Atchafalaya Swamp

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Weekly Round-Up: Sunday, March 5, 2006

Jakarta Jazz Festival

Java Jazz Festival in full swing at Jakarta's Convention Center till March 5. Our very own Lewis Pragasam grooving it up as sideman for Bob James alongside Korea's Jack Lee and uber bassist Nathan East at the Plenary Hall Saturday, 4 March 2006.

Curiosly, it was reported that local acts like Ello, Indra Lesmana, veteran pianist Bubi Chen sold more seats than Tower of Power.

Where I work in Kalimantan Timur (East Borneo--KALTIM) bird flu has not (yet) reared its ugly beak. I think it's only a matter of time.

Mass demonstration by Balinese groups in Denpasar to oppose the controversial "decency" laws. Bare breasts of Balinese dancers and Papuan Koteka sheaths are in grave jeopardy... see reports below.

More opposition to the proposed raping and pillaging of pristine rainforests along the 1000 km Malaysia-Indonesia Borneo border to pave for oil-palm proyeks...

Kelas Bulu

Hard to believe there was a WBA bout in the small town of Tenggarong, Kalimantan Timur last Saturday, 4 March 2006.

Title Holder Chris John (WBA Ranking 4th) of Indonesia defended his WBA featherweight title from 32-year old challenger Juan Manuel Marquez (WBA Ranking 1st) of Mexico by unanimous decision from Judges Oscar Perez of the USA (116-110), Takeshi Simakawa of Japan (117-111) and Piniij Prayadsub of Thailand (116-112).

The 26 year-old local increased his already spectacular record to 37 Wins (20 KO’s), 1 Draw with no losses. As the defending WBA champion, John gets US$ 90,000 of the US$120,000 purse while the remaining split with the challenger Marquez.

Apparently there were boxing fans from Malaysia who knew about the bout and were keen to go. Tribun Kaltim (http://www.tribunkaltim.com/) reported that hotel rooms in Tenggarong (the highest rated being 3-Star Hotel Lesong Batu) were sold out a week ago and were anxious to hear back from a Malaysian group allegedly headed by Sultan Kamal Badawi to show up on the day of the bout. According to Lesong Batu’s resepsionis Shanti, “Sultan Kamal had booked two rooms for two nights but has yet to show up. She added that someone from the group called, “claiming to be on their way”.

Hmm, hmm is there really a Sultan Kamal Badawi or a joke perpetrated by someone out to besmirch Premier Abdullah Badawi’s countrymen?

The Tribun also said the Marquez was a big fan of ikan patin after having been spotted by locals to frequent at least three popular ikan patin restaurants during his stay there. No ikan patins in Mexico I take it?

Glad to hear from another fan of the ikan patin delicacy. Your Agence Salo-Presse (asp) correspondent has not had the opportunity to sample the local version of the dish yet but he intends to. Stay tuned.

Porn Bill, Skodeng and Mat Rela

In the current drive by some countries (read: muslim or muslim majority) to enact and implement new morality codes, the implementation and enforcement can verge on the absurd.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous muslim nation is grappling with this reality. A new “decency” or some say porn bill being debated in their parliament will make for hefty fines (up to US$20,000) for being indecent or indecently dressed in a public place. Artists from all over the archipelago have joined hands to oppose this bill claiming it will affect their livelihood and stifle creativity. Supreme dangdut practitioner InulGoyang Gerudi—literally translated to ‘shake drilling pelvis’”—Daratista is a frequent participant of the debate.

The force driving these social changes is the perceived need by legislators to uphold the spirit of “responsible, honest, and religious vision” type of government or what Indonesians say, ahklakul kharimah.

In Malaysia this would probably be the equivalent of Gemilang, Cemerlang, Terbilang, and most recently Telanjang and Temberang were also added.

Gleaned from reports in The Jakarta Post, the Tangerang municipality is taking it to some say, extremes. The first targets were sellers of alcoholic drinks of which (gleaned from) five people have been arrested and put on trial so far.

Two of the suspects were the managers of a Carrefour and an unnamed Hyper Market located in the municipality. The Carrefour manager was fined Rp 6 million (US$645) while the Hyper Market manager Rp 3 million. The crime was for stocking beer on the stores’ shelves.

They have existing permits of course. But this is a recent local municipality law. Malaysians should take heed.

Then it was the turn of “ladies of the night”. The Post also reported that Tangerang’s public order officers arrested at least 30 women “they decided were prostitutes”.

Are Rela men Thugs-in-Uniform?

They stand accused of violating the recently passed bylaw that prohibits anyone from engaging in “suspicious activities” which can (and will) be construed by the officers as prostitution.

The women who pled innocent still were fined Rp 1000 each by the judge before releasing them. Curiously those who admitted “behaving suspiciously”—why on earth would they admit this?—were fined very much higher between Rp 150,000 and Rp 550,000 or sentenced to three and eight days if they could not cough up the money.

Some of the women arrested during the raids said they were not prostitutes. The Post added, “One woman who is pregnant, asked the judge to summon her husband, which the judge adamantly refused. The judge banged his gavel, declared her guilty and ordered her to pay the fine. As she did not have the Rp 300,000 with her, she had no choice but to be taken directly to the women’s prison…her husband had no idea where she was. She was later found to be an elementary school teacher and housewife.

Another woman, who was waiting for her husband in a hotel lobby also fell victim and suffered the same treatment as the teacher. The judge said ‘the women had violated Article 1, Paragraph 4 of the 2005 bylaw, which prohibits anyone from hanging around on streets, in hotel lobbies, open fields or squares, boarding houses, entertainment centers, coffee shops or other people’s homes’.

No wonder the elementary school teacher was arrested, after all, she waiting at a bus stop after normal working hours” said the Post’s editorial.

Please take heed, Malaysia. This is the sign of the times. And a lot of you thought that Indonesia being a secular country is less “Islamic” than Malaysia. Well?

In line with akhlakul kharimah the next move on the morality agenda is to focus on schoolgirls’ thighs and knees. Hemlines would be lengthened. What the connection is between hemline and morality, and/or promiscuity is unclear.

Will the Malaysian schoolgirl pinafore one day be a relic?