Open Thread

Feb 25th, 2011, in Asides, by

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545 Comments on “Open Thread”

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  1. avatar Hans says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 6:10 am

    Tidore Today is an exciting place, where young people spend much time at the library plug spirit with ther next exam. this is the place where the city meets the sea. As a natural extension of the city street, the square, Central Station and the bridge, all developed in the area around the center which has become a modern city environment with a cosmopolitan touch.
    we build to the Indonesian mind. Words like everyday luxury and comfort has become a reality for those already living, working and living in the area. Now as we continue construction on the west side of the City, we also give you an opportunity to realize great dreams.

  2. avatar Arie Brand says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Is that the humor of the Polar Circle, Hans? People must become undemanding with those long winternights.

  3. avatar Odinius says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Oigal:

    Indonesia as failed state…seriously? I tend to see eye to eye with you more often than with most of the others on here, but I can’t back this notion. Compared to the norm of “democracy” in the developing world–marked by endemic coups (a la Thailand), strongmen who won’t relinquish power when they’re supposed to (a la Chavez), periodic, large-scale ethnic and sectarian violence (a la India, Iraq), out of control drug gangs (a la Mexico, El Salvador, Colombia) and soaring murder rates (a la Brazil, Philippines), Indonesia’s still-typically-small-scale violence by Islamists and its rampant corruption seem, well, like not that big of a deal. I mean, Brazil has 40,000+ murders a year.

    I’m not saying Indonesia’s problems AREN’T big deals for Indonesia, but if we want to talk failed states, then there’s several dozen, if not 100, developing world countries that have to be farther up that list. IF Indonesia was going to collapse, it would have been sometime between 1998-2004, when it had a severe terrorism problem, several major insurgencies and 3 horrible examples of communal violence. Instead, in the subsequent years it’s grown more stable, less violent and much of its corruption has come out into the open (even if it’s still not dealt with properly). It’s still got heaps of problems, not least of which its inability to deal with those who violate its laws in the name of ethnicity or religion, but it’s also made a good deal of progress from its post-Suharto low point.

    The next year will be instrumental in determining whether, by the next elections, Indonesia has progressed or regressed from 2009.

  4. avatar Oigal says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Ody, I was being deliberately provocative this time (obviously). However one could take Indonesia’s own consitution and the five principles and use those as a measuring stick for nation status. Freedom of religion ( out of ten) wealth of the nation shall be used for the benefit for all? Etc etc. It would be an interesting exercise to measure ( or try to) the dreams of the founders to the reality. After 60 years, not sure the report card would be flattering…

  5. avatar Oigal says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Hehe…I think we both know I like to prod for a reaction in most cases. As Timdog says it would be pretty much a waste of time if we all agreed all the time. Always happy to retract any statement of fact when proven wrong ( nobody still waiting here sport..)

  6. avatar ET says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Odinius

    Indonesia as failed state…seriously?

    It’s a matter of semantics. It depends on the criteria that you use to define failure. Many of the examples from other countries that you use refer to internal problems that, however serious they are, have no structural significance. On the other hand affluent western countries where the rule of law prevails can also be labeled as failed states due to inherent structural deficiencies, like Belgium with its two communities that after 9 months after elections still is at square one to form a government.
    Indonesia, during its short existence has had already at least 4 breakaway attempts and now is struggling again with issues that thwarted its formation 60 years ago and which could only be buried temporarily under the flag of a Negeri Kesatuan.

    Shakespeare would have said “There’s something rotten in the state of Indonesia”.

  7. avatar Oigal says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I am suggesting a comparison to what is as compared to what the founders wrote down. No external criteria but to measured by the very goals set down by the founders of Indonesia, it would be interesting to say the least.

  8. avatar Hans says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    failed state, agree that problems may not be so large, but often very different and stupid, for us who have some knowledge of things, the big problem is that I see it, 1. Water and sewer, then we have infrastructure that is underdeveloped, as examples, it should not take more than four hours by train from Jakarta to Surabaya, with approximately the same time for a car.
    School!? do not know what but something is wrong there. as it is now, young people leaving school with dreams of becoming rich and everyone knows that it is the one who is so smart that he get more corrupt.
    Naturally, everyone has a right to know. know that what looks normal is not a good solution, the torch light energy does not travel faster if you light the lamp on a train in Japan, traveling at 400 mph.

    Thought that it might not be that Indonesia is going backwards, it’s the other countries that have taken hold of its citizens’ prosperity and life.
    Is indonesia in a status quo

    failed state index, should perhaps be seen without them African states involved. it just so happens that the entire value of Africa, including South Africa. is not more than a strong up or decline of the stock exchange in Sweden.

  9. avatar Arie Brand says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I think a lot of Indonesia’s trouble goes back to the early days of independence when there was still an ongoing struggle with the Dutch. In the difference of opinion between the advocates of ‘diplomasi’ and those of ‘perjuangan’ the former lost out. Thus the army prevailed and it has never lost its grip since.

    In that respect there is a substantial difference with the Philippines where the army had no share in the gaining of independence. Government there has always had a more civilian character even though the army has there too more influence than is healthy for a would be democratic state.

    So Indonesia, instead of getting politicians of the type of Sutan Sjahrir and Amir Sjarifuddin, had to make do with an anti-democrat and political pyromaniac as Sukarno who never managed to curb the army and ultimately lost out against it.

  10. avatar Lairedion says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Oigal, may I recommend North Sulawesi?

  11. avatar Oigal says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    That’s Lairedion, anyplace in particular? For what it is worth I am serious..ever since Bandung suffered it’s demise due to inept planing it’s been a mission.

  12. avatar Pakmantri says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Why don’t we talk about these guys instead of FPI ………
    http://www.indonesiamengajar.org/

    Salam.

  13. avatar Lairedion says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Any place in the Manado hinterland of Minahasa (Tomohon, Tondano and Bitung) or Manado itself if you want to live in a city.

    Great food, spectacular nature, a modern society and a governor who famously turned down multi-million dollar mining investment contracts because he feared it might have a negative effect on the environment and nature.

    But I’m a little biased, given my Manadonese ancestry….

  14. avatar madrotter says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 1:16 am

    i’ve read about that governor, wish we had more folks like that here!

  15. avatar Arie Brand says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 3:01 am

    I visited Manado from Davao and in comparison to that spacious city it looked a bit overcrowded. But the hinterland might be agreeable.

    There is a place there where they fabricate beautiful timber homes for export and local use. I even considered buying one. They look a lot like ‘Queenslanders’. But the difficulties of transport and customs formalities put me off.

    But it is a different proposition if you are actually living there.

  16. avatar ET says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Lairedion

    I never visited the Minahasa region but what you said proves that within the same institutions quality of leadership and a federal approach of governance makes the difference.

  17. avatar Oigal says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Mmmm Ok, I am convinced. I have visited Manado a few times and found it ok, however not enough to put it on the bucket list for living. I guess its time to go n cruise the hinterland.

    Curiously, Surabaya is currently high on the list, there are some really nice suburbs there if you know where to look, nice small clubs (and some very large noisy ones) relatively good infrastructure.

  18. avatar Odinius says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 9:46 am

    ET said:

    It’s a matter of semantics. It depends on the criteria that you use to define failure. Many of the examples from other countries that you use refer to internal problems that, however serious they are, have no structural significance. On the other hand affluent western countries where the rule of law prevails can also be labeled as failed states due to inherent structural deficiencies, like Belgium with its two communities that after 9 months after elections still is at square one to form a government.
    Indonesia, during its short existence has had already at least 4 breakaway attempts and now is struggling again with issues that thwarted its formation 60 years ago and which could only be buried temporarily under the flag of a Negeri Kesatuan.

    I’m sorry, but that’s a dubious conceptualization of “failed state.” A “failed state” is Somalia, where the government can’t even provide basic services. Or perhaps Pakistan, where the state only controls about half of its territory. A “failed democracy” would be Thailand, where elected representatives gut the constitution until the military do away with it completely.

    Belgium does everything a state can and should quite well. It’s also a working, stable democracy with concrete rule of law. Even when a government doesn’t form, the state continues to provide services and uphold the rule of law. There is also zero chance of a coup.

    Indonesia has issues–corruption, wealth disparity, environmental destruction, poverty, low-level ethnic and religious conflict, one insurgency–but if we’re going to compare it to the rest of the developing world, who doesn’t have these problems? Let’s just stick to Southeast Asia for the moment.

    *Singapore: effective state. But not in any way, shape or form democratic..
    *Malaysia: also effective state, but ruled by ethno-religious majoritarianism. I’ll take Indonesia, thank you very much.
    *Thailand: some advantages over Indonesia in the economy and infrastructure, but also large-scale insurgency in the south, all the same corruption issues, military rule, etc.
    *Philippines: two major insurgencies, an out-of-control violent crime rate, rampant kidnappings, same corruption issues, etc.
    *Cambodia: so painfully obvious, not even worth going in to.
    *Myanmar: so painfully obvious, not even worth going in to.
    *Vietnam: okay, effective state here. But no democracy whatsoever.
    *Laos: more decrepit version of Vietnam.

    On state-effectiveness, I’d rank Indonesia at #4 out of 8. On democracy, I’d rank it #1, tied with the Philippines. Unfortunately for the Philippines, I’d rank them #6 in state effectiveness (thanks to Cambodia and Myanmar). That makes Indonesia the most effective democracy in the region.

    Okay, fine, so someone will inevitably point out “that’s not saying much.” But considering where Indonesia was in 2002–when it wasn’t clear how the elections would go, when there was a second insurgency, when the Bali bombing had just happened and when it wasn’t at all clear that Maluku, Poso and W and C Kalimantan would calm down–is this not progress? I think it’s quite remarkable progress.

  19. avatar MNM says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Love indo looking for nice relaxed place not so far from coast any suggestion

  20. avatar Oigal says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Ok point taken Ody, but if we we line up the constitution as drawn up by the founders of the nation and trawl though the achievements line by line, I wonder would we pass or fail?

  21. avatar Arie Brand says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Philippines: two major insurgencies, an out-of-control violent crime rate, rampant kidnappings, same corruption issues, etc.<

    Odinius, Indonesia always gets a remarkably good press from you. Has it to do with the fact that, if I understand correctly, you are not actually living there?

    And you are loading the dice a bit with your comparisons. As far as the Philippines is concerned: I lived for years in Cebu, the second or third city of the Philippines in size, and we might go and live there again. I didn't notice that "out -of- control violent crime rate" nor the "rampant kidnappings". The dwindling activities of the NPA can also hardly be called a "major insurgency".

    We have crossed swords about this issue before and I repeat that, when it comes to the long term legitimacy of a government, state sponsored violence is of far greater importance than 'private enterprise' criminality (of which it is difficult to obtain reliable data anyway). I regard the massacres of 1965 also as state sponsored violence in the sense that the military had a major hand in it and took over government after that. Well now, it is obvious that Indonesia has a far worse record on that score than the Philippines. If I remember correctly you didn't want to look at 1965 because you only wanted to take contemporary trends into account. But is what happened then not also in some form a part of the present? The anonymous reviewer in The Economist of Andre Beatty's book "A Shadow Falls …" ends his review with this sentence: "Darker than the shadow of a putative future of Islamic orthodoxy is a bloody past that is both unexpiated and unexplained".

    The Philippines doesn't have such an undigested bit of history in its recent past.

    Also: anyone who compares the obvious symbols and rites of national unity in Indonesia and the Philippines must notice that Filipinos are far more relaxed about these things. I have always seen that as a sign that they take the unity of the state far more for granted than is the case with Indonesians.

    Thailand: some advantages over Indonesia in the economy and infrastructure, but also large-scale insurgency in the south, all the same corruption issues, military rule, etc.

    It is obvious to me that Thailand, which has as a state deep roots in history and has in the monarchy a far more unifying institution than a presidency can ever be, is far less likely to become a failed state than a sprawling archipelago state as Indonesia, which owes its unity, such as it is, to a colonial regime regarded as having been illegitimate.

  22. avatar Arie Brand says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    The other thing about Thailand is, of course, that its two major institutions, the monarchy and the Buddhist Sangkha, have always been closely interwoven though one could call it a competitive interwovenness.

    I wrote about this in the “Bijdragen …”:

    http://www.kitlv-journals.nl/index.php/btlv/article/viewFile/1861/2622

  23. avatar Lairedion says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Sulut is not utopia but compared to other islands/provinces far more civilized and modern. It always has been due to its strong alliance with the Dutch. There is a high level of gender equality. This was already the case in the precolonial era.

    And the governor is tough on Gorontaloese fortune seekers who were stripped from the relative wealth of Sulut when Gorontalo became a separate province.

    They want to make the Minahasa region a major tourist destination. Sam Ratulangi airport is already fit to receive wide-body jets and handling many passengers. Let’s just hope they can keep Jakarta out of interference and don’t make the same mistakes as Bali.

  24. avatar Hans says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    North Sulawesi. Nice, very nice, , beer-drinking old men who wish a merry Christmas. pleasant memories. I tried to actually buy land just east of where you and there we have the splendid view over the city and the sea (she is Javan because it was to buying in the boring, weird Java) I have relatives who work for a Medicine companies throughout Sulawesi, as its market. Traveled around a lot when I was there for a few years ago. one of the two places I liked very much in Indonesia. with is best and nicest. 1 Oct 2006 … Poso in Central Sulawesi Has Been wracked by Civil Disturbances and bombs The Last Few Days: dont know if this has calmed down, or if there still is no running and shooting at schoolchildren.

  25. avatar Hans says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Manado IN 10 000 WORDS FROM ME

  26. avatar ET says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Lairedion

    Let’s just hope they can keep Jakarta out of interference and don’t make the same mistakes as Bali.

    As someone who witnessed the devastation mass tourism has brought to Bali here is my humble advice:

    - keep tourism small-scale and family oriented, this way local people will reap the benefits instead of foreign and Jakarta based conglomerates;

    - avoid the development of tourist gettos à la Kuta and Sanur which tend to grow uncontrolably like cancer;

    - keep the obyek wisata clean and don’t let them degrade into tourist traps where visitors have to run the gauntlet or where all kinds of structures simply obstruct the view of the obyek itself;

    - keep street vendors, touts, beggars and hookers to a minimum by regular sweeping; all street business should be licensed;

    - provide adequate parking lots for tourist buses outside of built-up areas and oblige them to shut down their engines while parked;

    - provide safe sidewalks and enforce strict speed limits in inhabited areas; traffic-free pedestrian areas would be an excellent idea;

    - promotional campaigns should target a different public than the Bintang-singlet and tank-top clad underclass;

    - make the local people via sosialisasi-programs aware that tourists are not walking ATM-machines.

  27. avatar Arie Brand says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    We discussed Assange on this thread before so I want to add this: Last night I saw on SBS a good documentary about Wikileaks. In the course of it footage was shown that Wikileaks was instrumental in spreading right across the globe through major press organs.It was new to me.

    It concerned a film taken from a helicopter gunship of three or four pedestrians below who later turned out to be journalists. One was a Reuters man I remember.The crew of the helicopter was discussing ‘taking them out’ and actually did. One of the group, I think the Reuters man, was not killed instantly and crawled to the sidewalk. A van came by (later it turned out to be of a father taking his kids to school) and the driver stopped to help the wounded man. While he was attempting to put him in his car the crew of the helicopter was egging each other on to take out both of them. They did and destroyed the car as well. The children survived as by a miracle.

    Assange’s comment was that these guys regard this kind of thing as the extension of the video games they have played only a few years before. And back at base they brag about the number of people they have ‘taken out’.

    It reminded me of what I once heard from an Australian Vietnam veteran. According to him American helicopter pilots used to take Vietnamese prisoners of war up to drop them from the sky. They were betting with each other whose prisoners would reach the ground first.

    These things make American professions from up high about human rights etc. sound very hollow. One of the troubles of that nation is that its army seems to consist largely of half literate often mentally challenged GIs who wouldn’t even know how to spell human rights.

  28. avatar Hans says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I know what I did 25 years ago. I was coming out of Baltimore in the U.S. with a boat, when the pilot station called us up and asked if we knew that our Prime Minister Olof Palme was murdered on the streets of Stockholm.

  29. avatar Odinius says:
    March 1st, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Arie said:

    Odinius, Indonesia always gets a remarkably good press from you. Has it to do with the fact that, if I understand correctly, you are not actually living there?

    You would be incorrect in your assumptions. But since you opened the door, do you live there? If not, when was the last time you traveled to Indonesia? How often do you go there, and do you speak the language?

    Honestly, I think it funny that your response is “good press,” because actually, Indonesia deserves both “good and bad press,” depending on what topic we’re discussing. And actually, if you read my post a bit more carefully, I think you’ll find that in the answer. Indonesia is, simply put, one of the most democratic states in a fairly non-democratic region. It is also, in regional terms, middling in terms of state effectiveness. We’re talking RIGHT NOW, as in THE PAST 13 YEARS.

  30. avatar David says:
    March 1st, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Manado IN 10 000 WORDS FROM ME

    Very nice photos Hans

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