31 December 2009

Luna Maya Returns to Twitter...

What is it with this grabbing the dog from behind picture. Everywhere one goes looking for a Luna Maya picture, this is one of the first ones to appear...

Luna Maya (@lunmay) has returned to the Twittering fold and reactivated her account on the microblogging site. I guess this means you cannot keep a good woman down, even if you lodge a criminal defamation complaint against her?

The Luna Maya fiasco erupted when some infotainment journalists became a little over-zealous in their pursuit of the interview and photo that we mere mortals crave in our daily celebrity fix. During the ensuing free-for-all Ariel's (the boyfriend of LM) little girl was clocked in the head with a camera or something. This led to the famous tweet comparing infotainment journalists to prostitutes and murderers. Subsequently, the Luna Maya Twitter account disappeared after a short apology was posted.

But, it is back! There have been no new tweets apparently. Apparently is because I do not tweet or twitter and I am going on what others have said. Ah, the beauty of second hand information.

What is interesting is that the Minister of Communication and Information, Tifatul Sembiring, has come out and said that the Information and Electronic Transactions Law that the Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) is using as the basis of its criminal defamation claim was not drafted not designed for this sort of criminal defamation action.

According to Sembiring, the ITE Law was drafted and is designed to prevent computer related crimes such as credit card fraud and hacking., That said, it would seem that Article 27 also seems to open the door for arguments that the ITE Law also conceives that criminal defamation might also be a crime within the scope of the law.

As usual, a Luna Maya post lends itself to some gratuitous picture posting.

Rin Sakuragi -- More Japanese Porn Stars in Indonesia...

Maxima Pictures has played a perfect deception by promoting one movie with a Japanese porn star as the main character while simultaneously shooting another film with another Japanese porn star and releasing it into theatres without too much fan fare to date. Quite a trick in Indonesia.

The previous kerfuffle related to the film Kidnapping Miyabi, which was to star as herself none other than that famous Japanese porn star Maria Ozawa or as she is known in industry circles, Miyabi. However, the latest offering from Maxima Pictures stars another Japanese actress of considerable pornographic talents, Rin Sakuragi.

The film, Sister Keramas (the Hair-Washing Nurse), is billed as a horror-comedy. What is it with porn stars and horror flicks, or more to the point horror-comedy flicks? I have to say, the title of the film is not all that inspiring to me, and besides a horror-comedy flick does not seem like the perfect vehicle for Rin to showcase her obvious talents.

In a move that is sure to see the movie's popularity boosted the MUI in Samarinda has issued a fatwa declaring that the movie must not be watched by Muslims as it lacks any redeeming features. Presumably this means that it is not educative or serves no particular purpose in the public interest. This is true, of course. But, then again it is just a film and it is supposed to, in this instance entertain as opposed to educate.

But, as usual, this post lends itself to some gratuitous posting of pictures of Rin in some of her more tame poses.

Enjoy the pictures and the film if you so desire.

Gus Dur - RIP

Abdurrahman Wahid or Gus Dur as he was affectionately known has passed away. Gus Dur dies Wednesday at 18.45 at the Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital in Jakarta.

He was 69.

Gus Dur led the Nahdlatul Ulama. He was also President of the Republic of Indonesia from October 1999 through October 2001.

He is survived by a wife and four daughters.

25 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Dear All (for those who celebrate this time of year)...

I hope that you and yours had a very Merry Christmas!

Santa was good to us, and we had a wonderful day with family. We are already looking forward to next year.

23 December 2009

How Bad is Kerobokan Prison?

I want to see the word laogai in every dictionary in every language in the world. I want to see the laogai ended. Before 1974, the word 'gulag' did not appear in any dictionary. Today, this single word conveys the meaning of Soviet political violence and its labour camp system. 'Laogai' also deserves a place in our dictionaries.

-- Harry Wu
the laogai are Chinese labour camps.

Kerobokan prison has been the subject of a recent book by Kathryn Bonella titled 'Hotel K'. The prison has been described and characterized as a veritable hellhole that people battle to survive in. However, as Bonella notes in her book, the guards are corrupt and life's little luxuries are always available for the right price.

Kerobokan houses Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine.

Yet, what inspired this post, aside from the above quote, was that I read recently that Kerobokan makes Guantanamo Bay look like a five star resort. Now, I have not been to Cuba so I cannot say with authority however it strikes me as unlikely that favours and better conditions are for sale there.

The reality of Kerobokan is that prisoners with resources can purchase a cell 'upgrade' and enjoy some of the finer things of prison life such as delivered food and freedom to roam.

Prison is not supposed to be summer camp. You are supposed to be punished for crimes that you have committed. I am sure that Kerobokan is not a nice place, and I am sure that I am glad I am not inside. However, to compare it to places like Guantanamo Bay or to suggest it is the worst prison in Asia or the world undermines the credibility of those making such comments. It also serves to shine light on the ways in which prisoners of means can play the system and garner more favourable conditions during they forced stay.

Is Kerobokan the worst prison in Indonesia? No. Is Kerobokan the worst prison in Asia? No. Is Kerobkan the worst prison in the world? No. Is it a fun place to be? No!

I wonder if Schapelle has benefited from the 'corruption' of Kerobokan and upgraded her cell or enjoyed any other benefits that money can buy?

Schapelle Corby -- Depressed and Desperate?

It has been a while since I last wrote a Schapelle Corby related post. There has been no reason for this, other than not being bothered. I am planning on writing a couple (I might do them all in a row now that I am onto it). This particular post was inspired by some email I received asking me what I thought about her deteriorating mental state and whether she should be repatriated to Australia for treatment. It was also inspired by the above recent New Idea cover.

The picture, as they say, tells a thousand words. So, I won't bore you with a thousand more analyzing, but rather, I will just bore you with a few observations.

1. Why is it that New Idea has an exclusive deal with new tidbits of Schapelle Corby related information? Is there a media deal in place? Is Schapelle profiting from this exclusive deal?

2. How does this exclusive deal advance the campaign to bring Schapelle Corby home?

3. A recent report from Dr. Jonathon Phillips stated that Schapelle Corby was severely depressed, harming herself (allegedly cutting herself with a piece of glass), had regressed into a child like state, and who is not likely to survive prison. However, this picture (above) does not paint that scenario, of a desperate and depressed woman, does it?

4. In contrast, her regular doctor, Dr. Thong, has argued that Schapelle Corby is depressed and anxious. But, with medication that is taken as it is prescribed to be, Schapelle Corby can function normally and within the parameters of what is expected of a person in her situation.

5. I have argued pretty consistently that Schapelle Corby has been found guilty and exhausted her appeals, and no amount of rearguing and rehashing the evidence is likely to change this fact. The focus must now be on how to speed up the process of repatriation. I firmly believe that five years is more than enough time for the crime that she has been convicted of. However, a cover such as this one and an open letter to Australians has not seemed to endear her to the wider Australian populace. In fact, popular support seems to be running along the lines of, if you do the crime you must do the time. This is sad, sad for Schapelle Corby.

6. If part of the strategy is to generate support for the idea that Schapelle Corby has done enough time for the crime she has been convicted of, then it is time to broaden the base of appeal. It should not matter whether you think she is innocent or guilty in order to join the movement for repatriation. As long as you think she has done enough time and deserves to be repatriated, then that is enough. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It seems that in order to be a supporter you have to be a true believer in that Schapelle Corby is an innocent victim; a political porn in some geo-political game, where you must toe the single party line.

Perhaps this is why I have not written more frequently. I support the idea that Schapelle Corby has done enough time, but I cannot bring myself to ascribe to the party line. I wonder how many more people like me are out there; people wanting to help, but also turned off by the constant derision from true believers if you are not prepared to declare your support for innocence.

Sad really, very sad.

21 December 2009

Barongsai / Lion Dance Banned in Aceh...

The Religious Affairs Office in Aceh has decided in its infinite wisdom to ban the barongsai dance from Aceh. The reason, Acehnese will not understand it, and therefore any new things must be introduced slowly and explained. It seems that the Religious Affairs Office was worried that the majority of Muslim Acehnese would not like the lion dance, and to allow it to be performed would be tantamount to sowing the seeds of conflict in the province.

The barongsai or lion dance is a traditional Chinese cultural performance. In commemorations of the fifth anniversary of the 2004 tsunami tragedy that devastated Aceh and other places, Acehnese Buddhists were going to perform a series of lion dances throughout Aceh.

It is worth noting that the lion dance is not a religious event, but rather it is a cultural one. Those that believe in the dance believe that it may help in calming restless spirits. My guess, if you believe in that sort of thing, is that there probably are a few restless spirits out there considering the nature of the tragedy that unfolded on that fateful day.

Aceh has special autonomy and this affords them a large degree of flexibility in governing their own affairs. This special autonomy also includes special privileges with respect to implementing religious laws. However, it would seem that the decision was not, at least in the official sense, based on religious concerns, but rather basic law and order ones.

If this is the case, then the national prohibitions regarding the lion dance and its performance have been expunged since 2000. Therefore, the government, via the Department of Religious Affairs, needs to step in and have a few words to the local Religious Affairs Office about how best to execute their responsibilities.

Then again, Aceh has been on a bit of a role lately with local government action on the legislation front including enacting legislation to stone adulterers.

Oh well.


Every law is contrary to liberty.

-- Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832)
Principles of the Civil Code (1843)

This undoubtedly applies to every nation and every individual in the world. However, I post it here as I have been thinking about the pending criminal trial of Prita Mulyasari and the recent Twitter spat of Luna Maya and the use of the Information and Electronic Transactions Law (ITE Law) in Indonesia.

I am particularly interested in the different ways that journalists view this law as a restriction on free speech. The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) in Indonesia has campaigned against the law whereas the Indonesian Association of Journalists (PWI) has decided to use the provisions of the law to file a criminal defamation complaint.

These are indeed interesting times in which we live.

Will, Santa, and Christmas 2009...

Happy holidays to all.

For those celebrating Christmas, may it be a wonderful time for you all shared with family and friends.

This photo of Will was taken on Saturday. We had been enjoying a day at the markets at Warwick Farm and Liverpool. While we were at Liverpool, Santa was doing the rounds. So, we thought it as good a time as any to get a happy snappy of Will with Santa. However, it seems that Will is not so sure that the fat man in the red suit is all that cool.

I am sure that over time Will will come to appreciate Santa and Mrs. Claus, especially if the Christmas stocking continues to be filled in the same way that it is this year!

18 December 2009

Luna Maya, Twitter, Paparazzi, and Prostitutes

One of the good things about not having a twitter account is that there is no temptation to vent one's frustrations and anger out into the public sphere. Perhaps on a little reflection Luna Maya might have thought twice about ranting that "infotainment are lower than prostitutes, murders!!! May your soul burn in hell!!!" I guess it is fair to say that she was not mincing any words there. But does she have a point?

To work this out one needs to consider the situation that preceded this little rant. Luna Is dating a singer of one of Indonesia's bigger bands, Ariel of Peter Pan fame. Ariel was married and has a beautiful young daughter (no where near as good looking as Will of course). There has been some suggestion that Luna is a home wrecker and it is her fault that Ariel split with his former wife. However, that was not the issue that sparked the most recent venting.

Luna's twitter account, lunmay, was shut down recently after the vent went public. Luna has apologized to her 123,952 followers for shutting down the account. I probably would not have had one in the first place if I was a star of the small and silver screens. Simply, tweeting that you are watching a movie is like a red rag to a bull and is certain to bring the paparazzi stalkers out in force.

As the story goes, Luna, Ariel, and Alleia (Ariel's daughter) went to watch the premiere of Ariel's first movie, The Dreamer (Sang Pemimpi) at EX Plaza. Now, my recollections of EX are that it was an excellent place for a little bit of celebrity spotting if that was your thing. In any event, little Alleia had fallen asleep during the movie and was being carried out by Luna.

This is where it gets really interesting. In the scramble for good photos and an interview one of the infotainment throng cracked little Alleia on the head with a camera. For a parent, even the girlfriend of a parent, this can certainly arouse some pretty heated emotions. If someone clocked Will in the head with a camera, then I would be tempted to grab the camera a clock the fella right back.

The lesson here is two-fold, Luna Maya had apparently agreed to an interview in the lobby once little Alleia was in the safety of the car. So, the gathered throng of infotainment journalists would have got their interview and obligatory shots if the had been a little more patient. the second lesson is do not vent your frustrations on Twitter no matter how justified you feel about it.

The spat, if the Twitter message can be called such, has escalated with the Indonesian Journalists Association threatening to take legal action against Luna for allegedly comparing them to prostitutes. The comparison to murderers was a little harsh, but the comparison to prostitutes probably is not so harsh.

In fact, it is probably a slur against all the prostitutes out there. Let's face it, infotainment journalists and photographers sell their assets to those willing to pay for it, similar to prostitutes. But, on a more serious note, the Indonesian Association of Journalists might also want to consider that one of their members was responsible for the assault of a child. My question would be, "does the Indonesian Association of Journalists really want to pursue this one?"

Most people might have an insatiable appetite for celebrity gossip and news, but most of these people would also balk at the idea that journalists need to assault and harm children in order to get their pound of flesh.

Maybe it is time that the government considered putting into place specific laws that protect celebrities from over-zealous infotainment journalists. And, perhaps it is also time that those that drive the market, infotainment publishers started to self-regulate what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to getting that all important shot or all important interview.

Public figures are what they are, but this does not mean that they forfeit all their rights to privacy because they have appeared in a film or worked as a presenter on TV.

It is time the infotainment industry got their collective act together and showed some class.

Statutory Rape or Monumental Mistake?

This is a series of photos doing the rounds of the internet at the moment. Perhaps they will appeal to lawyers more than anyone else (I am not sure that is a good thing, though).

So, the simple question is: "Is this statutory rape or a monumental mistake?"

Soekarno-Hatta International Airport -- Puntuality...

Good News!

Here is one that will have many scratching their heads and thinking, "No way!" However, Soekarno-Hatta International Airport has scored second place in the annual forbestraveler.com survey of the most on-time international airports. Now, if the management of the place could only get there services and facilities in order the place would be world class in almost every respect.

Soekarno-Hatta ranked between two Japanese powerhouses; Haneda and Narita. The second place ranking marks a jump from the previous year's placing of sixth.

This is something to be proud of for all Indonesians, if for no other reason as most transportation related news about Indonesia usually involves accidents and fatalities.

17 December 2009

Mary, Joseph, and God...

Are you offended?

You have to hand it to those New Zealanders, they do have a good sense of timing and humour in order to spark discussion.

The above billboard appeared at the St. Matthew-in-the-City church in Auckland.

06 December 2009

Muppets Making A Comeback...

Here is a YouTube video of the Muppets doing a cover of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.

It is way cool. I really liked the Muppets when I was a kid. If they make a comeback perhaps Will can get the chance to really like them too.

The "People" Want "Balibo" Banned...

It was hardly surprising that the Indonesian Censorship Board (Lembaga Sensor Film / LSF) slapped a ban on the film Balibo. The film tells the story of five journalists killed in Balibo while covering the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. It also tells that story from the perspective of Roger East (who was ultimately murdered on the docks of Dili) and Jose Ramos Horta.

A good review of the film can be found over at Patrick Guntensperger's blog.

The film portrays the killings of the five journalists as murder. The cold hard reality was that they were executed. Any story to the contrary that the five were innocently caught in the cross-fire between Indonesian and Fretilin forces is just that, a story.

It is probably worth noting that the NSW Coroner's Court found enough evidence to forward the matter to the Australian Federal Police for a War Crimes Investigation.

But this post is not about rehashing the "facts" of the event. Rather it is about the amusing statement from the current Chief of the Army, General George Toisutta, who argues that the LSF decision to ban the film equates to the voices of the Indonesian public being heard. Simply, Indonesians across the board want the film to be banned.

I am not quite sure how the Indonesian people have spoken on this one in regards to voicing the opinion that the film must be banned. The simple fact that it has been banned means that most of the Indonesian populace has not had the opportunity to see it yet in order to formulate an opinion on it.

However, it has to be noted that banning a film in Indonesia does not have the same effect as it used to. Video piracy ensures that almost any film is available, if you look hard enough, and normally before it "opens" in Indonesian theatres. Word on the street is that Balibo is already freely available from road-side vendors of the latest films.

Furthermore, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (Aliansi Journalis Independen / AJI) have already screened the film for a select few, 300 or so to be a little more precise.

When it is all said and done, this is a film. It is an interpretation of historical events that clearly runs counter to what the Indonesian government have told their people about the incident.

However, banning the film ensures that it stays in the public conscience. A ban tends to increase the popularity of a film. The ban is sure to have people wanting to see it in order to see what the government is so committed to preventing them from seeing. And, more than anything else, the film is unlikely to seriously harm relations between Indonesia, Timor Leste, and Australia at the people to people level. The only harm that may befall these relationships are on the political level as desperate politicians seek to ground out some cheap political points on their rivals.

It is funny in that really sad kind of a way that the Indonesian government does not believe her citizens to be intellectually capable of digesting this film and making decisions on its content in rational ways. The government, once again, is severely underestimating the maturity of the Indonesian community as a whole.

Is SBY Paranoid?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009, is International Anti-Corruption Day. The day is marked for protest. This is not all that surprising in light of the recent, and ongoing, Cicak vs. Buaya fiasco and the ever-present Bank Century scandal. There is still enough corruption in Indonesia to warrant a demonstration on most days, let alone only on international anti-corruption day.

Poor old Mr. President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or SBY to his friends, has suggested in a fit of paranoia that the protest or demonstration is not really in support of anti-corruption efforts but rather has been hijacked by his political opponents as a means of scoring some cheap political points. Awwww schucks Mr. President, it is nothing personal, it is called democracy and freedom of speech and freedom of expression. People in democracies feel comfortable and free to express their views in the form of demonstrations.

Maybe the photo above is an indication of how paranoid the President feels at the moment on the finger scale.

The fact that they feel free and safe enough to do it in Indonesia must be exploited by you! You need to get your PR people on this thing straight away and get them spinning it for all it is worth. "Look, under my watch democracy in Indonesia has thrived, and people believe that they are safe, so safe in fact that the feel comfortable in protesting about the one thing that is going to be my legacy, anti-corruption".

But instead, and as he is prone to do, the President has missed the moment. This is another one of those post-Marriott / Ritz-Carlton hotel bombings where the president has decided that the emphasis needs to be on him rather than the issues at hand. Pretty sad really that the President is seeking to silence his critics in this way.

The cold hard reality for the President, his family, his party, and any other associates is this; if they are clean and corruption free then there is absolutely nothing to worry about when a group gets together and wants to demonstrate about the failures they perceive to be occurring on the eradication of corruption front.

It is interesting that the President is all for freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of association when it does not disturb national stability or law and order, yet, he was more than happy to stand by and let the "investigation" run its course in the attack on the KPK and two of its commissioners. Sounds like wanting to have one's cake and eat it too!

Perhaps it is time that the President worried more about governing than a few demonstrators getting together to celebrate International Anti-Corruption Day.

There is more to leadership than winning an election!

(Photo can be found here)

01 December 2009

Balibo -- The Film -- Banned in Indonesia...

The decision of the Indonesian Film Censorship Board (Lembaga Sensor Film / LSF) to ban the screening of the film Balibo is hardly one for the surprising column. It pretty much was expected, and even more so when the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club and the Jakarta International Film Festival (JIFF) both indicated that they were going to screen the film. It certainly was a case of upping the ante.

Well, the LSF responded as expected and banned the film because of the political nature of it, and probably because the film conveys a position that the Indonesian government considers to be lies, a complete fabrication, and a distortion of the truth in the extreme. All of those things mean essentially the same, but they needed repeating in slightly different forms to highlight how seriously the Indonesian government would have been working the LSF to ensure that a ban was forthcoming.

The simple reality here is that the Indonesian position is that the five journalists, who became known as the Balibo Five, were killed in crossfire between Indonesian and Fretilin troops. Whereas, in stark contrast to the official Indonesian position, the film depicts the five being murdered by Indonesian troops under the immediate command of Captain Yunus Yosfiah who went on to reach the rank of general, become a minister, and serve time as a parliamentarian.

These actions were found by the Coroner's Court in NSW to be tantamount to war crimes and worthy of further investigation, and ultimately prosecution.

The Australian Federal Police are committed to completing a war crimes investigation into the deaths of the Balibo Five. So, bilateral tension seems certain to escalate over this matter at some point in the future.

A final point on the issue of censorship. I think the majority of Indonesians are ready enough to cast a critical eye over the film and make judgments as to the content. The idea that the LSF is banning this film because Indonesians are not mature enough to watch and determine for themselves the validity of this film is an insult to all Indonesians.

Oh well.

(Photo from here)

The Case Against Chandra and Bibit -- Dropped!

It was time that these shenanigans came to an end. The fact that this 'case' ran as long as it did is an embarrassment to the Indonesian Police, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Office of the President of the Republic of Indonesia. When leadership was called form it was severely lacking from those elected and appointed to leadership positions. Instead it was people power and the power of those people voicing their concerns about the need for justice through the media that spurred the courts into action and the ultimate resolution of this issue.

However, whether the issue is finished is really a moot point considering that the underlying issues remain unresolved. The dedication of the police and the AGO in wanting to see this case go to trial raises myriad of questions, and the fact that there seems to be some intent of seeing the instigator, Anggodo, pursued through the courts, then the simple reality is that Chandra and Bibit, and the mistrust between the various law enforcement agencies of Indonesia seems set to linger for some time yet.

The AGO has decided that it is not going to pursue the charges in the public interest. And, it would seem that the President's office is busy drafting and finalizing an order of reinstatement that will see both Chandra and Bibit returned to their rightful places as KPK Commissioners. However, what has not been addressed is the damage to their reputations as a consequence of this long-running unsavoury incident.

The AGO seems intent on continuing to perpetuate the fallacy that there was enough 'evidence' available to the police and the AGO to continue this case to trial. Marwan Effendy, the Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes, said as much in his statement indicating the intent of the AGO to drop the case.

According to Effendy, the psychological and moral consequences that would arise as a result of the trial would not have warranted the trial going forward. So, the AGO bowed to public pressure. OK, but this is not where Effendy decided to stop. Instead, Effendy went on to say that the charges were valid, that Chandra and Bibit did not understand the anti-corruption law and that neither of them realized the consequences of their actions in breaching the provisions of the law.

Simply, in other words the Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes is saying we would have garnered a conviction, but a conviction is not in the public interest. In essence, Chandra and Bibit are guilty as charged, but the AGO in their infinite wisdom and intimate understanding of the public's need to eliminate corruption has decided to not do its job. Alternatively, this could be a simple case of the Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes continuing the defamation of the good name and character of both Chandra and Bibit.

Perhaps a trial would have been the best option. A trial would have presented an opportunity to Chandra and Bibit to be exonerated of the charges and clear the mud thrown at them. A trial would have also highlighted the lengths that the police and the AGO had gone to fabricate a case.

Admittedly, there are arguments that the trial might have gone the other way and confirmed guilt, but if the police or the AGO really had that evidence then it would be an outrage not to pursue it; corruption within the Corruption Eradication Commission. It could be argued that there would not be a bigger case, or a sweeter one, than busting the corruption busters up to their eyeballs in extortion and bribery while feathering their own nests.

The moral of this story is that corruption is alive and well in Indonesia, that it is facilitated and perpetuated by those in positions of authority or power, but that good is more regularly triumphing over evil. There is a long way to go, but perhaps this is a first step in the next phase of the corruption fight.

A final note. The case might have been dropped, and Chandra and Bibit will return to their respective positions at the KPK. However, much damage has been done to their reputations, and it must be part of the process of healing that the dropping of the case includes rehabilitation of their names and reputations. Anything short of a full apology is a slap in the face. The police allowed the fabrication of a case, the AGO kept the fabrication going, and the president refused to step in and discipline those responsible. Yes, an apology is warranted and justified. It is time that the president was presidential enough to step up to the plate and make it.

Come on Mr. President, what are you waiting for?

Mano, Oh Mano...

It seems that one can never get enough of Manohara. Well, it would seem that this is what her handlers think. Mano and her handlers are certainly courting the media at every opportunity, and getting her involved in all manner of things. The latest venture is a request to the Indonesian Constitutional Court for a judicial review of the interim law (Peraturan Pemerintah Pengganti Undang-Undang / Perpu) that authorized the Bank Century bailout.

This is not to say that the Bank Century bailout is not worthy of a judicial review of the Constitutional Court. The scandal, and it is a scandal, is probably worthy of some deeper investigation and maybe even warrants some criminal charges down the track. However, Mano's constitutional rights to claim the judicial review are the same as myriad of other Indonesians, and the cynical among us would consider this to be nothing more than opportunism with respect to getting her name in the papers and on TV.

I have not seen anything nor read anything that Manohara has said or written that would suggest that she has the capacity to understand the legal intricacies of a Constitutional Court challenge. So, perhaps it is time that she enlightened us in her own words on why it is necessary to bring such a challenge and discuss and explain a little the legal issues she is seeking to resolve at the Constitutional Court.

Her lawyers, including Farhat Abbas, have suggested that the case is a reflection of her commitment to ridding Indonesia of corruption, and of concerns she has as a good citizen of Indonesia that her tax money has gone to bailing out corruptors, and that the perpu is nothing more than legal protection for those involved. As I said, I would like to hear her articulate these things in her own words.

While she is doing that, she might also like to articulate on the case involving her mother and the alleged abuse of a domestic servant in France for which Daisy Fajarina, her mother, was convicted of and sentenced to 18 months in jail in absentia. Of particular interest would be why her mother has not returned to France to either contest the matter on appeal or to serve here sentence like a good citizen.

Meanwhile, I guess we will be hearing only from the lawyers and the media representatives, with a few sound bites tossed in for effect.

Oh well!

AIDS and Shariah -- Hizbut Tahrir Style...

Today is World AIDS Day. Today, at least for me, is a day to remember dear friends and to continue to agitate for a brighter future; one that is free of this scourge. It is time that there was not only a vaccine, but a cure, for this virus. It is important to remember that as a community that great strides have been made, but it is more important to remember that the fight is not over. There are still those who advocate ignorance and take the bury your head in the sand approach.

This is why I find news like Hizbut Tahrir in Indonesia advocating the development of an Islamic Caliphate and the immediate implementation of Shariah Law as their main weapon in the fight against HIV / AIDS both amusing and and frighteningly dangerous at the same time. The naivety of an approach that says Shariah law will solve all ills beggars belief, particularly when the insinuation is that HIV / AIDS is a disease of prostitutes, drug users, and homosexuals. Not only is this naive, it is stupid as well. To all intents and purposes, prostitution, illicit drug use, and homosexuality are already illegal in Indonesia. So, the imposition of Shariah law is not going to change the legal framework all that much with respect to these issues. Unless, there is a belief that the punishment would be a sufficient deterrent to all of these situations.

Part of the Hizbut Tahrir push is to close down brothels and ban the use of condoms. Now, if I am not mistaken brothels are generally illegal. And, the authorities tend to periodically close them down. However, the banning of condoms as a means of preventing casual sex is silly at best and negligent at worst.

The Islamic hardliners are also advocating the cancellation of all condom and sex education programs on the belief that if people have no knowledge of sex, and safe sex in particular, then they are less likely to indulge in sex as a past time. Finally, it appears that the protesters believe that Indonesians are rather large consumers of pornography and that this is a trigger for the huge increase in casual sex. The answer, according to Hizbit Tahrir and others is to ban pornography and shut down the porn industry. Ah, if I am not mistaken pornography is already illegal in Indonesia.

Ideas such as this highlight a real lack of understanding of the human condition and the nature of the world that we live in. The reality is that sex and drugs preceded Islam and they will more than likely survive it as well.

Nevertheless, it is a daunting task facing those seeking to educate Indonesians about HIV / AIDS, particularly when a component of the community would have you believe that HIV / AIDS is nothing more than a disease that afflicts those in the sex industry or homosexuals. Indonesia is on the cusp of a pandemic where large-scale transmission from high risk communities begins to pervade the general community.

UNAIDS estimates that there are some 270,000 Indonesians infected with HIV, and that this is the tip of the iceberg in the sense that there is also a belief that there is significant under-reporting of infections. Under-reporting generally stems from the stigma attached to being HIV+ and the idea of singling HIV+ people out is abhorrent.

There is a real danger that HIV / AIDS could become a really big problem for Indonesia. However, the reality is not one that allows us to stick out collective heads in the sand and pretend that there is not really a problem. It requires vision from Indonesia's leaders to face this dilemma head on and make the hard decisions. One of those decisions is that education saves lives.

Perhaps now is a good time to take the excellent work being done by civil society and NGOs in Indonesia, such as Spiritia Foundation and others, mainstream in confronting this scourge. The fight is all about Respect and Protect. Respecting and protecting ourselves and others.

(Photo from here)

World AIDS Day

How much longer must the wait be to find a cure?

24 November 2009

Manohara, Corruption, and Cemeteries

I have decided not to go with the traditional Manohara post heading. I think we are up to the mid-twenties or something, but who really cares about that.

There is one thing you have to acknowledge about Manohara and her handlers, they are master manipulators of the media. Manohara is often referred to as a teen sinetron star. Yet, her only foray into sinetron, or Indonesian soap operas, was axed after not fully completing a whole season. There are obviously diverse opinions on why that is, but it seems that the self-titled soap opera was not a big ratings winner once the novelty wore off.

In any event, this has not been a deterrent to Manohara or those handling her public image. She seems to have this uncanny knack of being everywhere that there is a photo opportunity. Most recently she turned up at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout to support a demonstration by the "Red and White Troops" focusing on anti-corruption.

The thrust of the demonstration or protest was that corruption is bad and that convicted corruptors need to be socially stigmatized in life and in death. In death, meaning that the government should set aside special pieces of land to build cemeteries for corruptors. Personally, this seems a tad unnecessary, particularly for god-fearing people. Simply, if corruption is the evil many of us believe it to be then it would seem pretty obvious that God is unlikely to reward corruptors no matter where they are buried.

And, if there is no God then it does not really matter where corruptors commence their worm food journey, does it?

In the understatement of the day category Manohara piped up that she hope that Indonesia will one day be corruption free. Don't we all, Mano?

She went onto say that she hopes corruptors are severely punished and that where those corruptors are government employees that they are fired. This was topped off by a call for unity in the fight against corruption that would see the KPK, the Police, and the Office of the Attorney General reunited in their common cause, corruption eradication.

Although, the best part of the Manohara saga is how she refers to herself in the third person. It is almost like she is not there when she is talking about herself. One quote attributed to her is, “Mano is not afraid to get dark (from the sun). Mano could get in the car but any people out here have to stand the heat.”

I am wondering though, if Mano and her mother, Daisy Fajarina, are so concerned about law and order, then why did they not deal with the case against them in Malaysia which resulted in a rather large default judgment against them? Or why Daisy insists in not finalizing the legal issues pertaining to her alleged abuse of a domestic servant whilst living in France?

People who live in glass houses probably should not throw stones (or walk around naked :D).

23 November 2009

Chandra M Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto -- Deponeering...

The President of the Republic of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or SBY, is not scheduled to respond to the Team of Eight report and their investigation and recommendations regarding the police and prosecutors case against Chandra M Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto until tonight. However, unwittingly or not, he has probably provided some insight into what his remarks are likely to be when he addressed the chief editors of 75 media organizations last night.

It is clear that the president feels that some of the issues that have arisen during the cause of these shenanigans have been nothing short of a personal affront to him and his family. Therefore, it is of little or no surprise that he wants this issue to go away, and go away fast. The longer it drags on the more damage it does to him and his legacy.

So, what did the president say exactly. Well, in a nutshell, he wants the issue resolved, and he wants it resolved out of court. His suggestion is that the police and the Office of the Attorney General use their deponeering (sometimes spelt deponering) to discontinue the investigation. Deponeering is a legacy of the Dutch colonial legal system and in its most simple terms means to discontinue any investigation in the public interest. In essence, the president is telling the police and the AGO to end this thing by just pulling up stumps and letting the issue die a fast but peaceful death.

Yet, it is worth noting that in his comments he seems to suggest that ultimately this is a call for the police and the AGO. If this is true, and he has not issued a direct order to the police and the AGO to deponeer this case, then it is a little bit disingenuous to suggest that he is becoming actively involved in the case. In fact, it is pretty clear that he is setting up the public for disappointment by saying that he will not be forced into overstepping his boundaries as president.

And, as far as he is concerned, if he was to order the police or the AGO to stop the investigation then he would be overstepping his authority and interfering in the proper domain of law enforcement. However, he had no qualms about involving himself by pushing through an interim law (perpu) to get three new commissioners appointed to the KPK. It would seem that the president is prepared to pick and choose how he exercises his authority in this case while hiding behind constitutional amendments that supposedly limit the president's authority in dealing with matters relevant and important to the development of democracy within the Republic of Indonesia.

The Team of Eight report also recommends that heads should role. So, it will be interesting to see whether in letting the police and the AGO decide whether he lets the Chief of Police and the Attorney General to continue to make a mockery of their respective institutions.

The idea that deponeering this case as an out-of-court settlement is fair is also a backhanded slap to the face of the KPK and to Chandra and Bibit specifically. This is particularly so if the deponeering does not result in a complete withdrawal of the charges and some degree of compensation for the damage the investigation has done to the reputations of Chandra and Bibit to date.

There would need to not only be a deponeering happening here, but a full and unequivocal apology to both the KPK commissioners for the harm done to them. Anything less would be a slap in the face. This would be particularly so considering that the Team of Eight report states that the police and the AGO do not have enough to sustain a charge of abuse of power or extortion.

So, it remains to be seen. What will the president do? Mr. President what will you do?

Megan Fox, Panties, Crotch Shot, and Criticism...

It would seem that there has been much criticism of Megan Fox lately.

But some of the more recent is that she is somewhat "slutty". However, Ms. Fox responds with the charge that the reason her detractors think and talk like that is because she is beautiful and smart.

Nevertheless, I will reserve my judgment for some other day. But, I do post these pictures for your viewing pleasure, and so that you may make a determination for yourself about whether the criticisms are warranted or not.

These photos are classed as outtakes from a recent photo shoot she did for the New York Times (NYT) Magazine.

Justice -- Indonesian Style?

Sometimes there are certain events that just leave you shaking your head and saying, "what were they thinking?"

This is one of those moments. In the grand scheme of all things Indonesian the theft of three pods of cacao beans would seemingly rank fairly lowly on the justice meter. This is especially so considering the current turmoil engulfing Indonesia's law enforcement agencies and government with respect to the KPK vs. the police and AGO spat, and the developing mess known as the Bank Century scandal. However, it seems that if you steal three beans then justice is swift, but if you attempt to bribe public officials and / or participate in the suspect use of IDR 6.7 trillion then justice might not be so swift.

Now this is a story of Minah, a 55-year-old woman, who lives in Banyumas, and who helped herself to three cacao bean pods from a local plantation. The total value of her huge haul was about IDR 1,500. To give my non-Indonesian readers an idea of value here, that is about USD 0.15 or AUD 0.18. This is hardly the crime of the century, particularly in the Indonesian context.

However, the plantation and the law enforcement agencies in the relevant area decided that this was the perfect crime for making an example and educating the public about criminal activity, and the need to stop crime in its tracks. I am sure that there are many others out there who would find it hard to believe that this is the crime to educate the masses about the ills of criminal activity.

The Law and Human Rights Minister has gone on the record to suggest that this case is an embarrassment to Indonesia and her law enforcement agencies. Specifically, the Minister believes that law enforcers need to embrace humanitarian principles. Indeed they do, but they should not also turn a blind eye to criminal activity. The question is really one of degree, and particularly how this event of theft could have been dealt with in a more appropriate matter.

Ultimately, the District Court at Purwokerto handed down a 45-day suspended sentence. The sentence stipulates that Minah cannot commit a similar criminal offense within three months from the date of conviction. If she does then she will be required to serve her 45-day sentence.

Probably what the Minister should be more concerned about is that Minah represented herself. The law requires that all people appearing before an Indonesian court be given the opportunity to have legal representation. If an individual is incapable of paying for that legal representation, then it is to be provided on a pro bono basis. And, perhaps even more concerning is the assertion that Minah was encouraged to plead guilty to the crime without legal representation present as the prosecutors stated that it would be easier for her and her treatment would be more lenient.

I do not have a problem with the idea of plea bargaining. However, this needs to be done in a manner that people who have no experience of the legal system are not rail-roaded into making confessions in order to see leniency.

A suspended 45-day sentence is a little harsh for what amounts to an IDR 1,500 theft. This could have been easily settled out of court by getting Minah to pay compensation to the value of the seeds taken. The reason she provided to the court as the motivation for her crime was that she wanted to plant the seeds in order to grow her own cacao plants. Assuming this were true, then the plantation firm missed a perfect opportunity to put together a community cacao development program where the company provides seeds to poor locals, and they could have made Minah the first recipient of that community initiative.

Yet, the infinite wisdom of the pencil-pushing corporate types was, "this is a perfect opportunity for us to educate the masses about small-scale theft!" And, I might add, the perfect opportunity to show the community that we are here only to rape and pillage your land, make large profits, and then leave you with nothing, which sounds a little bit like a public relations nightmare.

With cases like Minah's there is little wonder that Indonesians are generally not convinced that the justice system works fairly for all citizens.

22 November 2009

Missing Pets...

For your viewing pleasure (sourced from here)

2012 Movie, Muslims, and Fatwas

When is a film just a film, and when does it become an unbridled insult of a religion, in this case Islam, that requires a fatwa (edict) to be issued warning Muslims not to watch it?

Well, this has seemingly been uncovered in Indonesia. It also highlights how little some Indonesian Muslim scholars follow the news and how narrowly they read in the case of the movie 2012.

2012 is the last year of the Mayan calendar. There have been doomsday predictions floating around for many centuries, Nostradamus has a few of them himself. However, ask a couple of Mayan scholars and experts, and you will soon come to the conclusion that the fact 2012 seems to be a cut-off date is not as evil as it seems with respect to the world ending.

In any event, it is a movie. Movies are designed to entertain, this movie has awesome special effects, and lacks somewhat on a real good plot (supposedly - I have not watched it myself, yet).

However, the very idea of a doomsday movie got the Malang (East Java) and Solo (Central Java) Chapters of the Indonesian Ulama Council (Majelis Ulema Indonesia / MUI) to thinking about how blasphemous the movie is because all good Muslims know that only Allah knows when the world will end. They forgot to add that part that all good rational Muslims also understand that this is a movie, it is not real. And, it is not likely to be the trigger for them to suddenly change their beliefs or to question Islam.

Nevertheless, these Ulamas or scholars thought that the best approach was to issue a fatwa banning Muslims in their constituencies from going to watch the film. To date this has been nothing more than a few talking heads looking for 15 minutes of fame and a few bylines in the papers (and of course the ridicule of most bloggers Muslim and non-Muslim alike). In any event, a fatwa seems unlikely.

It is worth noting that one of the key features of the movie is the scene that does not appear. The film does not show Mecca the destruction of Mecca or any other religious symbols of Islam. The director omitted the destruction of these things in order to avoid a fatwa being issued against the film.

It certainly is one of those shake your head moments where you find yourself giggling to yourself wondering if these gentlemen are for real. It would be better use of their time to be focusing on issues that have real meaning to people throughout Indonesia. For example, how about a fatwa on the prohibition of men marrying children? Or a fatwa on perils of corruption? There are so many more important things happening in Indonesia and the world compared to a Hollywood film exploring what doomsday might look like.

I have plans that go past 2012. Do you?