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Indonesia News Digest 1 – January 1-8, 2017

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News & issues

Russian accosted by locals in Batam for wearing hammer-and-sickle shirt

Jakarta Post - January 1, 2017

Fadli and Jon Afrizal, Batam – A Russian national was accosted by a group of locals while on holiday in Batam, Riau Islands, on Saturday, for wearing a t-shirt displaying communist symbols.

Igor Riabchuk was approached by members of an organization calling themselves Children of the Red Beret Command (AKBM) while he was walking in Batam's Nagoya. The group said the 49-year-old man had violated the law for wearing a t-shirt bearing the hammer-and-sickle logo, the symbol of communism.

Riabchuk, who cannot speak English or Indonesian, could not understand them and could not resist when they took him to the police station.

Riau Islands Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Saptono Erlangga told The Jakarta Post that the police decided to hold him for a while for his own safety. "He can only speak Russian so he didn't understand why these people approached him," said Saptono.

Saptono said the police later confiscated the t-shirt and returned the man to his hotel. Igor said he purchased the t-shirt in Vietnam. "He's only a tourist. No political motive," said Saptono.

Indonesian law still bans communism and often jails people for discussing the ideology or wearing paraphernalia related to communism.

Earlier, the local military command detained a Singaporean, Azri Zulfarhan bin Kamsin, for wearing a similar t-shirt. He was also released and had the t-shirt confiscated.

In Jambi, the police detained Rudiyanto, a resident of Alambarajo, Jambi, for wearing a hammer-and-sickle t-shirt on New Year's Eve. The motorcycle taxi driver was stopped while crossing the street wearing the red t-shirt.

Rudianto said he bought the shirt two weeks ago at a local flea market. "I was on my way to see the New Year's celebration, but ended up here at the police station," he said on Sunday. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/01/russian-accosted-by-locals-in-batam-for-wearing-hammer-and-sickle-shirt.html

West Papua

Indonesian Consulate trespassers are frustrated supporters of Papuan

Jakarta Globe - January 8, 2017

Sheany, Jakarta – Spokesman of the Indonesian Embassy in Australia Sade Bimantara said on Saturday (07/01) that an investigation into a breach at the Indonesian Consulate General in Melbourne is ongoing.

On Friday, around midday, a white man and woman broke into the consulate's premises and hoisted the Morning Star flag that symbolizes the Free Papua Movement, or OPM. They scaled a 2.5-meter wall from a nearby apartment building, while most of the office staff were performing Friday prayers.

Sade said the man has not been caught, but the Australian Federal Police are questioning his female friend who was recording the incident.

"He's a frustrated member of a separatist group and has neither been supported by the Australian government nor public. [The perpetrators] were also rejected by the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands Forum," Sade told the Jakarta Globe.

He added the rejection might have triggered the action. Indonesia has condemned the incident.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has called on Australian authorities to start a legal process against the trespassers and enhance the security measures at all Indonesian missions across the country.

According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, the receiving states are responsible for the security of diplomatic and consular missions and their staff.

The incident comes after a recent suspension of joint Indonesia-Australia military operations due to the discovery of offensive teaching materials at an Australian military academy, which mocked Indonesia's state ideology and suggested support for Papuan independence. Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne has promised to dump the training materials.

The Papuan independence movement's efforts to seek legitimacy through the Melanesian Spearhead Group are reaching a dead end, as talks about its full membership in the forum have fizzled out.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesian-consulate-trespassers-are-frustrated-supporters-of-papuan-separatist-group/

Raising Free Papua Movement flag is a crime: House

Antara News - January 8, 2017

Jakarta – The hoisting of a separatist Free Papua Movement flag at the Indonesian Consulate General in Melbourne on Friday was a crime that had to be investigated by the Australian police.

"The raising of the Free Papuan flag at the Indonesian Consulate General in Melbourne is a crime. The Australian police have to arrest them," Charles of Commission I of the House of Representatives (DPR) said here on Sunday.

Charles said that the Australian police should investigate the intruders who entered illegally the Indonesian Consulate General and flew the Papuan flag.

He said a diplomatic representative covers an extraterritorial region which is part of the sovereignty of the country it is representing.

Therefore, he said, the Indonesian Consulate General in Melbourne is classified as Indonesia's sovereign region which should be protected and based on the international law.

"Therefore, as a host country, the Australian government has the obligation to protect all Indonesian diplomatic properties," the lawmaker said.

He said Australia is an important trade partner of Indonesia, notably in the trade, tourism and the fight against terrorism. Therefore, all sides must maintain the nation's sovereignty, self-dignity and respect for the interest of the nation.

"I see there is an attempt to provoke the Indonesia-Australia relation in the run up to the visit of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to Australia," he said.

Charles said that Australia must show its seriousness to process the crime because it has the potential to disturb the relations between Indonesia and Australia.

The Indonesian government has earlier strongly criticized the criminal act done by separatist Free Papua Movement members who intruded into the premise of the Indonesian Consulate General and flew the separatist movements flag on Friday (Jan.6).

Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Arrmanatha Nasir, through a press statement here on Saturday, said the government had sent a protest to the Australian government, and demanded that the perpetrators be arrested and punished strictly according to law.(*)

Source: http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/108821/raising-free-papua-movement-flag-is-a-crime-house

Indonesia condemns Papuan flag incident in Melbourne

Jakarta Post - January 7, 2017

Tama Salim, Jakarta – Indonesia has condemned the flying of a Papuan Morning Star flag on the premises of an Indonesian mission in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir called for the immediate arrest of the people responsible for what he called a "criminal act" that must be punished in accordance with the law.

"The Indonesian government has conveyed protest to the Australian government and urged for the perpetrators to be strictly dealt with," Arrmanatha told The Jakarta Post late on Friday.

The Morning Star, a symbol of the Papuan independence movement, was hoisted by a Caucasian suspect who, according to the ministry spokesman, broke into the Indonesian mission by scaling a wall "more than 2.5 meters-high" from an adjoining apartment building complex.

Another person recorded the incident from outside the gate of the Indonesian office building. The action was carried out at 12:52 p.m. local time, when most Indonesian staffers were away for Friday prayers. Australian authorities are currently looking into the matter.

The government also reminded Australia that it was responsible for the protection of every diplomatic and consular mission within its borders, in accordance with the 1961 and 1963 Vienna Conventions.

"It is in this regard that the Indonesian government demands Australia to ensure and increase the protection of all Indonesian diplomatic and consular properties [in the country]," Arrmanatha said.

The incident comes off the back of a fresh spat between the two neighboring countries, precipitated by the discovery of offensive teaching materials at an Australian military academy which, among other things, mocked Indonesia's state ideology, Pancasila, and suggested support for Papuan independence.

As a result, Indonesia froze its defense cooperation with Australia as the latter's top brass scrambled to rectify the problem.

The Papuan independence movement recently met a dead end in its efforts to seek legitimacy through the Melanesian Spearhead Group, as talks about its bid for full membership in the diaspora-based forum floundered. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/07/indonesia-condemns-papuan-flag-incident-in-melbourne.html

West Papuan activist calls on Australia to stand up to 'hyper sensitive'

SBS News - January 6, 2017

Rachael Hocking – A West Papuan activist has described Indonesia as 'hyper-sensitive,' for its decision to suspend a language-training programme in Australia.

The Indonesian military suspended ties with their Australian counterparts for "technical reasons" after material on West Papua, where Indonesia has been accused of human rights abuses, was found by an Indonesian officer at an Australian Special Forces base in Perth late last year.

Speaking to NITV, activist Ronny Ato Bual Kareni said it's disappointing that the Indonesian government is censoring a 'human rights issue.'

"It's a shame that the Indonesian government through their military will have to do that, because we're living in the 21st century where it is vitally important that we care," he said.

"If we do care for the rights of human beings, then Indonesia would have played a more pro-active role in addressing this issue."

"Putting that in the training materials, it is very essential and I believe this would be something the Australian government will have to consider and implement and translate in their foreign policies."

According to Indonesia's Military Chief Gatot Nurmantyo the materials not only referenced West Papua, but also East Timor.

"The curriculum and lessons, have always been the same. It is hurting (our feelings), I don't want to elaborate further as the offending teaching materials have been in place for a long time," he told reporters.

Australia's army chief is reportedly being sent to Indonesia to apologise for the allegedly insulting documents, and deliver findings into his review of the incident.

Indonesia assumed control of West Papua after the Dutch colonial administration left in 1962. A previous agreement between the Netherlands Government and the United Nations to allow West Papua a vote on self-determination was reneged on. Indonesia has ruled the island since and has fought a lung running war against separatists who demand independence for the province.

Mr Kareni praised the Australian SAS for including the materials in their curriculum, but called for a more 'moral stance' from the Australian government.

"It is important that the Australian government plays this role in advocating and also continuing with Indonesia through this training. It is important to highlight the human rights issues," Mr Kareni said.

Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said yesterday the Australian military was investigating the training materials and working to restore the relationship with Indonesia.

"The issue of West Papua was raised by the Indonesian Defence Minister, yes. I think he indicated that in his post-meeting comments," she told reporters.

"We of course, in accord with the Lombok Treaty, which is the treaty between Australia and Indonesia, recognise Indonesia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and that is our firm and stated position."

Mr Kareni said if Australia is going to conduct an investigation, they should also conduct one into Indonesia's human rights violations.

"Every day we hear killings, there is bloodshed, massacres that is happening, but none of those massacres have real independent investigations into them," he said.

Indonesia last suspended military ties with Australia in 2013 over revelations that Australian spies had tapped the mobile telephone of then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Source: http://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/nitv-news/article/2017/01/06/west-papuan-activist-calls-australia-stand-hyper-sensitive-indonesia

Military ties

A row over 'offensive' training materials that led to Jakarta briefly

South China Morning Post - January 8, 2017

John McBeth – It is turning out to be a storm in a smaller-than-usual teacup, but the latest spat between Jakarta and Canberra over what was perceived to be insulting content in military training materials underlines once again the sensitivities surrounding Indonesia's often brutal past.

It also speaks to the current state of Jakarta's domestic politics, with government sources revealing that President Joko Widodo didn't know armed forces chief General Gatot Nurmantyo had suspended all military cooperation with Australia over the issue.

Indeed, the sources say he only woke up to what was happening when his close adviser, chief maritime minister and retired special forces general Luhut Panjaitan, received a call last month from an Australian friend asking what more could be done beyond an apology and an investigation.

As the episode broke in the media this week, political coordinating minister Wiranto, a one-time military commander himself, issued a hasty statement saying only language classes had been suspended, not the entire military relationship.

Widodo also sought to play down the fallout, saying relations remained in good shape. So did normally hard-nosed Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu in a January 5 phone conversation with his Australian counterpart, Marise Payne. Payne has said the Australian military must produce "culturally appropriate" training material, which apparently means avoiding any reference to East Timor and Papua where Indonesia has a checkered past.

The original complaint came from a special forces (Kopassus) language instructor and went up the chain of command to Nurmantyo, an ultra-nationalist with ambitions to run in the 2019 presidential elections.

The armed forces chief is already in Widodo's bad books for his alleged links with some of the Muslim groups that took part in the recent mass demonstrations against Jakarta Governor Basuki Purnama, who is currently on trial for blasphemy. The protests have rattled Widodo because at one point it appeared they were also directed at weakening him now Indonesia is only two years out from its next presidential election when he is expected to seek a second term.

Nurmantyo has often caused a stir with his wild conspiracy theories, expressed in public speeches and in social media, about how foreigners are engaged in a proxy war to undermine and take over Indonesia.

Last November, he claimed in a filmed lecture that Australia was trying to recruit young Indonesian officers, undergoing advanced training at various bases across the country, to be either spies or agents of influence.

Conservative elements in the Indonesian Armed Forces have always been suspicious of foreign-trained officers, seeing them as being too favourably disposed towards Western views and attitudes.

Nurmantyo's predecessor, General Moeldoko, had similar presidential ambitions, but he quickly disappeared after retiring in July 2015. Observers believe the same future awaits Nurmantyo, who is unlikely to find a political party to support him.

What offended the complainant, a Kopassus lieutenant, was the use of what he considered to be a derogatory Wikipedia biography of the late Sarwo Edhie Wibowo, former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's father-in-law.

The legendary special forces general, whose own son also later commanded the elite regiment, led the purge against the Communist Party of Indonesia in the mid-1960s which claimed the lives of an estimated 500,000 people. He also oversaw the so-called Act of Free Choice, a United Nations-sanctioned referendum – albeit involving only 1,025 Papuan leaders – under which the former Dutch-controlled territory reverted to Indonesian rule in 1969.

Suspicious of the popular Wibowo as a potential rival for power, Suharto shuffled him off as ambassador to South Korea in 1973. He served there for five years, before returning to fill a variety of backwater posts until his death in 1989 at the age of 64.

The Wibowo biography was not the only source of the lieutenant's wrath. He was also upset over a poster on a wall at the Australian Special Air Service's Perth headquarters, which ridiculed Pancasila, the ideology that defines Indonesia as a secular state. The offending poster instead referred to it as Pancagila, the last five letters making the Indonesian word for 'crazy', and replaced the five principles of Pancasila with snide references to corruption.

Pancasila made up a big chunk of military instruction during the 32-year rule of President Suharto, something that always bemused foreign officers attending courses at Indonesia's Army Command and Staff School. One of those officers has a much different view now. "What I saw only partially then, but understood later, was without Pancasila, Indonesia will revert to religion or ethnicity and that means a civil war worse than Aleppo [Syria]," he says.

Pancasila is nowhere near as prominent in Indonesian education as it once was, but Widodo and other political and moderate religious leaders want to change that as they come under mounting pressure from hard-line Muslim groups seeking to turn the country into a Sharia state.

It is ironic then that Pancasila has more relevance in unifying today's democratic Indonesia than it did under Suharto, the authoritarian who used it as an instrument of power to keep a firm lid on Islamic activism. In that, the Australians would have been well advised to remove the offensive poster – rather than have an overzealous lieutenant turn it into a diplomatic incident.

[John McBeth is the author of The Loner: President Yudhoyono's Decade of Trial and Indecision.]

Source: http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/2060039/how-australian-sas-raised-ghosts-indonesias-brutal-past

Internal cable suggests Indonesia never intended to fully suspend

Sydney Morning Herald - January 6, 2017

Jewel Topsfield, Jakarta – An internal Indonesian military cable issued last month states the suspension of co-operation between the Australian and Indonesian military only affected activities under one sub-committee, suggesting Indonesia never intended to completely suspend military ties.

The December 29 cable, seen by Fairfax Media, was sent on behalf of military chief Gatot Nurmantyo, and said activities under the joint operation and exercise sub committee were being halted.

There are four sub-committees under the Australia Indonesia High Level Committee, which brings together the chiefs of both Australia and Indonesia's defence forces and convened for the first time in April 2013. Other sub-committees include intelligence and logistics.

Indonesian military spokesman Major-General Wuryanto confirmed to Fairfax Media that navy joint patrols and co-operation between the two countries to combat people smuggling had never been affected by the suspension.

For a dramatic two days it appeared Australia and Indonesia were facing another bilateral crisis after Indonesian newspaper Kompas broke the story that an Indonesian officer had complained about material taught at Campbell Barracks, an Australian army base in Perth.

The material related to sensitive issues including East Timor, West Papuan independence and Indonesia's state ideology, Pancasila.

After multiple and perplexing statements from the government and military that seemed to indicate a suspension of all defence ties, chief security minister Wiranto finally issued a statement on Thursday evening saying that only activities involving language training in a special unit in Australia had been suspended.

"This does not mean the termination of defence co-operation as a whole, as has been reported in the media lately," he said.

Defence analyst Evan Laksmana from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Indonesia said it was wrong to suggest Indonesia wanted a blanket ban on defence co-operation with Australia and was now backing down.

"I have seen the letter from our side of things in which from the beginning it was always limited," he said.

"I think there was confusion because there was at least 24 hours before there was clarification from the parties concerned about the extent to which there is a freeze. I don't think it is true at all that... we wanted a blanket freeze and now we are backing down."

Mr Laksmana also said there was no solid evidence that this was an individual attempt by General Nurmantyo to suspend military co-operation because he didn't like Australia. "I think we need to be very careful with assigning personal motives to Gatot as to the reason behind the suspension," he said.

The executive director of the Institute for Defence, Security and Peace Studies in Indonesia, Mufti Makarim, said the internal cable, which was sent to the Indonesian infantry, navy and air force chiefs, only mentioned military co-operation under the joint exercise and operations subcommittee.

"It was not a postponement of all military cooperation between Indonesia and Australia," he said.

Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne issued a carefully worded statement on Wednesday saying that "some interaction between the two defence organisations had been postponed" until the concerns raised by the Indonesian officer were resolved. "Co-operation in other areas is continuing," she said in the statement.

President Joko Widodo appeared to confirm the diplomatic rift the following day saying that while it was an operational issue it was a matter of principle and Australia and Indonesia had agreed to stay out of each other's internal affairs.

However his chief security minister later released the statement saying the suspension only affected the language training program and the problem would not interfere with bilateral relations. President Jokowi's press office later tweeted Mr Wiranto's statement with the comment: "Clear and direct"

Indonesian defence expert Natalie Sambhi, a research fellow at the Perth USAsia Centre, believed some element of the suspension was certainly meant to be a reprimand to Australia because of the sensitivity of West Papua.

"I'm curious about why the messaging out of Indonesia was so messy, not only between the agencies but also between Gatot's office and the navy," she said. "It suggests to me that this was always intended to be limited, in hindsight, now we think about it."

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/internal-cable-suggests-indonesia-never-intended-to-fully-suspend-military-ties-20170106-gtn834.html

'Alarming' Indonesia military questioned military ties, experts say

Australian Financial Review - January 6, 2017

Any further political rise of the head of Indonesia's armed forces, General Gatot Nurmantyo, could be a threat to Australia's vital military relationship with Indonesia, Australian Strategic Policy Institute head Peter Jennings said, adding he thought it was 'alarming' that the General appeared to be questioning the ties.

After General Gatot announced on Wednesday all military co-operation between the two countries was affected, Indonesia softened its stance on Thursday night when a senior minister said the ban only applied to the special forces classes which sparked the diplomatic row.

Australian National University Indonesian Politics Associate Professor Greg Fealy said this would have come straight from Indonesia's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and constituted "a complete back down".

Jokowi is just being a bit delicate about it but the intent of what he did was unmistakeable. He said that yes Indonesians must not be insulted by other countries, but nonetheless he instructed his coordinating minister to go and make a very clear cut public statement that the disruption was just restricted to language training. We saw the president put back in his place the head of the armed forces," he said.

Mr Jennings, a former Deputy Secretary in Defence, said while the current spat is unlikely to have a major long term impact on relations, it was alarming that they looked so fragile and General Gatot appeared to question the worth of the ties.

"It has always, certainly in the last 10 years, it has been the defence relationship that has been the stable element of bilateral relationship even when there has been problems at the political level.

"So what's been alarming about this incident is what used to be considered to the the sort of pillar of stability in relations which was the mil to mil contact seems to be now questioned by this individual," he said.

Mr Jennings said it would be damaging if General Gatot succeeded in any political ambitions he might have.

"If that is where he's heading then maybe that is going to complicate the defence relationship but it sounds to me like it would also complicate their relationship with the US and China," he said.

General Gatot said on Thursday that the reason he made the decision to suspend military co-operation was there were "hurtful" teaching materials saying that West Papua, which Australia recognises as part of Indonesia, should be independent and other materials mocking Indonesia's founding principles, the Pancasila.

While Defence Minister Marise Payne refused to confirm what the materials contained, she said they were removed and suggested they were not "culturally appropriate.

Now, Greens leader Richard Di Natale slammed Senator Payne over the decision, saying if they were about West Papua then Australia had "betrayed" residents of the region which Australia officially recognises as part of Indonesia under the Lombok treaty.

"The government had the opportunity to show some integrity and stand up for the human rights of the West Papuan people but instead they betrayed them. Rather than rewriting our military training manuals we should be rewriting our policy to help end one of the longest-standing human rights crises in our region," Mr Di Natale said.

Indonesian media has reported that Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said the headmaster of the language school at the SAS base at Campbell Barracks has been suspended.

But the Defence department said this was not so. "No, the principal has not been stood down. As Minister Payne has noted, the Army inquiry into the matter is not yet finalised," a spokesman for Defence said.

Indonesia's special forces had been participating in language courses at the Australian special forces base at Campbell barracks in Perth.

Source: http://www.afr.com/news/alarming-indonesia-military-questioned-military-ties-experts-say-20170106-gtnaqx

Misspelling of 'Pancasila' not Australia's official stance: Defense

Jakarta Globe - January 5, 2017

Robertus Wardi & Eko Prasetyo, Jakarta – Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said a misspelling of Pancasila, the name for Indonesia's state ideology, was not the official stance of the Australian government and that it was the personal action of an individual officer.

Ryamizard said this includes an insult against Indonesia with the mention of controversial issues surrounding Papua, Timor-Leste and the former Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

"In principle, it is not their [Australia's] policy. It was a personal act. They regret what happened and have acted firmly against the perpetrator," Ryamizard said in Jakarta on Thursday (05/01).

The Australian government has sacked the officer responsible from his position as principal of a military academy and launched an investigation into the incident. "They [Australia] have apologized and sacked the principal of the institution," Ryamizard said.

The incident occurred when a language instructor from the Indonesian Army's Special Forces Command (Kopassus) received learning material that contained references deemed offensive to the country, such as a misspelling of Pancasila as "Pancagila," which can be translated as "crazy five."

The materials were identified during a joint training session at an Australian military base in Perth.

Separately, Indonesian Military chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo has confirmed that he had received a letter of apology from the Australian Defense Force, sent by Australian Air Force chief of staff Air Marshall Mark Binskin.

"I am a friend of Air Marshall Mark Binskin. I have replied to his letter thanking him for the apology. We have suspended the joint training, as discussions will continue after the investigation ends," Gatot said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/misspelling-pancasila-not-australias-official-stance-defense-minister-ryamizard/

Defence Minister Marise Payne denies Australia 'recruits' Indonesian

Sydney Morning Herald - January 5, 2017

Tom McIlroy, Fergus Hunter – Defence Minister Marise Payne has been forced to deny Australia has recruited Indonesian military officers as spies or agents of influence while defending the government's handling of a suspension of military ties between the countries.

The shock announcement that defence co-operation was suspended after an Indonesian military officer was offended by material at an Australian military base in Perth has also seen claims from the country's military chief General Gatot Nurmantyo that Australia sought to "recruit" Indonesia's best and brightest as sources.

The allegation, raised in a speech in November, came amid anger at material understood to include documents suggesting West Papua was part of Melanesia and should be given independence and ridiculing Indonesia's national ideology, Pancasila.

Speaking on ABC radio on Thursday, Senator Payne said Indonesia had not taken part in some planned events because of the dispute but negotiations about the country's involvement in a multilateral military exercise planned for next month were ongoing.

Senator Payne said she had only written to her Indonesian counterpart about the dispute for the first time this week despite becoming aware of the concerns in November. She said an Australian Defence inquiry into the offensive material, under way since late November, was "close to finalisation".

Australia had not attempted to influence or recruit Indonesian officers for spying or intelligence activities, Senator Payne said. "That is not the case and it is something which we would not countenance, of course," she said.

Senator Payne said the incident was "clearly a matter of significant concern" that Australia took seriously and suggested that the government had apologised. "We have indicated our regret that this occurred and that offence was taken," she said in a press conference on Thursday.

Fairfax Media understands that neither Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull or Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have contacted their Indonesian counterparts on the issue and are leaving the matter to Senator Payne to manage.

Senator Payne has refused to provide details on the offensive material in question – which has been removed – and, after Indonesia raised concerns about West Papua, reiterated that Australia adheres to the Lombok treaty, recognising "Indonesia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and that is our firm and stated position".

She said: "The investigation requires an examination of materials, requires interviews with the Australians involved and requires an opportunity for the Indonesian officer to comment. These things need to be done appropriately and fairly. They take time but it is close to finalisation."

In a speech in November, reported by the ABC, General Nurmantyo said military officers would be "recruited" by Australia.

"Every time there is a training program, like recently, the best five or 10 students would be sent to Australia. That happened before I was chief so I let that happen," he said.

"Once I became chief commander of the national forces, it did not happen again. They will certainly be recruited. They will certainly be recruited."

Despite General Nurmantyo's apparent hostility towards co-operation with Australia, Senator Payne said the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, maintains a "very constructive" relationship with his counterpart. "I have a great deal of respect for the General and the way he works with his military," she said.

Senator Payne said Australia's military service heads had been dealing with their counterparts and progress had been made to resolve the dispute, while work on a range of matters including turning back asylum seeker boats and anti-terrorism measures had not been compromised.

"We have no indication of any change [in regard to people smuggling operations] and I don't expect there to be," she said.

Senator Payne said she hoped for a speedy resolution. "I would hope that, at the conclusion of the inquiry, we are able to indicate to Indonesia the steps that have been taken in Australia to address these concerns," she said. "We'll be able to discuss resuming the relationship across the board then."

Senator Payne would not say if the Australian responsible for the materials which caused offence had been disciplined in any way. "I am not going to comment on the ongoing activities of the inquiry at this stage, not until after it is finalised," she said

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/defence-minister-marise-payne-denies-australia-recruits-indonesian-soldiers-as-spies-20170105-gtm4cr.html

'A matter of principle': Indonesian President Jokowi comments on

Sydney Morning Herald - January 5, 2017

Jewel Topsfield – Indonesian President Joko Widodo says his country and Australia have agreed to stay out of each other's internal affairs.

His comments came as Indonesia's military chief described the curriculum taught at a Perth army base as "too painful to explain", adding that it discredited Indonesia's military, its people and even its ideology.

President Jokowi, as he is popularly known, said the decision to halt defence co-operation had been conveyed to him and he ordered that it be handled by Commander-in-Chief General Gatot Nurmantyo and Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu.

"Indonesia and Australia agreed to mutually respect and appreciate each other and not to get involved in each other's internal affairs," he said. "I believe we agreed to that."

President Jokowi said the relationship between the two countries was still in good condition: "Only maybe at the operational level this is what needs to be conveyed for the situation not to heat up."

Asked how long the suspension would last, he said: "This matter needs to be cleared up first because even though it is at the operational level it is a matter of principle."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull welcomed the President's remarks in a statement issued on Thursday night.

"The President and I share a firm commitment to continue to build on the close relationship between our countries, based on common interests and mutual respect," Mr Turnbull said in the statement.

"I acknowledge and value President Widodo's commitment to the strategic partnership between our two countries and value our personal friendship."

A press statement issued by chief security minister Wiranto said the postponement of defence cooperation related to the Special Forces Australia language training program only. "Military ties have not been completely severed as reported by many media outlets," he said.

"It is temporary in nature. It will resume once Australia has taken steps to finalize the case. This matter will not disrupt the bilateral relations between two countries that has been going well."

"With this explanation hopefully will be no more reporting that causes confusions and disrupts the bilateral relationships between the two countries."

At a news conference explaining Indonesia's decision to put defence co-operation between the two countries on ice, General Gatot said what was taught was "unethical" for a friendly country. "It is too painful to explain so I won't explain," General Gatot said.

General Gatot said every soldier was taught to love their country's ideology so they were ready to sacrifice their lives when they faced the enemy.

He was upset over teaching on topics such as past Indonesian soldiers, East Timor, that West Papua should be independent and "Pancagila", a spoof of the state ideology of Pancasila which suggests its five principles are crazy. "That's not right. Because of that I pulled back the teacher and I suspended it," General Gatot said.

He said Chief of the Australian Defence Force, Mark Binskin, was his "good friend", and had written a letter of apology and said he would fix the curriculum.

Air Chief Marshal Binskin told him he would investigate, send the Australian Army chief to Indonesia and extended the apology to General Gatot and the Indonesian Army Chief.

"Since he is my best friend, I also sent him a letter. I thanked him for the apology and we suspended the program and there will be a conversation after the investigation is complete," General Gatot said.

Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said an Australian Defence inquiry into the offensive material, under way since late November, was "close to finalisation".

Senator Payne said Indonesia had not taken part in some planned events because of the dispute but negotiations about the country's involvement in a multilateral military exercise planned for next month were ongoing.

She had only written to her Indonesian counterpart about the dispute for the first time this week despite becoming aware of the concerns in November. The Indonesian military confirmed to Fairfax Media that joint navy patrols would continue.

In a speech last month, Commander Gatot also said when he became Commander-in-Chief he put a stop to Indonesia sending top-ranked army officers to Australia to study, to prevent Australia from "recruiting" them.

He also raised concerns about the US Marines that rotate through Darwin, pointing out the close proximity to West Papua and Indonesia's giant Masela gas block.

General Gatot said there were 1500 US Marines in Darwin, which would soon increase to 2500. "I, as TNI (Indonesian military), have to wonder what it's all about," Commander Gatot said. "Why not in the Philippines? They have a base there. No problems, but it's Darwin," he said in the speech which has been posted on YouTube.

In 2011 Indonesia sought an urgent explanation from then Prime Minister Julia Gillard about plans to station US Marines in Darwin, questioning the need for a military build-up on the country's doorstep.

Indonesia has long been suspicious of Australia having hidden motives towards West Papua after its intervention in East Timor, despite it formally recognising Indonesia's sovereignty over the province in the 2006 Lombok Treaty.

Senator Payne denied Australia had recruited Indonesian military officers as spies or agents of influence. She said the US Marine rotation had been under way for some years.

"I have in fact discussed the Marine rotation with my counterpart in a number of meetings in the past and have had no concerns raised with me," she said. "Let's be clear... it's not a new occurrence and it is something which has been very important in the region."

[With Amilia Rosa and Karuni Rompies.]

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/a-matter-of-principle-indonesian-president-jokowi-comments-on-diplomatic-rift-with-australia-20170105-gtmm8w.html

Why Indonesian general Gatot Nurmantyo halted military ties with

Sydney Morning Herald - January 5, 2017

Jewel Topsfield – Indonesia's hardline military chief Gatot Nurmantyo has little love for Australia.

In March 2015, when he was army chief of staff, General Gatot said that efforts for East Timor to secede from Indonesia were a proxy war on the part of Australia to secure the oil field in the Timor Gap. (A proxy war is a conflict between two powers in which neither engages the other directly.)

Hints of the lead-up to Indonesia's dramatic decision to suspend military ties with Australia can be found in General Gatot's public lectures over the past two months, posted on YouTube.

He said he pulled a special forces officer from Indonesia, who was teaching at an army base in Perth, after the officer was offended by a homework assignment that said Papua should have independence because it was part of Melanesia. "Their [Australian] commander apologised to me," General Gatot said. His remarks were greeted with applause.

He was also suspicious of the circulation of US marines through Darwin, now under way for two years, pointing out that it was close to Papua and Indonesia's giant Masela gas block. And he said he had put a stop to Australia recruiting Indonesia's top-ranked army officers.

But his unilateral decision to halt military ties with Australia (a presidential spokesman said the decision had been not made by President Joko Widodo) caught many off guard.

Even Indonesia's Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, also a hardline ex-general, who reportedly said last year that communists killed in the 1960s purge "deserved to die", seemed at pains to smooth over the latest diplomatic rift.

He stressed the relationship with Australia was "fine" and pointed out that the Australian lieutenant who had caused the offence had already been reprimanded. "Don't let insignificant rats disrupt the relationship between countries. That's not good," he said.

There is understood to be a turf war within government circles, given that decisions on breaking off military co-operation would normally be the purview of the defence or foreign affairs minister.

Australia's Defence Minister Marise Payne was also caught on the hop, despite the suspension coming into effect last month, taking hours to issue a statement on Wednesday.

"Gatot jumped the gun. It was supposed to be dealt with quietly," a source told Fairfax Media. "Gatot has an ambition of becoming president or vice-president," the source said. "And at the same time a lot of people in the military are unhappy with him. This is a good way for him to burnish his nationalism credentials."

Security expert Damien Kingsbury, a professor of international politics at Deakin University, said that, while General Gatot had a history of hostility towards Australia's strategic position, the fact he had unilaterally made the decision to suspend ties without reference to the President was "pretty extraordinary" in bilateral relations.

"It's very strange stuff," Dr Kingsbury said. "He will have known exactly what the implications of this are in terms of its impact on the bilateral relationship."

Dr Kingsbury said the training materials used at the Perth base were not new and Kopassus special forces officers rotate through training on a regular basis, so presumably many would have seen these materials previously.

"So this raises a question of what Gatot is actually on about – whether it's really about a particular offence being caused or whether there is some other game being played."

The associate editor of The Diplomat, a current affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific, Prahanth Parameswaran, said Australian officials were surprised the concerns over the allegedly offensive material had been made public, given both sides had committed to investigating and resolving it.

"Gatot has a deeply held and well-known suspicion of foreign powers, and Australia in particular," he said. "My own take is that, given his views, he saw an opportunity with this incident to play up the challenges in a relationship he is already deeply suspicious of."

President Jokowi, as he is popularly known, is yet to comment on the latest diplomatic spat to beleaguer the bilateral relationship.

However, he is struggling to deal with the fallout from incendiary allegations that Jakarta's Christian governor insulted Islam, which has sparked colossal rallies in the streets of the capital, and the last thing the President would want to have to deal with now is a tiff with Australia.

Many insiders believe it is all a storm in a teacup. It is highly likely the storm will blow over – especially if Australia makes some sort of statement of regret – and Australia and Indonesia's relationship, always tempestuous, will quickly return to an even keel.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/why-indonesian-general-gatot-nurmantyo-halted-military-ties-with-australia-20170105-gtmak3.html

Indonesia, Australia military co-operation on hold after training

Sydney Morning Herald - January 5, 2017

Jewel Topsfield, Fergus Hunter, Jakarta – Indonesia has suspended military co-operation with Australia following an incident at an Australian army training facility last year that caused Indonesian offence.

Defence Minister Marise Payne confirmed that the Indonesian government had raised concerns about some Australian "teaching materials and remarks" at the Perth base, which were reportedly witnessed by an Indonesian there for training.

"The Australian Army has looked into the serious concerns that were raised and the investigation into the incident is being finalised," Senator Payne said in a statement.

Indonesia's military spokesman Major-General Wuryanto told Fairfax Media that co-operation had been temporarily halted for "technical reasons" and that, while the teaching materials were a factor, "this is not the basic reason for the suspension".

"Indonesia and Australia will resolve this technical matter and then the co-operation will continue," he said.

Reuters reported a spokesman for Indonesian President Joko Widodo said there had been no discussion of the suspension with the president and the issue had been exaggerated. "This was not a decision of the president," it quoted spokesman Johan Budi as saying.

Indonesian news outlet Kompas reported the suspension was triggered when a Kopassus trainer, who was in Australia as an army Indonesian language lecturer, found teaching materials that were ridiculing the Indonesian military.

When he went to the head of the academy in Australia to complain, the trainer reportedly found other writing insulting the Indonesian state ideology of Pancasila.

Pancasila is the Indonesian state philosophy that lays out the nation's broad principles of religion, civilised humanity, social justice, democracy, and unity.

Senator Payne said the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, wrote last year to his Indonesian counterpart, Commander Gatot Nurmantyo, promising to address the matter.

"Indonesia has informed Australia that defence co-operation would be suspended. As a result, some interaction between the two Defence organisations has been postponed until the matter is resolved. Co-operation in other areas is continuing," she said.

A source told Fairfax Media that some of the offending materials, if true, appeared to be truly insulting while others seemed to be scholarly critical assessments of the Indonesian military's past behaviour in 1965 or the East Timor invasion.

The executive director of the Institute for Defence, Security and Peace Studies in Indonesia, Mufti Makarim, told Fairfax Media that after the trainer reported the offensive materials to his superiors when he returned to Indonesia, the military requested it be investigated.

Kompas reported that a cable instruction, dated December 29 from Commander Gatot Nurmantyo, instructed that all military co-operation, including training with the Australian Defence Force, be suspended.

Mr Mufti said that according to an unconfirmed notification on messenging app Whatsapp, believed to be circulated by the Indonesian military, the trainer's superior requested the investigation on December 9. He asked that joint training be suspended until the investigation was complete.

According to the Whatsapp circular, the Kopassus Indonesian language trainer heard offensive material in class including that the late Indonesian military leader Sarwo Edhie Wibowo was a mass murderer and that a TNI police officer murdered his friend while drunk.

He also reportedly saw a laminated piece of paper which said PANCAGILA, an offensive mockery of Indonesia's state ideology, Pancasila, which basically translates as "five crazy principles".

"After he returned to Indonesia, he immediately made a report," the Whatsapp circular says. "It is a fair request by the Indonesian military that an investigation be held," Mr Mufti told Fairfax Media.

"I believe, I hope, that this does not reflect the Australian attitude towards the Indonesian military and this just indicates a lack of oversight of teaching materials," he said.

On December 29, Tribun news reported that Commander Gatot Nurmantyo said a co-operation program in which an Indonesian language lecturer had been sent to Australia, ended with an apology from Australia. He reportedly said the Indonesian language teacher had been asked to give homework to his students that included Free Papua propaganda.

"That Papua is Melanesia, therefore it should be its own country. So I pulled (the teacher)," Commander Gatot reportedly said to applause from the audience.

Senator Payne said the government was working with Indonesia "to restore full co-operation as soon as possible" and that the broader bilateral relationship is in "very good shape with extensive co-operation across a wide range of government agencies".

Indonesian security analyst Yohanes Sulaiman said Indonesia valued its military links with Australia and had sought to rebuild the relationship after previous diplomatic rifts.

In 2013 Jakarta pulled the plug on all military co-operation in retaliation for the Abbott government's refusal to explain the phone tapping of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

In 2014 the countries struck a deal to resume military and intelligence co-operation. "I'm not sure this will mean a complete breakdown," Mr Sulaiman said.

Indonesian Defence analyst Natalie Sambhi said the Indonesian military was treating this as a serious issue. "The Australian and Indonesian militaries have had a long yet complicated history of co-operation and tension over the decades," she said.

"The current TNI (Indonesian military) chief, General Gatot Nurmantyo, has been critical of Australia during his tenure which appears to stem from sensitivities related to our role in East Timor. While this sentiment exists elsewhere in TNI leadership and has to be understood against the context of the military's experiences in the province, it is not the sole factor for Nurmantyo's decision, but could be a factor in the option to suspend ties as a stronger political statement."

She said Australian Defence Force and TNI (Indonesian military) ties comprised a complex web of bilateral and multilateral training exercises, education exchanges in both Australia and in Indonesia, dialogues and discussions, as well as operational co-operation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, including the search for MH370.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/indonesia-australia-military-cooperation-on-hold-after-training-materials-cause-offence-20170104-gtltai.html

Indonesia and Australia scramble to play down defence rift over 'insult'

The Guardian (Australia) - January 5, 2017

Gareth Hutchens and Ben Doherty – The Australian and Indonesian governments have scrambled to play down Indonesia's unilateral and sudden suspension of military cooperation, with defence ministers from both countries insisting the relationship is strong.

The Indonesian military – apparently without consulting the civilian government – moved to suspend all military cooperation after a special forces commander was offended by material he saw at a Perth military base which insulted Indonesia's founding ideology and promoted independence for the Indonesian province West Papua.

Australia's defence minister, Marise Payne, has insisted the broader relationship remained healthy and that she expected to be able to resume full cooperation with Indonesia's TNI.

"The Australian army has looked into the serious concerns that were raised and the investigation into the incident is being finalised," she said.

"Australia is committed to building a strong defence relationship with Indonesia, including through cooperation in training. We will work with Indonesia to restore full cooperation as soon as possible."

She said on ABC radio the rift had not threatened Indonesia's cooperation with Australia's policy of turning back asylum seeker boats.

Payne conceded her first attempt to contact Indonesia's defence minister about the suspension of military ties was not made until this week, despite knowing about the dispute in November.

Indonesia's defence minister, Ryamizard Ryacudu, also played down the suspension saying the broader relationship with Australia was "fine" and that Indonesia "should not overreact".

The suspension was a military, not a political, decision, he said, and the officer who initially raised the concerns had been reprimanded.

"It was all the doings of some lieutenants," he said. "They have been reprimanded and punished. Don't let actions of some low-ranking officers affect relations of two countries. That's not good."

A spokesman for the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, said: "This was not a decision of the president."

Ryacudu was quoted as using the Indonesian word "curut" to describe the officers, the literal translation for which is shrew or mouse, but which is used to disparage a subordinate as insignificant.

Indonesia's special forces group, Kopassus, trains with the Australia's Special Air Service troops at the SAS base at Campbell barracks in Perth, and Guardian Australia understands an instructor from Kopassus felt insulted by material on display at the training base in November.

It is believed the Kopassus officer was initially offended by propaganda material about West Papua, a province of Indonesia in which a long-running campaign for independence, and allegations of systemic human rights abuses by the military, are of extreme sensitivity. Senior former military leaders were also insulted as murderers and criminals.

The officer also reportedly saw a laminated piece of paper that ridiculed Indonesia's founding ideology "pancasila" – which translates as "five principles" – as "panca-gila". Gila, in Bahasa Indonesia, means crazy.

But broader issues within the Australia-Indonesia relationship have been brought into the open by the spat, with Australia also been forced to deny it has tried to recruit Indonesian military personnel as spies, despite claims by Indonesia's military chief, general Gatot Nurmantyo.

In a speech in November and revealed by the ABC this week, Nurmantyo claimed Australia had sought to recruit Indonesia's best and brightest as sources.

"Every time there is a training program – like recently – the best five or 10 students would be sent to Australia," he said, according to a translation of his speech.

"That happened before I was chief so I let that happen. Once I became chief commander of the national forces, it did not happen again... They will certainly be recruited, they will certainly be recruited."

Again, the contentious issue of West Papuan independence was raised as a major concern.

Payne denied Australia has tried to influence or recruit Indonesian officers for intelligence activities or spying: "That is not the case and it is something which we would not countenance, of course."

She told ABC radio she had communicated with Ryacudu on number of matters in December and the issue was not raised by him.

The Australian government is understood to have been surprised by the timing of the announcement of the military suspension, as it believed the issue was being managed and its investigation coming to a conclusion.

Indonesia and Australia's military relationship has improved in recent years, after an at-times troubled history.

The Lombok treaty commits both countries to cooperating in defence, combating transnational crime, counter-terrorism and intelligence-sharing. Australia has sold military hardware to Indonesia and defence and foreign ministers meet regularly.

But relations were shaken in 2013 – and military cooperation suspended – when it was revealed the Australian Signals Directorate attempted to monitor the phone calls of the then president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and senior officials.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jan/05/indonesian-and-australian-relationship-healthy-and-strong-say-leaders

What's included in Australia's formal co-operation agreements with

Sydney Morning Herald - January 5, 2017

Tom McIlroy – Australia's defence co-operation with Indonesia spans some of the most controversial issues in domestic and international politics today, including the fight against terrorism, refugee and asylum seeker movements, the South China Sea and cyber security challenges.

Indonesia's move to suspend all military co-operation with Australia is the latest in a series of disputes between the two neighbours and risks the careful progress talked up by the Turnbull government and President Joko Widodo's administration.

What is included in Australia's formal co-operation agreements with Indonesia?

The most recent 2+2 Dialogue with both countries' foreign and defence ministers in October 2016 highlighted a "comprehensive strategic partnership with the objective of ensuring economic development, prosperity, peace and security in the region."

As part of recent agreements, Australia has reiterated support for Indonesia's territorial integrity and sovereignty and agreed to work with Jakarta on maritime security, intelligence, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as well as capability development and procurement.

Indonesia has welcomed Australia's recent white paper on the development of northern Australia and agreed to increased defence industry and military modernisation co-operation to promote peace, stability and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

The two countries complete regular military training together, with joint exercises and exchanges. They co-operate directly on controversial anti-people smuggling operations and on anti-radialisation efforts such as trying to stop foreign fighters joining overseas conflicts, including with Islamist groups in the Middle East.

The first joint training exercise on Australian soil since 1995 took place in Darwin last year. It was considered a landmark event in the repair of the relationship since the East Timor crisis.

The two countries have acknowledged a common threat from terrorism and established links between law enforcement and national security agencies, immigration and customs bodies and cyber security experts.

In October Defence Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin hosted Indonesian National Armed Forces Commander, General Gatot Nurmantyo, in Canberra, as part of efforts to promote "mutual trust and cooperation".

On Thursday, Defence Minister Marise Payne said only some aspects of co-operation had been put on ice and negotiations about Indonesia's involvement in a multilateral military exercise planned for next month were ongoing.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/whats-included-in-australias-formal-cooperation-agreements-with-indonesia-20170105-gtmbea.html

Indonesia suspends military cooperation with Australia

The Guardian (Australia) - January 4, 2017

Ben Doherty – Indonesia has suspended all military cooperation with Australia, reportedly over offensive materials displayed at an Australian military base where its troops were training.

The offensive "laminated material" shown at a base was insulting towards Indonesia's five founding principles – Pancasila – Indonesian newspaper Kompas has reported. The Kompas report says a cable dated 29 December, sent by Indonesian military commander General Gatot Nurmantyo, instructed that all military cooperation, including training with the Australian defence force, be suspended.

The Indonesian military spokesman, Major General Wuryanto has confirmed the split, but would not specifically confirm the reason, saying cooperation between the Australian and Indonesian militaries had been suspended for "technical reasons", effective immediately. "All forms of cooperation have been suspended," he said.

But Wuryanto suggested the suspension would not be long term, saying cooperation could resume once the "technical matters" were resolved.

"There are technical matters that need to be discussed," Wuryanto said, including the offensive training material seen at an Australian military base. It was "highly likely" cooperation would resume once those issues were resolved, he said.

Kompas reported that an instructor from Indonesia's special forces group Kopassus felt insulted by material on display at a training base. The nature of the offensive material on display is not known but it is understood to have been demeaning towards the Indonesian military.

Kopassus has trained for several years with Australia's Special Air Service troops at the SAS base at Campbell barracks, Perth. No time limit has been put on the suspension, and it is unclear whether future planned joint training exercises between the two countries will be affected.

Australia's defence minister, Marise Payne, said the Australian military hoped to restore full cooperation with the Indonesian armed forces as soon as possible.

She confirmed that late last year an Indonesian officer had raised concerns "about some teaching materials and remarks at an army language training facility in Australia".

"The Australian Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, wrote to his Indonesian counterpart, General Gatot Nurmantyo, giving an undertaking that this matter would be addressed seriously and we would inquire into issues raised.

"The Australian Army has looked into the serious concerns that were raised and the investigation into the incident is being finalised."

Indonesia had informed Australia that defence cooperation would be suspended. As a result, some interaction between the two defence organisations had been postponed until the matter is resolved. Cooperation in other areas was continuing.

Payne said while some elements of joint training had been suspended, other areas of military cooperation had continued.

"Australia is committed to building a strong defence relationship with Indonesia, including through cooperation in training. We will work with Indonesia to restore full cooperation as soon as possible."

Indonesia and Australia's military relationship has improved in recent years, after an at-times troubled history.

The Lombok treaty commits both countries to cooperation in the fields of defence, combating transnational crime, counter-terrorism and intelligence-sharing. Australia has sold military hardware to Indonesia and defence and foreign ministers meet regularly.

But relations were shaken in 2013 when it was revealed the Australian Signals Directorate attempted to monitor the phone calls of then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and senior officials.

[News agencies contributed to this report.]

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jan/04/indonesia-suspends-military-cooperation-with-australia

Labour & migrant workers

Abuse of Indonesian female migrant workers still rampant in 2016

Jakarta Post - January 5, 2017

Hans Nicholas Jong, Jakarta – Human rights violations and violence against Indonesian female migrant workers are still rampant, with 66 cases recorded throughout 2016.

According to a report by Women's Solidarity for Human Rights, female migrant workers were abused physically and emotionally, targeted as criminals, subjected to human trafficking and murdered throughout the year.

The most reports the organization received in 2016 were related to unpaid wages (19 percent), followed by human trafficking (17 percent).

Female migrant workers, who usually work as domestic helpers, are vulnerable to exploitation and violence as the government has not acknowledged domestic work as a job, the organization says.

"Domestic helpers are not considered as workers. Therefore, their rights as workers continue to be violated and it's difficult for them to obtain justice," Women's Solidarity for Human Rights program coordinator Nisaa Yura said at the launch of the report on Thursday.

She said the government's avoidance of the problem was reflected in its 2017 zero domestic workers roadmap, which contains plans to stop sending domestic helpers to other countries beginning in 2017, as well as the government's decision in 2015 to stop sending domestic workers to Middle Eastern countries.

"The decision makes it even more difficult for women who are already trapped in poverty to find livelihoods," Nisaa said.

"Instead of protecting women, the government has produced policy that makes female migrant workers more vulnerable to human trafficking," Nisaa added. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/05/abuse-of-indonesian-female-migrant-workers-still-rampant-in-2016.html

Freedom of speech & expression

Arrest of Jokowi Undercover writer violates freedom of speech: Komnas

Jakarta Post - January 5, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The arrest of the author of the book Jokowi Undercover is a violation against freedom of speech that must not happen in the democratic era, a commissioner of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) says.

Komnas HAM Commissioner Natalius Pigai criticized the National Police, and thus the state, over abuse of power for restricting the right of Bambang Tri Mulyono to express his personal opinion in the book, which according to the police contains defamatory claims about President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

"The government should have taken progressive and professional efforts to clarify that the information provided in the book was untrue instead of being defensive and restricting the rights of the writer," Natalius said Thursday.

Natalius said he was aware of the sensitivity of the issue that Bambang discussed in his book against Jokowi as a symbol of the state and thus suggested the government to set up an independent team to officially investigate the roots of Jokowi's family for clarification.

He explained that the team should comprise scholars, historians, law enforcers and members of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the military's Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS) to collect facts and conduct a scientific investigation into Jokowi's identity.

"During the process, Jokowi must be treated equally like ordinary citizens who are allegedly defamed," Natalius emphasized.

The National Police have named Bambang a suspect for writing the book about Jokowi due to an alleged lack of valid data and references. The police will also pursue the masterminds behind the publication, believing that Bambang lacked the capability to compile the book on his own. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/05/arrest-ofjokowi-undercover-writer-violates-freedom-of-speech-komnas-ham.html

Police hunt mastermind behind 'Jokowi Undercover'

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said on Wednesday the police would pursue the masterminds behind the publication of the book Jokowi Undercover, which according to the police contains defamatory claims about President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

Tito further said the police had concluded that the author listed in the book, Bambang Tri Mulyono, who was in police custody, lacked the capability to compile a book on his own.

"We have examined him [Bambang]. He couldn't provide reliable data for claims made in the book. He also couldn't cite any references or sources [used to support information in the book]. Thus, it is obvious that the book was based on his personal opinion," Tito said on the sidelines of a ceremony at the National Police's headquarters in South Jakarta.

He further said the investigation had further found that the author had not attended university and had only graduated from senior high school.

"His writing skill is very poor. He lacks the capability to write a book. There is no way that he wrote the book. Thus, we will search for anyone who backed him. We will hunt down the mastermind," Tito said.

Claims are made in the book that Jokowi had falsified data to register as a presidential candidate in 2014. It also claims that Giriroto in Boyolali regency, Central Java, the town in which Jokowi's mother Sujiatmi Notomiatdjo was reportedly born, had been an Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) stronghold. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/04/police-say-mastermind-behind-jokowi-undercover.html

Police charge 'Jokowi Undercover' author with defamation

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The National Police have added more charges to the dossier of Bambang Tri Mulyono, the author of a book titled "Jokowi Undercover", who is now under investigation over alleged defamation and hate speech against President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

The National Police have named Bambang a suspect for writing the book about Jokowi, which the police have claimed "is not based on valid data and references". The police arrested and interrogated Bambang on Friday and he is now being detained at the Jakarta Police detention center.

National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said the police were now charging Bambang with violating Article 207 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) concerning defamation against the government and state institutions.

"[Bambang] has deliberately defamed the government and state institutions, and in this case, Jokowi, the President of the Republic of Indonesia, is the victim," Boy told a press conference.

Earlier, police investigators charged Bambang with hate speech, claiming that he had violated Article 28 of Law No. 11/2008 on electronic information and transactions (ITE) and Article 16 of Law No. 40/2008 on the elimination of racial and ethnic discrimination.

Bambang, a resident of Jambangan village, Blora, Central Java, wrote in his book that Jokowi and Vice President Jusuf Kalla were elected in 2014 because of the success of press institutions in fooling the public.

Bambang also said Jokowi had falsified data before registering as a presidential candidate. He also wrote that Giriroto in Boyolali regency, Central Java, was the basis of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), which was disbanded in 1966. Giriroto is the village where Jokowi's mother, Sujiatmi Notomiatdjo, was reportedly born.

In a separate occasion, Sujiatmi has strongly rejected all information written in the book, saying that the content is slanderous because it is not based on facts and truths, kompas.com has reported. "Let's just hope that he [Bambang] will be forgiven by God and will soon realize [his mistakes]," Sujiatmi said in Surakarta, Central Java. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/04/police-charge-jokowi-undercover-author-with-defamation.html

Political parties & elections

King of 'dangdut' promotes tolerant, peaceful Islam through politics

Jakarta Post - January 8, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The self-styled king of dangdut, Rhoma Irama, appeared on stage on Sunday to mark the very first national meeting of his new political party, the Peaceful and Benign Islam (Idaman) Party.

Rhoma, who established the party in 2015 and serves as its chairman, elaborated the Idaman Party's political vision and mission by singing five songs accompanied by his band, the Soneta Group.

Among the songs he sang were "Persatuan" (Unity), "250 Juta Jiwa" (250 Million Indonesian People) and "Adu Domba" (Playing One against Another). They tell about the need of everyone to maintain unity in diversity and to avoid provocations that might divide the nation.

Known as a singer who promotes moral values through his songs, such as "Begadang" (Stay Up All Night) and "Judi" (Gambling), Rhoma said the party would adopt the Indonesian ideology of Pancasila and promote Islamic values, namely tolerance and pluralism.

"Through these songs, I want to express that Idaman has a mission to show all people that Islam brings peace and tolerance, that Islam respects other religions and doesn't accept any acts of terrorism," he said.

Idaman obtained legal status as a political party on Dec. 13 last year after it previously failed to pass verification with the Law and Human Rights Ministry because it could not meet minimum requirements. Now legal, the party aims to be among the top five in the 2019 legislative elections, Rhoma said. However, Idaman must first get verification from the General Elections Commission (KPU) before it can compete in the campaign.

Idaman Party secretary-general Ramdansyah said he was confident it could achieve its high expectations because Rhoma and the dangdut-related characteristics of the party might attract voters.

"The public wants a well-known figure for politics. At the end, we should have a cultural approach. With Rhoma and dangdut we'll have our own characteristics in politics and attract people," Ramdansyah said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/08/king-of-dangdut-promotes-tolerant-peaceful-islam-through-politics.html

Gerindra may soon join ruling coalition

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Ina Parlina, Jakarta – Rumors of a possible Cabinet reshuffle intensified on Tuesday after the Gerindra Party, the largest opposition party, claimed to have been offered Cabinet posts by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

The State Palace has denied a Cabinet shake-up is imminent, but several political parties said they had received credible information that the President would dismiss some of his ministers for their meager performances and also consolidate power following two large rallies in Jakarta.

"Yes, [Jokowi] offered four posts. [I know] from someone in Jokowi's inner circle. Now all decisions lie in Pak Prabowo's hands," Gerindra deputy chairman Arief Poyuono told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday, referring to party chairman Prabowo Subianto, Jokowi's only rival in the 2014 presidential election.

The four posts are the presidential chief of staff, agriculture minister, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) minister and manpower minister. "[The reshuffle] could take place around Jan. 14 to 17, but this may change," Arief said.

Gerindra's claim has added weight to rumors that Jokowi may replace those currently leading the office and the three ministries.

It is unclear why Presidential Chief of Staff Teten Masduki is on the list of Cabinet members to be sacked. Teten, a noted antigraft activist, was part of Jokowi's inner circle during his presidential campaign, but it took nearly a year before he was granted a seat in the Cabinet.

SOEs Minister Rini Soemarno, another close confidant of Jokowi during the presidential campaign, is again standing on a shaky ground, with the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) increasing pressure on Jokowi to fire her amid strained relations with party matriarch Megawati Soekarnoputri. The party has long considered Rini as responsible for Jokowi's refusal to toe the party line.

The PDI-P said Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman should also be evaluated for he had no clear vision on how to boost agricultural productivity.

Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri, a National Awakening Party (PKB) politician, meanwhile, is in the spotlight for his failure to stem the tide of illegal foreign workers in the country.

President Jokowi may also reduce the number of Cabinet seats for the PKB for its alleged involvement in the large rallies against Jokowi's ally, Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purama. The President has insinuated the rallies were aimed at destabilizing the government.

Speculation is also rife that Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, a United Development Party (PPP) member, will also be sacked for failing to handle the anti-Ahok rallies.

Meanwhile, the PDI-P has also reportedly asked Jokowi to kick out Culture and Education Minister Muhadjir Effendy for his controversial policies, including his latest proposal to suspend the national exams.

Muhadjir is a member of Muhammadiyah, an influential Islamic organization that has been critical of Jokowi's administration. Muhammadiyah made an attempt to challenge Jokowi's tax amnesty at the Constitutional Court. The organization's youth wing was among the groups that reported Ahok to the police for alleged blasphemy.

Since taking office in 2014, Jokowi has reshuffled his Cabinet twice, with the latest carried out in July 2016 when he added new ministers from the Golkar Party and the National Mandate Party (PAN), two parties that were previously outside the government alongside Gerindra.

When asked about the Cabinet reshuffle, PDI-P executive Hendrawan Supratikno said, "Politics is full of surprises." "All parties [can] propose names, but that doesn't mean they can push [the President] for a reshuffle," he added.

The State Palace has played down the reshuffle rumors. "There is no reshuffle [yet] as revealed by the President while he was having lunch with chief editors of some media outlets," said presidential spokesman Johan Budi, who accompanied Jokowi in the closed-door lunch meeting at the State Palace on Tuesday.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/04/gerindra-may-soon-join-ruling-coalition.html

Public participation needed in selection of KPU, Bawaslu commissioners:

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2017

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – All segments of society should more actively participate in the assessment process of General Elections Commission (KPU) and Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) commissioner candidates, a watchdog coalition says.

To accommodate public participation, a coalition of several election watchdogs have launched an information center designated to gather information from the public regarding the track records of shortlisted candidates, who are currently being reviewed by a selection team formed by the Home Affairs Ministry.

"The selected commissioners will play an important role in ensuring the quality of upcoming simultaneous elections. Thus, input from the public on the candidates is needed," Association for Election and Democracy (Perludem) researcher Heroik Pratama said on Tuesday, referring to upcoming regional elections in February and the 2019 presidential and legislative elections.

Perludem is one of seven organizations, including Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) and the Peoples Voters Education Network (JPPR), in the coalition.

The selection team is currently reviewing 36 and 22 candidates to fill commissioner posts at the KPU and Bawaslu, respectively. The team is scheduled to submit the best 14 KPU and 10 Bawaslu commissioner candidates to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo by Jan. 25, before a screening process at the House of Representatives' Commission II, overseeing home affairs.

In the final screening, House members will select seven KPU and five Bawaslu commissioners. The list of candidates can be found at kemendagri.go.id, the ministry's official website. Meanwhile, ICW researcher Almas Sjafrina said the coalition needed information on candidates' track records, political affiliations and electoral expertise. The public can give input via email [email protected] or a text message to 087888562428 or 081318031759, she added.

Almas said information gathered would be later submitted to members of the selection team in the hope that it would enhance their judgment in selecting the candidates.

"We have deployed 30 people in 20 provinces to directly seek firsthand information about the candidates. Public participation is equally important so as to have more references and information," she said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/03/public-participation-needed-in-selection-of-kpu-bawaslu-commissioners-watchdogs.html

Donald Trump's Indonesian business partner considers running for

The Guardian (Australia) - January 2, 2017

Oliver Holmes, Bangkok – Donald Trump's Indonesian business partner, a billionaire developer and media mogul, has announced he might run for president in Indonesia's 2019 elections.

"If there is no one I can believe who can fix the problems of the country, I may try to run for president," Hary Tanoesoedibjo told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"Not for myself, for the country," he said, adding that the nation of about 260 million people needs "a leader with integrity who can bring a solution for the country".

Known locally as Hary Tanoe, the tycoon is building two Trump developments – a 100-hectare, six-star luxury resort on the coast of Bali and a resort outside Jakarta with a championship golf course designed by former world No 1 Ernie Els. The resort will have 300 villas and adjoin a theme park. Both projects are due to be completed while Trump is in office.

Unlike Trump before his presidential run, the 50-year-old has already delved deeply into politics. Tanoe made a failed attempt in 2014 to get the nomination for vice-president and has since set up his own political party, United Indonesia, using Twitter and appearances on his TV stations as a platform.

His company, Global Mediacom, also known as MNC Group, saw stocks rise significantly when Trump won the election in November.

Tanoe said he has "access" to Trump although it was limited and most of his contact regarding the joint developments was with the president-elect's adult children; Donald Jr, Eric and Ivanka. "Each of them has different roles. Don Jr has responsibility for the overall project, Eric the design and golf, and Ivanka more of detail – the fit-out of the hotel," he said.

Vast foreign business interests held by an incoming president have been flagged as a potential conflict of interests, especially if the ventures are linked to businesspeople with aspirations for power.

In Indonesia's last election, Tanoe threw his support behind former general Prabowo Subianto, who went on to lose to Joko Widodo, meaning Trump's biggest financial stake in Indonesia is run by a political adversary to the country's leader.

And Tanoe has already arranged for two controversial Indonesian politicians to meet Trump. The first was Setya Novanto, the speaker of the House of Representatives who was at the centre of a $US4bn corruption scandal in Indonesia. He denies all allegations.

The second was Fadli Zon, the deputy speaker, who is close to Indonesian religious hardliners who have been pushing for Jakarta's governor to be jailed for blasphemy.

Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known by his nickname Ahok, is fighting a racially charged attempt to prevent him from winning a second term next month by Islamists who are against a Christian Indonesian of Chinese heritage being in power.

But Tanoe, also a Chinese Indonesia Christian, said the country was ready for a leader of any background. "The majority of the people are more realistic. They want to see a leader who can bring solutions," he said.

He blamed the president, known as Jokowi, for not responding "quickly enough" to quell protests in that capital that saw roughly half-a-million people rally against Ahok on 2 December. "The issue is more with President Jokowi. He has to show his leadership is firm enough to make people calm down."

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/02/donald-trumps-indonesian-business-partner-considers-running-for-president

Blasphemy & the Jakarta elections

How can you possibly misspell Pizza Hut?: Ahok

Jakarta Globe - January 7, 2017

Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama said he has not paid much attention to the "Fitsa Hats" meme that originated from a police report made by one of the witnesses in his blasphemy trial, Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) Jakarta secretary general Novel Chaidir Hasan Bamukmin.

Novel reportedly wrote in the police report that he had once worked in a Fitsa Hats restaurant, by which he meant the American pizza chain Pizza Hut. Many on social media accuse Novel of trying deliberately to hide the fact he had worked at Pizza Hut because of FPI's anti-US stance.

"I don't really care. But the work history [in a police report] is always filled by the person being questioned," Ahok said in South Jakarta on Friday (06/01).

Novel claimed to have worked at a Pizza Hut restaurant from 1992 to 1995 in the police report.

"This is the same person who claimed he was a legal advocate, but forgot what year he graduated from elementary school, from junior high school and from high school. Who also said he had received text messages and phone calls from people complaining [about my speech] in Kepulauan Seribu, but now claim [the texts and phone records] have been deleted," Ahok added.

Novel has now filed a report against Ahok to the Jakarta Police, accusing of him of libel and slander under Indonesia's internet law.

Ahok said he was not the slightest bit concerned by Novel's move to file a report against him. "People file reports against me all the time. Water off duck's back for me," the governor quipped. "It's impossible that someone working for that long [in Pizza Hut] still misspells [the company's name]," Ahok pointed out. Meanwhile, the police have denied that they had tampered with Novel's work history in the police report. Special economic crimes director Brig. Gen. Agus Andrianto said investigators always clear data and statements written up in the police report with the people being interviewed before putting them on record.

The police said witnesses are allowed to correct their statements before signing them off, and investigators are not allowed to make any changes once they are signed.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/can-possibly-misspell-pizza-hut-ahok/

Ahok's lawyers to report FPI leader for allegedly lying in court

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Lawyers for non-active Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, are preparing to report Novel Bamukmin, the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) city chapter secretary, to the police for perjury.

"We are now still transcribing Tuesday's hearing. We want to use Novel's exact words in the hearing as our basis for the report," Fifi Lety Indra, one of the lawyers, told The Jakarta Post, adding that Ahok's legal team aimed to finish the transcription on Friday evening.

Fifi said that Novel, a former employee of Pizza Hut restaurant, had lied under oath while testifying against Ahok, together with the other three witnesses during the hearing at the North Jakarta District Court.

"Novel said Ahok had killed two of his assistants without any evidence. He also said Ahok had orchestrated his imprisonment back in 2015," she said.

In April 2015, the Central Jakarta District Court sentenced Novel to seven months in jail for public disturbance during a rally in front of the City Council during which several people were injured including police officers.

On Tuesday evening after the hearing, Ahok said he hoped Novel would be imprisoned if he was found guilty of perjury.

"If it is later proven that Novel gave false testimony in court, I hope he can be imprisoned for seven years," Ahok said, referring to provisions in the Criminal Law Procedures Code (KUHAP) concerning perjury. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/06/ahoks-lawyers-to-report-fpi-leader-for-allegedly-lying-in-court.html

Defamation claim against Ahok over 'Fitsa Hats' ridiculous: Lawyer

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – The defamation report filed by Novel Bamukmin, Islam Defenders Front (FPI) Jakarta chapter secretary, against governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama over the 'Fitsa Hats' issue is nonsensical, one of Ahok's lawyers has said.

"The report made me laugh because 'Fitsa Hats' was written in his dossier. This is ridiculous," the lawyer, Fifi Lety Indra, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Fifi added that during the hearing at the North Jakarta District Court on Tuesday, Novel told the judges that he stood behind his statement in the case dossier and claimed Ahok had blasphemed the police.

"If he says he stands behind what is in the dossier, how can he say that the document contains a spelling mistake?" Fifi said, adding that Novel had signed each page of the report.

During the press conference after his fourth hearing, Ahok said that Novel had stated in the dossier that he was a former employee of "Fitsa Hats", instead of Pizza Hut.

Ahok suggested that the misspelling was intentionally made as an attempt to cover up the name of the restaurant, saying that Novel was ashamed to have worked for a company owned by "infidels".

Novel denied Ahok's accusation, saying that it was a police officer, not him, who had made the error in the investigation report.

"[Working at Pizza Hut] is my personal background, something he should not make a fuss about. Why should he make a comment about it?" Novel said at the Jakarta Police headquarters on Thursday after reporting Ahok for defamation.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/06/defamation-claim-against-ahok-over-fitsa-hats-ridiculous-lawyer.html

Prosecutor presents unreliable witnesses in Ahok trial: Pundit

Jakarta Globe - January 6, 2017

Jakarta – Petrus Bala Pattyona, a lecturer from Krisnadwipayana University's Faculty of Law, said four of the witnesses presented by the prosecutors in Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's blasphemy trial on Tuesday (03/01) were unreliable at best and should not have been allowed to take the witness stand.

The witnesses had given their testimonies on the governor's speech at Pramuka Island in October, in which he reportedly insulted the Koran and which subsequently triggered the blasphemy allegation against him.

Petrus said judges should dismiss their testimonies as article 1 paragraph 27 of the Criminal Law states that a witness is someone who has experienced, heard or seen an event in person.

Since the witnesses' testimonies were based on what they have learned from other people, they should be struck down from the court record.

"Did the prosecutors know how to apply the Criminal Law? Their professionalism should be questioned," Petrus said in a written statement on Friday.

Previously, Indonesian Democracy Defenders Team (TPDI) coordinator Petrus Salestinus also said the witnesses in the latest session of the blasphemy trial against Ahok were not fit to take the witness stand.

Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent, was declared a suspect in the blasphemy case in mid-November amid mounting pressure from Muslim hardliners, who staged a series of mass demonstrations against him.

Judges had rejected Ahok's note of objections in the trial, which calls for the case to be struck down for breach of procedures.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/prosecutor-presents-unreliable-witnesses-ahok-trial-pundit/

Ahok's autobiography used as evidence against him in blasphemy trial

Jakarta Globe - January 5, 2017

Jakarta – Hardline group Islamic Defenders' Front, or FPI, has submitted Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's autobiography to the court as evidence against him in his continuing blasphemy trial.

The Muslim group claimed the autobiography, titled "Mengubah Indonesia" (Changing Indonesia) and published in 2008, contained passages which resemble parts of the governor's speech at Pramuka Island in October 2016, in which he reportedly insulted the Koran and a heavily edited video of which triggered the blasphemy allegation.

The book tells the story of Ahok's rise to be the most powerful man in the capital, from his humble beginnings in East Belitung, his parent's determination to get the best education for their son, to his eventual decision to step into politics despite his closest friends and families' objection.

The governor said on page 40 of his autobiography that some politicians are fond of quoting a verse from the Koran – verse 51 from its Al Maidah chapter – to influence people not to vote for him in February's Jakarta governor election. Ahok is now accused of insulting Islam because he had quoted the same verse in his Pramuka Island speech.

Novel Chaidir Hasan Bamukmin, the secretary general of FPI Jakarta, said the passage in the book proves that Ahok has been "attacking Al Maidah" since 2008, during his testimony at court on Tuesday (03/01).

Public opinion is still divided over whether Ahok had intentionally criticized the Koranic verse, of if he was criticizing his political opponents who had been using the verse to take him down.

The following are original quotes from the governor's autobiography:

"Throughout my political career,... that same verse... has been used to divide the public, with the goal of paving the way to power for groups possessed by the 'spirit of colonialism.'

These political elites... have tried to hide behind the Holy Koran to get people of the same faith to vote for them."

In the book, Ahok also mentioned that Christian political elites have also used a verse from the Bible – Galatians 6:10 – for the same purpose.

As quoted from the book:

"The [political] elites hiding behind the Holy Koran have been manipulating Al Maidah 51, which forbids Muslims from selecting a Christian or a Jew as their leader. Essentially, these elites are telling the people to choose a leader of the same faith.

However, knowledgeable friends of mine have told me that the verse was handed down to Prophet Muhammad when a group of Muslims had conspired with the Christians and the Jews to kill him. So, it is not a verse about selecting a leader of government. In any case, in Indonesia, the leader of government does not double up as a religious leader as well."

In an interview with the Beritasatu News Channel on Nov. 3, 2016, Ahok said former president Abdurrahman Wahid, or Gus Dur, was one of the "knowledgeable friends" he had mentioned.

In another passage in the book, Ahok also criticized Christian political elites who also use a verse from the Bible for their political gains.

"What about the elites hiding behind the Christian Bible? At every opportunity, they would quote Galatians 6:10, 'As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.'

I don't know what the political elites in Bali of the Hindu or Buddha faith say to their followers. But I have an inkling they're essentially saying the same thing: don't vote for leaders of different religion, race, group or ethnicity. Choose leaders of the same faith as you. Some of them even say that people of different faith are infidels, animals, sub-humans and unfit to be leaders!"

In these paragraphs, Ahok claimed that all political elites – irrespective of their religion – often manipulate verses from a holy book to gain power.

Ahok never said that the Al Maidah 51 or Galatians 6:10 contain misleading messages, but that the messages are often misrepresented or abused by Indonesia's political elites.

Five judges in Ahok's blasphemy trial will later decide if Ahok's autobiography can be used as evidence in the case.

Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent, was declared a suspect in the blasphemy case in mid-November amid mounting pressure from Muslim hardliners, who staged a series of wide-scale demonstrations in the capital and other cities against him.

Judges had rejected the governor's note of objections which called for the case to be struck down for breach of procedures during the third session of the trial.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/ahoks-autobiography-used-evidence-blasphemy-trial/

Police confirm not tampering with spelling of 'Fitsa Hats' by FPI

Jakarta Globe - January 5, 2017

Jakarta – The National Police have denied tampering with a report made by a witness in the blasphemy case against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

The witness, Novel Chaidir Hasan Bamukmin, admitted to intentionally misspelling the name of Pizza Hut, which later gave rise to various memes that went viral on social media.

Novel, who is the secretary general of the Jakarta chapter of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), claimed to have worked for "Fitsa Hats" from 1992 to 1995 in the official report.

However, police special economic crimes director Brig. Gen. Agus Andrianto confirmed that investigators have always clarified the data and statements in the investigation process. "The report was read [in front of the witness] before it was signed by the person," Agus told local media outlet Kompas on Wednesday (04/01).

Novel later conceded that "Fitsa Hats" was indeed United States-based fast-food chain Pizza Hut, prompting Ahok to speculate that he deliberately changed the name in an attempt to obscure the fact that he worked for a non-Muslim-led company.

The police said witnesses are allowed to correct their statements before signing, and investigators are not allowed to make any changes once they are signed.

"Investigators cannot change it. Moreover, the witness approved it," Agus said. "If the signee did not correct it, it is impossible for investigators to take the initiative to change the statement [as they are not allowed to]."

Ahok highlighted several issues from Tuesday's session of the trial to reporters after the eight-hour hearing in the auditorium of the Ministry of Agriculture in South Jakarta.

"He changed the phrasing of Pizza Hut and I laughed at that. He was asked [by the judges to explain this] and he later confessed to changing that part. However, he signed that report," Ahok said after the hearing.

"I thought he felt embarrassed since he has a viewpoint that does not allow him to be led by an infidel, or someone of a different faith," Ahok said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/police-confirm-not-tampering-spelling-fitsa-hat-fpi-witness/

Police wrote 'Fitsa Hats', not me: FPI leader

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2017

Jakarta – Islam Defenders Front (FPI) Jakarta chapter secretary Novel Bamukmin has acknowledged that he once worked at a Pizza Hut restaurant and claimed it was the police that wrote "Fitsa Hats" in Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's blasphemy case dossier.

"His [Ahok] lawyers do not know. It was the police who wrote it. Obviously the dossier didn't write itself," Novel told kompas.com on Wednesday.

Novel was among five witnesses, who earlier reported Ahok to the police for alleged blasphemy, who testified at the North Jakarta District Court on Tuesday.

Ahok said on Tuesday evening that Novel had likely changed the name of the restaurant because he was ashamed to have worked in a company owned by an "infidel" from 1992 to 1995.

"Yes, I think probably he was ashamed because he is of the opinion that it is forbidden to be led by an infidel, [someone of] different faith," Ahok said.

The FPI led several massive rallies in Jakarta last year, which were joined by hundreds of thousands of people, against Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent.

"I'm not ashamed. If I was ashamed, I wouldn't have mentioned the job," Novel said, adding that the "Fitsa Hats" part that was read during the hearing was missing when he rechecked the dossier.

"I will again report Ahok to the police for accusing me of manipulating [the dossier] under the belief that I am ashamed of having worked at an American company," he added. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/04/police-wrote-fitsa-hats-not-me-fpi-leader.html

'I worked for Fitsa Hats': Court testimony of FPI witness becomes first

Jakarta Globe - January 4, 2017

Jakarta – The fourth session of the ongoing blasphemy hearing against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on Tuesday (03/01) may have been closed to the public, but this didn't stop netizens taking on an Islamic Defenders' Front, or FPI, member for his bizarre intentional misspelling of pizza chain Pizza Hut.

Basuki revealed some points from Tuesday's trial session to reporters after the eight hour hearing at the Agriculture Ministry auditorium in South Jakarta.

He said Novel Chaidir Hasan Bamukmin, a witness in the case and FPI secretary general of the Jakarta chapter, had claimed to have worked for "Fitsa Hats" from 1992 to 1995 in an official police investigation report. Novel later conceded the establishment was US-owned pizza chain Pizza Hut, prompting Basuki to speculate he had deliberately changed the name in an effort to obscure having worked for a non-Muslim-led company.

"He changed the phrasing of Pizza Hut and I laughed at that. He was asked [to explain by the judges] and later confessed to changing that part. However, he signed that report," he said after the hearing.

"I thought he felt embarrassed since he has a viewpoint which doesn't allow him to be led by an infidel, or one who has a different faith," he said.

"Fitsa Hats" quickly spread as a meme across Facebook and Twitter. Pandji Pragiwaksono, comedian and spokesperson for the Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno campaign team, posted to his Twitter acount "'Fitsa Hats' might as well be a new brand. It's catchy."

Fitsa Hats. For heads that are too big for normal hats. We understand your needs. This will fit. – Pandji Pragiwaksono (@pandji) January 3, 2017

#fitsahats The most popular T-Shirt in Indonesia. Look your best,Wear this. get it now or you'll miss out! LOL pic.twitter.com/vUPnqIkdVn – Ricko Patrick SLinch (@ricko_andriana) January 4, 2017

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/worked-fitsa-hats-court-testimony-fpi-witness-becomes-first-hit-meme-year/

Ahok slams witness testimonies in Tuesday's hearing

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama slammed the testimonies of witnesses presented by prosecutors in the fourth hearing of his blasphemy case on Tuesday, saying that several were deceitful.

In one example, Ahok cited the testimony of Islam Defenders Front (FPI) Jakarta chapter secretary general Novel Bamukmin, who claimed that on Sept. 27, many Thousand Islands residents had phoned him and complained about Ahok's blasphemous remarks regarding Surah Al Maidah 51.

"When we asked him who had called him, he said that he had erased the SMSs and calls from his phone history. We will ask the police to obtain data from his phone provider to see how many Thousand Islands residents called him on the afternoon of Sept. 27," Ahok said in a press conference after the hearing at the Agriculture Ministry's auditorium on Jl. RM Harsono, Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta.

Ahok, who said earlier that no Thousand Islands residents were angered by his speech, added that in the hearing, Novel had accused him of killing two of his fellow FPI members. The governor later said Novel had now orchestrated a case to imprison him.

"If it is later proven that Novel gave false testimony in court, I hope he can be imprisoned for seven years," Ahok said, referring to relevant provisions in the Criminal Law Procedures Code (KUHAP).

It was further said that Ahok and his legal team had also discovered that another witness, Gus Joy, had lied about his status as a lawyer. Gus Joy himself had admitted that he had never been officially sworn in as a lawyer; but he had acted as if he were a lawyer, Ahok said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/04/ahok-slams-witness-testimonies-in-tuesdays-hearing.html

Ahok's lawyers criticize witness' background, noting him as Agus

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – The legal team of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama criticized the background of Gus Joy Setiawan, a witness presented by prosecutors in Tuesday's session of the governor's blasphemy trial on Tuesday, saying he was a supporter of Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono.

This might affect his objectivity in giving testimony as a witness in the case, the defense team said.

The legal team led by Trimoelja D. Soerjadi revealed in a statement on Tuesday that Gus Joy had declared his support for Agus and his running mate, Sylviana Murni. This could be seen in a video entitled "Gus Joy's Speech to Support Mas Agus and Mpok Sylviana" that was uploaded on YouTube on Sept. 30, the defense said.

"In the video, he said: 'Let's end the leadership of Ahok, who is arrogant, doesn't hesitate to evict poor people, tends to defend rich people and loves to talk harshly," one lawyer said.

"The witness has declared his support for one of the gubernatorial candidates on Sept. 30 before he reported Basuki Tjahaja Purnama to the police on Oct. 7. This thing showed his special agenda against Ahok," the team said.

In the session, which ran until Tuesday evening, prosecutors presented four witnesses who had filed a report with the police against Ahok, alleging he committed blasphemy.

They are the secretary-general of the Jakarta chapter of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), Novel Bamukmin, Sharia Advocate chairman Gus Joy Setiawan, FPI Jakarta head Muchsin and Antiblasphemy Forum head Syamsu Hilal.

They all reported Ahok to the police after watching a video of one of the governor's speech, in which he cited a Quranic verse, during a visit to the Thousand Islands. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/03/ahoks-lawyers-criticize-witness-background-noting-him-as-agus-supporter.html

Ahok defamed Islam repeatedly: FPI leader

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Islam Defenders Front (FPI) Jakarta branch secretary Novel Bamukmin testified against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in the fourth hearing of Ahok's blasphemy case at the North Jakarta District Court on Tuesday.

Novel said he had convinced the judges that Ahok had repeatedly committed blasphemy by using Surah Al Maidah 51, even before he delivered a speech during his working visit to Thousand Islands late September.

"Before giving the speech in Thousand Islands on Sept. 27, Ahok had brought up Surah Al Maidah 51 in his speech at the NasDem Party event on Sept. 21 and in another speech on March 30," Novel said after giving a statement in the hearing that took place at the Ministry of Agriculture's auditorium on Jl. RM Harsono, Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta.

Novel, who is also the advocacy head of the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI), also cited Ahok's book titled "Changing Indonesia", which he deemed as blasphemous for commenting on Surah Al Maidah.

"In 2012, while he ran as a Jakarta deputy governor candidate, Ahok's tendency to insult Islam could also be seen in his statement, which said that the Constitution is above the 'Holy Verses'," he added.

For that reason, Novel said Ahok did not need to be warned first about his wrongdoing as previously questioned by Ahok's lawyers in their refutation. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/03/ahok-defamed-islam-repeatedly-fpi-leader.html

Six witnesses to testify against Ahok: Lawyer

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Prosecutors will present six witnesses to testify against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in the fourth hearing of his blasphemy trial at the North Jakarta District Court on Tuesday morning, a lawyer said.

"The witnesses are the people who had denounced Ahok for blasphemy," Josefina Syukur, Ahok's lawyer, told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

She revealed that prosecutors would present National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI) advocacy head Novel Bamukmin, Sharia Advocate Chairman Gus Joy Setiawan, lawyer Muh. Burhanuddin, Islam Defenders Front (FPI) Jakarta branch head Muchsin, the head of the Anti-blasphemy Forum Syamsu Hilal and another person named Nandi Naksabandi.

The lawyers were ready to face the witnesses' statements, she said. "We have prepared some questions regarding their statements in their reports," she added.

Separately, Novel, who is also an FPI leader, said he had prepared evidence to prove that Ahok was guilty in committing blasphemy. "I've prepared videos and a printout from an online news [source] that show Ahok had insulted Islam by using Surah Al Maidah 51, since he ran as Jakarta deputy governor in 2012," he said.

On Dec. 27, the court's panel of judges, led by judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarto, decided to reject Ahok's refutation.

Ahok's fourth hearing will be moved from the former Central Jakarta District Court building on Jl. Gajah Mada, Central Jakarta, to the Ministry of Agriculture's auditorium building on Jl. RM Harsono, Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, due to security concerns.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/03/six-witnesses-to-testify-against-ahok-lawyer.html

Jakarta governor contender Anies Baswedan under fire for meeting Islamic

Sydney Morning Herald - January 3, 2017

Jewel Topsfield, Jakarta – A rival of the embattled Jakarta governor in next month's gubernatorial elections has met an Islamic hardliner group notorious for attacks on minority groups, raising critics' fears that it will give greater legitimacy to political extremists in Indonesia.

Analysts say Anies Baswedan's reputation as a moderate Muslim has been tarnished after he gave a speech on Sunday to the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

The hardline group, once considered a bunch of fringe radicals known for raids on bars during Ramadan, has sprung to national prominence after spearheading three mass rallies calling for the Christian governor to be jailed for blasphemy.

Anies' visit comes as the governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, universally known as Ahok, returned to court on Tuesday where he is facing blasphemy charges for complaining his political foes took a Koranic verse out of context.

The FPI's firebrand leader, Habib Rizieq, is pictured gazing adoringly at Anies in photos published on the group's social media accounts.

"Will this picture be remembered as the day moderates die?" tweeted Evan Laksmana, an analyst with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Indonesia. "Anies Baswedan, once known as a global voice of moderate Islam, campaigned at FPI HQ."

Mr Laksmana later told Fairfax Media that Anies may be trying to regain some of the conservative votes that had gone to his rival Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, the son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in the last two months.

"But to legitimise FPI in the process... simply means Anies is just another politician, not the inspiring, progressive and pluralist statesman he always said he aims to be," he said.

One of Anies' campaign spokesmen, Anggawira, said Anies attended meetings with different groups every few days. "People know where he stands on Islam, it's not something created in one day or visit. His position is well known by everybody, it's clear in the media, he was an activist as a student... he's an educator."

Mr Anggawira said the whole thing had been blown out of proportion because it was the FPI. "We understand that."

Anies denied in his speech rumours he was a follower of Shiite, a Muslim minority often persecuted in Sunni-majority Indonesia, ultra-conservative Wahhabism or Liberal Islam. He also spoke of rejecting a proposal to hold LGBT classes when he was rector of Paramadina University.

And Anies reiterated FPI figures suggesting 7.8 million people had attended the December 2 rally, a figure that is much higher than the 500,000 estimated by police.

Anies, a former education minister in the Jokowi government, was widely regarded as a pioneering educator and Muslim scholar.

In 2008 he was quoted in the Jakarta Post saying Indonesia's two largest civil Islamic groups should take the lead in preventing several Muslim individuals or groups from taking violent actions in the name of Islam.

His comments at the time came after the government issued a decree against Jamaah Ahmadiya, a minority Muslim sect, after intense pressure from extremist groups including the FPI. The FPI had also staged an attack on activists at a rally for religious tolerance.

Australian National University associate professor Marcus Mietzner said the visit to the FPI headquarters highlighted Habib Rizieq's growing political status after the December 2 demonstration, which positioned him as a leader with significant mass support and someone to whom election candidates had to pay tribute.

"For Anies, that support was apparently so important that he disavowed his own liberal legacy while leading Paramadina University," Dr Mietzner said.

"Instead of drawing from his reformist credentials built up there, he proudly told Rizieq that he banned gay themed lectures on campus. Anies' public destruction of his liberal image says a lot about where the wind is blowing ideologically in contemporary Indonesia."

The FPI says its mission is to implement Sharia law and rioted when Ahok became the first openly ethnically Chinese Christian governor of Jakarta in 2014, arguing that an infidel should not be appointed leader.

"God's law is above everything, that holy verses are above the constitution's," Habib Rizieq said in a sermon during the December 2 anti-Ahok rally last year.

President Joko Widodo joined Habib Rizieq on stage for a short speech at the rally, which may have helped defuse political tensions, but also, many argue, reinforced the FPI's newfound status as a leader of political Islam in Indonesia.

Emboldened by the success of the rally, FPI members visited several shopping malls in Surabaya last month to ensure a non-legally binding fatwa banning Muslims from wearing Christmas apparel such as Santa hats was being upheld.

Habib Rizieq has also been reported to police for blasphemy after he allegedly said: "If Jesus is the son of God, who is the midwife?" during a sermon on Christmas Day. (With Amilia Rosa)

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/jakarta-governor-contender-anies-baswedan-under-fire-for-meeting-islamic-hardliners-20170103-gtlasx.html

Women's group demands fair trial for Ahok

Jakarta Post - January 2, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Members of the Women Care for Jakarta (PPKJ) movement have called on the North Jakarta District Court to give Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama a fair trial on his blasphemy charges, arguing that the capital's leader was innocent.

"We're sure that all the indictments and allegations that Ahok has insulted Islam are far from the truth," Rita Serena Kolibonso of the PPKJ said on Monday.

Ahok and his running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat, she said, had provided strategic and humanitarian programs to the city and shown work ethics that upheld honesty – not to mention that he was also one example of a regional leader who combated the corruption in the bureaucracy.

"Their programs, including those in health, education and the social sectors, have enabled women to be active and get benefits," Rita added.

The Jakarta Health Card (KJS) was among the programs she mentioned as being beneficial to women, adding that health services were also under a program that included free childbirth facilities, as well as free pap smear and cervical cancer checks.

"The program has led to a decreasing trend in maternal mortality in Jakarta," Rita said. (dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/02/womens-group-demands-fair-trial-for-ahok.html

Ahok supporters to stage rallies until trial ends

Jakarta Post - January 2, 2017

Liza Yosephine, Jakarta – Supporters of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama pledged on Monday to hold demonstrations at the court complex on all remaining days of Ahok's blasphemy trial to push for a fair verdict.

Bara-Badja (Volunteer Front for Basuki and Djarot) member Soelianto Rusli, who is the head coordinator of the demonstrations, said the decision had been made following a meeting ahead of the third hearing, which is slated for Tuesday and seeks to demand that judges release the beleaguered incumbent gubernatorial candidate.

Soelianto claims that the trial has become politicized and subject to public pressure, and therefore a response from Ahok supporters is needed to balance out the sentiment from those calling for him to be found guilty.

"We want to be present at the trial so that the judges are fairer in handling the case. We see that Ahok has been criminalized, so we want this trial to be fairer," Soelianto told The Jakarta Post over the phone following a coordination meeting held to finalize details of the rally.

He said approximately 800 people would flock to the hearing on Tuesday, which is set to be held at a new venue in South Jakarta. The group is set to begin rallying at 6 a.m. and plans to remain there until the hearing ends.

The Supreme Court (MA) has moved the hearing to the Agriculture Ministry's main hall in South Jakarta from the North Jakarta District Court, which is now temporarily located at the former Central Jakarta District Court building on Jl. Gajah Mada No 17, Central Jakarta.

The new venue has a higher capacity and can accommodate approximately 100-200 visitors, in comparison to the previous courtroom, which can only hold 80 visitors.

Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent, has been charged with violating Articles 156 and 156 (a) of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on blasphemy after he cited Surah Al Maidah 51 during a public speech in Thousand Islands during a visit on Sept. 27. The governor could face a maximum sentence of five year's imprisonment. (dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/02/ahok-supporters-to-stage-rallies-until-trial-ends.html

Journalism & press freedom

Mainstream media responsible for rise of fake news: Press Council

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The rising circulation of fake news as an alternative for readers to obtain information is partly due to the questionable impartiality of the country's mainstream media, according to Press Council chairman Yosep Adi Prasetyo.

Yosep told The Jakarta Post that public trust in the mainstream media has been decreasing since the 2014 legislative and presidential elections that saw media companies openly supporting candidates contesting the presidential race while at the same time, the owners also became involved in politics. The situation has turned gloomier with some journalists favoring certain politicians.

"This is why people no longer trust the news provided by the mainstream media and have instead turned to social media as an alternative source of information," Yosep said. "This also explains why people are quick to trust information circulating on WhatsApp chat groups, for example, because people no longer see the mainstream media as an authoritative source of facts".

The Press Council is planning to restore the credibility of the country's mainstream media by creating a special logo for those that pass the council's verification to show that they are reliable and trusted. This is part of national efforts to counter mounting circulation of fake news particularly through online platforms. The government is also heightening measures to ban any unreliable online news portal, and is working with the Press Council to help identify them.

Yosep called on mainstream media to support the efforts to protect the Indonesian public from being misled by fake news. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/06/mainstream-media-responsible-for-rise-of-fake-news-press-council.html

Indonesian government, press council to block non-credible news portals

Jakarta Post - January 5, 2017

Jakarta – The Communications and Information Ministry's director general for applications and information, Samuel A. Pangerapan, said his institution would block news portals that violate the Press Law and other regulations.

"We [will] work together with the Press Council in the near future. All websites claiming themselves to be news portals but failing to declare their company name, company structure, legal entity and address will be banned, according to the Press Law," Samuel said as quoted by Antara on Wednesday. Samuel asserted this step was crucial to ensure the role of media as the fourth estate of democracy.

"[This measure] is also meant to prevent the spread of hoaxes," he said, adding the public needed to trust news provided by media running in compliance with journalistic principles aside from non-credible sources.

He said a team would be set up to monitor questionable news portals. Citing data from the Press Council, Samuel added that currently 40,000 news portals are operating in Indonesia.

By December 2016, the ministry has reportedly blocked 11 sites: voa-islam.com, nahimunkar.com, kiblat.net, bisyarah.com, dakwahtangerang.com, islampos.com, suaranews.com, izzamedia.com, gensyiah.com, muqawamah.com, and abuzubair.net. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/05/indonesian-government-press-council-to-block-non-credible-news-portals.html

Indonesia's AJI urges police not to hinder journalists reporting Ahok

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Alliance of Indonesian Journalists (AJI) chairman Suwarjono expressed disapproval of the police action that hindered journalists in reporting the blasphemy trial implicating Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on Tuesday despite the judge's permit.

"The police have surely hindered journalist work. The police action was too much despite that they did not have the authority to prohibit the journalists from covering the opened trial," Suwarjono told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

He added that presiding judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarto only banned the live broadcast of the trial, not the coverage. It was the police that blocked access, he said.

Further, he said that he hoped judges, the district court and the police could coordinate regarding this matter. "If there is a room capacity problem, we hope [the court] can provide speakers outside the trial room to facilitate the journalists' work," he added.

Suwarjono said further that the AJI was currently investigating the Tuesday incident and gathering data regarding the violation of the Press Law. The gathered information would determine AJI's next step, he said. (dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/04/indonesias-aji-urges-police-not-to-hinder-journalists-reporting-ahok-trial.html

Internet & social media

Indonesia blocks 800,000 websites

Jakarta Post - January 7, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesian government has blocked 800,000 websites as of December last year, mostly websites containing pornographic material or gambling sites, an official said on Saturday.

"Some 90 percent of them contained pornographic material or gambling applications, and some were simply spreading hoaxes," Samuel Abrijani Pangerapan, the director general of Information Application at the Communications and Information Ministry, said in a discussion on Saturday as quoted by tempo.co.

Samuel said the public could access more details through http://trustpositif.kominfo.go.id.

He said the government had produced a regulation as the legal basis to block the sites. He said the ministry had established a team to check up on reports about websites from the public. He denied that the government had implemented strict measures to monitor the cyber world.

The ministry has blocked 766,633 sites related to pornography and 85 related to radicalism. Samuel said the owners of blocked sites could ask the ministry to lift the block after accepting some requirements.

Last month, the ministry received criticism from democracy activists regarding its decision to block suarapapua.com, a news site based in Papua. The Press Legal Aid Institute (LBH Pers) said the block constituted a violation of freedom of expression. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/07/indonesia-blocks-800000-websites.html

Minister ensures national cyber agency not 'draconian'

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The National Cyber Agency, a soon-to-be-established body assigned to tackle cyber crimes, will neither endanger Indonesia's democracy nor be intrusive to people's private lives, a senior minister has guaranteed.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto strove to calm down public concerns that the presence of such a body might bring draconian surveillance practices on people's private lives in the country by saying the agency would instead protect residents' Internet and social-media activities from cybercrimes.

"Don't worry. This agency will not meddle with individuals' or companies' private matters. Some people say the agency will monitor individual conversations. This is false. It's another hoax," Wiranto said on Thursday.

The minister further said even though state institutions such as the Defense Ministry, the National Police, the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the Communications and Information Ministry had developed their own cyber divisions, not all state strategic bodies had been fully protected from cyberthreats, he went on.

"E-commerce, banking, financial services and big companies have yet to be protected. Therefore the agency will be formed," Wiranto said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/06/minister-ensures-national-cyber-agency-not-draconian.html

Tito assures cyber agency will not overlap with Nat'l Police

Jakarta Globe - January 4, 2017

Jakarta – National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian confirmed the fledgling National Cyber Agency, under the watch of the Chief Security Ministry, will not overlap with police authority.

"The cyber agency will be combined with the State Cryptography Agency, named the Cyber and State Cryptography Agency, which will address cyber world issues, as we are one of the highest targeted countries for [cyber] crimes," Tito said in Jakarta on Wednesday (04/01).

Indonesian internet users have reached 50 percent of the population, or roughly 120 million people, Tito said.

"There should be supervision and other regulations. The cyber agency is expected to regulate that. The National Police will only handle the law enforcement side. The cyber agency formulates the regulations and other issues," he added.

He tipped stronger enforcement against hoaxes, as regulated by the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law, with those who post or share hoax news facing criminal charges.

"I urge [the public] not to upload inaccurate news, as it can be reported if it is proven to be lies and generate negative effects on others. This can be a heavy crime, so please be careful," Tito continued.

Hoaxes generated by bots, programs which automate the spreading of spam, will also be targeted, with those behind the programs to face charges.

Previously, Chief Security Minister Wiranto pushed for the establishment of the National Cyber Agency in order to prevent cyber attacks against the country.

"Cybercrime is related to security and defense in e-commerce. We will soon have e-voting. If the e-voting system is hacked, the data would be destroyed, so we have to safeguard it," Wiranto said in Jakarta in October.

He added that a study to determine necessary measures for establishing the cyber agency has been carried out and the ministry has held meetings to discuss the terms of setting up the agency.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/tito-assures-cyber-agency-will-not-overlap-natl-police/

Environment & natural disasters

Land degradation, deforestation leads to critical watershed water levels

Jakarta Globe - January 7, 2017

Jakarta – The Ministry of Public Works and Housing has warned at least 22 regional agriculture watersheds have dropped to critical level, prompting concerns it has caused flooding.

The watersheds, used to conserve water for irrigation purposes, are facing a critical shortage amid a spotty rainy season and environmental factors.

"Currently, 22 watersheds across the country are in critical condition, resulting in flash floods in a variety of areas," Public Works Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said, as reported by state news agency Antara on Friday (06/01).

Adang Saf Ahman, irrigation director at the ministry, said the watersheds are spread over 131 river basins across the archipelago. He said the dry season had led to a decrease in water levels, but the expected rainy season influx had not occurred, causing fluctuations.

The minister attributed flash flooding in West Nusa Tanggara and across Java as being caused by the watersheds and poor management. "The cause is conversion of forest land into areas of industry and agriculture, such as farmer planting in the water catchment area," Basuki said.

He urged residents to conserve water catchment areas by reforestation and a slowing down of land conversion.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/land-degradation-deforestation-leads-critical-watershed-water-levels/

Graft & corruption

AGO claims performance in 2016 satisfying

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2017

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – The Attorney General's Office (AGO) says it is satisfied with its performance in 2016, during which it, among other things, contributed Rp 1.8 trillion (US$133.65 million) to the state's non-tax revenue (PNBP) collected from fines imposed on defendants.

AGO Spokesperson Muhammad Rum said on Wednesday that the total amount collected was 952 percent higher than the initial target.

He added that his office had been firm in handling dodgy officers, citing a total of 167 people, including 93 prosecutors, who had received punishments ranging from reprimands to being fired.

Rum, however, declined to provide specific statistics that demonstrated the AGO's achievement. "We don't have the percentage. Don't ask about the cases," he said.

In November, a report released by Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) suggested that the AGO under Attorney General HM Prasetyo, who was officiated by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in Nov. 2014, had recorded few achievements.

The report cited the AGO's sluggish progress in handling corruption cases and stubborn refusal to make an online database to display the progress of cases it was handling.

The report shows that of 24 graft cases involving 79 suspects and Rp 1.5 trillion in state losses, only eight cases had been brought to the courts. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/04/ago-claims-performance-in-2016-satisfying.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

Man nabbed for reportedly planning church attack in Palu

Jakarta Globe - January 2, 2017

Palu – An alleged terrorist, identified as Irwanto, or Abu Muhammad, was nabbed for reportedly planning an attack on a church in Palu in Central Sulawesi on New Year's Eve, police said on Monday (02/01).

30-year-old Irwanto was arrested during a raid by antiterror unit Densus 88 on Jalan Bali in North Lolu, a village in East Palu, on Saturday at 1.20 p.m.

Police claimed the arrest was made just a couple of hours before the suspect was supposed to carry out attacks on a church and a house belonging to Shi'ite Muslims in Palu.

During the raid on Irwanto's rented home, police confiscated a knife, five books on jihad, a manual on bombmaking and a modified phone that was allegedly going to be used to trigger a bomb.

Central Sulawesi Police spokesman Supt. Haru Suprapto said Irwanto had detonated two small handmade bombs in an experiment before the planned attacks.

"The suspect had intended to round up young extremists to join his new terror cell after realizing [slain fugitive] Santoso's group has been cornered in Mt. Biru in Poso," Hari said.

Tinombala Operation extended to catch nine fugitives

Operation Tinombala, a terrorist-hunting operation which involved both police and military officers, has been officially extended until April 3 to search for nine remaining fugitives. The operation had been scheduled to end on Monday.

The remaining fugitives are Firdaus, or Daus, a.k.a. Barak Rangga; Kholid; Asgar a.k.a. Jaid; Qatar a.k.a. Farel; Abu Alim; Nae a.k.a. Galuh; and Basir a.k.a. Romzi – all from Bima, West Nusa Tenggara.

The other two are Ali Ahmad a.k.a. Ali Kalora and Mohammad Faisal, or Namnung, a.k.a. Kobar. The men are members of the East Islamic Mujahidin group now on the run in the hilly jungles of Poso.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/man-nabbed-reportedly-planning-church-attack-palu/

Operation Tinombala extended by three months as terror group still at

Jakarta Post - January 2, 2017

Ruslan Sangadji, Palu, Central Sulawesi – Operation Tinombala in fighting the East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT) terror group will extend its operation by three months from the original ending date of Jan. 3 to ensure the complete elimination of the group and its power and influences, a top security official has said.

Operation Tinombala taskforce commander Brig. Gen. Rudy Sufahriadi said the operation in Poso, Central Sulawesi, was extended because nine MIT members had remained at large and continued to wage guerrilla warfare in forests across Poso.

"The operation will end only if all remnants of the MIT can be busted, dead or alive," said Rudy on Friday.

The nine remaining MIT members are Ali Kalora, Firdaus alias Daus or alias Barok Rangga, Kholid, Askar alias Jaid or alias Pak Guru, Qatar alias Farel, Abu Alim, Muh Faisal alias Namnung or alias Kobar, Nae alias Galuh and Basir alias Romzi.

Rudy said one year after its launch, the target of Operation Tinombala to paralyze the leaders of the MIT, a local terror organization affiliated with the IS extremist group, had been achieved. MIT leader Santoso alias Abu Wardah was shot dead in an operation on July 18, 2016. His followers, both locals and foreigners, had either been arrested or shot dead.

Still, the terror group had yet to be fully eliminated with the remaining members still at large, Rudy said.

Rudy, who is also the Central Sulawesi Police chief, further said it was likely remnants of the MIT were led by Ali Kalora. They reportedly still possessed armed weapons and home-assembled bombs. He did not give details on how many armed weapons were still being used by the terrorist group but confirmed they possessed a large number of homemade bombs.

Operation Tinombala taskforce deputy commander Col. Alfi Sahri Lubis previously said it was likely the types of armed weapons still possessed by the MIT members were SS1-V1, made by state weapon maker PT Pindad, and the US-manufactured M16-A1.

MIT's weapons were identifiable as they used 5.56 millimeter munitions, very similar to the SS1-V1 and M16-A1.

It was believed those weapons had been used to shoot First Pvt. Yusuf Baharuddin, who was once a member of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) and had worked with the Operation Tinombala taskforce, in a shootout in Poso Pesisir on Dec. 20. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/02/operation-tinombala-extended-by-three-months-as-terror-group-still-at-large.html

Hard-line & vigilante groups

TNI providing military training for FPI Islamic vigilantes

Jawa Post (JPPN) - January 7, 2017

The Islamic Defenders Front's (FPI) Banten Regional Representatives Council (DPD) held State Defence Preliminary Training (PPBN) in the Lebak regency of Banten, West Java, on Thursday January 5.

The training was led directly by members of the Indonesian military (TNI) who acted as mentors. Several photos of the training were uploaded by the FPI DPP on Instagram at dpp_fpi .

"The TNI and the FPI held PPBN and planted 10,000 trees in Lebak regency Banten", read the dpp_fpi photo caption attached to the photos uploaded on Saturday January 7.

In the photos, several FPI leaders can be seen training on a military style obstacle course beginning with climbing rope cargo nets and swinging over pools of water on strands of rope.

The training photos received a positive response from netizens who sympathise with the mass organisation led by FPI secretary general KH. Ahmad Shabri Lubis.

"Allah has willed it", was written from the account zahrtlk. "good job fpi onward with state defence", wrote amry2096 in support of the FPI training.

In addition to training, the FPI members also held an action to plan 10 thousand trees as an environmental conservation effort. (mg5/jpnn)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "FPI dan TNI Latihan ala Militer di Banten".]

Source: http://m.jpnn.com/news/fpi-dan-tni-latihan-ala-militer-di-banten

Freedom of religion & worship

Police admit law enforcement against intolerant groups weak

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2017

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – Amid increasing acts of intolerance occurring in the country recently, the police have admitted that their role in enforcing the law against intolerant groups needs to be strengthened.

National Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Awi Setiyono said many police officers were still not firm in carrying out their duties, particularly when dealing with cases related to religious issues.

"One factor that fuels the growing intolerance is the weak law enforcement by police personnel on intolerant religious organizations," Awi said during a dialogue on religious tolerance in Indonesia hosted by rights group the Wahid Foundation on Thursday in Jakarta.

Awi said although National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian had repeatedly taken a bold stance against intolerant acts such as those based on circulating fatwa issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), it had yet to influence police personnel across the country in taking a stand.

"In Surabaya, for example, instead of dissolving a radical Muslim group that carried out a raid, the police escorted them," Awi said, referring to a raid by Islam Defenders Front (FPI) members on shopping malls in the East Java capital to check whether outlets had ordered employees to wear Christmas attire, such as Santa hats.

Throughout 2016, Awi said, the police had recorded 25 major cases related to religious intolerance, which included a case in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, where an Islamic extremist threw Molotov cocktails into a church, which killed a toddler and injured several others. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/06/police-admit-law-enforcement-against-intolerant-groups-weak.html

National Police seek support in fighting intolerance

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2017

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – Amid growing religious intolerance across the country, particularly against minority groups, the National Police have urged religious clerics and all relevant stakeholders to take tougher measures to help tackle bigotry.

National Police spokesperson Awi Setyono said the root causes of intolerance cases the police had handled were diverse but often included persistent rejection among certain groups to accept differences. He suggested that religious clerics use their influence in a greater capacity to tackle intolerance by providing a narrative that promotes acceptance.

"When it comes to issues on the protection of religious tolerance, everyone should get involved. It's not only the duty of the police," Awi said during a discussion held by the Wahid Foundation in Jakarta on Thursday.

He lamented the issuance of religious edicts deemed discriminatory against certain society groups. It was more important for religious clerics to back police actions in protecting the rights of minority groups.

National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) religion and faith freedom desk coordinator Jayadi Damanik said during the discussion that in recent years, cases driven by religious intolerance had consistently increased and the trend might continue if law enforcers enforced laws against minority groups only.

"In 2014 there were 74 cases, whereas in 2015 there were 87 cases. We have yet to compile the figure for 2016, but I can assure you the number is higher," Jayadi said, adding that the cases included tough restrictions in construction permit issuance for houses of worship and the forcing of someone to hold certain beliefs. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/06/national-police-seek-support-in-fighting-intolerance.html

Poverty & social inequity

President orders ministers to cut economic disparity

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2017

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed his ministers to further reduce economic disparity by stepping up the implementation of the government's poverty eradication program.

"We have to work as hard as we can. [Economic] disparity should be further cut, both between the haves and have-nots and between the regions," said Jokowi while chairing a Cabinet meeting at the Bogor Palace on Wednesday as reported by kontan.com.

Indonesia managed to reduce its Gini ratio to 0.387 in March 2016, from 0.402 in September, 2015, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

The President also stressed the need to further cut the poverty rate from 10.86 percent in July 2016 to 10.5 percent next year.

As part of the effort to cut the poverty rate, the President has ordered the Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister to speed up the process of redistribution of land to the people through formalization of land ownership.

This is needed to help the people, particularly farmers, use their land to improve their welfare, Jokowi added.

Jokowi also ordered the Environment and Forestry Minister to support the Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister to implement the program. The President instructed the ministers to set land certification and land concession targets for the next two years. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/04/president-orders-ministers-to-cut-economic-disparity.html

Land & agrarian conflicts

Prabowo visits evicted residents in Pasar Ikan

Jakarta Post - January 7, 2017

Jakarta – Prabowo Subianto, the leader of the Gerinda Party, visited evicted residents from Pasar Ikan, or Kampung Akuarium, in North Jakarta on Saturday.

When he approached the makeshift tents on the rubble on which some evictees remained, several women approached him and started to cry. "We have been treated unfairly, Sir, as if we were animals. We have been living here nine months," one of the women said.

About 400 families in Pasar Ikan were evicted in April last year. "We want a new President and a new governor who sides with the little people," another resident said as quoted by Antara news agency.

Prabowo promised that Gerindra's Jakarta gubernatorial candidates, Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno, would defend the people if they were victorious in the election in February.

"I'm here with candidate No. 3, Anies Baswedan. He's a governor for the people and will defend the people with all his heart. He is not a thief," Prabowo said. "All the people will enjoy independence and I want to give you the message to keep doing good," he said. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/07/prabowo-visits-evicted-residents-in-pasar-ikan.html

Court declares Bukit Duri eviction unlawful, residents to be compensated

Jakarta Globe - January 7, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta government has been ordered to compensate residents evicted from Bukit Duri, South Jakarta, after a long-awaited court verdict ruled the evictions unlawful.

Judges at the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) also ordered the South Jakarta administration on Thursday (05/01) to retract three warning letters issued against Bukit Duri residents prior to the forced evictions.

The evictions, which were carried out in late September and early October, were part of a project to normalize Ciliwung River, along the banks of which Bukit Duri residents had lived for generations since the 1920s.

Officials from the Jakarta administration have accused them of illegally occupying the areas. Residents insisted rights to the area and produced documentation and land certificates during the Jakarta PTUN hearing.

"This proves that the evictions carried out by the administrations of Jakarta and South Jakarta were an arbitrary and illegal move," Vera Soemarwi, a lawyer for the Bukit Duri residents, said in a statement released on Friday.

"We urge them to restore the residents' rights to land and homes that have been undermined," Vera added.

The Bukit Duri evictions were just one of dozens carried out by the Jakarta administration since late 2014, when Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama permanently took office after predecessor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo won the presidential election. Basuki has maintained a tough eviction policy since rising to the helm.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/court-declares-bukit-duri-eviction-unlawful-residents-compensated/

Transport & communication

Ferry accident exposes safety loopholes

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2017

Corry Elyda, Agnes Anya and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The fatal Zahro Express ferry accident in the Jakarta Bay has forced the government to revisit safety standards of sea transportation as preliminary indications have suggested that the ill-fated boat had design flaws even though it had passed safety tests.

Carrying 184 passengers, the Zahro caught fire on its way from Muara Angke in North Jakarta to Tidung Island in Thousand Islands regency, only hours into the new year.

As many as 23 passengers were killed, almost all of them reportedly burned to death in the fire. As of Monday evening, 31 injured passengers were still being treated in hospitals while at least 17 others remained missing.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said on Monday that his ministry would examine all safety check mechanisms on vessels, especially those operating in the Jakarta Bay. Budi said the ministry would revoke the permit of any vessel that failed to meet safety requirements.

Meanwhile, National Transportation Safety Commission (KNKT) marine accident investigation chief Aldrin Dalimunte suggested that the boat had received safety certification. He also brushed off speculation that overloading had contributed to the accident.

According to official documents, he added, the boat could carry up to 285 passengers. Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Mochamad Iriawan said the number of passengers on board at the time of the accident was 195, regardless of the manifest showing that only 100 passengers had registered for the trip.

However, preliminary findings suggested the boat did not have a design that was conducive to a smooth evacuation in emergency situations.

Aldrin said the initial investigation indicated the fire was caused by a short circuit in the engine, which also generated power for the boat's air conditioning system. "Zahro was different from other vessels [serving the route] as it was equipped with an air-conditioning system," he said.

He added that as the cabins were air-conditioned, the passenger cabins were sealed. "There was only one way out, which was at the front of the vessel. And yet the door was very small and could only be passed through by one person at a time," he said.

"When the fire came from the back [of the boat] and people panicked, the evacuation might have become chaotic," he added.

Aldrin said the condition worsened as crew members did not provide any information or guidance for passengers about how to deal with an emergency situation, either before or during the incident. "Our interviews with passengers show that they were left on their own to figure out how to escape the danger and stay alive," he said.

The chief said the KNKT would investigate the accident further, especially regarding the pace of the fire, which may be linked to the cabin's design and materials. He added that his team would visit the factory that produced the vessel on Tidung Island.

He further said investigators would also closely examine if there had been efforts to extinguish the fire. "According to the documents, the vessel was equipped with fire extinguishers but we need to check on the boat," he said. It was also not known yet if the engine room had a smoke detector.

Minister Budi said that in order to improve the service and safety standards, he had asked state-owned ship operators – PT Pelayaran Nasional Indonesia (Pelni) and ASDP Indonesia Ferry – to serve passengers in Thousand Islands. "The vessels will be ready in three days," he said.

The Jakarta Transportation Agency recorded that 44 private vessels were registered to serve Thousand Islands with around 6,000 to 7,000 passengers during weekends. Many of the boats were owned by private companies.

In the wake of the accident, Budi said the ministry had fired the Muara Angke port master who was responsible for supervising vessels that entered and exited the port. The ministry and the Jakarta administration have also announced that all victims would receive compensation.

Fires are the most common incidents on water transportation. KNKT data shows that the number of accidents on the sea has increased over recent years. There have been 54 accidents in the last seven years with a total 337 casualties. Most of them were fires, with 19 incidents, followed by drowning with 13 cases.

The Jakarta Police, meanwhile, are holding four of the boat's crew members, including the helmsman, for questioning, but as of Monday none had been named as suspects. "We have also questioned two staffers from the ministry as well as three passengers," Jakarta water police unit head Sr. Comr. Hero Hendriarto said.

Lawmaker Fary Djemi Francis said House of Representatives Commission V would summon the minister. "We want to know whether there have been procedural violations, poor monitoring or other individual errors," he said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/03/ferry-accident-exposes-safety-loopholes.html

23 dead, 17 injured in fire on Indonesian ferry in Thousand Islands

Sydney Morning Herald - January 1, 2017

Jewel Topsfield and Amilia Rosa, Jakarta – Twenty-three people have been killed and at least 17 have been injured after a fire on board a ferry on the way to one of Indonesia's Thousand Islands, a popular tourist getaway for Jakartans, on New Year's Day.

Another 17 people are still missing after the Zahro Express, which was heading to Tidung Island, caught on fire, according to the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management. The ferry caught fire at 9.42am on January 1 after leaving Muara Angke Port in North Jakarta.

Thousand Islands police spokesman Ferry Budiharso said the number of casualties was at 23. He said three people died at Atma Jaya hospital and another 20 bodies were found on the boat.

Mr Ferry said the boat manifest had only listed 100 passengers on board, but 140 had already been rescued. "We suspect the boat was carrying more than the manifest," he said. "The joint team is still evacuating and conducting the rescue."

Aldi Munaldi, who was taking his family to Tidung island for a holiday, told television program Liputan 6 that the incident happened 20 minutes after the ferry left port.

"(The fire) started in the engine room in the back. Suddenly there was black smoke. We couldn't breathe." He said people, some of whom were wearing life jackets, started panicking and jumping overboard: "People screamed 'jump, jump'."

Mr Aldi, whose mother suffered burns, said the ferry later exploded. "My one year old is safe; I carried my child," he said. "We wanted to go for a holiday, but it turned out like this. We were drifting for 20 minutes at sea before... boats came and helped."

Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho tweeted the ferry was charred and severely damaged. It had been towed back to Muara Angke Port.

The Thousand Islands are a chain of islands off the north of Jakarta's coast, which are popular with tourists and Indonesians eager to escape the city. Ferries in Indonesia have a poor safety record with accidents common across the archipelago.

Last September two people died and 18 were injured after an explosion on a ferry travelling between East Bali and the Gili islands. And in June 2015, 25 passengers, including four Australians, were injured in a fire on a fast ferry travelling between Lombok and Bali.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/23-dead-17-injured-in-fire-on-indonesian-ferry-in-thousand-islands-20170101-gtkhkt.html

Criminal justice & legal system

Executions could continue, depending on funding: AGO

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2017

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – The Attorney General's Office (AGO) has said it may execute more drug convicts this year, explaining that it largely depended on funding.

AGO spokesperson Muhammad Rum said his office had made improvements to law enforcement, including by executing drug convicts to curb the circulation of drugs, and that more executions could be scheduled for this year.

In 2016, four drugs convicts were executed, despite criticism by foreign countries and human rights groups that lambasted Indonesia for implementing capital punishment.

"In an effort to eradicate drugs in Indonesia, AGO junior prosecutors for general crimes executed four convicts: Michael Titus Igweh [Nigerian], Freddy Budiman [Indonesian], Humprey Ejike, also known as Doctor [Nigerian], and Seck Osmane [Senegal]," Rum said.

The case of drug kingpin Freddy Budiman sparked nationwide concern when human rights defender Haris Azhar of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) alleged that personnel from the National Narcotics Agency (BNN), the National Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) had helped the convict run the illegal business.(jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/04/executions-could-continue-depending-on-funding-ago.html

Police & law enforcement

Six provinces welcome new police chiefs

Jakarta Globe - January 4, 2017

Jakarta – Top cop Gen. Tito Karnavian swore in six provincial police chiefs and three high-ranking National Police officials on Monday (02/01) at the National Police headquarters, South Jakarta.

National Police's information technology division head Insp. Gen. Machmud Arifin was sworn-in as the new East Java Police chief, replacing Anton Setiadji who will enter retirement.

Machmud's previous post will be filled by Tito's expert staffer for social and economy affairs Insp. Gen. Prasta Wahyu Hidayat.

Insp. Gen. Eko Hadi Sutejo was sworn-in as the new National Police's facility and infrastructure assistant, replacing Insp. Gen. Happy Kartika.

Meanwhile, National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) deputy for international cooperation Insp. Gen. Petrus Reinhard Golose will serve as Bali Police chief, replacing Insp. Gen. Sugeng Priyatno.

East Nusa Tenggara welcomed Brig. Gen. Agung Sabar Santoso as police chief, replacing Brig. Gen. Widiyo Sunaryo. Agung's previous post as Southeast Sulawesi Police chief which will be filled by Brig. Gen. Andap Budi Revianto.

Central Kalimantan Police chief Brig. Gen Fakhrizal was officially transferred as West Sumatra Police chief, replacing Brig. Gen. Basaruddin. Brig. Gen. Anang Revandoko will serve as Fakhrizal's predecessor in Central Kalimantan Police.

National Police also welcomed Brig. Gen. Royke Lumowa as new traffic unit chief, replacing Insp. Gen. Condro Kirono.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/six-provinces-welcome-new-police-chiefs/

Immigration & border security

Indonesia to set up a task force to monitor the movement of foreigners

Jakarta Post - January 7, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The government is set to revamp its oversight system on foreigners amid growing concern of foreigners exploiting their visas to work in the country illegally.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said on Friday that the government would set up a task force to monitor the movement of foreigners entering the country's borders.

"The monitoring [under the task force] will ensure foreigners who enter and move across Indonesia do not have a hidden agenda, such as working illegally, or even committing terror acts and being involved in the illegal drug trade," Wiranto told reporters following a meeting with relevant ministers at his office.

The task force would function to fill the gap in the current oversight system, which focused on monitoring foreigners when they entered Indonesian borders, yet gradually lost control when they moved to other areas, Wiranto added.

The minister said the task force would empower local administrations, which already have their own monitoring system, to step up oversight of foreigners living in the regions.

National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Syafruddin confirmed the function of the task force was similar to the foreigner oversight (POA) team under the auspices of the National Police.

The team was set up under the Soeharto regime but disbanded by the 2011 Immigration Law, which curtails the police's authority to oversee foreigners.

Syafruddin said the police would now be involved in monitoring foreigners, but they would be under the coordination of the chief security office.

The decision to establish such a task force comes following a crackdown on foreigners violating visas in Indonesia in recent months. Data from the Law and Human Rights Ministry's Directorate General of Immigration revealed that in 2016, 7,787 foreigners, 1,837 of whom were Chinese, were punished for violating immigration regulations.

The crackdown has sparked a rumor that 10 million Chinese people have been working illegally in the country. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has repeatedly rebuffed the rumor, which government officials said was aimed at stoking anti-Chinese sentiment in the country and to discredit the current administration.

According to Manpower Ministry data, the total number of foreign workers officially employed in Indonesia as of November 2016 stands at 74,183 people, 21,271 of whom are Chinese.

Manpower Minister M. Hanif Dhakiri asserted that the number of illegal foreign workers in the country was not that significant compared to the official ones, saying that from the crackdown last year, the ministry and relevant authorities had arrested at least 800 foreigners working illegally.

He said his ministry would also intensify its oversight system in accordance to the existing scheme, in which inspections of companies employing foreign workers were carried out both periodically and in response to reports of suspicious activities involving foreigners.

"We will continuously improve our monitoring, but the public should also stop fussing over the matter. It's true that there are problems [related to illegal foreign workers], but don't create a hyperbolic issue over that," Hanif said.

Meanwhile, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly said the significant number of foreign workers in Indonesia, including Chinese, corresponded to the fact that foreign investors in the country's industrial sector wanted their own citizens to also work on the field, as they had special specifications.

"Gradually, there will be location training [by foreigners] so that [Indonesian workers] can take over the factory because technology transfer is required," Yasonna said, adding that a regulation on the matter would be further strengthened under the Industry Ministry domain.

Yasonna further rebuffed suggestions that President Jokowi's signature free-visa policy, which initially aimed to attract 20 million foreign tourists annually by 2019, had contributed to the rising number of illegal foreign workers in the country – those who first entered with tourists visa.

However, Yasonna's office is also set to review the free-visa policy amid concerns that among the 174 countries enjoying Indonesia's visa waiver, there were several small countries that had not contributed to the increasing number of visitors to Indonesia.

Wiranto concurred with Yasonna, saying that an evaluation of the list of countries enjoying the free-visa policy was important to ensure the policy had not opened the door for foreigners to work illegally in the country.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/07/indonesia-to-set-up-a-task-force-to-monitor-the-movement-of-foreigners-.html

Foreign affairs & trade

Setya Novanto may attend Donald Trump inauguration

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – As United States president-elect Donald Trump is set to be inaugurated this month, concerns may revolve around his businesses and political connections with top Indonesian politicians, including House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto.

Setya, the Golkar Party chairman who recently regained the top legislative body post, may attend the inauguration, where Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president, on Jan. 20 at the US Capitol Building. Setya "will likely attend the inauguration", Golkar executive Eni Maulani said on Wednesday. Relations between the two tycoons have raised speculation that Setya's return to the House and Trump's inauguration may solve long-strained problems, like the contract of mining giant Freeport Indonesia.

Setya's and Trump's relations "will definitely affect [the Freeport deal], but whether the affect is significant or not, we don't know yet. Their good relations will not likely be merely ceremonial," said political communication observer Hendri Satrio of Paramadina University.

The copper and gold mine company is a subsidiary of the US-based giant mining firm Freeport McMoRan Inc. The company's contract to continue mining the world's largest gold deposit in Papua will expire in 2021.

Freeport had been seeking the government's approval to extend its contract, but if it complied with the 2010 government regulation on mineral resources and coal operations, it could apply for an extension two years before the expiration date, or in 2019.

US media reported earlier that Trump, the real estate tycoon, had enlisted Carl Icahn, a top shareholder of Freeport-McMoRan, as his special adviser on business regulations.

"Freeport having a smooth way to accelerate its contract extension is not what we want to see happening. The people have given a second chance to Setya, so he'd better not waste it. Their relations [between Setya and Trump] should have good impacts on national interest, not vice versa," Hendri added.

Setya and House deputy speaker Fadli Zon of the Gerindra Party showed up at a campaign event staged by Trump during his visit to the US in September 2015. Trump introduced Setya as a special guest during the event.

Setya, Fadli and Golkar politician Aziz Syamsuddin were in the US to partake in the World Conference of Speakers of Parliament in New York. They met the then US House speaker, John A Boehner, in Washington, DC, and visited Indonesian diaspora living on the country's west coast.

Less than three months after the meeting between the two tycoons, Setya was embroiled in controversy surrounding the extension of Freeport's contract. Setya stepped down from his speakership post, after which Golkar politician Ade Komarudin took over. However, in less than a year, Setya regained his seat.

Politician Ahmad Rofiq, secretary-general of a new party, the United Indonesia Party (Perindo), said party founder Hary Tanoesoedibjo had introduced Setya to Trump, who he said was Hary's long-time acquaintance. The owner of Global Mediacom or the MNC Group aims to seek candidacy in the 2019 presidential election.

Ahmad suggested relations between Hary, Setya and Trump would bring "many advantages" such as the development of resorts, investment, industrial and technological sectors, though he did not elaborate.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/06/setya-novanto-may-attend-donald-trump-inauguration.html

Indonesia revises down export growth target in 2017

Jakarta Post - January 5, 2017

Stefani Ribka, Jakarta – Indonesia revised down its export growth target of non-oil and gas products from 11.9 percent to 5.6 percent due to the slow recovery of global demand.

"Because of the current global economic condition, we've set a realistic target this year of 5.6 percent export growth through more products and country diversification," said Trade Minister Enggartiasto "Enggar" Lukita on Wednesday evening. "We'll approach local businesses to explore more products that can be exported," he added.

With the 5.6 percent export growth target, Indonesia expects to earn US$136.2 billion compared to $129 billion last year. Government-projected exports in 2016 would go down by 14.14 percent to $129 billion from $150.2 billion in 2015, hampered by weak global demand.

From January to November last year, earnings from exports amounted to $130.65 billion, down 5.63 percent from the figure in 2015, although overall trade balance posted a surplus of $7.79 billion, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

Non-oil and gas exports, the largest contributor to overall exports, dropped by 1.96 percent to $118.8 billion during the period.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has anticipated global trade growth to rise moderately at between 1.8 percent and 3.1 percent, lower than its initial estimate in April last year. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/05/indonesia-revises-down-export-growth-target-in-2017.html

Dwell-time target set for two days in 2017

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2017

Jakarta – The government has expressed optimism that it will be able to cut dwell times to two days in 2017 from about 2.9 days in November last year.

"Our dwell time target is two days by the end of this year," said Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution as reported by kontan.com on Wednesday.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed relevant ministries to continue the push for better services at seaports to help smooth the flow of goods.

Darmin stressed that the current dwell time at Tanjung Priok Seaport had improved significantly, saying that in 2012, the average dwell time was still 6.5 days.

To achieve the two-day target, Darmin said, coordination among the relevant ministers should be strengthened, including the implementation of an online system among ministries and other government institutions through the Indonesia National Single Window (INSW).

"Therefore, we agree with the Finance Ministry and Transportation Ministry about strengthening the function of the INSW as an institution," he added.

Previously Transportation Minister Budi Karya said there were three aspects of dwell times at Tanjung Priok: pre-customs clearance of goods, customs clearance and post clearance.

However, the Transportation Ministry said dwell time for certain goods such as explosive materials for the military would be longer than that of other goods because such materials needed longer checks before they were allowed to leave the port. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/04/dwell-time-target-set-for-two-days-in-2017.html

Indonesia's exports to still rely on primary commodities: HSBC

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2017

Winda A. Charmila, Jakarta – Despite Indonesia's efforts to climb up the value chain, the country's exports will remain dependent on primary commodities in the long term, a trade report says.

Until 2020, the country's overseas shipments will be largely dominated by agricultural produce, mineral fuels and raw materials, according to the HSBC Trade Report published last Friday. These types of items will also make up nearly 60 percent of overseas shipments from Southeast Asia's largest economy in the later period from 2021 to 2030.

"Although higher value-added sectors like chemical, industrial, machinery and wood manufactured [commodities] show relatively strong growth over the long term, the top five export goods will continue to reflect Indonesia's traditional strength in the primary sector," the report said.

In a change from the current situation, India and China are set to become Indonesia's top export destinations by 2030, replacing the United States and Japan, it said. At present, China and India are the third and fifth biggest markets for the country's shipments, which mostly comprise coal and palm oil.

The report particularly underlined that India may need mining and primary commodities to support its economic expansion in the next five years.

Indonesia has struggled to rebuild its manufacturing industry since the 1997-1998 financial crisis, before which the sector had always expanded robustly and mostly outpaced the country's economic growth.

Poor infrastructure, expensive energy costs and red tape have been among the major stumbling blocks that have prevented Indonesia from reaching its potential. A commodity boom in the past decade provided leeway to boost exports despite a still weak manufacturing industry.

Indonesia's manufacturing industry expanded only by 4.25 percent last year, which was lower than the economic growth of 4.79 percent, according to the Industry Ministry. It contributed 20.84 percent to gross domestic product (GDP), of which 18.8 percent was generated by the non-oil and gas industry.

In the short term, as commodity prices start to head upward and global demand is on its way to recovery, there will be stronger interest for Indonesia's exports in the next few years, the report said.

Center of Reform on Economics (CORE) Indonesia director Mohammad Faisal said that the export of manufactured goods may remain stagnant in the future, hampered particularly by expensive energy and high logistics costs. Therefore, agricultural products might still become the driver of overseas shipments.

"The downstream agriculture industry must be strengthened because manufactured goods have higher value," Faisal told The Jakarta Post.

Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) economist Latif Adam shared a similar view, saying that agricultural produce would likely dominate exports in the next few years because of its strong presence domestically.

"However, we need to enhance the downstream agriculture industry. It is hoped that we not only export crude palm oil [CPO], for example, but its derivatives, such as margarine or cosmetics," Latif told the Post.

Processed goods, he said, have lower volatility compared to commodities, the prices of which fluctuate according to movement in the international markets.

Separately, the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) said that it aimed to make Indonesia's manufacturing industry a key part of the global supply chain in the future, although it realized that would take a long time.

"By becoming part of the global supply chain, we can reduce our dependence on commodities vulnerable to global price movements," National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said Saturday as quoted by Antara news agency.

The potential industrial sectors that could be fostered include those that are natural-resource, labor-intensive, consumer goods and automotive based, he said.

The HSBC report also noted that similar to the export pattern, Indonesia's import profile would also remain relatively unchanged in the designated time frame.

In total, about three-quarters of all growth in the importation of goods from 2021 until 2030 will be driven by the purchase of chemicals, transportation equipment and machinery.

"Furthermore, Indonesia will continue to import large quantities of petroleum products, despite attempts to encourage local producers to invest in processing plants in Indonesia," the report said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/03/ris-exports-to-still-rely-on-primary-commodities-hsbc.html

Mining & energy

With deadline passed, govt told to revoke problematic mining permits

Jakarta Post - January 5, 2017

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – Provincial governments have to start revoking the existing non-clean and clear (non-CnC) mineral and coal mining permits (IUP) as the continued development by companies and the evaluation period by local governments has passed the deadline of Jan. 2, an activist has said.

The provincial governors then need to resolve the status of the land, especially if the mining activity occurs in a forest area, said Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Indonesia advocacy manager Aryanto Nugroho.

"Closing the non-CnC IUP should not be an endless problem. The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has stepped in to monitor and supervise the evaluation of these permits since three years ago," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

He added that based on KPK data, around 6.3 million hectares of mining sites were located in conservation forest areas.

According to data from the Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) ministry, as of Dec. 20, there were 9,721 IUPs issued by regional governments and 6,335 of those were already CnC, meaning that there were still 3,386 non-CnC IUPs.

In order to obtain CnC status, the permit holders must ensure that its mining area does not overlap with other IUP holders' mining areas and ensure that all of its documents are in line with prevailing laws and regulations. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/05/with-deadline-passed-govt-told-to-revoke-problematic-mining-permits.html

Minister Luhut opposes ease in raw mineral exports

Jakarta Post - January 5, 2017

Rendi A. Witular, Jakarta – Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, whose task covers the supervision of the energy and mining sector, has insisted the government will not offer further relief in the export of raw and partly processed mineral products.

Luhut said there should no longer be any room for such exports, and that the government would stick to fully implementing the 2009 Mining Law as the deadline nears for the total ban on any raw and partly processed mineral products after Jan. 11.

"We have to abide by the mining law," Luhut told The Jakarta Post. "I will meet the President on Friday to discuss the issue."

The comment came as Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said on Wednesday a draft government regulation (PP), which would offer further relief on the exports of certain commodities, had been submitted to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo for immediate approval.

Jonan said he had been closely coordinating with the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister for the passing of the draft, and not with the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs. "There is no need for another meeting [to discuss the draft]. It just needs the President's signature," Jonan said.

The 2009 Mining Law initially included a mineral ore export and concentrate export ban in order to encourage development in the downstream sectors. The law stipulates that mineral ore miners must have completed their smelters by 2014, when the export ban should have been fully put in place. The smelters were expected to bring in added value to the end products, as opposed to exporting ore in its raw form.

However, because none of the proposed smelters had been completed, the deadline was extended to 2017 by then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono when he issued PP No. 1/2014 as an amendment to PP No. 23/2010 on the management of mineral and coal businesses.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/05/minister-luhut-opposes-ease-in-raw-mineral-exports.html

Economy & investment

Indonesia 2016 full-year inflation at 3.02% as prices stable

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2017

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – Indonesia recorded the inflation throughout 2016 reached 3.02 percent, lower than a year earlier at 3.35 percent, as government's controlled prices relatively stable, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

BPS head Suhariyanto said on Tuesday that the monthly inflation in December stood at 0.42 percent, the lowest figure since 2010.

"All of the prices were very controllable during 2016 then we ended up with low inflation," Suhariyanto told reporters during a press conference in Jakarta.

Despite the food ingredient and processed food prices increased by 5.69 and 5.38 percent year-on-year (yoy) respectively in December, the water, electricity and gas prices only rose by 1.90 percent, he added.

Suhariyanto said that the clothing and health prices increased at 3.05 and 3.92 percent yoy. However, the transportation, communication, and financial service costs decreased by 0.72 percent yoy. (dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/03/indonesia-2016-full-year-inflation-at-3-02-percent-as-prices-stable.html

Consumer confidence soars to two-year high

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2017

Jakarta – Consumer confidence rebounded to its highest point in two years, in December, as a result of more positive assessments on the current state of the economy and also its prospects, according to a survey by Danareksa Research Institute (DRI).

The Consumer confidence index (CCI) rose by 2.7 percent to 101.9 points, from a 0.3 percent fall in November, DRI said in a statement on Tuesday.

However, consumers continue to worry about high food prices with 72.6 percent of consumers still citing pressures from the price of food as a major concern – or up from 70.2 percent in November.

Consumers said they expected inflationary pressures to increase over the next six months, which appeared to reflect consumer doubts over the government's ability to stabilize prices.

Although consumers were more upbeat on the overall economic outlook, purchasing intentions for durable goods decreased in December. Based on the survey, 29.87 percent of consumers expressed plans to purchase a durable good over the next six months, down from 30.97 percent in the previous month.

The survey is based on a representative sample of at least 1,700 households across six diverse areas through face-to-face interviews.

Sampling for the nationwide survey uses a scientific method to accurately represent Indonesian consumer characteristics, demographically and economically.

Consumer confidence is designed to measure the mood of consumers toward consumption, and thus help to predict buying patterns. (ren)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/03/consumer-confidence-soars-to-two-year-high.html

Tanah Abang more important than stock market: VP

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2017

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – Vice President Jusuf Kalla highlighted on Tuesday the importance of the real economy in ordinary markets, pledging more government support to have businesses in these trading centers become more vibrant.

Speaking to stock market investors, Kalla said the Tanah Abang market in Central Jakarta, the biggest textile trading center in Southeast Asia, was more important than the "stock market" at the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX).

"Tanah Abang market, Senen market (in Central Jakarta) are real sectors. After these sectors thrive, people will then go invest their money in the stock market," Kalla said during the opening of the first trading day of the year at the IDX building in South Jakarta.

To boost such markets, Kalla continued, the government and the central bank would focus on creating an environment of low interest rates and improve infrastructure and regulatory framework.

However, even as Bank Indonesia (BI) has taken a new policy to reduce interest rates, other banks were still reluctant to follow. Interest rates for working capital in small businesses, for example, still hovers above 12 percent a year.

"We have to lower the interest rate more if we want to see the economy at the grassroots [level] kick in," Kalla said. (ren)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/03/tanah-abang-more-important-than-stock-market-vp.html

Banking & finance

Hole found in Indonesia tax amnesty

Jakarta Post - January 5, 2017

Prima Wirayani and Fedina S. Sundaryani, Jakarta – The lower-than-expected amount of repatriated funds has left a gaping hole in the Indonesian government's flagship tax amnesty, threatening participants with serious consequences.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's call in a television commercial urging taxpayers to bring overseas assets back home to develop the country, seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

The latest data shows taxpayers have remained reluctant to repatriate their assets, even after they expressed their commitment to do so in the first and second phases of the tax amnesty, which ended in September and December, respectively.

According to the Directorate General of Taxation, Rp 141 trillion (US$10.46 billion)-worth of assets had been promised to be repatriated before Dec. 31. The committed amount itself is far lower than the Rp 1 quadrillion initially targeted.

However, data from the Financial Services Authority (OJK) – which oversees the banking industry as the party that receives the repatriated funds – revealed that only 63.5 percent or Rp 89.6 trillion of the committed amount had entered the domestic financial system and most of the funds had been recorded as "cash and cash equivalents".

The government is not happy with the result, as it wishes to see massive fund repatriation and the money directed toward the financial markets and real sector to move the economy because the state budget remains cash-strapped.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati confirmed there would be consequences for tax amnesty participants who had committed to repatriating their wealth, but failed to do so.

"If the participants said they would repatriate their wealth [but didn't deliver by the end of the deadline], I will consult with the taxation director general on whether [their failure] would nullify their asset declaration," she said at the Bogor Palace in West Java on Wednesday.

Another option for the government would be to acknowledge their repatriation commitment and include it in the third and final phase that would end in March, meaning the participants would face a higher penalty rate of 5 percent, instead of 2 to 3 percent set in the first and second phases. "This is if they still wish to repatriate their wealth," she added.

Tax office spokesperson Hestu Yoga Saksama said it would implement Article 13 of the Tax Amnesty Law and treat the participants' assets as income obtained in 2016, subjecting them to regular income tax and to a 2 percent penalty per month for a maximum of 24 months since Jan. 1.

Commenting on the fund gap, Yoga argued the tax office had not established an online monitoring system and relied on data from 21 banks that had been appointed to manage the repatriation.

"We only received a monthly report from the banks," he said, adding that it would receive their full reports on the first and second stages on Thursday.

Meanwhile, University of Indonesia economic professor Ari Kuncoro said attracting the funds back home was not an easy task as they were not idle funds. Instead, they are used as venture capitals and invested in various instruments, such as time deposits and equities.

"It's not easy converting and transferring them to Indonesia. If for example their investment contracts are terminated, they will have to face penalties. So they may think it's better to just declare the assets," he said.

Center of Reform on Economics (CORE) Indonesia director Mohammad Faisal said the discrepancy between the data on tax office's dashboard and realized amount could jeopardize the office's credibility, which is already at stake in the eyes of the public.

Separately, business tycoon Sofjan Wanandi said he had checked with his colleagues and most of them had repatriated their assets.

"I believe more than 90 percent [of the repatriation amount] has entered [the country]," said Sofjan, who is chief economic adviser to Vice President Jusuf Kalla and the prime initiator of the amnesty. "Those who have yet to repatriate [their assets] will be imposed a penalty and they, for sure, don't expect that," he added.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/05/hole-found-in-indonesia-tax-amnesty.html

2016 state revenue collection 86.9 percent of target

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2017

Grace D. Amianti, Jakarta – The government collected only 86.9 percent of the revenue targeted in the 2016 state budget as a result of a weak economy.

Revenue collection reached Rp 1.55 quadrillion (US$115.1 billion) by the end of last year, lower than the Rp 1.78 quadrillion set in the 2016 state budget, according to Finance Ministry data.

Tax revenue collection reached 83.4 percent of the Rp 1.53 quadrillion target. However, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said collected revenue was 3.5 percent higher than the 2015 figure, thanks to a 14 percent increase in non-oil and gas income tax.

"Tax amnesty penalty payments contributed Rp 107 trillion to the revenue. Without the tax amnesty, non-oil and gas income tax would have been 4.9 percent lower," she said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, spending reached Rp 1.85 quadrillion, equal to 89.3 percent of the Rp 2.08 quadrillion set in the 2016 state budget. Spending by ministries and other government institutions reached 88.3 percent of the target, but 100.8 percent of the 2015 figure.

The Joko "Jokowi" Widodo administration introduced austerity measures last year through a Rp 137 trillion state budget cut in early August and called for efficiency measures in less important spending. The budget deficit by the end of 2016 stood at 2.46 percent, higher than the target of 2.35 percent. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/03/2016-state-revenue-collection-86-9-percent-of-target.html

Central Bank keeps redenomination hope alive

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2017

Prima Wirayani, Jakarta – Bank Indonesia (BI) still remains hopeful that a redenomination bill will be deliberated by the House of Representatives this year, even if the chance of that happening seems to be slim.

"It seems the bill can't be included in the 2017 Prolegnas [National Legislation Program] deliberation," BI Governor Agus Martowardojo said during a discussion in the 2017 first trading day opening ceremony at the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) building in South Jakarta on Tuesday.

"But we remember that the bill has 18 articles only so if during the sitting period two bills have been completely deliberated, we can probably propose [deliberation of the redenomination bill]."

Agus previously urged President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to support the passing of the redenomination bill in a bid to make rupiah denominations simpler and more efficient. Jokowi said the bill should have been included as a priority item in the 2017 Prolegnas.

Plans to slash three zeroes off the local currency have been floated around by the previous government since 2013. However, the deliberation by the House was postponed in 2014 due to an unfavorable economic situation. "Now, the economic situation has already improved," Agus said. "We hope it can be rediscussed." (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/03/central-bank-keeps-redenomination-hope-alive.html

Analysis & opinion

Indonesia restores military ties with Australia after latest neighbourly

The Conversation - January 6, 2017

Yohanes Sulaiman – The Indonesian government has confirmed that it will not suspend military cooperation with Australia after a top general said earlier in the week that ties between the two nations would be cut. The incident is just the latest episode in a rocky relationship between the neighbours.

On January 4, Indonesian Military Chief Gatot Nurmantyo declared the suspension of Indonesia-Australia military cooperation, apparently because an Indonesian special forces commander trainer found materials at an Australian teaching facility that were insulting to both the Indonesian military and the state's ideology of Pancasila.

Pancasila, from the Sanskrit word for "five", panca, and the Javanese for "principles", sila, is the name given to the official founding principles of the Indonesian state. The principles are: "The one God system (monotheism), just and civilised humanity, the unity of Indonesia, democracy and social justice for all."

The incident is part of the ups and downs of the Indonesia-Australia diplomatic and military relationship that dates back to 1945 when Indonesia first declared independence from both Japan, which had occupied the country in 1942 and the Dutch, who had colonised it in the 18th century.

Neighbourhood blues

In September 1945, Australian waterside workers imposed "a black ban" on all Dutch ships destined for Indonesia in Australian ports. Later, Australian government showed sympathy for its northern neighbour in the Dutch-Indonesia conflict, even while officially maintaining impartiality.

Since then, however, the relationship between Australia and Indonesia has been rocky at times, depending on what Australia has perceived to be in its national interest. Australian public opinion opposed Indonesia's desire to incorporate West Papua into the nation in the 1950s, for instance, and a low-level separatist conflict continues in the province.

Australia initially supported Indonesia's invasion of East Timor, but after the fall of president Suharto in 1998, then-Australian prime minister John Howard proposed a referendum on the issue of independence for East Timor.

This led to the secession of East Timor from Indonesia. And the violence that ensued led Australia to send troops to East Timor under the auspices of the United Nations' INTERFET (International Force East Timor).

Defence cooperation between Australia and Indonesia has improved drastically since then: both countries need each other. For Australia, Indonesia is an important nation for its security and economic objectives as the country is its gateway to Asia.

Indonesia, on the other hand, needs Australia as a strategic partner to modernise and further professionalise its military forces. Every year, Indonesia sends more than a hundred officers to Australia for training and education.

Yet the distrust engendered by Australia's intervention in East Timor lingers, and remains the root of current problems in the nations' relationship. It still hovers in the background despite improvements in economic, military, and diplomatic relationship.

Hidden agendas?

General Gatot Nurmantyo is the perfect embodiment of this lack of trust. In March 2015, for instance, he suggested that Australia's meddling in East Timor's secession from Indonesia was part of a proxy war to secure oil.

In December 2016, he ominously warned of Australia's desire to take over the Masela Oil Block, which is close to Timor-Leste (as East Timor has been called since gaining independence) and Darwin. He also noted that Indonesia is currently surrounded by Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia, which all of which used to have problems with Indonesia.

Many Indonesians share similar discomfort, though it might not as extreme as General Nurmantyo's. Despite assurances from both US President Obama and Australia's then-prime minister Julia Gillard that the goal of stationing 2,500 US troops in Darwin from 2017 was to counter China – and not to threaten Indonesia or the Southeast Asian region generally – many Indonesians still believe there's a hidden agenda concerning both US and Australian interest in Indonesia's abundant natural resources and Papua.

Given this background, it should be no surprise that a homework assignment for an Indonesian Special Forces language student to write an essay supporting the argument "Papua should have independence because it was part of Melanesia" would touch a raw nerve.

It confirmed General Nurmantyo's worst expectations about Australia's intentions, including that Indonesian officers training in Australia would be indoctrinated and recruited as spies.

Contradictory messages

At the same time, General Nurmantyo's reaction caught other Indonesians completely off guard. Indonesian military's spokesman, Major General Wuryanto, for instance, stated that the reason for the temporary freeze was technical matters (masalah teknis) and not due to insulting Pancasila.

Even the normally nationalistic Indonesian Defence Minister, Ryamizard Ryacudu, played down the incident, saying that it was an isolated personal act that the Australian government had regretted. And he noted that Australia had apologised for the incident, which actually happened in mid-December 2016.

To add to the confusion, a tweet from the presidential staff office suggested that the temporary halting of the military cooperation between Australia and Indonesia was only on joint training, education, officer exchange, and official visits.

Later, however, in a letter that was followed by a press conference by Wiranto, the Coordinating Ministry for Politics, Law, and Security, stressed that the relationship freeze was limited only to language courses.

It seems from the different responses of several government ministers that General Nurmantyo's decision to halt the military cooperation was abrupt, and that it came without any warning or coordination with other ministers – or even the military's own spokesman.

The relationship between Australia and Indonesia is clearly very important for the Indonesian government, given the response to General Nurmantyo's announcement. It would have been simple for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the rest of the cabinet to simply reaffirm what General Nuryantyo had proclaimed. But they value Indonesian-Australian military ties, and so Jokowi and the rest of the cabinet went into damage control mode to limit the fallout.

Finally, the incident shows that trust between Australia and Indonesia remains fragile, since a language class writing assignment could cause such an outrage. Indonesia's wounds from East Timor's secession are clearly still very raw.

Coupled with the uproar over revelations in 2013 that Australia wiretapped then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2009, which led to suspension of cooperation between the two countries, it shouldn't be surprising that Indonesia remains wary of Australia's intentions.

Clearly, both the Australian and Indonesian governments still have a lot of homework to do to build trust between their nations.

[Yohanes Sulaiman is a visting Lecturer in International Relations and Political Science at Indonesian Defense University & Lecturer, Universitas Jendral Achmad Yani.]

Source: https://theconversation.com/indonesia-restores-military-ties-with-australia-after-latest-neighbourly-dispute-70913

Editorial Canberra and Jakarta rift must urgently be repaired

The Australian - January 6, 2017

Bilateral relationships as important as that between Jakarta and Canberra deserve better than the brouhaha surrounding the unilateral action by Indonesia's army chief, General Gatot Nurmantyo, in suspending military ties with Australia. The disjointed and contradictory statements that have accompanied the move – amid firm indications President Joko Widodo was not even aware what his military chief had done – does not do Indonesia and its governing processes any credit.

It remains unclear what provoked General Gatot to take the action that he did. He is a long-time critic of Australia and the Australian military, and if there were issues about West Papua raised by teaching material supplied to an Indonesian Kopassus special forces officer training at a defence base in Perth, the Indonesian military chief seems to have been keen to exploit them to the full.

General Gatot has admitted he received a statement of regret from the Australian military for whatever happened in Perth. Yet he has sought to conflate the issue further into one that includes his concern about the rotation of US marines through Darwin which, he has pointed out, is close to West Papua and Indonesia's giant gas block. He also has raised issues about the alleged recruitment by Australia of Indonesian officers as informers.

Added to the mix are claims that an Indonesian officer on the training course in Perth was offended by a poster that allegedly ridiculed his country's founding five principles, the Pancasila. Reports also suggest the Indonesian military's action is linked to Wikipedia references to the father-in-law of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his controversial military service in West Papua. How this can relate to Australia in 2017 is unclear.

The deeper mystery lies, however, in what appears to be General Gatot's initiative in acting unilaterally to suspend military relations – or, rather, some aspects of them – without reference to Mr Joko or even Indonesia's Defence Minister, Ryamizard Ryacudu. Mr Joko's spokesman, Johan Budi, was emphatic in saying, "This was not a decision of the President," while Mr Ryamizard emphasised that "relations with Australia are going great". However, Mr Joko said yesterday he supported the decision to suspend military ties as a "matter of principle". This statement underscores the difficulty the relationship is in. There is no doubt that, for whatever reason, General Gatot has sought to exploit events for his own ends.

We understand the political challenge Mr Joko has in navigating this crisis. For reasons of domestic politics, he must not appear weak in relation to Australia. He will be mindful of concerns raised by General Gatot and Mr Ryamizard, although the military has clearly overstepped the bounds of its authority.

Amid this confusion, it is imperative that Defence Minister Marise Payne and our senior military leaders move swiftly to provide Jakarta with the information and assurances that will repair whatever damage has been done to the bilateral relationship.

Ms Payne says she has known about the matter since November and appears to have relied largely on senior Australian Defence Force officers to deal with it. An official report by Defence has not been completed, although The Australian understands Chief of Army Angus Campbell will visit Jakarta to convey the results.

This bilateral relationship deserves our closest attention. We have been able to deal with previous crises because of the underlying strength and depth of the relationship. Edward Snowden's disclosure about attempts by our Defence Signals Directorate to carry out surveillance of president Yudhoyono, his wife and his advisers posed a bigger threat to relations in 2013 than anything that conceivably could have happened at the Perth training base last year. Indeed, bilateral ties survived it and were soon restored to the mutually beneficial warmth that had long underpinned them. Similarly, tensions over the East Timor crisis in 1999 and the suspension of the live cattle trade in 2011 were soon overcome. So, too, was the fallout following the executions of members of the Bali Nine in 2015.

What is needed now is similar maturity and good sense to avoid a major new rupture in relations. Australia must do what it can to speedily smooth whatever ruffled feathers there are. But it is no less incumbent on Indonesia to do the same and deal decisively with whatever internal pressures and motivations lie behind General Gatot taking the action that he did. It is in the interests of both Australia and Indonesia that cool heads prevail and there is a swift restoration of full military co-operation without delay.

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/editorials/canberra-and-jakarta-rift-must-urgently-be-repaired/news-story/3b9c30e17f69ae8f937198457c3cb8a7

The case of reading and preserving Indonesian literature

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2017

Theo Kalangi, Jakarta – In March 2016, a study conducted by Central Connecticut State University (CCTU) entitled "Most Literate Nation of the World" placed Indonesia as the 60th most literate nation out of 61 nations on the list, above only Botswana, and below fellow ASEAN member Thailand. A survey by UNESCO in 2012 records that only one out of 1000 people in Indonesia have an interest in reading. It might sound meagre enough, but what if we ask this next question: how many of the 0.1 percent read books that were written by an Indonesian author?

In most developed countries, especially English-speaking countries, high school students are taught to read books, being exposed to the work of English literature greats like Mark Twain and Shakespeare and encouraged to enjoy and find fun in reading literature. However, in Indonesia, this practice is rare or not practiced at all. Yes, we are taught about the history of Indonesian literature and the periods that divide the styles of literature in Indonesia, but we are not given time to read in class nor are we properly taught to read and appreciate the works of our own people.

To find out whether Indonesians are knowledgeable about their own literature, the Aksaranesia (Aku Suka Sastra Indonesia; I like Indonesian literature) Campaign conducted a survey by asking basic questions about well-known Indonesian literary works. The team specifically targeted the younger generation in the age group of 15-25 during Car Free Day Jakarta and in two universities in Jakarta.

Based on those surveys and quizzes, it found that Indonesian youngsters are not entirely aware of Indonesian literature. None of the respondents got a perfect score, and most are not even familiar with some of the names of the writers being mentioned. Even a simple question like "name three Indonesian books" was difficult to answer. On top of that, it was easier for them to answer questions about English books instead.

Did our writers not provide the readers with top class quality options to read? Should the writers be partly blamed for this? In 2015, when Indonesia became the guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the biggest book fair in the world, Dewi "Dee" Lestari was invited to represent the Indonesian literature circle. Germany, ranked 8th in the aforementioned CCTU study, has been on the receiving end of some translated Indonesian works, including from the likes of Andrea Hirata, Ayu Utami and iconic figure Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who has received global attention since the 1970s. Such accolades should be enough proof of the quality of Indonesian writers.

Aksaranesia Campaign later interviewed Reza Pahlevi, the writer of the book (Ex)perience and an internet celebrity, and asked his opinion on the preservation of Indonesian literature. He said, "Once you've written in online blog platforms, there's really no problem if you want to send your script to a publisher. It allows your creation to be preserved in physical form. In addition, we will have even more original Indonesian writers, which allows us to compete with other writers globally."

Literature is an art form of language, with words as its tools. Indonesian people are well known for their high level of appreciation of any form of art, but the very basic form of art in literature has started to be cast aside. But has Indonesian literature really been left behind? This brings us to the next question: Is it too late to catch up? (kes)

[Theo Kalangi, born in Manado on July 1st 1992. Exposed himself to literature at the early age of 7, a gamble he took to live abroad in Germany for about 4 years deepens his love to his country's literature. Currently continuing his study in Public Relations major in Jakarta.]


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