Wednesday, January 31, 2007
  Double Speak

Firstly, having been somewhat perversely verbose in articulating how the educational institute which employed me has flouted Indonesia's Manpower regulations, let me briefly tell you that we have now been informed that the Board are willing to meet us to resolve our claim. I don't know if my writing here and your very welcome comments have shamed them. It could be due to business connections which we discovered yesterday.

In this country it's all about who you know, and they can't be sure that our backers aren't higher up the food chain than theirs - which they are. Still, their brinkmanship is (almost) to be applauded.

Naturally, if our meeting, to be held within a week, fails to take place or to resolve our claim, then we'll publish details of how cronyism can affect, negatively, those not in the loop.

Meanwhile, could someone please enlighten me about the following, which all appeared in the Jakarta Post recently.

1. Officials blame poor hygiene on dengue rise

A misused preposition or more cockeyed thinking?

2. In Papua, the Head of the Mimika Regional Development Board, Omah Laduani Ladamany, said that by prioritizing the development of human resources the administration hoped to improve the welfare of the people in Mimika.

Isn't that a bit like saying that we hope to win and hope not to lose?

3. The network of HighScope Schools placed a nice expensive ad claiming that they are "Leading The Human Development Pradigm". What the hell is that supposed to mean? The rest of the text is bleeding obvious with the usual claptrap about "maximising potential" and "learning from one another".

And because it's there ...........

Welcome to the official website of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS).

As Britain's secret service, SIS provides the British Government with a global covert capability to promote and defend the national security and economic well-being of the United Kingdom. SIS operates world-wide to collect secret foreign intelligence in support of the British Government's policies and objectives.

Regional instability, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and illegal narcotics are among the major challenges of the 21st century. SIS assists the government to meet these challenges. To do this effectively SIS must protect the secrets of its sources and methods. This factor is reflected in our website.

In other words, they say very little in a few words.


10:00 am |
Monday, January 29, 2007
  Well bred and well read

We expatriates striving to make a life and a living here have it much better than those who came before us because they came to fight battles.

As a Brit abroad, I generally take an interest in the connections I can make with those who came before, and not necessarily with the movers and shakers such as Stamford Raffles.

I have given a plug or two to Foreign Fields Forever, a slim, self-published volume written by a fellow Brit, Dave Jardine, a long-term expat friend with an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Indonesian and Carlisle United. This was about an episode of modern military history few are aware of, the use of British troops and Indian Ghurkhas, to support the Dutch attempt to recolonise Indonesia following the defeat of the Japanese in 1945. 715 British soldiers died in that episode, most wishing that they had already been demobbed. After all, World War II was over, wasn't it?

Now another familiar fellow expat is engaged in a piece of research into a hitherto little-known episode of expatriate influence here.

Bartele Santema is a Dutchman with a number of bars in town, such as Bugils, One Tree, Cazbar and Eastern Promise, none of which I currently frequent, alas a lack (of cash).

A few days ago, he discovered the existence of a 'Java Hill' in a dark corner of Africa. I became intrigued by the origin of the name, and the awoken awareness that traditional Indonesian batik is very popular on the west coast of Africa.

Between 1831 and 1872 some 3,000 African recruits sailed from Elmina (now part of Ghana) to Batavia. They had been recruited to serve in the Dutch colonial army, which throughout most of the 19th century experienced a chronic shortage of European manpower. After their contracts expired, some returned to the Gold Coast where these veterans settled in Elmina on allocated plots behind St. George's Castle, on a hill still known today as Java Hill.

Others, having established families during their long years of army service, opted to settle in the East Indies. They became the founding fathers of the Indo-African communities in the Javanese towns of Purworedjo, Semarang, Salatiga and Solo. On Java, the African soldiers and their descendents became known as 'Belanda Hitam' - Black Dutchmen. An army career became a family tradition, for many sons and grandsons of the African soldiers also served in the Dutch army. After Indonesia's independence, most Indo-Africans opted for repatriation to the Netherlands (around 1950 some 60 families left Indonesia and went to Holland).

Bart is now on his way to Purworedjo for further research. There is a book to be written which I will find much more interesting than his other one.


11:00 am |
Saturday, January 27, 2007
  A F**k You Mentality

My co-author alerted me to an article by Andre Vltchek with the comment that he wished he had written it.

Andre Vltchek - novelist, journalist and filmmaker - is a co-founder of Mainstay Press and senior Fellow at the Oakland Institute. Producer and director of "Terlena - Breaking of a Nation", a feature documentary film about the impact of Suharto's dictatorship on present-day Indonesia

I was going to post the whole lengthy article, with Andre's permission, because it is that good, but then I found it online at World Press.

In many ways, his main point - that the vast majority of 'natural disasters' here are due to 'human error' - is what I've been saying for a long time in this blog.

Indonesians are experiencing lives as dangerous and hazardous as those in war-torn parts of the world. In the absence of comprehensive statistics and comparative analysis, however, few realize it.

Indonesia is poor, but it certainly has the capacity to protect some of its most vulnerable citizens. The main problem is a lack of political will and a system whose priorities lie elsewhere. There is plenty of concrete and bricks to build dams and walls against tsunamis, to reinforce the hills around those towns, which are in danger of being buried by the landslides. One has simply to look around Jakarta where dozens of new shopping malls are springing up and at the palaces being built for corrupt officials.

Failure to deal with the problems of natural and man-made disaster is rooted in the combination of the dominance of the calculus of profit and the system's corruption. Local companies and officials have developed an uncanny ability to profit from everything, even from disasters and the suffering of fellow citizens. When the toll has to be calculated in hundreds of thousands of lost human lives, corruption becomes mass murder.

There has been some 'good' news this week.

Firstly, according to an authoritative report just released, the mud volcano in East Java need not have happened. Abdurizal Bakrie, the Minister of (His Family's) Welfare, tried to weasel his way out of his responsibilities last week by blaming the Yogya earthquake which occurred two days previously.

Nope, says the report, his family-controlled company, Lapindo Brantas which was drilling for gas or oil, demonstrated sheer incompetence. Either that, or can we assume that cost cutting caused the devastation? Certainly, it had bugger all to do with the earthquake, or there would have been more mudholes elsewhere.

Other good news is that the flight recorders, the black boxes which are actually orange, of the ill-fated Adam Air airliner have been found. That they are 2,000 metres down in the Majene Sea off West Sulawesi is not so good, but the technological might of the USA will help retrieve them.

Until the data of the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder is analysed, one shouldn't conjecture the cause of the disaster. However, allegations that Adam Air have violated numerous regulations, thereby jeopardising passenger safety, have been current for some while.

Bill Guerin has an article in the Asia Times which comprehensively damns the profit-driven arrogance of the politically well-connected Adam Air management.

Former Adam Air pilots have in recent days given a series of press interviews accusing senior management of putting profits before safety.

Salahuddin claimed that on (one) occasion he was coerced into signing an aircraft-maintenance log without a mandatory check by engineers before a scheduled two-hour flight from Jakarta to Medan.

Feisal Banser ... said in press interviews that he was grounded for a week by senior management over his refusal to fly after he had exceeded the regulation limiting pilots to five daily takeoffs. "Every time you flew, you had to fight with the ground staff and the management about all the regulations you had to violate."

Both Salahuddin and Banser have also claimed in recent interviews that spare parts were recycled from other aircraft to save costs, that pilots were put under pressure to break international safety regulations, and that the company bribed aviation officials to look the other way.

It may seem that my particular problem, the profit driven prosperity theology of the supposedly Christian organisation BPK Penabur, pales into insignificance compared to the losses of life highlighted above. I have merely lost my livelihood ~ as did another 14 (45%) of the expatriate staff in Jakarta.

But all these cases are about the violation of statutory regulations for short-term financial gain. They all reflect the fuck you attitude which rides rough shod over the rights of others, statutory or otherwise.

And it is a sad commentary on the country which has been my home for over nineteen years.


11:30 am |
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
  It doesn't cost much .... 5

As it is cheaper to buy a new DVD machine than to have it repaired, it is, I suppose, little wonder that there is little pride of possession. Quantity replaces quality.

Unfortunately, this rapacious and unthinking perspective is also all-pervasive in the pompously titled human resource development departments. People are but cogs in a machine, inter-changeable and fully disposable. You don't have to accept this job; we can always get someone cheaper.

Clock in, clock out. Do your job and don't complain. You are in our employ purely at our pleasure, for our profits.

How we live by time
Dave Allen

A watch, a clock.
We're brought up to respect the clock, to admire the clock.

We live our life to the clock.
You wake to the clock.
You go to work to the clock.
You clock in to the clock.
You clock out to the clock.
You come home to the clock.
You eat to the clock.
You drink to the clock.
You go to bed to the clock.
You go back to work to the clock.

You do that for forty years of your life.
You retire.
And what do they fucking give you?

A clock!
Of course, when you don't know the aims of the company, it can be very difficult for employees to stick with the game plan. Penabur has never issued its expatriate employees a 'Vision and Mission Statement'.Trust? Oral agreements which are reneged because there are none in writing. Employment contracts which, apart from the original ones two and half years ago, cannot have been agreed, as required by law, with the Manpower Ministry as the contracts themselves do not encompass terms and conditions as specified by law?

Trust? When every working expatriate in Indonesia is aware of the consequences - potential deportation and blacklisting - of being caught with inadequate paperwork? There are few expatriates within the Penabur organisation who have not found themselves in this predicament for variable lengths of time.
Agreed, but what is the job? The only job descriptions were issued in in August 2004, and none since. There is no support system for the expatriate teachers. There have been four teacher co-ordinators (in two years!) who have been unable to offer support to NETs as they had absolutely no support from management themselves.
Within Penabur's UPI programme there is no fixed salary scale for the teachers as, according to Pak Robert Robianto, the Chairman of BPK Penabur, Jakarta, there are budgetary constraints and the programme is "borderline financially". Teachers are expected to negotiate their own terms, a demeaning process for those professionals who believe that education is a service to be provided rather than a product to be sold.

The lasting impact is that in the first two years, about half of the expatriate staff have left, mostly pushed rather than jumped, full of resentment at the disrespectful and , inhumane* treatment.

I am one of those, but I am not alone. In my (our) efforts to negotiate and to reach an amicable settlement, the blame for the non-payment of agreed (in writing) monies due, for the uncertainty of expatriate employment and worker status, for the perceived non-payment of income tax and for the many other irregularities, both contractural and structural, the blame game has almost reached the bottom rung of the administrative staff.

I always got on with the security guards and office boy. Perhaps they'll give me satisfaction. After all, they're not the ones facing trial in open court.

By the way, the fine words in italics are those of Pak Oki Widjaya - CEO Galva Corporation and, I understand, chair of the UPI Board. He is one of those responsible for the predicament that BPK - Penabur now finds itself in. He is sitting on the left of the front row. Note that he says one thing about the company that gives his family financial security and another in the 'servitude' of BPK Penabur which screws its employees.

Oh, and Penabur teachers have to clock in and out of their schools.

* I was tempted to write 'inhuman' as the local, Indonesian, teachers have been called 'monkeys' - a particularly rude epithet - by the then Head of Programs. One day he told me that the project had been set up to meet the demands of parents who wanted their children to see a white face in the classroom. A performing monkey, no less.


12:30 pm |
Sunday, January 21, 2007
  "Jesus died for somebody's sins ... but not mine."

I know that this one line from a great song will be offensive to the people pictured here, but then their sins aren't mine. I do not keep people in servitude, I do not lie, I do not knowingly break the just laws of a society and I do not practice Prosperity Theology.

They do. These are the faces of people with such vast egos that they deem it more important to preserve their 'face', a notion based on how high they rank in their mafia-style family oligarchy. I am not a member of this family, thank god - whoever she may be.

You want to know more? Details are here.

For the whys and the wherefores, read It doesn't cost much .... 5. Coming soon.


5:30 am |
Friday, January 19, 2007
  If I blog what I want to blog today I could end up in a little trouble like the two bloggers being victimised in Malaysia, Jeff Ooi and Rocky Bru.

So I'll save it until I'm more rational.

Meanwhile, support them.


10:00 pm |
Thursday, January 18, 2007
  It doesn't cost much .... 4

Education For All in Indonesia wouldn't cost much if there were the infrastructure to provide employment, but I do not intend to pursue that path in this thread. Nor is it my intention to laud the achievements of the Suharto era but one must note the great amount of resources - from the Government, private sources as well as from international donors - which, since 1990, have been devoted to invest in the development of the four program areas - early childhood development (ECD), primary education, literacy programs, and continuing education - through a coordinating scheme among the concerned agencies.

The school system includes a six-year primary school, a three-year junior secondary school, a three-year senior secondary school, and higher education in universities, teacher training colleges, and (vocational) academies.

Under the constitution, education must be nondiscriminatory, and the six years of primary education are free and compulsory. Subsidies are being made available to offer free junior high school schooling. In practice, however, the supply of schools and teachers is inadequate to meet the needs of the fast-growing post primary school age group.

Furthermore, although the Constitution mandates that 20% of the national budget should be allocated to education, this has yet to be achieved. This situation is partly responsible for the growth in the private schools sector and national plus movement, as these schools are able to employ expatriate teachers to offset the teacher supply.

The national education budget was US$ 4.18 billion last year with 31.8 million children enrolled in primary schools and 18.6 million in secondary, mainly junior high - years 7, 8 and 9. Senior high school graduation is a requirement for those wishing to enter university.

It is important to note that in Indonesia the public school sector maintains dual vocational (SMK) and professional streaming (SMU). However, while the number of places in tertiary institutions remains inadequate and education is relatively expensive only a small proportion of SMU students actually participate. This poses some major questions as to the relevance of a purely academic SMU curriculum and the efficiency of a dual system.

Schooling is not, of course, the same as education; it is the study environment. However, every country requires some commonality in its school system in order to promulgate its culture identity, be it founded on a secular or religious basis.

The current Law No. 20/2003 Concerning the National Education System offers the following: Education is defined as a planned effort to establish a study environment and education process so that the student may actively develop his/her own potential to gain the religious and spiritual level, self-consciousness, personality, intelligent, behaviour and creativity to him/herself, other citizens and for the nation.

The right to receive an education is a human right as defined in the United Nations Charter. Katarina Tomalevski, a Special Rapporteur on the right to education submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Commission in 2002 following a visit here at the invitation of the government.

She had this to say: An in-depth review of the nature and scope of Indonesia's human rights obligations in education is necessary in view of the dual system of public and private, religious and secular education, the dichotomy of school fees being both outlawed and allowed, the vertical and horizontal division of responsibilities for financing education, and the dual scheme of civil service and "contract teachers". Moreover, the dichotomy of education as a free public service and as a traded service has exacerbated the confusion regarding Government's human rights obligations in education.

I referred to the 'horizontal division' of financial responsibilities in my comment in It doesn't cost much .... 3 about the decentralisation of responsibilities to local administration. My central thesis, however, has now been reached - the dichotomy of education as a free public service and as a traded service.

The Chinese Education Foundation was founded on July 19, 1950. Its name was changed in 1967 as after more than 25 years of Independence, Indonesian's pride has grown more, such that nation building and character building needed to take a more concrete form. Also, from the content of the founding act, it was very noticeable that the old foundation's Chinese ethnic based on Christianity has changed into Indonesian Nationality based on equal beliefs or religion.

So Yayasan Badan Pendidikan Kristen (BPK) Djawa Barat (Foundation of Christian Board of Education of West Java) was formed with the head office in Jakarta. However, soon another name change was required and registered in 1989.

In the improved social-economic condition and communicational ability, BPK Jabar has made several expansions up to the Lampung area. So a couple of schools under BPK Jabar was built in Bandar Lampung and Metro. With Jakarta no longer a part of West Java and Lampung as a province clearly outside Java, separated by the Sunda Canal, so it has been considered to change the name of Education Foundation in West Java with another - the name of Christian Education Foundation Penabur (BPK Penabur).

And this is the English translation they provide of their prologue: Remembering that Indonesian Christian Church which lives in alliance with the Holy Church in undertaking the call of servitude and testimony is in educational region, so that the Indonesian Christian Church in West Java has founded and nurtured a Christian Education Foundation based on the Christian Faith, in accordance to the awareness that education has the purpose of forming a complete humane. It was also stated that such foundation was situated in Jakarta and based on Pancasila and has the purpose of participating in forming a complete Indonesian humane through the region of education as the realization of the call of servitude and Christian testimony.

I have done my best to cross check this with the version in Indonesian and, yes, 'servitude' is what is meant, even though my too-big-to-tote Websters defines the word thus: the condition of a slave, serf, or the like; subjection to a master, bondage or slavery. The antonym is 'freedom'.

So, where does this fit in with the stated aims of the Indonesian education system, to enable students to actively develop his/her own potential? Where does 'creativity' fit in?

In the next episode of What does it cost ....? I will be focussing on how Penabur is perceived to be failing its students, mainly because it fails to meet the needs of the "essential ingredient for any school", its teaching staff.

Yep, this thread is near the end. Names will be named and crimes will be exposed, and the proof will be in their own words. Or lack of them.

Unless .....


3:00 am |
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
  It doesn't cost much .... 3

General interest in education in Indonesia has grown substantially in the past five years and many Indonesian schools are claiming to be a national-plus school. What this means to the population in general and many parents is ambiguous but it is clear that the term national-plus, as a marketing tool, is a very effective way of attracting increased enrollments to a school. There is more to being a national-plus school, however, than simple and often misleading gimmickry.
The Chairperson of the Association of National Plus Schools - 2006

The first so-called National Plus schools were set up over 10 years ago and there are now about 60 in Jakarta, a proliferation coinciding with the growth of the middle classes. They can afford an alternative to the state schools which have long suffered under-investment as central government prioritised its need to overcome the debt crisis. Another factor for low investment in this sector has been decentralisation and that not all regencies and provinces have the political will or competence to manage the education sector.

However, the government does have a commitment to improving education and making it more widely available. This is in line with the Education for All programme initiated in 1999. Its commitment has been demonstrated with the Social Safety Net providing scholarships to primary, secondary school and university students from poorest families in the whole of Indonesia, providing block grants to schools in poor areas for running the schools during this economic crisis and providing budget to support the implementation of equivalency programs for school-age children (primary and lower secondary schools) who financially are not able to attend the regular school programs, as well as providing more scholarships for secondary school student drop-outs to attend skill training courses.

Changes have also been made to the national curriculum which is now moving towards 'student-centred' education. This is in line with the curriculum from Singapore, adopted by many national plus schools. It is hoped that Indonesian students will graduate with a more worldly knowledge, a sense of curiosity/experimentation and the skills to compete 'in this globalisation era', whatever that may be. Above all, it must be hoped that through this 'new' approach citizens will gradually widen their horizons away from the imposed insularity of the Suharto era.

National Plus schools are more expensive than state schools for a variety of reasons. Certain schools will market themselves on the basis of the facilities that they have to offer. From quality gymnasiums and outdoor facilities to suites of computers, and languages laboratories some schools may be able to offer built facilities of excellence; but facilities alone do not necessarily make a school.

An essential ingredient for any school is its teaching staff and here again many national plus schools show an admirable degree of commitment. The training of teachers and requiring teachers to be updating and developing their teaching material is a quite common experience. Also, a commitment to curriculum development and the utilization of new methods and media for teaching reflect national plus schools' commitment to improving their educational service.
Rachel Davies, an educational consultant - May 2004

The better National Plus schools offer the International Baccalaureat or the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education); those that have been accredited by the relevant boards are not the subject of this particular polemic.

Where major problems lie is when the self-appointed management of a school (or network of schools) preaches a philosophy to its clients, the parents, yet does not understand the principles underlying that concept or the need to employ those who do.

As a part of the planning for improving the quality of education, Indonesia recognizes that unless the schools are being managed efficient (sic) and effectively, we cannot expect that the program will achieve its goals and targets. For this, improving the quality of the school personnel to be capable of managing the school properly is of crucial importance. This is indeed very urgent considering the trend that decentralizing education up to the district level is very soon going to need the support of this policy by the readiness of each school to manage the school program efficiently and effectively.

I take 'decentralizing' to also mean the abrogation of responsibilities to management boards. Although district and regional offices of the Ministry of Education oversee those aspects of the curriculum and management of schools, such as the recognition of teacher competence, pertaining to subjects which are compulsory in Indonesian schools, principals may find that they are chiefly answerable to a school board or 'head office' which is staffed by non-educationalists.

However dedicated principals and their staff may be, their greatest stress comes from being answerable to external pressures. The private sector has now become deeply involved in education and schools; so much so now that it seems that education is seen as a good business prospect and a growing business sector.

Seemingly, not all schools have been established with the primary aim of ensuring educational excellence. For many, it is but one way of creating a profitable business. Hence the number of franchise operations, e.g. HighScope, Singapore International School and the many kindergartens such as Tiny Tots. (NB. Language schools have also followed the franchise route as pioneered by EF. ILP and TBI are two examples of long established organisations which have remodeled their core business post-krismon in order to compete for students.)

One cannot argue against the notion of a school more than covering its costs. Without the excess of income over expenditure, there would be little further investment in what has to be a dynamic enterprise. Schooling, both in theory and practice is in a state of constant flux and that is for the good.

The needs and aspirations of all stakeholders should be met, and they are many and various. Education is a service industry - as Rachel Davies says, teachers are indeed the "essential ingredient", at the heart of a successful school.

Part 4 of 'It doesn't cost much ....' will offer an analysis of one schools' programme which in practice pays little heed to the needs of its core providers.


9:00 pm |
Monday, January 15, 2007
  Too busy to blog

But just time to note that, as reported in The Jakarta Post, there are now diagnostic kits for bird flu which means that confirmation of the presence of the killer virus can be given in two hours rather than the previous three to five days. This is, of course, wonderful news, especially as one third of the 180 bird flu deaths worldwide have been here.

The article also states that this test was announced in Hong Kong and China in 2004, yet won't be here for a couple of months more. Can someone say why it's taking so long for the test to be made available? How many more avoidable deaths will there be?

And this has been a whinge to be read by a fellow blogger, a bottom feeder (his words, not mine), a sole brother by the name of Achmad Sudarsono who, again in his words, is an emerging Indonesian writer, philosopher, social critic, historian and political commentator.

He has obviously benefited greatly from his western education.


5:30 pm |
Sunday, January 14, 2007
  Sunday's Collection

I'll lay off my polemic for today as Sunday is supposedly a day of rest. In churches throughout Christendom, offerings are made, some of which are given in order to demonstrate that the giver is 'holier-than-thou'.

Here is one of them; the rest of us are infidels.

One of my commentators, Mr. Snag, is interested in the blogger more than the blog. As an expat living in, I believe, Bekasi, he should know that we are an assorted lot. Here is a selection of expat teacher writings you may enjoy.

Antony Zak in Makassar
Dr. Bruce in Sumbawa
Stephen also in Sumbawa

Serial blogger Aangirfan, a cooperative of convent school girls, former convent school girls and assorted others, has left a reminder that Indonesia is back on the travel map.

The website of this posh English travel company has fairly typical and patronising guff: From the stone-age tribes hidden in Sulawesi's remote forests to the devout Hindus making their daily sacrifices at Bali's countless temples and shrines, life here proceeds at a different pace, a gentle pageant of custom and tradition in lush, verdant landscapes of great beauty.

Matahari is an expat too, originally from North Sulawesi. Although she's now living and working as an educationalist in Merseyside, UK, and, she says, a typical Cancerian, I wonder if she could let us know about her country cousins,"the stone-age tribes hidden in Sulawesi's remote forests".


10:00 am |
Saturday, January 13, 2007
  It doesn't cost much .... 2

It would be very easy to conclude that this region is one big unmitigated disaster area. According to the WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia, Indonesia experienced 135 ecological disasters last year due to forest and environmental degradation. The executive director of WALHI Chalid Muhammad said, "The disasters started with floods and landslides in Jember, East Java, on January 1, 2006, and closed with floods and landslides in northern Aceh which forced some 70,000 to evacuate to safer areas at the end of last year."

The ecological disasters caused big material losses, and claimed thousands of lives, he said. The floods and landslides that hit Indonesia's Sumatra and Kalimantan islands at the end of the year killed about 300 people. And, of course, they have continued into this year.

He also said that over the last five year, the impacts of environmental damages have increased three times. And the main cause of these preventable disasters?

"Forest exploitations, both legally with the government's permits and illegally."

Pure greed in other words and a total lack of consideration for the consequences of these actions. Whilst the very few enrich themselves and embed themselves in political and business empires, the masses are impoverished. Those forced "to evacuate to safer areas" have to find alternative sources of income to support their families.

Many end up in Jakarta and many more become migrant workers overseas in wealthier countries where, unfortunately, they are often further exploited.

According to Indonesia's Manpower Ministry, around 1.7 million Indonesians work in Malaysia, but 1.2 million of them work illegally. Most of these will have been smuggled in, albeit having 'paid' for their passage by getting into long-term debt as an indentured labourer. Their unjust and unfair employment contracts force them to work long hours at near-poverty level wages in slave-like working conditions.

But today, there is an opportunity for this human wrong to be righted. Leaders of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) are meeting at the 12th Summit being held in Cebu, the Philippines.

The Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) , a network of 260 migrant workers' association, trade unions and migrants' rights advocates in the region, has long urged the members of ASEAN to protect the rights of millions of migrant workers in the region.

Now they have issued a press release:
"Southeast Asia has a large population of labor migrants, many of whose rights are violated on the basis of their race, ethnicity, gender or creed. We call on ASEAN to enshrine in its Charter international core labor standards including freedom of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively and elimination of all forms of discrimination at the workplace."

Today, Saturday, the 10 ASEAN member countries are due to sign a declaration on migrant worker rights which spells out the rights and duties of the receiving and origin countries of the workers. There is one potential stumbling block concerning the rights of migrant workers to have their families with them.

However, this should be resolved as there are 'higher' (UN and ILO) international conventions and agreements which the countries are, by and large, signatories of. It is to be hoped that Indonesia, in particular, will enforce this agreement. Although Indonesia has pledged to ratify the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, it has yet to sign it.*

Given the importance to the Indonesian economy of the inflow of money to migrant worker families, money which one may presume lessens the unemployment rate (40%) and the number of those deemed to be living in poverty, today could be a red letter day. It will be if the government enforces the law.

"Labor migration provides significant economic contributions to both sending and receiving countries. Remittances from labor migrants across the region amount to billions of dollars. If used properly, remittances can be an additional means for just and people-centered development, provided that appropriate institutional support and economic opportunity exists."

Of course, having agreed to protect the rights of migrant workers overseas the Indonesian government must be seen to be enforcing the domestic law on all workers, including we 'migrants'.

*Other Conventions which Indonesia has yet to ratify include the optional protocol to Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), optional protocol to CAT, optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on the involvement of children in armed conflict, optional protocol to CRC on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.


11:00 am |
Friday, January 12, 2007
  It doesn't cost much .... 1

This is not the first in a series of articles outlining and delineating how certain employers here show little regard for the welfare of their employees and their clients. I have already written at length about Bakrie and Lapindo, about Adam Suherman and his plaything, AdamAir, and there is a lot more that can and will be written about their arrogance. However, this the first in a series with the same theme but with a personal angle which will slowly unfold as my legal case reaches up through the echelons.

In one week I will be an illegal alien for the first time in my 19 years here. At that time I will have named the names of those who seek to stigmatise me thus. However, I have not broken any laws here. They have. What is more they continue to do so with those remaining in their employ. I have the full backing of my legal team as we seek a solution. This week's polemics are part of that process. I hope you stick with me. Feel free to comment, but please use a pen name other than Anon.

An educationalist recently told me that the philosophical priority and ethical basis of his chain of schools is to teach students what is right and wrong. I suggested that good and bad are more fundamental concepts. For example, the execution of Saddam Hussein may have been right in judicial terms but the executioners horrified the world because of their display of hatred and bigotry. Because they were bad, this made the act itself inherently wrong.

Our upbringing should guide us to what is right and wrong behaviour. Problems occur when an individual or group imposes its ethical and moral correctness on others who differ in their interpretation.

When I commented that, per se and de facto, good is right and bad is wrong and that these concepts were indivisible, I was told that my thinking is very post-modernist.

Before I get accused of using lexiphanic language, let me just say that I'm not at all certain what a post-modernist is. According to my Webster's Big and Too Heavy To Put In Your Pocket Dictionary which I trust as far as I can throw it, post-modernism means coming after and usually in reaction to modernism in the 20th century, usually in the arts and literature.

Hang on a sec here. 'Modernism' also has a definition, but I think we can all understand that in general it refers to a break with the past, to new methods and tools.

I suppose I am a modernist in at least a couple of respects: you are reading one of the world's top blogs - ranked c.60,000 out of c.36 million active blogs, and both my sons are computer literate because I gave them one when each was 6 years old. However in most others I think I am a pre-modernist.

When I was a lad in London, back in the mists of time admittedly, so was David McKie.

Wartime austerity bred a nation of hoarders for whom spending money on new things was plain wrong.

As Britain recovered from the deprivations and sacrifices of World War II, food and clothing remained rationed. No-one got more than their fair share. School children such as David and myself were given daily doses of vitamins, and we were encouraged to make do, to waste not, want not, to Do It Yourself and, perhaps above all, to not throw things away because it might have a later use.

If a tap (faucet) leaked, we changed the washer.
In Jakarta, we buy a new tap.

If we had a garden, we grew our own fruit and vegetables.
In Jakarta we buy imported mangoes and durians, tropical fruit.

We learned to switch off lights to conserve electricity.
In Jakarta air conditioners are set at 16ºC.

We knew where our water came from - it was recycled 16 times before reaching the sea.
Here taps are left running as if they were mountain springs.

We took our own shopping bags to the shops.
Here, plastic bags are used once, thrown away and thereby worsen floods.

When asked about our future dreams, we would answer that we wanted to be train drivers, nurses or accountants.
A recent survey asked Jakarta high school students what their lifetime ambitions were. A substantial percent said they wanted to be financially rich.

We were encouraged to give back to society something of what society had given us. We helped little old ladies across the street, we did what we were lead to believe was right and proper, and folk thought we were good children.
Here, children learn that right and wrong is about being good or bad consumers, possibly with the help of God, that queuing serves no useful social purpose, nor do other people unless you can benefit from them.

This polemic is not specifically geared towards Indonesian societal expectations: for all I know 'globalisation' has homogenised urban societies everywhere. I have not forgotten about the horrendous underemployment and poverty to be found in urban and rural kampungs which generally have strong communal ties, but then this polemic is focussed on those who think it is their god-given right to exploit others for the immediate gratification of themselves or their group.

I do know that I don't fit into such a society.
I am not a snacker, content with a nibble here, a soundbyte there.

My attention span is quite long:
I can read a novel at one sitting.
I can gaze at a sunset for its duration.
I can listen to a piece of music which is longer than three minutes.

I am happy with my own company but I can be a good host.
I don't need constant entertainment, but I do like strategy games.

The incessant and intrusive pop hit ringtones of handphones are an invasion of my personal space, and, as I have often said, I don't even have one. I don't want the immediacy of contact and access to my privacy. And I certainly don't want to receive and pay for illiterate messages I can't decipher or unimportant news as it happens.

I don't need or want anything that it is instantly consumed without regard for the process of production and digestion and disposed of without due thought for the consequences. And above all, I don't seek any of those things thinking that I do it because God is on my side. That is Prosperity Theology.

Prosperity theology detracts Christians (and every self-confessed adherent to any religion, excepting animists) from worshipping God and leads them to worship material wealth. Idolatry is not just bowing down in front of a statue, it is "making the penultimate, ultimate". Thus, the Christian's objective ceases to be worshipping God and serving Him, but health and wealth in this life.

Therefore, prosperity theology actually makes God into a means towards an end. God becomes the means whereby I enjoy a rich and prosperous life on this earth. In its worst format, prosperity theology seeks to manipulate God .... "in the name of Jesus" (is) a quasi-magical formula used to coerce God into giving me what I want.

Followers of this religious path do everything for show, to make themselves look good when they look in the mirror.

And I fully intend to crack that mirror, to show these idolaters what's on the other side of the Looking Glass.

Freecycling has a group in Jakarta.


9:30 am |
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
  Music To My Ears
....... and hopefully yours.

For much of my research for the update of Culture Shock-Jakarta I have asked for opinions and anecdotes from readers and internet friends. There have been some fascinating responses and I'd love to receive more musings. Everyone should receive an individual reply but you know how much worse the internet is at present here, so if you don't, please nudge me.

One of the questions I posed to my fellow expats was What do you miss most from 'home'? Sample replies include Picnic Horse Races (eh?), football - the real stuff (soccer?), driving faster than 60kph, my family and, of course, the cricket!!!

Probably what I miss most is the wide range of good live music to be found in hundreds of venues throughout London, from the neighbourhood pub to grand concert halls. As regular readers will know, I have eclectic tastes in music, much of it shared with the original author and now my co-author, Derek Bacon.

As part of the rewrite on Jakarta's cultural scene, I've conducted an email interview with Leonardo Pavkovic, CEO of MoonJune Records in NYC - record producer, tour promoter, fan, and frequent visitor to Indonesia. We both share a passion for music of the so-called Canterbury Scene which started some 40 years ago and is still going strong with groups such as Soft Machine, Caravan, Hatfield and the North.

Leonardo, for a number of years you have been organising tours of Asia for the groups and musicians involved with MoonJune. What is it that's putting off promoters like you from booking acts to play in Indonesia? Given that Jakarta and Bali are surely convenient stopovers, why has it been so difficult to arrange gigs here?
L. I guess the major problem was that the Indonesian economy wasn't doing well after the crash in the late nineties. This meant that subsidies were unavailable. For quality foreign music, for sure there are promoters, but then they have to rely on sponsors and sponsors only want commercial music. The same is true for jazz, and it is interesting that in the few jazz festivals in Indonesia there is virtually no jazz. Sadly 'muzak-fuzak' and smooth 'jazzy' pop is considered to be jazz. Dave Koz, Fourplay - is that jazz? Anyway, I have found that in Indonesia there is a solid and healthy, albeit niche, interest in quality music: avant-garde, rock, jazz etc.

Another factor is that there is total misinformation about Indonesia after the bombing incidents in Jakarta and Bali in recent years Somehow it is wrongly thought that Indonesia is not a very safe place to be and to put on shows. This is rubbish. Indonesia has one of the friendliest and sweetest populations on Earth. I feel more secure in Jakarta than in downtown Washington DC or some areas of Detroit. Indonesia, as a Muslim country, albeit a very moderate Muslim country, is suffering the consequences of the confusion in the world and the current worldwide political situation. Unfortunately, insurance companies often cancel already booked shows for 'security reasons'. Apparently things have been getting better lately and I hope it can continue.

J. Is there a limited interest in the music you promote?
L. It is still a niche market, for sure, but Jakarta is certainly better than many other Asian countries, with the exception of Japan, Korea and India. Indonesian fans have to go to Singapore to see gigs. This I experienced during the Allan Holdsworth show when a few dozen Indonesians came.

J. Is it the economy? If all expenses ~ food, accommodation, recreational time etc. ~ were comped, would any groups be interested in coming? Say to JakJazz?
L. Yes and no. It's relative, but a better economy, stronger rupiah and more interest from sponsors and NGOs and government organisations could change the fashion, and it all depends on the promoters. If they have the desire to see things happen, things will happen.

J. A number of the musicians associated with the 'Canterbury Scene' have an obvious affinity with Indonesian music. I'm thinking, for example, of Andy Summers, Colin Bass (Camel) with his Jugula All Stars, and the late Neil Ardley.
L. Bali is very much loved by artists, and Javanese culture also has followers among intellectuals.

J. Are there any Indonesian groups who you feel have an affinity with the 'Canterbury Scene'?
L. Maybe not, even though the 'Canterbury Scene' is known in Indonesia among fans of great music.

J. You have said that "Indonesia has a great tradition". Are you referring to the many different strands of regional music or in once being on the world's gig circuit?
L. Indonesia has a certain nice tradition in listening to and appreciating jazz, classic rock, fusion and jazz-rock, and avant-garde music, I believe, since the early seventies. Quality music is better known than in most other countries in Asia. In terms of gigs, through the eighties and well into the nineties, things were very promising in Indonesia. However, the Asian economic crash, the recent bombings and the weak economy have compromised that tendency.

J. Which Indonesian bands do you think will still be listened to when the next edition of Culture Shock - Jakarta is written, say in 5 years time? And are there any Indonesian bands you feel could have a career outside Indonesia?
L. That's difficult to say. I count on a few very talented bands, like Simak Dialog and Anane, but I'm also closely watching Discus, Nerv, Tomorrow People Ensemble. (Some reviews are here.) There is, of course, Indra Lesmana. Simak Dialog's early albums are 'great'. Just OK, but great musicianship. Then, the third album, the previous one, is very good, but just very good. Anyway, the last album, Patahan, that came out last year and which I am launching now, is VERY VERY VERY GOOD!

I have noticed that Indonesian jazz and prog musicians tend to have smooth jazz affinities, maybe because of the huge smooth jazz impact in SE Asia, maybe they believe it is a safe way to do the music. But I do wish that Indonesian musicians would play more challenging and free, or liberating, music instead of compromising their talents and expressing themselves in so-called Fuzak, Jazzac or uninspired pop-rock.

There is an amazing guitarist, Dewa Budjana , who has just made a great record featuring Dave Carpenter and Peter Erskine (drummer with Weather Report); the music was played and performed brilliantly, with great compositions, but the sound is a bit too 'American'. Too polite. I wish he could do more 'unpolite' music, but he has a great career with Gigi and makes money,

Riza Arshad of Simak Dialog is definitely the greatest musician I have discovered in Indonesia and I know the best of him is still to come. He's an amazing pianist with a great touch and ECM sensibility. I am talking to him to liberate himself and challenge his artistic ego with evolutionary and free music spirit, without being afraid to experiment more, which he will do, and to express himself musically and say what he wants to say.

I'm releasing the new albums of Simak Dialog and Aname on my label, MoonJune Records, and I would like to continue discovering and releasing Indonesian artists and give them the necessary encouragement.

J. Thanks very much, Leonardo, and I look forward to your next visit, hopefully with a band.
L. Me too.

Paul Blair wrote a fascinating insight into Jazz in the Big Mango ten years ago. Paul suggested that it could take two decades for things to get better. Judging from Leonardo's thoughts, he was spot on.


11:00 am |
Sunday, January 07, 2007
  Waiting for Kalla

Vice President Josef Kalla has been busy in his capacity as head of the National Disaster Management Co-ordinating Board. Yesterday he visited the families of those waiting in Makassar for news of their loved ones missing in the AdamAir plane crash. He also went to Surabaya to vist the survivors of the ferry disaster. His message to both groups was similar: the government will continue their searches for survivors and victims.

The messages he received were, sadly, also similar.

In Makassar, a relative was quoted by Reuters as saying: "Ever since I've been here I haven't seen an atmosphere that a disaster has happened. I was tossed here and there. They didn't ask my name". Another pointed out that there is no information centre, no information, no TV and no health post.

In Surabaya, relatives told Kalla that for three days before his arrival they had felt neglected. "When the Vice President came, Hartomo, the president of PT Prima Vista (the ship owner), who had never been around the families of the missing passengers, suddenly showed up. And at the hospital there is now a big sign that says 'Integrated Post for the Ship Sinking', along with a detailed information board and meals for the families."

These are big signs that many folk are incapable of making the decisions for which they are ultimately responsible. Doing nothing in a time of crisis does not make it go away; it only makes the situation worse.

Waiting for Kalla is callous.


5:00 pm |
Saturday, January 06, 2007
  Headlines or footnotes?

News that the Joint Team still searching for the missing AdamAir flight No.KI 574 have called in psychics should not lead to bemusement or cynicism. After all, it's not as if those charged with the territorial search have had any luck. Mind you, I do think it would help if the search and rescue teams were more focussed.

The commander of the Hasanuddin Air Base in Makassar, Sulawesi, Commodore Eddy Suyanto, is quoted in today's Post as saying, "None of our search efforts on land, sea and air have yielded results."

Air? They're still looking in the air? Is that just because he's the local air force chief?

Here are a few more bits of non-news I've gleaned. (One is slightly wrong. Which one?)
And here's one for Greenstump, although to my mind it's really the least important news item.
And the one slightly wrong news item is the one that should read:
And why? Because the USA has been hoarding supplies for their citizens looking to heat their homes in the winter. Except that global warming, exacerbated by the USA government's refusal to do anything about it, has meant that their cold season is not as bleak as predicted.


1:00 pm |
Friday, January 05, 2007
  Taboo to you

One of my legal team holidayed with her daughter on Bunaken island, North Sulawesi over Xmas, and flew back to Jakarta with Adam Air. The plane's next journey was its last and they're still looking for it.

In the midst of all this doom and gloom, a little balance is required, a wry smile or two, which is why I offer you the following.

Expert in all things Indonesian that I am, I've been asked if 'taboo' is an Indonesian word. The quick answer, found in my Webster's Big and Too Heavy To Put In Your Pocket Dictionary and confirmed by googling is that it's a Polynesian word, tabu, which, yes, is also in bahasa Indonesia. This is presumably because it has made its way through Irian Jaya (Papua) into Java; I suspect it made its way into English through our empiric victories.

Maybe this news item can illustrate the meaning of the word. After all, making fun of Muslims is not considered kosher, or perhaps I should say halal.

Over a thousand Turks spent the first day of the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha in emergency wards on Sunday after stabbing themselves or suffering other injuries while sacrificing startled animals.

At least 1,413 people - referred to as "amateur butchers" by the Turkish media - were treated at hospitals across the country, most suffering cuts to their hands and legs, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Four people were severely injured, crushed under the weight of large animals that fell on top of them, the agency reported. Another person was hurt when a crane used to lift an animal tumbled onto him.

Unfortunately (?) I haven't found similar news emanating from Indonesia.


7:30 am |
Thursday, January 04, 2007
  And so it goes ... on and on.

The print version of the Jakarta Post contains gems that you won't find in the online version, not least because their URLs are recycled on a daily basis and you have to register to read their archives. As registration is free, I do wonder what the reason for it is.

Anyway, I digress. Today's Post has two adverts from Adam Air, one, in the Business section, being a repeat of their destinations ~ Manado x 1 dep. 11am. The other advert is the one I would have expected, as I pointed out yesterday. This ad uses an amazing amount of ink as it is in white lettering on a black background, the top half in English and the bottom half in bahasa Indonesia.

Having slagged them off yesterday, it's only fair that I reproduce the following today.

The Commissioners, Board of Directors and Staff of PT AdamAir express their apologies to the families of passengers of the ill-fated AdamAir flight No.KI 574 serving the Surabaya-Manado route on Jan.1,2007, and to all Indonesian people.

May God the Almighty give His protection, strength and perseverance.

Then they give the Crisis Center numbers: 0411 555 732 or 0800 107 0809 (toll free).

Readers may think that what follows is over-pernickety but there are issues here.

Firstly, was the flight 'ill-fated'? Was the end really determined by 'fate' or bad luck? It was known that bad weather was ahead of the flight so, if that was the 'cause', couldn't an alternative route be plotted? Or the flight delayed?

And what's this 'God' stuff? If Mother Nature was involved, then the He must be a She. And for the Adam Suherman family to use God, who believers in most religions say determines our personal fates, is an abrogation of responsibility. So what is the purpose of this 'apology'?

More image protection? Read Nestléquik's account (below) of his encounter with the Suherman clan to understand a little more how they are seemingly only concerned with their image.

It's a shame that the only apology on their website is for the poor internet connection due to the Taiwan earthquake. But then their website is primarily for online ticket bookings which are, so they say:
Oh yeah? This screen shot is from Firefox 2.0.1, (my browser of choice).

So, who do you trust?

Oh, by the way, Adam Air's ad yesterday was an error. But I really don't understand why the Jakarta Post should have to apologise for it.

After all, it was Adam Air who placed the copy and authorised the wording. And if they didn't, then it's just another example of image manipulation


11:00 am |
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
  Face Up

As much as I have tried for more than 19 years to adapt to life here, I do know that I will never be totally assimilated. This is nothing to do with my height, skin colour or inability to become fluent in bahasa Indonesia or the notion that maybe my face doesn't fit.

I have always believed that 'we are all one under the skin' so in accepting our differences there are shared notions of what is good and bad and what is right and wrong for society. A credo of 'do as you would be done by' serves to bind society together. This is the essential core of democracy, the notion that we can all determine our temporal destinies by participating in the decision making process, if only by entrusting others with the temporary power to make decisions on our behalf.

If we disagree with those decisions, then it is our right to protest and to suggest alternatives. There are, unfortunately, occasions when the protesting becomes an end in itself, when the decision makers assume powers beyond their competence and refuse to listen to their constituencies. They surround themselves with lackeys who are generally concerned with protecting the fiefdoms which are theirs by mere association.

This is, of course, a general truth which applies throughout the world. Here in Asia and in particular in Indonesia there is an added dimension which I have great difficulty in comprehending.

Take a couple of examples given in today's Jakarta Post.

First there is is the issue of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Indonesian government and Microsoft. This has been a focus of comment for the past month.

The MoU refers to IDC/World Bank/Intel surveys that estimated the number of PC (needing MS Windows) across the government at 35,496 plus additional 266,220 in the form of license grants. Additionally, they will also need 177,480 licenses for MS Office. While there's no dollar value anywhere on the document, Tony Chen, the local MSFT President put the dollar value of Microsoft revenue loss to piracy in Indonesia at US$187m - so the estimate will be somewhere around that figure.

To put this figure in perspective, the entire Indonesian judicial system gets roughly just a little more than double that figure for their budget this year (they asked for more, but that's how much they get in '06).

(The figure quoted by the Post, as taken from Tempo, is $41.9 million.)

However, ignoring the cheaper options of Open Source software as produced by the Indonesian I.T. community, what has further stirred emotions is a concurrent donation of $1 million "made by Microsoft to SBY when he visited the United States". This donation was "in the form of goods and educational aid". That the MoU is not transparent is a factor in the implication that SBY is not Mr. Clean and this is why the journalist and 'noted economist' Faisal Basri who wrote about the issue in Rakyat Merdeka Online is now facing police action.

And the potential charge? Tarnishing the government's image!

Image? A government which spends tax payers' money without accounting for it and which won't disclose how it will spend a donation gets the image it deserves. A bad one.

The second case of image protection is happening right now with the tragic loss of life in the crash of rhe Adam Air plane in Sulawesi. As I write this (8.30am) the plane has not yet been found, which makes yesterday's 'news' of 90 casualties being found at Polewali, West Sulawesi, seem exceptionally cruel and heartless.

Firstly the relatives in Surabaya and Manado were told that the plane was delayed, come back later. Then they hear about the missing plane on the radio and TV. Then they are told that hope is extinguished. Then they are told that, actually, Adam Air and the authorities have no idea where the plane actually went down.

Put yourselves in the shoes of the grieving and ask yourself what Adam Air should be doing, or rather, how they should be doing it.

Adam Air "provides a special planes from Surabaya to Makassar for 100 relatives" and "has dispatched 70 families of passengers from Manado to Makassar" as well as providing accomodation for them and co-ordinating with the 'Joint Team'. That's all well and good.

But the quarter page advert in today's Post concludes as follows:

We and the joint team will try to gather information as best we can and pass on the information in due time. Therefore we appeal for understanding for our inability to adequately distribute information to the public at this time.

No apology for yesterday's almighty media cock-up; just an appeal for understanding. And why? Because Adam Air is worried that it's image may be tarnished, that's why.

We all screw up at some point. Taking responsibility for and learning from our mistakes, then moving on, is all part of life. It's a sign of maturity.

Being affronted by criticism and not being prepared to apologise is a sign of arrogance and immaturity.

These are two atypical examples of 'face', the ugly face of Indonesia.

And that's why I will never be totally assimilated here.


8:30 am |
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
  What did we say?

Anyone reading about Indonesia will think that a limited vocabulary is sufficient to understand the situation here. One key word is 'disaster'.

Some disasters are natural, think tsunamis and earthquakes, the 'Acts of God' cited by insurance companies to avoid financial liability.

Other disasters are the result of 'human error'; think of trains hitting trucks and buses at road crossings, of overloaded ferries sinking, of rubbish dumps collapsing, of landslides and floods in deforested areas.

It can be argued too that many of the tragic deaths from natural disasters could have been avoided, are exacerbated by human failings. In the Yogya earthquake, dwellings built using 'traditional' methods suffered the least damage; this is the less is more principle. Many of the deaths from the tsunamis in Aceh and Pangandaran (and elsewhere) could have been avoided if coastal areas hadn't been cleared of the mangrove barriers to make way for shrimp farms or tourist resorts.

And now we have yet another plane crash. An Adam Air Boeing 737-400 plane has crashed with 96 passengers and six crew on board. The plane, reportedly new yet nigh on 17 years old, en route from Jakarta to Manado in North Sulawesi yesterday had made a stopover in Surabaya. Authorities have yet to find it, although they are getting a ringtone from the co-pilot's unanswered mobile phone, which indicates that the plane is inland rather than underwater.

Update 1: 1.30pm local time. The plane has been found near the town of Polewali in western Sulawesi. Bad weather has been blamed.
Update 2: The plane was NOT found at Polewali. Marek has the details.

Respected commentator Jeff Ooi in Malaysia gives details of the plane's history and links to analyses of Adam Air's appalling disregard for maintenance and 'crisis management'.
Jeff also links to something I wrote a year ago about Adam Air who in a full page advert in the Jakarta Post costing $1,300 had made 10 language errors (out of a mere 79 words!).

Far from their "commitment to always deliver safety flights and best quality services" I suggested that they cared more for image than customer service.

If they couldn't give a sh*t about a simple thing like (proofreading), then what are the odds that they cut corners on aircraft maintenance?

A week ago, Adam Air was gloating in another ad that they had been given an award as Indonesia's Low Cost Airline of 2006, an award they must immediately forfeit especially as even their pilots think they're a cowboy outfit. (I'll ignore today's half-page ad in the Post which details every scheduled flight. No-one gets their timing right every time.)

But now we must all ask the basic question: What is the true cost of 'low cost'?

This crash was not an Act of God. Somewhere there was a human error, whether it was a matter of low cost maintenace, an unexpected (yet should have been foreseen) equipment failure, an inaccurate flight plan, a pilot with a medical problem or a hijacking ~ all causes of air crashes ~ remains a matter of conjecture.

No doubt all concerned will profess a belief in 'God'; after all, it's the law here. However, you cannot serve both God and Mammon (Mathew 6.24)

As Pope John Paul said, "It is necessary to create lifestyles in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments."

Air travel has been subsumed into the 'market economy'. In the search for immediate profits - high volume, low cost - the notions of corporate responsibility and customer service are jettisoned with tragic consequences.

And the answer to the question posed in my heading is simple and already answered by Indcoup:

Read Marek's critique of Adam Air from February last year and the comment from


12:00 pm |
Monday, January 01, 2007
  Jakartass v Yayasan Badan Pendidikan Kristen - Penabur

Please read these sequentially. There are some interesting comments too.

The Case against UPI (Ukrida Penabur Internasional)

Non-compliance with Indonesia's Manpower Law


It doesn't cost much .... 1

Prosperity Theology

"Jesus died for somebody's sins ... but not mine."
Who - getting personal

It doesn't cost much .... 2

Protection for migrant workers - but not for expats?

It doesn't cost much .... 3

National Plus Schools

It doesn't cost much .... 4
Why BPK - Penabur

It doesn't cost much .... 5
Quantity v Quality and Penabur Hypocrisy

A F**k You Mentality
BPK Penabur are just as bad as Lapindo Brantas and AdamAir

Jakartass on JakChat - August 2007




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