Tale of two funerals and an autopsy
Today is the eve of Idul Fitri, the end of Ramadhan, the fasting month. This is by far the best time to be a resident of Jakarta. A quarter of the population have returned to their kampungs
in a ritual called mudik
and the city is quiet and pollution levels minimal. The Muslim majority seek to renew and refresh family and community ties. New clothes have been bought and will be distributed tomorrow along with varying amounts of money to demonstrate the prosperity earned through one's labours in the big cities. The rest of us either take an extended holiday, perhaps in Bali or Singapore, or visit friends.
A period of calm descends; traffic is minimal and the Jakarta Post
will undoubtedly have a photograph of an empty Jalan Thamrin, the main drag, in its next edition to be published on Wednesday in line with a government directive
SBY has returned from the funeral
of Yasser Arafat
in time to celebrate this major festival with his own family. Whilst Indonesia has consistently supported the establishment of a Palestinian state and Jakarta hosts its embassy
, there is no place for one for Israel. Jakartass rarely comments on geo-political matters, but on this issue I believe that SBY and his government should follow the lead established by Gus Dur
before he became president and promote active dialogue between the two parties, as advocated by the Peres Center for Peace
. Recent polls indicate that dialogue activities are believed to be a most efficient method for improving the attitude of the people towards the other side in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians
. It is mildly encouraging to note that Bush and Blair seem to agree
Mystery surrounds the cause of Arafat's death. Not so that of Indonesian human rights activist Munir
who died two months ago on a flight to Holland where he was about to take up a university scholarship. It has been revealed that he died of arsenic poisoning
. It is to be hoped that the recent appointment by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Abdul Rahman Saleh, an attorney-general with a squeaky-clean reputation
will lead to a thorough investigation. Munir's assassination occurred during the last, seemingly paranoic
, days of the Megawati regime. With the hopes of the nation resting with the first peoples' president, it is vital that the perpetrators are caught and seen to be brought to justice.
was also laid to rest yesterday. The funeral was painfully intimate and often very funny. And it left Peel's fans ... emerging into the autumn afternoon humbled, choking with affection and loss
. Jakartass rarely feels homesick, but this eulogy
is genuinely moving.
I wish I'd been there.