Indonesia & East Timor News Updates - October 18, 2018

* Indonesian religious minister denounces LGBT, but calls for people's empathy
* Regional govt in Indonesia asks mosques to warn of LGBTI 'dangers'
* Nearly 6 in 10 Muslim teachers intolerant, many vilify modern science: Survey
* Minister proposes 8.13% rise in minimum wage
* Pharma companies still dependent on imported APIs, says ministry
* Gerindra councillor reported for campaigning at West Jakarta school
* KPU Jakarta launches program to protect voting rights
* Indonesia's competitiveness improves, but still well below Singapore, Malaysia


Indonesian religious minister denounces LGBT, but calls for people's empathy

Jakarta Post - October 17, 2018

Dyaning Pangestika, Jakarta -- Social media went abuzz earlier this week with #UninstallGoJek after homegrown ride-hailing company Gojek has come under fire after a screenshot of a Facebook post from one of its executives expressing support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community went viral.

The condemnation of the LGBT community later grew to accusations that homosexuality, which is considered sinful for many Indonesians across all religions, was supported by Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin.

An edited video uploaded by Twitter user @Gemacan70 showed a clip of the minister attending an event that Gemacan described as an LGBT forum.

"Does this means that the minister legalized LGBT? The government should cure LGBT through a religious and psychological approach, but they appreciate it instead. #WeirdMinister," Gemacan tweeted.

In response to the video, Lukman made a clarification video titled "Religious Affairs Ministry Rejects LGBT". Lukman repeatedly said that all religions rejected LGBT communities and that it was every religious leader's duty to guide them so they will change their ways.

"Although LGBT behavior is wrong, they should still be treated with empathy so that they will change their deviant ways," Lukman said in the video, adding that the public should avoid shunning, mocking or excluding LGBT individuals in the society.

Public anxiety over the LGBT community grew in 2016 after a gender and sexuality study group in Depok-based University of Indonesia was accused of promoting the LGBT movement.

The outrage has triggered high-ranking officials including Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Mohamad Nasir to ban LGBT-related activities in campus.

As the country enters the presidential campaign season, several regions have also been swept in the anti-LGBT movement.

Hundreds of school principals in Garut, West Java, gathered last week to publicly denounce the presence of the LGBT community in school after discovering a Facebook page for gay students. (wit)



Regional govt in Indonesia asks mosques to warn of LGBTI 'dangers'

Gay Star News - October 18, 2018

Rik Glauert -- A local government in Indonesia on Wednesday (17 October) sent a circular to the region's mosques asking them to preach on the dangers of the LGBTI community and HIV at prayers on Friday.

Muslim-majority Indonesia has witnessed a violent crackdown on the LGBTI community since 2016, even though homosexuality is not illegal.

The government of Cianjur regency in West Java sent the sermon request because a report by an Aids commission showed the LGBTI population was rising, according to CNN Indonesia.

The memo included sermons titled 'The Dangers of LGBT, Sodomy and Abuse in terms of Religious Life, the Nation and the State from the Perspective of Islamic Law'.

A Cianjur Regency Government spokesperson told CNN the Aids commission indicated there were as many as 3,452 gay men in the region.

'Of course the negative impact of LGBT is our concern and the people in our region do not want it to continue to grow and develop' the spokesperson reportedly said.

HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men in Indonesia is about 25 per cent, according to UNAIDS. But, experts warn, vilifying the LGBTI Indonesian blocks access to prevention and treatment services for the community, worsening the crisis.

The memo came on the same day that Indonesia's Minister of Religious Affairs, Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, posted a video to Twitter denouncing LGBTI people.

Ahead of the 2019 national elections, many politicians are keen to show they do not support the LGBTI community to secure votes among conservative Indonesians.


Nearly 6 in 10 Muslim teachers intolerant, many vilify modern science: Survey

Jakarta Globe - October 18, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta -- Most Muslim teachers in Indonesia are intolerant of other religions and highly prone to radicalization, a recent survey showed.

The results of a national survey by Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University's Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM), published on Tuesday, show that nearly 60 percent of Muslim teachers are intolerant, while about 46 percent had radical leanings.

The PPIM conducted the survey between Aug. 6 and Sept. 6, randomly sampling 2,237 Muslim teachers from regular and Islamic schools across the country. Respondents were given an implicit bias test consisting of computer-assisted questionnaires that measured their levels of intolerance and radicalism.

The center reported a 2.07 percent margin of error and a confidence level of 95 percent.

The PPIM drew its conclusions from answers to several implicit bias questions that reflected intolerant attitudes and radical tendencies among teachers.

When asked about non-Muslims building faith-based schools in their areas, 56 percent indicated that they did not approve. Nearly 30 percent meanwhile said they were ready to wage jihad to establish an Islamic caliphate in Indonesia.

When given the opportunity, around 27 percent of teachers expressed a desire to encourage others to join the fight to establish a caliphate, while 13.3 percent said they would attack members of the police if they tried to arrest those fighting for a caliphate.

The survey coordinator, Yunita Faela Nisa, highlighted how teachers greatly influence students' values.

"From our previous survey in 2017, we've seen the significant influence of teaching methods, and how school experiences greatly impact the values held by students when it comes to intolerance," Yunita said.

In a similar survey conducted among students last year, the PPIM found that nearly 60 percent of those in high schools and universities held radical views based on religion.

The result of another survey by the Mata Air Foundation and the Alvara Research Center, which was released in November last year, also showed that nearly 20 percent of students support the idea that Indonesia should become a caliphate.

According to Yunita, students discuss matters related to faith not only with their religious teachers, but also with other teachers.

PPIM executive director Saiful Umam said several key issues contribute to the high level of intolerance and radicalism among teachers.

"We found three things that strongly correlate with these high levels of intolerance and radicalism among teachers: their views on Islamism, demography and their involvement in mass organizations, both during college and at present," Saiful said, noting the difference between Islamism and Islamic views.

He said Islamism refers to a more fundamental movement that often calls for full implementation of shariah.

The survey found that nearly 83 percent of teachers agreed that Islam was the only solution to all kinds of problems facing society, while about 40 percent said the Koran contained sufficient knowledge and that Muslims thus do not need to learn from Western-sourced texts.

Moreover, those teaching language, sports, arts and crafts, tended to me more intolerant and radical, compared with those teaching other subjects.

The survey also showed a correlation between income and radicalism, with those earning less tending to be more radical.

The PPIM recommends, in addition to better salaries, an increase in diversity-oriented programs to give teachers more experience, and greater access to empowering institutions as part of efforts to curb growing intolerance and radicalism.



Minister proposes 8.13% rise in minimum wage

Jakarta Post - October 18, 2018

Jakarta -- Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri has proposed an 8.13 percent rise in the provincial minimum wage (UMP) for 2019, saying an increase of that amount was based on data issued by Statistics Indonesia (BPS) on inflation of 2.88 percent and economic growth of 5.15 percent.

"We hope that all governors will soon [adopt] the new provincial minimum wage," said Hanif at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday, adding that he had informed the governors about the proposal through circulars.

Governors have the authority to make decisions on the UMP after taking into account the aspirations of both employers and employees.

He also called on the trade unions to accept the government's proposal, because, according to Government Regulation No. 78/2015, the UMP had to be decided by considering the inflation rate and economic growth.

"So the workers do not need to hold demonstrations. We can do without the uproar," the minister added.

However, the Indonesian Workers Confederation (KSPI) rejected Hanif's proposal, demanding instead that the UMP be raised by 20 percent to 25 percent.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian All Workers Organization (OPSI) said it could understand the proposal of a single-digit UMP increase, because of the economic conditions and the weakening rupiah.

"In a situation where it's difficult for companies to move, an increase of 8.03 percent is enough for workers," he added. (bbn)



Pharma companies still dependent on imported APIs, says ministry

Jakarta Post - October 18, 2018

Jakarta -- The Health Ministry has said that local pharmaceutical companies still relied heavily on imported chemical ingredients -- active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) -- because the industry was unable to carry out sufficient research on developing such materials.

"About 90 percent of the pharmaceutical industry still uses imported materials, particularly chemical ingredients, because it is not easy to produce those materials," the ministry's Health Research and Development Agency (Balitbangkes) head, Siswanto, said on Wednesday in Magelang, Central Java, as quoted by

Siswanto said that many ingredients were patented by pharmaceutical companies in Germany, France and Japan, while Indonesia lacked appropriate laboratory facilities for researching the development of pure chemicals as an initial step toward processing and producing APIs.

He added that Indonesia had no plans to develop a pharmaceutical laboratory in the near future, because of the exorbitant costs of establishing such a facility.

"The cost is too high. We [can] produce many medical substances, but the cost of clinical tests is too high. It could reach billions of rupiah," said Siswanto.

One solution to help reduce the dependence on pharmaceutical chemical ingredients would be to develop local herbs and other natural ingredients used in traditional herbal treatments across the archipelago.

"[...] We must carry out research on plants and animal [materials] and test them for their medicinal properties and after that, they could be used for antibodies, anesthetics and other [medicines]," he continued.

Siswanto said the ministry currently had three consortiums for developing vaccines and other medicinal products. (bbn)



Gerindra councillor reported for campaigning at West Jakarta school

Jakarta Post - October 18, 2018

Jakarta -- A Gerindra Party Jakarta councillor running for reelection is being investigated for reportedly campaigning at a state junior high school in West Jakarta.

West Jakarta Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) chairman Oding Junaidi said councillor M. Arief handed out campaign paraphernalia and sarongs in goody bags to SMPN 127 teachers during a meeting in Kebon Jeruk on Oct. 10.

The goody bags were distributed after the teachers signed in for the meeting. "[Arief was invited as a] speaker at the meeting," Oding said as reported by on Wednesday.

The organizing committee prepared the content of the meeting, Oding said, "but Arief instead talked more about himself during his session between 1 and 3 p.m."

Jakarta Bawaslu commissioner Puadi said the agency, along with police and public prosecutors under the Integrated Law Enforcement Center (Gakkumdu), found possible election law violations during the meeting.

Gakkumdu collected preliminary evidence and obtained clarification from the involved parties. "The police will investigate within the next 14 days," Puadi said.

Law No. 7/2017 on general elections prohibits campaigning in government buildings, places of worship and in educational facilities. The law also prohibits civil servants from being involved in political campaigns. (ami)



KPU Jakarta launches program to protect voting rights

Jakarta Post - October 18, 2018

Jakarta -- The Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPU Jakarta) has launched a program called the Protecting Voting Rights Movement (GMHP) to verify the city's electoral roll ahead of the legislative and presidential elections next year.

KPU Jakarta head Betty Epsilon Idroos said the program aimed to ensure that the right to vote was upheld for all eligible voters during the elections in April.

"If there are still eligible voters that have yet to be registered, this program serves to help them," Betty said in South Jakarta on Wednesday as reported by

The GMHP program is citywide, involving 267 subdistricts, and has been running since the beginning of this month. It ends on Oct. 28. Eligible voters who wish to register or want to revise their data are urged to bring their ID and family card to booths that have been set up by the committee.

Betty said she hoped the program would raise awareness on the importance of exercising voting rights. (fac)



Indonesia's competitiveness improves, but still well below Singapore, Malaysia

Jakarta Post - October 17, 2018

Devina Heriyanto, Jakarta -- Indonesia's economic competitiveness has stepped up, according to the recently released Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Under the newly introduced Global Competitiveness Index 4.0, Indonesia has a score of 64.9 points and is ranked at 45th, up two places compared to the previous index.

Neighboring countries Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, however, place higher in second place (83.5 points), 25th (74.4 points) and 38th (67.5 points), respectively.

The report notes that Indonesia benefits from its sheer size and its interconnectedness, which combined with a vibrant entrepreneurial culture and overall business dynamism is said to "bode well for the future".

However, the country lacks innovation capability, particularly in research and development activities. Indonesia's R&D spending is less than 0.1 percent of GDP, ranking at 112nd among 140 countries in the index. Countries with the highest spending for R&D are Israel (4.3 percent of GDP), South Korea (4.2 percent), Japan, Sweden (3.3 percent) and Taiwan (3.2 percent).

Another concern is infrastructure. Among G20 economies, Indonesia is the worst performer in terms of physical infrastructure with 66.8 points, or almost 25 points behind Japan as the best performer (91.5 points).

The Global Competitiveness Report is an annual study by the WEF, assessing both microeconomic and macroeconomic foundations, comprising 98 indicators.

The 2018 report methodology includes several relatively novel factors such as idea generation, entrepreneurial culture, openness and agility.



Asia Pacific Solidarity Network (APSN)