Rizky Amelia & Ezra Sihite Criticism of Deputy Justice Minister Denny Indrayana alleged mistreatment of a Pekanbaru prison guard continued to mount Tuesday afternoon as a regional Justice and Human Rights chief and member of the House of Representatives spoke out against the deputy minister's actions.
"As a representative to the people, I believe they are very disappointed [with this incident]. I want the President to take firm action on this, firing [Denny] if necessary," Agun Gunanjar Sudarsa, the head of the House of Representatives' Commission II, told journalists in Jakarta. The commission oversees state apparatus and bureaucratic reforms.
Denny allegedly slapped Sihombing, a prison guard, after Pekanbaru were slow to open the doors during Denny's unannounced visit to Pekanbaru at 2:30 Monday morning. The deputy minister's assistant also kicked Khoiril, another prison guard, in the stomach.
Agun said that not only had the deputy minster violated procedures during the visit, but that the alleged assaults were improper behavior. The head of Riau's office of Justice and Human Rights Djoni Muhammad said that the prison guards were simply doing their job.
"We object to the slapping of Sihombing [by Denny] and the kicking of Khoiril by an assistant of the deputy minister," Djoni said in a letter to Justice and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin.
"Our officers serve well, and we thank the deputy minister for his visit," he added, saying that he wished Denny and his assistants would apologize to the mistreated officers.
Agun said that he confronted Denny over the assaults. The deputy minister denied the claims.
"He denied it, but I told him I have the evidence and facts, and have communicated with a director general who has talked about the issue with the minister. Just keep denying or take a legal measure if he wants," Agun said. The evidence, he said, was Djoni's letter to the justice minister dated on Apr. 2.
Denny a law professor and former legal affairs adviser to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono did not respond to The Jakarta Globe's request for comment. (BeritaSatu/JG)
Robertus Wardi Politicians have pledged support for a call to finally scrap the parliamentary resolution that stripped power from former President Sukarno and handed it to Suharto 45 years ago last week, but the motives are unclear.
M. Romahurmuziy, secretary general of the United Development Party (PPP), said on Monday that his party would back efforts to rescind Resolution 33, passed in March 1967 by the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR).
However, he said any such effort should be carried out by an independent team to look into the merits of the resolution, which was passed following the attempted 1965 coup that crippled Sukarno's standing and set the stage for Suharto to gradually take power.
"The team can be established by the government or the MPR, which has the authority to make such a move," Romahurmuziy said. "The team will then be tasked with recommending whether the resolution should remain in place or be revoked."
He was quick to point out that the proposal to form the team should not be made by a political party, to prevent accusations and speculation about any ulterior motives. An initiative by the government or the MPR, he said, would be far less contentious because both were meant to be neutral and representative of all people.
Even the Golkar Party, which served as Suharto's political vehicle for his 32 years in power, said it supported the idea of scrapping the resolution.
Priyo Budi Santoso, the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives from Golkar, said it was important to rescind the resolution and restore Sukarno's official recognition as the country's revolutionary leader, a title that was stripped from him under Resolution 33.
"Bung Karno was an independence proclamator and a hero," Priyo said, referring to Sukarno by his popular moniker. "That's an indelible part of history," he added.
Leo Nababan, a Golkar deputy secretary general, said the resolution needed to be repealed in the spirit of reconciliation. However, he said any effort to restore Sukarno's reputation should also be extended to Suharto, who has consistently been passed over for national hero status each year since his downfall in 1998.
"There needs to be national reconciliation and an end to all grudges against all past presidents," Leo said. "Both Sukarno and Suharto have to be honored. We call on the public to support equal treatment for Suharto."
The idea of revoking Resolution 33 was first mooted last week by historians Asvi Warman Adam and Anhar Gonggong, who called on the MPR to "correct historical facts" and end the "discrediting of Sukarno."
Jakarta The National Police's reputation is in jeopardy after three foreign correspondents filed a report of acid attacks against them during fuel-policy protests at the gates of House of Representatives building in Jakarta last Friday.
The BBC's Alice Budisatrijo, Bobby Gunawan from the Al Jazeera news network and Louis Benjamin from Reuters news agency filed the report at the National Police headquarters on Tuesday. The three correspondents suffered chemical burns during the attack by an unknown individual.
Ananto Handoyo, a cameraman for local TV station JakTV, had also filed a report after falling victim to the hydrochloric acid attack. Three police officers also reportedly suffered similar burns.
Haris Azhar from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) urged police to thoroughly investigate the attacks to avoid serious accusations from the international community.
"The acid attacks naturally caught the attention of the international community. Indonesia has been known as one of those countries that are less friendly to foreign journalists," Haris told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of a discussion held by members of the Islamic Students Association (HMI) in Jakarta on Friday.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Police Watch chairman Neta S. Pane was less optimistic about the 'seriousness' of the police in investigating the attack.
"Police have assaulted both journalists and protesters far too many times. I think they will not do much this time, in spite of there also being foreign people who have become victims," he said.
Separately, National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar said in a text message that "the process is currently still ongoing. Please wait for the result." (asa)
Jakarta The city administration says it recorded Rp 110 million (US$12,000) in losses during the massive rallies against the government's plan to raise subsidized fuel prices on Friday.
The head of the city's economics office, Adi Ardiantara, said that the largest contribution to the loss was the early closure of Transjakarta busway along Corridor 9 linking Pinang Ranti and Pluit, North Jakarta.
"Usually, Corridor 9 operates until 11 p.m. But on Friday, it only operated until 1 p.m.," Adi said as quoted by kompas.com on Tuesday.
The Transjakarta Management Authority (BLU) said ridership was down by 25,000 passengers on Friday, causing losses of Rp 87 million. Two Transjakarta bus shelters were also damaged by protestors, adding to the loss.
Adi said that Jakarta also lost money due to damages to traffic signs, sidewalk flower pots and damaged fences at the House of Representative and on highways.
Farouk Arnaz Three foreign correspondents filed a report with the National Police on Tuesday over chemical burns they suffered while reporting on last week's chaotic anti-fuel price hike protests outside the House of Representatives in Jakarta.
Boby Gunawan, a cameraman with Al Jazeera, Alice Budisatrijo, of the BBC, and Louis Benjamin, of Reuters, have requested a police investigation into the incident. Boby said that he originally thought he was exposed to tear gas.
"Alice and Jak TV journalist Ananto [were] near me. We were confused because we thought it was tear gas, but it burnt. I ignored it for a while. I only realized it was a chemical liquid after I went to hospital and my skin blackened and had mucus on it," Boby said.
Alice first thought the liquid came from the water cannons police used to douse the crowd, but that was proven unlikely. "Those protesters were drenched from water cannons and yet they were all right. The [liquid] did not seem to come from either tear gas nor water cannons," she said.
National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Muhammad Taufik said the chemical burns were not from police. "This is a work of some people trying to infiltrate the protest and make it anarchistic. We're still investigating the perpetrators, as well as the liquid being used," Taufik said.
Indonesia's Press Council announced a probe into the incident on Monday after Jak TV reported that Ananto, a cameraman, was burned while filming the protest. (BeritaSatu/JG)
Bayu Marhaenjati The Jakarta Police have released on bail 50 students who were involved in last week's violent fuel protests, but two others remained under arrest on Monday.
The students were arrested on Thursday in a raid on the office of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), where they were hiding.
"Fifty students can be released on bail. Investigators are preparing the administrative procedure," Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said ahead of the release.
Rikwanto said police were still considering the students as suspects, and were not just letting them go, as activists had requested. "We have to follow the proper legal procedures," the spokesman said.
Police earlier released a YLBHI researcher on bail. "I don't remember his name. So, there were 53 suspects [in total], the YLBHI researcher was released earlier, then the 50 students. So now, two more remain under arrest," Rikwanto said.
He added that the two who remained under arrest were strongly believed to have been involved in the vandalizing of a car.
"Those we continue to hold in detention are Ahmad Sulyana from Satya Negara University and Syahril, a student of Tadalaku University in Palu, Central Sulawesi. They remain under arrest because of their significant involvement in setting a car ablaze. We have evidence in the form of a recording," he added.
Police also conditionally released 23 other people who were arrested in front of the House of Representatives on Friday.
"The 23 from the House have also been released. They were students, laborers, motorcycle taxi drivers, buskers and others. Their families bailed them out. They're not the ones who threw the chemical substance. We're still looking for those we're talking to witnesses and are gathering evidence," he said.
Agustiyanti, Rizky Amelia, Arientha Primanita & Ezra Sihite Indonesia can increase the price of subsidized fuel as early as next month if the Indonesian Crude Price hits $135 per barrel in April, ministers said on Sunday.
The House of Representatives on Friday rejected the plan to raise the price of Premium subsidized fuel from Rp 4,500 to Rp 6,000 (50 cents to 65 cents) beginning on Sunday, but instead approved a conditional increase.
The revised state budget law passed in the early hours of Saturday states that the government can increase the fuel price if the average of the ICP in the previous six months is 15 percent above $105 per barrel, an assumption of the ICP set in the budget.
Both Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa said on Sunday that the amendment means that government has the authority to go ahead with the 33 percent fuel price hike if the six-month ICP average goes beyond $120.75.
According to government data, the ICP in October stood at $109.25 per barrel, November at $112.94, December at $110.70, January at $115.90, February at $122.17 and March at $128. This means the current six-month ICP average stands at $116.66 per barrel.
Deputy Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources Widjajono Partowidagdo said that according to his calculation, if April's ICP rises above $135 per barrel, the six-month ICP average will go beyond $120.75. "This means we can directly increase the fuel price next month," he said.
Widjajono explained that fluctuations in the ICP depended on circumstances in the Middle East, but that if there is no change in the current situation, the oil price will continue to rise.
The government had been fighting for the price increase to reduce subsidy spending on fuel, which ate up around $14 billion, or 11 percent, of the country's state budget last year more than what the government spent on education and health combined, which stood at $9 billion and $1.4 billion respectively.
The plan to reduce fuel subsidies and increase prices led to massive protests across the nation that turned violent in the run up to Friday's plenary.
But when he addressed the nation on Saturday evening, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the government would only cut fuel subsidies after all other measures had been exhausted. "My view is that an increase in subsidized fuel price will be a last resort if there is no better way," he said in his televised remarks.
The President said that although the oil price has been increasing since October last year, the government has been looking for alternative policies that did not directly increase the fuel price.
Hatta added that even if the average ICP passes the $120.75 mark, the government would still not automatically increase fuel prices. "We will try to find alternatives, such as calling on ministries and state institutions to cut expenses so that we can have budget savings to finance the subsidy," he said.
However, oil and gas expert Kurtubi says that based on his estimates of how world oil prices fluctuate, a price hike next month was unlikely. "The government will increase the price by July 1, at the soonest," said the Center for Petroleum and Energy Economic Studies expert.
Jakarta The Indonesian Police Watch (IPW) reported on Sunday that the recent five-day series of massive rallies to protest against the government's plan to increase fuel prices had resulted in damage to at least 16 police stations nationwide.
In its press release, IPW said four damaged police stations were located in Jakarta, while the remaining 12 were located in several other big cities, like Makassar, Medan, Yogyakarta, Samarinda and Kendari.
The rallies, held from March 27 to March 31 by students, activists and supporters of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, the country's largest opposition party, also damaged four patrol cars and one police motorcycle.
The House of Representatives decided early on Saturday to allow the government to raise subsidized fuel prices only if the Indonesia Crude Price (ICP) was 15 percent higher than assumed in the state budget within six months, meaning that the government had to cancel its initial plan to increase subsidized fuel prices today.
Jakarta Prices for staple foods at several traditional markets in Jakarta remain high, despite the central government's decision on Friday to postpone increasing subsidized fuel prices.
Shoppers who have been looking to buy staples such sugar, for example, have had to pay an additional Rp 1,000 (11 US cents) to Rp 2,000 more per kilogram over the past two weeks. The price of rice, of which Indonesians consume 139 kilograms per capita a year, has also increased.
"As of today, the price of rice remains high. For example, the lowest quality of rice sells for about Rp 7,000 to Rp 8,500 per kilogram," Tina, a rice vendor, said on Saturday at the Palmerah traditional market in Central Jakarta.
Tina said that she had raised her prices to pass on an increase levied on her by suppliers in Cirebon, West Java; and Sragen, Central Java; who feared that their sales would be disrupted by demonstrations against the planned fuel-price hike.
"Probably, by next week, the price of rice will decrease, after the government decided to postpone the increase of subsidized fuel prices. There should be no more demonstrations in the near future that might frighten our suppliers."
Besides, Tina said, rice prices were also likely to decrease given that local vendors currently had large stockpiles, since farmers were in the middle of the harvest when the price of the lowest-quality rice typically bottomed out at around Rp 6,000.
Another seller at the Palmerah traditional market, Yono, said that the prices for sugar and cooking oil remained around Rp 12,000 per kilogram or liter, respectively.
Yono, however, said that the prices of staples would likely rise, despite the delayed increase in subsidized fuel prices.
Similar high prices were also observed at the Kebon Jati traditional market in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta.
Tini Sriyati, 40, a faithful costumer of the market, said that staple food prices had risen over the last two weeks.
"Even though the government has decided not to raise the prices of subsidized fuel yet, staple prices remain high," Tini said. "I should ask my husband to raise my monthly budget," she quipped.
Tini said that she had been stockpiling staple foods for the last two weeks fearing that prices would skyrocket if lawmakers at the House of Representatives agreed to raise fuel prices on April 1, under the government's original timetable.
However, there may be no relief for shoppers in Jakarta, despite the government's decision to delay the increase. According to some vendors, it was not usual for staple food prices to go down after they went up.
Karyono, 43, a vendor at the Kebon Jati traditional market for over 20 years, said that staple food prices soared in 2008, when the government last adjusted the price of subsidized fuel. "Even when the government lowered the prices of subsidized fuel, the prices of staples remained high," he said.
Suparno, 59, a long-time vendor at the Slipi Jaya traditional market in West Jakarta, offered a tongue-in-cheek explanation for the price inelasticity of staple foods. "Why should sellers lower their prices? People love to have lots of money, don't they?" he said. (riz)
Jakarta Lawmaker Rieke Diah Pitaloka warned President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Sunday not to be too enthusiastic with the recently passed 2012 Revised State Budget, especially when it comes to increasing subsidized fuel prices.
The reason for this, she said, is that Article 7 Clause 6a of the revised budget could potentially be considered unconstitutional. Also considered unconstitutional is the fact that the prolonged voting on Friday evening into early hours of Saturday violated procedure at the House of Representatives.
"What the House did on Saturday was against procedure. It unconstitutionally went against the 1945 Constitution because it went against Constitutional Court (MK) rulings," Rieke said as reported by kompas.com.
Article 7 Clause 6a allows the government to increase the price of subsidized fuels if Indonesian Crude Prices (ICP) increase 15 percent within the past six months.
"This article allows market forces to manipulate resources and play with the lives of people. It goes against Article 33 of the 1945 Constitution," Rieke said.
Article 33 Clause 2 of the 1945 Constitution stipulates that production sectors which are important for the state and dominate the public's interests are controlled by the state while Clause 3 says that all natural resources to be controlled by the state and be used for the people's welfare.
Rieke added that the Constitutional Court had dropped an article at the Oil and Gas Law which allows the use of market forces in determining subsidized fuel prices as being unconstitutional. Therefore, she said, it is possible that the 2012 revised state budget could be cancelled.
"The original Article 7 Clause 6 stipulates that the government will not increase subsidized fuel prices so there should have been no voting on changes on subsidized fuel prices," she said. "This means that the House violated the law." (png)
Jakarta Members of the House of Representatives have been heavily criticized for their behavior during the prolonged plenary session on Friday evening to determine whether the country would increase fuel prices on April 1.
A political psychologist from the University of Indonesia (UI), Hamdi Moeloek, said that lawmakers only cared for their political interests in spite of their constant claims to represent the public's concerns.
He referred to the Golkar Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), saying that both parties double-crossed the Democratic Party (PD)-led ruling coalition by taking vague stances during the session.
"On the one hand, PKS politicians are trying to gain public sympathy with their move but I think our society is smart enough to judge the party's sincerity," Hamdi said. "On the other hand, there are two-faced politicians from the Golkar Party whose stance is confusing to the public.
PKS had earlier said it would oppose the plan despite being part of the ruling coalition. The party's lawmakers maintained their opposition during voting to determine the fuel price increase.
Golkar, the second-largest party, keep the public on tenterhooks by temporarily following the PKS in opposing the increase but suddenly agreeing at the last minute to return to the ruling coalition's stance.
Hamdi was speaking on the sidelines of a discussion on the controversial plan to hike subsidized fuel prices. Other speakers in the discussion also criticized the protracted steps taken to reach the voting stage.
Social observer Benny Susetyo said the politicians tried to fool the public for the sake of their self image. "They [the politicians] will get their punishment at the 2014 elections," the Catholic priest said. "This will increase distrust of the House."
While praising the opposition members for their consistency in resisting the plan, Hamdi criticized members of the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) for their decisions to walk out before the voting began.
He said that the opposition members must accept the final decision allowing the government to increase subsidized fuel prices within six months if the Indonesia Crude Price (ICP) is 15 percent higher than assumed in the state budget.
"Those lawmakers should have stayed in the plenary hall until the session was over. Their cantankerous attitude, which was shown by the walk-out, suggests that they will not take responsibility for the plenary session's outcome. It was not a gentlemanly act to do such a thing," he added.
The House finally agreed to revise the 2012 state budget in the early hours of Saturday. The decision automatically aborts the government's plan to raise the fuel price by 33 percent from its current price on April 1.
Indonesia sets the price of subsidized fuel at Rp 4.500 (49 US cents) per liter, making the country's fuel price the cheapest among Southeast Asia countries. (asa)
Dessy Sagita The war is not yet over for those who battled the fuel price hike despite a decision made during the House of Representative's plenary session in the early hours of Saturday.
"Some labor unions are pooling forces to bring the newly-passed Law on Revised State Budget 2012 to the Constitutional Court for judicial review," said Said Iqbal, president of the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI).
"The Law is not pro-people and we will particularly focus on the contentious article 7 of subarticle 6 A. Labor unions, especially KSPI, cannot accept the decision made by the House of Representative because the article gives the government an opportunity to raise the fuel price."
In the blogosphere on Saturday, anti-corruption activist Fadjroel Rahman asked fellow activists and Budiman Sujatmiko and Eva Kusuma Sundari, politicians from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), to meet on Monday to formulate a petition to be submitted to the Constitutional Court.
Benny Susetyo, from the Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI), said he was optimistic that the controversial subarticle would be revoked by the Court because it was against the 1945 Constitution. The same Court repealed an article from the 2001 Oil and Gas Law in 2005, as it suggested the price of fuel and natural gas would depend on a healthy competitive market.
The 1945 Constitution clearly stipulates that natural resources must be explored and used for the greater good.
"Principally, it's the same problem with the 2005 law," he told a discussion on Saturday. "There will be a lot of elements and organizations that file a judicial review on that controversial sub article and I believe that the Court will revoke it," he added.
Benny charged that the addition on article 7 of subarticle 6 A was a trick invented by lawmakers to save face and to respond to the situation outside the House building.
The proposal to increase the fuel price sparked massive protests around the country during the week, including one in which demonstrators crashed through the gates of the House as lawmakers deliberated.
After a noisy vote, the tight and prolonged plenary, which opened on Friday morning, failed to pass the government's proposal to raise fuel prices. More than 350 lawmakers voted to possibly raise the price in six months. The 24-member People's Conscience Party (Hanura) staged a walkout and was followed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). Under the agreed upon option, the fuel price will only increase if the Indonesian Crude Price (ICP) exceeds the amount set in the budget by at least 15 percent for six months.
"Although the government cannot raise the fuel price starting today as it had previously planned, the prices of consumer goods have already gone up. Because of that, we also demand the government to make an effort to control the prices of consumer goods and staple food supplies that have been soaring in price," Iqbal, of KSPI, added.
Sita W. Dewi, Jakarta Activists from various institutions are planning to file for a Constitutional Court judicial review of the revised 2012 state budget passed by the House of Representatives early on Saturday.
Andalas University Center of Constitutional Studies (Pusako) researcher Feri Amsari said Sunday that activists and researchers from Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), Gadjah Mada University's Center for Anti-Corruption Studies (Pukat) and Andalas University's Center for Constitutional Studies (Pusako) were studying the material while preparing the judicial review request.
"The House's decision to add Article 7 (6a) to the revised state budget was a bit 'unique' because it was contradictory to Article 7 (6), saying that subsidized fuel prices won't be increased," Feri told The Jakarta Post.
Article 7 (6a) stipulates that the government can increase the fuel price if the Indonesian Crude Price increases 15 percent above the budget forecast within 6 months.
"It also contradicts the 1945 Constitution's Article 33, which says that the earth and water and natural resources contained therein shall be controlled by the state and used as much as possible for the prosperity of the people," he said, "Thus, the [additional] article is unconstitutional."
The government had proposed to increase subsidized fuel prices from Rp 4,500 (49 US cents) per liter to Rp 6,000 per liter in April, arguing that the price increase could save the state budget from swelling fuel subsidies. The plan, however, has to be postponed, as the House had passed Article 7 (6a).
Medan/Makassar Rallies against the government's fuel-price plans continued in several cities across the country on Saturday with the protesters targeting lawmakers.
The fuel-price hike that prompted nationwide rallies by university students and other civic groups over three consecutive days will not take effect on April 1 as initially sought by the government.
However, the protesters appeared to be irritated by the prospect that the hike would probably be unavoidable after lawmakers concluded their plenary session after midnight on Friday.
The protesters in Medan and Makassar were adamant on Saturday they rejected the hike, now or in the future. "We're against the fuel-price hike at any time. That's nonnegotiable," rally coordinator Jumeida said in Medan.
Some 300 people from various organizations joined the rally. The protesters vowed to continue to press the government into canceling the hike. Jumeida said the lawmakers' decision was farcical, made only to calm public anger.
Hendra Hidayat, chairman of the Muslim Students' Association (HMI) Medan branch said people wanted cancellation not postponement of the hike. "The House is being hypocritical and trying to fool the people," he said.
Medan has been one of the rallying venues across the country marred by vandalism. Governor Gatot Pujo Nugroho said his administration would go to campuses to hold dialogues with the students.
In Makassar, the rallying crowd accused lawmakers of betraying the people, seeing the House decision as akin to giving the government permission to raise fuel prices. "[President] SBY [Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] [Vice President] Boediono and the DPR [the House] are just the same. Both are betraying the people," shouted a protester.
In Surakarta, the city administration had to drop a plan to hold the Earth Hour campaign on Saturday evening following the escalating protests in the region over the past month.
Deputy Mayor FX Hadi Rudyatmo said he would not risk the event. "I just don't want any irresponsible individuals damaging stability in the city by making use of the Earth Hour movement," he said.
Gunmen fired on a small plane after it landed in Indonesia's restive Papua region Sunday, killing one passenger and wounding four people including both pilots, police and a district official said.
The Twin Otter plane, operated by domestic carrier Trigana Air and carrying eight passengers and crew, ran into a building at the airport in the town of Mulia after the pilots lost control.
Gun attacks are common in the Papua region in Indonesia's extreme east, where poorly armed separatist groups have for decades fought a low level insurgency for the mostly ethnic Melanesian population.
"One person was killed and four were wounded in the plane incident, including the two pilots, a female passenger and a four-year-old boy," provincial police spokesman Johannes Nugroho told AFP. "I think there were only one or two shots and the other casualties were from shrapnel," he added.
District official Agus Fakaubun told AFP the pilot was hurt in the leg and the co-pilot in the hand. He added that the plane had arrived from another district of Papua.
"The aircraft had reached the end of the airstrip and was taxiing to park when a group of armed men shot at the aircraft from the nearby hills," he said, adding that the attackers had fled. "The pilots lost control after getting hurt, and the aircraft ran into an airport building," Fakaubun said.
Coordinating security minister Djoko Suyanto said police were hunting for the perpetrators. "An autopsy is being conducted to see what kind of arms they used," he told local radio, adding that the dead victim was a local journalist.
The incident is the latest in a spate of gun attacks in the region, some of them near US mining giant Freeport McMoRan's Grasberg gold and copper mine, which suspended operations in February after a three-month strike by workers.
In December, unidentified gunmen opened fire on an aircraft carrying Freeport workers, wounding one passenger.
Sunday's incident was not believed to be related to Freeport's operations. Mulia is in Papua's Puncak Jaya district, which is believed to be a separatist hotbed.
Despite the threat of resistance from the KNPB in response to a summons from the police to its chairperson, Buchtar Tabuni, the police chief, Drs BL Tobing said that they will continue to issue the summons the chairperson of the KNPB to take responsibility for the demonstrations.
"We will give him until two or three weeks after Easter to respond to our summons. If he fails to respond, we will have to use force to bring him here."
He said that the summons had been issued because the demonstrations were anarchic and the particpants had been carrying traditional weapons such as spears and bows-and-arrows and took place outside the Abepura Post Office and in Taman Imbi on Tuesday 20 March and Monday 2 April.
According to the chief of police, traditional weapons were only to be carried on ritual occasions. He said that the KNPB had broken its promise about the demonstration. He also said that the KNPB was trying to influence public opinion and had adopted the position of rejecting a police summons.
The Aliansi Demokrasi Untuk Papua Democratic Alliance for Papua has called on the Indonesian government and specifically on the police force to immediately arrest and charge the perpetrators of the serious bloody incident which occurred at the time of an attack on the ammunition dump of Kodim district military command 1702 in Wamena on 4 April 2003.
Cory Silva, speaking on behalf of the ALDP, said that the government should also provide a clarification about the incident. She said that incident was a serious tragedy that led to the loss of many lives.
"As far as we know, the government has failed to acknowledge responsibility for that incident and it has simply been swept under the carpet," she told journalists.
She called on Komnas HAM, the National Human Rights Commission, and the Attorney General's Office, to provide information about any recent developments with regard to the case. It seems to us, she said, that the incident has got stuck somewhere between these two agencies.
"We urge the government to provide clarifications with regard to any developments concerning the case. This would help explain things to the victims and to the general public,"
Cory went on to say that the police should arrest the perpetrators and bring them before the court. "If at all possible, the persons behind that incident should be arrested and face justice in accordance with the law of the land."
The deputy director of the ALDP in Jayapura, Yusman Conoras, said the state should accept responsibility for those who became political prisoners in connection with the case, bearing in mind that they received heavy sentences. "Those who were held as tapols in connection with this case need special attention because of the heavy sentences they have had to serve," he said.
According to the available information, the security forces rounded up six persons whose names are as follows: Kanius Murib, Enos Lokobal, Jefrai Murib, Numbunnga Telenggen, Kimanus Wenda and Michael Hesello. They were tried and convicted by the district court in Makasar. They are at present facing proceedings before the Makasar State Court. The first three were sentenced to 20 years, while the other three were given life sentences.
One of the co-defendants, Michael Hesello, fell ill and died while he was being held in Gunung Sari Prison in Makasar. The others are at present facing proceedings at the Makasar State Court.
The insistence by the chief of police in Papua that Buchtar Tabuni, the chairperson of KNPB the National Committee of West Papua be held responsible for the KNPB organising two demonstrations instead of just one has led to a response from the KNPB.
The chairperson of the KNPB, Mako Tabuni, said that the organisation will not respond to the summons from the police, whether or not they intend to arrest Buchtar Tabuni, saying that if Buchtar is arrested, they will take strong action again the police.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, 3 April, Mako said that there was no foundation whatever to what the police chief said.
He said that they had been forced to hold their demonstration in two places, in Abepura and in Taman Imbi because the police had failed to acknowledge the organisation's notification to the police about the forthcoming demonstration. "Now, they even want to take proceedings against us."
He also said that the fact that they intended to carry traditional weapons was simply because they were being used for cultural purposes, as the cultural attributes of the Papuan people.
"The demonstration is an action regarding our people's future, and if the police complain that it caused traffic congestion, then we think that the police should behave more professionally. We know that demonstrations take place in other parts of the country, such as in Java and Makasar which have been going on for days and causing traffic jams because they are quite legal. This is a time of demonstrations". (a reference apparently to the many demonstrations currently taking place across Indonesia in protest against the increase in the price of petrol).
"If we are to be taken to court because we hold demonstrations, then we have to accept that we are not living in a democracy. If we are not allowed to demonstrate, then we will resort other ways in our calls for a referendum because Indonesia is holding on to West Papua as the result of a process that was illegal."
He also complained about the media coverage which he said, focussed on things like traffic jams, shops being closed or children being sent home from school, without mentioning the purpose of the demonstration. "So if we are denied the space to demonstrate, we will have to resort to other measures."
He warned the police to consider the consequences of acting like a colonial power, adding that they had no intention of responding to the summons from the police.
He also said that the claim that a journalist was killed during the KNPB demonstration was quite untrue. and was just a trick to denigrate the intentions of the KNPB whenever they organise demonstrations. and an attempt to damage the good relations which the KNPB has had with the local press.for many years.
Indonesia's only province ruled by hard-line Sharia law elects its governor on Monday, in polls watched by militant Muslims pushing for an Islamic government nationwide.
The elections in Aceh are the second since the province suffered 170,000 fatalities in the Asian tsunami of 2004, and since a 30-year war against Indonesian rule ended in 2005, having claimed 15,000 lives.
The restive region, on the western edge of the scattered Indonesian archipelago, now enjoys autonomy and remains an anomaly in a country where most of the 240 million people practise a moderate form of Islam.
Alcohol is freely sold in the rest of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, but it is banned in Aceh. In some of the province's regions, women are forbidden to wear tight trousers.
Gamblers and imbibers are publicly caned. Debate still churns in Aceh over whether adulterers should continue to be publicly flogged, or stoned to death. Irwandi Yusuf, who was elected governor in December 2006 and is seeking a second five-year term, backs Sharia but has remained a bulwark against stricter enforcement, such as stoning, the harshest punishment for adultery.
No law can pass unless the provincial parliament dominated by Yusuf's opponents and the governor are both in agreement. The 51-year-old's main challenger is Teungku Ahmad Tajuddin, an Islamic schoolteacher who is confident of victory. The 49-year-old cleric will not say outright whether he backs the stoning laws, but condemns Yusuf for rejecting the stiffer Sharia bylaws.
"I don't reject criminal bylaws, because clerics have agreed to them. I want Aceh as a model of Islamic Sharia for Indonesia and Southeast Asia," Tajuddin added.
Sporadic violence, including arson attacks and at least six fatal shootings, have been reported in the run-up to the polls, which have been repeatedly delayed since October.
But the province has been getting back on its feet after the civil war and the tsunami. In the capital, Banda Aceh, new concrete homes, hotels, schools and mosques cover the flood devastation, and new roads have been built wider to allow a quicker exit should another disaster strike.
Across the capital, Yusuf's orange campaign posters promise "continued peace and development," while Tajuddin's green banners proclaim his vow of "making Islamic Sharia part of Aceh."
For Indonesia's Islamic militants who insist on Sharia rule nationwide, Aceh shines as an example, and it has been a magnet for militants.
"Strict enforcement of Sharia laws is not perfect in Aceh, but it's a good start and all other provinces must follow," said Farihin Ibnu Ahmad, an Islamist who has done two jail stints on terrorism convictions.
Islamic militancy in Indonesia has been weakened by an official crackdown launched after the 2002 attacks on packed nightclubs in Bali, which were blamed on the regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).
The group's alleged founder Abu Bakar Bashir is doing a 15-year prison term on charges that include funding a terrorist training camp in Aceh. Umar Patek, the accused bombmaker in the Bali attacks who is on trial in Jakarta, is also charged with terrorist activities in Aceh.
But despite executions and arrests, Muslim militants still remain active. "Sharia is not negotiable and it is everyone's duty to fight for it," Ahmad said.
Nurdin Hasan, Banda Aceh An Aceh election official has warned of potential dirty tricks and intimidation in the province's remote areas during the vote count that will follow Monday's elections.
Aceh Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) chairman Nyak Arief Fadhillah Syah called on authorities to anticipate violence and to provide protection for villagers so they can participate in the elections peacefully. The Acehnese will vote for a governor, 13 district heads and four mayors on Monday.
"The potential for unfair practices is very big because the people, village heads and village electoral organizers have been receiving terror threats and intimidation to get certain contenders to win," Nyak Arief told the Jakarta Globe on Friday.
Electioneering officially stopped on Friday following a 14-day campaign period to attract the sympathies of the province's 3,244,680 registered voters.
Nyak Arief said terror and intimidation were most likely to occur in remote areas in Pidie, Bireuen, North Aceh, East Aceh and Bener Meriah due to the difficult access and lack of any information networks.
"Based on the experience of the 2006 regional elections and 2009 legislative elections, intimidation can happen in a most vulgar manner during the quiet period. If a certain contender doesn't win, the lives of village heads or poll station officers could be in danger," he said.
Aside from cheating committed by electoral organizers during the vote recapitulation process in the subdistrict levels, the organizers could also face threats from supporters of certain candidates.
"It's hard to identify who committed intimidating practices because there is no evidence or witnesses and people usually refuse to report any intimidation," he said.
Nyak Arief called on the Acehnese to fight any form of intimidation and terror. "If we are afraid, the groups will become more aggressive and that could hurt the democracy process that we are building in Aceh."
The Panwaslu has sent 270 volunteers in terror-prone areas to monitor the election process. Aside from Panwaslu volunteers, several local, national and international observers have also sent volunteers to monitor the election process.
Panwaslu found 59 violations during the campaign period that included six criminal cases while the rest were administrative violations committed by the candidates and their supporters.
Panwaslu reported the administrative violations to the Aceh Independent Election Commission (KIP) and the criminal cases to the Aceh Police.
Panwaslu also received 57 reports of violence and intimidations during the campaign period, which were mostly committed by supporters of gubernatorial candidates Irwandi Yusuf and Zaini Abdullah who were both former Free Aceh Movement (GAM) officials.
Executive director of the Coalition of Human Rights NGOs Evi Narti Zein said volunteers often received threats and intimidation while doing their jobs.
"Some of our volunteers in the regions received threats when they monitored the election process especially during the campaign period," he said, adding that the coalition had sent out 108 volunteers to 18 districts/cities.
Evi said it was not easy for them to prove the threats because the perpetrators were unknown and no pieces of evidence were found. "Most of the violence occurred in the early hours that made it difficult for Panwaslu and security officers to identify the perpetrators," he said.
Aceh NGO Forum executive director Sudarman said there where 40 cases of violence during the campaign period that involved supporters of candidates. Most of the cases occurred in eastern coastal areas of Aceh.
Michael Bachelard One of two candidates likely to win the election in Indonesia's troubled westernmost province of Aceh has accused the other of authorising up to 13 murders in the lead-up to Monday's poll.
In the middle of a televised debate on Thursday night, the former governor of Aceh, Irwandi Yusuf, who is seeking re-election, turned to his challenger, Zaini Abdullah, and asked what he knew of "the terrors that have taken place in Aceh".
"The [national police] know the perpetrators came from [Zaini's party] Partai Aceh," Irwandi said. Zaini responded that Irwandi's question was "provocative" and said it was up to the police to complete their investigation. A spokesman had earlier told the Herald that Zaini denied the accusation.
The politics of Aceh, which until 2005 was fighting a bloody war for independence against Indonesia, have deteriorated recently into a trenchant battle between the two former independence fighters.
Zaini and Irwandi were, until Aceh accepted a "special autonomy" deal with Indonesia, allies and comrades-in-arms in the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Both travelled to Helsinki seven years ago to witness the signing of the peace treaty that ended the struggle.
But the dispute, which has been festering almost since the peace deal was signed, burst into public when one of Irwandi's closest allies was shot dead. The argument has increased the potential for violent unrest surrounding Monday's election for governor. And it also made many ordinary Acehnese people question as they go to the polls whether fighting for decades in the jungle is the best qualification for high political office.
"The only thing we lack," says a construction contractor, Chandra, as we sit in one of Banda Aceh's ubiquitous, open-sided coffee houses, "is the right men in charge."
The killings began in July last year after an influential figure within the former guerilla movement, Saiful Husein, known as Cagee, defected from Partai Aceh, the political offshoot of the rebel group, GAM, and joined Irwandi's group. He was shot dead in a coffee shop.
Over the next six months, 12 more shooting deaths followed, the last in early January. After Cagee, all the victims were Javanese workers living temporarily in Aceh, and the main beneficiary of their deaths was Zaini's party.
Partai Aceh wanted the government in Jakarta to delay the election for governor until Irwandi's first term of office had expired. If that was the plan, it worked. The central government delayed the election four times from October to April citing "security disturbances". In the meantime, Irwandi's first term ended, so he is fighting this election campaign without the benefit of incumbency.
Some of Irwandi's suspicions appeared to have been confirmed last month when the national police anti-terrorist unit, Densus 88, announced that those arrested for some of the murders were Partai Aceh members.
"It's true some of our sympathisers, they are ex-combatants who did that [shooting]," admits a Partai Aceh spokesman, "but it doesn't mean that Partai Aceh gave the orders".
Irwandi goes further, telling the Herald at his Banda Aceh home that Partai Aceh had hatched a plan to assassinate him. "They planted a bomb on the road they perceived I would be passing, but my intelligence intercepted their communication before it can happen," he says.
Ed Aspinall, an ANU academic and long-time Aceh watcher, thinks it likely that Partai Aceh was behind some or all of the 13 killings. The organisation still has the feeling of an army corps, with strict codes, loyalty and hierarchical leadership, he says, and it is a "habit of heart, a part of their ideology, that they solve problems through violence". According to the rebels' code, Irwandi is seen as a traitor to the movement.
"In the jungle during the struggle, if you were depicted as a traitor, it was a precursor to you being executed," Aspinall says.
However, police have not yet made clear what if any evidence they have linking the 13 murders to the party's leaders.
Whatever the truth about the killings, it is undeniable that the former GAM combatants on both sides of the factional divide can be dangerous, if only because of their access to weapons. Of perhaps 20,000 armed militants, GAM only admitted to 3000 as part of the peace process, a deliberate tactic to minimise the number of weapons surrendered.
Asked if Irwandi could control the 70 per cent of militants he now claims are in his camp, a senior aide replied "of course" he could. "If we can't, then Zaini Abdullah is already a dead man," the man said lightly.
According to Nurdin Abdul Rahman, the bupati (regent) of the province of Bireuen, the concern for many voters in the villages is that the poll may be corrupted by smaller-scale threats of violence.
"[Partai Aceh representatives] have told people if they don't win they'd... force them to come out of their houses, and then burn their houses," Nurdin alleges. He says witnesses are too scared to speak. Zaini's spokesman denied the charge. "Why would we do it... I think this kind of thing is said by people who are afraid of losing supporters."
But a recent report by the International Crisis Group reported a similar story from a number of sources and, according to Aspinall, "intimidation on polling day is a real issue". "They have a high degree of reliance on coercion and intimidation," he said of the Aceh party's campaign style.
But Damaso Magbual, who is leading a group of election monitors from the Asian Network for Free Elections, said this fear appeared to be "a little bit overblown", with only six incidents reported during the campaign period. There was a real danger, however, of unrest in the months after the election and the declaration of the result.
For most Acehnese, though, the main concern is not being shot, it is that economic development appears painfully slow and the distribution of wealth unfair. And at the candidate debate, most of the questions focused on the concerns of people the world over: health, education and jobs.
"GAM was good at running a war, but not so good at governing," says Chandra at the coffee shop. "The rich here are all government workers. We have many resources, minerals, gold, iron ore, and we need a stronger private sector."
Perhaps after Monday, the factional hatreds being played out by these former GAM guerillas will solidify into the ritual warfare of politics. When this happens, economic issues will dominate debate. Until then, Chandra says, "let's hope" Monday's election goes off peacefully.
Farouk Arnaz The security situation in Aceh remains largely trouble-free as campaigning for next Monday's elections winds down this week, police said on Tuesday.
Brig. Gen. Muhammad Taufik, a National Police spokesman, said there had "only" been 17 reported incidents of violence or vandalism in the campaign period that started on March 22, ahead of polls in which the gubernatorial seat, 13 district head posts and four mayors' seats are up for grabs.
"All 17 cases are currently being investigated by the police," Taufik said. "They include reports of threats, assault, vandalism and arson."
The campaigning ends on Thursday, followed by a rest period during which all forms of campaigning are prohibited, and culminating with the elections on Monday.
Taufik said a heavy police presence was already on hand ahead of polling day, with reinforcements coming in from North Sumatra, West Sumatra and Riau.
"We've given the local police reinforcements from the Brimob [Mobile Brigade] and from other provincial police forces. They've been in Aceh since March 8," Taufik said.
He added the National Police were also providing other assistance in the form of 60 intelligence and forensics officials to help track down those suspected of involvement in a series of attacks that have marred the run-up to the polls since last October.
Nine people have been killed in those attacks since December. Four men were killed when armed men shot at a group of workers from the Setya Agung rubber plantation in North Aceh district on Dec. 4.
On the eve of the new year, an armed man fired on a group of Telkomsel workers in Bireuen district as they took a break, killing three of them. On the same day, an unidentified man shot and killed a worker at a toy store in Ulee Kareng, Banda Aceh.
On Jan. 1, five armed men opened fire on a coffee shop in North Aceh, killing one person. On Jan. 5, two armed men shot at three construction workers in Aceh Besar district, killing one.
A total of eight people have been arrested over the attacks, three of whom were reportedly former members of the now-defunct Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Police have also shot dead two suspects.
Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, Padang Prosecutors have fouled up the indictment of Alexander Aan, the civil servant in Padang, West Sumatra, accused of professing atheism on Facebook, his lawyers say.
Alexander was charged with blasphemy and atheism by prosecutors at the Muaro Sijunjung District Court in West Sumatra on Monday. The employee of the Regional Planning Board in Dharmasraya regency was "caught" by local residents, who handed him over to the police on Jan. 18.
Roni Saputra and Dedi Alfaresi, the lawyers from the Padang office of the Legal Aid Institute (LBH) who are representing Alexander, said in their defense statement that the charges against Alexander were not filed in accordance with the correct laws.
Alexander should have been charged under a joint regulation promulgated by the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Attorney General's Office and the Home Ministry, Roni said. The indictment also did not mention when and where the defendant allegedly attempted to convert Muslims into apostasy, Roni added.
In the first session of Alexander's trial on Monday, prosecutors charged him under the Law on Information and Electronic Transactions for posting blasphemous material to the Internet, a charge that might result in a six- year prison sentence if he is convicted.
However, according to Roni, Alexander only reposted images and text from the "Minang Atheist" Facebook group on his own account.
Ronny said that that comic was first circulated in a forum called "Faith Freedom Indonesia 2008" and was still available on the Internet, while a second inflammatory comic that Alexander allegedly posted was aired by Metro TV as part of a story on Jan. 20, 2010.
Islam does not allow drawings or visual representations of the Prophet Muhammad.
According to Roni, the defendant was aware of his alleged offenses and had willingly expressed his apologies to all Muslims, members of his family and the Dharmasraya regency administration.
Alexander was merely one of the 2,602 members of "Minang Atheist", Roni said, claiming that the Facebook group was founded by 70-year-old Jusfiq Hadjar, an Indonesian-born resident of Leiden, the Netherlands, according to the attorney. "The defendant has never met or spoken directly to Jusfiq," Roni said.
Robertus Wardi The Prosperous Justice Party's future in the pro- government coalition of parties hangs by a thread as the president was said to be busy restructuring his political alliance on Wednesday.
"President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is of the opinion that a frail coalition will only cause problems for the running of the government," said presidential spokesman Daniel Sparring.
"The journey of the past two years has made us all busy," he added. "It is now time to straighten out what has long been delayed.
"This is also the time for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to lead the coalition, which would become a little leaner but would be better able to safeguard the policies of the SBY-Boediono government."
Another presidential spokesman, Julian Aldrin Pasha, declined to say on Wednesday if the president had made a decision about the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). "A statement will be officially made, but at this point I can't comment on the existence and the continuity of the PKS in the government," he said.
The PKS has three ministers in the cabinet but has lately become a thorn in the six-party coalition, most recently by publicly opposing the government's plan to raise the price of subsidized fuel to better manage the budget.
Syarief Hasan, the secretary of the ruling coalition, said that although the PKS had not yet been dismissed, the coalition now included only five parties, not six, as it did previously. "The coalition now has just five members, and they are those who stay together," he said.
Besides the PKS and the ruling Democratic Party, the coalition includes the Golkar Party, the National Mandate Party (PAN), the United Development Party (PPP) and the National Awakening Party (PKB.)
Syarief said the PKS should take the initiative and leave before it is kicked out. "Essentially, the PKS violated the coalition contract," he said. "According to the existing contract, those who violate the contract should resign."
Syarief said the PKS broke three of eight points agreed upon in the contract, which it signed when it joined the coalition. The party violated its obligation to foster harmony in the coalition and to support strategic policies explained to the coalition by the president, he said.
Finally, he said, members who fail to support "a vital and strategic policy" agreed upon by the coalition should remove themselves from the coalition by resigning.
Syarief, who is also a member of the Democratic Party's board of patrons, said the PKS had repeatedly taken a different stance from other coalition members. As such, he said, the PKS has clearly shown it is no longer in solidarity with the coalition.
Mahfudz Siddiq, the PKS deputy secretary general, did not say whether the party would resign but said that if the coalition agreed the party was no longer part of the group, "then PKS will accept this with an open heart." However, he said Yudhoyono ha yet to inform the PKS leader of his final decision.
The Democratic Party's deputy chairman, Jhonny Allen Marbun, agreed with Syarief that the PKS should be responsible for resigning. "We are asking for their conscience, to consider the results of their actions," he said. "They say they're prepared [to leave the coalition] but they just continue."
Arientha Primanita Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi revived a call on Tuesday for governors to be appointed by provincial legislatures rather than through direct elections, citing the high cost of the ballots.
Gamawan, who first broached the idea in August 2010, said the government would include the proposal in a planned draft amendment to the 2004 Regional Governance Law.
"Elections at the provincial level now are too expensive, with candidates spending hundreds of billions of rupiah," he said. "Yet for all that expense, the impact is negligible," he added, arguing that governors were not as involved in regional policies and programs as mayors and district heads.
He said many officials are driven to engage in corruption once they are elected so they can recoup the high cost of running for governor. "That's why we want to make the election of governors as efficient as possible," he said.
He said provincial legislatures should also choose governors, as they did during former President Suharto's New Order era, because many governors end up falling out with their deputies, who are usually chosen from a different political party for the support they carry.
"What we're proposing is that the elections be held to choose only from among the gubernatorial candidates, not from the tickets," he said. "Once the governors are chosen, then they can go on to pick their deputies." The minister argued that taking gubernatorial elections away from the public and giving them to provincial legislators did not undermine democracy.
The Constitution, he added, stipulates that elections be held "democratically" but says nothing about whether they should be direct or indirect.
The proposal, which drew widespread criticism when it was first mooted, remains contentious, even among Gamawan's colleagues in the cabinet.
Hatta Rajasa, the coordinating minister for the economy and chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), said on Tuesday that he wanted the choice of governor to stay with the people.
Jakarta Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) says all nine political parties that receive state funding have failed the tests of openness and transparency required by law, with the ruling Democratic Party rated among the worst.
All political parties represented in the House of Representatives received government financial support on the basis of their share of votes in the 2009 election.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party (PD) received the largest share with Rp 2.34 billion (US$260,000) in 2010, while second- placed Golkar received Rp 1.62 billion, while the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) was in third place with Rp 1.57 billion. The 2008 Political Parties Law requires political parties to submit reports that account for every cent of the state's money to the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK).
"Generally speaking, their financial reports were all poor," Apung Widadi,said on Wednesday.
ICW put in a request with all nine parties for access to their 2010 finances in June, and every single one of them failed to comply. After invoking the 2008 Access to Public Information Law, the parties eventually sent their reports.
ICW placed PD along with PDI-P, PAN and Hanura as among the worst in responding to its request and in the way they presented their reports.
Apung said all the parties except Gerindra sent two-page reports answering the ICW's questions rather than submitting the full financial reports. "We appreciate Gerindra for giving us the most complete report, including their invoices," he said.
Gerindra is the smallest of the nine parties with representatives in the House. Besides the big three of PD, Golkar and the PDI-P, the other parties represented in the House are the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the National Mandate Party (PAN), the National Awakening Party (PKB), the United Development Party (PPP) and the People's Conscience Party (Hanura).(aml/dic)
Bagus BT Saragih and Hans David Tampubolon, Jakarta The recent turmoil in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's coalition over plans to raise fuel prices may represent leverage for politicians to extract greater concessions.
The Golkar Party, the second-largest coalition member after Yudhoyono's Democratic Party, allegedly profited from the last-minute drama at the House of Representatives on Saturday when they finally supported an article to revise the state budget, conditionally allowing the government to raise fuel prices.
The support, which was urgently needed by Yudhoyono, was given less than 48 hours after Golkar executives held a press conference to oppose any fuel- price increase plan.
Suspicion is now rife over what concessions Golkar received for the support, particularly when the revised state budget law contained an additional clause that granted more money and authority for the government-sanctioned Sidoarjo Mud Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPLS).
The BPLS, formed in 2007, is tasked with easing the impact of the mid-2006 mudflow disaster allegedly caused by oil exploration by PT Lapindo Brantas, a company controlled by the family of Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie.
The so-called Lapindo mudflow, centering on Sidoarjo, East Java, continues, with no end in sight. The mud has inundated more than five villages and displaced more than 30,000 people. As the Bakrie family had difficulties in paying compensation to the mudflow victims, the government decided in 2007 to chip in using taxpayers' money.
Since its inception, the BPLS has spent more than Rp 3 trillion (US$333 million) on compensation and infrastructure, an amount comparable to building around 6,000 modest elementary schools in eastern Indonesia.
The controversial article in the revised state budget law that has possibly benefited Aburizal is Article 18 on the allocation of funds by the BPLS.
Under the previous state budget, the agency would have been authorized only to cover living costs, rent, evacuation and settlements for areas outside the declared impacted areas. But under the revised law, the agency receives a legal boost to be able to buy land and buildings owned by residents of areas located outside the impacted areas.
The revised law also provides authority for the President to declare villages or subdistricts located outside the impacted areas eligible for compensation and payment for their land and buildings.
With this revision, the funding allocated to the BPLS increases to Rp 1.6 trillion from the Rp 1.3 trillion initially allocated for this year. "We have been given the authority to expand the use of state funds," said BPLS secretary Adi Sarwoko on Tuesday.
Golkar politician Bambang Soesatyo, who is also a member of the House budget committee that revised the state budget law, insisted that the article was an initiative from the government.
"The article [on BPLS] is not our payment for supporting the fuel-price increase," said Bambang. "The additional allocation for handling the mudflow was entirely the government's proposal, and it was already there from the beginning of the deliberation of the state budget revision," he said.
Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa, also chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), refused to comment on the issue.
Executive for the Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra) Uchok Sky Khadafi felt it would be very naive to believe that there was no link between the BPLS article and the Golkar support. "Golkar has enjoyed 'political compensation' in the form of a lessening of the burden triggered by the Lapindo mudflow," he alleged.
Political observer Ray Rangkuti, director of the Indonesian Civilized Circle (LIMA), said such political transactions were nothing new in Indonesian politics. "It's just obvious for our politicians to want something in return for supporting a policy. The stakes will be higher if the support is for an unpopular policy," he said.
For assisting efforts to contain the Sidoarjo mudflow disaster, the financial allocation for the government-sanctioned Sidoarjo Mud Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPLS) for the 2012 budget can be used for:
A. Paying off the purchase of land and buildings in areas outside the map of the impacted areas in three villages: Besuki, Kedungcangkring and Pejarakan.
B. Assistance for rent, living costs, evacuation costs and settlements for the purchase of land and buildings in nine neighborhoods in three subdistricts: Siring, Jatirejo and Mindi.
C. Assistance for rent, living costs, evacuation costs and paying for the purchase of land and buildings outside the impacted areas is further stipulated by a Presidential Regulation (perpres). Article 18 in the previous state budget law
For assisting efforts to contain the Sidoarjo mudflow disaster, the financial allocation for the government-sanctioned Sidoarjo Mud Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPLS) for the 2012 budget can be used for:
A. Assistance for rent, living costs, evacuation costs and settlements for the purchase of land and buildings outside the impacted areas that includes Besuki, Kedungcangkring and Pejarakan villages and nine neighborhoods in three subdistricts: Siring, Jatirejo and Mindi.
B. Social assistance for areas outside the impacted areas is further stipulated in the Presidential Regulation (perpres), and should be based on a study.
Anita Rachman & Markus Junianto Sihaloho President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) are testing each other's patience as to who will be the first to act in a standoff that could make or break their political ties.
The PKS has three ministers in the president's cabinet, but faces mounting pressure to quit the government coalition and withdraw its officials from their ministerial posts after rejecting the government's proposal to increase the price of subsidized fuel in a House of Representatives vote early on Saturday morning.
Political analysts said both Yudhoyono and the PKS are playing a waiting game for fear that a decision to split will be seen by the public as "not a noble move."
On Monday, Yudhoyono decided to work from his private residence in Cikeas, Bogor, summoning ministers to discuss the impact of a delayed fuel price hike, presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said. He said Yudhoyono would make a decision on the PKS, but added that now was not the time for him to speak to the public about the president's decision.
Despite having the prerogative to fire ministers or kick out coalition members, Yudhoyono said he would talk with other members of his coalition before making any decision. No meeting had taken place as of Monday evening.
The PKS, meanwhile, challenged Yudhoyono to make a decision, saying it was up to him to decide its fate in the coalition and cabinet. However, the party made no move to break its ties with the president or the government coalition.
"If the president wants us out then we'll leave. He doesn't have to discuss it with other coalition members, as he has the authority to decide anything," said Mahfudz Siddiq, PKS deputy secretary general.
Jimly Asshiddiqie, a former chief of the Constitutional Court, said both sides were eager to look gracious and noble in the public's eyes and were waiting for the other to make the first move. "They are in a waiting game. However, the government should just get the PKS out if it is for the interest of the country," he said.
Observers, however, suggested that Golkar will take advantage if the PKS withdraws its ministers, as the party is known to have its eye on the lucrative communication and information portfolio ahead of 2014 elections. "Golkar will capitalize on PKS's absence," said Iberamsjah, a political professor at the University of Indonesia.
PKS has three ministers in the cabinet: Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring, Agriculture Minister Suswono and Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al Jufri.
Priyo Budi Santoso, a senior Golkar politician, dismissed the suggestion, saying his party would not be involved in determining the fate of PKS cabinet posts. "If there is a cabinet reshuffle, we won't be part of it. That's entirely in the president's hands," he said.
Priyo, who is also House deputy speaker, said Democrats have every reason to be mad at the PKS. The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the biggest opposition party, said Yudhoyono should kick the PKS out of the coalition and the cabinet if he was uncomfortable with the party's stance.
Jakarta The new lineup of experts and activists on the General Elections Commission (KPU) approved by the House of Representatives will ensure that the KPU performs better than its last batch of politically connected commissioners, several watchdog groups agree.
A representative from the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) was pleased that some of the soon-to-be-inaugurated KPU officials had experience on regional elections commissions (KPUD).
"It's quite good. Five are former KPUD members, one is an academic and another is a member of a poll watchdog," Perludem spokesman Veri Junaidi said.
The House approved on March 17 the appointments of incoming members of the KPU and the Elections Monitoring Body (Bawaslu) for the next five years.
After completing a lengthy selection process, lawmakers approved Juri Ardiantoro, Ida Budhiati, Arif Budiman, Hadar Nafis Gumay, Husni Kamil Manik, Sigit Pamungkas and Ferry Kurnia Rizkiyansyah to sit on the KPU.
Veri said that the new KPU commissioners were likely be free from political influence, unlike their predecessors. "As the new lineup indicates, we did not see during the House selection stage that they had relationships with political parties," he said.
The only drawback of the new commissioners, Veri said, was that only one member had a legal background. "That's my criticism. This was a big problem in 2009. There were too many legal complication in the last election and we need more legal experts," he said.
The outgoing KPU members have been criticized for their chaotic management of legislative elections in 2009 and for their ties to political parties. Former KPU member Andi Nurpati, for example, resigned as a commissioner in 2010 and joined the Democratic Party as its communications chief soon thereafter.
Andi was allegedly involved in falsifying a Constitutional Court (MK) letter during her tenure at the KPU in 2009 in favor of a legislative candidate from South Sulawesi.
Meanwhile, Abdullah Dahlan, a political corruption researcher from the Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW), said that although some of the new commissioners had ties to political parties, they would likely perform better simply because of their backgrounds in managing elections.
Abdullah, however, said that the lawmakers' decision to name the new commissioners was dictated by political expediency and not the needs of the KPU. "[The commissioners] are not entirely independent, but the good news is that [they] have backgrounds in managing elections."
Abdullah said the evolution of the nation's electoral system would also ease the burden on the new commissioners in the run-up to the 2014 polls. "We are no longer in a transition period, but in a stage of consolidation. This is what the new KPU members should finish," Abdullah said.
However, Abdullah disagreed with Veri's assessment of the importance of the new commissioners' experience at the regional level. "Ideally, the members should have a background in elections. But they should've considered other issues, such as their experience with the issues of law and logistics," he said.
Separately, an activist from the Center for Electoral Reform (CETRO), Khoirunnisa Agustyati, said that there were not enough women in the batch of new commissioners.
Khoirunnisa also said that the House had taken seriously several suggestions made by election watchdogs that had been monitoring the commissioner selection process. "We sent them recommendations about which candidates were good ones, and they were open to us," she said.
A member of the KPU selection committee, Siti Zuhro, said that women were underrepresented on the KPU. "The General Elections Law stipulates on 30 percent quota for woman. But we don't just want women, we want women with capability," Siti said, adding that there were only a handful of qualified women candidates for the commissioner positions.
The House approved seven new KPU members. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is slated to swear in the new members on April 9. (fzm)
Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta The foundations once underlying the political coalition supporting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration has been weakened by two coalition members the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the Golkar Party, which have frequently opposed the government's policies.
Many critics blame the condition on poor leadership on the part of the President, the coalition's key figure.
Political observers J. Kristiadi of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Iberamsjah of the University of Indonesia (UI) found the coalition is no longer effective in supporting Yudhoyono's administration. They predicted conditions would grow worse as the 2014 general election draws closer and political bickering continues to intensify.
The two analysts were commenting on the opposition of Golkar and PKS to Yudhoyono's proposal to raise subsidized fuel prices by April 1. During the House plenary meeting on Friday night, PKS openly opposed the plan, while Golkar accepted it with certain conditions.
"It is not the right decision to raise fuel prices right now. We have carried out a study [on this]," Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie was quoted as saying by Antara in Jayapura on Friday night.
Kristiadi said the stance of Golkar and PKS on the fuel plan is not their first opposition to government policy but Yudhoyono appeared powerless and took no action.
"Yudhoyono should expel the two parties from the coalition if they do not voluntarily quit the coalition. Or, he may take more drastic action by disbanding the coalition, if it is no longer effective," Kristiadi said.
Yudhoyono, who won 60 percent of the vote in 2009 in his reelection, should dissolve the coalition and replace all ministers from his coalition with professionals in order to make the best of his remaining two years in office, Kristiadi added.
Golkar and PKS had also shown hostility toward the coalition by joining the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), the Greater Indonesian Movement Party (Gerindra) and the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) to carry out a political investigation into the RP 6.7 trillion (US$730 million) Bank Century scandal in 2010.
Both Golkar and PKS also disagreed with the government on rice imports in 2011, the moratorium on remission for terrorist and corruption convicts, and certain strategic issues in the legislative election bill.
The four other coalition members are Yudhoyono's Democratic Party (PD), the National Mandate Party (PAN), the United Development Party (PPP) and the National Awakening Party (PKB). The PD faction continually asked the President to expel the PKS from the coalition for its rebellious stance.
Apart from having their own political agendas, Kristiadi said Golkar and PKS had dared to play the opposition card, confident in their suspicion that Yudhoyono was too weak to run the government and lead the coalition at the same time.
"Golkar and PKS have taken the opposition stance because apparently they gain nothing from the fuel price hikes and they don't want to lose face before the public, especially their supporters," he said. Iberamsyah said PKS had anticipated the consequences of its chosen political stance, including the risk of losing three ministerial posts.
Agus Maryono, Purbalingga Over 10,000 employees in Purbalingga, Central Java, mostly of companies operated by foreign employers producing artificial eyelashes, have not yet received their deserved salaries as dictated by regional authorities, an official says.
Purbalingga Manpower Agency head Ngudiarto said that the figure accounted for some 30 percent of the total number of employees in the regency.
"We have been trying so that they receive the wages they deserve," Ngudiarto told The Jakarta Post at his office over the weekend. He said his agency had sent letters reprimanding the employers, who reportedly were mostly Korean nationals.
"We told them to pay the salaries in accordance with the prevailing regulations," he said. He added that from some 35,000 workers in the Purbalingga regency, only 24,000 had been paid according to the required minimum wage.
While the minimum wage in the regency is set at Rp 818,500 (US$90) per month, companies have allegedly paid workers below Rp 500,000 a month.
Purbalingga's monthly wage appears moderate compared with other regencies/municipalities in the province. The Semarang municipality has set the minimum wage at Rp 991,500 per month. Semarang municipality has the lowest cap in Cilacap regency at Rp 720,000.
Ngudiarto said that the companies accused of paying their employees below minimum wage mostly argued that the "underpaid" workers were apprentices or freelancers.
"We don't believe it, of course. A recent survey found that many of those employees had worked for the companies for over a year and were still paid under the cap," Ngudiarto said.
Wati, 19, an employee of a wig producer in Purbalingga, said that she had received Rp 400,000 per month for her first three months. She was paid only Rp 500,000 afterwards. "Yes, it's still far below the cap," said Wati, who hails from Sokaraja of the neighboring Banyumas regency.
Yuni, 20, of Padamara, Purbalingga, said she was paid Rp 600,000, even though she had been working for her company for three years.
Saryono of PT Tiga Putra Perkasa management, which apparently belongs to a Korean employer, confirmed that many of the company's employees had not yet been paid according to the prevailing minimum wage because they were still in training.
"We require three-month training for anyone to be accepted as an employee deserving payment according to the regulation. During training they receive only 80 percent of the standard salary," Saryono told the Post. Purbalingga is home to some 20 foreign investment companies producing wigs and artificial eyelashes. The products are exported mostly to Europe and the US.
The investment has been hailed as helping create job opportunities in the regency, especially for women, who make up 90 percent of some 35,000 laborers working in the industry. Many only have junior high school educations.
Ngudiarto said that companies failing to meet the requirements to pay their employees according to prevailing regulations were subject to sanctions, as stipulated within Law No. 13/2003 on Manpower.
"We need a long process, however, before we can actually impose sanctions, starting with warnings and reprimands, if necessary," he said, adding that the law carried a penalty of a year imprisonment for employers found violating regulations.
Ngudiarto said that his agency was still in the stages of issuing reprimand letters.
"I told the Korean employers that doing business here required them to follow the regulations that prevail in Indonesia," he said, adding that one company in particular had been under scrutiny for allegedly violating payment regulations.
Tunggadewa Mattangkilang, Balikpapan Elephants are increasingly coming into conflict with humans in the East Kalimantan district of Nunukan as more of the forest is cleared away for palm oil plantations and timber estates, a wildlife activist said on Friday.
Wiwin Effendi, a coordinator for the East Kalimantan chapter of the World Wildlife Fund, said a 2007 survey estimated the elephant population in Nunukan at between 30 and 80, with most of the animals located in Tobun Onsoi subdistrict.
"Elephants are now venturing into human settlements about once every seven months, and this has been going on since 2006. Companies have to help people shoo the elephants away from their fields," Wiwin said.
But he warned that with more of their forest habitat disappearing, the elephants would come into more frequent contact with villages on the rim of the forest, increasing the risk for both humans and animals.
Wiwin said his organization was planning to release updated information on the elephant population in Nunukan in June.
Rahmat Suba, a biodiversity conservation lecturer at Mulawarman University in Samarinda, the provincial capital, said the government needed to limit the large-scale clearing of forests for plantations and mines.
"If the land near the elephants' habitat is cleared, it is only natural that the elephants will find their food sources depleted," he said. "And when that happens, herds of elephants will rampage through human settlements in search of food."
He said the elephants in Nunukan mostly lived near the Sibuda, Afgison and Apan rivers. He said that despite their smaller size, elephants in Kalimantan required about two hectares of forest to feed each day.
The Borneo elephant, also called the Borneo pygmy elephant, is much smaller than its cousins in the jungles of Sumatra.
It has been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation as the main threats to the species.
Michael Bachelard, Banda Aceh The man who signed the permit allowing 1600 hectares of carbon-rich peat forest and orang-utan habitat to be razed and turned into a palm oil plantation agrees his decision was "morally wrong".
However, Irwandi Yusuf, the former governor of Aceh who is seeking a second term in Monday's election, said he had done it as a wake-up call to the international community over its failing climate change policies.
Dr Irwandi, who himself once worked in a project to conserve elephants, signed a pledge soon after becoming governor in 2007 to protect all his province's primary forests, which lock away billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide.
He was also active in international climate negotiations arguing that Acehnese forests could be saved if international companies were prepared to pay to protect them so-called REDD+ schemes.
But in Banda Aceh this week, Dr Irwandi announced his disillusionment with the REDD+ schemes and threatened to allow more burning if nothing changed. "The international community think our forest is a free toilet for their carbon," he said.
"Every day they are saying they want clean air and to protect forests... but they want to inhale our clean air without paying anything. That concession, 1600 hectares, was like a pinch to the international community. Maybe I will make a threat to lift the moratorium [entirely] to make them look at Aceh."
Dr Irwandi said thousands had lost their jobs when he had declared the moratorium. "I wanted some funds to create a livelihood for people who lost their job. The money did not come," he said. "REDD or blue I don't care: where is the international attention on that?"
He said he "hated" the palm oil company, PT Kallista Alam, to which he granted the permit to create a plantation in the Tripa swamps south of the capital.
He had delayed their application in his office for 12 months but his bureaucrats told him he should issue it. "I feel very sorry for that. It was not wrong legally but wrong morally," he said.
Dr Irwandi also denied claims by conservationists that 100 or more critically endangered orang-utans died when the patch of forest was cleared, saying his inspectors viewed the forest and found "no single orang-utan was there".
But the director of conservation at the Sumatran Orang-utan Conservation program, Dr Ian Singleton, said he could "take Dr Irwandi into that Kallista Alam concession and find 10 orang-utan nests within 20 minutes". There were at least 100 and anywhere up to 300 of the apes living in the concession that was destroyed, he said.
Graham Usher, a landscape protection specialist based in Sumatra, said he sympathised with frustration at the performance of REDD schemes but "it does seem a bit like setting your own house on fire to draw attention to the shortcomings of the fire department".
Kupang Environment activists and members of the Ngada-Flores community in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, staged a rally on Tuesday against iron ore exploration activities conducted by PT Laki Tangguh. They feared that the activity would pollute water in the area.
Protest coordinator Isodorus Lilijawa said that the mine was located in Mt. Mbopok Riuang, part of which was inside a protected forest of 28,000 hectares. "We are afraid that the exploration activities will damage the ecosystem," Isodorus said on Tuesday.
The protesters urged the Ngada regency administration to revoke the mining business license issued by Regent Marianus Se in 2010.
They also urged the administration to give more attention to the agriculture, husbandry and fishery sectors that support the livelihood of local residents.
Jakarta The Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) threw out a lawsuit on Tuesday filed by a coalition of environmental NGOs that was challenging the decision of the Environment Ministry to allow PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara (PT NNT) to dump more than 140,000 tons per day of its tailing on a pristine beach.
The coalition, led by the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), filed a suit against the minister's authority to issue such a permit by bypassing the power of the local governments.
Walhi said that Senunu Bay had become the world's largest mining-tailings dump site, with more than 140,000 tons of waste being buried in the bay every day.
Presiding judge Bambang Hariyanto said in his verdict that Walhi failed to submit enough evidence and that another plaintiff in the suit, the Community Movement for Nature Lovers (Gema Alam) had no legal standing to file the suit.
Walhi executive director Berry Nahdian Forqan said after the trial that the coalition would appeal the verdict. "Yes, we will appeal to the High Court. We will first talk to our lawyers. This is not the final result," Berry said.
Berry added that judges had failed to take into consideration a number of regulations that should have barred the ministry from issuing the permit on toxic waste.
Among those was Law No. 32/2009 on the protection and management of the environment. The law stipulates that the authority to issue an operational permit is in the hands of the minister, governor or regent, depending on a company's scale of operation.
In the hearing, the panel of judges only took Government Regulation No. 19/1999 into consideration, which carries a provision on a minister's authority to grant a permit.
"The law of course ranks higher than the government regulation," Berry told The Jakarta Post. Walhi and other environmental groups have filed a lawsuit demanding the overturning of the permit.
PT NNT, a subsidiary of the US-based Newmont Corporation, has been dumping mining tailings into the bay since 1999, in accordance with a license issued by the Environment Ministry. Activists have long warned the government not to extend the permit allowing Newmont to dump such materials, saying it endangered marine life.
But the Environment Ministry renewed the permit on May 5 last year, arguing that PT NNT controlled the composition of its tailings far better than the government required it to.
The Environment Ministry lauded the verdict, saying that it had made the right decision to grant the permit.
The ministry also said that the suit indicated that the public had exercised its rights in monitoring the government. "We call on every element in the community to file complaints if they find any enterprises that could harm the environment," the ministry said in a statement.
Meanwhile, PT NNT welcomed the court's ruling and said that the coalition's arguments were not backed by legal or scientific proof.
"The evidence clearly demonstrated that the environment minister followed all procedures in renewing Newmont's tailings permit," PT NNT president director Martiono Hadianto said in a statement made available to the Post on Tuesday.
PT NNT spokesman Rubi Pur-nomo said that the company did not consider the dumping site as "tailings-disposal" because the mining giant closely monitored the location. (fzm)
Nurdin Hasan, Banda Aceh The unbridled destruction of Sumatra's forests over the past 20 years is the main reason for the 44 percent decline in the Sumatran elephant population during that period, wildlife activists said on Monday.
Donny Gunaryadi, the elephant program coordinator at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Indonesia program, said the wild elephant population on the island had dropped from around 5,000 in 1992 to just 2,800 today.
"The high rate of habitat destruction, land use changes and increased threats from poaching and conflicts with humans are all factors in the decline of the population of this protected species," he said. Sunarto, the species conservation program coordinator at WWF Indonesia, said it was crucial to conserve the region's remaining forests in order to ensure the survival of wildlife such as the Sumatran elephant and tiger.
"The opening up of forested areas that are of prime importance to tigers and elephants must be halted immediately," he said. "It is also high time that land use policies for forested areas began incorporating ecological considerations to prevent human-animal conflicts."
The activists were speaking at a workshop in Banda Aceh organized by the Indonesian Elephant Conservation Forum (FKGI), in cooperation with the WCS, WWF and Fauna-Flora International.
Participants at the event all agreed on the importance of stemming habitat loss from illegal logging and clear-cutting of forests, which also threatens other species indigenous to Sumatra.
Satellite imagery of the change in forest cover in Sumatra's lowland areas shows that 8 million hectares were wiped out between 1990 and 2000, Sunarto said.
That, he continued, coupled with the fact that much of the natural habitat of elephants and tigers fell outside of protected areas, meant the risks to the already critically endangered species was only increasing. "That's why I believe that the protection of the elephant and tiger's habitat is the most important factor in saving the species," he stressed.
"There also needs to be more stringent enforcement against the illegal clearing of forests, poaching and selling of wildlife." In order for any elephant conservation program to prove effective, Sunarto said there needed to be an action plan and strategy supported by all stakeholders, particularly the government.
Also crucial was a push for a "win-win solution" that would boost conservation without impinging on the economic development of forest communities.
Donny said there was an urgent need to get the message across to the Forestry Ministry.
"Our hope is that conservation efforts for the Sumatran elephant will be better coordinated and managed after this workshop," he said.
Anita Rachman A tobacco control bill was first named to the House of Representatives' list of priority legislation for deliberation and passage in 2009 and there it smoldered until last October, when it was abruptly dropped from the list.
Rohani Budi Prihatin, a House staffer who helped draft the "bill to control the health impact of tobacco products," fears legislators are unwilling to revive it over concerns its passage could hurt industry players.
"The draft is ready, we finished it a long time ago," he said. "But as you can see, no House members want to discuss this. All of them remain tight- lipped."
Ignatius Mulyono, chairman of the House Legislative Body, said the legislation needed to undergo major revision.
"When will it be back on the list? When they review the substance and title of the bill, because it's very biased toward the anti-tobacco lobby," he said. "None of the parties supported the bill, so we had no option but to drop it."
In its current form, Ignatius said, the bill threatens the livelihood of tobacco farmers and tobacco industry workers.
It calls for all public service spaces, such as schools and hospitals, to be smoke-free zones. It also requires that all cigarette packs carry graphic health warnings, and that the government gradually raise the tobacco excise tax.
It also calls for a total ban on tobacco advertising and the establishment of clinics designed to cater to smokers wishing to kick the habit.
Rohani, like many tobacco control activists, argues that these steps will not hurt tobacco farmers or workers and are intended only to protect the public from the dangers of smoking.
He noted that many other countries had managed to adopt similar legislation without hurting their own farmers and workers. However, Ignatius was adamant that the risk to farmers and workers was not negligible.
"All the parties have looked at the bill together and they believe it will threaten farmers," he said. "If other countries have applied such regulations, that doesn't mean we should too."
He said he fully supported protecting the public from the dangers of smoking through advertising bans and designating smoke-free areas, but said those policies should be developed with due consideration for the welfare of farmers and workers.
Ignatius said the House would eventually get back to the bill on the condition that it loses its bias. "Let's draft a bill that can protect public health, and at the same time protect those who rely on tobacco," he said.
Michael Victor Sianipar Indonesia may be progressing slowly and steadily toward fulfilling its targets under the Millennium Development Goals, but the issue of maternal health continues to present many challenges.
Government statistics show that the maternal mortality rate declined from 308 per 100,000 live births in 2007 to 228 per 100,000 in 2010. Under the MDGs, the country must bring that figure down to 102 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015.
But a report last week by health officials in Bali has highlighted a worrying reversal, with the provincial maternal mortality rate increasing from 58 per 100,000 in 2010 to 84 last year.
Nyoman Sutedja, the head of the Bali Health Office, attributed the increase to the lack of quality health care available at community health centers (Puskesmas).
Slamet Riyadi Yuwono, the Health Ministry's director general for nutrition and child and maternal health, acknowledged that maternal mortality rates might be on the rise in some regions but cautioned against reading too much into the figures.
He said the rise could be attributed to the government's 2010 policy to provide free maternal and child delivery services.
"Many people used to give birth at home because they were afraid and uninformed," Slamet said.
"Today, more are willing to use the service provided by the government for free. The mortality rate has increased because what used to be unaccounted deaths at home are now recorded in our health centers as more mothers rely on these services.
"Indeed, the absolute number as recorded has increased, but the real rate has gone down."
Slamet said health workers failed to provide timely assistance to mothers for several reasons: reluctance by some women to report their pregnancies early, lack of transportation forcing women to give birth at home without proper medical equipment or drugs, and limited medical facilities and personnel.
The principles of regional autonomy also pose a challenge to the Ministry's ability to oversee local health services, he said.
"The ministry can only provide technical support and devise standard operating procedures for local medical practitioners, but administrative powers lie with the local government," he said. "We have no power to punish or sack individual midwives and doctors.
"However, the government has instructed governors to advise district heads on health issues."
Transportation is a key element in tackling maternal mortality, said Zaenal Abidin, the secretary general of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI).
"Indonesia is an archipelagic state. It is important to have medical boats that can act like an ambulance to deliver pregnant mothers to another island that has the necessary medical facilities," he said. "The boats should be equipped with complete facilities, including antibiotics, IVs and oxygen concentrators."
He said local customs also had the potential to do harm. In East Nusa Tenggara, for instance, newborn babies and mothers are traditionally required to stay in a closed room with a wood fire burning for up to six weeks.
Zaenal stressed that health workers must educate local communities about the dangers of some rituals and traditions that put the health of both the mother and the baby at risk.
"Doctors sent to the provinces receive pre-departure training that teaches them about the local traditions that they will be working with," he said. "They should also prepare themselves by reading or asking their seniors who've been there for advice."
He also noted the need to be aware of local sensitivities. "There are good and bad cultural practices," he said. "We wish to keep the former and change the latter. But we cannot confront the public outright, as that will only lead to resistance."
Michael Victor Sianipar As millions of students across Indonesia prepare to knuckle down for the national exams that begin later this month, the Education and Culture Ministry is under pressure to deliver an experience free of the culture of cheating that mars the annual event.
Ibnu Hamda, a ministry's spokesman, said on Monday that the government's preparations for the exams were on schedule. "We have just passed the printing stage and are now at the distribution stage," he said.
In light of concerns about the leaking of test sheets, which was widespread last year, Ibnu said the government had taken precautions to prevent a repeat. The government, he said, has selected only reliable companies to print the question sheets.
"We don't just give printing rights to unreliable companies," Ibnu said. "There are four printing companies that fulfill our 'secure printing' criteria. Three are in Java and one in Pekanbaru [in Riau]. We have thought of all possibilities, from the printing to the final distribution."
Once they leave the printer, the sheets will get another security element: three layers of wrapping to ensure they are not tampered with.
There are also five different sets of question sheets for each subject in the exams, and each student will be assigned a code to ensure they answer only one of those sets. After the test, all materials will be resealed and sent to selected universities for grading.
Ibnu said he was confident that the government's precautions will be successful. "Exam instructors should be able to identify irregularities and respond according to standard operating procedures," he said.
However, critics contend that the government's preoccupation with the security of the exams, from the printing to the grading stage is misplaced.
Retno Listyarini, secretary general of the Federation of Indonesian Teachers Unions, said the main challenge should be in making the exams relevant to the nation's state of education.
She also criticized the government's policy of giving the exams so much weight in determining if a student is eligible to graduate. A student's test score counts for 60 percent of the national exam score, while 40 percent is an average of their past school exam scores. In addition, a student must score an average 5.5 out of 10 in the national exams in order to graduate.
"I strongly object to making the exams the standard for graduation," Retno said. "Stopping leaks is the only result of the government's policy.
"The schools should be given the autonomy to determine graduation. In fact, fraud already takes place even before the exams commence, because that 40 percent [past exam scores] is being inflated by schools because of the atmosphere of fear."
She also said the fear of failing was forcing more and more students to take after-school cram courses and multiple mock exams, which although often effective, have negative repercussions for the students.
"Students get used to encountering similar types of questions and become more apt at solving them. But after repeated drills, they're becoming increasingly restless, because they are forced to complete multiple mock exams within a month," she said.
However, Ibnu defended the ministry's graduation policy, saying the standardized exams serve to help identify underperforming schools and can ultimately identify changes that could be introduced into the national school curriculum.
He acknowledged that some schools do try to manipulate the school exam component of students' scores, but added that the consequences are dire, including a prohibition on all graduating students from such schools enrolling in state universities.
"If a suspicious grading trend is observed, we can cross-check the school's records as reported to the ministry and the result of the national exams from that school. We will identify the fraudulent schools and take action," Ibnu said.
Katrin Figge In early March, the case of Daniel Zamudio, a 24-year-old gay man from Chile who was attacked and tortured, led to a public outcry not only in Chile but around the world. Zamudio died of his injuries three weeks after the attack.
This incident was a painful reminder that prejudice and hatred against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) is still widespread in many parts of the world, and Indonesia is no exception.
Indonesia's LGBT community has gained visibility in the past decade, mostly due to the country's transition to democracy, but it has also experienced more public disapproval as many LGBT people have stopped hiding and are now fighting for equality. Though they have made progress, they are still seen by many as "threatening," "abnormal" or "sinful."
To prevent this kind of prejudice and discrimination, the Yogyakarta-based Youth Interfaith Forum on Sexuality (YIFoS), a group of young men and women with different sexual orientations and religious backgrounds, has organized a youth camp in Yogyakarta to foster discussion about these issues.
At the "Young Queer Faith and Sexuality Camp," which will run from Tuesday until Saturday, participants will share their experiences and analyze their problems while searching for common ground and nonviolent ways to challenge discrimination.
Yulia Dwi Andriyanti, a member of YIFoS and a camp coordinator, said the group decided to plan an event after realizing that spending a few hours discussing sexuality in school was not enough to combat discrimination.
"These topics are not only related to how we think about faith and sexuality differently, but also about how we react and respond in daily life as people who have multiple identities in society," Yulia said. "YIFoS needed to facilitate a space where those identities could interact with one another."
Yulia was inspired to organize a camp after participating in the Global Changemakers Asia Youth Summit last July in New Delhi.
"Sixty young people from Asia young activists, social entrepreneurs, artists, filmmakers, performers came together for one week to become changemakers in their societies," she said. "The summit also provided the opportunity for all participants to actually implement their action plans."
Yulia's idea to foster discussion among different youth faith groups and LGBT people triggered a wave of positive responses and attracted financial support, including from the British Council, which had organized the New Delhi youth summit, the Asian Women's Resource Center, the Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation, Yogyakarta-based businesses and private donors.
"During the five-day camp, participants will learn to understand themselves and others as individuals who have multiple identities in society, particularly when it comes to faith and sexuality," Yulia said, adding that she wants show young people how to celebrate their differences.
After getting to know each other, talking and reflecting, participants will share their own plans to encourage tolerance through media, journalism, youth advocacy, social entrepreneurship, creative writing or art.
"This will be the starting point for all participants to celebrate diverse identities by initiating their own peace plans within their own societies and by being ready to inspire many other young people after the camp," Yulia said.
YIFos member Khoirul Anam, who helped organize the camp, said about 50 participants were chosen, each representing issues involving faith and sexuality that they would like to address.
"The idea of combining discussions of interfaith understanding and sexuality in a camp environment is relatively new in Indonesia, so many young people wanted to join," he said. "We kept receiving application forms after the submission deadline. We believe our camp attracted so many people because it will talk about something important and also sensitive."
After generating so much interest, it was tough to narrow down the candidates. "Considering the enthusiasm of so many young people all over Indonesia [for this project], we had a hard time selecting our participants," he said. Ultimately, he added, the selection committee chose young people with a passion for meeting new people and learning new things.
Yulia said the camp was an important opportunity to educate the younger generation at a time when many LGBT teenagers in Indonesia continue to face prejudice from family and friends.
"Some of them are bullied because of the way they dress, for example," she said. "In relation to their sexual orientation and gender identity, it is also challenging for them when it comes to faith and religion."
Yulia said she looked forward to joining the discussions at the camp. "I will meet many young people who will share their experiences in issues of faith and sexuality that may perhaps be similar to mine," she said.
If the camp is successful, YIFoS will try to organize it on a regular basis. "I hope we can do it annually to keep spreading the celebration of humanity and peace, particularly among young people, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or faith," Yulia said.
Jakarta The Constitutional Court's recent decision to grant paternal recognition to children born out of wedlock, is problematic for mothers of children conceived through rape, legal activists say.
Most victims of rape want to sever all ties with the perpetrators, and many also seek abortions, they claim.
Erna Ratnaningsih, former head of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) and Ratna Batara Munti, director of the Jakarta chapter of the Legal Aid Office of the Association of Indonesian Women for Justice (LBH APIK), were responding separately to a statement by the court's spokesman that the ruling applied to all children born out of wedlock, including those conceived as a result of rape.
Court spokesman Akil Mochtar had confirmed that the Court's Feb. 17 ruling means that all men, including rapists, must recognize their offspring if they can be conclusively proven to be the biological fathers.
"Basically, the [ruling] guarantees every child in our country their constitutional rights," Akil told The Jakarta Post last week. He was one of the justices on the panel which granted the request for a judicial review filed by former dangdut singer Machica, aka Aisyah Mochtar.
The court noted that Machica was married in an Islamic ceremony (nikah siri) to former state secretary Moerdiono, but which was unregistered with the state.
The ruling annulled Article 43 in the 1974 Marriage Law, which had stated that children born out of wedlock only had civil ties with their mothers and the mother's immediate family. The court ruled that this contravened the Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law.
The explanatory section of the ruling refers only to marriages based on "religion and beliefs" which were unregistered with the state, such as the nikah siri; it does not refer to children born to a cohabiting couple or children born as a result of rape.
The announcement of the initial ruling led to outrage, with critics saying the court condoned adultery. The court has denied this, saying that the ruling should only be interpreted regarding the rights of children born out of wedlock.
The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) has estimated that 50 percent of Indonesian children do not have birth certificates, partially attributed to children of unregistered marriages.
Erna said applying the ruling to children of rape victims would be strange, as most victims wanted nothing to do with such children's biological fathers.
Erna, who is running for commissioner of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), urged the Supreme Court to issue a clarification of the ruling.
In 2011, the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) received 19 complaints concerning children born out of wedlock, involving 14 cases of rape, four cases of women trapped into marriage to men who were still wed to another woman and only one case of unregistered marriage.
The Commission stated that in all the reported cases, not one of the fathers had fulfilled their legal and financial obligations to the children.
Meanwhile, Ratna said that Akil's statement was controversial. She said most rape victims reporting to her foundation were so distressed they sought abortions.
"The revision of the Health Law and a fatwa from the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) allows these women to have abortions because the 'relationships' were not consensual. I think it highly unlikely then that rape victims would want to acknowledge the rapists as their babies' fathers. That only happens in novels or TV series," she said.
In 2009, the House of Representatives revised the 1992 Health Law that had prohibited abortion to permit it only in cases of rape or medical emergency. (asa)
Rizky Amelia, Medan As soon as they hear the clank of the metal fence opening, dozens of occupants of the Belawan immigration detention center rise from their seats.
They study the new arrivals, a group of journalists from Jakarta accompanied by the head of the detention center, Muhartono.
Minutes into their visit, the journalists find themselves surrounded by the men, women and children incarcerated at the center, asylum seekers from countries ranging from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, to Burma, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
With each passing week their numbers balloon, Muhartono says, further cramping the already crowded 30-room facility, which was meant to hold no more than 120 people.
"There are already 141 people in here. Later this afternoon 17 more [asylum seekers] will come from Lampung," he said. The rooms only measure two by 2.5 meters, with some occupied by as many as six people.
Muhartono said he was not worried by the many people coming in, but was anxious about the small number of people going out. The center, north of Medan, houses people picked up in Sumatra for illegally entering the country. "You can imagine just how cramped everything is," he said.
Some of the detainees have been at the center for two years, but there is little Muhartono can do except wait for them to be assessed by the International Organization for Migration. Then there is the longer wait for the asylum seekers to be accepted by the final host countries.
Indonesia is usually the final stop for asylum seekers bound for Australia. Once here, they hook up with people smugglers who take them on the treacherous journey across the Indian Ocean to the small islets off the coast of northern Australia, usually by rickety wooden boats.
In its report "Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries," the United Nations said that 11,510 asylum seekers arrived in Australian territory last year. That is a 9 percent drop from 2010.
The Medan detention center's chief of security, Yusuf Umar Dani, said only about 1 percent of the asylum seekers at the center ever got to leave.
"Suppose there are 300 people [detained in Indonesia]," he said. "Only three will get to Australia. There are real asylum seekers and those posing as them. For example, if there is a conflict in one part of a country, people come here from other parts of the same country where there is no conflict. They claim to be asylum seekers. That is just wrong."
Those not granted asylum-seeker status by the IOM, Yusuf said, will be sent back to their countries. But he said that even that process was slow.
Yusuf said that many of the asylum seekers lived better in the detention center than in their own countries. They eat twice a day and receive clothes and other items donated by nongovernmental organizations.
Muhartono said the detainees also got to play sports and learn English and Indonesian. They are even allowed to travel out of the center. But even with the freedom and facilities they enjoy, some have tried to escape, with the hopes of getting to the country they were originally aiming for.
A telephone has been provided for the detainees to contact their families back home. But some are said to use the phone to try to contact people who might be able to smuggle them to Australia.
Some of the detainees have been cheated and abandoned by smuggling syndicates and almost all of them have heard similar stories, but that doesn't stop them from trying.
Ismatollah Hozaini, a detainee who has been at the center for eight months since fleeing Afghanistan, said he had paid about $12,000 to get to Australia. The syndicate got him as far as Indonesia but that's where it left him, taking his money.
"I fled because it is no longer safe [in Afghanistan]," he said, adding that he would rather stay at the center than return home. "What else can I do?" he asked.
Elly Burhaini Faizal, Jakarta The government must be prepared to handle a rapidly growing number of elderly citizens as they will otherwise place a tremendous burden on the state, which is also facing a high birth rate.
"As the number of elderly people is estimated to double by 2050, we will bear a heavy impact from the growing number of degenerative diseases that are chronic and multi-pathology. These will require high medical costs," said Eka Fiora, head of the Health Ministry's intelligence center, at a media briefing on Saturday's World Health Day focusing on aging and health.
In 2050, the proportion of the world's population over the age of 60 in 2050 is expected to double to 22 percent. Between 2006 and 2050, the elderly population is expected to rise from 650 million to 2 billion.
For the first time in history, the elderly will outnumber children aged under 14 by 2050, potentially resulting in health and social problems.
Samlee Plianbangchang, the World Health Organization's Southeast Asia region office (WHO SEARO) director, said there was an urgent need to focus on issues such as the economic impact from the increased burden on health care systems and ways to ensure the elderly's quality of life.
"Both the family and the state should provide care to older people who are in need of assistance," he said in a statement.
In Indonesia, approximately 28.8 million people, or 11.34 percent of the population in 2020, will be aged over 60, up from 24 million (9.7%) in 2010 and 11.3 million (7.4%) in 2000.
Despite regulations, Eka said many elderly people still faced difficulties in accessing appropriate public services. "Few health care systems, buildings and public transportation services provide access for the elderly." She also said many live without any social welfare programs to help them age comfortably. "With no social protection, the elderly's conditions can become worse," she said.
National Commission for the Elderly (Komnas Lansia) chief, Nugroho Abikusno, said developing countries were facing a rapid growth of the elderly population accompanied with parallel growth in poverty.
"Facing an elderly boom in 2050, we have to invest more in elderly-friendly infrastructure," he said.
He said that some regencies and municipalities, including Rokan Hulu, Riau, and Semarang, Central Java, have already developed elderly-friendly infrastructure like community health centers for older citizens. Elderly- friendly housing has also appeared in some cities.
Ezra Sihite & Kunradus Aliandu The Supreme Audit Agency said on Tuesday that between 2003 and 2011 it had submitted reports on 318 suspected graft cases involving a total of Rp 33.87 trillion ($3.73 billion).
The audit body, known as the BPK, said the reports were given to the police, the Attorney General's Office and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
"The three institutions have followed up many of our reports," BPK chairman Hadi Purnomo said after meeting with members of the House of Representatives.
Of the cases, 186 were delivered to all three agencies, Hadi said. There have been convictions in 64 of those cases, while two others are still in the trial process. Eleven more are waiting to be brought to court.
The rest are either in the pre-investigation or investigation phase, he said. "We have 132 reports that have not been followed up," Hadi said.
In the last six months of 2011, he said, the BPK oversaw the return of some Rp 15 billion to the state, after auditing 897 government institutions at the regional and central levels. Now, Hadi said, the BPK is overseeing the effort to recover another Rp 746 billion in stolen assets.
One of the more prominent audits his agency is working on, Hadi said, concerns last year's fuel subsidy. He said the BPK was about halfway finished with it. "It's almost done," he said, adding that he could not make public details of the audit until it was finished.
Last year's state budget limited the amount of subsidized fuel to 40.49 million kiloliters for 2011. But in reality, the government allocated 41.7 million kiloliters, Hadi said.
Indonesia Corruption Watch, an antigraft watchdog, has asked the BPK to check the government's fuel subsidy calculations in the budget bill after finding alleged markups in the numbers.
The budget assumed an international crude oil price of $105 per barrel, a 40.49 million kiloliter quota for subsidized fuel and a 3.61 million ton quota for liquefied petroleum gas consumption.
Based on that, the government put the cost of the subsidy at Rp 178 trillion, provided there was no increase in fuel prices. If fuel prices were increased by Rp 1,500 per liter, the subsidy would only cost 133.2 trillion, the government said.
ICW's calculations, though, put the cost of the subsidy, with no increase in fuel prices, at Rp 148.1 trillion. And if the government raised fule prices by 33 percent, the subsidy would only reach Rp 68.1 trillion, it said.
Based on its figures, the ICW said, the budget included markups of Rp 30 trillion and Rp65 trillion for the two scenarios. "Why do we have different results? The government should be transparent in its calculations. That's why we are asking both the KPK and BPK to check them," said Firdaus Ilyas, ICW's coordinator for budget monitoring.
Hadi said his office had yet to see the ICW's report but promised to look at any report concerning the fuel subsidy.
BPK audits also found financial inefficiencies in state health and education programs, which it said resulted in unnecessarily poor service. "We have found that medication services at state hospitals, especially for the poor, have not met standards," Hadi said. "We hope that the government can fix this."
The BPK said that despite the huge budget that had been allocated to the sector, many education agencies lacked a sufficient database for their students, teachers and schools.
It also found that teachers and civil servants in the sector were not as skilled as they should be because of poor training. Furthermore, schools generally lacked the facilities they needed to deliver quality education.
Rangga Prakoso & SP/Robertus Wardi Agusrin Najamuddin, a graft convict and the suspended governor of Bengkulu province, is turning to religion as prosecutors dither on whether to make him start serving his sentence.
Marten Pangrekun, Agusrin's lawyer, said on Tuesday that Agusrin was holed up in an Islamic boarding school "somewhere in West Java". "He's studying religion," Marten said. "He finds he can pray more in peace there than in Jakarta, where there are all kinds of distractions."
Marten also called on the Bengkulu Prosecutors' Office to give Agusrin a stay of detention until the Supreme Court makes a decision in its case review.
"They won't lose anything" by letting him remain free until then, Marten said. "If the review is rejected, then he'll still serve the four years. There won't be any discounts just because they don't drag him to jail now.
Agusrin, from the Democratic Party, was initially acquitted by the Central Jakarta District Court in May last year of embezzling Rp 20.1 billion ($2.21 million) in land and building tax revenue that should have gone into the Bengkulu coffers.
This January, however, the Supreme Court overturned the decision, sentencing Agusrin to four years in prison and fining him Rp 200 million.
On Tuesday, prosecutors in Bengkulu acknowledged they had yet to act on the Supreme Court ruling to jail Agusrin, while the Attorney General's Office last week said that while it had received an official copy of the ruling, it had yet to take any action against the convicted criminal.
Agusrin still enjoys official standing as the Bengkulu governor, albeit suspended. Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi said on Tuesday that he would soon file a request with the president to officially fire the felon from the post.
He added that he would order the dismissal of four mayors and district heads who were also convicted of corruption but have never been officially sacked.
They include Eep Hidayat, the suspended head of Subang district in West Java, who was sentenced to five years in prison, and Mochtar Muhammad, the Bekasi mayor, who was sentenced to six years. Both were imprisoned last month.
Others are Satono, the East Lampung district head, who was given a 15-year sentence, and Basyrah Lubis, the head of Padang Lawas district in North Sumatra, who was given six months. Both remain free.
Robertus Wardi The central government will dismiss five public officials -- including a governor and four district heads who were convicted in separate graft cases between late 2011 and now.
The five politicians who were already suspended all lost appeals hearings at the Supreme Court, said Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi.
"Discharging the district heads is of my authority, as for the governor I will propose his dismissal to the President," Gamawan said in Jakarta on Tuesday. "I expect the dismissal letters to be issued this week."
Among the officials are Bengkulu Governor Agusrin Najamuddin, who was sentenced to four years in jail in November; West Java's Subang head Eep Hidayat, who was sentenced to five years in February; East Lampung head Timur Satono, who faces 15 years; North Sumatra's Padang Lawas head Basyrah Lubih, who faces six months in prison, and Bekasi Mayor Mochtar Muhammad, who was sentenced to six years in jail on March 7.
Rangga Prakoso Malaysia has pledged to repatriate Indonesian graft suspects in its territory after attorney generals from both nations signed a deal on legal cooperation.
Malaysian Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said that his country would never protect Indonesia's corruptors hiding in its midst. "We'll never protect them," he told reporters after the signing.
Patail said that if Indonesia requested help, the Malaysian authorities would locate the graft suspects and hand them over.
There has been speculation fugitive graft suspect Neneng Sri Wahyuni, the wife of corruption defendant Muhammad Nazaruddin, is in Malaysia. Comr. Gen. Sutarman, the National Police chief of detectives, said authorities suspect she is staying in a country "like Indonesia."
Neneng stayed with Nazaruddin in Colombia but is believed to have left the country a day before he was arrested. There has been speculation she went to Kuala Lumpur, where the couple's children have been living with a relative.
Malaysian and Indonesian authorities, however, have never publicly responded on the speculation although the Indonesian media continues to report it.
Attorney General Basrief Arief said the memorandum of understanding specified cooperation in tackling migrant worker problems, illegal fishing, illegal logging, illicit drug dealing and terrorism. "After signing this MoU, we will discuss the implementation of the cooperation in the near future," Basrief said.
Patail said that under the MoU, Malaysia will inform Indonesia if there are problems with its migrant workers, including giving information whenever they face capital punishment, as well as providing them with legal assistance.
Djoko Suyanto, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, and Amir Syamsuddin, the justice and human rights minister, attended the signing ceremony.
Basrief said that Malaysia and Indonesia shared similar problems in tackling transnational crimes. "This MoU enables us to pool our resources to combat crimes we face together, including terrorism, drugs trafficking and illegal fishing," he said.
Indonesia and Malaysia are intensifying talks following growing suspicion between the people of the two nations.
Besides agreement between the two attorneys general, both countries signed a deal in Bali early this year committing the often testy neighbors to help prevent disputes related to their maritime borders and illegal fishing.
The latest border dispute between the two countries arose from claims by Indonesian legislators in October that Malaysia was to take over 1,400 hectares of Indonesia's terrestrial and maritime territory in Camar Bulan and Tanjung Datu in West Kalimantan, because border markers in the area had been destroyed by erosion.
The government, military and national mapping agency subsequently played down the claims, pointing out that there was no evidence whatsoever to back them. Cases of fishing boats from one country getting stopped by maritime patrols from the other because of encroachment have also raised tensions in the past.
Farouk Arnaz Questions are being raised about the recent actions of Densus 88 in Aceh, with one prominent group suggesting the National Police's counterterrorism unit is operating outside of its remit.
Densus 88 officers have been involved in the arrests of former Free Aceh Movement (GAM) officers accused in a string of attacks since the start of the year. But the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has said the charges against the former GAM members don't add up.
"We are skeptical that the former combatants were involved in [spreading] terror at the end of last year and the beginning of this year in Aceh," Kontras coordinator Haris Azhar said on Wednesday.
"We suspect other groups of these charges, not [GAM]. Police have also not offered information about the case in which these people were allegedly involved."
Haris said the former GAM members did not fit the profile of terrorists. "We don't see a match from the profiles of the people arrested in Aceh. If they were combatants, they would operate in surrounding areas and not in distant locations," he said.
The counterterrorism unit arrested 31-year-old Jamaluddin and several other men on March 10 in a North Aceh subdistrict. Densus 88 officers killed Maimun, 45, in a raid in Banda Aceh on March 24 and arrested M. Ziadi, 29, on March 25.
Aceh has seen a string of shootings ahead of provincial elections scheduled for Monday, which will see voters choose a governor, 13 district heads and four mayors. A score of people have been killed and eight others injured. All of those killed originally came from outside Aceh.
Four people were killed when armed men shot at a group of workers from Setya Agung, a rubber plantation, in North Aceh on Dec. 4.
On the eve of the new year, an armed man fired on a group of Telkomsel workers as they took a break, killing three people in Bireuen. On the same day, an unidentified man shot and killed an employee at a toy store in Ulee Kareng, Banda Aceh.
On Jan. 1, five armed men opened fire on a coffee shop in North Aceh, killing one person. Two armed men shot three construction workers in Aceh Besar on Jan. 5, killing one.
Densus 88 cooperated with the Aceh Police to arrest two men in a raid at a house believed to be their hiding place in Babah Ie village, Aceh Jaya, last week.
The men were arrested for allegedly spreading terror and violence ahead of the elections. Police seized two AK-56 rifles, 138 bullets and four magazines from the two men, identified only as J., 32, and M., 33.
Aceh Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Gustav Leo said the two men were linked to the six suspects arrested in Aceh Besar and North Aceh districts on March 10. At the time of the arrests, officers seized five pipe bombs from three of the suspects.
Jakarta Religious services for Easter went peacefully on Friday as many Indonesian Christians celebrated Good Friday at churches and houses of worship across the country.
Churchgoers in Polewali Mandar, West Sulawesi, attended mass early in the morning to celebrate the coming of Easter, kompas.com reported Friday. Those attending mass sang hymns along with family members and friends.
At one church, Rev. Makmur delivered a sermon urging every person in attendance to be at the frontlines in the fight against evil on Earth.
Unlike many other places, Polewali Mandar regency did not see a heavy police presence. In Jakarta, for instance, a total of 4,313 police were deployed to secure 1,262 churches in the capital city, while West Java has deployed more than 8,000 officers across the province until Sunday.
Still, churchgoers were able to feel safe commemorating Good Friday, even without heavy protection. People there said the reason they felt safe was because Polewali Mandar has long been known for its inter-religious solidarity and tolerance, which acted like a fortress in protecting religious freedom.
"We are proud and glad that we can commemorate Good Friday peacefully and happily together with our families," one churchgoer, Maria, told kompas.com.
Thousands of people attended services at Jakarta Cathedral in Central Jakarta. Services were performed three times: at 12 p.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. with at least 16,000 churchgoers joining the services.
"Sixteen thousand people attended services today [Friday]. The worship went well and we hope it will continue to be that way until the peak on Sunday," said the cathedral's spokeswoman, Graece Tanus.
In 2000, several churches in the country were bombed during Christmas Eve celebrations, including Jakarta Cathedral. Umar Patek, allegedly the mastermind behind a series of bomb attacks around the country, is currently being tried at the West Jakarta District Court.
Several worshippers admitted that they had begun to feel more comfortable about going to church nowadays.
"Honestly, I am still a little bit afraid to go to church. Especially since Jakarta Cathedral was one of those churches targeted on Christmas Eve, 2000," 25-year-old Maria Natalia Laurens told The Jakarta Post.
In Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, a number of Catholic churches reenacted the suffering of Jesus through the Stations of the Cross. Youngsters played out the scenes of Christ's suffering. The reenactments left some women and children in the audience in tears, kompas.com reported.
A reenactment was also held at Denpasar Cathedral, Antara news agency reported. At the Indonesian Bethel Church in Denpasar, about 5,000 congregation members watched Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ, which portrayed Christ's suffering. They also watched Sunday school students singing and dancing, the news agency reported.
In the Christian tradition, Jesus was captured in the Garden of Olives, after which he was taken to the Roman leader Pontius Pilate. He was tortured and made to carry a cross upon which he was eventually crucified until dead. The crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday. Jesus' resurrection, which took place on the Sunday after Good Friday, is the main Easter holiday.
Apart from religious services, many people are aiming to enjoy the long weekend in a more worldly way. Several hotels in Jakarta, for example, are offering Easter-themed packages, such as games and brunch offerings.
Meanwhile, hotels in Yogyakarta have reported an average occupancy rate of some 80 percent during the long weekend although hotels in strategic locations, especially those located along Jl. Malioboro, are reportedly fully booked.
"For starred hotels, the occupancy rate could reach 100 percent but, on the other hand, some motels have reported only 40 percent," secretary of the Yogyakarta chapter of the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association, Deddy Pranawa Eryana, told Antara news agency on Friday. (png/asa)
Andreas D. Arditya, Jakarta The majority of Jakarta's citizens say they prefer to cast their votes for independent candidates in the upcoming gubernatorial elections, according to a survey.
Forty-six percent of respondents said they preferred independent candidates over politically backed candidates in an opinion poll result released on Thursday by the Soegeng Sarjadi School of Government (SSSG).
Only 17 percent said they preferred candidates endorsed by political parties, while 32 percent of them said they found no difference between casting votes for either independent or politically backed candidates.
The survey also showed that 69 percent of respondents said they would go to polling booths to cast their votes, with 11 percent of them refusing to do so.
The SSSG conducted the survey from March 5 to 17 in a random sample of 1,180 respondents. The pollsters held telephone interviews with respondents in the survey. The margin of error in the survey is 2.9 percent.
Two independent pairs have registered at the Jakarta office of the General Elections Commission: Economist Faisal Basri and entrepreneur Biem Benjamin; and retired general Hendardji Soepandji and politician Ahmad Riza Patria.
The politically backed aspirants are incumbent Governor Fauzi Bowo and running mate Nachrowi Ramli; Muslim-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) patron Hidayat Nurwahid and economist Didik J. Rachbini; incumbent Surakarta Mayor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the former regent of East Belitung in Bangka-Belitung Islands, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama; and South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin and retired general Nono Sampono.
Fauzi-Nachrowi are endorsed by the Democratic Party, the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS), the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the National Awakening Party (PKB). The Hidayat- Didik campaign is supported by the PKS, while the Jokowi-Ahok campaign is supported by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra). The Alex-Nono ticket is endorsed by the Golkar Party and the United Development Party (PPP).
Separately, Fadjroel Rachman, a political activist from the Research Institute for Democracy and a Prosperous State (Pedoman), said that independent bids for the gubernatorial election had galvanized the political parties.
"No less than the chairpersons of every major political party pulled strings in deciding who their respective parties would endorse in the election," Fadjroel said. "The PKS had to bring its chief patron to the table, while other parties even resorted to outsiders like Alex and Jokowi."
Burhanuddin Muhtadi, a political analyst from the Indonesian Survey Institute's (LSI), said that the survey result showed that there was a good chance for independent candidates in the contest.
"They must take advantage of this potential. The most important thing the independent candidates have to do is to make themselves known to the voters," Burhanuddin said.
A survey held by the LSI last month placed incumbent Fauzi as the most popular candidate.
Michael Taylor Car and motorbike sales in Indonesia's chaotic capital far outpace the building of new roads, meaning traffic in Jakarta soon grinds to a halt leaving motorists to battle it out among themselves for what few shortcuts can be found.
During rush hours especially, rules go out of the window as cars constantly beep horns and switch lanes. Motorbikes play a game of chicken with pedestrians on the crumbling pavements. But one group of pedestrians has decided enough is enough.
Koalisi Pejalan Kaki, or Pedestrian Coalition, is a direct action group that was established last July in an attempt to reclaim sidewalks from motorbikes and street vendors.
"Our first action was inspired by my daughter, who asked me 'why are the motorcyclists passing through the sidewalk, daddy?'" said group coordinator Anthony Ladjar. "I won't let them negatively educate my daughter, so we started a movement."
Each Friday, the group of 20 to 30 people picks an area in Jakarta where motorcyclists and food vendors can be seen using pavements and forcing pedestrians onto the roads. For an hour they gather on a pavement to stage silent protests with placards reading "Sidewalks for pedestrians" or "Sidewalks are not for motorbikes."
During the first protest in Jakarta's Kota district, Ladjar blocked the pavement by lying on the ground.
"Some people said that I am a nut, but others said they respected my action," he said. "Things are going all right and nobody seems to attack us. We hope that thousands of motorcyclists and drivers see our action and become more educated and respect our rights."
A long-awaited land acquisition law was passed by Indonesian lawmakers in December last year, allowing the country to accelerate road, port and airport projects. But like Jakarta's traffic, progress is slow.
A planned MRT train line in the city isn't set to be completed until late 2016. In the meantime, the TransJakarta bus service, the city's main bus service, suffers from limited routes and huge overcrowding at peak times, pushing more and more residents into buying motorbikes.
According to police and government figures, Jakarta's 25 million residents are riding some 11.36 million vehicles, including more than 8 million motorbikes, and the love affair with transport continues unabated. But the coalition has still achieved some modest success.
After similar action in Yogyakarta, Java's cultural capital, the mayor signed a memorandum of understanding and agreed to work with authorities to become more pedestrian-friendly. The coalition has also developed links with similar groups across the globe, including Germany's Deutsche Gesellschaft f|r Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities.
"This demonstration is a very good action," said Yansen Sitorus, a 30-year old worker at an international oil company.
Not all observers are fans, though. "These people are weird," said Asep, a 50-year old street vendor who watched a Pedestrian Coalition demonstration. "They are not right in the head."
But Ladjar remains undaunted, vowing to press on. "We won't stop until the city administration responds to our pleas," he said.
Anita Rachman With rent as low as Rp 159,000 ($17) a month, it would seem the 2,580-unit Marunda Apartment complex in North Jakarta should be filled to capacity.
But instead of children playing in the vast open fields or neighbors chatting in the hallways, there are only dark windows and empty streets.
Just five of the 26 buildings have people living in them. You can tell which apartments are occupied from the laundry lines hanging from the windows, the rest eerily quiet.
"There and there, those are also empty," said Rita, a resident, pointing at some of the buildings around her. "There are lots of empty blocks."
Construction on the apartment towers began in 2004 as part of a government program to provide low-cost housing for poor families, especially fishermen. It was a joint project that included the Jakarta provincial government and the ministries of public housing and of public works.
By 2009 the 75,800-square-meter complex was complete. Each unit had two bedrooms, a little living room, a kitchen, a toilet and storage space. There were also plans to construct a mosque, schools and a health clinic.
According to Yoseph Lucky, from the Marunda Apartment administration office, anyone with a Jakarta ID card can rent a unit. Homeless families or those whose houses had burned down qualify for the subsidized price of Rp 159,000 per month. For other low-income families the rent is Rp 370,000.
It's a figure on the lower end of what rooms in slum areas typically cost. They usually go for Rp 300,000 to Rp 500,000 a month and come with strict landlords to boot.
Yoseph said Marunda was comparatively lax with rent deadlines. "Some haven't paid their rent in six months. We only give them warnings and charge extra for the delay," he said.
But what a waste, Rita said, that only five of the 26 blocks, whose construction cost Rp 18 billion each, were occupied. "Maybe the government should consider a few things before building a complex like this one," she said. "Turns out people are not attracted to it."
A lack of public transportation, she said, had to be one reason more people weren't moving in. The complex is located in Cilincing, about 45 minutes by Metro Mini or angkot from the nearest TransJakarta busway shelter, in Tanjung Priok. But after 5 p.m., Rita said, angkots stopped making the trip.
Transportation wasn't a big issue for Nurul Aini and her husband, who moved to Marunda just more than a year ago, drawn by the cheap rent. "My husband works at an office in Central Jakarta, but he has a motorbike," she said.
What really worries her is the lack of schools around the complex. With their baby, that will make things difficult in a few years, she said.
As for the fishermen the government thought would come in droves? It never happened. It probably doesn't help that there is no place around the apartments for them to dry their catch.
But even though the complex isn't perfect, Yoseph said, it is still a good option for low-income families. "I doubt this complex is seen as unattractive," he said. "It's cheap. People will come."
If the apartments are so alluring, why are most still empty? Novizal, head of Jakarta's housing agency, offered a partial explanation. "People want the apartments, but we have some administration issues," he said. "We hope to resolve them soon."
His office, he explained, could only operate the 15 blocks it financed. Only five of them were occupied so far, but he said he was optimistic the other 10 would be filled this year.
"The rest of the blocks, we cannot really do anything because they belong to the central government," he said.
The Public Works Ministry financed six of the blocks and the Public Housing Ministry five, but the ministries have yet to hand them over to the Jakarta administration. Novizal said the process was not easy because it involved several departments, including the Finance Ministry.
Public Housing Minister Djan Faridz acknowledged his ministry had neglected the Marunda buildings, but argued that the handover process was not easy.
"The procedures have yet to be approved by the Finance Ministry. But we now have a team to handle this," he said, adding that he thought it could get done within a few months. "Soon everything will be resolved and people will come and rent the apartments," he said.
Novizal did say his team could probably be working harder to fill the units. This year, he said, they plan to install electricity and water pipes at several of the empty blocks and clean them up so people can use them soon.
The promised mosque is expected to be built this year, but other services such as schools and a health clinic are likely take longer, he said.
"For fishermen, we are considering providing a special facility or space for them to dry their fish," he said. "They can do it somewhere near their units while they rest upstairs."
Doing all this would require additional funds, he said. But he said he thought that after the handover process was done his agency could get more people living in the complex.
Tito Summa Siahaan Indonesia should more widely distribute the benefits of strong economic growth and protect poor and vulnerable households from sudden changes in the economy, the World Bank says.
The government is spending Rp 137 trillion ($15 billion) to subsidize fuel, and some economists say the funds would be better spent on other programs.
The World Bank, in its quarterly report published on Wednesday, called on the government to boost spending on the social safety net and invest more in infrastructure and education.
"It is like switching to a healthier diet," World Bank lead economist Shubham Chaudhuri told reporters in Jakarta on Wednesday. "The future of Indonesia's growth and development is dependent on the government's progress in improving the quality of its spending."
Chaudhuri said that although the country is fiscally sound, movements in the global economy could pose challenges. The World Bank cut its forecast for Indonesia's economic growth this year to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent, citing a global economic slowdown. The economy expanded 6.5 percent in 2011.
"Indonesia possessed the advantage of having diversified trading partners, which is the main reason why the country can withstand the impact of the crisis in the US and Europe," Chaudhuri said. "But now it is a different time. With Indonesia's most important trading partners Asian countries, slowdown in India and China could impact the country's economy."
The government spent Rp 30 trillion a year on social assistance programs, the World Bank said. At 0.5 percent of gross domestic product, it is significantly less than the 1.5 percent average for other middle-income countries.
According to the World Bank, around 12.5 percent of Indonesia's 240 million people are living below the poverty line, which the government defines as a monthly income of Rp 233,000. Some 38 percent are borderline poor.
The government has eight social assistance programs for the poor, covering at least 18.5 million households. The largest program is rice assistance, which accounted for 53 percent of total spending.
The government has twice introduced a temporary cash transfer program (BLT), in which poor households received Rp 100,000 per month for nine months. The program was used to lessen the impact of fuel price rises in 2005 and to weather the global financial downturn in 2008.
Vivi Alatas, a World Bank economist, said that a decent social safety net would address the "fluidity" in the country's poverty issues.
"In Indonesia, 50 percent of the poor people [in 2011] were not poor in the previous year," she said. "Of course, the social safety net is not a panacea for the whole poverty issue, but it is still needed to [cope with a] sudden shock for Indonesia's poor."
Vivi noted that the cash transfer program was working well in times of sudden changes.
Suahasil Nazara, a professor of economics at the University of Indonesia, agreed with the World Bank, saying that a better social assistance programs would protect the country's growth momentum, especially in maintaining the purchasing power of the poor and the near-poor.
"Government could boost its social spending by taking the unused money from the state budget," Suahasil said. There are Rp 31.1 trillion in unused funds from the 2011 state budget.
Under the planned fuel price rise, which has now been halted, an estimated Rp 57 trillion rupiah in savings would be generated, of which Rp 40 trillion was to be paid out in BLT.
Jakarta The legal debate on the monopoly of information in the country has continued in a hearing as the Constitutional Court invited more experts on Thursday.
The hearing was part of a judicial review, requested by the Independent Coalition for Broadcasting Democratization (KIDP), of two articles in the 2002 Broadcasting Law.
The KIDP claimed some electronic media tycoons had misinterpreted the first clause in Article 18 and the fourth clause in Article 34, which had resulted in a monopoly of television stations.
The coalition referred to several holding companies, which own more than one station, such as the MNC Group with RCTI, MNC and Global TV; Visi Media Group with tvOne and ANTV and Trans Corp., which controls TRANS7 and TRANS TV.
The experts who testified before the court were Alwi Dahlan, Yanuar Rizky, Paulus Widiyanto, Ichlasul Amal and Tjipta Lesmana.
In his testimony, Alwi, a communications expert from the University of Indonesia (UI), said radio spectrum was under public ownership and should not be owned by any one individual or institution. "Ownership concentrations are dangerous for society," he told The Jakarta Post.
Paulus, a member of the House of Representatives' committee that drafted the law, said every broadcasting-license owner was forbidden to transfer or sell their ownership to another party as stated in the fourth clause of Article 34. However, he added, there had been cases of license transfer when a television station had been bought by another, or when two companies merged.
"If a company goes bankrupt or cannot manage its operations anymore, the license must be returned to the KPI [the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission] or to the government. But that has never happened because the companies keep transferring the licenses among themselves," he said.
Meanwhile, Tjipta, a communications expert at Pelita Harapan University, dismissed the KIDP's claim that current media ownership would threaten democracy in the country.
According to Tjipta, electronic media has very little power in influencing public perception. "Take the Bank Century case as an example. The media bombarded us with stories about it, but what has been the result? It shows the weakness of the media," he added. Tjipta also called on critics to prove that press conglomeration had influenced media content.
Speaking after the hearing, Constitutional Court Chief Justice Mahfud MD said all parties should submit their final written opinions on the judicial review by April 19.
In addition, the Association of Indonesian Private Television Stations (ATVSI) said it had not been involved in the KPI's policy-making process. Recently, ATVSI protested against the KPI after it released the 2012 Broadcasting Guidelines and Program Standards (P3SPS) on April 1.
Wijaya Kusuma Subroto of ATVSI told the Post on Thursday the association did not object to the guidelines, but thought the KPI should have involved them in the drafting process.
He added that ATVSI's involvement, along with the involvement of other broadcasting associations, was regulated in Article 8, Clause 2(b) of the Broadcasting Law. (tas)
Dessy Sagita The singing contest show "Indonesian Idol," which is aired by Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia, has been attacked for its judges' allegedly discriminatory and sexist comments.
Several organizations and public figures who have formed Ampati, an alliance focusing on concerns with Indonesian television, demanded RCTI edit this year's "Indonesian Idol" before airing it to cut out any disturbing content linked to gender.
"Juries cause a fuss when they see male contestants acting too feminine and started issuing remarks such as 'transvestite', 'not macho enough' and 'wandu' [a Javanese term for a feminine-like male]," Hartoyo, secretary general of Ourvoice, an advocate for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders, said in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Hartoyo said "Indonesian Idol" exploited male contestants' femininity and at the same time harassed them with their remarks. He quoted some of the judges comments aired on March 25.
Anang Hermansyah: "You [sing] like girls; you should [sing] like boys and not like girls."
Ahmad Dhani: "This is why doomsday is near" and "Your face doesn't fit [the profile of] this song."
Agnes Monica: "You are so macho."
Hartoyo said as a talent show, "Indonesian Idol" should have focused on the singing ability of the contestants instead of their sexual identities or their physical characteristics.
"It's unethical to garner a high rating and generate money out of the misery of other people. The jury's comments on 'Indonesian Idol' are very sexist," he said.
Ampati demanded RCTI re-edit the show and forbid juries from discriminating against and discrediting contestants for any reason. Ampati also demanded the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) reprimand RCTI for broadcasting the program.
Ezki Suyanto, a KPI commissioner who received the report, said the agency will verify the complaints and bring the issue to a meeting of commissioners.
"We will watch the show and we'll analyze it. After that we will bring it to a plenary meeting and impose sanctions on RCTI if it committed any violations. RCTI denied the accusation.
"I don't agree that 'Indonesian Idol' is discrediting anyone. What's the definition of discrediting? It's very subjective and relative. Other people may find something offensive, but I don't," RCTI corporate secretary Driantama told BeritaSatu.com on Wednesday.
Driantama said that all RCTI programs had to go through several layers of editing processes and that the company adopts a strict quality control. "[RCTI] has been around for more than 20 years and we couldn't be reckless," he said. "We have extraordinarily strict editorial and quality control."
Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta The House of Representatives has sent a bill on social conflict management back to a committee for revision during its plenary session on Tuesday.
Lawmakers voiced concerns that the bill would allow the Indonesian Military (TNI) to intervene in the nation's social and political affairs, something which ended along with the 32-year reign of president Soeharto in 1998.
Objections were raised to articles 34 and 35 of the bill, which lawmakers said created ambiguity about which institution would be in charge if the TNI was deployed in social conflicts. Lawmakers were also concerned that the TNI might again commit human rights violations if soldiers were sent to restore order domestically.
"Clauses 1 and 2 of Article 34 contradict the principles of the 2004 Indonesian Military Law, which gives the president the authority to deploy TNI personnel in non-combat operation," lawmaker TB Hasanuddin, lawmaker of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) said.
The clauses would authorize governors, regents and mayors, with the consent of local leaders, to deploy the TNI to resolve social conflicts in what some called a throwback to the draconian measures of the New Order.
However, Hasanuddin, a deputy chairman of House Commission I overseeing defense and foreign affairs, perhaps overlooked the 1959 State of Emergency Law, which already allows the president to deploy the TNI domestically during a crisis.
Commission I chairman Mahfudz Shiddiq, a lawmaker from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said that the articles 34 and 35 of the bill might create a conflict between the TNI and the National Police in restoring order during social conflicts.
Article 35 stipulates that TNI deployments must be decided in coordination with the National Police, authorizing the National Police chief and the TNI chief to manage operations jointly.
"Why should the TNI coordinate with the police? This is confusing. It is the Defense Ministry that has the authority to direct the TNI. On the other hand, the National Police is answerable to the president. This is a mess because the president should not stand on equal footing with the Defense Minister," Mahfudz said.
He added that involving the TNI in resolving social conflicts might trump civilian supremacy.
"The bill must guarantee that the involvement of the TNI and the National Police in social conflict mitigation will not end up with their officers violating human rights. Although I haven't seen the potential for that in the present draft, I am happy that the House delayed its endorsement of the bill because it needs revision," he said.
Mahfudz added that the bill did not adequately define what a "social conflict" was, referring to social conflicts as a clash involving physical violence, discounting other types of violence, including psychological, economic and sexual violence.
Deputy House Speaker Priyo Budi Santoso, who chaired the plenary meeting, said that lawmakers agreed to return the bill to the House special committee overseeing its drafting for revision.
"We will give more time for the committee to work based on suggestions raised during today's meeting. We will discuss the draft again during our next plenary meeting, scheduled for April 10," he said.
An alliance of civil society groups under the banner of Indonesia Damai (Peaceful Indonesia) initiated the bill in early 2011. The bill mandates the establishment of a Social Conflict Settlement Commission, an hoc body with the authority to conduct out-of-court settlements through mediation and reconciliation.
Indonesia plans to impose a 25 percent export tax on coal and base metals this year, jumping to 50 percent in 2013, an industry ministry official said on Tuesday, as the major producer of raw materials looks to boost domestic investment and take a bigger slice of mining profits.
If imposed the tax would add to a raft of regulations announced this year that have caused confusion in Indonesia's mining sector and worried foreign investors. It would hit the profits of both national and foreign-owned companies and could also raise costs for importers.
India, a major buyer of Indonesian coal, said it would raise concerns about the proposed tax with Jakarta.
Late last year, the world's top thermal coal and refined tin exporter outlined plans to introduce export taxes on metals and minerals, aiming to encourage downstream investment in the mining sector.
Talks on the export tax were put on hold last week however, with both the industry minister and energy and mineral resources minister due to discuss the plans, but details are emerging from talks within government departments.
It is hoped that introducing an export tax will prevent a deluge of mineral and metal ore shipments, as producers ramp up ahead of a planned 2014 ban, Industry Ministry Secretary General Anshari Bukhari told Reuters.
"We should actually impose the export tax early this year, so that the current export rush can be avoided," he said. "In 2013 we plan to increase the export tax to 50 percent."
Bukhari was unable to give an exact date for when the export tax would be introduced, but added that it would be imposed on miners' export sales.
Indonesia, whose fast-growing mining sector accounts for about 11 percent of GDP, already has export taxes in place for cocoa and palm oil, aiming to ensure domestic supplies and boost downstream industries.
Industry players in Southeast Asia's largest economy, were unsure about the export tax plans, having been left in the dark.
"I haven't heard anything about this," said Rozik Soetjipto, CEO at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold's Indonesian unit, which runs the huge Grasberg copper and gold mine in Papua.
"I'm not sure whether it is true... from the minister of mines, there is no indication of such a kind of tax. There is some suggestion from certain parties but I don't know exactly how it will go."
In January, Indonesia had said it would not impose an export tax on tin.
The country has announced a series of new mining regulations this year, including a ban on exports of some unprocessed metals from 2014 and changes to rules on foreign ownership.
"This is one of many examples around the world where mining companies are making swillions, and everybody else involved wants a slice of the pie whether it unions wanting higher wages or government wanting a bigger take of what is a national resource," said BNP Paribas metals analyst Stephen Briggs.
"It is not irrational," he added. "It sounds like this is adding up to a pretty chunky imposition on mining companies and it's hard to believe all of this would be pushed though."
The archipelago is home to the world's second-largest copper mine but only one copper smelter, and this smelting capacity shortage is mirrored for other metals. Industry experts say it takes about eight years to build a new smelter and supporting infrastructure.
Despite industry pleas for a delay in the 2014 regulation, the government announced plans in February to ban exports of unprocessed copper, gold, silver, nickel, tin, bauxite and zinc by 2014. Coal will be regulated separately.
Analysts were surprised by the export tax plans, and sceptical that all the mining plans announced in recent weeks, would go ahead.
"Right now there appears to be very little clarity, there is talk of taxes, but when will they introduced?" said Citi analyst David Wilson in London. "There is talk of ore export bans, with confusion over whether bans will start as early as May, or by 2014, and then there is also the issue of majority local ownership for any mining operations.
"This confusion is not positive in terms of driving forward investment plans in Indonesia's mining sector."
Hayden Atkins, an analyst with Macquarie in London said while the tax on base metals was expected, the tax on coal was a surprise since there would likely be limited economic opportunities in "upgrading" coal anyway.
"If they did do it, it would definitely cause some ripples, particularly for Indian buyers," he said. "A 25 percent tax is huge. Nowhere else really has the same kind of tax burden on coal directly."
Indian Coal Secretary Alok Perti said such a move would push up the cost of imported coal just after New Delhi removed its own import duty on thermal coal for power plants.
"The government will take this up with Indonesia," Perti, the top official in India's coal ministry, told Reuters. "It will also nullify our efforts to help imports by removing the 5 percent import duty on thermal coal."
India is a major buyer of Indonesian thermal coal, along with China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
Indonesian miners that could be impacted by an export tax include PT International Vale Indonesia PT, Adaro Energy PT, Aneka Tambang PT, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc and Bumi Resources PT.
Benchmark copper prices on the London Metal Exchange were little-affected by Indonesia's export tax plans, holding near two-month highs after better-than-expected manufacturing data in China and the United States.
Rangga D. Fadillah, Jakarta The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has issued a regulation on electricity exports and imports, paving the way for Indonesia to export or import electricity from neighboring countries.
The price of exported electricity cannot benefit from subsidies and trading will be subject to approval from the ministry, according to the regulation.
The rule also stated that sales cannot disrupt the quality or reliability of the local power supply in the exporting region and would be approved only if local needs were met.
Imports will be allowed for regions with an available power capacity of less than 30 percent of peak demand, provided that there are no infringements on Indonesia's sovereignty, security or economic development.
The regulation allows for contracts of up to five years' length and for their extension. Contract holders must submit periodic reports to the Energy and Mineral Resources Minister. Non-compliant contract holders face sanctions ranging from warnings to contract revocation.
Jarman, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry's electricity chief, said the regulation accommodated the implementation of the so-called ASEAN grid, which will provide the association's member nations with a single power grid.
"All contracts made before the issuance of this regulation must adjust the content of their contracts to the regulation within six months after the implementation of the regulation," he told reporters on Tuesday.
An energy expert from the ReforMiner Institute, Komaidi Notonegoro, said the regulation would benefit state power company PT PLN, which could generate more income by selling electricity. "In that way, PLN can reduce its subsidy," he said.
However, he warned that the regulation might be bad for the nation, as PLN might seek profits at the expense of meeting the nation's energy needs. "If a region has a power surplus, it's better to channel the power to other regions than to export it to another country."
By allowing Indonesia to import power, the regulation may lead to a dependence on other nations for electricity, Komaidi said. It would be better for the government to improve the nation's electricity infrastructure, he added.
As reported earlier, PLN intends to start large-scale electricity trading in 2014 after completing a 275-kilovolt (kV) transmission network between West Kalimantan and Sarawak, Malaysia.
The company will work with Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) to build the network, which will span 122 kilometers from Bengkayang, West Kalimantan to Mambong, Sarawak. Another project, a 250-kV subsea cable transmission line between Indonesia and Malaysia, will deliver electricity from coal-fired power plants in South Sumatra to peninsular Malaysia.
Jakarta Indonesian exports for the month of February reached US$15.6 billion in value, growing by 8.5 percent compared to the same period last year, the Central Statistics Agency reported on Monday.
The export performance was driven by oil and gas exports, which had grown 26.4 percent year-on-year to $3.3 billion, while non-oil and gas exports stood at $12.3 billion, up only 4.6 percent compared to February last year.
China remains the top destination for non-oil and gas exports, with $1.58 billion in exports, followed by Japan with $1.48 billion and the US with $1.20 billion.
Despite the annual export growth, figures for February show substantial slowing down, indicating growing pressure from protracted global economic headwinds.
"This [slowing down] indicates that the global economic crisis is beginning to affect the performance of Indonesia's exports," said Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi in a press release on Monday.
The slowing down of export growth is not exclusive to Indonesia, as China's year-to-year exports weakened from 21.3 percent in February 2011 to 6.9 percent in February this year, South Korea from 30.5 percent to 5.6 percent, Japan from 15.5 percent to 0.03 percent and Brazil from 35.9 percent to 7 percent.
To put the brake on the trend, the Trade Ministry is emphasizing the importance of diversifying the export market toward nontraditional markets such as Africa and Latin America.
Furthermore, export growth is also overshadowed by the accelerating increase in import growth.
Imports for the month of February reached a combined value of $15 billion, up by 27.3 percent compared with February last year. Non-oil and gas imports for the month stood at $11.5 billion, picking up by 24.5 percent while the import of oil and gas grew by 37.3 percent to $3.5 billion.
Cumulatively, Indonesia's total imports for the first two months of the year reached $29.5 billion, higher by 21.4 percent compared to the same period last year.
Indonesia's import growth has consistently upstaged its export growth since September 2011, with the worst such cases occurring in December 2011, as imports enjoyed 24.3 percent growth, whereas export grew 2.2 percent.
Bayu attributed this trend to the growth of investment in Indonesia. "The increase in imports for capital goods and raw materials happened in line with supporting the growth in investment [foreign and local], which increased by 20.5 percent in 2011," he said. (han)