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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.
 

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11:30 a.m.
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