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Bombs go off in Jakarta hotels

Two foreign hotels in Jakarta have been hit by suicide bombers killing at least 9 people and injuring many more.

I was hopeful that terrorism in Indonesia had died along with the 2005 Bali bombers, but it seems as though Indonesia is again under threat from further senseless acts of violence aimed at western interests in Indonesia.

Some parts of tourism had just started recovering in Indonesia and now the bomb blasts are going to resurface the previous attacks in Jakarta and Bali.

It just makes me sad, as I have never met anyone in Indonesia who has never been unfriendly towards me. Most people go out of their way to try and help you.

I wish I had something more incisive to say other than I hope the casualty rate doesn’t climb too high and a full investigations are done to catch the perpetrators behind these cowardly and senseless acts.

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Miss Indonesia planning to learn… Indonesian?

There has been quite a lot of controversy in the letters section of the Jakarta Post over the fact that the new Miss Indonesia Kerenina Sunny Halim can’t even speak Bahasa Indonesia. She impressed the judges with her English ability but need a translator when it came to answering questions in Indonesian.

“It’s been hard for me *to speak Indonesian*, because I use English every day,” says the half-American woman. “But I will learn. Indonesian is an easy language, as long as we’re willing to learn.”

Since she will be representing her country in the world competition, English will be more useful, but people are worried here she will not do a good job at representing her country. She seems to have had a very sheltered upbringing.

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The plight Indonesian overseas maids

indonesian-maidsI wrote recently about foreign English teachers being underpaid in Indonesia, but then I saw an article in a free magazine for expats living in Malaysia, on finding an overseas maid.

The article gives two options for employing help from overseas.

An Indonesian maid will cost:

– 450RM a month (around US$125 a month)
– work seven days a week
– and salary is banked into the maid’s bank account at the end of every month, as she is not able to ‘carry cash for the first two years working in Malaysia’.

A Filipina maid costs:

– 1430RM a month (nearly US$400 a month)
– works six days a week
– there are no restrictions on her being able to carry cash

I have been to the Philippines and Indonesia this year and both countries are just as poor. I am not sure why Indonesian maids are paid so little. The only thing I can think of is that most Filipinas can speak good English. It also seems very unfair that they can’t carry cash for the first two years?

They are also sometimes treated badly by their employers. I have read at least one article in a Malaysian newspaper since I have been here about a man beating his Indonesian maid.

When I was checking for the location of the Indonesian consulate in Penang I also came across this article on their website:

Problems that Indonesia and Malaysia are facing now Manpower matters. It is important to employ them with respect of their basic rights as a human. Yes, maid is human too like us. Just because they are Indonesian and they are maid, doesn’t mean we are allowed treating them unhumanly.

Everyday, our consulate receive 3-5 escaped maid in conflict with their employer or agency. Their cases are : insane, raped, abuse, sexual harassment, working more than 1 employer, working overtime, working beside their duty as maid (working in farmer, employers factory, employer beauty center, employer store) and none of the being paid.

Maid’s duties are : house cleaning, ironing, washing, cooking, looking after the children and that is all. Maid’s duty is restricted only in the house of employer whose name stated in their permit from 08.00-18.00. Relations between employer and maid should be an industrial relationship. There must be an understanding and respect for each other’s right.

What should I do to prevent my maid runaway?

Maid is human too, and as human their rights is not only protected by Universal Declaration of human rights, and Malaysia respective laws and regulations. We believe that many criminal cases whose victims are Indonesian maid have been brought to Justice. So, do not abuse your maid, rape, sexual harassed, do not order your maid to work overtime. Create a conditions that encourage them to dedicate their work.

Maid is human, they make mistake too. This is your responsibility to teach maid to work like you wish.

Stop holding maids passport

Holding maids passport is not appropriate. At the back of the passport there is rule that the bearer is the one that has to keep the passport, not the employer, not the president not even our consul general. Only the bearer whose name appears on the passport can keep his/ her passport. If employer doesn’t want his maid to escape, then treat them humanly, give them incentives, fulfill their right, pay their salary. Very easy right?

Make your maid a bank account,

Employer must be a busy person. That’s why we recommend you to make your maid a bank account. Our consulate receive some maids whose employers reluctant to pay their salary, because their employer forgot to pay maids salary since many years ago! Making a bank account for maid is not only to help employer in fulfilling their obligations but also to keep the maid from runaway. It is not Hold the bank account, not the passport. Nowadays, maids salary is from RM 500/ monthly.

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An accident waiting to happen

The first time I noticed the bamboo suspension bridge in Bukit Lawang was when I asked the lady in the restaurant (warung) where the toilet was. She pointed across the bridge to a place on the other side of the river. It was my second bottle of Bintang and I wasn’t too keen on trying to cross the suspension bridge that looked like it had come straight out of an Indiana Jones movie. It wouldn’t be long and it would be dark, so I thought I could just skip behind a tree to avoid having to navigate the bridge.

suspension bridge

The next day we changed hotels that was across from the suspension bridge, so there was no way of avoiding it. It was Sunday in Bukit Lawang and people had started arriving from Medan to spend the day swimming in the river and having parties. Our hotel had a good view of the bridge and I watched as more and more people started crossing the suspension bridge ignoring the “Maximum 6 people” sign that was posted on either end of the bridge.

suspension bridge

At one point the whole bridge had people on it, when suddenly it dropped a couple of feet. People screamed as the bridge bounced up and down. It all seemed to happen in slow motion. Fortunately, the bridge did not collapse and everybody was able to clear it. I thought it would then be closed off in case there had been some damage done, but no, people kept crossing it like nothing happened. They did however pay attention to the “maximum six people” warning.

Not long after a few guys started pushing a massive amplifier across the bridge. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Amazingly they made it across without incident.

suspension bridge

I know it’s not that high, but the river moves pretty quickly and I am sure not everyone can swim. There were also lots of people and kids playing in the river and crossing underneath it. The bridge is also held together with rusty nails and bits of wire, so maybe no one would have gotten killed but the whole scenario just seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.

suspension bridge

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New fish species found in Indonesia

frog-fish-indonesia A new species of fish has been identified in Indonesia.

The frogfish – which has a swirl of tan and peach zebra stripes that extend from its aqua eyes to its tail – was initially discovered by scuba diving instructors working for a tour operator a year ago in shallow waters off Ambon island in eastern Indonesia.

The operator contacted Ted Pietsch, lead author of a paper published in this month’s edition of Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, who submitted DNA work identifying it as a new species.

The fish – which the University of Washington professor has named “psychedelia” – is a member of the antennariid genus, Histiophryne, and like other frogfish, has fins on both sides of its body that have evolved to be leg-like.


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Eleven illegal Indonesian immigrants kept in basement

Soripada Lubis, a U.S. citizen, originally from Indonesia has been charged with harboring illegal immigrants for commercial advantage and private financial gain.

His wife has also been charged with making false statements to federal agents. The couple have been keeping Indonesian women in their basement since 2000. The women worked as housekeepers in the area.

They lived in cramp conditions, sometimes sleeping three to a bed.


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Australian pedophile gets eight years jail in Bali

Philip Robert Grandfield aged 62 was arrested last August for sex crimes against under-age boys. He has been given a jail sentence of eight years for his crimes. There is a chance he will face further charges in Australia if he makes it through his sentence in Bali.

Grandfield converted to Islam to try and get a lesser sentence. Michelle Leslie who was caught with ecstasy tablets in Bali also converted to Islam while she awaited her trial, where she was sentenced to 3-months jail.

Grandfield had been living in Bali for the past 10 years and paid the teenagers between 25,000 rupiah ($3.30) and 50,000 rupiah.

This is not an isolated incident as I have just discovered by reading more stories of Australian pedophiles in Indonesia. Here is a tragic story written in 2006: A paradise for pedophiles .

What is worry for me is that these guys were convicted in Australian, were given passports and then even employed in high profile teaching positions in Indonesia, with links to the Australian government.

One easy solution would be to deny a passport to any Australian convicted of a sex offense.

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This is my new blog on Indonesia.  I plan on writing about news, events and travel in Indonesia.  Having just moved to the country, I have found it a fascinating place.  I love tring to understanding different cultures, religion and languages.

Well, there is a lot to try and understand here!  Hillary Clinton just visited the country, which for a day or two put the country in the news.  There are some upcoming elections in the country this year, which are also going to be interesting to follow.

I am planning to be based in Medan for now, with some travel around Sumatara and later other parts of the country.

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