Each year at this time I've posted a list of the folk who've made a difference, an impact, on my life and have passed on since the last time I posted such a list. And that's a nice sentence to encapsulate the circle of life - a beginning, middle and end, ever-flowing, one generation into a regeneration.
For some, today sees the end of the 'noughties', and presumably the beginning of the two thousand and teens. A clean start?
Hardly. The failure of the Copenhagen talking shop to sufficiently cap carbon emissions guarantees that, but at the same time perhaps there is hope. The 'people' are coming together in mass movements, not just in the global sense but also for more parochial concerns.
Some of these folk would surely have shared my faint optimism.
January --1.Helen Suzman, 91, anti-racism politician in South Africa's apartheid parliament. "Let right be done." --9. Dave Dee (David John Harman), 65, singer with Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich. 14. Patrick McGoohan, 80, 'cult' film and TV actor. "I am not a number - I am a free man!" 16. John Mortimer, 85, popular writer (Rumpole), barrister, and defender of free speech. 18. Tony Hart, 83, much loved children's TV art encourager. 21. Mickey Gee, 65, guitarist 24. Gerry Crampton, 78, stuntman in many James Bond and Pink Panther films. 29. John Martyn OBE, 60, much loved singer-songwriter and innovative guitarist (Listen to Solid Airhere.)
February --7. Sir George Godber, 100, Chief Medical Officer who helped found the NHS and fought tobacco use and promiscuity. --7. Blossom Dearie, 82, jazz singer whose "voice would scarcely reach the second storey of a doll's house". 25. Ian Carr, 75, UK jazz trumpet player, biographer of Miles Davis and, coincidentally, played on Blossom Dearie’s last album. 26. James White, Labour MP best known for his Abortion Bill
Every year I stock up with loads of links which seem to be interesting at the time but I never use because they are irrelevant to any particular post. I'm giving away these worthy words as my Christmas Gift to you.
For example: Is the art of correspondence lost? Maybe for some, but I correspond much more, with many more people, in more languages, and in many more countries than what I could ever have done with paper. And it is real writing, not SMS-lingo.
The Jakartass Towers little room, karzie, bathroom, WC or whatever you call it, has loads of reading material, mainly music magazines, which is most suitable for time spent in the privacy of a privy.
I know of no public toilets which have similar facilities. Come to think of it, I can't think of any public toilets in Jakarta!
Whatever, in the westernised world, the walls of private stalls in public and corporate toilets are often used for writing graffiti, some of which can be quite amusing rather than scatological.
The handwriting on the wall said Cheer up, things could be worse. So I did and they were
This page from the BBC is a fascinating read, so take your laptop with you next time you go.
Pens and markers are optional.
Finally, if you're not already over-lexified (a word I've just invented), do check out Michael Quinion's wonderful World Wide Words.
A recent edition of his e-magazine has a selection of this year's 'words of the year' complied by various dictionaries.
I trust you will continue to read my little ramblings and rants and don't unfriend me.
Until the end of this year, I'm posting everything on my new WordPress site as well as here. Past comments have been transferred but new ones won't be. So if you want to comment, please don't put them here but there instead.
Actually, it isn't, but that's how Technorati describe their new beta version, one which, because they're lost them in hyperspace, has cost me the very many links and whatever (high) ranking I've garnered in five and a half years. They've screwed up big time and I've never seen so many complaints directed at one company.
You won't find my complaint there, albeit the same as every one else's - including every Indonesian language blogger who may have had a (free) account with them.
When I logged on and eventually found a complaints page, I carefully composed my harsh but fair comment, pressed 'submit' and was given the message that I had not logged on. This was daft as having logged on I found that they acknowledge two blogs that I've claimed - this one and Green Indonesia.
Their sheer incompetence in trying to 'monetise' their enterprise boggles my mind. The same goes for "their good friends at" JS-Kit; they are excited because having bought out Haloscan, they think that those of us who liked the simplicity of the old basic comments system will now happily pay $9.95 per annum for the new one with added bells and whistles.
No effing chance.
So they're going to ditch your much valued comments. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a way of transferring them to any other blog platform.
But this is where my good friend Reveller has proved of immense service. ProbabIy on January 1st, I will be transferring this site over to Jakartass.net using a very pleasant to the eye WordPress template. All my old posts are already archived there and the comments will have a separate page, not that they will show up along with the posts. But, hey, your valued thoughts will have a home on a separate page.
You'll have to initially sign in for my approval for your first comment, but once I've given that I hope you'll continue to feed my ego interest and that of the other two or three hundred daily visitors.
And if you'd care to have a look at the work in progress on the new site, be our guest.
In the western Christian tradition, this is the time for giving. This is a short list of non-profit organisations I regularly get emails from which have asked me to publicise their activities through Jakartass. Note that I have not included any of the too frequent spam comments regarding money lending or gold buying.
Nor have I included any Indonesian charity appeals. Please email me if you'd like a free plug for your charitable works.
The Coins for Prita appeal reached Rp.650 million which will be used for other victims of legalese injustice now that Omni Hospital/Hotel have said that they won't take the 'defamation damages' awarded by Banten High Court, presumably in a belated attempt to save face.
And I'd like some advice. Having won our case of unfair dismissal, through a legally binding Supreme Court decision, the financial compensation is being held up a clerk who'd like some uang rokok (cigarette money), probably as much as Rp.500,000 each - there are two of us, to make the payments.
There are grounds for believing that our erstwhile employers gained their 'victory' from the Labour Court through using the court mafia.
Should I/we succumb to the same immoral practice in order to access what we've been awarded?
In 1877, the Reverend Willard Parsons, minister of a small rural parish in Sherman, Pennsylvania, asked members of his congregation to provide country vacations as volunteer host families for children from New York City tenements. This was the beginning of the Fresh Air Fund tradition of caring for NYC’s neediest children.
The simplicity of our program is its strength. Looking back to 1877, we can reflect on how much has changed, and how much has stayed the same. In 2009, close to 5,000 New York City children experienced the joys of summertime in Friendly Towns and at five Fund camps in upstate New York. We are still looking for runners and sponsors to join our Fresh Air Fund-Racers team for the NYC Half-Marathon this coming March 21st.
This past summer OneSight reached out to us and helped over 3000 Fresh Air children by making sure that every child who needed the gift of sight was screened.
Jim Keady has been campaigning against sweatshops, and Nike's Indonesian operations in particular, for 10 years.
What is it like to live on a sweatshop wage in a developing country? I found out.
I spent one month in an Indonesian slum living with Nike factory workers on $1.25 a day, a typical wage paid to the workers. In Behind The Swoosh: Sweatshops and Social Justice, I share stories of living with Nike's factory workers, stories from the trenches in my decade-long effort to end Nike's sweatshop abuses, and stories of success on how we have had an impact on this $18 billion transnational corporation.
Given the state of the economy, if times are tough for you right now and EFJ cannot be a part of your holiday cheer, I totally understand. But if you have been able to weather the economic storm and are in a position to share with us, your gift of $20, $50, $100, or more, will launch EFJ into 2010 with a solid foundation and keep us on the frontlines of promoting peace and justice in our world.
You can make your online contribution safely and securely by clickinghere.
Avaaz.orgis an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means "voice" in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Buenos Aires, and Geneva.
Click hereto learn more about our largest campaigns.
'Er Indoors and I were woken up at 6 this morning with the shocking news that Susan had died. What made it extra shocking is that we didn't know that she had arrived in our house at 3 am, along with her husband and three young children aged between 4 months and 5 years.
Susan had been feeling weak following an emergency caesarian operation, yet in her frequent visits here, she always seemed cheerful. Appearances are obviously deceiving even though she treated Jakartass Towers as her 'home'.
When 'Er Indoors and I decided to live together twenty years ago, Susan came too. She was then 14 and we became her surrogate parents as her mother, who died earlier this year, was unable to be responsible. I paid for Susan's senior high schooling, and when she became a young adult she started to explore life through a series of short-term jobs and boyfriends. She, and by association we, have had problems with her choice of husband, mainly because he doesn't have regular employment, as so many in Jakarta, and is/was misogynist.
This morning he was unable to cope with Susan's condition and was wailing loudly as their young baby sought sustenance from her mother. .Although she certainly appeared to have passed on, I detected a faint pulse and she very briefly fluttered her eyes. We fanned out in a mad scrambling rush in search of a doctor, but there were none to be found, or known of, in our area. We managed to wake up a dentist in our street who was able to contact the local puskesmas (community health centre) who sent an ambulance with a doctor.
It was too late and he pronounced Susan dead and went back to his office to sort out the paperwork. Other paperwork was handled by our RT (street leader), and the RW (area co-ordinator) with whom we've recently had problems. But not this time.
He handled nearly everything from then on: the special ambulance for the deceased, the prayer service in the local mosque, the burial place, the transport taking us there and back, including the ojek (motorcycle taxi) outriders as weaved our way through a horrendous traffic jam.. All I had to do was pay for it all, which later made me to remark to him that I wondered how the poor managed.
Two elderly ladies came and organised the wake in our rearranged sitting room and supervised the washing of the body and its wrapping in a white shroud.Our local imam lead prayers,
All the while, visitors came, several from Susan's new Betawi family, some old school friends, many more from the Batak 'tribe' of 'Er Indoors, and more kind neighbours, many of whom I should have but did not recognise.
I suppose it was all very efficient. Susan was laid to rest in Pancoran cemetery at 1.30pm and now a number of folk linger in Jakartass Towers, talking in small groups.
There are young children, including Susan's five year old daughter, running around squealing happily. They don't understand what the day has been about.
I do, but don't understand why our 'daughter' has gone before us. ................................. Forlorn hope I know, but if the taxi driver who left the family here but drove off with their belongings including the children's changes of clothes, 'finds' them - they were on the back seat - please return them. Our address is on Susan's I.D. card which was in her handbag.
A quick message to everyone who comments here, which would be me and everybody who comments here. All my Haloscan comments are about to change, or completely disappear, within the next few weeks. Steel yourself.
Haloscan is an old-school commenting system from the days when blogs didn't tend to have inbuilt commenting functionality. A few years ago it was quietly mothballed by its owners and left to stagnate, and would undoubtedly have collapsed by now had it not been snapped up by new guys JS-Kit. They have their own commenting system, Echo, and seized the opportunity to commandeer a huge customer base of global bloggers. It's taken them ages to get their act together, but this week they've finally announced that all Haloscan users are shortly to be switched over to the new system. And there's a simple choice. Pay up, or get out, or get deleted.
When my blog's turn comes for the enforced upgrade, a button will appear on my dashboard. I'll then have precisely 14 days to make up my mind. I can pay $10 (a year) to switch your comments to the new Echo platform, or I can export all the comments and attempt to reposition them elsewhere. But if I do nothing, JS-Kit will delete the lot, everything, over five years worth, instantly, overnight. And soon.
Which is a shame, because I like text in a box. I feel comfortable with text in a box. I want something to read, not a few words ostentatiously presented. I don't need video embedding, or Twitterstream feedback, or "social gestures". JS-Kit assume that I do, indeed they're almost Tigger-like in their evangelistic zeal for the Echo system, but they're being woefully presumptive. I really don't want to switch to Echo, because it's over-fussy and over-complicated. I'm worried about the transition process, and concerned that embedding multimedia comments into this blog may not be practical. I fear that Echo is so complex and off-putting that many of you who comment now are never going to comment again. I'll switch if I absolutely have to, but I'd much rather find an alternative.
Alas, I'm not sure that there is an alternative. Most of the other old-school commenting systems that evolved around the same time as Haloscan have collapsed. Blogger's own commenting system doesn't allow imports, so I'd not be able to display past comments on 8 years of archived posts. There's a free comments service called Disqus, I believe, but that looks just as social-centric as Echo. I don't want to move everything I've ever written over to Wordpress because I'm happy with free and simple blogging. I just want to carry on as near as possible to how I have done in the past, however impossible that may be. I'm looking for a commenting lifeboat, but all I can see is JS-Kit's approaching pirate ship.
What really worries me is the possibility of permanent disappearance. If I don't act, I lose 4,326 comments. If other bloggers don't act, all their comments vanish too. There are hundreds of thousands of Haloscan-enabled legacy blogs out there, many written by people who've since passed on, whose comments will be extinguished overnight. If I don't pay Echo's subscription, for whatever reason, it's put up or shut up. There must be another way. I hope I find it, and soon, because the clock is ticking.
Having published the press release issued by friend Dan Quinn and his friend Dr.Andy Dean about the launch of their website Gunung Bagging, I figured I ought to go along on Saturday and lend my support.
After all, I have surmounted the crags, crannies and screes of a few here in Indonesia, in England and France. I've also spent a couple of months in Ladakh in north-west India, nestling at c.4,000m in the foothills of the Karakoram range of the Himalayas. I may be passed my peak(s) now, but there are few greater delights than watching the sun rise over the land below.
Any one who has spent any time in Jakarta treasures the rare days, usually at the beginning of the rainy season when the perpetual pollution clears, when the surrounding mountains can be made out in the distance and we wish we were there.
The venue was the Eastern Promise in the upmarket enclave of Kemang. It had more expats in one place than I've seen in a very long while, but not all of them were there for the site launch. Those of us who had made the effort to get there through the storm which flooded the street outside were treated to a very professional presentation, evidence of the guys' love for exploring Indonesia's stunning landscape, much of it still unexplored.
There are a number of comprehensive guides to peaks elsewhere. A hundred and fifty years or so ago, Sir Hector Munro published a guide to those in Scotland. Of more recent vintage, mine, Alfred Wainwright published a series of treasurable handwritten illustrated guides to the climbable trails in the Lake District of NW England.
But that was all before the dawn of the internet age. The Gunung Bagging site uses a Wordpress blogging template, suitably customised to allow contributions and information updates. Google Maps, based on data collected by NASA's Space Shuttle, are used to show the 'prominence' (significance) of each peak within a given area, their elevations, contours, routes to the top and other essential information.
Practical advice is given, such as what to wear and carry, where to start hiking and where to hire porters - presumably for the relatively difficult, inaccessible and lengthier climbs.
This is a site for all who want to experience Indonesia's great outdoors. For some it means 'bagging' the most peaks and joining a 'Hall of Fame', yet for those of us who are less interested in ticking a list, it's a self help guide.
Naturally, even after six months hard graft setting the site up in non-work time, there are many gaps. The internet is a universal tool, even in Indonesia, so contributions of comments, photos, additional information about recent changes - Indonesia's mountains are volcanic after all - and even the best local lodgings, are all to be welcomed.
Gunung Bagging is a labour of love, a not-for-profit enterprise, The guys deserve (y)our support. ........................... For organised mountain treks, visit Java Lava.
Jakartass has and hasn't been out and about in the past week. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the reformed Java Jazz play on Thursday, but as I get a mention in Er Audy Zandri's review in the Post, this is my edit of it.
(Long-term readers may recall that Audy got an honourable mention in my review last year.of simakDialog's launch of their most recent album Demi Masa.) ...................................... JavaJazz Returns
Er Audy Zandri/The Jakarta Post
It was Thursday 8:30 p.m. and the many seats in front of the giant stage at Graha Bhakti Budaya, Taman Ismail Marzuki, including those in the balcony, were filled with celebrities and die hard jazz fans.
Although most willing to attend, noted local blogger Jakartass wrote to me that according to WartaJazz, the tickets were sold out.
“It was sold out. The thing is, WartaJazz only sold tickets for the best seats, and since it’s a highly anticipated concert, the demand was tremendous,” said Agus Setiawan Basuni from WartaJazz.
Priced at Rp.150,000 and Rp.100,000 for balcony seats - quite expensive for a jazz concert - all those sold at the ticket booth quickly ran out. At about 8:45 p.m., the audience was ready with their D-SLR cameras hungry for shots.
Starting with a two-minute flashback video of Java Jazz, Gilang Ramadhan put a single hit on his drum to signal the beginning of the concert, quickly snatched by Dewa Budjana’s heavily distorted riffs on the guitar.
Indra Lesmana, sitting to the left surrounded by piles of keyboards, got busy filling the lead while Donny Suhendra on the far left thickened Budjana’s riffs, creating more-rock-than-jazz influenced duotones. Drama was in the air, and Mates was keeping the herd in line with his deep fretless bass sound.
The five jazz masters were on their own, both in attire and musical color, with vast squares of white sheets spread at their feet.
“We never try to limit each member’s musical aspiration,” said Indra when asked about Budjana’s rock induced playing.
The audience gazed at the remnants of JavaJazz, the legendary jazz fusion band that broke musical boundaries back in the nineties. Of the eleven tunes played, six were newly refined versions of tracks found on their previous two releases, Bulan Di Asia (often mistakenly called Bulan Di Atas Asia) from 1994 and Sabda Prana (1998), while the remaining five songs are to be found on their most recent album, Joy Joy Joy, released this year.
The untimely death of Embong Raharjo in 2001 lead Java Jazz to disband and the remaining members to pursue solo careers.
“Today, we’re playing to remember Embong. Not with sadness, but a celebration of his life,” said Indra backstage.
Donny added,.“Embong’s position is irreplaceable. Budjana is here to fill the gap, but even he was a member.”
And Budjana really adds the spice to the new JavaJazz. Deploying both banjo and acoustic guitar alongside his signature Parker, Embong signature tunes Lembah and Bulan Di Atas Asia are now filled with Minang influences, while Border Line from the new album revealed Budjana’s familiar riffs as found in Kromatik Lagi.
Yet JavaJazz cannot be separated from the ingenuity of the busy drummer Gilang Ramadhan, Mates on the low bass notes and the soft yet slicing tones of Donny.
We paid attention to the way Bulan Di Atas Asia was played without Embong, allowing Indra’s keyboard and Budjana’s banjo to differently color the happy atmosphere of the song’s verse. And when both Gilang and Mates lowered the tempo to let the dreamy part of the song flow, Donny stepped up, closing his eyes to take the audience up to moonlit skies. Gentle picking on his strings released a touch of clouds, and with indescribable tones he elevated the song into a heartfelt journey, from an almost sad one into a glorified new beginning.
The concert ended at about 10:30 p.m. When asked how they felt about their performance that night, all agreed that it was “not bad”. For them it was, but for us it was a relief after 11 years of waiting in despair and uncertainty for their renewal.
Actually, it isn't as I can't stand artificial meat. What's the point of it, eh? You either eat meat or you don't.
And I don't, not because I can't afford it but because I don't like it. I will if I have to, but generally I don't.
I was raised a vegetarian and still hanker after some of the meals my mother cooked. That was in the post-war era of food rationing, when the only processed food that I recall was Spam and, possibly those plastic cheese slices still krafted.
You didn't see many overweight folk around then because, well, we had balanced diets, food wasn't contaminated with overloads of sugar and salt, fat, and artificial colorants and flavourings, and by-and-large, food was sourced locally.
Our carbon footprints were small because we generally used public transport. Mind you, the London smogs were lethal thanks to the coal industry and Britain's industrial base. Not for nothing was the Midlands called the Black Country, and everyone seemed to smoke full-strength filterless ciggies or, like my father, a pipe.
I know I've said all this before, but it's worth saying again because every time the notion of vegetaianism crops up in the (British) media, out come the crypto-fascist trolls. Actually, that's what they call advocates of eating less, yet enough, fruit and vegetables.
An article in the Guardian, Eat Less Meat, has really got them going, probably because it's about a report by the government's independent advisory body on sustainability, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), which calls for radical changes in patterns of consumption.
To me it makes absolute sense to use agricultural land for growing food crops for humans rather than grain to feed animals. It also makes sense to produce for one's needs rather than having mountains of over-produced food thrown away.
You may not agree, so here are a couple of articles which should appeal to your - erm - tastes. Before you read them, though, here's a question for you: would you be prepared to kill and butcher an animal before cooking it?
Fellow expat blogger, newspaper columnist and friend Simon Pitchforth says this: "It depresses me ... that intelligent debate often loses out to personal digs."
Yeah, me too Simon, but this is a personal dig at Samuel Kurniawan for his inane comment: I have often wondered what planet "Jakartass" exists on because so often it shows naivety and such a limited understanding of Jakarta and beyond.
I don't have to and perhaps shouldn't respond, but, hey SK, you've got under my skin. It's your choice to come here. I didn't ask or force you to. You have the right to articulate your own perceptions of life in "Jakarta and beyond". So why don't you? Could it be because you have nothing to say, at least in a meaningful way?
As I have noted before, I write primarily for me. That Jakartass has a 'community' of followers and subscribers, and that Jakartass is in every list of the top ten blogs in Indonesia (and currently the top ranked English language blog), is an indication that my perception of local happenings strikes a chord. I believe that is also why I was invited to rewrite - another plug ahoy - Culture Shock! Jakarta.
I welcome debate, especially when it stays on topic. Occasionally it leads me down unexpected paths, but that is a reflection of the dynamics of social intercourse.
However personal digs add nothing to anything and smack of immaturity. You are welcome to disagree with my opinions or errors of fact, but in writing about the new Traffic Law I highlighted some of the new regulations which had been published by media staffed by paid journalists who are under professional obligations to report the 'truth'.
I'm not under that obligation, but I do my best to be 'honest' and at all times strive to be balanced and fair in my writing. I have earned respect for that, Samuel, and that is sufficient reward. I haven't (yet) accepted any of the many offers I've received to monetise Jakartass and, you'll note, that I don't carry Google ads.
What you get is pure me, rants and all.
And here endeth one such rant. ..................................... Which one of these are you SK? If you hadn't had the courtesy to input your email address, I'd probably have banned you.
That's my sister's name, but I have no beef with her and this post has absolutely no connection with her or my vegetarianism but with frivolous legal actions.
I was tempted to include Omni Hospital/Hotel's claim for defamation damages in that list, but won't because obviously the public have taken it so seriously that more than double the claimed amount of Rp.204 million (US$21,640) has been raised through small and large donations.
What's more, a mediation process has resulted in a possible settlement whereby she doesn't have to give a written apology. Both sides have to "demonstrate respect and forgive each other."
What happens to the money is another matter. It's my understanding that her lawyers are acting on a pro bono (free) basis, so perhaps the fund can be set aside for a community health care programme which emphasises prevention rather than dodgy 'cures'.
Some could also be set aside for me because, as an English language 'consultant', I'm not sure that I can forgive Omni for offering "fake" legs to poor handicapped (legicapped?) folk. I'd certainly be prepared to accept their apology if they pay me enough to rewrite the English pages of their website.
Other claims for compensation are mentioned in today's Post. The widows of a number of Indonesian men executed by Dutch soldiers in Indonesia 62 years ago have served a summon on the Netherlands to recognize the wrongful executions, and providefinancial compensation. .
On December 9, 1947, Dutch troops attacked the village of Rawagedeh in West Java and hundreds of villagers were executed along with prisoners and refugees. The victims argue that the Netherlands reasonably could not invoke the statute of limitations. Claims of Second World War are still being handled.
Of more recent vintage, and still current, the National Commission for Human Rights (KOMNAS HAM) has once again, as I have, urged the government to pay the agreed compensation to the Sidoarjo mudflow refugees.
But, as I said, this post is about frivolous legal actions and what caught my eye is the tale of Spain's pistol-carrying Guardia Civil police force descending on the Sigüenza Jazz festival to investigate allegations that "fine musician and very well-renowned" Larry Ochs's music was not, well, jazz.
Jazz lover that I am, I confess that I cannot comment on Och's music as until today I don't think I've ever heard of him. Sorry, Larry, don't sue me, but if you'd like to send me a complimentary CD .....
Jazz is very much a personal matter, but I take it to mean improvised music loosely based around a theme in which musicians interact, and hopefully demonstrate a synergy. They may well have rehearsed, but I wouldn't want to hear repeat performances.
Festival director, Ricardo Checa, said, "The question of what constitutes jazz and what does not is obviously a subjective one, but not everything is New Orleans funeral music.
"Larry Ochs plays contemporary, creative jazz."
A judge will examine the complaint. I look forward to reading the final judgement and to investigating whether a precedent has been set. If so, perhaps I could sue the organisers of the recent Jakarta International Blues Festival. We didn't hear any blues and like the Spanish jazz fan, we could claim that our doctor had warned us that it was "psychologically inadvisable" for us to listen to anything that could be mistaken for mere contemporary music.
We could claim that, but we were only there for the beer.
The other morning I set off on my taxi commute in an Indah taxi, a bright shiny sweet smelling brand new car with ample legroom. I hoped he would be one of the 50% of the drivers of the Famili Indah, Indah Famili, Indah, Famili group of taxis who know where they're going. Maybe he did, but I didn't find out because he told me he wanted to go somewhere else and politely told me to get out and get in a conveniently parked dark blue Famili taxi just up the road.
And, lo, the grandfatherly driver knew precisely where I wanted to go and we went smoothly along the toll road. This is another rarity because having a westerner in the back street seems to be an opportunity for drivers to demonstrate as they weave past the trundling trucks that they'd prefer to be driving on the race circuit at Sentul. I generally make vomitting noises as an indication that I'm beginning to suffer motion sickness akin to mal de mer.
But this particular journey turned out to be memorable for positive reasons. Bapak's phone rang three times - and all he did was to switch it off. Not once did he take his eyes off the road. Not once. I gave him a generous trip upon my arrival and he wished me selamat tugas - have a nice day.
A week or so earlier, my driver did answer an incoming call, from his wife he said. I angrily responded that I had a wife to think about too and I didn't want her thinking about my death caused by his utter stupidity. Hey bodoh, fokus on the road, I shouted at him.
Yes, mister, sorry mister, he said, and placed his phone on the passenger seat beside him. (I always sit in the back as I think it's possibly safer.) The phone rang again, a different ringtone indicating an incoming SMS. He took one hand off the wheel and leant over to read his message.
I grabbed his phone and wound down my window as if .....
I think he got my message, so I told him that I'd return the phone when we arrived and he had parked where he could safely read his probably unimportant message. Personally I didn't care if he killed himself, but as there's usually collateral damage in road accidents, the very least he could do was to think about the safety of his passengers.
I occasionally have to use an ojek, one of the unregulated motorcycle taxis which took the place of the non-polluting becak, the pedalled tricycles which were banned from Jakarta's streets a dozen years ago on the grounds that they were demeaning to the 'drivers' and, furthermore, caused traffic jams. (Pause here for a sardonic guffaw.). The other day I couldn't believe it when my driver answered a call whilst continuing to drive his Kawasaki with one hand. And he didn't understand me when I suggested that he ought to change his brand of bike to a Kamikazi.
Is it any wonder that nigh on 700 motorcyclists and passengers were killed on Jakarta's streets in the first six months of this year?
I suppose we should be grateful that a new Traffic Law was enacted a month or so ago, not that I can see any mention of handphone usage. It updates and replaces the Traffic Law of 1992 when there weren't many phone lines, let alone mobile phones, or motorcycles.
A number of new regulations are welcome, particularly those concerning public buses. Their drivers may now only pick up and drop off passengers at designated bus stops. They must also keep their doors shut when in transit. And trucks can no longer be used to carry passengers, a common sight in the remoter rural districts.
Also, any motorcyclist with more than one passenger can now be charged. The law states that they 'will' be charged, but one suspects that the practice will continue of paying an on-the-spot 'fines' to whichever policeman is on the spot at the time.
A major change is that although drivers of unroadworthy vehicles face punishments, those local administrations responsible for road maintenance are now also responsible for road safety. They can be charged if road conditions in their care cause a traffic accident.
What is sorely needed is what is termed 'socialisation' of the law. I know no-one who has ever seen a copy of Indonesia's Highway Code - my version can be read here - but perhaps now is the time to start issuing them and enforcing regular knowledge tests, perhaps every five years when driving and/or vehicle licences are renewed.
The traffic police are about to get a salary raise, so I forlornly hope they are also given these tests and are then able to rigorously enforce the rules. ............................................... This is another rejected article submitted to the Jakarta Globe for their Piece of Mind series. They have, however, published their series of My Jakarta interviews and purchasers of the book (from Times Bookshops) can get a copy for a mere Rp.70,000. Having already autographed a copy or two, I'll happily do the same for you.
But I do wish they'd asked for my permission first.
Today could be one of the most important days in the modern history of Indonesia.
Cities throughout the country will see massive anti-korupsi demonstrations which have been largely provoked by the excesses of the political and business elite in league with the military and police i.e. the remnants of Suharto's New Order.
It's not just the big cases which have stirred up the masses - the attempts to emasculate the Corruption Eradication Commission and, still ongoing, the bailout of Bank Century.
The public have sided with victimised rakyat, the 'little' people - the grandmother who 'stole three cacao pods, the two farmers accused of stealing one watermelon ... and the list goes on.
Regarding the Prita case, the it's encouraging that all sectors of society are donating to the appeal for coins launched on her behalf.. The Post reported yesterday today that scavengers have banded together to contribute from their minimal incomes, and today that the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) has collected Rp.70 million.
I am encouraged, excited even, that the public, with the support of the media and using the tools of the internet is stirring and demonstrating for an equitable and fair society.
Reformasi is, at last, taking hold. Rather than the sham of the electoral process, this is what I understand to be true democracy.
Unless you're injured and think you need an X-ray or patching up having suffered an injury, you are only likely to visit a doctor if you are suffering from unexplainable symptoms, unless, of course, you're a hypochondriac. Generally, though, visiting a doctor is a matter of trust. Willing or unwilling, you place your life in another's hands.
Given that practitioners of western medicine have to undergo many years of training, with regular ongoing training as the accoutrements of their discipline 'advance', it would seem reasonable to expect a level of expertise, competence even, from the medical profession beyond that required from other professions which do not have the everyday power to affect your physical well-being.
It's also a given right to seek second opinions or, as happened to me some years ago, a third.
That was when I broke both elbows in a fall - the circumstances are not that important, merely embarrassing. I ended up with with my arms in slings (which made visits to the toilet a matrimonial matter). The first doctor advised me to not move them. The second doctor advised me to move them as much as possible (which pushed me through the pain barrier).
The third doctor advised me to do what I had already decided to do - to move them upto but not beyond what was bearable.
I'm not going to name the hospital because it doesn't really matter now. Besides, I have never really trusted the medical profession. I knew about staff shortages, the high incidence of patients suffering botched operations and wrong diagnoses, or contracting infections - because they were in hospital.
More recently, a study(.pdf)finds that about 1.24 million patient safety incidents occurred in the USA between 2002 and 2004, compared with 1.14 million between 2000 and 2002, at a cost of $9.3 billion.
In the UK, National Health Service (NHS) records show that 3,645 people died as a result of "patient safety incidents" - including botched operations and the outbreak of infections - between April 2007 and March 2008. The figure was 1,370 higher than two years earlier.
Patient groups have warned that the true toll is likely to be higher because some hospitals do not record all incidents.
From April 2010, all 400 NHS trusts in England – hospitals, primary care trusts, mental health services and ambulance services – will have to log every time a patient is harmed or dies while receiving treatment. Ministers have decided to impose a legally binding duty of openness on the NHS across England in an attempt to improve patient safety. NHS organisations will have to detail every mistake, accident and incident that has led to a patient suffering pain, trauma, injury or death.
They will have to report to the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) "without delay" all incidents in which a patient has suffered an injury that has impaired their sensory, motor or intellectual functions; changed the structure of their body; involved prolonged pain or psychological harm; reduced their life expectancy; or caused their death. Penalties for failure to comply will range from warning notices and instant £4,000 fines to the risk of prosecution.
It's that "legally binding duty of openness" which is needed here. If it existed, then the immense mental trauma which Prita Mulyasari is currently going through could have been avoided.
That the Omni Hospital couldn't correctly diagnose that she had mumps rather than dengue fever, an infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes, is regrettable, and possibly inexcusable given that both are common here. Having had the wrong treatment for six days, her condition kept getting worse: her neck, left hand and left eye swelled and she had trouble breathing. So she transferred herself to another hospital and quickly recovered her health.
Her problems began when she circulated an email to friends detailing her recent troubles, including the fact that Omni Hospital refused to hand her copies of the results of the blood tests she had been given which resulted in the wrong diagnosis and that they were generally uncommunicative with her.
That her missive was passed on has resulted in two cases being brought - one a civil case by Omni Hospital alleging defamation (and a criminal case with a maximum penalty of four years imprisonment which has been dropped) and the other a criminal case brought under the recently enacted Information and Electronic Transaction Law, which opponents fear is being used by the state to clamp down on free expression.
Interestingly, her email was circulated by Juniwati Gunawan, the director of Bintaro International Hospital (RSIB) where she was successfully treated.
Juniwati told the court, “There are 30 supervisors at RSIB. I hope that after reading Prita’s complaints about Omni they will improve their service and pay more attention to patients.”
On Wednesday, Prita was found guilty of defamation in the Banten High Court and fined Rp.204 million (US$ 21,640) in damages. She said she will take her appeal to the Supreme Court.
She said, "I do not agree with the court ruling, but it happened anyway. We will just continue our fight."
The good news is that an appeal has been launched to raise the money, although I do feel this is premature. After all, if I won, so can she. What is more, her lawyers say they have new evidence, pictures of her deterioration during her stay in Omni hospital (stroke hotel/ mall/ fitness centre), which they will submit to the appeal court along with a claim for compensation of Rp.113 million for the losses incurred during that time and another Rp.1 trillion in damages.
But I am puzzled as to how a civil case can be settled before a criminal case related to the same issues. I hope Rob Baiton who has been following the various legal aspects of her case can further enlighten us.
Omni Hospital say that they would not push for the 'compensation' if Prita gives them a written apology. However, she and her many thousands of supporters (including this writer) feel that it is Omni who owe her one. And the rest of us.
As I said, with a couple of edits, about Adam Air a year before one of their planes disappeared off the radar screens, if [Omni] couldn't give a sh*t about a simple thing like proofreading, then what are the odds that they cut corners on [patient] maintenance?
A cursory read of Omni's 'Contact Us' page certainly does not inspire confidence.
For Corporate Social Responsible activities, Omni International Hospital-Alam Sutera is always active participate in any kind of public healthcare service, like conducting charity event by giving free consultation and 1000 fake legs for poor people cooperation with MetroTV (Indonesian News TV). For Public Health Education, Omni International Hospital-Alam Sutera affiliated with Media Indonesia (Indonesian Newspaper) organize social education about the danger of Drugs and other social activities.
The medical profession should still be deserving of our respect and trust but I do feel that one day it will be necessary, and a great shame, for Indonesia to introduce its own National Patient Safety Agency.
Still, just as long as the Indonesian acronym isn't OMNI ...... ....................................................... The legal cases against Prita are explained well on Eye On Ethics. Background to the ownership of Omni hospital is here.
I could be the catalyst that sparks the revolution I could be an inmate in a long-term institution I could dream to wide extremes, I could do or die I could yawn and be withdrawn and watch the world go by What a waste! Ian Dury
Yep, we could be anything if we put our minds to it, but where are the minds, eh?
SBY's new government ministers seem intent in publicising their programmes, probably because they've been told by him to do something in the first 100 days. There may be long-term plans but what we are getting are short-term palliatives. It might be apt to suggest that our newly co-opted leaders are having visions; they are now, after all, inmates "in a long-term institution", one which is a continuation of the Suharto era.
Like Ozymandias, they are happier planning mega projects, monuments to themselves, than dealing with the nitty-gritty details of daily life.
This is presumably why State Research and Technology Minister Suharna Surapranata has announced that because there are power cuts, Indonesia is going ahead with the construction of a nuclear power station.
Rejections of the plan to build the nuclear plant have come not only from people living around Muria Peninsula, but also from others. Concerns have been raised over Indonesia's ability to operate a nuclear power station; the site's vulnerability to earthquakes; and possible leakage.
Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten) head As Natio Lasman, however, said that the National Atomic Energy Agency (Batan), who are expected to run the power plant once it opens in 2016, had gained experience in running its nuclear research reactor, which had won praise from international nuclear experts.
On fears of a repeat of the Chernobyl disaster, Natio said nuclear technology had advanced and guaranteed better safety and security.
Yes, nuclear technology has advanced so much that in Britain , plans to replace old atomic and coal plants have been put on hold because the main safety regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said it could not recommend plans for new reactors because of wide-ranging concerns about their safety.
The HSE has to approve the safety of the designs before they can be built. "We have identified a significant number of issues with the safety features of the design that would first have to be progressed. If these are not progressed satisfactorily then we would not issue a design acceptance confirmation," the agency concluded following a study of the latest French EPR and US AP1000 reactor designs.
Kevin Allars, director of new build at the HSE, admitted frustration that the design assessment process was already behind schedule owing to insufficient information from the companies promoting the reactors and a lack of enough trained staff in his own directorate.
If France, the USA and the UK can't get their nuclear energy programmes together, what chance Indonesia, eh?
And, as I have consistently argued, my implacable opposition to the nuclear power industry is that not one country, let alone Indonesia, has satisfactorily resolved the matter of securing the radioactive waste for at least 100,000 years. Perhaps it doesn't really matter, though, because the way the human race is committing collective suicide we must hope that Mother Nature will cope, if only for the cockroaches which will remain in 102,009 AD.
Cockroaches do like waste, and the Jakarta administration is to be applauded for encouraging them.
Explaining why not all Jakarta's rubbish doesn't get collected and dumped, head of the Jakarta Sanitation Agency Eko Bharuna said the city’s rivers were getting narrower and shallower due to frequent littering.
Eko (Echo?) also said that many city residents threw their garbage in the river because of poor trashmanagement.
“In every subdistrict, there should be transit points in which local garbage men store their garbage before it is transported by my agency’s garbage trucks. He admitted that such problems might have occurred as his agency had a shortage of garbage trucks.
“We only have 841 garbage trucks and 40 percent of them have been operating for more than 14 years.
Meanwhile, as Jakarta continues to sink below ever encroaching floods, the administration is going ahead with plans to build elevated toll roads through the city.
Presumably these capital intensive monuments to grandiose incompetence will be very popular with tourists who, like me, will continue to look down, admire the accumulated garbage, yawn and withdraw.
It doesn't seem fair to castigate Indonesian bureaucrats and politicians all the time, so, with acknowledgements to the very wonderful J-Walk blog for the first two items, I figured I'd start with a bit of Obama bashing.
As he justified sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan at a cost of $30 billion a year, President Barack Obama's description Tuesday of the al Qaeda "cancer" in that country left out one key fact: U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country.
With 100,000 troops in Afghanistan at an estimated yearly cost of $30 billion, it means that for every one al Qaeda fighter, the U.S. will commit 1,000 troops and $300 million a year.
The article doesn't give the number of Taliban combatants.
Sticking to the militarist theme for the moment, I have a standard Swiss army knife, most useful for all those little household chores which one seems to have when out of town. That it is also (not) a terrorist's weapon of choice means that when travelling by plane such gadgets need to be left with security personnel whilst en route and collected at the other end. All very time consuming, especially when confronted with the scenario which I once faced when I was in Batam airport before taking the ferry to Singapore. On that occasion I was further delayed because the gentleman in front of me in the queue had to reassemble and reload his machine gun.
I felt quite insignificant. However, if I'd had this ....
Tragic though these are, when asked if the police could take preventative measures - though surely that's the responsibility of the malls - the City Police spokesman, Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar, said perceptively that they couldn't.
Why? Because "suicide is a personal matter."
Someone showing a more caring attitude is Armando Siahaan who says that the (first two) suicides "demonstrate the dangers of Twitter journalism".
It started with mismatching details over the person’s identity... Even more disturbing, people posted real-time pictures of the (first) victim. On Twitter, a conspiracy theory emerged: the suicides were intertwined, some sort of re-enactment of Romeo and Juliet eternalizing their love through death, or at least something along that line.
But even more alarming were some of the comments. There were sick jokes about how the victims took the “shop till you drop” motto too literally and that the malls should hold “Suicide Sales,” comments from people wanting to see a movie called “Hantu Grand Indonesia” (“Ghost of Grand Indonesia”) and one non-Jakarta user who wrote that Jakarta kids are so “gaul” (“sociable”) that they have to die inside a mall.
The last point I want to raise is the stupid and demeaning comments written by some Twitter users ... for some people, web sites like Twitter are their main, if not only, source of information.
I can but agree, but I'm not sure that "internet-savvy" Tifatul Sembiring, recently installed as Communication and Information Technology Minister, does. He recently stirred up the country by suggesting that the regular occurrence of natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis are a demonstration that Allah is displeased at the lack of piety shown by the victims. This provoked such tweeted questions as "did it mean that the people in Padang and Aceh had the worst morals?”
Happy to face up to such criticism, he is now offering free cellphones for the best responses on his Twitter account.
The latest winner, who actually refused the 'prize' of a Nokia phone, posted the following: “The Nazis are now spelled PKS (the political party founded by Tifatul) and Tifsembiring is the Joseph Goebbels of our time.” (The other two nominees sharply criticized Tifatul for blocking Blogger.)
I don't have a Twitter account, so it's probably not worth my while to denigrate this master of miscommunication.
When I started Jakartass five and a half years ago, London blogger Diamond Geezer was one of my inspirations. His main focus is 'life in London' and for me he remains indispensable - because I'm a fourth generation (and probably more) Londoner.
I did think of simply copying this post(20.11.09) of his because, other than he posts something every day, it exactly mirrors Jakartass.
As he says: Sometimes you can predict what I'm going to write about next, but usually you have no idea at all. That's because my chief raison d'être is that I write what I want to write, not what you want to read.
That said, what I do write obviously strikes a chord with folk who have a connection with Jakarta life. I have loyal readers, many who have bookmarked me, more who read my posts through the various feeds, and a regular group who leave comments and help initiate a discussion. Several of you send me links which add to my knowledge or, and I do like these, give me something to write about.
Before Jakartass, I painted - generally Indonesian landscapes. I may have sold one or two, but I have never painted in order to make money. Yet I know that some of my visual interpretations are scattered around the world, from Tasmania to Timbuktu - the last is a fantasy - because departing friends wanted a reminder of their time here and, hopefully, me.
Neither did I start blogging to make money, but for the same reason that I painted - because I needed to express myself - to myself.
I have received several invitations to earn a few dollars. The latest is an offer to write and publish a post about "online casino" and [they are] willing to pay 50 USD. Not a bad little earner, but gambling is a mug's game so don't expect me to loosen my fairly rigid moral uptightness any time soon.
A week or so ago, I asked for your views on whether I should become a 'stringer' for Asian Correspondent. No-one has said 'no' and this selection is supportive of my joining what I believe is an important and valid contribution to the dissemination of news and commentary.
1. Wow. It sounds quite promising I must say. 2. When it comes to up to the minute Jakarta/Indo analysis I don't think Jakartass can be beat. You are a writer. Go write. 3. Sounds great. Moreover, our colleague Jeff Ooi has already joined its contributor list. 4. Greetings from Africa. This looks like a good opportunity. If it is what they say it is - I would go for it. You need funds. To cover better Indonesia, you have to travel and someone (them) should be paying for it. 5. Congrats, you deserve it. If you decide to take the offer, I hope that you would remain objective and positive in writing about Indonesia.
However, it's not all black and white. As Patrick Guntensperger wrote to me, my concern is the notion that the blog should "remain objective and positive when writing about Indonesia". That's travel writing or cheerleading, and unfortunately the "objective and positive" guidelines are all too often self contradictory. When I get objective in many cases, I'm afraid the result is utterly negative.
I do not believe that AC would exercise editorial control. They have news feeds and their blogger-correspondents are as opinionated as I am. Let's face it, Indonesia is going through a crisis in moral and social stability. It's nigh on impossible to remain objective with all the shenanigans going on among 'our leaders', and hope is subjective.
For the time being, I have decided that in spite of comments such as those above (which are their own reward), for a couple of practical reasons I can't join AC on their terms.
I doubt that I can post five times a week as suggested by AC because I am 'in demand' for my language consultancy work - and I do need instant access to earned income.
Furthermore, I would have to write for a new 'constituency'. Unlike Jeff Ooi who parlayed his forthright blogging into a (Malaysian) parliamentary seat, I have no aspirations in a similar direction. If I have an aim in writing, it is to contribute to Indonesia's reformasi because this is the society I live in. I may occasionally ramble among the bare bones of my past, but generally as a counter-balance to current issues here.
Unless AC were to offer funds to support me as a roving reporter - unlikely in the extreme, but thanks to my reader in Africa for that idea - then Jakartass will continue as my personal and idiosyncratic (idiotic?) take on life in the Big Durian catering to a generally loyal and supportive readership.
However, I have written to AC suggesting that they let me contribute a weekly, or preferably bi-weekly, Jakarta-centric column, without giving me having to give up this site ....
(Incidentally, there are five 'Indonesia Correspondents' listed. None actually live here and they mainly write about happenings in Australia, India and the Philippines. If anyone is interested in joining AC, send an email to Sanj.)