Friday, October 30, 2009
  Religious Ties That Bind

Subscribers to the Jakarta Post receive a monthly colour magazine called the Weekender; mine generally arrives on a Tuesday or Thursday. Ignoring the lexical timewarps implicit in that sentence, apart from those pages which extol lifestyles way beyond the means of the scavengers who collect our waste paper for recycling, I read it from cover to cover.

Most of the articles are of general interest and sometimes coincide with people, issues and activities I've already written about. There are also a couple of letters which are generally full of praise, rather than enlightening and praiseworthy.

One of the latter sort, which I can't find online, raises a fundamental issue for those of us who have adopted an Indonesian lifestyle by marrying a local.

Nigh on 20 years ago I jumped through linguistic hoops as I 'converted' to Islam in order to legally marry 'Er Indoors. It was our understanding that folk of different religious faiths or, as in my case, a lack of belief in the people-designated rituals followed by the multifarious religions, could only enter into a legally binding marriage in Indonesia if they followed the same behavioural rules.

Under Suharto's 'guided democracy', based on his interpretation of Pancasila and backed up by various laws, just five religions were then acceptable, all of which (including Hinduism!) share a belief in one god - Allah be His name? Confucianism has now been added to the list.

According to the letter from Gita Darmawan, a legal counsel, according to Article 7 of the 1974 Marriage Law a marriage is valid if it is conducted in accordance with each religion and faith. It does not state that the couple must be of the same religion.

That each partner must have a religious belief is not mentioned in her letter, nor that religious affiliations are written on Indonesians' ID cards. There is as yet no right to not have such a belief. Thus Indonesian atheists continue to lack public acceptance. However, thanks to online social networks they are now able to peek out from their closets.

I fear they will have a long wait for public acceptance. Atheism is still equated with communism and deep communal scars, guilt even, remain from the pogrom of 65/66.

A major worry for some is that SBY's new cabinet indicates that creeping Islamisation is part of his agenda.

Several ministers in his recently announced cabinet have, in their previous public roles, indicated a blinkered sharia-type mindset. The new Home Affairs Minister, Gamawan Fauzi, for example, was the Governor of West Sumatra which during his just ended tenure was the first Province to enact sharia-type regulations. Thus the mayor of Bukittinggi cancelled the traditional New Year celebrations at the clock tower on the grounds that boys and girls might be observed kissing in public.

Then there's the chairman of the inaptly named Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Tifatul Sembiring, who has been appointed Communication and Information Minister. PKS controls the local government in the neighbouring township of Depok. Its mayor has banned the building of a church on the grounds that it would cause public disturbances, quite unlike the calls to prayer from mosques. More recently, he has ordered the closure of karaoke parlours. This was not because of the discordant sounds within but because, he no doubt says from personal observation, they are dens of prostitution.

In a supposedly pluralistic country in which each established religion has its synod or council to issue edicts to guide (control?) its adherents, there is surely no need for a Religious Affairs Ministry, especially one which condones polygamy. The new Minister is Suryadharma Ali, the chairman of the United Development Party (PPP), one of the three parties 'approved' by Suharto. Ali is best known for suggesting that the Islamic sect, Ahmadiyah, known for its peaceful ways rather than its extremism, be banned.

It's early days so we still live in hope that SBY will consolidate the perceived progress made since 97/98. In spite of, or perhaps due to, the machinations of the military in league with the political and business elites back then and since, reformasi has continued to be the rallying call of the rakyat (citizenry). Their continued participation in the democratic process which guarantees freedom of speech and the right to those rights laid down in the many United Nations Conventions which Indonesia is a signatory to is absolutely necessary .

God only knows whether SBY is on the right track because, sure as hell, it's hard to tell at the moment.


9:30 am |
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
  No Nobs, No Bananas = No Sense?

Dear Mariella

I am more interested in bees and reading about beekeeping than in having sex, and it is affecting my marriage. I have read a great deal of books on the subject and have yet to determine just why I am so fascinated by this most peculiar hobby – though I do quite enjoy watching beekeepers remove the honeycomb frame from an apiary, as I find it quite relaxing. It has got to the point where it is affecting my marriage, as my partner is entirely unsympathetic to what she describes as an "obsession". I tend to spend most evenings reading apiarist manuals and commenting on beekeeping forums on the net, to the detriment of our sex life. I am interested in sex, but at this point I am more interested in bees. Is this kind of relationship normal? How can I bring my partner round to enjoying my interest in beekeeping with me?

Her answer: I'm sure there is some psychiatric label for your condition, though whether it rates worse than being an overweight couch potato who can't get enough of the Olympics I'm not sure. Aren't you a bit embarrassed to be such a lightweight of the all-talk, no-action variety? What baffles me is how you can put so much effort and time into developing your expertise but never put any of it into practice. Without participating, you're engaged in a dysfunctional form of foreplay that guarantees frustration all round. Surfing internet pornography while leading a moribund sex life is the closest equivalent I can come up with.

My answer: Encourage her to take up ornithology so that together you'll know something about the birds and the bees.


Spotted in (in)aptly named Bangkok
BTW I don't think Anong is referring to the above!


9:30 pm |
  A Picture Tells You A Lot

Son No.1 sent me an email:

I had reason to be looking at Makassar Airport official website and came to the upcoming event 19 August 2009 - sadly I missed it. (Really?)

Was it advertising an upcoming plane crash?



5:30 am |
Monday, October 26, 2009
  Spouting Hot Air?

Now, it's just possible that you weren't aware that cars, buses and other vehicles with internal combustion engines tend to emit noxious exhaust fumes, but if you really didn't know that then you've never visited Jakarta.

Those of us who live in Jakarta breathe easier on Sundays and public holidays, because there are fewer cars. Sundays are the preferred option of Jakarta's Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD) to hold car-free days presumably because it's that much easier to divert traffic away from closed roads.

They certainly prove popular with residents along these streets.

The car-free event on Jl. Pemuda comprised cycling and walking activities, music and a bazaar, while children ran around playing soccer on the empty streets.

Mind you, I would have thought a park which is open all week long would prove a greater attraction, but I digress.

As for the beneficial reduction in air-borne pollutants, the BPLHD gave the following 'results' yesterday: the amount of dust particles had decreased by 34 percent, Carbon Monoxide (CO) by 68 percent, and Nitrogen Monoxide (NO) by 80 percent during the last car-free day (held a couple of weeks ago).

Wow, whoopie do. Don't you just love facts and figures?

And the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has actually praised City Hall for this?

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, here on behalf of Barack Obama for SBY's reinauguration, praised the Jakarta administration Wednesday for its environmental protection and green transportation programs. She said she was impressed by the way the city of Jakarta and Governor Fauzi Bowo dealt with economic growth without having to sacrifice environmental issues.

“Growth in the economy, for him to have investment in mass transit, car-free day, and further efforts to address air pollution, I think is quite laudable.”

Fauzi said he told Jackson during the meeting about various environmental problems facing the city, including air and water pollution, waste management problems in North Jakarta Bay and the rise in sea level which, according to the British Meteorological Office Hadley Centre (and Jakartass) is a doomsday scenario.

Fuzzy also said the city issued many regulations to protect the environment, but their implementation remained a problem.

And within that last bit lies the key - piecemeal implementation indicates indecision caused by ... 'political' considerations? brown envelopes? hidebound bureaucratic procedures and competence?

Take the matter of ensuring that from next month vehicles have to pass an annual emissions test verified by the display of a sticker.

Ridwan Panjaitan, head of the BPLHD's law enforcement unit, said a couple of weeks ago that the enforcement, stipulated in a 2005 bylaw on air pollution, had been delayed because the administration needed time to educate the public and prepare the garage and mechanics needed for the tests.

Four years?!?

He added there were 238 garage and 568 mechanics across the city certified to carry out the tests.

Rudy Iman, a service supervisor at a garage in Cilandak, South Jakarta, certified to hold emissions tests told the Post his garage did not have the stickers.

“We only have the emissions stickers from last year,” he said.

Rudy said he had ordered a batch of new stickers through the Jakarta Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD) and PT Global, the distributor, at the end of 2008.

“But we haven’t got them even now,” he said.

In addition, the Association of Auto Repair Shop Owners (Asbekindo) chairman Yayat Ruhiyat said garage owners would meet Oct. 29 over the plan.

“We haven’t been able to meet sooner because the information about the emissions test is so vague,” he said. “Plus, the printing cost for the stickers and cards is quite expensive, so the certified garages haven’t ordered a lot.”

Meanwhile, the BPLHD is planning to spend Rp.17 billion (US$1.8 million) on two air-quality monitoring stations next year since only two out of the five existing devices, previously donated by foreign donors, were working.

How much?!?

That amount of tax payers' money would buy loads of buses to replace the clapped out rust buckets which pass for public transport. As for measuring the air pollution, enough surveys have been done and articles written over the years for the talking to stop and action to begin.

If you enjoy kowtowing to American 'experts', Fuzzy, then do please get on with it.

And preferably before the city is totally submerged


6:00 pm |
Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yeah, I know. My heading should be 'Location, Location', because it's supposedly everything.

However, last Thursday, at a meeting in the very desirable pad occupied by H.E. Martin Hatfull, Our Man in Jakarta, the message was as in my title.

LOCATE is a computer data base in London which has been set up by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office in order to trace British citizens and (possibly) others entitled to the protection of the UK government. However, it is a voluntary scheme: Brits have to opt in. There was little discussion of transient visitors such as tourists and business folk on short-term visas. They can obviously register whilst still back in Blighty. However, the British Consulate here in Jakarta (with a sub-consulate in Bali) is anxious that Brits here use the service, and that was the focus of our Thursday morning meeting.

I was there as a local warden, one of a network of generally long-term residents who can be called upon in the event of a local emergency, of which there have been a few - such as the Bali and Jakarta bombs and the earthquakes in Sumatra and Java. Thankfully, my services have yet to be called upon, even though the recent hotel bombs were in the area adjacent to 'mine'.

I certainly had an interesting time being a Brit again and found all the consulate and embassy staff including H.E. and his wife to be very open to our views and pleasant to chat with. Living and working at street level in Jakarta, I am immersed in Indonesian life, yet I was happy to switch masks, to proudly proclaim my status as a Charlton supporter ~ thus demonstrating my true allegiance, 'Er Indoors notwithstanding.

However, and there's always this caveat, I do wonder how much in touch with local 'reality' H.M.'s government is.

For example, the consulate's duty officer is some unknown body in London who cuts out 'frivolous' enquiries, thus allowing the local staff some off-duty time rather than being on call 24/7. However, it is primarily a cost-saving measure. Brit's here may not have realised that our consulates are funded from our passport fees - currently £60 for a slim line 40 page version - and that the consulate is only open during working hours. Much as local banks are in fact.

Naturally, all embassies are the 'face' of the governments of their respective countries, promoting trade objectives and political alliances. I do wonder, however, why 'face' should take precedence over local objectives.

For example, we were told that it was felt that the Embassy did not react appropriately in the aftermath of the Bali bombs in 2002. I recall a meeting with the then-ambassador, the much-loved Richard Gozney, the day after he returned from the site. I don't think I've ever seen such a distressed visage, such a face haunted by what he had witnessed.

Again, criticisms were levied at the Embassy by their 'performance' during the 'week of living vicariously' in May '98 (see archives), yet I found that they offered sound advice. This was before the dawning of the age of internet here, one we're still stuck in seeing that in the past few days I have been unable to download more than 200 kbs at a time before losing the connection!

I have since got to know one of the volunteers at the Embassy back in May '98 very well, and I asked him later on Thursday if he had registered. Unlike me, he has long had supposed broadband, yet he found that the centralised LOCATE website gave him the runaraound.

And therein lies the problem with LOCATE. I failed to reregister 'Er Indoors or Our Kid as I couldn't stay online long enough. Others at the meeting echoed my comments; some wondered why our registration here was characterised as a 'trip', something I haven't been on since my hippie days way back when.

Having once had some forty or more folk registered in my warden's area, there are now just nine including me (but not my family). Two major reasons for everyone's diminishing returns, and I doubt that there are many fewer Brits here. One is that the UK is now one of the most surveilled countries in the world - yet still not immune from terrorist attacks - and there is a distrust of a country which is regularly in the news for the loss of databanks of supposedly private information..

Secondly, the LOCATE website is bloody awful. I can think of a good dozen Brits who have not reregistered because they can't stay online long enough and ~ well, what's the point? We all have our networks, be they through work, residence or online, and communication with loved ones operates free from governments. As much as I applaud the efforts of our consular staff, nice folk all, as long as they are hidebound by their bureaucratic strictures which appear to take little account of local conditions, then their well-intentioned labours as our 'guardian angels' are doomed to relative failure.

Until LOCATE was set up, we registered locally in a relatively simple process. The consular staff certainly had a broader perspective of the British presence here. Now that costs are paramount, the 'service' does not - cannot - meet its objectives, so another approach is needed.

We made various suggestions, primarily about using networks based on the mutuality of our local interests rather than those of faceless and distant bureaucrats. So you can expect to see a consulate stall at next year's Highland Gathering, tentatively scheduled for May, and Marie-Claire Joyce, the current Consul said that she would be prepared to attend other gatherings of Brits. There are far more Brits here than the five hundred currently registered and most of us are prepared to do our bit.

It must also be born in mind that we live multicutural lives. In other words, if push comes to shove, which I doubt, then nationality is not that important in Jakartass Towers. I'd even help my Irish friends.

And a final note: H.E. Martin Hatfull told me that he wished that the regularly updated Travel Advisory for Indonesia opened with a positive paragraph, one pointing out that one reason that so many of us live here is because it is a much safer and friendlier country than the media would have you believe.

Why else are we here?
This posting has been lengthily delayed thanks to power cuts and the inability of any internet provider here to - erm - provide. As for registering with LOCATE, if in Jakarta, there is a dedicated computer in the Consulate available during their office hours. And if in Bali, there will be one some time next year when refurbishing is complete.



1:30 pm |
Thursday, October 22, 2009
  Aduh, SBY.

There's been little ado about the re-inauguration of President SBY because there seems to be little anew.

Although he was re-elected with 60% of the electorate's votes, his 'new' cabinet is a reflection of his political allies rather than people's aspirations expressed through the ballot boxes. No-one outside his inner circle seems to have a clue about what the next five years have in store other than more of the same old, same old.

In fact, such is the sense of ennui engendered that I can't be bothered to back up this post by linking* to specific examples but merely refer you to our local English-language newspapers, the Jakarta Post and the Jakarta Globe. And if you're Indonesian, I'm sure you've got your favourite Indonesian-language broadsheet reflecting these views.

Of course, as a country coming to terms with the democratic process, the notion of more stability is, in itself, no bad thing.

So perhaps it's not so important that some 20% of the population 'survive' on less than $2 a day. Or that some 40% of the population 'survive' on less than the minimum wage of c.$7 a day - for a family of 4.

The Sidoarjo mudflow refugees can continue to wait for the full compensation for the loss of their homes and livelihoods mandated by SBY a couple of years ago. Although a conference of geological experts agreed that a Bakrie Bros company, PT Lapindo Brantas, caused the mudflow through incompetence, the company claims that it can't afford to pay. The refugees are no doubt interested to know that Abdurizal Bakrie, until this week nominally Minister of People's Welfare, and head of the Bakrie's business empire, 'bought' the chairmanship of Golkar for a cool $100 million. Golkar has now enlisted in SBY's coalition.

Back in March the Situ Gintung dam burst and 314 families lost their homes. Local bureaucrats have a compensation pot of $750,000 to dispense. So far, they say, $30,000 has been paid - to 600 families. (Go figure.)

Five years ago, at the start of his first term, SBY promised
the widow of the assassinated human rights campaigner Munir, Suciwati, that he would ensure that there would be full disclosure of the guilty parties. She is still waiting.

Still, as some may argue, the fate of individuals is of little matter in the greater scheme of things.

Forget about climate change and the need to completely overhaul transport, energy and telecommunications 'infrastructures'. There are loads more immediate and potentially lucrative issues to tackle.

There are always more malls to be built and banks to be bailed out.

Oh, and there's the cultural heritage to be preserved so we get to wear a batik shirt on Fridays.

And so it goes.

Ho hum.
*Actually, I'm having immense difficulty in getting online this week. Still I mustn't grumble - much as I want to.



5:30 pm |
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
  Fair Traders x 2

I'm always happy to add Fair Traders to the ad section in my blogroll to the right. Unfortunately, such occasions are exceedingly rare.

1. Merdeka Coffee has been in this section from the first and they have recently opened a café at the British International School (BIS) in Jakarta.

The café is located in the brand new Dickens Library Complex, with spectacular views out two glass window frontages to the main sports field and Staff facility. The Library and café was officially opened by the British Ambassador to Indonesia, Martin Hatfull, on Wednesday 14th October.

The café serves all of Merdeka Coffee's espresso based drinks menu as well as cold drinks, light snacks, cakes and retail coffee packs.

Continuing a trend of being an equal opportunity employer, most of the new staff come from a local Non-Profit Orphanage and street kid centre. Merdeka Coffee believes that giving such people an opportunity to work is not only a huge bonus for them (in self esteem terms), but helps us build a dedicated and loyal team for the future.

The café hours are Monday to Friday 7am to 5pm and Saturday mornings 7am to 12 noon.

Any enquiries can be directed to Alun Evans.

2. Aloha Bay Candles

Our Indonesian factory is a model for human rights and a safer work environment.

Our CEO, Bart Burger, grew up in the Netherlands and France. He made good use of his time in Europe to refine his skills as a candle maker and industry consultant, before joining Aloha Bay.

Because his mother had been born and raised in Indonesia (which was a Dutch colony at the time), Bart had the opportunity to visit Ngawi, Indonesia (where his mother had been raised), where he toured palm oil plantations, inspected candle manufacturing facilities, and reviewed equipment and technologies throughout Indonesia.

Moved at seeing the terrible working conditions and political tension in Jakarta, and wanting to help in some way, Bart decided to create a new and very different kind of candle factory. Unlike other Indonesian candle factories, our Aloha Bay factory does not accept children into the workplace. Aloha Bay also provides housing, medical benefits, paid vacations and maternity leave for all employees.

In 2001, a sister factory was opened in Java, Indonesia, using the same candle materials and technology. Managed and owned by Indonesians, it is set up as a "fair trade" company, where workers enjoy fair wages, medical benefits, paid vacations and maternity leave.

(This is, of course, in line with the prevailing Act No.13 2006 concerning Manpower.)

For the last six years, this Indonesian factory has supplied a good portion of Aloha Bay‘s handmade candles, such as Palm Tapers, Chakra Candles, and Tea Lights. The island of Java is densely populated and known for the quality of its crafts. The factory provides steady work for about 200 craftspeople in rural eastern Java. Palm Wax™ is imported from Malaysia*; glass jars, packaging, and bamboo baskets are produced locally.

With his plant manager, Prananto (a native of Java), Bart has created a modest, low-tech factory that makes candles and distills patchouli oil. Bart and Prananto believe that by providing more productive livelihoods for the Indonesian people, they will be more motivated to plant a variety of soil-enriching field crops to supplement what has become a palm oil tree monoculture. The resulting strong sustainable farming will provide an economic alternative to illegal logging and poaching of endangered species.

(*But why doesn't Aloha use Indonesian palm wax?)



7:00 am |
Monday, October 19, 2009
  "That was no lady, that was my cow."

From 1965 until 1992,
Warren Mitchell played a character called Alf Garnett in a number of TV series and a couple of films, initially called Til Death Us Do Part, a very funny satiric reflection of social mores. He referred to his wife as a 'silly moo' and 'daft cow'.

That the character of Alf was racist, misogynist, anti-semitic and a homophobe appalled some and cheered others, depending on one's personal opinions. I enjoyed the shows because laughter is the best antidote to ills; the notion of 'One Spirit, One Nation' eludes misanthropes.

In one episode, Alf supported Mary Whitehouse who, much like Roy Suryo was "concerned for the bleedin' moral fibre of the nation!"

So what are Indonesians to make of I Made Widiana from the village of Bukti in Bali who misplaced his manhood?

He claimed that in (a) period of confusion, he saw an alluring woman tempting him to take her. It turned out later that the woman was in fact a cow.
Some comic routines enter collective consciousness.
For example:
"Who was that lady I saw you with last night?"
"That was no lady! That was my wife."



7:00 am |
Sunday, October 18, 2009
  Pesta Blogger 2009

Next Saturday, October 24th, the third annual Indonesian blogfest will be held at the magnificent new SMESCO Indonesia Exhibition Hall on Jl.Gatot Subroto. Unspun describes it as having a "spherical durian roof", but actually it's a geodesic dome, Ong, an incredibly strong structure which can probably withstand the severest earthquake.

Pesta Blogger has some heavyweight sponsors, including the USA Embassy which, in its press release invites people to "become fans of the U.S. Embassy at Facebook."

And that does seem to be the perpetual theme of the blogfests - socialise. Nowt wrong with that, yet I do wonder if the stated theme of this year's do, one I wholeheartedly endorse, will be achieved.

The theme of Pesta Blogger 2009 is “One Spirit, One Nation.” Imam Borotseno, Chairman of Pesta Blogger explained (the) choice of theme, saying “blogs and other social media have a great power to overcome physical, religious and cultural distances to bring us together as one nation with one spirit.”

The social media I take to include the many internet platforms, such as forums and group networks with a specific, rather than generic, focus ~ eg. What's Rattlin' and Wild Asia , social networks which emphasise sociality ~ eg. Friends Reunited, and personal lifestyle commentaries (viz. Twitter) ~ I've just had a crap and am therefore texting crap.

Whether Pesta Blogger will actually be able to encourage the social and political changes needed in Indonesia because we have "physical, religious and cultural" differences is a matter of conjecture. The notion of having competitions and prizes for the XL-Sponsored Top Blog and a jury judging the best photo is pandering to a competive 'winning' mentality, which runs counter to the One Spirit, One Nation theme.

Most writing, including fiction, is semi-autobiographical, in that obsessions and fantasies come from within.
However, my definition of blogging does not include the social networks, yet I have discovered few fellow bloggers who consistently and objectively attempt to articulate the need for harmonious relationships, and thereby challenge the powers-that-be who act undemocratically.

Such writing takes time and involves thought and endless revision in order to provide coherence. It needs a 'flow', an introduction to the 'meat' of the topic and a conclusion, so that readers can follow the train of thought. Hopefully such writing engenders responses, whether as questions, debate, offering further reading or, and these are welcome, compliments.

My hope is that Pesta Blogger will encourage bloggers to provide long-term visions for the future of Indonesia and not just instant responses, although at times of 'crisis' these can be of value. Such is/was Indonesia Help, initially established by Enda Nasution in the wake of the tsunami, and to which I have added links to aid agencies which initially responded to the recent Padang Earthquake. We should aim to serve the community at large, and to do that we need policies and actions from those we challenge.

Whilst Indonesia ranks bottom of a survey of worldwide internet provision, there is scant hope that we bloggers can make much of a difference. These is surely something wrong when Telkom, which launched a new logo yesterday, also announced that their new strategy, in order to boost earnings during an expected downturn in the telecommunications business, will focus on non-core businesses such as entertainment, IT software development and - oh - internet services.

So, there we have it - the internet has been, and is, considered to be a non-essential. I will, no doubt, continue to make do with my dial up connection until a fibre optic connection is provided to Jakartass Towers or the neighbour demolishes the high wall erected a few months ago which blocks my access to wi-fi signals.

I will not be going to Pesta Blogger, not because I feel excluded as was the case in Pesta Blogger 2007, but because I'm already booked. (I will also not be accepting my invitation to the Responsible Tourism Awards ceremony in Kuala Lumpur that day.)

However, I am meeting Our Man in Jakarta on Thursday and will seek his views on the Pesta Blogger theme. I hope it will be a productive meeting leading to increased awareness of how bloggers can contribute to society at large.

I wish the same for Pesta Blogger.



10:00 am |
Friday, October 16, 2009
  16.55 - I've just felt the earth move

The quake was 6.4 magnitude off Ujong Kulon, the tip of north-west Java in the Sunda Strait.

As I still feel somewhat nauseous, I can imagine the panic in the high-rises of the business district and the various apartment blocks throughout the city.



4:55 pm |
Thursday, October 15, 2009
  "Roy Suryo - Moral crusader or spoilsport?"

Picture from the BBC
- ha(s) nothing against sex, but against its exploitation in the media.

He is
- a ruthless political operator
- happy to fight for the benefits of censorship in the courthouse.

He has
- endured years of abuse, stink bombs and pies in the face.

- concerns (are) not those of a repressive patrician, but just "a manifestation of common sense and responsibility".

Some folk, Hi Rob and others, think it strange that many people indulge him in light of the numerous occasions he has come up short on his analysis of all manner of things IT and telematika related.

What I find disturbing, but not strange, is that the powers-that-be are more than willing to give publicity seeker Roy Suryo credence. Every time his name appears in print he disturbs public order, yet he is paid way overmuch for his incompetence and incomprehension in all matters related to the internet.

From my archives

January 2006

- He managed to screw $10,000 (plus monthly fees) out of SBY to set the President's website.

Granted, the site is relatively up to date in Indonesian, but the English page has only six entries each of speeches, press releases and interviews - few from this year and not SBY's well-received speech at the Bali Climate Change Conference a year ago. Given that SBY has fluent English, a major reason for his career advancement, and is a
respected and major player on the world's political stage, there should be more content, a lot more.

In fact there is just one bit more - a page devoted to a book of speeches, Indonesia On The Move*, with a link to Endorsments (sic)

SBY's introduction demonstrates wisdom far beyond Suryo's.

This book is collection of my speeches delivered for international audience. They cover wide-ranging topics, from security to poverty, tsunami to Aceh peace, democracy to globalization, MDGs to Islamic affairs.

What I hope to achieve through these speeches is to define Indonesia`s new thinking and project the new spirit that emerged after the 2004 elections. A key challenge for my government in past two years has been to translate the tremendous expectations, energy and optimism into real policy measures that will promote progress, growth, and stability. In the process of doing this, the interconnection between our national objectives and international activities becomes stronger. I am a firm believer that to attain our domestic priorities, we need greater - not lesser - engagement with the outside world.

Every generation needs to find its voice. My only hope is that the ideas and messages expressed in these speeches will add to the voice of the present generation.

So what is Suryo doing challenging the rights of citizens to challenge laws which limit "the voice of the present generation"?

That is what he has done in appearing as an 'expert witness' for the prosecution in the current appeal hearing against mother of two Prita Mulyasari. She exercised her right to send friends an email outlining the inadequate care she had received from Omni Hospital, yet is on trial for defamation.

April 2008

Roy Suryo was the moral crusader behind the pornography section of the recently enacted Electronic Information and Transactions Law. There has been almost universal condemnation of this law in that it harms free speech. The vast majority of Indonesia's citizens recognise that the country's health services are inadequate, especially for those in rural and remote regions. Furthermore, living where they do, they also have an inadequate telecommunications infrastructure, so exercising their right to free speech is virtually a non-starter.

That a 'modern' hospital in an urban area could not diagnose that Prita had mumps and not dengue fever is proof positive that all is not well in the health service. (I had mumps last year, but after checking the symptoms on the internet I popped into my local apotik for the correct medication. There was no-one to defame other than myself.)

Since the dawn of reformasi in May 1998, we've seen incompetence, increased rent-seeking, intransigence and general stupidity among the political élite. The major criticism of SBY during his first term has been a perceived indecisiveness. For the next five years he has a solid public mandate, backed up with a parliamentary coalition of nigh on 90% so he can now afford to be decisive.

An easy decision would be to kick Suryo out of the Partai Demokrat, not so much because he's not supporting the party line, but that in not kicking him out, the PD would lose in the image and credibility stakes.

Alternatively, whilst banning him from making public pronouncements, give him a sinecure as a department head, possibly in a mental health hospital.

That's where cretins belong.
*Want to read more? I do but Kanjeng Raden Mas Temenggung (KRMT) Roy Suryo Notodiprojo, to give him his full name, hasn't given any information about how to get the book. It might be in Gramedia, the local publications empire, but I can't find it on Amazon. (However, I am vaguely interested in The Idea Of Indonesia, but not at £52.25)
I've just found this picture of KRMTRS, to give him his complete set of initials.

I think he's saying that he used to have bigger boobs.



5:00 pm |
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
  Pleasure and Pain in Padang

The sheer scale of such disasters as the West Sumatra earthquakes leads to shock and awe. However, the tales of individuals offer hope and faith in the human condition.

I must confess, though, that I cannot understand what it is that can lead a terror suspect to be a volunteer in Padang. Perhaps, like the gawkers who flocked to Padang, he takes a perverse pleasure in the suffering of others.

Residents scoffed in disdain at the rubberneckers. One commodity the city definitely didn’t need to import was Jakarta-style traffic jams. And as the government rationed fuel and enormous lines formed at gas stations, townies expressed outrage that outsiders needlessly burned gas as they trolled around to take pictures of the devastation. The gawkers gobbled up the food at restaurants that offered only one dish, fried rice without vegetables, which was only available every other day due to shortages.

Some people cry at the pain of others

Reevo Saulus, a 17 years old art student, part time joker, and procrastinator from the city of Jakarta left Padang three days before the earthquake. His cousin didn't.

Others take no pleasure in their pain.

A student, Ramlan, trapped under a six-ton concrete beam, cut off part of his right leg to escape. A local charity is giving him a prosthetic leg and will pay his college fees.

Search for survivors called off

After the 7.6-magnitude earthquake, although some say it was of 7.9 magnitude, the government has stopped the search for survivors.

The official death toll has reached at least 1,115, most of whom were in Padang Pariaman with 675. Recorded deaths in the provincial capital Padang have reached at least 313.

The quake also severely injured 1,214 people and destroyed more than 135,000 homes and buildings.

At least 210 people are missing, buried under at least six landslides in the West Sumatra regency of Padang Pariaman. Due to the difficulty of unearthing the bodies, the local branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) does not object to these areas being declared mass graves.

However, in Padang just four people are recorded as missing, but the figure could be higher as records of commuters and other visitors are not kept.

Yet hope remains, if only bolstered by a shaman.

Doddy, 27, believes his mother, Olinis, 50, is still alive, even though she has been missing for two weeks His relatives claimed to have seen Olinis on TV, caught running during the quake. A few days ago, they saw her on TV for a second time, sitting among the quake survivors waiting for their families to find them.

"We resorted to asking a shaman to help us find her, and were told she was alive but appeared to be too shocked to talk," Ari said.

With financial aid promised by central government, the focus is on clearing up the debris so that reconstruction can begin. This, of course, means that there is a rush to get on the gravy train without, I venture to suggest, much thought given to the next quake which many experts think will be much of a much greater magnitude.

Many of the deaths and much of the destruction could have been avoided by stringent application of building codes.

Padang needs to be rebuilt away from the coastal plain as another quake could well generate a tsunami. Rebuilding or reconstruction will only be effective if local agencies work for the community rather than for themselves.

What's the betting that no-one will consider this? Few of those with access to the levers of power look beyond the envelopes under their noses.



12:00 pm |
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
  Comic Cuts

I was most intrigued to find a bookmark today issued by Go IkuZo which is a newish course in Jakarta offering 'A Perfect Place to Learn Manga and Japanese" for "Kids".

Intrigued but not surprised because Indonesian teenagers, who will include Our Kid come Friday, are seemingly obsessed with Japanese comic series, known as Anime, which are shown on several TV channels here, both terrestial and satellite. Manga are the book versions. I also discovered last year that teenagers are more interested in discussing the different characters than in admiring Mother Nature.

Having thought it strange yet logical that comic culture was considered to be a suitable entrée into language learning I settled down to read some of my backlog of Guardian Weeklys, delayed by the Idul Fitri holiday when the country reverts to pre-consumerist bliss for a week.

And the first article I settled on was entitled 'Yarooh!', he ejaculated by David McKie. His article points out that comic-strip writers invented a wealth of linguistic terms to bring their art form to life.

These are largely onomatopoeic terminologies, such as "splat!", "zap!" and "wham!", along with my favourite: "kerpow!". This prefix ker- was a clever device to evoke that spilt second before fist lands on jaw, or whatever. There's "kerbam!" (a sudden noise or sharp shock) and "kerbang!" (a sudden sharp noise or explosion) to "kerwhop!" (a solid body falling on to a solid surface) and "kerwoosh!" (indicating speedy movement).

Some of these definitions
(fr. the Cassell Dictionary of Slang) are surprisingly precise. "Kerslosh!", for instance, indicates movement through a wet or soft substance, "or the falling of a solid object into such substance, eg. viscous mud"; while "kersplat!" indicates a fall on to a soft surface, "especially with concomitant mess, eg. a stuntman's dive into a stall of soft fruit and vegetables".

What of Indonesian comic language, I wondered, so I investigated Our Kid's collection of comic books, which are, perhaps strangely, local translations of Japanese efforts, such as Hayate, the Combat Butler (eh?). Reading them back-to-front isn't that easy, but, as in all comics, 'noise' words are drawn large. I'll leave it up to you to put action pictures to the following sound words: DRUK, ZREK, NGUUNG, GLEK, DEG, PRANG PRANG PRANG, BAK BUK BAK BUK, DUAAAAK, KAPOOONG, BLAAAR and WOOOSH. You may recognise that last one.

As I couldn't see a WHAM, you'll have to make do with this one.

Whaam! (1963) by Roy Lichtenstein
On display at Tate Modern, London.

As for locally produced comics, my researches have turned up a piece of research by Laine Berman in which she says that the comic industry remains marginal and plagued by self-doubt yet, thankfully, is evidence of an outspoken, reflective younger generation. Comics in contemporary Indonesia reveal young people’s confusion and bitterness over the hypocrisy, corruption and abuses carried out in the name of ‘reformasi’, ‘development’ or ‘democracy’.

A new venture has been initiated by the Kompas Gramedia Group to bring the comic culture into the mainstream. They invited ten comic-book creators, two of whom dropped out, to draw and write a graphic novel, which it would publish under its new brand: Koloni.

Gramedia set a three-month deadline for each and trying to instill a “Japanese comics work ethic”, required them to produce between 40 and 60 pages a month. And now the first batch of Koloni comics consisting of eight black-and-white titles in genres including action, mystery and romance are available in Gramedia bookstores

For more comic cuts, browse the Komik Indonesia website.

I do think it's a shame that Dekisugi stopped posting his comic strips a year and a half ago. Perhaps he isn't confused and bitter anymore.

However, Niwatori is a "broke but happy" comic strip fan and creator and worth checking out.



5:30 pm |
Saturday, October 10, 2009
  Slices Of The Pie

When the wealth of a few depends on the misery of the many, what is it about humans which makes us seek more than we need?

Although guardians of our hard-earned cash and savings continue to demonstrate that they want more than what we entrust them with, wealth is not always a matter of bank balances. For some, such as Imelda Marcos, it was a collection of shoes as if she were a centipede. For others, as demonstrated by alarming levels of obesity in 'rich' countries, including the urban centres of Indonesia, it's super-sized portions of unhealthy food.

And in Indonesia, it's access to power.

Once Indonesia's richest man, Abdurizal Bakrie has 'won' the chairmanship of Suharto's civilian powerbase, Golkar, by distributing loads of cash to the Party's regional offices rather than to the 'refugees' in East Java still awaiting compensation for the loss of their homes and livelihoods through the incompetence of his oil exploration company PT Lapindo Brantas.

His first act has been to handpick his executive committee, one that meets with the approval of SBY. Not only will Golkar join with the yet-to-be reinaugerated President's coalition, but at least one of the executive picked to head up Golkar's Think Tank, Rizal Mallarangeng, a former member of President Megawati's PDI-P, was a key member of SBY's re-election committee, albeit as spokesman for vice president-designate Boediono.

He is one of three (non-Marxist) brothers who have been Bakrie's and SBY's backroom since at least 2001. The key brother in SBY's campaign was probably the youngest brother Choel who is president director of a Bakrie-owned news portal, Fox Indonesia. He ran a carefully orchestrated Obama-style campaign, using social networks as much as slick TV ads, catchy jingles, and heavy use of polling.

The eldest brother, Andi, is literally the voice of the president, his spokesman.

Another member of Bakrie's executive is Titiek Prabowo, youngest daughter of Suharto and ex-wife of failed presidential candidate and human rights violator Lt. Gen.(ret.) Prabowo. She has been appointed as deputy to new secretary-general, Idris Markham, of whom I can find nothing.

Apparently he was chosen because SBY wasn't happy with the original choice of Gen.(ret) Luhut B. Panjaitan, notorious for human rights abuses in East Timor and involvement in alleged fraud connected with deforestation in Kalamantan.

These are Bakrie's (and SBY's) bedfellows - the same old, same old.

With the mass media in their control, if Indonesia is going to continue along the reformasi path in line with the aspirations of the rakyat, then it is essential that NGO's and civilian journalists strengthen and, in spite of differences of opinion, work collectively to ensure that our voices continue to be heard.



2:00 pm |
Friday, October 09, 2009
  We're All Animals

I have been told by teachers of Christianity, that Man has dominion over all animals, a notion which I dispute because we are mere arrivistes in the animal kingdom. But, they have also told me, we are not animals.

Really? I respond. Don't you have all the attributes of animals? Don't you eat and shit? You don't copulate or have independent movement? If you're not animal, then you must be a vegetable. Or maybe you're cold-hearted. Or stoned.

Our Kid will be a teenager as of Friday and has recently adopted a female street cat which he's named - erm - Cat. (Yonks ago, the mother of Son No.1 and I called our cat Mouse, but that's another story.)

Cat is in heat and there have been two suitors for her rear end. The winner has been a big grey tom who, we've observed, is the best endowed. 'Er Indoors commented that the cats behave just like humans, whereas I used the opportunity to point out that teenagers are inquisitive about sexual matters and that Our Kid has probably learnt much more than we could, or wish to, impart about our animal instincts.

Events in the just concluded Golkar conference have been remarkably similar to those in Jakartass Towers - both were cat fights with the bigger buggers strutting their stuff and grabbing the spoils.

This is not Cat


2:00 pm |
Thursday, October 08, 2009
  Wiping The Slate Clean?

It's only a couple of weeks since the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan ended with Idul Fitri. 'Fitrah' means a (re)beginning as humans, which is why Indonesians walk up to all and sundry and say "Mohon ma'af lahir dan batin". Cynics (moi?) have long translated this as "Please accept my apologies for what I may have done (to you) in the past year and for what I'm going to do in the next year."

It hasn't taken long for this has quickly proven to be a truism.

Whilst some of us have been emotionally drawn to assist in the wake of West Sumatra's devastating earthquakes (1), others have been drawn to the trough of plenty.

SBY has complained angrily about local governments which have submitted assessments of financial losses over emergency relief measures to help quake victims.

Airlines have laid on umpteen more flights with full loads of relief personnel with their equipment as well as grieving families. However, to this commentator among others, it beggars belief that some, if not all, of these airlines have tripled fares to Padang citing 'supply and demand'.

Elsewhere, the new parliament has been installed with great pomp and extravagence. The public at large has decried this, thus forcing some of the new legislators to say that they will donate their first month's salary to relief funds. This is, of course, no big deal as they have five years to capitalise on thir positions, and manoeverings are taking place to secure seats on the various commissions which will serve as the buffers between lobbyists and the ultimate decision makers, the people's elected representatives.

SBY has yet to be reinaugurated as President, so his new government has not been announced, but there are significant signs that the democratic process which has been lauded internationally as demonstrating that such ideals are possible in a predominantly Muslim country is but a sham.

To be fair, what is happening here is not peculiar to Indonesia. I've always thought that whoever you vote for, the government gets in, and in most countries cronyism and nepotism are the entrance keys. So, it must be acknowledged that SBY is not the first political leader to create a dynasty.

The USA has had its Kennedys and Bushes; Greece has just elected the son and grandson of prime ministers as their new prime minister; Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka have their Bhuttos, Ghandis and Banderanikes - and the list goes on.

SBY's has three brothers-in-law in high military positions. Lt. Gen. Erwin Sujono is Military Chief of General Affairs, Maj. Gen. Suryo Prabowo is the Jakarta Military Commander and Maj. Gen. Edhie Wibowo is commander of the notorious Army special forces, Kopassus. His eldest son, Army Captain Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, is currently completing his master's degree at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Once he graduates, his rapid rise through the army ranks is virtually guaranteed given his family connections and word is that he is being groomed as a future president. Meanwhile, SBY's second son, Eddie Baskoro, is a neophyte in the legislature.

Given the parliamentary majority of SBY's Parti Demokrasi and coalition partners (those parties which did not put up candidates in July's presidential) losing parties are grabbing opportunities to jump on the gravy train. Ex-president Megawati's husband, Taufik Kiemas, has just been 'elected' Speaker of the People's Representative Group, even though the people rejected Megawati's PDI-P at the general election in March. Their daughter, Putu, is another neophyte in the legislature.

The other major party to lose heavily in the general election was Suharto's 'functional group', Golkar. Ignoring events elsewhere in Sumatra, they have been holding an 'ugly' congress in Palmbang to elect a new leader to replace the out-going Vice President Yusuf Kalla. The two main candidates were Abdurizal Bakrie, of Lapindo Brantas mudflow infamy, and media mogul Suryo Paloh. Bakrie wants Golkar to cling to power by entering SBY's new government, and Paloh suggested that Golkar should regroup as a parliamentary opposition.

Bakrie won because he threw more money at the voting delegates. The public will not be fooled and recognises that for a democracy to have some credence checks and balances are needed, so Paloh was the generally respected candidate.

The one glimmer of hope is that Tommy Suharto, son of the late detested dictator and convicted murderer, got no votes. Mind you, neither did the other candidate Yuddy Chrisnandi. He couldn't afford to dispense any largesse.

And so it goes.

(1) I'm continuing to update information of how you can help - here.
Feel free to link and/or email me if you want me to add anything.

(2) This is not the final earthquake to hit the coast of West Sumatra and, according to an article in the New Scientist, 'the big one' could hit at any time - "All it will take to trigger it is the pressure of a handshake," says John McCloskey, a seismologist at the Environmental Sciences Research Institute at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, Northern Ireland.

It therefore behooves the appropriate authorities to prepare rather than repair.



11:30 am |
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
  1,500 Posts

My first post was on 21st March 2004, so this means that I've missed posting on one day out of four. And here are some more not very important numbers.

750,000 Words

Calculated at a rough average of 500 words per post.

Daily Visits

These have been relatively stable at about 100 per day. However, as there are c.125 who get my updates through RSS or email subscriptions, I'm more than happy to have more regular readers than those who've surfed in by chance or googled key words. Google, incidentally, account for 84% of search engine visits. However, it's pleasing to note that numerically, links from other websites outnumber these.

Apart from weekends, including Fridays, daily visits are fairly consistent at c.15% each.

Geographical Reach

In broad terms, Asia (52%), Europe (21%) North America (18%) and Oceania - eh? - (7%) account for the majority of visits, with Africa, South America and Central Asia barely figuring, perhaps due to the vast spaces, poor internet infrastructure. Oh, and lack of relevance.

My Cluster Map gives a nice pictorial overview.

Indonesia (36.12%), the United States (15.88%) and the United Kingdom (11.27%) are the top three, followed by Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. However, I think special mention should be made of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. I hope my 'message' of pluralism and peace echoes a little.


55% still use Internet Explorer (5-8) with Firefox/Mozilla (0-3) users taking 36%. About .44% have accessed the site through their mobile devices including one person who's accessed Jakartass through his PSP. I suspect it's Our Kid.

Nigh on 88% still use Windows, with XP remaining by far the most popular version. It's the one I use.
Unless I delete the site, I know that when I cease blogging Jakartass will live on in hyperspace. That's fine with me as it's my sincere hope that what I have said - and yes, I'm an 'opinionated old fart' who likes to spout off - will continue to resonate. I started it with the intent of keeping faraway family and friends informed, of having those conversations and discussions which I'd prefer to have in their convivial company in a pub with decent beer.

Some - hi AV, DPQ, Anita F, Leonardo and Miko - have indeed shared a beer or three with me thanks to my Jakartass persona. Other friends are newly met online but not yet face-to-face - hi Anong, Marmalade and Dilligaf in Jakarta, and Rima, Oigal, Anita Mc.and Madame Chiang elsewhere.

I don't have trillions of 'friends' on Mugshots and don't twitter inconsequentially, and if you're bothered that I don't accept your invitations to join this, that or t'other so-called 'social' network, then try telephoning me instead.

My friends have my number.



8:00 am |
Monday, October 05, 2009
  A Short Wish List

1. I wish I didn't have to occasionally write posts like my last one.

(Note that a shortened post is now on Indonesia Help and is linked to on the right. Do email me if you are seeking or offering help.)

2. I wish City Hall would stick to the 2007 law allocating 30% to green spaces, rather than the 13.9% allocated in their new master plan. The current allocation is a mere 9.7%.

From October 10th to 25th an exhibition is being held by Green Map Indonesia at the Indonesian Heritage Trust building in Jl.Veteran in Central Jakarta.

3. I wish I could attend the Rhythm 'n' Groove Music Camp being held in Puncak from 15th to 18th October.

The residential camp is a music activity, a place where you share all about music (mainly jazz), including knowledge of the music and how to play it.

All fields of education: vocal, guitar, bass, keyboard and drums will be guided by experienced mentors and musicians from three nations, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.

Everybody can join this activity! Whether you are still a starter or you are already a senior, from children, youngsters and adult, man and woman, you are all invited to join. Rhythm 'n' Groove Music Camp creates a concept of teaching young people about music through nature camps, to find and develop top class musicians that really love and understand their field or even just for a hobby.

I've always wished I could play jazz bass.

Ah Um.



11:00 am |
Friday, October 02, 2009
  West Sumatra Earthquake Update

West Sumatra has long been my favourite part of Indonesia, not least because because of its special culture, based on matrilineage. Padang itself, has always been a place to get out from: the cacophony of its urban sprawl is too much like Jakarta. However, we have bought a plot of land in Lubuk Sikaping, about 250 kilometres north of Padang and off the coastal plain, which I still hope/dream will serve as a peaceful retirement haven.

The following is taken verbatim from the What's New Jakarta newsletter.

In a tragic reminder of the unpredictable nature of this planet and the fragile co-existence with the human race, this week saw a tsunami taking human life in Samoa and closer to home a series of earthquakes affecting parts of Sumatra. A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck West Sumatra on Wednesday and another 7 magnitude quake struck on Thursday. The death toll is likely to escalate (to a lot more than 1,000) in the coming days and many people remain buried or missing in the rubble.

There is no doubt that a significant proportion of deaths and injuries from earthquakes in Indonesia could be avoided if building codes were more stringent. In light of this unfolding tragedy, and past earthquakes such as in Yogyakarta and given the likelihood of earthquakes continuing to occur in Indonesia in the future, we do believe that stronger building regulations need to be enforced, especially in the construction of public buildings, office towers, shopping malls, hotels etc. Developers who construct buildings which are sub-standard and which cause injury or death during earthquakes, should be held accountable by law.

We must totally agree - a school, hospital and hotel (with 200 guests unaccounted for) are among the many collapsed buildings.

Let's hope that through effective rescue operations and aid support that those affected by the latest earthquakes will be minimized. We will announce charity/aid organization that will be assisting in Sumatran relief efforts as soon as possible.

NGOs supplying energency aid

Yes, it has been difficult tracking down NGOs which have immediately responded. The following have set up relief funds, with Mercy Corps already at the scene.

If you know of a reputable organisation which has launched an appeal, please email me or leave a comment below and I'll add them to this list which I'll keep at the top of this page until the situation becomes clearer.


Oxfam-funded local organizations in West Sumatra are on aid missions in the earthquake-hit area ready to distribute 2,400 sheets of tarpaulins for emergency shelter, hygiene kits and clothing said the international agency on Wednesday..

The agency has immediately released $320,000 to cover the costs of the initial part of the aid effort. Oxfam already had stocks of emergency aid in the area for this type of disaster.

“We had aid ready because this area of Indonesia is susceptible to this type of tragedy. Communications with the quake-zone are difficult and we are hoping for the best but having to plan for the worst. We are pulling together a significant aid effort,” said Jane Cocking, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Director.

Mercy Corps

Our team will assess areas that were hit particularly hard by the earthquake, using specific tools and methods that Mercy Corps has used in many previous disasters, including here in Indonesia. These assessments will be used by a consortium of eight humanitarian organizations, which Mercy Corps is leading, to determine the most pressing needs of devastated communities and displaced families.

Since we've already had a presence in Padang for the last five years, conducting programs that range from children's nutrition to emergency preparedness, we're already very familiar with the area and well-suited to lead this effort.

We're planning to distribute shelter supplies, hygiene items and clean water to displaced families who are surviving as best they can in this suddenly-changed environment. Soon after that, we'll continue working with those families through programs that pay laborers a living wage to restore and rebuild their communities. The income they earn will help them support their households, as well as get money flowing to local businesses that are also struggling to survive.

Yayasan IDEP (in Indonesian)

Yayasan IDEP is an Indonesian non-profit NGO. Innovative and effective, IDEP encourages program sharing with other grass roots projects through media and curriculum development.

We are committed to developing self-sustainability and directly empowering local communities to improve their own situations. We believe that permanent results can be achieved through local empowerment.

In 2003 IDEP launched a Community Based Crisis Response Program that will help local Indonesian communities to be more prepared for and to better manage disasters.

Added Saturday 3rd October

SurfAid International

SurfAid has gone into emergency mode and has staff doing assessments of the needs of the people in the coastal areas south of Padang, which are heavily populated and impoverished. SurfAid had Mentawai health program staff already in Padang and they have been reassigned to emergency work. SurfAid will respond to the immediate urgent needs with medical staff and supplies. SurfAid has eight doctors and three nurses preparing medical supplies.

SurfAid is buying tents, tarpaulins, food, water and sanitation and medical supplies in Medan, North Sumatra, and getting these to Padang.

The SurfAid office in Padang survived, however the internet system is down, along with electricity and phones, so a priority is to get a new internet system in place along with satellite phones and gensets for power, along with fresh water as the mains water supply is cut off.

Indonesian Red Cross
In Indonesian

The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), has deployed 200 staff and volunteers to the area to help in search and rescue efforts. Close to 100 of these are trained ‘satgana’ (disaster response team) members from PMI chapters in west Sumatra and Bengkulu who are on the ground conducting assessments of emergency needs. Over 40 volunteer doctors and specialist water and sanitation teams have also been sent from neighbouring Red Cross chapters in the provinces of Bengkulu and Riau. This morning a team of 30 volunteers left Bengkulu with trucks carrying 2 field kitchens, 30 bags, tents, and other relief supplies. PMI has also dispatched 400 tents along with 2000 tarpaulins, 5000 blankets, and 5000 sarongs from its warehouse in Jakarta.

Logistical hurdles are hampering the relief efforts. Communications to the affected area have been disrupted but the Red Cross is able to communicate with its branches through its HF radio network. People fleeing the area are causing congestion on the roads and the earthquake has affected an area hundreds of kilometres around Padang which is in a remote area of West Sumatra where infrastructure is poor.

Donasi Gempa Sumatera
BCA KCU Thamrin
No. Rek: 206.300668.8, atas nama Kantor Pusat PMI.
Dan Lewat Bank Mandiri KCU Jakarta Krakatau Steel
No. Rek: 070-00-0011601-7, atas nama Palang Merah Indonesia.

Donasi Bencana Umum
Bank Mandiri Cabang Wisma Baja,
No. Rek. 070-00001-160-17 AN. Palang Merah Indonesia

Donasi Korban Gempa Tasikmalaya
Untuk meringankan penderitaan korban gempa Tasikmalaya, PMI mengajak turut serta membantu melalui:
Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), Cabang Pancoran,
No. Rek. 0390.0100.0030.303. an. Palang Merah Indonesia
Readers in the USA can find a list of some of the organizations working to help quake victims in Indonesia, as well as tsunami victims in the Pacific Island nations of Samoa, American Samoa, and Tonga here. They are either providing direct assistance or are fund-raising for the relief efforts.



5:00 pm |
Thursday, October 01, 2009
  Wear a batik shirt tomorrow.

To 'celebrate' that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will officially announce tomorrow that Indonesian handmade batik is a world heritage, SBY's government has instructed government officials, and advised the rest of us, to wear batik shirts tomorrow.

I've got an expensive handmade batik shirt, but the batik motifs are machine-printed and the material has not been near a canting, a small brass bowl with spout with which wax is put onto cloth in order to trace a pattern. Nor has it been printed with a cap, a wooden block with a brass pattern which is used for 'embossing' The motif of my shirt is, I suspect, more of a pastiche than an example of Indonesia's traditional or cultural heritage.

Batik, a lengthy process of using wax to resist dyes, probably first arrived in Indonesia from China three hundred or so years ago. The traditional skills were particularly well developed in Central Java around Yogyakarta and Surakarta (Solo) under the patronage of the Sultan and his court. Designs were copies and in some cases the cloths could only be used by certain people or on certain occasions. The royal families had their own proscribed designs. On the coast designs were developed differently, influenced by settlers from China, the Dutch colonists and traders from India and Arabia.

Batik continues to evolve, with fashion designers and artists such as Nia Fliam and her partner Ismoyo encouraging the spread of batik worlwide.

I like batik and feel that it is a good representation of Indonesian culture. But then, if I lived in Malaysia, I would recognise that their batik motifs, with geometric designs such as spirals, are peculiar to their culture.

As few can afford the 'real' heritage, I don't suppose that it will matter how the material of tomorrow's shirt is printed. At least we'll be spared the impotent xenophobia recently witnessed when a Balinese dance was used to advertise Malaysia.

Or will we be treated to cries of 'yah, boo sucks' from yobbos who think Indonesia has finally 'won' something?
Apart from the links above, I've found two sites devoted to the History of Batik - here and here. It should be noted that dye-resist techniques are found worldwide.
PS. I prepublished this post last night. I expected to reschedule it following the earthquake but it is now 3.30 the followiing day and our electricity has only just been restored.


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