The shape of the world a generation from now will be influenced far more by how we communicate the values of our society to others than by military or diplomatic superiority. William Fulbright, 1964

Monday, October 04, 2010


A new solution to traffic jams

Traffic jams are expected to vanish throughout Indonesia once a new edict by a leading agency takes effect.

The surprise fatwa from the MUI (Motorcyclists’ Union of Indonesia) was announced just before mudik, the annual pilgrimage to hometown and parents undertaken by many Indonesians at the end of the slowing month.

MUI secretary Bangbang Twostroke said the fatwa prohibited the use of cars, which were now haram.

Although it was difficult to impose a fatwa on those groups that didn’t follow MUI’s teachings, it was expected that most would accept the ruling to avoid drawing attention to themselves and creating unnecessary conflict.

The roads would be far less congested once the fatwa was in place and all four-wheel vehicles were either locked up or deported. He added that two-wheel transport goes back centuries so reverting to the past would create a purer nation.

“You can’t hide on a motorbike,” Bangbang said. “Everyone can see what you’re up to. Behind the tinted windows of cars all sorts of immorality can take place.

“The MUI has long been concerned about the rise in popularity of other means of transport.

“We’ve had to accept the government’s five-brand policy, but there have been issues in some regions that have disturbed local communities.

“Allegations have been made of moves to Toyotarise Indonesians. I’ve even heard of preman (thugs) with Manado accents trying to Nissanise locals with promises of high trade-ins and cashbacks.

“The Mercedes trinity star is known to have other meanings. Those of us who believe in only one brand find the symbol offensive.”

The police have been instructed not to tolerate attempted conversions from two to four wheels by outside forces with other agendas.

FP1 (Friendly People of Indonesia) squads were ready to assist the police and ensure the fatwa was obeyed. Mr Bangbang rejected reports that FPI members had already started trashing cars as ‘baseless accusations from dark forces planning to overthrow the Unitary State’.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Agama (Automobile, Gasoline and Mechanical Appliances) said no comment would be made on the MUI’s fatwa, though the minister welcomed any moves to restrict the number of road users, particularly those who didn’t follow the number one brand.

“In the past we’ve been tolerant of deviants like Suzuki and Yamaha, but it’s now time to disband them,” he said.

“The Minister realises this is a controversial move. It may be in breach of the Constitution, which allows citizens freedom to ride the brand of their choice. But no matter. Our founding fathers did not appreciate the threats now coming from outside. Public order must be maintained.”

During the slowing month, when petrol tanks may only be filled between dusk and dawn, reports of surly young men in gangs hanging around foodstalls at nightfall astride motorcycles have been causing concern among supporters of cars.

Last month it was claimed motorcycle numbers in Indonesia would double by 2015. Last year 6.5 million pedestrians converted to motorbikes, the majority choosing to follow Honda. For every car that rolls onto the road, five motorbikes take to the streets.

Mr Bangbang said it was clear the infrastructure could not cope. There just wasn’t enough room on public roads, so some users have to go. It was right and proper that those evicted from the highways should be the rich driving foreign cars and taking up too much space.

If action wasn’t taken now Jakarta could suffer a stroke as its traffic arteries became clogged by the cholesterol of unconstrained private transport.

“The reality is that this is a Honda nation,” he said. “Those who want to follow other forms of transport should move to North Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara or Bali where different brands are tolerated.

“However the transmigration of motorbikes from the overcrowded roads of Java to the quiet tracks of Central Kalimantan and elsewhere will continue. This means that the majorities in those regions may soon become the minorities.

“The alternative if for dissidents to embrace two-wheels with fervor if they want to remain citizens. This is a move that can only enhance democracy by ensuring that all Indonesians follow only one way.”

(First published in The Sunday Post 3 October 2010)


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