Well, the year is coming to a close. It feels like we started this just yesterday, but we at Coconuts Jakarta have had an incredibly fun time bringing you the best / weirdest / most frustrating / most wondrous stories to come out of Indonesia, particularly its capital.
That’s despite the fact that 2017 was largely a depressing one for news from Indonesia — filled with troubling tales of rising religious intolerance and political tensions that culminated in the imprisonment of former Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama at the conclusion of his controversial blasphemy case.
While we do often write about the depressing political reality in Jakarta and Indonesia, our most read stories of the year generally tackled social issues, ranging from serious topics like sexual harassment and social media addiction to more amusing stories such as Indonesian men’s fascination with Japanese porn (we also had a popular story about Japanese porn last year, go figure).
Here are, in ascending order, are Coconuts Jakarta’s top 10 stories in 2017:
See? What did we just tell you?
Take Indonesian men’s evident obsession with Japanese porn and add to that the fact that one Japanese Adult Video (JAV) idol shot scenes in the Indonesian capital, featuring shots of the famous Kota Tua tourist district and other locations. The result? Instant social media buzz, and with local media talking nonstop about the pornstar, known as Sailor Amane, for weeks after the porn video came out.
We have to admit we’re proud of the fact that we popularized the term “JAV-karta”, which one local media outlet liked so much that they dedicated a whole article to the pun.
- Viral photo of policewoman, unable to adopt abandoned baby because she’s not from ‘majority religion’, pulls heartstrings in Indonesia
Taking a heartbreaking turn, our ninth most read story of the year is a sad tale about an infant who was deprived of a loving parent because the policewoman who wanted to adopt him was from a minority religion in her area.
This story came at a time when religious tensions were especially high (though they seem to always be these days), and it highlights the existence of discriminatory regional bylaws based on religion.
- Wife of Indonesian police general slaps airport security officer after refusing to take off watch for X-ray check (VIDEO)
Smug self-entitled people seem to exist seemingly everywhere but Indonesia seems to have no shortage of them. Earlier this year, the wife of an Indonesian police general drew much public scrutiny for her arrogant refusal to remove her watch at an airport security checkpoint.
But what really put this incident over the top is that she slapped the airport security officer who simply asked her to comply with security regulations. Luckily, the whole incident was caught on video, proving that arrogance is an embarrassing look on anyone no matter who they are.
Our guest writer Kate Walton, a woman’s right activist living in Jakarta, wrote this eye-opening piece about a social experiment in which she counted the number of times she was sexually harassed on her brief walk from her home to a mall.
The result is indicative of the hardships women in the capital face when they’re out in public on a daily basis, no matter how modestly or provocatively they dress.
As enlightening as this article was, it became apparent to us that misogyny is still very much a problem in the region after we received many comments on the story from people who argued that catcalling did not qualify as sexual harassment and that it was simply one of Indonesia’s cultural idiosyncrasies (to which we say, you obviously lack the capacity to empathize, sirs).
- Officially fired by Marvel, Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf says, ‘When Jews are offended, there is no mercy’
Indonesia has some really talented artists, some of whom have gone on to draw superheroes for global publishers like Marvel and DC. Unfortunately, arguably the most well-known of these artists, Ardian Syaf, managed to draw infamy upon himself through his questionable actions.
Syaf was fired by Marvel Comics earlier this year after he was caught sneaking in references to the hardline Islamist movement against former Governor Ahok, as well as references attacking another religion, into an issue of the X-Men comic books. He showed no remorse for his actions, saying that Marvel only fired him because he offended Jews (the publisher stated that they let him go due to his unprofessionalism).
- Popular talk show host Sarah Sechan quits social media with heartfelt message that has us all questioning what we’re doing with our lives online
While many of us go about our daily lives wondering how we’re gonna get our next hit of social media likes, Indonesian celebrity Sarah Sechan became a role model for anyone seeking to escape from the clutches of social media addiction when she quit it altogether this year.
She had much to lose in terms of popularity too, having 158,000 followers on Instagram and 2.6 million Twitter followers before she called it quits. But she justified it all by saying, “I need to really start living and enjoy every moment of my life, not busy trying to make a point or seek approval from strangers.”
- Thai actress tells Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil she loves his city on Instagram, he replies: ‘I hope she’s not a man’
Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil is beloved in his city and many consider him to be among the frontrunners in next year’s West Java gubernatorial election.
But everybody makes embarrassing mistakes and Kamil’s was his inappropriate transphobic comment towards a famous Thai actress who complimented his city on social media.
Well, at least he apologized and removed the controversial comment.
- Viral: Muslim woman sings soaring rendition of ‘Ave Maria’ at church funeral as a final tribute to her friend
While many, including us, have been worried about the growing sings of religious intolerance in Indonesia, sometimes people come along to remind us that respect and tolerance are the pillars that founded, and have been holding up, this country.
We warn you, though: there has not been a single instance of us not getting goosebumps from watching this incredible rendition of ‘Ave Maria’, especially given the context in which it was sung. And we have replayed this many, many times.
- 16-year-old boy says he locks up his 71-year-old bride at home when he goes out so ‘other men won’t bother her’
Love is blind, and perhaps that rings most true with this mismatched couple. Despite their marriage being technically illegal, their union has proven to be one of the biggest and oddest stories in all of Indonesia this year.
Even though the groom is much, much younger, he has exhibited complete dominance over his far more mature bride — their dynamic being an example of the patriarchal values still held dear in much of Indonesia.
- VIDEO: Little girl cries inconsolably after not getting to see the president, so Jokowi gives her a call on NYE
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo continues to be hugely popular in Indonesia and, at the moment, his reelection in 2019 seems like a sure thing.
The little girl from this video will not be old enough to vote by then, but there’s no doubt that she’ll be cheering President Jokowi on. After all, missing out on seeing the president seemed to be the end of the world for her, but the amazing NYE surprise Jokowi gave her was incredibly cute and seemed well worth it.