30 June 2009

Sri Mulyani Indrawti -- Governor of the Indonesian Central Bank?

Politics in Indonesia is a strange animal and even stranger are the motivations of those that play. The latest rumor or perhaps a little more than rumor now that the incumbent president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or SBY to his friends, has said that he is considering it, is the selection of Sri Mulyani Indrawati (photo) as the prospective Governor of Bank Indonesia (Indonesia's Central Bank).

Sri Mulyani is one of SBY's best performing Ministers, if not his best performing Minister. She holds the Finance Portfolio and since the former Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs, Boediono, was appointed to Bank Indonesia, she has held that portfolio as well.

She is a world class reformer and has made significant inroads into reforming the bureaucracy. She is generally considered to have been successful in her role and been a driving force in cleaning up her department.

Why is it that her appointment to Bank Indonesia is problematic when Bank Indonesia is also an institution that could benefit from her reforming ways? Well, the move reeks of marginalizing the competition and a real shaker and mover on the agenda of reform. A move to Bank Indonesia takes Sri Mulyani out of the majority of the policy areas that she has been so intimate and successful in to date. Almost certainly leading to a waning of her influence in real and broad reforms.

The move is a backward step for those interested in the bureaucratic reform of government. This is not to say that there are not worthy candidates to replace her, there are. This is a backward step because whoever replaces her would have to work twice as hard to develop the gravitas she has acquired during her time in the position. If SBY, and Boediono, are serious then the most sensible move would be, assuming SBY and Boediono win the presidency and vice-presidency, is to make Sri Mulyani the Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs in the next SBY Government.

There is little doubt that Sri Mulyani would be appointed to the position of Governor of Bank Indonesia if she were proposed as a candidate. Her confirmation through the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) would not likely encounter much resistance, if any.

Swine Flu, Tourists, Face Masks, and Indonesia

The Minister of Health (and Conspiracy Theories and Other Crazy Ideas) has decided that all tourists from swine flu affected countries must where face masks for the first three days after their arrival in Indonesia. It seems that the fact that 50% of the eight cases of swine flu or the A(H1N1) virus confirmed in Indonesia has tipped the scales in favour of all foreigners from all swine flu affected countries being required to don the face masks. This is presumably even the case if the incoming tourist successfully negotiates the thermal scanner (photo).

According to the Minister, this is a precautionary measure in order to prevent human-to-human transmission. Yep, I can see it now, the tourists from swine flu affected countries in the late night entertainment areas of Legian and Kuta painting the town red in their designer face masks. The question though is really one of enforcement. And, as the Minister of Conspiracy Theories points out, it is going to be a little hard to enforce the requirement for people wanting to go swimming, or perhaps eating, or drinking, or myriad of other pursuits that would undoubtedly be hampered by the mask.

The government recognizes that if it were to jump up and down in order to show that it was serious about this, then there could be a spanner thrown into the works of the slow but sure recovery of the tourism industry in places like Bali. Hence, there is no penalty if people choose not to wear the mask after they are given it at the airport.

This begs the question, "Why bother?"

This is especially so when the new "policy" is still unfunded and the Department of Health is still trying to ascertain where the funds are coming from to buy the masks that are going to be handed out for free. The true Indonesian entrepreneurial spirit would have been to tag an extra USD 5 on each visa on arrival to cover the cost of the mask. Let's face it, it is still cheaper to pay the fiver than it is to stand on principle and turn around and board the next flight back to wherever it is that you came from.

This brilliant policy initiative came out of a meeting chaired by the Coordinating Minister of His Own Family's Welfare (oops Peoples' Welfare), Aburizal Bakrie, who said the funds would be made available for the purchase of the masks.

This also begs a question, "Aren't there more important matters that require immediate funding?" It also possibly begs a second question, "When does the Minister think that his family companies and the government will get around to finalizing the Lapindo matter, particularly the outstanding payments to those affected by that disaster?"

Funnily enough, the Health Minister has indicated that she is particularly concerned by the huge numbers of Australian tourists that invade Bali annually. I noted in my previous post on swine flu that it was a perfect scenario for the doomsdayers, conspiracy theorists, and Commission I of the DPR to ratchet up the idea that swine flu was another attempt by foreigners to covertly usurp Indonesian sovereignty through the spread of disease.

This really is a case for the "Why Bother?" files. It is such a waste of money, particularly when the money can be better spent elsewhere.

Michael Jackson -- No Rest in Peace, Yet...

How messy is the carve up of the legacy of Michael Jackson going to be?

News starting to circulate includes a leaked autopsy report that suggests Jackson was nothing more than a skeleton whose stomach contents contained nothing more than pills. The rest of the autopsy report suggests that Jackson was bald, his body was riddled with needle marks from painkilling injections, and that his body bore the scars of at least 13 cosmetic operations.

The past few days have also seen Jackson's former wife, Deborah Rowe, and at one time mother of his children, Prince and Paris, come out with a statement that the children are not even his. The story being that she was artificially inseminated by an unknown donor.

You have to feel for the kids.

This is undoubtedly just the tip of the iceberg.

Manohara Odelia Pinot -- Part XI --The Kelantan Palace Comments

The Kelantan Palace has finally issued an official comment to Bernama that the marriage problems and legal issues surrounding the marriage of Tengku Temenggong Muhammad Fakhry and Manohara Odelia Pinot (photo) are personal matters.

This is indeed true. Nevertheless, the are also public matters. The physical abuse of a spouse is not a personal matter, but a criminal one. It is also fair to say that there is little doubt that there are some ramifications for the palace if there is an investigation going forward because the prince is not the only one named in the criminal complaint.

This case has certainly faded from the public consciousness, I guess the death of Michael Jackson will do that, however the issues still remain unresolved.

Oh well, life goes on for the rest of us.

BlackBerry In Indonesia

This is something that was written in conjunction with a work colleague and has been published at the English language version of hukumonline.

Research In Motion (RIM), the Canadian company that developed the BlackBerry smartphone, has been informed by the Department of Communication and Information that any new handsets released will not be permitted as imports to Indonesia or approved for sale. This ban has been in place since 2 June 2009.

This decision was issued through the press release of the Department of Communication and Information, namely: No. 123/PIH/KOMINFO/6/2009. It must be noted that existing BlackBerry smartphones and stocks remain legal and the government has explicitly stated that it does not intend to ban existing BlackBerry services.

The basic premise of the prohibition is simply that RIM has not established any after sales service center for BlackBerry owners in Indonesia. It is estimated that there are some one million BlackBerry users in Indonesia. The establishment of an after sales service center is mandated in the Minister of Communication and Information Regulation No. 29/PER/M.KOMINFO/09/2008 on Certification of Telecommunication Tools and Equipment.

Therefore, any failure to comply with the after sales requirement permits the Department to reject any application submitted by the product owner. In essence, this is what the Department has done; it has simply rejected all RIM requests for departmental approval for new BlackBerry smartphone handsets

Interestingly, the Minister of Communication and Information is not authorized to ban the import of goods to Indonesia. However, authorized or not, sans the requisite certification from the Directorate General of Post and Telecommunications of the Department of Communication and Information, any importers, including RIM, are consequently unable to import the BlackBerry to Indonesia.

The above is true because under the National Single Window system the Directorate General of Custom and Excise of the Department of Finance can only approve imports of telecommunication products that have the Directorate General of Post and Telecommunication certification.

The decision is not to be seen as a means of prohibiting the purchase or usage of BlackBerry smartphones. As noted earlier, all existing BlackBerry smartphones and services will remain as they are. The decision only affects the import and release of new models into the Indonesian market. This is clearly the point the Department is making in its latest press release, No. 141/PIH/KOMINFO/6/2009.

It seems that the government is willing to play hardball with RIM with respect to the establishment of an after sales service center. The Department’s view is that the existing BlackBerry user base in Indonesia justifies an after sales service center, particularly as the number of users would only grow with the release of new handsets.

Finally, the Department and the government have already characterized this as a consumer protection issue. Specifically, they are enforcing the provisions of Law No. 8 of 1999 to ensure that Indonesian consumers enjoy their rights with respect to BlackBerry equipment.

The ball is clearly in RIM’s court.

Michael Jackson -- A Music and Cultural Icon

There is little doubt, at least in my mind, that Michael Jackson was a musical genius. His eccentricities must not detract from this genius. There might always be question marks about some of his personal decisions and the manner in which he lived his life, but talent is talent and that deserves to be recognized.

I attach a video of the Michael Jackson singing one of his signature songs, The Man in the Mirror. If there was any need to see why there has been such an outpouring of grief the world over, then this is it. Just sitting back and watching the behaviour and reactions of the fans that attended his concerts sometimes beggars belief.

I liked the music. It was something that I grew up with and something that will be part of me forever. I think we all have songs that we claim ownership over in the sense that this one particular song coincides with a defining or important moment in making us who we are or pushes us in a particular direction, something that touches our innermost soul and being.

The Man in the Mirror is a song that does this for me.


28 June 2009

Justitia -- Lady Justice

Justitia or Lady Justice (photo from here) as she is sometimes called represents the power of the courts (through her sword), the need to balance competing interests (scales), and the equality of law (through her blindfold). Lady Justice has not always worn a blindfold.

However, despite the ideals that Justitia aspires to, it is interesting to contrast this with the writings of Anacharsis (Scythian - Ancient Iranian) in the 6th Century BC, who wrote:

Written laws are like spider's webs; they will catch, it is true, the weak and the poor, but would be torn in pieces by the rich and powerful.

(Plutarch Parallel Lives 'Solon' bk. 5, sect. 2. Cf. 319:19)

The interesting issue for me relates to my previous post on Prita Mulyasari and whether justice is really blind to those events that unfold around it?

Maybe it is time for me to get back into the practice of law...

Interesting Fact...

Indonesia has the most known mammal species of all countries in the world. Unfortunately, it also has the most mammal species under threat of extinction.

Trivia -- Interesting Facts...

It has been a while since I posted some interesting, or not, piece of trivia. Generally, these tid bits are only every going to be useful in games like trivial pursuit or Jeopardy or maybe Who Wants to be a Millionaire. But, they are fun.

Did you know any of the following:

1. That each year insects eat one third of the world's food crop;

2. That human thighbones are as strong as concrete;

3. That apples, not caffeine are better at waking you up in the morning;

4. That the evidence of a bloodhound is admissible in an American court of law;

5. That a raisin in a glass of champagne will float to the top and then sink to the bottom over and over again;

6. That the average human body contains enough iron to make a 7.62cm nail;

7. That bulletproof vests, fire escapes, laser printers, and windscreen wipers were all invented by women;

8. That the first known contraceptive was crocodile dung, and was used by Egyptians as early as 2000 BC;


9. That the human brain generates more electrical impulses in a day than all of the world's telephones combined.


27 June 2009

Defamation in Indonesia -- The Prita Mulyasari Case

This is an interesting case for a number of reasons, but it has become infinitely more interesting now that the Tangerang District Court has handed down its decision on the merits of the case. In essence, the Court has thrown the case out based on the legal reasoning that the law under which Prita was charged has not come into force. This means that the indictment was invalid and the allegations charged on ineffective legal provisions.

There has been much discussion about the legitimacy of the judiciary with respect to the quality of the judges being permitted to sit on the bench. These discussion generally call for immediate reform and a cleaning of the slate. The idea being one where all of the "dead wood" would be swept away and only quality timber would remain. This decision is sure to re-ignite the judicial reform debate, if the debate needs any re-igniting.

A really brief background of the Prita (photo here) case is as follows. Prita went to the Omni International Hospital for treatment. Prita was unhappy with the treatment and wrote to a friend expressing her disappointment and horror at how she was treated. This written account found its way to a mailing list, and the rest is history so to speak, as the account spread like wildfire. Eventually, Omni found out about the claims and sued Prita for defamation.

Defamation in Indonesia is both a civil and criminal offense. The civil case was heard before the criminal case (which has just been thrown out). In the civil case, Omni won a decision against Prita for the defamation. The Court in the civil case ordered Prita to pay damages to Omni to the tune of IDR 312 million. The Office of the Public Prosecutor in Tangerang decided that it was going to pursue the criminal defamation complaint as well and then had Prita placed in the Tangerang prison while awaiting trial.

Indonesia has been in a rather lengthy debate as to whether a democracy such as Indonesia should even have criminal defamation laws on the Statute Books. However, this really is not the issue, as there are democracies elsewhere that have criminal defamation laws on their statute books but also restrictive definitions as to what can be subject to a criminal defamation prosecution.

So, within this framework, the jailing of a mother of two, where one of those children is a breast-feeding infant was sure to cause public outrage. Even better still was that this is an election year, and with a presidential election in early July, this was the perfect time for some political grandstanding. Prita was eventually released from prison after some intervention from at least two of the three presidential candidates; Jusuf Kalla and Megawati Soekarnoputri are never ones to miss an opportunity.

There were even some harsh words from the Attorney General suggesting that the public prosecutors had over-stepped the mark. There was at the time the sense that perhaps the hospital had lobbied hard for the prosecutors to make a move on the criminal defamation and proceed against Prita.

Probably more interesting still was the public response that pre-empted, and perhaps even prompted, the political response and ultimate release of Prita from prison. Cyber space swung into full force and within next to no time there were groups dedicated to Prita's cause and a campaign for her release. The ease and the size of the campaign and are testament to Indonesia's online community and their ability to get organized fast.

Now comes the truly interesting part. I am all for judges who are a little bit activist and judges who are creative and novel in how they approach the law. Yet, there are those times where you simply just have to shake your head and say, "what were they thinking?" This is one of those cases.

For the record, I do not think Prita should have been put in jail pending the criminal defamation trial. The reason I had avoided writing on this subject is that from a strict legal interpretation sense the criminal provisions with respect to defamation are not absolute and there are at least three identifiable get out of defamation free cards; the statements were in the public interest, the statements were uttered in self-defense, and the statements are not defamation but the truth.

It is worth noting that the Constitutional Court has heard arguments on defamation and has held that the criminal defamation provisions are not a breach of the constitutionally guaranteed rights if Indonesian citizens. The Court has also held that any more recent legislation on defamation is to be read in conjunction with any other law or regulation that purports to govern the substantive matter of the allegation. Specifically, this means that the Law on Information and Electronic Transactions (Law No. 11 of 2008), and in particular Article 27, must be read in conjunction with the Indonesian Criminal Code (Kitab Undang-undang Hukum Pidana / KUHP).

Defamation in Indonesia generally requires the insulting of one's honour or reputation. It would seem that Prita's statements to others would in a broad sense fit into this definition. Prita's defense against the allegation would be one or more of the exceptions noted earlier. Most likely here would be the public interest and that the statements are true.

The Tangerang District Court has however decided that Law No. 11 of 2008, which was enacted on 21 April 2008, does not come into force until 21 April 2010. Therefore, by the court's reasoning, the law is not officially in force and people cannot be charged under any provisions that it contains.

This is simply wrong. But, let's examine the rationale. The court relies on Article 54(2), which states the following:

All Government Regulations must be confirmed no later than two years after the enactment of this Law.

The court has therefore held that while there are pending subsidiary legislation to be confirmed the primary law is not in force.

However, this must be contrasted against Article 54(1) of the same Law, which states the following:

This Law comes into force on the date of its enactment.

Clearly, the primary law is in force according to the provisions of the law itself.

The judges have erred in their judgment on the merits of the legal basis of the case. The Office of the Public Prosecutor must appeal this case. The grounds for appeal are that the court has made a mistake of interpretation. Furthermore, the Article on which the Prita case is based, Article 27 of Law No. 11 of 2008, does not require any subsidiary legislation to be confirmed in order to be effective.

The impact of the decision is far-reaching in that all laws that have seen people charged, convicted, and detained based on a primary law where there was pending subsidiary legislation now have cause to go back and revisit the legal foundations of those cases. Lawyers in all pending cases need to look at whether there is a similar provision in the primary laws under which they have clients charged, as if there is pending subsidiary legislation then there are arguments to be made that the primary law is not in force.

There are also some serious questions to be asked where public prosecutors have brought cases to trial based on electronic evidence as defined in Law No. 11 of 2008. The serious questions here include, "if the law is not in force, then can the electronic evidence derived under its definitions be valid?"

Going forward the impact on legislators and drafters is that if they want a law to come into immediate force then the primary law must contain all the necessary provisions or primary laws must be submitted as a package deal with all the subsidiary legislation already prepared.

The decision needs to be overturned on appeal, if for no other reason, just to ensure legal certainty of legislation. The legal rationale and reasoning of the Tangerang District Court is wrong. It is unclear whether they were swayed by public opinion or feelings of "it is the right thing to do", but the decision is misguided. An Indonesian account of the decision can be found at Legal Minded by Ari Juliano Gema.

Once again, for the record, I am not for Prita being jailed. However, I am for the rule of law and proper enforcement of the law, and for all people to be treated equally under the law. The question of whether Prita has defamed Omni is a different question to the one being discussed here with respect to legal interpretation and the making of laws from the safety of the bench.

This is clearly not in the best interests of Prita (particularly if the case gets overturned on appeal), not in the best interests of Indonesia, and not in the best interests of the law.

The appeal is something I will certainly be watching.

26 June 2009

Michael Jackson RIP

This is a story of talent, triumph, tragedy, and potential.

The death of Michael Jackson at 50 is tragic. It brings to end an unbelievable music career. The man was not without his detractors and not without controversy. However, he has created a legacy that will endure long after his untimely death.

May you find a peace in death that you never seemed to truly find in life.

Michael Jackson (1958 - 2009) Rest in Peace.

24 June 2009

Swine Flu In Indonesia...

It seems that Indonesia has recorded its first cases of swine flu or the H1N1. Both cases have been detected in Bali and it seems that the infected individuals are tourists. At least one of them resides in Australia. This has given Indonesia cause for concern that Australians are bringing swine flu to Indonesia through Bali.

This might be one for the conspiracy theorists and those on the House of Representatives Commission I on Defense, Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Communications and Information, who might be inclined to do a little sabre rattling about how foreign interests are trying to undermine Indonesia.

As you can see, the US President is not taking any chances.

Genital Piercing of Children...

I wonder about this one. I am all for freedom of choice. If someone wants to get a genital piercing or two then that is a decision for them. However, this position presupposes that the person seeking to have their genitals pierced are of legal, age and can in fact consent to having the piercings done. Yet, I have some serious concerns about whether a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old have the capacity to make those decisions for themselves. In a legal sense, they clearly do not.

More to the point, what are two youngsters doing thinking about, and then getting, their genitals pierced. Even more to the point, what are two tattoo artists / piercers thinking when they decided to pierce the genitals of two young girls. This seems to have been opportunistic at best.

The two tattooists / piercers, Mark Andrew Ford and Gregory Alan Ford, 50 and 53-years-old respectively, told the two girls that before the piercings could be done properly the genitals of both would have to be stimulated. This stimulation required the sexual penetration of both the girls. These offenses occurred in 2001 and 2007.

Ultimately, both men pleaded guilty to the sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16.

The Judge, Wendy Wilmoth, described the case as unusual. It was unusual because the sexual penetration of the two young girls was at the girls' request. However, the judge points out that this does not change the fact that neither girl was of an age where she could have legally consented to such sexual activity. And, neither man inquired as to the age of the two when the piercings were requested.

This is the interesting part. The sexual penetration of a child is a very serious criminal offense and should attract a punishment that is commensurate with the seriousness of the crime. Yet, the judge imposed sentences of two years and six months on both men and then suspended those sentences for a full three years. This means that assuming neither man breaches the terms and conditions of their respective sentencing, then they will not see the inside of a jail cell.

I wonder how serious an offense it is to sexually penetrate a child under the age of 16 where the sentence is less than three years and can be wholly suspended?

If you want to know more about genital piercing, then a simple Google search will point you in the right direction (and provide you with some graphic examples of the practice). Or, if you are really interested in piercing then you might want to inquire into purchasing the "Piercing Bible". It is unlike any other bible I have seen! (I should add here that there is no deal in place with the publisher to promote this bible. Besides if the publisher saw my visitor stats then I am certain no promotional deal could be struck. My readers, you are loyal but few in number).

Tattoo Regrets -- An Update...

I am not sure that any of you, my dear readers, are following this story, but it is a fun one. Long story short, girl goes to tattoo parlour and gets face tattooed, has regrets, says that she fell asleep and then woke up with 53 more stars than she asked for, admits to telling lies because her dad was a little upset.

Having a look at the picture above, the 56 stars are nothing. She has a really long way to go before she catches up to her artist, Rouslan Toumaniantz.

After initially offering to pay for half of the laser treatments to get the tattoos removed, the artist has decided to withdraw the offer now that Ms. Vlaeminck has confessed to lying about being asleep.

On the positive side for the artist, this is pretty good free publicity. But, it has prompted a change in procedure as the artist is now going to ensure that he gets the written consent of all his clients before any inking takes place.

22 June 2009

Privacy Rights...

This particular post reflects neither my interest in all things Australian or Indonesian. However, there are interesting parallels between things happening in Bozeman, Montana, and Australia and Indonesia as this post relates to privacy, rights, and civil liberties.

It seems that the city of Bozeman in their standard job application form is asking for prospective employees to divulge their passwords to myriad of sites and accounts that they may hold. This includes your standard Facebook and other social networking sites like MySpace, and it also includes sites such as Google, You Tube, and Yahoo as well.

Now, according to the city, the failure to provide these passwords is not going to draw a negative inference on your application and nor will it preclude you from the advertised position. The city intends to use your passwords as a means of verifying the information that you provided in your application. I wonder whatever happened to calling an applicant's referees?

I guess I would not be getting a job in Bozeman anytime soon if this policy is continued. As a matter of principle I would not be supplying my passwords to anyone. Most civil libertarians are up in arms that this is a clear invasion of one's right to privacy. However, this is also an issue that relates to identity theft. Just about everyone that requires you to have a password unequivocally states that under no circumstances should you give your password to others. This is generally to ensure that your identity cannot be stolen and used by others.

One of the rationale being proffered is that it is reasonable that if a person has a public profile that an employer has a right to check it out. I agree, if a prospective employee has a public profile listed somewhere then there is no reason why a prospective employer cannot go and check it out. I would have no problems with a prospective employer reading my Facebook profile or my blog. However, I would object to the idea that they would need my passwords to get into the inner sanctum of my Facebook account or blog. Those parts are not part of the public profile or the public record and as such access to them by a prospective employer is an unreasonable request.

The idea that an employer has this right to this level of access to the personal information that the divulging of these type of passwords provides begs the question, "would an employer be comfortable with a prospective employee having the same degree and level of access to company, corporate, and management information in order to make a decision about whether to apply to work for the company?"

Next we will be hearing that we have to supply this information in order that employers can make certain they are not employing terrorists or other "undesirables".

I guess my point is, once you start on this slippery slope of openness or transparency, where does it stop?

21 June 2009

The Origins of Cewek...

I almost became a linguist once. I even started taking courses in it as part of my first undergraduate degree. But, then life took a slightly different course and my university studies followed suit.

Cewek is a colloquial term for a woman. It is mostly used with younger women and girls. It is most prevalent in the Betawi culture / language. The Betawi people are mix of most of Indonesia's many ethnic cultures that migrated to Jakarta and made Jakarta their home. Over the centuries there are definite Chinese, Arab, and even Dutch bloodlines in the Betawi.

However, it is the Hokkien dialect that seems most likely to be responsible for the word cewek. In the Hokkien dialect there exists the word ciwe, which is the word for the female genitals, and it is suspected that over time this came to be the basis of the word cewek. (There is probably a post to be made here about the inherent racist nature of the word bule and how it has evolved over time...nah)

If this is linguistically correct I wonder how many women are comfortable being called female genitals, such as in the phrase, "Hey cewek!"

Sydney Lifts Water Restrictions

With enough rain the current water restrictions were always going to be lifted. It was really only a matter of time. The current water restrictions are to be lifted at midnight tonight. What this means is that Sydney residents can again use hoses and sprinklers (photo) every day before 10.00 and every day after 16.00.

These times are not absolute in the sense that if it is a really hot day then sprinklers can be on to allow children to cool off.

There are other specific rules in place such as hoses must be fitted with a trigger nozzle if they are going to be used to wash cars. It seems like I will be making a trip to the hardware store to buy a trigger nozzle.

However, I am not planning on watering the garden for a couple of days considering the previous two days have been nothing but rain. The garden is pretty wet already.

20 June 2009

He Ain't Heavy, He's Brother...

This is one of my all-time favourite songs. I am sure many others enjoy it as one of their all-time favourites too. The song, at least for me, challenges us to consider what is important to us and what we are prepared to sacrifice of ourselves for others or for a greater good.

The history of the song title is also interesting and, if true, inspiring. The title is the same as the motto for Boys Town.


The Singing President -- All The Way With SBY

I wonder if things are getting desperate in the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (or SBY as he is affectionately known) camp. It seems on a recent campaign stop the big announcements of a policy nature have been overtaken by the public performance of the President's new song. The song, "Is There?", was performed by Indonesian Idol winner Joy Tobing to a receptive crowd of about 3,000 in Pekanbaru, Riau.

I always figured that a president would be too busy to be promoting a new song when he could be doing the things that presidents do when they are being presidents. Or, in an election cycle, campaigning on the substantive issues of what he might be wanting to accomplish should the people see fit to give him another term in office.

Indonesian campaign events often include, or is it always includes, celebrities. Therefore, why should anyone be surprised when the biggest celebrity of them all is the current president himself (photo courtesy of Kompas and Kristianto Purnomo).

17 June 2009

Yusuf Islam

Cat Stevens is one of my favourite artists, and he did not stop being a favourite when he became Yusuf Islam.

Here is a clip of Yusuf Islam singing one of the all time greatest Cat Stevens songs, Father and Son.


Manohara Odelia Pinot -- Part X -- Stirring the Pot

I am certain that I am giving more attention to this story than it deserves, but it is interesting to observe the lives of the rich and famous from a safe distance. I have also been wondering how I might work the case if I had been tapped to be one of the lawyers (from either side). The gossip that surrounds this case and the unusual nature of how it is playing out post abuse is also interesting. However, the interesting parts also travel back in time to a period when young Manohara was nothing more than a wanna be model and an avid social climber willing to do whatever it takes to be one of the beautiful people that us mere mortals view in magazines like Indonesian Tatler.

I am not going to focus on Manohara's early life (perhaps if I ever find anything out about that I can make a post on that too), but rather her emergence as the girlfriend of Anindra Ardiansyah Bakrie or Ardi as he is known to his friends (photo courtesy of here). This relationship has been acknowledged by all, supposedly, and evidence of it exists in the pages of some of Indonesia's glossier magazines. This relationship (or was it just a friendship?) was ongoing in 2008 and up to at least the time Manohara's mother gave her approval for Manohara to marry the Prince.

What is interesting to me is not that the girl is 16-years-old and dating, but rather her mother has approved her dating a man some 13 years her senior. By all definitions she is a child. We are not talking about a situation where the age difference is between a woman of 37 and a man of 50. For me, in that scenario, they are both adults and can make the decision if they so desire. This brings me to my point of avid social climbers willing to do anything to get their mugs in the glossy mags. I am also wondering what interested a successful son of a billionaire to start dating a child? In any event Ardi has moved on and is now dating the 18-year-old Nia Ramadhani.

What would be more interesting is to wonder whether or not the relationship was sexual as this would open up a whole new Pandora's Box of possibilities.

After the failure of her relationship with Ardi, Manohara moved on with her mother's blessing to marry Tengku Temenggong Mohammad Fakhry, the Prince of Kelantan State. It sounds all like a fairy tale to me; moving on from the son of a rich man to marry a prince. I am sure that someone out there would think this to be social climbing. Others might think she just got lucky, like a young Australian woman from Tasmania who met and married a prince who also happens to be the future King of Denmark.

The wedding snaps of Manohara's nuptials with the prince show a pretty happy looking young girl (or should I call her a woman?). Manohara seems to have been accepted into the royal family and was granted title. Seems to be the real fairy tale so far. However, what happens next is pretty much well-documented in all manner of places, including at http://toughlane.blogspot.com/ which is a blog titles Truth Appeared and seems to be Malaysian in origin (interesting read).

The filing of the complaints in the respective jurisdictions of the parties has been discussed in an earlier post. However, it would seem that both Manohara and her mother, Daisy Fajarina, could do jail time if they were to be found guilty or fined.

I have read that Daisy Fajarina is subject to an 18-month jail term in France. It would appear that luckily for her Indonesia and France do not have an extradition treaty. However, if the Indonesian government is serious in taking up Manohara's case then it goes without saying that it would then be under pressure to extradite Daisy, with or without an extradition treaty in place. Simply, if you are going to take a stand on one then you will have to take a stand on both.

The final point I want to make in terms of stirring the pot is this; it has taken no time at all for Manohara to re-enter the Jakarta social scene. It has also taken no time for Daisy to milk this alleged abuse for all it is worth. The question is this, "what should be read into this post-abuse behaviour, if anything?" I suppose we each deal with trauma in our own way, and I am guessing that this is taking the idea of "if you fall of the horse then the best option is to get straight back on".

However, there is a part of my brain saying that the best course of action for a 17-year-old who has been subject to rape, physical abuse, kidnapping, and who knows what else, is to take some time out of the spotlight and get some professional help in order to process the things that have allegedly happened to her. Because, if the allegations are true, then this has been no fairy tale.

Tattoo Regrets?

Getting a tattoo is usually quite the experience, and for some it is one they might live to regret. However, in Belgium the case for regret might be not only extreme but somewhat expensive to reverse.

A Belgian teenager managed to get half of her face tattooed with 56 black stars. Kimberley Vlaeminck (photo courtesy of here), who is 18, claims that she went to a popular tattoo parlour and asked for three little stars. To avoid the pain, she claims she went to sleep. But, when she woke up she found that the tattoo artist was starting on her nose and had already inked onto the left side of her face some 56 stars.

The woman has decided to sue the tattoo parlour and the artist, Rouslan Tomaniantz, according to the Flemish Daily, Het Laaste Nieuws, because the tattoo is not what she wanted and she is now too embarrassed to head out of her house.

I have a few tattoos myself, and I have got to say that during the process of being tattooed, sleep was the furthest thing from my mind at the time. I am proud to say none of my tattoos were inked while I was drunk and I have no regrets on any of them. Each has significance to me and were inked for particular reasons and at particular times.

That said, I just cannot see how one could sleep during the process of getting a facial tattoo and more specifically, getting 56 stars inked on your face.

This seems to be more like a girl thinking a facial tattoo would be cool and getting one done. Then, she goes home and the parents, or the husband, or the friends, blow a gasket and there are some immediate regrets.

The thing with tattoos is that they are so much more expensive to get removed than they ever are to get inked on in the first place.

16 June 2009

Sex Discrimination -- Sexy Uniforms at the Rocket Bar

Above is the Facebook picture and below is the offending dress.

It is interesting how news is written.

A young Bosnian Muslim woman who managed to get herself a job at the Rocket Bar in Mayfair and then quit after just eight days has won a £3,000 damages payout because she was made to wear a figure hugging red dress. According to the woman, Fata Lemes (photos courtesy of here), the dress made her feel like a prostitute.

It seems that the Rocket Bar has two uniforms; a summer one and a winter one. The winter one being a loose-fitting black deal and the summer one being the offending red dress that was the subject of the claim. Lemes was so concerned about the look of the dress that she could not bring herself to where it for a shift. However, she had no qualms about getting a picture in it.

The interesting part is that she is reported to have said: "I was brought up a Muslim and am not used to wearing sexually attractive clothes. I might as well be naked in that dress." I guess the key words here are "am not used to wearing" because that must be construed to mean, it is uncommon for me but I have been known to wear the odd sexy outfit.

The social networking phenomenon that is Facebook means that if you are on it then someone somewhere will know who you are and be privy to what you have posted on Facebook. This is the case for Lemes, who has posted pictures of herself wearing clothes that seem far more revealing than the red dress.

Now, for the interesting news bit. The Central London Employment Tribunal rejected her claim for £17,500 as 'manifestly absurd', and was explicit in stating that the dress was not revealing or indecent. However, they did make an award to her based on sexual discrimination in the work place. It seems that the Rocket Bar did not make their male employees where an alternate uniform in the summer months.

Is there a lesson in all of this? Yes, make sure that your male and female employees are treated equally across the board, at least in terms of uniforms.

NSW Schools and Bilingual Education

When something sounds too good to be true then it really is, don't you think?

The NSW government has indicated that it is going to fund a four-year project to the tune of AUD 2.25 million that seeks to introduce bilingual education into NSW schools. The idea is an excellent one. Simply, if Australia is going to be competitive in the future it needs leaders and business people who are capable in languages other than English. Considering, our geographic location in Asia, then it makes sense that the focus be on Asian languages.

The beef though, is that AUD 2.25 million hardly seems a sufficient investment into the future of language education let alone as an investment into bilingual education. The project is going to initially target four schools. So, the simple math here is that there will be a little over AUD 550,000 per school, which then equates to about AUD 135,000 per year. This is not a lot of cash considering that specialist teachers will need to be employed and the schools set up to be able to teach a bilingual curriculum.

The schools who want to be a part of the project will need to apply and show that they are capable of running a bilingual curriculum. At least, this is what the NSW Minister of Education is saying. The government's view seems to be that our future economic prosperity depends on it. Perhaps they are right, particularly when one considers that the NSW Treasurer is about to hand down a state budget that has some AUD 900 million in deficit factored into it.

The focus languages are going to be Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, and Indonesian. The bilingual curriculum is to be taught by native speakers. These native speakers will also need to hold teaching qualifications.

The bilingual curriculum will start in kindergarten and be about 90 minutes in length. As students progress through the grades this amount of time will be increased as will the number of subjects that are being taught in the second language.

It goes without saying that one of the keys to learning a language is starting young and keeping at it until you master the intricacies of the language. These intricacies are not only technical, such as grammar, but also the use of a language in its natural setting where grammar rules might be more relaxed.

Hopefully, the NSW government will see in its infinite wisdom to get more serious about this project and allocate a considerably larger sum to ensuring its success.

(picture can be found here. The picture highlights that the bilingual debate is one prevalent throughout Australia)

14 June 2009

Manohara Odelia Pinot -- Part IX -- Let The Games Begin

Now, that both parties have filed their respective complaints in their respective jurisdictions, it is time for the fun and games to begin.

As I have been saying all along, this is a simple "she said, he said" scenario that is going to require the testimony of someone other than Manohara (photo courtesy of here) or the prince to testify to what they know. This is a distinct possibility judging by the number of people named in Manohara's complaint.

Nevertheless, Daisy Fajarina, Manohara's mother, has been vocal in claiming that they have more than enough proof to sustain their claims and prove the allegations against the prince. If this is the case, and I was their lawyer, I would be encouraging them to file a criminal complaint in Malaysia as well. Although these are serious allegations, they are not extraordinary crimes and as such are not subject to international legal principles such as universal jurisdiction or erga omnes obligations to prosecute or extradite. So, pursuing the prince through the Malaysian courts would be the best option.

This though might be settled out of court and the prince's filing of a complaint might be a bluff that he is prepared to fight these allegations to the bitter end. Simply, trying to indicate that he is more confident than he really is. That said, maybe his confidence is justified if he really did not perpetrate the conduct being alleged. This won't be known until the process gets into full swing.

I guess abuse is more serious when it is perpetrated against one of your own than it is when you are the perpetrator against someone else.

More Will...

A handsome looking kid (if I do say so myself)!

13 June 2009

Will at Six and a bit Months...

These photos are posted for anyone who is interested in seeing how young Will is growing.

Jenna Jameson, Tito Ortiz, and the Twins

This is old news and truth be told I have not been following the film career of Jenna Jameson or the Mixed Martial Arts career of Tito Ortiz. However, I was watching the Celebrity Apprentice and Tito Ortiz was on that. This prompted a Google search and that was the pre-cursor to this post.

For those of you that have been living under a rock, like me, Jenna Jameson is a porn star. I am told that she is pretty good at what she does. I am not a connoisseur of porn so I cannot really comment on whether she is a good actor. I will defer to people with more experience in this field than I to pass comment.

I do not pass judgment on Jenna Jameson or her profession. I am actually supportive of a person's right to choose to appear in adult films. For those moralists out there, then perhaps it is worth considering the not so simple supply and demand arguments. What comes first in this equation, the supply or the demand? Particularly before one gets into what God thinks.

Well, Jenna and Tito welcomed twins, boys, into the world in March. Congratulations! My wife and I have one son and at six months he is already a handful. I am guessing that twins will be at least double the challenge.

Anyways, this is not a post about whether porn should be legal or not nor is it about that is morally right. It is a post designed simply to ask one question:

How is she going to answer the question that goes: "so, mummy, what do you do for a living?"

I ask because I was also watching "The Wonder Years" episode where Kevin tags along one day with his dad to his dad's office in an attempt to find out what his old man does to earn a living.

12 June 2009

Manohara Odelia Pinot -- Part VIII -- The Prince Fights Back

I don't know whether this case warrants as much attention as it is getting generally and the attention it is getting from me in particular. Nevertheless, not wanting to wallow in someone else's pain and tragedy, there are intriguing and interesting issues at play in this case and they deserve some attention. These issues have been noted in the earlier posts, I through VII, but now the prince has filed his own complaint with Malaysian police. Does this up the ante or is it just a formality?

I had hinted in earlier posts that I would have expected that the prince, Tengku Temenggong Mohammad Fakhry (photo from here), to take legal action against Manohara and her mother, Daisy Fajarina. I am not Malaysian and therefore do not know where Dang Wangi Police Headquarters are, but this is where the prince filed his complaint according to Mohammad Haziq Pillay, lawyer for the prince.

The contents of the complaint have not been divulged, but an educated guess would be that the substance of the complaint would be that the allegations being made by Manohara and Daisy are false. That is to say, there was no kidnapping, no physical abuse, and no rape. This would be in spite of the forensic reports offered up by doctors stating the injuries sustained by Manohara. So, it would seem that if the allegations are unfounded then this would be a case of defamation or slander.

This now gets interesting as it seems we have two criminal complaints made, one each by the respective parties, in different jurisdictions. Now, the question is obviously, "what next?" Perhaps, each side just keeps fighting this out in the court of public opinion. If this is the case then I would be thinking that the prince is on a hiding to nothing and perhaps should consider settling the claims out of court and both parties move on.

I still do not think that domestic violence cases are best settled out of court with a financial payment, but then again I am not an abuser nor am I a victim. If they settle the case then I am going to have to find something else to write about.

11 June 2009

Robin Tampoe -- One Time Corby Lawyer -- Struck Off

This is Schapelle Corby related news. However, the main subject of this little post is Robin Tampoe; a one-time lawyer for Schapelle Corby.

Robin Tampoe (photo courtesy of here) became involved in the Corby case very early on. He provided pretty bad advice, in my opinion, because his own ego required that he piggy back on this case in order to make a name for himself by using someone else's legal predicament to further his career. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, this has backfired in a big way and has in fact ended his legal career as he has been struck off the role of legal practitioners.

The advice was indicative of someone not knowing the intricacies of the Indonesian legal system and also highlighted a substantial lack of understanding of the substantive law that applies in Indonesia. In this sense, the writing was on the wall for Corby as soon as Tampoe became involved. However, the advice is not the reason for his striking off, but rather his conduct as a lawyer and handling of client information.

It was certainly a Forrest Gump kind of a moment in the type "stupid is as stupid does". Simply, Tampoe came into possession of confidential information which he then divulged to the world on TV. This information related to prior criminal convictions among members of the family. After being dumped from the Corby legal team he then went on to add insult to injury by disparaging them in the documentary, "Schapelle Corby - The Hidden Truth", by calling the family "trash".

The Legal Services Commissioner initiated the action based on an allegation that Tampoe breached client confidentiality. In essence, he failed to uphold the lawyer - client privilege that certain communications are subject to. In a written judgment of Justice Roslyn Atkinson of the Queensland Legal Practice Tribunal, Tampoe was found guilty of professional misconduct. Atkinson then ordered that Tampoe be struck off the roll.

On a side note. It is interesting to see that in the current Manohara case two of Indonesia's senior lawyers, Todung Mulya Lubis and OC Kaligis, have left the legal teams of Prince Tengku Temenggong Mohammad Fakhry and Manohara Odelia Pinot respectively, and then gone on to make some disparaging remarks about their former clients relating to their respective intents to resolve that matter. I wonder, any ethics or professional misconduct issues there?

10 June 2009

UN Sanctions on North Korea...

This is a Claytons post, the post you make when you're not really making a post. To understand the first sentence you will need to be of a similar age to me and have lived in the 1980s and probably in Australia to understand the Claytons reference, but just in case you can find out here. Besides it is time I produced something that was not about Manohara.

It seems that the UN has decided to up the ante on North Korea and expand the sanctions that are imposed on North Korea as response to a nuclear test last month.

There is no doubt that Kim Jong-il is a dictator and there is little doubt that he is responsible for starving his people. However, sanctions are only likely to further exacerbate the suffering of ordinary North Koreans and those less able to cope with further restrictions in the form of broader sanctions. My guess is that Kim and his family won't suffer because of the imposition of further sanctions.

Sanctions did not work in Iraq in terms of toppling another dictator, Saddam Hussein. Sanctions only saw greater suffering endured by the little people. This suffering was so bad that the UN was forced into a food for oil program to try and offset the harm the sanctions were doing to those Iraqis least able to cope.

I wonder is it possible to make an argument that UN sanctions are tantamount to a crime against humanity or a pre-cursor to genocide even though the actions of the UN are sanctioned by the members of that organization?

Just a thought!

Manohara Odelia Pinot -- Part VII -- The Abuse Photos

Depending on what happens on Thursday in this seemingly never-ending news story, I am only intending to write updates on this case if something interesting happens. Interesting in this case means interesting to me. Judging by the sheer volume of news about Manohara and her every move I am guessing that there will be more updates and soon.

The photos (courtesy of Detik by way of Mano herself) of the abuse that was allegedly meted out by the Prince are pretty graphic and include images of what appear to be healed and partially healed razor slashes and cigarette burns.

Viewer discretion advised (that warning should probably come before the photos shouldn't it?).

Manohara Odelia Pinot -- Part VI -- The Demo

You know there just has to be a sixth installment to this saga, and here it is. I should probably warn you that the seventh installment in this series is on the way as well. I still have a long way to go to catch up to Unspun in terms of the number of Manohara related posts. You can check Unspun out here.

For a young woman who has been kidnapped, physically abused, and raped, I am impressed that she has found the time to attend a demonstration at the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta to protest Malaysia's not so secret attempts to get their hands on the Ambalat Block. The demo was organized by Laskar Merah Putih. Manohara (photo courtesy of Detik) and Laskar Merah Putih might seem like strange bedfellows, but I guess whatever keeps you in the news and the front page is plausible.

It is interesting that Mano, which seems to be what the local Indonesian press are calling her, has become very political on her return to the Motherland. According to Mano, "Ambalat absolutely belongs to Indonesia and therefore there is nothing to talk about". Sounds like a plan to me. So, how about these kidnap, abuse, and rape charges now that we have Ambalat squared away in Indonesia's favour?

I have nothing negative to say about Mano or her attendance at the demo. Although, it appears that not everyone was happy with her turning up. As I said in the previous post, just about everything she turns her hand to for the foreseeable future is going to be a bit of a circus.

The Mano saga continues. I wonder what is in store for us on Thursday?

Manohara Odelia Pinot -- Part V -- The Criminal Complaint

The show must go on!

I am not sure that I can make a living out of writing about the comings and goings in the Manohara vs. The Prince case, but it is never short of interesting angles to pursue in the name of justice.

Besides for me the case has just become way more interesting that I know Hotman Paris Hutapea is acting as Manohara's counsel / lawyer. Hotman is one of those lawyers people tend to love or hate. My personal opinion is that he is a fine lawyer and if you have a procedural law problem in a civil law jurisdiction then he is an excellent choice. However, that is it for the free plugs for Hotman.

Besides there are plenty of lawyers who represent celebrities about Jakarta town but there are not many lawyers who are celebrities in their own right. Interestingly, Manohara has two on her case in Hotman and Farhat Abbas. So, there are angles to be explored on that front parallel to the abuse and torture case in which Manohara is alleged to have suffered.

The risk when Hotman is on board in a celebrity matter is that it can become a bit of a circus where the media attention is equally or more important than the actual legal result being sort. Manohara in the company of her layers, at least Hotman, filed a complaint with the Indonesian police on Tuesday (09/06) seeking to have her husband, Tengku Temenggong Mohammad Fakhrya (a Prince from Kelantan State in Malaysia) charged with abusing, raping, and kidnapping her.

The prince is not alone in the complaint as he has been named with seven others. The seven are: Sultan Ismail Petra, Tengku Anis Binti Tengku Abdul Hamid, Captain Zakaria Saleh, Azhari, Muhammad Sobri and his wife, and Ichsan. Hotman has a penchant for grandstanding when it comes to drumming up interest in a particular matter.

So, it goes without saying that he would be telling the assembled journalist how the eight would be dealt with in Indonesia. This treatment would supposedly see each of the individuals named in the criminal complaint jailed for up to 70 years if convicted in an Indonesian court.

The only problem with this is that the crimes occurred in Malaysia and by all accounts need to be tried in Malaysia. Hotman, though, is of the opinion that all eight can be successfully prosecuted under Indonesian law and as such has not bothered to file a criminal complaint in Malaysia. As a lawyer seeking justice for a client, I would want to be covering all available bases and would be filing a criminal complaint in Malaysia irrespective of whether I believed that there was any serious prospects for success.

It is worth noting that there is an extradition treaty in place. Unfortunately, the extradition treaty would seem to preclude crimes committed in Malaysia from being tried in Indonesia. Hence, there is probably good reason to, at least, file a criminal complaint in Malaysia on Manohara's behalf.

According to Hotman the evidence that Manohara is going to present is her body. Apparently, this is sufficient to show how she was "treated" (abused and raped). As I have posted in the previous incarnations of this series of "personal views", the documenting of the injuries and trauma suffered are only half the journey. A successful prosecution will require Hotman and his team to prove that the documented injuries were inflicted by those named in the criminal complaint.

The forensic examination of the alleged abuse has been undertaken at the Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital. This is a good hospital and they are not likely to be subject to any charges of embellishing the forensic examination results. I would be comfortable accepting that the documented injuries and trauma noted in this examination being an accurate reflection of the injuries and trauma present. Once again, this still needs to be attributed to those individuals noted in the criminal complaint.

At the moment much of this case is "she said, he said", although the Prince is not saying all that much at the moment. As I have been saying all along, this is an interesting case. It is not interesting for any ramifications that it supposedly has for bilateral relations between Indonesia and Malaysia, but rather for the interesting legal dilemmas that it gives rise to.

The show must go on. So, this means that there will undoubtedly be a Manohara Odelia Pinot -- Part VI.

Manohara Odelia Pinot -- Part IV -- The Medical

AFP is reporting that Manohara has undergone a medical examination and the doctor / forensic expert, Mun'im Idries, has found slash marks all over her body. Some of the slash marks are reportedly still fresh (I am guessing this means they are not fully healed).

The doctor added that the urine and blood work has not been finalized. The urine and blood work results are needed as a part of the claim made by Manohara was that she was injected with unknown substances. Although, the doctor did say that an injection mark was found on her back. The injection claims are interesting. Manohara alleges that the prince, Tengku temenggong Mohammad Fakhry of Kelantan State, injected her with something that incapacitated her and the injections were given before sexual intercourse was initiated.

The medical reports, as noted in previous parts of this series of posts, are key to proving that there was harm done to her. It still has to be proved that these wounds and other injuries that Manohara has sustained were the result of the actions of the prince or others acting on the prince's orders.

The AFP report is not saying anything about tests related to the rape in marriage allegations. I would have figured in light of the alleged sexual appetite of the prince that a rape kit might have been worthwhile in order to document any injuries. Then again, these might have been done but are not being reported.

It seems that Farhat Abbas, a (in)famous Jakartan lawyer, has taken up her cause. According to Farhat, the medical confirms Manohara's story. I am not so sure that it proves anything other than the fact that Manohara has sustained injuries and suffered trauma. For my mind the allegations still have to be tested in a court of law. In the court of public opinion, perhaps, Farhat is right in his assumption. Furthermore, Farhat has said that Manohara has lodged an official written report with the Indonesian police. This report names not only the prince, but a number of others as well.

What is interesting now is how the case proceeds. The alleged abuse, the accused, and perhaps the majority of the witnesses are located in Malaysia. The ability of the Indonesian police to investigate and prosecute this case seems difficult and remote in all likelihood. The Indonesian police have admitted as much. Abubakar Nataprawira, the National Police Force spokesperson, noted that the police have received the report and will be forwarding it to their Malaysian counterparts for further action.

The plot thickens. I am sure their will be a Manohara Odelia Pinot -- Part V.

Miss Indonesia -- Learning to Speak Indonesian

I would have figured that to become Miss Indonesia that the ability to speak Indonesian, even Indonesian like Cinta Laura's hybrid version, would be a pre-requisite for entry into the competition. However, the crowning of the current Miss Indonesia proves otherwise.

The crowning of Karenina Sunny Halim (sometimes spelt Kerenina) is a interesting one. The young women are always stunningly beautiful, but pageants are supposed to have extended beyond the superficial looks to the judging of the women's skills and contributions to the greater community and not just whether she looks like a knock-out in an evening dress and a swimming costume. There is no doubt that Karenina is a beautiful young woman.

There is also little doubt that she is smart. She holds qualifications in public relations, teaching, performing arts, music, and marketing, among others. There is also little doubt that she does not speak much Indonesian. The question then is whether or not she is the best choice to represent Indonesia on the international stage?

Karenina needed a translator in order to be able to understand the questions from the Indonesian judges of the pageant. This is akin to, let's say, the winner of the Miss Australia pageant requiring a translator to answer the judges' questions in English. I don't know that it would ever happen.

It seems that Karenina is also a little short on the knowledge of Indonesian culture front as well. My guess is that she is in for a crash course in the Indonesian language and the culture of the vast archipelago that is Indonesia.

Nevertheless, I wish her nothing but the best as she represents Indonesia in the Miss World competition to be held in Johannesburg in South Africa.

09 June 2009

Jon Stewart -- "i" on the News

Jon Stewart and the Daily Show may not be every one's cup of tea. However, I read somewhere once that people were getting their news from the Daily Show. I don't know whether that is a good or a bad thing.

I like watching Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. I don't watch to get my news coverage but I do watch it for a good hearty laugh.

Here (for some reason I cannot embed the video - so click on the link to it) is a recent segment that starts with the coverage of Obama's speech to the "Muslim World", and then goes on to critique MSNBC and CNN.


Will There Be A Runoff?

This is probably not the biggest question of the day but nevertheless it is an interesting question for Indonesian politics with charges being leveled at the various surveying agencies involved. The question is whether the incumbent president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or SBY, will win the presidency in one round or two.

The Indonesian Survey Institute (Lembaga Survei Indonesia / LSI) issued survey results last week that suggest that SBY will win in one round as he polled somewhere around 70% support of those who were surveyed. These results were questioned as the survey was commissioned by Fox Indonesia. Fox Indonesia has links to the SBY campaign.

However, it is worth noting that the LSI conducted the survey and not Fox Indonesia. If the claim is that the LSI produced the results that Fox Indonesia wanted, then this brings into question the credibility of LSI. However those claiming that the results lack credibility have offered nothing more than the fact that Fox commissioned the survey.

In contrast to the LSI survey, the Information Research Institute (Lembaga Riset Informasi / LRI) conducted a survey of its own and achieved some very different results. It is clear that the LRI has links to the Kalla - Wiranto campaign through Kalla. The LRI went to some length stating that the survey was not commissioned by the Kalla - Wiranto campaign.

However, these links should not automatically disqualify the survey results obtained. What is interesting is that the Director of LRI, Johan Silalahi, has stated that if SBY wins in one round he would be willing to dissolve the LRI. He then issues a similar challenge to LSI on their credibility if the LSI results are not borne out in the presidential election.

The LRI survey still has SBY in front of the crowd but the difference suggests a two-round election process. The LRI survey results suggest that SBY has about 33% of the vote, Kalla trails on 29%, and Megawati is a somewhat distant third on 20%.

The argument for the difference in these results is that the has been a recent, and obviously rapid, movement of support to Kalla. This is being attributed to Muslims who are uncomfortable with SBY, particularly relating to the wearing of the jilbab and racism. Zulkieflimansyah of PKS (Prosperous Justice Party / Partai Keadilan Sejahtera), one of parties supporting SBY, has suggested that the members and followers of that party might support Kalla as his wife wears the jilbab.

The racism charges stem from the following comment by Ruhut Sitompul, who just happens to be a member of Partai Demokrat (Democratic Party / PD) Central Board (which happens to be SBY's party), "Arabs have never done anything for Indonesia." Reminds me of the film Forrest Gump, stupid is as stupid does. So, Ruhut, don't hold back; tell us what you think of Indonesians of Chinese, Indian, or Dutch descent.

So, who is right with these surveys? I suppose we will find out on 8 July 2009 when the presidential election is to be held. In the big scheme of things, and surveys aside, it would be interesting to hear and read what the actual policies of each of the candidate pairings are as this might be a little more relevant to the future of Indonesia.

Indonesian politics, lovin' it!

Child Abuse Material -- Australia to Set a Precedent

It seems that this is a perfect test case to to determine the reach of child abuse legislation as it relates to the uploading / downloading, publishing, and sharing of child abuse material. More specifically, the case also has the potential to establish exactly what kind of material can be classified as child abuse material for the purposes of sustaining a charge of publishing and sharing such materials online.

I have written about this case before, here. The case of Chris Illingworth is set for a committal hearing in Maroochydore Magistrates Court on 8 July 2009. The purpose of a committal hearing is to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial. Essentially, whether there is enough being put forward by the prosecution regarding guilt that a jury could make a determination as to the guilt or innocence of the accused.

What is interesting is that he has hired a silk (a term given to barristers who have been appointed Queen's Counsel / QC or Senior Counsel / SC) as this is unusual for a case like this and at this stage.

This suggests that the big guns (this is not to suggest that there are not solicitors out there who could not do the job) are being brought in at the start of the legal process, and rightly so, as this is a case where the implications extend way beyond the case itself. If the prosecution gets up in the Magistrates Court, then the definition of what constitutes child abuse material is considerably broader than what many had considered it to be previously.

The charges that Illingworth is facing could see him sent to prison for a maximum of ten years for each of the two charges that he is facing.

The offending video shows a Russian circus performer tossing his child around. The video does not show that the child has been harmed and in fact the child does not seem too bothered by the treatment and seems to enjoy it. Now, would I throw and swing my my son around, probably not at the moment seeing he is only just a touch over six months old.

However, I remember when I was a kid I liked to be swung around in circles by my arms and tossed up in the air (and caught again). So, it is probably just as well my folks did not record this and then in a moment of reminiscing I posted that video online.

Michael Byrne QC is going to argue that the video is a Russian circus training video. I probably would have argued something similar and probably would of tossed in a few videos of the Chinese training their kiddie gymnasts for comparison. I would have figured that any video that shows children undertaking strenuous physical activity at a very early age after having been removed from their homes and taken to a training facility would be tantamount to child abuse as well, even if the parents approve.

I might also be arguing whether this was the intent of the legislation in the first place. I have not looked at the parliamentary debate on the bill when it was proposed. However, I am guessing the focus was probably much more on the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

The other question I would be asking is why is Illingworth being targeted considering that the video is widely available and has supposedly been shown on Australian TV? I have not seen it on TV and I am not going to admit to having watched it (as that would be tantamount to saying I have downloaded it / accessed it).

There is good reason for this as any Australian who views the video (and it is still available online) can be charged and liable to a maximum term of imprisonment not to exceed 10 years simply for accessing material that the police determine to be child abuse material.

The case would seem to be weak as the police's brief of evidence relies on a witness statement by someone who has not had any interaction with the family or the child in the video. Susan Cadzow, specialist pediatrician at Royal Brisbane Children's Hospital, made a witness statement to the effect that the baby was being swung vigorously but ends with the baby laughing and smiling. But, nevertheless, this does not mean, according to her expert opinion, that the laughter and smiles do not mask some hidden damage to the child. Therefore, and once again, according to Cadzow's expert opinion the video constitutes child abuse material.

I guess this is why I wouldn't want to be a police officer or public prosecutor on this one. No disrespect to the skills, experience, and expertise of Dr. Cadzow, but a witness statement about the possible harm done to a child based on the viewing of a video when having never examined the child seems to be a stretch.

What this case does mean at the moment is this. If you are a parent, then do not toss your child in the air and have someone else film it. Then in a moment of pride in your child having fun do not be tempted to upload this video to your blog or Facebook or other online location. If you do, then the next knock on your door might be the police looking to arrest you for dealing in child abuse material.

Big Brother is watching!