Archive | October 2008

Your Dollar Is A Tight Collar

Many Jakartans invest their money in foreign exchange, keeping up with the conversion rates and economy news that might affect one sort of currency compared to another. There are stories where forex investors made it big – the story of the Indonesian who became a billionaire because of investing in the Iraqi dinar pre-invasion – but many times, there are so many factors that affect the value of a currency that it can’t be measured. Hence, investing in forex is often like gambling – you know what the safe bets are, but you might get a bigger windfall if you invest in the more exotic bets. Even more comparisons to gambling arise when results of a day’s work are almost the same, whether you did painstaking research or just threw some money in and sat back while the market rolls.

These guys are no doubt making good money with the US dollar rising and rising compared to the rupiah – at our expense – while the economy slows due to various businesses tying themselves up to the US dollar value, which is surprisingly still considered a stable standard (which it isn’t anymore). Businesses the country over are expecting lower sales of their products, i.e. electronics which are usually based on the market’s US dollar value. In the meantime, it is becoming more expensive to export products overseas, as rates for shipping, handling and customs are pegged to the US dollar as well.

The current scarcity of the US dollar – and thus partly the reason for its rising price – is also indirectly caused by the US economic recession; where individuals and companies are scrambling to get any dollar they can get to revive the economy. It’s strange when the people in the US financial institutions screw up, the rest of the world ultimately winds up paying the price. The perceived stability of the US dollar – and the seemingly endless supply of it – was a big lie, proven by the fact that the US banks seemed to lose billions of dollars, just like that. So now they want their real dollars back.

So instead of us strangling ourselves worrying about somebody else’s currency, why don’t we just worry about our own Rupiah? Here are simple things you can do:

  • always buy domestic products. Your money spent should go back to Indonesians, not some overseas investor
  • stop forex trading – it just makes matters worse. Start investing in local stock or a local company. Yep, you heard me.
  • try to avoid buying stuff that is pegged to the US dollar. I know that sometimes it can’t be avoided, but try to limit it all the same. The stores/companies that put dollar prices on their products transfer the risk of exchange rate differences to the customer.
  • take a holiday – in Indonesia. Spend your well-earned Rupiah on local hotels, restaurants and so on. Don’t spend all your money overseas unless you don’t have a choice.
  • Save money. If you save money in the bank, the banks stay healthy and keep the Rupiah flowing properly.

Saving the country means you have to do something as well, and these are a few things that are very simple and can be done by anybody. Let’s forget about the politicians battling it out for votes and make the change ourselves

Sounds Like A Good Idea… Right Now

A Jakarta business man is planning to make the one-time home of Barack Obama during his childhood stay in Jakarta, into some sort of cafe/museum. Here’s a thought – what if Obama does not win the presidential election, would people remember his name in 2 or 3 years’ time?When people don’t know who Barack Obama is anymore, would people still come to the cafe/museum?

The Day Indonesia Changed

Earlier today, the Parliement finally passed the controversial and much-hyped Antipornography Bill. Apparently the government thinks that this is an important step compared to fixing the economy or improving education.

Today our country changed – for the worse. And this is just the first step.

For those already playing with thoughts of going off to another, perhaps more reasonable country, let me urge you this – we must not let them win. We must fight, not with weapons or armies, but words, thoughts, knowledge, and communities. The fight for our nation is here.

This Is New… Spam About Jakarta

A comment recently showed up on this blog, in the midst of the ‘vital organ enlargement’ and computer gibberish:

Terrorism is a threat every where. But it’s not the answer.It is advisable to reconsider need to travel Indonesia.Specially Jakarta due to very high risk of terrorist attacks or chances of human kidnapping.While Traveling along Tebet Timur Dalam district is immune for harboring terrorists. One may be caught right in the middle of such activity.Having considered these issues and just the same you decide to try your luck and put yourself in jeopardy. You must exercise extreme caution. There have been recent arrests of high level terrorist operatives throughout Indonesia.It is evident,terrorism is growing to high extreme level in Jakarta and moving slowly but artfully gaining strategy in the north European hemisphere.Terrorist attacks could take place at anytimeTravelers should be particular vigilant during holiday periods of Christmas and Easter time.Indonesian Authorities warned that terrorists may kidnap foreigners. Jakarta is indicated as an area for terrorists hide-out.One particular spot is Tebet Timur Dalam (12820)This place is the sanctuary for the schooling of young innocent Indonesian girls trained to believe in the Jihad.

Could this be true? That an only-girls school teaching ‘Jihad’ in the Tebet Timur Dalam area be a hotbed for terrorist activities in Jakarta and abroad? That it is a prone place for foreigners to get kidnapped? I won’t even talk about the bad grammar. And to think this comment was posted on this post – can’t see the colleration.I only know that Tebet Timur Dalam is a nice neighborhood, full of trees and houses, and locked in by 24-hour traffic jams. No foreigner in the right mind would go there anyway…



This bus certainly has its sights up high – wanting to be the Primadonna of Jakarta roads, complete with a faux ‘Termo King’ (without the H) aircon installation on the top. It’s not what you actually have, but how you perceive yourself that is more important, I guess. We can always dream…

The Naughty Palace


Submitted by Java Jive, thanks a lot!

Belated Post: Why This Darn Blog Is Still Around After 4 Years

So the friends at @jtug urged me to write about why blogging is important Рto me, to anyone else for that matter, who knows.

I started this blog on the first day of my ‘new’ life – new job, recently single, totally new outlook in life, and ready to take on the various rituals that lead to maturity. Don’t know if I have reached maturity yet, but it sure has been a hell of a ride for the past 4 years.
The title of the blog was once appropriately named ‘A New Leaf’, but in the process it changed to ‘Positivity’ to get rid of my depressive vibes. From this fact alone, you can see that blogging for me is a form of therapy – what I write is something in my mind at that moment (and in the mood of writing it), and sharing it with everybody without being too detailed on personal issues. The focus was to express the ambient feelings in my head and heart without burdening everybody with depressive or boring details on what I had for lunch or something.
Writing regularly has surely had its share of changes to my life – because it is a good moment to reflect. Not just what I have done (or not done), but what apparently is OK for public domain to devour and what isn’t. Ultimately, it’s what you don’t say that says a lot about yourself also.
During my writing I found that I write much better in English – not gloating, just a fact – so the dominant language remained that. And through the blog, I have found many friends, and rediscovered old friends also… and I have also found my passion for writing! Some people talk about themselves, some people talk about others, some people talk about their hobbies… but I talk about whatever comes to mind – which apparently is more to social commentary, and how we can make the world a better place. I’m not saying I know better, but I do like to share my thoughts and see how the world sees it.
Plis Deh Jakarta! is a collaborative blog with a friend to look at Jakarta’s lighter side, while also getting the social commentaries into readers in a way that isn’t force-fed (like the government-sponsored TV ads) or pretentious (like the tobacco-supported PSAs); but just by encouraging people to look at something from a different perspective. This is where I write (or picture blog) more often lately – my therapy writing days are [almost] over.
But I will stay blogging, as it is the easiest way for me to share thoughts in the long form (and not bore people at the dinner table), in conjunction with sporadic use of Twitter and Plurk (and Facebook, of course). Who cares if blogging is so 2004.

Abracadabra, You’re Cleared To Go In

Have you ever gone into a mall or office building, through the metal detector? How many times have they checked you thoroughly, and how many times have they just waved you through despite the noises made by the metal detector?I was escorting a foreigner the other day and when we entered the mall, we met the now-too-familiar metal detector, with a guard standing next to it, complete with a table for checking bags and a handheld metal detector. The female guard just smiled and waved us through, didn’t ask us to empty our pockets to the tray provided, and we passed the metal detector causing it to make the annoying buzzing noise. The guard just kept smiling. The foreigner pointed to the guard and said “That person is no use”. Ha!Only when we enter upper-class hotels, we get the full security check treatment. They even ask you to open the car bonnet (other than the baggage or the rear passenger door, which is standard for entering office buildings and malls) to check. The only instance that they don’t check the baggage compartment is when it can’t be opened from inside by the driver (which is still the case with certain older cars). Even funnier is when the guards are faced with a VW Beetle (not the new VW Beetle), which doesn’t have passenger doors, and the engine is in the rear. In the one time I was in a VW Beetle at a mall’s security checkpoint, the guard just mindlessly opened the left passenger door and looked right and left as though as there was any place to hide anything, let alone a bomb – he forgot about the baggage compartment altogether.Then there was the office building security guard who asked for my ID to enter the building (also standard practice), and wanted to check my bag. I put the bag on the table and said ‘go ahead and open it’. He snapped back ‘are you ordering me to open your bag???’ Well, who asked first?I also don’t get the guards armed only with the handheld metal detectors. Those things are supposed to detect metal, right? So they check everyone with a bag and do the usual ritual of passing the handheld around the bag. What do you get? 90% of the time, a beep indicating that the bag has some sort of metal content inside it. Then after that what happens? They let us through! Compare this to the ultimately thorough security guards at any airport – they would not let you through until they are satisfied the handheld metal detector does not make a noise. Maybe, just maybe, the handhelds used at malls and office buildings in Jakarta have a different use – the beeps confirm that there are no weapons of any sort in the bag. Wow, I didn’t know Indonesian technology was that advanced.So these guys guard the doors – but do they actually perform security tasks? We hear many cases of pickpocketing and other theivery in malls, with the security too inept to do anything other than barring people from taking photographs of the mall and pointing out where the toilets are.They say the guards and their metal detectors are more of a detterent for any criminal intent – it obviously works so far. And that handheld metal detector is the modern-day magic wand, sorting out the malicious and the virtuous with one wave. Yeahhh…

Who Needs Trucks? (Reprise)


This balancing act belongs in the circus…