Uncouth Harley riders, police lackeys and one brave cyclist in Jogjakarta

Who among us who have the sense not to buy a big bike in Indonesia  do not resent the Harley Davidson riders?

They ride with seeming impunity on the roads we have a share in, polluting the environment with their throaty machines, violating our right of way with their convoys, brazenly violating the law with their illegal sirens and look extremely smug because the police they hire push the rest of us aside to make room for them.

One of the photos of the Jogja confrontation going viral on social media
One of the photos of the Jogja confrontation going viral on social media

So it is with great satisfaction that we see a brave citizen and cyclist in Jogjakarta taking on the Harley riders and their lackeys, the traffic police. Photos and videos of the incident has gone viral on social media. The videoclip below is long but worth looking at:

This video is enough to make any Harly Davidson rider with any sense of dignity hang up their leathers for good. How can grown, educated men behave in such a way?

Ah, the harley Davidson riders would say, but those are the bad riders who give us a bad name. We are the responsible ones who don’t do things like that. Tell that to the rest of us when we have seen you do something like that cyclist in Jogja. Of all people,if you really care for The Ride then you should be at the forefront of doing something like this.

Otherwise take your unnecessarily expensive leather jackets, the macho T-shirts you have to such your stomach in to look halfway decent, and your ridiculous bandana hiding your thinning pate up your exhaust pipes.

Where the police are concerned, they are so corrupt and obsequetious they are not worth getting angry over. You wonder what the police chiefs make of this incident. They’d probably be raging, but for the wrong reasons because either they or their mates are probably in the Harley convoy.  Shame. Shame. Shame.

 

 

 

Ahok: Last man standing and Indonesia’s best hope for change?

Living in Indonesia these days feels as if someone has pulled the plug, and all the common sense and integrity that we expect even of our most revered political hopes are draining quickly out of the country.

The Outsider Jokowi, whom many of us had hoped would be a catalyst for change against a corrupted and ossified elite, now seems a shadow of his former self after his indecisiveness over the KPK-Police issue. Some people are hoping against hope that his dithering was actually some master chess move to get rid of Budi Gunawan who is widely to have been foisted on him by PDIP matriarch Megawati. This seems a long shot, however, and suggests that the hopes had watched too much Black Adder and the antics of the scheming Baldrick in their formative years.

Recently we have also seen the disintegration of Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan. Once lauded for his fantastic performance to get the country’s rail transport to run on time – no mean feat considering how bad it was – Jonan his been on crash and burn mode since the Air Asia disaster. he berated Air Asia for the failings of the aviation authorities, then he banned several routes for no good reason, then shot his mouth off on civil aviation investigations into the crash. He also issued a bizarre ruling that airlines would not be able to sell tickets at airports. And when it came to Lion Air the Minister who is known to roar at his subordinates his disapproval, squeaked like a mouse and got the state-owned Angkasapura to bail out the private airline as it did not have enough funds to compensate passengers stranded for hours because of its delayed flights.

And Surabaya Mayor Risma, once considered part of a new wave of local leaders able to effect change in Indonesia, has recently gone off the rails with her crackdown on young lovers and the sale of condoms on Valentine’s day. Why she is encouraging backroom abortions and the spread of HIV with this morally-infused crackdown is anyone’s guess.

The KPK, once the hope of Indonesians to clean up corruption is now a shadow of its former self as the new head hints at going soft on the real issues. Sure, it has been weakened by its fight with the police over Budi Gunawan and the police and the judiciary are responsible for wounding it, but let’s not forget that some of the KPK’s wounds are also self-inflicted.

Begining with Antasari some of the KPK’s leaders like Abraham Samad fail to recognise that in this high profile job whee you are up against a lot of bad guys, they must be more virtuous than Caesar’s Wife if they are to maintain the integrity and authority of that office. Alas they had feet of clay and exposed the Achilles Heel for its opponents to take pot shots at.

Which bring us to Ahok, the Governor of Jakarta. He is now being threatened with ouster from his post by the City Councillors. They want him out because he’s refuse to confirm to their version of the City budget that, as we are learning more every day, contains irregularities that suggest corruption.

Ahok seems vulnerable because he does not even have a party to back him up, the’s a Chinese in the traditionally non-Chinese dominated arena of politics and he’s a Christian in Islamic majority Indonesia.

None of this seems to have fazed him, however, as he continues not only to defy the Councillors but to do so in a confrontational manner. Granted, Ahok can be abrasive and he may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but his bravery and Devil-may-care attitude may be the thing that Indonesia needs now.

Unspun would argue that Ahok, more than Jokowi or any other politician deserves the support of the public. If there are enough of us who are willing to take to the streets to frighten the hell out of the councillors then they will back down and a strong message will be sent to all politicians that the People, not them, are in charge.

if Ahok, with the support of the people, can prevail over the corrupt city councillors and their parties, there stands Indonesia’s best chance of knocking down the other bowling pins of corruption and elitist politics. A victory for Ahok could prove a decisive and fatal blow to the old forces.

There have been some demonstrations in support of Ahok, notably yesterday’s gathering at Bundaren HI during car free day. There is also a petition being signed by tens of thousands at change.org.

But that is not enough. Shame is not a language that the politicians and councillors understand. Neither is logic. The only language they understand is force. Force can be manifested either peacefully or violently. There is no need to resort to violence in Indonesia under the present circumstances.

So what should be done? Occupying the City Council to deny the councillors access or, better still, if they are inside, denying them exit would be tremendously effective. Half jokingly a friend yesterday suggested that the artistes and others who were so effective at the Salam Dua Jari Concert should organize another event calling it #BringtheHouseDown.

Nothing short of something like this would force the councillors to back down. The problem, however, is whether Indonesians, especially Jakartans, have been gentrified by social media to the point of ineffectiveness. Do they possess the same spirit as the protesters in 1997-98 who brought about the Reformasi, or are they faux democracy supporters armed with social media accounts. A bit like harley Davidson riders pretending to be road warriors?

It is too easy these days to “do something” for a cause by liking it on FB, Tweeting a #, or signing up for a cause in change.org that results in — nothing but a lot of noise ricocheting about in cyberspace with no tangible real effects.

So what is it going to be? Waking on the Internet or taking to the streets?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blogger, the Crowd, and the Prime Minister

One of the early promises of the Net was its ability to democratise, to level the playing field.

Then the Net became ubiquitious, Facebook and others let the barbarians and trolls in to play and many of us got disenchanted with it.

So it is particularly heartening then to read about the power of the Net to level the playing field between Singapore blogger Roy Ngerng in the David corner and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the Goliath corner.

Roy had been asking questions about how the Singapore Government has been using, or abusing, its funds. Lee didn’t like the criticism so he sued Roy.

The legal suit has been the Big Stick that governments and the rick can wield against pesky reporters and writers, who are usually not that well off financially. I remember many years ago in Malaysia when a tycoon took out a suit against one of the big names in journalism M.G.G. Pillay for something he wrote.

M.G.G. spiritedly tried to fight it but the pressure of having to pay something beyond what he could make if he lost the suit took its toll. I think it broke him to a certain extent.

But now, thanks to the Net, we have crowd funding, like what Roy has resorted to. The implications of his action, and his initial success at raising up to S$50,000 with little effort, has huge political implications.

It now means that writers and bloggers need no longer be that afraid of the crippling legal suit, especially if they are writing something critical about a government, institution or individual that is not publicly popular.

Sue me? I’ll crowd fund my law suit. let’s see you in court. Libel laws are still important, as with the principle of the right of the aggrieved party to sue for libel, but in this instance at least the scales of Justice have been tipped to be more even.

Published: 2 June 2014 | Updated: 3 June 2014 3:56 AM

A Singaporean blogger sued for damages by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (pic) said Monday he had successfully raised fees for his legal defence in just four days through crowdfunding.

Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, a government health worker who posts comments on social issues, said 1,104 people had so far contributed more than Sg$72,000 (RM184,900), exceeding his target of Sg$70,000 (RM179,700) when he launched the campaign Friday.

Ngerng published the transaction history of his bank account on his crowdfunding platform. Many of the donors registered comments criticising Lee and opposing the use of libel suits to silence government critics.

Singapore officials have long used defamation suits against printed publications to defend their reputations.

Ngerng was the first online critic brought to court by a Singaporean leader.

“Donations were mostly of small denominations, and ranged from one cent to two thousand dollars,” Ngerng, 33, told AFP.

“It reflects the people’s frustrations with the current situation,” added Ngerng, author of a blog called ‘The Heart Truths’..[continued…]

 

Something to like: Friends of Captain Zaharie MH370 Facebook page

If you are family or friend of Captain Zaharie, the pilot of MH370 that went missing more than 10 days ago and feel that much of what is being said about him was unfair, careless or plain sensationalism, what would you do?

You could face the media but that would be a huge strain. The pressure would be enormous, you would be subjected to a public inquisition and a small slip of the tongue could crucify you and reflect badly on the Captain. And even if you are good with the media you could still be subject to misinterpretation and misquotes.

Yet you feel that you need to set the record straight on some matters. In the captain’s case, some media reported that authorities raided his house and confiscated his home-made simulator when apparently the facts are that they want to the house and respectfully asked if they could inspect it. Th family cooperated fully and even helped to dismantle it. It was a picture of cooperation, not of authorities busting into the defensive home of a political fanatic.

What do you do? For Captain Zaharie’s family and friends their answer lies with starting a Facebook Page “Friends of Captain Zaharie MH370“.

FOCZ

It would have been better if they had identified who exactly was hosting the page to give it more credibility but under the circumstances this was enough and they have taken to providing information and clearing the air about misreports and misinterpretations.

FOCZ1 copy
                     Continue Reading

This is smart use of social media during a crisis-like situation and corporations would do well to take a leaf from the Captain’s family and friends for their own crisis moments.

And why not? The Internet now allows almost anyone to own their own media. You could, in short order, set up a blog or reconfigure your webpage, set up a Facebook page and a twitter account, or use your existing one with a particular hashtag to do what the Captain’s friends have just done.

What you can do then is post notes to inform or announce information, or correct misinformation. If you want to go further you could also post your own videoclips and even open up a “press room” where you take the media’s questions and answer them through the net. The journalists would not like this very much as it takes too much control out of them, but what choice do they have if that is the only source of timely information from you?

This is not to say that a corporation should eschew the traditional face-to-face interviews, briefings and press conferences but social media now allows you to have a medium where you too can be a broadcaster to take the monopoly of power from the mass media.

Yet this is something corporations don’t do enough when confronted with emergencies and crises.is it because bad habits are hard to break, or that they feel that they are not engaging enough unless you do things in the real rather than the virtual world?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Malaysia Airlines instil confidence in its handling of MH370 incident?

When tragedy strikes, like it has with the disappearance of flight MH370, the company at the centre of it all comes under intense scrutiny. It must demonstrate that it knows what it is doing and has a difficult situation under control – or lose the confidence of the public and all other stakeholders.

If it loses control of the situation it will plunge itself into a deeper crisis as all the frustration and anger of missing loved ones come to bear full force on it.

Fortunately for the families and loved ones of MH370, however, Malaysia Airlines has so far has demonstrated its professionalism in handling this crisis-like situation. Their burden remains heavy, but they can at least take comfort that CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya and his team know what they are doing.

How can you tell if they are doing a good job?  There are several tell tale signs.

The first is that Ahmad and Malaysia Airlines’ willingness to share information. Perhaps a bit slow off the block Ahmad nevertheless addressed the issue in a Press Conference yesterday where he expressed sympathy for the friends and families of the victims, told the public what they did and did not know yet, and what they are doing. This is the Triple R of crisis communications – Regret, Reason and Remedy.

The other indication of what sort of a company Malaysia Airlines is when it comes to crisis management can be seen very evidently  from how it manages its digital assets because in this age of the super-connected public, they are the first points of contact for most people around the world who are interested in the developments of the search and rescue and recovery of MH370 and its passengers and crew. The digital assets are primarily its website, as well as its social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

Companies trained in crisis management usually have a Dark Site prepared for incidents such as MH370. A Dark Site is a “dormant” website that is stripped of all promotion materials and designed to provide information and updates about the incident. It is activated only during crisis-like situations.

If you go to the Malaysian Airlines website you will see that they have stripped their website of all promotional materials, with a prominent “pointer” to the Dark Site.

MAS Website

Click on that and you go directly to the Dark Site where you get the latest information that the company has on the incident.

MAS Darksite

But Malaysian Airlines does not stop there. Go to their Facebook page and you will see the same messages being posted to amplify their message on the website. The Facebook page is also stripped of all colour and the airlines logo is grey together with a grey background, to prevent any inadvertent visuals that may not be appropriate for the mood.

MAS FB

This same treatment is also applied to its Twitter account which is also used to amplify the message on its website.

MAS Twitter

Such coordination and activation within hours of the incident suggests a company that takes crisis management seriously and has drilled its employees to be able to carry out such tasks under the pressure of public scrutiny. It should give confidence to the public that Ahmad Jauhari Yahya and his Core Crisis Management Team at Malaysia Airlines are competent, professional and know what they are doing.

In difficult times like this, such professionalism should be a source of comfort for aggrieved families and friends of the passengers of MH370.

 

Jilbab Hitam and Waiting for Godot

Regular readers of Unspun will know that this blog takes interest in journalistic developments in Indonesia and elsewhere.  The interest comes from Unspun having been a journalist for many years before he “sublimated” into a communications consultant.

Readers will know from the two previous posts that Unspun found the Jilbab Hitam issue fascinating since it involves several prominent names, the allegations of a putative ex-Tempo journalist and of extortion of well-known institutions.

That, however, was where Unspun’s involvement with the case ends. Ditto Maverick, the communications firm where Unspun works at.

It was therefore very surprising last Thursday night when the names of Unspun and Maverick started cropping up on Twitter. The head of a research firm in Indonesia (let’s call him Godot), who is also an occasional newspaper contributor and commentator on anything from politics to economics had insinuated that Maverick was involved with a corporation (let’s call it AA), whose name had been bandied about as the possible instigator behind the Jilbab Hitam posting in Kompasiana.

AA was supposed to be involved, so the rumour mill has it, because they wanted payback for a book claiming to expose questionable practices in the corporation.

Now, sometime during the last week or so a blogger, who had almost the same name as one of our employees (let’s call him RF) , had posted an opinion piece in a Detik.com blog criticising the book. In the posting the blogger had said that he was a student of a lecturer  in University Indonesia who had also earlier posted a critique of the book in Kompasiana.

The detik.com posting sent Godot’s research juices flowing and somehow (presumably through something more sophisticated than a Google search, for he is, after all, a researcher) he came up with the allegation that Maverick and RF were in cahoots with AA to run down the author of the investigative boo. Without further ado Godot started to post Tweets about his suspicions.

As with most things that come up out of  the blue, Maverick’s crisis management training has taught us to seek and verify facts before reacting rashly. So we methodologically called up RF’s personnel files and found out that unlike Godot’s insinuations, RF did not go to school in University Indonesia. We then asked RF if he had known the particular lecturer. Negative. Had RF written any opinion pieces and posted them on any blogs, let alone Detik.com? Negative. Curiouser and curiouser.

We then went on the next stage of fact-finding. Going to source is usually the most reliable means of arriving at the truth. So since Twitter seemed the communications channel of choice for Godot, we asked him a simple question : why did he think that the blogger was the same person as our employee RF, since it was a common name and a Google search came up with dozens of RFs. Why did he think our RF was the RF?

That’s when the Twitter conversation turned weird. Godot dissembled and never answered the question. That didn’t stop him from casting aspersions on us and the PR profession though.

Normally, we would dismiss Godot as a troll and ignore him but because this issue was emotionally charged among a community we are close to – journalists – we thought we needed to resolve the matter conclusively and give it a decent burial. In social media, anything that doesn’t get a decent burial can come back to haunt you.

So we asked Godot for a face-to-face meeting so that he can explain how he came to his conclusions and we can set the record straight. By then the Twitter exchange had attracted the attention of some prominent Twitterati, a few of whom are senior journalists. They felt it was a good idea and encouraged Godot to meet with us to clear the air.

In spite of all this willingness to engage though, Godot has not replied. If he felt that he was right there was no indication that he desired to get to the bottom of things. If he realised that he had been wrong there was no hint of owning up and an apology for wrongfully insinuating that Maverick was in cahoots with AA.

So we are now…. waiting for Godot

(Thanks @julianto_irwan for being our muse with the name)