Indonesia: Country Pulse
23 May 2012
Hot topics in May 2012 – eBay enters into Indonesian joint venture to improve local access to global markets,
Companies favour foreign workers over locals and Declining motorbike sales point to increased consumer
eBay enters into Indonesian joint venture to improve local access to global
markets (May 2012)
Online auction website eBay and Indonesian telecommunications operator Telkom have teamed up to offer e-
commerce services to Indonesian consumers. A joint venture called MetraPlasa will provide a way for consumers to
buy and sell goods on eBay, including electronic gadgets, kitchen appliances, computers, collectibles and vehicles,
through a platform called Plasa.com.
Jay Lee of eBay said: ―We hope to improve the online shopping experience of Indonesian customers who wish to
buy and sell on the global market wherever and whenever they want.‖ According to Euromonitor International data,
there were 26.5 million internet users in Indonesia in 2011, up from 23 million during the previous year.
Companies favour foreign workers over locals (May 2012)
With the arrival of more foreigners looking for work in Jakarta, local workers are facing increased competition in the
labour market. Erwin Aksa, deputy chairman of the Indonesian Employers Association, said that the limited
availability of local human resources in certain sectors had led companies to fill vacancies with foreign personnel.
―That's one of the reasons why many companies choose expatriates, from India or the Philippines for example.‖
However, he added that many of them are paid less than local workers,‖ he said.
According to Zen Smith, head of recruitment agency Viventis Search Asia, ―There are lots of local workers who
have the same capabilities as foreign workers, but many multinational companies still think that locals are not
qualified enough and are less capable than those from Singapore and Malaysia.‖ According to the Jakarta Manpower
Agency, there were 77,300 foreign workers in Indonesia during 2011, up from 59,577 in 2009.
Declining motorbike sales point to increased consumer uncertainty (May 2012)
Sales of motorbikes in Indonesia fell by 14% on an annual basis, to 617,508 units, during April, according to data
from the Indonesian Motorcycle Industry Association (AISI). Motorbikes, rather than cars, are still the main mode of
transportation in Indonesia. As a result, motorbike sales are considered to be a key indicator of broader consumer
―This year is indeed a tough year for the consumer sector,‖ according to Destry Damayanti, an economist at Bank
Mandiri. He added that Indonesian consumers were ―going into 'careful' mode‖ due to worries about accelerating
Swedish furniture giant on the way (April 2012)
Indonesian shoppers will soon have ready access to IKEA products, after an affiliate of the Swedish design icon
signed a deal with Hero Supermarket, one of the country's largest retailers, to sell its merchandise in Indonesia.
Under this franchise agreement, Hero will open IKEA stores nationwide between 2014 and 2021.
Despite more than 8,000 ―likes‖ on the ―We need IKEA in Indonesia!!‖ Facebook page, some consumers are less
than enthusiastic about the imminent arrival of the Swedish brand. ―Personally, I think hand-made teak furniture
from Indonesia, especially the older variety, is far superior to anything IKEA can offer. That's why I've seen
containers of Indonesian furniture shipped home by expats after their tenure here in Indonesia,‖ wrote one netizen.
Curb your borrowing enthusiasm (April 2012)
The Central Bank of Indonesia introduced new regulations during April aimed at curbing what it perceives as
excessive consumer borrowing. According to Euromonitor International data, the annual value of consumer lending
in Indonesia almost trebled between 2006 and 2011, from US$33 billion to US$92.2 billion.
Under the new regulations, housing loans are now capped at 70% of a property's value, while the minimum down
payment for private car loans has been raised to 30%. Until now, new automobile sales have usually been completely
financed by loans, with many consumers taking more than a decade to repay the debt. ―The new regulation will
discourage middle-income consumers from relying too heavily on loans,‖ said Gunawan of Indomobil Finance.
Young urban women not getting the anti-smoking message (April 2012)
Despite anti-smoking efforts by government, such as banning outdoor smoking in public places and public education
campaigns, many Indonesians are still lighting up. According to Euromonitor International data, smoking prevalence
among Indonesian adults fell only marginally, from 30.6% to 30.4%, between 2006 and 2011. Most of these are men
(55.7% of men smoked in 2011).
However, more women are also taking up smoking: Smoking prevalence among women rose from 5% to 5.7%
between 2006 and 2011. Andika Priyono, a social worker who works with female smokers, says that in major cities
like Jakarta, some young women (even those in their late teens) think smoking makes them look cool and
independent. ―They are called '3Bs,' BlackBerry, braces and black menthol,‖ he said.
Proposed petrol price increase leads to long queues at the pumps (March 2012)
It has recently become something of a ritual for Indonesian consumers to queue at the petrol in order to stockpile
petrol before price increases are implemented. The latest bout of panic buying came in the wake of Energy and
Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik's announcement during late February of a plan to increase prices by up to
33% in April.
Fuel prices in Indonesia are heavily influenced by the government, which subsidises them with the aim of keeping
them affordable to consumers. Motorists in Jakarta would see the price of petrol increase from US$0.46 a litre to
US$0.62 as a result of this proposed increase. However, previous increases announced in December and January
were later abandoned in the wake of strong public pressure.
Another smoking spot bites the dust (March 2012)
The Indonesian government implemented a nationwide smoking ban on all rail services this month. Surono, a
spokesman for state railway company Kereta Api Indonesia, said the ban was off to a good start. ―Based on our
monitoring, the first day of the smoking ban went well. There were a few passengers who got off at stations to
smoke at the designated smoking areas that we've created,‖ he said.
Under the new regulations, passengers who light up on board will be taken off the train at the next station. Banners
and posters, together with warning stickers in trains and on tickets, are being used to ensure all passengers
understand the new rule. According to Euromonitor International data, 30.4% of Indonesian adults (55.7% of men
and 5.7% of women) smoked in 2011.
Jazzing Jakarta up (March 2012)
The Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival once again proved to be one of the city's most anticipated events of the
year. The three-day event, which began on March the 2nd, attracted thousands of music lovers, despite heavy rain.
According to one attendee, Ronny Yuzirman, ―Every year I bring my kid to familiarise him with jazz music. It's his
third year now.‖ Acts headlining the festival where ―Jazz finds a home‖ included Erykah Badu and Stevie Wonder.
Cigarettes second only to rice in spending among the poor (February 2012)
Poorer people in Jakarta are spending more money on cigarettes than on many more basic needs, according to the
local City Council. ―People who live in poverty spend almost as much money on cigarettes as rice. Cigarettes have
clearly become the second most important item of spending for many poor households,‖ according to council
speaker Ferrial Sofyan. He was referring to a December 2011 survey conducted by the Central Statistics Agency
Ferrial said that city bylaws would need to be strengthened to overcome the problem. ―It is about time we pushed for
the implementation of no-smoking zones,‖ he said. Bali, a popular Indonesian holiday island, passed a no-smoking
law late last year. According to Euromonitor International data, 30.4% of Indonesian adults were smokers in 2011.
Health tonics may do more harm than good (February 2012)
The increased interest of consumers in jamu - a health tonic prepared from roots, leaves and fruit - has prompted
demands for tighter regulation of its production. This follows a startling admission made last October by the operator
of an illegal jamu factory in Bogor on the island of Java. According to the man, "I just mixed up all the ingredients at
random. I don't know if they have any side effects.‖
Consuming illegal jamu carries significant risks, as irresponsible manufacturers sometimes add potentially
dangerous drugs in an effort to increase sales by boosting the tonic's perceived effectiveness. Jamu reaches the
consumer in the form of powder or pills or as a drink sold by street hawkers, sweetened with honey. However,
established and generally reliable brands are on sale in supermarkets.
Medically, these products are regarded as nutritional supplements, rather than drugs, but many poorer Indonesians
see them as an affordable alternative to visiting a doctor. A study conducted by the Health Ministry in 2010 found
that 49% of Indonesians aged 15 aged years or over consumed jamu, with 5% taking it every day.
Cost of driving to rise as government cuts fuel subsidy (February 2012)
From April, the Indonesian government will stop subsidising the cost of petrol for most private vehicles in Jakarta.
Owners of cars with diesel engines will also feel the pinch, as the government is to reduce subsidies for it in both
Java and Bali, with cuts in other provinces to be phased in shortly after. Vica Marisa, an auditor at a consulting
company in Jakarta who drives to work each day, said: ―I definitely don't agree with the government's move. It's not
like I have a choice - just look at how bad public transportation is here.‖ Petrol currently costs around IDR4,500
(US$0.48) a litre, but without the subsidy, the price is likely to double.
Developing a better class of sweet tooth (January 2012)
A growing number of Indonesian consumers are seeking out quality chocolate. Arriving in Indonesia a little over a
decade ago, Belgium chocolatier Thierry Detournay was dismayed at the lack of quality chocolate on offer in the
world's third-largest cocoa producer. But now, less than seven years after its launch, his luxury Chocolate Monggo
bars can be found in many of the major malls of downtown Jakarta. He says that 75,000 of them are now being sold
"I can see the tastes of Indonesian people changing," Thierry said. "More and more people- young and middle class
adults - are looking for dark chocolate, and quality," he added. Christina Erawati, head of the Chocolate School,
which teaches chocolatier skills, said: ―Five years ago, people in Indonesia only knew about chocolate through
How the biggest Muslim nation celebrates Christmas (January 2012)
Despite being the world's most populous Muslim nation, Christmas is serious business in Indonesia, with malls and
luxury hotels in Jakarta decked out with decorations and shoppers hitting the malls.
This year, shopping centres in big cities like Jakarta, Surabaya and Bandung have been offering midnight sales to
lure late-night spenders. "People usually buy many presents before Christmas. We held midnight sales to give
shoppers more opportunity to spend their money," said Astri Permatasuri, public relations manager at Jakarta's Plaza
Indonesia mall. Ika, a supermarket cashier at the Grand Indonesia mall, said she did not mind sporting the reindeer
hat all employees were instructed to wear, even though she wore it over a headscarf. "It's OK with me because it
shows I'm respecting another religion," she said.
Smartphones to drive growth in internet retailing (January 2012)
―Growth in internet usage in Indonesia is been driven by sharp falls in mobile phone and data service prices,‖
according to Ric Simes of Australia-based Deloitte Access Economics. ―This has allowed widespread use of social
networking, which has risen on the back of the already extensive use of instant messaging,‖ he added.
According to Euromonitor International data, real value sales of smartphones in Indonesia surged by 32.8%, to
almost US$1.5 billion, during 2010. This is driving strong growth in internet retailing, which, according to
Euromonitor International data, was worth US$56.1 million in Indonesia during 2011 and is forecast to reach
US$120.9 million (in 2011 prices) by 2016.
Price sensitivity fuels demand for knock-off clothing (December 2011)
Price is what matters the most to Indonesian fashionistas, fuelling a thriving trade in knock-off clothing. An
unnamed 20-year owner of an online clothing store that sells knock-off clothing, such as copies of Topshop, Zara,
Mango and other international brands, told the Jakarta Post that ―We call them 'replicas' instead of counterfeits.
Demand is very high with good pieces selling for more than 100,000 rupiahs (US$11).‖
According to Ria Miranda, a local designer of Islamic clothing, the pirating of clothing is inevitable no matter how
hard she tries to protect her designs. She said: ―Indonesian consumers are very price sensitive. Lower prices attract
them, while the originality of a product is a secondary consideration.‖
Mountain biking becomes a craze among Jakarta's affluent (December 2011)
In bustling Jakarta, middle class consumers have found a new way to unwind – mountain biking. A couple of times a
week, 27-year-old Adrianka, a digital imaging artist who runs his own business, and his friends hit the back streets of
Jakarta to relax. He said: "The first time I went shopping for a bicycle, I thought that spending US$500 was too
much, but when I tried the expensive ones, they felt very comfortable. When my parents heard how much my bicycle
cost, they said I was crazy.‖
While most of the bicycles on local roads are inexpensive, a growing number of consumers are paying up to
US$5,000 for high-end models. According to bicycle-shop owner Jimmy Lie, ―Indonesians these days are far more
exposed to what's going in the rest of the world and want to have access to the same standard of goods they see their
counterparts enjoying overseas.‖
Show me the phone! (December 2011)
Indonesian consumers are well known for their love of smartphones, but this passion reached new heights recently
when riot police were deployed in central Jakarta on November the 25th after thousands of people showed up trying
to bag a cheap Blackberry. When news of a 50% discount on the Blackberry Bold 9790 for the first 1,000 customers
spread, a 3,000-strong crowd gathered.
An anonymous witness told local media, ―I've never seen anything like that before, people yelling, fainting and being
crushed. But then again, don't ever joke with Indonesians when it comes to smartphones – we're obsessed!‖
According to Euromonitor International data, value sales of smartphones in Indonesia are forecast to have grown by
19.4% in real terms during 2011, to almost US$1.8 billion.
Which online bargains can I bag today? (November 2011)
Indonesian shoppers are increasingly going online to hunt for bargains, particular on sites offering daily deals on
restaurant vouchers, groceries and electronic gadgets. Marketing professional Astari Dewi said the randomness of
daily deals sites is one of their most attractive features: ―Because many of the offers are incredibly enticing, you
often end up visiting places, like restaurants for instance, where you would have never have thought about going, or
even known about, before seeing them online,‖ he said.
Lidia Sumali, a 29-year old housewife and daily deals fan, said she visited online discounters ―every day, first thing
in the morning.‖ According to Citra Yuliasari, sales manager at Dealgoing.com, food and beverage promotions are
by far the most popular deals offered by these sites, followed by spa deals and electronics.
Convenience over freshness (November 2011)
Minimarts are transforming the diet of Indonesian consumers. Yurika, a 38-year old housewife in Central Jakarta,
used to buy most of her food from a nearby stall that sold fresh vegetables and fish. But when a minimarket opened
in her neighbourhood three years ago, her shopping habits changed: ―I used to go to the 'wet' market, but
supermarkets and minimarkets are cleaner and closer, so there's no reason for me not to use them,‖ she said.
As a result, Yurika usually serves processed food to her family now. Soekirman, an expert on nutrition from Bogor
Agricultural University, said that as well as the increasing accessibility of processed food, rapid urbanisation,
technological progress in food processing and advertising are helping to change the dietary habits of the urban poor.
According to the Jakarta Economic Planning Bureau, there were 1,900 minimarkets in the city during 2010, and the
number is growing rapidly.
Call on disgruntled mobile users to turn off their phones (November 2011)
Indonesian activists called on mobile phone users to turn their devices off on October the 15th to protest against the
―theft‖ of their mobile credit by unscrupulous operators of premium rate services. ―If consumers turn off their mobile
phones simultaneously for two hours, operators will lose a 120-minute chance to make money,‖ said Harja Saputra,
the leader of pressure group Voice of Humanism.
This issue first came to public attention when Feri Kuntoro from East Jakarta reported Telkomsel to the police for
allowing a content provider to siphon his telephone credit without his authorisation. Data from the Indonesian
Consumers Foundation shows that the number of complaints relating to this issue has increased by almost 50% over
the last three years.
Let's plant a greener future (October 2011)
A group called Gardening Indonesia, which consists mainly of young professionals, has joined the global urban
farming movement, converting vacant patches of land between Jakarta's skyscrapers into lush green vegetable
gardens. The group's goals are to encourage healthier eating and a green city, while reducing food bills. ―There is
concrete everywhere, but if we look hard enough, there is vacant land we can farm," said 30-year old Sigit
For years, residents of Jakarta and other large cities have been criticising the government for allowing giant malls
and towering apartment buildings to replace green spaces. Urban farming has caught the attention of many, with
hundreds now turning up at weekends to work in group gardens in 14 cities around the country.
Dancing towards unity (October 2011)
Indonesia's Culture and Tourism Ministry held a three-day festival during September to nurture interest in the
country's traditional dances among youngsters. Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik said that the festival aimed
to unite Indonesians from diverse cultural backgrounds to preserve the nation's spirit of ―Unity in Diversity.‖ Nungki
Kusumastuti, a dancer who also teaches at the Jakarta Art Institute, said the festival provided space for Indonesian
dancers to explore their skills and for audiences to appreciate dance.
Unwanted texts lead to protest (October 2011)
A group of college students staged a rally in front of the Information and Communication Ministry of Indonesia
early this month to deliver 400 letters of complaint from mobile phone users who had lost mobile credit as a result of
unauthorised text messages relating to quizzes, lotteries and competitions. ―Many are confused because they know
they have not subscribed to any content, yet their credit continues to decline,‖ said co-ordinator Al Akbar
Rahmadillah. Gatot S Dewa Broto, a spokesman for the Ministry, said it would require phone operators to block any
numbers it had received complaints about from users, as such practices violated regulations on premium messaging
As nation develops a sweet tooth, some get more proactive about health and
wellness (September 2011)
A growing number of consumers are making drastic changes to their diets and ditching unhealthy eating habits in an
effort to stay healthy. In Tevet, South Jakarta, Santi Wibisono says: ―I used to drink carbonated drinks, and now I'm
guzzling soy milk.‖
However, for a larger number of Indonesians, food that was once seen as being ―prestigious,‖ such as cakes, is
becoming more affordable and consumption is rising fast. According to Euromonitor International data, value sales
of cakes in Indonesia grew from US$142 million in 2006 to a projected US$216 million in 2011, a compound annual
growth rate of 8.9%. It is partly due to trends such as this that the World Health Organisation has warned that
Indonesia is facing an increase in such diseases as hypertension and diabetes.
Taking self medication to strange new places (September 2011)
A growing number of patients who cannot afford expensive medicines are seeking out bizarre alternatives. For
example, 50-year old Sri Mulyati goes to a railway line on the outskirts of Jakarta almost every day to get ―electric
therapy‖ by lying on the tracks. ―I'll keep doing this until I'm completely cured,‖ she said, twitching visibly as an
oncoming passenger train sent more current racing through her body.
Marius Widjajarta, chairman of the Indonesian Health Consumers Empowerment Foundation, says there is no
evidence that lying on the rails does any good. But Mulyati insist that it provides her relief from hypertension, high
cholesterol and sleeplessness. She turned to ―train-track therapy‖ last year after hearing a rumour about an ethnic
Chinese man who was partially paralysed by a stroke going to the tracks to kill himself but instead finding himself
Urban consumers can't do without the internet (September 2011)
According to a survey of 4,482 conducted by Yahoo and TNS in 13 urban markets during June 2011, the internet has
overtaken newspapers and radio as the most popular media channel in Indonesia. The internet had a penetration rate
of 33%, compared with 25% for newspapers and 24% for radio. Leading online activities include social networking
(89% of web users) and reading news (61%).
Suresh Subramanian, deputy managing director of TNS Indonesia, suggested that cheaper smartphones, particularly
Chinese brands, are reshaping the country's media landscape. Just as importantly, cheaper voice and data packages
from mobile phone networks are encouraging a growing number of Indonesians to go online. According to
Euromonitor International data, value sales of smartphones in Indonesia more than doubled, from US$644 million to
almost US$1.5 billion, between 2008 and 2010.
Consumers in a better position to shop for automobiles (August 2011)
Indonesia looks set to overtake Thailand as home to the largest automotive industry in Southeast Asia on the back of
its rising middle class, according to Johnny Darmawan, president director of Toyota Astra Motor. Typically,
Indonesian consumers finance 80% of their car and motorcycle purchases with bank loans. Bank Indonesia (the
country's central bank) has kept its key interest rate at 6.75%, enabling automotive financiers to lend to consumers at
a relatively affordable rate.
Ardi Nur, a 30-year-old restaurant owner in Jakarta, said: ―I am making more money this year, and I am planning to
sell my old car and buy a new one. Even though cars are getting more expensive, I am confident about my future.‖
A new gadget for Ramadan? (August 2011)
It has now become something of a tradition in Indonesia for consumers to upgrade their mobile phones during the
Ramadan and Eid religious celebrations. For most, having the latest mobile phone not only signifies a new
―beginning‖ but also brings prestige in the eyes of family and friends when they return home for a visit. For rural
migrants, having a new mobile phone can be seen as an indication that they have been successful in the big city.
Naturally, major brands time their promotions to cash in on these festivals.
Home-grown doctors not good enough? (August 2011)
According to former Indonesian vice president Jusuf Kalla, around 10% of the Indonesian population, some 20
million people, prefer to go to Singapore and Malaysia for medical treatment than to receive it domestically. Kalla
added that "These consumers want the best service available and the most accurate diagnosis. Money does not matter
Higher beef prices squeezing consumers (July 2011)
Australia's six-month ban on cattle exports may be considered a blessing by local players in the industry, but the
sudden cut in a supply chain that contributes a significant slice of the beef supply has been a pain for consumers and
undermined the country's drive towards a self sufficient food supply. ―Domestic cattle producers can only supply
70% of the annual national demand,‖ said Agriculture Minister Suswono. State news agency Antara reported that
beef prices in a traditional market in Tangerang were up an average of 20%, to IDR25,000/Kg (US$2.93/Kg). The
situation could worsen, as the fasting month of Ramadhan, which is notorious for pushing food prices up, begins
Blackberry the flavour of the moment (July 2011)
As the joke in Indonesia goes, if you don't have the right gadget you may end up a social outcast, and the gadget of
the moment is the Blackberry smartphone. A lunchtime walk through a packed food court in Jakarta sees many
patrons glued to the device. 14-year old high school student Haryo Suryo Susilo gushed: ―I've only had it three
months and I love it. I keep in touch with my friends constantly." The explosion in smartphone use seems to have
coincided with a surge in enthusiasm for social media, with consultancy Socialbakers estimating that Indonesia has
37 million Facebook users, second only to the USA, while traffic counter comScore has ranked Indonesia fourth in
the world in terms of Twitter use.
Natural remedies no longer just for the poor (July 2011)
Herbal medicines, often referred to locally as ―jamu‖, have long been popular in Indonesia, but in recent years they
have become increasingly accepted in the mainstream as an effective alternative to modern medicines. Television
and radio presenter Novita Angi, whose six-year-old daughter Jemima suffered from a prolonged cough despite
several visits to the doctor and a number of prescriptions, said ―We've been prescribed heaps of antibiotics, and they
were all ineffective, but with a herbal remedy we tried, I'm happy to say that we've never visited a doctor since.‖
Nyoto Wardoyo, president director of Deltomed Laboratories, which produces herbal medicines, said ―There's a shift
among jamu drinkers nowadays. While it has always been used by low and middle-income people, now it's
becoming very popular among those in the upper-income brackets. These are people who are well educated and
Mandarin the language of the moment (June 2011)
From independent language centres to national schools and universities, Indonesians are flocking to learn the
Chinese language once banned by the Suharto regime. When Linda Chiu began organising Chinese language classes
for children in Indonesia 11 years ago, she had four students in her class. Now, enrolment at her two Chinese
language centres in Jakarta is approaching 1,000, reflecting a surge in interest in learning Mandarin.
At her Children Learning Chinese centres, children ranging from tots to teens attend classes two or three times a
week. Their parents pay between 1.5 million rupiahs (US$180) and 3 million rupiahs every ten weeks for tuition. ―I
always tell the kids how useful and important it is to learn the language. Every time I go away on holiday, even to
countries like Australia, I hear Mandarin spoken in different places. That just gives you an idea of how far it has
spread,‖ she said.
Plastic is still fantastic (June 2011)
Indonesians consumers cannot seem to leave behind the idea of using plastic bags. 28-year old shopper Yunita Yanti
said ―I usually ask for plastic bags when I go to the supermarket. I'd like to buy one of those green bags, but I'm
buying groceries for a whole family. It takes plenty of bags.‖ Yunita added that plastic bags also come in handy later
as bin liners.
It is thinking such as this that is holding back efforts to phase out plastic bags from general use in Indonesia,
according to Muhammad Faisal, sustainable development manager at retailer Carrefour Indonesia. ―It's a bit
challenging to keep on suggesting to consumers that they bring their own green bags, even if we run promotions
where they can trade in their old bags for new ones for free,‖ he said. He added that the situation was not being
helped by a lack of regulation by the government.
Great race style to promote city's attractions (June 2011)
Modelling its new event on the reality television show ―The Amazing Race,‖ the American Chamber of Commerce
in Indonesia is organising a very non-traditional networking event to appeal to young professionals in Jakarta. The
Amazing Race Big Durian is a giant scavenger hunt set to take place throughout the city.
One of the organising committee members for the event, Scott Hanna, said the race would require contestants to take
photos and collect specific items from various locations around the city. He added the race would take in most of the
capital's key attractions and promote a spirit of adventure and teamwork. According to Hanna, many travellers
thought of Jakarta only as a centre for business and government, often sidestepping it in favour of other destinations
in Indonesia that are perceived as being more attractive.
Ready for internet-enabled television sets? (May 2011)
The first quarter of 2011 saw the arrival of internet television in Jakarta, with major brands like Sony, LG and
Samsung battling it out to introduce consumers to the concept. However, some consumers said they were left baffled
by the wide-ranging capabilities: ―This TV has too many features,‖ said Chandra, an account executive who attended
a Samsung Smart TV launch. ―For me, it's rather confusing. I doubt that I'll be able to grasp them all,‖ she added.
Nonetheless, Yoo-Young Kim, managing director of Samsung Electronics Indonesia, maintained the local market
was ready for internet TV: ―Indonesian customers are quite sophisticated,‖ he said.
New law aims to protect buyers of new-build homes (May 2011)
Indonesian consumers will have stronger protections against the false promises of housing developers after the 2011
Law on Housing and Settlements comes into effect this month. This type of abuse usually affects those on low
incomes. Take the case of 26-year old Igel Zibriel, an employee at a state-owned bank in Jakarta. Adequate parking
was one of the facilities promised to him when he negotiated to buy a newly-built, low-cost apartment in Kalibata.
However, there were not enough parking spaces to accommodate all residents and Igel ended up paying 300,000
rupiahs (US$33) a month for one. ―I think they should have been more open and honest about this,‖ he said.
Pop fever turns venue purple (May 2011)
The grounds surrounding the Sentul International Convention Centre in Jakarta were transformed into a sea of purple
on April the 23rd, with hundreds of fans flocking to the venue for Justin Beiber's concert wearing the Canadian pop
sensation's favourite colour. Many hotels in the area were reported to be fully booked, with many families making
the most of the Easter weekend. A number of enterprising individuals were hawking unofficial Beiber merchandise
at the venue, including one woman who was using the proceeds to help cover the costs of buying tickets for her two
children: ―I brought 100 Justin Bieber t-shirts from home. Thank God, I have sold 70 pieces,‖ a relieved Ika said.
No food with a face! (April 2011)
Burger and fried-chicken restaurants in Indonesia are losing a growing number of young customers who are
increasingly shunning meat and chicken, opting for grains and beans instead. 16-year old Shanti Paramita even
refuses to consume dairy or egg-based products, believing that they are also a part of the animal: ―Consuming those
products means we have to kill animals as well,‖ she says. For some, it is just a matter of exploring new options:
Twenty-year-old Jeremia John said that his decision to become a vegetarian had a lot to do with passing a veggie
restaurant every day on his way to school: ―I discovered this vegetarian restaurant near my high school. The food is
delicious and inexpensive. That's when I started becoming vegetarian,‖ he says.
Just speak to search (April 2011)
Indonesia's increasing appetite for mobile web technology prompted Google to launch a Bahasa Indonesia voice-
search application in late March, making it the first Southeast Asian language recognised by Google Voice Search.
Bahasa Indonesia is the country's official language. ―Indonesian consumers are sophisticated mobile users who
frequently use their phones as a primary means of accessing the web,‖ according to Derek Callow, head of marketing
for Google Southeast Asia.
Using the tool, people can use voice commands to generate search results from websites using their mobile browser.
―It's really cool,‖ said Yana Oktavia, a freshman at the London School of Public Relations in Jakarta who tried the
application: ―There's no need to fumble with the small keyboard anymore while searching Google on my mobile
phone,‖ he added. However, some users reported glitches with the application. According to Euromonitor data, there
were almost 175 million mobile phone subscriptions in Indonesia during 2010.
Unwanted texts get on users' nerves (April 2011)
A groundswell of consumer anger is building against the growing number of text messages many mobile phone users
are receiving offering them collateral-free bank loans. The messages, mostly from local lenders, usually tout loans of
30-300 million rupiahs (US$3,450-US$34,500) and are often followed by hard-sell sales calls. While such
unsolicited calls are not illegal, consumers have found them so intrusive that more than 10,000 have complained to a
Bank Indonesia hotline. Dewi Puspita, who works at an advertising firm, was furious about those texts: She said, ―If
there's a way to complain, I want to shout 'Please, get me off the list!' Sending customers offers by text messages is
not only less effective, but so backward.‖
Popular local dish is in danger of losing key ingredient (March 2011)
Bakso, a hearty noodle soup laden with meatballs that costs as little as US$1, is an Indonesian dish beloved by rich
and poor alike. It is sold by four million hawkers, according to the Association of Bakso Sellers. However, one of the
key ingredients in the meatballs is offal imported from Australia, and these imports are under threat as the
Indonesian government seeks to reduce imports of food. According to Jeremy Gaylard, a Melbourne-based
consultant, an Indonesian plan to achieve self-sufficiency in meat production by 2014 is ―very admirable‖ but
―simply unachievable.‖ If Mr Gaylard's prediction comes to pass, there will be four million irate bakso sellers, and
many more cranky diners.
Jazz festival draws record attendance (March 2011)
Indonesian music lovers turned out in what organisers said were ―record numbers‖ for the Jakarta International Java
Jazz Festival 2011, which took place over three days from March the 4th. Carlos Santana's highly anticipated
headline performance attracted 10,000 concertgoers (a sellout), many of them middle aged.
Self-confessed Santana fan Hendra said he was extremely pleased with the performance: ―It felt so amazing to
finally see his live performance,‖ he said. Corinne Bailey Rae's set an hour after Santana attracted an even bigger
audience to the same hall, proving a particular draw for younger fans. Festival organisers said a total of 150,000
tickets had been sold for this year's festival, smashing last year's record of 103,000 tickets.
Clerics tone down opposition to St. Valentine's Day (March 2011)
Indonesia's top Islamic body softened its hardline stance towards St. Valentine's Day last month, choosing to dismiss
it as a harmless fad. "We fully understand that the Valentine's Day celebration here is just a trend among young
people," Indonesia Ulema Council secretary general Ichwan Sam said. "It's just a way of expressing love by
youngsters. It will fade away as time goes by," he added.
In recent years, it had become customary for the council, the highest clerical body in the world's most populous
Muslim-majority country, to issue fatwas condemning Valentine's Day as a threat to Islamic values. It was equally
customary for Indonesians to ignore the clerics and send their loved ones Valentine's Day cards, chocolates and
More Indonesians to travel overseas (February 2011)
Cheaper airfares and the government's recent elimination of an exit tax are leading more Indonesians to travel
overseas, according to industry group The Association of Indonesian Travel Agencies. Previously, Indonesians had
to pay IDR1 million (US$111) when leaving the country by sea or IDR2.5 million by air. Short-haul destinations,
such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, remain Indonesians' favourite destinations. ―Singapore's new attraction is
Universal Studios, which opened recently, while Malaysia will remain popular because it offers more affordable
accommodation,‖ said Anto B. Haditono, secretary general of The Indonesian Airline Ticketing Agencies
Returning graduates find it difficult to adjust to life back home (February 2011)
Many Indonesians who have studied abroad find it hard to return home. In 2009, 50,000 Indonesians headed
overseas to study, according to The Indonesian International Education Consultants Association (Ikpii), and a 2010
report released by the Indonesia Regional Science Association indicated that nearly half of all Indonesians going
abroad to study in science-related fields do not return to the country.
According to 22-year old Cindy Hendrawan, who studied finance and accounting at Seattle University, ―It's not easy
to adjust after four years away. Indonesia is very nice for a holiday, and Jakarta is alright for a month or two, but
everyday? No. Nothing is simple here, or efficient— public transport, even GPS. If you want to go somewhere, you
can't just find it on Google. It's probably not even there.‖ Other reasons cited included a lack of job opportunities and
Crop circle draws the crowds (February 2011)
Thousands of Indonesians are flocking to a paddy field in the Sleman district of central Java to see what some
believe is a crop circle created by a UFO. Villagers have started charging entrance fees to see the 63m-wide circle,
which looks like an intricately designed flower. The internet has been abuzz with talk of the circle, which first
appeared on January the 23rd. While experts assert that it was designed by people, a group of local enthusiasts
named Beta UFO disagrees: ―We sent a team to the site yesterday. Our conclusion is that it was not made by
humans,‖ group founder Nur Agustinus said.
Consumers urged to grow their own chillies (January 2011)
Indonesians have been urged to grow their own chillies in an attempt to deal with a five-fold increase in prices over
the last year due to pests and bad weather. President Susilo Yudhoyono Bambang urged people should be "creative"
in planting chillies- a key ingredient in Indonesian cuisine. One street vendor in East Java said he has to reduce the
amount of chilli he adds to his dishes: "Sometimes we use red chilli and sometimes we don't because the price is too
expensive... So we use green chilli instead," he said. Agriculture Minister Suswono said a national campaign would
be launched to encourage home growing, with free seeds to be distributed to 100,000 households. "The chilli is a
plant that grows easily in the yard, but now, even in villages, they want everything instantly, so they buy it, rather
than growing it," he said.
New technology on buses of little benefit to commuters, says expert (January
As part of its drive to improve the service on the TransJakarta Busway, the city will shortly begin to use technology
to track its fleet. Through the use of Global Positioning Systems technology, the city expects to cut both travel and
wait times. According to the Indonesian Consumers Foundation, more than 52,000 people use TransJakarta buses
every day, but many complain about queues, overcrowded buses and lengthy travel times.
However, according to Alvinsyah, a transportation expert from the University of Indonesia, technology is not the key
to improving TransJakarta Busway's service. ―The more important things are human resources and the systems used
by operators,‖ he said. ―The public expects that when TransJakarta becomes an independent body, it will turn away
from the profit-oriented paradigm and start providing a more professional service to the public,‖ he added.
First e-book store meets demand that dares not speak its name (January 2011)
Recognising a growing demand for e-books, three Indonesians have set up the first online e-book store in Indonesia.
Sonny Kaliman, Anson Lesmana and Roy Kurniawan called the website Papataka, which translates as ―bookworm.‖
It allows customers to both download e-books and purchase electronic readers. The majority of the books available
on the site came from abroad. ―In big cities like Jakarta, there are, of course, bookstores everywhere,‖ one of the
founders said. ―But in more remote areas, not everyone has easy access to them. However, everyone with internet
access can download e-books,‖ he added. He also says that special-interest material, such as gay literature, is selling
very well. ―Bookstores sometimes don't include these titles in their selection because people who want to buy them
perhaps do not want to do so openly. By buying them online, they don't have to.‖
Foreign martial arts viewed as trendy (December 2010)
Foreign martial arts are gaining ground in Jakarta, becoming serious competition for traditional Indonesian martial
arts like Pencak Silat. Brazilian Capoeira, Japanese Aikido, Chinese Wushu, Israeli Krav Maga, Russian Sambo and
Muay Thai from Thailand are just some of the foreign martial arts now being practiced by Jakartans.
Gusffi Eranu, a Krav Maga instructor for Komando Indonesia, said ―People are more interested in these forms of
martial arts because they are more practical than the local one, as the latter requires people to memorise many
moves. Classes for these martial arts are easy to find as many are available in fitness centres and gyms.‖ 28-year-old
Ponco Nugroho, who joined Gusffi's class, thought that practicing Krav Maga was trendy: ―Hollywood action
movies influence people in choosing a martial art. It is also easy to get information about these martial arts from
A nation of Twitterers (December 2010)
A study conducted by internet analysis firm ComScore during mid 2010 has found that Indonesian internet users are
the most prolific users of Twitter on the planet, with 20.8% of those aged over 15 years using the service (a higher
proportion than even the USA). Twitter suits Indonesia for a number of reasons: Mobile phones are cheap and
English is widely spoken, especially on the nation's most populous and tech-savvy island, Java. Even for those who
prefer to Tweet in their native tongue, life is made relatively easy by the fact that Bahasa Indonesia uses an internet-
friendly Roman script. Arifin Putra, an Indonesian actor who is active on Twitter, said ―Indonesians like to be with
others and have a strong sense of community. Above all, they like new trends. If someone says this is the next cool
thing to do, then everybody is going to follow.‖
The risky business of beauty (December 2010)
Besieged by advertisements touting an ―ideal‖ image for women (slim, pale-skinned with long straight hair) a
growing number of female consumers in Indonesia are trying to fit the picture by taking slimming pills. Several
deaths related to slimming-pill overdoses are thought to have occurred, with some making their way into the press.
However, Ida Marlinda, a researcher at the Indonesian Consumers Protection Foundation, said that her organisation
had not yet been able to compile accurate statistics on the number affected: ―Perhaps the victims or their families are
too embarrassed, so they keep quiet,‖ she said. The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) has banned several
brands of slimming pills, but although Indonesia has had an internet retailing law since 2008, it does not cover
complaint procedures for online stores. Meanwhile, consumer protection law does not specifically cover online
Pay-for-play bloggers an ethical issue (November 2010)
With social media reaching more and more people every day, advertisers in Indonesia have turned to bloggers as the
next generation of product endorsers to spread the word online. However, this has thrown up some ethical issues, as
those who give glowing reviews online are sometimes paid in cash or get the product for free.
FX Ridwan Handoyo, chairman of the supervisory committee of the Association of Indonesian Advertising
Agencies, said that not divulging the relationship between advertisers and bloggers was a breach of fairness: He
commented ―Some bloggers were honest about the fact that they were making money from posting these
testimonials on their blogs, while others were reluctant to admit to it.‖ Among the most common paid online
reviews, he said, were ones for travel-related products, consumer goods and telecommunications services.
Enda Nasution, a popular blogger and member of the ―twitterati‖ who admits to having been paid to endorse
products, said it was inevitable that companies would recognise the advertising potential of social media. He argues
that ―Consumers have more trust in online peer reviews.‖
Bargain hunters find fake cosmetics (November 2010)
With an increasing amount of counterfeit cosmetics sold both in markets and online shops, Jakartan women are
increasingly checking if discounted beauty products are genuine before they buy. ―I always study every item before
buying it by observing the details of its original packaging, which can be seen on the company website. I have had
unpleasant experiences with fake ones,‖ said 27-year old Nuri.
Counterfeit products, which were allegedly imported from South Korea and China, are around 30% cheaper than the
real thing. Lured by the prospect of an additional income, Nuri unwittingly sold the fake cosmetics to friends for
several months until one customer pointed out they were counterfeit: ―The customer realised it was fake when she
examined the packaging at an official shop,‖ Nuri said. Another cosmetics user, 28-year old Angela, said ―Price is
one indicator of a fake product, although, unfortunately, some fake products can have price tags that are almost
identical to the original products.‖
Crackdown on smoking rooms (November 2010)
The Jakarta administration has said that it will begin to shut down smoking rooms located inside buildings this
month, as it moves to enforce tough new anti-smoking regulations. Ridwan Pandjaitan, head of enforcement at the
Jakarta Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD), said ―People are not allowed to smoke inside buildings
anymore. We are targeting 800 smoking areas initially. If we find them still functioning, we will shut them down.‖
Tulus Abadi, managing director of the Indonesian Consumer Protection Agency, supports the idea, while at the same
time proposing a tax increase on cigarettes: ―Many Indonesians spend more money on cigarettes than rice, a staple
food, and some fathers can't even afford to send their children to school because they can't stop buying cigarettes,‖
More traffic, better economy? (October 2010)
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has opted to see the bright side of the traffic jams caused by
traffic congestion arising from the Idul Fitri holiday this year, which saw more private cars and motorcycles hit roads
across the country than ever, particularly in Java. The president said the increasing number of private cars and
motorcycles reflected an improvement in living standards: He said ―I know the challenge facing us is not easy, but
we are delighted to see more people buying motorcycles due to their increasing purchasing power and the improved
economy.‖ According to the government, about 3.6 million motorcycles and 1.3 million cars travelled across the
country during Idul Fitri.
Saving not on Indonesian minds (October 2010)
Indonesian consumers are spending too much and not saving enough, according to a Citibank survey released in
September. The online survey, called the 2009 Financial Quotient, was based on 400 respondents who had worked
for at least two and a half years. Only 32% of respondents said they had savings equal to at least six months' salary.
Analysts and economists blamed ―live for today‖ consumerism and a lack of education about financial planning for
this. According to Juniman, an economist at Bank International Indonesia, Indonesian culture tended to promote
consumption: He said ―Indonesians, in general, tend to overspend. To make things worse, they tend to not give much
thought to their futures. Instead, they focus too much on their present needs.‖
Shoppers don't want coins (October 2010)
Rupiah coins are legal tender for business transactions, but many Indonesians do their best to get rid of them as
quickly as they can. ―If I receive a coin as change, I will give it back to the cashier,‖ a young shopper said, adding
that it was a hassle to put it in her wallet. Many others are also reluctant to keep coins to make purchases but instead
hand them back or use them to tip street performers. Due to a shortage of coins circulating in the market, many
retailers offer alternatives to their customers, such as sweets. The National Care Coins Movement was launched to
encourage consumers to use their coins in stores and to inform them that they could exchange them for notes at
Spreading the love of bargains to the virtual world (September 2010)
Be it a midnight-madness deal at a local mall, an all-you-can-eat buffet special or a simple seasonal markdown,
Indonesians love a good bargain. ―Some people won't even go shopping if there isn't a discount or a sale,‖ said 24-
year old web entrepreneur Ferry Tenka, who together with his business partner, Jason Lamuda, saw this low-price
love affair as an opportunity and launched the web site Disdus.com.
The site offers exclusive discount coupons offering up to 50% off goods and services from participating vendors.
Once registered, users are free to browse the site looking for deals. If they see one they like, all they have to do is
click the ―buy‖ button to purchase a coupon. ―In addition to loving discounts, Indonesians love to hang out in
groups. If people find great discounts on our web site, you can bet they will tell their friends about them,‖ said Jason.
Price hikes fuelled by holiday season and floods (September 2010)
It is the holiday season for more than 200 million Indonesian Muslims. During the holy month of Ramadan, shoppers
buy clothing, gifts and festive food to break daytime fasting. At one of Jakarta's main textile markets, the rush for
clothing began weeks ahead of Ramadan. ―Average selling prices are up 20% for all products, but they still come
and buy‖, said Adi Purwanto, a trader at the market. ―We're expecting more people will come when they get their
Idul Fitri (Islamic holiday) bonus,‖ he added.
Food is also getting more expensive: Flooding has damaged Indonesian crops and prices have risen10% at the largest
rice market in Jakarta since the start of fasting. Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy, may have to buy more
expensive rice on the international market if domestic production fails to meet demand or the harvest is late. ―We
have already had two surprise jumps in price during June and July‖, according to Yougesh Khatri, senior economist
for Southeast Asia at Nomura.
Women-only carriages on trains (September 2010)
As the train rattled into Jakarta, 19-year-old Wiwit Wahyuningsih leaned back in a soft, pink-cushioned seat in a
carriage newly designated exclusively for women. ―It's a great feeling,‖ the university student said. ―The trains are
always so packed, there are thousands of people crammed up against one another. Especially during rush hour, it's
very common to be harassed or touched by men, intentionally or not," she added.
Some female commuters think the effort is not enough. 28-year old Yanti Sumarni commented, "If anything, two
cars isn't enough. Look! There are more than 200 women here. It's a good start, but we really need more." However,
there are some dissenters: Imam Prasodjo, a sociologist from the University of Indonesia, said any form of
segregation, especially in public places, can be viewed as a setback in a modern, newly democratic society.
Falling prices, Wi-Fi hotspots drive netbook buying spree (August 2010)
Sales of personal computers in Indonesia surged 76% year-on-year during the second quarter, driven in large part by
the popularity of smaller laptops or ―netbooks,‖ according to the Indonesian Computer Business Association. Almost
500,000 netbooks were sold during the quarter, up from 270,000 during the year-earlier period. Daniel Rustandi,
marketing director of PT Acer Indonesia, said ―Indonesia's infrastructure supporting PC usage has definitely gotten
better, especially the growing number of wi-fi locations.‖ He added that he expects the number of locations offering
wireless hotspots to increase by at least 25% this year.
Most passengers reasonably satisfied with Jakarta bus service (August 2010)
A study conducted by the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) found that a mere 1.6% of respondents were
―very satisfied‖ with the TransJakarta bus service. ―Passengers expect improvement in seven priorities as follow:
punctuality, travel time, safety, comfort, information, accessibility, condition of shelters and cleanliness,‖ said YLKI
executive Tulus Abadi. However, 50% said they were ―satisfied,‖ while 39% considered the service ―moderate.‖ A
mere 9% described it as ―poor.‖ The study surveyed 3,000 passengers in eight corridors of the TransJakarta bus
network in the first week of March of this year.
Text for a friend (August 2010)
―Feeling upset? In a bad mood? Want to find new friends? Looking for a lover? Let's share our mobile phone
numbers here :)" reads Indonesian website smslucu.net. The invitation attracted more than 400 comments from
people posting their mobile phone numbers in the hope of finding new friends. In Indonesia, where cellular phones
can cost as little as 100,000 rupiahs (US$11.10), most people now own one. According to Euromonitor International
data, the number of mobile phone subscriptions in Indonesia grew from 30.3 million to 181.3 million between 2004
and 2009, implying a per capita ownership rate of 0.8.
For Luthfy, a 22-year-old university student, making friends via text message is a way to learn about people from
other islands. He and his new friends could perhaps be seen as modern-day pen pals. He posted his number on
smslucu.net and has befriended eight people from Sumatra and Jawa. "I learn about what the other regions are like.
They have very different dialects. I know how people in Lampung speak and how Batak people in Medan speak," he
Shoppers not impressed with Jakarta Great Sale (July 2010)
The Jakarta Great Sale kicked off during mid June, with organisers expecting record revenue and numbers of
shoppers, but a last-minute advertisement campaign and disappointing discounts have left many Jakartans asking
―What sale?‖ 24-year Rachmat of South Jakarta, who moved to the city three months ago, said he had not even heard
about the event until a friend working at a participating shop told him about it: ―I never noticed any advertisement in
the papers or on TV,‖ he said. Another resident, Sylvani, who visited a department store in Central Jakarta, said the
discounted items had not interested her: She said ―Many stores offer discounts either on outdated products or rejects.
Few stores are really serious about offering price cuts.‖
Villages to be developed as tourist spots (July 2010)
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has selected 200 villages across the country as recipients of its community
empowerment fund (PNPM) in a bid to develop tourism there. Borobudur village near the world's largest Buddhist
temple in the Central Java regency of Magelang is a success story of the programme, the Ministry said: ―People in
the village were scavengers who lived under the poverty line. But now after their village has turned into a tourist
area, many tourists visit, creating many jobs,‖ said Bakri, director of the Community Empowerment Ministry.
Indonesians urged to eat less rice (July 2010)
Indonesia's Agriculture Minister Suswono has suggested that Indonesians reduce their consumption of steamed rice
by 1.5% by implementing a 'No Steamed Rice Day' programme. According to Euromonitor International data,
Indonesians consumed 32.3Kg of rice per capita in 2009, a figure considered to be too high in comparison with the
country's decreasing rice production. ―Eating is synonymous with rice. If an Indonesian does not eat rice, they feel
they haven't eaten. We need to convince people that meals can be diverse,‖ he said. However, an internet poster
commented ―This is a typical Indonesian short-cut solution. We tend to oversimplify things.‖
Young Indonesians learn Mandarin (June 2010)
A decade ago, an indigenous Indonesian, or pribumi studying Chinese would have been almost unthinkable. Now,
companies go to the University of Indonesia to recruit Chinese majors, while employment ads asking for Mandarin
skills are popping up in local newspapers. "Finding a job in Indonesia is easier if you speak Mandarin," said Mela,
who took up the language in high school after a teacher told her that China's economic development would make
Mandarin fluency valuable to employers. To meet growing demand from students and their parents, about one-fifth
of the country's universities now offer Mandarin, compared to just 5% a decade ago, according to Dendy Sugono,
who heads the Language Centre at Indonesia's Ministry of Education.
A growing number of Indonesian students are also going directly to China for educational opportunities. Amelia, one
of the relatively few pribumi to have parents who speak Mandarin, has just applied for a scholarship at a well-known
foreign languages university in Beijing: "Most of my friends from high school want to go to China to study, not the
U.S. like before," she said.
Total smoking ban in public places on the cards in Jakarta (June 2010)
Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo has announced that a city bylaw to completely ban smoking in all public buildings
will soon be finalised. The revised bylaw states that smoking areas have to be separated physically from public
buildings and cannot be located next to an entrance or exit. This would replace the current system of smoking rooms.
Dimas A Kusuma, marketing communications manager for Plaza Semanggi mall, said that the biggest challenge
would come from shoppers: ―Tenants won't complain, but customers will, because some of them are really addicted
to smoking, especially after drinking or eating.‖
City proposes a second car-free day (June 2010)
Jakarta's city administration has proposed a second car-free day in addition to the existing one every month, citing
the public's positive response to the emissions-reduction policy. Peni Susanti, head of the city environmental agency,
says ―We are drafting a new schedule to implement the car free day twice a month. Hopefully we can realise this
plan in June.‖ Currently, the car-free day is held on the last Sunday of the month. ―Many families make full use of
the car free day to improve harmony by doing sports together in the car-free zone, rather than shopping at malls,‖ he
BlackBerry fever (May 2010)
Across Indonesia, the "BlackBerry phenomenon" is taking hold, with fan clubs meeting every month at coffee shops
to swap tips and show off new models of the Research in Motion (RIM) device. "Previously, it was Nokia. Now it
has been replaced by BlackBerry," says Joegianto, who runs an online news and tips service for BlackBerry users
that has 3,000 followers.
Among affluent consumers, older mobile phone models are being dumped in favour of the sleeker, internet-enabled
Blackberry. However, while BlackBerry sales in Indonesia rose by 400% in 2009, Canadian manufacturer RIM still
has less than a million users in the country.
Millions of Indonesian women working abroad (May 2010)
The number of women leaving Indonesia for employment overseas has steadily climbed over the past decade to at
least six million, according to the National Authority for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Overseas
Workers. Most go to the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region, where they often find work as domestic servants.
As a result, many Indonesian villages have been left with a visible shortage of women, with men such as Edin in the
farming community of Banten sometimes becoming single parents for years at a time. He says ―It's very difficult.
The grandparents cannot take care of them, so it's only me.‖
Diners still paying abolished tax (May 2010)
Some local restaurants and pubs are continuing to add a 10% value-added tax to the bills of their unsuspecting
customers, even though the government abolished it last month. Tulus Abadi of the Indonesian Consumer Protection
Foundation (YLKI) blamed the confusion on the government for not informing the public about the new law. He
says that ―If consumers were well informed about it, they can complain to the restaurants for still charging the tax.‖
David ML Tobing, chairman of Adamsco Public Consumer Protection Institution, says that ―The 10% tax may be
relatively small, but that's not the point. The important thing is that consumers have the right to complain if they are
still charged for a tax that no longer exists.‖
Fancy snacking on soil anyone? (April 2010)
In Indonesia, soil is not just a raw material for bricks and ceramics; it is also a snack that one family has been
making for generations. Tuban, in the province of East Java, is the only village that produces "ampo," a snack made
from clean, gravel-free dark earth collected from nearby paddy fields. Although there is no medical evidence,
villagers believe the soil snacks are an effective painkiller, and pregnant women are encouraged to eat them as it is
believed to refine the skin of the unborn baby. There is no real recipe - rolls of dirt are baked and smoked in a large
clay pot for half an hour to be served on a stick. Fans say the soil snacks have a cool, creamy texture. "I think the
taste is nice and I eat it often," said Siti Qomariyah, a local woman who has been eating the soil snacks since she was
a child. "It is nothing special, it feels cold in my stomach."
Internet penetration expected to skyrocket (April 2010)
With Indonesia's relatively high tolerance for free media, it is expected that the country's growing online presence
will be strongly felt in the coming years. According to Euromonitor statistics, about 35 million Indonesians are
online. Although the figure represents only 15% of the country's estimated population of 232 million, it is already
enough to make Indonesia the country with the 13th highest online presence. Nasution, who has been described as
the 'father of the Indonesian blogosphere', said, ―The changes are already happening with greater distribution of
computer hardware, software and internet access. In addition, almost all new cell phones, even those costing less
than US$100, boast online connection capability. I believe we are on the brink of a major electronic revolution‖
Nasution has also dedicated much of his activity to explaining the art of blogging to his countrymen and encouraging
newcomers. ―Most Indonesians are shy to come to a meet-up alone, and the younger ones still need encouraging and
fostering their self-confidence,‖ he said.
Will the wine flow on? (April 2010)
Wine lovers in Indonesia have been sent on a rollercoaster ride of sentiments lately. Shortly after the government
announced plans to revoke the luxury tax on alcoholic beverages, there were plans to raise the duty by more than
200% - which would send liquor prices at least 40% higher. The Four Seasons Hotel's The Cellar Wine Shop
sommelier Suyanto said the price increase would have an effect on wine sales. ―In the first few months, people will
wait and see or they will consume their personal stock first before shopping for new wines.‖ Nevertheless, ―Vin+
Wine Boutique‖ marketing manager Yolanda Simorangkir said the market had been growing significantly in the last
four years despite exorbitant prices. A US$5 wine in France is sold for around US$45 in Indonesia. The relaxing of
regulations on wine distribution and the mushrooming of fine dining restaurants, wine shops and wine appreciation
clubs have contributed to the increasing interest of Indonesians in drinking wine.
The demise of standalone cinemas (March 2010)
Standalone cinemas have been in Jakarta since the early 1900s, hitting their golden period in the 1940s with more
than 100 of them across the country. Recently, however, many have been forced to close down as consumers prefer
to go to cineplexes in shopping malls, where they can shop, dine and catch a film at the integrated cinema. "That's
why so many cinemas are now in malls. It relates to a change in people's lifestyles,‖ Anitio, a senior executive at 21
Cineplex said. Lisabona Rahman, programme manager at Kineforum, an independent theatre screening classical and
contemporary movies, says the increase in the number of cinema screens across the city was in response to a
growing middle class. The public demand for more films and more screens to watch them on has grown. The older
theatres, showing mostly B-rated fare for low-income viewers, could not cope. "So when the cineplex concept was
introduced along with better-quality imported movies in the 1980s, the public really went for it because it offered
more choice," Lisabona says.
Reinstated 'Imlek' just not the same anymore (March 2010)
Back in the day, children from various ethnic backgrounds happily shouted or knocked on doors of houses of
Indonesian-Chinese around their neighbourhoods asking for red packets (containing cash tokens) distributed during
Chinese New Year – or Imlek as it is known in Indonesia. ―Imlek used to be a kind of festivity for all citizens before
it was restricted under Soeharto's New Order administration (1966-1998),‖ recalled Tedy Jusuf, an observer of
Chinese culture. Mona Lohanda, a scholar on Chinese studies, echoed similar sentiments, ―We used to pray at the
altar at our homes or temples on New Year's Eve before playing with fireworks until dawn. Unfortunately it all
disappeared with the government restriction‖ However, Mona complained that even after the government revoked
the restriction, she no longer saw the same Imlek celebrations she used to enjoy as a child. ―Imlek has turned into a
commercial event and has lost its traditional sense,‖ she said. ―We can see how festively Imlek is celebrated in malls
and shopping centres throughout Jakarta, but we no longer feel an emotional bond.‖
Backpackers find adventures in their own land (March 2010)
32-year-old Heru Hendarto loves to be on the road with fellow backpackers, exploring every corner of the
archipelago. "I first got into travelling when I was a university student. At that time I chose mountain hiking because
of my limited budget," Heru said. "It's so satisfying because we can explore the area and mingle with the local
people in our diverse country". Heru pointed out that it is actually easier and cheaper to travel to neighbouring
countries like Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand than to remote areas in Indonesia. "For example, it can cost about 6
million rupiahs (US$650) for the round trip to Central Sulawesi from Jakarta," he said. ―Hence I join a backpacking
group to get good deals‖. Being a woman does not limit housewife 23-year-old Maria Anggraeni from spending her
free time backpacking, saying that it brings a lot of interesting experiences. "I've ever been to Singapore and
Thailand, but if I have enough money, I want to see astonishing places in my country." There are a growing number
of backpacker communities in Indonesia dedicated to backpackers and travellers who want to share experiences,
look for fellow travellers and to find the best deals.
New card system makes travelling easier (February 2010)
A prepaid electronic travel ticketing system, called JakCard, may become available this month for busway and train
passengers in Jakarta. Passengers will be able to use the cards to pay for travel on the busway, or for Pakuan Express
train services between Bogor and Jakarta. ―There will be no minimum limit to credit stored on the JakCard, however,
the maximum limit is 1 million rupiahs (US$105),‖ Bank Indonesia said in a statement. The electronic ticketing
facility is likely to be adopted by five other banks to cater for a growing number of passengers. Tryse, a ticketing
officer at the Gambir II shelter, said she recently attended a workshop organised by Bank DKI on how to use the new
system at busway shelters. ―JakCard users can check their credit using a card reader. When they want to take the bus,
the ticket officer will push a button and the machine will display an instruction to place the card close to the reader,‖
Jakarta an international hub for birds (February 2010)
While bird watching may be seen as the domain of environment organisations or biology students, Jakarta, despite
its heavy pollution and traffic problems, has a lot to offer anyone with an interest in nature, a local green group says.
―Several areas in the city are in fact transit points for birds from all over the world,‖ said Ady Kristanto, a member of
environmental organization Jakarta Green Monster (JGM). The Muara Angke natural conservation area in North
Jakarta is the best place for bird watching, with 91 bird species to be found there. ―Rather than keeping birds in
cages, people should take their binoculars or cameras and see them in their natural habitat. Bird watching is really an
adventure,‖ Ady said. JGM encourages the public to join bird-watching events, with further information and
schedules available on its website. Those who prefer to tour independently can visit Angke Kapuk natural tourism
park, which is open to the public.
Eco-resorts go for a wildlife wow factor (February 2010)
While on honeymoon in Indonesia, Australian newlyweds Richard and Clair Webb decided to go somewhere truly
exotic - not a luxury resort on an idyllic beach, but an eco-friendly lodge in south Kalimantan surrounded by wild
orang-utans, one of four such places in Indonesia that try to educate guests about the environment and wildlife
conservation. "Watching these animals that are so rare, it was a really beautiful experience. It was the highlight of
our honeymoon," Clair Webb remarked. Alan Wilson, co-owner of the lodge, said the wow factor of seeing wildlife
is the drawcard for guests at his establishment and three others in Bali, Komodo National Park and Sumatra. The
Indonesian government is trying to boost tourism, and just extended the length of tourist visas to allow two-month
stays. It hopes for seven million tourists this year, still well below the level seen by nearby Singapore, Malaysia and
Big, fat weddings, Indonesian Style (January 2010)
If you want to start a lucrative business in Indonesia, consider becoming a wedding organiser. Indonesians often
spend a fortune on weddings and invite thousands of guests. A wedding is an indicator of one's social status, and
what is considered a 'small' wedding usually has about 500 people in attendance. Back in 2003, Fenny Palijama was
a housewife who was bored with staying at home. Today, she manages Kenisha, a flourishing wedding organising
business that she built with her friend Lita Erlan. ―Having been a career woman all my life before I had a child, I got
stressed out doing nothing at home,‖ said Fenny, who used to work at a law firm. ―My friends often asked me to help
them plan and organise their weddings. I thought, 'Why not turn this into a serious business?'‖ Fenny added. Among
the plethora of details that must be covered are the invitations, decorations, food and drinks, photography, wedding
gowns and suits, and even settling disputes between families. The cost of hiring a wedding organiser varies,
depending on the services required. It is usually in the region of 14 to 30 million rupiahs (US$1512 to 3240).
Commuters to get more connections to Jakarta (January 2010)
Indonesia's state-owned railway operator PT Kereta Api (KA) is to build dual tracks from the station in the Suka
Asih subdistrict to the Kota Station in West Jakarta to improve connections to Jakarta. The construction of the dual-
track line will offer commuters more frequent train arrivals and departures to and from Kota. At present, there are
only 34 commuter train trips available for the estimated 2,500 commuters going from Tangerang to Kota. ―With the
new line in place, we can have trains leaving the station every 20 minutes as opposed to the current 60-90 minutes,‖
Ministry of Railways Director Suhada said, adding that the number of commuters increased each year while the
number of trains stayed the same. Tangerang Mayor Wahidin Halim said the administration planned to extend the
proposed dual-track line up to the low-cost apartments in Karawaci, five kilometres from Tangerang Station, to reach
Building your own dream home (January 2010)
Building a dream home is a tough task in Jakarta, but searching for a dream neighbourhood may just be nigh on
impossible. "We are still looking for the right land," says Shanty Syahril, an environmental activist and member of a
group of nine families trying to bring to life the idea of cohousing. Shanty and the other members of the group have
been trying to make their cohousing dreams a reality since 2007. Cohousing is a scheme in which several families or
individuals own and manage a cluster of homes with shared communal facilities. The participatory method helps
ensure that all members have a say on what they want the complex to be like, including what facilities they need and
how the homes will be built. Shanty says one of the reasons why the families are attracted to the idea of cohousing is
their disenchantment with most of the residential estates built by major developers. "The developers do provide
facilities, but often they're not the ones we need, such as a library and a common open area for gatherings," she says.
Marco Kusumawijaya, from the rujak.org urban community and a member of Shanty's group, also points out that the
highly inflated price of land in Jakarta often becomes the obstacle in the group's effort to actualise the concept. "Not
all of us can afford to buy land at 4 million rupiahs (US$410) a square metre," he says.
Mystery shoppers evaluating customer service (December 2009)
A trip to the mall for 33-year-old Kiki Dimara is hardly considered a leisure activity - he is on a mission. He enters
branded boutiques with a mental list of what to do, what to ask and what to look for. None of the items on his list
had much to do with the product he was pretending to look for, but more with the way he would be treated as a
customer. "I felt sort of like a spy," Kiki recalled. "I mean, here I was pretending to be just another customer while in
fact I was evaluating each and every detail of the customer service interaction, especially how the sales person
responded to her customers." Kiki is no ordinary customer, but a mystery shopper. Mystery shopping, which
originally emerged during the 1940s in Western retail businesses, has started weaving the corridors of Indonesian
malls in the last couple of years. "I was given a guideline of what details I should notice on that particular visit. Is the
sales person friendly? Does the window display look neat? It depends on what aspect the company wants to
evaluate," Kiki explained. Depending on how detailed the observation report has to be, a mystery shopper receives
between 50,000 to 5 million rupiahs (US$5.30 – US$530) for each visit. The latter pay scale involves a service check
where mystery shoppers must submit a video recording of the visit.
Anything for my furry love (December 2009)
For animal lover Leony Widjaja, her Dalmatian and two terriers are like her children. She feeds them twice a day,
plays with them whenever she has time and even changes their clothes once a week. "They look cute in a T-shirt,
they're my babies. I just love choosing and changing their clothes for the week," Leony said. Like her, many pet
lovers in the country go to extremes in taking care of their furry friends, resulting in pet accessory shops sprouting
all over city malls. Petstyle is one such place in the pet-loving world. "Most of these clothes are made in Taiwan.
Owners of small dogs love them because they're cute and fashionable," said Emma, Petstyle's shop assistant. "Pet
accessories have indeed become a new trend. A lot of celebrities often take their pets to public events and more
people look after pets as a hobby," store manager Virlia Sandra said. Meanwhile, for those pet-lovers who want to
take it even further, services for pets in the city include a pet-spa where cats and dogs can have a massage, and be
part of a weight-loss programme if they have become too plump.
Computers selling well (December 2009)
Desktop and notebook computers are selling well in Indonesia this year, especially compared to neighbouring
countries, due to a relatively strong rupiah and the arrival of inexpensive netbooks. A proliferation of new netbooks,
called the 'cmini', was launched on the domestic market this year. These netbooks are small, light and inexpensive
laptop computers that can be used for general computing and accessing web-based applications via wireless or local
area network connections. The rupiah has also appreciated by more than 15% this year, making it one of the best
performers among Asian currencies. As a result, netbooks, desktop computers and notebooks, all of which are
originally priced in US dollars, have become more affordable and attractive for consumers. Netbooks are becoming
cheaper, with the average price falling from five million rupiahs (US$530) at the start of the year to less than 4
million rupiahs (US$425) this month. ―As notebook prices continue to decline, thanks to the arrival of mini
notebooks, or netbooks, they have become lifestyle items for Indonesian consumers,‖ said Handoko Andi, an analyst
at market researcher IDC.
Jakarta's new high street (November 2009)
Jakarta shoppers and diners can save a place in their hearts for a new favourite place - a 1.68-kilometer-long
shopping corridor on a street known as Casablanca, dubbed the "New Orchard Road" (the renowned shopping high
street in Singapore). The currently congested road with its poor pavements, save for a short stretch in the Mega
Kuningan area, is to be transformed into a street where pavements are wide, comfortable and dotted with street cafes.
The city administration expects to see congestion in the area ease after completion of the elevated road in 2011.
"That way, road users who don't have any business in Casablanca can use the elevated road to get to their
destination," said Wiriyatmoko, head of the Spatial Planning Agency. The city administration is also considering
including Casablanca in the Mass Rapid Transit plan for the East-West route.
Bookworms enjoy cheaper prices at annual fair (November 2009)
Lawmaker Mahfudz Shiddiq looked absorbed zipping through an array of books being displayed in a stand at the
Indonesia Book Fair held at the Jakarta Convention Centre this month. He had a quick look at the discounted
children's books, stopped to pick up a copy of Ratatouille, complete with sound and music to support the story,
among a pile of books each costing 10,000 rupiahs (US$1.15). "Book fairs always make for fun visits," Mahfudz
said. "I can buy good books for my kids. The variety here is large and the books are cheap," he added. Meanwhile,
27-year old Lutfia, a businesswoman, said that she is a frequent visitor to book fairs. "I like to buy and collect
children's storybooks and books on Islam. These are the best places to buy books because of the discounted prices,"
she said. This year, the Indonesian Book Fair's main theme is Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta is renowned as one of the
country's main educational and cultural hubs. The Jogja Book Fair, held in Yogyakarta in August, attracted more
than 80,000 visitors.
Residents pay for Jakarta's land shortage (November 2009)
With skyscrapers, shopping malls, entertainment centres, markets and roads sprouting up at an unbelievable pace
over the past quarter of a century, the Indonesian capital is incessantly gobbling up land, leading to problems and
disputes over land ownership, prices and compensation. Tiresome court hearings and regular visits to government
offices have become an unwanted part of Ayu Sinaga's life. The 28-year-old employee of a private company has had
to help her family deal with a dispute over their land, a 3,800-square-meter plot in Pondok Kopi, East Jakarta. The
land, now estimated to be worth 4.4 billion rupiahs (US$462,000), had been bought by her late father in 1974.
Despite holding all the title deeds and having faithfully paid land taxes every year, other claimants began to surface
when the government needed to purchase the land to construct the East Flood Canal. ―People don't gain from the
land acquisitions,‖ Ayu said. ―They are losing their property, and if they live there, they have to find another place to
live with the money they get — and that could be outside Jakarta.‖ Wiriatmoko, head of the city's Spatial Planning
Agency, said the city's current infrastructure plans included the East Flood Canal, a Mass Rapid Transit public
transportation network, the Marunda special economic zone, low-cost flats, road expansions and the dredging of
Ramadan boosts conspicuous consumption (October 2009)
Ramadan - Islam's holy month of fasting and reflection on the needs of the poor - is a key part of Indonesia's culture,
but growing prosperity means many people are spending their money on fine foods, expensive clothes, holidays and
lavish gifts. That has some religious leaders worried that the month of frugality is losing its relevance. It certainly
seemed to be the case at shopping malls in Jakarta, packed with out-of-town visitors looking to spend their cash. "It's
the custom in my hometown for people to buy new clothes for their family members during this time," said 35-year
old Juleha. Some shopping malls sought to attract shoppers like Juleha with signs offering discounts of as much as
70%, free parking, and longer opening hours including late-night shopping. ―We opened until later at night because
that is the right time for many Muslims to go shopping after they have spent the day observing their fast and
taraweeh - a special evening prayer during Ramadan," said Pipih Tjandra, the marketing manager at Taman Aggrek
Mall in West Jakarta. Aisah, a 50-year-old mother of three, said her sons insist on eating the finest foods at this time
of year. "My sons love to eat rendang (meat simmered in spices and coconut milk) so that's what I make for them as
a reward for them fasting at Ramadan," she said.
Airfare to Padang skyrockets (October 2009)
Passengers wishing to fly to quake-hit Padang in West Sumatra to visit relatives and family members have
complained of skyrocketing air fares, which has been sold at three times the normal price. ―As if to add insult to
injury, I was asked to pay 1.6 million rupiahs (US$150) for a one-way ticket, while normally it only costs 500,000
rupiahs (US$45). This is crazy,‖ said 35-year old Shinta Firdaus, who wished to see her relatives who were affected
by the disaster. Hana Simatupang, spokeswoman for Sriwijaya Air, blamed the skyrocketing price on opportunists
who were seeking to benefit from the rising demand. ―There are many ticket scalpers operating in the airport now
and we call on people to only buy tickets directly at our ticket counter at the airport.‖
World's biggest indoor theme park opens (October 2009)
The USA has Universal Studios and Australia has its Movie World. Now, Indonesia is proud to have its own Trans
Studio. The indoor theme park, which opened this month in Indonesia, is billed as the world's biggest. The 2.2
hectare park is located not on mainland Java but in Makassar, South Sulawesi. The iconic Hollywood sign, and
almost everything that is synonymous with American popular culture, can be found at the new Indonesian theme
park. Visitors pay US$10 to enjoy the park's 21 attractions. A visitor, Rahman Manueussara, said, ―It will provide
lots of employment and it is very good for South Sulawesi. But the ticket price is too expensive for the majority of
the people in Makassar, in particular those from South Sulawesi. Another visitor, Jackie, said, "We have to think not
only of Makassar, but about Kalimantan, attracting people from Java Island which is an area that has more buying
Premium-class trains offer lap of luxury (September 2009)
Indonesia's state-run train operator PT Kereta Api (KA) is offering a new standard for Jakartans who wish to return
to their hometowns in luxury this Idul Fitri (a major festival for Muslims), which will fall on the 21st and 22nd of
this month. KA is offering its luxury carriages, usually reserved for high-ranking officials, to passengers who can
afford not to join the packed, cheaper carriages and who do not want to queue for tickets. Tickets for a seat on the
premium class carriages are priced at 500,000 rupiahs (US$50) each, for which passengers will get extra seating
space, a mini bar, karaoke machine and cleaner toilets. Previously, passengers were only permitted to book seats on
the trains, dubbed "Kereta Wisata" or "Pleasure Trip Trains", for group trips. However, the company has made
individual reservations for the newly dubbed "Premium Class" carriages available since July this year for the
Jakarta-Surakarta (Central Java) route and back. Sony Panji Wicaksono, a Jakartan who intends to return to his
hometown in Weleri, Central Java, to enjoy the festivities this year, said that it was almost impossible to get train
tickets at this time of the month. "Last year, I was lucky because I was in the train station when they announced that
extra trains were coming," he said. However, there has been little demand for seats for the premium class. "It is way
too pricey for me," Menil Poerwatma, a mother of two said. "I would rather take the plane."
Low-cost dream weddings (September 2009)
Everybody wants a memorable wedding, even those who do not have much money will attempt to make the day
wonderful. 58-year-old Juri, who makes money from selling vegetables at the market, said he could get together no
more than 10 million rupiahs (US$1,000) to organise his daughter's wedding. ―Since we don't have much money, we
finally decided to just handle the catering and hand over the other arrangements to a wedding organiser
recommended by one of my neighbours. It saved us a lot of money," he said. In West Jakarta, 36 year-old Anto
recalled how a similar service had helped him save his "precious" day 10 years ago. With only three million rupiahs
(US$300) to spare, he contacted a newly opened small wedding organiser near his house and picked the cheapest
wedding package they offered. "I don't know how they did it, but they certainly took care of everything, even at that
price," Anto said, smiling. Nina Hartiani, owner of Nisa Wedding Service in Radio Dalam, South Jakarta, shared her
experience. "It is actually our job to make our clients' dreams come true, but the most important thing is we have to
remind them how to make it work within their budget." Starting her business as a low-cost wedding organiser 10
years ago, Nina has seen her business expand. She has a rule that the couple who pick a low-cost package can only
wear the wedding costumes that are available at her office on that day.
Office workers wish for more parks in city (September 2009)
Where to go for lunch in Jakarta? Those working in Jakarta's city areas face this question every day, and the answers
are more or less predictable depending on the person's taste. "A shopping mall," some may reply, "because then we
can go window shopping". "Street vendors are cheap and relatively OK, particularly because I am short of cash at the
moment", others say. One rarely explored option however is eating your lunch in a city park. Each district of Jakarta
has its open green space. However, they are difficult to find, may be far from the office and overall generally too
inconvenient to consider eating lunch in every day. A journalist named Alwin, who works in downtown Jakarta,
said, ―I wish the Jakarta administration would stop issuing permits for malls and instead encourage the development
of more parks. That way, more and more people would be heading down out of the building at lunch to enjoy the
outdoors of our city!‖ The biggest CBD garden, located at the Sampoerna towers in the Sudirman business area,
finally opened this week after a 2-year makeover but not to public.
More sales and venues for the sale season (August 2009)
The annual Jakarta Great Sale (JGS) festival, which will run through to August the 18th, is offering discounts in
shops located outside shopping malls too. The month-long occasion has also provided more events, competitions,
special packages and price cuts for family recreation sites, restaurants and spas. "This year we want to expand this
event to include more merchants to attract more domestic and foreign tourists to Jakarta," Indonesian Shopping
Centres Association chief Andreas Kartawinata said. There will also be a culinary festival every week, featuring
traditional food at several restaurants.
Consumers prefer hypermarkets to traditional markets (August 2009)
As purchasing power and demand for modern conveniences rises among average Indonesians, it is questionable
whether shoppers that increasingly choose to frequent clean, air-conditioned supermarkets will return to muggy,
rough-and-tumble wet markets. Most late-night runs to the local mini-market are made for unremarkable reasons,
like grabbing a bag of potato crisps to ease the midnight munchies or picking up a pack of cigarettes. But Trade
Minister Mari Elka Pangestu had a different goal for her 11pm stop at Alfa Midi Otista in East Jakarta. During an
impromptu visit, the minister said she wanted to get a feel for why modern convenience stores like Alfa Midi have
been sprouting up across the country in recent months, and begin to understand what the trend means for the nation's
traditional vendors. ―We have to improve the image of traditional markets so they can compete fairly with modern
ones,‖ she said. While many Indonesians express a fondness for the unique shopping culture of their neighbourhood
'pasar', it is unclear whether that will decide where their money goes.
Families switch off on “No TV Day” (August 2009)
At least 12,000 Indonesians pledged their support for the No TV Day on 26th July in a bid to reduce children's
exposure to low-quality television programmes. For one day, thousands of families failed to tune in to infotainment
presenters espousing the latest showbiz-spin, hours of slapstick comedy or people confronting their cheating partners
on reality TV shows. According to the country's Children's Media Development Foundation, Indonesian children in
cities watched 30 to 35 hours of television a week or 1,600 hours a year, more than they spent studying at school. A
concerned parent said that in recent years, the programmes that were dangerous for children were magical shows.
"Even though these shows are aired at night, there is also a children's version. With children being very curious,
showing dangerous scenes such as people being unharmed by sharp knives still gives them the wrong idea.‖ For
fifth-grader Zahrah Diva Shasya, the idea of not watching television for a day did not bother her. She said she liked
to watch cartoons for two hours daily, but would not mind not watching them. "I like to read story books, so if I don't
watch television, I read books," she said.
Shopping the night away (July 2009)
The promotional strategy of extended shopping hours, known as midnight shopping in marketing speak, is all the
rage in Indonesian retail currently. The first reported event was held in 2005 by Hypermart Lippo Karawaci. Since
then, other malls have picked up on the trend and created their own similar events. In June and July this year alone,
at least two shopping malls held such events under the umbrella of the Jakarta Great Sale. "I haven't bought a single
new shirt in three months, but I am sacrificing my sleep tonight to come here as the idea of shopping till midnight is
exciting" said 33-year-old Hans Yanuardi, a legal officer. Some say it is an innovative way of boosting sales during
times of economic crisis, while others call it a marketing gimmick. But for the still eager-to-consume members of the
middle to upper classes, like Hans, it is a bargain one just cannot afford to miss. The atmosphere builds a sort of
contagious euphoria, even among those who are not really doing much shopping. "You could say it is a trend," M.
Sochirin, the head of the Indonesian Shopping Centre Association steering committee said. "As usual, if something
like this works the first time, many will tend to follow it."
A night at the movies – at home (July 2009)
Going to the movies is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in Indonesia, whether for families, dating
couples or young professionals seeking an escape from workplace stress. And now, with technological leaps for
home entertainment units, it also has a serious competitor - the living room. Sandy, who runs and owns a shop in
Mangga Dua Mall in Central Jakarta, has embraced the growing trend for Jakartans to dedicate a room in their house
to film watching. "I don't have to queue for a ticket, look for a parking spot, and I can watch my favourite movie any
time I want," Sandy says. While not all film lovers are taking their hobby that far, retailers and analysts agree that
the home entertainment market is booming. Hollywood-style screening rooms are becoming increasingly common.
In the past, a home system was well out of reach for the ordinary family on a tight budget. While prices for top-of-
the-range systems might still have some jaws dropping, new products coming out all the time mean movie lovers can
now find something to suit their taste and budget. "Those on a budget usually choose their components separately
and have them fitted together," says deputy editor of Audio Video magazine Budi Santoso.
Online bookstores aim to be more reliable and credible (July 2009)
With many Indonesian bookworms still unfamiliar with buying books online, the management of online bookstores
have put more effort into campaigning for the safety and reliability of their services to attract customers and enhance
sales. Mula Harahap, a book marketing expert, said that although the number of internet users in Indonesia had
grown rapidly within the last decade, online bookstores had yet to play a major role in selling books as people still
have doubts about the reliability of online transactions. ―Most Indonesians are cash-and-carry customers. Many have
never used online stores because they think buying something on the internet is complicated and unsafe,‖ said
Harahap. The number of internet users in Indonesia has increased rapidly over the last decade. According to
Euromonitor International data, the country currently has over 15 million internet users, over 10 million more than in
1999. This rapid growth has also facilitated the growth of online bookstore businesses; from only 10 online
bookstores in 2004, the country now has over 100.
Cafes offering free Wi-Fi popular (June 2009)
27-year-old Sastro Gozali is one of many Jakartans who enjoy free wireless internet access at some of Jakarta's many
hotspots. An entrepreneur, he works for himself and is extremely mobile. Sastro said that using Wi-Fi connections in
cafes was not that popular two years ago and that those networks that were available were not free. ―Things are
different now - time is everything. If I have a couple of meetings with clients, rather than going back to my office, I
can wait while working in a coffee shop or a restaurant for one or two hours before continuing to the next meeting.
I'm sure a lot of people do the same thing.‖ Wi-Fi hotspot providers such as Telkom, Indosat M2, and CBN have
expanded the number of hotspots they provide in Jakarta in recent years. Information and communication technology
expert Ario Suryo Kusumo said that businesses have to provide Wi-Fi connections to attract more consumers. ―With
internet surfers coming to malls, cafes and shops, businesses get added value in terms of marketing or attracting
visitors,‖ he said.
Old Town given new boost (June 2009)
Tourists visiting the popular Old Town in Jakarta will soon be able to relish a new activity rather than just visit
museums and heritage buildings. The Old Town Association and the West Jakarta municipality will launch a nightly
tourism event as of July that runs from 5pm to midnight to promote local culinary and traditional arts. Ella Ubaidi of
the Old Town Association said the night tourism event would give the Old Town a new atmosphere of excitement.
―Most people are only familiar with museums and heritage buildings when they visit the Old Town. In fact, they can
discover many cultures,‖ Ella said, adding that Old Town was once a melting pot of various traditions including
Chinese, Portuguese and Arabic.
American-style reality TV a hit with viewers (June 2009)
On Indonesia's hottest reality TV show, participants are reunited with long-lost friends and loved ones. On another
show, a family going through a rough stretch is chosen for an extensive home makeover. These programmes are
from Indonesia's rich and ever-growing array of reality television shows with Indonesian faces and backdrops but
American roots. They have become so popular that they recently displaced soap operas as the country's ratings
leaders and are exploring every subgenre of reality television, like talent contests and dating shows plus other social
experiments. ―I'm not surprised that they've become popular, but I'm surprised at how huge their ratings are,‖ said
Indriena Basarah, general manager for Asia for Fremantle Media. Currently, there are 79 Indonesian reality
television shows made by local production companies. The current ratings champion is ―Termehek-Mehek,‖ which
roughly means ―Sobbing‖. This show reunites people from long-lost relatives to wives abandoned by their husbands
in highly emotional and often confrontational settings.
Consumers buying less at malls during the crisis (May 2009)
The sight of the crowd in front of the entrance to Senayan City mall in South Jakarta queuing to buy discounted
Crocs - branded plastic shoes and sandals - since 7am despite the mall's 10am opening time seems unusual, as malls
in Jakarta rarely get this crowded. However, to many shoppers and retailers, this sight may well become a norm, as
the middle class begins to feel the pinch of the global financial crisis. ―Before the crisis, I could change my branded
hand bags once every three or four months. It's been more than six months since the crisis hit and I'm still using my
4-month-old Guess handbag and wallet,‖ said Sri Mulyani, a middle-aged single woman working in multi-channel
marketing. The trend that has spread throughout Jakarta - malls becoming places to see-and-to-be-seen in rather than
places to shop in - has seemingly accelerated since the crisis hit. According to a January Bank Indonesia report,
clothing retailers experienced an 8.8% decline in November alone. Sinta Ratnasari, a sales and promotion assistant
who has been working at a clothing shop in an upmarket South Jakarta Mall for two years, agreed clothing retailers
were still feeling the pain. She said small stores like hers had to put big sale signs on their windows to avoid their
customer numbers dwindling even further.
A touch of the supernatural for urban markets (May 2009)
An event organiser brought psychics to a mall for a weeklong exhibition in a bid to tap into a niche market for
clairvoyants and healers in urban Jakarta. Event organiser Crescendo Creative brought 12 psychics from across the
country to exhibit their expertise in fortune telling and alternative healing at a food court in Plaza Tendean, South
Jakarta. "These are suburban areas where a lot of people believe in mystical things. This is the first time that we held
it in an urban environment because we believe there's a market that has yet to be captured," said Ignatius from the
organisation. "Some people just found out about the event on the fourth day. More people are coming, so we're going
to extend it if the mall management agrees," he added. Indonesians, especially those living in small town rural areas,
believe strongly in the paranormal.
Green idealists struggle for sustainable living in Jakarta (May 2009)
People opting for an environmentally friendly lifestyle in Jakarta will find this mission quite a challenge. There are
minimum facilities for pedestrians, the phenomenon of traffic that is 'unfriendly' to non-motorised vehicles such as
bicycles, and bad public transportation. In a Googlegroups internet mailing list called GreenLifestyle, moderator
Armely Meiviana wrote about her experience receiving paper bags for each of the small rolls she bought at a bakery.
"Considering a lot of customers buy 'certain bread brands' in large amounts, I'm perturbed. Why don't they provide
bags or boxes in bigger sizes?‖ Armely wrote. She urged other online mailing list subscribers to ask bakery staff to
ask for a bigger bag for all the bread they purchased. Launched in 2007, the group now has 995 members, a website
and a talk show on GreenRadio 89.2 FM. Community-based green groups in Jakarta have mushroomed in the past
few years. Besides GreenLifestyle community, other groups include Bike2Work, a community whose members
brave the city traffic and pollution by cycling to work; the Jakarta Green Map community, a volunteer-based group
producing maps of Jakarta's green areas, and Jakarta Greenmonster, a community that works on conserving the city's
northern coastal area.
Party continues after hours (April 2009)
In Tangerang, a city 20km west of Jakarta, the fun does not end when shopkeepers pull down their steely roller doors
at night. At the Summarecon Mall, the evening lives on with nightly live music from jazz to rock 'n' roll, letting
shoppers have fun all night long. The stretch, called Downtown Walk, is framed by a string of outdoor eateries lit by
hanging lamps. The quaint location has become an affordable hangout place for families and friends to socialise and
enjoy the festive evening air. Besides delicious food, nightly live music performances have become the downtown
draw card. "I like the ambience a lot because it is outdoors. It is more refreshing than some smoky bar or cafe,"
remarked Peter, a local business owner, while listening to the Tuesday night tunes and enjoying the local pizza.
There are several culinary options, with a wide range of medium-priced restaurants. From franchised chains like
Pizza Hut, Secret Recipes and Sagoo, to little hidden noodle houses that have become the favourite of Sumatrans.
Art Fair '09 still painting a rosy picture (April 2009)
The global financial crisis seems to have been completely forgotten by art collectors at the Art Fair 2009 held in
Jakarta this month, with bustling transactions and not the faintest hint of a financial crash around the corner. Art
connoisseur Christiana Gow confidently said the financial crisis was having very little impact on the art market in
the country. "No, the financial crisis is something else. I know people who love art as a hobby and an investment and
they will go for it even at times when a lot of people say it's a bad time to buy." She added that even in a crisis there
are people who still can take advantage of the soaring US dollar rate. From her observation there are new faces
buying works of art, so there are ―nouveau riche‖ buyers seemingly benefiting from the crisis. Showcasing more
than 100 works, Art Fair 2009 involves seven galleries. "Location is one of the keys to marketing. Jakarta's ever
growing shopping malls make it easier to grab people. Some may not be art collectors, but if they have money and
go mall ratting one afternoon, then look around the gallery, they may decide to take one or two paintings as a future
investment,‖ Christiana pointed out.
Massage for weary shoppers a hit (April 2009)
Visitors to shopping malls across Jakarta are warming to recently mushrooming massage businesses, even those that
offer no therapists. If they are in a rush or too busy for an hour-long massage, there is always the option of an instant
one - the automatic massage chair. For only 10,000 rupiahs, (US$1), visitors can even pamper their weary legs in 15
minutes by just sitting in the chair. Shoppers at the ITC Permata Hijau shopping centre in South Jakarta are already
familiar with this kind of equipment. Ranti, 60, said she usually dropped in on the Insani massage chair booth during
her shopping trips there. "I really enjoy this chair. It offers a reflexology treatment for my body. It massages my
head, back and legs." Insani employee Herry said they get about 50 customers a day over the weekend, and that
there's often a queue for a massage treatment. The phenomenon has not escaped the attention of Rachmat, a medical
doctor specialising in traditional Chinese healing, including acupuncture and reflexology. "I see many outlets that
don't have qualified therapists. A good therapist is one who has participated in a string of qualifying massage
training course," he said. "So you should check on the reflexology outlet before you give it a try." However, he
added that automatic massage chairs can be quite effective in relieving body tension.
Malls see plenty of shoppers but few sales (March 2009)
With opulent attractions from children's rides and slippery slides to faux-European boulevards, the massive malls of
Jakarta are attracting plenty of visitors - but few buyers. Strolling in the exclusive Plaza Indonesia mall and wearing
chic European brands, 22-year-old Ira and a group of female friends may look like frequent shoppers at the mall's
boutiques, but they are not interested in buying. "We like coming to the mall, it's a great place to meet friends and
look at shops and even have a meal or coffee, but very rarely do me or my friends actually buy anything from the
shops," Ira said. It has become a common trend throughout Indonesia, where mall retail sales are dropping, but not
the number of window-shoppers, as the global financial crisis rolls in. Bank Danamon chief economist Anton
Gunawan said: ―With around 100 malls up and running in Jakarta and another 10 on the way, Jakarta is just plain
New fruit hybrids to be launched (March 2009)
What would durian ("thorny fruit" in Indonesian) be without its thorns, or rambutan ("hairy fruit") without its curls?
New names will be needed for the new varieties of fruit that will be released this year by the Mekarsari tourism park
in Jonggol, West Java, the head of the park's special project development division, Reza Tirtawinata, said. The
exciting project will give Jakartans and other visitors a chance to savor new kinds of fruits, such as durian without
thorns, skinless jackfruit, round jackfruit, red mangosteens, small-seeded longans, and new varieties of guava and
pineapple. The 264-hectare park, located east of Jakarta, has a collection of 78 fruit families comprising 400 species
and 1,700 varieties of fruit. The tourism park is also a fruit research and conservation centre, enjoying high profit
levels with up to 1.6 million visitors last year.
Jakarta to revive tourism in 1,000 islands regency (March 2009)
After more than a decade of tourism malaise on the Thousand Islands regency, Jakarta has plans in store for a
revival. The city administration will procure more accessible public transportation to serve the regency, including
enlarging its airport runway from 930 meters to 1,400 meters to allow bigger planes to land at the airport, first built
in 1990. The islets have faced a tourism crisis in the last 10 years, with rising tourism business owners going
bankrupt due to the decline in visitor numbers to the regency's resorts. Culture and Tourism Agency head Arie
Budhiman said the administration would try to provide cheap public transportation there. ―People are reluctant to go
to the Thousand Islands because it's so hard to get there. We're considering securing better access to the area,‖ he
said. Every islet has its own attractions. Pramuka, for instance, is famous for its raptors (birds of prey) while Pelangi
is known for its golf course. In the 1980s, the Thousand Islands ranked third on a list of the world's best islands, but
are now renowned for their polluted surroundings.
More food spots in Central Jakarta (February 2009)
Tourists and locals will soon be able to indulge themselves at dedicated culinary centres in several parts of Central
Jakarta. Central Jakarta Mayor Sylviana Murni said her office would build dedicated areas for food counters in five
areas of Central Jakarta in order to lure tourists to the area. Sylviana laid the first stone to start construction of the
first project in Kebon Sirih. Instead of street vendor carts clogging up the streets, the centres will offer food counters
and stalls forming part of a more organised and space-saving concept.
Revving up for car-free days (February 2009)
Jakarta Environmental Management Board (BPLHD) will start expanding its Car Free Day Programme in March
with each municipality holding two car-free Sundays a month. "Each of the five municipalities will take turns in
participating. On car-free days, locals stretch their legs for some exercise with organisations opening booths to
campaign for environmental awareness and sporting clubs take to the streets to play games like futsal (small-sided
football). According to BPLHD, the programme effectively improves air quality around the host area on the day.
Despite the achievement, BPLHD is still reluctant to expand the programme to include Saturdays and weekdays. "It
is harder to raise public awareness amongst people who are heading to work," Head of BPLHD, Peni Susanti, said.
"On Sunday, people are more relaxed, so it is easier to raise their environmental awareness. We are thinking about
holding the event on Saturdays, but not this year."
First Holiday Inn in Indonesia opened in Bali (February 2009)
Bali will become the first location in Indonesia to have a Holiday Inn resort. On the ―Island of the Gods‖, the
beachfront Holiday Inn Resort Baruna Bali is named after Baruna, the Balinese God of the Ocean. Appealing to
families and couples alike, the resort is situated in the secluded enclave of Tuban, a 10-minute drive from the airport,
and a short stroll away from the vibrant shopping and entertainment area of Kuta. ―We are raising the bar and
redefining the next generation of Holiday Inn Resorts serving the next generation of guests,‖ said general manager
Tourist figures up (January 2009)
Indonesia's foreign tourist arrivals rose 9.9% in November compared to a year ago, as some holidaymakers switched
from Thailand and India because of safety concerns. The number of foreign tourists for the first 11 months rose
12.8% to 5.62 million, boosted by arrivals to the resort island of Bali, but still below the government's full-year
target of seven million visitors. In November, 524,162 foreign tourists visited Indonesia, up from 476,800 a year
Popular recreational areas have reached breaking point (January 2009)
Despite overburdened recreational areas in Jakarta over the year-end holidays, city officials say there are currently
no plans to develop additional public family spots or encourage the private sector to invest in these facilities. Jakarta
residents once again found themselves trapped among throngs of people and stuck in paralysing traffic as they
brought their families to popular outdoor facilities over the past fortnight. South Jakarta's Ragunan Zoo, an open
space that functions largely as a municipal park, turned away hundreds of visitors on New Year's Day. ―We were not
allowed to get in because it is full‖, a visitor was quoted as saying as she and her children left the zoo. Other major
recreational areas such as Ancol Dreamland in North Jakarta and the Taman Mini Indonesian Indah in East Jakarta
were also crammed with visitors during the holiday season.
Commuters want a better train service (January 2009)
Commuters to Jakarta who live in Bogor and Depok have urged the Government to improve the quality of trains,
which according to them are getting worse each day and need to be repaired immediately. "We rely on the train, but
the service is poor," complained Nina, 42, a single parent. Nina said most trains, especially economy-class trains,
were in a bad condition. The cars are badly maintained, dirty and strewn with rubbish. The cars are often overloaded
with passengers every morning and afternoon. Many middle class workers have to move to Depok, Bojong Gede,
Citayam and Cilebut, Jakarta satellite cities, for lower housing prices. Kurniadi from the Jakarta Train Company said
it was campaigning to encourage people to leave their private vehicles at home and take the train instead. The
company has set a target of 2.2 million people travelling by train by 2012. "There are at least 400,000 people using
the route today. We tried to make double tracks to accommodate more trains," he said.
No price cut for fuel, kerosene (December 2008)
The Indonesian government announced it would not cut the prices of subsidised diesel oil and kerosene, which are
currently 5,500 rupiahs (US$0.46) and 2,500 rupiahs (US$0.21) a litre respectively. Head of the Legal Affairs and
Public Relations Bureau at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry Sutisna Prawira said that even though the
price of subsidised petrol will be lowered, prices of diesel fuel and kerosene will remain the same. Critics have urged
the government to lower the price of subsidised diesel fuel by 500 rupiahs (US$0.04) a litre to help consumers and to
boost the economy.
Spirits drying up in Jakarta (December 2008)
Jakarta's food and beverage retail industry is struggling with a shortage in imported products, before an anticipated
increase in demand for the goods during the year-end holidays. Laura, the marketing executive of VIN+ wine shop in
Kemang, South Jakarta, said liquor such as whiskey was in short supply, but the shop still had enough wine to meet
demand until the New Year. Rudy Sumampouw, secretary general of the Indonesian retailers association (Aprindo),
confirmed the scarcity in imported food and beverages. "Demand for liquor and imported food is likely to increase
towards the end of the year, especially in tourist destinations such as Jakarta, Bali and Yogyakarta," Rudy said.
Consumers, especially expatriates, are also facing the impact of the scarcity. Sachin Gopalan, an Indian national,
said it was very difficult to buy imported food. "We either stock up or get someone to bring it from Malaysia or
Singapore," Sachin said. He explained that there were a number of food items from home that helped ease his
homesickness when overseas. "It's already part of our lifestyle. When it is not available, we feel further from home,"
City dwellers going for farm fresh milk (December 2008)
More Jakarta residents are going to Pondok Rangon, East Jakarta, to get fresh milk directly from farmers. With more
than 40 cows producing more than 200 litres of fresh milk every day, Rochmani's farm is becoming a popular spot.
"I sell the milk at a price of between 8,000 rupiahs (US$0.60)) and 10,000 rupiahs (US$0.80) per litre," Rochmani
said. Many locals opt for fresh milk because it is considered healthier and more natural than other kinds of milk. The
milk, which is good for 10 hours at room temperature, is seldom sold at markets or shops. "I like fresh milk because
it is healthy and the taste is so great," Ericson Hutabarat, a Bekasi resident, said. "It is fresher and it does not contain
hazardous chemicals," Rika, a Depok resident concurred.
Upmarket department store opens in Jakarta despite the credit crisis (November
As Asia prepares for an impending economic slowdown, an upmarket department store has opened in Jakarta. The
store is aiming to meet the growing demand for luxury goods among the richest segment of Indonesia's population. It
took four years of intense negotiations to bring Harvey Nichols to Jakarta. The 3-storey luxury department store
filled with branded goods is targeted at the top-end Indonesian consumer, believed to represent about 1% of the
population. That is around 200,000 super rich Indonesians who traditionally do their shopping in Singapore and
Hong Kong. Even though the dark clouds of recession are moving slowly but surely to Asia, Harvey Nichols is still
confident it can break even in three years. Director of Harvey Nichols in Jakarta, Alan Thomson, said, "Our first
strategy is how do we sell more goods to our customers and how do we do that by cutting costs." This is good news
for Indonesia's retail sector but less so for neighbouring Singapore and Hong Kong - long considered a shopping
haven for well-heeled Indonesians. With the higher exchange rate and more expensive airfares, the presence of stores
like Harvey Nichols will certainly give Indonesians more reason to shop at home.
No to plastic bags, but yes to boxes (November 2008)
Replacing plastic bags with reusable bags is an ascendant trend nowadays, but some enterprising companies in
Indonesia are turning to used cardboard boxes in their quest to be greener. "We offer the cardboard boxes to
customers who buy in bulk. It's easier for them to carry and saves on plastic bags. The customers also don't have to
pay to be green," Lany Budianto, executive director of supermarket chain PT Lion Super Indo, said. If customers
find the boxes too unfashionable though, there is an alternative. More presentable reusable plastic bags, made of
woven polyethylene, are offered for 10,000 rupiahs (US$0.92) at every branch. "We hope the customers come back
with their own bags so they no longer need to use normal plastic bags," Lany added. This practice is being taken up
by other stores, including Carrefour and Aksara, while the latter's own canvas bags have become fashion statements
in their own right among students.
Youngsters urge peers to go greener (November 2008)
A group of children in Indonesia are encouraging their peers to adopt green lifestyles through a long list of
suggestions, dubbed the Let's Be Greener declaration, organised and held by children's magazine Bobo. "Bring a
lunch box or a reusable food container when you want to buy food from vendors," read one of the participants at the
closing of the annual Children's Conference. "Reducing your usage of hot water and air conditioners are simple ways
of preventing the effects of global warming,‖ he added. Thirty-six children from various provinces gathered in
Jakarta for a conference and workshop on environmental issues.
Consumer body to test imported food (October 2008)
In order to protect consumers' rights, the Indonesian Consumers Foundation, YLKI, plans to conduct laboratory tests
on imported food items which are suspected of containing hazardous chemical materials. The foundation announced
the plan following the disclosure that food items were feared to contain melamine-tainted Chinese dairy products, a
material which is commonly found in plastics, cleaning agents and fertilizers. "Consumers can report suspected
products, and we will do a laboratory test on them to make sure the products are safe," said Soedaryatmo from
YLKI. Several weeks ago, Jakartans were shocked after the government announced that 28 products circulating in
local markets were suspected of containing melamine-tainted Chinese dairy products. The public is expected to
participate in the plan not only by reporting suspicious food products, but also by giving donations for the laboratory
Cemetery latest attraction for family outings (October 2008)
Jakarta's latest family attraction, a 500 hectare park complete with basketball court, swimming pool, Italian
restaurant and man-made lake, has an unusual feature - it is actually a cemetery. The developer of the San Diego
Hills Park, an hour's drive from the city, claims that it is the world's first graveyard with recreational facilities, the
aim being to create a cemetery catering as much to the living as to the dead. San Diego Hills' director of sales and
marketing, Manny Francisco, says that besides providing a fun day out, the park's attractions ensure that people keep
coming back to pay their respects to the dead. To ensure that relatives do not grow bored with the same old features,
the park continues to add attractions. After they have tended their relatives' graves, visitors will soon be able to take
rowing boats out on the eight hectare lake, or splash out on a barge party while enjoying the scenery.
Jakarta to launch urban park connector (October 2008)
A group of citizens and the Jakarta city administration have teamed up to develop a special lane for non-motorised
vehicles and pedestrians between two of the city's parks. Urban planning expert Nirmono Yoga said that the lane
would go from Monas Park to Senopati Park (Central Jakarta) and would open next month. "The lane uses existing
green lanes. We will put up traffic signs to notify road users such as pedestrians and cyclists," Yoga said. He said the
lane would serve as a pilot project for future developments, with the goal of connecting all 800 parks across Jakarta.
Resiti Suhartini, deputy country director of the UN-funded Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, said
it was a brilliant idea. She suggested that the city could integrate the connectors with the Busway network. "The
Busway network needs to attract more passengers who do not rely on motorised vehicles," Restiti said.
Commuters hoping for better train services (September 2008)
Commuter hopes for a better train service in the Greater Jakarta area are riding on the newly established PT KA
Jabodetabek (KAJ), a subsidiary of state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api (KA). "We hope that with this
spin-off, the train company will be able to concentrate on giving a better service to commuters," said Agus
Imansyah, a member of KRL Mania, an electric train user's community group. "For us, train delay is the major
problem. It happens so often. The delays might be caused by train malfunctions so we hope the old trains can be
replaced," he added. KA separated its Jabodetabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi) division from its
other operations on August 13th and will transfer all train operations to the new subsidiary on January 1st next year.
Some commuters think KAJ should focus on operations and open up to competition. In the wake of fuel price
increases, the company added late evening services for the 300,000 people commuting between Jakarta and
Sellers stock up during Ramadan (September 2008)
Fruit and vegetable sellers in Jakarta are trying to predict what Muslims will stock up on in preparation for the
fasting month. "I will reduce the stock of leafy vegetables and shift to potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, yard-long beans
and other products this season," said Arnol, who has been a vegetable seller in Palmerah Market since 1984. "During
Ramadan, people like to consume soup and curried vegetables. They also eat more desserts so I will stock up more
on sweet potatoes, timun suri (a type of cucumber) and kolang kaling (processed sugar palm fruit)," he added. Big
retailers have their own strategies. Farmer's Market, a supermarket, caters to the needs of the season by selling all-in-
one vegetable packs designed for use in local recipes, including sayur asem (soup with tamarind) and sayur lodeh
(vegetable soup with coconut milk). Dates from the Middle East and seaweed also traditionally receive extra
attention during the fasting month.
Enforcement of smoking bans weak (September 2008)
Smoking in public places has been banned in Jakarta since 2005, but the city administration has been reluctant to
enforce the bylaw and sanction violators, the Indonesian Consumers' Foundation (YLKI) said. "Enforcement is
weak. Nobody is punished for smoking in public places," the coordinator of tobacco control at YLKI, Tulus Abadi,
told reporters recently. According to the city's air pollution control bylaw, smoking is banned in certain public or
populated places, including healthcare facilities, schools, on public transportation, and in places of worship and the
workplace. People continue to ignore the bylaw because they believed they will not be punished for lighting up in
supposedly non-smoking areas. YLKI's recent poll shows most respondents support the smoke-free policy because
cigarette smoke causes air pollution, unpleasant smells, headaches and eye irritation. Psychologist Liza Marielly D.
said cigarette ads create messages in viewers' unconscious memories which encourage them to try or buy the
advertised cigarette. "Many tobacco companies sponsor sports and music events, attracting children, teens and young
adults, and many films show prominent actors smoking, sending the message that smoking is cool and that
everybody does it," she said.
From trash to fashion pieces (August 2008)
In a country where recycling facilities are virtually non-existent, used detergent labels and toothpaste tubes are going
from landfills to fashion frills on bags and wallets sold in Singapore, Australia and the United States. The fad known
as ―trashion‖ has gained mainstream acceptance with chic, urban designers worldwide now posting big profits by
using leftover, discarded and found materials to create jewellery, clothing and house wares. In Indonesia, where half
the population of 235 million live on less than US$2 a day, homemakers, disabled workers and local entrepreneurs
are the ones embracing the eco-friendly fashion. The goal, they say, is to reduce pollution while providing jobs to the
poorest of the poor. Ann Wizer, director of the Jakarta-based non-profit design venture XS Project, says her goal is
to raise awareness about waste production and environmental degradation. She urged consumers to be aware of
businesses that appear green but are actually business ventures.
Students join green movement (August 2008)
About 250 students participated in the Bike to School cycling campaign promoting the riding of bicycles to school to
reduce vehicle use. Arif Restu Septian, chairman of the event's organizing committee, said riding to school was one
of the many small actions young people could do to help curb global warming. "Most teenagers prefer to use motor
vehicles to commute, and with so many teenagers in Bogor, imagine the pollution they cause," he said. "It was great
and fun, although it was tiring," said Cynthia Ayu Amelia, a student at the event. The number of people in the
greater Jakarta area who commute by bicycle on a daily basis continues to rise. Ramadhani Achdiawan from Bike to
Work Bogor said there were currently an estimated 1500 people who commuted by bicycle. Achdiawan commented
that the current bicycle lane was inadequate but a Bogor administration official said there was no room on the city's
streets to build exclusive bicycle lanes.
Museum tour of Indonesia's financial history (August 2008)
A night tour of the Bank Mandiri Museum provides a glimpse into fashion trends and dining etiquette in 1940's
Indonesia, as well as insights into the country's early banking system. The museum, built on a 22,000-square-metre
plot in the Old Town section of North Jakarta, has an extensive collection of banking-related memorabilia, such as
old coins, commercial papers, typewriters and accounting books, some of which weigh up to 20 kg. "The bank was
meant to assist with exports from Indonesia, which was under a forced farming policy called ―cultuur stelsel‖, and to
develop Indonesia's market for Dutch products, especially agricultural and handicraft products," according to the
museum's exhibition catalogue.
Serial killing village draws tourists (August 2008)
Indonesian tourists are flocking to the small village of Jatiwates in East Java, lured by the grisly attraction of a
suspected serial killer whose victims were found in a backyard. Police have arrested Very Idam Henyansyah, who
they allege killed at least 11 men and women. Police also said he admitted, then denied, carrying out the murders.
The case has been front page news for several weeks, in a country where the media do not hesitate to display gory
photos of crime and accident victims. Hundreds of people descended on Jatiwates, about 640 km from the capital
Jakarta to watch as police exhumed bodies from the makeshift graves and to see the suspect as he showed police the
grave sites. "I want to see with my own eyes because it's really hot in the news. So I came on a bus with the
neighbours," said Warsiti, who travelled 175 km to reach the scene. Earlier this week, hundreds of people could be
seen hanging around near the house, watching and munching on snacks as the police uncovered skeletons and
corpses from the yard, despite an overpowering smell. Others turned their sarongs into makeshift hammocks hung on
a nearby tree to make their viewing more comfortable.
Anti-'tower jungle' plan may disrupt cell phone services (July 2008)
The Jakarta administration's plan to replace 2,500 base transceiver station (BTS) towers with 850 newer ones will
lead to cellular network chaos, says a member of the Indonesian Telecommunications Regulatory Agency.
According to Heru Sutadi, all cellular connections could be lost if operators are forced to move from one BTS tower
to another. "The plan to dismantle existing BTS towers and replace them with the new ones is a breach of an
Information and Communications Ministry 2008 regulation on tower sharing," he said. The city's spatial planning
agency has so far decided on the locations for over 470 blocks of BTS towers. The replacement plan is in response to
public complaints that the city looks like a "tower jungle", and as a follow-up to the 2001 by law to require cellular
operators to share BTS towers, fully implemented in a ministerial decree this year.
Better train services (July 2008)
According to Akhmad Sujadi, public relations head of PT Kereta Api (KA) in Greater Jakarta, the Rangkasbitung
train service has been improved. He said the old service has been updated because passengers and officers often
broke the rules. "Passengers used to pay 1,000 rupiahs (11 US cents) for economy-class trains, but they'd take the
business-class train. Some would pay the train driver to stop at certain stations that weren't scheduled stops," he said.
PT KA decided to create the Rangkas Jaya route after numerous requests from passengers. "Passengers have high
expectations for the service. They often text me even if the train is less than 10 minutes late," Sujadi added.
Passengers can still text Mr. Sujadi directly to inform him of any conductors letting fare evaders go as his mobile
number appears on the official website. Passengers to Rangkasbitung are largely made up of labourers working in
Jakarta, parking officers, vendors, teachers, shopkeepers and porters.
Five more cities to adopt bus way system (July 2007)
Five more Indonesian cities will establish bus way systems similar to the ones already in operation in Jakarta, Bogor
and Yogyakarta to help minimise the use of private vehicles and reduce traffic congestion, a Transportation Ministry
official has said. Elly Sinaga, Director of Urban Transportation at the Transport Ministry explains: "We will provide
up to 20 buses for each of the cities and will intensively monitor the progress of the scheme. We hope the public can
enjoy convenient public transportation and start leaving their private vehicles at home," she added. All of the
systems are expected to start operating by the end of this year, with respective city administrations covering all the
Big plans for Jakarta's airport (June 2008)
PT Angkasa Pura II, which manages Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, has committed itself to
improving the airport's facilities and services to support the Visit Indonesia in 2008 programme. The state enterprise
signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Culture and Tourism Ministry, which will organize training in
service excellence for the frontline at Soekarno-Hatta. The ministry worked with Angkasa Pura II previously to
provide training in service excellence to taxi drivers and travel agencies. "In addition to training, we plan to build
another 60 toilets," said Culture and Tourism Ministry official Gozali. Each parking area will also be equipped with
prayer rooms for Muslims. "We are also building a new lane to improve access to the terminal.‖
Night trains on their way (June 2008)
In response to mounting requests from commuters, Indonesia's state railway operator PT Kereta Api (KA) will soon
begin running electric train services to Bogor, West Java and Serpong and Tangerang at night. PT KA's Greater
Jakarta public relations head, Akhmad Sujadi, said the plan was prompted in part by increased fuel prices. "People,
including the (Jakarta) Governor, have demanded electric train services in the evening, although they have yet to
submit formal requests to our company" he told The Jakarta Post. The company recorded some 388,000 commuters
using its services daily on the two routes last year, with 30% ticket leakage, Akhmad said. The company, he said,
would charge commuters 6,000 rupiahs (US$0.64) for a one-way ticket on an evening economy-class air conditioned
electric train. With the government imposing fuel price increases of 28.7% on average, almost all public transport
providers have resorted to increasing their fares.
Let's go horse riding! (June 2008)
Parents in search of entertainment for their children that's beyond the humdrum facilities found in malls throughout
the Indonesian city of Tangerang can now escape to a park in the Bintaro Jaya housing estate for some equine
entertainment. Parents and children alike are given the chance to ride horses and delman (a traditional buggy) from
morning to afternoon and there are about 50 horses and 20 delmans at hand to provide hours of fun for visitors. "Our
children can experience a different kind of entertainment from that offered in malls. Interacting with horses brings
them closer to nature, despite the fact that we live in a big city," said Farid, a Bintaro resident who brought his 2-
year-old daughter to the park for horse riding. Runi, who owns three of the horses at the park, said he charged 5,000
rupiahs (US$0.50) to ride one lap around the park. "It costs 80,000 rupiahs to rent a horse for an hour, and you can
ride anywhere you like," Runi added.
MRT project slated for next year (May 2008)
Jakarta Governor, Fauzi Bowo, has announced that the first phase of the mass rapid transit (MRT) or underground
project will commence construction in April 2009. This first phase will run from Lebak Bulus in South Jakarta to
Dukuh Atas in Central Jakarta. "I'm sure the construction won't be interrupted by the general election because we
have it scheduled," Fauzi told reporters. According to Fauzi, JBIC had also discussed the possibility of the subway
project's second phase that will run from Dukuh Atas to Kota, West Jakarta. "Besides a huge capacity, the subway is
also quick, which will meet the needs of Jakartans. It's also spacious and energy-efficient," he said
Green lessons (May 2008)
Away from traffic and shopping malls, the Kampung Pending alternative school has become a popular place for city
dwellers who want to learn more about the environment. Every month, no fewer than 400 school students spend an
entire day in the facility, located in Kampung Bojong Menteng, in the Bogor district. Short for Kampung Pendidikan
Lingkungan (environmental education village), Kampung Pending was established in 2002 by Yayasan Rimbawan
Muda Indonesia (RMI), a foundation formed by forest conservationists. Nina Nurania, who is in charge of the
education programmes, said school-aged students preferred activities such as cross-country and river exploration,
which allows participants to monitor the river ecosystem. Other visitors are those who want to learn about waste
recycling and farming. "We also have programmes such as leadership workshops and Islamic holiday camps for
children," Nina added. Sinta, a housewife from Matraman, East Jakarta, who participates in the waste recycling
programme, said that environmental education could be profitable. "Now we know we can plant organic vegetables
in used plastic bottles and bags. Although we don't have gardens in Jakarta, we can still have an organic farm," she
Elevated road plans to get go ahead (May 2008)
Despite criticism from urban and transportation experts, Jakarta's administration is moving forward with its plan to
construct elevated roads in the inner part of the city. Deputy Governor Prijanto said the administration is setting up a
special company, called PT Jakarta Toll Road Development, to help garner 67% of Rp40 trillion (US$4.34 billion) in
total investment to run the project. The administration plans to build more elevated roads to relieve traffic woes in
the city. Transportation experts claim, however, that the elevated roads project will not ease congestion in the city,
and instead invite more cars and make traffic jams worse. According to a survey by the Japan International
Cooperation Agency, the capital's streets will be paralysed by 2014 due to a rapid growth in the number of vehicles.
Indonesian high speed train project proposed (April 2008)
Indonesia's Transport Ministry has offered investors the chance to build a US$6.14 billion project of high speed
trains and tracks covering a distance of 683 kilometres between Jakarta and Surabaya in East Java. Railway Director
General, Wendy Aritenang Yazid, said the government will facilitate the process of securing the license and
guarantee legal certainty for investors agreeing to build and operate the project. Prospective investors may build and
operate the project without involving the state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api, Yazid said. She said the
tracks for high speed trains may be built over unused land along the existing railway tracks of PT KA. A feasibility
study carried out by French railway company SCNF says the high speed train could cover the distance in three hours
as against more than 10 hours normally.
Eco Bus inspires students to conserve environment (April 2008)
Thousands of high school and university students across Jakarta are taking part in a month-long campaign aimed at
raising awareness on environmental conservation. Students of state high school SMAN 55 in South Jakarta went on
tour in the 'Eco Bus', which displayed information about energy saving, organic waste processing and recycling
drink cans. "It is so amazing that used drink cans may be recycled into materials to make new things, like clocks and
accessories. If there is a short course about how to recycle them, I would like to take it," said Nurhansyah, a senior
student, adding that the eco-bus had inspired her to do something about preserving the environment. "Through the
Eco Bus, I also know more about the importance of saving energy, water and fuel. I'm going to try to apply it to my
daily life," she added.
Low-cost housing projects expedited (April 2008)
The Governor of Jakarta Fauzi Bowo promised developers that he would accelerate the processing procedure for
construction licenses to lure more low-cost apartment projects to the city. "We can cut the period of license issuance
from the regular 45 days to only 24 hours if developers and the administration are on the same chapter," he said. The
policy change comes in response to complaints addressed by representatives of the Jakarta chapter of Indonesian
Real Estate Developers Association (REI Jakarta) that the process was overly complex and discouraged interest in
the business. The low-cost apartment programme in the city is part of the central government's plan to build 1,000
such towers, with prices of apartments ranging from Rp90 million (US$9,793) to Rp144 million in 10 big cities. The
apartments, expected to be completed by 2012, are designed to accommodate those living in small houses and slum
areas and to help overcome the issue of available space in the cities.
More capital city residents cycling to work (March 2008)
When Dany Fernando decided to start cycling to work a year ago, he was hoping to lose some weight and help
reduce pollution in the city. "There has not been any significant change in my weight," he laughed, "but I am a lot
healthier." Dany, 27, lives in Meruya, West Jakarta, and works in Mampang, South Jakarta. He covers approximately
15 kilometres travelling to work three times a week. He had been interested in biking to work and looked for
information on the internet. He found a biking commuters' group, Bike To Work (B2W)-Indonesia. He joined and
started biking to work. B2W-Indonesia is a group dedicated to promoting the use of pedal-driven vehicles by
commuters; an answer to traffic congestion and air pollution in a city that consumes at least six million kiloliters of
fuel annually. Ozy Sjarindra, chief executive of B2W-Indonesia, said the community started with less than 100
members. "We now have more than 4,600 members listed on our website. If unlisted members or unaffiliated bike-
to-workers are counted, I believe there are more than 10,000 of us in Jakarta," he added.
Jakarta school fees likely to double (March 2008)
According to the Head of the Jakarta Middle and Upper Education Agency, Margani M. Mustar, school expenses in
Jakarta could double from last year due to budget cuts for school operational funds. The City Council had slashed
Rp69 billion (US$7.58 million) from the budget and reallocated it towards scholarships for low-income students.
Margani said each student had to pay for all operational expenses and facilities at their school, which should cover
electricity bills and the purchase of chalk. "I support the scholarships programme, but it should not cut the
administration's ability to pay for school operational expenses," he added. The subsidy last year allowed students in
city schools to pay 60% of school operational expenses, while students on the outskirts of the capital paid between
30 and 35% of expenses.
Villagers protest against nuclear plant (March 2008)
About 3,000 villagers protested against a plan to build Indonesia's first nuclear plant, saying they feared it would be
hazardous. Some demonstrators built a concrete wall in front of the National Nuclear Energy Agency, symbolically
shutting the office, which is close to the proposed site of the plant on the main island of Java. "I reject this power
plant because of its potential danger," said Mufid Pusyairi, one of several local legislators who took part in the
demonstration. The Indonesian government says it plans to begin building the plant in 2010 and have it up and
running by 2016. It is expected to contribute a total of 4,000 megawatts to the country's electricity grid by 2025.
Rise in disasters spurs insurance demand (February 2008)
Indonesia has recently suffered a rise in natural and man-made disasters which means insurance firms are likely to
profit from an increase in business this year as more people seek disaster cover. The finance ministry's head of
insurance, Isa Rahmatarwata, said the high occurrence of disasters in the country had raised people's awareness of
the importance of buying insurance.
"The intense occurrence of earthquakes and floods in the last two years, for example, has somehow made people
think more about putting their savings not only in the banks, but also toward insurance," Isa told The Jakarta Post
recently. He did not want to estimate growth figures on insurance premiums for 2008, but revealed that the entire
insurance industry in Indonesia grew about 25% last year in terms of premiums.
Mercedes Benz to launch new models in Indonesia (February 2008)
Amid predictions of sluggish car demand this year, PT Mercedes Benz Indonesia, a local unit of German car giant,
Daimler AG, is set to launch five new models in Indonesia to help boost its sales. "The company predicts the market
for luxurious cars will grow by only 17% this year due to the high global oil prices and preparations for the 2009
general election," said Mercedes Benz deputy marketing director Yuniadi Hartono. "Therefore, we will launch five
new models in different classes to compete in the market and help lift our share in the premium class," he added.
Analysts are concerned the 2009 election will discourage people from buying luxurious goods, including cars,
because the once-in-a-five-year event often triggers security jitters among members of the public.
Eco-friendly fishermen face marketing challenges (February 2008)
The recent decision by Gerokgak fishermen to catch ornamental fish using eco-friendly methods only has been put to
the test as they struggle to get proper prices for their fish. The fishermen had earlier organized a series of marketing
promotions, in which they introduced higher prices for their fish than those that caught using potassium cyanide, a
poisonous chemical known as potas to locals. Syaiful Anam, one of the fishermen, said the buyers kept telling them
they could not differentiate between ornamental fish caught by a net and those using poisonous chemicals, so they
could not see any justification for buying the eco-friendly fish at a higher price. The fishermen of Gerokgak used to
catch ornamental fish using potassium cyanide up until around three years ago, when the Buleleng Marine and
Fishery Agency and activists from a coalition of NGOs urged them to halt the practice because they were destroying
the coral reef and the surrounding marine environment.
More stress in store for Jakarta's streets (January 2008)
Motorists will continue to be frustrated on Jakarta's streets this year, with more vehicles expected to be sold but no
new roads planned. "Traffic jams in Jakarta will definitely be worse this year compared to last year," Tri Tjahjono
from the Transportation Study Centre at the University of Indonesia said during a discussion organized by the
Indonesian Transportation Society. "We are not aware of any government plans to expand roads, while the number
of vehicles sold in the capital continues to increase. On average, 269 cars and 1,235 motorcycles are sold each day in
the capital, with vehicle numbers rising by circa 10% each year. Jakarta's roadways, measuring up to an area of 40
square kilometres and expanding by no more than 0.1% every year, can only accommodate 0.01% of the total
number of cars in the city at any one time.
Mobile ads big in Indonesia (January 2008)
Indonesia has come fifth in a ranking of users of advertisement services via the internet that can be accessed by
mobile phones. According to research by AdMob, a US internet mobile market network provider company,
advertisements in AdMob's network were seen 116 million times by Indonesia's inhabitants. The 116 million total
comprised 5.7% of the total of AdMob's network ad hits: 2.02 billion in the world throughout 2007. The ad 'users'
mostly used Nokia mobile phones.
Poor access to proper sanitation for most Indonesians (January 2008)
Nearly all of Indonesia's 220 million citizens lack access to proper sanitation, an official at the Public Works
Ministry has said. The Director General for Housing, Building and Planning, Budi Yuwono, said that 76.15% of the
total population already had access to basic sanitation, such as toilets, but that only 2.21% had access to proper
sanitation with sewage and wastewater treatment. "Compared to other Southeast Asian countries, Indonesia ranks
sixth in terms of sanitation services, with only 69% of the urban population and 46% of the rural population
receiving adequate services," he added.
Indonesians love shopping (December 2007)
As the year draws to a close, family and office gatherings for Christmas and the New Year are the order of the day
for most people in Indonesia. This translates into buying presents, new clothes, food and drinks and endless shopping
sprees for clothes, foods and presents, or gatherings in restaurants for those with the disposable income. Super
deluxe malls filled with high-end boutiques offering the latest trends and top brand names in fashion and cosmetics
and gourmet dining, down to a large variety of simpler food outlets from noodles to pizza, ice cream, fried chicken,
provincial foods, sate, gado-gado and hamburgers, have mushroomed in Jakarta city centre this year. Indonesians are
known to love shopping and food. In 2003, the capital counted 2,014 food and beverage business units, which
increased to 2,134 in 2004. Today the city boasts 2,344 units. Most restaurants are found in South Jakarta, with
Central Jakarta's business and embassy district popular too.
Rising food price woes (December 2007)
The prices of food commodities and several other basic needs have started to rise in several cities in Indonesia, partly
due to upward price trends on the international market and because the country depends largely on imports for such
staple foods as wheat, corn, soya beans, sugar and, to a lesser extent, rice. Costly food prices would affect the 110
million people in Indonesia who still live on less than U$2 a day. Indonesia's poor have been very vulnerable to
fluctuating food prices, rice particularly, as the situation in 2006 testified, when the number of people living in
absolute poverty increased by 11% to almost 40 million, due mainly to higher rice prices.
Indonesian market traders oppose malls (December 2007)
Traders from nine traditional markets in Bandung staged a rally at the West Java Legislative Council this month,
demanding that the government stop issuing building permits for malls. A trader at the Ciroyom market in Bandung,
Dadan Jumpena, 42, argued that the municipal administration had not been selective in issuing building permits for
malls to replace traditional markets. He said the administration cited excuses such as markets being dirty. Traders are
eventually forced to buy kiosks in the basement areas of these malls, at high prices set by the private developers.
Aside from the Ciroyom market, other traditional markets set to make way for malls include Pasar Baru,
Ujungberung, Cicadas and Andir. The traders say it is very difficult to pay the kiosk price of between Rp11 million
(approximately US$1,220) and Rp21 million per square metre.
Motorists sceptical over opening of bus lanes (November 2007)
Transport observers in Indonesia think that the Jakarta administration's latest policy allowing motorists to use bus
lanes to ease traffic congestion will not work and will backfire. Bus lanes were initially built to be used exclusively
by the city's TransJakarta buses and are supposed to be free from traffic jams. With the new policy, the bus system
will end up being no different to other public transportation modes. The administration, in cooperation with the City
Police, the Transportation Agency and the Public Order Agency, deploy 2,200 officials to clear 112 congestion spots
usually clogged by illegal on-street parking, waiting public minivans, street vendors and pools of motorcycle-taxi
drivers. The Institute of Transportation Studies announced that the administration should find another solution to the
city's traffic congestion issue, instead of jeopardising the effectiveness of the bus system.
Indonesian consumer outlook mixed (November 2007)
Indonesian consumers were mixed in their outlook on the economy in two surveys carried out in October by Bank
Indonesia (BI) and the Danareksa Research Institute, with some being optimistic about the improving economy and
employment outlook while others were downbeat about rising inflation. BI reported that consumers turned optimistic
in October, the first time in nearly a year. Their sentiments were influenced by the possibility that South East Asia's
economy will continue to improve in the following six months and that there will be more jobs available.
Danareksa's survey was based on 1,700 households across six different provinces. The survey showed that consumer
confidence weakened by 0.9% to 82.2 in October due to a shortage of government-administered kerosene fuel in
parts of the country. Overall, Indonesia's economy needs to expand by at least 6% annually to make a dent on
unemployment, currently affecting around 10% of the workforce.
Bali intends to limit car numbers (November 2007)
The Bali provincial administration intends to limit the number of cars on the island by imposing higher taxes.
According to Bali Governor Dewa Beratha, controlling the number of cars will also help maintain road infrastructure
and decrease accident rates. The governor also hoped that the policy will help reduce traffic congestion on the
world's most famous tourist island resort. The Bali administration has set a target of receiving 275 billion rupiahs
(US$29.4 million) from car ownership taxes for the 2007 budget. This will constitute an increase of 15% over the
Ramadan – a boost to Indonesian consumerism (October 2007)
The holy month of Ramadan is the time when Indonesia witnesses an extraordinary economic phenomenon. At the
end of the month, millions of Indonesians will be taking holidays to travel to their hometowns to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr
(Lebaran) with their families. The economy will receive a boost as consumer spending surges, particularly in the
areas of travel, food, goods and charity. With a 6% increase over last year, an estimated 16 million people
throughout the country will travel to their hometowns. This number will keep increasing every year. The surge in
spending during this period will benefit millions of people, especially those who sell food, clothing and various
service sectors. Economic benefits will also be brought to people in the rural areas. The importance of the Lebaran
economy serves as a buffer to compensate for any lag in government spending.
Consumer fears slow Indonesian attempt to replace kerosene (October 2007)
Despite the fact that it will save them money and cut government fuel subsidies by 23 trillion rupiahs (US$2.5
billion), the poor in Indonesia are still reluctant to use liquid petroleum gas (LPG) instead of kerosene due to the fear
of explosion. After just six months of marketing and education in Jakarta, the plan has stalled due to the inability of
the state energy company Pertamina to convince people that LPG is safe. Siti Chairoh earns her living selling this
gas, but will not cook with the fuel ―I'm afraid to use it,‖ said Chairoh from Jakarta, ―I don't care if people say I'm
old fashioned. I'm too scared the cylinder will blow up‖. In a country where half of the 232 million people survive on
less than US$2, or 18,500 rupiahs a day, consumers need 1,500 rupiahs to buy half a litre of kerosene, enough for an
average family to cook a single meal. It costs about 13,000 rupiahs for a canister of LPG which would last a week. In
the long run, households switching to LPG will save at least 24,000 rupiahs a month, Pertamina estimates. The
Indonesian Consumers' Association thinks that the transition from kerosene to LPG would be smoother if the
government were to be more involved in educating its people on the safety and benefits of using LPG.
Consumers wary about inflation (October 2007)
Indonesian consumers are still seeing the increase in prices of goods and services which is diminishing their
purchasing power and overall confidence in the economy, according to the latest survey from the Danareksa
Research Institute. More consumers believe that inflationary pressures will continue peaking over the next six
months. The survey shows that the proportion of consumers who plan to buy durable goods over the next six months
slipped to 26.2% from their highest level of 28.9% a month before. As has been the case over the past few months,
the major concern among consumers is the rising prices of basic foodstuffs. Household finances have come under
pressure, forcing consumers to cut back on other spending, increase their debts or use their savings. Not surprisingly,
people living in rural Indonesia and those in low-income households appear to have been hit hardest by inflation.
Indonesian banks not at risk (Sept 2007)
According to analysts, the strong recovery in Indonesian stock prices suggests that Indonesia's fundamentals are
unlikely to be affected by the US sub-prime meltdown because Indonesian banks have no direct exposure and less
than 15% of Indonesia's exports go to the U.S.
Mixed messages on consumer confidence (Sept 2007)
Despite rising prices and uncertain job prospects, according to the Bank of Indonesia, the overall consumer
confidence index for August rose for the third straight month. However, a survey by the Danareksa Research
Institute (DRI), showed that most consumers are still wary of the current economic situation, and particularly
inflation, reflecting fears that food prices will surge during the upcoming fasting month of Ramadhan.
Least attractive country for foreign retailers (Sept 2007)
Despite its population and economy, Indonesia is among the least attractive countries for foreign retailers to invest
according to a survey conducted recently by A.T. Kearney. The survey showed that Indonesia, despite its huge
population, has only a small number of potential customers because the people still prefer to shop at traditional
markets. Traditional markets are still most popular because they are located around residential areas and offer
cheaper prices for fresh food products.
Top 20 Cities obsession (Sept 2007)
According to comment the frequently repeated contention that 85% of GDP is created in the Top 6 cities of
Indonesia is untrue and based on the fact that reliable sales data only exists for urban Indonesia and only 25% of the
140 million above the age of 15 live in the top 20 cities. Although the top 20 Cities are the biggest markets for new
cars and credit cards, they are among the smallest for FMCG products such as shampoo, mobile phones and
motorcycles as well as bank accounts.
Farmers concerned about agrofuel issue (Aug 2007)
Research shows that farmers all over the world are worried about the issue of agrofuel. In the Indonesian context,
this topic is related to palm oil. The skyrocketing price of crude palm oil (CPO) and cooking oil is closely linked to
agrofuel. As the world's second largest producer after Malaysia, many of the major palm oil producers were attracted
to the huge profits they could make from the trend as witness the plans by IndoAgri and London Sumatra to expand
their plantations to 250,000 hectares by 2015. At least 1.5 million tons of Indonesian CPO is exported to Europe, and
nearly all is turned into agrofuel. On the other hand, many Indonesian consumers have recently had to queue for
subsidized cooking oil. According to the Indonesian Farmers' Union, each ton of palm oil that is turned into agrofuel
releases 33 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, 10 times more than the emissions released by fossil fuels.
Indonesia one of AP's most attractive mobile markets (Aug 2007)
With its large population and current low penetration rate, Indonesia has become the battleground for some of the
world's biggest mobile phone producers, including Nokia, Motorola and Samsung. Market analysts estimate that,
with a present penetration rate of between 25 and 35%, the Indonesian mobile phone market will remain attractive
over the next three years. With an average growth of 26.7% a year, mobile phone user numbers are expected to reach
122.1 million by 2010 from around 66.5 million in 2006 and 46 million in 2005.
The suspect Chinese goods issue (Aug 2007)
Attempts are being made to repair some of the damage caused by international media reports of health and safety
scares surrounding Chinese-made goods such as foods, medicines, toys, toothpaste and dog food. As in other
countries, including the Philippines, the United States, Japan and Panama, Indonesian consumers are also affected by
Chinese exports. The Jakarta Post recently reported that China is under pressure to make a serious effort to crack
down on the production and export of dangerous and counterfeit drugs and foods. The Food and Drug Monitoring
Agency (BPOM) is now busy, not only countering accusations it has been negligent for years in stopping the flow of
dangerous foods into the country, but also checking Chinese products to ensure their safety. Following the recent
discovery of formaldehyde in Chinese candies, sweets and toothpaste, there have been demands for the government
to step up control over Chinese products. Over the last 10 years Chinese products have come to dominate the
Indonesian market because of their cheapness and competitive quality. However, according to reports, Indonesian
produced goods have been no more successful in meeting the required safety standards.
Regional consumer confidence on the rise (Aug 2007)
According to the latest MasterCard Survey, consumer confidence continues on an optimistic uptrend in Asia/Pacific.
China's continued strong GDP growth, and its emerging role as the 'growth engine' for the region, has contributed to
the rise in consumer confidence. Several other economic announcements have also resonated favourably with
consumers, including the positive news of GDP growth in Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. Vietnam (91.3) continues
to top the 13 Asia/Pacific markets as the most buoyant in consumer sentiments for the six months ahead. Australia
and Malaysia meanwhile showed the biggest jumps in levels of consumer optimism.
Indonesia forecast to be one of the new BRICs (July 2007)
According to a report by Ernst and Young, by 2050 and seven new global powers will comprise the so-called BRIC
economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China), with the addition of Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey. By 2050, these
seven countries will overtake the economies of the current G7 countries in terms of gross domestic product (GDP),
the survey said.
Consumers getting into mobile content (June 2007)
According to the chairman of the Indonesian Mobile and Online Content Providers Association (IMOCA) the mobile
content market is in a strong position due to the size of the mobile-phone market and the increasing availability of
3G services. The content market is dominated by local players, with music the most downloaded content, accounting
for 75% of the total content purchased by mobile users. The rapid rise in the number of mobile content users has
encouraged the establishment of some 200 content providers as of the first quarter of 2007, a 7% rise from the same
quarter of 2006.
Consumer group wants stricter tobacco laws (June 2007
The Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) has threatened to file a class action suit against the government if it
fails to formulate stricter tobacco regulations protecting children from cigarettes. According to YLKI cigarette
advertising still pervades prime-time local television shows watched by millions of children. Survey data from 2004,
collected by the foundation, which is also supported by the National Commission on Child Protection, showed that
78% of smokers tried their first cigarette before reaching the age of 19. The consumer group is demanding that the
government tighten its tobacco-related laws by ratifying the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC),
which was the first international treaty to control tobacco consumption. The FCTC obliges governments to suppress
the promotion of cigarettes (as far as constitutions permit), and ensure that at least 30% of tobacco packaging is
allocated for health warnings.
Jakarta is a young city (June 2007)
According to Roy Morgan Single Source research, there are 7.9 million Jakartans above the age of 14 living in the
city, while five million consumers between the ages of 14 and 34 make it one of the youngest cities in the world. The
gender balance is almost equal and there is a mixture of ethnicities: 40% of residents being local Betawi, 29%
Jawanese, 14% Sundanese, 6% Chinese and 3% Minang. Literacy levels are much higher than the national average,
with almost everybody having been to school. A total of 26% are housewives, 16% are students and 44% are
employed either full or part-time. Jakartans spend more than four times the national average on groceries but also
live in bigger households than the rest of the country, with over 25% living in home with more than six residents.
Over 2 million Jakartans have a motorcycle at home while a further 700,000 would like to buy one. Similarly, the
consumption of mobile phones, white goods, financial products and services are all considerably higher than the
BAT to focus on luxury brands (June 2007)
According to the company, BAT Indonesia will focus on the sale of premium-brand cigarettes to offset declining
sales of mid-range cigarettes spearheaded by Pall Mall. Because of the decline in consumer spending power
following the fuel-price hikes of 2005, there was a shift from mid-range cigarettes to cheap cigarettes. Despite this,
the company reported a significant growth in its premium-brand sales, which experienced 18.6% growth in market
share and 16.6% growth in sales volume in 2006 with Lucky Strike recording a 13% increase in sales volume to 1.23
billion cigarettes in 2006 from 1.07 billion in 2005 and Dunhill growing 31% to 69 million cigarettes.
19 million payment cards (June 2007)
According to Euromonitor, Indonesian consumers held 19 million payment cards in 2006, mostly ATM cards used
for cash withdrawals.
Music mad young Indonesians (June 2007)
According to an MTV survey, Indonesia and the Philippines have Asia's 'most music-mad youngsters'. Some 71% of
young Indians, 70% of Indonesians and 64% of Filipinos described themselves as passionate about music. In
addition, Indians and Indonesians had the highest rate of consumers watching music videos on TV on a regular basis.
In countries such as Indonesia, where Internet penetration can pose a problem, television is a particularly important
medium for consumers to access music with 67% of Indians and 35% of Indonesians watching music videos on
television almost every day.
Indonesian tourists want better access to Malaysia (May 2007)
According to the Government, Indonesians want better access to Malaysia. Currently there are only 11 weekly
flights from Medan to Kuala Lumpur and three weekly flights from Padang.
Indonesians still prefer wet markets (April 2007)
According to a recent survey, the majority of urban Indonesians still prefer to do their shopping in traditional outlets.
95 million Indonesians vulnerable to malaria (April 2007)
Around 95 million people, or 42% of the total population in Indonesia, are at risk from malaria according to the
Global Fund against Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. An extraordinary outbreak in several provinces, mainly in
eastern and western Indonesia, that began last year has killed at least 23 people and infected more than 1,050 others.
In Indonesia, 310 out of a total of 441 districts are endemic areas.
Fastest GDP growth for two years (March 2007)
Indonesia's economy expanded 6.1% in the three months ended Dec 2006, after a revised 5.9% gain in the previous
quarter, according to the Central Statistics Bureau. This was partly due to the reduced borrowing costs which helped
boost consumer spending on motorcycles and other consumer goods. Private consumption rose 3.8%, the fastest
quarterly growth in a year, while investment gained 8.2%, the biggest gain since the third quarter of 2005.
Motorcycle sales rose 10% in the fourth quarter to 1.3 million units, according to the Indonesia Automotive
High salary growth forecast for consumers (Feb 2007)
According to an ECA International forecast, out of 45 economies surveyed, the five highest real wage increases for
2007 are all forecast to occur in Asia, with India topping the list with projected real salary increases of 7% followed
by Indonesia and China, with projected real salary increases of approximately 6% each. Real salary increases in
Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia are expected to range between 2% and 3.5%, and those in Hong Kong are
forecast to be 1.5%. Slovakia and Russia are the two economies outside Asia that are expected to see the highest real
wage increases in 2007, according to the survey. Meanwhile, real wage increases in Argentina, Hungary, Germany,
New Zealand and Spain are expected to register below 1%, the lowest among the 45 economies surveyed. Real wage
increases in the United States are forecast to be 1.1%.
Flood damage (Feb 2007)
A week after the Indonesian capital was struck by the worst floods in recent memory, between 240,000 and 420,000
people were still unable to return home. At least 50 people were killed in the floods. The losses suffered by
manufacturing firms due to the floods may reach more than Rp 1 trillion (US$105.2 million) according to the
Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo). Overall losses to the economy are estimated at Rp 4.1 trillion. The
Indonesian Textile Association (API) reported that 16 garment factories in Pulogadung, East Jakarta, had been
paralyzed and that losses were estimated to have reached US$9.6 million. Dozens of food and beverage companies
halted operations beacuse the homes of hundreds of thousands of their employees were inundated.
UN study forecasts loss of 2,000 islands due to climate change (Feb 2007)
A study by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes has warned that Indonesia may lose as many as
2,000 lower-lying islands by 2030 as a result of climate change. The report warns that rising sea levels of between 8-
30 centimetres (3-12 inches) by 2030 could prove to be only a harbinger of far more extreme effects.
Tourist arrivals down 4.6% but domestic tourism up (Jan 2006)
Foreign tourist arrivals in the first eleven months of 2006 declined by 4.6% compared with the same period the
previous year, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS). The number of foreign tourists entering the country
from January to November 2006 dropped to 3,589,115 from 3,762,177. Natural disasters and fears of avian flu, were
among the reasons for the decline. The government has set a target of 5.5 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2007,
whom it is hoped will bring in Rp 45 trillion (US$5 billion) in foreign exchange earnings. Unlike the foreign-tourist
figures, the number of domestic tourists is steadily growing, with the number expected to hit 115 million people in
2006, spending a total of Rp 78.6 trillion, representing 1.5% growth over last year's Rp 77.5 trillion.
Indonesian middle class helps prospects (Jan 2006)
According to the IMF, economic growth is now in the 5-6% range while the public debt to GDP ratio is below 40%
and reserves have been built up to US$30 billion (A$37billion). According to Australia's Senior Trade
Commissioner Indonesia's strength is its domestic market and its burgeoning middle class with around 22 million
Indonesian consumers capable of spending A$1,900 a month. Other advantages are that over half the population is
under 25 and the country is an open democracy with a commitment to economic reform.
Consumers go for health and convenience (Nov 2006)
According to Euromonitor International's Hot drinks in Indonesia report there has been a gradual shift in preference
among Indonesian consumers from the less convenient hot drinks formats eg from fresh ground coffee to instant
coffee and from loose tea to tea bags, as well as towards more convenient 3-in-1 and 2-in-1 fresh ground coffee and
malt-based hot drink products packed in sachets for single serving. There was also a growing preference for healthier
products with value-added benefits, such as ginseng-fortified coffee, naturally healthy green tea, and calcium-
fortified flavoured powder drinks.
Tourist spend analysis (Nov 2006)
According to a recent report by Visa Indonesia, overseas visitors coming to Indonesia spend most of their money on
accommodation, with 852,000 transactions being recorded in hotels, with a value of US$198 million, or about 34%
of the total tourist spend. Some 433,000 transactions worth a total of US$36 million, or 6% of the total spend, took
place in restaurants. When shopping, the highest tourist spend is on men's and women's clothing at US$14 million,
followed by artistic goods buying at US$13.6 million. The highest growth in spending was recorded in woman's
accessories and specialty stores, with an 160% increase, and luggage and leather goods stores, where spending
increased by 102%, as compared to a year earlier.
Patient exodus (Nov 2006)
According to a recent study, around 1,500 people from West Sumatra and Riau are seeking medical treatment in
neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore every month. Top public and private hospitals were losing valuable income
from patients who preferred to travel overseas. According to reports this is a trend. Overseas hospitals have opened
representative offices in Padang, Pekanbaru and Jakarta and it is apparently often cheaper to fly from Sumatra to
Singapore than to Jakarta. In addition, several local banks are now providing free medical service in Singapore as
part of packages to special clients.
Jakarta named best province (Nov 2006)
Jakarta has been named the best province in the country in terms of economic and human development on the basis
of the Human Development Index (HDI). HDI is a system to measure the economic development of an area by
taking into account social and environmental aspects, as well as the purchasing power of its residents. Jakarta
accounted for 17% of national gross domestic product and reported some 7% of its population living beneath the
poverty line in 2005, according to data from the Central Statistics Agency.
Identity fraud on the up (Nov 2006)
According to the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK), there has been a significant rise in
the number of suspicious transactions over the course of the year. Most of the reports involved identity fraud for the
purpose of opening bank accounts. As of the end of October, the PPATK had received 6,530 reports of suspicious
transactions from 160 banks and non-bank financial institutions. This was more than triple last year's overall figure
of 2,005 reports.
Economic optimism (Nov 2006)
Local and foreign analysts are upbeat that Indonesia will be able to meet its economic growth target of 6.3% in 2007
despite an expected slowdown in world trade. In the second quarter of 2006, Indonesian economic growth reached
5.2%. An expected further surge in demand from China would be able offset expected weaker demand in the U.S.
Car sales fall by almost 40% (Nov 2006)
Car sales in Indonesia slumped by 39.3% in October compared with September. The decline in the biggest ticket
item indicated a fall in consumer confidence. National car sales plunged to 20,694 units in October after record
monthly sales of 34,108 units in September, according to the automotive industries association Gaikindo. The
Gaikindo has revised down the full year target to 300,000 units in 2006, far below last year's 533,000 units which
was a record.
Big rise in mobile phones (Nov 2006)
Indonesian mobile phone service provider PT Telkomsel, a subsidiary of the state-owned firm Telkom, forecasts
seven million new customers in 2007, and overall, 10 to 15 million new cellular phone subscribers. Telkomsel, 35%
owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, is the largest mobile service provider with more than 50% of the
domestic market. The company planned to raise its total subscriber base to 41 million from a projected 34 million by
the end of 2006. In September, Telkomsel pioneered the country's third generation (3G) cellular services.
Retail rebound expected (Nov 2006)
According to reports, central bank cuts in interest rates are encouraging shoppers. With inflation slowing and the
economy growing, purchasing power is expected to improve. Indonesian consumers cut spending in 2006 after
subsidized household fuel prices doubled in October 2005, sending inflation to a six-year high in November. This
prompted Bank Indonesia to raise interest rates to 12.75% in December, from 8.5% in July causing retail sales to fall
month on month in the nation's five major cities.
First mobile gaming community (July 2006)
Communication Berhad ('Nextnation'), in partnership with, Indosat Tbk ('Indosat'), one of the leading
telecommunication providers in Indonesia, recently launched Game War - the first mobile gaming community in
Indonesia. GameWar is a gaming community where mobile users are able to download games, compete in game
tournaments and gain points which can be used in GameWar's virtual gift shop. The target audience is mobile users
below 25 years of age. The plan is to expand into Thailand, Singapore and China, accessing to more than 500 million
Youth unemployment very high (July 2006)
Indonesia has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the world, a recent United Nation's Economic and
Social Council survey revealed. A survey conducted by the University of Indonesia's Institute for Economic and
Social Research (LPEM-UI) show job creation increased in 2005, with almost 2 million new jobs provided, up from
the 1.3 million reported in 2004. However, the unemployment rate had also risen to 10.3% in 2005, as compared to
9.8% the previous year. In Jakarta alone, according to the Central Statistics Agency, only 3.3 million of the 6.5
million productive-aged population were actually working in 2005. A total of 589,682 people were unemployed,
while 2.57 million others were not considered to be economically active as they were students or housewives. Most
workers were classed as 'low-skilled' and were poorly educated, with 57% only having an elementary school level
education. A further 39% had graduated from junior or senior high school and only 2.7% had completed university.