Thanks to Friskodude for reminding me that I’d forgotten to remember to bring you this story.
The Ampera Bridge in Palembang, South Sumatra is in danger of collapse. Nothing new in that, I hear you cry. After all, bridges collapse with seeming regularity worldwide. The causes range from a heavier than anticipated traffic load, a flooded river below or, as might be expected here, the use of shoddy materials in place of those in the winning bid document so that contractors and bureaucrats alike can have a slice of the financial pie.
Ampera Bridge has been weakened for a different reason however.
Azmi Lakoni, head of the local highway and bridge department, said: “The office has not yet done thorough tests on the slant of the bridge. But we are concerned that one of its main support piers has been weakened by urine, as it is a popular spot for locals to relieve themselves.”
Whilst I’m on this urinary track, I must mention that I’ve been invited to the launch of a National Movement for the Socialisation of Standard Public Toilets in Indonesia. Titter ye not.
A few weeks back, on our Jakarta-specific blog Jalan-Jalan Jakarta, I launched a Good Loo Guide. Of course, there aren’t any available for public use unless you count those in shopping malls and five-star hotels. As with everything here, progress is slow and has, in fact, been exacerbated by the loss of the J-J Jkt. Database. (We hope to have it back up this weekend.)
Anyway, to cut a long story short, the conference is at Hotel Aston (Cendrawasih Room), Jl. Senen Raya on Tuesday 21st December from 8.00 – 15.30, snacks and lunch provided. I may go, but as my Xmas holiday will have started I may not.
Other people who are pissed off this week include the participants in the Street Art Festival who were cleared out of Sumenep Park in Menteng on Saturday night.
Led by the municipality’s Public Order Office Head, Harianto Baijuri, and backed by the police, two trucks loaded with public order officers forced the artists to move out of the park, pulled down their banners and whitened out their wall murals, including a painting of murdered human rights activist Munir.
Accusing the artists – some of whom have artistic tattoos and body piercings – of being “thugs”, the officers assaulted two of them and, in a move clearly seen by eyewitnesses, gave money to a group of unidentified men who forced the artists to move on at about 10 p.m.
“There is no place for arts in Jakarta. This is the metropolis,” Harianto scolded the artists.
“They accused us of being thugs, yet the officers themselves, including the Public Order Office chief, Harianto Baijuri, were drunk when they arrived at the scene,” said Amir, an artist from the Nurani Senja group.
(Adapted from Jakarta Post articles not online.)
So what is going on? Is it big business not liking anti-globalisation protesters as some suggested, or is it connected to the malevolent forces behind Munir’s assassination? This overkill certainly smacks of a fascistic tendency, the jackboot approach with its tendency to quash any form of dissent.
Coincidentally (?), Menteng is the home of many of Indonesia’s elite, including the unlamented President Suharto. He is in the news again this week, or rather his daughter Tutut is, for receiving a 16 million pound bribe from Alvis, the UK company who sold Indonesia the tanks that have been very useful in operations against the rebels in Aceh. This is today’s lead story in the Jakarta Post which has taken it from the Guardian.
May we continue to live in interesting times.
On second thoughts ……