Sunday, July 28, 2013

Supply Chain Silliness

Last week we had the priveledge of preparing an order of 5 scotch locks across Africa. Total value of said order 92 cents US. Total cost to DHL 5 small plastic objects, prepare invoices, shipping documents, taxes etc.. is probably on the order of several hundred dollars or  more.

Why would any sane manager approve such a ridiculous transaction?. After all you can  buy scotch locks direct from 3M. I suppose that answers can be found in the sometimes bizarre world of supply chain management and how items can be classified as surplus if they sit on the shelf too long. Apparently common sense takes a back seat if these tiny plastic objects sit in a bin for more than 6 months and the high cost of moving these items frivolously is not factored into the cost of holding those items in a specific location. Is it really too much to expect folks to step back from a supply-chain management program that they really understand and ask themselves what they are really about to do?

Apparently it is


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

On The Rule Of Law

There are some very interesting happenings going on these days in Indonesia which I find troubling. A few weeks ago there was a brawl in a niteclub which saw a Kopasssus (special forces) sergeant killed. The suspects were rounded up and sent off to prison awaiting what they presumed  would be a trial. The sergeant's army comrades then  assaulted on the prison, lined up the suspects and shot them in a very professional and cold blooded manner. After a week or so of denials the army finally admitted that their elite Kopassus troops planned and carried out the attacks in some twisted sort of esprit-De-corps revenge killing. There are even reports that the police had been contacted by army in advance and that prisoners were moved to a less secure location in order to facilitate their executions. The head of the army has announced that there will be a court martial and it will be of interest to learn the outcomes of those trials. If past history is any weathervane the most likely outcome will be promotions and high fives for those involved.

What strikes me the most is the acceptance and encouragement of such vigilante action by the general public. Banners and message of support for the Kopassus festooned the streets of Yogya the other day. I have to wonder if Indonesians truly want a society ruled by law or a society that can be perceived by many at times as a thug culture. Is it ironic that one of the banners below reads (my lousy translation) "people of Jogja are anti gangsterism" in support of what only be considered a vigilante and thuggish act? To generalize is it really rational to expect the rule of law when government agents are actively encouraged and supported to subvert that same law? What purpose then in having laws at all?


A note of comparison. While on assignment in Somalia soldiers of the former Canadian airborne regiment assaulted and beat to death a young Somali in their custody. The event caused a huge public debacle in Canada. Several soldiers and officers (including a major) received prison terms. Eventually 2 army chiefs of staff along with the civilian minister of defense were forced to resign. The regiment itself was disbanded in shame, its members subsumed into other army units. All of this occurred while the regiment was on a war footing in a hostile territory.  It would be difficult to imagine any such degree of action in Indonesia. After all the man who stands a very good chance of becoming president next year is a former Kopassus commander.

Photo taken from The Jakarta Post

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

On Currency Declarations

In Angola its not allowed to take local currency out out the country. I not sure why anyone would want to  - much like Yemeni riyals and Bangladeshi taka you will have a tough time finding a moneychanger  willing to exchange your kwanzas (buy or sell) for a more serious currency. The law mainfests itself with a currency declaration (and accompanying queue) each and every time you leave the country.
I'm curious to know the reasons why. Are these declarations designed to prevent large outflows of local currency? How would it benefit someone to carry local currency outside the country if they were unable to exchange it? Is it merely an artifact from an earlier time? Anyone know the reasoning?

Monday, February 4, 2013

political update

It was a bad week in Indonesian politics. At least it was for the politicians. Consider: last week Wanda Hamidah from PAN was caught up in a drug bust at the home of TV celebrity Raffi Achmad. More fool her. However the real news was the hilarious demise of Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq on corruption allegations along with the salacious arrest of his bag man, Ahmad Fathanan,  who was arrested wearing nothing but a surprised look in a Jakarta hotel. Whats makes this funny and ironic is that Pak Lufthi was hitherto chairman of the PKS or the local franchise of the muslim brotherhood in Indonesia. The same PKS that cloaked themselves in religious self-righteousness as the only party free from corruption. The same PKS that championed the pornography law. The same PKS whose parliamentary cadre was caught viewing pornography(on a government PC!) while sitting in on house deliberations. Oh how the pious have fallen.

Predictably the PKS brass have blamed everyone else for their erstwhile leader's poor judgement citing mysterious forces, foreign powers, and even the Joos.  I suppose when facts or evidence are not in abundance playing on the prejudices of the nation is the best that a desperate party can come up to save their sorry asses. I thought that I was a cynic but these guys must have tattooed  the insides of their eyelids with  HL Mencken's insight, (and I paraphrase here) "you can never go broke underestimating the intelligence or the American Indonesian public".

The only good news from all this is that with elections just around the corner there is some opportunity to rid the nation of the parasites who feed upon it. Hopefully Indonesians will demand more from their leaders then the cynical cloaked-in-piety lot that they are stuck with till 2014. Kudos too to the KPK who are ever so slowly landing bigger and bigger fish in the corrupt pool of Jakarta politics.