Category: Indonesia

The Mahathir-Badawi broughaha, from a distance

Malaysian blogger and old friend Rocky of Rocky’s Bru has posted a comment on this blog saying he likes the new look (thanks) and what are my thoughts, as a fomer Malaysian journalist, on the political broughaha between Mahathir and Badawi.

Well Rocky, I think if you’re not living in the country it all looks a bit pathetic. On one side you have a real leader who refuses to go gently into the quiet night, and therefore threatens to undo whatever good he has done for the country; and other side you have courtiers and court jugglers who are good only in palace intrigue and little else. They are particularly pathetic because in their obsession with palace intrigues they have failed to realize that the world flattened in the meantime and what they hold dear has now been overtaken by technology and the times.

First the real leader. For all his faults, Mahathir is a leader of men. He had vision and he could execute against this vision successfully. The cost, however, of realizing this vision was an emasculation of the Press and much of the next generation of political leaders.

Mahathir, however, fails to have a sense of irony, as I pointed out in an earlier posting, and of grace. He’s done what he could for Malaysia. Is what he’s doing now for the country or, as suggested by P Ramasamy in his article What Lies Beneath Mahathir’s Attacks that was first published in Malaysiakini. because he and his friends are being snubbed by the current elite. I’m beginning to think that it’s the latter, with spite being the motivator.

Then there are the courtiers and court jugglers. Here some would include Badawi (more…)

Martin Sorrell on connectivity and blogs

Still doubtful that blogs will amount to anything in communications? Here’s what WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell has to say about blogs in the latest issue of Fortune. (WPP is one of the largest marketing communications companies in the world). I like what he says, particularly about how difficult it is for older people to accept technology (see earlier posting on Juwono).

“It’s difficult for people from traditional media to absorb the new, individually created media such as blogging. It’s powerful, people creating their own content…Older people don’t understand how powerful it is. They don’t know what is out there.They would be amazed at some of the stuff they would read on certain subjects. And its viral, so it spreads….”

So there you have it from one of the most hard-nosed businessmen in the world.

Playboy editor, model charged as Djarum puffs on

playboy.jpgPolice yesterday charged Playboy editor Edwin Arnada and April centerfold Kartika Octavina Gunawan (picture as appeared in Jakarta Post) with indecency. Fair enough if such are the moral standards.

But nobody among Indonesia’s Finest seem to think Djarum’s advertisements, which aren’t hidden from the innocent eyes of kids and hoolier-than-thou types in centerfolds, anything less than sweetly satisfying.

djarum-penthouse-hi.jpgProbably it’s because everyone knows that if you smoke you’d be incapable of indecency – or or much of anything else because you’d be impotent. Still, its all a bit of double standards here, what.

Who’s that ‘Indonesian’ playing rugby for the country?

A sharp-eyed foreign correspondent sms-ed me this morning asking why the Indonesian rugby national player in the front page of the Jakarta Post looked suspiciously like a non-Indonesian. In other words, he looked positively bule. Could I unspin this mystery?


Not one to pass off a challenge I called a friend in the Post. He didn’t know. “It’s a Reuters photo. Go ask them,” he said. I didn’t, but did some investigating instead and found some interesting facts about the er…Indonesian team.

Though Indonesian in name the composition is actually quite cosmopolitian. There are 20 Indonesians and eight expatriates, two of whom flew all the way from London and Dubai respectively to join them for the tour of Cambodia. More: Their coach is a French national called Nico de Rebas, who lives in Balikpapan.

So my friend was right. The Indonesian national player wasn’t exactly Indonesian.

Juwono’s Defense Blog

Note: The Jakarta Post published this posting under the headline “Blogs level field for corporations and governments” in its Opinion Page on 4 July, with some minor edits.

Corporate communicators, journalists and PR hacks take note: your Defense Minister has just started blogging. What are you going to do about it?

If conversations with professional communicators in Indonesia are anything to go by, the answer is probably nothing. The typical attitude, especially for those over 40, is that blogs are for angst-filled teenagers writing syrupy prose and bad poetry on the Net.

They couldn’t be more wrong. Blogs are very likely to change the way businesses and organizations communicate, especially when it comes to crisis and issues management. The rise of the blogging phenomenon as a potential force in society is well documented in publications such as Fortune, Tom Freidman’s The World is Flat and Naked Conversations, a book co-authored by Robert Scoble, best known as Microsoft’s appointed blogger, and Shel Israel.

Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono has apparently taken all this seriously and has started blogging from April. So far he’s made five postings: The first was personal and on the arrival of his grandson while the others were about the US Secretary of Defence, development planning and the debate on Pancasila.

His last posting, however, is particularly interesting from a issues management point of view and can be a precursor of how businesses, organizations and personalities may try to engage their detractors in the future.


Aussies bicker over Bali

It is greatly amusing to see the spat between two Australians writing about Bali.

On one corner is an Australian calling himself Made Widjaya who writes a column called Stranger in Paradise in the Sunday edition of the Jakarta Post (Has anyone noticed that the Jakarta Post on Sunday seems to be teeming with bule columnists recently? Must be difficult to get Indonesian writers in this country of 230 million, many of whom have good English).

On the other corner is Mark Forbes, correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald.

On the May 28 edition of the paper, Made took issue with an article Forbes wrote for his paper headlined Abandoned Bali Waits in Hope. He started by poking fun at Forbes’ prosiac intro: “The candles flicker on the restaurant tables like the stars over Jimbaran Bay…”; accused Forbes of interviewing mainly only masseuers or prostitutes for his story and picked at other points raised by Forbes.

Not one to take such at attack sitting down, Forbes shot back with typical Aussie bluster, calling Made a “Balinese wannabe” who had authored a “spiteful and totally inaccurate attack” on his story. He then concludes that “Perhaps Made should stick to the narcissistic name-dropping efforts that dominate his columns rqather than misguided attacks on those who attempt to cover the issues facing Bali in a realistic and sympathetic manner.”

Wow! Was all this an intellectual disagreement or an all-out bitchfight? Whatever it is, I haven’t seen such entertainment since I worked at a pub in Gepps Cross, Adelaide, many years ago. Good One Mates.

Yogjakarta Quake: HOPE’s progress one month on

This is the latest report from Charles Ham, the country director for HOPE worldwide – Indonesia.

Hope worldwide continues to serve the victims which is estimated up to 1.75 million people. 2,500 patients has been cared by Mobile Clinic that travels to remote areas. Patients received follow up treatments that were not done properly in the first days of disaster. many broken bones were not properly healed that needed extra care and follow up treatments.

The lady below broke her leg, but was only wrapped in cotton & cardboard.The medical team was able to rush her for chiropractic care.


Another older lady broke her upper leg, and has lost her will to survive. “Why do I need to live? ” she cried out “I am better dead than giving my family trouble”. She needs psycho-social support from the volunteers.

Two Child Centers have also served 1,500 children in Trimulyo Village, Jetis & Timbulharjo Village, Sewon. The CCs provide psycho social support for the children through play, art, music, etc. The volunteers also assisted the children prepare their school exams. In addition, 12,000 children will receive nutrition, hygiene kits & health promotion in the next few weeks as well.


In total, 60 tons of medicines, food, shelter , hygiene kits, water purification tablets, nutrition, clothings and toys is being distributed to the victims.

Indonesian truimphs at int’l competition

Prof. Yohanes Surya, who dedicates his life to training Indonesian children to compete in  brainy international competitions, has just sms'd to say that Surya Bonai from SMAN 5 Jayapura has won the gold medal in the international competition called "The First Syep to Nobel Prize in Chemistry".

Well done but Surya is not the only student to make Indonesia proud in such competitions. Indonesian studets have also done well in international physics andmath competitions.

Which raises a couple of questions:  Why are Indonnesian so able to win such prizes consistently when the education system is so bad? If Indonesians can do so well with so little support, shouldn't the government prioritize support in this area?  If Indonesia's education system were better, would Indonesians do even much better?

SEZs: cure or denial for Indonesia’s investment woes?

Indonesia’s plans to transform the islands of Batam, Bintan and Karimun which are near Singapore into Special Economic Zones is being billed as a breakthrough solution for the government to attract direct foreign investments.

There is little doubt that if conditions are right for Singapore the SEZs would, in the short to medium term, bring in millions of dollars in investment dollars. But what about the long term implications? Would the creation of SEZ’s help or harm Indonesia’s attempts to make itself a more attractive investment destination?

SEZs would help Indonesia if they are part of a long term national strategy to make Indonesia more attractive. China has used this strategy to great effect by opening up Shenzen as a SEZ way before it liberalized its economy. Its success however, was because the Chinese leaders had their eye firmly on the ball – the revival of China’s national economy and the SEZs were but means toward a greater end.


‘Islamic’ Thugs IX: Failure of the media

The Jakarta Post recently carried a commentary by one of its journalists alleging links between the Jakarta police chief and one of the militant groups terrorizing citizens with violence in the name of Islam.

This is great journalism if it is true. Unfortunately we'll never know because armchair journalism has replaced good old pavementment pounding and investigative journalism. While it is fine to repeat allegations that there are links between the police chief and one of the groups,what would be more responsible and fair to the police chief is for the reporter to go up to him and ask: 'Sir, I hear this about you…is it true and if so what do you have to say for yourself?'

 But this is not done. in the article the reporter plays pundit, repeats hearsay which may or may not be true and declined his duty to make the office holders accountable. So things go on they murky ways, with few the wiser after the article.

 I've always thought that of all the Indonesian institutions the Press held the most hope for keeping a check on the powers that be. It is sufficiently uncorrupted and fuelled by idealism to bring about change in Indonesia. Unfortunatley most journalists fail to realise that their opinions are powerless against thick-skinned officials and politicians. Opinions seldom bring about the downfall of public officials but in the history of journalism information usually does the trick. If the police chief is linked to the Islamic hooligans then the media should document this information, verify it from several sources and present the information to the public. then hold the police chief to account for this. Anything short of this and its the Press wanking away.