The mystery behind the police apology

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.

Time to move on from #kitatidaktakut and other hashtags?

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?

 

 

 

 

 

The sad old town of Jakarta

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.

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This row of houses along Jalan Tiang Bendera III are one of the very few privately restored buildings I saw. I imagine that if in Penang, Malacca, Hoi An or other historical cities they would have been restored and turned into shops, cafes or restaurants

The majority of buildings however, are left to rot, abandoned and neglected and suffer the indignity of being a dumpsite for rubble and rubbish.

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DSCF0306 This building along Jalan Pasar Pagi Kecil I (above) is now used as a backdrop for carts and other personal effects. Below- this building along Jalan Malaka is now the backdrop for recyclable 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.

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The underclass sleep along the wide corridors of the old buildings

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.

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Bicycle repairman. Many of the Kota Tua residents still rely on the bicycle to get them around
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A worker, watched by presumably his boss, recycles old bones of staples, probably to sell off as scrap metal

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.

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If not for the modern bicycle and the cars, this scene of a father taking his son out on a bicycle would have been played out in the last hundred years in old Jakarta.

It is a life of simple commerce where you’re likely to know the street vendor and shops catering to local tastes.

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Fruit vendor, Jalan Melaka II
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Turtle or Pi Oh is a delicacy in the Kota Tua area. A shop near the Glodok market sells them and cuts them up for their customers. The shells of the turtles are flung onto the roof to dry once they’ve done their grisly work.

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.

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Talk is cheap about revitalisation and restoration but the truth is that many magnificent buildings in Kota Tua are left to rot

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Facets of life in Kota Tua. 1. many buildings are left to rot in spite of talk about revitalisation and restoration 2. A potential buyer checks out semi-precious stones along a Glodok sidewalk 3. Who’s the monster? Mural in Glodok 4. Some eke out a living as sidewalk artists in Kota Tua

So another year goes buy. The buildings rot even more. Some are knocked down, others catch fire. Slowly, what was once the heart of Jakarta gets buried ever deeper into the mists of time. DSCF0330

How the Foke solves traffic problems

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)

Why Fauzi is being Foked on social media by the Jokowi crowd

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.

Therefore vote Fauzi Bowo

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?

Jakarta’s Traffic Jams Are ‘Inevitable:’ Democratic Party Official

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.

Jakarta at 484 – alright if you have escorts through the traffic

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?

Jakarta looks alright for 484-year-old, says Fauzi 

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.

via Jakarta looks alright for 484-year-old, says Fauzi | The Jakarta Post.