31 October 2009

Arrested Development?

All of the strides that Indonesia had made towards preventing and, ultimately, seeking to eliminate corruption are rapidly being undone. The arrest of Chandra Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto is proof of the rapid demise of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the rise of the police and the Office of the Attorney General as the lead corruption fighters.

This does not bode well for future corruption eradication efforts as both the police and the office of the attorney general are tainted with numerous corruption scandals and abuse of power. The arrest of Chandra and Bibit is just another one in a long line of scandals.

The fact that the president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or SBY, gave a press conference indicating that he would not be interfering in the process. Strange because he has already imposed himself on the process when he issued an interim law to appoint three new, albeit temporary, commissioners to the KPK. So, to say he would not interfere seems a little strange.

Nevertheless, the president is probably still smarting from the slap down that the Constitutional Court handed him when it held that the interim law and that any dismissal of Chandra and Bibit did not fit within the confines of the constitution until such time as a court case had been concluded.

The president is also smarting because a transcript of an alleged wiretap highlighting that the police and the office of the attorney general conspired to frame Chandra and Bibit has surfaced. Why is he smarting? Maybe because his name came up as being aware of the frame.

Although the president has said he will not interfere in the process, he has nevertheless instructed the Chief of Police to take all necessary steps to uncover the wiretapper and bring them to justice. Sounds a little like closing the barn door once the horse has bolted. But, Mr. President, it is time to clean this mess up, isn't it?

What is truly bizarre about this case is that Chandra and Bibit have been officially arrested for abusing their statutory powers to issue and revoke travel bans on suspected corruptors. It is not rocket science to work out that this is an administrative law issue. It is not rocket science to work out that the criminalization of administrative powers and authorities is a slippery slope that the police, of all institutions, do not want to find themselves on.

Once this case unfolds and Chandra and Bibit are found to not have abused their statutory power, perhaps they can then launch criminal actions against the police for their obvious abuse of power, particularly now that the president, the attorney general, and the police have sort to allow the criminalization of administrative power.

Perhaps the people of Sidoarjo need to launch some criminal action against the president for his administrative failures over the mud extrusion, which has seen the victims not receive their due compensation despite the president in effect setting out how that compensation was to be calculated and awarded.

On the funny side, in that perversely funny kind of a way, the police have thrown a huge number of resources at trying to create a case that both Chandra and Bibit took bribes. They have obviously failed to make the grade on this one, as the arrest warrant was for an alleged abuse of power. After all this time if the police cannot make the case that they promised to make, then it is unlikely that they are going to succeed in the future.

It is time that the police ante-up with something that is sufficient to sustain the case they allege that they have against Chandra and Bibit. If they cannot ante-up then someone has to make the call to end this charade. It obviously will not be the Chief of Police, and it will not be the president, perhaps the courts can?

What is truly funny though is that the police have justified the arrest on the grounds that Chandra and Bibit, along with their legal representatives, have been holding press conferences as a means of influencing public opinion against the police and the investigation. It is said that these press conferences are negatively impacting on the investigation.

Ah, probably not. The press conferences might be shedding some light on how poorly the police have performed in this case. It might also be a case of the press conferences are bringing to light that Indonesia is regressing back into the old ways of the New Order of Soeharto.

It is time for the police and the office of the attorney general to call it quits and let this one go. Then the heads must roll. First head off the rank must be Susno Duaji, then followed shortly after by the Chief of Police, Bambang Danuri.

Ultimately, these shenanigans are going to be a "legacy crusher" for SBY. He will be remembered as the president that talked a good game on anti-corruption but could never deliver the goods. In fact, he will be remembered for presiding over the demise of one of the few success stories in the fight against corruption in Indonesia.

Viva Chandra!

Viva Bibit!

Viva KPK!

Viva Indonesia!

30 October 2009


I wonder if this is an example of tantric yoga?

I have never learned myself, but it would seem that there are some interesting positions and some hands on requirements, particularly if you find yourself in the position of teacher or Yogi.

I am sure that this photo lends itself to a pun or two.

Manohara Odelia Pinot -- Part XXIII -- Default Judgment

It has been a while between drinks, so to speak, when it comes to the Mano posts. However, apart from her self-titles soap getting canned, there has not been anything much newsworthy to post on. Nevertheless, patience pays off, and the girl is back in the news this week and in a bit of a lawyer-driven bind.

It is interesting to see that the press refers to Mano as an Indonesian teen soap star. I am not sure that one truncated, and ultimately cancelled, season warrants the description. Yet, as a teenager she still has time to become a star. However, Mano and her mum, Daisy Fajarina, are in a spot of bother. That bother is what is likely to be a 105 million ringgit default judgment against both Mano and her mother for defaming and slandering Mano's former husband, Tengku Fakhry, of the Kelantan royal family.

Mano and Daisy's previous legal representation have handed back the case files and bailed on the case. The Malaysian High Court has decided that Mano and Daisy have until 5 November to get new legal representation on board and complete the case or run the risk of the court handing down a default judgment. It would seem that Tengku Fakhry thinks he is on a winner no matter whether his former wife and mother-in-law get counsel or not, as he was supportive of a delay to allow Mano and Daisy to seek out new legal representatives.

Aside from the cash, the prince is also asking that the court hand down an injunction that prohibits both Mano and her mother from defaming him by constantly stating publicly that the prince sexually and physically abused Mano during their brief marriage. This mistreatment also included an allegation of abduction or kidnapping.

The best defense to an allegation of defamation or slander is truth. It would seem that with this case, the prince is asking both Mano and Daisy to ante up and prove the truth of their allegations or withdraw them and be penalized for making false claims.

It has been suggested that Mano has been paid well for her work on her short-lived soap opera, but I am not sure she was paid well enough to cover a default judgment of 105 million ringgit.

(Photo courtesy of here)


This most certainly is one of those moments where you stretch back in your chair and smile. I don't know that this is the worst disguise ever, but it has to be close. If you could send people to jail for being hopelessly stupid then these two gentlemen, Matthew McNelly and Joey Miller, might just get the nod.

They tried to break into an apartment complex and failed. There are lots of people who try to commit crimes and do not succeed. However, I am not sure I have ever heard of anyone drawing on their own disguise with a marking pen. Yet, the icing on this cake is that it was a permanent marker.

My experience with permanent markers is that if they get on your skin then they are really difficult to get off. So, to colour in your face with a permanent marker is absurd, absurdly funny that is.

The excuse for the embarrassment is likely to be that they were drinking heavily and were intoxicated. Yep, the last time I had a few beers though, I do not recall hatching a plan to burglarize a place and disguise my face with a Zorro mask inked on in permanent black marker.

Obama's Indonesian Wedding Ring...

As media stories go, this must mean that there is no news of real importance out there in the world of national or international affairs or the design of Obama's gold wedding band is in fact news of both national and international importance. I will leave you to be the judge on this one.

The photos are courtesy of The Huffington Post.

Just about everyone in the world must know that Obama has a black Kenyan father and a white American mother. Most all must also know that he spent some of his formative years in Indonesia. Apparently he still has fond memories of the country, and still speaks a little of the local lingo, Bahasa Indonesia, or just plain old Indonesian to the rest of us.

The New York Times magazine has a story on the "First Marriage" , and the story identifies that Barack Obama's wedding ring is not only gold, but that it is crafted in a traditional Indonesian style.

I wonder whether this gives more fodder to the birthers who seem to still be fascinated with whether or not Obama is qualified to be president as they dither between whether he was born in Kenya or Hawaii and whether the president ever held Indonesian citizenship or not as a boy (courtesy of his stepfather, Lolo Soetoro).

In any event, the fact that the "most powerful man" in the world is wearing a wedding band using an Indonesian design is a bit of an advertising and marketing scoop for Indonesian jewelry artisans everywhere. Perhaps, there may now be a run on wedding bands with an Indonesian design.

Thanks Obama!

27 October 2009

Hotel Kerobokan -- Kathryn Bonella

Kathryn Bonella has released a new book through Pan Macmillan Australia, Hotel Kerobokan. According to the blurb on the Pan Macmillan site the book's release date for sale is 1 November 2009. I might have to trundle down to the nearest book store and grab me a copy. Until then I can only ponder what the book might include based on the release issued by Pan Macmillan and perhaps past performance.

Bonella helped Schapelle Corby co-write Schapelle's autobiography, My Story.

Hotel Kerobokan is the name, apparently, given to the Kerobohkan prison in Bali. Kerobokan is home for a good number of Australians, among them Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine. The gist of the book, according to the blurb, is the fact that murderers sleep along side petty criminals, drugs and alcohol are freely available which in turn leads to devastating addictions, and guards who are on the take for all manner of things. The corruption of the place making it a hell hole.

The book focuses on the inmates stories of life on the inside of Kerobokan and the contrast to the holiday wonder world that is Bali, and which exists on the other side of the prison walls. The book should be a good read considering Bonella has apparently had daily access to the prison and the inmates for the purposes of gathering their stories. This suggests that the book was written with the full knowledge of the prison authorities if she has been granted this level of access to prisoners / inmates. So much so, that the Pan Macmillan review states that "the truth about Hotel Kerobokan explodes off the page."

To get the readers in, the review ends with, "Hotel Kerobokan paints a confronting picture. Everything you've heard is true. And there's much, much more than you ever imagined there could be."

The spiel on the author over at Pan Macmillan is this:

Since studying journalism at RMIT in Melbourne, Kathryn Bonella has worked as a journalist in television and print. She moved to London 18 months after graduating and spent several years freelancing for 60 Minutes as well as numerous English and American television programs, magazines and newspapers. She returned to Australia in 2000 to work as a full-time producer for 60 Minutes. She moved to Bali in 2005 to research and write Schapelle Corby's autobiography, My Story.

On a side note. I have been taking a fair bit of flak on another thread on this blog about Robin Tampoe (here), as seemingly anyone who writes a blog that includes posts on Schapelle Corby must be doing it because they are motivated by the prospect of making money off of her misery in Kerobokan. I can state unequivocally that I have made no money of posts about Schapelle Corby. This blog is not a commercial venture in a money making sense.

However, I wonder whether anyone would similarly question Bonella's motivations by suggesting that she is capitalizing on the misery of those whom she interviews for Hotel Kerobokan.

In the bigger scheme of things, I wonder how the sordid details and descriptions of squalor that are apparently the focus of the book benefit those that remain behind Kerobokan's bars. This is particularly so if some of those interviewed have been expressly candid regarding the conditions of the prison and the manner in which it is run.

My final point of wondering here is whether Schapelle Corby has been re-interviewed for this book. I am particularly interested in what she has to say considering there is a growing movement seeking to have her released on the grounds of her ongoing depression and claims of innocence.

As I said, I will head down to the bookshop and see if I can get a copy, unless Pan Macmillan or Bonella would like to send me an advance copy for me to review?

26 October 2009

Will Heading Towards 11 Months...

Will with his Dad, Auntie, and Uncle (not looking happy!)

Will having just endured and successfully completed his first swimming lesson (looking much happier!)

Killara High School -- A School Close to Home...

The students of Killara High School have a tradition of making an end-of-year video. This particular one, 2009, has made it onto YouTube. It is exceptional. Even though it is a spoof of the Qantas ad campaign of "I Still Call Australia Home", it says some pretty important things about the way schools are funded along with the conditions that our children have to endure as students in some schools.

The video is excellent, and it shows that, at least to me, the future is bright. There are a lot of talented students out there doing their thing. This can only be a good thing when people have the courage to explore their creativity and fulfill their potential to do, and by doing, wonderful things. To the students of Killara High School, congratulations on a job well done!

The video is available on YouTube, and I have attached it below. The first couple of minutes are the Qantas spoof. The rest of the video probably has much more relevance to the students that made it than it would to the rest of us.

The 2009 version of the "I Still Call Australia Home" Qantas video. This is an excellent version of the campaign song. It also includes the Kala Lagaw Ya dialect of the (Western) Torres Strait Islands, as sung by Tyus Arndt (just 13 years old and of the Gondwana National Indigenous Children's Choir).


Naked Teachers & Penthouse Magazine...

It would seem that being a teacher and getting your gear off do not mix under any circumstances. This is not a case of a teacher getting their gear off and fiddling with one of their students. This is a story about a New Zealand teacher who decided that it would be a good idea to get her gear off for Australian Penthouse magazine. The offending pictures are supposedly available on their website. Stuff NZ broke the story here.

On second thoughts this might not have been such a good idea. the New Zealand Teachers Council is now investigating. Sounds like a good excuse for the Teachers Council to go and get themselves a few copies of the magazine or open up the website, for research of course.

The young woman, Rachel Whitwell, apparently dates a pornographer. So, in that sense it does not seem to be an unlikely scenario that she might be convinced to get her kit off. The proof of the pudding is in the viewing, and there are six photos to be viewed. Among the six photos are two full-nudes. Oh, to be able to post those. Perhaps, I should post them for educational purposes. You know, what not to do if you are a teacher. Anyways, for those of you that want the full monty, then look here. The two pictures posted above are the more modest of the six available.

According to Whitwell, aka Lexy, the photos are not her only claim to fame. She is also a bit of a writer, having penned a number of erotic stories for magazines and runs her very own pole-dancing studio. I wonder if this means that teaching does not pay all that well in New Zealand.

Nevertheless, the Teachers Council feels that this is a case where the public and private lives of a teacher overlap and the claims must be investigated. It appears though that the photos might prove a little bit difficult to disown seeing they have been professionally done. So, the need for an investigation is an interesting call.

Perhaps a meeting to find out why the photos were done and whether there was any consideration on how posing for Penthouse might impact on Ms. Whitwell's ability to teach in a classroom. Yet, even then, the reasons are pretty obvious, the young woman is exploring whether or not she has what it takes to be a model.

Ms. Whitwell is registered to teach in New Zealand through to 2011. However, she is currently having time off to care for her young daughter, and to pose for nude and topless photographs when she is not in full-on caring mode.

The issue that the Teachers Council will look at is whether this little excursion into modelling will negatively impact on her ability to do her job. For others there seems to be a few morality issues to consider as well. It would seem that teachers are role models, and as such posing topless and naked in a well known magazine like Penthouse, or their website, is not a good example for children.

I am not sure that I ascribe to the view that getting your kit off in any impacts the skills one has or does not have as a teacher. Just because people have seen her naked will not make one iota of difference to whether or not she is a skilled teacher. The question is whether or not now that plenty of people, her colleagues, and perhaps some of her students have seen her in all her glory whether the perception of her abilities change?

They probably do.

Why this post? I am thinking about getting some formal qualifications as a teacher. I am not thinking about getting into modelling or getting my kit of for Playgirl or something (even if I wasn't the fat ugly bugger that I am).

Schapelle Corby -- A Humanitarian Appeal...

The Schapelle Corby case continues to draw the public's interest more than five years after her incarceration. Schapelle Corby was convicted of smuggling more than 4kgs of marijuana from Australia to Indonesia. For this, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

There is much debate about whether she is guilty or innocent. Much of this debate focuses on the evidence or lack thereof, and the procedures that were followed at trial. If you are interested in a discussion of this, then you can find one here. Personally, the issues of guilt and innocence at this point in time are secondary to more pressing concerns.

However, what I post here is a short video that can be found on YouTube which deals with this pressing concern.

All the doctors involved with Schapelle Corby agree that she is depressed and that there is a need to treat her for that depression. Nevertheless, the doctors do disagree on the severity of the depression and the manner in which it needs to be treated.

My belief is that prisoners still have human rights and those rights must be respected. If it is agreed that Schapelle Corby is suffering from depression, then there is clearly a right held by her that entitles her to be treated. Treatment must be provided on humanitarian grounds, even if there was some belief in the circles of the powers that be that medical treatment for prisoners was not a foregone conclusion as a right.

I am not sure that the first step is immediate repatriation to Australia. Indonesia has mental health facilities that would be more than capable of providing the initial treatment and medication. In the event, that a local intervention fails then a more serious discussion is warranted on whether the best option available is to repatriate Schapelle Corby to Australia,

Yet, the most pressing concern is to ensure that her depression is treated and managed in order to allow her to continue to live.

24 October 2009

Maria Ozawa -- Victim?

You all know by now that the only reason I do posts on Maria Ozawa, or Miyabi as she is known affectionately by her fans, is that it gives me a reason to post some pictures of the young woman.

I have posted a few times, four to be exact, on Maria Ozawa and a film to be shot in Indonesia titled, "Kidnapping Miyabi". Besides getting to post some pictures of the young woman, there are also some interesting social and legal issues worthy of a bit of discussion.

On the social side of the equation, the questions of morality and profession are interesting. It would seem that the shenanigans that went on here say, once a porn star always a porn star. Seemingly, one never escapes their past. The film that Ozawa was to star in Indonesia was a comedy. It included no nudity and ultimately no sex scenes. This probably would have been disappointing to her many, many, many fans in Indonesia who have been snaffling up her DVDs for years.

On the legal front. It is worth discussing whether the Minister of Tourism and Culture has the power to issue directives that in essence blacklist certain individuals from entering the country. More specifically, can the minister issue a directive to a film production house setting out which actors maybe used in a film? Is this a sign of things to come as the new film law starts to see more vigorous enforcement?

The entry and exit of people to and from Indonesia is at the discretion of immigration. They are the front line enforcers in this field. Immigration works cooperatively with all parties. Most recently we have seen them work cooperatively with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) with respect to the furore that led to charges of a misuse of authority with respect to blacklisting a couple of businessmen from leaving the country.

Best case scenario is that the Minister of Tourism and Culture can approach the relevant authorities with their concerns and then immigration will consider whether a blacklisting is possible.

Even more interesting is the precedent that this sets in a broader sense. Maria Ozawa is not a criminal. She has broken no laws in Indonesia. She was being sponsored to star in a film, and this was by all accounts being done based on the prevailing labor laws and regulations.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Maria Ozawa has quite a following in Indonesia. And, that most people who did not know of her before, now do courtesy of the protests by the MUI and the FPI.

So, the question is, "has the government bowed to pressure from a vocal minority in preventing Miyabi from starring in an Indonesian comedy?" (Some might argue that she has already starred in a comedy -- the events surrounding whether or not she would make it to Indonesian shores)

Aceh and Stoning Adulterers...

The previous Aceh Regional Parliament passed a Qanun on Jinayat which included provisions relating to the stoning to death of adulterers. I have written a more detailed post on the provisions of the regulation here. This piece of 7th Century inspired legislation was passed in the dying days of the previous parliament's existence. However, a new more moderate parliament has been elected and the newly elected members had promised to revisit the regulation and amend it once they had the power to do so.

The new parliament has been installed. It is now a matter of urgency and one of credibility that the new parliament place the amending of the Jinayat regulation. Simply, it is time to ante up and do what must be done.

Some have argued that Aceh is a province that enjoys special autonomy and has special rights to self-government and the enactment and implementation of Shariah based laws and regulations. However, it is not the case that the regional regulations in Aceh can be in conflict with the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia. Special autonomy or not, Aceh is still a province of the Republic of Indonesia, and this means that the 1945 Constitution still applies.

Stoning to death is an unusual, cruel, degrading, and inhuman punishment. It is a form of torture of the worst kind. To allow a regulation of this nature to stand unchallenged reflects badly on Indonesia as a whole. Stoning is not an acceptable form of punishment. The reality is that people that live in glass houses should not throw stones.

21 October 2009

Islam and Terror...

I found this cartoon here. The original can be found here.

It will be interesting to read any comments. Although, I am not expecting any comments. However, the cartoon could be construed to be offensive or it might reinforce the beliefs of many that perhaps the terrorists are misinterpreting religion and in fact facing the wrong way.

The cartoon could have been drawn for any religion. Nevertheless, there has been a tendency since 9/11 to link Islam with terror, and I think that this cartoon says something about that connection or lack thereof.

19 October 2009

Roy Suryo...

Perhaps it is only fair to give the man his full title, Kanjeng Raden Mas Temenggung Roy Suryo Notodiprojo or KRMT Roy Suryo. After all, if you have a royal sounding title you have probably earned it. Roy Suryo, as he is known to his mates, is a self-proclaimed and self-taught expert on telematics. If you do not believe him, then you should just ask him.

The man is never short of a comment, and funnily enough is pretty regularly called in to pass expert commentary. Some of his better performances have been to equate bloggers and hackers as being one of the same. As a witness for the prosecution in the ongoing Prita Mulyasari dispute he offered up in his expert testimony, allegedly, that Prita intended to distribute the email because she sent it to all her friends, and did not CC or BCC the email. Therefore, this was sufficient to prove that the intent to defame had been made out.

He is close to the President, and has in fact speared the president and the president's party for large sums of cash to set up a website.

But, even more interesting is that this fellow is the master manipulator and promoter of an image, his own. So, the idea that he was seriously being considered for the position of Minister of Communication and Information should be taken with a grain of salt. It would have been a bad choice because he would have come to the position with a good number of Indonesian citizens questioning his expertise, his skills, and his ability to perform the role.

However, for his part, Roy Suryo contacted the press to let them know that he was OK with the president's choice not to appoint him to the ministerial role. Yet, at the same time as saying that he understood the president's choice, he was going on the offensive and after the person that is expected to get the nod for the ministerial slot, Tifatul Sembiring.

Sembiring has been outed as a polygamist. Although, polygamy is discouraged, it is not illegal. Provided that it is done in a manner that conforms to the prevailing laws and regulations then it is legal. Nevertheless, Roy took the opportunity to openly question whether Sembiring's polygamy would impact on his ability to do his job as the Minister of Communication and Information. I would have figured that communication and information would have had to be something that Sembiring was good at with two wives.

Seriously though, here is a fella that cannot distinguish between bloggers and hackers wondering out loud whether polygamy is going to be a hindrance to Sembiring in doing his job. Seems a little on the rich side for me.

It is worth noting that in all the high profile cases of late that Roy Suryo has appeared for the prosecution, there has been a vigorous defense put on highlighting the fact that Roy Suryo's standards as a telematic expert or in the field of digital forensic science are lacking. This is particular so in the case of Ananda Mikola and Marcella Zalianty.

I am not an expert on telematics or technology in a general sense. However, I would be concerned if I was an Indonesian and the idea of making this bloke the minister was in fact real. He really has not shown over the years to be up to the job.

That is not to say that Sembiring has shown himself to be up to the job either. But, his practice of polygamy is not a key indicator in his job performance or ability to do the job, is it?

Quizzes, Guns, Grenades, Jihad, and Ramadan

Somalia is a violent place, and with those who remain steadfast in their determination to meet and defeat the enemies of Allah wherever they maybe found in Somalia, it would not seem that the place is going to become any more peaceful, at least not in the short-term.

Sheikh Andullahi Alhaq was presenting the prizes to a group of winners in a recent Ramadan quiz contest organized by the Al-Shabaab insurgents where he hoped that their prizes would encourage and facilitate their participation in the Jihad against Allah's enemies. So, what sort of prizes might be so encouraging and facilitating, you ask; well, for the winners it was an AK-47, two hand-grenades, an anti-tank landmine, and some office supplies. The runners-up were not quite so lucky. They received just an AK-47 and some ammunition.

The quiz was a radio broadcast and consisted of questions on science, culture, and the Al-Quran.

I always was led to believe that Ramadan was the holiest of months, a month for reflection, and in essence a jihad of its own as one resists the everyday temptations of food and other things. A quiz where the prizes are weapons to be used in violent jihad seems to run counter to what many claim Islam to be about. I am not Muslim so perhaps I am missing something with respect to my understanding of how this quiz fits into the spirit of the holiest of months.

The question in my mind is this, "How do you convince people that a religion is a religion of peace if there is a concurrent promotion of violence or violent conflict?"

This does not have to be a question exclusively directed at Muslims or Islam. It just so happens that this is the context in this case. The question could be posed equally to other religions that have used violence as a means of resolving conflict. I do not think that any religion is immune, is it?

16 October 2009

X-Ray Scanners, Naked Images, Child Porn, and Airports...

Manchester Airport is trialling an X-ray machine that is being used to scan passengers before they enter the departure lounge of the airport. The scan takes a few seconds and are expected to do away with the need for a physical frisk of the traveler as they go through security checkpoints. There would apparently be no need to empty your pockets as the scanner would identify all and sundry in your pockets or take off your shoes.

It seems that the scanners can do a little bit more than that, as they will also identify any implants a traveler has. So, anyone with breast implants or a little uplift in the buttocks area will find themselves subject to a few smiles no doubt from knowledgeable scanner operators.

However, in an interesting twist, some child advocacy groups have wondered out loud whether the "naked images" that these scanners are capable of, violate child pornography laws. Airport authorities are saying that they do not, and in any event the images are immediately destroyed if there is no reason for them to be saved. Although, faces and skin color might not be identifiable in the scans, the genitals are clearly outlined in the x-ray scans.

The outlines of a child's genitals would seemingly be a violation of most child protection laws throughout the world. These laws, generally, make it an offense to show or make and indecent image of a child. The outline of a child's genitals would conceivably, and arguably, be an indecent image. The UK child protection statute even includes the term "pseudo-photograph" which a scanner image arguably is.

This story will undoubtedly continue to develop as the legal issues are further explored.

Meghan McCain -- That Twitpic...

Being the daughter of the former Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, probably attracts some unwarranted attention to you. However, posting a self-portrait of yourself with some exceptional cleavage is likely to bring a whole lot more. So much, in fact, that the picture gets removed from your account and you then feel the need to tweet about the "learning" experience you have just endured, and then thank your family and friends profusely for their support.

Welcome to part of the life of Meghan McCain. You can find Meghan McCain and her twitter escapades here.

Ms. McCain is a columnist with The Daily Beast. But, was probably more famous for campaigning on her father's behalf during the most recent US presidential campaign. She, is definitely more famous now and her Yahoo Search is undoubtedly buzzing as punters go in search of the now missing Twitter pic (above).

She said in the text accompanying the Twitpic: "My 'spontaneous' night in is my Andy Warhol biography and takeout." To many, this would most likely be a couple of real endearing characteristics. There are plenty of people that would have, and perhaps are sitting, sat down with an Andy Warhol biography and enjoyed some good Chinese takeout.

McCain further added that this must mean that she is getting old. I would argue the picture does not show someone who is old. Now, if I posted my picture, then that would be a picture of someone looking old.

What this story does show that in our world of instant information, the world has become a much smaller place, and much quicker too. What is nothing more than a simple picture has become in next to no time a bit of a controversy and a lot of news. It also goes to show that we as consumers have an insatiable appetite for celebrity in any form.

The picture though inspired a lot of less than inspiring comments suggesting that she was a 'slut' for posting the picture. To be honest, looking at the picture, the first thing that comes to mind is not the word 'slut'. It shows a lot of narrow-mindedness on the part of commenters who think wearing a tank-top and a pair of sweat pants makes one a slut. But, that is the nature of the world sometimes, people with nothing positive to say still feel the urge to let their fingers get into gear before their brain catches up. Sad!

Keep on tweeting!

15 October 2009

Syekh Puji and the Office of the Attorney General...

The Office of the Attorney General (AGO) has stated that it intends to appeal against the preliminary decision handed down by the Ungaran District Court in the case of child sexual abuse against Pujiantocahyo Widianto or Syekh Puji as he is known by his followers.

The Ungaran District Court dismissed the indictment for being incomplete and vague. The rationale of the court was that the indictment failed to detail explicitly how and when the offenses were committed. Presumably, the prosecutors failed, according to the court, to get into the nitty gritty of detailing what type of sex was had, when the sexual intercourse occurred, and where. Any amended indictment that seeks to satisfy the court in this regard is certainly going to make for interesting reading.

Albeit, it seems that the trend to explicit detail in indictments regarding sexual activity has already been started by the AGO in the case against Antasari Azhar in the South Jakarta District Court. The indictment read out by the prosecutors in the Antasari case caused some controversy as it was the first time the sexual practices of a former public official were entered into the court records. The indictment detailed Antasari's need for some hand relief (also known as a happy ending or being masturbated) from someone else's wife. For which he paid USD 500.

Back to the Syekh. The AGO is going to appeal to the Central Java High Court seeking the court to overturn the ruling. If they are successful in their appeal, then the Central Java High Court is most likely to order the matter to proceed in the Ungaran District Court. The appeal is based on a cause of action that the court / judges erred in their application of the relevant laws. Simply, the indictment is not flawed but the legal reasoning of the judges is flawed in this case.

The dismissal of the indictment against the Syekh poses an interesting dilemma. The girl in this case is a girl at just 12-years of age when the Syekh married her. So, there is seemingly a prima facie case on which to proceed. The dismissal of the indictment, by default, says that there is no case on which to proceed. Therefore, the dilemma is whether or not this dismissal can be read as condoning and legalizing pedophilia in Indonesia?

It is clear under the marriage law that a child of 12 years of age cannot marry. It is also pretty clear that the parents of a 12-year-old would encounter some legal obstacles in condoning such a marriage. The Child Protection Law explicitly states that a child is a child until they reach the age of 18. So, to allow this decision to stand unchallenged sets a bad precedent. The AGO has an obligation to pursue this through higher courts.

Interestingly, it would seem that the argument that the practice of marriage according to the rules of Islam trumps any national laws that are in place that would seemingly prohibit such practices. There is some debate about whether Islam of the 21st Century still condones the marriage practices of the 7th Century as they relate to child brides. However, the Ungaran District Court decision has added a new dynamic to the framework of the argument.

It would seem though that, at least in the interim, the Syekh is free to go about his daily business as a handicraft exporter and husband to a child bride.

14 October 2009

Jennifer Dunn -- Drugs Bust

Jennifer Dunn does not sound like your typical Indonesian name however there is no doubt that she is Indonesian. It seems that every now and then a young Indonesian starlet finds herself in trouble with drugs, and I find myself blogging about it. I have in the past posted about Sheila Marcia Joseph and her troubles. I should probably do another post on Sheila now that she is back in jail and pregnant.

However, back to Jennifer Dunn. Police are reporting that Ms. Dunn has been arrested with friends in a boarding house in the Cilandak area of South Jakarta. Apparently, she and her friends were involved in, and by all accounts enjoying, a little get together where drugs were brought out and shared. The police had wind of this little get together and were quick to break it up just as the party was seemingly getting started.

The police have the power to demand a urine test where there is a suspicion of drug use. Generally, being caught with methamphetamine, ecstasy, and other drugs is probably reasonable suspicion for the police to act. The urine tests for Jennifer and her two friends were positive. The urine test for her acting colleague and friend, Vicky Nitinegoro, was negative. The most likely scenario is that the police will now pressure Vicky to testify against the others as a means of avoiding prosecution himself.

This is not the first time Ms. Dunn has be busted for drugs. She was busted back in 2005 as a 16-year-old.

Maria Ozawa In Kidnapping Miyabi -- Cancelled

The reason for another Maria Ozawa (AKA Miyabi) post is simple. It allows me the opportunity to post a few more pictures (all freely available on the Internet) of her under the guise of a more serious discussion on the pros and cons of bowing to pressure from special interest religious groups.

Into the substance...

It seems that Maxima Pictures came under government pressure to abandon the idea of using Maria Ozawa in the lead role of the film "Kidnapping Miyabi". This is in spite of assurances from Maxima that they saw no reason to bow to any pressure despite the uproar and protests that ensued once it was announced that the Japanese porn star would be playing herself in the lead role.

The film is a comedy. Loosely the story is of a couple of horny college students with a Miyabi fetish deciding to kidnap her while she is on holiday in Indonesia. I am not sure that the premise of the film is all that good, but to each their own with respect to what sort of films one wants to make, and even more so with respect to what films people want to watch.

However, it would seem that the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (Majelis Ulama Indonesia / MUI) and the Islam Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam / FPI) have coopted the Minister of Culture and Tourism to jump on board and pressure Maxima Pictures into retreating from their original plan. I wonder if this is a sign of things to come once the new film law gets up an running (assuming it survives in tact after any Constitutional Court challenge to its constitutionality).

The whole idea of the film Kidnapping Miyabi is to have Maria Ozawa in the lead role. The film just would not seem to work if you had an Indonesian actress playing the lead role. It would not work even if that Indonesian actress was a porn star in her own right. If Miyabi was to be replaced with one of Indonesia's more famous porn starlets, such as Jade Marcella, then the film may as well be entitled Kidnapping Jade. Maybe that is the way to go for Maxima.

However, it would be a reasonable guess to say that the MUI and the FPI would undoubtedly have a problem or two with that scenario as well.

In a more general sense, does this decision mean that foreign porn stars cannot even travel to Indonesia as tourists? Or is it just a simple case of foreign porn stars cannot be sponsored to work in Indonesia in any capacity even if it does not relate to their regular income generating employment? This is particularly so if the sponsored employment does not involve them "performing" their standard roles.

I wonder what does more harm to Indonesia's standing and reputation in the world; a Japanese porn actress acting in a comedy or the ongoing institutionalized corruption that plagues business and government or, perhaps, a regional ordinance that permits the stoning of adulterers and the caning of homosexuals?

A bit of a no brainer when you think about it.

13 October 2009

Syekh Puji Goes To Trial (and gets acquitted)...

Syekh Puji went to trial in the Ungaran District Court charged with committing sexual abuse on a child. The sexual abuse charges stem from his marriage to an underage girl. I have written about this case elsewhere, and you can find those posts here.

In essence, the Syekh was facing charges relating to violations of Articles 81(2) and 82 of the Child Protection Law and Article 290 of the Indonesian Criminal Code. I also believe that there are charges relating to a violation of the Marriage Law. I have not seen the indictment or read the verdict dismissing the case.

However, the presiding judge in the trial, Hari Mulyanto, dismissed the prosecution case because, in his opinion, the indictment was incomplete, vague, and by default, flawed. Consequently, Mulyanto ordered that the Syekh was free to go and resume his life free of the charges laid. In that sense it is not really an acquittal, because in a technical sense the judge has issued a preliminary ruling stating that the case cannot go forward to trial because the indictment does not make the grade.

Prosecutors, apparently, intend to appeal the verdict. But, what is interesting was that the prosecution seemed to indicate that they will go away and improve the indictment. This suggests that the first time out the prosecutors did not bother to cross all the "t"s and dot all the "i"s.

Appeals in Indonesia generally require that there be new evidence available that was not available at the time of the trial or that there has been an error by the judge(s) in the application of the law. Unfortunately, prosecutors failing to do their jobs is not new evidence or an error in the application of the law.

There seems to be little doubt that the Syekh married an underage girl, and there seems little doubt that he consummated that marriage after her first period, what seems to be in doubt is the ability of the prosecutors to close the deal on this case.

12 October 2009

IKRAP and KRAP -- I Kid You Not!

A serious version of this is available at http://en.hukumonline.com. However, the acronyms / abbreviations used in this regulation were worth writing about by themselves irrespective of whether the substance of the regulation was serious or not.

It is obvious one of two things happened during the drafting phase of this particular Minister of Communication and Information regulation; the drafters really did not consider the humor that a bilingual Indonesian / English speaker would derive from the acronyms or the drafter was aware, and decided to do it anyway.

I am going to lean towards the latter, as that shows a fine sense of humour on the part of the drafters of this regulation.

What appears below is an amended version of what was posted to hukumonline.

Radio communication between citizens or CB Radio (Citizen Band Radio) finds its regulatory basis in Government Regulation No. 52 of 2000 and Minister of Communication Decision No. 77 of 2003. However, with the issue of Government Regulation No. 38 of 2007 there is a need to revoke and replace Decision No. 77. Therefore, the Minister of Communication and Information has issued Regulation No. 34/PER/M.KOMINFO/8/2009 for this purpose.

Citizen Band Radio (Komunikasi Radio Antar Penduduk / KRAP) is specifically prohibited from broadcasting certain material and from being commercialized. However, in contrast, CB radio must broadcast material relating to danger, natural disasters, and the like when those events arise. So, CB radio stations are therefore by law required to broadcast all the "Oh Krap" news and information; 'Oh crap, here comes the flood waters!"

The CB radio frequencies are those frequencies that have been set up and confirmed by the Minister. The frequency band set aside for CB radio is between 26.960 MHz and 27.410 MHz on the High Frequency Band. This is then divided into 40 distinct canals. These are listed in Article 18. The succeeding articles through to Article 23 set out the technical specifications.

All users of CB radios are required to be licensed (Izin Komunikasi Radio Antar Penduduk / IKRAP), and these licenses are to be issued by the Director General. The license is valid for a period of five years and can be renewed. The license permits the license-holder to own more than one set of CB radio equipment. Nevertheless, any person holding IKRAP is permitted only one call sign.

Which has me wondering whether if IKRAP in Jakarta whether my KRAP is going to be the same if IKRAP in Aceh or Bali? So, I wonder whether it is right to say that, 'no matter where IKRAP it is always the same'.

However, holding a license is not sufficient if one wants to be a CB radio user. In fact, the regulation is explicit that all license holders are required to become a member of an organization. The organization is Radio Antar Penduduk Indonesia (RAPI).

Each province in Indonesia is to use its own specific code. These codes are set out in Article 8(6) of the regulation. The procedures for licensing are listed in the regulation. Generally, there are three types covered: New IKRAP, IKRAP Renewal, and an IKRAP extension. The requirements for each are slightly different and are listed in Articles 12, 13, and 14.

The regulation sets out administrative sanctions that allow the Director General to cancel a license. A breach first requires two written warnings and a third warning results in the cancellation of a license. The Director General also has the power to cancel a license if the holder of that license has been convicted of a crime and the decision regarding that crime is already final and binding.

It would seem that the Director General has the power to control if, when, and where IKRAP by requiring me to have a license to KRAP which can be taken away if I KRAP in the wrong way or break the rules.

The regulation also includes a list of Attachments that contain all the standard forms required to comply with the provisions of the regulation. The Attachments also include a sample copy of what a CB radio license is to look like.

So, don't forget to smile for your very own IKRAP identity card.

By the way, anyone looking at getting into the KRAP-ping game, the requirement to hold a license under these provisions has been in force since 31 August 2009.

11 October 2009

Miyabi / Maria Ozawa and the FPI -- Pornography, Morality, and Comedy...

It seems there are always plenty of people about looking for a controversy to jump into, and if there is not one available to jump into, then make one up. This is the Miyabi controversy. Maria Ozawa goes by the stage name of Miyabi. She is a porn actress, and apparently she is pretty good at what she does. However, she is now looking to branch out and test her acting skills in more mainstream films. She has recently done a slasher / horror film in Taiwan. And, she has signed on to do a comedy in Indonesia, Kidnapping Miyabi.

The premise of the film seems a little silly to me; several horny blokes who have probably "choked" the proverbial chicken one too many times, and when they learn that Miyabi happens to be in Indonesia they set out to kidnap her. You never know, it might work. It will undoubtedly be popular because there are seemingly a whole lot of Indonesians who are familiar with her previous work, and those that were not so familiar with it, are sure to be now.

Anyways, the fact that a Japanese porn star is coming to Indonesia to play a role in a comedy film has irked the usual suspects. The MUI has come out and said that allowing her to come to Indonesia in any capacity to play a role in a film is going to destroy Indonesia's image overseas (I have written about that here and posted a few pictures for your viewing pleasure). Perhaps the MUI might want to have a look a little closer to home to gauge what sort of image destroying material is floating around. Stoning adulterers is probably not a big winner in the image stakes.

To add to the MUI's protests, the Islam Defenders Front or Fron Pembela Islam (FPI) assembled some of their devotees and staged a protest in front of the offices of Maxima Pictures. Maxima Pictures are the ones that are going to shoot and produce the film. It would seem that FPI's beef is that Miyabi is the destroyer of morality. Once again, he who is perfect may cast the first stone. Considering, the number of Indonesian IPs that have swung by this particular blog in search of Miyabi pictures and links to her films is testament to a rather large Indonesian following.

It seems that the FPI would be conducive to the film going ahead if Miyabi was replaced with another actress. Presumably one without any porn on her resume. But, seeing the premise of the script seems to be based on Miyabi having fame as a porn actress then perhaps FPI is lobbying for an Indonesian porn actress to take up the role. Maybe Maxima Pictures could change the name to Kidnapping Jade Marcella.

Maxima entertained the protesters by agreeing to meet with their leader, Habib Fahri Jamalullail, of the Jakarta Branch of FPI. However, the FPI left about 15 minutes later somewhat disappointed, as Maxima refused to say that they would abide by the demands of the FPI and cancel any agreements with Maria Ozawa with respect to her appearing in the film.

Not to be deterred, Fahri is prepared to go to the airport and "intercept" her arrival. Sounds a little bit extreme, it also sounds a little bit scary, and it sounds somewhat illegal to be intercepting foreigners arriving legally into the country.

Fahri is concerned that Miyabi has violated religious prohibitions by doing what she does for a living. Unfortunately, being a porn actress per se does not prohibit one from entering the country, particularly when one considers that she will not be making any porn films while she is here. It is probably forbidden to watch porn films as well. However, this does not seem to stop everyone. Once again, it seems that there are quite a few Indonesians with a voracious appetite for porn, and for Miyabi in particular.

In any event, and the FPI protests aside, according to Maxima it is still not clear if and when Miyabi will be arriving. Apparently, there have been a few bureaucratic issues arise that are still to be sorted out.

With respect to the protests, Maxima is considering relocating the shoot out of Jakarta, perhaps to Bali, or going further abroad still and shooting the film overseas. This is sad because the shooting of a film and the subsequent post-production are normally fairly big contributors to the local economy where the film is shot.

Not that I am inclined to watch the film anyway, but I do hope that Maxima sticks to its guns and shoots the film with Miyabi / Maria Ozawa in the lead role and playing herself.

In any event, the post lends itself to some gratuitous posting of pictures.


08 October 2009

The Big One -- Just Around the Corner?

News that the scientists (from the Bandung Institute of Technology and Singapore's Earth Observatory) have now done their analyzing and have determined that the recent earthquakes in West Sumatra, Indonesia, were not the "big one" that many of them are predicting to occur. Estimates of when the fateful day range over the next ten years. It would seem that predicting big earthquakes is not always an exact science. However, like anything else practice makes perfect, so presumably with more data, the guesstimates can become more accurate.

The scientists are predicting that the big one is likely to be off a magnitude of 8.8+ on the Richter Scale. Nevertheless, this depends on whether the earth sees fit to release all this energy that continues to build up over time in one big burst or a couple of smaller bursts of energy. The scientists, it seems, are leaning towards a big one. The reason being that the most recent earthquakes have not released enough of the pressure forcing the Indo-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates together.

Now, an earthquake of a magnitude of 8.8+ is likely to unleash a wave of destruction in the form of a tsunami. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Aceh and other places in the region in 2004 was of a magnitude 9.1. With the predicted earthquake's centre expected to be just off the coast of West Sumatra, and somewhere between Padang and Bengkulu, then the damage and death counts are likely to be high.

My wife and I have family in that part of Sumatra, and it is always a worry when we hear of earthquakes in the region. So, to think that the big one might be just around the corner is not good news.

(Graphic courtesy of here)

07 October 2009

Schapelle Corby -- What Matters Now?

I have written a few posts over the life of this blog about Schapelle Corby and her conviction and subsequent sentencing to 20 years in a Balinese prison. In many of these posts there has been some discussion of events as they unfold. However, it was one particular post on Robin Tampoe and the fact that he had been struck off the Roll of Legal Practitioners for divulging privileged client information.

The Tampoe post has attracted some 490 comments. Quite a number of those have been personal attacks on myself and some other posters. It has included quite a number of anonymous comments and a lot of people using pseudonyms, both in and of themselves not problematic. However, to launch personal attacks from behind a supposed veil of anonymity is not in the spirit of open and free discussion.

Nevertheless, the post has given rise to some interesting issues as people have sort to rehash the evidence in support of Schapelle's innocence. The evidence has also been rehashed in an attempt to debunk my statement and belief that Schapelle Corby is guilty. The reality, like it or not, is that Schapelle Corby has been convicted in an Indonesian court of law, and the conviction has stood the test of the appeal process. So, the reality is that she is guilty.

There are no appeals left in this process. What is left is an appeal for clemency.

Rather than make a detailed post on the issues, I pose the following questions?

1. Is there any benefit in revisiting and rehashing the evidence when the appeal process is complete? (What remains is an appeal for clemency or pardon)

2. Can, or should, Australian principles of common law be applied to the Indonesian civil law system? (Perhaps, and particularly, whether Australians arrested overseas have the same rights that they would be entitled to in Australia with respect to a trial by virtue of their Australian citizenship)

3. Should the focus be on proving that the guilty verdict is flawed under Indonesian and International law, or must the focus be on the best interests of Schapelle Corby with respect to obtaining treatment for her mental illness?

4. Can you be a supporter of Schapelle Corby without having a position on her innocence or guilt, or believing that she is guilty but that she does not deserve the punishment she has been given or deserve to suffer in the way that she apparently is?

I am not sure that there will be many comments in response to these questions. To be honest most of my posts only draw one or two comments. There are only a handful of posts that have drawn more than 20 comments.

Nevertheless, responses to these questions should make interesting reading.

A Brief Overview of the New Law on Agricultural Land and Sustainable Crops...

This first appeared on http://en.hukumonline.com. This is a slightly modified version of that article.

The House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat / DPR) has passed the Bill on the Protection of Agricultural Lands for Sustainable Crops. The bill was enacted under the mandate of Law No. 26 of 2007 on Spatial Planning which requires that a law be enacted to protect agricultural lands for sustainable crops. The bill also recognizes the right to agricultural land for sustainable crops is a human right that must be guaranteed. The bill also recognizes that there is a need to ensure the supply of land for sustainable crops as a means of ensuring crop independence.

The premise of the bill is that agricultural land for sustainable crops is an integral part of the lives and prosperity of the nation. The rapid development of Indonesia that encroaches upon land that was previously farmed means that the ability to produce sustainable crops diminishes each time agricultural land is converted into residential or industrial zones. The government has determined that the best way to protect this agricultural land from future residential or industrial development is to designate it as agricultural land and then put in place provisions to protect it.

Therefore, the bill sets out that there are certain parcels of land that are protected for use for sustainable crops. However, the government has also realized that with an ever-expanding population, the mere protection of land for agriculture is not sufficient by itself. As such, the bill also sets out provisions to allow for enhancing the productive capabilities of that land. The bill achieves this by regulating all matters relating to planning, determining, developing, utilizing, managing, controlling, and supervising the lands.

It is worth noting that the provisions that protect agricultural lands designated for sustainable crops from transformation is not absolute. Where there is a public interest need to transform then land, then this may be authorized. The elucidation to Article 44(2) defines what sort of projects would constitute the public interest. Some of these projects include, among others, roads, irrigation channels, airports, train stations and rail networks, and electricity generation sites.

When the government acquires designated agricultural land in the public interest, compensation is to be paid. This compensation can be financial or it may be in the form of a land swap.

There are two types of sanctions set out in the bill: administrative and criminal. The administrative sanctions are standard warning letters and fines, among others. The criminal sanctions provide for terms of imprisonment up to a maximum of 7 years, and criminal fines of up to IDR 7 billion.

All implementing regulations mandated by the provisions in this bill are to be implemented within 24 months of the bill’s enactment.

Another issue that the bill sort of alludes to but does not really address is food sustainability with respect to supply. The idea that protecting agricultural land for sustainable crops is an honorable one. However, a more pressing concern over time is going to be feeding the people. Indonesia is heading towards a scenario where there are going to be more people to feed and an inability to feed them. Simply, there is not enough land to protect as agricultural land without reducing more of Indonesia's natural forests to farm land in order to be food self-sufficient.

Climate change, irrespective of whether it is attributed to human-made global warming or a natural phenomenon, is also going to be a major consideration going forward.

The bill is interesting for what it tries to protect, but really for the bill to have meaning it needs to be part of a much greater regulatory initiative directed to greater and longer-lasting food self-sufficiency.

A Brief Overview of the Amendments to the General Courts Law...

This is a slightly modified piece that first appeared over at http://en.hukumonline.com, which is hukumonline's English language site.

One of the busiest periods at the 2004 – 2009 House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat / DPR), at least in a legislation sense, has been the several weeks in the lead up to the transition to the new parliament of 2009 – 2014. The previous DPR has succeeded in passing a raft of legislation on all manner of substantive matters, including the Second Amendment Bill to Law No. 2 of 1986 on General Courts.

The amendment bill is important as it takes into account the 2006 decision of the Constitutional Court that invalidated parts of the law as it related to the Judicial Commission.

The primary purpose of the amendments is to clarify and codify matters with respect to:

1. Internal supervision of judges by the Supreme Court and external supervision of judges by the Judicial Commission;
2. Strengthen the requirements with respect to the appointment of judges to courts to ensure that the process is transparent and accountable, among others, and to ensure that all judges have successfully completed appropriate judicial training;
3. Regulate special courts and the ad hoc judges;
4. Regulate mechanisms associated with the appointment and dismissal of judges;
5. The prosperity / wealth of judges;
6. Regulate transparency issues related to decisions and time frames to hand-down decisions;
7. Rules to ensure transparency in case fees, and the mechanisms utilized in the management of case fees;
8. Legal aid; and
9. Judicial Honor Board, and the obligation incumbent upon judges to abide by and uphold a judicial code of ethics and a judicial code of conduct.

The bill generally amends current articles to reflect the points noted above. However, the bill also includes a number of new articles to provide specific provisions. For example, between articles 13 and 14 a further six articles have been inserted, namely 13A – 13F.

Article 13A deals with issues regarding supervision by the Supreme Court and the Judicial Commission.

Article 13B deals with matters relating to the integrity and personal characteristics of judges, as well as judges honesty, fairness, and professionalism.

Furthermore, Article 13D deals with matters specifically related to the functions of the Judicial Commission as they relate to external supervision.

Finally, Article 13F permits the Judicial Commission to review / analyze decisions handed down by judges with respect to making recommendations relating to the mutation (rotation) of judges through specific courts.

Judges have certain rights with respect to remuneration including allowances. These are laid out in Article 25, but include a basic salary and positional allowances, as well as health insurance, housing, and transport.

Unfortunately, Article 14 states that to be appointed as a judge a person must be between the ages of 25 and 40. This would seemingly marginalize a vast amount of experienced legal professionals who might want to move to the bench after a long stint in private or public practice of the law.

With respect to case fees and administration the bill inserts Article 52A which states that courts must provide access to the community in order that the community can obtain information about case fees and decisions. Further, courts must provide copies of the decision no later than 14 days from the date the decision is handed down. Failure by the courts on either of these two points will see the Chief Judge of the particular court sanctioned.

The provisions are clearly intended to improve the administration of justice in Indonesia by demanding higher standards in the recruitment process, higher standards and more pro-active supervision of the administration of justice, and increasing and improving the access that the community is entitled to have to the justice system as a whole as part of a citizens constitutionally guaranteed rights to have access to a function, fair, and non-discriminative court system.

As always, enforcement is the key.

05 October 2009

Is SBY a Walking, Talking Trigger for Natural Disasters?

You know what they say, "small things amuse small minds". There is nothing amusing about the recent earthquakes in Padang, and the more than 1000 lives lost there, or the tsunami that devastated Aceh in 2004. However, the idea of linking the current president, Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or SBY, to the regular natural disasters that confront Indonesia is. It is not only amusing, but reeks of political opportunism. When politicians and others must be focused on disaster response and then putting into place appropriate disaster response mechanisms to ensure that aid and assistance gets to where its needed most and fast.

The recent Padang earthquakes has once again highlighted how under-prepared and ill-equipped Indonesia is with respect to responding to natural disasters. This is no longer a simple case of passing a little bit of legislation here and there, and pumping out a few ministerial regulations. It is now a matter of ensuring that the provisions of the laws and regulations as they currently stand are given the amount of resources required to guarantee that they function.

There will always be disasters that one cannot prepare for, or no manner of preparation will be enough. The tsunami in Aceh is evidence of that. Yet, there are still initiatives that can be undertaken to minimize the tragic outcomes.

Anyways, back to the original intent of the post; is SBY to blame for the earthquake?

It seems a little far-fetched to suggest that SBY is responsible for the earthquake. He might have been re-elected by 60% of the population however this is hardly a mandate to shift tectonic plates. SBY might even think that he is God-like, but there is a big difference between God-like and God.

The whispers persist though that SBY is an unlucky man. He was born on an unlucky day where the date and the stars were aligned against him being lucky. Now, for an unlucky man, he has certainly been pretty lucky when all things are considered; rising through the ranks to general, a stint as a cabinet minister, and now a second term as president. Most Indonesians would consider that to be pretty lucky.

Then again, there have been a litany of natural and man-made disasters during his tenure. So many, in fact, that there is an old joke that SBY stands for "selalu bencana ya". The translation of which is 'always disaster yes', which sort of loses its impact as a play on the president's initials.

Permadi, is a politician that was originally associated with the Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle of Megawati, but who of more recent times has shifted allegiance to Gerindra, the party of Prabowo. Permadi is known as a practicing mystic. He is also known for his penchant of wearing all black clothes, allegedly the "all black" theme includes his underwear. Now, according to Permadi, the Primbon is pretty clear that the numbers in the president's date of birth are unlucky. They are numbers that will always attract natural disasters to Indonesia.

So, for Permadi, the best option is that SBY step down from the presidency and focus on other things. It is clear, to Permadi, that if SBY refuses to show heart and step down a bigger and more devastating natural disaster will befall Jakarta. Is this irresponsible fear-mongering, political opportunism, or a genuine belief that the president is an unlucky man? It is a bit of everything, but that said, it hardly seems likely that the president is going to resign from office because people think he has been born under an unlucky alignment of stars.

What is a little more bizarre for me is that the president gives this idea credence by addressing it. A couple of years ago in an address to local officials in West Sumatra he broached the topic and said something along the lines of, 'just because I am president does not give me the power to command the forces of nature'. I guess there is nothing like feeding the fire.

My condolences to all those who lost family, friends, and colleagues in the devastation wrought by the two earthquakes last week. May you find the strength to rebuild your shattered lives and may the government get its act together enough to assist you through the challenges you face.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

Polygamy -- A Solution to Adultery and Divorce?

Keysar Trad tends to be a polarizing figure. The President of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia is renowned for speaking his mind. His views on polygyny and polygamy are likely to give rise to heated debate, or none at all, as to whether the practice of a man having two or more wives is acceptable within the cultural framework prevalent in Australian culture at the current time.

Trad's views are not anything new in the sense that he has held them for a long while and spoken of them often. Most recently at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney last weekend (3-4 October 2009 at the Sydney Opera House) as part of a presentation on polygamy and other Islamic values.

The idea that polygamy is an Islam or Muslim issue is not entirely true. So, it is always interesting that it is portrayed as such with comments like, in Judeo-Christian beliefs we marry one person for life. The Emperor Justinian introduced the concept of a legally enforceable monogamy in 534.

Nevertheless, where this gets all a little tricky is the suggestion that polygyny or polygamy might be a means of dealing with increasing adulterous behaviour and divorces that result as a consequence of such behaviour. This seems to me to be an over-simplification of a complex problem. That is not to say that sometimes the simplest of solutions are the most obvious, but it seems to negate our very nature as human beings to be jealous of others. It is not unheard of for people to kill one another of petty jealousies.

Yet, what is good for the gander must also be good for goose. Not only men have affairs, women have them too. So, if polygyny and polygamy are a means of reducing adulterous behaviour and subsequent conflict and divorce, then women who have affairs must also be afforded the opportunity to take on a second or third or a fourth husband as required. Let's face it, if the viagra is no longer cutting the slack, women have needs too (so I am told). Yet, polyandry is frowned upon.

It is worth noting that bigamy in Australia will set you up for a possible jail stint. Hence, it is much more practical to go and get a little bit on the side as an affair rather than marry to get it on the side. Nevertheless, the law recognizes that some people opt for long-term affairs and deals with the issues that arise with the existence of a whole other family. The new "mistress laws" as they are sometimes referred, are in fact an amendment to the Family Law Act of 1975. It is also worth noting that Australian law recognizes plural marriages for the purposes of the division of property when the plural marriage fails / dissolves.

Polygamous marriage occurs in Australia. The manner in which it is done shows a good deal of creativity in getting around the criminal provisions that prohibit plural marriages. In many ways it resembles the Indonesian practice of "kawin siri".

Kawin siri is a marriage ceremony that is witnessed and conforms to the standards imposed on Muslims with respect to being married in the eyes of God. It is, however, not registered and therefore is not legally recognized. In the Australian context something similar happens. The couple are married according to Islam. However, the marriage is not registered and in a very strict legal sense the husband and his second, third, or fourth wives are living in a de facto relationship and not a legally recognized marriage.

Nevertheless, as was noted, the amendments to the law would mean that the second, third, and fourth wives in the event of a breakdown of the marriage / de facto relationship would be entitled to claim property or support.

Trad relies on the "fact" that Islam demands very specific requirements from a man before he can enter into a plural marriage, including the permission of his first wife. The arguments as to whether the first wife really has any choice are arguments for another post, perhaps. However, it is interesting to read the argument characterized in this way:

"Yes, polygyny may lead to jealousy. We are all human. But in a caring and sharing world where we become euphoric when we give to those in need, sponsor orphans and provide foster care, the ultimate in giving is for a woman to give a fraction of her husband's time and affection to another woman who is willing to share with her. It is a spiritually rewarding experience that allows women to grow while the husband toils to provide for more than one partner."

I am not sure whether I have written this post to spark debate or merely because I find the arguments somewhat intriguing. In any event, perhaps the question must be, "should bigamy be a crime?"

(Picture courtesy of here).