My good friend David Jardine is as bemused as I am by the really daft measures being proposed by various governments to coerce immigrants into merging into a so-called 'national identity'. The Australians are the latest to try to identify important elements of their 'culture' which they feel Iraqis and others fleeing war and sectarian strife back 'home' should be aware of.
Dave had a letter about this issue published this week in the Jakarta Post and this is it:
The latest round of nonsense relating to so-called citizenship qualifications in the so-called advanced democracies is surely risible. I refer to the Australian test and the possibility of having to answer questions about the Melbourne Cup, the country's most famous horse race. This surely demonstrates how arbitrary these things are. There must, after all, be more than a few Aussies who have no interest in the sport and who would not be able to answer these questions!
OK, I put out a challenge to my British expatriate-fellows in Indonesia, including Embassy staff, to see if they qualify for British citizenship on terms arbitrarily drawn up by... me. I have 20 questions about the history and culture of the UK and the pass mark (fairly generous) is 12 correct. I can be contacted hereand promise to reply promptly. Just to show that I understand a little of British culture I will subject myself to 20 questions anyone else can come up with.
Could be interesting... I might be stateless!
And here is his quiz. To be honest, without resorting to Wikipedia, I can only answer six, and I've got doubts about two of those answers.
-------------How British Are You? 1. Where were the so-called Debatable Lands? 2. Which famous writer belonged to a family of lighthouse engineers? 3. What was Princess Di's maiden name? 4. Four of the six best post-WW2 British-born soccer managers came from pit villages in Lanarkshire and Durham. Name them. 5. In which book does Toad of Toad Hall appear? 6. Who was the last British sprinter to win 100m gold in Olympics? 7. What (not her head) came away in the executioner's hand when Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded? 8. Which S.Wales city has a famous male voice choir called the Orpheus? 9. In which country is the Darien Gap unsuccessfully settled by Scots? 10. Name the 2 British mountaineers who may have reached the summit of Everest before Tensing. 11. Who led Tensing and Hilary's expedition? 12. What is Dame Naomi James famous for? 13. How did the Suffragette Emily Davidson famously martyr herself for the cause? 14. In which part of the UK did People's Democracy emerge in 1968? 15. What was the full name of the Jardine company founded in Hong Kong? 16. From which major Asian port did his clippers run opium to China? 17. Which English king initiated the construction of Canterbury Cathedral? 18. Who was the Beatles' manager? 19. Which world record holder was killed in a boat accident on Coniston? 20. Which river rises on Plynlimmon in N. Wales?
If you think you know (some of) the answers, please post them in the comments.
And if anyone wants to accept Dave's challenge to set him a few questions, please email me and I'll post them here too.
Members of this familyare fond of bright, shiny objects, and will steal rings and other jewellery. Most members of this family eat a wide variety of food.
Members of this speciesare also looked at as disgusting and blood-thirsty because they prey on other species, Yet, ... this bad press cannot suppress the fact that they are very intelligent, ... use tools and have some problem-solving abilities.
Does this sound like a family you know, Italian perhaps?
Well, stone the crows, the 'family' I'm referring to are Indonesian and profess Christian values.
My ongoing industrial relations dispute has now reached a crucial juncture. The 'defendants' have been invited several times to the mediation table by the Department of Manpower (Depnaker), invitations which have treated with seeming disdain for the due legal process.
This, and the disclosure of some of our signed documentary evidence of long-term intimidation (including death threats) which continues, of financial malfeasance over the past 3 years, and their general 'fuck you' attitude which rides rough shod over statutory and moral rights, has infuriated officials in the bureaucracy who are now talking of police action as the next step.
However, Yayasan Badan Pendidikan Kristen - Penabur have one more chance, just one - tomorrow, to attend a session at Depnaker. Failure to do so will result in open court sessions and the full disclosure here and in other media of the facts which has put the livelihoods of some 40 expatriate workers in Indonesia at risk.
(NB. If you're wondering about my comparison between the supposedly Christian 'godfathers' of one of Indonesia's largest education networks and black birds, then delve into folklore ~ the French had a saying that evil priests became crows.)
The next day
Well, that was an interesting meeting.
The Penabur lawyers appeared to be totally unprepared, other than to offer to pay us the money owed ~ as stated in writing ~ from October last year. They had few other documents or, rather, they were reluctant to say what they had. They were indeed reluctant to produce a copy of my contract and as for having a copy in bahasa Indonesia ......
They were unable to answer the mediator's questions about following the provisions of Act No.13, 2003, concerning Manpower and, apart from appearing to be embarrassed at their own unpreparedness, could offer nothing more than that month's pay and the comment that my writing on the internet about the case was a breach of 'etiquette'.
Well, screw that. They know the strength of our case, even if we have done nothing but hint at BPK-Penabur's breaches of the criminal and civil codes. The joy of today's meeting was the slow realisation that the seeming incompetence of Penabur's lawyers could have been a mask to conceal the fact that they may also be out to screw Penabur.
Most corporations keep lawyers and accountants on a retainer basis, year-by-year. The Penabur lawyers will get nothing other than their regular fees by continuing our case through the current bureaucratic mediation process. They will, however, be able to claim much larger fees for appearing in a court, such as the Industrial Relations Court. Mind you, the Court will almost certainly make their decision based on the recommendations of the mediator.
Once there, much that I have hinted at here will become clear and in the public domain. You may think me perverse, but this isn't what we want. We have consistently stated that by making a stand, one justified in Indonesian legislation, we are protecting the rights of all those currently employed in similar institutions and those yet to be recruited. We want to see Penabur change their employment practices so that they, at the very least, offer the protection as guaranteed by law.
Screw some antiquated notion of etiquette, the same system which employs 'bules' for entertainment value only, as performing monkeys.
I may have breached certain 'cultural norms', but I have not knowingly manipulated laws for the sake of personal profit.
If I have written anything that is libellous and cannot be proven, then I say "sue me". That this hasn't yet happened can be construed as an admission that what has happened to us (and at least a dozen other expats) is indefensible.
One more meeting is scheduled for next week at Disnaker. We advise BPK-Penabur to face up to the facts and deal with us there, in private. Failure to do so will be our gain, and not only because the compensation payable would be considerably higher. We will gain because they will lose, thus vindicating the notion that standing up for your rights ~ in our case, our legal rights ~ is the right thing to do.
Penabur is avowedly a Christian organisation. We are merely following New Testament precepts they should understand.
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? John 4:16
Given the very fragile nature of our planet, it is good to know that is is capable of fighting back. Our natural disasters are Earth's shock therapy.
The Earth is an extraordinarily fragile place that is fraught with danger: a tiny rock hurtling through space, wracked by violent movements of its crust and subject to dramatic climatic changes as its geophysical and orbital circumstances vary.
Barely 10,000 years after the end of the Ice Age, the planet is sweltering in some of the highest temperatures in recent Earth history. At the same time, over-population and exploitation are dramatically increasing the vulnerability of modern society to natural catastrophes such as earthquakes, floods, and volcanic eruptions.
So says Bill McGuire, who is the author or editor of over 400 books, papers and articles focusing on volcano instability and monitoring, volcanic hazards, natural hazards and environmental change, climate change and global geophysical events.
There is global warming so the ice caps are melting. This increases water depths across the planet, whilst exposing the land masses at each pole. The increased weight of water elsewhere puts pressure on the Earth's crust. The addition of over a hundred metres depth of water to the continental margins and marine island chains, where over 60% of the world's active volcanoes reside, seems to be sufficient to load and bend the underlying crust.
This in turn squeezes out any magma that happens to be hanging around waiting for an excuse to erupt. It may well be that a much smaller rise can trigger an eruption if a volcano is critically poised and ready to blow.
Think of it as similar to squeezing a particularly ripe pimple or boil and you get the picture.
That one outcome of increased volcanic activity is likely to be a period of falling temperatures, as a veil of volcanic dust and gas reduces the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface is of little consolation though, as this will reduce the growing cycles of our food crops.
I can see no arguments against McGuire's hypothesis, based as it is on impeccable research, but I'm sure there is one group with vested interests who will. After all, the Asean Energy Ministers say that there is a dire need for nuclear power stations in the region. Aware of the growing public antipathy to such a notion, this past week they have established a working party to work out the details of their proposed ASEAN Nuclear Energy Safety Sub-Sector Network.
One can't be too sure what they will achieve. After all, they believe that nuclear power is inherently safe because, according to the World Nuclear Association (who else?), the deaths per TWy of electricity produced are 885 for hydropower, 342 for coal, 85 for natural gas, and 8 for nuclear.
That it has also been stated that there haven't been any problems with the storage of nuclear waste in the past 50 years is largely irrelevant here. (Apart from being untrue, what about its storage for the next 100,000 years, after which current spent fuels will be deemed safe.)
So nuclear power plants are comparatively safe. Can they withstand earthquakes and volcanic eruptions?
It has the largest number of historically active volcanoes (76), its total of 1,171 dated eruptions is only narrowly exceeded by Japan's 1,274, and these two regions have combined to produce 1/3 of the known explosive eruptions. Indonesia has suffered the highest numbers of eruptions producing fatalities, damage to arable land, mudflows, tsunamis, domes, and pyroclastic flows. ... Four-fifths of Indonesian volcanoes with dated eruptions have erupted in this century ...
Global cooling has often been linked with major volcanic eruptions. The year 1816 has often been referred to as "the year without a summer". It was a time of significant weather-related disruptions in New England and in Western Europe with killing summer frosts in the United States and Canada. These strange phenomena were attributed to a major eruption of the Tambora volcano in 1815 in Indonesia. The volcano threw sulfur dioxide gas into the stratosphere, and the aerosol layer that formed led to brilliant sunsets seen around the world for several years.
And the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 (Bali) apparently caused a considerable decrease in temperatures around much of the world.
So, the country whose population is contributing more than most to global warming, through deforestation, the burning of peatlands, industrial and urban pollution, may find that nature will look after itself and preserve Mother Earth for those species which aren't interested in raping and looting.
It won't do much for humans, but, hey, we are relatively insignificant in cosmic terms.
Some fool has registered jakartass.com, albeit neglecting to register jakartass.org or dots net, biz, info, us, co.uk or mobi (eh?). Obviously this financially clueless corporation believes that Jakartass has some financial clout. They are sorely mistaken.
Presumably too, there is a notion that there will be a steady stream of advertising wonga, mulla, dosh and other currencies from those seeking the words and wisdom of Jakartass. How misdirected can one be?
Rest assured that this site, whether hosted on Blogger or elsewhere, will be advert-free, except for those carefully chosen because they're part of my community of friends, family or what is euphemistically called my 'lifestyle'.
Jakartass is against the piracy of intellectual property. I would have sold the name for a reasonable sum.
Jakartass is for the steadfast maintenance of cultural norms. (This is my justification for my financial support of the pirated DVD industry here.)
Amor Fati is a blog by Roy Voragen. I don't know what Amor Fati means - Obese, as opposed to Obscene, Love perhaps - but then I'm not a recent philosophy graduate from Holland, teaching philosophy in Bandung and living in Jakarta.
That last bit is, of course, true for me, but then I rarely use my photos to comment on my philosophical views, nor do I have a host of links to think tanks, university departments or art galleries.
Roy does, so I'm giving him the Jakartass seal of approval with a permanent link.
Foot(ball)note Following Charlton's relegation, or degradasi as Indonesians put it, from the EPL last season, a number of financial cutbacks were made. One of these was the very successful Women's team. But sponsors have now been found to enable the club to continue its fine community work for the next three years at least.
I'm rather too busy writing (for money) to write for prosperity here, so I hope you won't mind making do with this very strange anti-spam spam email which has filtered through the anti-spam filter of Indosat.
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I woke up quite early this morning because I needed to go to the loo, the best place for a quiet muse and to plan my day. And that, as usual, gave me the theme for this little post.
You see, yesterday was quite busy. It was the day for Our Kid's monthly jaunt with me up to Jalan Jaksa for his burger fix and to Mangga Dua for my computer fix. This time a couple of wires had come loose in my external hard drive, the one I keep my digitalised sounds on. Now that's fixed there's still the problem of not having the proper Codecs, which is something to do with actually playing all the 75 gigabytes of music I've got stored.
It turns out that with my Indosat dial up connection it's going to take something like an hour to download all 12.7mb of files, which, of course, is time enough to get this post together, especially if the 'time remaining' sticks at 45 minutes.
This should be time enough to read and answer all those emails I've got sitting in my Inbox - all 777 of them. Or maybe I should sort out the 2,876 emails in my Sent folder.
I'm regularly asked why I don't have a handphone. I now realise that I've got another excuse: if I can't find the time to edit, file or erase properly written missives, how would I cope with semi-literate notes which I'd have to ask Our Kid to decipher?
SMSs? I 8 em & U?
(37:59 remaining) I do have problems with emails too. For example, Son No.1 has a business problem which he doesn't want blogged. However, as it concerns Indonesia I've emailed fellow expat bloggers here seeking advice, much of which has been very sound and for which thanks have been expressed.
Back in Blighty, he has consulted various friends and now knows how to proceed through legal channels if he so wishes. Again, the support and advice he has received has been tremendous, all supported by weighty emails which took an increasing amount of time to read as each successive one was an additional burden.
(20:17 remaining) When snail mail was the norm, it would have been very strange to repeat verbatim the letter being responded to. So why do folk do it with emails? Surely it makes better sense, and easier readability to "quote" the section being responded to. Or better yet, given that one message was "You owe us all a beer - or three" to send just that.
(16:43 remaining) Obviously emails are a valuable tool for communication, but so are blogs. And this post has certainly not added to my burden of unanswered mail, even if I have procrastinated and not opened Outlook Express.
I'm not sure if I need Viagra, but like Rachel, age 8 - “It tastes like poop. How could you live with yourself if you made that ice cream?” - I certainly don't want to try ChocolateGarlicIce Cream. (Download complete)
(This post is dedicated to Jeremy Wagstaffe who has a regular Sunday column in the Jakarta Post writing about those computer problems which we are all frustrated with. I'll be writing to him directly if his recommended Registry Cleaner doesn't work, nor the codecs I linked to from that site.)
Since when does a company ring up out of the blue to say that we've won a competition organised by Telkom? Apparently it's their umpteenth birthday so they're giving away loads of prizes to folk whose telephone numbers were read out on ANTV.
Well, that's what the caller told 'Er Indoors who jumped up and down as if we'd won the Canadian lottery or something so we could all retire having hived off Our Kid to the most exclusive boarding school in the known world or somewhere even better.
I told her there was a catch, there had to be. But it's a SuperEx 19.5D, she garbled to me. Wow, I thought, that sounds like a really nice car to sit in whilst idling away the hours spent in traffic jams. And the catch?
We have to buy a phone card for Rp.400,000, which is all very well but none of us have a handphone. Ah, but they'll pay us back, she said. Why should they? I mused. Oh, but we can sell it later. But at a discount I replied.
They'll bring the Super Duper Wotsit to our house. Great, that's important because none of us can drive.
It now turns out that it's a motorbike fit for one of those Hell's Cherubs that plague our street and the sidewalks of Jalan Sudirman, the main drag. Wow!
We can always sell it, she says.
Yeah, if we ever get it, I told.
And if the above sounds cynical, it's because I am.
I've only ever once won anything and that was in a raffle organised on behalf of a local children's hospital. I won a bloody big pink Teddy Bear for which I had no use or a girlfriend to give it to.
So I gave it to the children's hospital.
Now I await the result of this charade. ......................
'Er Indoors is getting more and more irate with whoever is on the other end of the phone. ...................... We both now think it's a game involving a Pak Bambang, but I've told him that if there's a shiny new two wheeler in the Jakartass Towers driveway when I get home at about seven this evening I'll say something nice here.
The following morning follow up
Of course there wasn't anything in our driveway.
The Reveller, in his comment below, has concisely explained the scam. If anyone would like to piss the scammer off, then please call 7143 1516, which is the number Bambang Sudrayat, which is a feasible if false name, gave us when he tried to scam 'Er Indoors.
What worries me, and many others, is that folk can be so gullible. The chance of getting something for seemingly nothing is so tempting to so many folk.
Why oh why should we Indonesian subscribers to ESPN and Star Sports have to put up with wrestling, golf, so-called extreme sports and TBA (to be arranged?) rather than the world's most popular sport as exemplified by the English Premier League?
I'm not that great a fan of the EPL, mainly because the footballers with the most sublime skills in the world display them there in return for a millionaire's lifestyle and income. There is a great disparity in wealth between the Manchester Uniteds and Chelseas and the lesser lights who occasion, perhaps, greater passion.
I'm thinking of such clubs as Charlton, from whence I come, Carlisle, the homebase of Dave Jardine, an occasional contributor to Jakartass, AFC Wimbledon, which is not (yet) in the football league, is supported by Indcoup and Barnet, which has yet to reach the heights of (even) Carlisle and which, for a reason I can't quite fathom, is supported by Son No.1.
We can all talk fairly knowledgeably about the EPL and we all wonder how our teams would fair in the rarified realms of the EPL. Above all we will moan that not enough money is being dribbled down to the lower reaches and the grassroots.
Too little is being done to encourage kids to play the easiest game in the world. All you need is a fairly flat piece of ground, a couple of cans to be the goalposts and something to kick, even if it's just a ball of rags. Such a game costs nothing, but can bring hours of enjoyment, healthy exercise and engender team work ~ what's an attack if there's no defence? Aren't these life's most valuable lessons?
But even these must be controlled, often in the name of Corporate Social Responsibility. No longer are we mere mortals expected to provide our own pleasures; all have to be owned and sold to those with the greater spending power. If TV is the opium of the masses, then our narcotics are provided by some really greedy bastards. Either that, or we are witnessing a disenfranchising of the masses from the opiate of their choice.
A couple of weeks ago, Chief Executive Officer of Astro All Asia Networks (AAAN) Robert Odendaal said: "Across the region, the Group is actively seeking to expand its distribution platforms and content development initiatives, particularly in under-catered markets such as Indonesia and India. Pending final authorization from the Indonesian authorities, we are in active discussions to formalise the basis of a corporate relationship. Meanwhile, the Astro service, which is available under a trademark licensing arrangement, continues to grow, with approximately 80,000 subscribers to date, representing some 25% share of the Direct-To-Home (DTH) market."
Surely it is against foreign investment rules for a non-Indonesian media company to exercise monopolistic control of TV channels here in Indonesia through pricing the terrestial channels out of the market and depriving 75% of the Direct-To-Home (DTH) market access to already paid for broadcasts.
What is much worse in my humble opinion is that Astro may be serving some 80,000 subscribers here, but what about the rest of the population, some 230 million of us?
When, last year,they threatened to deprive us of the FA Cup Final , the government got involved and Astro were fended off. That they are renewing their attacks on the Indonesian airwaves is now offensive.
1. A couple of weeks back I used my USB flashdrive to leave some documents for ready access on an office computer. I brought home a couple of worms and trojans which burrowed their way into my system and proved horribly resistant.
My new virus scan, NOD 32, which was in fact installed on the aforementioned office computer (!), found them and suggested that the only thing to do was to delete the files. Unfortunately, these were .exe files, needed for the hitherto smooth operation of my online affairs.
So I reinstalled Windows and then discovered that no signal was getting through to my monitor. Cue a visit to Ratu Plaza on election day to buy a video card (and lots of cheapo DVDs of some very good movies).
Yippee, picture restored but ....... it was like wading through porridge, not that I've ever tried that. Every programme was taking an eternity to open, and then would disappear. I couldn't install the driver for the video card and that led to a couple of days of frustration and real ho hum karma.
The Reveller offered lots of advice, some of which I followed, but his main suggestion, one I am extremely loathe to follow, was to uninstall Windows, reformat the drive and then reinstall Windows and every programme.
No way, Hosay, (which is not his real name).
And why am I giving you all these tedious details? Because things seem to be back to what passes for normal at Terminal Jakartass ~ and I don't know why or how. I took time out to watch a couple of thrillers, and - lo and behold - it happened. The video driver was magically installed, the programmes now open quickly and I can afford a smile.
2. Indonesian football lovers, at least those of us who are fans of an English team in the most popular league in the world (EPL), are currently unable to wallow in the weekly glories, or agonies.
The reason is seemingly simple: the Premiership has priced itself out of the Indonesian market. No local terrestrial channel will now broadcast matches live and, apparently, nor will the Indonesian subscriber-based channels, Indovision or Kabelvision which up until last season carried EPL matches on ESPN and Star Sports.
The fly in the scenario is pay-TV operator, Astro, a Malaysian concern which is trying to build a monopoly of popular TV channels to benefit its 100, or thereabouts, subscribers.
The only control, and indeed satisfaction, about this sorry affair is that my team, Charlton Athletic in case you didn't know, are now playing in The Championship. And there never was much call for TV coverage of what we mere mortals prefer to call the Second Division. My option is simple: I can unsubscribe from Indovision's sports package.
3. Belated congrats to Fauzi Bozo who has been elected to the Governorship of Jakarta. My earlier posts about the election were obviously ignored by the masses, the approximately 2 million out of the population of some 13 million who punched a hole in his likeness on the voting paper. (Some four million weren't registered to vote, or couldn't be bothered.)
That he will undoubtedly prove as patronising, greedy and stupid as ever is a good thing. The electorate can do nothing about it for the next five years, but, hey, that's not too long to wait for true democratic control and the much-needed drastic overhaul of the remnants of the Suharto era who are his puppeteers.
No.1 is Mr No Moustache and No.2 is Mr Moustache, but that's on the ballot paper you'll get on Wednesday ~ assuming your name isn't one of the 2 million missing from the electoral roll and assuming you actually think your vote for the next Jakarta Governor is going to make any difference.
Jakartass doesn't have the vote so I must be careful not to sway the electorate. All I can do is lay certain 'facts' before you and allow you to make up your own minds.
No.1 in terms of political party support is Mr Moustache, but then that's because all the fading Suhartoist groupings believe that having a moustache is a sign of virility. (And, yes, Jakartass is similarly adorned, so it must be true.)
No.2 suggests that the Indonesian for moustache, Kumis, is hubris (although he did have one two years ago) and relies on a predominantly Muslim political grouping for his support.
Some things all residents agree on is that the uncontrolled growth of Jakarta with minimal adherence to spatial plans has resulted in grandiose commercial centres at the expense of public space, rapidly deteriorating public services ~ which weren't very good in the first place, and the alienation of communities.
Blame lies within City Hall. And this is where No.2 has been building his fortune, reportedly Rp.40 billion (c.$4.5 million), for the past thirty years.
No.1, meanwhile, has overseen the transition of the police from a military force to a civilian force. Not that the populace have yet learned to love them. Respect has to earned honestly rather than through brown envelopes and 'special fees' for public services rendered.
But he has stated that good public services would lead to a 'friendly' city and he has also signed an anti-corruption contract, unlike No.2.
No.2 thinks that a decent public relations department will make the city expat-friendly, not that he is demonstrably expat-friendly himself. Far from it. Five years ago, his intervention in the marital problems of his cousin Sherisada Manaf (Richardson) demonstrated how corruption, cronyism and nepotism destroyed quality schools.
No.2 has been responsible for newspapers extolling the support he's got from the likes of former President Megashopper. The immense tonnage of waste paper his campaign has generated proves he is not a committed environmentalist.
But then given that neither candidate bothered to turn up and sign a contract on environmental policies drawn up by the Jakarta Environmental Caucus, one must wonder about their commitment to the long-term future of the city.
As No.2 famously and fatuously said about Jakarta's floods earlier this year, what's the problem? Other places also experience floods.
I could go on because there are differences, not that they matter. That there are only two pairs of candidates in this election is unfortunate. Challenged as to why candidates had to have the backing of political parties which had already demonstrated their 'popularity' in a previous poll, the courts decided that this was unconstitutional and the law is now in the process of being amended.
Independent candidates can now stand - in future elections - and, as the majority of Londoners demonstrated in their election of Ken Livingstone as Mayor, this can be a good thing.
This election in Jakarta is important, if only because it is the first ever direct election for the city's Governor. The choice of just two establishment figures may not suit the majority of the electors and citizenry, so there is a third choice. Turn up, sign in, but don't actually cast a vote. The term is Golput - a white paper.
And if I could vote, my choice would be the man who would not be king of the castle.
Jakarta looks more like a tramp on the morning after than usual with tattered banners draped from bridges, advertising hoardings and between trees and poles. There are a myriad stickers, mostly orange surrounding a couple of dark blobs, plastered over everything that doesn't move and a lot that does - buses, trains and motorbikes. There are none on my front wall, although there are on the freshly painted ones of my neighbours, no doubt to their annoyance.
I have been pissed off at the traffic chaos engendered by the rallies on behalf of the smug gits who profess that they have the answers to Jakarta's woes - traffic jams being one of them.
However, although trying to get from A to B in this city is stressful even at the best of times, I couldn't help but feel some sympathy for all the supposed supporters parading through the main thoroughfares. That they had the time to take to the streets is an indication that they were mostly the disenfranchised, the poor and underemployed. Being given a bright orange T-shirt, Rp.25,000 (c.$3), a snack and drink, and asked to wave a flag supporting one side or t'other whilst on the way to a concert by a sexy dangdut singer sure beats sitting in a stifling hot warung, busking on the buses or doing whatever it takes to earn a crust.
I hope that none of the motorcyclists trundling around with the missus and kids, all without crash helmets, got themselves wiped out for the cause. I trust too that none of the youths dancing around on the tops of hired (hijacked?) buses fell off. After all, it's not that often that the masses are given parties by the political parties which are usually too busy organising good times for themselves. The general impression is that they couldn't give a shit for the electorate which, ultimately, they're going to have to depend on.
I don't have the vote, which is probably fortunate as it means that I can't protest at these shenanigans by not voting. But 'Er Indoors can and she, along with a couple of million others, was somewhat inconvenienced on Friday upon discovering that the campaign teams had seemingly commandeered most of the buses and she couldn't get home.
The campaigns have got bugger all to do with understanding issues or making the city a better place to live and (find) work in. In fact, they have only disfigured an already ugly mess and the main beneficiaries of the campaign seem to have been the scavengers who've had a field day or ten cleaning up the discarded litter trailed through the city's streets.
Somewhere in this organised chaos there is possibly a message of some import. Perhaps it's a simple question.
I haven't been blogging much recently because I have been much in demand. Apologies to those of you awaiting emails, but I promise that I'll get in touch this weekend.
Regular readers will be aware of my unfair dismissal case and to those of you who have enquired about the status of our case, you will be interested to know that we have the first official mediation attempt by Depnaker, Department of Manpower, on Monday.
Quite frankly, we are not expecting any representatives of the 'defendants' to attend. In fact, we are hoping that they won't because that opens up several other avenues open to us beyond the Industrial Relations Court. The IRC has set a few precedents recently in favour of expatriates recruited locally and as our case is much stronger in terms of documentary proof of intimidation and illegalities, we are obviously optimistic.
And very busy, which is why, pro tem, I am passing on the following problem, a domestic one, affecting a fellow expat here.
Unfortunately, it is a not uncommon problem among expats here, even among those of us who have Indonesian families (which my correspondent doesn't)..
Your serious suggestions and comments would be most welcome.
Last week we noticed, albeit very belatedly, that our bank account was low. Much lower than it should have been even though we hadn't checked it since early may. yes, we are very slack on this front, the money goes in, we use what we have to, and save the rest. Not being terribly financially inclined, thats the way we have mostly done it.
So, we notice the account is low, start doing an internet check on the account and find that over May and July a total of 29 million rupiah had been withdrawn. This is a huge amount for us, and has really kicked us hard financially.
Then we start to figure on how and where etc. Contact the bank and to cut a long story short, they have agreed to work with the bank whose ATM was used to get the footage of the person who withdrew the money. We have to wait till next week sometime for this to happen.
In the meantime, noticing we were upset when we first found out, our live in nanny of 3 years starts acting nervous. Suspicions aroused, I wait till she goes out, check her room and find a torn up deposit slip for 30 July for Rp.8.7 million, three days after the last amount of 7.5 million had been withdrawn from our account.
How did she get the PIN? Easy. My wife went away and wrote it on a note, put it into my wallet and I very foolishly left it there for a few days before remembering to get rid of it.
So, for conclusive proof we have to wait till next week but I'm afraid she might decide to do a runner before we get to next week, tho we are behaving as if everything is okay and so on.
Do we call in the police when proof is delivered via ATM footage? I'm told by others they will want their cut of anything returned.
Or, should I get in a security guard I know, pay him a commission and get him to question her and get the money back? (We are pretty certain she has banked most if not all of it).
Or should I confront her and demand the money back? Escort her to the bank and get her to transfer the money back to mine? In fact, can this be done? Then just let her go?
Or, call in a dukun (soothsayer) and have him point the finger and get her to return the money?
Or, should we not wait for the final proof and confront her now before she gets cold feet and makes a run for it? If so, how best to confront her?
To make it worse, she is considered to be one of the family, is paid very well, kids love her, we have always treated her well etc etc. It's not as if she has a grudge against us, but I think the temptation was just too much. Thus, in some ways, it is my fault for tempting her and she took the bait unwittingly offered.
Culturally, legally, and morally I'm at a loss.
What do you think? And yes, I've been an ass to keep card and PIN together, but now need to try and rectify the situation.
Hope to hear from you. Soon. ----------------------------------------------
I've already talked this over with 'Er Indoors, but as I am still unclear as to how best to reply to my correspondent, so this will have to be a weekend task.
Yep, the putative leaders of the democratic metropolis of Jakarta are covering the streets with piles of waste and filling the airwaves with bullshit, yet I haven't read or heard that either of them is overly concerned with the lack of toilet facilities and sewage plants for the disposal of the effluvia expelled by some 80% of us.
So, my heading is crap. The candidates are merely pissing in the wind whilst the rest of us have to find the nearest tree like mongrel dogs.
But enough of politics.
Today the Jakarta Post has a couple of stories about toilets. Julia Suryakusuma makes an interesting point when she relates an anecdote about working for an urban-based NGO back in the early '80s. Visiting rural communities and building communal bathroom facilities as part of a Suharto era development programme, she and her colleagues wondered why the recipients of their largesse continued to use the local rivers for their daily needs.
Trying to understand the rationale for this, we urbanite NGO workers figured that, hmm, if you're used to bathing, washing and going to the toilet in a flowing river or stream, in the open air with greenery all around you, it would be pretty unpleasant, claustrophobic even, to sit in a closed or even semi-closed bathroom.
So it's all about encouraging 'good' habits. One such person who does is profiled today in the Post. Jack Lim is founder of the World Toilet Organisation, a much more noble institution than the other WTO. A seminal paper of his advocates a star-rating for public toilets. Indeed, more public toilets owners are recognising the marketing power of their toilets, which proves that well-managed toilets are not just welcomed by customers – they are also good for business.
The UK is currently holding its 19th (?) Annual Good Loo Awards. I have long advocated something similar here, and now perhaps it's time to organise.
How would you rate these?
Toilet Passed By
Of course, the smallest room is often a good place to have a quiet read. How about a dedicated bog blog for Jakarta?