Free songs

The Blog


Website Launch: Forty Delicious Years

After the much anticipated launch of Forty Delicious Years, Murni has introduced a website to ease your curiosity and celebrate the success of this beautiful publication.

Forty Delicious Years is the story of Bali’s most enduring culinary landmark – Murni’s Warung in Ubud. Narrated by some of the Warung’s most intriguing patrons, with a Preface by Murni herself, the book tells the story of how a humble roadside stall became an institution – in fact a must visit on a magical must visit island.

This easy to read and immensely enjoyable collection of vignettes was published to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Murni’s Warung in February 2014.

Head to the site here and order your copy today.


Book Launch: Forty Delicious Years, 1974-2014

Forty Delicious Years is the story of Bali’s most enduring culinary landmark – Murni’s Warung in Ubud. Narrated by some of the Warung’s most intriguing patrons, with a Preface by Murni herself, the book tells the story of how a humble roadside stall became an institution – in fact a must visit on a magical must visit island. This easy to read and immensely enjoyable collection of vignettes was published to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Murni’s Warung on the 20th of February 2014.

The book is authored by Jonathan Copeland, Rob Goodfellow and Peter O’Neill.

Order your copy today! Follow the link below.




Australia and Indonesia become closer neighbors

Rob Goodfellow, Wollongong, New South Wales.

The author and social commentator Mark Twain once said: “The best things in life are the nearest”. The writer could have easily been talking about the organizational philosophy that inspires members of the Australia-Indonesia Business Council (AIBC) who last week held their national conference in the South Australian capital of Adelaide (Nov. 15-17).

The AIBC (and an Indonesian sister organization, the Indonesia-Australia Business Council or IABC) are national, non-profit business associations established to represent the commercial and trade interests of their respective members. Indeed Australia is one of Indonesia’s largest foreign investors. Today, there are over 400 Australian companies operating across Indonesia with total assets exceeding A$6 billion (Rp 3.1 trillion).

In Adelaide for the conference, Blaine Gordon, President of the AIBC, stressed that Australia should be engaging more extensively with Indonesia in an effort to improve business and cultural ties. Gordon further pointed out that conditions were right for Australians to invest in Indonesia, with economic growth running at 6 percent per annum — distinguished by a reduction in bureaucracy and corruption.

The push for better people-to-people understanding across a wide range of cultural quarters — of which “business culture” is but one aspect, is not only coming from Australia. Earlier this month the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, asked his Ambassadors to play an active role in developing such relationships with a view towards creating trade and investment opportunities.

This was reinforced by the three Indonesian Ministers who attended the AIBC conference as special guest speakers, namely, Sri Mulyani Indrawati (Finance), Purnomo Yusgiantoro (Energy and Recourses) and Vice Admiral (ret.) Freddy Numberi (Marine Affairs and Fisheries).

The angst that has so-often characterized the formal relationship between Australia and Indonesia (punctuated by the recent Papuan refugee crisis and the temporary recall of Ambassador Hamzah Thayeb) has clearly caused leaders like Mr. Gordon to draw fresh conclusions. This is especially true of the fact that investment in professional and friendship networks, through people-to-people activities — such as business, represents a sound “investment” in fostering good neighborliness.

Politics on the other hand has not yielded such consistent returns. For example, national politics in Canberra is often interpreted and reported in the Indonesian press as “megaphone diplomacy” and conversely Jakarta politics in the Australian press is often reported as “inscrutable”, “unfathomable” or “extreme”.

In Australia, (which does not share the Indonesian emphasis on consensus-building) politics is almost exclusively adversarial — often typified by short-sighted policies that often last only until the next opinion poll.

For most Australians and Indonesians alike, however, politics represents risk.

Culture, humanitarianism and trade are something Australians and Indonesians have in common. They represent opportunity. This is because friendships, including those forged through the above, tend to endure.

The former Indonesian Tourism Minister I Gede Ardika put this into the perspective of the Australia-Indonesia relationship when he commented some years ago during the Bali Arts Festival: “If we open bilateral dialogue in disagreement, then, it is unlikely we will ever reach our full potential as neighbors. If we focus on the celebration of culture, then we create a relationship based on what we have in common, not what distinguishes us as different or in disagreement”.

Unfortunately, people-to-people relationships are quickly forgotten in the heat of a bi-lateral crisis — largely because the health of the relationship is usually only interpreted through the distorting prism of politics.

Also last week, on the Island of Lombok, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister, Hassan Wirayuda, hailed the new security pact with Australia as a possible way forward. While political security at a bi-national level is prone to “politicization” — “human security” is less so.

This is because the need for human security is rooted in civil society; it is based on freedom from want and fear. It is in fact a deep strength inherent within the myriad of friendships that quietly exist between ordinary Australians and Indonesians.

“The Australia and Indonesia Framework Agreement for Security Cooperation” — right now more of the head than the heart — recognizes exactly what Mark Twain said about proximity. It goes beyond the classic security-threat-scenarios usually enacted by major powers. It is a bold attempt to embrace a panoply of issues that shape the realities of “nearness” — such as terrorism, climate change, people movement, pandemics, globalization, and the fair distribution of resources. It is an attempt to act like responsible neighbors.

Following the Boxing Day Tsunami, the extraordinary humanitarian concern that every-day Australians demonstrated for their Indonesian brothers and sisters showed that a non-political “language” of regional cooperation was possible. (Australia was actually the largest Tsunami-relief aid donor. This was characterized by the biggest non-government, community fundraising appeal in Australian history.)

If Australians talked the language of “humanitarianism” in the days following Dec. 26, 2004, then last week in Adelaide Mr. Gordon took the important step of making a distinction between politics and civil society, and between political disagreement and business cooperation.

As Gordon suggested: “Many Australian and Indonesian companies and agencies have a long history of close collaboration, and this can be of enormous benefit to new market entrants looking for assistance. In fact, these relationships are strong across the region, and must be continually nurtured”.

Australia needs an advocate to sponsor trade interests across the vast markets of ASEAN. Indonesia needs Australia as a friend to work collaboratively as the region’s politically stable, capital rich, “knowledge economy”. The AIBC’s position on trade and culture could potentially give the security treaty a “heart” by providing the practical means of ensuring that Australia’s most important neighbor remains not only “nearest” but and as the AIBC would wish — prosperous.


Questions about Corby

Rob Goodfellow, Melbourne.

Why have so many people taken up Schapelle Corby’s cause with passion and conviction?

Why it is that everyone has “an opinion”.

Is it the heart-breaking spectacle of a distraught young woman facing an uncertain future that has galvanized the sympathy of Australian society? Is it the intimate “reality-TV” format the media has used to portray her plight that has evoked such a strong reaction? Is it the harsh sentence of 20 years in Bali’s squalid Kerobokan Prison that has stirred the emotional cauldron?

Or is there something deeper at work in the hearts of ordinary Australians?

Corby is of course a real person in a terrible predicament — but she also represents beliefs Australians have about themselves.

Schapelle Corby is an “Aussie battler”. It is her ordinariness that defines her. Battlers all over Australia have identified with Schapelle Corby — not because they necessarily understand the issues — that’s not the point — it is because they believe in her.

This has become very personal.

Australians believe that Schapelle Corby is a victim. This is because many Australians feel they are victims too. They are edgy, angry and confused by the fundamental insecurity of living in a rapidly changing society and an increasingly dangerous world. At home they are nervous about the disintegration of essential services like health and education and public transport. They are terrified of an interest rate rise. They are apprehensive about the government’s sweeping industrial relations reforms. And, above all, they are worried they might not have a job next week.

The Corby case has created a focus for these frustrations.

The Corby case likewise plays on Australian’s deep fears of the north — in particular, the fear of Asia. This is not a new thing. It can be traced back to the immigration of Chinese laborers during the 1850s gold rushes and to 1901 when the colonies federated, arguably for reasons of defense — from Asia; it is seen through the bombing of Darwin and the threat of invasion by the Japanese during World War Two, through the turmoil of the Vietnam War and in the Bali and Australian Embassy bombings.

As a nation Australia has only had a short period of people-to-people engagement with our immediate neighborhood. Indonesia, for example, is a place of which much is believed but little is actually known — not unlike the Corby case. What is known however is that every night on television ordinarily Australians with little knowledge of Indonesia see a terrified young woman swamped by foreign police as she is jostled from prison to court.

Most Australians “feel” that Schapelle Corby is an innocent woman. This is in part due to the considerable efforts of Corby’s backer, Gold Coast mobile phone salesman Rob Bakir and her Bali-based legal defense team, who have been spectacularly successful in placing the case squarely in the court of Australian public opinion.

So effective has this media campaign been that Corby supporter Glenn Jeffers was able to infer with impunity that the Indonesian leader, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, somehow “owed Australia” the 27 year old former beauty student’s freedom — out of gratitude for Australia’s one billion dollars tsunami aid — and the lives of the Sea King helicopter crew who were killed on the Indonesian island of Nias last month.

“Mr President we have seen enough innocent lives wasted in the past year. Please sir, let’s not waste another innocent life”, pleaded Jeffers outside the court in Bali after the verdict was announced last Friday.

His final exhortation was symbolically delivered in perfectly practiced Bahasa Indonesia — “Schapelletidak bersalah” — Schapelle has done no wrong.

Jeffer’s comments come with a forewarning: The “Free Schapelle: Boycott Bali: Give us our Girl Back’ campaign will soon appear on t-shifts, baseball caps, car bumper stickers, and refrigerator magnets — not to mention the exclusive magazine contract, the book, the TV mini-series and the movie.

The strong feelings held by most Australians are however not necessarily based on an informed knowledge of our northern neighbor and their justice system. They are not even based on the prosecutor’s case or on an understanding of internationally accepted judicial process.

This extraordinary case is about more than guilt or innocence: But rather that Schapelle Corby is a painful representation of life’s uncertainties — uncertainties that can wash over us like a tsunami at any time.



Tsunami moves geopolitical ground too

Rob Goodfellow, New South Wales.

An unexpected consequence of the Aceh Tsunami Disaster has been a movement in the geopolitical ground.

Behind the scenes the “tectonic plates” of regional power are shifting.

The first movement is from the north. It is based on the fact that control of the Indian Ocean has hitherto been integral to India’s interests.

The Indian Navy is the world’s seventh largest. It consists of two fleets, the Western Fleet, homeported in Bombay on the Arabian Sea, and the Eastern Fleet, homeported in Visakhapatnam, on the Bay of Bengal.

The Americans, who are primarily a Pacific Ocean naval power, have suddenly and unexpectedly established an Indian Ocean presence, through their military-led tsunami relief efforts.

The complicating factor is that the Chinese Navy, which comprises the Northern Fleet (based in Qingdao), the Eastern Fleet (Shanghai), the Southern Fleet (Zhanjiang) and a roving fourth force, is also projecting naval power into the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.

In a game of tactics and position, the Americans have ensured that their presence in Aceh isolates the Indian Navy and strategically neutralizes the potential influence of the Chinese.

American interest in the region has a long history dating back to the 1950s. At this time the North Sumatra-based, CIA-backed, Pemerintah Revolusionir Republik Indonesia — Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia, or PRRI-Rebellion, directly challenged Indonesia’s foreign policy drift towards the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China.

In particular, the U.S was preoccupied with the rise of the Partai Komunis Indonesia — the PKI, then the third largest Communist Party in the world.

During the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Indonesia was known as the U.S foreign policy’s “southern anchor”. When President Sukarno told the U.S “to go to hell with your aid” in March 1964, the Americans believed the Indonesian “ship had run aground”.

The pro-U.S, Soeharto-led military countercoup of the early morning of Oct. 1, 1965, re-set the “anchor”.

Today things are much more complicated than during the Cold War. The ability to positively influence, rather than merely control Indonesia, numerically the world’s largest Muslim nation (230 million), remains paramount to the U.S “War on Terror”.

The Americans are clearly concerned that the new “fault line” in Asia is the threat of a pan-Islamist movement, one that potentially unites the mass-base of Indonesian Islam, the rallying-cry of resentment over the mistreatment of southern Thai Muslims, Malaysian organizational capability and Mindanao-based Moro Islamic Liberation Front experience in guerrilla-warfare.

The second “tectonic” movement is from the south. Australia’s diplomatically sophisticated response to the tsunami disaster has surprised everyone. The Australian Government is the largest single government-to-government donor to disaster relief efforts in Indonesia, contributing a staggering A$1 billion in addition to the proceeds of the largest public fundraising effort in Australian history.

All of Prime Minister John Howard’s previous diplomatic shortcomings have been temporarily set aside.

Unlike the U.S, Australia’s interests in the region are more about trade and security than ideology and global power. Australia is a highly successful trading nation with an economy valued at some US$800 billion — which dwarfs Indonesia’s $180 billion economy and eclipses the combined economies of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

With a population of only 20 million, Australia’s continued prosperity relies on security, stability, innovation, trade and growth.

Australia’s tsunami response has redefined Australia’s role in Asia practically overnight. The established momentum for change, from a proto-European, Western-oriented, resources-based economy, to a fully integrated, knowledge-based, regional partner has accelerated. Australians are beginning to genuinely understand that Indonesia really is their gateway to the markets of Asia. Indeed, Australia’s trade security relies on the free movement of shipping along lines that extend from West Timor to the Straits of Malacca.

Indonesia, on the other hand, is beginning to recognize that Australia is an asset and not a threat.

This new found goodwill has reinforced the idea that Indonesia and Australia have at least two things in common. Both have strategic interests that lay to the north. Indonesia and Australia are in fact natural strategic allies. Both are cultural bridges between East and West. Indonesia has the capacity to explain Australia to Asia. Australia is able to explain Indonesia to the U.S. and Europe.

However, despite diverse North/South motives, the extraordinary global response to the tsunami disaster is evidence that the world will not allow “the southern anchor” to drift into un-chartered waters; Indonesia is too important. All of the key players, the U.S., China, India, Japan and Australia, while advancing their own interests, at least appreciate that a prosperous, democratic, secular, and unitary Indonesian State will guard against a different sort of upheaval to the one experienced on the morning of Dec. 26, 2004.




national museum jakarta

Can Australia ever be part of Asia?

Opinion and Editorial – October 30, 2003


Singaporean Prime Minister Goh’s recent comments that Australia cannot be considered “part of Asia” until its Asian population reaches 51 percent should be questioned. What is an Asian? How culturally homogeneous is Asia. What does Muslim Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei have in common with the Confucius world of the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, and Singapore?

What do these societies share with Teravada Buddhist Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand? What about Roman Catholic Philippines and East Timor, Shinto Japan, Mahayana-Zen Buddhist Tibet and Mongolia?

How do they fit into a definition of what it is to be Asian? Indeed 51 percent of all South Koreans are Christian; many Koreans are strongly influenced by American-style Protestant Christianity. Does this now make South Korea technically “Western”?

Various comments about Australia’s place in the region made during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) have revealed a startling reality. The difference between cultures is like an iceberg; 90 percent is unseen. Australia is only one example.

In terms of the relationship between the culturally diverse nations of Asia, the ten per cent we see, such as physical appearance, styles of dress and demeanor, lead many to think that so called “Asians” share more in common than they really do. This is not about how you present a business card. It is about radically different worldviews, assumptions, ethics, morals and prejudices. Differences in beliefs, thought processes, time orientation, gender roles, rituals, conflict resolution, and even leadership images can not be easily brushed aside.

These areas of distinctiveness have to be acknowledged and investigated through a process of mutual tolerance and adaptation. Singapore knows this better than most. Australia is learning.

Contrary to Goh’s comments Australia’s role in the region is precisely defined by “differentness” and how to prosper from it. As the only “Western” nation (whatever that means) to share a common boarder with Asia, the opportunities for Australia in cross-cultural engagement are enormous.

Indonesia, for instance, needs Australia to work with them in partnership to ensure that they remain, democratic, prosperous and unitary, and to advocate their complicated problems to the United States (who by the way can hardly understands Australia despite the fact that both societies are allegedly “Anglo-Saxon” — i.e. President Bush’s misinformed comments about Australia being a regional Sheriff).

Australia needs an advocate in ASEAN. Australia needs markets. Australia needs regional security. As General Secretary Sutjipto of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) said recently, “Australia’s best defense is a better relationship with Indonesia”.

It is strange, however, given Goh’s APEC comments, that Singapore has actually been Australia’s best friend in Asia since the end of the Vietnam War. This is because Singapore is undergoing exactly the same process as Australia. There is an argument that the Island State is not really “Asian” at all, nor is it for that matter “Western”.

It is rather uniquely “Singaporean”, a perfect blend of many influences — British, Chinese, Malay, and Indian. Likewise Australia is in the process of transforming itself into neither a “European” nor an “Asian” society, but rather something uniquely “Australian”. Many Australians understand better now than at any time since Federation in 1901, that their destiny is in the region. As Former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans once said, Australia does have a place in Asia — as “the odd man in”. There is a well-established precedent for this process in, yes, Singapore.

Under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore discovered that even a country without natural resources could prosper if they applied global logic. That is, if they could integrate both Eastern and Western practices into managing capital they could attract the right level of co-operation from multinational corporations and expand into new markets.

Singapore has been able to integrate two very different approaches to social organization. These are the “rule of man”, or a 3,000-year-old Confucius code of behavior and conduct, and a millennium-old system of British jurisprudence. Because of the meshing of these two very different, and ancient, value systems, Singapore has been able to successfully compete in both Asian and European/North American markets.

They have done this by building on the social strengths inherent in group orientation and collectivism with the prerequisites of post-industrial Western commercial rationalism — rule of law, policy predictability and bureaucratic transparency.

For Australians the greatest challenge is actually to follow Singapore, by adapting Australians natural problem-solving abilities, initiative, and goal orientation to the network-based relationship building skills of Australia’s northern neighbors.

A good example of far-reaching adaptation is that in 1980 Lee made the decision to adopt English, a Germanic-based tongue, as the first language of the Island State — a brave initiative in a country where more than 70 percent of its citizens also speak one of a number of Chinese dialects.

Can the leaders of the region who gathered in Bangkok image a time when Australian’s political leaders could be prepared to make similar pragmatic compromises for the sake of greater regional economic integration and general prosperity? The answer is — it is already happening. And like the story of Singapore it is about engagement. It has little to do with ethnic composition.



‘Tracking Cloth’ a success

I am writing to publicly thank the many people who made the June to September 2002 “Tracking Cloth” exhibition a great success. This wonderfully creative exhibition of textile and fiber art, which toured the Indonesian cities of Denpasar, Yogyakarta and Jakarta, was the culmination of three years work by Wollongong City Gallery.

The exhibition demonstrated that Australian artists have been positively influenced by their experiences with Indonesia. Symbolically this illustrated to a wide audience that Australians respect the Indonesian people — a message that was very well accepted at all levels, including the political elite and the press (including generous coverage by The Jakarta Post).

In fact, in an extraordinary expression of warmth, Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri stated that “the exhibition had created a symbol of goodwill between our two neighboring nations”. This goodwill was also reflected in the caliber of exhibition patrons, which included the governor of Bali, Dewa Beratha, the Crown Princess of Yogyakarta, Sri Gusti Pembayun, and in Jakarta former trade minister and Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore, Gen. (ret) Luhut Panjaitan.

Within Indonesia the exhibition was interpreted as a sophisticated means of bringing very different people together. Major articles appeared in Indonesian’s largest daily newspapers discussing not only the cultural merits of the works, but perhaps more importantly, the new language of mutual respect these works conveyed.

Most journalists commented that “Tracking Cloth” was a way of finding social and cultural similarities, rather than just concentrating on and illuminating differences and disagreements. In contrast to the differences that have so often defined the Indonesia-Australia relationship, the exhibition created a safe space in which issues could be raised. It was a starting point. And from these relationships of trust and understanding local opportunities in education, business and diplomacy are already flowing.