An Interesting Week In Indonesia?
Well, it might have been for observers such as The Swanker
, Peak Talk
and folk living in Singapore
but for those of us who actually live here it's been pretty mundane.
Firstly, Indonesians are apparently better disposed towards the USA. This "major shift in public opinion
" is based on a survey
of just 1,200 adults (out of a total population of c.210 million) of whom only 1,191 respondents were successfully interviewed.
The survey did not follow the demographics of the 2000 census. For example, 9.5% of those interviewed had completed tertiary education, compared with 4% of the overall population in 2000. Also, 49.6% of the respondents had only completed elementary education compared with 60% of the population.
A profile of terrorist foot soldiers and supporters of fundamentalist sects, of whatever religious persuasion, would surely demonstrate a lack of education. (Jakartass defines education as having the ability to see a wider world beyond one's nose.) So, in general, the survey respondents were not myopic.
I am not denying that are Indonesians are better disposed towards Americans, mainly due to the post-tsunami humanitarian efforts of the American military in Aceh. However, 59.9% of Muslims interviewed still have a negative opinion of the USA, and nigh on 15% of all respondents answered 'Don't Know' to the majority of the questions posed.
To draw significant conclusions from a deeply flawed survey is both naïve and premature. Do read it and let me know if you agree.It's a tale of corporate greed.
This map of Ambalat
doesn't help. Somewhere in this area is a vast quantity of oil which has been the cause of much hyperbole, a nice little earner for Indonesia's rent-a-mob and a demonstration of how under-resourced the Indonesian armed forces are (according to the Indonesian armed forces).
The cause of this neighbourly tiff between Malaysia and Indonesia is corporate greed.
Shell was awarded the Ambalat oil block off East Kalimantan by the Indonesian government in 1999 but in 2001 it sold the concession to Italian company ENI. After the oil companies concluded their agreement, Eni, which was granted oil concession rights by the Indonesian government in September 1999, started exploration. Late last year, Eni conducted drilling at two sites in the Ambalat area, and reportedly found huge oil reserves at both sites.
On February 19, 2005, Shell was awarded the same oil block by Malaysia's Petronas.
In other words, having originally decided that the cost of exploiting this oil field was too high, now that oil prices are above $50 a barrel Shell aims to increase their already vast profits in Malaysia
There is a legitimate concern over territorial rights particularly after the 'loss' to Malaysia of the nearby Sipadan and Ligitan Islands in 2002. This dispute will be resolved through discussion
between the two countries. The despatch of warships and fighter squadrons was a mere flexing of muscles by the armed forces who are seeking an increase in the defence budget.
With the Indonesian government due to take over the Armed Force's businesses next year, they need an increased budget
in order to replace obsolete equipment and to be able to cope better with major natural disasters such as the tsunami in Aceh.
SBY, a retired general, would like to raise the budget from the current 1% of GDP to 3-5%, approx. $20 billion, but is unlikely to be able to do so in the short-term. Hence the "current fervour of misplaced nationalism", as the Jakarta Post has described it.
There is a group of legislators
with links to Islamic and military so-called youth groups who are intent on their own agenda. Having failed to stir up the masses following the hike in oil prices a week or so ago, this is another issue to divert attention from the government's programme.
This will include a reshuffle of 50% of the country's top echelon bureaucracy
which has been criticized not only for its poor performance, but its vulnerability to corruption as well. One can be sure that this is upsetting to the legislators. How else will they be able to pay for their street mobs?
Shell and the other oil companies can afford to wait. After all, they've already carved up Iraq
.Hearsay Security alert
A British Council employee received an SMS message from a former colleague in the US embassy to say that there was a bomb threat at the World Trade Center Mangga Dua in northern Jakarta between March 11 and 14. The US and Australian embassies have alerted their citizens. Britain's Foreign Office
haven't.Zainuri Lubis, the National police spokesman has said that Indonesian police did not know of any threat to the multi-storeyed mall.