Pitiful Tifatul Unplugs Us All Again

By Hector

The Diary spent last Friday night and much of last Saturday unplugged. The internet was inaccessible, as well as inexplicable when your high-priced provider only provides online support in business hours. It was all eventually sorted out – or it sorted itself out – but this process took place without benefit of explanation.

But we blame Tifatul Sembiring, the minister for miscommunications and leading member of a political party that wants to jilbab the lot of us, whether we like it or not. The minister has been fulminating about the un-Islamic nature of porn on the web – and we agree that it is morally unsound and all sorts of things; plus it gums up Indonesia’s woefully undersized web for the rest of us, given the wall-to-wall virtual titillation that we are warned is going on – and has vowed to pull the plug on it.

Unfortunately, as columnist Vyt Karazija points out on the Perspective page today, if you want to target specific websites to unplug you have to know what you’re doing. Tifatul clearly doesn’t, though this is not a surprise. However, the skill of being a minister and of implementing policy (even policy made on the run, which is the general way of affairs here) lies in finding the means to achieve the objective.

Sending out a lot of dunderheads to unplug everything, willy-nilly, lest somewhere out there someone may be obtaining an un-Islamic jolly on the web, is not the way to do it.

Web-based pornography may be distasteful and offensive to many people. It is not the sort of thing with which those among us who are religiously inclined should even contemplate dallying; or anyone with a mind, for that matter. But these are personal choices; and that goes to the very heart of a free and democratic society. The government of which Tifatul Sembiring is a part is committed – it says – to advancing freedom and democracy.

Cutting off a lot of crass whackos from their fun time should not be done at the expense of internet access for people who have other reasons for being on line, or for trying to be.
So Excited

The funsters at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival keep giving us all a laugh. Last Friday they posted on their Facebook this engaging little come-on: “We have an excited announcement coming up very soon! Stay tuned!!”

It must have been the three-year Citibank naming rights sponsor agreement that was announced shortly thereafter. There’s a report on it in this edition of The Bali Times. It was certainly good news for the festival, which has been trying to find a major commercial (as in, lotsa dosh) sponsor for a while.

Perhaps the announcement was excited. But it’s more likely the post was worded as it was as the result of illiteracy on Wudbee Hill. The multiple exclamation marks were a dead giveaway.

Get Along

Australia votes this Saturday (August 21) and all good Aussies, everywhere, are waking from their customary slumber to trot along their local voting place to do the right thing: That’s as in vote, or be fined for not doing so.

The Diary, having been one of the flock since 1972 (when separate citizenship of the Great South Land was acquired) and still registered to vote, has already done its duty. But lest there are any Australians about, resident here, who are eligible to tick the boxes but have not yet done so, we remind readers that the Australian Consulate General is a postal voting place. They’ll even be open on Saturday to permit this exercise in democracy to have its fullest expression.

The election is about all sorts of serious things but, for those who might have difficulty choosing between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, some useful guidance emerged in the final stages of campaigning. A Sydney radio station quizzed both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on their musical tastes.

Gillard opted for Bruce Springsteen and Cold Chisel. Abbott, plainly an old-style conservative to his bootstraps (or possibly his Speedos) said he was a man of his generation and liked The Beach Boys, The Big O, Elvis and The Beatles. Gosh, he’s older than his years (he’ll be 53 in November). But he’d love Bali’s wandering minstrels.

The radio station told him: “Even Obama is listening to Jay-Z.” Abbott replied: “Yeah, well, I probably wouldn’t even know who that guy is.” We hope he meant Jay-Z.

Disclosure: The Diary would vote for Bruce Springsteen and Cold Chisel if they were on the ballot paper.

Bon Chance

It’s not every day you run into a Canadian consul in these parts, since a treaty exists under which the Australians look after straying lumberjacks in this neck of the woods while the Canadians, ever the drawer of the short straw, get to pick up the debris of the Bintang singlet brigade in other remote parts of the globe.

So it was nice to meet Dana Lajoie, second secretary and vice consul at Canada’s Jakarta legation, who was in town on the sort of business visiting consuls do from time to time and popped up at the little soiree Australia’s departing consul-general, Lex Bartlem, put on last Tuesday week.

She was able to give The Diary cheery news about the Canadian woman badly injured here in a motorbike accident a little while ago, an event that among things brought The Bali Times Virtual Blood Bank into play. She’s back home and on the mend, we’re told.

The Bali Times Virtual Blood Bank is a register of members’ blood types for matching with emergency requirements. It coordinates with the Red Cross Blood Bank at Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar. If you’d like to sign up, there’s a form on Pg 4.

Faux Pas

Lajoie was here with her husband Gilles. The Diary, being an inattentive oaf, immediately thought: Ah, Quebecois. Alas, the ultimate Canadian joke had been self-played. Gilles is from New Brunswick. It is Canada’s only officially bilingual province and it’s where they actually do speak French.

Dana is from Saskatchewan, a different place altogether, famous in The Diary’s mind for two things: First, for being the destination of choice of Sitting Bull who, having assisted in the most significant US Army snafu of the Indian wars (the annihilation of the terminally incautious George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry at the Little Big Horn in 1876) crossed the border and told the Mounties that since his Latoka Sioux cousins at Woods Mountain were subjects of HM Queen Victoria, he was too. And second, for being right next door to Alberta, home of the world’s best fiddle music and the fabulous singer kd lang.

In Quebec they still speak the sort of colonial pidgin thrown by the citoyens at poor General Wolfe who, being a bewigged and powdered English gentleman, was mortally offended by them on the Heights of Abraham outside Quebec City in 1759 as he wrested – posthumously as it turned out – what would become the Dominion of Canada from the failing grip of the Versailles mob to add to King George II’s imperial domains.

Hype Alert

It was nice the other day to pick up Sophie Digby’s fun little August-datelined MinYak – that’s the Yak magazine’s monthly get-it-on they pop into people’s inboxes to keep readers’ interest up between quarterly editions of the actual mag – and see Craig Seaward, boss of the oh-so-W property said to be soon coming your way if you’re at Seminyak and Susi Johnston hasn’t yet had cause to complain about another out-of-season biblical flood.

The little Yak had a Q&A with him: the usual fluffy stuff you see in the glitter-box media these days. Goodness, the guy’s so hip he must be prosthetic. Still, it’s great that the Zip Generation, who can only manage 20 words at a pop, including adjectival overload, can get a brief on the real meaning of life, even if they’re really only channelling Julia Roberts.

Those interested in reading longer sentences, written with some objective purpose, would have got a fuller (and much earlier) picture of the big W from reading our LIFE section feature on July 21. It was written by our Seminyak correspondent, Novar Caine, and included this memorable bit of what’s-that-you-say from Seaward:   

“We flirt with guests’ senses – sexy with touch of whimsy, seduce through individual attention through emotional connection in unleashing the spirit of fun. We welcome all that is ‘now’ by bringing guests behind invisible velvet ropes into the world of W, from discovery of Balinese customary ceremonies to VIP access to celebrated fashion showcases and music happenings.” Thanks, we’re quite clear on that now.

No, seriously, we like the thought of outré hotels; and the Yak and its little offspring. And Sophie, as we have noted before, is a dear. Oh dear, it sounds as if we’re starting a zoo.

So There

In the letters page last week, feedback contributor S. McLean wrote that she or he – we’re guessing she: we did ask at the strange Yahoo email address from which the missive had issued, but we heard nothing, as you do – was upset that The Diary had seemingly (and apparently unbelievably) set out to discomfit some poor souls hereabouts who were only trying to keep their names in lights.

Stripped of its hyperbole, it asked if we enjoy writing this sort of stuff. Well yes. That’s what diarists do.

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