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
Alien Thoughts from Home

Home Thoughts from Abroad

Interactive World Time

Indonesian Dictionary

Indonesian Acronyms

Indonesian Slang

Learn Indonesian

Currency Converter

Email Me

The WeatherPixie

5 Day Forecast

Get Firefox!

  • West Sumatra Earthquake Aid Agencies
  • Sidoarjo Mud Volcano
  • Reports on Crashes and Sinkings

  • Living in Indonesia
  • Tempo
  • Bugils News
  • Jakarta Post
  • Jakarta Globe
  • Down To Earth
  • Loads of Advice
  • Inside Indonesia
  • Green Indonesia
  • Hobson's Choice
  • Gunung Bagging - New - clamber volcanoes
  • Indonesian Music
  • Indahnesia Online
  • Maps of Indonesia
  • Indonesia For Kids - blog
  • Green Group Links
  • Faces of Indonesia - blog
  • Photos of Indonesia
  • Indonesian Publications
  • International Crisis Group
  • Indonesian Engaged Travel - blog
  • Outside The Indonesian Box - blog
  • Indonesian Corruption Watch
  • News and Events Aggregators
  • Indonesia's Vegetarian Restaurants

  • Living in Jakarta
  • Culture Shock - Jakarta - 'my' book
  • Bataviase - loads of info in Indonesian
  • Rujak.org - for a sustainable Jakarta
  • Jakarta Kid - stories of street kids
  • Jakarta Events - as it says in the title
  • Map of Jakarta
  • Jakarta Nite Out
  • Jakarta Nite Out - for Francophiles
  • Jakarta 100 Bars - as it says in the title
  • Jakarta Java Kini - upmarket magazine
  • Jakarta Urban Blog- as it says in the title
  • Jakarta Green Map
  • Jakarta Daily Photo - as it says in the title
  • Jakarta? Been there!
  • Protecting Jakarta Bay
  • Nightlife - for single guys - check the forums
  • Jakarta Restaurant Reviews - as it says in the title

  • Living in Bali
  • Hector - at Bali Times
  • Bali Spirit
  • Bali Expat Forum
  • Nusa Lembongan News
  • I've Been To Bali Too Blog - defunct but still good stuff

  • Education Matters
  • Education 21
  • Performing Monkeys
  • Yayasan Goodwill International

  • Pre-Independence History
  • 1941-1942
  • A Family Tale

  • Del Boy - my multi-talented co-author
  • Hotel Rimbo - a mate
  • Ethos Travel - Son No.1
  • Indo Fair Traders
  • Organic Vanilla
  • Merdeka Coffee
  • Pekerti Nusantara

  • Indonesian Blogs in English
  • Top Blogs
  • Merdeka - aggregator
  • Elyani - good stuff
  • Therry - good stuff
  • Om'Bak - group thoughts
  • Yosef Ardi - business gossip
  • Treespotter - his serious blog
  • Milk Tea Girl - poems and stuff
  • Bitching Babe - another slice
  • Café Salemba - ekonomi +
  • Enda Nasution - The Guv'nor
  • Aroeng Binang - a neighbour
  • Harry Nizam H. - legal practitioner
  • Ethereal Shards - youthful ponderings
  • Muli's Commune - defunct but good links
  • Isman H. Suryaman - not a 'Fool'
  • Rasyad A. Parinduri - ekonomi
  • Tasa Nugraza Barley - returned from the USA
  • Indonesia Anonymus - infrequent but always good

  • Indonesian Expats
  • Naz - a "12.5% Indonesian" in Norway
  • Bleu - in Malaysia
  • Anita - in Scotland
  • Maya - in Antibes
  • The Writer - in Denmark
  • Spew-It-All - in Australia
  • Jennie Bev - in SF
  • Rima Fauzi - in Belgium
  • Nadia Febina - in Angola
  • Society of Spectacle - in Berlin
  • Overseas Think Tank - for Indonesia
  • Indonesians Living Abroad Forum - as it says in the title

  • Expat Bloggers in Indonesia
  • PJ Bali - oil worker
  • Mat Solo - Malaysian oil worker
  • Jenny Q - an expat wife
  • Dr Bruce - retired teacher in Bali
  • Spruiked - Brett's take on things
  • Indoprism - an expat family
  • Java Jive - original photoblog (now in the Phillipines)
  • Amor Fati - good links
  • Metro Mad - Jakarta Globe columnist
  • Rob Baiton - back in Oz
  • Jakarta Kid - about street kids
  • Green Stump - in Kalimantan
  • Most Curious - née Betty Loves Blogging
  • The Mad Rotter - Henk loves Indonesian music
  • Duncan Graham - journo archives
  • Hardship Posting - more wtf
  • Indonesia Matters - loads of stuff
  • The Opinionated Diner - and NZ music
  • Patrick Guntensperger - has opinions on current issues

  • Selected Aseanist Blogs
  • SARAwho? - Southeast Asia Aggregator
  • Pelf-ism is Contagious
  • Brommel - usually in Indonesia
  • Friskodude - SF travel writer
  • Klong Walking - an Addick in Bangkok
  • Agam's Gecko - musings from Thailand

  • London Blogs
  • Diamond Geezer
  • London Daily Nature Photo
  • London Bloggers Tube Map

  • Other Fave Blogs
  • Aangirfan - who is s/he?
  • Ad Busters - ecological economic sense
  • Samizdata.net
  • Strange Games
  • The J-Walk Blog
  • Environmental Graffiti

  • Charlton
  • Doctor Kish
  • Inspector Sands
  • Forever Charlton
  • Official Charlton site
  • Addickted to Blogs
  • Ex-Charlton forward in Belize

  • I'm an Aging Hippie
  • Man
  • XTC
  • World Changing
  • MoonJune Records
  • Canterbury Sounds

  • My Youth
  • Blackheath
  • Charlton Lido
  • Charlton House
  • Woolwich Ferry
  • Greenwich Park
  • Severndroog Castle
  • Overlapping Memories
  • More Overlapping Memories
  • Map of My Stomping Ground

  • Put Your Feet Up
  • Biscuit of the week
  • 50's British TV Nostalgia
  • Hello Children, Everywhere

  • Enter your Email

    Subscribe with Bloglines

    Locations of visitors to this page


    eXTReMe Tracker

    Listed on BlogShares

    Personal Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

  • May 1998
  • March 2004
  • April 2004
  • May 2004
  • June 2004
  • July 2004
  • August 2004
  • September 2004
  • October 2004
  • November 2004
  • December 2004
  • January 2005
  • February 2005
  • March 2005
  • April 2005
  • May 2005
  • June 2005
  • July 2005
  • August 2005
  • September 2005
  • October 2005
  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • December 2013
  • Creative Commons Licence