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Indonesia News Digest 24 – June 23-30, 2017

Human rights & justice Freedom of speech & expression Political parties & elections Blasphemy & shariah law Surveys & opinion polls LBGT & same-sex marriage Corruption & abuse of power Terrorism & religious extremism Religious intolerance & vigilantism Freedom of religion & worship Islam & religion Land & agrarian conflicts Jakarta & urban life Transport & communication Food & beverage industry Retail & service industry Criminal justice & legal system Foreign affairs & trade Economy & investment

Human rights & justice

Torture remains a serious problem in Indonesia: AHRC

Jakarta Globe - June 30, 2017

Jakarta – The Asian Human Rights Commission, or AHRC, last week urged Indonesia to consistently implement the United Nations Convention Against Torture, citing several areas of concern that have allowed torture to take place in the country, such as the absence of a national law to punish torture, its continued practice in police investigations and little accountability for perpetrators.

Despite having ratified the International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1998, torture remains a serious problem in the archipelago.

"The government and the parliament have failed to develop high legal standards to prosecute and punish torture," the AHRC said in a statement to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on Monday (26/06).

The AHRC highlighted several problems that prevent Indonesia from eliminating torture.

This includes a lack of an effective oversight mechanism for police, allowing power abuse as well as pretrial detention under the criminal code encouraging torture in custody.

Despite the government having issued a handbook of human rights to police officers, torture is often committed to extract confessions from suspects and witnesses.

As many victims of torture are mostly poor, uneducated people with little understanding of their legal rights and most torture cases involve suspects unable to access lawyers or public defenders, the Indonesian criminal justice systems suffer from shortcomings that allow the continued practice of torture.

The AHRC pointed out that the 2011 Legal Aid Law still proves ineffective for poorer members of the community facing criminal investigations. "Until today, the Indonesian police are still the most frequent perpetrators of torture," the AHRC said in the statement.

Counterterrorism efforts

Sunday's suspected terrorist attack that resulted in the death of a police officer in Medan, North Sumatra, may serve as momentum to speed up the finalization of an ongoing revision of the 2003 Antiterrorism Law, currently deliberated by the House of Representatives.

Jakarta-based human rights group, the Setara Institute, said on Wednesday that the police need pretrial authority to prevent terrorist attacks.

Along with the rest of the world, Indonesia is gearing up to face increasing threats of terrorism. Giving police greater powers and ensuring that law enforcement officers can effectively prevent terrorism will become increasingly necessary.

However, Indonesia may need to address root problems in its criminal justice system to avoid severe violations of human rights in its counterterrorism efforts.

Despite having ratified the UN Torture Convention in 1998, Indonesia is still unwilling to establish a human rights court to address violations defined in the Human Rights Law of 2000. Besides the human rights court, Indonesia has also been eliminating the crime of genocide from the law.

External oversight

External oversight, which is crucial in bringing perpetrators to justice, still remains ineffective in Indonesia.

Independent state agencies, such as the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the National Police Commission (Kompolnas), fell short in their expected roles to ensure effective law enforcement in cases of torture cases and to contribute to the eradication of the practice.

"The government should develop high standards of law to prosecute and punish torture [...] The government should also develop effective oversight mechanisms to ensure that all forms of torture and abuse of power conducted by state agents are punished, and that the culture of impunity is abolished," the AHRC said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/torture-remains-serious-problem-indonesia-ahrc/

Freedom of speech & expression

Indonesia imposes travel ban on Trump's business partner

Reuters - June 28, 2017

Indonesian authorities have imposed a travel ban on tycoon and politician Hary Tanoesoedibjo, who is building resorts to be managed by Trump hotels, over an investigation into allegations he threatened a prosecutor via a text message.

Tanoesoedibjo has been given a 20-day overseas travel ban starting on June 22 based on a request by Indonesian police's criminal investigation unit Agung Sampurno, a spokesman at the immigration directorate said on Wednesday.

The Indonesian billionaire "is under investigation related to a violation of the information and electronic transactions law," Sampurno said.

Tanoesoedibjo, whose MNC Group controls businesses ranging from media to property, has been named a suspect for allegedly sending a threatening message to a prosecutor investigating a case involving Mobile 8, a telecommunications company previously owned by MNC Group.

Tanoesoedibjo's lawyer could not be reached on Wednesday but in an earlier statement dismissed the allegations. "The content of Hary Tanoesoedibjo's SMS is general and idealistic and does not threaten anyone," his lawyer Hotman Paris Hutapea said.

Part of Tanoesoedibjo's text message read: "If I am the leader of this country, then that's where Indonesia will be changed and cleared of things that are not as they should be," according to the statement from the lawyer.

Tanoesoedijo has also denied the allegations in media reports. Breaching the law can carry a maximum jail term of four years and a maximum fine of 750 million rupiah ($56,000)

The tycoon, who in the 2014 election ran as a candidate for vice president, founded his own a political party in 2015 and said in January he would decide before the end of next year whether to run in the 2019 presidential election.

He described U.S. President Donald Trump's victory as inspiring for candidates with little political experience and attended Trump's innauguration in Washington in January.

His company is currently building two luxury resorts in the island of Bali and in West Java, which would be managed by Trump Hotel Collection.

In an interview with Reuters ahead of Trump's inauguration, Tanoesoedibjo dismissed concerns by ethics officials that Trump's overseas business deals might be vulnerable to conflicts of interest.

Tanoesoedibjo also said in February that while his relationship with the U.S. president has been focused on business he could help ties between the nations "if needed".

Several leaders in Muslim-majority Indonesia have expressed concerns over Trump's tough immigration stance.

(Reporting by Fransiska Nangoy and Cindy Silviana; Editing by Ed Davies and Michael Perry)

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-indonesia-idUSKBN19J0J2

Media mogul declared intimidation suspect

Jakarta Post - June 23, 2017

Jakarta – The National Police officially named businessman-cum-politician Hary Tanoesoedibjo a suspect on Friday for allegedly intimidating an Attorney General's Office (AGO) official last year.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Rikwanto said in Jakarta on Friday that the police had notified prosecutors about Hary's status through a letter dated June 15. "The police leadership has allowed its investigators to commence a criminal investigation with Hary as a suspect."

The announcement ended days of uncertainty about Hary's status after he underwent a series of police questionings. He was reported to the police for allegedly threatening the head of the AGO sub-directorate for special crimes, Yulianto, who handled an investigation into the businessman's reportedly suspicious Rp 10.75 billion (US$807,360) tax restitution claim in 2009.

Earlier this week, the police clarified Attorney General Prasetyo's statement to the media that Hary, the founder of the Indonesia Unity Party (Perindo) and media chain MNC Group, had been named a suspect. Subsequently, Hary's lawyers reported Prasetyo to police for making what they claimed was a false statement.

Yulianto filed a criminal complaint against Hary for allegedly texting him a threatening message in connection with the AGO's ongoing probe into the dubious tax restitution involving Hary's company, PT Mobile-8 Telecom.

The SMS said, "Mas Yulianto, we will prove who is right; who is a professional and who is a thug. Please remember that power doesn't last forever. I entered politics with the intention of eliminating law enforcers who are undemocratic, corrupt and abuse their power. Mark my words, I will surely become a leader of this country and when I do, Indonesia will be cleansed."

Rikwanto added that the police were scheduled to question Hary early next month, after the Idul Fitri holiday.

The police have charged Hary under the 2016 Electronic Information and Transactions Law, which carries a maximum prison term of four years. (kuk)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/23/media-mogul-declared-intimidation-suspect.html

Political parties & elections

All political party chiefs to meet to solve presidential threshold

Jakarta Post - June 26, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – A lawmaker said a high level meeting between all political party chiefs was underway to solve the deadlocked discussions over the prerequisites allowing parties to nominate presidential candidates for the 2019 election, what is popularly known as the "presidential threshold."

Gerindra Party lawmaker Ahmad Riza Patria, who is also a deputy chairman of the special committee tasked to deliberate over a bill to regulate the upcoming presidential election, said that the meeting is expected to give birth to a consensus ahead of a House plenary meeting to vote on a final decision on July 20.

"We held many meetings to talk [about the matter]," Riza said during a meeting held to observe the first day of Idul Fitri on Sunday.

However, he said, the previous meetings had only managed to unite those leaders who agreed on a "zero" threshold, meaning any party would be able to nominate a candidate. Besides Gerindra, the other zero-threshold supporters are the Democratic Party, the National Awakening Party (PKB), the United Development Party (PPP), the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Hanura Party.

"We haven't managed to bring leaders of the other three parties that support a presidential threshold of between 20 and 25 percent in one room with our leaders," he added, referring to the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Golkar Party and the NasDem Party. (dic)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/26/all-political-party-chiefs-to-meet-to-solve-presidential-threshold-deadlock.html

Blasphemy & shariah law

Well-wishers mark Ahok's 51st birthday via social media

Jakarta Post - June 29, 2017

Jakarta – Well-wishers, including celebrities, have sent birthday messages and prayers to former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is currently serving a prison sentence, to mark Ahok's 51st birthday today.

In a 45-second video uploaded through the twitter account @RHasfinanda, several public figures took turns in extending their birthday wishes to the former governor.

"Bapak Basuki, Pak Ahok, Happy Birthday," said media personality, political analyst and former presidential spokesperson Wimar Witoelar.

In addition to Wimar, singers Giring Nidji and Glenn Fredly, composer Addie MS and film star Luna Maya also joined the well-wishers in the video.

The videos on the @RHasfinanda account were tagged #HBDAhok51 and #TetapAhok, which became trending hashtags nationwide.

Another account, @ezkisuyanto, tweeted a message at 11:06 a.m. that said, "Happy Birthday @basuki_btp stay healthy, I hope the loving God always protects you! #HBDAhok52", complete with an image of a birthday wish.

The @goudotmobi account also wished a Happy Birthday to the former governor and uploaded a photo of the Kalijodo area, West Jakarta.

"Happy51stbirthday, Pak Ahok! The Universe bless you. This is Kalijodo recent night look that will always be remembered. #HBDAhok51," @goudotmobi wrote. (dra/dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/29/well-wishers-mark-ahoks-51st-birthday-via-social-media.html

Birthday wishes flow in for Jakarta's jailed ex-governor Ahok

Asia Correspondent - June 29, 2017

Max Walden – Indonesian netizens have come out in droves to wish former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama a happy birthday, which he will celebrate behind bars.

Thousands of well-wishers sent messages to Ahok, who was given two years' imprisonment in May for blasphemy against Islam, for his 51st birthday. He is serving his sentence in the Rutan Mako Brimob detention centre in Depok, West Java, south of the capital.

The hashtag #HBDAhok51 was the top trending hashtag on Twitter across all of Indonesia on Thursday.

Indonesian politics has been shaken by the jailing of the Christian, ethnic Chinese Ahok, which many see as a threat to freedom of speech, minority rights and a historically tolerant form of Islam in Southeast Asia's largest democracy.

Rallies in support of Ahok were held across the archipelago and by Indonesian diaspora communities in North America, Asia, Europe and Australia in the wake of his imprisonment last month.

A half-hour YouTube video was released on Wednesday featuring citizens and high-profile figures such as Martin Gil the CEO of Coca Cola Indonesia, rockstar Giring Ganesha, and Muslim preacher Gus Nuril, a prominent figure in the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) – the world's largest Islamic organisation.

Gus Nuril called Ahok a "martyr" for Indonesia – a popular theme among his supporters who have drawn parallels with Nelson Mandela and Gandhi.

SFG Aviation CEO Chico Hakim sent a video message from Jakarta's city mosque which was built and inaugurated by Ahok when he was in office.

Comedian Rony "Mongol" Immanuel said he missed the governor and joked that when Ahok returns to city hall, he would find an ice cream waiting for him in the fridge.

Well-wishers described him as the best governor ever and as brave, honest and anti-corruption, while sending their greetings to the ex-governor's family.

Ahok is said to be using his time behind bars to read the bible, brush up on his Mandarin and learn kung fu. Citizens can go on a waiting list to visit the former governor in prison.

His family says it is safest for him to be in prison for the time being after a number of death threats were received.

"The religious people have been saying in the mosques his blood is haram (forbidden) and that killing him is good," said Ahok's sister and the head of his legal team Fifi Lety Indra last month. "This is necessary protection and it gives us peace and comfort he's there."

Both Ahok's lawyers and prosecutors – who had initially signalled their intent to challenge the sentence handed down – have now withdrawn their appeals. "Happy birthday Pak. Always be healthy. We miss your hard work," wrote one netizen.

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/06/birthday-wishes-flow-jakartas-jailed-ex-governor-ahok/

Surveys & opinion polls

Survey reveals latest trends among millenial travelers

Jakarta Post - June 28, 2017

Ni Nyoman Wira, Jakarta – A recent survey by travel fare aggregator and online booking platform Agoda.com reveals the latest trends of millennial travelers from Indonesia.

According to the survey, which involved 1,000 millennials aged 25 to 34 years old who booked their trips independently, 40 percent of the travelers want to feel challenged when traveling, while 45 percent said they want to explore destinations away from where they are staying.

While traveling, 64 percent said they like trying street food from vendors, while 47 percent of participants prefer to find restaurants that are well-known on social media. Among activities millenials said they took part in are cafe hopping, visiting night markets, shopping in traditional markets and haggling with local shopkeepers.

Meanwhile, although the #selfie and #wefie hashtags are popular across social media platforms, especially on Instagram, 86 percent of travelers said they prefer to have their friends take an artistic photo of them while they look off at nothing in particular.

"This survey clearly shows a big shift from the relatively sedentary approach of traveling in the past," said Agoda International Indonesia country director Gede Gunawan in a press release. "We're seeing the emergence of a much more adventurous and independently minded traveler here in Indonesia." (kes)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/travel/2017/06/28/survey-reveals-latest-trends-among-millenial-travelers.html

LBGT & same-sex marriage

Indonesia's gay community driven underground after police raids

Reuters - June 30, 2017

Gayatri Suroyo and Stefanno Reinard, Jakarta – When an angry mob of Islamists threatened to burn down a place hosting a gay and lesbian film festival in Jakarta in 2010, Indonesian police came to protect those staging it.

A volunteer at the festival, Adi, 28, now fears that instead of safeguarding their rights authorities are targeting his community, forcing them to hide their lifestyles or even consider moving abroad.

Indonesia's Islamists have long sought to criminalise gay sex. The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the vigilante group that threatened the now defunct Q! film festival in Jakarta, has previously broken up what they said were gay parties and then urged the police to detain the men.

But what is sending a new chill through the gay community is that police seem to have taken on the vice patrol role themselves. In May, officers detained 141 men in a raid on the Atlantis sauna, accusing them of involvement in a gay prostitution ring in a part of Jakarta that is also home to many heterosexual "spas".

A month earlier, police raided a hotel in Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya over an alleged "sex party" and made the 14 detained men undergo HIV tests before publicly releasing the results, local media reports said.

"Before this, we used to think of the police as our safety net when mass organizations, or anyone claiming to represent the people, came to attack us," said Adi, who works in e-commerce and asked to be identified using only one name.

"Now if I want to do anything, I'll do it in my apartment, in a private space," he said, adding he was thinking of emigrating.

With the exception of the ultra-conservative Aceh province in northern Sumatra, where Islamic law is enforced and two men were publicly flogged last month for gay sex, homosexuality is legal in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country. Police denied targeting the LGBT community.

The police raided the Atlantis and the Surabaya hotel because the gatherings there had caused "turmoil in the community", national police spokesman Rikwanto said. "As long as they are kept private and their (LGBT community's) personal affairs are kept to themselves, then it will not be a problem," he said.

Indonesia's reputation for tolerance and pluralism was already under scrutiny after Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, was sentenced last month to two years in prison for blasphemy in a trial that came after mass Islamist-led rallies last year.

His case highlighted the role of Islamic vigilante groups like the FPI, who helped organise the protests against him. The groups are known for raiding bars and brothels during the fasting month of Ramadan. Some have been suspected in arson attacks on churches.

Predominantly Muslim Indonesia has substantial minorities of Christian, Buddhist, Hindus, Confucianists as well as non-Sunni Muslim creeds, such as Shias, who have expressed worries about the vigilantes.

Members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to the Indonesian government last week, stating their concern over the reports of possible human rights abuses targeting the gay community.

"These attacks are an unfortunate symptom of the growing radicalisation in Indonesia that has targeted women, religious and ethnic minorities, and which could negatively impact diplomatic relations and foreign investments in your country, if left unchecked," said the letter signed by 35 congress members.

An Indonesian presidential spokesman declined to comment on the letter. President Joko Widodo last year gave qualified support for the gay community, telling the BBC "there should be no discrimination against anyone", but noted homosexuality is not popular in his country.

Homosexuality remains a taboo topic with the public, which is why the gay community gathers away from the public eye in saunas and underground parties. A Pew Research Center poll in 2013 found 93 percent of respondents in Indonesia disagreed that "society should accept homosexuality".

Activists say controversial anti-pornography laws, under which offenders can face up to 15 years' jail, were being misused against some of those rounded up during the recent raids in Jakarta. Police also seemed to be using shaming tactics in the raids.

The men detained at Jakarta's Atlantis sauna were nearly all later released without charge, but not before being strip-searched, photographed and marched semi-naked from the venue into vehicles. Adding to their humiliation, photos were then shared on social media.

"Honestly, after what happened, I'm scared. Because what the police stripped naked was not just your body, but your name, your place of work. I'm a lecturer so it could be a problem for me," said Ahmad, 33, who works at a university in Jakarta. He declined to give his full name or place of work, but nonetheless pledged he would not be deterred from visiting gay bars in Jakarta.

Amnesty International said the police raids were further evidence of an "increasingly hostile environment" for the gay community, fuelled over the past year by "reckless, inflammatory and inaccurate statements made by public officials apparently under the guise of 'defending public morality'."

Vice President Jusuf Kalla last year asked the United Nations Development Programme to stop $8 million of funding of LGBT-related activities in Indonesia, while Defence minister Ryamizard Ryacudu has suggested homosexuality was part of a "proxy war" waged by foreign states.

[Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Bill Tarrant.]

Source: http://in.reuters.com/article/indonesia-lgbt-idINKBN19L00A?rpc=401&

Indonesia: Muslim leader calls for Starbucks boycott over support for

Asia Correspondent - June 30, 2017

Max Walden – A senior figure from Indonesia's second largest Muslim organisation Muhammadiyah has called for citizens to boycott Starbucks over the fact that its CEO Howard Schultz supports marriage equality and the LGBT community.

Anwar Abbas, who also heads up the quasi-governmental Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) responsible for Halal certification in the country, suggested on Thursday that it was time for Indonesia's government to consider revoking the operating licence of Starbucks over the CEO's views on LGBT issues.

Anwar released a statement in which he declared "We as a nation clearly do not want our attitudes and character as a religious and cultured nation broken and messed up by their presence [in Indonesia]," reported Republika.

The comments drew widespread calls on social media to boycott Starbucks, with many rallying against a supposed Rezim Islamophobia or "Islamophobia regime" via the company's pro-equality stance. Sbux, LGBT and #BoikotStarbucks were all trending on Twitter in Indonesia on Friday.

Starbucks Indonesia was targeted by Islamic State-affiliated terrorists in January 2016 who struck one of its stores in central Jakarta, leading to the temporary closure of all outlets in the capital.

Starbucks, along with many US-based multinationals including Microsoft, Google, McDonald's and ironically, Twitter, has publicly supported marriage equality.

The American company entered the Indonesian market in 2002 and as of the third quarter of 2016, Starbucks operated 260 stores across Indonesia, compared to 293 in the Philippines and 226 in Malaysia.

After the US Supreme Court ruled in support of marriage equality in June 2015, Starbucks released a statement which said "Being open, inclusive and forward-thinking is at the core of what Starbucks is about. Starbucks has been a longtime advocate for the LGBT community and marriage equality."

Starbucks Indonesia's marketing manager Yuti Resani said in 2016 that while respecting local culture, "Starbucks appreciates diversity and equity, and we are committed to providing an inclusive and friendly environment for all our Starbucks partners and customers."

Anwar claimed this week that the company CEO's support for marriage equality meant that Indonesia's very identity and state ideology of Pancasila were at stake.

Earlier this month, 36 US lawmakers wrote to Indonesia's ambassador in Washington to urge the government to defend minorities against persecution – particularly those from the LGBT community.

Led by Democratic Party member Sean Patrick Maloney, the statement warned that attacks on minority groups could "negatively impact diplomatic relations and foreign investments in your country, if left unchecked."

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/06/indonesia-muslim-leader-calls-starbucks-boycott-support-lgbt/

Islamic leader calls for Starbucks boycott over CEO's support for LGBT,

Republika - June 29, 2017

Gumanti Awaliyah, Jakarta – Since June 26, 2015, Starbucks CEO Howard Mark Schultz has supported equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people.

When meeting with Starbucks shareholders, Schultz explicitly invited shareholders who do not agree with same-sex marriage to divest their interests in Starbucks.

Responding to this, the chairperson of the economics division of the Islamic mass organisation Muhammadiyah's central leadership board, Anwar Abbas, insisted that it is time for the Indonesian government to consider revoking Starbucks' license to operate in Indonesia.

This is because the business ideology and lifestyle views Schultz is campaigning for are clearly not in accordance or in line with the state ideology of Pancasila.

"We as a nation, clearly do not want our attitudes and character as a religious and cultured nation to be ruined and be in disarray because of their presence [in Indonesia]", he said in a written press statement received by Republika on Thursday June 29.

Abbas also called on the Indonesian people to consider boycotting Starbucks' products because if their attitudes and views do not change, then the nation's very identity will be at stake.

Abbas appealed to the people and the government to take measures and to act for the sake of saving Indonesia's interests as a nation and a state. "We don't want one rotten apple to spoil the whole barrel", he said.

Earlier it was report that Schultz said that people that only support marriage between members of the opposite sex and disregard same-sex marriage are not wanted at the Starbucks coffee shop franchise.

Schultz, who is known to be accommodative to the LGBT community, stated that anyone who rejects same-sex marriage can go elsewhere. This sentiment was also directed at Starbucks shareholders.

Notes

Anwar Abbas is also the secretary general of the ultra-conservative Islamic Ulama Council or MUI and recently proposed the establishment of an MUI "faction" within the House of Representatives which would work to strengthen Islamic values in the nation. He has in the past also riled against the celebration of Valentine's Day claiming it damages the character and morality of the younger generation.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "PP Muhammadiyah Serukan Boikot Starbucks di Indonesia, Ini Alasannya".]

Source: http://www.republika.co.id/berita/nasional/umum/17/06/29/osarle-pp-muhammadiyah-serukan-boikot-starbucks-di-indonesia-ini-alasannya

Corruption & abuse of power

KPK plays down House's budget threat

Jakarta Post - June 30, 2017

Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has dismissed the House of Representatives' threat to scrap its budget allocation in the 2018 state budget over its refusal to present a key witness in the e-ID graft case at an inquiry hearing.

KPK deputy chairman Alexander Marwata said he was confident the House would not be able to cancel the budget allocation for the anti-graft body and the National Police, which have also refused to comply with the House's request.

"It is impossible to do so as the Finance Ministry has allocated the budget ceiling for both institutions," Alexander said on Thursday, as quoted by antaranews.com.

It is possible for the House to sideline the KPK when deliberating its budget allocation but that would not be a problem, Alexander said. "If that happens, we will use the same amount in the 2017 budget. But I hope it doesn't happen."

The House has launched an inquiry into the KPK mainly over its handling of the e-ID graft case. Inquiry committee member Mukhamad Misbakhun has said that the House's Commission III overseeing legal affairs could halt deliberation of the 2018 budgets for the KPK and the National Police.

The statement came after the KPK refused to allow graft suspect and former Hanura Party lawmaker Miryam S. Haryani, a key witness in the multi-trillion e-ID card graft case and who has been held in custody by the anti-graft body, to appear before the inquiry committee for questioning. (kuk/ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/30/KPK-plays-down-houses-budget-threat.html

Police struggle to find Novel's attackers

Jakarta Post - June 27, 2017

Haeril Halim, Jakarta – As pressure mounts, the National Police admitted they were struggling to identify the perpetrators of the April 10 acid attack against top Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan.

The admission comes just one week after police announced they would make a sketch of Novel's attackers based on testimony from eyewitnesses.

National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Syafruddin said police had yet to find any indications of potential suspects despite the nearly three-month-long investigation and the questioning of dozens of witnesses.

Syafuruddin said investigators were facing difficulties in tracing the identities of the attackers.

"No significant progress [on potential suspects in the case has been achieved] as of today. We are facing numerous problems," Syafruddin recently told The Jakarta Post at the Presidential Palace, without specifying.

In a recent interview with TIME magazine, Novel claimed he had received information that "a police general – a high-level police official – was involved" in the attack on him.

Novel made the response in an apparent move to express his disappointment over police's sluggish handling of his case. Novel, himself a former police investigator, is currently undergoing treatment on his left eye in Singapore. (ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/27/police-struggle-to-find-novels-attackers.html

Minister blames 'corrupt mentality' for tenacious regional graft

Jakarta Post - June 27, 2017

Haeril Halim, Jakarta – Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo claims the government has done its best to create a prevention system amid rampant corruption, especially in regional and local administrations.

Tjahjo made the comments in response to the Corruption Eradication Commission's (KPK) recent arrest of Bengkulu Governor Ridwan Mukti for allegedly accepting Rp1.2 billion (US$90,063) in kickbacks related to infrastructure projects in the province.

Ridwan's wife Lily Maddari as well as two businessmen have also been arrested and named suspects. Ridwan, the chairman of the Golkar Party's Bengkulu chapter, is the third Bengkulu governor to be charged with corruption.

Somewhat ironically, Ridwan took the initiative to invite the KPK to supervise and monitor his administration after learning that two of his predecessors had been charged with corruption, only months before the graft busters reportedly arrested him red-handed.

Tjahjo said it was not the bad system in the administration that had driven Ridwan to commit corruption but rather the "corrupt mentality" of public officials, a factor that was "difficult to curb using preventative measures."

"The Bengkulu case is a tough question, as it was known that the KPK was supervising the province. This is related to a corrupt mentality," Tjahjo said recently at the Presidential Palace. He added that he hoped the arrest was a shock therapy for other local leaders.

Tjahjo said that since he was appointed minister in October 2014, he had invited the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) to supervise budgets in local administrations and established a better electronic procurement system as well as strengthen the role of internal supervision. (bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/27/minister-blames-corrupt-mentality-for-tenacious-regional-graft.html

Academics side with anti-graft agency amid House inquiry

Jakarta Globe - June 24, 2017

Jakarta – Hundreds of academics have declared their support for the antigraft agency amid a controversial move by the House of Representatives.

In a press release, Professor Muhadjir Darwin from Gadjah Mada University's faculty of social and political sciences said that the declaration was triggered by Amien Rais's endorsement of the House's application of a right of inquiry into the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), after lawmakers from the National Mandate Party (PAN) – which he founded – were named as suspects in the electronic identity cards (e-KTP) graft case.

Amien, who also helped in establishing KPK, has publicly called it a "rotten" institution. "These two statements have not decreased the public's support for KPK, but only solidified it further, including the support from Indonesian professors," Muhadjir said.

The declaration was signed by 153 professors from universities across the country on Monday (19/06).

Muhadjir said it was high time to eradicate corruption from Indonesia. In the declaration, the academics called on party leaders and members of the House to abandon the inquiry, deeming it legally unsound.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/academics-side-antigraft-agency-amid-house-inquiry/

Terrorism & religious extremism

Two police officers attacked at mosque

Jakarta Post - June 30, 2017

Jakarta – An unknown assailant reportedly attacked two police officers at a mosque near the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta on Friday evening.

"An attack on two police officers occurred tonight," the National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Martinus Sitompul told reporters on Friday. The victims have been identified as Adj. Comr. Dede Suhatmi and First Brig. M. Syaiful Bakhtiar.

According to the police, the two police officers were completing their prayers at Falatehan Mosque, across from the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta, when the assailant suddenly stabbed the officers using a bayonet.

The suspect stabbed the officers after shouting, "Thogut!" Thogut is an Arabic word for those who worship anything other than God.

From the mosque, the suspect ran to the nearby Blok M bus station. When another police officer fired a warning shot, the assailant turned around and ran toward the officer and tried, but failed to stab him while shouting, "Allahu akbar!" He was reportedly shot dead.

The wounded officers were treated at the nearby Central Pertamina Hospital. (kuk/ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/30/two-police-officers-attacked-at-mosque-.html

Police need 'pretrial authority' to dig deeper on suspected terrorists:

Jakarta Globe - June 28, 2017

Jakarta – Chairman of Jakarta-based human rights group Setara Institute, Hendardi, said the government needs to step up its efforts to combat terrorism, including by giving police the authority to conduct more preventive measures, following another suspected terrorist attack in Medan, North Sumatra, that killed a police officer.

"The police need to be given pretrial authority to be able to prevent terrorist attacks. That could be included in the revisions to the current anti-terrorism law," Hendardi said, as quoted by Suara Pembaruan.

On Sunday, a police officer in Medan was stabbed at a police station and later died of his wounds. The attack was carried out allegedly by two Islamic State supporters, one of whom was shot dead by the police while trying to escape, and the other wounded and then arrested.

The surviving suspect, identified as Syawaluddin, had reportedly spent six months living in Syria in 2013.

According to Hendardi, pretrial authority will give police the ability to investigate persons suspected of terrorism because of their past involvement in military training or war.

Hendardi said some terrorist attacks in Indonesia were conducted by militants who may have had previous involvement in terrorism.

"However, the police have limited authority to conduct preventive measures. If there's not enough evidence, the person [being suspected] cannot be dealt with," the Setara chairman said.

Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace is an organization that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights.

To avoid possible human rights violations if a pretrial authority is given to the police, Hendardi said Indonesia's anti-terrorism laws should be put under its criminal justice regime. In that way, abusive practices in preventing terrorism can be investigated and dealt with by the law.

The Indonesian government had started revising the country's anti-terrorism law in January last year after a deadly attack in Jakarta's central business district killed eight people. Since the assault, a series of other attacks had followed – targeting mainly policemen – including a suicide bomb attack at the Kampung Melayu bus station in East Jakarta last month.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/police-need-pretrial-authority-dig-deeper-suspected-terrorists-rights-group/

152 sent home after undergoing deradicalization program

Jakarta Post - June 28, 2017

Haeril Halim, Jakarta – The Bambu Apus shelter in East Jakarta, which is run by the Social Affairs Ministry, has sent 152 Indonesians back to their hometown across Indonesia.

They had been deported from Turkey between January and June this year for allegedly entering or trying to enter Syria to join the terrorist group Islamic State (IS).

Bambu Apus shelter head Sulistya Ariadhi said the shelter was still housing people deported from Turkey in the past weeks, dozens of whom were still undergoing a month-long deradicalization program.

"In total, 152 people have been sent home. Some are still at the shelter, mostly people who arrived before Idul Fitri," Sulistya told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Fears are growing that the returnees could carry out attacks after returning to their hometowns. Police recently revealed that one of the two suspects of a fatal stabbing of a policeman at the North Sumatra Police headquarters on Sunday had travelled to the war-ravaged country in 2013.

Sawaluddin Pakpahan stayed in Syria for six months before returning to Indonesia, a year before IS announced the establishment of its now-shrinking caliphate.

Four years later, Sawaluddin allegedly committed the attack in Medan, raising concern about the effectiveness of the government's monitoring of people returning home from war-torn countries, such as Syria. (bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/28/152-sent-home-after-undergoing-deradicalization-program.html

Interfaith forum condemns terror attack in North Sumatra

Jakarta Post - June 27, 2017

Haeril Halim and Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – The Interfaith Harmony Forum (FKUB) in Medan, North Sumatra, on Tuesday strongly condemned the recent Islamic State (IS) group-linked knife attack at a security checkpoint at the headquarters of the North Sumatra Police that resulted in the death of a police officer.

Forum chairman Palit Muda Harahap described the attack as an act of terror that should not be connected to any particular religion and was clearly aimed at disturbing peace in society.

"We should fight terror acts together. We call on the police to bring the perpetrators to justice," said Palit before leaders of various faiths in Medan on Tuesday.

Palit called on members of the public to be aware of the situation in their neighborhood and swiftly report any suspicious activity to the police.

In total, four police officers were on guard when the attack happened on Sunday. Two of the officers were on patrol, one was outside the checkpoint and one stayed inside to rest.

Two alleged Islamic State (IS) militants stabbed and killed Adj. First Insp. Martua Singalinging while he was taking a rest inside the checkpoint. One of the officers, Brig. E. Ginting, immediately alerted other checkpoints where some Mobile Brigade unit members were stationed.

Brimob officers later shot the IS supporters, killing one, identified as AR, and putting the other, identified as SP, in the hospital in a critical condition. (ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/27/interfaith-forum-condemns-terror-attack-in-north-sumatra.html

House must quickly revise antiterrorism laws, says PAN lawmaker

Jakarta Globe - June 27, 2017

Jakarta – Lawmaker Mulfachri Harahap said on Tuesday (27/06) the attack that killed a police officer in Medan, North Sumatera, should speed up the legislature's revisions of Indonesia's antiterrorism laws.

"The incident should push [the House of Representative] to finalize the discussions on the country's antiterrorism laws as quickly as possible. It is a priority for the House," the National Mandate Party (PAN) deputy chairman said, as quoted by Suara Pembaruan.

On Sunday, a police officer was stabbed and succumbed to his injuries. The attack was carried out by two alleged Islamic State supporters, one of whom was shot dead by the police while trying to escape, and the other one was wounded and arrested.

The surviving suspect, identified as Syawaluddin, had reportedly spent six months in Syria, in 2013. Police found logos of the Islamic State militant group at his home, and hundreds of books containing the group's propaganda targeting children.

According to Mulfachri, members of the House are still trying to overcome their differences on several issues, including military involvement in antiterrorism operations.

On Sunday, House Speaker Setya Novanto said the National Police and the Army should work together to fight terrorism.

"Together we must eradicate this vicious crime. Citizens must also be vigilant," he said, adding the police must, however, be careful in their operations, so as not to arrest anyone unjustly.

The revisions of the law started in January last year, after a deadly attack in Jakarta's central business district, which killed eight people, including the perpetrators, and wounded dozens of civilians. Since the assault, a series of other attacks followed – targeting mainly policemen – including the Kampung Melayu bus station suicide bombing in East Jakarta last month.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/house-must-quickly-revise-antiterrorism-laws-says-pan-lawmaker/

Medan Police attackers linked to IS: Police

Jakarta Post - June 26, 2017

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – The North Sumatra Police have confirmed that the two perpetrators of Sunday's attack on a checkpoint post at the North Sumatra Police headquarters in Medan were affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) terrorist movement.

North Sumatra Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Rina Sari Ginting said that investigators had identified the perpetrators and are continuing their probe into the case. "Our investigation has indicated that the perpetrators had IS links," she said.

National Police chief Tito Karnavian has also previously said that the two perpetrators were connected with the IS-linked terrorist group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).

At 3 a.m. on Sunday, two perpetrators snuck into the Checkpoint 3 post and stabbed to death a resting police officer and wounded another. Adj. First Insp. Martua Sigalingging died from stab wounds to right cheek, chin, upper neck and left chest.

Rina said that one of the assailants, identified as Sawaluddin Pakpahan, died after being shot by mobile brigade (Brimob) officers, while his accomplice, named Hardi, was arrested alive. She added that both attackers were Medan citizens. (ecn/bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/26/medan-police-attackers-linked-to-is-police.html

Attack on North Sumatra Police headquarters kills one officer

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2017

Jakarta – Two men attacked police on guard at a security checkpoint at the North Sumatra Police headquarters early Sunday morning, just before Idul Fitri, leaving one officer dead.

The perpetrators stabbed and killed Adj. First Insp. Martua Singalinging while he was taking a rest inside the checkpoint.

"The two perpetrators climbed the fence and then attacked a police officer at 3 a.m. The officer was taking a rest inside Checkpoint 3 located at the exit of the North Sumatra Police headquarters," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

In total, there were four officers on guard when the attack happened. Two of the officers were doing a patrol, one stayed outside the checkpoint and another one stayed inside for a rest, Setyo added.

One of the officers, Brig. E. Ginting immediately alerted other checkpoints where some Mobile Brigade (Brimob) unit members were stationed.

However, despite a warning shot fired by a Brimob member, the perpetrators did not stop attacking the officers and then burning a checkpoint while shouting "Takbir!" (Praise to Allah!)

The Brimob officers later shot them, killing one while putting the other in hospital in critical condition.

The police are still investigating whether the two were linked to three terrorism suspects who were arrested for planning to attack a police station in Medan earlier this month.

"We presumed that they are the followers of Bahrun Naim, who suggests carrying out attacks using anything people have – bombs, firearms, or knives," Setyo said. (ecn/ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/25/attack-on-north-sumatra-police-headquarters-kills-one-officer.html

Religious intolerance & vigilantism

Minister, MUI call for peaceful Idul Fitri sermons

Jakarta Post - June 24, 2017

Jakarta – Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saefuddin has asked Muslim leaders for reflective sermons during Idul Fitri services on Sunday morning.

Lukman said Muslim leaders should deliver sermons that noted the essential meaning of Idul Fitri, so that the people would reflect on their lives.

"The sermons shall invite Muslims to train and evaluate themselves; therefore, this Syawal month [that begins with Idul Fitri] will be a new beginning for them," he told reporters following the isbat (confirmation) meeting in Jakarta on Saturday.

Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Ma'ruf Amin also called on Muslim leaders to have a peaceful heart, so that they could spread values of kindness through their sermons.

"If Muslim leaders still hide anger or envy, they should not become preachers, because their feelings can disturb the sermons," he said. (ecn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/24/minister-mui-call-for-peaceful-idul-fitri-sermons.html

Freedom of religion & worship

Bandung students visit different houses of worship to learn about

Jakarta Post - June 26, 2017

Arya Dipa, Bandung – "That we should also make friends with those who share other religious beliefs."

The statement was made by an elementary school student named Felix, who had just visited five different houses of worship in Bandung with 24 other students from different schools under the guidance of the Bhinneka community.

The program was created by the group to answer current concerns over the rise of religious conflicts and sectarian politics that might jeopardize the country's future.

Another participant, 12-year-old Alexander Jeremy Santoso, expressed his enthusiasm over the chance to visit various houses of worship, describing a Hindu temple in the tour as "unique."

"This was also my first chance to enter a mosque. But the best part [of the tour] was the cathedral because we saw so many interesting symbols with stories behind them," he recalled.

During the program, the group of students was invited to visit five different houses of worship, namely the Al Ukhuwah Mosque, Wira Satya Temple, Vimala Dharma Monastery, Cibunut Church and St. Peter Cathedral.

They were divided into smaller groups comprising various religious beliefs and were encouraged to interact and get to know one another.

Commenting on the trip, Ali Abdullah, one of the community's activists, confirmed that the program was the direct result of members' concerns over the tendency of Indonesians nowadays to harbor a negative impression toward people from different backgrounds, especially religious beliefs.

"We need to tear down the mental barriers, so people could see each other without prejudices. We did this by getting [the students] to experience by themselves the idea of making new friends with different religious identities," he said.

The program has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response as hundreds of school children have enrolled to gain the same experience.

"We are going to organize other trips as well. They will get their turn," Ali assured. However, he also acknowledged that there is still a long road ahead, as those children would still need many other forms of education to solidify their growth as tolerant human beings and humanists.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/26/bandung-students-visit-different-houses-of-worship-to-learn-about-pluralism-tolerance.html

Jakarta Cathedral cancels three morning masses for Idul Fitri prayer

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta Cathedral canceled three morning masses to allow Muslims to perform Ied prayer at the Istiqlal Mosque, which is located just across the street.

The cathedral usually allocates its main yard as parking lot for those who pray at Istiqlal during Idul Fitri every year.

However, as this year's celebration falls on a Sunday, the church decided to cancel three Sunday morning masses at 6 a.m., 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. to provide the parking spaces to Muslims.

"We understood that Muslims had to perform the prayer at the same time, whereas we can celebrate the mass several times on Sunday," Jakarta Cathedral parish head Rudi Hartoko said on Sunday.

"[This is] living side by side in harmony and in sincerity as fellow Indonesians, respecting each other and enjoying this holy day."

Following the morning cancellation, the Cathedral listed its Sunday masses for June 25 at 10 a.m., 12 noon, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Cathedral congregation member Anggakusuma, 28, said he welcomed the decision even though he and his sister planned to attend the morning mass. The two left Bekasi, West Java, at 7 a.m. to join the 9 a.m. mass.

"I hope we can maintain this kind of religious tolerance. We can't create harmony between religions if we refrain from helping others from different religions to exercise their faiths." Anggakusuma said. (hol/tas)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/25/jakarta-cathedral-cancels-three-morning-masses-for-idul-fitri-prayer.html

Ahmadiyah mosque in Depok vandalized ahead of Idul Fitri

Jakarta Post - June 24, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Ahmadiyah mosque in Sawangan, Depok, became the target of vandalism a day before Idul Fitri, as a group of people reportedly threw eggs and paint at the mosque prior to dawn on Saturday.

Civil Freedom Defenders Team, the lawyer team of Depok Ahmadiyah congregation, said that based on witness testimony, the incident occurred around 12.30 a.m.

The vandals, who used motorcycles, threw eggs and paint at the mosque's yard and front and back gates. "They also threw eggs at the mosque's CCTV cameras so their actions would not be recorded," Fatiatulo Lazira, a lawyer with the team, said. They also placed a banner expressing animosity toward Ahmadiyah near the mosque.

The Depok chapter of Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) is set to report the incident to the police on Saturday afternoon.

Fatiatulo added that the lawyers would assist the Ahmadis in requesting the police ensure their safety during the Idul Fitri prayer to be held in the mosque's yard on Sunday morning.

The mosque has been sealed off by the Depok administration seven times, with the most recent occurring on June 4.

Previously, the mosque was sealed off on March 19, 2011; March 13, 2013; Oct. 2, 2014; Jan. 7, 2015, Jan. 14, 2015 and Feb. 23. The administration's actions occurred amid the congregations continued fight for their rights.

The Ahmadis have long been persecuted in the country, with the government issuing a joint ministerial decree banning their activities in 2008.

The decree referred to 2005 Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) fatwa declaring the teachings of Ahmadiyah heretical.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/24/ahmadiyah-mosque-in-depok-vandalized-ahead-of-idul-fitri.html

Indonesia's Ahmadiyah push back against discriminatory laws

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - June 23, 2017

Andreas Harsono – Indonesia's besieged Ahmadiyah religious community is fighting back.

Earlier this week, representatives of the religious minority from Manislor district in West Java's Kuningan regency filed a formal complaint against a local government requirement that they renounce their faith to obtain national identification cards, critical to accessing a range of government services. They said lack of IDs meant Ahmadiyah community members were not able to register marriages or get treatment at a local hospital. An ombudsman office representative has criticized the ID requirement as "maladministration."

The Ahmadiyah community in Manislor are victims of routine bureaucratic discrimination. Indonesia's 1965 blasphemy law permits only six officially protected religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. All Indonesian citizens must obtain a national ID card at age 17 and they are essential to apply for official documents including birth, marriage, and death certificates. Indonesian law requires ID cards to state the holder's religion. That requirement bars Ahmadiyah and other officially unrecognized religious minorities from receiving national ID cards.

Indonesia's Ahmadiyah have been under threat since 2008 when the government of then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a decree ordering the Ahmadiyah community to "stop spreading interpretations and activities that deviate from the principal teachings of Islam." Following the decree, militant Islamists launched several violent attacks against Ahmadiyah including an attack in Cikeusik in February 2011 that killed three Ahmadiyah men.

During Yudhoyono's decade in power, militant Islamists with the complicity of local police and government officials forced the closure of more than 30 Ahmadiyah mosques, while other religious minorities, including the Shia and some Christian groups, were also targets of harassment, intimidation, and violence.

The frequency and severity of violent attacks on religious minorities have decreased since President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo took office in 2014, and he has pledged to protect religious minorities and fight religious intolerance. But Kandali Lubis, an Ahmadiyah spokesman, told Human Rights Watch that at least seven Ahmadiyah mosques remained closed in Indonesia under the 2008 anti-Ahmadiyah decree. They include an Ahmadiyah mosque in Depok, West Java that the local government sealed on the basis of "protecting" the Ahmadis from attack by militant Islamists.

Until Jokowi abolishes regulations that discriminate against the country's religious minorities, the Ombudsman of the Republic of Indonesia can expect more demands from aggrieved communities such as the Ahmadiyah of Manislor village that the government respect, rather than deny their rights.

[Andreas Harsono is Human Rights Watch's Indonesia Researcher.]

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/23/indonesias-ahmadiyah-push-back-against-discriminatory-laws

Unseal our mosque for Idul Fitri: Ahmadiyah followers

Jakarta Post - June 23, 2017

Jakarta – Followers of Ahmadiyah in Depok, West Java, say they are hoping the local administration will unseal their mosque so that they can celebrate Idul Fitri there on Sunday.

The Depok administration sealed the Al-Hidayah Mosque earlier this month, forcing around 500 Ahmadiyah followers to pray in the mosque's backyard ever since.

"If the city administration does not unseal the mosque, then it will be our second time celebrating Idul Fitri in such a condition, as it was also sealed in 2015," Al-Hidayah mosque preacher Farid Mahmud Ahmad told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Ahmadiyah followers have long been persecuted in the country, with the government issuing a joint ministerial decree banning their activities in 2008. The decree was issued based on a 2005 Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) fatwa declaring the teachings of Ahmadiyah heretical.

The West Java administration and the Depok administration have also issued their own regulations banning Ahmadiyah activities, saying they have the obligation to prevent religious conflicts.

Farid said his team had made some preparations to welcome the celebration, including ordering his members to clean up and decorate the mosque's backyard as they might perform the Eid prayer there. (yon/ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/23/unseal-our-mosque-for-idul-fitri-ahmadiyah-followers.html

Islam & religion

Jokowi donates staple food packages during hometown visit

Jakarta Post - June 27, 2017

Ganug Nugroho Adi, Surakarta, Central Java – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo enjoyed the second day of the Idul Fitri holidays in his hometown of Surakarta by donating 4,000 staple food packages to needy residents.

The charity distribution event was held in the front yard of the president's family-owned meeting hall Graha Saba Buana.

Thousands of residents queued up for at least an hour just to make sure that they would get the packages. Groups of security officers maintained order during the event.

The staple food packages consisted of a five-kilogram pack of rice, a bottle of cooking oil, a kilogram of white sugar and a pack of tea bags.

Jokowi, who was also present at the scene, oversaw the distribution while chatting with the residents. The President asked the organizers to speed up the event when he saw cloudy skies gather above the city.

The division head of press, documentation and information with the State Secretariat, Erlin Suastini, said the actual number of needy residents recommended to the President by the local authorities was 3,000. (dic)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/27/jokowi-donates-staple-food-packages-during-hometown-visit.html

As maids enjoy 'mudik,' Greater Jakarta families stay at hotels

Jakarta Post - June 26, 2017

Agnes Anya and Farida Susanty, Jakarta – Idul Fitri is also a moment when urban families are reminded about the meritorious help of housemaids, as their absence during the long holiday may cost their employers millions of rupiah.

Having a son in kindergarten, a toddler and with a third child on the way, 33-year-old employee Maria Yulita and husband Tito Dipokusumo had to rack their brains to ensure all their daily needs were well-fulfilled given that, like most people in Greater Jakarta, their maid had temporarily left the metropolitan city to celebrate the biggest Islam's holiday in her hometown.

Both Maria and Tito agreed that it would be best to spend the holiday at some hotels after celebrating Idul Fitri, which fell on Sunday, at their parents' house.

"As our maid went back to her hometown and I am pregnant, we feel overwhelmed having to take care of our house, while at the same time looking after the children and preparing for Idul Fitri," said Maria, who lives in Ciputat, South Tangerang. "Hence, we decided to stay at hotels after the second day of Idul Fitri [on Monday]."

Maria has booked a room for her family at a hotel in Ancol, North Jakarta, for two days and at another hotel in Bogor, West Java, for another two days. "Whenever I book a hotel, I not only choose the well-rated ones, but I also check whether it has a swimming pool and if its rooms are big enough for four of us," she explained.

The stay, she further said, will also be a good family experience, in which she and Tito can spend most of their time with their children, while also pampering themselves with the hotels' facilities. They are spending Rp 2.8 million (US$210) for the hotel costs alone.

Meanwhile, Marisi Dameria Hutajulu annually books a hotel for her and her family during Idul Fitri in hopes that they can enjoy their holiday together in a convenient environment.

"During Idul Fitri eve, it is always noisy at my neighborhood – not because of takbir [chanting to praise to Allah], but because children light up firecrackers all night long," said the 53-year old mother of four living in Duren Sawit, East Jakarta.

However, considering that such an event only happens once a year to ring in the religious day, Dameria and her family, who do not celebrate Idul Fitri, choose not to be bothered by the issue.

Instead, every year they prefer to stay in a hotel for three days with their extended family from Idul Fitri eve onward.

This year, she said, she actually planned to stay with 14 family members at a hotel in Gunung Sahari, Central Jakarta, but it was canceled due to a family issue.

Mudik, the phenomenon in which Muslims, including housemaids, go back to their hometowns has apparently benefitted hotels in Greater Jakarta, including The Dharmawangsa Jakarta, South Jakarta.

"Usually, during Idul Fitri, our guests are from Jakarta. [...] The maids' homebound exodus brings [financial] blessing [to the hotel]," conceded the hotel's spokeswoman Lira Dachlan.

The hotel even provides special offers to lure prospective families, such as a special room program in which guests get a 15 percent discount on laundry services, spa facilities and food and beverages.

Room rates start from Rp 2.5 million. The hotel also provides shuttle buses from and to the hotel and nearby shopping malls.

Similarly, Jayakarta Hotels and Resorts – particularly those in Jakarta – welcome more personal guests than groups during Idul Fitri, said its president director, Aswin Dhanu.

"Forty-five percent of guests coming to our hotels [in Jakarta] are those temporarily left by their maids," he said, adding that in the same period, occupancy rate of the company's chains in Yogyakarta, Bali and Bandung in West Java reach 90 percent.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/26/as-maids-enjoy-mudik-greater-jakarta-families-stay-at-hotels.html

Jokowi praised for meeting with opposition Muslim organization during

Jakarta Post - June 26, 2017

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was lauded for his decision to meet leaders of the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI), known for its stance against the administration's policy on national unity, at the State Palace in Jakarta on Monday.

Accompanied by Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, and State Secretary Pratikno, Jokowi met a GNPF-MUI delegation led by Bachtiar Nasir.

Chairman of the President's Volunteer Forum (Bara JP) Sihol Manullang praised Jokowi for his willingness to meet the Muslim organization, calling the move a call for the people to move on.

"For the sake of the nation, [President] Jokowi is willing to meet, talk and cooperate with anyone," Sihol told kompas.com.

It is reported that the GNPF-MUI met the President in hopes of easing tensions and make way for a smoother avenue of communication with the administration.

The organization was the mastermind of a string of mass rallies protesting the leadership of former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, using his backgrounds as a Christian of Chinese descent as one of its objections.

Meanwhile, the government has campaigned for unity despite the nation's diverse races and religions.

Sihol said he hoped the meeting could help the GNPF-MUI understand the president's way of thinking. "Hopefully, Jokowi can also gain useful suggestions from the group," he added. (kuk/ika)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/26/jokowi-praised-for-meeting-with-opposition-muslim-organization-during-idul-fitri.html

A fatwa against sexual violence: the story of a historic congress of

Open Democracy - June 26, 2017

Mirjam K nkler and Eva Nisa – Can women interpret Islamic law? Scholars who think so recently gathered in Indonesia, where fatwas were also issued against child marriage and environmental degradation.

Can women interpret Islamic law? This question would have been a 'no-brainer' to a Muslim from Damascus in the 12th century, when women served as renowned teachers of the Islamic tradition, and the opinions of women jurists on questions of Islamic law carried weight comparable to that of male jurists.

Yet, if one asks a Muslim today: have you ever asked a woman for an interpretation of Islamic law?, the answer from Dakar to Dhaka, from Sarajevo to Cape Town, from Jakarta to Ann Arbor will usually be "no".

Women are not asked to interpret Islamic law, and few expect them to do so. Very often, this is because women are not sufficiently trained for this work. If they are, they tend to be consulted only on so-called 'women's issues' such as child rearing, a wife's duties towards her husband and towards others in the family, household organisation, and hygiene.

In recent years, however, Muslims in different parts of the world have started to address gender imbalances in juristic expertise. In India, Turkey and Morocco, programs have been set up to train women as muftis (jurists who can issue fatwas or expert legal opinions). Judicial bureaucracies in Malaysia and the Palestinian Authority have begun to hire female judges in their sharia courts.

Recently, Indonesian organisations also joined forces to convene the Muslim world's first congress of ulama perempuan: women Islamic scholars.

This historic event, held in late April in Cirebon, West Java, was nothing short of a breakthrough in terms of re-establishing the long-lost juristic authority of women to produce Islamic legal recommendations and rulings. It concluded with the issuance of three historic fatwas – against sexual violence, child marriage, and environmental degradation exacerbating gender inequality.

Between us, we have studied Islamic authority and gender for decades. We interviewed several of the women scholars, as well as some of the male attendees, involved in the event to learn more about it and the deliberations process. We have also been able to analyse some of the copious explanatory material issued by the congress.

It was nothing short of a breakthrough in terms of re-establishing women's juristic authority

Women's juristic authority was squarely on the agenda. Such authority can manifest itself in Islam in several ways including by leading prayer, reciting the Qur'an, delivering a sermon, transmitting a hadith (a saying of the prophet). The pinnacle of this authority is the ability to interpret Islamic sources to make recommendations of behaviour in the here and now.

In most contemporary Muslim societies, this is exercised in two main ways. The first is by issuing fatwas. These are legal recommendations based typically on interpretations of the Qur'an and hadith. (Different sects in Islam regard different hadiths as authentic, and therefore the specific source material differs from sect to sect.)

A person trained to issue a fatwa is called a mufti, with the feminine form in Arabic muftiya. Fatwas are only recommendations and they are not binding. But they can carry great weight. In some countries, policy makers take fatwas of leading Islamic authorities into account when, for example, considering reforms to family law, inheritance, Islamic finance or food and medicines regulations.

The second way this authority is exercised is by serving as a judge in an Islamic court. This requires deep engagement and expertise interpreting religious sources, and the needed erudition and experience can take decades of study and training to acquire.

In Indonesia, for instance, family courts for the Muslim majority apply Islamic law (non-Muslims are subject to civil family law). Since the 1950s, judges for these courts have been trained in the country's Islamic state institutes.

Although female judges of Islamic law were unheard of at the time – and remain a minority – admission to these institutes was not restricted to men. And so women also completed this advanced training and, from the 1960s, some have been appointed judges in Indonesia's Islamic courts.

In 1970, Sudan also appointed women as judges in courts applying what's known as "non-codified" Islamic law (under which judges must interpret original sources, as there is no codified text issued by the state, like a statute or book of law).

However, it would take another 35 years before women would be appointed to Islamic courts in other countries. Malaysia did so in 2005, the Palestinian Authority in 2009, and Israel just a few months ago appointed the first woman judge to its Islamic courts.

The congress in Indonesia aimed to raise awareness about these developments and strengthen local initiatives to promote women's juristic authority in Islam. Importantly, it showed that it's not only women who stand behind this struggle. Male scholars, while a minority, were also among the speakers and attendees.

It's not only women who stand behind this struggle. Male scholars were also at the congress. At the congress's core was "musyawarah keagamaan" (religious deliberation) to formulate fatwas. In many Muslim countries fatwas are associated with individual Islamic leaders, but Indonesia has a long tradition of fatwas issued by Islamic institutions' 'fatwa commissions.'

The women ulama at the congress issued three fatwas. This in itself was historic as fatwa issuing has long been monopolised by male clerics. (There are, for example, only seven women ulama out of 67 members of the fatwa commission of Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) – a prominent Islamic organisation, set up by the government in the 1970s).

The first fatwa issued focused on sexual violence. It emphasises that such violence including within marriage (marital rape) is forbidden under Islamic law (haram). It also distinguishes zina (adultery and fornication) from rape. It emphasises that victims must receive psychological, physical and social support – not punishment.

The second fatwa concerns child marriage. It says these practices bring harm (mudarat) to society. The ulama's accompanying commentary calls for raising the Indonesian legal marriage age for girls from 16 to 18 years. Importantly, as most child marriages are not registered with the state in the first place, the fatwa also tells ordinary Muslims and imams that it is obligatory (wajib) to prevent them.

The third fatwa links environmental destruction and social inequality. It describes environmental degradation for economic gain as haram and says it has in recent decades in Indonesia exacerbated economic disparity with women the most affected. It notes how drought, for example, adds to the burdens of rural women typically responsible for preparing food and fetching water.

Participants told us that deliberations on this fatwa also touched on issues of land and forest governance, and how deforestation affects women in particular. It demanded that the Indonesian government should impose strict punishments on perpetrators of environmental destruction. Among other things, the discussion noted illegal deforestation campaigns in Indonesia to make space for vast palm oil plantations.

Like the best judges in any society, the women ulama are also experts in diverse contemporary issues.

The women ulama based their religious interpretations on four sources: the verses of the Qur'an, hadith, aqwal 'ulama (views of religious scholars), and the Indonesian constitution. They used a methodology called "unrestricted reasoning" (istidlal), with stated aims to maximise maslaha (public interest) and reduce mudarat (harm) to arrive at rulings.

The three fatwas show that women ulama also have the ability and the expertise in Islamic sources to formulate these recommendations. They also show that the ulama perempuan do not restrict themselves to the Qur'an, hadith, other classical Islamic texts, and talking about the past. Like the best judges in any society, they are also experts in diverse contemporary issues.

Indeed, Nur Rofi'ah, an expert in Qur'anic and gender studies who took part in the congress, told us that it produced more than fatwas, which usually consist of only a few pages of argumentation. The congress considered a larger range of sources during its deliberations, including evidence of conditions and challenges faced by women. It also produced far longer and more in-depth textual explanations.

Some Indonesian gender rights activists, and Indonesian fatwa committees themselves, use the term sikap keagamaan (religious views) for recommendations that come out of this more complex deliberation process and outcome.

But whether one calls these fatwas or sikap keagamaan, their significance was clear: This congress was a historic step towards reestablishing the long-lost juristic authority of women to produce Islamic legal recommendations and rulings.

Source: https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mirjam-k-nkler-eva-nisa/fatwa-sexual-violence-women-Islamic-scholars

GNPF-MUI seeks to ease tension with President during Idul Fitri meet

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2017

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – A delegation from the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI) met with President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Sunday with the hope of easing tension and smoothing communication with the administration.

President Jokowi was accompanied by Coordinating Political, Security, and Legal Affairs Minister Wiranto, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, and State Secretary Pratikno in the meeting with the delegation, which comprised seven people and was led by Bachtiar Nasir.

"Bachtiar Nasir and the GNPF-MUI aspire to secure communication access to the President," Pratikno said.

Commenting on the visit, Bachtiar Nasir confirmed that the visit intended to use the moment of Idul Fitri to break the ice with the Jokowi.

"The president has been very open and welcoming to our aspirations. We expect smoother communication in the future. This is a great moment and had a totally different tone to the situation we experienced during the mass rallies," he said.

Bactiar, who is currently under police investigation in relation to an alleged misappropriation of donation funds, added that technical details of how the GNPF-MUI would like to interact with the government had not been discussed in the meeting.

The GNPF-MUI orchestrated a string of mass rallies to protest then DKI Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama during his blasphemy trial. The group's activities slowed down after some its key figures, such as Bachtiar and Rizieq Shihab, became the target of police investigations. (dic)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/25/gnpf-mui-seeks-to-ease-tension-with-president-during-idul-fitri-meet.html

Congregation walkout after Idul Fitri sermon turns into tirade against

Viva News - June 25, 2017

Dedy Priatmojo, Daru Waskita (Yogyakarta) – There was an unusual sight during the 1438th Idul Fitri prayers at the Wonosari Square in the Gunungkidul regency of Yogyakarta province, Central Java, on the morning of Sunday June 25. The congregation dispersed in the middle of a sermon by mosque preacher Ikhsan Nuriansyah Bajuri.

Right from the start of the sermon, Ikhsan took up the blasphemy case involving former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama or Ahok. The congregation, who had been sitting and listening to the sermon, stood up in unison, folded up their prayer mats and left the grounds.

Wonosari City Islamic Holiday Committee (PHPI) chairperson Iskanto confirmed what happened. According to Iskanto, the sermon was considered too vulgar, contained too many accusations against other parties and made an issue of the Ahok blasphemy case. "The issues raised may have been factual but for general consumption it was inappropriate", he said.

Iskanto expressed his regret over the incident saying a preacher should be able to gauge what is appropriate to be conveyed to a congregation. He hopes that in the future sermons will contain things that are refreshing and cheerful.

Right from the start of the sermon, Ikhsan immediately took up the blasphemy case that ensnared Ahok. "Ahok is a blasphemer", he said in front of the thousand or so strong congregation.

He then said that a blasphemer should not be defended or helped, let along assisted by the state, including the police. He said he fully supports the [two-year] sentence against Ahok and hopes that it will create a deterrent effect so that no one else will commit blasphemy.

In the end, the traditional Ikrar Halal Bihalal exchange of greetings and forgiveness that had been prepared following Idul Fitri prayers was only attended by a few people because most had already left.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Khatib Singgung Kasus Penodaan Agama, Jemaah Salat Ied Bubar".]

Source: http://m.viva.co.id/berita/nasional/929547-khatib-singgung-kasus-penodaan-agama-jemaah-salat-ied-bubar

State Palace's Idul Fitri gathering reflects openness: British

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2017

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – British Ambassador to Indonesia Moazzam Malik has praised the Idul Fitri gathering at the State Palace held by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla, saying that it showed "the spirit of openness."

"I came and joined the celebration at the palace. It is a lovely spirit of openness at the end of the bulan puasa [fasting month]," Malik said at the State Palace on Sunday.

Like Jokowi, Malik also attended the Ied prayer at the Istiqlal Mosque in the morning and listened to the sermon delivered by prominent cleric Quraish Shihab.

"It [the sermon] was a very well-judged, very well-taught and a very great message for our time," he said, adding that sermon embraced the message for peace.

It was Jokowi's first Idul Fitri celebration and open house at the State Palace since taking office in 2014. He previously spent Idul Fitri in Aceh in 2015 and West Sumatra in 2016. (tas)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/25/state-palaces-idul-fitri-gathering-reflects-openness-british-ambassador.html

In Malang, church allows Muslims to use lawn for Idul Fitri prayers

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2017

Aman Rochman, Malang – As a sign of respect for Muslims attending Idul Fitri morning mass prayers, two churches in Malang, East Java, decided to reschedule their morning services on Sunday.

The two churches – GPIB Immanuel and Kayutangan Hati Kudus Yesus – are located near the Malang Grand Mosque, where thousands of Muslims flocked on Sunday morning for Idul Fitri prayers. This year, the Idul Fitri mass prayer coincided with both Catholic and Protestant morning services.

GPIB Immanuel delayed its 8 a.m. Sunday morning service by 30 minutes, while the Kayutangan Hati Kudus Yesus church rescheduled their two morning masses at 6 a.m. and at 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

"The point is that we are glad to help [Muslims] and to maintain the religious tolerance we already enjoy," GBIP priest Richard Agung Sutjahjono said on Sunday.

Kayutangan Hati Kudus Yesus church also allowed the Muslim devotees to use their front yard for the Idul Fitri prayers. "I was curious. I wanted to personally see the religious tolerance in Malang," said Dewi, one of the Muslims praying in the area.

Dewi, who requested to be referred to by her nickname, came from Bandung, West Java, to celebrate Idul Fitri with her parents-in-law. (ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/25/in-malang-church-allows-muslims-to-use-lawn-for-idul-fitri-prayers.html

Political, polygamy messages take center stage in some Idul Fitri

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2017

Jakarta – While patriotism and nationalistic values were the main topics of the Idul Fitri sermon at Jakarta's Istiqlal mosque, Southeast Asia's largest Islamic house of worship, some regional heads across the archipelago used the moment of Idul Fitri to convey a series of rather unusual messages, ranging from their political ambitions to the bane of polygamy.

Muslims at Kudus Grand Mosque in Central Java had just finished their Idul Fitri prayer when local regent Musthofa seized the chance to convey his ambition to run for Central Java governor in the election next year.

"I seek your blessing here because I want to run for Central Java governor in the 2018 election," said Musthofa after delivering an Idul Fitri sermon on pluralism at the mosque, as quoted by tribunnews.com.

Musthofa is currently serving his second consecutive term in office, which is due to end next year.

Meanwhile, Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil, a social media aficionado, told Idul Fitri masses gathering at the Gelora Bandung Lautan Api stadium in the city that it was better for married men in Bandung to not commit polygamy.

Ridwan, a 2018 West Java gubernatorial election hopeful, said married men should not practice polygamy in order to give thousands of unmarried men in the city a chance to find their future wives.

"I call on married men here to not commit polygamy. Please have pity for those men who have yet to find a partner in life," said Ridwan, who frequently makes humorous postings on his Instagram account, during his speech prior to the prayer. (mos/ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/25/political-polygamy-messages-take-center-stage-in-some-idul-fitri-speeches.html

Istiqlal's Idul Fitri sermon reminds public of patriotism

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2017

Jakarta – Prominent cleric Quraish Shihab delivered the Idul Fitri sermon at the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta on Sunday, addressing the masses about the importance of nationalism and patriotism as values equal to their belief in God.

Patriotism, Quraish said, was a "natural tendency of human beings" and was a "manifestation of faith." He also told them that Indonesia was a "priceless blessing from God Almighty." "That's why faith is very related to patriotism," Quraish said as quoted by kompas.com.

He also called on the masses to use Idul Fitri to foster unity among the "people of Indonesia" and to "hoist the flag of peace in our beloved homeland and all over the world."

Luminaries attending the prayer at the Istiqlal Mosque, which lies across from the Jakarta Cathedral, included President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, Coordinating Politics, Law and Security Minister Wiranto and People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Zulkifli Hasan. (mos/tas)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/25/istiqlals-idul-fitri-sermon-reminds-public-of-patriotism.html

Land & agrarian conflicts

Jokowi's agrarian reforms likely to fall short of target this year

Jakarta Post - June 23, 2017

Haeril Halim, Jakarta – The administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo will likely fail to reach its target of distributing a total of 5 million land certificates to people across the country this year, as data shows that as of June the Agrarian and Spatial Ministry only managed to hand over about 50,000 of them.

Agrarian and Spatial Minister Sofyan Djalil said that his office had so far only distributed 50,000 land certificates to people nationwide because certificates were only handed over when President Jokowi was on working visits to the regions.

"We have issued more than that, actually. [However, the problem is] certificate distribution relies on working visits of the President to the regions," Sofyan told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Sofyan acknowledged that the number of certificates that his office had issued as of Friday was still far below the 5 million target set by Jokowi, but he refused to give specific figures.

During his recent work trip to Central Java, President Jokowi distributed 2,550 and 2,187 land certificates to people of various occupations in Cilacap and Purwokerto respectively. A total of 500,000 certificates are to be distributed in Central Java.

The land certification program is part of Jokowi's ambitious agrarian reform policy that aims to certify 126 million hectares of land across the country.

Jokowi said that of the total, only 46 million hectares had been certified and his administration would step up efforts to issue certificates for the remaining 80 million in the next few years.

In 2018, the government aims to distribute 7 million certificates and in the following year the number is to increase to 9 million.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/23/jokowis-agrarian-reforms-likely-to-fall-short-of-target-this-year.html

Jakarta & urban life

Return to Jakarta early, and not on your bikes: Transportation minister

Jakarta Globe - June 30, 2017

Jakarta – Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said holiday travelers should return early to Jakarta after their Idul Fitri break to avoid traffic gridlock on toll roads entering the capital.

Budi made his comment as he conducted an impromptu inspection – often called "blusukan" – at the Cikopo checkpoint near the Cikampek Toll exit gate in West Java on Wednesday (28/06).

Budi said travelers should try to start their journey back to Jakarta before Friday, when heavy-load trucks will be allowed again on toll roads in and out of the capital after being barred from them during the holiday.

The minister pointed out traffic back to Jakarta this year has been better than last year, but he did notice long queues in some rest areas are still causing traffic jams. "Don't hang around in rest areas for too long," Budi said.

The minister also asked travelers to check toll road opening schedules to avoid unnecessary detours. The Gringsing-Brebes toll road, for example, will be open mostly just during daytime. "We may open it in the evening as well, but only if the situation demands it," he added.

Budi said travelers should also avoid returning to Jakarta on motorcycles, and make use of free trips back to Jakarta on offer instead. "Riding your bikes [for long period] is dangerous and we need to reduce the volume of vehicles on the road," he said.

The minister said he has also instructed law enforcement officers to ground buses that do not pass roadworthiness tests since they will compromise the safety of passengers.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/return-jakarta-early-not-bikes-transportation-minister-tells-holiday-travelers/

Sandiaga Uno to establish sharia tourism zone in Jakarta

Jakarta Post - June 28, 2017

Jakarta – Deputy governor-elect Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno said on Tuesday that he planned to establish a sharia tourism zone in Kwitang, Senen, Central Jakarta.

Sandiaga explained that he had been inspired to build such a zone after he visited Ali bin Abdurrahmad Al Habsyi, better known as Habib Kwitang, at Ar Riyadh Mosque in Kwitang on Tuesday. Kwitang is known among local Muslims for its regular learning forums held by a local Islamic center.

"I think it will be interesting if there is a religious tourism zone [in the area], which is properly arranged with tents. Hence, mobility can be ensured," Sandiaga said as quoted by wartakota.tribunnews.com.

He said he planned to realize the idea by building home stays in the area after his inauguration as Jakarta deputy governor in October. He expressed hope that the tourism zone would support small and medium enterprises in Jakarta. (agn/ika)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/28/sandiaga-uno-to-establish-sharia-tourism-zone-in-jakarta.html

Jakarta admin wants fewer unskilled newcomers

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – The Jakarta administration wishes to see a smaller inflow of unskilled newcomers from other regions after the Idul Fitri holidays end, Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat has said, citing overpopulation as one of the reasons.

"People are welcome here, but [they should] have skills so that they will not be unemployed. Those without skills will end up working in the informal sector," he said after holding an Idul Fitri celebration at City Hall on Sunday.

Year after year, homegoing travelers traditionally return to Jakarta after the annual exodus with relatives or friends who want to try their luck in the capitol.

Jakarta is currently inhabited by 10.2 million people, whereas it is ideally inhabited by 7.5 million only. Djarot said an average of 100,000 newcomers have come to Jakarta every year.

"In the afternoon, there are 14.5 million people in the city," Djarot said, taking into account commuter workers from other areas as well.

During his term, former governor Ali Sadikin required the newcomers to provide a certain amount of money as a guarantee they could find a job in the city, Djarot said. He, however, was quick to add that he would not copy that policy.

The city administration, through the Population and Civil Registration Agency (Dukcapil), is set to monitor the newcomers by establishing communications with neighborhood and community units.

Meanwhile, data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) reveals that Jakarta had an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent in February, the 12th-highest among all provinces. (tas)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/25/jakarta-admin-wants-fewer-unskilled-newcomers.html

Most crimes in Jakarta committed by youngsters: Research

Jakarta Post - June 23, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Most crimes in Jakarta are committed by people between the ages of 15 and 34, a study has found.

University of Indonesia's Judicial Watch Society (MaPPI) gathered data by reviewing 1,276 district court rulings from 2010 to 2015 on various cases, such as robbery, murder, battery, threats, blackmail, fraud and embezzlement.

"From the gathered data, we saw that those perpetrators did not have a high education level. Most of them had only gone through elementary school," MaPPI researcher Dio Ashar said on Thursday.

Dio said the research found that most robberies in Jakarta were committed by 15 to 24 year olds. Most of those involved in blackmail and threats were between 25 and 34 years old.

Meanwhile, 33 percent of the assailants in battery cases were 25 to 34 years old. In murder cases most of the perpetrators were 15 to 34 years old.

Dio went on to say that in most cases, the perpetrators did not have jobs. "Thieves mostly targeted electronic goods, such as mobile phones and laptops, and motorcycles. In blackmail cases, the target is mostly money," he added.

Dio said in battery and murder cases, most of the perpetrators worked low-paying jobs.

Seeing this trend, MaPPI suggested the administration make education more accessible and provide more job opportunities. The administration should also pay more attention to the residents' basic needs, Dio said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/22/most-crimes-in-jakarta-committed-by-youngsters-research.html

Transport & communication

Hundreds disappointed as they fail to get on free buses

Jakarta Post - June 29, 2017

Ganug Nugroho Adi, Surakarta, Central Java – Hundreds of people expressed disappointment when they failed to get free bus tickets for their trips from Central Jakarta's city of Surakarta to Jakarta.

The people, who wanted to return to Jakarta after celebrating Idul Fitri in their hometowns near Surakarta, had been queuing at the city's Tirtonadi bus terminal for the tickets since 6 a.m. on Thursday.

"The officers should had been informed us about the number of the remaining tickets so that we did not need to queue for that long. I just knew that the tickets had run out when I was in front of the ticket window," said Suhardi, a resident of Boyolali.

The ticket window opened at 8 a.m. and after three hours the officers made an announcement that all free tickets had been distributed.

To travel from Jakarta, Suhardi said, he obtained free bus tickets for members of his family from the Jakarta administration, while the program to distribute free bus tickets to travel from Surakarta was organized by the Transportation Ministry.

The head of the Tirtonadi bus terminal, Eko Agus Susanto, said he had to organize 53 buses provided by the ministry – 28 buses for people who left their motorcycles in Jakarta and 25 for those who took them. "The number of people who did not take their vehicles was larger than the bus seat quota. So we offer an apology to them," said Eko. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/29/hundreds-disappointed-as-they-fail-to-get-on-free-buses.html

Road accidents, fatalities decline during Idul Fitri exodus: Police

Jakarta Globe - June 29, 2017

Jakarta – The number of road accidents during this year's Idul Fitri exodus, known as mudik, declined across the country compared to last year's figures, police said.

Nearly 1,300 accidents claimed hundreds of lives from June 19-26 during a nationwide security operation involving around 170,000 police officers to keep fatalities down. Still, accidents on the whole declined notably from last year, according to National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Martinus Sitompul.

"The number declined by 14 percent this year from around 1,500 in 2016," Martinus said in Jakarta on Tuesday (27/06).

On the other hand, fatalities numbered 292 this year, compared to 294 in 2016, though the number of travelers "severely injured" declined by 26 percent from 480 last year, according to police estimates.

East Java province recorded the highest number of accidents this year, while South Sulawesi saw the least.

As many as 11 people were killed and 90 others injured in 50 accidents in East Java during this year's mudik season, while two people were killed and 28 others injured in 15 accidents in South Sulawesi.

Around 20 million people joined this year's Idul Fitri exodus, with return traffic expected to peak between June 30 and July 2.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/accidents-fatalities-decline-in-this-years-idul-fitri-exodus-police/

Angry Grab drivers rally against suspension

Jakarta Post - June 28, 2017

Jakarta – A rally by dozens of Grab hail-riding drivers staged in front of the online transportation company's head office in Pademangan, North Jakarta, almost turned violent on Tuesday. The rally caused heavy traffic on Jl. Gunung Sahari.

The drivers were protesting their suspension after the company prohibited them from picking up passengers as from Monday morning.

Aris, the rally leader, said the company had violated an agreement that was reached during a meeting between the drivers and the management. The results of the meeting were to be announced on July 10.

"The results of the meeting basically stated the management's intention to pay our salaries if we turned out to be innocent of their suspicions," he said.

Adang, a company executive, said the drivers should exercise patience as the company was conducting an internal inquiry and would honor the agreement to make an announcement on July 10.

Grab managing director Ridzki Kramadibrata said the suspension was actually the last resort as the management had found indications of manipulation and ethical code violations by the rallying drivers during their daily operations.

"We previously allocated time for them to communicate regarding this matter and so there is no need to stage a protest," he said as reported by kompas.com.(dic)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/28/angry-grab-drivers-rally-against-suspension.html

Minister hopes logistics will be 'back to normal' after Idul Fitri

Jakarta Post - June 27, 2017

Jakarta – Industry Ministry Airlangga Hartarto has expressed his hopes that logistical activities will return to normal after the government has lifted a ban on trucks for several routes that were prioritized for Idul Fitri travelers.

"The closure of several routes [for trucks] had caused challenges recently. Many goods could not be delivered. We hope that it will be back to normal," he said on Sunday evening, as reported by kontan.co.id.

The restriction had caused difficulties for the delivery of goods and materials needed for the industrial sector that continues its activities during the holiday season, the minister said.

Airlangga noted that demand for several industrial goods, including food and beverages, was also not as high as during last year's Ramadhan and Idul Fitri.

"Compared to last year's Ramadhan, there was a drop in demand. On the one end, there was a decrease in demand, and on the other end, prices have remained stable," Airlangga said.

The minister expressed his hope that the public's purchasing power would increase again after the festivities to help propel industrial growth.

Airlangga also said he hoped the financial sector could encourage higher consumption. (fss/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/27/minister-hopes-logistics-will-be-back-to-normal-after-idul-fitri-disruption.html

Touted sea change in Indonesia shipping network may hit choppy waters

Reuters - June 23, 2017

Eveline Danubrata and Cindy Silviana, Jakarta – With its towering new cranes and wharves that can handle some of the world's biggest ships, Indonesia's main international port has been shaking off its reputation for inefficiency and congestion with a $2.5 billion upgrade.

But the revamp is just the first step in an ambitious drive to overhaul shipping in the country, with experts warning that a scheme to dot the sprawling archipelago with a string of new harbors over the next few years could be heading for choppy waters as it still needs billions of dollars in financing.

President Joko Widodo wants Indonesia to become a "global maritime axis", looking to slash logistics costs as the nation competes with neighbors Vietnam and Thailand to be a major regional manufacturing base for automotive and electronics companies including Toyota Motor Corp and Samsung Electronics.

"In terms of challenges, locating adequate funding is clearly one of the biggest," said Turloch Mooney, senior editor for global ports at research provider IHS Markit.

Indonesia ranked 63rd out of 160 countries last year on the World Bank's Logistics Performance Index, which measures the ease of trade including the timeliness of shipments, customs performance and infrastructure quality.

The costs of moving goods across one of the world's most populous countries stood at 27 percent of gross domestic product, according to a 2013 study co-written by the World Bank. That compared with 13 percent in Malaysia and 8 percent in Singapore.

Indonesia has an ambitious plan to build or expand a total of 24 ports, though it is unclear what the overall cost would be, with the work largely divvied up between four state-controlled port operators that have their own fundraising plans.

"While (these companies) are certainly capable of developing and operating ports, in reality their capacity is limited, particularly in financing large ports," said Raj Kannan, managing director of infrastructure consultancy Tusk Advisory.

PT Pelabuhan Indonesia II (Pelindo 2), which runs Jakarta's revamped Tanjung Priok port, needs 40-50 trillion rupiah ($3-3.75 billion) over the next three years to build at least three new ports and other infrastructure, said President Director Elvyn G. Masassya.

Pelindo 2, which issued $1.6 billion worth of bonds two years ago, is now in talks with potential investors from China and other countries, Masassya said, adding that he was confident the company could raise enough money.

Another state-controlled port operator, PT Pelabuhan Indonesia III (Pelindo 3), is planning to raise up to 5.5 trillion rupiah from a bond issue this year.

Fitch Ratings said in April that Pelindo 3's estimated cash flow from operations of 14 trillion rupiah over 2017-2020 would not cover forecast capital expenditure of 22 trillion rupiah.

Pelindo 3 CEO Ari Askhara this week said the spending plan was "still an estimation" and that any shortage of funds could be filled by tapping capital markets or getting bank loans.

Bottleneck

While the dwell time – how long it takes cargo to move through a port – has dropped to around three days at Jakarta's port over the last few years, experts estimate that it still takes eight days or more at Indonesia's secondary ports.

In comparison, the average dwell time at established maritime hub Singapore is only around a day.

Manufacturers have long criticized Indonesia's shipping system, saying it slows the import of raw materials and the export of finished products.

Anne Patricia Sutanto, a senior executive at garment maker PT Pan Brothers Tbk, said there were not enough shipping lines out of Semarang, a port city on the north of Java island, which it uses for 70 percent of its exports.

Pan Brothers says on its website that its clients include Germany's Adidas and Japan's Uniqlo, owned by Fast Retailing.

Nevertheless, some analysts said there was room to be optimistic on the long-term prospects for the overhaul of shipping in Indonesia, with the improvements at Tanjung Priok seen as a good starting point.

"The goals are highly ambitious but also very important to the future economic fortunes of the country, and therefore have support within the highest levels of the administration," said IHS Markit's Mooney.

(Reporting by Eveline Danubrata and Cindy Silviana; Additional reporting by Stefanno Reinard and Henning Gloystein; Editing by Ed Davies and Joseph Radford)

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-ports-idUSKBN19E0AV

Food & beverage industry

Government to flood market with frozen buffalo meat

Jakarta Post - June 28, 2017

Jakarta – The government plans to supply markets with more frozen buffalo meat in an effort to push prices down, even though it is less popular than fresh beef meat.

Apart from supplying markets with frozen meat, Trade Minister Enggartiasto "Eanggar" Lukita said the government would also examine meat distribution, from slaughter houses to markets, to better understand the causes of the persistent high price of meat.

"In the past, the price was at about Rp 80,000 (US$6), but now the prices are at between Rp 100,000 to Rp 105,000. We want to understand the problem, beginning from the slaughter houses," said Eanggar as reported by tempo.co on Wednesday.

He said certain markets had rejected the idea of selling frozen meat, but that the government would insist on supplying the markets with frozen meat to know whether people would really refuse to buy it.

"There has been a rejection [to the frozen meat] at certain markets. But we will still supply them with the frozen meat. Let the market decide," said Enggar, adding that more frozen meat would be imported by the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) if it was necessary.

He said his ministry would cooperate with local governments, particularly local market operators (PD Pasar) to help the frozen beef enter the market. Enggar added that currently the stock of frozen buffalo meat reached 45,000 tons.

Enggar said he would discuss the meat imports with Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman to ensure the imports would not negatively effect efforts to increase the cow population. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/28/government-to-flood-market-with-frozen-buffalo-meat.html

7-Eleven loses steam due to alcohol ban, tight margin: Business group

Jakarta Post - June 26, 2017

Grace D. Amianti, Jakarta – The alcohol sales ban at minimarkets and a low profit margin are likely the main causes behind the planned permanent closure of 7-Eleven convenience stores in Indonesia, a business group leader has said.

Publicly listed PT Modern Internasional, the operator of 7-Eleven convenience stores in the country, has recently announced that it would close down all of its outlets starting on June 30 after a major potential investor decided to drop plans to acquire the company's retail business.

"I heard that the alcohol ban has contributed to the drop [in sales] as they started to lose one of their competitive advantages compared to other [convenience stores]," Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) chairman Hariyadi Sukamdani said on Monday.

He said that the retail business was very tight in terms of competition and had a rather slight margin, although 7-Eleven had a "good" initial concept by providing space for visitors to gather, just like cafes or restaurants.

Earlier this month, Modern Internasional announced that an anticipated deal worth Rp 1 trillion (US$75.08 million) between its subsidiary PT Modern Sevel Indonesia and PT Charoen Pokphand Restu Indonesia (CPRI) – part of publicly listed poultry firm PT Charoen Pokphand Indonesia – had been canceled.

Alcohol contributed roughly 10 percent to the total sales of 7-Eleven stores, Modern Internasional director Henri Honoris once said. He considered the alcohol sale ban as detrimental to business and has been forced to close down 25 underperforming 7-Eleven stores this year alone. (tas)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/26/7-eleven-loses-steam-due-to-alcohol-ban-tight-margin-business-group.html

Retail & service industry

Ramadan fails to goose Indonesian retailers' sales

Nikkei Asia Review - June 28, 2017

Jun Suzuki, Jakarta – In Indonesia, Ramadan is the most important time of year for retailers as many consumers descend on shopping malls and other locations with bonuses that are paid during the Islamic holy month.

The period of dawn-to-sunset fasting came to an end on Saturday. This summer, however, retailers seemed to have had difficulty luring customers into their shops and getting those who did wander in to open their wallets. Most of Indonesia's more than 250 million inhabitants are Muslims.

At midnight on June 10, a large shopping mall in southern Jakarta hosted its annual Midnite Sale to coincide with Ramadan. The center, which is usually only allowed to open until 10 p.m. by law, kept the lights on until 12 a.m. Stores tried to pull in customers with discounts of up to 70%.

A retail store representative, however, said "traffic is slower than usual." While long lines formed outside some luxury boutiques, many other shops had few customers.

According to a spokesperson for Jakarta Great Sale – an annual event that spans parts of June and July and involves shopping malls and traditional markets in the metro area – this summer's sales target for the event is more than 16 trillion rupiah ($1.2 billion), up 5.1% from last year.

Although new hotels took part in this year's event in addition to 81 malls and 40 markets, sales are expected to grow at a rate below last summer's 8%.

Consumer spending is failing to grow as strongly as it used to because Indonesia's economy can't seem to find its way into recovery mode.

According to a survey by Indonesia's central bank, the offline retail industry has maintained single-digit monthly sales growth this year, compared to almost double-digit growth through last year.

A business executive also blamed Indonesia's tax amnesty program, designed to encourage people to declare hidden assets. The program ended in March, and 960,000 mostly wealthy people took advantage of it.

They were assessed a tax of 2% to 5% of the value of the assets they reported and received prosecutorial immunity. A senior representative of an industry group said the 2% to 5% levy kept money from making its way into the economy and spurring growth.

A spike in the number of online merchants is also giving their offline brethren a hard time. Indonesia's smartphone penetration rate is 50%, which helps to explain why so many Indonesians now shop online.

MatahariMall.com, operated by the Lippo Group conglomerate, and Lazada.co.id, operated by China's Alibaba Group, both held massive Ramadan sales.

Every summer, retailers wage a fierce sales war, hoping to get some of Indonesians' Ramadan bonuses. They also benefit from a custom in which people buy new clothes and other products once the fasting period has ended.

Source: http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Trends/Ramadan-fails-to-goose-Indonesian-retailers-sales

Idul Fitri sales disappoint retailers

Jakarta Post - June 27, 2017

Jakarta – Most retailers feel the pinch of people's weakening purchasing power during this year's Idul Fitri celebration, as sales of various products have declined.

"Almost all businesspeople complained about quite a significant decrease in sales compared to last year," Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) chairman Hariyadi Sukamdani said in Jakarta on Monday, as reported by tempo.co.

Sales of batik products, for instance, dropped by 20 percent compared to last year's Idul Fitri. "[Businesspeople] said this was the first time sales had plunged this low," he continued.

Hariyadi is of the view that the lower purchasing power was caused by shrinking formal-sector employment, as the workforce absorbed by industries reached 2 million while the surplus of newly issued and revoked BPJS Ketenagakerjaan memberships stood at 20,000 as of April.

"That means workforce absorption [in the formal sector] is very low. The government should pay attention to this, as shrinking formal employment will automatically affect purchasing power, because they usually have higher spending power [than informal sector employees]," Hariyadi said.

Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution admitted that the retail sector might not be blooming as strongly as a few years ago.

"However, [business] transformation in the retail sector is rapid, so there must be one business that slows while others are [growing] faster," he said. As long as commodity exports recovered, he went on, people's consumption would also increase. (prm)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/27/idul-fitri-sales-disappoint-retailers.html

Criminal justice & legal system

Indonesia's prison woes: Packed but understaffed

Straits Times - June 27, 2017

Francis Chan, Jakarta – A Bali prison break by four inmates last Monday has again shone the spotlight on longstanding issues of overcapacity and understaffing at Indonesia's correctional facilities.

The challenge of securing over 200,000 inmates in fewer than 500 prisons in the country was further highlighted when a warden said he could not guarantee the safety of a high-profile detainee.

"His life may be threatened," said Cipinang prison chief Abdul Ghani, when asked why his facility could not hold the outgoing Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who was jailed for two years last month for blasphemy.

Mr Ghani last Wednesday declined to take custody of Basuki, who will likely serve out his sentence instead in a detention cell at a police camp in Depok, West Java.

Security risks at state penitentiaries have led certain observers to urge the government to review mandatory prison terms for some minor offences and consider implementing alternative penalties.

Studies by Jakarta-based policy think-tanks like the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) have found a strong correlation between overcrowded prisons and escape rates.

Some 300 of the country's 497 correctional facilities are said to be overcrowded as the prison population continues to grow. In 2013, there were 163,279 inmates in facilities meant for 108,186. Lawmaker Akbar Faizal told Parliament earlier this month the number has risen to 219,925.

The Straits Times understands that there are only about 16,500 prison officers in the country. As they are rostered on different shifts, only 3,650 officers are on duty at any one time. This means an average ratio of about one officer to 55 inmates, making the task of closely monitoring all prisoners almost impossible.

Two of the four escaped convicts from Kerobokan Prison were caught in Dili, Timor Leste, more than 1,000km from Bali, last Thursday. Still at large are Australian Shaun Edward Davidson and Malaysian Tee Kok King.

The jailbreak came after about 400 inmates broke out from Sialang Bungkuk detention centre in Pekanbaru, Riau, on May 5.

"Looking at the conditions, it is only normal to see prison guards helpless in preventing prison breaks," ICJR executive director Supriyadi Eddyono told Gres News, an Indonesian political and legal news portal.

Structural problems within the prison system will continue to hamper efforts not only to rehabilitate criminals but also to deradicalise convicted terrorists, a study last year by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict said.

Tempo magazine, in an editorial last month, noted that the Justice and Human Rights Ministry wants to outsource the management of prisons to the private sector, but there have been no takers just yet.

The ICJR believes the government has made matters worse by refusing to fix an archaic criminal justice system where 1,154 crimes come with prison sentences.

"The government has never evaluated the objectives of punishing criminals (by sending them) to prison," said Mr Supriyadi.

Mr Akbar agrees, adding that Indonesia needs to consider new ways to punish criminals. "Can we change the mindset such that imprisonment is not necessarily always the principal punishment?"

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesias-prison-woes-packed-but-understaffed

Police suspect crime syndicate helped Shaun Davidson and other prisoners

Sydney Morning Herald - June 24, 2017

Jewel Topsfield Amilia Rosa – Bali's police chief says he believes a crime syndicate helped four foreign prisoners, including Australian Shaun Davidson, stage a brazen escape from Bali's Kerobokan jail.

The police chief spoke after two of the escapees – Bulgarian Dimitar Nikolov Iliev and Indian Sayed Mohammed Said – arrived back in Bali under heavily armed guard. They had been arrested in Dili, the capital of East Timor, on Thursday.

"These people are organised crime and transnational crime. This is extraordinary," Bali's police chief, Inspector General Petrus Golose, said. "We will first dig deeper."

The captured escapees wore orange prison jumpsuits and were escorted by black armed and masked officers from BRIMOB, the special operations police force and paramilitary. The prisoners were both sporting beards, which Indonesian authorities had earlier suggested was part of their disguise.

Meanwhile Davidson, who is still at large, appears to be teasing police and the media by "checking in" to locations throughout Europe, including Copenhagen Marriott Hotel and Club Air Amsterdam, on what is believed to be his Facebook page.

However it is unclear if Davidson is actually in Europe as check-ins on Facebook do not necessitate the person be physically in that location, or even if it is him updating the page. Malaysian Tee Kok King is also still on the run.

Inspector General Petrus said the prisoners will be questioned about how they managed to escape to another country. "We will investigate what syndicate helped them," Inspector Petrus said.

The investigation to find the missing two prisoners was also continuing. Iliev and Said had been staying in the four-and-a-half star Novo Turismo Resort and Spa in Dili, where hotel staff said they went to the pool and restaurant like normal tourists.

Jose Gutterres, a lawyer for Iliev in East Timor, said his client had been arrested on June 22 at an immigration port in East Timor trying to get a visa. He had entered East Timor illegally by sea after flying to the Indonesian island of Alor from Bali and then chartering a boat to East Timor.

Mr Gutterres said that Iliev had admitted to escaping from the jail through a tunnel, which prison authorities had thought was a septic tank. They had been baffled as to how the foursome had tunnelled their way out without signs of digging. Mr Gutterres said Iliev had not said in court whether he had help escaping from the prison.

Timor Leste Police Chief Julio Hornai said on Saturday that after the court hearing the men were handed over to East Timor immigration and then Indonesian police so they could continue to serve their jail time in Bali.

The Bali police chief thanked East Timor for the arrests. "We are dealing with a sovereign country with their own legal system," he said. "We were assisted by them to speed the process."

Inspector General Petrus urged the media to be patient, saying all information would have to be cross-checked with Bulgaria and India. "In an investigation we can't just listen to what a suspect says," he said. "We can't just assume what they are saying is the truth."

Iliev had been serving seven years in Kerobokan jail for fleecing ATM users and Said was serving 14 years on drug charges. However Davidson had just 10 weeks left to serve of his 12-month jail sentence for using another man's passport. He faces drug charges back in Perth and prison sources have told Fairfax Media he did not want to return home and go to jail in Australia.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/police-suspect-crime-syndicate-helped-shaun-davidson-and-other-prisoners-escape-bali-jail-20170624-gwxwis.html

Foreign affairs & trade

Indonesian boy wrongfully jailed in WA adult prison for people smuggling

Australian Associated Press - June 29, 2017

A young Indonesian man who served time in a Western Australian adult prison for people smuggling despite being a child at the time has had his conviction overturned.

Ali Jasmin, also known as Ali Yasmin, was a crew member on a boat transporting 55 Afghan asylum seekers and was aged 14 in December 2010 when he was sentenced as an adult to five years in prison.

He was among dozens of Indonesian children prosecuted by Australian authorities between 2010 and 2012 after they were deemed adults using the now-discredited method of wrist x-rays.

In April 2012 the Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young called for an inquiry into the case, saying a birth certificate showed Jasmin was 13 when first detained by Australian authorities for cooking on a boat.

At the time the then prime minister, Julia Gillard, said she didn't want to see children in Australian jails and was aware claims had been made about a birth certificate but a court had determined that Jasmin was not a minor.

A month later the then attorney general, Nicola Roxon, ordered Jasmin's release from Albany regional prison and he was deported back to Indonesia.

Jasmin then sought to have his conviction quashed, which was allowed in the WA court of appeal on Thursday, with the full bench of judges unanimously agreeing he should be acquitted.

Justices Robert Mazza and Robert Mitchell said it was in the interest of justice to acquit Jasmin rather than order a new trial as there was a real prospect he had been sentenced under the wrong statutory framework.

They said it was "unsafe" that the district court judge who dealt with Jasmin's case had concluded he was 18.

"I am satisfied that a miscarriage of justice... has occurred," they said. "If the appellant was aged under 18 years when he allegedly committed the offence, the mandatory minimum penalty... for an adult, did not apply to him, and he should have been sentenced by the children's court."

Jasmin played only a minor role in the people smuggling, they added.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jun/29/indonesian-boy-wrongfully-jailed-in-wa-adult-prison-for-people-smuggling-has-conviction-overturned

Economy & investment

World Bank lauds Indonesia's fiscal framework

Jakarta Post - June 25, 2017

Viriya P. Singgih, Jakarta – The World Bank has lauded Indonesia's fiscal framework, calling it "solid" and saying that it has contributed to improving the credibility of the country.

"Fiscal management in this country has improved substantially over the last year, quite substantially," World Bank country director for Indonesia Rodrigo A. Chaves said on Sunday at an Idul Fitri celebration at Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati's official residence at the Widya Chandra ministerial housing complex in South Jakarta.

Chaves said the government's construction of a solid fiscal framework had led to global credit rating agency S&P Global Ratings' recent upgrade of Indonesia's sovereign rating to investment level.

"As minister [Sri Mulyani] and many other observers have said, the budget deficit will remain below 3 percent, most likely between 2.5 percent to 2.6 percent this year. So, [the] fiscal [framework] is well ordered and well managed," Chaves said.

Sri Mulyani, a former World Bank managing director, held an open house event on the first day of Idul Fitri. She arrived at 11:26 a.m. after attending an Eid prayer event and greeting tax officials at the Taxation Directorate General headquarters.

Chaves was among nearly 200 guests that paid a visit during the open house. Some other guests were the ministry's secretary-general Hadiyanto and Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) chairman Rosan Perkasa Roeslani. (tas)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/06/25/world-bank-lauds-indonesias-fiscal-framework.html

Gov't's latest policy package is credit positive: Moody's

Jakarta Globe - June 23, 2017

Jakarta – Moody's Investors Service said the Indonesian government's latest policy package is a "credit positive" as it signals a renewed focus on improving investment climate.

"The announcement of the latest policy package suggests the economic reform agenda has not been derailed by political considerations," Anushka Shah, an analyst at Moody's Investors Service Singapore sovereign risk group, said in a note on Friday (23/06).

Shah said the recent Jakarta gubernatorial election earlier this year at first seemed to have lulled the government's reform agenda.

This latest policy package is the first since November 2016 and the seven-month gap between policy packages "underscored the continued close linkage between politics and policies."

Moody's noted the 15th policy package provides business opportunities for logistics companies and makes them more competitive by streamlining and simplifying regulations. It also reduces operating costs and the number of restricted goods at ports.

"Over time, the measures will help reduce overall logistics costs and help the development of local firms in the sector," Shah said.

Indonesia ranks 63rd out of 160 countries on the World Bank's Logistics Performance Index behind India (35th) and Thailand (45th).

Moody's upgraded Indonesia's rating outlook from stable to positive in February on the back of improvements in business environment and GDP growth.

The decision to lift the rating, according to the agency's statement, was made after considering the effects of the Indonesian government's string of policy packages since September 2015.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/govts-latest-policy-package-credit-positive-moodys/


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