Saturday, May 31, 2014

Koran recitation as campaign strategy: Abbot and Costello run for President

Re: the latest Jakarta Post article on the campaign shenanigans of the war criminal and the political ragdoll:  Wati tells me “I endorse 100% of this article.  That's my biggest headache--we have only 2 to choose from, and both presidential candidates are equally bad. Perhaps I should consult a psychic who can advise me how to cast my vote. . . ."

Election or ‘Muslim Idol’ contest?
Ary Hermawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Opinion | Fri, May 30 2014, 9:55 AM

It has long been the norm that politicians use Islam as electoral bait. But never has it been so intense as in this year’s election, which resembles an idol contest to find the best Muslim president.

The media reports that the candidates were challenged to engage in a Koran recital duel has left me flabbergasted.

I am not sure whether the challenge was serious or just being sarcastic, but all these rumors about Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo Subianto not being Muslim enough to lead the country are getting ridiculous and should be stopped.

It was Mufidah Kalla, Jokowi’s running mate Jusuf Kalla’s wife, who told reporters that Jokowi and her husband were fed up with all the negative campaigning thrown against them. “Pak JK [Jusuf Kalla] said, if Jokowi keeps getting accused of [being a non-Muslim], he will hold a Koran recital contest between Jokowi and Prabowo,” she said on the sidelines of an event that was organized by a group known as the Green Hijabers (women in Muslim headscarves) to declare support for the Jokowi-Kalla pair.

It is more upsetting that the Muslim leaders, who are also divided over the election, are taking this political farce so seriously.

Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin, who obtained his PhD from UCLA in the US, for instance, recently claimed that he once tested Jokowi by allowing him to lead a zuhur prayer. He said he briefly lost focus on his own prayers since he had to ensure that Jokowi got it all right. “Allhamdulillah, everything was correct. There was nothing wrong with [his prayers],” he said.

Din might have meant well to reassure anxious voters, but, seriously, knowing how to pray in a correct manner should never be in a presidential resume.

Whether or not a president will succeed has nothing to do with how correct or how often they pray. It is downright irrelevant.

Prabowo is lucky to have gained the support of all the Islamic parties: the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the Crescent Star Party (PBB) and the United Development Party (PPP). All he has to do is wear a peci and pray solemnly and observantly at the mosque to get the nod from Muslim voters, just as he did a few days and even hours before registering his candidacy.

Pictures of him praying next to the nation’s political bigwigs including PPP leader Suryadharma Ali, now a graft suspect, can easily be found on the Internet. Regardless of whether Prabowo and Suryadharma are really devout Muslims, what they did is political kitsch at its most banal.

And this is not going to end anytime soon.

With the Islamic fasting month starting two weeks before voting day on July 9, the issue of religiosity will only intensify. During Ramadhan, most Indonesian Muslims try hard to look more devout and observant, and they listen to what the preachers say. Neither camp will waste the chance to bedevil each other from the pulpits.

It is hard to fathom who is really to blame for this. Voters, I think, have become more rational and secular in the past few years. Poll results have confirmed that trend. But why then is this happening?

I point my finger at a handful of small-minded Muslims and politicians who have never tired of playing this issue to advance their respective causes.

They are currently engaged in fear mongering through social media, which is the most effective tool for spreading rumors and creating mass hysteria.

Fear is an effective psychological instrument to sway voters during elections. Both camps have been capitalizing on this. Sadly, as of today, there is perhaps nothing more unsettling to many Indonesian voters than knowing that one of the presidential candidates is the enemy of Islam.

It is such a shame that this is still happening now. For this is arguably the most interesting presidential election ever with both candidates having hard-core, die-hard supporters. Debates on social media about the pros and cons of the two contenders are so vibrant and intense that people are unfriending friends and even leaving Facebook because of it.

It is also worth mentioning that Jokowi and Prabowo are very close to non-Muslims. Jokowi’s current deputy in Jakarta and former deputy in Surakarta are Christians. Prabowo’s mother and brother are also Christians.

They should be the first to publicly denounce negative campaigns attacking candidates’ beliefs and should not play along with them by trying to present themselves as better Muslims.

The two, I believe, have strong enough electoral power to do that. They could put this folly to rest if they wanted to.

It is true that Muslims account for the largest share of the electorate in the country but there is nothing to gain from perpetuating the idea that someone needs to prove he is good Muslim to become a president.

This is an election, not a “Muslim Idol” contest. 

I know—let’s vote them both off the island! 
Oops—wrong show.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Indonesians in Queens, NY Are Beginning to Learn About Film on Genocide

I really urge anyone who has not seen “The Act of Killing” to do so, but I warn you, it is deeply disturbing and surreal on many levels.  The New York Times ran an article in March about Indonesians living in Queens who had been to a group a screening of the recent documentary about Indonesia’s 1965 genocide.

“The film, released last year, features two notorious figures in the mass killings discussing and even re-enacting some of their actions in the anti-Communist purge. The killers’ boastfulness has shocked some viewers, and the film has brought new attention to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of suspected Communists across the archipelago nation in Southeast Asia. . . .

“For Mr. Pratomo [who had seen the film], it awakened him to the brutality of the killers and the scale of the massacre. ‘I was appalled when I found out about the truth,’ he said. . . .”

 ‘How could it come to this — murdering people as if it were a feast?’

“For some among his generation, the film evoked difficult memories about the years leading up to Suharto’s rule. For some younger Indonesians who have come to New York, the film has been an eye-opening window on a period still shrouded by fear and trauma. . . .

“Mr. Pratomo said the film had helped him realize how much his homeland was scarred by the events of 1965, and he hopes it spurs a search for the truth and justice. . . .

‘There should be a tribunal, there should be reconciliation, there should be an apology,’ he said. ‘And the apology should be accepted and everyone can continue to live together side by side.’

I don’t see how there can be a tribunal, an apology, or any type of healing action.  Those same people who freely admitted to participating in the genocide are still revered as heroes, and appear frequently with politicians and leaders of all stripes.  You can bet that whoever gets elected, even if it’s young, “liberal” Jokowi, they’ll be photographed in front of cheering crowds together with members of the Pancasila Youth Death Squads more times than you can vomit.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

"Which Sukarno imitator would you prefer?"

This is a well-written and easy-to-understand article that appeared in The New Mandala and posted in Indonesia Votes, explaining “how both Prabowo and Jokowi are advertising themselves as the legatees of Indonesia’s first President, Sukarno.”   It is decidedly pro-Jokowi, but that isn’t a bad thing.  The ways in which each try to appropriate the Sukarno legacy to bolster their own candidacies is illuminating.  As author John Roosa puts it, “One champions the rule of law. The other champions himself as Il Duce.”

Sukarno’s Two Bodies
By John Roosa
26 May 2014

Which Sukarno imitator would you prefer? The fellow wearing the black fez, just like the one Sukarno wore, or the fellow professing Sukarno’s slogans?

This is the choice facing Indonesia’s voters in the July 9 presidential election. The race between Prabowo Subianto and Joko Widodo (Jokowi) pits one version of Sukarno against another version. Both candidates advertise themselves as the authentic legatees of the country’s first president. Why are they appropriating the symbols and words of a long-dead president? Suharto, the army general who deposed Sukarno, spent his 32 years in power discrediting him as a relic of the “Old Order.” Why is his ghost still hovering around Indonesian politics?

Prabowo, the former lieutenant general and black ops specialist, likes the visual associations: his microphones are of a 1950s design like those Sukarno was photographed with; his white jacket is like the one Sukarno wore; the backdrops behind his photo-ops contain Sukarno portraits. His campaign managers claimed the large house they are using as their headquarters, Rumah Polonia, was once occupied by Sukarno. In fact, it was occupied by one of his wives, Yurike Sanger, and Sukarno only dropped in for the occasional conjugal visit.

Prabowo Subianto reprises Sukarno as he campaigns during Indonesia’s elections.

The tempo doeloe (old times) style of the campaign launch at Sanger’s former house went to the head of Amien Rais, a leader of an allied political party, who took the microphone to improbably suggest that Prabowo’s heavy-set, droopy-cheeked face resembled Sukarno’s. Rais was like a drunken father of the bride at a wedding party as he watched his protégé, Hatta Rajasa, a faceless political operative, step forward as Prabowo’s running mate. Hatta was chosen because he knows more about the secrets of the ruling oligarchs than just about anyone else: he has been a cabinet minister for the last 13 years and Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs for the last four. That his name is the same as Sukarno’s co-proclaimer of independence is just serendipitous. Prabowo’s campaign managers hoped to take advantage of the coincidence by using the building where Sukarno and Hatta wrote the declaration of independence in 1945 as the site of the campaign launch. They were disappointed to learn that it is a protected landmark.
Prabowo’s invocation of Sukarno’s spirit seems bizarre given that he is the ideological child of Suharto’s New Order and the biological child of a famous enemy of Sukarno’s. His father, a Dutch-educated economist, Sumitro Djojohadikusumo, collaborated with the CIA to sabotage Sukarno’s government and establish a parallel government in Sumatra in the late 1950s. The attempt failed and Sumitro was labeled a traitor. Prabowo (born 1951) partly grew up outside the country in places such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur where his family lived in exile. Sumitro only returned in 1968, after Sukarno had been driven out of power and kept under house arrest (at the house of his Japanese wife, Ratna Sari Dewi). Back in Jakarta, Sumitro became the Minister of Trade and a father figure to the US-trained economists of the so-called “Berkeley mafia” who were helping engineer the New Order’s great natural resource sell-off. Prabowo’s family owes its fortune to the Suharto regime.

What Prabowo sees in Sukarno is the image of a powerful, charismatic leader. He admires the Sukarno who emasculated the political parties and ruled by decree during the Guided Democracy years (1959-66). Prabowo has said that he would like to create a new version of Guided Democracy. His political philosophy from the 1990s, when he started speaking to journalists, to the present consists of essentially a single point: Indonesia needs a strong leader. His speeches and his party’s literature revolve around this point. Gerindra, like its emblem of the Garuda (the bird on which Lord Vishnu rode), is just a vehicle; it is designed to ferry its god to the presidential palace, an earthly paradise for worshippers of state power. Prabowo and his billionaire brother created the political party so that he could run for president. He has had no patience for the day-to-day wrangling of law-making and the rule of law: he has not served as a member of parliament. He has no experience with government, only with the military, business, and the business of the military (as an international arms trader). His entire political career has been an exercise in personal aggrandisement.

Gerindra’s manifesto characterises the post-Suharto political system as “liberal democracy” that is not in accordance with the “national culture.” Electoral democracy is decentered and dissolute; it has made the body politic flaccid, preventing a “strong national leadership” from standing erect. In Prabowo’s mind, everything about a country – the quality of its economic system, culture, and international standing – depends on the “leadership factor.” The solution for all of Indonesia’s ills is a “strong national leadership,” meaning himself, the great one riding the $300,000 Lusitano horse. [see?  I KNEW that horse cost a fortune!!]

Prabowo’s version of the Führerprinzip cannot be equated to Sukarno’s without anachronism. Sukarno built a cult around his leadership at a time when the nation was in an existential crisis: the Constitutional Assembly was deadlocked on the basic principle of the state, with the Islamic political parties insisting on an Islam as the basic principle; army colonels in the outer islands had set up a rival government with help from Prabowo’s father and the Dulles brothers; armed partisans of an Islamic state terrorized West Java, even in areas close to the capital; the country was under martial law; cabinets had trouble lasting for more than a few months. And so on. Sukarno, as a product of the mass struggle for independence, presented himself as the “tongue” of the people, their voice, not their backbone or élan vital. His July 5, 1959 Dekrit was a last resort, an unwanted outcome. This authoritarian polity was not what he had worked towards since becoming a political leader in the 1920s, even as he put the best face on it.
Prabowo is condemning “liberal democracy” at a time when the Indonesian state is not facing an emergency, when much can be done to expand the rule of law and democratic rights. His ideas have not changed since he was part of Suharto’s praetorian guard. A journalist interviewed him in 1997: “He quotes academic studies that claim that a viable democracy can only be maintained after a society reaches a per capita GNP of around $2,000 (Indonesia is at $940). In the meantime, he says, there must be stability to achieve a basic economic level of welfare.” One knows it’s a fool’s game when the goalposts keep moving: Indonesia’s GDP per capita today is about $3,500 but supposedly it is still not enough to have a “liberal democracy.”
Prabowo fills his speeches with the populist, anti-imperialist rhetoric that has been the stock-in-trade of the Sukarnoist political tradition. He condemns the privatization of state-owned companies, deregulation pushed by the IMF, and the money politics behind Indonesian elections. According to him, foreign corporations, neoliberal policy wonks, and kleptocrats conspire to exploit the sweated labor of Indonesian peasants and workers. It is hard to take the rhetoric seriously coming from a wealthy capitalist who has been negligent in paying his own workers. Gerindra would not exist without the infusions of money from his brother, Hashim, the 32nd richest man in Indonesia according to Forbes. (If Prabowo becomes president one can be sure Hashim will quickly rise in the rankings.) Prabowo’s opportunistic use of the Sukarnoist rhetoric has occasionally landed him in trouble. Because of his promises to reassert state ownership over unnamed foreign-owned businesses, Hashim had to issue a press release to assure spooked investors that his brother has no plans to repeat Sukarno’s nationalization policies.

For the sake of historical accuracy, he should build his campaign around Suharto nostalgia. Prabowo wants to return the country to some form of the pre-engineered electoral system and unaccountable presidency of Suharto’s time. The problem he faces is that Suharto lacked one thing that he needs to win elections: the image of a virile, charismatic public speaker forcefully denouncing enemies and rallying “the masses.” Suharto’s public image – the quiet, reserved, non-ideological administrator – was designed to be the antithesis of Sukarno’s. Prabowo is designing a new mutant creature, transplanting the wild, romantic heart of Sukarno into the stiff, rotting corpse of Suhartoism.

If Prabowo invokes Sukarno to legitimate his retrograde, personalistic politics, Jokowi invokes Sukarno to legitimate a polar opposite political agenda. Jokowi, the choice of Sukarno’s biological daughter, Megawati (whose mother is another wife, Fatmawati), to be her party’s presidential candidate, represents a clear break with the existing politics of rent-seeking. As mayor of Solo (2005-12) and governor of Jakarta (2012-14), he cracked down on the civil servants’ bribe-taking and embezzling, thereby freeing up money to be spent on public goods. The progress in just two years in dealing with Jakarta’s problems, such as flooding, traffic congestion, lack of green space, and poor public health, has been impressive, especially when compared with the passivity of previous governors. Jokowi repeatedly states that the government has enough revenue to finance social welfare projects, as long as the revenue is not diverted into private pockets. [well, there goes that god intention.]  He has shown what can be done when civil servants are serving the public.

Jokowi, unlike Sukarno and Prabowo, is not given to grandstanding. His speeches, effective and straightforward, have no flair. For his campaign slogan, he has borrowed Sukarno’s formula of Trisakti – the three sakti-s. Sakti connotes a kind of sacred or magical power. In a 1963 speech, Sukarno called for Indonesia to be “standing on its own feet” in its politics, economics and culture. At the time, Sukarno was defending the peculiarities of Guided Democracy. Jokowi has no desire to return to that form of authoritarianism. His interpretation of Trisakti is generic, abstracted from the original context. For Jokowi, who claimed Trisakti to be his guiding principle as early as 2012, it has practical import. It means, for instance, in economic terms, a greater emphasis on domestic production for domestic consumption, a reduction in the massive importation of things such as rice and sugar that can be easily produced in Indonesia. It means deriving greater revenue from the mines and oil wells that have so far enriched foreign corporations and a small group of local oligarchs, such as Aburizal Bakrie, the head of Golkar who has joined forces with Prabowo.
Jokowi’s commitment to the rule of law means that he is trying to overcome the entrenched legacy of both Sukarno’s Guided Democracy and Suharto’s New Order. Unlike every other presidential candidate since the first post-Suharto democratic election in 1999, he is seriously proposing to improve what social scientists call state capacity – its ability to collect taxes and spend that tax money on public goods – instead of just reshuffling the same set of rent-seekers. Prabowo has reportedly pledged a certain number of ministries to two of the parties supporting him (Golkar and PKS). That is the usual practice: the parties of the winning coalition receive ministerial posts as rewards. It is a sublime experience for them, sometimes prompting tears. They then proceed to mercilessly squeeze all the money they can out from their departments. With Jokowi, there is a chance that things will turn out differently. He has stated that he will not reward his allied parties with ministries.

The image of Sukarno (left) is used on an advertisement for Jokowi.

Jokowi’s “vision and mission” statement is a detailed 42-page document, quite distinct from Prabowo’s 9-page, insubstantial, hastily written statement. While it contains some boilerplate prose, it also contains concrete proposals and carefully considered ideas. In elaborating the meaning of Trisakti, Jokowi’s statement lists nine priorities for his administration. Implicitly alluding to Sukarno’s Nine Points speech of June 1966 (Nawaksara), in which Sukarno defended his record against accusations from the newly triumphant Suharto, Jokowi names the priorities the Nine Ideals (Nawacita). One ideal is to “uphold human rights and reach just resolutions for past cases of human rights violations.” Jokowi specifically mentions the “1965 Tragedy” and the case for which Prabowo was responsible: the disappearance of political activists in 1998.
When it comes to imitating Sukarno, Jokowi is as much an imposter as Prabowo. It could not be otherwise. Sukarno was a protean and unique figure. Jokowi adopts the left-wing populism of Sukarno while (thankfully) repudiating the authoritarian tendencies. Prabowo adopts the authoritarian tendencies while insincerely mouthing the rhetoric of left-wing populism. One champions the rule of law. The other champions himself as Il Duce. That both of them are emphasizing their allegiance to Sukarno indicates the enduring hold he has over the public’s imagination of state power.

Sukarno tried to embody the entire nation in himself and believed in the impossible idea that he could singlehandedly bind all the disparate groups together. Every year on independence day, he stepped behind a bank of microphones to deliver a lengthy speech that explained where the nation had come from, where it was, and where it was going. It was nothing like a US president’s “state of the union” address. It was about the meaning of the nation’s existence. The speech was broadcast over the state radio stations and many Indonesians reverently listened at the same time in sonic communion. He once said his monologue over the airwaves was really “a two-way conversation between Sukarno-the-man and Sukarno-the-People.”
In The King’s Two Bodies (1957), Ernst Kantorowicz wrote of the medieval kings of Europe having both a mortal body and an eternal body. As the embodiment of the entire state, the king’s body was also the “body politic.” It was a conception of royal power that can only be grasped by considering some political ideas as simultaneously theological ideas. The Indonesian state, like all other states today, carries its own theology, involving itself in ideas of immortality, the sacred, and the sublime. We have not transcended the medieval state in this respect, only sublimated it in different forms. As Benedict Anderson has argued, nationalism is better understood as a religion than an ideology.

Sukarno, given his central role in formulating the permanent state ideology (Pancasila), proclaiming independence, an irreversible event of eternal significance (sekali merdeka, tetap merdeka; once independent, forever independent), and ruling as its first president (appointed at one point as “president for life”), seems destined to reign as the immortal corpus mysticum of Indonesia’s body politic.

Sukarno is dead. Long live Sukarno.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Interlude, with Thailand Coup

It’s not Aceh and it’s not the Rohingya but it is Wati, who’s been keeping us abreast of Indonesian politics and is now in Bangkok where she has a second home.  She sent me this two-day update:

Hello All,
After feeling a bit of relief that the Bumrungrad doctor complimented my health, “considering your age--" the creep-- I took Nội for an early dinner last night in a nearby food court, and then we went people watching in nearby Soi Nana where tourists go to have fun with the young ladies.

Nội and I stayed out a bit, waiting for the weather getting cooler. At 6.30pm Nội got a call from her daughter and in a panic asked the waiter to translate a word for me. The waiter looked annoyed and I asked Nội not to force him to do that. Later he came back with an iPhone and showed the translation of what Nội asked for.

The screen showed "coup d'état. Government overthrown."

I told Nội to calm down and I paid the bill and we walked for about an hour from Soi Nana to the emporium--all the BTS or sky trains that we passed were jammed with people and had long lines trying to buy tickets. Roads were full with cars that got stuck in traffic.
I left Nội at her bus stop.

It was 8pm and I stopped to buy a few things in the Emporium and Seven Eleven (usually open 24 hrs). The staff was obviously distraught and packing to leave, but their faces remained calm and they gave friendly greetings.

I was home by 9pm; the streets looked so quiet from our window.
This morning everything seems normal and now I am reading papers with the hope that [her husband] can come home safely from the airport tonight since his flight will land at 9.30 pm and he has to go through immigration, collect his luggage etc. and the curfew will be on at 10pm.
The trip from Suvarnabhumi to Le Raffine will take at least 45 minutes. . . .

This is life as of now in Bangkok.


Update May 23

BBC and CNN now also have a blackout here. The curfew will start in 40 minutes -- exactly the time when my husband’s flight will land from Hanoi.

It’s rather spooky when I look out of our windows.
I  "kicked " Noi out and told her to go home at 5 pm today although she still wants to finish her work.


more info: 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Running mates: shine up your halos . . .

Okay my friends, cub reporter Wati just let me know:
Jokowi picked Jusuf Kalla as his running mate.
There’s a bit of a nail in the old coffin . . .

And Prabowo picked Hatta Radjasa, whose daughter married President Yudhoyono’s son....

“It’s getting more interesting,” she says. “Few believe that Jokowi is still ahead 12% . ..
And as we know, the two VP  candidates are not exactly as  "clean" as angels. . . . but who in my country is, nowadays?  Aiyaaaa . . .”

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The devil you know . . . is still the devil

Wati sent me a cartoon her sister found in the Jakarta papers.  

Pak Suharto is saying “ Be careful kids; do not trust what my former son- in- law says."

His former son-in-law, you will recall, is our favorite war criminal Probowo Subianto, currently edging ahead in the polls for presidential pick.  Just typing that makes me need to lie down.

Wati’s sis writes, “All I can say is that there are still mixed feelings about who is the  better person for RI 1 [that’s Republic of Indonesia #1, or President].  While most believe in Jokowi's capabilities and intentions, others feel that he will not be able to face his opponents if he becomes RI 1. So some will cast their votes for Prabowo - for better or worse - at least he will be very decisive on urgent matters.”

Well, yes, that is pretty darned clear.

I have some questions for my senators and congress people and the Secretary of State and Hillary and Bill Clinton (separately of course) about how the US will deal with Indonesia once it has a war criminal and terrorist as president?  We have boycotted imports and sanctioned countries for far less grievous offenses.  And we seem to be sitting idly by as Jakarta yawns in the face of the disregard for the Helsinki MoU and the gang-rape of women by so-called Sharia police (ie thugs) who have by an large given their support to Prabowo.   Plus, he’s received the nod from PPP, the major Islamist Party.

Wati thinks that Jokowi should now choose an Islamist running mate to counteract the loss of votes he will get; however someone like  Jusuf Kalla will act as “a boomerang.” The non-Muslim population, however, including Chinese voters, will support Jokowi, such is their loathing for Probowo --remember, he was also involved in the extermination of 500,000+  ethnic Chinese in Indonesia in the 1960’s “Communist purge,” an event recounted in the 2012 documentary “The Act of Killing.”

As Director Joshua Oppenheimer told the Diplomat in January of this year in an interview about the film, “The leading contender in the presidential election is former Army General Prabowo Subianto, the son-in-law of Suharto, the dictator who created the genocide. He has the dubious distinction of being the very first person ever to be put on a blacklist for his role in masterminding mass murder and torture. That is to say, he’s not allowed in the United States. This is not to hold the U.S. up as some great judge of political moral conduct. Many of the atrocities that Prabowo is responsible for the U.S. supported tacitly or directly but I think that it’s very important for Indonesians to take impunity seriously. Every time The Act of Killing wins an award, every time it receives accolades, it puts the film back in the headlines in Indonesia and with it, the issues of impunity that it raises.”

Friday, May 16, 2014

Jokowi has a plan . . . sort of

Wati is back in Jakarta and keeping an eagle eye on the political scene.

Finally Jokowi announced his "mission" if elected President.

Here are his 6 summarized points (source: a reporter from the Kompas)

1. Education: Indonesia  needs a “mental revolution,” starting in elementary school. Education should emphasize character building, ethics," budi pekerti" (roughly translated: mental health, integrity etc), and not science, mathematics, physics, etc

[Can you believe this??!?  I am absolutely appalled that Jokowi calls this his education “mission,” in a country where illiteracy is rampant, especially among women. How can he propose building morals (which I agree is needed because as we can see, no one has them) but then throw out core curriculum like math and science?  Amazing.  Indonesia seems spoiled for choice as far as presidential candidates go. Either a war criminal who’s terrorized his own people or an idiot who really is out to make a bigger mess of the country than has already happened. ]

2. Farming: to date Indonesia has not produced the necessary variety of crops and uses farmland that produces only limited amounts of rice. Jokowi believes that too much farmland is being sacrificed for housing, mining, and industry.

3. Fisheries: Indonesia's fishing fleet lacks technology compared to foreign fleets. For example foreign boats have canneries and processing plants directly on the boats

4. Energy: Indonesia needs to maximize its use of cheaper energy source such as gas and coal.

5. Infrastructure: The country needs to improve its airports, harbors and railroads. He will introduce a toll system in Indonesian waters. [???]

6. Bureaucracy in government administration: He will make more use of the internet and online systems to provide public services including administrative oversight and supervision.

[He’d better be careful, since Jakarta keeps censoring internet sites.]

My impression: so far so good but AGAIN, Indonesians are never lacking in good promises but hardly ever keep them.

We’ll see."

[I on the other hand am beginning to think there is no hope for Indonesia at all.]

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

And this is how Jakarta is dealing with the abduction of 200 Nigerian girls, so . . .

A friend writes:

“Dear Sara,
Below please find another example of how the ministers under SBY [current President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] deal with women’s issues.
Therefore it will be a waste of time to write to SBY regarding the caning of the rape victim in Aceh.
The only possible way to have any influence is to use the foreign press as social pressure, as a reminder to  whoever will be elected this year that Indonesia will lose its credibility as a leader among ASEAN nations. And as long as the Indonesian government consists of incompetent and corrupt officials, countries like Malaysia, Singapore etc. will overtake our position as leaders in world affairs.”

Communications Minister Under Fire for Response to Boko Haram Question
The Jakarta Post, May 12, 2014
Jakarta. Gaffe-prone Communications Minister Tifatul Sembiring stoked ire on Twitter after he appeared to make light of a question about a website supporting Nigeria-based militant group Boko Haram — responsible for thousands of killings and the recent kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls — even as he moved to ban a popular video sharing site over supposedly “pornographic” content.
Radical Islamist website Arrahmah has praised the terrorist group.

“Mr. @tifsembiring, you promised to fight pro-terrorism websites. How will you respond against @arrahmah which is pro-BokoHaram?” Islamic Liberal Network (JIL) activist Akhmad Sahal tweeted on Sunday.

“Do you want a serious one or a joke?” Tifatul, a senior member and former chairman of the tIslamist leaning Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), responded.

Sahal said that he expected a serious, official answer.
Tifatul wrote: “[You] go to school far away and still ask about halal-haram, please bro… :D.”

Sahal is based at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, according to his twitter information.
He asked if Tifatul’s tweet constituted the official government response.
“He he he. I haven’t answered about Boko Haram [because] it became a fuss. You yourself know whether kidnapping is halal or haram. Don’t you have other work to do, commentators… :D,” the Communications Minister wrote.

The exchange sparked outrage over its seeming flippancy, and it coincided with the ministry’s controversial decision to ban popular video sharing site Vimeo, which caused a furor of its own.
Political activist Fadjroel Rachman tweeted: “Boko Haram = halal-haram? For God’s sake minister.”

Tifatul is no stranger to online controversy or off-color responses to tragedy.
In March, he attracted attention for following a pornographic Twitter account “by accident.”

In November of 2010, followers accused him of hypocrisy after he was seen shaking hands with US First Lady Michelle Obama after stating that he did not shake hands with women for religious reasons.
“I tried to prevent [the handshake] but Mrs. Michelle held her hands too far toward me, so we touched,” he tweeted at the time.

In 2009, he blamed immorality for a Sumatra earthquake and other natural disasters.
He has over 756,000 Twitter followers.