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The old crone at Kirana's birthday

Good morning Jakarta #rooftop

Smoking area at Bali's new Ngurah Rai Airport. Brilliant idea but what happens when it rains?

Boys w painted faces at #TamanBacaanPelangi, Rinca Island #flores

Prolonging life. #labuanbajo

Farewell #labuanbajo. We'll be back

Last day in paradise #labuanbajo #flores

The son teaching kampung kids at Taman Pelangi on Rinca Island #flores how to have fun with the yoyo. @pelangibooks

Another day of incredibly beautiful sunsets. #labuanbajo #flores

Chilling out at Kanawa. #flores

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Three is a good number

This is a post I wrote in Maverick’s blog about us winning the Agency of the Year award for the third year running.

Satisfied is a word that comes to mind. But also paranoid because I’d sure like to see us retain that title for the next few years coming, as well as winning other awards. There’s just no pleasing some people.

On being MIX’s Agency of the Year – for the 3rd year running

We are delighted to read the October edition of marketing communications MIX, in which Maverick was named Agency of the Year 2013 – for the third  year running.

Journalists were polled by the magazine and asked which PR firm they thought had the best media relations. They apparently voted for Maverick for the third year running, so although we think that PR is much, much more than just media relations and that we are more of a consultancy rather than an agency, we are still pleased by the verdict.

This recognition is important to us because it means that one of our most important “customers” thinks highly of us (the other is the client, who usually vote with their check books and we’ve been fortunate in that area as well). To have journalists giving us the thumbs up on how PR people should deal with them is a rare endorsement as journalists are one hard crowd to please.

23-10-13 MIX 2

As a partner in Maverick I  was interviewed by the magazine as a prelude to their announcement of the award. I was asked how Maverick could consistently be at the top of the media relations game for three years running and I told them that there was no big secret to media relations. All we had to do is adopt a customer service mentality when it comes to dealing with journalists. We need to understand what they want, when they want it  and how best to give it to them.

Journalists don’t want spin and they despise PR people who go to them with a begging bowl instead of a strong, newsworthy story . And they usually want the information now, or as early as possible before their deadline. So what all the Mavericks are trained to do is to work with our clients so that they have a great story to tell instead of the usual corporate pabulum that their executives are so fond of. We also, using all our skills as consultants, remind, cajole and sometimes push our clients to meet the deadlines.

The tricky part is to have a team of colleagues that understand this and work relentless to super-please the journalist-customer. In this we are very fortunate to work with a great team of consultants who are probably the best customer service professionals on top of their communications and specialised skills. So a shoutout to the Mavbros and Mavchicks, as they like to call themselves, in the Corporate and Marketing Communications practices as well as the specialists in Digital, Research and Monitoring, Design, Community Engagement, Training and, of course, Media Relations.

And a big thank you journalist friends for voting us Agency of the Year once again. We’ll continue to try our best in serving you together with our clients.

The President’s fleet-footed son

There’s been a storm brewing in Indonesia’s social media teacup over the running accomplishments of President SBY’s No. #1 son, Agus,  and the debate that is still raging now is whether the athletic presidential scion is an inspiration or an object of contempt for others.

The incident unfolded yesterday after Agus and friends from his running club, Garuda Finishers, finished the Adidas King of the Road run at BSD. For his troubles Agus was awarded a medal for completion and all would have been fine except for his tweets, coupled with the fact that he had asked the run’s organisers to set up a separate run for him since the event had actually finished by the time he got there.

Agus, you see, had been a busy boy. That morning he was up at the crack of dawn to run at a 10K race to commemorate the Indonesian Military’s 68th anniversary at 6.30am. Being a runner and not a sprinter, he finished that race, and being a sporty chap with lots of adrenaline to spake then proceeded to run at the Adidas run. The only problem was that that even started at 5:30 am and finished at 8:30am.

Agus and mates got there after that but so keen they were to hit the pavement that they told the race organisers to re-erect the run signage, the starting and finishing line as well as to bring back the timing officials so that they could run the 16.5 km race and get a medal for their accomplishments.

Perhaps finding it difficult to say no to a Presidential Son, the race organisers obliged  (Agus’s supporters were to claim that they had informed the race organisers that they would be late and the organisers said no problem, just mosey along whenever they are ready).

All that would have been a low-key affair except that Agus is not only fleet with his feet but with his fingers as well. he posted two tweets about himself, obviously so that his admirers can admire him all the more and be inspired by his example.

The first had the message: “Never..Never..Never give up…I ran 17K at the King of the Road this morning” accompanied by a picture of him and his chums running in the race.

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Then he posted another message: “Always finish what you have started. Salam @GarudaFinishers 🏃🏃🏃” with a photo of him and the coveted medal for finishers

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All of this must have been very inspirational to his supporters and water carriers but quite a few social media users, perhaps sick to death of seeing who they perceive as privileged children bend the rules and getting all sorts of special treatment, had a different view and the social media scene has since been all the more lively for the different views being espoused by Agus’s supporters and detractors.

So what do you think? Is Agus perfectly a sporty and spirited young man that should serve as an inspiration to aspiring runners everywhere, especially with his exhortations of persistence and seeing things to the end? Or is he just another spoilt brat from a privileged family who has no self awareness of what a schmuck he appears to be?

Below is today’s article in about the incident:

Ketika Agus Yudhoyono Telat Lari Maraton… — Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, putra sulung Presiden Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, menjadi perbincangan di lini masa Twitter dalam dua hari terakhir. Semua berawal dari gambar ataupun kicauannya di Twitter terkait partisipasinya di ajang lari maraton Adidas King of the Road, di BSD City, Minggu (29/9/2013) pagi.

Dengan mengunggah fotonya saat mengikuti lari maraton, Agus melalui akunnya @AgusYudhoyono berujar “Never… Never… Never give up… Lari 17K di event King of The Road tadi pagi,” yang dipasang pada pukul 19.20. Tidak lama kemudian, dia melanjutkan kicaunya “Always finish what you have started ” dengan menyertakan fotonya sambil memamerkan medali finisher. Medali tersebut diberikan kepada peserta yang berhasil sampai garis akhir.

Yang membuatnya jadi bahan pergunjingan di media sosial justru karena dia terlambat datang. Beredar penuturan dari pengguna yang diduga panitia acara yang menjelaskan bahwa acara tersebut seharusnya digelar pukul 05.30 sampai pukul 08.30. Rombongan Agus dengan Pasukan Pengamanan Presiden (Paspampres) datang setelahnya.

“Terus minta ke race organizer-nya supaya signage serta gerbang start dan finish line, timing,dan lain-lain jangan diberesin dulu karena mereka mau lari 16,5 kilometer dan minta dapet medali,” demikian tulis seorang pengguna media sosial Path yang lantas menyebar lintas media sosial.

Dalam foto yang diunggah Agus, tampak dia mengenakan nomor bib 1010. Begitu dicek dalam situs resmi acara, tidak tampak nomornya dalam daftar pelari yang menyelesaikan maraton 16,8 kilometer. Begitu pula orang yang ada di sebelahnya dengan nomor 3450. Tentu saja hal ini akan terlihat janggal karena sebelumnya dia memamerkan medali finisher.

Sejak semalam, akun milik Agus jadi sasaran perundungan atau bully. Tweet-nya terkait partisipasi dalam event maraton tersebut dikomentari oleh beberapa akun Twitter milik pesohor, seperti Melanie Subono, Panji Pragiwaksono, dan Joko Anwar. Tidak hanya itu, muncul juga akun-akun yang berupaya membela Agus dan mengatakan bahwa keterlambatan rombongan sudah diketahui panitia.

Hingga pagi tadi, akun @AgusYudhoyono belum memberikan reaksi. Pengguna dengan akun @hwhardana pun berharap agar penjelasan segera muncul agar masalah bisa jelas. “Lets hear your side of story, kenapa mas agus telat ke kotr… Ditunggu ya…,” kicaunya.

Berdasarkan kegiatan yang diikuti Agus hari itu, ternyata pagi harinya dia mengikuti maraton 10 kilometer yang digelar dalam rangka ulang tahun ke-68 TNI di Monas dan dimulai pukul 06.30. Agus membawa serta komunitas lari Garuda.

Dari sana, Agus dan rombongan baru ke BSD City untuk mengikuti maraton KOTR 16,8 kilometer yang digelar Adidas dan ia datang terlambat

The shock of seeing a Minister shocked by his own hubris

Isn’t it shocking that a person no less than a Minister can be shocked by their interviewing techniques of a film star?

A Minister who should have been media trained in the first place; a minister who is surrounded by minders who should have done background checks on the interviewer before advising him to grant the interview; a minister who should have been prepped on what to say and how to answer the tough questions in the first place; a Minister who, if he was honest with himself, would know that Indonesia’s record on  climate change ain’t, excuse the pun, that hot.

So we have this minister being shocked and taking umbrage that someone dared ask him tough questions in a tough manner. What did he expect? A supporting role as Indiana Jones’s sidekick? Chewbaca articulating questions that no one understands except Han Solo?

When will politicians and office holders ever realise that doing interviews requires skills. Those who are good at it are either very gifted or else they are well-trained. Only those too full of themselves and full of hubris would give interviews willy nilly without preparing for them and doing their homework before hand.

So Zulkifli Hasan should chill before he contributes to global warning with all that emission of hot air. He has only himself and his minders to blame for this fracas.  Harrison Ford was only doing what he had told the minister that he was set out to do.

Indonesian Minister ‘Shocked’ at Harrison Ford Climate Interview

By Agence France-Presse on 3:12 pm September 10, 2013.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono speaks to US actor Harrison Ford during an interview at the presidential palace in Jakarta. (AFP Photo/Presidential Palace/Abror Rizki)

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono speaks to US actor Harrison Ford during an interview at the presidential palace in Jakarta. (AFP Photo/Presidential Palace/Abror Rizki)

Indonesia’s forestry minister has accused Hollywood legend Harrison Ford of subjecting him to a rude interview on climate change that left him “shocked,” an official said Tuesday.

The “Indiana Jones” and “Star Wars” actor, who is making part of an environmental documentary in Indonesia, attacked the minister with questions during the encounter on Monday, said presidential adviser Andi Arief.

The adviser accused Ford and his crew of “harassing state institutions” and said the 71-year-old could even be deported — although he was due to leave Indonesia later Tuesday anyway.

Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan told reporters that he had been angered by Ford’s approach during the interview in the capital Jakarta.

“His emotions were running very high,” the minister was quoted as saying by the state-run Antara news agency.

“I understand the American man just came here to see Tesso Nilo [a national park on Sumatra island] and wanted violators to be caught the same day.”

The minister added he was not given the chance to explain the challenges of catching people who break the law in Indonesia’s sprawling rainforests, where illegal logging is rampant.

“I was only given the opportunity to say one or two sentences during the interview,” he said.

Arief said the minister thought there would have been some time to discuss the interview before it began.

But in the event he was “shocked that as soon as his [Ford's] crew came in, they started filming and interviewing him… and attacking him with questions.”

“There’s no privilege for him although he is a great a actor,” he said. “His crew and those who were helping him in Indonesia must be questioned to find out their motives for harassing a state institution.”

“If necessary, we will deport him,” he added.

Ford, who has supported numerous environmental causes in recent years, has travelled to several places in Indonesia to make part of a series on climate change called “Years of Living Dangerously” for US television network Showtime.

He also met with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday.

As Southeast Asia’s largest economy grows rapidly, swathes of biodiverse forests across the archipelago of 17,000 islands have been cleared to make way for paper and palm oil plantations, as well as for mining and agriculture. 

Agence France-Presse 

On the @misbahkun vs @benhan case

Unspun’s reminded of the Gandhi witticism: “Those who engage in mudslinging often lose ground” in the unfolding case between Twitterati Benny Handoko (@benhan) and Golkar politician Misbahkun (@misbakhun). For the current development of the case  see here.

As things stand, Benny is now under detention for allegedly slandering Misbahkun over the Bank Century case, after the latter complained to the police. The series of twits that has led to this serious turn of events is captured in Jackson Purba’s Chirpstory feed “TwitWar Misbakhun Vs Benhan” by @misbakhun N @benhan.

As the Chirpstory feed clearly shows @benhan fired the first salvo by accusing @misbahkun. A Twitwar ensured where @misbahkun duked it out with @benhan, Twitblow for Twitblow. The virtual slugfest, after 100 tweets ended after @misbahkun warned @benhan to retract his statement and apologize or he would file legal charges.

Now it appears that @misbahkun has followed up on that threat and is getting the Indonesian Twitterverse riled up because of his action.

It is an interesting incident as the central issue here is whether you have a right to sue (or in the case of Indonesia, file a police report against) someone for slander after you’ve duked it out with them on Twitter.

True, the Internet and Twitter does not, and should not, exonerate anyone from slandering another person.  Twitter, however, allows you to talk back and have your say to whomever is interested in what you have to say. So several interesting questions pop to mind here:

  1. Would Misbahkun  have been morally justified to take legal action against Benny if he did not use his Twitter account to engage in a Twitwar with Benny. Would it have been Ok if he merely used his Twitter account (20,343 followers) to say that Benny was incorrect and that if he persisted he would take legal action, and left it at that?
  2. Did Misbahkun waive his moral right to legal action after engaging in a Twitwar? Would going to the law after arguably losing a fight with Benhan (a Twitter heavyweight at 49,799 followers) make him look like a sore loser?
  3. Finally here’s a question for social media and issues management typed: There is a lot of noise in the Indonesian Twitterverse. Would Misbahkun be better off had he ignored @Benhan’s tweets and let it pass rather than wage a Twitwar and file a legal action? Would such a course of action – benign neglect – have hurt his reputation? (not say he has a great one but would such an action lower his reputation from what it was before the Twitwar?)

Looks like its time for a vox populi on the issue:

Is mine bigger than yours?

It must be all that grass they grow in Aceh. They are purported to have the best grass in Indonesia.

How else do you explain the actions of the local education authorities in devising a questionaiire asking kids as young as 11 how big their genitals are?

Unspun is unsure if the parents have been caught up in a whiff of the local vegetation as well as parent Nurlina was quoted as saying that the questionnaire was OK, if only it didn’t have those dirty pictures to accompany the questions.

Strange times indeed. What are they smoking and where can we get some?

Aceh City Tells 11-Year-Old Schoolchildren to Assess Genital Size

By Nurdin Hasan on 6:57 pm September 4, 2013.
Category FeaturedNews

Banda Aceh. Parents in Aceh were demanding answers from education officials on Wednesday after it emerged that children as young as 11 were told to fill in a survey that included questions about the size of their genitals and whether they had experienced any sexual dreams.

“Actually there was no problem with the questionnaire, but I was very shocked when I opened page five and saw images of women’s breasts and female and male genitalia,” Nurlina, a parent of a student at Sabang 1 State Junior High School, told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday.

Nurlina said that the page in question included pictures of male and female genitals of varying size and asked the student to circle whichever they felt was the closest approximation to their own.

In addition, boys were asked whether they had experienced a “wet dream,” and girls were asked to assess the size of their breasts. Children as young as 11 were told to complete the survey.

The head of the Sabang Education Agency confirmed that the questionnaire had been distributed to six junior high schools in Sabang, Indonesia’s westernmost city with a population of around 30,000. The legal framework of the semi-autonomous Indonesian province of Aceh includes elements of Shariah law.

Misman said the local education body had included the questions on the recommendation of local health officials.

“It was a recommendation from Puskesmas [community health center] to collect information on the children’s health,” he said.

Nurlina was not persuaded by the view that the authorities’ efforts to document the health of Sabang’s children necessitated asking the kinds of questions with the attendant visual aids found in the survey .

“There were also questions as to whether or not the girls have menstruated and if the boys have experienced sexual dreams,” she said. “Those questions were meant for children who have just graduated from elementary school — that’s improper.”

Nurlina, a civil servant in Sabang, prohibited her child from answering those questions and said she would file a complaint to the school and the local education office.

“The teachers should have checked the questionnaires before they were distributed to see if the pages came with indecent images,” she said.

Misman said the schools distributed similar questionnaires last year but there was no public outcry because the questions were not accompanied by a set of pictures.

“[The surveys] have been distributed and some of them have been returned because children did not want to answer that particular page,” he said. “After I saw the questionnaires I can see not only that they asked about their genital sizes, but that there were some very vivid images of genitals —  this is too vulgar.”

Misman said his office would discuss the issue with Sabang’s mayor to find the best solution.

On a new voyage of serendipity in our new office

Many thanks to all those clients, partners, alumni and friends who took time to get to Jl. Kyai Maja last Thursday for #Mavoyage, Maverick’s office party to mark the official opening of Maverick’s new office.

We like our new office and we were glad to hear that our guests think it cool as well – from the 12 meter vertical wall to the glass pool/skylight and open workspaces with “quiet rooms” for deep work.

Those of you who did not make it, or gave up because some silly bus had broken down in the middle of the road in Mayestik, causing a massive traffic jam, don’t despair. You also get to see the new Maverick digs in this video that the staff, with the help of some videographers, put together. It begins with us packing at our old office and graduates to us moving into the new office.

The extra space of the new office, with five meeting rooms and a common eating area on the ground floor also allows us to do things we have not been able to do before and you can expect Maverick to offer more trainings and workshops as well as to “donate” the space to communities for their get togethers. We’ll also be forming a Communicators Club for in-house communications professionals to network, share knowledge and learn new things. Watch this space of check in at for announcements on the Communicators Club.

We know that communities and NGOs are always desperately looking for space that don’t cost them a bomb to rent. In the weeks to come Maverick will make our meeting rooms available to communities either for free or for a token sum for utilities. That way we can be where we’ve always wanted to be more – part of the Jakarta community of communities. (Those interested in securing a meeting room or two can email to our community curator Nia Sadjarwo at

In the meantime, here’s the video of what our office looks like:




Who let the dogs out?

The phrase “dog in the manger” comes to mind. Rp 64 trillion investment could have helped cushion the Rupiah’s fall and checked some capital flight, reassuring investors that Indonesia is a good place to do business. And what for? Sabre rattling? National pride?


Bank Mandiri Says Indonesia Attractive as DBS Takeover Scuttled – The Jakarta Globe

People pass by a Bank Mandiri branch in Jakarta, Friday, August 2. (JG Photo/Jurnasyanto Sukarno)

People pass by a Bank Mandiri branch in Jakarta, Friday, August 2. (JG Photo/Jurnasyanto Sukarno)

Budi Gunadi Sadikin, the head of Indonesia’s largest bank, said his home market is more attractive than Singapore less than a month after Indonesian efforts to get access to the city state scuttled what would have been Southeast Asia’s biggest banking takeover.

“It is more important for the Singaporean banks to get into Indonesia” rather than the other way round, said Sadikin, president director of Bank Mandiri, referring to his country’s underpenetrated banking sector and Singapore’s smaller economy and population. “Singapore to us is a small opportunity,” he said in an interview last week.

Indonesia’s central bank has been seeking reciprocity in Singapore for the nation’s biggest banks, including Mandiri, the largest by assets. At the same time, Indonesia last year imposed foreign ownership limits that prompted Singapore’s DBS Group Holdings to drop its 66.4 trillion rupiah ($6 billion) acquisition of Bank Danamon Indonesia.

If the Monetary Authority of Singapore showed a “positive gesture” in granting greater access to Indonesian banks, “then the transaction would have gone smoothly,” Sadikin said.

He would still be “very happy” for Jakarta-based Mandiri to receive a full banking license in Singapore.

“I won’t open 25 branches in one year,” Sadikin said. “But at least I have the flexibility.”


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Taking some Tea With the Dead

Follow author Elizabeth Pisani's 6-month journey through the remoter and storied parts of Indonesia as she gathers material for her new book Taking Tea with The Dead. She will be blogging about her progress in and posting updates with an occasional Tweet here : . Wry, witty and often controversial. Check her out.

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