Darwin Awards 4 Indonesia

Aug 18th, 2010, in IM Posts, Opinion, Travel, by

Celebrating Indonesians' contributions to natural selection by way of careless deaths.

Is it just me, or does it seem some Indonesians are perpetually on a death wish?

Every time I look through the newspaper, I see stories and pictures of people doing highly unusual/dangerous things.

Perhaps you may have already read about Bonek taking the train to/from Bandung:

Bonek taking the train

Bonek prefer a/c alam

But not to be outdone are Jakmania, fans of Persija in Jakarta:

JakMania taking the bus

JakMania taking the bus

Fourteen fans died on the way to matches last season, reports the Jakarta Post. For example:

"There was a guy, who tried to wave a heavy flagpole on top of a bus. He could not lift it, lost his balance and fell, just as a huge container truck passed by," Riko said.

Police also recently seized 104 home-made weapons from fans before an Indonesian Super League game.

You might be surprised to know that Indonesia's biggest killers are not earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanoes.

Yes, Indonesia has more active volcanoes (129) and historically has had more volcanic eruptions causing death than any other country. But there are other lethal activities that do not make the news as much.

1. Smoking: approx. 400 000 per year:

2. Road toll (people killed while driving): Approx. 15 000 - 30 000 per year

This latter statistic really doesn't surprise me. Looking out the window, I increasingly see people riding motorcycles also doing things like using their mobiles and even writing sms-es while driving with one hand. Thanks to Benny the Great for these pictures:

Calls while driving, one hand
Indonesian policemen using mobile while driving

Then there are other common practices, like:

- Packing all the family on to a motorcycle.

Family Travelling By Motorcycle

- Using busway lanes and overtaking the buses when they are at stops.

Motorbikes in busway lanes

So these frequent occurrences make me wonder if Indonesia should give up trying to curb these practices and just recognise them, using a vehicle like The Darwin Awards.

As the Darwin Awards website says:

Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it in an idiotic fashion.

Every year, it produces a short list of winners, usually stories that readers submitted. It is widely read and has produced a number of spin-off books and even a movie:

darwin awards books
Darwin Awards Movie

As such, I feel Indonesia is somewhat under-represented in the Darwin Awards. A search for "Indonesia" reveals only five matches.

How does this compare to its regional neighbours? It is only one more than the much smaller Malaysia, the even smaller "little red dot" Singapore and the Philippines, and two more than Vietnam. It is the same as Thailand. Curiously, its far less populous southern neighbour, Australia, has many more matches: 30.


So if you agree with the concept, please send in your suggestions for:

1. Stories of Indonesians involved in Careless Deaths

E.g. Defecating man eaten by crocodile in Kalimantan:

2. A suitable name for an Indonesian Darwin Awards Ceremony

Captain Marwoto Komar

I personally would call them the Marwoto Komar Awards (after the pilot of Garuda flight GA200 who ignored 15 automated warnings before crashing the plane), except he didn't die. However, he did subsequently become the first pilot to be jailed for negligence while flying a commercial aeroplane.


38 Comments on “Darwin Awards 4 Indonesia”

  1. avatar David says:

    I sort of admire the devil may care attitude, at least when it’s not endangering other people, and I don’t admire what I think is an over-obsessiveness with safety and health in western countries where it seems like there’s a sign everywhere … ‘Do this!’; ‘Don’t do that!’ ; ‘Be careful!’

  2. avatar timdog says:

    The wanton disregarding of all “health and safety” rules is fine, but that’s not quite the same thing as mind-numbing stupidity. Every year a good few Indonesian students die while trying to climb the country’s various volcanoes.
    They die not because they hikes are dangerous, but because they attempt them wearing tee-shirts and carrying no water.
    Heading for the top of a 3000 metre+ mountain wearing sandals and not carrying so much as a jacket or a packet of biscuits isn’t brave or admirable; it’s ridiculous. So those guys get a Darwin award, I reckon.

    BTW, what’s with all these real names, guys?

  3. avatar rustyprince says:

    Cewe driving motor with toddler sitting in the pocket down Ternate’s main street a few weeks back……heck what’s Darwinian about that……well she was writing an sms at the same time as paying attention to all the mayhem around her. God bless that kid is all I can add.

  4. avatar Chris says:

    Hi Timdog,

    BTW, what’s with all these real names, guys?

    It’s a policy change instituted by WFKAP (the Webmaster Formerly Known As Patung).

    One factor was Mau Ke Mana (an online booking service for Indonesian domestic flights we started recently). It seemed a bit dubious/suspicious to prospective clients if we still used online psuedonyms, rather than real names.

  5. avatar David says:

    Anyone like to speculate on the possible reasons for this apparent disregard for personal safety? Assuming that statistically Indonesians are less prone to thinking and acting ‘rationally’ about their safety (I’d discount the Bonek/soccer fan example a little, because young men everywhere tend to be irrational risk-takers, although again statistically and proportionately…)

    Is it a relative weakness in lateral and analytical type thought among err, south east Asians? Ordinary stupidity? Cultural religious factors, different attitudes to death? I think in the case of westerners what I still see as an over-obsession with safety/health is partly a function of westerners trying to avert their eyes from death itself, pretend that it doesn’t exist, whereas Indonesians at least tend to be much more accepting of death, even cheerful about it. Not sure how to work that in there because it’s not even making full sense to me….

    And I’ll own up about the family on motorbike stuff – I have done that many, many times, one wife and several kids in tow, I wouldn’t do it for an inter-city trip but for scootering around the neighbourhood I don’t see any problem and it beats driving which just makes me stressed….

  6. avatar Astrajingga says:

    All these things are substitute of Family Planning (Decreasing Population) Programme.

  7. avatar Hans says:

    0 tolerance, Swedish, perhaps, why should anyone die in unnecessary, in traffic, at work, at school or on the way home. let children keep their parents, and let the kids grow up and die after the parents. WHO Estimates That There aremore Than 75 000 annual deaths in Indonesia due to diarrhoea caused by polluted water! badhygiene, indoor and outdoor Air Pollution. this is not usually half of the population obtained water from sources ITS Further Than 10 meters from excreta disposalsites a universal standard for water safety, distance in Sweden It is 50 meters and we have 2,7 annual deaths and a importen 0 tolerance.

  8. avatar timdog says:

    David:

    Anyone like to speculate on the possible reasons for this apparent disregard for personal safety?

    Yes: me. It’s not a “disregard”; to disregard something you have to be aware of it in the first place.
    The idea that it has something to do with a more relaxed attitude towards threats and death (and as a counterpoint an overwrought “health and safety” obsessed “West” cringing in terror at the thought of oblivion) is cute, but – I think – a red herring.
    Indonesians are very scared people: ask anyone, from the tukang sampah to the mallrats in Galaxy, if they think it’s a sensible idea to go wandering around the Indonesian countryside, to go to a market, to ride on a train, to drink cold water/eat rambutan/ride a bike without a jacket. No no no, they’ll shriek, citing the terrifying twin threats that haunt every Indonesian: faceless orang nakal – and masuk angin…

    And yet these people would try to climb a mountain without a bottle of water.

    The whole-family motorbike ride is one thing (I’m OK with that; I like motorbikes; I know it would be sensible to wear leathers, but for crying out loud – can you imagine wearing leathers in Indonesia? On a bebek???); the Darwin award stuff is something else, and I think it has to do with the way Indonesians are generally brought up: in short they are utterly cossetted as babies and children, pampered and protected while being instilled with a sense of lots of amorphous threats to their person and their health (bad people, somewhere out on the road; cold water and masuk angin!), while at the same time not being encouraged to engage with their environment or to make the sensible risk assessments that people brought up in other circumstances do automatically. (this also probably has something to do with the fact that so many Indonesians manage to be singularly terrified of the big bad world, while at the same time very susceptible to being tricked and scammed).

    I’d be the first person to roll my eyes at the absurdities of “health and safety” culture and the preposterous idea that a “risk assessment” could ever usefully be something formalised rather than something that you do unthinkingly inside your head every time you open a cupboard, get in a car or brush your teeth…
    I was brought up in a very rural area, in an environment of agriculture and the fishing industry, and with “adventure sports” to look forward to once I got a bit bigger. No cossetting, no pampering, no threat of masuk angin, and yet I was still somehow instilled with the ideas of how to cross a road safely, how to find my way in wild spaces, how to handle myself in the sea, the sensible concept of “one hand for the boat, one hand for yourself”, how to judge if conditions were right to scramble down to the bottom of huge granite cliffs to go fishing, or to scramble up to the top to hurl myself off the into the deep water below.
    That’s the stuff that leaves you in later life able to say, “Hmm, I think I’ll take some water and a jacket as I head up this mountain…”
    Now of course, some kid from inner city Manchester wouldn’t have got quite the same upbringing, but I’m still fairly convinced that – until comparatively very recently indeed – they would have got far more of it than most Indonesian children.

    I do worry, however, that in the current climate of hysteria around risk – especially risk to children – that has emerged, we’re on the brink of far more Darwin awards being dished out to maladjusted young adults in “the West” too…

  9. avatar rustyprince says:

    Unfortunately I missed getting there but I think I’ve got a clear winner for Int Darwinian craziest daredevils
    The Whale Hunters of Lamalera, who head out in a traditional perahu to locate the mighty Sperm of Moby Dick fame, where-upon a youth will attempt to land on proud mammal and harpoon it.
    My old Lonely Planet narrates that the force of will that develops between the combatants led one whale to drag two boats 80km b4 they finally sank; luckily a 3rd boat was on hand – doesn’t say what happened to the whale.
    More recently I’ve read of a whale diving deep and tragically taking the traditional hunters with her. But the spirit remains unquashed.
    Maybe Greenpeace should get involved?

  10. avatar deta says:

    Anyone like to speculate on the possible reasons for this apparent disregard for personal safety?

    Some people do the dangerous stuffs purely out of idiocy, but some others do that because no better choices available. KRL Jabotabek, for example, is the only mode of transportation affordable for some commuters, even if they have to climb to the top of the train and risk their life everyday. Living on the edge is no longer frightening when they take it as a routine.

  11. avatar ET says:

    Is it a relative weakness in lateral and analytical type thought among err, south east Asians? Ordinary stupidity? Cultural religious factors, different attitudes to death?

    It’s just carelessness. The same attitude as towards the environment.

  12. avatar BrotherMouzone says:

    Anyone like to speculate on the possible reasons for this apparent disregard for personal safety?

    Part of it is conditioning; when I was a kid, if I was running around and banged into a table, my parents would be sympathetic but would make it pretty clear to me that it was my own stupid fault for running indoors.

    Many Indonesian parents provide the sympathy perfectly well, but they will blame the table for the accident. “Mejanya nakal ‘ya, Sayang!”

    Fast forward 15 years and you’ve got a motorcyclist SMSing with one hand and drinking Krating Daeng with the other who drives into the side of your parked car and then blames you for being in his way…

  13. avatar timdog says:

    BrotherMouzone – My own point, in a nutshell. Now why couldn’t I say it as succinctly as that?!? 😉

  14. avatar BrotherMouzone says:

    TimDog,

    Not to forget the prevalence of “Hantu” as a meaningless (in fact counter productive) way of modifying a child’s behavior.

    On a visit to some relatives in Java, my (then) four-year-old started showing some serious interest in the open well at the back of the house.

    “Jangan! Jangan! Ada hantu disitu!” was the shriek from the matriarch of the house; immediately scaring my daughter away from the well. Effective in the short term but not nearly as useful long term as a simple;

    “Don’t lean over the edge of the well or you could fall in and hurt yourself badly”.

    I have banned the word “Hantu” from my home on a three-strikes-and-you’re-not-welcome-around-any-more basis. It’s a lazy parenting short cut with long-term implications.

  15. avatar Oigal says:

    Or is it that for some reason (I still don’t understand why) the dangers or consequences of actions are not recognised.

    After many years “the if I don’t acknowledge it” it can’t hurt me still amuses me. Motorcycle Riders do it all the time, they will go out of their way not to look at on coming traffic as they pull out into the street.

    Having said that, I do love the downward waving of the hand when walking across a busy street to create the mystical force field which nothing can destroy. I confess I use it myself now, much to the horror of first time visitors.

  16. avatar timdog says:

    BM – again, I couldn’t agree more. It’s all part of that instilling a general sense of fear and threat without equipping kids with the stuff they really need so as not to get run over by a truck the moment they step out of the house on their own.

  17. avatar monyet says:

    All this is true, those behaviours take root in a very bad formal and informal education and again we can use the word that best describe Indonesian people : STUPIDITY. They are not bad people they are just deeply stupid. Not living in reality. Immature, selfish never growing children that don’t care about others (in antrian, on the road, even in malls).

    And Hey.. God is always above their head! They have special protection from above 😉 Everybody knows that as long as you pray nothing bad can happen.

  18. avatar rsmarto says:

    Is this the result of overpopulation or mere ignorant of the value of life……….

  19. avatar BrotherMouzone says:

    ‘nyet

    All this is true, those behaviours take root in a very bad formal and informal education and again we can use the word that best describe Indonesian people : STUPIDITY. They are not bad people they are just deeply stupid.

    Yet not quite as stupid as someone who makes blanket statements about the intelligence of an entire nation, eh?

    Nobody above was saying that Indonesians are stupid, just that there are some common child-raising techniques that lead to a disassociation between cause and effect…

  20. avatar Oigal says:

    Certainly, Stupid is not the generic term I was trying to convey and my apologies if that is how it read. It is just an inability of myself to grasp the mindset that simply does not appear to allow potential consequences of actions to influence behaviour. As an example, the all too common and cringe inducing sight of the small child with no helmet, dozing off on the back of the motor bike as mom/dad rips thru the traffic.

    In real life, I rarely get angry with what goes on around me that I cannot influence but in those cases, I invairably just want to grab the parent and shake them whilst screaming “What the hell are you thinking!”

    From another angle, before I came to Indonesia I was firm believer in Evolution and now I am not so sure. From an evolution standpoint, the sheer number of needless deaths and braindamage created by the stupidity (yes in this case stupid) of the majority of bike riders should have ensured a significant cull of the low IQ ones. One would think therefore the herd over time would be getting smarter n safer but that is not the case, if anything the reverse is true 🙂

  21. avatar ET says:

    Stupidity is the logical consequence of a lack of education and the resulting inability to make a distinction between what is important and what is not. Apparently safety – in all kinds of domains, also the environment – doesn’t seem high on the priority list here. Then everybody becomes baffled and outraged when airlines are prohibited from entering foreign airspace.

    It would be interesting to know the opinion about this of Indonesians who were brought up abroad.

  22. avatar Oigal says:

    Stupidity is the logical consequence of a lack of education and the resulting inability to make a distinction between what is important and what is not.

    I would disagree on several levels, firstly the premise that Education or lack of equates to inherent intelligence. The world is full of educated idiots. To bring it closer to home to such that the local kampung person is lacks intelligence because he/she did not have the benefit of intelligence is just wrong. In fact, the very survival of some in conditions that would overwhelm so many “educated” people clearly demonstrates their, some would say superior intelligence in certain areas.

    On another level, it is often the different cultural (possibly a better word could be used) differences that make it hard for different groups to understand how the thinking process goes.

    As an example, a number of years ago when attending Nusa Cendana (Kupang) University, I had an Indonesian Professor, who was without a doubt extermely clever, articulate and worldly until it came to understanding the points on a compass.

    He could obviously translate North, South, NNE etc, but the concept that they remained unchanging or the various fixed relations between them was beyond his grasp. As it turned out, he grew up in a village where there was only two directions inland and the sea, for whatever reason that was “hardwired” into his brain. I guess it is something like myself trying to grasp what happens at the end of the universe..there has to be something or nothing..or…aahh my head hurts.

    Now to suggest that the Professor was stupid would be plain ..well..stupid and yet he was better educated than most here ever will be.

  23. avatar deta says:

    One dimension of human intelligence is called survival intelligence, which is the ability to recognize clues before violent situation happens and can be improved through proper stimulation and training, not necessarily through formal education. I wonder if this is what Indonesians are generally lack of.

    Anyway, statistically, when there are more bikers on the roads – thanks to the credit facility provided by some financial institutions to buy motor bikes – the probability of us stumbling upon careless (and yes, stupid) people riding on the road is also higher. It is worsened by the fact that there are now a lot more spots people can visit to get a driver license by bribing the police, rather than through proper IQ test. I wonder who is stupid now….

  24. avatar ET says:

    Anyway, statistically, when there are more bikers on the roads – thanks to the credit facility provided by some financial institutions to buy motor bikes – the probability of us stumbling upon careless (and yes, stupid) people riding on the road is also higher.

    The more reason to ‘educate’ or should I say ‘motivate’ motorists to make them aware. Where I come from police officers go to schools to teach about traffic rules and everything related, even how to behave in case of emergencies. This is what I meant by ‘education’ in my last post.
    Do you think Polri would care to do the same?

  25. avatar deta says:

    Do you think Polri would care to do the same?

    Read my last two sentences and you’ll know my answer for that question 😉

  26. avatar ET says:

    Read my last two sentences and you’ll know my answer for that question

    The question was only rhetorical. Of course.

  27. avatar BrotherMouzone says:

    Where I come from police officers go to schools to teach about traffic rules and everything related, even how to behave in case of emergencies. This is what I meant by ‘education’ in my last post.
    Do you think Polri would care to do the same?

    They actually do. Unfortunately, bad example from family and friends 365 days a year is a stronger educator than a session with a friendly PolWan once a year…

  28. avatar Chris says:

    Not totally relevant/on topic, but the photo of the policeman typing an sms while driving/riding his motorcycle reminded me of this story in The Jakarta Post. I have included an excerpt below:

    Police allegedly beat student for dangerous driving warning

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions, or so the saying goes.

    A motorist in Yogyakarta learned this the hard way recently when he was beaten by police after reprimanding an officer who was allegedly using his cell phone while riding a motorcycle.

    Mashono Rio Kertonegoro, a 21-year-old resident of Piyungan, Bantul regency, ended up in Hidayatullah Hospital with bruises and injuries to the back of his head, legs, hands and more.

    “I’ll take this case to court,” Mashono, a law student of Ahmad Dahlan University in Yogyakarta, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

    On Tuesday, he filed his case to the university’s legal aid center, which will represent him in court.
    Mashono said the incident took place on Saturday while he was travelling along Jl. Wonosari in
    Yogyakarta.

    Mashono said he had almost fallen off his motorcycle while trying to avoid a policeman on a motorcycle, who was likely texting with his cell phone.

    “The policeman was busy with his cell phone, and didn’t realize that his motorcycle had veered into the middle of the road,” Mashono said.

    “He came close to colliding with me, and almost made me fall off.”

    Mashono said he reprimanded the officer spontaneously.

    The officer, meanwhile, had a different story, saying he was not using his cell phone but checking the time.

    Marshono reported the case to an officer at a nearby traffic police unit checking passing vehicles.

    “I was following the police and, ‘never send text messages while riding’,” Mashono said.

    “The policeman endangered other road users and violated the 2009 Traffic Law. That’s why I reported the case to the officer in charge of the traffic operation,” he said.

    However, the policeman told his version of the story to the officer. Marshono then argued that the officer did not need to look at his cell phone to check the time since he was wearing a watch.

  29. avatar realest says:

    im inclined to say it has more to do with poverty. I see the same kind of brashness in rural china a few years ago. Driving every day in the streets of Jakarta made me wonder how these people value their lives so cheaply, and a coincidence is something one too many. When one lives in poverty and constant lacking without seeing light at the end of the tunnel, sometimes being alive doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

  30. avatar kahaian says:

    So typical. I thought you guys were talking about the darwin awards. Why bring politics on top of it? I think the original darwin awards committee (or whatever they call themselves) never meant to go that far. Sorry,just a thought.

Comment on “Darwin Awards 4 Indonesia”.

RSS
RSS feed
Email

Copyright Indonesia Matters 2006-15
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact