Sunday, September 30, 2007
  Another crap post

I have been promoting the National Clean Toilets Movement for nigh on three years.

Most of us when out and about have to get to a shopping mall, bus terminal or hotel* in order to spend a penny, or Rp.500+, and the experience is variable. So it's good to know that the government is taking some interest in our movements, albeit minimal and on behalf of the 7.5 million tourists expected this year.

The country's airports have been surveyed for the Cleanest Toilets Award 2007 ~ someone's got to do it ~ and Bali's Ngurah Rai is the winner. Three days ago, the 'coveted' award was handed over at the Department of Tourism office in Jakarta by the minister, Jero Wacik.

(Why this presentation couldn't have waited a day or so is another question. Pak Wacik has been in Bali for two major events - the international PATA Travel Mart which finished two days ago and the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival which finishes today.)

Out of the eleven airports surveyed, the busiest, Soekarno-Hatta here in Jakarta, came fourth and the soon-to-be-replaced Polonia airport in Medan came eleventh and last.

El-Tari airport in Kupang, NTT, was also surveyed and won a special encouragement award because it had made great efforts towards cleanliness despite not having easy access to running water.

I'm not sure what the criteria for cleanliness were. Obviously running water is one factor. Hopefully hand washing and drying also featured because as most guys know, there is a knack to knowing when enough water has been shaken off before using ones trousers as towels. And as for choosing airports when the majority of the population doesn't fly is another Indonesian non sequiter. After all, air passengers have further opportunities to ‘go’ whilst they’re going somewhere aloft.

Still, it's a start, and if you're not pissed off with this topic, you can read more about it here, with the bonus of several comments.

*Or river.


At the start of the English football (EPL) season I bemoaned the fact that TV coverage had been hijacked by a Malaysian media conglomerate, Astro TV, which had/has just 100,000 subscribers (in a country with a population of c.230 million).

Bear in mind that I became a subscriber to Indovision, a satellite broadcaster, mainly so I could enjoy the sublime skills of some of the greatest footballers currently kicking the round ball around. (Obviously I'm not referring to the range of egg-shaped ball kicking thugs.)

So, imagine my joy this week on discovering that a local terrestial TV, LaTV, have negotiated with ESPN/Star, the holders of the EPL broadcasting rights for the region, and, in a sealed bid, bought broadcasting rights for this season and the next two.

LaTV is now reportedly owned by ANTV which is partly owned by Rupert Murdoch - coincidentally (really?) owner of ESPN/Star - and controlled by the Bakrie family (Lapindo/Sidoarjo mudflow anyone?)

LaTV was formerly owned by by Abdul Latief, former minister of Manpower and latterly Tourism under Soeharto. Latief introduced the monthly 'development tax' of $100 per month on expatriate workers who are sponsored for a work permit. That the accrued funds, payable upfront for a year ahead have yet to be publicly accounted for is immaterial. That the funds are supposedly intended to help the 'transfer of technology' and for training purposes yet are still levied on trainers and teachers is also immaterial.

I only make these points to let you know that not that much has changed since the KKKN (Korrupsi, Kollusi, Kronyisme, Nepotisme) days of Suharto.

And my point in this post is that of all the Indonesian terrestrial TV channels that my Indonesian satellite TV channel provider provides, LaTV is seemingly the only one they don't !!

How typical and ho-bloody-hum indeed.

Whatever, apparently the match wasn't worth watching anyway as Chelsea were crap. But Charlton remain in an automatic promotion spot.


11:30 am |
Thursday, September 27, 2007
  Inter(net)esting facts

1. More than half the UK is connected to broadband and the average speed has trebled over the past year and a half to 4.6 megabits per second - more than 80 times the speed of a dial-up internet connection.

Which is still ten times faster than I get on my dial-up connection here in Jakarta. But it seems that the UK is way behind the times.

Countries such as France, Germany, the US, Japan and South Korea have already started investing in networks which can deliver up to 100 megabits a second, enough for a dozen high-definition TV channels.

2. The Ministry of Communications and Information has a Director of e-Gov(ernment), Djoko Agung Harijadi. He would like decreased bureaucratic procedures in order to encourage a public service sector with transparent management systems offering efficient online information. The country needs a shift to cultural perspectives and improved infrastructure if it wants to successfully implement e-Gov.

"There are resistances against e-Gov," he said, according to today's Post. "This is mainly due to lack of awareness and recognition of needs of the system. Usage of the internet and computers is still low."

Surprised? Then see fact no.1.

3. Or take the case of The Reveller who lives a mere 20 metres from a main optic fibre cable laid by First Media for their FastNet 'service'. Apparently, this will allow subscribers to download at the hyperspeed of 3 megabits per second, which you've got to admit is pretty good.

Except the Rev is having the devil's own job in convincing FastNet to connect him even though his address was initially deemed suitable. He suspects that First Media is targetting those they think are the élite of Jakarta's society, which he certainly isn't. His house is tucked away and doesn't have one of those Ionic (ironic?) pillared frontages which the wealthy occupants hide behind whilst announcing their presence.

The owner of FastNet is, of course, a member of Indonesia's élite, living with his family in Lippo Village, Karawaci, surrounded by security aides. He needs to be as James Riady is (was?) not only a friend of Bill Clinton but is also a convicted criminal having illegally donated to Clinton's presidential campaign. He's not too popular here either, mainly because, heaven forfend, he's a born again Christian evangelist with a vision of converting poor villages to Christianity.

Renowned local blogger, Unspun, has recent news of Mr. Riady being a guest speaker at a national PR conference here, one of two.

Pertinent questions to ask about these conferences: Apart from the schmoozing and potential business leads for the hopeful, what would you get out of these conferences? Who are the speakers and what’s their caliber? (IPRA’s conference has james Riady speaking even though he cannot get Kabelvision working well to deliver good service and reliable internet connections, for instance) Are they known for achievements in PR or for just talking about PR? Apart from the tired old topics like internal communications and change communications, CSR CSR and more CSR, Going Glocal or its variations and PR ethics, are they saying anything new or examining in-depth how th whole bloody profession might be changed by New Media?

4. New Media
By this we can assume that Unspun is referring to blogging in all its forms as two further posts make very good points.

a. Another avenue of objecting to the men of SLORC or whatever they call themselves these days. If you’re in Facebook (some of you are not? where have you been) then join the group “Support the Monks Protest in Burma“. It’s got 10,694 members so far. Sadhu. Sadhu. Sadhu.

Separately, it is an interesting way to use a social media network for a cause or an issue. Just imagine if someone started a Watching Suhato’s Wealth Group, Walhi Watch Group or Kablvision Sucks group where everyone with any news about these subjects can post…what are the implications?

I couldn't agree more. Rather than twittering on about fave sounds, kissing the cat and drinking at Starbucks, there's a world out there that's pretty fucked up and maybe, just maybe, together we can do something to make it better.

b. The Australian Government is embracing blogging as a way of seeking the views of the public. It has released a discussion paper to canvass comment on setting up a “citizens’ blog”. The blog would enable people to take part in consultations, posting views in relation to various items of text or video provided by the Government.

Ong asks: Now isn’t this a better way to engage what is now a fact of life than, as is done in some backward countries, suing and picking fights with bloggers?

Ah, but only if they listen and act, Ong.

will be held on October 27 at (tentatively) Hard Rock Cafe. It will last from 10am to 4pm. Admission is free if you register before hand.

If you do decide to go, contact the aforementioned Ong of Unspun who initiated the event and is the main organiser. However, be aware that you need to be the holder of an Indonesian passport if you wish to be a participant. Those of us who are long-term residents and have yet to go the whole hog of dual nationality, thanks to the size of the required brown envelopes, will not be there as we have only been invited as observers.

Naturally we have been upset by this, as an often vituperative email thread makes clear. But then "it is the Indonesian bloggers that are an important "market" for the sponsors", Microsoft and Nokia who are giving Rp. 20 million's worth of goodies. You can see pics of the organisers and of today's press conference here.

It is good too to note that the Jakarta Post have seemingly come on board as sponsors. Now if they'd only keep the online pages open to all rather than registered users .....

There are only 200 places at the Pesta Blogger, with the first 100 'guaranteed' free entry. The original plans suggest that the next 100 would have to pay a hefty fee, but that may be so much bullshit. The press release gives little away.

Anyway, if you are one of the c.40,000 Indonesian bloggers in the country and you are interested in making money from your blog, you'd better get your application in quick. Say that Jakartass sent you and, hey, see if you can get something done about the lousy internet infrastructure in this "backward" country.

Labels: , ,



7:00 pm |
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
  What shall I blog about today?

Having been taken to task for using one long word when ten little ones will do, I'll try to write about little things and use words of no more than two sounds. This should make it easy for those who do not have a Webster's.

Fave Sounds

Simak Dialog - Patahan
On the MoonJune label in New York, owned by a friend whose name is very long, this is a good jazz album by a good group from this country. They played at the Dutch Huis here in town a couple of years ago. The crowd loved them.

Kevin Ayres - Unfair Ground
First new disc for 16 years from a loved British singer and songwriter. He first made a record 40 years ago when with the Wilde Flowers and then Soft Machine. And I've been a fan since because, as he sings on his (deleted) album, Falling Up, I'd Rather Go Fishing.

Ben Harper - Both Sides Of The Gun
"Harper is a natural-born superstar who has operated in the pop universe his way....He is, for all his flash, just Ben, a gifted singer, songwriter and guitarist bent on seeking transcendence in everyday places."
Rolling Stone

Fave drink
Coffee from a plantation near Medan.

Fave Day
The one after Friday.

Tit or Bum?

Today 'Er Indoors bought ....
a new gas stove and a loaf of bread. She paid in rupes.

I also took a photo of this cat in my front yard.

But I didn't kiss it, have a fight with the girlfriend or go to Starbucks.




4:30 pm |
Monday, September 24, 2007
  A New Human?

The discovery in 2003 on the island of Flores of a very short female humanoid, nicknamed "Hobbit", has provoked a long-running and sometimes acrimonious debate among scientists: was she really one of a race of mini-humans or was she merely one of us, but with a brain-shrinking disease?

Now it appears that because she had wrists just like us, she was one of us, albeit with a very small brain.

"What we are beginning to realise is that our recent evolutionary history is much more diverse than we realised," said Matthew Tocheri of the Smithsonian Institution, lead author on the paper in Science that describes the wrist bone analysis. "It's a little shot to our over-inflated modern human egos."

And this statement seems to be proved true with every passing day here in the country of Homo floresiensis. She wasn't a 'normal' human being with a brain-shrinking disease called microcephaly or some form of dwarfism. (I'm tempted to say that she was an Indonesian, except that nationalism is a fairly modern concept in the scale of things.)

Undoubtably she was a hunter-gatherer, a member of the first 'affluent society'. In the tropics, there is food in abundance with seasonal fruits year round. Her needs were within her reach, waiting to be gathered.

There are parallels here with today's urban middle classes hunting and gathering in shopping malls, except herein lies the modern tragedy: man today slaves to bridge the gap between his unlimited wants and his insufficient means. Yet, the original hunter-gathers didn't have to 'slave' their days away because their wants equated with their needs, which were sufficient unto the day. They therefore had time for leisure.

Compare this with the modern materialism of seeking 'more than is sufficient', and the need to buy leisure time. Wanting more than you need is buying into the greed factor fostered by the corporate world.

Consumption is a double tragedy: what begins in inadequacy will end in deprivation. Bringing together an international division of labour, the market makes available a dazzling array of products: all these Good Things within a man's reach - but never all within his grasp. Worse, in this game of consumer free choice, every acquisition is simultaneously a deprivation for every purchase of something is a foregoing of something else, in general only marginally less desirable, and in some particulars more desirable, that could have been had instead.

That sentence of "life at hard labour" was passed uniquely upon us. Scarcity is the judgment decreed by our economy. And it is precisely from this anxious vantage that we look back upon hunters. But if modern man, with all his technological advantages, still lacks the wherewithal, what chance has the naked savage with his puny bow and arrow? Having equipped the hunter with bourgeois impulses and palaeolithic tools, we judge his situation hopeless in advance.

Yet scarcity is not an intrinsic property of technical means. It is a relation between means and ends. We should entertain the empirical possibility that hunters are in business for their health, a finite objective, and that bow and arrow are adequate to that end.

It is from this paradigm that I, along with several friends within the Indonesian blogosphere, find myself at odds with a few who are trying to subvert our needs to express ourselves and to co-opt us into the pursuit of their wants. Considering that hyperspace is becoming the new social leveller, we find it somewhat perverse that efforts are being made to segment and control those of us who have found our level through our own efforts and experimentation.

I and many friends believe that true affluence is knowing when you are satisfied with what you've got and are willing to share any excess.

Jakartass, therefore, applauds initiatives which seek to provide practical models and services which incorporate these sentiments. Freecycle™Jakarta, a Yahoo group, is one such that I've linked to a couple of times before, mainly because I hoped that the idea would catch on. And this month I've received three mailings, an indication that maybe it is. The concept is simple: you have something you want to get rid of which maybe somebody wants.

Who knows, but surely there are some takers for the following:
1. An old Tamiya's model catalogue
2. An old-80% condition (it's still in good shape) 1960s Kodak Film delivery car pre-scale model made in United Kingdom
3. A keychain made from pewter from Thailand with muay thai fighter (kick boxer) as the picture on it
4. A 1980s Berlitz how to speak in Spanish-travel guide handbook

Another Yahoo group here is Komunitas Nebeng which offers a valuable service - a shared car pool for commuters. They seem to have an alternative site for Jakartans here.

In a city where one has to drive to a shopping mall in order to get any exercise, and where roads are clogged with SUVs which, if one can see through the darkened windows, have only one occupant complaining about traffic jams caused by new busway corridors, it is a pleasure to report their initiative. It's a simple one and I'm sure modelled on similar groups elsewhere. Transportless commuters are put in touch with drivers seeking passengers through a membership databank and share the costs of the journey.

Simple, basically self-governed, with minimal organisation except, possibly, in the beginning as the most appropriate 'business' model is developed. Eventually, assuming sufficient take up, this 'movement' assumes a life of its own, and the initiators can sit back, or move on to new venturers.
Much like the Indonesian blogosphere in fact. There are some 25,000 Jakarta blogs registered with Blogger alone.

Each is the unique voice of its creator who is hardly a 'hobbit' and surely those who manage to gather a readership are truly affluent.

New humans indeed.




6:30 pm |
Friday, September 21, 2007

Crazy Night$ In Jakarta
is really crazy, and I'm not referring to the fact that it's written in French and has given Jakartass and Indcoup permanent links . Nope, it's that the posts are, um, post-dated and therefore somewhat futuristic. The 'team' also have Crazy Day$ in Jakarta and Crazy Crui$in' in Indonesia which, as far as my fluency in French will allow, is about (probably) heterosexual travels around volcanoes, islands and bars. There are some really nice photos too.

I tried to check out the team, thinking that there are similarities with the very interesting but mysterious serial blogger Aangirfan who used to claim to be one of a group of ex-convent girls living in Monaco but now says he's living in the Vatican City. I believe s/he is behind Jakarta Kid and other assorted blogs, and presumably speaks and writes pretty good French.

All I discovered is that the Crazies$ are apparently in Jakarta, along with at least 24,500 other bloggers. And if you want an English version, please vote NOW.

Totally unrelated is the Foreign Prophecies blog set up by a young student called Toshihiko Atsuyama, who likes anime on Indonesian TV and Jakartass and is obviously someone with a bright future (unlike my bright past).




6:00 am |
Thursday, September 20, 2007
  Problems with Indonesian ISPs?

I'm getting a lot of returned mail, but generally only from addressees in Indonesia.

If you have any idea why this is happening or are having similar problems and Indosat is your ISP, please leave a message in the comment box. Or you could try to send me an email ........

These are samples of my returned email messages.

1. The original message was received at Wed, 19 Sep 2007 13:21:50 +0700 from ppp181-141-id.indosat.net.id while talking to in-mta2.plasa.com.:
<<< 421 Too many concurrent SMTP connections; please try again later.

2. while talking to mx2.mail.ukl.yahoo.com.:
<<< 421 Message temporarily deferred - 4.16.51

3. from ppp159-141-id.indosat.net.id
... Deferred
Warning: message still undelivered after 4 hours
Will keep trying until message is 1 day old

4. from ppp3-jkt2.indosat.net.id
Deferred: Connection reset by mail2.thejakartapost.com.
Message could not be delivered for 1 day
Message will be deleted from queue


9:00 am |
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
  Got Dem Ol' Busway Blues

My good friend, The Reveller doesn't seem to be having so much fun these days. You see, he works in Pondok Indah where the newly arrived residents are complaining that the Busway being routed through their hallowed streets is going to affect their property prices. You know what I think about their "fuck you, I'm better than you" attitude, but the Rev's problem is that he has the devil's own job getting in and out of this poncy neighbourhood. It's the traffic jams, you see.

So his solution is to buy a car. Go figure. Of course, if there were adequate pavements for pedestrians he could walk in and out, but this is Jakarta where you have to drive to shopping malls if you want a healthy stroll.

Apparently there will be three more Busway Corridors open before the end of the year: Harmoni in Central Jakarta to Lebak Bulus in South Jakarta, passing through the aforementioned Pondok Indah, Pinang Ranti in East Jakarta to Pluit in North Jakarta and Cililitan in South Jakarta to Tanjung Priok, the port in North Jakarta.

What is intriguing me is that work has started on building a special Busway lane which doesn't seem to be on any of the three routes mentioned. This is in Jl. MT Haryono, which runs parallel to the Bogor toll road, and is very close to Jakartass Towers.

Now, as you know, I'm not a complainer. I'm a mild-mannered easy-going kind of guy with an inquiring mind and what I want to know is - what the hell is going on? Why weren't we informed? But need we be? Aren't the elected local government and the not-so-polite civil servants (paid for, presumably, from public taxes) supposed to render these public roads for the optimum public use?

It is the seeming self-serving incompetence within City Hall, and the minimal transparency and communication out, which we've witnessed in these past ten years that leads to protests. We all know that major projects such as the Busway enrich the few. Maintenance of the corridors and associated infrastructure has been non-existent, leaving potential death traps in the access bridges, unnecessary gaps between the buses and the shelters where we get on or off, and not enough buses to meet public needs. Yet, the Busway is a popular, well-used form of public transport. That only 7% of the passengers have given up commuting by car is a shame; this statistic merely indicates that users have given up using the ancient carbon monoxide belching behemoths.

Jakarta is an enormous city and having an express bus service from the major hub that is Cawang, where the Bogor toll road links up with the ring road, or the bus terminal at Kampung Rambutan, makes absolute sense, assuming that commuting motorists have somewhere to abandon their cars for the day. And if this new Busway route goes somewhere useful, such as Grogol in West Jakarta, a route already well served by diesel-driven exhaust belching rattlers, then I'm all in favour.

Especially if it links up with the corridor into Pondok Indah. I've got friends living there who I haven't seen for years. They're trapped by the gridlock.

Labels: , ,



2:00 pm |
Sunday, September 16, 2007
  I'm an Unashamed Idealist

That was what I had on one of my pin badges when I was back in Blighty. I wish I had it here and then I could explain to Our Kid what it meant and what it still means to me. Our Kid has just started his own collection of badges.

I learnt long ago that slogans and symbols on badges had an awesome power. Back in 1968, a special year, on March 17th I was in Grosvenor Square, London, for the anti-Vietnam War demonstration that had wended its way from Trafalgar Square. I was wearing a large multi-coloured badge on my lapel.

I was then a primary school teacher with a class of forty 9-10 year olds (Grade 6) and that week I had confiscated an enormous pin badge denoting that I was a cohort of Captain Scarlet. (Youngsters should not assume that I have any knowledge of the new-ish series, Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet. Nope, I'm more in tune with Our Kid's fave, Pokémon.)

Anyway, there I was flaunting my affiliation and loads of folk came up to me, obviously jealous, and they'd ask me," Cor, wot group d'you belong to then?"

I'd casually inform them that I was a Capt. Scarlet Cohort, and not a member of the International Marxist Group nor a Socialist Worker, nor indeed, any of those chanting "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh" or "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kooks did you kill today?"

"Wow, man," they'd say, and I carried on.

This demo ended up being a violent affair as mounted police cleared the area of we hippies. My main claim to fame came here on this day: the police horse that swept me away had outflanked Mick Jagger with, presumably, Marianne Faithfull as well.

And I failed to get their autographs.

Ho hum.

All of which is a clumsy preambling introduction to a fascinating document published by the World Federation of United Nations Associations, called the State of the Future - 2007. The following is taken from the Executive Summary.)

It has been considered ridiculous to try and achieve health and security for all people. Equally ridiculous today is thinking that one day an individual acting alone will not be able to create and use a weapon of mass destruction or that there will not be serious pandemics as we crowd more people and animal habitats into urban concentrations while easy transborder travel exists and biodiversity is diminishing.

The idealism of the welfare of one being the welfare of all could become a pragmatic long-range approach to countering terrorism, keeping airports open, and preventing destructive mass migrations and other potential threats to human security. Ridiculing idealism is shortsighted, but idealism without the rigors of pessimism is misleading. We need very hardheaded idealists who can look into the worse (sic) and best of humanity and can create and implement strategies of success.

Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. It seems a shame that I have to keep on keeping on.

Amongst the highlights of the report:

The 225 richest people on the planet now earn the same as the poorest 2.7bn, equivalent to 40% of humankind, the report finds. (That's one billionaire to every 100 million people. Why?)

And although democracy is on the rise, with nearly half the world's population now living in democratic systems, it is in danger of being demolished by a culture of bribery. Contrary to the stereotype of the banana republic, only a minority of the political bribes paid each year goes to public officials in the developing world. The report published last week finds "the vast majority of bribes are paid to people in richer countries" where decision taking is "vulnerable to vast amounts of money".

Much of the income, more than $520bn, that flows through the world's black economy comes from counterfeiting and piracy. The drug trade is the second biggest earner, with an estimated $320bn in takings. Human trafficking is a small industry by comparison, worth under $44bn but arguably the most pernicious.

According to the UN, up to 27 million people are now held in slavery, far more than at the peak of the African slave trade.
The majority of the victims this time are Asian women.

Again, ho hum.


12:00 pm |
Saturday, September 15, 2007
  A Series of Echoes

1. Bengkulu Earthquake

There is no shortage of news about the latest natural disaster to hit Indonesia. The TV and radio relay news about relief efforts. There is information on the net about aid for other recent disasters but I am having difficulty in ascertaining where and how donations can be made, and what they should be.

Damage to buildings and infrastructure is extensive but, fortunately loss of life has been minimal. This may be due to greater awareness of potential earthquake damage following the previous Bengkulu earthquake in June 2000 of similar magnitude, 7.9 and, of course, the Aceh one in December 2004.

The Jakartass advice in the seeming absence of anything official, at least in the form of updated websites, is to let the professionals get on with their work and contact your country's Red Cross/Crescent.

In Indonesia, Palang Merah is already active in the affected areas and donations can be made to their bank account:
Bank Mandiri
Cabang Wisma Baja
(Swift Code: B E I I I D J A)
a/c 070.00001.160.17
a/n Palang Merah Indonesia


1:01 pm |
  2. Diarrheal Nonsensical Verbiage

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.

I'm sure the newly homeless in West Sumatra and the beggars, buskers and children about to swept off Jakarta's streets would be glad to agree .... if only.


1:00 pm |
  3. Righteous Anger

There are times when I think Jakartass is merely farting in the wind. But then along comes a breath of fresh air in the form of a professional writer, Andre Vltchek, who says this about Jakarta:

Today, high-rises dot the skyline, hundreds of thousands of vehicles belch fumes on congested traffic arteries and super-malls have become the cultural centers of gravity in Jakarta, the fourth largest city in the world. In between towering super-structures, humble kampongs house the majority of the city dwellers, who often have no access to basic sanitation, running water or waste management.

While almost all major capitals in the Southeast Asian region are investing heavily in public transportation, parks, playgrounds, sidewalks and cultural institutions like museums, concert halls and convention centers, Jakarta remains brutally and determinately 'pro-market' - profit-driven and openly indifferent to the plight of a majority of its citizens who are poor.

And this:

Some (Jakartans) simply collapse psychologically under the weight of the sheer ugliness of the place, where traffic jams are the main landmarks of the capital city and where one has to drive to the shopping malls in order to "take a walk." Almost nothing "public" has survived decades of the pro-business turbo-capitalism practiced in the Suharto and post-Suharto eras.


12:59 pm |
  4. Jakartass in print

Unless you've retained a few pieces of mine in the Jakarta Post, then you're unlikely to be holding any words of mine in the loo. But as of today you can because today's the day that Culture Shock - Jakarta is published.

My (partial) rewrite of the original book by my good friend Derek Bacon, who retains co-authorship status, is already a 'best seller' in terms of books about Jakarta, so I suppose I am now officially a 'professional writer' like Andre, finding issues that engage my interest.

And like him, I reckon that what I write in the book and here are found sounds, mere echoes of shared thoughts.

It is therefore important to give credit where some of it is due and these are the acknowledgments I made to my online friends:

Java Jive
Hera Diani
The Reveller
Antony Casual
Simon Pitchforth
Ong Hock Chuan
Dominic in Surabaya

I owe lots of Bintang beers to Gary Dean of Okusi Associates. I'm happy that he's teetotal.

Simon Grigg in Bali and Leonardo Pavkovic in New York added depth to Chapter 7 with their analyses of Indonesia's music scene.

For a jolly good read, check out Jakarta Kid which may or may not be a fictionalized account of an expat’s stay in Jakarta back in the early nineties.

Miko and Mr.Snag have enlivened the comments in Jakartass and are therefore to be thanked, even though at times I’ve wished they used their own blogs rather than mine.

And a big ‘hi’ to Jenny Q. who was experiencing culture shock in Jakarta throughout the rewrite of this book.

Now please go and order a copy while I work out how to place an ad on this page.


12:58 pm |
Thursday, September 13, 2007
  Earthquake Season?

Yesterday's quakes killed about ten people, some from falling masonry. The tsunami generated was about three metres high, not enough to cause serious damage, even though the revised magnitude of the temblor was 8.4, the biggest since the one that hit Aceh and caused the tsunami.

More quakes have been reported today in the Mentawai Islands region:
150 km (95 miles) SSW of Padang, Sumatra
330 km (205 miles) WNW of Bengkulu, Sumatra
625 km (385 miles) SSW of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
885 km (550 miles) WNW of Jakarta, Java.

No tsunamis have been reported.

Seismotectonics of the Indonesian Region

The Indonesian region is one of the most seismically active zones of the earth; at the same time it has a leading position from the point of view of active and potentially active volcanoes. It is a typical island-arc structure with its characteristic physiographic features, such as a deep oceanic trench, a geanticline belt, a volcanic inner arc and a marginal basin.

In most subduction zones, motion of the subducted plate is nearly perpendicular to the trench axis. In some cases, for example Sumatra, where the motion is oblique to the axis, a strike-slip fault zone is seen, and is lying parallel to the volcanic chain.

In plain language, this means that the Mentawai group of islands are in danger of being tipped into the Java Trench, which I believe would be a great shame. I've visited and written about the peoples of these islands a few times, such as here
and here.

Incidentally, there doesn't seem to be such a thing as an 'earthquake season'. They happen year round here ~ but there was another one today at the eastern end of the 'Ring of Fire'.


7:00 pm |
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
  Another massive earthquake has hit Sumatra.

According to TV news, and confirmed on various earthquake watch sites, an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 hit an hour ago. Its epicentre was recorded at the following distances:
15 km (10 miles) SW of Bengkulu, Sumatra
300 km (185 miles) SSW of Jambi, Sumatra
300 km (185 miles) WSW of Palembang, Sumatra
565 km (350 miles) WNW of Jakarta, Java

A tsunami warning has been issued for the Indian Ocean, although none has been sighted.

If there is further news of import to impart, no doubt we'll reactivate the Indonesia Help blog.


7:04 pm |
  Joe Zawinul R.I.P.

According to his website, he was born in Earth time on 07 July 1932 and was born in Eternity time on 11 September, 2007.

If you like jazz, tune into your local radio station for the next week or so to hear the music he made with Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis, Weather Report and the Zawinul Syndicate. He was always inspiring.


6:00 pm
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
  I broke the law today

Yep, I gave Rp.1,000 to a couple of very good buskers on my bus and according to a new bylaw enacted by the wise (and very rich) City Fathers, what I did was very wrong.

You see, the city administration thinks it's been soft; after all there has been a bylaw forbidding us to donate money to beggars, buskers and street children since 1988.

Councilor Inggard Joshua of the Golkar Party said the administration needed to be serious in implementing the bylaw or it would be a waste of time and money.

"The city administration has always conducted the 1988 ordinance in an on-and-off fashion. The enactment of the bylaw is the only key to public order," Inggard told Monday's plenary session at the council. The administration, he said, should look up to the city-state Singapore, which consistently enforced its public order regulations.

(When elected three years ago Pak.Inggards's declared wealth was Rp.5.69 billion ~ c.US$650,000 ~ and his stated concerns were the environment and housing.)

Selected points in the new bylaw:
* No unauthorized persons may manage traffic at intersections in return for money.
I tend to agree. It's almost guaranteed that if there's an unexpected traffic jam at a road junction then it's caused by guys from the neighbourhood blowing whistles and collecting beer money, and/or traffic policemen.

* No unauthorized persons may collect money from public transportation drivers or cargo shipment drivers.
That means you, Mr. Plod.

* Public transportation passengers are not to litter, to throw chewing gum, to spit or to smoke inside the vehicle they are traveling in.
Does this mean the drivers as well?

* No individual or institution may squat or stand on benches in public parks, unless it is for city agency purposes. No individual or institution is to leave chewing gum on park benches.
Public parks. What public parks?!?

* All individuals and institutions must register any animals they own with the city administration.
Oh, rats!

* No individual or institution may make, sell or possess fireworks or similar items.
This is obviously targetting the Betawi, the indigenous Jakartans, who celebrate weddings and returnees from the haj in Mecca with firecrackers.

* All food stalls and restaurants must have a halal certificate displayed in an easily seen area.
And are presumably allowed to continue to occupy all those sidewalk spaces not used as a car park or for enormous potted plants designed to stop pedestrians walking in a straight line.

* All individuals and institutions are prohibited from soliciting donations in the street, markets, housing complexes, hospitals, schools, offices and on public transportation without the permission of the governor ...... who would like a 25% cut, if you'd be so kind.

* No individual or institution may become a beggar, busker, street vendor or car windshield cleaner.
So, beggar off.

* No individual or institution may trade with street vendors or give money or goods to beggars, buskers or car windshield cleaners.
And this is the law I broke.

[Quotes fr. Jakarta Post]

Another lawbreaker in the news this week is "Indonesian dictator Suharto". Time magazine has been ordered to pay him US$106 million because they caused him some distress. Time alleged that his family amassed US$15 billion during his 32-year rule.

The May 1999 cover story in the magazine's Asian edition said much of the money had been transferred from Switzerland to Austria before Suharto stepped down amid riots and pro-democracy protests in 1998. Suharto, who has also been accused of widespread rights abuses, had filed a lawsuit with the Central District Jakarta and later the Jakarta High Court, both of which ruled in Time's favor.

A panel of three Supreme Court judges, including a retired general who rose in the military ranks during Suharto's administration, overturned the decisions on Aug. 31. The ruling ordered Time Inc. Asia and six employees to apologize in leading Indonesian magazines and newspapers as well as Time's Asian, European and America editions.

Supreme Court spokesman Nurhadi told The Associated Press. "The article and photographs hurt the image and pride of the plaintiff as a great retired army general and the former Indonesian president."

Poor diddums.

And what's that expression about one law for the rich ..... ..... ?

And let's not forget Munir who, if he hadn't been assassinated by BIN, the Indonesian (low) Intelligence Forces three years ago this week, would be still attacking human rights abusers such as the former Indonesian president and defending the rights of street children and the disenfranchised poor.




6:00 pm |
Saturday, September 08, 2007
  Transports of Delight?

Slipi on a good day

Having missed out yesterday's 'Bike to Work Day' it's only fair to mention that B2W have a 'Fun Day' tomorrow, Sunday, from 6am (eh?) to 5pm at Senayan.

The good news is that incoming Jakarta Governor, Fauwi Bozo, who has seemingly been an advisor to B2W since they started two years ago, has stated that his administration will set up special bicycle-only lanes along certain city streets. Furthermore, bike parking facilities will be built at the Kalideres, Kampung Rambutan and Ragunan busway terminals.

And the bad news?

Firstly, there were only 45 'clean air' days in the city last year. Officials are patting themselves on the back, whilst simultaneously coughing, because there were 54 days of supposedly clean air up to the end of last month. That's as much as one day in four. Wow.

Secondly, there is general anarchy on the roads which means that cyclists must be brave.

Thirdly, there is hardly an unpotholed road in the city, not even the new busway lanes.

Jakarta's Busway is in the news again this week. A new route is planned to go through the posh suburb of Pondok Indah but the residents are revolting. They have more money than sense, their houses are designed to flaunt wealth, and they have a car for every member of their family - and it is this very wantonness which necessitates a decent and speedy public transport service for the rest of us.

How else are their servants supposed to get to work?

The problem, as the residents see it, is that the median in the road passing their shopping malls will have to be narrowed to make way for bus shelters and trees will have to be removed. But what they are unaware of is that just twenty years ago most of the area was still agricultural land.

There is a simple solution to the woes of the Pondok Indah population. City Hall should issue special vehicle registration plates to them. They must then agree not to drive into the city (thereby adding to the traffic woes of everybody else) in return for a ban on public transport into the unsightly mess (IMHO) that is their soulless suburb. If they wish to enter the city, then they must pay a special toll.

Ignoring the snobbish concerns of the nouveaux riche, it is worth noting that Jakarta got the idea from Bogota in Colombia. There was an International Seminar on Sustain Mobility (sic) there in February 2003 and Mrs DA Rini MSc. of the Jakarta Transport Authority read this paper.

There are numerous complaints about the Busway service and the lack of maintenance of the infrastructure. But these concerns, judging from the inadequacy of the presentation, were complacently pre-ordained.

Public transportation is a back bone social economic activities for any big city like Jakarta and for years the Jakarta system gone not in the wright way although is not mean to be.
• Busway is an icon on how we plan to rearrange the system and management of a public transportation in Jakarta.
• The program had been softly launched but the plan has to be improved accordingly to overcome impact that might arise.
• Outsourcing of the plan and the program are most important task to do to avoid any fails and to learn how to succeed.


Labels: , ,



11:30 am |
Friday, September 07, 2007
  Expats Deprived

Yes, I do mean deprived and not depraved.

Having become less regular in my blogging, a habit overtaken by other happenstances, inspiration takes longer to arrive (and less financially worthwhile).

I'm not like the Diamond Geezer who's been at it, blogging that is, for five years. But he does remind me that it's OK to post a list of links one day, a political polemic the next and something seemingly random the day after.

So, if you're feeling deprived of my pearls, feel no more.

I feel deprived because I've only got one track of Thee, Stranded Horse. Listen to tracks here.

I'm also deprived of English football coverage on TV, like the majority of Indonesian fans. So I read about 'my' team's fans and live in hopes.

There's also a general absence of TV programmes that I want to watch. I know that I want to watch them because Nancy Banks-Smith writes so engagingly about them.

There is a photograph of John Wolfenden sitting in a deckchair like a giraffe relaxing. It is an entertaining study in angles. His endless legs are folded up. If the chair had folded, too, it seems probable neither would ever be disentangled.

He took on a job no one else would touch, chairing a committee into the law on prostitution and homosexuality, which was then illegal. His experience of homosexuality amounted to knowing that it should be pronounced homo with a short "o" (being derived from the Greek word for the same) and not, as is widely supposed, homo with a long "o" (from the Latin for man).

Wolfenden's sense of humour was as deeply hidden as a mammoth in permafrost. If you weren't looking for it, you'd miss it. To spare the blushes of the stenographer, he proposed to refer to homosexuals as Huntleys and prostitutes as Palmers, his eye having been caught by the Huntley & Palmer biscuit factory on the train from Reading to London.

Jammy Dodgers will never taste the same again.

And if you want to know what an albatross eats ......... actually, you don't, because it shouldn't.


11:00 am |
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
  The Post takes a stance.

An editorial in today's Jakarta Post that I could have written, but didn't because I think my English is better, includes the following points:
Some years ago, pre-krismon, there was a TV infomercial (which I think is a fancy word for a public service announcement). It made sense then, and still does today.

Hemat energi, hemat biaya.
Save energy, save costs.

The Post's closing statement is the most categorical of any I can recall.

If all our calls and efforts fail, and the current government, with the backing of parliament, goes ahead with its nuclear policy, we will leave it to the people to punish them by voting them out of office.

Further Reading

A recent survey indicates that about two-thirds of Americans would support expanding nuclear power significantly if "effective waste storage" were not an issue. However, fewer than one in three believes nuclear power plant waste can be stored safely, .

Biofuel is not the answer: biofuel from cleared forest land actually outstrips petrol fuel in its carbon dioxide intensity because of the massive loss of carbon dioxide absorption capacity when virgin forest is cut down.

SBY on Corruption

"Corruption eradication must be done now, iy may not be delayed and without exemption. If it is not stopped right now, the corruption will continuously encumber the nation economy and hamper Indonesian people."

Indonesia Corruption Watch
- First Crush the Oligarchy
The previous presidents of Indonesia have failed to eradicate corruption, although a lot of regulations have been reviewed and new laws enacted. However, corruption in this country has not been reduced, but has spread further to every level of the government and beyond.

Labels: , ,



9:00 am |
Sunday, September 02, 2007
  Why must there always be a 'but'?

FiRST Empowering You says the multi-coloured ad for a new broadband service being launched here. Offering "Unlimited Usage" for a a range of monthly fees, from (up to) 384kbs to (up to) 3000, this seems to be the answer to my dreams, or, at the least, the end to my internet nightmares.

Just imagine. With broadband I can clutter up Jakartass with tedious video shots of my snake eating a mouse or the girlfriend shaving her legs. (NSFW? I wouldn't know, as I haven't actually watched this, not with my current 3.6kbs!) More likely, though probably of less concern to you, I could download the video of Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin's classic hit What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted.

So what's the 'but'?

FastNet's website asks: Interested in our products and prices? We want to make sure that you are provided with the most accurate information on our services and availability in your area, please enter your address in the fields below.

The fields include:
Region : [---Please select---], Area Name [---Please select your area---],
Type : House O or Building/Apartment/Hotel O
Complex Name : [---All---]
Street Name : [---Please select---]

The only field I can complete is House and the page closer is this:

Unavailable network on selected area.

They have another ad in the paper for cable TV, but I'm not overly interested in that. So that's half a page used up in the Post to advertise a yet-to-be launched service.

It makes me want to kick a few butts.

Apparently their site can only be viewed in I.E., but they couldn't be bothered to let you know. Not, of course, that actually putting in my address helps me much.

It seems we haven’t reached your area yet! To make sure that we do, please fill up the request form below so that we can include your area in our network and contact you as soon as we are available to you.

So I filled it in, clicked on SEND but only got this message:
Object reference not set to an instance of an object.

Ho bloody hum.

As for the cable TV 'service', you may recall my recent diatribe against the media monopolists who have denied Indonesians the opportunity to watch any live Premiership matches on TV, unless they choose to subscribe to the Malaysian outfit Astro.

My fellow contributor to the Sunday Post, Simon Pitchforth, has a moan today about them.

We're still having trouble getting Astro to connect us up to televisual images of 22 men kicking a leather ball around. There seems to be a big backlog of potential customers who are waiting for their footy and I guess we are way down the queue.

I doubt it Simon. You know that queuing is an alien concept here, but I'm still happy to wait until you post the full article in Metro Mad.

And as for my footy, Charlton is not a regular feature in the news this season as we're now in the misnamed Championship, which is actually the second tier.

But, hey, we're the favourites for promotion and there were no ifs or buts about the result yesterday.
We sure kicked the Palace butts.




1:30 pm |
Alien Thoughts from Home

Home Thoughts from Abroad

Interactive World Time

Indonesian Dictionary

Indonesian Acronyms

Indonesian Slang

Learn Indonesian

Currency Converter

Email Me

The WeatherPixie

5 Day Forecast

Get Firefox!

  • West Sumatra Earthquake Aid Agencies
  • Sidoarjo Mud Volcano
  • Reports on Crashes and Sinkings

  • Living in Indonesia
  • Tempo
  • Bugils News
  • Jakarta Post
  • Jakarta Globe
  • Down To Earth
  • Loads of Advice
  • Inside Indonesia
  • Green Indonesia
  • Hobson's Choice
  • Gunung Bagging - New - clamber volcanoes
  • Indonesian Music
  • Indahnesia Online
  • Maps of Indonesia
  • Indonesia For Kids - blog
  • Green Group Links
  • Faces of Indonesia - blog
  • Photos of Indonesia
  • Indonesian Publications
  • International Crisis Group
  • Indonesian Engaged Travel - blog
  • Outside The Indonesian Box - blog
  • Indonesian Corruption Watch
  • News and Events Aggregators
  • Indonesia's Vegetarian Restaurants

  • Living in Jakarta
  • Culture Shock - Jakarta - 'my' book
  • Bataviase - loads of info in Indonesian
  • Rujak.org - for a sustainable Jakarta
  • Jakarta Kid - stories of street kids
  • Jakarta Events - as it says in the title
  • Map of Jakarta
  • Jakarta Nite Out
  • Jakarta Nite Out - for Francophiles
  • Jakarta 100 Bars - as it says in the title
  • Jakarta Java Kini - upmarket magazine
  • Jakarta Urban Blog- as it says in the title
  • Jakarta Green Map
  • Jakarta Daily Photo - as it says in the title
  • Jakarta? Been there!
  • Protecting Jakarta Bay
  • Nightlife - for single guys - check the forums
  • Jakarta Restaurant Reviews - as it says in the title

  • Living in Bali
  • Hector - at Bali Times
  • Bali Spirit
  • Bali Expat Forum
  • Nusa Lembongan News
  • I've Been To Bali Too Blog - defunct but still good stuff

  • Education Matters
  • Education 21
  • Performing Monkeys
  • Yayasan Goodwill International

  • Pre-Independence History
  • 1941-1942
  • A Family Tale

  • Del Boy - my multi-talented co-author
  • Hotel Rimbo - a mate
  • Ethos Travel - Son No.1
  • Indo Fair Traders
  • Organic Vanilla
  • Merdeka Coffee
  • Pekerti Nusantara

  • Indonesian Blogs in English
  • Top Blogs
  • Merdeka - aggregator
  • Elyani - good stuff
  • Therry - good stuff
  • Om'Bak - group thoughts
  • Yosef Ardi - business gossip
  • Treespotter - his serious blog
  • Milk Tea Girl - poems and stuff
  • Bitching Babe - another slice
  • Café Salemba - ekonomi +
  • Enda Nasution - The Guv'nor
  • Aroeng Binang - a neighbour
  • Harry Nizam H. - legal practitioner
  • Ethereal Shards - youthful ponderings
  • Muli's Commune - defunct but good links
  • Isman H. Suryaman - not a 'Fool'
  • Rasyad A. Parinduri - ekonomi
  • Tasa Nugraza Barley - returned from the USA
  • Indonesia Anonymus - infrequent but always good

  • Indonesian Expats
  • Naz - a "12.5% Indonesian" in Norway
  • Bleu - in Malaysia
  • Anita - in Scotland
  • Maya - in Antibes
  • The Writer - in Denmark
  • Spew-It-All - in Australia
  • Jennie Bev - in SF
  • Rima Fauzi - in Belgium
  • Nadia Febina - in Angola
  • Society of Spectacle - in Berlin
  • Overseas Think Tank - for Indonesia
  • Indonesians Living Abroad Forum - as it says in the title

  • Expat Bloggers in Indonesia
  • PJ Bali - oil worker
  • Mat Solo - Malaysian oil worker
  • Jenny Q - an expat wife
  • Dr Bruce - retired teacher in Bali
  • Spruiked - Brett's take on things
  • Indoprism - an expat family
  • Java Jive - original photoblog (now in the Phillipines)
  • Amor Fati - good links
  • Metro Mad - Jakarta Globe columnist
  • Rob Baiton - back in Oz
  • Jakarta Kid - about street kids
  • Green Stump - in Kalimantan
  • Most Curious - née Betty Loves Blogging
  • The Mad Rotter - Henk loves Indonesian music
  • Duncan Graham - journo archives
  • Hardship Posting - more wtf
  • Indonesia Matters - loads of stuff
  • The Opinionated Diner - and NZ music
  • Patrick Guntensperger - has opinions on current issues

  • Selected Aseanist Blogs
  • SARAwho? - Southeast Asia Aggregator
  • Pelf-ism is Contagious
  • Brommel - usually in Indonesia
  • Friskodude - SF travel writer
  • Klong Walking - an Addick in Bangkok
  • Agam's Gecko - musings from Thailand

  • London Blogs
  • Diamond Geezer
  • London Daily Nature Photo
  • London Bloggers Tube Map

  • Other Fave Blogs
  • Aangirfan - who is s/he?
  • Ad Busters - ecological economic sense
  • Samizdata.net
  • Strange Games
  • The J-Walk Blog
  • Environmental Graffiti

  • Charlton
  • Doctor Kish
  • Inspector Sands
  • Forever Charlton
  • Official Charlton site
  • Addickted to Blogs
  • Ex-Charlton forward in Belize

  • I'm an Aging Hippie
  • Man
  • XTC
  • World Changing
  • MoonJune Records
  • Canterbury Sounds

  • My Youth
  • Blackheath
  • Charlton Lido
  • Charlton House
  • Woolwich Ferry
  • Greenwich Park
  • Severndroog Castle
  • Overlapping Memories
  • More Overlapping Memories
  • Map of My Stomping Ground

  • Put Your Feet Up
  • Biscuit of the week
  • 50's British TV Nostalgia
  • Hello Children, Everywhere

  • Enter your Email

    Subscribe with Bloglines

    Locations of visitors to this page


    eXTReMe Tracker

    Listed on BlogShares

    Personal Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

  • May 1998
  • March 2004
  • April 2004
  • May 2004
  • June 2004
  • July 2004
  • August 2004
  • September 2004
  • October 2004
  • November 2004
  • December 2004
  • January 2005
  • February 2005
  • March 2005
  • April 2005
  • May 2005
  • June 2005
  • July 2005
  • August 2005
  • September 2005
  • October 2005
  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • December 2013
  • Creative Commons Licence