Friday, May 27, 2005

Angry Australians

Schapelle Corby has been found guilty of smuggling 4.1 kg of marijuana to Bali from Australia. She was sentenced to 20 years' jail by an Indonesian court today. Read here and here.

The case has garnered massive attention in Australia. Everyone has their own theory of whether Corby is guilty or not. According to a poll around 90% of Australians believed she's innocent. Some people even donated money for her defense.

I won't argue here whether she's truly guilty or innocent. It's been decided by the judges. What concerns me is the way some Australians are reacting over the case. Many claimed she's innocent because they (or a friend's friend's cousin's neighbor) knew her personally and didn't believe a beautician from Queensland would smuggle marijuana to a country with such strict anti-drugs law. Some argued that she's a victim of a smuggling syndicate that uses baggage handlers to put drugs on unsuspecting travelers' luggage.

The comments found on Australian news sites really baffled me. Some wanted to boycott Indonesian products and would not travel to Bali or Indonesia ever again to "punish" Indonesians. One said Indonesia is being ungrateful because Australia donated A$ 1 billion for tsunami aid and they imprisoned an Australian instead (where the hell is the relevance of that? So the next time an Aussie smuggles a ton of coke to Jakarta the Indonesians should just let him off cos hey, they gave us a billion bucks what?). Some even got really mad they turned to attacks against Indonesian people in general by saying we're "uncivilized" and calling us "monkeys". Wah, no need to get personal, mate.

Some of the comments found on

  • From: Darren
    Comment: Break off diplomatic relations. Send in the SAS to rescue Schapelle. Set up a Navy blockade. Teach these uncivilised people a lesson.
> Someone read too much Clancy apparently.

  • From: Tim
    Comment: I need to find out a list of all Indonesian products available in Australia to boycott them all. Could someone publish one please?
> You can stop consuming Indomie. We don't mind.

  • From: scott
    Comment: I'll boycott Indonesia forever. Can I have my Tsunami donation back now? I'll never help them again if they place innocent people behind bars. My friends know Schappelle and she may be a little stupid, but she knows nothing about the world of drugs really.
> So your donation was never based on humanitarian grounds after all?

  • From: ken
    Comment: Can any body tell me why she deserves special treatment and why should she be given a free passage home as a prisoner exchange transfer? Because she says she is innocent? So what? The bali nine can say they are innocent as well. Are they going to get the same prisoner exchange system?? The Australian Government want to run its own country and let Indonesia run its own. If you do the crime be prepared to do the time.
> Finally someone with a clear head.

The weird thing is Indonesians themselves don't really care about the case. Guess they are more concerned about corruption cases on the KPU or the latest berita selebritis. Indonesians are just tired about all these drugs cases and the impact on Indonesian youth. With the high rate of drug abuse Indonesians would rather have smugglers and dealers sent to a firing squad anyway.

Listening to: Sonophonic - The Conjuration

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Face printed in Quran

A bupati (district chief) in West Java printed his picture inside the Qurans to be distributed to the rakyat in his district.. before he's up for re-election.

See and

It's disgusting how low some people can go to remain in power.

Listening to: Rick Braun - Latinesque

Saturday, May 21, 2005


Damn. MU lost on penalties. 5-4 for Arsenal.

Congrats to the Gunners fans out there.

Traffic in Indonesia and Malaysia

If you can drive in Medan, you can drive anywhere. No shit.

Indonesian traffic is legendary for its perpetual chaos. Lanes don't exist (well they do, but nobody cares about them anyway), speed limits don't exist (my favorite part), and traffic lights are considered decorative lights.

Foreigners get slight heart attacks on their first time on an Indonesian road. I read somewhere that Juha Kankkunen, the four-time World Rally champion, was freaked out when he was driven around in Medan during one of the Asia Pacific Rally leg in the 90's (hey how come we never host any of those anymore?). A guy who drives 200km/h in the woods for a living was scared to be on the Medan main road, that's bad.

The roads in Indonesia are filled with not only cars and motorcycle, but also bicycles, becaks/trishaws (on cities where they aren't abolished and dumped to the sea yet), bajajs, kaki lima carts, people walking, people standing, people demonstrating (ah, we get a lot of that), and people begging.

It takes special skills to maneuver around so many obstacles. But if you think it's better to drive a small car in such a crowded place then you are very wrong. Size does matter in Indonesia. That's why Daihatsu Ceria (Indonesia's version of Kancil) sells poorly there. Little cars don't stand a chance against the off-road wannabe Land Cruisers and mad angkot drivers. That is why Toyota Kijang (or Unser, for the non-Autocar reading folks) is the best selling car of all time in Indonesia. It's medium sized, can accommodate eight people (two parents, three kids and three maids), and has gazillions of accessories available in the toko aksesori.

Once you've gotten used to the mad driving it'll be okay. You can then relax a bit and enjoy the organized chaos around you. Just don't get too relaxed like Indonesians who are often found driving while:
  • SMSing their friends
  • Playing with their Communicator/PDA/other high tech toys. Indonesians love their gadgets
  • Teaching their baby kid to drive
Motorcyclists in Indonesia think they're immortal. They consider wearing helmet as an annoying chore, plus it ruins the hairstyle. So they choose not to wear it. But how if there's a traffic cop doing his rounds, you ask? Well, Pak Polisi also doesn't wear helmet, so why bother.

They are also very good in squeezing whole familes on one small motorcycle. Although this can also be found in Malaysia, but the Indonesians have perfected the art. I've seen one family (mom, dad, and three kids) on one tiny kapchai enjoying an afternoon ride. Scary I tell you.

There are too many motorcycles in Indonesia. That makes motorcycles the no 1 obstacle when you're driving. They're simply everywhere. You have to be extra careful when driving cos these people will swerve in traffic like nobody's business. The very annoying part is that in the event of an accident, the motorcyclist is always right. Well who wouldn't symphatize with one family lying on the road with a wrecked bike and condemn the driver with his fancy car even though it was the bike that sped and hit the car. So too bad for drivers. Just watch out for those daredevils.

One more thing about motorcyclists, they seem to love teaching their 10 year old sons to ride. I've seen this one many many times. A very young boy learns to ride with his dad riding pillion. Dad looks smug, damn proud that his kid can finally ride on his own, ready to race with his little friends, ready to crash onto an incoming truck, ready to lie dead in a blood pool and become another statistic.

I've been driving in Malaysia for about 1.5 years now. As I have experienced the worst traffic, I gotta say that Malaysia feels like heaven. A lot of Malaysians complain about the jams, but its nothing compared to Jakarta. Once I travelled from Soekarno Hatta Airport in Cengkareng to Gambir Station in Central Jakarta to catch a train. The trip lasted for 2.5 hours and I almost missed my train. The 2.5 hours duration is considered pretty lucky as the driver knew all the jalan tikus passing wet markets and all. If we were to use the main road I would've had to take another train.

KL jam is mild. Sure the traffic is frustrating, but at least its moving. In an Indonesian jam you can be stationary for hours. I guess this is also the reason why so many Indonesians employ drivers, cos it's better to sleep in the car and let the driver worry about getting to the destination. I was a bit surprised when I came to Malaysia and I saw expensive German cars driven by their owners. In Indonesia even an Avanza owner has a personal driver, no kidding.

If there's one thing that irks me about driving in Malaysia is the drivers' attitude. They lack a lot of basic courtesy like giving signals when switching lanes or even driving in the proper lane according to their speed. Many times I had to brake suddenly cos some idiot decided to change to my lane without giving signal even though I was much faster and was about to pass him. And when I honked he even got the balls to stare at me. Asshole.

Enough ranting, FA Cup Final is on.

Listening to: Judas Priest - Fever

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Indonesian roads suck

The first serious topic: The state of roads in Indonesia.

Okay you can leave now. But seriously, if you've been to Indonesia, you'll realize how messed up the whole road network is (especially in islands other than Java, like in Sumatra where I'm from).

Recently I had the pleasure of taking a 12 hour bus drive from the town my parents live to Medan. Now don't imagine the road's gonna look like the 6 lane superhighways like you see in Malaysia. It's a 2 lane trunk road full of potholes and uneven road surfaces.

The bus left at 10 PM and supposed to arrive at 10 AM in Medan the following day. Imagine being in a bus (which was pretty okay actually) driven in such a shitty road for 12 hours. I couldn't barely sleep. 12 hours was a very long time to ponder on things.

How in the world can Indonesia be so backward after all these years? The government can't even provide proper roads for the citizen, even after almost 60 years of independence. Why can't we have highways like in Malaysia or Thailand? People always say that Indonesia is a rich country (they make patriotic songs about it that even primary school kids must sing every Monday morning), but whatever happened to those riches?

Gone to certain people's pockets, most likely. The level of corruption in Indonesia is just unbelievable. It's one the few places in the world where a government servant earning less than RM2000 (USD533) can own a big ass house with a BMW 5 series, the latest Toyota Land Cruiser, and assortment of other cars.

How the hell could they afford those? Well your guess is as good as mine.. Since otonomi daerah or decentralization was implemented, suddenly local kings show up everywhere. Provincial level authorities who used to have their budget taken care by Jakarta suddenly have this billions of rupiah to spend. But before spending the budget to develop their area they chose to fatten their own account.

What's interesting about these Indonesian so called raja daerahs is that they are not ashamed at all in flaunting their illegitimate wealth. Once I saw a really big house near my relative's house. When I asked about it my relative said that's the house of a certain Bupati (I don't know the equivalent in English, bupati is a leader of a kabupaten, the administrative government one step lower than a province). Since the gate was always open, you can easily see at least 10 cars inside a very big garage. The weird thing was that the house was not located in some upscale neighbourhood, instead it was in a middle-lower class area. Now who in the right mind would build a mansion when the next door neighboor in his tiny rumah petak (small rented house) is struggling just to pay his children's school fees? The whole thing totally sickened me.

Back to the road part, a lot of the funds allocated to build or maintain the roads are misused by the government officials and the contractor. For example, when there is a project to build asphalt road with the thickness of 20 cm (just an instance, cos I have no idea what the road thickness is), then the official and contractor can conspire to build the road with 10 cm thickness instead. The fund for the remaining 10 cm? Bagi bagi lah.. You keep 30 percent and I keep the rest.

After a short while the road gets damaged because of below par construction and also because of grossly overweight trucks using the road non stop (another possible blog topic, mmmm). When the budget for road repairs comes out then the whole evil cycle starts again.

At 7 o'clock in the morning I arrived in Medan, much faster than predicted, since apparently the bus driver was a graduate from a racing school. What a trip that was, but unfortunately I had to repeat it all over again, on the return trip...

Listening to: Racer X - Street Lethal

Internet radio is good for you

Love this site. All the music you can listen!

The First One

Here we are.. been thinking of starting a blog for quite some time, but never really gathered the willpower to actually do it. Finally able to get my lazy ass to write the first post and hopefully, as I've experienced before, write the later ones without having to drag myself.

I decided to title this blog The Indonesian Complains because:

1. I'm Indonesian
2. I complain, a lot

Well, maybe not really a lot, but enough to annoy some of my friends. This blog will be used for me to express my views on things that I find interesting about Indonesia and also Malaysia, where I've been residing for almost four years. It's also a tool for me to improve my writing. I feel weird that I find it very easy for me to express my opinion verbally, but not so easy when I have to write it down. So please forgive me if you find the future posts look a bit screwed up, I'm trying to improve here.

So much for the intro, now I have to think of a first post...