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Indonesia News Digest 16 – April 22-30, 2017

West Papua Human rights & justice Women's rights & gender Labour & migrant workers Freedom of information & the press Political parties & elections Blasphemy & the Jakarta elections Treason, sedition & state ideology Environment & natural disasters LBGT & same-sex marriage Graft & corruption Hard-line & vigilante groups Freedom of religion & worship Islam & religion Sex, pornography & morality Land & agrarian conflicts Cabinet & the presidency Parliament & legislation Jakarta & urban life Criminal justice & legal system Police & law enforcement Foreign affairs & trade Mining & energy Economy & investment Analysis & opinion

West Papua

19 district heads in Papua sentenced to six months' probation

Jakarta Post - April 26, 2017

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura, Papua – The Jayapura District Court has sentenced 19 district heads from Jayapura regency, Papua, to six months' probation for election violations.

The judges read out the sentence in a hearing on Tuesday, during which the court also ordered the defendants to pay Rp 600 million (US$45,146) in fines.

Presiding judge Sarifuddin said the 19 district heads joining with the Jayapura regency's District Heads Association were guilty of rejecting a re-vote. In so doing, they violated Article 188 of Law No.11/2015 on the home ministry, Article 71 of Law No.10/2016 on regional elections and Article 55 of the Criminal Code, which carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison.

"The 19 district heads are legally and convincingly guilty of committing a crime by intentionally making a joint decision that benefited one of the Jayapura regent and deputy regent candidate pairs," said Sarifuddin, accompanied by two panel members, Abdul Gafar Bungin and Lidya Awinero.

Should the 19 district heads violate the probation, they will be sentenced to three months in prison.

The 19 district heads made a decree to reject a re-vote at 229 polling stations in 17 districts across Jayapura regency. The Jayapura Elections Supervisory Committee demanded the re-vote, claiming that it had found that 788 Polling Station Working Committee officials had been replaced without the consent of the Jayapura General Elections Commission.

Gustav Kawer, a lawyer for the district heads, said he would talk with his clients about whether they would accept the ruling or file an appeal. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/26/19-district-heads-in-papua-sentenced-to-six-months-probation.html

Police shooting of Freeport workers in Timika under investigation

Jakarta Post - April 25, 2017

Jakarta – The National Police have said they are investigating an incident where police officers fired rubber bullets at PT Freeport Indonesia workers during a rally in Timika, Papua, last week.

"We have sent a team to look into whether the officers followed the proper procedures, particularly regarding the use of firearms," National Police spokesperson Boy Rafli Amar told reporters on Tuesday.

Six Freeport workers – Andri Santoso, Sakarias, Puguh Prihandono, Wibowo, Faisal and Zainal Abidin – reportedly suffered injuries from the shots. They claim that they were shot by the police while staging a rally in front of the Timika District Court. The protesters were demanding the release of a fellow worker, Sudira, who is currently standing trial for embezzlement.

Mimika Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Victor Dean Mackbon was also injured by a rubber bullet during the incident and is currently receiving treatment at the Mimika Hospital.

The internal affairs division (Propam) is currently looking into the incident, Boy said. "If the officers neglected or deliberately tried [to harm the protesters], they will be criminally charged," Boy said. (dis)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/25/police-shooting-of-freeport-workers-in-timika-under-investigation.html

Company threatens workers over plans to strike at West Papua mine

Radio New Zealand International - April 24, 2017

The global mining giant, Freeport McMoRan, is threatening to punish workers at its Indonesian unit who are threatening to strike over employment conditions.

Tensions have been rising around the massive Grasberg mine in West Papua after Freeport laid off thousands of workers to stem losses from an ongoing dispute with the Indonesian government.

The Freeport workers' union said the company's efforts to reduce its workforce by as much as 10 percent have had extensive impacts, and announced plans for a 30-day strike from 1 May.

Indonesia halted Freeport's copper concentrate exports in January under new laws that require Freeport to get a special licence and divest a 51 percent stake in its operations, among other measures.

Negotiations had been underway, and Reuters reported an agreement was expected to be reached soon to allow exports to temporarily resume. But a strike would severely impact those efforts to ramp up production.

A Freeport spokesperson, Eric Kinneberg, said absenteeism would be tracked at the mine, and disciplinary action would be enforced under the terms of a collective agreement.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/329362/company-threatens-workers-over-plans-to-strike-at-west-papua-mine

Labor union condemns alleged shooting on Freeport workers

Jakarta Post - April 24, 2017

Jakarta – Andi Gani Nena Wea, president of the Indonesian Workers Union Confederation (KSPSI), lamented the actions of police officers who allegedly fired shots at PT Freeport Indonesia workers during a rally in Timika, Papua.

Andri Santoso, Sakarias, Puguh Prihandono, Wibowo, Faisal and Zainal Abidin were reportedly injured during a protest in front of Timika District Court on Thursday, demanding the release of Sudiro, a colleague who is standing trial in an embezzlement case.

"Thousands of our workers called on the judge to suspend Sudiro's detention because of his [poor] health, but the judge denied [our demand]," Andi said.

The judge's decision to return Sudiro to his cell angered protesters, which led to a clash with police personnel, said Peter Selestinus, one of Sudiro's lawyers.

"Someone threw rocks at the feet of the Timika police chief, and officers responded by firing shots – they were aimed at protestors, not the air," he added.

Andi said he has been in direct communication with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to report on the incident and the actions of the Papua Police. KSPSI will stage a solidarity rally for the victims on Labor Day, or May Day, on May 1.

Neither the Papua Police or the National Police have responded to queries related to the case. (dis/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/24/labor-union-condemns-alleged-shooting-on-freeport-workers.html

Police shooting victims treated at Mimika Hospital

Jakarta Post - April 22, 2017

Jakarta – Two employees of US-based gold and copper mining company PT Freeport Indonesia, who were victims of a rubber bullet shooting allegedly committed by Timika police personnel on Thursday, are receiving intensive medical treatment at Mimika Regional General Hospital (RSUD) in Timika, Papua.

According to RSUD Mimika spokesperson Lucky Mahakena, the two Freeport employees are Andrian W. Santoso and Muhammad Faidsal. Faidsal was reportedly shot on the left side of his buttocks while Andrian suffered wounds to his left leg, directly under his knee.

"Two other people who were rushed here have returned home," Lucky said as quoted by Antara on Saturday, referring to Zainal Arifin, who was shot in his right thigh, and Pukuh Prihantono, who was shot in his left knee. Another Freeport employee wounded in the sole of his foot returned home immediately after receiving treatment by medical personnel at the hospital.

The five Freeport employees suffered the wounds during a clash between police personnel and mining company workers who staged a protest in front of Timika District Court on Thursday. The police shot rubber bullets in their attempt to disperse the crowd.

Mimika Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Victor Dean Mackbon suffered injuries, including a punctured vein, to his left heel because of shrapnel from rubber bullets. He is currently receiving intensive treatment in a VIP room at RSUD Mimika.

Lucky said a team of doctors at RSUD Mimika had removed the shrapnel from Victor's wounds. "After surgery, he [Victor] may need two or three weeks for recovery," he added. (mrc/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/22/police-shooting-victims-treated-at-mimika-hospital.html

Papuan women told to avoid old-fashioned traditions

Jakarta Post - April 22, 2017

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura, Papua – The struggle of Kartini, a young female hero who strove to release Indonesian women from old-fashioned traditions, must be followed by women in Papua, where local communities still adopt a strict patriarchal system.

"Papuan women should not let themselves be shackled by old-fashioned traditions. It doesn't mean we should no longer adhere to our customs and traditions. But what should happen is that our traditions must become our motor to keep moving forward," said Jacoba Lokbere, a Papua Legislative Council member from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), in Jayapura on Friday.

The lawmaker further said many Papuan women were still shackled by old-fashioned traditions, such as marriage at a young age, because there was a common belief there that once a woman got her period, she was ready to get married. Youth marriage was common especially in remote villages with poor access to information and communications.

"It is still widely considered that women's sole responsibilities are to give birth to their children, tackle housework and work in plantations. Only men are allowed to work outside the home," said Jacoba, in her statement on the commemoration of Kartini Day on April 21.

The female Papuan politician said she could release herself from the adoption of old-fashioned traditions because of her strong will to see more Indonesian women having a successful career in various fields, but without forgetting the support of their families.

"Families play a great role in releasing a woman from the adoption of old-fashioned traditions," she said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/21/papuan-women-told-to-avoid-old-fashioned-traditions.html

Human rights & justice

93 countries to question Indonesia's human rights violations

Tempo.co - April 27, 2017

Istman MP, Jakarta – As many as 93 countries have signed up for United Nation's human rights board where they will question Indonesia's human rights enforcements in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

"There are 93 countries that have submitted their review," said Presidential staff expert Ifdhal Kasim today, April 27. Ifdhal is yet to be notified on the questions that will be asked by the delegations.

He is not sure that each country will have the time to deliver their questions, considering that the Indonesian delegation will only be provided with a 3.5 hours window.

According to Ifdhal, reviewers often ask questions related to the death penalty that still exists in Indonesia. In addition, President Jokowi has considered a death penalty moratorium following pressure from the public.

"We can't deny the death penalty. We will report what we have done with our death penalty system. It can be seen in the criminal code revision," he said.

Indonesia will also explain the development of past human rights violation incidents, such as the Wamena Wasior case. "It's being discussed by the attorney general's office to determine whether the status will be improved to an investigation or not," Ifdhal said.

In another occasion, Foreign Ministry's Human Rights Director Dicky Omar says that UN's third cycle of human rights board will be an opportunity for Indonesia to respond to UPR's previous recommendation in 2012.

"We urge the countries to review Indonesia's human rights cases proportionally. Deliver your recommendations but in a realistic way that can be implemented," Dicky said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2017/04/27/055870229/93-Countries-to-Question-Indonesias-Human-Rights-Violations

Women's rights & gender

Gender discrimination still impedes national development: Minister

Jakarta Globe - April 28, 2017

Jakarta – There is a sufficient set of regulations promoting women's rights, but gender discrimination remains a stumbling block to women's role in national development, a minister said on Thursday (27/04).

In a speech for an event celebrating Kartini Day in Jakarta, Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Yembise said that generations of Indonesian women have drawn inspiration from Kartini, but the fight for women's empowerment has still a long way to go.

Indonesian national heroine Kartini is widely recognized as one of the pioneers of women empowerment.

"Indonesia has passed many regulations on women's rights and gender equality. But there's still this attitude that women should sit in the second row," she said in the speech read out by her deputy, Vennetia Danes.

Due to a tight schedule, Yohana could not attend Thursday's event, which was co-organized by the ministry and gathered dozens of women activists and students.

Yohana, the first Papuan woman to be appointed minister, said that persisting gender-based discrimination has been hampering women's role in various areas of national development.

"There should be no more lies that women are not needed," she said. "Behind our successful efforts to settle this nation's problems, there is a big role of women. Behind their soft hearts, there is courage to defend this nation."

"Thus, we call on all parties to give room for women to flourish, in line with Kartini's ideals," Yohana added.

Kartini, who was born and raised in an aristocratic family in Central Java, fought against restrictions on young aristocratic Javanese women of her era by communicating her ideas through letters to her Dutch friends.

There have been several collections of Kartini's letters, the most notable being "Out of Darkness, Into the Light," "Women's Life in the Village" and "Letters of a Javanese Princess." They have since become a source of inspiration for many who fight for equality.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/gender-discrimination-still-impedes-national-development-minister/

Students in Palu commemorate Kartini Day with call for end to violence

Pembebasan - April 22, 2017

Aprianto Simon, Palu – Scores of students from the Women's Struggle Front (FPP) commemorated Kartini Day in the South Sulawesi city of Palu on Friday April 21 with a free speech forum and long-march around the Nusantara-Talise pavilion.

The front is made up of several organisations namely the Tadulako University Student Executive Bodies (BEM) from the faculties of agriculture and economics, the Association of Sociology Students (Himasos), the Association of Agro-technology Students (Himagrotek), the Association of Sociology and Anthropology Students (Himsa), the Vanguard of the People's Movement for Democracy (Gelora Demokrasi) and the Action-Study Circle for Indonesian Democracy (LS ADI).

The action began at 3.30pm. Demonstrators brought organisational flags, banners and pamphlets on which was written "End sexual violence and discrimination against women". Several protesters also had an opportunity to give political speeches and present poems.

The free speech forum by the FPP had the aim of again reminding and informing society, particularly the residents of Palu city about the importance of reflecting on the struggle of R.A. Kartini in fighting for women's rights to education and healthcare.

And it has not just been Kartini that has fought for the women's movement but there have been many other women figures and organisations that have taken part in the fight against the injustices suffered by women.

This is because in the current period many people have forgotten Kartini, forgotten her spirit and ideals, forgotten the Indonesian nation's struggle and it's heroes who fought against oppression.

In a speech one of the participants, Dandi Putra Perdana said, "There are so many cases of discrimination and violence against women that have not been able to be resolved, just for example the assault on a Faculty of Education and Teacher Training (FKIP) student that has yet to be resolved and appears to have been covered up by the Tadulako University rectorate, or the recent assault on a female labour activist by police in Tangerang [West Java]. These cases of discrimination portray how incompetent the police are in enforcing the law, the [root] cause of this discrimination is the patriarchal mindset and culture that is still implanted in people's minds who think women are weak. This is the reason we are making our voices heard so that we, as aware students, should erode cultural values such as this".

The FPP made eight demands, namely: ratify the law on the elimination of sexual violence, end discrimination against women in all spheres of life, provide menstrual and maternal leave for women, provide equality for men and women in the workplace, abolish contract labour and outsourcing, fully investigate all cases of sexual violence against women, provide equal rights to men and women in the legislator and provide free education and abolish the Single Education Fee (UKT).

The Kartini Day free speech forum ended at around 5.30pam after which the participants gathered to evaluate the action.


Raden Ajeng Kartini was an Indonesian regent's daughter during the Dutch colonial period who, through her letters home, outlined her dreams of a better life for women. She died aged 25 a few days after giving birth to her first child. A variety of myths have made the original Kartini a nationalist hero and feminist symbol. Hari Kartini (Kartini Day, April 21) is a public holiday dedicated to the memory of the turn-of-the-century hero.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service. The original title of the report was "Front Perjuangan Perempuan Peringati Hari Kartini dengan Aksi".]

Source: http://koranpembebasan.org/2017/04/front-perjuangan-perempuan-peringati-hari-kartini-dengan-aksi/

Labour & migrant workers

Jokowi kicks off construction of blue-collar apartment

Jakarta Post - April 27, 2017

Fedina S. Sundaryani, Tangerang, Banten – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo attended on Thursday a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a low-cost apartment project in Tangerang, Banten, mainly designated for laborers in the industrial region.

Jokowi said the low-cost apartment – located in the Ciputat area and constructed by PP Urban, a subsidiary of state-owned construction firm PT PP – will be made up of 9,000 units, 6,000 of which would be exclusively offered to laborers. Each unit will be sold for Rp 293 million (US$22,066), with a 1 percent down payment.

"I have seen a model for the [apartment] just now and it's very nice. It has two bedrooms and a dining room. If the real [units] look exactly like the model, then even I want one," Jokowi joked in his remarks.

The President added that it was extremely important to build low-cost apartments and offer housing for low-income laborers, as many lived far from their workplaces, forcing them to spend more on transportation.

"This is extremely important as one of the basic needs of laborers is affordable and habitable housing. The government will continue to help build housing that is affordable, and we hope that every time we build one, [all the units] will be filled up," Jokowi said, adding that he will attend another groundbreaking event for low-cost houses in Depok, West Java, in the next few weeks.

Last year, the government issued its flagship 1 million houses program to reduce the housing backlog to 6.8 million houses in 2019 from 13.5 million in 2014.

Under the program, the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry and developers, alongside regional administrations and other agencies are expected to build 700,000 low-cost houses annually, while developers are also expected to build 300,000 commercial houses annually.

Also in 2016, the government issued an economic policy package that decreased the number of permits for low-cost housing construction to 11 from 33. (hwa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/27/jokowi-kicks-off-construction-of-blue-collar-apartment.html

Labor unions now synonymous with 'troublemakers': Minister

Jakarta Post - April 25, 2017

Jakarta – Membership of labor unions has decreased significantly to 2.7 million, as the image of unions is now synonymous with "troublemakers", Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri has said.

During the reform era of the late 1990s, when workers joined students to topple authoritarian president Soeharto, worker participation in labor unions amounted to some 8 to 9 million, Hanif said on Tuesday.

"This low participation might be caused by the image of labor unions, which is [now] synonymous with 'troublemakers'. This can make workers feel reluctant to join unions," he said, adding that labor unions had positioned themselves as being in opposition to the government.

Many unions had emerged recently without building up strong consolidation, Hanif added, this situation could trigger discord among unions.

"The paradigm of the labor union movement has to be directed into partnership with the government. The unions do not have to be afraid in applying the partnership paradigm because there is equality in it," he said during the launch of a book titled "Quo Vadis: Sejarah Perjalanan Serikat Pekerja/Serikat Buruh Indonesia" (Quo vadis: The history of Indonesian labor unions) in Jakarta.

To change the bad image of unions, Hanif suggested that they could adopt a cultural strategy to strengthen the union movement. "For example, in the celebration of Mayday, workers could create activities that have tourism potential. We can coordinate with the Tourism Ministry to realize this plan," he added. (rdi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/25/labor-unions-now-synonymous-with-troublemakers-minister.html

Freedom of information & the press

Indonesia climbs six spots in 2017 press freedom ranking

Jakarta Post - April 27, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesia has climbed six notches from its previous place in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Wednesday.

The rise, however, is by no means a sign Indonesia's press freedom is improving. The country may have risen from rank 130th last year to 124th this year, but its score has slightly fallen from 41.72 last year to 39.93.

Indonesia is also still at the lower half of the index, which assesses the level of press freedom in 180 countries. Even Afghanistan (ranked 120th) and Nigeria (ranked 122nd) fared better than Indonesia, which was once seen as a model for Muslim democracy.

In the report, the RSF argued that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo "has not kept his campaign promises."

"His presidency continues to be marked by serious media freedom violations, including a lack of media access to West Papua (part of the Indonesian half of the island of New Guinea), where violence against local journalists continues to grow," it said.

"Radical religious groups also pose a threat to the right to inform. Many journalists say they censor themselves because of the threat from an anti-blasphemy law and the Electronic and Information Transactions [ITE] Law," it added.

The RSF's latest index reflects a challenging time for journalists around the world, including in leading democratic countries. "Democracies have begun falling in the Index and now, more than ever, nothing seems to be checking that fall," the group said. (ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/27/indonesia-climbs-six-spots-in-2017-press-freedom-ranking.html

Pressure on Indonesia as World Press Freedom Day looms

Asia Correspondent - April 27, 2017

Max Walden – Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Indonesia's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to take decisive action to protect journalists ahead of Jakarta hosting World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

While acknowledging "considerable gains" in media freedom in the country since the fall of Suharto's New Order military dictatorship in 1998, HRW this week urged Jokowi's administration to crack down on abuses of press freedom by state security forces.

Back in March, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) announced its decision for Jakarta to host World Press Freedom Day 2017.

"World Press Freedom Day should be a time to celebrate the role of journalists in society, but in Indonesia, the focus too often is on their fears," HRW deputy Asia director Phelim Kine said.

"The Indonesian government should reverse the dangerous deterioration of press freedom in the country and prosecute security force personnel who physically assault journalists."

The theme of World Press Freedom Day this year is "Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media's Role in Advancing Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies".

Unesco will run events in partnership with the Indonesian Press Council and government on journalists' safety, countering violent extremism, press freedom in Southeast Asia and other topics.

Moreover, the UN agency will host a roundtable on the feasibility of a mechanism to promote and protect freedom of expression in the region – with proposed solutions including a dedicated Special Rapporteur or independent commission.

During the era of democracy, Indonesia's media landscape has expanded exponentially, with more than 100,000 reporters working for 1,000 newspapers, 2,000 radio stations and hundreds of television networks across the vast archipelago.

Indonesia's most popular English-language daily The Jakarta Post this week celebrated its 34th anniversary.

Nevertheless, the safety of journalists in Indonesia remains a major concern. The newly-released World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders ranks Indonesia at 124 out of 180 countries – below Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and neighbouring East Timor.

When Jokowi was elected in 2014, activists had hoped his administration would drive improvements in the protection of human rights, but had expressed disappointment with progress, including regarding the government's continued use of the death penalty.

Indonesian non-profit Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has documented some 577 examples of violence against journalists since 2008. Last year saw a sharp rise in incidents, with 78 assaults on journalists compared with 42 in 2015.

Journalists have seen significant threats to their safety while reporting on the Aksi Bela Islam movement against Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama after his allegedly blasphemous comments last September.

During a mass rally in the capital last November, for example, reporters were verbally and physically abused by protestors, with one TV crew being expelled from Istiqlal Mosque for supposedly biased reporting.

But HRW says attacks are more common in smaller cities and regional areas than in Jakarta, where journalists are more aware of their rights and supported by stronger professional organisations. The NGO's research has found an "atmosphere of fear and self-censorship in many newsrooms due to abuses and threats by security forces and local authorities that go unpunished."

"The Indonesian government has an obligation to address the security threats to journalists so that they don't risk physical violence for doing their jobs," Kine said.

"World Press Freedom Day observances in Jakarta will be a cynical public relations exercise unless the Indonesian government, with Unesco's help, puts media freedom at the top of the agenda."

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/04/pressure-indonesia-world-press-freedom-day-looms/

Political parties & elections

House urged to immediately pass election bill into law

Jakarta Post - April 22, 2017

Agus Maryono, Banyumas, Central Java – The General Elections Commission (KPU) has called on the House of Representatives to immediately complete the deliberation of the election bill and later pass it into law.

KPU member Wahyu Setiawan said it was important for the House to pass the bill so that the commission could immediately outline its work agenda since the legislative and presidential elections will run simultaneously in April 2019.

"An election bill prepared as soon as possible would be very beneficial for political parties participating in the 2019 election and all Indonesian people because they would be able to adjust themselves to the new rules to get quality election results," Wahyu told journalists on the sidelines of his work visit to Banyumas regency, Central Java, on Saturday.

The election bill merges three laws, namely Law No. 8/2012 on legislative elections, Law No.15/2011 on election organizers and Law No. 42/2008 on presidential elections.

"We are worried that stages of the simultaneous legislative and presidential elections in April 2019 would not be prepared well if the new election law is passed too late. The sooner the House passes the election bill into law, the better prepared the KPU will be ahead of the 2019 legislative and presidential elections," said Wahyu.

Despite such slow deliberation, he said, the KPU has continued preparing for the 2019 elections and communicating with the House, which has the authority to pass the bill into law. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/22/house-urged-to-immediately-pass-election-bill-into-law.html

Blasphemy & the Jakarta elections

Long marches against Ahok to continue

Jakarta Post - April 28, 2017

Jakarta – The National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI) held a long march on Friday to demand a maximum sentence of five years for Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for his blasphemy case.

The long march, which was attended by approximately 1,500 people, many of whom were children, started at noon from the Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta to the final destination at the former Central Jakarta District Court building on Jl. Gajah Mada, Central Jakarta, which was initially used by the North Jakarta District Court to try Ahok.

Approximately 4,600 police personnel secured the route alongside the long march. Some of them were stationed around the nearby State Palace to clear the area.

There were eight main representatives of the long march, one of whom was Muslim People's Forum (FUI) cleric Bernard Abdul Jabbar. North Jakarta District Court spokesperson Hasoloan Sianturi emphasized that the long march would not interfere with the ongoing legal process.

"Our constitution guarantees that the authority of the justices cannot be intervened with in anyway," he said.

Participants of the long march have promised to return for May 5 and May 9 rallies for the same purpose. On the latter date, the court is to decide on Ahok's verdict. (dea)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/28/long-marches-against-ahok-to-continue.html

Flowers for Ahok moved to Monas as number reaches more than 2,000

Jakarta Post - April 27, 2017

Jakarta – As the number of floral arrangements and displays sent to Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and his deputy Djarot Saiful Hidayat had risen to more than 2,000 as of Thursday noon, the City Administration decided to relocate some of them to the National Monument (Monas) area in Central Jakarta.

The flowers have adorned all sides of City Hall and neighboring sidewalks since Tuesday. "We'll put them in Monas park," said Bambang of Gambir district environmental agency on Thursday, adding that the agency had prepared eight trucks to move the flowers.

"[The trucks] have been back and forth three times, but there are still more [of the flowers] at City Hall," he said as quoted by wartakota.tribunnews.com.

Apart from the floral displays, Jakartans still flocked to City Hall on Thursday to express their support for Ahok and Djarot before they leave office in October. The incumbent pair was defeated by Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno in the April 19 runoff election.

On Tuesday, Djarot thanked Jakartans and told them that the floral displays were more than enough. "No need to send any more flowers. Just pray for us," Djarot said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/27/flowers-for-ahok-moved-to-monas-as-number-reaches-more-than-2000.html

Indonesia: Governor Ahok gets rock-star treatment with flowers and

Asian Correspondent - April 27, 2017

Max Walden – More than a thousand people and even more flower boards appeared at Jakarta city hall yesterday, as supporters flocked to thank outgoing governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

He and running partner Djarot Saiful Hidayat were defeated in the Indonesian capital's gubernatorial election by Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno last Wednesday, after an election campaign defined by the country's sensitive religious and racial divides.

But as Ahok arrived to work on Wednesday after the end of his long-running blasphemy trial, he was greeted by a huge group of well-wishers.

Throughout the day, more than one thousand karangan bunga or flower boards were placed outside city hall. Karangan bunga are commonly used in Indonesia to mark significant events like weddings, funerals or the opening of a business.

The hashtag #GombalinAhok, roughly translating as "sweet-talking Ahok," went viral on social media accompanied by photos of people attending city hall throughout the day.

Recognition of Ahok-Djarot's work didn't end there, with Indonesia's National Development Planning Ministry (BAPPENAS) praising good governance in the province of DKI Jakarta (special area of the capital city of Jakarta) with two awards on Wednesday.

Ahok accepted an award for best innovation in city planning and the second-best province in planning after the Special Region of Yogyakarta, reported CNN Indonesia.

Whilst voted out last week, the governor has long been praised for efforts to clean up corruption and reform the civil service, and combatting the Indonesian capital's systemic problems with traffic and flooding.

Ahok has enjoyed approval ratings of more than 70 percent whilst in office, yet hardliners have rallied to have Ahok unseated and imprisoned since last September when he made comments regarding the Quran, which were perceived by some to insult Islam.

Prosecutors last week, however, announced the downgrading of his charges from blasphemy to harassment, calling for two years' probation rather than prison and citing his "huge contribution" to Jakarta.

"Thanks for all the encouragement," tweeted Ahok on Wednesday. "Let us look to the future to make Jakarta and Indonesia better."

He and Djarot are widely tipped to take positions in the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who is closely politically aligned with the pair.

The court will issue its verdict regarding Ahok's blasphemy trial on May 9. Anies will take office as Jakarta governor in October.

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/04/indonesia-governor-ahok-gets-rockstar-treatment-flowers-trophies/

Anies' victory raises Muslim dignity in politics: PKS

Jakarta Post - April 27, 2017

Jakarta – Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) chairman Sohibul Iman said the victory of presumptive Jakarta governor-elect Anies Baswedan and his running mate, Sandiaga Uno, gives momentum to Muslims to raise their dignity in the political sphere.

"I take lessons from Jakarta gubernatorial election. Following the victory of Anies-Sandiaga, I visited several regions [and I see] that Muslims perceive the victory as an event, which has raised their dignity," Sohibul said as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday.

Sohibul, whose PKS allied with the Gerindra Party to back Anies-Sandiaga in the Jakarta gubernatorial election, said the pair's victory was inseparable from the Indonesian Muslims who united to give their support to the candidates.

According to the politician, Muslims in civil-society organizations and political parties have united ever since claims emerged alleging that Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama may have committed blasphemy against Islam.

With the rise of Islamic pride in politics, Sohibul asked the nation's political party elites to understand and prioritize accommodating the aspirations of Muslims.

Separately, Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) consultative board chairman Din Syamsuddin said Muslims should be independent in politics, considering Indonesia is a Muslim-majority nation.

"Defending the interests of Muslims means defending the interests of Indonesian citizens [...] We hope there is a solution for political parties to defend Muslims" Din said.

Judges presiding over Ahok's trial are set to announce their verdict on May 9. Prosecutors have scrapped the blasphemy charges, and are now only pursuing an accusation of defamation against Islamic ulemas. (afr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/26/anies-victory-raises-muslim-dignity-in-politics-pks.html

Wreaths for Ahok reach thousand

Jakarta Post - April 26, 2017

Ida I. Khouw, Jakarta – Hundreds of people and some 1,000 wreaths packed the front porch of City Hall and its surrounding area on Wednesday to thank Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and his deputy Djarot Saiful Hidayat for their leadership.

The visitors, which come from Jakarta and its neighboring areas, had been gradually coming to City Hall since early morning.

"I have been queueing here since 6.30 a.m. just to take pictures. I didn't expect that there would be this many [the visitors]," Fatimah, 39, a resident of Cipinang, East Jakarta, told tribunnews on Wednesday.

The visitors crowded Ahok when he arrived at the City Hall. Ahok was defeated by his contender Anies Baswedan in the April 9 election runoff.

City Hall was also packed with hundreds of wreaths sent by residents as expressions of their gratitude. "We are still counting the number of the wreaths we have received. There are about 1,000 so far," Jakarta Gubernatorial and Foreign Affairs bureau head Muhammad Mawardi said.

Wreaths started to fill up City Hall on Tuesday. They can be seen lining the building's front porch, garden area and its sidewalks. (agn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/26/wreaths-for-ahok-reaches-thousand.html

Jakarta's sharia future still long way off

Jakarta Post - April 25, 2017

Agnes Anya and Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – After riding a wave of growing religious conservatism to win the Jakarta gubernatorial election, presumptive governor-elect Anies Baswedan and his running mate, Sandiaga Uno, recently announced a series of policies in favor of Muslims in the city.

However, experts say that the possibility of Jakarta implementing sharia law remains slim.

During the celebration of Isra' Mi'raj at At-Tin Mosque in Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII), East Jakarta, on Monday, Anies told the congregation that he would enable Muslims to use the National Monument (Monas) park in Central Jakarta for tabligh akbar (mass prayers), something that was prohibited by current Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, whose electability took a severe beating following blasphemy charges made against him.

Ahok said earlier that based on a presidential decree, Monas should be sterile as it was classified as a "first ring" area. However, Anies said the government should have allowed the park to be used for religious purposes.

"The first principle of Pancasila states the absoluteness of God. Therefore, religious events should be supported by the administration," Anies said.

Furthermore, Anies said he would allow residents to hold takbiran (recital of the greatness of God) in public and open spaces during Idul Fitri, while Ahok suggested residents hold such events in mosques only.

He also said that he would enable residents to slaughter animals in schools during the celebration of Idul Adha (the Islamic day of sacrifice), something that was banned by Ahok on the back of sanitation and health concerns.

Last week, Anies reiterated his campaign promise to close the Alexis hotel in North Jakarta, known for its on-site strip club and commercial sex services.

After cracking down on entertainment venues that are deemed to contravene religious values, Sandiaga said that he would like to attract foreign Muslim tourists to the city by promoting religious tours with sharia-based entertainment in Jakarta.

Sandiaga explained that he wanted to hold a festival that would be adopted from Dubai's night life. In the festival, he added, there would be mass prayers to the Prophet Muhammad, Islamic learning forums, and ta'aruf – an Islamic process of couples getting to know each other.

Despite showing partiality to a particular religion, activists and experts say that Jakartans should not be worried that the city will be turned into a form of Aceh, the only province in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes sharia law.

Human rights watchdog Setara Institute deputy chairman Bonar Tigor Naipospos said that Anies and Sandiaga's programs would be unlikely to affect the city's plurality.

"We need to see to what extent Anies and Sandiaga draft policies that accommodate Islamic hardliners, as well as making connections with them," said Bonar.

Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) researcher Arya Fernandes echoed Bonar, saying the promises were only their strategies to win over Muslim voters.

"[But] in the future, Anies and Sandiaga will probably go for the middle and accommodate all [groups] and no longer take sides with one particular group," said Arya.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/25/jakartas-sharia-future-still-long-way-off.html

Jakarta governor Ahok invokes Finding Nemo in blasphemy trial defence

Sydney Morning Herald - April 25, 2017

Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies, Jakarta – Beleaguered outgoing Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has revealed an unexpected source of inspiration as he fights allegations of insulting Islam: a small clownfish called Nemo.

A week after losing the gubernatorial election to former education minister Anies Baswedan, the maverick governor known to all as Ahok mounted a typically unorthodox and allegorical defence in his blasphemy trial in the North Jakarta District Court.

He told of inviting kindergarten children to watch a scene from the animated film Finding Nemo in his office last April after they asked him: "Why are you going against the current, against everybody?"

"I explained the moral message of the movie," Ahok said. "If you swim upward, you will go into the net. Most fish swim upward. So Nemo must swim against the current. It is the same.

"We must go against the current. Although many are dishonest, it's fine, as long as we keep being honest. It does not matter if no one says thanks for what we have done for them."

Ahok, who is Christian and ethnically Chinese, is on trial for allegedly insulting Islam.The blasphemy allegations, which many analysts believe were trumped up, spring from reckless comments he made to fishermen from the Jakarta regency of Thousand Islands in September last year.

Ahok told the fishermen that clerics had used verse 51 of a sura, or chapter, of the Koran called al-Maida – which some people interpret to mean that Muslims should not be led by non-Muslims – to "deceive" them into not voting for him.

The allegations and subsequent blasphemy trial proved catastrophic for his re-election bid despite polls showing that Jakartans were overwhelmingly satisfied with the reformist governor's performance in office.

Ahok was defeated on April 19 following an ugly sectarian campaign and widespread anti-Chinese vilification. He faces a maximum four years' jail, although prosecutors have not requested that he be imprisoned.

In their sentence demand, delivered a day after Ahok's greater-than-anticipated loss in the election, prosecutors said they accepted he did not intend to blaspheme against any religion.

They asked that he be given two years' probation for the lesser charge of inciting hostility against a group of people.

Ahok said poet Goenawan Mohamad, the former editor-in-chief of investigative magazine Tempo, had written that he was a victim of slander.

"He did not insult Islam, but the charge had been continuously repeated. If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes 'the truth,' the Nazi's propaganda chief used to say," Goenawan wrote.

"We hear it at mosques, in social media, in everyday conversations; the allegation has been turned into a conviction."

Ahok said his only intention when addressing the fishermen that fateful day in September was to encourage them to participate in a fishery program.

No doubt Ahok hopes the judges will be as persuaded of his arguments as the kindergarten children apparently were of his Finding Nemo morality lesson.

"After that the kindergarten children clapped their hands," Ahok told the court. "Their applause was a consolation for me to continue doing what is right, just like Nemo the fish. If one asks: 'Who are you?' I would say I am just like the little Nemo fish amid Jakartans to help the poor. Although I was insulted, because of my faith I just keep working."

Anies Baswedan will take over as governor in October. The judges will deliver their verdict and sentencing in Ahok's blasphemy trial on May 9.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/jakarta-governor-ahok-invokes-finding-nemo-in-blasphemy-trial-defence-20170425-gvs3zn.html

Indonesia: Ahok – Polarising as ever despite being voted out

Asian Correspondent - April 25, 2017

Max Walden – "I did not insult any group whatsoever," asserted Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama at the resumption of his blasphemy trial on Tuesday.

As his court case draws to a close, Ahok told prosecutors he felt he had been unfairly treated after being reported for blasphemy regarding comments he made last September about the Quranic verse Al Maidah 51 which deals with whether Muslims may elect a non-Muslim.

"Just like a Nazi propagandist, a lie which is told over and over again will become truth," he told the court on Tuesday, reported the Australian Associated Press.

"We heard it over the mosques, over social media, in daily conversation. What's been suspected has become confirmation."

Having been defeated in Wednesday's gubernatorial election to his opponent Anies Baswedan, Ahok returned to court to hear the prosecution's demands on Thursday.

Prosecutors downgraded their charge to harassment from the original crime of blasphemy, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in Indonesia. They called for Ahok to be put on two years' probation period with a possible one-year jail sentence if he reoffends within that time.

They cited the governor's "huge contribution" to Jakarta as a reason for reducing the desired punishment.

As Ahok faced court yet again on Tuesday, state prosecutor Ali Mukartono stated "Ahok acted politely during hearings, participated in the development of Jakarta and the public disturbance (he is accused of causing) was partly due to a person named Buni Yani."

Many moderates had hoped Ahok's loss in the Jakarta poll would temper efforts to unseat him and see him jailed for his allegedly blasphemous comments regarding Al Maidah 51. Hardline groups have even called for Ahok to be hung.

As with all previous sessions of Ahok's case, the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) were in attendance this time to reject the prosecution's call for a relatively lenient sentence and demand the maximum five years' jail-time under Indonesia's blasphemy legislation.

The FPI also issued a list of "ten crimes" by the prosecution, including they had "defended Ahok by claiming he does not despise religion." The group also called for the Indonesia's Attorney-General HM Prasetyo to be fired.

Associate professor Greg Fealy from the Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University wrote last week "Ahok shouldn't escape criticism. His advisors and supporters had long pleaded with him not to speak on sensitive Islamic issues, but he was heedless."

But at city hall on Tuesday, supporters flocked to wish Ahok well and thank him for working hard during his time in Jakarta's top job.

A sign outside Jakarta city hall reads "Thank you Pak Ahok for your hard work all this time. You are a true leader. We love you and we will miss you. From those of us who can't move on yet" on April 25, 2017. Source: Twitter @praw

Meanwhile, it was reported on Tuesday FPI leader Habib Rizieq Shibab has again refused to cooperate with police regarding pornography charges against him.

Viva reports Rizieq did not observe a summons by Jakarta police because he had pre-existing engagements – presumably to attend Ahok's trial. Rizieq, who is married, stands accused of sending and receiving lewd text messages to treason suspect Firza Husein.

Indonesia's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is reported to be considering another Cabinet reshuffle after Ahok's loss. While he remained neutral in his comments during the election campaign, the former running mates remain close political allies.

"Indonesia needs to avoid divisive issues such as race, religion and ethnicity to win elections," Jokowi told The Wall Street Journal last week, "we need to focus on policy issues and programmes."

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/04/australia-far-right-candidate-kidnapped-children-wouldnt/

Jakarta election a victory for the people: MPR chief

Jakarta Post - April 24, 2017

Jakarta – The chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), Zulkifli Hasan, has described the Jakarta gubernatorial election as proof of the victory of the people in today's democracy.

"The Jakarta election was a victory of the people and a victory for democracy," he said in a discussion of the Four Pillars of MPR RI at Pondok Pesantren Daarul Arqam, Majalengka, West Java, on Monday.

Zulkifli, who is also the chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), which supported governor-elect Anies Baswedan in the race, said he was grateful that the election was peaceful and safe, proving the strong bonds among the people of the country.

"We are grateful that the election in Jakarta was safe and peaceful. After I voted I went around, there was no noise, there was no argument. It turned out we were just being attacked in a propaganda war, but our people are brothers to each other," he said.

Discussing nationalism in the event, Zulkfili quoted the late Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) leader Hasyim Muzadi who said that diversity was the hallmark of Indonesia. Therefore, he continued, it was important for the people to care for national unity. (dis/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/24/jakarta-election-a-victory-for-the-people-mpr-chief.html

After big win in Jakarta, Gerindra targets 2019 presidential election

Jakarta Globe - April 23, 2017

Jakarta – The Great Indonesia Movement Party, or Gerindra, the main backer of Anies Baswedan's run for governorship in Jakarta, is optimistic about its chances of winning the 2019 presidential election after quick count results pointed to a comprehensive win for Anies and running mate Sandiaga Uno.

"Anies's win in Jakarta increases Gerindra's chance to win the next presidential election as well," Gerindra West Java Deputy Chairman Anggawira said on Sunday (23/04), as quoted by Beritasatu.

According to a survey on approval ratings for political parties released on Friday by pollster PolMark Indonesia, Gerindra came second in political electability with 16.1 percent of the respondents saying they would vote for a Gerindra candidate in the 2019 presidential election.

The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) was slightly ahead in the poll with a rating of 16.9 percent.

Gerindra currently holds 73 out of 560 seats in the House of Representatives (DPR). Anggawira said the PolMark survey shows Gerindra has earned the trust of the public which the party will translate into real political support.

Anggawira is confident Gerindra can double the number of its DPR seats after the 2019 general election.

"The public has seen Gerindra's commitment to clean politics. There isn't even one member of parliament from Gerindra who is involved in a corruption case," Anggawira said.

Despite Anggawira's claim, records shows that Gerindra's Jakarta city councilor M. Sanusi was arrested by KPK, Indonesia's anti-graft agency, after reportedly receiving a kickback from a property company in the controversial North Jakarta reclamation project.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/big-win-jakarta-gerindra-targets-2019-presidential-election/

It wasn't just religious hatred that cost Ahok the Jakarta vote

Asian Correspondent - April 22, 2017

Max Walden – "Destiny is in God's hands," said Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on Wednesday night as he conceded the Jakarta gubernatorial election. "God gives power and God also takes it away."

Even until the bitter end, religion defined the race for the next leader of Indonesia's capital.

Ever since September last year when Christian Ahok made comments regarding the Quran whilst campaigning in Jakarta's Thousand Islands, hardline Islamic groups spearheaded a mass movement to topple the incumbent.

Ahok a controversial figure, irrespective of religion

Indonesia's vice president Jusuf Kalla said Friday he was disappointed with the foreign media's depiction of the Jakarta election as a win for conservative Islam and religious intolerance.

Jusuf wasn't wrong to say so. Headlines everywhere after Wednesday's divisive contest said votes were driven by religious sentiment and the entire showdown was a referendum on the future of ethno-religious diversity in the world's most populous Muslim country.

But it's also impossible to deny the whipping up of religious fervour by hardline groups was a vital factor Ahok's unceremonious fall from power.

A post-election survey by Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting, a credible pollster, showed that 32.4 percent of Anies voters had chosen the candidate because they were the same religion as him. Literally zero percent of Ahok voters said the same (notwithstanding that many of Ahok's voters are, of course, Muslim.)

Despite the catapulting of religious issues to the centre of the Jakartan election, however, it was not only sectarian concerns that brought down the second-ever non-Muslim, Chinese governor in the city's history.

Because here's another vital factor: Ahok was not loved by everybody. His detractors and opponents were from a broad spectrum of Jakarta's diverse population, not only ultra-conservative Muslims who hated him based on identity politics.

Human rights activists opposed the governor for his unapologetic regime of large-scale evictions of slum dwellers to make way for development.

Ahok continues to unapologetically defend this policy, even though swathes of the poor who supported him in 2012 became Anies devotees after being forcibly relocated from the neighbourhoods they had lived in for generations, stripping them of their livelihoods. They felt angry and betrayed.

Even after losing the election on Friday, Ahok declared at city hall that "normalisation" of the Ciliwang River would continue. Further communities would be relocated upon completion of rusun public housing flats currently under construction that can accommodate 2,000 residents, he said.

Besides that, many simply disliked Ahok because they perceived him as arrogant and rude – undesirable qualities in a country like Indonesia where politeness and etiquette are paramount.

Some among the Chinese-Indonesian minority group worried that Ahok's brash style and controversial comments regarding the Quran had fanned further xenophobic sentiment against their community.

A lot of people no doubt chose their candidate based on policy, not identity. One image shared during the campaign read, "We are of Chinese descent, we are non-Muslim, we choose Anies-Sandi because the business climate will be more conducive if Anies-Sandi win."

Anies-Sandi ran an effective campaign, Ahok-Djarot did not

It is also worth remembering that Ahok was never in the first place chosen as governor, rather coming to power after Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was elected president in 2014.

From square one, he ultimately lacked a popular mandate for his robust policy agenda of reforming the civil service and cleaning up corruption, addressing Jakarta's systemic problems with traffic and flooding.

For too long during the campaign, Ahok's team misjudged the power of his record in office to win votes. Their strategy was to emphasise the governor's achievements in reducing floods, building public transport links and improving quality of life.

But given that three quarters of Jakarta's population approved of Ahok's leadership in office, however that he couldn't win 50 percent of the popular vote, signals the potency of other concerns.

It was only late in the campaign that Ahok and running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat's team released material aimed at pulling Jakarta residents' heartstrings – unleashing a series of videos that appealed to Indonesia's nationalism and core values of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika – unity in diversity.

"Ahok failed to run a savvy and cohesive campaign," concluded Erin Cook in the Lowy Interpreter this week.

Assuming it was merely religious intolerance and racism that led to Ahok's loss denies the strengths of Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno's campaign.

As a former academic and one of Indonesia's most successful businessmen, respectively, Anies and Sandiaga are widely respected, and regarded by many as charming, intelligent and articulate personalities.

Their political style no doubt particularly appealed to upper middle class Muslims in their wealthy, Muslim-majority heartland in South Jakarta.

But the extent of their popularity is highlighted by the fact that on Wednesday, they even won the most votes in North Jakarta, known for its significant ethnic Chinese population.

What's more, the pair's "Oke Oce" campaign was also clever and catchy, appealing to a broad range of voters from millennials to baby boomers alike.

So while it's true the coordinated campaign against Ahok that successfully mainstreamed sectarian discourse played its part in his defeat, even without accusations of blasphemy and mass mobilisation in the streets by hardline religious groups, he may well have lost anyway.

Pak Ahok isn't going anywhere

But though he lost the capital's coveted crown, all is not lost for supporters of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

Appearing in court the day after the election, he has likely been spared prison time due to prosecutor's downgrading of his charges from blasphemy to harassment. They called for reduced punishment due to Ahok's "huge contribution" to Jakarta.

What's more, Ahok is widely tipped to become a minister in his former running mate Jokowi's Cabinet. One optimistic Ahok supporter tweeted on Tuesday that "remember tomorrow you're all voting for Ahok to be governor or to become a minister."

While the president remained neutral in his statements during the Jakarta election campaign, the two are today still close political allies.

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/04/wasnt-just-religious-hatred-cost-ahok-jakarta-vote/

Jakarta polls a proxy for 2019 Jokowi v Prabowo race

Straits Times - April 22, 2017

Francis Chan – The dust has yet to settle on Wednesday's election in Jakarta, but the political narrative has already gone national, shifting to Indonesia's presidential race even though it is not due until 2019.

President Joko Widodo has so far remained silent about the defeat of Mr Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, but the loss to opposition-backed Anies Baswedan has inevitably raised questions on his own prospects for re-election.

Mr Basuki, better known by his Chinese nickname Ahok, is a close ally of Mr Joko. He had served as deputy governor and inherited the top job at City Hall after Mr Joko was elected president three years ago.

Mr Anies was a spokesman for Mr Joko during his election campaign and later appointed culture and education minister, but he was unceremoniously sacked in July last year.

Two months later, Mr Anies announced that he was running against Mr Basuki on a ticket backed by Mr Joko's old rival, Mr Prabowo Subianto. It is no secret that the former general is still itching for another run at the election he narrowly lost to Mr Joko in the 2014 race.

"If I have the people's support, and if my health allows it, I will run again," the opposition Gerindra Party chief said recently.

That signal of intent, which came just days before the first round of voting in February, all but confirmed the belief that the gubernatorial election was really a proxy contest for the presidential race between Mr Joko and Mr Prabowo.

All signs point to Mr Prabowo consolidating not just the financial backing but also the support of the political and religious elites that he needs to challenge Mr Joko.

On the night of Mr Anies' assumed victory, Mr Prabowo, in an open courtship of Muslim conservatives, acknowledged hardline cleric Rizieq Shihab for, of all things, "saving Indonesia's democracy".

As leader of the Islamic Defenders' Front, Mr Rizieq had mobilised thousands of Muslims to march against Mr Basuki, who is Chinese and Christian, and facing charges for insulting Islam.

Mr Rizieq's ability to call up a mob almost on demand will not be lost on Mr Prabowo as he prepares for a second bid for the Istana.

Playing the religion card to win elections in Indonesia, particularly outside Jakarta, has become more common and acceptable, said some observers. Even the son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Mr Agus Harimurti, courted the Muslim vote before he failed to make the final run-off for Jakarta governor in February.

Dr Yudhoyono's Democratic Party is also expected to feature at the next presidential election, either by fielding a candidate or playing the role of kingmaker. The rising influence of Islam in Indonesian politics will pose serious problems for Mr Joko, a Muslim who once had to fend off rumours that his mother was Christian.

Experts suggest that he will need to strengthen his ties with moderate Muslim groups such as Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, and tighten his alliances with Islamic political parties.

"Losing Jakarta as a result of these tactics has sent a chilling message to Jokowi and his Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), long perceived as the personification of the political vehicle for non-Muslim and secular voters," wrote Mr Rendi Witular, a senior editor at The Jakarta Post, yesterday.

"Jokowi is exposed to greater risk in his attempts to get re-elected, unless he succeeds in neutralising the proliferating sectarian playbook."

Jokowi is a popular moniker often used to refer to Mr Joko. Some analysts believe Mr Anies' victory at the polls may fracture Mr Joko's ruling coalition led by the PDI-P, and open the door for other centres of power to emerge, or lead to a resurgence of the old political elite in Jakarta.

It will also not be lost on his coalition members and rivals that despite a high approval rating, the President was unable to influence the result of the Jakarta election.

On the other hand, Mr Prabowo will undoubtedly claim Mr Anies' win as the people's endorsement for his own candidacy in 2019.

Mr Emirza Adi Syailendra, a researcher from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said: "The opposition led by Gerindra will likely start to raise issues to undermine the cohesion of Jokowi's coalition, as Prabowo lays the groundwork for his presidential election.

"Jokowi has to drive a hard bargain to keep his coalition members from gravitating towards either Prabowo's or Yudhoyono's camp."

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/jakarta-polls-a-proxy-for-2019-jokowi-v-prabowo-race

Treason, sedition & state ideology

AJI Jakarta condemns media mogul Hary Tanoe over police report

Jakarta Post - April 28, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta chapter of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) denounced United Indonesia Party (Perindo) chairman Hary Tanoesoedibjo's decision to report online media tirto.id to the Jakarta Police over alleged slander.

"If Hary Tanoe felt tirto.id's news coverage had damaged his reputation, instead of reporting it to the police, he should have used the proper avenues – as mandated [by the 1999 Press Law] – to respond. He could either use his right to reply or report the media company to the Indonesian Press Council," AJI Jakarta chairman Ahmad Nurhasim said as quoted by tempo.co on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Hary Tanoe reported tirto.id to the police for alleged slander over of an article it published titled, "Ahok used as a pretext for attacks against the government." In it, the MNC Group chief was mentioned as the main instigator of anti-government attacks.

The article, written by freelance American journalist Allan Nairn, was released on April 19, the same day as Jakarta's gubernatorial runoff election.

Hasim said Hary's move to report tirto.id to the police could threaten press freedom in Indonesia. Indonesian business tycoons who control media companies do not understand the meaning of press freedom and journalistic principles as regulated by the 1999 Press Law, he added.

Hasim said Hary should have provided a positive example in resolving media-related disputes. It was clearly stipulated in the law that if a media-related dispute could not be resolved with the right to issue a reply, it could be settled via mediation at the Press Council, he added. (dis/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/28/aji-jakarta-condemns-media-mogul-hary-tanoe-over-police-report.html

Media mogul files report against investigative journalist Allan Nairn

Jakarta Globe - April 26, 2017

Jakarta – Hary Tanoesoedibjo, an Indonesian media mogul and chairman of the Indonesian Unity Party, or Perindo, filed a police report on Tuesday (25/04) against an article written by senior investigative journalist Allan Nairn which mentions Hary as one of the main supporters in an alleged treason plot against President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration.

Nairn's story alleged that Hary provided funds to the plotters and supported them by skewing the reporting of the group to their advantage on his MNC Group TV station, newspaper and online news outlets.

Perindo's defense team leader Christophorus Taufik said Nairn's piece, translated and published in an abridged form by local online media Tirto.id, was a hoax. "The article is slander," Christophorus said at the Jakarta Police headquarters in South Jakarta on Tuesday.

"It must have been written by someone had just woken up from his dream of being a spy. It's delusional. But we're not taking it lightly, this has gone too far as a joke," the lawyer added.

The report was filed to the police's special crime investigation unit, accusing Nairn of violating Article 310 of the Criminal Code on slander through electronic media and Article 311 on Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) – Indonesia's draconian internet law.

Jakarta Police spokesman Chief Comr. Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono said the report has been received and the police have already initiated a preliminary investigation. "We've got the report. It's under investigation," Argo said.

Allan Nairn is an award-winning US investigative journalist who has had several run-ins with the Indonesian military over his coverage of its brutal occupation of East Timor.

His article, originally titled "Trump's Indonesian Allies in Bed With Isis-backed Militia Seeking to Oust Elected President," detailed an alleged plot by former and current members of the military, as well as various political elites and prominent businessmen to use the protests against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama to oust Jokowi's administration.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/media-mogul-files-report-investigative-journalist-allan-nairn/

Indonesia military denies Ahok protests part of army-backed plot to oust

Asian Correspondent - April 22, 2017

From the ashes of the recent Jakarta poll has arisen a story of an insidious behind-the-scenes campaign to overthrow Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, but the country's military, whose members have been linked to the plot, has quickly moved to stop its spread.

On Friday, The Jakarta Post quoted a statement from the military denying the campaign allegedly backed by US President Donald Trump's Indonesian associates, retired and current army generals and a local Islamic hardliner movement.

The statement also said local news site Tirto would be reported to the police for republishing an Indonesian version of the story that first appeared earlier this week in The Intercept, a US-based independent online magazine that publishes stories from whistleblower sources.

Tirto, said the military, should be "investigated and proceeded against in line with existing laws" for publishing a story that was either "not true" or a "hoax".

In The Intercept story, Indonesia-based journalist Allan Cairn [sic – should be Nairn] claimed to be in possession of numerous intelligence reports that he said, along with interviews he conducted, pointed to the existence of such a plot against Jokowi.

He wrote that apart from retired and current army generals and the IS-linked hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (PFI), prominent supporters of the movement simply called "the coup" include Fadli Zon, vice speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives, and Hary Tanoe, Trump's business partner who is building two Trump resorts in the country.

Most notably, he claimed many in the know have dismissed the movement against Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and the stirring of religious hatred over the Christian governor's blasphemy slip-up last year as mere pretext for a larger objective, specifically:

"Sidelining the country's president, Jokowi, and helping the army avoid consequences for its mass killings of civilians – such as the 1965 massacres that were endorsed by the US government, which armed and backed the Indonesian military."

Citing an interview with retired Gen Kivlan Zein Kivlan, the man who helped FPI organise last year's anti-Ahok protest, Cairn wrote the blasphemy case was merely a "gift" that came along at an opportune time.

He said he was surprised by Kivlan's offhanded remark that Ahok's comments regarding the Quran – the comment that led to his blasphemy trial – were merely a "slip of the tongue".

"The required public stance of movement leaders was to claim to be forever wounded by Ahok's remark asking people not to be deceived by rivals trying to use a Quranic verse against him.

"But here was one of them," Cairn wrote, referring to Kivlan, "with a small smile – acknowledging that strategically Ahok's statement was welcome, because it had enabled the FPI and its sponsors to shift the balance of power inside the state, elevate themselves from street killers to theologians, and alter the cultural climate to boot.

"And here he was, accepting that the fateful remark was 'a slip of the tongue'."

Another interviewee of Cairn's reportedly backed the claim. Retired Adm Soleman Ponto, who is not a supporter of the so-called coup movement, said the Ahok issue was merely a religious hook to gain mass support but, "Jokowi is their final destination."

As a result of the protests against Ahok and a fatigued campaign, the minority Christian governor lost the Jakarta poll on Wednesday, conceding defeat to rival Anies Baswedan, a successful businessman backed by Hary.

Cairn also cited five Indonesian intelligence reports discussing the source of FPI's funds, one of which claimed some originated from Tommy Suharto, the son of former dictator Suharto. Kivlan, wrote the journalist, confirmed this to be true.

Another report said some funds came from Trump's billionaire business partner Hary. Cairn claimed he sat with several of the movement's key figures who said Hary was one of their most important supporters.

A third report said FPI's funds came from former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). SBY, however, has denied this.

On the movement's likely overthrow tactic, Cairn quoted Soleman saying it would not be an army assault on the palace in a straight coup d'etat but more a "a coup d'etat by law".

The possible scenarios are that FPI-led protestors would enter palace and congress grounds and set up camp there until someone made them leave. The army would then "do nothing" and let the president fall.

Another possibility is that the FPI-led rallies would get out of hand and the army would then step in to assume control. This particular scenario, Cairn wrote, was painted to him in finer detail during on-the-record interviews he had with movement leaders Ustad Muhammad Khattath and Haji Usamah Hisyam.

Asian Correspondent has not been able to verify the credibility of The Intercept's report.

According to Cairn, however, "This account of the movement to overthrow President Jokowi is based on dozens of interviews and is supplemented by internal army, police and intelligence documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Many sources on both sides of the coup spoke on condition of anonymity. Two of them expressed apparently well-founded concerns about their safety."

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/04/indonesia-military-denies-ahok-protests-part-army-backed-plot-oust-jokowi/

Environment & natural disasters

Planting mangroves to save W. Kalimantan's beaches from erosion: WWF

Jakarta Post - April 22, 2017

Severianus Endi, Pontianak, West Kalimantan – Earth Day, which was celebrated globally on April 22, has become a crucial way for World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Indonesia to alert various parties about the erosion currently threatening beaches in West Kalimantan.

Data released by WWF Indonesia's West Kalimantan program shows 193 kilometers of coastal areas in the northern part of the province have suffered damage from erosion and high tides since 2012.

"Mangrove restoration efforts need to be taken to tackle the situation. Apart from protecting the coastal areas, restoring mangroves will make positive impacts on society, ecologically, socially and economically," WWF Indonesia-Kalimantan's program manager, Albert Tjiu, said in Pontianak on Friday.

Since 2009, WWF Indonesia has worked with its nine partner groups to periodically restore northern coastal areas, 55.25 hectares of land, with mangrove trees. With wider mangrove coverage, various plants and animals can be found in the areas.

"The mangrove areas have begun to become a prime tourism destination that supports the economy of people in their surrounding areas. This is like what has been conducted by Mempawah Mangrove Conservation in Mempawah regency and the conservation group, Surya Perdana Mandiri, in Singkawang City," said Albert.

This year, he said, mangrove planting conducted by various stakeholders was focused on green-shield areas, such as Gosong Beach in Bengkayang regency and Setapuk Besar and Kuala districts in Singkawang City.

The Environmental Care Community (Kopling) Gosong Beach is holding a three-day camp-out and mangrove planting program from April 21 to 23. About 500 participants of the program will plant about 2,000 of the 10,000 mangrove seedlings planned for planting in 2017. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/22/planting-mangroves-to-save-w-kalimantans-beaches-from-erosion-wwf.html

LBGT & same-sex marriage

Rejection of LGBT students by Andalas University sparks controversy

Jakarta Post - April 30, 2017

Jakarta – A decision by Andalas University in Padang, West Sumatra, not to let lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) students enrol has triggered controversy online.

According to the state university's website, candidates who have passed the admission test are required to fill out and sign a form declaring that they are not openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Although the campus removed that requirement from its website yesterday, screenshots of it have circulated widely on the internet, prompting a pro and contra debate among netizens.

"If the requirement is true, then Andalas University has [banned] LGBT people from education," a netizen commented through the @daprast twitter timeline.

On the contrary, hashtag #DukungUnandTolakLGBT that supports the LGBT ban from the campus has gone viral in twitter-land and was re-tweeted more than 750 times on Saturday afternoon.

The hashtag was started by an account using the handle @ParemanBagak, with one tweet from the account reading: "LGBT is abnormal. Don't let your future generation live in such an abnormal environment. Eliminate LGBT and cure them!"

Another account, @donvitodominic, condemned the hashtag and Andalas' policy, saying: "How can someone's sexual orientation be the benchmark of whether they deserve an education or not?" and "Instead of #DukungUnandTolakLGBT it's better to try and help to stop poverty, corruption and small-minded people."

Andalas University has not yet responded when asked to comment by The Jakarta Post via phone and WhatsApp.(hol/dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/30/rejection-of-lgbt-students-by-andalas-university-sparks-controversy.html

Governor hopeful says you can be LGBTI just don't put it on social media

Gay Star News - April 25, 2017

Shannon Power – A rising political star in Indonesia has said he does not want LGBTI people flaunting their lives on social.

Ridwan Kamil is currently the mayor of Bandung the capital city of Indonesia's West Java province. He is rising in the political ranks and was slated as a potential rival to Jakarta's outgoing governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – also known as Ahok – in the recent election.

Political commentators have said Kamil is likely to run in the 2018 West Java gubernatorial elections. But advocates are concerned about his comments on LGBTI issues.

Earlier in the year he told Tempo that he does not object to people supporting LGBTI rights, but they should not do it publicly or on social media.

'Speaking personally, basically I am not concerned about their personal affairs. But it becomes a problem when a private matter that cannot be accepted as the norm is published,' Ridwan told Tempo.

'So, if there are publications on an account like that, I would definitely find a way to block it. Social media also has rules on pornography, as it does not fit the norms.'

Ridwan is no stranger to LGBTI gaffes

Although Ridwan is seen as a progressive politician his comments on LGBTI people are worrying for some. Last month, the mayor almost caused an international incident with Thailand when he used transphobic comments against a famous Thai actress.

When actress PunPun Sutatta Udomsilp visited Bandung she posted a photo on her Instagram account praising Kamil. She called him a #BandungChampion and even used his popular nickname Kang Emil.

Kamil then reposted the photo to his own Instagram account saying, 'Regards to this Thai artist. I hope she is not a man'. Following an immediate backlash Kamil was quick to delete his comment and apologize for the 'mixed interpretations' of his post.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/governor-hopeful-says-can-lgbti-just-dont-put-social-media/

Graft & corruption

KPK rebuffs House inquiry

Jakarta Post - April 29, 2017

Mar­guerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has rejected the House of Representatives' decision to launch an inquiry into its investigation into the e-ID graft case, which has implicated dozens of politicians, including House Speaker Setya Novanto.

In a statement on Friday, hours after the House approved the inquiry proposal in a plenary session, KPK deputy chairman Laode Muhammad Syarief said the inquiry would undermine its investigation into the case.

"Any attempt that could hamper corruption investigations, including the e-ID case and the perjury case [of former lawmaker Miryam S. Haryani], will be rejected by the KPK," he said.

The House's plan to exercise its legislative rights of inquiry was approved during Friday's plenary meeting led by House deputy speaker Fahri Hamzah, a long time critic of the anti-graft body, despite opposition from several factions.

The inquiry has largely been seen as another attempt by the House to weaken the KPK, one of the most credible institutions in the country that has sent dozens of politicians, including party leaders, to prison for graft.

Fahri said after the plenary meeting that the House would proceed with the formation of a special committee to carry out the inquiry.

"The special committee's establishment will wait until after May 17, the beginning of the new sitting period," Fahri said. The House will be in recess from April 29 to May 17.

Lawmakers have argued that the inquiry is meant to make the KPK transparent. "The inquiry will probe the KPK's authority and its execution of duties based on Article 5 of the 2002 KPK Law, which stipulates that in carrying out its duties, the KPK is based on legal certainty, openness, accountability, public interest and proportionality," NasDem Party lawmaker Taufiqulhadi said.

The inquiry, however, appears to be mainly aimed at forcing the KPK to release interview records with Miryam, in which she mentioned the alleged roles of a number of lawmakers in the e-ID graft case. During a hearing with the KPK last Wednesday, House Commission III overseeing legal affairs requested that the agency play the interview records.

"If all the evidence is disclosed, it will hamper the legal process and affect the handling of the e-ID graft case," Laode said.

In an e-ID hearing at the Jakarta Corruption Court a month ago, Miryam, who was under oath, retracted all statements she made during the interrogation in question, claiming she had been intimidated by KPK investigators during the interrogation.

Top KPK investigator Novel Baswedan, who was hospitalized following an acid attack, denied Miryam's claims, saying that during the interrogation, Miryam instead claimed that at least five lawmakers had intimidated her after informing the KPK about the alleged distribution of illicit kickbacks related to the Rp 5.9 trillion (US$442.5 million) project to lawmakers.

The KPK named Miryam a perjury suspect on April 5 and put her on its most-wanted list on Thursday after she failed to fulfill two summonses.

The Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) lamented the House's approval of the inquiry, saying that the voting in the plenary meeting was invalid since it did not adhere to the mechanism stipulated under Article 199 (3) of the 2014 law on legislative institutions.

The law stipulates that inquiry rights can be passed should a plenary meeting receive the approval of more than half of House members and the decision is made with approval from more than half of House members present.

"[Fahri] ignored interruptions from House members who refused to approve the inquiry proposal. Many legislators walked out and did not participate in the voting," ICW legal researcher Lalola Easter said. "The KPK doesn't have to attend the forum [of inquiry] as it is illegal and legally flawed."

Friday was not the first time the country saw the public raise concerns over the House's efforts to weaken the KPK. The House decided previously to revive a plan to defang the KPK by revising the 2002 KPK Law. The proposed revisions also include the establishment of a KPK supervisory body, the revocation of the KPK's sole right to wiretap, restrictions on hiring independent investigators and the requirements to drop a case. (mrc)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/29/KPK-rebuffs-house-inquiry.html

House approves right of inquiry request against KPK

Jakarta Post - April 28, 2017

Jakarta – The House of Representatives gave a green light for the implementation of inquiry rights against the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) during a plenary session on Friday.

Although several political party factions voiced their rejection, the plenary session approved the move, which was initially proposed by 25 members from eight out of 10 factions.

"Can this inquiry right proposal be agreed to?" asked House deputy speaker Fahri Hamzah, who led the session. "Agree," they said. The three factions that rejected the proposal were the Democratic Party, the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the Gerindra Party.

Lawmaker Erma Suryani Rani of the Dems said the implementation of the inquiry right had the potential to weaken the KPK both in its law enforcement and corruption eradication efforts.

"The Democratic Party doesn't believe it's the right time to exercise the inquiry right. Hence, our faction declared 'disagree'," she said as quoted by kompas.com.

Erma acknowledged it was important for the House to clarify the commission's work performance; however, it did not need to use its inquiry right.

Meanwhile, Gerindra Party faction member Martin Hutabarat suggested the House delay its decision on the proposal until the upcoming recess period ended. Martin said he was worried that if the inquiry right was approved now, it would represent the interests of House members only.

"It will trigger a problem. Luckily, today [Friday], we will end our sitting session and enter the recess period. It will be better if we consult with our constituents first," he said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/28/house-approves-right-of-inquiry-request-against-KPK.html

KPK puts Miryam on its most-wanted list

Jakarta Post - April 27, 2017

Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Thursday put perjury suspect Miryam S. Haryani on its most-wanted list (DPO).

The former member of the House of Representatives is accused of having given false statements in March when she testified as a witness in an e-ID case hearing for defendants Irman and Sugiharto, two former Home Ministry officials.

"We sent a letter on the matter to the National Police today," KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah said as quoted by Antara at the anti-graft body's headquarters in Jakarta on Thursday.

He said the KPK had also asked the police to arrest Miryam. "Once she is arrested, she will be handed over to the KPK and we will coordinate further [with the police]."

Febri said the KPK had summoned Miryam to attend a questioning session as a suspect. The commission also agreed to reschedule the questioning after her lawyers said the Hanura Party politician could not fulfill the summons because she was ill.

However, the suspect has yet to show up for any kind of questioning. Thus, the KPK believed it needed to issue a DPO letter.

"Should anyone have information on her whereabouts, they can convey it to the nearest police station because we have sent the DPO letter to the National Police," Febri said.

The KPK has searched her house in Tanjung Barat, South Jakarta, her lawyer's office on Jl. Rasuna Said, South Jakarta, and houses belonging to two witnesses in Lenteng Agung, South Jakarta, and Pondok Aren, South Tangerang. (mrc/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/27/KPK-puts-miryam-on-its-most-wanted-list.html

As KPK delves into BLBI, Jokowi says it was not Megawati's fault

Jakarta Post - April 26, 2017

Haeril Halim, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo shrugged off suggestions saying that the ongoing investigation into the 2002 Bank Indonesia liquidity support (BLBI) case could implicate former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, who is also the chairwoman of his Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

On Tuesday, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) announced that it had named former Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) chairman Syafruddin Arsyad Temenggung a suspect.

Syafruddin, who was appointed Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) chairman in 2002 when Megawati was president, issued a letter for Sjamsul Nursalim, the owner of Bank Dagang Nasional Indonesia (BDNI), freeing him from the obligation to pay Rp 3.7 trillion (US$277.8 million) in BLBI debt.

Syafruddin's decision was based on Megawati's instruction in December 2002, regulating the "release and discharge" letters, freeing recipients of the funds of the obligation to fully pay the debts.

"It's different. The most important thing is to distinguish what is a policy and what is the implementation," Jokowi said when asked by journalists about the case on Wednesday.

"Presidential decisions, presidential regulations and presidential instructions are all policies, intended to solve problems. What happened at the implementation level is different. You may need to ask the KPK [about the case]," Jokowi added.

Syafruddin is the first official to be named a suspect in the case. Sjamsul's BDNI received Rp 28 trillion of the BLBI fund and was obligated to return Rp 4.8 trillion, but Syafruddin decided that the bank should only pay Rp 1.1 trillion. (bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/26/as-KPK-delves-into-blbi-jokowi-says-it-was-not-megawatis-fault.html

Police deny being caught in dead-end over acid attack

Jakarta Globe - April 25, 2017

Jakarta – The police have denied their investigation into an acid attack on Novel Baswedan, a senior investigator for the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, has been caught in a dead-end.

"We're investigating all leads. We want the facts, not assumptions," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said in Jakarta on Tuesday (25/04).

Boy denied the investigation has encountered a dead-end. "Each investigation moves at its own pace. We can obtain the facts quickly or slowly, depending on our sources," Boy said.

Novel suffered serious burns to his face after unknown men threw acid on him near his home in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, on April 11. So far, investigators have questioned 19 witnesses in the case.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/police-deny-caught-dead-end-acid-attack/

House inquiry would obstruct e-ID probe: KPK

Jakarta Post - April 22, 2017

Haeril Halim, Jakarta – The political ramifications of the multi-trillion-rupiah e-ID corruption scandal have begun to unfold.

The House of Representatives plans to exercise its legislative right of inquiry in a bid to force the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to release interview records where the alleged roles of a number of lawmakers in the case are said to be mentioned.

The KPK has strongly rejected the demand to release such classified investigation documents in the e-ID case, which has implicated dozens of politicians, high-ranking government officials and businessmen, describing it as a political maneuver to obstruct the investigation.

KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said that submitting the records to the House would hamper KPK investigators' work in delving further into the role of other suspects in the e-ID case, which the commission believes resulted in Rp 2.3 trillion (US$172 million) in state losses.

"I emphasize that the KPK will not open those documents because it risks obstructing the ongoing e-ID probe. We hope [the House] will not drag the legal case into politics," Febri told reporters at KPK headquarters in South Jakarta on Friday.

The documents in question are transcripts and video recordings of the interrogation of Hanura politician and former legislator Miryam S. Haryani.

The anti-graft body has so far named three suspects in the graft case. They are former senior Home Ministry officials Irman and Sugiharto, who are now on trial, as well as businessman Andi Agustinus, aka Andi Narogong.

In a separate but related case, the KPK has named Miryam, a former member of House Commission II overseeing home affairs, a perjury suspect. During an e-ID trial hearing at the Jakarta Corruption Court, Miryam, who was under oath, retracted statements she made during the interrogation in question.

Testifying during another trial hearing of the case, top KPK investigator Novel Baswedan, who has been undergoing medical treatment in Singapore after an acid attack by two unidentified assailants, said that Miryam had confessed during an interrogation that at least five House lawmakers had intimidated her after she revealed to the KPK about the distribution of illicit kickbacks related to the Rp 5.9 trillion project to lawmakers.

The five are the Golkar Party's Aziz Syamsuddin, the Gerindra Party's Desmond J. Mahesa, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle's (PDI-P) Masinton Pasaribu and the Hanura Party's Sarifuddin Sudding, according to Novel.

Describing it as slander after Novel's testimony made headlines, Commission III during a hearing with the KPK on Wednesday, pushed the anti-graft body to reveal Miryam's dossier and the CCTV recording of the KPK interrogation room to substantiate Novel's court testimony.

To strengthen its cause, Commission III is set to launch an inquiry to further push the KPK to comply with the House's demands. However, Febri said the KPK would not succumb to pressure from the House. "An inquiry right should not be used to intervene in a legal case," Febri added.

Commission III chairman Bambang Soesatyo said the KPK needed to release the documents "so we can see whether our names were actually mentioned."

Masinton, meanwhile, argued that exercising the inquiry right was "important to uphold a transparent legal process." Commission III deputy chairman Benny Kabur Harman claimed six out of 10 House factions supported the move.

Gadjah Mada University's (UGM) Corruption Studies Center (PUKAT) director Zainal Arifin Mochtar said an inquiry right was a political tool by the House, the purpose of which was to scrutinize government policy. The right could not be used to investigate law enforcement bodies, he added.

"It is a wrong call and misleading. Investigation documents can only be open in court. Even in the Freedom of Information Law, an investigation document is not included as a public record," he said.

Zainal and activists from the Anti-Corruption Civil Society Group visited the KPK office and met with KPK commissioners on Friday to express their support for fully investigating the e-ID case.

"We believe that the House inquiry initiative is marred by vested interests interfering in the legal process of the e-ID case at the KPK. We call on the House to restrain from intervening in the legal process at the KPK," spokesman for the group, Natalia Subagyo, said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/22/house-inquiry-would-obstruct-e-id-probe-KPK.html

Hard-line & vigilante groups

Citing security concerns, police cancel Hizbut Tahrir event in Bogor

Jakarta Globe - April 24, 2017

Jakarta – The Bogor Police have cancelled the International Caliphate Forum 1438 organized by the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, or HTI, scheduled for Sunday (23/04) at the Az Zikra Mosque in Sentul, Bogor, West Java.

Bogor Police chief Sr. Comr. Adj. A.M. Dicky said in a statement that security requirements were not fulfilled by the organizers of the event that was expected to host at least 500 participants.

"We acted in accordance with standard operating procedures, which require a proposal for an event involving many people to be submitted a week in advance. We did not receive it until now, therefore we had to cancel it," Dicky said on Sunday.

He added that a police permit for this kind of events is required to ensure they run smoothly. "This is not [because of] the event or [its] committee. The cancellation was related only to the permit required to maintain public order," Dicky said.

Earlier, the chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama's youth wing Ansor in Bogor, Rachmat Imron Hidayat, denounced the HTI forum, claiming it was against the unity of Indonesia, as it could be seen as an effort to establish an Islamic state.

"Our sate is based on Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution and Bhineka Tunggal Ika ['unity in diversity']. [...] HTI has been recognized as a mass organization that seeks to overthrow the government by establishing a caliphate in Indonesia," he said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/citing-security-concerns-police-cancel-hizbut-tahrir-event-bogor/

Freedom of religion & worship

Gov't issues public appeal against divisive religious sermons

Jakarta Globe - April 29, 2017

Jakarta – The government issued a public appeal on Friday (28/04), warning against sermons that promote religious or ethnic intolerance in a bid to restore humane values to places of worship across the archipelago.

The issuance comes after months of heightened religious and ethnic tensions in the country leading up to Jakarta's recent gubernatorial election.

Signed by Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, the government's appeal also warned against sermons that promote political ideologies or campaigns.

However, the issuance is not legally binding but is instead aimed at prioritizing "social values" in places of worship in the country, Lukman said.

"Nevertheless, the government will not go to too far in interfering in houses of worship," Lukman told reporters in Jakarta. "The government respects religious autonomy."

Most places of worship in the world's largest Muslim-majority democracy are established and managed by public organizations.

Indonesia has received global praise for its promotion of moderate Islam, though the country has witnessed an increasing number of Muslim hardline groups in recent years.

A series of mass rallies were conducted across the archipelago during Jakarta's gubernatorial election that called for the ouster and arrest of incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese ethnicity.

"I received a lot of complaints of religious institutions spreading disunity and intolerance that could ultimately disintegrate our nation," Lukman said. "A number of places of worship have been rife with things that could spark conflicts."

Friday's appeal contained nine points and was targeted to religious preachers and the broader public. "Sermons should not contrast elements of ethnicity, religion or race, as they can lead to conflicts," the appeal said.

"Sermons should not contain insults against the belief and practice of other congregations, and should avoid provocations to commit discrimination, intimidation or destruction."

"Preachers should measure how their sermons are delivered themselves," Lukman said, emphasizing that the government does not intend to jeopardize religious freedom in the country.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/govt-issues-public-appeal-divisive-religious-sermons/

Islam & religion

Why the world's first women's Islamic cleric congress hosted in W. Java

Jakarta Globe - April 29, 2017

On April 24-27, the Indonesian Women's Ulama Congress, or KUPI, was held in Cirebon, West Java.

The congress was a historic event, the first of its kind in the world. In attendance were over 570 registered participants from over 16 different countries, the vast majority of whom were ulama, or Islamic religious scholars.

Hundreds of activists, academics, experts and observers also flocked to Cirebon to witness the proceedings of the congress.

The congress aimed to acknowledge, celebrate and empower women's ulama, whose contributions to civilization have been largely ignored throughout the years because of gender-biased historiography that has resulted from the dominance of patriarchal culture.

Through the series of events the participants discussed, debated and searched for solutions to some of the current pressing issues that are facing women in Indonesian society and throughout the world today. Issues included environmental degradation, child marriage, religious extremism, sexual violence and protections for migrant workers.

At the close of ceremony, official recommendations were presented by the committee. These recommendations detailed the roles that women's ulama, society and the government can play in working to combat three key issues: Child marriage, environmental degradation and sexual violence.

In attendance at the closing ceremony was Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakmin Saefuddin, who voiced his appreciation and pride for the congress.

The minister received the recommendations made by the women's ulama, and promised to raise the issue of child marriage with the government. Child marriage in Indonesia remains widespread with around one in five girls being married before the age of 18.

While the vast majority of ulama in attendance at the congress were in fact women, the term "women's ulama" is gender neutral.

The word "ulama" is mentioned throughout the Koran and a number of Hadith texts. Linguistically, ulama is the plural of the Arabic word "alim," meaning a knowledgeable or learned person.

Socially, the term ulama refers to religious leaders who have an advanced understanding of the sources of Islam and act to enlighten people in the community.

Building on this the term, "women's ulama" refers to ulama who work towards gender equality and the empowerment of women, utilizing gender perspective in their teachings and day to day lives.

As a part of the series of events being held, the International Seminar on Women Ulama took place on Tuesday (25/04). Seven inspirational guest speakers from six countries – including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Indonesia and Nigeria – shared their unique experiences as female ulama fighting for humanity and gender equality in diverse corners of the Muslim world.

Among the guest speakers was Mossarat Qadeem, an internationally renowned expert on countering violent extremism from the Peshawar region of Pakistan. Mossarat told of her experience engaging in grass roots deradicalization efforts and her struggles to promote a tolerant form of Islam in the community.

Mossarat, through her organization Paiman, works to save youth on the brink of joining militant groups, many of whom are recruited as suicide bombers.

The organization works through approaching and engaging people – especially mothers – in the community to counteract harmful religious interpretations spread through villages by radical clerics, who act to encourage violence.

Recognizing the importance and the historical significance of the congress, a number of commissioners from the Indonesian National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) made the trip to Cirebon.

Yuniyanti Chuzaifah, vice chairperson of Komnas Perempuan, said, "KUPI is taking place at a crucial time to encourage healthy, productive religious dialogue that can help to empower women and reduce violence against women in the community.

KUPI not only draws on the sources of the Koran and Hadith, but also the Indonesian Constitution and international human rights instruments. The congress is also committed to pushing for environmental sustainability."

The Indonesian Women's Ulama Congress has been developed as a forum for women's ulama to gather and produce solutions to the problems facing Islam, the nation and humanity.

It that has succeeded in bringing together women from all corners of Indonesia and the globe to share their experiences, form networks and strengthen tolerance in the community.

In a time in which international media has begun to frame Indonesian Islam in a context of rising fundamentalism and intolerance, events like KUPI are important to work towards renewing Indonesia's reputation as a harmonious and moderate Muslim majority country.

[Jack Britton is a writer and volunteer with Komnas Perempuan in Jakarta. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Komnas Perempuan or the Jakarta Globe.]

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/opinion/worlds-first-womens-islamic-cleric-congress-hosted-w-java-significant/

International seminar draws greater attention to the importance of

Jakarta Globe - April 29, 2017

Jakarta – Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said on Thursday (27/04) the International Seminar on Women Ulama succeeded in revitalizing the role of female clerics in the Muslim world and reinforced the importance of practicing moderate Islam.

Lukman praised the congress for its groundbreaking agenda, saying the event succeeded in efforts to combat injustice in gender relationships within the Muslim community.

The National Congress on Women's Ulama in Indonesia (KUPI) organized the seminar in Cirebon, West Java, on April 25-27. The meeting focused on amplifying the voices of female Muslim clerics to assert positive values of Islam, nationhood and humanity.

KUPI works to draw greater public attention to the abilities of female clerics in solving issues facing the Muslim community in Indonesia, local news outlet Tempo reported.

On Thursday, participating female clerics declared a series of fatwas, including one against child marriage in the country.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), one in six girls in Indonesia are married before turning 18. Representatives at this week's congress urged the Indonesian government to raise the minimum age for marriage from 16 to 18. "I will take this recommendation to the government," Lukman said.

The congress also issued other fatwas forbidding willful environmental destruction and sexual violence.

Reuters reported that the event was attended by nearly 300 participants, with delegates from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, India and Malaysia, among others. Event organizers said the three-day conference was the first of its kind in the world.

The international seminar was co-organized by KUPI, the Institute of Islamic Studies (IAIN) Syekh Nurjati Cirebon and AMAN Indonesia.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/international-seminar-draws-greater-attention-importance-female-clerics/

Women clerics: environmental destruction is 'haram'

Jakarta Post - April 28, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Cirebon, West Java – Muslim clerics have issued a fatwa, declaring the destruction of nature for the sake of economic development as haram, or forbidden under Islamic law, because it can trigger social and economic imbalances.

A result of Indonesia's first National Congress of Women Ulema in Cirebon, West Java, on Thursday, the fatwa is based on the Quran, Al Hadist (words and deeds of Prophet Muhammad) and the 1945 Constitution.

"Commercial development is still possible as long as the use of natural resources doesn't cross the limit of what the [project] needs. Any development is not allowed to cause natural destruction," said a female cleric from Batam while reading out the fatwa.

The fatwa urged the state to remove any laws or regulations that use natural resources as a source of development, and called on the government to tighten its regulations on natural protection.

The fatwa also called for an "Ibu Bumi" (Mother Nature) movement in which women play central roles in preserving nature.

"Nature is closer to women than men. So, it's important to put women as central actors in the protection of natures," said female cleric and congress organizer Neng Dara Affiah. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/28/women-clerics-environmental-destruction-is-haram.html

Avoiding child marriage 'mandatory'

Jakarta Post - April 28, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Ati Nurbaiti, Cirebon, West Java – An 11-year-old girl was raped years ago by her own grandfather, who also played the role of muezzin (caller to prayer) in his community.

When the girl became pregnant, her grandmother approached a midwife for an abortion. The midwife refused, fearing she would commit a sin. The grandmother then sought the help of a local female cleric in Bondowoso, East Java, Ruqoyyah, who accompanied them on another visit to the midwife.

An abortion was conducted after Ruqoyyah convinced the midwife that an abortion of a pregnancy caused by rape was not sinful; "besides the girl could not marry her grandfather, as incest, being haram, is a sin." Ruqoyyah added that the girl's future should be considered.

Child marriage remains rampant in Bondowoso, second only to Madura in East Java, said Ruqoyyah – who was forced to marry at the age of 14, and who also survived domestic violence in her second marriage.

After educating the community through prayer groups and other functions, "Alhamdullillah [Thank God]", she said, child marriage had decreased and fewer parents were taking their daughters out of school to marry them off once they were considered physically mature.

The first Indonesian Women's Ulema Congress ruled on Thursday that "avoiding child marriage is mandatory", to cheers and applause at the Kebon Jambu Al Islamy Islamic boarding school in Babakan Ciwaringin, Cirebon.

In the first of three rulings, read out by scholar Habib Djunaidi of Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, the congress urged the increase of girls' legal marrying age from 16 to 18.

As the Constitutional Court has thwarted a judicial review attempt to change the minimum marrying age for girls in the 1974 Marriage Law.

Citing fears of sin, among others, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin told the audience he would immediately convey the recommendation to Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohanna Yembise so the government could draft an amendment to the law.

Habib read out the reasons for the ruling, "First, religion obliges all people to avoid and fight every factor that can cause mudharat [harm] and child marriage contains many mudharat such as maternal death."

"Second, prevention [of child marriage] is the responsibility of parents, educators, society and the state, central and local government."

"Third, victims of child marriage must receive formal education and health care just like any other child, as well as protection from all kinds of violence and discrimination. Their parents are obliged to continue to take care of them."

The ruling added that schools must continue to ensure victims of child marriage could continue their studies, "including when a girl becomes pregnant."

During Wednesday's discussion group on child marriage, researcher Mukti Ali raised the issue of using Islamic sources, including Quranic verses, to justify child marriage. This is implied in Surah Al Thalaq, despite Surah Al Rum mentioning Allah's creation of couples "so that you can feel blissful toward him/her". The aim of blissful families cannot be achieved through child marriage, Ruqqoyah, said.

The congress results were far too late for one deaf girl who was raped and forced to marry her rapist. This was the family's decision, a participant said, as her voice cracked. "So I had to prepare her [dress and do her makeup], but I feel I've sinned."

The second congress ruling was also groundbreaking: that sexual violence is haram within and outside a marriage. The third was that development that caused damage to the environment was also haram.

The congress rulings, while non-binding, are to serve as a reference for matters considered urgent by over 1,000 congress participants.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/28/avoiding-child-marriage-mandatory.html

Sexual violence between married couples haram, clerics say

Jakarta Post - April 27, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Cirebon, West Java – Female Muslim clerics attending an Indonesian women's ulema congress in Cirebon, West Java, issued on Thursday a fatwa that says sexual violence is haram (forbidden under Islamic law), even if it occurs between married couples.

"All forms of sexual violence are haram for both married and unmarried couples. Islam and the Constitution have guaranteed that all people must be protected from sexual violence," said Priyati, a female cleric from Jakarta, on Thursday.

According to the fatwa, sexual violence is against the people's hifd an nafs (right to life), hifd al irdhu (rights of freedom and being respected) and hifd an nasl (rights to reproduce), all of which are the rights that are guaranteed under Islamic law, which is in line with the 1945 Constitution.

The fatwa also declares that zina (adultery or a sexual act outside a marriage) is different than rape. Zina occurs when both men and women are willing to have sexual intercourse. Meanwhile, rape is a situation when someone is forced to have sex, in which their refusal does not need to be explained in a statement, it says. "Thus, rape victims must not receive punishment," Priyati said.

The National Commission of Violence Against Women revealed 16,217 cases of sexual violence across Indonesia throughout 2016, sharply increasing from 11,207 cases in 2015.

Female cleric Ninik Rahayu said they are hopeful that women sexually assaulted by their husbands would now report the violence to the police following the implementation of the fatwa.

"All this time they have remained silent because they considered it not to be sexual violence if it was treatment they received from their own husbands," she said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/27/sexual-violence-between-married-couples-haram-clerics-say.html

Polygamy not part of Islamic teachings: Muslim clerics

Jakarta Post - April 27, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Cirebon, West Java – Responding to the long-standing controversy over polygamy, Indonesia's women Muslim clerics are emphasizing that the practice is not part of Islamic teachings.

According to Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, who represents Indonesia in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC), Islam never introduced the concept of having multiple spouses at once.

"Polygamy has existed since the jahiliyyah era. At that time, men were allowed to have an unlimited number wives," Siti said, referring to the era of "ignorance" in Middle Eastern history prior to the advent of Islam. "When Islam came, it humanized the practice by limiting the number [of wives a man could take]," she added.

Many conservative Muslims still claim that polygamy is allowed in Islamic teaching. The government, however, upholds the principle of monogamy with Article 3 of the law, which stipulates that a man is only allowed to have one wife.

The law allows men take a second wife under certain conditions, such as cases in which his first wife suffers from a serious illness or is unable to bear a child.

"We should learn that the Quran itself pushes for monogamy; it says that if men are not able to treat women fairly, then they must only have one wife. So, the requirement [for taking a second wife] is strict and that's because the practice can lead to violence against women," said cleric Nur Rofiah of the Jakarta Quranic College.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/27/polygamy-not-part-of-islamic-teachings-muslim-clerics.html

Indonesia does not need caliphate, MUI chief says amid social media

Jakarta Post - April 23, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Ma'ruf Amin stated on Saturday that a caliphate, a system of Islamic rule under a leader considered a successor to Prophet Muhammad, was not suitable for Indonesia, since the country had adopted the system of a republic.

"A republic as the foundation of the nation has been agreed. We don't need to talk about a caliphate anymore, [the debate about it] is already over," he said after the opening of an economic congress in Jakarta, as quoted by kompas.com.

Ma'ruf said Indonesia's founding fathers of different backgrounds had approved the democratic republican system. He added that the proposal of a caliphate would trigger turmoil.

"It has become noisy again since the emergence of groups wanting a new system," he said, referring to the planned International Khilafah Forum to be held in Jakarta on Sunday, organized by hard-line group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI).

Reports of the event have triggered a social media frenzy, with hash tag #KhilafahSolusinya (a caliphate is the solution) going viral. Some claimed to have made social media posts from the event at Balai Sudirman in South Jakarta.

But the idea immediately triggered rejection from netizens, making the hash tag one of the nationally trending topics on Sunday.

Previously, Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said Saturday that the police had not issued a permit for the forum by HTI after evaluating the potential risks of the event. (rdi/bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/23/indonesia-does-not-need-caliphate-mui-chief-says-amid-social-media-frenzy.html

Sex, pornography & morality

FPI leader Rizieq, Firza no-show for police questioning on sexting

Jakarta Post - April 25, 2017

Jakarta – Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab and his reported "girlfriend" Firza Husein failed to show up at Jakarta Police headquarters on Tuesday for questioning in an alleged sexting scandal.

Rizieq and Firza, who is also coordinator of the former president Suharto affiliated Solidaritas Sahabat Cendana Foundation, were summoned by police to answer questions regarding an allegedly steamy WhatsApp conversation between the two.

They have been charged with the 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions Law for allegedly exchanging information containing pornographic material.

An intimate WhatsApp exchange containing nude photos between a man and a woman believed to be Rizieq and Firza was uploaded earlier this year to the website baladacintarizieq.com by unknown persons. The site has since been blocked.

"Habib [Rizieq] is unable to attend questioning because he has another important occasion planned," said Sugito Atmo Pawiro from FPI's legal team on Monday. "If God allows, [he'll come] next week."

Meanwhile, Firza's lawyer Azis Yanuar claimed his client was feeling unwell and could, therefore, not fulfil the summons.

"Firza is currently undergoing a medical check-up, so she cannot come. I have notified the police investigators by phone and sent them a letter requesting to reschedule," said Azis on Tuesday.

Firza was arrested at her residence in East Jakarta on Feb. 1 for failing to cooperate with the police in their investigation into her role in a suspected treason plot. (dea/dan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/25/fpi-leader-rizieq-firza-no-show-for-police-questioning-on-sexting-scandal.html

Land & agrarian conflicts

Agrarian activist sentenced using now-defunct regulation

Jakarta Post - April 26, 2017

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – A local court in South Kalimantan has sentenced an agrarian activist to four years' imprisonment using a regulation that was revoked by the Constitutional Court, in another battle between state authorities and citizens over land rights.

Reading out its verdict on Wednesday, the Batulicin District Court's judicial panel stated Trisno Susilo, an activist for the world-largest tribespeople grouping, the Alliance of Indigenous People of the Archipelago (AMAN), was found guilty of violating Article 50 (3) of the 1999 Forestry Law that prohibits illegal land use inside forest areas.

The court also ordered the defendant to pay Rp 15 million (US$1,128.16) in fines or face an additional three months in prison.

Trisno's lawyer Fatiatulo Lazira said his legal team was planning to appeal the ruling at a higher court, describing the verdict as a "misleading," and as one that would further "legalize deprivation of customary land."

"The court used an article that had been abolished by the Constitutional Court," said Fatiatulo, referring to a 2015 ruling by the court, in a statement obtained by The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Trisno is a staunch AMAN supporter and activist in the fight of Dayak Meratus natives in South Kalimantan to reclaim customary land that, according to the group, they were deprived of by a timber company. In 2011, he was detained by Tanah Bumbu Police over allegations that he had illegally used land inside forest area. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/26/agrarian-activist-sentenced-using-now-defunct-regulation.html

Cabinet & the presidency

Ahok's loss may lead to Cabinet shake-up

Jakarta Post - April 25, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The Jakarta gubernatorial election may have demonstrated how frail the government's coalition can become when its rivals play the sectarianism card hard.

Backed by all seven government coalition parties except the National Mandate Party (PAN), the incumbent Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama-Djarot Saiful Hidayat ticket lost to the rival Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno ticket, only securing 42 percent of about 7 million votes, according to quick count results.

On Saturday, three days after the heated Jakarta runoff, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo signaled that he might be mulling another Cabinet reshuffle. He complained about the inability of several ministries to achieve targets, especially in regard to economic policies.

"I always set targets for my ministers," Jokowi said in a speech at the Economic Congregation Congress organized by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) in Jakarta. "I am ready to dismiss or replace aides and ministers if any targets are missed," the President went on.

As an example he cited his flagship land reform program, in which his government aims to issue 5 million land certificates this year, and gradually increase the target by 2 million every year until the end of his first term.

The President's remarks have raised speculation over a possible third cabinet reshuffle. Since taking office in 2014, Jokowi has made two Cabinet reshuffles: once in August 2015, in which six Cabinet members were reshuffled, and another in July 2016, which saw changes in 12 Cabinet positions.

Jokowi also made remarks about poor performances from some Cabinet members days before the previous reshuffles.

Before the Jakarta runoff election, elites from the National Awakening Party (PKB) and United Development Party (PPP) expressed concern that they could lose their Cabinet positions.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, executive members from both parties told The Jakarta Post that high-ranking aides from Jokowi's inner circle "had threatened" that PKB's three ministerial posts and PPP's one post could be in jeopardy if they refused to support Ahok and Djarot.

Analysts suggested that a reshuffle could be needed to consolidate electoral power ahead of the 2018 simultaneous regional elections and 2019 legislative and presidential elections.

The 2018 elections will be held in 171 provinces, regencies and cities, including the country's three mostpopulous provinces: West Java, East Java and Central Java. The combined population of the three provinces accounts for almost half of the national population.

However, political analyst Marcus Mietzner from the Australian National University said a cabinet reshuffle might have little impact on the presence of Islamic parties in Jokowi's Cabinet.

According to him, Jokowi will need at least one "influential" Islamic party in his nominating coalition for 2019 to counter possible smear campaigns using religious and ethnic sentiments.

"He has no reason to remove either the PKB or PPP from the cabinet. That would drive them into the arms of Prabowo," Mietzner told the Post, referring to Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto, Jokowi's presidential contender in 2014 who has indicated that he may challenge Jokowi again in the 2019 race.

The PPP's secretary-general, Arsul Sani, responded to the issue diplomatically. "To reshuffle the cabinet is the President's prerogative," he said.

Eddy Suparno, PAN's secretary general, said the party's stance in the Jakarta election should not be linked to speculation about a Cabinet reshuffle.

"What happened in Jakarta does not reflect the nature of our relationship with other members of the [government] coalition," Eddy said. "There are still other regional elections before the 2019 elections that provide good opportunities for Islamic parties like us to collaborate with nationalist parties."

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/25/ahoks-loss-may-lead-to-cabinet-shake-up.html

Parliament & legislation

MUI eyeing to dig its claws deeper into the House

Jakarta Post - April 27, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) secretary-general Anwar Abbas has suggested the establishment of an MUI "faction" within the House of Representatives, which would work to strengthen Islamic values in the nation.

During the 17th MUI consultative board plenary meeting in Jakarta on Wednesday, Anwar said the MUI faction would carry out its mission to provide justice and welfare for the Indonesian people.

However, the faction would serve to fight for the interests of all religious groups in the nation and not only for the sake of Islam, Anwar ensured.

"It's because Islamic teachings are not only intended for Muslims. [Islamic teachings] don't just benefit Muslims, they benefit all of mankind. Thus, all citizens will have an advantage," Anwar said as quoted by kompas.com.

He added that as a religious group, the MUI would not be actively involved in politics as this suggested faction would consist of members of existing political parties at the House, Anwar said.

"We won't [be involved]; the faction would exist only to uphold Pancasila [state ideology] values and to ensure that the House will uphold the principles of humanity and the country's unity," Anwar said.

"There are some groups in the House that don't adhere to Pancasila values and the 1945 Constitution," he added. (afr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/27/mui-eyeing-to-dig-its-claws-deeper-into-the-house.html

Fight between two legislators interrupts funeral

Jakarta Post - April 24, 2017

Jakarta – A brawl erupted between two members of the legislature during at the funeral of a community leader in Jeneponto, South Sulawesi, on Sunday, after one reportedly took offense to being accused of corruption.

Muhtar Tompo, a Hanura Party member of the House of Representatives, fought with Syamsuddin Karlos, a National Mandate Party (PAN) member of the South Sulawesi Regional Legislative Council (DPRD), at the funeral of Supomo Guntur, a former Makassar deputy mayor in Bontomatene village.

According to kompas.com, the two were chatting among thousands of residents attending the funeral when their exchange became heated and turned physical, so much so that they had to be separated by mourners.

After the incident, the two legislators told reporters they had been discussing the Karaloe Reservoir development project located in Gowa district. The land acquisition process was being opposed by residents for not using standardized land prices.

"Suddenly he was offended and told me I did not understand the situation and tried to slap and kick me," Muhtar said.

Syamsuddin said he took offense when Muhtar pointed out that money used to buy the land had been probably been taken by "ghosts," suggesting corruption may have taken place.

"I was angry but I did not hit him. He's the one who attacked me first by hitting my shoulders," he said.

The Karaloe Reservoir project is currently underway and is planned to be a source of water to irrigate Gowa and Jeneponto districts. (dis/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/24/fight-between-two-legislatures-interrupts-funeral.html

Jakarta & urban life

Anies to shut down Alexis to rid Jakarta of prostitution

Jakarta Post - April 30, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – During an election debate on Jan. 13, presumptive governor Anies Baswedan, who was then a gubernatorial candidate, sarcastically criticized his rival Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for only acting firmly in evicting low-income residents, but not in curbing high-class prostitution spots.

The former culture and education minister said he would shut down the infamous Alexis hotel in North Jakarta, a business widely believed to be a high-class brothel, if he were elected.

As his wish to unseat Ahok has come true, Anies, whose candidacy was backed by several conservative Muslim groups including the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), has become even bolder by stressing his desire to rid the entire city of prostitution.

Anies said recently he would not only target the closure of Alexis but all businesses involved in activities prohibited by Jakarta public order regulations.

"In principle, we will act firmly against all places that violate regulations, not just one [Alexis]. Don't get the impression that it is only about one place," Anies said.

Prostitution is illegal in Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population. However, the practice remains rampant under the guise of night clubs, entertainment centers and massage parlors.

Last year, the Jakarta administration shut down a notorious red-light district, Kalijodo in North and West Jakarta, and transformed it into a green space.

When asked about Anies' statement, Richard, 24, a lawyer residing in Central Jakarta, was skeptical that the Anies administration would succeed in curbing the rampant practice of prostitution in the city.

He felt such a crackdown was unnecessary, especially one conducted for reasons of religious morality, because the issue involved people's private life.

Meanwhile, Masniari, 26, an employee of a private company in South Jakarta, supported Anies in closing prostitution spots, especially during the holy season of Ramadhan.

However, it was unnecessary for the administration to shut down such places permanently as the taxes the businesses generated could benefit the city, she said.

Even though he promised to clean the capital of the sex trade, neither Anies nor the future deputy governor, Sandiaga Uno, have provided a concrete explanation of the mechanisms to crack down on prostitution in the city. They only said that the cleanup would be conducted in accordance with regulations.

Their vague answers might relate to Ahok's statement that it was not easy to prove that a specific place, such as Alexis, provided prostitution services.

Ahok said earlier that a place of business place could only be shut down if the administration found it to be accommodating the distribution of drugs, as occurred in the Miles and Stadium nightclubs, given that it was hard to prove acts of prostitution.

Meanwhile, Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) political analyst Arya Fernandez doubted that Anies would act severely in curbing such places, saying he believed Anies would veer to the middle ground to accommodate the interests of all Jakarta residents.

"I think, the governor-elect will stand in the middle because he not only got the vote of conservatives but also from the left, liberals, low-income residents, as well as people who don't care about the issue," Arya said.

Anies still has six months before he is inaugurated as governor during which he can formulate a way to realize his campaign promises. Anies will study the current regulations to see whether it is feasible for him to crack down on prostitution places as promised, Arya said.

Meanwhile, urbanist Yayat Supriatna said the governor-elect could not shut somewhere down without evidence of prostitution as it would result in a lawsuit against the administration.

He said that Anies and Sandiaga's program could be implemented if they strengthened the monitoring and investigation of places that were allegedly providing prostitution services.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/29/anies-to-keep-promise-to-shut-down-alexis-to-rid-jakarta-of-prostitution.html

Indonesian elites unite to restart Jakarta Bay reclamation

Jakarta Post - April 30, 2017

Indra Budiari, Jakarta – The central government is slowly putting together all the pieces of the puzzle needed to restart the controversial Jakarta Bay reclamation project, which has been halted since last year.

The Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister recently hosted a meeting with the relevant ministries that hold the keys to the future of the reclamation project, such as the Environment and Forestry Ministry and the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry had previously concluded that the project was mired in apparent maladministration after evaluating the project. The ministry later advised the Jakarta administration to suspend work on the project.

Meanwhile, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti had criticized the Jakarta administration's concept of developing the city through the reclamation project.

She said that the reclamation project, which involves the development of 17 man-made islets off the coast of North Jakarta, coupled with poor river management, would actually cause the capital to experience worse flooding.

Both ministers' comments came after many activists voiced their opposition to the project, saying it adversely affected the livelihood of fishermen, would cause flooding and disrupt operations of the coal-fired power plant in Muara Karang.

But after Thursday's meeting, the deputy of infrastructure coordination at the office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Ministry, Ridwan Djamaludin, said the central government had finally reconciled their differing opinions on the project.

"After this meeting, we will discuss the technical issues and legal framework for this project," he said.

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, which previously opposed the project, said on Thursday that the project should continue as the government would take measures to ensure fishermen's livelihoods would not be damaged by the project.

"Social aspects are very important. We need to make sure that fishermen can maintain their livelihoods," said the ministry's marine space management director-general, Brahmantya Satyamurti.

Among the actions to be taken is opening the National Fisheries Center of Muara Baru, which would have a fish market as well as a shopping and culinary center, he added.

As the central government shared a single perception of the project, Ridwan hinted that the government would continue the project, saying that it was an integral part of the NCICD (Integrated Coastal Development) project initiated to protect Jakarta Bay.

Despite the moratorium imposed on the project last year, Ridwan said the government had no intention of stopping the reclamation, arguing that the moratorium was only imposed to "adjust to the current conditions".

"We never stopped it [the reclamation project]. Instead, the Cabinet wanted it to be integrated with area development, coastal area protection and fishermen's sustainability," Ridwan said.

In February, the Jakarta administration also signaled that it would proceed with the project, saying that it had completed the necessary strategic environmental assessment (KLHS), which was required by the Environment and Forestry Ministry, so the project could go forward.

However, there are still questions regarding the future of the project, given that presumptive governor-elect Anies Baswedan has repeatedly said he would stop the reclamation project if he was elected.

Commenting on possible hurdles posed by the future city administration, Ridwan said the central government was certain it would be able to reach a compromise with Anies. "Anies is an educated person. If we take heart and [present] scientific data, we will find the solution," he said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/29/indonesian-elites-unite-to-restart-jakarta-bay-reclamation.html

Jakarta, a city under pressure from a growing population in need of a

ABC Radio Australia - April 29, 2017

Samantha Hawley, Indonesia – Indonesia's capital Jakarta is a city under pressure, with its infrastructure unable to cope with the growing population.

A few years back my family featured, albeit briefly, in an Australian Financial Review article. We weren't named, but I knew it was us.

From memory, the story focused on the infrastructure woes of the Indonesian capital and had mentioned a journey we had taken to Puncak, about 80 kilometres south of the capital.

It's a lovely area in the hills, with clear air and beautiful views. Unfortunately for us on this occasion, as the Financial Review noted, it took seven hours to drive home – that's about 11 kilometres per hour.

Bandung, 155 kilometres south of the capital, is just as nice for a weekend away, with rolling hills and fresh air – except for the fact that it took us eight and a half hours by car to get there.

We could have flown to Sydney in less time. I can't even remember what we did to pass the time; a convenient memory loss seems to have descended.

The 20 kilometres home from the airport, which I do often, can be incredibly quick. A few times it has taken just 40 minutes. But it has also taken me four and half hours.

I tell this story not to whinge – after all, the people of Jakarta don't like it either, and for now their reality is also mine. I tell this story to highlight the challenges for this city that I enjoy and am privileged to have the opportunity to live in.

This is a city where there are too many people for the infrastructure to cope. And it is vital that this city has a leader with vision.

Tambora slum a 'perfect example of congestion'

I relished a recent visit to the Tambora slum in West Jakarta. The colours, the smells, the noise, the alleyways – which mean you need to walk with a slouch as you weave your way around. Where the housing is it's dark and damp; there are no gaps for the sun to shine.

The Tambora slum is thought to be one of the most populated areas in South-East Asia. Our arrival there was at first met with suspicion, but in the usual Indonesian way the residents soon became incredibly welcoming.

If you want an example of why this city is congested, just take a look at the Tambora slum, where a massive 260,000 people live within five square kilometres – with no high rise buildings in sight.

Most of the people we spoke to had lived there all their lives, and the sense of community was strong.

"The people here have been living in the area for generations, for tens of years, I've been living here for 60 years," community leader Hasbanu said. "The house and the land previously belonged to our parents."

It wasn't just religion that lost the election for Ahok

A few weeks ago, around 5 million Jakartans went to the polls in the election for the city's governor. This is a city of 10 million people, but if you take in wider Jakarta, you're looking at around 28 million people.

It is clear the election was fought and won along a religious divide – Muslims were told to vote for a Muslim leader and they did so overwhelmingly. Anies Baswedan easily won, and the incumbent Ahok, a Christian who faced trial for insulting Islam throughout, did worse than anyone expected.

But the religious divide aside, one of the reasons the current governor Ahok wasn't liked was because of his decision to remove slums from across the city and place residents who didn't want to go into high rise accommodation.

Yet the reason he has an approval rating of around 70 per cent, despite losing the poll, is due to his efforts to make Jakarta a better functioning city – along with his stance against corruption.

Little changes can make a huge difference

For the ABC's long-serving office manager, Yanti, a simple decision Ahok made helped to make her life easier. Ahok ensured that police enforced bus lane rules. That is, bus lanes were only for buses.

Before that cars would spill out into the extra space, with drivers desperate for more room and a faster track to their destination, defeating the purpose altogether.

Yanti began to catch a bus to work, cutting her travel time by at least an hour a day. Her age, she says, ensures she always gets a seat.

A Mass Rapid Transit system is being built in an effort to solve the gridlock problem, and plenty of ring-roads are under construction – but fixing this city will take great vision and smart leadership.

The day after he won the campaign, Anies Baswedan used a helicopter to ensure he reached a meeting with the incumbent Ahok on time.

I wish I'd had one of those during my eight-hour drive to Bandung and I'm sure every person in every car around me would have liked one too.

"But I'm guessing the answer to this city's problems is not more helipads – they won't help the people of Tambora or millions of others like them."

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2017-04-29/jakarta-a-city-under-pressure-from-a-growing-population-in-need-of-a-leader-with-vision/1667964

Lame-duck Ahok sees mounting defiance

Jakarta Post - April 28, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama still has another six months to lead the city before officially passing the baton to Anies Baswedan, who defeated the incumbent in the runoff election on April 19.

Lately however, the hard-charging governor seems something akin to a lame-duck ruler, as some of his policies and plans are facing defiant rebellion from affected residents.

The Penjaringan Police have reportedly questioned three residents who complained about the presence of thugs in the former red-light district area of Kalijodo in North Jakarta, which was transformed by Ahok into a child-friendly integrated public space (RPTRA).

"They [the thugs] are insolent, they think I can't act firmly toward them. They think I'm no longer a governor while in fact I am the governor until Oct. 7," Ahok said at City Hall.

Anies' victory has also reinvigorated resident opposition toward Ahok's eviction policy, as illustrated by is happening at Pasar Ikan and Kampung Akuarium in North Jakarta.

Back in April 2016, the governor evicted residents from Pasar Ikan and Kampung Akuarium, shipping hundreds of them to low-cost apartments and brushing aside their cries for fair compensation.

While some residents agreed to move to nearby apartments, others stayed on the evicted land by relying on the help of some external parties, including the Gerindra Party, to sustain their living. Since Ahok's defeat, some of the evicted residents have begun moving back into the areas.

Penjaringan district head Mohammad Andri said there were 90 semi-permanent dwellings flourishing in the area. Some residents have even started building permanent houses.

"We started working on Monday [to build a permanent house]. The owner of this house is an evictee who is now living in a rented house in Muara Baru," said Roman, 27, a home builder.

Roman, who was also evicted, said he believed that Anies would not destroy the reconstructed houses because during the campaign period, the presumptive winner of the Jakarta election promised that he would not do so.

Another evictee, Adi Riyanto, 57, who is renovating his 15 square meter house, said he was not afraid that Ahok would again demolish his house because the legal process regarding the eviction was still ongoing.

In late 2016, the residents filed a class action with the Central Jakarta District Court against the administration's eviction plan. In the class action, the residents asked for compensation.

Haratua Purba from the administration's legal bureau said the administration and the residents were still engaged in a mediation process before entering into the next legal proceeding.

Meanwhile, Ahok said the administration would bulldoze the houses. The governor stressed that his cherished revitalization project would continue after the administration had finished studying the heritage aspects of the Pasar Ikan area.

However, not all of the evictees are trying to overturn Ahok's eviction program. Residents of Bukit Duri in South Jakarta, for instance, do not plan to rebuild their houses upon the cleared land, the residents' advocate, Sandyawan Sumardi, said.

They will build a village of row houses on vacant land in Bukit Duri Tanjakan. Anies met with Bukit Duri residents during the campaign and promised that he would obey a ruling from the Jakarta State Administrative Court stating that their eviction was illegal.

Sandyawan added that Anies had promised to pay compensation to the evictees even though Ahok's administration had filed an appeal against the decision.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/28/lame-duck-ahok-sees-mounting-defiance.html

Sandiaga to provide entrepreneurship program for thugs

Jakarta Post - April 26, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, South Tangerang – Jakarta deputy governor-elect Sandiaga Uno said he plans to reach out to thugs in Kalijodo park, North Jakarta, who reportedly illegally ask for parking fees from visitors, to participate in his signature entrepreneurship "OK OCE" program, in hopes of giving them a chance to engage in positive activities.

"I want them to participate in the OK OCE program. By joining this program, they can be recruited by credit card companies as debt collectors or security officers," Sandiaga said in Bumi Serpong Damai, South Tangerang, on Wednesday.

Sandiaga added that by giving the thugs entrepreneurship training, they could start doing positive things. OK OCE stands for One Kecamatan (district) One Center of Entrepreneurship.

Anies Baswedan, the governor elect, and Sandiaga introduced this program in their campaign as a promise to create 200,000 entrepreneurs in Jakarta. He added how he hoped security officers could act firmly toward thugs in Kalijodo, who illegally asked visitors to pay parking fees.

"Pak Ahok and Pak Djarot are in office for six more months. We have to support them. We don't want to see Kalijodo, which has been managed well, becomes disorganized again," he said, referring to Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and Djarot Saiful Hidayat's work in improving the area.

The Jakarta administration changed the notorious red-light district Kalijodo into an attractive park.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/26/sandiaga-to-provideentrepreneurshipprogram-for-thugs.html

Criminal justice & legal system

Drug abuse has shown no signs of receding: President Jokowi

Antara News - April 22, 2017

Surakarta – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has stated that drug abuse in Indonesia has shown no downward trend, despite the execution of 18 drug kingpins since he took office nearly two and a half years ago.

"In the past two years, 18 drug lords have been executed, but we are still unable to lower the instances of drug abuse," the president said during a function held at the Manahan Sports Stadium here on Friday (April 21) to familiarize the public with the danger of drugs, pornography and violence against children.

In this respect, he asked the younger generations to refrain from drug abuse. He noted that 40 to 50 people die every day due to drug abuse.

"That is why we want to protect ourselves, families, schoolmates, kampongs, and cities against drugs," he said.

As many as 1,800 students from junior high schools, senior high schools and vocational schools from throughout Surakarta, Central Java, attended the function.

"We must act together. It is unlikely for the government to work alone. We must have the guts to say no to drugs," he said.

He said he wanted more and more members of the younger generation to become anti-drug envoys so that their environment can be rendered free of drug abuse.

(Reported by Hanni Sofia Soepardi/Uu.S012/INE/KR-BSR/B003)

Source: http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/110579/drug-abuse-has-shown-no-signs-of-receding-president-jokowi

Police & law enforcement

Police urge implementation of nationwide CCTV network

Jakarta Globe - April 26, 2017

Jakarta – National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar has called for a nationwide implementation of an integrated network of Closed Circuit Television system, or CCTV, to be manned at its headquarters in Jakarta.

If implemented on a large scale, the network will speed up ongoing investigations into various criminal cases, Boy said.

"The CCTV network will be part of a surveillance campaign on public activities. It would be a means to maintain security and collect facts," Boy said in Jakarta on Tuesday (25/04).

"Information is crucial for the police to develop investigations. So, an integrated CCTV network is important for us."

The idea for a country-wide CCTV network came after Novel Baswedan, a senior investigator for the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), suffered injuries stemming from an acid attack.

Novel suffered serious burns to his face after unknown assailants attacked him near his home in North Jakarta earlier this month. Police are still trying to find the suspects involved in the assault.

Boy said the National Police has called on several regional administrations to install CCTV at various public facilities and roads, and to link them with police headquarters in the capital.

"The National Police Chief has called for regional administrations to install CCTV networks. All roads on a housing complex should be monitored with CCTV, and if possible, the network should link up with the central command center in Jakarta," he said.

Several city administrations have begun using CCTV to monitor public activity, including Malang in East Java, Makassar in South Sulawesi and Pontianak in West Kalimantan.

In Jakarta, CCTV cameras have been installed at several locations, though police expect the network will be greatly expanded in the coming months.

"TMC [National Police Traffic Management Center] has been using them, but currently they're only available in 200 locations in the capital," Boy said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/police-urge-implementation-nationwide-cctv-network/

Mobile app 'Halo Polisi' allows public to make reports from their

Jakarta Globe - April 25, 2017

Jakarta – Police in Depok, West Java, have launched a mobile app called "Halo Polisi," which will allow residents to make reports to the police from their phones. The app is part of a pilot project which will also be launched in other regions soon.

Halo Polisi looks and functions much like popular mobile social media apps Facebook or Path, with which users can share information in real time.

The app also includes dedicated tabs for community and discussion forums, which users will have to subscribe to. Previously, Halo Polisi was only available as a hotline number.

"Reports from users can be open or private. Open reports will be visible to other users. But private reports – when users choose to remain anonymous – can only be read by our command center," Depok Police Human Resources Head Firdaus said on Monday (24/04), as quoted by Beritasatu.

Users will be able to report any incident from crimes to traffic jams. All reports will be followed up by Depok Police.

The app also features a "Panic Button" which can be used to report emergency situations. A team from Depok Police will be dispatched to location immediately after the Panic Button is pushed. Halo Polisi will have its official launch on April 28. But meanwhile it has already been used by thirteen thousand subscribers, and is available for download on Android and iOS phones.

Halo Polisi can also be accessed downloaded and accessed from its official website http://halopolisi.id.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/mobile-app-halo-polisi-allows-public-make-reports-smartphones/

Foreign affairs & trade

Economist warns of sharp increase in imports from China

Jakarta Post - April 25, 2017

Jakarta – Executive director of the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF) Enny Sri Hartati, has warned the government over the sharp increase in non-oil and gas imports from China, which increased 24.94 percent to US$11.1 billion in March, compared to February.

She said it was an indication of the waning competitiveness of Indonesian consumption products in the domestic market compared to those from China.

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) recorded that total imports from China reached $13.36 billion, an increase of 17.65 percent from February. It is the highest figure since January 2015. The import value from China amounted to a quarter of Indonesia's total imports.

Enny criticized the government for considering the sharp increase to be a positive sign, and argued it actually indicated the declining performance of Indonesian industry, or at least that Indonesian industry had not experienced significant recovery.

Enny also disagreed with the government's argument that the sharp increase in imports was only a seasonal occurrence, prior to the fasting month of Ramadhan and Idul Fitri celebrations.

"If it is related to stabilizing food prices, the increase should not have come from China. It should have come from Thailand and Vietnam," she said as reported by tribunnews.com on Tuesday.

Enny said the government should pay serious attention to the fact that 25 percent of Indonesia's imports come from China. She considered this fact to be extraordinary considering total exports from ASEAN countries only reached 20 percent. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/25/economist-warns-of-sharp-increase-in-imports-from-china.html

Exports of textile, textile products experience 3 percent growth

Jakarta Post - April 25, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesia's January and February exports of textiles and textile products grew by 3 percent year-on-year to US$2 billion, said Industry Minister Airlangga Hartanto.

"This industry could function as a social security net because it employs a large number of people; some 3 million [Indonesians] make a living from this industry," Airlangga said at a press conference in Jakarta on Monday.

The statement was originally delivered during the recent launch of the renovated textile company PT Sri Rejeki Textile's (PT Sritex) factories in Surakarta, Central Jakarta.

Total investment in the textile industry reached Rp 7.54 trillion ($567.39 million) in 2016, with total exports worth $11.87 billion. The industry employed 17.03 percent of all workers in the manufacturing industry.

"I appreciate PT Sritex for investing Rp 2.6 trillion to expand the capacity of its spinning and finishing factories, which are expected to employee 3,500 people," Airlangga added.

Meanwhile, PT Sritex president director Iwan Setiawan Lukminto said his company operates 24 spinning factories, seven weaving factories and five textile finishing factories, and 11 garment plants. "We employ some 50,000 people," he added.

In trying to improve the skills of Indonesia's human resources, the Industry Ministry signed agreements with 117 companies to cooperate with 389 vocational schools in Central Java and Yogyakarta, as part of the government's link and match program.

Previously, the signed similar agreements with 50 companies and 234 vocational schools in East Java. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/25/exports-of-textile-textile-products-experience-3-percent-growth.html

US criticizes RI's business barriers

Jakarta Post - April 22, 2017

Fedina S. Sundaryani, Jakarta – The United States has called on the Indonesian government to remove business barriers it claims are impeding its companies from fully penetrating the domestic market.

During a business meeting and agreement signing ceremony on Friday, US Vice President Mike Pence said that although the US was enthusiastic about investing in Southeast Asia's largest economy, many obstacles remained that held US companies back from truly pouring their money into the country.

"US companies face many barriers and difficulties in the Indonesian market, including intellectual property, the lack of transparency, requirements in manufacturing to include local content to be able to sell products in the Indonesian market," he said matter-of-factly.

While the US acknowledges President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's efforts to reform the business and investment environment in Indonesia, it insists that "there must be more to be done."

"The truth is a stronger American economy is a stronger economy for Indonesia and all trading partners. The US is a driver for global growth, under President Donald Trump, we will be driving global growth like never before," he said.

Businesses are no stranger to the issues highlighted by Pence due to Indonesian government enforcement of increased use of local content in the oil and gas sector and telecommunications industry.

The US previously filed a complaint at the World Trade organization (WTO), challenging Indonesia's policies on the imports of horticulture and animals. The WTO sided with the US and fellow petitioner New Zealand.

Since taking office in late 2014, Jokowi has made deregulation part of his administration's focus. It has issued more than a dozen economic policy packages to improve the business climate and investment.

The packages helped Indonesia climb 15 places to 91st place in the World Bank's Doing Business 2017 report from 106th place a year prior.

However, despite the improvement, Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) chairman Thomas Lembong agreed that Indonesia still had much to do to raise its competitiveness in the global market and to attract investments from across the globe, not just from US companies.

He said overregulation was bad even for local industries as they needed to import materials to enable them to produce goods that comply with international standards.

The BKPM will continue working to improve the economy and to cut red tape and is certain there will be more initiatives to simplify regulations and reduce trade barriers in the next few weeks.

While the US has traditionally invested in the mining and upstream oil and gas sectors, Thomas said the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Indonesia had indicated that it would increase investments in the manufacturing, technology and digital sectors.

Particular attention in the digital sector must be paid toward global data centers that use cloud computing, due to vague existing regulations, Thomas added.

On Friday, the US and Indonesia signed US$10 billion worth of agreements in trade and investment in the energy and defense sector.

The agreements included a $6 billion deal between US-based ExxonMobil and state-owned oil and gas giant Pertamina to provide liquefied natural gas (LNG) for the latter for 20 years, starting in 2025.

State-owned electricity firm PLN and US-based Pacific Infra Capital LLC signed a $2 billion deal as well to implement an advanced metering infrastructure system in Indonesia.

The US and Indonesia also saw technology and manufacturing firm Honeywell and state-owned aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (DI) secure a contract, in which the former will supply 34 TPE331 turboprop engines to DI over the next four years.

The value of Friday's agreements was lower compared to those made during former US president Barack Obama's visit in 2011.

Back then, Indonesia's biggest low-cost carrier PT Lion Mentari Airlines (Lion Air) made a $21.7 billion deal with US aircraft manufacturer Boeing for the purchase of 230 aircraft. This was Boeing's largest commercial order at the time.

According to data from the BKPM, the US invested $1.16 billion in 540 projects in Indonesia last year, an increase from $893.16 million and 261 projects in 2015.

In terms of trade, the Indonesia-US trade value stood at $23.4 billion in 2016, staying flat compared to 2015.

Pence's visit to Indonesia is highly significant as it was conducted not long after the Trump administration was established earlier this year and Indonesia was one of the first countries on Pence's Asia-Pacific tour.

Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) deputy chairperson Shinta Widjaja Kamdani said the US was no longer interested in multilateral agreements and any trade deals must be done bilaterally.

"We already have a strategic partnership and now we have to develop that to specifically understand what both countries want from each other. We have to do it soon because [other countries] will also be competing [for investment]," she said.

Indonesia is now awaiting a follow-up to the US' generalized system of preference, which is expected to decrease duties for Indonesian manufactured goods exported to the US.

While Pence made only a brief mention of miner PT Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of US-based Freeport-McMoRan Inc., Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan confirmed on Thursday that the issue was briefly discussed between Pence and Jokowi.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/22/us-criticizes-ris-business-barriers.html

Mining & energy

Trade Ministry issues concentrate export permit for Freeport

Jakarta Post - April 25, 2017

Jakarta – The Trade Ministry has issued a permit allowing PT Freeport Indonesia to export its supply of copper concentrate, as the mining giant continues to settle its differences with the government on matters relating to the conversion of a Contract of Work (CoW) signed in 1991 into a special mining license (IUPK).

The export permit will be effective up to Feb. 16, 2018. "The letter [permit] for export has been issued. The company can now collect its license," said Trade Ministry's oversea trade directorate general Oke Nurwan as reported by tempo.co on Tuesday.

Oke said Freeport proposed the export extension on April 21. The ministry is allowing the company to export 1.13 million tons of concentrate for a year. The permit was issued after the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry issued an IUPK on Feb. 10.

Representatives of both Freeport and the government are currently in the process of negotiating certain aspects of the IUPK, including the development of a smelter and the sustainability of the company's business in the country.

Last year, the company reportedly exported 1.17 million tons of copper concentrate to several countries, including Japan, South Korea, China, India and the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama said the miner will gradually increase its output, after production ceased due to the government's ban on its exports when Freeport rejected the conversion of its CoW into an IUPK. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/25/trade-ministry-issues-concentrate-export-permit-for-freeport.html

Economy & investment

Economic Census shows businesses still concentrated in Java

Jakarta Post - April 28, 2017

Stefani Ribka, Jakarta – Results of the Economic Census 2016 show that most businesses are still concentrated in Java Island, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) announced Thursday.

About 60.74 percent of 26.71 million businesses are located in Java, 18.61 percent in Sumatra, 8.09 percent in Sulawesi, 5.68 percent in Bali and Nusa Tenggara, 5.16 percent in Kalimantan and 1.72 percent in Maluku and Papua.

"It is up to us to develop eastern Indonesia," BPS head Kecuk Suhariyanto said during his opening for the reading of the census.

Conducted every decade, the Economic Census surveys businesses of all sizes, except those in the agriculture sector. The number of companies it covers has increased by 17.51 percent to 26.71 million in May 2016 from 22.73 million in 2006.

Retail and wholesale trade, as well as car and motorcycle reparation and maintenance services dominated the census, with 46.17 percent, or roughly 12.3 million, of all business units surveyed. Accommodation and/or food and beverage providers made up 16.27 percent of the survey, and manufacturing took up 16.53 percent.

The remaining 12 sectors consisted of businesses in construction, mining, water management, transportation and warehouses, information and communication, finance and insurance, real estate, corporate services, and health and social activities. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/28/economic-census-shows-businesses-still-concentrated-in-java.html

Cigarette maker Sampoerna nets Rp 3.29t profit in Q1

Jakarta Post - April 27, 2017

Prima Wirayani, Jakarta – Publicly listed cigarette maker PT Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna booked Rp 3.29 trillion (US$247.3 million) in net profit in this year's first quarter. The figure is a 5.4 percent increase from the same period last year.

Sampoerna net sales climbed 3 percent year-on-year (yoy) to Rp 22.57 trillion, while cost of goods sold increased by 3.1 percent to Rp 16.77 trillion as of March, according to the firm's financial report submitted with the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX).

Owned by the world's largest tobacco company Philip Morris Inc., Sampoerna recorded a 21.8 percent jump in assets value to Rp 51.79 trillion during this year's first three months as its cash and cash equivalents soared to Rp 19.95 trillion versus Rp 5.06 trillion in the first quarter of 2016.

Its liability increased by almost 72 percent yoy to Rp 14.31 trillion due to payable excise tax worth of Rp 6.72 trillion.

Stocks of Sampoerna, traded at the IDX under the ticker HMSP, opened the trading day on Thursday at 3,890 apiece, unchanged from its previous close. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/27/cigarette-maker-sampoerna-nets-rp-3-29t-profit-in-q1.html

In Q1, Indonesia reaches 24.4% of 2017 investment target

Jakarta Post - April 26, 2017

Stefani Ribka, Jakarta – Indonesia pocketed Rp 165.8 trillion (US$12.5 billion) in investment in the first quarter of the year, or 24.4 percent of the 2017 investment target of Rp 678.8 trillion, the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) announced on Wednesday.

This figure is a 13.2 percent increase from the Rp 146.5 trillion in investment recorded in the same quarter last year.

Investment from local investors progressed significantly by 36.4 percent year-on-year (yoy) to Rp 68.8 trillion, while investment from foreign investors only grew by 0.94 percent to Rp 97 trillion.

"The seemingly stagnant growth in foreign investment is because of the stronger rupiah. We used a Rp 13,900 per dollar calculation in the first quarter last year but Rp 13,300 per dollar in the first quarter this year," said BKPM head Thomas Lembong during a press conference on Wednesday.

In dollar value, foreign investment continued to show a stable increase of 5.7 percent to $7.3 billion. The pace was higher than the 4.5 percent recorded within with Q1 2015 to Q1 2016 period.

A majority, or 80 percent of total local and foreign investment in the quarter, was fresh investment, while 20 percent was expansion. "This is a sign that interest to do business here is still high," he added.

The top investment sectors are mining, food, transportation, warehouses and telecommunications. The top three investment destinations are West Java, Jakarta and East Java.

Singapore, Japan and China remain the top three investors – just like they were in the first quarter of 2016 – with $2.1 billion, $1.4 billion and $600 million in investment, respectively. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/04/26/in-q1-indonesia-reaches-24-4-of-2017-investment-target.html

Investors to take confidence from peaceful Jakarta election

Jakarta Globe - April 22, 2017

Jakarta – Investors should look beyond the divisive and religiously charged Jakarta election and take confidence from a peaceful voting day as a sign of stability in the country, officials and business leaders said.

Quick count results show that Anies Baswedan, the candidate backed by Muslim hardliners and conservatives, won the runoff election by a landslide against incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent. The latter ran a doomed campaign in the Muslim-majority capital while facing false blasphemy allegations, despite having scored high approval ratings of his performance in office.

"There are many questions about the impact and result of the dramatic election on investment," Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) head Thomas Lembong said on Thursday (20/04).

"I think [the impact on investment] will be positive, because the election took place in an orderly and peaceful manner," he said on the sidelines of The Economist Events' Indonesia Summit in Jakarta, where policy makers, investors, regulators, academics and business leaders gathered to get an update on economic conditions in the country.

Talks at the summit were dominated by the second round of the Jakarta gubernatorial election, which took place just a day before the event.

Prominent business leaders at the summit also expressed optimism in the new leaders' ability to govern Jakarta, where about a sixth of Indonesia's economic output was generated last year.

"The most important thing for the business sector is stability and the fact that yesterday's election ran smoothly is very important," Lippo Group director John Riady said.

However, Shinta Widjaja Kamdani, deputy chairwoman of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo), said some foreign investors are concerned about the way sectarian issues played out during the election campaign period.

"They are worried that what happened in Jakarta can be replicated elsewhere and that [the use of issues related to] race and religion can win the election," she said.

Shinta said investors also have many factors to consider that are not related to Wednesday's election and its aftermath, before investing large amounts of money in Indonesia.

The BKPM has set a foreign and local investment target of Rp 679 trillion ($51 billion) for this year and Rp 860 trillion for next year.

Last year, the agency reported that the total value of foreign investment that came into the country amounted to Rp 397 trillion, which was 8.4 percent higher compared with a year earlier. This also exceeded the target of Rp 386 trillion.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/investors-to-take-confidence-from-peaceful-jakarta-election/

Analysis & opinion

Why Islamists or anti-Chinese sentiments don't worry Widodo

South China Morning Post - April 30, 2017

Zuraidah IbrahimPhila Siu – Oblivious to the oppressive heat and the smoky emissions from the stalled traffic, a middle-aged Indonesian couple ambles up and down the pavement outside the office of the governor of Jakarta.

Garment merchant Pak Eeng and his wife Ade are out-of-towners from the neighbouring island of Sumatra. They had taken a boat and a bus, travelling overnight and through the day to the capital city, partly to meet with suppliers but also to pay their respects to a defeated politician.

Since the gubernatorial election last week, row upon row of floral tributes to the incumbent has sprouted in front of the governor's office.

Ade, 55, stops for a picture. Her 58-year-old husband nods in approval and taps his camera phone. Her red-and-white headscarf picks up the red carpet of roses on a banner reading: "One defeat, one thousand flowers will bloom. Thank you Ahok!"

Basuki Tjahaha Purnama, or Ahok as he is popularly known, will have to vacate the post in October after being soundly beaten by former culture and education minister Anies Baswedan.

Although only a municipal election, the event took on far greater significance, as a possible bellwether of Indonesia's young democracy and its openness towards its neighbours – including a China eager to pump massive investments into the country.

Basuki is Chinese and a Christian in the world's largest Muslim-majority country. He is also an ally of President Joko Widodo, having served as Widodo's deputy when Widodo was Jakarta governor.

Basuki's popularity had been seen as an indicator of Indonesians' appetite for effective government and rational economic policies over the visceral pulls of identity politics.

Conversely, his defeat after a campaign marred by hardline religious appeals has upset many people inside and outside the country – including this Muslim couple from Sumatra. "I just want to express my sympathy for Ahok," says Ade, a bespectacled mother of three.

Basuki's religion is a non-issue for them. It's a question of peribadi, Ade says, using an Indonesian term that indicates a personal and private matter. "We all take different paths to God."

That, however, was evidently not how the majority of Jakarta voters were persuaded to weigh what was at stake. For the past six months, Basuki has found himself on the defensive against accusations that he had blasphemed against Islam. Speaking at one campaign event, he had forthrightly stated that if voters wanted to believe the lie that their religion forbade them from electing non-Muslim leaders, they should go ahead and vote against him.

Hardliners sniffed an opportunity and pounced, twisting his words to accuse him of claiming that the Koran was lying to Muslims. He was charged with violating Indonesia's sweeping blasphemy law, for which he is still under trial. The radical Islamic Defenders Front also orchestrated a public demonstration numbering almost 200,000 protesters.

When he first took office, Basuki had threatened to take action against the organisation for its use of intimidation and violence. The Front and other hardliners had the last laugh when his more malleable challenger Anies Baswedan scored his resounding victory.

Jakarta's ethnic Chinese leader is gone, is it Widodo next?

Anti-Chinese sentiment is not new to Indonesia. The ethnic Chinese minority is tiny, making up an estimated 1.5 per cent of the population. Many Chinese Indonesians are humble merchants and farmers, but enough of them, including some of the country's richest tycoons, are disproportionately and visibly wealthy to make them a sore point. Ethnic Chinese were targeted in Jakarta riots that accompanied the downfall of the Suharto regime in 1998.

When Basuki was elected deputy governor of Jakarta alongside Widodo in 2012, the event was viewed as a moment of healing in the city's relationship with its Chinese population. He was elevated to the governorship when Widodo became president, despite opposition from groups like the Islamic Defenders Front – again suggesting that Indonesia was entering a new era of stability.

Now, however, the ease with which ethnic and religious suspicions were activated against even a popular incumbent is reviving doubts about Indonesians' tolerance of diversity.

This time, the potential targets are not just local citizens and businesses but also foreign investors – in particular the big wave of investments from China. Indonesia and China are on the brink of cultivating a sizeable economic partnership.

Widodo, who will meet business leaders in Hong Kong on Sunday, has embarked on an aggressive infrastructure development agenda. His administration has tried to slash Indonesia's notoriously cumbersome red tape and drain rent-seeking from the system.

China, meanwhile, is on the hunt for new markets. With Indonesia's investment climate improving in recent years, Chinese foreign direct investment grew four-fold last year, to reach a record US$2.7 billion.

Zhang Min, chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia, does not expect the pace to let up. "As I continue to see more Chinese companies coming to Indonesia to find out more about the business environments here, I foresee the growth in investment will be huge in the coming five years," he says.

In 2013, President Xi Jinping became the first foreign leader to address the Indonesian parliament. He chose the occasion to propose the setting up of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a key initiative in his government's bid to play a bigger role on the world stage.

Widodo wants Chinese to keep coming – as investors, not workers

Last year, 31,000 workers from China arrived in Indonesia to start up new plants such as in smelting, cement and power plants. Chinese entrepreneurs are also arriving in search of opportunities. Half of the projected 20 million tourists expected to arrive in Indonesia in 2019 will be Chinese.

Chinese money is funding a long list of infrastructure projects in Indonesia, from ports, to roads and railways.

In downtown Jakarta, China Sonangol – which began its foray overseas in Angola – is building one of the country's tallest buildings, at 303 metres. Not all the projects grab headlines for the right reasons. The high-speed railway project linking Jakarta to Bandung in West Java has been stalled by disputed land rights, more than a year after its ground-breaking ceremony witnessed by Widodo himself.

Predictably, the influx of Chinese money and manpower has provoked some anxiety among Indonesians. Last December, more than a 100 undergraduates in Sulawesi, where Chinese nickel smelters are being built, blocked trucks they suspected of transporting illegal Chinese workers.

When Indonesian authorities launched new currency notes, there were even accusations that they looked too similar to Chinese money. The country's hyperactive social media went into overdrive, with one piece of fake news claiming that the commander of the Indonesian armed forces had complained that "communist China has started to meddle" in the country.

But talk of Indonesia coming under Chinese hegemony is probably far-fetched, underestimating the Southeast Asian giant's own heft and political wiliness in handling its diplomacy. Indonesia does not want nor need to get too close to any big power, say experts.

Christine Susanna Tjhin, of Jakarta's Centre for Strategic and International Studies, says: "In order to maintain a certain degree of strategic autonomy, Indonesia cannot depend too much on any major power – particularly a country like China, with which Indonesia has a dramatically complex history."

Asked about its relations with China and the United States, Widodo says: "Our foreign policy is based on the belief that we can be friends with any party on the basis of mutual benefit. This is our principle."

In an exclusive interview with This Week in Asia ahead of his visit to Hong Kong and Beijing, Widodo downplayed the political risks surrounding the rush of Chinese investments into his country.

"In a country as big as Indonesia, these small problems shouldn't be magnified," he says. But he also stressed that Chinese companies must do their part to minimise that risk, by localising their workforce and transferring expertise.

Widodo cites Hong Kong companies as a positive example. "They respect our law, our culture, our society," he says. In his indirect, Javanese fashion, he hints that Chinese companies should do the same.

Clearly, Indonesia needs to manage perceptions, not just the reality, of its relations with China.

Tjhin said the ambivalence and occasional anger over China's investments indicated the "low level of trust" that the Indonesian public had towards its giant Asian neighbour. "Jokowi still needs to tread carefully while engaging China," she says, using a nickname for Widodo.

The China Chamber of Commerce's Zhang Min is similarly tentative but not alarmist. "There won't be a big impact as long as the political situation is stable, and there is still potential for economic growth," he says. "If Indonesia turns to protectionism or xenophobia, then the impact will be [great]."

Anxieties about a rising China are, of course, not unique to Indonesia. The additional factor, though, is the country's simmering religious intolerance, which is where last week's election raises a red flag.

"During the recent Jakarta Governor election, unfortunately certain groups did whip up anti-Chinese and hardline Muslim sentiments, to be used as political weapons," says Thomas Lembong, chairman of Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board and an ethnic Chinese himself.

"However, those tactics only worked because during the campaign, incumbent Governor Ahok often displayed some of our worst traits as elite ethnic Chinese-Indonesians: confrontational, aggressive, brash. It's a wake-up call for us elite ethnic Chinese-Indonesians, to be more attuned to Indonesian culture, which is soft-spoken and very respectful.

"We need to make sure, that Chinese investment into Indonesia, which is soaring and which is bringing massive benefits for the Indonesian economy, does not fall victim to our failure, as elite ethnic-Chinese Indonesians, to be better citizens."

And while the open hate speech against non-Muslims during the campaign was troubling, observers as well as officials say it would be a mistake to extrapolate from the election and predict that Islamists will take over and slam shut Indonesia's doors.

Businessmen on the ground appear to be taking the election tensions in their stride, according to Tjhin. While there remain "concerns over safety and stability in Indonesia", she does not yet find indications of a serious decline of interest from Chinese companies and the government.

Intense media narratives aside, the big anti-Basuki rallies and the election itself were relatively peaceful, she points out. "Most of the Chinese business people that I spoke to are more concerned with consistencies in laws and regulation, especially related to investment and labour, rather than the identity politics," she says.

Then there is the speculation that Basuki's defeat presages Widodo's own downfall against a rising tide of Islamism when he fights for re-election in 2019.

In his first presidential election, Widodo had a close shave against Prabowo Subianto, the former son-in-law of the late strongman ruler Suharto.

In the Jakarta governor's race, Prabowo backed Anies Baswedan in what was widely seen as a proxy battle ahead of a return match against Widodo in 2019. When asked about 2019, he laughs, offers his serene, inscrutable smile and declares: "I am focused on the work. I am going to continue working. I have never thought about the politics, that's too far ahead."

Still, too far ahead or not, the talk continues. But Kevin O'Rourke, a long-time Indonesia analyst, is not persuaded that what happened to the Jakarta governor will happen to the Indonesian president. He believes Widodo will prevail against his old foe.

"Widodo will have far better prospects for winning the moderate mainstream, as he himself is very well known by now as being quintessentially mainstream," he says. "In the national election, I expect that religious identity will matter far less than economic conditions, especially food price stability and employment trends." How the Australian SAS raised the ghosts of Indonesia's brutal past

Whatever his true sentiments, Widodo himself does a convincing job of appearing unperturbed. He says the morning after the bruising Jakarta election, Anies met with Ahok.

"In Indonesia, we have silatulrahmi, or friendship, a coming together. This is normal, in any election, there will be winners, there will be losers," he says. "In Indonesia, we have bhinneka tunggal ika," he adds, referring to the national slogan in Sanskrit, which means unity in diversity.

The inflammatory rhetoric and polarisation in the nation's capital over the past six months were just a show, he suggests. "Everybody knows in the end we can come together and we can live in unity. What is there to worry about?" he says, thrusting his chin assertively, all the while smiling.

If the peace-loving, non-blinkered view of religion of the Sumatran couple Pak Eeng and Ade represents the Indonesian mainstream, Widodo may be right.

Source: http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2091624/whos-afraid-islamists-not-widodo

Morning star rising

New Internationalist - April 29, 2017

After 54 years of struggle under Indonesian rule, is freedom finally in sight for West Papua? Danny Chivers investigates.

Imagine a referendum in which just 0.2 per cent of the population were allowed to vote. Imagine that every one of those voters was marched to the voting station at gunpoint, and told exactly what choice to make. Would you believe the result truly represented the wishes of the people?

This is exactly what happened in the Pacific nation of West Papua in 1969. The occupying Indonesian army marched 1,026 handpicked West Papuans (from a population of 800,000) in front of election officials. These 'voters' were ordered to raise their hands at the right moment or be shot. This 'Act of Free Choice' was then presented to the world as an unequivocal vote in favour of Indonesia's claim over West Papua, and rubberstamped at the United Nations by the US, the UK, Australia and their allies. The lands, forests and mountains that had been home to the Indigenous West Papuan people for 50,000 years were handed over to Indonesian President Suharto's military regime – along with the vast reserves of gold, copper and natural gas buried beneath them.

Forty-eight years later, in January 2017, I'm sitting in a packed-out conference room in the UKParliament building in Westminster. We are here to see West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda launch a global petition, calling on the UN to oversee a fresh independence vote in his country to replace the sham referendum from 1969. Benny stands, ceremonial feathered headdress on his head, and tells the gathered MPs, journalists and supporters about the decades of human rights abuses his people have suffered under Indonesian occupation. His speech is accompanied by something I've never seen before – a video of demonstrations that took place in West Papua in the previous 24 hours, in solidarity with this meeting. We see groups of West Papuans in jungle villages holding up the Morning Star independence flag – a criminal act that carries a 15-year sentence in Indonesia – and thanking us for coming to Westminster today. One group of protesters have filmed themselves inside an Indonesian jail. Every participant in these actions will have done so at great personal risk of reprisal from the Indonesian military.

The people of West Papua are rising again, determined to reclaim the voice that was denied to them almost 50 years ago. After decades of struggle and brutal repression, recent events have propelled their fight for freedom back onto the world stage. If we're serious about defending human rights and tackling climate change, this is the moment to stand with West Papua – the survival of an entire culture and the preservation of the world's third-largest rainforest are hanging in the balance. But time is running out.

West Papua makes up the western half of New Guinea, the world's second-largest island. The division between West Papua and the independent country of Papua New Guinea is an artificial line dating back to when the British, Dutch and German empires colonized the island.

Paradise divided

West Papua is an extraordinary place, with a civilization stretching back tens of thousands of years and rainforests teeming with species found nowhere else on the planet. Ever since Indonesian troops first marched into West Papua in 1961, the government has sought to tighten its grip on this resource-rich, lushly forested territory. This has involved military occupation – at least 15,000 troops are stationed in West Papua1, making it one of the most militarized zones in Southeast Asia – and also the transmigration of Indonesians into West Papua. In several key regions, the Indigenous population is now outnumbered by Indonesian settlers. 'In 1999, Indonesia had set up just nine regencies [local administrative areas] within West Papua,' says Octovianus (Octo) Mote, Secretary-General of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). 'Today, they have 43, and are planning to expand to 73, each with its own police stations and military base. This is all to accommodate new settlers and further outnumber our people. The kind of colonial history that took Western powers many years to carry out is happening here at high speed.'

Indonesians run the majority of businesses in cities like Sorong and Jayapura; they control most of the wealth in West Papua, while the Indigenous population is treated as an underclass. In the words of Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman: 'When you arrive at Jayapura airport, the officers behind the desk are all immigrants, while the West Papuans are the porters. If you go into town, the shop owners are all immigrants, while West Papuans are selling betel nuts on the road.'

This kind of colonial takeover by an invading force puts Western fears over immigration into sharp perspective. Migrants and refugees arriving in Europe, Australia and the US present little or no threat to these countries' cultural and political dominance; the people of West Papua, on the other hand, are at the sharp end of purposeful transmigration policies from an occupying power seeking to cement control over their lands and natural resources.

Countless and uncounted

Dissent is often met with violence and arbitrary arrest. According to Jason Macleod of the University of Sydney: 'Acts of state violence occur all over West Papua and are carried out by all parts of the security forces. [Human rights violations] include killing, torture, sexual assault and deprivation of liberty.'

Gathering statistics on these abuses is near-impossible, thanks to Indonesia's ban on human rights organizations entering the region, and tight media restrictions. Local journalists are routinely bribed, threatened, arrested or killed; foreign media are largely banned.

Estimates of the total number of West Papuans killed by security forces range from 100,000 to 500,000.2 The vast majority of deaths go unreported by official media sources; I have been told of villagers stacking skulls in caves as evidence of atrocities that might otherwise be forgotten.

Unequal access to healthcare, education and employment means that Indigenous West Papuans have much higher rates of poverty, illiteracy, child mortality and HIV infection than the rest of the Indonesian population. Jim Elmslie of Sydney University observed that between 1971 and 2000, the Indigenous West Papuan population grew 50 per cent more slowly than the population of neighbouring Papua New Guinea, resulting in 360,000 'missing Papuans'.3

West Papuans gain little benefit from mining and drilling projects from companies like Freeport and BP that trash their food sources and poison their water supplies. Indonesian-backed logging and palm-oil plantations are cutting swathes through the rainforest in a process Octo Mote describes as 'destroying the lungs of the world'.

Jennifer Robinson of International Lawyers for West Papua is in no doubt that all of this amounts to a slow-moving genocide: 'It's a constant, low-level conflict where West Papuans are dying all the time – from state violence, from the HIV epidemic, from a lack of access to healthcare, from being forced off their land. If we don't act fast to secure their rights then we will lose the West Papuans as a people.'

United voices

But those people have always refused to go quietly. For decades, the under-equipped and outnumbered forces of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) have maintained a guerrilla resistance from the jungle, supported by a growing civil resistance movement in the cities and now a new wave of international support.

A game-changing event was the foundation of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) in December 2014, an umbrella group that has succeeded in uniting the disparate factions of the freedom movement for the first time. Emboldened by their new united leadership, West Papuans have been taking to the streets in unprecedented numbers. The surge in political arrests in West Papua from 370 in 2014 to 8,000 in 2016 reflects both the growth in the movement, and Indonesia's increasingly repressive attempts to crack down on it.

The West Papuan people are refusing to be cowed. 'Last December, the police fired water cannons at West Papuan protesters – and they started dancing in the jets of water!' says Veronica Koman. 'Then 17 people were arrested in Jayapura for Free West Papua graffiti. They were released the following day, went straight back and did the very same thing again! They're not afraid any more.'

Every significant international development now sparks mass demonstrations in West Papua. Smartphones and social media are allowing the movement to bypass the media blackout and share their struggle with the world, which has helped drive a new wave of solidarity action across the Pacific region – particularly in countries like Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands that share West Papua's ethnic Melanesian roots. This new sense of regional solidarity has in turn helped to push Pacific governments to take an active international stand.

'They are now free, but West Papua is still under colonialism,' says Victor Yeimo, chair of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB). 'Melanesian solidarity is not a racial sentiment, it's about the responsibility of our brothers and sisters to help their family in West Papua.' Despite fierce protests from Indonesia, in 2015 the ULMWP was formally accepted as an Observer member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group of countries (MSG), and seven Pacific states spoke up in support of West Papua at the UN in 2016.

Power and responsibility

In May 2016, MPs from around the world signed up to the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP)'s 'Westminster Declaration', calling on the UN to oversee a new independence referendum. The event was celebrated with huge gatherings in West Papua that resulted in 2,000 arrests.

Meanwhile, the IPWP's sibling group International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP) is calling for the recognition of Indonesia's actions in West Papua as genocide, pushing for a UN investigation into human rights abuses, and challenging the legitimacy of the Act of Free Choice. Although the legal case is clear – the West Papuans were denied their right to self-determination – getting it heard at the International Court of Justice requires majority support at the UN General Assembly, another reason why international support is so vital for the West Papuan cause. Meanwhile, a growing number of Indonesian citizens are joining the demonstrations. Surya Anta, spokesperson for the Indonesian People's Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua), says: 'For the first time in Indonesian history we have a united solidarity movement which acknowledges West Papua as a nation and supports their right to self-determination.' That solidarity is starting to be returned. Activists from the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) joined Indonesian protests against a proposed land-grabbing cement plant at Kendeng, and against forced evictions in Yogyakarta. This is extremely significant, as the support of Indonesian citizens was key to the successful campaign for the independence of Timor-Leste in 1999.

These are all hopeful signs – but this moment of opportunity could easily be lost, crushed beneath Indonesia's ever-harsher military crackdowns. International solidarity is urgently needed, and many of us have a special responsibility here. The British and US governments knew in 1969 that the vote was a sham and that most West Papuans wanted independence.4They and their allies supported Indonesia's claim at the UN anyway. Today, British, US and Australian corporations profit from mining projects that destroy West Papua's forests, and from the sale of weapons used to repress its people. We must refuse to be complicit, and speak out.

Together, we can beat Indonesia's media black­out and share West Papua's struggle with the world. We can pressure our governments to right the wrongs of the past, and give the West Papuan people the real independence vote they have been denied for so long. As Victor Yeimo says, 'Tell your government, your media, your church, your organization, your family, your friends. Whatever your skills or talents, find a way to bring them to our struggle. We need you.'

Source: https://newint.org/features/2017/05/01/morning-star-rising/

Pressed into silence: West Papua, Indonesia & World Press Freedom Day

New Internationalist Blog - April 27, 2017

Victor Mambor and Cyril Payen – As Indonesia prepares to host World Press Freedom Day, accusations of hypocrisy are growing louder. The Indonesian government is notorious for restricting journalism within the occupied territory of West Papua – something that West Papuan journalist Victor Mambor and Cyril Payen of France24 have both experienced.

Every year, on May 3rd, we celebrate the basic principles of press freedom. World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) exists to give an annual evaluation of global press freedom; to stand up for the independence of the press from violence; and to pay tribute to those who have lost their life carrying their journalistic duties.

This year, Indonesia is the host of WPFD. Many activities are planned for the celebration from May 1st to 4th, 2017, which will include 1200 participants from 100 countries. It seems that Indonesia, a country which ranks 124 out of 180 on the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2017 Press Freedom Index, wants to convince the international community that media freedom is in fact its priority.

Unfortunately, the Indonesian government's record does not match its rhetoric, particularly in the eastern Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua (often known collectively as West Papua). These two provinces have faced serious issues: restrictions are placed on foreign journalists, while violence and discrimination against Papuan journalists and bribery are common occurrences.

Access denied

In May 2015, President Joko Widodo declared that access restrictions for foreign journalists in West Papua would be lifted, and Indonesia claimed they then gave permission to 39 foreign journalists to report in the region. However, figures from the Alliance of Independent Journalists in Papua show that only 15 foreign journalists have in fact been permitted to enter West Papua since 2015, and many have faced difficulties in reporting independently.

The visa application for Radio New Zealand International reporter, Johnny Blades took almost two years to be approved, and only after he was able to convince the Indonesian Embassy that he would only cover development issues. Even then, he was accompanied by police and military officers who would not let him film everything he wanted.

Radio France reporter, Marie Dhumieres, was spied on by police while reporting from West Papua in 2015. 'The police arrested two Papuan civilians for helping me gain access to a plane. They were interrogated by the police,' said Dhumieres.

Discrimination and violence

In February 2017, research by WAN-IFRA (The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers) concluded that government officials and security forces are discriminating against Indigenous Papuan journalists, who are stigmatized as supporters of the Free West Papua Movement. One reporter from Papua Selatan Pos admitted that he experienced intimidation from the police and government, including the banning of two of his publications in 2007 and 2008. He was threatened with criminal charges and prohibited from reporting on President Joko Widodo's investment programme in the Merauke region.

When Papuan civilians are shot or arrested, Indigenous Papuan journalists find it very difficult to get any information from the security forces. 'When a shooting incident took place towards a civilian in Boven Digoel, I asked for confirmation from the police chief via text message. Instead of confirming the incident, he said "I thought you were banned from reporting",' revealed Arnold Belau, a reporter from Suara Papua.

Indigenous Papuan journalists including the late Octovianus Pogau, Abeth You (Koran Jubi), and Ardi Bayage (Suara Papua) have experienced violence from police officers during their coverage of peaceful public rallies in West Papua.

Abeth describes one such incident from 2015: 'After I took pictures of activists, police officers from Jayapura Municipality Police later came out from a police truck to disperse the protesters. There was a police officer that acted brutally against the demonstrators. He came towards me, seized my camera and deleted my photos. He insisted that I was a demonstrator, although I showed him my press card.'

Ardi Bayage was even put in the Abepura police cells for covering a West Papua National Committee (KNBP) demonstration in support the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). He was arrested and put in jail with seven other demonstrators. Later, the police said they did not know that Bayage was a journalist.

From 2012 to 2016, the Alliance of Independent Journalists of Jayapura Municipality recorded 63 cases of violence against journalists in West Papua. None of these cases led to any legal consequences for the police.

Cash for good news

'At first, I was amazed to see so many journalists waiting around at the end of interview sessions with officials. I then found out that they were actually waiting for their money.' said one journalist who works for a media base in Jakarta. Another journalist confessed that regional officials are willing to give large sums of money to make up news about the success of development projects in West Papua, even if the real facts are very different.

Bribery has become a serious issue for journalists in West Papua. According to RSF's 2017 Press Freedom Index, the practice is partly driven by the low salary of journalists in West Papua. Journalists receive bribes from officials as a reward for writing positive stories about the region. As a consequence, journalists rarely report problematic issues such as environmental degradation from development projects or violence against civilians from the security forces.

Tightening the web

The government of Indonesia is now treating communications technology as a threat. Websites that have raised the issues of human rights violations in West Papua are now starting to be banned in Indonesia. After suarapapua.com was banned in 2016, the government has also blocked a range of websites including ampnews.org, infopapua.org, papuapost.com, freepapua.com, freewestpapua.org, bennywenda.org and ulmwp.org.

'The government claims that access has been restricted because those websites had "separatist" content. But we need to ensure that any such restrictions meet accepted human rights standards,' said Asep Komarudin, Research Coordinator of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers Jakarta). He believes that websites should not be restricted unless the process is clear, transparent and recognized by law. Any determination of content should be carried out by a judicial authority or an independent body, not the government.

All of these issues should be of great concern to anyone involved in celebrating World Press Freedom Day in Jakarta. Double standards in press freedom are not something to be proud of!

Victor Mambor is Editor of the West Papuan newspaper Tabloid Jubi. He was former chairperson for The Alliance of Independent Journalist in Papua (2010-2016). Now he is a press expert of the Indonesia Press Council.

Cyril Payen: 'Too good to be true'

I have lived and worked for more than 20 years in Asia. My reporting took me from Burma to North Korea, from the jungles of the Southern Philippines to Tibet – but there was still one place, a remote, wild and inaccessible region bordering Asia and the Pacific, an area I had always dreamt to visit: West Papua.

This remote region annexed by Indonesia had always been a journalist's fantasy, an impossible challenge. There were a few amazing stories over the years of colleagues spending months in the Papuan swamps among machete-wielding guerrillas, or of foreigners vanishing at the border with Papua New Guinea. Stories of daring reporters too, being arrested and deported from Jayapura and banned from Indonesia after trying to get into the region undercover.

More than five decades ago Indonesia brutally annexed this region with no noticeable reaction from the outside world. The area had been always off limits to humanitarian organizations as well as foreign journalists. Forty-five thousand troops were said to be currently stationed here: more than anywhere else in the country. Years of repression had resulted in hundreds of thousands of victims among the local West Papuan population. Why did Jakarta have such an interest in this land? Why were they keeping it sealed up?

Then, in 2014, a new reform-oriented president was elected in Indonesia. Joko Widodo's ideas, programme and intentions sounded very promising.

After just a few months in office, the new president declared that off-limits provinces like Papua and West Papua were now accessible to anyone without needing a permit. It sounded too good to be true, so I immediately contacted officials from the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs in Jakarta. Surprisingly, it took less than two weeks to obtain a press visa for West Papua. On a misty morning of June 2015, I was finally landing at Jayapura airport after a long flight over the immense Indonesian archipelago.

Working in a place which has been closed for decades is not easy. Fully aware of the huge military intelligence network in place in Indonesia that I had experienced in East Timor, Aceh and Ambon over the years, I was instinctively watching my back upon arrival in West Papua, checking the streets for distinctive men with black leather biker jackets – a trademark look for Indonesian undercover police. More importantly, I did not rush to get in touch with local dissidents and human rights activists so as not to compromise them. It really goes with the job to be cautious, and not take for granted any sudden change of rules. Frankly, I was expecting to be followed and spied upon. After a few days, it was clear I was not.

Staying for a while in Jayapura, I could work quite freely, even sneaking into the provincial jail to meet political leaders and 'Papua Merdeka' (Free West Papua) members. Jayapura was obviously becoming a carbon copy of other major industrialized Indonesian cities. Sadly, all traces of Papuan culture had nearly vanished already. Through a massive and uncontrolled transmigration plan, hundreds of thousands of Indonesians had been relocated here. Dramatic demographic changes had occurred already: the Papuans had become a minority.

So I decided to leave the city. And then the problems started.

I left for the Baliem Valley, at the heart of the island. I headed through one of the wildest and most remote regions on earth to reach Tolikara, a village perched almost 2000 meters above sea level. It was less than a century ago that outsiders stumbled across this remote area. Today a growing number of Indonesians are migrating to Tolikara, creating an uneasy peace with local tribes. Here, I started to be followed, and my contacts began to be watched. My Papuan driver mysteriously changed overnight, being replaced by an Indonesian man from Java who happened to be a military intelligence operative. The day after my visit, violent incidents started in Tolikara. The police shot several local villagers demonstrating against the Indonesian presence. After a few days into the Baliem Valley, I radically changed my way of working, starting to be very cautious and to move quickly. Back to Jayapura, two intelligence officers were waiting for me, quietly sitting in the lobby of my hotel. It suddenly looked like the old days. My filming was done. The next morning, I was gone.

A few months later, my documentary 'La Guerre Oubliee des Papous' ('Papua's Forgotten War') was broadcast worldwide on France 24. The Indonesian embassy in Paris immediately reacted by summoning the French Ambassador in Jakarta to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the tense meeting, the diplomat was told I had 'betrayed' their trust and that my film was 'biased'. As a result, I would be denied any Indonesian visa from that day forwards. The president's promises had not lasted long. It was, indeed, too good to be true.

[Cyril Payen is the Middle East correspondent for France 24. Some of his coverage from West Papua can be seen on France 24.]

Source: https://newint.org/blog/2017/04/27/west-papua-indonesia-world-press-freedom-day/

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