Virtually the entire virtual (I’ve warned you before – ED) Jakarta Internet expat community, and indeed that right across Indonesia, was in uproar this morning as the country’s leading expat forum, Living in Indonesia (LII-EF), had their main servers disconnected from the Web following an early morning raid by crack Pak Polisi unit, DENSUS 88.
Details are emerging only slowly, though it is already clear that the CEO and several members of the Management Team together with a number of the websites administrative staff have been arrested, and are now being questioned at Central Jakarta Police Headquarters.
Speaking outside LII-EF’s now boarded up and rather seedy looking third floor headquarters in Jl. Falatehan, web site “Super Moderator” Atlanta told us “actually. I usually work in our Menado office and was just visiting. As it’s Ramadan, we start at 5:30 in the morning so that staff can get away to their families in plenty of time to “Buka Puasa” and it was not long after we all arrived, and seconds after tear gas canisters had gone off in the open office area, that several heavily armed members of what I now know to be DENSUS 88 came in through the windows, while as many as a dozen burst through the door from the reception area”.
LII-EF and its sister company, Living in Indonesia (LI2), opened their doors in September 1997 with a business model built around support from a wide array of business and professional sponsors while providing an expat related Indonesian information source free of charge. They are believed to employ in the region of 20 staff across the Archipelago.
Also to be found outside LII-EF’s offices early morning was a small but growing crowd of its users distressed by the loss of their connection to the world. Long time member “Bung Fred” was outraged by the development and told us “It’s Ramadan and the pubs are closed half the bloody time, who the hell will I have to argue with now?” adding “they kick me off the forum from time to time but they are great people”.
Pak Osusanto, who told your reporter that he provided free two way Bahasa-English translations to the forum’s members, said to your man on the spot “Saya sedih sekali, Pak” before helpfully translating this instantaneously as “I am very sad, Sir”. Most of his customers seem to be expats looking for dirty words in Indonesian and there is some hilarious stuff on his thread, try it out here.
A Latin American looking guy with a moustache told us his forum name was Man of Maize and described himself as a “magic realist” and was to share with us that he was on his way to have a lens checked out at the Canon service centre when he saw the squad of DENSUS 88 storming the building, which is right next door to OSCAR pub, “they looked like pretty mean hombres” he told us, adding, “ten minutes later I saw them coming out with the servers, there were tears in my eyes man, like there is so much of me and so many other people on those things”.
Standing next to Man of Maize were friends and identical twins, Mim and Kika, clearly upset about developments with at least one of them in tears, “and to add to everything else, we are not going to be able to get rid of all the books now” Kika was to say rather cryptically.
Mas Budi, our IT guru, tells us that LI2 has a prehistoric feel that “looks like it hasn’t changed much since it was launched, while LII-EF is powered by the popular vBulletin online community software“ adding that “they could do with buying the VBulletin Mobile Suite App as most Internet-ing in Indonesia is actually done on mobile platforms these days – and while they are at it they should move all their LI2 information stuff over toVBulletin and have just one platform to support”. Well, er, thanks, Budi.
As we reached our publication deadline, the reasons for the raid were still so unclear that even we couldn’t make one up.
On the bright side, “Super Moderator” Atlanta told us “we have back up servers in the Galapagos Islands and they will be brought up in the next hour or so, though posts after midnight last night will all have been lost unfortunately, though at that time there is usually only Bung Fred online”.