Friday, April 30, 2010

Balikpapan, Kota BERIMAN ......

Balikpapan, a city famous for many things. Also famous in Brunei for the wrong reasons especially during the time, not so distant ago, where we used to have direct flight from Bandar Seri Begawan to Balikpapan. Even now there is a place in Brunei known among the locals especially the older members of the public as Balikpapan. Don’t ask me why.

Here I am, first time at Balikpapan, not knowing what to expect except the stories of adventure or rather misadventures of some of our countrymen (I stressed men) here. To arrive here, we have to do a round trip via the Lion City and it took us almost 10 hours. No more direct flights. Some alleged the stopping of the direct flight was due to the misadventures of our countrymen. The more plausible reason was may the very low passenger count. I heard the original intention was to use the direct flight as a link to Australia.

After almost a day here, Balikpapan indeed is a delightful city. With the typical colors of the Indonesian cities I had visited but without the traffic jam. Last night, I heard the Governor saying something about Kota Balikpapan known as Kota BERIMAN. Must be a very religious city, I thought. Not surprising as on our walkabout, we heard quite a number of the call to prayers, the azan. More about the BERIMAN part later.

With a large number of Muslim population, I was told at least 70%, this seaport city on the eastern coast of the island of Borneo has a good mixture of people. The population of over 600 thousands is a mixture of origins from Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, Jawa, Sumatera and Kalimantan.

My boss commented last night the name Balikpapan is unique and in some ways romantic. If I heard him correctly that is. I decided to look it up. The official website of Kota Balikpapan had two versions of the origin of the name Balikpapan.

One version is during the reign of Sultan Muhammad Idris in 1739. The sultan ordered the communities around a bay area to contribute building materials for a new palace. The contribution is in the form of 1000 pieces of timber tied together into a raft. Upon arrival at Kutai, 10 pieces were found missing. These missing pieces were thought to have refused to be part of the contribution hence the phrase ‘Baliklah papan itu’.

Another version was from the people of Suku Balik, better known as Suku Pasir Kuleng who migrated to the current location of Balikpapan. This group originated from the family of Kayun Aleng and Papan Ayun and was known as ‘Kuleng-Papan’. Kuleng in Pasir Balik dialect meant ‘balik’ hence the name Balikpapan.

Coming back to the BERIMAN part. I thought it was about religion. Infact it is an acronym and it stood for ‘BERSIH, INDAH & NYAMAN’.

More info on Balikpapan can be found here.

While having breakfast, I heard a story about how some Indonesians are ‘crafty’ and how it takes a lot of patience living here. There is a local saying ‘if you can make it difficult, why make it easy’. From experience, it's not an Indonesian phenomenon, it's everywhere......

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rumours & Speculations…

Throughout our live, no matter what we do, where we are, who we are, we can’t run away from hearing rumours and speculations. All aspect of life affected by rumours and speculations. The stock market, price of goods and services and many others. The nature of rumours and speculations no matter how far fetched they are, they will always get attention. One rumour which is not connected to another speculation, will somehow be linked through creative out of the box or shall I say out of this world thinking. A small one sentence rumour can become a full paragraph or even a few pages of text after passed on from one ‘uncertified pundit’ to another. Reminded me of the Mossad’s motto "Tell people big lies often enough and they'll believe it.”

How we deal with rumours and speculations, how we handle them, how we analyse them and the conclusions we draw from them will somehow dictate our success in life. Some people make a living out of analysing rumours and speculations. Bookies, futurist, market analyst. May be even this skill is essential to those aspiring to go through MBA , economics and related courses.

In the old days, we have the newspapers, radio and the dumb box we called TV as our main sources of information. Now, we have the sprawling reaches of the world wide web as the main source. A movement here, a shift there, a shake here, a rattle there, with a click of a button, the whole world knows about it. Be it tweeted, facebooked, four squared, you-tubed and more other internet medium not just the social networking sites. Rumours and speculations are also on the same ride. Spreading faster than wild fire. As fast as the lightning I guess.

Gone are the days of privacy, the cushion of time to tone down an impact of the news be it the truth or a mere rumour or speculation. Harnessed the right way, we can do many good and wonderful things with it. Use it the opposite way, we can do untold damage, intentionally or not.

I am definitely digressing a bit here. What started as a thought about certain rumours and speculations that is snowballing as we approached May 2010, let me to think about how rumours and speculations affected every part of our lives. Ending up with a piece of unscripted, unplanned piece of writing. All that came to my head I typed down. So if this entry looked disjointed, my apologies. Not that I am such a planning sort of person. Not planning is planning to fail, I read somewhere. But some may say, not planning is also planning in some way. Planning not to have any plan.

What are the rumours and speculations I am referring to here? A lot of people realise it is already May 2010. Almost 5 years from the appointment of current line up of Cabinet Ministers. People on facebook (who does not?) got a reminder of this when a well known blogger put up a survey on the performance of the ministries a couple of months back.

Sharing and spreading the rumours and speculations about this story is not what I have in mind. So many of them, we can’t tell which ones are from reliable source or which ones are not. Some are credible some are far fetched. Very interesting to hear if you keep your ears open to these ‘uncertified’ pundits. What is more interesting how people arrived at the speculations. Some even went to the extend, may be jokingly, is to do a survey of the well known tailors in town. Who ordered a more than normal number of suits, are the ones with aspirations or strong belief they will be appointed. Far fetched yet plausible?

Enough of that. … we just wait and see….