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Indonesia News Digest 10 – March 9-15, 2017

West Papua Aceh Military ties Human rights & justice New order & anti-communism Women's rights & gender Labour & migrant workers Political parties & elections Blasphemy & the Jakarta elections Environment & natural disasters Health & education Graft & corruption Terrorism & religious extremism Land & agrarian conflicts Governance & public services Literature & the arts Armed forces & defense Criminal justice & legal system Police & law enforcement Mining & energy Economy & investment People & places

West Papua

Hundreds of people take to street in Papua

Antara News - March 15, 2017

Timika, Papua – Hundreds of people from Solidaritas Peduli Bangsa (Nation Care Solidarity) took to the street at the Timika Indah Traffic Roundabout, Tuesday, voicing their opposition to Freeport Indonesia and affirming their support to the government.

The people thronged the street around the roundabout since around 9 a.m. local time and brought along an Indonesian flag and pamphlets bearing messages in support of the government.

Tanzil Azharie, the coordinator of the movement, stated that the peaceful demonstration was held as a mark of support to the government for its efforts in handling the complex situation involving Freeport Indonesia and the local government.

The demonstrators also voiced eight points of action regarding the issue, including urging Freeport Indonesia to abide by the rules in Indonesia, especially Law Number 4 of 2009 and Government Regulation Number 1 of 2017 that necessitates the company to change its status into a Special Mining Permit and divesting as much as 51 percent of its shares.

The masses also urged Freeport to build a smelter and pay water tax worth Rp3.5 trillion to the Papua government.

Another demand made was that Freeport should give greater attention to the seven tribes in the Mimika Sub-district where the mine is located. Freeport should also take responsibility of the generated waste that has lead to environmental damage.

They also demanded that Freeport should be held accountable for its selfish acts when it fired its employees without giving prior notice.

The masses took to the street for around two hours until around 11 a.m. local time. The activity proceeded peacefully, with around 20 police personnel guarding the masses.(*)

Source: http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/109914/hundreds-of-people-take-to-street-in-papua

West Papua gives indigenous communities control over forests

Eco-Business - March 14, 2017

Vaidehi Shah – West Papua's government has handed over more than 3,000 hectares of forest to indigenous communities, who say they intend to keep big agribusiness out, and instead harvest forest products that help them prosper without clearing forests.

In an unprecedented move for Indonesia's Papua province, the district government on Thursday gave indigenous communities control of state forests, which grants villagers the right to reject the advances of palm oil, logging and pulpwood companies in favour of pursuing alternative, deforestation-free livelihoods.

In a ceremony performed in West Papua's capital Teminabuan, representatives from the Province of West Papua handed over a 3,545 hectare area of rainforest to leaders from Manggroholo and Sira villages, in an area known as the Knasaimos indigenous territory.

This is the first time Indonesia's national 'Village Forest' scheme, where governments hand over state forest to the control of indigenous communities, has been implemented in Papua. The programme, which gives communities rights over forest areas, has been implemented in other provinces such as Sulawesi since 2009.

The scheme in Papua will see Manggroholo and Sira villagers managing 1,695 hectares and 1,850 hectares of land respectively, for an initial lease period of 35 years.

The land under the villagers' control sits in the wider Knasaimos indigenous territory, an 81,646 ha swathe of land in Papua that has historically been exploited by illegal loggers and is now being eyed by oil palm companies.

The move by the West Papua government comes about three years after Indonesian President Joko Widodo in 2014 promised to hand over 12.7 million hectares of forest land for community forestry uses.

Papua's forests have also made global headlines recently when campaigners exposed the destructive practices of Korean-Indonesian conglomerate Korindo and Korean palm oil firm Posco Daewoo in the region. More recently, the Province of Papua pledged to protect 83 per cent of its land areas as natural habitat.

Manggroholo and Sira community leaders welcomed the handover of control, and said they intended to protect the forest from deforestation by logging, palm oil, and pulpwood activities.

Fredrick Sagisolo, head of the Knasaimos Tribal Council, said in a statement that "this is a victory not just for residents of Sira and Manggroholo villages, but for everyone, especially here in Papua where much forest remains".

Illegal loggers exploited the Knasaimos landscape in the early 2000s and exported hundreds of thousands of tonnes of Merbau, a valuable timber species, which was made into luxury flooring for overseas markets. The campaign group Environmental Investigation Agency estimates that for every dollar of flooring sold, communities which collaborated with the industry to clear trees received less than half a cent.

More recently, plantation companies have also secured concession rights to clear forest within the Knasaimos landscape.

But rather than allowing their land to be developed by agribusiness, the Sira and Manggroholo villages approached environmental campaigners Greenpeace Indonesia and local NGO Bentara Papua, who have since 2008 advocated for them to have control of the land under a Forest Village scheme.

The NGOs also helped the villagers set up an indigenous association, and worked with them to develop a plan for how to use the land, analyse the forest landscape, and identify deforestation-free but profitable products that the community can harvest.

These include damar resin, which is obtained from trees of the Dipterocarpaceae species, and used to glaze or varnish products; rotan, woody stems of palm trees that are used to make cane furniture and baskets; and gaharu or agarwood, a resin that forms in some evergreen trees when they are infected with mould. It is used to make incense and perfumes.

Kiki Taufik, head of Greenpeace Indonesia's Forests Campaign, said in a statement that Papuan forests are increasingly succumbing to the palm oil industry's expansion, and must be protected.

"Greenpeace supports community-based forest management which recognises sovereignty is in the hands of the local people," said Kiki. "The commitment of the Manggroholo-Sira community is an inspiration to others resisting deforestation in Papua".

Source: http://www.eco-business.com/news/west-papua-gives-indigenous-communities-control-over-forests/

West Papua villagers fight for forest rights

Jakarta Post - March 14, 2017

Hans Nicholas Jong, Sorong – Villagers in West Papua have vowed not to let their forests be encroached by logging and palm oil companies, like what happened on Sumatra and Kalimantan where massive deforestation has posed threats to the natural environment.

Although Papua is still home to vast forests, which provide a livelihood for many villagers, the island is not free from the palm oil industry or illegal logging.

In recent years, West Papua saw expansion of the palm oil industry as business boomed in certain regencies. However, villagers have been fending off the expansion of the palm oil industry in several regions, like Sira village in South Sorong regency.

"We can't live peacefully if companies enter our area. This is where we live. If companies expand into our area, sago plantations will be closed and destroyed," 54-year-old Yoel Semere said while sitting on a hill overlooking a large swath of pristine forests.

The village, home to 37 households and 186 people living on 2,000 hectares with 1,850 ha making up the forest area, is no stranger to industry expansion. The villagers recorded that from 1995 to 2003 a logging company was in the village's forests, which are home to merbau trees, the number one timber commodity on the island.

The villagers successfully campaigned against the company with the help of several non-governmental organizations, forcing the company to stop its operation in the region.

Still, the villagers cannot rest easy as palm oil companies have started to expand operations in the region in recent years.

The villagers rely on the forests. Besides growing sago as their main food, the villagers sell nontimber products, such as rattan, at the market at Tanembuan, the capital of South Sorong, some 10 kilometers away from the village.

Data from Greenpeace Indonesia shows there are about 48 palm oil companies that have permits in Papua and West Papua, with the size of each concession ranging from 25,000 to 45,000 ha.

After fighting to keep companies out of their areas, the villagers of Sira along with the neighboring Manggroholo village became the first villages on Papua to have their rights to manage their forests acknowledged by the government.

The South Sorong administration handed over the permits to manage the forests, called hutan desa (village forest) permits, to the village representatives on Thursday. The Environment and Forestry Ministry defines a "village forest" as a state forest managed by a village to improve its welfare.

Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Kiki Taufik heralded the acknowledgment as a landmark decision as it marked the first time villagers in Papua received rights to manage their own forests under the village forest scheme.

The scheme was part of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's land reform plan, which included the distribution of 12.7 million ha of land to local communities. He said the two villages had been targeted by palm oil companies that wanted to claim the land to be converted into oil palm plantations since 2013, and he commended the fight by the villagers to manage about 3,500 ha of government-acknowledged forests.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry's chief of social forestry department in the Maluku and Papua region, Sahal Simanjuntak, said the government hopes to grant more forest permits to villages in the future. "We are planning to approve 58,000 ha this year in Maluku and Papua," he said. (**)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/14/west-papua-villagers-fight-for-forest-rights.html

Removal of West Papuan mural 'clandestine'

Radio New Zealand International - March 14, 2017

An Aboriginal elder and artist says she's upset a mural she created in support of West Papua has been destroyed but it won't stop her, or her community, from advocating for the region's independence cause. Artwork by June Mills supporting the plight of West Papuans.

The art work, which was painted onto a wall in Darwin in 2015 and represents the solidarity between indigenous Australians and West Papuan people, was painted over on Sunday.

June Mills said it was not clear who was responsible for removing the mural and she's surprised by the clandestine approach. She said she was very worried about the volatile situation in West Papua and she intends to create more murals, despite the setback.

"There's incredible violence going on as we speak. Until that is resolved, we are not going to stop bringing this to the attention of the world community...whether that's posters, whether that's murals, whether that's talks, whether that's forums, we are going to continue."

"The mural was well-loved in the Darwin community," she said.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/326546/removal-of-west-papuan-mural-'clandestine'

Indonesia hosts MSG police heads

Radio New Zealand International - March 13, 2017

Indonesia is hosting this week's meetings of police ministers and commissioners from member countries of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

The meeting is being chaired by Solomon Islands, as the current holder of the MSG chairmanship. Other full members are Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia's FLNKS Kanaks movement.

Discussions will focus on emerging trends of crime, as well as regional security issues and how MSG countries can contribute to UN operations around the world.

The meeting of police ministers is expected to discuss progress made on the Regional Police Academy initiative, for which Indonesia has offered the Pacific countries assistance.

Indonesia has MSG associate member status, and forged close links with Fiji's government while becoming more engaged in MSG activities over recent years.

Indonesia's Chief of National Police, General Tito Karnavian, was also present at last December's MSG Police Minister's meeting in Fiji.

"I welcome these discussions because it is now important to build the capacity of our Police to address psychological, economical and societal problems which has added another layer of intricacy to policing," Fiji's Minister for Defence and National Security Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said.

"These new challenges have arisen against the background of ongoing the usual crime problems of drugs, property crime and violence."

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/326501/indonesia-hosts-msg-police-heads

Island nations call for investigation into human rights abuses in West

The Catholic Leader - March 13, 2017

Mark Bowling – Seven Pacific island nations have called for a United Nations investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Indonesia's West Papua and Papua provinces where a separatist movement has simmered for decades.

Vanuatu's Justice Minister Ronald Warsal made the request during a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, on behalf of his country as well as Tonga, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands.

A fact-finding mission carried out by Brisbane's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission provided the Pacific nations with some of the key evidence, as Mr Warsal accused Indonesia of serious human rights violations of indigenous Papuans including executions of activists, and beatings and fatal shootings of peaceful protesters.

CJPC executive officer Peter Arndt visited West Papua in February last year, and later released a 24-page report on the fact-finding mission "We Will Lose Everything", based on interviews with more than 250 community leaders in Jayapura, Merauke, Timika and Sorong.

Mr Arndt sat in the audience in Geneva as the group of seven Pacific nations called on the UN to request a comprehensive report from the high commissioner for human rights and Indonesia's co-operation in providing unfettered access to the two provinces.

He later spoke at a UN session, detailing his fact-finding mission to West Papua which he undertook with human rights advocate Josephite Sister Susan Connelly.

"We heard many stories of bashings, torture, murder, economic hardship, social marginalisation and cultural deprivation," Mr Arndt said after returning from West Papua last year.

"There is clear evidence of ongoing violence, intimidation and harassment by the Indonesian security forces."

In a right of reply, the Indonesian delegation accused Vanuatu of "blatantly using human rights issues to justify its dubious support for the separatist movement in Papua" and said the government's record of protecting human rights "speaks for itself".

Pacific island leaders angered Indonesia last year when they used their speeches to the UN General Assembly to criticizse Indonesia's rule in West Papua. Jakarta accused them of interfering in Indonesia's sovereignty and supporting groups that carryied out armed attacks.

Mr Warsal said the group of seven Pacific island nations also wanted to highlight the Indonesian policy of encouraging the migration of Javanese and other ethnic groups, which had led to the dramatic outnumbering of indigenous Papuans in their own land.

The Indonesian Government "has not been able to curtail or halt these various and widespread violations", he said. "Neither has that government been able to deliver justice for the victims."

The CJPC report detailed what Mr Arndt said was "a slow motion genocide" – a marginalisation of Papuans economically, socially and culturally.

Indonesia maintains a tight grip on West Papua and restricts journalists from reporting there.

West Papua, a former Dutch colony, became part of Indonesia after a UN-supervised referendum in 1969 that involved only a small segment of the indigenous Melanesian population and was criticised as a sham. Independence supporters want a second referendum.

Source: http://catholicleader.com.au/news/island-nations-call-for-investigation-into-human-rights-abuses-in-west-papua

Free West Papua mural on Cavenagh St in Darwin painted over

NT News - March 12, 2017

Kieran Banks – A final protest to save a mural dedicated to the persecuted women of West Papua failed to prevent the piece of cultural art from being destroyed.

The mural, a sign of friendship between indigenous Australians and West Papuans, was half painted over last week. The remainder of the mural was covered yesterday morning and protester Cindy Watson said 10 people tried to save the artwork, to no avail.

The mural was painted on a brick wall at the intersection of Cavenagh and Bennett streets in June 2015 but Ms Watson said "pressure" from Indonesia to remove it had been strong ever since. She said it was particularly disheartening to lose the mural on the day Darwin marched for International Women's Day.

"Whilst there's a lot to celebrate with the things that women have achieved, there's a lot to still struggle for and right on this day the remainder of an Aboriginal and West Papua friendship mural was wiped out," she said.

"We wanted the mural to stay. It was not only a symbol of friendship, it was a piece of art, cultural art, and under pressure publicly from Indonesia it was completely wiped out."

Ms Watson said more needed to be done to help the women of West Papua. "We are working on more murals and on International Women's Day we need not only to celebrate but we need to stand up for the voiceless people and that is the women of West Papua."

Source: http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/northern-territory/free-west-papua-mural-on-cavenagh-st-in-darwin-painted-over/news-story/36b4c70d468865d58924a3f18c3a9e39

West Papuan advocates pay tribute to Faleomavaega

Radio New Zealand International - March 10, 2017

The East Timor Action Network, or ETAN, has paid tribute to the late Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin's work on West Papua.

The former member of the US House of Representatives, who represented American Samoa as its Delegate in Congress for 13 terms from 1989 to 2015, passed away in late February.

As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, Faleomavaega regularly monitored events in Indonesia's Papua region

ETAN's Ed McWilliams has written that Faleomavaega was an articulate and effective advocate for human rights in West Papua and long worked for a peaceful resolution of the serious problems confronting Papuans.

"He engaged persistently with US and Indonesian Government officials toward these ends," he said. "His travel to West Papua and extensive contact with Papuans reflected a deep sincerity and good will toward the Papuan people and the peoples of the broader region which he knew so well."

According to Mr McWilliams, Faleomavaega drew upon this knowledge and experience and the broad respect accorded him in congress and elsewhere to advise several US Administrations regarding policy toward West Papua and toward Indonesia.

In 2010, Faleomavaega convened the first hearing in the history of the US Congress to include testimony from West Papua's traditional and religious leaders and human rights advocates.

In 2007, he traveled to West Papua. The visit's schedule was heavily restricted by the Indonesian government, including the congressman not being allowed to visit Jayapura.

Faleomavaega subsequently protested to Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that the visit had been limited "to only two hours of actual meetings with the leaders and people of Biak and Manokwari due to supposedly security concerns".

During the visit, Faleomavaega "forced his way through barricades to talk with Papuans denied entry to official meetings".He later wrote that he was deeply disturbed by the overpowering military presence, which he described as completely unnecessary.

Mr McWilliams said that Faleomavaega's interest in West Papua "derived in part from a sense of personal responsibility to carry forward the work of his Samoan relatives who are buried in West Papua and in honor of all those who have lived the struggle".

In July 2011 he was honored with the "John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award" by the US-based West Papua Advocacy Team.

His passing is a loss for his many friends in the West Papuan community and those in the broader international community who support their struggle for freedom. Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin's funeral is to be in Utah on Saturday.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/326325/west-papuan-advocates-pay-tribute-to-faleomavaega

West Papuan villages awarded forest permits

Jakarta Post - March 10, 2017

Hans Nicholas Jong, Sorong, Papua – Residents of Manggroholo village and Sira village in South Sorong, West Papua province, rejoiced on Thursday as their villages were the first in Papua to have their rights to manage the island's forests acknowledged by the government.

The South Sorong administration handed over the hutan desa (village forest) permits to representatives of the villagers on Thursday.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry defines a "village forest" as a state forest not encumbered by previous rights and managed by a village to improve its welfare.

Fredrik Sagisolo, the head of a local indigenous community alliance, said he expected the permit issuance to be followed by the recognition of other hutan desa in West Papua.

"We wanted our customary land rights to be wholly recognized because we knew that we had a lot of potential, but it was not us who managed the potential," he said.

Greenpeace Indonesia heralded the acknowledgment as a landmark decision as it marked the first time villagers in Papua received rights to manage their own forests under the village forest scheme.

The scheme was part of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's land reform plan, which included the distribution of 12.7 million hectares of land access to local communities, villagers and indigenous people.

"After almost 10 years of fighting, finally today our friends received a permit to manage hutan desa, which will allow freedom and sovereignty in managing hutan desa," Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Kiki

Taufik said during the permit-giving ceremony in Teminabuan, South Sorong. He said the villagers had been fighting for their rights to manage around 3,500 hectares of forests from palm oil companies that wanted to convert the forest areas into oil palm plantations since 2013. (rin)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/10/west-papuan-villages-awarded-forest-permits.html

We especially remember the women of West Papua: Women's Day in Fiji

Tabloid JUBI - March 9, 2017

Jayapura, Jubi – Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa has invited all men and women of all ages in Fiji to take concrete steps to accelerate the achievement of gender parity.

In her statement on the occasion of the International Women's Day 2017 today, Ro Teimumu encouraged all to pause and remember those who played a role with distinction in displaying the strength of women in every aspect of our society, and those who have turned another chapter in our history.

"I mention here Captain Selai Saumi who in 2015 became the first local female pilot to command one of our national aircrafts. Just today, WPC Vaseva Rokotiko takes a bow as the first female police motorcyclist. Hearty congratulations to these young women," Ro Teimumu said.

"I wish to take this opportunity of honouring the lives of woman and girls adversely affected due to acts of sexual violence and physical abuse.

"We also remember those who became casualties of war. In addition, we especially remember the women of West Papua who paid the ultimate price in fighting for freedom. They all deserve a special place in our prayers."

She said the theme for this year 'Be Bold for Change' not only highlighted the importance of recognising and respecting women, but also underscored the need to understand that more and more women were serious about advancing the interests socially, economically and politically of themselves and their families.

"Together we can change the narrative and make gender equality a reality for Fiji." (*)

Source: http://tabloidjubi.com/eng/especially-remember-women-west-papua-womens-day-fiji/

Aceh

Buddhists caned for violating sharia in Aceh

Jakarta Post - March 13, 2017

Hotli Simanjuntak and Moses Ompusunggu, Banda Aceh/Jakarta – A prosecutor in Aceh province has claimed that two Buddhists voluntarily chose to be punished under sharia after being found guilty of gambling.

On March 9, hundreds of people in Aceh Besar regency, Aceh, witnessed the first instance of Buddhists being caned for violating sharia, which is implemented across the province.

Alem, 57, and Amel, 60 – both Buddhists of Chinese descent – were among six people punished by sharia police officers and members of the Aceh Besar Prosecutor's Office in a public whipping outside the Al Munawaroh mosque in Jantho.

The Banda Aceh-based Buddhist men were caned nine times each for gambling through cockfighting – an offense regulated under sharia.

A 35-year-old Muslim and resident of Kuta Baro in Aceh Besar, Mukhlis bin Abu Mutaleb, was also caned for gambling on Friday, receiving 10 lashes.

The sharia-ruled Aceh requires anybody regardless of their religion and beliefs to obey a jinayat (Islamic criminal bylaw) enacted in the province in 2014 as a revision to a controversial 2009 jinayat that upheld the punishment of stoning to death.

But non-Muslims found guilty of committing crimes can choose whether to be punished by caning under jinayat or by incarceration under the country's Criminal Code (KUHP).

Violations of sharia that are not mentioned in the KUHP include drinking liquor, khalwat (affectionate contact between an unmarried couple) and women not wearing a headscarf or wearing tight pants.

Gambling, of which Alem and Amel were found guilty, is regulated under Article 303 of the KUHP. The article carries a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment and a Rp 25 million (US$1,871) fine.

"By accepting being punished for gambling under sharia, they voluntarily wanted to be whipped," said Aziz, an Aceh Besar prosecutor.

Non-Muslims are automatically punished by caning under sharia if they commit crimes that are not regulated in the KUHP. The first non-Muslim to be caned in Aceh was a man identified as Remita Sinaga or Mak Ucok in mid-2016. He was found guilty of selling liquor.

The caning of Alem, Amel and Mukhlis, however, was much lighter than the punishment for other convicts, who received hundreds of lashes for adultery and sexual offenses.

A 41-year-old farmer and Islamic educator, Darmawan AB bin Abdullah, was whipped 112 times for sexually abusing three children. The Aceh Besar Prosecutor's Office initially sentenced him to 120 strokes of the cane, but his time in detention was taken into account and the punishment was reduced.

Aziz said Darmawan forced his victims, who were also his students, to perform fellatio on him.

"The victims were boys aged between 15 and 16 years old. The defendant committed the crimes in different places and at different times," Aziz explained.

Two other Muslims whipped in public on Friday were Raidi Afrizal bin Bukhari, 25, and Cici Nanda Julia binti Mukhtar, 18, for adultery. They received 100 lashes each for violating the 2014 bylaw.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/13/buddhists-caned-for-violating-sharia-in-aceh.html

Another couple has been lashed for having sex outside of marriage in

Metro - March 11, 2017

Jimmy Nsubuga – A man and woman have been publicly lashed in Indonesia's ultra-conservative Aceh region for allegedly having sex outside of marriage.

They were punished in Banda Aceh, in the only region in the country to be ruled by strict Islamic Sharia law.

The woman received 100 lashes, while the man was given 120 – the same number of lashings as a child molester.

Pictures showed them wincing in pain as they were beaten in front of crowds, on a stage that had been positioned near a mosque in the regional capital.

After being marched to the stage by police, they were caned by a person who had their face covered.

It's the second time this brutal punishment has been administered this year, following the beating of a young couple in February. On that occasion, a man had to be carried off the public stage after collapsing as a result of the caning.

This round of beatings also saw a gambler being lashed nine times, and a child molester receiving 120 lashes.

A lot of Muslims in Indonesia practice a moderate version of the faith, but things are different in Banda Aceh. Sharia law was allowed to be implemented in the region in 2001 as a way for the Indonesian government to please separatists in the area.

That means if you're caught having gay sex, sex outside of marriage, drinking alcohol or gambling, you are likely to be punished in public. It's the only province in Indonesia where strict Sharia law is implemented.

Source: http://metro.co.uk/2017/03/11/another-couple-has-been-lashed-for-having-sex-outside-of-marriage-in-indonesia-6503780/

Military ties

Indonesia, Denmark to increase defense cooperation

Antara News - March 10, 2017

Jakarta – Danish Ambassador to Indonesia Casper Klynge paid a courtesy call on Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu here on Thursday to discuss ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries, particularly in the defense field.

Klynge said the effort to enhance defense cooperation between the two countries is positive thing to develop strategic partnership.

One of the instruments to develop the strategic partnership is a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that the Danish queen signed when she visited Indonesia last year, he said.

He noted that the two countries have the potentials to develop mutually beneficial cooperation in the defense field, including defense industry, peace-keeping mission, and cooperation between the two countries navies.

The ambassador, who visited the Peacekeepers Mission Force Center in Sentul, West Java, last week expressed his country's keen interest in establishing cooperation with Indonesia in peace-keeping mission, including exchange of instructors.

He further positively welcomed the enhanced cooperation between the two navies as shown by the Danish naval chief of staffs wish to visit to Indonesia in May 2017 to meet his Indonesian counterpart.

"The (planned) visit is expected to increase cooperation between the two countries navies," the Defense Ministry website quoted Casper as saying. He said Denmark is ready to cooperate with Indonesia particularly in developing warships.

"Denmark is ready to cooperate with Indonesian shipyards, both PT PAL in Surabaya and other shipbuilding companies in Indonesia. We can fully transfer technology in such way that Indonesia can produce warships themselves with local technology in accordance with its needs, both military and commercial interests," he said.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu lauded the enhanced cooperation between the two countries and hoped cooperation in the defense field could be continued and increased in the future.(*)

Source: http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/109855/indonesia-denmark-to-increase-defense-cooperation

Human rights & justice

Wiranto backtracks on harmony council's purpose

Jakarta Post - March 10, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The government might involve the planned Council for National Harmony (DKN) to settle the country's past human rights abuses despite a previous statement saying the council would only aim to settle horizontal conflicts, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto said on Thursday.

"If in the end the cases of past human rights abuses cannot be settled through judicial means, they would be automatically resolved through non-judicial means. I see no problem if later [the DKN] will also be involved," Wiranto told journalists.

He previously said the government would establish the DKN to settle horizontal conflicts through non-judicial means and reiterated that it had no plan to use it to resolve Indonesia's past human rights abuses, like the Semanggi and Trisakti incidents, in which he was implicated.

Human rights activists lambasted Wiranto for giving conflicting statements regarding the function of the DKN. The activists also expressed concern that Wiranto would use the council to push for reconciliation for past abuses instead of judicial settlements.

However, Wiranto claimed that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration was still strongly committed to resolving the abuses. The government awaited recommendations from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the Attorney General's Office (AGO) on the results of investigations into the cases, he added.

"If the evidence is sufficient to bring the cases to court, they will be resolved through judicial means, but, if not, they will be resolved through non-judicial means," Wiranto said.

The draft of a presidential regulation to set up the DKN, which would consist of 11 members, was ready to be signed by the President, Wiranto said. (rin)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/10/wiranto-backtracks-on-harmony-councils-purpose.html

New order & anti-communism

Djarot faces hostile protesters at East Jakarta mosque

Jakarta Post - March 12, 2017

Jakarta – Jakarta deputy gubernatorial candidate Djarot Saiful Hidayat faced hostile opposition from supporters of his gubernatorial election rivals while attending an anniversary prayer for late former president Soeharto at At Tien mosque in East Jakarta on Saturday evening.

Kompas.com reported that an unidentified protester threw a bottle into the line of guards protecting Djarot as he was leaving the venue at 8:30 p.m. Police protected Djarot on his way to his car as some protesters pursued him while hurling verbal abuse.

Hostility had been in the air since Djarot's arrival at the mosque vicinity, with some protesters even trying to block his access to the mosque. However, Djarot, accompanied by his bodyguards, eventually managed to enter the venue.

In addition to Soeharto's chidren, Siti Hediyati Haryadi, Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, Gerindra Party chair Prabowo Soebianto, Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Anies Baswedan, Islam Defenders Front leader Rizieq Shihab also attended the event. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/12/djarot-faces-hostile-protesters-at-east-jakarta-mosque.html

Protestors try to prevent Djarot from attending Supersemar commemoration

Jakarta Globe - March 12, 2017

Jakarta – Members of several Muslim groups intercepted incumbent Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat while on his way to attend an Islamic prayer to commemorate the issuance of the controversial Supersemar, or March 11 Decree, at the At-Tin Mosque in East Jakarta on Saturday evening (11/03).

Protestors loudly yelled abuse and the word "infidel" at Djarot, who is the running mate of incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, while they tried to prevent him from entering the mosque, situated in the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah complex.

He eventually managed to enter after Titiek Suharto, the daughter of former President Suharto, told the protesters that she invited Djarot to the event.

The mass prayer was held to commemorate the issuance of the Supersemar letter, which transferred authority from the country's founding father, Sukarno, to Suharto, who was the chief of the Army in 1966.

Djarot said he came to the event with good intentions and to pray along with other figures. He said the protestors did not represent the peaceful nature of Islam.

"I'm not worried about this. I am sincere and I don't hurt their hearts. Perhaps, they don't know me yet. Do I ever vituperate against them? Insult them? Hate them? I never did. So, I just give them my smile," Djarot told reporters. "I don't hate them. I have forgiven them," he added. After the event, Djarot was evacuated in an Indonesian Marine Corps vehicle to the Sports Museum, located next to the mosque. Protesters also threw bottles at Djarot's car as he was leaving the area.

He was prevented from visiting several areas in West Jakarta, including Kembangan, Sawah Besar and Kebon Jeruk, during the first campaign period of the Jakarta gubernatorial election.

Fifty-two-year-old Naman Sanip was sentenced to two months in jail in December after he was found guilty of having prevented Djarot from campaigning in the Kembangan area.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/protestors-try-to-prevent-djarot-from-attending-supersemar-commemoration/

Lecturer apologizes for calling Press Council member PKI cadre

Jakarta Post - March 9, 2017

Jakarta – A lecturer of Jakarta's Prof. Dr. Hamka Muhammadiyah University (UHAMKA), Alfian Tanjung, acknowledged he had made a mistake in calling Indonesian Press Council member Nezar Patria a cadre of the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

"I have come here to acknowledge my mistake and convey my apology to Pak Nezar and the public, who might have a wrong perception about him because of my statement," Alfian said at the Press Council office on Jl. Kebon Sirih in Central Jakarta on Wednesday, as quoted by kompas.com.

Alfian made the apology in response to a letter in which Nezar threatened to sue him for calling the press activist a PKI cadre in several Quran recitation communities.

Alfian said that after he had received Nezar's letter and met with Nezar's lawyer team, he had checked again several names he had called PKI cadres. After scrutinizing the data and directly confirming the matter with Nezar, the lecturer concluded he had made a mistake.

Alfian said he had accused Nezar a PKI cadre based on a fact that Nezar was once a member of the People's Democratic Party (PRD), an organization with a democratic, socialist platform.

"It's true that he was a PRD activist, but calling him a PKI cadre was a mistake," he said. "So, I firmly state here that I have made a mistake and I revoke my statement on him. I hereby declare that Pak Nezar was not what I stated in my speeches [a PKI cadre]."

Alfian also clarified a statement of his, in which he had said that Nezar had once led a PKI meeting at the State Palace. "He [Nezar] was never involved in any activities at the palace," said Alfian.

At the meeting, Nezar appreciated Alfian's move, saying Alfian was brave to admit his mistakes. He said he hoped Alfian's case could be a lesson for the public that they must be careful in spreading unverified information.

"I express my gratitude to Pak Alfian, who has openly and bravely admitted his mistakes in conveying information and citing names, including my name, during the Quran recitation event," said Nezar. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/09/lecturer-seeks-apology-for-calling-press-council-member-pki-cadre.html

Women's rights & gender

Yogyakarta activists call for end to violence against women

Jakarta Post - March 10, 2017

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – Hundreds of activists from various groups celebrated International Women's Day in Yogyakarta on Thursday, calling on the government to bring an end to the violence against women that continues to occur in the country.

The activists, united under women's rights advocacy group the Women's Struggle Committee (KPP), voiced their call as they marched along Jl. Malioboro.

They carried various banners emblazoned with anti-violence messages such as "Pecat Dosen Mesum" (Dismiss immoral lecturers), "Menolak Perjodohan" (Resist forced marriage), "Keep your policies off my body" and "Our Bodies, Our Minds, Our Power".

KPP activists later joined with their colleagues from the Yogyakarta Women Network (JPY) at Titik Nol in the center of Yogyakarta.

At the rally, JPY activists and other rally participants performed a dance titled "Perempuan Menggugat untuk Perubahan" (Women Fight for Change), an adaptation of a dance titled "Jampi Gugat" created by Kinanti Sekar Rihana. The dance expressed anger against the pressures women endure.

Artist Fitri DK from Survive Garage created an art performance titled "Surat 1,000 Bangau" (Letters from 1,000 herons). She asked all women attending the rally to write about all kinds of violence they ever experienced on pieces of paper, which were then created into origami herons. "These letters can be transformed into various forms of art," said Fitri.

JPY coordinator Sukiratnasari said the fulfillment of women's rights in Indonesia was still far from what had been expected. In Yogyakarta, violence against women continued to occur. "Around 70 percent of the cases are of sexual violence," said Sukiratnasari. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/09/yogyakarta-activists-call-for-end-to-violence-against-women.html

Labour & migrant workers

Death, torture cases reveal issues faced by migrant workers

Jakarta Post - March 15, 2017

Panca Nugraha and Luh De Suriyani, Mataram/Denpasar – Success stories of Indonesian migrant workers (TKI) also come with bitter tales, such as Sarafiyah Binti Muhammad Saleh who died after allegedly being tortured by her employer in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Indonesian Migrant Workers Protection and Recruitment Office (BP3TKI) helped return Sarafiyah's body to her family in Dompu regency. Her body was sent from Dubai on Tuesday and would arrive in Mataram on Wednesday.

"We received a report that Sarafiyah died from being tortured by her employer," the NTB office head Mucharom Ashadi said on Tuesday adding that the case was being processed in Dubai. The death case also revealed that Sarafiyah was an undocumented migrant worker in Dubai.

The agency helped return another migrant worker from Bima named Muslim Aljabar on Tuesday. Mucharom said Aljabar died from an accident at his workplace in Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. Aljabar was also an undocumented migrant worker, he added.

The NTB BP3TKI office has been handling 111 cases of Indonesian migrant workers hailing from NTB facing problems abroad. The figure came from the January to February period. Of the cases, 77 were experienced by legal or procedural workers while the 34 others were experienced by illegal or non-procedural workers.

"The problems varied, ranging from light to heavy ones," the office's protection section head Noerman Adhiguna told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. The office would handle the cases after receiving reports from the workers' respective families.

"Mostly the families filed reports with us and asked us to facilitate their return home," said Noerman, adding that some of the illegal workers had been brought home in stages.

Besides ill-treatment, the cases usually stemmed from disputes between the illegal workers and their employers. The cases could include unfair wages or unpaid insurance claims. The BP3TKI would help to mediate and facilitate workers' rights abroad.

Noerman said last year his office handled over 570 cases of TKI from NTB facing problems abroad, most of the cases occurred in Malaysia. "The figure was small compared to the number of TKI from NTB working abroad, which amounts to 40,000 annually," he said.

There was another recent case of alleged torture, suffered by Sri Rabitah from North Lombok, who was in the center of alleged organ trafficking news last month. She was admitted to Sanglah Provincial Hospital in Denpasar as part of her physical examinations after she reported abdominal pain after returning from Qatar.

West Nusa Tenggara Provincial Hospital (RSUP NTB) in Mataram announced that she had not lost her kidney but needed more checks on her health. The hospital then referred her to the Sanglah Hospital, which performed abdominal surgery on her on Monday to ease the inflammation around her bladder.

Kadek Nariyantha, spokesman of the hospital, said Rabitah was in critical condition when she was referred to the hospital, but now she had regained consciousness.

The team of doctors who handled her case said she suffered from peritonitis on her abdomen. "The patient also suffered from anemia, low hemoglobin, and she had not defecated for a week," he said.

Muhammad Saleh from the Center for Legal Aid for Indonesian Migrant Workers (PBHBMI), who gave legal assistance to Rabitah, suspected that she was a victim of human trafficking. Moreover, Saleh claimed Rabitah also suffered torture while working as a domestic worker for a family in Qatar.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/15/death-torture-cases-reveal-issues-faced-by-migrant-workers.html

Religious leaders issue joint call for eradication of modern slavery

Jakarta Globe - March 14, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesian religious leaders call for an end to slavery in a declaration signed in Jakarta on Tuesday (14/03). The gesture is part of a global movement against the human trafficking and forced labor.

In 2014, Australian billionaire and mining magnate Andrew Forrest convinced major religious leaders, Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, to sign on his initiative, the Global Freedom Network against modern slavery, aiming to eradicate human trafficking by 2020.

According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index released by Forrest's Walk Free Foundation, 45.8 million people worldwide are trapped in slavery.

"In all these countries [where slavery occurs], trust in religious institutions is higher than in bureaucracy and governments. This makes the initiative very important," said former deputy foreign minister, Dino Patti Djalal, before the signing of the Religious Leaders' Declaration Against Modern Slavery at the Vice Presidential Palace in Jakarta.

Contemporary or modern slavery is compelled labor through the use of force, fraud and other forms of coercion, such as involuntary servitude, debt bondage, forced prostitution. More than 700,000 people are enslaved in Indonesia.

According to Forrest, modern slavery "exists most in the world through manual forced labor, forced domestic servitude and the sex slave industry – which includes both girls and boys."

His foundation uses systematic, business-like strategy to help other non-governmental organizations, governments as well as businesses to act against slavery.

In an interview with the Jakarta Globe on Monday, Forrest said it is important to distinguish modern slavery from economic issues.

"It's not about pay or working conditions. It's a situation where one's freedom is at cost. This isn't an economic issue but a freedom issue," he said, adding that specific industries, especially the fisheries and palm oil sectors, are vulnerable to modern slavery.

In 2015, Indonesian authorities rescued more that 2,000 foreign fishermen who were forced to work and held captive on remote islands.

To learn more about modern slavery and initiatives undertaken to prevent it, visit Global Slavery Index.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/religious-leaders-issue-joint-call-eradication-modern-slavery/

Quiet streets in Bandung as drivers stage strike

Jakarta Post - March 10, 2017

Arya Dipa, Bandung, West Java – Empty streets were seen in areas across Bandung, West Java, on Thursday as hundreds of public transportation drivers operating in the city staged a strike to protest app-based ride-hailing services.

Traffic gridlock, which usually hits several streets across Bandung every morning, did not happen. The traffic conditions from Jl. Ciwastra to the Kordon Market and from the Leuwipanjang areas to the Cicaheum Terminal were relatively quite on Thursday morning.

The public transportation drivers chose to gather in front of the Gedung Sate heritage building to call for the revocation of Transportation Ministerial Regulation (Permenhub) No. 32/2016 concerning app-based transportation.

The drivers of public minivans and taxis, who staged the strike, said Permenhub No. 32, which allowed the operation of public transportation without specific routes, had led them to suffer a decline in revenues.

Public minivan cooperative Koperasi Bandung Tertib (Kobanter) secretary Ahmad Setiyadi said drivers from several public transportation cooperatives, including Koperasi Bina Usaha Transport, Koperasi Angkutan Masyarakat and Gabungan Pengemudi Taksi Bandung, participated in the rally.

They said they called for the revocation of Permenhub No. 32 because it was the legal basis for the operation of ride-hailing services such as Uber, Grab and Go-Jek. (hol/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/09/quiet-streets-in-bandung-as-drivers-stage-strike.html

Political parties & elections

Golkar not interested in endorsing Tommy Soeharto for president:

Jakarta Post - March 15, 2017

Jakarta – Golkar's board of experts chairman Agung Laksono has responded to a circulating rumor surrounding the possibility of Hutomo Mandala Putra, or Tommy Soeharto, running in the 2019 presidential election, asserting that the party remained committed to supporting Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the election.

Agung admitted that several Golkar cadres had attempted to propose Tommy as a presidential candidate, but their attempts, Agung claimed, had failed.

"These proposals repeatedly failed to get the party's support during nomination events such as conventions. So all this time, Golkar has never proposed him as a presidential candidate," Agung said as quoted by tribunnews.com on Tuesday.

He said that in supporting presidential candidates, the Golkar Party always considered a candidate's electability and track record. This also applies to Tommy, the son of former president Soeharto.

Agung said Tommy could run for president with support from other political parties. Golkar, he said, would not stop him from doing so. However, Agung encouraged Tommy, as a member of the Golkar Party, to follow the party's decisions.

"As a cadre, if he [Tommy] is interested in becoming a candidate, he must be active, because he has potential. If he wants such a candidacy, he should have been active in the central executive board and with Golkar activities from the very beginning. Only with such things can internal trust for his nomination can be built," said Agung. (dis/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/15/golkar-not-interested-in-endorsing-tommy-soeharto-for-president-chairman.html

Small parties throw support behind Tommy Soeharto

Jakarta Post - March 13, 2017

Jakarta – Tommy Soeharto, the youngest son of Soeharto, the longest running ruler of Indonesia, has gained support to run for the presidency in 2019 from the Parsindo Party and from his own Beringin Karya (Berkarya) Party.

"Three months ago we [Parsindo] met with Tommy's Beringin Karya Party. He asked us to unite as one party," Parsindo secretary-general Ahmad Hadari said on Sunday, as quoted by tempo.co.

"We rejected the merger idea, but we're open to a coalition with the Berkarya Party or any party that supports Tommy Soeharto," Ahmad added.

Ahmad claimed that Parsindo had welded support for Tommy from LIRA, a mass organization that he co-founded and that has offices across the country. "We are sure the 2019 election will be a war between the Soeharto dynasty and the Sukarno dynasty," Ahmad said.

Back in 2016, the birth of the new party, Berkarya, was not well accepted by the Golkar Party, the main supporter of Soeharto when he ruled the country for 32 years. The use of the beringin tree, which was the infamous symbol of Golkar, was seen as copying the party's values and vision. Akbar Tanjung, the former chairman of Golkar, in May also said that Beringin Karya was only "trying to get people's attention" by making a new party.

However, the Berkarya Party was already legalized by the Law and Human Rights Ministry in Oct. 13, 2016, as an official political party in Indonesia and is currently in the process of getting factual verification by the General Elections Commission.

Tommy was once convicted for a role in the murder of Supreme Court justice Syafiuddin Kartasasmita. He was arrested in 2001 and released in September 2006. (hol/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/13/small-parties-throw-support-behind-tommy-soeharto.html

Soeharto family gains momentum for political revival

Jakarta Post - March 13, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Amid simmering tension in the campaign for the Jakarta gubernatorial runoff election, the family of Soeharto, the longest former serving-ruler of the country, has embraced newfound popularity among Muslim groups.

Commemorating the March 11 Indonesian Presidential Executive Order (Supersemar) on Saturday, Soeharto's children, also known as the Cendana family, gathered people and elite politicians at At-Tin Mosque in East Jakarta for a mass prayer.

Four of Soeharto's six children – Siti Hediati Hariyadi, Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana, Siti Hutami Endang and Hutomo Mandala Putra – attended the event on Saturday evening. The chief patron of the Gerindra Party, Prabowo Subianto, who is also Hediati's ex-husband, was spotted among the hundreds of people at the mosque, which was built as a memorial to Soeharto's wife, Tien Soeharto.

Although claiming that the event was only a mass prayer to pray for Soeharto, political figures like Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno were also there. They were mentioned as honorable guests. The two are the Jakarta election candidate pair endorsed by Gerindra and the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

The pair is vying for the capital's top posts against Christian incumbent Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and his deputy, Djarot Saiful Hidayat. Djarot, who is a deputy gubernatorial candidate from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), also attended the event.

The Cendana family also provided space in the Supersemar commemoration for the outspoken patron of the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI), Rizieq Shihab, to deliver a tausiyah (sermon).

"The event can be interpreted as a political movement," political expert Zaenal Budiyono of the AlAzhar University told The Jakarta Post on Sunday. "They're seeking a revival as a powerful political dynasty. That's the Cendanas' interest."

After Suharto passed away in 2008, the family's influence in Indonesian politics has waned. The elder Hardiyanti, known as Tutut, failed to make anything out of her fledgling political party, while Tommy was soundly defeated in his bid to become the chairman of the Golkar Party, which for decades was Soeharto's political vehicle.

"Since the death of Soeharto, the Cendana has been struggling to seek an entry point into politics and this [the Jakarta election] can provide momentum for them [to revive their popularity]," Zaenal said.

Despite Golkar's endorsement of Ahok, the Cendana is more into Anies, a Muslim scholar. Hediati, known well as Titiek Soeharto, has declared her support for Anies and Sandiaga, despite her membership in Golkar.

In the 2014 presidential election, the Cendana family supported Prabowo, hoping to get back their political popularity, but then Prabowo lost to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

Political expert Hendri Satrio of Paramadina University acknowledged it was reasonable if the Cendana family was trying to get back its political popularity because Soeharto's power had been rooted out, but whether the people would allow them to hold power again was another question. "The Cendana could emerge in Indonesian politics, but not as on-screen actors, as king-makers behind the screen," Hendri said.

In Saturday's event, Titiek gave a speech that mentioned Jokowi's statement that "democracy has gone too far."

"I agree with what Jokowi said, that our democracy has gone too far. No more Pancasila democracy echoed by Soeharto: There's only a liberal democracy where people can arbitrarily do and say what they want, ignoring our eastern culture and norms," Titiek said.

Titiek also elaborated how the Supersemar had historical momentum, marking the New Order era under his father, although the original document that changed Indonesia's political course 51 years ago is still nowhere to be found.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/13/soeharto-family-gains-momentum-for-political-revival.html

Former Indonesian dictator's son builds momentum towards 2019 election

Asia Correspondent - March 13, 2017

The Parsindo ("Partai Swara Rakyat Indonesia") political party has officially endorsed the candidacy of Hutomo Mandala Putra – also known as Tommy Suharto – for the 2019 Indonesian presidential election. Tommy is the youngest son of former dictator Suharto who ruled the country for 32 years.

The Secretary General of Parsindo, Ahmad Hadari, told Tempo magazine on Monday that Tommy has the blessing of the party – which will form a coalition with Suharto's "Partai Berkarya" or Working Party.

Tommy Suharto has had a colourful and privileged life, including owning Lamborghini and running unsuccessfully in the 2011 presidential election. In 2001, he was sentenced to 15 years' jail for paying two hitmen to kill Syafiuddin Kartasasmita, a Supreme Court judge who had convicted him of graft. After operating his business empire from behind bars, Tommy was released from prison after serving only a fraction of his sentence.

The announcement of Parsindo's endorsement came after a major event held by Suharto's children, known as the Cendana family, at At-Tin Mosque in East Jakarta on Saturday. The event marked the 51st anniversary of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, signing the so-called Supersemar ("Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret" or the Decree of 11 March) that transferred executive power to the head of the military, General Suharto. This date in 1966 marked the beginning of the New Order, a military dictatorship that lasted until Suharto stepped down after mass protests in 1998. President Suharto rose to power against the backdrop of a bloody purge against the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), estimated to have killed 400,000 to 1 million people.

On Saturday, Jakarta gubernatorial candidates Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno were announced as honourable guests. Firebrand preacher Rizieq Shihab was allocated time to deliver a sermon where he urged Muslims to take up arms against the communist party should it re-emerge. "If the PKI try to come back, are you ready to oppose them? Ready to take up arms? Ready to defend religion? Ready to defend the homeland?" Rizieq is a divisive figure who has risen in prominence due to his leadership of mass demonstrations against Jakarta's ethnically Chinese, Christian governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama. He was recently reported to police for claiming that Indonesia's new banknotes contained communist symbols.

Paul Rowland, an independent political analyst based in Jakarta, said in 2016 that certain elements in Indonesian politics "would like to revive the communist threat because that effectively justifies the actions that were taken 50 years ago". Right-wing groups and the military have claimed there is a resurgence of the communist party in Indonesia in recent years, with crackdowns against activists for possessing merchandise or literature that purportedly endorses communism.

Also in attendance on Saturday was Prabowo, who ran unsuccessfully for president for the conservative Gerindra party against incumbent Joko Widido in 2014. Meanwhile, deputy gubernatorial candidate Djarot Saiful Hidayat, Ahok's running mate, was verbally abused by protesters at the event.

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/03/former-indonesian-dictators-son-builds-momentum-towards-2019-election/

Blasphemy & the Jakarta elections

More hate banners removed in Jakarta

Jakarta Post - March 15, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) is continuing to remove hate banners in Jakarta, with 40 more banners removed from Luar Batang in North Jakarta, a local district head said on Wednesday.

Penjaringan district head Mohammad Andri, said Satpol PP officers had been deployed to the neighborhood on Tuesday night to remove banners designed to discredit non-Muslim Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama. He added that he had raised public awareness on the importance of maintaining security in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Satpol PP head Jupan Royter said he would try to carry out a more persuasive approach in handling such provocation. "We don't have to be too strict and [by taking the persuasive approach] it could be a way to educate the public."

Several mosques in Jakarta have installed banners emblazoned with messages calling on Muslims to not perform funeral prayers for deceased Muslims found to have voted for Ahok, who is a Christian of Chinese descent. Some 266 hate banners across the city were removed on March 14. (idb)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/15/more-hate-banners-removed-in-jakarta.html

Police investigate mosques, pursue authors of provocative banners

Jakarta Globe - March 15, 2017

Jakarta – The National Police are investigating several mosques in Jakarta known to have distributed discriminatory banners against incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama ahead of the second round of the capital's gubernatorial election on April 19.

More than 500 banners were recently removed from Jakarta's streets, including one that read, "Muslims who vote for an infidel leader or blasphemer do not deserve a funeral prayer at mosque."

"We're looking into the situation. It's clear that the banners were a provocation and might even be considered hate speech," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said in Jakarta on Tuesday (14/03).

Boy added that if users distribute images of the implicated banners on social media, they could be charged with violating the Law on Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE).

"We are looking into mosques located near the banner hot spots – the highest concentration of banners. We are also trying to determine the identities of those who spread the discriminatory images on social media," Boy said.

Tensions have reached a fever pitch in the capital over religious and ethnic sentiments surrounding the Jakarta election, with Muslim hardliners demanding the arrest of incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and threatening Muslim residents who decide to vote for him.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/police-investigate-mosques-pursue-authors-provocative-banners/

Muslims may vote for non-Muslim administrative leaders: NU Youth Wing

Jakarta Globe - March 15, 2017

Jakarta – The Nahdlatul Ulama's youth wing, Ansor, has said that Muslims are allowed to vote for a non-Muslim administrative leader. Irwan Masduqi, caretaker of Assalafiyyah Islamic Boarding School in Yogyakarta and a prominent Ansor activist, said on Tuesday (14/03) that voting for a non-Muslim leader is not against Islamic principles.

"The principles of selecting a leader mean choosing a capable and honest candidate," Irwan said in a statement.

According to the cleric, the Koranic verses that were quoted by several parties to ban voting for a non-Muslim leader had been used in the past in the state of war. "These Koranic verses were used in a historical context when Muslims were at war," he said.

He added that the situation in Indonesia today is different from the context in which the use of the verses was justified. "The law is different during peace, like in Indonesia [today]. So, there are no restrictions on choosing leaders."

Earlier, concerns have mounted over religious and ethnic sentiments surrounding Jakarta gubernatorial election, in which non-Muslim incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama competes with former education minister Anies Baswedan.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/muslims-may-vote-for-non-muslim-administrative-leader-gp-ansor/

Tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo declares support for Anies

Jakarta Post - March 15, 2017

Jakarta – The political party of business tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo officially declared its support for Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Anies Baswedan on Tuesday, comparing the candidate with newly elected US President Donald Trump.

Hary who attended the declaration event in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, said that the United Indonesia Party (Perindo) had decided to endorse Anies and his running mate Sandiaga Uno because the pair represented underprivileged people.

"Like Perindo's spirit that favors the 'little people', we need leaders who are concerned about the economic conditions of the little people," Hary said as quoted by tribunnews.com on Wednesday.

He also made comment on the pair's "OK-OC" finger gesture. "The gesture is like one of Trump's. Hopefully their fate is also similar," said Hary who is widely known as a Trump business partner.

During the declaration, the party and the pair signed a political contract, which stated their agreement, among others, to develop the capital and improve residents' welfare.

The declaration was also attended by Gerindra party head Prabowo Subianto, the campaign team's volunteer head Boy Sadikin and Abraham Lunggana, popularly known as Haji Lulung, who recently was dismissed by the United Development Party (PPP) for supporting the pair instead of the incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and Djarot Saiful Hidayat. (Cal)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/15/tycoon-hary-tanoesoedibjo-declares-support-for-anies.html

Megawati calls on women to fight for Ahok

Jakarta Post - March 15, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri has cited the power of women to impact the result of the Jakarta gubernatorial runoff election slated for April 19.

Speaking at Rumah Lembang, the campaign headquarters of incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, in Central Jakarta on Tuesday, Megawati spoke energetically for about 18 minutes, saying female supporters would be key to winning.

"I'm hopeful about ibu-ibu [women] because when we move we usually win. Why? Because women are talkative. Bapak-bapak [men] are not as strong as us," Megawati told hundreds of Ahok supporters.

Megawati asked the supporters to help straighten out certain misconceptions, as some residents of the capital believe they should not vote for a kafir (infidel) leader, referring to Ahok who is a Christian of Chinese ethnicity.

"We should tell ibu-ibu who still don't understand that we're not voting for a religious leader [...] We will vote for an administrative leader," she said.

Megawati added that the supporters should consider the accomplishments of Ahok and his running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat, and that all Jakartans should give Ahok and Djarot the chance to continue their programs by reelecting them.

During the campaign periods for both rounds of the election, Megawati has played a large role in supporting the pair.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/15/megawati-calls-on-women-to-fight-for-ahok.html

PDI-P councillor lambasts authorities over hate banners

Jakarta Post - March 14, 2017

Agnes Anya, Jakarta – A Jakarta city councilor has criticized authorities and political parties for their late response to hate banners placed across the capital.

Gembong Warsono, from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said the banners had been around the city since the campaign period ahead of the first round of the Jakarta gubernatorial election.

"Where were you? The banners had been there all this time and you are just taking them down now. That is too late," Gembong said during a meeting with the Jakarta administration in relation to preparations for the second round of the election on Tuesday.

He also criticized fellow councilors for their silence over the messages on the banners that discredited incumbent candidate Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is a Christian of Chinese descent.

The messages have affected a family that claimed the authorities of a mosque in Setiabudi, South Jakarta, denied their request to hold prayers for their deceased mother on March 10. The deceased was found to have voted for Ahok in the Feb. 15 election.

The city administration removed 266 hate banners across the city on Tuesday.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/14/pdi-p-councillor-lambasts-authorities-over-hate-banners.html

Ahok empathetic toward Muslims: Witnesses

Jakarta Post - March 14, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Witnesses testifying in Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's defense on Tuesday said that he always showed concern and empathy toward Muslims, demonstrating that he had not intended to insult the Quran or clerics as accused by prosecutors in his blasphemy trial.

Suyanto, Ahok's driver when the latter was in Bangka Belitung, said Ahok always insisted on stopping at a mosque when it was time for Suyanto to pray on Fridays. "Pak Basuki would say, 'just pray first, I'll wait in the car'."

He added that in East Belitung, his hometown, Ahok often lent money to Muslim neighbors who were in need and even financed some to go on the umrah (minor haj) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Another witness, Fajrun, one of the defendant's neighbors in Bangka Belitung, echoed the statement, saying Ahok cared about Muslims.

Fajrun added that he was aware that a lot of people had tried to foil Ahok in the 2007 Bangka Belitung gubernatorial election by quoting Surah Al Maidah 51, a Quranic verse that has become the basis of the blasphemy trial at the North Jakarta District Court.

"There were a lot of pamphlets [in Bangka Belitung] quoting Surah Al Maidah 51, which urged people not to vote for a non-Muslim leader," Fajrun said.

His testimony was in line with that of another witness, Juhri, former election supervisor head in Belitung, who said that in 2007 a lot of pamphlets tried to discredit Ahok for his religious background.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/14/ahok-empathetic-toward-muslims-witnesses.html

Prominent Muslim figure calls for end of politicized religion

Jakarta Globe - March 14, 2017

Jakarta – Political groups should not exploit religious sentiment to garner votes in the upcoming second round of the Jakarta gubernatorial election, Agus Muhammad, director of research institute Moderate Muslim Society, said on Monday (13/03).

Agus was commenting on recent reports that members of the Jakarta Public Order Agency and volunteers removed nearly 200 discriminatory banners from Jakarta's streets, including one that read, "Muslims who vote for an infidel leader or blasphemer do not deserve a funeral prayer at mosque."

"This is no longer a 'different' interpretation of the holy scripture. These so-called religious sentiments are affecting relationships between our fellow citizens," Agus said in Jakarta.

He said the politicization of religious sentiment will have a demoralizing effect on Indonesian society, causing disunity and general hostility between groups.

"I urge for an immediate halt on politicizing funeral prayers because relations between our residents will soon turn sour. In tense situations, anything can happen. It might only take a small trigger to create large conflicts," Agus added.

If left unchecked, the current political climate will destroy the values that have served as a foundation for Indonesia's rich social diversity, Agus said. "It will take a long time to repair broken social connections," he said.

The Jakarta gubernatorial election has been wrought with religious and ethnic tensions, culminating in the prosecution of incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for blasphemy.

Ahok has been forced to defend himself against hardline Muslim groups since late last year after a video of a speech, in which he spoke out against the misuse of the Koran's Al-Maidah 51 verse for political gain, went viral on social media.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/stop-politicizing-religion-agus/

Anti-Ahok banners fill streets of Jakarta ahead of run-off election

Jakarta Globe - March 14, 2017

Jakarta – Banners with provocative anti-Ahok messages are still rife in the capital despite authorities having removed more than 500 of them in the last few days.

Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's running mate in the Jakarta gubernatorial election, current Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat, pointed to one of the provocative banners during a visit to Cipulir, a busy market area in Kebayoran Lama, South Jakarta, on Tuesday (14/03).

The banner read "KJS and KJP are funded by the city. Whoever is elected as governor, KJS and KJP will stay. Let's march to victory! A Muslim governor for Jakarta."

KJS is the city-funded health insurance program, known for its Jakarta Health Card. KJP refers to the city's education fund, known for its Jakarta Smart Card.

Djarot called on Ahok's political opponents to stop playing the religion card ahead of the run-off election on April 19. "These things have got to stop. You can't exploit religion to get into power," Djarot told reporters during the visit.

Authorities in Jakarta said they had already removed 526 provocative banners from all corners of the capital. One of them had read "Muslims who vote for an infidel or a blasphemer do not deserve a funeral prayer."

Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent, is currently on trial on blasphemy charges, after he made a comment about a Koranic verse in a speech in October last year. He has repeatedly denied the charges.

Concerns have since been mounting over religious and ethnic sentiments surrounding the election, with Muslim hardliners demanding that Ahok step down and voters not to re-elect him.

Ahok is competing with Anies Baswedan, a former education minister, in the Jakarta election, which proceeded to a second round after no candidates won an outright majority in the first-round election on Feb. 15.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/anti-ahok-banners-fill-streets-jakarta-ahead-run-off-election/

266 hate banners found in Jakarta

Jakarta Post - March 14, 2017

Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta – The Jakarta administration, with help from residents, removed 266 hate banners across the city, an official said on Tuesday.

"We ask locals to voluntarily remove the provocative banners to create a peaceful Jakarta ahead of the gubernatorial election," acting Jakarta Governor Sumarsono said.

He added that the Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) would take down the banners designed to discredit incumbent Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, if locals did not do it themselves ahead of the election runoff that was slated for April 19.

Several mosques have installed banners emblazoned with messages calling on Muslims to not perform funeral prayers for deceased Muslims found to have voted for Ahok, who is a Christian of Chinese ethnicity.

This messaging has affected a family who claimed that authorities of a local mosque in Setiabudi, South Jakarta, denied their request to hold prayers for their deceased mother because the mother was found to have voted for Ahok in the Feb.15 election.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/14/266-hate-banners-found-in-jakarta.html

Authorities remove over 500 'provocative' banners ahead of runoff

Jakarta Globe - March 13, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta Public Order Agency has removed 526 provocative banners across the capital ahead of the second round of the gubernatorial election scheduled for April 19, acting Governor Sumarsono said on Monday (13/03).

Between Jan. 1 and March 8, the agency pulled down 336 banners that were said to contain discriminatory language targeted against incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is currently on trial for blasphemy.

In separate raids last week, the agency and local volunteers took down at least 190 banners that displayed discriminatory messages, including one that read, "Muslims who vote for an infidel leader or blasphemer do not deserve a funeral prayer at mosque."

Sumarsono said most of the banners that were taken down were not put up by local residents but that it was part of a large, city-wide effort by an unnamed organization. The governor said most of the banners pulled down displayed similar fonts and print types.

"The banners were most likely distributed by a single producer. We've seen the same font and I believe someone has masterminded it," Sumarsono told reporters.

He has ordered police to investigate and arrest those behind the distribution of the banners.

The acting governor will also seek to persuade local community figures to remove any discriminatory banners in neighborhoods across the city to maintain security ahead of the runoff election.

"The Indonesian Mosque Council [DMI] has also issued a circular letter asking local residents to help remove these banners. Our political solution must be one of civil discourse. We cannot allow ourselves to be used for certain political interests in the election," Sumarsono said.

Ahok has been forced to defend himself against hardline Muslim groups since late last year after a video of a speech, in which he spoke out against the misuse of the Koran's Al Madiah 51 verse for political gain, went viral on social media.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/authorities-remove-over-500-provocative-banners-ahead-of-runoff-election/

Low-income voters critical for both Ahok, Anies: Analyst

Jakarta Post - March 13, 2017

Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and his rival Anies Baswedan are fighting to gain votes from lower-income Jakartans to win the second round of the gubernatorial election, a political researcher said.

The executive director of Charta Politika, Yunarto Wijaya, said that they would focus on winning that segment because the middle- and upper-class voters have already decided who they would choose in the election. "They would fight over the low-income voters," Yunarto said as quoted by kompas.com on Monday.

Based on the exit poll of the first round of the election, Charta Politika found that most of Ahok's voters were educated people who had at least studied in a university. Meanwhile, most of Anies' voters had only graduated from high school or had less education than that.

The people whose salaries were more than Rp 4 million (about US$300) were most likely to vote for Ahok and his running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat, while the voters with incomes of less than Rp 4 million might favor Anies and Sandiaga Uno, Yunarto said.

Therefore, Ahok's campaign is striving to win the low- and middle-class segment while Anies' team is developing their candidate's popularity among upper-income voters, he said.

To win low-income voters, it was not possible for any of the campaign teams to practice vote buying or utter threats during the campaign, Yunarto said. (cal/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/13/low-income-voters-critical-for-both-ahok-anies-analyst.html

Deceased Ahok voter denied last rites

Jakarta Post - March 11, 2017

Jakarta – In the heat of the campaign period ahead of the Jakarta gubernatorial runoff election, a family claimed on Friday that local mosque authorities in Setiabudi, South Jakarta, had denied their request to hold prayers for their deceased mother because she had voted for the incumbent.

However, a cleric at the mosque said the deceased had not been taken to the mosque the day she died, on March 7, because of impending rain.

The first campaign period saw religious figures warning Muslims not to vote for non-Muslims, particularly Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is standing trial over blasphemy allegations.

The small mosque, like a number of other mosques in the district, had earlier displayed posters saying that those who voted for "blasphemers" would not be entitled to prayers and Islamic rituals when they died. Police had said such posters would be taken down. Acting Jakarta governor Sumarsono had also appealed against such posters.

A caretaker of another mosque in Setiabudi told The Jakarta Post earlier that a nearby mosque had rejected a request to hold prayers for a deceased person after the Feb. 15 election, as the deceased was known as an Ahok supporter.

Sunengsih, 46, a resident of Setiabudi, said there may have been objections to hold prayers for her mother, Hindun, because the deceased voted for the incumbent in the first round of the election. Despite regulations that all votes must be discreet, Sunengsih said several people may have known her mother voted for Ahok because she required voting assistance on account of her illness.

"My mother did not publicly declare that she supported Ahok. Because she didn't know anything [about the candidates] she just randomly voted for him and many people saw her vote," Sunengsih said.

However, a local ustadz (Islamic teacher) later said he denied the family's request to hold prayers in the mosque because it was about to rain. Ahmad Syafei, the ustadz, said he and other residents bathed the corpse and conducted special prayers in the family's home instead.

"The weather did not allow us to take the corpse to the mosque," Ahmad said, adding that he helped the family bury the deceased in the nearby Menteng Pulo Cemetery in South Jakarta.

Sunengsih added that her neighborhood chief (RT) did not help arrange necessary documents, including her mother's death certificate, while she had to split her time between work and obtaining such documents.

Although many residents have made similar complaints, Sunengsih said her family suspected that the service she received had something to do with the election. Abdurrahman, the RT, denied the allegations.

Sunengsih told the Post that a family member had been intimidated by messages sent by the neighborhood unit secretary that said "all ulema refuse to attend Islamic celebrations in areas where Ahok won." The messages reportedly also said ulema would refuse to bathe and pray for deceased Muslims suspected as "supporters of Ahok." They also received a meme depicting a corpse that did not receive its last rites for not adhering to the Quranic verse Al Maidah.

Ahmad Ishomuddin from Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) said previously that denials of requests to hold prayers for deceased persons suspected of supporting Ahok were acts of intimidation

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/11/deceased-ahok-voter-denied-last-rites.html

SBY, Jokowi mend ties before Jakarta race

Jakarta Post - March 10, 2017

Haeril Halim, Margareth S. Aritonang and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – After months of a very bitter public spat, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is reconciling with his predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in a move that may become a prelude to a shifting alliance in the second round of Jakarta's gubernatorial election.

Yudhoyono visited the State Palace on Thursday after requesting the meeting earlier this week. The two politicians had a 30-minute closed-door talk before meeting journalists on the palace veranda.

The chairman of the Democratic Party, who had earlier accused the Jokowi administration of wiretapping his phone and granting clemency to former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Antasari Azhar to make the candidacy of his son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, fail in the Jakarta race, showed up at the press briefing with a smile, saying that everything that happened between the two leaders was only "miscommunication and misinformation" because they rarely meet each other.

The relations between the two had worsened since the campaign for the first round of the Jakarta election that had put incumbent Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, the candidate from Jokowi's party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), in competition with Yudhoyono's son and with former education minister Anies Baswedan, who is supported by the Gerindra Party.

A string of political maneuvers related to the candidates had inevitably harmed the relations of the two.

The rift reached its lowest point on the eve of the election day, when Yudhoyono accused Jokowi of intentionally granting clemency to release Antasari so that he could attack him. Earlier that day, Antasari made a public statement that Yudhoyono had been behind the murder plot that had sent him to prison to retaliate against him, when he was KPK chairman, for prosecuting Agus' father-in-law, Aulia Pohan.

While at times becoming frontrunner during the campaign season, Agus finally lost, leaving Ahok and Anies to vie against each other in a runoff on April 19.

With Agus out of the race, the support of Yudhoyono's party has been coveted by the remaining two candidates in a tough race that has been marred by sectarian bigotry.

"The atmosphere of today's meeting was very good and it is a moment that can be used to seek tabayyun [clarification]," Yudhoyono told reporters on the veranda of the palace during a joint press conference.

Yudhoyono claimed that he went to see Jokowi with no political agenda. "I'm here in my capacity as a former president, not as the chairman of the Democratic Party," he said.

On Sunday at a wedding party Yudhoyono and Ahok met and spoke, which has been seen as a move by the candidate to woo support for the runoff.

The executive director of the Political Literacy Institute, Gun Gun Heryanto, said although Jokowi never publicly declared support for Ahok, the President had a role in bridging communications between the PDI-P and Ahok.

"The meeting could determine where the support of the Democratic Party will go in the second round of the Jakarta election," Gun Gun told The Jakarta Post.

Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) political analyst Arya Fernandes said the reconciliation between Jokowi and Yudhoyono could ease political tensions ahead of the second round of the Jakarta election.

"It is hoped that the meeting of the two leaders could calm down the political situation at the grassroots," Arya told the Post.

Speaking after Yudhoyono, Jokowi said meetings between former and sitting presidents should become a tradition in Indonesian politics so that a sitting president could learn from his predecessors.

"We should have this kind of tradition so that [a new president] should not start from zero [when his or her government begins]," Jokowi said.

The Democratic Party claimed that Thursday's meeting happened on Yudhoyono's initiative to give clarification regarding the current political tensions.

"Isn't the meeting good? They also talked about national [issues] and how to make Jokowi's administration run well," Dems deputy chairman Syarief Hasan said. Syarief denied Jokowi and Yudhoyono talked about things related to the election.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/10/sby-jokowi-mend-ties-before-jakarta-race.html

Anies-Sandiaga backflip on cash assistance program

Jakarta Post - March 9, 2017

Jakarta – After voicing his strong opposition to Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono's cash assistance program, Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Anies Baswedan has reportedly adopted a similar program at the community unit (RW) level.

Anies' running mate Sandiaga Uno said on Wednesday that the candidate pair would not distribute Rp 1 billion (US$74,599) per RW annually, as Agus had promised before was knocked out of the race in the first round. However, Sandiaga further said, each RW would receive money based on programs it carried out to develop local communities.

"We aren't focusing on the total amount of money, but on the programs of each area. The amount [of money] for one area will not be the same as others'," Sandiaga said as quoted by tribunnews.com. The businessman said he and Anies had adopted the program because they considered that they and Agus' camp shared a similar vision.

The program appears to be Anies and Sandiaga's most recent attempt to win the hearts of Jakartans who previously voted for Agus. "We are trying to embrace Agus Yudhoyono's voters who put high hopes in the RW development program," Sandiaga continued.

During a public debate for the first round of the election in January, Anies said the cash assistance program was not the right answer to economic problems in Jakarta. The program would also do little to instil a "sense of pride" among Jakarta residents, he added. At that time, Anies said that he and Sandiaga would focus on combating poverty. (idb/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/09/aniessandiaga-backflip-on-cash-assistance-program.html

Megawati tutors Ahok in diplomacy

Jakarta Post - March 9, 2017

Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama ought to be running on all cylinders to catch up to his rival Anies Baswedan after losing his first day of the runoff campaign period tangled up at court in his blasphemy trial.

Instead, the embattled governor decided to skip all his Wednesday campaign stops to tag along with his godmother Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Ahok, along with his running mate Djarot Syaiful Hidayat, arrived at the residence of the former president and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle chairwoman in Menteng, Central Jakarta, where they hosted South African President Jacob Zuma.

After the meeting, Ahok was seen leaving the house along with Megawati in the same car. Ahok said Megawati had asked him to accompany her to meet with a senior official from the Singaporean Embassy after meeting with Zuma.

"We went for lunch at the Singaporean Embassy. Ibu Mega [Megawati] met the deputy [ambassador]. I was only told to accompany her," Ahok told reporters.

Ahok has said his relations with Megawati go beyond political ties. It was Megawati and Gerindra Party patron Prabowo Subianto who paired Ahok with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to run in the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election.

Commenting on Ahok's abrupt change in schedule, Ahok campaign team spokesperson Merry Hotma claimed the meeting with Zuma had been scheduled.

"We already planned that in our schedule and our whole campaign should not be seen merely from the first couple of days," Merry told The Jakarta Post.

She added that the team was not worried about the flying start made by Anies and Sandiaga to gain support in the first two days of the campaign period. "No worries at all. We each have our strategies to win this election, and we will focus on ours," she asserted.

Having edged out Anies by a whisker in the first round, Ahok still has a long way to go to secure victory on voting day on April 19. A recent poll by Survey Indonesia Institute (Median) even puts Anies ahead of Ahok in popularity.

Separately, Hendri Satrio, a political communications expert from Paramadina University, said as an incumbent candidate, Ahok was well positioned for the race, adding that Jakartans often associated improvements in Jakarta with Ahok's performance.

"And don't forget that Ahok has also gained a lot of media coverage during his meeting with Zuma and Megawati, even more than the coverage received by Anies and Sandiaga," he said.

The Anies camp started its campaign with Islamic group Syarikat Islam on Tuesday. Anies continued on Wednesday by holding a meeting with ethnic groups from Madura and West Kalimantan living in the capital at his residence in Lebak Bulus, South Jakarta.

During the meeting, Anies told his guests that he expected them to supervise the election to prevent any potential fraud. "We need to work together to create a better Jakarta and monitor this election closely," Anies said.

Anies said earlier he was trying to win support from those who had voted for Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono. Agus finished in third place in the first round of the election. Anies claims that Agus' supporters share similar views to his own and want to see a change of leadership in Jakarta.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/09/megawati-tutors-ahok-in-diplomacy.html

Environment & natural disasters

National park fights back against illegal plantations

Jakarta Post - March 11, 2017

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – Thousands of hectares of forests in Mount Leuser National Park in North Sumatra and Aceh are reported to have been illegally encroached upon and converted into widespread plantations of oil palms, rubber trees, cacao trees and coffee plants.

To restore the natural functions of the protected forests, the park management office is planning to curb the rampant spread of the illegal plantations.

A joint team of the park's officials and security apparatus had reconverted some 75 hectares of plantation in Sei Lepan district, Langkat regency, North Sumatra last month, cutting down the commercial vegetation and replanting indigenous flora.

In the near future, the same measure would also be taken on another 80 hectares that had been turned into plantations in Southeast Aceh regency, said Joko Iswanto, the spokesman of the Mount Leuser National Park office.

The reconversions are aimed at restoring the natural functions of the whole area within the national park where the officials would clear the plantations and replant them with forests trees.

Joko expressed regret that the conversions had been going on in the area for years, but so far no measures had been taken to restore its function as a protected forest. More than 2,000 hectares within the National Park had been converted into plantations, which were mostly spread throughout Langkat, North Sumatra and Southeast Aceh.

The forest conversions were mostly committed by local people who were supported by payments from outside investors. "Most of the investors come from Medan," Joko said.

Joko also said that the national park had been intensively conducting preventive measures using persuasion to stop local people from destroying the protected forests. Thanks to the measures, 18 encroachers had voluntarily handed over their illegal plantations to be restored back into protected forest.

He said various kinds of vegetation had been replanted in the area after hundreds of two- to five-year-old palm trees were all cut down.

Very recently, seven non-governmental organizations grouped under the Mount Leuser National Park rescue coalition asked President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to save the park from rampant encroachments.

Panut Hadisiswoyo of the coalition said the encroachments were massive in the national park, illegally converting the forests into plantations and housing for local people.

He said the total area of the park was 838,872 hectares, but it continued to decrease because of the encroachments, especially in Langkat regency, North Sumatra. "The area in Langkat is the worst encroached," Panut said.

The most massive conversions occurred in the Barak Induk area in Sei Lepan and in Lapangan Tembak in Besitang district in Langkat. He claimed that some oil palm plantations in these areas were under the control of some companies.

"Some palm oil companies have been operating in the national park area for years. Surprisingly, no one has the guts to get rid of them," he said.

The park had been listed in UNESCO's World Heritage in Danger list in 2011 following rampant encroachments along with two other national parks in Sumatra: Kerinci Seblat National Park in West Sumatra, Jambi, Bengkulu and South Sumatra, and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Lampung and Bengkulu provinces. The three national parks were declared by UNESCO to be World Heritage Sites in 2004.

According to UNESCO, Sumatran tropical rainforests are home to 10,000 plant, 201 mammal and 580 bird species. They also serve as a habitat for mammals that needed a large range for roaming, such as Sumatran tigers, orangutans, elephants and rhinos.

Punut said that if by 2018 the encroachments could not be settled, the Mount Leuser National Park most likely could be excluded from UNESCO's list of world's heritage sites.

"If that is the case it will be a bad record for Indonesia as it is not capable of preserving the area already declared as a part of the world's heritage," he added.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/11/national-park-fights-back-against-illegal-plantations.html

Health & education

Tobacco companies are profiting from endangering and exploiting

Coconuts Jakarta - March 15, 2017

Margaret Wurth – In the next week, Indonesian President Joko ("Jokowi") Widodo will decide whether to encourage parliament to move forward with a draft tobacco bill aimed at increasing domestic tobacco production. The bill would gut many important existing health regulations, like the requirement that companies include a health warning with a picture on the label of tobacco products.

Those are troubling proposals given that millions of children in Indonesia start smoking each year, and that 40 million more are "passive smokers" from secondhand smoke. The Indonesian Ministry of Health, 17 prominent health organizations, and many others have denounced the measure as an attempt to undermine Indonesia's already weak tobacco control laws. Jokowi should reject the bill.

But the draft bill is not the only tobacco policy issue awaiting action by the Jokowi administration. Each year in Indonesia, thousands of children, some just 8 years old, work in hazardous conditions producing tobacco that ends up in products marketed and sold by huge Indonesian and multinational tobacco companies.

My colleagues and I published a Human Rights Watch report documenting hazardous child labor on Indonesian tobacco farms last May. Since then, another tobacco season has come and gone, but the child workers behind Indonesia's tobacco industry remain unprotected.

We interviewed 132 children who worked on tobacco farms in four of Indonesia's biggest tobacco-producing provinces. We found that child workers are exposed to nicotine and pesticides – toxins that can be especially harmful to children who are still growing and developing. Half the children we interviewed had experienced nausea, vomiting, headaches, or dizziness while they worked. Those symptoms are consistent with acute nicotine poisoning, which happens when workers handle tobacco plants and absorb nicotine through their skin. Many children said they also mixed and sprayed toxic chemicals on the plants with no protective equipment, and some became violently ill afterward.

The families we interviewed did not intentionally put their children in harm's way. They were committed to helping their children get an education so they could have a better future. Indeed, most of the children we interviewed attended school and worked in tobacco farming only outside of school hours.

But direct contact with tobacco in any form is hazardous work for children because of the nicotine in the leaves. Most of the families we spoke with had never received comprehensive information about the hazards for children of work on tobacco farms, so they did not know the risks to their children.

We urged the Jokowi government to take action to protect children from danger in tobacco fields. We called on the Health Ministry to work with other ministries to develop a public education campaign to raise awareness of the dangers to children of work on tobacco farms. In recent meetings with Human Rights Watch, government officials have said they need additional support and resources to get the campaign underway this year.

Indonesia already prohibits children under 18 from work "with harmful chemical substances." The Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration should explicitly prohibit children from working in direct contact with tobacco in any form and increase labor enforcement efforts to make sure government inspectors check for workers' safety, especially on small tobacco farms where children might be in danger.

In our meetings with government officials, we have heard many times that the tobacco industry is powerful in Indonesia, and that it is difficult to achieve policy changes the industry opposes. Surely eliminating child labor in tobacco farming is an issue tobacco companies also want to address.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights make clear that companies have responsibilities for addressing human rights abuses in their supply chains. We shared our findings with the largest tobacco companies operating in Indonesia – Djarum, Gudang Garam, Philip Morris International (which owns Sampoerna), British American Tobacco (which owns Bentoel), and others. The large multinational tobacco companies have policies to prevent children from doing the most dangerous tasks on tobacco farms, but their policies are not strong enough, and they should do more to monitor for child labor when they buy Indonesian tobacco on the open market through traders.

The largest Indonesian companies – Djarum and Gudang Garam – do not appear to be taking any steps to prevent or address child labor in their supply chains. They have never responded to our many requests for information and meetings, and they do not make any information publicly available about their child labor policies.

These companies should not be profiting off the backs of Indonesian child workers.

Two months from now, the next tobacco-growing season will be underway, and children will be heading to the fields again. The controversy around the draft tobacco bill likely will not be resolved by then. But with decisive action, the Jokowi administration and tobacco companies could take steps to protect children from dangerous work in tobacco fields. Their futures depend on it.

[Margaret Wurth is a children's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.]

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/features/tobacco-companies-profiting-endangering-exploiting-indonesian-child-workers-must-stop-now/

Indonesia's chief security minister to decide tobacco bill's fate

Jakarta Post - March 11, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – As the deadline for the government to respond to the House of Representatives' second attempt to deliberate the controversial tobacco bill approaches, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration has finally moved to assess whether discussing the bill would be worth it or not.

The President has appointed Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto to lead the talk on deciding the official governments' stance of the deliberation of the tobacco bill.

Speaking at the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Ministry's office on Thursday, Presidential Chief of Staff Teten Masduki said Wiranto had been tasked with gathering and coordinating input from related ministries to decide the bill's fate, which was hanging in the balance because of disagreements among ministries, particularly the Health Ministry and the Industry Ministry.

"The tobacco industry is a huge deal for us. There are still many aspects that we have to consider, so the government's position should be objective in this case," Teten said.

Studies from ministries related to the tobacco issue, including from the Health Ministry, the Industry Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Home Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry, would be gathered and assessed by a team at Wiranto's office to ensure that all aspects were considered before any decision was made, Teten said.

"We just began the coordination since March 18 is the deadline to issue the presidential letter [...] Whether the letter would be sent or not, it is up to the results of the assessment by the coordinating minister's office," Teten added.

Previously on Tuesday, State Secretary Pratikno said the bill was being discussed by the Industry Ministry, the Manpower Ministry, the Health Ministry and the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister, leaving out Wiranto's office.

The tobacco bill, which seeks to triple cigarette production to 524 billion by 2020, was initially rejected from the 2016 National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) by the Health Ministry, which was appointed by Jokowi to lead the discussion at the House.

However, the comeback of Golkar politician Setya Novanto as House Speaker paved the way for the inclusion of the bill in the 2017 national legislative program.

The Health Ministry has long campaigned for stronger tobacco control, which is crucial to saving around 200,000 Indonesians who die every year due to tobacco-related illnesses and to save Rp 378 trillion (US$28 billion) in economic losses caused by smoking.

The Jokowi administration, however, has been seeking to boost tobacco production to improve the welfare of tobacco farmers, an argument used by lawmakers in their efforts to pass the tobacco bill, which would require tobacco companies to use 80 percent local tobacco in their products.

In 2015, former industry minister Saleh Husin issued a 2020 tobacco road map that had targeted to triple current cigarette production. However, the ministerial regulation was annulled by the Supreme Court last year, on the grounds that increasing cigarette production was incompatible with child protection and public health, among other reasons.

Anti-tobacco activists have repeatedly made calls for Jokowi to kill the tobacco bill by not sending a presidential letter to the House as the bill was deemed to protect only the interests of the tobacco industry and has neglected health considerations.

Women's activist organization Women's Network for Tobacco Products Control (JP3T) added their voice to the growing calls from activists to reject the controversial bill.

"I believe anyone who loves their children should reject this [bill], because we, as parents, want our children to be better than our generation," said Henny Supolo Sitepu, chairperson of the Yayasan Cahaya Guru teacher's foundation.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/11/indonesias-chief-security-minister-to-decide-tobacco-bills-fate.html

Cigarette production up in spite of lesser firms, workers

Jakarta Post - March 11, 2017

Viriya P. Singgih, Jakarta – Despite a declining number of cigarette firms and workers, Indonesia's tobacco industry has managed to raise its cigarette production, Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto has said.

The figure of cigarette manufacturers fell by 16.7 percent from 2014 to 600 in 2016. In contrast, production climbed slightly by 0.5 percent from 2014 to 348.2 billion cigarettes in 2015 and by 1.1 percent to 350.03 billion cigarettes in 2016.

"The workforce in the cigarette manufacturing sector has decreased by 3.5 percent and in the tobacco plantation sector has dropped by 4.7 percent in the past five years," Airlangga said in a statement after visiting Indonesian Cigarette Workers Community (MPSI) in Sukorejo district, Pasuruan regency, East Java, on Thursday.

Workforce in the manufacturing and distribution sector totaled 4.28 million, while those in the plantation sector stood at 1.7 million last year, according to the ministry.

Airlangga attributed the downturn in the tobacco industry to the changing lifestyle of smokers who increasingly prefer low tar and nicotine cigarettes, and therefore pick machine-rolled clove cigarettes (SKM).

The tobacco industry paid Rp 138.69 trillion (US$10.37 billion) in excise tax to the state coffer, representing 96.65 percent of overall excise revenue.

Health concerns are mounting in Indonesia, which ranks fourth on the list of countries with the most smokers, and anti-tobacco campaigns have started to gain ground. However, a tobacco bill, set for deliberation by the House of Representatives, justifies tripling cigarette production to 524 billion by 2020. (lnd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/11/cigarette-production-up-in-spite-of-lesser-firms-workers.html

Graft & corruption

E-ID graft case reopens Golkar Party wounds

Jakarta Post - March 15, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Following the uncovering of a massive corruption scandal that has rattled the House of Representatives, old rifts within the Golkar Party, the second-largest faction in the legislature, have reemerged.

The party's chief, Setya Novanto, in office for barely a year, is facing calls for his resignation after a court revealed last week that he was among a long list of lawmakers alleged to have accepted illicit funds embezzled from the electronic ID card (e-ID) project.

In the project that was initiated during the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration, about 40 percent of the allocated Rp 5.9 trillion was reportedly embezzled, and the money allegedly went to former home minister Gamawan Fauzi and lawmakers in House Commission II overseeing home affairs and the House Budget Committee, which had the authority to approve the project.

At that time, Setya was in charge as Golkar faction chairman at the House. Any move to oust Setya, who is also House Speaker, from the party chairmanship has yet to made manifest but apparent maneuvers by his opponents seem to have worried Golkar's board of experts chairman Agung Laksono.

"I want all [individuals] both within and outside party not to get over-excited," Agung told reporters after a closed-door board of experts meeting on Tuesday.

Other Golkar politicians, such as Melchias Markus Mekeng and Agun Gunanjar, were also mentioned as allegedly receiving embezzled funds.

"I ask all members on central and regional boards to stay united and maintain solidity. The entire party management should focus on daily duties and responsibilities so that the party machine remains stable," Agung said.

He insisted that Setya was not guilty as the court had not named him a suspect. "The KPK has not even charged Setya much less convicted him. We have to maintain the presumption of innocence," he said.

Party unity, he added, was important so that the party could achieve the target of winning big in the 2019 legislative elections and endorsing President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the next presidential election.

Last year, Setya won two major victories: being elected party chairman in an extraordinary meeting (munaslub) in May, defeating rival Ade Komarudin, and grabbing back the House speakership, also from Ade.

Ade was appointed as House speaker in 2015 to replace Setya, who was implicated in a scandal involving mining giant PT Freeport Indonesia, only to hand the job back a year later.

"If there are [members] who call for no new munaslub to our face, but then stab us in the back, we'll find out," Agung warned.

Golkar advisory board chief Aburizal Bakrie has also called on the party membership to stay united and not to force another munaslub. Both Agung and Aburizal are former Golkar chairmen.

"To all Golkar members, I want you all to support each other and work together to find solutions for all the problems faced by the party. I want any differences in view or stance to be resolved in accordance with the party's internal mechanism and regulations," Aburizal said in a written statement.

Under Setya, Golkar had just finished consolidation after a long leadership dispute between Agung and Aburizal. Tycoon Aburizal has usually taken an opposing political stance to Agung and Setya.

The KPK, meanwhile, is digging deeper into the case and could summon all relevant individuals if there is enough evidence.

"The KPK will further investigate the involvement of all parties as long as it has enough preliminary evidence to continue the investigation process," said KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/15/e-id-graft-case-reopens-golkar-party-wounds.html

KPK looks into Luhut's alleged role in tax case

Jakarta Post - March 15, 2017

Jakarta – Responding to a claim made during a court hearing on Monday that Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan had played a role in a corruption case, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said on Tuesday that it had taken note of the allegation.

Luhut was mentioned in the trial of Ramapanicker Rajamohanan Nair, the country director of Eka Prima Indonesia, a local subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group.

Ramapanicker allegedly bribed Handang Soekarno, a tax officer at the Directorate General of Taxation, in order to waive his company's Rp 78 billion tax bill.

"When new names or new events are mentioned in the trial, we will dig deeper into the facts and judge the relevance for the ongoing investigation into Handang," said KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah on Tuesday.

Speaking as a witness in Monday's hearing, Jakarta Special Tax Office head Muhammad Haniv said Luhut had requested that Japanese companies be removed from the corporate taxpayers list (PKP).

Haniv testified that before the meeting took place he had received many complaints from companies that had been removed from the PKP by the Kalibata Tax Office, where they were registered.

The KPK arrested Ramapanicker and Handang on Nov. 21 during a raid on the businessman's residence, seizing US$148,500 as evidence. The two have been named suspects in the case, in which Arif Budi Sulistyo, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's brother-in-law, has been implicated for allegedly acting as a middleman in the case. (mrc/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/15/KPK-looks-into-luhuts-alleged-role-in-tax-case.html

Amid graft allegations, House revives KPK law amendment plan

Jakarta Post - March 15, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The House of Representatives is reviving a plan to deliberate the amendment to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Law, the controversial content of which has been condemned in the past for undermining the antigraft body.

House Legislation Body (Baleg) deputy chairman Firman Soebagyo has said the bill amendment could be added to the priority list of the 2017 National Legislation Program (Prolegnas). He said it was possible for the House to revise the list of priority bills.

"The introduction result will be reported to the House speaker and deputy speakers, who then will decide whether to go on to deliberation. If they want to [continue to deliberation], we will hold a plenary meeting to add the bill to the priority list," said the Golkar Party lawmaker.

The bill is currently being introduced, mainly at universities, after its deliberation was delayed last year due to public rejection.

The bill's revival emerged following the KPK's revelation of a number of lawmakers being implicated graft related to the procurement of e-ID cards. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/15/amid-graft-allegations-house-revives-KPK-law-amendment-plan.html

KPK under threat amid high-profile graft

Jakarta Post - March 14, 2017

Safrin La Batu and Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – A plan to alter the powers of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is lurking behind a high-profile corruption case, raising concerns that efforts to weaken the antigraft body will weaken the country's fight against corruption.

The House of Representatives has been conducting workshops at several universities after disseminating information on the planned revision.

Mounting pressure from the public and anticorruption activists halted the deliberation of the amendment of the 2002 KPK Law last year.

However, the House apparently had something up its sleeves as it had been conducting workshops at several universities as an initial step of formal discussions on the proposed law revision. The revision is not among 49 priority bills to be discussed this year by the House and government.

The House's expert body, tasked with studying a bill before being discussed, held the workshops at Andalas University in West Sumatra and National University in Jakarta. It plans to hold two more workshops at the University of North Sumatra and Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta by the end of the month.

House deputy speaker Agus Hermanto of the Democratic Party said there was no ill-intent posed by the workshops, as the House held the events to assess whether people supported an amendment to the law.

He also denied the revision had anything to do with the e-ID graft case currently be heard at the Jakarta Corruption Court. The first hearing of the trial last week revealed not only the alleged detailed scheme arranged by lawmakers to plunder the state budget but also several big names allegedly involved in the case that caused Rp 2.3 trillion (US$172 million) in state loses.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo agreed in February last year with then House speaker Ade Komaruddin to postpone discussions on the proposed revision of the law on account of widespread protests across the country. The bill itself had been raised by lawmakers since 2015.

The proposed revisions of the law included provisions considered to be aimed at weakening the KPK's power. They include: the formation of a KPK supervisory body, the revocation of the agency's sole right to wiretap, restrictions on hiring independent investigators and requirements to drop a case.

Last year, seven factions backing the government, including the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), supported the revision, with three factions, the Gerindra Party, the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) having opposed it.

The KPK has lambasted the House for its efforts to promote a revision that would curb the agency's power in combating corruption.

"We do not need the amendment. The KPK can do its job with the authorities stated in the prevailing law. And we use those authorities to handle [corruption] cases, including the recent e-ID case," KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said on Monday.

He said the provisions in the bill would wane the KPK's efforts to eradicate rampant corruption in the country. "If the bill becomes a law, the KPK will no longer be capable of carrying out stings."

The revision plan has been opposed by a number of civil society organizations, including the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), which recently published a study of the bill in which it found that it would hamper anticorruption efforts in Indonesia.

Some observers have also suggested that the House focus on discussing other bills deemed more crucial and urgent. Of the 51 priority bills listed last year, the House only finished discussing 10 of them. The latest global corruption report by Transparency International Indonesia (TII) released last week listed the House as the institution judged by Indonesians to be the most corrupt. (mrc)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/14/KPK-under-threat-amid-high-profile-graft.html

Let KPK do its job, Jokowi says

Jakarta Post - March 11, 2017

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has called on the people to uphold the presumption of innocence principle and let the nation's antigraft body do its job in investigating the alleged involvement of senior politicians in the high-profile electronic identity card (e-ID) graft case.

In his first statement regarding the case, which has implicated one of his Cabinet ministers and a key ally in the ruling coalition, the President said, as quoted by kompas.com, "I am convinced that the KPK will be professional in handling this case."

The Jakarta Corruption Court, where the first two suspects in the case, Irman and Sugiharto, are being tried, heard on Thursday that dozens of lawmakers were involved in a plot to embezzle funds from the project's procurement budget, deliberated at the House in 2011 and 2012.

Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly, who was then a PDI-P lawmaker, also allegedly received US$84,000. House of Representatives speaker Setya Novanto, who now leads the second largest pro-government party, Golkar, reportedly played a key role in convincing the House members to approve the budget allocation for the project.

Both Yasonna and Setya have denied their involvement in the e-ID case, which reportedly caused Rp 2.3 trillion (US$172 billion) in state losses. (ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/11/let-KPK-do-its-job-jokowi-says.html

KPK should beware of political attacks after uncovering e-KTP case: Ex

Jakarta Post - March 10, 2017

Jakarta – The ongoing trial of an alleged graft case related to the electronic identity card (e-KTP) procurement project, in which prosecutors mentioned names of figures with strong political influences in Indonesia, has forced Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) former deputy chairman Busyro Muqoddas to speak up.

He said when he was still serving as the commission's deputy chairman, the KPK had begun to investigate the e-KTP case through law enforcement measures.

"In the case, there were signs of corruption, in which it had become a dark and dirty business objective of bureaucrats, House of Representatives members, business players and middlemen," Busyro said as quoted by tempo.co.

He said the KPK leaders had recommended the government not continue an e-KTP design proposed by the Home Affairs Ministry, which was led by Gamawan Fauzi at the time. "KPK leaders recommended an e-KTP that would function in multiple ways as a system identity number (SIN)," said Busyro.

He further said the multifunctional e-KTP was proposed to create election security, which would not enable the use of fake IDs.

Busyro reminded all KPK leaders: "Political attacks [against the commission] have begun to appear, including through an attempt to revise the 2002 KPK Law without arguments and legal reasoning, aiming to hinder it."

Busyro said it now depended on KPK leadership to prove their loyalty to the organization as a professional independent institution. "I think civil society of our democracy will support the KPK," he said. (mrc/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/10/KPK-should-beware-of-political-attacks-after-uncovering-e-ktp-case-ex-deputy.html

AJI protests banning of live broadcasting at e-KTP graft trials

Jakarta Post - March 9, 2017

Jakarta – Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has protested the decision of the Central Jakarta District Court for prohibiting TV stations to broadcast the high-profile trial on alleged corruption in the procurement of electronic identity cards (e-KTP).

Although AJI admitted that the judge had the authority to decide whether a trial would be aired live on television or not, banning TV stations from covering the court case was a questionable choice.

"It is understandable that the public wants to know what is happening in court through live broadcasts on television," AJI chairman Suwarjono said in a statement on Thursday.

Suwarjono said that e-KTP trials would attract public attention since it was about the misuse of national money, which impacts everyone.

The project value was 5.9 trillion (US$442.31 million), and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has indicated Rp 2.3 trillion in state losses. "There is no urgency in banning the live broadcast," Suwarjono said.

AJI referenced article 3 of the Press Law, which stated that the national press functions as an information source on education, entertainment and social events.

Live broadcasting of the trials should be part of a media social responsibility for the court to be fair and objective in handling a large scale corruption case. (hol/jun)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/09/aji-protests-banning-of-live-broadcasting-at-e-ktp-graft-trials.html

Indonesia's House speaker allegedly involved in e-KTP mega corruption

Jakarta Post - March 9, 2017

Safrin La Batu, Jakarta – The first trial of the corruption case related to the multi-million dollar procurement of electronic IDs (e-KTP) on Thursday has revealed possible involvement of some of the country's elite politicians, including the House of Representative speaker Setya Novanto.

Two high-ranking officials from the Home Ministry, Irman and Sugiharto, have been accused in the trial of embezzling funds from the mega project, resulting in state losses of Rp 2.3 trillion.

In their indictment, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutors said the two defendants were not alone in executing their actions. Some politicians in the House of Representatives helped them in approving the budget allocation for the project.

The indictment stated as many as 37 lawmakers in Commission II, which oversees home affairs, received portions of the embezzled funds in return for their help in approving the budget.

Besides Setya Novanto, two former Democrat Party politicians Anas Urbaningrum and Muhammad Nazarudin, are being held in another corruption case, which was mentioned in the indictment. The trio was said to have a dominant role in the case.

The budget allocated for the project was Rp 5.9 trillion (US$447 million). Setya, Anas, Nazarudin and Andi were said to receive 11 percent of the distributed funds, according to the indictment.

"The lawmakers received 5 percent of the finds," a prosecutor said, adding that Setya was said to play a significant role in arranging members of Commission II to approve the budget. (dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/09/indonesias-house-speaker-allegedly-involved-in-e-ktp-mega-corruption-scandal.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

Police arrest two more suspects in Bandung attack

Jakarta Post - March 13, 2017

Jakarta – The National Police said on Monday that they had arrested two more suspects in relation to an attack that occurred in Bandung at the Pandawa field on Feb. 27.

National Police Spokesperson Boy Rafli Amar said the suspects had been identified as Agus Sujatno alias Abu Muslim alias Abdullah and Soleh alias Abu Furson alias Zalzalat alias Gun Gun.

He claimed the suspects helped fund the terror attack and assisted a previously named suspect, Yayat Cahdiyat, in surveying the targets and assembling the bombs. Abdullah is reportedly an electrician at an apartment building in Bandung.

Police say Soleh provided Rp 2 million to fund the attack. Boy said the terrorist attack was retaliation for efforts by the police to combat terrorism.

"The suspects said they targeted the West Java Police headquarters, Cianjur precinct, Buah Batu and Geger Kalong traffic police posts [poslantas]," Boy said at the National Police headquarters. The suspects have been charged under the Terrorism Law.

The police confiscated one pressure cooker, five 9 volt batteries, a few wires, thermometer, a bag and a number of chemical compounds, including H2O2, 5 liters of bayclin, 30 liters of acetone, 3 floor cleaners, nitric acid, paraffin and 12 kilograms of triaceton triperoxide that has been disposed.(dis/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/13/police-arrest-two-more-suspects-in-bandung-attack.html

Government has to first fight creeping fundamentalism before tackling

Jakarta Post - March 9, 2017

Jakarta – The government has to put more effort into fighting growing intolerance toward minorities in Indonesia and its potential to develop into terror attacks, an analyst has said.

Political analyst Muhammad AS Hikam said creeping fundamentalism in Indonesia was the main issue before addressing terrorism.

"Radicalism threatens national security. It is a clear and present danger, which comes from radical ideologies. Radicalism is the root of terrorism. Poverty and social discrepancy support radicalism to develop further into terror attacks. Poverty and social discrepancy are not the real cause of terrorism," Hikam said.

The analyst was speaking during the launch of his book titled "Deradikalisasi", held by the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) on Thursday.

Hikam said deradicalization had to be a national movement, in which the government had to focus its counter-terrorism policies on soft power approaches, not only hard power approaches.

While fighting against terrorist attacks, he further said, the government was still allowing extreme ideologies to continue to exist. "We have to fight the [extreme] ideologies first. Other factors are only part of the problem that will disappear once the ideologies can be fully tackled."

A member of the Presidential Chief of Staff office, Binny Bintarto Buchori, said there was now a challenge for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to compose a counter-terrorism roadmap given many existing ineffective counterterrorism programs. Many formerly convicted terrorists commit terror acts again.

"The government is striving to develop new deradicalization programs through the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Ministry and the National Counterterrorism Agency [BNPT]," Binny said. (dis/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/09/govt-has-to-first-fight-creeping-fundamentalism-before-tackling-terrorism-analyst.html

Land & agrarian conflicts

Donald Trump's prospective Bali estate met with resistance by locals

ABC Radio Australia - March 12, 2017

Adam Harvey, Bali – Plans for a massive Donald Trump real estate development in a spiritually sensitive part of Bali have met resistance from locals, some of whom are refusing to sell to the US President's Indonesian business partner.

Hary Tanoesodibjo's MNC group has been buying up land around the existing Nirwana resort at Tanah Lot, a relatively undeveloped area about an hour's drive north of the main tourist strip at Kuta.

Demolition of the old resort is due to start in August, ahead of a three-year redevelopment that will be partly operated by the Trump group.

"It's a big complex, more than 100 hectares, to build a hotel, villas, condominiums, also to build a country club – that is also with Mr Trump," Mr Tanoesodibjo told the ABC.

But local landowners have told the ABC that they will not sell for the prices being offered. "There is hardly anyone who wants to sell their land," said Nyoman Madya, the head of the Enjung Pura neighbourhood that adjoins the planned Trump development.

He said representatives from MNC had approached several villagers with offers well under market. "They couldn't agree on the price," Mr Madya said.

He said landowners wanted 500 million Indonesian rupiah (about $50,000) per are (an are is an area of 100 square metres) while they were being offered between 100 to 150 million IDR per are (approximately $10,000 to $15,000).

The area has been a target of developers for decades and he said local villagers knew what their land was worth.

"In the past when they wanted to buy land, it was like we had to sell when they were looking for hectares and hectares of land to buy, but now when this company is looking for land to buy, they can't do what the previous ones did. They have experience," Mr Madya said.

Local villager Wayan Renri said he had heard that "the President of America" had bought the hotel. "He wants all the land from here to the sea – about 3 kilometres. But the reason people do not sell is because of the cheap price," Mr Renri said.

But the reluctance is not only because of the price. Nyoman Sudina from Nyanyi village can see the Nirwana boundary from his property. The developers have bought fields all around his home.

"I'm not selling this land. If they want to lease it they can," he said. "It's the only property we have, it's an inheritance."

MCN insists development is on track

Made Sumaway is the head of traditional affairs in Beraban village. He was approached by MNC developers a year ago to facilitate land sales. He says he refused. "We don't want people to think that we got something from the deal," Mr Sumaway said.

"So I told the management to make direct contact with the people. But it was last year and so far they haven't got anything because people here think that they can't sell their lands and they must preserve their lands.

"The management told me that they are prepared to buy as much as they can get. They have the money. But nobody is willing to sell to them."

MNC said the redevelopment was not being delayed. "Our land acquisition process has not encountered any problems or issues beyond the regular negotiations when dealing with land owners in Bali," the company said in a statement.

"Since our acquisition of Bali Nirwana back in 2013, we have already expanded this site and we will consider acquiring more land and investing in the future if there are any good opportunities; just like we do anywhere else in Indonesia."

The staff of the existing Nirwana resort have been told that their jobs will end mid-year.

Mr Tanoesodibjo – who is universally known in Indonesia as Hary Tanoe – said Mr Trump and his family would not have a financial stake in the resort, would instead be paid a fee to run the operation.

"The role of the Trump organisation is to operate the hotel, the country club and the golf only. The villa deal is more of a franchise," Mr Tanoe told the ABC.

Mr Tanoe is also working on another massive Trump project at Lido, in the hills above Jakarta. He says the two projects are "in the range of half a billion to a billion dollars". "It's the biggest project in Asia entered by the Trump organisation," he said.

'Things won't run well' if Trump does not respect tradition

Mr Sumaway says he has an open mind about Mr Trump. "From what I've seen in the US election, there were a lot of pros and cons about him. About Donald Trump's attitude, there was some racist element there. But we aren't too concerned because we have regulations in place, we have good co-operation, if he doesn't follow the regulations then things will not run well," he said.

He said it was important to understand the local spiritual connection to the land. "When we talk about the land in Bali, where most of its people are Hindus, the land has a very big meaning for us all. Because life is about take and give and that it's the responsibility of the Hindus, to preserve not only the traditions, but the culture and religion as well," Mr Sumaway said.

"The thing about the people here is that when they don't need the money, they won't sell their lands. That's what they believe in, because they know they can't just produce land. That makes owning the land very important to them."

The planned Trump resort is beside one of Bali's most important Hindu sites – the temple at Tanah Lot that sits on a rocky island about 50m offshore. It is accessible only during low tide.

The proximity of the temple means that any work done on the Trump resort will be watched closely by the island's Hindu community. "Donald Trump may have different traditions and culture but once he comes here he needs to follow ours," Mr Sumaway said.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2017-03-12/donald-trumps-prospective-bali-estate-met-with-resistance-by-locals-refusing-to-sell-land/1657168

Governance & public services

Complaints on public service delivery continue to increase: Ombudsman

Jakarta Post - March 14, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesian Ombudsman has recorded a continuous increase in complaints about the delivery of public services, showing that people are no longer reluctant to report poor services to the responsible authorities.

Ombudsman commissioner Ninik Rahayu said her institution had received complaints on public service delivery from almost 11,000 people in 2016, up from nearly 6,000 reports in the previous year.

"As of March, we received almost 3,000 reports. We really appreciate Indonesian people not hesitating anymore to report public service-related matters," she said as quoted by kompas.com on Monday.

Ninik said land matters ranked top of the complaints, followed by cases related to local administrations, such as people's rights to education and health care. The police's work performance ranked third among public services with the highest number of complaints.

"The complaints covered various issues, starting from flawed processes in obtaining SIM [driver's licenses] and renewing STNK [vehicle registration fees] to slow police responses to public reports they received," said Ninik.

Meanwhile, public complaints on judicial institutions accounted for 20 percent of the total reports.

Ninik said people filed complaints with the Ombudsman because of poor responses from the relevant institutions. "We do hope all government institutions, which use state funds, can respond to the complaints of the people," she said. (dis/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/14/complaints-on-public-service-delivery-continue-to-increase-ombudsman.html

Jakarta edges closer to restart reclamation project

Jakarta Post - March 11, 2017

Winda A. Charmila, Jakarta – By holding a public discussion to assess the Jakarta Bay land reclamation project, the city administration has put a stake in the ground to restart the controversial project.

The administration on Friday summoned stakeholders, including those from ministries, agencies, universities and communities, to provide input to the strategic environmental assessment (KLHS), which forms the basis for developers to revise their Environmental Impact Analysis (Amdal).

The result of the discussion will be submitted to the Environment and Forestry Ministry next week at the soonest and later to the Agrarian and Spatial Planning Ministry.

Fajar Kurniawan of the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry called on the administration to guarantee the livelihood of fishermen living in the area and to pay compensation to residents affected by the project.

"Our suggestions include the development of a fishing port on one of the reclamation islets and new settlements for the fishermen nearby," Fajar said.

In addition, both the administration and developers should explain their plans to fishermen to avoid misunderstandings, Fajar added.

A report released in January by pressure group People's Coalition for Fisheries Justice (KIARA) suggested the project would double costs incurred by fishermen and drastically decrease their catches, thereby taking a serious toll on their income.

Jakarta Development Planning Board (Bappeda) head Tuty Kusumawati admitted that many fishermen near the Jakarta Bay did not know the administration's detailed plans to improve their livelihood.

"We will provide big vessels and equipment for the fishermen to catch fish to allow them to sail longer," Tuty said, adding that the fishermen would be trained on skills and know-how about modern fishing methods.

According to Tuty, the administration will also provide low-cost apartments for the fishermen. Data from the Maritime Affairs, Fisheries and Food Security Agency show that around 2,100 fishermen live in North Jakarta.

Tuty said the administration was also considering to provide shelter for fishermen from outside Jakarta, most of whom lived on their boats.

Meanwhile, Denny Siahaan from the Transportation Ministry underlined that regular dredging would be necessary to maintain sea depth for big boats. "The [sea] transportation system must be taken into account," Denny said.

Even though many suggestions and concerns were voiced during the discussion, no stakeholder raised objections to the project. However, some parties that are opposed to the project, such as the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen's Association (KNTI) and the Legal Aid Institute (LBH), were not invited.

"The LBH did not receive the invitation," said LBH lawyer Tigor Hutapea, who is a member of a coalition opposed to the reclamation of land for a total of 17 islets.

The reclamation projects for Islets C, D and N were evaluated in June last year, while the Islet G project was halted. Many activists opposed to the project say it adversely affects the livelihood of fishermen, causes flooding and disrupts operations of the coal-fired power plant in Muara Karang.

Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar previously said the relevant parties should fulfill certain requirements prior to proceeding with the project. The requirements include a revision of the Amdal taking into account technical designs for power plant pipes, sedimentation mitigation and sailing routes for traditional fishermen.

Recently, the City Council added two draft bylaws – the zoning of Jakarta's coastal areas and small islands bylaw and the Jakarta north coast strategic area spatial planning bylaw, to its list for deliberation this year.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/11/jakarta-edges-closer-to-restart-reclamation-project.html

Literature & the arts

Singapore Media Festival returns on Nov 23 and will spotlight Indonesian

Straits Times - March 13, 2017

Yip Wai Yee, Singapore – The Singapore Media Festival (SMF) returns for its fourth edition from Nov 23 to Dec 3.

This year, the festival is introducing the Country Of Focus programme, which highlights the talents and achievements of a single country. The Country Of Focus for 2017 will be Indonesia.

The festival is an umbrella event hosted by IMDA, and comprises the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF), Asia TV Forum & Market, ScreenSingapore, SMF Ignite, and Asian Television Awards.

Mr Robert Gilby, chairman of the SMF advisory board and managing director of The Walt Disney Company (SEA), said in a press statement: "Introducing a Country Of Focus programme is all about creating a bold platform to showcase the quality and variety of creativity originating from that country, and affirming its strong community of creators who continue to push boundaries and explore more collaborations between the country, Singapore and the rest of the world."

He added: "South-east Asia is a region rich in potential for great storytellers, and we see the importance of amplifying these voices on the global stage. Singapore and Indonesia commemorate 50 years of bilateral and diplomatic relations in 2017, and in recent years Indonesia has proven to be a vibrant source of great content, talent and stories. It is timely that SMF marks its first Country Of Focus with Indonesia."

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/entertainment/singapore-media-festival-returns-on-nov-23-and-will-spotlight-indonesian

Armed forces & defense

Govt, TNI team up to build villages

Jakarta Post - March 9, 2017

Jakarta – The Public Works and Public Housing Ministry and the Indonesian Military (TNI) are cooperating to improve infrastructure in villages across Indonesia during the latter's community service program called TNI Manunggal Membangun Desa (TMMD).

In the third TMMD program, TNI members will be deployed to villages to develop infrastructure in the areas. TMMD is the continuation of ABRI Masuk Desa (AMD), a community service program built under Soeharto's leadership in the New Order Era.

"Since 2015, we have worked with the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry to carry out infrastructure development under the TMMD program. This includes the construction of roads in border areas and the preservation of Ciliwung and Cisadane rivers," said Army Chief of Staff (Kasad) Gen. Mulyono during a technical meeting on Thursday.

The Ciliwung River cuts across West Java while the Cisadane River passes through two provinces, Jakarta and West Java.

Mulyono said it was the Army's main task to help regional administrations accelerate their infrastructure development. He further said the TMMD program reflected the Army's identity as the army of Indonesian citizens.

Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said the TMMD program was a medium for the Army to maintain its relationship with Indonesian people.

"This is a way for the nation's military to help the people to build infrastructure in their areas, such as building bridges in remote villages that are important in facilitating their daily activities," said Basuki.

This year's TMMD program will be conducted in three periods, in which each period takes 30 days. The first period will start on April 5. (rdi/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/09/govt-tni-team-up-to-build-villages.html

Criminal justice & legal system

Death row inmates arrive at Nusakambangan amid preparations for fourth

Jakarta Post - March 13, 2017

Agus Maryono, Cilacap – At least seven death row inmates from Salemba penitentiary in Jakarta have been transferred to a high-security prison in Nusakambangan, Cilacap, Central Java, a move that has previously preceded executions on the prison island.

Abdul Aris, the warden of Nusakambangan, confirmed that 56 convicts were moved to Nusakambangan on Friday, but refused to give the exact number of death row inmates among them.

"[On Friday] 50 inmates were transferred from Salemba and six inmates from Magelang, including some death-row convicts," said Abdul to the media on Sunday.

Speculation is rife that the seven death row convicts are US Frank Amando; Chinese Chen Weibiao, Xiao Jin Zeng and Lo Tin Yau; Malaysian E Wee Hock, Nigerian Frank Chiediebere Nwaomeka; and Hong Konger Lai Shiu Cheung Anika.

Attorney General M. Prasetyo said earlier in a hearing with lawmakers that the government was preparing a fourth round of executions.

The last time death row convicts were executed on Nusakambangan was in July 2016. Four drug convicts were executed from the 14 listed at the time, consisting of an Indonesian man and three Nigerians. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/13/death-row-inmates-arrive-at-nusakambangan-amid-preparations-for-fourth-round-of-executions.html

Indonesia's war on drugs takes deadly turn

Jakarta Post - March 13, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – Rebuffing an outcry over the previous execution of 18 deathrow inmates, most of whom were drug convicts, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed officers in relevant agencies to hunt, arrest and "crush" small- and big-time drug dealers.

"If it [a shoot-on-sight policy] was allowed by law then I would order the National Police and the BNN [National Narcotics Agency] chief to do so, but luckily it is not," President Jokowi said in a speech to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking last year.

Jokowi's words appear to have inspired members of law enforcement agencies to get tough on drug traffickers. BNN chief Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso may have taken cues not only from Jokowi, but also Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte's war on drugs, which has been condemned by human rights groups for violating human rights, has killed over 8,000 people, including more than 2,500 who died in shoot-outs during raids, since the campaign started eight months ago.

A man of controversy himself, Budi has frequently told BNN personnel not to hesitate to shoot drug traffickers, dealers and users who resist arrest. He once went further by saying the lives of drug dealers were worthless, which made media headlines last year.

To put his words into actions, the BNN has procured highly lethal weapons, imported from Germany, Russia, the United States and the Czech Republic. Budi claimed that one of the four new firearm types could penetrate a reinforced wall in a single shot.

"As [drug mafias] are now using weapons, we will also use weapons to counter them. If they fight back [during arrest] we will not hesitate to shoot them. If they are killed [because they fight back], it's their own fault," Budi said in a recent interview.

The National Police have also joined the fray, with police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian instructing personnel to use deadly force against suspected drug dealers if they resist arrest during raids.

Tito, however, has made it clear that officers can only fire when suspects use weapons or pose a threat to officers and other people during their arrest, as instructed by the Criminal Code and standard operating procedures (SOP) in the form of a National Police chief regulation (Perkap).

Rights groups, which are closely watching Jokowi's stepped-up war on drugs, have been alarmed by the rising casualties. The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has revealed that the number of alleged drug dealers shot dead in raids is increasing.

Data from Kontras, which was collected through media monitoring only, revealed that since January 2016, 32 suspected drug dealers were reportedly shot dead in raids, both by police personnel following orders from the BNN and by officers working on regular operations.

"The actual figure could be higher because this is only the data we compiled through media monitoring. We don't talk about arbitrary shootings that were not covered or reported to human rights watchdogs," Kontras deputy coordinator Puri Kencana Putri told The Jakarta Post.

Data from Kontras also revealed that August last year was the deadliest month on record, with nine fatalities reported by the media. While the period between Jan. 22 and Dec. 31 saw 14 deaths, the first three months of 2017 had over half that number of casualties. Since Jan. 6, 18 suspected dealers have been shot dead in raids.

Both the BNN and the National Police's Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) narcotics division declined to elaborate on the death toll from drug raids when the Post requested further details.

The BNN's eradication department head, Insp. Gen. Arman Depari, acknowledged that the number of suspected drug traders shot dead for resisting arrest was likely to have increased in recent years.

The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), which also monitors the issue, said there could be a link between the application of capital punishment and the increasing number of fatalities in raids.

"Drug dealers know that the maximum sentence for them is the death penalty. Psychologically, they will put up a stronger fight because they know if they are arrested, they could be executed," ICJR executive director Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono told the Post.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/13/indonesias-war-on-drugs-takes-deadly-turn.html

More MK justices probed for alleged ethics violations

Jakarta Post - March 10, 2017

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – It has been a busy period for the Constitutional Court's (MK) ethics council.

After concluding its task to look into former justice Patrialis Akbar, who was fired in late January following his gaining of the status of a corruption suspect, the council has been busy investigating alleged ethics violations by half of the remaining eight justices – including chief justice Arief Hidayat – for not updating their annual wealth reports with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) as required by the Corruption Law.

The court was only weeks away from beginning to conduct hearings on 49 regional election disputes when the news about the justices' alleged negligence broke, further harming public confidence in the court, which was already hit hard by the KPK's arrest of Patrialis,

Ethics council chairman Abdul Mukhtie Fadjar, also a former Constitutional Court justice, said Thursday the council had questioned the reported justices on Wednesday, saying "some of them claimed to have updated" their wealth report documents (LHKPN), but "the KPK has yet to make them available to the public". "We give them one week [to complete the documents]," Abdul said.

Earlier, three civil society organizations – Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW), the Indonesian Budget Center (IBC) and the Indonesian Legal Aid Union (PBHI) – grouped under the "Coalition to Save the MK" reported to the council that Arief and fellow justices Anwar Usman, Aswanto and Suhartoyo had failed to file their latest wealth reports.

Arief had yet to update his LHKPN after assuming his current position in 2015 to replace graft convict Akil Mochtar, while Anwar, a former career justice at the Supreme Court, had yet to submit his latest wealth report after being appointed as Constitutional Court justice in 2011 and after being promoted to his current position in 2015, according to the coalition.

The coalition also reported that Aswanto and Suhartoyo had yet to submit their latest wealth reports after being appointed as Constitutional Court justices in 2014 and in 2015, respectively.

Suhartoyo claimed he had reported "all documents" to the ethics council and that he was preparing his latest LHKPN when "the media started to publish reports" on the alleged ethical violations following a statement by KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah saying that some of the justices had yet to report their LHKPN.

Arief, meanwhile, only said "just ask the ethics council" when asked by The Jakarta Post about the matter. He also argued that the obligation for state officials to report their LKPN was still a "debatable subject".

Separately, Todung Mulya Lubis, a member of the selection committee to choose a new justice to replace Patrialis, said only half of the 45 applicants met the formal requirements set by the committee.

The committee will announce the candidates who passed the administrative phase on Friday and will seek input from the public and a number of agencies to scrutinize the track records of the candidates.

Veri Junaidi, the chairman of judiciary watchdog KoDe Inisiatif, said the current selection process had provided impetus for the Court to improve public perception of the institution, which had been "badly damaged".

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/10/more-mk-justices-probed-for-alleged-ethics-violations.html

Police & law enforcement

Indonesian police fifth most corrupt institution in the country:

Jakarta Globe - March 10, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesian police have promised to improve their performance after Transparency International Indonesia, or TII, released a survey naming the police force as the fifth most corrupt institution in Indonesia.

"We appreciate the survey. We promise to improve and earn the public's trust again," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Rikwanto said in Jakarta on Thursday (09/03).

The result of the survey is actually an improvement from a previous survey, also by TII, in 2013, when the police was named the most corrupt institution in Indonesia.

"We've made a lot of effort to improve the welfare of police officers, providing them with housing and merit-based allowance," Rikwanto added.

The institution has also implemented an effective "reward and punishment" system – rewarding officers who excelled in their job and sanctioning those who broke the law for their own advantage.

"We've caught some of these corrupt officers in in sting operations," the senior officer said.

The police urge the public to report attempts at extortion or other types of crime by police officers without fear of recriminations.

Transparency International Indonesia interviewed 1,000 respondents over 18 years of age in 31 provinces in Indonesia for the survey. The survey's official title is "Global Corruption Barometer 2017."

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesian-police-fifth-corrupt-institution-country-transparency-international/

Mining & energy

Local miners ready to operate Grasberg mine, says lawmaker

Jakarta Post - March 14, 2017

Viriya P. Singgih, Jakarta – A lawmaker has urged the government to give local mining companies the chance to manage Papua's Grasberg mine, the world's biggest gold mine and second-largest copper mine, if it fails to reach a settlement with PT Freeport Indonesia over a contractual dispute.

"The mine could be operated by state-owned mining firms like PT Aneka Tambang [Antam], for instance, which already has a lot of experience in the mining sector," Mukhtar Tompo, a member of the House of Representatives Commission VII overseeing natural mineral resources and the environment, from the Hanura Party, said on Monday.

Freeport, Indonesia's oldest foreign investor, is in a deadlock over its future operations in the country, as the government requires the company to convert its contract of work (CoW) signed in 1991 into a special mining license (IUPK) in return for an export permit extension.

The subsidiary of the United States-based Freeport McMoRan has repeatedly rejected the idea of contract conversion and stated that if the dispute was prolonged, it may take the case to international arbitration, a move that many deem would be costly for both parties.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has also previously stated that state-owned aluminum producer PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum) was capable of managing the Grasberg mine.

"We can manage [the Grasberg mine]. We have Inalum. It is up to the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry, but we are ready," Luhut said recently. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/14/local-miners-ready-to-operate-grasberg-mine-says-lawmaker.html

Bishop speaks up for workers in Indonesian mining dispute

UCA News - March 9, 2017

Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta – A bishop in Papua has called for government aid for thousands of Papuans made jobless as a result of a bitter contractual dispute between the government and U.S.-based mining giant PT Freeport McMoran Inc.

The row, which has reduced operations at the world's second biggest copper mine in Papua's Mimika district by about 60 percent, stems from Indonesia seeking to change mining industry regulations over ore processing and foreign ownership.

The government wants to cap copper concentrate exports to boost its domestic smelting industry.

Freeport says the regulations breach its current contract with the government, which runs until 2021. The company says the rules would also affect contracts it has with its customers overseas. However, the dispute has resulted in job losses for contractors and workers.

"The company has laid off more than a thousand workers. It also threatens to reduce ongoing programs offered to the local community, such as scholarships and health-care services. This is a problem," Bishop John Philip Saklil of Jayapura told ucanews.com.

The prelate recalled that he and some Papuans owning indigenous land rights, known as hak ulayat, met with Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan on Feb. 27 in Jakarta to find a solution to the problem.

"Such a lay-off has victimized many people who depend solely on the company. Many other Papuans, benefit from the programs," he said.

According to the local Manpower, Transmigration and Public Housing Agency nearly 1,100 workers were laid off as a result of the dispute.

"They dreamed of a good future but then were laid off. Many still have debts to pay. It is not easy for them. Now everyone is worried about their future," Bishop Saklil said.

A local tribal leader said laid off indigenous people could revert to old traditional activities like hunting to get by, but mining activities have caused havoc with the local ecosystem.

"Due to polluted waters, their feet and hands start to hurt when they go into rivers. Also, animals living in or near rivers have died. So how can we hunt to live?" Amungme tribal leader Yanes Natkimu said.

Source: http://www.ucanews.com/news/bishops-speak-up-for-workers-in-indonesian-mining-dispute/78608

Indonesia prepares Rp 40t to acquire Freeport shares

Jakarta Post - March 9, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesia has prepared Rp 40 trillion (US$2.96 billion) for acquiring shares in PT Freeport Indonesia, a copper and gold miner in Papua, as the company is required to divest at least 51 percent of its shares as stipulated in the new mining regulation.

The fund, will be used to buy 40.65 percent of Freeport's shares as it already holds 9.36 percent of the mining giant's stock.

The government and Freeport have been negotiating several issues including the conversion of Freeport's contract agreement from a Contract of Work (CoW) to a special mining license (IUPK), the share divestment and concentrate export permit.

For the share acquisition, the government has sourced the funds from the state-owned enterprises' pension fund (Dapen), Hadi said, adding that the move was in line with the instruction of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

"It is the government, which will be responsible for the fund, not the state enterprises," said Hadi as reported by tribunnews.com on Thursday, adding that after the divestment the operator of the mining site would still be Freeport.

The divestment requirement is stipulated in Government Regulation (PP) No. 1/2017 on mineral and coal mining.

Speaking about the demand of the Mimika administration for 10 percent to 20 percent of the Freeport shares, Hadi said, it was still in the process of discussion.

Energy and Mineral Resources Deputy Minister Archandra Tahar, however, said Freeport had not agreed on the divestment of its shares. "We are fighting [to get] 51 percent of the shares]. We can talk later about the demand of the regional administration," Archandra added.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/09/indonesia-prepares-rp-40t-to-acquire-freeport-shares.html

500,000 miners exposed to mercury, study shows

Jakarta Post - March 9, 2017

Jakarta – About 500,000 traditional miners, including 100,000 women and children, are exposed to the highly toxic mercury, a recent survey shows.

Bali Fokus' research in Sekotong, West Nusa Tenggara, and Paboyo in Central Sulawesi, found that the dangerous chemical is widely used to amalgamate gold. There, the risky process is done in people's backyards and on their farms. Miners also use cyanide and directly dump the waste into rivers.

"Some women even use fireplaces in their kitchen to help their husband amalgamate gold," Toxic Program Manager of Bali Fokus Foundation, Krishna Zaki, said in Jakarta on Wednesday.

A separate study by the Biodiversity Research Institute on traditional mining communities in Sekotong, West Nusa Tenggara, and in Paboyo, Central Sulawesi, in 2012 showed that the mercury levels in people's blood exceeded the safe standard.

The average mercury level at both communities was recorded at 4.32 ppm. with 1 ppm being the most tolerable level and 10 ppm as the highest level of exposure to mercury.

Bali Fokus found that several new born babies and children in the surveyed communities showed signs of neurological disorder, cerebral palsy, and deformity, among other things.

"We have not been able to check the levels of chemical substances in all of the kids' blood but among some of the children we did find traces of mercury," Krishna said.

The Health Ministry, which has embarked on a national action plan on mercury exposure, admitted that it still lacked vital facilities for detection and early diagnoses of mercury-related health issues.

"Our biomonitoring facilities for detecting the mercury exposure in the blood system are available only in several big cities in Sumatra an Java," Inne Nurfiliana of the ministry said, noting that the situation was precarious because most of the mining communities live in rural areas.

The ministry reckons that costly diagnosis was a major issue. A single check on the amount of metal amount in one's blood using the biomonitoring system costs between Rp 300,000 and Rp 600,000.

"It's hard to stop the use of mercury because a lot of people depend on it for their livelihood," Purwasto Saroprayogi of the Environment and Forestry Ministry said. Furthermore, most traditional miners obtain it from the black market.

This year the Ministry is planning to begin pilot projects in Lebak, Banten; Banyumas, Central Java, and Pacitan, East Java, for gold processing with gold cyanidation, instead of mercury.

While the level of toxicity of cyanide is still unknown, Purwasto assured that with a closed management system it would be less dangerous than mercury.

"To control the use of mercury, we have to control small-scale miners," Purwanto said. The ministry's short-term plan would be to organize the small scale miners under the People's Mining Zoning scheme. (hol)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/09/500000-miners-exposed-to-mercury-study-shows.html

Economy & investment

Exports increase by 19.2 percent to $26b in first two months

Jakarta Post - March 15, 2017

Stefani Ribka, Jakarta – Exports during January to February increased by 19.2 percent to US$25.98 billion from $21.79 billion in the same period last year thanks to recovered commodity prices.

Non-oil-and-gas exports contributed $23.51 billion, which was a 20.11 percent increase, while oil and gas exports contributed $2.47 billion, which was an 11.26 percent increase.

Exports for February alone reached $12.57 billion, a 6.2 percent decrease from $13.4 billion in January due to seasonality factor. "Ceclining exports in February is merely due to seasonal factors," said Central Statistics Agency (BPS) head Suhariyanto on Wednesday.

Commodities that enjoyed the highest surge in the second month of the year were jewelry (a $252 million increase), rubber and articles, organic chemicals, vehicles and spare parts and pharmacy products.

Meanwhile, ore and ash metal suffered the biggest drop (a $316 million decrease), followed by mineral fuels, vegetable and animal fats, copper and steel and iron.

The regions accounting for the most exported products remain West Java (automotive, printers and tires), Riau (crude palm oil and palm products) and East Kalimantan (natural gas and coals), which together contributed 39.11 percent of the total exports for the two months.

Imports in the first two months, meanwhile, also increased by 12.51 percent to $23.22 billion, comprising $18.97 billion in non-oil-and-gas imports that increased by only 3.67 percent and $4.2 billion in oil-and-gas imports, which surged by 82 percent.

The progress led Indonesia to enjoy a trade surplus of $2.7 billion. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/15/exports-increase-by-19-2-percent-to-26b-in-first-two-months.html

Political instability spooks EU investors

Jakarta Post - March 9, 2017

Fedina S. Sundaryani, Jakarta – Political instability has alarmed European businesspeople as they are now weighing their reinvestment options in Indonesia.

According to the Joint European Chambers' Business Confidence Index 2016, concerns over political instability have crept into 47 percent of 148 respondents, rising from 32 percent in the previous year.

The result was an indication that political stability was no small issue when evaluating Indonesia's business environment, said British Chamber of Commerce (BritCham) Indonesia chairman Adrian Short.

"We're seeing a negative bounce back in businesses' views around the risks of political and social stability. That is clearly a balancing factor against all the positive factors we've seen here," he said during the announcement of the index on Wednesday.

"So that's not one that we should take lightly and take that as something that is a factor for businesses in general."

The result contrasted greatly to the one reported in 2014, when 47 percent of the survey's respondents said they had a positive outlook on the political environment.

At the time, European businesspeople's optimism seemed to have been triggered by the euphoria surrounding the election of President Joko "Jokowi" Widoous do and the announcement of his Cabinet lineup, Short said.

However, the country has been hit by political instability since October stemming from the Jakarta gubernatorial election, with the race and religion card being played throughout the process.

It came as no surprise that the number of European investors on the fence about reinvesting rose 22 percent. When asked whether they would carry out major investment in Indonesia, 41 percent of respondents answered "maybe."

Meanwhile, those who answered "yes" – still optimistic about investment prospects – fell 11 percent and those who said "no" also declined by 11 percent.

In addition to political instability, the survey finds investors – represented by senior executives at European firms operating in Jakarta – are also worried about the regulatory environment and lengthy red tape. Regulatory environment topped the list of their concerns.

Data from the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) show realized foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2016 posted the slowest growth in the past five years. The growth rate came in at 12.3 percent, far lower than the previrange of 16.2 percent to 27.3 percent.

The amount of investment from the European Union to Indonesia stood at US$13.3 billion during the five-year period, with the top investors hailing from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France.

A majority of the investment was channeled in Java, with most investors opting to invest in the automotive, telecommunications and energy and mining sectors.

All concerns factored in, the survey finds 49 percent of respondents were confident about business in 2016, falling slightly by 1 percentage point from 2015.

UK Ambassador to Indonesia and Timor Leste Moazzam Malik said the survey might have been overstating people's worries around political stability, as it was carried out between December and January, when there were many protests held against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

"The survey slightly overstates the political concern given this particular period, just as I think two years ago the survey probably overstated the confidence and optimism when the survey period coincided with the first few weeks after the election of President Jokowi," he said.

Meanwhile, not all is dreary in regard to investors' expectations about conducting business in Indonesia. The survey also states that a majority of European investors believe revenue and workforce will increase in the next 12 months.

Moreover, most companies believe the Indonesian government will take more action than in the previous year in several areas, such as consultation with businesses, coordination with other ministries and making pro-business decisions.

Separately, Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) deputy chairperson of international relations Shinta Widjaja Kamdani said it was not a surprise that Indonesia's political stability was a rising concern for foreign investors on account of the heated environment surrounding the elections.

However, she said it was "only a temporary concern" and was unlikely to significantly affect EU investment in Indonesia.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/09/political-instability-spooks-eu-investors.html

People & places

Meet the Donald Trump of Indonesia

BBC News - March 10, 2017

Karishma Vaswani – On top of a rock formation on the Indonesian island of Bali, sits Tanah Lot. It's a simple 16th century Balinese temple, set against a backdrop of the Indian Ocean, but it's about to get a very 21st century neighbour.

Just across the beach from here is the sprawling but dated Bali Nirwana Resort. And in a few months time, construction will begin to transform it into the first Trump-branded resort on the island.

Yes. That Trump. The site was bought in 2013 by businessman Hary Tanoesoedibjo, Indonesia's 29th richest man according to Forbes Magazine.

And in 2015 he signed a $1bn (820m) deal with Donald Trump to build and develop a Trump Hotel and Tower in West Java, as well as the six-star luxury resort in Bali.

Mr Tanoesodibjo will pay for the construction and give the Trump Organisation an undisclosed fee for the use of the name and rights to manage the resorts. But that's not where the connection with the US President ends.

'Close access'

Known for his forthright and straightforward views, Mr Tanoesoedibjo, or Hary Tanoe, is often called Indonesia's Donald Trump.

A media mogul, he runs the MNC Group, a vast conglomerate that spans financial services, media and property. Set up in 1997, it was listed on the Jakarta Stock Exchange. And like the man in the White House, he's also a prolific tweeter.

But his connection to Mr Trump has created a fair amount of controversy both in Indonesia and overseas. In a recent interview with an Indonesian magazine, Mr Tanoesoedibjo reportedly said that he had "close access" to the US President, raising eyebrows about the potential conflicts of interest in this relationship.

But speaking to me in the cosy library of his palatial home, he told me that the two shared a "normal business relationship." And he fully believes President Trump when he says he's no longer involved in the day-to-day running of his businesses.

"I have to underline this," Mr Tanoesoedibjo says. "Since he's president of the United States, he's no longer involved in the business so I basically deal with the children, Eric Trump and Don Jr."

VIP treatment

But the two men have met, and fairly recently. Mr Tanoesoedibjo and his wife were invited to the president's inauguration, and treated like VIP guests. His wife posted photos of their time with the Trump family on her social media feeds.

So surely there's a perception that if the two men are close, there's a conflict of interest, I asked him. How can he convince people otherwise?

"There's no conflict of interest," he says categorically. "Conflict of interest may happen if the project is agreed upon when he is a president. But this happened long before he even decided to run for president."

'Naive'

Still, some of Mr Trump's controversial decisions since coming to office, not least the travel ban widely interpreted as targeting Muslims, have had an impact on Mr Tanoesoedibjo's reputation in the predominantly Islamic Indonesia.

"People will look at him (Mr Tanoesoedibjo) as a kid trying to follow big brother, as naive," popular radio talk show host Wimar Witoelar told me in his studio.

"He shouldn't run around with people like Trump. Both are pragmatic businessmen, they would explore any opportunities to make money... but what would people in the US think if Trump has a business connection in Indonesia? It's a Muslim-majority country. Where is his consistency?"

Mr Tanoesodibjo is quick to rebut these claims. "Mr Trump is not banning the Muslims," he insists. "He's banning the country, the people of those countries. I think we have to be very clear on that... [it's] nothing to do with Muslim people."

The two men have more than just business in common. Mr Tanoesoedibjo has set up his own political party, and has already run for office once. He hasn't ruled out running for president of Indonesia, taking leadership lessons from his business partner perhaps?

In his library, I notice that Mr Tanoesoedibjo has kept one of Mr Trump's books in pride of place.

"Not only does he inspire me, I think he inspires everyone," he says. "With basically minimum experience in politics, minimum experience in bureaucracy, he can become President of the United States."

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39227053


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