Thursday, August 26, 2010

In defense of Qory

The media, social or otherwise, have been attacking Qory Sandioriva, the Indonesian beauty pageant queen who competed in the world contest, and failed.

Most of the attacks take the form of mockery on Qory's broken English.

Shame on you people. Qory did nothing against you. She's beautiful, she worked hard for that competition. She had the courage to compete abroad unlike many of you. She is great. And you think a broken English is so sinful? How about yours?

Grow up.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reading the Nationalism-o-meter

On the way to Metro station this morning, I asked Sisil why Indonesians in twitland and fb became suddenly very nationalistic on Aug 17 -- and we don't.

She thought it's a wrong question. It is not that these people's nationalism-o-meter increases these days, but the urge to update twitter/fb status. The latter motive will pick up anything closer to home in one particular day -- any mass psyche deemed relevant on the day, like nationalism in every Aug 17 or religious revivalism in every Ramadan.

I concur.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In Defense of Mall

So my two professors went to Manila this summer. One of them was amazed on how cool the malls over there, and the other offered an interesting interpretation: it's in many ways a form of private government.

Here is the reason.

Operating such huge (and usually integrated with business and residential complex) mall needs sophisticated technology and management. And it has to be efficient. With thousands of human resources involved as well as state of the art logistic, it needs high skills and knowledge to run the complex.

Now enter the common explanation for under-development in developing countries: lack of skills and "modern" culture.

These malls show that these line of reasoning doesn't add up. The businesspersons running the mall can deliver not only private goods (you know, from branded bags to broccoli to two bedrooms apartment) but also public goods, like open to public parks, between-the-shops-aisles for window shopping, or the water fountain dancing New York New York (to the dismay of barista Aco).

They are like government -- while the real government is busy doing something else. And the key is, I think, incentives that works, and it is profit motive.

I think it's a right observation. The mushrooming malls as well as those clustering real estates somehow also shows that government has failed, and, to some extent, private actors stepped in. And the blaming for lack of "modern culture" among the people seems to be unfounded.