Thursday, January 31, 2008

The contradiction that is Indonesia

Indonesia is considered to be a developing country and looking at the statistics and lives of a majority of the population, this seems bang on. A huge percentage are uneducated, a striking 50%, over 100 million people, live under the poverty line of US$2 per day and 70% of those employed work in the informal sector where they are not protected by labour laws.
Many in this 70% earn strikingly little and work very hard (more about that later in another post about a sweatshop near our Kos, student boarding house).
The contradiction is that a tiny minority are wealthy beyond anything we in New Zealand can fathom. Our richest man, Stephen Tindall would barely feature in their company. One rich son I have been told of owns two of the newest Bugatti cars each worth more than US$1 million. Neither of which he drives because they are one seaters and everyone here has a driver to negotiated the crazy traffic. One of these cars he has never actually sat in but says his friends think it looks good in the garage.
There are shopping malls here which beat the best NZ has to offer hands down. There you can buy the latest Gucci or Prada and a Starbucks Coffee costs exactly what it does in NZ. And I'm ot talking one or two either. What makes it even stranger is that the shacks and mansions, Bugattis and hand drawn carts are right next to each other and use the same pot-holed roads. But then that is the legacy of the developing world when capitalism, and in Indonesia's case, corruption, gets hold.
And yet they are all, except the super rich, some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.
Go figure.


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