Bad English

Bad language is bad for Indonesian business

Indonesian bureaucrats are making it harder for Indonesians to learn good English. This handicaps Indonesian firms, as well as making them look foolish in international markets.

Truant teachers make for stupid vandals

In theory, every child in Indonesia gets at least three years of English teaching in primary school, and several years more in middle and secondary school. So it’s initially surprising that the majority of Indonesian kids can manage nothing more than “Hello Mister!”, and the occasional “wossyonem?” Perhaps more surprising still that so many seem to aspire to English language graffiti….

A comfortable T-shirt culture

If I had the courage to stick my camera into people’s chests, I’d by now have a vast repertoire of photos of absurd and inappropriate T-shirts. Pretty young school-girls sporting obscenities that would make a punk blush. Elderly crones decked in gyrating boy-band idols. Moslem clerics declaring their love for Jesus. And plenty of slogans that just make no sense at all. Most Indonesians love to pose for pictures; it’s me that’s uncomfortable snapping things that will make people look…

Repel hazardous trespasser!

You can see the hazardous trespasser reflected in the glass. For what it’s worth, a more correct translation would read: For our mutual well-being, please wear your ID card. Perhaps they are worried about all the dodgy visitors going cap in hand to the top floor of the building, home of the Ford Foundation, which funds all sorts of hazardous enterprises, including programmes that aim to increase accountability in government.