Indonesia & East Timor News Updates - April 22, 2017
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* Indonesia military denies Ahok protests part of army-backed plot to oust Jokowi
* It wasn't just religious hatred that cost Ahok the Jakarta vote
* Jakarta polls a proxy for 2019 Jokowi v Prabowo race
* Ahok prepares defense against prosecutors' sentence demand
* Police shooting victims treated at Mimika Hospital
* Papuan women told to avoid old-fashioned traditions
* Freeport collects export permit after Pence visit
* House inquiry would obstruct e-ID probe: KPK
* Indonesia media tycoon Dahlan Iskan sentenced two years in jail for corruption
* Indonesia pushes local governments to boost land reform program
* Planting mangroves to save W. Kalimantan's beaches from erosion: WWF
* Investors to take confidence from peaceful Jakarta election
* US criticizes RI's business barriers

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Indonesia military denies Ahok protests part of army-backed plot to oust Jokowi

Asian Correspondent - April 22, 2017

From the ashes of the recent Jakarta poll has arisen a story of an insidious behind-the-scenes campaign to overthrow Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, but the country's military, whose members have been linked to the plot, has quickly moved to stop its spread.

On Friday, The Jakarta Post quoted a statement from the military denying the campaign allegedly backed by US President Donald Trump's Indonesian associates, retired and current army generals and a local Islamic hardliner movement.

The statement also said local news site Tirto would be reported to the police for republishing an Indonesian version of the story that first appeared earlier this week in The Intercept, a US-based independent online magazine that publishes stories from whistleblower sources.

Tirto, said the military, should be "investigated and proceeded against in line with existing laws" for publishing a story that was either "not true" or a "hoax".

In The Intercept story, Indonesia-based journalist Allan Cairn [sic – should be Nairn] claimed to be in possession of numerous intelligence reports that he said, along with interviews he conducted, pointed to the existence of such a plot against Jokowi.

He wrote that apart from retired and current army generals and the IS-linked hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (PFI), prominent supporters of the movement simply called "the coup" include Fadli Zon, vice speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives, and Hary Tanoe, Trump's business partner who is building two Trump resorts in the country.

Most notably, he claimed many in the know have dismissed the movement against Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and the stirring of religious hatred over the Christian governor's blasphemy slip-up last year as mere pretext for a larger objective, specifically:

"Sidelining the country's president, Jokowi, and helping the army avoid consequences for its mass killings of civilians -- such as the 1965 massacres that were endorsed by the US government, which armed and backed the Indonesian military."

Citing an interview with retired Gen Kivlan Zein Kivlan, the man who helped FPI organise last year's anti-Ahok protest, Cairn wrote the blasphemy case was merely a "gift" that came along at an opportune time.

He said he was surprised by Kivlan's offhanded remark that Ahok's comments regarding the Quran -- the comment that led to his blasphemy trial -- were merely a "slip of the tongue".

"The required public stance of movement leaders was to claim to be forever wounded by Ahok's remark asking people not to be deceived by rivals trying to use a Quranic verse against him.

"But here was one of them," Cairn wrote, referring to Kivlan, "with a small smile -- acknowledging that strategically Ahok's statement was welcome, because it had enabled the FPI and its sponsors to shift the balance of power inside the state, elevate themselves from street killers to theologians, and alter the cultural climate to boot.

"And here he was, accepting that the fateful remark was 'a slip of the tongue'."

Another interviewee of Cairn's reportedly backed the claim. Retired Adm Soleman Ponto, who is not a supporter of the so-called coup movement, said the Ahok issue was merely a religious hook to gain mass support but, "Jokowi is their final destination."

As a result of the protests against Ahok and a fatigued campaign, the minority Christian governor lost the Jakarta poll on Wednesday, conceding defeat to rival Anies Baswedan, a successful businessman backed by Hary.

Cairn also cited five Indonesian intelligence reports discussing the source of FPI's funds, one of which claimed some originated from Tommy Suharto, the son of former dictator Suharto. Kivlan, wrote the journalist, confirmed this to be true.

Another report said some funds came from Trump's billionaire business partner Hary. Cairn claimed he sat with several of the movement's key figures who said Hary was one of their most important supporters.

A third report said FPI's funds came from former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). SBY, however, has denied this.

On the movement's likely overthrow tactic, Cairn quoted Soleman saying it would not be an army assault on the palace in a straight coup d'etat but more a "a coup d'etat by law".

The possible scenarios are that FPI-led protestors would enter palace and congress grounds and set up camp there until someone made them leave. The army would then "do nothing" and let the president fall.

Another possibility is that the FPI-led rallies would get out of hand and the army would then step in to assume control. This particular scenario, Cairn wrote, was painted to him in finer detail during on-the-record interviews he had with movement leaders Ustad Muhammad Khattath and Haji Usamah Hisyam.

Asian Correspondent has not been able to verify the credibility of The Intercept's report.

According to Cairn, however, "This account of the movement to overthrow President Jokowi is based on dozens of interviews and is supplemented by internal army, police and intelligence documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Many sources on both sides of the coup spoke on condition of anonymity. Two of them expressed apparently well-founded concerns about their safety."

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/04/indonesia-military-denies-ahok-protests-part-army-backed-plot-oust-jokowi/

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It wasn't just religious hatred that cost Ahok the Jakarta vote

Asian Correspondent - April 22, 2017

Max Walden -- "Destiny is in God's hands," said Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on Wednesday night as he conceded the Jakarta gubernatorial election. "God gives power and God also takes it away."

Even until the bitter end, religion defined the race for the next leader of Indonesia's capital.

Ever since September last year when Christian Ahok made comments regarding the Quran whilst campaigning in Jakarta's Thousand Islands, hardline Islamic groups spearheaded a mass movement to topple the incumbent.

Ahok a controversial figure, irrespective of religion

Indonesia's vice president Jusuf Kalla said Friday he was disappointed with the foreign media's depiction of the Jakarta election as a win for conservative Islam and religious intolerance.

Jusuf wasn't wrong to say so. Headlines everywhere after Wednesday's divisive contest said votes were driven by religious sentiment and the entire showdown was a referendum on the future of ethno-religious diversity in the world's most populous Muslim country.

But it's also impossible to deny the whipping up of religious fervour by hardline groups was a vital factor Ahok's unceremonious fall from power.

A post-election survey by Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting, a credible pollster, showed that 32.4 percent of Anies voters had chosen the candidate because they were the same religion as him. Literally zero percent of Ahok voters said the same (notwithstanding that many of Ahok's voters are, of course, Muslim.)

Despite the catapulting of religious issues to the centre of the Jakartan election, however, it was not only sectarian concerns that brought down the second-ever non-Muslim, Chinese governor in the city's history.

Because here's another vital factor: Ahok was not loved by everybody. His detractors and opponents were from a broad spectrum of Jakarta's diverse population, not only ultra-conservative Muslims who hated him based on identity politics.

Human rights activists opposed the governor for his unapologetic regime of large-scale evictions of slum dwellers to make way for development.

Ahok continues to unapologetically defend this policy, even though swathes of the poor who supported him in 2012 became Anies devotees after being forcibly relocated from the neighbourhoods they had lived in for generations, stripping them of their livelihoods. They felt angry and betrayed.

Even after losing the election on Friday, Ahok declared at city hall that "normalisation" of the Ciliwang River would continue. Further communities would be relocated upon completion of rusun public housing flats currently under construction that can accommodate 2,000 residents, he said.

Besides that, many simply disliked Ahok because they perceived him as arrogant and rude -- undesirable qualities in a country like Indonesia where politeness and etiquette are paramount.

Some among the Chinese-Indonesian minority group worried that Ahok's brash style and controversial comments regarding the Quran had fanned further xenophobic sentiment against their community.

A lot of people no doubt chose their candidate based on policy, not identity. One image shared during the campaign read, "We are of Chinese descent, we are non-Muslim, we choose Anies-Sandi because the business climate will be more conducive if Anies-Sandi win."

Anies-Sandi ran an effective campaign, Ahok-Djarot did not

It is also worth remembering that Ahok was never in the first place chosen as governor, rather coming to power after Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was elected president in 2014.

From square one, he ultimately lacked a popular mandate for his robust policy agenda of reforming the civil service and cleaning up corruption, addressing Jakarta's systemic problems with traffic and flooding.

For too long during the campaign, Ahok's team misjudged the power of his record in office to win votes. Their strategy was to emphasise the governor's achievements in reducing floods, building public transport links and improving quality of life.

But given that three quarters of Jakarta's population approved of Ahok's leadership in office, however that he couldn't win 50 percent of the popular vote, signals the potency of other concerns.

It was only late in the campaign that Ahok and running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat's team released material aimed at pulling Jakarta residents' heartstrings -- unleashing a series of videos that appealed to Indonesia's nationalism and core values of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika -- unity in diversity.

"Ahok failed to run a savvy and cohesive campaign," concluded Erin Cook in the Lowy Interpreter this week.

Assuming it was merely religious intolerance and racism that led to Ahok's loss denies the strengths of Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno's campaign.

As a former academic and one of Indonesia's most successful businessmen, respectively, Anies and Sandiaga are widely respected, and regarded by many as charming, intelligent and articulate personalities.

Their political style no doubt particularly appealed to upper middle class Muslims in their wealthy, Muslim-majority heartland in South Jakarta.

But the extent of their popularity is highlighted by the fact that on Wednesday, they even won the most votes in North Jakarta, known for its significant ethnic Chinese population.

What's more, the pair's "Oke Oce" campaign was also clever and catchy, appealing to a broad range of voters from millennials to baby boomers alike.

So while it's true the coordinated campaign against Ahok that successfully mainstreamed sectarian discourse played its part in his defeat, even without accusations of blasphemy and mass mobilisation in the streets by hardline religious groups, he may well have lost anyway.

Pak Ahok isn't going anywhere

But though he lost the capital's coveted crown, all is not lost for supporters of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

Appearing in court the day after the election, he has likely been spared prison time due to prosecutor's downgrading of his charges from blasphemy to harassment. They called for reduced punishment due to Ahok's "huge contribution" to Jakarta.

What's more, Ahok is widely tipped to become a minister in his former running mate Jokowi's Cabinet. One optimistic Ahok supporter tweeted on Tuesday that "remember tomorrow you're all voting for Ahok to be governor or to become a minister."

While the president remained neutral in his statements during the Jakarta election campaign, the two are today still close political allies.

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/04/wasnt-just-religious-hatred-cost-ahok-jakarta-vote/

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Jakarta polls a proxy for 2019 Jokowi v Prabowo race

Straits Times - April 22, 2017

Francis Chan -- The dust has yet to settle on Wednesday's election in Jakarta, but the political narrative has already gone national, shifting to Indonesia's presidential race even though it is not due until 2019.

President Joko Widodo has so far remained silent about the defeat of Mr Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, but the loss to opposition-backed Anies Baswedan has inevitably raised questions on his own prospects for re-election.

Mr Basuki, better known by his Chinese nickname Ahok, is a close ally of Mr Joko. He had served as deputy governor and inherited the top job at City Hall after Mr Joko was elected president three years ago.

Mr Anies was a spokesman for Mr Joko during his election campaign and later appointed culture and education minister, but he was unceremoniously sacked in July last year.

Two months later, Mr Anies announced that he was running against Mr Basuki on a ticket backed by Mr Joko's old rival, Mr Prabowo Subianto. It is no secret that the former general is still itching for another run at the election he narrowly lost to Mr Joko in the 2014 race.

"If I have the people's support, and if my health allows it, I will run again," the opposition Gerindra Party chief said recently.

That signal of intent, which came just days before the first round of voting in February, all but confirmed the belief that the gubernatorial election was really a proxy contest for the presidential race between Mr Joko and Mr Prabowo.

All signs point to Mr Prabowo consolidating not just the financial backing but also the support of the political and religious elites that he needs to challenge Mr Joko.

On the night of Mr Anies' assumed victory, Mr Prabowo, in an open courtship of Muslim conservatives, acknowledged hardline cleric Rizieq Shihab for, of all things, "saving Indonesia's democracy".

As leader of the Islamic Defenders' Front, Mr Rizieq had mobilised thousands of Muslims to march against Mr Basuki, who is Chinese and Christian, and facing charges for insulting Islam.

Mr Rizieq's ability to call up a mob almost on demand will not be lost on Mr Prabowo as he prepares for a second bid for the Istana.

Playing the religion card to win elections in Indonesia, particularly outside Jakarta, has become more common and acceptable, said some observers. Even the son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Mr Agus Harimurti, courted the Muslim vote before he failed to make the final run-off for Jakarta governor in February.

Dr Yudhoyono's Democratic Party is also expected to feature at the next presidential election, either by fielding a candidate or playing the role of kingmaker. The rising influence of Islam in Indonesian politics will pose serious problems for Mr Joko, a Muslim who once had to fend off rumours that his mother was Christian.

Experts suggest that he will need to strengthen his ties with moderate Muslim groups such as Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, and tighten his alliances with Islamic political parties.

"Losing Jakarta as a result of these tactics has sent a chilling message to Jokowi and his Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), long perceived as the personification of the political vehicle for non-Muslim and secular voters," wrote Mr Rendi Witular, a senior editor at The Jakarta Post, yesterday.

"Jokowi is exposed to greater risk in his attempts to get re-elected, unless he succeeds in neutralising the proliferating sectarian playbook."

Jokowi is a popular moniker often used to refer to Mr Joko. Some analysts believe Mr Anies' victory at the polls may fracture Mr Joko's ruling coalition led by the PDI-P, and open the door for other centres of power to emerge, or lead to a resurgence of the old political elite in Jakarta.

It will also not be lost on his coalition members and rivals that despite a high approval rating, the President was unable to influence the result of the Jakarta election.

On the other hand, Mr Prabowo will undoubtedly claim Mr Anies' win as the people's endorsement for his own candidacy in 2019.

Mr Emirza Adi Syailendra, a researcher from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said: "The opposition led by Gerindra will likely start to raise issues to undermine the cohesion of Jokowi's coalition, as Prabowo lays the groundwork for his presidential election.

"Jokowi has to drive a hard bargain to keep his coalition members from gravitating towards either Prabowo's or Yudhoyono's camp."

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/jakarta-polls-a-proxy-for-2019-jokowi-v-prabowo-race

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Ahok prepares defense against prosecutors' sentence demand

Jakarta Post - April 21, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta -- Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama is preparing his defense statement for a hearing on April 25, when the court is set to listen to the governor's response to the prosecutors' sentence demand of two years' probation for insulting Muslims.

I Wayan Sudirta, his lawyer, said on Friday, that the governor would read his defense before the five-judge panel led by Dwiarso Budi Santiarto. "He will tell the court about what he has experienced and how he feels," Wayan said in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

Wayan added that Ahok's legal team was preparing to refute the accusation that Ahok had insulted a group of people who had faith in the interpretation of Surah Al Maidah 51, a Quranic verse that has been interpreted as forbidding Muslims from voting for Christian or Jewish leaders.

Wayan said that in the defense, the legal team would stress the prosecutors' failure to give a concrete explanation about those who had been insulted by Ahok.

Therefore, they could not prove that Ahok had violated Article 156 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on inciting animosity or hatred toward, or offending, a particular group, which the governor has been charged with, he said. Initially, Ahok was legally processed on the accusations that his speech violated either Article 156 or Article 156a of the KUHP. The prosecutors decided to withdraw their accusation that Ahok violated Article 156a.

In the defense, the lawyers will also insist that prosecutors have mostly presented de auditu witnesses, who have only heard Ahok's speech in Thousand Islands on Sept. 27 last year from a viral video that was an excerpt of the speech, and experts who were not neutral in the case.

The lawyers will then try to convince the judges that Ahok should not be responsible for the uproar caused by the scandal.

Prosecutors said in a hearing on Thursday that a person named Buni Yani, now a suspect in a hate-speech case, had contributed to the uproar by writing a false transcript for his video of Ahok's speech during his working visit to Thousand Islands.

Therefore, there was no reason that prosecutors should continue pressing their case against Ahok, Wayan said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/21/ahok-prepares-defense-against-prosecutors-sentence-demand.html

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Police shooting victims treated at Mimika Hospital

Jakarta Post - April 22, 2017

Jakarta -- Two employees of US-based gold and copper mining company PT Freeport Indonesia, who were victims of a rubber bullet shooting allegedly committed by Timika police personnel on Thursday, are receiving intensive medical treatment at Mimika Regional General Hospital (RSUD) in Timika, Papua.

According to RSUD Mimika spokesperson Lucky Mahakena, the two Freeport employees are Andrian W. Santoso and Muhammad Faidsal. Faidsal was reportedly shot on the left side of his buttocks while Andrian suffered wounds to his left leg, directly under his knee.

"Two other people who were rushed here have returned home," Lucky said as quoted by Antara on Saturday, referring to Zainal Arifin, who was shot in his right thigh, and Pukuh Prihantono, who was shot in his left knee. Another Freeport employee wounded in the sole of his foot returned home immediately after receiving treatment by medical personnel at the hospital.

The five Freeport employees suffered the wounds during a clash between police personnel and mining company workers who staged a protest in front of Timika District Court on Thursday. The police shot rubber bullets in their attempt to disperse the crowd.

Mimika Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Victor Dean Mackbon suffered injuries, including a punctured vein, to his left heel because of shrapnel from rubber bullets. He is currently receiving intensive treatment in a VIP room at RSUD Mimika.

Lucky said a team of doctors at RSUD Mimika had removed the shrapnel from Victor's wounds. "After surgery, he [Victor] may need two or three weeks for recovery," he added. (mrc/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/22/police-shooting-victims-treated-at-mimika-hospital.html

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Papuan women told to avoid old-fashioned traditions

Jakarta Post - April 22, 2017

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura, Papua -- The struggle of Kartini, a young female hero who strove to release Indonesian women from old-fashioned traditions, must be followed by women in Papua, where local communities still adopt a strict patriarchal system.

"Papuan women should not let themselves be shackled by old-fashioned traditions. It doesn't mean we should no longer adhere to our customs and traditions. But what should happen is that our traditions must become our motor to keep moving forward," said Jacoba Lokbere, a Papua Legislative Council member from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), in Jayapura on Friday.

The lawmaker further said many Papuan women were still shackled by old-fashioned traditions, such as marriage at a young age, because there was a common belief there that once a woman got her period, she was ready to get married. Youth marriage was common especially in remote villages with poor access to information and communications.

"It is still widely considered that women's sole responsibilities are to give birth to their children, tackle housework and work in plantations. Only men are allowed to work outside the home," said Jacoba, in her statement on the commemoration of Kartini Day on April 21.

The female Papuan politician said she could release herself from the adoption of old-fashioned traditions because of her strong will to see more Indonesian women having a successful career in various fields, but without forgetting the support of their families.

"Families play a great role in releasing a woman from the adoption of old-fashioned traditions," she said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/21/papuan-women-told-to-avoid-old-fashioned-traditions.html

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Freeport collects export permit after Pence visit

Reuters - April 21, 2017

Fergus Jensen and Bernadette Christina Munthe, Jakarta -- Freeport McMoRan Inc collected a permit to resume copper exports from Indonesia on Friday after a hiatus of more than three months, hours after a state visit by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who discussed the copper miner's dispute with Jakarta.

Indonesia's trade ministry issued Freeport with a permit to export 1.1 million tonnes of copper concentrate up to February next year, although it was unclear how long shipments would last.

Freeport is still at loggerheads with Indonesia over rights to its giant Grasberg mine in Papua, and tensions with workers threaten to disrupt its operations further.

Indonesia halted Freeport's copper concentrate exports in January under new rules that require the Arizona-based company to adopt a special license, pay new taxes and royalties, divest a 51 percent stake in its operations and relinquish arbitration rights.

The dispute has cost the company and Indonesia hundreds of millions of dollars. Jakarta has said it would halt exports again if negotiations over sticking points were not resolved within six months.

Freeport has also warned Jakarta, saying it had the right to commence arbitration by June 17 if no agreement was reached.

Pence thanked Indonesian President Joko Widodo for the interim solution to the Freeport dispute on Friday but said more steps were still needed, a White House foreign policy adviser said.

"We told them that there were more steps that needed to be taken," the adviser said, noting this was the only business issue Pence raised in his meeting with Widodo on Thursday.

Absenteeism, furloughs

Tensions are rising around Grasberg after Freeport laid off thousands of workers there to stem losses from its dispute with the Indonesian government over mining rights.

Freeport warned on Friday it would punish workers for absenteeism, a day after one of the main unions announced plans to strike over employment conditions.

"Freeport Indonesia has experienced a high level of absenteeism over the last several days," Freeport spokesman Eric Kinneberg said. "Absenteeism is being tracked and disciplinary actions will be enforced under the terms of the Collective Labour Agreement," he said.

Freeport had "demobilized" just over 10 percent of its workforce of 32,000 by last week, a number expected to grow until the dispute is fully resolved.

The Freeport workers' union said the company's efforts to reduce its workforce so far have had "extensive impacts on workers and their families".

Workers are worried about the layoffs "because there are no limits or specific criteria on workers who will be furloughed," the union said. It demanded an end to the furlough policy and notified Freeport of plans to strike for 30 days from May 1.

"Efforts by the company to cut costs and reduce their numbers of workers, this is what has made them feel agitated," said Virgo Solossa, a Freeport workers' union member told Reuters, but said many other workers would not join the strike.

Adding to tensions around Grasberg, several Freeport workers and police were injured in a clash in Papua on Thursday, when officers fired rubber bullets at demonstrators in Timika.

Timika Police Chief Victor Machbon confirmed the details of the incident and said about 1,000 demonstrators attempting to free a union leader at a court hearing had not dispersed when tear gas was fired.

According to the trade ministry, Freeport exported 1.17 million tonnes of copper concentrate to Japan, South Korea, China, India and the Philippines in 2016.

[Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor, Fergus Jensen, Wilda Asmarini and Bernadette Christina Munthe in JAKARTA, and Roberta Rampton aboard Air Force Two; Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Tom Hogue and Paul Tait.]

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/indonesia-freeport-idusl3n1hu00w

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House inquiry would obstruct e-ID probe: KPK

Jakarta Post - April 22, 2017

Haeril Halim, Jakarta -- The political ramifications of the multi-trillion-rupiah e-ID corruption scandal have begun to unfold.

The House of Representatives plans to exercise its legislative right of inquiry in a bid to force the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to release interview records where the alleged roles of a number of lawmakers in the case are said to be mentioned.

The KPK has strongly rejected the demand to release such classified investigation documents in the e-ID case, which has implicated dozens of politicians, high-ranking government officials and businessmen, describing it as a political maneuver to obstruct the investigation.

KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said that submitting the records to the House would hamper KPK investigators' work in delving further into the role of other suspects in the e-ID case, which the commission believes resulted in Rp 2.3 trillion (US$172 million) in state losses.

"I emphasize that the KPK will not open those documents because it risks obstructing the ongoing e-ID probe. We hope [the House] will not drag the legal case into politics," Febri told reporters at KPK headquarters in South Jakarta on Friday.

The documents in question are transcripts and video recordings of the interrogation of Hanura politician and former legislator Miryam S. Haryani.

The anti-graft body has so far named three suspects in the graft case. They are former senior Home Ministry officials Irman and Sugiharto, who are now on trial, as well as businessman Andi Agustinus, aka Andi Narogong.

In a separate but related case, the KPK has named Miryam, a former member of House Commission II overseeing home affairs, a perjury suspect. During an e-ID trial hearing at the Jakarta Corruption Court, Miryam, who was under oath, retracted statements she made during the interrogation in question.

Testifying during another trial hearing of the case, top KPK investigator Novel Baswedan, who has been undergoing medical treatment in Singapore after an acid attack by two unidentified assailants, said that Miryam had confessed during an interrogation that at least five House lawmakers had intimidated her after she revealed to the KPK about the distribution of illicit kickbacks related to the Rp 5.9 trillion project to lawmakers.

The five are the Golkar Party's Aziz Syamsuddin, the Gerindra Party's Desmond J. Mahesa, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle's (PDI-P) Masinton Pasaribu and the Hanura Party's Sarifuddin Sudding, according to Novel.

Describing it as slander after Novel's testimony made headlines, Commission III during a hearing with the KPK on Wednesday, pushed the anti-graft body to reveal Miryam's dossier and the CCTV recording of the KPK interrogation room to substantiate Novel's court testimony.

To strengthen its cause, Commission III is set to launch an inquiry to further push the KPK to comply with the House's demands. However, Febri said the KPK would not succumb to pressure from the House. "An inquiry right should not be used to intervene in a legal case," Febri added.

Commission III chairman Bambang Soesatyo said the KPK needed to release the documents "so we can see whether our names were actually mentioned."

Masinton, meanwhile, argued that exercising the inquiry right was "important to uphold a transparent legal process." Commission III deputy chairman Benny Kabur Harman claimed six out of 10 House factions supported the move.

Gadjah Mada University's (UGM) Corruption Studies Center (PUKAT) director Zainal Arifin Mochtar said an inquiry right was a political tool by the House, the purpose of which was to scrutinize government policy. The right could not be used to investigate law enforcement bodies, he added.

"It is a wrong call and misleading. Investigation documents can only be open in court. Even in the Freedom of Information Law, an investigation document is not included as a public record," he said.

Zainal and activists from the Anti-Corruption Civil Society Group visited the KPK office and met with KPK commissioners on Friday to express their support for fully investigating the e-ID case.

"We believe that the House inquiry initiative is marred by vested interests interfering in the legal process of the e-ID case at the KPK. We call on the House to restrain from intervening in the legal process at the KPK," spokesman for the group, Natalia Subagyo, said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/22/house-inquiry-would-obstruct-e-id-probe-kpk.html

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Indonesia media tycoon Dahlan Iskan sentenced two years in jail for corruption

Jakarta Post - April 21, 2017

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, Surabaya, East Java -- Surabaya corruption court on Friday sentenced former state-owned enterprise minister Dahlan Iskan to two years' in prison for his role in selling 33 assets belonging to East Java province-owned company PT Panca Wira Usaha.

The court also asked the media tycoon to either pay a Rp 100 million fine or serve an additional two months imprisonment.

"The defendant has been proven to have carried out the corruption as written in the secondary accusation," said Tahsin the presiding judges during the verdict hearing.

The corruption convict was given the opportunity to consult with his lawyers, according to the court. "I want to file an appeal, your Highness," Dahlan said, adding that his supporters at the court were disappointed with the verdict.

Previously, prosecutors sought a six-year prison sentence and a Rp 750 million fine for Dahlan Iskan, as well as requiring him to pay up to Rp 8.3 billion in compensation to the government. (hol/dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/21/indonesia-media-tycoon-dahlan-iskan-sentenced-two-years-in-jail-for-corruption.html

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Indonesia pushes local governments to boost land reform program

Jakarta Post - April 21, 2017

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta -- The Indonesian government has urged regional administrations across the country to accelerate the implementation of the agrarian reform program by strengthening coordination with relevant agencies, an official of the Home Ministry said.

Home Ministry's human resources development bureau head Teguh Setiabudi, said on Friday that governors and mayors had played a crucial role in supporting the program by improving their communication with related parties, such as land, forestry and housing agencies.

"Many land conflicts are left unresolved due to the lack of coordination among the agencies that manage agrarian issues. It is better [for regional heads] to strengthen communication with relevant agencies to further efforts to resolve land conflicts," Teguh said during a discussion on agrarian conflicts.

Locals, including tribespeople, often become entangled in land conflicts in part due to widespread double claims over land ownership, as well as forced land deprivation in support of the interest of industries such as timber and palm oil.

Teguh said land conflicts had been reported to regional heads, who had insufficient data to support the settlement process. This was partly due to the reluctance of land agencies to be transparent in providing the required data, such as right-to-cultivate permits (HGU) owned by plantation companies.

"They [regional heads] should be given greater access to data so they can fully understand the roots of the problem regarding land conflicts," Teguh said. (dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/21/indonesia-pushes-local-governments-to-boost-land-reform-program.html

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Planting mangroves to save W. Kalimantan's beaches from erosion: WWF

Jakarta Post - April 22, 2017

Severianus Endi, Pontianak, West Kalimantan -- Earth Day, which was celebrated globally on April 22, has become a crucial way for World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Indonesia to alert various parties about the erosion currently threatening beaches in West Kalimantan.

Data released by WWF Indonesia's West Kalimantan program shows 193 kilometers of coastal areas in the northern part of the province have suffered damage from erosion and high tides since 2012.

"Mangrove restoration efforts need to be taken to tackle the situation. Apart from protecting the coastal areas, restoring mangroves will make positive impacts on society, ecologically, socially and economically," WWF Indonesia-Kalimantan's program manager, Albert Tjiu, said in Pontianak on Friday.

Since 2009, WWF Indonesia has worked with its nine partner groups to periodically restore northern coastal areas, 55.25 hectares of land, with mangrove trees. With wider mangrove coverage, various plants and animals can be found in the areas.

"The mangrove areas have begun to become a prime tourism destination that supports the economy of people in their surrounding areas. This is like what has been conducted by Mempawah Mangrove Conservation in Mempawah regency and the conservation group, Surya Perdana Mandiri, in Singkawang City," said Albert.

This year, he said, mangrove planting conducted by various stakeholders was focused on green-shield areas, such as Gosong Beach in Bengkayang regency and Setapuk Besar and Kuala districts in Singkawang City.

The Environmental Care Community (Kopling) Gosong Beach is holding a three-day camp-out and mangrove planting program from April 21 to 23. About 500 participants of the program will plant about 2,000 of the 10,000 mangrove seedlings planned for planting in 2017. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/22/planting-mangroves-to-save-w-kalimantans-beaches-from-erosion-wwf.html

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Investors to take confidence from peaceful Jakarta election

Jakarta Globe - April 22, 2017

Jakarta -- Investors should look beyond the divisive and religiously charged Jakarta election and take confidence from a peaceful voting day as a sign of stability in the country, officials and business leaders said.

Quick count results show that Anies Baswedan, the candidate backed by Muslim hardliners and conservatives, won the runoff election by a landslide against incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent. The latter ran a doomed campaign in the Muslim-majority capital while facing false blasphemy allegations, despite having scored high approval ratings of his performance in office.

"There are many questions about the impact and result of the dramatic election on investment," Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) head Thomas Lembong said on Thursday (20/04).

"I think [the impact on investment] will be positive, because the election took place in an orderly and peaceful manner," he said on the sidelines of The Economist Events' Indonesia Summit in Jakarta, where policy makers, investors, regulators, academics and business leaders gathered to get an update on economic conditions in the country.

Talks at the summit were dominated by the second round of the Jakarta gubernatorial election, which took place just a day before the event.

Prominent business leaders at the summit also expressed optimism in the new leaders' ability to govern Jakarta, where about a sixth of Indonesia's economic output was generated last year.

"The most important thing for the business sector is stability and the fact that yesterday's election ran smoothly is very important," Lippo Group director John Riady said.

However, Shinta Widjaja Kamdani, deputy chairwoman of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo), said some foreign investors are concerned about the way sectarian issues played out during the election campaign period.

"They are worried that what happened in Jakarta can be replicated elsewhere and that [the use of issues related to] race and religion can win the election," she said.

Shinta said investors also have many factors to consider that are not related to Wednesday's election and its aftermath, before investing large amounts of money in Indonesia.

The BKPM has set a foreign and local investment target of Rp 679 trillion ($51 billion) for this year and Rp 860 trillion for next year.

Last year, the agency reported that the total value of foreign investment that came into the country amounted to Rp 397 trillion, which was 8.4 percent higher compared with a year earlier. This also exceeded the target of Rp 386 trillion.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/investors-to-take-confidence-from-peaceful-jakarta-election/

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US criticizes RI's business barriers

Jakarta Post - April 22, 2017

Fedina S. Sundaryani, Jakarta -- The United States has called on the Indonesian government to remove business barriers it claims are impeding its companies from fully penetrating the domestic market.

During a business meeting and agreement signing ceremony on Friday, US Vice President Mike Pence said that although the US was enthusiastic about investing in Southeast Asia's largest economy, many obstacles remained that held US companies back from truly pouring their money into the country.

"US companies face many barriers and difficulties in the Indonesian market, including intellectual property, the lack of transparency, requirements in manufacturing to include local content to be able to sell products in the Indonesian market," he said matter-of-factly.

While the US acknowledges President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's efforts to reform the business and investment environment in Indonesia, it insists that "there must be more to be done."

"The truth is a stronger American economy is a stronger economy for Indonesia and all trading partners. The US is a driver for global growth, under President Donald Trump, we will be driving global growth like never before," he said.

Businesses are no stranger to the issues highlighted by Pence due to Indonesian government enforcement of increased use of local content in the oil and gas sector and telecommunications industry.

The US previously filed a complaint at the World Trade organization (WTO), challenging Indonesia's policies on the imports of horticulture and animals. The WTO sided with the US and fellow petitioner New Zealand.

Since taking office in late 2014, Jokowi has made deregulation part of his administration's focus. It has issued more than a dozen economic policy packages to improve the business climate and investment.

The packages helped Indonesia climb 15 places to 91st place in the World Bank's Doing Business 2017 report from 106th place a year prior.

However, despite the improvement, Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) chairman Thomas Lembong agreed that Indonesia still had much to do to raise its competitiveness in the global market and to attract investments from across the globe, not just from US companies.

He said overregulation was bad even for local industries as they needed to import materials to enable them to produce goods that comply with international standards.

The BKPM will continue working to improve the economy and to cut red tape and is certain there will be more initiatives to simplify regulations and reduce trade barriers in the next few weeks.

While the US has traditionally invested in the mining and upstream oil and gas sectors, Thomas said the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Indonesia had indicated that it would increase investments in the manufacturing, technology and digital sectors.

Particular attention in the digital sector must be paid toward global data centers that use cloud computing, due to vague existing regulations, Thomas added.

On Friday, the US and Indonesia signed US$10 billion worth of agreements in trade and investment in the energy and defense sector.

The agreements included a $6 billion deal between US-based ExxonMobil and state-owned oil and gas giant Pertamina to provide liquefied natural gas (LNG) for the latter for 20 years, starting in 2025.

State-owned electricity firm PLN and US-based Pacific Infra Capital LLC signed a $2 billion deal as well to implement an advanced metering infrastructure system in Indonesia.

The US and Indonesia also saw technology and manufacturing firm Honeywell and state-owned aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (DI) secure a contract, in which the former will supply 34 TPE331 turboprop engines to DI over the next four years.

The value of Friday's agreements was lower compared to those made during former US president Barack Obama's visit in 2011.

Back then, Indonesia's biggest low-cost carrier PT Lion Mentari Airlines (Lion Air) made a $21.7 billion deal with US aircraft manufacturer Boeing for the purchase of 230 aircraft. This was Boeing's largest commercial order at the time.

According to data from the BKPM, the US invested $1.16 billion in 540 projects in Indonesia last year, an increase from $893.16 million and 261 projects in 2015.

In terms of trade, the Indonesia-US trade value stood at $23.4 billion in 2016, staying flat compared to 2015.

Pence's visit to Indonesia is highly significant as it was conducted not long after the Trump administration was established earlier this year and Indonesia was one of the first countries on Pence's Asia-Pacific tour.

Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) deputy chairperson Shinta Widjaja Kamdani said the US was no longer interested in multilateral agreements and any trade deals must be done bilaterally.

"We already have a strategic partnership and now we have to develop that to specifically understand what both countries want from each other. We have to do it soon because [other countries] will also be competing [for investment]," she said.

Indonesia is now awaiting a follow-up to the US' generalized system of preference, which is expected to decrease duties for Indonesian manufactured goods exported to the US.

While Pence made only a brief mention of miner PT Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of US-based Freeport-McMoRan Inc., Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan confirmed on Thursday that the issue was briefly discussed between Pence and Jokowi.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/22/us-criticizes-ris-business-barriers.html

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