Places I've been. Things I've done. People I've met. The occasional thought. That sort of stuff.
Friday, April 16, 2010
The Crocodile Farm
I remember going to a crocodile farm once. The guide showed us a small pool with a tall heavy mesh fence around it. "Watch this" he said and carefully inserted a long bamboo shaft through the mesh and tickled the edge of the pool. There was an immediate splash and the biggest crocodile that I would ever care to meet came lunging out towards us. We were all properly shocked and frightened, much to the amusement of our guide. I don't think I ever went back to that crocodile farm again.
This memory surfaced when I was reading about the recent riots in Tanjung Priok. Sometimes the crocodiles only need a little prodding to come charging out of their pools. I'm not sure who was carrying the pole this time. The incident requires credible investigation before blame, and ultimately punishment, can be apportioned. The police arrived ready for the trouble and an armed mob was waiting for them. Somebody tickled the pond and the crocodiles reacted predictably.
Now that the fires are out the blame game has started. There have been calls for the police to be disbanded, the mayor to be fired, the governor to be fired, and the vigilante group that imposed itself on the situation to be banned. Everyone is getting in on it. The Minister of Information has stupidly called for images of the riot to be banned as they would be bad for the nation. Someone forgot to tell him that there is a free press in Indonesia not to mention that the photos have already made it to the international agencies. The Jakarta Governor has gone to visit the families of the bereaved, promised compensation, and pledged to convert the tomb of Mbah Priok to a historical site. Too bad he didn't think to communicate to the residents before the incident-lives may have been saved. And in probably the best instance of bad timing Home Affairs minister has trotted out his latest absurdity: that of the moral elegibility of entertainers as elected officials. He's got it mixed up. They are already lots of politicians playing at governing - they should be more concerned with being seen as actors such rather than actors being seen as politicians. Whats needed are leaders to calm the waters and and keep the crocodiles in their pools. Better yet if they can drain the ponds. Instead the guys with sticks seem to be in charge.