Category Archives: South-East Asia

Support appeals for natural disaster relief

The region to our north and north-west continues to be hit by earthquakes and typhoons. Take time out to help. Most readers will know what organisations to contact to make donations. Some are listed in this article. The Uniting Church offers a direct donation facility here.


Sunday is music day 23: Indonesia



Posted by on August 16, 2009 in Asian, Indonesia, South-East Asia, Sunday music


More on Indonesian terrorist bombing

See also Not again!

1. From Tikno in Kalimantan: Fatwa against terrorist

Dear readers, I create this post because I heard many terrorism issues that tend to be associated with Islam as religion. But through this post I want to say that it is NOT TRUE. If you say that it is personal responsibility, then I’ll say yes. I know some of you may be asking within the heart "Why you say that?"

Well, here is my explanation:

1) I’m strongly believe that there are still a lot of good Muslim, even far more than you imagine. I live in Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, and I have many Muslim friends here. They (my Muslim friends) are also condemns terrorism action…

2. From Rob Bainton in Sydney: Noordin M Top claims recent Jakarta bombings

Rob was a long-term Indonesian resident until just a few months ago.

… The sooner anti-terrorism forces catch this man the better. Otherwise, Indonesians can be assured of one thing; he will continue to build bombs designed to kill as many people as he can for as long as he can. He, and his group, might be targeting foreigners, but history shows he is not adverse to killing Indonesians as acceptable collateral damage in the pursuit of his goals.

Violence is not the answer. It will never resolve our differences and it will never allow us to move forward to a place where we all live in peace and harmony with one another. People of all faiths must denounce violence as a legitimate means to an end; violence is not legitimate and it never ends.

What distinguishes these two posts from anything I might say is that they are based on deep experience of the context and people concerned. What distinguishes the hope and counsel they offer from the usual punditry or over-generalisation is that same authority and authenticity.


Solo Sunday lunch: Batik Courtyard Cafe


Linked image

Sirdan being unavailable today, and needing something substantial but away from my own indifferent cooking, I decided to try the new place just around the corner, pictures of which you may also see in the Photoblog at Nice sign, newish coffee place and Indonesian-Malaysian eatery. For Indonesian readers: Nuansa Indonesia ditengah daerah trendy Surry Hills.

For just $10.50 I had more gado-gado than I could eat and coffee. The service was very friendly, and in the time I was there everyone who came in seemed to be Indonesian.

Must tell Sirdan.

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Posted by on April 5, 2009 in multicultural Australia, Sirdan, South-East Asia, Sunday lunch, Surry Hills


Australian poem 2008 series #21: Adam Aitken

Here, for a change, is a poet I actually know. I first became aware of Adam Aitken when I was editing Neos back in the early 1980s; I subsequently met him on a number of occasions.  The poem which follows is from Adam’s excellent blog ADAM IN CAMBODIA. Adam is of Thai/Anglo-Australian parentage. He was born in 1960.

The fig tree is neither in Cambodia nor Thailand, but in the front courtyard here in Surry Hills.


elizabeth4 004


The Diary of Louis De Carné. Louis de Carné’s Travels in Indo-China and the Chinese Empire describes the work of the Colonial French Mekong Exploration Commission (1886 -1888). It is a mix of travel diary and a trade report, and a guide French colonial policy in Indochina. De Carné predicted that India would one day fall into the hands of the Australians. He considered Indochina’s climate too enervating for whites, and describe Annam (Vietnam) as a “counting house”. In his introduction, De Carné wrote: “by a kind of natural law, which one can hardly admit without sadness, there is scarcely an alternative, for races outside European civilisation, between a melancholy transformation, or a remorseless extinction.” For the English translation, see Travels on the Mekong, Cambodia, Laos and Yunnan, White Lotus, Bangkok 2000. — Adam Aitken

Louis De Carne’s Diary

Stunned by the noise of the waters we reached Khemarat
where M. Delaporte awaited us.
Nothing could express the horror
of the petty mandarins, the imbecile governor,
and the yellow waters twisting through a narrow pass,
a child of seven smoking a cheroot,
or the site of a prisoner impaled by the tusks
of an elephant.
The light a deadly shade, the forest a blacker hue of green,
the boat shaped serpent-like, whirlpools we could not see.
The river all tributary – no one knew or cared
for the source or predominant
direction of its flow, a river unfit
for commercial intercourse.

Man had fled its banks, an abyss on both sides.
I was hot, too hot after my ramble
through an expanse of fetid mud.
I wondered what economic utility
Parisians might find in a lake full of fish
(how to get them to Paris?)

But I could write all night in my tent
cobwebbed in ennui and
sucking on the leg bone of an iguana,
or recline under the implacable serenity of the heavens,
the all powerful constraints
of influences so fatal to human personality,
that thought dies away by degrees
like a flame in a vacuum.
At least I knew there were guards
(of vagabond stock, with the timid air of the aborigine)
whom I barely trusted
posted around the perimeter.


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I was too afraid to sleep

The Sun-Herald leads today with one of the first close-up stories on the ABC foreign correspondent Peter Lloyd who is facing drugs charges in Singapore: I was too afraid to sleep – World – There is little doubt the alleged offences are minor in comparison with other cases one has heard about, but Singapore — as of course Lloyd would have well known — is not exactly lax on these matters.

Some here in Australia will be with him in spirit, while others will be less sympathetic. It would be interesting to know how various Australian readers will react to this latest report:

In his first interview since being charged with trafficking and possessing drugs he revealed he had been suffering traumatic flashbacks and nightmares after covering the region’s tragedies, such as the Bali bombings and the tsunami.

These had left him too afraid to sleep, a phobia which peaked in the two months leading up to his July 16 arrest, he said.

Lloyd – who separated from wife Kirsty McIvor six months ago and declared himself gay – faces a maximum sentence of 20 years and 15 strokes of the rattan cane for allegedly selling 0.15 grams of ice for $76 to a Singaporean man at the York Hotel on July 9.

Police also allegedly found 0.41 grams of the methamphetamine on him, along with utensils bearing traces of ice and the veterinary drug Special K, when he was arrested at Mount Elizabeth Hospital a week later. He was based in New Delhi but was in Singapore to seek treatment for an eye infection.

Yesterday he said he did not have a wild or risk-taking personality and the infection was “in no way connected with drugs”.

Lloyd’s partner, Malay-Singaporean Mohamed Mazlee bin Abdul Malik, posted $S60,000 ($45,000) bail for him to walk free on Wednesday. During Lloyd’s next court appearance, on Friday, Mr Malik appeared upset, clutching the hand of Lloyd’s sister, Cathy Mulcahy.

Lloyd – who is yet to enter a plea – is due back in court on Friday.

First, I suspect some Christians — or those who claim that allegiance — will be stooping down to pick up that first stone. I won’t follow that example. Clearly Lloyd has been through a lot, complicated no doubt — but perhaps also eased? — by his recent self-discovery. (Believe me, no-one, and I really mean no-one, EVER “decides” to be gay.) As for the experiences he has been through as a foreign correspondent, I gained some small insight into that — and I mean small — through my meeting a former ABC correspondent in Israel and Iraq last year. I am not sure how I would have coped with what these men and women often go through, with what they witness. So I am not going to moralise about drugs in this case, much as I normally am very much decided on that subject, “ice” especially. (I am strongly anti.)

As for the ethos in Singapore, particularly from the perspective of GLBT people, there are few better sources than Singaporean Au Waipang. For example, read Attorney-General says “human rights now a religion” with fanatics from his June 2008 archive.

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Last night on ABC1 — Wild China: Tibet

I found this wonderful and fascinating. Here is a taste.

Here is the BBC site.

The Tibetan plateau covers a quarter of China – an area the size of Western Europe. This vast, windswept wilderness is one of the world’s most remote places, defined by the glacier-strewn Himalayas. It’s also home to some incredible wildlife such as the rare chiru, brown bears, wild yaks and the highest-living predators on Earth. There are more large creatures here than anywhere else in China.

Defined by over a thousand years of Buddhism, Tibet has a unique culture that has nurtured remarkable beliefs. The programme discovers why this landscape and ancient culture is the life support system for much of the planet.

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Burma 3

What on earth are we to make of those drongos in uniform that run Burma? Yes, do note that I am deliberately continuing to use the name Burma, with good reason; for that and much else about this troubled country see the rather good Wikipedia entry.
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Posted by on May 10, 2008 in Asian, Australia, current affairs, human rights, humanity, Kevin Rudd, South-East Asia



Meet a blog: Egalitaria

This one came up because one entry — see below — appeared in the “hot posts” on WordPress when I logged in just now. Aha, a woman, and a Christian, from Malaysia, but very much interested in dialogue with Islam, and living in a Muslim majority country. Now that, I thought, is appropriate, given some of the heat that was rising from the comment thread here.

Egalitaria is Tricia Yeoh.

She is an idealist dreamer who seeks to uphold social justice this side of heaven. She loves her guitar, writing, singing, speaking up for what is right but is admittedly hopeless with directions.

The writings and opinions written on this weblog do not in any way or in any capacity represent the organisation(s) the writer is affiliated with. The contents of Egalitaria are based purely on the writer’s personal thoughts and opinions.

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Posted by on May 7, 2008 in Asian, blogging, Christianity, faith, faith and philosophy, generational change, inspiration, interfaith, Islam, religion, South-East Asia



Renegade Eye: MANIFESTO: Together facing the new totalitarianism

There is much to debate* in the following Manifesto, and if you go to Renegade Eye’s blog you will see some lines in that debate in the many comments that follow his posting which, incidentally, is freely available for reproduction.
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Pastoral Bible Foundation / Christian Community Bible

Image hosted by Photobucket.comMy edition of the Christian Community Bible (Quezon City, Claretian Publications, Edition II 1988) dates from 1989 and is inscribed “in memory of Rob”. (I may reinstate a story I wrote about that which used to be online but no longer is. If I do, I will make it a special entry on Angelfire.) It is the version I most often read these days. Despite the English at times being clunky, it is usually clear and, from what I know, accurate. It has not been made politically correct by having its language doctored in the interests of gender inclusiveness, more on which later. The historical notes are generally good, but what I most appreciate is that it reflects its Third World origins in the illustrations and in many of its comments which partake more than a bit of liberation theology. Of course being Catholic it makes some doctrinal comments that I can take or leave. And you get more books, being Catholic.

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Posted by on January 13, 2006 in Bible, book reviews, Christianity, culture wars, faith and philosophy, Gay and Lesbian, History, interfaith, linguistics and language, Multicultural, South-East Asia


"A Hanging" by George Orwell:


It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working – bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming – all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned – reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone – one mind less, one world less.

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Posted by on December 2, 2005 in Australia and Australian, current affairs, events, human rights, immigration, South-East Asia, writers


Insight ARCHIVES – October, 2005 :: SBS

The transcript of last night’s program is up. Here are some selected highlights.

Our guests included Yenny Wahid, the daughter of the former Indonesian president – she once worked as a journalist for the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ – also Desi Anwar, the senior newsreader for Metro TV where we recorded our program, Wimar Witoelar, a former presidential advisor and a well-known commentator and Angelina Sondakh, a former Miss Indonesia and a Member of Parliament…

JENNY BROCKIE: So do you feel Indonesia gets simplified as a nation? Lots of nodding here.

YENNY WAHID: Any news in the world about other countries always gets simplified. It’s just the nature of the media, in my opinion. And also, in my – I think that most people are very provincial, be it Indonesians, Australians, Americans, you know, any countries. I mean, they tend to look at things from their own perspective. So the media, in a way, has to follow that dictate, you know, otherwise, people won’t really understand the story. So, in that process, the nuances get lost.

JENNY BROCKIE: And what are the nuances? Tell me about the nuances of Indonesia.

YENNY WAHID: Well, you know, the fact that – Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 5, 2005 in Australia and Australian, fundamentalism and extremism, human rights, Indonesia, interfaith, Islam, South-East Asia, terrorism, TV


Indonesia Journal Blogger Indonesia: There’s something about Religion

Indonesia Journal Blogger Indonesia: There’s something about Religion

The English is erratic, but the sentiments from this young Indonesian Muslim writer are worth attending to.

…in the end, I told them that as far as we don’t put the religion back into its basic position, as a guidance to the peacefullness of human inner feeling, it still and will become a tool of many ambitious individuals, societies, countries and civilizations to attack and slander each other. As history wisely told us.

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Posted by on October 5, 2005 in blogging, faith and philosophy, fundamentalism and extremism, Indonesia, interfaith, Islam, Multicultural, peace, South-East Asia, terrorism