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January 24, 2005

Adventures In Journalism: Translation Services

Tensions between foreign tsunami relief workers and the Indonesian military in the Aceh province of Indonesia are rising.

The military chief in Indonesia's Aceh province described foreigners providing relief aid for tsunami survivors in the region as insolent for refusing to follow directives given by local officers.

"Many foreign teams are insolent in their work and they are not following established coordination," Major General Endang Suwarya was quoted by the state Antara news agency as saying.

"They should have followed rules laid down by the host," he added, referring to both overseas civilian and military aid workers.

Translation: "They're refusing to pay us our baksheesh."

I can see why he's upset. Corruption in Indonesia is as integral to that country as garlic and four-week vacations are to France.

Concerns appear to focus most on Indonesia, which is ranked among the world's most corrupt countries by Transparency International, a watchdog group based in Berlin. Indonesia's jails are filled with officials charged with graft, and the Aceh governor is on trial for allegedly taking money meant for villages and padding the purchase price of a helicopter.

Several relief efforts in Indonesian regions beset by civil conflict have been marred by corruption. Aid officials in Ambon, where Christians and Muslims have fought for years, are on trial for exaggerating refugee figures and pocketing the additional state funds. Local antigraft activists fear more than 30 percent of the $1 billion projected to be spent on Indonesia's recovery could be stolen -- about the average that disappears each year from the national government's budget.

They are particularly concerned because the aid is going to Aceh, where a decades-old separatist insurgency has left local authority essentially in the hands of the Indonesian military, an institution often accused of graft.

I must say I am shocked, shocked if relief workers are indeed not paying the accustomed gratuity to the military. That's tantamount to telling a person to his face that something is wrong with his cultural traditions! Why, they're no better than the Christians, who go in expecting to impose their inconvenient ideas about freedom of religion on a sensitive and delicate culture. Even Gaia-raping U.S. mining companies observe this obviously integral part of the Indonesian culture.

Gosh, it's no wonder the world hates us, the way we go about willy-nilly imposing our (racist, dead white man) values on cultures that want nothing more than a little respect for local traditions.

We can do better than this, people. It's just not right, and I've a mind to do something about it. I want you to dig deep into your pockets and donate to the cause; The Indonesian Military Baksheesh Back-Pay Benefit. Send your donations to us here at Hraka, using the conveniently placed PayPal button on the right, and we'll make sure they find their way to those upstanding young men.

After taking a cut for "administrative purposes," of course.

And make it quick. I hate to think how low self-esteem levels are there right now.

Posted by Bigwig at January 24, 2005 12:20 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
Comments

Bigwig, you are truly gifted in the fine arts of sarcasm & wit. Thank you for the laughs.

Posted by: Sully at January 24, 2005 12:36 PM

*chortle*

Posted by: Stephen at January 27, 2005 06:48 PM
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