Sunday, May 27, 2012

Marbles! You have no marbles!

How craven and limp-wristed has the Jakarta Globe's leadership become? In the paper's latest editorial -- in which it fully supports the canceling of Lady Gaga's concert in Jakarta -- it can't even bring itself to mention the extremist Islamic Defender's Front (or FPI, by its Indonesian acronym) by name. Instead, it dances around the issue of the police caving to threats from radicals and tries to excuse it all with some socio-political hand-waving.
The saga over Lady Gaga’s concert is finally over now that the pop star decided to cancel her Jakarta show. The reason was security concerns and, given the public controversy, it was definitely the right decision.
Certainly her large fan base in Indonesia will be disappointed. It is also unfortunate that the concert was called off due to security concerns. The country’s police had assured both fans and organizers that it would be possible for the show to proceed.
There are larger issues at play, though. Indonesia is a vibrant, diverse democracy and as such the authorities had to take into consideration all voices. It is their job to ensure that all segments of society have their voices heard.
We do not condone the use of violence and threats to allegedly push an agenda. We do not condone breaking the law and damaging property just to make a point, as some groups have allegedly done recently. Such behavior is unwelcome in a democratic, civilized society.
There are, however, many justifiable reasons for opposing acts like Lady Gaga, such as the messages these supposed artists project. It is not about how she dresses, which is needlessly provocative, but about what she sings and the lyrics of her songs. It is about the lack of morality in what she represents.
Youth will typically be rebellious and anti-establishment. But it is also important that we inculcate in them the proper Indonesian values that will put them in good standing when they enter into adulthood.
Given the divisiveness and the controversy created, the decision to cancel Lady Gaga’s show was the correct one. We must all show maturity and understanding about the cultural sensitivities in our communities. We must accept that Indonesian society is different and that we cannot be expected to be as liberal as other societies.
That will be on the Globe's website on Monday, but that kind of awfulness deserves swift and savage mockery. Once this is out, I imagine the roasting it will receive will rival even that given to the Globe's infamous anti-pornography editorial.

[EDIT: Here it is, right on schedule. Doesn't sound like the masses are pleased.]

Reading that tripe, it's hard not to think back to the oft-repeated cry of "special circumstances" one often hears when people bring up Singapore's atrocious record on human rights. It's awfully convenient to argue that Western ideas of democracy and free speech wouldn't work in your special little corner of the globe and that "swift executive action" is needed to prevent disorder at all costs. No wonder Singapore's unofficial national motto is "the world's most welcoming oppressive dictatorship." Or is that "Disneyland with the death penalty?" I can never remember.

A free press? Don't make the PAP laugh. Journalists are just there to assist the government in nation-building. An adversarial relationship wouldn't work in Singapore because, y'know, "special circumstances."

The attitude given off by the new Globe leadership just screams out that they think Indonesia, just like Singapore, should be of the elite, by the elite and for the elite. Even if Golkar retakes the Presidential Palace, though -- and Aburizal Bakrie is certainly behaving as though that's a fait accompli, making officially unofficial visits to Australia and Singapore -- all the yearning and pining won't return Indonesia to the Suharto era, when cronies were handsomely rewarded and dissent was brutally crushed.

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