Sunday, July 30, 2006
  Sunday's Tsunami Sundries.

Envirtech - Technologies For A Wonderful World - have developed a Tsunami Warning System which measures oceanic pressure.

The main scenario in case of detection of an anomaly in the pressure signal is the following:
1. The UM-DACS in its standard operating mode IDLE MODE detects an unexpected variation in the pressure signal;
2. A notification message is sent to the OC and the UM-MODULE changes in the new status ALARM MODE;
3. In ALARM MODE the UM sends periodically a message to the OC: on request the user in the OC can transfer all pressure data acquired in ALARM MODE.
4. In case of detection of a tsunami events (frequency component in the range 0.01..0.0005Hz) an TSUNAMI DETECTION message is sent to the OC.
5. The user in the OC can verify the pressure data acquired during the ALARM MODE to validate the alarm condition and to verify its amplitude.
6. After the decrease of the tsunami wave components under some minimal threshold (parameter remotely configurable by the OC user) and after a period of some hours (parameter remotely configurable by the OC user), the UM changes from ALARM MODE to IDLE MODE.

So, that's all right then.

The Last Mile

The new Indian Ocean early warning system - proposed after the December 2004 tsunami which claimed 200,000 lives - was said by the UN to be "up and running" last month. So how come a warning did not reach Java's affected communities in time on July 17th?

It's all very well installing technologically wonderful systems but they won't work if the people aren't involved.

Indonesian earthquake official Fauzi told the BBC News website that although progress had been made, there were still serious shortcomings in Indonesia's monitoring systems and communications network.

It currently takes scientists up to 60 minutes to receive and analyse the data from 30 seismological stations and send out a warning. With only a 20-minute interval between the magnitude 7.7 undersea earthquake and the arrival of the waves on shore, there was just no time to warn people, Fauzi said.

Fauzi also believes communications are an issue. "We don't have the systems yet so what we do is call by telephone. But sometimes the lines are busy and it's very difficult to get through.

"We need to set up an exclusive communication system because otherwise it's going to be the same problem. If we use public communication systems, it's not going to work very well."

In the meantime, officials were making use of SMS messages to contact communities at risk, he said. Networks of sirens are also being set up this year in the Aceh, Padang and Bali regions to alert people who may be too poor to own TVs, radios or mobile phones. Another is to be built in Java next year.

The majority of those at risk in coastal communities are, as seemingly always in every 'natural' disaster, the poor. In other words, those who cannot afford even the batteries to operate a radio, let alone to own a phone.

One solution may be to distribute solar powered or clockwork radios - as invented by Trevor Baylis - to village chiefs and other community leaders. If the radios were pre-tuned to a dedicated emergency wavelength, then there's a simple and, hopefully, cost effective solution.

However the alarm is raised, assuming the message gets through, there is the need to know where to go and in Indonesia there are encouraging developments with the proposal to build elevated safe zones near low-lying coastal resorts nationwide to speed up evacuations during tsunamis.

Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik said Thursday the sites would consist of elevated land areas about four to five meters at 500 metre intervals located about 500 meters from the shoreline.

"The construction of the facilities will be in one package with the installation of the tsunami warning system devices," Wacik said during a visit to Pangandaran, scene of the worst damage and most victims in this most recent tsunami.

Talk The Talk

Did you know that so far there have been three International Conferences on Early Warnings? President Clinton, as the UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, attended the 3rd held in Bonn, Germany, in March this year, and you can read his presentation following his keynote address here.

The main emphasis, as ever, is getting the message through to and protecting the potential victims.

At Bonn, President Clinton remarked that "[we] have all learned a lot from the things that have happened."

He added, however, that "the question is whether we will put what we know into action. In the end, disaster reduction is about making the right development choices: where to locate a school, how to protect buildings better, how to build them better, how to pursue sustainable development. It's about investing in practical and effective people-centered early warning systems. And it's about
addressing the long-term challenges that will give us more natural disasters, particularly climate change ..."

Another Conference is due to open tomorrow in Bali. This is the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System. I don't know whether Bill will be there. As ever, the main issue is not the technology, which exists even though it is not yet in place.

The challenges are how to word and to communicate warnings.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago with more than 17,000 islands, needs at least 22 buoys with deep ocean sensors, 120 tide gauges with digital recordings, and 160 seismographs to secure the entire country from tsunamis, officials say.

"It is a test of grit for 10 minutes," said Shailesh Nayak, head of the Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services. "If we have all the networking and broadband connectivity in place within the year we can issue a tsunami warning within 10 minutes after a quake," he said, adding, "if the data is clear."

Broadband connectivity? If we can't have it here in the capital city of Jakarta, how on earth (or hyperspace) do you think poor folk dependent on fishing for their meagre livelihoods are going to get the data??

Another quake, measuring 5.7 (moderate), occurred this morning at 8.30 local time, off the coast of Nias, scene of many quakes, in West Sumatra. I first knew about it when a notice was put on screen by Indovision, my satellite provider. Metro TV also carried a ticker tape message. Both messages said that there was no danger of a tsunami.

Few, if any, folk in West Sumatra would have been watching those TV channels.


1:30 pm |
Friday, July 28, 2006
  Friday Follow Up

Water Works
Or maybe it doesn't.

On Tuesday, I had a go at Thames Water, known here as PT Thames PAM Jaya, for its failure, in partnership with the French company PT PAM Lyonnaise Jaya (Palyja), to deliver an adequate water supply to its Jakarta customers.

Today, in the Jakarta Post, you can read the following: The Head of City Council Commission D overseeing infrastructure, Sayogo Hendrosubroto, yesterday lambasted the decision of French water company PT PAM Lyonnaise Jaya (Palyja) to sell 49 percent of its shares. Councillors called Palyja's actions "robbery" as 95 percent of the company's shares were originally given to it by PAM Jaya in 1996.

"Palyja, exploiting the loopholes in the 25-year cooperation contract (with the city), sold 49 percent of its city-granted stakes to local partner PT Astratel Nusantara and Citigroup Financial Products Inc.," Sayogo said.

The proceeds from the sale went to Palyja owner Suez Environment and Palyja has repeatedly said that the sale will improve the company's management performance by involving local partners in Palyja's operation.

However, Sayogo said Suez Environment was only looking to make money, because the funds were not going to be reinvested to improve Palyja's performance.

Palyja has lost customers and many of those who remain have complained to the People's Coalition for the Right to Water of poor service standards.

Sayogo also said the local partners who bought the shares had no experience in water supplying because "their core businesses are not in the water sector."

PT Astratel Nusantara is a telecommunications company - Communication Services Within The Country Or Overseas In The Form Of Communication By Voice, Picture, Data Or Other News Though Wireless, Radio Communications, Electronic Media, Or Satelite, Like : Telephone, Telegraph, Telex (Facsimile) And Lease Channel - and following the recent south Java tsunami we know how piss poor telecommunications are in this country.

And Citigroup Financial Products Inc. is presumably what it says.

Palyja president director Thierry Krieg ... did not disclose the amount of money Suez received in the deal. Sayogo said he believed the deal was worth between Rp 350 billion and Rp 500 billion (c.US$39 - 55 million).

Palyja's total investment from 1998 through to the first semester of 2006 was Rp 910 billion, 67 percent of its planned investment of Rp 1.364 trillion. The investments were for building renovations, production facility rehabilitation, pipe networks, meters and support work.

Palyja spokesperson Ratna Indrayani said Palyja faced challenges in supplying water to customers due to pipe leaks. In 2005, about 35 million liters of water was lost due to leaks.

Ratna also said the company had faced electricity supply problems and the theft of water in illegal semi-permanent residential areas. Sayogo said that Palyja needed to invest more money to fix the pipes and networks.

He also asked Thames Jaya to postpone its plan to sell 100 percent of their shares.

As I said, the water companies profit while the world faces increased desertification.


6:00 pm |
Thursday, July 27, 2006
  Bad Hair Day

Treespotter has a post which leads off as follows: I read a lot of the expat blogs, they're also nice, with one distinct characteristic: most of them are miserable.

He continues - Expats in Indonesia are the most miserable people. I feel sorry for them, feeling strangers in strange land and turning into miserable smurfs all the time.

It's about culture inequality and failures in understanding in a rapidly connected global world. (That sounds good, doesn't it?)

Actually I think it's a confused rant about some of us because, unfortunately, he seems to assume that those of us who blog about our life here are not only miserable but think that all Indonesians are racist.

Oigal joins in the comments, numbering 40+ the last time I looked, as does Indcoup, who writes as follows:

Hi Treespotter,

There's a lot of twisted convulted logic in your writing but some good ideas as ever. Even given me a few ideas for future posts!

But how do you deduce expats are miserable?

Just cos we question what is going on in Indonesia? Ever heard of critical thinking?

And if we were back in London (where Jakartass and myself come from) we would be criticizing stuff there too. Why be critical? Well, maybe we actually like Indonesia and want it to be a better place?

Or do you really prefer the "oh I love Indonesia, it's so perfect, Pram is just a great writer, and I'm having a collection for tsunami victims next month (and I love tempe)" type of bullshit?



So, that's three of the nominees in Indonesian Blog Awards beauty contest (see below) fulfilling a key criterion ~ they are active members of the Indonesian blogosphere.


5:00 pm |
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Finally, at last and, some might say, it is time.
Yes ...... It's too late to
Cast Your Vote
Chris at Asia Pundit was waiting for your votes for the Best Indonesian Blog, as well as the Best Thai Blog and the Best Asian Food Blog.

The nominees for Indonesia have been:
Yosef Ardi
Jakarta Guru
Cafe Salemba
A. Fatih Syuhud
Expat in Jakarta
Paras Indonesia
Indonesia Anonymus

You were required to rank all of the nominated sites ~ so I hope you reviewed all of them before proceeding.
  • Polling for these three categories has closed ~ so stroll on.
  • E-mail registration was required to vote and you could only vote once per category.
  • Your address has not been sold, given away or used for spamming.
  • All collected addresses will be destroyed before August 31st.
Click here to continue to where you should have gone.

As I have written, the following 'rules' seem to be equitable. Blogs should be:
  • of wide interest.
  • regularly updated.
  • in reasonable English.
  • have a recognisable 'voice'.
  • a 'member' of the Indonesian blogosphere (by commenting and linking).
Please note that you were only asked to consider the above blogs based on their quality over the past three months or so. Next quarter there may be other blogs for your consideration. After all, like fame itself, blogging is ephemeral.

And sometime next year we should know who is Indonesian Blogger of 2006. I'll let you know who's where as soon as I know.

(And if you're wondering why Jakartass is not on the list, worry not. Such is my notoriety that I have been asked to be a judge of the proceedings. Being British and not Italian, I have agreed to be impartial in my deliberations. Besides, PayPal doesn't operate in Indonesia. Yet.)

Finally, please note that now the voting period has expired, this post has reverted to its propewr chronological order. My interim thoughts are above.


1:00 am |
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
  What the blazes is going on?

The stroll I take in the morning to where I wait for a taxi takes me alongside the River Ciliwung. This rises in Bogor and wends its way down from the wet hills through the massive conurbation that is the flood plain called Jabotabek, or Greater Jakarta, until it joins the sea.

This morning the view is of rubbish strewn banks as little rain has fallen, up or downstream, for a month or three. The Ciliwung is some six metres lower than it will be in six months time in the heart of the rainy season. That is, of course, assuming there is a rainy season. Am I witnessing in miniature what is occurring in the Amazon basin?

The waters of the rivers of the Amazon Basin routinely fall by some 30 - 40 feet ~ greater than most of the tides of the world's seas ~ between the wet and dry seasons. But last year they just went on falling in the worst drought in recorded history.

In the Mamiraua Reserve they dropped 51 feet, 15 feet below the usual low level and other areas were more badly affected. At one point in the western Brazilian state of Acre, the world's biggest river shrank so far that it was possible to walk across it. Millions of fish died; thousands of communities, whose only transport was by water, were stranded. And the drying forest caught fire; at one point in September, satellite images spotted 73,000 separate blazes in the basin.

Hang on. Blazes? Hazes? As in Malaysia again this month?

Kuala Lumpur last year

You probably know that deforestation is the major cause of diminishing rainfall and global warming.

Alarming research suggests that the vast Amazon rainforest is on the brink of being turned into desert, with catastrophic consequences for the world's climate. And the process ... would be irreversible, starting as early as next year.

The Amazon Basin is being cleared to provide vast fields of (soya) beans destined to feed supermarket chickens in Europe. Also accelerated world demand for free-range beef and grains in light of mad cow disease and other outbreaks suggest that demand for Brazilian beef will increase, perpetuating high rates of Amazonian deforestation well into the future.

So far about a fifth of the Amazonian rainforest has been razed completely. Another 22 per cent has been harmed by logging, allowing the sun to penetrate to the forest floor drying it out. And if you add these two figures together, the total is growing perilously close to 50 per cent, which computer models predict as the "tipping point" that marks the death of the Amazon.

The models did not expect this to happen until 2050. But, says Dr Antonio Nobre, of Brazil's National Institute of Amazonian Research,"what was predicted for 2050, may have begun to happen in 2005."

Indonesia, as the other major tropical rainforest guardian, loses out to loggers and palm oil plantations, as I've blogged oft times before. I've also had my rants about privatised water companies and purveyors of bottled water.

It's worth ranting some more, I feel, especially as this most precious of resources is rapidly drying up. In Britain this past week, significantly hotter than here, there have been record sales of bottled water at a thousand times the cost of tap water.

Tap water costs c.£1 (US$1.8) per 1,000 litres and the average cost of a single litre of bottled water in the UK is 90p. And, note this, eleven per cent of all bottled water sold in the UK is "other purified water", otherwise known as "table water". This is effectively reprocessed tap water which, in the UK, is drinkable.

Barrie Clarke from Water UK, which represents the interests of publicly owned water companies, is not celebrating the increasing sales in bottled water. "Logically we do not need to spend all this money on bottled water," he said. "The market is bizarre. People, for reasons best known to themselves, think that it will somehow be better for them than tap water."

That view was echoed by 44-year-old Crispin Wood from London: "I prefer tap water over branded water", he said. "Bottled water is so expensive; the public is usually ripped off."

Go on, go figure.

I have always believed that a caring society, one that had the welfare of its citizens at the heart of all its policies, would protect its citizens. We elect politicians to carry out those policies which we feel would benefit us (and, per se, not 'them'.)

We, the people, need water. Why then sell a basic human need and, in terms of access to it, a human right, to 'the highest bidder'? And how come Jakarta's water is 'owned' by a nominally French and a nominally British company, neither of which seems to be capable of managing and distributing their liquid asset?

As a Londoner, I have to feel ashamed of Thames Water, the British company privatised in 1989. Back in Blighty, they face a fine of up to £140m for failing to provide a good service to its eight million customers in the south-east of England.

Water regulator Ofwat said (on Wednesday 18th July) it proposed to fine Thames Water, which it said had failed to achieve required customer service standards since July 2005. It said Thames Water had also failed to pay compensation to customers, as water suppliers are required to if they fall short of standards.

Thames Water have also agreed to spend £150m to try and solve leakage problems in its network. It therefore escaped a fine of 10% (c.£66m) of its turnover.

A similar situation exists here although, to be fair, Jakarta has grown too rapidly and haphazardly for there to have been a coherent and effective water distribution network, with much of the metropolis relying on private wells.

A 1994 survey showed that only 42.6% households in Jakarta have access to clean/piped water. So 53% of the city residents have to use groundwater for consumption. 70% use groundwater for washing and laundry since in certain areas in Jakarta, groundwater cannot be consumed.

Before 1993, water supply in Jakarta was controlled by "corruption laden" PAM Jaya. Thames Water Overseas Ltd. and Suez Lyonnaise, a French company, competed to run Jakarta's water system. In 1993, Thames made an alliance with Sigit Harjojudanto, son President Soeharto, while Suez approached Anthony Salim, a conglomerate and Soeharto's crony. In the end, Jakarta water management was divided into two equal portions for the two companies.

Upon request of Thames and Suez, in 1995, then President Soeharto gave orders to the Public Works Minister to privatise PAM Jaya. In 1997, PAM Jaya and the two corporations signed a concession contract for 25 years. Both Suez and Thames established local companies with their Indonesian partners, with Thames holding 80% stake of their company with Sigit, and Salim Group gave 40% stake to Suez. In the contract, all Jakarta water service system are in the hands of both companies, i.e., clean water supply, treatment plants, distribution system, recording and billing, and also PAM Jaya office buildings. In turn, both companies agree to pay PAM Jaya' s debt of US$ 231 million.

After the fall of Soeharto' s government and pressures by huge demonstrations in Jakarta against the deal, the Indonesia Government tried to annul the contract but later withdrawn after threats of lawsuits by Thames and Suez. The concession contract was then renegotiated and ends with Thames and Suez both holding 95% stake and built two new companies, PT Thames PAM Jaya (TPJ) and PT PAM Lyonnaise Jaya (Palyja).

In spite of several tariff increase since then, neither Thames nor Suez has actually met the agreements in the contract. Water leakage is still high, about 50%, while in the agreement they were suppose to minimize the leakage to only 35% within five years. Also, their promise to service 70% of the population after five years have not been met. Thames and Suez have blamed failure to reach projected connection targets on the Asian economic crisis and to local employees who refused to cooperate with their foreign employers.

Excuses, excuses and the water companies profit while the world faces increased desertification.

If it weren't so dry, I'd spit on them.


4:00 pm |
Sunday, July 23, 2006
  Summer In The City

Europe is 'suffering' from unusually tropical heat, so how come city dwellers there have more things to do than those of us who live in a tropical city all year round?

This is not Jakarta - Why not?

Hot and thirsty Italians apparently have a vast range of refreshing drinks at Aqua Store in Rome.

We can forgive the inefficiency of bottled water over the excellent water available from the tap (the Romans have a long history of bringing water efficiently to the people after all), in light of the fact that even healthy, tasty water can give a traveller unaccustomed to the local microscopic beasties a bit of a belly-ache.

It is unfortunate, though, that with a plethora of Italian waters available (e.g. Roccetta), the AQUA store finds it necesary to offer famous brands imported from France (e.g. Perrier), Germany (e.g. Appolinaris) and the UK (e.g. Scotland's Glen Eagles) among others.

The next wave coming into the store will be iceberg water from Canada and Himalayan water from India.

(NB. When I use italics I am quoting. The 'we' in the above text does not include me.)

WISE Words

World Information Service on Energy is an information and networking center for citizens and environmental organizations concerned about nuclear energy, radioactive waste, radiation, and related issues.

During the seventies, WISE Copenhagen developed the smiling-sun symbol. The revenues of the stickers and badges (pins for Americans) were used to finance the WISE network. Now you can order them, in many languages, here.
(How about one in Indonesian?)

Words cannot describe the exquisite loveliness of the brilliant azure sky with its cerulean striations of periwinkle, cornflower, and cyan.

But the winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for Bad Writing 2006 have a bloody good try.

Todd languished there, neck deep in the pumpkin-hued Amargosa Desert sand like a long forgotten cupcake in an Easy Bake Oven gone hellishly amok, and it finally made sense . . . "ooohhhh, DEATH Valley."


3:30 pm |
Friday, July 21, 2006
  Inability or Inertia?

Or just plain incompetence?

Comments are common about the government's failure to disseminate an effective tsunami warning to the dwellers on central Java's southern coast.

Everyone who could be culpable denies or is in denial which, of course, is of little comfort to the bereft survivors.

Rasyad A. Parinduri of Sarapan Ekonomi suggests that "radio stations could have sent tsunami alarm". This is, of course, the obvious way of reaching the masses, that and TV.

Apparently warnings were issued ~ by telephone, cellular phone text-messages, and letters, even direct (face to face) imparting. Thus speaks the Ministry of Research and Technology in its press release copied in Rashid's blog.

Letters? Snail mail? When a letter can take weeks to arrive and a tsunami mere minutes?

By telephone when 50% of the population don't have access to one?

By SMS when coastal dwellers live below the poverty line?

"Seven minutes after the quake, we sent hundreds of text messages to "ministers, district heads and mayors as well as some police." The message however told them just the longitude and latitude of the quake. There was no specific tsunami warning at all.

The responsible government department, the Ministry of Research and Technology MUST admit its culpability.

I presume that is the reason for SBY's statement today from Pangandaran that he wants a full warning system in situ along the tectonic plate (earthquake faultline) of Indonesia's southern coastline within two years*.

That should be of some comfort to the surviving surfers at Pangandaran.

Saturday followup

Again, we are indebted to Rashid for translating the tsunami warning timeline from Koran Tempo (the daily newspaper of the Tempo group) - login necessary.

Four minutes after the quake struck at 15.19 (Jakarta time) the Agency's "early warning system" automatically sent 400 text messages about the quake to, among others, government officials and radio stations. There was no tsunami warning, however. Moreover, it turns out that many of the intended receivers did not get the message, including the managers of Radio 68H and the state-owned radio network, RRI.

The tsunami hit Pangandaran at 16.15 WIB, about 39 minutes after the tsunami warning was issued by Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and almost one hour after the quake struck.

If someone could acknowledge that there was a breakdown in communications, that no attempt was made to follow up the initial warnings or to check that they were being acted upon, then maybe, just maybe, there is hope for the future.

Hope that the tsunami warning system promised by SBY will be effective because there will be an agency responsible for its maintenance and for disseminating the appropriate responses to those affected by the warnings.

An effective tsunami early warning system is achieved when all persons in vulnerable coastal communities are prepared and respond appropriately, and in a timely manner, upon recognition that a potentially destructive tsunami is coming.

Timely tsunami warnings issued by a recognized tsunami warning centre are essential. When these warning messages are received by the designated government agency, national tsunami emergency response plans must already be in place so that well-known and practiced actions are immediately taken to evaluate the scientifically-based warning, and communicate an appropriate course of action to ordinary citizens.

Tsunami preparedness programmes must already have started so that good decisions can be made without delay.

However, with officials still more concerned with saving face, I'm beginning to think that first they should lose their jobs. (Some are calling for their heads.)

*Tempo reports that six early warning signals are to be installed off the West Sumatra coastline.

The signals or sirens will be built around a kilometer from the beach of five cities and regencies located along the coastline. Two of them are in Padang and the remaining sirens will be in Pesisirselatan, Kota Pariaman, Padangpariaman and West Pasaman.

"It is expected to be finished by the end of 2006," Sumarso, Head of BMG of Padangpanjang, said today. Similar sirens will also be constructed in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and Bali.

Those affected by the recent tsunami hope that the southern coastline of Java will also be equipped with a similar system. And let's not forget other islands.

In recent history, before December 2004 in Aceh, there was a devasting earthquake and tsunami that killed 3000 people in Maumere, Flores, a region still prone to earthquakes.

But it's not just Indonesia that's at risk, of course. This country is the outer edge of the Pacific Rim, encompassing many countries. One should surely expect a more concerted international focus on natural disasters than the odd conference.

Outpourings of sympathy from heads of state following periodic 'Acts of God' are of minimal value. An animal that is capable of collectively consuming everything in sight is surely capable of exercising some control over the destiny of potential consumers.


9:00 pm |
Thursday, July 20, 2006
  Troll Fishing?

Ujang at Café Salemba thinks that Indcoup and I like to "just love to rile up unsuspecting people for (y)our own amusement every now and then."

If only that were true, Ujang, if only. Read Indcoup's post today and ask yourself how much of what he has written about Governor Sooty's belated earthquake advice rings true.

If you are outside:
1.Calmly move to an open area (plenty of those in Jakarta, ain't there?)

Since time immemorial, politicians have made themselves easy targets for lampooning. Of course, they don't like it as it implies that the electorate isn't happy with their performance*. Still, it is the job of the media ~ and now we must include the blogosphere in this sector ~ to highlight cases of malfeance and hypocracy wherever and whenever we find it.

So, for my amusement and yours, consider this story in today's Jakarta Post.

Lawmakers made a plea (yesterday) for the Press Council to rein in the media, which they said had gone too far in criticizing the House of Representatives.

Apparently dismayed by media reports highlighting political bickering, scandals and absenteeism, scores of legislators on Commission I on foreign affairs, military and the press accused news outlets of trying to belittle their contributions to democracy.

Lawmaker Sidarto Danusubroto of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) told a hearing with the Press Council that .... the media's actions were part of a plan to return to an authoritarian form of government by making the legislative body look incompetent.

"Can't the Press Council do something about this?" Sidarto asked.

Press Council member Sabam Leo Batubara said some coverage of House politics is driven by legislators themselves, "After all, I know there are dozens of journalists who are on House members' payrolls and have been used to further their political interests."

Eh? Legislators suggesting that journalists are biting the hands that feed them?

Do we really need to "rile up" people, Ujang?

For more amusement, read this advert and try to understand this ad for Penamas Filter kretek cigarettes which IndoneShop.com directly ships from Indonesia by fresh packaging.

Other cigarette delivering birth from coldy town, Malang. Some of its factory even have reached many other cold town in all Java.
Whoever know how to grasp the cold of Malang area, Bogor, Pacitan, and other towns in Java. Likely not far differ from towns in Europe.
A lot even do not finally know that can dissipate to feel warm by smoking kretek cigarette.
That is why Penamas succeed to create kretek cigarette which will be sucked by millions of human being in all cold states in Europe even America.

Ignore the heatwave which is currently smothering Europe and the USA, and ponder the location of America.

*Prime Minister Tony Blair is apparently a Charlton supporter so I don't think it's fair to lampoon him.

Prime minister Tony Blair took the opportunity of Prime Minister's Question Time today to praise the action of the Addicks in securing an extended contract for Darren Bent.



2:48 pm |
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
  Did you feel it?

There was another earthquake off the northern tip of Java an hour ago ~ just before 6pm local time.

This one was felt here in Jakarta, although in Jakartass Towers, a bungalow, the only effects are our headaches.

Obviously we are going through a major tectonic movement of this part of the Earth. This can be monitored through the two links above, courtesy of the US Government Science Dept.
Earthquake Hazards Program, from where comes this map.



6:51 pm |
  Bandung 1.10pm

Just back from first visit to Pangandaran trying to find some people (and to check on condition of holiday home).
Probably delayed shock, but can't stop crying. I've never, never seen anything like this. Unbelievable devastation. Just rubble and little else. Dogs still pulling bodies out.
Only food is stuff sent from Bandung. I've got enough tins for a while but there's nothing fresh.
Certainly no beer anywhere; and just when I need it most.

A friend

Other info. coming through indicates that there isn't a groundswell of aid arriving in the coastal region, except, possibly, from Bandung, as the regional centre. Vice President Kalla has indicated that local authorities will be responsible for the rescue efforts, with some financial help from central government.


1:20 pm |
  Cry Wolf?

Officials received a tsunami warning 20 minutes before the first wave (of two) hit the southern shores of Java. They did not act upon it because they were too busy monitoring the aftershocks of the 7.7-magnitude quake that triggered the tsunami to raise the alarm.

The government's science and technology minister, Kusmayanto Kadiman, confirmed last night that Indonesia had received bulletins from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii and Japan's meteorological agency after the quake, but "we did not announce them".

"If it [the tsunami] did not occur, what would have happened?" he said in Jakarta.

Some 341 (and rising ~over 200 are missing) deaths would not have occurred?


6:30 am |
Monday, July 17, 2006
  Another Tsunami

Dozens dead in Indonesian tsunami (BBC)

At least 100 people have been killed in a tsunami triggered by an earthquake off the island of Java, an aid agency in Indonesia said.

The earthquake, which had a magnitude of 7.2, struck off the town of Pangandaran at 1519 local time (0819 GMT), causing a two-metre-high wave.

One resident, Teti, said high waves had destroyed hotels in Pangandaran and thrown boats onto the beach.

"Waves suddenly came and we ran to the hills," she told local radio. "Many small hotels were destroyed," she said.

Putu Suryawan, of Red Cross disaster relief, said 105 people were believed to have been killed, with 148 injured and 127 still missing.

At least 2,000 people are also thought to have been displaced from the area.

A local official, Rudi Supriatna Bahro, said that thousands of people had sought refuge in mosques and other safe places.

(Obviously lessons have been learned from Aceh where mosques were among the few buildings left standing after the tsunami in December 2004.)

Earlier, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the search was still ongoing for the missing. Mr Yudhoyono urged residents in coastal areas to move to safer places and said that rescue teams had been sent to the affected area.

A low-lying isthmus mainly for holiday makers and fisherfolk, Pangandaran has long been a beautiful bolthole. Our thoughts, naturally, go to those affected and we can, with horror, imagine the damage done.

I've posted the news on Indonesia Help. If you have any specific offers of help, appeals etc. do email Enda or me and we'll post them there.


8:00 pm |
Sunday, July 16, 2006
  Of course, the world intruded ...
..... as soon as we left our little haven.

There was evidence of massive deforestation, though whether these hills were covered with primary forest or rubber plantations before palm oil became more profitable, I'm not sure. It's still a bleak outlook though, isn't it.

One trend which somewhat disturbed me was to see many newly refurbished warungs and workshops painted in the colours and the logos of unfiltered clove cigarettes (kretek) such as Djarum Coklat ~ This is other side of withdrawal things from this cigarette. Only 10 sticks in its pack, can inhale millions of society lips in the world. You surely know its secret. This cigarette have potency which is out of proportion to wrapped as small as this. Hence, don't you assume that small you are, you are the most 'istimewa' (special).

There was the added incongruity of seeing a mosque in the Djarum Coklat corporate colours.

Sampoerna Hijau was similarly ubiquitous ~ Special Kretek for you which love to respect "Hijau" (green colour). Freshness seems once you desisted in it. Go to float far far away to fresher aerospace. Look for light in it but don't forget to carry Sampoerna Hijau. Face a period of your old without any hackneyed. Hence, your most real friend is the 'Green' Sampoerna Hijau.

Sejati was also logo'd everwhere and may be another kretek cigarette, but I don't believe (can't believe!) that it's connected with this company.

The journey back took much longer than we would have hoped due to the many, very many, potholes. It also didn't help arriving in time for Jakarta's Friday evening let's-get-out-of-town traffic jam. All in all, the holiday was soon over.

So I weeded out the 40+ spam messages and did my best to get up to speed on what we'd missed, like bomb outrages and corrupt generals doing a bunk. Apart from Charlton signing Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink, possibly the only good news I've noted, and I reserve judgement on the new citizenship law, is that the hot mud still flowing in East Java apparently makes great bricks. This somehow pleases the displaced factory workers and rice farmers.

And I soon discovered that in the blogosphere prejudices are in full flow.

Indonesia Matters has had a debate on the The Crusades & Liberal Islam for a week or so, with a few commentators getting hot under the collar at the notion that nigh on eight hundred years ago Muslims were responsible for a massacre or two.

The debate has got quite historical as well as hysterical, but not as much as over at Indcoup who has had the temerity to suggest that the faithful who wish to get up at 4.30 a.m. should buy a decent alarm clock.

In a pluralistic society, it is distinctly anti-social (and unnecessary) to wake up all and sundry at such an ungodly hour.

For comments such as this, Indcoup has received emailed 'death threats' and Indonesia Anonymus last month received 127 hate mails, presumably from the kind of men who will do anything to bring about a fundamentalist Islamic society, except, of course, actually move to one.


9:08 am |
Saturday, July 15, 2006
  When I try to be normal I disconcert *

This was our breakfast view for a few days.

And the hotel played Jon Bon Jovi, loudly, which I found so disconcerting that I almost became normal and screamed at the staff to switch off that f***ing noise. I didn't because, luckily, I discovered that they had a cassette of local gamelan dedung music which provided the appropriate meditative wake up.

And the sound of the sea is so soothing that we all slept for much longer than we do here. I'd also forgotten the pleasures of reading good fiction, my choice being The Business by Iain Banks ~ a nice book and a really good read. One for lazy summer afternoons.

It was good, too, being almost divorced from the outside world.

Almost, until we visited the local fish market and saw these sharks losing their fins to Chinese gourmandisers.

Almost, until we came across this recently felled mahogany tree in the local nature reserve. The sawdust was dry.

Our Kid and I got lost in the jungle so our ramble took a couple of hours longer than anticipated. Another day we also walked the 2½ kilometres into the hills to the hot springs.

We decided to also walk back so we could take a picture of the scenic route and garbage dump.

So our legs ached, but no matter. There was always a refreshing drink to be had.

*My title is from an article about Wyatting (vb) which you may find of interest.


11:30 am |
Monday, July 10, 2006
  Brain Wash

For a few days we're going from this ...

to this ...

Keep those comments flooding in.



7:30 pm |
  Where's my stash?

A former soldier invalided out of the army with Gulf war syndrome is being questioned by police about the killing of his uncle, aunt and two cousins at close quarters with a silenced pistol.

He was named locally as David Bradley, 40, who fell ill after serving in Iraq in the first Gulf war and was looked after by his uncle and aunt as he struggled for years with psychiatric illness. Detectives are urgently trying to find out how he obtained and hid a lethal arsenal, including the pistol, a shotgun and an army-issue thunderflash device which had been wrapped in a cocoon of nails.

I'm only linking to this story as it is, in microcosm, a mirror of a major news story here.

Army chief Djoko Santoso announced last week that his office had discovered 145 rifles, 42 handguns, more than 28,000 bullets, nine grenades and 28 pairs of binoculars in (recently deceased Brig. Gen.) Koesmayadi's house in Ancol, North Jakarta.

There is no suggestion that Koesmayadi was about to run amok and wipe out his family, but until there is full disclosure from the investigative team, consisting of members of the TNI Military Police Center (Puspom) and the Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS) set up by SBY, rumours and conjecture are the order of the day.

Was the stash intended for taking up arms against the government? Unlikely, given that Koesmayadi was in the same graduating class as Army Chief of Staff General Djoko Santoso.

What this case appears to demonstrate is that the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) have yet to come fully under civilian control. During the Soeharto era, the TNI had to largely fend for itself in terms of procurement of arms and funding, a habit it has not given up.

For the past four years, Koesmayadi dealt with the procurement of military equipment for the army. In this position, the duty of this one-star general was to search for guns and ammunition for the army.

One would expect there to be proper procedures and documentation regarding the movement of military arms, but as that hasn't yet been fully achieved in the UK, what hope is there here?

According to military observer Edi Prasetyono, this case is a reflection of the disarray regarding procurement in the TNI and the tip of the iceberg regarding military problems in Indonesia.

Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono tended to agree, saying, "We have known for the past several years that many are working independently in each unit of the TNI." This unofficial network involved in the purchase of weapons started before the US weapons embargo against Indonesia was lifted.

With an 'unofficial' network, it is seemingly inevitable that arms go 'astray' and end up serving nefarious purposes in, say, Aceh where there appear to have been "systematic attempts" to shatter the peace.

The most visible trait in the systematic campaign was the sudden presence of roving vendors in Aceh, even in remote regions.

"They peddle goods that are actually not needed by poor Acehnese such as paintings, ice creams and electrical appliances and it is strange to see them being sold in remote villages," Otto Syamsuddin Ishak of the Jakarta-based Aceh Working Group (AWG) said, adding that the peddlers were all well-built men and had the freedom to get into government offices.

Another worrying trend is the rising illicit trade of small arms and light weapons. "Most illegal small arms went to the members of pro-Jakarta militia groups," Otto said.

So, what are your conclusions?

The Jakarta Post today has Permadi, a PDI-P legislator saying that the TNI knew about the stash in 2002.
Go figure.



12:00 pm |
Sunday, July 09, 2006
  Sumatran Ground-cuckoo

Thanks DJ for alerting me ~ us ~ to this very important news.

Tiger trap goes cuckoo

A camera-trap operated by a joint Indonesian and British team of scientists surveying for tigers in a former logging concession close to Kerinci Seblat National Park in northern Sumatra, Indonesia, has photographed a Sumatran Ground-cuckoo (Carpococcyx viridis), one of Asia's rarest birds. The endemic ground-cuckoo has only been recorded once previously in the last 90 years, when a bird was trapped in southern Sumatra in 1997. Prior to that, only eight specimen records existed.

"We've photographed Rhinoceros Hornbills and Great Argus before but we couldn't believe it when we photographed a Sumatran Ground-cuckoo," said Yoan Dinata, field team leader of Fauna & Flora International's Indonesia Programme.

"This exciting discovery highlights the importance of conserving formerly selectively logged concessions around national parks. Sumatra's lowland rainforests will be destroyed through illegal and unsustainable logging activities unless we protect them now." - Sukianto Lusli, Executive Director of BirdLife Indonesia.

"Re-finding this Critically Endangered species close to Kerinci Seblat is especially exciting," said project manager Dr Matthew Linkie of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent.

"We've recently shown how critical Kerinci Seblat is for the long-term survival of Sumatran tigers (a reference to a study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology), but finding the Sumatran Ground-cuckoo gives me hope, because it was photographed in disturbed forest that had been left to recover near the national park," he added.

Given its location, we ~ those of us involved in Hotel Rimbo ~ must keep our eyes open so as to not allow the cuckoo to be kicked out of its nesting ground.


9:30 am |
Saturday, July 08, 2006
  We will fight them on the beaches ...

Whilst loads of us baby boomers are fabricating our pasts for the benefit of our progeny, it's good to see that we haven't lost our true British grit.

Incidentally, "I was at the Isle of Wight rock concert..." but I was asleep, curled up in my Czech army greatcoat, as Jimi Hendrix gave his last live performance.


11:00 am |
Friday, July 07, 2006
  Ok Pak, Saya bisa bantu.
.... (Ok Mr, I can help)

This week corruption has reared its ugly head in our blogs. Sad really.

Oigal paid up when a traffic policeman suggested that he, the cop that is, could help dispose of the fine for not wearing a seat belt. Oigal then suggests that there are certain factors which determine the scale of the fees. For expats, or bulés in the local racist vernacular, there is the Pajak Kulit (Skin Tax) - you pay more. Speaking Indonesian will reduce the rate.

Indonesia Anonymus confess to inculcating the culture of corruption in their children.

The younger played the robber (who) got caught by the cop (but) refused to cooperate.
"Hey, you're caught already. You can't move your car!" said the older.
"Who cares," said the robber brother,"You're just a policeman. I can always pay you off...!"

Our colleague overheard that. Thinking that bribing is not a skill she wants her children to have, she interfered: "Adik! Why did you say that? That's bad. Bad, bad, bad ! Who taught you that?"

And the answer made her jaw drop.

"You did, Mommy..."

Among the comments following my post on Tuesday about the complications faced by those of us with mixed-marriages (by which I'm referring to expat-Indonesian rather than man-woman) are the following:

Jakartass, you live in Indonesia for so long but sometimes I feel like you've been here for less than a year. Man, just pay the kantor sipil guys some extra cash and consider everything done. No problems with change of a citizenship or anything alike. You get the paper without any problems, they get some extra cash for holidays on top of their ridiculous salaries, it's a mutual benefit and everyone is happy.

At least you have the option of paying a little pungli at the kantor sipil.
goblog k

Isn't it a shame that we have that option?

Some years ago I briefed a group of petroleum engineers who had just completed a pre-departure course. They were off to the UK for a six-month training course. I pointed out to them that if they lost their passport, traveller's cheques etc., the first thing they should do was to report the loss to the local constabulary. But, never, never, never ... and I rubbed my thumb and first two fingers together in the universal gesture of giving money.

The then head of the Pertamina Training Department turned to Dave, a colleague, and asked him if he'd ever paid a bribe, Dave answered, "Yes, often," and the Pustiklat Head stormed out of the room.

Funnily enough, Dave and I have never run a course for Pertamina again.


6:30 pm |
Thursday, July 06, 2006
  Happy Birthday, George, 60 today, healthy-ish and still a kid who likes playing with guns.

Brain Challenge
What was President Bush's favorite subject in school?
Where did President Bush attend college?
How many Presidents served before President Bush?
What was President Bush's job before he became President of the United States?
Name two of President Bush's goals for America.
Challenge Question: What is the meaning of working together in a bipartisan spirit?

Share your answers with a parent, teacher or other adult.

Another George Bush (+ Abdul Kader Faris Abed El-Hussein) will have his birthday next Tuesday.

As far as can be ascertained, George Bush's parents named him in honor of some Western leader one of whose recent feats they found to be not only impressive and admirable, obviously, but worthy enough to name their new-born son after. They must have been plenty impressed, in view of the fact that they gave their child the name of someone not of their faith, with linguistic roots not of their culture. (Sort of like a Westerner - say, someone from the Bush clan - giving a newborn son a name such as Mohammed Ahmed Yusuf Bush.)

Back in the real world, Rob Paiton at Paras Indonesia comments on the draft Citizenship Bill.

... the lack of dual citizenship increases the difficulties for mixed marriage couples, primarily as the foreign spouse is always in need of an employment sponsor and must always 'be in work' to remain legally in Indonesia. Until Indonesia enacts some long-term residency legislation or embarks on some sort of skilled migration program, then many of the primary issues remain.

Interestingly, Article 20 (3) allows for the granting of a form of permanent residency based on the prevailing regulations. This too, is of little assistance as the current prevailing regulations would not allow for foreigners to be resident in Indonesia without the requisite business or employment sponsor. For this provision to be effective there needs to be a mechanism in place that allows the Indonesian spouse to sponsor their foreign spouse with respect to residency.

Hear, here, Rob.


5:30 pm |
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
  What the right hand giveth ...
..... the left hand takes away.

I commented a week ago on the proposed revisions to Indonesia's nationality laws.

As I understood it then, Our Kid would have dual citizenship of Indonesia and Britain until he's 18, when he'll have a choice to make. All eminently fair, sensible and in line with other countries.

'Er Indoors and I have even got as far as talking about getting 'properly' married, thereby removing any potential stigma to Our Kid - his birth certificate currently states that he was born out of wedlock.

There's a very good reason for this, one acknowledged by the many expat/Indo couples we are acquainted with. Where a couple with an expat husband follow the current full and proper marital procedures, any children of the union automatically assume his nationality. As expats we are bound by immigration rules and regulations which are very expensive! The procedures involve trips to Singapore to obtain the visas, umpteen photos of varied sizes and variable background colours, and woe betide those poor folk with laid back ears ~ both must be visible. Then there are journeys to assorted offices, a time consuming activity best delegated to an agent or two.

Far better to 'live in sin', let the offspring have the mother's nationality, Indonesian, and save oodles of rupes.

A year ago, I quoted legislation committee member, Nursjahbani Katjasungkana, as saying that the purpose (of the new legislation) would be to erase as much as possible all discriminatory items in the existing law - especially those regarding women and children.

Well, all is not as it seemed a week ago, let alone a year.

The rehashed bill on citizenship has been criticized by a coalition of non-governmental organizations for allowing discrimination against women and endangering their rights.

The Network for Pro-women National Legislation Program said the latest draft of the soon-to-be-passed bill was rife with conditions that would leave women vulnerable to losing their citizenship.

The network's biggest cause for concern is Article 26, which stipulates that a female spouse will lose her citizenship once she marries someone of foreign nationality.

It said that the term contradicts a general principle that prohibits the revocation of citizenship because of marriage.

"This is discrimination against women, as a wife should not involuntarily lose her citizenship, aside from it being of her own free will," the coalition said in a statement.

There is no similar condition for Indonesian men marrying foreign women.

The Amended 1945 Constitution, 1999 Human Rights Law and 1984 Law on the Eradication of Discrimination against Women have disallowed discrimination based on marriage.

A major problem is that the legislature is rushing this bill through, probably so that they can say that they've actually done something other than discuss pornography.

And the result could well be that umpteen happily 'married' couples will end up being condemned by society, possibly even prosecuted, for not being properly betrothed, whilst our progeny are declared to be halal.

Ho harum.


5:00 pm |
Monday, July 03, 2006
  As clear as mud

A week after I criticised the Bakrie clan for not being seen for taking responsibility for the Sidoarjo mudflow in East Java, they have finally taken notice.

What has long been waited for has eventually happened. In Porong market, Sidoarjo, East Java, Nirwan Bakrie (brother of Abdurizal, Minister for People's Welfare), accompanying the entourage of Vice President Jusuf Kalla, arrived to meet with the thousands of victims evacuated because of the mudflow disaster. The appearance of the person who now controls the Bakrie Group of businesses, on Tuesday last week created a great deal of attention.

He was directly bombarded with demands for compensation. This is because Lapindo Brantas Inc., a subsidiary of the Bakrie Group, stands accused of being responsible for the hot mudflows that have appeared during this month in the subdistrict of Porong, Sidoarjo.

The mudflows have covered the villages of Jatirejo, Renokenongo, Siring and Kedungbendo. Previously productive paddy fields that are also now covered in mud total about 127.29 hectares, while another 503 hectares are threatened. The mudflows have also flooded part of the Gempol-Surabaya toll road to a height of 20 centimeters.

The volume of the mudflows has increased rapidly from an average of 5,000 cubic meters per day to 50,000 cubic meters. In total, the overall amount of the mudflows has now reached 1.1 million cubic meters-the equivalent of 183,000 average size truckloads.

The indepth article in Tempo InterActive goes on to infer that share transactions were completed and the drilling contract was awarded with unseeming speed "because of someone close to Lapindo".

It is clear that negligence was to blame for the leak. A casing casing of 9 and 5/8 inches (around 25 centimeters) in diameter had to be installed at a depth of 8,500 feet (2,590 meters). The function of this casing was to prevent any potential leakage of moving mud and mudflow from kicking to the surface. It wasn't installed.

So we can forget the early (and convenient) excuse that the leak was caused by the earthquake which devastated the area around Yogya some two days earlier.

So, what to do? As Yosef Ardi reports today, there's an easy answer, albeit another environmental disaster - the frustrated deputy regent of Sidoarjo Syaiful Illah said over the weekend that Madura Strait will likely be the final shelter of the hot mudflow chanelled through Porong River.

That the leak was the result of a human error, presumably explains the timing of the government's announcement that they have decided to rush ahead with their scheme to build a nuclear power station on the densely-populated slopes of Mount Muria - a dormant volcano in Jepara regency on the northern coast of Central Java (and a bit closer to Yogya than Sidoarjo) - despite concerns over the enforcement of safety standards and the area's susceptibility to earthquakes.

Tempo InterActive Poll
Must sanction be imposed against PT Lapindo Brantas for the sulfurous mud and gas burst in Sidoarjo?
Yes - 100% - so said all 12 of us when I voted.


4:00 pm |
Sunday, July 02, 2006
  Sunday Soliloquy

1. How To Open A Coconut

This is a skill that takes lots of practice and an instruction manual.

Time for some fun! Grab your hammer and bash away! I wouldn't recommend doing this on your counter, you will need to hit is rather hard. Do it on the floor, or better yet on brick or concrete.

They're a bit more sophisticated in Samoa.

To crack the coconut open, Samoans use a rock, stick, or back of a heavy knife. Simply locate the seam that runs between the "eyes," turn the coconut sideways, and strike that seam along the coconut's "equator." One good whack should do it. Of course, some or most of the relatively clear "juice" is going to spill out.

Monica collects tea bags. She is an Argentinian living in Israel.

To collect tea bags seems a strange hobby, but as one gets to know it, falls in love with it. I always liked the different types of teas and infusions, its tastes and aromas, and was always attracted by envelopes varieties, but I´ve never happened to collect them.

She now has over 6,000 but only this one from Indonesia.

Jesus Of The Week gives you just that - a different Jesus every week. Unfortunately my dial-up connection, via Telkom and/or Indosat, doesn't let me download the complete page. Are Indonesian ISPs Muslim?

Jesus Saves. And Spends.

I suppose I'm disappointed that England are out of the World Cup, but as I got Portugal in the office sweepstake I'm only a little disappointed.


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