Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Below the line

Have I mentioned lately how much I love the commenters on the Jakarta Globe's website? With only a very few exceptions, my policy on comment sections is "that way madness lies," but bless those Globe commenters for being a shining counterexample.

The Globe commentariat has previous in eviscerating substandard and/or outright wrong-headed editorial stances, such as the newspaper's support for an anti-porn task force and its siding with Islamic radicals in the Lady Gaga Saga. Now we have Peter F. Gontha -- Globe publisher, former Suharto lamprey and admitted crony capitalist -- throwing a fit about Jakarta's new deputy governor daring to check his BlackBerry during their meeting, in which Pak Gontha suggested easing the capital's traffic by restricting access to some roads to vehicles of certain colors, an old idea which has been dismissed by the publisher's own newspaper.

I couldn't blame you if you skipped the article itself -- it's full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, as per usual -- but please do read through the comments. The response to Gontha's kvetching is energetic, to say the least. An example:

Quite apart from the appalling arrogance of the first paragraph the lead in to the third leaves one in awe of this mans audacity.
"I am fully aware that I am no expert in city planning, or an expert in overcoming transportation problems. But as a resident of the city, I feel called to contribute to progress." By Whom?
If you are aware of your inadequacy in this area then stick to what you know and you will not get the short shrift out of a very busy officials office for wasting his time.
"noble intention of meeting with his deputy governor" Your Deputy Governor? Who do you think you are?
This sort of statement epitomizes the elitist arrogance that is one of the contributing factors to the state this country is in. Someone who thinks he has a right to interfere in an areas he professes himself to know nothing about, but wants to meddle anyway because he thinks he is rich and should be listened to.
Perhaps the whole thing was to teach you lesson in humility. Epic Fail....
The whole episode does not reflect well on someone who fancies himself the Donald Trump of Indonesia. Still, perhaps Pak Gontha does deserve some sympathy. A man of his wealth and political connections gets used to being treated with reverence and fear -- especially at the Globe, given his mixed record of success with English-language publications -- and finding out that the universe does not, in fact, revolve around you can be quite a shock to the system. Of course, it's a shock most of us experience and get over in our teens or early 20s.

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