Jakarta Vice President Boediono has criticized the volume of loudspeakers that are used to broadcast the call for Muslim prayers popularly known as adzan. He said that while all citizens would "understand that adzan are very sacred for all Muslims", he preferred "adzan with lower voices" instead of "loud ones".
"I feel, and perhaps other people feel the same thing, that adzan with lower volumes and heard from long distances will touch our hearts more than the hard, loud ones," he said.
He was delivering the opening speech at the 6th conference of the Indonesian Mosque Council (DMI) at the Pondok Gede Hajj dormitory in East Jakarta on Friday. He asked DMI members to start discussing a policy to set the volume of loudspeakers at all mosques in the country.
Furthermore, he also asked the DMI to go all out to prevent any mosque from being misused as a facility to propagate hatred and radicalism. He added that a place for worship should not be used as means to provoke conflict between people.
"Do not ever let the mosques fall into the hands of those who want to convey messages that may lead to violent acts and terrorism," he said. (asa/dic)
Rahmat, Makassar Police in South Sulawesi's Gowa district arrested two Koran recital teachers on Wednesday for allegedly sodomizing an 8-year-old student.
The suspects, identified only as A.J. and A.H., are alleged to have been caught by a resident in the act of removing the boy's trousers in their room on the second floor of a mosque on Tuesday night.
They were not reported or handed over to the police. Instead, residents waited until about 2 a.m. on Wednesday, when they rushed into the mosque, reportedly with the aim of handing out mob justice to the suspects.
The two teachers were able to flee the mob and ran to the nearest police station while being chased by the residents.
They were taken into protective custody by the police and later transferred to the Gowa Police headquarters, where they reportedly confessed to having sodomized the boy on at least six separate occasions.
Adj. Comr. Andry Lilikay, a police spokesman, said the teachers told officers that they had gotten the victim to comply by giving him money. "They said they offered him Rp 10,000 to do it each time," he said.
Andry said that both men would be charged under the Criminal Code and the 2002 Law on Child Protection. "Those charges carry a minimum prison sentence of 15 years," he said.
The case mirrors another one earlier this month in the same province. In that case, an Islamic teacher was arrested in Bulukumba district for allegedly molesting a female student.
The teacher at a state junior high school was arrested on April 12 while trying to flee the area, after the girl's father reportedly threatened to kill him.
Bandung Indonesia's controversial Minister of Communications and Information Technology Tifatul Sembiring says he has become a target of social network users who do not hold back their criticism.
"I am often bullied," Tifatul said on Wednesday. As an example, he said one commentator even implied that he did nothing to justify his wages as a minister.
The minister, speaking during an event on information technology and communication in Bandung, West Java, said even the president never scolded him that way, adding that his own curiosity caused him to join microblogging service Twitter.
Tifatul currently has 364,780 followers and his often controversial policies, including blocking porn sites, have made him the target of heated online discussions. He is also infamous for a string of embarrassing gaffes that have made headlines around the world.
The minister from the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party was criticized when he shook hands with the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, despite claiming he would not do so with a non-related female. He claimed the first lady forced him to shake hands, despite television footage of the 'incident' completely contradicting his statement.
He has also blamed a string of natural disasters in Indonesia on "immorality." Tifatul said that while social networking had a positive impact, it could also be negative because the users tended to be "unethical and impolite."
Akhirul Anwar/JIBI, Jogja Scores of people from the United People's Committee (KBR) held an action in front of the Beringharjo Market on Jl. Ahmad Yani in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on the afternoon of Friday April 27.
The protesters brought a banner with the message: "Plenary Meeting: Lies, the price of fuel and staple goods will still go up, people of Indonesia, let's unite and seize power for prosperity", referring to the House of Representatives meeting last month that postponed the planned fuel price hikes.
They also brought ballot boxes to collect the results of a people's survey on the planned fuel price hikes, the restrictions on subsidised fuel use and increases in basic goods as a flow on from the fuel price increase policy. Around 4,000 people have filled out the questioners.
Based on the results of the survey, as many as 164 Yogyakartans support the planned fuel price hike and restrictions on the use of subsidised fuel. The numbers that disagree however was much higher, around 3,832 people or around 96 percent of respondents.
KBR spokesperson Zuleyadi explained that they have been distributing the questionnaires since April 11. The other locations that have been picked out include the Malioboro shopping district, the regencies of Bantul and Sleman and a number of factories. (ali)
The United People's Committee (Komite Rakyat Bersatu, KBR) is new alliance of left groups in Yogyakarta that was formed following the nation-wide protest actions that forced the government to delay a 33 percent fuel price hike planned for April 1. The three main groups in the KBR are the People's Liberation Party (PPR), the Working People's Association-Organisational Saviours Committee (KPO-PRP, a 2011 split from PRP) and United Indonesian Struggle (PPI). Also supporting the alliance is the Free Women National Committee (KNPM), the Political Union of the Poor (PPRM), the Student Struggle Center for National Liberation (Pembebasan), the United Indonesian Labour Movement (PPBI), the Yogyakarta Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance Confederation (SPCI, PPW SBJR, SP-SCE) and the Yogyakarta Student Action Front (FAM-J). The KRB is planning a series of coordinated actions on May Day.
Nethy Dharma Somba and Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jayapura/Jakarta Papuan lawmakers have urged Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi to replace caretaker governor Syamsul Arief due to him being "incapable of performing his tasks, especially in relation to holding gubernatorial elections".
Chairman of the Papuan Lawmaker Caucus, Paskalis Kossay said that the caucus and Papuan people were disappointed with the acting governor's performance since his appointment in July 2011.
The pitfalls, he said, were testified to by the absence of a fixed schedule of gubernatorial elections. "The time has come for him [Syamsul Arief Rivai] to be replaced by a competent acting governor," he said during a field tour on Wednesday.
Paskalis blamed the stalled gubernatorial election on Syamsul, whose main task was to help facilitate the organization of a gubernatorial election in the province. "Syamsul was appointed coincidentally as acting governor in West Papua. The election in West Papua was held in time and its elect governor was sworn in on Jan. 17, 2012," he said.
West Papua Governor Abraham Octavianus Atururi won re-election for the 2012-2017 period.
Paskalis said the caucus had delivered an official letter to the minister, asking for Syamsul's replacement with the hope that preparations for the gubernatorial election could be accelerated.
He said that according to the 2004 regional administration, an election should be held six months after the tenure of governor Barnabas Suebu expired in July 2011.
"Besides the incompetence issue, Syamsul should be replaced because he reached his mandatory pension age of 60 on Jan. 28, 2012 while the regional administration law requires acting governors to be active civil servants," he said.
Separately, the executive director of a Papuan NGO, Septer Manufandu, accused Syamsul of deliberately stalling the election, as indicated by the absence of a serious move to resolve the prolonged conflict between the provincial legislature and the provincial general election commission.
He regretted that Syamsul did not show a strong commitment to implementing the home minister's decree in resettling the conflict between the two provincial institutions.
According to the minister's decree, the gubernatorial election is generally similar to the ones in other provinces, except for the special requirements that governor and deputy governor candidates for Papua must be indigenous Papuans.
Meanwhile, the director general of regional autonomy at the Home Ministry, Djohermansyah Djohan, denounced critics as misleading because Syamsul's retirement age had already been extended by the minister in January and the election's postponement had nothing to do with his performance.
"The law on civil servants allows the government to extend state officials' pension age if it is needed and deemed necessary, and Syamsul's retirement age has been extended until January 2013," he said.
Djohermansyah also said the election's suspension was caused by the late deliberation by the provincial legislature of the special bylaw on local elections in the province, and that the bylaw had already been endorsed by the provincial legislature and approved by the minister.
"The home minister is waiting for the proposal of the election schedule and its phases from the provincial election commission," he said, added that Jakarta had entrusted Papuans with organizing the election.
Djohermansyah also said the minister had his own considerations and authority in appointing Syamsul as acting governor as stipulated in the regional administration law.
He cited a fact that Syamsul was former director general of regional development affairs at the ministry and was also an acting governor in West Papua until a permanent governor was elected.
Hotli Simanjuntak, Banda Aceh Having failed to get reelected in the Aceh gubernatorial election on April 9, Irwandi Yusuf has established a new political party.
The National Aceh Party (PNA), which was registered on Tuesday, is chaired by Irwansyah, known as Teungku Muksalmina.
He went to the Law and Human Rights Ministry office in Banda Aceh with several members of Irwandi's campaign team. Among them were Ligadinsyah, Muharram, Amin bin Ahmad Marzuki, Lukman Age and Thamren Ananda, but not Irwandi himself.
"The newly born National Aceh Party will serve as the vehicle of aspiration and unity for the Aceh people, particularly for those who adhere to practical politics as part of democracy," Irwansyah said.
Pending verification by the ministry, the party appeared to have met the necessary requirements with the establishment of regional boards being pursued in the 23 regencies across the province.
Through his new political vehicle, Irwandi, the former intelligence chief for the now-defunct Free Aceh Movement (GAM) separatist group, hopes for better results than those in the recent election. The election was won by bitter rival and former GAM chief Zaini Abdullah by a wide margin of votes.
Zaini and running mate Muzakir Manaf ran in the poll as candidates from the Aceh Party, a local political party that Irwandi also belonged to at the start of his governorship term. Irwandi contested this year's poll as an independent candidate however following a rift within the Aceh Party that saw the breakaway of some of the party's board members to support Irwandi during the occasionally violent campaign.
Apart from establishing the new party, Irwandi has filed a lawsuit with the Constitutional Court over the results of the election, claiming that the poll had been marred by fraud and intimidation and demanding the results be annulled.
Irwansyah denied suggestions that the establishment of the National Aceh Party had been motivated by former GAM elites' disappointment at the poll's results.
"Indeed, many National Aceh Party's leaders are former GAM combatants expelled from the Aceh Party and the KPA," he said. The KPA refers to the Aceh Transitional Committee, formed in the wake of the 2005 Helsinki peace agreement between GAM and Jakarta.
The PNA's establishment has been welcomed by one observer as helping to nurture democracy in Aceh.
"Hopefully, it can create competitiveness in Aceh's political landscape with a framework to foster the message of peace mandated in the Helsinki agreement and Aceh's administrative bylaws," Taufik Abdullah, a lecturer at Malikul Saleh University said.
The PNA, he said, should be able to complement the Aceh Party, especially when the latter experiences political setbacks.
Jakarta President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's intention to apologize to families and victims of past human rights abuses and draft a mechanism for compensation falls short of the expectations of those seeking justice.
On Friday, families of several activists who were forcibly disappeared in 1997/1998 went to the Ombudsman's office, calling for the government to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Accompanied by Commission for Missing Person and Victims of Violence (KontraS) coordinator Haris Azhar, they filed a report accusing the President of negligence for not setting up an ad hoc court to examine the missing activists case.
In September 2009, the House recommended the President to form an ad hoc human rights court to solve the case.
"According to the 2008 Law on Ombudsman, such negligence falls under the category of maladministration and it is under the authority of the Ombudsman to follow up," he said.
"We want the Ombudsman to investigate this negligence and to guarantee the families of the victims this case will be examined thoroughly. The result of such an investigation should be made to public." Under the 2000 Law on Human Rights Courts, an ad hoc human rights court should be formed by a presidential decree under the House's recommendation to solve any human rights violations including those that occurred prior to the enactment of the law.
Tuti Koto, mother of abducted democracy activist Yani Afri, said she had to accept the fact that she may never know whether her son is dead or alive. "However, the case still has to be legally processed," she said. "I don't want my grandchildren have to face the same fate as my son,"
Yani was a public transportation driver and loyalist of Megawati Soekarnoputri, then opposition leader and chair of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), which was very critical of Soeharto's government and its ruling party, Golkar. Yani disappeared in 1997 and has never returned since.
Nine victims of abduction, including Pius Lustrilanang a current member of the House of Representatives from the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) were released alive in 1998.
Victims claim they were abducted by Kopassus, an elite Army unit which has since admitted its role in the abductions. However, Kopassus also claims everybody taken during that time has been set free. Thirteen, including Yani, are still missing. All were activists or linked directly with political parties.
"We have submitted the recommendations of Komnas HAM [The National Commission on Human Rights] to the Attorney General's Office [AGO] since 2006. But, the AGO keeps on saying the file was incomplete or the case had been settled by the military court," Harris said. (aml)
Rabby Pramudatama, Jakarta Several victims and their families are skeptical about President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's plan to apologize for previous human rights abuses.
Saying sorry was not enough, according to Maria Catarina Sumarsih, 60, the mother of Bernandus Realino Norma Irmawan, a student who was killed in the 1998 Semanggi shooting incident. "What concerns us is that no concrete actions will be taken as a follow-up to the public apology," she told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
Sumarsih said that it was important for the government to first acknowledge the gross human rights violations that happened in the past.
"This step is possible through the National Commission on Human Rights [Komnas HAM], which could work as an institution that could launch an investigation. It can also decide whether crimes from the past can be categorized as gross human rights violations," she said.
Albert Hasibuan, a member of the Presidential Advisory Council responsible for legal issues, confirmed on Wednesday that Yudhoyono intended to deliver an apology to the victims of past rights abuses.
The council is now preparing a draft speech of apology for the President's approval. Human rights activist Usman Hamid said that state acknowledgment of previous human rights abuses would be included in the apology.
Usman was part of a discussion with the Presidential Advisory Council on the apology and was present during a meeting on the issue with Yudhoyono. "As for the final result, let us wait and see," he told the Post.
He said that the civil society groups and political parties at the House of Representatives could put pressure on the President to take concrete steps on past rights abuses.
A previous apology was made by then president B.J. Habibie, who also called for a thorough investigation for past rights abuses. However, no action was taken. Another president, Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid, made a similar gesture and agreed to rehabilitate the victims of rights abuses, although again, without serious follow-up.
Sumarsih said that she feared that the planned apology by Yudhoyono would end in the same way.
M. Daud from the Commission for Missing Person and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said that victims would need legal certainty from the government on whether rights abuse had taken place.
"As the legal process for the right abuse cases stalls at the Attorney General's Office, the reality is the stigma and the discrimination remain. Look at the people in Talangsari," he said, referring to the village in Lampung where soldiers went on a rampage against suspected members of the banned Indonesian Islamic State movement in 1989.
The government has said 27 were killed in the mayhem; others have maintained that the true number of those killed was almost 10 times higher. Daud said that until today, the people of Talangsari had no access to public facilities including electricity and roads.
A father of one of the victims of the Talangsari violence, Azwar Kaili, 70, said that he wanted Yudhoyono to guarantee equal rights for the residents of Talangsari. "He has made this promise before," he said," he said. "We need him to walk the talk."
Erwida Maulia Human Rights Watch has criticized British Prime Minister David Cameron for his statements about Indonesia's democracy, saying he overrated it while neglecting reports of ongoing rights abuses.
Cameron praised Indonesia during his Jakarta visit earlier this month, saying Indonesia's transition to democracy could be a model for other Muslim majority nations. "The people of Indonesia can show through democracy there is an alternative to dictatorship and extremism. That here in the country with the biggest Muslim population on the planet, religion and democracy need not be in conflict," he told students at Al-Azhar University in Jakarta on April 12.
"Following your example, young Muslims across the world will be inspired to choose democracy as their future," he added.
HRW, however, issued a statement on Friday criticizing Cameron's remarks, saying he "overstated" Indonesia's democracy and disregarded "serious ongoing human rights violations" in the country.
"The Indonesian government has done little to stop increasing violence and discrimination by Islamist militant groups against religious minorities such as Ahmadis, Christians, and Shiite Muslims," the group said.
"In Indonesia's Papua and West Papua provinces, Indonesian security forces are still not held fully accountable for rights violations against peaceful independence activists."
HRW also expressed its concern with Cameron's plan to lift a decade-old ban on exporting British military equipment to Indonesia. The group said it sent a letter, also on Friday, to the British prime minister over the criticism.
Cameron and Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono witnessed the signing of a $2.5 billion deal between national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia and Airbus in Jakarta during Cameron's visit.
The two leaders also said they would try to double trade between their countries within three years.
Jakarta London-based human rights watchdog, Amnesty International (AI), called on Indonesian police officers to stop using excessive force when dealing with peaceful demonstrations in the country.
In a statement released on Tuesday, AI charged Indonesia's police with beating, shooting and even killing people with no fear of prosecution, leaving their victims with little hope of receiving justice.
AI's Indonesia Campaign Coordinator, Josef Roy Benedict, said an independent body should be set up to properly investigate all allegations of human rights violations but with a mandate to enable it to submit its findings for prosecution.
"So far, most police personnel who are accused of misconduct are only subjected to internal proceedings," Josef said.
He added that despite over a decade of reform, police officers continue to be implicated in cases of shooting and beating individuals taking part in peaceful protests and land disputes, as well as heavy-handed treatment of suspects during regular arrests.
Josef said Indonesia had no independent national body to effectively deal with public complaints about alleged human rights violations by police.
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the National Police Commission can accept complaints by the public about police misconduct, but they have no authority to refer the cases to prosecutors.
AI reported that in December 2011, three people were killed and dozens injured when 100 people peacefully blocked a road in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara, in a protest over a mining exploration permit.
Around 600 police personnel, including members of the police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob), were dispatched to disperse them. According to the group, the Bima Police chief ordered officers to use force to quell the protest.
In the subsequent internal disciplinary proceedings, five police officers were reportedly punished with three days detention for beating and kicking protesters who put up no resistance.
In North Sumatra, in a land dispute in June 2011 Brimob officers, who were attempting to forcibly evict a community in Langkat district, reportedly fired tear gas as well as live and rubber bullets at villagers defending their homes, injuring at least nine people. (fzm)
Rabby Pramudatama, Jakarta President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) is expected to make an apology to families and victims of past human rights abuses, including those who perished in the purge of members of the now- defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in 1965.
A member of the Presidential Advisory Council on legal issues, Albert Hasibuan, confirmed on Wednesday that Yudhoyono intended to deliver an apology, adding that the council was preparing a draft speech for him to approve.
"It all started with the President's willingness [to make an apology] that could serve as a starting point to resolve the country's past human rights violations," Albert said after a meeting with the National Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) on Wednesday.
Albert said that with the apology, the country could look to the future without being burdened by the past.
Albert later told The Jakarta Post that the Presidential Advisory Council, besides preparing the draft of the speech, was also devising a mechanism to compensate victims.
"It would include a mechanism by which the government would fulfil the victims' rights, which includes access to compensation and retribution," he said.
Albert said that the idea to apologize for past rights abuses first occurred to Yudhoyono in January. "We should applaud his decision and follow through with the President's intention because no president in the past ever made the gesture," he said.
Albert said that Yudhoyono would deliver the apology to families and victims of those who perished in the purge of PKI members in 1965, the Tanjung Priok massacre in 1984 as well as the May 1998 riots.
He also said that Yudhoyono would make the apology before his term ended in 2014 because he wanted the gesture to be his legacy.
Throughout modern history, Indonesia has seen numerous cases of gross violations of human rights, the most grim being the prosecution without trial of thousands of alleged members of the now-defunct PKI, which happened soon after an aborted coup blamed on the Communist Party.
Yudhoyono's father in-law, Sarwo Edhi Wibowo, was one of former president Soeharto's field commanders when thousands of suspected PKI members were massacred in Java.
Human rights activists and families of victims have been relentlessly struggling for justice in many ways, including by gathering in front of the Presidential Palace each Thursday afternoon from 2007 up until now. The activists have renewed their calls to the government not to make them victims of political amnesia.
Contacted separately, National Commission on Human Rights chairman Ifdhal Kasim said that the apology could be the most practical way to settle past human rights abuses. He said that settling past human rights violations through conventional legal means would drag on with only a slight hope of resolution.
"So we need an alternative way to tackle the problem, and in this case the President should come forward on behalf of the state to apologize to the victims and make a policy on compensating victims," he said.
Ifdhal said that by apologizing for past rights abuses, Yudhoyono would address grievances among victims and that could serve as a first concrete step toward rehabilitation and reconciliation.
He said that Yudhoyono could issue either a presidential decree or a presidential instruction as a legal basis to initiate the rehabilitation and reconciliation efforts. "It is more practical instead of the President proposing a law to the House of Representatives, which would take a very long time," he said.
Ifdhal said Yudhoyono should make the apology sooner rather than later. "We should prevent the issue of past human rights violations from being used as a political commodity to attack political rivals or raise their popularity," he said.
Kontras executive coordinator Haris Azhar applauded the plan but said it would not mean much. "There has to be disclosure to the public about what really happened in the past." (fzm)
Victims: 1.5 million
Description: Victims mostly Indonesian Communist Party members.
Settlement: No solution.
Description: Aceh was declared a Military Operation Zone with a high level
of violence with many victims.
Settlement: A peace settlement in 2005.
Victims: 74 people
Description: Military opened fire on demonstrators.
Settlement: An ad hoc Human Rights Court passes light sentences. Inadequate reparation for victims.
Description: Intensive military operations carried out by the military to deal with the Free Papua Organization (OPM).
Settlement: No solution.
Victims: 1,317 people affected
Description: State stormed the Indonesian Democratic Party office.
Settlement: Civilians sentenced by court. No military officials punished. No reparations for victims.
Victims: 803 people
Description: The repression of Muslim communities in Central Lampung accused of being extreme rightists.
The place of the rebellious Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) in the ruling coalition again appears secure, despite weeks of discontent from members of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party.
Things have quieted after several meetings between the leaders of Yudhoyono's multi-party coalition that excluded PKS representatives.
Further, the Cabinet's three PKS ministers remain in place: Agriculture Minister Suswono, Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al Jufri and Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring.
Yunarto Widjaya, a political analyst from Charta Politika, said the maintenance of the status quo was a classic example of Yudhoyono's leadership style of wanting to play things safe during a contentious political situation.
"[Yudhoyono] just does not want to have enemies in his coalition. I think this is the President's decision-making style. He wants to create political harmony," Yunarto told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
Yunarto said that the drive to eject the PKS from the coalition reflected an emotional outburst from some Democratic Party politicians who Yudhoyono eventually mollified.
The soft handling of the PKS was not the first instance where Yudhoyono ignored rumblings within his Democratic Party against other parties.
"The Democratic Party never lives up to its official statements because its chief patron [Yudhoyono] never follows up on its recommendations. He just wants to play it safe," Yunarto said.
Earlier this month, the PKS declined to support the government's policy to raise fuel prices.
Lawmakers from the Muslim-based party in the House of Representatives defended a proposed article to amend the 2012 budget that would have barred the government from raising fuel prices.
During deliberations at a plenary session, the PKS allied with three opposition parties the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) and the Great Indonesian Movement Party (Gerindra) to oppose the government's plan.
The PKS bucked its partners in the ruling coalition that had accepted the government's proposal to allow it to increase subsidized fuel prices if the Indonesian Crude Price (ICP) increased by 15 percent within six months.
Meanwhile, Burhanuddin Muhtadi, a political analyst from the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI), said that Yudhoyono needed the status quo to maintain equilibrium in the coalition.
"He wants to maintain balance in the coalition, because if the PKS exits without a replacement, the coalition will be too dependent on the Golkar Party."
However, Burhanuddin said, the President's indecisiveness meant that the PKS has not been sanctioned for its repeated intransigence to the coalition's policies.
Burhanuddin said that although the political parties in Yudhoyono's coalition comprised 46 percent of the lawmakers in the House, that would not guarantee that the Democratic Party could railroad the House into supporting the government's policy.
"The coalition will need Golkar to support it. But on the other hand, Golkar is not a 'good boy', so the President doesn't want to rely on the party too much," he said.
Golkar decided at the 11th hour of the fuel-price deliberations that it would not support the government's decision, only to back down in a crucial vote to approve a delay on the implementation of the policy.
According to Burhanuddin, as the coalition's leader, Yudhoyono was the only person who could make the political decision to expel the PKS. The possibility of multi-party deadlock was high if no single group dominated, he added.
Achmad Mubarok, a member of the Democratic Party's patron board, said that the PKS was no longer in the coalition.
"The [coalition] contract clearly stipulates that any party violating the agreement will automatically leave the coalition. It's written in the contract, there is no need for the President to make an announcement. It is only a matter of the PKS politicians having no shame anymore for staying in the Cabinet," he said.
Separately, PKS president Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq shrugged off queries about the PKS' fate in the coalition. "Coalition? what coalition? I thought we were done talking about this," Luthfi said. (fzm)
Jakarta A senior Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician says former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, has the authority to determine which member will be its presidential candidate.
PDI-P secretary general Tjahjo Kumolo said on Monday that the party's national congress last year had determined that the chairwoman had the full authority in selecting the party's nominee in the 2014 presidential election. "The decision is all hers," Tjahjo said, as quoted by Antara news agency.
But he also said the party's intention to support Megawati as its candidate remained unclear, adding that recent opinion polls would be one consideration.
"Besides, we still have to observe the nation's political conditions. Megawati may or may not run again for president, while other figures such as Puan Maharani [her daughter] also have the potential to be our candidate for president," he said.
A recent survey by the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) found that politicians like Megawati, Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chairman Prabowo Subianto and former vice president Jusuf Kalla remain popular with voters.
The survey found that Megawati and Prabowo were the two most popular potential presidential candidates, supported by 10 percent and 6.7 percent of respondents respectively.
Ezra Sihite Critics have panned the House of Representatives' new seat allocation, saying it does not properly represent constituents as the House's population data is not valid and the allocation follows old regulations.
"This law does not ensure that constituents receive fair representation," August Mellaz, an election observer, said at a discussion of the Elections Law in Cikini, Central Jakarta, on Sunday.
The law, passed earlier this month, does not differ much from its 2008 predecessor. At the forum, the seating allocation was criticized because it was not based on population data from the latest census.
August said that this led to certain provinces such as South Sulawesi, West Sumatra and Aceh receiving a disproportionately high number of representatives in the House, while provinces like Riau, Riau Islands and West Java received a lesser share.
"The absence of reliable population data to allocate seats in the House leads me to conclude that this is based on phantom data," he said.
Another election observer, Didik Supriyanto, said the House was advised four months ago to use population data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), but chose to revert to the data used in the older law.
"I was shocked to find that the data cited in the law was outdated," he said. "By allocating 560 seats in the House to the provinces based on old data, provinces will not be fairly represented."
The law itself has proven controversial on several grounds. The National Democrat Party filed a motion last Thursday asking the Constitutional Court to review the recently passed Elections Law, following the lead of several small parties.
The NasDem party said it filed a motion against Article 8.1 of the law because it was discriminatory against new parties.
The article says that political parties qualified to run in the 2009 election that garnered at least 2.5 percent of the national vote can stand in the 2014 election without a verification process. Based on the article, the nine parties now holding seats in the House can automatically join the race.
A group of 22 small political parties have also filed a similar motion with the court. Led by former Justice Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra, they challenged not just the verification exemption, but also the legislative threshold that requires parties to achieve a 3.5 percent nationwide vote in order to claim seats in the House. The parties argued that it would potentially render the votes of millions of people meaningless.
The House earlier this month passed the Elections Law, which set the threshold at 3.5 percent up from 2.5 percent in the previous election and continued the open electoral system that allows voters to choose individual candidates rather than just parties and maintained the method for allocating votes among electoral districts. The next legislative elections are scheduled for 2014.
Ezra Sihite & Markus Junianto Sihaloho Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie will meet the party's senior politicians later this week as he continues to face opposition to a potential presidential bid.
Golkar deputy chairman Fadel Muhammad said in Jakarta on Sunday that Aburizal had invited former Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Akbar Tanjung, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, Ginanjar Kartasasmita, the former coordinating minister for the economy, and Yogyakarta's governor, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, to discuss his candidacy.
"Pak Aburizal will meet with them at an informal meeting on April 27," he said.
Golkar's central board has said that it will nominate Aburizal as the party's presidential candidate in the 2014 election. Because the candidacy needs approval from all branches across the country, the board also announced it would bring the party's national leadership meeting forward to July from October.
Members of the central board have said that the earlier holding of the meeting was required to allow Aburizal to move quickly in order to better prepare for the election.
The move, however, was met with opposition from several influential Golkar politicians, including Akbar, a former party chairman, and Andi Mattalatta, a former justice and human rights minister.
They said the early nomination of Aburizal had ignored the rights of other members to nominate presidential candidates, threatening Golkar's unity ahead of the election. Akbar, the chief of the party's central leadership board, cited Kalla as a possible alternative after he came out ahead of Aburizal in recent surveys.
On Saturday, Akbar reiterated his opposition, saying the national leadership meeting must first set procedures to select candidates and not directly appoint a particular candidate. He said if the meeting directly appointed a presidential candidate, then the public would see the party as undemocratic.
"We have to agree on a mechanism to select our presidential candidate. We can't just appoint someone to represent the party as our candidate for president," Akbar said.
Fadel, a former minister of fisheries and maritime affairs, said he and Aburizal respected the opinion of the party's senior politicians. "We hope that the discussion between the chairman and the senior m embers can clear thing up," he said.
Golkar officials have previously acknowledged divisions in the party over Aburizal's candidacy. Analysts have noted the significance of the opposition by an influential figure like Akbar, whom many regard as responsible for Aburizal winning the party chairmanship in 2009.
Golkar has a history of division among its top figures. In 2004, Kalla challenged Golkar's official presidential candidate, Wiranto, a retired Army general and former defense minister, by running with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, dividing the party's supporters and contributing to Wiranto's loss in the presidential race.
Some Golkar officials have said that business tycoon Aburizal does not want a repeat of those divisions to cost him the country's top position.
Indonesian polling bodies have a negative tendency to perform opinion building, an analyst said on Wednesday.
"Most research institutions failed to portray the real condition of the people, and perform opinion building in favor of their clients while campaigning negatively on the competitors," said Sapto Waluyo, director of the Center for Indonesian Reform.
He cited the Jakarta gubernatorial election as an example. Most survey results show that incumbent Fauzi Bowo's electability is declining while Solo mayor Jokowi's electability is climbing significantly. Sapto said surveyors were only showing the popularity of the candidates instead of their electability.
He said that while Jokowi and his running mate Ahok were popular, this does not mean they will be elected. "There should not be public deception through statistics."
Medan University students from the Indonesian National Students' Movement (GMNI) observed Kartini Day on Saturday by calling on women from across the country to make the day a milestone for gender equality.
They staged a rally at the Majestic traffic circle on Jl. Gatot Subroto, Medan, distributing flowers and leaflets to passersby.
Rally coordinator Syahrina Revi said that despite the fact that many Indonesian women had enjoyed achievements in carriers, there were still many others who became the slaves of capitalism, seeking income abroad without adequate skills, making them easy targets of violence and human trafficking practices.
She said it was deplorable that the state did not seem to care about Indonesian women working abroad, as shown by the fact that many were facing death sentences. "Where is the nation when many of our 'Kartini' are facing execution abroad?" Syahrina said.
She reminded Indonesian women to reflect themselves on Kartini. Kartini is a national heroine known for her struggle for woman emancipation. "Do not be afraid to move on. Nothing is impossible if we really want to change our fate," she said.
Jakarta Indonesia has recognized a number of heroines over the centuries of its history, but only Raden Adjeng Kartini has been immortalized through song and annual celebrations marking her birthday on April 21.
Famega Syavira, a 26-year-old news producer, says she laments the fact that many people she knows do not recognize other "brave women", such as West Sumatrans Rohana Kudus and Rasuna Said.
Rohana (1884-1972) was the first Indonesian female journalist and an activist for the women's movement, while Rasuna (1910-1965) was the first Indonesian female minister. One of the major roads in the country's capital is named after her.
"It's weird that many Jakartans don't even know that Rasuna Said was a woman, let alone who she was, despite the fact that they drive their cars along Jl. Rasuna Said almost every day," Famega told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
However, she said it would be too much to celebrate all Indonesia's inspiring women, like Rohana, Rasuna, Martha Christina Tiahahu (1800-1818) from Maluku and Cut Nyak Dhien (1848-1908) from Aceh.
Therefore, Famega suggested that the government should change the theme of the April 21 commemoration from time to time. "For example, 2012 could be the year to celebrate Rasuna, 2013 for Tiahahu and so on," she said.
A 27-year-old journalist, Amie Fenia Arimbi, said separately that the government must recognize other Indonesian heroines, such as Cut Nyak Dhien and the late activist Dewi Sartika (1884-1947) from Bandung, West Java.
She added that Cut Nyak Dhien had fought against the Dutch in the 1870s instead of staying at home like most of the women who lived during that era.
"Although she did not clearly state that she intended to fight against gender stereotyping at that time, by stepping onto the battlefield she personified the struggle of a woman who was prepared to die while fighting the colonizers," she said.
Meanwhile, Nia Janiar, 25, who works for a tourism company, said Dewi Sartika and Rohana should be commemorated along with Kartini.
"Dewi founded the first school for women in the early 1900s, while Rohana was the country's first journalist. They definitely deserve to be recognized in the same way as Kartini," she said.
For Mirna Adzania, a 31-year-old mother who lives in Yogyakarta, Kartini deserved to be the most celebrated heroine simply because she had written a book that changed women's lives.
She said Kartini's memoirs were published in a book titled Door Duisternis tot Licht (Out of Darkness Comes Light) in 1911, seven years after her death. "Her book provides clear evidence of her struggle compared to other inspiring women whose lives haven't yet been well-recorded," said Mirna.
Mirna added that the main idea for commemorating Kartini Day was to increase awareness about the current problems facing women in Indonesia.
"Middle-class women should use Kartini Day as momentum to ignite a better [women's] movement instead of letting the present become the age of consumerism," she said, referring to the annual celebration of Kartini Day that is usually marked by women young and old wearing traditional kebaya dresses as a tribute to the national heroine. (asa/mtq)
Rizky Amelia Malaysian police have brutally shot Indonesian citizens at least three times in recent years, a nongovernmental group said over the weekend.
Anis Hidayah, the executive director of Migrant Care, said at least eight Indonesians were shot at close range and killed by Malaysian police on three different occasions, prior to the killing of three migrant workers from Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, last month.
"Indonesians have been brutally shot to death by the Malaysian police without due process of law several times now. However, while the government sent protest letters to Malaysia, there has been no investigation against the perpetrators, and the extra- judicial killings continue," Anis said on Saturday.
Migrant Care said that in March 2010, three Indonesians were gunned down by Malaysian police. This happened about a year after two Indonesians were shot and killed.
In 2005, Malaysian police also shot and killed three Indonesian workers. Malaysian authorities said that the three conducted robberies, and were shot because they had resisted arrest.
The latest incident sparked outrage, partly because the story sounds familiar.
Malaysian police claimed that the dead migrant workers from the most recent incident were suspected of robbery in Port Dickson, and were shot by police in pursuit.
Many in Indonesia doubted the version of events, while the family of the three raised suspicion about organ harvesting after seeing the bodies. Each body was found with stitches around the chest and stomach.
The National Police and Foreign Ministry dismissed the organ- harvesting theory, but some lawmakers and activists remain doubtful. "Even if their claim of a robbery is true, they should not have been shot from close range," Anis said.
As early as December 2010, Malaysian human rights activists voiced concern of the "horrifying" numbers of killings by Malaysian police. Of the 279 killed over the past decade, 113 were Indonesian nationals.
The activists cited police data produced during a trial that showed 279 alleged criminals, including 61 ethnic Malaysian Indians, 42 Malay Muslims and 113 Indonesians, were fatally shot over a period of nine years, leading to speculation that certain ethnic groups were being targeted.
Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene said that the government continues to demand an investigation into the killings, including the 2010 case.
On the killings of three migrant workers from Lombok, several lawmakers and activists said they plan to sue Malaysian authorities through an international court.
Teuku Rezasyah, a law expert at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, said the government, the House and civil groups should unite if they want to file a lawsuit against Malaysian police.
"Filing a lawsuit is easy. The hard part is bringing the government, lawmakers and NGOs together to legally fight Malaysia. "Some lawmakers, for instance, could have a different stance to their colleagues, weakening the motion," he said.
Faisal Maliki Baskoro & Bayu Marhaenjati A recent ruling in favor of workers in a labor dispute is expected to boost Tuesday's planned massive May Day rallies as police and military prepare to impose a heavy security presence on the streets across the country.
The Indonesian Forestry and Wood Workers Union (SP Kahutindo) said on Sunday that it had won a case at the Bandung State Administrative Court against Iwata Indonesia over the forestry firm's practice of not paying outsourced employees their full due.
A statement from the union said the court had delivered its ruling last Tuesday, ordering the company to pay its 140 outsourced workers their full salaries, yearly bonuses and social security premiums and to recognize their annual leave.
Rulita Wijayaningdyah, the SP Kahutindo international secretary, said the ruling marked a victory for workers ahead of May Day but was only a small step toward achieving full recognition of all workers' rights.
"The reality is that there are lots of cases that get stalled in court, lots of cases that go unresolved because of appeals and lots of cases that we've lost," she said.
She said that while the Constitution and the 2003 Manpower Law clearly sided with workers, stipulating that outsourced workers should receive the same benefits as permanent employees, a lack of enforcement was the root of the problem.
"The regulations are positive, but there's a problem with implementing them," Rulita said. "The enforcement and implementation on the ground is not yet 100 percent. There are lots of cases where workers' rights remain unfulfilled."
She said that for May Day, SP Kahutindo would mobilize some 10,000 workers to take part in demonstrations across the country, joining in a rallying cry for full recognition of outsourced workers' rights, along with higher minimum wages.
"Our main demands relate to the problems of outsourcing and a livable wage, which is not the same as the official minimum wage," she said.
The minimum wage, which varies by region, is determined by local authorities, employers and unions and based on living costs for a single worker a flawed system, Rulita said, because it failed to take into account workers' dependents.
"What if a worker has a wife and children? Then the minimum wage isn't enough. That's why we're asking for the calculations to take dependents into consideration," she said.
She added that the forestry union would not take part in May Day rallies in Jakarta because it had few workers here, but the capital is still expected to see the day's biggest demonstrations.
Sr. Comr. Rikwanto, a Jakarta Police spokesman, said some 16,000 security personnel would be on hand to keep the demonstrations under control.
"There will be 2,796 personnel from the Jakarta Police, 8,030 from the municipal police forces, 2,038 from the National Police, 2,674 from the military and 530 from Satpol PP [public order agency]," he said on Sunday.
He also said there would be a heavy security presence at key points such as the State Palace, the House of Representatives and the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle.
"We've received notifications from several unions and groups who intend to take part in the rallies. We estimate there will be some 50,000 demonstrators coming in from all over Jakarta," Rikwanto said.
He added that the rallies were expected to run from 10 a.m. to around 4 p.m., with no rallies allowed after 6 p.m. He also warned of the likelihood that traffic would be rerouted along several roads.
Jakarta One of the country's largest Islamic groups says non-Muslim countries treat Indonesia's migrant workers better than countries such as Malaysia, where three workers are suspected victims of organ trafficking.
Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) executive board chairman Said Aqil Siradj said that in non-Muslim countries, such as Hong Kong or Taiwan, events similar to that of the killings of migrant workers in Malaysia never occur.
"It is very hard for me to say this but, in reality, non-Muslim countries have been treating our workers abroad better than Muslim-majority countries," he said on Tuesday, as quoted by tribunnews.com.
The victims have been identified as Herman, Abdul Kadir Jaelani, and Mad Noon. The three are believed to have been shot and killed in Malaysia on March 24, with their bodies sent home on April 5.
The workers' families first suspected that body organs had been stolen after their corpses arrived.
Said urged Malaysian authorities to investigate the case immediately, adding that stern action must carried out if police officers were proved to be involved, as has been claimed in the media.
"Malaysia's government should take this matter seriously. This is not just for the sake of maintaining good relations with Indonesia, but also to protect their own reputation in the eyes of international community," he said. (asa)
The National Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers has called for a thorough investigation into the shooting deaths of three workers in Malaysia, calling the police officers involved in the killings "barbaric."
"We condemn it as it seems barbaric," Jumhur Hidayat, chairman of the agency, known as the BNP2TKI, said on Tuesday. "We have formed an investigation team that will coordinate with the Indonesian embassy [in Malaysia]."
He said the team, to be led by the agency's director of protection, Brig. Gen. Bambang Purwanto, would also investigate reports organs had been harvested from the bodies of the three men.
Bambang, who is flying to Malaysia today, said he had received an initial briefing. "What is clear is the three migrant workers were illegals they had no documents and had been there since 2010."
The bodies of the trio Abdul Kadir Jaelani, 24, Herman, 28, and Mad Noor, 33 were this week returned home to East Lombok, three weeks after they were found dead in Malaysia, each with gunshots.
Suspicions over the motives for their killing arose when family members of the victims saw the conditions of the bodies, which included stitching. The families have demanded new autopsies.
Ridwan Max Sijabat, Batam President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to inaugurate ten low-cost apartment developments that are expected to provide affordable rooms to thousands of workers in Batam, Riau Islands.
The director general of industrial relations and social security affairs at the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, Irianto Simbolon, said that the new developments might provide an example on how decent housing could be provided to workers in the nation's industrial areas.
"Besides private developers, employers will be asked to provide dormitories or develop such affordable apartments for their workers because housing is vital for workers, especially those working in industrial areas," he said.
Some of Batam's 300,000 workers were illegal squatters on the island because housing prices and rents had soared, while most workers were still paid the municipal minimum wage, he said.
Irianto said that the government would also build 40 low-cost apartment complexes for workers in Bekasi, West Java, and Tangerang, Banten, this year. The government has also earmarked Rp 13 billion (US$1.41 million) in subsidies to help workers buy their own homes.
Jamsostek president director Hotbonar Sinaga said that ten units of twin blocks worth Rp 120 billion inside the Kabil industrial area would be made available to workers for Rp 480,000 a month per room.
"All rooms are air conditioned with four beds, cupboards and a kitchen that can accommodate four unmarried workers. If they are fully occupied, the four-story twin flats can accommodate a total of 4,000 workers," he said.
Hotbonar said that the Rp 120,000 rental payment required of participants would not be a burden for workers as it was still lower than rents that workers typically paid for rooms in the area.
Jamsostek previously built two similar residential developments in Muka Kuning and Lancang Kuning industrial areas in Batam and a third in the Jababeka Industrial Estate in Cikarang in Bekasi, West Java, all of which were fully occupied.
Hotbonar said that Jamsostek would not look to profit from the project and considered the work as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. "The housing program is paid for with revolving funds that will continue to accumulate and will allow us to build more in other areas," Hotbonar said.
He added that Jamsostek has also earmarked Rp 800 billion from its profits in 2011 to provide mortgages for workers and for an education fund for workers' children.
Tunggadewa Mattangkilang, Balikpapan Primary forest cover in East Kalimantan has been depleted from 19 million hectares in the 1960s to just 4 million hectares today due to legislation allowing foreign companies into the local forestry sector, a researcher said on Friday.
Bernaulus Saragih, head of the Natural Resources Study Center at Mulawarman University in Samarinda, the provincial capital, said on Friday that the massive deforestation in the province was triggered by 1967's Law on Foreign Investment (PMA).
"The degradation of primary forests in East Kalimantan was drastic after 1967. That was because the PMA law allowed the rate of degradation to increase significantly" by allowing foreign loggers and plantation companies in, he said.
While Indonesian firms are the No. 1 concession holders in the province, the US Department of Agriculture noted last year that "Malaysian companies have collectively established over 1 million hectares of active oil palm plantations in Indonesia and own a further 1 million hectares of land [that] has official permits allowing its development in the future."
Bernaulus said other policies that had contributed to the high rate of deforestation included zoning regulations to assign large tracts of forests for plantation, logging and mining operations as well as for human settlement.
Should the opening up of the province's forests continue at current rates, he warned, there would be no more primary forest cover left in just a few years.
Izal Wardana, executive director of the East Kalimantan chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said the loss meant the province no longer complied with a zoning regulation requiring 30 percent of the total land area of 20.45 million hectares to be forested.
He warned that the province was losing 500,000 hectares of forest each year and that new infrastructure projects were threatening previously untouched tracts of virgin forest.
Izal urged the provincial administration to freeze the issuance of new forestry concessions and evaluate existing operations, including exhausted mining and plantation operations that have left behind an estimated 8.1 million hectares of degraded land.
Earth Day commemorations in Indonesia were low-key, but those who marked the day were quick to warn of the worsening environmental situation.
An environmental group on Sunday called on the Aceh administration to stop issuing permits to convert forested areas for other uses.
"We also call for the government to immediately conduct an inspection of all forest conversion permits," T.M. Zulfikar, the executive director of the Aceh office of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said in Banda Aceh on Sunday.
Zulfikar said the permits, which are issued to plantation, mining and other firms, should be reevaluated. He added that the government should reestablish people's customary rights to forest areas to ensure their preservation.
Zulfikar said 58 percent of Aceh's 5.7 million hectares was covered by forests, but that this was shrinking under the pretext of investment, both in plantations and mines. "The Aceh administration has not prioritized the issue of deforestation and a 2007 moratorium on logging has not been effective," he said.
Deforestation has led to increasing damage from floods, while animals are endangered by encroaching human development.
"In 2011 there were 57 confrontations between animals and people, up from 19 the year before," he said. "The people are putting a lot of faith in the next governor of the province to address these issues," Zulfikar said, referring to the gubernatorial elections earlier this month.
Walhi's West Sumatra branch, meanwhile, warned that Indonesia's forests were in a critical state given the rate of deforestation.
Growing investment in the country has resulted in more demand for land, threatening the survival of forests, Walhi West Sumatra executive director Abednego Tarigan said in Padang on Sunday.
He said there was a need to balance economic development with environmental protection, adding that Indonesia loses one million hectares of forests a year just to oil palm plantations. He blamed the government for prioritizing the exploitation of natural resources over environmental protection.
These exploitative practices, he said, would lead to greater economic and social costs. Abednego said the worst affected areas were archipelagic provinces such as Bangka-Belitung and Jambi. He added that reforestation efforts were not keeping pace with deforestation.
However, Abednego said public awareness of the issue was growing, as evidenced by numerous tree planting initiatives, but warned that this needed to move past ceremonial formalities and acquire government backing.
Jakarta Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh welcomed foreign universities to operate in Indonesia, as long as their executives were willing to collaborate with domestic higher- learning institutions.
Nuh said on Saturday that the higher education bill, currently still being discussed by the lawmakers, granted foreign institutions opportunities to operate in the country on the condition that they met two requirements.
"First, they [foreign universities] must be accredited. Second, they must work together with local universities in their management," he said as quoted by Antara news agency.
During his visit to Surabaya State Electronic Polytechnic in East Java, Nuh said that the new regulation would further facilitate local education colleges in cooperation with foreign universities, particularly in terms of technology transfer.
Nuh stressed that Indonesia would not follow the example set by Malaysia, which he claimed had allowed foreign universities to enter without any preconditions.
Jakarta Democratic Party lawmaker Angelina Sondakh is reportedly getting in touch with her religious roots since being incarcerated in the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) detention center last Friday.
According to Teuku Nasrullah, one of Angelina's lawyers, the Democratic party lawmaker, who converted to Islam after marrying her late husband, Adjie Massaid, in 2009, has been reading the Koran, praying and reciting religious contemplative chants in her cell. "She's a mualaf [a Muslim convert], so she still stammers when she prays," he said on Sunday.
Nasrullah said that Angelina had readied all her prayer supplies shortly before the KPK issued a warrant against her. Among items she kept in her detention center were photographs of her three children.
Angelina, a former Miss Indonesia, was arrested last Friday afternoon over her alleged involvement in two graft scandals; the Rp 191.7 billion (US$20.89 million) athletes' village project in South Sumatra and for procurement projects involving several universities in the country.
The Youth and Sports Ministry managed the athletes' village project, whereas the Education and Culture Ministry handled the university projects. Angelina allegedly rigged tenders for the projects in exchange for bribes.
Angelina denied any wrongdoing during her testimonies, but she was detained after the KPK found evidence of money transfers to her.
Angelina is currently occupying a 3.1-meter-by-3.5-meter cell at the KPK detention center. The newly-opened detention center also houses Mindo Rosalina Manulang, another suspect in the athletes' village project. The center has five cells. Each cell has only a bed, a pillow, a small bathroom and an exhaust fan.
Nasrullah said that Angelina had also asked her family to provide her with books. She wrote the request in a letter, which was then delivered by Nasrullah to Angelina's parents on Saturday afternoon.
"I don't know the type or how many books she asked for because I didn't read the letter. I immediately gave it to her parents and they are looking for them now. I suggested that she read La Tahzan, a guide book for sad moments," he told The Jakarta Post.
Meanwhile, the KPK appointed Arifpudin as its detention center warden on Sunday. KPK spokesman Johan Budi said that Arif, a staffer within the antigraft body, would head the detention center, which would be considered an annex to the Salemba Detention Center. (tas)
Ezra Sihite The arrest of Angelina Sondakh should enable the Corruption Eradication Commission to charge more lawmakers and ministers from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party, observers say.
Angelina was named as a suspect and detained based on evidence gathered during the trials of the Democratic Party's former treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin, and his employee, Mindo Rosalina Manulang. Other lawmakers and ministers mentioned during the same trials can also be pursued by the anti-graft body, known as KPK.
Nazaruddin and Rosalina were found guilty and sentenced to prison by the Anti-Corruption Court recently for their role in the graft-ridden construction of an athletes' village for the Southeast Asian Games in 2011 in Palembang, South Sumatra.
Nasir Jamil, a lawmaker from House of Representatives Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, said the KPK should not be satisfied just with Angelina's arrest because testimony from witnesses in the court suggested that others were involved.
"Furthermore, questioning sessions with Angelina will reveal more evidence," he added. "It's impossible that she did it alone and it will be strange if the case stops with her," he said.
Angelina, the Democratic Party's deputy secretary general, was detained on Friday for allegedly taking bribes in several government procurement projects.
The former beauty queen was arrested after being questioned for more than seven hours at the KPK office in South Jakarta. She is being held in a cell in the building.
The lawmaker was named a graft suspect in February in relation to the SEA Games scandal and for her connection with construction projects at five state universities under the watch of the Education and Culture Ministry.
During her trial, Rosalina accused Angelina of taking billions of rupiah in bribes and claimed that in a BlackBerry text conversation with Angelina, the lawmaker demanded "Washington Apples" and "Malang Apples" for her and some colleagues on the House Budget Committee. The "apples" are believed to be code words for dollars and rupiah, respectively.
Rosalina testified that Angelina said the money would also be channeled to the party's "big boss." Nazaruddin said that the "big boss" was the party's chairman, Anas Urbaningrum.
Nazaruddin claims that Youth and Sports Affairs Minister Andi Mallarangeng also received money from the projects. He also said that Andi and Anas also received fee from the Hambalang project in Bogor. Anas and Andi have denied the allegations.
On scandals in the procurement of teaching aids at several universities, Nazaruddin accused Angelina and Anas of receiving fees from the universities. Several lecturers have been sent to prison in the cases. On Sunday, National Education Minister Muhammad Nuh denied he had any connection with the cases.
"We hope the KPK will not close its eyes to the testimony from witnesses and suspects during the trials," Nasir said.
Meanwhile, Indonesia Corruption Watch asked the KPK to use the money-laundering law in cases involving Angelina, to charge those receiving money from the projects. "The use of the money- laundering law will net all people taking bribes from the projects," ICW said in a statement.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested Democratic Party lawmaker Angelina Sondakh on Friday in connection with multiple corruption cases surrounding construction projects.
Johan Budi, the spokesman of the KPK, did not mention how many cases she was implicated in, but said they involved the use of state funds between 2010 and 2011 and that she allegedly received bribes in her capacity as a lawmaker.
During a press briefing on Friday about Angelina's arrest, Johan added that the projects were based in Java and Sumatra.
Angelina, former Miss Indonesia and former secretary-general of the Democratic Party, was earlier named a suspect in February for her role in the graft-ridden construction project of an athletes' village in Palembang for the 2011 Southeast Asian Games.
Former Democratic Party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin, who was recently convicted in the case, has implicated Angelina in it and also in another case surrounding the construction project of the Hambalang Stadium in Bogor in 2010. Nazaruddin said Angelina received up to Rp 10 billion ($1 million) in bribes from the Hambalang project.
A live report from Metro TV showed Angelina was guarded by police officers as she was escorted to the KPK headquarters in Jakarta for her detention. The KPK has also cited the wife of Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum, Atiyah Laila, as one of the parties allegedly involved in the graft-ridden Hambalang project.
Rizky Amelia The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) questioned Atiyah Laila, the wife of Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum, on Thursday regarding her role in the graft-ridden Hambalang project in Bogor.
Atiyah was a commissioner at Dutasari Citralaras, a subcontractor of construction company Adhi Karya that won the Hambalang project worth Rp 1.52 trillion ($165 million).
Anas Urbaningrum was earlier accused by the former treasurer of the Democratic Party, Muhammad Nazaruddin, of receiving Rp 100 billion to grant the project to Adhi Karya. The money, Nazaruddin said, was used for Anas's campaign to become party chairman.
Though Anas confirmed that his wife was a commissioner at Dutasari Citralaras, he said she had resigned before the Hambalang project took place. "Her position as a commissioner was in 2008," Anas said. "But she was questioned about the Hambalang case that happened in 2010."
Thirty women from a religious study group came to the KPK building today to support Atiyah and they brought her white roses.
Violence erupted outside the Corruption Eradication Commission on Thursday when an unruly demonstration became a free-for-all brawl involving bodyguards of Democratic Party Chairman Anas Urbaninggrum against protesters, photographers and journalists.
The situation at the antigraft agency in South Jakarta began to deteriorate as the group of noisy demonstrators confronted Anas, who has been implicated in a massive corruption scandal involving construction of the athletes' village for the Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia.
Detik.com reported that Anas's bodyguards intervened striking out at the demonstrators before turning their attention on the photographers.
This prompted the photographers to retaliate, backed up by other members of the press, the news portal reported. Police were forced to intervene to restore some semblance of calm.
Ina Parlina, Jakarta The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has named former member of the House of Representatives' budget committee, Wa Ode Nurhayati, a suspect for the second time in less than five months, this time on money-laundering charges.
Wa Ode, a National Mandate Party (PAN) lawmaker who went public with her allegation that the House budgetary committee was a den of corruption, was first charged with bribery surrounding the disbursement of regional transfer funds for the 2010 Infrastructure Development Acceleration Program (PPID).
The KPK announced on Tuesday that Wa Ode was being charged under three articles of the 2010 Anti-Money Laundering Law, two of which carry a maximum of 20 years in jail and a maximum fine of Rp 1 billion. These latest charges were brought against Wa Ode after KPK investigators dug deeper into her role in the PPID bribery case.
In January, Wa Ode was arrested after the antigraft body named her a suspect in December last year. She was alleged to have accepted Rp 6 billion in kickbacks from businessman Fahd A Rafiq, also a suspect in the case, to expedite the disbursement of PPID funds to three areas in Aceh.
"When we were investigating the PPID case, we traced some illicit money obtained from corruption to her bank account," KPK spokesman Johan Budi told a press conference on Tuesday.
Johan said the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) provided details on Wa Ode's bank transactions.
KPK prosecutors found two pieces of incriminating evidence against Wa Ode a week ago, just after they launched the new probe against her. The KPK also officially named her a suspect around the same time.
Johan said investigators had yet to set a date for questioning Wa Ode but confirmed that they would be extending her detention after it was due to expire.
On Tuesday, KPK investigators questioned House secretary-general Nining Indra Saleh as a witness in the case.
Nining said after the questioning session that the KPK's investigators had primarily asked her about the House's administrative matters, including how much Wa Ode earned as a House member and what bank account her salary was paid into. "No, they did not ask questions related to the money laundering; they only asked basic questions," she told reporters.
The PPATK's deputy chairman, Agus Santoso, said the agency immediately relayed information about Wa Ode's banking activities to the KPK after it discovered suspicious transactions. Agus provided no details about the suspicious transactions.
Agus lauded the KPK's move in applying the 2010 Anti-Money Laundering Law against Wa Ode as "significant progress in enforcing the law to tackle corruption". By using the law, he added, the KPK might uncover more about the graft case. "That way, anyone who accepted money from illicit sources can be held responsible," he said.
Wa Ode Nurhayati's lawyer, her sister Wa Ode Nur Zaenab, said she was not aware of the KPK's decision to name her client a suspect in the money- laundering case. She deplored the KPK move, saying that the commission was only "looking for ways to incriminate Wa Ode Nurhayati".
"It is clear that [Wa Ode Nurhayati] revealed the roles played by others in the PPID case, including the leaders of the House's budget committee; but they did nothing," she said. She said that her client had, in fact, returned the bribery money to the KPK.
Novianti Setuningsih With the trial of former Democratic Party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin wrapped up, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has moved on to investigate some of the graft suspect's claims, starting with the questioning of Atthiyyah Laila, wife of Democratic Party chief Anas Urbaningrum.
KPK investigators will call Atthiyyah in for questioning on Thursday. It is the second summons the KPK issued for Atthiyyah, who said a parent was ill and cancelled last week's appointment.
Atthiyyah served as a board member of Dutasari Citralaras, a subcontractor of Adhi Karya the construction company at the center of graft allegations surround the construction of a Rp 1.1 trillion ($119.9 million) Hambalang sports center in Bogor.
Nazaruddin also implicated her husband, Democratic Party chairman Anas, in the graft-ridden project, stating that Anas rigged the construction bid for a 10 percent cut from the winning contractor. That money reportedly was used in Anas' campaign in Bandung.
Several others have been questioned in connection to graft allegations, including Munadi Herlambang, the secretary of the sports and youth division of the Democratic Party.
Bayu Marhaenjati The court heard on Monday how high-profile terror suspect Umar Patek was able to walk into an immigration office with his wanted poster on the wall and obtain a passport using a fake ID.
Patek, the alleged mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings, and his wife obtained passports from the immigration office in East Jakarta that they used to flee to Pakistan. The pair used fraudulent IDs to obtain the documents. Patek used the name Anis Alawi, and his wife, Ruqayyah Husein Luceno, had the name Fatimah Zahra.
Immigration officials told the West Jakarta District Court that they failed to check whether the couple's ID cards were fake. They also acknowledged that they failed to recognize Patek when he came to the office as the man whose picture was displayed on wanted posters there. "We saw no problems with the documents so we did not check any further," said Asni Redhani Suandi, an immigration official.
A Central Jakarta Population Agency official, Kamtawi, and a Koja subdistrict official, Dedi Hermawan, testified last week that the ID cards and birth certificates used by Patek and Ruqayyah were forgeries.
Asni also told the court that pictures of Patek were on the wall of the interview room at the immigration office, but because the terror suspect used a different name, no alarm bells rang. He said that at the time of the interview, in 2009, Patek's name was on a list of people banned from leaving the country.
"We have an online system that records all fugitives... but the travel ban list only includes names, not pictures. So, when we ran the name on our computer, he came out clean," Asni said.
A judge asked whether this meant that all fugitives using fake names could flee the country. "Yes, they can," Asni replied. "Because we only check names, not pictures."
Michael Victor Sianipar Efforts by the government to insert itself more prominently into religious matters, coupled with its unclear stance on the role of religion in the state, will only exacerbate interreligious tensions in the country, leading rights activists warn.
Veteran human rights activist Todung Mulya Lubis, speaking at a discussion on religious freedom last week, said the state's constitutional mandate to protect religious freedom lacks executive implementation, as highlighted in the case of the GKI Yasmin church in Bogor, West Java, that remains sealed off in direct violation of a Supreme Court ruling to reopen it.
"The conclusion is very simple that sometimes the state exists and sometimes it doesn't," he said. "In some cases, the state's presence can be strongly felt, and in other cases it's non- existent."
He pointed out that while largely mute on the Yasmin case, the Religious Affairs Ministry has been drumming up support for its draft of the Interfaith Harmony Bill, which many activists believed as detrimental to religious freedom.
"The requirements for setting up a house of worship as stipulated in the bill will only make it more difficult for those groups with minority beliefs," Todung said.
The greater emphasis on promoting religious harmony in the formulation of government regulations on religious affairs is ill-advised, the veteran lawyer said. He added such emphasis was not in accordance with the essence of the Constitution, in which religious freedom must trump religious harmony.
"If we refer back to the spirit of the 1945 Constitution, then inevitably we will have to take religious freedom as the main principle, and not religious harmony. The logic of the 1945 Constitution is the logic of freedom," Todung said.
The failure to rebuild constitutional rights guaranteeing religious freedom would fuel intolerance, lead Indonesia to face more serious dangers ahead, and potentially divide the country, he warned. "Pluralism is a non-negotiable for Indonesia. There is no Indonesia without pluralism," he said. "It is within this context that the role of the state is very instrumental."
Todung said he believed the government had a role to play in religious affairs as long as it did not undermine the freedom of conscience as a part of the rights accorded by the Constitution.
But a more assertive role could potentially lead to abuse of power, he said, citing cases such as Switzerland's ban on minarets and France's prohibition on women wearing the hijab.
In response to concerns that the state should intervene when certain groups are deemed to have blasphemed against another religion, Todung doubted the state was competent to determine such claims.
"There are regulations on blasphemy, but who is qualified to decide? The state cannot claim it has the authority to declare that a certain group has blasphemed a religion," he argued.
This excessive religious sensitivity can be attributed to the decline of Indonesia's culture of tolerance, said Rumadi, senior researcher at the Wahid Institute.
He argued that recent developments suggested there was a rise in intolerance across Indonesia at the expense of communal values and a long history of harmonious coexistence.
"One of our conclusions is that society has become prone to intolerance. What used to be considered as acceptable has become unacceptable," he said, citing the recent persecution of Shia Muslims in the country.
In December 2011 a mob attacked and burned down homes belonging to Shia families in Sampang, East Java. Earlier this month, Shia cleric Tajul Muluk went on trial for blasphemy. The persecution of the world's second-largest denomination of Islam, with millions of adherents in Indonesia, has little precedence in Indonesia's history, Rumadi pointed out.
"If in the past the fight for pluralism was considered heroic, today it has become a minor issue that carries immense risk. Politicians will only defend issues concerning religious freedom when it is politically expedient, but not when it will devaluate their political standing," the researcher said.
"Who would dare to defend the Ahmadiyah? Who would dare to defend GKI Yasmin, even when the legal case is clear?"
He also argued that state regulations on religious activities were skewed to benefit the majority Sunni Muslims at the expense of minority groups.
"Muslims in Indonesia have received many services. We have laws on zakat [alms] and Shariah banking. The state has been very indulgent in providing religious services, although some still consider it to be insufficient," Rumadi said.
"While on the one hand there is this lavish provision of services by the government, on the other hand there are other groups that do not receive any such provisions."
Wahyoe Boediwardhana and Indra Harsaputra, Surabaya The East Java provincial administration may go ahead with its plan to issue a bylaw on the spread of religion regarded as capable of causing sectarian strife and disturbing public order.
"The bylaw is still being discussed. It doesn't mean that the government bans a person from embracing a religion, but we will ban the spread of faiths that are capable of disrupting peace and order within the community," East Java Deputy Governor Saifullah said on Friday.
The concept to enact the ordinance is part of the provincial administration's initiative in responding to demands from Sunni clerics in Madura and the East Java Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chapter for the government to ban Shia activities because they are viewed as deviating from mainstream Islamic teachings.
The Shia ban refers to the 10 misguided criteria issued in the MUI national working meeting in Jakarta on Nov. 6, 2007, as well as the world's clerics' consensus in the Declaration of Amman, Jordan, in 2005.
The 10 misguided criteria issued by MUI include teachings which deny any of the pillars of faith, believing and following beliefs which are not in line with the Koran and Hadith (Prophet Muhammad's deeds), believing in sacred revelations after the Koran, denying the authenticity of the Koran's contents, interpreting the Koran not based on the rules of interpretation, denying Prophet Muhammad's hadith, insulting the prophets and Prophet Muhammad, denying Muhammad was the last prophet, adding and subtracting basic religious rituals set in the Sharia and regarding fellow Muslims as infidels.
Saifullah said the government responded to and appreciated the proposals from MUI and Madura clerics. However, the response remains in line with the government's corridors, which is in accordance with the regional autonomy law.
"The bylaw will be in the form of a gubernatorial decree, regulation, or others. Its implementation in the field will be supervised by the police and community. It is currently being studied intensively," he said.
Saifullah added that the regulation was made to prevent a group from judging another group as deviant. To prove the truth of the allegations, the government would fully devolve the matter to the court.
East Java Muhammadiyah executive board secretary Nadjib Hamid said there was yet an agreement between religious leaders regarding the regulation restricting the spread of faiths that might have potential to disturb the public order.
"We are currently discussing it carefully, so as to prevent any party from being hurt. The regulation is not made for the Shia group, but all religious groups," Nadjib said after a meeting discussing the bylaw.
East Java legislative Commission E on Community Welfare council member, Kuswiyanto, said his commission supported the passage of the provincial bylaw.
"The regulation apparently could spark protests from religious freedom groups, but for the sake of public order in East Java, the governor has to be firm, despite being regarded as violating basic human rights," he said.
Malang's Maulana Malik Ibrahim Islamic State University rector Imam Suprayogo said Shia beliefs, which were part of human ideology, could not be resolved through regulation or laws. "In Islam, no one should claim to be the most righteous. Islam does not proscribe such thoughts," said Imam.
He added that clerics should not have said that a particular teaching is deviant or heretical, saying that MUI should have embraced all groups and stand the middle ground to protect and provide a sense of security to all.
The issuance of the bylaw restricting religious beliefs has been criticized as counter-productive for the preservation of religious diversity in Indonesia.
Indra Harsaputra and Wahyoe Boediwardhana, Jakarta Sunni ulemas in Madura and other areas of East Java are asking the provincial administration to enact a regulation to limit the propagation of Shia Islam.
The chairman of the East Java chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI Jatim), Abdussomad Buchorim, said on Thursday that the demand was made because Shiite teachings deviated from Islam.
The local chapter believed that Shiite teachings matched the 10 criteria for heresy issued by the MUI's national conference on Nov. 6, 2007, he said.
"The demand does not mean that Sunni ulemas and the MUI are against the Shiites, but that we simply want to protect the Muslims in East Java who have mostly adopted Sunni teachings. Aside from that, we do not want to see another conflict in Sampang [Madura], which affected the security stability in East Java, take place again," Abdussomad said.
The local MUI had informed East Java's governor and the central government about the MUI's heresy edict and demanded that a bylaw be passed to limit the propagation of Shia Islam, he added.
"East Java Governor Soekarwo has positively responded to the input from the ulemas and MUI Jatim. The governor only asked for a 'rephrasing' that could be acceptable by all parties."
The MUI's 10 criteria for heresy include propagating teachings that do not acknowledge the pillars of Islam, propagating beliefs that are not in line with the Koran and Al-Sunnah, denying the authenticity of the Koran, reckless translation of the Koran and denying that Muhammad is the final prophet of Islam.
East Java, with 11 Shiite organizations, was the center of Shiite activities in Sunni-majority Indonesia, according to the MUI.
"The Shiite groups in East Java were founded by Indonesian students who studied in Qum, Iran. They received financial assistance from Iranian oil companies to propagate and spread it. I don't know their number of followers," Abdussomad said.
Meanwhile, the head of the East Java chapter of the Religious Harmony Forum (FKUB), Imam Ghozali Said, said that the development of Shia Islam was resisted by opponents who were active in the MUI and in Indonesia's largest Muslim organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah.
The anti-Shia groups received financial assistance from Al Bayinat, a Saudi foundation specializing in curbing Shia Islam in Indonesia.
"The anti-Shia groups mingle with the MUI, NU and Muhammadiyah to get political support and press the government to limit the Shiites' room in Indonesia," Ghozali, who runs An-Nur Islamic boarding school in Surabaya, East Java, said.
Hundreds of people burned four houses, a musholla and other facilities at a boarding school run by Tajul Muluk, a Shiite leader in Madura, on Dec. 29, 2011. "This issue has been used by anti-Shia groups to press the government," Ghozali said.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Shiite intellectual Jalalluddin Rahmat said that such demands were against the Constitution, which guaranteed freedom of religion.
Decisions issued by various international conferences on Sunni and Shia Islam, including the Mecca declaration, the Amman declaration and the Bogor declaration, also guaranteed freedom for the two streams of Islam, he said.
"I, and all Shiites, do not feel any threats from this demand. The one who is threatened is the NKRI [Indonesian state], which will be divided due to the religious issue, and international circles," Jalalluddin said.
Hesti Armiwulan, of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), said that while the commission was not involved in ideological or religious differences, it did see the challenges to Shia Islam as a potential violation of religious freedom as protected by law.
"We're still struggling for a draft bill for the protection of anyone embracing a religion or belief to be deliberated on by legislators," she said.
Indra Harsaputra, Sampang Sampang Shiite cleric Tajul Muluk, who faced the first hearing of his trial on Tuesday at the Sampang District Court, has been accused of propagating religious blasphemy and insulting mainstream Islam, and faces more than five years' imprisonment if found guilty.
Prosecutor Sucipto, in his indictment, stated that among the blatant forms of religious blasphemies that Tajul had propagated was telling his disciples that the current Koran was not the original version.
"The original one is still in the hands of the imam Mahdi," Sucipto said. Besides questioning the originality of the Koran, the sacred text of Islam, Sucipto added without further elaboration that Tajul had also ordered his disciples to lie.
Presiding Judge Purnomo Amin Cahyo adjourned the trial to the same time next week to allow for Tajul to prepare his defense statement. Tajul, who was without a lawyer, was then brought back to the detention center under heavy guard.
The Sampang Police deployed approximately 150 personnel to guard the trial to protect against any threats.
Commenting on the trial, Poengki Indarti, executive director of Imparsial, a human rights NGO, urged the prosecutors to drop the indictment and acquit Tajul of all charges.
"What the government has done through this court process has clearly shown their ignorance of the Constitution. The government has violated the Constitution by denying Tajul his right to religious freedom," she told The Jakarta Post.
Tajul was arrested because the police feared his teachings would incite communal violence by mainstream Muslims. However, some rights activists have alleged that such conflict was being fomented by "religious elites" to further their own ends.
Chairman of the East Java Interfaith Forum, Ghazali Said, for example, previously warned that anti-Shiite violence might be used by religious elites for their own purposes. "The Shiites have been living here in Madura for decades in peace. This conflict has occurred because some religious elites hope to gain benefits from this," he said.
Poengki said that she was surprised at how violent Indonesia could become when addressing these kinds of issues. "The state has failed to nurture the nation's diversity or promote it as our most valuable asset," she said.
Religious intolerance has increased considerably in the past decade thanks in part to a lack of action by administrations, at the central and regional level. Apart from the Shiites, the Ahmadis have also seen their mosques and followers targeted by religious hard-liners.
Minority Christians have also experienced difficulties performing services in many churches around the country.
Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali, who should play a mediating role in these cases, has instead blamed minorities for being different, while the country's leader, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has so far limited himself to expressing concern.
Jakarta Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Nasaruddin Umar has won support from interfaith activists with his call for the National Police to take seriously the attack on an Ahmadiyah mosque in Tasikmalaya, West Java. He also urged police to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Nasaruddin's statement came as a surprise because it is in direct opposition to that of Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali, who said the Ahmadis must obey the law. It has raised speculation among the public that there is dissension at the ministry.
Lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis said on Tuesday that Nasaruddin seemed to have taken a stance different from his superior. "Maybe there are differences between them in the ministry. If that is the case, it means there is a problem in the government and that officials don't have solid relationships," he said.
Todung praised Nasaruddin's statement, saying that the deputy minister had shown he was fully supportive of religious minority groups in the country and expressed religious tolerance.
"Nasaruddin's a very open-minded person and he really respects people's freedom of religion. I have never heard or seen him degrade or discredit other people's beliefs. He should be an example for other officials. The minister, on the other hand, doesn't possess the same kind of spirit as Nasaruddin," he added.
Support for Nasaruddin also came from Ali Maschan Moesa, a National Awakening Party (PKB) politician who is also a member of the House of Representatives' Commission VIII on religious affairs. Ali said that Nasaruddin had provided some comfort for minorities, including the Ahmadis who were attacked in Tasikmalaya last Friday.
Commenting on the different viewpoints between the minister and his deputy, Ali said there could be a conflict between the two officials. He also criticized the minister, adding that Suryadharma tended to support right- wing groups.
"Yes, it's true that Suryadharma is rooted in the United Development Party [PPP], a party that is opposed to Shiite or Ahmadiyah sects. But he cannot keep on making unwise and insensitive remarks in public because he will only end up making things worse," Ali said.
Nasaruddin denied there was any split between him and Suryadharma in relation to the Ahmadiyah incident. "I do not think that our views are different as long as they are based on existing laws. As a government official, I feel responsible for ensuring that no citizens, including the Ahmadis, fall victims to intolerance," he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Nasaruddin said he was not afraid of being dismissed from his post because of his comments, adding that he had always been an academic and was not interested in pursuing any specific position in government. However, he also hinted that Cabinet ministers had to put aside the interests of their own political parties in the lead-up to the 2014 elections.
Nasaruddin was quoted by Antara news agency on Monday in response to the Ahmadiyah mosque attacks, saying that the police should take stern action against the individuals involved and bring them to justice. "This is a national task for all of us. The police must discover the identity of the assailants," he said.
Prior to Nasaruddin's comments, Suryadharma had said that the Ahmadis were the ones who should obey the law and "abandon their defiant beliefs".
Reports said that some 150 people attacked the mosque where 80 male and female Ahmadis were performing prayers last Friday. Several people were injured in the attack and police said they were outnumbered. No arrests have been made so far. (tas/asa)
Jakarta A leader of the country's second-largest Muslim organization says the Ahmadiyah sect are members of Islamic society despite some of their beliefs differing from more mainstream forms of the religion.
Muhammadiyah secretary Abdul Muti said that acknowledgment was based solely on the will to maintain good relationships with Ahmadi counterparts.
"Muhammadiyah acknowledges Muhammad as the final prophet, which is rather different to them. But that doesn't change our will to maintain good relationships and improve future cooperation with them," he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
He said Muhammadiyah would stand against any attempt to attack Ahmadi followers after savage displays of violence by a minority of hard-liners in the past five years. "The government should take this matter seriously. Those who have attacked Ahmadi followers and their assets should be firmly punished," he said.
Separately, Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin said that Muhammadiyah has never called for the disbandment of Ahmadiyah, despite the group often declaring that the religious sect was heretical.
"We have been telling our followers to disregard anyone who believes that there was another prophet after Muhammad. However, we are against anyone who physically attacks Ahmadi followers," he said.
The two largest Muslim organizations in Indonesia, the Nahdlatul Ulama and the Muhammadiyah say the disagreement with the Ahmadiyah view on the role of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad should not be displayed through violence. (asa/dic)
Agus Triyono The Supreme Court must move the blasphemy trial of a Shiite religious scholar off East Java's Madura Island to prevent fueling further violence there, a rights group said on Tuesday.
The Alliance for Solidarity Over the Sampang Case, a gathering a legal organizations, said the trial should be moved to a more neutral location.
"We are proposing to the Supreme Court to move the trial to Jakarta. If moved to Jakarta there would be more advocacy groups, media and nongovernmental organizations that could monitor the case," said Hertasning Ichlas, the coordinator of the alliance.
He said the minority Shiite community in Madura Island's Sampang district had long felt vulnerable to attack from the large Sunni population there.
More than 300 members of the Shiite community were displaced when a mob of 500 people attacked and burned Shia houses, a boarding school and a place of worship there in December.
On Jan. 1, the Sampang branch of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) issued an edict describing the teaching of Tajul Muluk, the head of the Shiite Muslim boarding school there, as "deviant." Two days later one of his relatives, Rois Al Hukuma, reported him to the police for blasphemy.
On March 16, the East Java Police charged Tajul with blasphemy and committing an "offensive action."
Hertasning said that holding the trial outside Madura would minimize intervention by outsiders, including the Sampang district chief. "We found that the Sampang district chief used hatred against the Shiite as a campaign tool and this is worrying," he said.
The alliance also wants the Judicial Commission to monitor Tajul's trial, he said. The trial opened at the Sampang District Court on Tuesday with the reading of the indictment.
In their indictment, the prosecutors accuse Tajul of blasphemy and insulting Islam, including by telling his students that the sacred Koran was not the original one. He face more than five years in jail if found guilty. The trial resumes next week.
"From the detention to the opening hearing, we felt that there were many irregularities. We also saw a lot of intervention and pressure," Hertasning said after meeting Judicial Commission members in Jakarta.
He cited among the irregularities the intimidation of judges, witnesses refusing to testify in court and the defense counsel's work being hindered. Hertasning said the commission had agreed to sent a team to monitor the trial.
Jakarta On the heels of repetitive attacks against minority groups across the country, a high-ranking official said on Tuesday that minority groups in Indonesia did not have any legal guarantee to protect their rights.
Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Nasaruddin Umar told The Jakarta Post in a telephone interview that the religious harmony bill currently discussed by lawmakers was the solution to shield minority groups from violent acts.
"Minority groups in this country need a legal basis to protect their rights. That is the reason why the bill is very crucial," he told The Jakarta Post over the telephone.
He snapped at the lawmakers for the time-consuming discussions over the bill, saying that Indonesia, which has many religious groups, needed the bill to be passed into law immediately. "We have so many bills addressing political issues to be passed into law, how come we do not have crucial regulation like this," he said.
Articles 6 of the long-awaited religious harmony bill instructed that all religious groups in Indonesia, including minorities, have the rights to be protected from any kind of discrimination.
The deputy minister also referred to a recent attack on an Ahmadiyah mosque in Tasikmalaya, West Java, on Friday last week. According to him, the 2008 joint ministerial decree banning Ahmadiyah followers from spreading their beliefs might be abused by certain groups without higher regulation stipulating the rights of minority groups.
Several Ahmadi groups have been attacked by the mainly mainstream Sunni community, who considered the group heretical.
Separately, Abdul Hakim, a Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker on the House of Representatives Commission VIII overseeing religious affairs said that the bill was still being discussed by the lawmakers. (asa)
Jakarta One of Indonesia's largest Islamic groups has condemned the recent attack on an Ahmadiyah mosque in Tasikmalaya, West Java, saying that it could act as mediator to solve the conflict.
Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) executive board chairman Said Aqil Sirad said that his organization would be ready to mediate the clash between a hard-line group and Ahmadiyah followers in the Singaparna district, Antara news agency reported. "NU is always ready to mediate whenever we asked to do so," he said on Monday.
He said that NU condemned the attack and urged law enforcers to locate prosecute the perpetrators "as soon as possible". "Our nation is based on laws. Therefore, the case should be resolved immediately in line with the law to avoid unrest," he said.
He said that no religion, including Islam, could justify violence toward other groups. As a minority group, Ahmadiyah has consistently been the subject of attacks by various groups who deem the sect to be heretical. (asa)
As junior high school students kicked off their final examinations in classrooms across Indonesia on Monday, Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Nasaruddin Umar said the government considered the Ahmadiyah issue the nation's "national exam."
"This is also the 'national exam' for the nation," Nasaruddin said during a visit to an Islamic school in Jakarta. He said the issue posed difficulties for the country, with all related parties needing to arrive at a solution.
On Friday, a mob ransacked a mosque belonging to the minority Ahmadiyah Islamic sect in Singaparna, West java, smashing windows and breaking equipment inside. Several police officers at the scene claimed they were powerless to intervene.
Nasaruddin said the police should uphold the law and prosecute those involved in the criminal attack. He also urged the House of Representatives (DPR) to pass the religious harmony bill into law.
Jakarta Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Nasaruddin Umar has targeted police to resolve religious attacks against an Ahmadiyah mosque taking a different stance on the issue than his superior.
Nasaruddin said police should take Friday's attack in Singaparna, Tasikmalaya, West Java, seriously and urged the arrest of any perpetrator of violence, Antara news agency reported. "This is a national task for all of us... the police must immediately unveil the identity of the assailants," he said on Monday.
This came after Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali stated that Ahmadiyah followers must obey the law a reference to the 2008 Joint Ministerial Decree banning members of the Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation (JAI) from propagating their religious beliefs.
The United Development Party (PPP) chairman said that while the offenders must be charged, "the Ahmadis must leave their defiant beliefs."
But Nasaruddin said the decree has "loopholes" in relation to protecting the minority groups. He added that the members of House of Representatives must pass the long-awaited religious harmony bill into law without any more fuss.
"The law is needed to bridge the gap between many religious groups in our country... as well as to sustain harmony between them," he said. (asa)
Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Vento Saudale After being forced by officials and police to hold their church service in a house instead of their church, members of a congregation in Karawang, West Java, were surrounded and harassed by more than 200 people on Sunday.
About 100 members of the Filadelfia congregation of the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) arrived at their church on Sunday morning but were blocked from entering by members of Karawang public order (Satpol PP) officials and police officers. Instead, the church members were told to use a member's house to hold the Mass.
"They said it was for our own security. But we couldn't accept it. After trying to push through officials' blockade, the congregation members backed down and held their prayers in a house," said Thompson Tampubolon, the congregation's lawyer.
A group of about 200 protestors went to the home where the service was being held and continued to assail the church members with chants, demanding that they leave the area.
Police and the public order officers guarded the house, preventing the disruption from escalating further. The congregation members said they were terrified and could not concentrate on the Mass.
"We don't know where they came from," said Asima, a congregation member who lives in the area. "Surely they were not locals because I didn't recognize them. We also don't know who sent them."
She said the only reason the group did not attack them was because of the police presence. "If there were no police officers guarding us, they would have attacked us," she said.
When the Mass ended, however, the members were not allowed to go home because the mob blocked their way out. Some protesters even attempted to attack the congregation members.
"A public order official chief then took out his gun and fired it to the air as more police arrived. Only then they could go home," Thompson said.
The blockade was the latest attempt to drive away the congregation members out of the location as various groups, mostly hard-line Muslims, have come and gone since the church began operations there in 2007. Clashes have taken place there almost every week since then.
The Filadelfia congregation of the HKBP submitted an application for a building permit in 2007, but despite meeting all the requirements, including an agreement from the 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.
The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court, which sided with the church in June 2011. Unsurprisingly, though, reluctant local officials have yet to implement the high court's ruling.
On Thursday, conflict between the congregation and protesters was captured on video, showing the later violently resisting attempts by the churchgoers to pray in their sealed-off house of worship.
Indra Harsaputra and Arya Dipa, Surabaya/Bandung Police are currently investigating violent acts in two separate areas motivated by different views of practicing Islam, the country's predominant religion, with religious observers blaming the incidents on the lack of dialogue among them.
"The police have yet to ensure who masterminded the assault," First Inspector Suhartanto, Jember Police officer in charge of detective operations and crime, said on Saturday.
He was referring to Friday's incident in which hundreds of people attacked Al-Mal Robbaniy Islamic boarding school, or pesantren, at Krajan village, Karangtengah sub-district, Sumbersari district, Jember regency, East Java.
The attack was reported to have been triggered by animosities between two groups of Islamic sects revolving around the difference in their views and practices of Islamic teachings. No fatalities were reported, but a score of the school's facilities were damaged by rocks that allegedly had been hurled by assailants. Suhartanto said they had questioned six witnesses comprising the school's board members and students.
The attack was reported to have taken place when the two groups were holding a mediation about their conflict with the Unified State and People's Protection Agency.
"The police are currently guarding the pesantren in order to maintain order in Jember in the aftermath of the attack," Suhartanto said.
The attack on the Al-Mal Robbaniy, established six years ago, left the fence and glass of several windows broken. Twelve students were at the time attending a class session in the school's hall.
Abdul Gani, one of the students, said he did not know the motive behind the attack, during which the intruders yelled "destroy" and shouted for the students to leave the class.
Ghazali Said, head of the East Java Forum for Religious Harmony, said the conflict that led to the attack was triggered by the difference in religious practices and cultural mind-sets. Among those religious practices that had become sources of animosity, according to him, included tahlilan (a gathering to hold prayers for dead spirits) and tomb visitations.
Mainstream Muslims in East Java adhere to those practices, but a few consider them to be against the Koran and Hadith, two basic guidance texts for Muslims. "In fact, the two groups have similar beliefs, but differ in culture and the way they practice the teachings," Ghazali said.
Those in the Al-Mal Robbaniy are reported to be followers of Wahabbism, one of the Islamic sects found in Saudi Arabia. "A community group follows the practices by those in Saudi Arabia, while the others stick to traditional Islam, which has long been developed in Indonesia," he said.
He said hostilities could have been avoided if dialogue had been held intensively between the clashing groups. "Interfaith dialogues have been ineffective because they are not touching the feuding groups," he said, calling for legal action against the perpetrators of the attack.
The attack on Al-Mal Robbaniy took place on the same day as the attack that took place in Tasikmalaya, West Java, in which dozens of people rampaged on the mosque belonging to Ahmadiyah followers, another minority Islamic sect in the country.
Local police said they had a tape of the incident, during and after the attack on Baiturrahman Mosque at Babakan Sindang hamlet, Cipakat village, Singaparna district on Friday.
"We are still continuing investigations. Documentation on the developments during and after the attack is in our hands," West Java Police spokesperson Sn. Comr. Martinus Sitompul said via short text message on Saturday.
Governor Ahmad Heryawan urged the police to bring perpetrators to justice. "Hostilities should not be allowed anywhere. That is a crime. I called the police chief to take legal action," he said.
Ahmadiyah followers have become victims across the country, with some clashes claiming lives. In West Java, Friday's incident was the second this year with the first in Cianjur on Feb. 17, also with the mosque being the target of the attack. Rafani Achyar, an official of the West Java Agency for Religious Harmony, called for religious elders to step in to deal with sectarian problem in the province. One of the urgent tasks for religious leaders, he said, was to help interpret the scriptures correctly and accurately.
Margareth S. Aritonang and Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta The House of Representatives has again been rocked by scandal after a video appeared on the Internet reportedly showing two Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmakers having sex.
The one-minute video was initially available for download on an obscure website, kilikitik.net, before another obscure website, indonesiarayanews.com, published a story about the video featuring screenshots on Tuesday.
The news website lists a "Hazairin Pohan" as its senior advisor and a "George Toissutta" as its editor-in-chief. It is uncertain if the names are aliases or are legitimately used: Hazairin is a former Indonesian ambassador, while George is a former Army chief of staff.
The news website published an article alleging that the lawmakers in the video were PDI-P politicians Aria Bima, from the Central Java electoral district, and Karolin Margret Natasa, from West Kalimantan.
While Karolin was not available to comment, Aria denied that he was the man in the video. "I can give assurances that I'm not the individual in the video. I am still monitoring news reports on the scandal," Aria said in a text message sent to reporters on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the House's ethics council said that it would launch a probe into the sex video, although council chairman M. Prakosa said that he would not accept the video as authentic without verification.
"It is only rumor. I only heard about it from the news media. It is not clear yet who two people in the video are. We have to be very careful before drawing any conclusions. This concerns the reputation of certain people," said the PDI-P lawmaker.
Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Suryo, apparently a self-styled expert on information and communications technology, was somewhat less reticent in his assessment.
"I am not 100 percent sure that the woman is Karolin but it's hard to deny that the woman is her. I haven't seen the video but I have closely looked at photos of the clips taken from the video. I am almost certain that the woman featured in the video is the lawmaker. As for the man, I have yet to confirm that it is [Aria] because the video does not show enough of him," Roy said.
Roy said that he met with the ethics council's leaders on Tuesday to discuss the video, claiming that the council contacted him soon after he arrived at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport from the Netherlands.
"Based on my observations, I can say that the sex video was intentionally shot by either one of individuals featured in it. I suggest that the council soon begin an investigation to clarify the rumors. We don't have to wait until the end of the House's recess period," he said.
Prakosa denied that the council had consulted with Roy. "It's not true. We didn't ask him for his help, because lawmakers are now on recess. When and if we need an expert, we will find someone from outside of the House who really knows how to do the job," he said.
Observers have speculated that the video might be part of a deliberate smear campaign directed at Aria, one of the PDI-P's most outspoken politicians and a frequent critic of President Susilo Bambang Yudho-yono's policies. The PDI-P, for example, was the only party that opposed the government's plan to raise fuel prices.
Meanwhile, others suspect that the video may have more to do with local politics in West Kalimantan: Karolin's father, Cornelis, the incumbent West Kalimantan governor, is seeking reelection this year.
University of Indonesia political analyst Iberamsjah said if the person in the video was not Aria, then the distribution of the video was cooked up to attack Aria for his outspokenness. "But if the individuals were the PDI-P lawmakers, then both must resign from their positions," he said.
Yahya Zaini of the Golkar Party resigned from the House following the revelations of a sex video featuring him and singer Maria Eva in 2006. The police could have investigated the case based on reports from Maria, who claimed she had an abortion from the affair. There has been no follow-up.
Arifinto, a PKS legislator, was caught on camera watching pornographic videos during a plenary session of the House of Representatives on April 8, 2011. He eventually resigned although he maintains he accessed the videos unknowingly through email attachments.
Max Moein from the PDI-P was depicted naked with his secretary in pictures circulating on the Internet. The House ethics council, under the leadership of Max's PDI-P colleague, Gayus Lumbuun, dismissed the legislator after calling him guilty of sexual harassment (Sept. 9, 2008).
Article 2: House ethics council tasked to investigate and verify the complaint on incidents allegedly committed by members of the House.
Article 17: House ethics council verifies the complaint in closed season.
Article 18: House ethics council shall maintain the confidentiality of information obtained during the verification session.
Article 40: House ethics council's decisions are final and binding.
Aricle 46: House ethics council can dismiss members from leadership positions of House and expel a member from the House.
Ezra Sihite A sex tape allegedly involving two politicians from Indonesia's opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle have been leaked online, reports said on Tuesday.
It is alleged that the two politicians, including a senior male politician and a younger woman colleague, are married but not to each other.
The Web site that initially hosted the video kilikitik.net, has been blocked, presumably by the government. The woman featured on the graphic video is reportedly strongly politically connected.
The alleged male partner, who the Jakarta Globe will only identify as A.B., has reportedly denied the allegations, telling a local news portal that the claims "are not true."
Other politicians from the opposition party, known as the PDI-P, have refused to comment on the potentially explosive allegations.
"It is only rumor, and it can not be proven who [they are]," PDI-P secretary general Tjahjo Kumolo was quoted by Detik.com as saying on Tuesday. He said such rumors did not deserve a response.
House of Representatives (DPR) Honorary Council chairman M. Prakosa, also from the PDI-P, said he was aware of the allegations but could not summon the alleged participants in the sex video because he had no evidence.
Acknowledging that the allegations constituted a "serious violation" of the law, Prakosa said the council would monitor developments as "the truth is still unknown."
"For sure, if it is clear or similar in appearance to them we have to be careful because this relates to someone's dignity. "If we have received [the video] we will summon the expert to see whether it is true or not."
Sex scandals involving Indonesian politicians are not new, though none have ever been jailed, unlike Nazril "Ariel" Irham, the lead singer of the band Peterpan who was jailed for three years and six months for distributing pornography following a controversial sex video scandal.
Though Ariel was jailed for his exploits with two Indonesian starlets, there were persistent rumors the rock star had bedded and filmed a number of women, including the married relative of a well-connected businessman, which led to his jail term.
Jakarta Just a few weeks after its establishment, the Antipornography Task Force is touting its first achievement: blocking pornography on the Internet.
The task force's achievement, however, came with certain caveats, according to one official.
"We block websites with domain names that contain the words 'porn' or 'sex'. However, there are also websites that hide their identity and pornographic content by using other names," Communications and Information Ministry spokesman Gatot S. Dewa Broto said on Monday. "We do not have a system that is able to detect those websites," he added.
In the task force's first meeting on Monday, Gatot said that the task force had collaborated with 188 Internet service providers (ISPs) in Indonesia to block "pornographic" websites.
"About 80 percent of the ISPs are located in Jakarta. We also have worked with the Association of Indonesian Internet Cafes to install pornography filters."
Failure to block pornography would lead to prosecution under the 2008 Pornographic Law and 2008 Information and Electronic Transaction Law, Gatot said.
In what critics said was an attempt to distract critics from corruption scandals implicating his Democratic Party, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono established the task force on March 13 to implement the 2008 Pornography Law.
At the meeting on Monday, the task force's operations chief, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali, said that a second team would be created to draw up a five-year plan and conduct operations against pornography.
The team will consist of 30 members from several ministries, government agencies, religious organizations, universities and private institutions.
The team will also make regulations as a legal basis for task forces at the regional and local level. Each province and regency in Indonesia will have its own task force under its local officials. The deputy religious affairs minister will lead the second team.
"We have written to the ministries and relevant agencies to submit the names of their representatives within the next 10 days. To select academics and practitioners, we will conduct a separate selection process. We don't have any names yet," Suryadharma said.
He said funds for the team's operations would come from the Religious Affairs Ministry's budget. In the meeting, Attorney General Basrie Arief said that the Attorney General's Office handled 58 pornography-related cases in 2011, most of which were in East Kalimantan.
The KPI said that in 2011 it had sent reprimands to nine private television stations for broadcasting explicit sexual content.
Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring was named a member of the task force, as was Coordinating People's Welfare Minister Agung Laksono, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali, Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Linda Gumelar, Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin, Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh, Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi, Industry Minister MS Hidayat, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu.
Also on the task force are Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedya-ningsih, Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al Jufri, Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng, National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo, Attorney General Basrie Arief, Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) head Dadang Rahmat and Film Censorship Board head Mukhlis Paeni. (tas)
Apriadi Gunawan, Medan Four people were injured on Saturday, two of them critically, during the latest in a long line of clashes between farmers and security officers employed by oil palm companies in Sumatra.
The clash took place between hundreds of workers and security officers of PT Sumatra Riang Lestari (SRL) at Hadudung Pintu Padang village, Padang Lawas regency, North Sumatra.
The clash was sparked by a land dispute at 9:30 a.m. at a timber estate area where several people were injured and a motorcycle belonging to PT SRL was burned by angry farmers. Two farmers and two PT SRL security officers were injured.
The company reported that two of its security officers were seriously injured about the head, while the two farmers suffered only slight injuries. The victims were rushed to the nearby hospital.
Farmers Group head Rotambun Hutasoit said that the clash was the continuation of brutal actions committed by security officers from PT SRL who had allegedly damaged crops and houses two days earlier.
Rotambun said that a similar action was about to be carried out on Saturday, but was strongly opposed by the farmers, thereby leading to the incident taking place.
"The clash was unavoidable because they [PT SRL] tried to take over the farmers' land which had been planted," he said. Rotambun explained that such an incident was not the first for SRL, but the only one that resulted in caused injuries.
"Clashes have taken place in the area since 2008 after SRL claimed the land that we managed belonged to them. In reality, we bought the land in 2004 based on legal documents from the subdistrict and district offices," he said, saying that the land purchased by the farmers totaled 1,500 hectares.
The land has been managed by 522 heads of family to plant oil palm, he said.
SRL spokesman Parlin Hasibuan, however, denied Rotambun's remarks, saying that the security officers had only intended to remind the farmers not to plant anything on the land that had been entrusted to his company, in line with a license from the Ministry of Forestry.
"We never confiscate the farmers' land. We only develop our own land in line with the license issued by the Ministry of Forestry in 2007," Parlin said.
Parlin also explained that Saturday's clash had nothing whatsoever to do with the company's plan to confiscate the farmers' land. "Eight of our employees who were on patrol in a car in our legal land area were suddenly attacked by the farmers," Parlin said.
Nov. 6, 2011: A farmer from Pelita Jaya hamlet, Mesuji, identified as Made Asta from Pelita Jaya hamlet, was killed after he was allegedly shot by a Lampung Police officer.
Feb. 1, 2012: Hundreds of residents of Besitang district, Langkat regency, North Sumatra clashed with soldiers and officers of Gunung Leuser National Park after their oil palm plantations were bulldozed by the officers.
Feb. 2, 2012: A number of North Sumatra Police Mobile Brigade officers were injured and five residents suffered gunshot wounds when clashes occurred in Rokan Hulu (Rohul), Riau. The clashes occurred after PT Agro Indonesia Mazuma (MAI) allegedly infringed upon land that residents considered to still be in the dispute process.
March 27, 2012: Police clash with residents of South Lampung when dealing with protests against the statue of Zainal Abidin Pagaralam. One resident was injured.
Members of Germany's Indonesian student association ridiculed House lawmakers visiting Berlin on Monday, calling the politicians "country bumpkins" and the trip a waste of state funds.
Indonesian lawmakers from the House of Representatives' Commission I which oversees defense and foreign affairs were attending an event at the Indonesian Embassy in Berlin that was attended by members of the Indonesian Student Association (PPI) and the Germany branch of the Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).
The forum was interrupted when two members of the PPI stood and addressed the assembled dignitaries.
"I've seen that some of you [brought] along your family members, although you claim this to be a working visit. Hopefully you [didn't] use a single cent of the state money [to finance the family members' trip]," an unidentified PPI member said in Indonesian to the lawmakers.
"We saw you coming here in a pack like some country bumpkins coming to Jakarta; excited and all... Hope you won't get the embassy staffers worked up when it's not even part of their job to serve you and your families," he added.
A different PPI member urged the lawmakers to publish the cost of the trip on the House's Web site. The students estimated the cost of the trip totaled Rp 3.1 billion ($337,900) in state funds.
The two organizations then stood up and left the embassy. The Indonesian lawmakers remained behind, looking nervous. By Wednesday, the whole thing was posted on YouTube.
It was not clear why the lawmakers were visiting Indonesians in Berlin, but House members often say trips like this are necessary for comparative studies and impromptu inspections.
Margareth S. Aritonang and Mustaqim Adamrah, Jakarta The Association of Indonesian Students in Germany and the German branch of the Islamic Organization Nahdatul Ulama (NU) protested against the visit of House of Representatives members to the country on Tuesday.
The association says the visit by members of Commission I overseeing defense, international affairs and communications and information technology would cause nothing but Rp 3.1 billion (US$337,900) in state budget spending.
Association representative Sugih Hartono read a list of demands in a meeting that was held at the Indonesian Embassy in Berlin, Germany, and was attended by embassy and Indonesian consulate general officials, House commission members and their family members and association members.
The House delegation, led by Democratic Party politician Hayono Isman, included Tantowi Yahya and Muhammad Rusman of the Golkar Party, Venna Melinda and Nurhayati Ali Assegaf of the Democratic Party, and Tri Tamtomo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
"We are asking representatives of the people to be transparent and publish your foreign trips complete with the fund needed on the House of Representatives' official website at least one month before departure," Sugih said.
He demanded House members publish the results of the visit on the website and the media.
"We are asking for your understanding not to lavishly spend our money by flying thousands of kilometers only for a hearing with the embassy's officials," Sugih said. "You can use the technology of teleconference while you are in Indonesia."
Association members left the meeting room after the reading of the statement, and uploaded the video of the reading of the statement on www.youtube.com on Wednesday. (ued)
Ezra Sihite Two groups on Sunday criticized the privatization of clean water in the capital, and received the support of a candidate for the city's governorship.
The Coalition of People Rejecting the Privatization of Water in Jakarta (KMMSAJ) and the Legal Aid Institute (LBH) Jakarta expressed their opposition during a forum on the city's clean water supplies.
"LBH Jakarta and KMMSAJ took up the water problem in Jakarta because the issue has been forgotten and marginalized," LBH Jakarta chairman Nurkholis Hidayat said. "This is a general need that should have been fought for by those concerned, especially the government."
Nurkholis said that even with the privatization of the Jakarta clean water company state controlled PAM Jaya subcontracts water services to private companies PAM Lyonnaise Jaya (Palyja) and Aetra Air Jakarta about 40 percent of Jakarta households do not have access to piped water.
The poor have to buy water at between Rp 37,000 and Rp 85,000 per square cubic meter, he said.
Nurkholis said that since signing the 25-year contracts with the two private companies in 1997, PAM Jaya has suffered from debts of up to Rp 1.3 trillion ($142 million). Its assets dropped from Rp 1.49 trillion to Rp 204.46 billion a 2007 audit showed.
Those organizing Sunday's discussion invited all six of Jakarta's gubernatorial candidates but independent candidate Hendardji Supandji was the only one who attended.
"Privatization is not problem if it alleviates the burden of the people, but it is if it's adding to the problem," said Hendardji, who is in the race with running mate Riza Patriya.
"It was said that the government debt to the private sector stood at Rp 1.3 trillion while PAM [Jaya]'s assets are only at around Rp 200 billion," Hendardji added. "That the assets of the state are smaller than the debt of Rp 1.3 billion does not make sense," Hendardji said.
He said that the debt should be paid and the contracts reviewed. "A 25-year contract can still be reviewed and the debt does not have to paid all at once, but can be paid during the term of the governor," he said.
He said that it was also unacceptable that water from PAM was still smelly and dirty. "Smelly water should be checked. If there is any sabotage, then it should be investigated Hendardji said. "Or maybe it is because procedures are not being followed."
The central government has been tried to make changes to the contracts in the water sector. PAM Jaya has been aggressive on this front but has met with limited results.
Aetra, which manages water services in the city's eastern half, has largely conceded to PAM Jaya's demands. Palyja, which runs the western half, has taken a harder line.
The main point on which the companies differ concerns the water tariff. Aetra has agreed to cap the charge for the remainder of the contract, which ends in 2022.
However, Palyja is adamant that it be raised, or that the government subsidize the system, which it always has been unwilling to do.
Andreas D. Arditya, Jakarta As the nation commemorated National Public Transportation Day on Tuesday, the city's commuters listed reasons why people keep shunning public transportation.
For many Jakartans, public transportation in the capital is the last resort: only for those who had no other option than to make their daily commute on public buses and trains.
College student Amalia Sekarjati, 21, who takes public buses daily, had several complaints about the substandard service. "During peak hours, the buses are filled to the brim with people; while in slow hours, they stop everywhere and for a long time to wait for passengers," Amalia told The Jakarta Post.
She hoped that the government regulations would make public busses more scheduled and organized, and thus more reliable.
Undhan Sevisari, 26, a resident of Klender, East Jakarta who commutes to her office on Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta, said she tried coping with public transportation but could not stand it anymore.
"I've had it with mikrolet [public minivans] and Transjakarta buses. It takes too long to arrive at my office by mikrolet, and Transjakarta buses are too crowded," she said. Undhan said riding a motorcycle cut her commute by up to an hour.
Erni Harini, a 46-year-old businesswoman decided to move her office after growing tired of traffic congestion. Erni said that three years ago, it only took 45 minutes to reach her office in Pancoran, South Jakarta from Pondok Gede, East of Jakarta.
"Now it takes two hours, so I decided to move my office nearer to my and my employees' residences," she said. Erni said that she would not mind taking public transportations as long as it was safe, comfortable, and punctual.
Indonesian Transportation Society (MTI) Jakarta branch head Tri Tjahjono said that although there were improvements in the city administration's handling of transportation issues in the city, such improvements were not enough to meet commuters' needs and demands.
"Failing to meet demand results in a downgrading in all sectors. Transjakarta buses, for example, are getting more and more crowded with longer and longer lines," Tri said.
He argued that the problem was rooted in the lack of a minimum standard of services for public transportation. "The buses are not punctual because they are not required to be so; passengers' complaints are useless," he said, urging the government to draft measurable standards and service benchmarks.
According to Tri, all modes of public transportation could be utilized to solve the traffic issues in Jakarta. "The government should revamp public minivans' routes and restrict their number, so they can support other modes of transportation like trains and Transjakarta buses," said Tri.
Tri also urged the Jakarta administration to improve the Transjakarta bus service's performance because it was the most feasible solution for Jakarta's congestion.
"The Mass Rapid Transit [MRT] system and facilities take a long time and take lots of money to implement. We still need Transjakarta buses for the next eight years," he said.
Soedirman, the head of Jakarta Branch of the Organization of Land Transportation Owners (Organda), lamented that the government never paid serious attention to developing public transportation, referring to the fact that many public vehicles did not meet safety standards.
Soedirman, whose organization represents the owners of public minivans and buses, urged the administration to raise public transportation fares or give subsidies to public minivans and buses. He argued that the present tariffs were "unrealistically low", putting heavy burden on public transportation owners.
Low fares and the government's reluctance to provide subsidies, Soedirman said, contributed to the low quality of public transportation in the city as public transportation owners were struggling to cope with their vehicles' maintenance costs.
Jakarta Transportation Agency chief Udar Pristono said that the city had proposed a plan to revitalize the city's public transportation management.
"We are asking the Transportation Ministry to issue stricter regulations on public transport management. It's impossible to have good management of public transport with the existing regulations," Udar said.
The agency chief explained that the majority of public transport vehicles, like mikrolet or mini-buses, were not managed under a single company. "Mikrolet vans serving the same route are owned by dozens of different people. They are grouped under a cooperative, not a company."
The city expected that through a new regulation, vehicle owners would be forced to consolidate and establish a professional company. (cor/sat)
Ronna Nirmala In a break with the past, the latest survey conducted ahead of the July 11 gubernatorial election in Jakarta showed that voters were judging the candidates by how they planned to address the city's many woes, not by how popular they were.
The survey, which was conducted last week by the University of Indonesia's Center for Political Research (Puskapol), showed that Jakartans believed candidates should focus on coming up with real solutions instead of boasting about how many supporters they had, especially of certain key ethnicities.
A total of 76 percent of the 742 residents with fixed, registered telephone lines questioned in the survey said they would seriously consider the candidates's program proposals when making their choice. "The data show that the level of awareness of residents in this gubernatorial election is really high," said Irwansyah, one of the Puskapol researchers.
Dirga Ardiansa, another Puskapol researcher, said the survey showed that substance was important to voters entrusting someone to address the many problems of a city such as flooding, traffic congestion, pollution, thuggery and poverty. "The competition for the leadership of Jakarta is now one of ideas, platforms and programs to overcome the series of problems," Dirga said.
The survey showed that 59 percent of the people questioned remained hesitant as to their choice of candidate. "Only about a fourth of those questioned [23 percent] have already made their choice, and 17.6 percent feel skeptical, saying there is no candidate capable of dealing with Jakarta's problems," Dirga said.
A total of 62 percent wanted problems of prosperity and security such as poverty, thuggery and rape to be overcome in the first year, the researcher said. Nearly 30 percent wanted the winner to solve the capital's perennial flooding and traffic problems within two years.
Traffic was the city's most significant problem for 25 percent of those surveyed. "The next one, with 21.67 percent, is flooding, and following that are environmental problems such as waste, water, pollution and emissions in third place with 10.89 percent," Dirga said.
To deal with the city's notorious traffic, 27 percent of respondents recommended limiting vehicles, 17 percent wanted expansion of public transportation and 15 percent believed roads should be expanded. Eleven percent wanted better traffic management.
The survey also showed that 81 percent of those questioned said they would vote, while 18 percent said they would refrain because none of the candidates met their expectations.
Andi Hajramurni, Makassar, South Sulawesi Nine Mobile Brigade (Brimob) officers with the Gorontalo Police were named suspects in a shooting incident involving members of Brimob and the Army Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) in Gorontalo last week, which killed one soldier and injured others.
They were charged with Article 351 of the Criminal Code on assault, carrying with it a sentence of up to five years.
Gorontalo Police spokeswoman Adj. Sr. Comr. Lisma Dunggio said on Saturday that the nine policemen were detained at the Gorontalo Police headquarters while waiting for the completion of the dossier.
"We named them suspects after questioning 40 police and civil witnesses," she said, adding that the figure would likely to increase. "We're speeding up the process so that Gorontalo residents won't have to worry for too long," he added.
However, the investigators have yet to name any suspects for the death of Second Pvt. Firman, a member of Kostrad's 221st Infantry Battalion based in Gorontalo, who died from a gunshot that passed through his right arm and pierced his chest on April 22. The motive behind the shootings is still unknown.
"The joint investigation team is still finding out where the ballistics came from," Lisma said. Lisma added that the nine suspects would face a court as well as an internal ethics hearing.
On Saturday, the team investigated four scenes: Limboto tower, the Public Works Agency office, the front of Limboto mall and close to Jl. Trans Sulawesi.
Separately, spokesman of the Wirabuana Military Command overseeing Sulawesi, Col. Yance Woley, emphasized that the security status in Gorontalo was normal. However, Lisma said that Gorontalo Police were on alert. (swd)
Markus Junianto Sihaloho A House of Representatives commission chairman on Wednesday called on the government to address the jealousy between soldiers and police, which he said was at the root of the conflict between them.
Mahfudz Siddiq, chairman of House Commission I, which deals with security and defense, said that without addressing the issue of jealousy, conflicts such as the one that pitted the two forces against each other last weekend would continue.
Six soldiers and two policemen were injured in a clash that broke out in Sulawesi's Gorontalo province.
"This conflict did not happen because of any misunderstanding on the field," Mahfudz said. "It relates to jealousy."
He said that since the reforms of the Armed Forces (TNI) in past decades, one aspect had been neglected the improvement of soldiers' welfare. Meanwhile, the police were much better at improving the welfare of their own personnel, he added.
"This is something that cannot be denied," Mahfudz said. Therefore, he continued, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should not only seek to mediate between the TNI and the police, but he should also take steps to prevent these conflicts from occurring again.
"The president should find a solution so that the discrepancies and the jealousy between the two institutions can be overcome," the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) legislator said.
He said the House planned to hold a joint meeting between Commissions I and III and invite the heads of the TNI and the National Police, the defense minister and the coordinating minister for politics, legal and security affairs.
"This is to seek the best solution," Mahfudz said. "We need to make sure that the interests of the nation and the state, in regards to security, comfort and conducive conditions, do not become neglected because the police and military personnel are fighting each other."
The violence between police and soldiers in Gorontalo on the weekend was only the latest in a series of similar incidents in many regions across the country.
Gorontalo Indonesian Military and police personnel signed a peace agreement during a reconciliation ceremony in Gorontalo after clashes between the two rival groups in the northern Sulawesi province on Sunday left eight people wounded.
The joint declaration stipulates that both sides be open and support each other, and uphold unity to prevent public unrest, Antara reported. There was no word whether or not those responsible for the violence would face charges.
The incident, in the early hours of Sunday, involved members of the Gorontalo Police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) unit and soldiers from the Army's Kostrad strategic reserve command.
Six soldiers and two Brimob officers were hurt in the violence. Four of the soldiers suffered gunshot wounds and the two others had slash wounds. The two Brimob members were injured by stones thrown at them. The brawl in Gorontalo province caught the attention of lawmakers in Jakarta.
"This incident will encourage people to use violence to solve their problems. House Commission III demands that this be handled seriously," said Nasir Djamil, the deputy chairman of the House of Representatives commission that oversees legal affairs.
The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker said he believed the brawl was prompted by a dispute over sources of revenue.
"It also shows the failure of the leaders of those units to maintain discipline," he said. "I hope that the leadership of both the Kostrad and the Brimob in Gorontalo is evaluated and, if there are cases of negligence or fighting over sources of revenues, that they be dismissed."
Hajriyanto Thohari, deputy chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), said links between the police and military needed to be better regulated.
The Golkar Party official said that following the separation of the two forces in 1999, ties between the police and military were characterized by squabbles over money and territory. He said the military, charged with defending the nation, had a smaller day-to-day role than the police.
Mahfudz Siddiq, a PKS lawmaker who heads House Commission I, which oversees defense and security, demanded that the National Police and military "study the root cause of clashes between their personnel" because the Gorontalo incident was only the tip of the iceberg.
He said there should be no significant differences in the welfare of police officers and soldiers, that their duties did not overlap, and efforts should be made to improve discipline and professionalism in both forces.
And quick and appropriate law enforcement in disputes involving the police and military, he added, would act as a deterrent to future problems.
Indonesian Military (TNI) spokesman Rear Adm. Iskandar Sitompul called on soldiers not to allow themselves to be dragged into conflicts. "The TNI headquarters regrets the incident," he said. "We should keep a cool head in settling this case. No one should be provoked."
He said military and police leaders at the provincial and district levels were holding meetings to discuss the incident. "I hope that this case is comprehensively investigated," Iskandar said. (JG/Antara)
Jakarta Six members of the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) and two members of the Gorontalo Police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) were injured on Sunday in what appears to be the latest in a line of clashes between personnel of the two institutions.
Of the eight injured, four suffered from gunshot wounds, Antara news agency reported.
The incident began in front of the Gorontalo regency General Elections Commission (KPU) office in Gorontalo Province in the early hours of Sunday morning, as a group of Brimob members were patrolling in a truck. An unidentified group of people suddenly pelted the truck with stones and bottles.
Two of the Brimob members suffered head injuries and were treated at Dunda Limboto Hospital. They were named as Chief Brig. Asrul Sani and First Brig. Saripudin.
Not long after, several bursts of gunfire were heard as a number of Brimob members engaged in a sweep of the area. Four men, later identified as Kostrad members, suffered gunshot wounds.
An Indonesian Military (TNI) source named the four as Apriadi who was hit in his back and knee; Firman who was hit in the arm and chest; and Yanris and Tiflif who received ankle and thigh wounds, respectively. All the soldiers hold the rank of second private.
Two other TNI members, also second privates, suffered stab wounds. They were named as Rahim who was stabbed in the arm, and Adrian who suffered a head wound. The source gave no information as to why the clash had occurred.
As of Sunday afternoon, Brimob officers were seen guarding their headquarters in Isimu district, Gorontalo regency.
TNI spokesman Rear Adm. Iskandar Sitompul confirmed that the clash had occurred and that the TNI would launch an investigation into the incident. "There was a clash in Gorontalo. It will be investigated further," he said.
Iskandar said that any disciplinary measures against soldiers involved in the clash would be handled by Kostrad. "The institutions should know better about proper disciplinary measures; it will be up to them," he said on Sunday.
National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. M. Taufik said the cause of the dispute between the police and TNI personnel remained unknown, and that the police were still investigating the incident.
"Our personnel had to fire rubber bullets to paralyze the soldiers as they were resisting the raid," he said. "The soldiers even tried to chase our injured personnel on their way to hospital," he said.
Clashes between soldiers and police officers have taken place recurrently, especially since the separation of the two institutions in 2000.
Since then, TNI officers have had less access to "extra financial resources" than their peers in the police, as businesses turn to them for protection following a law that defined the police as the country's sole law enforcement authority.
Before the separation, the TNI also had the authority to enforce the law and detain people, even without a trial.
A recent spate of motorcycle-related violence in North Jakarta also allegedly involved members of the two institutions, although this has not been officially confirmed. In relation to this violence, two soldiers were injured from shots fired by unidentified gunmen on Jl. Pramuka, Central Jakarta early this month.
In December last year in Medan, North Sumatra, a soldier and an officer from the North Sumatra Police were also injured in a clash involving TNI and police officers. It was recorded as the third case that year in the region.
A number of police personnel were previously involved in a clash with soldiers in North Sumatra during a raid on a gambling den.
The raid, in Medan in April the same year, a police officer was injured after being hit with a wooden beam by an individual believed to be a soldier, who apparently tried to interfere in the raid. (fzm)
Dec. 12, 2011: A TNI officer and a member of the North Sumatra Police are injured in a clash. The incident is triggered by a minor traffic accident.
April 2011: Dozens of police officers clash with members of the TNI in Medan, North Sumatra. The clash occurred during a police raid on a gambling den.
July 4, 2010: TNI officers attack Muaraenim Police station in South Sumatra.
Aug. 17, 2010: Dozens of soldiers attack the Siantar Police station in Pematang Siantar, North Sumatra.
June 7, 2009: An officer from Megangsakti Police station in Musi Rawas regency, South Sumatra shoots dead a soldier during a police raid at a night spot.
Sept. 5, 2009: Dozens of unidentified men mob the Matraman Police station on Jl. Matraman Raya, Central Jakarta, hurling stones and flower pots. Matraman Police chief Comr. Kasworo says that the incident arose after police arrested soldiers in a motorcycle-theft case.
A few dozen judges from several areas recently came to Jakarta to protest their low salaries. Along with police, prosecutors and lawyers, judges are part of Indonesia's widely criticized judiciary. The Jakarta Post's Hasyim Widhiarto reports on the issue.
Bertho WedhatamaJudge Sunoto Ahmad, 31, is on the brink of giving up his job after six years in the courts.
Transferred from the Liwa District Court in Lampung to Aceh Tamiang District Court two years ago, the father-of-three said he has been struggling to make ends meet with his relatively low salary.
"As a judge, I earn a total of Rp 3.3 million (US$359.7) per month, with at least Rp 2 million spent on food, Rp 600,000 for paying a housemaid, Rp 500,000 for buying household needs and the remaining Rp 200,000 for buying milk for my two-year-old son and baby girl. It's hard to save even a single cent from my salary," Sunoto said.
But he considers himself lucky as he was given an official residence. Many of his colleagues in other remote regions have had to seek rented accommodation. Besides his modest furniture, the other valuable asset in Sunoto's house perhaps is only the 2007 Honda Supra Fit motorcycle his parents bought for him.
Although he also receives an additional performance-based remuneration every three months, Sunoto said he has put that additional income aside for his eldest daughter's school needs and other emergency purposes.
"For the past two years, my wife and I decided not to take the children to our hometown in Pati [Central Java] during the Idul Fitri [Islamic] holiday... it's better to save for the rainy days," said Sunoto, who was inaugurated as a judge in 2006 after completing a two-year intensive training program run by the Supreme Court.
Sunoto, who holds a master's degree in notary, said he has had often received "requests" for favorable verdicts from defendants' families or lawyers, for a fee. Sunoto said he was trying his best to resist the temptation.
"Today I still manage to uphold my dignity as a judge. But honestly, I don't know for how long I can survive [by doing this]," he said, adding that he was considering switching his career from judge to a notary public.
One judge, who requested anonymity and would only speak in general terms, said it often was not as simple as choosing between right and wrong. "At first, they put money on the table for you. If you refuse, they replace the money with a gun. If you were me, which one you would choose?" the judge said.
Even in their very early days of service, new judges and even judge candidates are confronted by such offers.
Although his authority is still limited to writing draft court verdicts for judges, Dodik Setyo Wijayanto, 30, a judge candidate interning at the Cibinong District Court in Bogor, West Java, said several lawyers have tried to approach him to ask if he could help them win their cases.
"I never know who told the lawyers that I was the person assigned to conceive the draft verdict of a certain trial. One of them even promised to pay me, at any cost, should I manage to help the client win her pre-trial appeal," said the father-of-one, who will be inaugurated as a judge in the next couple of months.
Granted the status of "state officials" under the 2009 judicial authorities law, judges hold great responsibility to represent the state in running its judiciary. On the one hand, the role poses another threat to the safety of judges and their families with every guilty verdict. On the other hand, their powers attract offers of graft payments with their modest income being the classic excuse for accepting the bribes.
A 2010 survey of 392 judges in four provinces East Java, Riau, South Sumatra and Southeast Sulawesi carried out by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) found that just 13.7 percent admitted to have ever been offered a bribe.
But a higher proportion of respondents, 20.3 percent, said that they know other judges who have accepted a bribe. The survey did not ask whether the respondents themselves have accepted a bribe.
The monthly take-home pay for a low-ranking judge currently ranges from Rp 2 million to Rp 6 million, much lower than the Rp 7 million recently proposed by the Judicial Commission as a decent basic salary for lower court judges.
Earlier this month, a group of judges from remote regions met members of the House of Representatives and Administrative Reforms Minister Azwar Abubakar to voice their anger over deteriorating living standards, due to their limited salaries and lack of civil-service benefits.
Claiming to represent 7,000 judges from around the country, the group said that pay rises and better welfare provisions would help maintain their "independence".
Although the government has responded the judges' calls by establishing a small team, consisting of representatives from the State Secretariat, the Finance and Administrative Reforms ministries, the Judicial Commission and the Supreme Court, to study a decent and feasible salary increase, the disgruntled judges said they would place pressure on the team to ensure a fair outcome.
Judge Abdurrahman Rahim, the group's spokesman, insisted on a deadline for the study's findings and said judges would go on strike after Aug. 16, the day when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to deliver his 2013 state budget speech in front of the legislative.
"Some fellow judges initially wanted to hold a nationwide strike on the upcoming May Day, but we finally agreed to make Aug. 16 our deadline. If President Yudhoyono says nothing about improving judges' welfare, then we will stop leading trials for an indefinite period," Abdurrahman said.
Besides their long-standing financial constraints, Abdurrahman said many of his colleagues, especially those in remote areas, have also been subjected to psychological and physical harassment by people they have convicted and defendants' families, since most judges live in close proximity to them but are not afforded any protection measures.
"For example I now wear shorts when visiting a local market after I met several former litigants who recognized me there," said Abdurrahman, who works in Sambas Religious Court, West Kalimantan, citing his attempts to avoid harassment.
While improving judges' welfare would not instantly eradicate corruption in the judiciary, failing to increase their pay would provide "a larger opportunity for corruption to worsen", the deputy executive director of the Institute for the Assessment and Advocacy, Arsil, told The Jakarta Post.
Emerson Yuntho of the Indonesian Corruption Watch also said that once judges receive a pay increase, the Supreme Court must operate their reward and punishment assessment system more strictly to not only to ensure the quality of verdicts but also limit the possibility for corruption.
"A person commits corruption out of need or greed. Therefore, there is no guarantee that there will be no more corrupt judges if the state pays them, for example, Rp 20 million per month or more," Emerson said.
He also questioned why judges from larger cities like Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya did not join the recent protest.
"I'm afraid this pay-rise demand has not become an important issue for most judges in big cities, since many of them know how to welcome bribery attempts, or even extort justice seekers, without harming their position," Emerson said.
In February, the Jakarta Corruption Court sentenced bankruptcy judge Syarifuddin Umar to four years in prison and ordered him to pay Rp 150 million in fines for accepting Rp 250 million in bribes while handling a case.
Last June, former Tangerang District Court judge Muhtadi Asnun who acquitted graft convict Gayus H. Tambunan was sentenced to two years in prison for receiving $40,000 in bribes from Gayus.
In August 2010, Jakarta State Administrative High Court judge Ibrahim was sentenced to six years in prison and fined Rp 200 million for receiving Rp 300 million in bribes from a palm-oil entrepreneur.
Several Greater Jakarta-based judges interviewed by the Post strongly refuted Emerson's suspicion, saying it was pressure and threats of violence from lawyers and defendants' families that usually put them in such difficult situations.
Esther Samboh, Jakarta Bank Indonesia (BI) will issue a regulation limiting ownership in local banks next month before proceeding with a formal review of planned acquisitions of Indonesian lenders, including the high-profile US$7.2 billion DBS Holdings Group's takeover of the nation's sixth largest lender Bank Danamon.
The rule will still allow financial institutions, which are considered highly regulated, to own majority stakes in domestic banks. But for unsupervised investors outside of the financial sector, an ownership cap would be imposed, BI Governor Darmin Nasution said on Friday without disclosing details.
It would also include a set of requirements to run a bank here, including requiring multiple licenses for different banking services, Darmin added.
Indonesian banks have been facing difficulties operating overseas, while foreign investors are allowed to own up to a 99 percent stake in local banks a regulation made in the aftermath of 1997/1998 crisis to spur growth in the financial sector.
"I have talked with the Monetary Authority of Singapore [MAS] in Washington. I have said that we will process the Danamon-DBS [deal] after finishing the regulation on the ownership cap. That also applies to other investors," Darmin told reporters. "We also talked about reciprocity issues."
"The regulation is for prudential purposes, without any intention to limit foreign investors. The regulation also applies to both domestic and foreign banks."
DBS spokeswoman Karen Ngui declined to comment on Darmin's statements when contacted by The Jakarta Post.
At least three foreign banks halted their plans to acquire local banks last year while awaiting the upcoming ownership rules, including Malaysia's Bank Affin's and RHB Capital's plans for Bank Ina Perdana and Bank Mestika Dharma, respectively, as well as China Construction Bank's plan for Bank Maspion.
Banks in Indonesia have seen increased interest from local and foreign investors as they continue to show resilience and have become among the most profitable banks in Southeast Asia with capital strength well above international requirements.
That has encouraged BI to ensure good governance in the banking sector by having as many shareholders as possible, after seeing local banks turning into the subjects of fraud with high-profile embezzlement scandals at Citibank and Bank Mega, as well as the alleged massive fraud carried out by the owners of Bank Century.
"Risks could be diversified with many shareholders," banking expert Paul Sutaryono told the Post.
The momentum is right for BI to enforce the new rules, as well as to call for reciprocal treatment from banking regulators overseas to ease local banks' expansion outside the country, because with the promising prospects of Indonesia's banking sector, the rules have been too relaxed here, some observers have said.
"The DBS acquisition of Danamon is good momentum to be used for BI's bargaining position relative Singapore's central bank," Paul said.
Danamon shares tumbled 6.35 percent, the most in six months, to Rp 5,900 apiece on Friday's close as investors feared that the takeover would be terminated, cancelling previous expectations of benefiting from the DBS offer to buy stakes at Rp 7,000 a share.
DBS announced a plan earlier this month to acquire a 67.37 percent stake in Danamon and purchase the remaining stock in cash to own 99 percent of Danamon.
Khaerudin, Nasru Alam Aziz, Jakarta The disparity and gap between those who are rich and poor in Indonesia is clearly illustrated by data on the control of national productive assets.
Only 2 percent of the Indonesian population controls 56 percent of the country's productive national assets. Of this 56 percent, eighty-seven percent is in the form of land.
"According to the National Land Agency, around 56 percent of the country's national assets are controlled by just 2 percent of the Indonesian population. As much as 87 percent of this 56 percent of national assets is in the form of land", said House of Representatives Commission II member and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) legislator Budiman Sudjatmiko when speaking with Kompas on the evening of Wednesday April 25.
According to Sudjatmiko, there are three basic problems facing Indonesia with regard to the disparity and injustice in the control of the country's national assets, particularly in the agrarian sector.
The first is economic policies, which since the Dutch colonial period until now have tended to side with big capital. Second, overlapping legislation and violations of the 1945 Constitution and the 1960 Basic Agrarian Law. Third, the sectoral egos of the ministries and institutions concerned with agrarian affairs and natural resources.
These three problems, according to Sudjatmiko, are there main reason for the protracted agrarian conflicts in Indonesia. "Agrarian conflicts will never be resolved and will even tend to become bigger because the government is unwilling to address these three big problems", he said.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono must be commended for his plan to issue a formal apology to the nation for every abuse of human rights committed by the state against its own citizens.
This is a nation whose modern history since independence in 1945 is filled with stories of state-sponsored killings and abuses, for one reason or another. An apology is not only long overdue, but it will also send a powerful message: From this time on, the nation will respect the rights of every citizen, irrespective of race, culture, customs and traditions, language, religion and political beliefs.
But before we cheer the President's noble intentions, we should really ask him: What exactly are we, as a nation, apologizing for?
An apology entails an admission of guilt. Many, if not all, human rights atrocities committed by the state have never been officially admitted, although we know they happened. Few, if any, have been prosecuted for human rights violations. As far as the state is concerned and official-history school textbooks would vouch for this they never happened.
The purge of communists, their families and supporters over 1965 and 1966 reached genocidal proportions, but as far as the state is concerned, it never happened. We don't even know nor even been bothered to find out the exact death toll. Estimates range from 300,000 to 1.5 million. The late navy admiral Sudomo, given a hero's burial after dying last week, was one of the leaders in the killing campaign and once even bragged that there were three million deaths.
The systematic killings and abuses against Papuans as part of the government's campaign to win over the territory since 1963 have also not been properly reported and documented because, officially, they never took place. We should include Indonesia's brutal military occupation of Timor Leste from 1975 to 1999, even though the territory is no longer part of the republic today.
Some, but not all, of the abuses committed by the military in Aceh have been well-documented by the National Commission on Human Rights, but many of the perpetrators have been left off the hook. And there are many other "smaller" ones in between these major atrocities. They happened, but we as a nation have never formally admitted them.
As welcome as the idea of an apology is, which Yudhoyono's chief legal advisor Albert Hasibuan says is intended to be one of his legacies upon leaving office in 2014, the President cannot claim this to be a novelty for he has previously killed off a similar initiative.
President Abdurrahman Wahid started moving to the establishment of a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" in 1999, and the law mandating such a commission was passed by the House of Representatives five years later during Megawati Soekarnoputri's presidential term. It was made in the spirit of "to forgive but not to forget". Law No. 27/2004, however, was dead on arrival not on the legislation's arrival, but President Yudhoyono's arrival to the Presidential Palace. He quietly sent the law to the Constitutional Court and succeeded in having it repealed. The law and the issue have practically been forgotten.
Now, President Yudhoyono is trying to revive the issue and claim this as his legacy.
Sorry is the hardest word indeed, because it entails honesty and humility on our part and a genuine admission that we have done all those horrible things to our own people. Do we as a nation have the ability to do that? Does the President have that ability?
Members of the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police (Polri) were involved in an armed clash yet again on Sunday, apparently in a fashion that displays remnants if not side effects of the incomplete 1998 internal reforms of the military and the 2000 separation of the two forces.
The incident began in front of the Gorontalo regency's General Elections Commission (KPUD) office in the early hours of Sunday, as a group of Police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) members were patrolling in a truck. An unidentified group of people suddenly pelted the truck with stones and bottles. Two of the Brimob members suffered head injuries and were rushed to a local hospital for treatment, while the rest were engaged in gun fights as they searched the area. Four men, identified as Army Strategic Reserves Command members, suffered gunshot wounds in the exchanges.
While we praise the leading figures of both the TNI and the Polri for taking immediate actions to prevent the clash from escalating, the lingering question is: Why should such armed clashes remain unabated?
First of all, both institutions need to thoroughly investigate Sunday's clash as both TNI and Polri have yet to identify its trigger, though it was obvious that the Brimob members' involvement was provoked. A complete investigation will help determine whether the clash was premeditated as part of a grand design to destabilize security at the local level that, if unsolved, could escalate into a regional or national level issue; or whether it was simply a physical clash and part of each institution's subjective esprit de corps.
For long-term purposes, a further investigation should be conducted to identify the core problems that have frequently led to such clashes, and simultaneously define the terms of reference and settlement options that can be used as permanent solutions to the problems.
Clashes between military soldiers and police officers have taken place recurrently, especially since the separation of the two institutions based on the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) decree in 2000. Since then, TNI officers have had less access to "extra financial resources" than their peers in the police, as businesses turn to them for protection following a law that defined the police as the country's sole law enforcement authority.
One case in point was the recent death of a Navy soldier at the hands of an angry mob. The soldier was reportedly defending a truck, which collided with a minibus in North Jakarta. In a later development, a spate of motorcycle-related violence broke out in North Jakarta, allegedly involving members of the TNI and Polri, although this has not been officially confirmed. And as investigators (either TNI or Police) have yet to examine the preceding cases of violence, the shooting of two soldiers by unidentified gunmen riding on a hatchback sedan in Central Jakarta early this month has added weight to the overall series of violence.
In Medan, North Sumatra, last December, a soldier and an officer from the North Sumatra Police were injured in a clash involving TNI and police officers. A number of police personnel were previously involved in a clash with soldiers in North Sumatra during a raid on a gambling den.
All these cases have shown that there are still problems with reforms, particularly in the TNI not only regarding the prosperity of TNI soldiers, but also law enforcement efforts against TNI officers committing crimes.
While increasing soldiers' welfare should answer their prosperity problems, upholding transparency in law enforcement and ensuring prosecution of TNI officers for their wrongdoings remains a problem as they are currently only subject to military law and can thus only be tried in a military tribunal, fueling suspicions that the exclusive justice system will only prolong an environment of impunity for soldiers.
Internal reforms in the TNI have shown significant results. Yet, there are things that need improvement, including its welfare and law enforcement systems.