News in Brief – Week Ending 30/03/08

Hardline Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has likened tourists to “worms, snakes, maggots” and called for signs to be placed in Muslim areas warning them to dress modestly. This was in reference to the resort island of Bali and was quoted as saying ‘those infidel tourists. They are naked’. Geez, I sure did miss a lot on my last visit. I’m going to have to clean my glasses!. Oh well, freedom of expression and freedom of the press in a democracy is great, to a certain extent. My dear grandma used to say that silver tongues are often laced with arsenic. On to the subject of food. Yes, the food that nourishes our bodies. It seems that not much food will be nourishing the bodies of Indonesians if the price of food keeps going higher. Of course the government cops the blame for this because of their inability to control the economy. The spiralling prices of foodstuffs since early this year had burdened the poor, giving rise to the emergence of food-related problems such as malnutrition, and worst still, starvation.

In Yogyakarta, the popularity of Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X is growing. At one time he was polled to become a possible president of Indonesia. He is a cool dude and loyal to Javanese culture. Now, he is hoping to be nominated for public office, but reluctant to garner political support. Like most great people that have moulded the history of Indonesia, writing a book seems to gain the spirit needed. Good on him. If he doesn’t get to sit in the big leather chair then at least he’ll make a few quid out of book sales. Pay for the food bill I suppose!.

The hottest news burning the front page of most newspapers around the world this week was the three Bali bombers on death row over the 2002 bombings could soon be executed after a dramatic end to their final appeal. I have never understood the legal system in Indonesia but it seems their lawyer, Fahmi Bachmid, withdrew from their last-ditch legal appeal, bringing it to an abrupt end. Chief Judge Ida Bagus Putu Madeg said the judges would now treat the appeal, known as a judicial review, as if it had “never existed”. But merry-go-rounds are prevalent in this world and nowhere Bali bombers on death row in Indonesia plan to lodge fresh appeals following the abrupt end to their so-called “final appeal”. Don’t you just admire the judicial system in Indonesia!

It’s like in one of those ‘whodunnit’ movies where at the end it is always the Butler that did it. The butler was the scapegoat as was the pilot of Adam Air flight KI-574 that was carrying 96 passengers and a crew of six when it disappeared during a scheduled flight from Surabaya to Manado in North Sulawesi last year. Mind you, the National Transportation Safety Committee said in its final report that a faulty navigation device was among the factors leading to the January 1, 2007 crash of the Boeing 737 jetliner that killed all 102 people aboard. Huh?. Was it the pilot of systems failure?. Another case of ‘whoddunit’ I reckon.

Let’s get serious now with the Indonesian House of Representatives set to pass a bill that would jail users and providers of pornographic websites. Apparently, when the bill comes into effect, providers and users of pornographic sites will face a maximum of three years in prison or a fine of up to 1 billion rupiah. The Information and Communications Ministry has made available software to block websites with adult content. Very kind of him I thought. It plans to begin blocking all adult sites starting from April 1. That’ll stop some of those ‘young-uns’ from sneaking into internet cafes to do their homework when they were in fact purveying mammary glands etc, etc, etc.

To finish off I thought I would add a bit of craziness. I like Tigers and especially when they are in their own environment and not behinds metal bars. They are an endangered species but they will be even more endangered in Indonesia if a new road linked to one of the world’s largest paper companies threatens a massive peatland forest sheltering rare tigers on the Indonesian island of Sumatra goes ahead. Don’t you just admire the mask of stupidity hiding the greed…or was that green dollar?. Even weirder is a company receiving an award for being environmentally aware. Huh?. Since when? But, despite allegations of illegal logging, a local pulp and paper company’s proven performance in sustainability managing its industrial forests in Riau has been seen it maintain a much sort-after eco-friendly stamp of approval. Turn the page and look further – Indonesian Greenomics said PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (Riaupulp) had been less than transparent with the supply source of its raw materials, prompting the civil society to become suspicious of the company’s involvement in Indonesia’s rampant illegal logging business.

Someone is making the big bucks and it ain’t me!.

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