Nice to be home.
I do like Brandon's photos on Java Jive
; they remind me that unfortunately I rarely leave Jakarta. It's also nice to see that he is writing more about living in the Big Durian.
His comment about the late arrival of the US Embassy warning
about the likelihood of a suicide bomber in Jakarta is an accurate reflection of the viewpoint of many expats living here: A couple of years ago, this might have freaked me out. Now it just puts a dent in my evening's plans. Gotta love Jakarta.
It's the same as any other metropolis - if you go looking for trouble, you'll find it. We have prostitutes, murderers, corruption, demonstrations, and all other kinds of grime - but then again, it may feel like home. Detroit is much more dangerous in my opinion.
However, considering the number of headlines Jakarta makes annually, you'll be pleasantly surprised at just how calm this place can be. Most Indonesians can be extremely warm and welcoming and will most likely soothe your worry in no time. Then again, I've been here awhile and am definitely calloused to any of the attractions mentioned above - now it's just 'home' for me.
in Australia, a keen observer of happenings here, is worried that as these terrorist outrages appear to be encyclical we can expect something serious (and bad) to happen in next two months or so.
I don't want to appear blasé but I do wonder how 'bad' the situation really is.
I lived in London during the lengthy IRA bombing campaign in the 70's, been caught, literally, in the middle of a Muslim-Hindu riot in Kashmir, witnessed the anger of the rioters in major English conurbations and had a few other hairy experiences.
The only period of fear I have experienced in the many years spent here was in 1998 just prior to the overthrow/abdication of Suharto. There were terrorist outrages to follow.
A bomb exploded at the Attorney General's office on July 7th 2000, shortly after Suharto's son Tommy had been questioned in connection with corruption charges. The following day police defused a second bomb in the building and announced that forensic evidence suggested that the explosives were from the army.
Shortly afterwards, on September 13th, a major bomb blast
killed upwards of 15 people at the Jakarta Stock Exchange building. My friend Indcoup
was working in the building at the time but he too has remained in Jakarta living, like Jakartass, at street level.
is slowly taking place but not as quickly as the majority of us would wish. But then, the army and political groupings are still dominated by figures from Suharto's New Order era. Yesterday, SBY angrily said
that "It is a fact that a number of businessmen and bureaucrats are disrupting my current effort to combat corruption as their businesses and other interests have been severely affected by the move."
The recent bombing of the market in Tentena
, Central Sulawesi, has been linked to corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who may be funding Islamic groups to carry out atrocities on their behalf. It can be argued that the separatist movements in Aceh and Papua are anti-colonialist at their core. The new colonialists are the local vested interests, and outsiders, plundering Indonesia's resources or swamping the nation
with their goods in the name of 'globalisation' who SBY is railing against. Are these groups the root cause of terrorism?
(Some argue that more sinister forces are at work
argues that colas produced specifically for Islamic consumers could be a front for terrorist groups targetting US and western interests.Unlike the Paul Newman line, none of these brands are non-profit, tho some claim to donate a portion to Islamic charities (Hamas? Hezbollah?), drawing the attention of Western terror watchers. And Arabs are buying them, unaware that boycotting 'American' goods does more damage to locals than multinationals (Coke is one of the biggest employers in the industrial-challenged Mideast).
Should we ignore the fact that Coca Cola supplies the American forces
? In World War II, the War Department agreed ... that Coca-Cola would provide a boost in morale. Therefore, they had the U.S. government fund the installation of sixty-four bottling plants behind Allied lines. Entire bottling plants were shipped to the front lines with other supplies. And as soon as the battle front moved, so would the bottling company. When America went to war, Coca-Cola followed.
The fundamentalist Islamic groups, who are, undoubtedly, plotting further outrages here, recruit young, generally minimally educated, people to their causes. If Indonesia were less beholden to the corrupt and more equitable, offering opportunities for all sectors of society, then I suspect that there would be less need for belated travel advisories from other countries and we can all get on with living in a place we call home.