News in Brief – Week Ending 05/04/08

First up off the rank this week is the story of a nine-year-old boy who ran away from his home in Jakarta with more than $US10,000 ($11,000) in cash belonging to his father. The boy reportedly bought a PlayStation video games console and a mobile phone after enlisting the help of a shopping mall security guard to change around $US800 dollars into Indonesian rupiah. Needless to say, the Indonesian police went searching for him. Shouldn’t be too hard to find. Not like the group of wild elephants in the Seblat Elephant Training Center that broke loose and damaged 1,256 oil palm trees of PT Agricinal in Putri Hijau, North Bengkulu. The way I see it, the elephants were only destroying palm oil trees which in the first place caused the destruction of rainforests for them to be planted there. So, all we really have is a group of well-meaning, elephant environmental terrorists!. Ain’t nothing like reclaiming the land which belonged to you in the first place.

While we are on the subject of palm oil, it appears that suddenly [and about time] everyone has realised that the destruction of natural rainforests to plant these useless products is taking its toll on the environment. Four years ago, farmers in Riau jumped on the cash-train and decided to join the palm oil craze that has turned Indonesia into the world’s biggest producer. Farmers across the region have switched from food crops to oil palm, lured by rising prices as the demand for the clean-burning biofuels it is largely used to make has risen. Last year, around 2.1 million hectares of land in Riau was taken up by oil palm plantations, compared with only around 400,000 hectares a decade ago. As most of you know, I am totally environmentally conscious and abhor the destruction of rainforests wherever it is in the world.

While we are on the subject of fauna, I was aghast to read that the population of the Sumatran Tiger (Phantera Tigris Sumaterae) in the Kerinci Seblat National Park (TNKS) has continued to decline, according to a foreign nature conservation worker.The tiger population in the park now was only 136, down from 150 spotted in 2007. This is disgusting and especially for a country that boasts of their protection of the environment and natural beauty in Indonesia.

Never far from the news are those who get caught up in the world of trafficking naughty products. It now seems that Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine are believed to be among recipients of $153,000 in loans to overseas prisoners from the Australian government to buy personal goods for their cells. While the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) would not confirm whether Corby or the Nine were receiving funds, they did say assistance was given to those held in Kerobokan jail in Bali. Whereas I believe this is a good thing to a certain extent, a lot of taxpayers in Australia most certainly disagree, loans or not. Whilst on the subject of the correctional facility in Bali, Kerobokan Prison has adopted a new approach to curing drug inmates of their addictions. They are asked to participate in various artistic pursuits, such as dancing and playing musical instruments. It’s a sort of art therapy. The art therapy was first introduced about a year ago and has had promising results. Just as long as there is no painting because there wouldn’t be a shortage of models!.

Now this I most definitely agree with. Indonesia will start blocking YouTube at the end of this week if an anti-Islamic film that has sparked protests here is not removed from the file-sharing site. Apparently, the information ministry has written to Internet service providers telling them to prepare to block access if YouTube fails to remove the film, made by the far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders. Nobody, and I mean nobody has the right to denigrate or disrespect another religion, and, especially one of the most beautiful religions on this planet.

This is one of those ‘caught-out’ stories that I adore. The Indonesian government will soon lodge a protest against Malaysia for accepting illegal logs smuggled from West Kalimantan on a large scale. Indonesian Authorities were inspecting 12,000 cubic meters of logs that had been seized by the police and 19 boats detained for transporting the illegal logs when the discovery was made. You have to admire new science with the advent of DNA!

To finish off on a lighter note, the renegade nine-year-old boy has safely returned home after running away for four days and spending thousands of dollars taken from his father. Ahmad Legal Civiandi, or Vian, was taken home by a bajaj driver, Jono, who recognized the boy while he was walking in the Kebayoran Baru area in South Jakarta on Monday night. The true reason for the boy’s on-the-run activity has become common knowledge now and it seems he was grounded for not doing his homework. Naughty boy!.

And Folks, that’s the news that is the news from around the archipelago this week, or at least, that what is worth mentioning!.