Batam Riot & ‘Stupid Indonesians’

Apr 26th, 2010, in Opinion, by

An Indian expatriate is arrested for insulting the nation and sparking patriotic amok in Batam.


ADDING INJURIES TO INSULTS

Police have questioned 46 people – 38 Indian expatriates and eight local workers – in connection with a riot at PT Drydocks World Graha shipyard in Batam, Riau Islands. One of them, an Indian expatriate, was named a suspect as he was considered to be the "mastermind" of the riot after berating an Indonesian worker, for saying

Indonesians are stupid

or

Indonesia is stupid

depending on which report/translation is to be trusted.

Isn't that more than a little odd? This guy is the "mastermind"? Is not a mastermind a kind of George Soros Machiavellian figure who plans and manipulates immense strategies and conspiracies? Or is he nowadays just some poor Indian bloke who tells it like it is? As a benevolent sort who would not tend to 'berate' workers, but most of you must, from time to time, have been exasperated by the indolence and irresponsibility you see every day.

Batam Docks Riot

Not a specially Indonesian flaw, admittedly, but it does seem to be tolerated here more than elsewhere, examples being the crass ignorant discourtesy of many people in all walks of life who think nothing of arriving late for appointments, or those many workers who regard it as acceptable to sleep on their desks when the immediate supply of work runs out, instead of going to find more things to do. I even went to visit a guy in hospital and found the ward closed so the staff could have a rest!

Batam Riots

As I say, it's not unique to Indonesia, but there are enough idlers about to provoke a rebuke or even a 'berating' of those who don't do their stuff. Hardly makes the scolder a "mastermind"!

However....

Riau Islands Police chief Brigadier General Pudji Hartanto Iskandar said that the police would uphold the law in connection with the riot. Swift and effective legal process is necessary to help maintain a conducive investment climate, he said, adding that police would

also process workers who were found to have destroyed facilities at the shipyard.

So arresting an Indian superviser for a possibly harsh telling-off will "help maintain a conducive investment climate"?

Given what he went on to say, I'd have thought it might rather have a counter-productive effect.

Another police officer, Sr. Comr. Leonidas Braksan, said the expatriate named suspect in the incident would be charged under article 154 and 156 of the Criminal Law on enmity toward, and humiliating remarks against, the unitary state of Indonesia. A charge that carries punishment of up to seven years imprisonment.

Seven years? For a rude comment? Enmity towards 'the unitary state of Indonesia? What planet is this guy living on? If you want to arrest people for enmity towards Indonesia, there are many more obvious candidates, not least the entire membership of Hizbut Tahrir, who want this country swallowed up in a fanatic-ruled Sharia caliphate, a mere part of a giant loony-tune empire along with Malaysia and much of the Philippines. That's treason, I'd say, but even if you take a milder view, it's still enmity towards the unitary state of Indonesia.

Indians in Batam

The Indian worker, it appears, was still being treated at hospital as of Friday afternoon for serious wounds sustained during the fray.

So the "mastermind" is in hospital, facing serious charges, and the amok-runners will probably not even get fired, from what I've been able to glean from other reports in the same newspaper, viz.

A later report, "Don’t dismiss workers involved in protest" from Tempo, tells us that Sr. Comr. Leonidas Braksan warned shipbuilder PT Drydock World Graha against dismissing Indonesian workers involved in the riot

The company must introspect following the incident.

So what the heck does that mean? Police side with rioters, as some kind of quid quo pro for the para-police's recent confrontation with other rioters, in Jakarta? Hopefully not, but it does seem a silly thing to say.

Wiser, surely, to tell the amokkers to cool down and stop being so bloody sensitive if they want to keep their jobs!


47 Comments on “Batam Riot & ‘Stupid Indonesians’”

  1. avatar Oigal says:

    “inability” = “stupidity”,

    Eeer it does not, in fact not even close.

    There are any number of reasons for that inability that includes cultural issues such as respect for age over merit, poor educational development, lack of business training opportunites etc etc etc…none of which equates to stupid.

    we Indonesians are a bit sensitive towards IQ related words

    Certainly over sensitive, although puzzling how somebody can take personal offence at third hand heard comment made by a Indian on another island. Are you suggesting that you have never heard an insulting comment made about Indians, Malaysians, Londos by Indonesians? If you have then kind of demostrates the immaturity of the whole thing then doesn’t it.

    Ya, but it was only until their companies reached the stage of stability and then being hit by global crisis they felt a need to dump the expats.

    Deta, that is just factually incorrect. Japan, Korea have not had sigificant expat populations for decades, the GFC had absolutely nothing to do with it. Singapore has been ever more difficult to work as an expat since the late eighties (because companies prefer highly trained, professional nationals…its cheaper). Malaysia was following the same line until the last few years and the wheels starting coming off their education system as ignorant neo-nationalists gained more ascendancy.

    Saying that somebody or a whole nation is stupid is obviously insulting and i understand people got upset about that.

    Just wondering how Malaysia should feel being refered to as Malingasia in major media recently then, or Singapore as the little red dot? Walking a fine line between major insecurity or hypocrisy.

    Whilst there may be very real reasons for those workers to feel the need to protest, once it descended into violence, it was just another example of the government allowing the country to descend into mob rule. Yet bizarrely, most comments both here and in the media seem more concerned about some perceived slight about their IQ than the increasing occurances of mob rule across the country.

    Fiddling as Rome Burns anyone

  2. avatar deta says:

    Japan, Korea have not had sigificant expat populations for decades, the GFC had absolutely nothing to do with it. Singapore has been ever more difficult to work as an expat since the late eighties (because companies prefer highly trained, professional nationals…its cheaper).

    Yes the number of western expats is probably small compared to Indonesia. But I have a doubt if they have a small number of asian expats as well because there are other asian nations (e.g Indonesia and Thailand) that can provide cheaper labors which can give them a comparative advantage. While in Indonesia, hiring expats is considered (by some, depends on the kind of business they are in) as a way to gain an advantage too, whether it is in a form of knowledge transfer or other intangible factors (although I admit they often underestimate and have little confidence about their own competency). So it’s kind of country specific and situational, isn’t it?

    Certainly over sensitive, although puzzling how somebody can take personal offence at third hand heard comment made by a Indian on another island.

    You were over serious about the “inability = stupidity” thing, I was just joking 😉 . Thanks for the knowledge, though.

  3. avatar Oigal says:

    But I have a doubt if they have a small number of asian expats as well because there are other asian nations

    Ah sorry, I guess we should qaulify the differences between expat and imported slave labour, paid wages unacceptable to local citizens. Part of the dark under belly of Singapore and others of that ilk, although Singapore rates fare better than the traditional and current slave traders of the middle east. These were not the people I was referring to.

    Although may not think so, I agree that Indonesia has far too many expats but the way to fix that is better schooling not mob violence, burning factories and cars. I don’t really think anyone would suggest its a distortion to suggest the education system is a shambles for the vast majority of the population.

  4. avatar deta says:

    I guess we should qaulify the differences between expat and imported slave labour, paid wages unacceptable to local citizens.

    Oh tidak, you’re certainly aware that not all asians who works in Japan or Korea are blue collar labors and ‘imported slave’ (gee that’s harsh). The problem is, even with the same level of skill and competency these people have a weak bargaining power so they still receive lower salary than local citizens (it probably has something to do with the culture, not so sure). And I agree that the way to fix all of this chaos can be started from improving the education system.

  5. avatar Oigal says:

    ‘imported slave’ (gee that’s harsh)..

    The insult is towards the countries that import them and the systems that expose people to that kind of life not the people doing the work and is not so harsh although the reality is.

  6. avatar timdog says:

    I don’t really think anyone would suggest its a distortion to suggest the education system is a shambles for the vast majority of the population.

    Entirely true, but there is something interesting about the Indonesian education system.
    As far as “basic minimums” go, and considering its mind-boggling social and geographical challenges, Indonesia actually does spectacularly well. Literacy rates are not far off total, and there is basic primary education just about everywhere, and no male-female disparity to speak of.
    It might not seem like much, but it puts Indonesia leagues ahead of places like, well, like India, where vast swathes of the population are totally illiterate, where there are monstrous discrepancies between male-female education, and lots and lots of people never go to school…

    But where the Indian Subcontinent surges ahead of Indonesia is once it gets beyond the ABC basics. Despite the fact that not far off half the population can’t even read, both India and Pakistan manage to turn out plenty of graduates with qualifications respectable enough to get them “expat” jobs in Southeast Asia. India and Pakistan-trained doctors, for example, are generally welcomed with open arms by hospitals anywhere in the world (except in coutry’s with, ahem, restrictive employment laws). The less said about Indonesian doctors, meanwhile, the better…
    What a shame that Indonesia can’t capitalise on that basic foundation…

  7. avatar Oigal says:

    AH trust Timdog to step with the voice of balanced reason, I guess thats why us liberal conservatives are prepared to tolerate those bed wetting liberals.

    I confess, I am on looking at education from the employment perspective. For what it is worth all on my kids were educated by Indian Teachers and very fine job they did indeed. and far outshone what they wopuld have received in Australia. Although the english was very very old school (does anyone else in the world still address letters to boys as “Master” Bates) and upon return tended to fail oz history..

  8. avatar Oigal says:

    How’s the education system..I rest my case…

    East Jakarta police are suspicious that an explosion which damaged a house in Duren Sawit district on Thursday was a result of an object from outer space.

    “Our preliminary examination concludes that an object from outer space has struck the house,” East Jakarta police chief Sr. Comr. Hasanuddin was quoted by kompas.com Friday.

    or

    After a three-week investigation, astronomers at the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (Lapan) concluded that an air explosion that hit Bone waters in South Sulawesi on Oct. 8 was a result of a falling meteorite.

    Lapan expert Thomas Djamaluddin said the meteorite struck the atmosphere at a speed of 20.3 kilometers per second, causing a major blast that equaled an explosion of 50 kilotons of TNT (trinitrotoluene).

    The meteorite was part of a 10-meter diameter asteroid, Thomas told kompas.com.

    He said falling asteroids rarely caused damage on earth, except for those with diameters of 25 meters or longer.

  9. Oigal,

    I recommend you read the writings of Drs. A. Sudarsono on alien visitations to Indonesia. He ever wrote that Alien have buried technology in the Borobudurs.

  10. avatar Odinius says:

    Missed this earlier comment from Oigal, but would like to go back to it:

    That is not an excuse for mob violence and inaction by the authorities. Unfortunately mob rule has become the norm rather than the exception and that is just …ST****

    Not only is this true, but mob violence actually inhibits the development of democratic institutions. Mob violence stunts Indonesia’s growth as a democracy.

  11. avatar realest says:

    Mob violence is a by-product of being poor, it happens everywhere. Despite the open discrimination under the Suharto regime, i personally feel Indonesia is much safer back then. But that’s just me right …. having lived through those times 🙂

  12. avatar chick chack says:

    i think its a shame that this guy will get problems to say to someone he is stupid. or 7 year prison. come on…

    i mean, hello where you from? i would not say this is nice but in my country this probably people say every day without having any trouble with each other. ok they would argument and the other would call maybe the other stupid but thats all.

    for sure no worker in the western hemisphere would go for a riot because anohter worker was called stupid or even the country. of course this is poision for a company athmosphere but this is not a excuse for destroying a company and cars of people who have nothing to do with this.

    its a shame and maybe it shows some complex what indonesian have. that for the other world someone could think they are not the cleverst.

    honestly, i dont think so and indonesians should be a bit more proud of them self and just think about the indian who sad this… “what a dumpass”… nothing more.

    the problem here in indonesia is also that many indian companies just hire indian workers for important positions. this i definatly saw here in indonesia. this case might be the frustrating thing. that there is no real chance for high career because the whole company is ruled by indian.

    this can be frustrating for the workers. to feel that the task force from india is coming and after all also saying stupid things…

    i worked here for a company owned by germans and the foreigners there been mixed. there was not such a thing of . poeple from in main positions have to be also from germany. i know companies owned by italiens and the people in higher positions are also mixed up from the countries they come from or a indonesian.

    on the other hand talking about, that the indian should get 7 years because something like this, just tells us what sick law system this country has.

    where someone like tomy gets few years for killing someone, where the son of a oil baron gets 4 years for killing someone, i guess i could go on and on here…

    and this indian should get 7 years because he sad that the indonasians are stupid? what.

    if he get 7 years for this the western world will agree to what he sad….

  13. avatar Anonymous says:

    I have lived in Indonesia for more than three years. This is the 40th country I have been too, and the 7th that I have lived in on three continents. I am happy to report that, given this somewhat wide experience, I can say that Indonesians may not be stupid in any given absolute sense, but as a group, they are certainly the stupidest people I have ever come across.

  14. avatar the Jack says:

    Expats make more money in indonesia, simply because they are better trained and or, educated. Expats are more creative and willing to work harder for longer periods of time than your average indonesian. Most indonesians for reasons unknown, need frequent daytime naps and frequent, swift kicks in the a$$ to stay motivated. Why??!!
    Imho, indonesians seem to be deeply mired in a host of back to back religious observances throughout the year, in addition to the usual, daily, religious observances they slavishly adhere to. Like it or not, your culture is diametrically opposed to any kind of serious business success.
    Until you get with it, (grow up and start walking in step with the rest of the modern world) business owners will continue to hire expats and pay them better wages because we get the job done right and in a timely manner.

  15. avatar Riki Purnomoz says:

    If someone calls you stupid, punch him/her on the forehead twice with a full force, thats called democracy. In the case of foreigner, break his/her head, thats called national pride.

  16. avatar Oigal says:

    Well despite what some write, I would absolutely disagree that Indonesians are Stupid. If fact two students we are sponsoring are topping their respective classes in Perth Australia.

    That said, they had opportunities 98% of Indonesians didn’t. Namely good schooling at international standards in english and decent role models. Unfortunately, way too many of the Indonesian role models have moved off shore as why struggle here where connections and money still play a large role in advancement. Indonesia has elevated “brain drain” to a major export Industry. Why they even forced their best hope for a decent president offshore…Go Sri.

    If someone calls you stupid, punch him/her on the forehead twice with a full force, thats called democracy. In the case of foreigner, break his/her head, thats called national pride.

    No that’s a practical demonstration of stupid.

  17. avatar Agustin says:

    I totally disagree, i am Singaporean too..chinese National.
    As if you dont know Indians.
    They are rude arrogant and heavy drinker.
    Indonesian are warmth n friendly and very skiilful in their trades.
    Indians are trouble makers when they start to drink alkohol.
    There is a saying in Singapore if u encounter a cobra n an Indian which will u kill..
    Answer is kill the indians n keep the cobra as a pet..

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