Thursday, September 17, 2009


Fed up with New York or London?

Shangri-La is the fictional paradise described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton.

In Indonesia it is still possible to find a few places that look like Shangri La.

There are still a few beautiful, peaceful villages where people look happy and content.

Indonesia was Hindu-Buddhist for longer than it has been Moslem; and most Indonesian Moslems follow moderate Moslem beliefs that are tinged with Hinduism-Buddhism and animism.

The Economist, on 10 September 2009, tells us about Indonesia's progress

Hillary Clinton has visited Indonesia and President Barack Obama, who spent four years at school in Jakarta, is due to visit, probably in November.

China, India, the European Union and Japan are also courting Indonesia.

Volkswagen of Germany has chosen Indonesia's Java as the place to assemble its cars for the ASEAN market.

Indonesia is a member of the G20.

Indonesia hopes to join the BRIIC group of leading emerging markets (Brazil, India, China etc)

Only 18% of the population have piped water and only 2.5% are connected to a sewerage system. (Very few of the wealthy people pay income tax.)

The Economist tells us about Chindonesia .

China, India and Indonesia form a 'golden triangle'.

Indonesia supplies palm oil and coal to China and India.

Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil.

In the past 15 years, Indonesia’s coal exports have grown at a compound annual rate of 15%.

Indonesia's exports to China and India made up 14% of its total exports last year, more than those to America (10%).

Indonesian government spending on health is less than 1% of GDP. This is very low compared with other countries in the region.

Ethnic-Chinese Indonesians have dominated big business in Indonesia.

The Economist, on 10 September 2009, tells us about Indonesia and Indonesia's golden chance.

1. Inequality has been widening.

2. The people who loot the country, and carry out mass killings, are almost never brought to justice.

3. Indonesia's infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, is in bad shape.

4. Thanks to the burning of forests and peat lands, Indonesia is reportedly the world's third-largest emitter of carbon.

According to The Economist, the voters have just given President Yudhoyono, a former Suharto general, a ringing endorsement

1. The Economist tells us that "according to one possibly apocryphal story, the soldiers under his command in East Timor lost patience as they waited for his orders to attack a rebel-held hill, and took it without him."

2. The army is a problem.

The army "remains accused of informal, corrupt links with business, demanding protection money or providing security services to companies for chunky fees."

In the recent election to choose a president and vice president, the leading players included three former Suharto generals.

3. There are worries about elections being rigged.

In 2009, there was a scandal over a governor's election in East Java, won by a candidate backed by the president's Democratic Party.

More than a quarter of the names on the electoral list were duplicates or fakes.

The police commander who discovered this was sent into early retirement.

The Economist tells us about Indonesia's freer media

(It doesn't tell us that in 2003, the Jakarta Post’s Senior Editor Robert S. Finnegan published a piece about the Bali Bombing: Bali bombing: An investigator's analysis The Jakarta Post / The Hidden Facts Relating To The Bali Bombings.)

(Finnegan was sacked. According to Finnegan "I was sacked at the order of U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce for outing a CIA contract agent (Hermawan Sulystio) in connection with the bombing.")

The Economist does tell us that in 2009 there was outrage over the conviction of Prita Mulyasari.

Her 'crime' was that she had complained on Facebook about her treatment at a hospital. (Prita Mulyasari - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

The Economist tells us about Indonesia's decentralisation

1. From 2005 direct elections were introduced both for provincial governors and heads of districts (bupatis) and municipalities (mayors).

Some of these officials are bad guys and some are not.

2. There are still problems in West Papua.

"Human-rights groups have found a pattern of violence and torture familiar from the army’s earlier campaigns.

"Killings near the huge Freeport-McMoRan gold and copper mine in July seemed as likely to be the result of a feud between the army, police and paramilitary forces as an attack by secessionists."

The Economist tells us about Islam in Indonesia

It mentions Jemaah Islamiah but fails to mention the US-trained Indonesian military's connections to all such groups.

In the recent elections, the Islamic parties saw their share of the vote fall by 9%.

"Young people seem to be rejecting Islam at the ballot box."

Some district governments have introduced sharia-based local laws.

However, the Economist points out that this allows district governments to raise revenue from fines.

The Economist refers to the Islamic Defenders' Front, or FPI, founded in 1998, which has been described as being 'basically an urban thug organisation'.

(In The Age, (We must not get back in bed with Kopassus -, Dr Damien Kingsbury, of Deakin University, wrote about Moslem militants in Indonesia and their links to the military.

1. Komando Jihad, which became Jemaah Islamiah - was set up by (American trained) Indonesian generals.

Dr Kingsbury wrote: "Kopassus (Indonesian special forces)... set up the Islamic organisation Komando Jihad that hijacked the plane in 1981 and which has since emerged as Jemaah Islamiah."

2. Laskar Jihad - was set up by (American trained) generals.

Jakarta human-rights activist Bonar Naipospos told Asia Times Online:

"General Suparman is one of the generals who was behind the extremist Jihad groups. He set up militias composed of gangsters and religious fanatics to counter student demonstrations in 1998. One of these militias, Pram Swarkasa, became the embryo of Laskar Jihad." (Asia Times We must not get back in bed with Kopassus -

3. Bali bomb 'mastermind' Al Faruq reportedly 'worked for the CIA.')

The Economist tells us about Indonesia's economy

GDP per person is now over $2,200.

This is higher than in the Philippines or Sri Lanka.

(But in Indonesia there is a widening gap between the billionaires and the ordinary people earning a dollar or two a day)

In Indonesia, exports are equivalent to only about 25% of GDP, compared with over 100% in Malaysia in 2008.

Indonesia’s main exports are oil, gas and, increasingly, palm oil and coal.

In 1980 life expectancy was 52 years, and 10% of infants died before their first birthday.

Things have improved, but not enough money is spent on health.

The maternal-mortality rate is very high.

A lot of money is spent on fuel subsidies, but, according to the World Bank, only 10% of Indonesian fuel subsidies benefit the poor.

According to the Economist, "Indonesia urgently needs more and better spending on its transport and power-generation infrastructure and public services, and on health care and education."

Government spending on health is less than 1% of GDP.

This is is low compared with other countries in the region.

There are far too few doctors.

Resources are unevenly distributed across the country, and are poorly and sometimes corruptly administered.

Standards of training and monitoring doctors and nurses are 'woeful'.

The provision of health care 'appears to be worsening'.

Enrolment rates for secondary and tertiary education are low.

(Some state schools and state hospitals look as if they are falling down)

The Economist tells us about Doing business in Indonesia

The Suharto family, working with ethnic-Chinese Indonesian oligarchs, has had business interests in power generation, toll roads, electronics, plastics, timber, paper, an airline, a taxi company, construction, fishery, food processing, broadcasting, banking, telecommunications, newspapers, plantations, property, shipping, cars and mining.

President Suharto was toppled in 1998 (allegedly by the CIA working with sections of the Indonesian military)

The toppling of Suharto brought 'a big increase in foreign ownership of Indonesian firms'.

Fauzi Ichsan, an economist with Standard Chartered Bank in Jakarta, lists six main obstacles to doing business in Indonesia:

A. Poor infrastructure

B. Legal uncertainty

C. The confusion brought by regional autonomy

D. Tax problems

E. Dealing with the customs agency

F. inflexible labour laws

The biggest problem is infrastructure.

Only 18% of the population have piped water and only 2.5% are connected to a sewerage system.

Total investment in infrastructure, including that by the private sector, was estimated at just 3.9% of GDP in 2007. This compares with about 10% in Vietnam.

There is near traffic gridlock in the big cities.

The Economist tells us about Corruption in Indonesia

One Indonesian ambassador, a former police chief, allegedly pocketed about 2 billion rupiah from unauthorised visa surcharges.

The cost of an identity card should be 5,000 rupiah.

But it can cost 100,000 rupiah, if the officials want bribes.

Getting into a school, (or obtaining a pass in an exam), can require a bribe.

(Indonesia is becoming covered in palaces. These are often the homes of generals, or local government officials. Sometimes they are the offices of officials.)

According to The Economist: "A couple of hours outside Pekanbaru, two gleaming new palaces stand incongruously in the middle of nowhere. One is the assembly for the local legislature of Pelalawan district. Next door is the bupati’s mansion. He is currently in jail convicted of corruption over logging concessions."

There is a Corruption Eradication Commission, known as the KPK.

In April 2009, its chairman was jailed for suspected murder.

There was talk of an alleged love triangle involving an attractive golf caddie.

(Reportedly, much of the criminal activity in Indonesia is the work of the police, the military and other government officials)

The Economist tells us about Indonesia's dwindling rainforests

(Indonesia is being stripped bare of trees)

Indonesia’s destruction of its rainforests is a big contributor to the world’s emissions of greenhouse gases.

Reportedly, the burning of peatland causes much of Indonesia’s emissions.

More and more Indonesians are moving into the cities, where life is often very difficult.


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