Dream on Malaysia while Indonesia takes stand against “Islamic” crazies

I’ll never forget how wistful my Malaysian cardiologist was when he found out that I was from Indonesia and that we now have Jokowi as the President.

“He seems a good guy, isn’t he?” he said of Jokowi as I lay prone and half naked on the examination table.

“Yes he is,” I said.

“Ah, if only we can have a leader like that, simple, honest, straightforward…” he said as his stethoscope hovered over me and his mind conjured up the same qualities for his national leader.

Then he looked sad as reality bit. “Too bad, we can only dream what you have in Indonesia…” Perhaps he was conjuring images of his own leaders?

The sad thing about my cardiologist is that he is not alone among Malaysians. In my last trip back a few weeks ago my friends and acquaintances also reflected this sentiment. It seems that they are close to despair that the winds of change that have prevailed in Indonesia will ever reach them.

This despair is understandable though when you look at Malaysian society today and how religion, mainly Islam, is being used by an increasingly emboldened group to assert the superiority of the Malays overt the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia.

These groups have tacit, and sometimes not so tacit, backing from the Government and the ruling Umno party. A bit like the FPI (the Islamic Defenders Front) in Indonesia during the previous administrations.

Before the changes that swept the likes of Jokowi, Ahok, Riduan Kamil and other progressive leaders to power in national and municipal governments. The only power centre was the Government, made up of political brahmins out to rip off the country.

As the main interest of these brahmins was to enrich themselves by securing their political positions, they tacitly, and sometimes not so tacitly, supported organisations like the FPI and Laskar Jihad, essentially thuggish gangs abusing the name of Islam as a cover for their  extortion, intimidation and coercion of others, Muslim or not.

During Ramadhan the FPI would, for instance, conduct raids on licensed drinking establishments and turn those places upside down — unless they were paid protection money.

At other instances, depending on who paid them, they would harass whatever targets even to them.

For a long while many Indonesians despaired but there was little they could do. The police was reluctant to move against these organisations as they knew that their political masters were behind them. Companies went unheeded or left to wither in some mouldy file on some dusty desk.

Many Indonesian Muslims also felt trapped as to criticise them could be construed as criticising Islam. All a bit like Malaysia today, you just have to substitute the names of the organisations into Perkasa and other Malaysian organisations.

But while Malaysia still wallows in this unhappy state of affairs, Indonesia has moved on and have called the bluff of the bullies.

Jakarta Vice Governor Ahok, an ethnic Chinese and Christian, has borne the brunt of the FPI’s wrath over the past few months as they sought to block his swearing in (they didn’t succeed. He was sworn in yesterday). They called him an infidel and other names and say that he should not be allowed to lead Muslims.

But instead of keeping quiet or avoiding the issue Ahok has done something really brave. he took the FPI full on head-to-head. He has now filed a complaint with the Home Ministry asking that the Government ban the organization.

But what is heartening to note too in Indonesia is how the ordinary Muslims from all sectors of society are also speaking up against these self-proclaimed defenders of Islam and Islamic values.

All over social media, in small protests and in social settings they are making their voice heard that the real Islam is one of compassion, tolerance and understanding – and the FPI do not represent them.

It is through widespread groundswells like these that the tyranny of bullies like the FPI can be checked. Wouldn’t it be great if such groundswells can take place in Malaysia as well?

Posted in democracy, Indonesia, Islam, Law Enforcement, Malaysia | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Dramatic reversal of perception over JIS sexual assault case

How the worm turns.

It now appears – from the news story below – that the Police, according to the Commission on Missing Persons and the Victims of Violence (Kontras), may have coerced a confession from the janitors at the Jakarta International School that they had sexually abused a student.

Not only that but a representative of the school parents has also question the veracity of the claims by the so-called victim’s mother that he had been abused 13 times by four janitors.

Such an abuse, she said would not have yielded the findings of a medical examination, that stated that the child’s anal passage was normal, that it did not suffer from bruises.

With this the picture that emerges is starting to look the very opposite of what it seemed like in April 16 this year when the news first broke.

Back then, JIS looked like it was the guilty party because it said nothing for at least 10 days, before coming out with a weak response (see this earlier posting). That reinforced the public perception that they and their janitors must be in the wrong.

Whether they were or not is beside the point. Recent developments suggest that they are probably not.

But the lesson here is that the truth is usually the first casualty during crisis-like situation.

When serious accusations against an institution or organisation starts to fly, it quickly becomes a black and white world where the media is concerned. They either appear as the good guys or they are perceived as the bad guys.

JIS’s silence and initial half-hearted responses unfortunately placed them in the latter category. From there it is a slow and agonising crawl back to truth, if it ever emerges.

But now it looks like there is a good opportunity for them to clear their name. They must press home the advantage and lay the issue to rest as soon as possible or it will fester, and who knows how that will turn out?

Kontras : Rekayasa Kasus dalam Kasus JIS Semakin Jelas | Beritasatu.com

Komisi untuk Orang Hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan Kontras menilai penanganan kasus dugaan kekerasan seksual di sekolah Jakarta International School JIS menjadi salah satu bukti tindakan polisi yang ceroboh, tidak independen dan memaksakan sebuah kasus dari bukti-bukti yang sangat lemah.

Koordinator Kontras Haris Ashar mengatakan, kasus JIS memperlihatkan bagaimana polisi membentuk sebuah rangkaian cerita yang tidak berdasarkan alat bukti.

Akibatnya untuk memaksakan ceritanya, polisi melakukan tindak kekerasan dan penyiksaan terhadap pekerja kebersihan JIS agar mengakui kasus kekerasan seksual itu.

“Kasus JIS kembali mempertontonkan kepada kita bagaimana sebuah rekayasa terjadi. Kematian seorang pekerja kebersihan JIS dengan muka lebam menjadi bukti bahwa tindak kekerasan oleh polisi itu nyata terjadi,” ujar Haris dalam media Briefing bertema Tantangan Kinerja Polisi di Pemerintahan Jokowi yang digelar Kontras di Warung Tjikini, Selasa 4/11.

Haris menambahkan, kasus JIS merupakan satu dari tiga kasus yang sangat lekat dengan faktor kekerasan dan rekayasa. Dua kasus lainnya adalah kasus Brigadir Susanto, polisi yang diduga menembak atasannya di Polda Metro pada Maret 2014 dan kasus penahanan Muhammad Arsyad dengan dugaan konten pornografi kepada presiden.

Terkait kasus JIS, lanjut Haris, dari hasil monitoring dan investigasi yang dilakukan Kontras, banyak fakta-fakta persidangan yang bertolak belakang dengan BAP yang disusun oleh polisi.

Misalnya hasil visum rumah sakit dan keterangan sejumlah saksi yang dihadirkan penuntut umum semakin melemahkan cerita polisi.

Continued…

Posted in communications, Crisis and issues management, Indonesia, Media | Leave a comment

Did Hashim get a fair shake in his “investigate and obstruct” quote?

This is controversial so let’s get Unspun’s motives and political inclinations out of the way.

Unspun is not an Indonsian voter but if he was he would have voted Jakowi for president. Not so much because Jokowi is great presidential material but because his election would put Indonesia further along the path of democracy. The election of a man with humble beginnings into the highest office would help crumble the power structures of the corrupt political elite in Indonesia.

Unspun is also wary of Prabowo because of his murky past and continuing stories that suggest someone not quite grounded in reality. That said, Hashim seems to be very reasonable and articulate and it is a constant source of wonder why he continues to back his brother, unless one subscribes to the theory tot irrevocable and inseparable blood ties.

So it was a bit of a surprise why Hashim would be so careless to say in his interview with Reuters and the Wall Street Journal in early October that the Red and White Coalition will “investigate and obstruct” Jokowi’s policies.

On October 8 Reuters published this story  in which Hashim was supposed to say: “We will use our power to investigate and to obstruct.” This quote has apparently been, claims Hashim, twised by the Indonesian media to portray him and th Red and White Coalition as destructive and spiteful entities.

Hashim on October 12 released the full voice recording of the interview on YouTube and listening to the interview is fascinating.

Hashim

Just after the 28 minute mark on the video Hashim was asked by Reuters if the Coalition would “use the power of the budget, the power of the purse” to stop Jokowi. Hashim interrupts before the question finishes and talks if its instances such as the purchase of Chinese buses while Jakarta was under Jokowi’s administration.

The reporters says yes, Hashim goes on and concludes that “we will investigate that”.

Then he delivers the statement that has become the controversial quote. In the recoding Hashim says: “”Um yeah, if we see that there is various problems we would use our powers to investigate and to obstruct.”

So the interesting question here, and this is one that journalists under pressure of deadlines have to constantly struggle with, is whether “We will use our power to investigate and to obstruct” as quoted in the Reuters article is a fair portrayal of his actual statement.

What do you all think?

Posted in Indonesia | 2 Comments

Connecting Deeper and soaring to great heights at the #APMF2014

Unspun had the privilege to be invited to attend and to speak at the Asia Pacific Media Forum (APMF) 2014, a biennial gathering of creatives, advertising agencies, media houses, publishers and advertisers from huge brands. And what a privilege it was!

It was what a convention is supposed to be – meticulous organisation, an eclectic and impressive list of international and local speakers from government with one or two musicians thrown in to spice things up, world class creatives and specialists with insights to share about the developments taking place in measurement, analytics and technology.

Throughout the two-day convention the speakers were almost always on topic and did not, like it is so common in other seminars in Indonesia, engage in hard selling. They were all there to share their insights and thoughts on what’s happening in their respective areas.

The convention actually began on the eve of the opening, at a welcoming dinner for the almost 700 attendees hosted by tycoon Harry Tanoe from the MNC Group where everyone got a chance to mingle, catch up with old friends and make new acquaintances.

The plenary hall of the APMF. http://t.co/kH5Kl3YrnB

Unspun was there for only a short time because he had seen the stage where he and other speakers were to speak from, and the hall at the Bali Nusa Dua Hotel and Convention centre. The size and scale of the stage – think two giant screens and a humoungous stage where you can train for a half marathon on – struck fear into Unspun, who was normally nonchalant about rehearsals.

The sound system was fantastic though and the technicians supporting us were so helpful they saved Unspun’s presentation from disaster by offering to edit  the videos in it.

The next morning and the opening ceremony started a little late with a keynote presentation from Ajaz Ahmed, the CEO and Co-founder of AKQA, a hot name in the creative community. Ajaz had founded the company when he as only 21 and bills itself as the “imaginative appellation of art and science to create beautiful ideas, products and services.” He talked about how to build a company in a time of great change and showcased some of their creative work. Unspun was more impressed musing how someone so young is able to persuade giant companies such as Nike and Red Bull to try out his ideas.

From there one speaker after another was introduced to the stage with a minimum of fuss. Just the name and their title and their topic, without the usual reading of their bios. Something for other conventions to learn here.

Unspun was the warmup speaker for lunch because of the overruns. I spoke on Social Media gone Wild, how wild social media can get where big brands are concerned. Sometimes it is a simple mistake they make or a wrong reaction to social media postings and they suddenly find themselves in a social media maelstrom. Unspun’s advice to the candidates was to incorporate crisis management practices when launching social media campaign. That way if things should go wrong the brand won’t shoot itself in the foot.

Unspun also said that an understated strategy in crisis-like situation, especially when social media – with its ephemeral and fleeting nature in involved – is to keep silent and not react prematurely.

Other speakers that day that impressed Unspun were Facebook’s Indonesia Country Chief Anand Tilak who spoke about the importance of using analytics in trying to make sense of the nation’s Facebook users, who are legion; Kudsia Kahar, the Chief Broadcaster of the The Star Group who spoke about how to deliver great content; and Executive Director and CEO of News Media Association Earl Wilkinson’s delivery on how Legacy Publishers  and how they need to adapt for a brand new audience.

The day’s session ended with a rousing presentation from Abdee from Slank who delivered a touching and electrifying version of Salam Dua Jari and the sardonic Where are you Mr President.

Abdee from Slank energised the audience of 700 with his “Salam Dua Jari”. Photo courtesy of AMPF committee

Pumped up, the attendees then went for an Indonesian dinner hosted by the Kompas Gramedia Group. True to its nature guests were treated to something very Indonesian – lesehan style seating on the floor – and something modern JFlow’s R&B electronic/music.

The next morning started with Chairmon (sic)/Chief Creative Officer of DM9 Merlee Jayme who has so many awards it might take need another posting to complete them all. One intriguing idea that Unspun got out of her presentation was that there was nothing stopping the creative agency to come up with a product instead of an advertising or PR campaign idea.

Paramadina University Rector and the founder of Indonesia Mengajar next took to the stage with a heartfelt plea for Indonesians to be more involved in their country, no doubt presaging the Mental Revolution that Jokowi will try to implement when he takes power.

Anies Baswedan:..we all clearly know our roles as husband, father, rector…but what about our role as an Indonesian? Photo courtesy of AMPF committee

Next up with Eric Tohir in his capacity as President of FC Internazionale Milano, explaining ho his acquisition of the football club was also a way of projecting Indonesia’s newfound confidence onto the world stage.

This was followed by the Big Break, an regular feature at the APMF where several startups had five minutes each to pitch themselves to the audience. This year’s candidates were Iphonesia, Marbel, PicMix and Karamel.

Unfortunately Unspun had to leave the APMF at midday to catch a flight and therefore missed two great presentations – according to the Twitter feed that Unspun ws still abel to follow – in the afternoon: That of Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil and the legendary storyteller the CEO and Executive Creative Director of Hakuhodo Kettle Kentaro Kimura.

Kentaro Kimura on why 1+1=3. Photo courtesy of @newsplatter

In spite of having to leave early Unspun had benefited so much by being at the APMF. It was a great place to meet people and network; it was very efficiently organised; the speakers and attendees were all taken care of very well; there were great speakers from within and outside Indonesia, and the convention was conducted entirely in English, something that would help this very Indonesian production reach international status soon.

The closing ceremony. Photo courtesy of AMPF committee

And why not, because it was a world class production. Kudos to the organising committee led by Andi Sadha, Ricky Pesik (who sacrificed his birthday and celebrated it early on the second day of the convention), and Jerry Justianto. The convention had truly delivered on its theme of Connecting Deeper.

Posted in Indonesia | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Contracts not valid if it ain’t in Indonesian?

Whoa! This may have far reaching implications for foreign companies that have signed contacts with Indonesian companies — and result in lots of work for Indonesian lawyers and translators.

Another mess for the Jokowi government to try to sort out if they want to attract foreign investment.

INDONESIAN HIGH COURT AFFIRMS FIRST INSTANCE COURT DECISION THAT CONTRACTS WRITTEN IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARE VOID

There has been continuing uncertainty and concern about the Indonesian legislative requirement that the Indonesian language be used in contracts with Indonesian parties.

In the absence of anticipated implementing regulations, there are many unresolved questions about the meaning and applicability of the broadly expressed requirement.

In May 2014 the Jakarta High Court rejected an appeal against the 2013 ruling by the West Jakarta District Court which declared an Indonesian law governed loan agreement between an Indonesian borrower and a foreign lender to be void on the basis that the loan agreement was written in English in contravention of the requirements under Indonesia’s Law No. 24 of 2009 concerning Flag, Language and Symbol of State and National Anthem “Law 24/2009” – please click here for our previous e-bulletin on the impact and effect of the first instance decision.

There was no new legal reasoning provided by the Jakarta High Court as to why the first instance judgment should be upheld. The judgment simply stated that the appeal submitted by the foreign lender to overturn the first instance judgment was rejected on the following grounds:the Jakarta High Court was of the view that the first instance decision was decided correctly in compliance with prevailing laws; andthere were no new facts submitted by the appellant that would undermine the first instance decision.

via 2014/09/17 – Indonesia Update | Indonesian High Court affirms first instance court decision that contracts written in English language are void.

Posted in business, Indonesia, Litigation PR | Leave a comment

Elisabeth Pisani’s Bad Boyfriend in a guide slanted to women and issues

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a book review I wrote for Magdalene on the critically acclaimed (by reviews in Economist, New York Times etc, and now Unspun) Indonesia Etc.

Magdalene

 

 

Posted in Indonesia | 1 Comment

A sorry apology over the “opportunity” arising from Robin Williams’ death

This is a timely reminder for all of us in the communications industry not to get carried away by our literary abilities and thought leadership skills, to the extent that we become insensitive on matters that matter to people most.

A mistake has been made, an apology issued but I wonder what PR professionals would make of the Twitter apology? To me it did not go enough. There was no mea culpa and then it segued straight into intent. It falls short of an ernest apology, especially for professional wordsmiths.

Personally I am saddened by the death of Robin Williams, who has been a part of so much of the lives of  people of my generation since Mork and Mindy days.

That he apparently committed suicide because depression only goes to show how vulnerable we all are to this condition. The role that depression plays in our lives, especially when we get older, is rap and scary. We all need to learn more about depression and its link with Alzheimer’s Disease.

RIP Robin Williams.

PR Giant Edelman Apologizes for Calling Robin Williams Death an Opportunity

But says blog post on sparking mental health discussion will remain live

By David GrinerAugust 14, 2014, 10:40 AM

Robin Williams died Monday. Authorities say he committed suicide. | Photo: Jay Paul/Getty Images

 

Edelman is usually tapped with helping brands avoid or disentangle themselves from public backlash, but the global PR firm instead found itself in the hot seat this week.At issue was a blog post from media relations strategy evp Lisa Kovitz, who said the suicide of comedian Robin Williams created a PR opportunity for groups advocating for better treatment of mental illness.

“As we mourn the loss of Robin Williams to depression, we must recognize it as an opportunity to engage in a national conversation,” she wrote. “His death yesterday created a carpe diem moment for mental health professionals and those people who have suffered with depression and want to make a point about the condition and the system that treats it.”

While she certainly has a point about such a high-profile tragedy bringing mental health and depression into the spotlight, quite a few readers found the post to be in poor taste.

Most of the backlash likely stemmed from Gawkers writeup calling Edelman a “soulless PR conglomerate” using a celebritys suicide to promote its own expertise.

Asked by Adweek whether she regretted the phrasing or the intent of the blog post, Kovitz directed us to Edelmans tweet of apology this morning:

 

Despite the companys apology, Kovitz said the blog post “will remain live.” Most critics of the post said they felt it was positioned as a sales message for the PR agency:”Using someones death as an opportunity to position yourself as THE PR company to walk potential clients through the best way to benefit from this conversation is callous,” said commenter Erin Blaskie, who shared her complaint with her 30,000 Twitter followers as well. “Instructing potential clients to pay your firm money to help them take advantage of this situation is gross. This isnt a PR opportunity. This is someones life lost.”

via PR Giant Edelman Apologizes for Calling Robin Williams Death an Opportunity | Adweek.

(Disclosure: I run a communications consultancy that sometimes competes with Edelman’s local operations, but this posting has more to do with how the profession should behave rather than about  competitor firm) 

 

Posted in communications, Crisis and issues management, Twitter | Leave a comment