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The Best Nightlife in Jakarta: Clubs, Bars, Spas, Restaurants
The #1 Reference of Jakarta nightlife: Bars, Night Clubs, Discos, Restaurants, Karaokes, Massage and Spas!...

Published: Tue 28 Apr 2015 05:14:09 AM CEST.

Favicon 13 Illogical Facts About Drugs in Indonesia
28 Apr 2015, 5:14 am

"Indonesia has some of the World's strictest drugs laws". 

This statement is repeated in most local and international media, but it is quite inaccurate if you look at the facts. A more realistic statement would be to say that Indonesia has some of the world's most inconsistent laws and policies against drugs.

The official rhetoric from the Government is that the country wants to protect the nation's children from the danger of drugs, yet the current policies are causing even more suffering while failing to stop drug use.

An example? Parents in Indonesia are required to denounce their own children if they become aware of them taking drugs. This causes drug users to hide their addiction to their family, and in the end prevent them from getting the support they need.

Unfortunately, there are quite many other troubling incoherences. I have found 13 of them as follow:

1) Sensationalistic speeches about drugs without any reliable statistical data

The National Drug Agency (BNN) has shown its incapacity in providing the public with credible statistics regarding the number of deaths from drug use in Indonesia.

Jokowi once spoke of 50 deaths per day, but after the figures were criticized, he started to use new ones ->  "33 people die of drug addition every day in Indonesia".

This number comes out of nowhere (it might be based on surveys) and it must be used with the utmost precaution. Furthermore, this number does not say whether these people died from overdose, from suicide, or from drug-related diseases such as HIV. It does not tell as well if those deaths were from heroin, ecstasy, marijuana, misused over-the-counter drugs, etc. 

Even if we consider 33 deaths per day, it means 12,045 deaths per year for a population of 250 M people. That's a 48 per million death rate.

Surprisingly, the Netherlands, one of the countries with the less punitive drug laws on the planet, has a 10.2 per million death rate only.

This could mean two things: 
  • If the Indonesian statistics are correct, then we should wonder why the Indonesian death rate is 4 times as high as in the Netherlands.
  • If the Indonesian statistics are incorrect, thus inflated, we have to wonder why would Jokowi try to sensationalize the drug issue?

2) Making the drug issue a national priority while ignoring other preventable causes of death

Let's give the benefit of the doubt to Jokowi and consider that there is indeed 12,045 drug-related deaths every year in Indonesia. This data should be compared to other causes of avoidable death in the country:

Tuberculosis: Indonesia has more than 90,000 deaths from tuberculosis every year, a preventable and curable disease. Most of the efforts to fight it are not coming from the Government but from international aid agencies, namely the Global Fund. Read More on the NY Times: Losing the Fight Against Tuberculosis

The fight against Malaria, which used to be one of the top causes of deaths in Indonesia is mostly undertaken by International organizations as well and almost all of its funding is foreign:
Financing of Malaria Programs in Indonesia (WHO)
Car accidents:  In 2002, there were just over 8,000 road deaths every year in Indonesia. In 2014, that number rose to almost 40,0000 deaths, that's a 500% increase!
Yet, you don't see the Government declaring war on potholes nor many campaigns of prevention. 

Tobacco kills over 200,000 persons every year in Indonesia. The number of smokers is actually rising as Indonesia is failing to tackle the issue. Isn't it ironic that the top two richest men in Indonesia are legal drug sellers -> Budi Hartono (Djarum - 16,5 billion $) and Susilo Wonowidjojo (Gudang Garam - 8 billion $)?
Don't Quit Smoking ? Advertising for LA Lights cigarettes
I am not saying that drug is not a problem. On the contrary, like every issue, it requires rational and pragmatic solutions. Populist, emotionally-charged speeches about "saving the nation" and "waging war on drugs", based on questionable statistics, are actually damaging. They encourage only the most punitive solutions, the ones that have failed so far everywhere else in the world.

3) Indonesia is the country in Southeast Asia that spends the less for healthcare (after Myanmar)

While the Indonesian Government talks a lot about the health of its citizens and how it is threatened by drugs, it actually spends very little for them. According to the World Health Organization, only 2,6% of Indonesia's GDP is spent for healthcare. 

This is to be compared with the spendings of the following countries: Vietnam 6,8%, Thailand 3,9%, Singapore 4%, Laos 4,5%, Malaysia 4,4%, Philippines 3,6%, China 5,1%, Cambodia 5,6%, Japan 9,5%, South Korea 6,9%.

Only Myanmar is spending less as a percentage of its GDP, namely 2%.

4) A War on Drug, but not a War on Drug-Related Deaths

The efforts of Indonesia to prevent drug-related deaths are very limited. Most harm reduction programs currently existing are actually financed and led by Foreign donors. 

Drug use and the spread of HIV are intrinsically linked as it is estimated that up to 50% of injecting drug users in Indonesia are contaminated with HIV.

Reducing the number of drug-related deaths would require fighting against the transmission of HIV through needle sharing and educating drug users about safe sex practices.

The budget to fight Aids in Indonesia is mostly financed by International sources, not by the Indonesia Government itself. Out of $50,831,105 allocated in 2010, only $19,841,442 was financed by the domestic/public sector and the rest by International donors.

People would argue that Indonesia is a poor country and cannot afford to spend more money. What I would argue is that the Jakarta Council was able to find over $14 million dollars to purchase UPS systems that no one asked for. It seems that money can always be found when the objective is to fill the pockets of a few.

Furthermore, Indonesia's strict drug laws have been known to worsen the difficulties for drug users. Harsh punishments will cause them to hide instead of seeking for help. If they do not have access to clean syringes, they are more likely to get HIV, and in turn, more likely to spread it to other people. The longer they are hiding, the longer the risk of spreading the disease.

It makes me very confused about the objectives of the Government. Is it trying to help drug users as it pretends it is, or is it only interested in punishing them for making the wrong choices?

5) More Indonesian on death row in foreign countries than in Indonesia itself

In 2013, there were 188 Indonesians on death row abroad on drug charges (236 in total). This number should be compared to the only 56 Indonesians on death row in Indonesia.

If we take Malaysia, it has 250 Malaysians on death row abroad, but 600 on death row in the country. This makes more sense to me.

I find such an imbalance, more inmates abroad than in Indonesia, quite revealing: Most likely, Indonesians who are arrested in Indonesia for drugs can simply buy their way out to escape the death row while Indonesians arrested abroad cannot.

What disturbs me is that it means poor people are more likely to be in jail while rich ones will not risk anything. According to Rudhy Wedhasmara, the founder of 'Empowerment and Justice Action' (EJA) Surabaya, an NGO that helps victims of narcotics: 

"We see that in practice the majority of those who are caught, then eventually sentenced to death are those who are weak, psychologically vulnerable to exploitation, and pressed for financial crush".

6) The executions target foreigners in priority, even though they represent only half of the death row inmates

Foreigners are often subjected to harsher sentences than Indonesians, unless they can bribe their way out or benefit from mysterious help (see below about incoherences).

Many people don't seem to understand how the death penalty works in Indonesia. When a death penalty sentence is given to an inmate, there is not a specific date given for his execution. He could spend the rest of his life waiting.

In fact, the one who decides about the execution is the President. He is the one who chooses who should be executed and when.

In January 2015, Jokowi hand-picked 6 persons to be executed, among which 5 foreigners. In April 2015, Jokowi selected 9 foreigners among 10 persons to be executed. 

What is surprising is that there are only 35 foreigners on death row in Indonesia and 56 Indonesians. This mean that foreigners represent 87,5% of the executed, but only 38% of the inmates on death row.

In several cases, it has been blatant that there is a discrimination between Indonesians and Foreigners. For instance, Frenchmen Serge Atlaoui was given the death penalty but the Indonesians who were running the lab he was working at were only condemned to a life sentence.

7) Indonesia is sending drug users to prison instead of rehabilitation 

"These young folks who have become drug addicts have lost their past and present so we should not allow them to lose their future. We should guide them back. They don't belong in a penitentiary but in a rehabilitation centre" Susilo Bambang Yudhono

In spite of the recent efforts to build more rehabilitation facilities, 54,000 detainees in Indonesia in 2013 were drug users, out of a total of 162,000 inmates. This should be compared to the 18,000 only who were sent to rehabilitation the same year. 

The first explanation is the law itself. Even though officially, Jokowi talks about drug users as victims who should be protected, the fact is there is little differentiation made between a drug user and a drug trafficker. 

Even the 2014 amendment to the 2009 Drug Law stipulates that unless a drug user turns himself in to the police, he will face jail time. Judges and courts are themselves not following the law and sending people caught using drugs in prison most of the time.

The other issue of course is the lack of rehabilitation centers. The Government talks about building more facilities, yet it still has to act on its promise. 

Because of this, the prisons are full of simple users which is even more risky for them. They are more likely to keep using drugs in prison as it is known to be widely available there while being more exposed to risks of HIV. Read more on the UNODC website.

In spite of the "save our children" speech, many Indonesians have a negative view about drug users and do not seem to be interested in rehabilitated them. 

Even the Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, one of the largest Islamic organisations in Indonesia which is in charge of establishing drug rehabilitation centers in the country declared :"Drug addicts deserve severe punishment, namely death".

8) Frequent cases of abuse of drug users by police officers, including rapes

Another incoherence about the so-called will from the Indonesian Government to protect drug users is the fact that many of them, instead of being guided by the police are actually abused.

There are several stories reporting these cases, but if you want to know more, I advise you to read the following: Abuses against injecting drug users in Indonesia

According to this study, 60% of drug users faced police abuse during their detention time, including beating of the feet, hands, chest, and head by officers. Sexual abuses were mentioned in 6% of the testimonies.

I also advise you to read this article about girls, sometimes prostitutes, who were gang raped by policemen so that they would not be charged with drug abuse.

Again, are we trying to punish drug users or are we trying to help them?

9) Celebrities, VIPs, Drug Lords, Policemen avoid harsher sentences

Sentencing in Indonesia is extremely arbitrary. In general, VIPs, celebrities, policemen and military officers avoid prison and go directly to rehabilitation (if not home).

For instance, when Putri Aryanti Haryowibowo, the great granddaughter of Suharto was caught using crystal methamphetamine, she avoided prison and was only sent to rehab (I wonder if she actually went).

Raffi Ahmad, a local celebrity, has not been tried yet more than 2 years after being arrested with several types of drugs.

The Head of Shariah Police in Aceh, Zulkarnain, crashed his car into a tree in 2013. Hashish was found in his car and he tested positive for drugs. Nothing happened to him. He actually threatened a journalist that if he reported on the story he would be turned to ashes.

Leeza Ormsby, from Australia, was less lucky and she spent 9 months in jail for a joint. A 14-year old Australian boy also spent 2 months in jail for being caught with 3.6 grams of marijuana. Foreigners may have lenient sentences sometimes: Thierry Verchere did only 10 months after being caught with almost $50,000 worth of cocaine which is strange considering another Frenchman, Vincent Petrone, was sentenced to 6 years for 69 grams of hashish (less than $1,000 value).

If you follow Indonesian news, you will read quite often about policemen or military caught using or trafficking drugs. Some reports, though a little dated, mention that it is very common for policemen to keep the drugs confiscated or to sell them.

Yet, it is rare to hear of a policeman being jailed for drug use, and even more to be executed. On the contrary, in some cases it seems like they can benefit from preferential treatment: 34 policemen tested positive, nothing happened.

More recently in April 2015, the death sentences of two Iranians were commuted to life in prison. This came as a surprise because simultaneously, Jokowi was refusing clemency to several inmates, among which some had shown signs of rehabilitation.

The case of Hengky Gunawan is even more disturbing. He was caught with 11.1 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and materials for drug’s production worth over $1 million but his death sentence was reduced to 15 years in prison and then to 12 years only.

The proportionality of sentences is unfortunately inexistent in Indonesia and there is no improvement in sight on the subject. 

10) Drug is mostly seen as an imported, Western problem

For most Indonesians, the drug problem comes from Foreigners only. Medias and politicians are responsible for that as they tend to misrepresent it as if all the drugs traffic was in the hands of International traffickers. 

They also often forget to mention that large quantities of drugs are produced in Indonesia to be exported. Naturally, since the problem is seen as a Foreign one, Indonesians are very supportive of harsher sentences against them.
Drug use has actually been prevalent in Indonesia for centuries, even long before the Dutch arrived in the country. In the 17th century, numerous documents attest that the use of opium was widespread in Java. The habit of smoking opium by adding it to tobacco was developed in Indonesia before spreading to China. In other parts of Indonesia, some narcotics obtained from plants and trees have also been consumed for ages such as betel nuts in Nusa Tenggara or marijuana in Aceh.

If you want to know more: Opium and Merchants in Batavia in the Long Eighteenth Century.

The truth is, Foreigners are part of the problem, but also a big part of the solution. Rehabilitation centers, harm reduction programs, trainings and distribution of needles/medication are largely funded by International donors. 

11) Nightclubs known to be ridden with drugs operate freely and are protected by the police

When police raids or "Razzia" happen in North Jakarta clubs, the result is usually quite small: According to a BNN spokesperson, 100 drug users were arrested in 25 raids last year.

If you have ever been to those clubs, you will understand that there is something wrong. A single raid in a place like Mille's or Golden Crown should cause at least 500 arrests.

The BNN spokesperson also mention that after 25 police raids, they haven't caught a single drug dealer yet: ""Everytime a raid is held, we always encounter in drug users, but never caught a dealer or courier. This proves that drug dealers doesn't always appear in night clubs". 

The BNN seems either very naive or very corrupted. I let you choose one.

It is well known that clubs are always warned in advance when a police raid is planned, thus naturally no dealers will be present. Only a few people who have no clues, including foreigners, will be caught.

After 25 unfruitful raids, maybe the BNN should make an investigation on who informs the clubs? Maybe the BNN should make an investigation on who owns those clubs?

12) Impunity for the bosses of drug trafficking and drug distribution

Since Jokowi has declared a war on drugs, I don't remember of a single mafia boss or big trafficker who has been arrested.

In the past, as mentioned above, known traffickers suck as Hengky Gunawan have escaped not only the death penalty, but also life sentences.

I invite you to read my article about the 30 Groups who Own Jakarta Nightlife to better understand this point. You will learn the links between Tomy Winata, one of Jakarta's alleged mafia boss with some notorious drug-ridden clubs in North Jakarta.

While Indonesia is said to be at war against drugs, I was surprised of see that Tomy Winata paid all the expenses of a trip to Las Vegas on May 21st, 2012 to several police officials and high executives of the National Drug Agency (BNN) including Gories Mere the Head of BNN at that time.

More recently, we could see Tomy Winata together with the new head of the BNN, Anang Iskandar to promote a "Drug Rehabilitation Program"[sic].
Tomy Winata with the head of the National Drug Agency
Top politicians like SBY, Megawati, or current Vice President Yusuf Kalla have been known to frequent him.
Tomy Winata with Megawati, previous President of Indonesia, mentor of Jokowi
Tomy Winata with SBY, former President of Indonesia
Tomy Winata with Yusuf Kalla, current Vice President of Indonesia
Even though Tomy Winata has never been convicted for drugs, he has also never been subject to an investigation.

13) Indonesia is ignoring the fight against illicit financial flows

According to the UN, the most effective method to fight drugs is to combine those three approaches:
  • Reduce demand with prevention programs and treatments
  • Reduce supply by dismantling drug trafficking organizations
  • Control illicit financial flows
We have seen that prevention programs and treatments are ignored by the Government and mostly managed by International aid agencies. The fight against drug trafficking organization by the Government is just smoke and mirrors as it is mostly mules, drug users and small fish that are being caught.

The Government is also failing at controlling its illicit financial flows. According to the Global Financial Integrity organization, Indonesia ranks 11th in the list of countries with the largest financial outflows. In 2012 alone, over $ 20 billion left the country illegally, among which drug money.

Yet, the Government has not shown any commitment in its fight against suspicious funds. Budi Gunawan, currently the number 2 of Indonesia's police force is known to have had over $7 million of suspicious money in his family's bank account. Yet Jokowi didn't push for a proper investigation...


If you are Indonesian, there are 80% chance you disagree with me. Please don't hesitate to comment, I'll love to have an interesting discussion about the topic.

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Favicon 13 Reasons the Indonesian Police is the Best in the World
25 Apr 2015, 1:52 pm
Even though the Indonesian Police is receiving some bad press occasionally, I thought it was time to celebrate their work and ethic through a short illustrated post. I haven't traveled that much in the world, but it seems fair to me to say that the Indonesian Police could be among the best in the planet.

Here are 13 reasons why:

The Indonesian Police is particularly compassionate towards the sick and the elderly.

Pakubuwono XIII is thanking the police for its understanding
In 2015, the King of Solo was asked to provide a DNA sample so the police could check if he raped a 16 years old woman. Unfortunately, the King was feeling unwell that day. The Police understood the situation and dropped the case altogether, allowing one very sick man to remain free. More on the Jakarta Globe: Sick Solo King No Show For Questioning.

The Indonesian Police is a role model for many people who want to be super-heroes.

Angry Mobs are part of Indonesia's folklore
America has Batman, Britain has James Bond, Indonesia has "Angry Mobs". Angry mobs are even better than superheroes: They find the guilty people, they make a trial on the spot, and they execute the sentence. In most cases, the super power of the mob is gasoline but it can also be the mastering of ropes, sticks and knobs. Read more about it in the Economist: Lynching in Indonesia.

The Indonesian Police is not afraid of taking risks.

The bullet-proof vest proved very useful in this high-risk case
In February 2015, the Surabaya Police cracked down on illegal possession of Valentine chocolates and sweets. Even better, they seized condoms from couples who were consenting adults just about to make love. Rest assured, they all went to jail for your very own safety. Read more about it in the Jakarta Globe: Lovers Detained for Doing The Nasty Thing

The Indonesian Police is efficient.

Only Teh Botol and Teh Kotak permitted 
On April 22nd, 2015, it took 60 policemen to seize 20 bottles of alcohol during a citywide raid. According to my sources, 5 Policemen were carrying 4 bottles each and the remaining 55 were assigned to smoking cigarettes. How lucky we are that the police cares some much about health issues. Read more in The Jakarta Post: Police Raid Minimart.

Photo : Budhi Firmansyah Surapati / Beritajakarta.Com

The Indonesian Police is not afraid to admit its mistakes.

That was the picture before Daddy came to visit
Don't you hate people who never admit their mistakes? Indonesian Police does just the contrary. On January 20th 2015, Christopher Daniel Sjarif lost control of his car, killed 4 people and flew the scene. The urine tests came back positive for LSD and the driver himself confessed to taking drugs. Yet, a few days later, the Police said they made a mistake and that the drivers should be released as it was just a "pure accident". Christopher can certainly be happy that the police is not afraid to admit when it is wrong. Read more on the Jakarta Globe: Police Confused About LSD Suspect.

The Indonesian Police protects the innocent child.

The outrageous Panda jumper mobilized Mangga Besar police for a week

As most people, you are truly shocked by the indecent jumper shown in the picture above. Even though it does not really exist and it was just part of a joke, the Indonesian Police preferred to take this issue as seriously as possible and asked for the public's vigilance to prevent anyone from wearing it. Complete story on the DailyMail: Police Warning for Indecent Panda Jumper.

The Indonesian Police is made of angels.

The Police assured the test does not discriminate against women 
Only virgins are accepted in the Indonesian Police force. This makes sense because its moral is so pure that it cannot be corrupted by anyone who had intercourse. We all know that the 250,000,000 Indonesians that populate the country were all created without sexual intercourse. Read more on CNN: Virginity Test for Police Officers.

©Adek Berry (AFP/File)

The Indonesian Police is tremendously respected.

Policemen protecting the shade of a parking lot
The Indonesian people sees its Police force as a perfect example of honesty. In fact, almost 8% of the respondents of a Transparency International 2014 survey estimated that the country's Police Force is not corrupt. That's better than Pakistan and almost as good as Zimbabwe. Only some silly minds complain from time to time but it does not take long before they realize their mistake and apologize. Read more on the Jakarta Globe: Adrianus Apologizes for Calling National Police Corrupt.

Photo Source: Reuters

The Indonesian Police knows how to have fun.

Now who wants weed?
Just like anybody, some Indonesian policemen enjoy a little party and some drugs to blow off steam when needed. The good thing is that unlike other citizens, they don't have to worry too much about going to jail. More in the Jakarta Post: 34 Police Officer Unpunished After Positive Drug Test.

The Indonesian Police is capable of empathy, forgiveness and understanding.

Ahmad Dhani with good pal Himmler
Ahmad Dhani gave his 13 years old son a Mitsubishi Lander as a present. The boy was safely driving at 180 km/hour until it collided with two cars and killed 7 people. The Police concluded there was no wrongdoing on neither Dhani or his son's side and closed the case without charging anybody. Indonesians are so lucky that their Police understood that no one should be blamed for this insignificant matter. Read more on Jakarta Globe: Ahmad Dhani Not Charged.

The Indonesian Police knows about drugs that no other Police in the World knows.

The Policeman on the right is carrying the magic stone in his right hand
While rapists in Europe can keep abusing children as they please, Indonesian Police has discovered a new drug called "Magic Stone" that enables them to make more convictions of rapists. This drug was used by Neil Bantleman from Jakarta International School to rape kids in a "Secret Room" that only the Indonesian Police is able to perceive. Read more on the Jakarta Globe: Police Accuse JIS Teachers of Using Magic Stone.

Photo source: Adi Weda/European Pressphoto Agency

The Indonesian Police is generous.

Come on, come closer from the fire
In March 2015, the Police of Tangerang seized 3,3 tons of Marijuana. After much discussion, they decided that the best way to give back to the community was to make a big open air fire with it so everyone could feel high, free of charge. Read more in the Daily Mail: Entire Tangerang Town Get High.

The Indonesian Policemen are true believers.

In December 2014, the Jakarta Post published a cartoon that was criticizing ISIS in Iraq. The police could not accept that because the word Allah was in the cartoon so they summoned the Jakarta Post editor for questioning. They will not let anyone spread blasphemy. It is good to know that smart people are defending religions. Read More in the National Post: Indonesian Newspaper Accused of Blasphemy.

And finally, the Indonesian Police is fluent in English and knows how to give clear instructions to citizens:
With so many qualities, it is only normal that Indonesian Police officers, especially high ranking ones, receive a fair compensation for their work. I am scandalized when I read people complaining because Budi Gunawan, currently the number 2 Chief Police in the country earned 7,2M USD during his 2-year tenure as head of the Police Career Development. That's only 300,000 USD per month. I don't believe this money could have been better used.

First picture source: Aditia Noviansyah

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Favicon 30 Groups Who Own Jakarta Nightlife
25 Apr 2015, 1:58 pm
You would be surprised to know that 90% of Jakarta's main clubs, bars, spas and karaokes are in the hands of less than 50 persons and only about 30 groups.

It is quite difficult to know precisely who owns what because there are usually several partners in each business venture. This is a way to minimize the investment cost, to spread the risks and to help with the promotion. Each of the owners brings his network of friends, family, strategic connections and partners to support the business and to make it grow. Within the same group, it is also not uncommon to have several companies (PT) with different shareholders each. 

Another difficulty is that the real owners are sometimes hidden behind a nominee. This is especially true when the venue is reputed for hosting illegal activities such as drugs, prostitution or gambling. The best illustration for that is Tommy Winata who has the particularly of being a nominee who uses other nominees: He owns stakes in multiple companies without having his name mentioned and he owns stakes in companies on behalf of other people too. 

In spite of that, after very long hours of research and enquiries, I managed to get a fairly good picture of the people who own the largest and most famous clubs, bars and restaurants in Jakarta.

My first surprise was to see that the whole industry is dominated by about 30 big groups that can be split into a few categories:

  • The Underground Nightlife Kings: The owners of the infamous nightclubs and bars in North and West Jakarta, usually with strong ties to the Suharto regime.
  • The Post-Suharto Golden Generation: OPCO, Ismaya, Union Group, Potato Head, the owners of these trendy groups, started in the 2000s, are usually young people under 40, sons and daughters from wealthy Indochinese families who studied in the US/Australia. 
  • The Foreigners: An odd bunch, usually behind smaller pubs and bars with a majority of expat clients. Though foreigners are rarely owners, a lot of them work as Chefs or General Managers.
  • The Corporations: Some huge conglomerates own restaurants and bars. MRA, the owner of Hard Rock Café, MAP, the Salim Group, etc.
  • The New Generation and Smaller Groups: Groups that emerged in the late 2000 (All-In, Biko, Immigrant, Ryst).

Note: The list below is probably incomplete and there may be some errors. If you have better information, please take the time to write about it in the comment section below. 

The Underground Nightlife Kings

Alexis Group
Alexis Hotel, Play Club, Zen, Club 36, Emporium, Colosseum and 1001, Tease Club
Officially owned by Alex Tirta and managed with his son. There isn't much information available about them apart that they are badminton fans. A source working at Diageo Indonesia (PT Dima) told me that the Alexis Group is their biggest client and that Mr. Tirta could be one of their shareholders.
According to a plausible rumor, there are more than one owner in Alexis. Some names that circulate are Aliang or Rudi Widjaja.

Stadium Group
Stadium (closed), Malioboro, Malio Club, Sumo, Nebula, King Cross, Level V, Exodus, Kampus (closed), Rajamas (closed)
Rudi Susanto (also called Rudi Rajamas) is the official owner of the Stadium Group. He is the face that the employees can see and they call him Pak Rudi.  Most likely, he is only the visible part of the business and much bigger fishes are hiding behind this name.

In a study of Jakarta's sex industry written in 2005 (available here), John MacDougall, a graduate from Harvard University writes the following: 

"Rudi Rajamas controls the most lucrative sex industry venues while Apow focuses largely on gambling.  Both of these men are subordinate to Tommy Winata, a man with tremendous authority in Jakarta’s entertainment establishments and districts."

If you speak Indonesian, you could also read the following report from Tempo about the Gang of the 9 Dragons which controls drugs, prostitution, gambling and all mafia activities in Jakarta:"Isi Perut 'Geng Sembilan", May 31st 1999.

The legend that circulated for years about the Stadium was that it belonged to a General in the Indonesian army who was previously a boss at Pertamina. The only person to fit the description would have been Ibnu Sutowo but he died a few years before the Stadium opened. Still, you will see below that the Sutowo clan has a link to Classic Hotel Group, which is linked to several Gang of Nine figures. The son of Ibnu Sutowo, Adiguna Sutowo, is worth mentioning. He is a convicted criminal who shot to death a waiter of a club he owned (Fluid in Sultan Hotel, ex-Hilton, see here). 

Supra Group
Millenium (closed), Mille's, Sun City, Sands Hotel & Spa (closed), Batavia Hotel (closed)
Possible owners: Tommy Winata? Arief Cocong? Cahyadi dan Haryadi Kumala? Rudi Susanto? More likely all of them.
The Supra Group is very mysterious and I am not sure it still exists. On their website, they claim to be the owners of several business entities, among which a bank, an internet provider, etc... 
It seems they have been divesting and that their properties have changed owners: Batavia Hotel has changed name into De Rivier Hotel, Sands was sold to Agung Podomoro Land and changed its name to Sense Spa, Millenium was closed. A friend also told me that Sun City and Mille's are independently owned now.

For Sun City, he confirmed that it is headed by Arief Cocong, an associate of Tommy Winata and a Gang of Nine member.

One interesting thing was to browse the list of the few companies the server of Supra Group is hosting. It comprises KFC Indonesia (Gelael Group, close from Suharto), the Kartika Chandra Hotel (Sudwikatmono from Andika Group, a member of Suharto family) and the Grand Ancol Hotel which is the previous name for Alexis Hotel.

One certainty regarding Millenium Club is that it was founded by Cahyadi and Haryadi Kumala, who are also the owners of Sentul City and the Golden Boutique Hotels. In the latest news, they were imprisoned by the KPK in a corruption case (see here).

There is a possible link beween the Kumala brothers and the Gang of Nine: Millenium was located in Gadja Mada Plaza, owned by Artha Buana Sakti which belonged to Tommy Winata. In a 2006 interview to Tempo, he declared that 6 floors of the Mall were given to his Bank Artha Graha Prima to pay back a debt from Bank Harapan Sentosa. Gadja Mada was then sold to the Lippo Group in 2007.
The following article from Tempo also links the Kumalas to the Gang Of Nine (see here)

Artha Graha Group
Tommy Winata and friends in 2013 (photo: KanalSatu)
Huge conglomerate of Tommy Winata (TW)
Tommy Winata and his family may have shares or interests in several venues, but it is almost impossible to say which ones with certainty. Through Graha Artha, he controls Borobudur hotel and therefore Manhattan Club and Musro Club. He was also the owner of the Bengkel Entertainment Complex so it is very likely that he is the owner of Lucy in the Sky and Roxy Karaoke which replaced it. I have also heard that Sands belonged to him (thus linking him to the Supra Group above). Through his son Panji, he owns Discovery Sky in Ancol. I have heard repeatedly that he was the owner of Golden Crown and the Plaza Hotel Glodok, but a source working there told me the owner is a man named Johny Tan.

Regarding other properties, all we can see are his links with other people such as Arief Cocong, Rudi Susanto, Sugento Prananto or the Supra Group (through Sands). Those links have been detailed in several articles such as this one from the Indonesian Corruption Watch.

A theory is that TW is a nominee himself and acts for even more powerful people, people who were once in the inner circle of the late President Suharto. According to Dr. George J. Aditjondro (read here), the drug traffic in Jakarta was in the hands of the grand son of Suharto Ari Haryo Wibowo, also known as Ari Sigit. He could possibly be behind Tommy Winata as well. 

Something interesting to note is that the Lamborghini Club Indonesia often meets in places supposedly owned by Tommy Winata such as Lucy in the Sky or Ritz Carlton Pacific Place. It turns out that is that a former owner of the Lamborghini company was Tommy Suharto until he sold it after the Asian Crisis.

Classic Group
Classic Hotel & Spa, Terminal 2 and 5, Travel Hotel, FM1, FM7, AJ Brandon
I was not able to confirm the ownership of this group which comprises 3 of the largest bordellos in Jakarta. Ponco Sutowo is a potential candidate. He is the brother of Adiguna Sutowo (see my note about Stadium), son of Ibnu Sutowo, and owner of several hotels in Indonesia including the Sultan Hotel in Jakarta and the Ayodya Hotel in Bali. As with his other family members, he has very close ties with the Suharto family.
As advertised on their website, Pulau Ayer Resort is part of the Classic group. Several sources indicate that Ayer Island belongs to Ponco Sutowo (Click here, from the personal webpage of John MacDougall, cited above, or here, from the Jakarta Post).

If he is the owner of Pulau Ayer, chances are he is the owner of the Ayer Resort also, and thus the owner of the Classic Group.

Another thing I noted was that there is a restaurant named AJ Brandon in all of the group's location. AJ could mean "Adhi Juno", the name of the daughter of Ponco. It is a very indonesian thing to do to name businesses after the initials of family members. 

According to PolitikIndonesia.com and several other sources (here), more people are involved in the Pulau Ayer Resort which used to be a gambling island. Some names that come up are all member of the Gang of Nine such as Sugento Prananto, Arief "Cocong" Prihatna and Edi 'Porkas" Winata, all of whom are close to Tommy Winata.

Alila Group
Illigals, Sparks Hotel 
Budiman and Donny Tjahyadikarta from the family of the owners of Alila Hotels Group are the owners of Illigals and Sparks Hotel. Several people working in the group confirmed this to me.

The Post Suharto Golden Generation

Ismaya Group
Dragonfly, Blowfish, SKYE, Social House, Publik Markette, Pizza e Birra, Fook Yew, The People's Café, Colette and Lola, Magnum Café, Pasta de Waraku, Sushi Groove, Tokyo Belly, Puro, Djournal Coffee, Djakarta Warehouse Project, Ismaya Live
Bram Hendrata, Christian Rijanto dan Brian Sutanto are the three co-owners and co-founders of Ismaya, probably the most famous and largest F&B group in Indonesia. Some sources mention other investors such as Rudy Widjaja.

Domain, Portico, Yellowfin, Koffie Warung Tinggi, Stark Beer, H5, Urbanite Asia, Manna Lounge (closed), Public (closed), Embassy/Wonder Bar/Balcony (closed)
OPCO was founded by Reeza Budhisurya and Yudha Budhisurya who also participated in the opening of Cork & Screw (Union Group) and Score!. Bona and Rama Budhisurya, from the same family, joined later.
Other investors and co-founders of OPCO include Andrew Santoso (also involved in Union Group, Lifestyle Unlimited Group and other ventures: Circa, Mangkok Putih, Single Malt Bali, Meja Bali, Urban Kitchen).
Some venues have partners like Angel Widjaja in Warung Koffie Tinggi.

Union Group
Union, Loewy, Cork & Screw, Caffè Milano, Canteen, Casa, Union Deli, E&O
Owners: Jennifer Karjadi, the most visible face in the group ; Andrew Santoso (Also in Opco and Lifestyle Unlimited) ; Winfred Hutabarat (Yale Graduate, also co-founder of Aksara with Arini Subianto and Laksmi Pamuntjak who seems to have shares in Canteen as well) ; Donny Basuki; Michael Wijono, Dani Wanandi (also owner of Jaddi Group, see below).
Will Meyrick, the owner of Mamasan and Sarong restaurants in Bali, is a partner in E&O.

Potato Head Group
Potato Head Garage, Potato Head Pacific Place, Potato Head Beach Club and hotels Bali, Three Buns Burgers, Potato Head Folk Singapore
Owners: Ronald Akili and Jason Gunawan

Red Square Group 
Red Square (closed), Hacienda, Black Cat, The Boutique KTV
Owners: Rachmat Harsono (also part owner of X2), Agus Handojo, Hari Setiawan, Surya Iskandar, Andri Budiono with a foreign management: Paul Counihan (ex Jalan Jalan who also worked on X2), Eddie Cordisco, Yos Malelak. Most likely, it is the same team who developed Prohibition Bar in Senayan Arcadia as well.

Urban Concepts Indonesia and Lifestyle Unlimited
X2, Alibi (closed), Vertigo/X-Lounge (Closed), JackRabbit (closed), X-Ktv, Ippachi, Tokio Kitchen, Urban Kanteen, Yogu, Shabu Tei
Owners: Danny Setiawan (with Andrew Santoso) ; Rachmat Harsono (Family of owners of Samator, one of the largest producer of gas in Indonesia)

Jaddi Group
Owners: Children of Jusuf Winandi, the brother of Sofyan Winandi (owner of Santini Group): Doni Wanandi, Dani Wanandi, Feller Lokanata and Lowrenz Tanuwijaja. Also shareholders are Reimer Simorangkir, Yolanda Simorangkir and possibly Hermansyah Rasyid.

Boga Group
Bakerzin, Pepper Lunch, Sushi Tei, Sushi Kiosk, Rakuzen, Ten Ten, Paradise Dynasty, Master Wok, Canton Paradise, Paradise Inn
Founded in 2002, the Boga group is more into restaurants than nightlife but its owners, Kusnadi Rahardja, David Soong and Sonny Kurniawan, are linked to the above venues.

The Foreign groups

Mount Scopus
Venues: Negev, Balboni, Chateau Blanc, Amber Sky Lounge, The Harvest Bakery
Owner: Australian-Sri Lankan Lal De Silva is the founder and owner of Mount Scopus, one of the most successful foreign-owned F&B companies in Indonesia.

Bugils Group
Eastern Promise, De Burse, De Hooi, Double Doors, One Tree Bar (Closed), Bugils (Closed)
Owner: Dutchman Bartele Santema with some other mysterious shareholders.

PT IndoErin
Venues: Murphy's Pub and Molly Malone's Pub
Owners: Irishman Killian Murphy and his Indonesian wife Irene Alaydrus Hawadi Murphy

The Aphrodite Group
Aphrodite, Fez, Kinara, Liquid Exchange 
Owner: Fred Alloysius, a Singaporean-Indian.

Blok M Bars
Mostly developped by a few expats with the help of local partners / premans (the most famous Karno). Daryl Patton, who passed away in 2011, seems to be the main figure as he was behind Tambora (closed), D's Club (Daryl's Pub), and Top Gun. The main shareholder of D's Place now is a British national named Carl.

Regarding MyBar, Hitesh Darbar a British expat used to be the owner but that may have changed.

The Smaller and Upcoming Groups

Baresto Mitra Maju
Immigrant, Rustique, Bistro Garçon, Monolog, De Luca, Olive 
Owner: Chris Darjanto and his father. Other possible shareholders Franky Angkawijaya, Evie Karsoho and Fany Hermawan

Svarna Group
Ocha & Bella, Moovina, Dream
Owners: Vincent and Villysia Sianandar, possibly with other investors.

RYST Group
Publico, Empirica, PB PIK, Baker's Gallery Kota Kasablanka
Owner: Agung Wahyu Nugroho

Beer Garden Kemang, Menteng, SCBD, Radio Dalam
Owner: Mikael Mirdad

Odysseia, Fable, Mirrors Bali, Gardin, Ringmaster Bakery and Donut
Owners: Officially Jason Kurniawan and his friend Feisal Hamka. Due to the young age of the two owners, it is very likely that they benefited from strong connections and money.

Feisal Hamka comes from a reputed Indonesian family and his father is close to Siti Hardijanti Rukmana, the eldest daughter of Suharto also called Mbak Tutut. The daughter of Mbak Tutut and Feisal were both directors of the publicly listed company PT Citra Marga Nusaphala Persada Tbk, the operator of several highways in Indonesia including the Jakarta Inner Ring Road.

Fable is located in ex-Bengkel which presumably belongs to Tommy Winata. The Lamborghini Indonesia Club mentioned above had several parties there. Odysseia is built in a prime location, the same as Paul for which I heard that MAP had to negotiate for several months as the owner of Pacific Place (Tommy Winata through Tan Kian) wanted to keep it for himself (MAP is the owner of Galleries Lafayette and the first client of Pacific Place).

Nu China
Several owners, one of which is named Novarmi Bakti Massewa. She filed a complaint against the founder of Indoclubber Jack Lapian in 2010 after she was late to pay him his DJ fees. She might be from the same family as Fit Aidil Massewa who was the GM of The Venue in Kemang as well.

Jack Lapian seems to have been involved in several other venues such as V2, X9 club and B1.

The Venue, Tipsy, SHY Rooftop and FKTV are under the name of local celebrity Maia Estianty, the ex-wife of Ahmad Dhani. She probably has other investors. She is linked to Bambang Nuryatno Rachmadi (ex-owner of the McDonald's franchise) and was introduced to Tommy Winata by her ex-husband.

The Corporations and the Franchisers

MRA Group
Hard Rock Café, Cloud Lounge, McDonald's
Owner: MRA Group or PT Mugi Rekso Abasi, founded by Adiguna Sutowo in 1985, along with some friends of him including Tommy Suharto, Soetikno Soedardjo, Dian M Soedardjo and Onky Soemarmo. Adiguna Sutowo, as mentioned above is the son of Ibnu Sutowo who could be linked to Stadium Group and Classic Hotel (See above for more details).

More about Adiguna here: Adiguna, Spoilt Brat of Famed Tycoon.

MAP (Mitra Adi Perkasa)
Paul, Starbucks, Cold Stone, Chatterbox, Pizza Express, Cold Stone, Burger King, Domino's 
Owned by Syamsul Nursalim, the owner of Gajah Tunggal, through Boyke Gozali his nephew.
A corporation within a corporation, MAP is a serial franchiser. They never create concepts, they just import to Indonesia businesses and brands that are popular elsewhere.

PT Makindo (Gula Gulaku)
JJ Royal Bistro, JJ Royal Brasserie, Sugar Gallery
Owner: Gunawan Yusuf
The JJ restaurants are most likely an amusement for some family members of the Makindo group, one of the largest conglomerates in Indonesia with strong ties to the Suharto regime.

Otel Lobby, Bluegrass, WWWok (closed), Magenta (closed), Twilight Coffee (closed)
Owner: Gaby Bakrie
Probably more a toy for a wealthy heiress than a real business.

Shangri-La Jakarta
Shangri La Hotel Jakarta and therefore BATS is owned by the Salim Group of Anthony Salim (Indomie among many others). Other investors are the Lyman Group (Osbert Lyman) and most likely the Kerry Group of Chinese Billionnaire Robert Kuok.

Hotel Mulia Jakarta
Owner: The Mulia Group was founded by Tjandra Kusuma and his sons Gunawan Tjandra (Tjan Kok Kwang), Djoko S. Tjandra, Eka Tjandranegara, and Ekman Tjandranegara . Djoko Tjandra is currently hiding in Papua New Guinea to avoid prison time in Indonesia after he was sentenced for embezzling over 50M USD.

I was told by a reliable source that the ex-president of Indonesia SBY could have shares in Mulia. This source has been working for PT Sandua Jaya International, the holding company of Edhie Baskoro the son of SBY.
Conclusion: Gathering information to write this article was very difficult. If you think I made a mistake or a wrong conclusion, please write a comment below so I can make sure I correct it.

I will follow in the next few weeks with another article about the owners of Jakarta's most famous restaurants. 

Photo credit: I took some pictures from the facebook page of the venues listed, if that poses a problem to someone, just let me know and I'll just take them down. 

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Favicon Online Dating Sites & Apps In Indonesia
11 Apr 2015, 10:38 am
I once wrote a review about dating Indonesian girls and where to meet them. You can still read it here: Where to meet Indonesian girls? Most of the information on the review is still valid, but it certainly needs an update on the world of online dating through websites or social apps such as Badoo, Tinder, WeChat, Skoot, Beetalk, etc.

If you are looking for a great girl in Jakarta, online dating is by far your best chance. 90% of the girls there are looking for a stable relationship. Another 9% is looking for money. And maybe less than 1 percent is looking for a one night stand (not the hottest girls usually). The fact that they are looking for a stable relationship does not mean they want to get married straight away. It means they want to feel a long term relationship is possible. For this reason, it may be more difficult for you to find a date if you are not staying in Indonesia and if you do not speak Indonesian.

Depending on which website or which app you use, you can pretty much chat with any type of women you could think of: Students, employees, executives, single mom, etc from any ethnicity or religion. There is such a diversity that it would be hard to generalize. To give you a better understanding, I will describe the specificities of each dating app or website below:

Badoo (Mobile app and website)

Badoo is probably the best dating website to use in Indonesia. They also have a mobile app which is called "Hot or Not". It has a very large number of users, with usually several hundred women online at anytime in Jakarta.

Badoo attracts 99,9% of Indonesian girls, from all background. You can filter girls by age, location, status, body type, etc. Most girls can speak English and many are interested to meet foreigners.

Tinder (Mobile app only)

When Tinder started in Indonesia, most of its users where either foreign or Western educated girls. Its base has now expanded, but it is still the most trendy app to use. For this reason, this is where you will meet the most girls who can speak English and who have well-paid jobs. This is also where the most girls are interested to meet foreigners.

WeChat (Mobile app only)

WeChat has a "look around" feature which allows you to add girls located within a few kilometers from you. If they accept your invitation, you can start chatting with them.

Many ladyboys and prostitutes use that feature so it can be quite annoying if this is not what you are looking for. You will also probably receive a lot of invitations from other guys. Girls using this feature do not always speak English very well. It is popular with the Chinese community but your chances of getting a reply is low unless you speak Chinese.

Beetalk (Mobile app only)

Beetalk users are mostly Indonesian and young. It has a "look around" feature as well which is quite invasive as it tells you the exact position of the people around you. If you use it in popular malls like Grand Indonesia or Central Park, it will probably tell you a list of person within a very close range, sometimes a few meters only.

Few girls using Beetalk speak good English so it is more appropriate for those with a basic knowledge of Indonesian. It is a good app but not the most effective for foreigners.

Tagged / Hi5 (Mobile app and website)

Tagged and Hi5 are the same service since they merged in 2011. It used to be one of the most popular social networks in Indonesia but it is struggling now. It is still a relatively interesting website to try as the number of Indonesian users is quite large. I would say that girls on Tagged are usually a bit older: They made their Hi5 account 10 years ago and they haven't closed it yet.

Skout (Mobile app only)

Skout is similar to Badoo but only works on a mobile phone. The ads are quite annoying so I didn't like using it. It has a fair number of Indonesian girls using it.


All these dating apps and websites are free but you have to pay if you want to get some VIP features. For instance, becoming a paid member will generally entitle you to send more messages, to see who clicked on your profile or to be seen first by girls.

There are probably some scammers too so you should naturally always make sure the person you are talking to is real. I would recommend asking for the girl's facebook or skype.
There are other services that I haven't tried but they might work well. If you have used one of the following to find a date in Jakarta, it would be nice if you could write a comment about it below:

OK Cupid: Popular dating website but I don't think it is available in Indonesia at this moment.

Zoosk: One of the most popular dating apps in the world but I read some negative reviews about their privacy policy so I did not want to try it.

Ask.fm: Very popular social media in Indonesia, mostly with the younger crowd. It is not a real dating website but it is used as such by many Indonesians to make friends or get a date.

Wavoo is an Indonesian dating app which just started. It does not have a very large database of users at the moment.

Setipe.com is an Indonesian dating website which could be promising but it is still new and I encountered some problems to register.

IndonesianCupid.com and AsianDating.com are online dating sites where men must pay to send messages. They have the same database of users as they belong to the same group Cupid Media.

Photo Credit: The photo are from Kucluk Oye.

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Favicon Top 10 Best Bars in Jakarta in 2015
7 Apr 2015, 3:05 pm
As promised on my Jakarta Nightlife 2015 review, I am updating the blog with my list of Jakarta's best venues in 2015. 

For more recommendation about the best bars in the city, you can check my review about Jakarta's Best Beer Bars and Beer Garden. You may also want to read last year's ranking: Jakarta's Best Bars 2014.

More rankings coming in the next few days: Best Clubs, Best Spas, Best Live Music.

Regarding this year's best bars, I made the list based on my personal preferences only. If you are a Western expat in your 30s, you will probably find it relevant. If you think a bar should be included here, please drop me a comment and I will visit the place if I haven't done it already.

In this month of April 2015, my favorite bars in Jakarta are:

1) Cloud Lounge
Cloud is the best place for a drink in Jakarta in my opinion. You have good music, good people, good view, good service and good food/drinks. I only wish it could become more wild sometimes late at night.

2) Safehouse
The newcomer Safehouse is small and not particularly pretty, but it may have the best music in Jakarta. Visit it if you are into electronic music (and expats).

3) Loewy
The ever popular Loewy is always happening, especially in the evenings around its main bar. Lots of expats and lot of expat hunters.

4) Potato Head Garage
Potato Head Garage is not always happening, but when it does it is usually for fun events with a great crowd. Visit it on weekends only.

5) Lucy in the Sky
Popular hangout for the cool kids in Jakarta. 

First rooftop bar in Jakarta, similar to Cloud with a slightly less impressive view. The service gets messy when they are busy.

7) BATS and CJs
Band in CJs
Some people prefer BATS, some people prefer CJs. Both are quite similar if not identical: They are hotel bars with live music and a crowd of husbands having fun away from home.

8) E&O
Primarily a restaurant, their bar can be a great place to go for a drink on the right evening. They are serving among the best cocktails in Jakarta.

9) 365
Alternative bar with usually a good music selection and an interesting crowd.

10) Potato Head - Social House - Union - Cork & Screw
Union in Plaza Senayan
Those places have been around for half a decade now, which is an eternity in Jakarta. They are not exactly bars but they are still popular with upmarket Indonesians who want to drink and hangout.

As you may have noted, there are 14 bars listed above. Indeed, Jakarta's Top 14 Bars did not sound well to my ears. Photo Credit: I took the liberty of taking them from each venue's facebook page.

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