Category: ask the right question

Who is responsible for the rise and continued presence of Siti you-can-get-pregnant-while-swimming-with-men Hikmawatty?

That Siti Hikmawatty is stupid is a given fact. What else can explain an official for the Commission for the Protection of Indonesia Children (KPAI), and supposedly a one-time academic, would say that women can get pregnant from swimming in a pool with men?

Her stupidity is stupendous. In apologizing for her statement she said she had been inaccurate but it was a “personal” statement rather than a position held by the KPAI.

As if that would make everyone feel better. A commissioner holding such views is as fatal to the reputation of the KPAI, and not being dismissed, wrecks the same damage as if the KPAI held this view.

Stupid is as stupid does: Siti Hikmawatty trying to summon a spark of intelligence to how she looks

She also has no integrity. Instead of accepting responsibility for such an atrocious and outrageous statement, she has not offered to resign.

But that is Siti living up to the adage that “stupid is as stupid does”.

The questions of culpability that aren’t being asked around Siti are more demoralizing for the nation.

Specifically, how did someone of the lack of intelligence got appointed to the KPAI in the first place? Who was responsible for appointing her? Why aren’t they being held accountable for putting such a doozie in a commission that has a huge impact on the lives of our children?

Also, why hasn’t the KPAI, or the Minister in charge sacked her after she made the statement? By allowing her to continue her tenure at the commission, you have one dangerously stupid commissioner being in the the braintrust to protect Indonesian children.

There is also the question of how many Sitis there are out there, sitting in positions of influence and responsibility with intellects that aren’t enough to tie their own shoelaces with but who preside over policy and our lives.

What do you think? Should Indonesians, specially its netizens, continue to ridicule and deride Siti? Of should they train their acerbic keyboards at those who put her in place and who, through inaction, keep her in her position?

Second Apotik Senopati crash highlights indifference

A BMW jumped the curb and ploughed into Apotik Senopati at about 4am today. The driver was apparently a 19-year old student. A video post by @TMCPoldaMetro showed  what looked like the driver showed a young man wearing a black cap whose breath, said police, smelled of alcohol.

This morning’s crash was the second. No fatalities except damage to the pharmacy.

 

This was the second car to crash into Apotik Senopati since October. Then a Nissan Livina driven by a female student crashed into the pharmacy at 3.30am, killing a security guard who was sitting at the front of the pharmacy. Police said the driver was inexperienced and hit the gas instead of the brake pedal when she had to negotiate the steep turn.

Just two months ago almost to the day, a Nissan Livina driven by another student -logged into the same pharmacy, killing the security guard who was on duty.

 

 

So the authorities later today came up with a typical Indonesian solution, the put up barriers about a meter high around the turn. It’s a typical Indonesian solution because it does not seem to have occurred to the powers that be that the problem is not the turning but lots of other things that might involve, horrors!  – enforcement of the law.

The law, if enforced properly, wants as a punitive measure to would be offenders. If unenforced, it breeds a sense of impunity, inviting anyone with the means to do what they like and flout the law.

There is no evidence that the law was enforced in the first case involving the Livina. Either the police did not press charges against the woman driving it or the media did not pursue the story to its conclusion. This has given rise to rumors that the case was hushed up because the female driver was apparently the daughter of someone with connections and means. Some people said the father was a member of the DPR.

It remains to be seen what the police will do to the driver of this morning’s BMW. If it does not press charges (and announce it since @TMCPoldaMetro has a penchant for tweeting the news out) then it will look like another case of a rich boy getting away with it because Daddy has the connections and the mollah to buy him out of trouble. It will send a signal to other rich kids that they can get drunk and drive and cause harm to property or people and be able to get away with it.

Silence on the development of this case would also be a bad testimony for the Press that seems to get shallower and flightier where their attention span to stories are concerned.

The two crashes also bring to light how lacking Jakarta has been on educating party goers to the dangers of driving under influence of alcohol or other substances. Even in neighboring Malaysia, drunk driving laws are enforced often and on the mass media you can see or hear admonitions not to drink and drive.

The problem is becoming acute in the Senopati area where many night clubs have sprung up along Jalan Gunawarman and Jalan Senopati.

There is nothing wrong with entertainment establishments but when they do not check for proof of adulthood before serving drinks this can be a problem. These establishments are also become int a pest to the residents of the area who now must brave the unnecessary traffic jams so that the establishment owners can turn a profit.

There is no proper parking areas so the cars are parked and valet-ed at the side of these streets. Why can’t the government do the right thing by either banning these entertainment spots (how many of them have licenses to operate) or to provide parking facilities so that the roads are not blocked by the party goers. The government can easily afford acquiring land and building multi-storey parking lots merely by taxing the establishments.

But all this – the enforcement drink driving laws, the education against drink driving and the proper zoning of commercial properties and provision of parking lots — is being overlooked. Why? The only plausible explanation is indifference. Indifference by the police, indifference by the courts, indifference by the City Government.

Rather than do something to make the situation better all they do is erect higher barriers. The pharmacy may be better protected but the next time the drunk driver could be the one facing fatality.

 

 

 

 

Garuda’s Ari: when its OK to experience schadenfreude

Schadenfreude or, in English, epicaricacy, is mostly a guilty pleasure. That’s because it is the joy you feel at the misfortune of others.

Not much changed since the bad old days. Still soft and privileged bums on the seats of Harley Davidsons

In the case of now-sacked Garuda President Director Ari Askhara, however, schadenfreude is a legitimate and just pleasure.

Here was a man who lived a life of impunity, seemingly protected by the former State-owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno when he signed off on questionable audits of the airline’s books. (And what has Rini to say about her elevation of Ari from Garuda CFO to President Director?)

A man who brazenly sought to smuggle a stripped down Harley Davidson and several Brampton folding bicycles on the ferry flight of the A330-900 Neo from Toulouse to Jakarta, a journey he celebrated after the plane landed by riding with his Moge (motto gede = large motorbikes) cronies on onto the tarmac in an event sponsored by BMW.

And when caught red handed, he either instructed or conspired with his Corporate Secretary and spokesman Ikhsan Rosan, to lie to the media. It wasn’t even a credulous lie. Ikhsan said two employees had loaded the Harley and Bramptons onto the plane. Like employees can afford those toys for the rich.

The pity, however, was that the Indonesian media swallowed those implausible excuses whole, and regurgitated it to their readers. There was no sharp questioning of who the employees were if any, what did Ari and the directors know and when did they know it, and how could employees even afford those toys and ever hope to get away with it if they had indeed been guilty.

Then, after Ari was sacked by current State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir, news began to emerge of his alleged mistress, a Garuda stewardess who was apparently present in the ferry flight, of her plastic surgery and how she influenced his decision to shift the Jakarta-Amsterdam flight to Bali-Amsterdam instead.

A video of his megalomaniac Soekarno-like motorcade during what appeared to be an Independence Day paraded also emerged.

Throughout all this Ari, apart from trying to dodge reporters, has said nothing. No remorse, no regret, no apology.

This whole episode gives rise to several disturbing questions about the elite in Jakarta and the amount of rot in the state-owned enterprise fiefdoms that exists till this very day.

What kind of self-image and environment that people like Ari live in? How do they perceive themselves? Are they so drunk on the Kool Aid that they do not know how people despise them for their ostentatiousness, of which the Harley Davidson is the most prominent emblem of entitlement.

Since Suharto days the Harley Davidson has been a symbol of thee elite. Importing the bikes then was illegal so the only way they could be brought in was if you had “backing” – New Order speak for connections. Those who rode the Harleys were, apart from Suharto himself, military generals, police chiefs, obsequious but rich businessman and the Brahmins of the government, like heads of state-owned enterprises.

Their rides used to be escorted by the police, none of them noticing how incompatible that was to Harley’s born to be wild spirit.

Two decades on things, have changed little. It is now legal to import Harleys but probably most of the Harleys on Indonesian roads are brought in illegally and then issued with doctored road permits. There are more rich and entitled people so there are more riders but essentially it is a new generation of the same old elite.

The police escorts are still there. The elite still show off, with those loud machines as the rest of us are stuck in traffic jams. Some of these idiots also sport police look-alike designs, sirens and lights. All illegal and telegraphing a what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it attitude to the rest of us.

Do these people even realize how much contempt they attract from the rest of the population? (and here’s an idea for Finance Minister Sri Mulyani who has to increase revenue from taxes – why not have the taxman go after all the Moge riders – you’ll find that most of them have false papers because they brought their bikes in illegally and not paying any taxes).

The consoling thought about Ari’s downfall is that Erick Thohir has had the courage to lop off the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the Brahmins in the State-Owned Enterprises must be quaking in their shoes right now. They should, but are they?

Hard to tell. Would love to see a journalist do a story on whether the elite are capable of self-reflection and awareness of the environment around them. Unspun has a sneaking suspicion that many of them are incapable of this, making them unable to self-correct and change their ways.

One can hope that Erick Thohir and the Government will continue their purge of such entitled and corrupt Brahmin. Then the rest of use would be treated to an endless flow of Schadenfreude.

Brown Jesus says Happy Easter

Good writing is hard to come by, so what we do with recruits at my workplace is to teach them to write well.

Being a former journalist and being one who writes moderately well, the task fell on Unspun to conduct the class.

Being a firm believer that writing is a reflection of your mental processes, I’ve always started the course with Critical Thinking 101 and the first slide in this presentation asks the participants to tell me which of the two images is a more accurate depiction of Christ.

Jesus

To Unspun the comparion is a no brainer. Jesus was a Jew and a middle easterner, a native of Galilee.

People like that, as in the BBC reconstruction from a skull found there during the period of Jesus, tended to look like the chap on the right. He may not looked exactly like the man portrayed but for sure he would have been swarthy and would NIT look like an Anglo-Saxon savior right out of the paintings of Byzantine artists.

Inevitably, however, there would be one or two – sometimes more – participants in the class who said that Jesus would have looked like the person on the left. The reason? That’s the image of Jesus they’ve seen growing up and the image that adorns the churches they go to.

Which was perfect for us to begin our discourse on critical thinking, the importance of not accepting anything at face value and why we need to ask questions more.

Inevitably too, someone would raise the argument that too much critical thinking is bad for us because it makes us cynical. We should just accept things based on faith.

The answer is that too much of anything is not good for anyone. At any rate critical thinking, if practiced skillfully leads one not to cynicism but to skepticism, which is not a bad thing.

In this world, if we question more without becoming cynical (which Oscar Wilde defines as “knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing”) we’d be enjoying oour lives more, not less; and socially and politically we would be ensuring that much of the ugliness and hate in this world we see today would be minimized.

Happy Easter everyone.

 

 

Serial Fellows

We all have them.

Friends and acquaintances who are so talented and must have accomplished so much and shown such promise that they have been singled out time and again to receive one plush fellowship or another.

You know them. They are the ones that pop up in your timeline proclaiming they feel so “humbled” to be selected for such fellowships, then proceed to bombard you with photos of the hallowed halls of influence and scholarship they’ve been sent to and the beautiful super smart people they’ve met.

At first we feel very happy for them, to be recognised for their contributions and being sent out on fellowships so they may learn of developments in their field by others in other countries.

Presumably, this would open their eyes give them new insights with which to come home  and put new ideas into practice for the benefit of recipients of their cause.

So we like their posts when they so generously share on social media the great times they had and the illustrious people they meet.

Then they come home and before you know it, they are on yet another fellowship again. And again with barely a year’s hiatus in between.

Which makes you wonder,

About the institutions dishing out these fellowships. Is Indonesia so thin on talent and worthy people that the same people keep being selected all the time?

About the recipients themselves. Where do they find time to put their new learnings and insights to work if they are busy going form one fellowship to the next?

Unspun recently had conversations with his friends and and we tried to analyse what these recipients do after their initial spurt of productivity that saw them establishing causes, movements and organisations for the public good. Out conclusion was that we couldn’t see how their fellowships had benefitted their causes.

In fact, in some instances, we felt that their causes had suffered from neglect because their founders/main movers were too busy traveling father fellowships.

We counted a couple of serial fellows who must have gone on three or four fellowships over the past five years.

There comes a point in life when anything, even the best intentioned ones involving very talented people, become ridiculous.