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.
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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.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Patent this !

Read this: US government decided to grant 150 yoga-related copyrights, 134 patents on yoga accessories and 2,315 yoga trademarks [1].

"Under the new patent, those teaching yoga will have to pay a royalty to an American patent holder if he or she imparts the knowledge [2]."

The Indians are furious.
"Yoga has its roots in India. How can anyone else think of patenting it?" asked a surprised Deepika Jindal, wife of steel baron Ratan Jindal and an ardent yoga enthusiast. [3]

Suketu Mehta called this intellectual piracy [1].

(Hmm. Apparently piracy works both ways. After all, we pirate their music, movies and software... But hey, at least for us we never consider it legal in the first place!)

In response, "The Indian government had set up a task force to create a database of yoga techniques in order to stop others from patenting the centuries-old knowledge. The task force has begun cataloging yoga in the form of traditional knowledge, including ayurvedic remedies and hundreds of yoga poses, to protect them from being pirated and copyrighted." [2].

And now the usual question:

What about Indonesia? Are we doing anything to protect what's ours?
Or are we going to pay royalty everytime we use our batik pattern, or teach pencak-silat moves, or build a rumah gadang?

Maybe we ought to listen to Deepika Jindal:
"That's the thing with us. We don't take our possessions seriously until someone else tries to grab it from us." [3].

[1] NYTimes - A Big Strech
[2] Khaleej Times - India Strikes Angry Pose
[3] Yahoo India - Experts, enthusiasts oppose patent for yoga

Monday, May 07, 2007

What to do with 300 billion dollars

A country, blessed with oil-rich soil, makes a lot of money due to the sky-rocketing oil price. A lot as in 300 billion dollars (and counting). What do they do with this money?They invest it. Yes, with the purpose to provide for the future generations. So far the investment makes a return of 7.9% a year. (last time we checked, if you open a time deposit at Indonesia's giant Bank Mandiri, you get 7%). At the rate it is going, in a decade it will translate into $180,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.

What country? Norway.

The story doesn't end there: In order not to overheat the country's economy, they have to invest this large sum of money elsewhere, and so they go: investing the money all over the world. Not just investing for highest return, but investing with a conscience.
They won't invest in companies with :
- serious or systematic humar rights violations
- serious violations of individual rights in war and conflict
- severe environmental damage
- gross corruption

And so they did:
The country sold off more than $400 million Wal-Mart shares because "the retailer was guilty of tolerating child-labor violations by its suppliers in the developing world and obstructing (labour) unions at home".

Other companies on their 'no' list are Singapore Technologies Engineering (for producing anti-personnel land mines), Lockheed Martin (for producing cluster weapons), Boeing (for producing nuclear weapons), and more.

And guess what:
One company familiar to us is on the list: Freeport McM0ran: Why ? Because Norway accuses it of causing 'severe environmental damage at its copper and gold mine in Indonesia'.

How about that. The Norwegians care.
What about us Indonesians? Do we care?
Or are we going to simply dismiss it by saying: The Norwegians have 300 billion dollars. ... We don't."

Source: International Herald Tribune, front page, May 3rd 2007