Had a spare day after a business trip to Munich in July so took the train to Dachau, the Nazi’s first concentration camp located about 10km outside of the city.

It was opened in 1933 by Heinrich Himmler and meant to house political prisoners but quickly became a catch all for everyone the Nazis couldn’t tolerate – Jews, monosexuals, foreigners,  even German and Austrian criminals.

There must have been so much sorrow and sadness played out there but when I visited I found the place impeccably restored but clinical, like so much of Bavaria.

It did not help that it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, it was cool and cottony clouds floated across the blue sky. I could not help wondering what the inmates must have thought, the irony they savoured, on such a beautiful day when imprisoned in Dachau, a place specially designed to strip them of their dignity.

Entrance to Dachau. A railway ended near here to unload the prisoners
The iron gate into Dachau with the slogan “Work Will Set You Free”. The Nazis excelled in mocking and insulting their prisoners.
Inside Dachau are pictorial and text displays of the rise of the Nazis and their programme to establish Concentration and Extermination camps after Dachau
Another irony. While stripping the wall of paint, the restorers found the original paintwork where a “no smoking sign” was prominently painted on the wall. Many of the prisoners would be killed within a short time so this admonition seemed pointless and mocking.
This is where the prisoners were brought en masse to shower.
A scale model of Dachau, outside the window is a sculpture that is part of the International Monument
A sculpture in the Dachau Museum
A view of the barracks at Dachau
Another view of the barracks
The Jewish Monument at Dachau

Office trip to Belitung

Our office recently went on an outing to Belitung, an island off the east coast of South Sumatra made famous by the film Laska Pelangi.

Our first stop was Tanjung Pandang Beach, a recreational stretch that had nothing remarkable except that it faced west and therefore was a place to watch the sunset.

So we did what all good Indonesian groups do, which is to take lots of group photos and selfies.


There was also the “it’s good to be Boss photo” designed to show me up as a beacon of collected calm in a sea of jumping staff members.


Others ventured to become amateur photographers and models for their portfolios and Instagram accounts.


The next day was games day where we went on boats to the surrounding islands, mainly Pulau Lengkuas. They all had the characteristic of having huge rocks sitting on white sand or clear sea.



Some of them even came complete with their own spume of cloud to crown what, to the creatively minded, must be a lingam of Belitung


The island was, however, beautiful.


And studded with a lighthouse from Dutch days


In between the games and activities we had we managed to see a bit of Belitung, which is on the surface a rather dull town with unremarkable modern buildings  that belie its rich tin-mining past.

But there are glimpses such as this old Dutch house


Or this colonial building that the neighbours couldn’t tell what it was built for.


There was also a temple, the Hock Tek Che temple near the market that hinted on the Chinese ethnic groups that coalesced around mining towns in Indonesia and Malaysia. Apparently the largest groups are the Hakkas, the Haines and the Hokkiens.


There were also a few shops, again near the market, that echoes traditional trades of the Straits Chinese like this rattan shop.


There was also little recreation in the town. No cinemas or Karaokes that we should see, a small shopping mall that you covered in 10 minutes. Much of the entertainment seemed to centre around drinking coffee at the beach and at coffee shops.

Among the coffee shops Kong Djie stands out as the  top hang out spot. There are three outlets, one by the beach, a relatively hip one near a restaurant and ole-olen complex and the original one in town.

When we were there Isyak, the sen of the founder was minding the till and occasionally making the coffee.


He’s a sport though and allowed one of our colleagues to play barista for the afternoon.


Back at our hotel, called the Bahamas Resort (why do they name one exotic tropical beach destination with another) it was time to chill out and bond as an office. We were treated to the great sunsets Belitung offers.



The scene changed with the tide went out.


Two other attractions that Belitung has is the Blue Lake, so called because the kaolin mined in the depleted time mine has given the water a bluish tint.


And of course, there was the famous beach (I forgot the name) where Laskar Pelangi was shot, still. clear waters punctuated by time rounded boulders.


Fear and loathing over funds for Ibu Saeni

They say that no good deed goes unpunished.


The four young people who had been so moved by the plight of Serang Warteg owner Ibu Saeni try raising money for her over the internet — and was too successful at it — must be savouring the irony of this saying now.

Here’s how the story unfolded: On Wednesday, Serang city authorities cracked down on Warteg owners who had opened for business during fasting hours. One of the wartegs they raided, with reporters in tow,  belonged to 53-year old Ibu Saeni.

TV coverage of the raid showed several officers swooping on a hapless Ibu Saeni behind the counter and putting all the food that represented her entire day’s takings into plastic bags to be carried off to an unknown destination.


Shocked and awed, Ibu Saeni broke down into tears.

Not helping things, the city officials had one of their own explaining unsympathetically to the TV cameras that they raided the wartegs because their owners had violated a city regulation not to sell food during fasting hours.

When the incident was aired and reported over TV and other news outlets there was great outpouring of sympathy for Ibu Saeni, and disdain for the officials who were perceived to be picking on the small businesspeople while leaving the more privileged show ones (the larger outlets and chains operating in shopping malls) untouched.

Amid all the chatter on social media arising out of this incident, four young people  – Alexander Thian, Jenny Jusuf, dan Yogi Natasukma and Dwika Putra,  (Disclosure: Dwika works in my workplace) decided to do something to help Ibu Saeni.

Since they  were heavy social media users and influencers in their own right, they naturally turned to the Net to raise money for Ibu Saeni. They had thought that they could raise Rp10 million, maybe Rp20 million, to help her after the trauma she had been through.

So they appealed for donations. Dwika had an account in BCA that he used for his personal expenses. So he emptied that account and used it as a vehicle for accepting donations to Ibu Saeni.

Then the unexpected happened. The response was so good that the four of them were first delighted then shocked as contribution after contribution came in. When the fund ballooned to Rp80 million they began to realise that the money raised after that mark would be better utilised for helping other victims of the raid. So they used social media to tell would-be donors that whatever was raised after that would be disbursed to other Warteg owners who had also been raided by city authorities.

Still the money kept pouring in and when the deadline for the last donations came they had raised a whopping Rp265 million!

They were touched. They were elated. They were amazed by the generosity of their fellow Indonesians. But they were also getting a bit scared an frustrated.

This was because while many Indonesians were praising them and appreciating their initiative to do something instead of merely tweeting or Facebooking about their frustrations, others have been outright mealy mouthed and nasty about their motives.

It would have been fine if these critics questioned whether it was the right thing to do to try to help a woman who had broken city regulations but the bottom line was much lower than that.

The intentions and integrity of the four were questioned. Hiding behind the safety and often the anonymity of their Twitter and other social media accounts these critics started to insinuate against the integrity and intentions of these four.

Some said that they were Christians out to denigrate Islam, Others that they were out to make a name for themselves on the sorrows of Ibu Saeni. Still others questioned whether they were trying to make a profit from the interest accrued from the interest on the Rp265 million before the disbursement,. And some questioned whether they wanted to insinuate themselves into politics.

It is ridiculous. It is petty and totally unwarranted, forcing one of them, Alexander Thian, to address the issue in his Facebook page.

The truth is sometimes very simple until people try to complicate it. My take on this incident is that you have four young people with their hearts in the right places. They wanted to help an old lady in distress and got off their bums to do something about it.

They made an appeal and the response was way beyond their expectations. So now they have to deal with how best to disburse all that money so that it is not only fair but seen to be fair. There is nothing more to it.

Instead of dumping on them these critics should shut up instead and look into themselves to find out where such snarky, petty and ill-willed sentiments come from. Appropriate topics to contemplate during the month of Ramadan, when the aim is for people to become better human beings.


Warren the Welch to Trump’s McCarthyism?

American politics is fascinating to watch. It can be depressing but it can also be so uplifting.

Depressing is when we see Donald Trump bluster his way to become the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, making him a very possible next president of the most powerful country in the world. Depressing is when you see him get away, even thrive, on racist, irrational attacks and bullying of others. Depressing is when you have his closest contender, the Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton not having the personality, the rhetoric or the ability to strip the Donald of his deceit and bluster.

Depressing it must have been for Americans when Senator McCarthy was on the ascendent with his with hunts in the 1950s. Like the Donald blustered, he lied, he bullied and he intimidated and instead of being called out his rise seemed unassailable. No one, it seemed could take him on and stop the juggernaut of hatred and spite.


But then it happened. In a congressional hearing into alleged Communist activities into the army, the army’s chief counsel stood up to McCarthy by delivering the now immortal lines: “Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belonged to the Lawyers Guild. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

His missive hit the mark and all but stopped the McCarthy dominance on its tracks. All of a sudden, the Emperor had no clothes. McCarthy’s career collapsed soon after that.

Something similar to Welch’s deflation of McCarthy is now taking place in America to the Trump ascendency. Now, finally, there is someone with the conviction, the integrity and the rhetorical skills to deflate the Trump balloon.

It is a joy watching Senator Elisabeth Warren, who is likely to be Hillary’s running mate (just think of that a 2-woman ticket to the White House!) eviscerate Trump. Like the spoilt brat he is Trump has retaliated by calling Warren Pocahontas in reference to the native American ancestry she is supposed to have.

But you get the feeling that this time, against this particular person Trump has met his Welch. Unspun’s bet is that Warren will I’ve Trump a beating that his fat privileged ass won’t recover from.

A light seeming shines out of the depth of despair. And that’s why American politics is so fascinating and uplifting as well.

Watch Warren lace into Trump here and the parallels with Welch start to make sense:





Turning 14 – Maverick Indonesia

Repost from our office blog:


Maverick is 14 years old today. There is much to be thankful for but primarily for being in this country Indonesia that has allowed us to grow, to experiment with new ways of doing things and to be modestly profitable all these years.   Being in Indonesia has meant operating in an environment where the demand for quality services outstrips the supply. From the start we our business acquisition strategy on this belief and focussed on serving only the clients who were serious about their communications. These were clients who could appreciate how crucial communications are to the success of their businesses. Hence they would allocate though human and financial resources to ensure that it succeeded. The dynamic society that is Indonesia is another factor we are thankful for. We have found many of our clients open to experimentation and new ideas. This has allowed us to transition from the “traditional” PR firm focussing on media relations to what we are today, a communications consultancy that knows how to atomise and convert assets between Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media. We are still some way to being what we envision but we think that we’re close. Indonesia, surprisingly for many, can also be an incredible profitable place to work in. We think that this is because many decision makers are open-minded and honest enough to know what they don’t know, and do not mind paying to plug the gap. But the greatest joy that my partner and I have had over the years is to watch new and tentative graduates morph into highly competent professionals and leaders, even after they leave us. Some have forgotten the values and ethics to go along with the arts of persuasion that we taught them but happily most have not forgotten their roots and have become shining examples that would help spur the next generation of communicators to greater levels of excellence. It’s been a great ride but hey, we are only in our teens. Watch this space for more to come from the Mavbros and Mavchicks, many of whom will be much better and greater in professional prowess, and hopefully great human beings as well, than Lita and I. Now to go to Maverick’s anniversary party and drink to everyone’s health and have a great time.

Source: Turning 14 – Maverick Indonesia

WTF: Minister blames parent after 14 youths rape 14-year old girl

This is bizarre.

A 14-year old girl named Yuyun dies after being raped by 14 youths. Who is to blame?

While others my pussyfoot about social factors and whether the victim or the rapists are responsible, the Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection is not burdened by hand-wringing.

She knows exactly who is to blame: The parents of Yuyun.

They are responsible, the Minister told a parliamentary Commission hearing, because they had left the child alone at home when they went out to their fields to farm.

News articles covering the hearing did not say if the Indonesian President  has ordered any psychological tests on the Minister for imbecility.

Menteri Yohanna: Kasus Yuyun Salah Orangtua – News Liputan6.com

Liputan6.com, Jakarta – Hari ini Komisi VIII DPR melakukan Rapat Dengar Pendapat (RDP) dengan Menteri Sosial Khofifah Indar Parawansa, Menteri Pemberdayaan Perempuan dan Perlindungan Anak (PPPA) Yohanna Yembise, Ketua Komisi Perlindungan Anak Indonesia Asrorun Niam, dan Polri yang diwakili oleh Kepala Badan Reserse Kriminal (Kabareskrim) Anang Iskandar.

Dalam rapat, Menteri Yohanna sempat menyebutkan kalau ada faktor kesalahan orangtua di kasus perkosaan.Ia pun mencontohkan kasus pemerkosaan Yuyun, gadis 14 tahun di Bengkulu yang meninggal usai diperkosa 14 laki-laki.

“Kasus Yuyun itu yang salah orangtua. Orangtuanya sudah beberapa hari di kebun. Bagaimana mau memperhatikan anak itu?” kata Yohana saat RDP di Kompleks Parlemen Senayan Jakarta, Senin (30/5/2016).

Menurut dia, kondisi di keluarga mempengaruhi kasus kekerasan seksual. Oleh sebab itu, Menteri Yohanna meminta agar ada tindakan ke keluarga. “Sanksi ke orangtua harus kita perhatikan juga,” ucap dia.

Read more…

A Malaysian newbie in Jakarta

What would you make of Indonesian working life and the people in general if you’re a Malaysian, newly graduated and looking for some work experience? Andrew Seow took the plunge and tried his hand in public relations at Maverick and this is this story:


Time passes when you are having fun. So after what felt like mere days I realized that my four-month work experience with Maverick in Jakarta had reached its inevitable end.


Just prior to joining Maverick I had, like so many in my generation, been given lots of encouragement to do well in school and then getting a degree from a recognized university as the jumping off point with which to launch a respectable career.

When I left university at the end of last year, however, I realized that I was rather clueless of what I would like to do next. I was beset by a sense of emptiness, not knowing how my life would turn out, and what my next moves should be.

Realising that the best course of action was to begin immersing myself in the real world of work, I reached out to a family friend whom I grew up referring to as Uncle Hock Chuan, but whom I later learnt was referred to as Pak Ong, the well-known PR consultant in Indonesia.

When Maverick decided to accept me I quickly packed my bags and headed for Jakarta with few expectations except to fulfill three goals – to learn as much as I could about the industry and country, make as many new friends as possible, and have a damn good time doing it.

The first thing that struck me on arriving at Maverick was its creative working space concept. It was a huge relief being in a cool working space as I’ve never liked being contained in claustrophobic cubicles.

The open office environment was comfortable to work in, dismissing the usual hierarchal tension between senior and junior co-workers. Also, how often can people brag about their office having a Tatami room? The beanbag and pillow-filled Japanese-styled room ended up being my most productive working space, especially for Gen Zs like me who do our best work away from chairs and desks when working…read more