The Indonesian Way of Death

Jan 30th, 2008, in Society, by

The Indonesian way of death is too graphic for some.

Some of you probably watch Metro TV’s English language news programme and I did last week. Most of the news was predictable, but one part caught my attention, namely the feature on the recently launched enterprise known as “Royal Casket”. This little business is apparently getting bigger, and has a huge potential market, for it caters to dead bules (ed. westerners).

Actually, it’s both good business and a valuable service, for it apparently handles all the arrangements for expats who die here. If your loved ones are far away, it is bound to be hard for them to navigate through the bureaucracy that Indonesia delights in. Not having died recently, I don’t know the ins and outs of the administrative process, but I imagine even getting a death certificate requires a deal of cash, not to mention a waiting game while the correct pen-pushers are located.

So good luck to Royal Casket, which even won a televised endorsement from the British Consul.

But what stuck in my craw was the inclusion of the promo – it was hardly news at all – of the name of a deceased English fellow complete with film of his corpse being prepared for despatch!

Local TV does not have the inhibitions of British or indeed most Anglo-Saxon media about displaying cadavers. That’s just a different way of looking at death, a cultural thing which we must accept. But Metro’s weekly news round-up is aimed at foreigners and ought to have an insight or two into what passes for respect in the bule world. Their staff are educated people and are in the habit of meeting foreigners. Surely the close-up identification of a dead young Englishman was utterly unnecessary?

11 Comments on “The Indonesian Way of Death”

  1. I don’t know about foreigners, but when my grandma passed away, everything was done by the hospital. The death certificate was not complicated. After we got a death report from the hospital, we just went to our Kelurahan and we got the certificate instantly with no fees.

  2. Janma says:

    I’ve had to sort out arrangements for a few foreigners who have died here…. it’s not too hard really. The hospital does most of it. We even got money to help from Jasa Raharja for Olivia’s funeral (she was 16 and killed in a motor bike accident… but had no insurance).. I didn’t even know she would get that, they contacted me to give the money over….

  3. Janma says:

    Oh, and on topic about seeing dead people on tv…. you should watch the lunchtime crime shows ross! unbelievable… absolutely no compunction at all about showing a two year old with it’s throat slit lying in blood beside his mother who is screaming and writhing on the floor…. all in time for the kids getting home from school. Forget smackdown being a worry, those things make smackdown look like disney!

  4. dewaratugedeanom says:

    Reality TV, isn’t that a US invention?

  5. Bas says:

    The real Reality TV is in Indonesia. You see nothing in the US.

  6. Ross says:

    Ya, Janma, watch crime progs most days. Just thought Metro might have had some compunctions re the poor Englishman’s kinfolk.
    Happily I have had no experience in such matters here (bereavement, not crime) so interesting to hear it is not too hard.

  7. Purba Negoro says:

    Maybe the Westerner is too much like little girl these days?

  8. zekky says:

    I remember Indo TV showing the full dead bodies of burned corpses once.

    My Japanese friend told me that Japanese TV is the same… perhaps displays of dead bodies just aren’t such an issue in this region of the world?

  9. Stupid Bule says:

    Yes I agree Jamma, I too have seen this appalling lunchtime crime program (0nce only). I was deeply upset and traumatised by viewing the program showing the small child you spoke of. What self-respecting ‘civilised’ people would allow for such depravity? If the Television Broadcasting Censorship Laws in this country are anything to go by, then be afraid…be very afraid.

  10. ET says:

    What self-respecting ‘civilised’ people would allow for such depravity? If the Television Broadcasting Censorship Laws in this country are anything to go by, then be afraid…be very afraid.

    They are more preoccupied with pornografi laws than with real gore.

  11. Stupid Bule says:

    They are more preoccupied with pornografi laws than with real gore.

    Yes, the only problem with this is that they believe a woman’s bare breast is “pornography”…

    Who would of thunk it..? A woman’s breasts are “pornographic”. Last time I checked, breasts were not man made…

    Most definitions seem to agree that pornography is; The explicit depiction or exhibition of sexual activity in literature, films or photography that is intended to stimulate erotic, rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.

    I take issue with the interpretation of the law and the self-serving manner in which it’s enacted. Explicit footage of a child with her throat cut is news worthy and available for anyone with a TV. Whereas breasts, erotically stimulating or repulsive (it’s a matter of taste) are removed.

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