Posts Tagged ‘smoking’

Updates on Recent Stories

July 11, 2010

For those who follow this blog but don’t keep a close eye on Indonesian news, I thought now would be a good time to update you on developments concerning some of the more popular stories. 

Starting with the most recent:

Mental illness

In my second story concerning the practice of pasung, or chaining of the mentally ill, I found a clip which told about a local doctor, Suryani, who is working on this problem in Bali, applying modern medical techniques and showing miraculous results.   The sad thing was that the local government had cut funding to this project, putting a question mark over its continuation and bringing those patients who could not afford to pay for the medication the fear that they will return to their psychotic state.

I have since heard a rumour that the reason the funding was withdrawn was political jealousy.  Dr Suryani comes from an influential Balinese family and her detractors say she is conducting her work under her own name and not giving the government the credit for its funding.  They also imply that because she is seriously rich, she should pay for the treatment from her own pocket! 

Personally, I think people should put political issues behind them and consider the victims.  Even if she is capable of funding the entire clinic from her own resources, public health is a responsibility which the government has taken upon itself.  The potential cost to Bali’s economy if tourists shunned the island because of their handling of this issue is far greater than the cost of funding the clinic.  Government funds need to be allocated according to where they can do the most good.  Finally, I think it’s something to be encouraged when a member of the elite rolls up their sleeves and does some practical work, something Indonesia’s elite are not famous for.

Dr Suryani has a website for her institute if you would like more information about her work.  You can donate towards her work if you feel inclined to do so.

Tempo’s ‘Sold Out’ Edition

The publishers of Tempo ran a second edition of the magazine which was sold out.  The police are saying they were not involved in buying up the first edition and that it was just a publicity stunt on Tempo’s part.  Members of the police force are now taking a different approach.  They are suing Tempo for defamation in comparing them to pigs.  They are deeply offended because pigs are supposedly haram to devout Muslims.  I may be out of line here, but it has always been my understanding that it is the eating of pigs which is haram, not the pigs themselves.  So perhaps they are being a little precious in being offended on religious grounds.  Seldom mentioned is the fact that unbelievers in Islam are haram, yet I doubt any police general would shun his Balinese colleague on that basis.  More to the point, it is also haram to steal and it is also haram to use one’s position in a corrupt manner.

Perhaps the police would suffer less ridicule and criticism if concentrated on solving corruption within their ranks and got on with actual policing.  It is my feeling that the people respond well when they see their police giving a good example.


At this moment, Nazriel (Ariel) Irham is still being held in custody while Luna Maya and Cut Tari are free.  The prosecutor is obviously trying to avoid provoking the public’s sympathy.  All three have undergone physical examinations to check whether their body shapes match the images in the videos.  Intimate measurements were taken, including those of Ariel’s genitals. 

Meanwhile, police have announced they are ‘about’ to arrest eight suspects for actually uploading the videos.  That was a few days ago, I haven’t heard anything about that so far.

Smoking Baby

CNN have sent a camera crew out to Sumatra to verify that, yes, the story is true.  Although somehow they managed to misspell his name and the American public now know him as ‘Aldi’.   I deeply suspect this whole fuss is a beat-up by the big US tobacco companies to disparage Indonesia in the current trade dispute.  The US is banning flavoured cigarettes, including the kreteks which Indonesia exports.  However, somehow they don’t include the menthol cigarettes which the US manufacturers make in their definition of ‘flavoured’.  Self interest creates double standards.

This Site

There are now two people working on Aboutindo.  Neither of us full time yet 🙂  You might have noticed the marked improvement in quality. 

We are planning to make some big changes soon, including self hosting.   I started a bit less than six months ago, but it seems like only three.  Thanks for your support and comments.


Child Abuse? Ardi Rizal – Smoking Baby

June 2, 2010

Ardi is two years old and smokes 40 cigarettes a day.  His father introduced him to smoking when he was 18 months.  His parents say he screams if he doesn’t have a cigarette in his hand.

Smoking is a popular activity in Indonesia.  It’s socially acceptable although smoking is more frequent among lower income earners and men are more likely to smoke than women.  The same profile as in Western countries, but a lot more of it happening.  Cigarettes are cheap and are sold in small packs of as few as ten.  Many vendors are happy to break a pack and sell singles.  You can also buy single cigarettes from peddlers at traffic lights.

By far the most popular type of cigarette is the kretek.  Kreteks are a blend of tobacco and cloves (and other minor flavourings).  They are probably more harmful than tobacco-based cigarettes, they certainly seem more harmful if the heavier smoke and strong, sweet smell are anything to go by.  Menthol flavoured smokes also sell well.  Indonesians have a sweet tooth and that extends to smoking.

Just as 30 years ago in the West, cigarette companies are by far the biggest advertisers and are the biggest sponsors of recreational and sports activities.  They can afford to do this because their profits are immense.  There are many rags to riches stories from the early 20th century of young men who got in at the beginning of the cigarette industry.  To get an idea of the profits to be made, you need only visit the House of Sampoerna Museum in Surabaya or drive past the huge Gudang Garum estates in Kediri.

Separating Indonesians from their kretek is going to be a long and hard fought battle.  I feel that it’s probably a battle that doesn’t need to be fought now, considering the many other problems there are to deal with.  Improved public education would help, combined with gradual increases in cigarette taxes.

As for Ardi?  I think it’s more a case of parental stupidity.  You can see from the clip that the boy has been taught swear words and how to make faces to entertain adults.  The fact that he cries when he can’t get a cigarette is a lame excuse.  Any responsible adult, even in Indonesia, knows that it’s unhealthy to smoke, and his parents are responsible for him.

There are claims on the internet that he can’t run.  Well, he is a little fatty and stubborn, why would he run when he has a tricycle.  The claims that child welfare has taken him into custody are untrue.  However it appears that his mother has finally been shamed into seeking help in curing him of his addiction.