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February 18 2014

Miss Online Award in Miss Indonesia Pageant

miss_indonesiaAside from presenting their beauty, charm, talent, and intelligence, contestants of the Miss Indonesia 2014 beauty pageant also learned to be tech-savvy. Special tech-related awards were given during the contest such as Miss Chatting, Miss Social Media, and Miss Online.

February 17 2014

Dancing and Rising for Justice in Southeast Asia

Filipino activists hold a 'One Billion Rising' dance protest near the Philippine presidential palace to push for greater subsidy to social services.

Filipino activists hold a ‘One Billion Rising’ dance protest near the Philippine presidential palace to push for greater subsidy to social services.

The ‘One Billion Rising’ campaign was supported by many groups and individuals in the Southeast Asian region. This year, the theme was broadened to include the call for justice aside from the particular demand to end violence against women.

In Cambodia, the violence inflicted on striking garment workers was highlighted during the preparation of the event:

…there have been crackdowns and violence on garment factory workers who demonstrated for better working conditions which resulted in many (casualties). Other female land rights activists had also been savagely beaten, arrested and detained without investigation. Reparations have never been made for the victims and until (today) the perpetrators have not been brought to justice

But the biking activity on February 14 was blocked by the police since it was seen as a threat to peace and order.

Cambodia's bike event was blocked by the police

Cambodia's bike event was blocked by the police

In Indonesia, ‘One Billion Rising’ activities were held in seven cities across the country.

The 'One Billion Rising' dance was performed in seven cities in Indonesia

The ‘One Billion Rising’ dance was performed in seven cities in Indonesia

'Rise for Justice' in Indonesia

‘Rise for Justice’ in Indonesia

Members of the Women in Hai Hau in Nam Dinh province, Vietnam led a practice session for the ‘One Billion Rising’ dance event. Below is a video of their rehearsal:

In Thailand, students of Chiang Mai University supported the ‘One Billion Rising’ campaign. Below is a video of their practice session:

Another 'One Billion Rising' photo in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Image from Facebook page of Lisa Kerry

Another ‘One Billion Rising’ photo in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Image from Facebook page of Lisa Kerry

In the Philippines, the women’s group Gabriela coordinated the ‘One Billion Rising’ campaign and they were able to mobilize thousands of women in various parts of the country. Joms Salvador, secretary general of Gabriela, explained the importance of the campaign to eliminate all forms of violence against women:

Sometimes, because of the impunity of poverty, human rights violations, violence against women and children, people tend to be desensitized. We need to realize that such situations must not be the norm and that these have to change. We need to act collectively and make our call for justice stronger because things could only get worse when we keep silent and just watch idly by.

In the city Davao located in the southern part of the country, the issue of corruption was underscored in the fight for meaningful justice:

With the state of the country marred by corruption especially with the anomalous use of the public funds, then all taxpayers should be with us in dancing to call for justice

'Justice' is the theme of this year's 'One Billion Rising'

‘Justice’ is the theme of this year's ‘One Billion Rising’

'Rise, Release, Dance' activity in Davao City, located in the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines

‘Rise, Release, Dance’ activity in Davao City, located in the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines

'Justice for typhoon Haiyan victims' is one of the demands of the campaign

‘Justice for typhoon Haiyan victims’ is one of the demands of the campaign

Workers called for a wage hike as part of the campaign for social justice

Workers called for a wage hike as part of the campaign for social justice

February 07 2014

Indonesia: Twitter Defamation Case Casts Shadow on Media Landscape

Screenshot of @benhan Twitter page

Screenshot of @benhan Twitter page

Popular Indonesian Twitter user Benny Handoko, @benhan on Twitter, was sentenced to one year of probation last week, after being found guilty of defaming a former politician.

Benny tweeted on December 7, 2012 that former Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) member Mukhamad Misbakhun (@misbakhun) was a crook who had stolen from Century Bank, the embattled financial institution at the center of a 2008 scandal in which lawmakers pushed excessive bailout funds to certain banks as part of a larger money-making scheme. Benny rose to Twitter fame because of his sharp commentary on the scandal.

In 2010, Misbakhun was sentenced to two years in jail for forging documents to acquire a loan from the bank. Misbakhun soon after resigned from his party and eventually lost his seat in Congress. But in July 2012, the Supreme Court overturned the 2010 conviction.

Misbakhun threatened that if Benny did not apologize for his tweets calling the Misbakhun a crook, he would sue Benny for libel. But the Twitter celeb refused to apologize, arguing that he based his comments on news reports.

Misbakhun later filed a police complaint against Benny, which ultimately led to the case brought against Benny. In assessing charges, the prosecutor cited controversial Law No. 11/2008 on Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE).

Many Indonesians, especially avid social media users, are voicing support for Benny. Supporters see his case as a sign of rising Internet regulation and censorship in the country.

Media freedom advocates have long lobbied for the review and even repeal of the ITE, as it is often used by politicians to silence critics. They specifically highlight Article 27, Paragraph 3 of the law which gives a person or authority the right to file slander charges against a person or entity if he or she feels insulted or degraded by a particular publication under that entity's control.

After Benny’s verdict was announced, concerned Indonesians immediately expressed fear that it would have a negative impact on freedom of expression in the country. They added that it might discourage whistleblowers from coming out to expose corrupt practices in the government and society.

For his part, Misbakhun advised netizens to learn from the trial of Benny by being more careful and responsible before posting messages online. He reiterated that free expression must not be abused by hurling unfair and malicious accusations against other persons.

Benny has yet to decide whether he will file an appeal.

Beyond the legal fight between Benny and Misbakhun, the case could mark a turning point in the future of Indonesia’s free media. As long as the draconian ITE law exists, it will remain a pernicious threat to Indonesian democracy. It is time for Indonesia to seriously consider proposals to discard the law and embrace Internet legislation that upholds international human rights doctrine.

January 26 2014

Indonesia Apology Urged Over Massacre of a Million Citizens in 1965

Human rights groups Tapol and East Timor and Indonesia Action Network have launched a campaign called ‘Say Sorry for '65′ addressed to the Indonesian government in relation to the reported killing of a million citizens during the anti-communist campaign of the government in the 1960s:

In 1965/66, up to a million Indonesians were massacred by the military, paramilitary and civilian mobs. Hundreds of thousands more were injured, disappeared, raped and imprisoned without trial. The United States and the United Kingdom secretly welcomed and supported the killings.

For fifty years the victims have been asking for justice and for the government to Say Sorry for ‘65, but Indonesia denies these crimes even happened.

January 21 2014

Indonesian Maid Says She Was Beaten, Starved and Burned in Hong Kong

Thousands rallied on January 19, 2014 demanding justice for Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, an Indonesian maid who was allegedly tortured by her employer. Photo from Hong Wong.

Thousands rallied on January 19, 2014 demanding justice for Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, an Indonesian maid who was allegedly tortured by her employer. Photo from Hong Wong.

[The author of this post is a volunteer editor for news site inmediahk.net, which is quoted in this report.]

Another damning case of foreign maid abuse has recently been exposed in Hong Kong. Thousands of Indonesian domestic workers and local residents in the city on January 19, 2014 demanding justice for Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, a domestic worker who was allegedly abused by her employer for months.

The 23-year-old maid arrived in Hong Kong in May 2013 and started working for a family in Tsueng Kwan O, where she says was beaten with sticks and hangers on a daily basis for 8 months for “poor performance” at her job. As a result of the compulsory live-in arrangement, she could not reach out to her fellow maids for help. She could not even escape because her passport was held up by the maid agency, which she says only cared about getting back their service fee from the maid's monthly salary and ignored her desperate call for help.

Local media reported that she was found “covered in cuts and burns” in the Hong Kong Airport on January 10, 2014 and was hospitalized immediately after she arrived back home in Java, Indonesia. Apart from obvious cuts, the initial medical report found small bone fractures in her head. In fact, she was let go by her employer because she could barely walk due to the injuries.

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih was found in the Hong Kong airport on January 10 with obvious physical injuries in her body. Photo from Apple Daily News, non-commercial use.

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih was found in the Hong Kong airport on January 10, 2014 with obvious physical injuries on her body. Photo from Apple Daily News, non-commercial use.

Back home in the hospital, Sulistyaningsih told the media that “she was beaten daily, burned and allowed only two meals of plain bread and rice per day. She was allowed to sleep only between 1 p.m.-5 p.m. but not at night”. In fact, she's not the first maid from this family who has claimed they were abusive; at least two other maids who worked for the same employer have said that they had similar experience.

Activist groups are working together to press for policy solution to end the city's modern-day slave system. Auyang Lunfa from inmediahk.net, a local citizen media site, reported from the rally one of the maid's testimony:

Foreign maid Susie revealed in the rally that she was also starve abused by the same employer between 2011 to 2012. Photo from Tom Grundy's Twitter.

Foreign maid Susie alleged at the rally that she was also starved and abused by the same employer between 2011 to 2012. Photo from Tom Grundy's Twitter.

印傭 Susi 稱,自己在2010年4 月開始為涉案僱主工作至2011年3月,期間11個月,除了被禁足不準出門,而且每天被要求工作20小時,同時亦受到不同程度的虐打。她指「每當做錯野時就會被打」,曾被僱主曾用雞毛掃打,亦試過被猛耳仔。最嚴重一次,僱主曾威脅 Susi 叫她自殺。結果 Susi 苦苦哀求對方說:「自己有一對子女, 唔好要我死。」Susi 又指,中介公司無按合約每月3580付人工,反而在 Susi 終止合約時,只付上約六千元,作為11個月人工。Susi 表示已經到警署提供資料。

Indonesian maid Susi said she was working for the same employer between April 2010 to March 2011. For 11 months, she was forbidden to leave the apartment and was required to work 20 hours a day. She was beaten as well. “Whenever I did something wrong, I would be beaten”, she said. Her former employer would beat her with sticks and twisted her ears, once Law even threatened Susi and asked Susi to kill herself. Susi had to beg her, saying: “I have two kids, don't ask me to die.” Susie says the agency did not pay her the 3,580 Hong Kong dollars [approximately 480 US dollars] monthly salary. She was only given 6,000 Hong Kong dollar [approximately 880 US dollars] by the end of her 11 months of work. Susi had reported her case to the police [after Sulistyaningsih's case was exposed].

外傭組織發言人 Eni Lestari 透露,有另一名叫 Tina 的印傭於2011年間,為涉案僱主短暫工作三個月。Eni 說,Tina 要每日超時工作和沒有足夠食物,並同樣受到虐打。最後 Tina 在朋友幫助下報警,最後成功離職,現身在新加坡。

Eni Lestari, a foreign migrant worker campaigner, revealed that another Indonesian domestic worker named Tina had worked for the Law family for three months in 2011. Tina was also starved, worked overtime and was beaten. She reported the case to the police with her friends’ help and managed to resign from the job. Now Tina is working in Singapore.

Tina's case was never investigated, according to local media's report. The Hong Kong police said that they did not have enough evidence. When Sulistyaningsih's case was exposed by local media, Hong Kong police filed it under “miscellaneous case” because they did not have enough evidence to warrant taking further action.

Local women rallied on January 19, 2014 to show their support for Erwiana Sulistyaningsih. Photo from campaign page: Justice for Erwiana! Justice for Migrant Domestic Workers!

Local women rallied on January 19, 2014 to show their support for Erwiana Sulistyaningsih. Photo from Facebook campaign page Justice for Erwiana! Justice for Migrant Domestic Workers!

Over the past week, migrant organizations and local activist groups, including Mission for Migrant Workers, Amnesty International (Hong Kong), Open Door, Women Worker Association and Hong Kong Coalition of Trade Unions has been campaigning for justice for Sulistyaningsih. The weekend protest attempted reveal the Hong Kong police's long-time negligence of domestic workers’ calls for help as well as other discriminatory and exploitative policies, including the mandatory live-in requirement and the fortnight regulation on their visa, as well as the lack of minimum wage and working hour protection. Similar discussion happened a few months before when the story of Kartika Puspitasari's abuse came to light.

An info-graphic showing exploitative policy concerning foreign domestic worker. Image from campaign page: Justice for Erwiana! Justice for Migrant Domestic Workers!

An infographic explaining the exploitative policy concerning foreign domestic workers. Image from Facebook campaign page Justice for Erwiana! Justice for Migrant Domestic Workers!

It is obvious that the Hong Kong government has to bear responsibility for the vulnerable situation of the foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong. Post 852, a newly established commentary platform, explained the unbalanced power relationship between the employer and maid and made a suggestion:

與大部份香港人不同,外傭在港其實是「叫天不應,叫地不聞」,處境特別危險。[...]外傭在香港根本「冇人冇物」,親友都在遠方的鄉下。所以,一旦受虐,根本不會有人知曉。事實上,即使外傭在港認識了其他同鄉,對方也未必知道自己的住址,只要僱主突然沒收其手提電話,外傭就會立刻與世隔絕。

Different from local residents, foreign domestic workers are isolated from the society and thus in a vulnerable position. [...] foreign maids have very frew friends and their family members are not in Hong Kong. No one knows that she is being abused. Even if foreign maids get to know some of their peers in Hong Kong, they don't have each others’ addresses. When the employer confiscates their mobile phone, she would be cut off from the rest of the world.

Many kids joined the rally to support their nannies. Image from campaign page: Justice for Erwiana!

Many kids joined the rally to support their nannies. Image from Facebook campaign page Justice for Erwiana!

每間公司也會有「售後服務」,例如其公司就會免費為首次來港工作的印傭,提供最多兩次的家訪服務。不過,家訪的出發點並非為了確保印傭安全,而是幫忙解決僱傭雙方的語言障礙或合作問題(其實服務對象是以僱主為主)。更何況,假如僱主簽約時表明不需家訪服務,則公司也不會強求。

[In principle] every agency should provide services such as paying home visits to the maid. However, such visits are not set to ensure the safety of the maids, but to solve communication problems between the employers and the maids (the main purpose is to serve the employers). If the employers choose “no home visits” when they sign the contract, home visits is not mandatory.

其實,政府可立法強制中介公司定期家訪外傭,假如公司不遵守或敷衍了事,可被政府除牌。進一步說,政府更可直接由自己成立「外傭安全小組」作定期抽樣家訪,或要求外傭定期要到政府的辦事處面見職員。

Actually the government can make it mandatory for the agencies to pay home visits to the maid or they cannot obtain the licenses. Or the government can even set up its own team to randomly pay home visits to the maids or require the maids to have a private interview with the officers.

As a result of the pressure from migrant organizations and the Indonesian consulate, Hong Kong police and labor department finally sent an investigative team to Indonesia on January 20 to obtain testimony from Sulistyaningsih, as well as her medical reports from the hospital.

January 17 2014

North Sulawesi in Indonesia Hit by Flashflood and Landslide

Manado also experiencing horrible flood! Not only Jakarta!

The town of Manado in Indonesia was hit by a massive flashflood and landslide that displaced more than 40,000 residents.

Strong winds and heavy rains that lasted days triggered a landslide that buried dozens of vehicles and their passengers. It was also reported that the road that connects Manado city with Tomohon city was destroyed due to the landslide.

Photos, latest disaster updates from the ground, and solidarity messages are pouring on Twitter through the hashtags #prayformanado, #GodSaveManado, and #prayforsulut.

Storm followed by earthquake, followed by power outage. My one hope for tonight, soundless sleep and awake tomorrow. #GodSaveManado

O Lord, please facilitate the distribution of aid and evacuation for our brothers and sisters..#prayformanado

3-meter high sea waves at Boulevard avenue, Manado.

best prayers for friends and relatives in Manado and its surroundings. hopefully flood can be resolved at the soonest.

Twitter was maximized to to coordinate rescue missions:

Tweeps, please help RT this, a friend of mine Alex in Manado requires help from SAR team. Big thanks.

On Facebook, community pages and North Sulawesi diaspora groups provide latest updates and news regarding the status of disaster reliefs.

Landslide in Paslaten Minsel Village, North Sulawesi. Photo from Facebook page of Manado

Landslide in Paslaten Minsel Village, North Sulawesi. Photo from Facebook page of Manado


Ferix Sonanda expressed gratitude to Facebook friends who helped in facilitating the rescue of his nephew in a flooded village:

Terima Kasih atas bantuannya kawan2…. Seluruh anggota kantor ponakan saya telah dievakuasi skitar 30 mnt yg lewat…

Thank you for your help, friends. All of the office members where my nephew works have been evacuated 30 minutes ago.

Meanwhile, the Manado community Facebook page advised netizens to refrain from circulating news from unconfirmed sources that could trigger chaos amid uncertainty.

Minister for People's Welfare Salim Segaf Al Jufri assured that aid for flood victims are ready to be distributed. The Manado Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG Manado) predicts the possibility of further flooding due to heavy rainfall in the next few days.

Besides Manado, other towns were also devastated by the flooding such as North Minahasa regency, Tomohon city, Minahasa, South Minahasa, and Sangihe Islands.

Disasters caused by extreme rainfall have been reported in many parts of Indonesia, including the capital Jakarta.

January 16 2014

A Papuan Woman's Love Letter to an Indonesian Soldier

Photo from Papuan Voices

Photo from Papuan Voices

EngageMedia has uploaded a video about a Papuan woman's love letter to an Indonesian soldier who was once stationed in the border patrol unit in a village near Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. The video also highlighted the sexual assaults allegedly committed by some Indonesian soldiers in the border.

January 14 2014

Another Indonesian Maid Tortured in Hong Kong

Erwiana Sulistayaniangsih, a foreign domestic helper from Indonesia, was found severely injured in the Hong Kong airport when she returned home last week on January 10. She told her fellow maid on flight that she was beaten and tortured for months but too scared to report the case to the police. She was hospitalized soon after she arrived and the case was exposed. More from Hong Wrong.

Erwiana Sulistayaniangsih, a foreign domestic helper from Indonesia, was found severely injured in the Hong Kong airport when she returned home last week on January 10. She told her fellow on flight that she was beaten and tortured for months by her employer in Hong Kong but was too scared to report the case to the police. She was hospitalized soon after she arrived and the case was exposed. More from Hong Wrong.

January 11 2014

PHOTOS: Mount Sinabung Eruption Displaced 20,000 in Indonesia

Mount Sinabung erupted when a cloud of dust and heat to form an image of human skull. Photo by Abdullah Arief Siregar, Copyright @Demotix (1/9/2014)

Mount Sinabung erupted when a cloud of dust and heat to form an image of human skull. Photo by Abdullah Arief Siregar, Copyright @Demotix (1/9/2014)

Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung, located in North Sumatra, has erupted more than 200 times since last year and has already displaced more than 20,000 villagers. The volcano has been dormant since the 1600s.

Volcano Discovery provides the latest volcanic activity of Sinabung:

The actively growing lava dome, being a mass of unstable, moderately viscous lava, frequently collapses in parts and produces hot bloack and ash avalanches (pyroclastic flows) that reached up to 4.5 km distance. According to the latest figures, the number of refugees from the 5-7 km exclusion zone has reached approx. 25,000.

Indonesia, located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, has more than 100 active volcanoes. But Carl believes Sinabung will only lead to medium size eruption:

The magmatic system under Sinabung does not in any way contain enough magma for a supereruption.

Since so little is known about this volcano it is probably a good idea to look at the surrounding volcanoes to get an idea of what might be in store. Just a few kilometers away is the double volcano system of Mount Sibayak/Mount Pinto, and that might give a good clue at what might be in store.

Evacuations have been ordered by authorities who also assured affected residents that aid will be delivered promptly to those who are in temporary shelters. But aside from displacing villagers, the eruption of Sinabung made a tremendous negative impact on the local agriculture.

Utami Irawati expressed solidarity to those affected by the eruption:

The photo below from Demotix shows Mount Sinabung throwing ash and lava in the air.

Mount Sinabung ejected lava and hot clouds over Berastepu and Bakerah villages. Photo by by Abdullah Arief Siregar, Copyright @Demotix (1/5/2014)

Mount Sinabung ejected lava and hot clouds over Berastepu and Bakerah villages. Photo by by Abdullah Arief Siregar, Copyright @Demotix (1/5/2014)

Farmers harvest tomatoes covered in a thick layer of ash from the eruption of Mt. Sinabung. Photo by Ahmad Ridwan Nasution, Copyright @Demotix (1/6/2014)

Farmers harvest tomatoes covered in a thick layer of ash from the eruption of Mt. Sinabung. Photo by Ahmad Ridwan Nasution, Copyright @Demotix (1/6/2014)

The eruption of Mount Sinabung on November 24, 2013 ejected ash in the air with a height of about 10,000km. Photo by Abdullah Arief Siregar, Copyright @Demotix (11/24/2013)

The eruption of Mount Sinabung on November 24, 2013 ejected ash in the air with a height of about 10,000km. Photo by Abdullah Arief Siregar, Copyright @Demotix (11/24/2013)

January 09 2014

The Faces of Those Affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

the three-dimensional terrain of Google Earth, and the testimony of the victim who survived the tsunami disaster, a photo that is collected from immediately after the disaster.

Screenshot of Project Aceh Tsunami Archive. The project page allows users to view the three-dimensional terrain of Google Earth overlayed with stories of people who survived the tsunami disaster as well as photos collected from immediately after the disaster.

[All links lead to Japanese-language webpages unless otherwise noted.]

A group of researchers in Japan in cooperation with the Tsunami and Disaster Mitigation Research Center of Syiah Kuala University in Indonesia have used Google Maps to publish an extensive digital archive of stories and images of people in the Indonesian province of Aceh, one of the areas hardest hit by the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami [en].

Project Aceh Tsunami Archive was developed by three professors, Hidenori Watanave, Hiroyuki Yamamoto, and Yoshimi Nishi, and their students to digitally archive the stories of Aceh's damage and recovery toward a brighter future.

Hiroyuki Yamamoto shared his hope that there is something everyone can learn from the disaster recovery process:

被災から復興への過程は人類共通の財産です。その過程そのものが他の被災地域にとっても大変参考になる資料ですし、被災地域以外にとっても教育・防災で参考になる点が多くあります。この点で、復興に向けて町が変化すること自体が記録すべきものだと考えます。モニュメントとして一部の象徴的な爪跡などを残す動きはありますが、復興の過程で被災の面影が全く感じられなくなるほど変化するエリアもあります。私たちが継続的に定点調査し、日々の変化を記録しているアチェ津波モバイル博物館のデータをもとに、一般の人に使いやすくデザインされたアチェ津波アーカイブにより、被災地の内と外が繋がり、アチェの経験が人類共通の財産となることを期待します。

The process of recovery from the disaster has universal interest. It serves as a reference which will be very helpful for other affected areas, as well as helpful in disaster prevention education outside the affected area. In this regard, we believe that the changes in the region towards recovery should be recorded. Even though there is a movement to preserve damage as a monument, some areas undergo such drastic changes during reconstruction that no damage from the disaster can be traced. I have been researching the regions on a regular basis along with the data sets from Aceh Tsunami Mobile Museum. I hope that our usefully designed interface for the Aceh Tsunami Archive will help connect the people inside and outside of the affected region, and that the experience of Aceh will be shared as common property of mankind. 

Users have the option to select what information appears on the map, such as stories, photos, and aiding countries. By clicking the round photos of people, users can read the story of disaster victims in both Indonesian and Japanese. These stories of survivors were originally compiled and published by Badan Arsip Provinsi Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, the library branch of the National Archives of Indonesia in Aceh, and will be updated more in the near future as more of the text is translated into Japanese.

Screenshot of Aceh Tsunami Archive

Screenshot of the Aceh Tsunami Archive showcasing the story of Intan Mayasari, survivor of the disaster who quickly ran out of the house after the earthquake. 

Project Aceh Tsunami Archive is a counterpart to the already published East Japan Earthquake Archive [ja], so both sets of information can be viewed on a single globe integrated in Google map.

Hidenori Watanave, who has worked on a series of digital archive projects including the aforementioned archives as well as the Tuvalu Visualization Project [en], Nagasaki [atomic bomb] Archive, Hiroshima Archive, and Peace Learning Archive in Okinawawrote:

現地の学生たちは、口を揃えて「津波の記憶が薄れつつある」と話していました。このことには、日本とインドネシアの国民性の違いもあらわれているかも知れません。しかし学生たちは、未来に記憶をつなぐ研究活動を精力的に続けています。また、被災遺構である発電船や、打ち上げられた船の周りに集って遊ぶ子どもたちなど、津波の記憶が「日常」のなかに定着しつつある例も見受けられました。こうしたバンダアチェの被災状況、そして現状を知ることは、日本の将来を考える手がかりとなるかも知れません。

The students in Aceh unanimously said that the memories of the tsunami are fading away. That's something different from Japanese counterpart victims, which may reflect the different characteristic of each nationality. Yet these students are working hard so that their experience will be preserved for the future. We have also seen children playing around the powership and the stranded ship, which are remnants of the tsunami. These scenes are example of memories of the tsunami staying in everyday life, and knowing the condition of the effects and aftermath of the disaster may give clues to how we think about the future of Japan.

December 31 2013

Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia

The Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development has published a policy briefer that tackled the extent of human trafficking in Southeast Asia.

Many Southeast Asian countries are at the bottom of a lot of the world's supply chains, including for food, garments, and technology. Yet few countries in the region have adequate laws for addressing corporate responsibility for human trafficking, including in their supply chains.

The primer also provides country-specific recommendations on how to best address the human trafficking issue in the region

December 30 2013

PHOTOS: Humans of Southeast Asia

Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York Facebook page has inspired many photographers around the world to share photos and stories of ordinary people in the streets in their respective countries. Let us review similar initiatives in Southeast Asia.

The Humans of Brunei page was created on May 17, 2013. Below is a photo of Brunei students

Photo from Humans of Brunei Facebook page

Photo from Humans of Brunei Facebook page

Meanwhile, the Humans of Indonesia page was created on August 16, 2013. Below is a photo of Indonesians in the Harau valley waterfalls in the Bukittinggi area:

“It was a very special experience … these pristine waterfalls were turned into some kind of public bathing area. So if I would zoom out you would see kids riding inflatable ducks, souvenirs, people selling noodles & bunch of other activities …” Photo from Humans of Indonesia Facebook page

“Those young coconuts look fresh?” “Oh, please take one if you like” “Thank you so much. Why don’t you just drop them down? Seems heavy to carry like that” “Don’t you see that few kids play under these trees? I am worry these coconuts would hit them.” Photo from Humans of Indonesia Facebook page

“Those young coconuts look fresh?”
“Oh, please take one if you like”
“Thank you so much. Why don’t you just drop them down? Seems heavy to carry like that”
“Don’t you see that few kids play under these trees? I am worry these coconuts would hit them.” Photo from Humans of Indonesia Facebook page

There is also a Humans of Jakarta page. Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia

Photo from Humans of Jakarta Facebook page

Photo from Humans of Jakarta Facebook page

Check the Humans of Bali page. Bali is a popular island in Indonesia.

In Malaysia, Avinash explains the idea of creating the Humans of Malaysia page:

…firstly its because I want those people know that there are people out there who care, for their opinions, for their stories, for their time, for their attention, for their thinking, for their views on life, on every issue, on everything, and that these people make Malaysia home. Second, i like to listen. and ask questions of course. And thirdly, well because I was at a point of my life where i really just needed to talk to someone, i needed someone to not help, but to just listen, no one was there for me then. I always have this thing in my mind, thinking that i might come across someone today who really just need someone who would listen. Thats why I do this

“What scares you the most?”
“Being poor. Having no money. Everything is about money nowadays. Supporting my family, food, transport, bills. Its everywhere.” Photo from Humans of Malaysia Facebook page

There is a separate page for the Humans of Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia’s capital.

“Abang (brotherly term for a guy) Hafiz washes and arranges the fish and vegetables at one of the agricultural grocery stores in KL. It is late at night and people are still coming in.” Photo from Facebook page Humans of Kuala Lumpur

The Humans of Thailand page has not been updated regularly but the Humans of Bangkok page seems active. Bangkok is the capital of Thailand. Zon explains the project:

The page is a small urban project that I've just started about the people and their everyday lives in Bangkok, which has become a much more hybrid-society than ever. Revealing lives of the city inhabitants would make us better aware that everyone is interconnected.

“My daily challenge is riding. I have to manage to ride through the gaps between big cars. And actually it's extremely dangerous. I've been a taxi rider for a year but honestly I don't know how long I could continue with this job, or either know what I want to do next with my life.” Photo from Humans of Bangkok Facebook page

Bangkok police. Photo from Humans of Bangkok Facebook page

Bangkok police. Photo from Humans of Bangkok Facebook page

As the political crisis deepens in Thailand, Bangkok residents are calling for a ‘peaceful Sunday’

“Political conflict in Thailand now. We hope for #peacefulsunday and that no violence will take place tomorrow.” Photo from Humans of Bangkok Facebook page

Check also the Humans of Chiang Mai page. Chiang Mai is located north of Thailand.

Photo from Humans of Chiang Mai Facebook page

“No texts, no calls, nothing. Cause I'm still thinking abt my Painting!” Photo from Humans of Chiang Mai Facebook page

In Vietnam, we’d like to feature the Humans of Saigon and Humans of Hanoi:

Photo from Humans of Saigon Facebook page

Photo from Humans of Saigon Facebook page

Photo from Humans of Hanoi Facebook page

Photo from Humans of Hanoi Facebook page

In Laos, there is a Humans of Vientiane page. Vientiane is the country’s capital.

“Local law enforcement in Luang Namtha enjoying a game of petangue.” Photo from Humans of Vientiane Facebook page

Below is a photo of Stacy from Singapore relaxing at Clarke Quay. Photo from the Humans of Singapore page:

“I've been sitting here because it's quite breezy. And you can watch the boats passing by too. They've been doing a tour of the entire river all the way till Marina Bay Sands, where they tell you about the history of these places and Singapore. It's quite interesting, you hear all sorts of things which you didn't know and it's always a bit of a surprise.” Photo from Humans of Singapore Facebook page

Visit Humans of the Philippines and Humans of Manila. Manila is the capital of the Philippines.

Children of Tondo in Manila. Tondo is a working class district. Photo from Humans of Manila Facebook page

Children of Tondo in Manila. Tondo is a working class district. Photo from Humans of Manila Facebook page

The People of Yangon page created by Chris James White was also inspired by the Humans of New York idea. Yangon is major city in Myanmar.

People of Yangon Facebook page

People of Yangon Facebook page

December 26 2013

Projections of the Future: Tsunami Memorials and Disaster Response

On the anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Ivan Sigal visits memorials of the disaster in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and finds prophesies of our future. This story was originally published by Creative Time Reports.

The top of a mosque moved more than a mile by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, as depicted in a poster displayed at the Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

The top of a mosque moved more than a mile by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, as depicted in a poster displayed at the Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Last year I visited Banda Aceh, a provincial capital located on the northwestern tip of Sumatra. The Indonesian city was the epicenter of the December 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami, which tore through communities from Thailand all the way to Somalia, killing approximately 230,000 people. While I had traveled to Sri Lanka to help right after the storm, I followed Banda Aceh’s story of recovery closely over the years. I wanted to see for myself the choices a community made in rebuilding and memorializing those lost in the disaster. What I discovered was both haunting and instructive, a monument to a past catastrophe and a harbinger of things to come.

Banda Aceh was substantially rebuilt within five years, although traces of the tsunami remain visible on the margins of the city, in the shape of seawalls and remnants of the old bridge across the bay, and in the continuing home-reconstruction projects at the town’s edges. The province of Aceh, of which Banda Aceh is the capital, also experienced a political transformation; the armed separatist rebellion across Aceh’s interior concluded with a peace deal and substantial regional autonomy. Although international donors provided some $7 billion in funds to aid in the reconstruction, by some accounts it flowed disproportionately to the city at the expense of smaller towns and more remote regions, as well as to the political victors of the conflict. Along with urban and residential reconstruction, the city built memorials, a mass grave and a museum. These spaces preserve the memory of the 160,000 killed by the tsunami in Aceh, but they also play other roles, offering both moral instruction in civic engagement and tsunami tourism.

Diorama depicting people fleeing a wave, Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Diorama depicting people fleeing a wave, Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Diorama depicting people clinging to roofs, Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Diorama depicting people clinging to roofs, Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

The Aceh Tsunami Museum in particular embodies this goal of civic instruction. Photos of death and destruction, taken after the tsunami, loop endlessly; video monitors play images of traumatic moments, now pixelated and bordered by benign blue-bubble backgrounds. Colorful dioramas restage scenes of terror and death: clay figures hang from model boats or flee massive blue papier-mâché waves. A miniature of the city’s famed Baiturrahman Grand Mosque, one of the few buildings not destroyed by the waves, stands alone in front of a painted screen of rough sea and sky. Rusted motorcycles and seismographs, encased in glass, have been repurposed into objects of reverence and sentiment. Interactive maps depicting the changes in coastline are cast in rough gray fiberglass. A model house built on a hydraulic jack simulates the experience of shaking earth. These objects allow us both to look directly at horror and to distance ourselves from it, through facsimiles reduced in scale, rendered in clay and captured and framed in glass. They keep the experience at a safe remove while providing instruction in the value of creating and preserving order—implicitly supporting the post-conflict state.

New homes customized by their inhabitants, Banda Aceh, Indonisia, Photos by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

New homes customized by their inhabitants, Banda Aceh, Indonisia, Photos by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Beyond the memorials, Banda Aceh is a rebuilt city, now comprising neighborhoods of identical houses built with aid agency funds and supported by international contractors. Every house has been customized by its owner; variously colored facades, porches, patios and additions provide each with an individual personality. Neighborhoods are now protected by sea walls and acres of mangrove. Here is a city returned to its former pace, an ocean becalmed. Aceh’s story seems to be in the past, but the idea that the disaster it experienced can be confined to symbolic representations in museums is an illusion: the clay figurines drowning in papier-mâché waters are, I fear, projections of our own future.

When I first traveled to Sri Lanka in the days after the tsunami, witnessing the scale of destruction and trying to help in the aftermath changed my life. It opened in me a sense of urgency and an understanding that frequently the scope of disaster is the result of human failure rather than natural catastrophe. After the tsunami came Hurricane Katrina, the Kashmir earthquake, the Haiti earthquake, Superstorm Sandy, Typhoon Haiyan and numerous other calamities. With each of these events, it has become clearer that our efforts to mitigate the destruction unleashed by natural disasters are grossly inadequate. Forecasts of stronger and more frequent storms caused in part by a warming ocean mean that we will have to manage the threat of similar disasters for many years. We are only beginning to recognize what needs to be done, and how vulnerable we become the longer we wait.

Diorama depicting people fleeing a wave, Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Diorama depicting people fleeing a wave, Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Diorama depicting a floating diesel power station, Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Diorama depicting a floating diesel power station, Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012. 

Diorama depicting people fleeing a wave, Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia (detail). Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Diorama depicting people fleeing a wave, Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia (detail). Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Diorama depicting people fleeing a wave, Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia (detail). Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Diorama depicting people fleeing a wave, Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia (detail). Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012. 

Poster of tsunami victims, displayed at the Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Poster of tsunami victims, displayed at the Aceh Tsunami Museum, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Foundation for a new home in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Foundation for a new home in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Long-term effects of beach erosion in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Long-term effects of beach erosion in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Women sitting by a seawall in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Women sitting by a seawall in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Remnants of a bridge in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

Remnants of a bridge in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Ivan Sigal, 2012.

 

 

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

Haze and Haiyan: Southeast Asia’s Deadly Disasters of 2013

A Malay couple wears a face mask while celebrating their wedding day during haze in Muar, in Malaysia’s southern state of Johor bordering Singapore. Photo by Lens Hitam, Copyright @Demotix (6/22/2013)

A Malay couple wears a face mask while celebrating their wedding day during haze in Muar, in Malaysia’s southern state of Johor bordering Singapore. Photo by Lens Hitam, Copyright @Demotix (6/22/2013)

2013 will be remembered as a year of disasters in Southeast Asia. Oil spills, dengue outbreaks, earthquakes, coral reef destruction, bus crashes, hail storms, and massive floods devastated many towns in the region. But the two biggest disasters of the year are the transboundary haze pollution which covered the skies of Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia; and supertyphoon Haiyan (Yolanda) which hit the central part of the Philippines.

Forest fires in Sumatra, Indonesia caused a thick blanket of smog to descend on Singapore and many parts of Malaysia last June. While it is true that forest fire is a recurring problem in the region, this year’s transboundary haze was worse than in previous years. It was bigger, blacker, thicker, and harder to clear. It caused air pollution indexes to soar to record levels in both Singapore and Malaysia.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono apologized to Singapore and Malaysia for Indonesia’s failure to prevent the burning of forests in Sumatra which caused the haze in the region.

Naturally, the haze gravely affected the lives of many Singaporeans and Malaysians. In Singapore, the wearing of face masks as protection against the haze has become the new normal in the prosperous city state. N5 face masks have become ridiculously expensive and many people have had to wait in line for several hours just to buy them. Workers have been advised to go home, travel has been restricted, and the young and old have remained indoors. Dozens of schools in south Malaysia also suspended operations.

Numerous apps and online portals were developed to help citizens monitor the haze situation, as well as to track the location of reliable haze masks, clinics, and shelters.

As expected, media reports focused on the impact of the haze in Singapore and other urban areas of Malaysia. Unfortunately, there was scant reporting on the situation of Indonesian citizens who have tremendously suffered from the impact of both the haze and forest fires. Riau, located west of Indonesia, is considered the ‘ground zero’ of the haze disaster.

Aside from writing about their haze experience, many netizens also highlighted the need to address the root of the haze problem. In particular, they wanted palm plantation companies to be made accountable for the burning of forests. They also pressed for greater protection of the environment.

Children preparing a big Christmas lantern in the typhoon-hit city of Tacloban in Leyte. Photo from Facebook of Max Baluyut Santiago

Children preparing a big Christmas lantern in typhoon-hit city of Tacloban in Leyte, Philippines. Photo from Facebook of Max Baluyut Santiago

After the haze subsided in the region, a series of disasters struck the Philippines. A strong earthquake destroyed many buildings in the Philippine provinces of Bohol and Cebu on October. A few weeks later, a super typhoon wrought destruction in the nearby provinces of Samar and Leyte.

Haiyan was the world’s strongest storm of the year. It was also the fourth strongest to make landfall in world history. Situated in the typhoon belt of the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines gets battered by more than a dozen storms every year. But Haiyan was different. It proved to be a real super typhoon when it caused a tsunami-like storm surge that instantly killed thousands. As of this writing, more than 6,000 have died but the fatalities could be higher as relief workers continue to clean the debris in many villages.

The areas hit by Haiyan are among the poorest provinces in the Philippines. In fact, Eastern Visayas is the third poorest region in the country.

Many survivors have complained that aid was not properly and quickly delivered to communities. Many dead bodies were still seen lying in the streets, refugees had been begging for food, and rescue efforts have not yet reached the other remote islands of typhoon-ravaged provinces a week after the disaster.

After the partial restoration of telecommunication signals in some areas, some survivors and relief workers were able to connect online and they were able to narrate their ordeal during the storm; and also about how they coped for several days without power, food, and shelter. These were heartbreaking and powerful stories of loss and survival.

After the disaster, environmental activists pressed for more effective climate change treaties to prevent large-scale destruction in small island nations like the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Filipinos have been inspired by the global outpouring of aid and sympathy for the typhoon victims.

As 2013 draws to a close, it’s important to remember the painful lessons from Southeast Asia’s experience with the haze and Haiyan. The haze will return once more in 2014 if no regional effort is made to prevent forest fires in Sumatra. In the case of the Philippines, rehabilitation in the typhoon-hit provinces must be aggressively pursued or else the humanitarian crisis will further prolong the suffering of the typhoon victims.

December 24 2013

7 Rallies that Rocked Southeast Asia in 2013

1. ‘Million People March’ Against Corruption in the Philippines. Filipinos were outraged after a whistleblower exposed how legislators have been systematically stealing from their pork barrel allocations. Netizens called for a massive gathering in Luneta, the biggest park in the country’s capital to push for the abolition of pork barrel. Days before the August 26 rally, the president and congress vowed to abolish pork but it didn’t stop citizens from joining the event. It turned out to be the biggest rally during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

2. Thailand protest against the ‘Amnesty Bill.’ Various sectors, including those supportive of the government, rejected the controversial ‘Amnesty Bill’ which was approved by the parliament on November 1. Opposition to the bill emerged after it was reported that the amended version of the measure would benefit corrupt politicians and human rights violators. In particular, the opposition party said the bill will ‘whitewash’ the crimes of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who fled the country after being found guilty of plunder by a local court. The Senate eventually voted down the measure.

3. Anti-Government protest in Thailand. The shelving of the unpopular ‘Amnesty Bill’ didn’t end the protests in Thailand. More rallies were organized by the opposition but this time they started to demand the ouster of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra whom they accused of being a proxy of her elder brother. Rallies have intensified in the past few weeks and protesters were able to occupy several government buildings. Yingluck announced that the parliament will be dissolved to make way for an election on February. But the opposition said they will boycott the polls and instead they wanted to set-up a People’s Council. Thailand’s political crisis is expected to deepen in the next few weeks. This video shows the size of a rally in Bangkok last November.

4. Cambodia’s post-election protest. Tens of thousands participated in several assemblies, marches, and camp-ins organized by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party since September to protest the alleged manipulation of electoral results by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. The ruling party won by slim majority after it took 68 seats compared to the opposition’s 55 seats. It was the ruling party’s worst electoral performance since 1998 which has been in power in the past three decades. This video shows a protest scene at Phnom Penh's Freedom Park last September:

5. Malaysia ‘Black 505’ post-election protest. On May 8, 2013, hundreds of thousands gathered in Kuala Lumpur, the country’s capital, to protest the outcome of the election which gave the administration coalition a slim majority. ‘Black 505’ refers to the May 5 General Election which was tainted by allegations that the ruling coalition committed massive electoral fraud to remain in power. The ruling party, which has been in power since the 1950s, lost in the popular voting but it still retained majority of the parliament seats. The series of protests, which spread to other provinces, was also referred to as the ‘Malay Tsunami’. This video shows the protesting crowd assembled in a stadium:

6. Rallies in Singapore’s Hong Lim Park. Thousands gathered in Singapore’s Hong Lim Freedom Park on May 1, 2013 to protest the government’s White Paper on population. The May Day protest was the second time that a big crowd gathered in the park to speak out against the population program which many Singaporeans criticized since it would mean the hiring of more foreign workers. Then on June 8, 2013, an assembly organized by the ‘Free My Internet’ movement became the ‘largest blogger-led protest’ in Singapore which aimed to oppose the government’s new licensing scheme for news websites. The video below shows some of the Singapore blogs which replaced their homepages with a black image in solidarity with the protest:

7. Indonesia General Strike for Pay Hike. Workers in Indonesia have launched a two-day general strike on October 31-November 1 aimed at pressuring the government to raise the minimum wage. Tens of thousands joined the factory shutdowns, union visits, and rallies across the country although the turnout was smaller compared to last year's general strike.

Thousands of workers left production in a Sanyo factory. Photo from Facebook page of Tia Claudia E. Mboeik

Thousands of workers left production in a Sanyo factory. Photo from Facebook page of Tia Claudia E. Mboeik

December 15 2013

Jakarta Hotline for Victims of Sexual Violence

Jakarta has launched an emergency hotline to help women victims of sexual violence. The initiative is linked to the website developed by the National Commission on Violence Against Women to “make it easier for authorities to protect victims and bring perpetrators to justice.” Last year, there were more than 200,000 reported cases of violence against women in Indonesia.

December 10 2013

Mandela: Friend of Timor Leste and Indonesian Batik Fashion Icon

Southeast Asian nations joined the world in mourning the death of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero and first black president. Mandela is also remembered in the region as a leader who supported the independence struggle of Timor Leste and the most popular endorser of batik, a traditional Indonesian shirt.

Following his release from jail in 1990, Mandela visited Jakarta and received a souvenir batik shirt from then President Suharto. He eventually made the batik shirt his trademark suit in international gatherings which impressed Indonesian leaders including former Vice President Jusuf Kalla:

He had the courage to wear batik during a United Nations’ session. Even I might have had doubts wearing a batik shirt and speaking before the audience at a UN meeting.

Some of Mandela’s batik shirts were designed by Indonesian batik maestro Iwan Tirta. In South Africa, the batik came to be known as the Madiba shirt. Iwan believes that the batik has enhanced Mandela’s charisma as a fighter:

Mandela is a strong prominent figure who suits my batik collection. He does not only look appealing, but his fighter’s charisma is enhanced even more when he wears batik.

Jakarta Globe’s editorial urges Indonesian leaders to emulate the leadership of Mandela:

His passing is a moment for all of us to reflect on our own lives. Too many politicians today, including those in Indonesia, are too self-centered and concerned with immediate gain rather than working for a long-term goal.

On Twitter, Indonesians praised Mandela for wearing the batik:

Meanwhile, journalist Aboeprijadi Santoso recognized Mandela’s role in raising the prestige of the liberation movement in East Timor. When Mandela met Suharto in November 1997, he insisted to have a talk with Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao who was imprisoned for leading the independence struggle against Indonesia. Aboeprijadi Santoso wrote:

Mandela’s intervention and encounter with Xanana became public relation’s greatest victory for the Timorese. The 1997 momentum had, therefore contributed to the changing circumstances and awareness among both the Timorese resistance and in the international community.

Xanana Gusmão recalled the circumstances of that historic meeting:

He had told Suharto that it wasn’t possible for him to avoid bringing up the problem of East Timor since prior to his departure from Africa various human rights organisations had demanded that he do just this. And he had requested a meeting with me. At first, Suharto didn’t accept the request. However, Mandela explained to the dictator that when he himself was in prison he had received visits from various foreign entities (he named them all one by one, but I don’t remember now who they were) and also South African government officials. And apparently this had the effect of changing Suharto’s mind. He told me that his intervention was in the context of achieving peace, and he spoke of the need for peace …. and we began our meal.

December 08 2013

Monitoring Indonesia's 2014 Election Campaign

Ayo Vote is a useful website to monitor the 2014 election campaign in Indonesia. Sidarta Danang Kristianto hopes for better information about election parties and candidates:

… the government has created a website where voters can access information on each of the candidates, including a full biography. While the site is a great resource and will undoubtedly help many Indonesians to make their decisions, it seems something of an attempt to paper over the cracks in Indonesian democracy. Why are our future leaders and representatives presented to us in the same way we pick items on online shopping website?

December 07 2013

Review of University Websites in Southeast Asia

Le Minh Khai reviewed the websites of the leading universities in Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and was disappointed with the design and content of these online platforms.

November 26 2013

Indonesia-Australia Diplomatic Tension Escalates Over Wiretapping

Indonesian activists hold a demonstration denouncing the alleged wiretapping conducted by Australia in Indonesia. Photo by Akbar Gumay, Copyright @Demotix (11/21/2013)

Indonesian activists hold a demonstration denouncing the alleged wiretapping conducted by Australia in Indonesia. Photo by Akbar Gumay, Copyright @Demotix (11/21/2013)

A diplomatic row erupted between Australia and Indonesia after a document leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that Australia's Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) has been monitoring the mobile phones of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his proxies for at least 15 days in 2009.

In response, Indonesia is ceasing military and intelligence cooperation starting next year aside from planning to recall its ambassador to Australia. Other affected diplomatic cooperation includes the interceptions of Australia-bound illegal immigrants and parole for Schapelle Corby, an Australian convicted for drug smuggling in Bali.

For the past few days the Australian Embassy in Jakarta has been targeted by protesters who have condemned the Australian government's surveillance as an act which undermined Indonesia's sovereignty. The protesters have been burning the Australian flag and photos of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Islamist mass organizations have also used the issue to intensify their criticism against Western powers. For example, many Indonesian Path users have been circulating a photo collage to illustrate the protesters’ antics.

demo kedubes australia

Photo collage of an imaginary phone conversation between US President Barrack Obama and Australian PM Tony Abbot regarding the flag burning in front of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. From Path user Wasis Gunarto.

A group of hackers called Anonymous Indonesia also attacked several websites of the Australian government last week which included the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Australian Reserve Bank (ARB).

Meanwhile, a Blackberry Broadcast Message is circulating in Jakarta where motorists are urged to honk three times in protest whenever they're passing in front of the Australian Embassy:

“Untuk menujukan Protes terhadap Australia yang telah melakukan penyadapan kepada Pemerintahan Indonesia mari kita lakukan protes kepada mereka dengan MEMBUNYIKAN Klakson Mobil atau Motor anda 3 X jika melintas di depan KEDUTAAN BESAR AUSTRALIA …”

To show our protest against Australia which has been conducting wiretapping against our government, let them know by honking your car or motorbike's klaxon three times whenever you're passing in front of the Australian Embassy.

Below are some Twitter reactions over the wiretapping scandal:

Not only Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY)'s phone needs to be protected from surveillance. Everyone deserves communication privacy. None of us would like to be tapped, right?

It is not impossible that the wiretapping frenzy with Australia is a form of play to raise the value of SBY's administration before his end of tenure.

This (scandal) indicates SBY's personal fear and panic, because the First Lady Ani Yudhoyono is among the people under surveillance.

We have to believe that truth will prevail. Time is the key. WikiLeaks: SBY Abusing His Powerhttp://t.co/97KGWPI0JL

Meanwhile, Mark Textor, Tony Abbot's campaign strategist and adviser, tweeted a demeaning comment comparing Indonesian Foreign Minister, Martin Natalegawa, to a 1970s Filipino porn star. Textor has offered an apology for his offensive tweet and deactivated his Twitter account.

Following Textor's remark, a Filipino-owned website Interaksyon launched a poll asking the public which 1970s Filipino adult star resembled Mr. Natalegawa.

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