30 March 2008

Lucky Bastard!

Before you all get offended at the title of this post have a squizz at the picture and then tell me that any 20-year old that gets outta this scrape with a shoulder injury is not a lucky bastard!

It is true that a picture tells a thousand words! Have a look at the world of hurt this kid could of been in if rescue workers and a tow truck driver did not arrive on the scene quickly enough. Apparently, there is a further 20 metre plunge into a river...

23 March 2008

The Last Supper

The inspiration for this particular post is several fold. I have written recently on Tempo's decision to publish a satirical rendition of Soeharto and his family in a pose resembling that of the "Last Supper" (not in the above collection) based on a painting by Da Vinci (the first of the pictures above). For this little indiscretion Tempo apologized.
The second inspiration that brought this back into my mind was a posting on Carl Parkes' blog, FriskoDude, which had re-posted some of the pictures above from another blog by Jeremy Barker, Popped Culture. I would recommend both blogs to you, my loyal readers. Both are excellent in my mind and well worth a read.
The final inspiration is that it seems like an opportune time with it being Easter and all!
The point of this post is that a sense of humour is a wonderful thing and the ability to laugh at ourselves is useful outlet for us to come to terms with the idea that not everything in life has to always be serious!
I am sure that the depictions are likely to offend some. But my original point in my posts before is that the original by Da Vinci is the artists interpretation of how he figured the Last Supper must have gone down.
There has been endless debate about the imagery and the meaning of the painting, but when it is all said and done it is a piece of art. The other renditions of the Last Supper making use of pop culture highlight that if nothing else Da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper lends itself to myriad of interpretations.

Kupang - On the Beach

The above photos come from my personal collection and were taken in 2005 whilst working in Kupang for a week or so...
I figure that if I post some pictures then perhaps others can see through my eyes some of the many ways that I see the various parts of Indonesia...

Unspinning the Spin

The WTF factor has again come to my attention and despite assertions on a number of blogs where I suggested I was going to avoid entering the fray again on this particular topic, I lied! What is going on at Unspun's blog is ludicrous and the man deserves to be called for the overt racial and gender baiting that he is resorting to as well as the petty name calling, like dumbass!

What follows is not a clip mark but an unadulterated cut and paste of the comments made and Unspun's response (in pink)! You be the judge!

on March 21, 2008 at 5:42 pm2 Rob


I am a great believer in free speech and Anita and your good self can write and post whatever you feel you need to in order to make your point. You selectively cut and pasted the Baliblog comments and Anita has followed your lead in this respect with the way she cut and pasted my comments.

Doing this might make a point for you but it loses the necessary context of the whole…but once again your blog your right to post what you want…but in the interests of truth you should correct your error with regard to who has said what. I am happy to take any flak for my comments on this topic and would hope that those comments be directed at me personally and not at my wife or family.

Like power, with free speech comes responsibility…

The term whore was one I used and in fact the actual word is pelacur as it was uttered by an Indonesian in Indonesian. If you go back and read the posts you will see that Oigal has a point, it is not his term!

To suggest that in some way myself or Oigal are anti-Indonesian or label all Indonesians with the same brush is not only unfair it is wrong. In my own defence I don’t think that I said in any of my posts that it was a majority of Indonesians or even that the majority of bules in Indonesia have experienced what I have experienced personally to suggest otherwise is a distortion of what was posted…

I will still be reading your blog as I will still be reading Anita’s…I am a committed life long learner and despite the fact that I disagree with some of the things that you both write it does not mean that I cannot agree with you on other things…As I said I learn something new every day from reading different perspectives on how others view their life experiences…In the big scheme of things that is how we all should live life and reasoned debate about differences and similarities will contribute to the breaking down of stereotypes and bigotory across the board.


PS. If Akismet captures this as spam…I hope that you release it for publication…

on March 22, 2008 at 10:28 pm3 simon


Making a statement about “bitter white men disappointed with life in Indonesia (and who have nowhere else to go)” sounds rather vitriolic. Which “bitter white men” are you refering to exactly? Please clarify this.

When you claim that these Indonesian “women are seen with bule (Caucasian) men, and therefore are labeled as whores.”; you are are refering to; specifically the wives of two men (Rob and Oigal). Don’t you think that this is rather too personal and offensive; calling their wives “whores” on your blog?

You now want to know “If you have a Caucasian partner, did you specifically target the race as your potential other-half? Why?” Could it be because they fell in love? Honestly; this is some really awful stuff here.

on March 22, 2008 at 10:54 pm4 unspun

@Simon: The bitter white men - if I name them I would be making things personal, which I have tried to avoid so far.

On the “whore” reference. It was from Anita’s blog. I clipped it but didn’t say it, so wrong attribution there.

And if any dumbass is going to live up to their name by calling the clip selective, they’s better understand how Clipmarks works. Of course it is selective if you can only clip a maximum of 1,000 words

Agree tho that things are getting a tad nasty. is this because we’re hearing for the first time from the other side - articulate Indonesian women who’re smarter and more in-your-face than your average bar pickup or the subservient trophy girlfriend?

These are some of the points I made in response to Unspun's little rant. But as is the normal way my comments are not always posted automatically because they get captured by a spam filter. I am no techno whiz but with a little effort I can set my spam filters to let certain addresses to pass the filter, but that is just me!

My points are these:

Obviously the "dumbass" reference is directed at me this is not rocket science. My comments refer to selective clipping (actually cut and paste) of posts from blogs to highlight a point or support an argument but where the clip is done in such a way as to alter the context in which it was originally written. This is dishonest! The simple way to get around this would be to write under the clipmark that the quoted part is part of a longer post that discusses issue "X". Alas this is not Unspun's style!

Yet Unspun starts his response with the holier than thou idea that he is trying to avoid the nastiness and stay above the fray as an objective observer. He then hides behind Anita's skirt like a little boy saying the reference is not something he uttered but something he clipped from Anita's post, how noble!

The term 'whore' entered the argument way before Anita's post and because I used it in a reference to some personal abuse that my wife and I had experienced, my mistake for relaying a personal experience and not referring to the more general experiences. I learn from my mistakes! To suggest that the term ws clipped from Anita's blog and that is where it originated is plain wrong and a distortion of the truth. Simply, the term appeared on Unspun's blog first because it was posted in response to a clipping he had made from someone else's blog (Baliblog).

But the icing on the cake here is the belittlement of women when his blog and comments are supposedly in support of women with this beautiful little quote:

"... is this because we’re hearing for the first time from the other side - articulate Indonesian women who’re smarter and more in-your-face than your average bar pickup or the subservient trophy girlfriend?"

For me this is a tad sad! First it presupposes that bar pick-ups and trophy girlfriends are stupid and inarticulate! I would guess there might be a few women out there that might be a little concerned with such a charcterization. I am sure it would offend my mother and I am equally as sure that she would give a dressing down to any clown that offered such foolish remarks about women, any women! But I guess in Unspun's defence he does modify the bar girl / trophy wife analogy with "average", whatever average is!

I, personally, am not afraid of hearing or debating the other side of any argument. On the contrary, I live for it! The fact that it is made by articulate and smart women is not an issue. I readily except that there are plenty of women out there in the world who are smarter than I can ever dream of being.

There are others though that might be potentially smarter than me who have never had the opportunities that I have had in terms of education. And, therefore, have been forced in to making ends meet in ways that had they had access to other opportunities like education they might not been forced into the choices they have had to make now to support their families.

It is my sincere hope that Indonesian women write about the posts that Unspun is producing to exploit the position of some women in society. The analogy of bar women and trophy wives as inarticulate and stupid shows a complete lack of understanding of the problems but as usual simply engages in the perpetuation of another stereotype, as a man I find this characterization offensive but I will let women and Indonsian women in particular respond on this!

If they are not offended then so be it. If Unspun then feels vindicated that this reflects a bitter and twisted white man commenting outside of his realm of expertise, then so be it. It is a question of principle and I am willing to stand by those principles and argue for them.

I do not know Unspun personally and therefore cannot judge him on anything but his writings. He seems to want to label me and all of my "bule" friends as twisted and bitter what fellas with no where else to go. Indonesians should find that characterization offensive as well as it suggests that when you are a clapped out white fella with nowhere else to go you come to Indonesia.

My loyal readers, you be the judge as to whose comments elicit responses of twisted and bitter. But back to my point, the postings of Unspun are manipulative, deceptive, prejudiced, and quite often racist in their exploitation of racial stereotypes. Once again my loyal readers you be the judge.

This post is not intended to be personal in spite of the fact that it refers to one particular individual. Rather it is a critique of what has been posted and the manipulation of a particular debate surrounding a particular set of stereotypes that have been milked by this individual. It is also not nasty, not even a tad!

To Anita (excellent blog) and Marisa (also excellent blog) and all you other female Indonesian bloggers out there (too many to name)! Keep doing your thing! I enjoy reading your blogs and hope that we can enter into constructive debate where there is a topic that affords itself to such debate. But keep posting the "day in a life" type posts as well as it is interesting to read what people's life experiences are. Hopefully, from these experiences and these interactions we can break done the stereotypes and the bigotory that gets under our skin and gets the blood boiling!

22 March 2008

A Thought for Saturday

Though the sword of justice is sharp, it will not slay the innocent.

-- Chinese Proverb

Indonesia and Russian Tourists

Indonesia is on the final day of a three-day road show in Moscow at the Moscow International Tourism and Travel (MITT) fair. The idea is simply to promote the culture and value of Indonesia as a travel destination for Russians. Russian estimations suggest that there are some 40 million Russians that travel each year.

In 2007 the number of Russian tourists entering Indonesia was a touch under 47,000 after having peaked at just over 47,210 in 2006. You can do the math on that as a percentage of the 40 million or more Russians that are traveling each year but it is not a big number.

The answer to raising the numbers of Russian tourists who choose Indonesia as their travel destination of choice is direct flights between Russia and Indonesia. Currently, Russians and Indonesians traveling between the two countries must transit in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, or Amsterdam. Apparently, the 'having to transit' issue is one cited as being a deterrent to travel. If this is indeed an accurate reflection of the majority of Russians, then a direct flight makes sense in both the common sense and money sense ways!

Let's see what happens! A direct route might inspire me and the missus to fork out some hard earned cash but probably not during the winter! The direct flight would be about 18 hours if any one wants to know!
The photo is from my personal collection and was taken at Borobudur Temple in February 2008...still learning in the photography department (it is one of my better ones so far though)...

Indonesia - The Good Stuff

Recent to and fro on the blog circuit has highlighted something to me that I had not necessarily paid particular attention to in the big scheme of things; positive imagery of the peoples and cultures of Indonesia. Those blogs are out there usually written by people with an interest in bringing particular parts of the Indonesian experience to us through their travels, living conditions, or just simply because they are there and they can!

My blog was from the outset more a commentary type of affair with a particular focus on law and politics, but with elements of personal experience and interaction with Indonesian culture, Australian culture, and anything else that took my fancy at any point in time.

Some requests have included more positive imagery of Indonesian and your Indonesian experience, more photos, less writing, less legalese, and more other stuff! I will try and be a little bit more responsive and slowly but surely incorporate as much and as many of those requests as I can.

I propose to do this over many blog entries. I will keep posting the posts in a similar vein to those that I have posted so far. But I will endeavour to ensure that I post much more content and that additional content will focus on positive reflections on my experiences in Indonesia.

This photo is of Kupang (West Timor) and is from my personal collection.


21 March 2008

Blogging Ethics...

I wonder what blogging ethics are? What constitutes intellectual honesty and integrity?

I am a man of principle and call things as I see them and admit my mistakes when I get it wrong but it does not seem that everyone who blogs is like me, which is probably a good thing as the statistics indicate that I am not a popular read. So, perhaps I should abandon my principles and go for the popularity judged by visits or comments or something or whatever it is that determines what blogs are popular and what are not.

Yet, I am not going to do that. I am not going to abandon my principles and if people read me good, if they don't so be it! My blog is as much for myself as it is for anyone else. It is my stress value to vent and rant when I want to and to inform of happenings in and around me, but that's it! You get what you get!

It seems that comments I have made and some comments of my blog colleagues, some I know personally and some I know only as blogging kindred spirits, have touched a raw nerve and elicited a number of personal attacks that were not there and selective interpretations of what was.

As I said, I am a man of principle. I stand by and will defend the opinions that I hold through rational argument and debate. But when that argument and debate degenerates into personal attacks and plain distortion of the arguments made to paint the comments out of their original context. This is a standard journalistic and writing trick to deflect scrutiny of any response.

You will see that it is possible to be duped by the media. This blog contains one such example of this in relation to a post I made about Schapelle Corby. My error was corrected after one of my readers alerted me to the distortion that I had inadvertently continued to perpetrate. It would be refreshing if some others were quite as upfront and forthright in correcting the distortions that they allow to be perpetrated through their blogs when notified of the distortion...Ahhh to be so lucky.

This is not a whinge, although I am sure somewhere out there can suitably distort it into something else that resembles a whinge, but once again it is a reflection of my own personal experiences and my own personal opinions. If it offends then perhaps those that it offends should take a breath and consider why they are offended.

I am a nice bloke...read my posts and comments on other blogs. When I offend I apologise for the offence and correct a misrepresentation or mistake if one is made.

These recent experiences have not turned me off blogging but rather reinforced my belief that this is a perfect forum for open discussion and debate...so I am here for the long haul...get used to it, whether you like it or not!

Have a good weekend!

Stereotyping and Personal Attacks in the Blogosphere

It seems that a couple of comments I posted to other blogs and the subsequent comments of others to those comments has opened the proverbial Pandora's Box across the emotional spectrum.

Unspun and Finally Woken have taken particular offence to those posts. The original post came from Baliblog and alluded to a particular stereotype of Indonesian women and their eating habits. All fairly innocuous really. But after some selective and cutting and pasting a much more divisive and perhaps offensive version appeared on Unspun's blog. This obviously attracted a good number of passionate responses, mine included.

I noted that my wife and I had endured abuse and that my wife had been labeled a pelacur (whore) and some ignorant bastard even suggested that she was a traitor to her community...It was one of those WTF moments for me. Now, all of my comment posts have indicated this is a minority of people and not representative of the whole. But for some that means I am personally attacking and labeling all Indonesians with the same brush. Not likely!

It seems that because my posts referred to Indonesians that by some default this means that I don't believe that some white folk would not do equally offensive similar things and make equally similar offensive comments. But to the contrary I often refer to one bad apple spoiling the bunch. And as Anita points out in her blog, Finally Woken, and comments she has posted to other blogs that she has endured equally offensive treatment and comments from white men. She then goes on to say that a jerk is a jerk, I agree whole heartedly with this position and view!

I did not and have never suggested that all Indonesian men are jerks nor have I suggested that all white men are saints but the power of selective cutting and pasting might suggest otherwise. What I have said is that ignoring stereotypes and sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring them will not see them disappear. Sometimes confronting the ugly stereotypes head on leads to personal attacks and distortions of the truth to save face.

I would hope that personal attacks against me for the opinions that I hold or the blogs that I write are directed to and at me and not to my wife or family. This is a fair request!

As Martin Luther King said "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."

I responded to the post of others with the above quote in mind and also the quotes that follow:

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Also by MLK


"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?" A quote attributed to George Bernard Shaw and Robert F. Kennedy.

Perhaps I am a tragic optimist but I believe that the world can be a better place and I strive to make it so...

A Thought for Friday

Fear of serious injury alone cannot justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burned women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.

-- Louis D. Brandeis (1856 - 1941)
Supreme Court Justice of the United States
(from Whitney v. California)

Adoption in Indonesia

I have been in Indonesia a long time now, so I have seen a lot of issues come and go over my time here and adoption is one of those. But it is an issue that has taken on a new zest since Indonesia has taken an active interests in balancing out the interests of children in the big scheme of Indonesian life -- rights and obligations under treaty law such as the rights of the child, an amended citizenship law, and a few other legislative developments.

I have been married for 5 years or so, or so being the relevant time marker, but the missus and I still have not had the good fortune of being blessed with child. Nah, before all of my loyal readers start considering sending detailed descriptions or photographs of the "how to get pregnant" kind -- thanks, but we do not need them!

But back to the point of the post! Having considered adoption and considering it now, I read with interest this latest piece on adoption (in Indonesia -- sorry my non-Indonesian reading friends) which talks about Indonesian agencies taking a much more hands on supervisory role in the post adoption period.

The relevant parts for me relate to the idea that where a foreigner is involved in the adoption of an Indonesian child then that foreign parent is required to report regularly on the condition of the adopted child. Nah, if the adopted child is in a foreign land then this reporting is to be done to an Indonesian Embassy or Consulate. It is not that the process is onerous but it is discriminatory. If the Indonesian government is really interested in the welfare of kids and the next generation of Indonesians then the rules need to apply to all Indonesian parents of all children irrespective of whether the child is adopted or biological.

There are more pressing issues that have a more direct impact on the welfare of children such as providing the necessary facilities and support to working parents like child care subsidies, improving the access to and quality of education by recruiting and rewarding quality educators, and allocating enough of the State budget to education. Yet, it seems that the approach is why sweat the big stuff when you can sweat the little stuff.

The article also includes an example about a foreigner adopting three children from differing ethnic Indonesian backgrounds. I am guessing something along the lines of a Papuan child, a Batak child, and a Javanese child. The concern seems to be why would someone want to go to that kind of trouble unless they had some ulterior motive. So much for the Indonesian philosophy of unity in diversity! The answer might be as simple as because I can and I can give each of these unwanted children a better future than what they may have had in the orphanage.

I do not think it was a dig at the family of Angeline Jolie (and Brad Pitt) which is taking on the look of the United Nations. The chances are that these kids will be better adjusted and more tolerant of difference than others -- then again maybe not. But the point is that it does not seem, at least on the face of it, that these particular kids will want for anything, including the love of their parents.

When it is all said and done my point here is a simple one and that is that the Indonesian government does not need to single out adopted children for special treatment and reporting conditions but rather on the contrary the Indonesian government needs to focus on children in general to ensure that its children and its youth are not dying from malnutrition and starvation and other preventable diseases. If and when that is under control then feel free to go for it and target adopted children with special reporting conditions.

18 March 2008

Comments from Another Blog - Unspun

My apologies to Unspun...but for some reason his blog would not let me publish a lengthy comment. So, I have cut and pasted the whole thing from his blog, which can be found at http://theunspunblog.com/2008/03/13/and-what-do-javanese-girls-think/. I have inserted the comment that I could not post at the very bottom...I can do these things in my blog, right?

And what do Javanese girls think?

March 13, 2008 by unspun

Here’s advice for travelers and tourists about dating Javanese girls. Unspun wonders what the Javanese girls themselves have to say about such wisdom about them?

clipped from www.baliblog.com

Regardless of what any Javanese girl says about food, she prefers rice with everything. Do not waste time taking her to Bali Bakery for breakfast, wait until 10am-11am and go over to Warung Batavia on Jl. Raya Kerobokan, she will love it. Warung Batavia serves distinctly Javanese food and you will get no complaints. Javanese girls often catch a lot of flack from Balinese locals who attach a label to them of being bed-warmers for bules. A girl who works in a regular job may feel uncomfortable accompanying you in an environment where there are a lot of Balinese locals, especially men.If you date a Javanese girl and she starts waving to other customers in the restaurant / bar, that is a heads-up that she has been around. You may not want to pursue that situation too long. Do not offer to buy drinks for a new friend and all her companions. Latching onto a friendly tourist is a sport out here.

Posted in 1 21 Comments
21 Responses to “And what do Javanese girls think?”

on March 13, 2008 at 9:27 pm1 bob
‘Javanese girls’? An island with one of the richest cultures on the planet shudders at the offensive generalization.
Unspun, you’re debasing your excellent blog with this kind of trash. Like your occasional ‘pembantus are common’ stuff, this just reflects the usual racist nonsense of people who think Indonesian women are a type. We know what the blogger you’re quoting here is talking about, but does it need to be repeated in a more civilized forum such as yours?
If these foreigners can’t see beyond these stereotypes then let them stew in their own post-colonial swill, but I know you don’t think like that so don’t pander to them. Please.

on March 13, 2008 at 10:05 pm2 andiesummerkiss
That is quite unfair stereotyping. I hope some Javanese girl can come up with something good and smart to say back to baliblog.com. He needs to keep his “tips” for himself.
It is not only a rude insult to a rich ethnic group, also horrible offence to Indonesian women in general.
Bob is right, that is just pure trash-blogging. In his part, of course.

on March 14, 2008 at 12:15 am3 unspun
@Bob: Chill man. Why are you trying so hard to display the ingenuousness and naivety of a an American liberal? Has it occured to you that Unspun finds such postings repugnant and needs to be unspun, but unlike you who presume to speak for the javanese (”An island with one of the richest cultures on the planet shudders at the offensive generalization”), Unspun feel unworthy of such pretensions.
Perhaps that is why Unspun is inviting the Javanese women to speak up for themselves.
@Andie: I hope some smart Javanese woman, and there are so many of them out there, would too. So any Javanese girls out there who want to put these guys right?

on March 14, 2008 at 2:58 am4 Marisa
Funny how a travel blog can provide dating tips as well.
From the author’s About page.
Living in Bali means a ceremony can be taking place outside my house, a beautiful girl will lay offerings outside my door each day, and stop to say a prayer, people enjoy greeting others with a smile and have time to talk.
A beautiful girl will lay offerings outside my door each day. Really!? Last time I went to Bali, the offerings laid outside my door is from a dog.Love the island, nonetheless.
And just as andie said, Javanese women, have your say!

on March 14, 2008 at 5:26 am5 Rob
You know that I live for these postings. I have to disagree with Bob on this one. This is not beneath you or the blog! Besides it is not your opinion but the relaying of a stereotype and it is the stereotype that is offensive and not the posting of it.
The biggest problem that us leftist leaning loony liberals have is burying our heads in the sand. The way to break a stereotype down is to expose it for what it is and not pretend it does not exist.
But reverse this one and see what happens. When a Javanese girl walks into a mall, a restaurant, a bar, or a nightclub and all the girls start waving to him or come up offering to massage his obviously tired shoulders after a hard week, you know the bloke has been around! So, he probably is not worth spending any time with as you undoubtedly will become just another notch on his belt and a drunken story he shares with his mates, assuming he even remembers that he spent the night with you on the morning after!
Besides, male tourists in Bali consider latching onto Javanese women in all manner of places a bit of sport and a good way to waste a couple of lonely hours (ouch, an equally harsh stereotype).
Yep, generalizations whatever way they come are offensive but pretending they do not exist is not the way to go!
Unspun, as always, a thought provoking post…

on March 14, 2008 at 12:34 pm6 ambar
well well well unspun, you’ve surprised me that put this ’stereotype’ clipping on your blog. As a javanese girl I felt offended with baliblog remark, even probably some of his view might correct (his wife from east java, doesn’t she?).
I think his view might be correct in Indonesia’s setting. Being a bule means you will get more local girls than ever. Baliblog seriously thinking that he was benefit from that position. Hm typical mindset of westerners living in developing country. Good point though!

on March 14, 2008 at 1:41 pm7 pj_bali
“being a bule means means you will have more girls than ever”
“typical mindset of westerners living in developing country”
thats kind of a stereotype too isn’t it?
I asked my (javanese) neighbor what she thought of the posting and she just laughed. I do seem to remember her coming home one night quite distressed about some remarks made behind her back while having dinner with her expat boyfriend (now husband). It may be fair to say that some elements of Baliblogs posting are true some of the time. I am only guessing here but maybe these kinds of stereotypes are the result of experiences real or shared. I mean if you had a bad experience with a certain type taxi say 3-4 times wouldn’t you tend to avoid that type of taxi.
BTW there is a Warung Batavia on Jl Kunti ( just off the road which has a much better ambience than the one on Raya Kerobokan.

on March 14, 2008 at 2:47 pm8 Unspun
@pj: perhaps baliblog’s observations would be acceptable if he headlined it ”Dating a Cheap Javanese Girl?” As opposed to a Javanese with more class, of course.
on March 15, 2008 at 8:04 am
9 Bonar
Now you make bules wondering whether they get “cheap javanese girls” or the “not so-cheap” ones. Some may get offended that you call their wives cheap.
on March 15, 2008 at 9:33 am
10 unspun
@Bonar: well, as they say, water finds its own level. Some bules will go for cheap, easy Javanese girls becoase they themselves are cheap. Others with more finese would go for classy ones. Works for everyone, not just the Bule-Java combination. Those who take offense can ponder on the saying: siapa yang makan cabe dialah yang rasain pedas nya (I hope I got it right)

on March 15, 2008 at 11:23 pm11 Rob
On the saying front:
“belum makan nasi, belum makan!”
I would have thought that taking your acquaintance to the warung would have made sense, particularly if you are a cheap bastard! Simply, if you take her to Bali Bakery for breakfast and she eats there, then you will have to treat her a second breakfast where she can eat rice because after all “having not eaten rice is the same as having not eaten at all!”

on March 17, 2008 at 9:35 am12 Oigal
So what are the Indonesian men getting so upset about ? It’s exactly the way a significant portion of men (Majority?) treat women in Indonesia.
The snide comments, winks and whispers.
I was out yesterday with my wife (Indonesian) and we had the misfortune to be at place where a herd of government types turned up in their shiny new cars and arrogant tax payer funded glory. Sure enough, it was only a matter of time before one of the little pr*cks made a snide remark about my wife (and mother of three children) in bahasa to the laugher of his mates.
He made two mistakes, one …I speak bahasa, two.. my wife nor I am are short of words or courage when it cames to dealing with anjing. Was an ugly scene tho and he did decline my forceful offer to deal with it like men..cowards all..Better still was the look on his wife’s face, as the character flaws of her husband was expalined to her by my better half.
Instead of worrying about what a blog has to say. You might want to consider why so many women are forced to prositute themselves. Absmal education standards, no support for women with children whose coward husbands decide to desert them. Staving children in the provinces..
Before the xenophobes start talking perhaps you should look at what is really happening in your own country.

on March 17, 2008 at 1:17 pm13 Rob
Straight shooter as always! That is why I read your blog!
I did not know you were married to a local. I guess I have learned something new about you today and you are not as anonymous as you were yesterday!
I agree there is a double standard here and the way that some Indonesian men treat their women it is hardly any wonder there are increasing numbers of Indonesian women seeking out other nationalities to become their other half.
Rather than confront the real issues, the general misogyny of some Indonesian men towards their women, it is all that much easier for Indonesian men to label Indonesian women with foreigners as prostitutes (the term of preference that I have foundmost use is “whore”).
I am married to a local too and at first my wife encouraged me to ignore the snide remarks and forget about it but after 12 years or so I guess it has worn a little thin and now I get active encouragement to go for it! I speak Indonesian and have found that I use “babi lu!” in preference to anjing
Not surprised that it was not taken outside and resolved like men. But, the dressing down he got from your missus in front of his missus and his mates would have meant there was no saving face…

on March 17, 2008 at 1:42 pm14 unspun
@Rob @Oigal: maybe we should all form an association of expat bloggers with Indonesian wives

on March 17, 2008 at 2:56 pm15 Rob
Now there’s a thought!

on March 17, 2008 at 2:58 pm16 Oigal
Hi Rob,
Thanks bloke..
Term they use here is pelacur, they are not smart enough to use english. Although the term would be better suited to the types supposedly looking after the peoples interests.Despite all the xenophobic rubbish you hear, ask one of your Indonesia blokes to take you to see one of the Indonesia brothels that exist in every town, you better be prepared for some fairly soul destroying scenes tho.
Perhaps thats good idea, as Rob said “we have about had a gutful of the rude, ignorant types” that pass for representatives of decorum”
BTW..That’s why I figure I have the right to speak out. In any “normal” country I would qaulify by rights of family, time in country and contribution to the country to qualify as a citizen, so the whiners had better get used to the stumps rants and raves.

on March 18, 2008 at 12:30 am17 Marisa
I speak Indonesian and have found that I use “babi lu!” in preference to anjing
Actually, that isn’t in preference to anjing. That’s in preference to, err ..another mammal.Have you been receiving such remarks yourself? It’s a shame. Really. You must take this things seriously though, especially concerning on how safe is your living and working environment, and know where to file a complaint.My guess is you’re not living in Jakarta, or Bali.
For expat husbands, with all due respect, does it ever occur to you gentlemen that this type of incidents isn’t exactly about you being a Caucasian? Perhaps it’s more of how your wives represent herselves, the lifestyle you both share, or how the both of you relate to the locals.
Do a small talk, basa basi, give Lebaran parcels, say Hello, or Assalamualaikum/Walaikumsalam when you bumped into natives you happened to know, join in and be a participative citizen. And you’re Caucasians/bules, it’s easier to get the natives laughing if you’re a Caucasian, since basically you’re like people coming out of their television set. But they are not laughing AT you.
Anyways, I am an Indonesian, I’d get sneering remarks too if ever I behave “unwisely”. That’s Indonesia, what do you expect? Las Vegas?
Those are just tips though, surely you know better about your spouses, and yourselves, than I do.

on March 18, 2008 at 1:50 am18 Marisa
On second thought, nevermind the Assalamualaikum/Walaikumsalam part, natives will assume you’ve converted and that would lead to a major misunderstanding. Unless you actually have.
That’s just how people like me do stuffs around the neighbourhood.

on March 18, 2008 at 8:34 am19 Oigal
Ah Marissa… I appreciate your comments and believe you are serious about trying to help. Don’t get offended but by your own comments you prove how far Indonesia has to go to get out the xenophobic rut it is in.
“know where to file a complaint” surely you are not serious? government types are the worst offenders..
“all due respect, does it ever occur to you gentlemen that this type of incidents isn’t exactly about you being a Caucasian? Perhaps it’s more of how your wives represent herselves, the lifestyle you both share, or how the both of you relate to the locals.”
Despite the obvious and with due respect, obnoxious undertones of that statement. Whose business is it anyway to judge our life styles and how we represent ourselves and by right does give anyone to comment (always to the woman never brave enough to confront the male head to head).
Despite that your inference about life styles and represent ourselves stands on its own as insulting anyway. For the record (and to have to state this is a slur on Indonesian attitudes) we dress politely (no bikinis, no high heels or cheap dresses which to what you are alluding to I assume).
Thanks for your tips on how to get along with the “locals”. Speaking for myself we have live in our village for a lonng time and obviously have no issues there. As the odd sexist, insecure moron has been dealt with and the rest we have good relations with. (Again with due respect, pretty patronising comment M)
It Is the general attitude amongst the larger populace and it has everything to do with being an expatriate’s wife or gf.
“I’d get sneering remarks too if ever I behave “unwisely”.”
Insulting comment M, who are you to assume I or anyone else are acting “unwisely”..take a breath and look around and see how women are treated in this country.
“say Hello, or Assalamualaikum/Walaikumsalam Assalamualaikum/Walaikumsalam” Here is another classic!! ..Why on earth should I or anyone else use that greeting? Fairly sure I am in South East Asia not the Middle East. The fact that you throw that in, demonstrates prevailing inability of the majority (?) to accept there are other cultures and norms of behaviour that go to make up a significant part of Indonesia. It’s about time for a lot of the little children to grow up.
Sorry Marissa, I believe you really did what to help but your comment is both condescending therein and insulting. Worse than that your assumed generalisations, were as bad as the comments made by the layabouts and to be honest to hear such a comment from an educated woman in Indonesia.
I realise this has probably offended you, but may I suggest you go back and read what you wrote and what subtext of the comments really are.

on March 18, 2008 at 8:54 am20 Rob
Wrote a really long post in response to this but it has not appeared. I have tried to re-post it and get a wordpress message about it being a duplicate…
Oigal has made many of the same points that I tried to make in my missing post…

on March 18, 2008 at 9:03 am21 Rob
Unspun… I still cannot post the comments I want? but if I try and re-post them I get a wordpress message that the comments are a duplicate post but they do not appear? Help lah!

This is my comment in response to the posts by Marisa...

I am not sure what mammal you are referring to, but OK.

My living and working environment is plenty safe enough. If it wasn't I wouldn't be here!

Good guess, but you are wrong. I live in Bekasi and work in Jakarta.

If it is not about me being a bule, then what is it about? Are you suggesting that my wife presents herself in such a way that she deserves to be called a pelacurS or any of the other possible derivatives, and a traitor to her culture for marrying a bule? Interesting observation considering you neither know me or my better half personally.

In the kampung where I live there are no problems! Be a participative citizen, enough with the assumptions already. You do not know me so where do you get off telling me about how I should participate in my community?

What we are talking about here is not making small talk or doing the basa basi thing with the locals but rather when we go to a shopping centre or the movies or to lunch and there is some fool thinking that he can say whatever he wants and be as rude as he likes because an Indonesian women has fallen in love with and married a bule or just enjoys hanging out with a bule friend! I do not really get the point about how doing any of the things that I note above constitute behaving unwisely!

Feel free to explain how going to a mall to do a little shopping is unwise behaviour and how that then gives the right to some poor imitation of a man to abuse either my wife or I?

I wonder if this was reversed and we were talking about Indonesian men going out with bule women would the arguments be any different?

Sorry Marisa but this is not how it works in the neighbourhood! Your naive and prejudiced response should probably amaze me but it doesn't. Your suggestion is that once my wife and I have been abused that the reason for the abuse is our own fault and that we should be thankful and start dishing out the lebaran presents. Reminds me a little of the idea of "Hey Mister, mana duit?" The simple rationale being if you’re white you should give and give generously and give often.

I have been living in Indonesia for more than 15 years now. Yep, I know the language, I know the culture, and I know the hoods! Yep, I know it is Indonesia and I do not expect anything else but Indonesia. I am here because I want to be here. If I wanted to be in Vegas I would watch CSI!

I am not sure that either of your posts are serious, particularly after reading the tip that I should not worry about the abuse because whenever someone sees me they have the right to abuse me because I am white and it looks like I have just come out of the TV. Are you kidding me???

If they are not laughing AT me then what is it that they are laughing at and what is it that gives them the right to behave badly and rudely? You are Indonesian, right? Perhaps you can explain your culture to us uncultured white folk who do not understand or know better.

Your "tips" convey a deep misunderstanding of the original post, but even more interesting is your justification of the behaviour of a minority of your fellow Indonesians as "that is just the way it is!"

To each their own...I will leave any other analysis or comments to my equally, perhaps more, capable bule colleagues!

17 March 2008

Secondhand Jackhammering: Are you safe?

What follows and the picture is copied verbatim from a friend's blog which can be accessed here: http://athomeinthequeencity.blogspot.com/ ...even the title of the post is copied!

"Just in case you can't read the small print, Melissa Williamson, 35 (shown above -- yes, that's her, with the cigarette), "worries about the effect on her unborn child from the sound of jackhammers."

Hmm... I worry about the effect on her unborn child of having a jackass for a mother."

16 March 2008

The Meaning of Life...

The Answer to the Great Question Of ...
Life, the Universe and Everything ... [is]

-- Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001)
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979) Chapter 27.

Just in case any one was wondering or pondering your existence on this Sunday morning.

A Thought for Sunday

It is better than ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer.

-- William Blackstone (1723 - 1780)
Commentaries on the Laws of England
Book 4, Chapter 27.

Polygamy in Indonesia

There is a whole legal debate that could be had on this topic from the perspective of legislation already enacted to govern the relationships between men and women. However, this would be no where near as fun as a rant and call the debate on this as one sees it! So, it is a rant in preference to a 'fair & balanced' examination of the pros and cons.

The recent release of an Indonesian film, Ayat-Ayat Cinta (Verses of Love) has struck a chord and is doing the rounds of the blogs and other sites. This debate is providing interesting and impassioned responses, so here is mine!

I have just read a blog by Ubergirl87. I am guessing the girl means she is in fact a woman and 87 refers to the year she was born. Assumptions can always get you into trouble but in any event it is an enlightening post. It relays a recent occurrence where some one asked a cleric about whether the husband and his two wives could engage in a threesome.

Aside from the obvious spice this might add to a presumably dull marriage, the question was how does Islam respond to such an encounter. As the cleric sees it, why not! Always conditions of course, and here the condition is that the partners (the wives in this case) cannot see each other -- modesty! I have to assume that the husband is allowed to look otherwise it could provide new meaning to getting knocked-up and a bruising encounter! Three people running around blindfolded might be too much to handle for some. This idea of modesty might also give meaning to the paper bag over one's head during the act of love making!

But back to polygamy. So, who wants to be the second, third, or fourth wife? Even the stars of the movie, all of whom seem to support the practice, seem to agree that they do not mind polygamy but are not so keen on being wife No. 2!

Is polygamy a form of exploitation and violence against women? In the al-Quran it is clear that there is an honourable element to the practice, or at least this is what I am told (I have read the relevant parts myself), men that are financially well to do marrying widows. But there is also a much more objectionable component in that it can be done for political reasons such as suring up familial alliances. This might not be such a prevalent aspect of the practice now but the question remains, why do Muslim men marry more than one wife? Is it purely altruistic or is it that men do so to give themselves some variety in the sexual partner category?

Indonesia has some well-to-do and famous polygamy practitioners such as the King of Dangdut, Rhoma Irama, and more recently AA Gym.

Remember it was not so long ago that the Vice President of Indonesia was on the record saying that he had no problem with Arabs coming to Indonesia and entering into temporary marriage contracts with Indonesian women. His rationale was that the women got some benefit out of this in terms of an improved financial position. The marriages might be legal according to religious laws but a two week marriage where the women gains a financial benefit at the end (and well deserved no doubt) is this really just a two-week stand, instead of the one-nighter, and in essence a form of legalized prostitution!

Personally, I think prostitution should be legalized and that way it can be better regulated and the harm of such things as human trafficking in girls and women can be reduced. It would allow the government to enforce better occupational health and safety standards, enforce age restrictions, and regulate where prostitution can occur. In other ways it is sure to be an exceptional revenue raiser for governments as they tax the proceeds. They do not call prostitution the oldest profession in the world without reason.

But once again back to the topic, polygamy! If women are prepared to enter into polygamous marriages then shouldn't this be their personal choice and their right? How far do we want the State to enter into and regulate our personal affairs? Why do men do it? The answer to this question might be as simple as, because they can!

But in the end, this is really a matter of to each their own! If you agree with the practice you can make your arguments for its maintenance and similarly if you disagree with the practice you can make equally convincing arguments for its prohibition.

Wales Complete the Grand Slam...

Wales is my second favourite rugby team after Australia. Why? Simple, I was born and raised in Australia and my old man is a Welshman (well, at least he was until he took out Australian citizenship -- Hey Dad!)...

So, it was good to see and read that the Welsh had completed the Grand Slam in the Six Nations with a thorough walloping of the defending Six Nations Champs, the French.

Time to go out and buy a new Welsh rugby jersey (Ma, if you're reading it would make a good birthday present)...

Election Laws - President

The packet of election laws is slowly but surely navigating its way through the parliamentary system. The most recent of these is the draft law on the Election of a President. This is a law that has significant and long-term ramifications for Indonesian politics. The current thinking sees a return to the party politics of the past which is counter to the intent in the post-Soeharto period of making the post of President one that was elected directly by the people.

The current law requires that candidates have the support of at least 15% of the parties elected to parliament. This in theory gives the smaller parties more clout in nominating a candidate that might have broad public appeal. This is how it worked for the Democratic Party in 2004 and particularly for their candidate, the current President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). The Democratic party secured about 10% of the popular vote but after forming an alliance with other parties got of the nominating threshold.

The proposal is that the threshold be raised to 30%. No one party secured 30% of the popular vote in 2004. The closest was Golkar with 28% and PDI-P with almost 23% followed Golkar. It would seem that increasing the threshold would most benefit these parties because the smaller parties would have to align themselves with the bigger parties if they wanted to get a say in the nominating process. However, if a smaller party came up with a candidate that had widespread name recognition and a high-level of electability then perhaps the larger parties might throw their support behind the smaller party. In this sense, Indonesia already has a history of doing this as SBY was nominated by the Democratic Party and was supported by Golkar who then put Jusuf Kalla on the ticket.

Yet, more critical to the debate here is that the new thresholds seem designed to keep the smaller parties at bay and institutionalize the Presidential nominating process in such a way that new and younger candidates who are not affiliated with a 'big' political party will never see the light of day.

Many people wonder why Indonesia is taking so long to reform on the legal, political, and social fronts after Soeharto fell from power but a quick look at the entrenched interests involved in stalling the reform process reads as a who's who of the New Order's school of politics. A reading of the list of past Indonesian presidents highlights that all of Indonesia's presidents since the fall of Soeharto have cut their political teeth under a regime that was rotten to the core.

So, I am not surprised that the parties of the past and seeking to return electoral laws to the past in a somewhat draconian measure to remove potential political opposition.

The mantra that change takes time is beginning to wear thin and it will not be too far into the future that Indonesian citizens will demand more radical change, at least radical in terms of the amount of time they are prepared to wait to see this change happen.

It would seem that if Golkar and PDI-P manage to insert this 30% clause into the draft and then force it through the DPR that the biggest beneficiaries of this will be Jusuf Kalla and Megawati Soekarnoputri...

15 March 2008

A Positive Thought for Saturday

Where we are free to act, we are free to refrain from acting, and where we are able to say no, we are also able to say yes.

-- Aristotle (384 - 322 BC)

13 March 2008

The ACA Photo...

Gotta say now that I have seen the photo, I do not see the resemblance! The 'Mercedes' in this photo does not look like the real Mercedes and the 'Schapelle' in this photo looks nothing like the recent legitimate photos that I have seen of Schapelle. The primary differences I can see are hair length and body shape.

I must admit I have never met Schapelle in person.

Perhaps I should have done this research before I made the original post and been more critical of A Current Affair and Channel Nine in manipulating this for ratings.

Nevertheless, the points I made about prisoner transfers and Indonesian prisons remain valid.
Thanks to all those that commented on the original posts on this topic!

A Further Schapelle Corby Update

It seems ninemsn.com and Channel Nine have been a part of a deception in relation to the recent allegations that Schapelle Corby was seen out of jail. Having followed up on the reports and having received some anonymous criticism for the "tripe" that I posted regarding this, I am taking this opportunity to put some other facts on the record.

The photo that I copied and pasted from the ninemsn.com site is indeed a photo of Schapelle Corby but it is NOT the photo that was shown on A Current Affair or to Schapelle's mother. However, in my own defence the points that I made I believe remain valid, namely: that Australian prisoners may need to think long and hard about whether they take advantage of any prisoner transfer system put in place. Like the buyer of anything the Australian prisoners in Indonesian jails will need to read the fine print.

The following was issued in response to the ACA program.

Kay Danes / Foreign Prisoner Support Service release.

Attention: Media Watch

Re: ACA [Ch9] victimisation of Schapelle Corby

As you know, Schapelle Corby is a prisoner in Kerobokan Prison. Recently I tuned into the Australian television "A Current Affairs Program" on Monday evening 3 March 2008. I could not believe that they had compiled an elaborate story to mislead the Australian public. Airing photo's of tourists who resembled Schapelle and her sister Mercedes and alluding that they were in fact, Schapelle and her sister, enjoying a night on the town - unsupervised by prison police.It was devastating the way ACA compiled the story but more disturbing was the fact that they refused to show the said photographs to Schapelle's distraught mother unless she agreed to view the photo's on air. Then they had the audacity to ask her how she could be so convinced that the photo's were not actual photo's of her daughters. Rosleigh Corby has just lost her former husband to cancer and at the time the photo's were taken, his funeral was underway and Mercedes had flown back to Australia to attend.I am of the understanding that the girls who took these photographs were attempting to sell them to the Australian media, although I personally cannot verify that. In any case, I strongly believe that Schapelle's current legal case will suffer as a result of the ACA program and that is more than just unfortunate, it is in my opinion, highly concerning.Foreign Prisoner Support Service is lodging a formal complaint to the Australian Attorney General's Office in relation to the continued victimisation of Australian detainee Schapelle Corby.Prisoners are not, and should not, be put at risk simply to increase ratings or to sell more newspapers. The story was nothing more than sensational rubbish based on hearsay from people who don't even know Schapelle Corby, have never met her or her family!

The moral of this story is do not always believe what you first read or hear no matter what the source. The points made by Kay Danes are important and worth noting!