Medan Hundreds of traders at the Petisah Market in Medan, North Sumatra, went on strike in protest over alleged rampant illegal fees and discrimination by the market's management.
The traders closed their shops and converged on Medan's City Hall to express their demand "to put an end to illegal fees at the market".
They said the collection of illegal fees had become rife and the number of illegal sellers had increased after the Medan municipality handed over the market management to PT Gunung Karya Kencana Sentosa (GKKS). Spokesman for the traders, Tommy Wijaya, said the number of illegal traders operating on the sidewalk at the market appeared uncontrollable.
Tommy added that the unauthorized fees demanded from each of the illegal vendors reached up to hundreds of thousands of rupiah per month, while the official fee collected from legal traders reached up to Rp 1 million per month.
Indra Harsaputra, Sidoarjo Victims of the hot mudflow disaster in Sidoarjo, East Java, are once again demanding that Lapindo Brantas Inc. pay the remaining compensation as scheduled.
They have opted to camp on the embankments where their villages and homes once stood before being engulfed by the mudflow until the company, deemed responsible for the tragedy, pays the remaining 80 percent compensation by June this year.
"We demand Lapindo keep its promise and pay us the compensation. Otherwise, we will continue our protest by interrupting the activities of the Sidoarjo Mudflow Mitigation Agency (BPLS)," the victims' representative, Pitanto, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
Pitanto said Lapindo Brantas Inc. had apparently paid 20 percent of the compensation set by the government following the hot mudflow in Porong, Sidoarjo, on May 29, 2006. The residents used the funds to build new homes five kilometers from their villages.
"We still have to pay loan installments to Bank Jatim. We have no money because a majority of the victims lost their jobs as their workplaces were engulfed by the mudflow," he said.
Pitanto stated that Lapindo Brantas Inc. had one week to provide certainty of payment, failing which thousands of residents affected by the mudflow would again rally in Jakarta.
The mudflow still continues up to this day. Despite a Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) statement on violations committed by Lapindo Brantas Inc. leading to the disaster, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono decreed in 2007 that the government would compensate victims in four villages in Porong.
The government has so far paid out Rp 6.7 trillion (about US$7.8 billion) for compensation and has set aside another Rp 500 billion this year for the same purpose.
According to the presidential decree, Lapindo Brantas is responsible for compensating mudflow victims in Siring, Jatirejo, Renokenongo and Kedungbendo villages. The company claims it has paid around 75 percent, or Rp 2.8 trillion, of the Rp 3.9 trillion compensation.
The remaining amount will be paid by PT Minarak Lapindo through PT Mutiara Masyur Sejahtera, a subsidiary of Lapindo Brantas, which applied for a Rp 1.023 trillion loan from Bank Jatim and several other state banks. The application was rejected last week.
As the company has been unable to provide certainty on compensation payment, hundreds of mudflow victims on Monday rallied and blocked access to the main road replacing Porong highway, while hundreds of others converged on the East Java governor's office in Surabaya A number of them also vandalized BPLS facilities. "We are disappointed with the government. We have been suffering for years," said Pitanto.
PT Minarak Lapindo spokesman Andi Darussalam Tabusala previously said his company would try to pay the compensation by the end of the year. "We will continue seeking loans. We are in a difficult financial position," he told reporters on Tuesday.
East Java Governor Soekarwo said the government would not compensate mudflow victims because, in accordance with the prevailing regulation, the government is only responsible for compensating residents in three villages for their land valued at RP 3.23 trillion, Rp 560 billion of which was taken from the state budget and paid.
"We demand PT Minarak Lapindo ask other banks for loans so compensation can be paid immediately to mudflow victims," said Soekarwo.
Sidoarjo Minarak Lapindo Jaya (MLJ), the Bakrie company handling the Lapindo mudflow, says that it has yet to pay Rp 1.023 trillion (US$127 million) in compensation for victims of the disaster.
Company vice president Andi Darussalam Tabussalla said that MLJ had run short of cash after paying 75 percent of the total amount of compensation to residents affected by the disaster.
"We will be able to pay the compensation if the government give us a loan," Andi said, as quoted by kompas.com. Andi said that the company had applied for a loan from Bank Jatim only to be turned down by its management. The MLJ application for the loan was made last November.
In the past week, victims of the Lapindo mudflow stepped up their protests and threatened to occupy the office of the Sidoarjo Mud Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPLS).
The protesters wanted Lapindo to expedite the disbursement of the compensation and payments for the land and buildings already inundated by the mudflow.
Speculation was rife that, in return for its support for the government's plan to increase fuel prices, the Golkar Party, chaired by Aburizal Bakrie, managed to insert provisions into the 2012 revised State Budget Law that BPLS would get more money and power.
With this revision, the funding allocated to the BPLS would increase to Rp 1.6 trillion, from the Rp 1.3 trillion initially allocated for this year.
Surabaya A rally staged by thousands of citizens affected by the Lapindo mudflow in East Java turned violent when protestors clashed with police officers on Monday.
Initially peaceful, the rally, held at the East Java governor's office, reached its boiling point after it became apparent that high-ranking officials would not come out to meet the protestors, as per their demands.
Protestors forced their way into the governor's building and threw stones and bottles at the police officers as the demonstration's main orator, speaking through a loudspeaker, tried to get the people to simmer down.
"Let's not get provoked. We're here to hold a peaceful rally. Don't do anything anarchic. Calm down," the orator said. Instead of following his instructions, however, the protesters started hurling projectiles at him, too.
Trying to regain control of the situation, the police fired water cannons and tear gas at the angry crowd.
The demonstrators' purpose was to voice their anger over what they said was a delay in compensation payments promised them by Minarak Lapindo Jaya, the holding company for the gas drilling firm widely blamed for causing the mudflow. Lapindo is a subsidiary of the Bakrie Group, whose main patron, Aburzial Bakrie, is running for president in 2014.
One of the protestors, Sunarto, said the people were tired of Lapindo's empty promises. "We're staging the rally to demand settlement of the compensation payment, which is still not finished," he said.
The people at the rally had wanted East Java Governor Soekarwo to force Lapindo to settle compensation payments immediately, but he was out of town on duty and not at his office.
Before the rally, protestors blocked access to Jalan Raya Porong. They also blocked the railway in front of the Sidoarjo Mudflow Mitigation Agency (BPLS) post, causing a traffic jam of 2 kilometers. Sidoarjo is a district in East Java.
The blockade caused a Mutiara Timur train bound for Surabaya-Banyuwangi, East Java, to arrive two hours late. The police redirected vehicles to Jalan Arteri Porong to ease the congestion.
"Mutiara Timur left Surabaya at 9 a.m. but was held back at Sidoarjo station and was only able to resume the trip at 12 p.m. after residents opened the blockade in Jalan Raya Porong," a police spokesman said.
Last year, the Bakrie Group denied there had been any delay in the compensation for land affected by the mudflow. "The full financial commitment will be completed as per the 2009 agreement, which is on or before December 2012," said Christopher Fong, Bakrie Group's international spokesman.
During the course of 2010 2011, the Indonesian Government has restricted the number of foreign journalists who are given access to enter Papua and report on the situation there. As well as journalists, a number of foreign NGOs have been prevented from functioning in West Papua.
All this was said in a report issued by the Faith-Based Network on West Papua, Franciscan International and Papua Land of Peace and the Asian Human Rights Commission, which was launched at the P3W Aula in Padang Bulan on 21 April. The report states that in January 2011, Peace Brigades International (PBI) closed its operations in Papua and left Indonesia.
After working in the province for six years, the lack of legality for its work and visa problems were among the factors that made it impossible for the PBI to offer protection for human rights defenders who were under threat. Two years earlier, in 2008, the International Committee of the Red Cross was ordered by the Indonesian Government to close its offices in Papua and Aceh..
The report also states that even though some foreign journalists were granted permits to vist many parts of Indonesia, access to Papua was restricted. Journalists who were granted access were followed and restricted in their activities. In May, 2010, the French journalist Baudouin Koenig was arrested by the Indonesian police because he was taking photos of a peaceful demonstration in the city of Jayapura even though he was in possession of a journalist's visa that permitted him to write reports about all parts of Indonesia, including the provinces of Papua and West Papua.
Kristina Naubauer, the co-ordinator of the Faith-Based Network on Papua, said that up to this day, the world at large knows nothing about Papua because the Indonesian Government refuses to grant access to foreign journalists, to human rights activists and to other observers from outside Indonesia.
'Up to this day, when we people from outside Indonesia give talks about Papua, no-one knows anything about Papua. People ask us, 'Where is Papua?' she said during the launch of the report about human rights in Papua in 2010-2011.
Over 400 Bintang Kejora (Morning Star) flags were flown by scores of people on a demonstration in Tanggal, Serui, West Papua.
According to media sources, they were demonstrating to express support for launching of a US branch of International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP) this is spelt out as the International Parliamentarians, not Lawyers in the United States. However sources on the ground confirmed to West Papua Media that the demo was carried out by over 5000 people in support of the Federal Republic of West Papua, and demanded full international legal recognition of Papuan's desire for independence and to uphold the universal right to self-determination.
Confirming the event, Aston Situmorang of the NGO Working Forum of Cenderawasih Bay said that thousands of people had gathered to take part in the demonstration from all parts of the district of Serui. The participants first gathered in three places and then converged on the location of the demonstration. After they had made their way to Tanggul, a number of speeches were delivered in support of the ILWP.
When the local chief of police was contacted regarding this demonstration, he denied that anyone had flown the kejora flag. "No such thing happened," he said. "It's a lie." He said that people marched together but no flags were flown. The demonstrators had only carried banners expressing support for the establishment of the ILWP in the US.
Organisers of the demonstration contradicted the police version of events, claiming several groups of up to 470 flags (in each group) were flown, after Police and military attempted to blockade the rally with force. However given the sheer number of flags, security forces did not attempt to intervene and allowed flags to be flown, an act which carries severe prison terms under the provisions of makar (treason).
A successful tactic employed by rally participants was mass body painting of the Morning Star flag, an act that although challenging makar provisions remains unenforceable under Indonesian Law.
According to another report about the demonstration in JUBI on the same day, the local police chief in Serui had allowed fifty flags to be flown at the demonstration. According to the organisers, the majority of the participants were waving flags.
It was reported that the local police had refused to allow people at the demonstration to take photos. According to the organisers, "As we were marching along the road, the police prohibited the use of cameras, but after the people arrived at the location (Tanggul), the police then allowed photos to be taken."
Aston Situmorang said that demonstrators had come from all parts of the district; some were arrested in several places in the town centre, but they were not held for long and after being released, they were able to rejoin the demonstration. As they arrived at the location of the demo, a number of people made speeches.
Many of the participants had walked a long distance from Mantembu, with the whole march proceeding peacefully. After the speeches had been made, they dispersed.
The local chief of police, Yohannes Nugroho Wicakasono, said that the demonstration had been organised by the West Papuan National Authority (WPNA) and had proceeded peacefully, lasting from 9am till 1.30pm. He said that kejora flags had been flown, but after they had been given warnings, the flags were taken down, collected and put away.
A more senior police chief in the town of Seruis, Daniel Prio Dwiatmoko denied that kejora flags had been flown, saying that the demonstrators had only carried banners expressing support for the ILWP which has just been set up in the US.
Steve James, New York Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc whose recent profits were hurt by lower output from its strike-hit Grasberg mine in Indonesia, expects production to return to normal there by the end of June.
The company also said it is cooperating with the Jakarta government, which is reviewing all mining contracts in the country, and is confident it has no obligation to divest part of its assets under existing agreements or a new mining law.
"We are seeing progress in returning to normal operations (at Grasberg)," Chief Executive Officer Richard Adkerson said of the vast copper and gold mine hit by a three-month strike last year and sporadic work interruptions in recent months.
The labor issues seriously affected production at the open-pit mine and, as a result, dented fourth-quarter 2011 earnings. On Thursday, Freeport reported its 2012 first-quarter profit dropped by almost one half and it slightly lowered its gold and copper production targets for the year.
During the first quarter, Freeport produced 123 million pounds of copper at Grasberg, less than half the 284 million pounds it recovered in the same quarter of 2011. Gold, too, was down, from 441,000 ounces in the 2011 quarter, to 229,000 ounces in the 2012 first quarter.
During a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Adkerson said the mill at Grasberg, which crushes mined rock, is operating at over 200,000 tons per day up from 115,000 tons per day in the first quarter. Full operations around 240,000 tons are expected to be reached in the second quarter, he said.
Asked when Freeport would lift the force majeure it declared at the mine on the island of Papua, Adkerson said normal operations would have to return first. Under force majeure, a company is not bound by contractural obligations to customers.
"We are working very cooperatively with our customers to meet their needs. We do have a priority of providing (copper) concentrate to the ... smelter in Indonesia," he said. "So we will lift this as we get back to full production and resolve some of the uncertainty that we're facing in the first quarter."
Adkerson also sought to tamp down concern among investors about Freeport's operations in Indonesia, in light of the government review and changes in the mining law.
"We are in compliance with our Contract of Work (COW) during all of our years of operations since 1972 in Indonesia," he said. "We have no issues of noncompliance on either side. We have no divestiture obligations under our COW."
He said the new mining law provides for 20 percent divestiture obligations, "but we are under our existing COW, not a new mining law. "We are working cooperatively with the government and I'll say that we will continue to do so to be responsive to issues raised by the government in the context of protecting the values of our contract for our shareholders."
Adkerson noted that Freeport has contributed over $60 billion to Indonesia's GDP since 1992 and the company is investing $15 billion to develop underground operations at Grasberg, when the open-pit mine is depleted.
Earlier on Thursday, Freeport reported first-quarter net earnings were $764 million, or 80 cents per share, compared with $1.5 billion, or $1.57 per share, in the same quarter of 2011.
Excluding losses on debt repayment, profit was 96 cents per share. On that basis, analysts' average forecast was 86 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Revenue dropped to $4.61 billion from $5.71 billion.
The Phoenix, Arizona-based company, which also operates mines in Africa and North and South America, said first-quarter sales were 827 million pounds of copper and 288,000 ounces of gold. The totals were lower than January estimates of 875 million pounds of copper and 425,000 ounces of gold because of the lower Grasberg output.
Freeport said 2012 sales are expected to be 3.7 billion pounds of copper, 1.1 million ounces of gold and 81 million pounds of molybdenum down about 100 million pounds of copper and 100,000 ounces of gold from its previous forecast.
Freeport expects second-quarter sales of 895 million pounds of copper, 235,000 ounces of gold and 20 million pounds of molybdenum. In afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Freeport shares were down 8 cents at $38.21.
During the first quarter, spot gold gained 8 percent from $1,563.80 an ounce to $1,688.29 on March 30. Copper climbed 11 percent, with benchmark May COMEX futures moving up from $3.44 per pound to $3.82.
Jakarta Speaking in Jakarta on Wednesday April 18, Indonesian Military (TNI) headquarters information centre chief Rear Admiral Iskandar Sitompul said that intelligence personnel on duty in Papua do indeed have its own chain of command.
Intelligence operatives do not report to the Papuan chief-of-police despite the province currently being under a state of civil administration, where jurisdiction for security lies with regional heads and is implemented by the police. "Intelligence operations if they're found out, yeah, they would be in the wrong", said Sitompul.
Earlier, the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) questioned why numerous shooting incidents in Papua are not followed by the arrest of suspects. The government invariably claims that the perpetrators are from the Free Papua Organisation (OPM).
Komnas HAM Commissioner Joseph A Prasetyo said that based on information obtained by the commission, there is a group of people referred to as "angel troops" (pasukan malaikat). They are not TNI and also not OPM. "We are therefore asking for transparency, [so that] all operations in Papua are reported to the police chief because Papua is under a state of civil order", he said.
According to Sitompul, boarder security and security operations in unstable areas are coordinated with regional governments or under the authority of local police.
Intelligence [operations] however, although they do indeed require coordination, are conducted through intelligence channels above them. "If they don't need coordination, yeah, they aren't conducted", said Sitompul.
Speaking at the Papua Regional House of Representatives (DPR) in Jayapura on Wednesday, DPR Commission A chairperson Ruben Magai said that security personnel, particularly the police, have been unable to maintain order and security in Papua.
Shootings in the area of PT Freeport and Puncak Jaya for example, continue unabated. Yet the security forces have proven incapable of shedding any light on the perpetrators.
Although there are many TNI and police personnel, as well as agents from the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the Army's Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS) that are assigned to Mulia, Puncak Jaya regency, a civil aircraft was still fired during a landing at the Mulia Airport resulting in the death of one passenger.
The shooting has resulted in pilots being unwilling to fly to Mulia and this has impacted upon the mobility of local people and the supply of foodstuffs. Since the shooting of the Trigana Air Twin-Otter aircraft on Monday April 8, no aircraft have flown back to Mulia. (JOS/EDN)
Farouk Arnaz A convoy of Freeport Indonesia cars was on Saturday attacked twice on the road linking Tembagapura and the company's Grasberg mine, but no one was injured.
"A group of unidentified men shot the convoy at mile 26. The bullets hit the back windows of cars. The mobile brigadier and the Indonesian military were quick to aid the convoy. The cars, however, were shot again a second time at mile 36. Fortunately no one was hurt," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution said on Monday.
Although no one has been arrested over the attacks, Saud said police and military officers were not responsible for the shootings. There has been speculation that police or military officers are responsible for the violence, intending to keep the conflicts alive in order to continue receiving pay to secure areas.
"The perpetrators couldn't be police or military officers because we've been protecting it together. It must be an armed group who didn't want Freeport to operate safely," he said.
The National Police have asked the military and local people to help solve the case because they cannot do it on their own. The police are also seeking public input for an investigation into the attack on police officer Ronald Supamena, who was shot dead by an unidentified group on the same road in February.
Ronald was killed in a shootout between police and a group of gunmen during an ambush. Concerns over the authorities' inability to halt attacks in Papua are rising.
Benny Yamato and Piter Tumoka, native Papuans who worked for a subsidiary of Freeport Indonesia, a unit of US mining company Freeport-McMoRan, were shot in February. The two men were shot in the chest while driving down a road connecting Timika and Tembagapura, but they survived. The identities of their attackers remain unknown.
The mine has been the site of arson, roadside attacks and blockades since operations began in the 1970s.
Langsa, Indonesia Sharia police in Aceh, the only Indonesian province to practise the Islamic law, caned a homeless "punk" couple nine times Friday after they were caught having pre-marital sex in public.
Around 100 people in the town of Langsa watched and cheered when Shariah police in green-and-black hoods caned the 21-year-old woman and her 23-year-old boyfriend, along with 11 others convicted of gambling.
"Those kids are punks. They were caught having sex by the public and were arrested by Shariah police," Langsa prosecutor's office head Putra Masduri said.
Masduri said the couple were often seen loitering on the streets dressed as punks, however they dressed in traditional white Islamic clothing for their caning.
Although they were arrested for pre-marital sex, their punishment comes amid a crackdown on punks in the province, in which police have raided cafes and parks to detain youths contributing to what authorities call a "social disease."
In December, more than 60 young punk fans were detained at a concert and forced to undergo a 10 day "moral rehabilitation" camp run by police.
The youths had their hair cut or shaved, and were forced to bathe in a lake, wear conservative clothes, and pray, provoking a flurry of criticism from human rights groups and punk fans around the world.
Aceh, on the northernmost tip of Sumatra island, adopted partial Shariah law in 2001 as part of a special autonomy package aimed at quelling separatist sentiment.
Only Muslims can be charged under Shariah law, although the non-Muslim community is expected to follow some of the rules out of respect.
Nearly 90 percent of Indonesia's 240 million people are Muslims, but the vast majority practise a moderate form of Islam.
Nurdin Hasan, Banda Aceh Newly elected Aceh governor Zaini Abdullah, on Tuesday vowed to make stability and the economy his priorities during his time in office.
"We will strengthen peace across Aceh, and we will also work to improve the local economy to create prosperity and greater welfare for the Aceh people," Zaini said just a few minutes after Aceh's Independent Election Commission (KIP) declared him and running mate Muzakir Manaf as the governor- and vice governor-elect.
Zaini, 72, is a former foreign affairs minister for the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) who lived in exile overseas before a peace treaty between the government and the now-defunct rebel group was signed in 2005. He also served as the right-hand man to GAM founder Teungku Hasan Ditiro.
Muzakir, 46, is the former commander-in-chief of the Aceh State Army, the GAM's military wing). Their ticket was backed by Aceh Party, a local party formed by former GAM guerillas that won the majority of seats in Aceh's 2009 legislative election.
"We will try to cut poverty rates in Aceh because it's quite high, although Aceh received quite a lot of money not only from its status as a special autonomous province, but also from overseas grants," Zaini said.
To improve the people's welfare, Zaini said he would focus on the agricultural, plantation and fisheries sectors due to their large financial potential.
"Aceh has huge natural resources, so it is really strange to see that the poverty rate is quite high," the governor-elect said, adding that he would create a clean and uncorrupted government and improve the discipline of state employees.
"Our main goal is to eradicate corruption, or at least minimize it. So, we will try to improve the bureaucracy by cutting red tape to accelerate development in Aceh."
Zaini also said that he would fight to implement all the points in the Helsinki Memorum of Understanding to create a prosperous Aceh that remains a part of the Unitary State of the Indonesian Republic. "All this time the rules were only lip service, because in practice they went against the Islamic Shariah which as adopted by the Acehnese," he said.
The Shariah law that has been adopted by Aceh was a gift from former President Abdurrahman's era that seemed to be laced with political intention to give the impression to the international community that the Acehnese were extremists and fundamentalists, he said.
"Islam in Aceh should follow the Koran and Hadith. Therefore, a full awareness is needed so that Islam can return to where it was during the Sultan Iskandar Muda era," the governor-elect said.
"What's the point of cutting hands of 100 or 200 people? The devil will always be around to meddle with people's minds. So, we will enhance the Islamic education on the young Aceh generation so that they can tell the difference between right and wrong."
Zaini said he planned to invite all the ulema in Aceh to draft a Shariah law that was acceptable to all Acehnese, the Indonesian people in general and the international community.
"Aceh has long adopted moderate Islam. Therefore, we will adopt the Islamic Shariah that's in line with the Koran and Prophet Muhammad's hadiths," he said.
Zaini also promised to ask all gubernatorial candidates who were defeated in the election to join him in rebuilding Aceh.
Hotli SImanjuntak, Banda Aceh A return to the polls in at least five of the 17 regencies and municipalities across Aceh is being demanded to address claims of "cheating" in the April 9 election.
The five regions are Banda Aceh, Lhok Seumawe, Southeast Aceh, Central Aceh and West Aceh.
In Banda Aceh, a group of people staged a rally in front of the Independent Election Commission (KIP) building on Monday, demanding new mayoral elections and claiming to have uncovered widespread cheating committed during this month's election.
"The election, as we saw it, was full of basic mistakes that caused many voters to be unable to give votes," protester Mustafa Ali said.
Mustafa claimed that only 50 percent of voters were allowed to vote, while the rest could not because their names were not on the list of eligible voters. He claimed that they were not on the list as they simply were not registered by authorities, not because they refused to vote.
At the same time, he added, many of those on the list were already dead. "In other cases, voters received two invitations to cast votes," he said.
Other anomalies, according to Mustafa, included mayoral candidates casting votes on behalf of others by saying the voters were too sick to do so themselves. In another case, subdistrict administration officers were found with the team of one candidate.
"Weak control during the silent week have led some candidates to commit silent campaign through social events such as distributing jilbab [headscarves] to the people," he said.
The perceived weaknesses of the election body in Banda Aceh when conducting the election were considered violations, which were committed structurally, systematically and massively, that later led to disappointment over the result of the mayoral election.
"This accounts for why we firmly say 'no' to the result of the Banda Aceh election and urge that another election is conducted because the election was not conducted democratically," Mustafa said.
Separately, the KIP in Banda Aceh called for those unsatisfied by the result of the election to prepare strong evidence on any alleged violation committed during the election.
"We are ready to have another election at anytime whenever there is a court ruling saying that the election process that we have conducted, according to the prevailing regulations, was illegitimate," Banda Aceh KIP chairman Aidil Azhari said.
Aidil said that the KIP was subject to the law on regional elections as the institution that conducted the election in Banda Aceh. He added that another election would not be possible unless there was a court order saying that the election in a particular region was illegitimate.
"If you bring us that sentence tomorrow, we will have the new election right after, at the same day," Aidil said in response to the protesters' demands. Mawardi Nurdi, alongside running mate Iliza Saadudin, has been declared the winner of the election in Banda Aceh, receiving 37,598 or 43 percent of the total votes.
In Southeast Aceh, a similar protest demanding another election led to the local KIP office being set alight by supporters of regency candidate Irawan and his running mate Yudi Candra, as well as supporters of the Karim Cukup and Nurhayati Sahali pair of candidates.
In Central Aceh, the local legislative council has also issued a recommendation for another election in its bid of appeasing those who were considered to have been disadvantaged by alleged cheating.
Muhammad Nazar, one of a number of candidates running for the Aceh governorship, was surprised when he was informed that he had barely gathered 8 percent of total votes in the unofficial "quick counts" in Monday's election.
The former deputy governor and popular student activist said he suspected foul play, although the Independent Election Committee (KIP) will only release the official results this week. The unofficial tallies were disclosed on the evening of the elections.
Nazar was nominated by the Democratic Party, the United Development Party (PPP) and local party SIRA, or Independent Voice of the Acehnese. They had earlier calculated that he could potentially raise about 30 percent support from over 3.2 million eligible voters because he had organized around 250,000 campaign team members from all political parties that supported him.
"I am not boasting, but logically, I would collect more votes from my parties' constituents as well as their families. I don't know why this has happened," Nazar said.
Nazar previously headed the original SIRA Information Center of the Acehnese which in 1999 held a phenomenal rally in Banda Aceh, demanding a referendum. The rally followed the decision under the governance of former president B.J. Habibie to allow Timor Leste to hold their own popular vote to decide whether to separate from or remain within the Republic of Indonesia.
Following the announcement of the election's unofficial count, Nazar raised allegations that security authorities pretended they were ignorant of the possibility that his witnesses for voting day failed to show up, saying they were intimidated by rival parties.
Hundreds of his witnesses for Monday's election had resigned from Nazar's team, citing concerns about the safety of their families. Police have yet to thoroughly resolve the incidents of violence and mysterious killings that had occurred since October, which have been linked to tension ahead of the election.
In the hours after Monday's voting, two separate quick counts were held by Citra Publik Indonesia (Indonesian Public Image, CPI) with the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) and by Lingkaran Survey Indonesia (Indonesian Survey Institute also known as LSI).
The counts differed only slightly, but showed the same ranking: the pairing of Zaini Abdullah-Muzakir Manaf, with supporters based in the former Free Aceh Movement (GAM), was leading with around 55 percent.
According to the CPI-LSI survey, they were followed by the Irwandi Yusuf-Muhyan Yunan team with 30.05 percent; Muhammad Nazar-Nova Iriansyah with 7.82 percent; while both surveys also showed that Darni Daud-Ahmad Fauzi was in fourth position with under 4.5 percent and T. Ahmad Tajudddin-Suriansyah finished last with under 4 percent.
The surveys were held in and around 300 polling stations, a small sample from a total of 17,000 polling stations throughout the province.
Similarly, Irwandi immediately reacted to the quick count, blaming intimidation of his supporters perpetrated by his rivals. "I will accept any result of this election as long as it is fair. Unfortunately, I found many unfair efforts including intimidation from my competitors," former Aceh governor Irwandi said.
He said that the rivals' supporters came to residents houses and intimidated them into voting for candidate number 5 meaning his fellow former GAM executives, Zaini Abdullah and running mate Muzakir Manaf. Witnesses for Irwandi's camp were also threatened, according to Irwandi's group. Irwandi has raised concerns about intimidation several times in the past.
Another candidate, Darni Daud, refused to comment on his predicted loss, saying he is still waiting for the final results from the election committee. "Indeed, I also received threats, but we still review the entire process comprehensively," said Darni, who registered as an independent candidate.
Both Nazar and Irwandi agreed that the 2012 election process was worse than the 2006 gubernatorial election; the first since the 2005 Helsinki Peace Agreement.
"People were under pressure and we failed to develop real democratization [in the current election]," Nazar said, adding that observers had also failed to supervise elections to guarantee that they would be fair. He said that he would wait for the final results before considering his next actions. "I agree that we should do something if there were cases of violence during the election," he said.
On the contrary, Irwandi has already declared his intentions to file complaints with the Constitutional Court (MK) once he has gathered the necessary evidence. "We will ask the MK to revoke the election results in Aceh because the process was not fair. We will ask for a new election to be held in Aceh," Irwandi said.
Ifdhal Kasim, the chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) shed light upon several cases of intimidation that allegedly occurred during campaigns and ahead of voting day on April 9.
"Overall, the election in Aceh was smooth and peaceful, but the fact is incidents of intimidation did occur during campaigns and several days before Election Day," Ifdhal said.
It may turn out to be a difficult job, however, to find evidence to support allegations that people were intimidated into voting for certain candidates or face the threat of bloodshed all over again. "People will be afraid to come forward as witnesses claiming that they were intimidated. Many Acehnese are still in trauma," Ifdhal said.
1. Reports of intimidation during campaign and before voting on April 9;
2. Lack of privacy in voting and ballot casting still visible from outside ballot booths;
3. Unregistered voters leading to questions over the legitimacy of voting rights;
4. Absence of polling stations at hospitals and prisons;
5. Incomplete witnesses for all candidates.
On last Monday, voters in Aceh went to the polls to elect a governor, a deputy governor and 17 mayors and regents. It was only the second gubernatorial election in the province since the peace accord between the government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) separatist insurgency was signed in 2005.
On Tuesday, one contender former governor Irwandi Yusuf, whose term expired in February before delays prompted the poll to be postponed said he would file a complaint alleging electoral fraud with the Constitutional Court. Unofficial quick counts named Irwandi's rival and former GAM foreign minister Zaini Abdullah as the winner. Nani Afrida of The Jakarta Post filed the following reports.
Reconciliation will be priority of the election's eventual victor; during the campaign, all candidates pledged to pursue peace in this former land of war and destruction.
A day after a peaceful election day, a magnitude-8.5 earthquake jolted the province, evoking memories of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2004. Thankfully, frightened people in Aceh had nothing to fear.
The months before the voting were colored by apprehension; the assailants who killed innocent bystanders and election supporters remain unknown. Residents have been especially worried since the main contenders for governor and their respective supporters were members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).
Along with the mysterious violent incidents, a protracted legal battle involving the contending parties delayed the election four times.
The Supreme Court finally ruled that Irwandi Yusuf could run on an independent ticket, despite a lawsuit from the Aceh Party that said that this violated the Aceh Governance Law, which allowed independent candidates to run only in the province's first local elections after the Helsinki agreement. Irwandi sailed into the campaign with confidence, relying on his record as the first governor after the war and the 2004 disaster, and popular programs like free health services.
However, hours after voting on Monday, an unofficial quick count by the Indonesian Public Image (CPI) and the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) named Zaini Abdullah as the winner with 54.15 percent of the vote. Irwandi was second with 30.05 percent. Another quick count by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) had higher results for Zaini, with 55.68 percent and lower figures for Irwandi, with 28.58 percent.
While the official results are expected next week, Irwandi immediately declared plans to challenge the results with the Constitutional Court, suggesting that his rivals, mainly the Aceh Party, which nominated Zaini and running mate Muzakir Manaf, GAM's last commander, were involved in foul play.
Some voters expressed disappointment, with one saying that a government dominated by former GAM members may fare worse than an administration run by Irwandi. His former deputy was a popular student activist and his current running mate, Muhyan Yunan, has experience in government as head of a local public works agency.
Nevertheless, Zaini, a GAM negotiator during the talks that resulted in the Helsinki agreement, said if he became governor he would focus on peace and prosperity in Aceh. Unemployment remains high among former freedom fighters. Recent violence raised suspicions that many of them retained their pistols and rifles in contravention of what was decided in Helsinki
"Maintaining peace and security are our utmost goals... I plan to forge a reconciliation with the defeated parties so that they can also contribute to Aceh's development," Zaini told The Jakarta Post. The appeal of his nomination relied on a combination of support from the older generation of GAM and the younger generation of Achenese represented by Muzakir.
"I voted for them because I know Zaini will reunite all Acehnese who are now divided due to different interests," Teungku Cut Kafrawi, a former spokesperson of GAM in Peureulak, East Aceh, said. "Zaini is wise and has experience. He will think longer before taking certain action," Teungku added.
GAM's elite and its rank-and-file members parted ways in 2006, supporting different candidates in the governor's race. Former fighters voted for Irwandi, saying that the former intelligence chief, though from the elite, had experience in battle that they respected. However, Irwandi failed to bridge the gap between the factions.
In several interviews, Irwandi said that he tried to invite those candidates who lost in the 2006 election to join, but they seemed hesitant. "Irwandi is busy with money and himself. We hope Zaini will accommodate the Acehnese people better," Taufik, a former combatant, said, adding that there was much to be done to implement the Helsinki accords.
Some sources were reluctant to mention basic issues, such as the integration of former freedom fighters into society, instead mentioning unresolved symbolic issues, such as the provincial flag, hymn and mascot. "We gave enough time to Irwandi. Now let's appoint a new leader. If Zaini fails to realize the [accord] like Irwandi, we will select another new leader," Taufik said.
Another resident, Abdurrahman Hasan, 34, from Nisam, North Aceh, said he was pragmatic about the election. "I want the election process to finish soon. If we don't vote for Zaini, we might be in trouble as this district was a former GAM stronghold," he said. "We're voting for the best candidate who can maintain peace," he said.
A peace might be achieved between Zaini, the acting governor and the Aceh Legislative Council, currently headed by his brother, Hasbi Abdullah. Hasbi's party occupies 33 seats of the council, as well as on the councils of several regencies such as Pidie, North Aceh, East Aceh and Bireuen.
This year, the Aceh Legislative Council is prioritizing consideration of 21 local regulations (qanun), including those related to implementing the Helsinki accord.
It was reported that Irwandi had refused to sign three bylaws: One that would have declared the late leader of Aceh's independence movement, Hasan Tiro, the province's eternal guardian; a regulation allowing execution by stoning for convicted adulterers and a third regulation on local elections. Irwandi's resistance created much tension between the council and Irwandi.
T. Kemal Pasya, an expert on Aceh, said the relations with the council would improve if Zaini became governor. "The rumor about nepotism is not suitable for this case, because both Zaini and Hasbi were elected by the people," Kemal said.
Other legislative parties at the provincial and local level, such as the Democratic Party, the United Development Party (PPP), the National Mandate Party (PAN), and the Golkar Party, can provide as checks and balances despite the Aceh Party's dominance of local legislature, he said.
The ability of the election winner to bring about peace and clean governance is therefore vital to outsiders, apart from residents.
"Clean and good governance will reduce illegal levies for investors," Zaini said. Trust building, he added, "is necessary to attract investors."
Rizky Amelia, Ezra Sihite & Novianti Setuningsih President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party called Friday's verdict in the corruption case of its former treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin fair and appropriate.
Indonesia Corruption Watch, however, slammed the four-year, 10-month prison term handed down to the former lawmaker, saying it was far too lenient for such a high-profile graft convict.
Emerson Yuntho of the ICW said the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court should have jailed Nazaruddin for seven years, as demanded by prosecutors, or more.
"According to the ICW's records, there are many cases where convicts get sentences higher than those demanded by the prosecutors [at the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court]," Emerson told the Jakarta Globe.
"But the judges seemed to simply follow the pattern of most judges, handing down a sentence that was only two-thirds of the prosecutors' demand."
Democratic Party officials said they were pleased that the court had not connected the bribes received by Nazaruddin with the party's 2010 congress in Bandung, where Anas Urbaningrum was elected party chairman.
Amir Syamsuddin, the justice and human rights minister, who is on the party's board of patrons, said the court had made its decision independently. He lauded the judges for dismissing what he called Nazaruddin's irrelevant accusations against the party. "It was a fair trial," he said.
Nazaruddin's arrest and trial have given a black eye to the president and the Democrats, with surveys showing both suffering dips in popularity.
He was a rising star in the president's party until it all came crashing down last year as he fled the country following the emergence of graft allegations. He was convicted of taking about $500,000 to help a construction company to win a contract to build the athletes' village for the Southeast Asian Games last year.
The party's deputy chairman, Sutan Bhatoegana, said they were satisfied with the verdict. "From the beginning we trusted and respected the judges," he said." Hopefully this can be a lesson for Nazaruddin and won't hurt the public's sense of justice."
"[The sentence] is sufficient," he added. Nazaruddin has repeatedly said he provided money to help Anas win the party chairmanship at the Bandung congress.
Yulianis, former vice director of Nazaruddin's Permai Group, supported her former boss's claim, saying Rp 30 billion ($3.3 million) and $5 million were provided to the Democratic Party to help fund the congress.
She said $3 million came from donations while the rest, Rp 30 billion and $2 million, came from the Permai Group. The $3 million, she said, was received by Nazaruddin's driver and one of his staff members. The money was later kept in the office of Nazaruddin's wife, Neneng Sri Wahyuni.
Yulianis was adamant that the money was intended to help fund the congress, though Nazaruddin claimed at the same hearing that it was to help Anas win the party's chairmanship during the congress. In its verdict, however, the court dismissed the claims, saying the congress had nothing to do with the SEA Games scandal.
Democratic Party lawmaker Gede Pasek Suardika said the court's verdict was evidence that there was no corruption involved in the congress. "It has been proven that the congress had nothing to do with the SEA Games case," he said.
Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng, who has been named by Nazaruddin and other witnesses as having received bribes, said the party accepted the court's verdict.
The ICW demanded that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) quickly continue with its investigations into other cases involving Nazaruddin. "And the KPK should have no doubt now about following up names that Nazaruddin implicated during his trial," Emerson said.
Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta Disgruntled Golkar party politicians have spoken out against Aburizal Bakrie's apparent move to silence opposition within his party ahead of a national meeting to ensure he is named the party's presidential candidate to contest the 2014 election.
Golkar Party executive Zainal Bintang cited the party's decision to bring forward a leadership meeting from October to July as an example of Aburizal's plan to stunt democracy within the party.
"The decision to bring forward the meeting was taken only by two-thirds of the party's provincial leaders without the involvement from leaders from the local branches. The local leaders should be consulted in any decision- making process because they have equal rights. I call on the party elites, as well as other central board members, to uphold democracy within the party," Zainal said on Thursday.
He said that by setting a new date for the meeting, the camp of Aburizal had disregarded calls from the party's grass roots.
"For neglecting the democratic process, the party elites must face any consequences in the future for unilaterally nominating Aburizal Bakrie as the party's sole presidential aspirant. We believe this will aggravate the rift within the party," Zainal said. Another senior party member Yorrys Raweyai accused several party elites with close ties to Aburizal of being incompetent.
"These people don't understand how to run an organization. Their ignorance has obviously sparked friction between the party's members," he said.
Aburizal had earlier announced that he would organize a national leadership meeting three months ahead of schedule to garner more support for his candidacy as the party's sole presidential candidate.
He had expressed his preference for a leadership meeting, which would be easier to control, instead of holding a convention, which would allow other senior politicians in the party to compete with him.
Former Golkar chairman Akbar Tandjung has questioned the decision, saying that Aburizal should have consulted the party patron board. Akbar is chairman of the patron board.
Separately, party central board member Firman Subagyo called on all members to get behind the party's decision to support Aburizal's candidacy, or face sanctions.
"The decision to bring forward the leadership meeting, for example, was proposed and agreed by most of the leaders of the provincial branches, which makes it a party decision. The party rules and regulations stipulate that approval for such decision should only be given by provincial leaders instead of leaders from the municipal level. For this reason, they should not oppose the decision," Firman said.
"Once the leadership meeting officially approves Aburizal as the party's presidential candidate, all members must abide by the decision or they will face penalties. The penalties could range from reprimands to dismissals from the party," Firman added.
University of Indonesia political analyst Iberamsjah criticized Golkar's attempt to unite the party members by force only for the sake of Aburizal's nomination as presidential candidate.
"Excluding the party's grassroots leaders from making the decision and penalizing those who disobey the decision is unethical because it is against the basic principle of democracy. Political parties, including Golkar, are supposed to put a premium on democracy. Golkar must examine its regulation if it contradicts democratic values," he said.
He cited holding a convention instead of organizing a stage-managed leadership meeting as an example of the party failing to properly implement democratic principles.
"Aburizal has obviously chosen to turn up his nose at democracy by organizing the leadership meeting. For me, this reflects his fear of other potential figures within the party, such as former vice president Jusuf Kalla and Akbar.
"I think Aburizal is aware that both figures are more popular among grassroots politicians. This may be the reason why Golkar's elites excluded the grassroots leaders from making such a strategic decision."
Jakarta Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) patron Taufiq Kiemas considered the latest survey result, which stated that 18 percent of the surveyed audience would vote for his wife PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, as unimpressive.
"As both a husband and party cadre, I am not impressed with that number. Since 2004, Megawati has always reached an 18 percent popularity rate. PDI-P cadres should find ways to boost it to at least 30 percent," he said as quoted by kompas.com.
According to Taufiq, his wife's popularity rate was unimpressive compared to Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party chairman Prabowo Subianto, Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
"Yudhoyono, aside from his many critics, still managed to get a 25-30 percent electability rate. Meanwhile, Prabowo and Aburizal have already reached 17-18 percent of the rate despite their new leadership," he said. (asa/dic)
Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta Several leaders from Golkar's regional branches have warned party chairman Aburizal Bakrie of the growing opposition from within the party to his intention to become the party's presidential aspirant.
Muntasir Hamid, chairman of the Forum for Golkar's Regency and Municipal Functionaries, said he had received many complaints from fellow functionaries in the regions who were not happy with Aburizal's presidential bid.
Muntasir said the forum had set up a special team to monitor Aburizal's activities including his recent road show to several regions. "Disappointed with the way in which Aburizal leads Golkar, many have expressed their objections to his presidential bid," he told a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday.
According to Muntasir, Aburizal recruited incompetent members to sit on the party's executive board following his win in Golkar's 2009 chairmanship race in Pekanbaru, Riau. "Why did he forget the many people who had contributed to the party?" he asked.
Muntasir, who chairs Golkar's municipal chapter in Banda Aceh, said many party members and lawmakers were also disappointed with Aburizal's decision to appoint Setya Novanto as chairman of the Golkar faction at the House of Representatives. They claimed Setya had no leadership capacity. His only achievement, they said, was in organizing the recent celebration of the faction's anniversary.
Abdul Kadir Talessi, chairman of the party's regency chapter on Buru Island, North Maluku, questioned Aburizal's claim that he had secured political support from most functionaries in the 33 provinces and 524 regencies and municipalities.
He said many provincial and regional party functionaries recently went to Aburizal's residence in Menteng, Central Jakarta, not to declare their support for his presidential nomination but to convey their condolences after his mother passed away.
Muntasir and Abdul also questioned Aburizal's move to bring forward a leadership meeting during which he would declare his presidential nomination. They said he would not gain the necessary political support due to the degree of disappointment among local functionaries.
"The sooner the special leadership meeting is held, the sooner Aburizal will meet strong opposition," Muntasir said, adding many Golkar members were ashamed with the party's instruction to Golkar lawmakers to spend Rp 10 million (US$1,090) on bags with Aburizal's picture on them.
The chairman of Golkar's patron board, Akbar Tandjung, also questioned Aburizal's claim of party support for his presidential nomination, adding that this issue had not been discussed by the patron board.
Akbar challenged Aburizal to hold a presidential convention to show whether his nomination won support from the executive board and most provincial and regional chapters. "The internal convention is a democratic tradition the party should maintain to seek its presidential hopeful," he said.
Akbar, Agung Laksono and Jusuf Kalla are three of the many influential figures and many other senior figures who made great contributions to the party but were not given any role.
Jakarta Several residents of West Jakarta have complained of annoying pictures of the Jakarta governor candidates Hidayat Nurwahid and his running mate Didik J. Rachbini posted on their properties.
Erik, 35, a resident of Cengkareng said the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician's supporters attached many pictures of Hidayat-Didik in his neighborhood in the past three days.
"We realized that his posters and stickers were attached on our properties after waking up in the morning. Presumably, his supporters done this in the early hours while we were sleeping," Erik said as quoted by beritajakarta.com.
Meanwhile, Daud, 40, said that the supporters failed to ask permission from the residents. He said that the residents complained that the posters had made their neighborhood look cluttered.
An official from the West Jakarta's District security officer, Kadiman Sijintak, said his office had yet to receive the complaints. "However, we will verify the news first before we do something about it," he said.
The gubernatorial election is slated to commence on July 11.(ued)
Jakarta Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) urged lawmakers on Tuesday to revise the 2004 Law on regional administration, claiming that loopholes within the regulation have triggered rampant money politics.
According to ICW, the current law does not limit the amount of campaign funds regional leader candidates can spend.
"We assume that the regulation has enabled candidates to buy public votes to win the election. Once elected, they have this tendency to repay themselves by exploiting the local budget," ICW coordinator Danang Widoyoko said in a statement.
According to Home Ministry data, 173 local leaders have been summoned since 2004 by law enforcers for questioning in graft cases. According to Danang, about 70 percent of regional heads had been found guilty of embezzlement.
"This phenomenon will reduce public confidence in the government in the future," the activist said as quoted by kompas.com. (asa/swd)
Agus Maryono, Banyumas Debts of billions of rupiah to fund political campaigns are being blamed for corruption among regents and mayors across the country, with many owing money to a wealthy property developer who claims to hold the land certificates of a dozen leaders for "collateral".
With their salaries ranging from Rp 10 million (US$1090) to Rp 15 million a month, it would be impossible for a regent or mayor to pay such debts, according to political science expert Ahmad Rofik of Jenderal Soedirman University in Purwokerto.
"It is almost certain that corruption will be the common path taken by regional heads to pay for their debts," Rofik told The Jakarta Post in Banyumas, Central Java, on Monday.
He said that their lack of fear in borrowing money from investors could be seen as an indication that they would play with administration budgets once they were elected. The methods, Rofik said, could range from spending the budget as they wish or by streamlining the approval of a number of projects to particular investors.
Budhi Sarwono, a contractor at a national level popularly known as Win Chin, said that many regents in Central Java borrowed money from him to fund their campaigns. "There are at least 12 of them whose land certificates are still kept here in this house's safe deposit box as collateral," Win Chin recently said at his home in Banjarnegara, Central Java.
He said that, on average, regents borrowed more than Rp 2 billion from him. "Some have paid off the debt. Some have not, although they have been in their posts for five years. Some were not elected, so they cannot pay for their debt," he said.
Win Chin has shown a list naming the regents indebted to him to local media, along with a list of what collateral they provided to him. "How can they create wealth for their people if they themselves are in debt? It's their own fault if they later commit corruption," he said.
The Home Ministry has recently revealed that at least 173 regional leaders across the country were involved in misappropriation of administration budgets between 2004 and 2012. Of them, 70 were found guilty and dismissed from their posts.
The Central Java Corruption, Collusion and Nepotism Eradication and Investigation Committee (KP2KKN) also recently revealed that 23 of the province's 35 regents and mayors were corrupt. The latest alleged case culminated in the arrest of Semarang Mayor Soemarmo by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in Jakarta.
In West Java, Governor Ahmad Heryawan on Monday handed over a letter dismissing Subang Regent Eep Hidayat, sent from the home minister, to acting regent Ojang Sohandi.
Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi dismissed Eep following his Supreme Court conviction for embezzlement worth Rp 2.5 billion from the regency's 2005- 2008 property tax collection fees.
A similar letter dismissing Bekasi Mayor Mochtar Mohammad was also given to acting mayor Rachmat Effendi, after the former was jailed for a variety of corrupt acts totalling Rp 5.5 billion.
"The law obligates both the Bekasi municipal and Subang regency legislative councils to hold plenary sessions to dismiss the heads of their respective regions and propose the installation of the acting mayor and regent as mayor and regent," Ahmad said, after handing over the letters at his office's compound in Bandung.
Responding to Eep's dismissal, Ojang said the appointment of a new regent was the authority of the Subang legislative council. "The letter does not directly appoint me as regent but as acting regent."
Ezra Sihite Responding to questions about Aburizal Bakrie's chance to win 2014 presidential election, the Golkar Party says its own recent survey shows its chairman's electability continues to rise.
The latest survey conducted by the party showed that the business tycoon trailed only Prabowo Subianto, the founder of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), Golkar secetary general Idrus Marham said on Monday.
"It's close. Pak Ical [Aburizal] gets 16 percent while Prabowo gets 17 percent," he said. The survey results boost party's members confidence to fully support Aburizal, Idrus said.
On Saturday, Aburizal reiterated his readiness to become Golkar's presidential candidate in 2014 election. Some senior Golkar members, however, are resisting Aburizal's candidacy, expressing fear that he is unknown to the majority of grassroots voters.
Former Justice and Human Rights Minister Andi Matalatta expressed doubt that party officials in the regions supported Aburizal's candidacy. He also criticized the party officials' declaration of Aburizal as the party's sole candidate for 2014 without getting input from voters at the regional level.
Recently, Akbar Tandjung, the chairman of Golkar's central leadership board, also questioned the party's hasty decision to name Aburizal as the sole candidate, saying that the party was moving too quickly.
He said that former party chairman Jusuf Kalla, an ex-vice president, should be considered as a good candidate. "Surveys show that J.K. would do pretty well," he said. "This is something we need to discuss first. We can't just ignore what the surveys say about J.K. After all, he repeatedly said he would be up for it."
On Monday, another Golkar senior politician questioned the surveys in general. "Pak Ical has said that the party's presidential candidate will be determined by surveys. However, I haven't heard of a mechanism to determine what kind of surveys we will use as a benchmark," said Hajriyanto Y. Thohari, the deputy speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR).
He argued that internal surveys could not determine whether Aburizal was popular enough to win the election.
Idrus dismissed suggestions that the party was not united behind Aburizal. "We've done the survey and he's coming on top," he said. Idrus said Aburizal's electability would continue to increase as the party intensified campaign efforts at the local level.
"Party officials will travel down to the villages. Right now, we are focusing on villages in Central Java. After these programs, we will hold another survey," he said.
Golkar launched a campaign fund-raiser of sorts last week, requiring its members at the House of Representatives to spend Rp 10 million ($1,110) each on merchandise with Aburizal's face.
The campaign package contains 1,000 plastic bags, T-shirts and banners with Aburizal's face on them as the country's second-biggest party confirmed the chairman's candidacy for the 2014 presidential election.
Each official is required to fill the 1,000 plastic bags with basic commodities, which will be distributed in the region. Several election monitoring groups denounced the move as an early effort to bribe voters.
Ezra Sihite Presidential hopeful Aburizal Bakrie's popularity is growing, Golkar Party officials said on Monday, citing the results of a recent party-backed survey measuring the popularity of presidential candidates.
"We're not being confident without basis. It was an open survey. The result is pretty tight; but Pak Ical [Aburizal] is improving. He last finished at 16 percent, while Prabowo at 17 percent," Golkar secretary-general Idrus Marham said on Monday in Jakarta.
Business typcoon Aburizal, Prabowo, a retired Army general and son-in-law of Soeharto, and former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) are among the potential candidates for Indonesia's 2014 presidential election.
The Golkar Party said they were currently testing Aburizal's popularity in Central Java. "We're now going down streets of Central Java villages every week; our central board of executives are also taking part with this [campaign], and we'll conduct other surveys," Idrus said.
The party has yet to announce Aburizal's running mate. "We're still focusing on the presidential candidate," Idrus said. (BeritaSatu/JG)
Jakarta The Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) praised the recently endorsed Elections Law, saying that the amended legislation carried provisions that could help improve the quality of future elections.
The elections watchdog also said that members of the House of Representatives had done a good job of expediting deliberations on the law.
"We appreciate the effort from lawmakers to endorse the bill on time. Ideally, an elections law should be ready at least two years before the general election takes place," Perludem chairman Didik Supriyanto told The Jakarta Post.
Didik said that part of the problem during past elections was that the amended election law were approved by the House only months before the poll took place.
In the 2004 and 2009 general elections, for example, the House passed new election laws only 13 months before election day, allowing the General Elections Commission (KPU) limited time to prepare. "We hope the KPU can start working without complaining that they don't have enough time," Didik said.
However, critics have called for a review of the amended law. Regional Representatives Council (DPD) member I Wayan Sudirta from Bali encouraged his fellow lawmakers to file a judicial review on the grounds that the amended law violated regional autonomy.
Sudirta said that the mandatory 3.5 percent electoral threshold would drive smaller parties out of the nation's political system.
Meanwhile, Arief Wibowo, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI- P) lawmaker who chaired the committee deliberating the amended law, said he was disappointed that the law adopted an open-list system, revised the electoral threshold and adopted the Hare system of a pure quota vote- counting mechanism.
Political analyst Burhanuddin Muhtadi said the amended law did not offer any progressive measures for Indonesia's political system.
Separately, Perludem said that there was only little of substance in the amended law that the organization could complain about.
Perludem executive director Titi Anggraini said that the law allowed for more time for poll violation complaints to be heard by the Election Supervisory Body (Bawaslu).
"Although we criticized lawmakers for not following the Criminal Codes in determining the [reporting] period, we consider this a step in the right direction," Titi said. The KUHP allows for a six to 12 day grace period before an individual could file a complaint on criminal activities.
However, Perludem said that the law could be subject to further amendment in the future, especially on the issue of campaign financing. Didik said that the amended law only regulated campaign financing for political parties and had no provisions for individually funded campaigns.
"We have an open-list system now, people choose individual candidates instead of political parties. The new law should have covered this," Didik said. The law also set no limit for campaign funding for political parties.
It also accorded the KPU an ambiguous role in resolving poll violations. Under the amended law, the KPU would be allowed to act on poll violations only on Bawaslu's recommendation.
"This is vague. Why should the KPU be given the right to handle complaints and on the other hand they should only follow recommendations from Bawaslu," Titi said.
Contacted separately, the head of the political and international relations department of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Philips J. Vermonte, said the amended law offered no significant breakthroughs.
"The open-proportional electoral system is a continuation from the last election, not something new. I don't see any significant changes, other than the electoral threshold," he said. He said that the ball was now in the hands of the KPU to improve the system.
"The law is too weak to control the candidates, for example. The KPU members should be aware that the cost of politics will be high and it will be prone to money laundering," he said. (fzm)
Ade Mardiyati Despite Raden Ajeng Kartini, Indonesia's pioneering women's right advocate, advancing the cause of feminism in this country, the truth of the matter is that Indonesian women still have a long way to go to truly achieve equality, or even basic safety, on Jakarta's streets.
Some women feel trapped in predetermined social roles that define themselves as objects and possessions, not persons with equal rights.
The trials of modern working women are often complicated by their many responsibilities, such as taking care of their children, fulfilling domestic roles and juggling their careers.
With Kartini Day coming up on Saturday, four Indonesian women spoke with the Jakarta Globe about their thoughts, concerns and hopes for a better life and a better Indonesia.
Here's a snapshot of what those women perhaps a cross-section of Indonesian women in general want from life and their leaders.
I'd like to see more equality for women in this heavily patriarchal society, which would mean reaching the 30 percent quota for women in parliament, providing more access to education for girls and at the same time giving real punishment to men who still think rape is caused by the way women dress.
I'd also like to live in a society where the question "when are you getting married?" is no longer repeatedly asked to 20-something women, as if it's our main goal in life. I'd also love to see more women reaching the top of the ladder in their careers without neglecting their domestic lives. This would entail some support, starting with little things like providing a day-care in office buildings where moms without nannies can bring their children to the office and work without interruption, or to give mothering professionals flexible hours.
Lastly, I'd like to see more resilient women who are no longer trapped in the "Cinderella complex," where we tend to wait for our non-existent knights in shining armor. Aristotle once said that happiness depends on ourselves, and I believe that this ideology still stands the test of time.
As a mother of two young children, with one of my kids in primary school and the other in PAUD [preschool], I am very concerned about tuition fees. At the moment, I don't have to pay for my son's tuition for primary school, but when he gets to junior high school, unless he gets a scholarship, I will have to pay for his fees.
I always think about my children's future and whether or not I can afford it until they at least finish high school. My husband doesn't have a steady job he collects and sells wrecks. Sometimes he takes home money, other times he comes home with empty hands. Today he may earn Rp 500,000 ($55), but then the next two weeks he earns nothing.
So, for me, if I could have one wish granted by the government, it would be for free school until high school is completed. I get frustrated when I think about that, because I believe that education is very important for my children.
Apart from that, my job as a contract-based office assistant also puts me in a difficult position. I don't have access to health insurance and can be terminated at any time without advance notice and without severance pay. I really hope that the government will one day eliminate the contract-based system.
The feeling of security is what really matters for me as a citizen. Unfortunately, it has not happened yet.
I have so many hopes for Indonesia, but I'd like to focus on one thing that I think is most important in our incredibly diverse nation.
The government has to celebrate diversity and must strongly oppose groups who want to impose one narrow set of beliefs on everyone. I think Indonesia's greatest strength is its national slogan "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" ("Unity in Diversity"). Indonesia has amazing diversity and this is a great asset, not a cause for conflict or hatred.
I want the government to allow true religious freedom, where anyone can choose any religion in line with their conscience as long as they don't harm or threaten anyone else. I want [the government] to support and promote true acceptance of all Indonesia's cultures and oppose any attempt to impose ridiculous standards of morality or politeness. At the moment, I sense the government is so afraid of offending vocal hard-line groups that it's failing to protect the rights, beliefs and traditions of many minorities. We're rapidly losing our tolerant and moderate national character, which used to be a tremendous source of pride.
I dream of a time when it is no longer necessary for places of worship to be guarded and checked for bombs. It's tremendously sad that this has become normal.
I simply want to be seen as a subject rather than an object. Why? I once read an article about how we, as women, have to behave ourselves to make our husbands happy, so that they will love us more.
For me, the article was just a joke! Why would we have to do such a thing? We have to know exactly what's best for ourselves and how we can improve our lives, so that others, including our husbands, realize that we have the right to be respected and appreciated as equals.
And if the result of what we've done is other people's happiness, that won't be the main output; it's simply a bonus. What's more important is that we are happy doing it, without worrisome thoughts regarding what other's think. I hope that more women will realize what they truly deserve.
Jakarta Thousands of workers at a garment factory in Tangerang went on strike to demand a Rp 200,000 increase in monthly wages.
"Our wages only ended up being raised by Rp 30,000. That's a meaningless change. It might as well have never happened," said Abdul Rohim, a tailor who has worked at the company, PT Starnesia Garment, for two years.
"As a result of that small wage rise, we're being asked to put together 40 clothes in 30 minutes, instead of the usual 28 in 30," he said on Thursday.
The workers need the higher pay raise so that they can receive Rp 1,529,000 (US$166) per month.
Another worker, Nurbaeti, said that thousands would continue striking until they had their demands fulfilled.
Meanwhile, the management, which has had its wages raised by Rp 900,000, forbade journalists from doing any reporting inside the factory, which makes jackets and trousers, kompas.com reported.
Jakarta The Manpower and Transmigration Ministry announced that it was ready to provide housing subsidies for 1,500 workers throughout Indonesia.
Each of these workers, according to Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar on Thursday, will get Rp 2 million (US$218) in various forms, including cooperative labor subsidies and social security dues, and will only be given to those workers wanting to own a house.
For the cooperative subsidies, the government has prepared additional subsidies to be given to 250 special cooperatives, with Rp 20 million to be given to each co-op. The social security dues will also include money for 8,000 workers who will get Rp 80,000 for the next eight months, the goal of which is to encourage informal sector workers to participate in government social security.
Muhaimin said that housing subsidies for workers had been ongoing since 2008. The goal, he said, was to accelerate housing construction for workers in industrial areas. The ministry is currently verifying the data of workers receiving the subsidies.
Muhaimin is also asking for private companies to assist in building workers' houses.
"The government has arranged for long-term strategic steps to ensure a decent standard of living for workers and laborers living in and around industrial areas," said Muhaimin as quoted by tempo.co.(png)
Arientha Primanita Despite holding a special meeting on Monday to prepare for massive rallies on May Day in Bogor, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono publicly tried to play down the possible demonstration.
A number of labor organizations have vowed to take to the streets across the country on May 1 to voice protests against government's fuel price hike plan and demand better wages for workers.
The May Day protests have ended violently in past years. Some people are saying that this year's protest could be bigger than previous years due to anger over government plans to increase the price of fuel.
Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said Yudhoyono welcomed May Day as a day to celebrate the achievement of the labor movement. "Labor Day is a positive thing, not a day when people do destructive things. It will be celebrated across the world. So, we don't have to prepare measures in anticipation for any rallies," he said.
Plans for the protest also come amid a report over the weekend that Indonesian workers making apparel for London's Olympic Games are being paid as little as Rp 5,000 (55 cents) an hour.
British newspaper The Independent alleged that the clothing being made for the Games was "being manufactured for Adidas in sweatshop conditions in Indonesia, making a mockery of claims by London 2012 organizers that this summer's Games will be the most ethical ever."
The newspaper reported that workers at nine Indonesian factories that had contracts to produce Olympic shoes and clothing for Adidas were working up to 65-hour weeks and earning as little as Rp 5,000 an hour.
The workers who are mainly young women also claimed that they endured verbal and physical abuse, were forced to work overtime and were punished if they failed to reach production targets, the report said. A number of labor organizations said they will use the May Day to voice their demand on raising workers' welfare.
Julian said Yudhoyono had asked Muhaimin Iskandar, the manpower and transmigration minister, to look for ways to boost the welfare of country's labor force. "Workers and businesspeople need each other. So, if there is a dispute, both sides should amicably solve it," he said.
With no more than 80 Borneo pygmy elephants left in Indonesia, the massive clearing of forests to make way for palm oil plantations poses a major threat to the survival of the species, environmentalists warn.
In a statement released on Wednesday, WWF Indonesia said a four-year- survey that concluded last year showed there were only 20 to 80 of the elephants left, all in northern East Kalimantan on the border with Malaysia's Sabah state.
The group warned that the expanding plantations were driving the elephants out of their natural habitat and forcing them into more frequent conflict with villagers in Nunukan district.
Agus Suyitno, WWF's human-elephant conflict mitigation official in Nunukan, said the group was addressing the problem by setting up a task force involving local residents and wildlife officials. "WWF Indonesia calls on the government and the private sector to provide operational support for these task force members so that the conflicts won't escalate," he said.
Anwar Purwoto, WWF's forestry, species and freshwater program director, said forestry and conservation did not have to be mutually exclusive. He cited the case of logger Adimitra Lestari, whose concession covers the pygmy elephant's last major stronghold.
He said WWF had worked with the company over the past two years to practice sound forestry management by only logging in areas the elephants did not visit and leaving the trees that they fed on untouched.
"This," he said, "showcases the real implementation of the green economy, in which business operates without harming endangered species populations."
Apriadi Gunawan, Medan The Gunung Leuser National Park (TNGL) Center said that provincial legislative councillors and private companies were believed to be involved in illegal forest conversion in the park in Langkat regency, North Sumatra.
TNGL Center head Andi Basrul said the forest conversion was believed to have been carried out by the councillors and a number of private firms over a long time. Andi said that his center often encountered difficulties in curbing illegal forest conversion in TNGL due to this situation.
"We often fail to curb the forest conversion because it is backed by North Sumatra legislative councillors. After we conduct an investigation, it turns out that those who have backed the activity own farms in the TNGL," Andi told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
Andi said one of the legislators, allegedly owning rubber farms in TNGL, was from Commission A. He added the lawmaker was known to be quite vocal against the eviction of squatters from the park, on the grounds of unclear park boundaries. Andi said his center had repeatedly explained to the legislators in hearings about the boundaries of TNGL, but they insisted the boundaries were unclear.
"We are ready to have a dialogue with the legislators any time to explain the TNGL boundaries. But it should not be like before when they commented to the media and complicated things further," said Andi.
Andi added that in Langkat regency, the TNGL area spanned 213,000 hectares, 22,100 hectares of which had been illegally converted, as in Sekoci, Sei Minyak and Sei Lepan. "Generally, the areas have been converted into cacao and rubber farms and housing," said Andi, who vowed to destroy the crops in the near future.
Asked who had converted forested areas in the park, Andi said many of them come from private companies, such as PT Bener Meriah (88 hectares) and Inti Rakyat (PIR) ADB plantation (34 hectares).
Andi said his center was currently processing those involved in illegal forest conversion. "In the near future, we will summon all of those who are involved in illegal conversion in TNGL," he said. He added that four suspects had so far been detained for illegal forest conversion.
North Sumatra legislative council Commission A member Ahmad Ihyar Hasibuan, from the Democrat Party, said that no legislators had hampered efforts to curb illegal activities in TNGL. He also denied the allegation by Andi that legislators owned farms in the national park.
"Please show us where the location of the farms are. If he can't prove it, he [Andi] can be sued", Ihyar told the Post on Monday. Ihyar said he and other legislators had raised doubts on the boundaries of TNGL because there had been no accurate explanation from the TNGL Center on the boundaries of community-based production forest areas with TNGL.
Ronna Nirmala The recent uproar about a school textbook with a story about a married man's mistress may have ebbed, but the controversial story is far from the only questionable content found in schoolbooks, teachers said on Friday.
Retno Listyarti, head of the Jakarta Teachers Consensus Forum (FMGJ), described the story "Bang Maman From Kali Pasir" as "just the tip of the iceberg." "There are actually far worse stories in primary school kids' textbooks," she said.
She added that many of the stories in the prescribed textbook for the Jakarta cultural studies class, for students in the first through fifth grades, had themes of violence.
These include depictions of stabbing, hitting, killing, burning and hanging, Retno said. "Is this what Betawi culture is like? Is this what we want our kids to learn? It's a shame if brawn and violence are all there is to Betawi culture," she said.
While the publisher in the "Bang Maman" case has taken much of the flak for the latest controversy, Retno said the blame for the inclusion of such stories in schoolbooks also laid with the government, which drew up the school curriculum.
"So no matter who the publisher is, the content will all be the same because they're writing it to a given standard," she said. The "Bang Maman" story, which the publisher claims to be a Jakarta tall tale, sparked a widespread uproar earlier this month among parents.
The Jakarta Education Office said the book's publisher, CV Media Kreasi, apologized for including the story in the book.
Officials also promised to engage education experts in evaluating the content of textbooks prior to publication, and to draft a regulation banning schools from using books that were not endorsed or examined by such experts.
"We will create regulations for reading materials used in schools, starting at the elementary level and going to high school," Agus Suardika, the deputy head of the education office, said last week.
Dessy Sagita Blackened lungs. Gangrenous feet. Yellowed teeth. Indonesia's cigarette warning labels are about to get a lot nastier.
Government officials announced the new heath warnings after a meeting on the country's new tobacco regulations on Thursday. The warning labels featuring graphic photographs of smoking-related illnesses will be large, covering 40 percent of the packaging, government officials said. Similar health warnings are already standard in countries like Singapore and Thailand.
"Health warnings are considered necessary, so aside from the written warnings, we've agreed on graphic warnings that should cover 40 percent [of cigarette packages] on each side," Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Agung Laksono said in Jakarta on Thursday.
The size of the new warnings was approved after some debate with tobacco companies, Deputy Health Minister Ali Ghufron said. "Other countries indeed have graphic warnings covering 70 and even 80 percent [of their cigarette packages]. For us, it was very difficult to even agree on 40 percent," Ali said.
Ministry officials met in Jakarta on Thursday to hash out the specifics of new regulations aiming to curtail cigarette use in Indonesia. The regulation is still in draft form and new rules on cigarette packaging will likely take a year or two to come into effect, Ali said.
Indonesia has the third-highest number of tobacco consumers in the world after China and India, according to Hasbullah Thabrany, a public health professor at the University of Indonesia. And every year, some 200,000 people die from smoking-related illnesses in Indonesia, according to figures from the United Nations Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
While the new regulations will add large health warnings to cigarette packs, they stop short of reining in Indonesia's lenient rules on cigarette advertising and corporate sponsorship. Cigarette companies will still be able to sponsor concerts and festivals and cigarette ads can still appear in any media, as long as the actual cigarette is not shown.
Antara & Anita Rachman The Constitutional Court on Tuesday annulled an article in the 2009 Health Law which has stopped building owners across the country from providing a special smoking zone.
Anti-tobacco activists earlier filed a judicial review on Article 115 of the law, which they said prevented local administrations from imposing strict sanctions against offices and shopping malls that did not provide a special section to keep the rest of the premises smoke-free.
The article stipulates that offices, malls and other public spaces must have an enclosed smoking zone while places like hospitals, schools and places of worship should be smoke-free entirely.
But the article also says local authorities "can" ensure that such requirements are met by building owners, which the plaintiffs argue could create legal uncertainty in enforcing the law.
Constitutional Court chairman Mahfud M.D. said that the court in its ruling on Tuesday "had granted the plaintiff's motion in its entirety."
Judge Hamdan Zolva told Tuesday's court session that the law was meant to ensure the health of the Indonesian people, including stopping smokers from endangering the health of others. "Therefore, the local government must push for smoke-free areas to be established in working places, public spaces and other areas," Hamdan said.
The court, he said, agreed with the plaintiff's argument that the word "can" in the article had allowed the government to "disproportionately enforce and regulate a special smoking area." But Tuesday's ruling would also have its effect on tougher anti-tobacco provincial regulations.
In 2010, Jakarta issued a gubernatorial decree that prohibited smoking inside all public buildings, threatening business owners with losing their operating permits for failing to comply. With the article revised, building operators in Jakarta will again have to allow people to smoke only in special areas inside their premises.
Arist Merdeka Sirait, chairman of the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas Anak), said the court was not consistent with allowing people to smoke under some conditions.
"If you have told people that tobacco is bad and dangerous, why still let them smoke under certain conditions? It says you can smoke as long as you are not out in public," he said.
Around 200,000 deaths a year result from tobacco-related illnesses in Indonesia, the only country in Asia yet to ratify the United Nations Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The regulation, mandated in Article 116 of the 2009 Health Law, should have been passed by October 2010. But a draft of the regulation is still lingering with the Coordinating Ministry for People's Welfare.
According to data from the University of Indonesia's Demographics Institute, around 70 percent of adult males in Indonesia smoke while the number of female smokers has increased by 300 percent over the last 12 years.
The number of child smokers has increased too, up from 71,000 children aged 10 to 14 found to be smoking in 1995, to 426,000 in 2010, the institute says.
Lax smoking regulations including access for children and limited regulations on advertisements are prominent factors responsible for the increase in young people taking up the habit, activists say.
Apriadi Gunawan, Medan Calls have been aired in Medan, North Sumatra, by the Teacher Eye Drop Community (KAMG) for the government to cancel the National Examinations for good due to its concerns that it is plagued with cheating year after year.
KAMG chairman Abdi Muskarya Saragih said the national exams had been conducted for 10 years and yet they were still not free from cheating, despite calls for the government to curb it.
Abdi said that in North Sumatra alone, cheating had been found in many regions including Medan city and the regencies of Serdang Bedagai, Labuhan Batu and North Tapanuli.
"We have complete evidence of cheating," Saragih told a press conference in Medan on Wednesday. He said the KAMG would send all the evidence to the education minister in its call that the exams be cancelled.
Saragih added that all the evidence had been documented in photos and videos. Among the evidence were leaked answer sheets and text messages containing exam key answers.
Cheating methods, according to Saragih, were generally the same across the province. Students received the exam answers from a person claiming to be a teacher one day prior to the exam.
The answers were bought collectively by students at prices ranging from Rp 10,000 to Rp 75,000 per student per subject. After the students had purchased the answer key, many exam controllers were recorded entering examination rooms late and, thus, not having time to check the students already present inside the room.
"This proves that most of the controllers in North Sumatra are not performing their duties well. They create an impression that students are free to cheat," chairman of KAMG's investigative team, Benny Sinaga, said.
A teacher from Deli Serdang, Resita Lubis, did not deny the fact that there were controllers who deliberately let students cheat while taking the exams.
"When I was a controller two years ago, I was told by the school not to be too strict with students. But I ignored that advice, which perhaps accounts for why I was never asked to be a controller again," said Lubis, who is also a member of the KAMG's supervisory board.
She said she could not guarantee that returning to the previous exam model, known as Ebtanas, would eliminate cheating. "But, if it happens, the credibility of each school will be at stake," she said.
Separately, North Sumatra's examination chairman, Hendrik Siregar, denied the alleged cheating, saying that the exams ran smoothly in the province. "There has been no cheating in North Sumatra," he said on Wednesday.
Reports of cheating have been aired across the country as senior high school students began to take the exams on Monday.
In Jambi, for example, two people who allegedly distributed answer keys to students at the state-run SMA 6 Jambi senior high school have been arrested by police.
Separately in West Lombok regency, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), it seems dozens of students would rather get married than take the exam.
The regency's Education Agency head, Fathurahim, said 15 students did not take the exam, 11 of whom had married prior to the examination. "It's a real concern that they chose to get married rather than take the exam," Fathurahim said.
Meanwhile in Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), 11 students at maritime and marine vocational schools reportedly missed the exam because they were fishing in the province's waters.
Tunggadewa Mattangkilang, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan Family planning authorities are urging the country's highest Islamic authority to declare vasectomies permissible under religious law.
Sugiri Syarief, the head of the National Family Planning Coordinating Board (BKKBN), said that the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI) had recently declared vasectomies haram, and therefore not permissible under Islamic law, at its annual meeting in Padang Panjang, West Sumatra.
"We are currently pushing for the central MUI to come out with a fatwa declaring vasectomy as halal," Sugiri said. But he conceded that so far only the MUI chapters in East Java and the province's Situbondo district had approved the use of vasectomy.
He said that with the blessing from the MUI, the number of men having vasectomies may double. He said that of the 9 million people nationwide who had registered for a government family planning support program, only 1.5 percent were men, and of them only 0.7 percent had had vasectomies.
"The ratio between men and women in family planning is really disparate. One of the constraints in raising the number of male family planning members is the haram fatwa [on vasectomies]," he said.
Vasectomies are a medical procedure that prevent men from releasing sperm.
Sugiri said that Indonesia's population problem was immense, with the number of people growing by about four million each year.
He said that in 2012, the country's population will reach 245 million, up 31 million on a decade ago. The rate of population growth was steeper than in China, whose population of 1.3 billion grew by 73 million people in the past decade.
He said that to help curb population growth, the country's family planning program will seek to raise active members to 28.32 million. "If this target is reached then we are convinced that we can cut down the percentage of the population not receiving family planning services to just 5 percent of fertile couples by 2014," he said.
He estimated that in 2012, there will be 4.5 million pregnant women, and efforts will be made to have all those pregnancies covered by maternity insurance. That would make them new family planning program participants.
The BKKBN, he said, was providing training for 35,000 nurses in the art of inserting and removing intrauterine devices and family planning implants. "Another means is by launching BKKBN TV so that the campaigns of the family planning program can proceed optimally," Sugiri said.
Jufri Yasin, the head of the East Kalimantan provincial chapter of the BKKBN, said that there were 431,338 people participating in the family planning program.
He said that total birth rates in the province had decreased from 4.99 per women in the 1980s to 2.7 per woman now, he said. "We are aiming to further reduce the birth rate to 2.1 per woman by 2014," her said.
He said that to support its program, the provincial chapter has trained 461 nurses and 251 doctors to provide family planning services. It has also trained 425 village heads and 120 public figures as family planning motivators.
Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta The House of Representatives (DPR) Ethics Council has banned lawmaker Ribka Tjiptaning Proletariyati from presiding over any of the House's special committee meetings until 2014 for her unexpected failure.
The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker, who chaired House committee deliberations of the health bill, was deemed responsible for omitting a clause from Article 113 of the bill, which listed tobacco as an addictive substance.
"We conclude that Ribka is guilty and we have informed the PDI-P about our decision. We have sent [Ribka] a warning, reminding her to not repeat similar carelessness in the future. Furthermore, we have also banned her from presiding over any of the House's committee meetings in the future," Ethics Council chairman M. Prakosa told The Jakarta Post in a message on Tuesday.
House Ethics Council deputy chairman Siswono Yudo Husodo said the missing clause was an administrative error. It was not intentionally omitted from the law as Ribka presented it before a plenary session for House approval, he added.
"Ribka is not entirely responsible for the missing clause because she did read the clause aloud when she was presenting the bill before the House during a plenary meeting in 2009. However, the clause was not included in the final draft. We believe there had been unintentional administrative errors, such as typos, during the final process.
"No matter what, she was responsible for the missing clause as she chaired the committee. Banning her from leading any other committees at the House until the end of her term is a way to punish her," he said. He added the "punishment" had been applied since January this year.
University of Indonesia's (UI) demography researcher Abdillah Hasan applauded the House Ethics Council decision to punish Ribka. The missing clause signaled something was wrong with her leadership capacity in deliberating the bill, he said.
Abdillah doubted that the omission of the clause was purely an administrative error, and thus believed that the clause was intentionally omitted from the final draft of the 2009 Health Law.
"I don't believe administrative staff members could be so careless as to make a huge mistake omitting a highly important clause from the law unless they were instructed to do so. I believe the staff members at the House's administrative division are very careful when it comes to the final draft of any laws. For this reason, I believe that the clause was intentionally omitted due to its impacts on interested parties, such as cigarettes producers," he said.
Without the clause stating that tobacco is an addictive substance, Abdillah said, the law was weak in controlling the distribution of tobacco nationwide. Had the clause remained, it would have given a strong legal foundation to curb the production and nationwide distribution of tobacco, the main material in cigarettes.
"Article 46 of the Law on Broadcasting, for example, bans advertisements of all addictive substances. Therefore, the government could have banned cigarettes being advertised nationwide if the 2009 Health Law included tobacco among addictive substances," Abdillah said.
The omission of the clause from the Health Law was first reported by the Coalition for Anti-Tobacco Clause Corruption (KAKAR) last year as it found that the clause went missing several days before the law was endorsed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Michael Victor Sianipar Millions of students across the country have entered what is arguably the most stressful week of their lives so far as national school exams began on Monday.
The heightened anxiety is shared by parents and teachers, who also want to see students pass their exams so they can graduate in two months.
But some education experts argue that the stress and anxiety of this period, and the subsequent pressure to cheat, is unnecessary and should be avoided by scrapping the exams altogether.
Utomo Dananjaya, an education expert at Paramadina University in Jakarta, said the exams had a negative psychological impact on students. "It's wasteful because there's nothing positive that comes out of it," he said. "We spend roughly Rp 667 billion [$72.7 million] a year [to hold the exams], and our children, from elementary to high school, feel threatened by the tests."
Academic evaluation should benefit the students, he added. "Instead of serving the needs of students, the exams have become a menace that will determine their future," Utomo said. "If a student doesn't pass, their future is ruined."
In the past, critics have challenged the exams in court. In 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that the government should improve teacher quality, educational infrastructure and access to knowledge before conducting another nationwide exam.
Utomo said the Ministry of Education and Culture had not made any noticeable improvements since then and should not carry out the national exams until it addressed key deficiencies.
One of the issues is cheating. Although Education Minister Muhammad Nuh has dismissed reports of cheating on the first day of exams, Utomo believes the practice is still happening.
"The exams have undermined character education," Utomo said. "Every time the national exams come around, even the teachers collaborate with their students to get cheat sheets."
High expectations fuel the drive to cheat, he continued. "The government, from the ministers to local mayors, has targeted a 90 percent pass rate. Where does that figure come from? It's impossible to attain that target if everyone's being honest," Utomo said.
"If the target isn't achieved, the teachers get blamed. That's why many teachers are willing to use any means possible to help reach that target."
Darmaningtyas, an education expert from the Taman Siswa school network, agreed that the exams took a heavy psychological toll on students. "Many of them become irrational," he said. "They visit graves or pray to the point of tears, in the hope of performing well. The psychological burden is too heavy. It's better to get rid of the exams altogether.
In place of exams, he proposes two possible substitutes. "If the aim is to standardize education across the nation, then a biannual diagnostic test that doesn't determine graduation is sufficient," he said. "National exams only stoke anxiety without any meaningful purpose."
The other alternative would be an optional test. "For those who wish to compare themselves against other students, they can take this test. Others who consider such tests unnecessary and burdensome can opt out," he says.
These proposals could take years to implement, however, and Darmaningtyas said students now facing stressful exams had no choice but to tough them out. "All we can do is pray that over the next three days our students will be able to finish the tests and graduate successfully in two months," he said.
Dessy Sagita The National Commission for Child Protection will file a class-action lawsuit against the cigarette industry and the government for failing to protect children from smoking.
The lawsuit, to be filed early next month at the Central Jakarta District Court, will name the cigarette industry and the government as defendants.
"We're not suing for material [damages], we're demanding responsibility," Arist Merdeka Sirait, the chairman of the commission known as Komnas Anak, said on Sunday.
"We want the cigarette industry to immediately stop its aggressive advertising and sponsorships," he said. "We're also demanding the government take measures to immediately contain the impact of smoking addiction."
The lawsuit rests on medical records and psychological examinations of children addicted to cigarettes that Komnas Anak has been monitoring.
One of them, Ilham, an 8-year-old boy from Sukabumi, West Java, required a year of intense therapy to recover from his addiction, which started four years ago. "The therapy was difficult for Ilham because he's been an addict for so long," Arist said. "There was a serious change in his behavior."
Whenever he felt the urge to smoke, Arist said, Ilham would become aggressive and self-destructive, banging his head against the wall if he was denied. "He tried to run away five times," Arist said.
Since Ilham started therapy he has improved, and now he's not smoking, Arist said. He's also gained eight kilograms. "In the past he wouldn't eat because he smoked a lot," Arist said. "He only wanted cigarettes and coffee."
Komnas Anak will return Ilham to his home on Thursday. But Arist said he was concerned the boy could relapse. To prevent that from happening, Komnas Anak wants his family and neighbors to quit smoking.
"If the environment is not conducive, Ilham's parents will put him in an Islamic boarding school that is smoke-free," Arist said.
According to data from the University of Indonesia's Demographics Institute, Indonesian teenagers are smoking more than ever before. In 1995 around 71,000 children aged 10 to 14 were smokers, while in 2010 that figure topped 426,000.
Komnas Anak's Lisda Sundari, said the agency was monitoring 20 little boys like Ilham. "They all have the same background," she said. "They come from low-income families where the parents and other members of the community aren't very well educated and are not aware of the dangers of smoking. They see little kids smoking as something cute, even amazing.
"The government is responsible for all this the lack of education, the lack of strict regulations for failing to prevent this from happening."
Rizky Amelia During his time on the run, the lead-up to his trial, and in court, Muhammad Nazaruddin has levelled a litany of allegations about others involved in the corruption scandal for which he was charged and eventually convicted.
The one point about which he was consistent throughout the whole episode was that other high-level Democratic Party officials were just as deeply mired in rigging the bid to build the athletes' village for last year's Southeast Asian Games.
Most prominent among those fingered were party chairman Anas Urbaningrum and legislator Angelina Sondakh, who has since been named a suspect though not detained by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
Anas, Nazaruddin insisted, was the true owner of the Permai Group, the conglomerate behind a string of shell companies that Nazaruddin was accused of using to win government contracts and launder bribes.
He said it was the conglomerate that put up Rp 30 billion ($3.27 million) plus $5 million to help Anas win the party chairmanship during a national caucus in Bandung in 2010, with the money carted from Jakarta.
The former Democrat treasurer also accuses Anas of rigging the bid to build the Rp 1 trillion Hambalang sports center in Bogor in exchange for a 10 percent cut from the winning contractor, which also went toward his campaign in Bandung.
As for Angelina, Nazaruddin claims she was instrumental in rigging the athletes' village contract through her position on the House of Representatives' sports oversight commission. He said she received a cut of Rp 120 million that she then gave to I Gede Pasek, the head of the Democrats' central leadership board, to launder.
Pasek, he alleged, was also the person at the 2010 caucus in charge of handing out bribes to delegates from the Democrats' Bali chapters to vote for Anas.
Jafar Hafsah, the Democrats' former chairman at the House, was not spared by Nazaruddin, who accused him of involvement in the Hambalang project, while Mirwan Amir, the top Democrat at the House Budget Committee, was alleged to have funneled Rp 20 billion to Anas's campaign.
"As a deputy chairman of the Budget Committee, Mirwan got his money from projects. He collected around Rp 100 billion," Nazaruddin said.
One of the few notable Democrats of rank not named by Nazaruddin is Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono, the son of the party's chief patron, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. "I don't want to name people who aren't involved, but I'll tell it like it is," Nazaruddin said.
Novianti Setuningsih & Rizky Amelia With the fate of high-profile graft suspect Muhammad Nazaruddin now decided, after the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court on Friday handed down a prison sentence of four years and 10 months, the next question is what will become of the people he tried to drag down with him during his trial.
Nazaruddin named much of the senior leadership of the ruling Democratic Party, of which he was treasurer, as being complicit in various corruption schemes and just before his sentencing, he dropped his latest bomb.
The deputy chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), Busyro Muqoddas, and his cohorts, Nazaruddin said, are all corrupt. "Cut my ears off if they are not corruptors," Nazaruddin said, without providing details.
Meanwhile, KPK spokesman Johan Budi said the commission could use the verdict to help it unravel the rest of the bribery case surrounding the athletes' village construction project for the 2011 Southeast Asian Games.
"As the leadership of the KPK has said, Nazaruddin's verdict is an opening for the KPK to follow up on the bribery case at the Sports and Youth Affairs Ministry's secretariat," he said.
The verdict, he said, will also help "facilitate the investigation of Mrs. A.S. as a suspect," Johan added, referring to Democratic lawmaker Angelina Sondakh, now a suspect in the same case.
KPK prosecutor Anang Supriyatna said reports that Nazruddin, Youth and Sports Affairs Minister Andi Mallarangeng, ministry secretary Wafid Muharam, lawmaker Mahyuddin and Angelina once met to discuss the Hambalang Stadium project in Bogor were grounds enough for further investigation.
The wife of Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum, Atiyah Laila, has also been mentioned by the KPK as one of the parties allegedly involved in the graft-ridden Hambalang project.
Angelina has denied Nazaruddin's claims that she received up to Rp 10 billion ($1 million) for her role in the project.
The party chairman himself is among the Democratic Party leaders the former treasurer has accused of corruption. Anas, Nazaruddin told prosecutors, was the owner of Permai Group, the conglomerate behind a string of companies used to win government contracts and launder bribes.
Construction company Adhi Karya won the contract for the athletes' village after paying Rp 100 billion to help the Democrats hold a national congress, Nazaruddin said. He said Permai Group chipped in Rp 30 billion and $5 million to help Anas win the party chairmanship in 2010.
He also accused Anas of involvement in graft linked to the Hambalang project. Nazaruddin also said he had sent money to Ahmad Mubarok to finance a foundation the senior Democrat had established.
The Democratic Party's deputy secretary, Saan Mustofa, was also accused of taking money in the Hambalang project, while the party's deputy chairman, I Gede Pasek, was named as the distributor of bribes for the party's leadership.
Another party deputy chairman, Didi Irawadi Syamsudin, and the head of the party in the House, Jafar Hafsah, have also been accused of taking money from the Hambalang project. The deputy head of the House Budget Committee, Democrat Mirwan Amir, was also said to have contributed Rp 20 billion from project "fees" he had levied to Anas's election campaign team.
Nazaruddin has also accused former Constitutional Court chief judge Jimly Asshiddiqie and the court's secretary general, Janedjri M. Gaffar, of graft linked to the construction of the court's building.
Nazaruddin's wife, Neneng Sri Wahyuni, is also wanted on graft charges, but remains on the run.
Indonesian Corruption Watch immediately criticized the four year and 10 month prison term handed down to Muhammad Nazaruddin on Friday, saying it was far too low for such a high-profile graft convict.
Emerson Yuntho of the ICW said the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court should have jailed the former Democratic Party treasurer for seven years, as demanded by prosecutors, or more.
"According to ICW's records, there are many cases where convicts get sentences higher than those demanded by prosecutors [at the Jakarta Anti- Corruption Court]," Emerson told the Jakarta Globe.
"But, the judges [trying Nazaruddin] seem to simply follow the habit of most other judges, namely handing down a sentence that is only two-thirds of the prosecutors' demand."
The panel of judges presided over by Dharmawati Ningsih said during the Friday hearing that Nazaruddin was proven guilty of receiving five checks worth Rp 4.6 billion ($501,400) in bribes to award firm Duta Graha Indah with the construction project of an athletes' village for the 2011 SEA Games in Palembang, South Sumatra.
The judges, in delivering the verdict, said that mitigating factors that lessened the sentence were that Nazaruddin had never been convicted of a crime previously, he had a family to take care of and he was young and could be rehabilitated.
The ICW demanded that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) quickly continue with other cases involving Nazaruddin. "And the KPK should have no doubt now about following-up names that Nazaruddin has implicated during his trial," Emerson said. (JG/BeritaSatu)
Pandaya, Jakarta "If I cannot do anything in my first year in office, I'd rather pulang kampung [return to my home village]."
That is the well-documented promise from an elated Abraham Samad, then an obscure antigraft activist from Makassar, South Sulawesi, following his election as the chair of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Dec. 2 last year.
He vowed to speed up investigations into all cases that his predecessors had begun but stalled for reasons unknown to the general public. He assured he would treat all cases equally and would bring anyone involved to justice no matter who they were.
Now, four months on, Abraham is still struggling with stalled high-profile cases and internal leadership bickering stemming from how a particular case should be handled.
Very recently, he said he was besieged by plans to unseat him after a human rights activist demanded that the KPK Ethics Council question him for failing to continue the legal process of politician Angelina Sondakh two months after she was named a suspect.
Although it may be too early to sound the wake-up call for Abraham and ask him to pack up and catch an early flight back to his home village, there has been every sign that he is having a hard time living up to his promises.
Lately, KPK leadership will duck for cover when people ask them why they are yet to resume the questioning of Angelina, a former beauty queen and now a lawmaker with the ruling Democratic Party. Already declared a suspect in a bribery scandal in the 2011 SEA Games dormitory construction project, she remains a free woman, unlike others who immediately were put behind bars as soon as the KPK named them suspects.
The KPK has also been accused of giving preferential treatment to Miranda S. Goeltom, who was declared a suspect on Jan. 26 in the distribution of travel checks worth Rp 24 billion to lawmakers, allegedly in return for her election as Bank Indonesia (BI) senior deputy governor in 2004.
KPK investigators are yet to summon the two women for questioning, although Miranda has appeared in the trial of Nunun Nurbaeti, a key witness and suspect in the bribery case, at the Jakarta Corruption Court.
KPK leaders have said that the seemingly indefinite delay in the arrests of Angelina and Miranda was a mere part of their investigation tactics to find more telling evidence to arraign them in court.
While the controversy over Miranda and Angelina is far from settled, the KPK is currently busy repulsing new attacks for not swiftly following up celebrity graft suspect Muhammad Nazaruddin's claim that Anas Urbaningrum, chairman of the Democratic Party, received Rp 50 billion in kickbacks from a sports stadium construction project in Hambalang, West Java.
Another big test case for the KPK is the long-standing Bank Century scandal, which allegedly implicates top bureaucrats and politicians of the Yudhoyono administration. The KPK under previous leadership, along with the National Police and the Attorney General's Office (AGO), have had a hard time convincing legislators and the public alike that the government's Rp 6.7 trillion bailout to rescue Bank Century in 2008 had caused no state losses.
A legislative committee monitoring investigations into the bailout scandal has regularly summoned leaders of the three law enforcement institutions only to hear the same answer: They have yet to find adequate evidence of corruption although a House committee did otherwise in its own probe in 2010.
Particularly worrying to the effort to restore public trust in the KPK is the apparent weak teamwork between Abraham and his four deputies, Bambang Widjojanto, Zulkarnain, Adnan Pandu Praja and Busyro Muqoddas when it comes to the investigation of high-profile cases.
Adding insult to injury is the conflict between Abraham and investigators over the technicalities of the investigation into Miranda, Nunun and Angelina that the KPK leadership initially tried to cover up.
The mystery behind the stalled legal process of Miranda and Angelina was uncovered last month when investigators recruited from the National Police and the AGO reportedly staged a protest against the abrupt dismissal of five of their colleagues.
The declaration of Angelina as a suspect stirred some spats among KPK leaders and investigators. Those who were against the move said that Abraham announced it although the investigators were yet to test their findings in the leadership forum, as standard procedures require. This made it look like Abraham, who "suspiciously" made the announcement without the presence of his deputies, had acted under public pressure.
Playing down the rift, the investigators returned to the National Police headquarters and AGO to receive promotions, have their contracts canceled or to be deemed as lacking independence.
Tempo.com reported Abraham ordered the dismissal of three investigators for defying his order to stop following a lead that linked the politically well-connected Bank Artha Graha with the Rp 24 billion funds to bribe lawmakers to support Miranda's bid for the BI post.
Another two investigators were dismissed for having "overly close" relations with Nunun, the wife of former deputy National Police chief and politician Adang Daradjatun. The corruption court charged her with distributing funds to lawmakers.
The crippling rift is reminiscent of the 2009 conflict between the KPK and police leadership, which broke out after the then police chief detective Comr. Susno Duadji went ballistic on finding out that his conversations were wiretapped by the KPK, which was probing the Bank Century scandal.
There is nothing more worrying than a brewing internal conflict within the KPK, the most trusted law enforcement body. Unless resolved, or at least well-managed, the bickering will cripple the commission, which has already come under constant threat, notably from corrupt politicians.
With strong public backing, Abraham should do everything to fulfill his promises and not cave in to political pressure, or else he'd better pack up and pulang kampung.
Novianti Setuningsih & Rizky Amelia High-profile graft suspect Nunun Nurbaeti insists she facilitated the meeting between Miranda Goeltom and lawmakers in 2004 during her bid to secure the Bank Indonesia senior deputy governor position.
"I stand by my police investigation report. I never invited her, but Miranda asked me to help introduce and organize a meeting. But that wasn't my idea," Nunun told the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court on Monday.
Nunun said Miranda also asked her to introduce her to her friends Endi Soefihara, Paskah Suzzeta and Hamka Yandhu. "Miranda met with the lawmakers and they had a discussion. But I didn't take part in the discussion. I didn't have any interest in it," she said.
Nunun admitted she overheard during the meeting that somebody said it wasn't a "thank you" project, meaning Miranda had to pay money, but claimed she didn't know who said it.
Last week, Nunun insisted that she facilitated the meeting. "I swear on the name of Allah that Ibu [Miranda] called me up and asked me to be introduced and to organize a meeting with the lawmakers at my place in Jalan Cipete Raya 39C. In the name of Allah, Ibu came and asked to be appointed as [senior deputy governor]," said Nunun, reacting to Miranda's testimony which refuted her claims.
Miranda admitted that she asked Nunun for support during her fit and proper test. "[The request for help] was not specific [to Nunun]. I asked all of those who congratulated me [for being nominated to the post] and lawmakers I knew in person to persuade them not to ask about my family," Miranda said.
She also admitted to meeting several lawmakers from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Armed Forces (TNI) and National Police factions on the sidelines of the 2004 selection process, but she insisted it was to ask them to avoid personal inquiries during her fit and proper test.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) says it is trying to locate Indah Pramurti, the person believed to have picked up the traveler's checks from Bank Artha Graha and whose name was revealed by Nunun's driver last week. "We're trying to find out more about Indah and are going after her," KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto said on Monday.
Nunun has been charged with distributing Rp 20.85 billion ($2.3 million) in traveler's checks to politicians in a vote-buying scandal surrounding Miranda's election to the central bank in 2004. Miranda has also been named a suspect in the case.
The National Police finally announced on Tuesday that former health minister Siti Fadilah Supari had been named a suspect in a corruption case surrounding a Health Ministry project in 2005.
Supari's suspect status was first revealed in a hearing last Thursday at the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court. During the hearing, two former ministry officials standing trial in the case said investigators had questioned them in their capacity as witnesses, with Supari being the suspect.
Both police and the Attorney General's Office had earlier repeatedly refused to confirm her status.
On Tuesday, however, National Police chief detective Comr. Gen. Sutarman finally said Supari had been named a suspect in the case surrounding the procurement of health equipment involving the Health Ministry in 2005, which allegedly caused the state Rp 6.1 billion ($665,000) in losses.
"She's been named a suspect. But we're still gathering information from others," Sutarman said.
Supari served as the health minister from 2004 to 2009. She has been serving as the presidential adviser for health affairs since 2010. (Antara/JG)
Jakarta The Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) called on the police and prosecutors to apply the money laundering law as a legal basis for seizing the wealth of graft suspects.
PPATK chief Muhammad Yusuf said that the Law No. 20/2001 on Corruption Eradication was not enough to scare off corrupt government officials and the No. 8/2010 Money Laundering Law could in fact be used to provide a deterrent effect.
"For example, the money laundering law gives the authority to law enforcers to stop a suspicious transaction as part of an effort to save state assets. It also allows nonconviction asset forfeiture to take away assets from graft convicts," Yunus said.
PPATK now keeps tabs on more than 11 million cash transactions, which could be related to corruption.
Prominent attorney Adnan Buyung Nasution said, however, that law enforcement agencies should be more careful in pursuing efforts to send graft suspects into poverty.
"There is no problem with the effort. But remember, the graft suspect must first be found guilty of corruption," he said. Adnan said that the authorities should also work more efficiently to follow the money trail.
"We are now focusing too much on following the suspect. This takes a tremendous amount of resources. What is needed is following suspicious transactions, especially in the tax office," she said.
Adnan added that it would be easier for prosecutors to shift the burden of proof to graft suspects. Article 77 of the money laundering law stipulates that a defendant must provide proof that his assets did not come from illicit practices.
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto supported the idea of seizing the wealth of graft suspects but warned against difficulties in applying the measures, especially at the court level.
"We also have Article 39 of the Criminal Code as the legal basis for seizing assets from graft suspects, on top of the money laundering law. But we need more than that; we need to have a consensus among the judges on which legal basis they will use," he said.
A number of judges at the Corruption Court have ordered some graft convicts to return their ill-gotten assets to the state as well as ordering them to pay heavy fines or face a harsher jail term if they failed to do so.
A panel of judges at the Bandung Corruption Court recently ordered former judge Imas Dianasari to pay Rp 200 million (US$22,400) in fines on top of a six-year jail term.
Constitutional Court judge Akil Mochtar said that the idea of making graft convicts poor did not contradict the state constitution. "From the constitutional point of view, this idea is feasible," he said. (fzm)
Farouk Arnaz The National Police's anti-terror squad arrested four terror suspects in the West Java town of Purwakarta on Tuesday after gathering information from other suspects.
National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar said in Jakarta on Tuesday that police had arrested three of the four men, and on Wednesday he added the fourth suspect was arrested later in the evening. The four suspects have been identified as U., A., D. and E.S.
Boy added, as quoted by detik.com, that police seized a gun, an axe, a machete, a sword, two knives and a mask. "[They] were arrested as the result of our investigation, which took place after the arrest of Kamaludin in Bima," Boy said on Tuesday.
The latest suspects were arrested on suspicion of assisting Kamaludin and for possession of several objects deemed "dangerous," Boy said. "I cannot yet divulge what the evidence is," he added.
Boy also said police could not yet ascertain whether the three men were involved in a gold-shop heist conducted by Kamaludin in Purwakarta.
Kamaludin, also known as Abdul, Hamid and Hilang Ridho Ilahi, was arrested in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara. He was apprehended along with another man, identified as Yuniardi, on Friday. Kamaludin is suspected of being involved in a paramilitary camp in Aceh, the CIMB Niaga bank heist in Medan and the gold-shop robbery in Purwakarta.
"We were worried that if we didn't take action now, they would have acted," said a member of the anti-terror unit known as Densus 88 who declined to be named, referring to the arrest of the last three suspects.
Police said that Kamaludin was part of a group led by Abu Tholut. The group was behind the armed robbery of a CIMB bank in Medan in August 2010 which left one policeman dead and two security guards seriously injured.
Abu Tholut is also suspected of spearheading other violent robberies in and around Medan between April and August 2010 involving bank branch offices and money changers.
Police have said the robberies were carried out to raise funds for radical group Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid, which was running a paramilitary training camp in Aceh. Abu Tholut, a prominent member of JAT, is alleged to have organized the camp, which police raided in February 2010.
JAT was founded by infamous Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir in 2008, who was in exile in Malaysia for 17 years while President Suharto was in power.
Bambang Muryanto and Slamet Susanto, Yogyakarta A blast from a possible bomb and a clash between rival Muslim groups marked the sentencing of the Islamic Defender Front's (FPI) Yogyakarta branch chairman, Bambang Teddy, on Tuesday.
In the Yogyakarta District Court, Bambang Teddy was sentenced to three months imprisonment, suspended with a six-month probation, for assaulting and defaming a woman inside a supermarket.
The loud blast from the neighboring Mandala Krida Stadium was heard at about noon, not long after Bambang left the court. "It was very loud and thick smoke came out of it," said Jiwo, a street vendor 50 meters from the blast site.
No fatalities were reported, but the explosion damaged a tree and left street vendors operating in the neighborhood panicking. Yogyakarta Police's bomb squad were promptly deployed to sweep the area with metal detectors.
Yogyakarta City Police chief Sr. Comr. Mustakim said officers found a small motorcycle battery and a piece of cable, measuring between six and seven meters, at the site. This has raised suspicion that the blast could have come from a homemade bomb.
"There is a possibility that it was detonated from a distance of seven meters, but let's let the experts from the bomb squad decide," Mustakim said at the blast site. Police did not identify the person behind the explosion.
Bambang Subiyanto, a noodle vendor operating close to the explosion, said he did not recognize anything suspicious being placed in the area.
But he expressed suspicion about a man who sat near his stall and another man who stood under a tree. Both were wearing helmets.
At around the same time, supporters in the FPI leader's entourage were involved in a clash with supporters of the Islamic Jihad Front (FJI) in Demakijo, Sleman, as they both made their way home from the same court.
The FJI comprises supporters of Erna F Riyanti, who reported Bambang for assault and defamation. "We were blocked. We had to take one of our members to hospital because he broke his arm when he was hit with a stick," Bambang said after the clash.
FJI coordinator Abdulrochman denied the accusation. He said that when his group crossed paths with the FPI supporters, one of them fired an airsoft gun at his group and hit an FJI member, which resulted in the clash.
They finally dispersed after dozens of soldiers from a nearby military battalion broke up the fighting.
Separately, Sleman Police deputy chief Comr. Wahyu Agung Jatmiko said that he would facilitate a meeting between both parties in a bid to prevent bigger conflicts.
Bambang was convicted over last November's assault and defamation of Erna. The incident occurred after Bambang heard that Erna had asked his wife Sebrat Haryanti to pay off a debt to her.
Bambang met Erna in a supermarket, where he punched and spat on her. He also threatened and verbally abused her. "You are proven to be guilty as charged, but you don't have to serve the jail term," presiding judge M Nurzaman said during sentencing.
Bambang and the prosecutor said they were still thinking about whether to appeal. The session, as with previous hearings, was tightly guarded by police.
Yuli Tri Suwarni, Bandung, West Java Hundreds of people attacked an Ahmadiyah mosque in Babakan Sindang village, Tasikmalaya, West Java, prior to a Friday prayer, showing further evidence of attacks against minorities in the country.
According to Ahmadiyah follower Enda Juanda, initially there were dozens of people gathering around the mosque at around 9 a.m., with some wearing white and green garments and others carrying Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) flags.
"They initially shouted. But they started throwing stones at windows a few minutes later and broke into the mosque," Enda told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Enda was inside the mosque with his friend Didi when they started to storm into the mosque and burn the rugs and prayer mats. "I instinctively ran and saved myself. I am sure there is nothing wrong with my belief," he said.
The Ahmadiyah community's Tasikmalaya branch spokesman Budi Badrussalam said attackers unleashed three Molotov cocktails that burned the mosque's rug and prayer mats. People were able to put out the fire before it expanded, and no casualties or injuries were reported.
Spokesman of the FPI's Tasikmalaya branch, Acep Sofyan, said the attackers were not FPI members, but people from "various Islamic organizations, locals and students" of Islamic boarding schools in the vicinity.
Although he said none of the attackers were FPI members, he said they did not throw Molotov cocktails at the mosque, and that there were people provoking them to burn prayer mats in the mosque. "We instantly put out the fire," Acep said.
He alleged that the attackers were furious after Ahmadiyah followers insisted on using the mosque for prayer, despite the fact that district authorities had sealed it. The authorities took the measure, he said, after receiving complaints from locals.
It was the second attack that had happened to Ahmadiyah followers in West Java and their properties over the past two months.
On Feb. 17, an Ahmadiyah mosque in Cisaar village, Cianjur, West Java, was also under attack. Some 80 Ahmadis, both male and female, insisted on performing a Friday prayer at the damaged mosque while their mosque was being vandalized.
Budi said he regretted police officers and local officials who allowed the incident to take place under their nose. "That is a historical mosque, which was built in 1920. The Serang Archeological Preservation Agency has categorized it as a historical building," Budi said.
Tasikmalaya Police chief Adj. Comr. Gupuh Setiyono denied that the police had allowed the vandalism to occur. He said police had tried to persuade the local people, who rejected Ahmadiyah followers, to talk to them a day before the incident took place.
However, he pointed his finger at the Ahmadis, who he said had provoked the attack.
"At first, people came only to put up banners and hand over their statements concerning their objection to the Ahmadis' activities in the area," Gupuh said. "But an Ahmadi started to vent provocative words that made people [on the other side] angry and instigate the attack."
He said the police would investigate the case according to procedure. He added that he would set up a meeting with the Cult Surveillance Coordinating Agency (Bakorpakem), the Indonesian Ulema Council and local figures to determine ways to minimize any implications that might follow. (iwa/mtq)
Arya Dipa and Sita W. Dewi, Jakarta/Bandung The Tasikmalaya Police are still guarding the Baiturahman mosque belonging to Ahmadiyah followers in Singaparna, Tasikmalaya, West Java, following Friday's attacks against the minority's property.
"We have deployed 10 personnel to watch the mosque in shifts," West Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Martinus Sitompul said on Saturday. He added that the police had received reports from the Ahmadiyah community and were still investigating the incident.
The Ahmadiyah community's Tasikmalaya branch spokesman Budi Badrussalam told The Jakarta Post that most of the 500 community members were safe and were currently staying in their own homes.
"About nine of us, including witnesses and those who were injured during the attack, are at the Tasikmalaya Police office for the second round of questioning," Budi said.
Hundreds of people, with some wearing white and green garments and others carrying Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) signs, attacked the mosque prior to Friday prayer. The attackers reportedly stormed into the mosque and burned the rugs and prayer mats. However, people were able to put out the fire before it expanded.
Martinus said that the police had talked with Ahmadiyah and FPI local leaders and that all parties had agreed to "keep the situation conducive".
Budi said that the community members had been on the receiving end of intimidation tactics from local authorities prior to the attack.
"We've been warned earlier this year by the local police after conducting a blood donor event with the Indonesian Red Cross. They argued that our activities might trigger people's anger. There was nothing wrong with the event, it was merely our social program," Budi said.
The warning was soon followed by a letter issued by the local Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and signed by local leaders in January, banning the community "from conducting all rituals".
The minority group has consistently been the subject of attacks in the country by various groups who deem the Ahmadiyah sect to be heretical.
Bagus BT Saragih, Jakarta Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali has told Ahmadiyah followers to obey the law, despite the fact that both they and their properties came under attack on Friday morning.
"There might have been something wrong in the region. We must promote discussion to settle these kinds of issues. But the Ahmadis must also obey the law," he said on Friday at the State Palace.
Suryadharma was referring to the 2008 Joint Ministerial Decree banning members of the Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation (JAI) from propagating their religious beliefs.
A group of vigilantes attacked an Ahmadiyah mosque called Baitul Rahim in Babakan Sindang village, Tasikmalaya, West Java. The attackers reportedly threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the mosque, leaving shattered glass and destroying praying facilities.
The attack came after another group of people sealed the mosque. They claimed Ahmadiyah followers were not allowed to conduct prayers in the village, but Ahmadis continued to do so.
Suryadharma said he had not received a complete report on the incident. When asked why attacks against minorities kept happening in the country, Suryadharma said, "legal offenders must be charged and the Ahmadis must leave their defiant beliefs."
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto said the West Java Police were investigating the incident.
Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi also said he had not received a comprehensive report on the Singaparna incident, but suggested the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) might have been involved in the attack, following reports saying the attackers wore symbols attached to the hardline group.
Gamawan said the government had warned the FPI twice on the latter's violent acts. "More large-scale violence carried out by the FPI would mean that the organization would be eligible to be frozen," he said.
When asked for comments, FPI spokesman Munarman said, "Why do you always accuse us? Why don't you ask for my comments on when FPI members were intimidated in Palangkaraya recently?"
Munarman was referring to an incident at the Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, in February, when FPI members who had just arrived were blocked by locals who did not want the hardline group to settle in their city. (mtq)
A mob of 150 people ransacked a mosque belonging to the minority Ahmadiyah Muslim sect in Singaparna, West Java, on Friday, smashing windows and breaking equipment inside.
Several of the attackers threw Molotov cocktails at the mosque, destroying part of the building. "They vandalized almost everything inside the mosque," said Nanang, chairman of the Ahmadiyah sect in the district, Tasikmalaya.
He said there were no reports of casualties or injuries in the attack, which he said was the fourth against Ahmadis in the district in two years.
The attack took place at about 10 a.m. when a small group of young people from a nearby mosque held a demonstration against the Ahmadiyah in front of the mosque. Only several Ahmadis were in the mosque at the time, as others had not yet arrived for Friday prayers.
The group of young protesters claimed that Ahmadis are not allowed to hold religious activities because the government has banned them.
A much larger, unknown group then appeared and loudly chanted condemnation of the Ahmadiyah, with some people throwing Molotov cocktails into the mosque. They made their way into the building, breaking doors and windows and forcing the Ahmadis to flee.
Several police officers arrived but only watched initially, saying they could not do anything to stop the mob. After other officers arrived and local residents came to help, they were finally able to persuade the attackers to leave the mosque. Several officers stayed outside the building to guard against another attack.
The Ahmadis still held their prayers after the mob left and then worked to clean the building. "We only want to pray and have no intention of disturbing others," Nanang said.
Asep, a spokesman for the small group that staged the first peaceful protest, said they only wanted Ahmadis to realize their beliefs are wrong. "We have warned them to stop their religious activities," he said.
The Ahmadiyah sect has faced frequent violence this year following last year's brutal attack on Ahmadis in Cikeusik, Banten, that left three people dead. In Cianjur, also in West Java, a group of 50 people attacked and vandalized an Ahmadiyah mosque in February.
That attack came just days after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that religious harmony was being protected in Indonesia and that Ahmadis were free to worship as they saw fit, as long as they did not offend other Muslims.
Firdaus Mubarik, a spokesman for the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation (JAI), has said there are 200 displaced Ahmadis in Lombok as well as 15 in Tasikmalaya.
Conflict between members of a persecuted church in Bekasi and residents was captured on video and posted online on Thursday, showing the residents violently resisting attempts by the churchgoers to pray in their sealed-off house of worship.
The video, uploaded by Ferry Putra on Vimeo, began with members of the Filadelfia congregation of the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) preparing to march toward the church, situated in Jejalen Jaya village in Tambun Utara, Bekasi, on Sunday.
They were set to hold Mass on the sidewalk in front of their sealed-off church, which by law they are allowed to use.
The residents, many of whom wore Muslim attributes, however, were quick to blockade them, urging the Filadelfia congregation to disperse. The congregation insisted on advancing, and clashes were only narrowly averted when police and officials intervened.
The officials told the churchgoers to hold their mass at the local subdistrict office, but the latter refused, saying it was too far, about five kilometers from the sealed-off church. They then held the Mass on the road, with scores of the residents trying to disrupt it by running a motorcycle through it and then playing loud music.
Tambun Utara subdistrict head Suharto and local police precinct head Comr. Andri Ananta were seen in the video trying to tell the churchgoers to bow to the residents' demands.
"We'll keep trying to [ensure your security], but look at the mob. What else can we do?" Andri said, responding to Rev. Palti Panjaitan's statement that it was their right to hold mass in the church that sat on the land that the congregation had bought in 2007.
Andri was also seen trying to persuade Maimun, the local Muslim leader, to allow the congregation to hold their mass in the church one more time.
Maimun, however, did not waver. He instead angrily shouted and accused the Filadelfia congregation of disobeying the government order for them to relocate.
A man was then heard shouting, "Palti Panjaitan, you're dead! If you try coming back!" as the congregation finished their mass and dispersed.
The Filadelfia congregation of the HKBP submitted an application for a building permit in 2007, but Palty said that despite meeting all the requirements, including the agreement of its neighbors, a permit was not issued.
The congregation worshiped on its own land in a semi-permanent building while waiting for the permit. But on Dec. 31, 2009, the Bekasi government banned it and on Jan. 12, 2010, it sealed the building.
HKBP went to the Administrative Court and won. The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court, which sided with the church in June 2001. The Supreme Court ruling, however, has yet to be implemented.
A conflict resolution meeting with the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin in Bogor, West Java, was marked by the absence of Bogor mayor Diano Budiarto, who suspended GKI Yasmin's building permit in 2008, saying that its existence could disrupt religious harmony in the surrounding area.
According to Presidential Advisory Council member Albert Hasibuan on Thursday, Diani was unable to attend was because he had another meeting with other West Java mayors in his office.
Albert, of the council's law and human rights division, had only received notice of the mayor's planned absence on Wednesday. The meeting was then conducted without the mayor's presence.
There were 10 participants representing GKI Yasmin, the National Defense Council and the Presidential Advisory Council, which tried to reach a win- win solution.
Lt. Gen. Yuniarto Harun, of the National Defense Council, called for interfaith tolerance, and asked the Bogor mayor to obey the Supreme Court's decision on church construction.
The mayor had ignored a Supreme Court ruling ordering the opening of the church and a recommendation from the National Ombudsman Commission saying that members of the GKI Yasmin congregation should be allowed to perform religious practices in their own church.
"GKI Yasmin representatives have announced their support for a win-win solution, as it promotes the concept of interfaith tolerance," Albert said, as quoted by tempo.co on Thursday.
However, Albert acknowledged that he was still in the dark about how the Bogor mayor would react. (png/dic)
Rights group Amnesty International demanded on Wednesday that Indonesian authorities drop blasphemy charges against Tajul Muluk, a local Shiite leader displaced from his village in East Java's Madura Island, who is currently under police detention.
Tajul was displaced with over 300 other Shiite villagers on Dec. 29, when an anti-Shiite mob of some 500 people attacked and burned houses, a boarding school and a Shiite place of worship in Nangkrenang village in Sampang, Madura.
Afterwards most of the Shiite who were displaced by the attack returned to Nangkrenang, but Tajul and about 20 other villagers, including his family, were prevented from returning to the village by the attackers, who reportedly threatened to kill them if they returned, and by police.
On Jan. 1, the Sampang branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued an edict describing Tajul's teachings as "deviant," and then two days later his own relative, Rois Al Hukuma, reported him to police for blasphemy.
On March 16, the East Java Police charged Tajul with blasphemy, saying he violated Article 156 of the Criminal Code on blasphemy and Article 335 on "offensive actions."
Tajul is currently being detained at the Sampang prison awaiting trial. His lawyers said they were concerned he would not receive a fair trial in Sampang because of the strong presence of anti-Shiite groups there. They are requesting his trial be moved to the provincial capital Surabaya, according to Amnesty International.
"Amnesty International believes that these charges have been brought against him solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion," Amnesty said in a press statement on Wednesday.
"He is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally. These blasphemy laws are fundamentally incompatible with Indonesia's international human rights obligations to protect and respect freedom of expression, and freedom of thought, conscience, religion and equality."
Amnesty also raised concerns about reports that Shiite villagers in Sampang have continued to face intimidation and threats from individuals trying to force them to denounce their beliefs.
Shiites are a minority Islamic sect in Indonesia. The majority of Indonesian Muslims are Sunnis.
Lutfi Rakhmawati, Jakarta Parishioners of HKBP Filadelfia in Bekasi, West Java, say that they have been intimidated for too long. On Sunday, enough was apparently enough.
They joined members of the GKI Taman Yasmin congregation from Bogor on Sunday in rallying in front of the Presidential Palace, calling on the President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to grant them the right to worship peacefully in their churches, which have been shut down by local administrations due to pressure from hard-line groups.
Protesting and conducting services in from of the State Palace has become part of GKI Taman Yasmin's regular Sunday routine since February. Sunday marked the first time the Filadelfia congregation joined the demonstration.
HKBP Filadelfia lawyer Judianto Simanjuntak said that his clients' Sunday service near their church was disrupted by more than 300 demonstrators. Around 100 worshippers were prohibited from approaching their half-built church, located in the Jejalen Jaya subdistrict.
"The demonstrators did not give us a chance to conduct proper Sunday services. They blocked the access to the church since 5:30 a.m.," he said. "As we have always done before, we could only conduct a service on the street, while the haters screamed and swore at us."
Judianto said that there were many police officers and local officials who were present while they were conducting the service. The parishioners hoped that the officials would disband the protesters. The officials did nothing, he said. "The officers let those people shouted indecent words to us."
Judianto said that the church members would likely join GKI Yasmin parishioners and their supporters in other peaceful demonstrations in front of the State Palace. "We want the President to know that such long-lasting discrimination exist, even near the capital."
The HKBP Filadelfia's church, which is still under the construction on a 1,000-square-meter plot, was halted by the Bekasi administration in 2010, which claimed that nearby residents living near the church site objected.
Members claimed that the church was subject to disruption and intimidation at the hands of their neighbors when holding Sunday services on the street. The plight of the Filadelfia congregation has fueled concerns over declining tolerance in the regency.
A survey conducted in 2010 by the human rights watchdog the Setara Institute said that Bekasi was the least tolerant region surveyed, with 74 percent of respondents of the regency rejecting the construction of places of worship for other religions.
In the same year, two pastors from the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) church in the Ciketing, Mustika Jaya housing complex in Bekasi were mobbed. One pastor was stabbed in the incident.
The GKI Yasmin congregation has persistently held peaceful protests to demand their freedom of worship, although the government has yet to find a solution to their plight. Their church has been sealed since 2010.
A Supreme Court ruling has been issued to grant them the right to worship in their church, which Bogor Mayor Diani Budiarto has declined to enforce.
Last month, presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said that Yudhoyono does not have the authority to step into the Yasmin saga.
"Even though the President is the country's highest commander-in-chief, the existing Law on Regional Autonomy says that the President cannot intervene in decisions made by regional leaders," Julian said.
"It would be unconstitutional should the President directly intervene in the dispute. Please don't ask the President to commit an unlawful act," Aldrin said as quoted by tempo.co.
Bagus BT Saragih, Jakarta Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali has played down the suggestion that regional sharia-based bylaws have the potential to trigger social conflicts despite the fact that Indonesia is a multicultural country.
The regional autonomy system, which was first introduced in 1999, entitles local administrations to the right to issue any bylaws they deem suitable to their respective regions, he said.
"In regional autonomy, local leaders can issue policies that they think are the best for them, not only in the sector of economy or natural resources, but also religious affairs," the United Development Party (PPP) chairman said on Friday at the State Palace.
"However, a local policy made by a certain local administration also receives observation and judgment from others who may claim such a policy is good or not. This can sometimes end up in disputes and debates."
When debates over a bylaw took place, he said the ministry could do nothing to review or revoke it.
Suryadharma also dismissed accusations that sharia-based bylaws discriminated against non-Muslim community groups living in the multi- religious country. "You need to check whether a particular so-called sharia bylaw applies to all citizens in one region or only to Muslims," he said.
A number of prominent figures and academics criticized the drafting and implementation of sharia-based bylaws by a number of local administrations, saying they could be a time bomb in mixed communities.
Sharia-based bylaws emerged in regional administrations two years after the passing of the 1999 Regional Autonomy Law, with regencies and municipalities in West Sumatra, Banten, West Java and South Sulawesi on the front line, and many more following suit.
And by early 2010, more than 150 bylaws, regulations and circulars were found to be problematic and discriminative according to the women's national rights body. (mtq)
Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta Sharia bylaws drafted and implemented by several local administrations in the country could be a time bomb with the potential to trigger social conflicts in mixed communities, according to scholars.
Syamsul Anwar, a lecturer at the Yogyakarta-based Kalijaga State Islamic University (UIN), called on local administrations to pay attention to content as well as process in drafting their bylaws in order to avoid creating social conflict.
"They should be selective in terms of materials to be drafted as regulations. They must concentrate only on the principle," Syamsul said in Yogyakarta on Thursday.
Notable lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis suggested some groups had vested interests in initiating the adoption of sharia bylaws. "This could be a time bomb for us all," he said when addressing an international seminar in Yogyakarta on Wednesday. The seminar at the UIN discussed sharia, the state and globalization.
Only two years after regional autonomy was launched in 1999, regencies and municipalities in West Sumatra, Banten, West Java and South Sulawesi issued several sharia-based bylaws in those predominantly Muslim provinces.
Many more followed suit, and by early 2010 more than 150 bylaws, regulations and circulars were found to be problematic and discriminative according to the national women's rights body.
Todung suspected a hidden agenda given the drafting processes, which seemed to curtail public participation and lack academic analysis. He noted as many as 78 sharia bylaws had been issued in 52 regencies/municipalities in the country.
With the potential to trigger social conflicts, sharia could not be justified in a pluralist Indonesia, Todung said. Indonesia has never been an Islamic state, he pointed out.
"Jurisdiction-wise, religious affairs should be the central government's domain, not a local issue," he said, adding that bylaws that contravened major legislation or the Constitution could taint Indonesia's status as a country where the rule of law was upheld. "This is the most sensitive issue in Indonesia," he said.
He expressed hopes that the issue would be addressed more seriously in the future, considering that Indonesia was home to people of many different creeds.
The Wahid Institute, in its survey on sharia-inspired bylaws, has discovered that local rules frequently violated the law on regional administration.
However, a legal expert in Aceh dismissed the "time bomb" suggestions. "We must look at where the sharia bylaws are implemented. In Aceh, there is no opposition to the bylaws," Safuddin Bantasyam, a law lecturer at Syiah Kuala University, said in Banda Aceh.
Aceh, with special autonomy under the 1999 Aceh Administration Law, has already issued 54 of 59 bylaws or qanun slated to be issued by 2012. Several bylaws regulate an "Islamic" lifestyle and an Islamic court. The province has also set up a special police force to enforce sharia.
Violators of the Islamic bylaws may face penalties such as caning. The most controversial bylaw has been one on the Criminal Code, which includes the penalty of being stoned to death for people found guilty of adultery.
Safuddin said other religions were welcome in Aceh despite the implementation of sharia because the laws were applicable only to Muslims. "That might be different if implemented in regions with more a diverse community," he said.
Syamsul pointed out the need to consider social demography in implementing sharia bylaws. "The implementation of sharia should take into consideration the social conditions. Sharia is not necessarily identical to an Islamic state," he said.
Other speakers in the seminar included Farish Ahmad Noor of Nanyang University, Singapore, Wael B. Hallaq of Columbia University, US and Raihanah Abdullah of the University of Malaya, Malaysia.
Ainur Rohmah, Semarang The enactment of Law No 23/2011 on zakat (alms) management by the House of Representatives has caused controversy during the 6th Zakat Forum (FOZ) national congress held in Semarang, Central Java, from April 17 to 19.
The party in favor of the act is led by the National Alms Agency (Baznas), while those against it were mostly members of the alms agencies established by individuals, foundations and local communities. Both are represented in the FOZ.
Arif Nurhayadi, director of the Central Java alms institution, Lazis, said many of the articles in the law were not clear and capable of multiple interpretations and thus could create implementation problems.
"Article 38 on alms management by mosques, associations and Islamic boarding schools (pesantren), for example, requires registration at the Baznas. Yet, there is no detailed explanation on how this should be implemented," Arif said on the sidelines of the congress on Thursday.
The alms-management law was endorsed on Oct. 27, 2011 and consists of 11 chapters and 47 articles.
Among other things it stipulates that alms management is the authority of the government and the public is only allowed to participate with a government permit. It also stipulates that alms management be carried out by Baznas operating hierarchically from the central to regional levels.
The law, according to Arif, seemed to limit the number of zakat-management organizations. It required very strict conditions for the establishment of an alms-management agency. "This may discourage the establishment of new zakat organizations."
The current number of alms organizations was not capable of handling the alms potential, he said. The existing organizations are only able to tap about Rp 1.7 trillion (US$185 million) last year out of the country's potential of up to Rp 210 trillion.
"If it is aimed at increasing public transparency and accountability, we support it. However many agencies are not ready to be institutionalized," Arif said. He urged the government and the House to make the mechanisms and management of alms clearer.
Separately Baznas chairman Didin Hafidhuddin said it was time that zakat management in Indonesia was reorganized so alms organizations could become more accountable and easy to supervise. With an official record of alms institutions, a map on the distribution of alms to the poor could also be obtained to prevent overlapping distribution.
"This is not to strengthen the role of Baznas or stunt the others, but the spirit of the law is on how to collect alms officially so they can be utilized more transparently," said Didin.
So far 19 alms agencies have been officially registered at Baznas, but there are hundreds of others at regional and national levels that have not been registered. "Those which have not registered, please register. We will not phase them out, only prevent them from being used for personal interests," he said. FOZ chairman Ahmad Juwiani said his institution would be neutral in dealing with parties in favor or against the alms law. However, he emphasized that every party should thoroughly understand the law.
He said a number of articles had the potential to be counterproductive. Article 41, for example, stipulates that a prison sentence and fine awaits unregistered alms organizations.
He said the law, in principle, was enacted to prevent alms organizations being used to raise funds for terrorism or crime. "The spirit of the law therefore is actually good," he said.
Alina Musta'idah Indonesian farmers use an alarming amount of pesticides including some with illegal toxic chemicals on their crops, the People's Coalition for Food Sovereignty (KRKP) said on Thursday.
The NGO cited a 2011 survey of 306 farmers in Central Java that found that farmers used pesticides an average of 5.7 times per growing season. "That is a very high use for farms," KRKP official Said Abdullah said in Jakarta on Thursday.
Pesticides are big business in Indonesia. The local market reaches about Rp 6 trillion ($654 million) a year, Said said. That market includes 350 brands of fungicides, 600 brands of herbicides and 800 brands of insecticides registered with the Indonesian authorities, according to Ministry of Agriculture's Pesticide Commission numbers.
And these figures don't even include products that enter the country illegally, Said said. "Between 10 and 12 percent of pesticides circulating [in Indonesia] are illegal," he said.
Many of these chemicals contain harmful substances like organochlorine and organophosphate, Said said.
The one chemical, organophosphate, is considered hazardous, even in low doses, and its use is highly-regulated, or banned outright, in 23 countries. Organochlorine was present in the pesticide DDT, a chemical that caused massive ecological damage in the United States before its use was banned in the 1960s. He called on farmers to adopt more environmentally- conscious and sustainable farming methods.
Jakarta A coalition of NGOs have warned that the 2012 Land Acquisition Law could lead to the massive conversion of farmland in Indonesia, reducing food production.
The group, led by the Indonesian Farmers Association (SPI), said on Tuesday that it planned to file a judicial review with the Constitutional Court on April 25 seeking to overturn some of the articles, which it says contravene Article 33 of the Constitution.
The article states that "the land and waters and the natural resources within shall be under the power of the State and shall be used for the greatest benefit of the people".
Other NGOs in the group include the Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice (IHCS), the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI), the Peoples' Coalition for Fisheries Justice (Kiara) and the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam).
SPI chair Henry Saragih said the new law vaguely defined the term "public interests" and did not provide a satisfactory mechanism for resolution in cases of conflict. "The definition of public interests emphasizes economic infrastructure, which serve the interests of the government and investors, and not necessarily the people," Henry said.
The new law would help the government to speed up construction of many infrastructure projects that have been delayed because of problems in acquiring land and clearing it.
Among public benefits defined by the law are toll roads, mining infrastructure, landfills, hospitals and government offices. (/aml)
Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta The government and the House of Representatives are blaming each other for the proposed establishment of the North Kalimantan province, along with 18 new regencies and municipalities.
The House's plenary session on Thursday agreed on draft bills for the creation of 19 new regions.
The Home Ministry said it was disappointed with the House's decision to accept the proposals for the new regions. "We respect the House's initiative rights, but it should have turned down the proposals in respect of [the government's] moratorium," ministry spokesman Raydonnyzar Moenek said, in reference to the moratorium against the formation new regions between 2009 and December 2012.
He added that North Kalimantan and the others were not included in the ministry's grand design for Indonesian regions for 2025, despite references to areas on the border with neighboring countries.
Leaders and politicians in the northern parts of Kalimantan have highlighted the rich natural resources in the area, but starkly poor infrastructure compared to neighboring provinces. They have also said residents prefer to trade with Malaysia, which borders northern Kalimantan towns such as Tarakan.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono launched the moratorium following the tragic death of former North Sumatra Legislative Council speaker Azis Angkat, during violent protests at the provincial legislative building in Medan in February 2009. Thousands forced their way into a plenary session to demand the formation of the Tapanuli province. In defense of the laws on new regions, lawmakers have said the moratorium was not included in the law and only was "political policy" that could not be used as a legal basis to reject growing demands for new regions.
The government made its decision as 205 new provinces, municipalities and regencies formed since the 1999 Law on regional autonomy came into effect have largely performed far below expectations while overburdening the state budget.
Ganjar Pranowo, who chairs the House commission on regional autonomy, said laws on the new regions were passed with the knowledge of the Home Ministry, which was involved in the deliberations. "We will be deliberating the bills very cautiously and thoroughly," Ganjar said.
1. North Kalimantan Province East Kalimantan
2. Mahakam Ulu Regency East kalimantan
3. Musi Rawas Regency South Sumatra
4. P.A. Lematang Ilir Regency South Sumatra
5. Malaka Regency East Nusa Tenggara
6. Pangandaran Regency West Java
7. Palau Taliabu Regency North Maluku
8. Pesisir Barat Regency Lampung
9. Central Mamuju Regency West Sulawesi
10. Banggai Laut Regency Central Sulawesi
11. North Morowali Regency Central Sulawesi
12. Konawe Islands Regency Southeast Sulawesi
13. East Kolaka Regency Southeast Sulawesi
14. South Buton Regency Southeast Sulawesi
15. Central Buton Regency Southeast Sulawesi
16. West Muna Regency Southeast Sulawesi
17. Raha Municipality Southeast Sulawesi
18. South Manokwari Regency West Papua
19. Pegunungan Arfak Regency West Papua
Regional autonomy experts are calling on the central government to focus on merging the country's worst-performing provinces, regencies and municipalities, given their failure to bring significant progress to their people and strengthen democracy.
Several critics have also urged the government to maintain the moratorium against the creation of new regions, despite proposals for new jurisdictions continually being pushed by lawmakers.
Siti Zuhro, a member of the Home Ministry's Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) expert team, said the moratorium, set to end in December, should be kept in place to curb political enthusiasm from local elites and political parties to form new regions. According to a government evaluation, almost all of the 205 new regions formed between 2001 and 2008 failed to perform well in improving social welfare and strengthening democracy.
"Both the central government and the House of Representatives should close the channel for the increasing number of proposals for new regions, at least for the time being, and focus on the merger of the under-performing regions," Siti said recently. "Otherwise, we will see more bloodshed."
Siti was referring to a 2008 rally that ended in the death of North Sumatra Legislative Council speaker Azis Angkat, in connection to the proposed formation of Tapanuli province, which led the central government to launch the moratorium against new regions.
She warned that the political interests behind the House's approval of new regions have failed to thoroughly take into account numerous crucial factors, including the administrative and human resources requirements, set by the government in forming new regions.
The central government allocated Rp 1.33 trillion (US$144.97 million) in general allocation funds for 22 newly developed regions in 2003, doubling that to Rp 2.6 trillion for 40 new regions in 2004 and then allocating Rp 47.9 trillion in 2010.
The government has also allocated funds to build infrastructure in new, under-developed regions. These funds are incentives that are suspected to have contributed to the repeated proposals for new regions.
Public administration expert Ryas Rasyid, who initially helped design the country's regional-autonomy framework and now a presidential advisor on bureaucratic reform, said the government should maintain the moratorium.
"The government should speed-up regional autonomy in Aceh and Papua to allow them to catch up with other developed provinces," he said.
Ryas added that improving the autonomy of Aceh and Papua was crucial to improving the welfare of people in areas located on the border of neighboring countries.
According to a government evaluation in April 2011, three years after Government Regulation No. 6/2008 on the evaluation of local governments was issued, almost all new regions formed between 2000 and 2008 failed to reach minimum targets set by the central government in the areas of public services, governance, competitiveness and social welfare.
Only the municipalities of Banjarbaru in South Kalimantan and Cimahi in West Java scored relatively high, partly thanks to being administrative municipalities since the New Order era.
Of the seven new provinces, North Maluku, Gorontalo and Bangka Belitung scored below the minimum of 60 out of 100. West Papua, effectively formed in 2003, was the worst-performing province.
The government also ranked the 198 new regencies and municipalities regarding the local governments' performance and has released the top ten performing and under-performing administrations, according to the same criteria.
The evaluation method gives a weight of 30 percent to social welfare, 25 percent each for good governance and public service, and 20 percent for competitiveness.
The independent Regional Autonomy Watch (KPPOD) criticized the way the central government evaluated the regions.
KPPOD external affairs manager Robert Endi Jaweng hailed the systematic evaluation method but said it has not been applied regularly and fairly.
He said that based on KPPOD's field observations, the evaluation, which was conducted only once in a decade, was unfair and the inputs for the evaluation were based on the new regions' compulsory regular reports, random monitoring and questionnaires.
"If a new region forgets to send its report on activities in certain fields or its report fails to meet the standard requirements, it will be crossed out in the evaluation," he said.
Robert said several new regions had been deemed under-performing for failing to submit their reports regularly, but they actually had improvements in the subject areas.
The KPPOD urged close monitoring and human-resources training of personnel in charge of the new regions to improve their performance.
Robert said the government lacks the political commitment to enforce Government Regulation No. 6/2008 on evaluation of local governments and Government Regulation No. 129 on the formation and merger of new regions.
"The government should have evaluated the new regions three times since the regulation was issued and merge the ten most under-performing regions with their nearest region to prevent them from overburdening the state budget," he said.
The House greeted the government's plan to be more selective and alert in forming new regions, but warned against the proposed merger of the worst performing regions.
Deputy chairman of the House Commission II overseeing domestic governance and regional autonomy, Gandjar Pranowo, said a "partnership approach" in proposing the merger of regions would be needed to overcome likely resistance from local elites and political parties.
Since the introduction of regional autonomy over a decade ago, Indonesia has seen the formation of 205 new autonomous regions seven provinces, 164 regencies and 34 municipalities a drastic departure from 32 years of centralized government. In total, the country now has 529 autonomous regions: 33 provinces, 398 regencies and 98 municipalities. Proposals for additional regions continue, despite the government's moratorium pending evaluation of whether the new regions have met their original decentralization purpose: Better public service. The following reports by the The Jakarta Post's Ridwan Max Sijabat looks at the problem
Regional autonomy came into law in 1999 as the strongest symbolic breakaway from the earlier centralized, authoritarian rule of the world's largest archipelagic country. Citizens and critics, however, were quick to question whether conditions were significantly better in the new provinces, regencies and townships.
The House of Representatives largely continued to agree to pass every proposal for a new autonomous region, even those that looked too poor to sustain themselves, leading to suspicions of self-serving politicians. Going by the indicator of the Home Ministry, the new regions were largely under-performing in four areas: good governance, public service, competitiveness and social welfare.
Of the 198 new regencies and municipalities, only Banjarbaru and Cimahi municipalities in South Kalimantan and West Java respectively have shown good performance. One explanation from the ministry has been that they were among the oldest townships since Soeharto's rule, before they were declared permanent municipalities in 2001.
The legislature, local elites and the central government have been at odds over the ideal number of provinces. The government declared the moratorium against setting up new regions since the dispute over new regencies peaked in an ugly conflict in North Sumatra that led to the death of the Legislative Council speaker Azis Angkat in 2008.
The moratorium still stands to give the government enough time to evaluate the performance of newly developed regions and to conduct studies on the ideal number of provinces, regencies and municipalities.
So far, the government has suspended processing 181 proposed regions submitted through the Home Ministry and 13 others submitted through the House.
The Regional Autonomy Advisory Council (DPOD) and the expert team at the Home Ministry were of the same opinion that the government had to maintain the moratorium to prevent them from overburdening the state budget.
In addition to evaluating the performance of newly developed regions, the central government has developed a grand design for the ideal number of provinces, regencies and municipalities until 2025.
According to the grand design, the government has limited the formation of 11 new provinces, to reach a limit of 44 provinces, towards 2025. Taking into account the geographic and demographic perspectives, Papua, West Papua and East Kalimantan are prioritized to be developed into eight provinces given their borders with Papua New Guinea, Australia and Malaysia, and also their population density of between only eight and 16 people per square kilometer.
Based on their studies and consultations, the Home Ministry says Aceh, North Sumatra, Riau, West and Central Kalimantan can be developed into eight provinces because they were part of 15 rarely-populated provinces. They are also regarded as strategic, given defense issues and their proximity to Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
Maluku, East Nusa Tenggara, North Sumatra and North Sulawesi, bordering with neighboring countries such as Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, have their geographic importance to be developed into eight provinces for defense and security reasons.
Five other provinces Lampung, West and East Java, East and West Nusa Tenggara could also be developed into ten provinces given their large territories; but their populations are denser than Papua and the other sparsely populated provinces.
The director general for regional autonomy affairs at the Home Ministry, Trencherman, said that considering all factors including the result of the government evaluation of all 33 provinces and mounting aspirations from local elites Aceh, North Sumatra, East and West Kalimantan, Central and Southeast Sulawesi and West Papua were expected to be developed into 14 provinces, while Papua could be developed into five provinces.
He said, however, that in addition to geographic and demographic factors, the government would prioritize the defense aspect in forming new provinces in the future.
"The narrower the regions are, the easier the provision of public services, improving social welfare and strengthening defense," he said. He added that in addition to Aceh, Riau, West and East Kalimantan and Papua, Central and Southeast Sulawesi would also likely be prioritized as new, smaller provinces.
Siti Zuhro, a member of the Home Ministry's expert team from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said the defense aspect has gained a larger portion the country's geographic and demographic factors following a number of studies and national seminars on regional developments in anticipation of internal and external threats to the unitary state.
According to studies conducted by the government's eight-member expert team, an additional 53 provinces could be developed from the current 33 if all factors, including fiscal potential, natural resources, defense and ethnic diversity aspects were taken into account. The government, however, estimates that only 44 would be a more manageable figure in the short term.
Ezra Sihite The government has been criticized for allocating Rp 30.2 billion ($3.3 million) in the state budget for meetings led by the president and vice president during 2012.
The Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra) said on Tuesday, quoting data from the State Secretary's office, that about Rp 29.5 billion had been allotted for the meetings themselves and some Rp 700 million for documentation.
Fitra coordinator for advocacy and investigative, Uchok Sky Khadafi, further detailed that Rp 3.3 billion had been allotted for 44 plenary cabinet sessions, Rp 1.1 billion for 30 non-plenary cabinet meetings, Rp 5.3 billion for three working meetings with regional heads, Rp 14.3 billion for two scheduled leaders' retreats, commonly to serve visiting foreign leaders, and Rp 558 million for presidential lectures, among other meetings.
Uchok said he understood many of the meetings were necessary to support the government's job, but added many others were ineffective and the amount of money budgeted to organize them was too much.
"[The meetings] are very costly. How could they have a heart to waste people's tax money?" Uchok said. "Those meetings should be free. Seeing the amount allotted for those various meetings, we can say that the government's work is only meetings and other meetings."
The presidential office could not be reached for confirmation at the time of writing.
Jakarta Despite its pledge to uphold transparency, the government has not done enough to promote open and transparent governance, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations says.
The NGOs Cross-Media Community (MediaLink), Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW), the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS), the Indonesian Parliamentary Center (IPC), Yayasan Tifa, Indonesia Budget Center (IBC) and the Civil Society Alliance for Democracy (Yappika) said that most government agencies remained unwilling to publish important information for the public in spite of the fact that Indonesia was one of the founding members of the Open Government Partnership (OPG).
Indonesia, together with the United States, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and the Philippines, set up the OPG in 2011, pledging to be more transparent, open and accountable and allow greater citizen participation in the government and increase access to technology.
Ahmad Faisol of MediaLink said that most government institutions' interpretation of upholding transparency was to set up a website that contained basic information on their activities.
Research conducted by the Central Information Commission (KIP) found that only 29 percent of agencies in the central government published important information to the public.
Two years after the setting up of the national KIP, only 12 provinces have established KIP offices in their regions, with Jakarta being the latest.
Lenny Tristia Tambun & Ronna Nirmala While six candidates are vying to become Jakarta's next governor, the rivalry between incumbent Fauzi Bowo and Solo Mayor Joko Widodo seems to have turned the election into a two- horse race, with both sides engaging in a war of words recently.
Fauzi's supporters on Friday were quick to attack Joko, popularly known as Jokowi, for saying that some politicians and bureaucrats wear Muslim robes just to get sympathy from voters.
Two groups backing Fauzi, the Betawi Cultural Institute (LKB) and the Betawi Youth Forum (FPB), demanded that Jokowi apologize for his statement, which the LKB's chairman said had offended Islam and Betawi people.
"He should clarify his statement and apologize to Betawi people," Tatang Hidayat said. "Baju koko [Muslim robes] have a positive impact on those who wear them. It's strange that a candidate for Jakarta governor doesn't know the meaning of the outfit to Betawi people."
Jokowi told local media in Solo on Friday that his remarks were taken out of context, saying he chose to wear checkered shirts to distinguish himself from other bureaucrats who only wear the Islamic outfits.
Jokowi said he never meant to undermine those who wear them or to attack his opponents in the gubernatorial race.
Ridwan Saidi, a senior Betawi figure, defended Jokowi, saying the Solo mayor did not need to apologize because he had not offended anybody. "The outfit has nothing to do with Betawi or Islam," he said.
He said baju koko originated from Chinese attire and that the Malay adopted it after the Chinese migrated to the archipelago. "Everybody wears this outfit, regardless of if you're a Muslim or not, or Betawi or not," he said.
Fauzi is backed by the ruling Democratic Party and several smaller parties, while Jokowi is backed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).
Fauzi refused to comment on Jokowi's statement. "Let Jakarta residents give their comment," he said. "I don't want to comment because he had certain goals with his statement. If he wasn't running for governor, I probably would have said something."
Previously, Fauzi claimed education standards in the capital are higher than in Solo, in a broadside aimed squarely at Jokowi. He said on Wednesday that Jakarta's primary schools had a 100 percent graduation rate last year, while the city's junior and senior high schools had a 99 percent rate.
Jokowi's spokesman Maringan Pangaribuan questioned Fauzi's claim, saying that if Jokowi's record on education was so poor, "why has he been nominated for the 2012 World Mayor Prize over the Jakarta governor?"
Jakarta Jakarta city residents are complaining about gubernatorial candidates who have posted campaign pictures on residents' houses without the owners' consent.
In the East Cengkareng subdistrict, West Jakarta, stickers of gubernatorial candidate duo Hidayat Nurwahid and Didik J. Rachbini can be seen plastered on doors, shops, businesses and fences across the area.
Erik, 35, a resident of Community Unit (RW) 06, said that the campaign had been placing stickers in the area for the past three days. He said that stickers were usually placed in the small hours when residents were asleep.
Daud, 40, of RW 08, said that the stickers were placed without permission and that this caused outrage among residents as the stickers made the area look messy.
West Jakarta police spokesman, Kadiman Sitinjak, said that he was not aware of how gubernatorial stickers were being placed in the area. "Candidates are not allowed to indiscriminately do what they want. That's what the rules say. We'll check and see if this is really happening, and we'll sort it out if it's true," Kadiman said, according to Berita Jakarta. (png)
Ronna Nirmala While other gubernatorial candidates have been busy touting fixes for Jakarta's transportation and urban planning woes, Hidayat Nur Wahid sees an opportunity to address the city's underlying social problems through religion.
The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) legislator's vision is to improve interfaith relations by, among other things, reviving the city's Interreligious Communications Forum (FKUB), which he says has not been working all that well recently.
The forum, which brings together community leaders from all faiths, should be used to promote dialogue that will strengthen relations between people of different religions, Hidayat said during a visit to the BeritaSatu Media Holdings office on Tuesday. "Our aim is to create a religious way of life that's beautiful," he said.
He also promised to "turn houses of worship into places that people would be happy to visit." "We'll offer incentives to the people managing houses of worship so that more people regularly come there," he said. "The idea is to make these places their primary gathering spot."
The wider goal, Hidayat added, was to instill a greater sense of faith in Jakarta residents. People with a strong faith, he argued, would be disinclined to commit crime, take part in brawls, join violent gangs, experiment with drugs or engage in any of the other social ills reportedly commonplace in the capital.
Hidayat, who previously addressed the perennial problem of flooding, also offered up a solution for Jakarta's shortage of clean water. "Jakarta gets two billion cubic meters of rainfall [sic] a year, of which 1.4 billion washes out to sea without any attempt to retain it," he said. The demand could be met simply by retaining a higher proportion of the rainwater runoff, he proposed.
He said that if elected governor in the polls in July, he would make this happen by designating certain parts of the city as flood plains where the runoff could pool.
Despite offering a variety of solutions for the city's problems, Hidayat called on voters not to get sold on the proposals being bandied about by the candidates.
He also warned that any candidate claiming to have all the answers to Jakarta-specific problems such as traffic, flooding, urban planning and poverty might make a good technocrat but a poor leader.
Hidayat is contesting the election with Didik Junaedi Rachbini, a politician from the National Mandate Party (PAN).
A poll released earlier this month by the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) showed the pair in third place with the support of just 8.3 percent of respondents. The incumbent, Fauzi Bowo, leads the field with 49.1 percent, followed by Solo Mayor Joko Widodo with 14.4 percent.
Ronna Nirmala Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo sparked comments among Indonesian Twitter users on Monday after a photo of him giving the middle finger was spread on Twitter.
Fauzi confirmed it was indeed a picture of him, but added he was unaware of what the gesture meant. "I don't understand those kinds of things. I didn't understand until now. Do all band members [make this gesture]?" Fauzi said in Jakarta on Monday.
His spokesman, Cucu Ahmad Kurnia, said Fauzi was only joking and trying to mingle with some youth during an event at Bung Karno Stadium in Central Jakarta on Sunday.
"He couldn't possibly aim his [middle] finger at people. He was only joking; others were laughing at that time. He was talking with members of a motorcycle gang, and then there was also a band competition," Cucu explained.
In the picture, Fauzi was seen raising his middle finger as he stood between a girl, also raising her middle finger, and a boy, who raised his thumb.
Bagus BT Saragih, Jakarta National Intelligence Agency (BIN) head Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman says the Military Police are investigating the alleged involvement of a military general in recent spate of violence by so-called "biker gangs".
But he hinted at possible punishment that could only go as far as "disciplinary measures" for any Indonesian Military (TNI) member found to be guilty.
"I believe the TNI has good performance in enforcing disciplinary measures given the fact that [what the gang members did] involved criminal acts," Marciano said on Friday at the State Palace.
Jakarta Military Commander Maj. Gen. Waris previously said that a military member who had higher rank than him had allegedly been involved in biker gang attacks.
In response to the biker gang issue, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had summoned Jakarta Police chief Ir. Gen. Untung Suharsono Rajab and Waris to his residence in Cikeas, West Java, Waris said.
"In the meeting, I told the President to forgive me because I was still unable to deal with my extreme senior," Waris said as quoted by kompas.com. Waris did not disclose the identity of the senior he was referring to, but claimed to have revealed it to the President.
According to Waris, there are four military members who are under investigation by the Military Police for their alleged involvement in the attacks.
A string of vigilante acts in Jakarta left two civilians dead and 15 others injured. The attacks are believed to be a form of retaliation for the killing of a member of the Navy, Arifin Sirih, by a group of people on Jl. Benyamin Sueb in Pademangan, North Jakarta, on March 31. (mtq)
Iman Mahditama, Jakarta The Jakarta Police said Monday they would question two soldiers who were shot while allegedly as part of a motorcycle gang that carried out vigilante acts on Jl. Pramuka in Central Jakarta last week.
"The two wounded soldiers were part of the group of motorcyclists that was on Jl. Pramuka that night. Right now, the two are still being treated at hospitals. We hope they get well soon so that we can start questioning them," said police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto.
First Seaman Sugeng Riyadi and Second Pvt. Akbar Fidi Aldian reportedly suffered gunshot wounds inflicted during the brutal attack on Jl. Pramuka.
Witnesses reported that both soldiers were shot by unidentified men driving a Toyota Yaris hatchback. "The men [in the car] immediately drove away after firing the shots. We are still unable to identify who fired the shots," Rikwanto said.
Akbar was shot in the chest and is currently receiving treatment at the Gatot Soebroto Army Hospital in Central Jakarta, while Sugeng was shot in the right ear and is currently hospitalized at the Mintohardjo Navy Hospital, also in Central Jakarta.
A series of widespread attacks occurred in seven spots across North and Central Jakarta in the early hours of April 13, leaving at least eight people injured and one dead.
The final attack took place on Jl. Pramuka at around 3 a.m., with Anggi Darmawan and Nendy Haryanto as the last victims. Two motorcycles were burned and three others were destroyed in the attack.
The group of bikers also vandalized a 7-Eleven convenience store on nearby Jl. Salemba Raya, attacking and robbing the store's customers, and damaging several motorcycles parked in front of the store.
It was widely reported that the attackers were similar in appearance, with athletic builds and crew cuts.
The police have also revealed that the assailants used military lingo when addressing each other and that some of them attached yellow ribbons to their shirts. "However, we are still looking into whether [Sugeng and Akbar] also attached yellow ribbons to their shirts," Rikwanto said.
According to him, the bullets that struck Sugeng and Akbar were still at the respective hospitals that treated the two soldiers. "We will request [the hospitals] to submit [the bullets] to us so that we can keep them as evidence."
Friday's early morning violence was the latest in a series of four attacks allegedly involving biker gangs in Jakarta in the past three weeks. The first assault took place in Pademangan, North Jakarta, in which First Seaman Arifin Sirih was killed.
Another attack occurred seven days later in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, which took the life of Soleh, 17. The next day, four teenagers were assaulted by a group of 30 bikers in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.
Separately, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto said Sunday that he had ordered the police and the military police to work together in arresting the motorcycle-riding perpetrators of the recent spate of violence across Jakarta as soon as possible.
"No matter who they are, military personnel or civilians, they must be taken to court if they are found guilty of such crimes," he said as quoted by tempo.co.
Michael Victor Sianipar As the judicial review of the 2011 State Intelligence Law enters its final phase, the government is contending that the concerns of the civil rights groups challenging the legislation are unfounded under the contemporary democratic system.
The Advocacy Coalition on the Law on State Intelligence (KAUUIN) argues that the legislation violates citizens' constitutional rights to freedom of expression and access to public information.
The coalition includes the rights group Imparsial, the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam), the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) and the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI).
Wahyudi Djafar, the coalition coordinator, said without a clear definition of contentious terms and a proper oversight mechanism, there was the potential for violations and abuses of power by the intelligence community.
Indonesia's intelligence law compares unfavorably to similar laws in other countries, he said, because of its broad definition of state secrets and prescribed criminal charges for those deemed to have violated them.
"In the United States, there is greater clarity that those held responsible are the ones with the authority and the duty to keep state secrets," he said at a Constitutional Court hearing on the judicial review last week.
Wahyudi noted that in the case of the diplomatic cables exposed by WikiLeaks, the US government did not prosecute the journalists or civil rights groups that published the leaks.
"The definition of state secrets is quite clear under the Freedom of Information Act and the National Security Act, and it is not as broad as the definition under our law, which includes defense, security, economic stability and natural resources," he said.
The flexible definition, he said, would make it possible to prosecute someone, for example, who tried to investigate mining contracts or corruption cases.
"If someone tried to investigate the contract of Freeport [a major gold and copper miner], they would be deemed liable for a breach of the intelligence law because the case is connected to natural resources," he said.
"There is no clarity concerning what constitutes a criminal act."
Ali Syafaat, an expert witness who testified at the judicial review for the coalition, agreed that state actors rather than members of civil society should be held responsible for the leak of state information.
"If there is a leak, the fault should lie with the intelligence agency," he said. "Leaks happen because the intelligence community is negligent when it comes to state secrets, and they should be prosecuted for that."
However, Arif Hidayat, an expert witness presented by the government, argued that the coalition had failed to prove its concerns were founded.
"The petitioners have not described clearly which constitutional rights are threatened by the intelligence law," he said. "The historical context that they mention [of intelligence abuses under the New Order regime] is traumatic in nature, but conditions have changed today in a more democratic direction."
Arif said the government was unlikely to abuse its power to obtain intelligence or prosecute civil society engaging in the investigation of sensitive cases. "It may not happen and may never happen under a democratic government," he said.
He also highlighted the importance of the legislative process in the passage of the law. "The intelligence law was passed through a legislative process that is democratic and constitutional, both in terms of how it incorporates public aspirations and upholds transparency," he said.
Further, he argued that by highlighting ethnic conflicts, terrorist acts, drug offenses, corruption and "other things that degrade the principles of Pancasila," the law would give the state the power to maintain order under the cover of a legal framework.
Arif acknowledged that there were flaws in the law, saying they were inevitable in any compromise between the effective maintenance of state secrets and openness of public information in a democratic context.
But he said that trust among members of society and the government was key to ensuring a workable system.
"In this transitional era toward democracy, which we have now been in for 14 years, we still have a low-trust society," he said. "In these kinds of circumstances, if we are not careful about administering the republic, there is the possibility of national disintegration."
Jakarta Luxury vehicle owners are still mixing subsidized and non- subsidized fuels, like Premium and Pertamax, even though the government has urged financially-capable individuals not to use subsidized fuels.
This is what some luxury car owners do, according to gas filling station (SPBU) workers at Bandar Lampung, Lampung Province.
"Luxury vehicle owners who buy Pertamax only to mix it with Premium have become a common sight. It's rare for luxury car owners to just use Pertamax," said Agus, a gas station worker on Jl. Hasanudin, Bandar Lampung, on Tuesday. "They would buy Rp 100,000 worth of Pertamax and add Rp 50,000 in Premium," Agus said.
"It used to be that Pertamax would sell about 1,000 liters per day. Since its prices went up, it would only sell 700-800 liters a day. On the other hand, Premium sales have risen, from 20 kiloliters a day to 23," Agus said.
"I'm often astonished to hear people with luxury cars saying that they can't afford to use non-subsidized fuels," Agus said, as Antara news agency reports.
The same sentiments are echoed by gas station workers in places such as Jl. Pattimura and Jl. Gatot Subroto. The cars in question include models such as the Toyota Alphard, Honda CRV, Kijang Inova, Toyota Fortuner and the Mercedez Benz. (png)
Shamim Adam & Novrida Manurung, Singapore Indonesia's push to lure investment is at risk from "policy slippages" such as the failure to cut fuel subsidies, said Standard & Poor's, the only company with a non- investment-grade rating for the country.
"If the government's subsidy spending alters the fiscal outcome or markedly deteriorates the quality of expenditure or if policy measures deter fresh foreign direct investment, then the ratings could stabilize at the current level," S&P said in a summary analysis released on Friday after its officials visited the country last month.
Indonesia is seeking to return its S&P rating to the highest level since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, which would underscore the country's progress since it needed an International Monetary Fund bailout.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's efforts to contain the budget deficit were hindered last month by the House of Representatives rejection of an immediate increase in subsidized-fuel prices.
"As long as there's no fuel-price increase, Indonesia's rating won't be upgraded by S&P as the rating company needs to see that the government has a good discipline to maintain its fiscal health," said Fauzi Ichsan, senior economist at Standard Chartered in Jakarta. "We expect the government will raise the price of subsidized fuel maybe in July."
Indonesian lawmakers last month rejected the government's proposal for a 33 percent increase in subsidized-fuel prices from April 1, instead allowing it to raise rates only if the Indonesia Crude Price exceeds the state budgetary assumption of $105 a barrel by 15 percent over a six-month period.
The government now plans to reintroduce a proposal to limit sales of subsidized fuel, and is drafting a regulation that may ban private cars with an engine size greater than 1,500 cubic centimeters or 2,000cc from buying subsidized gasoline or diesel, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik said last week.
"We have detected some policy slippages, after a remarkable decade of entrenching democracy following the collapse of the Suharto administration," S&P said. "The abandonment of a planned electricity tariff rise, the inability to implement fuel subsidy cuts despite rising oil prices, and a host of proposed or actual policy measures in industry and trade, point to a rising level of policy uncertainty."
Such a policy environment puts at risk the recent strength of investment, it said. "The report seems to suggest that S&P still sees some factors that may delay its anticipated credit rating upgrade," said Gundy Cahyadi, an economist at Oversea Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore.
"We don't think it is a signal that they will not raise Indonesia's rating, but just a cautionary take that policy risks still play a role in determining Indonesia's risk profile going forward."
Yudhoyono won upgrades from Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investors Service that brought Indonesia to investment grade in the past year as he pledged to contain the budget deficit and allocate funds to infrastructure.
Esther Samboh, Jakarta Indonesia's commercial banks booked Rp 15.5 trillion (US$1.68 billion) in net profits in the first two months of this year, a 40.6 percent increase from a year earlier as the nation's low interest rate environment amid a growing overall economy has spurred the appetite for lending.
The nation's 120 commercial lenders, which include state and foreign-owned banks, saw lending growth of 24.2 percent through February this year to an outstanding Rp 2,203 trillion compared with the same period last year, according to the latest data from banking regulator Bank Indonesia (BI).
"The increase in credit volume has significantly affected profits, as loan growth has been one of the highest on record," said David Sumual, an economist at Bank Central Asia (BBCA), Indonesia's largest private lender.
"That is a great opportunity to strengthen national banks' capitalization," he added. Commercial banks' capital adequacy ratio (CAR), a measure of capital strength, rose to an average of 18.4 percent in February this year from 18.1 percent a year ago.
The increase in lending has also boosted net interest income (NII), which is derived from lending rates charged to customers, to Rp 73.7 trillion as of February, up almost 7 percent from a year ago.
The government's pro-growth policy has resulted in a low interest rate environment in Southeast Asia's largest economy, with BI cutting benchmark interest by a total of 100 basis points in the past year to a record low of 5.75 percent to encourage lending.
BI expected that nationwide, banks would book an average 24 to 25 percent loan growth this year as the overall economy is expecting growth of between 6.3 and 6.7 percent boosting demand for both household consumption and businesses expansion.
"The pattern is that consumer loan growth will continue to be slower than investment and working capital loans, which are more productive. This will continue for the next two or three years," BI deputy governor Muliaman Hadad said.
Investment loans grew the fastest as per February this year at 33.2 percent year-on-year. This compared with working capital loan growth of 23.4 percent and a 19.6 percent increase in consumer lending.
BI has also required banks to publicly announce their so-called prime lending rate, which banks charge to their most trustworthy customers, to create competition in the lending market, which in turn is expected to bring down lending rates and spur demand for credit.
"There has been a slide in the prime lending rate, but not as much as what we expected, so we will push efforts in bringing down the base lending rate," Muliaman said. The average bank lending rate dropped to 11.16 percent as of February this year from 11.84 percent a year ago.
There have been concerns, however, that BI's new regulation requires around a 30 percent down payment for automotive and housing loans, which will likely result in slower growth in consumer loans, analysts said.
Brushing off concerns, Bank Mandiri president director Zulkifli Zaini said the nation's largest lender so far saw little impact from the new ruling.
"We are seeing positive growth and NPL [non-performing loan] declines, while other indicators are also performing well," Zulkifli said in reference to Bank Mandiri's first quarter results, which saw overall lending growing above industry average at 29 percent.
Overall, national banks' bad loans are also on a downward trajectory, standing at 2.33 percent in February versus 2.78 percent during the same period last year.
Ezra Sihite, Bayu Marhaenjati & Arientha Primanita Sudomo, a former cabinet minister, Navy chief and top security commander, died in Jakarta on Wednesday morning at the age of 85.
He had been in intensive care at Pondok Indah Hospital in South Jakarta since Saturday for a blood clot in the brain after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke while attending a wedding reception, his family said.
Biakto Putra, Sudomo's oldest son, said the former admiral passed away at 10:05 a.m. on Wednesday. He said the stroke had been unexpected because his father did not have a history of serious illness and had never complained about feeling ill.
Sudomo began his career in the Navy, where he served as chief of staff from 1969-73. He was later appointed commander of the Command for the Restoration of Security and Public Order (Kopkamtib), the pervasive security network set up by Suharto following the 1965 coup attempt.
He headed the Kopkamtib from 1978-83, after which he was named the manpower minister under Suharto. After a five-year stint in the post, he was promoted to coordinating minister for political and security affairs, where he served until 1993.
Several of his former contemporaries arrived at Sudomo's home in Pondok Indah on Wednesday afternoon to pay their last respects and remember the man they used to work alongside.
Akbar Tandjung, chairman of Golkar's leadership board and a minister under Suharto, remembered Sudomo as a "down-to-earth man" with an "important role in the New Order government." "If you were to judge from his appearance, you would never know that he had such a crucial role in the New Order," he said.
Ginandjar Kartasasmita, another decorated Suharto-era minister and former air marshal in the Air Force, said Sudomo's time in the cabinet was marked by his knack for breaking down complex problems and making them seem simple.
"Throughout his time in office he never came across as an intimidating figure," he said. "If a problem was difficult, he made it easy. Even though he was a figure from an authoritarian regime, he set a good example for the people and the government."
Harmoko, Suharto's former communications minister, said he had always been in awe of Sudomo. "He was known for being courageous in everything he did, whether it was in the military or as a minister," he said.
Siswono Yudo Husodo, another Suharto-era minister, said Sudomo was an instrumental figure in the "freeing of West Irian," referring to the Indonesian takeover of western Papua in 1963, and in helping thwart the Sept. 30 coup attempt two years later.
Praise for Sudomo also came pouring in from current ministers who were not professionally acquainted with him.
Jero Wacik, the minister for energy and mineral resources, said he knew Sudomo through their shared hobby of golf, adding they often played together. Sudomo was a former head of the national golfing association. "I am truly saddened by this loss. He rendered a lot of services to the nation," Jero said at the State Palace.
Djoko Suyanto, the current coordinating minister for security, acknowledged that while Sudomo might have been a controversial figure during the New Order, he had done a lot for the country and "brought color into the lives of the people."
Sudomo will be buried at 9 a.m. today at the Kalibata Heroes' Cemetery in South Jakarta, with Vice President Boediono to lead the funeral services.
Sita W. Dewi and Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta Indonesians have a strong tendency to refrain from speaking ill of the recently deceased. Their sins and misdeeds are supposed to be buried along with the corpse.
So when Adm. (ret) Sudomo, 85, died on Wednesday, people naturally discussed the positive aspects of the man. Vice President Boediono will preside over his funeral service at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery on Thursday morning.
Born in Malang on Sept. 20, 1926, the retired admiral is survived by four children.
However, some have reluctantly talked about Sudomo's darker side as one of then president Soeharto's key aides during the latter's iron-fisted rule. He was directly responsible for maintaining security and public order for five years from 1978 to 1983, when Soeharto gave Sudomo a free rein in not tolerating any security disturbance of any nature.
The military often committed gross human rights abuses during Soeharto's 32-year rule including during Sudomo's tenure as chief of the Command for Restoration of Security and Public Order (Pangkokamtib). Hundreds of students, anti-government activists, Muslim hard-liners and even innocent people were jailed, many without trials during his command.
Satisfied with his loyal service, Soeharto kept Sudomo by his side until his fall in May 1998. From 1983 to 1988 he served as his manpower and transmigration minister he jokingly described his position as 'horsepower minister' before taking the new position as the coordinating minister for political and security affairs in 1988.
He held the position for five years until 1993. For another year, Soeharto entrusted him as his chief advisor, in his position as the chairman of the now defunct Supreme Advisory Council (DPA).
Many people had strong feelings about him but his great sense of humour, generosity and solidarity with his former colleagues and friends went far to balance his negative role as Soeharto's right-hand man.
Ali Sadikin, the former governor of Jakarta was one of Soeharto's staunchest critics. The retired three-star Marine general was one of Sudomo's former chiefs in the Navy. Sudomo always showed his respect to his former boss who lived near his home on Jl. Borobudur, Menteng, even when Ali teased him in public.
During Soeharto's era, a military chief was expected to look after his troops as well as the welfare of their families. Many soldiers and his staff have testified to the helpfulness of Sudomo, especially in sharing the burden of the cost of sending their children to school or university.
To some of his close friends, Sudomo was remembered as a humble and good- natured man.
"Judging from his appearance, Sudomo never looked like he was a person who had a strategic role in the Soeharto era. He was very friendly. He sometimes came late to an event and chose to just sit at the back of the venue," former Golkar Party chairman Akbar Tandjung said on Wednesday.
Akbar, who visited Sudomo in the hospital three days before he died, said that Sudomo's death was a big loss to the country and to his close friends.
Pitan Daslani Navy Commander Adm. R.E. Martadinata looked tense as he gathered top officers at the Navy headquarters in early January 1962. Then-President Sukarno had ordered a top-secret infiltration into West Irian (now Papua), which was occupied by Dutch colonial forces. Moments later he turned to Lt. Col. Sudomo, sitting on his right.
"Make all the necessary preparations," Martadinata said as silence gripped the room. "Yes sir, I will do as told," Sudomo replied, recalling Sukarno's speech of Dec. 19, 1961, which instructed forces of the nation to do three things "cancel a Dutch plan to establish the republic of Papua, raise the Indonesian national flag in Papua and mobilize national forces to complete the mission."
Earlier, on Jan. 2 that year, Sukarno had appointed Maj. Gen. Suharto to lead the Mandala Command based in Makassar This command was meant to expel the Dutch from Papua.
At the Navy headquarters, top officers were having a follow-up meeting that week. Nobody dared to come forth when Sudomo asked who would volunteer to lead the infiltration mission to Papua.
The room fell silent when Sudomo spoke as the officers knew that direct combat against the Dutch would be suicidal given a lack of modern military equipment. But the young Col. Sudomo turned to Martadinata and said: "I will lead this mission if nobody else will."
The admiral nodded and the Navy's deputy commander, Yos Sudarso, rose from the chair and praised Sudomo's courage. "I need this kind of officer. I will go with you. If you go, I must go." On the night of Jan. 9, 1962, Sudomo left for Papua.
Sudomo was in the ship Harimau and behind him were the ships Macan Tutul and Macan Kumbang. He gathered all the officers to give his final instructions. "Some were higher in rank than me but since I was the commander of this mission, they listened to me," Sudomo recalled in his 1997 book, "Laksamana Sudomo, Mengatasi Gelombang Kehidupan" ("Admiral Sudomo, Overcoming the Waves of Life").
On the evening of Jan. 15, 1962, Sudomo ordered the ships to enter the Dutch-patrolled Papua waters. He did not realize that a Dutch Neptune jet fighter was monitoring their movements. That night, the fleet came under heavy attack from air and sea. Realizing that their mission was not to attack, and without the necessary weapons to do so, Sudomo swiftly ordered the ships to make a U-turn for safety.
After the other ships had escaped the Dutch attack, to Sudomo's surprise, the command of Macan Tutul was taken over by his superior, Yos Sudarso. Instead of retreating, Yos Sudarso's Macan Tutul sped into the direction of the enemy's fleet. Sudomo recalled him shouting: "Fight on for our dignity." Around 20 minutes later, Macan Tutul began to sink in the Arafura waters, along with Yos Sudarso, who to this day is remembered as a national hero. Sudomo had to lead the other two ships back to safety for a bigger mission liberate Papua which in 1963 was made part of the Republic of Indonesia.
Many recalled this piece of Indonesian history upon hearing on Wednesday that Sudomo had passed away at the age of 85. To many young leaders, Sudomo was a great source of inspiration, especially for his decisiveness and ability to embrace people from various backgrounds.
After the liberation of Papua, Sudomo became commander of the Navy. But here is another coincidence: The last day of his life was the anniversary of the day that he was appointed leader of the Command for the Restoration of Security and Public Order (Kopkamtib), the New Order's security superbody. It was on that day in 1978 that then-President Suharto put him in the chair and gave him full authority to take all the necessary actions to restore stability under the antisubversion law.
As of that day Sudomo became one of the most feared military leaders in this country given the nearly limitless extent of Kopkamtib's power. Two other generals similarly feared then were L.B. Moerdani, who was a top intelligence architect and later became commander of the Armed Forces, and Yoga Sugama, who led the National Intelligence Coordinating Body (Bakin). They were often referred to as Suharto's "security trio," but Sudomo was exceptional because while being feared in public, he was at the same time a humorous and romantic person.
Suharto also trusted Sudomo with the positions of coordinating minister for political and security affairs and minister of manpower. The last official position Sudomo occupied was chairman of the Supreme Advisory Board providing advice to the president.
To ordinary people, Pak Domo as he was affectionately known was a great leader who was a bit flamboyant, especially after retiring from military duties. He married no less than three times and enjoyed life into old age.
He liked cracking jokes, sometimes a bit naughty when facing the right type of audience. But his purpose in life was simple, as he once said: "Give them a reason to laugh and be happy."
Max Lane Between March 24 and 30, a wave of quite militant demonstrations against the coalition government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono spread throughout Indonesia. For the first time, some of the major trade union confederations joined the actions.
Scores were arrested and scores more hurt as police dispersed the demonstrators with tear gas and batons. At least three people were reported shot and wounded. Protesters replied with Molotov cocktails and, in some areas, the burning down of police stations. Unions also occupied the state radio station in Jakarta and got broadcasters to read their manifesto. Unions and activists successfully blockaded the Jakarta port for half a day.
The issue that provoked the demonstrations was the government's proposal to increase fuel prices by 30%. The price increase will squeeze the millions of motorbike riders (the main form of transport in Indonesia now), result in public transport price increases and spur general inflation. Given the widespread poverty the majority of the population survives on less than $2 per day the Yudhoyono coalition's decision is seen on the streets as one more sign of its lack of interest in improving the conditions of the mass of population.
The actions halted after the government retreated on the issue, finding a face-saving way to postpone the price increases. On March 30, the parliament met all day and one by one the parties in Yudhoyono's coalition, including eventually his own Democrat Party, caved in. The fuel price rises have been postponed until the international oil price rises 15% above the price in the government's budget assumptions, perhaps in six months.
All of the ruling parties were afraid that the demonstrations might escalate and threaten general stability. The Indonesian political system is in a fragile state.
Last November 30, a university student, Sondang Hutagalung, set himself alight in front of the Presidential Palace. He died seven days later in hospital, with burns to 97% of his body. He was protesting against the regime's "dableg"-ness (complete lack of interest) in the conditions of the mass of the people. Self-immolation usually happens under dictatorships, not in systems where there are (more or less) free elections. Sondang was soon given the status of a national hero on the streets. The Sondang incident took place as more violent clashes occurred between farmers and plantations and miners. Several farmers were shot dead by police.
Politicians, even some from parties in the Yudhoyono coalition, also joined the demonstrations in some cities, including some holding senior positions in local government.
The political party that postures as an opposition in the Indonesian parliament, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), headed by former President Megawati Sukarnoputri, has been angling to win points from the public on the issue, but has exposed itself as very vacillating. In January Megawati announced that she supported the price rises. Then later some of its parliamentary leaders indicated they opposed the price rises and issued an instruction that their members support the demonstrations. Then Megawati signed an instruction banning PDIP members from joining the demonstration. On March 27, some PDIP members did mobilise, depending on the town. Some PDIP members of parliament, such as Rieke Diah Pitaloka, who has been a consistent supporter of some of the unions, and Ribka Tjiptaning and Maruarar Sirait supported the demonstrations.
Two small parties led by notorious Suharto-era generals, Prabowo and Wiranto, also opposed the fuel price rises, but ordered their members not to demonstrate. Suharto's old party, Golkar, headed by tycoon Aburizal Bakrie, also in the end opposed the price rises.
Indonesian economic statistics show a steady growth in gross domestic product over the last eight to 10 years, mainly based on exports of minerals (especially coal to China) and also of palm oil. The government's revenues have almost doubled, as have its expenditures. The middle class has exploded in size, growing by a million people a year. One indicator is car sales. In 1998, car sales were only 58,000. In 2000, they were 260,000. In 2012, it is estimated, one million cars will be sold.
The growth in the middle class has become the measure of "development". It has also become the basis of the political stability of the last 10 years: a middle class boom, combined with a grumbling passivity among the other 80-90% of the population.
This other 80% has become increasingly alienated from the national political party system. Voter participation in national elections has dropped from over 90% in 1999 to around 50% in more recent elections. Active party membership, especially in the pseudo-populist PDIP, has shrivelled. Where voters have shown some enthusiasm, it has been for candidates with no background in politics: TV celebrities, for example.
The one area where the formal processes are receiving some positive responses at least for now is in provincial and local politics, where a few local populist politicians, usually without a long record of party politics, have won popularity by reducing wasteful expenditure (travel, cars etc.) and redirecting some of the savings to the peddler marketing sector or to health or education.
The inertia of the Yudhoyono government is underpinned by its confidence that the new middle class is happy and that is the most important thing. Meanwhile, the discontent among the 80% deepens.
However, while these demonstrations are likely the first early signs of the end to their passivity, almost 100% of the demonstrations were by organised forces: unions, student groups, NGOs and action committees. There was virtually no spontaneous participation. The masses watched but did not involve themselves. The government retreated before that could happen. And as soon as the government retreated, the protest momentum halted almost totally.
There are likely to be a few more similar waves of protests before spontaneous mass participation occurs. And while no political leadership emerges, either in the form of authoritative organisations or figures, that spontaneous organisation may tend to take the form of rioting rather than a progressive political challenge.
Various coalitions of progressive political groups as well as sectoral- based organisations (such as trade unions and student groups) are currently planning to try to relaunch their campaigns before and on May Day.