News is just coming in of another earthquake off West Sumatra less than an hour ago. The TV reports are coming from Medan, way further up north where friends and family live. But we have yet to hear from Padang, the town most likely to have suffered severe damage in the 7.6 force quake.
A tsunami alert was later withdrawn. (Our thoughts go to those in the two Samoas who have lost loved ones in a tsunami generated by a 8.0-magnitude quake yesterday.)
"Hundreds of houses have been damaged along the road. There are some fires, bridges are cut and there is extreme panic here," said a Reuters witness in the city, who also said broken water pipes had triggered flooding.
His mobile phone was then cut off and officials said power had been severed in the city. A resident called Adi later told Indonesia's Metro Television there was devastation around him.
"For now I can't see dead bodies, just collapsed houses. Some half destroyed, others completely. People are standing around too scared to go back inside. They fear a tsunami," said Adi.
"No help has arrived yet. I can see small children standing around carrying blankets. Some people are looking for relatives but all the lights have gone out completely."
Online news agency Detik.com said a hospital and a large market had also been damaged in the city.
In my dressing down of the fashionistas in my last two posts, I stated the obvious: we wear clothes suitable for the different roles we play in our lives.
For example, I generally wore a suit in my many court appearances. I should point out that I was once charged with 'obstruction of the highway' after a demonstration, but I also made several court appearances as a lay advocate in civil cases involving 'squatters rights'. I felt that wearing a suit and tie gave me the required dignity and focus to articulate procedural matters and, thankfully, walk away having won on 'technical grounds'.
Children generally love dressing up, particularly if they adopt, say, the persona of Spiderman or Winnie the Pooh. Allowing children to exercise their fantasies is important in their development into responsible adults. I do not believe that describing girls as 'tomboys' or determining that 'pink is for girls and blue for boys' is beneficial, particularly in the early stages of that development
For a few, dressing up may lead to an actor's life with roles as diverse as Shakespeare and zombies.
For others, it may lead to an intrinsic lifestyle which some incorrectly term as a fetish. The closest I come to this is wearing a sarong, a long length of cloth wrapped around the waist, for bathroom visits. This is not to be confused with the sari worn by Indian women and, incidentally, the name of my sister-in-law. Nor am I referring to the sarung which is a sheath worn by Muslim men here in Indonesia and in Malaysia on their regular visits to the mosque.
Cross-dressing is generally thought of a trait of homosexuals and, in particular, tranvestites. Yet it is a multi-faceted subject. For example, Shakespeare and other dramatists cast men in women's roles, largely because women were not allowed to appear on stage. When used for dramatic or comedic effect - think Bugs Bunny in his (its?) attempts to deceive Elmer Fudd - there isn't a sexual connotation with a social stigma.
Here in Indonesia, banci (pron. banshee) are quite public, singing in the streets or in other performance acts and generally acceptable to the wider population. Read Dede Oetomo for an inside account of the growth of gay organisations and local perceptions of transgenderism.
The Indonesian criminal code was revised when the Dutch East Indies was a French colony under Napoleon, so we've never had to decriminalise homosexual acts.
If you want a more objective, academic approach, then a few pages of Framing the sexual subject: the politics of gender, sexuality, and power by Richard Guy Parker, Regina Maria Barbosa, Peter Aggleton can be read here.
And if you want something more convoluted on the topic, then try Cross-Dressing Across Cultures by Felicia Hughes-Freeland. This is the online Abstract.
This paper focuses on two cross-cultural projects involving Didik Nini Thowok, a cross-gendered and cross-cultural cosmopolitan who is the most popular* and successful professional dancer and comedian in Indonesia.
Felicia Hughes-Freeland analyses performances from an international dance tour of four Asian dancers in which Didik represented Indonesia, 'In Gesture and in Glance - The Female Role Player in Asian Dance and Theatre' (2003) to redress the neglect of theatrical performance in academic accounts of gender cultures and gender reversals.
I consider whether this tour reifies cross-dressing as Asian-ness, and whether it assert or subvert stereotypes of 'Asian theatre' by re-examining Asian female impersonation in relation to western drag in terms of theatrical skill and the production of an 'unnatural body'. The Chinese performance in the tour was by a star of yueju opera, normally performed by women, who performed dressed as a man to represent a female cross-dressed performer who represents a man.
Ignoring the grammatical and syntax errors, try and get your head around that last sentence.
The main criteria I have for my clothes choice is whether they fit my frame and are comfortable so you are unlikely to see me as anything but me. ......................................... *'Er Indoors has never heard of him.
I'm not very keen on footnotes, hence my title is a follow up and refers to yesterday's post.
As so often happens, the browsing of my favoured mainline online British media offers further thoughts and, although I readily admit to not being a dedicated follower of fashion - it's not one of my kinks - I do find narcissistic behaviour occasionally fascinating.
Apart from those who live in abject poverty and only have the clothes on their backs (and, hopefully fronts), we wear clothes suitable for the different roles we play as we go about our daily Iives. We are actors in our personal dramas and 'disguise' ourselves to suit the occasion. To don costumes to advertise our moods and declare "look at me, I'm wonderful" would suggest that fashionistas aren't happy in their own skins.
It's consumerism as identity.
It's not surprising therefore that religions are getting in on the act. Today's Observer has an article about a new to UK modelling agency Models of Life (MOL) which is the first organisation of its kind operating in Britain that seeks to mix Christianity and the catwalk.
"To be a model is to set an example," they say. "MOL aims to raise the standard of models to a new height: beauty achieved from the perfect balance and unity of spirit, mind, and physical body."
Sounds like bullshit to me and Laurie Kuhrt, chairman of the Association of Model Agents, which represents the UK's top agencies, agrees.
"If they're genuinely trying to make contact with people with a view to turning them into good, honest Christians, I don't have a problem with that," he said. "But modelling is not about exuding inner beauty, it is about selling goods and services. When we recruit people it's solely because we think they can do big advertisement campaigns and appear on catwalks. If they can't do that, we lose a lot of money."
Love Me, Love My Thing
Annisa S. Febrina is a journalist fairly new to the Jakarta Post whose articles are generally interesting because she writes well and about interesting topics. That is why I found myself reading about shopping, a topic which I'd didn't realise I could be attracted to until I came to the ending of her article in which she quotes American sociology professor Harvey Molotch, known for studies that have reconceptualized power relations in interaction, the mass media, and the city.
About shopping he says that in displaying their consumption aspirations and accomplishments, individuals exhibit to one another and confirm for themselves they belong to particular groups.
Annisa also quotes a writer called Daniel Miller, though which one I'm not sure. Whoever he is, he amplified Molotch by saying this about buying goods at a shopping centre:
"The bulk of provisioning an ongoing relationship, an underlying constancy complemented by a mood, a compromise, a smile, a punishment gesture, a comfort, all the minutiae that make up the constantly changing nuances of a social relationship".
In other words,"Objects are social relations made durable."
Fellow expat blogger Unspun thinks, tongue firmly in cheek, that if we look hard enough we can find meaningful messages and great insights between the clothes, handbags, shoes and watch advertisements that mortals like us cannot afford.
And this is part of what he found: Today, mankind does not live on bread and water alone but exists on an unyielding pursuit of utter contentment through acquisitions of luxurious goods and lifestyles.
Sad, really, but there is a choice.
In a truly socialist, even communist, world where conformity is a valued discipline - not that I'm advocating one - we would all wear utilitarian uniforms. I'd quite like a jedi robe and here's how to make your own.
Mrs.Obama wore a sleeveless cocktail dress, patterned in taupe, pink and green, accented with a long string of pearls and pearl earrings. She wore a pair of pink patent leather heels and style her hair in a fluffy ponytail.
Mrs. SBY was seated next to Mrs.Obama at the dinner hosted yesterday for G20 spouses, but the report doesn't say whether she was dressed as an ibu in the Indonesian formal style of heavily laquered hair and corsetted clothes as she is in the picture on the left. For some reason the series of formal and informal photos in the Guardian don't include Indonesia's representatives on the world stage.
Still, no matter as I'm not one of those style gurus who has to note every detail of someone else's clobber. Mind you, I did have to to check the meaning of taupe - if you're interested, it's the colour of moleskin, a greyish brown. . I have one of those frames which aren't catered for by mass-production clothing companies. When I lived in London I would occasionally buy jackets from a chain of shops called High and Mighty, a name which friends thought, satirically I hope, suited me well. I would also frequent jumble (rummage) sales so for a while, in winter, I wore a Czechoslovakian army greatcoat which reached my ankles and occasionally served as a blanket.
I also once found an old RAF (air force) jacket which fitted perfectly although maybe I should have unstitched the ranking stripes on the sleeves. One day on a train in North Wales which passed an RAF camp I found myself to be the highest ranking officer on board.
This is unlikely to happen here in Jakarta. I don't have a uniform and I can rarely find anything that fits. Even triple XXL shirts are too short in the sleeves so I generally stock up on casual shirts when I go to Bali because they're used to Aussie visitors. For work purposes, a number of back street tailors near Jakartass Towers have my measurements and supply my needs quite well, but I do have a perennial problem with shoes.
Strangely, I can find shoes my size easier in Singapore. What is really strange is that they're generally made in Indonesia, possibly by Nike who have sweat shops in Tangerang.
In 1997, Jim Keady, a soccer coach at St. John’s University, said no to taking part in a $3.5 million dollar deal to endorse Nike products because of Nike’s use of sweatshop labor. He was forced out of his job and outcast from the coaching ranks. People told him that he didn’t know what he was talking about, that work in a Nike factory was a “great job for those people.”
In the summer of 2000, he went to find out for himself. To gain a more human perspective on the lives of Nike’s factory workers, Keady and a friend lived for one month in an Indonesian slum on the wages that workers are paid - $1.25 a day. In the process, they encountered the local mafia, intimidation, starvation, football-sized rats, fist-sized cockroaches, raw sewage in the streets, massive burning of toxic shoe rubber, corporate complicity and cover-up.
They discovered the reality of U.S. multinational corporations' labor practices in the developing world and how Nike's cutthroat, bottom-line economic decisions have a profound effect on human lives.
And they've now made a documentary, SWEAT, which includes interviews with Indonesian workers producing for Nike, Adidas, and the Gap, and former Indonesian President, Abdurrahman Wahid.
This being a hotter country than most, I wear a T-shirt around the house. I used to buy them in Bali for the reason stated above but now there is a source closer to home - in Pasar Senen to be precise. They are really good quality, incredibly cheap at Rp.15,000 (c.$1.5) and, as 'Er Indoors respects my wishes, aren't decorated with advertising.
What I try to understand is why they are made in countries such as El Salvador and Nicaragua from cotton grown in the USA, yet end up half way round the world.
Pietra Rivoli, author of The Travels of a T-Shirt in a Global Economy, who hasn't included the carbon footprint of the global chain which produces them, says that the process enables those at the end of the production line to be "liberated by life in a sweatshop."
That is absolute bullshit and, yes, I do feel guilty about wearing 'the fruit of the loom'. That's why you won't see me wearing one outside Jakartass Towers.
Neither will you find me toting a bag emblazoned with Channel, Louis Vuitton, Dolce Gabbana, Versace, Delia Von Rueti, Nilou, Sabbatha, or Bagteria.
According to Indonesian blogger Akhyari, the last four are Indonesian brand which currently known world wide as luxurious life style items.
The campaign reaches out to fashion and luxury product companies who use paper packaging such as shopping bags that are made of the tree pulp from endangered tropical rainforests in Indonesia. Driven by market demand from the United States, the rapid destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests is causing massive global greenhouse gas emissions, destroying Indigenous communities, threatening unique ecosystems and pushing species like orangutans and Sumatran tigers to extinction.
It's not as if this is new news, but given that it is conspicuous consumption which is the root cause of environmental destruction, any action taken by those who have most to give, but generally don't, is to be applauded, even if it's a mere fashion statement.
Below this preface are the opening two paragraphs of a news item in the UK Daily Telegraph, formerly a right wing, establishment (élite) broadsheet. Judging by the first paragraph and the many comments following the article, it is now a rabid republican rag.
Prince Charles, 62 (or is he 63?), who has two Jaguars, two Audis, a Range Rover and still drives an Aston Martin given to him by the Queen on his 21st birthday, said developers had a duty to put public transport and the pedestrian at the heart of their housing schemes.
Speaking about the “domination of the car over the pedestrian”, the future King said: “We must surely be able to organise ourselves... in ways in which we are not dependent on it to such a great extent for our daily needs."
This is plain common sense. A bus which takes the road space of two cars, assuming they keep minimal distance between them, can carry 60 or so passengers who would otherwise be seated in, say, 12 cars, 10 people carriers such as the ubiquitous Toyota Kijang or four over-crowded mikrolets.
In England it's mainly country lanes which don't have raised wheelchair user-friendly sidewalks. He therefore makes the assumption that space is provided for pedestrians.
I doubt that Jakarta's Governor Fuzzy Bodoh will read this or be alerted to the bonnie prince's speech, but if any of you have his ear, please extend to him an invitation to take a brief walk with me along virtually any jalan raya (main road) in Jakarta so he can (finally) learn at first hand what it means to be a Jakartan.
I don't have to invite Charles because he already understands.
How kind, I thought, then I thought again. Apart from jakartass.net and, I think, jakartass.co.uk, I've also registered Jakartass on a number of free blogging platforms such as WordPress and Multiply, so I don't really need a dot com.
If anyone else wants it, they'll have a hard time doing anything with it because I am the one and only Jakartass and have been for five and a half years and nigh on 1,500 posts. You wouldn't be able to make any money out of it either.
However, I love this sales pitch: This domain has been flagged as a premium domain and we expect it to sell quickly.
I somehow doubt that, but if anyone cares to give me an early birthday present .......
Once again I've amended my links, but not merely because they link here ~ only one does.
Naz lives in Vestlandet, Norway, is married, as far as I can tell, to a Scottish expat and is an "incurable juggler who crosses the street to walk in the sunshine". Her writing reflects this. As far as I can tell, she's Malaysian, but as I might be wrong I've included her blog in my Indonesian expat list.
I dropped Yosef Ardi some time ago when he sought to monetise his blog. Thankfully for my wallet, he's back, not charging a fee and continuing to chronicle business deals and, of much more interest to me, shady shenanigans.
I've also re-added Inspector Sands to my Charlton Athletic list. I've no idea why or when I dropped his match reports, but now that we are doing well, it's only fair to share the joy.
And a thank you
I wanted to thank you for all of your help this past year spreading the word about The Fresh Air Fund. We had nearly 8,000 children enjoying their best summers yet. All of the wonderful folks who blogged, posted banners, tweeted, and joined our Facebook Page and Cause have just been amazing. We put together a video montage of images from the summer and some other fun stuff here to thank you.
No, I'm not referring to the weird programme on Star/ESPN featuring the ever-delectable Jamie Yeo. Last season the programme lasted an hour and was sponsored by Nokia. This season it lasts half the time and for some seemingly unrelated football reason is sponsored by Castrol Motor Oil. One of their ads does feature Christian Ronaldo who is famous for his good looks, sublime skills and for crashing his Ferrari, but that still strikes me as being a strange match up.
Unlike last year's programme, it doesn't feature Andy Penders, a weird guy with eye make up whose only redeeming feature, in this viewer's humble opinion, is that he is a Southampton supporter. As they were then in the English second tier along with Charlton, this semi-guaranteed that I could get to see a goal or two.
As both our teams were relegated last season, along with Norwich, I fully expected to see a few more goals but, alas, he is no longer one of the co-hosts trying hard to keep his hands to himself (and off Jamie?), so that's one Thursday evening's viewing I no longer bother with. Shame really, as Charlton are currently in a promotion spot - early days I know - having yet to lose a match and having scored 18 goals at an everage of 2.25 a game.
As this is our best start in my lifetime, I suppose I ought to be well-pleased, but somehow I'm not.
You see, this season my satellite provider, Indovision, has (at last) secured the rights to show the EPL in all its well-financed overkill. Yes, if I wanted, I could watch every match in real time, in delay on the same day, or a couple of times in repeat mode during the week.
For sure I do get to see players who have turned out for Charlton in previous seasons strutting their stuff up and down England's currently sunny land. In the last six weeks I've seen Jermaine Defoe, Darren Bent, JLloyd Samuel, Andy Reid, Scott Parker, Jonathon Spector, Carlton Cole, Alexandre Song, Luke Young, Danny Murphy and Paul Konchesky. But knowing what might have been is no substitute for what is.
It seems that I'm not the only one "disillusioned with football at the top level" as I've recently discovered "two football fans [who] decided to visit their local team in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup [and were] were instantly hooked."
As far as I know, the FA Cup is open to all clubs registered with the Football Association in England (as well as a few in Wales), so there is always a 'romance' invilved in pitting lesser skilled and young emerging talents against the big boys with their Ferraris.
This post has been occasioned by an email I received a few eweeks back from Boban (Bobi) Naumovski, "a huge footie fan and also one of the guys who runs theGoalie Glovessite, mostly a goalkeeper dedicated site, where we offer equipment and advice to goalkeepers around the world. We also throw in a couple of goalkeeper articles each week.
"Anyway, I was going through some blogs, and ran into yours. As a Europe based soccer fan I'm not that aware of Indonesian fans view on the beautiful game, so that's why blogs like your keep my attention."
Bobi and local readers should check out Jakarta Casual, an off beat look at Indonesian and South East Asian football from the terraces or the pub, by fellow Jakarta blogger Antony Casual. He's much more thorough in his coverage of South-East Asia football than the semi-official Asian FC site. ............................. Foot(ball)note I vaguely promise to not post about football again until it hurts me not to.
Today in Jakartass Towers, it is Hari Raya Idul Fitri, a day of great celebration for Muslims the world over - unless they celebrate it tomorrow or some other day.
I therefore wish all my readers who are celebrating the end of the fasting month - presumably with great feasting - a peaceful and pluralistic year until the next time.
As is said in Indonesian, Mohon maaf lahir dan batin - please pardon all my mistakes in every way.
So I hope you won't find this minor rumination objectionable.
Various strands of Islam require a dress code, particularly for women who are expected to cover their heads with a scarf, generally known here as a jilbab.
Other religions, such as Judaism have similar edicts. One you may not have heard of is the International Church of Jediism. Apparently it has 500,000 followers worldwide and requires them to wear a hood, much as the Jedi knights in the Star Wars movies did.
Daniel Jones, the founder of the religion who goes by the name of Morda Hehol, was recently expelled from his local branch of the supermarket chain of Tesco because he was wearing his hood. In Britain, you see, juvenile delinquents like wearing hoods because they cover up their acne and allow their fairly anonymous acts of vandalism to be free from the gaze of security cameras.
However, Tesco's reasoning was much more basic: "If Jedi walk around our stores with their hoods on, they'll miss lots of special offers."
Considering how many wars and acts of terrorism are carried out in the name of religion, it would benefit each of us if all religions had a similar code.
I'm numerically challenged so my title may or may not refer to the 'power' of internet users in Indonesia to make a difference, to ensure the continuation of the reformasi of a country which until eleven years ago had suffered centuries of autocratic rule. There is certainly much discussion among bloggers and twitterers about the failings of elected representatives and the civil servants in government offices, few of whom, I suspect, will actually read this.
Judging by the turnouts on polling days, Indonesia now has a vibrant demokrasi. In most countries which offer their citizens a say in who they wish to represent them at local, regional and national levels legislatures are dissolved and no new laws or by-laws are enacted. Here, however, elected representatives linger on for as much as six months after they've been deselected. Their time has been spent trying to foist their largely unwanted agenda on the electorate. The most notorious example has to be that of the Aceh regional government which believes that stoning adulterers will eradicate sexual 'deviants' and caning will cure homosexuals (even though sado-masochism is, for some, a form of sexual deviancy.) In two weeks, a new political regime, that of the former GAM 'rebels', will take their seats and most probably cast out the primitive by-law.
(Today's news from Solo in Central Java, one of Indonesia's more fundamentalist areas, of more Islamist fundamentalists, including kingpin Noordin Top being cornered and killed by Indonesia's anti-terrorist forces, leads to the tangential question of what the Acehnese politicians would deem an appropriate form of retribution for suicide bombers.)
Thankfully, the departing self-serving national legislators have been too lazy to pass many of the bills they have been cogitating over for the past five years. Some of those which they have 'finished' deliberating have been rushed through and demonstrate the absence or disregard of public input and will inevitably be amended or not fully enacted until they have been adequately 'socialised'..
These new include a new film law which states that films should have nine principles, including belief in an Almighty God. That one should go down well in Aceh, but I have yet to discover how the Balinese Hindus will react. The film industry, which has been doing rather well lately, is far from happy at the new restrictions they seemingly face. Rob Baiton has analysed the bill in some depth here.
Parliamentarians have also (un)seemingly finished their deliberations of a new state secrecy law which would have removed many corruption cases from public purview. However, SBY has indicated that there is no rush to pass it, possibly because of the furore it engendered, particularly among the mainstream media.
A major storm is underway over attempts to emasculate the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) which has achieved a 100% conviction rate. These include current and former elected legislators of all levels, senior bureaucrats, policemen, prosecutors and associated business cronies. This is not the place to go into greater depth, but do read Treespotter, his interview with Rob Baiton here and Rob himself here.
Following a tweeted 'debate', which I wasn't part of, Tree was sufficiently concerned with SBY's non-interventionist stance on the issue that he posted an open letter to Andi Mallarangeng, SBY's spokesman. It can be conjectured that this lead to yesterday's statement from SBY in support of the KPK.
"Eradicating graft remains the government’s priority. In the past five years we have taken the most aggressive graft eradication measures in Indonesia’s history, and I will prioritize the fight against graft over the next five years."
He also stated that the new Corruption Bill being deliberated is not an attempt to water down the effectiveness of the anti-graft drive, although many lawyers and NGOs believe that it is.
On the worldwide stage, Avaaz.org, is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization, which uses all the social networks you can think of to spread their messages.
Avaaz has initiated a campaign, the September 21 Global Climate Wake-Up Call, to demonstrate citizen power to those world leaders including SBY who are meeting the following day (22nd) in New York to discuss, among other matters, what they will discuss later this year at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
To date, "a staggering 1000 events in 88 countries (have been organised) for next Monday's great global climate wake up call". Among those listed is the simultaneous screening of a new 'drama-documentary-animation hybrid' film, The Age of Stupid.
Next month SBY will re-assume the presidency with the strongest popular mandate since Soekarno. I'll be taking a more in-depth look at his tasks later, but for the moment, here are just a few matters of concern which, if he sorts them out, will greatly enhance his legacy when he steps down in five years time.
However, because all these human rights abuses, bar one, were at the hands of the Indonesian military, of which he was a prominent part, I doubt that any of the victims, or their surviving families will receive any kind of closure.
Twenty-five years ago, September 12th 1984, the military brutally cracked down on Muslim protesters in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, on the order of President Soeharto.
According to the official military version, which was announced Sept. 14, 1984, nine protesters were killed and 50 were injured when anti-riot troops dispersed about 1,500 protesters. They were marching to the local military office to demand the release of their friends. According to human rights and civil society groups, the number of victims was much higher than the military version, perhaps as many as 400. According to the Post’s report, the violence erupted in the wake of tension-charged speeches in Tanjung Priok’s Rawa Badak Mosque by three Muslim preachers reportedly criticizing the government and agitating the congregation.
The victims and families, with the support of Kontras (the Human Rights Working Group and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence), have sent a lertter to the UN Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, asking her to examine previous trials in which 14 defendants were eventually acquitted after a series of appeals, allegedly following pressure on the prosecutors from the military.
The Indonesian military invaded the former Portugese colony of East Timor on December 7th 1974. From then on until (and including) 1999, when locals opted for independence in a historic UN-sanctioned referendum, becoming Timor Leste, they used torture and extra-judicial killing as a matter of course against pro-independence activists.
Ironically, the Comarca Balide prison, which was under the 'management' of the military police until their departure in 1999, now houses the offices of the CAVR (Timor Leste Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation), an independent body created by the UN, which has produced the most comprehensive documentation of the 1975–1999 atrocities in East Timor.
The current president of East Timor, Ramos Horta, has rejected a Truth and Reconciliation Commission enabled to hear testimony and to bring closure, if not retribution for those responsible.
Five years ago, SBY told Suciwati, the widow of the slain outspoken human rights activist Munir, that he would find Munir’s killer(s). SBY set up a commission to find the 'truth'; however, he has failed to release it.
Muchdi Purwopranjono, the former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) deputy head and the alleged mastermind of Munir's killing, was acquitted of all charges in July this year. He has a nefarious past.
Disappearances of student activists 1998
Munir had alleged that Muchdi and then Lt.Gen. Prabowo, Suharto's son-ín-law, had been behind the disappearances of student activists in the immediate lead up to the end of the New Order régime in 1998. The then Armed forces chief General Wiranto later admitted that Kopassus was involved in the kidnappings after an internal probe showed the Kopassus command had issued orders to "uncover several movements then considered radical and jeopardizing government programs and public security."
(Prabowo and Wiranto thankfully both failed in their recent quests to become vice prresidents.)
Some 60,000 people have lost their homes, jobs, livelihoods and access to education as a result of a drilling error by PT Lapindo Brantas, a Bakrie company.
Although the police cannot find grounds for a criminal prosecution, the National Commission on Human Rights is planning a lawsuit against the President and Lapindo.
SBY mandated Lapindo to pay compensation. Some have been quite pleased and invited Abdurizal Bakrie to break his fast with them. However, others, many others, are still waiting.
And to make matters worse, PT Minarak Lapindo Jaya, a Lapindo subsidiary tasked through a presidential decree to manage the mud, used to operate 12 pumps in the area. Currently only two are operational.
Expect to hear of yet more blameless and newly impoverished victims.
But don't expect to hear much from SBY. ............................ Stop Press Aceh legislature has passed a law allowing the stoning of adulterers and homosexuals. I don't think that stoning is a punishment for being stoned, but guess where I'm not going for my holidays. ......................... Pic from Thomas Belfield who got it from ?
Having once again complained about the appalling internet infrastructure here in Indonesia's capital city, news comes this week (via many sites including the BBC) of how other 'modern' cities have it even worse.
Broadband promised to unite the world with super-fast data delivery - but in South Africa it seems the web is still no faster than a humble pigeon.
A Durban IT company pitted an 11-month-old bird armed with a 4GB memory stick against the ADSL service from the country's biggest web firm, Telkom.
Winston the pigeon took two hours to carry the data 60 miles - in the same time the ADSL had sent 4% of the data.
Last year I wrote how lucky East Africans were to be connected to a new fibre-optic network. It seems I was wrong.
As if in recompense for the implication that I may be over the hill, my daily browse of the UK newspapers leads me to believe that there's loads of life left.
Perhaps not for Phil Collins who, at 58, has said that he'll never drum again because he is suffering from a painful spine injury. Some, but not Our Kid, hope he'll never sing again either.
Yet, according to John Fordham, who is in his sixties, Jack deJohnette, jazz drummer supreme and in his seventies, "seems to be saving some of his most creative and eclectic playing for his senior years."
Then there's British saxophonist John Surman who's just released his "loosest and jazziest album in years."
Other musicians are making comebacks.
The Beatles, of course, have never actually gone way even though they split up nigh on 40 years ago and John Lennon and George Harrison have already departed this life. I doubt that there is anyone from my generation who cannot sing along With The Beatles (which was my second album purchase), and now with the release of all 13 albums, remastered, and a video game our offspring and theirs can rejoice in the sublime pleasure we have always had from their creativity.
I'm not so sure about the two remaining Bee Gees reforming for a series of gigs, but then I was never that enamoured with the faux falsetto of Robin Gibb. Still, it's not as if they need the money and if they can set female fans' hearts a-quiver, good on them I say.
I suppose I ought to say the same for John Lydon (aka Rotten) who has decided to tour PiL (Public Image Limited), the band he formed after the Sex Pistols imploded just over 30 years ago. Although I did get to know a few of the London pub rockers of the early- and mid-seventies and had great fun at their gigs, I was never sucked in to the music of the punk rockers who supplanted them. Perhaps I was already too old. Mind you, I did admire their do-it-yourself ethos.
Perhaps the greatest imponderable of the current popular music scene in the UK is the thought that vying for the top spot is Dame Vera Lynn* who, at 92, is a year older than my father. He is probably quite pleased to know that the 'Forces Sweetheart' of World War Two can still compete with the current crop of pop favourites.
I think another Dame, Judy Dench, now 74, deserves the last word, partly because, fine actress that she is, I find myself nodding in recognised agreement with her personal attitude rather than her roleplaying and figure that I now understand what growing old(er) is about.
"I hear myself saying things that I know old people say. Like when I want to ring up about something and I get that fucking recorded message which tells me to press one, two, three or four, and then you press four and there are two more recorded messages and YOU CANNOT TALK TO ANYBODY! It makes me absolutely mad."
What happens when she finally gets through and the operator realises to whom they're speaking?
"I don't give them a chance to comment. I just give them an absolute mouthful and ring off."
She chuckles. ........................... Update 13.9.09
I've been invited by Joy, perhaps a pseudonym, to earn some money by reviewing websites and products here on Jakartass.
Unfortunately, with but 2kbs per second it would have to be BIG money to tempt me to browse their customer sites, and I also don't have a PayPal account. I think I'll stick to the copyediting and writing commissions which come my way, presumably because my writing is so addictive.
That said, I do have a couple of products which I can't resist telling you about, one of which I can personally vouch for and one which I think everyone in Jakarta should have.
My local midimarts having removed all beer from their shelves for the duration of the peaceful month of Ramadan in case those Fundamentalist Peabrained Islamists should be tempted to wreak their petty vandalism, last week I went browsing in my local Galael supermarket for some weekend Bintangs.
Having stocked up with the amber nectar, I wended my way through the aisles for other tasty comestibles and my eyes were caught by some attractive looking drinks in tetrahedon packs.
Real Good fruit flavoured milk, in blackcurrant, apple and orange, is, I think, a new product from PT Greenfields Indonesia, the major milk producers here. Unfortunately, a search of their website only seems to lead to a daunting list of Chinese powdered milk products, none of which, I'm sure, are that good for your newborn, so you'll have to make do with the out-of-focus picture taken by Our Kid..
What initially attracted me to them was the resemblance of their packaging to Jubblies.
When I was a lad, summers offered a range of ice creams from the likes of Lyons and Walls, whose sellers cycled around neighbourhoods on becaks (tricycles) crying, if my memory serves me well, "Try me and stop one." Well, Walls can be had here from my local warung, but I'd long forgotten about Jubblies.
These were orange drinks in waxy paper tetrahedron cartons which were often found frozen in ice cream refrigerated cabinets in our local grocers or sweetshop. You'd cut along one edge, gently squeeze so that the frozen drink rose to the open slit and then suck out the flavour. In other words, they were ice lollies without sticks so they didn't drip all down your fingers.
Ah, lubbly jubbly. So I was well pleased to spot the Real Good drinks; I bought four and put them in our fridge freezer compartment here in Jakartass Towers.
And they are real(ly) good, with one advantage over Jubblies - the flavour lasts the whole suck through. But I would like to know if these are smaller drinks, or is my subsequent physical growth distorting my memory?
And now for something completely different and not, as yet, available here in Indonesia.
It's a grass ring and, no, it can't be a joke, not at £119.00.
The ring part is made of moulded silver so Growing Rings are a mix of jewelry and plant, couture and organism. Designed for people in metropolitan areas - that's us, Jakartans - the Growing Ring is a chance to take a little bit of greenery with you.
Like any plant, the ring will need to be watered and nurtured to be at its best.
Presumably you can only use fresh water, so if you wanted to wear one whilst enjoying a day at the beach, you'd need one with seaweed.
If either Greenfields or the designer of the Grassing Ring like my plugs, I'd be happy to accept products in lieu of cash.
I have regularly complained about the appalling internet infrastructure in Indonesia and when I do there is always someone posting a comment saying that he's alright, Jack, and I should try this or that 'service'.
Since August 11th, when my ISP, Indosat M2, 'forced' me to change my password, I have been unable to use my dial-up connection. Their 24/7 call centre doesn't respond and although I received an email response to a complaint letter, it merely told me that everything was fine.
I have no choice now other than to dial up using the Telkom one-size-fits-all 'service'. Having written extensively about Telkom Speedy, including an article in the Jakarta Globe, earlier this year, I have recently been contemplating making yet another attempt to sign up with them - anything above 2kbs (max) per second connection would be wonderful.
And then, this week, the Jakarta Post has carried two more letters about that appalling service. The correspondence isn't yet (?) online, but loads of other complaints going back years are, so I'm not going to bother.
(And as I type this, the telephone rings and, hey, it's Telkom! But their message encapsulates everything that's wrong with customer service in this country - it's the amount I have to pay for my phone calls this month.)
I am a big fan of the internet. For example, I subscribe to a number of newsletters.
Jazz fans in Jakarta may, therefore, like to know that some of the most innovative musicians in the country are coming together for a one off benefit gig for those affected by last week's earthquake.
Among the artists appearing are Krakatau, B3, Fariz RM, World Peace Orchestra, Dewi Budjana & Tohpati, Riza Arshad, Barry Likumahuwa and Notturno. (I've only mentioned those musicians I've had the pleasure of hearing - there are loads more listed.)
The gig's at the Graha Bakti Budaya in Taman Ismail Marzuki, this coming Sunday (13th) from 7pm onwards. Tickets, which are Rp.100,000 (c$10), can be booked through the following numbers - add +62 21 if necessary: DKJ 3989 9634/316 2780 (Ranti), Farabi Music 722 6270/722 4407 (Dina), Wartajazz 831 0769 (Dewi), PMI 3208 84400 (Indah/Winda) or Simpay Wargi Urang 310 0551 (Yane).
Thanks to the net, I'm also very happy to relate that 'my' football club, Charlton Athletic, has just set a club record by winning its first six games of the new season, albeit in the third tier which we are top of. If I can stay online long enough, I'm also able to follow the progress of our matches via the BBC. Yet, with no thanks to Telkom or Indosat, I can't get the live commentaries.
I found myself nodding in agreement with a few; however it was the comments which seemed more pertinent.
How to write and spell in a complete sentence without using abbreviations and slang.
With social media we have redefined 'friend'. A friend used to be someone you knew for a fairly long time. You knew their strengths and weaknesses and their interests. Now a friend is anybody and you don't know for sure if they are who they say they are
Arguments In the past, you could be going on for hours and hours until one of the two parties admitted defeat. Now, you just have to close the window or ignore the person, and you can go on with your day, agreeing with yourself that you are right.
Christmas Cards (Indonesians should substitute 'Idul Fitri Cards') I used to enjoy receiving them and would turn the most creative into a traditional form of seasonal decoration somewhere in the home. The best ones included a personal greeting, letter or photo. Now I get invitations (mostly these days from corporate clients) to log on to a site for an e-card, or an SMS or Tweet well, that is instantly sent to a mailing list of hundreds of people. There's no personal touch or indication you were worth the price of a stamp or a bit of effort displayed by that.
However, the art of correspondence is 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.
And the Internet rewards creativity I find this one of the most compelling attributes of the Internet. I would prefer to suggest that people don't lose memory. However, those who understand the opportunity end up being more resourceful with better critical thinking.
(And Telkom rings me AGAIN!)
Maybe I should make a comment here about the low level of critical thinking engendered by the Indonesian schooling system, otherwise termed programmed learning.
However, I'll refrain and leave you with a link to a news story about how teenage bloggers in the USA suggest Jakartass is past it.
Are you a devout believer in a ritualist religion?
If so, do tweet it. That seems to be the message from the deputy head of the English church, the Archbishop of York who is seeking a Director of Communications. I presume the job description refers to temporal communications, but who knows, eh? Is God a twitterer?
It does seem that to be 'with it' one has to utilise all sorts of communication networks and if virtual reality is the way we are expected to perceive the world, then by all means lets have virtual religions. It's all about mind over matter, isn't it?
Wednesday's earthquake resulted in at least 57 deaths, with several folk still unaccounted for buried beneath tons of earth slip.
Given that it was a natural disaster, one can't blame it on corrupt politicians in league with greedy business interests. However, the lack of awareness, education if you will, means that many blamed God, a handy excuse as they sought to appease the all-powerful.
I know this because 'Er Indoors was outside, in our side passage chatting with her sister, our live-in lodger cum pembantu (maid), scrutinising the ironing in process when they heard noises from indoors. The house was empty yet there were cracks, bangs and creaking as if folk were cavorting within. There wasn't anybody, but outside, in the street, neighbours were rushing to the local mosque from whence came amplified cries of Allah Akbar (God is great). Well maybe She is, but most geologists, and folk like me, put it down to the collision of three tectonic plates, a process that has been going on since forever.
Most of the fatalities can be directly attributed to the building of settlements at the foot of deforested hills, and to shoddy building construction in towns such as Bandung and Cilacap. A least one death, in Jakarta, was the result of a heart attack. These are deaths I would blame on Man rather than Mother Nature.
In a country where every citizen has to declare which of five religions s/he follows there is more environmental degradation and a greater number of 'natural' disasters than in the majority of other nations.
The head of the Catholic Church, the Pope, may be on the right track when he appears to suggest that atheists are to blame.
“Is it not true that inconsiderate use of creation begins where God is marginalized or also where his existence is denied? If the human creature's relationship with the Creator weakens, matter is reduced to egoistic possession, man becomes the ‘final authority’, and the objective of existence is reduced to a feverish race to possess the most possible.”
Although one cannot but agree with his closing remark, that's a very strange, almost hypocritical statement considering the material wealth of the Catholic Church (and the Vatican in particular). Catholics also believe that God has given Man dominion over the earth, a ready excuse for all kinds of abuse.
Anyway, I'm exonerated as I've converted to animism. .............................. His full speech can be read here.
Dreams are generally rooted in reality so, yes, I really did meet my dream girl. And, like most dreams, this was shattered abruptly.
It started out as one of those stoic journeys, hot and cramped in a mikrolet, one of those minibuses which can probably seat eight kindergarden children comfortably but in which 10-15 adults are crammed. The sliding windows were open to let in a bit of a breeze, but access to Jakarta's polluted air was limited by somewhat a overweight ibu who I tried not to be jolted against.
Adding to the cramped conditions was a large family with a carton containing, I surmised, their worldly possessions. The parents, facing each other in the back corners, were forced to take up much of our leg space as their box stopped their knees from touching. At one point, I spotted a little girl peaking past her dad at the rest of us.
She sat opposite me, well-dressed, possibly in her mid-twenties and maybe a student. Cramped as we were, it was not the occasion to pull into a Pertamina service station for a refill of benzine and stop at the end of a small truck and a long line of motorcycles.
It got worse when we heard the word 'habis' (finished) which we took to mean the essential supplies of petrol/gas. We weren't under shelter, petrol fumes swum up our nostrils and we got even edgier because we didn't move for almost five minutes..
I had another bus to catch and rush hour would soon be upon us so I did what I often do at times of stress - I said something. It wasn't something I'd later regret because all seemed to agree that we weren't prepared to sit and possibly throw up because the driver figured we wouldn't complain about his lack of foresight. There were other mikrolets we could catch - look there goes another one.
Smiles and nods of agreement followed from my fellow passengers - I'd said all that in Indonesian.
And she asked me, "Are you late?"
Not yet, I replied, and thus began a friendly conversation in English about the appalling service of Jakarta's so-called public transport and where are you going, and did you feel the earth move .....
I enjoy talking, and if I had more having conversations about life I'd probably blog less. But I'm writing this because her phone then rang.
I couldn't help noticing the change in her body language. She really wanted to speak to whoever was at the other end. Her English seemed to get worse as she rearranged their rendezvous, in Senayan Plaza in the café next to Pizza Hut at five. Love was in the airwaves and it was easy to feel her joy.
But I felt a little sad that the positive, friendly, vibes she'd wafted my way had so easily been dissipated.
I should be happy to know that I remain an incurable romantic, but please don't tell 'Er Indoors.
It's five o'clock and getting home was hell. 'Normally', I'd be putting that down to the rush home to buka puasa, the breaking of the fast at around six.
But today we felt the earthquale, only the second time that I recall here in Jakarta. I was on the second floor, 'Er Indoors was outside fiddling with her flora and Our Kid was on the fourth floor in his school. We all have our little tales to tell ~ mine is about a lass on the bus.
I haven't had time to do anything other than grab a shower, but there was already the following 'travel advice' from Her Majesty's Foreign Office sitting in my inbox.
The Indonesian Meteorological and Geophysics Office reported an earthquake measuring approximately 7.4 on the Richter scale at 14.55 (0855 BST) on 2 September 2009. The epicentre was in the Indonesian Sea, south of the island of Java, and 140 kilometres south-west of Tasikmalaya. There were no initial reports of casualties but there has been damage to infrastructure, including buildings. A tsunami warning issued immediately after the earthquake has been lifted. However you are advised to be aware of the possibility of aftershocks and to monitor local media.
Apart from the singer Anggun, who's based in France, it's not often that an Indonesian group or artist, let alone a progressive jazz group, has an album released on an international label. Last month saw the international launch of simakDialog's fifth album, Demimasa, on MoonJune Records, based in New York, who also released their fourth album, Patahan.
Leonardo Pavkovic, proprietor of MoonJune, has said, "I have noticed that Indonesian jazz and prog musicians tend to have smooth jazz affinities: maybe they believe it is a safe way to make the music."
Speaking of the keyboardist and leader/composer of simakDialog, Leonardo says, "Riza Arshad is an amazing pianist with a great touch and the sensibility of an ECM artist."
This is the German label which first recorded Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell, and counts Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek and Eberhard Weber among its longstanding recording artists.
"I have been talking to Riza to liberate himself and challenge his artistic ego with an evolutionary and free music spirit, without being afraid to say musically what he wants to say. In other words, I am asking Riza to abandon the safe way of expressing himself and to experiment more."
In simakDialog Riza Arshad has the solid backing of the ubiquitous guitarist Tohpati with Adhithya Pratama on bass guitar. What adds the extra freer dimension to their music is the percussion triumvirate of Endang Ramdan, Erlan Suwardana and new member Emy Tata on Sundanese kendang percussion, tambourines, claps, toys and vocals.
Arshad's compositional approach opens up from a jazz-rock palette, but his Fender Rhodes electric piano is clearly influenced by the crisp ring and shimmer of Indonesian gamelan. He pushes his solos to continually higher levels, urging repeated climaxes as each piece steadily amasses intensity.
Arshad might begin in a contemplative mood, but it doesn't take him long to develop an insistent pulse. The percussionists soon enter, clattering out their organic patterns with roundly slapped skins, shakers, bells and handclaps. Tohpati is also attracted to resonant trebly zones, journeying from acoustic delicacy to a subtly distorted friction. Another element is added later, with the percussionists chanting along to emphasise their dense structures.
The result sounds both natural and fully integrated. This is a particular realm that couldn't be reached either by Western progressive musicians or a traditional gamelan ensemble. SimakDialog involves a unique combination of both spheres, without making the commercially tempting mistake of cultural dilution.
Last October I was invited to the Indonesian launch of Demimasaat Goethe Haus and conducted the following interview through an email exchange and a couple of meetings.
Firstly, how come you played in bare feet at Goethe Institute?
That is a traditional dress code, I first played barefoot back in 2002 in simakDialog's solo concert at Philharmonik Petronas' concert hall. I do this to try to catch the 'spirit' of the music. I can't imagine what would be my performance if I should dress any other way.
How did you become a jazz pianist rather than, say, a classical pianist.
I started to play at 6: classical music was the 'tool' for my first encounter with the piano. I found it difficult to concentrate as I was quite a rebellious kind of boy. I liked watching fish - this was so distracting.
I quit my course but began to play again at the age of 10, but 'naturally' by copying my early influence of classical music. I created 'original' tunes and began to enjoy the beauty of composing and improvising.
How did your early music develop?
Through my brother, Luke Arsyad, I got a lot of musical knowledge, mainly classical since we shared the same teacher, but also tons of 70's music especially those from art rock/classic rock genre (Yes, Genesis, ELP, Gentle Giant, the Who, Beatles etc.), and some jazz like Corea, Hancock, Davis, but not much.
I took a course of jazz music lessons for two and half years and then my brother asked me to join his art/rock band - Rara Ragadi. I was 15 years old at that time.
Through a friend, we were introduced to the guys in an Indonesian top rock band - God Bless (who have recently reformed), and through them we were introduced to a local record label guy named Slamet, the CEO of Duba Records. We recorded an album in 1978 which was released in 1979. The band only did a few shows as my brother and I started to work with another rock band - Godspell.
My brother moved to the US to pursue his studies and I enrolled in the art department of the Bandung Institute of Technology and joined the jazz community there and played some gigs. In 1983 I met my next jazz piano instructor to continue to study jazz music. After 8 months, I started another class of jazz studies, this time in Jakarta, so I had to travel back and forth between Bandung and Jakarta every week.
What was the influence on you of the first generation of Indonesian jazzers such as Jack Lesmana, Bill Saragih and Bubi Chen?
Huge. I went to their shows quite a lot and had the opportunity to play with them years later. Being able to play and hang with them was such a milestone in my musical career.
I studied with Jack Lesmana and his son Indra and worked as their assistant in their school until it closed in December 1989. Jack is famous for what he did to introduce jazz rock music in the early 70's in Jakarta. He sort of did what Miles (Davis) had done with jazz in the late 60's, being a huge influence on the later development of jazz and the music industry in this country.
Indra, incidentally, was a remarkable young jazz player, hailed by Leonard Feather, Downbeat magazine and Chick Corea for his amazing talent and he recorded a jazz album with Charlie Haden and Jack deJohnette at the age of 18.
As I became his student then good friends, at one point joining his band 'Reborn', his playing and ideas never let me down. His spirit inspires almost every jazz musician of my generation and the next and I have adopted his philosophy. Having determined my musical direction I have never taken the opportunity to become a good session player, as Tohpati has done.
When did you start recording your own music?
After a period producing indie artists with my brother, including my first solo album in 1992, I formed my original band Dialogue with long time cohorts - drummer Arie Ayunir and Dewa Budjana.
In December 1992 I changed the personnel of my original band and its name to 'simakDialog'. With my experience working and producing artists with my brother I started to build sense of my musical identity. Playing in an entirely western mode was no longer a challenge to me, which is why I like to have a specific sound and colour in my music.
Although my brother passed away in 1997, I continue his exploration and dream of making our music widely heard everywhere anywhere in the globe.
Which western jazz pianists do you feel have influenced you the most?
Hmm, difficult question, since every great player who I listen to is my number 1 star.
My most influential jazz pianists would be Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Thelonious Monk, Chick Corea, Marc Copeland, John Taylor and Lyle Mays, but my difficulty lies with choosing because I like players who are also composers.
Both aspects have a very important impact in developing my musical path. So, apart from those already named, other musical influences are Chopin, Debussy, Jan Garbarek, Coltrane or Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, I Wayan Sadre (trad/contemporary composer), Jack deJohnette, Alan Holdsworth, Bill Frisell, Terje Rypdal, Pat Metheny or any great rock guitarists.
Where do see your own musical direction heading?
My first priority is still with simakDialog. Other than that, taking example Serambi Jazz as an example, my efforts are devoted for the growth of jazz in Indonesia.
You are the curator of Serambi Jazz at Goethe Haus. How did that come about?
They often invited me to play at their jazz events, but I couldn’t always be available for them. Plus, I didn’t think it would be good to feature me all the time. So, I offered them a new concept. A jazz concert every two months, featuring loads of talented musicians that have always dedicated their lives to music.
The chairman of Goethe Haus is a big music fan and he agreed right away and asked me to find the musicians.
I don’t want to dominate the Indonesian jazz scene by holding this event too often. I would love it if Indonesians could have a lot of variation in what they can see. We want to complement other jazz events, such as JakJazz, Java Jazz or the many smaller jazz events held regularly, such as Komunitas Jajan Jazz, KlabJazz’ Jazz Break Revival in Bandung, and so on. The more the merrier. We can see the development of Indonesia's jazz community through these many events.
How do you select the musicians featured at Serambi Jazz?
I decide based on who they are as musicians. They should be dedicated to Indonesian jazz development, in other words, someone who has decided to live their life as a jazz musician. I have a list of musicians who are very talented, but not yet widely known. Through Serambi Jazz events we hope we can introduce them so they get more appreciation.
What Indonesian musicians, jazz or any genre, are doing things you find interesting?
I rarely listen to a particular music or stay focussed on a certain style or player but listen to anything good for my ears and heart. ......................................................... If you want to know what’s happening in the Indonesian jazz scene, subscribe to Jazzuality.com who supplied the picture of Riza.