Indonesia & East Timor News Updates - April 18, 2018

* Man murdered for adding another man to a LGBTI WhatsApp group
* No consolidation between Jokowi, Prabowo: Agung Laksono
* Gerindra accepts PKS' coalition deal in facing 2019 election
* Public protected by policy against ex-corruptors in legislation
* Exotic nightclub summarily shuttered by Jakarta gov't despite incomplete investigation
* Anies lets PKS celebrates anniversary at City Hall
* Textbook procurement in Depok schools corrupted, alleges NGO
* Indonesia's economy shows real signs of acceleration


Man murdered for adding another man to a LGBTI WhatsApp group

Gay Star News - April 18, 2018

Shannon Power -- An Indonesian man has allegedly killed another man for adding him to a LGBTI group on WhatsApp.

Police in the east of capital, Jakarta, arrested a man for the murder of a man, Ali, 33. Jakarta Police spokesman Argo Yuwono said police arrested 21-year-old, Petrus Paulus Ualubun, in West Java on Tuesday morning.

'The suspect was mad at the victim when the latter added him to an LGBT WhatsApp group, as the suspect [claimed not to be a part of that community],' Argo told media in Jakarta. 'The suspect invited the victim to meet, then assaulted and killed him.'

Passersby discovered Ali's body with multiple stab wounds in a Jakarta alleyway. Police reported Ali had stab wounds in the left wrist, left temple, left eye, right chest, right back, right thigh.

Indonesia's hostility to LGBTI people

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, but a severe clamping down on the community in the past two years has seen an increase in arrests of gay men.

Police have raided gay clubs and private residences where they have arrested and charged men under the country's strict anti-pornography laws. The conservative Islamic province of Aceh, caned two young men 82 times after for homosexuality last year.

The clampdown has caused a rise in vigilante groups targeting people they believe are LGBTI. In many cases they have forced them out of their homes or into police custody.

It's not the first time instant messaging service, WhatsApp, got dragged into Indonesia's growing hostility towards the LGBTI community. In November last year, Indonesian authorities banned the use of GIFs (animated graphic image) on WhatsApp.

Authorities said they could not monitor GIFs because of WhatsApp's encryption. They argued young people might see pornography or other 'immoral' content if left unchecked.



No consolidation between Jokowi, Prabowo: Agung Laksono

Tempo - April 18, 2018

Muhammad Hendartyo, Jakarta -- Golkar politician Agung Laksono said that President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) will not consolidate with opposition party leader Prabowo Subianto for the 2019 Presidential Election.

"There is no possibility for both men to consolidate," said Agung following the Golkar plenary meeting on Tuesday, April 17.

Agung's statement was a direct reaction to the meeting took place between Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan -- who is known to be Jokowi's trusted member in the president's working cabinet -- and Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto.

Experts assume that the meeting between the two men was to discuss a possible consolidation for the upcoming election.

Luhut was previously saying that his meeting with Prabowo was a routine that can take place every other week; "We meet almost once every week," he said in an interview with Tempo at Incheon Airport, South Korea.

According to Luhut, they mainly talk about the general things that happened during their younger years. Despite both men having contrast minds and opposite political views, the minister maintained that it does not mean he and Prabowo end up in arguments.

"I know him well since we both have known each other since I was a Captain, and he was a Lieutenant. So please, don't interpret it as if we are adversatives towards each other," Minister Luhut reminded.

However, in the context of the 2019 presidential election, reports suggest that Prabowo has agreed to focus campaign efforts on programs and not on religious issues and defamation.



Gerindra accepts PKS' coalition deal in facing 2019 election

Tempo - April 18, 2018

Jakarta ( -- Gerindra Deputy Chairman Fadli Zon stated that the party is prepared to accept any requirements asked by the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) in the 2019 presidential election coalition deal.

According to Fadli Zon, one of PKS' requirements is about the candidate for Prabowo Subianto's running mate. However, Fadli said that from the nine candidates offered by PKS, there has been no further discussion upon who the person will be despite their positive credibility.

Previously, according to House of Representatives (DPR) Deputy Chief Fahri Hamzah, out of the nine names offered by PKS, Anies Matta is considered to be the strongest and has the potential to mobilize voters in the following general elections.

Furthermore, Fadli suggested that the final decision will heavily depend on the political dynamics during the final moments of the presidential and vice presidential registration period. "We'll see. The candidate will depend on the person's electability and acceptability," said Fadli.

Earlier, PKS announced their readiness to open a coalition with Gerindra in supporting Prabowo Subianto as their presidential candidate. However, this deal requires Gerindra to choose one of the nine candidates offered by PKS as Prabowo's running mate.



Public protected by policy against ex-corruptors in legislation

Tempo - April 18, 2018

Muhammad Hendartyo, Jakarta -- Chairman of the Muhammadiyah Youth Center Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak publically supported the ban against former corruption convicts to run as legislative candidates.

"I fully support the General elections regulation (PKPU) that bars political parties from letting former convicts of corruption run for legislation," said Dahnil yesterday, April 17.

Dahnil personally saw that the content of the law introduced by the General Elections Commission (KPU) as a daring step forward in protecting the public from the dangers of corruption.

The KPU has prepared two alternatives in implementing the rule that has the same substance, "It only has a different mechanism, but it's similar in substance," said Wahyu Setiawan at the KPU headquarters.

The first option, according to Wahyu, is the direct ban mentioned in the KPU draft regulation on former convicts running for legislation. The second option is aimed at targetting the political parties of the general elections.

Article 8 of the PKPU states that legislative candidates must not be former drug dealers, former sexual criminal towards a minor, and former corruptor. KPU's attempt is believed to be able to fix Indonesia's democracy's output quality by having legislative members that have never been involved in corruption.



Exotic nightclub summarily shuttered by Jakarta gov't despite incomplete investigation

Coconuts Jakarta - April 18, 2018

Last month, Governor Anies Baswedan passed a new Gubernatorial Decree (Pergub) that gives his administration the power to summarily revoke the business license of any nightlife venue in which narcotics or prostitution have been reported (by any party, including the police, media or even public) without the need for further investigation.

The Pergub's first target was the infamous Alexis Hotel, allegedly a hotbed of high-class prostitution that Anies had been trying to shut down completely for months. Today, two more Jakarta nightlife venues will see their doors closed after falling afoul of the new decree as well.

The Jakarta administration pulled the business licenses for both Sense Karaoke and Exotic Discotheque last week and gave both nightlife businesses until today to completely shut down and vacate their venues.

Sense Karaoke, located in Mangga Dua Square Mall in North Jakarta, has been closed following a raid by the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) in which they said they found evidence that employees of the nightlife venue had been providing customers with crystal meth.

Exotic had its business license revoked following the death of a 47-year-old man, identified as Sudirman, at the Mangga Besar nightclub on April 1. Although it was suspected that he died of a drug overdose, police were never able to confirm that as the family refused an autopsy.

Despite the cause of death being unknown, Governor Anies Baswedan still chose to pull Exotic's business license. The nightclub's management said they were disappointed he chose not to wait until a full investigation had been completed as they claimed that Sudirman's medical records showed that he likely died of a heart attack and there was no evidence that he had purchased drugs inside the club.

Responding to that, Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno said that the government actually had more evidence to indicate that narcotics were being sold at Exotic, including BNN data, but did not disclose what actual hard evidence, if any, they had to justify shutting down the business.

"We are here to enforce the rules. For us, there should be no compromise anymore when it comes to drugs. This is something we have to execute and we will follow the regulations, including the revised gubernatorial decree of 2018," Sandiaga said as quoted by Kompas.



Anies lets PKS celebrates anniversary at City Hall

Jakarta Post - April 17, 2018

Jakarta -- Jakarta administration general affairs head Firmansyah said the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) had gained permission from Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan to use the City Hall yard to celebrate its anniversary.

"The PKS asked the governor directly for permission [to use the City Hall yard]," Firmansyah said. "The usual mechanism to use the [yard] is first to ask general affairs for permission. I don't really know whether the event was so sudden [that the PKS needed to ask the governor directly for permission]," Firmansyah said on Tuesday, as quoted by

On April 15, the PKS held a leisurely road race event centered at City Hall as part of the party's 20th anniversary celebration, attended by PKS president Sohibul Iman. The peak event will be held on May 13. Firmansyah added that the governor could even give verbal permission to parties that wanted to use City Hall.

Earlier, public policy expert Trubus Rahadiansyah questioned the use of City Hall for PKS anniversary events.

Meanwhile, PKS Jakarta chapter chairman Syakir Purnomo claimed the party had followed correct procedures in using City Hall. The party chose City Hall as the celebration venue as a form of the party's support for Anies and his deputy, Sandiaga Uno, he said. (wnd)



Textbook procurement in Depok schools corrupted, alleges NGO

Jakarta Post - April 17, 2018

Jakarta -- A corruption watchdog said it had unearthed alleged corruption in the procurement of textbooks at some elementary schools in Depok, West Java, since 2015.

Corruption Watch Independent (CWI), an NGO based in Depok, added that the alleged corruption had caused state losses of Rp 4 billion (US$290,000) a year, bringing the total to
Rp 12 billion as of last year.

CWI's head, Elfatir Lintang, said it had found evidence and reported their findings to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on April 12. "The KPK assured us that it will investigate our evidence because it is valid," Elfatir said on Tuesday, as quoted by

He added that the procurement of textbooks at 267 state elementary schools in the city was free because it was procured through the school operational aid fund.

Elfatir said most of the schools allegedly asked the students to buy their textbooks at bookstores. "From around 128,000 students, we found that at least 20 percent were asked to buy the textbooks," he alleged.

The students' parents, he added, paid up to Rp 300,000 for the textbooks. CWI also allegedly found that some schools gave students copies, which they had to pay for as well.

Elfatir said it had questioned several schools about the findings and they had blamed the publishers who were late in distributing the textbooks that were also found to have been sold at some bookstores. (wnd)



Indonesia's economy shows real signs of acceleration

Jakarta Globe - April 18, 2018

Jakarta -- Economic data released so far this year shows a pick-up in the growth of Indonesia's economy.

The government collected more taxes in the first quarter this year than it did in the same period last year, while the growing number of capital goods and raw materials suggest bustling investment and manufacturing activities. Motorcycle sales expanded at their quickest rate in four years in the last quarter of 2017, as purchasing power recovered across the country, in line with rising prices of the country's main commodities like coal and palm oil.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said she estimates gross domestic product (GDP) to expand by 5.2 percent in the first quarter this year from the same period a year ago, which would be the country's fastest expansion in the last four years.

The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank both expect the largest economy in Southeast Asia to expand by 5.3 percent this year, picking up from a near 5 percent pace in the past four years.

Taxes and excises revenue jumped 10 percent to Rp 262.4 trillion ($19 billion) in the first quarter from Rp 237.9 trillion in the same quarter last year.

"The revenue shows encouraging growth as it also shows that our economic pulse is beginning to increase," Sri Mulyani said at a press conference in Jakarta. "The government will continue to maintain this momentum, which I would say is on the right track."

The main source of the increase in tax revenue was attributed to Indonesia's commodities sector, which experienced price rebounds in the past year.

The Indonesian Coal Benchmark Price (HBA) was set at $101.86 per ton for the month of March, its highest since May 2012.

Those commodities and robust shipments of manufacturing goods helped increase non-oil and gas exports to $44.3 billion from January to March, up 8.8 percent from the same period last year.

Households, businesses ramp up spending

Sales of cars in the first quarter this year was recorded at 291,920 units, up 2.8 percent from 283,760 units in the same period last year, data from the Indonesian Automotive Industry Association (Gaikindo) shows.

Motorcycles sold from January to March also increased to a total of 1.46 million units, up 3.8 percent from 1.4 million units within the same period last year, reversing a downward trend, according to data from the Indonesia's Motor Association (AISI).

A survey by Indonesia's central bank, Bank Indonesia, showed that the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) in March was 121.6, still above the minimum confidence level of 100.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who is up for re-election next year, went as far as reversing his policy in fuel subsidies to ensure cheap fuel and electricity until the end of 2019 and to support consumer purchasing power.

"Household consumption is expected to grow faster this year, as there will be momentum to boost it, such as regional elections and the Asian Games," said Mohammad Faisal, an economist at Jakarta-based research firm Center of Reform on Economics Indonesia.

Several indicators in investment increases, such as imports of capital goods and raw materials, have also risen.

Within the period from January to March, imports totaled $44 billion, with raw materials accounting for $32 billion, followed by capital goods and consumer goods.

This year, the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) targets to attract Rp 795 trillion from both foreign and domestic investments, a 10.4 percent increase compared to last year's figures.

State splurging

This year, the government will not hold back in spending on social assistance and on civil servants, who have not seen pay raises since 2016. The government hopes that it can help boost consumption ahead of Lebaran and the beginning of the school year in July.

"There will be a multiplier effect on household consumption. It is expected to move real sectors as well as to accelerate the disbursement of employee expenditures," Faisal said.

Government expenditures in social assistance almost doubled to Rp 17.9 trillion from Rp 9.5 trillion in the same period last year. "We hope there will be no [further external] shocks to help us maintain the momentum of the growing economy," Sri Mulyani said.



Asia Pacific Solidarity Network (APSN)