Thursday, June 28, 2007
  Garuda Flying High

Well, that was a headline in the Jakarta Post on Tuesday. Apparently the Director General for Air Transportation, Budhi M. Suyitno, announced on Monday that national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia was among the carriers whose safety ratings had been upgraded in a June Survey.

The survey places airlines into three categories. A category I airline surpasses minimum air transportation regulation requirements with a score of between 162 and 200, while a category II airline satisfies minimum requirements with a score of between 120 and 161. However, a category III airline, with a score of less than 120, fails to consistently meet minimum requirements.

The last survey in March revealed that seven out of 20 airlines operating aircraft with capacities of more than 30 passengers were in category III. The seven were Metro Batavia, AdamAir, Kartika Airlines, Trans Wisata Prima Aviation, Tri MG Intra Asia Airlines, Manunggal Air Service and Jatayu.

Garuda Indonesia, which was placed in category II in the last survey, moved up to category I.

There may be cries of incredulity where Adam Air is concerned, but then they haven't lost any planes since the one on January Ist, and the one that split in two upon landing in February.

But this post concerns Garuda which hasn't had a plane crash land since their Boeing 737-400 overshot the runway in Yogya on March 7th, killing 22 people.

A couple of weeks ago, Garuda were reported to be considering reopening its route to Amsterdam, partly to "'jack up" its revenue from international flights. No problem one would have thought, especially as Indonesian authorities have given Garuda a clean bill of health.

Garuda spokesman Pujobroto said, "We terminated our service to Amsterdam at the end of 2004 because it wasn't competitive and was losing money. Now, we are considering reopening it with improved efficiency and profitability. Amsterdam is actually a highly prospective market in Europe."

Besides Amsterdam, Garuda also closed its routes to London and Paris in 2004.

So what do you think Garuda's reaction has been to today's story from the EU?

EU bans all Indonesian airlines

All 51 Indonesian airlines, including national carrier Garuda, are to be banned from the European Union. An updated blacklist of unsafe airlines also includes two new operators from Angola and Ukraine.

Indonesian carriers do not currently fly to Europe, but the ban serves as a warning to consumers not to use these airlines elsewhere in the world.

"European citizens should avoid flying with these carriers," an EU official said. "They are really unsafe."

The new list, decided upon following advice from an EU air safety committee, is expected to be formalised within a week.

Indonesia's ambassador to the EU, Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, said Indonesian airlines were safe and he hoped the EU would review its decision at a meeting of air safety experts in October.

He added,"We hope that the European Union can also give us the opportunity to improve."

Quite. But let's hope that the official report on the Yogya crash to be published in August won't be too damning.

D-G Budhi M. Suyitno was even more sanguine. He said, "In essence, there is no direct impact on us as we don't have any airline flying to Europe."

Besides, the EU got it wrong. There are only 50 Indonesian airlines, not 51. This is because Jatayu has been grounded by the Directorate-General of Air Transportation.

I heard today (Friday) of an American businessman who's cancelled his plans to come here.

He can get to Jakarta alright but he wanted to go to Kalimantan to check the feasibility of investing there. However, as he would have to fly on an Indonesian airline to get there ...

And Son no.1 has just started up a travel business specialising in Indonesia (my input/influence?), Thailand and Malaysia. And he's well pissed off as it might affect travel insurance for anyone traveling internally, which would be a big part of people doing our trips.

Indo tourism f**ked again? There is a choice, after all.




9:00 pm |
  ----- Original Message -----
From: Customer Service IM2
To: Jakartass
Sent: Wednesday, June 27, 2007 9:05 PM

Dear Valued Customer,

Thank you for your kind support and loyalty to continue using our service.

To support our commitment in providing excellent service; especially upgrading email performance quality, we hereby would like to inform you that on Saturday, June 30 2007 at 00:00 a.m. we are planning to conduct an upgrade towards our Anti Virus and Anti Spam. We expect that the result would be an improved system that able to detect virus and spam more accurately.

Please be informed that during maintenance takes place, there will not be any interruption towards the service; thus you can enjoy sending and receiving emails conveniently.

Enjoy the convenience with IndosatM2.

Best regards,

Customer Service Manager

Nanan D. Machdi

Hang on a sec here. "There will not be any interruption towards the service."?

This customer service email is just a customer service step too far. I really don't need to know that I won't notice what they're doing so why the f**k should they feel the need to tell me what they're doing? Besides, they've promised a spam-free service before and significantly failed.

But I do have one question ~ when will Indosat give me more than 2.5kbs bandwidth?




11:30 am |
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
  Why am I here?

Is God an artichoke?

My intention when posting on Sunday (last post) was to point out the propensity of most religions to make fools out of some of their adherents. Don't believe me? Then try this believer's account of life's miracles.

Alternatively, you may reject the 'war' between creationists and physicists and like me accept that Mother Nature rules.

Three centuries after Newton, symmetry is restored: the laws explain the universe even as the universe explains the laws. If there is an ultimate meaning to existence, the answer is to be found within nature, not beyond it. The universe might indeed be a fix, but if so, it has fixed itself.

All of which, you may think, has little to do with the debate raging in the comments following my Sunday post. This was sparked by a late night thought from a welcome visitor, Mr. Snag, who asked:

Do long term residents here in Indonesia, such as yourself, ever consider what right (or otherwise) they have to be living here?

My simple answer is yes, but very rarely. When asked why I've been here as long as I have - now nigh on twenty years - I usually reply that it's a hot country and it's easy to take one's clothes off.

And if I'm more serious, I state that when I left Blighty after a failed marriage I told Son no.1 that I would be somewhere where he could find me, at least until he reached the age of 18. He is now over 30 and still finds me with some regularity.

My right to live here is the right of an individual to be treated with respect without regard for colour, class or creed. My right is the same as anyone else's because we are all part of Mother Nature's Great Plan.

What's your excuse for living?




10:30 am |
Sunday, June 24, 2007
  Sunday Best

Sir Salmon Rushedby continues to stir up controversy. His vindictive autobiographical novel which has only been read by two people, his editor and himself, sold out in London last week.

I went to the flagship Waterstone's in Piccadilly, the biggest bookshop in Britain, and asked for a copy of The Satanic Verses, one of the most famous novels - and certainly the most infamous - in the modern English canon.

Predictably, there were no copies of The Satanic Verses on sale. The stock, I was told, had sold out. 'They've been buying loads,' an assistant explained. How many is loads? Her answer was four copies. 'That constitutes loads?' 'Whatever,' came her helpful reply. It's that kind of personal touch one misses in internet shopping.

In the UK mass media he is famous for having had 4 wives. In literary circles he is famous for having sold the most copies of an unread book, an ambition shared by quite a few smug literary types. That Devilish Dirges is perceived as an attack on a religion is really of no consequence. It is really an attack on those blinkered naysayers whose dogma does not allow dissent.

Apart from Buddhist priests who dress down, most acolytes of other religions have to dress up in order to disguise the their paucity of their religious arguments.

Increasingly, Muslim women in Britain take their children to school and run errands covered head to toe in flowing black gowns that allow only a slit for their eyes.

Like little else, their appearance has unnerved Britons, testing the limits of tolerance in this stridently secular nation. Many veiled women say they are targets of abuse. At the same time, efforts are growing to place legal curbs on the full Muslim veil, known as the niqab.

Bishop Charles N. Crutchfield of Arkansas has pledged to wear a Spiderman outfit if the United Methodist Church gains 1,000 members in 2007-2008 and doubles its number of 'professions of faith'.

Arkansas is one of the few states in the nation where the Methodist Church is growing.Membership climbed by 501 to 138,818 in 2006. Worship attendance edged up 38 to 56,610

An Ecumenical Environmentalist, that's me. I'm more than happy to give space to absolute nitwits like these Southern Baptists. It's not that they are in denial of global warming, like a certain Irish catholic of my acquaintance, but that their arguments are so specious.

This week, Southern Baptists approved a resolution on global warming that questions the prevailing scientific belief that humans are largely to blame for the phenomenon and also warns that increased regulation of greenhouse gases will hurt the poor.

Furthermore, they say that talking about the issue at all diminishes their influence over more traditional culture war issues such as abortion, gay marriage and judicial appointments.

Finally, I think we should all take note of the views of an objective visitor to the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum, near Cincinnati in the Good Ol' US of A. This cost a mere $27 million and took a bit longer to build than God took to create the world. He (or was it she?), presumably without the technological marvels we have today, such as cement mixers and handphones, took just six days to create His (or Her?) master/mistress piece. It wasn't 7 days, of course, because the 7th was a Sunday, His (Her?) day of rest. Or was it a Friday because s/he was Jewish or Muslim?

I would give you a link to the museum's website but our surrogate visitor gives a very thorough guided tour.

What about those silly “scientists” who say dinosaurs were long gone by the time of humans? Here, we see two paleontologists coming up with different conclusions. The wise white paleontologist doesn’t need that whole “carbon-dating” bullshit, for he only needs the Bible to tell him how old these fossils are. Meanwhile, the Asian paleontologist uses all that so-called “logic”, “reason” and “scientific method” to come to the ridiculous conclusion that these fossils are from many millions of years ago. Whatever, Confucius! Put down those science books and pick up the Bible, that’s all you need to get to the truth!

Ah men to that. And women too.




11:00 am |
Thursday, June 21, 2007
  1,000 Strong ......

Yes, folks, I've now posted for 1,000 days or more. It's a bit difficult to be precise as my host Blogger has a figure of something like 1,023, and my archives have my back-ups listed by the dates and a, b, & c when I've multi-posted on a particular day.

Started on 21st March 2004, Jakartass has survived and thrived, for which I must thank you, my readers. Without feedback, both positive and negative, it would have been nigh on impossible to keep on keeping on. Without honing my writing skills and voice I doubt that I would have been published in the Jakarta Post, nor would I have been invited to update Derek Bacon's Culture Shock-Jakarta, which is due out next month. Or the month after. Or ~ some time soon.

And I'm not done yet.

How could I be when untrustworthy moneybags like Fauzi Bozo continue to make fatuous statements?

He is the incumbent deputy governor and front runner in the first 'direct' election for the Jakarta Governor sinecure because he has (bought?) the backing of the two main Suhartoist political groupings, Golkar and ex-President Megashopper's PDI-P who have now formed a coalition, and other groups hanging on to the coat-tails of the money train.

Excuse the mixed metaphor, but that's a lot better than the excuse he's come up with for the lack of tourists.

"Every big city in the world has similar problems like traffic jams, but it does not echo as hugely as Jakarta's since their administrations have a good public relations division that bridges the government and the press," he told the Jakarta Post yesterday. He acknowledged that the administration's public relations division had been its weakest point because the less-competent officers were placed there.

Hey, hasn't he heard the expression about not shooting the messenger?

This total incompetent is going to be elected because the political party machinery is in place, but I have no hesitation in agreeing with the majority of Jakarta's electors who will not be casting their vote in August 8th. Given his nickname, they will be telling him to Foke Off.

There, that feels better. Now back to my main theme.

A number of bloggers worldwide 'inspired' me to join the 'blogosphere'. Diamond Geezer is but one, yet few have managed to be so consistently interesting. His city is London, my heritage for generations back. He highlights what's going on and respects what has been, a Samuel Pepys for our times. Incidentally, if you want to read Pepy's original diary, then it's in blog form here, a remarkable feat of scholarship which I have no hope or intention of emulating.

However, I do have to offer sincere acknowledgments to the ever-inspirational DG for the post below.

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10:34 am |
  Japong 2107

From Wikipedia, the encyclopedia sponsored by Sampoerna Soma

This article is about a location in the United Federation of Indoneesia on the island of Java. For other uses see Java (disambiguation).

Jabadebekoboggertangarpong, (abb. Japong), once variously known as Jakarta, Batavia[19], Depok, Bekasi, Bogor, Tangerang and Serpong[21], is the former capital city of the Indonesian Archipelago.

On August 17th 2053 the Indoneesian government relocated to the island city of Cibandung in West Java. The main stock exchange and the headquarters of most financial houses remain in the coastal business zone of Puncak.

Once a megacity[31] with a population of 50 million, Japong is now a world heritage marine park.

Sea defences
From 1982, when records began, Japong had been subsiding by an average of 20cms per annum. By 2025, when Ibu Suciwati was elected Governor by acclamation, it is estimated that due to the effects of global warming the sea level in Japong Bay had risen by approximately 2 metres.

Japong having suffered disastrous flooding in a five year cycle from 1937 to 2022, Gov. Suciwati ordered the building of a system of flood canals, seawalls and raised roadways. The areas of Muara Angke on the northern coast, of Kelapa Gading in East Japong and Meruya in West Japong were cleared of their inhabitants and reverted to their original function as floodplains.

Earthquake zone
Indoneesia lies just north of the most complex active tectonic zone on earth. In early May 2047 there was the ultrarare occurence of the northward-moving Indo-Australian and the westward-moving Pacific plates colliding with the southwards moving Southeast Asian lithospheric plate along a 500 kilometre conjunction of both the Sunda and Java trenches.

This raised the southern seaboards of Java and Sumatra by as much as 217.9 metres, the result of which was to tip the northern seaboards downwards by an average of 57.6 metres. The sea dykes along the northern coast of Japong, a mere 18 metres high, were powerless to prevent the sea water rushing in.

The estimated death toll ranges from 11 to 35 million[citation needed]. No accurate figures are available as the floods incapacitated all branches of the government.

It is also estimated that the death toll on the neighbouring island nation of Singwithlee from the resulting tsunami, was 1,750,000[citation needed].

Flood Mythology
Creationist John Baumgardner proposed the catastrophic plate tectonics theory to explain the biblical global flood. It has received tentative support from creationist organizations such as Answers in Genesis [citation needed].

Baumgardner accepts conventional theory that the continental masses were once united in a single supercontinent. He believes that a process of "runaway subduction" initiated the catastrophic breakup of this supercontinent, which in turn precipitated the global flood of Noah. During the year-long global flood, the continents rapidly moved to the positions they held until 2047.

In the ancient Batak traditions of North Sumatra, the earth rests on a giant snake, Naga-Padoha. One day, the snake tired of its burden and shook the Earth off into the sea. However, the God Batara-Guru saved his daughter by sending a mountain into the sea, and the entire human race descended from her. The Earth was later placed back onto the head of the snake.

Nowadays, most Bataks and the surviving Betawi people of Japong, are members of the Temple of Bumgardeners. Worshippers gather every week to tend hydronically grown rice crops and their holy sacrament, cannabis kallativa.

Japong Marine Resort
Visitors to the Japong Marine Resort need a pass, obtainable from the Department of Marine Resources and Forests in the nation's capital, Cibandung. Magnetoskims depart from Tangkuban Prahu every hour throughout the dry season, taking approximately ninety minutes to reach the Greater Japong Maritime Zone. Being glass-bottomed, passengers are able to observe the rich marine life during their transit..

On arrival at Mulia Tower Two Pierhead, visitors descend by glass elevator into the reception area where they undergo a medical examination to ensure that their visit will have minimal impact on the environment.

Japong Bay attractions include the Monas Lighthouse, the Pancoran Beacon and the Taman Anggrek Marina. A honeymoon resort has been established at the Taman Anggrek Marina - an artificial archipelago of partly submerged skyscrapers with its renowned seafood restaurant and the Aquadome Retail Museum, a scuba diver's paradise world of life before the Deluge.

The underwater rooms at the Japong Marine Resort are fully air conditioned and offer a panoramic view of the beautiful coral reefs which now cover most of Old Japong. Visitors can still trace the ruins of the never completed monorail system transport from the last century. A special feature at the resort are the all-night dance parties choreographed by graduates of the resort's own school of dolphins which delight in interacting with their two-legged friends.

Because the site lies offshore inter-species marriages are permitted and couples can get married in a variety of indoor or inwater locations.

This article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.



10:30 am |
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
  The Gong Show

A couple of days ago I had a mild go at the British Honours system.

I'm not a rabid republican, but I do feel that the monarchy is an outmoded institution and that its various offshoots should be less remote from the populace. They are a clan cult of celebrity with little relevance, a class apart from the lives of we lesser mortals. (One might say the same thing about most politicians in this country who enrich themselves at our expense whilst doing bugger all.)

The Independent newspaper has always opposed the British honours system. Efforts by the present Prime Minister to open up the nomination process have had little effect, and towards the top end of the scale no perceptible effect at all. The system remains one of mutual backslapping, where the great and the good patronise their own and senior civil servants are rewarded just for having attained a particular grade. It is a pernicious anachronism that has defied modernisation and should have been abolished long ago.

It is only right and proper that various worthy citizens should be recognised for their contributions to society, rather than, as I wrote earlier, for doing what they are paid to do. Although we may question choices, they are 'vetted' by juries of their peers in particular fields of endeavour. Eight committees make recommendations to a main committee which sifts, sort and vets before making recommendations to the Prime Minister. He then informs good Queen Bess in whose name, as the notional head of a non-existent empire, these awards are given.

Twice a year, New Year and the Queen's (official) Birthday in June, the names are announced, the press goes gaga over certain choices and thousands of 'ordinary' citizens quietly celebrate with their families that their honest toils have been recognised as being of societal benefit.

Naturally, the arts and sports awards receive the greatest publicity. Some honorees, such as Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are really the 'Best of British'. Others, such as singer Joe Cocker who was awarded an OBE last week, leave one asking why him rather than, say, her. (I'm a big fan of Joe, incidentally, but that's an anecdote for another time.)

Twenty or so years ago, I spent three months in Ladakh, Kashmir and Rajastan in north-west India. One of the books I travelled with was Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, about children born on the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the precise moment of India's independence from Great Britain and Pakistan's formation.

It appears to be an allegory, spiced with satirical commentary, on the political course of modern India and the in-fighting of its various social and religious factions. It is an endlessly inventive book with a cheeky sense of humor and wild, exotic imagery, but it does not eschew somber moments.

I found the book of great value in helping to understand something about the land I was travelling through and its peoples; I also found the book to be dense and somewhat difficult to digest - definitely not a 'plane and train' read.

Some 18 years ago, his Satanic Verses was published. This was purportedly an attack on Islam so fundamentalist Muslims, who, of course, hadn't had the opportunity (or the literacy) to read the book, issued a fatwa, a death threat against Rushdie. But, as he told Time magazine, the book "isn't actually about Islam but about migration, metamorphosis, divided selves, love, death, London and Bombay."

The sad irony, he said, "is that after working for five years to give voice and fictional flesh to the immigrant culture of which I myself am a member, I should see my book burned, largely unread, by the people it's about -- people who might find some pleasure and much recognition in its pages."

Inevitably, the book was banned here in Indonesia.

In 1989, Son no.1 and I travelled through Sulawesi and ended up for a night in Gorontalo. We met a retired doctor in a cafe and he invited us back to his house for breakfast. He told us that he had been sent to Sulawesi as a military man, part of a force intent on quelling a separatist movement. He had never, somewhat to his regret, been 'repatriated'. Amongst the other topics we discussed was Satanic Verses, which he said he wished he could read as he wanted to make up his own mind. I thought that was a brave statement to make in a Suhartoist and Muslim community.

Of course, he was right. That inflammatory statements are currently being made by Iranian and Pakistani envoys about the award of a knighthood to a novelist in another country, can only mean that there are severe problems within those countries and, whoopie, here's a tired old excuse to divert attention from them.

I cannot comment on the honour given to Rushdie; I don't have any of his books on my shelves and, as I said, I find his writing difficult to penetrate. Others are more able than I in assessing his contribution to literature.

The current controversy is as much about sovereignty as it is about culture. Britain professes to be a multi-cultural country. If it were to kowtow to ill-considered protests from other sovereign nations about someone deemed to have contributed to that multi-culturalism, then the world is much more dangerous for the rest of us.

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12:00 pm |
Monday, June 18, 2007
  Bloggers' Gabfest

It's that time of year again when we blogging nerds feel it's necessary to get away from our digital worlds and to interact with some real people in the real world.

So, if you're that way inclined, do drop by the Absolute Café at the top end of Jl. Jaksa, about 50 metres down on the left as you drive in, this coming Friday (22nd) from 6pm onwards.

It's a chance to down a few reasonably priced beers, eat some ok nosh and to swap yarns of the "what- the- expletive deleted" variety, the sort of small, yet aggravating events in our daily lives which keep us on our toes, peering, ever curious, over the parapets.

Like the fact that it seems to be an annual occurence, but I'm having the devil's own job in paying for my Indovision satellite TV service. Last year I wrote about my difficulties in paying them; tightwad though I may be, I really wanted to and really tried.

This year is perhaps even worse. Firstly, last Friday Indovision closed two accounts which one could transfer subscriptions into by ATM. They didn't give information about their new account, not on the bill nor the ATM.

So I tried to pay by cash at Bank Mandiri, having suggested that they ring Indovision's customer service dept. to ascertain details of the new account. Apart from discovering that Citibank were to be the new recipients of our subscriptions, assuming anyone is able to pay, we reached a dead end. That was an hour wasted.

'Er Indoors then tried to get the information and was told that she could transfer at any branch of BCA ~ Bank Cinta Antri. She came home angry: being told that there is a fee of Rp.50,000 (c.$5.50), instead of the customary Rp.5,000, for transfers to Citibank seems particularly outrageous. Another couple of hours wasted.

As a commentator wrote here last year, "My wife (who is Indonesian by the way) tried to collect and pay (bills) herself and got more confused and upset then I did."

For the time being, we seem to have a notionally free service and you know one of the yarns I won't have to relate next Friday.

See you there?
(PS. I'll be there around 7pm)


Sunday, June 17, 2007
  For Services Rendered

Sitting on my father's mantlepiece back in Blighty is an array of invitations I regularly receive from Our Man in Jakarta. The most recent was floridly inscribed thus:

The British Ambassador and Mrs. Charles Humfrey
request the pleasure of the company of
Mr and Mrs Jak Artass
at a Reception
to celebrate the official birthday of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
on Monday, 11 June 2007

We didn't go because of the small print: Dress: Batik, Lounge Suit or Uniform

Admittedly, I do have a batik shirt, but 'Er Indoors doesn't have anything in that line. I certainly don't have a 'lounge suit', whatever that is, and as for a uniform ..... well, the only one lying around which I could possibly squeeze into was last worn by a niece of 'Er Indoors who I sponsored through high school.

So I'm afraid that Charles and Enid had to do without the pleasure of our company at this year's Betty Bash.

This could well be why I was not awarded a gong in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours. Surely, I richly deserve the esteemed Commander of the British Empire (CBE).

Ignoring the fact that the British Empire is long gone, and the Commonwealth of Nations Who Used To Speak the King's English which replaced it barely stutters along, there remains the question of why folk should be given a gong for doing what they are paid to do or, in my case, I pay to do.

John David Vine, QPM. Chief Constable, Tayside Police.
For services to the Police.
Dr Jane Wilde. Director, Institute of Public Health in Ireland.
For services to Public Health in Northern Ireland.
Jak Artass S.o.B. Head of Household
For services to 'Er Indoors.

Is there a rhyme or reason to any of this?

However, I do feel that the newly knighted Sir Ian Botham richly deserves his honour if only, like me, he's smoked cannabis and raised money for charity. Unlike him, I really don't like cricket.

Ho hum




1:00 pm |
Saturday, June 16, 2007

This is another round up of links which I am reciprocating or, in the case of the first one, urging you to check out.

Indonesian Prattler is (are?) Mr. Scotch and Ms. Brandy who "travel around Indonesia's metropolitan cities and outskirts to capture the real life of the real passionate, hard-working Indonesians. By seeing everything positively, they are trying to awaken every sane mind to appreciate who they are and to see the unseen style."

I like him/her/them enough after six posts to put this blog straight in my blogroll. There are some 'flaws' in his/her/their English which indicate that she or he is/they are Indonesian, but there is an almost poetic flavour to the writing.

Mr. Yono is a true entrepreneur, he arrived at the capital city of Indonesia from his hometown of Brebes back in the 80s - when gasoline was still at its most decent price, U.S. dollars was still below Rp. 1,000 and Michael Jackson was still black - with nothing but a few pieces of clothing and very little fund. He went straight to the eastern area of Jakarta and opened a similar business, selling everything a housewive would ever ask to stop her crying child, everything a maid would ever need in the kitchen, from the delicious temu lawak juice, lovely colored pairs of flip-flops to the scrumptious durian candy.

Welcome Prattler. I look forward to many more prattles.

Dilligaf is Scottish, has been here for a year or so and, although he hasn't blogged for a couple of months, his appraisal of Jakarta in his early days here is refreshingly blunt.

Far East Cynic. The name says it all. I like it.

Tayler is going to spend his Summer in Yogya, immersing himself in the language and culture. He gets one week off to explore the rest of the country, lucky guy.

And Antony Zak has been teaching in Makassar for a while.

Kulo Net is in a language I'm not familiar with ~ Finnish? To add to my linguistic confusion, categories listed include Bogota, Estonia as well as Indoneesia (sic). Some really good pics of Jakartan life.

Finally ...... this pic, which sums up my final links, is of new drinks apparently available in Singapore. You won't know what flavour you're getting until you open the can. Come to think of it, I rarely know what flavour I'm getting even when it's clearly stated ~ Grape Fanta anyone?

Not a blog, but a good links resource for Indonesia is Hobson's Choice.

Frone has Jakartass in his mix, which I think is another feeds site.

Someone's amazing long and extensive list ~ but why Jakartass?




6:00 am |
Friday, June 15, 2007

Most of us detest telephone salesfolk, especially those that call at disgustingly early hours, like 8.15 in the morning. That's when one's verbal banter mode is still on idle.

So what was 'Er Indoors supposed to say this morning when she got a call, supposedly from Triumph underwear, asking her what brand of bra she preferred?

She can be a right handful at times, but even she was stumped for an answer.





11:00 am |
Thursday, June 14, 2007

I dreamt last night that this is the absolutely best time to be a Charlton Athletic supporter. Never have the world's expectations been so high about our future.

Yes folk, we are the overwhelming favourites to bounce straight back into the Premiership next season. We will win all our 50 or so games, achieve a record points total and Charlton's Ladies team will manage to beat Arsenal's at least once.

Unfortunately, unless we do well in the FA Cup, none of this will be on view to my fellow Addick and I out here in Indonesia, We just aren't glamorous enough to be on ESPN, let alone have a theme bar like Man Yoo in what is euphemistically and optimistically known as Downtown Jakarta.

Still feeling a little underwhelmed by my midnight musings, I decided to peruse the UK sports pages on the wonderfully woeful webnet thingy only to read the lead story in the Football Guardian.

West Ham United hope to tie up a deal for Charlton Athletic's Darren Bent. They were reported last night to have agreed a transfer for the striker worth a club-record £17m, with the England international considering whether to make the move or hold out for alternatives.

Considering? He's been offered huge wages, reportedly £75,000 a week, which, over 4 years is nigh on £16 million.

Good luck to him, I say. He's been a loyal servant at Charlton and in the past two seasons has scored more goals than any other Englishman in the Premiership. He can only get better.

And, thankfully, so can Charlton.

Or am I dreaming?




10:30 am |
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
  Nuclear power is cleaner

No, I haven't suddenly converted to the nuclear power generation cause. The above is a disingenuous headline in today's Jakarta Post above an article by Otto Soemarwoto, Professor Emeritus of the environment at Padjadjaran University, Bandung.

However, note carefully that there is only one statement in the article which backs up that headline.

With respect to global warming as a result of the emission of CO2, nuclear power plants are cleaner than gas fired ones. Also on the basis of a life cycle analysis from the mining of uranium and its processing to become fuel and to the operation of the plants, CO2 emissions are lower from nuclear plants than from conventional ones.

(Prof. Otto does not define these although no-one can dispute that some, but not all, coal-fired power plants are amongst the most polluting contributors to global warming.)

While critics agree (that CO2 emissions are lower from nuclear plants) they also say that it is only correct when the uranium comes from high grade uranium ores of 1 percent or higher.

Most known (power plants) are of lower grades. When demand for nuclear fuel increases, lower grade ones will subsequently be mined - which inevitably will result in more CO2 emissions.

Hence there is no assurance that nuclear plants will help in the fight against global warming.

Elsewhere in the Post there is an article with accompanying photo about the hundreds of protesters (who) took to the streets of Kudus regency in Central Java yesterday to reject the central government's plan to build a nuclear power plant in neighbouring Jepara regency.

Because it was supported by Kudus regency administration officials, including the (elected) regent, the legislative council speaker, the local military leader and the police chief, this may have been one of the most significant demonstrations ever in Indonesia, certainly in the nearly ten years since the advent of reformasi.

Kudus regent Muhammed Tamzil said that the plan was made without agreement from residents: "That's why I support the Kudus people's wishes."

This brings us back to Prof. Otto whose article's central thesis is that the perceptions of the benefit/risk ratio of the nuclear power industry is subjective, although real and not abstract.

The management is not a matter of mathematics and technical issues, but of social attitudes. It lies within the domain of social psychology, which is unfamiliar ground for nuclear plant engineers.

And, I would contend, politicians and business managers.

The Post also reports today that the results of a psychiatric survey have revealed an increasing trend towards mental health problems among victims of the Lapindo mudflow in Sidoarjo, East Java.

Symptoms include sleeplessness, anxiety and sadness, leading to a deepening of the depression caused by the loss of personal effects. More than a year on, victims are still 'refugees' living in temporary accommodation, a market building, dependent on 'charity' whilst they await their mandated compensation from Lapindo Brantas, the company 50% owned by the family of Abdirizal Bakrie, the Minister of (His Family's) Welfare.

In turn this leads to the lowering of the victims' quality of life which is partly apparent in decreases in their "fighting spirit".

And the blame lies with Lapindo Brantas and the government, with the Bakrie clan for their lack of social empathy and SBY for his vacillation. The social disaster in East Java can only be ameliorated with compassionate action and the application of social psychology as demonstrated by the Kudus administration.

[Mea Culpa. A couple of weeks ago I stated that Medco Energi Internasional Tbk, Indonesia's largest private oil and gas company was a Bakrie company. This is wrong and I am now given to understand that Medco owns 30% of Lapindo Brantas.]

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11:30 am |
Monday, June 11, 2007
  Dear XXX ...

I received this personal ("Dear XXX" ??) email this morning and thought I ought to share it with you, especially as I "seem to" deal with this country.

This little phrase got me pondering just what it is that I do 'seem to' do, but then, hey, I do agree with the central message ~ bio-fuels may well f**k up the planet faster than fossil fuels ever did.

I admit that I haven't watched the video and you might not be able to either: a dial up connection with its exceedingly narrow bandwidth or the excessive numbers of subscribers for the appallingly serviced broadband in this country does not really allow multi-media presentations. On the other hand, the 70% of my visitors who don't live here may well have an interesting viewing experience.

Dear XXX

I am contacting you to share this video created by Greenpeace regarding Bio-fuels and their potential detrimental effect of increased deforestation in Indonesia.

As your site seems to deal with the country and reaches people who might be interested in this information, I was wondering if the video content would be of relevance to you and your site.

I am one of many people trying to get some exposure for this campaign and spread the word about the issues surrounding bio-fuels that people, even your perhaps more informed site visitors, might not know. This is a video I think they and everyone else should at least watch and be aware of the message it contains. Green economics, politics and practices are becoming increasingly complex and tied into business.

What people are doing that they think IS green might really be making things much worse. It's important for people to know they donʼt have to preach, take sides or chain themselves to the nearest shrub! Just be informed and help make others.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all. If you do choose to help please just drop me an email so I mention your good work to others.

Thank you

Andrew Hunter

(The campaign also has some web links here and here.)

Those without access to YouTube would do well to read this article by George Monbiot.

Oil produced from plants sets up competition for food between cars and people. People - and the environment - will lose.

Since the beginning of last year, the price of maize has doubled. The price of wheat has also reached a 10-year high, while global stockpiles of both grains have reached 25-year lows. According to the UN food and agriculture organisation, the main reason is the demand for ethanol: the alcohol used for motor fuel, which can be made from maize and wheat.

The UN has just published a report suggesting that 98% of the natural rainforest in Indonesia will be degraded or gone by 2022. Just five years ago, the same agencies predicted that this wouldn't happen until 2032. But they reckoned without the planting of palm oil to turn into biodiesel for the European market. This is now the main cause of deforestation there and it is likely soon to become responsible for the extinction of the orang-utan in the wild.

Alice Friedemann adds further fuel to the contention that biofuels are a very bad alternative in a well-researched and very detailed report.

Ethanol is an agribusiness get-rich-quick scheme that will bankrupt our topsoil. Loss of topsoil has been a major factor in the fall of civilizations. You end up with a country like Iraq, formerly Mesopotamia, where 75% of the farm land became a salty desert.

"We stand, in most places on earth, only six inches from desolation, for that is the thickness of the topsoil layer upon which the entire life of the planet depends"




12:00 pm |
Saturday, June 09, 2007
  Woodchoppers' Ballsup

Son No.1 left a comment yesterday to justify the fact that he has to fly from the UK in order to visit us. He wrote: In the next 24 hours, deforestation will release as much CO2 into the atmosphere as 8 million people flying from London to New York.

Environmental groups say Indonesia, with the world's third-largest tropical forest reserves behind the Amazon and the Congo basin, loses more than 2 million hectares of trees every year. Its rainforests - especially those on Borneo island - are being stripped so rapidly because of illegal logging and palm oil plantations for bio-fuels, they could be wiped out altogether within the next 15 years.

Rully Sumada, a forestry expert with Indonesian environmental group Walhi, told Reuters that sixty percent of the protected and conservation areas are already badly damaged due to illegal logging and palm oil plantations.

"The deforestation speed is 2.8 million hectares a year. At this rate, by 2012 the forests in Sumatra, Borneo and Sulawesi will be gone, only the forests in Papua will be left. And if cutting of trees carries on, no forest will be left by 2022."

In Cambodia it's worse.

Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of Cambodia is accused by Global Witness of "building a shadow state on patronage, coercion and corruption" with family members actively involved in corrupt business dealings. It says the armed forces are involved in high-level deals via secret military development zones that cover 700,000 hectares (1.7m acres) of forest and other land."

Hun Sen's official biography doesn't respond to these accusations, nor to the accusation that, having been a Khymer Rouge cadre, he had no particular objection to genocide.
Cambodia has one of the world's worst deforestation rates. Since 1970, its virgin forest cover has fallen from over 70% to 3.1%.

And this is a deforestation rate greater than here in Indonesia where a spot of genocide is also not unknown.

Deforestation Rates in Indonesia 2000-2005
Annual change in forest cover: -1,871,400 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -2.0%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: 19.1%
Total forest loss since 1990: -28,072,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990: -24.1%

Rainforest cover has steadily declined since the 1960s when 82 percent of the country was covered with forest, to 68 percent in 1982, to 53 percent in 1995, and 49 percent today. Much of this remaining cover consists of logged-over and degraded forest.
[This is by far the best source of statistics I have found.]

So, what is to be done?

Woodchoppers' Balls

Obviously central government must issue laws banning illegal logging. To that end, in March 2005, SBY issued Presidential Instruction No. 5 Year 2005 Concerning Eradication of Illegal Logging in Forest Area and the Circulation Throughout the Territory of the Republic of Indonesia.

That is of little consequence if there isn't a legal framework for its enforcement.

Existing laws on forest use and trade are numerous, many times unclear and sometimes conflicting. Defining what is legal is necessary. An effort to develop a comprehensive standard is currently in progress by various stakeholders (including the Indonesian Government and environmental groups). A working draft of the standard has been produced - in English and Indonesian.

Son No.1 may be interested to know that the UK government's Department of International Development (DFID) signed a Memorandum of Understanding which clearly sets out the laws on logging, thus making it much easier for the courts to prosecute offenders.

Other countries, such as Japan have become parties to the MoU which also encourages importing countries to only purchase wood from legally verifiable sources.

But action is also need here and NGOs and individuals can only do so much to raise awareness. The answer lies with governments to do this and as much as I distrust politicians, there is one who deserves every plaudit going for demonstrating strong leadership.

Irwandi Yusuf, the recently elected Aceh governor, has banned logging indefinitely in the province.

The new governor of Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged Aceh province declared a moratorium on logging Wednesday as part of efforts to develop a new long-term forest management strategy.

Aceh's decades-long separatist insurgency meant logging was limited to rebels and rogue elements within the military. But a recent peace deal opened up previously inaccessible virgin forests. And with nearly 130,000 homes destroyed by the 2004 tsunami, demand for timber has been almost insatiable. Some international and local aid organizations have even been accused of buying illegal logs.

"This is part of our long-term plan to come up with a durable and fair forestry management plan," said Yusuf, adding he hoped the move would minimize natural disasters.

Now we await similar announcements from other governors in Sumatra, as well as those in Kalimantan and Papua.




4:30 pm |
Thursday, June 07, 2007
  Don't Make Me Laugh.

World Environment Day was celebrated yesterday in Indonesia under the theme: "Change in Climate, Beware of Environmental Disasters."

Most of us would say that a better theme might be "Change Mankind, Avoid Environmental Disasters."

If Indonesians want to know what the world thinks about their lack of thought when it comes to environmental protection, then look no further than the UK Daily Mail which, not unreasonably, thinks that the Citarum could well be the World's Most Polluted River.

More than 500 factories, many of them producing textiles which require chemical treatment, line the banks of the 200-mile river, the largest waterway in West Java, spewing waste into the water.

On top of the chemicals go all the other kinds of human detritus from the factories and the people who work there. There is no such luxury as a rubbish collection service here. Nor are there any modern toilet facilities. Everything goes into the river. The filthy water is sucked into the rice paddies, while families risk their health by collecting it for drinking, cooking and washing.

Twenty years ago, this was a place of beauty, and the river still served its people well. (They) no longer try to fish. It is more profitable to forage for rubbish they can salvage and trade - plastic bottles, broken chair legs, rubber gloves - risking disease for one or two pounds a week if they are lucky.

Every year the Ministry of the Environment nominates recipients of Kalpataru Awards which are given to individuals and groups of people, who have done meritorious efforts to protect the environment.

So every year we learn of 12 individuals, mainly from the outer islands, who have worked within their communities to repair damage and to educate their neighbours in the best ways to provide a sustainable future. And they are to be saluted.

But what of the cities?
They are given Adipuara Awards if they have managed to keep their environments clean.

If you live in or have ever visited Jakarta, would you believe that Jl. Sudirman, the capital's main thoroughfare, has been judged, in the urban facility category, to be the best street in the country?

I can only think that the individuals who made this crass judgement have had a police escort whilst using the exclusive busway lane to avoid the traffic jams, or maybe they drove along it at 2am when the street is empty. Or was it on one of those Sundays when Governor Sooty and his acolytes lead a mass jog-in having diverted the traffic?

And I can only think that they haven't used the busway and tried to get onto the sidewallk at, say, Sarinah or Atma Jaya University. The pedestrian bridges to access the buses, which are blocked with hawkers and beggars, take up most the sidewalk width and it's necessary to walk among the traffic. Other stretches of the sidewalk are driven along by motorcyclists, but, thankfully, not everywhere. Other stretches are riddled with broken stones and holes, rendering the act of walking a severe danger to limbs.

Watch Your Step

Whoever made this particular decision does not live in the same city as you or me.




3:00 pm |
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
  Nature-deficit Disorder 1

Today's post was not sparked by the supplement in today's Jakarta Post informing its readers that apparently today is World Environment Day. We all know that tomorrow will be a return to Couldn't Give A Shit Every Other Day.

It wasn't sparked either by the withdrawal of Sarwono Kusumaatmadja from Jakarta's gubernatorial election on the grounds that the big political party money, or should I say, the political parties big money, is with Fauzi Bodoh. Sarwono was Suharto's last Minister of the Environment and in spite of his apologia for the economic excesses of the Suharto regime, is known as Mr Clean and Mr Simple for his modest lifestyle. Sarwono has close relationship with grassroot movements and the poorest in the city. (He) is a pluralist campaigner and has good relationship with non-Moslem society.

Ah, the grassroots, the smell of newly-mown lawns. Yes, this post was sparked by something my good friend the Reveller told me on Sunday. Rather than from his usual haunts of smoky drinking dens, he had just returned from a training course in Puncak, the wealthy Jakartans' weekend retreat in the hills.

"You can smell the air," he told me.

And I thought that it would be more than nice to do the same, and soon. Except that without the wherewithal to withdraw from the city, somewhere closer to home is needed. And, of course, there isn't anywhere.

I haven't had a chance to peruse the Jakarta Green Map, but it's a reasonable assumption that much of the green space shown back in 2004 isn't there now.

Mind you, by all accounts, including this one, it's much the same elsewhere.

When I was a lad, growing up in Blackheath in southeast London, we had a front and back garden. Every year we'd pick a veritable cornucopia of fruits grown in the back garden: blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries, rhubarb and varieties of apples which can no longer be found in supermarkets. One of my chores was to cut the front hedgerow, to weed the flower beds and to mow the lawn, all in full view of passing pedestrians.

I don't know who lives there now but the house was on television a month or so ago as the London Marathon passed by. The front garden I knew intimately is now a paved parking place.

Britain's 15m or so gardens have, in recent years, been recognised as vital oases for wildlife, a refuge from a countryside that has been systematically depleted of much of its biodiversity. Their function as part of a network of green spaces, corridors along which plants and animals can travel, is especially important.

Yet ....... in London alone, an area of front gardens equivalent to the area of 22 Hyde Parks is now under paving, while back gardens are being paved, decked or sold for development at an alarming rate.

It's not that many generations ago that there were green spaces throughout Jakarta.

It can take 30 minutes to get through this road junction today.

It's a fair assumption that the majority of those living in Jakarta have a kampung they can return to elsewhere in Indonesia, which they do at Idul Fitri, the end of the Muslim fasting month. Their journeys home afford views of fields and clusters of houses sheltering amid clumps of remaining rainforest, coconut palms and banana trees.

What can we city dwellers do to recapture our roots?

All and any concrete suggestions, links and comments welcome.

(Should I be asking for 'natural' suggestions?)




1:00 pm |
Sunday, June 03, 2007
  Sunday Snippets

Do all you can - with what you have - in the time you have - in the place you are.
- South African Aids victim, Nkosi Johnson

Terry is an artist
and he has.

Prophylactic Equine

Condoms are planet savers according to the Optimum Population Trust, as they present 'spectacular' value for money at 35p each, saving the 750 tonnes of CO2 that would be emitted by the average UK citizen in a year.

In Indonesia, the savings would be substantially greater as the condoms are (reputedly) substantially smaller.

Whey out of line
Mars UK, the company behind some of Britain's top-selling chocolate bars, has admitted many of its well known brands will remain unsuitable for vegetarians, despite reversing a decision to use animal extracts in its products.

From a recent Society supplement of the Guardian and quoted in the wonderful World Wide Words: "In an effort to intervene as early as possible in troubled families, first-time mothers identified just 16 weeks after conception will be given intensive weekly support from midwives and health visitors until the unborn child reaches two years old."

So that's a two-year-old unborn child that had been identified as a first-time mother only 16 weeks after conception, then?

Finally, from a spam email that slipped through and states the bleeding obvious: On surgery you can end up with a shorter penis then before.


6:00 pm |
Friday, June 01, 2007
  Highland Gathering

This is one of the capital’s odder days. Jakarta’s Highland Gathering is a well-established part of the expat calendar, and the organisers claim it has become the largest of its kind outside Scotland. It’s a chance for The Expat World And His Wife to relax unharassed and be surprised at just long it is since you met old so-and-so. It may well have been at last year’s do.

First held in 1974, the gathering has grown from a small-time act of whimsy into an international extravaganza, capturing the national media’s attention every year with its big Aussies massacring logs with chainsaws, parachutists, caber tossers, kilted bagpipers, the likes of whom are, unsurprisingly, unrivalled throughout Indonesia. In fact, so thoroughly alien is the event, that when you see a queue of Western children waiting their turn to be knocked off a greasy pole, it’s altogether possible to forget that you are actually in Jakarta. Which, of course you’re not. Held for many years in Rasuna Said, then in the Senayan complex, it is now thanks to sponsorship hosted some 40 kilometres to the west of Jakarta in the extensive grounds of the Pelita Harapan School in the new town of Lippo Karawaci.

Indonesia is always well represented at the gathering in terms of traditional dance displays, stone-jumping and rival bagpipe and kilt frenzies from Sumatra. The Indonesian authorities, however, very nearly made the gathering a caber-free event, when, in 1975, the caber was refused permission to enter. The way round this minor detail was to fly the caber back to Britain and then ship it out to Java where it could be unsuspectingly tossed overboard and left to drift ashore in north Jakarta.

The Gathering has been cancelled a few times when national events, such as the abdication of Suharto in 1998 and the Bali bombs of a few years later, have dampened spirits or had a scary security dimension. More recently, as a precaution against ‘terrorist plots’, which may or may not have been illusory, publicity for the Gatherings has been very last minute and largely on the gossip grapevine. Held over a weekend, the authors really enjoy the Sunday when we can be found in one of the hospitality tents waiting for the closing fireworks display, probably the finest in Indonesia.

Oooh. Aaah. Wow.
[fr. Culture Shock-Jakarta by Derek Bacon & Terry Collins. pub. Marshall Cavendish, August 2007]

And this year's do is on Sunday. Local residents may be surprised because not one advertisement seems to have been placed in the mass media. Whether this is due to scary 'security' concerns or whether the expat organisers, who generally mix in business circles, want to keep it in-house, so to speak, I wouldn't know. One bit of gossip I've picked up is that the British Embassy has not given its blessing this year.

And that smacks of plain paranoia.

Or has Scotland already seceded from the Untied Kingdom?

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