Random Play by Graham Reid

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Random Play: In Your Neighbourhood

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  • Russell Brown,

    Thanks for doing the write-up, Graham. Much appreciated.

    The Asia:NZ Foundation event I was part of last year was great value too.

    Jamil, Anna and Sudha came down after the conference for a Media7 show that screens tonight (ie: 9.30 Wednesday) on TVNZ 7.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    I don't know Graham, the whole issue to me seems to be trying to present any of that sort of thing in a news format. The present state of nations and their people are fit for university courses, hefty books, or a series of documentaries, not a quick telling of daily events on an ad-hoc basis.

    We just don't have much of that. Uni's submitted to the almighty dollar, few people seem to read extensively (even in regards their business interests), and docos have been displaced off TV by sitcoms and survivor.

    It's a specialist job anyway, explaining a culture to outsiders, and it seems the specialists still exist. If they want to get their message out to more people, tell them all about web 2.0 and how many people read wikipedia.


    PS. Africa is also an interesting continent people outside know nothing about, as are the Americas below Texas, and, well, pretty much everywhere else. Full of nice, ordinary people. Shame about all the war and genocide, really.

    Since Nov 2006 • 488 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    how some countries were performing better as democratic states than we might think (who would have thought Indonesia?)

    Well yes and no. I hold Ms. Jones in some esteem, she's one of the few sane foreign voices that both understands this region and nation, and holds some sway (and I'd rather trust her advice on Indonesian terror levels than the rather inane parroting of Australia's often half baked travel warnings that come from Wellington). But the democratic process continually teeters here, under attack and pressure from the massively wealthy (beyond anything found in NZ) power elites and the religious right.

    The army has largely removed itself from politics but left a huge vacuum which the crazies are starting to fill.

    When coupled with a very shaky understanding and implementation of the rule of law and a failure of the elected servants to grasp that they are there to serve the masses, not the reverse, I worry about this nation's future, and by extension SEA of which this is a huge, volatile, part.

    The recent Anti-Porn Bill, hurriedly written, not by lawyers, but by Islamic pressure groups, and quite draconian, is probably the most volatile case in point with various provinces, Sulawesi, Bali, and Papua all talking secession, and others like Yogyakarta threatening civil disobedience, because of what is seen by many as an attempt to push Sharia law through by stealth. It was passed by a majority of the Legislature in hurry before a break so as to placate vocal Muslim groups before the coming election.

    It's provisions for 'community groups' to suppress what they see as porn, which includes what women wear, conversation and much more, with talk of the shutting down of social websites, non-Muslim publishing houses, bookshops, cable TV, clubs, bars as well as what the rest of the world sees as porn is scary stuff and hugely, as you'd imagine, unpopular, with a mass who don't necessarily agree with this.

    It has the potential, and not in the distant future, to pull this place apart.

    It's evidence that Indonesia has not quite 'got' democracy yet.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Rochelle Hume,

    Well, some of us listened.

    Thanks for the great report of that event Graham. At least the internet has increased our access to the small amounts of good reporting that exist.

    Warkworth • Since Sep 2007 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Simon, that is a rather worrying comment - how is it playing out in Bali so far?

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 897 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Ben, Bali is rather (but not totally) unique outside Java in that it has an economy that would be be ale to largely stand on it's own (and there is much grumbling that the funds it does earn tend to be stripped by central government rather than re-invested, but that's not new) if it were to secede. But Timor Leste and Aceh are fairly firm evidence that Jakarta would never accept even limited autonomy without a fight.

    Instead, now, Made Pastika, the newly elected governor who is hugely popular, has told Jakarta that the law will not be enforced here and the same is coming from elsewhere in the archipelago. And since his last job was Indonesia's top cop, he may have some sway at that level.

    But the biggest challenge to the law comes from the a series of cases about to go to the Constitutional Court as the law, as written, is a pretty clear breach of several parts of the 1945 Constitution. That it even made it onto the floor of the legislature, let alone through it, shows a fairly strong disconnect and disregard between that body and the law under which it exists.

    One spends a lot of time in Indonesia scratching ones head at it all. It's an oddly dysfunctional parallel universe. And a lot of Indonesians would agree.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Now...I hit preview then and it posted...odd

    that would be able to largely stand on it's own

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • TroyHoward,

    re Flat Earth News... Paperback Edition out 5th Feb 2009. Maybe I could hit up the office to spin you some copies as prizes... probably get in trouble for that.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    The present state of nations and their people are fit for university courses, hefty books, or a series of documentaries, not a quick telling of daily events on an ad-hoc basis.

    So when catastrophe comes, it comes as a surprise. How many were baffled by the Bali bombings because they thought that radical Islam was an Arab problem?

    What we are missing from our mainstream media is the informed commentator, who can talk about global trends in a thousand words or less. There is no shortage of people who could do the job, but the media owners are more interested in pandering to target demographics. So the op-ed sections are filled by opinionated idots and the television documentary has been replaced by the Reality show.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    So when catastrophe comes, it comes as a surprise. How many were baffled by the Bali bombings because they thought that radical Islam was an Arab problem?

    Bali came as a suprise to many, including those quite close to it and the Indonesian government and agencies, who chose to ignore the few warnings that they did get, a month or two out. Sidney Jones in 2002.

    Its worth noting that radical Islam has long had a toe-hold in the Philippines, and the flavour in many SEA nations is quite different to that found in the ME. In Indonesia you need to mix in a post colonial resentment and a more contemporary resentment of bule (literally: albino, loosely westerners) tourist bars with signs saying "No locals" in an area in Kuta which Australian tourists had / have turned into one of the hellholes of Asia. There is also a divide between Bali and Java that's hard to overstate (the Javanese talk derisively of Balinese as hicks, and the Balinese, quite unfairly, blame Javanese for all crime on the island).

    But unlike many middle eastern nations I don't think there was a big SEA flow to either the Mujahadeen or Al Qaeda, although I may be wrong on that. The ties between JI and AQ are at best tenuous. This are distant events to most Indonesians.

    This is a fabulous book which straddles the pre and post 10/2002 blasts. It's both irreverent and terrifying, and three years after it's publication still pretty much bang on.

    But hell, 5 years after..try and get a flight in and out of here to Europe or Australia or rent a villa. This place is booming in a rather more positive way now.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

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