News Week Ending 14/09/08

I have to start this week of with the latest form of tourism. Mud tourism is about the only thing that is flourishing in Porong, in East Java that two years ago became a disaster zone when hot volcanic mud began spewing from the site of a gas exploration well. Today, the inland sea of mud is twice the size of Central Park in New York. Enough mud to fill 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools spews out every day and has already displaced 50,000 people, submerged homes, factories and schools. And, it is gathering popularity with the goggling tourist sector. What next you might ask! A totally different matter but one that I feel is important. Is religion more important than preserving the nation’s history? There will be a million and one debates over this but renovations to a mosque in a village in Malang regency are hindering archaeologists in their attempt to excavate and preserve the site of an historic Singosari kingdom township, believed to be under the mosque. Blasius Suprapta believes the mosque could be relocated to a nearby area, allowing the walls and township of the former kingdom to be reconstructed, a move that would enrich the country’s heritage. The outcome will be interesting, to say the least.

I won’t say it’s about time, but it is! The Indonesian government has agreed to revitalize railways in Sumatra, Java, and Jabodetabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi) in 2008-2010. It is predicted that this revitalization will require Rp19.365 trillion, however, the government has only Rp7.04 trillion available. I really hope they come up with the money because the revitalization is sorely needed. Here is an interesting investment scenario that occurred this week. Dave Morrison sits on top of an estimated $800 million in gold but can’t get his hands on any of it. The 42-year-old Australian engineer went to the tropical island of Sulawesi in Indonesia’s east five years ago to open a gold mine on a palm-studded hillock outside the provincial capital, Manado. I would have though the government would have welcomed this foreign investment.

The world economic slowdown seems to have affected everyone. Indonesia`s textile and garment exports had been declining this year and predicted not to meet the target of US$11 billion as a result of the world economic slowdown that caused a drop in demand. There really isn’t much that can be done but a bit of extra promotion wouldn’t do any harm. The elephants are at it again but this time in Aceh Jaya. It seems that elephant attacks have been occurring with increasing frequency in Pantee Purba/Ligan during the past month. Give them a break, they are only protecting their environment! Now this is not funny. Wildlife hunting is still the biggest threat to the survival of the orangutan, according to a researcher. Wildlife hunting has been practiced since the 19th century mainly to improve one`s economic wellbeing, and often also for the flesh of the big ape. What a load of crap.

And finally, it’s on again. Virtually all big cities in Indonesia are currently bracing themselves for an exodus of an estimated 15.8 million people who are to spend the annual Idul Fitri post-fasting month holidays in their home towns or villages later this month. I think a majority would be heading to Bali!

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