Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Why Indonesia Can Only Wait for Rain as Riau Burns and Singapore Chokes [Jakarta Post] #Singapore #Indonesia #Haze

A test of interconnectedness – the neighbors are a direct and critical cog of Singapore’s regional production and resource network. There is little deviation along the compass point when fingering the transnational capitalists or lamenting at political rhetorical ellipse. Anticipating wind patterns before the burn should have been a smarter way to do the inevitable; and for leaders to be a step ahead.

Further reading:

Burning Borneo Causes Worldwide Concern (June 22, 2013)

Singaporeans Slam Leaders for Not Ordering Work Halt Amid Smog (June 22, 2013)

Interestingly enough, the notion that Singapore is part of China persists…

Haze puts S’pore on map, millions surprised to find it there (Business Times, June 22, 2013 by Joyce Hooi)

THE world reacted with incredulity yesterday when it discovered what a “Singapore” was. Some clues to the existence of the city-state began emerging on Wednesday, when millions of orders for respiratory masks began crashing Amazon’s servers.

“I’ve seen that word before on one or two orders, you know?” an e-retailer told The Business Times yesterday. “But I got like a million orders from these Singaporeanese this week, and I thought, ‘boy, the air in China must be getting a lot worse’.”

Some, however, have expressed doubt at its existence. “I can’t see it on Nasa’s website of satellite images. There’s a patch of white smoke where people say it should be,” a forum member on Reddit said.

And in perhaps getting to the root…

Indonesia names Sinar Mas, APRIL, among eight firms behind Singapore haze (Eco Business, June 21, 2013 by Jessica Cheam)


See: The guilty secrets of palm oil: Are you unwittingly contributing to the devastation of the rain forests? (The Independent, May 2009)

It’s an invisible ingredient, really, palm oil. You won’t find it listed on your margarine, your bread, your biscuits or your KitKat. It’s there though, under “vegetable oil”. And its impact, 7,000 miles away, is very visible indeed.

The wildlife-rich forests of Indonesia and Malaysia are being chain-sawed to make way for palm-oil plantations. Thirty square miles are felled daily in a burst of habitat destruction that is taking place on a scale and speed almost unimaginable in the West.

When the rainforests disappear almost all of the wildlife – including the orangutans, tigers, sun bears, bearded pigs and other endangered species – and indigenous people go. In their place come palm-oil plantations stretching for mile after mile, producing cheap oil – the cheapest cooking oil in the world – for everyday food. Martin Hickman for the Independent, 2009

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Why Indonesia Can Only Wait for Rain as Riau Burns and Singapore Chokes
Source – Jakarta Post, published June 21, 2013


Motorcyclists drive through the smog in Dumai, Riau on June 21. (Reuters Photo)

Indonesia has accepted international praise for its deforestation legislation but has failed to invest in its enforcement, two top environmental groups said on Friday as fires continued to burn through protected peatlands in Sumatra.

The Ministry of Forestry lacks the resources to police the million of hectares of forest protected under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s acclaimed deforestation moratorium, Greenpeace Indonesia said. Fires in Riau province have burned for nearly a week, blanketing portions of Sumatra, Malaysia and Singapore in a thick cloud of smog.

More than 140 hotspots have been observed in satellite images across Sumatra and Kalimantan since the start of the week. Environmental activists and the ministry disagree over the number of hotspots burning in protected forests. Environmental groups estimated that number was close to 70. The ministry said fires were reported in only “five or six” protected forests.

“It’s nowhere near 50 percent,” said ministry spokesman Sumarto.

Please click here to read the full article at the Jakarta Post.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: ASEAN, Climate Change, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Government & Policy, History, Ideology, Indonesia, Influence, Infrastructure, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Media, Peaceful Development, Politics, Population, Resources, Singapore, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade

Yudhoyono seeks ‘protection’ from China trade pact [AsiaOne]

“I have learnt that the public has paid special attention to the ASEAN and China free trade agreement. The government also has big concerns about this issue… some Indonesian industry groups have complained that they will not be able to compete with cheap Chinese imports and have called for a delay in the elimination of protective tariffs on 228 product lines until 2012.” Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

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Yudhoyono seeks ‘protection’ from China trade pact
Source – AsiaOne, published 07 April 2010

JAKARTA – Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Wednesday he would seek “protection” for certain local industries that feel threatened by a regional free trade pact with China.

Yudhoyono made the comments as he headed to Vietnam for a summit of Southeast Asian leaders and ahead of a visit to Jakarta later this month by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao for talks on trade and investment.

“I have learnt that the public has paid special attention to the ASEAN and China free trade agreement. The government also has big concerns about this issue,” he said, referring to the accord between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China that took effect on January 1.

“We will find a solution to any problems that may occur in certain sectors so that we will be able to give protection to our industries and their workers.”

He did not spell out what measures he would take to reverse parts of the accord, which Indonesia helped frame as a founding member of ASEAN over years of negotiations.

China and six founding ASEAN states – Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – eliminated barriers to investment and trade on 90 percent of products on January 1.

The ASEAN-China Free Trade Area is the world’s biggest by population with a market of 1.7 billion consumers, and is the cornerstone of ASEAN’s efforts to position itself as a major trade bloc.

But some Indonesian industry groups have complained that they will not be able to compete with cheap Chinese imports and have called for a delay in the elimination of protective tariffs on 228 product lines until 2012.

Yudhoyono said only that “cooperation must be beneficial for both Indonesia and China”.

“This will be our agenda… so that it can improve the economy of both countries as well as bringing real benefits,” he said, without elaborating.

Plans for the establishment of an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 are likely to be a key topic when leaders of the group hold their annual summit this week in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi.

But ASEAN’s failure to find a common position on closer economic integration, both between member states and with the outside world, has dogged its efforts to be taken seriously as a global player.

The European Union and the United States have launched separate talks with individual ASEAN states rather than try to clinch a free-trade deal with the group as a whole.

The bloc, based in Jakarta, has however reached free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand, India, Japan and South Korea.

Filed under: Economics, Indonesia, Influence, International Relations

New year, new hope for Indonesia’s poor Chinese

Most people do not realise this, but the biggest concentration of Chinese outside of China is in Indonesia. More than 7.7 million Chinese reside there today forming the biggest overseas Chinese community in the world. I am not sure how this reporter got the rather understated number of 2.3 million.  “Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese community – making up 2.3 million of the country’s population of about 230 million – is more often stereotyped as wealthy, bankrolled by big business and living in gated communities.”

– – –

New year, new hope for Indonesia’s poor Chinese
Stereotype of country’s rich Chinese masks plight of the community’s poor

By Lynn Lee, Indonesia Correspondent and Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Indonesia Correspondent
Source – Straits Times, 20 Feb 2010

Mr Oey Kim Lin with his wife Thio Pian Nio and their daughter Tina outside their wooden home in Teluk Naga, a town near Jakarta. He earns the equivalent of S$1.80 every three days when he sells his 'loot' which he scavenges from the streets. -- ST PHOTOS: LYNN LEE

MR OEY Kim Lin is a garbage collector. He scavenges for plastic items on the streets and behind the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, 20 minutes away from his home in Teluk Naga town.

As he smokes a cigarette and skulks in a corner of the family’s front yard, his wife Thio Pian Nio displays his day’s find, a sack full of dirty plastic cups.

The couple are ethnic Chinese, around six generations removed from immigrants from China who settled in Indonesian coastal cities like Jakarta and Semarang.

The life stories of couples like them are rarely told.

Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese community – making up 2.3 million of the country’s population of about 230 million – is more often stereotyped as wealthy, bankrolled by big business and living in gated communities.

Some would take it even further.

The ethnic Chinese – known here as Tionghoa – are more money-minded than indigenous Indonesians, they mutter.

Not Mr Oey, 52. He earns about 12,000 rupiah (S$1.80) every three days when he sells his ‘loot’, says his wife, outside their home. It is a two-bedroom dirt-floor shack with faded cloth in place of bedroom doors.

‘Things have worsened for us,’ says Madam Thio, 54. She gestures at her scaly and swollen left ankle. ‘We are old and fall ill easily and everything is expensive. Rice costs 7,000 rupiah a kilo.’

Teluk Naga’s Chinese community makes up at least 10 per cent of the town’s population, says resident Tjong Wei Siong. About 500,000 people are said to live in the town.

‘If you look at our Chinese community you will realise that not all Chinese are rich,’ he says.

‘Here, we are rice or fish farmers, labourers and small traders.’

Mr Tjong works for a building contractor and is an official at the Kong Tek Bio Taoist temple.

Two weeks ago, the temple distributed 6,000 packs of necessities including rice, instant noodles, cooking oil and soap to needy families ahead of Chinese New Year last weekend. These were sponsored by wealthy businessmen from Jakarta.

‘We may not be able to speak Mandarin, but traditions like celebrating Imlek are important to us,’ says Mr Tjong, using the Indonesian term for Chinese New Year.

It is only in the last decade that the Chinese community has been able to embrace its cultural and religious traditions openly.

During the 32-year reign of strongman Suharto – which ended in 1998 – the community was forced to assimilate with the indigenous population.

Chinese-medium schools were shut down, festivals had to be celebrated quietly behind closed doors and regulations forced ethnic Chinese out of rural areas and into cities in the 1960s.

Their concentration in urban areas, along with the visible wealth of some Chinese, could have led to the misleading stereotypes, says Asian studies academic Hoon Chang Yau from the Singapore Management University.

‘There are pockets of poor Chinese… but I’d say most Chinese are middle class,’ says Dr Hoon.

Jakarta is home to about a fifth of the country’s ethnic Chinese.

Its many malls have been trussed up in red and gold decorations for the holiday. Restaurants offer sumptuous 10-course reunion dinner packages replete with abalone and bird’s nest.

Some prominent members of the community have said these festive trimmings could highlight more starkly the gap between the rich and poor.

Yet, others are not aware that such commercialisation might foster ‘anti-Chinese resentment among the wider Indonesian community’, says Dr Hoon, in an academic paper published last year.

This debate is lost, though, on the residents of Teluk Naga.

For many, the Chinese New Year is eagerly awaited.

It is a time to visit relatives and enjoy simple fare together, including kueh keranjang (nian gao or ‘sticky cake’), says Mr Chai Hian Choi, who works in a goldsmith shop.

For Madam Thio, it is a time to ask for a better lot in life.

A used wooden desk, its white paint scrubbed down to a pale grey, occupies the pride of place in her home.

It belongs to her 13-year-old daughter Tina, she says proudly.

‘Every Imlek I pray that the new year will be better than the last,’ she says.

‘My hopes are that we have good health, we can continue feeding ourselves and that our daughter can go to school every day.’

Filed under: Chinese overseas, Culture, Indonesia, Overseas Chinese

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