Friday, June 05, 2009

Firmanzah: Learn young learn fair

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Thu, 06/04/2009 9:58 AM | People

Firmanzah: JP/Matheos V. MessakhJP/Matheos V. Messakh

Economics might seem dry and practical, but Firmanzah, the new dean of the University of Indonesia’s School of Economics, has a lighter side.

“I like to dream and to make my dreams come true,” the 32-year-old said. “That’s the most romantic thing in the world.”

It’s also very strategic, which is fitting for a man with a PhD in management and a 20-year devotion to Sun Tzu.

When Firmanzah, fresh out of high school, left for Jakarta 14 years ago to try his luck, his mother didn’t want her baby to go (he is the eighth of nine children).

“She was crying along the way in the train asking me to stay and do my study in Surabaya instead of moving here,” he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

But he was determined to study management at UI, which he had decided, after consulting some friends, was best for him because “I like to explore people’s behavior but I like to do it with a solid quantitative methodology”.

Just 14 years later, Firmanzah was elected as the dean of the prestigious economics school, which has produced such noted Indonesian economists as Widjojo Nitisastro, Emil Salim and and
Miranda Goeltom.

At 32, Firmanzah is the youngest dean in the university’s history and perhaps even in the history of the nation. But his youth is not his main selling point: He has solid practical experience and a good academic record under his belt.

After graduating in 1998, he entered the workforce, including as a market analyst for an insurance company and assistant lecturer at UI. He also worked for a management consulting firm at his alma mater while pursuing his magister management degree at the school.

This was followed by another magister degree, thanks to a scholarship to the University of Science and Technology of Lille in France where he studied organization and management strategy.

Firmanzah went on to do his doctorate in strategic and international management at the University of Pau and Pays De l’Adour, which he finished in 2005.

“France is where my intellectuality matured. I did a lot of textual dialogues with many philosophers and sociologists,” said Firmanzah, who despite his French education admires German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.

“France is where there is room for as much interpretation as we like but at the same time social order is kept.”

He decided to return to work at UI in 2005, where he held several different positions. In all, he has promoted 10 doctorate students and currently supervises 15 students, and is in the process of getting his professorships from the University of Indonesia and the Paris X University Nanterre. Then his most recent achievement: Being elected as the dean on April 14 this year.

But being the dean is not where it ends – he and others aim to make UI a “world-class university”, for his school to be modern and open, for top Indonesian universities to compete not with each other but with universities elsewhere in the region.

“We have to develop new multidisciplinary areas, open to cooperation with international institutions as well as local and regional institutions.”

It won’t be easy: Lack of government subsidies for higher education is an urgent problem needing a solution that Firmanzah and others believe can be solved through cooperation among universities.
“This is a structural problem for many universities around the country. The revenue from tuition fees will never be enough,” he said.

This means, he said, Indonesian universities are always casting around for money to survive, whereas other universities in the region are focusing on improving themselves.

“The economics school at Melbourne University has a research budget of about $3 billion
a year, while here … we don’t know how much we have because money is scattered across many institutions.”

His other reason for favoring cooperation and a multidisciplinary approach is his belief that economics, as a field of study, cannot stand alone.

“Economics has a strong quantitative methodology but it also has lots of weaknesses so openness to other disciplines is needed.

We are not the last frontier for truth in social science. If we regarded ourselves the only source of truth, we would become fundamentalist scientists.”

The need for dialogue with others is a kind of axiom for Firmanzah, who believes “Today’s leaders should be capable of bridging the gaps between many interests and aspirations because people are getting more and more segmented.” This belief, he admitted, “is perhaps one of the qualities that got me elected”.

Although he said he was just trying his luck when he put himself forward as a candidate, perhaps he was implementing a lesson learned from Sun Tzu, whose works he has been reading since junior high school.

“I have read Sun Tzu maybe a hundred times and I even bought the French version,” he said of the writer who taught him the importance of strategy. “Humanity’s strongest instinct to win battles, which can be applied to any walk of life. Battles are everywhere and what makes the difference between the loser and the winner is their strategy.”

Firmanzah rejects claims he was elected because the university rector’s new regulation on electing deans gave him an easy path. The election followed a two-month rigorous selection process where he competed with his former lecturers and professors.

“I had the highest score throughout several stages of the selection, which was open to the public,”
he said. “The way of being selected by the professors, which we previously used, I don’t think it was democratic either.”

The naming of streets is a difficult matter

The Jakarta Post | Tue, 06/02/2009 11:14 AM | Features
Streets are given names and buildings are assigned numbers so they can be easily located, but what might appear a simple task has long been a major problem in Jakarta.
The lack of a coherent system for naming streets, first noted by academic Boejoeng Saleh in 1953, reflects the unplanned nature of Jakarta’s urban development.
It was not until September 1974, two decades after he raised the issue, that a gubernatorial decree on numbering streets, gardens and public buildings was issued. In 1976 another gubernatorial decree on the matter was issued.
Saleh noted that the only kind of system to be found is the naming and numbering of smaller streets after the main street they connect to. For example, the side streets coming off Kramat are named Kramat 1 to 8.
In Tanjung Priok, one even finds Lorong (path or alley) 1 to Lorong 104. An exception to this is the area near the Halim Perdana Kusuma military airport, where the streets are named after different types of aircraft: Bomber, Dakota, Ilyusin, Mustang and Hercules.
The same name sometimes appears in different places; for instance, there are several occurrences of Jalan Anggrek, Dahlia, Asem and Madrasah.
After Independence, all Dutch names were replaced. Those loaded with political meanings were changed to reflect Indonesian national history. Thus the Orangeboulevard became Jalan Diponegoro, Van Heutszboulevard became Jalan Teuku Umar, and so on.
Numbering houses is yet another matter. In August 1957, the Jakarta government issued a bylaw that stipulated that buildings must be numbered, and that house owners or building occupants were required to put a nameplate on the building.
A gubernatorial degree in 1976 that replaced the 1957 regulation only stipulated an obligation to assign number plates of a similar shape, color and size for every building in the city, but overruled the obligation for building owners or occupants to put their name on the building. The stated reason for this was “to prevent negative impact or things that will harm the owners or occupants”.
The most recent regulation on house numbering – a bylaw issued in 1986 – states that a house’s number plate must be blue, with the number in white. The regulation size for a one-digit street number is 7 x 11 centimeters, for a two-digit number is 7 x 16 centimeters and 7 x 22 centimeters for a three-digit number.
The regulation also says that failure to assign a proper number to a house is a criminal offense, but there is no record of anybody in Jakarta ever being jailed or fined over the matter.
– JP/Matheos V. Messakh

Where the streets have no name

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Tue, 06/02/2009 11:04 AM | Features
Where streets have no name: JP/P.J. LeoJP/P.J. Leo
“Take a right, then look for the small green mosque – there is a big mango tree to the left of the mosque; take the next right after that and count six houses on the left.”
Anyone who has ever had to find an address in Jakarta will be familiar with directions like these, especially when they find themselves lost on strange streets, needing to send out an emergency call to a friend or their destination, or stopping to ask people on the street for help.
Think how awkward it would be if that all-important mango tree had been cut down.
You don’t have to live in Jakarta for long to learn how slow and painful it can be to locate a building just from the street address given. Even people who have lived in Jakarta for years can be frustrated by the confusion that arises from the apparently simple task of finding a particular street address.
But perhaps because each time we are faced with this annoyance we deal with it and move on, we get used to it as part of life in the city and never really complain about it, or give it much thought past the initial frustration.
Even the city authorities have apparently never seriously considered the value of naming streets and numbering houses.
But in practice it is not quite as simple as it might seem – naming city streets and numbering buildings has been a tricky business since the early years of the nation’s independence.
Even though a number of regulations have been issued over the years in a bid to impose order on the city’s streets, these ordinances have rarely been implemented.
“It’s hard to apply these regulations,” says Maulizar, the head of research and development at the city’s legal affairs division. “Almost everybody is an offender, including even me, perhaps. Many people have made their own number plate for their house or even decided their own house number.”
The radical step of renaming streets and assigning new numbers to houses, Maulizar points out, would be met with a loud public outcry, as it would require people to change many of their business and legal documents.
Further confusing the issue is the series of structural changes in local government bodies and agencies, especially the most recent changes that took place at the end of last year and which have led to confusion over just which agencies or bodies are responsible for the issue.
The relevant regulations mention that, under the new structure, an ad hoc body is to be established that will be responsible for the matter, but although committees had been appointed in the past, the ad hoc committee has not yet been reappointed, says Maulizar, adding that no other institution can be really held responsible.
“If necessary, the government should change the regulations on naming streets and numbering houses,” he adds. And what is needed is a decent database.
“If we had a complete database on the names of streets and their classifications, it would become a reference for further development,” Maulizar says. “We possibly do have some documents on the names of streets but they are scattered among different city agencies.”
The most recent regulation on numbering houses was issued in 1986, and the most recent regulation on naming streets was issued in 1999.
The 1986 bylaw stipulates that numbers must be allotted to each plot on the side of the road, with odd numbers on the left side of the road and even numbers on the right. Numbering is to begin from the end of the street closest to the National Monument.
The 1999 gubernatorial decree, which more or less repeated the content of the regulations for a similar decree issued in 1976, stipulates that the naming and renaming of streets is the job of the local provincial or city government. Members of the public can also propose streets be named or renamed.
The decree also states that the local government is responsible for the repair and maintenance of street signs when necessary because of accidental damage, vandalism or normal wear and tear.
However, the practice of naming streets in Jakarta and especially numbering buildings has never really taken these ordinances into account, despite a 1986 bylaw stating that failure to number a house is a criminal offense punishable by three months in jail or a fine of Rp 750,000.
Quite simply, in some places in Jakarta, street names do not exist. Some streets may officially have a name, but it is unknown because there is no sign at the intersection, or because the sign has been overrun by advertising.
Even where there are signs, some serve as little more than decoration, as nobody is able to use the street name for delivering mail, serving notices or simply giving directions.
In the tangled web of Jakarta streets, there are several streets with the same name, or several names for the same street. Houses in the same street may be numbered quite randomly, if only because residents choose their own house number without consulting any authority; in this case, the doubling up of numbers in the same street is unavoidable.
Not surprisingly, this causes headaches for people whose life revolves around finding streets.
“Imagine if you have passed a number in a one-way street and you have to turn back,” says Supriyadi, a post office courier in Central Jakarta.
Iwan Kurniawan, the head of the city planning, development and restoration division, confesses there is no system for naming streets and numbering houses.
“Perhaps because the effect of the street names and house numbers is invisible, it has never become a priority,” said Kurniawan, who nevertheless admits to having had trouble with duplicated house numbers.
It causes a dilemma: Reorganizing street names and building numbers in Jakarta would probably result in nothing less than a riot, but on a day-to-day level, it is a serious source of annoyance.
At the heart of the mess and stress of what should be a simple matter – finding a street address – lie a chaotic spatial development framework and ignorance of local authorities.
And it is, it appears, just part of life in Jakarta. The confusion with Jakarta addresses is the result of the city’s history, says urban sociologist Jo Santoso. It is impossible, he says, to have a single and coherent procedure for naming and numbering streets in such an old city.
“Jakarta has multiple systems for naming and numbering the streets,” he says. “The best thing to do is have a map or rely on postcodes.”

Keliek J. Soegiarto: Believe in doing good things

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Fri, 05/22/2009 11:30 AM | People
JP/Matheos V. MessakhJP/Matheos V. Messakh
Once, Keliek J. Soegiarto promised himself he would never ignore the poor when he became a rich man.

The district governor of Rotary International 3400 Indonesia never became a very rich man, but he does still remember the poor, even until now.
Born third of five children to a poor family in Yogyakarta on June 2, the 57-year-old is no stranger to poverty. His oldest brother died when his mother returned from hospital after giving birth to him, while his younger sister died when he was about a year old.
“I don’t know why they died. I was too young at that time, but I knew my family was very poor,” Keliek told The Jakarta Post.
He recalled that when his family had no money, they would only eat coagulated lumps of rice with salt. If they had a little money, they usually bought tauco – salty yellow bean relish that they used for dip.
“It was way better than salt,” he said.
His father was a gofer at a Dutch-owned company called Java Stall, which later became a government-owned company.
“My father told me that when he got married, he borrowed a pair of shoes from his brother in Yogyakarta and a jacket from his brother in Jakarta. Even for his wedding he had to borrow clothes.”
The family of seven lived in a small garage in a big house in Yogyakarta’s elite neighborhood of Kota Baru. Ironically, the house, he recalled as “a house with many big rooms with only two people living in it” was owned by his uncle, a very successful man working for a Dutch company.
“Any room in the house would have been warm enough for us, but I don’t know why we were treated like that,” he said.
Experience became Keliek’s best teacher.
“I vowed that when I became rich, I wouldn’t be like that,” he said.
They stayed in the garage for a few years, until his father’s friend rented them an abandoned house. But the 6-year-old Keliek still had to live away from his family, moving around from one place to another – even at his father’s office – to ease the family burden, although along the way he suffered much abuse from people who made him work for them.
Keliek returned home when the family was better off and Keliek’s father enjoyed better work.
“My father is an honest and hardworking man. Starting out as a gofer at the office, he later became the director of the company, even though he never finished elementary school.” Keliek never waited until he was rich to keep his promise to help others.
“I had a lot of friends who were much poorer than me. I helped them. My clothes are their clothes, my meals are their meals,” he said.
After graduating from his English studies at Sanata Darma University – which he picked because the tuition fees were lower than at Gadjah Mada or Parahyangan universities, where he had been accepted to study psychology and civil engineering respectively – he moved to Bandung in 1976 to become an English teacher.
One year later he married Yulistiyani Nurcahyana. The couple built their careers as teachers in many places, from kindergartens to universities, including Parahyangan and Maranatha Christian Universities. They also gave private English lessons.
But money did not make the couple happy. In 1982, they started searching for ways to do good
for others.
Their life took a twist when Keliek parents wanted them to return to Yogyakarta in 1984 to take over the family’s bakery.
It was a hard decision as they had settled in Bandung. Moreover, Keliek was a civil servant assigned at Maranatha. Moving to Yogyakarta would cause him to be suspended.
Only after got permission from the government to not void his civil servant status did Keliek bring his wife and their 3-year-old son to his hometown in 1985.
In Yogyakarta, he became a lecturer at his alma mater Sanata Darma, while continuing the business his parents had started. His wife gave up her career as a teacher and founded her own elementary schools and playgroups.
Back in Yogyakarta, with no friends or colleagues, the couple joined the Rotary to be able to help others.
“I found something I had been looking for for years: Doing good for others. I found a university of life.
I saw rich and successful people who didn’t treat poor people like people treated me before,” said the man elected to lead the 1,700-member Rotary International District 3400 since July last year.
“Rich people don’t have to be bad people, they can do good for others,” he said.
“I’ve been with the Rotary for 23 years now and it never crossed my mind that I would quit. This is the place where I can do good for others with no ulterior motive.”

Byun Do-Yoon: Breaking the gender patterns

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Fri, 05/29/2009 9:54 AM | People
JP/Wendra A.JP/Wendra A.
During her career spanning four decades, Korea’s Gender Equality Minister Byun Do-yoon has become clear on one thing: In the male-dominated societies across Asia, it is still hard for women to land jobs and hold on to them.

Breaking this pattern has been Byun Do-yoon’s primary mission since she took up the ministerial post in March 2008.
Byun said during an interview with The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that although the Gender Equality Ministry was established 20 years ago, Korean society has a long way to go to be truly equal in terms of gender.
The ministry’s function is to protect women’s rights, promote their interests, achieve gender equality and improve their social standing.
Recently, special attention has been paid to nurturing a social environment that ensures women’s safety and helps women achieve employment and self-realization through work–life balance.
Byun’s priority is to help women gain jobs, especially those from low-income and migrant families, out of the belief that employment is essential to improving women’s lot.
For her, the biggest achievement in the campaign for gender equality in Korea is the creation of a gender-sensitive budget system, which aims to support gender equality by ensuring that public spending is distributed equally across society according to the actual needs of men and women.
The system has been incorporated into financial law and, from next year, all government programs will be based on gender impact assessments.
“We have educated and trained government officials, and 25 government agencies have applied this system to 108 state-run projects,” Byun told The Korean Times.
Byun said that the ministry had planned to help about 37,000 women land jobs this year, while also providing counseling and training for about 100,000 female job seekers.
The ministry will also introduce a “Housewife Internship” program, with those who participate in the program for three months to receive 500,000 won (US$400); through this program, about 4,000 married women will be able to earn money to support their families.
“We will continue to help them keep their jobs with comprehensive childcare programs as well,” Byun said.
The ministry has signed contracts with major companies to expand the corporate culture of gender equality in an effort to build a women-friendly environment at workplaces.
“We can’t force companies to treat men and women equally in personnel management,” she said. “But many employers who are free from gender stereotyping realize that they could make more profits by efficiently using female employees. We will promote those companies as good examples.”
Born in Hwanghae province in North Korea in 1947, Byun graduated from Chung-Ang Girl’s High School and obtained a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in labor policy from Chung-Ang University in Seoul.
Since starting her career as a social worker at Gongju Christian Community Center in 1969, Byun spent more than 30 years helping create jobs for male workers and caring for underprivileged women.
She was the director of the Center for Women Workers between 1978 and 1992 and president of the National Council of Women Resources Development Center for three years from 1997.
She served as Seoul Women’s Plaza president between 2002 and 2006. Byun was also secretary-general for Seoul YMCA from 1992 to 1995; she was chairwoman for the organization’s planning department before taking up her ministerial post.
The increasing numbers of international marriages in Korea also came to the attention of the ministry, resulting in several projects including the operation of counseling centers and shelters for migrant women.
The emergency help center, which migrant women who are victims of domestic violence can call anytime, provides legal and medical services in eight languages including English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Thai and Cambodian.
The ministry is expanding support programs for women with disabilities to offer them counseling and employment assistance programs. Centers fighting sexual violence and offering shelter for assault victims will be expanded for underprivileged women.
Her ministry’s programs, however, extend beyond Korean shores, with the ministry being behind the APEC Women’s IT training program, launched in 2003.
Byun was in Jakarta for three days from May 25 to visit an IT training program for Indonesian female government officials, which is part of the APEC program.
The initiative was proposed by Korea in 2001 during the APEC leaders’ meeting to expand access to IT for women and the disabled and to promote women’s rights and interests.
Since 2003, the ministry has been inviting female leaders of APEC countries to Korea for IT training.
The ministry has also designed a program that provides customized IT training in East Asian countries to develop women’s IT capabilities and improve their social standing, with the first pilot project held in Indonesia in 2007. The recent IT training is an improved version of the onsite training, which based upon the result of the pilot project.
“One of the important points in gender equality is women have to be economically self-reliant, and IT skills will be one of the skills most needed in today’s world of employment and commerce,” Byun told the Post. “IT skills are even more important in an archipelagic country like Indonesia.”

Jazz on the rocks with a twist

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Sat, 05/23/2009 1:25 PM | Entertainment

Jazz music is known above all for its complete flexibility, which is what makes it appealing to music lovers of all ages.

Jazz is popular all over the world these days and has the distinction of influencing all other kinds of music. Today, even electronic DJs and hip-hop artists include popular jazz music in their repertoires.

However, sometimes jazz is also overlooked as the kind of music you can dance to, with the emphasis instead falling on it being a serious listening experience.

In the wake of the decline of fusion jazz in the mid-1970s, jazz artists who continued to seek wider audiences began incorporating a variety of popular sounds into their music, forming a group of accessible styles that became known as crossover jazz.

The same expectation comes from Dji Sam Soe's Urban Jazz Crossover, an event that has been held in Medan, Bandung, Semarang and Jakarta, with another one to be staged at The Empire Place in Surabaya on May 29.

The annual jazz event, which started last year, blended various kinds of popular sounds in its new arrangements and improvisations, featuring musicians and singers for all kinds of music.

"We are seeking a wider audience, so we arrange the songs to be more familiar to non-jazz audiences," said music director Eki Puradiredja.

Unlike many jazz events which mostly invite foreign musicians, this event is really a local movement by local artists because all the musicians and singers are local.

"This is a new playground for many local singers and musicians to explore more about jazz music. We are not only providing opportunities for well-known artists but are also seeking new talented musicians and singers who need exposure," said Eki.

Among the talented newcomers are jazz singer Dira Sugandi who is about to release her debut album in collaboration with Incognito leader Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick, 20-year-old Indonesian-Filipino singer Skarmela Kartodirdjo, who released her solo album Star in the Philippines, keyboardist Ali Akbar Sugiri and drummer Rayendra Sunito.

"Some of them have exposure only in the limited jazz community," said Eki.

Because improvisation is one of the most important features of jazz music and the rate of improvisation is an indication of the music's quality, the jazz event has tried to include local content such as traditional Indonesian music in its musical arrangements, as well as exploring all kinds of sounds, ranging from semi-classical music, rap, Latin jazz, R&B, hip hop, dance and rock.

Among the 22 songs performed in the event, titled "Music you know with a twist", are Radiohead's song "Creep", which is performed by the progressive rock band Discus' singer Yuyun in sinden (traditional Javanese singing style) in collaboration with R&B singer Glenn Fredly in Cuban jazz style.

We can also hear U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" in two-step swing by rocker Andi/rif with the semi-classic vocals of Daniel Christianto and the strikes of rapper Pradana Rizky.

"The arrangement is absolutely different from the original song so I needed to tune in to the song but luckily I like being challenged. In the end, I decided to take part in this event because I enjoy the way I can sing in a different style," said Andi, who performs five songs in the event including his own hit "Raja", the Rihanna hit "Umbrella" and Coldplay's "Clock", which he sings in a big-band style.

Dji Sam Soe's brand manager Stephanus Kurniadi said so far the event had received an enthusiastic response from jazz lovers.

"We are satisfied that every show was marked with full audiences and, most importantly, they stayed till the end of the show," Stephanus told reporters ahead of the fourth show, held Friday at the Ritz-Carlton Pacific Place in Jakarta.

There are more artists this year than in last year's event, which featured only Maliq n D'essentials, Glenn Fredly, Andi/rif, Audy, DJ Cream, rapper Pradana Rizky and the Urban Jazz Crossover All Stars band.

"The only criticism we have received is about the duration of show, which some audience members have said is too short," Stephanus said.

Adopting and absorbing characteristics from the music of other cultures has become one of the defining traits of jazz music.

And perhaps because it has a form that is ever evolving, jazz has many facets, making it very difficult to define. In the mid-1970s saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. started to incorporate elements of funk and R&B into a sound based in hard bop, singer Al Jarreau blurred the lines between jazz, pop and soul and Spyro Gyra injected their pop-flavored instrumentals with Latin rhythms and electronic keyboards.

Given this, it is only to be expected that events such as this could come along to satisfy the thirst for high-quality but marketable jazz music. Because, unlike the related genre smooth jazz, crossover jazz always retains an emphasis on improvisation but tries to make the improvisation commercially viable by couching it in a various marketable formats.

As Eki Puradiredja put it, "Our main concern is not the number of people in the audience but the quality of the show. An average number of audience members is enough as long as they are really willing to see and appreciate the show."

Jecko Siempo: Dancing for his life

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , JAKARTA | Sat, 05/23/2009 1:18 PM | People

Courtesy of Jecko Siempo Courtesy of Jecko Siempo

When Jecko Siempo boarded a boat in Papua in 1993, he told his mother he was going on a holiday to Biak. In fact, he left for Jakarta, with a fierce determination to study music.

Then 18 years old, the high school graduate chose the Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ) because he had been to the capital on holiday 10 years before, when he saw a break-dance performance at the Senayan sporting complex.

“In Papua, dancing and singing are part of daily life. Some people say we’d die if we didn’t sing and dance. Since our birth we are plunged into ceremonies and rituals,” Jecko told The Jakarta Post recently.

“When I saw the break-dancing, I felt it had the same spirit and rhythm as Papuan dances. They are slightly different because they use different musical instruments.”

At first he enjoyed the boat trip because many of his friends were also on board, but he was the only one headed for the capital.

“I didn’t know what to do. The people I know were headed off the ship in Surabaya.”

Fortunately, he met a woman who was going to Jakarta to see her policeman husband. She gave him a ride to the Papuan provincial police dormitory in Mampang, South Jakarta, where he was allowed to stay for a week.

“I really want to meet her again now but I don’t where she is,” Jecko said. “She was like an angel to me.”

As a newcomer to the Jakarta jungle, Jecko did not know where to go. But once again luck bounced his way: Eight of his high-school friends who had been accepted into the police academy came to the dormitory.

They took Jecko to the IKJ, requested the application form (which cost Rp 50,000) and filled it in for him. His first attempt was not successful: Jecko, unable to read music, was not eligible to enroll in the music department. He had to choose another department or none at all.

“I was sitting on the roof of the police dormitory thinking about the situation. And at the same time a friend of mine in Papua told me that I had been accepted into law school in Hasanuddin University in Makassar.”

By morning, Jecko had made up his mind: He would enroll in the dance course.

“If I enrolled in music I would have to bring musical instruments, but if I dance, I just need my body. I chose to learn what I really had in me,” he said.

A month later, he was accepted.

“With tears in my eyes I called my parents in Papua,” he said. “They were mad at me, especially my father, but I felt that he was angry and happy at the same time.”

At first, Jecko’s parents covered his costs, but then he was on his own because his father, a policeman, was preparing for retirement.

To make money, Jecko joined a group of pengamen (street singers) in the Mampang area, when he “learned how valuable two hundred rupiah was”.

But fortune favors the bold. By the end of his second year at the institute, he was earning his way as a backup dancer and supporting actor on TV shows. “My role was always the dull criminal, pickpocket or hoodlum,” he said.

His physical features and his body movements attracted his seniors, and soon he was being recruited for their performances. Many were already big names at that time: Sardono W. Kusumo, Boi Sakti and Dedy Luthan.

One year before his graduation in 1998, his work titled Goda (Temptation) won him the award for best choreographer in a competition held by the Jakarta Playhouse (GKJ).

“That was the time when people started to notice me,” said the dancer, who choreographed moves for rock band Slank’s Generasi Biru (Blue Generation) and Riri Riza’s Laskar Pelangi (Rainbow Warriors).

A year after graduation, he was invited to be guest choreographer to the Bates Dance Festival in Port Maine, US. After the festival, he strolled down to Manhattan and for about two months he learned the “original” hip hop he had learned in the 1980s, on its home turf.

“Just like Papuan traditional dances, hip-hop culture touches the ground. Both draw their strength from the earth with slightly different styles. Hip hop seems to detach itself from the earth while Papuans tend to get closer to the earth,” he mused, theorizing that these two cultures might have crossed in ancient times.

Back home, he founded Jakarta Breakin’, a hip-hop group doing gigs in pubs and cafes, but a knee injury forced him to stop “breaking”.

Jecko, a confessed computer-game addict, is now one of the few Indonesian dancers and choreographers who perform their work both locally and at international festivals. Like his life, his work portrays a cultural journey where he never forgets his indigenous roots while absorbing the many forms and influences he encounters along the way.

Some of his early works seemed distant from Papua, but when Jecko works with Papuan materials, he shines the brightest. This is evident in works such as Irian Zoom In, Tikus-Tikus (Rats), Matahari Itu Terbit di Papua (The Sun is Shining in Papua) and his most recent work, Terima Kost (Rooms for Rent), which will be performed at the Singapore Art Festival on May 27 and 28.

But Jecko is not without his critics. Sculptor and choreographer Teguh Ostenrik, who recruited Jecko for Transcending Time said that “he has brilliant creativity but sadly lacks discipline. With the kind of creativity he has, he should have created more emancipative works rather than using his Papuan materials for entertainment,” Teguh added.

But Jecko has this defense.

“I’m not creating a Papuan dance, I’m creating dance on Papua. I take the spirit and principles of Papuan people and perform them in modern dance.”

Major tobacco label digs into jazz music promotions

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Fri, 05/22/2009 1:22 PM | Headlines

Jazz is famous for being a completely flexible musical genre, allowing it to appeal to music lovers of any age, and any culture.

Jazz has sometimes been described as offering "a serious listening experience," rather than being the type of music one could dance to, but this is not always the case.

An annual five-city concert tour has been organized, this year aiming to draw bigger crowds to jazz by blending it with other music genres such as hip-hop, funk, pop, rock and even traditional Indonesian music.

After its first show last year, the Dji Sam Soe Urban Jazz Crossover is back with a tour titled "Music you know with a twist," the first three shows of which took place in Medan (North Sumatra), Bandung (West Java) and Semarang (Central Java).

The fourth performance will take place at The Ritz-Carlton Pacific Place in Central Jakarta on Friday, and the last will be at The Empire Place in Surabaya on May 29.

The Jakarta show will feature renowned singers including pop singer Ari Lasso, rocker Andi/rif, R&B singer Glenn Fredly, as well as newcomers including jazz singer Dira Sugandi (who is about to release her debut album in collaboration with Incognito leader Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick), and 20-year-old Indonesian-Filipino singer Skarmela Kartodirdjo who released her solo album, Star, in the Philippines.

"We are seeking a wider audience, so we have compiled music more familiar with non-jazz audiences," said music director Eki Puradiredja.

The Urban Jazz Crossover features no less than 22 songs would include more local and even traditional musicians, claimed Eki.

"Imagine how fantastic it would be if Radiohead's song *Creep' was presented in traditional Javanese vocals combined with Cuban jazz style," he said.

Dji Sam Soe brand manager Stephanus Kurniadi said so far the event had received an enthusiastic response from jazz lovers in the first three cities.

"We are satisfied that every show has been booked out, and most importantly audiences stayed until the end of the show," he said. "The only criticism we have received so far is that the shows have been too short."

Jumping from the jungle to the city

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Sat, 05/16/2009 2:05 PM | Entertainment
A current choreographic work by Papuan artist Jecko Siompo offers depicts the costs of living for youngsters who choose live in boarding houses: The price to pay, the pleasures gained and the games played in the concrete jungle of urban life.
Jecko sees life in a boarding house as a vital transition for many people who look for a better life in city, especially those who emigrate from their homeland.
"Some of those youngsters at the boarding houses might become successful people someday. They might become president or minister someday," said the choreographer, who, despite having performed at world events in more than 11 countries still lives in a rented room in Kalipasir, Central Jakarta.
What is unusual about this performance, Terima Kost (Rooms for Rent), is its radical mix of the choreographer's original traditional roots and all the dance forms and influences he has absorbed throughout his career.
Many of Jecko's works, such as Irian Zoom In, Asmat Dani and "Obahorok" essentially portray the cultural journey of the artist, who was born in Jayapura, Papua, on April 4, 1975.
After finishing school in 1994, Jecko left his village for Jakarta to study dance at the Jakarta Art Institute. At the institute he learned various dance styles, using both traditional and contemporary forms. Outside school, he began a love affair with hip-hop, studied ballet and got addicted to computer games.
Like many of his works, in this latest work Jecko has created his distinctive language of movement, which portrays his journey from the jungle to the metropolis, from the primitive to the urban.
"For me, something very primitive or traditional is actually something very modern. My people in Papua are naked but in Jakarta or New York many people barely wear anything. The more you become modern, the more you back to primitive," Jecko told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the performance of the work at the Jakarta Art Institute on Thursday.
Although inspired by many Papuan traditional dances, Jecko's work is strikingly original but absolutely hybrid. It brims with a funky-ethno-virtual twist.
So in the space of a few minutes, we will be twirled with stylized Papuan tribal dance steps, and then entertained with moves from hip-hop or break-dancing, or the moonwalk he clearly copied from the King of Pop.
The radical mixture in his one-hour performance was reflected in the music, which Jecko arranged himself. He merges natural sounds like the sound of rainfall or noises of the night sound with the sounds of Nintendo, traditional Papuan music and reggae or hip-hop songs.
"If we really listen to the music of the people from the remote are of Papua, we find that their music is so similar to hip-hop," said Jecko, who learned hip-hop dance in Portland Maine, US. "There are slight differences perhaps because of the use of technology."
He said modern dance in Indonesia tended to look only to the western and central parts of Indonesia for inspiration from traditional music and art, hence his interest in "exploring the traditions of the eastern part *of Indonesia*, especially Papua".
In the latest work he succeeds both in bringing the real modern context of boarding house life into the choreography, and in eloquently presenting traditional Papuan characteristics such as movements, gestures and even jokes.
What we see then are not the supple, graceful Javanese movements or agile Minang martial art movements, but communal clapping, tapping and jumping or even climbing - the same movements found in Papuan traditional hunting, fishing or wedding dances.
"I see no difference between life in Papua and life in Jakarta, for example," Jecko said. "There is always a certain value in every life no matter how advantaged it is. For example, we climb and descend everyday. In Jakarta, we push buttons to use a lift, in Papua we climb a tree with our own hands and feet. The latter requires physical fitness and that's why we look more energetic."
Film director and art critic Garin Nugroho, who attended the performance, said Jecko had really explored the essence of dance among traditions from eastern Indonesia, which tend to represent happy bodies.
"In western Indonesia, such as in Java or Sunda, people are too tight with their body when they dance," said Garin. "It's different in the eastern part where they joke about and mock the body. For them, no matter whether you are fat or thin; they will joke around and make fun of the body. In western parts, joking about the body is only for clowns."
Garin, who worked with Jecko on several of his movie productions, said Jecko played with his indigenous roots but emphasized the body in the transition from the traditional to the modern. The boardinghouse sketch is the perfect representation of a body in transition, he said.
"Nowadays, a sketch of life in art has become the message itself and it doesn't necessarily carry a heavy meaning. The most important thing is it pleases people with the high skills of the artists."
Terima Kost will be performed by 10 dancers from Jeckos Dance at the Esplanade Theatre Studio in Singapore on May 27 and 28, as part of the Singapore Art Festival, one of the world's most prestigious arts events - something that means a lot to Jecko personally.
"When I first participated as a dancer in the event in 1996, I said to myself someday I would perform my own work here," Jecko said. "It's a dream come true for me after 13 years."

Taking a different line

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Thu, 05/14/2009 12:11 PM | Arts & Design

Essence of drawing: Visitors pass by various takes on the concept of drawing at “Ligne à Ligne”, an exhibition held at the National Gallery as part of Le Printemps Francais festival. JP/J. AdigunaEssence of drawing: Visitors pass by various takes on the concept of drawing at “Ligne à Ligne”, an exhibition held at the National Gallery as part of Le Printemps Francais festival. JP/J. Adiguna

The conventional, basic way of drawing is to push a graphite pencil across a sheet of paper, but at a time when conventionalism is frequently scrutinized, the very meaning of drawing itself also comes under question.

A visual art exhibition currently at the National Gallery Jakarta is really a protest against conventional notions of drawing.

The exhibition, “Ligne à Ligne” (Line to Line), shows works, in a variety of mediums, styles and formats, by 33 young artists from Indonesia and France. Although the distinctive pieces seem to maintain the essence of drawing as marvelously simple with elegant lines, they step away from conventional mediums and tools.

“A drawing is what makes it possible for the artist – painter or sculptor – to venture beyond set limits, into the grounds of the unknown, to seek, to dare, to lose themselves, to find, to imagine,” said the exhibition curator Michel Nuridsany.

And so the artists draw with toilet rolls and cotton buds, use neon to create forms fixed to the wall, align holes in paper, pin drawings together with clothes pegs, or send their cartoons via computer or cell phone.

Dan Mu created her installation Au fil du paysage by throwing balls of wool into the air, onto the floor and against the walls, and manipulated the strings by keeping them apart from each other, holding them together, stretching them to their full length, rolling them up, shaking them or lumping them together.

After graduating from the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Marseille in 2006, Dan, who was born in China in 1979, moved away from paper to work on three-dimensional pieces.

Indonesian artist Dimitri Rangga’s work Cheal Peace is a video installation showing the creative process of drawing a steaming cup of hot drink on the wall, with “Peace!” written below it.

Dimitri, born in 1980, drew the picture in sweetened condensed milk; the ants that later swarmed over it made the outline clearer and became part of the work.

The series of works of “sweetened condensed milk drawings on a wall”, made over a three-hour period at a friend’s house in Dimitri’s native Bandung in 2006, does not appear in the exhibition but the short video demonstrating making them is amusing for visitors, children, teenagers and adults alike.

“The advantage of video is it can capture the creative process,” Dimitri said. “If other people draw with pencil on paper, I draw with milk and people can still enjoy it through video.”

Also amusing are the works by 30-year-old Sammy Stein, who uses stickers to create his pictures on the wall. His drawings are minimalist, brittle and sometimes even faded, but they are numerous and always accompanied by a poetic caption.

A minimal drawing of a group of snakes looking in one direction with a bright diamond over their heads is titled “Anak Pangeran” (Prince), a pair of shoes is captioned “Besok kau akan mati” (Tomorrow you will die), a zebra bears the motto “Dia curhat padaku” (He/she is pouring out his/her heart to me) and a supple human-like figure is “the concern of a generation”. All these captions make you both smile and think about the meaning proposed.

Curator Nuridsany said of Stein’s work that, “What is explored here is not only mere simplicity but also the flexibility of hands, legs, tree trunks and branches and mushrooms, which seem to flow with the changes and transformations.”

The work of another Indonesian artist Prilla Tania, titled Ruang Dalam Waktu bagian 3, (Space in Time part 3) combines mural art with chalk and optical illusions.

The 30-year-old artist, who graduated from the School of Art and Design at the Bandung Institute of Technology, used chalk to draw on a wall a scene of a laneway. In the picture, branches of a mango tree, fruit hanging off them, protrude from behind the wall and run along the laneway. She then combined the chalk background with her own moving image and sound, creating a scene of a woman trying to pick the mangos.

“Because of the nature [of my work], I always make my works at the scene of the exhibition,” Prilla Tania said of her installation. “It’s a combination of video work, photography, drawing, sound and performance art.”

An untitled work by Hye-Sook Yoo, a Korean artist who has been living in Paris for more than 20 years, is a drawing of a warm black fur jacket, which the artist has drawn using only parallel short and long lines in meticulous detail.

Hye-Sook Yoo has technically combined black with black in drawing bright graphite lines on obscure acrylic, which together make the fluff of the jacket amazingly clear.

What this exhibition demonstrates is that, even though these young artists love their videos and are willing to employ any kind of medium to show their powers of observation and to document people, places and events, drawing’s place in the creation of art is as valid as ever.

These works even show how the creative process of drawing itself has become a fascinating art form in its own right.

“It [drawing] can only be the means, but since Leonardo da Vinci, drawings have won their independence and are stronger, I even want to say stronger than ever, as a work of art itself,” said Nuridsany.

The exhibition is part of the annual Le Printemps Francais festival, which runs from May 5 to July 26. This is the fourth Le Printemps Francais festival held by the Jakarta French Cultural Center (CCF) since 2005.

Among the events as part of the three-month festival are a food installation by Delphine Bailleul, a fashion show by Marie Labarelle in collaboration with dancer Marie Barbottin, a classical music performance by flautist Clement Dufour and pianist Tristan Pfaff, a comedic theater performance by Phillipe Martz and Bernie Collins, and a photography exhibition by Camille Vivier.

Ligne à Ligne

Until May 15
National Gallery
Jl. Medan Merdeka Timur No. 14
Central Jakarta

Bringing down the house

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Tue, 05/12/2009 2:02 PM | Environment

Bought and sold: Building materials businesses, such as this one under Slipi flyover, are inadvertently helping the environment. JP/Ricky YudhistiraBought and sold: Building materials businesses, such as this one under Slipi flyover, are inadvertently helping the environment. JP/Ricky Yudhistira

It might seem much easier to destroy than to build, but when it comes to a house, that's not always the case, especially for house owners in Jakarta.

After all, it's easy enough to find someone to help when you want to build a house, but unless you are very rich, you will find it much too expensive to pay a big company just to knock your house down.

Abdul Jalal, 40, has been working in the business of house demolitions for half his life. When he came to the capital from Jepara 20 years ago, his brother had already started the business from a hut in Slipi, Central Jakarta.

After his brother's death three years ago, Abdul took over the business, running it from a plot of rented land in Palmerah, South Jakarta.

Abdul is one of the thousands of people from Jepara in Central Java who are flocking to Jakarta, offering their services for anybody wanting to tear down their house.

Most of these workers have never even owned a house in Jakarta - they are only renting a plot of land or setting up on the pavement - but their presence in the city has turned out to be a boon for many.

Not only do these workers offer their services for demolishing buildings, they also buy buildings if they think the materials could have a good resale value.

"We mostly take the scrap metal, ceramics, wooden elements such as doors or window frames and roof frame elements," said Abdul, who said he bought old buildings at prices ranging from Rp 3 million to Rp 40 million.

"Sometimes we chip in to pay for a building if we have estimated the value of the building's materials."

As destroying a house has been a lifetime job for many people from the Jepara community, never doubt their ability to estimate the value of the materials of a house they want to buy.

"Give us about one to three hours and we will come up with a price," said Haryanto, a house demolisher in Slipi, Central Jakarta.

Although the industry did not begin out of any intention to recycle materials in the sense of modern "green" concepts, the way they process the materials from demolished houses does indeed match the concept of recycling.

Abdul Jalal and Haryanto said that what they took accounted for up to 75 percent of the building materials.

"We'll even take a 50-centimeter piece of wood because it would be useful for a window's furrow, for example," said Abdul.

Some scrap material is sold as is, while other parts need to be modified to fetch a better price in the market.

Roof tiles and ceramics are usually sold to customers as they are, or offered to regular customers at prices that vary according to quality, maker or even color.

"Red ceramics made by a brand such as Toto or Kia usually sell for around Rp 250,000 to Rp 300,000 higher than other brands or the same brand with a different color," said Abdul.

Wooden parts usually require some modification or even a total overhaul.

A secondhand door leaf sells for about Rp 100,000, and a new door leaf sells for between Rp 850,000 and Rp 900,000. A modified secondhand door is priced at around Rp 300,000 to Rp 400,000.

"Those who want a good quality window leaf but can't afford to buy a new one usually go for a modified one," said Abdul. "From our experience, the quality of used wood is usually better, perhaps because it has a lower moisture level so it isn't as affected by the weather."

As with wooden materials, metal also tends to be redesigned to fetch a better price. Material such as cast iron will usually be reworked into iron fences or window bars, while aluminum roofs are usually sold to construction projects as temporary fences.

Materials from walls are mostly used to build up the ground, while ceiling elements such as asbestos cement board, gypsum or plywood ceiling are always thrown away.

However, owners must pay more if they want the debris to be discarded.

"We usually settle the price before the demolition and if they want to throw away the debris we will charge them more, because we will have to pay trucks to take it to the garbage dump," said the worker, who recently bought a 300-meter-square house in Tomang, West Jakarta, for Rp 15 million.

According to architect Eko Prawoto, houses built from recycled materials will not only be cheaper than those built new, but will always have a more distinctive design.

"If we need four window-frames but we only have three, then we deal with how to make them look good even though they are an odd number," said Eko, who has developed a reputation for designing houses made from used materials, including for artists Djadug Ferianto and Butet Kertaradjasa, in Bantul, Yogyakarta.

Eko, who graduated in architecture from the Berlage Institute in Amsterdam in 1993, said he generally used secondhand floor or wall tiles, window and door frames and leafs, as well as pillars.

"Mainly it is easy to reuse materials for wood constructions, but metal constructions are harder."

Eko's experience has been the same as that of the house demolishers, finding that used wood tends to be better quality than new wood.

"In the old days people only cut wood with a diameter of more than 40 centimeters, meaning the wood used was of good quality. This kind of wood is weather-resistant," he said.

The 51-year-old lecturer at the Yogyakarta's Duta Wacana Christian University said houses made from recycled materials tended to be connected with the environmental movement because they used recycled materials, but that the initial concern was generally related to economics and/or a love of antique materials. One client, he said, "collected his materials for six years".

Yet even though the business of collecting and building with used materials was never intended as a "green" campaign, sprouting rather from people's need to make a living from what they knew, it could provide an opportunity for the government or environmental activists to raise awareness about the benefits of using recycled materials.

As Abdul Jalal said, "We really started for profit-based reasons, but we will be very happy if someone wants to train us in how to help protect the environment

A time to break down, a time to build up

Tue, 05/12/2009 2:02 PM | Environment

Spare parts: Metal and timber are among the building materials recycled from old houses to build new ones. JP/Ricky YudhistiraSpare parts: Metal and timber are among the building materials recycled from old houses to build new ones. JP/Ricky Yudhistira

Just as the Madurese people are famous for collecting scrap metal, the Jepara people are well known for collecting housing materials.

There are probably thousands of people from Jepara now residing in Jakarta who are engaged in the business of recycling building materials, most of which they source from demolished houses.

Nobody knows for sure how long these Jepara communities have been eking out a living in this way, but Haryanto, a house demolisher in Slipi, said his father, who started the business, came to Jakarta as a construction worker when the Istiqal Mosque was built in 1961 and the Senayan Sporting Complex in 1962.

As trust itself is hard to build and easy to destroy, the house demolishers tend to prefer to work with their own kind, whether as workers or as partners to chip in to buy a wrecked building.

"This is a family business. Most people who join us here are related to each other. We prefer to work with our own people because the calculation for the materials we intend to buy is based on our own experience and the profit doesn't come overnight," said Haryanto.

The 39-year-old Jepara native said that the members of the community are scattered around Jakarta, but when someone needs workers to demolish a house or more money to buy a building, they will contact each other.

"We can easily call each other," said the father of two, who rents a house in Bintaro, South Jakarta, and travels to Jepara at least once a month to visit his children. "There are many groups and each group consists of hundreds of people."

Haryanto, who has seven employees, said in the case of a big house, he can always seek help from other Jepara communities in Jakarta, or even ask for some more people from Jepara.

In his experience, a house can be priced from as low as Rp 2 million through to Rp 50 million. Workers are paid between Rp 80,000 and Rp 100,000 a day. It can take six workers to destroy a 300-square-meter house in 10 days, he said.

Jepara people are also known for their wood-carving skills.

And perhaps they might all enjoy the Chinese proverb that says, "fools build houses and wise men buy them."

- JP/Matheos V. Messakh