Wednesday, February 28, 2007
  Egg on faces, digital ink on fingers

As I rack my brains and ransack the internet for links which can broaden my posts I inevitably get sidetracked into reading what concerns others in the Indonesian blogosphere. In the nearly three years since Jakartass burst onto the scene with a tiny whimper, online friendships have been forged, but I'm not referring to those social networks which catalogue in painful chronology how pets were kissed, boy/girlfriends were kicked and the correspondents went shopping, with instant photos.

What we have witnessed is journalism is its many forms, from exposure of malfeance to the unspinning of arrogance and to plain civic reportage, as encapsulated in the recent Jakarta floods.

Occasionally we assume an 'importance' beyond our original intentions. Our opinions provoke reactions. Take the case of Nila Tanzil who lost her job as a presenter of a travel programme on Indonesia's SCTV because the Malaysian Tourist Board was upset by what she said about their "disappointing" treatment of her visiting crew.

The Malaysians exhibited 'face', an Asian characteristic which doesn't fit well with professional competence ~ or the lack of it. And who does SCTV support? Why, their corporate partners, of course, and Nila can safely be dumped. Corporate irresponsibility is how this can be best described. And the blogosphere comes dashing to Nila's aid, her writing is read by a wider community and the Malaysian Tourist Board along with SCTV get more negative publicity.

And things continue to get worse for Adam Suherman who tries to whitewash his image only for the word get passed on rapidly through the internet before it gets into print. My post over a year ago about his lack of care in the use of language possibly being reflected in aircraft maintenance was, unfortunately, remarkably prescient, and has since been viewed about 4,000 times.

That's the power of blogging here - but not intended as a smug comment. This 'power' gives us a responsibility towards our readers so, in that light, here are a few links to a few blogs not yet on my blogroll that I've enjoyed over the past month.

Nila's account of her bad treatment was posted on a 'café' blog, Maverickid, which has interesting posts from her colleagues working in public relations on new busway routes, Jakarta floods and much else .

Hera Diani is (or was?) a Jakarta Post journalist whose writing I've always liked. She also has a blog wherein her writing is more personal, but still eminently readable.

Bangkok Balladry is Irene settling in to Bangkok. She gives Jakartass a link and I look forward to seeing how she settles in to being an Indonesian expat.

Tika in New York writes more as an exile than an expat. She seems to yearn.

Another Indonesia expat is Bleu, an Indonesian legal alien in KL, who comments succinctly on the Malaysian home Ministry proposal to keep Indonesian labourers penned up in their dormitories when they're not at their worksites.

Nearer to what I call home is Andrew Greene who, like Simon of Metro Mad, is an English teacher in Jakarta and has a blog where he occasionally posts articles he has had published elsewhere. Duncan Graham also posts his published articles in his blog but he lives in Surabaya and isn't a teacher.

Finally, serial blogger Antony Casual has another one: Jakarta Mall. As, like me, he obviously hates shopping, I find it a bit strange.


1:00 pm |
Sunday, February 25, 2007
  The floods continue here in Jakarta with the TV showing how four houses collapsed today into the River Ciliwung as the rushing waters have undercut the river bank. And that's a five minute stroll from Jakartass Towers. For the past three or four weeks otherwise empty houses in our area have been dry havens for dispossessed families. It is these families who have now lost everything.

Floods by Pablo Neruda

The poor live on low ground waiting for the river
to rise one night and sweep them out to sea.

I've seen small cradles floating by, the wrecks
of houses, chairs, and a great rage of ash-
pale water draining terror from the sky:
this is all yours, poor man, for your wife and crop,
your dog and tools, for you to learn to beg.

No water climbs to the homes of gentlemen
whose snowy collars flutter on the line.

It feeds on this rolling mire, these ruins winding
their idle course to the sea with your dead,
among roughcut tables and the luckless trees
that bob and tumble turning up bare root.

IndoIan is an infrequent blogger nowadays, but he has posted some pictures of his family's evacuation from Kelapa Gading.

Several of our friends houses and cars were damaged and we were inconvenienced somewhat but 1000's of people lost everything - and as is typical in the developing world - it is the poor who are most effected.

Meanwhile, Brandon of Java Jive wonders how best to help the dispossessed.

I have not heard of any donation sites, nor do I truly trust the major organizations; it’s difficult to know where the money goes at times. In my case, I prefer to give directly, not through a middle-man, but I realize I have the benefit of living here.

Another expat, Bleu a legal Indonesian alien in Malaysia, also offers his thoughts on the Jakarta floods, comparing them to the recent floods in Johor, Malaysia.

The root cause is no doubt due to corrupt practices. The government is trying to fool people by putting the blame on global warming.



7:00 pm |
Saturday, February 24, 2007
  It isn't just a game ....
.... it's more complicated than that.

Mr. Snag, a frequent reader of Jakartass, has written that he is perhaps more interested in the blogger than the blog. To which, I can only reply: Le blog, c'est moi.

Jakartass is interested in the big wide world out there and I rarely wander through the internal pastures of nostalgia. We arrive from our past and are. Still, there are occasional times - about one post in nine actually - when reference has to be made here to Charlton Athletic which I have supported for nigh on fifty years and this is one of those times.

Tonight, at 10pm Indonesia time, Charlton take on West Ham, a match that will be shown live on ESPN. So what, you might say; two teams locked on 20 points deep in the relegation zone and only 11 games to play. It'll be nervy, mistakes will probably be made and at least one, if not both, is almost certain to be playing in what is euphemistically called the Championship next season. Sure, you might also say, Jakartass is Addickted but why prattle on about it?

Because this just happens to be one of those fixtures where there are bound to be conflicting emotions, and not just because TV isn't interested in football clubs that aren't in the 'élite'. (But will my subscription to satellite TV be worth renewing?)

Last season, Alan Curbishley was Charlton's manager and, after 15 years, he left on the last day of last season. At that time Alan Pardew was manager of West Ham having brought them back up into the Premiership and he was about to lead them into the FA Cup Final.

All Londoners with long enough memories have a fondness for West Ham, which lies in the north east of the city across the River Thames from Charlton. In 1966 Bobby Moore, captain of West Ham was also captain of the England team that won the World Cup. In that team were Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst, also of West Ham, and it was Hurst who scored the goals, including a hat trick in the final. (In that same team were the Charlton brothers, Bobby and Jackie; unfortunately they never played for London clubs.)

This season has been a roller coaster for both clubs. Alan Pardew was sacked as manager of West Ham by the new owner, an Icelandic biscuit manufacturer. Charlton meanwhile fired two managers, neither of whom having endeared themselves to the Charlton faithful or, seemingly, the players. And both clubs have had dreadful seasons with players not giving of their wholehearted best. Maybe their best isn't good enough anyway, but we Londoners do appreciate guts and a willingness to fight for a cause and to try and overcome adversity.

It's our ingrained blitz mentality, of having fought off invading forces. Our (fore) fathers fought wars for the likes of us.

So what makes this match so special? Well, Alan Pardew is now the manager of Charlton, a club he played for in the early days of Curb's reign. And Curbs is now the manager of West Ham, a club he played for before he ended up playing for Charlton. His assistant, as he was when Curbs was at Charlton, is Mervyn Day who remains a West Ham goalkeeping legend. And legendary Charlton winger and formerly Curbs assistant manager at Charlton, is Keith Peacock who is now Curbs assistant manager at West Ham. Except he was recruited by Alan Pardew while he was still manager there.

Then there are a few players who have connections with both clubs. On West Ham's books are Lee Bowyer and Paul Konchesky, two former Charlton youth team graduates, former Addick Shawn Newton, Carlton Cole loaned to Charlton by Chelsea a couple of seasons ago and Jonathon Spector, an American, who spent last season at the Valley on loan from Manchester United, none of whom were actually signed by Alan Curbishley and in the case of the first three were transferred by him away from the Valley..

Whereas both Alans hope that neither side gets relegated, my only hope is that Charlton stay up. If I don't blog again for a few days, you'll know that we lost the match and that I've taken to my bed with a raging sulk.


Addicks 'ammer Hammers 4 - 0

Manager Alan Pardew said: "It wasn't about me or Curbs, it was about the two clubs and our performance today was outstanding.

"Matt Holland said it all when he came into the dressing room and said that's the standard that we need every week.

"We produced defensively and we were disciplined. The players have set a high standard today and from now on they will be judged against that.”


11:30 am |
Thursday, February 22, 2007
  Down To Earth

The reader might wonder about the various components that go into the liveries and logos painted on the airplanes. What elements are most common? What is deemed attractive enough to be emblazoned on an aluminum tube?

Not surprisingly birds seem to rule the roost on most aircraft. It was the flight of birds that dared men to dream about flying and it was bird "architecture" that inspired airplane design.

Sometimes this extended to winged creatures, such as Pegasus or Mercury with the winged feet.

In the case of AdamAir, we may presume that they chose Icarus, who continues to be cited as a moral lesson about the danger of hubris, suggesting that someone who dares to fly too close to the realm of the gods will suffer for it.

How else can you explain their failure to keep flying?

A Boeing 737-300 passenger jet operated by Indonesian budget carrier Adam Air made a hard landing in the country's second largest city (Surabaya) Wednesday, damaging the aircraft and causing other flights to be diverted to Bali's Ngurah Rai airport.*

Natalia Budihardjo, a regional spokeswoman for PT Adam Skyconnections Airlines, said the aircraft encountered heavy rain and wind. (Does that mean that in future Adam Air will only operate in good weather?)

"The sudden stop of the plane was the best decision by the pilot for the safety of the 130 passengers," she said. (Really? The discomfort is supposed to be a comforting thought?)

An Adam Air flight crashed into the sea on New Year's Day, killing all 102 people aboard, and the airline has had a series of incidents since it was founded in 2003.

It's relatively good news then that the government has grounded all seven of Adam Air's Boeing 737-300s pending an investigation into the cause of the latest incident. And it's relatively bad news that they haven't grounded the entire fleet of c.19 given their appalling safety record, nor said that they shouldn't proceed with their plans to expand.

A load of balls

Still focussing on East Java, an International Geological Workshop has just concluded following an exchange of views about what triggered the mud volcano in Sidoarjo.

In essence, they say that it may have partly been the result of the movement of tectonic plates which had caused the massive destruction in the Yogyakarta area two days previously and it would have happened at some point regardless of whoever was drilling. This may partially exonerate Lapindo Brantas, owned by the Bakrie clan, which remains financially liable for compensation to the victims.

And probably no-one will be able to stop the mudflow.

James Mori, a geology expert from Kyoto University, Japan, stated he could not be certain when the mudflows would end and that up until now, there was no proper way of halting the mudflows.

"Perhaps, some brilliant people in Indonesia will be able to," he said.

And the 'brilliant' plan?

In the latest effort to brake the flow of hot liquid mud, the government has announced plans to drop 1,500 concrete balls in clusters of four linked by metal chains and weighing 800-1,000 pounds each into the mouth of the volcano.

So, the idea is to block the flow of hot mud which is being forced, under considerable pressure from the bowels of the earth, ever upwards. These massive balls will presumably cause constipation.

Mud volcanoes are often caused by a buildup of pressure from sediments crushed several miles below the surface that release methane and other gases. They are often found near oil and gas deposits, also caused by a crush of organic matter.

Don't these 'brilliant' scientists know what the result of blocked bowels is? I leave it to you to imagine the flatulence and its aftermath.

*Son No. 1 emailed me yesterday with the following tale: Further Indonesian aviation news reaches the UK that a Singapore - Sydney BA flight had to make an emergency landing in Bali after smoke engulfed the flight cabin.

Problem was that apparently the BA crew had problems making the Balinese Air Traffic Control understand the meaning of the word ‘Mayday’.

I can't find any confirmation of this, although it sounds all too credible, doesn't it?



11:30 am |
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
  TV Rots The Brain - Official

The average number of hours watched and the age at which a child begins watching television are central to the association with negative effects later on.

Those effects include alterations in activity, size and consistency of skin immune cells, an independent cause of obesity, changes in the endocrine and immune system, links with premature puberty in girls, subverting brain cell development underlying attention and impulse control, reducing cerebral blood flow and brain stimulation, sleeping disorders at all ages even from passive viewing, body-fat production, abnormal glucose metabolism and new Type 2 diabetes, a possible trigger for autism, lowered metabolic rate, raised blood cholesterol and risk for cardiovascular illness and death, substantial increases in child myopia.

Now you know why I like to read about it rather than watch it. Nancy Banks-Smith has been reviewing television for the Guardian since 1969 and her column in the Guardian Weekly is eagerly awaited by those of us who don't really miss British TV. The following are mere snippets:

Ken Stott looks like a sawn-off shotgun. His interrogative eyebrows and double-barrelled black glare are wrapped up in a Scottish accent. It makes for a puzzling package. His father was Scottish but his mother was Sicilian. You feel "Oh, of course", as if you had solved a particularly sticky, cryptic crossword clue.

Having been laid a bit low recently, I saw a lot of Inspector Morse. Chunks of him were transmitted every afternoon, like a great cut-and-come-again cake. It was like being fed plum duff and custard. I began to notice the custard. How beautifully, how selflessly, how lightly Kevin Whately played Det Sgt Lewis, emphasising John Thaw's star quality by circling him solicitously.

Richard remembered, with many a hesitation and deletion, the dreadful and dreaded loos at his prep school. "The bullying ..... the dark corners ..... pretty heathen places after the warmth of the home toilet. It made quite an impact when I was five, six, seven, eight years old." Poor little soul. It is perfectly clear what frightened the child, and why he has spent 20 years cleaning up the nation's loos.

And what, you may ask, is the relevance to life in Jakarta? Simple really; the government has found another way to rot our brains ...... and livers and lungs and all organic matter come to think of it.

Today's lead story in the Jakarta Post beggars belief. The first paragraph neatly sums up the myopic short-termism which has long plagued the country.

Indonesia will press ahead with its plan to begin the construction of its first nuclear plant in 2010, even though no decisions have been made on many important aspects, including technological specifications and safety matters.

The country's nuclear programme is expected to provide just 3% of the energy needs. If there is enough money available to build this monstrosity, to maintain it for its comparatively short life, i.e. 30 years, and to store the spent highly radioactive fuel for as many half-lives as it takes to render it safe - 5,000 years minimum!! - then surely there is the finance available to educate the population to save 3% of the energy currently used, to develop renewable energy sources such as geo-thermal and solar power, and to generally reverse the trend towards the booming consumptive and hedonistic lifestyles which give rise to the unthinking demand for so much energy.


9:30 am |
Monday, February 19, 2007
  HTML Help Wanted

Regular readers may well have noticed that something has gone wrong with Jakartass, meaning this blog rather than me. The right side bar is now floating around at the bottom and my posts from a few days ago are now centred. It's the same in I.E. and Firefox. If by some happy chance everything is hunky dory with Jakartass on your computer, please let me know .

I have no idea how or why it's gone wrong ~ I first noticed it on Saturday night and I've since spent considerable time online fiddle-arsing around with the template, which is the one that has worked well for a long time. Originally I figured that the problem lay in the fact that I hadn't moved over to Blogger 2 as a month or so ago Blogger 1 was offline to UK readers. So on Saturday night I changed, but the problem remains.

However, with different layouts and editing facilities I noticed that there is a new column for 'Comments' for each post. So, I clicked on this one and, lo, the right column appears. But still I can't get it back for the whole page.

I've sought advice in the Blogger Help Group but, unfortunately, the following, although welcome, doesn't help.

It might be to do with the width settings - if you added a link that is too long for the width. I too am html illiterate but this happened to me and I went to the part of the template where it decides the width settings for the sidebar and main body. If you widen both a few pixels it will probably pop back up. Otherwise, I also had it happen once and when I posted my next post, it was back to normal.

I can email you a copy of my template if you think you can help. If you do, I'll owe you a drink, unless you're not in Jakarta, in which case, I'll owe you.

PLEASE will someone come to my rescue.

Footnote = Sidebar Returns
And someone did: a BIG thank you to Reza Anwar who wrote thus:

Apparently your 'Missa-layneus' post did it. I added two tags and it did the trick. Perhaps you should edit and try to repost 'Missa-layneus'.

Which I did and the results are clear for all to see.

Just one question RA: How did you access the HTML of that post?

And a final comment: fellow bloggers may well have noticed that the HTML sometimes gets corrupted after it's been published. Weird that; could it be a Blogger/Google glitch?


8:57 am |
Saturday, February 17, 2007
  Stop-Start Making Sense

Flip-flopping, positive-negative conflicting messages: how on earth is a blogger and his reader(s) supposed to make sense of this world?

A recent report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) says that 98% of the remaining forests on Sumatra and Borneo could be gone by 2022. Apparently "orangutans face perhaps the most dire situation", rather than the rhinoceros, tiger and elephant populations.

Me, I'm worried about the trees. UNEP estimates that more than 73 percent of all logging in Indonesia is illegal and satellite imagery confirms that illegal logging is taking place in 37 of Indonesia's 41 national parks.

What troubles UNEP officials and environmentalists most about the illegal logging is how well organized it is. "It is not being done by individual impoverished people, but by well-organized elusive commercial networks," said Achim Steiner, head of the UNEP.

This was echoed at this week's merry jaunt in Bali for the "Country-Led Initiative of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF). Forestry Minister is reported in the Jakarta Post as saying that efforts to control forestry and plantations over the past few decades had proved to be more complicated than was first thought. "There are many parties involved and their network has been extensive," he said.

Many "actors", or environmental criminals, continued to safely exist in the government bureaucracy, legislative bodies, the military and business.

But it is encouraging to hear these noises and to actually see that not all of the actors are immune.

The governor of East Kalimantan ... has been suspended and faces life in prison for his involvement in an oil palm plantation scheme that caused the deforestation of a million hectares of tropical rainforest.

As well as the rainforest, I'm also worried about Kalimantan's peat bogs.

In late 1995, President Suharto felt obliged to restore Indonesia's rice self-sufficiency. Unfortunately he was in the final throes of his megalomania, was easily swayed by his cronies who had their eyes on the vast hinterland of Kalimantan and so the Mega Rice Project was launched.

... about one million hectares of rice paddy in Java had been sold for commercial and urban development. To compensate, he decreed that an equivalent area be created out of lowland peat swamps in Borneo. In theory this proposal had much to commend it. However, the peatland soil characteristics in Central Kalimantan are completely different from those of volcanic Java. The project was doomed to fail before it started.

Illegal logging with innumerable species of flora and fauna decimated, peat bogs dehydrated and burning adding not only to the annual haze afflicting South East Asia but also releasing "at least one billion tonnes of carbon ... into the atmosphere".

And now the government of SBY is intent on reviving development of the peatlands. This depends on a presidential decree, but basically he has said that 80%, about 1.1 million hectares will be conserved. Presumably this means that they will be rehydrated, perhaps by small scale damming of the water channels.

The other 20% is to be used for agriculture, but presumably not rice. By coincidence I had a lengthy conversation this week with two employees of a major palm oil company which has plantations in Kalimantan and Borneo. I asked them what, apart palm oil (kelapa sawit), is peatland good for agriculturally and they told me "nothing". They also told me that the land would probably be 'unproductive' once the 30 year life span of the trees was complete.

Surely, the solution for these lands is to restore them all to their original function, which is to serve as "the lungs of the world". It is possible. After all, this week an agreement to protect large areas of forest in central Borneo was officially signed by three governments that share the island. Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia will "conserve and sustainably manage" the so-called 'Heart of Borneo', one of the most biodiverse, and threatened, tropical rainforests in the world.

Trying to comprehend these issues gives me a headache. So allow me to close on a news item of pure commonsense. Indonesia will (hopefully) be extending the 30-day tourist visa to as much as 120 days, which is twice as long as it was before it was halved to the current restrictive one. Well, that's roughly what Josef Kalla reportedly said on Thursday.

And that is really good news as it will encourage the return of backpacking tourists who will now have time to get to the more remote parts of the country. Who knows, but they may wish to spend some time volunteering with environmental groups, such as the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation which is about to release some 200 orangutans back into the forests of Central Kalimantan.

In 2003, several astronomers reported that the blood-red sky in Edvard Munch's The Scream
(above left) was actually a realistic rendering of the blazing sunsets caused by detritus from the eruption of the volcano Krakatoa in 1883, one of the few 'natural' disasters to hit Indonesia.

Miko's Comment - February 18, 2007, 9:28 am
As a footnote to your footnote, Munch's Scream is not the only rendering of a spectacular sunset caused by an Indonesian volcanic eruption.

Many of Turner's paintings have beautiful sunsets and those from late 1815 have been linked to the explosion of Mount Tambora in Sumbawa. It was the biggest explosion ever recorded up till that time and caused tsunamis and earthquakes as well as pyroclastic flows that killed 10,000 people instantly and led to the deaths of as many as 80,000 people as a result of famine when crops were blanketed with a thick layer of dust and ash.

However the disturbances were not limited to Indonesia, the huge volume of dust and ash released into the atmosphere (1200 metres were blown off the top of the mountain leading to a volcanic column 25km high) caused climatic turmoil throughout the planet with 200 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide released into the atmosphere.

The Indian monsoons were disrupted leading to a cholera outbreak that spread throughout the world, there were devastating floods in China, Ireland suffered its first ever great famine and in North America 1816 is known as the year without a summer.

Isn't it nice to know that even then Indonesia was only known throughout the world for all the wrong reasons.

Incidentally Turner's painting's weren't the only artistic result of the eruption. Lord Byron and his chum Percy Bysshe Shelley and others were spending the summer of 1816 in Geneva. The weather was so bad they spent most of the time entertaining themselves indoors. Byron came up with the idea that in such gloomy circumstances they should each attempt to write a good ghost story, Shelley's wife Mary came up with a real beezer, it was called Frankenstein.

Interesting I thought.

I totally agree, Miko. Many thanks.


3:00 pm |
Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Our Kid asked me yesterday how to spell the word I've used as my heading. He did much better than my attempt, which I think is pretty good for a ten year old. Him I mean.

Speaking of age, it is now exactly one year and one day since I stopped smoking and, surprise, surprise, I've found it remarkably easy to overcome the cravings. I confess to having smoked one kretek recently at a moment of great stress, the circumstances of which regular readers will be familiar.

I've got little of import to impart today other than this little rant. I have commented before that a basic water supply is of greater need than fancy boutique stuff. I've recently come across something called Hexagonal Bio-Resonance Water (HB-RW) which comes in a large 1,500ml dark blue bottle with a carrying handle. No doubt this accounts for the price: Rp.15,000 ($1.40) is about the same per litre as beer.

I am late in discovering this particular product. Eighteen months ago, my esteemed Indonesian blogging colleagues Priyadi and Harry Sufehmi wrote about what a waste of money this thirst quencher is.

Priyadi debunks the supposed benefits of drinking HB-RW as expounded by a Dr. Mu Shik Jhon by quoting an article (not currently online) by Dr. Paul Shin of California State University. I'm omitting the science stuff about "17O-NMR linewidth" because I haven't a clue what he's on about.

What I do understand is this: I conducted additional experiments comparing Hexagonal Water against ultrapure water and found no differences. Regardless of whether I added table salt or vitamin C or if I even diluted these samples of water with tap water, I saw no differences! I will leave it up to you to evaluate the data for yourself, but it is of interest to note that even a urine sample gives a 17O-NMR linewidth nearly identical to that for the Hexagonal Water.

This is obviously another drinking water scam. I knew it anyway because the label has the following blurb:

From Natural Spring Water, Hexagonal drinking water is processed with Ultraviolet (UV), Ozonezation (O3), Filterization, and "Bio-Resonance Water System", with Natural Electromagnetic Energy from Japan technology produce water with extra Energy (e) and Oxygen (O2), suitable to increase your energy and vitality.

and ....

Put in the clean storage, do not put under direct
sun-light and keep it away from all things with
strong scenes.

So don't drink from the blue bottle whilst watching your blue movies.



1:30 pm |
Sunday, February 11, 2007
  Unabsorbed rain causes flood cycle

That's a Jakarta Post headline that's stating the bleeding obvious; rain that doesn't go below ground stays on top. But it was the illustration with the accompanying article that first caught my eye.

This is my rendition of it.

According to Robert Delimon, a member of the geotechnology team at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, there are massive limestone deposits below the ground - known as the 'Bojong Manik formation' - which prevent water absorption, thus adding to the surface water which reaches Jakarta. The formation acts as a barrier to the south and west of Jakarta. Apparently, the water level of the River Ciliwung rises after Parung, about 30 kilometres south of here, indicating that it is groundwater rather Bogor water entering the rivers.

Or so he says. The question is, where does the water from Bogor go? If the 'Bojong Manik formation' prevents further water from entering the aquifer, then the absorption the far side of of it must mean that their water rises and flows over the top, thus adding to the groundwater this side. So this 'new' geological discovery in no way changes the perception that Bogor water helps to bugger up Jakarta.

What is more relevant, though, is that few wells in Jakarta have Bogor water in them. In other words, the rain on the Jakarta plain is the source. Cementing over water catchment areas obviously diminishes the supply in Jakarta's aquifer.

It is, therefore, time for City Hall's elected politicians and publicly-paid bureaucrats - our public servants - to stop mouthing evasive platitudes and to face up to the reality. It is their corrupt practices of allowing the development of housing estates and shopping malls on areas previously, and sensibly, designated as water catchment areas in the City Spatial Plan ~ vide Kelapa Gading and areas of West Jakarta ~ that is the cause of so much distress.

It's time for them to face up to their responsibilities.

Bi-lateral thinking?

Mr. Permadi, the mystical member of Parliament, is engaging a little more with what is sometimes called the reality-based world.

"From a spiritual perspective," he said, "there are two ways of looking at the flood. One of them is the bad karma of both national and local leaders.

"The other is that it is now rainy season."

It's good to know we have some intellectual parliamentarians.


5:00 pm |
Friday, February 09, 2007
(pron: lep'to spirosis)

The following article is by my good friend Dave Jardine and is too good to remain unpublished. It remains his copyright, so please contact him if you wish to reproduce it.

Of all the miseries that the Jakarta floods have inflicted none perhaps is more sinister than the threat of leptospirosis or, to give it its other name, Weil's Disease. Also known as canicola fever, haemorraghic jaundice and canefield fever, this is generally associated with rats. Spread by the bacterium leptospirosa interrogans, it makes an inevitable appearance in cities with large populations of the unfriendly rodents and can be relied upon to attack in the wake of acute flooding.

It will be obvious to any observer at a level of consciousness above the semi-comatose that Jakarta has a large, not to say massive, rat population and that absolutely nothing has been done to seriously reduce it. Complete elimination may be out of the question but this should not preclude containment.

The alert observer will note the freedom with which 'Ratty' moves about the city, popping his head up at all hours from drains and running complacently across open spaces and lanes. So confident is the fellow of his non-aggression pact with Jakarta's cat population that it would be little surprise to see them doff hats to one another or exchange pleasantries. He does tend to move out of the way of the humans he encounters but not exactly as if he is registering real fear.

'Ratty' has good reason to be so complacent. For the most part he can go about his business undisturbed. Nobody has declared war on him.

Why does this insouciant attitude prevail towards this four-footed freight carrier of a potentially deadly disease, which is transmitted in the animal's excreta and especially dangerous when fast-moving water facilitates its transmission?

It is not as if the relevant authorities are unaware of the existence of large, not to say massive, populations of the rodents. It cannot be that these same relevant power-holders are unaware of the cause and effect link between the rodents and leptospirosis. Or can it? Sometimes, it appears that the authorities are simply either dumb or criminally negligent.

Five years ago when Jakarta last flooded in a seriously bad way rat-induced deaths were given prominent publicity. Since then nothing has been done. No public health campaign has been mounted by the city government. This is surely criminally negligent.

A number of other solutions offer themselves, amongst them what I will call the Pied Piper effect. This is the most fanciful. The Pied Piper of Hamelin was a musician who had magical powers.

But it is not fanciful to suggest that the Jakarta city government could offer a bounty on rats that would be a very welcome little income earner for poor families. Simply by paying a small fee of, say, Rp.400 for every rat's tail brought in (as proof that the rat has indeed been killed) the DKI would be actively encouraging ordinary people to tackle the problem. This, as I insist, is neither fanciful or impracticable.

With such a scheme in place it would be easy to visualise teams of resourceful youths and boys scouring the city, especially its bleaker parts, with catapults targeting the disease-bearing rodents. The bodies of the dead animals could be quite easily disposed by either burning or covering in lime.

Governor Sutiyoso in the fullness of his self-serving myopia wants us to believe that the floods are "a natural phenomenon" and that the only man-made aspect to them is the building of villas in the Puncak (not his own, of course). I beg to differ. If it is a consequence of criminal negligence that an easily foreseeable outbreak of potentially deadly disease occurs then this outbreak is indeed man-made.

When will they ever learn? By going to the internet perhaps and simply googling 'Leptospirosis Information Center' where they will find this, "The LIC is politically independent and offers data without prejudice to geographical boundaries. We never charge for the data on our site." What excuse will they offer next time around at DKI when they have still done nothing about it?

David Jardine,


1:00 pm |
  Good Customer Service ....
.... in spite of the English

Dear Sir,

We apologize if you not pleasurable with (Bank) PermataNet service.

Base on your question about PermataNet services then we inform you that we have any problem connection with Telkom Speedy so customer can't pay to Telkom Speedy. This problem caused afloat at Jakarta and Telkom try to solve this problem on February 08, 2007. Please try to pay Telkom Speedy tomorrow.

Your Sincerely




6:28 am |
Thursday, February 08, 2007
  Continuing Aftermath

My Jakarta Post came wrapped in plastic but late this morning, no doubt due to the incredibly horrendous thunderstorm that awoke us. Presumably the flood waters have risen, as have tempers.

In response to complaints that the government has been slow to respond to the disaster, the Minister of (His Family's) Welfare, Abdurizal Bakrie, has pointed out that TV stations are showing Jakartans laughing.

"We see that victims are still laughing," the minister said. "Don't make it as if we're facing doomsday, like what we see on your station," he said to a journalist from SCTV.

This is arrogance beyond compare and demonstrates a distinct lack of empathy with anyone not in his social circle. We have seen this before with his denial that his family's company, Lapindo Brantas, was in any way responsible for the mud volcano in Sidoarjo, East Java. Why doesn't he spend some time, preferably overnight, in the shelters housing the half a million displaced citizens?

A resident of Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta tried to explain: "Nobody affected by a disaster can really laugh," said Badar. "We might be laughing because we are trading jokes among us, but believe me, we are not laughing because we are happy with the conditions. How can we really laugh if our houses are underwater?"

The minister "could easily say that because his house was not flooded," Badar added.

Another resident, Nurjanah, said, "There's a time to laugh and there's a time to cry." Despite the portrayal of laughing flood victims, "the minister didn't see that they were crying inside."

The President, she said, "should have fired this kind of state official who cannot share what common people like us feel.

Mind you, as Unspun points out, it took the Trade Minister four days to even hold a meeting to discuss the logistics of organising relief measures.

But that's central government. What excuses have city government come up with?

Governor Sooty has been quick to say that the floods are a natural phenomenon. Most of us would disagree and say that it's the rain that is natural. Still, I suppose it's also natural that his deputy, Fauzi Bowo, would agree and then offer the excuse that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it because "Floods happen everywhere in the world."

This genius is standing in the city's first direct election for the governorship. I don't have the vote, but with flippant comments like that you can be sure that he will not be seen for much longer in City Hall. There's a word in English that describes him perfectly; it rhymes with 'banker'.

Help cannot be expected from the insurance industry which has let it be known that 'all-risk' policies are actually 'all-but-flooding' risks.

And with Indonesia yet again in the news for the oft-googled word 'disaster', we bloggers have had a rise in our visitor numbers coinciding with the floodwaters.

Jenny is quickly adapting to the 'every day is different' lifestyle and the delights of presumably pirated DVDs.

Treespotter has also splashed out on sets of TV series to while away those times when he wishes he were elsewhere.

Coming up next week, very aptly timed, is Dive Indonesia '07 at the Jakarta Convention Centre. Considering that the city is now very wet, we can hope for some hands on experience on this stuff, how good is that?
PS: Dive Indonesia is postponed, due to the flood. Duh!

He also lets us know that Brandon of Java Jive has been 'evacuated' and is now, apparently, in Bali where there are, paradoxically, near drought conditions. Brandon's blogging has also dried up, but by all accounts, there has been some outright thuggery in Kelapa Gading where he lives. Preying on victims is particularly outrageous, so we hope he recovers from these traumas soon.

Marek has loads of photos. I do too but I can't stay online long enough to upload them! But his are mainly of Kelapa Gading where he lives. He mentions the bad guys and then praises a troop of truck drivers who offered their services because they could. He also writes about the number of schools which will have to be rebuilt.


6:00 pm |
Monday, February 05, 2007
  Jakarta floods leave the question: Who's to blame?

It is impossible to stop the rain. But it is possible to minimize floods, or at least be prepared them. Unfortunately, what (has) happened in Jakarta (is) just the opposite. It (has) long been predicted that major flooding would hit the city. In 1996, it was severely affected, and then, there was a warning such a disaster could happen once every five years.

The above is taken from the website of the Indonesia Water Partnership and was written, yes, five years ago.

Jakarta cries a river by Bill Guerin

Acts of God or acts of Satan? Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso's storm troopers, the city's so-called public-order officials who implement his war plan against the weak and the poor, have been forced to run for shelter this week from rainstorms that have flooded the city.

Again, written five years ago.

Perversely, mighty floods lead to a lack of clean water, a topic I wrote about just over a year ago.

And two years ago I also used the headline Marooned.

In 2000, Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso gave this reason: "The capital will never be free from floods unless it has a drainage canal at the city's east and west border areas to facilitate drainage to the sea. Actually, we have had the master plan of the canals since 1975, but due to budget problems (corruption?) we could not build them.

"The only other option to escape being annually inundated during the rainy season is to move the city from the current location," the governor said.

He also said that floods were unavoidable because 40 percent of the city is located in the lowlands and he also blamed Mother Nature and squatters living along the riverbanks.

Any tired excuse, Sooty?

These are some of this year's reported excuses.

A huge amount of rain that has fallen.
Building of housing estates in West Java and Tangerang.
Clearances of land for villas and resorts in the water catchment area of Bogor.
Disaster handling is poor.
East Jakarta flood canal is not yet built.
Failure to conserve water catchment areas.
Garbage thrown into storm drains and rivers.

And there are more, but then, thankfully, the reign of Governor Sooty ends this year. All that need be said about this year's floods, apart from them being historically the worst, is that social services and search and rescue teams were better prepared. And the response of local communities has been superb.

More blogging outpourings:
Marek experiences thuggery
The ballet of the incompetents and the irresolute continues with no one seeming to take a leadership role in this crisis.
JakChat has a mixed bag of experiences and background info. Worth a read.
Java Jive
One of the worst things is that the vile canals have mixed in with the floodwaters, creating a potentially toxic, soupy mess that's entering people's homes.
Ferry Rahman
What surprised me the most were my cousin's official documents, including her high school diploma, birth certificates, etc. They were all just wet and damaged. Don't know how those are gonna get replaced.
Newly arrived Jenny and family
It is very hard to get any information about the current situation here in Jakarta (in English). I am getting most of my updates from the big western online news groups.
Technorati links and Blog Indonesia

STOP PRESS (Tuesday 5am)
Hear Jakartass on BBC Radio 5 Live. The archive is on line for one week only.
(My segment only is here. It clocks in at 6 mins 30 secs and is a 3.5mb mp3 file ~ thanks Del.)

Add (temperate) comments and reach a worldwide audience.


11:30 am |
Sunday, February 04, 2007

Jakartass Towers has had leaks this weekend where there weren't any last year, but at least we still have all our main services. All we lack, like the majority of Jakartans, is easy access to the big metropolis out there. We're a family of non-swimmers. And Telkom, the main hub of the internet, has taken a couple of days to dry out their main hub.

'Er Indoors has, as usual, been offering her help to the local families who are flooded out. This happens every year. I took these images a couple of days ago; they're from just a two minute stroll away.

Why is it that they could have been taken each and every year? Maybe SBY has the answer as he's announced that central government is taking over flood control responsibilities from City Hall.

We live this side of the River Ciliwung

There was a shack here last night

Social services at full stretch



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