Friday, May 29, 2009
  Most Debatable Post?

My post below seems to have attracted more comments than most because I referred to Indonesia as my home.

However, I really wanted to examine whether we expats, visitors, residents - or whatever label gets pinned on us - view our lives here similarly. This is why I posted my emailed reply to Dalton Tanonaka whose column in this month's Weekender magazine had 35 questions pertaining to the imponderables that we expats, visitors, residents, whatever, regularly consider.

Rob Baiton is the only reader who has taken up the challenge I set - question 29 is "a frequent topic on Jakartass".

And Rob's answer, which I've edited out of the comments, is spot on ...because you need a mobile phone for each aspect of your life, namely: one for family, one for work, one for your friends, one for your friends that you do not want anyone to know about, and one for just about any other reason you can think of.

One of my funniest memories was when I was at an immigration office and getting grilled by an officer who had at least three phones. The funny is that while she was chastising me about leaving my renewal to the last minute all three of her phones went off. Even funnier still was that this was not an unusual occurrence because everyone new what to do. All her underlings jumped up and answered their respective phones...

Dalton's question was - Why is there a need for more than two cell phones? Or one for that matter?

I'd add 'vanity' to Rob's list, or maybe stupidity. I remember one occasion waiting to board an elevator in an office tower watching an exec. texting on two phones and pressing the lift call button with an elbow.

If you can come up with more of Dalton's questions please leave them in the comments to this post.

And if you want to continue the 'debate' about non-Indonesians calling Indonesia home, please leave them here.


10:30 am |
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
  Greetings Dalton.

For the past three years, Dalton Tanonaka, a Hawaiian, has been part of Metro TV's English
news service. He also has a column in the Jakarta Post's monthly Weekender magazine. In the current issue he comments that after three years he's just about beginning to understand how to get things done in Jakarta, like how to order a pizza by phone,

But there remain some truly puzzling matters that have eluded (his) comprehension. So he's posed 35 questions to which we're invited to provide clues. I admit that I can't answer many of them. For example, no.2: Why the 'bigger is better' hairstyle among high society matrons.

However, I think I can provide some answers and have emailed these to him. Not only that, but I've copied them below. On the assumption that you haven't read his column, your task, if you care to accept it, is to provide the questions, preferably in the comments.


Dear Dalton.

Life for an expat in Jakarta is full of questions and what-the ...? moments.

I attempted to answer some of them in my rewrite of Culture-Shock Jakarta, published a couple of years ago. Other answers may be in my blog Jakartass. But that's enough self-promotion, and here are some answers, and varying questions, to the questions you posed in your column in this month's Weekender.

1. Although they may not use helmets, or leave them unfastened, it would be nice to think that motorcyclists wear jackets to prevent grazes if (when!) they get knocked off. However, it's more likely that arms are covered to prevent heavy tanning. Remember, only poor folk - farmers and construction workers - have dark skin.

This is akin to drivers of public transport sporting very long fingernails - which labourers certainly couldn't.

6. And why is it that whenever there's an unexpected traffic jam, you'll find policemen causing it? Or when the lights aren't working and there aren't any police or premen around the traffic usually flows much quicker?

7. A regular topic on Jakartass, and, assuming they don't edit it out, the closing line to a forthcoming interview/profile of me in the Globe.

8. I often wonder more about those women enclosed completely in black. Isn't black an absorbent of heat?

9. I always carry small change!

10. I also wondered about an expat who ordered an iced tea "but hold the ice."

13/14. Is that a toupee you're wearing?

18. That's why I've given up going to Kemang and Our Kid changed school.

19. I don't think I've seen a star overhead in Jakarta in the 21 years I've lived here.

20. Why are Indonesians so reluctant to say 'no' or 'don't know'?

26. And why do the authorities at Borobodur and Prambanan charge expats a much higher entrance fee?

28. How true!

Idul Fitru Traffic (fr. Dilligaf's blog)

29. Another frequent topic on Jakartass.

30. Why, oh why? Maybe it's because 'character building' is not a priority in schooling, and what there is relates to obeying arbritary 'rules'.

31. I love jazz piano too, so look out for simakDialog's new album Demi Masa to be released internationally (MoonJune 024) in, ahem, June.

When I interviewed Leonardo Pavkovic, CEO of MoonJune Records, about Indonesian music for C.S.-Jakarta he commented that Riza Arshad is an amazing pianist with great touch and ECM sensibility.

34. It's the last kiss which still gets me excited!

35. I have absolutely no intention of leaving Indonesia. It's my home, yet I continually ask questions.



3:00 pm |
Sunday, May 24, 2009
  Presidential Pots

All the presidential candidates have submitted their wealth reports to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) but whether the official audits stand up to scrutiny, we'll have to wait and see.

So, apart from a few snippets and outline figures I've gleaned from various sources, there are a number of details, such as how the declared wealth is derived, I am curious about.

For example, as Rob Baiton asks, how come Gen.(ret) Wiranto has amassed Rp.46.215 billion*. On his army salary and pension?

But he's not the richest by any means.

That 'honour' goes to Lieut-General (retired with an 'honourable' discharge) Prabowo Subianto who has declared Rp.1.7 trillion including Rp.28 billion in cash, ($205 million), which isn't bad for a business career of just eleven years. Defender of the poor he may be, but not at home. According to an official from his Gerindra Party, he owns 27 companies worldwide including plantations and mines in Indonesia, as well as businesses in Argentina and France and about 90 horses worth $6500 each, some at his estate in Bogor, West Java.

"About" 90 horses? Doesn't he know or can't he count? And they're only worth $6500 each? Presumably they're not intended for racing but are used to pull a dokar, a means of transport still used to carry ibu back home from market.

Second on the list is current VP Jusuf Kalla, but his wealth of Rp.253.912 billion and $14,928 is not unexpected. He's long been a noted businessman, generally using Makaassar in Sulawesi as the base of his family's operations.

Pak Jusuf is a scion of one of the republic’s wealthiest families - they are Toyota distributors to Eastern Inponesia. This is further reinforced by the business (in the form of the Bosowa Corporation) and political interests of his brother-in-law Aksa Mahmud.

The two names - Bosowa Corporation and Hadji Kalla - are emblazoned across Makassar with toll-ways, hotels, and office blocks.

Children and folk who have been told to be wary of the bogeyman may like to know that the word is a corruption of Bugis, the ethnic group from South Sulawesi, who were once feared as pirates who were the scourge of of the English, Dutch and other seekers of the fabled Spice Islands, the Mollucas. To some, particularly certain executive members of the Golkar group who thought they could have been, should have been, candidates in the July 8th Presidential election, Jusuf Kalla is living up to his roots as a bogeyman.

Third richest is Megawati Sukarnoputri, who's teamed up with Prabowo, reputedly for his wealth. She's declared Rp.86,265 billion, presumably including the house she has recently been given by the state as she's an ex-, but hopefully not future, president. However, the resources of her husband, Taufik Kiewmas are not (yet) included. These will include a network of petrol stations, many built on 'green' land, granted originally in the 70's by Jakarta Governor Ali Sadikin to bail Sukarno's daughter out of perceived poverty following her father's death.

So that leaves SBY and his vice-presidential pick, Bordiono.

On July 2, 2007, Yudhoyono reported the value of his assets at Rp 7.14 billion (US$680,380) and $44,887. Apparently this has now risen by 20%. He has said that he doesn't what members of his next government to be involved in business affairs, which does make me wonder what his presidential salary is.

Boediono is the poorest of the lot with a mere Rp.1.866 billion** and $10,000. Given that he's recently been Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy followed by a stint as the Governor of Bank Indonesia, one may have expected him to have amassed much greater sums. Perhaps he is the 'modest' man he is reputed to be.
Jakartass has Rp.417,470 in cash and whatever 'Er Indoors has squirreled away. Anything else is subject to current banking secrecy laws.
*One billion rupiah is c.$100,000, give or take a few thousand.
** Whoops, I had a misplaced point - now corrected. Subsequent appearances show him to be the 'modest' man that he has generally been painted as. Why, he even eats fried bananas without using a napkin!


8:00 am |
Friday, May 22, 2009
  More Blogs Worth Noting

Nadia Febina is an Indonesian living in Angola, West Africa, working as an engineer in the oil and gas industry. Her site is mainly on: her life in Angola; her travel pics, trips & tips; mind, body & heart.

I make no apologies for including her picture but would point out that it seems to be a shame that well-qualified Indonesians working in the oil and gas industry here don't receive anything near as much as Nadia does as an expat in Angola.

The Mad Rotter is not-so-pretty Henk from the Netherlands now living in Bandung. He loves Indonesian music of Today and Yesterday and his "blog is a work of love for Indonesian music and all the music is there for education". You can download albums of degung, jaipong, ketuk tilu among others.

Both have already been given permanent links in my blogroll to the right.

As has Hector who keeps a diary of Bali happenings most of which, I suspect, he uses in the Bali Times, a local paper-based news media. Bali is, of course, a different country which is why I have a separate section. With Nick of the Bali Blog long gone, Hector is probably now the main man.

Marmalade is not yet a commentator here but he is on Simon Pitchforth's blog, Metro Mad, which is a compilation of his columns, first for the Jakarta Post and now for Jakarta Globe. Unlike the Post, the latter does not appear to have commenting facilities, at least on the two Peices of (My) Mind they've published so far.

Anyway, M. describes himself as a taxi and ojek-ophile with itchy feet who likes to get out and about in Jakarta. With curiosity his primary ninja-skill, he stalks the streets of Jakarta searching for the perfect nosh, or at least a good all-day breakfast.

Which is why his blog is entitled Jakarta Restaurant Reviews. I was intrigued to learn what he has to say about the Buddha Bar. It's still open in spite of the recent furore but maybe because they treated City Hall bureacrats and legislators to a slap up meal, or at least that is the conclusion of journos who were carefully excluded.

If you're a foodie and can afford expensive noshes, then his could be a blog for you. But avoid the Buddha Bar, or the
Bataviasche Kunstkring as it's now called.

Tomorrow I'll give you my recipe for instant noodles.



3:30 pm |
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
  A Thorp In Our Sides

As I've often written, I have an intimate connection with Britain's nuclear industry - I've been a lifelong opponent of it, even going as far as participating in the Windscale Inquiry back in 1978. This was an Application by British Nuclear Fuels Limited for outline planning permission for a 'plant - now known as THORP* - for reprocessing irradiated oxide nuclear fuels and support site services; at their Windscale and Calder Works, Sellafield, Cumbria, commonly known as the Windscale Inquiry.
Two years ago I responded to a lengthy comment by my frequent commentator and now good friend Miko by outlining, with many links, the credibility of the British anti-nuclear lobby.

In passing, I also mentioned my involvement with the Green (né Ecology) Party. This is an even stronger political force as an interview this week with party leader and parliamentary candidate Caroline Lucas makes abundantly clear.

I have another topical reason for returning to this theme.

Four years ago, a week after a massive radiation leak, I linked to a report that the THORP was expected to soon shut forever.

Well it didn't, but it might now because it has major problems.

The company that runs the Thorp nuclear reprocessing plant admitted that it may have to close for a number of years owing to a series of technical problems.

The huge £1.8bn plant at Sellafield imports spent nuclear fuel from around the world and returns it to countries as new reactor fuel. But a series of catastrophic technical failures with associated equipment means Thorp could be mothballed at a cost of millions of pounds.

Under strict orders from the government's safety watchdog, the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, the plant's operators, Sellafield Ltd, is expected to have little option but to mothball the reprocessing plant for at least four years.

Closure of Thorp for any length of time could cost the company and government hundreds of millions of pounds and embarrass the resurgent nuclear industry, which is embarking on an ambitious programme of new reactors for Britain. Thorp is contracted to reprocess more than 700 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel, most of it for Germany, which could sue if Sella­field does not return it on time.

Construction of Thorp began in the 1970s and was completed in 1994. The £1.8bn plant went into operation in 1997 with the assurance from its then owners, British Nuclear Fuels Ltd, that it would reprocess 7,000 tonnes of spent fuel in its first 10 years of operation, two-thirds of the business coming from abroad.

To date, Thorp has completed about 6,000 tonnes of its initial order book and is now, largely as a result of the broken evaporators, limited to processing 200 tonnes a year – about a sixth of its original design capacity.

Why is there never any good news from the nuclear industry?
*Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant
Monday, May 18, 2009
  Presidential Presentations

Returning home just before midnight from the nice evening in the magnificent Gedung Kesenian last Rriday evening, John and I got caught in the mayhem outside Megawati's residence, which is where we learned that after extensive negotiations, probably over which party will cough up the cost of bribing the electorate campaigning for the Presidential election on July 8th, and alliance has been forged between her party, PDI-P, and Gerinda of non-human rights activist Lieut-Gen.(ret) Prabowo.

We already knew the other two pairings of incumbent President SBY and the now-resigned Governor of Bank Indonesia Boediono, and incumbent Vice President and businessman's friend Jusuf Kalla of Golkar and the other noted non-human rights activist Gen.(ret) Wiranto who, just as Prabowo did, set up his own party, Hanura.

If no pair gets 50+% of the vote, there will be a runoff in early September, something I hope we will be spared.

If allegiance to a political party is important, then it looks as if SBY-Boediono (Y-B) are a certainty as they can muster the support of 22 (of 38) other parties. Among the nine who captured seats in the House of Representatives, those in their coalition include SBY's Partai Demokrat (PD) with 21,703,137 votes, the Islamic parties of Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS) with 8,206,955, Partai Amanat Nasional (PAN) with 6,254,.580, Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (PKB) with 5,146,122 and Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (PPP) 5,533,.214. That's 46,844,008 of the 85,051,132 votes cast, or c.55%.

Then there's the support of the 17 other parties who didn't pass the 2.5% threshold to gain seats in the national legislature but may well be represented at regional and local levels. However, if we give them a generous average allocation of 1% of the votes cast, then the other pairings look to be no-hopers, but at least their candidacies are good for Indonesia's embryonic democracy. There are also a number of other parties, such as Papua's Barisan Indonesia (Barindo), which were ruled ineligible to put forward electoral candidates yet have come out in support of SBY.

Kalla's Partai Golongan Karya (Golkar) mustered 15,037,757 votes and Wiranto's Partai Hati Nurani Rakyat (Hanura) 3,922,870 for a combined percentage of 22.3.

Megawati's Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan (PDI-P) managed 14,000,091 and Prabowo's Partai Gerakan Indonesia Raya (Gerinda), which he founded just last year, managed an astonishing 4,646,406 on the back of an intensive, extensive and expensive TV campaign. Their combined percentage is 21.9.

I can't see either of these pairings making a serious inroad into SBY's instant re-election. Apart from his popularity among the masses, especially now he has the notional support of the Islamic groupings, one has to consider the shortcomings of the others.

Kalla is the only candidate from a different ethnic background, South Sulawesi, and although Megawati played to the Balinese because her father, first President Soekarno, once had a Balinese wife, her mother came from Bengkulu in South Sumatra.

It was eleven years ago this month that Suharto's then son-in-law Prabowo was responsible for the shootings of university students here in Jakarta and the disappearances of many more. Wiranto was head of the army at that time and the following year as mayhem ensued in East Timor in the wake of their voting for independence..The UN has accused him of crimes against humanity. New voters may have little recollection of that time, but their parents, and especially the Chinese Indonesian group will not forget in a hurry.

All six are now awaiting the results of lengthy medical examinations, which in Megawati's case meant abstinence from sex for ten days. This may not have been problematic as her husband and the chief patron of her party, PDI-P, Taufik Kiemas is currently recovering from another heart attack.

Once they've been deemed fit to serve, albeit only in the physical sense, they'll be hitting the campaign trail, so a quick examination of their lies promises is in order.

These are their economic policies in brief.

1. Accountable governance, including no bribery and no conflict of interest between family businesses and public functions.
2. State intervention in the economy if necessary.
3. Reform of the bureaucracy.
4. Prioritising the purchase of local goods.

1. 5% average annual economic growth during the 5-year presidency.
2. National security and stability guarantees to boost investments.
3. Empowerment of small and medium businesses.
4. Prioritising the purchase of local goods.

1. 10% average annual economic growth during the 5-year presidency.
2. Popular economic policies.
3. Abolish overseas loans.
4. Priority for domestic possession of natural resources including mining, oil and gas.
5. Empowerment of traditional markets, farmers and fishermen.

Regular readers of Jakartass, and others who click this link, know where my support lies. Where does yours?


4:30 pm |
Sunday, May 17, 2009
  Man You and Me

I remain a loyal supporter of Charlton Athletic because that was my teenage proving ground, my Saturday away from home.

I also have a fondness for Manchester United because I am of the generation which was alive when the Busby Babes, the team Matt Busby had built from the club's successful youth policy, were wiped out in what is known as the Munich Air Disaster on February 6th 1958 when they were on the verge of greatness.

It could be said that the club has capitalised on the nation's grief ever since in that few would begrudge them later success, especially as one of the surviving Babes, (Sir) Bobby Charlton, who went on to be part of England's World Cup winning team in 1966, has remained steadfastly loyal to the club ever since.

However, it must be said that although the club remains part of their local community with the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville being 'products' of their youth scheme, the fan base has been increased exponentially with the injection of capital from investors, much of it unsecured*. When the American Glazer family obtained overall control in May 2005, many disgruntled supporters set up F.C. United of Manchester, which is now the hundredth best supported football club in Britain.

With its own TV station, fan clubs throughout the world and a chain of Man United Café Bars throughout Asia, including one in Jakarta, Manchester United are now a multi-national brand. Perhaps more importantly, they remain one of the most successful and most entertaining football clubs around.

Although I have only met one 'genuine' Man Yoo supporter here - hi to Mark in Bali - Indonesia supposedly has a fan base of 28 million, the club's second-largest fan base in the world, with at least two flash-ridden sites, this one and this one.

This is presumably why United will arrive in Jakarta on July 18 and play a friendly match against a select team at Bung Karno Stadium, Senayan on July 20. The Indonesian team will group 22 players publicly selected by text messaging out of the roughly 480 playing in the Indonesian Super League.

But these had better be quick if they want a ticket. There may be one or two left of the 72,800 tickets on sale, although few can afford them.
VVIP: Rp.3,500,000 (c.$300)
VIP West: Rp.1,000,000
VIP East: Rp.1,000,000
Category I: Rp.400.000
Category II: Rp.250.000
Category III: Rp.100.000
(Very Very Important People)

In terms of the local cost of living, this is equivalent to the ticket prices for the Champions League Final 2009 between Man Yoo and Barcelona on Wednesday, 27 May 2009 which are c.$580 - c.$2,000.

This being Indonesia, the Culture and Tourism Ministry figures that they could capitalise on the visit and are seeking to have their Visit Indonesia Year - 2009 logo on the Man Yoo shirts during its tour, which also includes China, South Korea and Malaysia.

Last Wednesday, Sapta Nirwandar, the ministry's director general for marketing, said the strategy could lure foreign tourists into Indonesia, and it was estimated it might attract up to 300,000 visitors.

However, Man Yoo being Man Yoo, "The club has asked for Rp.496 billion (US$46.3 million) for the sponsorship. It's way too expensive. We are still negotiating it with the club management."

According to Sapta, the ministry only has a Rp.289 billion promotion budget allocated for this year to help attract 6.5 million tourist arrivals.

I do know that the Jakarta match will be televised and broadcast abroad, but I'm not sure that it will be here. After all, apart from the FA Cup, which, having lost to unfancied Everton in the semi-final Man Yoo will not be a part of this year, few get to see English Premiership football on Indonesian TV.

One must hope that Indonesia's football fans won't go crazy if they haven't got a ticket and can't get to see their idols. But it has happened before.
*Manyoo’s debts at the end of last year were £667m (c.$1.2 billion) and these supporters are certainly not happy.


8:00 am |
Saturday, May 16, 2009
  $, £, €, ¥, and Rp. - Where’s the Difference?

Hillary has the back-room thing - you give me this, I'll give you that.
Kathleen Turner on her friend Hillary Clinton.

SBY's choice of Boediono, currently governor of Bank Indonesia, is a good one. Recognised as a Mr. Clean, he'd probably prefer to return to his former life on campus as an academic. However, he has cleaned up the corruption within BI, and as the previous Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, a position he took over from the notorious and ministerially incompetent businessman Achmad Bakrie, he began to reform the country's financial infrastructure. This vital mission has been ably continued by Sri Mulyani Indrawati who fired or reassigned officials within the tax and customs departments whilst awarding proper salary scales in the not yet fully realised hope that corruption would be 'unnecessary' if these 'public servants' had a living wage which does not need extra-legal supplementing.

It's virtually a given that SBY will win the presidential election on July 8th by a very wide margin, so the future for Indonesia in continuing reformasi, especially of the multifarious legislatures and bureaucracies, is potentially bright.

This can only benefit electors and the electorally disenfranchised, of which I am but one, alike.

Of course, the system of 'donations' being given to candidates in return for future favours is not unusual.

Pork barrel politics has long been rife, especially in the USA.

You can download a .pdf file a 'working paper' from the National Bureau of Economic Research entitled Party Discipline and Pork Barrel Politics here. However, it does seem to be hard going.

This is the abstract:

Polities differ in the extent to which political parties can pre-commit to carry out promised policy actions if they take power. Commitment problems may arise due to a divergence between the ex ante incentives facing national parties that seek to capture control of the legislature and the ex post incentives facing individual legislators, whose interests may be more parochial. We study how differences in “party discipline” shape fiscal policy choices. In particular, we examine the determinants of national spending on local public goods in a three-stage game of campaign rhetoric, voting, and legislative decision-making. We find that the rhetoric and reality of pork-barrel spending, and also the efficiency of the spending regime, bear a non-monotonic relationship to the degree of party discipline.

Like me, you'd probably be better off reading this wiki page.

What has provoked this post is that parliamentary political parties in my home country, Britain, are now being riven by disclosures of politicians, both senior and junior, soliciting money to amend laws and making dishonest claims for expenses.

As moral righteousness takes hold there, it's worth bearing in mind that political corruption is endemic in many, if not all, countries and always has been. That two peers, non-elected members of the upper house, the House of Lords, have been suspended - the first since 1642 - demonstrates how seriously corruption is viewed in the UK.

Several legislators have made false housing claims and others have claimed for such trivial household expenditure as (pornographic) video rentals and manure.

As this editorial makes clear, for too long legislators have been abetted by the lax supervision of regulators, bureaucrats in other words.

Such is the public furore that the last time I checked the Guardian had 572 pages about MPs' expenses, which can be accessed here.

Indonesia doesn't have a 700 year tradition of parliamentary corruption to overcome, so let's hope that SBY and Boediono fulfil their promise to institutionalise the notion of service that we expect from our 'public servants' who are, or should be, funded by taxation.

Two wrongs don't make it right, so I look forward to local media and the Indonesia Corruption Commission (KPK) continuing to right the wrongs. And perhaps ripped off citizens ought to express their anger as well.


8:00 am |
Thursday, May 14, 2009
  More Jazz

It's some weekend ahead for Jakarta's jazz fans.

Tonight (Thursday) there's a two hour free gig by two of Indonesia's top guitarists, the ubiquitous Tohpati and Dewa Budjana. It's at the porch of Bentara Budaya, 17 Jalan Palmerah Selatan, Gelora, starting at 7.30pm.

I'd never heard of it but, hey, this description is enticing.

Gramedia publishing group shifted this spectacular royalty house from Kudus, Central Java, and in 1982 converted it into a cultural center. The art collection within showcases Balinese and modern paintings, ceramics, statues, sculptures and antique furniture. The traditional wooden structure, one of two remaining well-preserved Kudus houses, is in itself an excellent work of art. Purchased from the Furqon family, it was constructed in the early 20th century and is divided into three sections: Jogo Satra (guest chamber), Gedongan (sacred family chamber, in which treasures are placed) and Pawon (kitchen, sitting room and sleeping chamber). Admission is free.

In a forthcoming interview on Jazzuality.com, Leonardo Pavkovic of MoonJune Records in New York has the following to say of Tohpati.

He is an outstanding guitarist who is still to give his best. Soundwise he is now more on his own than any other Indonesian guitarist I’ve heard so far, and I would like to hear him soon with a solo album that caters to a totally different crowd from the one he normally caters to.

In Culture Shock-Jakarta, he said of Dewa that he is an amazing guitarist who made a great record featuring Dave Carpenter and Peter Erskine (drummer with Weather Report). The music was played and performed brilliantly, with great compositions, but the sound is a bit too 'American'. Too polite. I wish he could do more 'unpolite' music, but he has a great career with Gigi and makes money.

Fans of the duo are in for a treat and will get there early as space is limited.

Tomorrow, Riza Arshad, keyboardist and leader of simakDialog, is co-hosting a gig with Dewa, Sandy Winarta (drums) and Bintang Indrianto (bass) at Gedung Kesenian in Pasar Baru. This starts at 8pm and tickets on the door are just Rp.50,000 and Rp.75,000.

According to an advertorial in the Post, their music will be "fusion with a semi-fuzzy theme of crossover jazz", whatever that is.

Of Riza, Leonardo, who is releasing simakDialog's latest album Demi Masa next month, says that he is definitely the greatest musician I have discovered in Indonesia and I know the best of him is still to come. He's an amazing pianist with a great touch and ECM sensibility.

If you're a night owl, you might want to stay on for an 'after concert special' at 11pm with the Barry Likumahuwa Project of whom I know nothing.

Anyway, I expect I'll already be wending my way home.


6:00 am |
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
  It Figures - Or Does It?

At last we have the 'final' results of the recent election for the national legislature.

However, the Jakarta Post in an editorial describes it as a 'fiasco', which they take to mean "an ambitious project that ends in failure" (fr. Webster's). Reading it puts me in mind of the original meaning which, according to World Wide Words, apparently comes from the Italian word - a wine glass.

Perhaps farrago would be a better choice, at least for describing their take on the results - it's a lot of noise and argument about nothing very much.

Basically, nine political parties in all will take up the 560 seats at the House of Representatives while 29 others were eliminated. As expected, SBY's Partai Demokrat (PD) topped the poll, gaining 148 seats, Kalla's Golkar is 2nd with 108 and Megawati's PDI-P will have 93. The Election Commission has published the results for the 'winning' parties here (.pdf file).

According to the Post, the only surprise - shocking is more apt - to come out of the late Saturday night announcement was that 104 million valid votes were presented. Considering that 171 million people were registered, the valid votes counted for only 61 percent of voters.

Well, that's a lot more than several parliamentary elections in other countries. Check stats for many, if not all, countries here.

With three major parties in contention, the voting turnout in the last two general elections in the UK in 2001 and 2005 was 59.4% and 61.4% respectively.

There is a general election currently taking place in India, deemed the world's largest democracy. It held the third phase of its general elections last Thursday in a relatively peaceful atmosphere with an estimated 50% turnout, lower than that in the previous two phases of polling.

Several reasons, which may be familiar to Indonesian electors, are given in this blog.

- Peoples don't want to vote for corrupt/criminals

- Heat Wave (Rising temperature) and dusty warm air waves

- Many of us think it is not important and doesn't matter if my one vote is not cast (Every vote is important)

- Names shifted to some other places due to changes in electoral list and voter is unable to find where to vote?

- Tactics (paying money, distributing alcohol, etc) by political parties to stop particular type of voters from casting vote when they are sure that these vote will goes to their opponent

Back to the Post: .... more than 19 million votes, or 18 percent of the total, were “wasted” because they went to the 29 parties that failed to make it to the House.

Also, excluded from this figure are people who could not vote because they were not on the voter list. We will never know the exact number of disenfranchised voters, needless to say, the number was far too high.

Effectively, the new House will only enjoy the support of less than 43 percent of the voters. Talk about legitimacy.

Ok, I will. This has been a legitimate election, albeit with logistical problems which could have been - should have been - foreseen by all participating parties who were given every opportunity to ensure that all eligible citizens were registered as electors.

Assuming the Post has not misquoted him, last Friday, Commissioner Yoseph Adi Prasetyo of the National Commission on Human Rights is now arguing that the state has ignored citizens' rights.

He said for sure many of about 50 million mentally ill people lost their right to vote.

“Who hold the right to determine whether they are eligible to vote or not? The polls officials? The district officials? They neither have the capabilities nor consult with health experts.”

Eh? 50 million? How does he come up with a figure which constitutes 20% of the population - including those too young to vote?


Next time, in 2014, there will be far fewer parties and there will have been a national census which should better guarantee fewer disenfranchised folk.

And hopefully the country's citizens will be that much saner.


5:30 am |
Sunday, May 10, 2009

We had to get up early this morning, early for a Sunday that is.

There have been a few cases of dengue fever in our area, so our area community heads put their heads together and organised a fumigation.

This involves hiring a guy using a portable two-stroke engine to pump noxious exhaust fumes through our houses and up and down the drainage ditches that line our roads and alleys. We rarely hear the high pitched whine of an onomatapoeic nyaaaamuk (mosquito) in Jakartass Towers but we go along with this annual procedure, taking our mugs of coffee, PSPs, whatever, into the street and waiting for nearly an hour before we can breathe safely indoors.

The results are tangible in that we then have to spend an hour or so sweeping up countless cockroaches which crawl out from dark places and forlornly try to fly off or spin around on their backs. Thankfully, knowing we are greatly outnumbered, we don't feel any remorse at their demise.

I use these periods of being busy doing nothing to contemplate about this and that.

Today I can't resist comparing our domestic issue with what promises to be as great a scandal in high places as the tragic killing of Munir.

Antasari Azhar, the chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), has been arrested on a charge of masterminding the murder of his golf buddy, businessman Nasruddin Zulkarnaen. He was shot twice in the head by a man on a Yamaha Scorpio motorcycle on 14th March 2009, as he was leaving the Modernland golf course, Tangerang, in his car.

For fuller details of this case and comments, read Indonesian Matters, but here are a few details I've freely lifted.

- The execution of the, erm, execution has resulted in the arrest of nine men:
# Antasari the alleged mastermind.
# Sigid Haryo Wibisono, a Commissioner of PT Pers Indonesia Merdeka (PIM), ex-Golkar official but now with Gus Dur's PKB and owner of Harian Merdeka, provided the funding.
# Williardi Wizard alias Wizar, ex Chief of South Jakarta Police, facilitator and gave kill order to Edo.
# Jerry Hermawan, contact between Edo and Wiliardi.
# Eduardus Ndopo alias Edo.
# Fransiskus Tadon Keran alias AMSI, security guard, scoped out the area.
# Hendrikus Kia Walen alias Hendrik, security guard, gave final order to Fransiskus to carry out the killing.
# Heri Santosa, unemployed, drove the motorbike.
# Daniel Daen, a security guard, the shooter.

The last two, the hired underlings, soon gave themselves up to police, apparently out of fear for their own lives. The mens’ lawyers claim they carried out the act because they were persuaded to view Zulkarnaen as an enemy of the state, because he was said to be plotting to ruin the 2009 national elections.

That last reason is flimsy to to say the least. It would also seem to be beyond comprehension that a senior policeman and a prominent media mogul would get involved in an affaire de coeur.

- It is alleged, by the police, that Antasari had an affair with a golf caddy, a 22 year old university student, Rani Julianti, who worked part time at the Modernland golf course, where both Nasrudin and Antasari played. She became Nasrudin's 3rd wife and Nasruddin supposedly threatened to expose Antasari's affair with Rani.

She hasn't been quoted and is apparently in hiding under 'police protection'.

- As head of the KPK, Antasari has authorised the prosecution of a number of prominent bankers, politicians and businessmen, including the father-in-law of one of SBY's sons. Inevitably, he has made a few enemies in certain circles of power.

- His defenders say that he is being framed, probably by sources in the Attorney General’s office, because Antasari led several aggressive investigations into corruption at the AGO. Interestingly, it was the AG's office which named Antasari as a suspect some days before the police issued their story of the alleged affair.

One may wonder how, if at all, the Attorney General, Hendarman Supanji, was kept out of the loop given that he, like Antasari, has a relatively 'clean' reputation. On being appointed by SBY, he is quoted as saying that four out of five prosecutors in Indonesia were open to corruption. He vowed to root out the wrongdoers, saying that his wide-ranging campaign against corruption would target state prosecutor's offices because they had a history of graft.reportedly taking bribes from some suspects in return for compiling weak criminal cases against them or recommending lenient punishment once cases reach court.

"I see that law enforcement can only succeed if the law enforcers themselves are clean."

Street gossip, which I can't verify, is that Antasari's wife is the sister of the wife of Abdul Hakim Ritonga, the deputy attorney-general on general crimes. Assuming that both Supanji and Ritonga would likely turn a blind eye to an alleged infidelity within the family, then if officials of the AG's office are involved, there is a cabal within operating independently.

For now, it would seem that the most probable motivation is that an ongoing case brought by the KPK is threatening to expose a number of businessmen and government officials.

It was reported that on Friday, Antasari's wife, Ida Laksmiwati, submitted documents on the PT Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia (RNI) corruption case to the Metro Police investigators. These documents were reportedly given to Antasari by Nasrudin Zulkarnaen.

Nasruddin was the director of the company PT Putra Rajawali Banjaran (PRB), a pharmaceutical company and subsidiary of the state owned PT Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia (RNI).

On March 30th the trial began of Ranendra Dangin, the former finance director of RNI, for allegedly embezzling 45 billion rupiah from the sugar import monopoly controlled by RNI and the National Logistics Agency (Bulog).

Zulkarnaen was expected to be called to give evidence against Ranendra.

Public sentiment is on the side of Antasari and among those who have expressed support are many lawyers acting in a pro bono capacity, senior journalists - and Nasrudin Zulkarnaen's brother.

I've spent a long time putting this post together, so now count Jakartass among their number.

I really don't like cockroaches.



3:00 pm |
Saturday, May 09, 2009
  Here and There

I regularly collect bits of info and news scraps which I don't feel able to turn into a full post, let alone a rant.

Here's my latest list.


1. For the past four years, Indonesia Anonymus have been demonstrating a keen social awareness and concern in their blog and now they've published a book, Kopi Merah Putih - non-Indonesian speakers can make a visual translation to the left - which is available through the major local media group Gramedia, both online and in store.

Apa isi buku ini?

Buku ini berisi obrolan dengan beragam topik: dari ngobrol soal listrik sampai soal pendidikan. Dari soal subsidi sampai soal bajaj. Buku ini juga ngobrol tentang pisang, toko kecil, HIV/AIDS, kartu kredit, pedagang asongan, sampai sinetron. Banyak topik yang serius (tapi kami sajikan secara ringan agar enak dibaca), ada juga topik bercanda. Namanya juga ngobrol.

In keeping with this blog's tradition of being non-profit, net income from the book's royalty (if it sells, that is!) will be directed to charitable activities in education.

2. Son No.1, who has a travel company which sends a few hundred tourists to Indonesia each year, sent me the link to the Indonesian Ecotourism Center.

Ecotourism is responsible travel to protected natural areas, as well as to unprotected natural areas, which conserves the natural & cultural environment and improves the welfare of local people.

3. Indonesian 'hobbits' were distinct human species, say researchers

Controversy has been rife ever since the discovery of the species on the Indonesian island of Flores, formally named Homo floresiensis, was announced in 2004. The single skull was unusually small, indicating its brain was no bigger than a chimpanzee's.

2004 was the year of the last election. This may prove that the 'hobbits' evolved into politicians.


4. Arnold Schwarzenegger is quoted as saying that he thinks "gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman."

As Governor of the State of California, he has now said that maybe the time is right to consider the legalisation of marijuana. He was a noted toker in years gone by - unlike Bill Clinton, he acknowledged inhaling - and spoke in response to a new public opinion poll showing that 56% of registered voters in California favour legalising and taxing marijuana, in part to help the state out of the worst budget crisis in its history.

A legalisation bill has recently introduced in the state assembly by a San Francisco liberal Democrat called Tom Ammiano.

"I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues in the effort to be the first state in the nation to enact commonsense policy on marijuana," an elated Ammiano said.

His proposed system of legalising and taxing marijuana would raise an estimated $1.3bn a year in tax revenue alone, according to state legislative analysts. The savings in law enforcement and incarceration costs could be many billions more.

Makes sense to me. After all, tobacco is heavily taxed, yet far worse, lethal in fact, in terms of human cost.

5. My ex-stepson, Morgan, is making a career as an artist, with a strong community focus working with elementary school students.

6. My father, Ron 'Eastbournass', celebrates his 90th birthday tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Dad.


8:00 am |
Thursday, May 07, 2009

Yes and no
Give and take
Rich and poor
Mine and yours
Black and white
Right and wrong

Jakartans are recommended to visit the exhibition of paintings and lithographs of Ken Pattern, a Canadian artist resident in Jakarta for almost as long as Jakartass.

His Annual Charity Exhibition is at the Gran Melia Hotel in Jl. Rasuna Said, from 11am to 8pm daily until May 25th.

I've posted the above illustration without his permission, such are the resources of the internet. That said, his concern for social issues, particularly through the current rape of the environment, offer us a mirror.

What are we doing?

You can protest the use of Malaysian tax dollars, along with subsidies from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, to colonize Earth's largest rainforest, the Amazonian, on the other side of the world.

FELDA is a Malaysian government agency that is accountable to the Prime Minister's Department. Recently Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Felda Global Ventures Brazil Sdn Bhd would invest some RM25mil (US$7.12mil) for a 70% stake in the project near the Amazon River in Brazil, planting between 3,000 ha and 5,000 ha every year. It is estimated that 2.3 million square kilometers of the Brazilian Amazon are suitable for growing oil palm. FELDA also has some 105,000 ha of oil palm plantation ventures at the expense of primary rainforests in Papua New Guinea and at least 45,000 ha in Indonesia.

We are seeing wildlife being rapidly depleted; here the very existence of orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos is at risk through the plundering of forests for immediate greed. Our health is put at risk through the notion that we need more consumerables, especially private transport. Homes are destroyed as deforested mountains collapse and folk, poor in terms of material possessions, are displaced, often violently.

In my last post, about Indonesia's Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, I suggested that she has presidential potential. However, I stated that I'm not an advocate of market forces.

By this, without questioning her probity, I mean that Sri as an economist is what is known as a neo-liberal.

Margaret Thatcher, who was a (the?) prime mover of global neo-liberalism, once said in a speech, "It is our job to glory in inequality and see that talents and abilities are given vent and expression for the benefit of us all."

In other words, don't worry about those who might be left behind in the competitive struggle. People are unequal by nature, but this is good because the contributions of the well-born, the best-educated, the toughest, will eventually benefit everyone. Nothing in particular is owed to the weak, the poorly educated, what happens to them is their own fault, never the fault of society.

Apart perhaps from North Korea, which goes it's own weird way, Thatcherism has permeated the entire planet with institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funding mega-capital projects without considering local conditions.

On Tuesday, the ADB ended its 42nd annual meeting in Bali by agreeing to triple its capital from US$165 billion, mainly to cushion the impact of the global financial crisis which, of course, it was partly responsible for creating..

NGOs say it was "a cynical attempt by the ADB to use the current crisis to re-promote discredited large-scale infrastructure-biased development."

Joanna Levitt of the International Accountability Project said, "Throwing money indiscriminately will solve neither the financial nor climate crises. What the region needs are enduring solutions in which the poor and ecosystems are at the centre."

Madame Mulyani, who was formerly the IMF's executive director for East Asia and Pacific, is an executive director of the ADB.

There's good and bad in all of us.
XTC - The Smartest Monkeys

The evidence is all around
Our brains are bigger
This we've found
The smartest monkeys

Well, man discovered the park bench can make a transition
And the rubbish tip makes a valid form of nutrition.

With discoveries like these
Civilisation agrees
To give itself a pat on the back
We're the smartest monkeys
The evolution's plain to see
We're the dominant of the species


2:30 pm |
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
  Sri Mulyani for Vice President?

SBY is a virtual shoe in to be re-elected as Indonesia's President on July 8th.

His current Vice President, Jusuf Kalla has, to general derision, announced his candidacy. His choice of Gen.(ret) Wiranto as VP running mate is surprising given that Wiranto was Golkar's presidential candidate in 2004, and came in a poor third. That the nomination of this pairing has come from the Golkar leadership, rather than the lower echelons, is threatening to tear apart Suharto's former ruling élite 'functional grouping'. Their regional groups may even nominate another pairing of, say Akbar Tanjung, Kalla's predecessor as Golkar chairman, and Pak An Other.

And that's no bad thing. For all their posturing, the electorate has clearly spoken: they want a more complete break from the past excesses of the Suharto era which Golkar remains closely identified with.

The same goes for Megawati Soekarnoputri who is also tainted for having failed to adopt reformasi when she was SBY's predecessor and for continuing to rely on her family name as a vote catcher. That she could pick Gen.(ret) Prabowo, who is unlikely to be given a visa to the USA because of his past sins as an active anti-human rights activist, is not going to go down well either, except among a minority who've been swayed by his expensive electoral campign which ironically suggests that he is a reformed character and the champion of the poor.

Prabowo's Theme Song

Time is moving on
You and me
You and me
Suffering is gone
You are free
You are free

I'm no longer who I was
No longer who you thought I was
I know I let you down
Those days are over now

I'm not afraid of nothing
I'm not afraid of anyone
I'm not afraid of losing myself
There ain't no self to lose
I'm not afraid

When you feel you're strong
You are free
You are free
Adapted fr.Joseph Arthur - You Are Free fr. Nuclear Daydream (2006)

Well, that's enough about the no hopers.

What the Indonesian public wants to know is who will replace Kalla as VP. The criteria are simple: SBY wants somebody who would be easy to get along with and would support his agenda and the public want somebody relatively untainted by links to the Suharto era, someone who is seen to be clean and honest, and can relate to public aspirations, which are predominantly to do with economic security.

Partai Demokrat has given SBY freedom to choose his running mate, but, as can be expected, there is much speculation about suitable choices.

The one shining light in SBY's administration has been Sri Mulyani Indrawati, initially as Minister of Finance and latterly as (Acting) Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy.

She brings to her post an impressive background. She is a post-graduate of U.C. Berkeley, which is a reminder of the 'Berkeley mafia', a group of neo-liberal, US educated economists who Suharto recruited early on to put to rights the Indonesian economy which Soekarno had left in tatters.

Before pursuing a political career, which began when she was short-lived President Gus Dur's economic adviser, 'Ani' was a commissioner for PT Unilever and in 2001-2, she was the independent commissioner at listed automotive giant PT Astra International Tbk., both major conglomerates in Indonesia. Suharto's Cendana Clan had forcibly taken control of the well-managed holding company PT Astra International from from the Soeryadjaja family in early 1994, and his golfing buddy, Bob Hasan, later imprisoned for all kinds of financial malfeasance, was the director, thus enabling the export of Land Rovers to the military dictatorship (SLORC) in Burma.

Following her stint the company is now respected, and she then went off to the USA to become the International Monetary Fund's executive director for East Asia and Pacific, until she was summoned by SBY to join his government as Minister for Development Planning.

Amid the tragedy of the Aceh Tsunami, she saw the opportunity to rebuild not only infrastructure but institutions. Her ally, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, another on Jakarta's short list of notoriously clean ministers, was put in charge of Aceh reconstruction, and revolutionised the system by appointing a small staff, paying them something like private sector wages, and insisting that all accounts must go to the Finance Ministry to reduce the scope for corruption.

Soon Sri Mulyani was Finance Minister, tackling tax reform, introducing a new foreign investment law, reforming state finances to make them more transparent, reducing fuel subsidies - and tackling corruption. For two years in a row she has been named Finance Minister of the Year by specialist magazines: Euromoney (2006) and The Banker (2007).

When heads rolled recently at Bank Indonesia - after the revelation that it had paid $3.7 million of state funds in 2003-04 in bribes to MPs to pass new banking laws - chief economics minister Boediono took charge of the central bank, and Sri Mulyani took on his job as well as her own.

For the past four years, Sri Mulyani has gained much kudos for her handling of the economy and for her attempts at reforming the bureaucracy.

Mulyani has helped dismantle the financial architecture of the crony capitalism built by strongman Suharto before his 32-year reign ended in 1998. She has pressed hard to slash debt, both public and private; pushed through a rollback of budget-busting fuel subsidies; and overseen sweeping reforms of the customs and tax authorities - positioning Indonesia to post the world's best (or at least the least bad) emerging-market growth story in 2009.

Jakartass is not an advocate of market forces, which are inherently unfair. However, for her seemingly lone efforts to reform corrupt bureaucracies she desrves the utmost praise. Also, she is not someone to kowtow to well-connected business interests (including Jusuf Kalla).

So Sri Mulyani is my pick to be groomed as SBY's successor as president. Whether she should become his next VP is a matter of conjecture. If she is given the major task of heading up a task force committed to bureaucratic reform then I can't think of anyone better.

However, in the words of frequent commentator Miko, if SBY wants some nice harmless neutral guy for VP who can do the necessaries when Prince Charles comes to visit, then Sri should be allowed to get on with her much more important work.


4:00 pm |
Sunday, May 03, 2009
  Hidung Merah Circus Performance Debut

I have often written about the importance of play and the current lack of opportunities. Through the exploration of one's environment we learn about our place in it and our physical capabilities. Play is important as a social enabler; it teaches us about both competition and co-operation. It also, through the fantasy factor, stretches our imaginations.

The following is a selection of a few of my past (and consistently present) thoughts.

Strolling back home from the local mini-mart with Our Kid yesterday, we passed the last remaining patch of empty space. He expressed the hope that it wouldn’t be built on; where can kids play, he asked, in the road?

We don’t live on a main road, and our back street isn’t wide enough for double-parking yet few are the motorists who drive gently with regard for residents and pedestrians. We may have to build a polisi tidur (sleeping policeman) to slow things down so our kids can play street football or badminton. As it is, I rarely see games of tag (chase) or similar street games.

(Update: The plot has been built on and we now have a polisi tidur in front of our house.).

..... take a look at the upside-down world of co-operative games.

Almost all children's games - the games we teach children and the games children invent - have a common factor. They are preparations for an adult world. More often than not this adult world is based on competition

The electorate is treated like a kindergarten class, and this is very strange because children in kindergarten classes are treated like high school students.

Here in Indonesia global trends in schooling are being aped with minimal thought for the conditions and consequences. Schooling is becoming standardised and robotised with linear, multi-choice tests. Few, if any, allowances are made for different rates of physical and emotional development among children. Test this, test that, at this age and that.

Play is gradually disappearing from kindergartens in order to ensure that children can read, write and do complicated algebraic equations before they 'graduate'. From as young as two, when Indonesian kids can be enrolled in mathematics and English classes, they are taught that competition is better than co-operation. There is minimal incentive for children to be creative in case they 'fall behind'.

(UK) News that play consultants are being introduced into British schools fills me with both a sense of sadness and nostalgia.

Seven out of 10 parents used to play chase when they were at school, but now fewer than two out of 10 children enjoy the game. Over half of all parents (53%) used to play hopscotch, but only one in 10 of their children manage it now.

(Politicians and bureaucrats) Get a life guys. Make a friend and go out and play, assuming you haven't built a shopping mall where a playground ought to be.

All the above is a preamble to an invitation extended by Dan Roberts who has been working with a range of children from homeless shelters and impoverished villages and teaching them circus skills.

I described his work earlier this year as one of the most crucial and beneficial kids' projects in Indonesia. It's fun, creative, imaginative, exciting and .... well, positive in all kinds of ways in the impoverished lives of many Indonesian children.

His blog documents the enthusiasm he has engendered among children most of us ignore.

This is his second visit to Indonesia and you can read about last year's here.

Next Saturday, May 9th, sees the debut public performance of Hidung Merah Circus Performance Troupe in Bekasi (a Jakarta dormitory town).

Come watch the amazing circus skills and hilarity of these hard working kids. The troupe is 30 kids, age 11-19 from a poor fishing village in Cilincing and a homeless shelter in Bekasi.

The show is free of charge. All you have to do to get into the show is to laugh a lot and give these kids thunderous applause.

You don't wanna miss it!

Date: Saturday, May 9, 2009
Time: 4:00pm - 7:00pm
Location: Yayasan KDM
Street: Kp Raden No. 29, RT 01/05
Town: Bekasi
Directions: 400 meters from RSIA Jatisampurna, Bekasi. From Toll JORR towards Jatiasih, exit at Jatiwarna. Turn right for 4km.

If these directions don't make sense.... Just call Dan: 0812 1929 0142. (Dan's email)

I hope to be there with Our Kid. How about you?
Dan has written to me:
If you don't/can't make it Saturday, we also have a show (the same group) on Sunday at 10am in Cilincing at the Fishing Village.

This is on the north coast, beyond Tanjung Priok which is accessible by the Busway. From there, take a taxi?


8:00 am |
Saturday, May 02, 2009
  May 2nd

Today is National Education Day.

Unfortunately the education system is geared towards the very few students who can win national and international science olympiads. Too many schools are dilapidated and that although school administrations are supposedly free to adopt teaching methodologies which allow students to experiment and to develop innate talents and skills, every student throughout the country has to take the same strictly knowledge based exams set by dumb central government bureaucrats.

Did you know that Einstein wasn't very successful at school?

He was also no great shakes as a mathematician, but he was creative and insightful, and saw a whole new way of thinking about gravity and the structure of space-time.

A vivid interest in things, and an active desire to understand more about them, is a major characteristic of intelligence. When this leads to great creativity and important discoveries, we call it genius.

Today in 1997 Paolo Freire, a Brazilian educator, died.

He was an advocate of popular education which may be defined as an educational technique designed to raise the consciousness of its participants and allow them to become more aware of how an individual's personal experiences are connected to larger societal problems.

(Is she crying because she failed her national exam or because she's just found out that Jusuf Kalla, who is not a friend of teachers, has chosen Gen.(ret) Wiranto, wanted by the UN for war crimes, as his vice presidential partner in the upcoming election?)


11:00 am |
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