News Weekending 03/08/08

It always pays to have the correct vaccinations and carry with you medicine for the prevention of illnesses when you travel in the archipelago of Indonesia. Here’s a good reason why. A diarrhoea outbreak in a remote area of Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua has killed at least 156 people and sickened hundreds of others according to media reports. And, at least 172 villagers have died in a cholera outbreak that has triggered unrest in Indonesia’s remote eastern Papua. Whether the two are related is anybody’s guess. Other bad news is that the testimony at a Corruption Court session on Monday that 52 legislators had received Rp100 billion in bribes from Bank Indonesia (BI) for the revision of a BI bill was big news by any standard. Yet, to many people the disclosure was not surprising at all because it only confirmed the publics long-standing perception that their parliament is one of the country`s corrupt institutions.

Illegal fishing in the waters off Indonesia has always been a problem and a stricken and leaking fishing boat in Bali is further proof that fishing activities in the Coral Triangle urgently need tighter management and controls. The 30-metre Taiwanese vessel was discovered floundering on a Balinese reef off Padang Padang beach last week. Reports suggest the vessel has already leaked some oil while looters have emptied the holds of tuna and shark, believed to have been caught illegally. Here’s a good one for you. In Aceh, WC terbang literally means a flying toilet, or a toilet in the air. In this case, it is a toilet built along the river and commonly found in rural homes with no indoor plumbing. Tungkop is as remote as any village can get, so toilets and bathrooms are a rarity and a luxury here. So, when you want to use the loo at night, you have to go down to the river. Something that is not funny is as much as 40 percent of Bali Island’s coral reefs are severely damaged due to various destructive activities carried out by humans, according to an environmental organization. Meanwhile, the remaining 60 percent are threatened.

It is known that people of South-East Asia have a ghoulish streak in them and when it comes to a car accident or a similar tragedy then they all crowd around having a good look. Remember the dude that I wrote about last week who was a serial killer?. Police have Very Idam Henyansyah, who they allege killed at least 11 men and women. Police also said he admitted, then denied, carrying out the murders. Yeah, that dude!. Anyway, Indonesian tourists are flocking to the small village of Jatiwates in East Java, lured by the grisly attraction of the suspected serial killer whose victims were found in a backyard. Seems like a great way to spend your holiday.

It’s that time again. Smokin’ in Indonesia. No, not cigarettes, but the smoke haze from forest clearance. More forest fires are expected to occur this month in Indonesia, as the dry season reaches its peak with farmers and plantation workers carrying out land clearing through slash and burn method. Weathermen and environmentalists on Friday warned that smoke from the fires may blow south west towards Singapore and Malaysia next week, bringing with it the haze.

On election matters, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono vowed there would be no bans on press coverage during the ongoing election campaign period, despite sanctions for violating a law on campaign advertising and broadcasting in the media. This makes a change from past elections!. One matter he President should take more concern about is the trade in illegal wildlife. The government should mete out the stiffest punishment against anyone involved in the trade of protected wildlife to deter recurrences of the crime, said a conservationist Friday. On July 30, the police busted a wildlife trading syndicate involved in a large-scale export of anteaters. Wouldn’t it be better to shoot them on sight. They do in Africa.

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