Did The Jakarta Globe’s editorial go gaga over Lady Gaga?

Indonesia’s Twitterverse and the Liberal-minded are aghast.

In today’s editorial (below) The Jakarta Globe, seen by some as being until lately a progressive force in Indonesia, seemingly condoned the decision to nix Lady Gaga’s controversial would-be concert in Indonesia.

The editorial begins by saying that the organizers made the right decision to cancel Lady Gaga’s show because of security concerns. Fair enough. It then says the paper does not condone violence or threats to forward an agenda. Good point.

Then it gets interesting: “It is not about how she dresses, which is needlessly provocative, but about what she sings and the lyrics of her songs. It is about the lack of morality in what she represents. Youth will typically be rebellious and anti-establishment.

This is puzzling. Lady Gaga sings a lot of shit that typically appeal to youth. Rebellious, anti-establishment, aimed to shock. The same type of music that horrified the morals of the parent generation in the time of the Sex Pistols and Marilyn Manson. Go a bit further back and Elvis Presley, with his obscene gyrations, was considered a devil spawn by the Establishment then.

So if you take Lady Gaga in a historical perspective, she is as dangerous – or not – as the Sex Pistols, Marilyn Manson and Elvis in leading our youth to Hell and damnation. Surprisingly, may of these youth are in positions of responsibility and frowning on lady Gaga these days.

The Globe editorial then becomes a bit confusing: “But it is also important that we inculcate in them the proper Indonesian values that will put them in good standing when they enter into adulthood. Given the divisiveness and the controversy created, the decision to cancel Lady Gaga’s show was the correct one.”

Why canceling Lady Gaga’s show was the correct one when it comes to putting these youth on the correct path of Proper Indonesian Values is never quite explained.

And finally, the very interesting denoument which is actually composed of two half formed thoughts 1: “We must all show maturity and understanding about the cultural sensitivities in our communities.” and 2: “We must accept that Indonesian society is different and that we cannot be expected to be as liberal as other societies” juxtaposed to give the illusion of proper reasoning.

Thought #1 is a truism. Nobody can argue against the fact that we all should show maturity and understanding about the cultural sensitivities in our communities. You can make that argument even in America, homeland of Lady Gaga and no one can disagree with you on this.

Thought #2 is a combination of a truism: “We must accept that Indonesian society is different” and a fallacious conclusion “we cannot be expected to be as liberal as other societies.”

Which societies are we talking about. Saudi Arabia, Puritan America, The Mormons, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, China? It would be helpful if The Globe were to elaborate on that. (And let’s not have the tired argument that you have only so many words to write an editorial. A journalistic rule is also that if a story or opinion is that important you should be creative and find space for it).

This editorial has, naturally, stirred up controversy and criticism in Indonesia’s Twitterverse, the current cool hangout for Indonesia’s chattering classes and liberal sentiment. One of them is a string of criticisms against The Globe by @AubreyBelford, the Asia Correspondent for http://www.theglobalmail.org.

But enough of what Unspun, Aubrey and The Globe says. What do readers really think? (and if you’re not satisfied with the poll, you can always leave a comment)

Editorial: Gaga Concert is Too Hot For Indonesia | The Jakarta Globe

The saga over Lady Gaga’s concert is finally over now that the pop star decided to cancel her Jakarta show. The reason was security concerns and, given the public controversy, it was definitely the right decision. Certainly her large fan base in Indonesia will be disappointed. It is also unfortunate that the concert was called off due to security concerns. The country’s police had assured both fans and organizers that it would be possible for the show to proceed. There are larger issues at play, though. Indonesia is a vibrant, diverse democracy and as such the authorities had to take into consideration all voices. It is their job to ensure that all segments of society have their voices heard. We do not condone the use of violence and threats to allegedly push an agenda. We do not condone breaking the law and damaging property just to make a point, as some groups have allegedly done recently. Such behavior is unwelcome in a democratic, civilized society. There are, however, many justifiable reasons for opposing acts like Lady Gaga, such as the messages these supposed artists project. It is not about how she dresses, which is needlessly provocative, but about what she sings and the lyrics of her songs. It is about the lack of morality in what she represents. Youth will typically be rebellious and anti-establishment. But it is also important that we inculcate in them the proper Indonesian values that will put them in good standing when they enter into adulthood. Given the divisiveness and the controversy created, the decision to cancel Lady Gaga’s show was the correct one. We must all show maturity and understanding about the cultural sensitivities in our communities. We must accept that Indonesian society is different and that we cannot be expected to be as liberal as other societies.

What the Fatwa?

We all can understand Islam forbidding rioting, causing disturbance and damaging public property.

But what about corruption, Gerrymeandering, arrogance and utter disrespect for the intelligence and integrity of citizens?

How do these clerics sleep at night and face their children? Do the children have a hard time in school because they have to live up with the fact that their daddies were government flunkies and hyppocrites because they claim to be men of God but are serving banal masters instead?

Malaysia fatwa council advises Muslims against demonstrations

Kuala Lumpur:  Malaysia’s top clerics on Monday issued a fatwa, deeming it ‘haram’ for Muslims to participate in the demonstrations that cause disturbance in the country, days after thousands defied government orders to stage a rally.

Malaysia’s National Fatwa Committee, which a few years ago had ruled that the Muslims should not do yoga, has now advised them against participating in any gathering that is unproductive, against the law or causes disturbance.

National Fatwa Committee Chairman Proffesor Emeritus Abdul Shukor Husin said that the committee viewed seriously the issue as some Muslims had resorted to rioting during the opposition backed electoral reforms demonstrations here on April 28.

“Rioting, causing disturbance and damaging public property are all forbidden by Islam. This also applies to any intention to topple a duly-elected government by organising such demonstrations” he said.

“No one is exempted, and cannot support any efforts that can cause harm, anxiety or unrest among the  Muslims to the point of the community becoming split, what more if there is bloodshed,” he added after chairing a meeting of the committee here.

via Malaysia fatwa council advises Muslims against demonstrations.

Bersih 3.0 Jakarta

It’s been 25 years since Unspun left Malaysia. The reason for leaving was Operasi Lallang, when the Umno-led government, headed by Mahathir closed down The Star, the paper where Unspun was working at, for political reasons.

Since then life has taken Unspun to many countries, with the past 16 years mostly in Indonesia which I consider home these days. For all its faults, Indonesia is more democratic, freer and less hypocritical than Malaysia society.

Time has also loosened many of the emotional ties that Unspun has had of Malaysia, so much so that I do not keep up so much with the politics any more and generally ignore the trivial pursuits of the opposition and the government.

And why bother? The Opposition and the Government were trapped in their artless polemic, devoid of vision.

The Opposition could only oppose without offering any viable alternatives. There was a brief flicker of hope in Anwar Ibrahim. There was a man who at least seemed like he had a vision. But a closer look at him and you see through the man for what he is – a consummate politician with the same moral consistency of a chameleon’s colors as it moves over a varied terrain.

The Government also disappointed. There was Mahathir who was effective and did a lot of good for the country. But at the same time he not only failed to build the institutions that are essential for a democracy ; he helped destroy them. He also failed to groom any worthy successors. The result was Abdullah Badawi, a man who had less charisma than a five-day old rubbish dump; and now Najib, a man so cautious that he’s have to have his domineering wife inspect the toilet paper before he wiped himself.

So Unspun spralled into total nonchalance when it came to Malaysian politics.

Then something stirred when Bersih 2.0 came around. Watching the leader of the movement, Ambiga, speak and address reporters and their questions Unspun saw, for the first time in many years, a Malaysian leader who was skilled in communicating her thoughts and vision. She was measured, uncluttered and spoke her mind without being defensive, like so many other Malaysian politicians.

So when Bersih 3.0 came around yesterday Unspun decided to shake off his ennui and got the family to attend its gathering in Jakarta. The setting was in a restaurant/bar called Liquid Exchange.

The agenda was to gather wearing the trademark Bersih yellow T-shirts, have lunch, give some people the opportunity to make some short speeches and then disperse. It seems tame by comparison to the risks faced by Bersih supporters in Malaysia and the organizers came up for some criticisms from a Malaysian who lived in Australia (see this link).

But the organizers had good reasons: It was illegal for foreigners o stage demonstrations in Indonesia and they were initially unsure how many malaysians would attend. the initial calculation was maybe five Malaysians as they are not generally known for their defiance of authority.

So they were pleasantly surprised when the turnout totaled over 80 Malaysians, plus three or so Indonesians and one German supporter. At the restaurant we were able to follow the development of the Bersih 3.0 protest in KL through news bulletins on Al Jazeera. Another indication of of how the world is watching.

A few speeches were made, not fantastic ones but those that came from the heart. The gist of it was how we all wanted to see a more democratic Malaysia; that Malaysia had receded in democracy while Indonesia had forged ahead; and, most touchingly, that we would have not done our duty to our country and our families if we had stayed home and not tried to make our country more democratic if only by showing up in an act of defiance against the authorities.

One other thing that I was very proud of was how some of the Malaysians, headed by old friend and former president of the Malaysia Club Jakarta Ch’ng Chin Hon, passed the proverbial hat around to raise funds for a charity – not for Malaysians but for the needy in the community we work in – the disadvantaged Indonesians.

Chin Hon and his friends run Kecara, a foundation helping poor Indonesians in Jakarta by collecting and distributing used clothes, food and even disbursing scholarships.

The gathering then released balloons as a symbolic gesture of releasing our wishes for a free election in Malaysia and dispersed after that.

After that, for the first time in a long while Unspun  felt proud of the fellow Malaysians who turned up in the Bersih gatherings in Malaysia, Jakarta, Bali and at least 10 other cities worldwide.

The fact that so many Malaysians had turned out in the Bersih gatherings, which in the past was something that most people would have feared to do, for fear of government reprisals, is evidence enough that Umno’s days are numbered as the dominant power in Malaysian politics.

The fear is gone and one that happens there is no way they can hold on to power for too long, unless they change. Maybe that was why Unspun could smile so heartily when a Malaysian Embassy political attaché had asked to take a photo with Unspun. His reason was that he wanted to show a blogger that he had met Unspun but I have a feeling that the Special Branch may be admiring my dentist’s handiwork. I hope they like the smile.

Roy Suryo strikes again: this time as sex tape expert

Unspun is ever in awe of the multi-talented Roy Suryo, telematics expert, House member and generally expert at anything hinting of technology that his huge intellectual capacity and his ego can encompass.

His latest feat of expertise was taxed when he was called to verify if a the image in the likeness of a Parliamentarian was actually the Parliamentarian (see story below).

Roy’s response? The woman on tape looks like the woman in photos given to him; the man on tape couldn’t e verified because he had only received screen grabs from the video instead of actual photos to compare with.

Now, Unspun wonders how much Roy charges for this expert “analysis,” leading to such startling conclusions?

 

 

House Commission I member Roy Suryo said he was almost certain that the woman in the tape was a House Commission IX member with the initials K.M.N. Roy made the conclusion after comparing photos of the woman with screenshots from the tape. “It’s hard to deny it, although I can’t say 100 percent that the [woman] is K.M.N. after I compared it with her photos,” Roy said after submitting his analysis to the Ethics Council. Roy said he could not identify the man in the video because he only received photos from the tape and had not seen the tape. To avoid a conflict of interest, Roy asked the Ethics Council to find other telematics experts to analyze the photos and tape. “As a House member, I should avoid conflicts of interest and politicization [of the case] because no matter what I say, I would be accused of having a vested interest since the two lawmakers are from different factions than mine,” the Democratic Party politician said.

via Indonesian Sex Tape Will Go to Ethics Council as Lawmaker Says Likeness ‘Hard to Deny’ | The Jakarta Globe.

R.I.P. Ditta Amahorseya

Update: Ditta’s wake will be at the IES Church, 9th Fl UOB Building, Jl. Thamrin at 6pm this Wednesday

I’ve known Ditta since my days at Ogilvy PR when we won the Citibank account, way back in 1998. Since then, I’ve worked together with her on and off for the past 15 years.

When I started up Maverick with my partner in 2002 Ditta and another Citibanker were instrumental in getting Citibank to become our first client. It was a professional relationship that would last until last year.

Even then we remained friends and fellow professionals in Public Relations. We also had one more thing in common – both of us were heart patients, although what Ditta had to go through made my quadruple bypass seemed like a walk in the park.

What I liked most about Ditta was that inspire of the congenital health problems she had she faced it courageously and openly and lived life to the full. In conversations she would be telling you about the movies she just saw, the plays and concerts she attended and the friends she went out with. As anyone who knew her can attest, she had many, many friends from all strata of society. Going out with her was like being with a celebrity or a queen waving incessantly to her subjects.

Ditta was open to trying out new things too and at one time I convinced her to try her hand at blogging. As she, by her own admission, was technically inept, I had to set up her blog for her, that she called Dittaville. She wrote a few posts, but soon got busy with other things.

At the same time she would also be completely open and candid about her health problems. The last time we met was at The Pad in SCBD, where she ordered a cheese soufflé and a steak – because her doctors kept telling her that she needed the nourishment for her blood. She also described the procedures that she would have to undergo in New York.

When we parted, I wished her well for her operation. That was the last time I saw her. Now I hear she did not make it through her operation because of internal bleeding.

I and the team at Maverick who worked with her will miss her. As a client she could be strict and demanding but she was always fair and understanding. She was more like a partner to us than a client and for many years we took pride in helping her build Citibank’s image in Indonesia.

Ditta is now no more. We at Maverick mourn her passing, but we take comfort in that she knew how to live life to the full, even when faced with the difficulties imposed by her health. You couldn’t ask more out of life that Ditta did, and for that we admire her and wish her well in the next journey.

Ball bearings and horsehair shoved into penises? Eeeeewwwwwww!

I don’t know about you but the story by the ever fascinating Elizabeth Pisani who’s traveling in East Indonesia right now makes me feel all queasy – especially where they shove ball bearings, biro parts, human hair and horse hair into their penises – all in the believe that size matters.

Men who laugh at the lengths women go to with their plastic surgeons to make them look attractive should read this article.

But horse hair???

What’s wrong with Indonesian penises?

A statue outside a health centre in Enarotali, in Indonesian Papua

Reading the newspapers in cities across Papua, I cannot help but notice the full-colour ads for penis extensions. In only half an hour, with no invasive anything, men can see their organs grow, thicken, harden, for ever. The ads are explicit about the results, down to the last half centimetre; clients can choose both the length and girth of their organ, up to 20 cm by 6 cm (the more modest promise diameters of just 5.5). All of this with just some magic oil and a few prayers, guaranteed free of side effects. The “Specialists in Vital Organs” promise services for women, too, tightening up our fannies “until you are like a maiden again”. And for both sexes, they will pray away our sexually transmitted infections.

Why the obsession with sex organs, and why especially in Papua? Are people encouraged by the blatantly erotic sculptures that are common in these parts? Do migrants from other parts of Indonesia feel inadequate on arrival in Papua, or do they feel the magic will be especially potent in the nether regions of the nation? And isn’t it mildly ironic that all of the people offering their dick-swelling charms claim to be from Banten in western Java, where mystics sometimes break their fasts by eating light-bulbs? They offer other mystical services too: tying down your spouse, implanting a protective aura, ensuring you get promoted or elected. But most of their force is expended on delivering: “What other people only promise, we prove with results that are Large and Long”.

It turns out that the penis obsession is not, in fact, confined to the tens of thousands of immigrants from the rest of Indonesia who have been sucked east by Papua’s booming economy. I learned this when I asked a Papuan nurse in one of the province’s largest hospitals what brought men to outpatient services. Three things, he said: injuries resulting from violent fights, injuries resulting from traffic accidents, and prison. Prison? Do people get sick in prison? “No, that’s the penis stuff.” Prisoners, Papuans and others, are operating on one another’s members — inserting ball bearings and biro parts, threading hair through the urethra. A doctor friend who ran an STI clinic in Papua for many years says he saw a lot of penises embellished with horse hair, but the nurse said since that’s in short supply in prison people weave ornaments from their own locks. Not surprisingly, many of these go septic, hence the hospital visits.

My doctor friend blames the porn industry for the penis-plumping craze. “People watch these porn films where everyone has a giant dick, and they begin to think that that’s the norm.” Certainly porn films are enough of a norm in Papua to have their own nickname: “film o-ya”. The name derives from the script, which in many films does not go much beyond the repetitive groaning of “Oh yah!, Oh yaaaaaah! Oh yaaaaaaaaah!

A more serious aside: data newly released by the Indonesian Ministry of Health show that one in four of the Papuan women who are selling sex to their men-folk on the streets of the Papuan highland town of Wamena are infected with HIV, while well over half have another STI. Perhaps because condoms don’t fit snugly over the horsehair, three in four of these infected highland women are not using protection with their partners.

via What’s wrong with Indonesian penises? « Portrait Indonesia.

The sad, sad life of Obama’s ex-Nanny

How do others live their lives as we shuttle about in our air conditioned cars from office to home to shopping malls and others decent, if not well appointed houses?

Here’s a moving story about a transgender Jakartan who was apparently Obama’s nanny when he was growing up.

For another account of how hard life is in Jakarta watch this excellent BBC program on the Toughest Place to be a bin man: Jakarta

If these glimpses of how others struggle for survival do not disturb you and give you pause on what you can do to make this city a better place then something’s wrong.

Obama’s transgender ex-nanny now an outcast on streets of Jakarta 

By AP News Mar 05, 2012 4:10PM UTC

 

Indonesia Obama NannyEvie, also known as Turdi, the former nanny of U.S. President Barack Obama, stands at the doorway of her room at a boarding house in a slum in Jakarta, Indonesia. Pic: AP.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Once, long ago, Evie looked after “Barry” Obama, the kid who would grow up to become the most powerful man on earth. Now, his transgender former nanny has given up her tight, flowery dresses, her brocade vest and her bras, and is living in fear on Indonesia’s streets.

Evie, who was born a man but believes she is really a woman, has endured a lifetime of taunts and beatings because of her identity. She describes how soldiers once shaved her long, black hair to the scalp and smashed out glowing cigarettes onto her hands and arms.

The turning point came when she found a transgender friend’s bloated body floating in a backed-up sewage canal two decades ago. She grabbed all her girlie clothes in her arms and stuffed them into two big boxes. Half-used lipstick, powder, eye makeup — she gave them all away.

“I knew in my heart I was a woman, but I didn’t want to die like that,” says Evie, now 66, her lips trembling slightly as the memories flood back. “So I decided to just accept it. … I’ve been living like this, a man, ever since.”

Indonesia’s attitude toward transgenders is complex.

Nobody knows how many of them live in the sprawling archipelagic nation of 240 million, but activists estimate 7 million. Because Indonesia is home to more Muslims than any other country in the world, the pervasiveness of men who live as women and vice versa often catches newcomers by surprise. They hold the occasional pageant, work as singers or at salons and include well-known celebrity talk show host Dorce Gamalama.

Read more.

Does Tiffy have a point about rude, anonymous Tweeters?

Information Minister Tifatul, the Hitler-admiring and shaker-of-Michele-Obama’s-hands-in-denial Information Minister gets a lot of things wrong, but his angst at anonymous accounts on Twitter that use insults to attack people has some merit to it.

Make no mistake, Unspun’s 100 percent in agreement with Wicaksono aka Ndoro Kakung in the story below. There are just too many Twitter accounts to be able to crack down on, and who’s to decide what’s insulting and what’s not? One person’s insult may be another person’s attempt at honesty.

Nevertheless the nature of Twitter users have changed somewhat in Indonesia. It used to be quite a friendly and quite a well-mannered place. Disagreements were allowed and there was some decorum. Lately however, maybe because every man and his dog are now on Twitter, the nature of the conversations there have deteriorated and some Tweeters have built a sizable following based on Twits that insult others. One young journalist, for instance, has about 20,000 people following merely because he pisses on anyone and everything within range. The Tweets are an angry rant at the world and not at all even witty or intelligent, which would have mitigated its boorishness.

Sadly, there is more and more people like that journalist. They have a following because the Twitter crowd in Indonesia is looking for entertainment, not information or conversations. They get excited when someone is pissing on others and if a pissing contest ensues between two people it is even more entertaining. And if you have detractors who dare not confront you face to face, the anonymity and impersonal nature of Twitter allows them to join in the pissing contest, a bit like the Roman senators joining in to stab at Cesar during the Ides of March.

In social media terms they are trolls. A troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous or off topic messages either in Twitter or other social platforms with the primary intent of provoking a reaction or of distracting you from the topic in discussion. Such people are not open to reason, no matter how much you try. What do you do with people like that?

The best course of action is to monitor what they say but ignore them completely. If they don’t get a rise out of you they will eventually tire and pick on someone else.

And what of the ever lingering electronic disparagement they have made of you? Relax. There is so much clutter and insults out there that such posts will hardly make a dent because even though social media is the rave of the town it is often the traditional media that legitimizes or gives credibility to a story or claim. Unless that happens there is very little reason to rise to their bait.

By announcing that the Government is targeting the trolls, Tifatul is playing exactly into their hands. Already Twitter today is full of rude and insulting remarks about the Minister. Some things are best left alone. There is too much of other important things for the Information Minister to do, such as how to close the digital divide and improve the bandwidth and the horrible state of mobile communications in this country. They have too much time on their hands, indeed.

‘Rude’, ‘Anonymous’ Tweeters Beware: Tifatul to Target Twitter | The Jakarta GlobeAfter blocking access to almost one million pornographic Web sites, the Communication and Information Technology Ministry is now targeting anonymous accounts on Twitter. Minister Tifatul Sembiring said on Monday that he has learned that Twitter was filled with many anonymous accounts that often use insults to attack other people.

“We are now studying it. Because if they really violate [laws] and insult people, they could be reported as spam. Then their [accounts] could be closed by Twitter officials,” he said. Complaints can be filed against Twitter users that disturb the public or attack and offend public figures, he claimed, even if it is an anonymous account.

“If they violate the laws, they will be punished. Principally, every account user could be held responsible by tracing his position and device,” he said. Based on the Information and Electronic Transactions ITE Law, Tifatul said, there are five violations in the cyber world that can warrant legal charges: pornography, gambling, threats, fraud and blasphemy.The ITE Law stipulates that anyone who violates the law could face seven to 12 years of imprisonment.

Blogger Wicaksono, who has about 55,000 followers on Twitter, told the Jakarta Globe the ministry had too much time in its hands if it actually pursued that plan. He said there were growing numbers of anonymous accounts, but many of those accounts are tweeting humorous material, such as an account named Suster Ngesot the mythical crawling nurse ghost. “And what is the definition of insulting? It has so many interpretations,” he said.

 

The social media buzz: Nyunyu, Taecyeon and Multiply in Indonesia

An owl backed by big names on Twitter, K-Pop celebrity Taecyon backed by Indonesia’s avid K-pop bloggers and Multiply shifting its HQ to Indonesia are the items highlighted by the Raconteurs in this week’s installment of the Indonesian Social media scene.

Indispensable information for marketers, anyone interested into what drives the young Indonesian psyche and, yes, even our competitors. Heh.

 

How did on liners react to the Tugu Tani tragedy and what in blazes is KOWAWA \(´▽`)/?

Very proud of how my colleagues at Raconteur, the social media division of Maverick, are using their knowledge, savvy and expertise of the Indonesian cybersphere to keep the rest of us informed about what the online community is saying, what’s hot with them and how they are reacting to offline events, like the tragedy at Tugu Tani when a car driven by a women stoned out of her wits, ploughed into a crowd of pedestrians killing seven people including a pregnant woman and several children.

In this week’s update the Raconteurs also discuss what’s behind the online fad of using the expression “KOWAWA \(´▽`)/”, the urban legend behind the wary tweets about Nenek Guyung and how Telkomsel’s online tricks as it launches the IPhone 4S.

The idea behind these weekly updates is that old fogeys like me who aren’t on the Net as much as we should, as well as corporations and communicators who need to keep abreast of the conversations in Indonesia’s social media scene, have an easy way of accessing this information.

What do you guys think of this service?