Home > South-East Asia >> Indonesia

Indonesia News Digest 14 – April 8-14, 2017

West Papua Aceh Human rights & justice Labour & migrant workers Freedom of speech & expression Freedom of information & the press Political parties & elections Blasphemy & the Jakarta elections Environment & natural disasters Health & education Graft & corruption Terrorism & religious extremism Hard-line & vigilante groups Freedom of religion & worship Islam & religion Agriculture & food security Land & agrarian conflicts Housing & property Regional autonomy & separatism Parliament & legislation Jakarta & urban life Armed forces & defense Criminal justice & legal system Foreign affairs & trade Mining & energy Analysis & opinion

West Papua

New app allows Papuans to call emergency services, complain about police

Jakarta Post - April 14, 2017

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura, Papua – Jayapura Police have launched Noken Online, an Android-based mobile application that aims to improve police and other emergency services.

"To submit a report, residents do not need to travel to a precinct or sub-precinct police station anymore. They can just open the Noken Online app on their Android mobile phones and submit their reports. People can monitor the situation in the city and give input to the police from home," Jayapura Police chief Tober Marison Sirait said during the launch of the application on Wednesday.

During the launch, Papua Police chief Paulus Waterpauw used the application to contact the offices of several village-level security and public order advisors (Babinkamtibmas).

"It is hoped that all Jayapura residents can benefit from this application as much as possible so that they can get services as early as possible," said Waterpauw.

The Noken Online app is to be implemented widely across the province. "Jayapura Police has pioneered the implementation of this online-based service. It is hoped that other police precincts do the same in a bid to provide good services to the people," Waterpauw said.

The public services covered by the app include the health sector, as people can directly contact emergency units at the Dok II Regional General Hospital (RSUD) in Jayapura, the Bhayangkara Police Hospital and the Indonesian Navy's Marthen Indey Hospital.

People can also contact fire units, offices of state-owned electricity firm PLN and state-owned tap water company PDAM Entrop, the Jayapura branch of the Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS) and the Jayapura Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD). A panic button connects users to police offices across Jayapura. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/14/new-app-allows-papuans-to-call-emergency-services-complain-about-police.html

Papua lacks medical support to combat whooping cough, HIV/AIDS: Group

Jakarta Post - April 12, 2017

Jakarta – A shortage of healthcare facilities and medical practitioners has hampered efforts to combat whooping cough and HIV/AIDS, two of the main health problems affecting people in Papua.

Although they are treatable illnesses, whooping cough (formally known as pertussis) and HIV/AIDS have developed into epidemics in the province because of people's poor access to proper medication and essential medicines.

Papua-based health advocacy group Sekretariat Keadilan, Perdamaian dan Keutuhan Ciptaan (SKPKC) Fransiskan said pertussis and HIV/AIDS had taken a lot of people's lives.

Basil Haryanto of the SKPKC Fransiskan said a lack of medical practitioners had contributed to the high number of HIV/AIDS cases in Papua because many patients were unable to get proper health treatment.

Papua Health Agency data shows that as of June 2016, there were 25,349 HIV/AIDS cases in 28 regencies and Jayapura city in Papua, a region populated by 2.83 million people, according to the Central Statistics Agency's 2010 census.

Whooping cough has also spread quickly in Papua, although with proper treatment the disease is manageable, the activist said. This shows local authorities have neglected their responsibilities to fully guarantee Papuan people's right to health, he said.

In Mbua district, Nduga regency, pertussis killed 54 children from October 2015 to January 2016 because of a lack of skilled health workers in existing facilities.

"The government has built many community health centers [Puskesmas] in Papua, but the problem is no medical practitioners are placed there," said Veronika Koman, a human rights lawyer and an activist from Papua itu Kita (Papua is Us). (rdi/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/12/papua-lacks-medical-support-to-combat-whooping-cough-hivaids-group.html


Gay couple beaten, detained by Indonesian vigilantes likely to face

ABC Radio Australia - April 11, 2017

Adam Harvey, Indonesia – A video recording of Indonesian vigilantes detaining two young gay men captures them kicking, slapping and insulting the pair, shortly before they are turned over to the province's religious police.

The young men, aged 20 and 23, have already been held in custody for 10 days and are likely to be the country's first gay couple to face trial for breaching religious laws.

In the latest example of Indonesia's growing religious conservatism, the men will be caned if convicted and face a maximum penalty of 100 strokes.

The shaky cell phone video shows a naked young man slumped on the floor, making a desperate phone call. "Brother, please help, please help, please help us," he says.

In the background a shirtless young man tries to leave the room. He is pushed roughly away from the door. The man on the floor is slapped, then kicked. "Brother we got busted having sex," he says, on the phone.

Banda Aceh's head of investigations for the Sharia Police, Marzuki Ali, said the people who detained the pair on March 28 were neighbours of the men who were suspicious of the couple.

In the video, the religious policeman giggles as he describes their capture. "Because of the suspicion, at around 11:00pm the locals raid the house, and they caught them having anal sex, through the 'back door'," he said.

The video captures the neighbours calling one of the men "a dog" – a particularly offensive insult to any Muslim. One of the crying young men pleads: "Brother please don't report me." "You are a man," says his accuser. "Why do you look like this?"

Human rights group calls for President's intervention

Banda Aceh's religious police enforce the province's strict sharia code. Andreas Harsono, from the group Human Rights Watch, said the code against gay sex was passed in 2014, but until now authorities had not had enough evidence to charge anyone.

"Obviously it's not easy to catch a couple involved in a sexual act... This is the first case ever in Aceh," he said.

If the men are convicted and caned, they will join the 339 people who were flogged in Aceh last year for so-called moral offences, like gambling, drinking, or spending time in private with a member of the opposite sex.

The ABC witnessed one of those canings in the Aceh town of Jantho – an 18-year-old woman who received nine strokes after she was caught alone in a room with her boyfriend. The teenager was caned outside a mosque after Friday prayers and had to be helped off the stage after her ordeal.

Human Rights Watch has asked President Joko Widodo to intervene in this latest case. "I hope President Jokowi says something against this. It is against the constitution, it is torture," Mr Harsono said.

"This is a small part of growing discriminatory in Indonesia. Over the last 15 years we are seeing more and more discrimination against minorities and gender minorities including women."

Mr Harsono said local sharia codes were spreading across Indonesia. They cover everything from sex outside marriage to the type of hijab and clothing a woman must wear.

"It is not just Aceh. There is now mandatory hijab in one-fifth of all Indonesian regencies. Of Indonesia's 514 regencies and cities more than 130 have mandatory hijab regulations," he said.

The men caught in Banda Aceh will remain in custody until their trial.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2017-04-11/gay-couple-beaten-detained-by-indonesian-vigilantes-likely-to-face-trial-under-sharia-law/1664164

Two Indonesians face 100 strokes of cane if found guilty of gay sex

Reuters - April 10, 2017

Two Indonesians are to go on trial in an Islamic court for having gay sex and could receive 100 strokes of the cane if found guilty, officials in the conservative province of Aceh said, sparking calls from a rights group for their release.

Aceh is the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia that criminalises same-sex relations and that uses sharia as its legal code in addition to the national criminal code.

"The case has been sent to the sharia court of Aceh... It involves sodomy which can be punished by 100 lashes," Tarmizi, head of investigations with Aceh's religious police, said on Monday.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Indonesia to release the men who were detained last month after vigilantes reported them to religious police for allegedly engaging in gay sex.

"These men had their privacy invaded in a frightening and humiliating manner and now face public torture for the 'crime' of their alleged sexual orientation," HRW's Phelim Kine said in a statement. "Indonesian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release the two men."

In 2014, Aceh enacted a law that punishes anybody caught engaging in consensual gay sex with 100 lashes, 100 months in jail or a fine of 1,000 grams of gold.

It also sets out punishment for sex crimes, unmarried people engaging in displays of affection, adulterous relationships and underage sex.

Authorities in the province on the northern tip of Sumatra island caned 339 people in 2016 for a range of crimes, according to HRW.

Religious police in Aceh have also been known to target Muslim women without head scarves or those wearing tight clothes, and people drinking alcohol or gambling.

Two women were detained in October last year on suspicion of being lesbians after they were seen hugging in public, and were made to undergo "rehabilitation", according to media reports.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community has faced growing pressure since high-ranking government officials last year expressed reservations about activism by its members.

[Reporting by Reuters stringer; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Ed Davies.]

Source: http://in.reuters.com/article/indonesia-lgbt-caning-idINKBN17C0Y1?rpc=401&

Two men in Indonesia's Aceh province face caning for gay sex

Associated Press - April 8, 2017

Banda Aceh, Indonesia – Two men in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province each face up to 100 strokes of the cane after neighbors reported them to Islamic religious police for having gay sex.

Marzuki, the Shariah police's chief investigator, said Saturday that if found guilty, the men will be the first to be caned for gay sex under a new code implemented two years ago.

Residents in a neighborhood of the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, reported the men, aged 23 and 20, to police on March 29, said Marzuki, who goes by a single name.

He said the men had "confessed" to being a gay couple and that this was supported by video footage taken by a resident that has been circulating online. It shows one of the men naked and visibly distressed as he apparently calls for help on his cellphone. The second man is repeatedly pushed by another man who is preventing the couple from leaving the room.

Aceh is the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia to practice Shariah law, which was a concession made by the national government in 2006 to end a years-long war with separatists.

A Shariah code implemented two years ago allows up to 100 lashes for morality offenses including gay sex. Caning is also a punishment for adultery, gambling, drinking alcohol, women who wear tight clothes and men who skip Friday prayers.

Marzuki said residents in Banda Aceh's Rukoh neighborhood were suspicious of the two men because they often seemed to be intimate, and had set out to catch them having sex.

"Based on our investigation, testimony of witnesses and evidence, we can prove that they violated Islamic Shariah law and we can take them to court," Marzuki said.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, but a judicial review being considered by the Constitutional Court is seeking to criminalize sex outside marriage and sex between people of the same gender.

Source: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/a/as_indonesia_shariah?site=ap§ion=home&template=default&ctime=2017-04-08-02-38-03

Human rights & justice

AGO to set up special unit to tackle past rights abuses

Jakarta Post - April 12, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonan, Jakarta – The Attorney General's Office is planning to create a special directorate, which will handle the settlement of past human rights violation cases.

Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo announced the plan during a hearing with members of the House of Representatives' Commission III, which oversees law and human rights, on Wednesday.

The special directorate will be led by an echelon-two official and will focus its work on finding solutions to past human rights violations, he said. "We hope the establishment of this directorate will effectively push forward efforts to settle cases of past rights abuses," Prasetyo said.

Among past rights abuses, which remain unresolved, are the anticommunist massacres of 1965; the mysterious shootings of criminals between 1982 and 1985, known as Petrus; the Talangsari massacre in 1989; and the forced disappearances of anti-Soeharto activists in 1997 and 1998.

Other cases include the Tri Sakti tragedy in 1998; the Semanggi I and Semanggi II student shooting incidents in 1998 and 1999; as well as a string of abuses that occurred in Wasior and Wamena, Papua, in 2001 and 2003 respectively.

During the meeting, Prasetyo reiterated the government's stance against resolving past abuses through a human rights tribunal. He said insistence on a judicial mechanism would prevent settlement efforts from progressing because of the sensitive nature of rights abuse cases.

Prasetyo further explained that the new directorate would collaborate with other related government institutions in search of win-win solutions. "It is needed to prevent gross rights violations in the future," he said, when asked about the significance of the directorate. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/12/ago-to-set-up-special-unit-to-tackle-past-rights-abuses.html

Activists claim Yogyakarta administration violates human rights by

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – The Yogyakarta administration's stance on banning street musicians is thought by some to have breached the economic, social, cultural, civic and political rights of the province's residents. The administration has categorized the musicians as vagrants and beggars who disrupt traffic.

Pandawa Legal Aid and Consultation Institute director Sugiyarto said on Monday that the Yogyakarta governor through the Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) had banned angklung (bamboo music instrument) players from operating on city streets based on a 2004 regional regulation on traffic management and a 2014 regional regulation on vagrants and beggars.

"They are not vagrants or beggars. They have ID cards and dress neatly while entertaining people who are waiting at the traffic lights," Sugiyarto said while accompanying angklung players who complained of the policy to the Yogyakarta City Council.

Sugiyarto said the street musicians were trying to make a living, an action that was protected under Law No. 30/1999 on human rights.

Angklung player Widi Ariska said if the musicians were banned from making a living on the streets, they would be unemployed and fall into poverty.

"I can earn about Rp 100,000 [US$7.50] a day," said Widi, a Banyumas resident in Central Java, adding that there were some 15 angklung street musician groups throughout the province, 40 percent of whom were Yogyakarta residents.

Yogyakarta City Council deputy head Dharma Setiawan said he would help solve the problem. However, Yogyakarta Public Order Agency head GBPH Yudhaningrat stated that the agency would continue to ban the musicians from working on the streets, arguing that their activities fell under the category of begging.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/activists-claim-yogyakarta-administration-violates-human-rights-by-banning-street-musicians.html

Labour & migrant workers

Indonesia needs 113 million skilled workers

Antara News - April 14, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesia would need 113 million skilled workers in 2030 to develop its potential to become the worlds seventh largest economy, Manpower Minister M Hanif Dhakiri said.

"It means that Indonesia needs to supply 3.7 million skilled workers per year," the minister stated at the ministry's apprenticeship program in Karawang, West Java, on Thursday.

A research of McKinsley Global Institute (MGI) in 2016 showed that Indonesia would need 113 million skilled workers for developing the potential to become the world's seventh largest economy in 2030.

Hanif noted that in addition to the lack of skilled workers, majority of Indonesian work forces are high school graduates and many of them work in fields that did not match their educational background.

Therefore, the government has involved private sectors to increase the number of skilled workers, through the national integrated apprenticeship program in industries, he added.

"Participants of the program would get the benefit of increasing their working experience, developing working mental behavior, and increasing competence in accordance with market demand. This would become an important asset for someone to get a job or start working independently," he added.

The national apprenticeship, held in cooperation with the Employers Association of Indonesia (Apindo) and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), involving 2,648 companies, is part of the government's efforts to improve its human resource quality.

During the apprenticeship program, industries would facilitate participants with work accident insurance, life insurance, and allowance.

The number of apprentice is expected to reach 163 thousand in 2017, higher than the total apprentice during 2009 to Nov 2016, which reached 169,137 participants only. (*)

Source: http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/110439/indonesia-needs-113-million-skilled-workers

Workers demand Tangerang Police sack officer who hit female protester

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Jakarta – The Independent Laborers Union Confederation (GSBI) held a demonstration on Monday in front of the Jakarta Police headquarters in South Jakarta to demand the dismissal of Adj. Sr. Comr. Danu Wiyata, Tangerang Police's chief of intelligence and security agency, who is alleged to have assaulted a female factory worker.

As seen in a video that went viral, Danu apparently slapped a female factory worker during a confrontation as the police attempted to disperse protesters who were holding a rally during a car-free day event on Sunday in Tangerang, Banten.

"We condemn the act of violence by the Tangerang Police who also forcibly dispersed a peaceful rally by Tangerang workers," said coordinator of the demonstration, Rudi HB Daman, in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post.

According to a protester who preferred to remain anonymous, several representatives of the protesters later met with an investigator from the police's internal affairs division (Propam).

Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said on Monday that the police would not attempt to cover up any violation committed by police officers.

"We will not dismiss any mistakes made by officers. This [incident] should teach us to refrain from being emotional and remain calm," he said.(dea/dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/workers-demand-tangerang-police-sack-officer-who-hit-female-protester.html

Police investigate officer who hit female labor protester

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Tanggerang – Police have conducted an investigation into an officer who slapped a female labor protester in Tanggerang city, Banten province, for holding a demonstration in the middle of a car-free day on the weekend, when other events are prohibited.

"The police's internal affairs division is investigating the incident. We apologize for the inconvenience," said Sr. Cmmr. Harry Kurniawan, as quoted by kompas.com on Monday.

The incident happened when police tried to disperse a group of people who were holding a protest during the car-free day event. The female shoe factory workers refused to leave.

As seen in a video that went viral, the precinct's chief of intelligence and security agency, Adj. Sr. Cmmr. Danu Wiyata, slapped a protester during a heated argument with her. (kkk/dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/police-investigate-officer-who-hit-female-labor-protester.html

Govt's bolder steps expected as hundreds of workers still locked up

Jakarta Post - April 8, 2017

Panca Nugraha, Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara – The West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) administration is still waiting for progress in the Foreign Ministry's efforts to release 300 Indonesian citizens seeking to work in Saudi Arabia, who have been locked up in Riyadh, the largest city in the country.

"Yes, it's been reported that there are 300 Indonesians, most of them from NTB. This case is being handled by the Foreign Ministry via the Legal Aid and Protection of Indonesian Nationals Overseas Directorate. We are still waiting for the results," NTB Manpower Agency head Wildan said on Friday.

It was strongly suspected that the 300 Indonesians departed for Saudi Arabia without taking proper procedures. "This is because the moratorium on the dispatch of Indonesian workers to Saudi Arabia and Middle Eastern countries is still in effect. But because they are NTB residents, we are striving to ensure their safe return," said Wildan, adding his agency also had not yet received reports from families of the victims.

Meanwhile, Mataram-chapter Indonesian Migrant Workers Placement, Protection and Monitoring Agency (BP3TKI) head Mucharom Ashadi said his agency had coordinated with the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh to resolve the case.

"It has deployed a task force to check the accuracy of the information and investigate it. So, we are now waiting for the result of its works."

Mucharom said the BP3TKI Mataram did not have any data on the 300 Indonesians locked up in Riyadh, especially those who hailed from NTB. "We have often told people to not be easily lured by recruiters who promise departures to Middle East through illegal means," he said. (mrc/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/08/govts-bolder-steps-expected-as-hundreds-of-workers-still-locked-up.html

Freedom of speech & expression

Indonesian Facebooker acquitted of defamation charges

Jakarta Post - April 12, 2017

Andi Hajramurni, Jakarta – The Makassar District Court in South Sulawesi cleared on Tuesday a woman of defamation charges for comments she made in a Facebook post.

Yusniar, a resident of Makassar, had earlier been detained and charged with defamation under the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law for writing a comment that offended a local councilor.

The acquittal of the 27-yearold housewife came as surprise amid the frequent guilty verdicts that have been handed down in cases involving the ITE Law. "The charges are not proven. Therefore, she is now fully at liberty to go," said presiding judge Kasianus while reading the verdict.

The case embroiled Yusniar after Sudirman Sijaya, a councilor on the Jeneponto legislative council in South Sulawesi, who is also apparently a lawyer, filed a report against her over remarks she made on her Facebook page.

She wrote on March 14, in Makassarese, "Thank God. The problem is finally over. Stupid [lawmaker], stupid lawyer. [You] want to help a guilty person, [but it is] clearly my parents' land [that you] came to and disturbed."

The post came a day after her parents' house on Jl. Sultan Alauddin was attacked by 100 people, allegedly including Sudirman. Yusniar did not mention any names in her post.

Yusniar was charged with violating the ITE Law, which carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison. She had earlier been detained but was later released on bail during the trial.

Kasianus said Yusniar was not proven to have slandered Sudirman in her Facebook post since she did not mention any names or refer in any way directly to him.

"The defendant mentioned 'a lawmaker,' while Sudirman Sijaya is not a member of the House of Representatives. He is a Jeneponto councilor," he said.

Yusniar and her lawyer team received the verdict with delight. Abdul Aziz Dumpa, one of her lawyers, said he appreciated the panel of judges' decision. "This is a true form of justice for the defendant and other people who are threatened with the ITE Law," he said.

First enacted in 2008, the ITE Law has become a scourge of the country's internet users. According to data from the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network, 200 people have been prosecuted using the draconian law since it was first implemented.

The number of people criminalized has increased in recent years, reaching 62 people in 2015, compared to just two in 2008, the data showed. Roughly 90 percent of the cases were defamation cases.

The most infamous case was housewife Prita Mulyasari, who was imprisoned for complaining about OMNI International Hospital in 2009 in a private email that went viral.

The most recent case involved a man in Medan, North Sumatra, who was sentenced to 14 months in prison in August for being tagged in a story on Facebook.

Upon hearing her acquittal, Yusniar immediately broke down and expressed her gratitude by falling to her knees and kissing the ground. "Thanks to all of you who have supported me," she said while wiping away her tears.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/12/indonesian-facebooker-acquitted-of-defamation-charges.html

Freedom of information & the press

Balance between rights and duties should protect journalists from

Jakarta Globe - April 14, 2017

Jakarta – Chief Security Minister Wiranto said it is important to maintain a balance between rights and duties to avoid violence against journalists on duty.

Wiranto spoke during a forum titled "Violence Against Journalists on Duty" at Persada Executive Club on Wednesday (12/04), which also saw in attendance Air Force (TNI AU) spokesman Air Commodore Jemi Trisonjaya, head of Indonesian Press Council Yosep Adi Prasetyo, head of Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) Margiono, as well as representatives of government institutions and media.

"There needs to be a balance between rights and duties. If they are consistently implemented, violence against journalists will not occur," Wiranto said.

According to the 1999 Press Law, authorities are not allowed to prohibit a journalist from news coverage. Reporters carrying out their duties are most often subject to violence by security officials who at the spot try to prevent the reporting.

Wiranto said journalists have the right to investigate and report, however, their duty is to support the nation. He added that there was no intention from the authorities to exercise violence, but more discussions should take place regarding the issue.

Indonesian Journalist Alliance (AJI) data show that violence against journalists in 2016 was worse than in the previous year, making Indonesia rank 130 out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index report, below Timor Leste, Taiwan and India.

"Violence is not what we desire. There were 78 incidents in 2016 and 42 incidents in 2015. Most of the incidents occurred spontaneously, when the authorities felt threatened," Wiranto said.

Violence, however, does not only come from the hands of the police. On Wednesday morning, a cameraman from a local TV station was punched while reporting a flood in Kemang, South Jakarta. The perpetrator, know by initials K.G.U., and his two friends were opening the hood of their Morris Mini Cooper, which broke while trying to cross the water.

Unhappy with the camera pointing at them, 25-year-old K.G.U. approached the reporter and attacked him. He was caught by the police a few hours later.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/balance-rights-duties-protect-journalists-violence-wiranto/

Political parties & elections

Golkar chairman calls members to start campaigning for Jokowi's 2019

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Jakarta – Golkar chairman Setya Novanto has asked all party members to start putting up banners announcing President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo" as Golkar's presidential candidate for the 2019 election.

Setya told a regional party meeting in Surabaya, East Java, on Sunday to set up Jokowi's pictures in areas deemed strategic to introduce Jokowi's 2019 presidential bid nominated by Golkar.

"I ask all Golkar cadres to put up banners of Pak Jokowi's pictures. You can do it, can't you?" Setya said before the party's members as quoted by Tribunnews.com, adding that Golkar's decision to endorse Jokowi's second term was unchangeable.

To defend such a decision, Setya, who is also the speaker of the House of Representatives, cited an internal survey conducted by Golkar that found Jokowi's popularity hit 50.8 percent, leaving behind his potential strongest contender, Prabowo Subianto, with 20.2 percent.

The survey included Prabowo as his Gerindra Party is said to nominate him again to run in the 2019 presidential race. Setya said that the internal study also placed Jokowi's popularity at top rank with 98 percent.

Setya further asked Golkar members to set up a proper strategy to win the upcoming regional elections as well as the presidential election, expecting each village and city in East Java, as well as elsewhere, to recorded 100 new party cadres.

Setya, who is under fire of his alleged involvement in a mega graft scandal of e-ID procurement, needs protection from President Jokowi from the internal party's rift. (msa/dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/golkar-chairman-calls-members-to-start-campaigning-for-jokowis-2019-presidential-ticket.html

Blasphemy & the Jakarta elections

Central Java governor takes part in Ahok campaign

Jakarta Post - April 14, 2017

Jakarta – Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo has campaigned on behalf of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and his running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat at the Otista Sports Hall in Jatinegara, East Jakarta.

Speaking in front of the Purworejo Family Society (Pakuwojo), a group that had supported Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and Sylviana Murni in the first round of the election, Ganjar praised the incumbent's Jakarta Smart Card (KJP) and Jakarta Health Card (KJS) programs.

"Do your children have the KJP and the KJS? Do you want to keep those benefits? Therefore, vote for the incumbent, so you can still enjoy what you've received," Ganjar said on Thursday, as quoted by tribunnews.com.

Ganjar said that as a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which endorsed Ahok, he felt obliged to support the incumbent. "When I ran as governor, I too was helped like this. Now, I also want to help," he said.

Should he participate in the 2018 regional election, the party would also support his campaign, because that was how the party implemented the principle of gotong royong [mutual cooperation], he said.

Ahead of the runoff slated for April 19, PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri has instructed her party members, including several regional leaders, to participate in campaign activities in Jakarta. (cal/dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/14/central-java-governor-takes-part-in-ahok-campaign.html

Final election debate benefits Ahok-Djarot: Analyst

Jakarta Post - April 14, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta gubernatorial election's final debate organized by the Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPU Jakarta) last Wednesday may influence undecided and swing voters ahead of the second round of the election scheduled for April 19.

Sirojudun Abbas, a political researcher of Jakarta-based pollster Saiful Murjani Research and Consulting (SMRC), said the two-hour debate had not met the public's high expectations on the so-called 'last fight' because it had lacked fiery exchanges of arguments between two candidate pairs, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama – Djarot Saiful Hidayat and Anies Baswedan – Sandiaga Uno.

Still, the debate had managed to give Jakarta residents a better understanding of the vision and mission the two candidate pairs. "In this last debate, each candidate really wanted to show which type of policy innovation they want to offer Jakarta residents," Sirojudan said.

During the debate, Ahok tried to clarify the benefits of the land reclamation program for fishermen, local communities and businessmen, which he had not explained clearly in the previous debate.

"At several opportunities, he also pointed out Anies' inconsistency on reclamation issues," Sirojudan said. "This could be a weak point for Anies-Sandi."

According to SMRC, gubernatorial debates can be quite effective for each in gaining support particularly from undecided and swing voters.

In the most recent survey commissioned by SMRC after a debate held on March 27 by Metro TV, Anies-Sandi secured 47.9 percent of would-be-votes, down 2.8 percentage points from the previous survey. Meanwhile, Ahok-Djarot increased their backing by 3.2 percentage points to 46.9 percent.

The same effect would likely happen after the final debate last Wednesday, Sirojudan said. (hol/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/14/final-election-debate-benefits-ahok-djarot-analyst.html

Some 64,000 personnel to safeguard April 19 Jakarta runoff

Jakarta Post - April 13, 2017

Jakarta – As many as 64,726 personnel from the Jakarta Military Command, the Jakarta Police and the Jakarta Public Order Agency will be deployed to secure the second round of the gubernatorial election on April 19.

The number was confirmed by Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Mochamad Iriawan during a press conference at the Jakarta Military Command in East Jakarta on Thursday.

"The Jakarta Police themselves will deploy 34,627 officers to guard 13,034 polling stations," said Iriawan.

Jakarta Military Commander Maj. Gen. Jaswandi, who was also present at the conference, said some 15,000 Army personnel would help secure the election.

"Each polling station will be guarded by a police officer and an Army officer," said Jaswandi, adding that personnel would also be stationed at strategic places around the capital. (dea)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/13/some-64000-personnel-to-safeguard-april-19-jakarta-runoff.html

Religious sentiment drives Anies to top place in survey

Jakarta Post - April 12, 2017

Indra Budiari, Jakarta – A recent survey held by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) puts Anies Baswedan in a strong position to win the Jakarta gubernatorial election runoff, with a sizable portion of the respondents saying they would vote for Anies because he is a Muslim.

The survey found that Anies garnered 47.9 percent votes while incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian and a Chinese-Indonesian, stood at 46.9 percent. The survey noted that 5.2 percent of voters remain undecided.

"However, the gap between them is too narrow, so we cannot said that Anies is leading," SMRC researcher Deni Irfani said on Wednesday.

According to the survey, 32.4 percent of Anies' voter base cite "similar religion" as the reason they would vote for him.

Meanwhile, "proven track record" is considered the strongest factor boosting Ahok chances of reelection, with 41 percent of his voters mentioning this as the main reason they expected the incumbent governor to retain his position.

The result, however, shows a positive trend for Ahok's camp. "The largest margin or gap was recorded in December. At that time, Ahok stood at 31.7 percent and Anies stood at 43.9 percent," Deni said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/12/religious-sentiment-drives-anies-to-top-place-in-survey.html

Viral provocative video against 'infidel leader' to be investigated

Jakarta Post - April 12, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – The Jakarta Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) is set to investigate a one-minute video of a group of people in Betawi attire who pledged, by raising machetes in the air, to only vote for Muslim leaders.

The declaration, the recording of which went viral, was allegedly made by members of the South Grogol Resident Forum. The recording showed dozens of people pledging that they would not vote for an infidel leader, referring to incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama who is a Christian and running for reelection, unless they were ready for azab [God's punishment]. Bawaslu Jakarta commissioner Achmad Fachrudin said the agency had received a public report regarding the video on April 11.

"The report has been followed up by the integrated law enforcement center [Sentra Gakkumdu] and we've scheduled seven parties to come and clarify this thing," Achmad told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

He said the parties comprised witnesses and election supervisors in that area. The agency was examining the recording and could not as yet conclude whether any violations had been involved, Achmad said.

Based on the Regional Elections Law, it is illegal to insult Pancasila state ideology, people's ethnicity, race or religion and spread provocative material during election campaigns.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/12/viral-provocative-video-against-infidel-leader-to-be-investigated.html

No room for sharia in Jakarta: Observers

Jakarta Globe - April 12, 2017

Jakarta – Political observers have slammed the idea of implementing Islamic law, or sharia, in the capital city, which has been promoted by gubernatorial candidate Anies Baswedan and his running mate Sandiaga Uno.

Jeiry Sumampouw of NGO watchdog the Indonesian Voters' Committee (Tepi) said the use of the sensitive issue is not going to help the pair in Jakarta's gubernatorial election.

"The issue is not a leverage [for Anies]. It's insignificant. It can only have a negative impact for him," Jeiry said in a discussion in Jakarta on Tuesday (11/04).

He admitted there are voters in favor of sharia, but not many. The majority of Jakarta residents would not accept Islamic law and may instead turn against Anies and Sandiaga. "It could be seen in several recent surveys, where the candidate pair No. 3 saw a significant decline in electability," Jeiry said.

Jakarta, according to Jeiry, is very pluralistic and has residents of diverse origins and religious backgrounds. This would change if sharia were imposed. The implementation of Islamic law would also contravene the Pancasila state ideology and the 1945 Constitution.

Another researcher, Arif Susanto of the State Affairs and Islamic Studies Center (PSIK), said the idea of having sharia in Jakarta rests on inconsistent logic, by which residents of the religiously diverse city would be forced to follow the teachings of one religion.

Other issues, he added, such dealing with poverty, traffic congestion and corruption, are of much higher importance. "This is the inconsistency; they do not fight for the important issues, but produce unnecessary ideas," Arif said.

Anies and Sandiaga have promised the implementation of Islamic law, if they win the election. They see sharia as perfectly fit for the capital city.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/no-room-sharia-jakarta-observers/

Jakarta's Christian governor, Muslim rival in tight election race –

Reuters - April 12, 2017

The Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, and his Muslim opponent are neck and neck in the race to lead Indonesia's capital, an opinion poll showed on Wednesday, a week ahead of the hard fought vote.

The election campaign – which has been among the most divisive in the city's history – has been marred by religious and ethnic tension over the blasphemy trial of the incumbent Purnama, who is accused of insulting Islam.

Purnama was on 46.9 percent of the sample vote, trailing his rival Anies Baswedan by 1 percentage point in one of the first opinion polls published since the two candidates made it through a first round election in mid-February. A candidate needs a simple majority to win.

Pollster Saiful Mujani Research Center (SMRC) said the survey of 800 respondents showed Baswedan enjoyed support primarily because of his Islamic faith, while Purnama was popular due to his record in office.

Nearly 90 percent of Indonesia's 250 million population is Muslim, but the country recognizes six religions and is home to sizeable communities of Christians, Hindus and those adhering to traditional beliefs. The state ideology, Pancasila, enshrines religious diversity in an officially secular system.

Purnama, who is Jakarta's first ethnic Chinese and Christian governor, offended Muslim groups when he made comments last year about his opponents' use of the Islamic holy book, the Koran, in political campaigning.

Since then, Muslims, led by hardline groups, have held mass rallies to call for Purnama to be sacked, and to urge voters not to elect a non-Muslim. The rallies have raised concerns about growing religious intolerance in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation.

Purnama has apologised for his comments and denied any wrongdoing. He faces up to four years in prison if found guilty.

Judges hearing the case decided this week to adjourn the trial until after voting day, after police and prosecutors asked for a delay because of security concerns.

[Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Ed Davies and Clarence Fernandez.]

Source: http://in.reuters.com/article/indonesia-election-poll-idINKBN17E0Y5?rpc=401&

Indonesian court adjourns blasphemy trial of Jakarta's Governor Ahok

ABC Radio Australia - April 11, 2017

Samantha Hawley, Indonesia – An Indonesian court has adjourned the high-profile blasphemy trial of the city's Christian Governor until after a bitterly fought election next week.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok as he is commonly known, faces up to five years in prison if found guilty of insulting Islam over references he made to the Koran during a campaign speech.

Jakarta's police chief had urged the North Jakarta District Court to delay hearing the prosecutors' sentencing request this morning, arguing it could lead to unrest similar to that seen on the streets of Jakarta last year.

Radical Islamic groups, including the Islamic Defenders Front, argue Muslims should not vote for a non-Muslim leaders and they want Ahok jailed for blasphemy. Ahok's supporters said the charges against the ethnic Chinese Governor are politically motivated.

Ahok will come up against a Muslim candidate and former education minister, Annies Baswedan, in the second round of the election next Wednesday.

The third candidate, Agus Yudhoyono, the son of the former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was knocked out in the first round of the election in February.

After the court ruling, Ahok's opponents expressed their disappointment. "We ask the panel of judges to really pay attention to the aspirations of the people who want justice," Edri Kasman, one of the witnesses in the case against Ahok, said. "We don't agree with this and we are very disappointed."

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2017-04-11/indonesian-court-adjourns-blasphemy-trial-of-jakartas-governor-ahok/1664272

Tensions high in Jakarta before final round of governor election

ABC News - April 11, 2017

Samantha Hawley, Indonesia – The highlands of west Java provide a calmness that can't be found in the Indonesian capital.

Puncak is a haven away from the bustling, traffic-ridden city, renowned as a weekend sanctuary for Jakartans about 90 kilometres south of the capital.

It's also home to the leader of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), firebrand cleric Habib Rizieq, who's been leading a divisive campaign against the capital's Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as "Ahok".

For the first time a foreign television crew managed to enter the conservative cleric's compound within the hills of Puncak. Heavily fortified and guarded, 7.30 was given access to the grounds as the program sought an interview with the FPI founder.

Unexpectedly the guards at the first checkpoint allowed the ABC crew to drive deep into the forest where the compound sits. A winding, muddy road led to an Islamic boarding school.

From the surrounding buildings Mr Rizieq runs his campaign against Ahok, a campaign that led to mass protests on the streets of Jakarta last year. His ultimate aim is for Sharia law to be implemented across Indonesia.

Once inside the confines of the FPI base, the presence of 7.30 was no longer welcome.

"Go away from here, do you want your camera broken?" a relative of Mr Rizieq and the owner of the land threatened. "If you leave from here in good behaviour, in gods will you'll be saved."

We left without our interview, the so-called guards stopping us and searching our equipment, and ordering us to delete our vision. They think we did.

Campaign against Ahok

Mr Rizieq's FPI and other radical Islamic groups want Ahok jailed on blasphemy charges for which he is currently being tried in the North Jakarta District Court. He faces up to five years in prison if found guilty.

The trial has been adjourned until after next Wednesday's election. Prosecutors had been scheduled to outline their sentencing demand but Jakarta's police chief warned it could lead to further unrest on the streets and asked for a delay.

Ahok is from a double minority – being Christian and ethnic Chinese. The conservative Islamic groups say the Koran prohibits Muslims from voting for a Christian leader.

Humphrey Djemat is Ahok's chief defender. During Ahok's trial the lawyer alleged that 12 witnesses who reported his client to police for comments he made about the Koran can be linked to Mr Rizieq's FPI.

He told 7.30 that on one particular day they even wore the exact same type of shoes to court. "Which means someone entertained them before they went to court," Mr Djemat said.

Mr Djemat alleges that while FPI operates in the field, someone else has been funding the campaign against Ahok from behind the scenes. "To eliminate Ahok from contesting in the election for Jakarta," he said.

The former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has repeatedly denied allegations he was funding the antagonists.

In February his son, Agus Yudhoyono, failed in his bid to become governor, receiving just 17 per cent of the vote in the first round of the gubernatorial election.

But there was evidence before the court that on October 7 last year SBY telephoned Jakarta's peak clerical body, the Ulema Council or MUI. Ahok's lawyers allege that during this phone call SBY ordered the MUI to issue a fatwa supporting the charge of blasphemy against Ahok.

"We are not interested regarding about the involvement of SBY, what we are focusing on is about his fatwa. Is it originally from MUI or from another party, which has a state in a political agenda?" Mr Djemat said.

'Maybe there will be a revolution'

With Agus Yudhoyono out of the race, Ahok will come up against Muslim Anies Baswedan in the second and final round of voting next week.

Mr Baswedan and his running mate Sandiaga Uno, who is one of Indonesia's richest men, surged in the polls after a meeting with Mr Riziek. But they deny seeking the radical Islamic vote. "We accepted all invitations and in that particular instance we got invitations from leaders of FPI and it created so much attention that it created a notion that we are starting to lean to the right," Mr Uno told the ABC. "As potential leaders of 10 million people we have to really unite the city."

Maman Suryadi, who leads an FPI protest outside the court each time it sits for the Ahok trial, said if the incumbent governor wins the election and is not jailed, the mass protests seen last year will begin again. "Maybe there will be a revolution, as simple as that," he said.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-11/tensions-high-in-jakarta-before-governor-election-ahok/8435282

Prosecutors postpone reading of sentence demand against Ahok

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Prosecutors postponed the reading of the sentence demand against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama until April 20, a day after the runoff, saying they have not yet finished typing the demand.

"We've tried our best but one week is not enough for us to make the demand. We apologize that we can't read out the sentence demand today," prosecutor Ali Mukartono said during a hearing Tuesday.

The prosecutors were scheduled to read their sentence demand against Ahok on April 11, while the defendant was scheduled to read out his defense statement on April 17. The presiding judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarto then offered the prosecutors to read their demand on April 17.

Ali responded to the judges' suggestion by asking them to consider the Jakarta Police chief's letter to the North Jakarta district court dated April 4 that suggested that the court postpone the hearing until the Jakarta gubernatorial election on April 19 due to security reasons. Ali added that the prosecutors needed another two weeks to make the sentence demand.

Judges said that the proposed postponement would disturb the hearing schedule as well as the judges' schedule. It would also reduce the time for the lawyers to make their defense.

One of Ahok's lawyers said that the postponement would disadvantage the defendant. He then suggested that the prosecutors read out their sentence demands on April 20 so the lawyers could deliver their defenses on April 25.

The judge adjourned the hearing until April 20.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/11/prosecutors-postpone-reading-of-sentence-demand-against-ahok.html

Emotions high as Jakarta Governor Ahok's blasphemy trial postponed

Sydney Morning Herald - April 11, 2017

Jewel Topsfield, Jakarta – A court hearing the blasphemy trial of Jakarta's Christian governor has been accused of succumbing to political interference after it agreed to delay proceedings until one day after the gubernatorial election.

Jakarta's police chief wrote to the North Jakarta District Court last week requesting the trial be postponed "considering the increasing vulnerability of the security situation in Jakarta".

Tensions have continued to ratchet up ahead of the April 19 election, when Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is ethnically Chinese and Christian, will face off against his Muslim rival, Anies Baswedan.

Both had failed to win an outright majority in an earlier election in February, which knocked out Agus Yudhoyono, the son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The run-off election campaign has once again been mired in ugly sectarianism, amid calls for Ahok to be prosecuted for allegedly insulting Islam.

His opponents have also accused Ahok's ticket of playing the race card in an emotive – and at times dark – campaign video that calls on Jakartans to put aside religion and ethnicity and embrace the nation's motto of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (unity in diversity).

Even the X-Men have been dragged into the controversy surrounding the embattled Jakarta governor, with Marvel Comics disciplining an Indonesian artist who included hidden references to the Ahok blasphemy controversy in the first issue of the latest X-Men Gold series.

Prosecutor Ali Mukartono initially claimed on Tuesday the sentence demand for Ahok's alleged blasphemy was "not ready".

Ahok is facing up to five years' jail for telling voters they had been deceived by religious leaders who used the Koranic scripture al-Maida to argue a non-Muslim should not be elected governor of Jakarta.

But when the presiding judge proposed to move the sentence request to April 17 – two days before the election – Mr Ali asked him to consider the letter from the Jakarta police chief. The court eventually agreed to adjourn until April 20.

Pedri Kasman, an official from the Islamic group Muhammadiyah who reported the blasphemy allegations to the police, said he was "very disappointed" by the postponement.

"I think there is a political factor behind it," he said. "We deeply regret this decision because it hurts people's feeling of justice. I think it's only natural that after this people will assume that this is influenced by other elements outside the law."

Meanwhile Gerindra, the political party backing Anies, has reported Ahok's latest campaign video – which has gone viral on social media – to the police. Gerindra Deputy Chairman Ferry Juliantono said it depicted Muslims as intolerant and radical and Chinese Indonesians as heros.

The video features a riot with men wearing peci (Muslim hats) carrying a sign that says "Ganyang Cina" (crush the Chinese), as well as Indonesia's first president Sukarno, who promoted the philosophy of unity in diversity, and Indonesians cheering the success of Chinese Indonesian badminton players.

"Whoever you are, whatever religion you follow, whatever your background, all of you are fellow countrymen," the narrator says.

Australian National University lecturer Ross Tapsell, who is an expert on social media in Indonesia, said the video appealed to voters' nationalism and what it means to be Indonesian.

"I think the recent elections around the world have shown that emotions play a big part in voting rather than policy details," Dr Tapsell said. "I think it's overdue – it's put [unity in diversity] at the heart of campaign materials."

He said while the video may have riled Islamic hardliners and would not necessarily convince people who had voted for Agus in the first round to vote for Ahok in the second, it could mobilise Ahok supporters to come out and vote. "In my opinion it's the most talked about campaign video seen in the election so far."

The video was later taken down from Ahok's social media accounts. Campaign official Raja Juli Antoni denied this was due to an outcry over the depiction of Muslims. "We took it down to fit Election Commission specifications of 30 seconds," he said. A shorter version would later be uploaded.

Meanwhile, Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf said "my career is over now" after Marvel issued a statement saying references to street protests against Ahok and the Koranic scripture that landed him in so much hot water had been inserted into X-Men Gold without its knowledge.

"These implied references... are in direct opposition of the inclusiveness of Marvel Comics and what the X-Men have stood for since their creation," Marvel said in a statement.

Ardian wrote in a public Facebook posting that his reference reflected his love for the Holy Koran. "It's the consequence what I did, and I take it. Please no more mockery, debate, no more hate. My apologies for all the noise. Good bye, May God bless you all. I love all of you." – with Karuni Rompies

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/emotions-high-as-jakarta-governor-ahoks-blasphemy-trial-postponed-20170411-gvikxs.html

Man who saw Ahok end up in court to face trial

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta Police handed over on Monday a dossier on Buni Yani, who uploaded a video on his Facebook page of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama making a speech that some deemed blasphemous, to the Depok Prosecutor's Office in West Java.

Buni Yani has been charged under Article 28 of the 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions Law on inciting religious and ethnic hatred, for which he could face a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

Buni Yani previously filed a pretrial motion to challenge his suspect status, but the court rejected it. "Buni will continue to cooperate with the police and the prosecutor's office," said his defense lawyer, Aldwin Rahadian, who accompanied the suspect to the Jakarta Police.

Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said Buni Yani would be handed over to the prosecutor's office. "We took [Buni Yani] to the police hospital for a health check and he is ready to proceed with the Depok Prosecutor's Office," said Argo. (dea/dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/man-who-saw-ahok-end-up-in-court-to-face-trial.html

Prabowo gathers prominent figures ahead of Jakarta election

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Gerindra Party chief patron Prabowo Subianto gathered a number of party elites and several political figures at his private residence in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, on Monday evening to talk about the Jakarta election, among other things.

As of 7:30 p.m., Gerindra secretary-general Ahmad Muzani said that all of them were still having dinner while talking about several national issues.

"They're talking about the development of the nation, with some notes about concerns [of current national situations]," said Muzani, who left the dinner to meet reporters.

The Jakarta election, he said, would also be one of the topics discussed in the closed meeting. "[They] will also talk about the Jakarta election. But issues related to national unity are more important," he added.

He mentioned that several prominent figures at the dinner table with Prabowo included National Mandate Party (PAN) senior politician Amien Rais, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) chairman Sohibul Iman, former coordinating economic minister Kwik Kian Gie and Betawi figure Ridwan Saidi.

Former Muhammadiyah leader Din Syamsuddin and Abraham "Lulung" Lunggana, who recently was dismissed by the United Development Party (PPP), were also spotted entering Prabowo's house.

Muzani said that all invitees were those outside the government. He also said there were several businessmen.

"This [gathering] is important as it allows Prabowo to get some advice and input. Additionally, Prabowo and these figures are close friends and it's been a long time since he met with them," Muzani said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/prabowo-gathers-prominent-figures-ahead-of-jakarta-election.html

Latest Ahok-Djarot campaign ads draw criticism

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Indra Budiari, Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and his running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat have found themselves facing criticism after their recently released campaign advertising was accused of raising race issues.

A hashtag, #KampanyeAhokJahat, was used in Twitter shortly after a two-minute video ad went viral on Sunday. The video was uploaded by Ahok onto his Twitter account followed with a caption: #beragamItuBasukiDjarot (Basuki and Djarot are diverse).

In the video that allegedly depicts a 1998 riot, a group of seemingly angry men pounce on a car, trapping the driver and her daughter inside. The next scene showed a group of men in Muslim attire carrying a sign reading "Ganyang Cina" (crush Chinese), while the city is in riot.

Afterwards a badminton player of Chinese descent was shown on the screen while Djarot's voice was heard in the background urging Jakartan residents to vote, no matter their race, ethnicity, or religion (SARA).

One Jakartan who objected to the video was Gerindra lawmaker Rachel Maryam whose party supports Ahok's challenger, Anies Baswedan. "Its the most racist campaign ad using the SARA issue and playing victim. Provocative," she said via her twitter account.

A group of lawyers calling themselves Advokat Cinta Tanah Air is also planning to file a report against the video to the Election Supervisory Commission on Monday, claiming that it had hurt Islam. (idb/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/latest-ahok-djarot-campaign-ads-draw-criticism.html

AGO agrees with suggestion to postpone Ahok's trial until runoff

Jakarta Post - April 8, 2017

Jakarta – Attorney General HM Prasetyo said on Friday he agreed with the Jakarta Police's suggestion to the North Jakarta District Court to postpone the hearing of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's blasphemy trial until after the election runoff.

"I can accept and justify what has been expected and suggested by the police, which aims to reschedule the hearing as the runoff draws closer," Prasetyo said on Friday as quoted by kompas.com.

According to the initial schedule, prosecutors are expected to deliver a sentence to Ahok on April 11. The defendant is scheduled to read out his defense statement on April 17, two days before the runoff.

The police through their letter to the court suggested the postponement given security concerns in the capital ahead of the runoff.

The police and military personnel will have to begin focusing their attention on security during the election, Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. M. Iriawan said.

In addition to requesting that the court postpone Ahok's hearing, Iriawan also informed the court that the police would postpone their interrogation of Ahok's gubernatorial rivals, Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno, who had also been reported to the police for several alleged violations.

Prasetyo said the suggestion by the police to postpone the trial was reasonable. "All of the suggestions can be understood because we don't want something bad to happen," he said. (cal/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/08/ago-agrees-with-suggestion-to-postpone-ahoks-trial-until-runoff.html

Elections commission head violated ethics: DKPP

Jakarta Post - April 8, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – The elections ethics council reprimanded Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPU Jakarta) head Sumarno on Friday, saying that he had failed to treat both Jakarta gubernatorial candidates equally.

The Election Organization Ethics Council (DKPP) decided that Sumarno had violated the code of ethics in response to a complaint from incumbent candidate Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's camp.

Ahok's team claimed that the KPU Jakarta head had acted in favor of Ahok's rival, Anies Baswedan, during the March 4 announcement of the runoff election at the Borobudur Hotel in Central Jakarta.

As the event started late, Ahok and his running mate, Djarot Saiful Hidayat walked out from the venue after telling the press that the commission was acting unprofessionally.

A volunteer group backing Ahok reported Sumarno to the DKPP on March 16 for a series of alleged incidents indicating that he favored the governor's rival.

Sumarno accepted the DKPP's decision, saying that he hoped communication between the commission and the campaign teams could be improved in the future.

"From the Borobudur case, the head of DKPP concluded that our communication [with the campaign teams] was not good. Therefore, he suggested that we provide rooms inside our office for both campaign teams," Sumarno said after handing over room keys to the representatives of both Ahok's and Anies' campaign teams.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/08/elections-commission-head-violated-ethics-dkpp.html

Environment & natural disasters

Indonesia calls EU's ruling on palm oil 'discriminatory'

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Jakarta – Jakarta has denounced the European Parliament's recent ruling on palm oil and deforestration that it considers to be damaging to the country's biofuel exports.

The Foreign Ministry said the European Parliament's Resolution on Palm Oil and Deforestation of Rainforests, which was passed in Strasbourg on April 4, was a discriminatory act as it contradicts the European Union's position of being a champion of open, free and fair trade.

"The European Parliament's resolution was based on inaccurate and unaccountable data on development related to palm oil and forestry management in palm oil producing countries, including Indonesia," the ministry said in a statement.

It argued that oil palm plantations did not make a significant impact on global deforestration, citing studies by the European Commission in 2013 that said from a total of 239 ha of land which underwent deforestation globally in a 20 year period, 58 million ha was for livestock grazing, 13 million ha for soy cultivation and 6 million ha for palm oil production, meaning palm oil only contributed to 2.5 percent of the total deforestation.

Indonesia is now the world's largest palm oil producer supplying more than 26 million tons of palm oil-based products to global markets annually. The EU has been one of the largest importers, taking up to 15 percent of Indonesian exports.

The palm oil industry has also been subject to criticism for its irresponsible business practices, having been embroiled in land conflicts with residents and causing deforestation and haze. (rdi/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/indonesia-calls-eus-ruling-on-palm-oil-discriminatory.html

Health & education

Blackouts hamper exams for high school students

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Jakarta – More than 1 million high school students across the country began taking the national exams that kicked off on Monday with some schools reporting delays caused by poor infrastructure.

One of them was the Kelua State High School in Tabalong regency in South Kalimantan, which was forced to halt the examinations for about 15 minutes because the electricity went out. Several schools in the area were holding the computer-based tests on the first day.

"We used the school's power generator to reconnect to the server but it took time. Everything went back to normal after 15 minutes when the electricity came back on," Kelua State High School principal Wagimin said as quoted by Antara news agency.

Kelua was one of the 9,652 schools that arranged the computer-based test on Monday. According to the Education and Culture Ministry, 1.1 million students sat for the test. Meanwhile, 667,741 students from 10,905 schools participated in paper-based examinations on the same day.

The ministry's head of education assessment center, Nizam, expressed confidence that this year's national exam would run smoothly without fraud, unlike in previous years. "But we must remain alert. The minister has threatened to severely punish teachers who are involved in any fraud." (msa/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/blackouts-hamper-exams-for-high-school-students.html

Graft & corruption

SWAT-like force needed to guard KPK detectives: ICW

Jakarta Post - April 14, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) suggests that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) establish its own independent security unit tasked with protecting KPK investigators.

Such a force should be set up in anticipation of attacks on KPK investigators such as the recent acid attack on senior KPK investigator Novel Baswedan, ICW researcher Emerson Yuntho said.

Novel, who led the KPK's investigation into cases such as those surrounding the procurement of an e-ID system implicating dozens of politicians and government officials, suffered burns to his face after unidentified people sprayed acid on his face on Tuesday morning.

"Considering recent events, the KPK should indeed establish its own security unit, the guardian of the KPK," Emerson said in a statement as quoted by kompas.com on Friday.

The establishment of such a security unit would release the KPK from its dependency on security officials, including the National Police. Emerson took the example of SWAT units that complemented police agencies in the US. "They are specifically recruited and trained, and they could even be armed," Emerson said.

The team should also conduct silent operations and secure raids, as well as investigate acts of terror against the KPK. "The KPK should independently recruit the members of the team so they are loyal to the KPK, not other institutions," Emerson added. (afr/bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/14/swat-like-force-needed-to-guard-KPK-detectives-icw.html

Top Indonesian graft busters putting their lives on line

Jakarta Post - April 13, 2017

Safrin La Batu and Andi Hajramurni, Jakarta – The National Police have launched an extensive manhunt across the country to track down the drive-by assailants who threw acid into the face of prominent Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan early on Tuesday morning.

A special task force established by the Jakarta Police has questioned at least 14 witnesses as of Wednesday evening to shed some light into the attack that has been condemned by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo as "a brutal act."

Security arrangements have also been deployed to secure Novel's place of residence and the hospital where he is receiving treatment.

Following the attack, Jokowi ordered National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian to immediately arrest the assailants. National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Awi Setiyono said Novel's household assistant had told police investigators that a man visited Novel's house a week ago.

"The man, who was described as burly, asked the assistant if the house was selling gamis [long robes worn by Muslims] for men," Awi said. Adi said Novel's wife, Rina Emilda, only sold gamis for women in a shop opened inside the house.

Awi said, however, that investigators were still deciding whether or not the testimony was relevant. "We cannot disclose the identities of the witnesses. The investigators are gathering all the statements [from witnesses]. They will be able to sort out the important ones."

Novel, a lead investigator in the e-ID embezzlement case, was doused with acid by two unidentified men riding a motorcycle after he had performed morning prayers at a mosque nearby his house in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.

The attack comes as the Jakarta Corruption Court continues the trial into the embezzlement of state funds from the e-ID project. The case, which some estimate caused state losses amounting to Rp 2 trillion (US$150 million), has also dragged in senior politicians including Golkar Party chairman Setya Novanto.

Novel was also an important investigator in several other high-profile graft cases, including a bribery case implicating 39 legislators in the appointment of Bank Indonesia (BI) senior deputy governor Miranda Goeltom. He was also in charge of the investigation leading to the arrest of National Police traffic chief Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo.

Following the attack on Novel, anti-corruption activists have joined a nationwide campaign voicing support for the KPK and encouraging the anti-graft body not to be deterred by the incident.

Novel told the police he felt he was being followed for several days prior to the assault. Former KPK chairman Busyro Muqoddas said Novel had survived six attempts on his life during his time at the commission.

Aside from questioning several witnesses, the police have collected several pieces of evidence such as recordings from surveillance cameras, a cup that was allegedly used by the perpetrators to carry the acid and Novel's clothes during the incident.

Residue from the acid that burned up parts of Novel's face, neck and eyes has been taken to the police's forensics laboratory for testing. The police, however, said the test results were not available for publication.

On Wednesday, Novel was flown to Singapore for medical treatment for injuries to his eyes. Novel has reportedly suffered a loss of vision in his left eye.

KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo said KPK officials had consulted with doctors from the Jakarta Eye Center (JEC) in Menteng, Central Jakarta, and decided to transfer Novel to Singapore for better treatment. JEC president director Johan A. Hutauruk said Novel's eyesight had improved since the attack.

The decision to move Novel to Singapore was also based on a request from Novel's family, Johan said. "We contacted the doctors there so [Novel] could be treated immediately," he said.

In 2011, a female politician under electronic surveillance for suspected corruption was heard calling a shaman. She instructed the shaman to use black magic to hurt top officials at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). The black magic turned out to be useless as the woman was eventually convicted of corruption and sentenced to years behind bars.

The agency, formed in 2002 to fight graft in one of the world's most corrupt countries, has its share of occupational hazards. From witchcraft to death threats, law enforcement officials assigned to the frontline of the war against corruption have seen it all.

"Witchcraft and death threats are common," said former KPK acting chairman Busyro Muqoddas on Tuesday. "One example is when all staff members working on the same floor simultaneously suffered from an illness that could not be explained in October 2014," said Busyro, who, like most Indonesians, believes in supernatural forces.

The KPK headquarters in Kuningan, South Jakarta, is also littered with ritual offerings such as yellow rice, bones and amulets as part of presumed spiritual assaults.

But nothing has jolted the nerves of graft-busters as much as when two unidentified assailants on a motorbike threw acid into the face of ace KPK investigator Novel Baswedan on Tuesday, causing severe injury to his eyes.

Physical attacks against KPK officials are uncommon and the commission has recorded no fatalities or casualties since its inception. This probably explains the lack of security for KPK leaders and investigators, who are only equipped with a handgun for everyday protection while out of the office.

What often undermines the commission is the threat of prosecution by the National Police for petty crimes. A recent example of this occurred in early 2015 and the kerfuffle forced then KPK chairman Abraham Samad and his deputy Bambang Widjojanto to resign.

The attack against Novel, who has already suffered countless death threats and acts of terror, has forced the KPK to review its security measures to protect its staff amid an attempt to ramp up the pursuit of major corruption cases involving many of the country's most influential politicians and business people.

"We will review our security procedures by adding more personnel to provide security to our staff members," KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo said.

The National Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) have been quick to react by offering help to better protect the safety of KPK investigators. "I have talked to the KPK chairman. The police are always ready to provide maximum protection," said National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian.

However, he said not all KPK investigators would want to have security personnel nearby because some of them were involved in undercover operations. The police, he said, had deployed personnel to permanently protect Novel and his family.

TNI chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo also said the military was on standby if the KPK needed protection, particularly at a time when the agency was dealing with big cases.

The KPK is currently handling corruption surrounding the e-ID project, which analysts believe to be the biggest case ever handled by the anti-graft body in terms of state losses and the parties involved.

About Rp 2.3 trillion (US$173 million) is believed to have been swindled from the country by influential politicians. Golkar Party chairman and House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto, a key ally of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, is implicated in the case.

Before Tuesday's act of barbarism, Novel was attacked in mid-2016 while investigating the e-ID case. He was riding a motorcycle heading to the headquarters of the KPK when suddenly he was hit by a car. He was thrown from his bike but only suffered minor injuries.

In 2015, another KPK investigator named Afif Julian Miftah received a bomb threat and his car was splashed with acid. At the time, he was handling several big cases, including money laundering allegations involving former Democratic Party politician Muhammad Nazaruddin.

"Terror is our cup of tea," former KPK chairman Antasari Azhar said in February, recalling some of the threats he had received when he led the commission from 2007 to 2009.

Antasari was forced to resign from the commission after he was convicted of murder, but his 18-year sentence was recently reduced by Jokowi due to indications of a miscarriage of justice. Antasari was released from prison in November last year.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/13/top-indonesian-graft-busters-putting-their-lives-on-line.html

Speaker travel ban may hamper House's legislative agenda

Jakarta Post - April 12, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – Following the imposition of a travel ban on House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto, the House is concerned that the prohibition will hamper its agenda given the pivotal role the Golkar Party chairman plays in the legislative body.

"We respect the ongoing legal process, and we are waiting for formal clarification, although at the end of the day we cannot intervene," deputy speaker Taufik Kurniawan of the National Mandate Party (PAN) said.

Taufik said he did not want to speculate on the implications of the travel ban, which is valid for six months.

Another deputy speaker, Agus Hermanto of the Democratic Party, said the House was waiting for the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to make an official announcement on the ban.

"We have yet to schedule a leadership meeting related to the travel ban. We should wait until the KPK provides us with an official letter," Agus said.

Immigration authorities issued Setya with the ban on traveling abroad at the request of the antigraft body, following the KPK's investigation into his alleged involvement in the e-ID graft case.

Setya reportedly played a significant role in the activities surrounding the plundering of funds allocated to the e-ID project. He is mentioned many times in the prosecution documents as having allegedly received hundreds of billions of rupiah in bribes embezzled from the Rp 5.9 trillion (US$440 million) project.

The KPK has questioned him several times as a witness but has yet to name him a suspect. (dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/12/speaker-travel-ban-may-hamper-houses-legislative-agenda.html

Indonesians call for action after brutal acid attack on anti-graft

Jakarta Post - April 12, 2017

Dandy Koswaraputra, Jakarta – Indonesians go hand-in-hand in massive supports for Novel Baswedan, a senior investigator with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), suffered burns to his face from an acid attack on Tuesday morning.

Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, the chairman of the youth wing of Indonesia's second biggest Islamic organization, Muhammadiyah, said he was shocked to hear the report about the physical attack against the senior antigraft investigator.

"I condemn this violence and expect authorities to impose a heavy sentence on the perpetrator," Dahnil said in a statement on Tuesday.

He further said: "I call on all Indonesians to pray for Novel Baswedan and accompany him in fighting against barbaric acts of terror committed by crooks who are displeased with ongoing corruption eradication efforts in Indonesia."

"I urge the police to immediately take action against and arrest the perpetrators of the acid attack against Novel Baswedan."

Novel is one of the top KPK investigators who has led some high-profile cases in the past, such as those related to the procurement of driver's license simulators, which implicated then National Police traffic division chief Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo.

Novel also took part in a KPK investigation that uncovered extensive corruption related to the implementation of an e-ID program. Several House of Representatives members and high-ranking government officials have been implicated in that case.

"I and all members of the Muhammadiyah youth wing will stand in the forefront in protecting and accompanying Novel Baswedan in his efforts to fight corrupt people who are a threat to this country," Dahnil said.

KPK workers' union also released a statement condemning the acid attack against its member. "We strongly condemn this barbaric act, which is a form of terror and an effort to weaken the KPK," the statement said.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has also strongly condemned the acid attack against the senior KPK investigator and ordered the National Police to bring the perpetrators of the terror act to justice.

"This is a brutal attack, and I strongly condemn it. I order the National Police Chief [Gen. Tito Karnavian] to find the perpetrators," Jokowi told reporters at the State Palace on Tuesday.

Jokowi said that Novel was a KPK investigator who had good integrity and thus he did not want to see similar incidents in the future. "Don't let people like [Novel] who have strong principles get hurt in inhumane ways. [The attack] must not take place again in the future," the President said.

Jokowi further said that other KPK investigators should not be discouraged by the attack, and he urged them to continue their jobs as usual to crackdown on corruption in the country. "Go ahead, continue working as usual, and the police will handle the attack," Jokowi said.

In response to President Jokowi's call, the Jakarta Police began investigating the case which is currently delving into the evidence and questioning witnesses of the incident.

"We are now searching for any surveillance cameras [that might have recorded the incident]," said Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono. Hydrochloric acid was splashed onto Novel's face, but he remained conscious after the incident.

As the assault took place within a guarded residential complex, the police would interview the security guards of the area, he said.

Novel graduated from the Police Academy in 1998 and promptly joined the Bengkulu Police Resort, where he rose up through the ranks until he was appointed as the head of the criminal investigation department (Kasatreskrim).

He served at the Bengkulu Police Resort for nine years before he was called to the National Police's Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) in 2005. Novel then joined the KPK in 2014 after 16 years of service as a police officer.

As an anti-graft investigator with a police background, Novel was firm in investigating officers who were above his rank in the police. He was widely praised for his investigation into the driving simulator graft case in 2012, which implicated Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo, a former national traffic police commander.

Novel was also credited with playing a significant part in the apprehension of Hambalang sports complex graft suspect Muhammad Nazaruddin after the latter attempted to avoid prosecution by hiding in Cartagena, Colombia.

Novel is currently a leading KPK investigator in the e-id case, which allegedly implicates several members of the House of Representatives and high-ranking government officials. (dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/12/indonesians-call-for-action-after-brutal-acid-attack-on-anti-graft-investigator.html

House speaker slapped with travel ban

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Haeril Halim, Jakarta – Indonesia's immigration authorities have banned House of Representatives Speaker and Golkar Party chairman Setya Novanto from traveling abroad following the Corruption Eradication Commission's (KPK) investigation into his alleged involvement in the e-ID graft case.

The Law and Human Rights Ministry's immigration directorate general confirmed on Tuesday the KPK had requested it to impose a travel ban on Setya.

"The Immigration Office received the travel ban request on Monday evening, [which led to the issuance of a travel ban], please ask the KPK investigators," said the office's spokesman, Agung Sampurno.

Setya said separately he had just received information about the travel ban and promised he would obey all the legal processes. "As a citizen who adheres to the law and hopes this matter can be solved soon, I'll be patient to do the best I can," Setya said.

Setya is currently under public spotlight for his alleged involvement in a graft scandal related to the e-ID procurement project.

Setya has been mentioned several times on the case's indictment documents. He allegedly received hundreds of billions from a project worth Rp 5.9 trillion (US$440 million) that had potential to cause more than Rp 2 trillion in state losses. The KPK has questioned him several times as a witness in the case. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/11/house-speaker-slapped-with-travel-ban.html

Jokowi, police take action over Novel's acid attack: ICW

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) is urging the government, particularly President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the National Police, to take firm action in responding to the attack against Novel Baswedan, a senior investigator with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

"KPK personnel have several times got attacked. The president and police must take it seriously," ICW coordinator Adnan Topan Husodo said Tuesday in a written statement.

Novel suffered burns to his face from an acid attack by an unidentified person on Tuesday morning.

The person reportedly hurled acid at Novel after the investigator joined a morning prayer in a mosque near his home in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta. He is now receiving intensive medical care in Mitra Keluarga Hospital's emergency room.

Novel is currently leading an investigation into an e-ID embezzlement case, a huge scandal that involves many prominent political figures.

In 2011, Novel participated in the investigation of corruption related to the procurement of driving simulators, which eventually put former police traffic division chief Djoko Susilo behind bars.

"All people must know who is responsible for this attack. The government should protect all people who are working to combat corruption," Adnan said.

ICW said that Novel had received several threats and had been attacked in recent years. In a recent incident, he was hit by a car. He was also previously accused of participating in an assault that led to the death of a convict in Bengkulu.

In a hearing of the e-ID case trial on March 30, Novel testified that graft suspect Miryam S. Haryani had told him that five House of Representatives members had threatened the Hanura Party politician so she would not report to the KPK that she and several other politicians had improperly received money from the Rp 5.9 trillion (US$440 million) project.

"This attack is likely related to the investigation of the e-ID graft case and this terrorism is a serious threat to the country's agenda of combatting corruption," Adnan said. (dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/11/jokowi-police-take-action-over-novels-acid-attack-icw.html

Acid attack against KPK investigator condemned

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2017

Jakarta – The National Police are being called to immediately investigate the acid attack against Novel Baswedan, a Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator.

Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, the chairman of the youth wing of Indonesia's second biggest Islamic organization, Muhammadiyah, said he was shocked to hear the report about the physical attack against the senior antigraft investigator.

"I condemn this violence and expect authorities to impose a heavy sentence on the perpetrator," Dahnil said in a statement on Tuesday.

He further said: "I call on all Indonesians to pray for Novel Baswedan and accompany him in fighting against barbaric acts of terror committed by crooks who are displeased with ongoing corruption eradication efforts in Indonesia."

"I urge the police to immediately take action against and arrest the perpetrators of the acid attack against Novel Baswedan."

As reported earlier, Novel suffered severe burns when he was hit in the face with acid on his way home after he performed morning prayers in a mosque near his house in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, on Tuesday. He is currently receiving medical treatment in Mitra Keluarga Hospital in Kelapa Gading.

Antara news reported that hydrochloric acid was splashed onto Novel's face, but he remained conscious after the incident.

Novel is one of the top KPK investigators who has led some high-profile cases in the past, such as those related to the procurement of driver's license simulators, which implicated then National Police traffic division chief Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo.

Novel also took part in a KPK investigation that uncovered extensive corruption related to the implementation of an e-ID program. Several House of Representatives members and high-ranking government officials have been implicated in that case.

"I and all members of the Muhammadiyah youth wing will stand in the forefront in protecting and accompanying Novel Baswedan in his efforts to fight corrupt people who are a threat to this country," Dahnil said. (mrc/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/11/acid-attack-against-KPK-investigator-condemned.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

Firecracker explodes near Catholic church in Ambarawa

Jakarta Post - April 13, 2017

Suherdjoko, Semarang, Central Java – A firecracker explosion occurred near Santo Yusuf Catholic Church in Ambarawa, Central Java, at around 2 p.m. local time on Thursday.

The explosion shocked local residents and church guards who were working together to prepare areas around the church for a scheduled Easter mass event at 5 p.m. The church guards immediately reported the explosion to Sabhara quick response unit personnel, who were on duty at the church during the incident.

The police moved quickly, arresting the alleged perpetrator, identified only as MF, 37, an unemployed man from Bergas Lor village in Bergas district, Semarang regency.

Semarang Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Vincentius Thirdy Hadmiarso confirmed the incident. "We have taken the suspect into custody and confiscated firecrackers and other items as evidence. We have also summoned his family and the community unit [RW] head to get information," he said.

According to local residents and RW head Supono, MF suffers from a mental illness, which Supono said began after his father died six years ago. "We will call a psychiatrist to confirm over whether or not he suffers a mental illness," said Thirdy.

Only one out of several home-made firecrackers prepared by the alleged perpetrator exploded. The incident caused neither injury nor damage as MF allegedly set the firecrackers on the side of a road outside the church, which is located on the Semarang-Yogyakarta highway.

"Sixteen pieces of evidence, including firecrackers and used supplement drink bottles, have been confiscated. Our personnel will further investigate the case," Central Java Police spokesperson Djarod Padakova said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/13/firecracker-explodes-near-catholic-church-in-ambarawa.html

Police warned of rise of 'not well-trained terrorists'

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2017

Jakarta – The decline of Jamaah Anshar Daulah (JAD), a home-grown radical group blamed for a spate of terrorist attacks in recent years, has been attributed to the arrests of top leaders and the loss of military-style training camps.

In the latest blow, the group known as a major supplier of fighters to the Islamic State (IS) movement apparently lost six of its fighters in a shoot-out with personnel of the National Police's Densus 88 counterterrorism squad in Tuban, East Java, on Sunday.

"The way they missed their targets in Sunday's exchange of fire showed they did not undergo any military training," National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said in a media briefing in Jakarta on Monday.

He showed the pictures of six locally made revolvers found on the dead attackers. "They [the JAD cells] are not strong enough, but they are still disturbing."

Police noted that terrorist groups lost their last training camp in Poso, Central Sulawesi, following the death of Santoso, the leader of the East Indonesia Mujahidin terrorist group in July last year.

The police's claims were confirmed by terrorism and radicalism researcher Rakyan Adibrata.

"It is true that the quality of an attack is in line with the length of military training a combatant has undergone. However, it does not mean that a terrorist attack must be carried out by a well-trained person," he said.

Rakyan said terrorist attacks that occurred over the last two years in various places across Indonesia showed that the perpetrators did not have skills typically obtained from military training.

He said he considered several terrorist attacks, such as a bomb attack on Jl. Thamrin in Jakarta in January 2016, the stabbing of a police officer in Tangerang in October 2016 and the recent use of a pressure cooker bomb in an attempted attack in Bandung, West Java, to be "reckless and amateurish".

"In the Thamrin incident, you could see from the way they reloaded and aimed their guns at their targets that they were not well trained. The attack was executed simply to show the world that they still existed," said Rakyan.

These could not compare to the attacks launched by the first generation of JAD who spent years in military training in Afghanistan, he said. "However, the number of terrorist attacks, which has been increasing in the last two years, indicates that radicalization is on the rise." (hol/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/11/police-warned-of-rise-of-not-well-trained-terrorists.html

Enhanced security measures needed to prevent terror attacks: Lawmaker

Jakarta Globe - April 10, 2017

Jakarta – Bambang Soesatyo, chairman of the House of Representatives' Commission III on legal affairs, on Sunday (09/04) urged National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian to increase security measures across the archipelago to prevent future terror attacks.

Bambang cited Saturday's drive-by shooting in Tuban, East Java, that targeted police officers, noting that similar attacks may occur in the future.

In retaliation the police shot dead six suspected members of the Islamic militant group Jamaah Anshurut Daulah (JAD) in Tuban. "These kinds of attacks will continue to occur so long as terrorist groups remain in the country," Bambang said.

The Golkar politician said police have to prevent terror attacks similar to those that recently occurred in Sweden and the UK. Most recently, militants affiliated with Islamic State attacked two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt, killing as many as 44.

"There are indications that terrorist masterminds have ordered sympathizers in various parts of the world to carry out lone wolf attacks," Bambang said.

These incidents, according to the lawmaker, justify the police taking enhanced security measures. Bambang made a similar call for enhanced security measures last July, following a suicide bombing in the Central Java city of Solo.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/enhanced-security-measures-needed-prevent-terror-attacks-lawmaker/

PKS politician deported from Turkey for trying to enter Syria

Jakarta Globe - April 9, 2017

Jakarta/Surabaya – Muhammad Nadir Umar, member of East Java's Pasuruan Legislative Council, or DPRD, from the Prosperous Justice Party, or PKS, was deported from Turkey for allegedly attempting to enter Syria to join the Islamic State militant group.

Nadir, who flew on the Air Asia's XT327 flight from Kuala Lumpur, arrived at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java, on Saturday (08/04) and was immediately taken by police for questioning.

"We are still questioning him in accordance with procedures that also involve [the National Police's antiterror unit] Densus 88, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the National Antiterrorism Agency [BNPT]," a police source said on Sunday.

Nadir allegedly attempted to join the Islamic State through a platform of a humanitarian mission from Quari Umah Foundation for Turkish and Lebanese refugees in Syria. People who want to join the Islamic State cannot be charged under Indonesian law, the source added.

On the day of Nadir's arrival, police killed six alleged Islamic State militants, after a drive-by shooting targeting officers.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/pks-politician-deported-turkey-trying-enter-syria/

Indonesia: Police kill six suspected militants

Asia Correspondent - April 9, 2017

Police shot dead six suspected members of an Islamic militant group in Indonesia on Saturday, they said, after a failed drive-by shooting targeting police officers in East Java.

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population and has been on high alert over a recent resurgence in radicalism inspired by the extremist group Islamic State.

After a police chase the six abandoned their vehicle in a village in the Tuban area, not far from the industrial city of Surabaya, and attempted to flee into a plantation where they were all killed in a second gun battle with police, East Java Police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said.

"By around 5pm we had immobilized all of them," Mangera said, confirming that all six had died during the incident. A box of 9mm bullets was found in their vehicle, he said.

Police were monitoring the vehicle prior to the attack, he said, in connection with the Friday arrest of three suspected members of the group, Jemaah Anshorut Daulah (JAD), who were allegedly planning an attack on a police station and had bought M16 machine guns from the southern Philippines.

"We tried to stop that vehicle, but the vehicle did not stop," Mangera said, adding that those in the vehicle "took out weapons and shot at officers."

Indonesia has had some major successes tackling militancy inspired by al Qaeda's attacks on the United States in 2001. But there has been a resurgence of Islamist activity in recent years, some of it linked to the rise of Islamic State.

The most serious incident last year was in January when four suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a shopping area in central Jakarta.

Jemaah Anshorut Daulah is an umbrella organisation on a U.S. State Department "terrorist" list that is estimated to have drawn hundreds of Islamic State sympathisers in Indonesia.

Recent attacks by Islamic State sympathisers have mostly been poorly organised, but authorities believe about 400 Indonesians have left to join the militant group in Syria, and some could pose a more deadly threat if they came home. -Reuters

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/04/indonesia-police-kill-suspected-militants/

Hard-line & vigilante groups

Police shut down opening of FPI branch in Semarang

Jakarta Globe - April 14, 2017

Jakarta – Police in Semarang on Thursday evening (13/04) shut down an event to celebrate the opening of a local branch of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, at the home of one of its members.

"For security reasons, the event has been shut down," the head of Semarang Police Chief Comr. Abiyoso said after a meeting between FPI representatives and several mass organizations that protested against the event.

The declaration took place at the home of FPI Central Java's legal advocacy chairman Zainal Abidin.

Abiyoso said with or without the presence of FPI, Semarang will remain safe. "The police are here to keep the city safe," he said.

Hundreds of police officers arrived at Zainal's house on Thursday night after more than 1,000 people from various mass organizations descended to the area.

Among them were members of Nahdlatul Ulama's youth wing Ansor, Red and White Brigade (Laskar Merah Putih), National Guard (Garda Nusantara) and National Garuda Patriots (Patriot Garuda Nusantara).

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/police-shut-opening-fpi-branch-semarang/

Police ban hard-line group's event in Semarang

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Suherdjoko, Semarang – Police in Semarang, Central Jakarta, banned an event held by Islamic hard-line group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) on Sunday night, as they believed it to be a threat to religious harmony in the city.

Semarang Police chief Sr. Comr, Abiyoso Seno Aji said on Monday that the event at the Grasia Hotel, which was opposed by GP Ansor, the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) the country's largest Muslim organization, and the Laskar Merah Putih mass organization, could lead to public disorder. "I don't want any trouble in Semarang," Abiyoso said, adding that the HTI did not obtain a police permit for the gathering.

GP Ansor field coordinator Munir said his organization was strongly against the event, "because of the HTI's stance of rejecting the Pancasila state ideology."

Hundreds of GP Ansor members surrounded the venue hours before the event was scheduled and checked on people entering the hotel.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/police-ban-hard-line-groups-event-in-semarang.html

Freedom of religion & worship

X-Men illustrator faces backlash over alleged anti-Christian messages

The Guardian (Australia) - April 11, 2017

Danuta Kean – An artist who allegedly inserted political and religious messages into an X-Men spinoff comic has apologised, saying his career is over after fans complained about background images in the first issue of X-Men: Gold containing apparent antisemitic and anti-Christian references.

On Saturday, publisher Marvel said it would remove the artwork from future versions after readers in Indonesia claimed that some images contained coded messages referring to political and religious tensions in the country. They alleged Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf had sneaked in references to hardline Islamist opposition to Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the first Christian governor of the Indonesian capital in half a century.

Tjahaja Purnama caused controversy in Indonesia after saying that people should not believe Islamic leaders who use the Qu'ran verse Al Maidah 5:51 to claim Muslims can't be led by non-Muslims. He later apologised for the statement.

On one sign in Syaf's X-Men illustrations shows the number 212, which in Indonesia is widely understood as a reference to Muslim protests held against Tjahaja Purnama last December. In another panel the character Colossus wears a shirt reading "QS 5:51".

Syaf denied the illustrations promoted religious intolerance. In a post on Facebook he wrote: "It is number of JUSTICE. It is number of LOVE." He added: "My career is over now. It's the consequence what I did, and I take it. Please no more mockery, debat [sic], no more hate. I hope all in peace."

His post appeared after Marvel issued a statement to the ComicBook.com website saying that the images had been inserted without "knowledge behind its reported meanings".

Marvel added: "These implied references do not reflect the views of the writer, editors or anyone else at Marvel and are in direct opposition of the inclusiveness of Marvel Comics and what the X-Men have stood for since their creation." It added that "disciplinary action" was being taken against Syaf, a freelance who has illustrated for the company and others for the last 10 years.

Complaints about the artwork surfaced on social media at the end of last week. In one panel, Jewish character Kitty Pride appears in front of a shop sign with the word "Jewelry" [sic] half-covered, leaving the word "Jew".

Marvel came under fire from readers in Indonesia for allowing the images, with critics labelling the artist's action shameful. In an open letter posted on Facebook, fan Haykal Al-Qasimi warned the publisher that the images were used to "spread hatred", an accusation Syaf fiercely denied. Al-Qasimi wrote: "I don't think you and your comic readers would want your comics to be used to spread hatred based on [a] person's religion."

It is a sharp reversal for the artist. A week earlier, he had appeared on the Marvel website in a promotional interview for the X-Men series, saying that the job of reimagining classic costumes was a "dream come true". But this is not the first time Syaf has used background art to voice his political beliefs; a 2012 issue of Batgirl contained a reference to Indonesian president Joko Widodo, in support of his campaign at the time to become governor of Jakarta.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/apr/11/x-men-illustrator-alleged-anti-christian-messages-marvel-ardian-syaf

Leading women warn of increasing intolerance

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2017

Jakarta – Top women activists issued a warning on Monday about the increasing threat of intolerance toward minority groups in the country.

Former first lady and women's rights activist Shinta Nuriyah Wahid warned of the impact of radical thoughts and teachings that are increasingly accessible to Indonesians.

"I feel that kebhinnekaan [diversity] is being torn apart as radical and fundamentalist groups have been trying to brainwash Indonesian people, especially the younger generation," Shinta told the media after addressing a seminar on women and diversity in Jakarta on Monday.

She quoted results of a survey co-held by the Wahid Foundation and the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) in August last year, which revealed that 59.9 percent of the surveyed 1,520 Muslim respondents disliked minority groups and disapproved of members of these groups holding public office.

Another activist Omi Komariyah emphasized that diversity should be a uniting factor for Indonesians. "Kebhinnekaan should be a uniting factor for all of us and difference should not be used to mock each other. We should unite to build the nation," Omi, wife of prominent Muslim thinker the late Nurcholis Madjid, told the seminar.

Meanwhile, University of Indonesia psychology professor Saparinah Sadli called on Indonesians to respect differences. "Kebhinnekaan is [a form of] difference. If we believe that every human is different, then kebhinnekaan is us. That is the true manifestation of kebhinnekaan," Saparinah told the same seminar.

Shinta suggested that in real life parents and teachers should be at the forefront in preventing children from coming in contact with such radical and intolerant ideas. (mrc)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/11/leading-women-warn-of-increasing-intolerance.html

Islam & religion

Banser takes down banners promoting Islamic country in Central Java

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Agus Maryon, Banyumas – Hundreds of members of Barisan Ansor Serbaguna (Banser), the youth wing of Indonesia's largest Muslim organization, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), have taken down banners calling for the creation of khilafah, or Islamic country.

The banners featured the logo of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) and were set up in several regencies of Central Java, before being taken down on Sunday. They were found in strategic locations of Banyumas, Cilacap, Purbalingga and Brebes.

"Those banners have no permits and they contain an invitation to build an Islamic country. This is not right, and Banser is against it," Andry Widyanto, the coordinating head of Banser in Banyumas, told The Jakarta Post.

Andry said the banners had been found in 20 locations in Purwokerto, the capital of Banyumas regency. He added that Banser would fight anything that harmed national unity, including the idea of building an Islamic country.

He said his team's decision to take down the banners was the decision of all Banser members. "We have coordinated with the police, and they gave us the permission to do this," he added.

Banyumas Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Aziz Andriansah was involved in guiding Banser's action. He said he had asked Banser members to go about their action in a calm way.

Aziz said he had not known about the presence of HTI in Banyumas and said police also had yet to discover which party was behind the installation of the banners.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/banser-takes-down-banners-promoting-islamic-country-in-central-java.html

Jokowi, allies call for national unity amid pressure

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – In another move to balance out his firm stance against Muslim radicals participating in sectarian rallies, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has toned down earlier statements about the separation of religion and politics.

Jokowi, ahead of a recent sectarian rally by conservative Muslim groups against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, had warned the groups not to mix religion with politics.

While reaping criticism from Islamist political parties, his statements did not stop the rally on March 31, in which police detained five protesters, including Muslim People's Forum (FUI) leader Muhammad Al-Khaththath.

The President later met Muslim clerics from across the nation and thanked them for maintaining religious harmony and asked them to preserve it. "I issued a warning a few weeks ago that we should not mix politics and religion. What I meant was that the context of the warning concerns the unity of our country," Jokowi said on Saturday during his visit to the Kholifatulloh Singo Ludiro Islamic boarding school in Sukoharjo, Central Java, where he inaugurated a new school building and mosque.

Jokowi said religion and politics should be put together in a proper context, such as in policymaking. "In order to maintain our country's unity, we should not let religion be politicized to become a commodity," Jokowi went on.

In recent months, Jakarta has witnessed numerous anti-Ahok rallies that have also become a cause celebre for opposing Jokowi, whose party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), supports the Christian governor of Chinese descent in the Jakarta election.

On Sunday, thousands of members of the Nahdlatul Ulama, the country's largest Muslim organization, which is affiliated with a party allied with Jokowi, the National Awakening Party (PKB), gathered in Sidoarjo, East Java, to call for national unity.

Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa, who is also an NU member, attended the event, along with PKB chairman Muhaimin Iskandar and Setya Novanto, the chairman of the Golkar Party, another government ally.

"This event is expected to secure religious harmony amid current issues faced by the country," said M. Hasan Mutawakkil Alallah, the chairman of NU's East Java chapter, as quoted by news agency Antara.

Syafii Maarif, the former chairman of Indonesia's second-largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, also expressed concern over the use of religion as a political tool that gave rise to identity politics and social division.

"The majority of people in this country is Muslim; however, I am worried that [the majority] itself is divided and [its members] end up insulting one another," Syafii said in Jakarta on Saturday at a discussion titled "Indonesia at a Crossroads: Pancasila Country vs Religious Country." The number people misusing and monopolizing the truth in the name of a certain religion might be small, but they seemed to be gaining ground, because they spoke too loudly, Syafii said. Meanwhile, the majority supporting the country's ideology of Pancasila was mostly silent.

"Our country must not be weak in light of this threat. Authorities should be more watchful and vigilant. Don't let vigilante groups take action," Syafii added.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian, who was also present at the discussion, said he noticed that identity politics in the nation was getting stronger, while on the other hand Pancasila principles were fading away in society.

While noting that such identity politics was the consequence of a democratic country where unequal wealth distribution was still the underlying cause of conflict, Tito said what Indonesia needed now was to strengthen conflict prevention mechanisms.

"I think instruments like the Inter-Religious Harmony Forum (FKUB) should be further empowered to bridge communication between religious groups. If we look closely, the problem is often miscommunication," Tito said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/jokowi-allies-call-for-national-unity-amid-pressure.html

RI may see more sharia-based bylaws

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie and Haeril Halim, Jakarta – The Constitutional Court's recent ruling curtailing the central government's authority to revoke regional bylaws may embolden local politicians to issue more religiously-inspired regulations that are often discriminatory against women and minority groups, human rights activists have said.

The ruling comes as Indonesia confronts a rising tide of religious conservatism, which appears to have encroached further into the nation's political sphere.

With the rise of identity politics and the central government's inability to revoke problematic bylaws, it is feared that local politicians may now have a greater incentive and greater freedom to enact religiously-tinted regulations to boost their popularity.

A 2015 survey conducted by the Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM) found that base political considerations were primarily responsible for the implementation of sharia-based laws, with local politicians bowing to demands from conservative Muslim groups in exchange for votes during elections.

It found that most of the sharia-inspired bylaws that the study reviewed in Jakarta, Banten and West Java were passed during a local election campaign season.

"It is possible that the ruling may also lead to a more excessive implementation of the existing discriminatory bylaws," Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) executive director Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono said.

Supriyadi argued that local governments would most likely ignore the central government's recommendations after the court's ruling.

He took as an example the Aceh administration's refusal to amend its Islamic criminal code bylaw, or Qanun Jinayat. The Home Ministry said in a letter sent to the Aceh government and the Aceh Provincial Legislative Council in 2014 that some of the laws in Qanun contradicted national laws.

But since the Aceh Governance Law said Qanun could only be repealed by a Supreme Court ruling, not the Home Ministry, the Aceh administration has never responded to the ministry's letter, he said.

The Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of the Indonesian Regency Administrations Association (Apkasi), 45 regencies nationwide and one individual, who submitted a request for a judicial review of the 2014 Regional Administration Law.

In its decision, the Constitutional Court annulled four provisions in Article 251, Paragraphs 2, 3, 4 and 8 of the law. These provisions principally allowed the central government to scrap problematic bylaws.

That said, a bylaw revocation can now only be filed to the Supreme Court, which is responsible for examining judicial reviews of regulations from a lower level than national law, such as bylaws, as outlined in the Constitution.

National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) chairman Azriana lamented the court's ruling.

"The mechanism to scrap bylaws issued by the Home Ministry, if implemented effectively, is actually the most effective way to get rid of hundreds of discriminative bylaws across the country," Azriana said.

Data from Komnas Perempuan reveals that from 2009 up to August 2016, a total of 421 discriminatory bylaws were issued by local governments, including those that regulate morality and restrict women's control of their own bodies.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/ri-may-see-more-sharia-based-bylaws.html

Jokowi clarifies statement about separating religion from politics

Jakarta Post - April 9, 2017

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has clarified his statement about not mixing politics with religion, which generated a negative reaction from several Muslim organizations who accused him of promoting secularism.

The President took time to explain his previous statement during a visit to the Kholifatulloh Singo Ludiro Islamic boarding school in Sukoharjo regency, Central Java, on Saturday.

"Don't misunderstand my statement. It is impossible not to connect politics with religion," the President said.

He also added that religion would always be a very important factor in politics, since every form of politics must be based on honesty and morality, things that were taught by every religion.

"That's what connects religion and politics," Jokowi said. Religion and politics must walk side-by-side, the President added. However, he warned that religion must not be used as a political commodity.

Previously, during a working visit to Barus in Central Tapanuli regency, North Sumatra, last month, Jokowi said religion and politics should be separated as mixing them together could be dangerous for national unity.

The statement received criticism from several conservative Muslim organizations. The Indonesian Ulema Council criticized the President for making the statement, saying that the statement promoted liberal values that should not be applied in a religious country like Indonesia. (hol/rin)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/09/jokowi-clarifies-statement-about-separating-religion-from-politics.html

Religions should not be used as political tool: Intellectual

Antara News - April 9, 2017

Jakarta – Leading Muslim intellectual Syafii Maarif said that religions should not be used as a political tool as "it could lead to national disintegration."

Currently religions have been widely misused for political purpose, Syafii said addressing a seminar here Saturday on "Indonesia at a crossroads of Pancasila state and theocratic state".

Former chairman of Muhammadyah, one of the country's largest non political Islamic organization, said when religions are used as tool to seize political power, hates would easily spread threatening the national integrity.

"When religions are used as political tool, people would easily incited hatred," he said, commenting on frequent use of religious sentiment in the Jakarta political campaign ahead of the gubernatorial election on April 19.

He said he hope the people of Jakarta would choose a leader on the quality of the candidate rather than by ethnic group, religion, and other groups. "See the track record, how the candidate has defended the people. That is the only criteria," he said.

He also called on sympathizers of candidates to stop intimidating voters with demonstration. "It is useless, wasting energy," he said.

Earlier, Speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Zulkifli Hasan said the issues of SARA, raising religious, racial and ethnic sentiments in election of regional leaders has been over.

"Issue of SARA is already a bygone issue in regional elections. Only in Jakarta it is still a bit hot," he said.

Zulkifli, general chairman of the Islamic National Mandate Party (PAN), said in the elections of regional leaders held earlier in other regions, many candidates from minority religions were elected.

"West Kalimantan Governor, former governor of Central Kalimantan, Solo city mayor and regent of Sula are all non Muslims and no problem there," he cited.(*)

Source: http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/110370/religions-should-not-be-used-as-political-tool-intellectual

Agriculture & food security

Ex-army chief Moeldoko elected chairman of farmers association

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Stefani Ribka, Jakarta – The Indonesian Farmers Association (HKTI) has elected former Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Moeldoko, who is also a close aide to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, as its new chairman.

Moeldoko replaced Mahyudin, a Golkar Party politician and the deputy speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR).

Moeldoko said he was committed to designing long and short term strategies for the HKTI and its 60 million members to achieve Indonesia's vision in becoming a global food supplier.

"I, representing Indonesian farmers, extend gratitude to the government for the agriculture infrastructure it's building today. We, the HKTI, are truly a strategic partner of the government," he said in his HKTI inauguration speech, which was attended by Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman and Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly.

The HKTI is considered to be one of the most sought after strategic posts by the country's elite politicians. Past chairmen of the association include Gerindra Party chief and former presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and Hanura Party chief Oesman Sapta.

The government has been working toward agrarian reform, in which it seeks to boost land distribution to residents and open loan access and other assistance to farmers.

The HKTI, funded by donations, has recently invented two paddy seeds named after Moeldoko: M70D and M400. The new seeds have been planted on 1,000 hectares of paddy fields in Java and Kalimantan. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/ex-army-chief-moeldoko-elected-chairman-of-farmers-association.html

Farmers association introduces new paddy seeds to jack up productivity

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Stefani Ribka, Jakarta – New paddy seeds – M70D and M400 – invented by the Indonesian Farmers Association (HKTI) are said to improve the cultivation process of rice, in turn improving farmers' welfare.

The M70D is able to produce harvest in 70 days, shorter than the normal period of 95 days, with 7 tons per hectare per harvest, while M400 has a normal planting period of 90 days but produces 9.6 tons per hectare of rice.

"With M70D, farmers can experience shorter planting times, hence the cheaper production costs and more frequent harvest – at least three to four times a year," said newly elected HKTI chairman Moeldoko, who is also a former national military (TNI) chief.

To date, he said, 1,000 hectares of paddy fields in Java and Kalimantan have been planting with the seeds.

Paddy cultivation is managed by seed producer PP Kerja in Boyolali, Central Java. The association also develops organic fertilizers and recruits agriculture graduates for its team.

The HKTI represents about 60 million farmers across the country, working in various agriculture sectors. Its funds come from donations, such as from politicians from the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/farmers-association-introduces-new-paddy-seeds-to-jack-up-productivity.html

Land & agrarian conflicts

Land acknowledgment crucial to prevent human rights violations

Jakarta Post - April 8, 2017

Arya Dipa, Bandung, West Java – Experts have warned that vibrant economic development in Southeast Asia has potential to trigger human rights violations, especially when the state fails to acknowledge the rights of people over land.

Civil societies could prevent rights violations by guarding development in their respective areas, they further say.

Norwegian Center for Human Rights adviser Aksel Tømte said potential for human rights violations began to open when the state handed over parts of its responsibilities on rights protection to corporations or business entities.

He referred to the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance on Tenure (VGGT), which had been acknowledged as one of international guidelines on people's rights over land but was not considered a legal instrument because it was voluntary in nature.

"This guideline has proposed companies to carry out a social impact analysis and to create a social complaint mechanism. But there is a problem here. Not all people agree that state functions, which are crucial, should be handed over to or controlled by companies.

This is because the companies represent the interests of stakeholders, which could be different from the interests of the people," said Tømte during the opening of Moot Court Competition's final stage in Bandung, West Java, on Friday.

Tømte further explained that many legal problems between corporations and the people were related to unresolved land ownership status.

This often happened in oil palm plantation schemes, in which companies gave indigenous people who did not have land certificates rights over the land, or often called plasma farmers. "They are prone to lose their rights over the land," said Tømte. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/08/land-acknowledgment-crucial-to-prevent-human-rights-violations.html

Housing & property

Tower developer upbeat despite slow demand in Jakarta's CBD

Jakarta Globe - April 10, 2017

Jakarta – Fairpoint Realty Indonesia, the property arm of conglomerate Gunung Sewu Group, said it is confident of attracting major corporate tenants to fill in a new office tower currently being developed in Jakarta's busiest commercial district.

Farpoint's subsidiary Prospero Realty is the developer of Sequis Tower, a 39-storey office building in South Jakarta's Central Business District. Investment for the project is estimated at Rp 2.5 trillion ($188 million), excluding the cost for land acquisition.

Topping-off ceremony to celebrate the completion of the building's highest point is expected to take place in May this year, and the whole building should be ready for occupation by July 2018.

The Jakarta Globe and a select number of media was invited to a site tour of the new tower on Wednesday (05/04). As of March 29, 35 floors of the tower's total 39 floors have already been completed.

Prospero Realty President Director Dougie Crichton told reporters Sequis Tower has many things to offer future tenants, including a prime location and green building features.

The developer is working toward a platinum rating – the highest available – from US Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, a global program to measure green building excellence conducted by third-party technical reviewers.

The USGBC is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable building design, construction and operation all over the world. "It's a way for us to give back to the environment," Farpoint 's head of project management Mulyadi Janto said.

He added that Sequis Tower will use fewer columns and introduce a floor system that allows tenants to customize the layout of their office while keeping cords and cables stored underground, unseen.

Jusup Halimi, Farpoint Realty Indonesia's chief executive, said last month the company had already received leasing commitments on 30 percent of the building's 78,000-square meter leasable area.

Despite the developer's optimism, demand in Jakarta's office market actually slowed last year, as many companies tightened their belt fearing more global economic uncertainties.

Occupancy rate of office spaces in the capital city's CBD declined last year, according to a report from property consultant company Colliers. However, this has not dampened developers' enthusiasm to build new office towers and boost the size of leasable office area this year on hope of an economic recovery.

Ferry Salanto, Colliers' senior associate director, said Jakarta's CBD is expected to get more than 700,000 square meters of new office area this year, bringing the total leasable office area in the CBD alone to about 6.2 million square meters.

Overall, office tower occupancy rate in the CBD dropped 4.6 percent to 84.8 percent last year. In 2016, there were 5.48 million square meters of leasable office area in the commercial district.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/tower-developer-upbeat-despite-slow-demand-jakartas-cbd/

Real Estate Indonesia rejects plan to tax vacant apartments

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Jakarta – Real Estate Indonesia (REI) has rejected the government plan to impose taxes on vacant apartments as it will discourage investment in the sector.

REI secretary general Paulus Totok Lusida said such a policy was not in line with the government's campaign to attract investors, including participants of the tax amnesty, who were invited to put their money in the property sector.

"Don't introduce a policy that could discourage [investment in the property sector]. The property business relates to 150 other businesses," said Paulus as reported by tempo.co on Monday.

Paulus disclosed the result of the meeting between representatives of REI and the government to discuss the progressive taxes for idle plots of land. During the meeting, the government representatives expressed their wish to tax vacant apartments.

Paulus said the majority of people bought apartments as second homes or only for investment. He also question[ed] the definition of vacant apartments. "If I frequently visit Jakarta and stay in my apartment, is my apartment vacant?" he said.

In an unconfirmed document dated in April, the Finance Ministry proposed three choices of policies to Agrarian and Spatial Ministry or National Land Agency (BPN): progressive taxes from ownership of idle land, taxes from vacant apartments and taxes from capital gain.

Meanwhile, Agrarian and Spatial Minister Sofyan Djalil said that such a policy would not be implemented in the near future. "We will rethink such a policy because property is having a difficult time now. We will discuss it further," he added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/real-estate-indonesia-rejects-plan-to-tax-vacant-apartments.html

Regional autonomy & separatism

Rp 400t of regional budget funds wasted: Minister

Jakarta Post - April 14, 2017

Jakarta – Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Asman Abnur has said that many local governments at the provincial, regency and city level perform poorly, as reflected in the unnecessary disbursement of budget funds.

According to him, administrations in at least 193 of 548 provinces, regencies and cities fail to optimally implement programs in line with the targeted outcomes. Discrepancies between the actual and planned outcomes resulted in wasteful spending to the tune of Rp 400 trillion (US$30.1 billion), Asman said.

"The programs and the outcomes are out of sync. The implemented programs are not consistent with the targeted outcomes, causing too much loss, since the budget is fully spent without significant results," Asman said on Thursday, as quoted by kompas.com.

Asman also noted that there were too many official trips, meetings at hotels and projects with vested interests.

"[For example] constructing irrigation [systems] while there is a lack of paddy fields, or building a dam for irrigation but not including the construction of the canals," the National Mandate Party politician went on.

The minister said he would encourage local governments with a good performance, such as the provinces of West Java, East Java and Yogyakarta, to help push for regents and mayors to revamp their performances. (afr/bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/14/rp-400t-of-regional-budget-funds-wasted-minister.html

Parliament & legislation

Oesman's first plenary session as DPD speaker turns chaotic

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2017

Jakarta – The Regional Representatives Council (DPD) saw yet another plenary session spiral into chaos on Tuesday, as internal power struggles continue to intensify.

Objections were raised by a camp that had rejected businessman-turned-politician Oesman Sapta Odan's role in chairing Tuesday's meeting – which would have been Oesman's first time as DPD speaker.

"There is clearly a rift within the leadership of this institution. We need to clarify the matter to prevent further problems ahead," said Riau councilor Intsiawati Ayus as reported by kompas.com.

Last week's inauguration of the Hanura Party chairman as DPD speaker drew controversy from constitutional experts who considered the move illegal as it contravened a Supreme Court verdict.

The court had ruled to annul DPD Regulation No. 1/2016, which halved the tenure of DPP speakers and deputy speaker to two-and-a-half years. The ruling was intended to prevent the council from holding a speakership election allowing former speakers and deputy speakers – namely Mohammad Saleh, Farouk Muhammad and GKR Hemas – to continue their tenure to 2019.

But a number of councilors, mostly those from the Hanura Party, pushed for the election, claiming the court's decision was not valid due to several editorial errors.

Tuesday's session was postponed twice as the number of attendees did not meet the quorum. The agenda was supposed to include an opening speech by the DPD speaker to open the sitting period and a portfolio report of the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) examination result. (foy)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/11/oesmans-first-plenary-session-as-dpd-speaker-turns-chaotic.html

Jakarta & urban life

Forced evictions remain rampant in Jakarta: LBH Jakarta

Jakarta Post - April 13, 2017

Winda A. Charmila, Jakarta – The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) released a report on forced evictions on Thursday, revealing that the number in 2016 increased to 193, compared to 113 in 2015.

A LBH Jakarta public lawyer, who is also the report's organizer, Alldo Fellix Januardy, said that even though there was a significant increase in the cases, the institute recorded the number of victims was decreasing.

According to the institute, there were 5,726 families who suffered evictions that also affected 5,379 business units. The numbers were a significant decrease from 8,145 families and 6,283 business units a year before. "The number of victims has decreased because the evictions conducted last year were not in densely populated areas," Alldo said.

He added that most of the evictions were conducted without proper discussions between the city administration and residents. Besides, he said there was still violence occurring during the evictions as police and military officers were involved.

About 37.8 percent of eviction cases last year involved Indonesian Military (TNI) officers, while police officers were involved in 41.9 percent of the cases.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/13/forced-evictions-remain-rampant-in-jakarta-lbh-jakarta.html

Indonesia's capital Jakarta is so congested, government might move it to

Sydney Morning Herald - April 13, 2017

Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies, Jakarta – Few people outside of Indonesia would have heard of Palangkaraya. The city on the island of Borneo is a flyspeck by Indonesian standards – in 2014 it had a population of just 250,000.

Most of its land area is still covered by jungle and TripAdvisor recommendations include boat tours, prayer hills and opportunities to see orangutans.

But Palangkaraya holds a special place in the psyche of Indonesians – in 1957 President Sukarno, the nation's founding father, first floated the idea of moving the capital here.

It is believed Sukarno's motive was at least in part symbolic. Jakarta, previously known as Batavia, had been the capital chosen by the Dutch and Sukarno was keen to sever ties with the country's colonial past.

But now the reason for moving capital cities is more pragmatic. Every few years or so Palangkaraya is mooted as a replacement for the flood-prone, congested and dysfunctional capital that is Jakarta.

Now President Joko Widodo has asked the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) to carry out a feasibility study on relocating the capital city.

"It is not automatically Palangkaraya, but we will look at several alternatives and also set some criteria," said Bappenas chief Bambang Brodjonegoro.

"We want economic growth to spread. What is obvious, if we move one day, it will definitely be outside Java. This is definite. It is not possible that the centre of government will be on Java island."

Java, the island on which Jakarta is located, has about 60 per cent of Indonesia's population of roughly 250 million, while making up just seven per cent of its territory.

Jakarta is literally sinking. The megalopolis is already 40 per cent below sea level and sinking at between three and 20 centimetres a year due to groundwater extraction.

Greater Jakarta has a population of 30 million. Limited public transport and millions of commuters from satellite cities has led to teeth-grinding gridlock.

The concrete jungle and rubbish-clogged waterways mean Jakarta floods every time there is torrential rain. The great flood of 2007 killed 80 people, displaced 500,000 and led to an outbreak of dengue fever.

It was also the instigator of Visi Indonesia 2033, a non-government organisation set up to formulate a vision for Indonesia in 2033, which includes moving the capital city.

"We sat together and thought we should make a plan to avoid big floods happening again and to overcome various problems in Jakarta such as traffic congestion, social issues," said Bandung Institute of Technology lecturer Jehansyah Siregar.

He said Visi 2033 identified Kalimantan as a suitable location because it was in the middle of Indonesia, not affected by the earthquakes that rattle Java and safe from potential enemy attack.

In 2010 former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono commissioned his staff to assess moving the capital. "But after the SBY Administration is over, the idea is gone again," Mr Jehansyah said. "However as activists we keep echoing the idea, that this is important."

He welcomed the latest study but hoped it did not replicate previous analyses and went beyond listing other world capitals that had been successfully moved.

"Palangkaraya is one of the few cities in Indonesia established for a specific purpose, much in the same way that Canberra and Ottawa were chosen," Jakarta Globe columnist Johannes Nugroho wrote in 2015, after Sukarno's daughter, Megawati Sukarnoputri – also a former president – spruiked the advantages of moving there.

"[But] almost 60 years on, how practical would it be to relocate the capital to Central Kalimantan, a region whose infrastructure, both in terms of quantity and quality, is decades behind Jakarta's?"

"Most of our officials and public servants in Jakarta reside in Java. Would they be expected to live permanently in Central Kalimantan?"

Jakarta's Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat was also sceptical. "It's been [discussed] for a long time right, but it doesn't make sense does it?," he was quoted as saying in Tempo. "Imagine, you must also relocate embassies, relocate research institutions."

Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno, who are narrow favourites to be elected Jakarta's next governor and deputy governor on April 19, did not have a formal position on the relocation.

However campaign spokesman Anggawirra, who uses only one name, told Fairfax Media the team had discussed it informally and basically supported the idea, given Jakarta was only designed for five to six million people.

He said development had been "too Java-centric" and relocating the capital to another island would stimulate new economic centres. "However the government must do a very careful and comprehensive study about it," Mr Anggawirra said.

Presidential spokesman Johan Budi said the President had asked for a feasibility study. "Whether or not we are ready [today], well we are not," he said. "We need to talk about it with the Parliament and other parties as well. However this topic has been discussed."

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/indonesias-capital-jakarta-is-so-congested-government-might-move-it-to-borneo-20170413-gvkj7y.html

With more buses on the streets, a surge in Transjakarta passengers

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Jakarta – Public transportation provider PT Transportasi Jakarta (Transjakarta) recorded that the number of Transjakarta passengers in the first three months climbed 41.3 percent to 36.7 million passengers from 25.9 million in the corresponding period last year.

"Currently, Transjakarta serves approximately 450,000 passengers every day on working days," said Transjakarta president director Budi Kaliwono on Sunday, as quoted by beritajakarta.com.

Furthermore, Transjakarta served a total of 123.73 million passengers throughout 2016. It saw a surge of 20.8 percent as it only served 102.9 million passengers in 2015.

Budi added that Transjakarta operated more than 1,100 buses every day and that number had increased significantly from only 605 buses operated daily in January 2016.

Transjakarta owned more than 1,500 buses in the first three months of this year and targets to have 3,000 buses by the end of 2017. (wnd/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/with-more-buses-on-the-streets-a-surge-in-transjakarta-passengers.html

Activists continue fight against Jakarta Bay reclamation project

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Winda A. Charmila, Jakarta – A group of activists and fishermen incorporated in the Save Jakarta Bay Coalition has to bite the bullet once again over a recent study on the environmental, social and economic impacts of the northern Jakarta land reclamation project that serves as the basis for continuing the controversial project.

During the fourth hearing at the Public Information Commission (KIP) on Monday, officials from the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Ministry did not show up and asked for postponement in a written statement.

KIP commissioner Evy Trisulo said the ministry had asked for the hearing to be postponed as it was still in the process of gathering evidence related to the continuation of the project.

The recent study on the reclamation project was made public following different policies by former coordinating maritime affairs minister Rizal Ramli, who had decided to stop the project, and his successor, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, who approved its continuation.

"We want to explain that there are different statements by Bapak Rizal Ramli and Bapak Luhut Pandjaitan related to their recommendations regarding the reclamation project [...] We want detailed information on the continuation of the project," said a researcher of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), Rayhan Dudayev, during the hearing.

The ICEL, along with the Legal Aid Institute (LBH), the People's Coalition for Fisheries Justice (KIARA) and the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen Union (KNTI), are part of the coalition.

Rayhan added that the resumption remained questionable due to the difference in opinions, hence the coalition also proposed to get access to the study conducted by the ministry under the leadership of Rizal for comparison.

In June, Rizal said the development of Islet G of the reclamation project had to be halted due to gross violations committed by the developer, as the islet was constructed above underwater electricity cables and in the path of shipping lanes. It also was found to damage the environment.

Two months later, Luhut said there were no problems related to the project and approved the resumption of the reclamation, including Islet G.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/activists-continue-fight-againt-jakarta-bay-reclamation-project.html

Armed forces & defense

Jokowi praises Air Force on 71st anniversary

Jakarta Globe - April 10, 2017

Jakarta – As the Indonesian Air Force celebrated its 71st anniversary over the weekend, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo praised the country's airmen for safeguarding national airspace.

Jokowi delivered his congratulatory speech on a visit to Halim Perdanakusuma air base in East Jakarta on Sunday afternoon (09/04), following a tour to Central Java last week.

Jokowi, along with first lady Iriana Widodo, were welcomed by Air Force chief Hadi Tjahjanto to Jakarta's second airport, where the presidential couple posed for photographs with 152 fighter pilots before hopping on board a Sukhoi 27/30 Flanker jet to address ranking officials.

"Happy 71st anniversary to the Indonesian Air Force. Thank you for safeguarding the sovereignty and unity of the Republic of Indonesia's airspace," Jokowi said. "Please, continue your beloved duties as professional soldiers," the president added.

Jokowi and Iriana shook hands with dozens of fighter pilots before departing the airport.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/jokowi-praises-air-force-71st-anniversary/

Criminal justice & legal system

Government refuses to implement moratorium on death penalty

Jakarta Post - April 12, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo indicated that Indonesia would continue to execute convicts when he confirmed that the government would not implement a moratorium on the death penalty despite mounting calls from human rights groups.

He hinted that there would soon be a fourth round of executions. "We never said we would implement a moratorium," Prasetyo said. "We are considering many aspects," he added.

Prasetyo made the statement in response to a question raised by United Development Party (PPP) politician Arsul Sani, who asked him to give updates on the government's execution plans during a meeting at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Arsul asked about the fate of more than 100 death row convicts in regard to ongoing discussions between the government and lawmakers on making the death penalty an alternative sentence as stipulated in the Criminal Code (KUHP) draft revision.

The bill, which is being deliberated at the House, softens the government's stance on capital punishment as it stipulates that the punishment can be reduced to life imprisonment.

Article 89 of the bill states "the death penalty should be the last option taken to protect the public." It is elaborated further in Article 91, which says convicts may have their sentences reduced if they behave well during their imprisonment. The bill does not define the guidelines of death penalty assessments or stipulate institutions authorized to make such assessments.

"If the revised KUHP takes effect while we still have death row convicts, we will comply with this new law," Prasetyo said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/12/govt-refuses-to-implement-moratorium-on-death-penalty.html

Saldi Isra hopes to bring change as youngest constitutional court

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2017

Jakarta – Newly inaugurated Constitutional Court (MK) Justice Saldi Isra signed an integrity pact at his new office on Tuesday, vowing to step up efforts to restore the court's reputation after multiple corruption allegations against previous justices tainted its standing in the eyes of the people.

Saldi, 48, previously a constitutional law professor at Andalas University in Padang, West Sumatra, said he has long had the ambition to become an MK justice, but hesitated to run because of his young age.

"But the situation has changed, thanks to the encouragement of several people," he added, naming former Constitutional Court justice Mahfud MD as a great source of support. "Mahfud told me that I should get out of my comfort zone. He pushed me to apply in Jakarta," he said.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo appointed Saldi Isra as new Constitutional Court justice on Friday, officially replacing Patrialis Akbar who had been arrested on Jan. 26 on bribery charges.

Saldi was one of three candidates submitted by an independent team tasked with finding a successor for Patrialis, who is the second Constitutional Court justice to be arrested for bribery after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) caught former MK chief Akil Mochtar accepting bribes on Oct.2, 2013.

Chief Justice Arief Hidayat said he hoped Saldi could accelerate improvements within the Constitutional Court and regain the public's trust. "He can bring a younger voice [to the court]; they are usually better heard than the older ones," he said. (dis)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/11/saldi-isra-hopes-to-bring-change-as-youngest-constitutional-court-justice.html

High hopes for Saldi Isra to restore trust in Constitutional Court

Indonesia at Melbourne - April 11, 2017

Muhammad Tanziel Aziezi – Legal scholar Saldi Isra will be installed as the new Constitutional Court judge today, replacing the disgraced Patrialis Akbar, who was recently named a corruption suspect by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo chose Saldi from a list of three candidates that included academic Bernard Tanya, from the University of Nusa Cendana (Undana) in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, and the former director general of legislation at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, Wicipto Setiadi.

Efforts to find a replacement for Patrialis began in February. Signs were good that the government intended to rectify the damage done to Indonesia's highest court when Jokowi set up a highly competent selection panel consisting of former Constitutional Court judges Harjono and Maruarar Siahaan, Commissioner on the Judicial Commission Sukma Violetta, leading human rights lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, and Law Professor Ningrum Natasya Sirait, from North Sumatra University (USU).

Some 45 candidates registered during the open nomination period in late February and early March. Administrative screening reduced this further to 22 candidates and finally 12 candidates were selected for interviews by the panel. One of these candidates – Muhammad Yusuf, the former head of the Financial Transactions Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) – withdrew, leaving 11 candidates to be interviewed.

The selection panel conducted its interviews publicly. In addition to allowing media coverage, it formally invited representatives from civil society to observe the process. The selection panel was also open to receiving reports on the track records of candidates from members of the public and civil society to assist in its deliberations. One group that offered reports was the Court Monitoring Coalition (KPP), a collection of legal and anti-corruption organisations. According to KPP member Edwin Yonatan Sunarjo, the results of its track record reports were used by the selection panel during the interview phase and the KPP was even provided with an opportunity to ask questions directly to candidates.

Following interviews, the selection panel ranked the candidates, with the names of the three highest-ranking candidates submitted to the president for consideration on 3 April. On 8 April, Jokowi announced that Saldi was his preferred candidate.

Saldi is a professor of law at Andalas University in Padang, West Sumatra, and director of the Law Faculty's Centre for Constitutional Studies (PUSaKO). He has long played an active role in constitutional debates and is committed to the anti-corruption movement. Saldi received the Bung Hatta Anti-Corruption Award in 2004, was named an Inspirational Young Figure by Kompas in 2009, and received the Megawati Soekarnoputri Award as a "young hero for corruption eradication" in 2012.

Saldi has been a member of selection panels for other positions, and recently served as the head of the selection panel for new members of the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the Elections Supervisory Body (Bawaslu). Given his academic skills, experience and clean reputation, his appointment has been almost universally welcomed by observers in the legal sector.

This selection process was remarkably different to past selection of Constitutional Court judges. The previous selection process was conducted behind closed doors, far from public scrutiny, and registration was not opened up to capture a range of different candidates. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono directly selected judges to fill the places allocated to the executive. (There are nine Constitutional Court judges, and candidates are derived from the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government).

It was this flawed process that resulted in the selection of the man Saldi is replacing, Patrialis, who is now facing allegations of corruption related to a judicial review of the Law No. 41 of 2014 on Agriculture and Animal Health. Patrialis was arrested and named a suspect by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) over allegations that he received bribes of US$20,000 (AU$26,700) and SG$200,000 (AU$189,600). As I wrote previously for Indonesia at Melbourne, in 2013, a civil society coalition challenged Patrialis's selection at the State Administrative Court (PTUN) because of the lack of transparency and accountability in his appointment.

With the open and accessible process that resulted in the selection of Saldi, the public has much more reason to believe that not only will he be able to do the job well, but will remain committed to staying clean.

[Muhammad Tanziel Aziezi (Azhe) is a researcher at the Indonesian Institute for an Independent Judiciary (LeIP). Azhe also regularly writes on legal issues on his personal blog, www.kanggurumalas.com.]

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/high-hopes-for-saldi-isra-to-restore-trust-in-constitutional-court/

Prison population jumped by 12,000 in two months

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The number of prisoners being held in Indonesia increased by 12,000 within two months this year, raising concerns about unresolved prison overcrowding problems.

Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly revealed on Monday that in January the country recorded a total of around 202,000 prisoners. In March, the number had jumped to 214,675, most of whom are drug-related criminals.

"What will happen if we keep putting people behind bars?" Yasonna said during a hearing with the House of Representatives' Commission III overseeing human rights, security and legal affairs.

The more prisoners inside jails, he said, the more difficult for the ministry to handle problems in the prisons, such as sanitation and food supply, as well as illegal levies by prison guards on visitors. Not to mention the riots that frequently break out among prisoners as they have to share very confined spaces.

One cell could accommodate around 40 prisoners, while it was supposed to accommodate only five, he said. Yasonna said the problem would remain unresolved if the government only built new prisons every year.

"We'll never afford to keep establishing new prisons to accommodate them. The money would be better going into infrastructure development," he said.

"We should reform our criminal system. Instead of putting them in jail, it's better to make them do social work. Our Criminal Code revision should include alternative punishments."

He also considered an amnesty for drug convicts and moving them to rehabilitation centers.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/11/prison-population-jumped-by-12000-in-two-months.html

Scores sentenced to death in Indonesia in 2016 but proposed law offers

Sydney Morning Herald - April 11, 2017

Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies, Jakarta – More than 60 people were sentenced to death in Indonesia last year but proposed changes to the country's penal code could save the lives of future prisoners if they can demonstrate good behaviour.

In a sign Indonesia is slowly edging away from capital punishment, the House of Representatives is poised to pass a revised criminal code, which, a lawmaker told Fairfax Media, would "give hope" to those facing execution.

Indonesia's Law and Human Rights Minister, Yasonna Laoly, is optimistic the revised penal code will be passed mid-year. A clause would allow death sentences to be commuted to imprisonment if felons could show they had reformed.

However, it will provide little succour to the more than 215 people currently facing the firing squad – including British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford – as laws in Indonesia are not applied retrospectively.

The proposed change comes after Indonesian President Joko Widodo told Agence France-Presse last month he would consider a moratorium on the death penalty if his people agreed to it.

But he told the news agency it would be difficult to secure parliamentary backing without clear public support and cited a 2015 survey that found 85 per cent of Indonesians supported the death penalty for drug trafficking.

An Amnesty International report on death sentences and executions globally in 2016 – to be released on Tuesday – found the number of executions in Indonesia fell from 14 in 2015 to four last year. However, there were significantly more death sentences imposed.

"At least 60 new death sentences were imposed in 2016, including 46 for drug-related offences and 14 for murder," the report says. "At least 215 were under sentence for death."

Fourteen convicted drug offenders were due to be executed on July 29 last year as part of Indonesia's so-called "war on drugs". However, 10 were given a last-minute stay of execution for reasons never properly explained by the Indonesian government. Their lives remain in limbo.

"No independent and impartial body was mandated to review existing death sentences at the end of the year," the Amnesty report says.

The report also found there were people with mental or intellectual disabilities on death row in Indonesia and there was credible evidence of people who were under 18 at the time of the crime for which they were convicted.

In December, Indonesia abstained from voting on a United Nations General Assembly resolution on a moratorium on the death penalty.

In February Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo said Indonesia would continue to impose the death penalty – including for drug trafficking – but executions had been put on hold while Indonesia lobbied for support to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Nasir Jamil, a member of the House of Parliament's working committee on the penal code, said the committee had agreed to the clause on capital punishment. He told Fairfax Media it was a compromise that reflected differing views within government and among academics.

"So, we give them an alternative," Mr Nasir said. "This clause gives people who are sentenced to death some hope that their sentence can be commuted to life or 20 years' imprisonment. At the moment they have no hope."

Mr Nasir said convicts would need to be able to persuade a number of people – including prosecutors – that they had reformed in order to have their sentences commuted. Prison chiefs would not be the sole arbiter of their good behaviour, to prevent opportunities for convicts to bribe them.

Mr Nasir said he hoped the revised penal code would be passed in August but some other articles in the bill relating to defamation and insulting the President were yet to be finalised.

In 2007 the Indonesian Constitutional Court upheld the validity of the death penalty but recommended that a death-row prisoner who showed rehabilitation after 10 years have their sentence commuted to imprisonment.

Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, part of the so-called Bali nine, were executed in 2015 for drug trafficking despite their well-documented rehabilitation in jail. This included Chan becoming a pastor and Sukumaran establishing art classes in Kerobokan jail.

Their lawyer, Todung Mulya Lubis, said it remained to be seen if the revised code would be passed, given deliberations were not complete. He said if the bill was not passed this year its future would be uncertain as 2018 would be a "political year" ahead of the 2019 presidential elections.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/scores-sentenced-to-death-in-indonesia-in-2016-but-proposed-law-offers-hope-20170410-gvhs17.html

Indonesia urged to heed UN call to abolish death penalty

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The government has been encouraged to heed the United Nations' call to abolish the death penalty from the country's judicial system.

Jakarta-based human rights watchdog Imparsial said it expected the government to finally adopt the recommendation during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) slated for next month, when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will review Indonesia's human rights record along with that of other UN member states.

"The government must no longer avoid the recommendation regarding the death penalty, as it is clear the policy is questionable," Imparsial deputy director Muhammad Gufron told the press on Sunday.

Gufron suggested the government comprehensively review the last three rounds of executions in order to identify alleged corrupt practices in the process.

The upcoming UPR will be the third session held to evaluate the human rights record of each of UN member. The quadrennial gathering has always seen the UNHRC suggest that Indonesia abolish the death penalty, a recommendation Indonesia has consistently rejected. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/10/ri-urged-to-heed-un-call-to-abolish-death-penalty.html

Foreign affairs & trade

Tensions lurk behind Pence's 'partnership' visit to Indonesia

Reuters - April 13, 2017

Jakarta – Washington has billed Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Indonesia next week as a booster for the strategic partnership between the world's second- and third-largest democracies, but a raft of bilateral tensions could sap the goodwill from his trip.

Pence's counterpart in the world's most populous Muslim country has voiced worries about United States President Donald Trump's immigration policy, which critics say is biased against Muslims, and about his "America First" mantra on trade and investment.

"We in Indonesia never change. The change is there. That's why we're asking them now, 'what is your policy now on the economy, on democracy, now that Trump is in power?'," Vice President Jusuf Kalla told Reuters on March 31.

"What does it mean, 'America first'? I can say, too, 'Indonesia first' if you say 'America first'."

Indonesia is one of 16 countries against which the United States runs a trade deficit that will be investigated by the Trump administration for possible trade abuses.

Trump's combative approach will not sit easily with Indonesia, where economic nationalism and protectionist tendencies have flourished since a slump in commodity prices in recent years slammed the brakes on economic growth.

"Unfortunately I do see a hardening of attitudes on our side," a senior Indonesian government official said, who declined to be named. "And it's of particular concern because we're on that list of 16 countries [...] that are going to be investigated."

The official said a tougher stand by Indonesian authorities had also contributed to a series of disputes with US companies, including Alphabet's Google, miner Freeport-McMoRan and financial services giant JP Morgan Chase.

A series of face-offs

Indonesia has duelled with Google over back taxes and fines running into hundreds of millions of dollars, and with Freeport in a contract row that has crippled operations at the world's second-largest copper mine, Grasberg.

It also dropped JP Morgan as a primary bond dealer after the bank's research analysts issued a negative report on the country in November.

"It's a very unfortunate series of issues which all happen to be American," the official said, who expects them to come up in private during Pence's visit. Indonesia is the third stop on an April 15-25 tour that includes South Korea, Japan and Australia.

Google declined to comment for this report, and JPMorgan did not respond to a request for comment. Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama said: "This visit is happening entirely independent of our current negotiations with the government of Indonesia."

However, billionaire investor Carl Icahn, Freeport's third-biggest shareholder and now a special adviser to Trump, has described Jakarta's tactics over the mining contract as "disingenuous and insulting," according to the New York Times.

Another potential irritant is biodiesel. The US National Biodiesel Board, a producer group, has petitioned the US government to impose anti-dumping duties on biodiesel from Indonesia and Argentina, claiming they have flooded the US market.

"This is one of the issues that we have asked the trade ministry to bring to the meeting [with Pence]," Paulus Tjakrawan, a director at the Indonesia Biofuel Producers Association, told Reuters.

"Our hope is for the government to be firm [...] Otherwise we will be taken advantage of," he said. "Not to act like thugs but, for example, if they put barriers to our exports, why not stop importing some of their goods?"

Despite the strains, the government official said Indonesia would be careful to start its relationship with the Trump administration on the right foot.

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's approach to foreign policy has been led more by economic interests than geopolitical considerations: he has pursued increased trade and investment from China but keeps a diplomatic distance from Beijing and established a strategic partnership with Washington under former President Barack Obama.

US ambassador to Indonesia, Joseph R. Donovan Jr, said in a statement last week that Pence's visit reflected a continued commitment to that partnership, would deepen economic engagement and boost regional security cooperation.

"The US embassy here certainly is going to great lengths to make the visit a success," the Indonesian official said. "My impression is he's [Pence] not going to ruffle feathers in public, he's not going to cause a ruckus."

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/tensions-lurk-behind-pences-partnership-visit-indonesia/

RI criticizes air strike ahead of Pence visit

Jakarta Post - April 8, 2017

Liza Yosephine, Jakarta – Indonesia has long promoted its preference for peaceful diplomacy to end Syrian civil war Jakarta likely to seek maintenance of ties during Pence's visit, expert says

Indonesia has raised concerns about the United States' recent unilateral air strike on Syria, which was launched on US President Donald Trump's order and has sparked mixed international reactions.

The Pentagon hit Shayrat Airfield in Syria with 59 Tomahawk missiles early Friday morning, local time, as a response to the Syrian government's chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun, the US Defense Department said on its website. In the statement, Trump said the targeted military strike was "in the vital national security interest of the US to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons."

Some European countries, such as Germany, Britain, Italy and Turkey, have expressed their support for the air strike, while Russia and Iran have condemned it, Reuters has reported.

Indonesia's statement came ahead of a visit by US Vice President Mike Pence to Indonesia, which is slated for April 20 to 21 and is expected to boost strategic ties.

Although it is unclear whether Jakarta will bring the Syrian issue to the table during Pence's visit – which was scheduled weeks before the attack – speculation is growing that the US and Indonesia might also discuss security issues and possibly terrorism.

Jakarta said on Friday that the air strike contravened international legal principles for the peaceful settlement of disputes as stipulated in the UN Charter, arguing it had not obtained the authorization of the UN Security Council.

"For Indonesia, peace and stability in Syria can only be achieved through dialogue, an inclusive political process and all parties restraining themselves and stopping all acts of violence," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir told a press briefing on Friday.

He further called for respect and the protection of human rights, as well as for continued open humanitarian access to Syria, requesting the UN Security Council – which Reuters reports is set to hold a meeting soon to discuss the US cruise missile strikes on Syria – take immediate steps to resolve the crisis in Syria.

Indonesia has long promoted its preference for peaceful diplomacy as the way to end the Syrian civil war, having attended UN-sponsored peace talks in the past, including the Geneva II Conference on Syria in 2014 in Switzerland, which was also attended by then-US state secretary John Kerry.

As a state that is party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which aims to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction, Indonesia has also strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria that have reportedly killed dozens of civilians.

As a part of his first official tour of the Asia-Pacific region, with stopovers in key countries such as South Korea, Japan and Australia, Pence is set to visit Jakarta, where he will pay a courtesy call to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and conduct a bilateral meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

US Ambassador to Indonesia Joseph R. Donovan issued a statement ahead of Pence's trip, saying that the visit reflected the US' continuing commitment to its strategic partnership with the Southeast Asian country.

"His engagement with Indonesian leaders will serve to strengthen our strategic partnership through discussions centered on deepening our economic engagement, boosting our cooperation on shared regional security priorities and increasing our people-to-people contact and exchanges," Joseph said.

A US executive order accusing 16 countries of "cheating" in trade is also likely make its way into the talks, as Trump has previously called for an investigation into the "trade imbalance" between the US and 16 countries, including Indonesia.

"It should be underlined that bilateral trade relations must benefit both sides, not only one party, and in connection to this, [trade] should also be carried out in accordance with the globally applicable rules," the Foreign Ministry's US Affairs director, Adam Mulawarman Tugio, said.

Despite its concerns about the Trump administration, Indonesia is likely to seek to maintain good relations with the US during Pence's upcoming visit, said Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) international relations expert Adriana Elisabeth.

"As there has yet to be an Asia policy announced, even until now, the visit will be an opportunity to find out more about the US' approach to the region and to Indonesia," she added.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/08/ri-criticizes-air-strike-ahead-of-pence-visit.html

Mining & energy

Indonesia eyes truce with Freeport as losses mount for both sides

Reuters - April 12, 2017

Fergus Jensen, Jakarta – Losses amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars appear to be pushing the Indonesian government and mining giant Freeport McMoRan to resolve a row that has crippled operations at Grasberg, the world's richest copper mine, for three months.

Freeport says it has lost revenue of about $1 billion since the export of copper concentrate from Grasberg was halted on Jan. 12 under new rules issued by the government. The government has lost millions of dollars in royalties and is worried about layoffs and a slowing economy in the restive Papua region, where the giant mine is located.

"There's a lot of grandstanding in public – that, with our economy being close to a $1 trillion a year now, Freeport is a small matter," said a senior Indonesian government official, who estimated the lost royalties and taxes from the mine at about $1 billion a year.

"But truth be told, a $1 billion a year reduction in fiscal revenue is a lot," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Indonesia halted Freeport's copper concentrate exports under new rules that require the Phoenix, Arizona-based company to adopt a special license, pay new taxes and royalties, divest a 51 percent stake in its operations and relinquish arbitration rights.

Freeport threatened in February to take the dispute to arbitration, saying the rules were "in effect a form of expropriation".

But now, Indonesia has promised to allow Freeport to export its copper concentrate once again, while negotiations continue over the next six months on contentious issues, including on divestment, economic and legal protection and smelting investment.

The compromise comes ahead of a visit to Indonesia by U.S. Vice President Mike Spence next week. Pressure to resolve the row could also come from Freeport's third-biggest shareholder, activist investor Carl Icahn, who has been appointed a special adviser to President Donald Trump.

For Indonesia, tensions at Grasberg could hamper its efforts to calm the Papua region, where a low-level insurgency has simmered for decades. The mine's social and environmental footprint also remains a source of friction.

Papua's GDP growth is expected to drop to 3 percent this year due to the Freeport dispute, down from 9.21 percent in 2016, according to the Papua branch of Indonesia's central bank.

A slump in Papua's economy could aggravate tensions with Jakarta, complicating efforts by President Joko Widodo to enforce policies to extract more from its natural resources.

"When there is a crisis at Freeport, it will send major ripples through Papuan society," said Achmad Sukarsono, an Indonesian expert at the Eurasia consultancy.

Papua economy

In Timika, a sprawling town of around 250,000 people and a supply hub for Grasberg, the Freeport dispute has hit businesses, caused a slump in house prices and stalled credit, residents say.

Mastael Arobi, who owns a car rental business there, has cut his fleet by two-thirds because of slow business and is worried about the interest he pays on loans. "We are half-dead thinking about repayments," he said.

Transport operators in Timika had similar complaints, with a motorcycle taxi driver saying it was hard to make even a third of the up to 300,000 rupiah ($22.50) he used to make each day.

"Since these furloughs and layoffs began we have stopped providing credit to Freeport workers," said Joko Supriyono, a regional manager at Bank Papua in Timika, who said ATM transactions had declined by around two-thirds since January.

Freeport, which employs more than 32,000 staff and contractors in Indonesia, has now "demobilised" just over 10 percent of its workforce, a number expected to grow until the dispute is resolved.

Persipura, the main soccer club in Papua and one of Indonesia's most decorated teams, announced last month that Freeport, its top sponsor, had stopped its funding.

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said in a recent interview that while he did not anticipate political pressure, Washington should not politicize the Freeport issue.

Another Indonesian government official said moves to allow Freeport to export temporarily were aimed at showing that the government is willing to find a solution, and to send a positive message, especially to foreign investors, who are watching the saga closely.

"We are not changing our stance. Our basic stance on 51 percent divestment, our demand for smelters – all that is still there. But in negotiations, you should give a little to assure the other side that we are still open to some options," said the official.

The two sides had opted for a temporary solution to break a deadlock in issues that "cannot be resolved quickly," said Bambang Gatot, Director General of Coal and Minerals in the mining ministry,

A spokesman for Freeport Indonesia declined to comment on the warming ties with the government. A senior Freeport McMoRan executive said last week the company was awaiting details of a temporary export permit from the Indonesian government that would allow it to ramp up production.

[Additional reporting by Hidayat Setiaji, Wilda Asmarini and Kanupriya Kapoor in Jakarta and Samuel Wanda in Timika; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan.]

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-freeport-idUSKBN17E0XT

'No smelter, no export license,' government tells Freeport

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2017

Fedina S. Sundaryani, Jakarta – Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said on Tuesday that the government would force PT Freeport Indonesia to revert back to its contract of work (CoW) should the mining giant fail to fulfill its promise of building a smelter in Gresik, East Java.

The company, a subsidiary of United States-based mining behemoth Freeport McMoRan, was recently awarded an eight-month special mining permit (IUPK), which will end in October. During this time, the miner is expected to continue negotiating disputed terms on its contract conversion, including issues of divestment and smelter construction.

The IUPK status maintains Freeport Indonesia's right to export semi-processed metals, including concentrates.

"If the company insists on not building a smelter, it will have to return to its CoW until the contract expires [in 2021]. If the company doesn't want [to build a smelter], it should just revert – but that means it can not export," Jonan said on the sidelines of a seminar in Jakarta.

Jonan issued on March 31 Energy and Mineral Resources Ministerial Decree No. 28/2017, a substitute to decree No. 5/2017 on adding value to minerals through domestic processing, just days before the ministry announced that it had awarded Freeport Indonesia the short-term IUPK.

Under the revised decree, the minister can award miners an IUPK once they submit a proposal to convert from their CoW. The short-term IUPK may either last until the CoW's expiry or a "specific time period to accommodate adjustments to continued operations." (hwa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/11/no-smelter-no-export-license-government-tells-freeport.html

Analysis & opinion

Indonesia's Jokowi fails to abolish abusive sharia laws

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - April 12, 2017

Kyle Knight – The rights of all Indonesians are at greater risk following a Constitutional Court ruling this week that the central government could no longer repeal local Sharia (Islamic law) ordinances adopted in the country.

In recent years, the government had begun analyzing local regulations for compliance with Indonesia's secular constitution, and pledged to repeal those that didn't. "I want to underline that Indonesia is not a religiously-based country," the home affairs minister said in 2015. But the government was tepid in its approach, steering clear of controversy by leaving Sharia ordinances intact.

What a missed opportunity. The Constitutional Court on Wednesday deprived the Home Ministry of the power to abolish problematic local regulations – depriving the government of a check on those ordinances that threaten universal rights to freedom of expression and association. It also exposes the failure of the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to turn its rhetoric about scrapping laws that flagrantly violate the rights of women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people into reality.

While Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo claimed to have annulled more than 3,000 problematic local ordinances in 2015 and 2016, he later conceded that those eliminated only impacted investment and did not include abusive Sharia regulations. Those canceled were "problematic regional regulations" for violating the country's credo of "unity in diversity," not regulations that violated fundamental rights.

Now, after years of central government foot-dragging, the court has ruled that it cannot revoke any of those local ordinances.

President Jokowi has said only that he'll find other ways to improve investment. But he will also need to explain how he'll protect threatened minorities from abusive Sharia ordinances. Currently two men in Aceh are awaiting a public flogging sentence for homosexuality under local Sharia-inspired laws. The court ruling does not let Jokowi off the hook for failing to uphold Indonesia's international legal obligations.

Jokowi will need, for the first time, to demonstrate real leadership against a rising tide of intolerance in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country. Minorities in Indonesia under threat of abusive Sharia statutes need a decisive signal from the president that he will ensure that "unity in diversity" extends to all Indonesians.

[Kyle Knight is a researcher with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program.]

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/04/12/indonesias-jokowi-fails-abolish-abusive-sharia-laws

Indonesia: What are you going to do for Papua, Mr. President?

Asian Human Rights Commission - April 11, 2017

Chris Biantoro – Since Suharto stepped down in 1998, and political reform occurring for the last 18 years, Papua has yet to enjoy real reform, as enjoyed by other provinces in Indonesia. While there have been initiatives to address human rights problems in Papua and West Papua provinces, they have not resulted in significant improvements on the ground. Former President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) for instance, changed the name of Irian Jaya province to Papua, when he was in power. Unfortunately, Gus Dur's effort occurred in a very short period; after one year he was forced to step down by the Parliament.

Subsequently, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration made a commitment to organize peaceful dialogue between Papua and Jakarta, but nothing ever materialized. There was merely some dialogue conducted by church organizations, such as the Indonesian Communion Churches (PGI). Although President Yudhoyono established a special unit for Papua, the Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B), it was an ad hoc unit concerned with infrastructure and economic development, without any focus on legal and human rights problems faced by indigenous Papuans. After President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) came to power, the new government decided to discontinue the UP4B.

With President Widodo starting his presidential campaign from Papua, many people had high expectations about the future of Papua under his administration. Up to his inauguration in October 2014, President Widodo showed concern towards Papua: he ordered his subordinate to develop a market for local Papuan mothers; he released some political prisoners; and for some time he even visited Papua.

In the last two years however, President Widodo has not shown any serious effort to address problems in Papua. The government has no clear agenda or policy related with law and human rights in the province. The perpetrators of past human rights abuses continue to enjoy impunity, such as in the cases of Puncak Jaya 1977-1978, Wasior and Wamena 2001 and 2003, as well as the Abepura case of 2000. Despite the Abepura case being prosecuted in the Makassar district court in 2005, the court failed to find evidence and finally released all the perpetrators. The government has also failed to address various recent cases of human rights abuse, such as the Paniai case, and the brutal attack and murder of Vijay Pauspaus in Sanggeng Manokwari Barat.

In the last one year, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) collected references and case reports concerning human rights violations in Papua, one of which is the report concerning allegations of genocide in Puncak Jaya Papua 1977-1978, published by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a regional organization based in Hong Kong. There has been no progress however, regarding the Komnas Ham's initiative.

One of the cases that occurred under President Widodo's administration and gathered a lot of public attention, is the Paniai case. In this case, five students were shot to death and 17 others were seriously injured, when police and military officials allegedly attacked and shot local residents. Ironically, even though Komnas HAM established an investigation team (pro justitia) based upon Law No 26 of 2000 on the Human Rights Court, as well as based upon the Decision Letter of its Chair (No 009/Komnas HAM/III/2016), until now the Commission has not issued any investigation report.

The investigation team for Paniai started its work on 1 May 2016, but the military and police have not shown any seriousness or commitment to cooperate with Komnas HAM. This goes against President Widodo's statement, "I want this case [Paniai case] resolved as quickly as possible, so it does not reoccur in the future," of 28 December 2014.

The government's seriousness towards Papua is being questioned internationally as well, with six Pacific countries raising human rights in Papua in the UN General Assembly's 71st Session, on 26 September 2016. The six Pacific countries of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Tonga called for the Indonesian government to address human rights violations in Papua, and for West Papuan self-determination rights to be respected. In fact, widespread international attention upon Papua indicates the lack of progress in Papua.

It is therefore high time to ask President Widodo, what are you going to do for Papua, Mr. President?

[Mr. Chris Biantoro is Indonesian human rights lawyer and currently working as aprogram officer of Indonesian Desk at the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). He can be contacted at chris.biantoro@ahrc.asia.]

Source: http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-ART-019-2017

Indonesia unmoved by West Papua independence struggle

Geopolitical Conflict - April 8, 2017

Michael Hart – In the Indonesian province of West Papua, a movement for independence has existed since the early 1960s. Located at the country's easternmost point, West Papua came under Indonesian control in a disputed UN-backed referendum in 1969, sparking an independence struggle which has taken place far from the gaze of the outside world.

Over the past five decades these seemingly intractable conflicts have been largely forgotten by those outside the region. In recent years however, the dispute has gained greater international attention as a result of more organized efforts on the part of independence activists, alongside a growing network of concerned politicians around the globe.

Yet despite this upturn in media coverage, civil society action and political maneuvering, the call for a new referendum on West Papua's future remains unlikely to be granted.

Over the last five decades, information on the situation in West Papua has been difficult to obtain and verify, as foreign journalists and non-governmental organizations have largely been banned from the province. However, numerous human rights violations have reportedly been carried-out by the Indonesian security forces, including accusations of torture, murder, intimidation and arbitrary arrests. In addition, many people from other parts of Indonesia have been moved into the province, in what could be viewed as an attempt to lessen the influence of West Papuan culture.

The conflict long-ago reached a point of stalemate, with the dispute refusing to recede despite the fact that almost 50 years have passed since the original referendum took place. There are multiple reasons why the dispute has become so intractable, not to mention the firmly-ingrained competing interpretations of the situation, which prevail on each side of the debate.

From the perspective of the West Papuan independence movement, the grievances felt in the 1960s have not subsided over time, and continue to drive the struggle today. First and foremost, the perceived historical injustice at the way the referendum was conducted remains strong. Other secondary factors have added to this feeling of injustice in the years since, including reports of human rights violations, cultural marginalization and economic disadvantages.

From the perspective of the Indonesian government, the territory was always rightfully obtained under a legal referendum, with the result sanctioned by the UN, thus resulting in legitimacy to govern and support from the international community.

Many of Indonesia's allies and closest neighbors – notably Australia – have long supported Indonesia's sovereignty over West Papua. The province has come to occupy a central location in Indonesia's national imagination, and is of huge economic importance due to its rich mineral resources. As a result, Indonesia has gone great lengths to secure control over the area, through maintaining a strong military presence and effectively closing the region off to international observers.

In recent years, Indonesia has been accused of carrying-out large-scale arrests of demonstrators and members of the independence movement, whilst the government has repeatedly urged other nations to respect Indonesia's sovereignty. In this sense, the status-quo has undergone little change.

Yet last year, the independence campaign appeared to pick up pace, with a global conference on West Papua held in London in May 2016. Members of the 'Free West Papua' movement were in attendance, along with members of the 'International Parliamentarians for West Papua' (IPWP) group, including the current UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. At the meeting, prominent pro-independence leader Benny Wenda urged the UN to initiate and supervise a new vote for independence in West Papua, to make up for the perceived failings of the 1969 UN-backed vote.

The reinvigorated pro-independence campaign serves as evidence that despite Indonesia's tight control of the province, and despite doubts over whether West Papua would be able to survive as an independent nation, calls for a new referendum are unlikely to subside. In fact, the independence movement appears to be more resilient and better-organized than at any time in recent history.

The involved parties are aware that persuading Indonesia to hold a new referendum is an unlikely prospect. Yet irrespective of the campaign's long-term success or failure in terms of achieving an independence vote, it serves an important purpose in raising awareness of the human rights situation faced by civilians in West Papua.(*)

[Michael Hart is Freelance Writer & Researcher, run a weblog: geopoliticalconflict.com.]

Source: https://geopoliticalconflict.com/2017/04/08/indonesia-unmoved-by-west-papua-independence-struggle/

Indonesia permits rare Papua access to UN health rights expert

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - April 8, 2017

Andreas Harsono – The United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health did something remarkable last week: he traveled to the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.

Dainius Puras' two-day trip to Papua, part of a two-week official visit, was notable for the simple fact the Indonesian government allowed it to happen. Given the government's long history of blocking scrutiny of conditions in Papua by foreign media and international observers, including UN experts, this development may indicate a change in policy.

In 2013, the government rejected the proposed visit of Frank La Rue, then-UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, because he insisted on travelling to Papua. The government has justified limiting international observers' access to Papua on security grounds, but the reality is the government and the security forces are just unwilling to face criticism from nongovernmental organizations and the foreign media.

Puras' observations about health conditions in Papua are a searing indictment of the government's failings on public health. He singled-out the fact that ethnic Papuans "are two times more likely to have HIV/AIDS than the rest of the population and new infections are on the rise." He called for the development of "culturally sensitive"

Other statistics are equally alarming: Papua has the lowest life expectancy in Indonesia and the country's highest infant, child, and maternal mortality rates. Despite Papua's glaring health service deficiencies, the government severely restricts access of international NGOs, including those that provide much-needed healthcare services. In August 2010, the government banned from Papua the Dutch international aid organization Cordaid. The government asserted the organization had assisted Papua pro-independence activists, an allegation Cordaid denied.

Puras' concerns about health rights in Papua should be a wakeup call to the government that its current policies on health in Papua are seriously inadequate. The government should recognize that international NGOs – and allowing media to freely report in Papua – can play a crucial role in supporting official efforts to fill gaps in public health delivery systems. Permitting Puras' visit will hopefully open the door to wider international access to Papua, so that the government can get support to address the appallingly poor health indicators of ethnic Papuans.

[Andreas Harsono is Human Rights Watch Indonesia Researcher.]

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/04/07/indonesia-permits-rare-papua-access-un-health-rights-expert

Home | Site Map | Calendar & Events | News Services | Resources & Links | Contact Us