Normal is when something happens often, becomes predictable and loses the power to shock, anger and spur people into action.
The biggest danger that Jakartans face is the normalization of the widespread floods which is happening so often lately, I think about seven this year so far.
Each time time it floods the same things happen. From early on Netizens start posting photos of floods in their areas.
There is the photo of cars leaving waves of muddy water in their wake . Old women trying to cross a torrent. Valiant acts by random Samaritans.
Then the funnies: Tik Toks of people on beds, on tables above flood waters. Some dancing, some fishing.
Inevitably there will be video posts of snakes or fish, especially koi, swimming in the floodwaters.
All they will curse and rant at Anies. How he is incompetent. How his pseudo-religious claims were all empty, how is kadrun supporters, who helped oust the effective Ahok from governorship were now reaping the whirlwind of their distardly acts.
Anies would, in turn, mutter something inane, and the groundswell will once again froth vitriol at him, with Jokowi buzzers leading the charge.
Then nothing will happen. The flood waters will reside and with it the hue and cry that accompanied the floodwaters will die down – until the next major flood.
This normalization of floods causes frustration all around as it exposes the powerlessness of the city’s residents. This is dangerous as such feelings, pent up, would need an outlet.
And so it has happened. The poor residents near at Jakarta Garden City has resorted to rioting against Aeon Mall, blaming the developer there for causing the floods in their area.
Someone has to do something before this too becomes the new normal.
Actions not Tweets, Tik Toks, Instastories and FB posts and rants is what is needed. Actions singularly focused on forcing Anies to act or to leave office need to be carried out.
Who can take these actions instead of being brave keyboard warriors, before the cycle of flood-netizen outrage-violence becomes the new normal?
There is something very strange about this story.
Early this Police stopped 5 Jakarta City (DKI) ambulances on Jalan Gatot Subroto.
In at least one they found rocks and petrol. They suspected that the ambulances were being used to supply rocks for throwing at police and fireworks, said Kumparan. Other news outlets said there was also petrol for making Molotov cocktails.
The ambulances were impounded and police released a video of the interception on their twitter feed.
In the video, a policeman was heard saying that they were carrying rocks and fireworks.
The Twitter posts have been taken down.
Later today Polda Metro Jaya spokesman Argo Yuwono said that there was a misunderstanding. The ambulance (or ambulances – it is not clear) were not, as the Police initially suspected, ferrying rocks and Fireworks to rioters.
There was a misunderstanding, he said. He went on to clarify that the rocks and Fireworks got into one of the ambulances because a rioter had been cornered by police and he sought to hide in the ambulance that happened to be nearby.
Ergo, it was a random act by a single rioter.
This raises several questions:
1. How did the rioter get into the ambulance int he first place?
2. Rocks, especially when packed in a a cardboard box (seed for Aqua bottled) must be heavy. He was so strong he could run to evade the police and jump into the ambulance?
3. Ambulances have drivers and attendants. Were they oblivious to a super-strong rioter loaded with rocks and fireworks jumping onto the back of their ambulance?
The mind boggles.
There was a time when Unspun would have reacted to events like last Thursday’s terrorist attack with, among other things, a hashtag, either to show defiance, sympathy or solidarity. Unspun had felt like he was doing something about the situation, taking action and being part of something larger than himself.
Lately, however, Unspun seems to have suffered a change of heart. From #JesuisCharlie on, Unspun has stopped participating in hashtags for terrorist-related attacks because, to him at least, it seems so futile and so self-deceptive.
The sense of futility is perhaps due to the fact that it is now so easy and commonplace for just about anyone to ride on a hashtag wave. (Note: This is how Unspun feels, others may feel differently about hashtags and that’s cool too).
The self-deception comes in because keyboard warriors can be so much defiant and brave than actual people. It gives rise to lazy thinking, as so eloquently articulated by Bonni Rambatan in his opinion piece in Rolling Stone Indonesia. One of his arguments is that by declaring that we are not afraid through the hashtag #Kitatidaktakut people hide a bravado that prevents them from taking the terrorists seriously, seriously enough to try to understand what drives them and from there increasing the chances to defeat them.
Declaring fearlessness in social media has the same effect as saying that the terrorist acts are senseless. They may be brutal and violent, but terrorist acts are usually anything but senseless.Thy are usually premeditated and well-planned and coordinated acts calculated for maximum publicity impact so that they may drive a spike of fear into the hearts of the people and the authorities. They are aimed to destabilise and to provoke authorities into reacting against them. When the authorities like George Bush and Francois Hollande rant and make threats that are unimplementable against them, they would have won.
High school shootings are senseless. People running amok may be senseless. But terrorist acts are not. The sooner we realise this, the sooner we would have a chance of defeating them.
So what is one to do if one has a Twitter or social media account the next time there is a terrorist attack? Unseen does not really know the answer. People may need to do something to help them cope with stress and humour an defiance are ways to do so. But they are for the edification of ourselves, not a weapon trained on the terrorists.
Perhaps the answer is that we should all try to understand what terrorists want by reading up on the subject (Louise Richardson’s aptly named What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Terrorist Threat is an excellent starter). She succinctly says that what they want are three Rs: Revenge, Reaction and Reknown. If she is right depriving them of these would hurt them most. That would be a good place to start. And something all of us who profess concern can do, so that they next time they attack anywhere in the world, we would be better prepared to deal with them. Who knows, some creative Netizen may even come up with something other than a hashtag to drive a stake into the heart of the terrorists?
A feeling of sadness always descends on me when I travel to the old, colonial part of Jakarta, Kota Tua. It was once the busiest part of Jakarta since it was close to the sea and port. Many old buildings stand there still. A few have been restored well, some have been mangled by modern bad taste.
The majority of buildings however, are left to rot, abandoned and neglected and suffer the indignity of being a dumpsite for rubble and rubbish.
In spite, or perhaps because of this neglect, the Kota Tua area has grown to be a hodgepodge of narrow streets, filthy drains and canals, small recently built houses, and homeless workers who sleep outside the buildings at nights or on holidays when the shops are closed.
A way of life has evolved there, with middle-class to poor Chinese Indonesians living cheek by jowl with the Betawi and other immigrants. This life recalls a Jakarta gone by, a simpler and less prosperous time when people made do, things get repaired or recycled rather than discarded.
It is also a time of simpler pleasures, such as a bicycle ride but now done with the menacing roar of traffic beside the cyclists.
It is a life of simple commerce where you’re likely to know the street vendor and shops catering to local tastes.
The Jakarta Government has talked about reviving Kota Tua and have even formed a Jakarta Old Town Revitalisation Corporation, but it seems to be more talk than action.Buildings lies neglected but life goes on as people, in their ingenuity, will find some means to make money to feed themselves and their families.
Unspun thinks that critics are unnecessarily unkind to Jakarta Governor and gubernatorial candidate Fauzi Bowo, aka The Foke.
The man is beleaguered by the problems of a huge megapolis that are not easy to solve but when confronted by a problem he wastes no time to rise to the occassion. Take, for instance, his resourcefulness when confronted by a massive traffic jam in Cilincing, Jakarta, some time ago (but revived in social media recently).
Lesser men like Menteri BUMN Dahlan Iskan would have thrown a tantrum and tried to get the traffic moving, or fumed impotently in his car. Not The Foke though. With lightning reflexes he solved the problem of the traffic jam, or at least the problem of him being stuck in the traffic jam, right away.
His solution: get his outriders to clear the way on the other side of the road. Stop oncoming traffic so he could get to where he wanted in quick time.
Of course, churlish critics may whine, that The Foke caused an even greater traffic jam, broke the law and showed a bad example to other motorists. But such are the considerations of lesser mortals, not the likes of someone as brilliant and resourceful of the incumbent mayor.
So right on Foke! Vote for Foke and witness the brilliance of his traffic-busting solutions! And yes, The Foke wins a shit-for-brains tag for his ingenuity as well.
(Thanks Harry for the Alert)
The video below that is well produced and catchy with a huge dose of humor is yet another reason why the incumbent Jakarta Mayor Fauzi Bowo is losing out big time in the popularity stakes to challenger Jokowi and his running mate Ahok.
Joakowi supporters and his camp are proving very adept at using social media to boost their popularity and to answer the allegations and slurs from the opposing camp in their Facebook account and the many support groups and pages surrounding them.
Is this the election that will change the way Indonesian politicians use social media? It all depends on whether the Jokowi-Ahok team can win at the gubernatorial runoff elections against the money and influence of the Golkar machine backing Foke.
If they do it may make the politicians sit up and realize that the old ways of politicking using traditional means of communications – such as billboards, newspaper ads, TV commercials – have had their day. It may also send the message that ad hominem attacks, smear campaigns and playing the bogeyman with race and religion are no longer effective.
It may or the politicians from the entrenched parties may be so pig headed that they persist in their ways. But a Jokowi-Ahok victory will point the way for others without the backing of huge money to follow.
Because his political party, The Democrats, are as unimaginative and uncreative in problem solving as him
Because under them the traffic jams in Jakarta would get worse since it is an inevitably
Because they have no vision and no determination to improve living conditions in Jakarta beyond their own greed
And they get surprised when Jokowi and Ah Hok beats the shit out of Fauzi in the first round gubernatorial elections? Which City Kool Aid fountin are they drinking from?
A senior member of the Democratic Party defending Jakarta’s incumbent governor Fauzi Bowo said on Thursday that traffic jams in JakartaJakarta’s Traffic Jams Are ‘Inevitable:’ Democratic Party Official are something that cannot not be prevented.
Herman Khaeron, chairman of the Democrat’s regional board and deputy head of House Commission IV, said traffic jams are simply a consequence of the growing number of people using the streets.
“I can compare this condition with the condition abroad,” Herman said. “Traffic jams in capital cities are an inevitably.”
Fauzi has been widely and regularly blamed for his inability to solve two of Jakarta’s most endemic problems: Flooding, and traffic. While Sutiyoso, Jakarta’s previous governor, created the TransJakarta busway to ease traffic, Fauzi has been characterized as failing to adequately tackle the problem.
Traffic jams, or macet, occur regularly at peak hours, but congestion seems to be choking the streets with increasing vigor, especial on Fridays and during rain.
Herman made sure to say that Fauzi, Jakarta’s first governor from the Democratic Party, has successfully managed the city.
Regarding flooding, Herman said Fauzi has reduced problems with the east flood-canal, which has saved 2.5 million people from the agony of seasonal floods. Herman also said the city government has “normalized” river flows that pass through Jakarta.
“What I have found instead is the fact that Fauzi, as Jakarta’s governor, has worked well for his people,” Herman said.
Yeah, if you expect a 484-year old to be stricken with arthritis, osteoporosis and other ills of old age. The fact is that Jakarta is quite dysfunctional and quite unnecessarily so many-a-time.
Take, for example, traffic. Sure there are more cars than there are roads but the cause of much congestion and traffic jams often have nothing to do with infrastructure. They have to do with enforcement, or lack of, in the following areas:
1. On street parking. The city government has lately begun experimenting to get motorists to park in proper parking areas instead of half the road in the Kota area. Why experiment with it, and only why one area? This should have been enforced long ago throughout the city. It is enforceable. It is not difficult and there is no excuse for doing so.
2. Motorists who disregard the law and pursue their selfish, piggish interests. These are the mini bus or angkot drivers who cut into everyone’s lane and stop in the middle of the road to let of passengers or to wait for passengers. These are also the motorists who do not pay attention to road etiquette nor traffic lights (and why is there no yellow boxes, where you are not supposed to be caught in when the traffic light changes color, at all at intersections in jakarta?). Traffic rules are enforceable and so far there is no valid excuse for not doing so.
3. Non-enforcement of zoning regulations. Of course you will have massive traffic jams when you have hypermarkets located in busy downtown locations when they are supposed to exist only in the suburbs, precisely for the reason that they would cause massive traffic jams because of the volume of customers they attract. And outlets without proper parking spaces only result in cars parked willy nilly on the roadside (see #1). Why can’t zoning laws be enforced?
4. Maintenance and adjustment of traffic lights, so that they ensure a smooth flow of traffic. There are many junctions in which the green light goes on for only 5 seconds before a wait of a couple of minutes. Why can’t the city get this simple thing right?
And the list goes on…simple things that, if done, will result in big changes. But it does not happen. Why? Could it be the lack of accountability of officials? Or is it that Jakartans are too half-arsed to put pressure on the authorities?
The Jakarta Post | Wed, 06/22/2011 3:04 PM A | A | A |
Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo says the face of Jakarta is not too bad considering that the city is celebrating its 484th anniversary.
At least 54 percent of Jakartans were satisfied with the city, according to a survey, which indicated that it was progressing in a positive direction, Fauzi said.
The remarks were made at an ceremony to celebrating Jakarta’s 484th anniversary, at the National Monument complex on Wednesday.
“It’s the city administration’s responsibility to work and focus on improving any weaknesses in Jakarta,” Fauzi said.
“I can only emphasize that I work as hard as I can for Jakartans.”
Traffic jams and flood are among problems Jakarta faces on a daily basis. The administration has highlighted its achievements such as the introduction of Car-Free Day and its efforts to increase green space.
Yes, it is indeed shameful if even half of what the blogger, Mike Foster, says is true. As someone who’s adopted Jakarta and Indonesia as my home I feel duty bound to defend Jakarta and Indonesia. As have a few Indonesians who have seen the Twitter message.
I tend to agree with @crivenica and @heradiani in their Tweets that the Mike Foster does come across as an uptight tourist. Indonesia, after all, is a Third World country, only that the phrase has become unfashionable, being substituted by the more politically correct “Emerging Country” label. Foster comes across as uptight because in a city of more than 14 million people all he could see was the frightening and negative aspects of the city. He was unable for some reason, to peer beyond the negatives to see something, anything positive. perhaps his friend Andy is a really crummy tourist guide but one suspects that Foster is one who would rather whine than accept the fact that he is in a Third World country, accept the filth, contradictions, traffic congestion and contrasts as facts of life and get over it to enjoy his stay here.
Foster also makes the terrible mistake of equating Jakarta with Indonesia, which is unfortunate. Indonesia is so much, much more and different than Jakarta and if he were to go to Flores or a dozen other choice sites in Indonesia he would know what heartwrenching beauty Indonesia has in store for those who venture beyond the Big Durian.
Having said that, however, a lot of Foster’s complaints about Jakarta is legit. Us old Jakarta hands realize that Foster’s complaints are only some of the myriad aspects of the city that makes Jakarta Jakarta. Bu to a fresh pair of eyes, especially if they aren’t the adventurous types (and how many tourists are really adventurous?) Jakarta can come across as dirty, chaotic, unsafe and congested.
If Jakarta wants to attract the tourists, both to the city and to Indonesia, the authorities will have to acknowledge that the traffic, cleanliness and safety (or at least the perception of safety from a tourist’s viewpoint) are problems that need to be addressed. Like many other Twitterers, Unspun was inclined to use the argument of “but other countries are worse than Jakarta” but its a temptation best not given to as it i a false argument. So what if other countries are dirtier and worse off than us, we do not have control over what they do or do not do. We have control over, how our countries (adopted or native) functions and that’s what we should take responsibility for and try to change.
I just visited Indonesia some time ago, to visit my friend from the university. He’s an Indonesian, so during my vacation I decided to go to Indonesia for a vacation and visit him.
I must say that Indonesia is not a country worth visiting … sorry about this, Andy if you read my posting. For starter, Jakarta is very dirty, you’ll see trash and litter everywhere you go. I just can’t imagine a capital city with this poor level of cleanliness. I was fortunate to have Andy my friend to show me around Jakarta, in which rarely tourists are shown to. Areas that you may see quite clean and sophisticated are only in the downtown area. I only remembered the streets named Sudirman, Thamrin and Kuningan that are quite representative for a capital city. Any other areas you go, you’ll feel like that you’re in some third-world country with poor people and trash everywhere (I think Indonesia is still considered a third-world?)
I was lucky I have a friend in Jakarta, otherwise I wouldn’t dare goind around in public transportation. I was told to be careful when selecting cabs. I remembered there is only one company considered safe, called Blue Bird or something, with their cars painted in blue. I was told not to take just any cab since it wouldn’t be safe. I was told there are so many crimes occured involving taxi drivers. I certainly didn’t want to take the public busses. Wait until you see them yourselves, and I bet you wouldn’t want to ride in one either. The busses are so dirty, so packed with people and the vehicles themselves look as if they’re very poorly taken care of. I couldn’t even find a decent information of which bus should I take if I would want to go somewhere, and what is the fare. Those busses have someone (or sometimes two) called “conductor” hanging around in the door, collecting money from passengers. I was terrified to see them hanging like that in the door while the bus were driving quite fast. Well, yes they have now a network of public busses called TransJakarta if I’m not mistaken, but the network was not vast enough to cover the whole city.
Not to mention the streets from hell. The traffic in Jakarta beats the hell out of any traffic I’ve ever seen in the world.
Traffic jams everywhere. People driving with only one or two inches away from each other. The worse of all is the motorcycles. I even said to my friend that they are like motorcycles from hell. They squeezed their way to very small gaps between cars, sometimes even hit our rearview mirrors. They constantly cut your way, so my friend always to be extra careful with them and sometime he even had to hit the brake brutely to avoid collisions. What an experience … I must say. I sometimes jumped from my seat when suddenly a motorcycle speeding through our side of the cars with just few inches away, in a traffic jam, with their loud noises …. a hell indeed. Andy even told me that be very careful not to hit a motorcycle, since even that you’re not the one causing the collision, the car driver would be the one blamed and they could go rough on you asking for money. I said “what the hell …. what kind of people are they … we’re not living in the dark ages are we?” … and Andy could just shrugged with bitter smile.
Another important thing … be careful of the food. I got stomachache for 3 days because Andy took me to this food stall that he said very delicious. Well the food was alright … but I got diarrhea the next day. Well, if you go to this food stall, you wouldn’t be surprised why I got the diarrhea. It was a very small food stall, on a pedestrian. Just next to the pedestrian was this open sewer, and guess what … people threw away trash into that sewer. Not to mention flies everywhere and I could have sworn a saw a cockroach running around. My advice is to stick to the food from restaurants, clean restaurants. It’s a bit expensive, but at least your stomach would be safe.
I’ll continue with my experience in Indonesia …. more surprises coming from this unbelievable country … which I don’t intend to visit again, at least not in several years until they could improve to be a more civilized country.
Ever since young Unspun has loved cycling. What’s great about being on a bicycle is that sense of freedom, with the wind blowing past you. On one level you could take it easy, paddle along and watch people and buildings go by. On another level you could push yourself, feel the burn in the lungs and muscles that affirms how much alive we all are.
Then there are the joys of off road riding where you challenge yourself and your mind over seemingly difficult terrain and impossible obstacles, with great vistas of paddy fields or scenery in between rough patches.
One of the few pleasures of a biker, if you do not feel like driving all the way out of the city to BSD, Cibubur, Sentul or beyond, is Jalan Sudirman-Thamrin on early Sunday mornings. The police close the road to cars then and you can ride your bike, jog, run, rollerblade or stroll all the way from the Pizzaman up to Monas.
Over the past few years it has been fun. You could, if you chose, ride at a good clip to get some exercise and feel the wind rushing against your face or, if you like, ride slowly and see the parade of Jakartans taking advantage of some rare recreation space. There are families, kids trying to ride, enthusiasts wearing period costumes on their onthels, other enthusiasts who have pimped out their bikes and the over-dressed, over equipped amateur out more to impress with their looks and equipment than riding skills.
Which is all fine when there is enough space for everyone.
This morning, Unspun dusted off his beloved Santa Cruz Superlight and thought he’d go for a light spin up and down Sudirman-Thamrin to start the day off with. A quick and brisk ride, shower and ready to face the ay. What could be better?
So he hit the road at 7am and then reality bit.
Sudirman-Thamrin has become so packed with riders that it takes the fun out of riding. Instead of easy relaxed riding you had to have the attention of a mountain biker negotiating an obstacle course. There were riders of all levels there. Some knew what they were doing and rode predictably. Others were erratic. Then there were the children who did not know better and their parents not knowing better than to teach them some road sense.
Riding up Sudirman was all about dodging these users, not easy because there were so many of them. Then, when you got near the Hotel Indonesia roundabout, total madness prevailed.
@Rahadianagung Tweeted than that place was like a kampung with tents and stalls almost every 10 meters. He was right. Today’s congestion was worse because UOB had a massive event which looked like a run but was actually a lot of employees and whoever they could trawl wearing their T-shirts and walking up and down the street.
(And here you wonder if the spending by UOB is justified. At the end of the day there will be some photos, perhaps four or five newspaper coverage, some TV coverage if they are really friendly with a TV station or two, and lots of self congratulation within the bank – but what would they have achieved with this expensive event at the end of the day? What would have changed? Would they have set the platform for more customer acquisition? Or would all they have achieved is a one-week feel good exercise with no lasting effect? Oops. sorry. ranting here)
The area was choc-a-bloc with participants, the public, passers-y, and cyclists, some taken in by the diversions, others annoyed because they can hardly go two meters without stopping.
Unspun was so incensed by all this that he turned back just after Bunderan HI and headed home, grumbling all the way because of a good ride spoiled.
In his sour mood he wondered why is it that so very often something good in Indonesia has to degenerate into a kampungan free-for-all characterized by chaos, overcrowding and ambience-destroying activities (always accompanied by loud sound systems).
Sudirman-Thamrin has been a welcome oasis for Jakartans who want a little recreational space on Sundays. It was a heaven for the recreational biker who could get a relaxing good ride. It is now your kampung Sunday market. Why can’t the authorities move all the tents and activities to parks like the one in Monas, Senayan or even Suropati so that there is space for everyone to do their own thing? The minglers can go there to see shows and other stuff, while the cyclists, runners, joggers, walkers and rollerbladers can have a freer run of the stretch of road that is Sudirman-Thamrin?
Unspun noticed that bicycle manufacturers and retailer such as Polycon, United and Rodalink were out in force, pitching their tents near Bundaren HI to hawk their wares and adding to the congestion. Perhaps they might want to consider exerting some corporate social leadership and suggest such an arrangement to the authorities. They would also do well to help educate cyclists, particularly the small children, about good road sense and riding practices. The way the parents are letting their children ride now is an accident waiting to happen.
What do other riders and bike enthusiasts think?
Took a friend for some photo hunting in Glodok yesterday before she leaves Indonesia. These are some of the images Unspun bagged with his new toy, a Canon 50D.