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.

Photo clipped from the BBC


H. Nizam said...

Hi Pj,
Very nice post! I like the way you 'linked' your experience at the crocodile farm with the riot at Tg. Priok. Only that in the riot the persons carrying the pole were only doing their job based on instruction from their superiors who were responsible for the whole mess, who failed to keep promised and instructed the SatPol to destruct the tomb. Many of the superiors were educated at the Internal Affairs Officers Institute (IPDN) which is famous for brutality in disciplining students causing some of them dead.
The worst thing was that the riot has made the government looked so impotent and gave FPI a good name
very shameful!
This riot has diverted people's opinion from other cases like the bank century, tax scandal, thus saving Boediono and Sri Mulyani.

pj said...

Hi Harry

I guess it was pretty shocking for everyone. It reminded me of the bad old days in Jakarta circa 1998. Its nice to see all the leaders working to resolve this crisis but its disappointing to think that this incident could have been avoided if only the parties has been more serious in finding solutions beforehand.

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pj said...

sewa mobil

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.