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.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bruce Jesson journalism award gets facelift

New Zealand's only award for critical journalism is being revamped to link in with a growing movement for more democratic local media. The Bruce Jesson Foundation, set up after the death of journalist-politician Bruce Jesson in 1999, has provided up to $3000 a year since 2004 for “critical, informed, analytical and creative journalism or writing which will contribute to public debate in New Zealand on an important issue or issues”.
A review after its first four years has concluded that the award should continue, with a slight change in the criteria to cover publishing, as well as producing, critical journalism. Foundation chair Professor Jane Kelsey says experience to date shows that the barrier to good journalism is not always in the actual production of the work, but in finding an outlet in our commercialised market that is willing to publish it.
Kelsey says the award is now part of a growing recognition that the commercial imperatives of our largely foreign-owned media, increasingly focused on celebrities and consumerism, need to be balanced by a deliberate community-based effort to provide journalism on public issues – issues that affect us as citizens and workers as well as consumers.
The union representing most journalists, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), is organising a public review of NZ journalism this year, seeking submissions on issues such as media ownership and commercial pressures.
A Movement for Democratic Media is also being formed to bring together journalists and other citizens who want to produce and promote public issue journalism.
"Our award is more important than ever now," Kelsey says. "We hope we can support some of the other initiatives to produce more public issue journalism, and we hope that the growing recognition of this gap in our society will spur more journalists and citizens to apply for our
The award covers living costs and direct costs such as phone calls and travel to enable New Zealanders to investigate and report on issues in depth. Applications for the 2008 award close on 30 June.
Past winners and applications - further information:

  • Chair: Prof Jane Kelsey, 09 373 7599 x 88006 or 021 765 055
  • Senior lecturer Joe Atkinson, 09 373 7599 x 88094
  • Simon Collins, 09 483 5911 or 021 612 423
  • Rebecca Jesson, 09 521 8118 or 0274 714 690
  • A/Prof David Robie (joined 2007), 09 921 9999 x 7834 or 021 112 2079
  • Jon Stephenson (joined 2007), 09 368 4689

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dylan's Jakarta diary - volcanoes and explosive soccer !

Hi guys, The journo gang all went away for the weekend to a beachside town. Offshore is a volcano, Krakatoa, which erupted in 1874, creating a tidal wave that killed people as far as 200km in land and sent ash 2000km away. We created a huge stir when a bus load of bule foreigners turned up and after some hard bargaining and a 2v2 soccer game against some local guys (which me and an Aussie mate from Tassie lost 3-0), we bumped out the volcano on a fleet of 4 speedboats, took a 1.5 hours but was good fun.
Anak Krakatau, son of Krakatoa, is still active and kept sending up huge plumes of ash on our way there.
Next thing I know, we're standing on the beach with the volcano exploding over the top of us and it is raining ash (Aroha Treacher in the pic).
The beach and volcano was ash covered and when you swam the top meter of the water was ash they below that a beautiful blue. Everyone here is a 'tour guide' and that night our guide, whom I became friends with, took us to a friend's restaurant then a friend of his organized accommodation and put on a party for us.
The next day we went snorkeling, which was good but not the best I've done, and managed to get back to Jakarta to catch the second half of the national soccer final - for free as it turned out. A few of us watched the semifinal between a Jakarta team and team from Papua which got violent partly, I think, for political reasons, partly because Jakarta lost.
I have never seen so many riot police in my life and got some good pics. luckily no one was seriously hurt. Don't worry we were safe.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Jakarta diary from Dylan

Salamat Natal dan Tahun Baru
Three NZ graduating young journos are in Jakarta for an international reporting practicum scholarships sponsored by the Asia: NZ Foundation and Pacific Media Centre at AUT. They are Aroha Treacher and Dylan Quinnell (pictured) from AUT's School of Communication Studies and Will Robertson from Massey University. A brief email update from Dylan:
This is an amazing place reminds me a lot of new SA, just chaos everywhere. On the road there appear to be almost no rules, apart form a few traffic lights, you turn when you want or cross main roads and people just slow down to let you do so. motor bikes are buzzing in and out of traffic all over the place, and everyone hoots a lot but not to express anger rather say "hey, buddy just swerving past up you right side".
A lot of stuff is amazingly cheap with taxis costing a few dollars and meals the same. Gotta watch the chilli tho, damn hot and burns going in and out. The people are really friendly when you greet them and the language learning is coming on well. I played some soccer with little kids down one of the tiny alley streets, and got some good pics near where I'm staying with a classmate from NZ in his cousin's house.
They have six full time staff including three maids on at any one time, a driver on call and a security guard. Back yard looks a bit like Africa with barbed wire on the top of a massive concrete wall. They also have a pool, very comfortable but strange getting used to having people doing everything for you, friendly tho.
Today I move into the hotel with my two new room mates and stay for a while till I can find a kos or little apartment where you rent a room off someone for about $150 a month often with breakfast and washing thrown in. Learning the language is going well as the maids are very willing teachers who find my attempts so funny; they thought it was hilarious when I asked one to teach me how she folds the washing so well.

Jakarta scholarships