Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas in Indonesia: Christians under guard, under threat and Muslims monkeying around.

Jakarta Police guard thousands of churches, mosques
JAKARTA (Antara): Jakarta Police will guard thousands of churches and mosques in the capital days prior to religious holidays -- Christmas for Christians and Idul Adha for Muslims. "We will deploy 16,000 out of 28,000 police officers available in the capital prior to Christmas 2006 and Idul Adha," Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Ketut Untung Yoga Ana was quoted by Antara news agency as saying Monday. Ketut said that police recorded that there are 1,406 churches and 1,691 mosques, which would become target of police guards, who would be backed by military officers. He also called on the people not to carry any packages while they want to carry out religious services in their respected worship houses. According to Ketut, the police open possibility for activists of non-governmental organizations to take part in securing worship houses, but they have to coordinate with the police before they deployed their members. --> (Ed. Note: This sounds like trouble to me.)

Bomb hoax rocks Christian radio
JAKARTA: Staff at Radio Pelita Kasih, which airs religious songs and Christian teachings, received a bomb threat early Saturday morning via a text message from an unknown number. The police and bomb squad swept the station's building, located inside the Suara Pembaruan office in Jl. Dewi Sartika, East Jakarta. "We found nothing. No explosive substances or suspicious devices. We declare the place clear," Kramat Jati Police chief Comr. Didik Kusdianto was quoted as saying by Detik. The text message was received at about 2 a.m.
"We didn't wait long to go back on-air," radio announcer Rose said.

No monkeying around when it comes to coconuts Lots of monkeying around when it comes to wives.
"Macaques, the gray-brown monkeys locally called beruk, have long been the friends of people living in Padangpariaman regency, West Sumatra. In this coastal area, where the palms soar to heights of more than 20 meters, people pick coconuts by getting macaques to do the job..." (Ed. Note: Thinking of you, George Allen.)

"Fifty-year-old Amiruddin, who has trained monkeys since childhood in Koto village... starts simple and gets progressively difficult. A ripe coconut is put on a bamboo pole two meters high and a monkey is trained to take it. Then it is taught to climb a short coconut palm and told to drop young fruits by the trainer's shouts of "muda, muda!" (young), or "tua, tua for ripe ones."

The PETA people will be happy to know this: "Monkeys should receive loving care and be bathed once daily. They also get a diet of eggs, besides multivitamins and milk weekly, but I never give them fish, meat or chicken so that they don't get into the habit of demanding the expensive food," reveals Amiruddin, whose father is also a macaque owner.

Here's the part about the monkeying around: "With his monkeys ready to serve him, the father of 16 with two wives can afford to support his big family and send his children to high school...Another primate trainer, Buyung Syamsir, 55, has six monkeys to make a living. "Like raising children, monkeys also need love and a scolding for making mistakes," he said. His macaques also have an ability -- to pick lice from people's heads, he says, grinning. (Ed. Note: Lice in people's heads does not make me grin.)

And in the latest Indonesian foray into the global economy they are following a US model (after a fashion). "Padangpariaman Regent Muslim Kasim says the communities of coconut-picking monkeys are a unique feature of the regency and thinks the practice should be developed to encourage tourism. 'In Hawaii, I witnessed trained monkeys climbing coconut trees and tourists paying US$1 each to watch. We hope the same thing can be done here so that the income of professional monkey owners will increase,' he said at the opening of the festival."

You can't make this stuff up (unless you're AP): "Some 20 macaques and their trainers took part in the festival, which offered a goat as its top prize and was organized by the regency's tourism office and the West Sumatra branch of state electricity company PLN. 'This festival is meant to develop the monkey's skills as part of West Sumatra's tourism program,' organizing committee chief Basril Basyar said."