Author Archives: Oigal

Angry Indonesian Cows

Cows and corruption, and another view on the great Cattle Carnage Controversy.

It’s not often but sometimes (shock, horror) the Drum jumps (rolls) to the wrong conclusion.  Like most humans, the Drum was appalled at the treatment of livestock by ignorant cowards (Seriously, how brave do you have to be, to torture a bound and tethered dumb animal) however a recent email caused a bit of a re-think.

We do use the term “most humans’ as some trolling dills and Indonesian Ministers have actually commented that it is all part of an Australian, Western, White conspiracy to impose artificial and unacceptable moral standards on others.  Got news for you plonkers, an arsehole is an arsehole no matter what colour or race you are.  Oh and while on Indonesian Ministers, grab a copy of this week’s tempo, where the poor dear is wilting under pressure from cronies from our favourite “clean” party for special treatment in the very lucrative and dirty frozen meat import trade.  Is there no department that is clean in Indonesia?

Now with the rant out of the way, here’s the email that caused the rethink.

Dear Sir,

I must introduce myself. My name is Scot Braithwaite and my life has basically revolved around live export since I was 10 years old. I was unloading cattle boats in Malaysia at the age of 13. I have worked for all the major cattle companies including as a Head Stockman in the Northern Territory. I have a degree in economics from the Queensland University and I personally have sold more than 1.5 million head of cattle into Indonesia since 1991. I am presently employed as the marketing manager for Wellard rural exports.

I am writing to you after the Monday program to say that although I abhor the treatment of the animals shown in the video, your one sided approach to the subject and the possible effect of that of a ban on live exports is too big a price to pay for a report based on the evidence of an organization that’s charter is to shut us down. I have the following points to make. I would like to have the same time as those who denigrated my life to show you the other side of our industry. To show you what is really going on. In Australia there used to be thing about “A fair Go”. You have gone with images provided by one person followed up by your investigative journalist who spent a week in Indonesia. Your report makes out that close to 100% of Australian cattle are treated as was shown on TV.

1 the ship that appears in the footage “for less than 30 seconds” is a vessel that cost tens of millions of dollars to build. We have had 3 separate media groups sail with this ship and it can in no uncertain terms be described as best in class. The Wellard group has another 3 vessels of the same standard with another 2 being built in China. This is a total investment of 400 million dollars to ensure that livestock exports from Australia are undertaken at the utmost levels of cow comfort and animal welfare.

2 the feedlot that was filmed was given a 10 second view. This feedlot is without a doubt world class. Your viewers should have at least had the opportunity to view large numbers of cattle eating and sleeping comfortably in a fantastic facility. This company has in addition moved to kill all his cattle through stunning system that he has control of. This owner has spent 20 years of his life in the industry, has built his business from nothing, has done all that is required of him from an animal welfare point of view yet your reporter makes no mention of these things.

3 within A 3 HOUR DRIVE OR a 15 Minute helicopter there are another 3 world class facilities. All three feedlots including the one filmed, are at, or better than, what can be found in Australia. The cattle being fed, and the ration being fed, leads to a lot less animal health issues then a similar size operation in Australia.

One of these facilities is operated and owned by a large Australian pastoral house. They had no mention in your supposed unbiased report. The operation is run by a North Queensland man who, through His absolute dedication to excellence has built a feedlot and slaughtering system that his company, the industry and himself can be very proud of. The system is closed, all the cattle are already killed through their own abattoir. They import 20 to 25000 cattle year. They have been doing this for at least 5 years. Why should they be shut down? For what reason could anyone justify closing this operation down, especially without even bothering to look at what goes on.

4 the other world class feedlots that could have been investigated with a 3 hour ride in the car are owned by a large publicly listed Indonesian company. In all, they have on feed 50,000 cattle and import about 120,000 cattle a year. They have recently built an abattoir( the one that was briefly shown on the program) They built this 2 years ago as they knew that modern methods must come to Indonesia and they were willing to make the investment to make it happen.

The total investment from these 3 feedlotters alone in infrastructure and stock is over 100 million dollars. Add to that the hundreds of millions that Wellard have recently invested in ships and do you really believe that these people would leave the final product to a murderous bastard with a blunt knife? They not only have tried to ensure the welfare of the animal but have made investments to make the changes all along the chain. These people deserve to have their side of the story heard. If the system is not perfect, and it isn’t, they have the wherewithal and the incentive to make it happen in a very short time.

These 3 importers who have shown a commitment to everything good about animal production, handle 45 % of total imports.

The other major issue that was not covered was the social responsibility that all feedlotters in Indonesia practice. Their operations are in relatively isolated poor areas; the feedlots provide employment opportunity,  advancement through effort, and a market for thousands of tons of feedstuffs grown for the cattle. My understanding is that 8000 people are directly employed by the feedlots and over 1000000 people are reliant on the regular income made from supplying corn silage and other feedstuffs. This is not made up, it is fact. It can be easily checked. I will bet my 1000000 farmers against the 1000000 signatures on the ban order. It is very easy to sit in your comfortable chair and criticize but is it really worth the human cost to ban something that can be fixed and fixed reasonable quickly?

That is Sumatra.

In JKT there is the largest privately owned abattoir that kills about 4 to 6000 heads a month. It is a well run facility that has no welfare issues. In addition it was working on getting a stun system in place well before the 4 corners report.  No photos from here, yet this is another who has been doing the right thing and who will lose his business if the trade is banned.

The largest Importer in to Jakarta, has also built a slaughter facility in the past 12 months. It has not been commissioned yet but can be made ready within a month. They also have a private bone to pick with the program. AS was not reported in the show, abattoirs in Indonesia are operated by any number of individual ‘Wholesalers”. They control the space and the manpower kills their number for the night and then hand over to the next team. In any one night 8 to 10 separate operators can be using the same facility. In the case of the footage of the head slapping the camera panned to the cattle waiting and the tags of AA, Newcastle Waters and his company were made very prominent. Yes, they were there but the team that handled was different to one being filmed. They protest, that their crews are well trained, no head slapping occurs and very large and sharp knives are used to ensure a bloody but quick end. I have no reason to doubt them because I have seen a lot of their cattle handled at point of slaughter and their crews are well trained with immediate results. Where can their case be heard?

I have watched literally thousands of cattle slaughtered in the boxes in Indonesia. Yes there are problems, as there are at every point of slaughter on every type of animal in the world, but 98% of the cattle I watched killed was quick and without fuss. Why is there not one shot of what happens 98% of the time?  The shots of outright cruelty are totally unacceptable and the slaughter of cattle is still gruesome and confronting but is not as prevalent as portrayed in your report. Yes it does some times happen but it is the exception not the rule. And we are already taking steps to improve the system and we have the ability to ensure all animals are stunned in a very short time.

Yes there are a couple of operators who in the short term will not be able to handle the new way. But they will be dropped, no commitment to stunning, no supply. No negotiation. There are also a number of operators privately owned who were, to all intents and purposes, doing the right thing. They were asked to supply through the boxes and they have. They will be asked to only supply though a stunning FACILITY and they will. They have far too much invested in the whole industry over many years to not do as we ask.

I am asking for a fair go. You have been expertly manipulated. Hear the actual other side of the story let the Australian public see both sides. I am happy to make all the arrangements. This is too important to let sit with the images you portrayed on Monday without recourse.

Scot Braithwaite

Scot makes some very valid points and I guess we do tend to knee jerk first and think later..



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‘Wonderful Indonesia’

Greeting the tourism slogan ‘Wonderful Indonesia’ at Jakarta airport; alternatives: Intriguing Indonesia, Indonesia – Simply Inexplicable, and Delectable Dewi.

The Drum notes that rather than addressing the need to clean up the several hundred “hangers on” touts and louts at Jakarta Airport or developing some sort of transport, tourist infrastructure for Indonesia, we have once again bought economy tickets on plan superficial.

The tourism brains trust after much research and endless meetings have come with “Wonderful Indonesia” which is kind of saccharine sweet but hardly reflective of Indonesia. Certainly anyone who has landed at Jakarta airport at 5pm on a Friday is hardly likely to be thinking “wonderful thoughts” on the 3 hour, 25km journey to the city center. It would also be fair to venture “Wonderful Indonesia” would be a bit of stretch if you happen to be an Ahmadiyya for instance.

Oh speaking of mindless, sponsored thuggery, if I may digress for a moment. Did we all enjoy that “Simply Wonderful” piece of Lunatic Theater brought to us by the Minister for Religion this week.  A brilliant dark comedy, gathering all the ignorant thugs in one place and then call the Ahmadiyya and say we just want to talk…uh uh!!  Honestly, people were rolling in the aisles listening to this character trying to tell rational humans that the Ahmadiyya were acting in bad faith by not turning up.

Anyhow back to tourism, perhaps some truth in advertising might be fun

We all know the Uniquely Singapore, Malaysia. Truly Asia, Incredible India, Amazing Thailand etc.  Well we have had a couple of disastrous cracks at this sort of thing in Indonesia before. Who could forget the Garuda English mangling or my personal favorite the “Wings” Airline slogan “Fly is Cheap” (apparently so was their copy writer).

Anyway, it’s one thing to criticize and another to offer a solution. So based on today’s news that retired Generals and Radical religious loons are planning a coup, nail bombs and the ongoing persecution of minorities in Indonesia, the following are the Drum’s offerings for today:


Intriguing Indonesia

Indonesia – Simply Inexplicable

Or the Drum’s favourite

Delectable Dewi


Feel free to suggest some more.


Disclaimer:  I actually think the Jakarta Airport itself is pretty slick, it’s the fight through the touts and louts that must be mind boggling for first time tourists.  Nor do I think the dangerous but comical characters that attended the Religious “Harmony” meeting are representative of anything but the vile underbelly of the human beast. Certainly, they do not represent the Indonesia I know and live in.

‘Wonderful Indonesia’ is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta and near Jakarta airport, and more.

PKS, Old Songs (and Sex)

An unending series of steamy sex scandals in the Justice Party and general hilarity.

Update – 12 April 2011.

The uber-pious are at it again

PKS lawmaker ordered to recite Koran porn incident

It’s time for a laugh again, unless you happen to be one of the people caught up directly in this mob’s hypocrisy (aka Ariel aka Peter-Pan). The ever comedic PKS party threw up (pun intended) yet another contender for Bumbler of the month.  A PKS lawmaker (oh please..) was photographed using his “tablet” (tax payer provided?) to view porn during a recent session of parliament.  Caught in the classic naughty school boy mode  of trying to hide the tablet under desk as he looked at the naughty bits, our horny old toad declared he had downloaded an email by accident. This statement of course had the rest of Indonesia in stitches of laughter.

Not to be outdone and  never missing a moment to provide a laugh,  the current Champion of Comedic Hypocrisy, our very  own twittering, twisted Tifatul (and devotee of the US First Lady) was not going to be dethroned that easily.  The triple T came with a statement reminiscent of the “Who’s on First” routine in it’s sheer silliness;

Tifatul, however, defended Arifinto, saying he could not be charged under the Internet law as the legislator had “unintentionally” downloaded the porn video.

“Those transmitting and distributing porn contents are subject to the law, those downloading are not,” Tifatul said in a statement.”

Of course, looking at the pictures of Arfinto’s tablet it would appear he has downloaded unintentionally into  dozens of files.
Meanwhile Ariel serves five years gaol thanks to hypocrites, what a disgrace!

Oh and to those commentators whining Fitnah etc etc…Where are your foaming hordes demanding justice and gaol time? Where are the so called leaders crying out to protect the youth of the nation?  Feel free to explain to us all the double standards as it is beyond The Drum’s ability to explain without laughing and crying at the same time.


The main problem about shrilling your pious, sanctimonious credentials to all that will listen (and those they don’t wish to hear) is you tend to build a rod for your own back…

The Drum really doesn’t have a lot of time to write this month but could hardly resist an update for old friends.  It seems Anis Hatta and the PKS are once again the source of much smoke as reported in the Jakarta Post today.

A couple of really interesting quotes grabbed The Drums interest:

Yusuf, a PKS legislator in the House from 2004-2009, accused Anis of embezzling Rp 10 billion (US$1.15 million) in campaign funds, which he believed came from unnamed Middle East sources.

Anis said he would not sue Yusuf for defamation as it could prolong the “unhealthy debates.

“It’s an old song,” Anis said.

Now that seems mighty noble of someone whose reputation has taken a few hits of late not to sue but forgive us if we have trouble swallowing the reason why.  We would really love to know whose these unnamed Middle East sources are.  Not that it would be a surprise to find this dodgy mob has an unhealthy love affair with unnamed Middle Eastern sources,  not like they have ever been picky about the company they keep.

Meanwhile, in yet more evidence of the unhealthy obsession with sex that exists within the PKS.

Last week, Yusuf filed a report with the House’s ethics council, alleging slander by PKS chairman Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq.

“Lutfi accused me of molesting somebody else’s wife,” Yusuf said.

What a bunch of amusing but scary, weird, little guys!
Oh speaking of old songs but apropose of nothing,  the Drum’s personal favourite old song is old Eagles track “You can’t hide your *****  eyes”

PKS, Old Songs (and Sex) is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta and near Jakarta airport, and more.

Anis Matta Raunchy Video?

Is PKS chairman Anis Matta involved in a steamy video scandal, or is it a hoax?

It just keeps on getting better and better!

There is nothing like a bit of porn and hypocrites to make your day particularly when it involves those self appointed, self important guardians of Indonesian Morality, the PKS party.

Widely renown for their slapstick comedy productions and who could forget the bumbling but brilliant Tifatul in his role as the love sick oaf in “I grasped the hand of the First Lady”.  Amongst rather vocal and foaming denials, internet rumours, the short but squalid low budget movie preview suggest the hypercritical ones are moving into the more lucrative skin movies. The Drum is unable to confirm rumours that the company that produces Viagra withdrew their product placement due to poor exposure, as one noted blue movie critic said, he ain’t no Long John. PKS communications spokesmen have refused to confirm if the new feature creature film will be available on BlackBerry.

It was widely reported this week that a brand new Indonesian Porn Feature for all your mobile phones has been released.  Apparently it stars an Indonesian sleazebag who bares a striking resemblance to Anis Matta, the secretary general of the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and a deputy speaker in the House of Representatives (another PKS member)  Horny little hypocrites, whoever they are.

Honest - its not me!

It's not me..honest

Now the Drum wouldn’t know or recognize Anis clothed or unclothed as we tend to set minimal standards for friends and associates.  Certainly we tend to avoid bigots and those who push their ignorance and hypocrisy onto to others.

Naturally Anis denies everything (therefore, one can only assume he has considered his words as Allah tends to be fairly harsh on liars). From pictures of Anis, the Drum would tend to support his claims.  Its pretty hard to imagine anyone sober wanting to wangle dangles with him.  This is not a handsome creature nor can one imagine his intellect being a chick magnet.

However, the question we have is why is his case being treated so different to  Ariel?  Specifically…..

  • Why is he not in detention while the Police Investigate?
  • Where are the moronic mobs demanding the death sentence?
  • Where are the idiot judges complaining about how his private activities will ruin us all ?
  • Where are the prosecutors demanding 5 years jail for some nookie in private?

Personally the Drum could not care less if Anis or any other politician spends their time rubbing naughties.  In fact for the PKS a bit of nookie might help brighten their sanctimonious, bitter and twisted outlook on life and keep them out of the bedrooms of the rest of us.

What is a concern is the Hypocrisy in this case as compared to the young people lives these lowlifes wrecked in the Peterpan case.


Another  Lawmaker  Iwan Fajarudin, a National Mandate Party (PAN)  lawmaker from Purworejo Legislative Council has complained a video of him performing sexual acts with a woman has been circulating the internet.  Iwan , who obviously is not the sharpest tool in the shed (although perhaps the biggest), complained that someone had stole the video from his computer and the woman involved was his wife.

Sorry Iwan,  We all know the “someone stole it” defence does not apply, thanks to the Ariel case and porn is porn ask the PKI.  You have to go to jail for the corruption of the nations youth.  We all look forward to seeing you duck and weave as you reach for the soap and Karma claims its rightful fees for service.

Been looking for the links for videos, anyone who has them can send it here :-)

Ok seriously guys! Don’t you think you had better release Ariel before you make even bigger fools of yourselves and the nation? Assuming that is possible but we have faith you will find a way.

Anis Matta Raunchy Video? is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta and near Jakarta airport, and more.

Ariel-Luna Trial Verdict

Sometimes despite all the laughs, Indonesia is hard to take as a serious nation.

Pop Star Ariel was convicted of violating the Anti-Pornography Law and the Criminal Code in relation to three sex videos that feature a man resembling him having sex separately with TV presenters Cut Tari and Luna Maya, the singer’s girlfriend. He was also fined Rp 250 million ($28,000) and 3.5 years gaol.

The presiding judge, Singgih Budi Prakoso, said one of the factors affecting Ariel’s sentence was his celebrity status.

His “crime” was someone stole a personal Video of him having sex and a bunch of sad sexually inadequate tossers decided he should be punished???

Compare that to torturing and burning an Indonesian’s testicles by Indonesian Military, 10 months for lowest ranking person involved and not so much as a reprimand for his Superiors.  Not so much as an arrest for those FPI thugs who beat and bashed 100s at Monas square.  Burn a church no problem, harass orphans not an issue.  Major corruptor, multi exit travel at the airport of your choice. Private sex tape …go to gaol, you sinner…What absolute nonsense.  One has to wonder if there is any truth in the rumour this was payback because Ariel happened to make one very senior government official, shall we say a bit jealous and more than lacking in comparison.

As for Budi the judge, seems to me isn’t a basic principle of law that it applies equally to all people since when did being a celebrity change things.  Sounds like envy to me and looking at the freaks from the FPI I can see why they are envious.  No wonder they are hanging out for the virgins in paradise, because no human would wish to copulate with them unless under duress..


UPDATE: Sometimes despite all the laughs  – “Indonesia is hard to take as a serious nation”  (I want to change that, to Indonesia is just hard to take)  We have since had the grotesque incident were 1500 animals attacked 20 people and beat/hacked 3 to death.  This of course has now been flashed around the world making a mockery of the nation and it’s claims of civilized tolerance. Even more galling was watching government official after government official make apologies and excuses for these cowardly pigs.  The Governor of the region even had the sheer audacity to say the tragedy was beyond humanly powers…Say What!! Who the hell did this person (?)think was doing the hacking and videoing for later viewing pleasure ..a wandering gang of angry peacocks.

Still one would think the government at higher levels would be shocked if not humiliated into doing their job and yet…

Are we ashamed of ourselves yet or what does it take?

From the Jakarta Globe..

Two days after a Muslim lynch mob killed three members of a minority Islamic sect, crowds of furious Muslims set two churches alight as they rampaged in anger over the prison sentence imposed on defendant Antonius Bawengan, 58.

A court in the Central Java town of Temanggung had sentenced the man to five years in jail, the maximum allowable, for distributing leaflets insulting Islam.

But this only enraged the crowd, who said the sentence was too lenient, police said.

“Today was the climax of the trial … The mob shouted that he should receive the death sentence or be handed over to the public,” Central Java province police spokesman Djihartono said.

“There are two churches that have been burned. The windows were shattered and the roofs were charred … There is also another church that was damaged.”

About 1,500 protesters took to the streets and pelted stones at the police, who responded with tear gas and fired warning shots into the air. One police vehicle was set ablaze, Antara news agency reported.

They chanted “kill, kill” outside the court and “burn, burn” as they set upon the churches.

You would think that would spur some action on behalf and yet today..

Two days after a Muslim lynch mob killed three members of a minority Islamic sect, crowds of furious Muslims set two churches alight as they rampaged in anger over the prison sentence imposed on defendant Antonius Bawengan, 58.

A court in the Central Java town of Temanggung had sentenced the man to five years in jail, the maximum allowable, for distributing leaflets insulting Islam.

But this only enraged the crowd, who said the sentence was too lenient, police said.

“Today was the climax of the trial … The mob shouted that he should receive the death sentence or be handed over to the public,” Central Java province police spokesman Djihartono said.

“There are two churches that have been burned. The windows were shattered and the roofs were charred … There is also another church that was damaged.”

About 1,500 protesters took to the streets and pelted stones at the police, who responded with tear gas and fired warning shots into the air. One police vehicle was set ablaze, Antara news agency reported.

They chanted “kill, kill” outside the court and “burn, burn” as they set upon the churches.

Ariel-Luna Trial Verdict is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.

Obama, SBY and Bakso

President Obama visited Indonesia and the most substantial thing to come out of the visit was he likes Bakso.  Curiously enough President Obama and our very own SBY have a lot in common, both were elected by an overwhelming majority of the people and both failed to deliver on what have been and always were somewhat dreamy promises of national unity.

That said, it is difficult to understand the visceral hatred that Obama seems to engender from some admittedly looney sections of the public. Leaving aside the more insane birthers, closet Muslim and Manchurian candidate or and let’s not forget “he was born in Kenya” loons, some of the things said leave any rational observer somewhat gob-smacked.  It’s difficult to know what exactly drives these particularly extreme views besides a general mental imbalance.  After all it can’t be the politics, Gismo is still going, Afghanistan and Iraq still consume trillions of dollars and countless lives and there is even greater drone usage than any time during the Bush administration.  Of course, the attempt to provide health care to literally millions of Americans who do not have it is painted as some sort of socialist takeover.  This is particularly strange as the Health bill directs private companies are to provide the insurance and care which makes it a bizarre sort of socialism anyway.  More to the point, provision of basic health care is something that most of the western world take for granted so what is the issue?

Closer to home, President SBY seems to be having trouble getting anyone to listen to him as corruptors attend tennis matches and various gangs of intolerant thugs uniformed and otherwise terrorize various citizens of Indonesia.  It would seem that like Obama the historical recording of the SBY will be “HE CAME, HE SAW, HE WENT” and in a curious turn of events the fear is not what these Presidents are or have done but who follows them.

On a positive note, who would have wanted to miss the simpering performance of the current court clown (in the freaky Steven King Clown in the drain sort of way) upon meeting Mrs Obama and then claiming she forced herself on him.

Still on weirdly humorous, one of the local FPI clone blogs quoted NARN as having the cure for being homosexuals.  Of course, as with all the intolerant ones, it neglected to mention the face that NARN has somewhat dubious reputation across the board and is hardly be rational person’s chosen reference site. Most recently a quick search of the web reveals one of its directors resigned after seeming to suggest that Slavery was not such a bad thing after all and another is under cloud after being busted with a very dubious travelling companion for a European holiday.  You really have to wonder at these kinds of people. How many times have those who shrilled so loudly about the way other people live turn out to have feet of clay (or in this case pumps).If you want to really see weird type NARTH RUBBER BAND THERAPY  into Google….Bizarre.

Then again the language of the intolerant and xenophobic really doesn’t change that much only the victims and then ever so slightly.  This was from a Pre World War Primary School Text Book.  “The Turks are a cruel and ignorant race…one of the most fanatical of the Mohamedan (sic) races, the ferocity of the unspeakable Turk in gaining converts being unsurpassed by any other race”.  Naturally, this xenophobic nonsense changes in a heartbeat when it suits the need of the manipulators of public opinion, witness this quote when Turkey was enlisted to fight in Korea “Courage, bravery and heroism are the greatest virtues which will sooner or later conquer. In this matter, I know no nation superior to the Turks.” – Rose – U.S. Senator.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

Obama, SBY and Bakso is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.

Expatriate in a Box

Categorising expats in Indonesia; the harmless backbacker, the sad lost soul; the high powered exec; and more.

This will be a somewhat confusing post as the Drum is not sure where it is going, let alone the poor reader.  Timdog recently posted this

“Malinowski discovered to his amazement that the white people who had been living on these islands for decades not only lived far away from the local villages, but what they said about the native population was a load of nonsense, nothing but false, absurd stereotypes. In short, the white man in the tropics is the worst, least reliable source of information about local peoples and cultures…”

A modicum of research proved that Malinowski was a very interesting guy, who lived a very interesting and challenging life.   Certainly he lived at the tail end of the White Raj dream/nightmare while it was still twitching in its death throes.  It could be said not much has changed since then.

The vast majority of Expatriates still live a life apart from the local population employing both virtual and/or literal walls to protect their bubble of “selfness”.  At one extreme, some expatriates view a posting to Indonesia as a hardship posting, living behind walled communities and the company covering every conceivable expense to ensure limited separation anxiety from their home culture.  On the other hand, we have the other variety of Expatriates who lose themselves into the distant Kampungs and attempt for reasons of their own to become at “one with the tribe”.  In between we have any and all variations ranging from the amusing Batik wearer on important days and the Live, Love, Pray parodies infesting the isle of Bali.

A significant but oft overlook group of Expatriates is those who have married into the local community, raise families and are rarely seen in the atypical expatriate haunts.  However by far the most curious group is the one that claims ties to the local community by virtue of time in country and yet struggle with grasping even the most basic levels of the Language, cultural mores or religion of the region in which they find themselves.

All of these various groups will have their spokesmen/woman who claim to understand and grasp the complexities of Indonesian culture.  A patently absurd claim of knowledge in the vast majority of cases which becomes even more absurd when one considers the source of a lot of the information.   Once again Malinowski:

“Yet it must be remembered that what appears to us an extensive, complicated, and yet well ordered institution is the outcome of so many doings and pursuits, who have no laws or aims or charters definitely laid down. They have no knowledge of the total outline of any of their social structure. They know their own motives, know the purpose of individual actions and the rules which apply to them, but how, out of these, the whole collective institution shapes, this is beyond their mental range. Not even the most intelligent native has any clear idea of the Kula as a big, organised social construction, still less of its sociological function and implications….The integration of all the details observed, the achievement of a sociological synthesis of all the various, relevant symptoms, is the task of the Ethnographer…the Ethnographer has to construct the picture of the big institution, very much as the physicist constructs his theory from the experimental data, which always have been within reach of everybody, but needed a consistent interpretation.”

In a more modern context, if your sum total of interaction with the local populace is the bar girls and hawkers of Jalan Jaksa then you are unlikely to any better understanding of the complexities (although perhaps some more titillating stories) of Indonesia than the latest tourist arriving with the KLM in-flight magazine.  The reality is the saucy young bar wench or the affable barman holds a very limited outlook of the whole and that is invariably tainted by the desire to tell you what you want wish to hear anyway.  On the other end of the scale, the expatriate experience coming from being deeply immersed in the Christian Village deep in the wilds of West Timor has about as much relevance in Jakarta as an FPI or RWDP Hardliner to rational discourse.

This inability to articulate the intangible is not unique, witness the issues Australia had when it attempted to quantify “What it means to be Australian” test for new immigrants.  .

The wide ranging cultural, political and ethnic make-up of Indonesia frustrates the very human desire to put people and cultures into “boxes” of our own perception and experience.  The reverse is also true with Expatriates largely being grouped together by Indonesians into a largely incorrect construct to meet prevailing prejudices and perceptions.  For classic examples of this hive mind (Expatriate and Indonesian)approach  you need go no further than the Jurassic Park sized thread “Dating Indonesian Girls” a social experiment in and of itself (the thread not the dating ;-) ).

What does all this mean, probably not much except to say that in the vast majority of cases the old saying holds true “believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see.”

Just for fun some Expatriate Constructs:

1.       Highly paid, City based Resource Expatriate  (Tends to be older 45 plus, lives in protected walled Isolation and his/her interaction with local community is limited to his driver and security staff. Limited Tenure in country and common refrain “this is not the way we do it at home”)

2.       Lost souls and KITAS jumpers (Also tend to be older, came to Indonesia years ago to be English Teachers for a year and life has caught up with them.  No longer able to fit in back home or afford to change and hover precariously on the fringes of Indonesian Society. Most commonly found in the cheaper bars around town preaching their version of Indonesia to the like minded)

3.       Highly Paid Contract Workers (30-45, these people don’t really care that much about the culture, the whys or wherefores.  Here to have a good time and not ashamed to show it.  Much to the delight and disgust of many)

4.       The Backpacker (No money, no direction but tend to wander across the islands at leisure annoying no one, most common refrain “ada losman?”)

5.       The Sanctimonious (Tends to be older, has solid income but connected into the local community long term.  Tends to live in the suburbs and villages writing inane blogs to pass the time).

6.       The Sadder (Married the bargirl and found you can take the girl from the bar but not the bar from the girl, tends to sit in the darker corners nursing a beer until the next tap for money).

7.       The Expat Wives club (a truly scary construct of air kisses and endless morning teas all six previous constructs dread the arrival of the Club).

8.     The Researcher, (When drawn from his dusty tomes of yesteryear of various often illegal sources, can be spotted casting a horn rimmed and jaundiced eye over the rest of us, frequently confusing research with experience.  Not normally found within the other groups as who wishes to have their (mal)adventures recorded for later discourse.

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Is Indonesia Dangerous?

Are foreigners in Indonesia in danger; are Indonesian Muslims baying for the blood of the infidel.

It must be a constant irritant to Indonesia to be continually portrayed as hotbed of crazed Muslims howling for blood.  Reading some comments posted locally and elsewhere, one would think that the expatriate walking around Indonesia must be on constant guard to hordes of perfidious, salivating Indonesian Muslims hiding behind bushes just waiting to jump out and slaughter poor innocent expatriate infidels.  The reality is so far from that it is difficult to articulate.

Indonesia has its problems and at times can be frustrating place but to even suggest that the life style for an expatriate is anything but privileged for even the most socially and culturally inept is just abject nonsense.  Indeed, far too many people receive degrees of respect that are well beyond that could be reasonably expected from their behaviour.

Even with the tragic bombings which destroyed so many lives both Indonesian and Expatriate, it is an abject lie and an insult to the host nation to suggest that expatriates walk in fear or even modify their behavior (any more than they do at home) as result. With the exception of the very few who live from cheap room to sleazy bar, the majority of expatriates live within a stone’s throw (?) of a local mosque and take a fairly active part in the local community. It would be a particularly paranoid fruitcake who regularly has any issues other than a little noise pollution.  Of course, living close to a Mosque and complaining about the noise, is on par with the moron who buys a house next to the airport and complains about loud engine noises. I would add a qualifier here, it would be nice if the local Imans had to pass a “tonal” exam and learn some basics about speaker distortion.

The Drum would challenge anyone to suggest that walking past the local Indonesian Mosque as the legions disgorge after Friday prayers is anywhere near as dangerous as walking past the local football club in your own country after a loss at the home ground (having said that Indonesian football hooligans are about as cute n cuddle and only marginally more intelligent than the EDL).

Thanks to the low brow populist, rhetoric from the closet Nazis, an Asian foreigner is far more likely to be verbally or physically abused by a bunch of cowards in Australia than any Expatriate in Indonesia.  In a challenging piece of mental masturbation these armchair Loony-Cons somehow envisage themselves as patriots whilst calling for the very suspension of the freedoms and rights that free society is based upon.   In a ironic twist, the Loony-Cons and modern day brown shirts have done more to reduce the freedoms and the rights of the average citizen than a minor number of bumbling jihadists could do in a 100 years.

Highlighting the xenophobic and ignorance of the Loony-Cons was the call for Australia to cease immigration of Muslims and the active deporting of Muslim Citizens as they are not part of the Australian Culture.  Such a statement clearly demonstrates the silliness of the brown-shirt shrills position, a simple history check on why Australia’s most famous train “The Ghan” would reveal many Muslims have a lineage far more intertwined into the fabric of Australia than some misbegotten descendant of the ten pound POM of the 1950’s.  Fortunately, these Drongos remain figures of ridicule as well they should, although like most two bob bullies can be dangerous in groups or of given too much oxygen.

Fortunately, vast majority of the Shrills are mere parodies and hence are fairly easy game for mockery and tend to not breed straight which limits their numbers.  Despite the laughable claims as patriots and supporters of the military, the vast majority have never heard a shot fired in anger and are held in contempt by those that have.  Most can recognize these serial loons for what they are, sadly however the brown shirts remain the Osama clone’s greatest PR weapon and in this case Australia’s greatest shame.

In summary, the Drum suggests that many things need to be considered before coming to Indonesia as a tourist or an expatriate including a crumbling and inadequate infrastructure, a totally inept governmental approach to tourism and extremely poor access to medical care outside major population centres.   However, the vision of Muslim hordes screaming for your blood should be well down on your list, probably alongside tiger attacks and the like.

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