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Indonesia News Digest 3 – January 16-22, 2017

West Papua Human rights & justice Sexual & domestic violence Freedom of speech & expression Political parties & elections Blasphemy & the Jakarta elections Surveys & opinion polls Mass organisations & NGOs Internet & social media Environment & natural disasters Lgbt & same-sex Marriage Refugees & asylum seekers Graft & corruption Terrorism & religious extremism Hard-line & vigilante groups Islam & religion Sex, pornography & morality Agriculture & food security Land & agrarian conflicts Film & television Armed forces & defense National security & intelligence Foreign affairs & trade Mining & energy Infrastructure & development Economy & investment Banking & finance Analysis & opinion

West Papua

How Russia helped Indonesia annex Western New Guinea

Russia Beyond the Headlines (RBTH) - January 21, 2017

Ajay Kamalakaran – The USSR supported the anti-colonial movement across Asia, and was drawn to Sukarno's quest to liberate the entire East Indies from Dutch rule. Moscow's arming and open support of Jakarta forced the Netherlands to come to the negotiating table.

Unlike the peaceful freedom struggles in British colonies that eventually gave way to the independence and the formation of new nation states, Indonesia had to fight the Netherlands in a four-year war to attain independence.

By December 1949, Holland recognized Indonesian sovereignty over the Dutch East Indies, with the exception of the western part of New Guinea (Papua), arguing that the island and its tribes had their own distinct culture.

Indonesian President Sukarno, who led the country to independence, made it his personal mission to liberate Western New Guinea from Dutch rule.

"It was a futile effort at first," Clarice Van den Hengel, a researcher and Indonesia specialist based in The Hague told RBTH. "Initially, the Americans who had formed NATO backed the Netherlands, and Stalin did not care about distant Indonesia."

Sukarno's efforts to liberate Western New Guinea began with an effort to launch direct bilateral negotiations with the Netherlands. When this failed, Indonesia tried to drum up support in the United Nations General Assembly. This also proved to be in vain.


In 1956 Sukarno, who had strong socialist leanings, paid his first visit to Moscow. He took up the dispute with the Netherlands, which was then called the West Irian Dispute. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev who supported anti-colonial movements in Asia and Africa was quick to announce his support for Indonesia's position, which at that time centered on getting support at the UN.

Moscow also began arming the Indonesia armed forces. From the late 1950s until Sukarno was forced to step down in 1966, the USSR supplied Indonesia with one cruiser, 14 destroyers, eight anti submarine patrol vessels, 20 missile boats and several motor torpedo boats and gunboats as well as armored and amphibious vehicles, helicopters and bombers.

"The equation completely changed when Indonesia was armed by the Russians," Van den Hengel says. "The Dutch had already lost a war to the Indonesians and were in no position to deal with an Indonesian army equipped with modern arms."

Emboldened by the supply of arms from the Soviet Union, Indonesia began a policy of confrontation with the Dutch in 1960.

Subandrio meets Khrushchev

The confrontation involved a combination of diplomatic, political and economic pressure and limited military force.

The final stage however called for a full-scale military invasion, a risky proposition that would have forced the Americans to intervene and help their NATO ally.

During the peak of the confrontation, Sukarno's Foreign Minister Subandrio, who was fluent in Russian, flew to Moscow to court Soviet support.

Nikita Khrushchev described the events leading up to the confrontation in his memoirs. "I asked Subandrio: 'What are the chances that an agreement (with the Dutch) could be successfully reached,'" Khruschev wrote.

"He answered: 'Not very great.' I said: 'If the Dutch fail to display sober-mindedness and engage in military operations, this is a war that could to some extent serve as a proving ground for our pilots who are flying planes equipped with missiles. We'll see how our missiles work.'"

Although Moscow's support of the Indonesian position was clear and openly stated, this particular conversation between Khrushchev and Subandrio was meant to be confidential. The Indonesian Foreign Minister, according to Khrushchev's memoirs, revealed everything to the Americans, who were not keen to have another crisis that could spiral into a World War.

"This was the death-knell for the Dutch rule over Western New Guinea," Van den Hengel says. "Besides wanting to avoid a direct conflict with the Soviet Union, the U.S. did not want to look like it was supporting a European colonizer against a newly independent third world country."

Under American pressure, in August 1962, the Netherlands agreed to hand over Western New Guinea to a United Nations Authority, which passed on administration of the territory to Indonesia in 1963.

After a plebiscite in 1969, Western New Guinea was integrated into Indonesia. The results of the plebiscite, though disputed by some western observers, were accepted by the United States, USSR and Australia, as well as 81 other members of the United Nations.

The Dutch cultivated a group of people who would oppose the integration of the region with Indonesia. These elements formed a still-active separatist movement in Western New Guinea.

Source: http://rbth.com/international/2017/01/21/how-russia-helped-indonesia-annex-western-new-guinea_685151

Indonesian military to build naval base in Papua

Jakarta Post - January 20, 2017

Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said his side planned to improve the distribution of personnel across the country's territories, especially in the eastern part of Indonesia, including in Papua.

"We hope military personnel and military bases are no longer concentrated around Java, but also in the border areas so that those [bases] help create new economic centers and trigger development," Gatot was quoted as saying by Antara on Thursday at TNI headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta.

When asked to give further details about the plan, Gatot said the TNI would focus on distributing naval personnel first, while the expansion of Army and Air Force bases had yet to be planned.

"Currently, the TNI has only been focused on [developing] the Eastern Fleet. We need to establish a new fleet in Papua," Gatot added.

Currently, the TNI has the Eastern Fleet based in Surabaya and Western Fleet in Jakarta. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/20/indonesian-military-to-build-naval-base-in-papua.html

Organisations petition Australia

Vanuatu Daily Post - January 20, 2017

Len Garae – The five most prominent Ni-Vanuatu charitable organisations in the country led by the Vanuatu Free West Papua Association (VFWPA), have petitioned the Australian Government to "stop killing Melanesian people in West Papua" by way of providing financial support and military training for Indonesian Elite Kopassus and Detachment 88.

The training programme is made possible under the Australia/Indonesia bilateral military cooperation.

The petition was signed by the Chairman of VFWPA, Pastor Allan Nafuki, President of the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, Chief Seni Mao Tirsupe, Chief Executive Officer of the Vanuatu National Council of Women, Leias Cullwick, Chief Executive Officer of Vanuatu Non-Government Organisations, Charlie Harrison and President of Vanuatu National Youth Council, Vira Taivakalo.

The petition says the decision has come at the right time to support and encourage all the West Papua Solidarity Groups in Australia to change the heart of the Australian Government to "stop the killing of Melanesian brothers and sisters in West Papua".

The petition describes Melanesians as "the most hated ethnic group in the world" saying, "... the Australian Government should have learned and repented from the past barbarous treatment our forefathers received during the black birding and slave-trade era".

In the true spirit of solidarity and partnership with all the Pacific Civil Society Organisations and the people of Vanuatu:

The Chairman of VFWPA says the First Secretary Head of Political and Economic Unit, Sonya Gray attended the signing ceremony at the PCV Office yesterday.

The Chairman read the petition in her presence then handed her a copy to deliver to the Australian High Commissioner.

The First Secretary said thank you and assured the petitioners with words to the effect that the Australian Government, like Vanuatu, does not support all forms of mistreatment of all colonised peoples but that at the same time respects Indonesia's sovereignty.

Source: http://dailypost.vu/news/organisations-petition-australia/article_4588f732-3c55-57b2-93f1-b9d13bfabeba.html

Army to develop 500 ha rice fields in Nabire, Papua

Antara News - January 16, 2017

Jayapura, Papua – The Indonesian military plans to develop rice fields in the remote district of Nabire in the country's eastern province of Papua this year.

The chief of the District Military Command 1705/Paniai in Papua, Lt. Col. Jerry Harapan Tua Simatupang, confirmed here on Sunday that the project was a cooperation project between TNI (the military) and the ministry of agriculture to increase food self-sufficiency especially in Papua.

He said several military officials from the command along with Trubus farmer's group chief and a number of farmers inspected the area to be used for the project last week. "The area spreads in Wanggar Sari village (80 hectares), Wiraska (57 ha), Wami (60 ha), Waroki (25 ha) and Maiday (108 ha)," he explained.

Simatupang said the inspection was needed to see possible hurdles that might be met during development process including irrigation issue. "I will deploy all members of the community development unit to mentor the farmers with regard to achieving a maximum harvest," he said.(*)

Source: http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/108952/army-to-develop-500-ha-rice-fields-in-nabire-papua

Human rights & justice

Victims, human rights activists observe 10th anniversary of Kamisan in 5

Jakarta Post - January 19, 2017

Jakarta – The families of human rights violation victims grouped under the Solidarity Network of Victims for Justice (JSKK) commenced silent protests every Thursday in front of the State Palace in Jakarta on Jan. 18, 2007, and after 10 years the network has expanded its efforts with the 10th anniversary of the weekly protests being observed in five cities on Jan. 19.

Called Kamisan for Kamis or Thursday, the protests are known for their silence, black attire and black umbrellas.

In 10 years the protests have survived two administrations, that of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, but their demand, to end impunity, has been largely unheard by the government.

Among the victims and activists who have been dedicated to showing up nearly every Thursday, 476 times since the start of the protests, in Jakarta are victims of violence during the turmoil in 1996 to 1998. The silent protests take a week off when Thursday falls on a national holiday.

In Jakarta, a commemoration and the 477th Kamisan will be held at the usual spot, in the State Palace vicinity in Central Jakarta at 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/19/victims-human-rights-activists-observe-10th-anniversary-of-kamisan-in-5-cities.html

Vacancies for Komnas HAM commissioner posts draw little interest

Jakarta Post - January 19, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – Only three Indonesian citizens have applied for commissioner posts with the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) since the application period began almost a month ago.

Selection team member Zumrotin K. Susilo, who is also a prominent rights activist, expressed disappointment with the lack of interest in positions that have been vacant since Dec. 22.

Komnas HAM is looking for dedicated citizens with a high standard of ethics to lead Indonesia's human rights protection efforts.

"From our experience as the selection team, candidates often apply only in the last week before the deadline," Zumrotin told The Jakarta Post in the selection team's visit on Thursday.

As announced on the commission's website, komnasham.go.id, the deadline for submitting applications is Feb. 22.

"We want to remind people who want to make changes to Komnas HAM, and those who have integrity and dreams for a better performance of the body, to please register themselves as candidates," said Zumrotin, who served as Komnas HAM commissioner from 2002 until 2007.

Citing her experience, she further said that figures who had the integrity and commitment to empower the rights body often felt reluctant to apply as a commissioners because of political interests, as often shown by the House of Representatives during screening processes.

Like members of other government-related bodies, Komnas HAM commissioner candidates must undergo a fit-and-proper test organized by the House's legal affairs commission, which has the final say in the recruitment process.

"The selection at the House involves too much politics. That's why we have often failed to get competent commissioners. We hope the House members in the future will screen the candidates with objectivity and not politicize the process," Zumrotin said.

Currently, Komnas HAM has 13 commissioners who were inaugurated in 2013. Internal fighting over leadership and facilities has drawn nationwide attention. Komnas HAM was again under the public spotlight earlier this year because of budget irregularities allegedly involving one of its commissioners, Dianto Bachriadi. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/19/vacancies-for-komnas-ham-commissioner-posts-draw-little-interest.html

Victims of rights violations decry government's silence, inaction

Jakarta Post - January 18, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – Victims and the families of victims of gross human rights violations gathered at the Judicial Commission building on Wednesday to scrutinize the challenges that have hampered their plea to be heard by the government.

After 10 years of staging a silent protest by holding black umbrellas across from the Presidential Palace every Thursday, an end to the prolonged cases of human rights violations in the country, which has always been promised by presidential candidates, is nowhere in sight.

"Do we still have hope after all that has happened?" Suciwati Munir, the widow of prominent rights activist Munir Said Thalib asked in her opening remarks.

"We have a minister who is implicated in a gross violation of human rights, and the President seems to have sided with the violators," she said, referring to Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto.

The meeting on Wednesday also invited government officials as well as lawmakers working on law and human rights affairs, however only a few attended the discussion. Representatives of state institutions included Ifdhal Kasim from the Presidential Office and Nur Kholis from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM). (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/18/victims-of-rights-violations-decry-govts-silence-inaction.html

Lack of applicable solutions hampers Jokowi's efforts to resolve past

Jakarta Post - January 18, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The absence of an appropriate mechanism to resolve past human rights abuses has hampered President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's efforts to realize his commitment to tackle the sensitive issue, an official has said.

Ifdhal Kasim from the Office of the Presidential Staff told victims of rights abuses and their relatives on Wednesday that the Presidential Palace was still receiving input on how best to resolve cases of gross human rights violations in the past.

The former head of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) asserted that President Jokowi would prioritize law enforcement and human rights promotion and protection in his third year after focusing on infrastructure development in his first two years.

"We are searching for ways that are applicable [to solving rights abuses] that will be endorsed to the President," Ifdhal said. "We haven't obtained a final and optimal formula to deal with the matter".

Jokowi's administration has faced strong criticism from victims of past rights abuses and their relatives as well as human rights campaigners since the first day of his term, following his controversial move to give individuals implicated in past abuses positions in his administration.

They include former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) head AM Hendropriyono, who is accused of being involved in the 1989 Talangsari massacre and the murder of prominent human rights activist Munir Said Thalib. Such criticism grew significantly after he appointed Wiranto, who is implicated in forced disappearances of pro-democracy activists, as coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister.

Other unresolved cases Jokowi repeatedly promised to resolve during his presidential campaign include the Trisakti University shootings, the Semanggi I and Semanggi II student shootings in 1998 and 1999, the mysterious killings of alleged criminals in the 1980s, the anti-communist massacres of 1965 and various abuses that took place in Wasior and Wamena in Papua in 2001 and 2003. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/18/lack-of-applicable-solutions-hampers-jokowis-efforts-to-resolve-past-abuses-official.html

Police most reported for alleged rights violations in 2016: Komnas HAM

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2017

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has revealed that of all institutions, the police were implicated in the highest number of human rights violation cases in 2016.

"Throughout 2016, Komnas HAM received 7,188 reports related to alleged human rights violations. From that report, the police were reported 2,290 times, the highest figure among all institutions," Komnas HAM chairman Imdadun Rahmat said during a year-end report presentation at the commission's office in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The second and third place went to corporations and regional administrations with 1,030 and 931 reports, respectively, Imdadun said.

He added that most of the reports were related to violations of welfare and justice rights, such as a case in July when police officers surrounded a Papuan student dormitory in Yogyakarta to prevent residents from attending an event organized by the People's Union for West Papua Freedom (PRPPB). The police also reportedly prevented an Indonesian Red Cross ambulance from delivering food to the dormitory.

Komnas HAM commissioner Nur Khoiron said the commission would continue cooperation with the police in an attempt to push the institution to be more human-rights friendly in carrying out its duty.

"We have conducted some activities including launching a human rights pocket book for police officers and conducting a general lecture about rights principles for students at the Police Higher Education College (PTIK)," he said. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/17/police-most-reported-for-alleged-rights-violations-in-2016-komnas-ham.html

Sexual & domestic violence

Rights commission calls for abolition of chemical castration plan for

Jakarta Post - January 18, 2017

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – The government needs to re-evaluate the possible use of chemical castration on those who commit sex crimes against children, as regulated in the newly passed 2016 Child Protection Law, which will be used for the first time to try an underage rape case in Sorong, Papua, a human rights activist has said.

National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) chair Imdadun Rahmat said that although rape was a disgraceful act, the government needed to conduct a thorough review as to whether chemical castration would deter rapists and stop people from committing the heinous crime.

"Komnas HAM believes that chemical castration is against the principle of human rights. We believe that there are still many other alternative, more humane punishments," he said on the sidelines of the rights body's year-end press conference in Jakarta, Tuesday.

He made the statement in response to growing concern as to whether such a harsh punishment would be justifiable used against the three suspects of the alleged rape and murder of a young child in Sorong.

The toddler was found dead in a mud hole in a swamp near the Domine Osok Airport runway in Sorong last Tuesday after she had been reported missing.

The Sorong Police found indications that the three suspects, identified as Donald Wanggaimo, Lewi Gogoba and Nando Kinombae, were the victim's neighbors. They allegedly kidnapped her while her parents were not at home. Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Yembise has called on law enforcers to implement the 2016 Child Protection Law as a deterrent.

Yohana, who visited Sorong in the aftermath of the tragedy, said the police had agreed with her suggestion to use the law amid mounting calls from local residents for the suspects to receive the harshest possible punishment if proven guilty. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/18/rights-commission-calls-for-abolition-of-chemical-castration-plan-for-rapists.html

Freedom of speech & expression

Government is not becoming authoritarian: Wiranto

Jakarta Globe - January 19, 2017

Jakarta – Chief Security Minister Wiranto has expressed certainty that the current administration will not become an authoritarian regime.

Wiranto said that the legal process against Rizieq Shihab of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and other vigilantes shows that the government under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla has a firm stance on law enforcement and the need to protect democratic values.

"If harsher measures are taken by the government, it does not mean that it becomes an authoritarian regime," Wiranto said in Jakarta on Wednesday (18/01).

"I can guarantee that the Jokowi-Kalla administration will not become authoritarian. However, firm law enforcement is needed to maintain democracy," he added.

Wiranto said that law enforcement is necessary to create a balance between the citizens' freedom and the supremacy of law, as lately some groups have felt more superior than the powers that be.

The former military chief referred to numerous rallies held recently by several mass organizations. While to demonstrate and express dissatisfaction is a constitutional right, the protesters must not break the law.

"Protests are allowed, but there are regulations. If these regulations are violated, surely the authorities will react," Wiranto said.

The most recent mass rally was held outside the National Police headquarters in Jakarta on Monday (16/01) by FPI members, who called on National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian to sack Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. M. Iriawan, West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan and West Kalimantan Police chief Brig. Gen. Musyafak.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/government-not-becoming-authoritarian-wiranto/

Public urged not to hold demonstrations often

Antara News - January 17, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesian Chief Minister of Security, Political and Legal affairs Wiranto called upon the public here on Monday not to hold frequent public demonstrations.

"In case of a problem, it can be settled through communications, instead of rallies. Demonstrations should be treated as only the last resort if communication fails," he told newsmen at the Headquarters of the Indonesian Defense Forces, in response to a demonstration by the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) at the Indonesia Police Headquarters that day.

He said demonstrations are normal in a democratic country, so long as they are not aimed at undermining certain quarters.

"Do not make it into a trend to suppress, put someone in difficulties, smear someone or the government or undermine the government. That is what we do not want to happen in a democratic country," he said.

Freedom of expression in public, he noted, is guaranteed by the law, but it does not mean the right could be used at will by ignoring existing regulations.

"The solution for the future is that the right to express oneself in public is allowed, but there are also regulations and requirements to abide by. Any violation of the regulations will be confronted by law enforcement personnel," he said.

Wiranto said he disapproved of FPIs decision to conduct a demonstration at the police headquarters, saying that any problem could be settled through communications.

"Let us be grateful and not curse, instead. People must not easily take to the street, because it will only consume our energy as a nation. Security forces should be given time to rest and not be given more assignments. Problems must be settled through communication first. Five or ten people could come, instead of a mass. Anyone wishing to meet me, please go ahead. I will welcome him," he said.

FPI held a mass demonstration at the Indonesia Police Headquarters on Monday to protest against a number of parties, including the chief of the West Java regional police command, Inspector General Anton Charliyan.

FPI representatives, led by spokesman Munarman, were received by the head of the Public Information Bureau of Indonesia Police Public Relations Division, Brigadier General Rikwanto, and head of the Community Headquarters Service, Senior Commissioner, Budi Widjanarko.(*)

Source: http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/108975/public-urged-not-to-hold-demonstrations-often

Political parties & elections

Government wants to keep 3.5 percent parliamentary threshold in election

Jakarta Globe - January 16, 2017

Jakarta – Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said on Monday (16/01) the government intends to keep the current 3.5 percent parliamentary threshold in the Election Law, as the House Representatives is about to begin deliberations to revise it.

The House will discuss revisions to the current law after the Constitutional Court ruled in January 2014 that legislative and presidential elections must be staged simultaneously.

Amendments to the law will include changes to the requirements for political parties before they can nominate a presidential candidate and a possible change to the said parliamentary threshold.

The Home Affairs Ministry, who supervises the country's elections, has proposed to keep the 3.5 percent parliamentary threshold in its latest draft of revisions submitted to the House.

That means political parties must each gain at least 3.5 percent of the national number of votes to be able to send their members to the House as lawmakers.

"We will keep [the parliamentary threshold]. If possible, we want more than 3.5 percent. But if it's too hard to get it approved, we will keep the 3.5 percent," Tjahjo said at his office in Jakarta.

He argued the current threshold is the minimum for a genuinely democratic election, and he hoped that lawmakers will pass the revisions without much delay. "I know political parties want to win, but we must keep our democracy in check," Tjahjo said.

The Golkar Party and Gerindra, or the Great Indonesia Movement Party, had moved to get rid of the parliamentary threshold during initial discussions on the Election Law amendments at the House.

Parties who are unable to gain 3.5 percent of the national number of votes will not be able to earn a seat in the House of Representatives even if their candidates win the election in their own regions.

Karyono Wibowo, a political expert from the think tank Indonesian Public Institute, said the parliamentary threshold is important to limit the number of political parties at the House.

Too many political parties at the parliament will make it harder for the government to pass bills or get important decisions approved. "The government won't be able to get a policy approved in quick time," Karyono said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/govt-wants-keep-3-5-percent-parliamentary-threshold-election-law-amendments-minister/

Blasphemy & the Jakarta elections

SBY's tweet may scupper son's chance in Jakarta governor race: Analyst

Jakarta Globe - January 22, 2017

Jakarta – Political analyst Maksimus Ramses Lalongkoe from the Indonesian Political Analysis Institute said that a recent tweet by former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, or SBY, lamenting the state of the country may have a negative impact on his son's approval rating less than a month away from the Jakarta gubernatorial election.

SBY's son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, is running for governor with long-time bureaucrat Sylviana Murni as his running mate. Maksimus said Yudhoyono's tweets tend to carry a negative tone, which often triggered widespread condemnation from the Indonesian public.

In the context of the Jakarta gubernatorial election, his most recent tweet could be more damaging than helpful to Agus' chance of winning the election next month.

"Agus' image is closely connected to SBY. Whenever SBY makes a political comment, it will have an impact on his son. The public seems to think SBY's tweets are too negative. Agus' approval rating may suffer because of them," Maksimus said in Jakarta on Saturday (21/01).

The political analyst said Indonesians have reacted negatively to Yudhoyono's statements on social media, with many accusing the former president of being too pessimistic.

"SBY should refrain himself [from posting negative comments]. He should try to be more positive and optimistic if he wants people to respond in kind," Maksimus added.

Maksimus said the country currently does not have a strongman figure who can unite the whole nation. "SBY should have seized this moment, take the role of the strongman to calm the public," he said.

The former president's most recent tweet railed against social media hoaxes, fake news and the people who make them go viral – posted on SBY's official Twitter account @SBYudhoyono.

Ya Allah, Tuhan YME. Negara kok jadi begini. Juru fitnah & penyebar "hoax" berkuasa & merajalela. Kapan rakyat & yg lemah menang? *SBY* – S. B. Yudhoyono (@SBYudhoyono) January 20, 2017

"Good God, what's happened to this country? People in power are spreading slanders and hoaxes. When will the people and the poor prevail?" Yudhoyono wrote in his tweet.

The Democratic Party chairman's tweet soon went viral, attracting many critical replies and retweets, with some making fun of the former president's precious tone.

Over the past three months, Agus' approval rating has actually climbed. The former military major's campaign had been gaining momentum after hardline Muslim groups stage massive street rallies in Jakarta in November and December, demanding incumbent Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama to be imprisoned for alleged blasphemy.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/sbys-tweet-may-scupper-sons-chance-jakarta-governor-race-analyst/

Gubernatorial candidate Baswedan promises to end discrimination against

Detik News - January 20, 2017

Noval Dhwinuari Antony, Jakarta – Jakarta gubernatorial candidates Anies Rasyid Baswedan has held a dialog with the hijab community (hijabers) in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta. The problem of discrimination for women who wear hijabs, veils or jilbabs was one of the issues discussed in the dialogue.

The meeting was held by Baswedan at the Typologi Cafe on Jl. Wijaya I No. 5C on Thursday January 19 and attended by several members of the hijabers community.

"Actually this meeting was first of all to elaborate our vision, second to hear [the community's] aspirations", Baswedan told journalists.

The dialogue held by Baswedan was to absorb the aspirations of the communality who conveyed their many hopes to him. "So the questions that were conveyed were questions about aspirations. So it was not just questions, but hopes", he said.

Among the issues that were highlighted during the dialogue was the problem of discrimination against women who wear hijabs. Jakarta, said Baswedan, must move forward together and be appreciated by its residents without discrimination.

"The problem of discrimination against women wearing the hijab inside, in the workplace. So they stated that if indeed Jakarta wants to become a city that moves forward together, that is happy, then it must provide the same opportunities for everyone", he explained.

In order to achieve this, Baswedan promised that [if he is election] he would treat all Jakarta residents the same. "Including those who wear the hijab, and I say to them, I have a commitment that Jakarta will not be allowed to become a discriminative city. In Jakarta everyone must be treated the same", he said in conclusion.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Anies Janji Jakarta Bebas Diskriminasi terhadap Hijabers".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-3400771/anies-janji-jakarta-bebas-diskriminasi-terhadap-hijabers?utm_source=facebook

Graft allegations engulf Agus-Sylviana campaign

Jakarta Post - January 20, 2017

Indra Budiari, Jakarta – The National Police are set to question Jakarta deputy governor hopeful Sylviana Murni on Friday as a witness in a graft case, the latest in a string of crime investigations implicating the candidate who, alongside Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, has become the frontrunner in the race.

The questioning would be the second for Sylviana, who was recently grilled over irregularities in a mosque construction project that was commenced when she was serving as Central Jakarta mayor.

Just three weeks ahead of the gubernatorial election, the probes are increasing pressure on the pair in a competition that has seen the popularity of previous frontrunner and incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama sink after his prosecution in a blasphemy case.

National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said the new graft allegations were related to the allocation of Jakarta Administration social assistance funds to the Jakarta Scout Movement in fiscal year 2014-2015.

Sylviana, who headed the Jakarta Scout Movement during that period, is expected to provide information on the graft investigation. At the time she also served as the assistant to the governor on tourism and culture.

Boy refused to divulge any further details of the case, saying that revealing them to the public may disrupt the investigation. In the summons letter, which was leaked to the public, Sylviana was told to bring documents relevant to the questioning.

"We have asked her to show up [Friday]. We are in the investigation phase, and we can't reveal any more details," Boy told reporters at the National Police headquarters.

Sylviana said she was ready to be questioned, adding that she was a "law-abiding citizen and ready to follow the procedures".

It is the third criminal case associated with Sylviana since she decided to run as deputy candidate alongside governor candidate Agus, the first son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

On Dec. 30, Jakarta Police questioned Sylviana's husband, Gde Sardjana, as a witness in a treason case. Police found indications that Gde had transferred money to Jamhar, who has been named a suspect for spreading hatred against the government ahead of a rally demanding the prosecution of Ahok. Gde admitted to the transfer but denied it had anything to do with the rally.

Agus has spoken up to defend Sylviana, saying the allegations were aimed to attack their campaign that had left behind other candidates, according to surveys.

"The more people try to find our mistakes, the more support we will receive from the public," Agus said. "We deplore the fact that there are parties accusing [Sylviana] of something that did not happen."

The Agus-Sylviana campaign was first confronted with corruption allegations related to the construction of a mosque worth Rp 27 billion (US$2.03 million) in the Central Jakarta mayoralty office complex and inaugurated in 2011 by Sylviana, who held the mayor office at the time.

During the investigation, police investigators reportedly tore down walls of the mosque and found that some sections that should have been filled with cement were hollow.

In that case police questioned 20 people involved in the construction, including the current Jakarta administration secretary Saefullah, who was appointed to replace Sylviana as mayor. He admitted that the city had initially overspent Rp 108 billion on the project, but the administration was reimbursed in 2011.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/20/graft-allegations-engulf-agus-sylviana-campaign.html

Jakarta gubernatorial debate fails to impress swing voters: Researcher

Jakarta Post - January 20, 2017

Safrin La Batu, Jakarta – The first official debate between Jakarta gubernatorial candidates failed to attract more voters to each candidate, as most swing voters, the group targeted in the event, were not impressed by the candidates' performance, a researcher has said.

"Only five to 10 percent of around 29 percent swing voters changed their minds on who they will vote for after watching the first debate," Jakarta-based pollster Populi Center director Usep S. Ahyar said on Thursday night.

Some 7 million Jakarta citizens will vote on Feb. 15.

Usep said failing to convince these swing voters meant failing in the debate. "No matter how good a candidate appears in a debate, he or she won't be able to convince other candidates' loyal voters," he told The Jakarta Post.

Worse still, Usep said, the majority of the 10 percent that changed their minds would remain swing voters, "at the most, only two percent of them became loyal voters."

Populi's survey in mid-December showed Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and Sylviana Murni pair's loyal supporters reached 63.9 percent; those of the incumbent Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama-Djarot Sjaiful amounted to 77.6 percent; while Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga had some 72.7 percent.

Usep said the performance of each candidate pair was what prevented them from gaining more votes. He said while Ahok and Djarot focused too much on clarifying their policies that had spurred controversy such as evictions, other pairs did not capitalize on the opportunity to offer more sound and convincing programs.

LIPI senior researcher Syamsuddin Haris said Ahok-Djarot's challengers should have used the debate to explain and detail their solutions to problems in Jakarta rather than explain abstract programs. Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/20/jakarta-gubernatorial-debate-fails-to-impress-swing-voters-researcher.html

Cases against FPI leader may boost Ahok's electability: Researcher

Jakarta Post - January 19, 2017

Safrin La Batu, Jakarta – Legal cases implicating Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab will likely boost Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's electability, which has been in decline according to recent surveys since the start of his blasphemy trial, researchers have said.

Rizieq, an ardent critic of Ahok's, has been reported to police for allegedly dishonoring the country's first president, Sukarno, and Pancasila, the nation's founding principles. He has also been reported for allegedly defaming Christianity.

A senior political researcher with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Syamsuddin Haris, said Rizieq's alleged involvement in those cases would lead the public to see Ahok in a positive light after prolonged hatred toward the governor, who stands accused of having insulted Islam.

"Ahok still has a chance to win the election, although I predict the electoral process will include two rounds," Syamsuddin said in a discussion on Thursday.

Similarly, Populi Center director Usep S Ahyar said Rizieq's cases would turn people to support Ahok. "People will say Ahok's critic is doing this and that," he said.

After questioning Rizieq for allegedly dishonoring Pancasila last week, West Java Police said on Thursday they had moved from a preliminary investigation into Rizieq to a full investigation.

Meanwhile, Ahok's blasphemy case is heard every Tuesday at the North Jakarta District Court, with hearings temporarily taking place at the Agriculture Ministry in South Jakarta. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/19/cases-against-fpi-leader-may-boost-ahoks-electability-researcher.html

No more hearings should witnesses fail to show up: Ahok's lawyers

Jakarta Post - January 18, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – A lawyer defending Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama said the governor's legal defense team would refuse to continue the hearings in its client's blasphemy case should prosecutors fail again to present witnesses who had filed a police report against Ahok for the alleged crime.

Lawyer Fifi Lety Indra was referring to three witnesses, Muhammad Asroi Saputra, Iman Sudirman and Ibnu Baskoro, who prosecutors had failed to present in the sixth hearing at the North Jakarta District Court on Tuesday.

To replace them, prosecutors proposed two other witnesses, but the lawyers refused to hear the testimonies of the two unscheduled witnesses, forcing the court's panel of judges to adjourn the hearing.

"Those witnesses reported Ahok to the police, but they refused to show up at the hearing. They shouldn't have done that. We don't care how long the trial will take, but we will wait for those witnesses to show up," Fifi told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Ahok has been reported to the police for alleged blasphemy by 14 people, eight of whom have testified against the governor in his trial.

From previous hearings, the lawyers noted some irregularities both in witnesses' statements and their backgrounds. Concerning the irregularities, the panel of judges should not consider their testimonies in its decisions, Fifi said.

Ahok's lawyer team reported Islam Defenders Front (FPI) secretary general Novel Bamukmin, one of the witnesses presented by prosecutors, to the Jakarta Police for alleged perjury last Friday. "We will also report another witness, FPI Jakarta head Muchsin, to the police, also for alleged perjury," Fifi said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/18/no-more-hearings-should-witnesses-fail-to-show-up-ahoks-lawyers.html

Ahok's lawyers point out 'trial by mob' in witness' statement

Jakarta Post - January 18, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Lawyers of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama concluded that "the trial by mob" against the non-active governor that had started since the beginning of his blasphemy case was apparent in the testimony of Bogor Islam Forum secretary Willyudin Abdul Rasyid, a prosecution witness in the sixth hearing of Ahok's trial on Tuesday.

In the hearing, the defense team said, Willyudin admitted he had forced Bogor Police officers to file his report on Ahok's alleged blasphemy or otherwise he would have called on thousands of Muslims to raid the police station.

"Willyudin's testimony shows that Ahok has been on trial since the case emerged, or when he reported Ahok to the police," Ahok's lawyer Fifi Lety Indra said Wednesday.

Ahok's other lawyer, Humphrey Djemat, similarly stated the trial by mob against Ahok had occurred not only in the large scare rallies against the governor on Nov. 4 and Dec. 2 last year, but also in Willyudin's police report.

During Tuesday's hearing, the lawyer said, Willyudin himself acknowledged that he had insisted Bogor police officers accept his report, even though they had initially suggested him to file the report to the criminal detective unit of the Jakarta Police.

The police officers made the suggestion because Ahok's alleged blasphemy occurred in Thousand Islands regency, Jakarta.

"I stated that if they didn't file my report, thousands of Muslims would come [to the police station]. This was not because I wanted to force [the police], but because it is a mandate for every Muslim [to protect Islam's honor]," Willyudin said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/18/ahoks-lawyers-point-out-trial-by-mob-in-witness-statement.html

FPI secretary general reported to police for false testimony, defamation

Jakarta Globe - January 17, 2017

Jakarta – Lawyers for Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama reported Islamic Defender's Front, or FPI, secretary general Novel Chaidir Hasan for allegedly defaming Ahok and presenting false testimony during the on-going blasphemy trial.

"We have reported Novel against article 310, 311, 316 and 242 of the Criminal Law, in which he had allegedly defamed [Ahok] and provided false testimonies to the court," Ahok's lawyer, Rolas B. Sitinjak said in Jakarta on Monday (15/01).

Rolas said that during the trial, Novel claimed Ahok engineered a case so he would serve a jail sentence. "Novel also claimed that Ahok had killed two of his men. This is basically the legal case," he added.

The lawyers submitted the evidence of a recording and transcript of the testimony to the police, including several news articles.

"In the trial session, Novel clearly claimed that Ahok had murdered his men, that Ahok had engineered a case where he was imprisoned. This case was entirely different, where the court had given its verdict and we should not comment," Rolas said.

"So, Novel claimed that it was all Ahok's doing, whereas he did not know of the matter – in terms of he did not want to fuss about it, as the legal process had been applied," he added.

"Our client [Ahok] said the slander was outrageous. So, let us prove it by law. Do not make opinions, ideas, instead let the law prove it. We think we will answer all of these through a legal process," Rolas concluded.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/fpi-secretary-general-reported-police-false-testimony-defamation/

Officer admits making errors in filing report for Ahok's alleged

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2017

Indra Budiari, Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's blasphemy trial continued on Tuesday with a police officer who received a report of Ahok's alleged blasphemy submitted by a Bogor resident, admitted that he made a mistake in typing the report.

In the hearing at the Agriculture Ministry building in South Jakarta, First Brig. Ahmad Hamdani, an officer with the Bogor Police, told the North Jakarta District Court's panel of judges that he unintentionally made an error when he typed the date of the report.

Wilyudin Abdul Rasyid filed the report with the police on Oct. 7, 2016 or one day after he watched a video of Ahok's controversial speech delivered in Thousand Islands regency on Sep. 27, 2016. However, Ahmad stated in the report that Wilyudin watched the video on Sep. 6 or three weeks before Ahok made the speech.

"How can the report be filed before the speech took place? It is clear that you have made some errors," presiding judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarto told Ahmad, who testified in the hearing as a witness.

Ahmad said he should have typed the report more carefully. "I did not check the calendar [when typing the report]. I should have done that to make sure there were no errors," he said.

Wilyudin's report also raised suspicion because it was written that Ahok's alleged blasphemy speech took place in Tegallega, Bogor, West Java, not on the island regency.

It was later revealed the Tegallega reference was referring to Wilyudin's house where he watched Ahok's speech. "He filed the report after he watched the governor's speech in a video at his house in Tegallega," the officer said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/17/officer-admits-making-errors-in-filing-report-for-ahoks-alleged-blasphemy.html

Ahok's lawyers refuse to continue hearing due to unscheduled witnesses

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Lawyers of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama refused to continue the sixth hearing of Ahok's blasphemy trial on Tuesday due to prosecutors' failure to present witnesses who had been scheduled earlier.

During the hearing, the prosecutors instead proposed to present two eyewitnesses – Yulihardy and Nurkholis Majid – from Thousand Islands regency who were not scheduled earlier. Thousand Islands was where Ahok delivered a speech on Sept. 27, 2016 that was later deemed blasphemous by parties outside the regency.

The lawyers disapproved of the prosecutors' proposal. "The prosecutors hadn't communicated to us about those two witnesses. We wanted to focus on examining witnesses who had denounced [Ahok] first. Previously, we found some irregularities from the witnesses [who testified earlier]," Ahok's lawyer told the judges.

Previously, the prosecutors informed the lawyers that they would summon six witnesses, namely secretary of the Bogor Islam Forum H. Willyudin Abdul Rasyid, Bogor police officers Brig. Agung Hermawan and First Brig. Ahmad Hamdani, Muhammad Asroi Saputra, Iman Sudirman and Ibnu Baskoro. However, the prosecutors said the last three names could not attend the hearing.

Prosecutor Ali Mukartono argued that based on the Criminal Law Procedure, the prosecutors were not required to relay information about the summoned witnesses to the lawyers. He added that the prosecutors had told the lawyers about their plan to hear testimonies from Yulihardy and Nurkholis on Tuesday morning.

Presiding judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarto decided to grant the lawyer's objection. Dwiarso adjourned the hearing until Jan. 24.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/17/ahoks-lawyers-refuse-to-continue-hearing-due-to-unscheduled-witnesses.html

Anti-Ahok sentiment helps ex-president's son take the lead: Survey

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The former president's son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, and his running mate Sylviana Murni would have won the Jakarta gubernatorial election if it had been held recently, according to a new survey by Jakarta-based Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI).

The LSI survey showed that a majority of 36.7 percent of Jakartans would have voted for the Agus-Sylvi pair; 32.6 percent for the incumbent Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama-Djarot Syaiful Hidayat and only 21.4 percent for Anies Baswedan and his running mate Sandiaga Uno.

"The study shows that a second round would take place, as none of the two leading pairs, Agus-Sylvi and Ahok-Djarot, would manage to gather 50 percent of the votes," LSI researcher Ardian Sopa told reporters on Tuesday, adding that it was clear that the Anies-Sandiaga pair would be eliminated in the first round.

Ardian said that the Agus-Sylvi pairing would still lead with 48.1 percent of votes, ahead of the Ahok-Djarot with 29.7 percent, if a second round of voting took place, adding that the current anti-Ahok sentiment, driven by religion, was one of the crucial factors of support for candidate duo Number 1.

LSI conducted the survey from Jan. 5-11, asking 880 respondents representing around 7 million eligible voters in Jakarta in face-to-face interviews. (dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/17/anti-ahok-sentiment-helps-ex-presidents-son-take-the-lead-survey.html

Political machines play crucial role in Jakarta election

Jakarta Post - January 16, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The political machines of candidates contesting the Jakarta gubernatorial election will play a crucial role in determining their fate as the Feb.15 D-day approaches, an analyst says.

According to political analyst Ubedillah Badrun from the Jakarta State University (UNJ), only a few political parties are actually working although all had declared support for their preferred pair.

"As far as I have observed, political machines that have functioned well include the PDI-P [Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle], Gerindra and PKS [Prosperous Justice Party]," Ubedillah said during the release of a recent study by Jakarta-based PT Grup Riset Potensial (GRP) in Jakarta on Monday.

GRP's study revealed that the Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono-Sylviana Murni pair would win if the election took place today with 46.4 percent of votes, leaving Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno in second place with 20.9 percent of votes, while the incumbent Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama-Djarot Saiful Hidayat would come in third with 20.4 percent.

Ubedillah cited the level of support for Ahok-Djarot as an example, attributing their poor polling to underperforming political parties. "Those that have endorsed Ahok-Djarot don't work well. It is clear that their support is divided," he said.

Besides the ruling PDI-P, the Ahok-Djarot ticket has also been endorsed by the Golkar Party, the Nasdem Party and the Hanura Party. Meanwhile, Agus-Sylvi supporters include the Democratic Party, the National Awakening Party (PKB), the United Development Party (PPP) and the National Mandate Party (PAN), while supporters of the Anies-Sandi ticket include the Gerindra Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/16/political-machines-play-crucial-role-in-jakarta-election.html

Anies shifting toward conservatism

Jakarta Post - January 16, 2017

Liza Yosephine and Agnes Anya, Jakarta – Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Anies Baswedan has taken further steps to reach out to conservative Muslims by speaking at a mass gathering organized by the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI) on Sunday.

At the gathering, the organization's leader called on people to vote for a Muslim leader in the upcoming election.

The group, which was behind recent large-scale sectarian rallies in Jakarta, organized the event in collaboration with the Jakarta Islamic Siyasah Ta'Lim Assembly.

Posters for the event also displayed the hashtag #spirit212, in reference to a rally on Dec. 2 that demanded the prosecution of rival candidate and incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for alleged blasphemy in Thousand Islands last September.

The other rival candidate, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, was also slated to speak at the event at Al Azhar Grand Mosque on Jl. Sisingmangaraja in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta.

However, the son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono did not attend due to the death of Hadi Utomo, a former chairman of Yudhoyono's Democratic Party. Agus' running mate Sylviana Murni was present but did not speak at the event.

GNPF-MUI chairman Bachtiar Nasir told the audience that choosing a Muslim leader aligned with Islamic teachings and that Indonesian democracy allowed voters to exercise their rights in such a way.

"I am not in a position to choose between the two Muslim candidates. But what is emphasized is that selecting a Muslim [at the next election] does not contradict democracy because you can choose leaders candidate based on faith and belief," he said as quoted by tribunnews.com.

State Islamic University (UIN) political expert Adi Prayitno said Anies had lost momentum in appealing to Muslim voters who, according to him, had largely fallen for Agus. Adi noted that Anies was experiencing difficulty in finding a place between Ahok and Agus, explaining his "zig zag" politics.

"The most likely thing for Anies to do to increase his popularity is to rip supporters from AHY [Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono] from Islamic circles. Therefore, on many occasions in Anies' political performance, he appears to be visibly Islamic [conservative], both in statements and political moves," Adi told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Several pollsters recently put the Anies-Sandiaga Uno ticket at the bottom of popularity surveys comparing the three pairs.

In December, the Indonesian Survey Circle issued a survey showing that Anies-Sandiaga's electability was the lowest at only 15.70 percent. Agus-Sylviana Murni got 33.6 percent while the incumbents Ahok-Djarot Syaiful Hidayat garnered 23.6.

Also in December, an Indonesian Survey Institution (LSI) survey put Anies-Sandiaga at the bottom with 23.9 percent popularity. Topping the list was Ahok-Djarot with 31.8 percent followed by Agus-Sylviana (26.5 percent).

Anies is widely known as a moderate Islamic scholar. During a recent visit to the Post's office, Anies denied he had shifted from his moderate views. But he acknowledged he had to address sectarian issues because they "matter" to voters.

In the first official candidate debate on Friday, Anies cited morality and moral values among Jakarta residents as of importance should he become governor. Adi said Anies' strategy was to strike a note as a moral guardian in the hope of gaining sympathy from Muslim voters.

"That's why Anies polishes himself to look sholeh [obedient], maintains morality and fights for Muslim aspirations. This effort is to evoke the emotions of Muslims who recently have been quite driven to defend Islam," Adi said.

Recently, Anies drew criticism after meeting with leaders of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) at its headquarters in Petamburan, Central Jakarta. Anies said his visit aimed to straighten out rumors surrounding his religious identity that might disadvantage him in the election.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/16/anies-shifting-toward-conservatism.html

Surveys & opinion polls

Agus still front runner, but Ahok's popularity increasing: Survey

Jakarta Post - January 19, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and his running mate Sylviana Murni remain the front runners in the election, but Agus' popularity has not increased in any significant way of late, a recent survey has shown.

The survey, which was conducted by Poltracking Indonesia from Jan. 9 to Jan. 13 and involved 800 respondents with a 3.46 percent margin of error, found that Agus and Sylviana Murni were favored by 30.25 percent of respondents.

"There is an increase in Agus' electability but it has slowed down. The reason is that the 'shock effect' that came with his candidacy has decreased," Poltracking Indonesia executive director Hanta Yuda said in a press conference at Oria Hotel on Thursday.

Hanta said Agus' electability increased by 2.33 percent from an earlier survey conducted by Poltracking in November.

The pair's rivals, incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and Jakarta Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat and Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno, trail with 28.88 percent and 28.63 percent, respectively.

He added that Ahok's electability had increased quite significantly by 6.88 percent from the November survey. Hanta said this was because Ahok's blasphemy case had become less significant over time in the minds of voters. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/19/agus-still-front-runner-but-ahoks-popularity-increasing-survey.html

Meeting with FPI harmed Anies: Survey

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – Meeting the leader of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, and his supporters, has backfired against Jakarta gubernatorial contender Anies Baswedan as it alienated many potential voters, a survey says.

The survey conducted by the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) on Jan. 5-11, found that the recent meeting at FPI headquarters in Petamburan, Central Jakarta, contributed to a decline of over 3 percent in one month in support for Anies and his running mate Sandiaga Uno, from 23.6 percent in December last year to 20 percent this month.

LSI researcher Ardian Sopa explained that Anies' meeting with Rizieq earlier this month apparently disappointed his supporters who are mostly educated Jakartans and tolerant Moslems.

"Habib [Rizieq] is popular among lower-income voters, but is not among those of the middle class, who make up Anies' support base," Ardian told the press on Tuesday. "The meeting with Habib [Rizieq] turns to have been an electoral blunder for the Anies-Sandiaga pair".

Besides the meeting, other reasons that contributed to the decline in support include a lack of significant and distinctive programs that Anies-Sandiaga propose for Jakarta as well as the pair's inability to attract a broad base of support.

The LSI survey has also found that Anies and Sandiaga would be eliminated from the race if an election took place today, leaving the Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono-Sylviana Murni ticket contesting a second round against the incumbent Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama-Djarot Syaiful Hidayat pair.(jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/17/meeting-with-fpi-harmed-anies-survey.html

Vision, mission 'less important' for Jakarta voters: Study

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The majority of resentment toward Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and his running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat is the result of previous remarks Ahok has made, not his programs, a study suggested on Tuesday.

A recent survey commissioned by the Jakarta-based Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) revealed 47.2 percent of eligible voters had negative views of the Ahok-Djarot pair because of a statement on Quranic verse Al Maidah 51 that Ahok made during a working visit to Thousand Islands on Sept. 27, 2016, which some have deemed as insulting to Islam.

Meanwhile, 28.9 percent of respondents involved in the study slammed Ahok because of his rude public statements. Only 10.5 percent of respondents criticized him for his supposedly anti-poor policies and only 1.9 percent of eligible voters disapproved of Ahok for violating Jakartans' rights, such as freedom of expression.

"It's clear that anti-Ahok sentiment is still a determining factor. The Ahok-Djarot pair will lose the race if such sentiment continues to circulate until election day on Feb. 15," LSI researcher Ardian Sopa told journalists on Tuesday.

The study also found that anti-Ahok sentiment has benefited Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono-Sylviana Murni, suggesting that the pair would win the election if voting took place today.

The study took place from Jan. 5-11 and involved 880 respondents in face-to-face interviews. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/17/vision-mission-less-important-for-jakarta-voters-study.html

Mass organisations & NGOs

Beware of defining groups as being anti-Pancasila: Lawmaker

Jakarta Post - January 21, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – Outspoken House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Fahri Hamzah has warned the government to be careful in labeling mass organizations "anti-Pancasila" while trying to curb the activities of groups deemed problematic.

Fahri argued that anyone, including the state, could violate the values of Pancasila state ideology, pointing a finger at the government for doing so by widely opening the country to foreign investment.

"Capital is more important than humans nowadays and the government is busy focusing on capital. Isn't this anti-Pancasila?" Fahri argued.

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician said he welcomed the government's plan to curb mass organizations, but warned that any group, including the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), should not be arbitrarily defined as being against Pancasila.

"To recognize violent and radical groups as anti-Pancasila in order to target the FPI will stir debate," Fahri said. "The government can enforce the law with the FPI, as well as other groups, if it violates the law. There is no need to ban it."

Fahri's comment came a day after Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Hamonangan Laoly revealed on Thursday that the government planned to expand the definition of anti-Pancasila in a planned amendment of the prevailing law on mass organizations. The plan to amend Law No. 17/2013 is an effort to discipline groups deemed problematic for disrupting public order. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/21/beware-of-defining-groups-as-being-anti-pancasila-lawmaker.html

Government to ban violent, anti-Pancasila mass organizations: Minister

Jakarta Post - January 19, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The government plans to expand the definition of an anti-Pancasila mass organization in its effort to discipline groups that do not clearly state values that violate the state ideology but nevertheless take actions that harm public order, says a minister.

Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Hamonangan Laoly said Thursday the government planned to include violent and radical groups in the category of mass organizations that were against Pancasila and that should be banned in the country.

"The existing law bans groups that promote, among other things, Leninist and communist values as they conflict with the values of Pancasila, but there are more values that are against Pancasila," Yasonna said on the sidelines of a meeting at the House of Representatives.

"Therefore we will expand the definition of anti-Pancasila in the revision because groups that are violent and destructive to the nation also violate Pancasila," he emphasized.

Yasonna said the government expects to start discussing the revision later this year. However, he said he cannot provide further details, arguing that the process is still ongoing, but he made assurances that his office will submit a draft revision sooner in order for it to be included in the national legislation program (prolegnas).

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/19/government-to-ban-violent-anti-pancasila-mass-organizations-minister.html

Internet & social media

Government to continue cracking down on websites: Minister

Jakarta Post - January 19, 2017

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – In an attempt to eradicate the dissemination of fake news and other harmful contents from cyberspace, the Indonesian government will continue with its plan to block websites thought to violate regulations it has set forth, a minister has said.

"We never consider the [website owner's] affiliation. What we consider is the content. As long as it spreads content that violates our regulation, we will take an action," Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara said in a speech during a forum about technology held in Jakarta on Thursday.

As previously reported, the government has blocked about 800,000 websites as of December last year, most of which contained pornographic material or gambling opportunities. Eighty-five of them were related to radicalism.

The ministry has produced a regulation as the legal basis to block the sites and set up a team to scrutinize reports from the public.

The ministry recently began cooperating with the Press Council to monitor online media outlets to curb the dissemination of fake news or hoaxes.

Rudiantara has repeatedly asked social media giants, such as Facebook and Twitter, to filter information on their sites that promote hoaxes.

Democracy activists, however, have lambasted the government's move regarding its decision to block suarapapua.com, a news site based in Papua, in December last year.

The Press Legal Aid Institute (LBH Press) defended suarapapua.com, saying the website already adhered to the principles of journalistic ethics and that the block was a violation of freedom of expression. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/19/govt-to-continue-cracking-down-on-websites-minister.html

Environment & natural disasters

Greenpeace's 'Dirty Bankers' report accuses HSBC of funding

Jakarta Globe - January 17, 2017

Ratri M. Siniwi, Jakarta – HSBC, one of the biggest banks in the world, has been accused of funding deforestation in Indonesia by environmental group Greenpeace International.

In a report titled "Dirty Bankers: How HSBC is Financing Forest Destruction for Palm Oil," the environmental activist group accused HSBC of arranging loans and other credit facilities totaling $16.3 billion for six companies profiled in Greenpeace's Dirty Bankers report, as well as nearly $2 billion in corporate bonds since 2012, despite the lender's proclaimed sustainable policy.

The UK-headquartered bank is known as one of the largest lenders to the palm oil industry in the world. Greenpeace's report specifically highlights a list of HSBC clients that have been linked to unsustainable palm oil practices.

The NGO accused six companies – Singapore's Bumitama Agri and Goodhope Asia Holdings, Malaysia's IOI Group, Noble Group, and Korea's POSCO Daewoo and Indonesia's Salim Group – of destroying tropical rainforests, land grabbing, operating with zero permits, employing child labor and peatland draining.

"For a bank that proclaims 'sustainability underpins our strategic priorities and enables us to fulfil our purpose,' funding companies like Noble is a strange move!" Greenpeace's campaigner Annisa Rahmawati said on the NGO's website.

Specifically, the NGO said in its report that evidences are now available in the public domain showing that the six companies were responsible for unacceptable activities including having been subjected to Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) complaints or suspensions.

They have also been cited by the Indonesian government in cases of unrestrained fires and or been the subject of numerous critical reports from social and environmental NGOs.

"Even the most basic due diligence on these companies should have set alarm bells ringing, which raises the question: is HSBC failing to apply its policies altogether, or just failing to apply sufficient scrutiny when assessing whether current or prospective customers comply?" the Greenpeace report said.

The NGO called out HSBC to disclose details of all financial services to palm oil companies, halt financing to existing customers and refuse financing or other services to potential customers that do not comply to the "No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation" policy.

HSBC's response

HSBC released a statement on Tuesday (17/01) to comment on the Greenpeace report, which started in a diplomatic tone, saying HSBC shares Greenpeace's concern about deforestation in Indonesia.

The bank said it "has no interest in financing customers involved in: illegal operations; land clearance by burning; the conversion of high conservation value areas; harmful or exploitative child labor or forced labor; the violation of the rights of local communities, such as the principle of free prior and informed consent; and operations where there is significant social conflict."

Regarding companies named by Greenpeace, HSBC said "customer confidentiality restricts us from commenting on specific companies. We recognize that this can cause frustration but do direct stakeholders to public information where we are aware of it."

The lender also claimed that following its policy revision in 2014, it has closed about 60 forestry and 104 palm oil banking accounts for failing to comply with their so-called "No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation" policy.

"We do not consider closing a relationship a success, as we lose influence to promote higher standards, although we have no doubt that our policies benefit from having a bar, below which relationships will be ended," HSBC wrote in the statement.

"We are not aware of any current instances where customers are alleged to be operating outside our policy and where we have not taken, are not taking, appropriate action," the bank added.

Looking specifically at the palm oil sector, HSBC said it "believes that palm oil can bring many benefits to society, such as economic development and the alleviation of poverty. And we agree with Greenpeace that palm oil can also result in negative impacts if not managed legally and sustainably."

Read the full report at: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/publications/forests/2017/Greenpeace_DirtyBankers_final.pdf

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/greenpeace-slams-hsbc-funding-destructive-indonesian-palm-oil-firms/

Lgbt & same-sex Marriage

Police ban transgender cultural event in South Sulawesi

Jakarta Post - January 21, 2017

Andi Hajramurni, Makassar – Following a protest from a Muslim group, the South Sulawesi Police have banned a Bugis sports and cultural event involving waria (transgendered people) and bissu (a gender-neutral identity in Bugis tradition) that was slated to be held in Soppeng regency from Jan. 19 to 22.

About 600 waria and bissu had gathered, complete with makeup and costumes, in Gasis Soppeng field on Thursday afternoon, but the Soppeng Police forced them to cancel their planned parade, apparently because a group called the Islam Congregation Forum objected to the event, claiming it was not in line with its religious values.

Askar Mampo, aka Ria Akkari, a parade committee member, said on Friday that the police held the 600 in a 120-square-meter hall. "We are not allowed to hold the carnival because they said we did not get the permit," she said.

She said the notification for the carnival had been sent to the police on Jan. 4. The committee had asked for approval from the Soppeng regent and the Soppeng Council and both had given it, said Askar.

However, two days before the event, the committee was summoned by the police in Makassar, who asked for several additional documents including a recommendation from the Religious Affairs Ministry. Askar said they could not get all the documents in time.

Hundreds of Soppeng residents had also been prepared to watch the event in the streets before it was canceled. Soppeng Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Dodied Prasetyo Aji insisted the committee did not have a proper permit. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/20/police-ban-transgender-cultural-event-in-south-sulawesi.html

Indonesian lawyers, feminists protest police ban on transgender parade

Jakarta Post - January 21, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation (YLBHI), 15 Legal Aid Institutes (LBH) and the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) issued statements over the weekend in protest of the South Sulawesi Police's ban on a transgender sporting and cultural event in Soppeng regency.

The event involved about 600 transgender people or waria and bissu (a gender-neutral identity of Bugis tradition) from 22 areas in South Sulawesi.

The legal and feminist organizations protested the police's action, calling it a violation of the rights of the waria and bissu community in South Sulawesi.

In a statement on Friday, the YLBHI and 15 LBHs said the event was actually a regular one in Soppeng and had received the approval of the Soppeng regent and councillors.

The legal organizations said the South Sulawesi Police had violated the right to assemble, freedom of expression and the right to participate in cultural and arts events stipulated in the Constitution and the 2005 laws on economic, social and cultural rights and on civil rights.

"The police should not give an excuse to not issue the permit," the statement said.

Komnas Perempuan issued a statement on Saturday in protest of the police ban, calling on the police to uphold their "Constitutional mandate to protect and serve the public."

The women activists said the event was a lawful activity, guaranteed in 12 articles of the Constitution.

"The event was not an unlawful activity, it didn't disrupt public order and there was no reason for the police to not allow the event to go on," the statement said. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/21/indonesian-lawyers-feminists-protest-police-ban-on-transgender-parade.html

Refugees & asylum seekers

Indonesia widens arms for refugees

Jakarta Post - January 18, 2017

Tama Salim, Haeril Halim and Hans Nicholas Jong, Jakarta – The government has streamlined procedures for handling asylum seekers, clearing stumbling blocks that had earlier hindered them from entering the country.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has just signed a presidential regulation (Perpres) on asylum seekers, detailing protocols for how to treat those who land on the nation's shores to escape life-threatening events in their homelands.

The newly issued protocols, signed on Dec. 31, would help the government assist the more than 14,000 refugees and asylum seekers who have long been overlooked since entering Indonesia, which is not a signatory to the United Nations' 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

"We issued the presidential regulation in response to the need for a legal basis for handling refugees because Indonesia is a non-signatory of the refugee convention," Andy Rachmianto, the Foreign Ministry's director for international security and disarmament, told The Jakarta Post.

He added that the issuance of the Perpres would have no bearing on the country's current position as a non-signatory of the convention, making it only responsible for repatriation and settlement.

Prior to the Perpres, Indonesia only relied on Law No. 37/1999 on international relations to handle refugees and asylum seekers, leaving institutions unclear about what to do with asylum seekers and refugees when they arrived in their regions.

The law does not elaborate on how to handle refugees and asylum seekers stranded in Indonesia on their way to other destination countries, such as Australia.

Last year, Indonesia was criticized for its treatment of a group of Tamil migrants from Sri Lanka who were stranded on a beach in Lhoknga, Aceh. The Aceh provincial government refused to allow them to disembark for one week, confining them to their grounded boat.

The local administration argued that the asylum seekers lacked the proper documentation and that it had no budget to look after them, after earlier facing problems while hosting hundreds of Rohingya Muslims. The central government later ordered the administration to allow them to disembark.

The Perpres contains detailed stipulations on which institutions are tasked with managing refugees in Indonesia, complete with each of their respective responsibilities.

It also serves as a legal basis for regional administrations to propose operational funds for handling asylum seekers and refugees and providing temporary shelters.

"With the presence of the presidential regulations it is now clear who is doing what and what kind of responsibility each institution has," said Agung Sampurno, the spokesperson for the Law and Human Rights Ministry's Directorate General of Immigration.

According to the Perpres, refugee handling is done through cooperation between the central government and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other international organizations.

The Perpres further stipulates that the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister coordinates the handling of asylum seekers in the country, from their discovery to settling and monitoring them.

For the discovery of asylum seekers, the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) is tasked with conducting search and rescue operations on vessels suspected to be transporting asylum seekers. Once the asylum seekers are found, they would be moved to safety boats if the vessels are about to sink and taken to docks or nearby land.

The asylum seekers in need of medical attention are to be identified immediately and they would be taken to immigration detention centers. If there is no available immigration detention center, the asylum seekers will be brought to the local immigration offices or nearby police stations.

Then the immigration officers are to record the data of the asylum seekers by checking their travel documents, immigration statuses and identities.

The UNHCR will review proposals from asylum seekers and decide whether they are eligible to be granted refugee status. If their applications are rejected, the relevant institutions would have the authority to deport them to their countries of origin.

Before the Perpres was issued, the relevant institutions in Indonesia did not know what to do with asylum seekers whose asylum requests had been rejected by destination countries.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/18/indonesia-widens-arms-for-refugees.html

Graft & corruption

AGO stops investigation into Grand Indonesia's alleged state losses

Jakarta Post - January 21, 2017

Jakarta – The Attorney General's Office announced Friday it stopped the investigation into alleged graft in a contract between a state-owned enterprise and Grand Indonesia complex near Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Jakarta.

"Ask the Supreme Audit [BPK], don't ask us. They were the ones who said [there was the potential for state losses]. We concluded that it was only a violation of civil law," Attorney General H. M. Prasetyo said as quoted by Antara news agency on Friday.

He said his office concluded the case was not a corruption crime and therefore he handed over the follow-up to the State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Ministry. He said the ministry could file a civil lawsuit to revise the contract.

"We have sent the ministry a letter; we said if the contract was not settled properly, there was a potential for state losses," Prasetyo went on.

The case related to the management of state land, on which Grand Indonesia shopping center, Hotel Indonesia Kempinsky and BCA building stand.

The state entrusted the land to state-owned enterprise PT Hotel Indonesia Natour, which in 2002 signed a contract with PT Cipta Karya Bumi Indah to build on the land under the "build-operate-transfer" scheme, signed in 2004.

The contract said the agreement covered Grand Indonesia mall and the hotel. But Cipta, through its subsidiary PT Grand Indonesia, subcontracted the land to build Bank Central Asia (BCA) building and Kempinsky Apartment.

Both now have assets on the state land and they are not included in the build-operate-transfer agreement. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/21/ago-stops-investigation-into-grand-indonesias-alleged-state-losses.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

Islamic State finds easy recruits in prisons of Indonesia

Washington Times - January 22, 2017

Rowan Scarborough – The Islamic State is seeking a foothold in the prisons of Indonesia, a country with the world's largest Muslim population and significant poverty.

Those two demographic factors can add up to a growing number of Islamic extremist recruits. The population of France is about 10 percent Muslim, and its prison system has turned into a recruiting station for the Islamic State and other violent groups.

The Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict is warning in a report that the government's attempt to stop in-prison radicalization is ineffective.

One example cited in the report: Prison authorities allowed the Islamic State's de facto Indonesia leader to operate a cellphone and website to disseminate jihadi propaganda. Those tools helped him do something else: remotely organize a deadly January 2016 attack in downtown Jakarta, authorities say.

With the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS, operating a base in the Middle East and expanding into Afghanistan, and Europe, the U.S. military would be hard-pressed to stamp out yet another pop-up stronghold in the multiple islands of Indonesia.

"The obstacles to effective prison management remain overwhelming," said Sidney Jones, IPAC director and an analyst on South Asia terrorism.

"Prisons are overcrowded and understaffed, corruption is rife and inadequate budgets make it easier for well-funded extremists to recruit inmates when they can offer extra food. No deradicalization program is going to be effective unless some of these issues are addressed."

The report noted: "Pro-ISIS inmates continue to recruit and radicalize fellow prisoners with impunity. A few have organized terrorist actions from inside prison more than once, and former prisoners continue to show up in new terrorist plots with alarming regularity."

The report talks of a revolving door. For example, 120 terrorist suspects were imprisoned, most of them for supporting the Islamic State, last year. At the same time, 50 were released after completing their sentences.

"Budgeting for prisons is so inadequate that prisoners depend on outside donations for decent food," the IPAC report said. "And the convicted terrorists have a well-organized support network that attracts ordinary criminals into their ranks."

Ms. Jones told The Washington Times that she does not believe the Islamic State's headquarters in Syria is directly radicalizing prisoners in any of Indonesia's 70 prisons. Instead, she said, arrested radical clerics are leading discussion groups in hopes of selling them on the Islamic State's copious propaganda and sending them to fight in Syria.

It is "difficult to say whether support for ISIS is growing," Ms. Jones said. "I suspect support is shrinking, but we're still seeing families trying to leave for Syria and people are still getting arrested for trying to make bombs."

Robert Maginnis, a terrorism analyst and author of the book "Future War," said that Indonesia, by virtue of its geography and strategic location, is a ripe target.

"The Islamist problem for Indonesia is partly the fault of topography," he said. "It is located in the middle of a rough neighborhood seething with militant groups that thrive alongside organized crime syndicates that sustain their treasuries by engaging in piracy, kidnapping and smuggling of weapons and drugs. It is naive to conclude ISIS isn't present and planning operations among the world's largest Muslim population and surrounded by countries known to have active ISIS affiliates."

Fertile recruiting ground

Nearly 90 percent of Indonesia's 260 million people are Muslim. Forty-one percent live below the international poverty level of $1.25 per day. Mr. Maginnis said extremist groups have also looked at American prisons as fertile territory for recruiting.

Saudi Arabia funds the National Islamic Prison Foundation, which sends clerics who preach the kingdom's strict Wahhabism strain of Islam into prisons, and ships thousands of Korans.

"Prisons are great recruiting grounds for Islamists, especially in Islamic countries," he said. "We found that to be true in Iraq and Afghanistan, where many vulnerable Muslims were manipulated into radicalism while serving time."

Mahdi Bray, an American convert to Islam who founded the National Islamic Prison Foundation and was its director, told The Washington Times in a 2009 interview that Islam "is organized in prison; there's prayer five times a day; and things that are organized run better."

"There's needs for boundaries and needs for certainties," he said. "Machismo has an important aspect in prisons, and Islam has a strong concentration on being manly. That really resonates with people who come from homes without fathers around."

The IPAC report contains numerous specific cases to show how common criminals can become Islamic State adherents. The transformation can occur when imprisoned terrorists stand up to the tyranny of prison gangs.

A man named Koswara, a run-of-the-mill drug dealer, in 2007 witnessed terrorists stab to death the leader of the notorious Gang Trek. The gang's violence and extortions stopped.

Impressed, Koswara joined the Islamic State. He was tutored by Abdul Rauf, one of the infamous 2002 Bali bombers who later died in Iraq fighting for the Islamic State. Rauf was convicted of recruiting terrorists for bombing tourist sites that killed 202 people and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

In March 2015, Koswara was again arrested. He went from drug dealer to terrorist, and was charged with recruiting Indonesians to fight for the Islamic State in Syria.

The Australian media reported in 2014 that 36 people convicted in two Bali bombings were released from Indonesian prisons.

"Radicalization of criminal offenders by pro-ISIS inmates continues to be a nightmare for both police and prison officials," the IPAC report said. "From 2010 to 2016, at least 18 former criminal offenders were involved in terrorism cases in Indonesia, and most had been radicalized in prison."

The most recent major Islamic state attack in Indonesia was one year ago when terrorists struck the center of Jakarta, killing four civilians. Four attackers were killed, two by their own suicide vests. Authorities arrested 12 men in the plot.

It turns out the attack was partly directed from prison by such Islamic State teachers as U.S.-designated terrorist Aman Abdurrahman, who is viewed as the group's Indonesia leader.

Before January 2016, he was allowed to talk to followers via the telephone. He had also been free to run a website that translated Islamic State propaganda. Prison authorities took away his phone and his internet access.

According to Counterterrorism.com, he was serving his second prison stint, a nine-year sentence imposed in 2010, but now faces new charges.

Its webpage says, "Despite incarceration, Abdurrahman has released his extremist sermons via email, Facebook, and in hard copy, according to researchers at the Brookings Institution. Abdurrahman's supporters, both in and out of prison, consider his publications to be key sources of jihadist discourse."

Source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/22/isis-finds-easy-recruits-in-prisons-of-indonesia/

Hard-line & vigilante groups

No mediation with Habib Rizieq: PDI-P

Jakarta Globe - January 22, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, has rejected a request from firebrand cleric and Islamic Defenders Front leader Habib Rizieq Shihab to resolve his dispute with the party through mediation.

Idham Samawi, PDI-P's central leadership board chairman, said on Saturday (21/01) the party's lawsuit against the cleric will be resolved through the court.

"We are a law-abiding nation. A legal dispute should be resolved through the court. As they say, you will reap what you sow," Idham said in Jakarta.

Idham said PDI-P will not compromise when it comes to protecting Indonesia's state ideology, Pancasila. "No debate when it comes to Pancasila," he said.

Rizieq had already been imprisoned twice for inciting hatred in 2003 and 2008. The cleric has toned down his voice after urging the police to mediate with those who have filed reports against him, as well as visiting the House of Representatives to argue his case and sought support from lawmakers.

Rizieq is currently facing five separate charges, including blasphemy, insulting Pancasila, hate speech and claiming that the new rupiah banknotes feature a concealed hammer-and-sickle logo of the long-disbanded Indonesian Communist Party or PKI.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/no-mediation-habib-rizieq-pdi-p/

Police arrest man who allegedly defamed Indonesian flag

Jakarta Post - January 21, 2017

Jakarta – The police said Friday they had arrested the person who allegedly hoisted an Indonesian red-and-white flag emblazoned with Arabic script and two crossed swords during a recent hard-line Muslim rally.

The man, identified only as NF, was arrested last night, said Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono.

"We arrested him in Pasar Minggu [South Jakarta]. He is from Klender in East Jakarta," Raden said as quoted by kompas.com, adding that investigators also seized the flag in question and the motorcycle used to carry the flag.

NF will be charged with defaming State symbols. He could be imprisoned for up to five years if found guilty of violating a 2009 law on State symbols, flags and the national language.

Photos and videos of a man hoisting the flag stamped with Arabic script and two crossed swords recently went viral on social media. The incident was said to have happened during an Islam Defenders Front (FPI) rally on Monday.

The FPI argued that in August 2013, the band Metallica visited Indonesia and showed an Indonesian flag with "Metallica, Solo-Indonesia" written on it, and that this too constituted a violation of the same law.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, whose hometown is Surakarta, or Solo, attended the concert in Jakarta as Jakarta governor. (saf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/21/police-arrest-man-whoallegedly-defamed-indonesian-flag.html

Noose tightens around FPI leader

Jakarta Post - January 20, 2017

Haeril Halim and Arya Dipa, Bandung/Jakarta – Once lauded by his followers for standing in front of two-large scale rallies in Jakarta last year, Rizieq Shihab, the notorious leader of the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI), is now being investigated by the West Java Police, an ironic turn of affairs.

For the last few months, Rizieq has been the loudest advocate for pushing blasphemy charges against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is currently seeking re-election in the Jakarta gubernatorial race. After Ahok was named a suspect in the case and later stood trial, Rizieq continued to strongly voice his animosity toward the governor, whom he repeatedly called a "religion mocker".

The rallies also bolstered growing sectarianism in the country and somehow catapulted his notoriety to a higher level, generating concerns that Indonesia's pluralism might be at risk.

However, Rizieq, who was twice sentenced to prison for inciting hatred in 2003 and 2008, has now toned down his voice as he is asking the National Police to help him mediate with the people who have filed police reports against him. He even visited the House of Representatives on Tuesday to report the issues he was facing.

Rizieq now faces public scrutiny as the police investigate five separate cases. These cases relate to Rizieq's alleged blasphemy toward Christianity, insults to the State ideology Pancasila, comments over supposed communist symbols on Rupiah bank notes and hate speech.

Rizieq is seen by many as the initiator of the massive rallies under the banner of the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI). The rallies attracted other conservative Islamic organizations and were joined by nearly half a million people in Jakarta. Now, however, it seems as though only his own group is coming to his defense.

In what appears to be a turn of events for Rizieq, hundreds of people from several non-governmental organizations in Bandung, West Java, voiced their displeasure of him on Thursday. An irony, as the province is notorious for its rampant intolerance from hard-line and conservative Islamic groups, which also participated in the Rizieq-led rallies.

The protestors called on the government to disband the FPI, arguing that the group had been actively involved in encouraging and supporting intolerant activities.

"This is a form of solidarity to show that we, the people of West Java, are peaceful and united against intolerance. We will fight any anti-Pancasila group," Fauzan Rachman, the chairman of the Indonesian Grassroots Movement (GMBI), said during the rally.

One of the legal cases surrounding Rizieq presently being investigated by the West Java Police relates to an alleged insult to Pancasila, reported by the daughter of former president Sukarno, Sukmawati Soekarnoputri, in October last year. He was grilled by West Java Police investigators last week over his alleged speech that went viral on social media.

West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan said the police had upped the status from preliminary investigation to full investigation in the Pancasila case. His status is still that of a witness in the case, said National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Awi Setiyono on Thursday.

Adi Prayitno, an expert in political Islam from the State Islamic University (UIN), said Rizieq's confidence grew too aggressively after the Jakarta rallies because he probably believed that the protesters would continue to follow him because of the success of the rallies.

"If Rizieq was named a suspect by the police then the move could dampen his dominance in the public sphere," Adi told The Jakarta Post.

Rizieq and several key members of the FPI did not respond to the Post's inquires. Novel Bamukmin, the secretary-general of the FPI Jakarta branch, refused to comment, saying that the Jakarta branch had no authority to comment on the central board.

[Indra Budiari and Marguerite Afra Sapiie contributed to this story.]

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/20/noose-tightens-around-fpi-leader.html

Calls mounting for disbandment of FPI

Jakarta Globe - January 20, 2017

Jakarta – Calls for the disbandment of the Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, have heightened after a succession of alleged acts of intolerance by the hardline organization.

Thousands of members of the United West Java People's Coalition demanded the disbandment of the FPI during a peaceful rally in Bandung, West Java, on Thursday (19/01).

Representatives of mass organizations, ulemas, nongovernmental organizations, student groups and members of the public submitted a petition to West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan after the rally in the hope it will be forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

"We ask the president, House of Representatives, People's Consultative Assembly, Indonesian Military chief, National Police chief and other authorized officials to immediately disband and ban the FPI," Indonesian Grassroots Movement (GMBI) chairman Fauzan Rachman said during the rally.

A similar action was organized by the Cleric Alliance Forum in Garut, West Java, on Wednesday, when around 200 people gathered to also demand the disbandment of the FPI.

In Ciamis, West Java, hundreds of members of the National Defenders of the Indonesian Unity Movement (GNP NKRI) demanded a similar course of action, in addition to the arrest of FPI leader Rizieq Shihab.

Regional leaders of the Ansor Youth Movement in Bangka Belitung have also rejected Rizieq's presence in the region, while urging President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the Home Affairs Ministry to disband the organization.

Teuku Taufiqulhadi, a member of House of Representatives Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, has meanwhile asked state officials to take firm action against intolerant groups.

"If [they are allowed], it means there will be no diversity, no spirit of pluralism in Indonesia, despite our state ideology of Pancasila. So do not force their perspectives on others," Taufiqulhadi said in Jakarta on Wednesday.

While calls for the disbandment of the hardline group have been raised for several years already, the FPI seems to be immune to such action.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker Masinton Pasaribu said now is a perfect time for the government to act against intolerant groups or any actions aimed at pressuring law enforcement agencies.

"The government should pay attention to this issue," Masinton said. He added that officials should reprimand, or even disband mass organizations if they persist with intolerant behavior.

"It is just like playing football, every violation should be sanctioned. Starting from yellow cards to red cards. If [these organizations] repeatedly violate the law, they should be given red cards. Disbandment of an organization is allowed by law," Masinton said.

The FPI and its sympathizers have repeatedly sparked controversies, including the recent attack on the office of the GMBI in in Ciampea near Bogor, West Java, in apparent retaliation of a violent clash between members of the two organizations in Bandung the day before.

Twelve people have so far been arrested and named suspects in connection with the arson attack. Rizieq is meanwhile facing a string of charges, ranging from blasphemy allegations and hate speech, to defamation.

He was also recently reported to the Jakarta Police for saying that the new Indonesian banknotes feature the logo of the long-disbanded and prohibited Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). Video footage of the speech in which he made the comment subsequently went viral on social media.

Several watchdog organizations and experts have called on the National Police to fast-track the investigations against him.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/calls-mounting-for-disbandment-of-fpi/

Arrest Rizieq Shihab for defaming Red-and-White flag: PDI-P lawmaker

Jakarta Post - January 19, 2017

Jakarta – A politician from the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has described the emblazoning of the national flag with crossed swords and Arabic script, allegedly by Islam Defenders Front (FPI) members, as a form of national betrayal.

"The FPI has spoiled the symbol and dignity of the state, the Red-and-White flag. The FPI has gone too far. It's high time for the police to take legal action," Tubagus Hasanuddin, a member of the House of Representatives, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"There should be no doubt the government must arrest and legally process [FPI leader] Rizieq Shihab," the former commander of the Indonesian Military's (TNI) Jakarta garrison said as reported by tribunnews.com.

He said members of the TNI and police as well as veterans would be offended upon learning that the conservative Muslim group had defaced the Red-and-White flag during a rally on Monday.

"Yes, demonstrating is the right of all citizens. But as a retired TNI member, I am offended by the FPI's act [defacing the flag]," he added.

A video showing FPI members flying the flag during a rally in front of the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta has gone viral. Police have said they will investigate the incident.(jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/19/arrest-rizieq-shihab-for-defaming-red-and-white-flag-pdi-p-lawmaker.html

Minister urges police to investigate hoisting of desecrated Indonesian

Jakarta Globe - January 19, 2017

Jakarta – Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo has called for an investigation into the hoisting of a desecrated Indonesian flag in front of the National Police headquarters in Jakarta by Muslim hardliners during a rally earlier this week.

"We ask the police to investigate [it thoroughly]," Tjahjo said in Sumedang, West Java, on Wednesday (18/01).

The minister said he had also sent a circular to all regional heads, instructing them to improve communications with religious, traditional and mass groups to maintain diversity.

"Police chief [Gen. Tito Karnavian] said one of our biggest domestic threats is the threat against diversity," Tjahjo added.

Police announced on Wednesday that they would investigate the incident, which involved the hoisting of an Indonesian flag, stamped with Arabic writing and the two crossed swords.

Investigators will also summon the coordinators of the rally, which was staged by the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

"We are currently investigating who hoisted [the flag]," Tito said. He added that the person responsible for this could face a minimum of one year in prison, if convicted.

Short video footage of the flag being carried during the rally on Monday has gone viral on social media. The rally was organized by the FPI to demand the dismissal of Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. M. Iriawan and West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/minister-urges-police-to-investigate-hoisting-of-desecrated-indonesian-flag/

Bali police to summon FPI spokesman Munarman over defamation allegations

Jakarta Globe - January 19, 2017

Jakarta – Bali Police are set to summon the spokesman of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, for questioning after reports of alleged defamation against the province's traditional security guards, known locally as pecalang.

The report was filed by dozens of local mass organizations, including the Sandi Murti Foundation, Ansor Youth Group, Bali Nahdlatul Ulama and Patriot Garuda Nusantara, against FPI spokesman Munarman at the Bali Police headquarters in Denpasar on Monday (16/01).

Bali Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Adj. Hengky Widjaja confirmed that the case is proceeding, with investigators questioning several witnesses, including I Gusti Agung Ngurah Harta of the Sandi Murti Foundation. "Investigators are still questioning witnesses at this stage," Hengky said on Wednesday.

The police will also question several expert witnesses to determine whether the case will enter the investigation phase.

"The plan is to question Imam Bukhori [of Gerakan Pemuda Ansor]. We will also question expert witnesses and [television network] Kompas in Jakarta," he added.

Santi Murti Foundation founder Ngurah Harta alleged that Munarman had lied when he told Kompas TV representatives that pecalang were used in Bali to attack homes of Muslim residents and prohibit them from performing their Friday prayers. Harta maintained that the relationship between Bali's Hindu and Muslim populations has been respectful and cooperative for decades.

Meanwhile, Hengky rejected Munarman's arguments in protest of the locus delicti, or crime scene, which is located in Jakarta, stating that the case is still valid in the Bali Police's jurisdiction because the video went viral and can be viewed by all Indonesians, regardless of where they are.

Plaintiffs also submitted the YouTube video titled "FPI Meets and Reprimands Kompas TV over Anti-Shariah News Framing" to police. The Bali Police cybercrime unit is currently handling the investigation, with Munarman's questioning expected to conclude by Jan. 25.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/bali-police-to-summon-fpi-spokesman-munarman-over-defamation-allegations/

'It was Twitter': Ministry explains suspension of FPI accounts

Jakarta Post - January 18, 2017

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – The Communications and Information Ministry has highlighted the right of social media giant Twitter to suspend accounts as it sees fit, including those of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI).

On Sunday, the micro-blogging site suspended three accounts affiliated with the group, namely @DPP_FPI, @syihabrizieq and @HumasFPI.

The director general of information application at the ministry, Samuel Abrijani, said Twitter had its terms of service and rules, and that anyone deemed to be violating those rules could be suspended.

Samuel told The Jakarta Post that the suspension had been entirely the decision of Twitter, without any interference from his office. "It was Twitter's decision. Its management has its own terms of service," he said on Wednesday.

"I don't know specifically what criteria are used by Twitter to suspend the accounts. I myself do not follow those accounts, so I don't know [the contents]," he added.

According to Twitter's explanations, accounts can be suspended because they fail to adhere to the policies set forth in the Twitter rules, which prohibit, among other things, engaging in activities that incite violent threats, hateful conduct on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/18/it-was-twitter-ministry-explains-suspension-of-fpi-accounts.html

Police investigate possible insult to state symbol during FPI rally

Jakarta Post - January 18, 2017

Safrin La Batu, Jakarta – National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said on Wednesday the police were investigating an alleged insult to a state symbol after images and video of the red-and-white flag stamped with sword images and Arabic writing during a recent Islam Defenders Front (FPI) rally went viral.

Tito said the police would question the coordinator and other individuals in charge of the rally, which was held on Monday in front of the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta.

"The red-and-white flag cannot be treated badly, among other things, by writing something on it. There is a law [prohibiting it] here in our country," Tito said at the Jakarta Police headquarters.

"We are investigating the case. Who made it, who planned it, who is the coordinator; they all will be summoned," Tito added.

Tito said if found guilty, the individuals responsible for insulting a state symbol could face one-year imprisonment. "We want [them] to be held responsible," Tito said.

Hundreds of FPI members and supporters flocked to the National Police headquarters on Monday to demand the dismissal of West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan, claiming that the two-star general had been partial in resolving a clash between the FPI and a mass organization in the province.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/18/police-investigate-possible-insult-to-state-symbol-during-fpi-rally.html

Petition calls for disbandment of FPI

Jakarta Post - January 18, 2017

Arya Dipa, Bandung, West Java – Hundreds of members of mass organization Gerakan Masyarakat Bawah Indonesia (Indonesian General Society Movement, or GMBI) have urged the government to immediately take tougher measures against the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), a hard-line group with a track record of religious-related violence.

In a petition they signed on Tuesday, GMBI members asked the government to disband the FPI. The GMBI started the petition because they argued the FPI had been causing division in society.

In the latest incident, a group of people suspected to be FPI members attacked and burned down GMBI secretariats in three cities, Bogor, Ciamis and Tasikmalaya, following a clash between the two groups during the police's questioning of FPI leader Rizieq Shihab at the West Java Police headquarters in Bandung last Thursday.

"They [FPI] have insulted the Pancasila [state ideology] and values of Sundanese culture," said GMBI chairman Fauzan Rahman on the sidelines of a hearing with lawmakers at the West Java Legislative Council complex.

Apart from the council, the petition has also been sent to the West Java National and Political Unity Agency (Bakesbangpol).

Fauzan claimed 12 mass organizations and non-government organizations supported the petition. He asserted that the petition was not an attack on ulemas but was specifically aimed at Rizieq, who had been appointed as the FPI's "great leader".

Rizieq was questioned on Thursday as a witness of a case involving defamation of a state symbol as reported by Sukmawati Soekarnoputri. The report was based on a two-minute video of Rizieq's speech at Gasibu Square in Bandung last year.

In his speech, which went viral on social media, Rizieq could be seen explaining what he called as the "differences" between the Pancasila that was proposed by first president Sukarno and the one stipulated in the Jakarta Charter.

"In the Sukarno-proposed Pancasila, God is on the buttock. Meanwhile, in the Pancasila proposed by the Jakarta Charter, God is on the head. Which one is better? The Sukarno-proposed Pancasila or the one in the Jakarta Charter?" said Rizieq.

Sukmawati reported the alleged insult of the Pancasila to the National Police's criminal investigation department (Bareskrim), which later handed over the case to the West Java Police.

Rizieq has been accused of violating Article 154 on insulting state symbols, and Article 310 on defamation of the Criminal Code (KUHP). (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/18/petition-calls-for-disbandment-of-fpi.html

House urged to take action against police's alleged bias

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The Islam Defenders Front (FPI) has called on lawmakers to push the National Police to investigate two of its high-ranking officers over alleged partiality in handling blasphemy cases involving the group's members.

FPI patron Rizieq Shihab, better known as Habib Rizieq, has reported West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan and Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Mochamad Iriawan to the police's Internal Affairs Division (Propam) for allegedly provoking clashes between FPI members and followers of other organizations.

"We want them to help push the police to enforce the law professionally. All individuals, members of the National Police, who defame religion must be legally processed," Rizieq told House of Representatives members, on Tuesday.

Rizieq reported Anton and Iriawan to Propam on Monday. Anton was accused of being the man behind the clash between FPI members and followers of the mass organization Gerakan Masyarakat Bawah Indonesia (Indonesian General Society Movement, or GMBI), which erupted when Rizieq underwent questioning at the West Java Police headquarters in Bandung last Thursday.

Anton admitted that he was the GMBI's patron, a position the FPI said had led to his one-sidedness in handling the clash.

Meanwhile, Iriawan was accused of provoking police officers to attack protesters during the massive rally held by several Islamic organizations, including the FPI, on Nov. 4, 2016. Rizieq claimed he had video recordings as evidence of the attack.

"We are sure that [National Police chief] Gen. Tito Karnavian has a strong commitment to law enforcement. However, he will find it difficult to enforce the law if individuals standing behind him do not uphold the essence of law enforcement itself." (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/17/house-urged-to-take-action-against-polices-alleged-bias.html

PDI-P accuses FPI of spreading hatred

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2017

Jakarta – The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has returned fire at the leader of conservative Muslim group the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), Rizieq Shihab, after he threatened to report PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri for blasphemy.

"Pak Rizieq Shihab has so far spread hatred and divided the nation. All factions of the PDI-P are united in their defense of Ibu chairwoman and the party," PDI-P secretary general Hasto Kristiyanto said in a statement on Tuesday as reported by tribunnews.com.

Rizieq who was questioned last week at the West Java Police headquarters in Bandung for allegedly insulting the state ideology Pancasila, threatened on Tuesday to report Megawati for insulting Islam.

In her speech during the celebration of the party's anniversary last week, Megawati called on the nation's "silent majority" to reject groups who threatened the unity of the nation and flouted the dictates of the Pancasila.

Hasto said Megwati's speech had been written based on her love of the nation and strong commitment to the state ideology and the Constitution. "If Pak Rizieq Shihab wants to challenge [Megawati], we are ready to face Pak Rizieq Shihab," he said. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/17/pdi-p-accuses-fpi-of-spreading-hatred.html

We are not afraid of FPI: PDI-P secretary general

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2017

Jakarta – The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) believes the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) has gone too far in disrupting the party's provision of free medical services in West Jakarta.

"[Our] patience has a limit. I want to convey my message to Bapak Rizieq that we are not afraid. We are ready to face them if they continue taking the law into their own hands," PDI-P secretary general Hasto Kristiyanto said in a statement on Tuesday as reported by tribunnews.com, referring to FPI leader Rizieq Shihab.

Kompas.com reported that a group of people believed to members of the FPI broke up the free medical services organized by the party's disaster mitigation department in Tambora, West Jakarta, on Sunday.

The activity was conducted as part of its campaign on behalf of Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and deputy gubernatorial candidate Djarot Saiful Hidayat, who were nominated by the PDI-P for the election slated on Feb. 15.

The FPI reportedly disrupted the activity after Djarot left the scene at about 2 p.m. The Jakarta Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) is currently investigating the incident. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/17/we-are-not-afraid-of-fpi-pdi-p-secretary-general.html

FPI wants Megawati questioned for allegedly 'insulting Islam'

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2017

Safrin La Batu, Jakarta – Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab has called on the National Police to question ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri for making a comment to the group during an event last week in which he considers blasphemous toward Islam.

Rizieq said the FPI had a CD it could present as evidence of Megawati's alleged blasphemous speech. He did not elaborate further.

"We will bring a CD of Megawati's speech in which she has insulted Islam and rukun Islam [the five pillars of Islam]," Rizieq said during a rally in front of the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta, on Monday.

Hundreds of FPI members attended the rally, where they demanded the dismissal of West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan for his alleged unfairness in handling a conflict between FPI and mass organization Gerakan Masyarakat Bawah Indonesia (Indonesian Grassroots Society Movement, or GMBI).

Rizieq previously shed light on the alleged blasphemy issue when he met House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Fadli Zon prior to the former's questioning for allegedly insulting the Pancasila (state ideology) at the West Java Police headquarters last week.

Rizieq claimed Megawati made the alleged blasphemous statements when she addressed her party's 44th anniversary last Tuesday. In her speech, Rizieq said, Megawati lambasted groups she labeled as "anti-diversity". She later called the groups as having a "closed-ideology" that had caused religious and ethnic-based conflicts in the country.

In her speech, Megawati also accused members of several groups, she labeled as "intolerant", of committing a "self-fulfilling prophecy". (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/17/fpi-wants-megawati-questioned-for-allegedly-insulting-islam.html

FPI leader Rizieq Shihab questions suspension of Twitter accounts

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The Islam Defenders Front (FPI) has slammed the blocking and suspension of three Twitter accounts affiliated with the conservative group.

The three accounts – @DPP_FPI, @syihabrizieq and @HumasFPI – are official information channels for the group on social media.

"We are wondering why they are suspended and who wanted it to happen. We're sure that Twitter wouldn't necessarily block certain accounts like that, but the Communications and Information Ministry has denied requesting the suspension," FPI leader Rizieq Shihab said after a hearing with House of Representatives Commission III overseeing human rights, security and legal affairs on Tuesday.

Rizieq said the suspensions had annoyed the FPI's supporters and restricted the freedom of press and information.

"Don't be surprised if later there are netizens who get angry and feel insulted and then make certain moves on social media through hashtags. The suspension has jeopardized the public's access to information," Rizieq added.

Netizens realized on Monday that the accounts had been suspended, with the message "The account you are trying to view has been suspended" appearing on each account.

Recently, the government has been aggressively "cleaning" up hoaxes and fake news, mainly on social media, blocking a number of websites and social media accounts that had allegedly spread hoaxes and provocative information. Previously the ministry blocked the website habibrizieq.com, owned by Rizieq. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/17/fpi-leader-rizieq-shihab-questions-suspension-of-twitter-accounts.html

Police chief should act firmly against intolerant groups: Lawyers

Jakarta Globe - January 17, 2017

Jakarta – Petrus Selestinus, coordinator of a team of lawyers called the Team of Defenders of Indonesian Democracy, or TPDI, has called on National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian to act firmly against intolerant groups.

The call came after a group of men assaulted an official of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in Petamburan area, West Jakarta, on Friday (06/01).

Petrus said the police chief should not give an impression that there is impunity for organizations, such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which commit acts of violence.

"The police seem to be needing public acceptance to act against these groups," Petrus said in Jakarta on Saturday.

"If law enforcement depends on public acceptance, it will become dangerous for smaller groups of people to express their ideas," he added. According to him, public acceptance will emerge with actions that benefit the society.

Earlier, the police have vowed to act against members of mass organizations who break the law.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/police-chief-act-firmly-intolerant-groups-lawyers/

Indonesia's police deny they are afraid to tackle hardline Islamic

Sydney Morning Herald - January 16, 2017

Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies, Jakarta – About 5000 members of the Islam Defenders' Front (FPI) turned up outside Indonesian police headquarters on Monday morning, to demand the removal of West Java's police chief.

But if the group, once considered fringe radicals, have become increasingly vocal, it is their leader, firebrand cleric Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, who some fear may have become too powerful for the police to touch.

Widely known as Habib Rizieq, he is being investigated over multiple reports of alleged blasphemy and slander, including his outlandish claim that the 100,000 rupiah note contains an image of the hammer and sickle, which is illegal in Indonesia.

A daughter of Indonesia's first president Sukarno has also reported him for allegedly insulting the state ideology, Pancasila, which carries a maximum sentence of five years' jail.

Habib Rizieq is yet to be named a suspect, however Jakarta police chief Muhammad Iriawan denied at a press conference that the police lacked the courage to do so. He said Habib Rizieq would also be summoned soon over his claims regarding the banknote.

"We have the law about hate speech," Iriawan said. "The Central Bank has said it isn't a hammer and sickle. It's called retroverso, a system to protect the money."

Iriawan said Habib Rizieq would also be summoned for allegedly insulting Christianity when he told Muslims in a sermon on Christmas Day: "If Jesus is the son of God, who is the midwife?"

Iriawan said the mass protests deployed by the FPI were not a factor in police decisions: "The state cannot be pressured."

It was a poster ridiculing Pancasila at an army base in Perth that was the catalyst for Indonesian military chief Gatot Nurmantyo's decision to partially suspend defence ties with Australia.

The FPI and Habib Rizieq's Twitter accounts – @DPP_FPI and @syihabrizieq – were suspended ahead of FPI's march to Indonesian police headquarters on Monday morning. Police deployed 2800 personnel to secure the protest.

The FPI had called for West Java police chief Anton Charliyan to be sacked, alleging he had incited thugs to attack FPI sympathisers when Habib Rizieq was summoned last Thursday to be questioned over the allegations that he insulted Pancasila.

Sukmawati Sukarnoputri had reported him to police for allegedly insulting Pancasila and Sukarno.

There are mounting concerns about an Islamist challenge to Indonesian President Joko Widodo's government as sectarian tensions simmer ahead of next month's gubernatorial elections.

The incumbent, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian universally known as Ahok, is standing trial for blasphemy over allegations he insulted Islam. He returns to court on Tuesday but the trial will drag on long after the February 15 elections.

Three mass protests – spearheaded by the FPI – were held last year demanding Ahok be jailed, with the final December 4 rally attracting an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 people. Another demonstration is planned for next month.

Iriawan said police could still handle security at these mass actions. Pressed on if it was worrying, he said: "Not yet [but] it's heading that way."

Tobias Basuki from the Centre for the Strategic and International Studies said the Indonesian government saw that intolerance was on the rise and the FPI was leading political Islam.

He said as an academic he opposed blasphemy laws and the defamation provisions in the electronic information and transaction (ITE) laws because they were often used against political opponents. However he said the FPI had been running rampant without repercussions.

One of Indonesia's most senior cabinet ministers, Luhut Pandjaitan, a close ally of the president, was last week asked by reporters if the FPI should be disbanded.

"We will rely on the law, so if a person is breaking the law, we can take action," he said. "For example, if a person hasn't paid his taxes that's a crime. So there are many means, many ways."

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/indonesias-police-deny-they-are-afraid-to-tackle-hardline-islamic-leader-20170116-gtsgas.html

FPI rally demands dismissal of West Java Police chief

Jakarta Post - January 16, 2017

Safrin La Batu, Jakarta – Hundreds of members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) staged a rally in front of the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta on Monday to demand the dismissal of West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan.

The FPI accused Anton of taking sides in handling a clash involving FPI members and an organization called the Indonesian Grassroots Community Movement (GMBI) during a questioning of FPI leader Rizieq Shihab by West Java Police last week.

Following the clash, a GMBI office in Bogor, West Java, was attacked and set on fire by a group of people, allegedly FPI members. West Java Police initially arrested 20 FPI members for allegedly taking part in the attack, naming some of them suspects.

FPI chairman Munarman, after meeting police representatives during the rally, said the FPI had reported Anton to the police's Internal Affairs Division (Propam) for violating police ethics by siding with the GMBI.

"He is not professional in doing his job. He protected and sided with thugs," Munarman said, referring to members of GMBI. "Police representatives said they would process our reports," he added.

The rally participants dispersed after police received their representatives and promised to follow up the reports according to the law. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/16/fpi-rally-demands-dismissal-of-w-java-police-chief.html

Evidence to prove FPI's culpability in Ciampea attack: Police

Jakarta Post - January 16, 2017

Jakarta – Although the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) denied any involvement of its sympathizers in a recent attack on the office of a mass organization in Ciampea, Bogor, West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan was certain the FPI was implicated, based on evidence found in the field.

"The lawyers team insisted it was not FPI members that committed the attack. Just [keep denying it]! If they were not the perpetrators of the attack, why did they file a detention delay request for several people we had arrested? Why did FPI members visit them at the detention facility?" asked Anton, as quoted by kompas.com on Monday.

"Eventually everybody will know which side is right and which is wrong. Anyone who has acted anarchically and caused damage will be sanctioned firmly, because Indonesia is a country that upholds the rule of law. So I do hope all West Java residents are willing to adhere to the law."

As reported earlier, a clash between FPI members and followers of mass organization Gerakan Masyarakat Bawah Indonesia (Indonesian Grassroots Society Movement, or GMBI) erupted when FPI leader Rizieq Shihab underwent police questioning at the West Java Police headquarters in Bandung, on Thursday.

Following the clash, several people believed to be FPI members attacked and burned down the GMBI secretariat in Tegalwaru village, Ciampea district, Bogor regency, early on Friday.

Anton said police would continue to investigate the case to find the mastermind or main actors behind the attack. Still, police would act carefully in determining the intellectual actors behind the attack and arson, he said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/16/evidence-to-prove-fpis-culpability-in-ciampea-attack-police.html

Mass groups report FPI's Munarman for alleged defamation

Jakarta Globe - January 16, 2017

Denpasar. A number of mass groups have reported Munarman, spokesman for Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, over alleged defamation of Bali's traditional security guards, known locally as pecalang.

The report was filed by dozens of local mass groups, including Sandi Murti Foundation, Ansor Youth Group, Bali Nahdlatul Utama and Patriot Garuda Nusantara, to Bali Police in Denpasar on Monday (16/01)

I Gusti Agung Ngurah Harta, founder and chairman of Sandi Murti Foundation, said Munarman had lied when he told a meeting with representatives from news broadcaster Kompas TV that pecalang had been used in Bali to attack homes of Muslims and prohibit them to do Friday prayers.

During the meeting, Munarman protested Kompas TV for what he called a biased angle in reporting a raid on food stalls in Serang, Banten, during the Ramadan fasting month last year. The report captured public attention and sympathy for food stall owner Saeni who shed tears during the raid by the Public Order Agency personnel.

Harta said the relationship between Bali's Hindu and Muslims has been respectful and well for decades.

"We want to report this defamation since there were no such things [attacks to Muslims and prohibition of Islamic Friday prayer] here. We live peacefully. No pecalang officers have ever prohibited Muslims from praying. Otherwise, they safeguarded the prayer," Harta told reporters at Bali Police.

The report will be handled by Bali Police cyber crime unit. The plaintiffs also submitted YouYube video "FPI Meets and Reprimands Kompas TV over Anti-Shariah News Framing" to police.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/mass-groups-report-fpis-munarman-alleged-defamation/

Pork Festival changes name to Imlek Culinary Festival following protests

Jakarta Post - January 21, 2017

Suherdjoko, Semarang – A culinary event named the Pork Festival, to be held at the Sri Ratu Supermarket in Semarang on Jan. 23 to 29, has undergone a name change to the Imlek Culinary Festival following protests from Islamic groups.

Chinese New Year, locally known as Imlek, falls on Jan. 28. The Islamic groups met with the festival's committee at the Semarang Police to discuss the event.

"The Pork Festival bothers us Muslims in Semarang. That's why we want the committee to cancel the festival and focus on the Imlek celebration. The event will still have pork stalls but they have to be closed off from the public eye," Danang Ansoru, spokesperson of the Semarang Islam Congregation Forum (FUIS) said Friday evening.

Danang said they had asked the committee to stand guard at the stalls to prevent Muslims from entering, but the request had been denied. The committee head of the festival, Firdaus Adinegoro, confirmed the name change. "The event is still on, we just changed the name," he said.

A FUIS statement issued on Jan. 20 in relation to the event was signed by several organizations, including Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, Muhammadiyah Youth, Indonesian Muslim Students Action (KAMMI), Indonesian Muslim Lecturers and Muhammadiyah.

FUIS demanded the police not issue permits for events that may spark public "concern". Semarang Police chief Sr. Comr. Abiyoso Seno Aji said the pork festival was legal and did not violate the law. He said he would be firm against people who attempted to disrupt the event. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/21/pork-festival-changes-name-to-imlek-culinary-festival-following-protests.html

Blasphemy article still needed: Muhammadiyah University expert

Jakarta Post - January 19, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Criminal law expert of Muhammadiyah University in Jakarta, Chairul Huda, said the blasphemy article as stated in Article 156 section (a) of the Criminal Code was still needed to maintain religious harmony in the country.

"Indonesia is a country full of diversity, including in its religions. Therefore we need this rule to protect this diversity," Chairul told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Chairul went on to say that the objective of the blasphemy law was to allow people with different religions to coexist by discouraging blasphemous speech.

Therefore when a blasphemy case occurs, such as with Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's case, the victims would not merely be Muslim, Chairul said.

Chairul added that he believed the country was not ready to abolish this law because some people still could not uphold pluralism and diversity. However, he noted that the law should be revised to be more specific.

"The word 'religion' is abstract. The law can be revised to be more specific, such as to regulate the insult of God, God's characteristics, prophets, rituals or the Holy Book," he said.

However, Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono told the Post earlier that the blasphemy law had violated human rights, in particular freedom of expression.

Andreas said Indonesia breached the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified in 2005, by keeping its blasphemy law valid.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/19/blasphemy-article-still-needed-muhammadiyah-university-expert.html

Bekasi mayor named patron of religious tolerance

Jakarta Post - January 16, 2017

Jakarta – Four church organizations in Bekasi, West Java, have named Bekasi Mayor Rahmat Effendi and Deputy Mayor Ahmad Syaikhu patrons of religious tolerance.

"The mayor and deputy mayor of Bekasi are leaders who have shown commitment and consistency in growing pluralism and peace and campaigning for the spirit of religious tolerance in the city," the Bekasi chair for joint Christmas celebrations, Hotman Pane, said on Sunday, as quoted by news agency Antara.

The honorable mention was made by the Bekasi chapter of the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI), the Indonesian Pentacostal churches, the Indonesian Communion of Churches and Evangelist Institutions and the Bekasi Catholic decanate during the joint Christmas celebrations at the Chandrabaga sports hall in South Bekasi on Saturday.

The church leaders lauded the Bekasi mayoralty for having established interreligious councils to promote interreligious harmony. Rahmat Effendi, who took office in 2010, has established interreligious councils in 56 subdistricts and 12 districts.

"As a city leader, I will uphold security and order in the city... Anyone, regardless of religions or race, can use public facilities in Bekasi city as long as they follow the rules and regulations," he said.

"Every citizen has the same dignity before the law. All are free, including to perform their religious activities," he said. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/16/bekasi-mayor-named-patron-of-religious-tolerance.html

Islam & religion

NU, Muhammadiyah suffer setbacks over their roles in society

Jakarta Post - January 19, 2017

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – The "Defending Islam" rallies centered recently in Jakarta have been widely perceived as a clear sign of a change in Indonesia's brand of Islam, which has heretofore long been acknowledged as "moderate".

What is worse is that Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's two biggest Islamic organizations, which are moderate, are no longer the main references of Muslims in the country for resolving religion-related problems.

"NU and Muhammadiyah are still the main destinations of public services in the field of education and health, but they are no longer a reference in religious matters," said Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) researcher Ahmad Najib Burhani in a discussion at the central executive board (PP) office of Muhammadiyah's Yogyakarta chapter on Thursday.

Prior to the massive rallies against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, sparked by allegations that he had committed blasphemy, he said, NU and Muhammadiyah leaders had called on their followers not to attend the events. Still, they participated in the rallies, as urged by the leaders of other religious organizations.

"One of the religious organizations is the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) led by Habib Rizieq," said Ahmad.

He was worried Indonesia's Islam could no longer be considered moderate because many Muslims did not want listen to the two organizations' teachings, which had in fact been formulated through thorough consideration. Instead, they now chose to listen to religious edicts formulated using thinking based on poor historical and sociological analysis.

Zuly Qodir of PP Muhammadiyah said the country's second biggest Islamic organization "must consolidate" so it could move faster in responding to national issues. "Otherwise, any decisions of the Muhammadiyah leaders will not be followed by their supporters on the grassroots level." (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/19/nu-muhammadiyah-suffer-setbacks-over-their-roles-in-society.html

Don't exploit MUI's edicts to influence the state: Police chief

Jakarta Globe - January 17, 2017

Jakarta – National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian has called on all parties to resist from exploiting edicts issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council, or MUI. The call comes after a series of controversial edicts that led to public outcry.

"Transnational groups try to prompt the MUI to issue certain edicts to gain influence over the state," Tito said during a discussion at the National Police Academy in Jakarta on Tuesday (17/01).

"We respect the MUI, but we don't want to see it exploited and influenced to issue edicts that contradict the spirit of Bhineka Tunggal Ika ['Unity in Diversity']," he added.

Tito said that although the MUI's fatwas, or edicts, cannot serve as legal references, they have lately had broad implications on the state and law enforcement.

He referred to the council's opinion that triggered disquiet among Muslims over the blasphemy allegations against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama. "It [the edict] has broad legal implications," Tito said.

He also said that another edict, which prohibited Muslims from donning Christmas attire, prompted vigilantes to raid shopping centers and destroy Christmas decorations. Tito has requested several law experts to interpret the legal standing of the organization's edicts.

"Who will enforce them? Who has the authority to introduce them to the public? We've seen groups trying to do it on their own in shopping malls, because it is still a gray area," Tito said.

According to Indonesian Muslim Scholars Association (ICMI) chairman Jimly Asshiddiqie, edicts issued by the MUI cannot serve as legal references.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/dont-exploit-muis-edicts-influence-state-police-chief/

'MUI edicts are not legally binding,' says former chairman of the

Jakarta Globe - January 17, 2017

Jakarta – Mahfud M.D., former chairman of the Constitutional Court, said that edicts issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council, or MUI, are not binding, unless they have been translated into law.

"Certification of halal products is binding, as it was made into law. But if an edict is not enacted, it is not legally binding," Mahfud said in Jakarta on Tuesday (17/01).

He said that if Muslims, for example, consume pork, despite the MUI's ban, they must not be prosecuted for doing so. "They cannot be punished; it is a sin, but not a criminal offense. Religious edicts are needed, but there is no [legal] obligation to follow them."

Mahfud added that only Islamic states, such as Saudi Arabia, have regulations whereby religious edicts (fatwas) automatically become law.

"There are guidelines, public norms, that should be respected, however, noncompliance with them cannot be penalized. For example, I smoke. It is not polite, but you cannot arrest me [for smoking]," he said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/mui-edicts-not-legally-binding-says-former-chairman-constitutional-court/

Sex, pornography & morality

YLBHI presents expert who opposes petition against extramarital sex,

Jakarta Post - January 19, 2017

Ina Parlina, Jakarta – Human rights defenders fought back at the Constitutional Court on Thursday as they presented an expert witness who says the state should not intervene in private affairs in an argument that goes in opposition of a petition seeking to criminalize both consensual sex outside marriage and homosexual sex.

The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), which was absent in last week's hearing session, brought its first expert witness, Ahmad Sofian, who argued that criminalizing consensual adult sex would bring only negative, unnecessary effects to society where unregistered marriages still occur.

"[Should it be criminalized] the state would eventually turn into a moral guardian, instead of focusing on its responsibility to maintain public order," Ahmad, who is an expert in criminal law, said.

He argued that the provisions in question laid in the Criminal Code were actually already aimed at protecting marriages and families.

YLBHI is currently exercising its legal standing in the hearing as the party that opposes the petition that was filed by a number of individuals of various backgrounds including lecturers, housewives and private employees grouped under the Family Love Alliance (AILA).

The petition aims to alter some provisions in the Criminal Code to criminalize both consensual sex outside marriage and homosexual activities.

The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) has also publicly opposed the petition. (jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/19/ylbhi-presents-expert-who-opposes-petition-against-extramarital-sex-homosexuality.html

Indonesian government says adultery is not a crime

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - January 18, 2017

Andreas Harsono – Indonesia's Ministry of Law and Human Rights this week defended the fundamental right to privacy in a Constitutional Court case hinging on a petition to criminalize adult consensual sex outside of marriage, or adultery.

In court to urge the judges to reject the petition, ministry official Hotman Sitorus described adultery as "against our morality," but argued that adultery fails to meet the legal criteria of a criminal offense.

Beginning in July 2016, a group of petitioners has asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of proposed changes to the criminal code. They are seeking amendments to laws on adultery (art. 284), rape (art. 285), and sex with a minor (art. 292) in Indonesia's criminal code.

Those efforts are cause for concern, particularly in light of the abusive impact of criminalization of adultery in Aceh province. Aceh is the only one of Indonesia's 34 provinces that can legally adopt bylaws derived from Sharia, or Islamic law. Aceh's Sharia-inspired adultery law has resulted in serious abuses since police began enforcing the local bylaw in 2009.

So-called Sharia police in Aceh have interpreted the broadly worded law to prohibit merely sitting and talking in a "quiet" space with a member of the opposite sex to whom one is not married or related, including without any evidence of intimacy. Human Rights Watch has documented such abuses as aggressive interrogation; conditioning the release of suspects upon their agreement to marry; and in one case, the Sharia police's rape of a woman during her detention.

Criminalization of consensual sexual relationships between adults, regardless of their marital status, violates their right to privacy under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia has ratified. The United Nations Human Rights Committee in 1994 ruled in the famous Toonan case that, "It is undisputed that adult consensual sexual activity in private is covered by the concept of 'privacy.'"

The Indonesian government has already signaled to the international community its support for the right to privacy. In 2013, Indonesia co-sponsored a UN Human Rights Council resolution on that right. Sitorus' robust defense of that right before the Constitutional Court is an important affirmation of the need to reject any efforts to criminalize adultery.

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/01/18/indonesian-government-says-adultery-not-crime

Agriculture & food security

Soybean, coffee, sugar down in 2016 due to wet weather

Jakarta Post – January 19, 2017

Stefani Ribka, Jakarta – Soybean, coffee and sugar plantations suffered bad harvests in 2016 due to a prolonged wet season.

Soybean production dropped by 7.2 percent to 890,000 tons from 960,000 tons in 2015. Coffee fell slightly by 0.01 percent to 639,305 tons from 639,412 tons and sugar dipped by 10.84 percent to 2.22 million tons from 2.49 million tons, data from the Agriculture Ministry shows.

"The drop in soybean production was a result of La Nina [the prolonged wet season]. Meanwhile, farmers were also discouraged from planting more due to low prices," said Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman at a hearing with the House of Representatives on Thursday.

The slight drop in coffee production, meanwhile, was purely caused by the unfriendly climate.

Amran said the ministry planned to expand plantations and increase productivity by distributing subsidized fertilizers and seedlings to growers of the commodities.

The ministry aims to jack up production of soybeans, coffee and sugar to 1.2 million tons, 750,000 tons and 2.95 million tons, respectively, this year.

Other products like rice, shallots, chili, corn, oil palm, cacao, rubber, beef, eggs and chicken all recorded production increases in 2016, ministry data shows. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/19/soybean-coffee-sugar-down-in-2016-due-to-wet-weather.html

Land & agrarian conflicts

Protest against Semen Indonesia's Rembang factory continues

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2017

Suherdjoko, Semarang, Central Java – Supporters of Jaringan Masyarakat Peduli Pegunungan Kendeng, a movement that rejects the development of a cement factory belonging to state-run cement maker Semen Indonesia in Rembang, Central Java, have said they will continue to stage protests until they are assured the factory's construction ceases.

In a front of a tent erected at the entrance of the Central Java gubernatorial office on Jl. Pahlawan, Semarang, the movement's activists have been carrying out orations to show their rejection of the Rembang factory's construction since Dec. 19 last year.

"We will continue to stage protests until no cement factory is built in Rembang," the rally's coordinator, Joko Prianto, told The Jakarta Post in Semarang on Monday.

Apart from the anti-factory group, there were several pro-factory organizations staging rallies periodically in front of the governor's office. However, both camps refrained from clashing.

On Monday evening, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo revoked the factory's construction permit as a follow up to a Supreme Court (MA) ruling, which ordered the suspension of the project. Citing the court ruling, he said, the environmental impact analysis (Amdal) of Semen Indonesia's Rembang factory that had been used as a reference to issue its initial permit was procedurally flawed.

"Several [important] items were not included in the documents, especially on the procedures and regulations on the limitation of limestone mining activities in the area's ground water basin. Concrete solutions to the needs of local residents have also not yet been addressed in the documents," said Ganjar, adding that the permit could be reinstalled once Semen Indonesia fulfilled the requirements demanded. (ebf)

Tough measures: Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo reads out a decree, which revokes a construction permit for state-run cement maker Semen Indonesia's cement factory in Rembang, Central Java, in a press conference on Jan. 16. (JP/Suherdjoko)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/17/protest-against-semen-indonesias-rembang-factory-continues.html

Film & television

Workers praise Wiji Thukul film but lament failure to show his labour

Kabar Buruh - January 22, 2017

Jakarta – As many as 240 workers from nine trade unions took part in a group viewing of a film about Wiji Thukul titled "Let the Words Rest" (Istirahatlah Kata-Kata) at the Cineplex 21 film theater, Taman Ismail Marzuki cultural centre, Jakarta.

The group viewing was supported by the film's production team with the intent of inviting labour groups because Wiji Thukul was seen as being very close to workers.

"Thukul in his time was very close to workers, he was present on the ground in labour advocacies. So we invited our comrade workers to watch [the film] together", said Wilson, one of the organisers of the group viewing.

The group viewings were divided into schedules, 12.15pm, 2.50pm and 7pm. Kabar Buruh also had an opportunity to take part in the group viewing at 2.50pm together with members of the Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI) and the Indonesian Labour Union Confederation (KPBI), who packed out one of the theaters.

In interviews following the screenings, workers had different opinions about the film which tells the story of the time when Thukul was on the run in Pontianak, East Kalimantan. Such as the view expressed by Hetty Susanti from the Indonesian Populist Trade Union Federation on the film and Thukul's poems which were so inspiring to workers.

"He voluntarily left his family for the sake of the people. And it showed also that his struggle was not easy. While he was on the run, in the film he was visibly afraid, fear that was identifiable, knowable and tangible. So he kept moving around", said Hetty.

According to Hetty, the film should be watched by all labour groups and the general public so that they get to know Thukul better and from various aspects.

Ilham Jimbo from KASBI also appreciated the film that presented a fighter for democracy and workers who fought the New Order regime of former President Suharto. It is very rare that Indonesian films show a figure from the labour movement.

Nevertheless, he also had criticisms of the film. For Ilham, the film failed to show how Thukul was identified with workers and resistance against Suharto's authoritarian regime. "Workers hoped the film would show him organising workers or demonstrations. His conflict with the regime was not really depicted", he said.

According to Ilham however, the film did indeed picture how during his time on the run Thukul was afraid and chose silence. "Actually much of the symbolism and narration in the film related the oppression by the government, although it wasn't seen clearly enough in the visuals", he added.

The film "Let the Words Rest" premiered on January 19. At its first showing the public's enthusiasm for the film was extremely high as was demonstrated by how quickly tickets sold at various cinemas.

On Tuesday January 24 a group viewing of the film will take place with Wiji Thukul's family. (gum)


Street performer and poet, People's Democratic Party (PRD) member Wiji Thukul disappeared in February 1998. It is suspected he was a victim of the military abductions along with other activists which disappeared in Solo (Central Java). The bodies of Thukul and three other PRD activists have never been found and they are presumed dead. Prior to his election, in June 2014 President Joko Widodo said that cases of missing persons should be solved immediately so that the country can look to a better future, adding that he knew Thukul well and he has to be found in whatever condition. Since being elected, his administration has made no attempt to fulfill this pledge.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Buruh Nonton Bareng Film Wiji Thukul "Istirahatlah Kata-Kata"".]

Source: http://kabarburuh.com/2017/01/22/buruh-nonton-bareng-film-wiji-thukul-istirahatlah-kata-kata/

Ahok says Wiji Thukul film 'important part of New Order history'

Kumparan - January 22, 2017

Jakarta Gubernatorial candidate Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama occupied his weekend watching the film "Let the Words Rest" (Istirahatlah Kata-Kata). Ahok said that the film about poet Wiji Thukul is an important part of the history of Suharto's New Order regime.

"This film is about the past authoritarian historical period and we can learn from his kindred", said Ahok after watching the film at the Block M Square in South Jakarta on Sunday January 22.

Ahok related how although Wiji Thukul has been declared missing, to this day his wife still believes that he will return home.

"I think this is the voice of the struggle of a person who was sincere. I think this is a very good film to watch so we can know about history before the fall of the New Order. We can see how Wiji Thukul's story fits in here", said Ahok.

Wiji Thukul was an activist who was disappeared in 1998. The film "Let the Words Rest" relates the story of the fugitive poet who fled to Pontianak, West Kalimantan, when he was being hunted down by the New Order, up until he was declared missing.


Street performer and poet, People's Democratic Party (PRD) member Wiji Thukul disappeared in February 1998. It is suspected he was a victim of the military abductions along with other activists which disappeared in Solo (Central Java). The bodies of Thukul and three other PRD activists have never been found and they are presumed dead. Prior to his election, in June 2014 President Joko Widodo said that cases of missing persons should be solved immediately so that the country can look to a better future, adding that he knew Thukul well and he has to be found in whatever condition. Since being elected, his administration has made no attempt to fulfill this pledge.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Ahok soal Wiji Thukul: Ini Perjuangan Orang yang Punya Hati".]

Source: https://kumparan.com/muhamad-iqbal/ahok-soal-wiji-thukul-ini-perjuangan-orang-yang-punya-hati

Armed forces & defense

Jokowi installs new Air Force chief of staff

Jakarta Post - January 18, 2017

Haeril Halim, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has inaugurated the former Defense Ministry's inspector general, Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, as the new Air Force chief of staff, replacing retiring Air Chief Marshall Agus Supriatna, whose tenure ends on Jan. 20.

The handover ceremony took place at the State Palace on Wednesday. The President had upgraded Hadi's military rank to that of a four star Air Chief Marshal to make the 53-year-old eligible for the post.

Hadi, a 1986 Air Force Academy graduate, is no stranger to the President. He served as head of the Adi Soemarmo air base in Surakarta, Central Java, when Jokowi was Surakarta mayor in 2010 and 2011.

In 2013, Hadi became the spokesman of the Air Force, and two years later he was assigned to become commander of the Malang Abdurrahman Saleh air base in East Java.

Jokowi, who was sworn in as the country's seventh President in October 2014, later promoted Hadi to become presidential military secretary in 2015.

Under Jokowi's administration Hadi's military career skyrocketed. Also in 2015, Hadi received another promotion to become the Defense Ministry's inspector general, and the State Palace increased his rank from a two star to three star Air Force general.

Hadi was among three generals recommended for promotion by Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo. The two other candidates were National Resilience Institute (Lemhanas) deputy governor Air Marshal Bagus Puruhito and deputy Air Force chief of staff Air Marshal Hadiyan Sumintaatmadja.

Given his relatively young age as Air Force chief of staff and his close relationship with Jokowi, rumors have it that Hadi will be prepared to become the next TNI commander when Gatot retires in 2018. Hadi has denied such speculation, saying "I am just a soldier following instructions from my commanding officer."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/18/jokowi-installs-new-air-force-chief-of-staff.html

Wiranto seeks to engage TNI in local affairs

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2017

Ina Parlina, Jakarta – A cross-sector meeting on border management led by Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo on Tuesday raised again a controversial plan to deploy military personnel to various areas outside Java and allow them to get involved in civilian affairs in the respective areas.

During the meeting, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto instructed local administrations to identify locations in border and remote areas where Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel could be deployed to help local people develop their areas by, among others ways, getting engaged in farming and the empowerment of the local economy.

"I have one month [to further discuss the plan]; therefore, what if [I give local leaders] one week [to identify the areas]?" Wiranto said in the meeting.

He later cited a recent success in a location in East Java where a company of soldiers was allowed to help locals to manage 40 hectares of rice fields.

Wiranto declined to either give more details about the plan or to comment on how deep the penetration of the military into civilian life would be.

Concerns over the growing military role in civilian matters have emerged in the past few years. Only last week President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo ordered the deployment of more military personnel to border areas to build both a stronger economy and defense. This sparked fresh debate as the President's call reminded many people in the country about the New Order military regime.

A 2015 Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) report revealed the military had attempted not only to expand its influence into civilian areas, but also to take back some powers from the police since Jokowi, a former governor who has no military background, took office over two years ago.

The military's clout in politics and civilian affairs during the dictatorship of late president Soeharto had been dramatically reduced over fears that a strong military role in non-combat operations would recreate the trauma of authoritarian rule.

In 2000, the TNI's authority in security affairs was stripped as part of a democratic reform movement, with the National Police, which was granted the sole authority to handle security, being removed from the TNI command structure. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/17/wiranto-seeks-to-engage-tni-in-local-affairs.html

National security & intelligence

Police question five more witnesses in probe of alleged anti-gov't plot

Jakarta Globe - January 19, 2017

Jakarta – Police have continued their investigation into an alleged plot against the government by questioning five more witnesses on Wednesday (18/01), an official said.

"There are some we have summoned for today. Five witnesses," said Sr. Comr. Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono, of the Jakarta Police. The police have again summoned economic and political observer Ichsanuddin Noorsy as a witness.

"We have yet to complete his statement, so we will summon him again. All these questioning sessions are related to evidence we found at UBK [Bung Karno University] and other locations [ahead of the Dec. 2 mass rally, which was to be used to plot against the government]," Argo said.

Investigators have examined the statements of nine witnesses on Tuesday, including M.S. Kaban and Rachmawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of former President Sukarno. Rachmawati was questioned at her home, as she was ill at that time.

"Everything is related to the meeting [where the alleged plot was discussed], and about who else was present there. We would like to know what type of information was conveyed there, and we question everyone who was present," Argo said.

He added that suspect Sri Bintang Pamungkas's case file has already been submitted to the prosecution. "There are two others that are ready to be forwarded [to prosecutors]," Argo said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/police-question-five-more-witnesses-in-probe-of-alleged-anti-govt-plot/

Foreign affairs & trade

Indonesian cable TV, property tycoon in DC to attend Trump's

Jakarta Post - January 18, 2017

Jakarta – MNC Group tycoon Hary Tanoesodibjo has arrived in Washington DC to attend the inauguration of the 45th US president, Donald Trump, on Jan. 20 DC time or Saturday Indonesian western time.

"That's right [Hary Tanoe will attend]," MNC Group corporate secretary Director Syafril Nasution said Tuesday evening as quoted by Antara news agency.

Syafril said Hary Tanoe had been in the US since Monday after receiving an invitation from Trump. He is staying at a hotel in front of the US Capitol, where the inauguration will take place.

Syafril said before the inauguration, Hary would meet with US investors. Hary is Trump's business partner in Indonesia. "That's right, we are planning to accelerate the project completion," he said.

Trump has two investments in Indonesia: Trump International Hotel & Tower in Bali and Trump International Hotel & Tower in Lido in Bogor, West Java. In an interview with Bloomberg, Hary said he had a business relationship with Trump, not political. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/18/indonesian-cable-tv-property-tycoon-in-dc-to-attend-trumps-inauguration.html

Indonesia achieves higher trade surplus in 2016

Jakarta Post - January 16, 2017

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – Indonesia recorded a trade surplus of US$8.78 billion in 2016, marking a 15 percent increase from the surplus of $7.61 billion achieved a year earlier, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

A 4.93 percent year-on-year decline in imports to $135.65 billion contributed to the trade surplus by more than making up for a 3.95 percent fall in exports to $144.43 billion.

However, as BPS head Suhariyanto explained at a press conference at his office on Monday, "That means our international trade has not recovered yet, because our exports are still sluggish."

BPS deputy head for distribution and statistics Sasmito Hadi Wibowo said exports of some commodities, such as crude oil and crude palm oil, had benefited from rising prices.

In December, crude oil prices were $51.09 per barrel compared to $37.04 per barrel in Dec. 2015, while crude palm oil prices reached $711.76 per metric ton compared to $520.6 per metric ton a year earlier.

"In terms of volumes, exports decreased, but the price hike has reduced that effect," he said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/16/indonesia-achieves-higher-trade-surplus-in-2016.html

Mining & energy

Indonesia pledges leeway for obedient miners

Jakarta Post - January 16, 2017

Viriya P. Singgih, Jakarta – The government has reiterated that local miners, particularly nickel, bauxite and copper miners, will be allowed to export their products should they express a commitment to build their own smelters and be able to supply domestic smelters with at least 30 percent of their input capacity.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration issued on Jan. 11 the fourth revision to Government Regulation No. 23/2010 on the management of mineral and coal businesses, which allows miners to continue exporting copper concentrates, certain amounts of low-grade nickel ore and washed bauxite under certain conditions.

"Nickel and bauxite miners can export after supplying 30 percent of the input of existing domestic smelters. They also have to be committed to building their own smelters within five years," Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said Saturday in a press briefing.

"We will monitor [the progress] every six months. If they fail to fulfill the commitment to build the smelters, there will be no export licenses for nickel and bauxite miners."

Jonan said there had been a misunderstanding over the newly-launched regulation, as many people interpreted that it was forcing local miners to funnel 30 percent of their nickel or bauxite production into local smelters, even though, he said, the correct calculation was based on the total capacity of all domestic smelters.

For instance, the total input capacity of nickel smelters in the country currently stands at 16 million tons per year. Meanwhile, the total production for low-grade nickel – with nickel content below 1.7 percent – stands at 10 million tons per year.

"So that means the nickel miners must sell to domestic smelters for about 30 percent of the 16 million tons of smelter capacity, or equal to 4.8 million tons, not of the 10 million tons of production capacity," he said.

The government, Jonan continued, would serve as the "traffic manager" for the supply chain system in order to prevent unfair implementation of the regulation. For example, this is possible if there are only two or three companies supplying 4.8 million tons of nickel to local smelters through their own production.

According to the Processing and Smelting Companies Association (AP3I), 32 new smelters have been built in the country – 24 of which are nickel smelters – within the past four years with a total investment value of around US$20 billion.

The ban was a boon to rival producers as their output filled the hole, Bloomberg reported.

The Philippines became the world's biggest supplier of mined nickel and the largest shipper to China. Now, their shares are tumbling. Nickel Asia Corp., the country's top producer, fell 14 percent on Friday along with Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. and GMK Norilsk Nickel PJSC.

The change in regulations may also upset Chinese investors that pumped money into developing Indonesia's domestic processing industry. Citigroup had forecast a 180 percent increase in capacity by 2020, to about 400,000 tons, according to Bloomberg.

The 2009 Mining Law stipulates a mineral ore export ban to encourage smelter development in the country and to strengthen the processing sector. It has been applied to nickel, bauxite, chromium, gold, silver and tin.

However, because none of the proposed smelters were completed, including the one committed to by gold and copper miner Freeport Indonesia, the government has been forced to issue a new regulation extending export permits for certain mineral ores.

One of the requirements for miners to get an export recommendation from the government is to convert their permit status from a contract of work (CoW) to a special mining license (IUPK).

The government stated that Freeport Indonesia, the subsidiary of US giant Freeport McMoRan, had submitted an official letter confirming its commitment to convert its CoW into an IUPK. "They also mentioned their commitment to build the smelter within five years. If so, we will issue the export recommendation for them immediately," Jonan said.

Freeport Indonesia claims it has allocated $2.2 billion in capital expenditure for the new smelter development, even though only $212.9 million has been disbursed so far, including $115 million as collateral to the government and $50 million to work on the smelter's environmental impact analysis (Amdal) document and basic engineering.

"Freeport Indonesia has presented to the government its willingness to convert [its CoW] into an IUPK, that will happen if there is an agreement over investment stability and also fiscal and legal certainty," Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

The company has also confirmed its commitment to continue its new smelter development soon after it receives certainty over its contract extension for its Grasberg mine in Papua, the world's largest gold mine and third-largest copper mine.

Freeport Indonesia's contract is due to expire in 2021. However, the earliest miners can renegotiate their contracts is five years before they expire under the latest regulation.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/16/indonesia-pledges-leeway-for-obedient-miners.html

Jonan tells Freeport to release 51 percent of shares

Jakarta Post - January 16, 2017

Jakarta – Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan has stressed that the government will require mining giant PT Freeport Indonesia to release 51 percent of its shares, stressing that there is no exception in abiding by the new mining regulation.

"There is no exception to the divestment. It must be 51 percent of its shares," said Jonan on Monday, as reported by tempo.co.

The requirement for mining companies to divest 51 percent of their shares is stipulated in Government Regulation No. 1/2017 on the mineral and coal mining business. Initially, Freeport was only required to sell 30 percent of its shares, because the company has underground mining operations.

Jonan made the statement at his office in Jakarta on Friday, where he had a meeting with Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold Inc. president Richard C. Adkerson and Freeport Indonesia president director Chappy Hakim.

Jonan also said that Freeport had submitted an official letter confirming its commitment to convert its contract of work (CoW) to a special mining production (IUPK) license, as required by the new regulation.

"They also mentioned their commitment to building a smelter within five years. If so, we will issue the export recommendation for them immediately," the minister added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/16/jonan-tells-freeport-to-release-51-percent-of-shares.html

Electricity privatization regulation introduced to boost rural access

Jakarta Post - January 16, 2017

Fedina S. Sundaryani, Jakarta – The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has officially launched a ministerial decree, which allows private companies to develop their own electricity grids that are separate from state-owned electricity firm PLN.

On Monday, Energy and Mineral Resources Deputy Minister Arcandra Tahar introduced Ministerial Decree No. 38/2016 that was aimed to help expedite electricity development in 2,500 remote villages across the nation.

"This is an innovation from the government to provide a legal basis that will allow for fairer energy procurement and to increase the ratio of villages with electricity in Indonesia, which has only reached 96.95 percent out of a total 83,190 villages," he said at the ministry's Electricity Directorate General headquarters in Jakarta.

According to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), there are still 2,519 villages that had no electricity in 2014. Furthermore, PLN's plans until 2019 only covers 504 villages to be lit up through village electricity procurement projects.

The latest ministerial decree will allow private companies, provincial administration-owned companies and cooperatives to set up off-grid power plant projects in remote villages, 2,376 of which are located in Papua and West Papua.

Private investors must focus on procuring electricity through a hybrid-power system, supported by both renewable energy sources and conventional fossil fuels.

A hybrid-power system combines two or more modes of electricity production, usually involving at least one renewable energy source to ensure the villages can maintain power 24 hours a day. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/16/electricity-privatization-regulation-introduced-to-boost-rural-access.html

Infrastructure & development

Jokowi asks TNI, police to tackle obstacles to national development

Jakarta Post - January 16, 2017

Haeril Halim, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Thursday opened the four-day Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police leaders meeting at TNI headquarters in Jakarta, instructing the two institutions to move fast to tackle any barriers that could hamper the government's national development programs in 2017.

Jokowi asked the 184 TNI and 78 high-ranking National Police officials attending the annual event to be prepared to face social and economic challenges that could result from a long-lasting global economic slowdown this year.

"We need to implement the right policies to take on challenges we may face [this year]," Jokowi said in his opening remarks at the forum.

TNI commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said the meeting was crucial to discuss efforts the TNI and National Police would take to face global challenges that could affect Indonesia this year.

"The global competition is tough now, with global players eyeing the energy and food as well as water potential available in countries like ours. This competition, if unchecked, could become a conspiracy by big countries that could pose a threat [for Indonesia]," Gatot said.

Before attending the TNI and National Police leaders meeting, Gatot took Jokowi and National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian to ride a new Anoa Amphibious tank by made by state-owned land system and weapons maker PT Pindad to cross a lake located inside TNI headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta.(jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/16/jokowi-asks-tni-police-to-tackle-obstacles-to-national-development.html

Economy & investment

Indonesian policymakers prepare for US transition

Jakarta Post - January 21, 2017

Grace D. Amianti and Stefani Ribka, Jakarta – In anticipation of a changing US economic direction with the inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump, Indonesian policymakers have vowed they are ready, with sufficient measures at hand to tackle potential problems.

Bank Indonesia (BI) says it will work closely with the government to ensure domestic economic stability as the recent increase in the Federal Reserve's funds rate and several hikes planned this year will likely translate into higher global interest rates and inflation.

Higher global rates would force companies to adjust to rising US dollar borrowing costs against a backdrop of fiscal and trade uncertainty, said BI Governor Agus Martowardojo.

"We are anticipating the US economy becoming more protectionist. As for Indonesia, it may need to seek new export destinations, because its exports to the US have reached US$15 billion," he said on Friday.

Agus added that BI and the government would take concerted measures to manage inflation, such as improving the distribution of food commodities to curb volatile prices.

The central bank aims for the inflation rate to stay in check between 3 percent and 5 percent, while the government expects it to stay at around 4 percent.

The central bank will maintain its presence in the foreign exchange market and in the secondary market for government bonds, despite the appreciation of the rupiah by 2.3 percent throughout last year.

Capital inflows had reached Rp 18 trillion since the start of the year, far higher than the Rp 3 trillion seen in the same period last year, due to high demand for Indonesian government bonds, BI explained.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati acknowledged that the exchange rate and inflation were seen as the country's most volatile spots if global markets turn jittery, which could cause inflationary pressure in the domestic economy, as subsidies for fuel and certain electricity tariffs were cut.

The ministry's financing and risk management directorate general had been ordered to remain cautious of surging yields due to potential outflows, particularly in the three-month treasury bill (SPN), the rate of which is assumed at 5.3 percent in this year's budget.

Given the uncertainty on revenues, the government will also try to ensure its expenditure is well absorbed, particularly in the regions, as they received more funds, according to Sri.

The government seems to be less worried about the protectionist stance the Trump administration may take on trade, despite the fact that the US is a major Indonesian export destination.

Trade Minister Enggartiasto "Enggar" Lukita said he believed the two countries would still trade as usual, because the commodities and goods exchanged between them were complementary.

"I believe there's no such thing as complete protectionism. US-Indonesian trade will keep going on; we just need to increase our product quality to ensure our competitiveness," he said recently.

Indonesia exported $16.27 billion worth of goods to the world's biggest economy in 2015, while it imported products worth $7.61 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $8.65 billion.

The ministry will continue its push to diversify exports to non-traditional destinations, including African and South Asian countries, such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Major Indonesian export goods to the US include textile, footwear and fisheries products. Textile makers under the Indonesian Textile Association have expressed their confidence that US protectionism would not affect Indonesian textile and garment products.

API chairman Ade Sudrajat said what concerned the businesspeople was the shrinking competitiveness of Indonesian products due to internal factors, including high costs of labor and logistics.

However, fisheries producers expressed worry over non-tariff barriers potentially imposed by the US.

The chairman of the fisheries division of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo), Thomas Darmawan, said allegations over unfair trade practices would be a major issue exporters would watch out for.

Indonesia is the second-biggest exporter of fisheries products to the US, according to data from the Center of Reform on Economics (CORE) Indonesia.

Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen earlier this week said she expected to see three interest rate hikes until 2019, as the US was rebounding from the worst financial crisis since the Great Recession.

Trump has repeatedly said that he wants to see factories produce goods locally to bring back American jobs and therefore, will impose higher tariffs on imported goods, which many partners see as a threat of rising protectionism

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/21/indonesian-policymakers-prepare-for-us-transition.html

China's investment reaches US$1.6 billion in Indonesia

Jakarta Post - January 20, 2017

Jakarta – The Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) recorded investment of US$1.6 billion from China up until the third quarter of last year, making the country the third-biggest investor in Indonesia after Singapore and Japan.

"It took only nine months for China to reach third position," said BKPM third region director Wisnu Wijaya Sudibyo as reported by tempo.co on Friday.

The use of Chinese technology in Indonesia contributed to the large amount of Chinese investment in Indonesia, said Wisnu, adding that countries such as Singapore and Japan also used Chinese technology in their products.

Amid rumors of the high inflow of Chinese workers to Indonesia, Wisnu said his institution was not authorized to prevent the arrivals of foreign workers. "We have no authority to monitor whether a company has a foreign workers employment permit [IMTA]," he added.

The Manpower Ministry recorded 21,121 Chinese workers in Indonesia in 2016. The ministry, in cooperation with the immigration office, found 1,324 cases of illegal employment due to the absence of an IMTA. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/20/chinas-investment-reaches-us1-6-billion-in-indonesia.html

Indonesia's foreign debt sees slow growth in November

Jakarta Post - January 17, 2017

Grace D. Amianti, Jakarta – Indonesia saw its external debt continue to grow slowly last November as companies reduced foreign loan, Bank Indonesia (BI) data has showed.

The data showed that Indonesia's foreign debt grew by 3.6 percent year-on-year (yoy) to US$316 billion as of November last year, slower compared to the 6.5 percent yoy growth a month earlier.

"The slower growth was mainly contributed by deceleration in the public sector's external debt and the decline in private ones. The deceleration occurred both in long- and short-term foreign debts," the central bank said in a statement on Monday.

Private sector foreign debt declined by 3.4 percent yoy in November, lower than 2 percent yoy in October. Meanwhile, public sector foreign debt also declined by 12.1 percent yoy, from 17 percent yoy in October.

Indonesia's foreign debt in November was dominated by the private sector with 51.5 percent. More than 76 percent of the private sector's external debt in November was contributed by the financial, processing, mining, electricity, gas and water sectors.

"BI sees that external debt development in November last year remained relatively healthy, but will still be aware about the risk toward the national economy. BI will continue monitoring this development, particularly in the private sector's external debt," the central bank wrote. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/16/indonesias-foreign-debt-sees-slow-growth-in-november.html

Banking & finance

Tax amnesty fails to boost taxpayer numbers

Jakarta Post - January 20, 2017

Jakarta – The first and second round of the tax amnesty, which ended Dec. 31, 2016, have not significantly increased the number of taxpayers, according to data from the Ministry of Finance's Directorate General of Taxation.

In 2016 the number of new taxpayers reached only 3.05 million, compared to 2.73 million in 2015 and 2.66 million in 2014.

The figure is smaller than the number of additional taxpayers following the sunset policy program between 2008 and 2009 as the total number of taxpayers reached 15.74 million in 2009 from 10.29 million in the previous year.

The total number of taxpayers currently was 35.83 million, according to the tax office as reported by tribunnews.com on Friday.

Directorate General of Taxation's compliance director Yon Asral said the government's policy on taxation might affect the number of taxpayers. "The government has increased the income ceiling for those who do not need to pay taxes," he added.

In addition, there were still many people who had not obtained a tax identification number (NPWP), Yon added.

Although the amnesty had failed to boost the number of taxpayers, the tax office now had a more complete taxpayer database, particularly on assets owned by large taxpayers, Yon said.

The tax amnesty is now in its third round, which will end on March 31. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/01/20/tax-amnesty-fails-to-boost-taxpayer-numbers.html

Analysis & opinion

A matter of principles

New Mandala - January 18, 2017

Recent reports of a suspension of military cooperation between Indonesia and Australia were wildly exaggerated, but they emphasise the importance of proper intercountry linguistic, cultural and political understanding, Bradley Wood writes.

Indonesia's official state ideology, the Pancasila, has re-emerged as a dominant feature in political rhetoric, while also being perceived as a vulnerable political target by Indonesia's political elite during a very sensitive time in Indonesia.

It's no surprise then, that the recent bilateral incident between Australia and Indonesia involving the alleged laminated display of the political send-up 'Pancagila' (the five crazy principles), along with other politically sensitive training material about Indonesia's chequered past in West Papua provoked an official response.

There have long been suspicions among Indonesia's political elite about Australia's intentions regarding West Papua dating back to Indonesia's independence. These continue to linger in the minds of some Indonesians because of Australia's instrumental role in securing East Timor's independence. This latest development has only raised the spectre of such pre-existing suspicions.

Recent political rhetoric in Indonesia has centred on reminding Indonesia's citizens about its founding principles, namely the Pancasila – the five principles that make up Indonesia's official ideology. This follows mass demonstrations backed by Indonesia's Islamic hardliners in November and December last year, against the incumbent Jakarta Governor, locally known as Ahok, for alleged blasphemy. Various political forces within Indonesia have capitalised on these events in the run-up to next month's regional elections, which includes the Jakarta Governor's seat, now seen as an ascension pathway to the presidency.

Inaccurate reporting of the 'Pancagila' incident, based on the initially limited coverage in the Indonesian press, gave rise to a public perception in Australia that it had caused a significant suspension in military cooperation between the two countries. The Australian media continued its media frenzy even after a detailed press conference by the outspoken Commander of Indonesia's military (TNI) General Gatot Nurmantyo. This further fuelled the speculation of a blanket freeze on military cooperation, despite Gatot's emphasis on the good relationship he has with the Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), Mark Binskin.

This media controversy, however, has since been adequately framed as a miscommunication between the TNI, the Ministry of Defence, and the Presidential Press office. A belated press release was eventually produced by the Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law, and Security, and former Commander of the TNI, Wiranto. This clarified the Indonesian Government's position – that only a specific language training program between the two countries had been temporarily suspended.

The 'Pancagila' send-up that was reportedly sighted by an Indonesian language trainer at the Campbell Barracks in Perth, however, was not an Australian creation. Last year, an Indonesian court chose not to impose criminal sanctions after an Indonesian activist posted the Pancagila principles on Facebook, signalling an historic moment for freedom of expression in Indonesia. It has also been widely used on social media by a number of Indonesian-associated accounts that date back to at least 2011.

Translated, it reads: Belief in the one and only God/The Financial Almighty; Just and civilised humanity/Corruption that is fair and equitable; The unity of Indonesia/The unity of the political elite within Indonesia's legal system; Democracy guided by the inner wisdom in the unanimity arising out of deliberations amongst representatives/Power which is led by lust and depravity in the conspiracy of hypocrisy; and, Social justice for all people of Indonesia/Social security for the whole family of officials and representatives.

There is no doubt that the public display of such content at a language training facility at the Campbell Barracks – where it would be seen by Indonesian defence colleagues – was a significant political mistake, with potentially serious implications for the bilateral defence relationship.

However, the use of sensitive political material, such as 'Pancagila', by the ADF's language students is important to Australia's official language and cultural training. Politically sensitive material like this provides a valuable insight into Indonesia's internal political dynamics from an indigenous perspective, and it's these insights that contribute to a better understanding of Indonesia's human terrain.

The outcome of an inquiry by the Chief of the Australian Army, Angus Campbell, is likely to have already been delivered, and there have been reports that indicate Australian defence personnel have already been reprimanded. It is important, however, that the Australian Army evaluate these language materials beyond their politically sensitive attributes, as they improve their linguistic and cultural understanding about their largest neighbour and, arguably, their most important non-aligned defence relationship – where respective interests often differ, but can also be managed.

With such a diverse makeup in Indonesia, SARA tensions – a security acronym used to explain ethnic, religion, race, and inter-group inspired conflict – will likely continue to be a part of the internal dynamics of Indonesia's democratic process. The challenge for Indonesia will be managing these tensions within the confines of its post-reformasi democratic limits, without using the extreme concept of an external proxy war involving Australia, to build its national cohesion. However, reminding Indonesia's large population about Pancasila and Indonesia's national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) may play an effective role here.

Indonesia continues, however, to face internal challenges to the Pancasila ideology by hard-line Islamic groups, such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). These groups have also recently been trained by the TNI's district command, albeit without official approval, as part of Indonesia's civil defence program known as Bela Negara. Gatot Nurmantyo, however, has defended the right of the FPI to participate in the civilian defence training and there has been at least one approved incident of FPI members engaging in civil defence training that dates back to 2014.

While this is only basic civil defence education centred around building a sense of patriotism, national awareness, and belief in the Pancasila ideology, it demonstrates the complexities of Indonesia's policy response to uniting such a diverse population. In this case, it appears that the TNI is playing an active role, and it's therefore within the ADF's purview to understand this development in its entirety.

The ADF needs to pay attention to these internal dynamics and political sensitivities in Indonesia to prevent any miscommunication when it comes to Australia's laid back sense of humour regarding world politics. However, preventing the use of politically sensitive material across all ADF Indonesian language programs, risks limiting the ADF's nuanced understanding of current developments impacting on the internal security of a very important archipelagic neighbour.

[Bradley Wood is a Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) student at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs.]

Source: http://www.newmandala.org/a-matter-of-principles/

A new leaf for land rights?

New Mandala - January 17, 2017

Willem van der Muur – Three years have already passed since the Indonesian Constitutional Court ruled that indigenous adat forests are not part of state-owned forest.

But until recently the central government has done next to nothing to implement the breakthrough ruling. The latest recognition of nine adat forest indicates that this has finally changed. Still, the exact implications of such recognition remain uncertain, especially with regard to the questions of who will actually benefit it and in what way.

30 December 2016 will go down as a memorable day for the indigenous people movement in Indonesia, when for the first time, a number of adat forests were officially transferred from the control of the state to the authority of indigenous communities. For this special occasion, community representatives from various parts of the country were invited to the presidential palace in Jakarta. In the presence of Forestry and Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar and Domestic Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, President Joko Widodo personally handed over the required legal documents to the community leaders, who were all dressed in their traditional tribal clothing. For them and their NGO representatives, the colorful event represented a landmark development.

Public demands for the recognition of indigenous people and their land rights emerged in Indonesia in the late 1990s, mainly as a response to the exploitative and abusive forestry policies of President Suharto. During his 32-year dictatorial rule, the massive misuse of forest resources proved highly lucrative for Suharto's small circle of business and military associates. The government had meanwhile declared all forests as state-owned land (more than 70 per cent of Indonesia's land mass). This ruling meant that communities whose livelihood depended on forests were deprived of any legal entitlement to such lands. Although some reforms were implemented after regime change in 1998, many of the old practices continued. As a consequence, land disputes have been rampant in Indonesia.

With its latest endeavour the Joko Widodo administration has shown that it takes indigenous land rights seriously. The first recognition of adat forest at the central government level covers nine plots of forests that were previously administered as state land. These forests are now designated to come under the legal authority of the communities inhabiting or controlling them. Covering a modest 13,000 hectares, the adat forests will allegedly provide land to some 5,700 families. According to President Widodo, these first nine forests are only the starting point of a longer, systematic process of giving back forestland rights to indigenous communities.

The initiative is very much welcomed by AMAN, Indonesia's biggest and most influential indigenous people organisation. With more than 2,000 member communities connected to AMAN nationwide, the organisation plays a central role in the advocacy of indigenous peoples' rights. But while AMAN has declared that the country's adat territory covers more than eight million hectares (inhabited by some 40 million people), it is unlikely that the government will get close to designating even a fraction of all this land as adat land. Many of the communities claiming adat forests are facing competing claims from plantation companies, mining corporations, conservation parks or migrant communities. Regional governments tasked with granting groups the status of 'indigenous community' tend to be hesitant when the claimed land is under dispute, especially when competing third parties have some kind of legal entitlement to the land.

For now, the Joko Widodo administration appears to have adopted the popular view that indigenous communities are traditional, nature-friendly people living in close harmony with their forests. Recognising them is seen as beneficial from an ecological perspective. The majority of the nine groups that have now been recognised seem to match this view of 'traditional forest guardians'. Generally, the state seems most willing to grant rights to those groups that can prove to be traditional, preserve their forest and claim land that is 'conflict-free'. An example is the remarkable Ammatoa Kajang group from South Sulawesi. The community upholds strict traditional rules regarding the protection of its small forest and has not faced serious threats with regard to their land. As such, the recognition of their forest was one of the 'easier' cases for the government.

But for most members of the Ammatoa Kajang community, the recent government recognition will hardly impact their daily lives. In that sense, the provided 'rights' are merely a symbolic gesture. Communities that are, on the other hand, in a less favourable situation are likely to be excluded from obtaining indigenous land rights. For the Joko Widodo administration, the real challenge ahead is to systematically provide access to land to those vulnerable people that need it mostly, irrespective of how traditional they are.

[Willem van der Muur is a PhD candidate at the Van Vollenhoven Institute for law, governance and development, Leiden University, the Netherlands. His research revolves around land disputes in Indonesia, particularly focusing on the legal, political and economic aspects of claims to customary and indigenous land.]

Source: http://www.newmandala.org/new-leaf-land-rights/

Indonesia and 'transparent sex'

New Mandala - January 16, 2017

Hendri Yulius – In the last year there have been consistent legal efforts to outlaw same-sex practices and LGBT identity in Indonesia. And while religious vigilante groups may be responsible for attacks and raids against queer-related events, it is an Islamic pro-family group, the Family Love Alliance (Aliansi Cinta Keluarga/AILA) that is the spearhead of the current attempt to criminalise homosexuality.

Most of the AILA's members are women who position themselves as 'mothers', and say their immediate concerns about protecting the moral fibre of young generations. In doing so, they appeal to public and conservative public officials and successfully gain support from other conservative groups. Another interesting aspect of the group is their clear anti-feminist stance – something that is worth examining to understand the current landscape of gender and sexuality in post-reformation Indonesia.

On their websites and in a series of tweets, the group argued that lifestyles and thoughts influenced by feminism have caused prostitution among young girls and normalised LGBT and/or homosexuality. The group cited the famous feminist slogan 'My Body My Rights' as one of the culprits of youth moral degradation.

Further, as the group plans to build a systematic counter-movement against feminism, they also highlight the vulnerability of female domestic violence victims to being infiltrated by feminist ideas. Apparently, female divorcees can easily become feminists to 'fulfil their biological/sexual needs' and, consequently, the ideas of lesbianism and gender equality easily contaminate these women. To justify the arguments with more empirical evidence, AILA cites the growing number of divorces in Tangerang and Depok that have been initiated by the wives themselves. The morality arguments that have focused on the perpetuation of traditional gender norms and the preservation of heterosexual family principles.

As I argue elsewhere, mother figures have been central to Indonesian society. In contrast to Western feminist strategies, traditional womanhood (or motherhood) has sometimes been used as an effective medium for empowerment and for bringing about social and political change. When mothers protest, it shows that something big and concerning is at stake. This inference is possible because of the long-term glorification of motherhood by the state that promotes the moral superiority of women/mothers, while at the same time domesticates and confines them to their reproductive roles. Intimate and private lives have been treated as fodder for public discourse, with private and public spheres becoming increasingly entangled and blurred.

Given these historical and cultural contexts, the idea of 'mothers' offers open-ended and multiple possibilities. They can be utilised by any group, either to improve women's rights or, as in this case, to reinforce traditional gender norms and condemn particular groups. The messages of the AILA highlight the flexibility of an idea and how it can be translated into different actions and rhetoric from one socio-political landscape to another.

Interestingly, the anti-feminist rhetoric of AILA does not wholly reject ideas about gender equality. Some inherent aspects, such as access to education and women's participation in public, seem to be permitted through the fact that some leading members of AILA hold higher-education degrees and even important career positions (for example, medical doctor). This paradox demonstrates that some aspects of 'feminism' are allowed, while 'intimate spheres' are increasingly policed to 'prevent' the loosening of traditional gender norms and family principles.

Further, through their assumptions about female divorcees and victims of violence, AILA has also proposed criminalising adultery. To borrow scholar Laurent Berlant's concept, these moves could be termed as the politicisation of an 'intimate public sphere' – the triumph of private acts over civic acts to redefine a new citizenship.

Since the collapse of the New Order era, the rising religious conservatism in Indonesia has significantly shifted the political landscape and increasingly targeted and publicly politicised that 'intimate sphere' – from pornography law, to Shari'ah-based local regulations, to the criminalisation of LGBT. However, the demands to regulate intimate spheres intriguingly come from civil society itself; asking the State to intervene in private lives. These debates and the infiltrations into private spaces inadvertently enables sexuality – previously deemed taboo – to occupy political and public talks. I call it 'transparent sex' – one of the biggest contributions to the politicisation of sex in Indonesia after the Reformation era.

[Hendri Yulius obtained his master's in public policy from the National University of Singapore, and is the author of Coming Out. He is currently pursuing his Masters by Research in Gender and Cultural Studies at The University of Sydney.]

Source: http://www.newmandala.org/indonesia-transparent-sex/

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