Jakarta monorail pillars

They stand like colossal dominos for about 13 kilometers through the middle of Jakarta's busiest streets. Cement pylons to support a planned monorail started sprouting after its start in 2004.

But by 2008 the state owned construction company overseeing the project walked away. The money had run out and land speculators made acquisitions tough. 

"That's a sort of monument to failed planning," says Pak Tiko, who heads up one of the new government agencies charged with taking projects out of the hands of bureaucrats and seeking private investors.

Sultan logo

Around the time the big US political parties were holding their conventions I got a first hand demonstration of the power of incumbency and the political cost of dithering. 

You've probably never heard of Sultan Hamengkubuwono X of Yogyakarta, but he's one of the world's few remaining governing monarchs. Since independence in 1945, he held on to the role of governor -- subject to parliamentary review -- because his dad, No. IX, backed the right side in the struggle to oust the Dutch.

Dr Irina at the garbage pickers' village

At an elementary school just outside Jakarta, ten-year-old Rahman wraps thin strips of construction paper into spirals to help make greeting cards.

This isn't an arts and crafts class. This card will sell for about 70 cents. His school, Sekolah Kami, meaning "Our School" relies on sales of it, as well as soap and recycled paper to defray its operating costs. Rahman and his family are garbage pickers. He's one of 150 students getting basic education skills here and hope of avoiding life as a scavenger.