Indonesia Anonymus

We are a group of Indonesians, ranting about our beloved country. This blog is a result of many people grumbling about many things in many ways.
Feedback: indonesia.anonymus at gmail dot com


Anonymus is the Latin word for anonymous, the correct English spelling. The Latin spelling, however, is traditionally used by scholars in the humanities to refer to an ancient writer whose name is not known, or to a manuscript of their work. Read more at Wikipedia.

Our blog in Bahasa Indonesia (but rarely updated) can be found here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Finders Keepers

One colleague lost her wallet. What a bummer.
Lady-readers surely are familiar with how it could happen: Went to a public toilet to powder one's nose, the cellphone in the handbag rang. Opened the handbag, cellphone was under the wallet. Tookout the wallet, put it by the sink, answered the call. Busy talking, left the toilet without the wallet.

Our colleague did not realize she lost it until she was back home. Thinking that her wallet was now history, she then called up her banks to cancel all her ATM cards and credit cards. She also had to look forward to having her citizen ID card and driver's license reissued. If you are Indonesians, you know how 'fun' that can be.

The next day, she took a day off work, and did it. (Yes folks, you have to take a day off to do that).

But then, after all that, guess what:
just two days later, someone came to the office, with her wallet.

Everything is there: All the money, the cards. Nothing is missing.

The person was a cleaning lady at the shopping mall where our colleague lost her wallet. She said a mall-visitor found it, and gave it to her. One day when she was off-duty, she followed the address in our colleague's namecard and went to our office.

She was totally honest with her intention: "Rather than take the money in the wallet and benefit from someone's misfortune, I'd prefer to return the wallet and expect some rewards.." She said. This is not the first time she did it, she added. Our colleague rewarded her handsomely.

So why bother blogging about this?

Well, we were intrigued by what our colleague said after she got her wallet back:

"Ah, " she said, "If only I had faith that someone would return my wallet, I wouldn't have to take a day off and queue all morning just to get my driver's license reissued...".

Ah, yes of course. Not only that, now she has to wait until her new ATM cards and credit cards arrive, because she had cancelled them all.

Ah, if only she had a little faith.

But should we? After all, we live in Jakarta, and surely the lady who returned the wallet is a rare breed. Or not?

Time for yet another silly experiment:

We prepared 10 wallets. Filled it with money and we would leave it at public places around town. Cafes, restaurants, shopping malls.
We will then see, how many will find their way back to us.

Here is how it is done:
We asked our office assistant to buy 10 cheap wallets. (Decent-looking though. The fake leather type). In each of them we put Rp.100.000 in small notes (just so they look a bit bulky). To make them more genuine, our assistant cut up some credit card pictures from brochures we always get in our mail, and laminated them. At a glance, they did look real.
As a final touch: to help the finders to find us, we put a name card and we wrote at the back (in Bahasa Indonesia of course):
"If you found this wallet, please call xxxxxxx or kindly return it to the address in the namecard. Reward will be given".

Last weekend we separately went around town with our family and left the wallets at the spots of our choice.
It was fun and not always easy. There were occasions where the waiters/waitresses of restaurants and cafes noticed the left-wallets right away and returned them to us on the spot. Or one little girl at a food court who screamed: "Maaaaaaaaaaaaam, you leeeeft your waaaaaaaaaalleeeeeeeeeeet..... !!!"

That's just sweet. It's one of those rare days when you feel that Jakartans are sweet people and Jakarta is a great place to live.

(For the sake of the experiment, however, those do not count. So we went on to find some other places to leave the wallets.)

And the result?

Don't know yet. We just did it last weekend. Kindly comeback next week, hopefully we have something to tell.

Meanwhile, if you happened to find a wallet, it won't hurt to return it to the rightful owner. If it was one of ours, then you help to improve our statistics.
If it wasn't, then even better: you have done someone a really great favor.

That will make you one of the sweet people who make the city a great place to live.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

127 Hatemails

We just got back from Yogya when our secretary reported to us: the Indonesia Anonymus email address was flooded with hatemail.
We know this would happen eventually. Part of the risk of blogging, really. So we are fine with it. But not our secretary, who had to clear the mailbox without accidently deleting the legitimate emails we receive from you, our beloved readers.

How could this happen, one colleague wonders. We use gmail and gmail blocks spam really well. How did this junks got through?

Apparently the answer is simple: he/she/they sent the emails manually. Yes folks. One by one, using various free-email addresses. One hundred twenty seven emails.
The subject is gibberish (but never the same), the content is also of the gibberish variation followed by some 'overly-sweet' message.
Oh, how flattering.

This shows that someone with determination, incredible patience, hardwork, and some degree of lunacy can always beat any spam-blocking technology known to man.

So what was the message? Well, here it is. All translated (roughly though, we are not a pro translator), for your entertainment. We also give some response here and there, just in case the sender(s) of the emails is(are) reading this too.

"Hey. You cowards.
Why are you defending the P magazine? (naming one controversial magazine, you know what). And why being such a coward using anonymous name?"

Well, well, well. So this is about one blog we wrote a while back. This one. We suggest you (our beloved reader) to read it first if you haven't read it yet.

"And why did you write your blog in english? So arrogant. You are Indonesians. Write in Bahasa Indonesia. Be patriotic. And why did you insult *** in your blog? (naming one organization frequently described as militant/hardliners). I am not a member of ***, but I will not let you ridicule them."

You are not a member? Really? Well, maybe you should sign up. You certainly have what it takes.

We write in english because this is the internet. The blog can be opened by anybody, in any part of the world. We just thought it would be nice if anybody who open our blog can read it and understand it. After all, that's the main reason why one blogs, no? To be read?

"All we are doing is defending our country from bad influence coming from America. P magazine is pornographic, no matter how they disguise it. And if the government will not do anything to stop it, we will, in any way possible.
Why are you defending the magazine? Does it mean you are also against the anti-pornography legislation? Do you want to see our younger generations become immoral?"

Right. Who are 'we' in this case? Didn't you say you are not one of them?
But anyway. About the magazine: We never buy the magazine.
We don't support it. We support the rule of law. This is what we think: If the magazine breaks the law, bring it to court. Prosecute. But if not, leave it alone.

Those who break the law should be prosecuted, and those who obey the law should be protected. It's that simple.

That brings us to the anti-pornography law. Are we against it? We never said that in our blog. But this is what we think: Just because we have some law passed doesn't mean our problems will be solved magically. Want example? Look at Indonesia's drug abuse problem. We have all the law we need.
Tough one too: Illicit drug trafficking is punishable by death.
Does it mean our drug-abuse problem is decreasing?
No. It continuously goes UP [1]. What does that tell you?

"You are useless. We at least fight for what we believe. We go to the street. We have demonstrations. We pressure the government to pass the law because we believe the law is good for the country."

Right. Good for you. Now think about this: while you were out there, on the street, protesting, demonstrating, etc. Do you know what your kids are doing at home?
Are you sure they are not logging into the internet and downloading the Paris Hilton video?
We do what we can: we have our career, we pay our taxes, and we do our best to educate our children. We teach them to respect different opinions, different cultures, different values. Underline the word 'respect'. We cannot force other people to accept our values, or vice versa. But we can learn to respect one another.

"You should apologize for what you wrote on your blog. Defending the P magazine and ridiculing *** is not acceptable. We demand you to write an apology on your blog, and delete the posting. Do you think by being anonymous we cannot find you?"
... and the mail went on about some scary stuff they will do to us if (or when) they find us. Couldn't really translate them.

Apologize? For what? We did not do anything wrong.
You are going to harm us?
Well, this is what we've got to say: bring it on.

In closing, the email wrote:
May you burn in hell.

Well, well, well. We think hatemail senders will go to hell too, you know.
So if you happened to be there before us, do us a favor: don't wait up.

(we don't think you'll have much of a posthumous gloating either...)

Note to our readers:
We refuse to write the name of the magazine nor the name of the militant organization for one simple reason: writing them too often will make our blog popped out more frequently when people 'google' those keywords. We don't need that, do we?

[1] Sinar Harapan - Pengguna Narkoba Meningkat

Monday, June 12, 2006

Don't know much about building a house either

We are back from Yogya for the moment. Yes, we are sure you have heard it all, the earthquake, the number of people killed, the sufferings. No need to re-tell.
Despite all that, however, there are people who although their houses were destroyed, still have their jobs, have some money set aside for rainy days (such as this), and are ready to rebuild.
The sooner they can rebuild their houses, they say, the sooner they can have their normal life back. So they are eager.

But there is one fear: What if the earthquake strikes again?

One suggested to build an earthquake-proof house. Great. But how? They looked at each other, looked at us, and interestingly enough, nobody knows how.
Not even one local builder that we talked to.
Sure, they can always suggest to use stronger concrete, stronger cement, bla bla bla. But is that a proven method? Nobody knows. It is also expensive and so our question remained unanswered:

how do you build a low-cost earthquake-proof house?

With that question unanswered, some suggested to simply build a temporary house. Just to have a roof over their heads, as cheap as possible, so they will have some money left for (God forbid) another disaster.
We don't like this solution. Why? Because based on experience, what they call 'temporary' will eventually become 'permanently temporary'. People will soon forget that the structure was not meant to be permanent, and they will extend it, or build upon it as the need arises. That is not very safe. What if you have another earthquake then?

So we are back to our question:
how do you build a low-cost earthquake-proof house?

Surely we have the technology. Surely we have the experts. Surely we have the skills to build it.
So if there is anything missing, we think this is it: Our ability to pass this information, this know-how, to the folks who need it.

Call us stupid or ignorant, but we don't see what's so difficult about passing such information. All we need is some good samaritans - preferably civil engineers - who can come up with the cheapest way to build an earthquake-proof house, write it up in a document, make it as applicable as possible and as simple as possible so that local builders with STM diploma (technical school degree, equal to high school diploma) can understand, and then post the document on the internet.

After that, just leave it to Yogya bloggers to spread it around.

In the field of IT we all enjoy open-source software, where software is given away for free. Why can't we do the same for this?
Yes, of course people will have their own requirements on building their houses, hence different designs are required. But just like open-source software, we can always give the main information and the users can then tweak the design to suit their needs.

Imagine how many lives we can save.