999 covered by this book and has chosen violence as his theme for understanding recent Indonesian history.
Given the short time he was here, he could just as well have chosen kretek cigarettes or herbal medicine as his theme.
I've read a few online reviews of the book by journalists who may have seen a clip of a riot on CNN and none of them seem to portray the societal upheaval that I witnessed in that period. None of them convey the solidarity felt by residents here, but all have that element of touristic voyeurism.
Miko, a long-term resident, a regular reader of Jakartass and occasional commentator, has written the following review. It should save you the expense of buying the book.
Parry's book is a load of onanistic twaddle. While walking through a country in great turmoil all he tells us about is himself, how he is feeling, his emotions, what he is enduring, him, him, him.
A good journalist should be able to report what is happening and convey the scene on the ground in precise objective terms. We couldn't give a flying fart what emotional turmoil they may be enduring, we're not interested no more than I care what the personal emotions of my plumber are as long as he makes a good job of restoring my shower fittings.
Parry tells us that on the morning of the Trisakti shootings he was going to ask his girlfriend to marry him, he tells us how he felt about this and what it would mean for him but then after much agonising he decides not to. Then he goes to the university to watch the demo he stays for an hour or two and then goes back to the hotel where he is told about the shooting. He misses the biggest story in Indonesia in thirty years, but, hey, we know about his domestic situation, sheesh great journo.
In East Timor everyone is cartoonish, the brave, quiet, proud, heroic, romantic Timorese, and the ugly, goonlike, thick, dirty Indonesians none of whom have a redeeming quality.
Of course as soon as the first shots are fired he scarpers for the UN compound and stays there thus having no idea what was going on outside. But we do know that he was tired, emotional and contemplative oh and yes Timorese civilians were being massacred outside the walls. When the first evacuation plane comes he scrambles on board; well, he had no cigarettes left. What do you expect from courageous journalists? He doesn't record how many Timorese women and children he pushed out of the way to get on the plane.
Back in Darwin he agonises for a month in various Irish bars before going back again. This time he sees lots of big burly Aussie and Brit soldiers, whom he clearly doesn't like and describes in insulting terms. You see sensitive souls such as him are offended by men who say "fuck" a lot. He passes over the fact that these brutes were the people who sorted the damn mess out while writers like him were wanking themselves into a coma.
Sorry for the length of this review but I just finished the book last night and I needed to get it off my chest this morning.
Aangirfan comments: In his book, Richard Lloyd Parry makes no mention of the CIA/MI6 role in the toppling of both Sukarno and Suharto.
After a hiatus caused by a combination of Indonesia's ISPs and the downtime of both Blogger and eXtreme-de, my stats provider, I managed to post yesterday's musings this morning. (Don't ask why I was up at 4.30. I don't wish to recognise my insomnia on the grounds that it may be incipient senility.)
But I digress.
I don't have anal retentive urges to compile statistics and to analyse every visit and visitor - although eXtreme-de does give quite extensive information about you. However, I do make a point of seeing where you come from whenever I log on, which is not that frequent given the nature and costs of Indonesian telecommunications.
I don't want any ads on my site unless I've placed them among my links because they're sites of friends.
Worldpress.org is not affiliated with this site or responsible for its content. That's what they say.
Jakartass is not affiliated with Worldpress.org or responsible for its content is what I say. They are bottom feeders of the worst kind. What makes it even worse is that a simple browse through the several layers of their site shows that they seemingly don't even bother to read what they're ripping off.
They give a link to World Blogs New! Naturally I checked out Indonesia.
Now the last time I looked, Blog Indonesia had Jakartass ranked a respectable 35th of the 825 blogs registered. Worldpress lists 7 blogs only, of which only A. Fatih Syuhud and myself are regular bloggers. But they don't list Fatih's Indonesian Blogger of the Week blog but rather his Global Diary which has only two posts this year! I link to Isman in Bandung, but, hey, where are you fella? Nothing since February?
In order of the most recent posts they also list the following blogs:
ericsetiawan.com last updated on March 31st and mainly devoted to the technical aspects of photography.
Mohammad DAMT hasn't posted since 3rd March, but seems to suffer from AAD more than I do. Apart from Nokia phones, there is no consistency.
Serenity started her blog in 2003 but has only posted three times since the middle of February.
1. This is a carefully targetted and relevant email.
I wanted to let you know that right now on our website, we're featuring Lawrence Pintak's new review of two books about Suharto's Indonesia: In The Time of Madness, by Richard Lloyd Parry and Wars Within: The Story of Tempo, an Independent Magazine in Soeharto's Indonesia, by Janet Steele.
I hope you'll get a chance to take a look. Kiera Butler Assistant Editor Columbia (University) Journalism Review
2. Another carefully targetted email.
Hi! My name is Joe Yaggi. I'm a filmmaker with a production house based in Bali. I just popped into your blog on Fair Trade. Well done!
We're researching for stories in Fair Trade as it relates to WTO effects here in Indonesia. We're particularly interested in stories that might relate to WTO and Fair Trade as it relates to tsunami aid funds in Aceh. If you've come across any leads in this area, we would be really interested to hear about them.
Thanks and best regards,
Joe Yaggi Creative Supervisor, Director, DP Jungle Run Productions Filmmakers for Conservation - Board Member TVE Asia Pacific - Indonesia Regional Representative t: +62.361.975378 (+fax), 979110, 979109 m: +62.8123.813.887 PO Box 455 Ubud, Bali 80571
I'd be very interested to hear of any follow ups to this one.
3. Another email asking for links came from Soppy. Well, that was his pseudonym when he ran the PissedUpAsia site.
Now he has the following:
i.Jakarta Casual - An off beat look at Indonesia and Indonesian football from the terraces or the pub.
Actually, he also blogs about the Premiership because I somehow doubt that there are many internet users interested in Indonesian football. I have had cause to mention the national coach, but then Peter Withe is British.
ii.Jakarta Guru is a look at life in a National Plus school in sunny Jakarta, and he blogs anecdotes about his students.
Our Kid attends a quasi-National Plus school so, as a parent, I'd be more interested in an analysis of the school owners who seem to be primarily interested in the financial rather than educational potential of their investments.
This is the Soppy site which I think I'll be returning to the most. Although he doesn't write exclusively about Indonesia ~ there are articles about Penang in Malaysia and the Mahachai railway in Thailand for example ~ this is another site which fits comfortably within the Jakartass remit.
'What a disgusting image' I hear you cry, and you'd be right. Except I'm referring to spammers who have carefully selected Jakartass for help in promoting their wares.
Yep, it has taken a human finger to remove the DELETECAPITALS from my online email address or to leave a comment.
How else can I interpret the following?
1. Link Exchange With Your Political Blog?
We are now creating the Swiss Confederation Institute to promote the benefits of Swiss style direct democracy and limited confederation government to the American political system and around the world. Please let us know by e-mail if you would like to exchange links with us. We are also looking for pro-liberty articles and editorials to post on our website.
Jakartass is a political blog? Does this mean that I've got too serious?
But, hey, it's always nice to be noticed and if any of my pearls are worthy of being republished just let me know your rates. You've got my email address already and you can deposit my fee in the Swiss bank account I'll let you open for me.
2. INFORMATION *????*:.?. .?.:*????*:.?..?:*????*:.?..?:**????* ??? ???????????????????Love?Match? ?----------------------------------------------------------------- You don't need to be able to read Japanese to get the picture.
I saw the man pushing against the closed doors giving occasional rather loud shouts. Nutter, I thought, and at least he's not shouting at me, and soon it'll be dark and he can go and get run over or something useful, and then I saw the white stick.
I'm not sure why I went across. I don't often help people. But there seemed something irredeemably helpless, so clearly saying 'lost' about the spectacle, especially the occasional shouts, and so I dodged the traffic and went across to at least ask him where did he want to be.
He was a good bit away and the next 25 minutes were an education in how truly bloody this city can be. I can only suppose this hit me anew because I was seeing it through, what I hope it's not crass to describe as, his eyes.
His hand went to my elbow and we walked together through an urban assault course. As his stick tapped, I mentioned what was coming up. Just ahead there's a completely pointless ramp thing, I would say, and it's covered in greasy broken cement. Here's a stray metal sign. Ah! Lots of wet sandbags! Ten potholes to your left, something to your right deposited recently by a large and obviously seriously ill dog, and we should be able to get on to the pavement here but there are four miles of railings so we'll need to balance our way along the kerb and hope that bus doesn't ... Jesus that was close.
I'm sorry, but I didn't pen the above. To my initial surprise, but then I haven't been back in 17 years, the above observation is of London, my hometown. Resident pedestrians of Jakarta may recognise the street scene though not the person.
You.will rarely see a blind person here nowadays. Even the once familiar clink clink of the metal staff toted by our local masseur has been stilled; he has been housed by a social welfare foundation, probably for his protection from the madness of the streets and pavements (sidewalks - US).
And that is a great shame. Streets should belong to ALL the people. As it is, they belong to no-one because they are not accessible to all. There is no pleasure in being out there.
Look at this wonderful pavement art and ask yourself where in Jakarta or the town you're most familiar with could Julian Beever produce more masterpieces. And lucky you if you can think of an ideal space.
With my eyesight, nearly everything I see is an optical illusion. However, if you've ever wondered about the Physics of Superheroes (and who hasn't?), you might like to join the Berkeley Groks who had a radio programme on this very subject.
The government of Singapore has called a general election for May 6th, a mere two weeks from today. They, and we, know which political party will gain the most seats - the People's Action Party - because they always do.
However, in order to maximise their votes they have muzzled bloggers who have to register their websites if they repeatedly maintain political views. On April 4th I suggested that bloggers in neighbouring countries could Adopt-A-Blog. And that is my invitation.
If there is any established Singaporean blogger who wishes to "repeatedly maintain a political view" until May 6th but doesn't wish to register, then do write to me saying why you feel Jakartass could be a suitable host for the duration.
Greenpeace's flagship Rainbow Warrior II is anchored at the Jakarta's Tanjung Priok Port until Monday and is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday as part of its campaign to stop deforestation in Papua.
The ship arrived on Wednesday after completing a one-month trip through South Pacific waters, gathering evidence of illegal logging and land clearing in Indonesian Papua, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
There is an interview in the Jakarta Post with the Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Emmy Hafild which highlights not only the rampant deforestation of Papua but also how this has further disenfranchised the indigenous population.
I have reproduced it in full because not only is it worth reading but also because the Post annoyingly recycles its URLs.
Why did Greenpeace specifically address the issue of protection of Papuan forests?
Papuan forests are one of seven of the largest remaining intact forests in the world besides those in Europe, Africa, North America, Patagonia, Latin America and Northern Asia. In terms of tropical forests, it is one of the few tropical forest areas left on the planet along with the Amazon in Brazil and the Congo in Africa.
Since the earth currently has very few intact forests -- only 10 percent of previously existing forest area remains -- the forests of Papua are becoming very important to the life of the planet.
Papuan forests possess enormous biodiversity. The forests are blessed with highly diverse and very unique flora and fauna, distinct from Asia and Australia. And the most important thing is, the forests in Papua have supported the lives of the Papuan people for a long time. Before modern development came to Papua, the people had relied on the forests for hundreds of years. We badly need to protect the forests for the sake of the Papuan people.
What do you think is the most serious and imminent threat that Papuan forests are facing?
The biggest threat of all is the logging concessions. I believe logging concessions are the pioneers of forest destruction. Learning from what happened in Borneo and Sumatra, logging concessions initiated the conversion of forests into roads and then the conversion of forests into oil palm plantations.
In Papua right now, almost 60 percent of the forests are controlled by concession holders. So, at the moment Papuan forests face the highest deforestation rate in the world.
(The government has granted logging concessions to 62 companies to log 11.6 million of the 39.7 million hectares of forests in Papua, with this year's harvest quota set at 800,000 cubic meters of timber.)
If the government wants to protect Indonesian forests, if it wants to stop illegal logging, they have to look into all logging companies that hold concessions, both big and small. Why? Because for us, they all operate illegally as they don't take into account the impact they have on the environment and the people in their operations. We also believe that rampant illegal logging in Papua is closely related to the large-scale concessions there.
What do you think the government should do?
If the government is serious - I think the forestry minister and the President are serious about protecting the environment - they have to suspend all logging concessions in Papua. Right now! The government is entitled to do that because we have compiled files that prove that companies that hold large-scale concessions have broken some of forestry regulations and destroyed the forests.
We have handed these files to the Forestry Ministry and the State Ministry for the Environment. It's the government's turn to do its job: It must halt the operations of all logging companies there.
(Forestry Minister Malem Sambat Kaban and State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar are scheduled to meet the crew of the Rainbow Warrior on Sunday.)
The second step is to review the forest policy in Papua, together with the Papuan people, to determine the objectives of forest management in Papua, with the aim to protect the remaining intact forests and improve the welfare of Papuans.
The government must take such measures because we have the moral obligation to ensure the nation's future generations can benefit from the abundant virgin forests we have right now. That is what sustainable development is all about.
At present, we are just taking from the forests for our own benefit. Not for the local people, not for the next generation.
Why should the government heed your suggestions?
First, the government will make the Papuan people happier. They are unhappy with logging concessions because they are not benefiting from them. They bear the brunt of logging activities, such as environment degradation which has resulted in floods and water shortages and also depleted sources of food.
If we can protect their forests and provide sustainable community-based logging activities there, the welfare of the local people will improve. That will surely make them happier. Once that happens, they will be happy to be part of Indonesia.
Will it help ease the tensions in Papua?
Well, it's not a panacea. The government, of course, has to address the issues of Freeport and political tension. But it's one of the solutions. I do believe it can contribute to solving the problems in Papua.
Antara, the government news agency, published the following story on Tuesday. Presumably VP Jusuf Kalla will have signed this deal, amongst others, before he returns home from China on Sunday.
The Chinese state company, China Light, intends to invest US$1 billion to set up a wood processing company and an industrial forest estate (HTI) in Papua, Forestry Minister MS Kaban said on Tuesday.
The company would make the investment to help meet China`s demand for wood which was increasing particularly for construction of sports facilities for the Olympic Games which China is to host in the near future.
The Chinese company, called needed a total of 800,000 cubic meters of logs or equivalent to 400,000 cubic meters of processed wood up to 2008.
Since 2004, Papua and Irian Jaya Barat provinces have a quota of 1.2 million cubic meters of logs from natural forests.
The government currently has a stock of 300,000 cubic meters of logs procured from the seizures of illegal log activities last year.
The Forestry Ministry`s director general of forestry production development, Hadi S Pasaribu, said the remaining 500,000 cubic meters of logs could be bought from private forest concession companies operating in Papua.
I'm sure that Greenpeace has noted, with concern, the last paragraph.
A second issue of concern to local bloggers, or to Indcoup, Yosef Ardi, and myself is how it could appear that at least two of SBY's cohorts, Aburizal Bakrie and VP Jusuf Kalla, are allowing their families to benefit from their positions.
Both were heads of prominent and successful business families before entering the government. Neither has been (too) tainted with stories of the misuse of bank loans following the onset of krismon nearly ten years ago although there have been debt scandals.
What disturbed the three of us has been the apparent misuse of their positions recently to ensure that their family conglomerates have perhaps more than their fair share of government contracts.
For example, Kalla has been in China this week heading up a delegation witnessing the signing of a cooperation agreement between Bosowa Group (owned by brother-in-law Aksa Mahmud) and a China company to develop the (Jakarta) subway. Another of the fourteen companies involved in the project is PT Bukaka Trans System, a Kalla family enterprise.
After two months of occasional posts on this topic ~ use the search facilities to track our stories ~ it is pleasing to note that the mainstream media is catching on.
Tempo Interactive has a cover story about a crash programme to build coal-fired power plants to meet the demand for extra power, a programme initiated last month in lieu of a rise in the price of electricity.
Were it not for the corruption-infested public procurement system and the potential conflicts of interest of several members of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Cabinet, the proposed crash program to build several coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of 10,000 megawatts within the next three years would not have set off such a heated controversy.
However, the government's plan to "expedite" the tendering of the projects and the crash program was allegedly derived from a proposal by Vice President Jusuf Kalla's younger brother Achmad Kalla, the chairman of the Bukaka engineering company.
... there are only a small number of local contractors qualified to build major power plants. What makes the public more apprehensive is the fact that the families of senior politicians and some Cabinet members, including Jusuf Kalla and Aburizal Bakrie, the coordinating minister for the people's welfare, control the largest of the big contractors.
(Yosef has a major post on Bakrie's recent heavy investment in the coal mining business.)
The Post's conclusion is that as long as these potential conflicts of interest among Cabinet members are not dealt with under a credible system of checks and balances and the government procurement system remains notoriously corrupt, the tendering of major projects will unnecessarily cause controversy. And national contractors, many of which have connections to senior officials, will always be under suspicion of collusion and the abuse of inside information.
The government therefore should execute the long-delayed plan to set up an independent national public procurement office to reform the procurement system.
One cannot argue against that but I would suggest that a reform of the electoral system is a pre-requisite. As yet, legislators are not directly elected by constituents and do not represent any group or community other than the political party that put them in the national or regional legislature.
Electors vote for parties and seats are apportioned according to percentages of total votes cast. Each party has a slate of candidates and one's position on the slate depends on one's contribution to the party coffers. So the higher up the slate one is, the closer one's nose gets to the trough, and this is important. How else can one recoup costs?
Thus the news in the Republika daily that House members are given an honorarium for doing "routine work" comes as no surprise. Routine work generally means clocking in for, but not necessarily attending, a House committee.
Being given a bonus on top of a monthly salary of Rp.50 million (c.$5,500) per month is justified according to the Minister of Home Affairs as things had been officially allocated. He was backed by the chairman of the special committee on the Aceh bill (who) said that the money was legal and had nothing to do with fraud, manipulation and the like.
So if I tell you that I have budgetted Rp.1 million for a kilogramme of marijuana, is that okay because the money is legal and has nothing to do with fraud, manipulation and the like?
If legislators are elected directly then their positions become dependent on performance. Fail to perform according to the electorate's wishes and someone else will get voted in.
In many respects, the current system protects independently wealthy businessmen like Bakrie and Kalla because they are in a position to grant and ask for favours - on their terms. It's their Golkar party which keeps SBY in power, thus giving Indonesia a much-needed period of stable governance.
This comes at a price, but a few choice contracts, which through investment in the country's infrastructure should ultimately benefit the country, may be cheap in the long run.
But guess who I wouldn't vote for even if I could ...
It seems to me that no sooner have I started a newish theme than others join in or I find something to add.
To follow up yesterday's post, I'm indebted to a couple of local bloggers who've added to my store of knowledge about sharia banks.
Rasyad What (is) so unique about Islamic banking is that it adheres to the principles of profit-loss sharing and the prohibition of interest. Unlike conventional banks that exclusively rely on debt financing like credits, Islamic banks are specialized in equity financing like mudharabah (profit-loss sharing) or musharakah (joint venture).
Or perhaps I should say, Islamic banks are supposed to specialize in equity financing.
In reality, the composition of Islamic bank's assets does not differ much from that of conventional banks: most Islamic banks' assets are not mudharabah or musharakah, but rather murabahah (debt or mark-up financing) which is in essence similar to bank's credits that earn interest.
Marek In Sharia banking the interest is actually there, but it's just organised a bit differently. For instance a Sharia version of buying a car on credit would be organised so that a banks buys the car, adds a profit margin to the price, re-sells it to the bank client andthen the client pays the bankon an instalment basis. There is also a Sharia leasing version (called Ijara) and commodity murabaha (replaces traditional inter-bank deposits). Overall, everything is based on real property rather than electronic money.
Sharia banks are actually getting quite popular in UK. It's more of a global trend now as I think in US there are also more and more Sharia compliant banking services. I think the disappointing results of Indonesian Sharia banking units are more a matter of the quick and dirty establishment of a new business unit rather than some wrong idea of Sharia banking; this is why Bank Muamalat is actually doing fine with its sharia banking as their business model is already well established.
Thanks guys. I think I understand.
Presumably, if sharia banks don't charge interest, they don't pay it either. And I suppose that means that the customer still gets to pay for the bank's oncosts through regular or exceptional bank charges and admin fees.
So, if I want to put a sum of money aside for the proverbial rainy day, without it losing its notional value through inflation, depreciation, devaluation and whatever, (i.e. its purchasing power remains the same), is there an acceptable sharia savings scheme?
A couple of posts from fellow bloggers here, as well as my recent rant about Lim Sie Leong's private piggy bank, BCA, have lead me to dig out a link I've been saving for just such an occasion.
When you live in a predominantly Islamic country as long as I have, you begin to assimilate certain attitudes and perceptions. I have always been lead to believe that the essence of Islam is, like Christianity, brotherhood. The community-at-large is a sharing and supportive organisation; no member should be exploited. (Unfortunately sisterhood is lacking in both religions, or rather the way they are practised.)
These banks do not charge interest, not even at less than usurious rates. Although I have occasionally wondered how these banks 'earn' their keep, I have vaguely thought that they were a 'good thing' and I was pleased to read the following:
Islamic economics encompasses every sector of activity. Numerous cultural ramifications emerge through the ages requiring a renewed insight into the interpretations of the Shariah, some of these are changed while others remain inflexible. We cannot claim to be following Islam while we do not apply most of its teachings.
Therefore plenty of Muslims who do not uphold Islam ,except in name, turn a deaf ear when they hear of the Islamic Economic System since they well know that the system is interest-free. To be rather precise, the system does not make any allowances for interest-related contracts.
It still doesn't answer my question about the financial viability of sharia banks and Yosef Ardi's post about the poor performance of sharia units in Indonesian banks reinforces my doubts.
Yosef details the year's losses or weak performance of six sharia units and concludes some banks might have established the unit simply for 'political protection' or marketing gimmick in the world's most populous Moslem country.
Is there a single Muslim country which figures in the league tables of so-called 'developed' countries?
Islamic countries are restrained from economic control due to the following factors, which must be attended to, for any meaningful domination of the Ummah:
* Islamic states provide less than 8% of the needs of non-Islamic economies. The latter economies can even reduce this low figure.
* Much capital from Islamic states is invested in non-Muslim enterprises and interest-dealing banks of non-Islamic States. This leads to increased development in such states while the Islamic countries fail to benefit from such capital for its own infrastructure development. Islamic states import more from the non-Islamic countries, than that which their GNP can support.
* Not a single Arab - Islamic or non-Arab - Islamic state has the technological competence to give it any competitive edge in production or export.
* The total lack of foresight amongst Islamic countries to unite and create an economic bloc that would control the Ummah' resources.
Indonesia is rich in natural resources but lacks what are euphemistically termed educated human resources. This is seemingly demonstrated in Aceh.
Indcoup has drawn attention to the large-scale embezzlement of funds from organisations working to rebuild the province after the tsunami.
.... given the extent of the suffering and misery, how could anyone be so callous to steal the funds ....?
Flash forward a few years and ..... 30% to 40% of all the aid funds, Indonesian and international, are estimated to have been stolen.
According to the Sunday Times (UK) article, "the betrayal is all the more cruel because it has been committed, in the main, by the Acehnese themselves".
And this, says Indcoup, in a region considered to be the most staunchly Islamic part of Indonesia !!!
Yes, considered to be and because it has a degree of autonomy greater than other provinces, Aceh is the only province to incorporate sharia law. This forbids gambling, the display of female flesh, kissing your wife for longer than five seconds, kissing anyone who is not your wife (unless it's your brother). The penalties do not yet include dismemberment of appendages, limbs or members, but public flogging for gambling in private has now taken the place of public screenings of Indonesian movies.
So I'm not sure that the Acehnese are the main culprits because a Muslim .... earns his bread with the believe that: * The proportion of sustenance is determined by Allâh. * It is an act of worship to trade in order to avoid depending on others. * Greed leads to perpetual poverty. * Lawful earnings draw the blessing of Allâh, even though it may seem meagre. * Kindness is more virtuous then obsession with wealth. * Commit yourself to equity, justice and compassion.
The majority of the organisations in Aceh are there because they have the permission of the government in Jakarta. Given the tragic loss of life in Aceh, the skills needed to manage the reconstruction projects are provided by outsiders. If Indonesian, then we can be sure that the vast majority profess to be Muslim.
Acehnese, Javanese, whoever ~ they are in clear violation of all moral laws and surely have no right to profess adherence to any religion.
I came home full of good intentions and bright blogging ideas only to get sidetracked by one of the few movies I must have on DVD, haven't yet seen at any pirated disc outlet, but can watch again and again.
So I did, on Cinemax.
The Blues Brothers have (has?) eaten into my blogging time, so here are a couple of sites I've recently discovered which fit into the Jakartass remit of Alien Thoughts from Home and Home Thoughts from Abroad
Cyber Bali is a new, or rather revamped, site from an expat teacher who's lived in Indonesia for 17 years. Bruce Pohlmann, aka Sulaiman Jamal following his conversion in Islam in 1999, has put together a visually pleasing and easy to navigate site with a wealth of links. He gives an interesting perspective on an expat life spent mainly in the outer provinces; he is currently based in Sumbawa.
The site is well worth a browse and I'm sure I'll often be dipping in. You could start with his Papua page then try some of the links to the left.
Nice one, Bruce.
Mementoes: A Pathologically Bored Jelly - like Mind A self-centered adventurous nomad. Twenty something. Single and happy. Maniacal and friendly. Innocent-looking and deceitful. A closet geek. A silent observer. A non-conformist toward most of the eastern traditional values. In amusement-hate relationship with the so-called home country (Indonesia). Resides somewhere in the UK. Has an online journal since 11/11/2001. Plays nine balls. Coffee and fags. Amazing sex. Brit books and movies. Anime. Concerts and festivals. Extreme solitude. Currently abandons the searching for the meaning of life.
Ms. Jelly lives in the UK but is Indonesian. I'm the opposite. She's also of a different generation, but I won't hold that against her and I hope she won't hold it against me. She likes anime. I don't. She likes sex. I do.
There's a photo in today's Jakarta Post of a couple of orangutans in a cage in a wildlife protection center in Rathcaburi province, about 125km west of Bangkok. Wildlife officials from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are scheduled to meet on April 21 to decide the fate of dozens of orangutans that were smuggled into Thailand nearly two years ago.
Why has it taken nearly two years? I blogged about the case then and linked to various sites, including Send Them Back Home.
Internationally, animal welfare and conservation organizations strongly urge the Thailand Government to stop the illegal custody of over one hundred Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) from Indonesia - they are endemic to Sumatra and Borneo - in Safari World, Bangkok and other Zoos, Farms and Parks in Thailand.
There was a documentary on the Discovery Channel the other day which gave some insights into the use of animals in movies. I remember it mainly because the narrator was John Peel. Anyway, times have seemingly changed for animals bred in captivity. They are 'protected' whilst earning their keep. They haven't experienced life in their 'natural environment', so, if one ignores genetic and hereditary instincts, one could argue that we are not interfering with Nature.
Our closest relatives are simians. Considering that laughter is generally the response to a stimulus which strikes a chord of remembrance, I've always found it bizarre that humans laugh at apes' antics. We rarely laugh at something we don't understand. (Unless, that is, we're Indonesian. Here laughter is often a way of disguising perceived bad news or an inabilty to respond meaningfully.)
The story begins with a rocket ship travelling to the Planet of the Whistlers, which has been taken over by the Cone People, who appear as white cones of different sizes. Their buildings are like big bells. On the ship are Captain Slay, a Whistler named Shrill, our hero Ryan and a young woman called Mary Ellen, as well as a mysterious man called Trine.
It turns out that the Cone people have not taken over the Whistler planet, they are only caretaking it because the Whistlers are too lazy. Trine and Mary Ellen fall in love - he is a Cone, and he turns into his Cone form later, and changes Mary Ellen as well. The rocket ship returns at the end of the book, leaving Mary Ellen with Trine - she can turn back to her human form at any time but is happy as a Cone because "they think only good thoughts."
Sorry, wrong webpage.
This is the one I meant because in Louisburg, North Carolina, USA this week is Happy Whistlers Week and it's a serious business.
When contestants step up to the microphone in the Louisburg College Auditorium, dressed in ball gowns and tuxedos, their lips - sometimes called a pucculo - have undergone rigorous conditioning.
Steve Herbst, a professional whistler and International Grand Champion from New York, says "dry, chapped lips are a whistler?s worst nightmare." Generous dabs of lip balm, water and two-hour practice sessions are all a part of his daily routine.
I wonder what Cheetah did to prepare for his performances.
I received an email from Nick of Bali Blog a couple of days ago.
A US magazine wants more info on the '5 minute kiss' rule in Tangerang. Here is the email I got.
I read about the kissing ban in Tangerang last week and notice you've mentioned it on your blog. It's a funny little story, naturally, and here at Harper's we'd like to get our hands on a copy of the original draft of the bill which proposed the ban.
We can pay $15 an hour for the research, and of course we'd be looking for a qualified translator to excerpt parts of the bill after we locate it, for 15 cents a word. Do you know anyone in the Jakarta area who might be able to help us track down the bill?
As we are on deadline here I'd love to hear from you as soon as possible. Thanks for your help!
Best regards, Dan Keane Harper's Magazine 666 Broadway, 11th floor New York, NY 10012
So I forwarded the message around various folk here in Jakarta and got several offers of help in translating and a copy of the Tangerang bylaws from the good folk at Indonesian Anonymus. Bill of Jakarta Eye will undertake the translation of the relevant sections.
I think this is a welcome tale of folk networking for communal benefit. But I do have a feeling, that in this instance, perhaps we shouldn't. Should we bloggers be helping consolidate the world's view of Indonesia as a backwater in societal terms?
That the Tangerang township has enacted their own misogynist bylaws, possibly in contravention of Indonesia's constitution, is not "a funny little story, naturally" to quote Dan Keane. It's a sad tale of local dignatories imposing their blinkered values on society without the mandate of their electorate.
The streets of Tangerang may well be free of prostitutes; they've gone to neighbouring areas.
Easter Eggs, the symbol of fertility and new life, are easily the most identifiable symbol of the holiday. Eggs are an Easter custom that date back to Pagan times. The bright colors that adorn the eggs symbolize the sunlight of spring and celebrate the equinox.
The pagan spring celebration of birth and fertility, transformed nowadays into the gluttonous consumption of Easter eggs, has for most people supplanted the three most important days of the Christian calendar. The surviving faithful, particularly the newly converted who were attracted in the first place by the security offered by faith, feel undermined by the disregard of what to them is most important, and not just at Easter.
For some Christians, the response is a retreat to a militant orthodoxy. They are not alone. Most world religions now support a radical or fundamentalist wing that reflects not a pre-determined instinct for intolerance so much as a fearful reaction to the 21st century, to cultural globalisation and commercial imperialism backed by military strength.
To tolerate the intolerant, to accommodate the unbending, is the greatest challenge facing the defenders of a secular society, one that rejects a role for religion in the state.
Fundamentalism is a modern phenomenon, where sacred texts are imbued with a single interpretation. Every faith is vulnerable, every continent is affected.
You may recall that back in February I recounted how, as much as we wanted to, we couldn't pay Indovision for our satellite TV service. In spite of repeated phone calls, they seemed unable to send us a. the receipt for our initial cash payment and b. our account number with details of which account we could transfer further funds into.
When, inevitably, our credit ran dry, our service was terminated. I didn't want to bore you with the fluency of our bad language, but the combination of the blunt Batak of 'Er Indoors and my Sarf Lunnon street argot got the service restored temporarily. That, and a copy of our email (which wasn't published) to the editor of the Jakarta Post.
It also, finally produced the expected paperwork, via email, and with the courteous help of 'Christine' (another Batak) in the Indovision Customer Call division we now feel that we have the expected level of customer service.
Except ... it seems I still can't pay.
First off, it's nigh on impossible to get to my bank in banking hours as they're my working hours. So I'd be happy to transfer a year's subscription by ATM. As banks here don't generally have mutuality, I have to use the ATMs of Bank Central Asia which has an Indovision account. I tried eight ATMs and all of them, whilst agreeing that my account in Bank Permata has enough funds and that I'm trying to transfer to the correct account of Indovision, gave me the message Unable To Complete Transaction.
With enough cash in my wallet to pay for a month's subscription, I entered a branch of BCA this morning, filled in a deposit/transfer slip and joined the queue. There were tellers on duty at three of the eight customer contact points, just three. I queued for 45 minutes getting more and more steamed up, as one does. In conversation with the guy behind, I pointed out that bank customers provide buidings, furnishings, salaries and profits.
PT Bank Central Asia Tbk, the largest private-owned bank in Indonesia, booked net profit of around US$400 million last year, increased 12% from the year before thanks to the higher fee-based income of 21%.
My new found friend said sabar (patience) and that if I wanted to komplane (his word) manajemen would say "sorry" but do nothing. It is the Indonesian system he said. Well, that's as may be, and of course I complained to the lass behind the counter when I eventually reached her.
She said "sorry" and then asked me for Rp.5,000 to effect the transfer. At that, I admit I lost my sang froid. Why the f**k should you have to pay in order to pay cash at a branch of BCA into a BCA account? Don't they want people to put money into their coffers?
I don't like and don't trust banks, any banks - it's not just Indonesian ones. I've always wondered why, assuming my account is in credit and the bank is lending my hard-earned money to someone else, I should have to pay so-called admin charges. Surely, they should be paying me in order to earn and keep my trust.
Before the sounding of the Bedug Korea (Korean Drums) to symbolically open the BCA Awards 2005 - Malam Pesona Bintang event, BCA's President Director, D.E Setijoso reiterates the importance of the quality of the services and work efficiencies.
"A Good Service is not enough, what we ought to give is an Excellent Service. I'm sure that this award will function as an energizer to every employee, especially the ones from the district offices, the KCU, the KCP and the central office so that we're not only can become a good bank, but we can also be a great bank. We will make that leap from good to great."
Don't fool yourself Mr. Setijoso. Today you demonstrated to me that your service has gone from poor to crap.
And your website also demonstrates your lack of awareness of customer service. If you can't be bothered to have your English pages proofread, then don't bother with them at all.
For some, such as Jakartass, tonight's game between (who else?) Charlton and Middlesbroughis the biggest game in years ~ 59 to be exact. Yep, in 1947 when Jakartass was still incontinent, Charlton won the FA Cup. And if we win tonight in our quarterfinal replay in the near-frozen north-east of England, it will be the furthest we'll have gone since.
5,250 Addicks are being subsidised by the club to fly, train and bus their way there and many millions will be watching the game live on TV. And Jakartass? I don't honestly know. Star TV advertises Chelsea v West Ham at 2 in the morning, although I rather think and hope that they've made a mistake, I don't particularly want to get up to watch a recording of a game that took place a few days ago. Still, if it's not being shown live I'll try and listen to a webcast and watch the recording of the game tomorrow evening, albeit knowing the result.
Of course, following my last post, some of you might have been expecting something more .... how shall I say? ... political? Not Madame Chiang, certainly. (But good luck in your cyber searching, if you get my drift.)
Anyway, just so Oigal gets his fix, let me refer him, and you if you're interested, to Indcoup's latest post about how four Asian businessmen plotted to buy hundreds of handguns, machine guns, Sidewinder missiles and aviation radar equipment for export to Indonesia, presumably for sale to the military and probably for use out of the public eye.
For your further edification, let me also refer him, and you if you're interested, to a column by George Monbiot. The central point is about 'primitive' people being evicted from their homelands.
Last week Lady Tonge of Kew opened a debate (in the unelected House of Lords) about Botswana with an attack on the Gana and Gwi bushmen of the Kalahari. She suggested they were trying to "stay in the stone age", described their technology as "primitive" and accused them of "holding the government of Botswana to ransom" by resisting eviction from their ancestral lands.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch ... alleged that something was missing from her account: the trip, he claimed, including first-class air travel, was funded by Debswana. Debswana, a joint venture between De Beers and the government of Botswana, owns the rights to mine diamonds in the bushmen's land in the Kalahari.
George then refers to the Papuans, which, given the continued relevance of Jakartass, is why I've linked to his article.
Three days after Tonge gave her speech, I (George writes) heard the BBC's Indonesia correspondent telling the World Service that the West Papuans' "way of life, until recently, had more in common with the stone age than the modern world".
He was probably not aware that John F Kennedy approved the annexation of West Papua by the Indonesian government with the words: "Those Papuans of yours are some seven hundred thousand and living in the stone age." Stone-aged and primitive are what you call people when you want their land.
The animal theme comes up quite often too. "How can you have a stone-age creature continue to exist in the age of computers?" asked the man who is now Botswana's president, Festus Mogae. "If the bushmen want to survive, they must change, otherwise, like the dodo, they will perish."
The minister for local government, Margaret Nasha, was more specific. "You know the issue of Basarwa [the bushmen]?" she asked in 2002. "Sometimes I equate it to the elephants. We once had the same problem when we wanted to cull the elephants and people said no."
Primitive? Animals to be culled as if prey in a big game hunt?
That's what I feel about self-serving politicians.
Nestled among the media's meditations on the popularity of blogs is a theory that lends new meaning to "cyber sex." According to Simon Dumenco, a prominent U.S. media analyst, people read blogs at least in part because they "want to get laid."
So, having got your attention and assuming you want to get laid, here is a list of links about Papua.
Balfour Darnell, a self-described roughneck who built Freeport's first base camps [in 1967], soothed [the late Amungme tribal leader] Tuarek Natkime's suspicion of the outsiders with a simple tool that was half hatchet and half hammer.
"Boy, that did it," Mr. Darnell said of Mr. Natkime's evident pleasure, according to the account in the book "Grasberg," by George A. Mealey, a former Freeport executive. "He was in seventh heaven with that thing."
With the promise of a few sacks of salt, the tribal leader said he would clear a landing area for the company helicopter. "So we blasted off and that was the end of that meeting," Mr. Darnell marveled. "We were safe."
A half-hatchet hammer, and a promise of a few sacks of salt ...
3. Rasyad has also linked to statistics which show that the life expectancy of Papuans is a full ten years less than that of the majority of Indonesians.
Today is a beautiful summer's Sunday, the kind of day which generally makes it a pleasure to stay at Jakartass Towers. Or sit on the beach.
Except today is different. Some rich tosser in the main street, parallel to ours, has blocked it off to hold a wedding party so our quiet backwater is one big pustulating polluting traffic jam.
A pox on their nuptial bliss.
Charlton Match Report. The Observer If ever football were to be played in a vacuum, it would surely look like this. Lifeless, witless, meaningless - it was a game that lived down to expectations, which were far from great.
Jakartass I knew that if I went to the fridge room to get another Bintang, I wouldn't miss anything.
I went and I didn't.
Inspector Sands Yawn. Not a classic. But whatever happened against Everton didn't really matter.
Wednesday really matters.
NB. Charlton are taking 5,000 supporters to the frozen north-east of England on Wednesday for a replay of their quarterfinal match against Middlesbrough. If we win, then this will be the furthest we'll have reached since 1947. The match is being played in the evening, UK time, which is early morning here. I'll be awake for that one.
Did you know? 1. It takes 50 per cent more energy to make a bog-standard battery than the battery provides. Green Gauge
Thriven is the past participle of thrive. "I have thriven," though starting to get replaced with "I have thrived..." is proper English.
I know it's a petty thing to argue about, but what do you want? At heart I'm just a writer with a keyboard.
Anyway, thanks for talking about BlogSafer. It's seen many visitors but not many people who want to get into the wiki part of it and add to it. Hopefully that will happen.
Ed: That's a very polite message for a Curt and I am suitably shriven. But does anyone actually say thriven?
The London Blogosphere is mainstream for some, but not for Mr. Onion Bag.
Bored of mainstream knobber media whores bangin' on with their own corporate agendas, what's the point of a blog but to offer a different perspective? ... blogs ... ARE the perfect breeding ground for an alternative view. I almost choked on my new found nu media mentality when one of the speakers focused on 'how to prove to the outside world that you actually OWN your blog.'
Bloody hell. That's the last thing I want.
Good Writing Deserves Readers When scouring the net for connections and links, I regularly come across gems worthy of a plug. I save these for a rainy day.