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Indonesia News Digest 26 – July 9-16, 2017

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News & issues

Anti-Ahok protesters now defending Trump business partner and 'infidel'

CNN Indonesia - July 14, 2017

Filani Olyvia, Jakarta – Presidium Alumni 212 chairperson Ansufri Idrus Sambo says that his organisation does not just defend ulama (Islamic scholars), but anyone who is mistreated, even if they are deemed to kafir (infidel, unbeliever).

The Presidium says it does not discriminate in providing support. "We must defend anyone [even] an infidel who is being mistreated. We don't discriminate", said Sambo at the offices of the Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) in Central Jakarta on Friday July 14.

He said that one particular person who is an infidel but should be defended is business tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo. The chairperson of the Indonesian Unity Party (Perindo) has been declared a suspect for allegedly threatening an Attorney General's Office official last year through an SMS message.

Sambo believes that Hary Tanoe is a victim of political revenge for former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama loosing the Jakarta elections earlier this year.

Sambo said that the Presidium Alumni 212 would defend the boss of the PT Media Nusantara Citra (MNC) Group because Tanoe has helped their group greatly in the past.

Before deciding to help Hary Tanoe, Sambo admitted receiving advice to the effect that the Presidium does not just assist people who are Muslims. This assistance is in the form of solidarity to support those that are being abused because they opposed Ahok.

"The person we are defending, he's being mistreated, he's helped a lot, also because someone asked us], yeah so we'll defend him. It doesn't have any relationship with what's being called, 'Is this uztaz [Islamic teacher] defending kafir'", said Sambo.

Sambo explained that the defense to be provided by the Presidium for Hary Tanoe would be in the form of submitting a complaint with the Komnas HAM. Sambo said that the Presidium will be urging the Komnas HAM to establish an investigation team to look into allegations of criminalisation.

"So that the Komnas HAM forms an investigation team, as they have done for other people that have been criminalised", said Sambo.

Today the Presidium will again go to the Komnas HAM's offices. They will submit a number of complaints, one of which is over the criminalisation of Hary Tanoe. (pmg)


Along with vigilante groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the Alumni 212 was one of the groups involved in the "Defend Islam" protests organised by the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI) against former governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in Jakarta in December demanding that he be jailed on trumped up blasphemy charges. One of the stated reasons for opposing Ahok's reelection was that Muslims cannot be led by non-Muslims (infidels). Billionaire Hary Tanoe, who is Donald Trump's business partner in Indonesia and like Ahok is also a Christian of Chinese decent, openly supported the election ticket of Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno who went on to win the election. Tanoe, who is close to former Special Forces (Kopassus) General Prabowo Subianto, is also widely believed to have been one of the key financial backers behind the anti-Ahok rallies.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Alumni 212: Kafir yang Dizalimi Kami Bela".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20170714163251-12-227965/alumni-212-kafir-yang-dizalimi-kami-bela/

Hard-line Islamic group denies receiving money to defend 'infidel'

Tempo - July 14, 2017

Wulan Nova/Elik S, Jakarta – The Alumni 212 Presidium has held a protest march from the Sunda Kelapa Grand Mosque to the offices of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) to lodge a complete over a case involving Indonesian Unity Party (Perindo) chairperson Hary Tanoesoedibjo.

The group said it is fitting to defend Hary Tanoe, as the PT Media Nusantara Citra (MNC) Group boss in known, because he has become a victim the regime of President Joko Widodo.

Alumni Presidium 212 chairperson Ansufri Idrus Sambo said that Hary Tanoe is a victim of the regime that is in power. The march, said Sambo, is a solidarity action to defend human rights.

"[We have] come to Komnas HAM because there was someone who made a complaint. [Our] colleagues proposed that [we] don't just defend Muslim people, because the one being mistreated is from a different religious faith", said Sambo on Friday July 14.

Sambo believes that there are political motivations behind the case against business tycoon Hary Tanoe who has been declared a suspect by the national police criminal investigation bureau because he allegedly threatened sub-directorate investigator Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes Yulianto. "We are making a complaint [with Komnas HAM] because Hary Tanoe is being criminalised".

According to Sambo, the Presidium Alumni 212's defense of Hary Tanoe has no relationship with politics. The defense of the MNC boss represents part of religious outreach on other days.

The other reason is because of the assistance provided by the MNC in the form of [positive] reporting on the 212 Defend Islam actions against former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in December last year. "We are defending a person who is being mistreated", said Sambo.

Sambo denies that the Presidium Alumni 212 is defending Hary Tanoe because it has received money. Sambo also insists that he has never met Hary Tanoe or had any direct relationship with him.

"I don't know [him and] have never met [him], [I've] never contacted [him], never exchanged SMS messages, never exchanged WhatsApp messages".


Along with vigilante groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the Alumni 212 was one of the groups involved in the "Defend Islam" protests organised by the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI) against former governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in Jakarta in December demanding that he be jailed on trumped up blasphemy charges. One of the stated reasons for opposing Ahok's reelection was that Muslims cannot be led by non-Muslims (infidels). Billionaire Hary Tanoe, who is Donald Trump's business partner in Indonesia and like Ahok is also a Christian of Chinese decent, openly supported the election ticket of Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno who went on to win the election. Tanoe, who is close to former Special Forces (Kopassus) General Prabowo Subianto, is also widely believed to have been one of the key financial backers behind the anti-Ahok rallies.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Bela Hary Tanoe, Presidium Alumni 212 Bantah Dapat Uang".]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/news/2017/07/14/078891559/bela-hary-tanoe-presidium-alumni-212-bantah-dapat-uang

Anti-Ahok protest 'alumni' now defending Trump business partner/criminal

Coconuts Jakarta - July 14, 2017

You know that saying, "politics makes strange bedfellows"?

The so-called Presidium Alumni 212 is a hardline group made up of people who attended the massive "Action in Defense of Islam" protest rally on December 12 (2/12) calling for Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese-descent and the governor of Jakarta at the time, to be immediately jailed for his alleged blasphemy. But now the group says it's going to speak out in defense of another notable Christian Chinese-Indonesian: Hary Tanoesoedibjo.

The wealthy and politically-influential media mogul is often referred to in the local media as just Hary Tanoe, but in the western media, he is almost always referred to as US President Donald Trump's Indonesian business partner (due to his company's multi-million dollar deal with Trump Hotels to build two luxury resorts in Indonesia).

Hary has had a rough time of it lately, having recently been named a suspect by the Jakarta Police over alleged threats made against a public prosecutor involved in a graft case against one of the media mogul's companies.

But hey, the Presidium Alumni 212 are here to help.

Members of the group marched from Sunda Kelapa Gading to the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) today to protest the so-called "criminalization of Islamic scholars" (like pornography suspect/Islamic Defenders Front leader Habib Rizieq) but also the criminalization of Hary Tanoe.

Why would members of notoriously hardline Islamic group come to the defense of Hary Tanoe, when the overriding mission of their cause is to convince Indonesia that non-Muslim leaders shouldn't be accepted?

Well, according to Presidium Alumni 212 chairman Ansufri Idrus Sambo, it's because a "friend" asked him to.

"Actually somebody told us, said to us, 'Please help Hary he helped us out a lot with our news too'," Sambo said at the Komnas HAM office today as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

Hary Tanoe has been closely associated with Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto, who backed Ahok's rival Anies Baswedan in this year's Jakarta gubernatorial elections.

Journalist Allan Nairn, in his much-discussed article linking Trump to Hary Tanoe and the anti-Ahok movement, accused Hary of being a big supporter of a military conspiracy to overthrow the government of President Joko Widodo.

According to Sambo, the criminalization of those like Rizieq and Hary are all part of a conspiracy by Jokowi's administration to get revenge for Ahok's loss in the election.

"Our friend said, 'This also requires our help, because we are not just helping the Muslim people. Whoever is being persecuted by the regime because of Ahok, they should be helped too, reported to Komnas HAM," said Sambo, quoting his unnamed "friend".

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/anti-ahok-protest-alumni-now-defending-trump-partner-criminal-suspect-hary-tanoe/

West Papua

Indonesia: Activist priest challenges nation's treason law

Eurasia Review - July 15, 2017

UCAN – An Indonesian priest in Papua has joined rights activists in filing a judicial review of the country's treason law in the Constitutional Court.

They said the right to freedom of expression is being abused by authorities who slap treason charges against people for simply taking part in peaceful demonstrations.

The activists want the court to clarify what provisions in the law justify the charge and whether they are constitutional.

The law is used as a tool by the government to suppress the voices of Papuans protesting against injustice and rights abuses, said Father John Djonga.

"Ordinary Papuans stage demonstrations to protest abuses by the state apparatus, as well as lack of health and education services, but they are later arrested and charged with treason," he told ucanews.com on July 13.

Their lawyer, Yusman Conoras, said the government is applying the law in a very discriminatory way. "In Jakarta, every day there are people demonstrating and it is treated casually. However, if in Papua people hold rallies, they are considered separatists, "he said.

Over-repressive measures are dangerous because they trigger and foster resentment, he said.

According to the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace 2,214 civilians and 489 political activists in Papua were victims of rights abuses last year, many of whom were arrested during demonstrations.

Source: http://www.eurasiareview.com/15072017-indonesia-activist-priest-challenges-nations-treason-law/

Indonesian crackdown on peaceful West Papuan UN vote petition signers

Asia Pacific Report - July 14, 2017

Yanto Awerkion, a West Papuan local independence leader, remains imprisoned after being arrested the Indonesian security services for collecting signatures on an Avaaz petition calling for a new referendum on independence from Indonesia.

Awerkion, deputy chairperson of the Timika branch of the pro- independence West Papua National Committee (KNPB), remains behind bars since his arrest on June 23.

Minutes after Awerkion took to the stage at a rally supporting the global petition, Indonesian security services surrounded the gathering and arrested Awerkion.

The arrest forms part of a growing Indonesian strategy to arrest and imprison any Papuan who voices support for independence or self-determination in the territory.

Between June 30 and July 6, about 150 Papuans were arrested – many of them beaten and tortured – for non-violent acts of resistance to Indonesian rule. The International Coalition for Papua documented 321 political arrests of West Papuans in the second quarter of 2017.

West Papuans have been fighting for independence against Indonesia since 1963, in what has become one of the world's longest-running military occupations.

Regular reports of torture

Hundreds of thousands of West Papuans have lost their lives in the occupation, and reports of Papuans being shot, imprisoned, kidnapped and torture regularly filter out of the provinces.

Global attention on West Papua has been steadily growing in recent years with the unification of the Papuan representative bodies under the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, the formation of the Pacific Coalition for West Papua and the launching of a petition to the UN calling on the international community to support a new referendum in West Papua.

The petition has already gained 33,000 signatures across the globe, with tens of thousands of signatures being collected by hand in West Papua itself. Awerkion was arrested at one of the mass manual signings of the petition in Timika, West Papua.

At the end of August this year, the petition will be swum almost 70km for 30 hours up Lake Geneva to the UN offices by a British swim team.

Speaking before his arrest, Awerkion said: "I thank people all over the world for standing up for political prisoners in West Papua."

British-based Benny Wenda said of the gathering where Awerkion was arrested: "I am proud that the people of West Papua remained calm and peaceful, singing hymns as their gathering was raided by the Indonesian military and police.

"We are showing the Indonesian government that we will not be provoked by their terror and brutality. Like Mahatma Gandhi, we will fight successfully for our freedom through peace and love."

Source: https://asiapacificreport.nz/2017/07/14/indonesian-crackdown-on-peaceful-west-papuan-un-vote-petition-signers/

Indonesia says mass Papuan arrest claim is wrong

Radio New Zealand International - July 13, 2017

The Indonesia government says claims of mass arrests of West Papuans in the past two weeks are wrong.

Earlier this week the Australia West Papua Association called for Canberra to press Jakarta over the arrests in the city of Nabire of about 150 Papuans, mostly members of the pro-independence West Papua National Committee, or KNPB.

But a statement from the Indonesian Embassy in Wellington says these arrests did not happen. It says only one KNPB sympathiser was arrested on July 1st and released the next day. The statement says two other Papuans were detained on 2 July and held for questioning.

It statement confirms a demonstration at the police station over the arrest of these two men but notes that by July 7th the KNPB members were all returned to where they had come from after they had signed a declaration that they would not violate law and order.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/335069/indonesia-says-mass-papuan-arrest-claim-is-wrong

Papua governor named suspect in election violation case

Jakarta Globe - July 12, 2017

Jakarta – Authorities have charged Papua Governor Lukas Enembe with allegedly persuading residents to vote for one of the candidates in the Tolikara district head election earlier this year, police have said.

Officers have named Lukas a suspect in the case and submitted his case files to prosecutors, Papua Police Chief Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said on Monday (10/07).

Lukas allegedly committed the election violation a week before voting day in Tolikara, one of 18 districts in Papua that held a re-vote in May after initial elections in February.

Lukas allegedly campaigned in his hometown of Kanggime in Tolikara for district head candidate Usman Wanimbo and running mate Dinius Wanimbo, who later won the election.

Losing candidate Amos Jikwa reported Lukas to the Elections Supervisory Agency and the Papua Police immediately after the allegedly illegal campaigning in Kanggime.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/papua-governor-named-suspect-election-violation-case/

There is no significant progress on Papua human right issue

Tabloid JUBI - July 11, 2017

Jayapura, Jubi – Director of the Papua Policy and Human Rights Advocacy Association (PAK-HAM), Matius Murib, admitted that there is no significant progress of Jakarta-made coordination meeting team founded by Politic and Security Minister last year, which himself is a member, on the settlement of human rights violations in Papua.

"There is no significant development despite the existing SK (decision letter) from Menkopolhukam from Luhut Panjaitan and Wiranto, it has been only coordination meeting," he said during Focus Group Discussion at the Office of PAK HAM Papua, Padangbulan, Thursday (July 6).

The discussion was held to remind 19 years of Bloody Biak Tragedy and other human rights issues in Tanah Papua.

Murib said from 13 cases of alleged human rights violation tabled by civil society to the team, only five cases have been categorized as infringement while others categorize as purely criminal.

Presence in the discussion, Filep Karma, a victim of Biak's bloody tragedies on 6 July 1998 and ex political prisoners said that in the meeting in Geneva, the Indonesian team came with a group of 21 people plus Foreign Minister and Law and Human Rights Minister.

"They say the Menkopolhukam team is working on and resolving human rights issues in Papua," he said. In fact the team was only held coordination meeting without any progress as stated by Matius Murib. (*)

Source: http://tabloidjubi.com/eng/9228-2/

True OPM would not be involved in politics

Tabloid JUBI - July 11, 2017

Jayapura, Jubi – Papua legislator criticized a framing made by an online media in Jakarta toward an involvement of Free Papua Organization (OPM) in the riot between supporters of candidates for the head of Puncak Jaya, Papua,).

Laurenzus Kadepa, Members of the House of Representatives Commission I of Papua in charge of government, politics, law and human rights, asked all parties outside Papua, including media, do not seem to know better the condition of Papua than those live in Papua.

Until now there has been no statement from the competent party who called the alleged involvement of OPM in the violent supporters of candidate pairs in Puncak Jaya, he said.

"True OPM will never want to engage in local politics, what they stand for is clear, not for local politics, if any party claims that OPM is involved in local elections and politics in Papua, it is an artificial OPM, not a true one," he said to Jubi on July 4.

According to him, the reporting of Papua conditions that do not fit facts, resulting negative view on Papua from people outside.

"The ways in which this was covered makes the Papuan problem continues, which further complicates the atmosphere as if people outside Papua are more knowledgeable of the condition in Papua," he said.

With regard to the electoral situation in some areas, especially in Papua which caused confusion, NasDem Party politicians were more likely to support the idea for election of regents, mayors and governors returned to the House of Representatives.

Some of the reasons he said is relate to the huge budget spent, while managed by the organizers who are not neutral. In addition, competing candidates are immature and not ready to lose.

Another reason is weakness of law enforcement and all parties involved in the election failed to perform their respective roles. Thus it is making situation even more unsafe and the people becoming victims.

"The election of regional heads should be returned and elected by the House of Representatives, unless the legislative elections and the presidential elections are conducted through direct elections," he said.

While the Papua Police Chief, Inspector General Boy Rafli Amar ensure the dispute that occurred in Mulia, the capital of Puncak Jaya Regency, due to provocations of political elites who capitalized community.

According to Boy, political elites have provided poor education to the community and they are exploited. "I deeply regret and also feel sorry there have been victims that push us to ordered Puncak Jaya Police to take firm action," Boy Rafli told reporters in Jayapura, Monday (3/7/2017) as quoted by Antara.

Pilkada results in Mulia are still being processed by the Constitutional Court. Boy suspects the supporters of mayor's candidates pair of Puncak Jaya region that provokes and attacks other groups already have a picture of the results of the elections that push their action.

Boy continued to proceed to Mulia on Tuesday (July 4) to see the current situation and conditions in the area. The fight against each other using traditional weapons took place in Mulia, last weekend, which left 20 people injured, one dead, and 15 honai (indigenous houses) burned.(*)

Source: http://tabloidjubi.com/eng/true-opm-would-not-be-involved-in-politics/

Australia urged to act over mass arrests in West Papua

Radio New Zealand International - July 10, 2017

The Australia West Papua Association is pushing for action from Canberra over another bout of mass arrests of West Papuans in neighbouring Indonesia.

Around 150 Papuans – mainly members of the pro-independence West Papua National Committee, or KNPB – were arrested between 30 June and 6 July in the city of Nabire.

The arrests stem from a KNPB-organised protest march to the Nabire police station to demand the release of one of the group's activists who had been missing for three days.

This led to the demonstrators themselves being detained amid a series of other arrests last week. The Association said among those arrested were people who were subject to torture, including children.

It had sent a letter to Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop over the arrests, urging her to press the Indonesian government for the release of all West Papuan activists.

A spokesman for the Association, Joe Collins, said it was pointless of governments to say Indonesia is now a democracy and human rights abuses are a thing of the past. He said the ongoing arrests of peaceful demonstrators prove otherwise.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/334829/australia-urged-to-act-over-mass-arrests-in-west-papua


Indonesian province may move canings away from public eye

New York Times - July 14, 2017

Jon Emont, Jakarta, Indonesia – Two months after Indonesia's most conservative province drew international headlines for publicly caning two young gay men for having sex with each other, the governor is considering making such whippings private to avoid negative news media attention and prevent any adverse impact on outside investment.

The proposed changes in Aceh Province have caused a stir in Indonesia ever since local news media reported that President Joko Widodo had met with the newly inaugurated governor, Irwandi Yusuf, to discuss ways to improve the province's international image.

In an interview with the local media, Vice Governor Nova Iriansyah said that because of the international attention on public whippings: "We will minimalize press coverage and conduct it inside prisons. Right now it's in front of the mosque, right after Friday prayers." He added, "I think the national government is right that we have to do something."

In a statement, the governor's office emphasized the provisional nature of the discussions to end public canings, noting that the decision required approval from Muslim scholars and Aceh's legislature.

Even as the Indonesian province considers moving the public floggings indoors, a highly conservative state in neighboring Malaysia, Kelantan, passed a law allowing it to become the first state in the country to hold public canings. Currently, caning in Malaysia is conducted in private, often in prison yards and away from crowds.

On caning days in Aceh, huge crowds gather to watch as convicts are publicly beaten, an event resembling a medieval spectacle. Longtime critics of public caning said they were glad to hear that the punishment might be phased out.

"It will mean nobody will be publicly humiliated anymore," said Ratna Sari, the head of Women's Solidarity, Aceh, a progressive group. Still, she said, it was only a "small step forward" since canings will still be conducted, only out of sight.

Two men accused of having sex with each other were each sentenced in May to 85 lashes in public, the first case of people being punished for homosexuality in the province under a strict version of Shariah law.

The sentences alarmed rights activists, who called the punishment a dangerous development in Aceh, a semiautonomous province on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. One of Indonesia's poorest provinces, a legacy of the three-decade civil war with Jakarta, it has received comparatively little investment from Jakarta-based conglomerates.

Mr. Irwandi, the pragmatic new governor, won office with a pledge to develop energy and infrastructure, and to ensure that Aceh's residents benefited from their province's natural resources, which include some of Indonesia's largest oil reserves. Some Acehnese politicians worry that investors from Jakarta and abroad are unnerved by news media portrayals of Aceh as an austere land where moral infractions are strictly punished.

The province, which was granted the right to establish Shariah after ending the brutal civil war with the government in 2005, has imposed a strict version of the legal code of Islam. Efforts to change how Shariah law is enforced are very controversial in Aceh. Hard-line Islamist groups have called on Mr. Joko not to interfere in the province's affairs, and the new governor is under fire at home for consulting with Jakarta on local Shariah ordinances.

Still, this is not the first time that Mr. Irwandi has stood up to hard-line Islamists. In a previous stint as governor, from 2007 to 2012, he refused to sign into law a version of Shariah that mandated adulterers be stoned to death. Ultimately, Aceh's Department of Shariah revised the criminal code and sent Parliament a new version without the provision on stoning.

In Malaysia on Wednesday, Kelantan's legislature, which is controlled by the conservative Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, amended the state's Shariah legal code to allow public punishment. Caning is a standard penalty in the country, meted out by both secular and Shariah courts.

Alia Affendy, the communications officer for Sisters in Islam, a group that advocates for a progressive version of Islam, denounced the new law. A news release from the organization referred to public caning as "a deplorable form of humiliation and shaming" that would build an "increasingly repressive environment."

Ms. Alia said in an interview that the new law was part of a broader national effort by conservative groups to alter Malaysia's legal code. "There is a big fundamentalist movement changing the law, not just at the state legislative level, but also at the federal level," she said.

Ultraconservative Muslims often back public forms of punishment, which they believe have greater deterrent value. "Shariah punishments must be executed in public," Kelantan's deputy chief minister, Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah, told Bernama, a state news agency.

Malaysia, a multiethnic nation of 30 million people, has a population that is 60 percent Muslim, though the country has large Chinese and Indian minorities who tend not to be Muslim. Politicians have been debating how public whippings would affect the country's image abroad, with Mohamed Nazri bin Abdul Aziz, the nation's tourism and culture minister, telling the news media that the whippings would not have an effect on tourism because tourists rarely visit Kelantan anyway.

Other politicians swiftly contradicted this assertion. "This can become a new Malaysian tourism product for Nazri to sell overseas so that non-Muslims, particularly those from developed nations, can see ancient and barbaric punishments being carried out in the democratic and modern Malaysia," said Zainuddin Maidin, a former information minister, according to the local news website Malaysiakini.com.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/14/world/asia/indonesia-aceh-caning.html

Worried about bad PR, Indonesia wants to keep its unlawful canings a

Gay Star News - July 13, 2017

Shannon Power – After an international outcry over the public caning of two gay men in Aceh, the province will make future canings private.

In May, two men in the early 20s were caned 83 times after being convicted of homosexual acts. They were caned in a public square in front of more than 3000 onlookers.

Aceh is the only Indonesian province which is allowed to enforce Islamic Sharia by-laws. Homosexuality in the rest of Indonesia is not illegal.

Irwandi Yusuf is Aceh's new governor has vowed to put an end it public floggings. He wants to move the punishment behind closed doors to avoid more bad PR for Aceh.

On Tuesday, Irwandi and his Vice-Governor Nova Iriansyah met with Indonesian President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo.

Jokowi was concerned the canings were attracting negative international attention and could affect foreign investment in Indonesia.

'There's the real perception and the one from outside the country, which is is not very good. Because of that, the President asked how the government of Aceh could explain that it was not like how it was being perceived,' Nova told Okezone.

Rather than ban the canings which violate international law, Aceh will take them out of the public eye. Canings will be carried out behind closed doors. End caning now

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for an end to caning in Aceh.

'But now Irwandi, recently elected governor for a second time, seems to be trying to gloss over a barbaric violation of basic rights,' said Kyle Knight, HRW's researcher, LGBT Rights Program.

'The government should be abolishing this brutal punishment and the abusive laws that allow it, not whitewashing flogging to mollify squeamish investors.

'He should make it clear to Irwandi that hiding abuses is not the same as ending them, and that the moral outrage over public floggings was not a one-time reaction. The world is watching.'

Source: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/indonesia-wants-keep-unlawful-canings-secret/

Now Indonesia wants to hide its floggings

Human Rights Watch - July 13, 2017

Kyle Knight – The authorities in Aceh – Indonesia's only province that implements full Sharia (Islamic law) – clearly feel stung by the international outcry they generated when police publicly flogged two gay men in May.

Their solution, it appears, is to put an end to public floggings. Instead, they're just going to flog people indoors, away from the cameras.

Aceh's position within Indonesia is unique. A 30-year separatist armed conflict seeded deep distrust between Acehnese and the national government. The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami led to a ceasefire that soon ended the war but wrought unprecedented devastation. A 2005 peace agreement made Aceh the only one of Indonesia's 34 provinces that can legally adopt bylaws derived from Sharia – although such provisions, modeled on Aceh's, are spreading nationwide. The province's 2014 criminal code prohibits all same-sex relations and mandates public caning as punishment.

Under its Sharia bylaws, Aceh caned 339 people last year for offenses ranging from gambling to adultery. The May caning of two gay men, who received 83 lashes each, appears to be Indonesia's first public caning for homosexuality and sparked considerable international outrage. Flogging as punishment is also recognized under international law as a form of torture, but that doesn't seem to have deterred Acehnese authorities so far. So what prompted the decision to end floggings in public?

Media reports suggest that Acehnese leaders are now worried that videos of May's flogging, which were widely circulated online, make the province unappealing for investors.

In 2014, I interviewed Aceh's former governor, Irwandi Yusuf about his white-knuckle escape from the tsunami and his 2007 election victory. A proud former rebel, Irwandi has long opposed Sharia's more extreme laws, and he even refused to sign a draft Sharia bylaw in 2009 that would have allowed adulterers to be stoned to death.

But now Irwandi, recently elected governor for a second time, seems to be trying to gloss over a barbaric violation of basic rights. The government should be abolishing this brutal punishment and the abusive laws that allow it, not whitewashing flogging to mollify squeamish investors.

Meanwhile, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who maintains that Indonesia is a beacon of moderation and tolerance, has failed to protect the rights of the country's beleaguered minorities.

He should make it clear to Irwandi that hiding abuses is not the same as ending them, and that the moral outrage over public floggings was not a one-time reaction. The world is watching.

[Kyle Knight – Researcher, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program.]

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/07/13/now-indonesia-wants-hide-its-floggings

Jokowi tells Aceh to be friendlier to would-be investors

Jakarta Post - July 12, 2017

Jakarta – Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf has said President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed him to encourage investment in the province.

"The President emphasized [that the provincial administration] should convince investors not to be hesitant about investing in Aceh," Irwandi told reporters after meeting with the President at the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Tuesday.

Irwandi, however, admitted that security and the province's restive history remained nagging issues for investors.

Irwandi was installed for a second term in office after winning the recent gubernatorial election. He will serve until 2021.

According to Irwandi, the region shows relatively low crime rates compared to other provinces across the archipelago. He has asked the central government and Indonesia's ambassadors abroad to actively campaign for his province in order to convince investors about the opportunities available in the country's westernmost province.

"We will also fully support the central government's programs, such as toll road construction, special economic zone development and irrigation projects," Irwandi said. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/12/jokowi-tells-aceh-to-be-friendlier-to-would-be-investors.html

Women's rights & gender

Komnas Perempuan knocks on door of presidential office for assistance

Jakarta Post - July 12, 2017

Jakarta – The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) is seeking assistance from the Presidential Working Unit for the Implementation of Pancasila as the State Ideology (UKP-PIP) in the fight against discrimination against women.

The commission sees the working unit as a new instrument to advocate for the revocation of 421 discriminative regional policies imposed in regions across the country.

"We expect President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo will allow us to meet with the presidential working unit to discuss these discriminative policies," Komnas Perempuan chairwoman Azriana said on Monday.

The number of discriminative regional policies has drastically increased in the past six years from 154 in 2010 to 421 in 2016. These policies range from bylaws issued by governors and regents to circulars issued by village heads.

The commission's concern over the growing number of discriminative policies has increased after the Constitutional Court ruled in April in favor of a judicial review that demanded the Home Ministry be stripped of its authority to revoke regional bylaws.

"The only way to revoke bylaws now is through the Supreme Court. The problem is that the Court only examines the available documents, so we don't have a chance to actively participate in the hearing process," Azriana said. (yon)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/12/komnas-perempuan-knocks-on-door-of-presidential-office-for-assistance.html

Labour & migrant workers

Bolder measures sought for companies ignoring holiday bonuses

Jakarta Post - July 14, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) has called on the government to impose tougher measures on companies refusing to pay holiday bonuses (THR) to their employees.

Citing a report released on Thursday, the Jakarta-based rights advocacy group said during the period of June 15 to July 3, 63 individuals and groups from across Indonesia had submitted 1,411 THR-related complaints for this year's Idul Fitri.

It shows a significant increase from the number of complaints submitted last year, when only 98 complaints were lodged by 19 individuals and groups.

"Most of them complained because they had not received their Idul Fitri bonuses," LBH Jakarta activist Aprilia Tengker told journalists on Thursday.

LBH found that 34 of the total 64 complaints reported that companies refused to pay THR while 14 others said their THR payments were delayed. The remaining 15 complaints stated various problems, such as the amount of THR paid by companies not being in accordance with the Manpower and Transmigration Minister Regulation (Permenaker) on religious festivity allowance payment.

LBH Jakarta has opened posts for workers to lodge complaints since 2010. The step was taken to defend the rights of workers. However, the group said, it had not yet seen improvements in the approach taken by the government to deal with companies violating the Permenaker.

"The pattern of complaints are similar with what we received when we first opened the post seven years ago," said another LBH Jakarta public activist, Eny Rofiatul. (hol/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/14/bolder-measures-sought-for-companies-ignoring-holiday-bonuses.html

Freedom of assembly & association

Government has strong reason for issuing Perppu: Minister

Antara News - July 15, 2017

Jakarta – Minister of Home Affairs Tjahjo Kumolo said that the government has a solid reason for issuing Government Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) No. 2 Year of 2017 on Amendment of Law No. 17 Year of 2013 on Mass Organizations (Ormas).

"The government has a strong reason for issuing the Perppu. The existing law is no longer adequate (to handle errant Ormas)," Tjahjo Kumolo stated in Jakarta on Saturday.

"There are three main considerations of the government in issuing the Perppu. The governments step to issue the Perppu is in line with the decision of the Constitutional Court Number 138/PUU-VII/2009. It suggests that a Perppu could be issued based on the presence of compelling situation to solve legal problems quickly based on the law," Kumolo noted.

Thus, according to Kumolo, the Perppu can be issued if the absence of legal provisions could not be overcome by a new law that could not be produced quickly. "The existing legal regulation is not sufficient," the minister remarked.

After all, the process of drafting Perppu No. 2 Year of 2017 also involved many parties.

"Among them were the government, lawyers, academics, religious leaders, customary leaders, community leaders, and other parties," Kumolo revealed, stressing that Perppu No.2 year of 2017 does not target any particular religion or organization.

"It is (issued) as part of the states obligation to protect the states sovereignty based on Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution," Tjahjo added.

According to the minister, the government is currently preparing concrete steps to implement Perppu No. 2/1017 without exerting the repressive way as was rumored of late.

"The government team, chaired by the chief minister for political, legal and security affairs, has been working and collecting information related to mass organizations, which have violated the regulations," he remarked.(*)

Source: http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/111865/government-has-strong-reason-for-issuing-perppu-minister

LBH Jakarta: 'Anyone labeled anti-Pancasila or supporting separatism

Liputan6 - July 15, 2017

Jakarta – Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) Executive Director Alghiffari Aqsa says that Government Regulation in Lieu of Law Number 2/2017 on Revisions to Law Number 17/2013 on Social Organisations or Perppu Ormas is prone to misuse by the government.

Alghiffari suspects that the government will arbitrarily stigmatise social organisations deemed to be against the state ideology of Pancasila, not just Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), but other social organisations as well.

The issuance of the Perppu Ormas, said Alghiffari, also has the potential to threaten organisations that have been critical of the government. Especially the LBH Jakarta which often handles cases and provides advocacy to protect the rights of groups that are deemed enemies of the state.

"With this Perppu the LBH could be threatened. In the sense that we are often stigmatised as supporter of communists and separatists", said Alghiffari in the Menteng area of Central Jakarta on Saturday July 15.

Alghiffari is also concerned that the Perppu Ormas will violate freedom of association and human rights. Not just for the HTI, which is repeatedly referred to as an anti-Pancasila organisation, but other social organisations as well.

"And anyone labeled as being anti-Pancasila (under the Perppu Ormas) or supporting separatism will be eliminated", concluded Alghiffari.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Perppu Ormas Terbit, Ini yang Dikhawatirkan LBH Jakarta".]

Source: http://news.liputan6.com/read/3023705/perppu-ormas-terbit-ini-yang-dikhawatirkan-lbh-jakarta

What are the political party's positions on the new social organisations

Detik News - July 14, 2017

Andhika Prasetia, Jakarta – The government has issued Government Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) Number 2/2017 on Social Organisations. It has already been received by the House of Representatives (DPR) and will be deliberated at the next sitting of the House.

Although it has yet to be officially discussed, all of the political party factions in the DPR have expressed their views on the Perppu. There are some that reject it and some that accept it – for various different reasons. What are the positions of the different factions on Perppu Number 2/2017? The following is a summary of their positions compiled by Detik.com:

1. PDI-P

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has confirmed its support for that government in issuing Perppu 2/2017 on social organisations. The Perppu will be a legal instrument for the government to combat and act against social organisations that oppose the state ideology of Pancasila.

"The PDI-P along with other political parties backing the government support the government's decision to issue this Perppu", said PDI-P Secretary General Hasto Kristiyanto at the PDI-P headquarters on Jl. Diponegoro in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Thursday July 13.

The PDI-P, said Hasto, hopes that other factions in the DPR will agree with the Perppu that was signed into law by President Joko Widodo on Monday July 10.

2. Golkar

With the issuance of Perppu 2/2017, the government can dissolve anti-Pancasila social organisations without going through the courts. The Golkar Party faction is of the view that this does not violate human rights.

"No, it doesn't (violate human rights). People in different countries have their own regulations. There are also many advanced democratic countries where if there is a potential threat to the unity of the state and the nation they often take preventative action. Don't let the values of the nation be destroyed", said Golkar faction member Ace Hasan at the DPR building in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday July 12.

3. PKB

The National Awakening Party (PKB) accepts the Perppu 2/2017 and will invite other factions in the DPR to support the dissolution of radical social organisations though the Perppu.

"The PKB will accept this Perppu and will invite the [other] parties to accept it because it is necessary in the name of and for the national interest", said PKB Deputy Secretary General Abdul Malik Haramain when contacted by Detik.com on Wednesday.

Under the Perppu 2/2017 it stipulates that the legal status of an anti-Pancasila social organisation can be revoked simply through two administrative sanctions without going through the courts. The initial sanctions are two written warnings over a period of seven days and then the freezing of the organisation's activities.

4. PPP

United Development Party (PPP) Secretary General Arsul Sani says that the political parties that make up the government coalition support the Perppu 2/2017 because social organisations that are against the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) must be dissolved.

"When there is any kind of movement, whether it be based on colour, race, or whatever, if then it can rationally be concluded that it represents a threat to the four [pillars of] our national consensus (Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution, NKRI and Unity in Diversity) then they can indeed be eliminated", said Arsul at the DPR building on Wednesday.

5. Hanura

The People's Conscience Party (Hanura) faction in the DPR supports the government's issuance of the Perppu saying that the state cannot be half-hearted about action against radical social organisations.

"Hanura does of course agree with the government. [The old] Law Number 17/2013 [on Social Organisations] makes the freezing or dissolution of radical social organisations difficult to carry out because the process is long and depends on a court ruling, yet a permit for the establishment of a social organisation lies with the government through the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights", Hanura faction secretary Dadang Rusdiana told journalists on Thursday.

6. NasDem

The National Democrats Party (NasDem) agrees with the Perppu giving the example of the social organisation Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) that it believes should be dissolved.

"Any organisation like that (anti-Pancasila) that does not heed the state ideology and does not agree with the Indonesian state must be dissolved. Not just by means of this Perppu, but by other means we would also agree", said NasDem politician at the DPR building on Wednesday.

7. PAN

Although it is part of the government coalition the National Mandate Party (PAN) does not support the Perppu. The PAN, which is one of the parties that supports the government, believes the issuance of the Perppu is not a solution to dealing with social organisations that are deemed to be anti-Pancasila.

"The Perppu is not a solution to confront social organisations that are deemed problematic by the government", said PAN central leadership board chairperson Yandri at the parliamentary complex in Senayan on Thursday.

8. PKS

The Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) believe that there are a number of catch-all articles that are extremely subjective in the Perppu. The PKS will support any parties that decide to submit a request for a judicial review of the law.

"I will be very supportive if anyone submits a judicial review with the Constitutional Court because potentially this Perppu is not in accordance with the Constitution. At the very least Article 1 Paragraph 3, Article 28d Paragraph 1 and Article 28e Paragraph 3", said PKS advisory board deputy chairperson Hidayat Nur Wahid at the parliamentary complex on Thursday.

9. Gerindra

The Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) faction at the DPR opposes President Widodo's issuance of the Perppu saying there was no pressing need for the government to issue it.

"This Perppu, the President, it was too simple. This is about the social organisation law. The social organisation law, before, I still remember, in the previous period was enacted through a vote at the DPR's plenary committee", said Gerindra faction chairperson Ahmad Muzani at the DPR building on Thursday.

10. Democrats

The Democrat Party in the DPR says it has yet to decide whether it will accept or reject the Perppu and will study the matter first.

"In relation to the Perppu Ormas, we are in the process of carrying out a study and in depth analysis by considering all the different aspects and interests and the life of the nation and state", Democrat faction secretary Didik Mukrianto told journalists on Thursday. (dkp/elz)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Peta 10 Fraksi di DPR soal Perppu Ormas".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-3559861/peta-10-fraksi-di-dpr-soal-perppu-ormas

DPR Twitter poll on Perppu removed after majority of respondents express

Kiblat.net - July 13, 2017

Furqon Amrullah, Jakarta – The House of Representative's (DPR) official Twitter account (@DPR_RI) held a poll following the issuance of Government Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) Number 2/2017 on Social Organisations. The poll however suddenly vanished from circulation leading many netizens to ask why.

The account @DPR_RI opened the poll on Wednesday July 12 at 8.05pm. "The government has issued Perppu No. 2/2017 on Revisions to Law No. 17/2013 on Social Organisations, what is your opinion?", wrote @DPR_RI.

The poll offered four answers to choose from: "I agree", "I don't agree", "It's not appropriate", and "I don't care". It was planned that the poll would remain open for five days.

In less than 24 hours the poll had already produced a result with the choice "I agree" netting 37 percent, "I do not agree" 58 percent, "It's not appropriate" 4 percent and "I don't care" 2 percent.

At around 11.20pm on Thursday July 13 however, the poll disappeared from the @DPR_RI account page. Netizens were left asking why the poll disappeared.

"How come the poll was deleted @DPR_RI, yeah it's a bit suspicious...", wrote the owner of the account @minatrie.

The owner of the account @Shiwie6 also questioned why the Perppu poll had vanished. "@Sarah_Pndj @b3811nez @DPR_RI hey how come it was deleted min @DPR_RI? Lots of people who support you were there right??", they wrote.

Then there was a caustic comment from @frans_surya who suggested that the page was removed because so many respondents opposed the Perppu. "The account @DPR_RI has deleted the poll on Perppu No. 2 2017. Because [you] lost yeah?", it quipped.

An equally sharp comment was made by @Azp_airzone. "The Dpr poll's been deleted,,, perhaps there were bani benteng and bani caleng [children of bulls and children of wild boors] who were feeling the heat", they wrote. [Referring to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, the principal supporter of the law]

"Finally the misguided poll made by admin @DPR_RI, HAS BEEN DELETED, guess which party is the administrator of the account @DPR_RI? Gerindra, PKS, PAN/Democrat?", wrote another user. [A rhetorical question as these are parties in the DPR that do not support the Perppu]


1. Kiblat.net, which describes itself as a independent voice for the Muslim community, is a right-wing Islamic website that actively supports groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the campaign against former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama which led to his conviction and jailing for blasphemy.

2. With the exception of the National Mandate Party (PAN), all of the political parties that make up the government's ruling coalition in the DPR support the Perppu. The Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) and the "opposition" parties the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) oppose the Perppu while the Democrat Party is yet to make its position known.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Polling di Akun Twitter DPR RI Tanggapi Perppu Ormas Menghilang, Netizen Curiga".]

Source: https://www.kiblat.net/2017/07/13/polling-di-akun-twitter-dpr-tanggapi-perppu-ormas-menghilang-netizen-curiga/

Indonesian President labelled a 'dictator' as ban on hard-line Islamist

ABC Radio Australia - July 13, 2017

Samantha Hawley, Indonesia – The Indonesian Government's decision to ban groups that do not support the nation's ideologies has been condemned by human rights groups and will be challenged in the nation's constitutional court.

On Wednesday the Government announced the equivalent of a presidential decree, which was clearly aimed at hard-line Islamic groups that most recently led mass protests against Jakarta's now jailed Christian Governor Busuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok.

In the firing line are groups like Hizbut Tahrir (HTI), which immediately lashed out at the decision, describing President Joko Widodo as a dictator.

"The Government hopes for people to remain calm," Indonesia Security Minister and formal General Wiranto said in announcing the presidential order, known in Indonesia as a Perppu.

"It's meant solely for maintaining unity, to maintain the oneness of the nation." The minister refused to outline which mass organisation they would try to shut down first.

But those like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), who worked to have Ahok jailed for blasphemy, are also undoubtedly the target.

Widodo accused of being dictator president

HTI supports an Islamic state and the implementation of sharia law across the country, but is not known for violence and is legal in Australia. It immediately announced its decision to challenge the measure in the constitutional court.

"We'll study this kind of law and after that we will maybe make a new strategy so that we can continue our activity," HTI's Indonesian spokesman Ismail Yusanto told the ABC.

He condemned Mr Widodo and rejected suggestions that HTI was radical. "No, no, no. Please consider us truly Muslim," he said. "Joko Widodo has become a dictator President."

Ban a 'backward move' for democracy in Indonesia

Indonesian analysts and human rights groups expressed concern at the measure, which has not been passed through the Indonesian Parliament or tested in the courts.

"This Perppu is a threat to democracy and the constitution," legal expert Irman Sidin told the ABC. He said it was the first time a government had issued such a ruling since the fall of former dictator Suharto.

"In my opinion, the content of the Perppu is a backward move for democracy in this country," former justice minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra said. "It opens up a chance for arbitrariness and it's not in line with objectives of reform."

Human Rights Watch also condemned the move, describing it as draconian, while others linked the decision to the battle for the presidency.

An election is due to be held in 2019.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2017-07-13/indonesian-president-labelled-a-dictator-as-ban-on-hardline-islamist-organisations-condemned-by-some/1685568

'A cannon to shoot sparrows': New Indonesian anti-Islamist law slammed

CNN - July 13, 2017

Ben Westcott – An Indonesian government decree that allows the country's president to disband religious and civil society organizations without a right of appeal has been condemned by human rights organizations.

Announced Wednesday, the newly revised law is the latest shot in the ongoing war between Indonesian President Joko Widodo's administration and the hardline Islamic groups which have plagued his presidency in recent years.

"There is a logic in it for Widodo, for this government... but this is like using a cannon to shoot sparrows, it is like burning a barn just to catch some mice. It is just overkill," Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono told CNN.

The new decree, which revises a previous law from 2013, removes the need for court approval when disbanding an organization, and introduces criminal penalties for disobeying the law, including long periods in prison, according to local media.

"We will have legal support to act whenever there are mass organizations that are clearly endangering the country's ideology by contradicting it," Indonesian Minister for Politics, Security and Law, Wiranto, said at a press conference Wednesday, adding the previous law was no longer "sufficient." Wiranto only goes by one name.

Right groups expressed concern the new laws could be used to target a far wider range of religious and minority groups, not just at a federal level but in provinces and cities.

"This law is a dangerous law... it is of course a breach of the right to freedom of assembly, it is a breach of freedom of speech and freedom of thought," said Harsono.

The law still needs to be approved by Indonesia's parliament before it comes into effect, but as Widodo's coalition has a large parliamentary majority the law's passage is almost certain.

Widodo vs conservative Islam

The new law is widely considered to be the first step in the government's plans to ban conservative Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir in Indonesia.

Hizbut Tahrir is an international Islamic organization which supports a global caliphate run in accordance with Shariah law. The group has been banned in more than a dozen countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China and Russia.

Harsono estimated Hizbut Tahrir have about 40,000 members in Indonesia, who have called for change through non-violent means.

Conservative groups such as Hizbut Tahrir have been a thorn in the side of democratically elected Widodo – who supports religious pluralism – holding mass demonstrations against religious minorities, LGBT people and anyone they perceive to have blasphemed Islam.

They were among those calling for the imprisonment of Jakarta governor and Widodo ally Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, who was sentenced to two years prison for blasphemy.

In May, Minister Wiranto announced a move to ban the group, according to local media, while Widodo said other organizations were also being considered for a potential ban.

The actual process of banning an organization has been streamlined dramatically, University of New South Wales senior lecturer Melissa Crouch told CNN.

"The original law contained a number of stages in the warning process and involved seeking the permission of the courts. These (18 provisions) have now all been deleted," she said.

Crouch said the new legislation centralized power with the minister responsible and cancellation could occur as soon as the offense was registered.

"Instead of asking a group that breaches the law from ceasing activities for a time, the amendment now says they must cease their activities immediately, no allowances given."

Rights organizations condemn ban

The decree allows for the banning of groups which go against Indonesia's founding principles of Pancasila, which calls for religious tolerance and diversity, according to Wiranto.

But the law's vague wording and the inclusion of references to separatist and "Marxist" groups mean it could be used against religious minorities and advocates for Papuan independence, human rights groups said.

"Peaceful political activism (by independence groups) is already severely restricted and hundreds of people have been arrested and imprisoned for such activities," Amnesty International said in a report.

Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty called for the law to be revised or removed. Director of Jakarta's Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, Sidney Jones, said the law could force conservative Islamic groups underground or worse.

"There is a possibility that some Hizbut Tahrir members will decide to turn more militant, though probably not a lot. I think the bigger issue is that the organization itself will survive but survive on a clandestine basis, and that's no good for anybody," she said.

Widodo could simply have used the original law in its more complicated form to tackle the group, Jones said. "The easiest thing to do would be not to try to ban Hizbut Tahrir at all, especially since it's never been involved in violence," she said.

Harsono said the law could be challenged in Indonesia's Constitutional Court or revised in parliament but that could take "years."

Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/13/asia/indonesia-widodo-group-ban/index.html

Jokowi forges a tool of repression

New Mandala - July 13, 2017

Usman Hamid & Liam Gammon – On 10 July, Jokowi signed a Regulation in Lieu of Law (Peraturan Pemerintah Pengganti Undang Undang/Perppu) amending the 2013 Law on Societal Organisations (UU Ormas). In doing so, the president has mounted a serious attack on legal protections of freedom of association in Indonesia.

In assigning sweeping powers to the Minister for Law and Human Rights to ban any organisation deemed to oppose the official ideology of Pancasila, or 'national unity', Jokowi has placed the legal existence of every NGO and civic organisation in Indonesia at the mercy of a unilateral executive decision.

The Perppu is required by law to be either made permanent or disallowed by the Indonesian parliament (DPR) within its next sitting period (within three months from 16 August). If confirmed by the parliament, the new legislation could be a formidable tool of political repression in the hands of any future authoritarian president. Indonesian civil society should collectively oppose this move, and support efforts to challenge its constitutionality. Political parties represented in the DPR should refuse to approve the Perppu.

Crackdown on Islamist activism

The government's rationale for the Perppu was outlined in a statement by Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security, Wiranto. It read that the 2013 UU Ormas "is no longer sufficient as a means of preventing the spread of ideologies opposed to Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia", and that the Law's "understanding of teachings and actions that contradict Pancasila are narrowly formulated, i.e. they are only limited to teachings of Atheism, Marxism and Leninism, whereas Indonesian history proves that other teachings can also replace and contradict Pancasila."

On that basis, the statement continued, the government was justified in exercising its power to enact Perppu in times of emergency or to fill a "legal void" or kekosongan hukum. The statement also included the reassurance that "it must be underlined that this Perppu is not meant to discredit Islamic organisations, let along the Muslim community, which forms the majority population in Indonesia."

The last of these remarks undoubtedly alludes to the government's recent announcement of its intent to dissolve Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI). On 8 May, Wiranto announced to the public that the Indonesian government proposed to ban HTI – a legally registered association – on the grounds that its mission is not compatible with the 1945 Constitution and Pancasila and is therefore in violation of UU Ormas.

There will certainly be plenty of analysis of the political background to the Perppu to come, and why the government was so eager to remove the legal barriers to banning HTI by issuing this Perppu. What's important now is to highlight just how serious an assault on legal protections of freedom of association in Indonesia the Perppu represents.

Broadening the definition of 'anti-Pancasila' activity

The Perppu is essentially an amendment-by-decree of Law No.17/2013 on Societal Organisations (Undang Undang Organisasi Kemayarakatan/UU Ormas). UU Ormas requires that the basic principles of any registered civil organisation should not contradict Pancasila (Article 2). This provision itself is incompatible with the guarantee of freedom of association contained in Article 28E of the Indonesian Constitution, as well as Indonesia's international human rights obligations as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

What is alarming about Perppu 2/2017 is that its key provisions remove the legal checks on the executive's power to sanction or proscribe organisations that existed in UU Ormas. The Perppu both expands the grounds on which an organisation can be declared to be at odds with Pancasila – and hence a candidate for dissolution – and strips out any role for the judiciary in overseeing a government's decision to suspend a group's activities or revoke its legal status.

Article 59 of the Perppu strengthens the grounds for dissolution of organisations, specifically allowing organisations to be dissolved if they are found to be:

This is on top of the existing provisions of Article 59(4) of UU Ormas, which prohibit organisations from "holding, promoting, as well as disseminating teachings or concepts which contradict Pancasila."

In practical terms, the Perppu may reduce the space for political activists or dissenters in places like Papua and Maluku to peacefully advocate for referenda, independence, or political solutions in ways that do not involve incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence. Both these areas have a history of pro-independence movements where peaceful political activism is already severely restricted.

Removing checks and balances

Article 59(3) of the Perppu deletes the provision of UU Ormas that governments should "engage in efforts at persuasion before applying administrative sanctions upon organisations that commit violations as stipulated in Articles 21 and 59" as a first resort in disciplining an organisation thought to be in violation of the Law. Instead, under the Perppu, any organisation deemed to violate the terms of its Article 59 will be immediately subject to administrative sanctions.

Articles 62-80 of UU Ormas set out a lengthy legal procedure by which the government had to apply these sanctions. This began with providing multiple written warnings, followed by temporary suspension of public grant money, or temporarily freezing the organisation's activities for up to 6 months. Under the elucidation to Article 61(c), "activities" specifically did not include internal activities such as internal meetings.

Depending on whether an organisation was operating at the regional or national level, governments also had to seek the legal opinion of the Supreme Court or local parliaments, police and prosecutors before suspending its activities. The final, most serious step of revoking an organisation's legal status could occur only with a court's approval (Article 68), and the government was required to provide evidence that it had exhausted all of the above administrative sanctions (Article 70 Paragraph 3 and 4).

Even at this final stage, according to the original UU Ormas, an organisation had the right to explain and defend itself from the threat of disbandment (Article 70 Paragraph 7), and an organisation had the right to appeal a lower court's order to disband it in the Supreme Court (Article 73-78).

The Perppu strikes out every one of these articles of the UU Ormas in one fell swoop, dramatically simplifying the process by which the government can ban and dissolve an organisation, and removes any role for the judiciary in approving or supervising this process.

Under the Perppu's provisions, the Minister for Law and Human Rights need only issue a written warning once to an errant organisation (Article 61 Paragraph 1). After a period of 7 working days, the minister can directly freeze its activities (Article 61 Paragraph 2). The Perppu also deletes the elucidation of UU Ormas Article 61(2) that excludes internal business from the freeze; under the Perppu, even internal meetings are illegal while an organisation's activities are frozen.

If the organisation does not comply with such an order to suspend its activities, the minister may revoke the organisation's legal status (Article 61 Paragraph 3). There is no provision in the Perppu for an organisation subject to sanctions to challenge the government's decision at any stage.

It is possible that a Letter of Decision (Surat Keputusan/SK) issued by a minister to ban or disband an organisation could be challenged in the State Administrative Court (Pengadilan Tata Usaha Negeri/PTUN). But the basis of the challenge could only be whether the minister has followed the procedures for banning a group as laid out in the Perppu – it is not clear whether a PTUN could second guess the reasoning of the government in deeming an organisation to be "anti-Pancasila".

Criminal penalties

UU Ormas made no mention of criminal penalties for any person for leading or being a member of an organisation banned under its provisions. It contained only a general provision (Article 81) that members of organisations who individually or collectively committed crimes should be prosecuted according to existing – by implication, other – laws and regulations. Until now, being part of a suspended or disbanded organisation has not in itself been a criminal offence.

Alarmingly, the Perppu introduces the possibility of criminal penalties for members of organisations judged to have engaged in activities deemed illegal according to the UU Ormas as amended by the Perppu.

For example, the Perppu's Article 82A sets out the penalties for membership of ormas deemed to violate various provisions of Article 59 (see our discussion of this above). For instance, members and administrators of ormas which commit "acts of hostility" or blasphemy can be imprisoned for between 5-20 years, or even for life. Significantly, "acts of hostility", according to the Perppu's amendments of UU Ormas' elucidation of Article 59(3), include any "speech, statement, attitude, or aspiration, either verbal or written, via electronic or non-electronic media, that causes hate, either against certain groups or any person, including state administrators."

Meanwhile, Article 82A stipulates that membership or leadership of organisations which commit acts of violence, vigilantism, or vandalism may be imprisoned for only 6-12 months.

Such harsh penalties merely for being a member of an organisation deemed to violate Article 59 are deeply concerning on human rights grounds, given the apparent ease with which the Perppu will allow the government to sanction and proscribe organisations. Moreover, it is not clear from Article 82A of the Perppu whether an organisation must be formally sanctioned under Articles 60, 61, 62, or 80A before its members are liable to be prosecuted criminally. Nor is it clear who determines whether an organisation is in violation of Article 59 for the purposes of applying criminal penalties under Article 82A.

A threat to Indonesian civil society

It is important to stress just how wide-ranging an effect this Perppu has on the legal rights of Indonesian civic organisations. The definition of an 'Ormas' under Chapter IV of UU Ormas includes basically every civic organisation in Indonesia – from Amnesty International to Nadhlatul Ulama to the supporter groups of many political parties.

Consider the possible scenarios if the Perppu is converted to permanent law by the DPR. What if a future government deems an NGO campaigning for LGBT rights to be a threat to "values of religion, culture, morals, ethics, and norms of decency" under Article 21 of UU Ormas? What about a think tank advocating on Papua issues that a minister deems to be promoting separatism? There would be no meaningful legal roadblocks for the executive to declare such organisations illegal, and possibly seek to imprison their members.

One option that is being pursued by Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia is a challenge to the constitutionality of the Perppu in the Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi/MK). Such a challenge may raise the issue of whether the Perppu was a genuine response to an emergency situation (which the MK has previously ruled has to be present for the decision to issue a Perppu to be valid), or whether its contents violate the Indonesian Constitution's protections of freedom of association (Article 28E).

There are many ways for the Indonesian government to combat radicalism and defend social cohesion. Removing almost all meaningful legal protections of freedom of association is not the way to do that. Indonesia's pluralist politicians and civil society are understandably deeply antagonistic towards the anti-democratic mission of groups like Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia. So are we. But we should recognise that the same laws that protect HTI from arbitrary state action are the ones that protect the forces of democracy and human rights as well.

[Usman Hamid is the Director of Amnesty International Indonesia. He holds a law degree from Trisakti University and completed an MPhil at the Department of Political and Social Change in the ANU's Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. Liam Gammon is a PhD Candidate at the ANU's Department of Political and Social Change, and is the editor of New Mandala.]

Source: http://www.newmandala.org/jokowi-forges-tool-repression/

Indonesian rights activists protest crackdown on hardline Islamists

Reuters - July 13, 2017

Jakarta – Civil organisations in Indonesia on Wednesday (12/07) decried a move by the government to disband certain groups deemed to be in conflict with state's secular ideology.

The protests came after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo signed a decree on Monday widely believed to be aimed at containing the rise of hardline Islamist groups that call for sharia law in the world's largest Muslim-majority country.

Islamist groups were instrumental in the downfall earlier this year of Jakarta's former governor, a Christian who was accused and subsequently jailed for insulting Islam.

The events, including massive and sometimes violent rallies led by hardliners and vigilantes, raised concerns about the erosion of Indonesia's long-standing image as a tolerant and pluralistic state. It has the world's largest Muslim population.

"This decree is proof that this regime is repressive, authoritarian, and even repeating what the New Order regime did," Ismail Yusanto, spokesman for Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, referring to the rule of former strongman president Suharto, said in a statement that was echoed by human rights groups.

Suharto ruled Indonesia for 32 years during which he demanded loyalty to the secular state ideology Pancasila – or "five principles" – and discouraged the organisation of religious groups.

His downfall in 1998 ushered in democratic reforms, and alongside them a new-found freedom for hardline Islamist groups, many of which have been involved in harassing and violently attacking religious minorities, feminists and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups.

Conservative Islamic civil society groups and New York-based Human Rights Watch also criticized the government's move.

Hizb-ut Tahrir is a peaceful organisation that calls for sharia (Islamic law) to be implemented in Indonesia and the government has said it will be disbanded.

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population and sizeable communities of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and people who adhere to traditional beliefs. Religious freedom is enshrined in the constitution and the Pancasila.

The new decree allows for the government to disband organisations deemed to run counter to the Pancasila without taking them to court.

"It must be underscored that this decree is not intended to discredit Islamic organisations or the majority Muslim population of Indonesia," chief security minister Wiranto told reporters on Wednesday.

"It has been issued in the national interest." He added that the decree had the backing of Indonesia's biggest moderate Islamic groups, which have millions of followers.

The decree adds that civil organisations are "not allowed to carry out activities that are the responsibility of law enforcement officials", in a reference to Islamist vigilante and anti-vice groups accused of harassing minorities.

The decree comes after public outrage over the jailing of ex-Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who many believe was unfairly targeted and represents the crumbling of Indonesia's pluralistic tradition.

President Jokowi recently told Reuters that he believes the country's reputation for moderate Islam remains intact and that "pluralism has always been a part of the Indonesia's DNA".

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesian-rights-activists-protest-crackdown-hardline-islamists/

Justice Minister says new powers to ban organisations won't just be used

Arrahmah News - July 12, 2017

Jakarta – Justice and Human Rights Minister (Menkumham) Yasonna Laoly says that the new Government Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) on Social Organisations (Ormas) is not just intended for the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI).

According to Laoly, there is more than one social organisation that is against the state ideology of Pancasila that will be banned through the Perppu.

"No way, how could it be just one", said Laoly at the House of Representatives (DPR) building in Senayan, Jakarta, on Wednesday July 12.

Laoly said that Coordinating Minister for Security, Political and Legal Affairs (Menko Polhukam) Wiranto would be explaining the Perppu in detail. "It will be announced later by Pak Menko, it's Pak Menko's job to speak about it", he explained.

Laoly also outlined the government's reasons for issuing the Perppu rather than pursuing legal means to ban a social organisation.

"Because the old Law on Social Organisations makes it almost impossible to us to carry out a ban like that. It's very difficult. We can't just leave it as is until something unpleasant happens in the future", he said.

Laoly denied that the government is afraid of losing in court if it pursues legal channels to ban an organisation. "It's not like that. We listened to all the experts. Later Pak Menko will announce it", he said.

Laoly is also sure that the Perppu Ormas will be upheld by the DPR later". "I'm absolutely certain", he concluded. [ARN]

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "Menkumham: Perpu 2/17 Akan Bubarkan Lebih dari Satu Ormas Bukan Hanya HTI".]

Source: https://arrahmahnews.com/2017/07/12/menkumham-perpu-217-akan-bubarkan-lebih-dari-satu-ormas-bukan-hanya-hti/

Indonesia introduces new power to ban mass organisations that threaten

Sydney Morning Herald - July 12, 2017

Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies, Jakarta – Indonesia has introduced new powers enabling the government to ban mass organisations considered to threaten the unity of the country without going through the courts.

The new regulation paves the way for a ban on hardline Islamist group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), which promotes a global caliphate governed by sharia.

The government announced plans in May to disband HTI, arguing its activities violated the principles of Pancasila, Indonesia's pluralist state ideology, and the 1945 Constitution.

However under the existing law this was an onerous process that could take up to four years. The 2013 law on mass organisations required three warnings before the decision to dissolve an organisation was made by a court.

Chief Security Minister Wiranto said on Wednesday there were some mass organisations in Indonesia that posed a clear threat to the nation.

He said the new government regulation gave the ministries of Law and Human Rights and Home Affairs the authority to revoke the permits of mass organisations it found to be against Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution.

"This is not meant to limit freedom of assembly, it is merely aimed at maintaining unity and safeguarding the nation's existence," Mr Wiranto said. "It is not an arbitrary act of government."

Mr Wiranto said the regulation was not intended to discredit Islamic mass organisations. It is effective immediately but will be presented to parliament within six months, where it could either be overruled or passed into law.

HTI spokesman Ismail Yusanto told Fairfax Media the organisation was still discussing the new regulation.

A ban on Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia has the support of many Muslim organisations – 14 of them, including the country's largest, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), issued a statement on July 7 declaring the movement a national security threat.

However many other rights activists argue a ban would be a violation of freedom of association and a throwback to the authoritarian Suharto regime, which used a government decree to ban the Indonesian Communist Party, or PKI, in 1966.

Hizbut Tahrir, which was founded in 1953 in Jerusalem as a Sunni Muslim organisation, rejects democracy and the nation state but does not advocate violence to achieve its ends.

It is banned in countries including Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, China and much of the Middle East, but is largely tolerated in the West, except for Germany, where it is barred from public activities.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott flagged cracking down on Hizbut Tahrir in Australia, saying there was "no place in our community for organisations or individuals who nurture extremism, propagate hatred and radicalise young Australians".

The push to ban it in Australia intensified in 2014 after spokesman Wassim Doureihi refused to directly condemn the acts of Islamic State during an interview on the ABC's Lateline.

Former Australian Army military intelligence officer Clive Williams, now an academic, has said he doubts proscribing Hizbut Tahrir in Australia would achieve any desirable or useful purpose.

He wrote in Fairfax Media in 2014 that a ban would add weight to Hizbut Tahrir's supporters' claims that Muslim views that are not acceptable to mainstream Australian opinion are not tolerated and it could drive the organisation underground.

In Indonesia, the organisation played a large role in the massive blasphemy protests in Jakarta against the capital's then governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok.

Some analysts interpret the crackdown as part of a push back against ultra-conservative Islamic groups ahead of the 2019 elections.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo told chief editors at the State Palace in May that he would "gebuk" [clobber] any group that sought to replace Pancasila and the Constitution.

The general secretary of the Supreme Council of NU, Yahya Cholil Staquf, said HTI should never have been given legal status under the former government.

"HTI has an agenda against the Constitution, it wants to replace the Constitution," he told Fairfax Media. "HTI is anti-Pancasila, it is anti-Indonesia and so forth. It is just not right to give it legal status in Indonesia."

But Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono said banning any organisation strictly on ideological grounds was a "draconian action". He said it undermined rights of freedom of association and expression that Indonesians had fought hard to establish since the Suharto dictatorship.

"The Indonesian government is empowered to take appropriate legal action against any group, including Hizbut Tahrir, that is suspected of violating the law," Mr Harsono said.

Hizbut Tahrir came to Indonesia in the 1980s when its head in Australia, Abdurrahman al-Baghdadi, moved to Bogor, a city near Jakarta.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/indonesia-introduces-new-power-to-ban-mass-organisations-that-threaten-unity-20170712-gx9sp8.html

Indonesia president Jokowi inks decree to ban radical groups

Straits Times - July 12, 2017

Jakarta (AFP) – Indonesia has issued a decree allowing it to ban groups that oppose its official state ideology, in a move seen to target radical Islamists in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

The law, signed by President Joko Widodo on Monday (July 10), comes as concerns grow about the influence of hardliners in Indonesia, where a majority of the population practise a moderate form of Islam.

It empowers the government to disband without trial any group that challenges Pancasila, a set of founding national principles which promote pluralism and tolerance.

Pancasila is considered the unifying factor for a country home to significant Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minorities.

Security minister Wiranto, who goes by one name, said Wednesday the move was taken because some groups were "threatening the nation's existence and creating conflict in the society".

Neither Wiranto nor the decree name specific organisations. But activists said the move is aimed to disband Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), the local branch of a radical Islamist group that seeks to unify all Muslims into a caliphate.

The government said in May it wanted to take legal steps to dissolve the group. "This decree is merely a shortcut to disband HTI because if they use the old NGO law, it's going to take a long time," legal expert Bivitri Susanti told AFP.

Mass organisations spreading ideologies such as atheism and communism are also banned under the decree. Rights activists warned that the decree could stifle a broad range of democratic institutions.

"Banning any organization strictly on ideological grounds, including Pancasila, is a draconian action that undermines rights of freedom of association and expression," Andreas Harsono, a Human Rights Watch researcher in Jakarta, told AFP.

Asfinawati, the head of Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation, said the move is "a setback of Indonesia's democracy". Wiranto denied that the decree aims to muffle NGOs.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesia-president-jokowi-inks-decree-to-ban-radical-groups

Political parties & elections

Mob attacks PPP headquarters

Jakarta Post - July 16, 2017

Jakarta – Dozens of people have stormed the headquarters of the United Development Party (PPP) in Menteng, Central Jakarta, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

"Around 80 people [came to the building] using cars and motorbikes," PPP deputy chairman Humprey Djemat said on Sunday, as quoted by news agency Antara.

The Islamic party has been crippled for years by a power struggle between two factions.

Humprey is of the faction led by self-proclaimed chairman Djan Farid, which occupies the headquarters. The other faction is led by Romahurmuziy, who also claims to be the legitimate party chairman.

Humprey added that party officials had reported the attack to the Central Jakarta Police.

The unidentified assailants were seen intimidating people inside the building, as recorded by a security camera. The attackers also pushed against the locked gate and threw rocks into the building.

Djan was elected party leader at the party's congress in Jakarta, while Romahurmuziy was elected at a party congress in Bandung, West Java.

On June 14, the Jakarta State Administrative High Court (PTTUN) ruled on the dispute in favor of Romahurmuziy, overturning an earlier ruling by the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) that favored Djan. (kuk/bbs)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/16/mob-attacks-ppp-headquarters.html

Minister Wiranto wants quality, not more, candidates in 2019 election

Jakarta Post - July 10, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said Monday that he hoped for fewer presidential candidates in the upcoming general elections, as he preferred quality over quantity.

"It is better to focus on the quality [of presidential candidates] instead of the number [of candidates] running in the election," Wiranto told the press on the sidelines of a hearing at the House of Representatives.

He said that the number of presidential candidates would determine the complexity of the electoral process. More candidates would mean a more complicated process, he added, arguing that fewer candidates would lead to a healthier democracy.

Wiranto's statements were issued to support the government's idea of setting the presidential threshold at between 20 percent and 25 percent. This threshold would compel political parties to form a coalition to secure at least 20 percent of votes in the legislative election so as to be able to nominate a president.

The proposed 25 percent threshold has so far been backed by three parties under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's government coalition – the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Golkar Party and the NasDem Party. However many parties have rejected the idea, suggesting a threshold of no greater than 10 percent.

The prolonged debate has hampered the ongoing deliberation of the election bill that will set guidelines for the first-ever simultaneous legislative and presidential elections in 2019. The House special team is expected to make a final decision on the fate of the bill in the evening. (ika)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/10/wiranto-wants-quality-not-more-candidates-in-2019-election.html

Blasphemy & shariah law

Police detain man who reported Jokowi's son

Jakarta Post - July 15, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – Jakarta Police have detained over alleged hate speech Muhammad Hidayat, the man who reported President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's youngest son, Kaesang Pangarep. Hidayat, who is already a suspect in the case before he reported Kaesang to the police, was held for the second time on Friday after he refused to answer questions from investigators.

He is alleged to have spread hate speech by uploading a video of a rally against former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, in which Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Mochammad Iriawan is seen ordering members of the Islam Defender's Front (FPI) to attack members of the Islamic Students Association (HMI).

Police said the footage, titled "Jakarta Police Chief provokes the Islam Defender's Front (FPI) to attack Islamic Students Association (HMI) members," was intended to discredit Iriawan.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said on Saturday that Hidayat had been questioned since Friday. "He didn't answer questions from the investigators," Argo said on Saturday. He will be detained until July 19.

Hidayat was previously detained right after the rally in November last year but later released due to his health condition.

On Friday night, Hidayat claimed he had been detained because he had reported Kaesang, who had called intolerant people "ndeso" (provincial or tacky) in a video. Police have stopped the investigation against Kaesang due to a lack of evidence. (wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/15/police-detain-man-who-reported-jokowis-son.html

Buni Yani trial to continue as objection rejected

Jakarta Post - July 12, 2017

Arya Dipa, Bandung, West Java – A panel of judges at the Bandung District Court has decided to continue the trial of Buni Yani, the uploader of a controversial video showing former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama making supposedly blasphemous comments about Islam, despite objections from the defendant against his indictment.

"The trial will be continued with the examination and adjudication of the defendant," presiding judge M. Sapto said as he read out the panel's decision at a hearing in Bandung, West Java, on Tuesday.

Buni read out his objections during a hearing last month. He rejected prosecutors' indictment, which stated he had violated Article 32 (1) of the 2016 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law, though he was never investigated.

The law carries sanctions for anyone found guilty of intentionally making changes, hiding or transmitting electronic information or documents belonging to other people or the public.

Prosecutors indicted Buni for allegedly spreading an edited video of Ahok making a speech in Thousand Islands regency, during which the latter mentioned a Quranic verse. The video triggered uproar, with many suggesting that the former governor had blasphemed against Islam. "The indictment will be proven in the trial," Sapto said during the hearing.

Prosecutors have also accused Buni, who works as a lecturer, of violating Article 28 (2) of the 2016 ITE Law, which prohibits the spread of hate speech based on SARA (matters pertaining to tribal affiliations, religion, race and societal groups). (kuk/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/12/buni-yani-trial-to-continue-as-objection-rejected.html

Nationalism & state ideology

NU scholars, preachers to convene in fight against radical groups

Jakarta Post - July 11, 2017

Safrin La Batu, Jakarta – Hundreds of Islamic scholars and preachers from the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country's largest Muslim organization, will convene in Jakarta on Thursday and Friday to find solutions to Islamic radicalism. They also hope to revive a sense of nationalism and commitment to the values of Pancasila among the Muslim community.

The two-day event will be attended by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and some state officials.

At least 500 scholars, preachers and leaders of Islamic boarding schools are scheduled to attend the event. The event will be held at Hotel Borobudur in Central Jakarta.

Hery Haryanto, the secretary of Hubbul Wathon, which has organized the event, said the national convention sought to unite the Islamic and nationalist elements of the nation in the fight against radical Islamic movements that had started to appear throughout the country.

"This meeting is held in response to the recent emergence of radical Islamic movements," Hery said in a press release sent to The Jakarta Post.

"We hope the meeting will serve as a medium where Islamic scholars and preachers can restate that nationalism is part of their faith, a remark once stated by Hasyim Asy'ari [the founder of the NU]," Hery said. (yan)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/11/nu-scholars-preachers-to-convene-in-fight-against-radical-groups.html

Tertiary education & campus life

Government tells West Java campuses to strengthen anti-radicalism

Jakarta Post - July 14, 2017

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Mohamad Nasir has called on universities in West Java to step up their efforts to prevent the spread of radical teachings among students.

Speaking in front of top officials from 44 universities in the province on Friday, Nasir said radicalism "could de-stabilize" campuses, which were expected to increase their competitiveness, such as through research publications.

Representatives of the 44 campuses in West Java, which was widely known as Indonesia's most intolerant province, signed an anti-radicalism declaration at Padjadjaran University in Bandung. In the declaration, campuses are urged to embody nationalism values that are important to unite the diverse peoples of Indonesia.

Nasir ordered rectors to carry out intensive monitoring of activities inside campuses, including "discussions on campuses." "Rectors are responsible for this thing [countering radicalism] and have to know the condition of lecturers and students," Nasir said.

Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara, West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan, Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) rector Hery Suhardiyanto and a number of lawmakers attended the event. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/14/govt-tells-west-java-campuses-to-strengthen-anti-radicalism-efforts.html

Refugees & asylum seekers

The squalor inside Jakarta's overcrowded immigration detention centre

ABC Radio Australia - July 10, 2017

Samantha Hawley, Indonesia – Rabia Rezai thought it better she stay at home rather than be reunited with her husband in Australia. It was unsafe and her children could not go to school in Afghanistan – but at least they were inside their home.

When one of her sons was almost kidnapped earlier this year, though, things changed. "His father asked us to get to Indonesia by any means," Ms Rezai told ABC News. And so she did.

Her husband, Hafizullah Rezai, was granted a temporary protection visa by the Australian Government in October 2015 and lives in Queensland. Ms Rezai thought he was in Brisbane, but did not know for sure. His documents, shown to ABC News, indicated he was in Toowoomba.

Now, Ms Rezai and her five children have been living in what can only be described as squalor in the overcrowded Jakarta Immigration Detention Centre. A facility built for 80 now houses almost four times that many. Downstairs, immigration violators – mainly from Nigeria – lie wherever they can find a spot, caged in with barely any room to move.

Upstairs there are almost 80 refugees and asylum seekers, crammed into cells along a narrow corridor. The families with tiny cell-like rooms are the lucky ones. Others make curtains out of sheets for privacy.

Habiba Nazari, 38, also from Afghanistan, sat in a room with her six children. She made the journey to Jakarta in a bid to find her husband, who has been in a detention centre in Pekan Baru in Sumatra for five years.

Ms Nazari had been in Jakarta for six months. One of her daughters would not eat the food.

"Seven people live in here and it is really difficult for us," Ms Nazari explained, while sitting on a narrow bed in a tiny room as her children watched on. "All of my kids have been sick. I have been sick."

Indonesia gives no help to asylum seekers

The families in the centre have chosen to come and handed themselves in because they struggled to survive on the outside.

Across Indonesia, 14,000 refugees and asylum seekers are stranded, waiting for third nations to take them – with only a small percentage successful on a yearly basis.

The Indonesian Government itself has no programs in place to help them. Funding at the detention centre in Jakarta comes from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which provides about $7 per day per person for food.

Upstairs, there was no air conditioning and very few fans. One woman from Somalia hugged her disabled boy as her other children hovered around her. Ahmed Sudani, a 28-year-old from Sudan, translated for her.

"She said they don't have a toilet and they always find it difficult to take them at night – because, when she goes to other families, the doors have been locked," Mr Sudani said.

The Somali woman travelled with her children to Yemen, and then to Malaysia, before boarding a boat to Indonesia. She had wanted to reach Australia or the United States.

'We sleep in two or three shifts'

"The bad thing is the overcrowding," Mr Sudani told ABC News about the detention centre. "They mix adults and kids together. It's not nice for kids to stay with adults – they smoke cigarettes, they talk differently."

Mr Sudani and others told ABC News the water ran for two hours every morning, but on weekends sometimes not at all.

Wahidullah Akramy, a 21-year-old Afghani man, has been in Indonesia for four years and at the detention centre for three months.

"Most of us get sick because of the sanitary [conditions] here," he said. "We haven't enough places to sleep so we sleep in two or three shifts."

Once a week, an office-like room is opened. Inside, newspaper is stuck to everything. The chairs, the tables, the walls – nothing is left uncovered. That is where the children can play, draw and paint. But there is not a single toy in sight.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2017-07-10/the-squalor-inside-jakartas-overcrowded-immigration-detention-centre/1684782

Corruption & abuse of power

KPK names company suspect

Jakarta Post - July 14, 2017

Jakarta – A construction firm linked to Jakarta deputy governor-elect Sandiaga Uno has been declared the first corporation ever to be named a corruption suspect by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

Publicly listed PT Duta Graha Indah (DGI), which has changed its name to PT Nusantara Konstruksi Enjiniring, has been named a suspect in a corruption case involving the construction of a hospital at state Udayana University in Bali during the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

"Yes, this is the first for the KPK [to charge a corporation]," agency commissioner Laode Muhammad Syarif told kompas.com Friday.

KPK investigators questioned on Friday Sandiaga, a business tycoon who, along with Anies Baswedan, won a highly divisive Jakarta gubernatorial election earlier this year, as a witness in the case.

A former member of DGI's board of commissioners, Sandiaga claimed he did not have any knowledge about the current management of the firm. He was first questioned as a witness in the case in May.

In 2016, the Supreme Court issued a regulation on directives in handling corporate crime, paving the way for law enforcement agencies to name any company in any criminal cases, such as corruption, environmental and fishery crimes. (mos/kuk)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/14/KPK-names-company-suspect-.html

House inquiry team to summon current, former KPK leaders

Jakarta Post - July 12, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The House of Representatives inquiry team tasked with investigating the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is set to summon the anti-graft body's current and former leaders to gain insight into anti-corruption efforts in Indonesia. No specific date has been determined for the meeting, however.

Inquiry team deputy chairman Taufiqulhadi from the NasDem Party said the team needed to get detailed information and testimonies from former leaders of the anti-graft body. "There are many things about the KPK's work we want to ask about," Taufiqulhadi said on Tuesday.

The establishment of the inquiry team has generated sharp criticism from various parties, who believe it is a House ploy to weaken the KPK. The team claims it has found a number of irregularities and violations allegedly committed by the KPK during its anti-corruption drive.

"These [irregularities] have happened for a long time. Maybe these things happened during [current KPK chairman] Agus Raharjo's term or during [former chairman] Taufiequrachman Ruki's term. This is the problem we need to ask about and confirm," Taufiqulhadi said. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/12/house-inquiry-team-to-summon-current-former-KPK-leaders.html

Jokowi to shield KPK from dissolution

Jakarta Post - July 11, 2017

Haeril Halim and Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is ready to step in and counter the ongoing attempts to weaken the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), presidential spokesperson Johan Budi has said.

Johan promised that the President was committed to supporting the anti-graft body and would not hesitate to interfere with the House of Representatives' ongoing probe into the KPK should the investigation lead to a conclusion that might harm the future of the institution.

"We don't yet know where the [House's] investigation [into the KPK] is heading. But the President will definitely oppose to the dissolution of the KPK, something that several lawmakers earlier indicated might be a possible outcome [of the probe]," he said on Monday.

Johan said Jokowi, however, could not intrude into the ongoing probe held by a House special investigative committee because the House was legally authorized to carry out such tasks.

The former KPK spokesman further claimed that Jokowi would not step into the process unless the House decided to dissolve the KPK.

Despite countless criticisms against its behavior, the House inquiry team is searching for irregularities and the possible abuse of authority by the KPK.

Last week, the team consulted with graft convicts imprisoned at the Sukamiskin Penitentiary in Bandung, West Java, to gather information about alleged rights violations by the KPK. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/11/jokowi-to-shield-KPK-from-dissolution.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

Government blocks Telegram messaging service

Jakarta Post - July 14, 2017

Haeril Halim, Jakarta – The Communications and Information Ministry blocked on Friday 11 Domain Name Systems (DNS) owned by the encrypted messaging application Telegram after collecting evidence that the app is being widely used by local terrorists to communicate and spread radical ideologies in the country.

As a result of the policy, users have been unable to access the program on the web, but could still use its app on smartphones.

However, the ministry's director-general of information application Samuel Abrijani Pangerapan said that his office was also looking to block the mobile-based Telegram app after blocking the 11 DNSs.

According to Samuel, the ministry had discovered several Telegram channels dedicated to promoting radicalism, terrorism, hate speech, as well providing steps to make bombs and carry out terror attacks. He adding that Telegram did not have a standard operating procedure (SOP) on the handling of content related to terrorism.

"We are now also preparing to block the Telegram app nationwide if Telegram does not comply with and SOP on the handling of content violating laws. The measure is taken to protect the country [from threats of terrorism]," Samuel said in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) director Sidney Jones has said recently that "Telegram is the app of choice for terrorists, because its encryption and privacy protections are more stringent than other applications."

She added that Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian fighting in Syria for the Islamic State (IS) group, often used a public channel available on the app to give an instructions for amaliyah, a term often used by extremist groups to mean an attack or suicide bombing.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/14/govt-blocks-telegram-messaging-service.html

Islamic boarding schools to counter radicalism through digital program

Jakarta Post - July 10, 2017

Jakarta – The East Java branch of the Indonesian Pesantren Association (IPI) is going to build a digital pesantren (Islamic boarding school) in order to counter the spread of Islamic radicalism throughout the internet and on social media.

The association head, Zaini Akhmad, said the digital pesantren would strengthen students, usually known as santri, and their knowledge about technology.

"All santri at all pesantren, especially those who join the association, will have education and training sessions through this digital pesantren," he said in Surabaya on Sunday as quoted by Antara.

Zaini also said that by accessing the digital pesantren, the santri would minimize their time looking for hate speech and radicalism on the internet.

"As a religion of rahmatan lilalamin [blessing for the universe], the santri should spread peace instead of hatred. Pesantren should counter radicalism to promote a peaceful Islam," he said.

Zaini suggested that pesantren cooperate with IT experts from universities for the digital program. "To support this program, the IPI will cooperate with private providers. We have booked five million GSM sim cards for the santri," he said. (ecn/dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/10/islamic-boarding-schools-to-counter-islamic-radicalism-through-digital-program.html

Jakarta & urban life

Luhut urges Anies to continue reclamation

Jakarta Post - July 12, 2017

Jakarta – Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan has told Jakarta governor-elect Anies Baswedan and deputy governor-elect Sandiaga Uno that the Jakarta Bay reclamation project should be continued as it is one of the central government's long-awaited projects that date back to the Soeharto era.

During the campaign period for Jakarta gubernatorial election earlier this year, Anies and Sandiaga repeatedly vowed to stop the project, saying it was environmentally unfriendly and would disrupt the livelihoods of fisherfolk.

Luhut said research on and development of the artificial islets had been conducted since the former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration and was being continued under the leadership of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

"Whoever the leader is, he should respect the [project] review issued by a credible institution. You can't change [the ongoing project] as you wish just because you're the new official," Luhut said on Tuesday as quoted by kompas.com.

"As a country, we could be scorned by other people [if we don't continue the reclamation], as they will think we're not consistent with the study conducted by the previous administration," he added.

Anies and Sandiaga should study the research on the project before deciding to stop it, Luhut said. He went on to say that the reclamation project would benefit the city, such as by mitigating land subsidence.

Earlier, Sandiaga said that after his inauguration in October, he and Anies would review the reclaimed islets, including from an environmental perspective. (cal/wit)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/12/luhut-urges-aniesto-continue-reclamation.html

Cab drivers rally to protest ride-hailing apps in Surakarta

Jakarta Post - July 12, 2017

Ganug Nugroho Adi, Surakarta, Central Java – As many as 500 conventional taxi drivers from six companies across Surakarta held a rally at the Gladag traffic circle on Tuesday to protest the existence of app-based taxi services in the city.

The drivers deem the ride-hailing services a threat to their livelihood. "Our income has dropped from Rp 200,000 [US$14.93] a day to Rp 50,000. We see them as illegal operators but the Surakarta administration has not done anything to resolve this," rally coordinator Tri Teguh said.

He further said the unwillingness of the Surakarta administration to resolve the issue had caused the number of ride-hailing operators in the city to reach 300 from just 10 at the beginning of the year.

Tuesday's rally was a follow-up to a similar protest that occurred two months ago during which conventional taxi drivers staged a rally in front of Surakarta City Hall and demanded that the city administration to take tougher actions against companies that employ ride hailing apps.

Surakarta Mayor FX Hadi "Rudy" Rudyatmo met the protesters and said his administration fully supported them. However, he said it was the authority of the Central Java administration to regulate online transportation apps.

"The Surakarta administration can only facilitate a meeting with the governor," Rudy said. (kuk/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/12/cab-drivers-rally-to-protest-ride-hailing-apps-in-surakarta.html

Food & beverage industry

Food cartel seeks Susi's replacement: Intelligence chief

Jakarta Post - July 15, 2017

Jakarta – National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Insp. Gen. Budi Gunawan has said the Indonesian economy is currently being controlled by food and energy cartels.

The cartels are difficult to eliminate because of their wide and strong networks, said Budi, adding that they sought the replacement of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti because she was tough against illegal fishing in Indonesian waters.

"Bu Susi is being counterattacked through fishermen's demonstrations, etc.," he said at a gathering of ulemas from across the country in Jakarta on Thursday as reported by tribunnews.com.

"The powers [cartels] play the game to seek Bu Susi 's replacement," Budi said, adding that they were not happy with Susi because their businesses were disrupted by Susi's tough actions against illegal fishing.

Budi said the cartels had always prevented Indonesia from enjoying sovereignty in the food sector so that the country would be forced to rely on them.

"The ulemas have to know that there is a massive intelligence operation in the economic sector," said Budi, citing the low quality of some foreign products, particularly those from China, that had flooded the Indonesian markets, making the Indonesian products less competitive in their own market. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/15/food-cartel-seeks-susis-replacement-intelligence-chief.html

Retail & service industry

Retailers express doubts about higher tax revenue target

Jakarta Post - July 15, 2017

Jakarta – The government must carefully review its plan to increase this year's target for non-oil-and-gas tax revenue amid signs of weakening purchasing power, a business association has said.

"The government can set a [new] target. However, it has to consider the current business climate and whether the people's purchasing power will allow meeting the target," Indonesian Retailers Association (Aprindo) deputy chairman Tutum Rahanta said Friday, as quoted by kontan.co.id.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati recently announced that the ministry had increased the target for non-oil and gas tax revenue by Rp 20 trillion (US$1.5 billion) in the draft for the revised 2017 state budget.

Tutum said people's purchasing power was currently weakening, as indicated in the sales performance during the recent Idul Fitri holiday season, which failed to meet business expectations.

He said the government had to take some action to boost purchasing power. "We hope the government has certain action that can boost economic conditions, otherwise they should not set a high target," Tutum said.

Tax collection in the first six months of the year is up 10.4 percent compared to the same period of last year, according to the Directorate General of Taxation. However, the first-half realization only represents 39 percent of this year's tax target, which is set at Rp 1.31 quadrillion. (dis/hwa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/15/retailers-express-doubts-about-higher-tax-revenue-target.html

Retail association urges govt to lift alcohol ban in minimarkets

Jakarta Post - July 11, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesia Retail Association (Aprindo) is urging the government to lift a ban on alcohol sales from minimarkets amid slowing retail sales growth.

The latest data from Nielsen shows that minimarket sales from 113 product categories grew by 8.7 percent in the January to May period this year, a contrast from the 19.8 percent increase in sales during the same period last year.

Alcohol, banned in minimarkets since 2015, contributed roughly 11 percent to minimarket sales, according to Aprindo.

Aprindo chairman Roy Mandey said there were three consequences of continuing the ban.

First, the ban proves that the government is not accommodating globalized modern trade. Second, it is not accommodating consumer demand. Third, it is fuelling an expansion in the black market, with people selling drinks in cars or in makeshift tents.

"Instead of giving a chance to the tax-free black market, it is better to allow sales in shops that pay taxes," Roy said as quoted by Kompas.com on Monday.

Furthermore, the ban is bad for beer and alcohol producers. These producers might move from Indonesia to other more welcoming countries, he claimed. (rbk/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/11/retail-association-urges-govt-to-lift-alcohol-ban-in-minimarkets.html

More than 1,000 facing layoff after 7-Eleven closure

Jakarta Globe - July 10, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesian Retailers Association, or Aprindo, says the closure of 7-Eleven outlets on June 30 may lead to a layoff of more than 1,000 employees at Modern International, the master franchisor of the stores in Indonesia.

According to Modern International's 2016 audited financial report, the company employed 1,605 people, of whom 86 percent were high school graduates. About 74 percent were contract-based employees and only slightly more than 400 were employed full-time.

"Aprindo requests the government's cooperation in developing the industry. No more Sevel [7-Eleven] cases please," Aprindo chairman Roy Mandey said on Friday (07/07), adding 7-Eleven's case is an example of how policies can hurt retail businesses.

A government regulation issued in 2015, banning the sale of beer and beverages containing less than 5 percent alcohol, contributed to the company's decision to close its stores.

According to Roy, 7-Eleven's case was internally due to cashflow problems and a shortage of skilled workers, while externally the retail industry generally suffers from the slowing economy and weaker consumer demand, with people trying to limit their spending.

Modern International obtains its revenue from three core businesses. In addition to being a convenience store operator, the company also provides IT-based document management, and is involved in the distribution of health equipment.

The 7-Eleven business contributed about three quarters of the company's revenue. Modern International said it may focus on developing its other businesses after closing the remaining 7-Eleven convenience stores late last month.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/1000-facing-layoff-7-eleven/

Online retailers record big sales for Idul Fitri

Jakarta Post - July 10, 2017

Jakarta – Several e-commerce platforms have reported significant revenues from sales prior to the Idul Fitri holiday this year.

Blibli.com recorded a two-fold increase in sales in June compared to sales in July last year said CEO Kusumo Martanto. "This year's Idul Fitri sales increased 200 percent compared to the same season last year," Kusumo said as quoted by kontan.co.id on Friday.

Best sellers on Blibli.com included Muslim attire, beauty products, food and beverage products, automotive parts, gadgets and small household appliances, Kusumo added. Blibli.com's special offers such as Idul Fitri packages and free express shipment contributed to the boom.

Meanwhile, Blanja.com, an e-commerce platform owned by state telecommunications firm PT Telkom, recorded a 78 percent increase in sales during the Idul Fitri holiday.

"In March, we underwent a huge change, including in our logo and tagline," said Blanja.com spokesperson Rieka Handayani about Blanja.com's business strategy to prepare for Idul Fitri sales.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Retailers Association noted that this year's entire Idul Fitri retail sales only went up by 5 to 6 percent from the figures recorded during earlier months. (dea/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/10/online-retailers-record-big-sales-for-idul-fitri.html

Armed forces & defense

TNI will be involved in securing energy exploration, exploitation

Jakarta Post - July 14, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo and Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan signed on Friday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a cooperation between the two institutions on security precautions for natural resource exploration activities in the country.

Jonan said the TNI would secure all exploration and exploitation activities conducted by the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry.

"We first signed an MoU that will be later materialized in the form of an agreement. This partnership is to secure vital objects, especially in oil and gas upstream exploration and exploitation activities, and in electricity and fuel installations," the minister said as quoted by kompas.com during a press conference after the MoU signing ceremony at TNI headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta.

Jonan further said the cooperation was part of a wider effort to ensure all oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities in Indonesia remained secure.

Gatot said the TNI would provide security on land and sea. Exploitation points managed by the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry often faced interference from third parties.

"Ministry research has revealed that [off shore drilling] activities have often been disturbed by foreign-flagged vessels. To secure them, Indonesian Navy personnel will be deployed to provide security," Gatot said.

He further said that the TNI would also monitor the implementation of the government's one-fuel-price policy across Indonesia, especially in remote areas. (yon/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/14/tni-will-be-involved-in-securing-energy-exploration-exploitation.html

Criminal justice & legal system

Arief Hidayat re-elected Constitutional Court chief justice

Jakarta Post - July 14, 2017

Jakarta – Arief Hidayat was re-elected as the Constitutional Court chief justice for the 2017 to 2020 period during a plenary meeting on Friday.

"In deliberations that ended with a consensus, the court has given me a mandate to continue my leadership," Arief said as quoted by kompas.com during a press conference in Jakarta on Friday.

Arief hoped all Indonesian people could guard him as he goes through his remaining term of office as a Constitutional Court justice.

The election process for the chief justice held in the court's deliberation room began at about 8 a.m. and ended at 11:15 a.m. The election was conducted in a closed meeting attended only by Constitutional Court judges.

"Although it ran for almost three hours, the new justice could be elected through deliberations ending with a consensus so there was no need to hold an open voting as what happened in previous elections," said Arief.

Arief served as the court's chief justice from 2015 to 2017 and he was to have retired in April 2018.

Watchdog institutions in Indonesia had voiced objections to his possible re-election, one of which was because of his upcoming retirement.

They also claimed Arief had failed to lead the Constitutional Court adequately during his two-and-a-half year tenure, during which he was accused of having breached the court's ethical codes in 2015.

He also allegedly ruled on a judicial review requested by a graft convict in Probolinggo, East Java, in favour of the petitioner, which subsequently allowed the convicted candidate to participate in the simultaneous regional elections in the regency last year. (yon/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/14/arief-hidayat-re-elected-constitutional-court-chief-justice.html

YLBHI, ICW oppose reelection of Constitutional Court chief

Jakarta Post - July 14, 2017

Jakarta – In view of the Constitutional Court (MK) chief's substandard performance in the first half of his term, two notable law monitoring institutions have demanded that incumbent Arief Hidayat not be reelected to serve the remainder of his leadership.

The Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation (YLBHI) and the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) claimed Arief had failed to lead the court in the last two and half years, and therefore, should not be reelected for the remaining 2017-2019 term.

ICW researcher Lalola Easter cited that Arief had, among others, broken the court's code of ethics by sending a memo to former junior attorney general for supervision Widyo Pramono, requesting special treatment for his relative in Trenggalek regency, who was working as an attorney in the Trenggalek Prosecutors' Office in East Java.

"On another occasion, Arief ruled in favor of a judicial review filed by a graft convict in Probolinggo [in East Java], which subsequently allowed the convicted candidate to participate in the simultaneous regional elections in July 2015," Lalola added.

YLBHI's head of advocacy Muhammad Isnur said Arief was among four justices at the court who had failed to submit their wealth reports to the state as requested by the law.

The election for chief justice of the Constitutional Court will be conducted on Friday, in which nine of the justices will hold an internal plenary meeting to determine who will lead the court for the next two and half years. (yon)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/14/ylbhi-icw-oppose-reelection-of-constitutional-court-chief.html

Police & law enforcement

National Police chief credits Jokowi for improved police institution

Jakarta Post - July 10, 2017

Jakarta – National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian pointed to the increased welfare of all police officers throughout the country and the improved public image of police institutions in an address at a ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the National Police on Monday, all of which he said was the result of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's leadership.

Tito told the ceremony that the police had set up two new police branches – the West Sulawesi Police and the West Papua Police – during Jokowi's three-year presidency. During that time, the police also set up 11 new precinct offices, 99 new subprecinct offices and another 144 new subsector posts.

Tito added that state funds allocated to support the National Police had doubled to Rp 84 trillion (US$6.3 billion) this year from Rp 44 trillion in previous years.

He also used the occasion to praise the Jokowi administration's Healthcare and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan), claiming that the program had helped to ease the financial burdens felt by police officers in accessing health facilities.

"We are really thankful for what Bapak President [Jokowi] and Bapak Vice President [Jusuf Kalla] have done to improve our institution," Tito told those in attendance at National Monument square in Central Jakarta.

"The National Police will continue to improve our performance and professionalism," he added. (msa/dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/10/national-police-chief-credits-jokowi-for-improved-police-institution.html

Jokowi leads National Police anniversary celebration

Jakarta Post - July 10, 2017

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo presided over the 71st anniversary ceremony for the National Police at the National Monument in Central Jakarta on Monday.

President Jokowi, accompanied by First Lady Iriana Joko Widodo, Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Kalla's wife Mufidah Jusuf Kalla, arrived at the National Monument at 8 a.m.

Unlike last year's celebration, which was held at the Mobile Brigade Command headquarters, this year's ceremony was open to the general public.

"This year, the ceremony is being held here [at the National Monument] to bring us closer to the public so that they can join in the celebration," National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said.

The National Police anniversary actually fell on July 1, but the celebration was delayed to July 10 since most police officers were busy safeguarding the Idul Fitri holidays.

More than 2,400 personnel from the National Police, the Indonesian Military, the Public Order Agency and the Indonesian Scout Movement took part in the ceremony.

The ceremony was enlivened by a mass dance with the theme of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (unity in diversity), skydiving and a marching band. During the ceremony, the President awarded Bintang Bhayangkara Narariya stars to four police officers for their excellent service. (ecn/dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/10/jokowi-leads-national-police-anniversary-celebration.html

Foreign affairs & trade

Indonesia sets up task force to stop crooked cops, soldiers meddling

Jakarta Globe - July 14, 2017

Jakarta – The Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Finance Ministry and Indonesia's law enforcers have set up a task force that will help them crack down on illegal imports going through the country's ports – reportedly the handiwork of crooked officials, including soldiers and police officers.

The task force comprises high-level representatives from the Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs, the National Police, the Attorney General's Office, the National Armed Forces, the Trade Ministry, the Presidential Staff Office and the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK).

Reports have been coming in about smuggling activities involving National Police and National Armed Forces officers, scaring customs officials from doing their job at ports, so both institutions also need to get involved in cracking down on illegal imports, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Wednesday (12/07).

"[We are] not creating a new entity but [this agreement] is a signal for officials within our agencies," Sri Mulyani said.

The task force will oversee Indonesia's major ports – which operate as gateways for goods entering the country – including Tanjung Priok in North Jakarta; Tanjung Emas in Semarang, Central Java; Tanjung Perak in Surabaya, East Java; Belawan in Medan, North Sumatra and other ports on the east coast of Sumatra.

Around 4.7 percent of all goods imported to the country today are considered "high risk," meaning they were brought into the country by companies or individuals with no track record as importers, or who have not secured proper import permits.

The majority of these high-risk goods are textiles, electronics and alcoholic beverages.

"The amount may be small but [the practice] has deeply infiltrated our system," the minister said.

National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian, who attended the joint press conference on Wednesday, said Indonesia's export-import mechanism is still too labyrinthine and there are people who manipulate that complexity for their own gain by asking for illegal levies in exchange for expediting the movement of goods through ports.

"Let's improve the system so there will be no reason for our officers not to do their job. There may be only one or two crooked officers but they have ruined the whole institution," Sri Mulyani said.

Heru Pambudi, the director general of customs and excise, told reporters the authority this year has stopped 750 companies that failed to provide proper import documents from bringing goods into the country.

"It's time to go back to the ports and see if [other] companies are also abiding by our rules," he said, pointing out that some companies that look good on paper intentionally break the rule during shipping.

The Indonesian government has prepared new policies to simplify the comings and goings of goods at ports, aiming to reduce dwell time duration to 1.9 days to compete with ports in neighboring countries.

The government wants to integrate data from all ministries and agencies for import and export risk assessment under the new Indonesia Single Risk Management by August this year.

The government's efforts to crack down on smuggling are part of its program to collect Rp 33.7 trillion ($2.5 billion) in income tax and a total of Rp 1,750.3 trillion in revenue from taxes, non-taxable income and grants.

The government by the end of May has collected Rp 13.4 trillion in income tax, 39.8 percent of its target, and Rp 590.5 trillion in revenue, 33.7 percent of its target.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/govt-sets-a-task-force-stop-crooked-police-officers-soldiers-meddling-with-imports/

Trump signals more trade with Indonesia at G-20 summit, economists not

Jakarta Globe - July 11, 2017

Jakarta – US President Donald J. Trump signaled more trade between the United States and Indonesia might be coming during the G-20 summit in Hamburg last week.

"We've become friends, and we're going to be doing a lot of deals together – trade deals," President Trump said in a bilateral meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Saturday (08/07), a remark that appeared on the official White House YouTube channel.

"We have our whole trade delegation here, and we will start doing a lot of trading with Indonesia. We do very little business, relatively, now. But we are going to do a lot of business," he said.

According to the Office of the US Trade Representative, the superpower posted a $13.2 billion trade deficit with Indonesia in 2016 – the 16th largest trade deficit it suffered last year. Indonesia's Trade Ministry meanwhile recorded a $8.8 billion trade surplus with the United States in the same period.

Indonesia earned $16.1 billion from exports of goods and services to the United States last year, which meant the superpower – still the world's largest economy by gross domestic product (GDP) – made up around 11 percent of Indonesia's total exports.

Indonesia also imported $7.3 billion of goods and services from the United States, equivalent to 5.4 percent of the country's total imports.

Don't expect too much

Despite Trump's promises, Eric Alexander Sugandi, the chief economist at consulting company SKHA Institute for Global Competitiveness, warned Indonesia should not expect too much from the G-20 summit, arguing when it comes to implementation and real policy, things may differ significantly to what was signaled.

"The implementation may not match the plan made during the meeting," Erick said, adding that authorities in Indonesia need to look back to Trump's policy that put Southeast Asia's biggest economy in the United States' watch list.

Eric referred to Trump's order to study US trade deficits with 16 countries, including Indonesia, on March 31. The order set a 90 days deadline for his administration to identify trade abuses and non-reciprocal practices – which resulted in the trade deficits – and develop strategies against "violations of US trade." The United States has never provided further clarity about the order.

Erick said the future of Indonesia-United States trade relationship will depend on the results of the Trump administration's assessment, instead of the outcomes from the G-20 meeting.

The former economist for Standard Chartered Bank in Indonesia said Indonesia does not need to worry about its trade relationship with the United States, as the Southeast Asian country's exports are largely driven by commodity-related products.

Indonesia's US exports are mostly made up of low-tech manufactured goods like shoes, textile and paper, which make up a small percentage of its overall exports figure.

"Indonesia should not be afraid or otherwise too optimistic about trade [with the United States] as a result of the G-20 meeting," he said.

"Around 40 percent to 45 percent of our exports are commodities, and we've seen improvements in commodity prices. Our year-to-date export performance is in surplus and I think, from the looks of it, that surplus will continue," he said.

Indonesia's trade surplus increased in May on the back of strong export growth. The trade surplus came at $474 million, up from $376 million in May 2016, Indonesia's Statistics Agency said.

Exports grew 24.08 percent on a yearly basis in May to $14.29 billion while imports rose 24.03 percent in May to $13.82 billion.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/trump-signals-trade-indonesia-g-20-summit-economists-not-sure/

Mining & energy

Indonesia seeks meeting with Freeport CEO to end copper mine dispute

Reuters - July 11, 2017

Indonesia says it will invite the head of mining giant Freeport McMoRan Inc to Jakarta this month to try to settle a festering dispute over a new deal to operate the world's second-largest copper mine.

The Arizona-based company resumed copper concentrate exports from the mammoth Grasberg mine in April after a 15-week outage related to the argument over mining rights, but a permanent solution to the row is yet to be found.

Uncertainty over output from the mine buoyed international copper prices earlier in the year, with Indonesia a key supplier of the metal to top consumer China.

Any meeting with Freeport CEO Richard Adkerson would be attended by mineral resources minister Ignasius Jonan and finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, mining ministry secretary general Teguh Pamuji said late on Monday.

A U.S.-based Freeport spokesman declined to confirm whether Adkerson would attend the planned meeting, but said both sides continued "to work toward reaching a mutually positive resolution to support our long-term investment plans".

Freeport's share price gained more than 5 percent on Monday to close at $12.52, its biggest single-day percentage climb in 11 weeks.

The conflict comes as Freeport pushes back against parts of new government rules that require miners to adopt a special license, pay new taxes and royalties, divest a 51-percent stake in their operations and relinquish arbitration rights. The company is one of Indonesia's biggest taxpayers.

Freeport has maintained its request for a so-called 'investment stability agreement' to help replicate the legal and fiscal certainty it had under its existing agreement with the government, said Pamuji.

"Perhaps that will be decided on at the high level meeting at the end of this month," he said referring to the stability agreement, adding that minerals minister Jonan was "optimistic" negotiations would conclude in July.

Finance minister Indrawati is known for her no-nonsense approach to negotiations and knack for slicing through red tape.

Freeport has also asked for a guarantee on rights to mine Grasberg up to 2041 before committing to billions of dollars of planned underground mine investments and a second Indonesian copper smelter. But Pamuji said the government were only willing to extend the company's permit by 10 years to begin with, to 2031 from 2021.

(Reporting by Wilda Asmarini in Jakarta and Fergus Jensen in Singapore; Additional reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe in Jakarta and Susan Taylor in Toronto; Editing by Joseph Radford)

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-freeport-idUSKBN19W0L4?rpc=401&

More smelters halt operations amid plummeting nickel price

Jakarta Post - July 10, 2017

Jakarta – Following the free fall in global nickel prices, more smelter companies in Indonesia have begun halting operations.

The number of smelters ceasing nickel processing activities increased to 17 in the first days of July, compared to 13 smelters that halted operations in June, said Processing and Smelting Companies Association (AP3I) deputy chairman Jonathan Handojo on Sunday.

"All of the smelters that halted operations were granted operational permits from the Investment Coordinating Board [BKPM]," Jonathan said as quoted by kontan.co.id, adding that BKPM chairman Thomas Lembong planned to meet with AP3I representatives to discuss the issue.

He blamed the situation on the government for allowing an overflow of raw mineral exports.

The government recently granted Indonesian company PT Ceria Nugraha Indotama (CNI) permission to export 2.3 million tons of nickel ore after the company promised to develop a smelter in Kolaka, Southeast Sulawesi.

As a result, the price of benchmark nickel for three-month delivery on the London Metals Exchange (LME) fell by nearly 3 percent to US$9,130 per ton on July 6, compared to $9,410 on July 3. (dea)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/10/more-smelters-halt-operations-amid-plummeting-nickel-price.html

Infrastructure & development

Government seeks Rp 467.3t deficit increase for infrastructure

Jakarta Post - July 11, 2017

Jakarta – The government is seeking to increase the budget deficit by Rp 467.3 trillion (US$34.91 billion) for development financing this year, as shown in the draft of the 2017 Revised State Budget under discussion by government officials and the House of Representatives.

Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution said the deficit increase was needed by the government for infrastructure development.

"We lag behind other countries. If we do not develop [the infrastructure], we can never approach their levels. We will be far behind them," said Darmin in response to a question from members of House Commission XI overseeing financial affairs during a hearing on Monday as reported by tempo.co

Previously, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said government debt had reached Rp 3.67 quadrillion (US$274.23 billion) in April. She stressed that government debt was at a safe level, as it was below 30 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

When President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo took office in 2014, government debt was Rp 2.60 quadrillion, meaning that during the three years he has been in office, government debt has increased by Rp 1.07 quadrillion.

Darmin stressed that the deficit increase would be used to finance productive activities as stipulated in the draft revision of the state budget. He added that the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) had also encouraged infrastructure development through an investment scheme. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/11/government-seeking-rp-467-3t-of-additional-debt-this-year.html

Taxation & state budget

To grow fast, Indonesia needs 15% tax-to-GDP ratio: IMF

Jakarta Post - July 13, 2017

Jakarta – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said that Indonesia and other Asian countries need to increase their tax-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio to 15 percent so they can accelerate economic growth.

However, IMF deputy managing director Mitsuhiro Furusawa said most Asian countries' tax-to-GDP ratio was less than 15 percent.

"It is not enough to achieve the goal of many countries," he said on the sideline of the International Taxation Conference in Jakarta on Thursday as reported by kontan.co.id.

He stressed the importance of increasing tax revenue by boosting the domestic economy, but acknowledged that each country faced tough competition in attracting investors.

Furusawa called on countries in Asia to cooperate in trying to attract investors to prevent unhealthy competition. He said the IMF was ready to facilitate countries in Asia to deal with the problem.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said the government had set a tax-to-GDP-ratio target of 16 percent by 2019 from the current of 10.30 percent through various efforts. These include making financial information more transparent by joining the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) and cooperating with other countries to fight tax evasion by multinational companies and rich people.

However, Furusawa expressed doubt that Indonesia's tax-to-GDP ratio could grow 5 percent within two years. "It is an ambitious target. I hope you can achieve it. The most important is political will. We support your efforts," he said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/13/to-grow-fast-indonesia-needs-15-tax-to-gdp-ratio-imf.html

Finance minister concerned over low tax-to-GDP ratio

Jakarta Post - July 13, 2017

Jakarta – Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has expressed concern over the country's low tax-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio. At 10.3 percent, it is an indication that the tax received by the government is far lower than the potential.

"As a former World Bank official, I see the figure as very low," Sri said when speaking at an international tax conference in Jakarta as reported by kompas.com on Thursday.

She said the government had tried to increase the tax-to-GDP ratio after organizing the nine-month tax amnesty that ended in March.

Further efforts include making financial information more transparent by joining the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEoI) and cooperating with other countries, including members of G20, to fight tax evasion by multi-national companies and rich people.

"Since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, finance ministries across the globe have experienced the same things. Therefore, we have to jointly put pressure on tax evaders," she said, adding that the government had set a target tax-to-GDP ratio of 16 percent by 2019.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) deputy managing director Mitsuhiro Furusawa agreed with Sri Mulyani, stressing that Indonesia needed to increase its tax-to-GDP ratio.

"I think it is an ambitious target, but it can be achieved. The most important thing is political will," Mitsuhiro said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/13/finance-minister-concerned-over-low-tax-to-gdp-ratio.html

Government told to reduce its dependency on debt

Jakarta Post - July 12, 2017

Jakarta – The government has been advised to reduce its dependency on foreign debt in trying to cover the deficit in the state budget.

Just to cover interest, the government had to allocate Rp 221 trillion (US$16.53 million) in 2017, said the Center for Reform on Economics (CORE Indonesia) in a statement on Wednesday.

CORE Indonesia records that in the last three years, the interest on debt increased by 18 percent on average, compared to the period between 2009 and 2014, when interest on debt only increased 7 percent in average. "The government should improve the management of debt risk," CORE Indonesia added.

Previously, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said government debt had reached Rp 3.67 quadrillion (US$274.23 billion) in April.

The data shows that when President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo took office in 2014, government debt was Rp 2.60 quadrillion, meaning that during the three years he has been in office, government debt has increased by Rp 1.07 quadrillion.

Meanwhile, the government is seeking to increase the budget deficit by Rp 467.3 trillion for development financing this year, as shown in the draft 2017 Revised State Budget under discussion by government officials and the House of Representatives.

CORE said that although Indonesia had received a good investment grade rating from several organizations, the government should not feel secure because the risk

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/12/govt-told-to-reduce-its-dependency-on-debt.html

Government to revise down tax revenue target

Jakarta Post - July 11, 2017

Jakarta – Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution says the government will propose to revise down its tax revenue target for the 2017 state budget to Rp 1.45 quadrillion (US$108.35 billion) from nearly Rp 1.5 quadrillion.

The revision will be made to maintain the credibility of the state budget and make it more realistic after the government collected just Rp 571.9 trillion, or about 38.2 percent of the full-year target, during the first half of 2017.

"The government doesn't want to see a bad assessment from the global market," the minister said as reported by kompas.com on Tuesday. He spoke these words at a hearing with House of Representatives Commission XI, which oversees financial issues.

"Imagine if we do not cut the target by Rp 50 trillion. Investors can calculate [that we will miss the target]. The impact will be worse if we do not make a correction," Darmin added.

Standard & Poor's in May upgraded Indonesia's sovereign credit rating to investment grade (BBB-) from the previous junk status, a response to Indonesia's strong fiscal management. The agency's move followed similar upgrades announced by Fitch in late 2011 and Moody's in early 2012.

Commission XI member MIsbakhun has questioned the government's move given that the government has revised its growth target upward to 5.2 percent from 5.1 percent this year. "If the government increases the growth assumption, the tax revenue target should be higher," he added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/11/government-to-revise-down-tax-revenue-target.html

Indonesia to bring home tax money parked in Singapore

Jakarta Post - July 11, 2017

Jakarta – The government is to hunt down tax money from Indonesians who park their money in Singapore, following an offer from Singapore to allow Indonesia to access the financial data of Indonesians in the neighboring country.

Singapore and Indonesia are soon to sign a Bilateral Competent Authority Agreement (BCAA) to implement the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEoI) between the two countries.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati received the offer from Singapore on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Germany last week. "This is a positive. I will follow up so that we can benefit [from the agreement]," said Sri Mulyani as reported in Setkab.go.id on Monday.

Sri Mulyani estimated that Indonesian wealth parked overseas amounted to about Rp 1 quadrillion (US$74.68 billion), 60 percent of which was in Singapore.

Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry's tax compliance expert Suryo Utomo said that of the Rp 835.7 trillion parked in Singapore that was declared during the tax amnesty, only Rp 84.52 trillion had been repatriated.

Taxation Directorate General spokesman Hestu Yoga Saksama said that Sri Mulyani and Director General of Taxation Ken Dwijugiasteadi would visit Singapore sometime this month to follow up on the agreement initiated by Singapore.

Indonesia and Singapore has an open exchange of information, said Hestu. He added that Indonesia should also seek a BCAA with Hong Kong, as well as stipulate confidentiality and data safeguards. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/11/indonesia-to-bring-home-tax-money-parked-in-singapore.html

Analysis & opinion

Why Indonesia's Widodo had to throw Ahok under a bus

South China Morning Post - July 15, 2017

Jeffrey Hutton – Amid the din of a few hundred protestors that he helped assemble in front of the main gate of Indonesia's parliament, Cecep Supriyanto struggled to make himself heard by a visiting reporter.

With the help of no fewer than eight megaphones, the demonstrators belonging to the Silent Majority, an activist group he founded, screamed their support for the country's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) as legislators inside mulled a censure motion that could defang the watchdog panel.

But Supriyanto, who was unaware of the Nixonian origins of the name he chose for his group, said he already had his sights on the presidential election still two years away.

"The next election will be about religion. Jokowi's mission must be to fight against radicalism and support secularism," Supriyanto said, using the nickname of the country's president, Joko Widodo.

He may be disappointed. Three months after his one-time protege, Basuki "Ahok" Purnama, was denied re-election as Jakarta's governor and then landed in jail, convicted of blasphemy, Widodo has all but jettisoned the reformist image that helped catapult him from a small-town mayor to head of state in two years.

Instead, he is cleaving to the party elites he once sought to push aside, hoping to rely on their logistics, manpower and national networks to stay ahead of a voting public more conservative than he faced three years ago.

"Indonesia is hostage to shifting public sentiment that is being manipulated by Islamic radicals," said Andrew Mantong, a researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a think tank, in Jakarta. "He needs traditional party support."

That decision to side with the power brokers was made in dramatic fashion in December when Widodo made the rounds at a prayer meeting attended by some 500,000 at the Istiqlal Mosque, which is walking distance from the presidential palace. His tour guide was his nationalistic general Gatot Nurmantyo, who briefly broke off all military cooperation with Australia after the discovery of a spoof pamphlet making light of Indonesia's founding principles, the Pancasila.

The complaint of those assembled was against Ahok and the comments he made the previous September while campaigning. Islamic conservatives claim Ahok had insulted the Koran. His defenders say the campaign was overblown and that Widodo had thrown his close political ally under a bus.

"We weren't happy with how Jokowi handled that," said Eva Sundari, a member of parliament, who belongs to Widodo's own party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). "He was limited in what he could do. The military was forcing him to act and the radicals have been growing in strength for years. Now they are too big to fight in one shot."

Chief among the radicals is the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), a hate group that got its start when the military was finally eased out of its political role in the early years of Widodo's predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. In January, Anies Baswedan, who would beat Ahok in April's poll, appealed for support from the group in front of its leader Rizieq Shihab, who promotes the adoption of sharia law throughout Indonesia.

"We don't want to give up," Sundari said. "We don't want democracy to be hijacked."

For more than four years, Widodo and Ahok were an impressive, if short-lived, double act in Jakarta.

While governor and deputy, the duo played good cop, bad cop in hot pursuit of reform and crooked bureaucrats. Widodo pleased crowds and smoothed feathers that might be ruffled by his straight-shooting deputy who got results.

During that time the pair introduced free health care and education for the city's poor, echoing Widodo's achievements when he was mayor of Surakarta in Central Java. Later Widodo dusted off three-decades-old plans for the city's above- and below-ground mass rapid transit, which will go into operation in 2019. After Widodo was elected president, Ahok rose to the governorship. Ahok put the city's budgets as well as its tenders and acquisitions online, denying opportunities for kickbacks by its more venal bureaucrats.

As president, Widodo has ended fuel subsidies, which ate up almost as much money as education spending, and kick-started a multibillion-dollar infrastructure-building spree.

But then his taste for reform faltered and the currying of favour began. Within months of entering office, he nominated as his police chief Budi Gunawan, who is closely linked to his party's chair Megawati Sukarnoputri, despite warnings a KPK probe into Gunawan's possible corruption was imminent. Widodo later withdrew the nomination, but not before a firestorm of arrests and counter-arrests between police and graft-busters. His cabinet is filled with party cadres and Suharto-era generals. One, retired army general Wiranto, has a human rights record so awful he has been banned from entering the United States.

In recent months Widodo overlooked two separate ethics committee investigations and an upcoming KPK probe into possible kickbacks linked to the roll-out of a new identity card to support Golkar party grandee Setya Novanto for speaker because he wanted his group's support in parliament. Most recently, he appointed his party chief, the troublesome Megawati, to head a task force aimed at curbing extremism.

It doesn't have to be like this, said Kevin O'Rourke, who is the author of the weekly newsletter Reformasi. With approval ratings of well over 60 per cent, Widodo can easily strike out on his own. One way would be to support watering down election rules that require presidential candidates to have the support of 20 per cent of parliament. Lowering the threshold would free him to shop for support and put distance between him and the likes of Novanto and Megawati, who may covet her party's nomination for president herself, or for her daughter Puan Maharani, O'Rourke said.

"There's what he should do and what he will probably do. What he should do is distance himself from PDI-P; capitalise on his popularity to manoeuvre himself into a more independent position," O'Rourke said. "What he will probably do is stick closer to the big power brokers because he is paranoid they will push him aside for one of their own."

That's unlikely, said Sundari, who said she expects her party to renominate Widodo for president. Still, she said she worries the presidential election will be a rerun of Jakarta's gubernatorial election. "We should be focusing on welfare. Instead people were focusing on morality and blasphemy," she said.

A tie-up with Islamic parties could also inoculate Widodo against charges of not being sufficiently pious, said the CSIS's Mantong.

This, though, may trample the individual rights of members of minorities such as the country's LGBT community. A series of raids in recent months have seen more than 150 gay men rounded up by police.

"The strategy would be to disrupt the link between the Islamists' identity and political parties," Mantong said. "At the end of the day this will come at the expense of freedom."

For demonstrator Supriyanto, such a candidacy would be a non-starter. Ahok's ouster was a blow to the country's secularist ideal, something that he and his small group have vowed to protect.

"His loss and the verdict was beyond my imagination," he said. "We accept the verdict but haven't moved on from it. We will continue to fight."

Source: http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2102487/why-indonesias-widodo-had-throw-ahok-under-bus

Perppu's slippery slope

Jakarta Post Editorial - July 14, 2017

Jakarta – The scene could not be more symbolic and the parallel could not be more striking. On Wednesday, from a lectern set up inside the State Palace, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto announced the issuance of a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) granting the government the sweeping power to disband mass organizations without judicial process.

It is fitting that a draconian law was announced by a holdover from the New Order regime. Wiranto served as Indonesian Military (TNI) chief under Soeharto and during the country's transitional period in the late 1990s, so he definitely knows a thing or two about quashing opposition.

Rights groups have rightly condemned the new regulation, saying that with the Perppu, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was turning back the clock to an era when the government could disband mass organizations willy-nilly using the argument that it posed a threat to Pancasila and the Constitution.

The new Perppu gives authority to the Law and Human Rights Ministry to disband a mass organization within a week after issuing only one warning letter, a radical departure from the 2013 Law on Mass Organizations (Ormas) that requires the government to seek a court ruling to ban aberrant organizations.

It's a slippery slope from here. Wiranto himself said that the government will expand the definition of anti-Pancasila ideologies, which currently only refer to atheism, Marxism and Leninism. Western liberalism has been the bete noire of authoritarian regime the world over and with the surge populism, it is easy to imagine that its values could be seen as contradicting Pancasila.

What if the authority decided that labor unions' demand for better living for workers had gone too far and branded their fight as inspired by communism? Once the government is in possession of a hammer, it will treat everything as if it were a nail.

It is certainly a risk not worth taking, considering that the Perppu's issuance was motivated by the desire to disband the hard-line Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), whose aspiration for establishing a global caliphate not only contradicts the country's founding principles, but also basic democratic norms (HTI leaders have consistently argued the democratic system is not consistent with Islamic teachings, as sovereignty is in the hands of God).

Without doubt, the presence of HTI and other hardline organizations, especially those that promote violence, are a threat to liberal society, but the government has at its disposal a variety of means to deal with them. For groups like HTI, which campaigns to replace existing order with a caliphate, police could charge members with treason as regulated by the Criminal Code (KUHP).

For hard-line groups that continued to promote violence, there are numerous articles in the KUHP that could be used to punish them. Or, if these groups promoted hate speech or violence on the internet and social media, the Electronic Information and Transaction Law could be a powerful tool to deal with them.

The government may have good intentions in banning HTI, but the means do not justify the ends.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2017/07/14/editorial-perppus-slippery-slope.html

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