While doing a bit of housecleaning in my disorganised computer files, I ran across this piece that I had written last year. It was originally written for my friend Simon who had just started as the editor of Jakarta Java Kini, an urban lifestyle magazine. The idea was that the magazine would eventually run a regular column along these lines and this and a few other pilot columns were intended to give a sampling of the approach I wanted to take.
Unfortunately, what I wanted to write didn’t suit the magazine’s readers expectations, so we shelved the idea. Nevertheless, here’s something of what I had in mind.
If the Holy Grail is the eradication of the parasite that lives inside and sucks the life from the Indonesian body politic, the KPK is the Order of the Knights of the Round Table. But let us not forget that the Grail was never secured, even by Galahad, that Camelot is lost in the mists of history, and that Arthur is seen less and less with each passing day as “The Once and Future King”. The quest was, ultimately, a failure.
Right now, observers of the noble but somewhat quixotic attempts of the KPK feel like the Walrus and the Carpenter surveying the beach and wondering how to rid it of sand:
Indonesia needs a lot more than seven maids. But why is the beast so impervious to our attempts? It is impervious for the same reason the Lewis Carol poem is funny…nobody can see any prevailing reason to put any real effort into the cleanup.
Meanwhile, back at the KPK, the Man of La Mancha tilts at windmills, Lancelot and Galahad back up Arthur in his noble but hopeless quest, and Nora Desmond waits in vain for a role. We’re ready for that close-up, but nobody wants to watch the movie.