Thursday 16 Aug 2018 | 02:34 | SYDNEY
Thursday 16 Aug 2018 | 02:34 | SYDNEY

Singapore/Indonesia trivia


Sam Roggeveen


12 May 2010 13:00

To round off my short visit to the region, some random observations:

  • Singaporeans seem to have a sense of humour about some of the more draconian regulations the city-state is known for internationally. Tourist shops sell 'I survived Singapore' t-shirts, which list things like the chewing gum ban and heavy fines for littering. 
  • Barry Wain's controversial biography of former Malaysian president Mahathir Mohamad is still on prominent display in Singapore's bookshops. It spent months in the non-fiction top ten list of Singapore's daily paper, the Straits Times, yet the Times has not reviewed it. The Jakarta Globe ran a review yesterday.
  • The Immigration form you fill out for entry into Indonesia has a section asking you to nominate your occupation, under which you can tick a box marked 'Housewife'.
  • I was told that people from Jakarta rarely identify themselves as 'Jakartans'. There are some complex ethnic identity issues wrapped up in this, but as I understand it, the 'real' Jakartans were pushed out of the city long ago, and today, even those born and bred in the place will, when asked about where they hail from, refer back to their parents' or grandparents' origins.
  • Jakarta has changed for the better in many ways but its public transport remains grossly inadequate. All along the road that fronts the Australian embassy you see thick, 5m high concrete posts with metal reinforcements sticking out of them. This is all that remains of a monorail project attempted at the beginning of the century. The posts have been left there so that the project can be revived, apparently around 2020.