Jakarta Amnesty International and Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Muslim organization, have called for the end of human rights violations in Palestine in light of the Israeli government's 50-year occupation of the territory.
"Over the last 50 years, Israel has uprooted thousands of Palestinians from their land, which they in turn occupied and created settlements reserved for Israeli citizens," said Rumadi, head of Nahdlatul Ulama's (NU) research unit Lakpesdam, in Jakarta on Wednesday (07/06).
Meanwhile, Amnesty International's Indonesia country director, Usman Hamid, urged the international community to ban imported goods from Israeli-occupied lands in Palestine.
"One of the highlights of this campaign is our insistence that the international community take steps to ban all imported goods produced from illegally occupied territories on Palestinian land," Usman said.
The country director also said the struggle to stop human rights abuses in Palestine should continue unabated to create better living standards for Palestinians.
"This campaign is aimed to give voice to civilians who have suffered human rights violations in Palestine [...] many of them have become refugees in their own territory."
In order for Indonesia to contribute greater support to the Palestinian cause, Usman said, the Southeast Asian country needs to play a greater role in global political affairs. "Indonesia needs to assert itself on the global political map."
Usman also urged other countries and private businesses to sever ties with Israeli companies who manufacture goods on Palestinian land.
Makarim Wibisono, a former United Nations special monitor for human rights abuses in Palestine, said businesses must be thorough in determining if products they trade for are made on occupied territory.
"They maneuver by changing brands of products," Makarim said. "If we get together and put economic pressure on Israel, hopefully it will have an impact."
Amnesty International Indonesia called on the government to stop enabling the Israeli violation of Palestinian territory by signing an online petition to boycott goods manufactured on occupied land.
All five bishops serving in Indonesia's Papua and West Papua provinces have come under fire from indigenous Papuan Catholics for "staying silent" over alleged social injustices.
Their anger prompted them to stage a protest outside the venue where Archbishop Nicolaus Adi Seputra of Merauke, Bishop Leo Laba Ladjar of Jayapura, Bishop Aloysius Murwito of Agats-Asmat, Bishop John Philip Saklil of Timika, and Bishop Hilarion Datus Lega of Manokwari-Sorong were holding an annual meeting to discuss local church matters.
The meeting was held at the Maranatha Waena Convent in Jayapura, capital of Papua province.
"The bishops stay silent instead of speaking up more about injustices faced by indigenous people. They let our dignity be torn up by unfair developments in areas such as health, education and even politics," protest organizer, Christianus Dogopia said.
Local governments only focus on development programs in urban areas, where the majority are non-Papuans. He pointed to the availability of health care facilities in towns and cities as one example.
"Those living in remote areas cannot go to towns or cities as they do not have enough money even for public transport."
Soleman Itlay, a Papuan activist who deals with health issues, also joined the protest. He said many indigenous people in remote areas die because of a lack of health care facilities.
Responding to the rally, Bishop Murwito promised to meet the protesters' demand. "We will pay more serious attention to their demands," he said, adding that he and other bishops will work together with priests and parishes to deal with the issues.
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has urged Indonesia's government to put words into action about helping the Pacific with climate change.
This follows comments by Indonesia's ambassador to New Zealand, Tantowi Yahya, that Jakarta was committed to helping Pacific Island states confront big issues such as climate change. He said Indonesia would assist the Pacific with capacity building on the issue.
However the Liberation Movement's Pacific regional ambassador says if Indonesia wants to help on climate change it should stop allowing high rates of carbon emissions across the republic.
Akaboo Amatus Douw says Jakarta must stop the many national and international companies whose operations in Indonesia contribute to the global warming causing havoc for Pacific Islands.
Papua region, where clearance of forest for palm oil development remains rampantis considered by environmental groups as one of the areas of most concern regarding emissions.
Meanwhile, Mr Douw said the Indonesian ambassador made a false statement in claiming that West Papuans are happy being part of Indonesia. He said Papuans feel "culturally, ethically and socially" distinct from the rest of Indonesia and seek independent statehood.
The Liberation Movement diplomat also said Jakarta's claims about developing Papua for the better were misleading. "Indonesia just wake up yesterday to try infrastructure development in West Papua after the course going to world attention globally," he said
West Papua, he said, would not develop better with what he called Indonesia's "discriminative model of infrastructure and social economic development".
Eman Riberu, Merauke A local government's decision in Papua to pull licenses for a number plantation companies has won overwhelming backing from the Catholic Church and local people, calling the move a victory for the environment.
The Merauke regency government revoked the permits of 11 palm oil and sugarcane plantations last week, saying their presence were of little benefit to local people.
The deputy regent of Merauke, Sularso who like many Indonesians goes by only one name said land that had been leased to the companies would be returned to their owners.
The decision to revoke existing licenses goes a step further than following a moratorium imposed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo in April last year halting the issuing of new permits for plantation firms for at least three years.
Father Anselmus Amo, chairman of Merauke Diocese's secretariat of Justice and Peace, said the move was welcome news and long overdue. "The presence of palm oil companies harms indigenous peoples, their land rights and the environment," Father Amo said.
These plantations have "caused the loss of tens of thousands of hectares of forest in Merauke, damaging the environment and creating land conflicts," he said.
He called on local government to do more and monitor the activities of plantation companies still operating in Merauke more closely.
The church, wants local government to conduct a detailed assessment of the environmental and socio-cultural impacts palm oil companies have by involving academics, practitioners and indigenous peoples.
Elisabeth Ndiwaen, a leader of the local Marind tribal community, said her people looked forward to taking back their land but expressed bitterness that much of it had been ruined by deforestation.
Forests are like the womb of a mother who gives life. From the forest they can get food by hunting and harvesting other crops, she said.
"Nature provides for free, but the value of the land is now reduced because forests have been cleared by palm oil companies," she added.
Some 42,000 hectares of lush tribal forest land had been destroyed by palm oil firms in Ngguti district alone, Ndiwaen said.
Merauke Regency covers about 4.6 million hectares, 95.3 percent was forest. As of today, more than 1.6 million hectares has been given to companies, of which 316,347 hectares were for palm oil plantations.
Papua province is predominantly Christian. Some 65 percent of the province's 3.2 million people are Protestant, 18 percent are Catholic, while 15 percent are Muslim.
Stephen Wright, Jakarta, Indonesia A major church in Indonesia's predominantly Christian Papua province said a riot in the provincial capital last month was sparked by the military burning Bibles, contradicting the police account of events.
A report by the Evangelical Christian Church in Papua said a priest and another man from a local congregation took photos of burnt New Testament Bibles at a military base in Jayapura and took several away as evidence.
It said the two men and city officials unsuccessfully tried to calm the crowd that gathered outside the base on May 25 after reports of Bible burning spread on social media. Protesters threw rocks, burned tires and blocked a road as they demanded that soldiers be handed over to them for punishment.
At the time, police said soldiers had burned rubbish and distributed photos of a mass of burned materials that included a book on theology that they annotated with text saying "this is not the Bible."
The military's spokesman in Papua, Teguh Pudji Rahardjo, on Thursday acknowledged that Bibles had been burnt but said it was an accident that was still being investigated.
He said some bibles and theological books that had been brought from Java for distribution to Christians in Papua were inadvertently mixed in with rubbish that was cleared out of the base's mess. "Like all Indonesians, we as members of the Indonesian Military are religious people, and we respect all religions," Rahardjo said.
The incident is indicative of the tensions that simmer in Indonesia's two easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua, which are culturally and ethnically distinct from the rest of the sprawling Southeast Asian archipelago, the world's most populous Muslim nation.
A low-level insurgency and resentment at Indonesian rule has endured since the 1960s, when Indonesia annexed the region. It restricts foreign journalists from reporting in both provinces.
Jayapura's chief of police was bruised in an attack by protesters and his aide was hospitalized with stab wounds and an injured nose and jaw, according to both church and police accounts. Three protesters suffered gunshot wounds when police and troops dispersed the crowd.
The police statement said a water cannon was used but the church's report said two armored vehicles from the military base had fired at the crowd.
The Evangelical Christian Church in Papua has about 600,000 members and dates its origins to German missionaries in the 1850s.
Johnny Blades Even before the Indonesian ambassador took up the position, an interview with him was inevitable.
Tantowi Yahya declared last December that it was his mission to educate New Zealanders about Indonesia's Papua region, or West Papua.
Now, two short months into his posting as Jakarta's man in Wellington, there has been a spike in local activity around West Papua.
The exiled West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda came to town last month to lobby support for West Papuan self-determination.
As a result, eleven New Zealand MPs from four political parties signed an international declaration calling for an internationally supervised self-determination vote in Papua.
It coincided with another protest to the Indonesian embassy where demonstrators gathered to call for West Papuan freedom.
A parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Trade Select Committee has also been considering a petition urging New Zealand's government to address reported ongoing human rights abuses by security forces in West Papua.
"We understand the perception that hangs around in connection with Papua," the ambassador explained to me across the table in RNZ Pacific's Wellington studio.
"For that reason our police and military have been doing their job very carefully. So they have been informed and very well trained not to do anything that can abuse human rights... But then the news that spreads to the world is the other way around."
Tantowi is a smooth talker. It's only when you hear his accomplished grasp of English and polished tone on the mic that it makes sense that this diplomat is a former country music singer.
Not only that, he was a television presenter of some renown who hosted the Indonesian edition of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?.
He then had a stint in Indonesia's House of Representatives during which time he expressed concern about the move by Indonesia's President Joko Widodo to ease restrictions on access to Papua for foreign journalists. But now, Tantowi explained, he is on board with the President's opening up of Papua.
Development in Papua, he said, was "running in high speed", a mark of President Jokowi's commitment to empowering grassroots communities and building infrastructure.
"So that in a very short time, our brothers and sisters who live in Papua can enjoy what is enjoyed by their brothers and sisters living in other provinces."
In his first diplomatic role, Tantowi said the relationship between Indonesia and New Zealand was good, but he's seeking a better level of awareness of each other. Given the growing interest about Papua in New Zealand, this is an area requiring clarity, he said.
According to him, it was not accurate to suggest that the powerful Indonesian military and police forces were in control of Papua, rather than government. Furthermore, he pointed to the fact that the provinces of Papua and West Papua, and their regencies, were these days governed by ethnic Papuans.
The Governor of Papua province, Lukas Enembe, has warned that the indigenous population face extinction as a people if rampant migration of non-Papuans into their region continued.
The ambassador took a more positive view of the trend. "Indonesians are free to live and work anywhere they want, and because Papua is part of Indonesia, they can go there," he said.
While non-Papuans tended to dominate business in Papua, the ambassador did not see it as an area of concern. "Well, business is something new for Papua people, so they need to learn. This is a kind of transfer of knowledge from the migrants to the ethnic Papuans."
Benny Wenda's United Liberation Movement for West Papua has been spearheading a growing internationalisation of the independence struggle. But Ambassador Tantowi said the indigenous population of Papua region was not pushing for independence.
The push for a referendum, he claimed, was coming from overseas-based elements who did not represent the local populace. "The people of Papua majority, they love being with Indonesia," he said, "they are happy with what we have been doing so far."
The ambassador concluded the interview with a heads-up about upcoming celebrations to mark the anniversary of Indonesia's independence.
Various cultural installations are seen as being a way to help grow New Zealanders' understanding of Indonesian people, while the governments of the two countries also forge closer ties. As the relationship develops, the narrative on West Papua continues to grow.
Vilimaina Naqelevuki, Suva Media access to West Papua, where more than half a million of its indigenous people have reportedly been killed over five decades, remains restricted.
News coverage of the alleged genocide is extremely difficult because of the restrictions on local and foreign media. Some West Papuan journalists have also died in their effort to tell the truth about the deaths that largely occur in remote rural areas.
This makes news coverage of the alleged atrocities in the Indonesia-occupied land extremely difficult.
West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda, in an online interview, told Wansolwara the restrictions allowed for the atrocities to remain "silenced".
And even if access was granted after the labyrinthine effort, "journalists cannot go freely to report on politics in West Papua," he said.
"They will get followed and questioned by Indonesian intelligence and West Papuans will suffer intimidation and threats if they speak to journalists."
Papua New Guinea Media Council president Alexander Rheeney said West Papua's struggle of more than 50 years had only been given prominence in the region's mainstream media in recent years.
Less than 10 years ago, the mainstream news media in neighbouring countries like Fiji, Australia and New Zealand, ignored the situation in West Papua. It was effectively a media "black hole".
Rheeney said it was more challenging for Pacific journalists whose governments recognised the sovereignty Indonesia had over West Papua.
"The media in PNG have reported on West Papua and all the human rights abuses but not as much as we would want it to despite the fact that PNG and West Papua share a land order," he said.
The increasing coverage by Pacific news media should be commended, said journalism educator Professor David Robie.
Dr Robie, director of the Auckland-based Pacific Media Centre, who has regularly written and published news on West Papua's struggle for more than three decades, said it was a huge relief that the Pacific was "finally waking up to the issue of West Papua".
"This an issue of Melanesian solidarity, Pacific solidarity an issue of self-determination, and the Pacific countries that got independence on a plate ought to be telling this story," he said.
Dr Robie was one of the keynote speakers invited last month to the Free Media in West Papua forum at the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day 2017 conference in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. He spoke along with Indonesian and Papuan human rights activists and Tabloid Jubi editor Victor Mambor of Jayapura.
Pacific Freedom Forum editor Jason Brown said it was an utter disgrace that some in mainstream media published or broadcast stories on wars from other regions and "not in our own backyard".
"In recent years, RNZI has done a much better job of covering West Papua. The recent closure of shortwave services by Radio Australia, however, means that the region has lost reliable access to news on West Papua from that source," said Brown.
Rheeney warned that the region could not afford to fail fellow Pacific Islanders of West Papua. He said to do so would be to doom the Pacific region to more instability.
"If a prosperous Pacific region is to be ensured, the issue of West Papua must be addressed," he said.
"As journalists we can no longer continue to turn a blind eye on all the human rights abuses that is happening. "The PNG government can no longer turn a blind eye on what is happening on the other side of the border."
Dr Robie said that informed political decisions could not be reached if the news media were not allowed to report freely on West Papua. He said this lesson could easily be drawn from East-Timor's road to independence.
East Timor, which was also occupied by Indonesia in 1975, secured its independence after a handful of journalists exposed the human rights violations through video smuggled out of the Indonesian-ruled territory, especially after the Santa Cruz massacre in the capital Dili in 1991. Indonesia's control rapidly fell apart after international pressure.
"In-depth and timely media coverage will save lives as West Papua lurches towards independence which will come eventually no matter how hard Jakarta tries to block this," said Dr Robie.
Rheeney is also optimistic. He said Pacific journalists should continue to report on the issue, to keep the struggle in the news so that lasting solutions were found sooner and more bloodshed is prevented.
Krithika Varagur in Subang, West Java The reality of working in a factory making clothes for Ivanka Trump's label has been laid bare, with employees speaking of being paid so little they cannot live with their children, anti-union intimidation and women being offered a bonus if they don't take time off while menstruating.
The Guardian has spoken to more than a dozen workers at the fashion label's factory in Subang, Indonesia, where employees describe being paid one of the lowest minimum wages in Asia and there are claims of impossibly high production targets and sporadically compensated overtime.
The workers' complaints come only a week after labour activists investigating possible abuses at a Chinese factory that makes Ivanka Trump shoes disappeared into police custody.
The activists' group claimed they had uncovered a host of violations at the plant including salaries below China's legal minimum wage, managers verbally abusing workers and "violations of women's rights".
In the Indonesian factory some of the complaints are similar, although the wages paid to employees in Subang are much lower.
Here we look at life inside the factory through interviews with workers, all who have asked for their details to be changed to avoid losing their jobs.
Alia is nothing if not industrious. She has worked in factories on and off since leaving her provincial high school, through the birth of two children, leading up to her current job making clothes for brands including Ivanka Trump at the PT Buma Apparel Industry factory in Subang, West Java.
Throughout her marriage to her husband, Ahmad, one or both of them has always worked. And yet, says Alia, the couple can never think about clearing their debts. Instead, what she has to show for years of work at PT Buma is two rooms in a dusty boarding house, rented for $30 a month and decorated with dozens of photos of their children because the couple can't dream of having enough money to have them at home.
The children live, instead, with their grandmother, hours away by motorcycle, and see their parents just one weekend a month, when they can afford the gasoline. Her idea of work-life balance, she said, would be if she could see her children more than once a month
Alia makes the legal minimum wage for her job in her province: 2.3 million rupiah, or about $173 a month but that legal minimum is among the lowest in Indonesia as a whole, and as much as 40% lower than in Chinese factories, another labour source for the Ivanka Trump brand.
PT Buma, a Korean-owned garment company started in Indonesia in 1999, is one of the suppliers of G-III Apparel Group, the wholesale manufacturer for prominent fashion brands including Trump's clothing. Many Buma workers know who Ivanka Trump is. Alia noticed her labels popping up on the clothes about a year ago.
Ahmad, who also works in the local garment industry and who, like his wife and most of the workers at her PT Buma factory, is an observant Muslim, said: "We don't like Donald Trump's policies."
He had followed news of the so-called Muslim ban on TV this year. "But we're not in a position to make employment decisions based on our principles," he said.
When Alia was told the gist of Ivanka Trump's new book on women in the workplace, she burst out laughing. Her idea of work-life balance, she said, would be if she could see her children more than once a month.
There are currently 2,759 workers at Buma, according to the regional manpower office, of which the total unionised workforce is about 200, split between two unions.
For the majority of non-union Buma workers, their job is a run-of-the-mill hardship to be endured. About three-quarters of them are women, many are mothers and several, like Alia, devote almost all their income to children with whom they can't afford to live.
Sita, 23, is one such worker. She had to drop out of college when her parents got sick, and started working at Buma last year. She told the Guardian that her contract will be terminated soon, after seven months of work.
"That's one of the company's ways to cope with extra expenses," she said. As a contract worker, she will not get any severance. "I can't stand it any more. I work unpaid overtime every day and still earn just 2.3 million [rupiah] a month. I'm planning to move from Subang, where the minimum wage is too low. But I don't know where to go yet. I haven't got any connections."
But for some the chance of a job and a pay packet albeit a small one is cause for some satisfaction. Eka, a single mother in her 30s with two children, who has spent seven years at Buma, told the Guardian: "I still like my job. It's not too hard."
And Yuma, a young unmarried woman, said, "I'm glad that I work at Buma now, because my parents are farmers and it's a tiring job. Here, at least there is air conditioning."
The workers spoken to appear to typify the average employee making Ivanka Trump clothes in Indonesia. They are not egregiously abused but are in circumstances so far removed from the first daughter's "women who work" brand that it was impossible for them to imagine a situation where anyone would wear the dresses they were sewing. Ivanka Trump stepped down from running her brand in January, although all products still bear her name on the label.
Women who are permanent employees at the Buma factory do get certain concessions: three months' paid maternity leave (usually split between six weeks of pregnancy and six weeks post-birth), mandatory federal health insurance and a monthly bonus of $10.50 if they don't take a day off for menstruation.
These reports of the Buma factory seem largely typical of the other factories in West Java, said Andriko Otang, of Indonesia's Trade Union Rights Centre. "Using unrealistic production targets to justify unpaid overtime is very common."
According to a photo of a timetable one worker showed the Guardian, the production targets, broken down for every half hour between 7am and 4pm, are between 58 and 92 garments per period, while the actual numbers produced are recorded as 27 to 40.
"The management is getting smarter: they tap out our ID cards at 4pm so you can't prove anything," said Wildan, a 25-year-old male worker.
Seven workers also said they were subject to verbal abuse, being called things like "animals, moron and monkey". Otang said this, too, was fairly common.
Beyond this, Buma also has a pattern of firing workers right before Ramadan and rehiring them a month later, to avoid paying a "religious holiday bonus", according to several workers. Indonesian law dictates all workers are owed a holiday bonus according to their religion, which works out to at least a month's wages or more depending on seniority. In May 2017, there were about 290 people fired before Ramadan, according to Toto Sunarto, a leader of the SPSI union in Subang.
Indonesia has the largest gap among Asian countries between high and low wages for unskilled garment workers, according the International Labor Organisation. None of the workers the Guardian spoke with have ever received performance-based raises, only federally mandated ones even though some of them have worked at the factory continuously for seven years.
"You have to assess minimum wages in the context of the country itself and, in that context, it's not a living wage," said David Welsh, Indonesia and Malaysia director at the Solidarity Center. "Given the disparity in wages across Indonesia, we see a trend whereby factories are migrating increasingly to the lowest wage jurisdictions... whose terms are essentially dictated deliberately by western brands."
None of the not-already unionised workers who spoke to the Guardian expressed a desire to join one, citing fears of being fired and a general sense that their work wasn't all that bad. Sita, for instance, said she "voluntarily" worked overtime almost every day because they never met their targets.
"It's not surprising to me that in a factory like this, you have rank and file workers who are unclear on what their rights are, and what the law says in terms of wages and rights," said Jim Keady, an American labor rights activist who has worked extensively in Indonesia. "But with these poverty wages and I would call it that just because something is legal, doesn't mean it is moral.
"The buck stops with her," said Keady, of Ivanka. "It's her name that's on the dress. Without her there is no brand."
Carry Somers, founder of the non-profit Fashion Revolution said: "Ivanka Trump claims to be the ultimate destination for Women Who Work, but this clearly doesn't extend to the women who work for her in factories around the world."
In March, Indonesia was called out by President Donald Trump for having an unfavourable trade balance with the US. The president took issue with Indonesia's $13bn surplus last year and vowed to penalise "cheating foreign importers".
The fortunes of Ivanka's brand have fluctuated wildly in the past year. During her father's campaign, net sales for her brand increased by almost $18m in the year ending 31 January 2017, according to G-III data. But in recent months, several department stores have pulled her brand and G-III discreetly relabelled some Ivanka Trump merchandise under a different house brand, Adrienne Vitadini.
Hepi Abdulmanaf, an official with the local manpower ministry, was flattered by the Trump connection. "It's proof that Indonesian goods are good enough for the world. Hopefully this quality garments becomes something Indonesia is known for."
Meanwhile, the word "minus" was a common refrain among Buma workers, denoting ongoing debt. "We can never think about leaving debt," said Alia. The cost of infant formula, school books, or a family visit can put these workers over the edge in any given month.
Fadli, a young man who works in the warehouse part of the factory, sees all the brands' price tags as they are prepared for shipment to the United States. "Sure I'm proud to make clothes for a well-known brand," he said. "But because I see the price tags, I have to wonder, can't they pay us a bit more?"
The Guardian contacted PT Buma for comment on the claims made in this article. A spokeswoman said neither she, nor anyone else at Buma Jakarta, nor anyone else at Buma Subang, wanted to comment.
G-III Apparel, which became the exclusive supplier of Ivanka Trump's brand in 2012 told the Guardian in a statement: "G-III Apparel Group, Ltd. is committed to legal compliance and ethical business practices in all of our operations worldwide; we expect and require the same of our business partners throughout the world. We audit and inspect our vendor's production facilities and when issues arise we work with our partners to correct them promptly."
The Guardian also approached the White House for comment. None was forthcoming at time of publication. The Ivanka Trump brand's public relations company declined to offer any comment.
Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta Passengers of Transjakarta buses found themselves stranded in several areas across the capital on Monday as employees of the bus operator launched a strike to demand a better employment scheme.
Passenger Junianti Hutabarat, 25, arrived at the Jakarta State University bus shelter in East Jakarta for a bus heading to Klender, also in East Jakarta, to submit a job application at a private company. However, she said she had to cancel her plans because Transjakarta was not serving passengers that day.
"I was about to board to the bus, but a ticketing attendant told me that the busses were not operating," she said.
Transjakarta is a common mode of transportation among Jakartans due to its relatively cheap fare and extensive coverage. In a day, the bus regularly serves around 450,000 passengers.
"[Transjakarta] workers launched the strike to demand permanent [employee] status," said Jakarta Police traffic unit head Adj. Sr. Comr. Budiyanto.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta A survey released on Thursday suggests that the Jakarta gubernatorial election has not significantly altered the national political map ahead of the 2019 presidential and legislative elections.
The survey, commissioned by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting, reveals that a majority of Indonesians still favor President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), even though former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama the PDI-P's gubernatorial candidate and Jokowi's close ally lost in the April 19 runoff election.
The research found 53.7 percent of 1,350 respondents supported Jokowi for the 2019 election in a head-to-head match-up against Gerindra Party patron Prabowo Subianto, who only received 17.2 percent of support.
The PDI-P still leads with 21.7 percent support, while the Gerindra Party, whose gubernatorial candidate Anies Baswedan won the Jakarta gubernatorial seat, trails in second place with 9.3 percent. Both parties' electability increased by 4 percent in the last five to six months.
"Despite losing the election, the PDI-P's electability has not dropped and has even increased. Gerindra's electability increased at the same rate as the PDI-P's. If indeed the Jakarta election radically affected the nation's political landscape, Gerindra's electability should have exceeded the PDI-P's electability by now," SMRC executive director Djayadi Hanan said.
He said the stable position of Jokowi and the PDI-P was due to a relatively stable and positive assessment given by the respondents in relation to the country's economic, political, legal and security condition. Some 57 percent of respondents say the economic condition at the national level is positive. (ebf)
Jakarta The Bandung District Court began on Tuesday the first trial hearing of Buni Yani, the uploader of an edited version of former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's speech in Thousand Islands regency, for which the latter was sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy.
Buni, who was flanked by 29 lawyers, arrived at the court at 9 a.m. In the hearing presided over by judge M. Sapto, state prosecutors were scheduled to read out the indictment against Buni.
Buni has been charged for allegedly violating Article 28 of the Information and Electronic Transaction Law that carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison.
Buni has uploaded an edited version of video footage showing Ahok making a speech that some deemed blasphemous during the non-active governor's working visit in the regency in September 2016.
Outside the courtroom, hundreds of Buni supporters staged a rally under the guard of 260 West Java Police personnel. The trial has been relocated to Bandung from Depok amid security concerns. (kuk/dmr)
Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta Prosecutors have officially withdrawn the appeal against North Jakarta District Court's two years prison sentence handed to non-active Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for blasphemy.
North Jakarta District Court spokesman Hasoloan Sianturi said that the court had received the prosecutors' withdrawal request on June 6.
"We're now processing the document regarding the withdrawal. We will also pass the information about the withdrawal to the suspect's lawyers," Hasoloan said on Thursday.
The court will pass the information about the withdrawal to Ahok's lawyers through Central Jakarta District Court, in accordance with the domicile of one of the lawyers
The document was submitted to the Central Jakarta District Court on Thursday morning, he said. After giving the notice to Ahok's team, the court will submit the withdrawal request to the High Court, he said.
Meanwhile, a source from Ahok's legal team said that the lawyers had received a written notice about the withdrawal from prosecutors on Thursday morning.
Previously, Attorney General HM Prasetyo said that the prosecutors would withdraw the appeal because Ahok had decided not to take further legal processes to challenge the court's ruling.
"Ahok has accepted the verdict. Let's not only focus on one case. There are a lot of cases that we need to pay attention to," Prasetyo said as quoted by tribunnews.com on Wednesday.
Pacific Media Centre Greenpeace Indonesia has staged a protest in front of the US embassy in Jakarta over the decision of President Donald Trump withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
"President Trump looks likely to turn away from the impact of climate change with millions of people falling victim of natural disasters such as flooding, drought and extreme weather which have hit many countries including Indonesia," climate and energy spokesman of Greenpeace Indonesia Didit Haryo said. The protest was carried out on Wednesday.
Didit said the United States was the second largest contributor to gas emissions after China, adding industries in United States were even the largest emitters from the 1850s or the era of Industrial Revolution until 2010.
The United States would play a serious role hampering the global efforts to check rising global heat, he said, adding the policy of Trump reflected not what happened in US cities.
"The steps taken by Trump would not halt serious commitments by world leaders. Now it is important to implement the commitments especially in energy sector," he said.
Indonesia also has pledged to maintain its commitment. However, expansion had continued in coal mining and use that would make it difficult for the Indonesia government to fully implement its commitment to Paris agreement, he said.
China has proved its transitional commitment by building solar power plants with a capacity of 43,000 megawatt (MW) until 2016 and cancelled plan to build 104 coal fired power plants with a total capacity of 120,000 MW.
"There should be no debate over the capability of renewable energy to meet our requirement. What is important is political will of the government," he added.
Jakarta Several experts have urged the government to revise the draft of the palm oil bill as they consider it too lenient to companies producing the commodity and fear it could in turn threaten forest sustainability.
Gadjah Mada University researcher and lecturer Rimawan Pradiptyo said during a media briefing on Wednesday that the bill's drawbacks included the provision of fiscal leeway and too many incentives for palm oil investors.
According to a study carried out by Rimawan in cooperation with Kemitraan, an organization that lobbies for clean government and business, the leeway covers the reduction of income tax, land and building tax and import duties for capital goods. In addition, the bill will allow oil palm plantation owners to demand compensation if their crops are attacked by pests.
"Such excessive incentives will trigger the expansion of oil palm plantations, which will affect the sustainability and diversity of our forests," said Rimawan, adding that with such incentives, taxpayers would be burdened by having to shoulder part of the cost of oil palm plantations' activities.
Indonesia is the world's largest palm oil producer with 31.5 million tons of crude palm oil produced in 2016. However, the country has been widely criticized because its massive expansion of oil palm plantations has caused deforestation.
The bill is also seen as a setback to the government's current moratorium on oil palm plantations as the proposed law permits oil palm cultivation on peatland. The moratorium strictly limits the use of peatland and natural forests for oil palm plantations.
"The bill should be revised or withdrawn completely as it is no better than the existing regulations," Rimawan said.
The government has submitted the bill to the House of Representatives for approval. According to the current schedule, the bill will be deliberated by the House this year. (dea/lnd)
Jakarta (Bernama) The El Nino weather phenomenon that occurred between 2015 and 2016 caused widespread coral bleaching in Indonesian waters, Indonesia's Antara news agency reported.
El Nino triggered a rise in the water temperature, and this condition caused coral bleaching, Dirhamsyah, head of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences' (LIPI) Oceanography Research Centre, was quoted as saying on Wednesday (June 7).
He warned that coral bleaching may occur more frequently due to climate change and global warming.
Other factors affecting the country's coral reefs include destructive fishing activities using explosives, water pollution, and development activities in the coastal areas.
LIPI has released a report on the latest condition of Indonesian coral reefs in 2017. Based on data from verification and analyses conducted in 108 locations and 1,064 stations across the Indonesian waters, 6.39 per cent of the country's coral reefs are in excellent condition, 23.40 per cent in good condition, 35.06 per cent in moderate condition, and 35.15 per cent are in poor condition.
Suharsono, a senior researcher at the LIPI Oceanography Research Centre, said Indonesia's coral reefs are found in waters the westernmost province of Aceh to the Merauke waters in the easternmost province of Papua.
The highest distribution concentration is in the central and eastern Indonesian waters including the waters of Sulawesi, Papua, Nusa Tenggara, and Maluku, which is also called the coral triangle core.
Based on the latest satellite imagery mapping, Indonesia's coral reefs are spread across an area of 25 thousand square kilometers, or around 10 per cent of the world's coral reef measuring 284,300 square kilometers.
"Indonesia has the highest number of coral reef species on the planet 569 species from 82 families and 15 tribes out of the total 845 coral reef species in the world," he said.
He cited as an example that Indonesia has 94 species of Acropora corals (Acropora sp), or 70 per cent of the 124 found across the world. Caribbean has only three species.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta Culture and Education Minister Muhadjir Effendy intends to strengthen religious education for students by excluding it from the regular in-classroom curriculum and offering various religion-based extracurricular activities.
He made the statement to clarify recent media reports that claimed Muhadjir had planned to remove religious lessons altogether.
"In fact, religious education, which is currently considered insufficient during religious lessons in schools, will be strengthened through extracurricular activities," the ministry's spokesperson, Ari Santoso, said in a statement on Tuesday.
According to Culture and Education Ministry Regulation No. 23/2017 on school days, schools can cooperate with educational institutions that implement character education in accordance with religious values.
Ari went on to explain that Muhadjir had focused on implementing stronger character education.
He cited an example in Siak regency, Riau, where students attend school until 12 p.m. and continue with religious lessons led by clerics. Lunch for students is provided and funded by the regional budget.
In Pasuruan regency, East Java, students receive religious lessons in madrasah (Islamic schools) after normal school hours.
The ministerial regulation also pushes for strengthening religious character-building through extracurricular activities.
"It includes activities in Islamic schools, short-term studies at Islamic boarding school, religious sermons, retreats, catechesis, as well as reading and writing the Quran and other holy scriptures," Ari said. (bbs)
Jakarta Indonesians spend the most money on treating diseases caused by obesity in Southeast Asia last year, a report by a public-private organization showed.
Asia Roundtable on Food Innovation for Improved Nutrition (ARoFIIN) unites experts from governments, academia, industries and communities across Asia to begin a dialogue on food innovation and solve problems and diseases related to obesity in the region.
The report, "Tackling obesity in Asean prevalence, impact and guidance on interventions," was published by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
"This report can be used as a guide for policymakers, health organizations and the industry as they tackle the rising threat of obesity in the region together," EIU global chief economist Simon Baptiste said in a statement received by the Jakarta Globe on Friday (09/06).
Indonesians spend between $2 billion to $4 billion annually to treat illnesses related to obesity, which is equivalent to between 8 percent to 16 percent of the nation's total healthcare spending, topping a list that includes Malaysians, who spend $1 billion to $2 billion, and Singaporeans, who spend $400 million to $1 billion.
Obesity contributes to the prevalence of other diseases including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and stroke, as well as cuts short the productive age of young individuals in Southeast Asia by four to eight years.
The Philippines suffers most in this respect, with Filipinos having their productive age cut short by eight to 12 years, followed by Malaysians with six to 11 years and then Indonesians, with six to 10 years. Specifically for Indonesian women, obesity-related diseases are reducing their productive age by 3 to 8 years.
The report said key obesity drivers in Indonesia include the prevalence of energy-dense and nutrient-poor food food full of carbohydrates, protein and fat, poor dietary choices and lack of exercise.
Food availability per capita in the country has grown by 40 percent, but 20 percent of those are sourced from fat. At least 93.5 percent of Indonesians consume fewer than the required five portions of fruits and vegetables a day.
The almost complete absence of dedicated bike lanes, sidewalks and public parks also contribute to Indonesians' lack of exercise.
The report highlighted that the most effective way to prevent obesity is by following a glycemic index diet low in calories, fats and carbohydrates, and doing regular exercises.
"There is no magic formula in solving the growing obesity epidemic in Asia. Governments in the region need to realize that obesity will be the number one health challenge we will be facing in the next two to three decades," ARoFIIN secretary Bruno Kistner said.
"Every sector has a role to play. There must be proper undertakings among industry, government and civil society real progress can only be made by constructive, transparent and accountable engagement with all stakeholders," he said.
Global food manufacturers have innovated to offer healthier but more affordable food products with fortified minerals and lower salt, sugar and fat content. ARoFIIN is hoping to extend this effort by encouraging small and medium enterprises in Southeast Asia to do the same.
Kate Lamb It was a dull day in music class that ignited a rebellion in three Indonesian teenage girls.
Poring over their school teacher's music collection, the hijab-wearing schoolgirls from conservative West Java discovered a trove of heavy metal.
"I just fell in love with metal since that first time I heard it. It felt so rebellious," said 16-year-old Firdda Kurnia. "I think we found ourselves in the music."
Kurnia is vocalist and guitarist of Voice of Baceprot, the metal group she formed in 2014 with drummer Eusi Siti Aisyah and bassist Widi Rahmawati. The band is now blasting its way into the Asian music scene, causing consternation among more conservative peers and bringing the three young women death threats and hate mail.
VoB, as they are known, have achieved acclaim throughout Java and appeared on national television, reward for the dedication of the band members who every day after school diligently practised their thrash metal riffs and brainstormed original lyrics.
This week the young women skipped school to travel four hours by road to the capital Jakarta to perform live on national TV.
"Mostly I like bands from outside," said Kurnia earnestly, as the band waited in the green room before going on set. "You know like Slipknot, Rage Against the Machine and Lamb of God."
The girls were dressed in black skinny jeans, matching black headscarves and thigh-length T-shirts emblazoned with the letters VoB, not only an abbreviation of the band's name but a word that means "noisy" in their ethnic Sundanese language. Their merchandise also boasts VoB's tagline: "The other side of metallism".
"Many people think metal music is satanic but we are showing that there is a different shade, a different side to the music," said Erza Satia, 35, the music teacher who introduced the girls to heavy metal, and is now their manager.
In the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, Satia said music is a constructive, creative way for his students to avoid vices such as drugs and "free sex", the term used to cover any pre-marital sex. Some 90% of Indonesia's population of 250 million is Muslim and most are decidedly moderate, but in relatively conservative West Java, the all-girl band has raised many eyebrows and a few haters.
Indeed, Satia has received threatening phone calls pressuring him to break up the band, while religious leaders have tried to obstruct VoB's concerts in one case pulling out the power cord to cut the sound.
At home too, the girls' parents were initially uneasy. Today though, points out drummer Siti, her mum is proudly watching her on TV. As the band's reputation has grown, so too has the support and pride of their family and community.
"We can play metal and protect our morals. Of course Islam and metal can match. Why not?" said Kurnia. "Metal is a just a genre of music. The problem is it is often associated with bad things, but it doesn't have to be."
They are words the band members live by. After the gruelling day of travel to Jakarta, and screaming down the microphone without a sip of water, they were sticking to their fast in the holy month of Ramadan.
Despite the lack of food and sleep, they were visibly energised. "That was so cool!" said a beaming Siti, after performing their first song. The talkshow hosts, too, were squealing in awe.
The girls of VoB know they are different and they don't care. Up against a double whammy of gender and religion, challenging stereotypes is something they are taking in their stride.
"I think what we want to say to the young women of Indonesia is, don't be afraid of being different," said Kurnia. "Don't be afraid to shout your independence."
So far VoB has thousands of fans on social media even from Israel, they proudly point out as well as four original songs, which cover social issues such as religious tolerance and climate change.
There are still a few years to go before the trio finish high school, but they have big dreams. "Maybe VoB could be famous," said bassist Widi, with a shy, toothy grin.
"We are hoping that we can release an album," added Kurnia. "And we are dreaming of performing overseas, like in England or America." "Or maybe," said Widi, "in an Arab country?"
Jakarta Members of the Constitutional Law and State Administrative Law Lecturers Association (APHTN-HAN) and experts from Andalas University's Constitution Study Center (PUSaKO) have called on the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to ignore the controversial inquiry by the House of Representatives into the antigraft body.
The experts and lecturers had reviewed the establishment of the inquiry committee and found that it was done in contradiction of the law, hence all of the committee's actions were likewise in contradiction of the law, said APHTN-HAN chairman Mahfud MD who read out the statement of the two organizations at the KPK's headquarters on Wednesday.
"The KPK shall obey the Constitution and law, not the inquiry committee, the establishment of which contradicted the laws," the former Constitutional Court chief justice said as reported by kompas.com.
Also at the press conference were KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo and deputy chairman Laode Muhammad Syarif. Mahfud said that if the KPK succumbed to the inquiry committee's will, the commission would also be violating the law.
The groups handed the statement, which was signed by 132 constitutional law experts, to the KPK. The statement also declares that the House does not have the authority to investigate legal proceedings at the KPK.
"The House's action would harm the state administration system, which would also lead to injustice in society, especially because of the hampered effort to eradicate corruption," Mahfud said. (ecn/bbs)
Jakarta Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputy chairman Laode Muhammad Syarif has said that the House of Representatives' right of inquiry should not be applied to the antigraft body because the right was intended for investigating the implementation of government policy.
"This is our preliminary conclusion about the House's inquiry plan. We have not yet decided our final decision regarding the plan," Laode told journalists.
He made the statements following a meeting between top KPK officials and legal expert Indriyanto Seno Adji at the commission's headquarters in South Jakarta at noon on Tuesday. Indriyanto was one of the temporary KPK officials appointed by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo from February to December 2015.
Laode asserted the House's right of inquiry could only applied to institutions over which the government's executive branch has jurisdiction. The 2002 KPK Law stipulates the antigraft body is independent and is not part of the government, he added.
During the meeting, Laode said, KPK officials and Indriyanto also discussed several problems related to the right of inquiry, including what the right's implementation process should look like and a lack of representation by all party factions on the House's special committee for the inquiry.
"However, we are still discussing this. We won't tell our final decision until we get more comprehensive opinions from other experts," Laode said.
He added that the KPK did not have any deadlines regarding its discussions with experts. "These are just common consultations," the commissioner said. (kuk/ebf)
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutors have indicted former Constitutional Court justice Patrialis Akbar for receiving bribes amounting to US$70,000 in connection with a request for a judicial review of Law No. 41/2014 on husbandry and animal health.
Patrialis was also accused of having agreed to receive Rp 2 billion [$150,455] in fees offered by meat-importing businessman Basuki Hariman in return for making a favorable ruling on the petition against the 2014 law, the prosecutors said.
Reading out the ex-justice's indictment during his first case hearing on Tuesday, KPK prosecutor Lie Putra Setiawan alleged Patrialis had abused his position as a state official by agreeing to receive the bribes, which were offered because of his authority and capacity to rule on the judicial review request.
"The money and the promise of a fee were given to the defendant [...] in view that as a Constitutional Court justice, he had the authority to review, judge and rule on [the petition]," Lie said at the Jakarta Corruption Court.
Lie also alleged Patrialis received Rp 4 million from Basuki in the form of payments for Patrialis' activities at the Royal Jakarta Golf Club.
Also on Tuesday, KPK prosecutors read out the indictment for another suspect, Kamaludin, who was suspected of having played a role as a broker between Patrialis and Basuki concerning the bribery.
Previously, KPK prosecutors read out two separate indictments for Basuki and Ng Fenny, Basuki's secretary, in a hearing of the case on June 5. Both of them were indicted for committing bribery to rig the judicial review petition. (ebf)
Jonathan Emont/Singapore On April 11 Novel Baswedan, Indonesia's leading corruption investigator, was in the middle of a sweeping embezzlement case that implicated leading members of Indonesia's parliament. He was feeling optimistic as he walked home from morning prayers at his local North Jakarta mosque; the probe was finally picking up. Just the day before, the speaker of Indonesia's lower house Setya Novanto once described by Donald Trump as "a great man" was formally barred from leaving the country for six months after being linked to the case Novel was investigating (although whether it was because he is a witness or a suspect has not been disclosed).
"There is so much corruption to struggle against," Novel, 39, told TIME.
But as he was walking home from the mosque, someone appeared behind him and flung a vial of hydrochloric acid into his face. "It happened so fast," he said. For the first two seconds, Novel hoped it might just be water. Then he felt the burning in his nostrils and his eyes. "It was like my skin was on fire," he said. And suddenly he felt a familiar, wearying sensation: Someone assaulted me. Novel ran back to mosque, calling out for help. Fellow worshippers washed out his face for five minutes from a basin where worshippers purify themselves before prayer.
Novel was quickly taken to a general Jakarta hospital, before being transferred to one that specializes in eye problems. The damage to his corneas was severe. He was soon flown to a hospital in Singapore, to see if anything could be done. A complicated operation that involved using human placenta to replace his damaged eye tissue ensued. It remains unclear if his eyes will make a full recovery.
When TIME interviewed Novel from his hospital bed in Singapore on June 10 in the first interview he has given since the attack his eyes were still healing, and protective goggles were taped to his face. He sat propped up on his bed, eyes open but vision blurry, contemplating who may have done this to him. This is, by his count, the sixth time he has been assaulted for his work; in 2011 a car veered into him while he was riding a motorcycle home (he thought it was an accident until the same thing happened a week later).
He expressed wonder that the police have yet to find the culprits in the latest attack.
"I've actually received information that a police general a high level police official was involved. At first I said the information was false. But now that it's been two months and the case hasn't been resolved, I said [to the person who made the allegation] the feeling is that the information is correct," Novel said.
In a statement to TIME Tito Karnavian, Indonesia's national police chief, who has been in frequent communication with Novel, said police were working diligently to solve the case.
"Five people have been detained but after the police checked their alibis it was confirmed they weren't there at the time of the attack so couldn't have been the actors," he wrote in a Whatsapp message to TIME. Tito said Indonesia's elite counter-terrorism force, Detachment 88 had been dispatched to assist the city's police in solving the case, and they were looking into people who had cause to resent Novel. That's a lot of people.
"Really it could be anyone who feels threatened by one of the investigations [Novel] leads," wrote Simon Butt, a professor who specializes in Indonesian law at the University of Sydney Law School wrote in an email to TIME.
Novel has a reputation for being impossible to intimidate and appeared buoyant despite the condition of his eyes. "I don't want to be sad," he said, chuckling. "Whenever we decide to fight for the people, for the many, the result is we'll be opposed, we'll be attacked," he said.
Indonesia has failed to develop at the pace of neighbors like Thailand and Malaysia in large part due to its extraordinarily high levels of official corruption. Suharto, Indonesia's right-wing dictator for 32 years, and his family members and cronies were accused of having siphoned off billions of dollars before he was overthrown in 1998. When Novel decided to join the police as an 18-year-old in 1995, towards the end of Suharto's rule, many of his friends questioned the decision, asking him why he was willing to sign on to an organization seen as corrupt. "I'm going to improve its image," Novel recalls telling them. "If I can't, I'll resign."
His timing appeared propitious. He graduated from police academy in 1998, the same year Indonesia's graft-fueled economy crashed, and popular demonstrations forced Suharto to step down. Suddenly Reformasi a popular movement to wipe clean Indonesia's dictatorial legacy was set in motion. The goal was to establish an open democracy, with a civil-society designed to serve the people.
Novel's first assignment after graduation was to the heavily-forested province of Bengkulu, South Sumatra. There, logging companies allegedly cut deals with officials for access to areas supposedly reserved for use by locals, who relied on the forests to hunt game and plant fruit and nut trees. Deforestation not only deprived locals of these resources but also contributed to drought, drying up the rivers on which rural communities depended for trade and communication.
In his six years at Bengkulu, the young Novel had some successful graft busts, but it wasn't until he left the province that he really began to make a name for himself.
Reformasi had failed to clean up Indonesia's bureaucracy, which was rife with corruption during Suharto's three-decades rule. To try to right things, in 2002 four years after Suharto's fall Indonesia's parliament created the Corruption Eradication Commission, known by its Indonesian abbreviation KPK (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi). This elite team of investigators was empowered to wiretap legislators and investigate and prosecute cases of public sector corruption. Novel was invited to join them in 2007.
He quickly gained renown as an investigator, racking up an impressive string of victories. In one well-known case in 2012, he investigated Amran Batalipu, a local regent in central Sulawesi who was convicted of taking massive bribes from a palm oil company in exchange for granting the company permission to destroy 11,000 acres of local rainforest. Two years later, Novel investigated Akil Mochtar, the chief justice of Indonesia's Constitutional Court, who was caught red handed in a sting operation accepting bribes to rule on contested elections. These cases along with numerous others turned Novel into a hero of Indonesia's fight against corruption. They also made him, and the KPK itself, an even greater object of resentment for factions of Indonesia's political elite, who appeared to have little interest in reform. The KPK went "gone from strength to strength, breaking very big cases. But in doing so it has stepped on the toes of very powerful politicians," Prof. Butt said.
When president Joko "Jokowi" Widodo a progressive outsider who campaigned on an anti-graft ticket was elected president in 2014, he pledged to stand up for the KPK. But less than two months after he was sworn into office, he faced a major crisis when the KPK accused Budi Gunawan, his nominee for police chief and a close ally of many of Jokowi's key political backers, of corruption. In revenge, the police charged numerous leading KPK officials, including Novel, with a variety of implausible crimes.
"The efforts to weaken the KPK, or take revenge against the KPK, were incessant," Abraham Samad, the chair of the KPK at the time told TIME. "What we all faced me, the vice-commissioner, Novel, other KPK officials, was criminalization."
Instead of aggressively defending the KPK against the police as many of his supporters wanted, Jokowi formed a council made up of different members of civil society to help work out the differences between the two sides. Jokowi ultimately withdrew Budi's nomination, but he also accepted the resignation of Abraham Samad along with KPK vice-chair Bambang Widjojanto, in keeping with a law that stated that any commissioners charged with crimes had to resign. Jokowi's approval ratings plummeted: the KPK is the rare public institution Indonesians trust and Jokowi had allowed it to be ravaged by the police.
"The KPK is under continuous threat and it comes with the territory," wrote Natalia Soebagjo, the chair of Transparency International Indonesia's board, in an email to TIME.
The recent acid attack against Novel was merely the latest in a long line of attempts to weaken the KPK on the institution. New threats against the KPK abound. Parliament is currently deliberating on legislation that would dramatically weaken the KPK by, among other things, removing its ability to wiretap politicians at will. President Jokowi has not taken a clear public stand, with his spokesperson telling media in March that the president had not had a chance to speak formally with parliament about the matter. Activists have criticized the President for failing to firmly oppose the legislation.
"We have set a very high standard for the KPK as an institution and that standard has to be maintained. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for parliament and the latest attempt to curb the powers of the KPK is consistent with the belief of many politicians that the KPK is too powerful," Soebagjo said.
In his hospital room in Singapore, Novel talks about how much he wants to get back to work. His mother, 62, enters the room, and sits on the bed beside her son, rubbing his arm. She confesses to being concerned for Novel even if he isn't particularly concerned about himself.
"Yes, his path is right, confronting corruption is right," she says. But, "When things like this happen, what is there to do? He has kids, what will their future be?" Her voice broke a little. "When it gets like this I'm scared. He comes home so late at night, sometimes three days for a time he won't come home."
Novel says the embezzlement case he has been working on may end up implicating dozens of members of parliament. But his thoughts also turn to justice for those responsible for the attack against him. He says he knows President Jokowi ordered the police to prioritize the case, but he says he doesn't know if the President has evaluated what it might mean that two months later there are still no suspects.
"If there's someone who works in government fighting corruption who is attacked numerous times and none of the cases are resolved, it's a problem for the country," he says. Then he adds: "After me, who will be next?"
Jakarta A lawmaker has called on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo not to interfere with the House of Representatives' plan to launch an inquiry against the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), arguing that such a move may break the existing separation of power between the executive and legislative branch.
The statement was made by lawmaker Taufiqulhadi, a deputy head of the House's special committee (Pansus) overseeing the inquiry, who was responding to KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo's criticism of the pansus inquiry.
Agus has recently said he would ask Jokowi to take action in the brouhaha and back the KPK.
"Encouraging the President to intervene [in the case] is the same as sending the President to go head-to-head with the House. It's not good and will destroy Indonesia's multi-party presidential system in the long run," Taufiqulhadi said on Monday as quoted by tribunnews.com.
He added that encouraging the President to intervene was irresponsible, then assured the inquiry would be conducted in a transparent manner. However, Jokowi and the State Palace continue to remain tight-lipped over the issue. (yon/ipa)
Margareth S Aritonang and Safrin La Batu, Jakarta Defying mounting criticism, the House of Representatives has kicked off its inquiry into the nation's top antigraft body, which experts believe is legally flawed and a blatant act of retaliation by the dozens of lawmakers who have been implicated in numerous graft cases over the years.
Activists have called the inquiry "abusive" and see it as an effort to undermine the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), one of the state bodies most trusted by the public, according to surveys.
In contrast, the House has a notorious reputation as one of the most corrupt state institutions. As many as eight currently serving lawmakers have been named suspects by the KPK.
Serving as inquiry committee chairman is Agun Gunanjar, a Golkar politician currently being investigated by the KPK as part of a massive corruption case centering on the procurement of an electronic ID (e-ID) system.
State losses from the allegedly graft-plagued procurement are estimated at Rp 2.3 trillion, according to the case indictment. Agun has denied allegations he received US$1 million in illicit kickbacks. Dozens of other lawmakers are also implicated in the case.
Even though the 2014 Legislative Institutions (MD3) Law gives powerful investigative authority to the inquiry committee, the KPK has said it might not attend its hearings. Experts believe the KPK, as an independent state body, is not a government agency over which the House is allowed to exercise its right of inquiry.
The KPK has said it is considering ignoring the committee's summons because it is convinced the inquiry does not have legitimate legal grounds. KPK deputy chair Basaria Panjaitan, however, said the commission was still mulling its options.
"We will ask for an opinion from legal experts first. We have yet to reach a final decision," she said on Thursday, adding that the inquiry "was the House's right."
KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah concurred, saying the KPK is not a body that the House could launch an investigation into. "The idea that the KPK is among the institutions referred to in the article about the House's inquiry right in the MD3 is questionable," he said.
Article 79 of the MD3 Law only stipulates that the House has the right to launch an inquiry into government institutions. The 2002 KPK Law stipulates that the antigraft body is an independent institution and not part of the government.
Lawmakers have argued that the inquiry only intends to evaluate and improve the work of the KPK.
However, the House has failed to reach consensus on this notion, with three political parties the National Awakening Party (PKB), the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) opposing the move to launch the inquiry.
This could also be problematic as the MD3 Law suggests that an inquiry should involve all political factions at the House. The Gerindra Party and the National Mandate Party (PAN) initially rejected the inquiry but eventually changed direction and supported it.
"The Dems have opposed the plan to launch the inquiry from the very beginning. We will be consistent and not send our lawmakers to join the team," Dems deputy chairman Edhie Baskoro "Ibas" Yudhoyono said Thursday.
Constitutional law expert Refly Harun said the inquiry was legally flawed as the MD3 Law stipulated that the aim of an inquiry was to question a member of the executive branch of the government over an alleged irregularity in the implementation of a law or policy.
"The House's inquiry is not valid. An inquiry should only be made [to question] a member of the executive [branch]," Refly told The
Jakarta Post over the phone. Refly said, however, that as the inquiry proposal had been agreed on by a House plenary meeting and the committee had been formed, it had a legal foundation and all people, including the KPK investigators, summoned by the task force were legally obliged to fulfill the summons.
"[The person summoned] should fulfill the summons. If not, there is a right to forcefully bring [him or her before the committee]," Refly said. "If [the House asks questions about] the technical aspects of investigations, KPK [investigators] have the right to keep silent," Refly said.
The KPK has received support from various civil society groups since the announcement of the inquiry plan, with more than 24,000 people signing a petition early last month opposing the inquiry proposal.
Dahnil Azhar Simanjuntak, chairman of the youth wing of Muhammadiyah, the country's second-largest Muslim organization, said the inquiry was an act of political maneuvering to try to prevent the KPK from uncovering the e-ID corruption and to protect individuals implicated in the case.
"The e-ID corruption shows that the public are being deprived of their rights by some political elites," Dahnil said.
Indonesian Corruption Watch activist Donald Fariz criticized the lawmakers who proposed the inquiry, calling the move "political thuggery." (kuk)
Jakarta Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo has recommended the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) request the help of interpol to bring home anyone implicated in the alleged corruption case surrounding the disbursement of Bank Indonesia Liquidity Support (BLBI), including businessman Sjamsul Nursalim.
"Anything that can help find [the people] should be done. We have Interpol and other [international] law enforcement agencies," Prasetyo told reporters on Wednesday as quoted by Kompas.com.
The anti-graft body has planned to question Sjamsul as a witness in the case, however the plan has not materialized because Sjamsul is reportedly in Singapore.
Sjamsul, who is the owner of Bank Dagang Nasional Indonesia (BDNI), will be questioned over Rp 3.7 trillion (US$277 million) of debt owed to the state, which he allegedly failed to return despite receiving a settlement letter from Syafruddin Arsyad Temenggung, a former chairman of the now-defunct Indonesian Restructuring Agency (IBRA), freeing him from paying the debt. Syafruddin has also been named as a suspect in the case.
The Attorney General's Office (AGO) initially launched a probe into Sjamsul for allegedly misusing the fund, but decided to drop the case in 2008. In 2013, AGO successfully brought home former Bank Surya general director Adrian Kiki Ariawan from Australia, another suspect in the BLBI case. He was brought back via an extradition agreement with the Australian government.
"But we do not have an extradition agreement with Singapore. So the only possible way is by using Interpol's network," Prasetyo said. (Saf) Topics:
Jakarta The Islamic State militant group has a presence in nearly all provinces across Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, the military chief in Jakarta has said.
General Gatot Nurmantyo's comments late on Monday (12/06) that there are clandestine "sleeper" cells across the sprawling Indonesian archipelago underscored concerns about Islamic State's growing influence in Southeast Asia.
"After observation, we see that in almost every province... there are already IS cells, but they are sleeper cells," Gatot told reporters in the capital, Jakarta.
He singled out the predominantly Christian province of Papua as one of the few exceptions. "These sleeper cells can easily join up with other radical cells," he said.
Governments across the region have been on high alert since Islamic State-linked militants, mostly from Southeast Asian countries, overran a city in the southern Philippines about three weeks ago.
The Philippine military, which has carried out air strikes and raids in Marawi city, said on Tuesday the militants still control about 20 percent of the city.
Indonesian and Malaysian officials have stepped up security to prevent militants from escaping from Marawi over their shared borders with the Philippines.
"It's easy to jump from Marawi to Indonesia and we must all beware of sleeper cells being activated in Indonesia," Gatot said.
Southeast Asian nations believe the region is home to thousands of Islamic State sympathizers, and Indonesia and Malaysia have detained scores of suspected militants in recent years.
Singapore said on Monday it had detained an assistant child-care worker suspected of trying to join Islamic State, the first woman to be held on such charges in Singapore.
A gun-and-bomb attack that killed four people in Jakarta last year marked the first Islamic State strike in the region.
There has since been a string of small, Islamic State-inspired attacks in Indonesia, the latest of which were twin suicide bombings at a Jakarta bus station that killed three police officers last month.
Jakarta Activists and experts have urged the government to immediately draw up a separate bill on military assistance instead of pressing ahead with the current revision to the existing antiterror law, which would grant a greater role for the military in countering terrorism.
Revisions to the bill have sparked concerns since late last year over the fate of the country's criminal justice system, but protests have mounted after the government strengthened the revision earlier this month after a terror attack in East Jakarta, which killed three police officers.
A greater role for the Indonesian Military (TNI) means soldiers can be involved in countering terrorism not as a form of assistance to police officers, but rather as conducting separate operations without police guidance or oversight.
That also means soldiers can be involved in countering terrorism without a state decree, thus the counterterrorism role of the military will no longer be considered provisional.
This is opposed to a 2004 law stipulating the powers of TNI, which grants the military a role in counterterrorism operations based on a joint decree signed by lawmakers and the government.
Human rights activists and security experts said this should immediately be regulated further, citing the issuance of a law on military assistance as "more ideal and important" than seeking a greater role for the military by revising the 2003 antiterrorism law.
"It is to elaborate on how far and under what conditions the military can assist the police in dealing with security threats, including terrorism," said a joint statement issued on Friday (09/06) by a group of more than 100 activists and experts.
Soldiers have occasionally assisted police in countering terrorism, the most notable of which is an ongoing joint operation against a terror group based in the jungles of Central Sulawesi's Poso. TNI's role in that operation was based on a presidential instruction.
"The military assistance should not be partially and improperly regulated in the revisions to the antiterrorism law," Friday's statement said. Activists and experts, however, are not fully opposed to the bill.
Renewed calls for the immediate passing of the antiterrorism bill followed last month's Islamic State-linked suicide bomb attack at the Kampung Melayu bus station in East Jakarta.
That attack was the biggest since January last year, when four people were killed in an Islamic State-linked bomb and gun attack in Central Jakarta that prompted the government to move to revise the existing antiterrorism law.
Clad in camouflage and armed only with their convictions, the paramilitary wing of Indonesia's biggest Muslim organisation is on a campaign to crush intolerance and defend the nation's inclusive brand of Islam.
The "militant moderates" from the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), which boasts 45 million members, are on the march as worries grow over the rise of ultra-conservative forces in the world's most populous Muslim country.
Hundreds of them swooped recently on a hotel hosting a meeting of a radical outfit, Hizb ut-Tahrir, which wants to transform Indonesia into a "caliphate" run by sharia law. They surrounded the building and forced an end to the meeting, before members were escorted away by police.
Ninety per cent of Indonesia's 255 million people are Muslim but the nation is home to substantial religious minorities and several faiths are officially recognised.
It is these traditions that the NU, which has existed for almost a century, tries to defend. It has been taking a more muscular approach by increasingly sending out its paramilitary wing Banser to take on the hardliners.
"My forefathers the clerics, as well as Christians and others, established this republic together," said Banser's national commander Alfa Isnaeni. "We all need to defend this legacy."
The NU says it has felt compelled to step in and expand its activities in part due to the weakness of the government, which has long been accused of failing to crack down on ultraconservatives.
There has been a growing number of attacks on minorities in Indonesia, from Muslim Shiites and Ahmadis to Christians, and concerns about intolerance surged after Jakarta's Christian governor was jailed for two years for blasphemy, in a case seen as politically motivated.
Indonesia is not governed by Islamic law, with the exception of western Aceh province, and efforts by hardliners to transform the archipelago into a sharia-ruled state have gained no traction.
There is little chance of this changing a recent survey showed only one in 10 Indonesians support a caliphate but the surge in intolerance has caused jitters.
Members of Banser, which has a force about 2 million, do not carry arms but rely on sheer force of numbers to get their message across.
They confiscate banners and flags at rallies by hardline groups and hand them over to the police, justifying their actions by saying they are preventing conservative forces from trampling the country's inclusive ideology.
They also oppose Wahhabism, an ultraconservative form of Islam that originated in Saudi Arabia and is practised to some extent by Islamic State. NU members have forced preachers who follow the doctrine off stage at public gatherings.
Their battle cry is "N K R I" the Indonesian acronym for the term "the United State of the Indonesian Republic", highlighting their desire to keep the country together and strong. "Anyone disagreeing with NKRI, or calling for a caliphate, will have to face us," Isnaeni said.
In recent weeks, they have also helped protect several people targeted by hardline Muslim groups after posting anti-radical messages on social media. The group holds rallies across Indonesia and has signed up thousands of new recruits to strengthen their efforts.
The organisation is not just fighting radicalism in the street but also on a theological level.
NU youth wing Ansor wants to open dialogue with Islamic organisations and governments to build a global consensus among Muslims on adapting the interpretation of ancient Islamic laws known as "fiqh" so that they suit the modern world.
It wants recognition among Muslims that followers of Islam and others are equal, and a focus on the importance of the modern nation state and a constitution as guiding principles for a country, as opposed to sharia law.
The NU's efforts have sparked anger among conservatives, with some accusing them of being un-Islamic and defenders of non-Muslim "infidels" and Shiites, a Muslim minority regarded as a deviant sect by Indonesia's mostly Sunni Muslim population.
NU's secretary general Yahya Cholil Staquf believes promoting a more moderate form of Islam is urgent to tackle hardliners. "We must fight them before they cause more damage," he said. "We will fight this to the end."
Djemi Amnifu, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara Two cases of hate speech on social media that came to light in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) have been settled with customary laws.
The alleged victims of hate speech dropped their cases against Prima Gaida Bahren of Kupang city and Jayadi Rusani of Rote Ndao regency and agreed to resolve the cases through a reconciliation process.
"Initially, these two cases were handled by the police. Following mediation by customary leaders and religious figures, it was finally agreed that the cases would be settled through customary laws and in a familial atmosphere. The cases have finally been resolved," NTT Police spokesperson Jules Abast said.
Local priest group Brigade Meo head Ady Ndiy, who reported Prima over alleged hate speech, said he had forgiven the 33-year old woman because she had repented and called on other social media users to not follow her actions.
Prima was reported to the police by Brigade Meo on May 11 for allegedly insulting NTT people through her Facebook posts related to religious intolerance. Rote Ndao Regent Leonard Haning said he had settled his dispute with Jayadi related to his Facebook comments.
In his posts, Jayadi mocked Ba'a residents for gathering support for blasphemy convict and non-active Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama by carrying out candlelight vigils. Leonard said Jayadi had repented and signed an apology letter. (yon/ebf)
Jakarta The constantly persecuted Ahmadiyah religious sect's followers in Depok, West Java, are planning to file a lawsuit against the city administration for sealing their Al-Hidayah Mosque.
"We do not violate any bylaws. We believe that the shutdown is illegitimate because it was taken without seeking a court decision," congregation lawyer Fitri Sumarni said on Wednesday as quoted by kompas.com.
She added that they were also fighting to pursue justice for their members, who had been accused of damaging the seal and sign erected by the administration in front of the mosque that declared all the activities were illegal. The mosque was shuttered on Sunday, the seventh time since 2011.
Depok National and Political Unity Agency head Dadang Wihana argued that the closure was aimed at maintaining a peaceful situation and to protect the Ahmadis themselves, saying that the locals had felt disturbed by their presence and they might incite conflicts. (fac)
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta Islamic boarding schools (pesantren) across the country are being told to stay away from politics.
"It's better for the kyai [Muslim clerics] not to be involved in politics. If they are, the pesantren could be neglected and the government could interfere with them, which is not good for the essence of pesantren itself," Muslim scholar Azyumardi Azra of Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic State University (UIN) Jakarta said on Wednesday.
His statement comes in response to the growing conservative religious sentiment that marked the divisive Jakarta gubernatorial elections and which has seen many mosques become politicized. Many fear the same trend may shape the upcoming 2018 regional elections, which will be held simultaneously.
Three country's most-populous provinces West Java, Central Java and East Java are among 171 regions that will partake in the regional elections.
Data from 2012 from the Religious Affairs Ministry showed that of the approximately 27,000 pesantren across the country, 78 percent were located in these three provinces.
Muhammad Hosnan of Annuqayah Sumenep Islamic boarding school in Madura said that ahead of the 2018 East Java election, many political actors had been trying to approach numerous pesantren.
"This worries us. As pesantren, we are close with the local people. But politics is involved, the essence of our relationship with the public becomes ambiguous," Hosnan said.
Abdul Mu'ti, secretary-general of country's second-largest Muslim organization Muhammadiyah, said the phenomenon had become a new challenge for the pesantren.
"What is most important is that the kyais and students understand that having different political stances is normal," Abdul said. (dmr)
Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta The Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) destroyed more than 12,400 bottles of illegal alcoholic beverages they seized in five municipalities across the city since January at the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta on Tuesday morning.
Satpol PP head Jupan Royter hoped the destruction of such drink could help protect citizens from the deaths caused by consuming alcoholic beverages, especially miras oplosan local hard liquor mixed with harmful substances.
"These are illegal drinks, many of which are even oplosan that can cause death," Jupan told reporters at Monas. About 5,000 of the bottles were seized in West Jakarta, 4,000 in East Jakarta, 1,500 in North Jakarta, 1,200 in Central Jakarta and 700 in South Jakarta.
Deaths caused by bootleg liquor have been increasing. At least 10 citizens died of consuming bootleg liquor late last year in Cakung, East Jakarta. In January, three residents of Bekasi in West Java also died of the same cause.
Jakarta Police have yet to issue a so-called red notice for Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab, who is a suspect in a pornography case.
Rizieq is believed to have left Indonesia for Jeddah in Saudi Arabia for the minor haj with his family on April 27 and has not returned since.
A red notice is issued by Interpol, usually in response to a request by a national government to seek the location and arrest of a wanted person with a view to his or her extradition.
"We don't have any more information about [a red notice] from the National Police's international relations division," Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono told reporters on Monday. Urging reporters to "just wait for it," he said the division had held a meeting on the matter with the police's supervision and investigation body.
Argo also added that police were still investigating to decide whether to send a team to Jeddah to bring Rizieq back to Indonesia or just rely on coordination with police in Saudi Arabia. "We still hope that he will return home," Argo said.
Separately, the spokesman of the Justice and Human Rights Ministry's directorate general of immigration, Agung Sampurno, denied Rizieq's lawyer claim that his client had an unlimited visa from Saudi Arabia.
"There is no such thing as a life-long visa. There must be a limit to it," Agung said on Monday, as quoted by kompas.com. (hol)
Jakarta Islam Defenders Front (FPI) patron Rizieq Shihab's lawyer, Kapitra Ampera, has said his team is set to apply for a pre-trial hearing to challenge the Jakarta Police's decision to name the cleric a suspect in an alleged pornography case.
"Insya Allah [God willing], we will file the pretrial hearing request this June," he told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Kapitra said the lawyer team was still waiting for one document, which was essential in submitting the pre-trial request. He refused to explain what document he was talking about.
Rizieq left Indonesia to perform umrah (minor haj) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, from April 25 to May 10, skipping a police summons for questioning over the pornography case allegedly involving him and Firza Husein, the coordinator of the Solidaritas Sahabat Cendana Foundation (SSC) and a treason suspect.
Rizieq did not return to Indonesia after performing umrah and instead, planned to extend his visa.
During his long stay in Saudi Arabia, Kapitra said, Rizieq continued to write his dissertation for a doctoral degree at a university in Malaysia. He also used much of his time to meet with Muslim leaders in the country.
"He also delivers tausiyah [sermon] to university students and Indonesian citizens living in Saudi Arabia," Kapitra said. (ecn/ebf)
Jakarta Some 500,000 people are expected to join a rally to defend fugitive firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab on Friday although the police and mosque caretakers have not given a permit.
The protesters call themselves the Alumni 212 after a group who joined the Dec. 2 rally in Jakarta last year that demanded the prosecution of then Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama over his blasphemy case.
"We hope that this afternoon 500,000 people [will join the protests]," head of the Alumni 212 Presidium Ansufri Idrus Sambo said as quoted by kompas.com on Friday.
Ansufri said the group would carry out the protest at Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta to defend ulemas and activists, who they said often become victims of criminalization, following the legal process against Islam Defenders Front (FPI) head Rizieq Shihab over an alleged pornography case.
He said that protesters from Bandung, West Java, and Medan, North Sumatra, were on the way to Istiqlal.
Ansufri added that the protest would be carried out until the tarawih (evening Ramadhan prayers) when the protesters prayed together in the mosque.
The mosque caretaker has not given permission for this protest because it coincides with other activities in the mosque. They are also not permitted to deliver oration by command car in the mosque yard. (cal)
Suherdjoko, Semarang The Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) suspects that price fixing committed by several business players has caused the price of garlic to skyrocket to Rp 80,000 (US$6.02) per kilogram, double the normal price of Rp 38,000 per kg, ahead of Idul Fitri.
"Six business players are suspected of involvement in the price fixing practices. This price is too high. Consumers will suffer losses. We are investigating the matter," KPPU deputy chairman R.Kurnia Sya'ranie said on Friday.
"The business players intentionally reduced the realized imports of garlic with the hope this would lead to a price jump caused by the scarcity of the commodity in the market."
Kurnia said the business groups allegedly involved in the price fixing case controlled 50 percent of garlic distribution permits. This meant consumers' dependency on them was very high as they held most of the importation rights for the commodity. Once there is a decline in supplies, garlic prices increase.
"Garlic cannot be replaced by other commodities. That's why it is prone to price fixing committed by business players with importation rights," said Kurnia.
He highlighted that Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita had issued a circular, which set the garlic price at Rp 38,000. At that price, business players could have enjoyed profits and consumers' purchasing power could be protected.
Kurnia said the KPPU's main task was to monitor the implementation of Law No.5/1999 on monopolies and unfair business competition. KPPU strives to protect the public from unfair business practices and players, including those who have joined cartels, he added. (kuk/ebf)
Jakarta The Jakarta Council will return the draft 2018 budget to the city administration if it does not accommodate the programs of governor-elect Anies Baswedan and his deputy Sandiaga Uno, a councillor has said.
"If [the draft budget] has not included Anies and Sandiaga's programs, we will return it," City Council deputy chairman Muhammad Taufik said on Thursday as reported by kompas.com.
Previously, city secretary Saefullah said the administration had included 3,000 activities that had been adopted from Anies-Sandiaga's programs.
The 3,000 activities are worth Rp 1 trillion (US$75.2 million), 1.3 percent of the Rp 74 trillion needed by the administration in 2018 to carry out about 7,000 additional programs, according to the draft budget. The additional 7,000 programs have included those of all Jakarta working units.
"Anies and Sandiaga start leading the administration in 2018, so all programs in 2018 shall be those of Anies and Sandiaga," Taufik said. (vny)
Syahdan Alamsyah, Sukabumi Indonesian military (TNI) chief General Gatot Nurmantyo says that the simultaneous 171717 events that are to be held nationwide on August 17 at 5pm, which are being initiated by the TNI, will be a love and affection (kasih saying) action that will involve all religious elements, particularly Muslims as the majority religious in Indonesia.
The 171717 action, which will be held at all TNI commands across Indonesia, will involve joint prayers and Quran recitations for the sake of Indonesian national unity.
"A khataman Alquran ceremony [khatam al Quran joint recitation after reading the Quran] will be held starting at 17.00 Western Indonesia time and ending at 18.00 followed by evening community prayers. Following this joint prayers will be held between all religious congregations including Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Konghucu, who will pray together so that there is no discord and love and affection will arise", Nurmantyo told Detik News after attending an event earlier this afternoon in the West Java city of Sukabumi on Tuesday June 13.
Nurmantyo explained that world population levels are rising rapidly, energy consumption will continue to grow and eventually this will result in a food, energy and water crisis. Indonesia meanwhile is the largest archipelago located on the equator so there are many parties given these conditions that are eying Indonesia's [resources].
"The mandate under the law is that it is the TNI's duty to safeguard national unity, this is what we are reminding people of and it cannot be done alone, it must be done together with the people. The easiest avenue to tear apart unity as a nation is creating divisions through sensitive issues such as SARA [ethnic, religion, race, inter-group inspired conflict]", said Nurmantyo.
Nurmantyo continued by saying that if the people love and respect each other, then national unity can be safeguarded. Then other countries will stand in awe of Indonesia and its position will indeed have to be reckoned with.
"Don't let our country be divided because the ordinary people cannot safeguard [national] unity. One again [I] warn, our nation is great because diversity in its entirety is embodied in [the state ideology] of Pancasila as the foundation of the country. And the other day Pak Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] called on us to implement Pancasila on June 1, now, later at Independence Day on August 17 we will again invite the people to put independence and Pancasila into practice through diversity and love", he concluded. (rvk/rvk)
Jakarta Indonesian biodiesel producers are eyeing China as a new promising market amid negative sentiment in the European Union and the United states.
Indonesian Biofuel Producers Association (Aprobi) chairman MP Tumanggor stressed Thursday that their members could no longer rely on their exports to the US and European Union.
"Our production capacity reaches 11 million kiloliters per year, 4 million of which is absorbed by the domestic market. The remaining 7 million kiloliters are idle," he said, adding that exports to European countries and the US account for just a portion.
The negative sentiment was sparked by an anti-dumping campaign from both the European Union and the US commercial trade association National Biodiesel Boards (NBB).
Aprobi secretary general Stanley Ma said that China was a potential market for Indonesian biodiesel because the country used B5 for its fuel, which consists of 5 percent biodiesel and 95 percent petroleum biodiesel. "China might need 9 million kiloliters of biodiesel a year. This could boost our exports," he said.
The Indonesian government is reportedly set to send a team to China on June 16 in an attempt to boost biodiesel exports to the country.
Data from the association shows that in first quarter of this year, Indonesia produced 1.01 million kiloliters of biodiesel of which 761,519 kiloliters was absorbed by the domestic market. (rdi/bbn)
Jakarta The government and Freeport Indonesia are still not in agreement over several aspects of the latter's contract of work (CoW) conversion to a special mining permit (IUPK), an official has said.
The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry's secretary-general, Teguh Parmudji, said for example, that Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of the United States-based mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, had demanded a separate financial agreement.
"We have explained that under the IUPK scheme, it is unlikely," Teguh said as reported by kontan.co.id on Monday in response to documents submitted by Freeport.
Teguh said last week that Freeport had submitted a document to be negotiated with the government, covering fiscal policy, the conversion from the CoW to IUPK and the divestment of the company's stocks.
Under the document, the mining company also only agrees to 30 percent share divestment, instead of 51 percent, as demanded by the government. "The divestment of 51 shares is a presidential order," he stressed.
Teguh added that the government had offered Freeport an extension of its operational permit up to 2031 as long as the company agreed to the IUPK scheme, including the 51 percent stock divestment.
Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama refused to comment on the government's offer. "In the CoW, [the permit] could be extended for another 20 years," he said. (mrc/bbn)
Jakarta Retailers have high hopes that sales prior to Idul Fitri festivities can recover from low first quarter growth, which was only recorded at 3.9 percent, compared to 10.5 percent growth in the same period, last year.
"The growth in the first quarter was drastically lowered at 3.9 percent this year," said Yongky Susilo, an expert with the Indonesian Retailers Association (Aprindo), on Thursday. Meanwhile, the annual year growth was recorded at 7.7 percent, last year, he added.
The weakening growth was mainly caused by the reluctance of middle class consumers to spend their money due to the aggressive tax policies and the socio-political turmoil, which began in the fourth quarter, last year. "The economy is healthy, but consumers just don't have appetite to spend money," Yongky said.
Yongky, however, said the second quarter had shown a hope of recovery as the growth in April had reached 5.5 percent and the first three weeks of May had reached 9.3 percent.
"As Lebaran is coming, we hope we can achieve 12 percent growth this month," he said. "We also expect to get double digit growth back in the third and fourth quarter so we can achieve nine to 10 percent annual growth," he added.
Aprindo deputy chairman Tutum Rahanta said sales in Lebaran would definitely increase, but he did not know if it would reach the expectation. "We must work hard in the next 20 days. Usually if we do not do well in Lebaran, we face problems the rest of the year," he said. (dis/bbn)
Karis Salna, Singapore What's good for Indonesia's fiscal chiefs is proving a headache for the central bank.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's push to phase out electricity subsidies that have drained the budget of billions of dollars is boosting prices in the economy and threatening the bank's 3 percent to 5 percent inflation target.
For reform-minded Jokowi, getting rid of the subsidies and building fiscal space has been a focus of his two-year-old presidency. It's won him support from international investors and credit-rating companies, but now presents a test for Bank Indonesia: how to manage the short-term pain for consumers without halting the nascent recovery in the economy.
"Inflationary pressures have largely arisen from administered price hikes such as electricity tariff hikes," said Weiwen Ng, an economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Singapore. Higher power costs "are a necessary evil" and structural reform that the economy needs, he said.
The government raised electricity tariffs twice this year, and delayed a third hike initially planned for June because it would have coincided with Ramadhan, the Muslim fasting month when food prices generally spike. Inflation, which reached a 14-month high of 4.3 percent last month, could have broken through 5 percent if power costs were raised a third time, said ANZ's Ng.
After reducing interest rates six times last year, Bank Indonesia has since kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 4.75 percent and will probably maintain that stance on Thursday, according to all 28 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. A separate survey shows most economists expect the rate will be higher in a year's time.
The rate outlook is also being shaped by the Federal Reserve's moves to tighten U.S. monetary policy, which may affect foreign inflows to emerging markets and currencies. Bank Indonesia's rate decision on Thursday will follow several hours after the Fed is expected to raise borrowing costs.
The rupiah has gained 1.4 percent against the dollar this year and was trading at 13,287 as of 10 a.m. in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Subsidizing electricity costs have long been criticized for drawing resources away from other much-needed priorities, such as infrastructure projects. The Canada-based International Institute for Sustainable Development, which has produced regular reports on energy policy in Indonesia, estimated subsidies reached a peak of Rp 101.8 trillion ($7.7 billion) in 2014. The budget allocation for this year is Rp 45 trillion, it said.
"Fiscally, the subsidies are wasteful," said Lucky Lontoh, a researcher on energy policy at the institute's Global Subsidies Initiative in Jakarta. "They aren't the best way to use Indonesia's resources for the good of the people."
The government is mandated to keep its budget deficit under 3 percent of gross domestic product, a line that is getting closer as tax revenue comes under pressure. Jokowi has ordered government ministries to review their spending plans this year to help keep the budget under control.
The deficit may widen to as much as 2.7 percent of GDP this year compared to an estimated 2.4 percent for 2016, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said last week. She said on Tuesday that the government remained "optimistic" about reaching its revenue target this year and was taking a cautious approach in case it misses that goal.
Gundy Cahyadi, an economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Singapore, said a gradual increase in electricity prices would help limit the impact on inflation.
"You do not want to give a one-time hike, which would only put a lot of stress on prices in the short term," he said. "That could also be disruptive."
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta The government is still struggling to reduce the deficit for the 2018 State Budget to below Rp 100 trillion (US$7.52 billion) from Rp 109 trillion in the 2017 State Budget.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the government would reduce the deficit to between Rp 50 and 99 trillion in 2018.
"We will further reduce the primary deficit to zero, then we will have a surplus," she said during a meeting with the House of Representatives Commission XI, overseeing financial affairs, in Jakarta on Monday.
Since 2012, Indonesia has run a deficit, Sri Mulyani said, adding that this was caused by the ending of the commodities boom, which significantly reduced the government's revenue.
In 2018, the government will still need to issue debt with a value of around 0.3 to 0.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
As spending increases to between Rp 2.2 quadrillion and 2.35 quadrillion in 2018, the budget deficit will amount to between 1.9 and 2.3 percent of GDP, a bit lower than the 2.41 percent of GDP in the 2017 budget.
Sri Mulyani said the government would diversify the source of debt to reduce costs. The government is aiming for the three-month debt paper (SBN) yield to be around 3.8 to 4.6 percent compared to 5.3 percent in 2017. (bbn)
Jakarta The Indonesian government has decided to revise its plan to examine financial data on the back of major outcry from micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME).
The government, through the Tax Office, only requires those with bank accounts with a minimum balance of Rp 1 billion (US$75,148.50) to be subjected to the scheme, higher than the initial plan of Rp 200 million.
The Finance Ministry said in a statement that the revision was made after heeding feedback from related stakeholders "so the policy would be more reflective of the principle of fairness."
"This policy shows preferential a option for MSME while taking into account easier administrative work for financial institutions to implement the policy," the statement said.
With the new ruling, the number of bank accounts subject to tax examination will stand at around 496,000, or 0.25 percent of total accounts, far lower than the initial target of around 2.3 million bank accounts with a minimum balance of Rp 200 million.
The ministry also asserted that the tax examination is aimed at collecting more comprehensive information in accordance with international standards so that Indonesia could take part in financial information exchanges with other countries.
Indonesia along with 105 other countries have committed to enforcing broader access to taxpayers' financial accounts to fulfill the compulsory reporting standards within the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) portal between tax authorities next year, as part of efforts to fight tax avoidance and evasion.
The ministry promised to hand legal sanctions to tax officers who are found to use or leak taxpayer information for purposes other than tax compliance, the statement added. (dmr)
Abdil Mughis Mudhoffir, Luqman-nul Hakim and Diatyka Widya Permata Yasih More than any other previous Indonesian election, the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election saw candidates playing with identity politics to attract votes. The Muslim community was mobilised against governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is now in prison, convicted of what many believe were politically motivated blasphemy charges. This instrumentalisation of religious sentiment has encouraged exclusionary politics. It has also caused a marked polarisation of Indonesian society that has persisted beyond the election.
In the aftermath of the election, public discourse has been dominated by an apparent competition between "tolerant" and "intolerant" Islam and serious questions have been raised about the ongoing compatibility of Islam and democracy in Indonesia. For some, the 2017 Jakarta election indicates an increase in religious intolerance and Islamic conservatism. Alarmists have even depicted recent events as a prelude to the supposed "Taliban-isation" or "shari'atisation" of Indonesia. Others also claim that the election result shows the impact of transnational Islamic movements, especially from the Middle East, leading to the development of a more conservative and illiberal Islam in Indonesia.
These views have shaped the government's response to the "threat" of Islamic radicalism. This is reflected, for instance, in the government's recent attempt to disband Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), a group that seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate. Controversially, the government is proposing that the president be given the power to appoint university rectors directly, partly to prevent radicalisation on campuses. Receiving broad support from those concerned with pluralism and management of diversity, the government has also begun to intensively promote the national ideology of Pancasila, believed to be a counterweight to religious fundamentalism. It has now created a Presidential Working Unit for the Promotion of Pancasila (UKP-PIP), mirroring the Soeharto-era P4 program.
It is concerning that seemingly the only response put forward to counter rising Islamic identity is a crude ultra-nationalism, which could further aggravate social divisions. There is a need to go beyond a simple dichotomy between security and ideology-oriented debates.
Analysis of the broader social context is needed to comprehend the mobilisation of Muslims in contemporary Indonesia. Mobilisation of religious sentiments is inseparable from elite contests over power and resources through the election. As recent smaller-scale protests have shown, elite backing was crucial for getting people out on the streets. A group calling itself the "Alumni of the 2 December Rally" has attempted to gather protestors in support of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab, most recently on 9 June. But without elite support, these protests fizzled. As soon as the elite got what they wanted Ahok out of the running groups like FPI were left out in the cold.
But mobilising so many people on 2 December would not have been possible without the increasing piety among Indonesian Muslims that has developed since the late 1980s, with the growth of an educated urban middle class.
Public expressions of piety have generally only been apparent in the everyday lives of Indonesian Muslims, in contrast to their political lives. It is reflected in the consumer behaviour of Indonesian Muslims, for example their preference for Islamic banking products, Islamic schools, Islamic fashion and even Islamic medicines. More urban Muslims have also joined flourishing conservative Islamic groups, such as Islamic study groups (majelis taklim) or Islamic prayer recital groups (majelis dzikir).
For many Indonesians, Islam provides a way to deal with social and economic insecurities in their everyday lives. Although the current generation is generally more educated than those who came before them, economic growth has not provided enough secure and stable jobs in the formal sector. Most Indonesians also have inadequate access to the social services that can help them cope with uncertainties in life, such as sickness and unemployment.
While the lower class struggles to make a living, many in the middle class are only just clinging on to their newly acquired social status and are vulnerable to falling back into poverty. They may find support from Islamic groups offering various means of survival, such as job opportunities, business loans, or education and health services. For many, membership in conservative Islamic groups influences them to consume Islamic products, which may also provide them with ways to deal with these insecurities. For example, despite recent improvements to the national health insurance scheme, many Indonesians still feel that they cannot rely on public health services, and turn to Islamic medicine as a solution.
Despite the increasing piety of Indonesian Muslims, however, Islamic political parties are at an impasse. They have not been able to capitalise on the Islamisation of society and convert it into a political force. In fact, Islamic political parties have so far failed to present themselves as vehicles to channel Muslims' aspirations. Many senior figures from these parties have been embroiled in corruption cases and predatory practices, just like the "nationalist" or non-Islamic parties. Consequently, the increasingly Islamised wider community remains unorganised but, at the same time, provides a resource pool for mobilisation by any political elites who might claim to represent Muslim interests.
This was the case with the mobilisation of religious sentiment in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, which transformed Islamic expression in everyday life into a political force. But it was not only elites taking advantage of religious sentiment to gain electoral support. At the same time, conservative Muslims also had a need to channel their many demands through pragmatic elites.
This is by no means a new phenomenon. The same tendency can also be found in the trend toward passage of shari'a-inspired bylaws by local leaders under the decentralised system of governance implemented post-Soeharto. Many of the local leaders who issue these regulations are from nationalist political parties, demonstrating that the bylaws are often merely instruments to mobilise support from an Islamised society, not necessarily the products of increasing piety among political leaders.
Further, Islamic identity politics works because alternative organised social mobilisation and political representation are generally so weak. Although the state is perceived as having failed to deliver social services and welfare to society, political parties have not been able to effectively channel public aspirations or anger into voting patterns.
What about other ideologies or forms of political organisation? Liberal democracy is fragmented and poorly organised and the tradition of leftist politics was destroyed with the massacres of 1965-1966. Islamic identity, meanwhile, was reinforced by Soeharto in the late 1980s, to help shield his regime from a challenge from the military. This has paved the way for the Islamisation of social and political life. Therefore, for the public, organising around religious identity is considered a useful strategy if not the only one available to articulate their hopes or disapproval.
The use of religion to articulate political interests is, of course, not a uniquely Indonesian phenomenon. It is part of post-socialist world politics. In many Muslim-majority countries, such as Algeria, Egypt and Turkey, Islam has been central to politics because of the absence of the left that has occurred after the Cold War.
The polarisation of so-called radical and moderate Muslims, like the rise of right-wing extremism in Indonesia, should be read as a symptom of a broader competition for power and the absence of alternative organised political channels. The precarious lower and middle classes provide a resource pool for mass mobilisation during political contestation. Without recognising these issues, reactionary responses from the state will not only miss the point but may well create other problems.
This piece was written as a summary of, and response to, a monthly discussion convened by Indonesian postgraduate students and scholars at the University of Melbourne. Professor Vedi Hadiz, from the Asia Institute, and Professor Ariel Heryanto, from Monash University, spoke about the mobilisation of Islamic identity politics in Indonesia during the most recent discussion on 17 May.
Andre Vltchek "America first" and "to hell with the rest of the world"! One single stroke of hand, one signature, and over 1,000 hardworking people in Bali, Indonesia, suddenly ended up on the pavement. No second thoughts, no mercy. American savage capitalist ways met and embraced that fabled Indonesian feudalism, which was implanted into this country several decades ago, precisely after the 1965 military coup sponsored by the West.
U.S. President Donald Trump, always on the lookout for some great business opportunities, finally found one in Bali (and one more in West Java), a tropical, once paradise-like Indonesian island. And not just somewhere in Bali, but right next to the holiest and the most spectacular Hindu temple in the country, Tanah Lot.
It is true that he was not the first one determined to destroy the area. An enormous hotel and golf resort, Le Meridien teamed up with several Indonesian businesses, and perpetrated a land grab, forcing out thousands of local people. That was a long time ago. Then the Pan Pacific hotel chain moved in, purchased the property, and is running it to this day.
However, Mr. Trump is now planning something truly monumental here, in the middle of the iconic rice fields and dormant rural countryside: a shout of hedonism, a 6-star opulent, a concrete monstrosity, which will certainly and irreversibly dwarf the local culture and the traditional Balinese aesthetics.
Mr. Trump teamed up with Hary Tanoesoedibjo, an unsavory and ruthless Indonesian businessman. It is actually feared by many that Mr. Tanoesoedibjo (and others around him) are now manipulating Indonesian politics, on behalf of the West, trying to eliminate progressive elements that have managed to enter (some say 'miraculously') the Indonesian government. It is also no secret that Mr. Tanoesoedibjo himself has high political ambitions, and will most likely be running for the post of president.
The US geopolitical interests, as well as the interests of the local business "elites", have always been directly antagonistic to the interests of the Indonesian poor (still the great majority of the country's population).
I spoke to Ms. Ni Luh, working in the Guest Relations Department of the Pan Pacific Hotel:
"I have been employed by this property for more than 20 years. First it was Le Meridien, now it is Pan Pacific. Soon the hotel will be closing down. I was told this on the February 14, 2017, on Valentine's Day. I was devastated. I just took a bank loan of Rp. 60 million (US$4.000), for the education of my child, and I had only managed to pay one single installment, before hearing 'the news'. How will I be able to repay that loan if I lose my job in July? I feel very scared and very sad.
"I am a single mother; my child is still in junior high school. I cannot rely on anybody else.
"I heard that we would only get severance pay of Rp. 40 millions (US$3.000). And that is after 20 years of service. Our union here is still trying to negotiate to get at least Rp. 100 millions, but I'm not sure they will succeed."
This land is now owned by Hary Tanoe and Donald Trump. It is big 103 hectares. I heard that they want to expand, to acquire more land that is still owned by the villagers. This new hotel will be huge, with 125 suites. They call it a 6 star property. And they'll create a totally new golf course here.
There was a deal, between the first owners and the employees. I checked. This deal will be now fully ignored by the new owners: Trump/Tanoe. I went to the surrounding villages, where everyone appears to be in total distress. Ms. Ketut, who works at a small eatery, Warung Bu Dini, on the main road leading to the Tanah Lot temple, appears to be angry and desperate:
"The biggest problem with the change of ownership of the Nirwana Bali Resorts is that there will be more than 800 villagers who will lose their jobs. Some say over one thousand."
Ms. Ketut continues: "When Nirwana Bali acquired our lands, we signed agreements that said: with each 'ownership of land certificate', the owners will provide 2-4 jobs to the families of the certificate holders. The new owners, Hary Tanoe and Donald Trump, simply do not intend to honor those agreements anymore. There is obviously nothing we can do about it.
"Our 'warung' will also suffer, when they close the hotel in July 2017. Some golfers are actually our customers. Now, for 3 years almost no one will be eating here."
To put things into perspective: to protest or to defend one's rights in Indonesia is extremely dangerous. People who dare to go against the 'big interests', often get beaten, they disappear, their houses are burned, wives and daughters raped.
Three years is a long period of time, especially in a country where many are living from day to day, with no 'reserves' and no savings. Mr. Trump must know it, and, of course, he doesn't care.
Ms. Ni Luh concludes: "They are not going to re-hire us, at least not people they will consider to be already 'too old' (I'm 43 years old now). They don't care that we have worked here for 20 years and that this is in a way our second home. I'll have to find another job. How, I don't know, but I have to: I have a child to feed."
Ms. Indra, her colleague at the Pan Pacific Hotel, seems to be in a same boat: "We are all very sad and feel very uncertain. My son will go to university this year, but I am losing my job very soon."
In the meantime, Bali is collapsing, like the rest of Indonesia. It is already ruined environmentally; it is infested by notorious traffic jams, pollution and lack of public spaces. During and after the Financial Crises of 1997-98, most of the Balinese families in the tourist areas were forced to sell their land. Instead of running their own businesses as before, local people are now mostly employed by big companies, either Javanese or foreign. Living conditions are tough.
Idyllic, artistic and sensual Bali is basically gone. In a predominantly Muslim country, it still functions as some sort of a duty-free island, where alcohol and pork are widely available, and where clubs are open until the wee hours. There are also a few beautiful rice fields between the terrible urban sprawls with no sidewalks and no public transportation to speak of (still a norm for most of the cities in Indonesia).
Instead of artists, writers and dreamers, Bali is now catering to mass tourism. One chain 5-star hotel after another is opening its doors, on the beaches and in the spectacular ravines. Instead of integrating themselves into the cultural and traditional landscape, these hotels are creating huge luxury "bubbles", fully separated from the rest of the island.
Now Donald Trump has found his niche. Confidently, the Trump International Hotel & Tower Bali site declares:
"Trump Hotels has exciting plans to open the collection's first resort in Asia as Trump International Hotel & Tower Bali. When completed, the luxurious resort will be the largest and most integrated lifestyle resort destination in Bali."
But what about the island, what about the villages and what about the people? All that, obviously, matters nothing!
The site further boasts: "Built atop a sheer cliff along a sweeping coastline, the development will offer breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean and Tanah Lot, the most popular tourist and cultural icon of Bali."
What will soon come up will be an enormous golf resort, next to the iconic temple, which is totally unique, in fact, it is an island during high tide, accessible only during those times of the day when the tide is low. But even the temple is already damaged; it is reinforced by badly poured concrete. It is surrounded by horrible eateries on the 'shore'. Right before the sunset, hundreds of huge buses are bringing thousands of indifferent tourists for a quick glimpse. Nothing is serene in Bali anymore.
Paradoxically (but in a way logically by turbo-capitalist Indonesian standards), the greatest views of the temple will be 'reserved' for the richest of the rich, for those who will be able to afford to stay and to play at the luxury hotel and golf course owned by Mr. Trump.
Somehow, at least to me, the advertisements of the future hotel look more like a requiem for the island of Bali.
My history with Bali is long. I used to come here, periodically, to shut myself off from the world, and to write. Even when I used to live in my beloved Chile, I would fly to Bali, to the other side of the world, via Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Kuala Lumpur. Bali used to be serene. It used to have soul capricious, unpredictable, but soul nevertheless.
I wrote my revolutionary novel, "Point of No Return", in Ubud. Exile or Terasing! Di negeri sendiri, a book with Pramoedya Ananta Toer, the greatest Indonesian writer, and with Ms. Rossie Indira, was actually edited in Tanah Lot. I avoid the island now; I have done so for many years. I only come when some calamity occurs, or something truly significant.
This time, the symbolism is clear: what is happening in Tanah Lot is indicating, brutally, although on a small scale, how the world and Indonesia will be governed from Washington, in the upcoming years.
Just a few months ago, the governor of Indonesia's largest city, Jakarta, seemed headed for easy re-election despite the fact that he is a Christian in a mostly Muslim country. Suddenly everything went violently wrong.
Using the pretext of an offhand remark the governor made about the Koran, masses of enraged Muslims took to the streets to denounce him. In short order he lost the election, was arrested, charged with blasphemy, and sentenced to two years in prison.
This episode is especially alarming because Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, has long been one of its most tolerant. Indonesian Islam, like most belief systems on that vast archipelago, is syncretic, gentle, and open-minded. The stunning fall of Jakarta's governor reflects the opposite: intolerance, sectarian hatred, and contempt for democracy. Fundamentalism is surging in Indonesia. This did not happen naturally.
Saudi Arabia has been working for decades to pull Indonesia away from moderate Islam and toward the austere Wahhabi form that is state religion in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis' campaign has been patient, multi-faceted, and lavishly financed. It mirrors others they have waged in Muslim countries across Asia and Africa.
Successive American presidents have assured us that Saudi Arabia is our friend and wishes us well. Yet we know that Osama bin Laden and most of his 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, and that, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in a diplomatic cable eight years ago, "Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide."
Recent events in Indonesia shine a light on a Saudi project that is even more pernicious than financing terrorists. Saudi Arabia has used its wealth, much of which comes from the United States, to turn entire nations into hotbeds of radical Islam. By refusing to protest or even officially acknowledge this far-reaching project, we finance our own assassins and global terror.
The center of Saudi Arabia's campaign to convert Indonesians to Wahhabi Islam is a tuition-free university in Jakarta known by the acronym LIPIA. All instruction is in Arabic, given mainly by preachers from Saudi Arabia and nearby countries. Genders are kept apart; strict dress codes are enforced; and music, television, and "loud laughter" are forbidden. Students learn an ultra-conservative form of Islam that favors hand amputation for thieves, stoning for adulterers, and death for gays and blasphemers.
Many of the students come from the more than 100 boarding schools Saudi Arabia supports in Indonesia, or have attended one of the 150 mosques that Saudis have built there. The most promising are given scholarships to study in Saudi Arabia, from which they return fully prepared to wreak social, political, and religious havoc in their homeland. Some promote terror groups like Hamas Indonesia and the Islamic Defenders Front, which did not exist before the Saudis arrived.
Eager to press his advantage, King Salman of Saudi Arabia made a nine-day trip to Indonesia in March, accompanied by an entourage of 1,500. The Saudis agreed to allow more than 200,000 Indonesians to make the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca each year more than come from any other country and sought permission to open new branches of their LIPIA university.
Some Indonesians are pushing back against the Saudi assault on their traditional values, but it is difficult to deny permission for new religious schools when the state is not able to provide decent secular alternatives. In Indonesia, as in other countries where the Saudis are actively promoting Wahhabism including Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bosnia the weakness and corruption of central governments create pools of rootless unemployed who are easily seduced by the promises of free food and a place in God's army.
The surging fundamentalism that is transforming Indonesia teaches several lessons. First is one that we should already have learned, about the nature of the Saudi government. It is an absolute monarchy supported by one of the world's most reactionary religious sects. It gives clerics large sums to promote their anti-Western, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic brand of religious militancy abroad. In exchange, the clerics refrain from criticizing the Saudi monarchy or its thousands of high-living princes. Saudis with close ties to the ruling family give crucial support to groups like Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS. This fact should be at the front of our minds whenever we consider our policy toward the Middle East including when we decide whether to side with the Saudis in their new dispute with neighboring Qatar.
Saudi Arabia's success in reshaping Indonesia shows the importance of the global battle over ideas. Many in Washington consider spending for cultural and other "soft power" projects to be wasteful. The Saudis feel differently. They pour money and resources into promoting their world view. We should do the same.
The third lesson that today's Indonesia teaches is about the vulnerability of democracy. In 1998 Indonesia's repressive military dictatorship gave way to a new system, based on free elections, that promised civil and political rights for all. Radical preachers who would previously have been imprisoned for whipping up religious hatred found themselves free spread their poison. Democracy enables them to forge giant mobs that demand death for apostates. Their political parties campaign in democratic elections for the right to come to power and crush democracy. This is a sobering reality for those who believe that one political system is best for all countries under all circumstances.
The Saudi campaign to radicalize global Islam also shows that earth-shaking events often happen slowly and quietly. The press, focused intently on reporting today's news, often misses deeper and more important stories. Historians of journalism sometimes point to the northward "great migration" of African-Americans after World War II as an epochal story that few journalists noticed because it was a slow process rather than one-day news event.
The same is true of Saudi Arabia's long campaign to pull the world's 1.8 billion Muslims back to the 7th century. We barely notice it, but every day, from Mumbai to Manchester, we feel its effects.
Amalinda Savirani As some scholars argue, there is insufficient proof of the 'neoliberal' nature of the policies that outgoing Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has led.
What has happened instead is an increase of local state capitalism, marked by the roles of local government-owned enterprises in Jakarta's development. Notwithstanding this fact, structural problems still are pressing in Jakarta, and are mostly related with land and spatial planning issues. Here I want to explore those structural problems in Jakarta that the governor-elect Anies Baswedan will deal with in office. One of pressing problem in the capital city remains unsolved: namely, chaotic spatial planning and its further consequences for the environment, including exacerbating flood disasters, and for vulnerable groups who need state the most the poor.
Land, of course, is an important resource in Jakarta. With population growth of 3.7% annually, scarcity of land is a pressing issue. UN-Habitat estimates that in 2050, population living in the cities in the world will be 66%. According to BPS data n 2012, 54% of Indonesian population live in the cities. There is no hard data on land prices in Jakarta, but it is plan to see that it has spiralled annually, and become unaffordable for the poor. The number of poor in Jakarta that is, living below the official poverty line is 3.5% of total population, or 320,000, similar to the population of Canberra. Scarcity of land and its constant increased price make it hard to access housing in Jakarta for the middle class, let alone the lower class.
Within this context, small groups dominate and control land. Many of the top 40 richest men in Indonesia (according to the business magazine Globe Asia) are in the property businesses. (It's important to note that the Indonesian rich is limited not only to Chinese Indonesians, but also includes many indigenous (pribumi) tycoons.) These private developers provide housing for the middle class and upper classes in Jakarta. In the late 1980s, housing estates were largely located in fringe of Jakarta. Ciputra, the so-called 'king of developers', developed a satellite city of Bumi Serpong Damai (BSD) in Southwest Jakarta as well as Pantai Indah Kapuk in North Jakarta. Lippo Group, belonging to the Riady family, constructed Lippo Karawaci in Tangerang, and Lippo Cikarang in Bekasi, East Jakarta. Ciputra actively lobbied Soeharto to convert the peatland in North Jakarta into a residential area before the Salim Group, belonging to the notorious New Order crony Liem Sioe Long, took over the project. These are the examples mentioned in Arai's research in 2015. All of developers found their close connections to Soeharto to be instrumental in building vast land holdings, according to Winarso and Firman's research.
But as traffic jams worsened, and Jakartans who lived in these suburbs spent more and more time on the road commuting, the business of high-rise apartment buildings in the city centre started to take off in the early 2000s. Agung Podomoro Land (APL) owned by Trihatma Kusuma Haliman was as one of the pioneers in this area. Other developers followed in APL's footsteps and moved their focus back into town to build high-rise apartments there. Summarecon group constructed much of Kelapa Gading. The prominent politician-cum-businessman Aburizal Bakrie had Rasuna Episentrum in Kuningan area. The Lippo Group developed high rise mixed use complexes for the upper middle class in Kemang and West Jakarta. The Murdaya family, taking over the property business of the Salim group, now has its own property projects in Jakarta's CBD.
Colliers International data from 2016 shows that the price for apartments in Jakarta averages Rp32,100,000 (A$3,200) per square metre. For rentals, the average price is Rp365,610 (A$36)/sq. m/month CBD and 218,625 (A$21)/sq. m/month for South Jakarta. Compare this price to the rent cost for vertical social housing (Rusunawa) in Marunda area, North Jakarta. At the fourth floor there, tenants pay Rp128,000 (A$12)/month for 30square metres, or IDR 4,266 (A$4)/sq.m/month.
The Jakartans who can afford to purchase or rent their own apartments are perhaps part of the lucky 18% of those in the middle class population celebrated by such entities as McKinsey. At the other side, the social class that manages to pay rent for rusunawa is those with provincial minimum wage is IDR 3.35 million/month, or less. Here we see stark extremes of housing pricing among social classes, which also reflects the tremendous inequality between social classes in the capital.
According to market directory of apartments in Jakarta, there are 334 apartment developments, and 116 under construction. Data from Colliers states that total supply of in 2012 was almost 150,000 units. The figure may increase around 20% of that number in 2017. If we compare these numbers with rusunawa in Jakarta, the difference is stark. According to the provincial government's data, the total number of rusunawa public housing developments in Jakarta is 24, representing fewer than 10% of all apartments. In 2016, the Jakarta government planned to build 21,000 units with budget allocation Rp3.3 trillion (A$330 million). Again, we see more inequality, this time in terms of housing provision: the rich and middle class have more housing supply, while the poor have to struggle to access limited quantities of affordable housing.
If during Soeharto the era it was the central government who had control on spatial planning, in the post-Soeharto era it is local government through their local bylaws or perda. These set guidelines for urban development in spatial planning (RTRW) documents with a time frame of 20 years, with possible revision every 5 years. In more detailed accompanying spatial plans, provisions for zoning residential, commercial, or green space.
There has been violation of these planning regulations, especially conducted by the developers I introduced above and the Jakarta provincial government seems to approve of it. Kemang in South Jakarta is one good example. According to the Jakarta RTRW document, it was a conservation area. In early 1980s, 70% of the area was green. But the areas was rezoned for commercial use, with cafes and shopping areas proliferating in the 1990s. Due to this conversion, green areas intended to be a catchment area have deteriorated. As a result, water has inundated the suburb every rainy season since the mid-2000s. There has been little concrete action that taken by the government in response.
Another prominent source of spatial law violations is the case shopping call construction. According to data collected by Deden Rukmana in 2015, there are five main areas where the designated uses in Jakarta's 1985-2005 were violated, as can be seen in table below.
While the Jakarta government relaxed its regulation towards developers, they are very hard on violations of spatial planning by poor communities. Between 2015-2016, according to Jakarta's Yayasan LBH (Legal Aid Foundation), there have been more than 300 cases of forced eviction in Jakarta, with more than 14,000 victims, making it the largest forced evictions in Jakarta's modern history.
This inconsistency brings severe effects for the whole city. Construction of high rise buildings in the capital has resulted in the increased rate of land subsidence, which the World Bank estimates has been occurring at the rate of 4-6 cm per year. These high rise buildings extract water from the ground, which deteriorates the soil, leading to subsidence. At the same time, green area remains less than 7% of Jakarta's surface. These all have worsen floods every year in Jakarta, and has made the capital achieve the title of a 'sinking city'. The whole city and its population bear the cost.
Jakarta's election in 2017 has absorbed us all with the prominence of issues of religion and identity, which are indeed quite worrying for the future of Indonesian democracy. However, looking towards Jakarta's future, persistent urban issues such as land, environment, and spatial planning, which has both reflected and reproduced spatial inequality among social classes, remains. This issue are material for all of Jakartans in the next five years, no matter their religion or race.