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Indonesia News Digest 27 – July 17-24, 2017

News & issues West Papua Human rights & justice Labour & migrant workers Freedom of assembly & association Political parties & elections Blasphemy & shariah law Nationalism & state ideology Environment & natural disasters Health & education Corruption & abuse of power Terrorism & religious extremism Farming & agriculture Cabinet & the presidency Jakarta & urban life Transport & communication Food & beverage industry Criminal justice & legal system National security & intelligence Foreign affairs & trade Tourism & hospitality Mining & energy Economy & investment Banking & finance Taxation & state budget Analysis & opinion

News & issues

Three arrested for allegedly sending fake Jokowi letters

Jakarta Post - July 20, 2017

Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, Jakarta – The Jakarta Police cyber crime unit has arrested three people who allegedly made and delivered fake letters on behalf of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to 51 companies, including state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The letters requested them to financially support the President for his re-election bid in 2019.

The suspects are Kaba Sulaiman, 46, a citizen of the Guinea Republic, Daniel, 31, from Liberia, and Daniel's wife, Ria Situmorang, 26, an Indonesian citizen. Kaba was arrested at a hotel in South Jakarta, while Daniel and his wife were arrested in Sunter, North Jakarta.

Jakarta Police Spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said the suspects made the letters with state and presidential logos downloaded from the internet.

They also put in fake phone and WhatsApp numbers as well as an email address, [email protected]. "Of the 51 companies, some donated money. Later, we will check the bank accounts of the suspects," Argo said on Wednesday.

The fraud was revealed after an SOE commissioner checked the authenticity of the letter with the State Palace. The State Palace confirmed that it was fake.

The suspects have been charged with violating articles 263 and 264 of the Criminal Code concerning forgery in relevance to Article 378 concerning fraud and article 35 and 51 of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law concerning data manipulation.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/20/3-arrested-for-allegedly-sending-fake-jokowi-letters.html

Plot to murder Ahok detected on Telegram: Official claims

Jakarta Post - July 19, 2017

Jakarta – The discovery of a plot to assassinate former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Thajaja Purnama in a monitored conversation was one of the government's reasons for blocking web access to the chat application Telegram, an official has said.

The Communications and Information Ministry's director general of Informatics, Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, said the conversation on Telegram revealed that the murder was planned to be carried by bombing a car and religious site on Dec. 23, 2015.

"We got the data from [the National Police's Densus 88 counterterrorism squad]. Densus knows the details of the plan," Semuel said on Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com.

The ministry also claimed that an attack against police officers at the Falatehan mosque in South Jakarta on June 30 had been planned through Telegram. "Since 2015, [terrorists] have used Telegram to communicate. Only two of all the revealed cases were not planned through Telegram," Semuel said.

The ministry has blocked 11 of Telegram's domain name servers (DNS) on July 14, while the mobile application can still be accessed. (Cal)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/19/plot-to-murder-ahok-detected-on-telegram-government-claims.html

West Papua

Jokowi recommits govt to development in Papua

Radio New Zealand International - July 24, 2017

Isolated parts of Indonesia's Papua region are to be targetted by accelerated government efforts to improve infrastructure.

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, has used a high-level meeting to recommit his administration to the development of airports, ports, roads and bridges in remote Papua.

The internal meeting was attended by members of cabinet such as co-ordinating minister for politics, Wiranto, as well as the governor of Papua province, Lukas Enembe.

According to President Jokowi, Papua has the largest area of any Indonesian province, as well as abundant mining, agriculture, forestry and marine resources.

He said this great potential should be properly utilised as much as possible for the prosperity of Papua's people.

The president said that urgent infrastructure development was the way to do this, especially in isolated areas, including the region of Papua around the border with Papua New Guinea.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/335726/jokowi-recommits-govt-to-development-in-papua

Call for NZ govt to speak out on West Papua

Radio New Zealand International - July 18, 2017

A campaigner for West Papua says the New Zealand government should be speaking out about the treatment of pro-independence demonstrators by Indonesian police.

More than 100 Papuans – mainly members of the West Papua National Committee, or KNPB – were detained between 30 June and 6 July in Nabire, following a protest march to the city's police station to demand the release of one of the group's activists.

The Indonesian government denied that the protesters were arrested and said they were all returned to where they had come from after signing a declaration that they would not violate law and order.

However, the New Zealand campaigner Maire Leadbetter said the demonstrators were held against their will, interrogated and in some cases beaten.

She said the Indonesian government was still detaining people who set out on peaceful demonstrations, a tactic she described as an assault on freedom of expression.

"It's shocking and our government should be standing up and saying far more than they are doing. I have written to Gerry Brownlee – the minister of foreign affairs about it this week," said Ms Leadbetter.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/335352/call-for-nz-govt-to-speak-out-on-west-papua

Why Pacific and Maori communities are rising up for West Papua

Vice - July 18, 2017

James Borrowdale – The independence movement is largely ignored by wider – whiter – New Zealand society.

Like apartheid South Africa, I kept hearing. For a long time, the horrors behind the curtain thrown up by South Africa's racist government weren't widely known in this country. It wasn't until the 1981 Springboks tour that the small band of activists, who had all the time been committed to the cause, were able to turn that affair into a nation-splitting episode – and to put increased international pressure on the regime.

West Papua hasn't had its Springboks tour yet; it is often called the world's forgotten occupation. Indonesia has held formal control over West Papua since 1962's New York Agreement granted the South East Asian superpower the former Dutch colony, with the promise of a fair vote on self-determination by 1969. That never arrived: 1969's Act of Free Choice, in which just 0.2 percent of the population voted – under extreme duress – determined that West Papua was to remain part of Indonesia, a country with which it had no linguistic, cultural, or racial links.

Ever since, the repression of the indigenous population has been ruthless. The figure of 100,000 people killed by Indonesian security forces is commonly cited, but estimates run as high as 500,000. Mass killings of Papuans in the tribal highlands in the 1970s met the criteria for genocide, the Asia Human Rights Commission reported. And the brutality continues: a 2016 report conducted by the Archdiocese of Brisbane titled "We Will Lose Everything" contains reports of atrocities committed throughout 2015, including extrajudicial executions, torture, and firing on peaceful protestors. Methods of torture, another report claims, include rape, slashing with bayonets, and electrification.

Clearly, something horrific is happening – and has been for a long time – in the South Pacific. New Zealand's response? Successive governments, perhaps wary of aggravating an important trading partner, have refused to dispute Indonesia's territorial borders. The media hasn't done much better – VICE NZ was one of just a handful of outlets to cover a visit to New Zealand by Benny Wenda, the leader-in-exile of the West Papuan independence movement and a man twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, earlier this year.

He's a man with a fascinating tale to tell – a childhood spent on the run in the bush, horrors witnessed, arrest, escape, a life-long commitment to the cause of his people. And it's a story that is percolating at some political level, with 11 New Zealand MPs across four parties now signatories of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua declaration. Where, then, I wondered, were the profiles in the Saturday newspapers, the coverage on Sunday-night current-affairs shows?

Dr Pala Molisa, of Victoria University's School of Accounting and Commercial Law, is a long-time supporter of West Papuan independence. Addressing why the New Zealand media is reluctant to take on the story of the subjugation of an entire people, happening so close to home, he says, means confronting an "uncomfortable thing". "It shouldn't be too controversial [to say] today that black and brown lives, when you look at the patterns – socioeconomic, police shootings, mass-incarceration – are devalued when compared to white lives."

Molisa is from Vanuatu, a country that also had to fight for its independence from colonial rule. He bemoans how dependent Pakeha awareness is upon coverage in established media: "Most of our educated Pakeha population is highly reliant on mainstream media. As long as [West Papua is] kept out, that'll affect the amount of participation."

Professor David Robie, director of the Pacific Media Centre has, as a journalist, been reporting on West Papua since the early 1980s, and finds the lack of interest "puzzling". A veteran journalist ("I think I've got a reasonable handle on what is international news"), he wonders why the majority of the press has for so long largely ignored West Papua.

"It has so many elements that have resonance with New Zealand – indigenous issues, land issues, development issues. And in the past we've had an affinity with the people of the Pacific, going right back to the nuclear-free policies, which were very intertwined in Polynesia with indigenous self-determination."

In the wider Pacific, at least, there is some momentum gathering. In March this year, seven nations – Vanuatu, Tonga, Tuvalu, Palau, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, and the Solomon Islands – addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, raising concerns about human rights abuses in West Papua.

Maori, too, have been vocal about West Papua. When Wenda visited Auckland, he was welcomed onto Orakei Marae by Ngati Whatua. Wayne Pihema, a Ngati Whatua Board Trust member who helped organise the hui, says shared experiences of colonialism motivated the invitation to Wenda to speak. "We've got somewhere in our genetic history a memory of that kind of experience... We can relate to people in West Papua as being part of the Pacific and being indigenous Pacific people like us. Within their suffering we see our own."

Oceania Interrupted is an Auckland-based group of Pacific and Maori women who use visual and performance art to raise awareness of the suffering of West Papuans. The group, which has included women from as many as 13 different Pacific ethnicities or nations, has staged 10 of the 15 "artistic interventions" it plans to hold – 15 years being the mandatory prison sentence for raising the West Papuan Morning Star flag within the Indonesian-occupied territory.

In a similar fashion to Pihema, spokesperson Leilani Salesa calls the group's duty to West Papua an "ideological commitment", one borne of a sense of Pacific solidarity. "The ocean is what binds us together, the ocean is our sea of islands... the ocean is what our ancestors conquered."

Salesa, though, highlights the role that Pakeha activists have played in raising awareness, singling out veteran campaigner and writer Maire Leadbeater: "If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't know who I know and what I know."

I put it to Leadbeater that Maori and Pacific groups within New Zealand are now taking the lead, something she said was "amazing". "I see it in the context that the interest in West Papua has extended so much through the Pacific recently. Communities here are linking up with really strong movements in the Solomons and Fiji, and to some extent in Tonga and Samoa, and so on. It's really important people here are getting engaged because they are in touch with their families in those countries, and it's those countries that are actually taking action at the moment – it's not New Zealand, unfortunately."

While it's great, Leadbeater says, that impetus comes from Maori and Pacific communities, it's important there is wider – and whiter – support. "Look at the tino rangatiritanga movement in this country: it's always had strong allies in the Pakeha community, hasn't it? And that's always been important to the success of campaigns."

"The anti-apartheid activists would've felt like they were just spitting into a cyclone...you just need to keep having faith."

She remains upbeat about the effect protest and public opinion have on government action, citing her previous research that, she says, proves the Government is attuned to public opinion on Indonesian activity, especially as it has related to atrocities committed in East Timor and, to a lesser extent, in West Papua. "You think the Government is not taking any notice, but they do have to take account of public opinion and the stronger it gets the more they have to take notice. [But] you can't expect people to identify with an issue they've hardly ever heard of."

Molisa, too, is optimistic. "What gives me faith, to put it in that historical perspective, is that this is in the early stages, and the anti-apartheid activists would've felt like they were just spitting into a cyclone. If you look at the long arch of history, that tells you that you just need to keep having faith because these sorts of things have a way of building in ways you can't expect."

Source: https://www.vice.com/en_nz/article/qvpxbd/why-pacific-and-maori-communities-are-rising-up-for-west-papua

Human rights & justice

Indonesian human rights concerns go unheard, and Thursday protest goes on

Voice of America - July 21, 2017

Krithika Varagur, Jakarta, Indonesia – A silent protest in front of the Indonesian Presidential Palace in Jakarta has convened every Thursday afternoon for the last 10-and-a-half years, and its participants have no plans to stop until the government addresses their human rights concerns, many dating back to the Suharto era.

The action is known as Kamisan, after "Kamis," the Bahasa Indonesia word for Thursday. The regulars carry black umbrellas, necessary for a recurring event in a city where it rains every month of the year. The umbrellas are inscribed with things like "Stop impunity."

The original Kamisan activists were families of several protesters who were shot dead in late 1998, after the collapse of the Suharto regime, at the Semanggi intersection in Jakarta. They initiated the weekly action Jan. 18, 2007, and it has rolled on, absorbing victims, sympathizers and curious observers ever since.

A diverse turnout

Among the crowd on a recent Thursday as the city was rousing itself from festivities marking the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan, were two teenage girls; several old men who had seen family members killed in the 1965 anti-Communist panic; college-aged recurring volunteers; and Maria Catarina Sumarsih, a 65-year-old woman who is one of the original Kamisan founders. Her son was shot dead in Semanggi in 1998.

Seventy-seven-year-old Tumiso was a young man in Surabaya in fall 1965 when the anti-Communist purge started. He has lived in Jakarta since 2000 and been attending Kamisan since its inception, prompted by abuses and murders inflicted on his family in 1965.

About 500,000 people were estimated to have been killed and more than 1 million imprisoned between 1965 and 1966, after a failed coup led to a political panic during which forces targeted Communists, leftists, ethnic Chinese, and dissidents. "Our action must have an effect," said Tumiso, still hopeful.

They have, sort of. In May 2015, the present administration announced plans for a reconciliation committee to resolve past abuses. But its mandate is still unclear, disappointing many who hoped President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo would turn a new page on human rights.

Sarif, now 78, was a farmer in Malang, East Java, in 1965. He came from an artistic family and said that many of his relatives, including his parents, were killed in the massacre. He moved to Jakarta to work as a laborer.

It was the first time at Kamisan for Cabee, a 17-year-old high school student in Tangerang. She had come at the behest of her friend Regina, 16, both enjoying the free weekdays of summer vacation. Even though they weren't alive in 1998, they were curious.

Strength from constancy

Every Thursday, Sumarsih signs and delivers a letter addressed to the Indonesian president that says if the government addresses its human rights violations, the Kamisan protest will end.

She is small and compact, with a flop of gray hair and pragmatic sandals. Under her watch, yesterday's protest was the 497th Kamisan. Sumarsih used to work as a schoolteacher in Semarang, and then as a civil servant in the House of Representatives, but since the death of her son, activism has come to be a full-time job.

The protest has spread to four other cities in Java since its inception: Bandung, Malang, Yogyakarta and Surabaya.

"It inspires young people [in disparate locations] to voice problems on behalf of people who have not been treated properly by the government," said Sumarsih. "The purpose of the Kamisan action is not only the way we stand together in the struggle for remembrance and against impunity, but also that we socialize human rights issues in our society," she said.

"The Kamisan action will only stop if we get fewer than three participants, or if in the country of Indonesia no longer commits state violence, or at least seven files of the Human Rights Commission's investigations are completed, according to the mechanism set forth in Law No. 26/2000 in the Human Rights Court," said Sumarsih. Until then, she can be found every Thursday afternoon in the same place.

Source: https://www.voanews.com/a/indonesia-human-rights-weekly-protest/3953339.html

Labour & migrant workers

Workers reject plan to lower non-taxable income limit

Jakarta Post - July 24, 2017

Jakarta – The Confederation of the Indonesian Workers Unions (KSPI) has rejected a government plan to lower the limit on non-taxable income (PTKP) to increase tax revenue.

KSPI president Said Iqbal stressed that the move would burden low-income workers. "We will reject the plan to lower the PTKP limit," said Iqbal in Jakarta on Sunday as reported by Antara.

Currently, a person earning Rp 54 million (US$4,056) per year or Rp 4.5 million per month or less is exempt from paying income tax. The limit will reportedly be revised down to the level of minimum provincial wages or about Rp 3 million per month.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani announced that her ministry had studied the possibility of lowering the limit because Indonesia had the highest non-taxable income limit in the world.

Iqbal called on the government to instead force rich people to pay their unpaid taxes and not further burden low-income workers.

He argued that people's purchasing power was already very low and lowering the non-taxable income limit would worsen people's purchasing power. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/24/workers-reject-plan-to-lower-non-taxable-income-limit.html

Freeport Indonesia mine workers extend strike for fourth month

Reuters - July 21, 2017

Wilda Asmarini and Susan Taylor, Jakarta/Toronto – An estimated 5,000 workers at the giant Grasberg copper mine operated by Freeport-McMoRan Inc's (FCX.N) Indonesian unit will extend their strike for a fourth month, a union official said on Friday, in an ongoing dispute over layoffs and employment terms.

The escalating labor issue comes as Freeport, the world's largest publicly traded copper miner, is snarled in a lengthy and costly dispute with Indonesia's government over rights to the Grasberg copper and gold mine.

Freeport resumed copper concentrate exports from Grasberg, the world's second-largest copper mine, in April after a 15-week outage related to that row, but a permanent solution is yet to be found.

Copper prices CMCU3 hit a 4-1/2 month peak on Friday, fueled by strong growth in top consumer China, a weak dollar and worries about supply disruptions.

Freeport is pushing back against revised government rules that require miners to pay new taxes and royalties, divest a 51-percent stake and relinquish arbitration rights. The Arizona-based miner wants an 'investment stability agreement' that replicates the legal and fiscal rights under its existing agreement.

Freeport Indonesia union industrial relations officer Tri Puspital told Reuters on Friday that the strike was extended because there is still no solution for worker concerns.

The strike began in May after Freeport laid off some 10 percent of its workforce to cut costs.

In May, Freeport said that mining and milling rates at Grasberg were affected by the strike, and investors will look for more information when the company reports second-quarter financial results July 25.

Indonesia said last week it would invite Freeport chief executive Richard Adkerson to Jakarta this month to try to settle a dispute, but a company spokesman would not confirm whether he would attend.

Freeport shares were down about 1 percent on New York at $12.93 Friday morning.

[Reporting by Wilda Asmarini in Jakarta, Susan Taylor in Toronto and Maytaal Angel in London; Editing by Andrea Ricci.]

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-freeport-mcmoran-indonesia-strike-idUSKBN1A61VJ

Freedom of assembly & association

Jokowi courts political risk with ban on hard line islamic group

Bloomberg - July 24, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesian President Joko Widodo risks further alienating conservative Muslim voters after being granted new powers to outlaw religious organizations.

The Law and Human Rights Ministry last week banned Hizbut Tahrir, citing the Islamist group's support for a Muslim caliphate and other activities that deviate from Indonesia's state principles, known as Pancasila.

Mr Joko, known as Jokowi, said the new powers were needed because of increased threats to Indonesia's unity and sovereignty. "The country must be fearless to take control," he said last week in a statement.

Still, some opposition parties have been critical of the move, raising the potential for a more fractious parliament at a time Mr Joko's seeking to fire up the economy to generate revenue for his ambitious spending plans. Mr Joko still controls about 70 per cent of the 560 seats in parliament, but there have been periodic frictions even with the parties that support him.

"We are concerned that the decree is being used to suppress organisations not on the government's side," said Mardani Ali Sera, deputy secretary general of the opposition Prosperous Justice Party.

"That's the characteristic of an authoritarian, that the state has surpassed its authority as a facilitator that everything must be within its corridor."

"The most effective way to tackle the problem is not by issuing a perpu but by strengthening our police," Mr Mardani said. "The government can assign the national intelligence agency and the military to proactively monitor anti-national groups."

Court test

Hizbut Tahrir has signaled it will challenge the decree in the courts while Gerindra, the party of Mr Joko's likely 2019 presidential election rival Prabowo Subianto, has expressed concerns that freedom of assembly restrictions could stir conflict.

"Hizbut Tahrir isn't particularly well liked across the Islamic spectrum but a lot of Islamic organisations also don't like the government disbanding civil society organisations without compelling reasons for doing so," said Greg Fealy, a senior fellow in Indonesian politics at the Australian National University.

Earlier this year, rallies supported by Hizbut Tahrir helped topple Jakarta's former Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, in an election marred by religious tensions. The election was widely seen as a proxy for the 2019 presidential race.

Mecca trip

While Fitch Ratings affirmed its positive outlook for Indonesia on Thursday, the agency also noted that Mr Joko's reform agenda could lose momentum if political and religious frictions became a distraction in the lead up to the next election. The Jakarta gubernatorial election shows "how such issues can dominate the electoral discourse," it said.

It's not the first time Mr Joko's religious commitment has been questioned. Prior to the 2014 presidential vote he made a last-minute dash to Mecca in a bid to woo conservative Muslims. Mr Joko's close ties with Ahok have raised eyebrows in some Muslim quarters.

Prabowo, who lost the 2014 election to Mr Joko, has been courting the Islamic vote. He was Anies Baswedan's main backer in his winning campaign for Jakarta governor, helping to tap Muslim anger towards Ahok over comments that later led to Ahok being convicted of blasphemy.

In the right circumstances, the hundreds of thousands of people to who took to the streets against Ahok might be prepared to do the same to support Prabowo against Mr Joko.

Prof Fealy said Mr Joko could also face a problem if the ban on Hizbut Tahrir was overturned in the courts. "That could play into the efforts of some Islamist organisations to undermine Jokowi in the run up to the 2019 election," he said.

Another risk would be the ban leads Hizbut Tahrir's more hardcore members to go underground and "become drawn into extremist and terrorist circles," said Usman Hamid, director of Amnesty International Indonesia.

For now, investors are likely to take a watching brief on the political maneuvering. There are no signs that Indonesia could face the kind of security crisis that forced then-dictator Suharto from office in 1998, said David Sumual, chief economist at PT Bank Central Asia in Jakarta. So far, "I don't see that it would delay capital spending and investment."

Still, Liam Gammon, editor of ANU's Southeast Asia-focused website New Mandala, said there was the potential for Hizbut Tahrir to gain sympathy from conservative Muslim voters who'd normally regard it as unpalatable.

"The ban plays into an existing narrative about an anti-Islam bias on the part of Jokowi and the secular-nationalist political tradition he comes from," Mr Gammon said. "But Jokowi has obviously judged that the support he will gain from moderate groups because of the ban will outweigh any galvanization of conservatives."

Source: http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/jokowi-courts-political-risk-with-ban-on-hard-line-islamic-group

Police investigate mass organizations believed to be 'anti-Pancasila'

Jakarta Post - July 21, 2017

Jakarta – The National Police are investigating a number of organizations believed to be acting against the state ideology of Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution, a day after the government banned Islamic organization Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI).

"There are some organizations [suspected of acting against the Pancasila]. We are investigating them," said National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto as reported by Antara.

Signed on July 10, presidential regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) No.2/2017 on Mass Organizations gives the government the power to disband an organization without due process and prohibits any organization to adopt and spread an ideology contradicting Pancasila.

Police are communicating with the Law and Human Rights Ministry and the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Ministry in their investigation into the organizations.

On Wednesday, the government banned HTI, an organization that aims to establish a global Islamic caliphate, claiming its actions were not in line with Pancasila – the foundation of Indonesia's pluralistic society.

Rights activists consider the move "undemocratic" and threatened the freedom of assembly and association.

Amnesty International Indonesia chairman Usman Hamid said banning HTI would instead push some of its most conservative members to join extreme, violent groups operating underground, and this would eventually bring further threats to the country. (saf/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/21/police-investigate-mass-organizations-believed-to-be-anti-pancasila.html

Hizbut Tahrir to challenge disbandment by government

Jakarta Post - July 19, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Muslim group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) is set to file a lawsuit with the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) to challenge the revocation of its legal entity status and instruction to disband by the government, the group's lawyer Yusril Ihza Mahendra has said.

"We know that our position is weak in facing the government, which has used the Perppu. We shouldn't give up on upholding justice, however. We shouldn't let a dictatorship exist in this country," said Yusril, referring to the Regulation in a Lieu of Law (Perppu) No.2/2017 on Mass Organizations, in a written statement on Wednesday, a couple hours after the government announced the official banning of the HTI.

The government believes HTI contravenes the Pancasila state ideology as it promotes the Islamic caliphate (Islamic state). By issuing Perppu No.2 on July 10, the government gave the authority to the Law and Human Rights Ministry to disband all mass organizations regarded as contravening Pancasila without due process of law.

The HTI filed a judicial review with the Constitutional Court to challenge the Perppu on Tuesday. However, Yusril said the group should take other legal steps because with the disbandment, it no longer had legal standing to file a judicial review. "We're preparing the best step for the next action," said the former law and human rights minister.

The Perppu has become a controversial issue and triggered condemnation from the public and rights groups as they are worried it could threaten the freedom of association and expression. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/19/hizbut-tahrir-to-challenge-disbandment-by-government.html

Indonesia bans Islamic organisation Hizbut Tahrir to protect Pancasila

Sydney Morning Herald - July 19, 2017

Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies, Jakarta – The Indonesian government has banned Islamic organisation Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, claiming it needs to safeguard the existence of the nation's pluralist state ideology Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution.

Hizbut Tahrir, which keeps its membership numbers secret, is opposed to democracy and campaigns peacefully for a global caliphate governed by Sharia law.

The ban comes a week after Indonesian President Joko Widodo issued a regulation that gave the government the power to disband a mass organisation it considers threatens the unity of the country without going through the court process.

Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, which has already announced it would challenge the new government regulation in the Constitutional Court, said it would mount a separate legal challenge to the ban. "I think this is a clear form of injustice," spokesman Ismail Yusanto told Fairfax Media. "What have we done wrong?"

Both the regulation and a ban on Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia are controversial amid concerns they are an unnecessary setback for democracy and could backfire on the President.

Critics point out that Hizbut Tahrir has no history of violence unlike other hardline Islamic organisations, such as the Islamic Defenders' Group (FPI), which is infamous for its vigilante activities against minority groups.

Human rights activists also argue a ban is 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.

Riot police guarded the law ministry building on Wednesday ahead of the announcement of the ban but there were no immediate protests.

In a brief statement, Director General for the Administration of General Law, Freddy Harris, said HTI's legal status had been revoked in order to safeguard the existence of the Pancasila and 1945 Constitution.

Australian National University Associate Professor Gregory Fealy said while the government claimed there were pressing security and legal reasons for banning HTI, the real reason appeared to be political.

He said that since the massive Islamist uprising against the former Christian governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, which paved the way to him being jailed for blasphemy, the Jokowi government had been scrambling to counter rising Islamist power.

"HTI was one of four Islamist organisations that led the anti-Ahok campaign and the government probably regarded it as the easiest target," he wrote in The Interpreter. "The ban on HTI looks very much like an abuse of state power for political aims."

Jakarta-based terrorism analyst Sidney Jones said that ironically one of those most delighted with the HTI ban would be Bahrun Naim, a Syria-based Islamic State leader from Indonesia.

"Writing in a blog post from Syria on May 9, he said he had long criticised his former colleagues for failing to understand who the real enemy was and taking too flexible a position against apostate officials," she wrote in onlinetoday.com

"Now he said, he hoped HTI would follow the example of Hizbut Tahrir in Uzbekistan, a group which eventually abandoned its do-nothing stance and took up jihad against the government."

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/indonesia-bans-islamic-organisation-hizbut-tahrir-to-protect-pluralism-20170719-gxeaae.html

Indonesia: Government officially disbands Islamist group Hizbut Tahrir

Asia Correspondent - July 19, 2017

Indonesia's government has legally disbanded fundamentalist group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) for threatening national unity and the state ideology in the world's largest Muslim-majority country.

After months of debate regarding the proposed ban, the Jakarta Post reported on Wednesday Indonesia's Law and Human Rights Ministry has officially revoked HTI's status as a legal entity for conducting activities that contradict the state ideology of Pancasila and the principle of a unitary state of the Indonesian republic.

The revocation of the group's legal status came following a decree signed last Monday by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to alter a 2013 law on civil society organisations – this time aimed at containing the rise of radical groups who oppose the president.

"With the revocation of its legal status, we declared the HTI is disbanded, in accordance with Article 80A of the Perppu (decree)," the ministry's legal administration director-general, Freddy Harris, was quoted as saying.

"Our decision to revoke its legal status is based on extensive consideration, long examination and input from relevant institutions," Freddy said, adding the HTI could seek legal redress on the government's decision.

While HTI advocates the overturning of democracy with a global caliphate, it does not employ violent means. The group is already banned in most Muslim-majority countries, but since 1998 has operated freely within Indonesia's democratic system.

The ban is almost entirely unprecedented – the only other outlawed organisation in Indonesia is the former Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), which has been defunct for decades.

Earlier this year, Islamist groups were instrumental in the downfall of Jakarta's former governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian who was accused and subsequently jailed for two years for insulting Islam under Indonesia's strict blasphemy laws.

Supporters of HTI were among the so-called Aksi Bela Islam (Action to Defend Islam) movement, which culminated in Ahok's electoral defeat in April and his imprisonment in May.

The events, including massive and sometimes violent street rallies led by Islamist vigilante groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), have raised concerns about the erosion of Indonesia's long-standing image as a tolerant and pluralistic state.

Unlike other Indonesian Islamist groups including the FPI, HTI explicitly opposes democracy and the Indonesian nation itself.

Last week, HTI and civil organisations in Indonesia decried the move by the government, accusing the Jokowi administration of being repressive and branding the leader a "dictator."

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

HTI is estimated to have around 40,000 card-carrying members in Indonesia, while its support base is perhaps made of 200,000 people across the archipelago.

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/07/indonesia-govt-officially-disbands-islamist-group-hizbut-tahrir/

Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir condemns disbandment by government

Jakarta Post - July 19, 2017

Safrin La Batu and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) has condemned the government's decision to revoke the Muslim organization's legal status, calling it an arbitrary act.

Speaking to The Jakarta Post right after the government announced the move on Wednesday, HTI spokesman Ismail Yusanto said the group had never received a warning letter.

According to Article 62 of the 2017 Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) on Mass Organizations, the government should issue a warning letter and terminate activities of an organization before revoking its status as a legal entity.

"The government has violated its own regulation. According to the Perppu, we should be subject to administrative sanctions first, not immediate disbandment," Ismail said.

The Law and Human Rights Ministry announced earlier that it had revoked HTI's legal entity status because the group had conducted activities opposed to Pancasila, the state ideology.

Even though HTI had stated in its statutes and rules of association that it adopted Pancasila values, the group had advocated the establishment of a caliphate, reflecting an ideology that was not in line with Pancasila, the ministry said.

The government's move to issue the Perppu has been criticized, because it allows the ministry to disband any mass organization deemed to oppose Pancasila without court approval, which some have called a setback for democracy, since the government could curtail the freedom of association and expression. The HTI is the first organization to be affected by the Perppu.

"We won't remain silent. We'll fight back through a legal process," Ismail said, adding that the group had not yet decided what kind of legal process it would take, as it would first examine the government's decision. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/19/islamic-group-hizbut-tahrir-condemns-disbandment-by-government.html

Islamic groups protest Indonesian attempt to curb radicals

Associated Press - July 18, 2017

Jakarta, Indonesia – About 2,000 people have rallied in the capital of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, denouncing President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's attempt to ban radical organizations.

A decree signed by Jokowi earlier this month that amends a law regulating mass organizations will give the government almost unfettered power to ban groups it deems contrary to the country's constitution. Parliament has one year to reject or approve it.

It is likely that Hizbut Tahrir, a group that campaigns for Shariah law, is among the targets of the decree, with the government announcing in May that it planned to ban the organization.

Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono said the crowd Tuesday was peaceful. Demonstrators from an alliance of Islamic groups waved flags and held up banners calling the government tyrannical and repressive.

Source: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_INDONESIA_RADICAL_GROUPS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2017-07-18-06-04-41

Dems side with opposition against Perppu on mass groups

Jakarta Post - July 17, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – The Democratic Party has joined a group of political parties challenging a new regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) that allows the government to disband mass organizations without the need to go through court proceedings.

The party said the Perppu, issued by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo last week, was a threat to freedom of assembly and democracy. "A restriction on the freedom of assembly will stir up conflict," Democratic Party executive Agus Hermanto said.

Jokowi issued the Perppu a few months after announcing a plan to disband Islamist group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), which is considered anti-Pancasila as it promotes the creation of an Islamic state in Indonesia.

The government has said that the 2013 Mass Organizations Law, which requires the government to file a request with a court to ban a mass group, had stymied the government's efforts to safeguard state ideology Pancasila and national unity.

Besides the Democratic Party, two other opposition parties – the Gerindra Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) – and the National Mandate Party (PAN), which is part of the government coalition, have also criticized the Perppu.

Human rights activists have also criticized the Perppu, which they say is prone to abuse and could be used to silence political dissent. The House of Representatives is scheduled to hold a plenary meeting this week to decide whether to endorse the Perppu. (ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/17/dems-side-with-opposition-against-perppu-on-mass-groups.html

Police already have list of anti-Pancasila groups to be disbanded

Tribune - July 17, 2017

Fahrizal Syam, Jakarta – The national police already have a list of social organisations (Ormas) that will be disbanded following the issuance of Government Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) Number 2/2017.

The social organisations on the list will be disbanded through the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.

"There are several ormas that we have identified and we will submit these to the Menko [Office of the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs]", said National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian.

Karnavian said that government agencies would continue to coordinate to compile data on social organisations that are against the state ideology of Pancasila and should be disbanded. This coordination will be under the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs (Menkopolhukam) Wiranto.

"There will be [input] from the BIN [National Intelligence Agency], from the Attorney General's Office, we will gather together what's needed, from the TNI [Indonesian military], from other [agencies]", he said.

"I think that the dissolution of social organisations that oppose Pancasila is something that we need to do. Agreement and disagreement is normal but if they speak negatively about Pancasila, NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia], whatever, we must confront them", added Karnavian.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has also spoken out about the Perppu inviting those who oppose the law to challenge it through legal channels. "Those who don't agree with the Perppu Ormas for example, please pursue legal channels. We are a constitutional state. We allow space for those who disagree. Pursue legal channels. Through legal channels", said Widodo.

Widodo however asserted that the state would not remain silent in the face of social organisations or individuals that want to replace Pancasila as the state ideology. He insisted that the state must be prepared to rein in and control social organisations.

"The future of the country cannot be undermined, or its authority undermined. We do not want there to be anyone that undermines our NKRI", he said.

"They cannot just be ignored, those who explicitly want to replace Pancasila, want to undermine the NKRI, [want to] bring down this democratic country", he added.

GNPF not worried

The withdrawal of a social organisation's legal status without going through the courts, according to the deputy chairperson of the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI), Zaitun Rasmin, is something that is unacceptable.

"It's not possible, we hope that (the disbanding will still) be through the courts, it's more objective, clearly more objective", he said.

Rasmin believes that the issuance of the Perppu was triggered by the government's policy of wanting to disband the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), but that it will not just be used against the Muslim community.

The Perppu covers all parties that violate the regulations. "I see it as being very general, it could be for Islamic social organisations, it could be for non-government organisations", he said.

Is the GNPF-MUI, as the pioneer of the Defend Islam actions which succeeded in mobilising tens if not hundreds of thousands of Muslim against former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama [which led to his conviction and jailing for blasphemy], also threatened by the Perppu. "No, Defend Islam is [too] big, it can't be stopped", he asserted.

The chairperson of the Islamic mass organisation Nahdatul Ulama's executive board (PBNU), Said Aqil Siradj said that he supports the Perppu. "We the NU and 14 other Islamic social organisations agree with and support the government's stand on the Perppu", said Siradj.

This is despite the fact that the Perppu is still the subject of a polemic with opposition coming from the public over the disbanding of social organisations that do not agree with Pancasila or the NKRI because there is nothing urgent that could become a threat to democracy.

"Our democracy is through the corridor of Pancasila and the NKRI, you can't have any old kind of democracy you want, to the point that even the foundations of the state are debated", said Siradj.

Step backward

Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) President Sohibul Iman opposes the disbanding of a social organisation without going through the courts first.

Particularly since through the new Perppu the government now has the sole authority to interpret who supports Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution (UUD 1945) and who is against it.

"(For example), this or that party opposes Pancasila, this or that party is radical, it's all a subjective [interpretation] by the government. If viewed from the democracy that we have build, I think it is a step backwards", he said.

[Abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service. The un-translated sections of the article covered details on the differences between the new Perppu and the 2013 law on social organisation. The original title of the article was "Polisi Kantongi Ormas-ormas Anti-Pancasila yang Layak Dibubarkan".]

Source: http://www.tribunnews.com/nasional/2017/07/17/polisi-kantongi-ormas-ormas-anti-pancasila-yang-layak-dibubarkan

Police prepare list of mass organizations for possible disbandment

Jakarta Post - July 17, 2017

Jakarta – The National Police have made a list of mass organizations to be considered for disbandment following the issuance of Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) No. 2/2017 on mass organizations.

Disbandment will be executed by the Home Ministry and the Law and Human Rights Ministry, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said.

"A list of mass organizations has been submitted to the Office of the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs," Tito said Monday as quoted by Tribunnews.com. Tito did not reveal the names of the mass organizations.

He said before any organizations were disbanded, institutions such as the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), the Attorney General's Office and the Indonesian Military (TNI), would meet to discuss the matter.

After the government issued the Perppu replacing the 2013 law on mass organizations on Wednesday, debate has been rife over the government's right to disband a mass organization without due legal process within just one week of issuing a warning letter.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has said that those who oppose the Perppu could challenge it through the courts.

"Our state is based on a legal system. Those who want to challenge the Perppu can use legal avenues to challenge it in court," he said. (yon/dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/17/police-prepare-list-of-mass-organizations-for-possible-disbandment.html

Jokowi's bungled ban of Hizbut Tahrir

The Interpreter - July 17, 2017

Gregory Fealy, Sydney – On 13 July, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) issued a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) which will allow the banning of the Islamist organisation Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI). This follows the government's announcement on 9 May that it intended to disband HTI on the grounds that its teachings conflicted with the constitution and state ideology of Pancasila, and that its activities were creating public unrest.

The government's actions have proven controversial and there are strong grounds for arguing that both decisions undermine Indonesian democracy and carry considerable political risk for Jokowi. The use of the Perppu, in particular, points to the government's inept legal and political strategies behind the banning.

Hizbut Tahrir has been present in Indonesia since the early 1980s. Initially a covert movement, it has operated above ground since 2000. It has grown rapidly over the past two decades and has branches in most of Indonesia's provinces. It keeps its membership numbers secret, but has been regularly able to mobilise thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, to its rallies.

The cornerstone of its teaching is the necessity to restore a global caliphate, after the last of the Ottoman caliphs was removed by Turkey in 1924. It regards democracy as un-Islamic and campaigns fervently but peacefully for sharia law implementation and the rejection of capitalism and secularism.

The government's May announcement that HTI was to be banned came as a surprise and was met with immediate scepticism by many commentators. There were several reasons for this. First, HTI's pro-caliphate views had long been known and the organisation's leaders were usually careful to avoid explicit rejection of the Indonesian state or Pancasila. The police claimed to have 'abundant evidence' that HTI had recently begun fomenting insurrection but media leaks about details of the police case referred only to speeches by a few local HTI officials.

Second, HTI had no history of violence, unlike many other Islamist groups such as the Islamic Defenders' Front (FPI). Critics asked why the government was not targeting FPI, for example, which had repeatedly been involved in vicious attacks on religious minorities. Moreover, only a couple of ex-HTI members had been implicated in terrorism, far less that the number of convicted jihadists with connections to major Islamic organisations like Muhammadiyah or the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Third, the claim that HTI was creating social disturbances appeared contrived. In the month prior to the May announcement, Ansor, the youth wing of Indonesia's largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), staged protests against HTI meetings, persuading police to cancel the HTI events. Simmering tension between NU and HTI was nothing new, but NU's physical confrontation of HTI was. Interviews with NU leaders suggest some level of coordination between NU's youth wing, Ansor, and Jokowi government officials, seemingly to build a case for action against HTI.

While the government claimed there were pressing security and legal reasons for banning HTI, the real reasons appear to be political. Since the massive Islamist mobilisation against the incumbent Chinese Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), in late 2016 and early 2017, resulting in his defeat in April, the Jokowi government has been scrambling to counter rising Islamist power while rallying 'moderate' Islamic support for the president. Counter measures have included the arrest and planned prosecution of numerous Islamist leaders on a variety of charges from sedition to disseminating pornography.

HTI was one of four Islamist organisations that led the anti-Ahok campaign and the government probably regarded it as the easiest target. HTI's caliphal doctrines could be readily cast as a threat to national security and the organisation lacked the large and militant membership of FPI. Lastly, HTI was not especially popular within the broader Islamic community, with NU in particular openly calling for its banning. By announcing a ban on HTI, the government signaled to other Islamist organisations its determination to push back against them.

The sudden issuing of the Perppu last week was unexpected, as the government had previously said it would prosecute the matter through the courts, in keeping with the law governing social organisations. Last week the line changed with the government argued existing laws were inadequate for a timely prosecution and that the president had to resort to a Perppu to address a legal vacuum as well as a threat to the nation. The Perppu can be used by the Internal Affairs and Justice ministers to withdraw the legal status of a social organisation, with the obvious target being HTI. The government's actions were sharply criticised by NGOs, legal experts and the media, as well as by many Muslim leaders, as arbitrary and unwarranted.

The government's justification for the Perppu is indeed unconvincing and points to both haste and poor planning. Why was it only now aware of shortcomings in the social organisation law? Should not such matters have been investigated prior to the May announcement of HTI's dissolution? And where was the HTI threat that required such urgent action? The government has offered no good answers to these questions and its actions are better explained by the likely realisation that evidence against HTI may have been insufficient to win judicial approval of a ban. Indeed, Jokowi may be using the Perppu to maintain pressure on his Islamist foes.

All of this carries risks for Jokowi. HTI will appeal to the Constitutional Court and there appear to be grounds for arguing the government has not followed the Court's own ruling on the process for banning social organisations. If the Perppu is overturned, Jokowi's standing will be diminished and Islamist groups emboldened.

There are reasons to doubt whether a ban on HTI would be effective. Its membership is disciplined and resourceful, having undergone a long process of induction and caderisation. Hizbut Tahrir also has experience, both in Indonesia and abroad, of operating underground. HTI activists could simply create new labels for their activities or have no organisation affiliation at all, while secretly working through informal networks to pursue HTI's mission.

Finally, there is the matter of whether a nation that proclaims itself as an exemplar of democracy should be seeking to proscribe an organisation without compelling evidence of wrongdoing or threat. If it is the case that individual HTI leaders have advocated seizure of power, then they can be prosecuted under existing laws without seeking to disband an entire organisation. The proposed ban on HTI looks very much like an abuse of state power for political aims.

Source: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/jokowi-s-bungled-ban-hizbut-tahrir

Political parties & elections

Election law should not exist: Expert

Jakarta Post - July 21, 2017

Jakarta – Constitutional law expert Yusril Ihza Mahendra has said he is ready to file a judicial review request with the Constitutional Court to challenge the newly-passed election bill.

"As soon as the President [Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo] signs the election law, I will file a judicial review request," he said in an a statement on Friday.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a long overdue election bill, which requires a presidential candidate to get support from a party or coalition of parties with at least 20 percent of the seats in the legislature or 25 percent of the popular vote based on the outcome of the 2014 legislative elections.

Yusril said the presidential threshold contradicted the 1945 Constitution and, therefore, should not exist. "The submission of a recommendation for president and vice president candidates from political parties should be carried out before the legislative election. Whether or not the election is simultaneous, the presidential threshold should not exist," he said.

Yusril hoped the Constitutional Court would be neutral in examining his request for a review on the election bill. "I hope no one interferes with the court," he said, adding he was ready to file the judicial review alone should no one else want to fight against the law. (ecn/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/21/election-law-should-not-exist-expert.html

Election bill passed, presidential threshold intact

Jakarta Post - July 21, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The House of Representatives approved late on Thursday a long overdue election bill, which now only awaits the President's signature to become law.

The passed bill maintains a minimum requirement for political parties to nominate presidential candidates – a key decision that serves as a victory for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

After hours of lobbying, lawmakers gave up on trying to reach a consensus. Of all the items in the bill, nothing attracted a greater share of interest or caused more bickering than the presidential threshold, the minimum percentages of support required by political parties to nominate presidential candidates.

The ruling coalition parties, including the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Golkar Party, the Nation Awakening Party (PKB), the National Development Party (PPP), the NasDem Party and the Hanura Party, chose to keep the 20 and 25 percent thresholds.

That means a presidential candidate would require support from a party or coalition of parties with at least 20 percent of the seats in the legislature or 25 percent of the popular vote based on the outcome of the 2014 legislative elections.

The opposition camp, the Gerindra Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), along with a neutral camp formed by the Democratic Party, demanded the presidential threshold be scrapped to allow an unlimited number of presidential candidates.

The opponents of the threshold were worried that if it was maintained, there would likely be only two presidential candidates with enough support to compete in the next election.

One candidate is predicted to be from the ruling coalition, which controls about 70 percent of the House seats – if PAN is included in the tally – while another would be from the opposition camp, which secured 20 percent of the legislative seats in 2014.

Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party would have to join the opposition camp, or try to sway several members of the ruling camp to join its coalition, in order to be able to nominate a candidate.

Discussions in the meeting turned into a heavy debate, which at one point forced the House leaders to suspend the proceedings for several hours to give time for the factions to conduct last-minute negotiations and lobbying.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/21/election-bill-passed-presidential-threshold-intact.html

Lawmakers turn up in droves for election bill showdown

Jakarta Post - July 20, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – In a rare sight, almost all members of the House of Representatives arrived at the plenary session on Thursday, ready to cast their votes on the five contentious provisions in the election bill that will determine the mechanism of the 2019 general elections.

A typical plenary session sees the attendance of less than half of House members. Thursday's session, however, recorded the attendance of at least 534 of 560 lawmakers, an attendance of 95.4 percent.

Most factions are said to have instructed their members to attend the plenary session under the threat of sanctions to cast their votes and secure their faction's interests.

Hanura faction secretary Dadang Rusdiana said the party had banned its lawmakers from going out of town before the session. The instruction for the lawmakers to stay in Jakarta was distributed via WhatsApp, he said.

He added that the party would punish party member who decided to vote against the list of proposals officially agreed upon by the ruling coalition, of which Hanura is a member. The punishments ranged from the issuance of warning letters to their dismissal as lawmakers.

NasDem, also a member of the ruling coalition, had also instructed all of its lawmakers to attend the session and vote for the ruling coalition's proposal, known as Package A. The package includes a proposal to maintain the presidential nomination threshold at 20 percent of House seats or 25 percent of popular votes.

The threshold is intended to limit the number of parties able to field a candidate, and thereby limiting the total number of presidential contenders. (ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/20/lawmakers-turn-up-in-droves-for-election-bill-showdown.html

Ruling coalition upbeat about keeping presidential threshold

Jakarta Post - July 20, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – A couple of hours before voting commenced Thursday on the election bill at the House of Representatives, the ruling coalition was more optimistic that the presidential nomination threshold would be retained, as the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the National Awakening Party (PKB) had softened their stances.

The threshold is the benchmark for political parties to field presidential candidates in the 2019 general elections.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) faction secretary Bambang Wuryanto said the coalition parties had consolidated their stance on the presidential nomination threshold, the most heavily debated point among the five contentious provisions in the bill.

"The PKB will likely support Package A. But PAN still needs [persuading]," said Bambang.

PAN, he added, was willing to support to the current presidential nomination threshold of 20 percent of House seats or 25 percent of the popular vote, but the party also wanted to retain the Hare Quota, the quota-based votes-to-seats conversion method which was being offered in Packages B and E.

The PDI-P, along with four other parties of the government coalition, endorses Package A, which includes the Sainte-Lague conversion method.

If both PAN and PKB change their stances, the ruling coalition will win big in the voting process, as it faces only three opposition factions: Gerindra, the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

As of Thursday afternoon, lobbying was still ongoing although the plenary session had kicked off. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/20/coalition-parties-optimistic-about-unchanged-presidential-threshold.html

Blasphemy & shariah law

Indonesian religious ministry to propose tougher blasphemy laws

Asian Correspondent - July 21, 2017

Max Walden – Indonesia's Ministry of Religious Affairs is preparing revisions to the country's so-called Religious Rights Protection Bill that would significantly expand the definition of blasphemy and allow harsher punishments for the crime of insulting religion.

A major change to the law would be a broadened classification of the offence of blasphemy – which is currently "showing hostility, abuse, or desecration" towards a faith, its scriptures or institutions – to seven different kinds of blasphemy with varying periods of imprisonment from six months to five years.

Releasing an unofficial translation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims that the Religious Rights bill will simply further jeopardise minority rights in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation. The group says parliament is expected to be presented the bill before the end of 2017.

"The misnamed religious rights bill is nothing less than a repackaging of highly toxic regulations against religious minorities in Indonesia," said HRW's Indonesia researcher Andreas Harsono on Friday.

Dr Ken Setiawan, an expert in socio-legal studies and human rights at the Asia Institute, University of Melbourne also expressed concern, telling Asian Correspondent that "it's not about religious rights, it's about the curtailing of them."

'Religious harmony'

Indonesia is one of the most religious countries on the planet. A massive 95 percent of its population claimed religion is "very important" in a Pew Research poll from 2015, compared with 80 percent of Indians and 19 percent in South Korea.

The country's centuries-long tradition of largely peaceful religious co-existence, interfaith dialogue and syncretism has, however, increasingly come under attack since the fall of former dictator Suharto. Thousands of Indonesians have died in inter-religious violence in Maluku, Borneo and Java since 1998.

The political freedom granted to hardline Islamist groups during Indonesia's transition to democracy, coupled with the growing influence of fundamentalist Salafi schools of Islam, has spurred sectarian violence and the persecution of minority groups across the archipelago.

Indonesia's so-called "religious harmony laws" were introduced under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), whose son Agus ran unsuccessfully as a candidate in this year's Jakarta gubernatorial election against Ahok and the victorious Muslim candidate Anies Baswedan.

Ironically, the minister who oversaw the laws' implementation, Suryadharma Ali, was sentenced by the High Court to 10 years in imprison for corruption last year for embezzling almost US$7 million worth of taxpayer funds intended to support Indonesians to undertake hajj – the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Lamenting corruption and dysfunction within the religious affairs ministry, Jakarta Post columnist Julia Suryakusuma wrote in June last year: "Actually it should be called the Ministry of Islam, as it deals mainly with issues relating to Islam."

According to a statement from HRW, Indonesia's religious minorities "are vulnerable to discriminatory laws and official indifference to worsening intolerance by militant Islamists," and the new draft law "compounds rather than mitigates those threats."

Defining faith

Indonesian law recognises six official religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.

The country's 2010 census showed that more than 85 percent of the Indonesian population is Sunni Muslim. Around 10 percent are Christians, 1.7 percent are predominantly-Balinese Hindus, and the remainder are Buddhists, Confucians and adherents of indigenous religions.

Islam is taken to mean Sunni Islam – in contrast to Shia, Ahmadi or other interpretations of the faith – leading to crackdowns against minority sects in recent years.

Under 1973 marriage laws, those belonging to Indonesia's tribal religions cannot marry while interreligious marriages require one partner to formally convert to one of the six recognised religious doctrines.

"The recognition of religions in Indonesia is directly tied to civil rights – getting a birth certificate, getting a marriage certificate," said Setiawan. "It's almost a cascade which prevents people from accessing their basic rights."

Insulting religion

Indonesia's strict blasphemy laws came to international attention in May, when Jakarta's former Christian governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama was imprisoned for two years under the legislation, after a court found him to be guilty of insulting the Quran.

At the UN Human Rights Council in May, many countries expressed concern regarding freedom of religion in Indonesia given a sectarian-charged campaign against Ahok which culminated in his jailing. Several urged Indonesia to review and repeal its blasphemy laws.

"Laws that criminalise blasphemy when applied in a discriminatory manner can have a serious inhibiting effect on freedom of expression and on freedom of religion or belief," said a statement from the EU's Delegation in Indonesia.

The EU said the laws threaten Indonesia's "long-standing tradition of tolerance and pluralism."

Responding to the criticism, the country's Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly then claimed a "thorough study" of the laws would be undertaken.

But this draft bill looks like an attempt to strengthen, rather than review or repeal the laws, said Setiawan in an interview with Asian Correspondent. "The blasphemy law might have been criticised by all sorts of human rights groups but Indonesia has no intention of abolishing the law," she said.

The draft bill would allow courts to jail people for exhibiting "writings or pictures that can be publicly seen or audio materials which can be publicly audible, with blasphemous content" for five years.

Anyone who "illegally burns, destroys or taints a holy book" can also be jailed for five years, those proselytising could face four years in prison, while being convicted for deliberately making noise near house of worship carries 6 months' imprisonment.

Burnt houses, shuttered mosques

In practice, SBY's "religious harmony" laws have had the effect of restricting the establishment of churches or temples in predominantly Muslim areas. Minority groups have had immense difficulty establishing houses of worship, and in some cases have been the victims of mob violence.

Catholics in Bekasi near Jakarta have faced hostile and at times violent opposition from certain local Muslim groups while trying to construct a church in 2017. Just last month during Ramadan, authorities in Depok, West Java shuttered an Ahmadi mosque to prevent adherents from worshipping there.

Authorities in Jakarta and other parts of the country have similarly closed many houses of worship in recent years, often under the guise of guaranteeing a minority group's safety.

The religious ministry's new draft bill requires "real and serious necessity based on the proportion in which adherents of a particular religion exist relative to a subdistrict or village's total population."

It is highly prescriptive, requiring religious adherents to provide a list of names and identification cards for 90 people who will use the proposed house of worship, a list "demonstrating support" from local residents, approval from the religious affairs minister, and approval from the local inter-religious forum.

"These bodies with the power to decide on places of worship and so forth, they don't have a great reputation," said Setiawan.

In February 2016, the Al Fatah Islamic school for transgender Muslims in Yogyakarta, Central Java was forcibly shut down by authorities over alleged reports of noisy karaoke nights and alcohol consumption.

In a country where it is commonplace for mosques, schools or other institutions to block off entire streets for private events, the local government claimed Al Fatah was causing a public nuisance because of motorcycles blocking the street during events.

Religious rights as human rights

"It seems to me that this is part of a crackdown on civil liberties that we've seen under this administration," said Setiawan of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's government.

"If you look at Indonesia's national human rights action plan 2014-2019 period, there's a very strong emphasis on social and economic rights and not so much civil and political rights, within which freedom of religious falls."

Recent changes to the national law on civil society organisations, which allowed Jokowi to disband fundamentalist Muslim group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), have been criticised by hardline Islamic and human rights groups alike.

"The Indonesian government has an obligation to respect religious freedom and defend the rights of religious minorities rather than further entrench discrimination in a legal framework," Harsono said on Friday.

"The government should toss out this draft law and the discriminatory regulations that it seeks to enshrine."

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/07/indonesian-religious-ministry-propose-tougher-blasphemy-laws/

Nationalism & state ideology

Djarot tells 'anti-Pancasila' civil servants to quit

Jakarta Post - July 24, 2017

Ivany Atina Arby, Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat has warned his staff to resign from office if they feel the state ideology Pancasila is irrelevant to the country.

He said that all civil servants had sworn to protect and abide by the ideology. "If any civil servant thinks Pancasila is not appropriate, just be nice and send a resignation letter," Djarot told reporters at City Hall on Monday.

Djarot added that those opposed to Pancasila should even leave the country and find other nations that accommodated their ideology.

Djarot made the comment following intensive attempts from the central government to promote Pancasila and crackdowns on organizations believed to threaten the state ideology.

Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo has previously urged all civil servants involved in any activity in contravention of the Pancasila principles to voluntarily resign from their positions. (fac)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/24/djarot-tells-anti-pancasila-civil-servants-to-leave-office.html

Islamic boarding schools key to guarding national unity: Minister

Jakarta Post - July 18, 2017

Jakarta – Islamic boarding schools, or pesantren, should be at the forefront of guarding the state ideology Pancasila and the principle of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) amid the growing radicalism that threatens the country's unity, a minister has said.

Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa, who is also head of Muslimat NU, the women's wing of the largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, said clerics and teachers at boarding schools had a key role in building children's character, especially through instilling a sense of religious pluralism.

"Islamic boarding schools play a significant role in shaping the moral values of the future generation, particularly by teaching Islam as rahmatan lil' alamin [blessing for the world and all within], namely that Islam promotes peace and tolerance," Khofifah said in a statement.

In front of hundreds of Muslimat NU members and teachers of Pondok Pesantren Minhajut Thullab gathered in South Konawe, South Sulawesi, on Monday, Khofifah asserted that Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution were the final consensus of Indonesia's founding fathers.

The founding fathers agreed to establish a country and a government that would accommodate the diverse religious and ethnic groups in Indonesia, she stressed.

"I have always said that we should position ourselves as Indonesians who are Muslim, not as Muslims who live in Indonesia, so we have a sense of responsibility [to act] when the nation is under threat," said Khofifah. (afr/ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/18/islamic-boarding-schools-key-to-guarding-national-unity-minister.html

Environment & natural disasters

Environment minister responds to President's criticism

Jakarta Post - July 24, 2017

Jakarta – In response to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's criticism of the issuance of business-unfriendly regulations, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar says she never felt that she had issued regulations that caused problems for the business community.

Siti said on Monday she also never received any complaints from any businessman about regulations she had issued.

"No, I never heard that they [businesspeople] complained about regulations. Please, let me know, about what?" said Siti in Jakarta on Monday as reported by kontan.co.id.

Earlier on Monday, President Jokowi criticized Minister Siti and Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan for issuing ministerial regulations that contravened the government's deregulation program to improve the ease of doing business in the country.

"What we need to do is improve the ease of doing business in this country. Ministerial regulations should always refer to the objective. They should not scare investors away," Jokowi said during the Cabinet meeting on Monday.

Siti said she was not warned by President Jokowi before the President expressed his criticism during the Cabinet meeting.

However, she said would soon check the ministerial regulations she had issued that the President believed had disrupted the investment climate. "I will check, I need to study this because the statement came from the President," she added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/24/environment-minister-responds-to-presidents-criticism.html

Indonesia environment minister wants permanent ban on licences to use forest

Reuters - July 24, 2017

Jakarta – Indonesia's environment minister said on Monday (24/07) she wants to make permanent a moratorium on issuing new licences to use land designated as primary forest and peatland.

The moratorium, part of an effort to reduce emissions from fires caused by deforestation, was extended by President Joko Widodo for a third time in May.

"So far its only been extended, and extended again. I want a permanent [moratorium]," said Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar. "Our primary forest cannot be cleared out."

Indonesia is prone to outbreaks of forest fires during dry seasons, often blamed on the draining of peatland forests and land clearance for agriculture such as the cultivation of palm oil.

The resulting choking smoke from the world's biggest palm oil producer often blows across to neighboring countries like Singapore and Malaysia, slashing visibility and causing a health hazard.

Established in 2011, the moratorium covered an area of more than 66 million hectares by November 2016.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-environment-minister-wants-permanent-ban-licences-use-forest-land/

Pepsico, Unilever and Nestle accused of complicity in illegal rainforest

The Guardian (Australia) - July 21, 2017

Arthur Neslen – Pepsico, Unilever and Nestle have been accused of complicity in the destruction of Sumatra's last tract of rainforest shared by elephants, orangutans, rhinos, and tigers together in one ecosystem.

Plantations built on deforested land have allegedly been used to supply palm oil to scores of household brands that also include McDonald's, Mars, Kellogg's and Procter & Gamble, according to a new report.

"If more immediate action is not taken to enforce 'no deforestation' policies, these brands will be remembered as the corporate giants responsible for the destruction of the last place on earth where Sumatran elephants, orangutans, rhinos and tigers roamed side by side," says the study by Rainforest Action Network (RAN).

Using satellite data, photographic evidence and GPS coordinates, the research builds on evidence gathered earlier this year to show ongoing illegal forest clearances across swathes of the 2.6m hectare Leuser ecosystem, despite a moratorium announced last June.

The palm oil reaches major brands via a twisting supply chain that stretches from the PT Agra Bumi Niaga (ABN) logging company, which delivers to a processing mill owned by PT Ensem Sawita (ES), which then sells the palm oil on to some of the world's largest traders. PT is an abbreviation that denotes a limited liability company in Indonesia.

PT ABN declined requests for comment but after extensive Guardian inquiries, PT ES admitted using ABN's palm oil – due to confusion after the logging firm changed its name – and said that it "regretted this failure".

The company promised to "strengthen our traceability practices by exchanging information to relevant stakeholders who have palm oil plantation data."

However, Gemma Tillack, RAN's agribusiness campaigns director, said that ABN's name change had been reported, and the continued inability of palm traders and food brands to source the palm they used back to the plantations showed a wider failing of due diligence systems.

"Relying on NGOs to uncover the truth is simply not good enough," she said. "If RAN, with our relatively limited budget, can figure it out, then multibillion dollar, multinational corporations certainly can. The fact that they haven't demonstrates that it is not a lack of ability holding them back, but a lack of will."

Leuser's vanishing ecosystem is already have a devastating effect on critically endangered elephants which use it as a migratory corridor. At least 35 elephants were killed in Leuser between 2012-2015, and human-animal conflicts are fast increasing as palm plantations fragment animal habitats.

Many species such as tigers, clouded leopards and sun bears are becoming more vulnerable to poachers, as their environment disappears. Leuser is still Sumatra's largest rainforest and its Unesco world heritage status was reaffirmed this month, despite Indonesian government protests.

But its deforestation rate is among the world's highest. In the 2015 haze disaster, Sumatran wildfires, often linked to plantation activity, destroyed 8,000 sq miles of rainforest, contributing to the early deaths of an estimated 100,000 people and emitting more CO2 than the whole of the UK that year.

Indonesia's president Joko Widodo responded with a moratorium on new palm oil permits last April. Two months later, Aceh's governor, Zaini Abdullah ordered palm oil companies to halt all forest clearing, even where valid permits existed.

But RAN's research shows that ABN continued clearing another 336 hectares of Sumatran rainforest after Abdullah's instruction, with 12 hectares of new deforestation since February.

In just one district of the Leuser, nine other suppliers to milling companies continued logging activities since last June across concessions with a combined area of more than 26,000 hectares, according to RAN's research.

Tillack said: "We believe that there was a rush to clear land because the [logging] companies knew that there would be government intervention to stop forest clearances.

"Global brands like Pepsico can no longer hide behind paper promises and simply blame their international partners for forest crimes. The Leuser ecosystem will die a death of a thousand cuts if brands don't start taking urgent action to address the root cause of this crisis."

A spokesman for Pepsico, singled out by RAN as "the ultimate snack food 20 laggard", said "We take this issue very seriously, and we are making significant investments to improve every aspect of our palm oil supply chain. After being informed of the allegations, we immediately initiated a thorough investigation. While we do not source directly from the mills in question, we identified direct suppliers who had the mills in their supply chains. We have been assured that these suppliers are taking corrective actions to address the allegations."

Unilever admitted that it had indirectly bought palm oil from PT ABN through its suppliers, Wilmar and Musim Mas, and said that it had requested "a response and an action plan" from them soon.

Nestle also said that it was investigating the allegations with Wilmar – which told the guardian that it was sending a team to the region to assess whether other sources in its supply chain were using palm oil sourcing back to PT ABN's 2,000 hectare concession.

Mars and Kellogg's stressed their sustainable palm oil policies, while Procter & Gamble said that it had told suppliers about its responsible sourcing policy. McDonald's denied any links to PT ABN.

Of the palm oil traders which supplying the food brands, IOI said that that it had "registered recent deliveries from PT ES in our supply chain" but that the firm had "confirmed that they no longer source from PT ABN".

Golden Agri-Resources said that its exposure to PT ES was "relatively small" but that it would visit the company in the next weeks to find out if it was indirectly selling on palm oil from PT ABN. Cargill and Musim Mas both said that they were investigating the reports.

However, the companies had been warned about 'conflict palm oil' entering the supply chain through PT ES's third-party suppliers since 2014, and engagement with the firm had not changed its behaviour.

"Brands and traders tend to hide behind supply chain complexities," she said, "but consumers need to know whether or not the palm oil they use is connected to the destruction of rainforests."

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/21/pepsico-unilever-and-nestle-accused-of-complicity-in-illegal-rainforest-destruction

Health & education

Indonesian healthcare relies heavily on imported equipment

Jakarta Post - July 20, 2017

Jon Afrizal, Jakarta – Indonesia needs to reduce its dependency on imported healthcare equipment, an official has said.

Central Java provincial health agency head Yulianto Prabowo said the contribution of local products to healthcare equipment was only 6 percent.

"The distribution permits for the equipment are now controlled by foreign companies," Yulianto said while opening a healthcare equipment factory in Semarang on Wednesday as reported by kompas.com.

As such, he stressed the need to encourage local healthcare equipment makers to produce more products to help reduce the country's dependency on imported products.

The total annual value of the healthcare equipment market in Indonesia is Rp 12 trillion (US$900 million), said Yulianto, adding that hospitals and healthcare clinics in Central Java spent about Rp 1.2 trillion per year on the equipment.

He expressed the hope that the procurement process for equipment could become more transparent to avoid unhealthy competition. "I hope all prices for healthcare equipment will be listed in an e-catalogue so that it is fair for all stakeholders," he added.

He also encouraged hospitals and other institutions to purchase local healthcare equipment products as local factories had started to produce various items such as laboratory tools, radiology equipment, operation tables, wheelchairs and patient beds. "We need good quality products, but it doesn't mean that we have to import," he added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/20/indonesian-healthcare-relies-heavily-on-imported-equipment.html

Corruption & abuse of power

House's Instagram tirade against KPK goes viral

Jakarta Post - July 20, 2017

Jakarta – A crude attack against the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) launched via the House of Representatives' official Instagram account has violently thrown the tense relationship between the two institutions into the public spotlight.

Since House Speaker Setya Novanto was named a suspect in an e-ID graft case on Monday, five sarcastic posts related to the KPK have been posted on the House's Instagram account, the address of which is @dpr_ri. Comments from several experts were quoted in the posts.

The latest post, which says "KPK kerjanya nguping" (The KPK can keep an ear to the ground only), was posted on Wednesday and has received at least 3,000 comments, most of which are negative, as of 12:30 p.m. on Thursday.

"Aren't people's representatives supposed to contribute to graft eradication, even only by wiretapping?" someone with the account @reyzaldiel wrote in a comment box.

The post was screenshot and posted by a Hellena Y. Souisa onto her Twitter account, with a message: "Please clarify @DPR_RI, what's the meaning behind this post?"

Two other posts on @dpr_ri contain pictures carrying messages, which read "KPK is too scared to face the House inquiry special committee" and "Special Committee will keep going."

Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) activist Tama S. Langkun said the posts showed the House did not manage its official social media account wisely.

"People will feel disappointed to have entrusted their mandate to the House if it makes such posts on its social media account," Tama told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. (yon/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/20/houses-instagram-tirade-against-KPK-goes-viral.html

KPK, Jokowi most trusted graft-busters, survey shows

Jakarta Post - July 20, 2017

Jakarta – A survey conducted by Indonesia Corruption Watch and social research firm Polling Center has shown that the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo have the public's highest trust with regard to antigraft efforts.

The survey, conducted between April and May in 34 provinces, 177 regencies/cities and 212 villages, showed that 86 percent of its 2,235 respondents trust the KPK and the president.

Meanwhile, political parties, private corporations and the House of Representatives are the least trusted, with 35 percent, 49 percent and 51 percent respectively.

Polling Center researcher Henny Susilowati said the public's high trust in Jokowi is due to his firm stance against corruption and the perception of him being "clean." According to Henny, the KPK – the national antigraft agency established in 2002 – is considered quite successful in its work.

"The KPK is seen as successful in catching corruptors, including high-profile persons. The House of Representatives, private companies and political parties score low in the public's trust, because many corrupt officials derive from these three institutions," Henny said during the survey release at the Sari Pan Pacific hotel in Central Jakarta, on Thursday (20/07).

The survey also shows that this year the government is considered as more serious in its corruption eradication campaign, with more respondents having hope in its efforts than in 2016.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/KPK-jokowi-trusted-graft-busters-survey-shows/

KPK has worked properly on e-ID probe: Jokowi

Jakarta Post - July 19, 2017

Haeril Halim and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Against the backdrop of the latest Corruption Eradication Commission's (KPK) move in naming House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto a suspect in the high-profile e-ID graft case, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo reiterated his support for the anticorruption campaign.

Jokowi said he believed that the antigraft body was on the right track. "We believe the KPK has worked in line with its authority," Jokowi said in response to media questions on Wednesday.

However, he refused to comment further on Setya to avoid creating the impression that he was intervening amid an ongoing spat between the KPK and lawmakers that surfaced after the KPK launched an investigation into the procurement of e-ID cards in which dozens of politicians have been implemented.

Setya, the chairman of the Golkar Party, the second-biggest party in the government coalition, allegedly played a key role in the case, which caused Rp 2.3 trillion (US$172.7 million) in state losses.

House deputy speakers Fadli Zon and Fahri Hamzah recently blasted the naming of Setya as a suspect, claiming it was politically motivated and done in retaliation for the House's move to open an inquiry into the KPK.

Being declared a suspect has not cost Setya his speakership post. According to the law, Setya should be removed from his post only if he is found guilty by a court of law.

Speculation is rife that Setya's case may result in Golkar withdrawing its support for the government, even though Golkar executives have several times emphasized that Golkar would stay in the progovernment coalition. (ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/19/KPK-has-worked-properly-on-e-id-probe-jokowi.html

Golkar's young politicians demand Setya Novanto's resignation

Jakarta Post - July 19, 2017

Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – Young Golkar politicians have called on party chairman Setya Novanto to resign from his post as the House of Representatives speaker because of his new status as a suspect in the e-ID corruption case.

Golkar's Youth Wing (AMPG) chairman Ahmad Doli Kurnia said Setya's status as a corruption suspect would affect the working performance of the House and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration and burden the image of the legislative body as well.

"We are calling on Setya to give up his speaker post. His resignation will show his support for the Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla administration," Doli said on Wednesday.

He was also worried Setya would "misuse" the House, as the country's top legislative body, for the sake of his own interests, including to help himself "escape" from the legal process. "It's very possible that [Setya] can misuse the legislative body to protect his individual interest," Doli said.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named Setya a suspect in the e-ID graft case on Tuesday, accusing him of playing a key role in the mega-scandal that allegedly caused Rp 2.3 trillion (US$172.81 million) in state losses.

Several factions at the House have urged Setya to resign so that he could focus on dealing with the case without interrupting the House's agenda. He has refused to resign so far as he has maintained he is innocent.

Another AMPG member, Samsul Hidayat, said Setya's reluctance to resign would burden the image of both the party and the government, particularly in relation to the nation's agenda to eradicate corruption. (foy/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/19/golkars-young-politicians-demand-setya-novantos-resignation.html

Another Golkar lawmaker named e-ID graft suspect

Jakarta Post - July 19, 2017

Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has named former House of Representatives lawmaker Markus Nari of the Golkar Party a suspect in the multi-trillion-rupiah e-ID graft case.

"His alleged role was to smoothen the deliberation of the e-ID project, including the marking up of its budget, at the House. In return, Markus allegedly received Rp 4 billion (US$300,000) from Irman," KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said at a media briefing on Wednesday afternoon.

He was referring to one of two former Home Ministry officials currently standing trial in the case at the Jakarta Corruption Court.

The KPK has charged Markus under articles 3 or 2 (1) of the 2001 Corruption Eradication Law, which carry a maximum punishment of 20 years' imprisonment and a Rp 1 billion fine.

Markus is the latest suspect to be named in the e-ID case, just two days after the KPK named House Speaker Setya Novanto a suspect in the same case.

Setya, who is also the Golkar Party chairman, is accused of playing a key role in planning a scheme to embezzle Rp 5.9 trillion from for the e-ID project.

Markus was previously named a suspect for perjury and alleged attempts to obstruct the KPK investigation into the e-ID graft case, which caused Rp 2.3 trillion in state losses. (kuk/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/19/another-golkar-lawmaker-named-e-id-graft-suspect.html

MK rejects immunity for lawyers from KPK investigation

Jakarta Post – July 19, 2017

Jakarta – The Constitutional Court (MK) rejected on Wednesday a judicial review request filed by a lawyer seeking immunity for lawyers from investigation by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

In a hearing presided over by chief justice Arief Hidayat on Wednesday, the MK dismissed the challenge made by plaintiff Tonin Tachta Singarimbun to an article in the 2002 KPK Law, which allows the antigraft body to probe law enforcement officers.

"The challenge made by the plaintiff is not justified in law," said Arief as he read out the verdict.

Tonin filed a judicial review request in August last year to exclude lawyers from the categorization of law enforcement officers. He claimed a lawyer could not be counted as a state body.

Tonin further argued that lawyers could not be categorized as law enforcers because they did not have any power to investigate or to prosecute.

Last year, watchdog Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) released a report saying 11 lawyers had allegedly been involved in corruption cases.

One of most outstanding cases was when the KPK named senior lawyer O.C. Kaligis as a graft suspect in July 2015. He was accused of having bribed judges at Medan State Administrative Court to secure the case of his client, former North Sumatra governor Gatot Pudjo Nugroho. The court sentenced Kaligis to five-and-a-half-years' imprisonment.

The Supreme Court increased Kaligis' punishment to 10 years in prison after it rejected his appeal in August last year. (kuk/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/19/mk-rejects-immunity-for-lawyers-from-KPK-investigation.html

Scandal-prone Indonesian speaker Setya Novanto named as embezzlement suspect

Sydney Morning Herald - July 18, 2017

Jewel Topsfield, Jakarta – The scandal-prone speaker of Indonesia's House of Representatives, Setya Novanto, could face years in jail after he was named a suspect by the nation's powerful Corruption Eradication Commission.

Mr Novanto was reappointed as speaker last November despite accusations he had tried to extort $US1.8 billion ($2.3 billion) in shares from the local subsidiary of US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan in exchange for lobbying to extend its contract at a copper and gold mine in Papua.

He denied the allegations, the constitutional court ruled in his favour and he was cleared by parliament's ethics panel.

But on Monday the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named Mr Novanto as a suspect over his role in the alleged embezzlement of $US173 million from the budget of a national electronic ID card program known as e-KTP.

Mr Novanto said he was shocked by the KPK's decision to name him a suspect and that he had never received the alleged sum.

"That amount of money is huge. How was it transferred? How did I take it? So I beg of you, don't continue with this injustice. I have tried along with other members of parliament to serve my country to the best of my ability."

The latest furore could impact on Indonesian President Joko Widodo's bid for re-election in 2019, given Mr Novanto is the chairman of the Golkar Party, the second-largest party in the ruling coalition.

Soon after he was elected chairman, Mr Novanto said the party would back Mr Joko in the 2019 presidential elections despite supporting his opponent, Prabowo Subianto, in 2014.

Mr Novanto made a bizarre appearance at a press conference in Trump Tower during Donald Trump's election campaign, with Mr Trump describing him as "one of the powerful men and a great man". Mr Trump asked him "Do they like me in Indonesia?" to which Mr Novanto replied: "Yes, highly."

Political analyst Kevin O'Rourke said the e-KTP case was the first in which Mr Novanto had become a suspect in a case investigated by the KPK, so he believed it would result in a conviction.

Since its inception in 2003, the highly respected KPK has had an almost 100 per cent conviction rate. "Novanto... was a central figure in the major 1999 Bank Bali scandal, but that occurred prior to the KPK's formation," Mr O'Rourke said.

"There was a budgeting kickback case that the KPK investigated, but did not pursue; Novanto did not become a suspect. The 2015 Freeport Tape Scandal involved devastating reputational damage, but as a case of perpetrating clear acts of corruption it was weak, so the KPK did not handle it."

Associate Professor Marcus Mietzner from the Australian National University said Mr Novanto's only chance at this point would be a pretrial challenge against his indictment, which is heard by a single judge. "If that is thrown out, and the case does go to trial, his conviction is almost a certainty," he said.

Indonesian Corruption Watch researcher Donal Fariz said Mr Novanto should be immediately replaced as house speaker and chairman of Golkar.

"This is important to test how clean the Golkar Party is, given corruption has implicated some of their cadres, including their own chairman," he said. "They must show the public whose side they are on. People are waiting for Golkar's move. It will show how clean and mature the party is."

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/scandalprone-indonesian-speaker-setya-novanto-named-as-embezzlement-suspect-20170718-gxdl53.html

Setya urged to resign as House speaker

Jakarta Post - July 18, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – Five of the 10 political factions at the House of Representatives have called on Speaker Setya Novanto to resign from his post after being named a graft suspect for his alleged role in the e-ID graft case.

The political factions, including the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), argued that the graft charges leveled against Setya tarnished the image of the legislative body and would undermine its performance.

"Considering the image and credibility of the legislative body, resignation is the best option," PDI-P faction deputy chairman Hendrawan Soepratikno said.

The KPK announced on Monday evening that Setya had been implicated in a scheme to embezzle funds earmarked for the e-ID project.

According to Legislative Institutions (MD3) Law, the Golkar Party, which is led by Setya, has the final say on whether to replace Setya.

"According to the law, we have no authority to force Setya to resign. But ethically, it's better for him to resign or his situation will affect the legislative agenda," Democratic Party faction secretary Didik Mukrianto said.

Setya is the second Golkar politician to be charged with graft while leading the party and holding the House speakership. In 2002, the Attorney General's Office (AGO) charged then House speaker and Golkar chief Akbar Tanjung with corruption in connection to a State Logistics Agency (Bulog) graft case.

Akbar refused to resign and was later acquitted of all charges by the Supreme Court. (ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/18/setya-urged-to-resign-as-house-speaker.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

Security chief warns of terrorists infiltrating social organisations, government

Detik News - July 18, 2017

Edward Febriyatri Kusuma, Jakarta – Coordinating Minister for Politics, Security and Legal Affairs (Menko Polhukam) Wiranto has warned that terrorists could infiltrate various institutions including social organisations (ormas) and government bodies.

The terrorists then manipulate public opinion through the foundation or institution they have infiltrated.

"I say that these terrorists are using any and all methods. They can enter an ormas, they can enter a government institution, why not? Because they brainwash [people]. They manipulate opinion", said Wiranto after attending the 7th anniversary of the National Anti-Terror Agency (BNPT) in Sentul, Bogor, on Monday July 17.

According to Wiranto, in a digitally connected world, terrorists also use sophisticated technology to spread ideas and ideologies through the virtual world.

"Moreover with cyber technology, internet technology, they can brain wash [people] with the ideology of terror, deviant ideologies, particularly teenagers. They can use cyber technology to make a bomb, teach how to radicalise [people], that's what they're doing", he explained.

Wiranto is calling on the public not to be complacent about terrorist radicalism and is asking the public to be vigilant and on guard.

"So don't think that they haven't infiltrated social organisations, they can. So be vigilant, we have 344 thousand or 344,399 social organisations to be precise. They must be closely monitored, don't let them be taken over by these ideas", he said.

Wiranto believes that it is the government's duty to protect society and that legal action can be taken within democracy.

"So it's still democratic, because [we] still follow the law. If [we] didn't follow the law, yeah okay, it would be easiest just to arrest [them], there are signs, just arrest [them]. But later we'll be accused", he said in conclusion. (edo/rna)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Menko Polhukam: Teroris Bisa Masuk ke Ormas dan Lembaga Pemerintah".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/3563614/menko-polhukam-teroris-bisa-masuk-ke-ormas-dan-lembaga-pemerintah

Poverty, inequality rates stagnant

Jakarta Post - July 17, 2017

Stefani Ribka, Jakarta – The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) announced Monday that the poverty rate and inequality rate or Gini ratio were stagnant from September 2016 to March 2017 as a result of government spending not reaching a level that could offset inflation.

The poverty rate in March hit 10.64 percent, down 0.06 point from 10.7 percent in September 2016, while the Gini ratio was 0.393, down only 0.001 point from September last year.

The Gini ratio is a measure of inequality in which zero represents complete equality and one represents complete inequality.

"This means there has been almost no change in spending gap among the population during the period," BPS head Suhariyanto announced at a media conference on Monday.

BPS deputy head for social statistics Sairi Hasbullah added that infrastructure development had increased government spending but not at the same rate as inflation at 2.24 percent in the same period.

"The point now is how to accelerate public spending. That's the task of our regulators," he said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/17/poverty-inequality-rates-stagnant.html

Farming & agriculture

Government wants House to scrap palm oil bill

Jakarta Post - July 18, 2017

Grace D. Amianti, Jakarta – The government has called on the House of Representative to delist the palm oil bill from its prioritized legislation program this year.

Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution said on Monday that if the bill was passed into law, it was contradict other existing laws and regulations.

"Based on our comprehensive review and consultation with various stakeholders, the government concludes that the palm oil bill is not yet needed," he said in a hearing with the House's Legislation Body (Baleg) on Monday.

In its review, the government found that the bill contradicted a number of laws, namely Law No. 39/2014 on plantations, Law No. 14/2014 on industry and Law No. 19/1999 on the protection and empowerment of farmers.

One chapter, about 6 percent of the bill's content, had significant differences with existing regulations, while two others, 12 percent of the content, also differed from current laws, according to the review.

The government will instead strengthen the existing Indonesian Oil Palm Estate Fund (BPDP-KS) to support a national revitalization program for at least 30,000 hectares of oil palm plantations in the next year as well as a biodiesel scheme.

Most Baleg members have insisted on continuing with deliberating the bill as Indonesia needs a specific law, or lex specialis, to regulate palm oil as a national strategic commodity that is one of the country's major sources of income. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/18/government-wants-house-to-scrap-palm-oil-bill.html

Cabinet & the presidency

Government denies Cabinet reshuffle reports

Jakarta Post - July 18, 2017

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung has denied reports by several online portals about President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's intention to replace several of his ministers.

Speculation had grown stronger on Monday when the President summoned several ministers, including Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan and his deputy minister Arcandra Tahar.

"The meeting was about the assessment of officials [in several ministries] to be assigned as the first echelon officials in their respective institutions, nothing else," Pramono said at the State Palace in Jakarta on Monday. Read also: Parties brace for possible Cabinet reshuffle

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saefuddin, who also attended the meeting, confirmed that the meeting was to discuss the replacement of high-ranking ministerial officials, including those in his ministry.

Lukman did not explain about reshuffle in his ministry, saying that evaluations of six high positions were being carried out at the ministry.

President Jokowi has reshuffled his Cabinet Ministers twice during his term so far – in August 2015 and July 2016. Jokowi was said to have informed several political parties in May about his plan to reshuffle high-ranking officials. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/18/government-denies-cabinet-reshuffle-reports.html

Jakarta & urban life

Don't make us get nothing: Speaker on Jakarta councilors' allowance increase

Jakarta Post - July 24, 2017

Jakarta – Amid the contentious debate on the prospective allowance increase for Jakarta councilors, criticized for their sluggish performance, City Council speaker Prasetyo Edi Marsudi has defended the cause, saying that it is a form of appreciation for their hard work.

"Don't make us get nothing, we have worked hard by, among other things, producing bylaws," Prasetio said at City Hall on Monday as quoted by kompas.com.

Prasetio, a politician from the Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said that city councilors deserved an allowance increase as stipulated in a 2017 Government Regulation on financial and administration authority of regional council leaders and members.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo signed the regulation on June 2. The regulation allows all councilors and regional administrations to issue a bylaw regulating the former's allowance increase.

In an ongoing deliberation of the bylaw, all factions at the council have agreed on the need to increase their allowance, which is currently considered among the highest in the country.

The council speakers currently receive around Rp 95 million (US$7,125) per month, while members receive around Rp 75 million per month.

The councilors' high hopes for passing the salary increase bylaw comes in contrast to their performance. Of the 32 draft bylaws listed in this year's city legislation program (Prolegda), the City Council has passed just two to the Home Affairs Ministry, which aim at regulating Jakarta's libraries and archives. (fac)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/24/dont-make-us-get-nothing-speaker-on-jakarta-councilors-allowance-increase.html

Collusion reappears between Jakarta Council, administration after Ahok's

Jakarta Post - July 21, 2017

Jakarta – Collusion between the City Council and the Jakarta administration has reemerged after former governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama was forced to step down from his post, Center for Budget Analysis executive director Uchok Khadafi said.

Uchok said he had been alerted to an alleged violation relating to the floor area ratio (KLB) limits of some buildings, including a 13-story building in Pantai Indah Kapuk, Penjaringan, North Jakarta.

"The council became free after Ahok's departure. I just got information about how city councilors assisted the violation process of the projects," Uchok said on Friday as quoted by tribunnews.com, adding that the case should be investigated.

Uchok claimed that buildings in Pantai Indah Kapuk in North Jakarta should have less than 13 floors.

City Council deputy speaker Abraham "Lulung" Lunggana has said previously that the building did not violate any regulations, referring to city bylaw No. 1/2014 on detailed spatial planning, issued by then Jakarta governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, the country's current president.

"[The project] also followed the 1999 detailed spatial planning [RDTR] bylaw. It has been compliant," Lulung said. (vny)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/21/collusion-reappears-between-jakarta-council-administration-after-ahoks-departure-expert.html

Civilians to be recruited to ease traffic congestion

Jakarta Post - July 21, 2017

Jakarta – The Jakarta Police plans to formally recruit civilians who usually help manage traffic at intersections and U-turns in exchange for small tips, to help ease heavy traffic congestion in the capital.

Jakarta Police traffic unit head Sr. Comr. Halim Paggara said he would coordinate with the city administration to implement the plan along some congested roads, such as in Kuningan, South Jakarta, where a construction project was under way.

"We will deploy more personal [to manage the traffic flow] in Kuningan, which has been affected by several ongoing construction projects," Halim said at the police headquarters in Senayan, South Jakarta, on Friday, as quoted by tempo.co.

He added that the civilians, popularly known as the Pak Ogah squad, would be equipped with special uniforms. Business entities near congestion hotspots would pay them. "We will ask businesses to pay them using their CSR funds."

The city administration is currently expediting some infrastructure projects such as mass rapid transit (MRT) and light rail transit (LRT), resulting in increased traffic congestion near construction sites during rush hour. (vny)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/21/civilians-to-be-recruited-to-ease-traffic-congestion.html

Jakarta's sidelined pedestrians are reclaiming the footpaths

Sydney Morning Herald - July 19, 2017

Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies, Jakarta – Alfred Sitorus is a self-appointed footpath warrior. Every Friday afternoon he and other members of the Koalisi Pejalan Kaki (Coalition of Pedestrians) pound the pavements of Jakarta defending walkers' rights.

Jakarta's footpaths are infamously ambushed by motorcycles, street food vendors, piles of concrete, electricians repairing cables and poles. Anyone who wants to use sidewalks to actually walk are often sidelined.

A Stanford University study recently found Indonesians walked the least number of steps in the world – just 3513 a day – compared to the almost 7000 daily steps taken by the energetic citizens of the planet's most active country, Hong Kong. (For the record, Australia was the 19th laziest country with 4941 steps a day.)

"Footpaths are often uncomfortable, unsafe, sometimes non-existent and often occupied by street vendors or used as a parking lots for motorcycles," Sitorus says.

"Now people tend to ride their motorbikes just to buy cigarettes from a warung [roadside stall] or kiosk that is 50 metres away from their house."

A movement to reclaim the pavement was born in 2011 after Sitorus and his friends realised they shared experiences of being scolded by street vendors for walking on the footpath or nearly bowled over by motorbikes. "Our life was in danger when walking," Sitorus says.

As an, ahem, footnote, the same group had been instigators in 2007 of Jakarta's famous Car-Free Days, in which vehicles are banned from the capital's main thoroughfares between 6am and 11am every Sunday.

The mass euphoria of being able to access normally-gridlocked streets on foot, bicycle or rollerskate is so palpable the Car-Free Days always have a carnival-like atmosphere.

"Since we were the ones who initiated the Car-Free Day movement in Indonesia and it became quite successful and has now spread to 60 cities, we decided to launch another initiative called the Coalition of Pedestrians," Sitorus says.

The movement really gained momentum after a shocking car accident on January 22, 2012, when a motorist mounted a curb near the Tugu Tani monument in the Jakarta suburb of Menteng and mowed down pedestrians, killing nine.

The coalition declared January 22 National Pedestrian Day and redoubled its efforts to educate street vendors, motorbike riders and electricians, who dig up footpaths to repair cables.

"The government has data that 18 pedestrians die every day in Indonesia," Sitorus says. "The reasons are varied... undisciplined riders, street vendors who erect their warungs on the footpath, electricity works, all of which force pedestrians to walk on the streets."

About 30,000 people have liked Koalisi Pejalan Kaki's postings on social media and there are now branches of the movement in 10 cities, including Bogor, Makassar, Semarang, Yogyakarta and Medan.

Sympathisers send paint to help the footpath warriors patch up zebra crossings. "At the moment we are collecting the websites of local governments so whenever there is a public complaint about footpaths or zebra crossings we can inform them."

Sitorus says that most of the Coalition's requests to governments fall on deaf ears. But it clocked up a win last year when the Jakarta administration pledged to fix 2700 kilometres of footpaths.

"However it cannot be realised soon because the Jakarta government can only build 50 kilometres annually," Sitorus says.

So, where are the best footpaths in Indonesia? Surabaya, the nation's second-largest city, is the unequivocal response.

Unlike in Jakarta, Sitorus says, all the footpaths are the same model, which makes maintenance easier and more cost efficient. Surabaya also has manholes to access electricity cables underneath the footpaths, which means they don't have to be continually dug up.

"We want the Ministry of Public Transportation to tell all regional governments to have a footpath masterplan so cities can be built in a more integrated way."

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/jakartas-sidelined-pedestrians-are-reclaiming-the-footpaths-20170719-gxeacv.html

Transport & communication

Dwell time at ports worsens to 3.5 days: Official

Jakarta Post - July 17, 2017

Jakarta – The government's effort to improve services at seaports has suffered a setback, as indicated by the worsening dwell time to 3.6 days in the first half of 2017 from 2.9 days in late 2016.

The Transportation Ministry's maritime affairs director general, Antonius Tonny Budiman, said the longer dwell time was caused by an increase in freight volume at the ports, particularly prior to the Idul Fitri holiday.

"There are long queues. It affects dwell time," Tonny said as reported by kompas.com over the weekend, adding that his office would evaluate activities at ports to make sure dwell time could be immediately shortened.

If there were problems in loading and unloading activities, the system would be improved, but if the problem is administrative, Tonny added, he would punish officials who caused the problem.

The government in the middle of June launched its 15th economic package, which is aimed at improving logistics in the country through the enhancement of the role of transportation insurance, reducing costs for logistics service providers, strengthening the Indonesia National Single Window (INSW) authority and reducing the number of prohibited and restricted goods.

More details for the economic package will be stipulated in the 16th economic package, said Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/17/dwell-time-at-ports-worsens-to-3-5-days-official.html

Food & beverage industry

Halal certification shouldn't burden industry: F&B producers

Jakarta Post - July 20, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesian Food and Beverage Producers Association (Gapmmi) has called on the government not to add to the burden of the industry through mandating halal certification for their products.

"The halal certification will give added value to the products on the global market, but we hope the certification process will not add to the industry's burden," Gapmmi chairman Adhi Lukman said in Jakarta on Wednesday, as reported by tribunnews.com.

The government is now preparing a regulation to establish the Halal Certification Agency (BPJPH), which will be authorized to issue halal certificates.

Adhi also expressed the hope that the halal certification would not become mandatory for all food and beverage producers, and that it should remain voluntary.

"Even in Saudi Arabia, the halal certification is only voluntary," he said. "However, if halal certification becomes mandatory in the end, it should still not apply to all products and services."

Under the BPJPH, Adhi added, the halal certification process should be transparent and the agency needed to set a maximum processing period for companies to be issued with halal certificates.

Adhi stressed that his association supported the government's intension to establish such an agency with the authority to issue certificates, because it would help industry to expand and take advantage of the broad opportunities of the global halal market. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/20/halal-certification-shouldnt-burden-industry-fb-producers.html

Criminal justice & legal system

Indonesian leader polishes strongman image by calling for drug killings

CNN - July 24, 2017

Ben Westcott – Indonesian President Joko Widodo has called on police to kill drug dealers who resist arrest in what critics say is an attempt to burnish his credentials as a strongman leader among wavering voters.

"As I've said before, just be firmer, especially to those foreign drug dealers entering the country, particularly those who resist. Just shoot them on site, give them no mercy," Widodo said in a speech to the Islamist United Development Party Friday.

If enacted, the new policy would closely follow that of Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte, who's brutal war on drugs has left up to 8,000 people dead in just over a year.

Human rights activists condemned Widodo's speech, but political analysts said it was likely to be well received inside Indonesia where hardline drug policies are popular.

"He's held to his (2014) campaign promise that he would be executing drug dealers and public support for that has barely wavered. It has overall been very popular," associate professor of Indonesian politics at the Australian National University Greg Fealy told CNN.

CSIS political analyst Tobias Basuki said Widodo had deliberately invoked the memory of former Indonesian dictator Suharto in an attempt to appeal to those nostalgic for the former leader.

"There's a lot of jargon about returning to the New Order period, Suharto being more firm, much more stable, I think he is trying to (say) that he can be as firm as Suharto in a democratic period," he told CNN.

Suharto ruled Indonesia for over three decades, until his resignation following the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis in May 1998.

'When we shoot at drug dealers, they go away'

Widodo is not the first high-level Indonesian official to call for extrajudicial killings of drug dealers in the past week.

National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian praised Duterte's "war on drugs" in a speech Thursday, saying "we see that when we shoot at drug dealers, they go away."

Karnavian's speech came after Jakarta police shot a Taiwanese national dead earlier in July during a raid on a methamphetamine smuggling ring.

It was the largest drug bust in the country's history, local media reported at the time, totaling one tonne of sabu-sabu, the local term for methamphetamine.

Basuki told CNN the real risk of the speeches from Widodo and Karnavian was if police took it as a green light to use excessive force. "I'm not saying that's going to happen but I think it's dangerous," he said. "If there's a shooting where it's not called for, I think there would be a lot less backlash, security would not receive that much criticism."

Indonesia's drug problem

The actual extent of Indonesia's drug problem is unclear, with experts and government officials disagreeing on the nature of the problem.

In 2015, the head of Indonesia's National Narcotics Agency (BNN) Commander General Anang Iskandar claimed that "33 people die from narcotics everyday," and that four million people were part of the drug abuse epidemic.

But many experts have criticized these numbers, which Widodo used to justify his harsh policies on offenders, saying they are based on small and outdated surveys with questionable assumptions. For example, those who had used intravenous drugs once within a 12-month period were categorized as addicts.

"The statistics are flawed," Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono told CNN. "Then what is the result? Over the last few years because of that statistical problem the prison density in Indonesia is worsening... I have a personal friend who was caught with two milligrams of sabu-sabu. He got seven years."

According to a United Nations report in 2010, 0.18% of Indonesia's population were using amphetamines, or about 469,000 people. Indonesia has a total population of 258 million, according to 2016 estimates.

Harsono and Basuki both said it was hard to tell how serious the drug problem really was in Indonesia without quality statistics, but Fealy said a lot of Indonesians were already convinced.

"When you hear people talking socially, when you listen to talkback radio, there's always a flood of calls from people who have personal experience from friends and relatives who have drugs problems which have destroyed their lives," he said.

Strongman leader

While he is still a popular leader in Indonesia, some analysts felt Widodo's harsh line on drugs was a way to see off rivals who might paint him as a weak leader.

"For people who are looking for a really determined president, Jokowi ticks more boxes than he had previously done," Fealy said. "People think he's a very decent man, he's doing good things for the poor, good things for the economy... but on these kinds of issues there is some political benefits for him in appearing to be really uncompromising."

Widodo has maintained a harsh line on capital punishment for drug traffickers, despite strong international pressure and condemnation.

Friday's tough speech to the the Islamist United Development Party, who are part of his coalition in the Indonesian parliament, may also have been designed to shore up his support among Indonesia's huge Muslim population, Fealy said.

But while some analysts said Widodo should be taken at his word on the police shootings, Basuki said he expected a statement from the president's office soon watering down his statement. "I think he made a hyperbolic statement, rather than calling it as a policy," he said.

Source: http://us.cnn.com/2017/07/24/asia/joko-widodo-indonesia-drugs/index.html

Indonesia: Jokowi orders police to gun down foreign drug traffickers

Asian Correspondent - July 23, 2017

Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has issued a shoot-to-kill order against foreign drug dealers and traffickers, as he called for tougher action in Indonesia's war on drugs.

As reported by The Straits Times, Jokowi announced the order at an event in Jakarta, at which he also warned that the drug situation has put the country in a state of national emergency.

"The police and TNI (military) have been firm, especially when dealing with foreign drug traffickers entering the country," Jokowi said. "If they resist arrest, just gun them down, show no mercy."

Indonesia has one of the world's toughest drugs laws, and remains one of 33 countries that still use capital punishment for drug-related offences.

Since the country lifted a four-year moratorium on the death penalty in 2013, 18 people – all drug traffickers – have been sent to the firing squad.

The statement followed one of the largest ever seizures of crystal methamphetamine last week, weighing in at one tonne and arriving from Taiwan.

According to The Jakarta Post, the police arrested four Taiwanese men who allegedly attempted to distribute the drugs in Greater Jakarta and shot dead one for resisting arrest.

Following the incident, Indonesian National Police chief Tito Karnavian explained his heavy handed approach.

"On this occasion, we want to emphasize that the police would act firmly and toughly, especially against the foreign [drug dealers]," he said. "I even told [officers] to act by 'custom', which means if they resist [arrest], shoot. In this case, one Taiwanese was shot dead."

Jokowi's strong words and apparent no-nonsense approach have drawn comparisons with his Philippine counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, who is infamous for his brutal crackdown on narcotics that has left thousands dead. In reference to Duterte's shoot-to-kill approach, Tito expressed further support for his methods.

"From the practice in the field, we see that when we shoot at drug dealers they go away, so if such a policy were implemented in Indonesia, we believe that the number of drug traffickers and users in our beloved country would drop drastically."

His remarks, however, drew strong condemnation from human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch deputy director for Asia, Phelim Kine.

He called for Tito to "denounce the Philippines' war on drugs for what it truly is – a brutal, unlawful assault on the rule of law, human rights, and basic decency that has targeted some of the country's poorest, most marginalised citizens".

He also urged Jokowi to not neglect people's basic human rights in the pursuit of a solution to the complex problems of drugs and criminality.

Source: https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/07/indonesia-jokowi-orders-police-gun-foreign-drug-traffickers/

Indonesia to implement Duterte's drug war approach?

Jakarta Globe - July 23, 2017

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has ordered law enforcers to shoot drug traffickers to deal with what he called a narcotics emergency facing the country.

"No mercy for them [foreign drug traffickers]. We are currently in an emergency in terms of drug abuse," Jokowi said in Jakarta on Friday (21/07), as quoted by state-run news agency Antara.

The president spoke after police seized a ton of crystal methamphetamine worth Rp 1.5 trillion ($112 million) in Serang, Banten, on July 13. The narcotic, locally known as shabu-shabu, was smuggled from China and constitutes the Indonesia's largest seizure to date.

Police arrested four Taiwanese men who allegedly attempted to distribute the drugs in the greater Jakarta area. One of them was shot dead while resisting arrest.

Jokowi said the police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) are working together to act decisively against drug traffickers.

"Now, the police and the TNI are really firm, particularly against international drug dealers who enter Indonesia. Just shoot them if they even show a little resistance," he added.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian was quoted by Antara on Thursday as saying that drug smugglers are targeting Indonesia because they deem the country's law enforcement efforts weak, unlike Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

"They [drug traffickers] have noticed that, apart from the potential market, we [law enforcement officers] may be weak to act. Our laws are considered weak; that causes them to become rampant in Indonesia," Tito said in Jakarta.

He said international drug traffickers have been given a stern warning not to consider Indonesia as one of their main destinations for the illegal drug trade.

"I have ordered the police to crack down and act tough, especially against foreign drug dealers. I have also told [officers] to act in accordance with their standard operational procedure, which also means shooting them if they resist arrest," Tito said.

Indonesia is not the only Southeast Asian country under threat from the widespread distribution of illicit drugs. The Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte declared war on drug pushers last year.

Warning from rights activists

Extrajudicial killings in the Philippines have drawn condemnation from the international community and human rights groups.

Usman Hamid, country director for the United Kingdom-based rights group Amnesty International in Indonesia, said the statements by Jokowi and Tito may result in law enforcement officials on the ground committing unlawful actions, such as extrajudicial killings or summary executions, which constitute gross human rights violations.

"Duterte's war on drugs is the wrong kind of approach for a democratic country. Indonesia must look for a better approach or best practices from other countries," Usman told the Jakarta Globe.

He added that Duterte declared war on drugs after the state imposed martial law with the parliament's approval. The implementation of Duterte's shoot-on-sight policy violates the country's constitutional law and other regulations.

Usman said Jokowi and Tito's remarks could be regarded as a move to implement martial law in Indonesia. He added that their statements show a lack of understanding of basic norms of human rights and the rule of law.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-implement-dutertes-drug-war-approach/

Jokowi orders police to gun down foreign drug traffickers

Jakarta Post - July 22, 2017

Haeril Halim, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed law enforcement officers to impose the sternest sanctions on drug dealers operating in Indonesia, including gunning them down if necessary.

"I have told you, just be firm, especially with foreign drug dealers who enter the country and resist [upon arrest]. Gun them down. Give no mercy," he said in a speech on the United Development Party (PPP) national working meeting (Mukernas) in Jakarta on Friday.

The statement came following the largest seizure of crystal methamphetamine, locally known as shabu-shabu, weighing one ton from Taiwan last week. The police arrested four Taiwanese men who allegedly attempted to distribute the drugs in Greater Jakarta and shot dead one for resisting arrest. "We are indeed in an emergency situation in dealing with drug trafficking," Jokowi added.

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said a lot of drug dealers thought that Indonesia was a potential market because they considered its drug laws weaker than those of Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

"On this occasion, we want to emphasize that the police would act firmly and toughly, especially against the foreign [drug dealers]. I even told [officers] to act by 'custom,' which means if they resist [arrest], shoot. In this case, one Taiwanese was shot dead," Tito said earlier.

Tito alleged that the suspects had used a cruise ship, called the Wanderlust, to smuggle one ton of crystal meth from Taiwan to Indonesia. After dropping the drugs off, the Wanderlust travelled to the Java Sea, Karimata Strait and Batam. (ecn/dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/22/jokowi-orders-police-to-gun-down-foreign-drug-traffickers.html

Indonesia's police chief touts killing drug dealers as crime solution

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - July 21, 2017

Phelim Kine – The head of Indonesia's police on Thursday unveiled a new policing approach to combating drugs: shooting suspected dealers.

Indonesia's National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian is looking to the Philippines – where thousands have been killed in a state-sanctioned anti-drug campaign – for the wrong kind of inspiration.

Karnavian stated that, "From practice in the field, we see that when we shoot at drug dealers, they go away." Karnavian specifically cited Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's "war on drugs" as the source of his belief that capital punishment was an effective way to combat drug dealers. And with sinister echoes of Duterte's unlawful instigation of mass killings, Karnavian has already instructed his officers "not to hesitate shooting drug dealers who resist arrest."

Duterte's drug war is not about "capital punishment" – a judicially imposed sentence after a criminal trial – but a police-led summary killing campaign that that has killed more than 7,000 Filipinos since Duterte took office on June 30, 2016. Duterte has glorified those deaths as proof of the "success" of anti-drug measures that have disproportionately targeted urban slum dwellers.

Human Rights Watch field research found that government claims that the deaths of suspected drug users and dealers were lawful were blatant falsehoods. Interviews with witnesses and victims' relatives and analysis of police records show a pattern of unlawful police conduct designed to paint a veneer of legality over extrajudicial executions that may amount to crimes against humanity in violation of international law.

Karnavian is not the first senior Indonesian law enforcement official to tout Duterte's abusive drug war as a model of effective counter-narcotics policing. Indonesia's National Narcotics Agency (BNN) head Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso in September 2016 called for police to emulate the Philippines' "war on drugs." Waseso told reporters that "If such a policy [as that of the Philippines] were implemented in Indonesia, we believe that the number of drug traffickers and users in our beloved country would drop drastically."

Both Karnavian and Waseso should denounce the Philippines' "war on drugs" for what it truly is: a brutal, unlawful assault on the rule of law, human rights, and basic decency that has targeted some of the country's poorest, most marginalized citizens. And Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo should send a clear and public message to the police that efforts to address the complex problems of drugs and criminality require the security forces to respect everyone's basic rights, not demolish them.

[Phelim Kine is the Deputy Director, Asia Division.]

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/07/21/indonesias-police-chief-touts-killing-drug-dealers-crime-solution

Capital punishment an effective way to combat drug dealers: Tito

Jakarta Post - July 21, 2017

Jakarta – National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said on Thursday that the example of the Philippines illustrated that capital punishment was an effective way to combat drug dealers.

He said capital punishment delivered a deterrent effect, despite controversies surrounding its implementation. "From practice in the field, we see that when we shoot at drug dealers they go away," Tito said, referring to the drug war initiated by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Civil societies that focus on human rights have long lambasted the Indonesian government for persistently implementing the death penalty. These groups often highlight the country's judicial system, which is still marred by rampant corruption.

Tito earlier expressed appreciation for the work of his subordinates who succeeded in foiling a plan by four Taiwanese citizens to smuggle one ton of crystal methamphetamine into Greater Jakarta last week.

During the drug bust, one smuggler was shot dead while resisting arrest. Tito said he had told police officers "not to hesitate shooting drug dealers who resist arrest." (hol/cal)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/20/capital-punishment-an-effective-way-to-combat-drug-dealers-tito.html

Constitutional Court rejects judicial review request on tenure of its own judges

Jakarta Post - July 19, 2017

Jakarta – The Constitutional Court rejected on Wednesday a judicial review petition to challenge several articles in a 2011 law that regulate the term of office for the court's justices, including its chief and deputy chief justice.

Reading out its ruling in a hearing presided over by chief justice Arief Hidayat, the court said it could not find any legal basis to grant the judicial review request filed by the plaintiff – the University of Indonesia's Center for Strategic Studies (CSS UI).

"The panel of judges cannot find any relevance between the center's expertise and its purpose in submitting such a plea. The court does not find any loss related to the plaintiff's constitutional rights [that could be a reason for submitting the petition]," said Arief, reading out the court's ruling.

Represented by five of its members, the CSS UI filed the judicial review request in August last year to challenge articles regarding the court justices' term of office. They claimed it should be lifetime.

The 2011 Constitutional Court Law stipulates that justices serve for five years with the possibility of being reelected for another five years. A Constitutional Court chief justice and his or her deputy serve two-and-a-half-year terms.

The CSS UI argued that the 2011 Constitutional Court Law was discriminatory because as a profession, justice did not recognize the length of service. Supreme Court justices serve until the age of 70, it pointed out. (kuk/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/19/judicial-review-request-on-mk-judges-time-of-office-rejected.html

National security & intelligence

Telegram's privacy features compromise national security: Police

Jakarta Post - July 17, 2017

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian has defended the government's decision to block the web version of messaging application Telegram, claiming the application's privacy features compromise national security.

"Privacy is allowed, but national security is also important," Tito told the press on the sidelines of a hearing at the House of Representatives on Monday. He added that high security may come at the cost of freedom.

The police chief argued that the privacy features provided on the Telegram application posed a threat to national security, as they enabled users to apply end-to-end encryption "that could not be wiretapped."

The messaging application also allows a group chat with more than 10,000 members without providing details, including phone numbers, to the group's administrator, a feature that Tito said would be useful for terrorists.

Tito said the police had handled more than a dozen terrorism cases in which the suspects communicated via Telegram.

"The Communications and Information Ministry has asked Telegram to grant us access [to chat groups], so that we could detect those campaigning for radicalism, bomb-making and terror acts, but to no avail," he said.

"Thus, we must close down [the application] from operating here to show Telegram that our national security matters. This is clearly an effective measure." (ary)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/17/telegrams-privacy-features-compromise-national-security-police.html

Foreign affairs & trade

June exports, imports see Idul Fitri seasonal decline

Jakarta Post - July 17, 2017

Stefani Ribka, Jakarta – Exports in June declined by 18.82 percent month on month (MoM) to US$11.64 billion and imports were down by 27.26 percent to $10.01 billion, as the Idul Fitri holiday season arrived in June this year compared to last year, when the holiday occurred in July.

"As we all know, trade activities are hindered by the holiday, when freight transport is reduced a week before Idul Fitri," Central Statistics Agency (BPS) head Suhariyanto told reporters during a monthly trade press conference on Monday.

The trade figures still show a monthly surplus of $1.63 billion, or 181.03 percent MoM growth, a rise of 46.84 percent year on year. Read also: Indonesia's trade surplus up by 23.6 percent in May

The top three exports that increased MoM in terms of value were wood pulp, aluminum and salt and minerals, while the bottom three exports were vegetable and animal oils and fats dominated by palm oil, fuel minerals dominated by coal, and rubber and rubber products.

The top three imports that increased MoM in terms of value were sea vessels and floating equipment, vegetables dominated by garlic, and jewelry, while the bottom three imports were electronics and electrical equipment, mechanical tools and equipment, and iron and steel. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/17/june-exports-imports-see-idul-fitri-seasonal-decline.html

Tourism & hospitality

Australia to provide funding to help Indonesia boost tourism, create 10 new

ABC News - July 18, 2017

Samantha Hawley – Australia's ambassador to Indonesia has emphasised the Federal Government's commitment to try and help boost tourism in Indonesia.

On Monday, Paul Grigson said Australia would be providing funding through the World Bank to help create 10 new Balis. That commitment reportedly dominated discussions with Indonesia's Maritime Affairs Minister, Luhut Pandjaitan, in Jakarta on Monday afternoon.

"We talked mainly about tourism and the master plans that we are funding through the World Bank to help Indonesia with its tourism plans," Mr Grigson said after emerging from the discussion.

"We are talking about how we might work with Indonesia on developing the 10 new Balis that the President [Joko Widodo] talks about."

A draft World Bank document shows Indonesia is seeking a $US180 million ($230 million) loan to initially develop three locations as new tourism hotspots and an additional $US570 million ($90 million) from the World Bank based on results.

The three locations are Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, and Borobudur temple site in Yogyakarta in Central Java. "The Government of Indonesia has decided to transform Indonesia's economy using tourism as one of the main growth drivers," the draft World Bank document said.

The document did not state how much funding the Australian Government was contributing. It said the Indonesian Government wanted to increase international arrivals from 9 to 20 million between 2014 and 2019 and tourism from 4 per cent to 20 per cent of GDP over the same period.

But the draft document stated there were four main constraints to this happening, including poor infrastructure and services, a limited tourism workforce, weak environment for private investment, and weak government agencies.

It also noted the importance of potential environmental and social impacts related to development and "issues like resettlement and planning for indigenous peoples".

The Indonesian Government has also said, among others, it wanted Tanjun Lesung in Banten, the Thousand Islands near Jakarta, and Tanjung Kelayan in Belitung to be considered as Indonesia's next Bali-like destinations.

The World Bank also noted to build on Bali's success large new infrastructure investments including airports, toll roads and ports were needed.

Source: http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-18/australia-to-provide-funding-to-help-indonesia-boost-tourism/8717926

Mining & energy

Private investors called on to help supply electricity to villages

Jakarta Post - July 22, 2017

Viriya P. Singgih, Jakarta – The government has called on private investors to help support its plan to electrify thousands of villages across the country in a bid to spur economic growth.

Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Minister Eko Putro Sandjojo stated that around 13,000 unelectrified villages across the archipelago needed at least 500 kilowatts of electricity each.

Hence, he suggested that private investors team up with village-owned enterprises (BUMDes), of which there are currently around 18,000, to develop power facilities in those villages.

"The BUMDes can send their staff to collect electricity fees from the villagers. That way, private entities can invest their money and those villages will stand a chance of getting electricity," Eko said recently in Jakarta.

On Wednesday, the Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Ministry signed an agreement with US-based technology giant General Electric (GE) that paved the way for the latter to provide technological support for the former's electrification program.

Eko said GE would supply up to 20 power plants in this collaboration, which is slated to begin next year.

State-owned electricity firm PLN plans to increase the national electrification ratio to 100 percent by 2024 from 91.16 percent last year.

To meet the target, PLN needs to procure 75,900 megawatts of electricity, 67,785 kilometers worth of transmission circuits and substation units with a total capacity of 164,544 mega volt ampere (MVA). (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/22/private-investors-called-on-to-help-supply-electricity-to-villages.html

Indonesia's never ending Freeport-McMoRan saga

The Diplomat - July 20, 2017

Nithin Coca – The drama started nearly two years ago, when Setya Novanto, the speaker of the Indonesian Parliament, was forced to resign after being caught trying to extort U.S. mining giant Freeport McMoRan, which was looking to extend its contract in Indonesia. Things heated up again earlier this year, when, alongside nationalist-tinged protests, it looked like Freeport was on its way out. Then, unexpectedly, a deal seemed to be reached. It was too good to be true, and again, today, the situation is unsure. After years of on-again, off-again negotiations between the Indonesian government and its largest taxpayer and longtime partner, things look stuck right where they started, with both sides intransigent and blaming the other.

The relationship between Freeport, Indonesia, and the restive West Papua region where most of Freeport's mines are located gives a glimpse into the development policies of Southeast Asia's biggest country, and the still-ongoing challenge of moving on from the brutal legacy of resource extraction and militarism of the Suharto era.

A troubled history

Freeport's entry into Indonesia came at a critical time, just years after a bloody coup toppled founding President Sukarno and brought to power General Suharto, who would rule for more than three decades. At that time, not surprisingly, few Indonesians had a say in the deal.

"In the previous contracts [negotiated in] 1967 and 1991, Suharto's administration did not need to accommodate the concerns of Indonesian people," said Dr. Zulfan Tadjoeddin, senior lecturer in Development Studies at the University of Western Sydney. "They pragmatically agreed to the terms they thought were good enough for Indonesia."

In a poor country with limited infrastructure and little industry, resource extraction was to become a key facet of Suharto's cronyist New Order regime, who, for all their abuses, did help improve the lives of many Indonesians.

"Suharto's early development programs concerning basic health, education, agriculture, and rural infrastructures were made possible by the mining and oil boom of the 1970s," said Tadjoeddin.

Freeport's operations also helped cement Indonesian control over the disputed region of West Papua, the western half of the island of New Guinea. It has, at various times, been controlled by Germany, the Netherlands, and Australia, before it was handed over to Indonesia in 1963, and formally incorporated in a 1969 military-run election in which about 1,000 hand-picked representatives were forced to vote for ascension. With assistance from the Indonesian military, with whom the company has also had a long relationship, Freeport began construction of the Grasberg mine in 1970, without the consent of West Papuans.

"Freeport's operations are historically based on... corrupt ties with General Suharto, and have involved siphoning off huge profits into Western capitals at the expense of the environment, the local people, and Indonesian political integrity," said Benny Wenda, a West Papuan living in exile and a spokesperson for Free West Papua.

The 1970s and 1980s were a dark time for many West Papuans, who were forced to face a relentless military presence and the massive influx of migrants from wealthier East Indonesia. Revenue from the mine remained in the hands of Jakarta. In fact, the power of the Indonesian military – key to Suharto's control – was closely connected to Freeport's mining operation, with numerous documented instances of human rights abuses at their facilities.

"Freeport is deeply embedded with Indonesian security forces in the region, paying them for 'security' arrangements – which basically means crushing local Papuan resistance to Freeport's operations," said Wenda. "There's a sordid history of shootings, arrests and disappearances around the Freeport mine." Even today, the military gets the majority of its revenues from its business operations, including providing security in West Papua.

One of the key problems stalling negotiations today is that the Suharto regime negotiated Freeport's last contract in 1991, with the terms not so different from 1969 – heavily tilted in Freeport's favor and with few environmental and social protections. In 1998, however, during the Asian Financial Crisis, Suharto fell, and today, Indonesia is a democracy, having elected its first president with no direct ties to the New Order, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, in 2015. Jokowi immediately began looking at the Freeport contract as a revenue source to fulfill his massive infrastructure and economic development plans.

"President Jokowi's administration has been negotiating with Freeport for improving the benefit of the relationship for Indonesia; this is a step in right direction," said Tadjoeddin.

The question is – what exactly does the new Indonesia want from Freeport, and will they be able to get it? And are the threats to nationalize the operation, or hand it over to another (perhaps Chinese) company rhetoric, or genuine threats?

What's next?

Unfortunately, human rights and the concerns of West Papuans, who have seen little real progress since 1998, are not factoring into the negotiations so far. Instead, talks are focused on a few key points, namely, revenue – both how much Freeport must pay the Indonesian government, and how much control the company is willing to give the country over its operations. Indonesia's 2009 Mining Act requires it to divest 51 percent of its Indonesian subsidiary, but so far, only 9.36 percent has been divested.

This is why the company is also playing hardball, shutting down its gold mine in February, and most recently, terminating more than 4,000 striking workers from the Grasberg mine in a move local and global labor unions called illegal.

"First we heard [the] company had terminated 2,000 strikers, not something you see very often, then it went up to 3,000, 4,000," said Adam Lee, campaigns director at IndustriALL, a global union supporting the fired workers. "It's very unusual to have a company take that drastic action. We want the Indonesian government to act and force the company to reinstate the workers."

This demonstrates the complexity of these negotiations. While Freeport is Indonesia's largest taxpayer, and has been for some time, the relationship is symbiotic. Freeport also depends on its huge Papuan operations for a large chunk of its global revenue – in 2015, 27 percent of the operating income generated from mining operations came from Indonesia. Losing the mine, or divesting such a large chunk of the subsidiary, would be a major loss for the company, which means Indonesia is in a relative position of power – even if it is not quite ready to take full control.

"I don't think this is about taking over the Freeport mine... as this is simply unrealistic given the business management, financing, and technological challenges," said Tadjoeddin. "The nationalist-tinged protests and rhetoric are primarily about improving the term of the relationship for Indonesia's benefit."

Unfortunately, this may still not be enough to fulfill Jokowi's development dreams, as the mines are not nearly as profitable as just a few years ago, when global commodity prices were high. In 2013 Freeport reported $18.98 billion in revenue, with nearly $4 billion of that as profit. In 2014, this resulted in a $1.5 billion tax bill to the Indonesian government. Most recent figures are not public, but almost undoubtedly much, much lower.

"Despite the drop in global commodity prices, negotiations will continue, although the profit estimate of the new business adventure will be significantly impacted," said Tadjoeddin.

Of course, the post-2000s resource boom, driven chiefly by China's incessant demand for raw materials, didn't aid most Indonesians. While mining helped Indonesia's economy grow during the early years of democracy, the wealth was never spread equally. In 2002, the country's GINI coefficient, a measure of income distribution in which lower values demonstrate greater quality, was 29.57. In 2013, the coefficient had risen to 41, indicating dramatic growth in the wealth of the rich. This was not a big surprise, as analysis of GINI data shows that countries with more natural resources tend to have greater levels of inequality. Indonesia is no exception, having been resource export dependent since its early days as a Dutch colony.

The latest timetable is for a new agreement to be reached in October, covering 20 years. Meanwhile, protests will continue at the mine itself, or, if tensions rise, across Indonesia. Freeport's relationship with Indonesia has gone through many iterations over the past four decades, and while whatever comes next may be better for the country financially, it will likely leave the majority of Indonesians, like before, in the dust, and further antagonize West Papuans, who will once again be forced to bear the environmental, social, and human costs of national development. "Another 20 years of Freeport means another 20 years of shootings, police brutality, environmental carnage, and destruction of Papuan livelihoods," said Wenda. Only one thing is certain – mining will, as it has since 1970, remain at the heart of Indonesia's political economy – for better, or for worse.

[Nithin Coca is a freelance writer and journalist who focuses on cultural, economic, and environmental issues in developing countries. Follow him on Twitter @excinit.]

Source: http://thediplomat.com/2017/07/indonesias-neverending-freeport-mcmoran-saga/

Asia's coal-fired power boom 'bankrolled by foreign governments and banks'

The Guardian (Australia) - July 20, 2017

Michael Slezak – The much-discussed boom in coal-fired power in south-east Asia is being bankrolled by foreign governments and banks, with the vast majority of projects apparently too risky for the private sector.

Environmental analysts at activist group Market Forces examined 22 deals involving 13.1 gigawatts of coal-fired power in Indonesia and found that 91% of the projects had the backing of foreign governments through export credit agencies or development banks.

Export credit agencies, which provide subsidised loans to overseas projects to assist export industries in their home countries, were involved in 64% of the deals and provided 45% of the total lending.

The majority of the money was coming from Japan and China, with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) involved in five deals and the Export-Import Bank of China (Cexim) involved in seven deals. All the deals closed between January 2010 and March 2017.

The China Development Bank was the biggest development bank lending to the projects, imparting $3bn, with a further $240m in development funds coming from Korea's Korea Development Bank.

The lending comes despite the world's biggest development bank – the World Bank – warning last year that plans to build more coal-fired power plants in Asia would be a "disaster for the planet" and overwhelm the deal forged at Paris to fight climate change.

"Right now, several key countries supporting the Paris climate change agreement are actively undermining it by trying to expand the polluting coal-power sector in other countries," said Julien Vincent, executive director of Market Forces.

According to the International Energy Agency, the world needs to phase out coal-power by 2050 in order to keep warming under 2C.

"We wouldn't have this massive spread of new coal-fired power if public finance institutions weren't making them bankable," Vincent told the Guardian. The government-backed banks offer low interest and long-term loans, transferring risk from the private sector to the taxpayer and offering other lenders confidence in the projects.

"As early as 2015, private capital investments into clean energy were already double those into fossil fuels. Private investors are vacating the field in terms of coal and putting their money into renewable energy," said Vincent.

He said preliminary analysis of projects that are in the pipeline in Indonesia and Vietnam, but haven't yet reached financial close, show the trend is set to continue into the future unless governments – especially Japan and China – change their attitude.

"There's probably almost 20 gigawatts of coal power that will go ahead pretty much because it's got public finance," Vincent said.

The push of financing comes as Japan, China and Korea move to cut plans for coal-power in their own countries. Vincent said the moves were related, since Indonesia was now seen as a testing ground for new coal-fired power station technology.

The coal industry says plans for new power stations in Indonesia and Vietnam is evidence of the promise of new-build coal-fired power stations.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/20/asias-coal-fired-power-boom-bankrolled-by-foreign-governments-and-banks

Economy & investment

Don't scare investors away, Jokowi tells ministers

Jakarta Post - July 24, 2017

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has criticism government ministers for issuing ministerial regulations that are not in line with the government's deregulation program to improve the ease of doing business in the country. The President said some regulations made doing business in the country even more complicated.

"What we need to do is improve ease of doing business in this country. Ministerial regulations should always refer to the objective. They should not scare investors away," Jokowi said during a Cabinet meeting at the State Palace in Jakarta on Monday.

He said unfriendly regulations, for example, had been issued by the environment and forestry minister and the energy and mineral resources minister in the past two months.

The President did not pinpoint which regulations were not friendly to investors, but said the business community had not responded positively to the regulations issued by the ministers.

He called on the ministers to help create a better business climate in the country because the easier it was to open a business, the higher economic growth would be.

Jokowi aims to have the country ranked 40th on World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index by 2019 from the 91st position in 2016. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/24/dont-scare-investors-away-jokowi-tells-ministers.html

More effort needed to achieve 7% growth: Economist

Jakarta Post - July 18, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesian economy has shown improvement, but increased efforts are needed to achieve President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's target of 7 percent annual growth, according to CIMB Niaga chief economist Adrian Panggabean.

"Indonesia needs a savings rate of 39 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), if it wants its economy to grow by 7 percent," he said in a media briefing in Jakarta on Monday.

When he took office in 2014, Jokowi expressed the hope that under his leadership, the economy would grow by 7 percent, but this is unlikely to be achieved because of the global economic slowdown.

With the current gross national savings of 31 percent, the economy is estimated to have grown by 5.1 percent in the second quarter, Adrian said, adding that annual growth for 2017 would likely reach 5.1 percent.

"That means that Indonesia needs an additional savings rate of 6 to 8 percent of GDP if it wants its economy to grow by 7 percent per annum," he said.

Adrian said additional savings could be obtained from a number of funding sources in both the private and public sectors. In the private sector, for example, Indonesia could boost foreign direct investments (FDI) to 5 percent of GDP from the current 2 percent. In the public sector, the government could raise the tax-to-GDP ratio to at least 15 percent from the current 11 percent.

The capital market and mobilizing public savings could also provide other sources, he added. (dis/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/18/more-effort-needed-to-achieve-7-growth-economist.html

Banking & finance

Government supports BI's proposal to redenominate rupiah

Jakarta Post - July 24, 2017

Jakarta – The government has expressed its support of Bank Indonesia's (BI) proposal to revive plans to redenominate the rupiah, but has yet to decide how many zeroes will be removed from the currency.

"We have not decided yet whether we will scrap three or four zeroes from the rupiah," said Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution in Jakarta on Sunday as reported by tempo.co, adding that he preferred to eliminate three zeroes.

"If three zeroes are removed, [the resulting figure] is familiar to many people; if you eat at a restaurant and see 40.00 on the menu, that means the price is Rp 40,000 [US$3]," he explained.

Previously, BI Governor Agus Matowardojo called on the House of Representatives to immediately approve the redenomination bill into law, stressing that it was the best time to eliminate zeroes from the rupiah as Indonesia's macroeconomic condition was currently favorable.

Darmin said the transition period for redenomination would be one to two years, while the entire process would take six to seven years to give business players enough time to make the necessary adjustments, such as changing their price tags.

"The price adjustment will also be mentioned in the law on redenomination," he said, adding that during the transition period, new bills would be printed.

However, he stressed that such a move could only be implemented when the inflation rate was between 3 to 4 percent, as otherwise, the value of the rupiah could further weaken. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/24/government-supports-bis-proposal-to-redenominate-rupiah.html

BI wants lawmakers to start debating redenomination bill

Jakarta Post - July 18, 2017

Jakarta – Bank Indonesia (BI) has urged members of the House of Representatives' Commission XI overseeing financial affairs to start debating the draft law on redenomination – the elimination of three zeroes from the Indonesian currency.

"The redenomination bill was included in the national legislation program in 2013. We want it included again in the 2017 national legislation program," said BI Governor Agus Martowardojo.

Agus' statement was made during the focus group discussion (FGD) at the House compound on Monday, attended by lawmakers, who represented their respective political parties, Commission XI leaders and representatives of the central bank.

Before a bill is deliberated by the House, it has to be included in the annual national legislation program (Prolegnas). The bill has not been included in the 2017 Prolegnas.

Agus claimed that during the discussion on Monday, all parties agreed on the importance of reviving the discourse on the rupiah redenomination, saying that the Indonesian economy was strong enough to start carrying out the redenomination. Therefore, Agus said, he would talk with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and relevant ministers to discuss the issue.

He hoped the House would insert the redenomination bill into the Prolegnas so that it could be immediately deliberated. "We hope to have the redenomination bill included in the legislative program. It only consists of 17 articles," Agus added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/18/bi-wants-lawmakers-to-start-debating-redenomination-bill.html

Taxation & state budget

Gov't plans to scrap luxury tax for sedans

Jakarta Globe - July 22, 2017

Jakarta – The Indonesian government plans to exclude sedan from the luxury goods category, effectively lowering the tax on the car model and helping carmakers set up local sedan manufacturing, Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto said on Friday (21/07).

"Regulations have categorized sedan as a luxury item for decades. But that is not the case anymore today," Airlangga said.

According to the minister, the sedan tax should be lowered to 10 percent, or equal to the tax on special utility vehicle (SUV) or multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). All sedans sold in Indonesia are subjected to a 30 percent sales tax. The tax is waived if the car is sold overseas.

Indonesia's Car Manufacturers Association (Gaikindo) has been persuading the government to lower the sales tax on sedan to make it more attractive for global car manufacturers to invest in local sedan makers.

A small domestic market for the sedans – less than 5 percent of total sales – hardly justifies the likes of Toyota or Honda to expand their sedan plant here, Gaikindo said.

Airlangga seems to agree with the view, saying he expects a lower sedan tax will help Indonesia turn itself into a new sedan manufacturing center in Asia.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/govt-plans-scrap-luxury-tax-sedans/

Indonesian foreign debt grows 5.50 percent in May: Bank Indonesia

Jakarta Post - July 18, 2017

Jakarta – Bank Indonesia (BI) reports that Indonesia's foreign debt reached US$333.60 billion, growing 5.50 percent year on year (yoy), in May, sparked by an increase in public-sector debt.

According to the central bank, the public-sector debt grew by 11.8 percent yoy to $168.40 billion in May, 50.50 percent of the total foreign debt, compared to 9.20 percent yoy growth in April.

Meanwhile, private-sector debt reached $165.20 billion, 49.50 percent yoy of the total foreign debt, down by 0.10 percent yoy, compared to 3.20 percent yoy growth in the previous month.

The decrease in private-sector debt was caused by the decrease in financial-institution debt, while non-financial institution debt increased, BI said as reported by tribunnews.com.

Long-term debt grew 4.40 percent yoy in April, compared to 1.40 percent yoy growth in April, while short-term debt increased by 13 percent yoy in May, compared to 12.40 percent yoy growth in April.

Long-term debt amounted to $289.20 billion – $165.10 billion of public-sector debt and $124.10 of private-sector debt. Meanwhile, short-term debt reached $44.40 billion – $41.10 billion of public-sector debt and $3.30 billion of private-sector debt.

The foreign debt was mostly disbursed to financial institutions, the manufacturing sector, the mining sector, as well as the electricity and water sectors. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/18/indonesian-foreign-debt-grows-5-50-percent-in-may-bank-indonesia.html

Analysis & opinion

Indonesia's Telegram ban: who's the real target?

Indonesia at Melbourne - July 24, 2017

Nava Nuraniyah – The Indonesian government's partial blocking of the messaging application Telegram – which has several million users in the country – may be an effective tool to pressure the tech company to comply with government requirements, but not to curb extremism as it claims.

Pro-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) groups in Indonesia and elsewhere have largely switched to Telegram as their preferred social media following the massive suspension of extremist accounts by Twitter and Facebook in 2014. Telegram was considered safer because of its encryption technology – which WhatsApp did not offer until 2016 – but also due to its founder's fame as a champion of privacy rights. Telegram founder Pavel Durov has, for example, defied the Russian government when asked to release personal details of opposition activists.

On 14 July, two years after the exodus of ISIL sympathisers to the encrypted chat app, the government, through the minister of communication and information technology, suddenly announced the blocking of Telegram's web service. It also threatened to block its mobile app if the company failed to meet government demands to take down any channel or group it considered radical. The minister said that Telegram "could endanger national security" as there were "many channels in the platform that contain radical propaganda, extremism, hate speech, incitement or instructions to make bombs".

My research on several dozen pro-ISIL Telegram groups since 2015, however, shows that the majority of their chats are about socialising rather than plotting. For the latter, they much prefer to meet offline for safety reasons. The police mentioned three terrorist plots in 2016-2017 that were allegedly "ordered" by Bahrun Naim, a key Indonesian ISIL figure in Syria, via Telegram. But such cases are hardly exceptional – terrorist leaders of all stripes have used various online platforms to release speeches, exhortations, and instructions. In fact, one does not need Telegram to get bomb making instructions – they can be easily found on Google.

The government should have learned from previous experience that cutting access to radical websites is ineffective, as these sites can still be reached simply by using proxy browsers. Further, the government blocked 22 radical sites in 2015 but ultimately backed down following protests from Islamist groups (whose sites were also affected just because they were ultra-conservative, not extremist). So why ban the web version of Telegram?

The partial ban seems to have been directed more toward the tech enterprise than its rogue users per se. Indonesia had previously threatened to block Google to make it comply with the country's regulations on taxation and "permanent establishment" of a representative office. It appears to have succeeded. The government is deploying the same coercive tactics on Telegram, and they seem to be working too.

Three days after the ban, on 17 July, Telegram CEO Durov released a statement, acknowledging his failure to promptly respond to the government's requests to block some radical channels and promising to improve cooperation, including by establishing "a direct channel of communication" with the government. But it was not enough. The government has now imposed another condition to lift the ban: it has asked Telegram to open a local office in Indonesia, much like Yahoo, Facebook, and Google. It remains to be seen whether Telegram will be willing to concede.

Even if the threat of a ban does make Telegram more willing to take down terrorism-related content or share information, the ban is unlikely to have a major impact on terrorism prevention or eradication because extremists are already starting to move to other, even more impenetrable, apps. Many militants saw the blocking as an opportunity to explore other apps, particularly Threema, which reportedly has better encryption and privacy features than Telegram. The ban has also pushed more ISIL sympathisers to use browsers like Orbot and Tor, which, among other things, can bypass locally banned sites and conceal the users' real IP addresses. All of this would make it harder for security agencies to track them.

Further, the ban could drive extremists to move on from jihad in the media to real action. In the groups I monitor there was a brief panic among ISIL sympathisers when the ban was first announced but they quickly saw the bright side. Some said that it meant that "the government was losing", others talked about a revenge attack by hacking and defacing government sites, which they had done before. Still others saw it as a "warning" that they should "start holding knives, bayonets, swords and revolvers... [rather] than mobile phones and [...] monitoring and spying on the enemies rather than checking our phones".

Removing access to Telegram is at best a manoeuvre to bring giant tech companies in line with government regulations. But as a measure to counter extremist propaganda and recruitment efforts online it is ill-informed and will be ineffective. A smarter way would have been to infiltrate extremist chat groups because Telegram provides very rich and rare insights into militants' thinking.

In the long term, though, Indonesia needs better, evidence-based preventive programs. A good starting point would be finding out why so many young people are attracted to extremist ideas and seek solace in radical communities online.

[Nava Nuraniyah is an analyst at the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), in Jakarta.]

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/indonesias-telegram-ban-whos-the-real-target/

15 years after independence, whatever happened to East Timor?

Asia Pacific Foundation Canada - July 24, 2017

David Webster – On May 20, 2017, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (the country's official name, using the Portuguese words for East Timor) celebrated the 15th anniversary of the restoration of its independence.

Once the focus of human rights protests, Timor-Leste has fallen out of the headlines since the violent end of Indonesian rule and the country's emergence as the 21st century's first new independent state. Today, declining oil revenues leave some observers muttering about a "failed state" in the making, while others celebrate the elections and orderly transitions of power that mark a maturing democracy. But Timor-Leste is far from failing.

Timor-Leste declared its independence in 1975. Days later, the armed forces of Indonesia invaded and claimed it as their country's 27th province. But Timorese resistance outlasted the rule of Indonesia's General Suharto, who fell from power in 1998. In a referendum run by the United Nations in 1999, a strong majority of Timorese voted for independence. Despite a wave of violence by pro-Indonesia forces, the UN stepped in and supervised a transition to Timorese self-government in 2002. The flag proclaimed in 1975 is the flag today.

The 15 years since independence show impressive democratic consolidation, periods of rapid economic growth fuelled by oil revenues – with consequent fears for the future when oil runs out – and proactive Timorese leadership among developing nations in areas as diverse as development, extractive industries management, women's rights, and peacebuilding.

Political clashes, consensus, and consolidation

In 2002, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, a guerrilla leader who had revived and united resistance to Indonesian military rule inside East Timor, was a unifying figure. He was dubbed East Timor's Nelson Mandela after Indonesian soldiers captured him in 1992. From his prison cell, he became a figure of resistance lionized by Timorese youth activists and non-Timorese supporters.

So Xanana was an easy choice as the first president of the restored republic. But he chafed under the restricted powers of the presidency – most power was held by Fretilin (the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor), which had proclaimed independence in 1975 and won a significant majority in the first post-Indonesian election in 2001. So Xanana entered politics himself as head of a new party that he called the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT).

East Timor's second parliamentary elections in 2007 saw Xanana's CNRT use themes of economic development and the leader's charisma to claim a strong second-place finish to Fretilin. Xanana then cobbled together a coalition able to command a parliamentary majority and push Fretilin into opposition. The same year, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, running as an independent, defeated Fretilin's candidate for president in a run-off election. In 2012, Xanana's CNRT-led coalition won re-election, and another independent, former guerrilla leader Taur Matan Ruak, became the third president.

In 2015, Xanana stepped down as prime minister, naming a Fretilin figure in his place. The new government, under Dr. Rui Maria de Araujo, retains Xanana as the minister in control of economic development, while representing in effect a new government backed by all the major parties. The CNRT went on to endorse Fretilin's Francisco Guterres (popularly known as Lu-Olo) in the March 2017 presidential elections, which he won handily against a lesser-known field of candidates.

Under the unity government, then-president Taur Matan Ruak periodically criticized the government. Following Xanana's example, he has formed his own Popular Liberation Party to contest the July 2017 parliamentary elections. Political opposition, in other words, will continue even amid a move toward so-called "consensus politics."

The political system remains dominated by a small, elite group of men drawn from the "1975 generation."

Still, a few conclusions can be drawn from this sketch of Timorese politics since 2002. First, there is minimal violence during election campaigns. The losing parties campaign fiercely and sometimes contest the ballots, but they accept the results. A political crisis in 2006 turned 100,000 Timorese into internally displaced people, but they have now returned to their homes and the UN peacekeeping presence ended in 2012. There have been two peaceful changes of government and prime minister. Four presidential elections have resulted in four different presidents, each completing his term. The new prime minister is the first from the younger generation, suggesting a renewal of the political elite is at least possible – especially once Xanana retires.

An oil economy in search of diversification

The end of Indonesian rule, despite Indonesian government claims to have delivered economic development, left East Timor as Asia's poorest country. Growth rates in recent years of between roughly three and six percent appear promising. Signs of prosperity abound in the Timorese capital of Dili, where wealthier locals can access Burger King drive-through service and other markers of western-style consumption.

But rural areas remain poor and the economy relies heavily on oil revenues. Although Timor-Leste has avoided the worst of the "resource curse" that bedevils many states, diversification away from oil is vital. The respected non-governmental organization La'o Hamutuk estimates that the country's oilfields will no longer be profitable by 2019, a finding supported by figures from Timor-Leste's finance ministry. Timor-Leste modelled its petroleum fund on that of Norway, seen as a well-regarded state that has invested its oil wealth in a transparent, sustainable, and successful manner. The Timorese fund's 2015 annual report pegged assets at close to US$16B, though unsustainable withdrawals have seen a balance once exceeding US$17B fall to US$16.6B by the end of May 2017. This is comparable to the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund in overall value. Although the Timorese population is less than one-third of Alberta's, this will only buy a few years of breathing room to diversify – it will not provide long-term security. Timorese political leaders are aware of this dilemma and have announced efforts to diversify toward industry, tourism, and other sectors, but have not yet announced any plan to get there.

The government hopes to prolong the exhaustion of oil reserves by accessing new oilfields in the seas between Timor and Australia. The Timor Sea is currently divided according to a complex revenue-sharing agreement between the Australian and Timorese governments that was concluded under circumstances that the Timorese side has called coercive and unfair. The two countries are far from equal in size and power. During negotiations, Australian officials pressured Timorese counterparts and spied on them using an aid program as cover.

Timor-Leste aims to replace revenue-sharing with a maritime border along the "median line" halfway between the two countries – the usual means of settling maritime border disputes, as used between Canada and Greenland, for instance. The campaign for a median line also has political benefits – it unites many Timorese to wage a " second independence struggle" against Australia.

Still, long-term dependence on oil has not served many countries well, and Timor-Leste's government will need to heed those voices advocating a rethink of the country's economic path away from megaprojects and toward more locally grounded and community-focused development solutions. [1]

Timor-Leste's leadership in niche diplomacy

"Goodbye conflict, welcome development," proclaim banners on government ministries in Dili. The same words appear atop the website of the g7+, a forum of "fragile states" formed under Timorese leadership in 2010 as a slightly mischievous tip of the hat to the G7 group of wealthy industrialized countries. Timor-Leste's government vigorously rejected depictions of the country as a "failed state." Rather than accepting the label, Timor-Leste led a campaign to restore agency to "fragile states" by convening seven countries emerging from conflict (the group now has 20 members). The g7+ developed a "New Deal" for building fragile states and teamed up with major donor states to work out a set of fragile state principles. These principles aim to move away from the crude measurements and value judgments embodied in indexes that try to rank state "failure," and to move toward putting fragile states in the driver's seat of their own journeys. [2]

The Timorese have made efforts to take an international leadership role in an area of key concern – what has been called "niche diplomacy." Diplomatic campaigns for independence saw a small band of activists representing a small country battle against the regional giant of Southeast Asia, Indonesia. Their campaign's weak position forced them to adopt nimble tactics and form alliances with non-traditional actors who carried moral weight, from the Dalai Lama of Tibet to influential Catholic bishops to Amnesty International. In 1997, for instance, Ramos-Horta headlined a "People's Summit" in Vancouver as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit met, offering a vision of human rights counterpoised against the economics-first philosophy of APEC leaders including Indonesia's Suharto. The strategies and alignments forged by Timorese pro-independence diplomats may have shaped independent Timor-Leste's diplomatic profile as a country seeking to build alliances around themes clustered around global justice.

The g7+, in these terms, is an effort to shift the language of development from state "failure" toward hope in the face of long odds – very much echoing the themes of the earlier campaign for Timorese independence. It aims to group states placed in a position of weakness or even helplessness in the global system, shifting their weakness into collective moral strength. Timorese diplomats do not try to intervene in every global issue, but they are far from shy in asserting leadership in targeted areas such as the economic development of "fragile states."

A similar "niche" emerged when UN bodies concerned with women's rights merged in 2010 to form UN Women. The usual pattern for election to seats on various UN bodies is that regional groups get together and agree on a slate of candidates for election, and the UN as a whole rubber-stamps these slates by voting them in unopposed. (Not all regional groups do this, but it is common in the Asian group.) Elections for the UN Women board were no different, but when Iran's candidacy drew global outrage, Timor-Leste took the highly unusual step of breaking ranks and running against Iran – successfully.

Timor-Leste's representative to that first term on the UN Women board, Milena Pires, is now the country's ambassador to the UN. The country has a long way to go on violence against women, but it has signalled a leadership role in the region on this issue. A similar move came in June 2017 with Timor-Leste's first LGBTI Pride parade. At a time when neighbouring countries seem to be moving toward a more repressive stance on the rights of sexual minorities – symbolized by the public caning of two gay men in Indonesia's Aceh province – Timor-Leste is leading by example. The move came from within Timorese civil society, but was quickly endorsed by the prime minister in a powerful speech.

Not on the path to failure

Some experts offer a bleak view on Timorese prospects after 15 years of independence. An Australian academic, for instance, recently criticized the Timorese campaign for a maritime border with Australia, arguing "this pursuit of independence may actually create a failed state in Timor-Leste." By pushing Australia, she suggested, Timor-Leste might become the "architect of its own demise." An Australian parliamentary committee seized on this unsupported prediction to bolster the Australian government's predatory policy toward Timor-Leste – and then blame the Timorese for the outcome.

But experts have offered bleak views before. It was received wisdom during the Indonesian occupation (1975 to 1999) that Timorese independence was a "lost cause" and Indonesian rule an "accomplished and irreversible fact." Experts and governments were united: Timorese independence was impossible.

Yet Timor-Leste did become independent. As Timorese academic Guteriano Neves has written:

"It is important to acknowledge... the complex challenges that Timor-Leste is facing.... Timorese have to live with these challenges and working together to overcome them. Viewing these challenges as the product of social and political dynamic and using these challenges as the basis to claim that Timor-Leste is a failed state is ahistorical, missing the context, and it is an oversimplification of the issue."

Why this matters to Canada

Canadian governments called Timorese independence a "lost cause" for two decades, but then engaged actively in the 1999 independence referendum and in post-conflict reconstruction. Today, the recent report of the country's truth and reconciliation commission offers new prospects for Canadian re-engagement in ways that foreground global reconciliation and human rights. Some possible actions could be:

Canada played a role in development and reconstruction after the end of Indonesian rule in 1999, and then-prime minister Jean Chretien's government pledged to remain for the long term. Canadian involvement flagged thereafter, with most Canadian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) departing. One exception was USC Canada, whose program in Timor-Leste supports local NGO RAEBIA (Resilient Agriculture and Economy through Biodiversity in Action). The USC-backed "seeds of hope" program provides seeds and support to farmers in an effort to raise production, promote biodiversity, and provide a more secure livelihood for local farmers and communities. This more locally grounded approach is less liable to be blown by the ever-shifting winds of the global compassion industry that prompts NGOs to pack up shop and relocate to Myanmar, or South Sudan, or the latest humanitarian catastrophe. It is also an approach that aligns well with Timorese NGO calls for a more small-scale and local focus for development programs. Recently, there are signs that Canada may be re-engaging with development in Timor-Leste.

The seeds of co-operation sown by Canadians in Timor-Leste have not all blossomed. Fifteen years later, there is something to be said for Canadians noticing Timor-Leste once again – not as a distant trouble spot, but as a partner in international affairs. What Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland calls " new shared human imperatives" require Canada to look beyond traditional partners and traditional patterns. In prioritizing climate change, Canada will need to support the most threatened states – Timor-Leste among them. Timor-Leste's current minister of commerce, industry, and the environment, Constancio Pinto, sees Canada's Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, as a potential ally based on her past experience as a UN adviser in Timor-Leste. In seeking a "feminist foreign policy," Canada may find Timor-Leste more like-minded than many other countries in its region. Timor-Leste is an obvious fit for the new " feminist international assistance policy" promoted by International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, with strong women's NGOs and a vibrant civil society sector. And if Canada wants to promote LGBT+ rights globally, it could do worse than making common cause with governments like Timor-Leste's that are taking a stand on this issue.

Finally, in all these goals, Canada may have more to learn than it does to teach. It may find quieter but more creative global voices – Timorese voices among them – to be worth heeding.

Postscript: July 24, 2017

Timor-Leste's first parliamentary elections since the UN mission's final departure went off without a hitch on July 22, 2017, according to observers. With the preliminary vote count complete two days after election day, Fretilin has topped the polls with about 30 per cent of the vote on the strength of an impressive and Internet-savvy campaign.

According to projections from La'o Hamutuk, it returns to the leading position in parliament with a probable 23 seats in the country's proportional representation system. Xanana Gusmao's CNRT falls to second place with a predicted 22 seats. Since neither party has won a majority and both are committed to continued co-operation, they could renew their coalition. Alternatively, as Australian scholar Michael Leach writes, they could invite one of the three other parties that also won over four per cent of the vote, and thus won seats, into a coalition.

These three are the Democratic Party, a well-organized and longstanding party originally formed by clandestine youth activists during the years of Indonesian rule, which is slated to pick up 7 seats, plus two new entrants into parliament. The new third-place party, with over 10 per cent of the vote and a probable 8 seats, is outgoing president Taur Matan Ruak's PLP, which put together a strong performance on an anti-corruption platform that also called for a more grassroots approach to development. The PLP combined appeals to the independence struggle and the younger generation; it is perhaps the party closest to Timorese NGOs. Also entering parliament with a predicted 5 seats is Khunto, a party that mobilized unemployed youth voters and echoed the PLP's calls for change. Alongside consensus politics and appeals for national unity, strong voices for a new approach to development will be heard in parliament in the next five years. – By David Webster


[1] Laurentina "mica" Barreto Soares, "Development and foreign aid in Timor-Leste after independence," in Flowers in the Wall: Memory, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Melanesia (forthcoming from University of Calgary Press, 2017).

[2] Darren Brunk, "Conclusion," in From Kinshasa to Kandahar: Canada and Fragile States in Historical Perspective, Michael K. Carroll and Greg Donaghy, eds., (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2016), 247. The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

[David Webster is an associate professor of history at Bishop's University and author of Fire and the Full Moon: Canada and Indonesia in a Decolonizing World (UBC Press, 2009). He edited the forthcoming book Flowers in the Wall: Memory, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Melanesia, and is currently writing a history of relations between Canada and East Timor from both the government and non-government perspectives.]

Source: https://www.asiapacific.ca/canada-asia-agenda/15-years-after-independence-whatever-happened-east-timor

Indonesia ban on civil society bodies: Spot on or overreach? – Analysis

Eurasia Review - July 20, 2017

Alexander R Arifianto – On July 10, 2017, Indonesian President Joko Widodo (popularly known as Jokowi) signed a government regulation which amends Law No. 17/2013 on Civil Society Organisations (CSO) to expedite the legal process to disband "illegal" civil society organisations.

The emergency regulation was publicly announced on 12 July by retired general Wiranto, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs.

Perppu No. 2/2017 disbands a civil society organisation that is found to have committed a number of offences. They include advocating secession from the unitary Republic of Indonesia (NKRI); committing an act which opposes Indonesia's national ideology Pancasila (Five Principles); and engaging a blasphemous act against an officially recognised religious group.

Regulation's purpose

The new regulation scrapped the legal procedures specified in the 2013 Law on Civil Society Organisations to revoke the legal recognition for a CSO. Formerly, this was an elaborate procedure, requiring the government to issue three notices against the organisation before it may proceed to petition the lower court to issue a ruling to revoke its legal status. The CSO had the right to defend itself in the court and the right to appeal the ruling to the Indonesian Supreme Court, which would issue the final ruling on the matter.

Now the government has the right to revoke an organisation's legal recognition after giving it a seven-day notice that it is breaking the Civil Society Law. The Ministry of Law and Human Rights then has the full authority to prohibit the CSO without having to go to court to obtain a ruling against the organisation.

The emergency regulation is widely perceived to give the Indonesian government an expedited authority to ban hardline Islamist groups such as Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI). It is the Indonesian affiliate of the global Hizb-ut Tahrir (Party of Liberation) movement, which advocates the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate.

HTI has attracted a wide following in Indonesia, especially among young high school and university students and middle-class professionals for its propagation (da'wa) activities, which calls for Indonesia to be part of a global caliphate system, contradicting Indonesia as a sovereign unitary republic – Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia (NKRI).

HTI was part of a broad coalition of Islamic organisations which mobilised a series of protests against former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (popularly known as Ahok) for allegedly committing a blasphemous act against Islam in one of his re-election campaign speeches. Their year-long campaign against Ahok contributed to his defeat last April and his conviction for blasphemy in May 2017, for which he is serving a two-year prison sentence.

Critics' response

President Jokowi has been under pressure to rein in the organisation. His supporters argue that HTI and other Islamist groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) could plan further actions that would endanger Jokowi's re-election prospects in 2019. This is indicated from his swift action to issue the Perppu, an extraordinary measure that he has only utilised twice previously during his three-year old presidency.

Jokowi's decision to issue the Perppu came under strong criticism from human rights groups and a number of Islamic bodies. They protested against the broad authority now granted to the Indonesian government to disband any groups that committed the above offences, pointing out that under the new law, the government has the authority to ban any civil society groups, not just those promoting hardline Islamic ideology.

Human rights groups have condemned the Perppu for "undermining the rights of freedom of association and expression" and that it could bring back authoritarian rule similar to those under Indonesia's long-term dictator Suharto from 1966 to 1998.

HTI, the primary target of the regulation, has issued a statement stating that it strongly rejects the regulation, insisting it has not broken any laws and that it is simply preaching Islamic values toward its followers. It now plans to file an appeal to Indonesia's Constitutional Court to challenge the Perppu's constitutionality. It has hired prominent lawyer and politician Yusril Ihza Mahendra, a former Minister of Law and Human Rights, to represent it in its Constitutional Court appeal.

Jokowi's democrat credibility under threat

Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia's two largest Islamic organisations, have diverging opinions regarding the emergency regulation. Muhammadiyah condemns the government's decision to issue the Perppu, stating that its issuance is "a high price to pay for Indonesian democracy, especially if it is intended against just one specific organisation".

However, NU officially supports the regulation. Said Aqil Siradj, NU's general chairman, states that it is needed to ban any organisation which opposes the Pancasila national ideology and to stop the growth of hardline groups like HTI, which is now supported by approximately nine percent of Indonesia's population.

This is not the final word on the Perppu; it still needs to be endorsed by the Indonesian Parliament (DPR) and affirmed by the Constitutional Court in a widely anticipated legal challenge by human rights and Islamist groups.

Whether the regulation is only intended to crack down on hardline Islamist groups or whether it will be used to ban other organisations remains to be seen. However, by issuing the Perppu, Jokowi is opening Pandora's Box that could endanger his legacy as a popular Indonesian president elected under democratic principles.

[Alexander R Arifianto PhD is a Research Fellow with the Indonesia Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.]

Source: http://www.eurasiareview.com/20072017-indonesia-ban-on-civil-society-bodies-spot-on-or-overreach-analysis/

Indonesia's ban of Islamist group undermines rights

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - July 19, 2017

Andreas Harsono – The Indonesian government today ordered the disbanding of Hizbut Tahrir, a conservative Islamist group that supports the creation of a Sharia-based Islamic caliphate to replace the country's pluralist democracy.

The government sought to justify the ban on the basis that the organization's activities were "against Pancasila and the soul of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia." Pancasila, or "five principles," is Indonesia's official state philosophy.

The government's action follows President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's issuance of a decree on July 12 that amended the country's law regulating nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and enabled the government to fast-track the banning of groups it considers security threats. The decree stripped the 2013 Mass Organizations Law of a detailed set of procedures required before official bans could be imposed on such groups.

Today's action was an apparent response to pressure from 14 Muslim organizations, including the Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Islamic mass organization, to ban Hizbut Tahrir for posing a "national security threat." Within the government, there was a deepening concern about the possible destabilizing impact of increasingly influential Islamists propagating an intolerant strain of Sunni Islam.

Hizbut Tahrir has been banned in much of the Middle East and countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, and Russia, while its public activities have been restricted in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. Hizbut Tahrir's Indonesian branch has an estimated 40,000 registered members.

The decision to ban Hizbut Tahrir constitutes a troubling infringement of the rights of freedom of association and expression. If the organization or its members have broken the law, the response should be criminal prosecutions, not banning. International law ensures the right to form associations, and any limitations on activities must be based on law, strictly necessary, and the least restrictive possible. Banning an organization should be a last resort, and the organization should be able to contest the ban in court.

Banning any organization strictly on ideological grounds, including Pancasila, is a draconian action that undermines rights of freedom of association and expression that Indonesians have fought hard to establish since the end of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998. The government's move to ban Hizbut Tahrir only underscores the fragility of the rights and freedoms Indonesians have come to take for granted since Suharto's fall.

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/07/19/indonesias-ban-islamist-group-undermines-rights

Why banning 'extremist groups' is dangerous for Indonesia

Washington Post - July 19, 2017

Julie Chernov Hwang – Last week, Indonesian President Joko Widodo signed into law a decree to make it easier for his government to ban any group it deems "extremist."

It also established criminal penalties for being a member or leader of a banned group and for participating in violence or vigilantism as part of one ranging from five years to life in prison.

This decree represents a step not even taken at the height of Indonesian terrorism, when hotels, churches and bars were bombed between 1999 and 2005. Critics of the law argue it has the potential to cause serious consequences for Indonesia's stability, security and democracy.

Before passing the decree, if the government sought to ban a group, it had to first issue three warnings. If that did not resolve the matter, there could be a lengthy court process with appeals all the way to the Supreme Court. There were no provisions enabling the imprisonment of activists for their attitudes, aspirations or nonviolent activities. By contrast, the new decree only requires the government to give one week's notice of intent – no warnings and no court process.

Islamist extremism: A marginal fringe

One reason violent Islamist extremism has remained a marginal fringe in Indonesia is the decision by iterated democratically elected administrations not to restrict political participation to those groups supportive of the Indonesian national ideology, Pancasila, a general set of principles that include monotheism, social justice, humanitarianism, democracy through deliberation and consensus and unity in diversity.

In the past, the government forced organized groups to take Pancasila as their sole foundation, driving underground groups that sought to keep Islam as their central organizing principle. Those who sought an Islamic state wanted to change Pancasila to provide provisions stipulating an obligation for Muslims to obey Islamic law.

Those laws on religious organizations were rolled back shortly after Indonesia transitioned to democracy to allow groups to set Islam (or Christianity or other ideologies) as their philosophical foundation. This move provided space for those seeking Islamic law and the implementation of an Islamic state to form social movements and political parties; hold demonstrations, congresses and workshops; to endorse political actors; to preach at mosques; and to build alliances with like-minded groups.

The law also allowed for a critical space where groups could be anti-Pancasila or ambivalent toward Pancasila; supportive of transforming Indonesia into an Islamic state and implementing Islamic law; and anti-Islamic State.

Demonstrations calling for the conviction of former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – also known as "Ahok" – for blasphemy saw participation by current and former members of Islamist extremist groups. By contrast, the leaders of pro-Islamic State groups called on their members to disrupt the protest. Eliminating that space and driving such groups underground could potentially have an unintended further radicalizing effect. Instead of bringing formerly clandestine Islamist extremist groups from the shadows into the realm of "uncivil" society, this legislation could have the reverse effect.

Why ban Hizb ut-Tahrir?

In May 2017, one of the government ministers behind the decree called for a specific Islamist group called Hizb ut-Tahrir to be banned in Indonesia, charging that its activities ran contrary to Pancasila. Hizb ut-Tahrir – a transnational group that calls for the eventual establishment of a pan-Islamic caliphate – had been careful to avoid making statements that were explicitly anti-Pancasila. The group clarified that even though it may use the same terminology as the Islamic State, it differs with the terrorist group in significant ways: It does not accept Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its leader or consider the land claimed by the Islamic State to be an actual caliphate.

There are an estimated 40,000 Hizb ut-Tahrir activists in Indonesia. Hizb ut-Tahrir has long been a fixture of Islamist activism. It had been active in campaigns in support of sharia-friendly bills, including campaigns in favor of the 2006 and 2008 anti-pornography bills. More recently, Hizb ut-Tahrir aggravated the Widodo administration for taking a leading role in the anti-Ahok campaign. Ahok had served under Widodo, also known as "Jokowi," as vice governor of Jakarta.

The day after issuing the decree, Jokowi formally banned Hizb ut-Tahrir, a move that is likely to exacerbate polarization between the government and Islamist groups. The decision to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir has been widely panned by media, human rights groups, the academic community as well as legal experts as dictatorial and wholly unnecessary. As one Human Rights Watch researcher put it – the decree is the equivalent of "shooting sparrows with a cannon."

Challenges for the future

This decree, if enforced, would mean Islamists could face a future without the space to advocate for the transformation of Indonesian society and the state without fear of imprisonment.

It could lay the groundwork for a scenario in which individuals find themselves facing long prison terms for espousing support for an Islamic state or for criticizing state officials on the grounds that they would be committing what the bill terms "acts of hostility," a broadly worded umbrella encompassing speech, attitude and writing both online and in print that has the potential to evoke hatred.

Should this decree be enforced against militant Islamist groups broadly, it could also undermine carefully constructed narratives within Islamic militant communities that say that Indonesia is not an appropriate place to conduct terrorist actions at this time because Indonesia does not oppress Muslims and Muslims are not under threat.

[Julie Chernov Hwang is an associate professor of political science and international relations at Goucher College and author of "Why Terrorists Quit: The Disengagement of Indonesian Jihadists" (forthcoming February 2018, Cornell University Press).]

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/07/19/why-banning-extremist-groups-is-dangerous-for-indonesia/

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