Jakarta Hundreds of ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers blocked the Casablanca elevated road in South Jakarta on Tuesday morning in protest over a rule banning motorcycles from the overpass.
The drivers were furious because they said police officers were only deployed to one end of the road, which connects to Kampung Melayu in East Jakarta and Tanah Abang in Central Jakarta.
"They didn't stand in Karet, but conducted the raid here in Casablanca. I feel trapped," one driver said on Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
The protest caused traffic congestion from the Menteng Pulo cemetery in Central Jakarta to the Kota Kasablanka Mall in South Jakarta. Police personnel eventually dispersed the protesters.
Jakarta Police traffic unit head Comr. Hari Admoko denied accusations that police had trapped the motorcycle drivers, saying officers had been standing by on both lanes from Karet to Casablanca. "They are just looking for a reason [to protest]," Hari said.
Previously, police had told motorcycle drivers not to use the elevated road, as it was exclusively for cars.
Jakarta Transportation Agency deputy head Sigit Wijatmoko said strong wind on the elevated road might be dangerous for motorcycle drivers, so they should not use the road.
Motorcycle drivers also often took selfies on the elevated road, which could endanger their lives, Sigit said. (cal)
One person has been killed and a dozen others wounded after a clash during local elections in Indonesia's Papua province.
Antara reported the incident started on Saturday morning between supporters of rival candidates in the election for the head of Puncak Jaya district.
The Papua police spokesman Senior Commissioner Ahmad Kamal told the Indonesian news agency 16 houses were also burned.
He appealed to people not to be provoked by rumours and for candidates to monitor their supporters, saying the election dispute was still being settled in the courts.
Jayapura, Jubi Obby Kogoya (22) was convicted of violating Article 212 of the Criminal Code with 4 months of confinement and 1 year probation. The Legal Aid Institute (LBH) of Yogyakarta considered that the verdict was not based on the facts at trials because all of prosecution evidence presented by the prosecutor was not proven.
"In fact, through the evidence presented by the legal advisor, it was mentioned that Obby Kogoya did not fight against the officers with violence," said Yogi Zul Fadhli, one of the lawyers team from LBH Yogyakarta who accompanied Obby Kogoya Friday (July 28).
The panel of judges chaired by Wiwik Wisnuningdyah, and accompanied by Bambang Sunanto and Hapsoro Restu Widodo as members.
LBH considered this decision to be jurisprudence for the apparatus in law enforcement that does not in line with human rights in the future.
Obby was arrested on the siege incident of Papuan student dormitory. He also experienced torture including racism by a group of mass organizations against Papuan students who'd like to stage a peaceful rally to support West Papua full membership in MSG, on July 15, 2016.
From the facts of the events of July 15, 2016 according to LBH has already shows the existence of legal events which wa: silencing the space of democracy, torture, racism and criminalization against Obby Kogoya.
The process of criminalization of Obby takes a long time, approximately a year. Lack of evidence had delayed the trial process long enough.
LBH also deplored the attitude of the Yogyakarta police who continue to direct their troops using a single truck and several motor bikes which always present during the trial. This police attitude raises its own question marks related what goals and who is secured, and for what reason.
While Obby Kogoya, a nursing's student who are working on his thesis, is far from having dangerous impression or act. Obby patiently attend his trial while fulfilling his college obligations at the Respati University of Yogyakarta.
In preliminary hearing of the Obby case against the Yogyakarta Regional Police, August 30, 2016 the armed forces even entered the court and had stood behind the judge. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of Obby's torture are still roaming freely.
"Therefore, we urge the Yogyakarta Police and the court to arrest and to process the police officer who conducted torture against Obby Kogoya on July 15, 2016 whose case has been reported to the police," said Yogi.
LBH Yogyakarta is very disappointed and deplores of the decision against Obby Kogoya who does not stand on the fact of the trial as a whole. LBH also condemned racial and ethnic discrimination in law enforcement against Obby and Papuan students in general in Yogyakarta.
Prior to the hearing, Emanuel Gobay, another member of Obby Kogoya's lawyer team from LBH Yogyakarta had said that the result of the verdict will show the quality of law enforcement and democracy in Yogyakarta.
When confirmed by Jubi Friday (July 28) related to further legal action to be taken by LBH Yogyakarta, Emanuel firmly answered will state an appeal. "We will make appeal. We were given 7 days, in that period we will discuss with Obby, since it depends on the will of Obby," he said.
According to Emanue, appeal submitted as part of the protection of human rights and democracy and against police officers who discriminate and torture in carrying out their duties.
"The appeal is also part of protection against the dignity of Obby who in reality has never conducted violence against the officers while the perpetrators of torture against Obby are not processed, which is strange in the context of a constitutional state that has a constitutional responsibility to protect human rights," he said.
Obby Kogoya, told Jubi shortly after the verdict on Thursday (July 27), said very disappointed with verdict. "The verdict from the judge this morning did not match the testimony of the witnesses," he said while still not forgetting to give thanks for all effort that has been done. "But for all what happens I should have said thanks,"he said.(*)
Jonas Cullwick Last week's 14th Pacific Regional ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Port Vila issued a five-point position of the issue of West Papuan independence.
It says Parliamentarians of the ACP-EU Parliaments can voice their concern and they can support Papuan rights, including the right to self-determination by rallying to the call from the 8 Pacific Island Countries for justice and respect for the right to self-determination.
They can get regional and global intergovernmental bodies such the African Union, CARICOM and other regional and sub-regional multilateral bodies to pass resolutions and restrict commercial and other relations with Indonesia.
As member states of the United Nations ACP-EU countries can insist on an internationally supervised referendum on independence (or at least the re-listing of West Papua as a non-self-governing territory).
Support with one voice the proposed resolutions in the upcoming Joint ACP-EU parliament meeting in month of October and also the resolution on West Papua to be adopted at ACP Council of Ministers meeting in November 2017; And call on ACP-EU Parliamentarians to urge their respective governments to address the issue of West Papua at the multilateral level and assist Indonesia to resolve this 54 year crisis.
Jakarta, Jubi The highest child poverty rates is in the provinces of Papua, West Papua and East Nusa Tenggara, respectively 35.57 percent, 31.03 percent, and 26.42 percent.
While the lowest rates were in the provinces of Bali, DKI Jakarta and South Kalimantan, respectively at 5.39 percent, 5.55 percent, and 6.06 percent.
This was revealed in the launching of Child Poverty Analysis Book and Deprivation of Basic Rights of Children in Indonesia by BPS (Central Bureau of Statistics) with The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Jakarta, Tuesday (July 25).
Head of the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) Suhariyanto emphasized the importance of database related to child poverty so that policies taken by the government can be effective to overcome the problem.
According to him, poverty is one of the root causes of children's obstacles to grow and develop based to their maximum potential. Growing in poverty affects children's health and nutrition, educational attainment and psychosocial well-being of children.
As of March 2016, the poor population in Indonesia reached 28.01 million people where 40.22 percent of them are children that is 11.26 million of people.
Based on the National Socioeconomic Survey (Susenas) March 2016, nationally, the percentage of poor children in Indonesia is 13.31 percent. Almost half of poor children in Indonesia are in Java, which is 47.39 percent.
Demographics and household characteristics are also very influential with child poverty in Indonesia. Children living in households with five or more household members are at a higher risk of becoming poor than those living in households with fewer than five households.
Child poverty is measured through a broader and mulitidimensional aspect, such as the difficulty of access to adequate housing, nutritionally adequate food, health and education services, and the right to receive birth registration.
Head of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), Bambang Brodjonegoro, said that sustainable development should start with the children. "This book is an important effort to gain a uniform understanding of child poverty, not only monetary but also multidimensional, so it is hoped that in the future the right policy direction can be formulated," said Bambang.(*)
Phelim Kine The Indonesian government says it will likely reject 75 recommendations by United Nations member countries to improve human rights abuses in Indonesia.
Those recommendations targeted issues such as threats to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, the abusive blasphemy law, and the death penalty. An Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs official described the recommendations as "hard to accept" for reasons including the vague and undefined notion of "Indonesian conditions."
UN members made the recommendations in May 2017 during the country's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. Ireland and Sweden recommended that the Indonesian government address anti-LGBT discriminatory laws, Angola and Spain called for the abolition of the death penalty, and the United States and Germany sought the revocation of the blasphemy law. Indonesia must formally respond to those recommendations with a response of "accept" or "note" the latter signaling an effective rejection of the recommendation during the next meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.
The Indonesian government's unwillingness to address these abusive laws and policies shows a lack of commitment to improving the country's human rights record. It's also an ominous signal of the government's disregard for the rights of the LGBT community and religious minorities. Government-fueled animus has stoked a surge in anti-LGBT incidents across Indonesia since January 2016 in synch with broader rising intolerance of religious minorities. The blasphemy law has increasingly been used to prosecute and imprison members of religious minorities. While the government has paused its use of the death penalty since July 2016, the execution of convicted drug traffickers remains a signature policy of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
The government's feeble claim of "Indonesian conditions" for rejecting solid recommendations from UN member countries to improve human rights will come as no comfort for LGBT people and religious minorities whose rights are already in peril.
Jakarta For anyone who took part in the Kamisan protest in front of the State Palace on Thursday, a frequently quoted statement by Czech author Milan Kundera could not have been more appropriate:
"The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."
On Thursday, victims of human rights abuses, their families, activists, scholars and artists held the weekly Kamisan rally for the 500th time, reminding the government once again of its obligation to resolve past human rights abuses.
Among those in attendance were Catholic priest and philosopher Franz Magnis Suseno and respected indie band Efek Rumah Kaca. Yet, the protest, which saw a bigger number of participants than usual, was met with silence.
Despite his campaign promises, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has yet to make any significant moves to bring those responsible for past abuses to justice. "Our wounds won't heal if the victims are forgotten," Franz said.
Kamisan, from Kamis (Thursday), has been held every Thursday since Jan. 18, 2007. At the time, it was put on mainly by families of the victims of human rights abuses that took place before, during and after the downfall of Soeharto in 1998.
Today, Kamisan has become a symbol of the national struggle against impunity, with young people becoming its main driving force.
"Honestly, I'm tired of the government's response. However, whenever I look at the young people who join us every week, I become optimistic again," said Maria Catarina Sumarsih, one of the first Kamisan protesters whose son was shot dead during the Semanggi I incident in November 1998. (kuk/ary)
Jakarta/Singapore (Bloomberg) In the late 1980s, Pakistani clerics beseeched Indonesia to pray for them after Benazir Bhutto became prime minister and the first woman to govern a Muslim majority nation.
Ms Khofifah Indar Parawansa, now a Cabinet minister in Indonesia, recalls the incident with some irony. The clerics told Abdurrahman Wahid, who would later become Indonesia's president, that Pakistan would be "unlucky for being ruled by a woman", she said.
Ms Parawansa, 52, is one of nine female ministers in the world's most populous Muslim nation, exemplifying the country's success in breaking gender and religious stereotypes.
At 26 per cent, Indonesia has the largest ratio of female ministers among the 10 biggest countries based on population size, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union or IPU, a global organisation of parliaments based in Geneva.
Women have made grounds in Indonesia from politics to central banking. High-profile officials include Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi a first in the country's history and Maritime and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti. Rosmaya Hadi became Bank Indonesia's only female deputy governor this year.
Part of Indonesia's success has been setting gender quotas for candidates that political parties put forward for public office. Females now hold almost a fifth of the seats in Indonesia's national parliament, up from 8 per cent in 2003 when a non-compulsory quota was first introduced, according to IPU.
In 1995, only four countries used gender quotas, according to research published by the Asia & The Pacific Policy Studies in January. Twenty years later, more than 120 countries had adopted some form of gender quota to increase women's representation, according to IPU.
In countries such as Rwanda, Cuba and Iceland, women lawmakers make up more than 40 per cent of parliament. Among the most populous nations, China leads the way with about a quarter.
But there is still a long way to go for Indonesia to boost gender diversity in its economy. The South-east Asian nation has one of the lowest female participation rates in the labour market in Asia at 38 per cent, compared with 44 per cent in China and 43 per cent in Japan, according to the World Bank.
Indonesia also has one of the largest gender gaps the difference between labour-force participation of men and women along with India, Bangladesh, Turkey and Mexico, according to a report by Standard Chartered PLC.
"In spite of much progress, gender equality is an unfinished agenda," Imrana Jalal, senior gender specialist at the Asian Development Bank in Manila, said in an interview.
"Removing gender disparities against women not only upholds their basic rights and promotes social justice, but is also good for development. Making job discrimination unlawful can help economies by deploying talent to occupations that can make the most of it."
Women's participation in the labour force, particularly in developing nations, has remained low despite significant progress in boosting economic growth, lowering fertility rates, and improving education.
In places like Indonesia and the Philippines, social norms still dictate the kind of jobs women can do, with many restricted to handling mainly housework and childcare responsibilities.
This social structure has economic costs. The removal of gender bias in education, the labour market, and the household would increase per capita income by 70 per cent over a generation in a typical Asian economy, according to the ADB.
Ms Parawansa, who is now Social Affairs Minister, said her advance up the political ranks has had its challenges. She was a young member of the parliament in 1998 at 32 when she stood up to speak out against then-dictator Suharto, calling for "political reformation". The speech was controversial enough that her husband worried for her safety, she recalled.
"The seniors were trying to block me: This little kid, a woman, what is she up to?" Ms Parawansa said in an interview from her office in Jakarta, dressed in a long-sleeve batik shirt and pumpkin-coloured headscarf. "Many people were surprised with my speech. I could see that not all people liked it."
Women in public office in Indonesia also need to contend with growing religious conservatism in the country. The election of Jakarta's governor this year was marred by religious and ethnic tensions, and President Joko Widodo last week banned a hardline Islamist organisation in the country, adding to political risks in the country.
For Ms Parawansa, who once aspired to be a motorbike racer, opportunity is key to getting more women into high-profile roles. "Today, I see both men and women are equally tenacious," she said. "It shouldn't be waited, opportunity must be pursued."
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Semarang The University of Semarang (Unnes) in Central Java has reported two of its students to police for committing satire after they criticized Technology, Research and Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir by granting him a bogus award.
The students, identified as Julio Belnanda Harianja and Harist Achmad Mizaki, uploaded a picture of an award described as being "for the ministry for hurting the principle of a Single Tuition for Higher Education (UKT)."
The university's law and human resources division reported the students to the police, accusing them of violating the 2017 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law.
The university stated it was worried the students' action could damage the reputation of the institution and its rector Fathur Rokhman.
However, Fathur said the university did not report the students to the police to restrict their freedom of expression and speech. He added that the university had warned the students about social media posts.
"If they are sure they're innocent, they should not be afraid of the report," Fathur said on Monday as quoted by Tribunnews.com. He added the university would always be open to criticism "as long as it is based on valid analysis and data." (bbs)
Jakarta Islamist groups, numbering in their thousands, took to the streets of Jakarta on Friday (28/07) to protest a new regulation that will make it easier for the government to ban so-called "mass organizations" including Muslim groups accused of threatening Indonesia's national unity.
The regulation, called Perppu Ormas, was issued in the midst of a push by the government to demand stronger loyalty from mass organizations to Indonesia's state ideology Pancasila, amid fears that rising Islamist extremism may jeopardize democracy and pluralist values in the world's largest Muslim-majority country.
Backed by the regulation, the government had already disbanded a Muslim organization, Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), last week over accusations it undermines Pancasila by advocating the formation of an Islamic caliphate. Despite its political stance, HTI is known as a non-violent organization.
The government's move has sparked protests and accusations, including from rights groups, that it is actually the government that is jeopardizing Indonesia's hard-won democracy and discrediting Islamist organizations.
Ex-members of HTI and members of several other Islamist groups, including the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), gathered for a protest on Friday at the Istiqlal Mosque compound in Central Jakarta. The white-clad protesters, wearing Muslim caps and robes and raising flags, later marched to the National Monument (Monas) to protest.
"We are no longer allowed to shout 'khilafah (caliphate),'" HTI spokesman Ismail Yusanto told the crowd. "With this regulation, the government is not only trying to ban mass organizations, but also stifle the development of Islamic teachings."
Representatives from the Muslim groups also met with Constitutional Court officials to file requests for a judicial review on the government regulation from six Islamist groups.
President Joko Widodo signed the regulation earlier this month, after receiving backing from several moderate Muslim organizations.
The regulation drops a requirement stipulated in a law on mass organizations enacted in 2013 that makes it mandatory to bring mass groups to trial before disbanding them.
"This as a trick by the government to weaken Islamic-based organizations," an FPI sympathizer in the crowd said. "This is Islamophobia."
HTI itself filed a judicial review against the government regulation last week, with the first court hearing of the complaint held on Wednesday.
HTI is the Indonesian chapter of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which has been banned in several countries. HTI has been present in Indonesia since the 1980s and has largely been a campus-based movement with well-attended meetings and rallies.
"Many of these mass organizations were already here before Indonesia existed as a republic. They fought for Indonesian independence. Will they also be banned now?" FPI spokesman Slamet Maarif said.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta The Constitutional Court held its first session on Wednesday to hear a complaint from the now-disbanded Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), which has challenged the legality of a presidential regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) issued as the legal basis for disbanding the Islamic organization.
Representing the organization is senior lawyer and former law and human rights minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra, who in his first statement to the court asked the justices to decide who should file the complaint in the first place.
"We have a bit of a legal problem regarding the legal standing of who should file the judicial review. We want the panel of judges to provide clarification on this," Yusril told the hearing.
Responding to the statement, Constitutional Court justice I Gede Dewa Palguna said both individuals in the organization or officials representing HTI could file the judicial review.
Earlier this month, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo signed a the Perppu to ban organizations deemed anti-Pancasila. Last week, the Law and Human Rights Ministry issued a follow-up regulation to disband the HTI based on the Perppu. The HTI said it would also challenge the decision at a state administrative court.
Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Jakarta President Joko Widodo has dismissed criticism by the opposition including his predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that a new election law and a decree banning radical mass organisations would lead to "unchecked power", saying that Indonesia's political system rules out "absolute power".
"I need to state that there is no such thing as absolute power. We have the press, the media, non-governmental organisations, and those who carry out a supervisory role, the Parliament. The people can also carry out a direct supervisory role," Mr Joko told reporters during a visit to an industrial park in West Java province last Friday.
Any party can go through a process in Parliament if they do not agree with any law or regulation, Mr Joko added, stressing that there is an open channel to file any appeal or objection.
His remarks followed Dr Yudhoyono's strong words against the election Bill, which was passed in Parliament last week with the support of Mr Joko's ruling coalition.
The Bill preserves the requirement that parties will need to have at least 20 per cent of the seats in Parliament, or a minimum 25 per cent share of the popular vote, before they can nominate a presidential candidate.
Dr Yudhoyono's Democratic Party and the main opposition Gerindra party want these thresholds scrapped because they believe it would narrow the field for the 2019 race, and may give Mr Joko an unfair advantage.
Mr Joko, who had no prior ties to the old political or military elite, became President in 2014 under the same system and the status quo would favour his run for office again, political observers have said.
"Power must not go unchecked. That means we have to make sure those that have power do not go beyond the limits, so they do not go into an abuse of power territory," Dr Yudhoyono has said. "This nation has learnt many lessons that when there was an abuse of power, the people used their rights to correct the government."
Gerindra's Prabowo Subianto echoed Dr Yudhoyono's accusation, calling the recently ratified election law a joke. The two men agreed last Thursday their parties would cooperate.
Dr Yudhoyono has also criticised Mr Joko's latest perppu, an emergency edict that allows the government to disband radical organisations. The government has 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.
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Cikeas, West Java Gerindra Party chairman and former presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto arrived at the private residence of former president and Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Cikeas, West Java, at 8.30 p.m. on Thursday.
The patrons of the two largest opposition parties were scheduled to have closed-door talks about the newly passed election bill, during the deliberation of which both parties opposed the government's decision to retain the 25 percent presidential threshold.
"I come here for a silaturahim [a strengthening of friendly ties]," Prabowo told reporters upon arrival. Yudhoyono was ready to serve his guest nasi goreng (fried rice) cooked by a street food seller the former president had summoned to the house.
Many believe the meeting was also aimed at pondering a possible alliance between the two parties ahead of the 2019 presidential election. "[A coalition] could be established. It could happen as we have similarities of vision," Dems deputy chairman Syarief Hasan said. (bbs)
Jakarta Prior to a meeting between Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his Gerindra counterpart Prabowo Subianto, a senior party official has indicated that it would nominate its own presidential candidate for the 2019 elections, despite Gerindra's decision to nominate its patron Prabowo.
The two opposition party leaders are scheduled to hold a formal meeting on Thursday evening at Yudhoyono's private residence in Cikeas, West Java.
The deputy chairman of the Democratic Party advisory board, Agus Hermanto, said on Thursday morning that a coalition for 2019 could be one of the possible topics for discussion by the two leaders in the closed-door meeting. But he emphasized that, in the end, the party would propose its own presidential candidate, most likely selected from among its party cadres.
"Dems will definitely nominate our own presidential candidate. We're now cultivating our next leader, with young Dems members pushing for Agus Harimurti [Yudhoyono], but we'll see," said Agus, referring to Yudhoyono's eldest son, a Kostrad infantry unit veteran and Harvard graduate.
"Until now, we see that Prabowo is still firm on running in the presidential contest. So it's okay for him to ask for input from Yudhoyono, who has 10 years' experience as president and won the presidential election twice, about the key to success in the election," he said.
It is likely that no single party will be able to nominate a presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections, as the recently passed 2017 Election Law stipulates that a party must have 20 percent of total seats in the House of Representatives or 25 percent of popular votes to be able to field a presidential candidate.
Jakarta The National Mandate Party (PAN) has asserted that as part of the ruling coalition, it continues to support the President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo administration despite a call from party patron Amien Rais for a PAN politician to resign from his Cabinet post.
PAN central executive board (DPP) chairman Yandri Susanto said the party would not withdraw it politician from Jokowi's Cabinet because the authority to select ministers was the President's.
"[On ministerial seats] it's up to Pak Jokowi. The matter is in Pak Jokowi's hands," Yandri said as quoted by kompas.com on Monday evening.
Yandri went on to say that Amien made the suggestion in his role as honorary PAN council chairman. "It's normal to make suggestions. However, ministerial seats are the President's [prerogative]," he said.
PAN's only representative in the Cabinet is Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Asman Abnur. Yandri said the party would leave it up to President Jokowi whether to replace the PAN politician.
On Sunday, Amien called on PAN, a mid-sized party that has 8.57 percent of legislative seats, to withdraw from the government coalition. He suggested Asman resign from his position as a minister in Jokowi's Cabinet.
PAN's position in the Cabinet recently came into question after it chose not to side with the coalition in a recent vote on several crucial issues in the newly passed Election Law. (afr/ebf)
Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta The government is calling on industrial forest firms to comply with its peatland protection policy amid the increasing threat of forest fires in numerous regions in the country.
"There is no compromise for their obligation to comply with the regulations on peatland protection," Environment and Forestry Ministry secretary-general Bambang Hendroyono said in a statement obtained by The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Bambang said the government had set deadlines for industrial forest (HTI) concessionaires to immediately submit a revision of their work plans that had previously been rejected because, for example, it outlined a plan to cultivate in peatland areas intended for conservation.
Ninety-nine HTI firms have submitted their revision proposals, according to the ministry's data. However, Bambang said that most of the proposals had yet to detail "work plans that were in line with the framework of peatland protection."
Under the 2017 Environment and Forestry Ministerial Regulation, the government will provide substitution land for HTI concessionaires whose concession areas are made up of 40 percent of protected peatland.
The land swap scheme will be based on their revised work plans, which have to adhere to the government's plan to restore peatland areas. The revised work plans must detail HTI areas where there is peatland intended for conservation.
Forest and peatland fires, meanwhile, have started in at least three provinces in Indonesia Aceh, Jambi and West Kalimantan in the past week. (ary)
Meulaboh, Indonesia Young children lie in hospital in Aceh province, Indonesia, as thick smoke caused by forest fires forces dozens of people to be treated for lung infections.
Some schoolchildren were still able to go to school in Meulaboh Wednesday wearing masks but several schools suspended classes so students could stay at home.
In the past week, about 35 hotspots concentrations of fires have destroyed 70 hectares (0.27 square miles) of forests and other land in Aceh, the national disaster agency said.
"The land fires have been caused by people who clear their land by the traditional slash and burn method, so the fire spreads," national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purno Nugroho said.
People are advised to monitor their land and not to slash and burn, especially since the current dry season makes it easy for forest fires to escalate, Nugroho added.
Authorities are trying to put out the blazes and have warned of an escalating threat of forest fires with the dry season expected to continue for several months.
The haze is an annual problem in Indonesia caused by fires set in forest and on carbon-rich peatland in Indonesia to clear land for palm oil and pulpwood plantations.
The blazes occur mainly on Indonesia's Sumatra island and the Indonesian part of Borneo, with monsoon winds typically blowing the haze over nearby Singapore and Malaysia.
There are currently about 180 hotspots in Indonesia over about six provinces, but the number is significantly lower than in 2015 when haze cloaked large parts of the region causing huge numbers to fall ill and sending diplomatic tensions soaring.
Last year, researchers from Harvard and Columbia universities in the United States estimated that the 2015 smog outbreak may have caused over 100,000 premature deaths. (AFP)
N. Adri, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan Local people living near an orangutan rehabilitation compound in Samboja Lestari, around 45 kilometers north of Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, have reportedly cut down trees in the forest area, threatening the survival of 24 individual orangutans living there.
"They have occupied 300 hectares of our land. They are now using bulldozers to chop down the forest and to open land," Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) program manager Agus Irianto said on Wednesday.
At the BOSF rehabilitation center, which covers 1,852 hectares of land, the 24 orangutans are undergoing survival training as part of rehabilitation efforts before their planned release into the wild. They are among 170 orangutans being treated by the conservation foundation.
According to BOSF management, it took around 15 years for the foundation's volunteers to reforest Samboja Lestari, which was previously in critical condition. They planted various species of trees that were used to help train the orangutans.
Agus said the suspects, residents of Tani Bhakti village in Samboja district, claimed that the Samboja Lestari forest was previously designated a transmigration area.
The suspects, he said, were transmigrants from East Java who had lived in the area since 1957. However, the BOSF had bought the land from the local people in stages at around Rp 2 million (US$150) per ha from 2000 to 2005, he added.
"We hope the Kutai Kartanegara Transmigration Agency can help explain the legal status of the land to the local residents," said BOSF executive director Jamartin Sihite. (ebf)
Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) has warned of an escalating threat of forest fires with the dry season expected to peak in coming months, while hot spots detected in the province of Aceh have already been causing choking smoke.
Fires had spread to around 64 hectares (158 acres) of fields and forests in Aceh, a northern province on the island of Sumatra, producing haze and some residents had been taken to hospital due to breathing problem, the agency said on Tuesday.
"The peak of the dry season is predicted to be in August and September, so the threat of forest and field fires, and drought will escalate," Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for BNPB said in a statement.
The fires in Aceh started on Tuesday last week and authorities are still trying to extinguish them in some areas. Meanwhile, a satellite image showed 170 hot spots across Indonesia as of Monday evening, Nugroho said.
Indonesia is regularly hit by forest fires, which can result in choking smoke blowing across to neighbouring countries like Singapore and Malaysia.
Indonesia suffered some its worst forest fires in 2015, hitting mainly the island of Sumatra and in Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo island.
The World Bank, citing government data, said that 2.6 million hectares (6.4 million acres) of land in Indonesia burned between June and October 2015, causing $16 billion of estimated economic damage.
Draining and conversion of peatland, often driven by palm oil plantations, contributed to the intensity of haze from the fires, the World Bank said.
The head of Indonesia's Peatland Restoration Agency told a conference in May there would be "no more haze going to the neighbours", as authorities implemented new measure to combat fires, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported.
Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Ministry said on Monday she wanted to make permanent a current moratorium on issuing new licences to use land designated as primary forest and peatland.
By November last year, the government has put more than 66 million hectares under the coverage of the moratorium. Reuters
Jakarta Jakarta administration secretary Saefullah has expressed regret over state electricity company PLN's cutting power to West Jakarta schools because of their late payments.
Saefullah said that PLN was to tolerate the schools, which were only a month late in paying their electricity bills.
"We have had a good relationship with PLN so far, there has not been any chronic debt. Being a little late in payment is likely due to the [schools'] budgeting, which PLN should have understood," he told reporters at City Hall on Wednesday.
Saefullah said that PLN should have been more lenient in the matter, especially in connection with education, adding that PLN's substations using the capital's electrical assets had never been a problem.
"PLN uses many of our assets for its substations. They should have been more understanding and not simply cut off the power [and] disrupting the learning and teaching processes, which sometimes involve using computers. This is not an appropriate decision," he said as quoted by tribunnews.com.
Saefullah also said he hoped that the schools' administration could better manage the Education Operational Fund, which was disbursed once every three months, to prevent the situation from reoccurring.
"Schools should have better budgeting. They must plan all expenses for every three months and allocate alternative funds," Saefullah said. (dra)
Jakarta National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian on Monday released a sketch of the alleged assailant who threw acid at senior investigator of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Novel Baswedan.
Tito released the sketch after the news daily Koran Tempo published its own sketch on the front page of Monday's paper. The sketch was drawn based on information from eyewitnesses who were present during the moment of the attack in April this year.
The decision to release the sketch was made following a meeting between Tito and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the Presidential Palace on Monday.
In the sketch, which is radically different from the one published by Koran Tempo, the assailant was described as between 167 and 170 centimeters in height, with brown skin, a dark complexion and curly hair. The alleged assailant was also described as being rather skinny.
In the sketch made by Koran Tempo, the suspect was described as a stocky man about 165 centimeters in height. Tito said that the sketch was the closest approximation of what Novel's assailant looked like based on eyewitness accounts.
"He was on a motorbike," Tito told a press briefing, adding that the sketch did not match the three people who had been questioned by the Jakarta Police in connection with the attack.
Responding to a public-relations campaign launched by Novel and rights group who have called for the government to find the perpetrators of the attack, President Jokowi summoned Tito on Monday for a briefing on the investigation's progress.
In recent weeks, Novel has given interviews to both international and local news outlets to give details about April's attack, which severely damaged his left eye.
Jakarta The National Police's (Polri) inability to complete their investigation into Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan's acid attack has triggered speculation about possible attempts of certain interest groups to interfere with the case.
Former Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) coordinator Haris Azhar said it was unlikely that Polri was unable to uncover both the motive and the perpetrators of the attack. Instead, it was the police's willingness to pursue the case that should be questioned, he added.
Haris claimed that based on information he had received, there had been a battle of interests among parties inside the Polri that had slowed down the investigation into Novel's attack.
"We could smell some interest groups had played with Novel's case," said the activist as quoted by kompas.com during a discussion held at Muhammadiyah's central executive board office in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Haris said battles of interest were a common occurrence within the police institution. Moreover, he said, even Novel himself had pointed to the possible involvement of high-ranking Polri officials in his case.
"As to the battle of interest and the parties that may have been involved in Novel's case, I think some investigators are fully aware of it. This includes the Polri chief," said Haris, referring to Gen. Tito Karnavian.
Tito said earlier that the police were facing difficulties investigating Novel's attack. It was easier to apprehend terrorists than Novel's attackers because they left few traces behind, he said. (ebf)
Jakarta Novel Baswedan, a senior investigator of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), has stated that he will not back down despite the attack, which wounded his eyes.
"I am going to prove that the hopes of the people who want to stop my steps in eradicating corruption are in vain and useless," he said on Monday.
Novel said the accident would not weaken his determination to eradicate corruption. "This accident will boost my spirits instead."
Novel is currently undergoing treatment in Singapore to heal his eyes, which were wounded after a stranger threw acid at his face on April 11.
"The process to heal my eyes, particularly the left one needs more time because more stages of surgery are needed to return its function," he said.
KPK commissioner Laode Muhammad Syarif said the commission was ready to assist the police in investigating the attack. "The team from KPK is ready to accompany the team from them [police] to Singapore to meet Novel," he told The Jakarta Post. (kuk/ecn)
Margareth S. Aritonang and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta The Gerindra Party faction at the House of Representatives has withdrawn its support for an inquiry team set up to probe the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
Gerindra sent a letter on Monday signed by the faction's chairman, Ahmad Muzani, officially informing the House leadership that the faction had withdraw from the inquiry team as of July 24.
Gerindra executive Desmond Junaidi Mahesa confirmed the party's decision. He said the Gerindra Party faction's decision was prompted by the lack of a legal basis to establish the team.
"The [inquiry] team also arranged unexpected and immediate meetings," Desmond, who is the deputy chairman of House Commission III on legal affairs.
The lawmaker said the Gerindra faction had also opposed the inquiry team's move to interview graft convicts at Sukamiskin Penitentiary in West Java.
Besides Desmond, Gerindra lawmakers Andi Agtas, Muhammad Syafi'i and Wenny Warouw were also on the inquiry team. "As we have withdrawn our participation in the [inquiry] team, we will not be accountable for any decisions the team makes," Desmond asserted.
Gerindra made the decision only days after the party refused to be involved in a House plenary meeting held to make a final decision on crucial provisions of the election bill last week. Gerindra and three other parties the Democratic Party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the National Mandate Party (PAN) walked out the plenary meeting. (ebf)
Indonesia correspondent Samantha Hawley and Ake Prihantari Dozens of mosques across Indonesia are under surveillance for supporting the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, spreading its ideology and recruiting fighters to go to Syria.
The ABC can reveal 41 mosques across 16 Indonesian provinces have been implicated in research conducted on behalf of the Indonesian Government.
Of those, 16 mosques in seven provinces have been officially confirmed as supporting the IS group by a team of researchers who have, and continue to, secretly infiltrate the places of worship.
In an exclusive interview with the ABC, the head of the research team and Indonesian terrorism analyst Adhe Bhakti said Islamic boarding schools and Koran reading groups were also being used as places to preach the radical IS ideology. "We found different forms, different functions of the mosques," Mr Bhakti said.
"Some were purely used as a place to spread ideology, some were used as a place of consolidation, even the caretakers of the mosque would act as travel agents for those willing to go to Syria. They even raised funds for those who did not have the money to go, so they can depart for Syria."
For months, Mr Bhakti and his team have sat in mosques and Koran reading groups under the cover of being like-minded worshippers and documented the discussions and sermons.
"We are members of their Koran reading groups, we join their activities, we had interviews with congregations, so we obtained information in many ways," he said. "We observe it ourselves or through our sources and the interviews that we conducted."
Mr Bhakti said at times audio recordings of the radical teachings were captured but they could not be given to the ABC as they were the property of the Indonesian Government.
In February last year, the ABC exclusively filmed at the As-Syuhad mosque in central Jakarta as an Islamic State recruitment drive was underway.
It would be almost impossible for that to be replicated now, with the groups operating more secretively and sometimes from private homes, according to Mr Bhakti.
In the research he has identified three types of mosques:
"For radical groups meeting face to face is very important to them because they build their trust after they meet face to face," Mr Bhakti said. "They can't do that online, online they could be anybody."
In the city of Bogor, just 55 kilometres south of the capital Jakarta, the ABC travelled to the Ibnu Mas'ud mosque to question the radical teachings.
The mosque is one of the 16 confirmed as preaching the Islamic State ideology. Three of its workers were arrested in Singapore this year and deported home after allegedly trying to reach Syria.
"People can accuse us, but here we do not recruit or send people there [to Syria]," said the mosque's spokesman Jumadi, who goes by one name. Jumadi also runs the connected Islamic boarding school for up to 250 students.
"Go ahead, people can accuse us of anything connect us to anything because they all have vested interests," he said, allowing the ABC to walk through and film in the boarding school. "The local police chief came and checked out this place, we're just a regular boarding school."
But according to Mr Bhakti, the school is training future terrorists. And he is concerned that as the larger mosques are exposed, the groups are splintering using smaller less obvious prayer groups to spread the dangerous IS message.
At the Al Jihad mosque in the town of Bukittinggi in West Sumatra, the ABC had been told preaching has moved to a nearby home after the caretaker was arrested for sending people to Syria.
"They moved to smaller mosques or smaller Koran reading groups, which we call satellite mosques or satellite places," Mr Bhakti said. "So the number [of mosques] could be bigger."
On the weekend in Manado in north Sulawesi, Attorney-General George Brandis co-hosted a regional summit to discuss ways to counter the threat of returning foreign fighters from the Middle East and the Philippines.
The Senator said the sustained fighting in the southern Philippines city of Marawi posed an immediate threat to Indonesia and a more general threat to the region, including Australia.
"The conflict in Marawi reminds us in the most immediate possible way of the urgency and proximity of the threat that is face by all of us," Senator Brandis said.
In the past three months, Indonesian police have increased terrorism related arrests with more than 35 people detained.
One of those is Adi Jihadi, the brother of the Australian embassy bomber Iwan Darmawan, who is better known as Rois and is on death row in Nusakambangan prison. From behind bars Rois was instrumental in the planning the terrorist attack in central Jakarta in January 2016.
The ABC tracked down Adi Jihadi's wife in Teluk village in Banten, about a four-hour drive south-west of Jakarta. She denied any knowledge of her husband's terrorism plans.
"Initially I was shocked, of course, because usually I was with my husband every day and he would take me everywhere with him," 35-year-old Heni told the ABC.
"It's really hard but this is what the reality is and I must face it, I must be ready." Asked if she thought her husband was a terrorist like his brother, she said: "I don't think so."
Australia will take part in a new forum to discuss the mapping and tracking of terrorists in the South East Asia region.
The identities of foreign fighters and how they are moving across the South East Asia region will be the subject of a new forum, as ministers grapple with how to combat the growing "menace" of IS in the Philippines.
More than two months after it began, the battle for Marawi in Mindanao in the Philippines continues revealing the danger of it "as an ISIL object of ambition and potential base", Australian Attorney General George Brandis said on Saturday.
Mr Brandis, along with Indonesian security Minister Wiranto, met with representatives from six countries in Manado, North Sulawesi on Saturday. There they discussed a myriad of topics from deradicalisation efforts, legislation, border control and financing of terrorist networks.
Ministers have agreed to establish a Foreign Terrorist Fighters Strategic Forum that would "synchronise" efforts by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and "utilise and/or establish" databases on fighters and cross border movements.
The Australian Federal Police and the Indonesian National Police are also expected to co-host law enforcement talks next month, bringing together "key stakeholders" affected by IS.
It follows significant criticism by security experts, who said that the ability of IS militants to capture the southern Philippines city of Marawi and continue to hold it has revealed an intelligence failure.
Just how many Indonesians are involved in fighting in the Philippines remains unclear. Estimates have previously put the number at 20.
But according to the Law and Human Rights Ministry, 35 Indonesians have been linked to foreign terrorist fighters, with 14 people still involved in the conflict there.
The Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) has called for an integrated watch-list of extremists across the region, pointing out that many key fighters are still not on Interpol's Red Alert rollcall of wanted terrorists.
While Australia and Indonesia have spoken about their strong security ties and co-operation, there are "formidable political and institutional obstacles" in co-operation, IPAC has said.
These include "Philippine-Malaysian distrust" and a lack of correct information coming out of Manila. The forum is hoping to improve these ties, establishing a group of senior officials to continue reviewing the forum's achievements.
Ministers are also planning to engage with the newly created Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube, to ensure it "reflects the region's unique challenges".
Jewel Topsfield and Amilia Rosa, Medan In the dusty yard of an Islamic boarding school in North Sumatra, a group of excitable boys are telling us why they want to join the police force and the army when they grow up. "I want to be an army commander because I want to prevent narcotics, stop crime and catch terrorists," says Andika, a 13-year-old in a long mustard tunic and Muslim skullcap.
Under normal circumstances there would be nothing unusual about Andika's youthful boast, echoed by millions of children worldwide. But here, it is remarkable because Andika's father is a convicted terrorist. He is in jail over his role in the bloody 2010 Medan bank heist conducted to fund terrorism activities which left one police officer dead and two bank security officers wounded. Indonesia's counter-terrorism police unit Detachment 88 later killed three people implicated in the robbery and arrested another 15.
We are visiting Al-Hidayah, a school established near Medan for the children of terrorists, amid fears they, too, could become radicalised and determined to avenge their fathers. Police have now become the primary target of militants in Indonesia.
The school's founder, Khairul Ghazali, says terrorists' children are taught to hate the army and police. So the fact some of his students now say they want to be police officers or join the army is a measure of the success of Al-Hidayah's deradicalisation program.
"I have seen significant changes in them," says Ghazali, a softly spoken ustadz (religious teacher) and father of 10. We are talking in the school's serene green-walled office, donated by the Medan police chief. It is sparsely furnished, with a whirring fan and a posy of white flowers on the table. In the corner is a cluster of trophies and a book entitled Dakwah Entrepreneurship a la JK "dakwah" is a word for preaching Islam, "JK" is Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla.
"The kids are nicer here," 17-year-old Rizky Alfandi tells us. "The kids in my old school who were bigger than me were bullies. They would hit me and because their bodies were bigger I couldn't really fight back." Breaking News Alert
Stigma is a problem for the children of terrorists. But after coming to Al-Hidayah, Ghazali says, the students are no longer angry or moody. "They no longer hate the government, they no longer hold grudges. Most importantly they are forgetting the memory of how Detachment 88 tortured their parents. We managed to make them forget about that. It has reached the point where they believe what their parents did was wrong."
When Indonesia's National Counter-terrorism Agency (BNPT) chief Commissioner General Suhardi Alius heard about the school he offered to build a mosque and provide youth programs. He sees Al-Hidayah as a role model and hopes to open similar schools run by ex-terrorists in West Nusa Tenggara and Kalimantan.
"If children are not included [in deradicalisation programs] they will follow their parents' ideology," Suhardi says. "The proof is Imam Samudra's son."
Imam Samudra was executed in 2008 for his role in carrying out the 2002 Bali bombings. His eldest son was killed fighting for Islamic State in Syria seven years later. "He became more militant than his dad," Suhardi says.
The spectre of terrorism looms large in Indonesia amid fears that battle-hardened Indonesian militants who have fought in Syria and closer to home in Marawi in the Philippines will return to Indonesia.
According to Detachment 88 figures in May, there were 510 identified Indonesian Islamic State supporters in Syria and Iraq, including 113 females. A further 84 had been killed, more than 400 deported and 62 who went to Syria and had some connection with a militia group have returned home. Another 20 Indonesians are believed to be among the foreign fighters in the Philippines.
The May 2017 takeover of the southern Philippine city of Marawi by an alliance of pro-IS militants will have ramifications for the region long after the Philippines military retakes the city, according to a recent report by the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict.
"In Indonesia it has helped unite two feuding streams of the pro-[IS] movement, inspired 'lone wolf' attacks and caused soul searching among would-be terrorists about why they cannot manage to do anything as spectacular," the report says.
On Saturday, Australia and Indonesia will co-host a meeting with four other countries in the region on foreign fighters and cross-border terrorism. Indonesia will share its experiences combating terrorism using a "soft approach", including deradicalisation.
In the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, counter-terrorism forces in Indonesia and Australia forged a close relationship.
In February, the Australian government announced a second phase of the Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Justice. In the $37 million partnership, which will run from this year until 2021, Australia will work with Indonesian civil society organisations, including on prison reform and programs promoting religious tolerance and countering radicalisation.
Within days of being released from jail last year, one of the parents at Al-Hidayah tried to join IS in Syria. He was deported but that hasn't assuaged Ghazali's concerns. He says the eight terror attacks in Indonesia since the January 2016 blasts in Central Jakarta have all been linked to IS. Leaflets distributed in Jakarta and on social media have called on IS supporters in Indonesia to use Marawi as an example. "Indonesia is highly vulnerable to be used as an [IS] headquarters in Asia," he says.
When Ghazali talks to the 20 children of terrorists at Al-Hidayah about deradicalisation, he knows who to use as an example: himself. "In Islam, it is haram (forbidden) to commit a crime against anybody," he says. "Don't do what I did and your parents did and kill people."
On August 4, 2011, Ghazali was sentenced to six years' jail for his involvement in the armed bank robbery in Medan and a fatal attack on the Hamparan Perak police office. "I wasn't physically involved but I was the remote who controlled it," he says. He was found guilty of sheltering the terrorists in his home and receiving 2 million rupiah ($200).
Ghazali was just 17 when he joined Abdullah Sungkar, one of the founders of the Islamist terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, which was behind the Bali bombings. His family and whole community in Medan were members of Negara Islam Indonesia, also known as Darul Islam, a group that aimed to establish an Islamic state in Indonesia. (The Indonesian government officially recognises six religions Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism and its state ideology, Pancasila, enshrines pluralism and democracy.)
"At the time I wanted to go to Afghanistan to fight for Islam," Ghazali says. "It started when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and tried to convert Muslims into communism. It aroused a lot of sympathy in Indonesia because we wanted to protect our fellow Muslims."
Under the Suharto regime, Islamists were suppressed and so Ghazali fled overseas, first to Malaysia and then Thailand for 12 years, where he trained in weaponry and bomb making. When Suharto fell in 1998, Ghazali returned with the dream of Indonesia becoming an Islamic state.
He was involved in planning and recruiting for a string of terror attacks that shook Indonesia, beginning with the 2000 Christmas Eve church bombings that killed 18 people.
But after his arrest in 2010, Ghazali saw the suffering inflicted on the children of combatants: "They would drop out of school and become child labourers because the main family breadwinner was arrested or shot."
Ghazali watched his own children become angry and depressed. "In prison you can't do much other than think. I came to the realisation there was something wrong with what we considered jihad [just war]. Women and children even Muslims were also victims in the attacks. Destroying and killing was the wrong jihad."
Ghazali penned a book in prison called Mereka Bukan Thaghut (They are not evil). The "they" in the title refers to police and government officials.
Counter-terrorism expert Susan Sim writes that the response of the jihadist movement was swift and robust. Leading ideologue Aman Abdurrahman penned a rebuttal, also from prison, called Yaa... Mereka Memang Thaghut (Yes, they are indeed evil).
"Rehabilitated terrorists prepared to speak out against their former comrades and their acts of violence can add another wedge in the new deterrence," Sim writes in Analysing Different Dimensions and New Threats in Defence Against Terrorism. "Their perceived betrayal of the group can potentially destabilise it from within by undermining internal cohesion and trust. Captured terrorist leaders have a street cred that is hard to ignore, even when they abandon the cause."
Ghazali was branded a kafir (infidel) and put in isolation after receiving death threats. But he was determined that once released he would create something instead of destroying. "This is my form of jihad building the boarding school."
It's recess time and we are sitting cross-legged on a platform overlooking the fishponds and vegetable plantations that help bankroll the school. The students are an enthusiastic and affectionate bunch. Many wear Islamic tunics and peci (caps), others T-shirts. One, incongruously, has paired a T-shirt spruiking First Blood a hardcore band from San Francisco with a sarong.
They are peppering us with questions. What inventions come from Australia? How cold are the winters? What games do we play in Australia? They love soccer a barefooted pair kick a ball in the dust as we talk but have not heard of cricket.
It's our turn to ask a question. What do you think of terrorism/terrorists? (They are the same word in Indonesian.)
There is a chorus of "salah" ("wrong"). One student, who wants to be a police officer so he can make money to send his parents to Mecca, disagrees. Why? "What they did was target immorality, so it was not wrong."
We assume he is talking about the Bali bombings, although he does not say so explicitly. The others argue that terrorists may target immorality but there are many innocent victims too.
We ask Abdullah Azam al-Bara, who wants to be an ustadz (religious teacher), what he thinks. Azam, 14, was forced to drop out of school in third grade due to his family's financial problems while his father was in prison. He emphasises that terrorism is wrong but struggles to find the words to express it. "Wasn't your father a terrorist?" the other boys ask.
Azam denies this. In fact Azam's father is Jumirin, alias Sobirin. He was released just last year from Indonesia's equivalent of Alcatraz Nusakambangan after spending seven years behind bars for a number of terrorism-linked bank robberies.
Ghazali is not surprised when we tell him that Azam had denied his father was a terrorist. "To them, their father is not a terrorist, their father is a mujahid [one engaged in jihad]," he says. "If you had asked me before if I was a terrorist, I would have said I was a mujahid. Terrorist is a label put on you by the government."
Ghazali established the school using money from speaking engagements and the royalties from his four books, including "They are not evil". He used the skills once deployed to recruit people to Jemaah Islamiyah to recruit the children of terrorists to his Islamic boarding school.
"I persuaded parents that their children were not getting the education they needed," he says. "I told the children: 'Do not follow in the footsteps of your dad. This [attending school] is also a form of jihad'."
We ask Ghazali if he would still like Indonesia to become an Islamic country. "Yes," he replies. "But not by using terror."
Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta Members of the Ahmadiyah sect in Manislor village in Kuningan, West Java, on Monday reported the local administration to the Indonesian Ombudsman and the Home Ministry's Population and Civil Registration Agency (Dukcapil) for allegedly forcing Ahmadis in the village to abandon their faith.
It was the second time for Ahmadiyah followers in the village to file such a report.
Submitting their report with the Ombudsman in Jakarta on Monday, 15 members of Manislor's Ahmadiyah community said the Kuningan regency administration had insisted all Ahmadiyah followers in the village renounce their faith and convert to the "true teaching of Islam" if they wanted the government to issue IDs for them.
Syamsul Alam Agus, an activist from the Satu Keadilan Foundation (YSK), one of the human rights groups assisting Manislor's Ahmadis in their quest for justice, said the lack of administrative documents had hampered their rights to exercise civil rights and access social services.
"Without IDs, they, for example, cannot access BPJS [Healthcare and Social Security Agency] services and their marriages are unregistered. They cannot even go anywhere around the country by plane or train because we need ID to arrange travel by those modes of transportation," Syamsul told The Jakarta Post in Jakarta on Monday.
Ahmadiyah followers from Manislor would also be excluded from participating in the upcoming regional elections, as well as the 2019 legislative and presidential elections, he went on.
In June, the Ombudsman and Dukcapil urged the local administration to issue IDs to the Manislor Ahmadis but around 1,600 Ahmadis in the village have not yet obtained IDs. (ebf)
Jakarta Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Ma'ruf Amin has urged Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab to come home to Indonesia and face the legal case being brought against him.
Rizieq, who was named a suspect in a pornography case in May, is believed to be in Saudi Arabia and has been put on the police wanted list.
"The legal proceedings are ongoing and [Rizieq] should undergo the process. Hopefully, it can be settled well," Ma'ruf said at his home in Koja, North Jakarta, as quoted by kompas.com on Monday. He made the comment following a visit from the Jakarta Police chief earlier in the morning.
Rizieq was allegedly involved in a steamy WhatsApp chat with a woman named Firza Husein, who is also a suspect in the case. Rizieq failed to obey two police summons prior to his naming as a suspect. He has been charged under the 2008 Pornography Law, which carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison upon conviction.
Apart from the pornography case, Rizieq, who led two large rallies to demand the detainment of then Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on blasphemy charges, has also been implicated in other cases, such as for defaming the state ideology of Pancasila. (fac)
Jakarta Many Jakartans residing in rumah susun, or rusun (low-cost apartments), are apparently struggling to pay the rent, as data from the city's Public Housing and Government Buildings Agency shows that the total arrears amount to Rp 32 billion (US$1.95 million).
Meli Budiastuti, head of the counseling and community participation division at the agency, said that in June alone the arrears totaled Rp 26 billion.
"The figure is the total amount in 23 locations from January to June," she said at City Hall in Central Jakarta on Monday as quoted by kompas.com.
The agency head Agustino Darmawan said that most of the residents struggling to pay the rental fee because they had insufficient income and most of their earnings had to be spent to meet their daily needs.
"The amount of income and expenditures is almost equal, so they could not allocate any for saving. That's why many of them fail to pay the rental fees. However, we can't always accept that reason," he said.
He said that to reprimand the residents, the agency would send warning letters and would seal the units should they keep failing to meet their obligations. However, he was quick to add that compromises would be found for the elderly.
"We will consider their capability. If they have limitations or are already old, we will communicate with social institutions or Bazis [the Muslim Charitable Donations Board] to cover the fees. We can't just let the elderly go out from the rusun," Agustino said. (fac)
Jakarta The greater Jakarta area is overwhelmed by poor air quality, with high levels of health-deteriorating pollutants exceeding standards set by the World Health Organization, Greenpeace Indonesia said in a statement.
Greenpeace monitored air quality at 21 locations in Jakarta and the surrounding cities of Bogor, Tangerang, Depok and Bekasi between January and June. The results show that particle pollution, or fine inhalable particles with diameters 2.5 micrometers and smaller (PM 2.5), in those locations exceeded the 25 micrograms per cubic meter air (µg/m³) concentration standard set by WHO. An estimated 28 million people live in these areas.
The result of Greenpeace's study also exceeds the 65 µg/m³ limit set by Indonesia's National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
"This finding is also similar with the air monitoring done by the American Embassy in Jakarta," Greenpeace Indonesia campaigner Bondan Andriyani said on Sunday (30/07).
In Central Jakarta for instance, good quality air was only recorded on 20 days in the first half of this year, Bondan said.
The 21 locations that were monitored are in Permata Hijau, Antasari, Warung Buncit, Kebon Jeruk, Kedoya, Utan Kayu, Cilandak, H.R. Rasuna Said, Kebagusan, Cibubur and Setiabudi in Jakarta; Gandul, Kukusan and Citayam in Depok (West Java); Cikunir, Jatibening and Tambun in Bekasi (West Java); Jonggol, Kedung Halang and Parung in Bogor (West Java); and Ciledug in Tangerang (Banten).
According to the result of the Greenpeace study, the worst air quality was recorded at Cibubur at 106 µg/m³, followed by Warung Buncit at 97 µg/m³ and Gandul at 84 µg/m³. The best air quality was recorded in Jonggol at 47 µg/m³, which still exceeds the WHO standard.
By combining a risk analysis from Global Burden of Disease Project initiated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), and the estimated PM 2.5 in a full year, Greenpeace said it can measure death risks from certain diseases.
It said one of its calculations showed that the risk of death due to stroke in all 21 monitored locations had doubled due to higher concentrations of particle pollution. Greenpeace also suggests that the public may need to use masks or avoid the locations that are plagued by high pollutant levels.
In its statement on Sunday, Greenpeace called on the local government to push for policies that will prevent worsening air quality. It also criticized the procedures used by the Jakarta Environmental Agency for monitoring air quality, saying that it only does so in five locations; that it does not produce real-time data; and that it cannot measure particle pollution levels.
The nongovernmental organization said the Jakarta provincial government and local authorities have "to offer information and education about the dangers of air pollution to the public and establish cross-agency cooperation," to allow the public to breathe better air.
This is not the first time Greenpeace conducted an air quality study in the capital.
Jakarta Jakarta councillors decided to again stop deliberation of bylaws on Jakarta Bay reclamation on Wednesday. The two bylaws are on the North Jakarta coastal spatial plan and the zoning plan on coastal areas and small islands.
"In a meeting [early Wednesday], councillors decided to stick to our April 19 letter stating that deliberation must stop," said City Council deputy speaker Triwisaksana as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday.
He said the decision was made given that many parties, including the central government, were still examining the project. Furthermore, fishermen had challenged the reclamation's legal status, he added.
The councillors decided to stop deliberation last year following a bribery case implicating councillor Muhammad Sanusi and a reclamation developer. However, earlier this year, they agreed to resume discussions, saying the bylaws were needed by the public. (agn)
Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network) Indonesia's air traffic controllers have warned of the risk of aircraft collisions and accidents unless their workload is eased, as the country's main Soekarno-Hatta International Airport struggles to cope with the huge expansion in air travel.
The Indonesian Air Traffic Controllers Association (IATCA) complained on Wednesday about the decision by state-run air navigation company AirNav to regularly allow 84 take-offs and landings an hour at the airport, as occurred recently during the Hari Raya Puasa exodus last month.
"By allowing this, the chance of an accident will increase and air traffic controllers will be the ones who are blamed," Mr Andre Budi, deputy chairman of IATCA Jakarta, said.
The group said the 84 hourly take-offs and landings were beyond the airport's handling capacity, and claimed it also violates Transportation Ministerial Instruction No. 8/2016, which caps the use of the airport's runways at 74 aircraft per hour and four irregular flights for emergencies.
IATCA's revelations came amid a string of reports of near-collisions, with the latest occurring only last month.
AirNav confirmed that two aircraft came close to colliding with each other on the runway of Soekarno-Hatta on June 18, a week before the June 25 Muslim festival which is called Idul Fitri.
Air traffic controllers had to order a Garuda flight to abort its landing as there was still a Sriwijaya Air aircraft on the runway that had earlier aborted its take-off.
Last year, two Lion Air planes collided on the ground at Soekarno-Hatta airport. Fortunately, no injuries reported.
Soekarno-Hatta airport, located in Tangerang, Banten province, is one of the busiest airports in South-east Asia, serving more than 55 million passengers last year, with 1,200 flights per day.
Indonesia's aviation market has grown by double digits in the past 10 years following the appearance of several low-cost carriers that have made air transportation more affordable.
Indonesia received poor marks in a 2014 safety audit by the United Nations aviation agency due to insufficient staffing.
Mr Andre said that most air traffic controllers would require more training to handle the high traffic that had begun to build up since 10 days before the Idul Fitri holidays and which had yet to recede, even though the peak travel season had passed.
Mr Andre suspected the soaring traffic may be a result of airlines bending regulations to add more flights beyond their approved slots.
IATCA has lodged complaints with AirNav and the Directorate General for Aviation at the Transportation Ministry, but have yet to receive any response.
Mr Andre also accused AirNav of intimidating air traffic controllers by inviting military personnel to monitor their work last night. "We want the government to return to the pattern of 72 aircraft per hour to prevent accidents," Mr Andre said.
IATCA also suggested that the government provide more training to air traffic personnel and improve airport infrastructure.
AirNav corporate secretary Didiet K.S. Radityo, in his response, said there was no violation of regulations as the Transportation Ministry had updated its instruction in No. 16/2017, allowing 81 take-offs and landings effective from July 20.
"The increase was to accommodate demand from the airlines in line with the growing economy and tourism," he said. "Eighty-one aircraft per hour is the new maximum standard. But on average, the load usually stands at 74 to 75 per hour," he said.
Mr Didiet said the recent ministerial instruction had been adjusted to better serve flight schedules and to avoid congestion at the airport by distributing the flights away from the busiest times.
The instruction is also based on input from the Transportation Ministry's coordinating unit for flights slots, state airport operator Angkasa Pura, and a consulting firm for London's Heathrow Airport.
The adjustment to the traffic, Mr Didiet said, was not only designed to tackle the problem at Soekarno-Hatta airport, but also at the destination airports, as well as for ground-handling facilities.
AirNav denied the allegation of intimidation, saying the management's role was to protect air traffic controllers from security threats.
Aviation expert Samudra Sukardi said that aside from the need to provide more staff, AirNav's infrastructure was also in dire need of an upgrade.
Mr Samudra said that since its establishment in 2012, AirNav had seen frequent shake-ups in its management, indicating the company's human-resource capacity was insufficient.
Indonesia witnessed its last major civilian aircraft accident in 2014 when an AirAsia flight went down in the Java Sea, claiming the lives of all 162 people on board.
Jakarta National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian has said rice firms took too much profit from the unhusked rice they bought from farmers, who received subsidies to grow the crop.
"Around 56 million farmers get about Rp 60 trillion [US$4.49 billion] from the commodity, while the traders get Rp 130 trillion," Tito said at the State Palace, recently.
Last week, the police raided a rice warehouse in Bekasi, West Java, owned by PT Indo Beras Unggul (IBU), a producer of allegedly bogus premium-quality rice.
National Police Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) economic crimes chief Brig. Gen. Agung Setya said the company had bought unhusked rice from farmers for Rp 4,900 per kilogram.
It reportedly sold it as medium and premium rice at Rp 13,700 and Rp 20,400 per kilogram, respectively. Meanwhile, the retail price set by the government was Rp 9,500 per kilogram.
Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman said this year the government had allocated Rp 30 trillion for subsidized fertilizers and Rp 50 trillion to Rp 60 trillion for rice seeds and tractor purchases for farmers.
PT IBU spokesman Jo Tjong Seng said the government subsidized farmers so that they could increase their productivity, while his company bought rice from any farmer whether they were subsidized or not.
Tito stressed the government wanted the farmers to get more benefit from the crop, while traders were also allowed to get a fair margin from their business. "Even though it is justified by market mechanisms, the government still needs to intervene in the rice distribution," he said. (dis/bbn)
Jakarta PT Tiga Pilar Sejahtera, the parent company of PT Indo Beras Unggul (IBU), has denied any wrongdoing in the production of its premium rice despite a police investigation.
"We do not sell subsidized rice," said PT Tiga Pilar Sejahtera financial coordinator Sjambiri Lioe in Jakarta on Tuesday as reported by tempo.co. The company has been accused of passing off IR64 rice as premium rice.
PT IBU spokesman Jo Tjong Seng said rice of medium quality could be processed into premium rice. Jo explained that the government subsidized farmers so that they could increase their productivity, while the company bought rice from any farmer whether they were subsidized or not.
Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman said this year the government had allocated Rp 30 trillion (US$2.25 billion) for subsidized fertilizers and Rp 50 trillion to Rp 60 trillion for paddy seeds and tractor purchases for farmers. He added that farmers generally produced the IR64 paddy grain variety, which sold for about Rp 7,000 per kilogram.
National Police Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) economic crimes chief Brig. Gen. Agung Setya said the company had bought unhusked paddy from farmers for Rp 4,900 per kilogram.
The company reportedly sold it as medium and premium rice under the Maknyuss and Cap Ayam Jago brands at Rp 13,700 and Rp 20,400 per kilogram, respectively. Meanwhile, the IR64 retail price set by the government is Rp 9,500 per kilogram. (bbn)
Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta The Indonesian Ombudsman has concluded that there was "maladministration" in the execution of Nigerian Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke last year.
Ombudsman commissioner Ninik Rahayu told a Friday press briefing there had been "negligence and discrimination practiced by the Attorney General's Office and the Supreme Court" in relation to Eleweke, who was executed in Central Java on July 29 last year for drug crimes.
Ninik said the execution of Eleweke did not comply with regulations. The execution took place while the convict was seeking clemency, she said.
Indonesia's 2002 Law on Clemency stipulates that the execution of those seeking clemency cannot be carried out before the issuance of a presidential decree in relation to the appeal.
Another sign of maladministration, Ninik said, was that the Supreme Court was guilty of discrimination by rejecting a case review appeal filed by Eleweke without "a proper explanation."
Eleweke was one of four drug convicts executed on July 29 last year, along with fellow countryman Michael Titus Igweh, Indonesian Freddy Budiman and Senegalese Seck Osmane.
Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo said earlier this year that the government was mulling over carrying out a fourth batch of executions under the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. (ary)
Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's instruction last week to law enforcers to shoot drug traffickers to combat what he called a narcotics emergency facing the nation, has drawn sharp criticism from rights activists.
Some have suggested that the president should take his cues from more sources than only the country's all-powerful National Narcotics Agency (BNN) to formulate a more humane drug policy.
Usman Hamid, Indonesia country director for the United Kingdom-based rights group Amnesty International, likened Jokowi's "shoot-on-sight" order to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's alleged tactic in his war on drugs.
"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 on July 23.
National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian promised last year that Indonesia would not adopt Duterte's shoot-on-sight policy in dealing with drug offenders.
The policy is believed to have resulted in the extrajudicial killings of nearly 2,000 alleged drug dealers in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30 last year.
The Indonesian Drug Users Network (PKNI), a nongovernmental organization that fights the stigma and discrimination faced by victims of drug policies, said the government relies almost entirely on the views of whoever happens to be the BNN chief to formulate its drug policy, with mixed results.
"When the BNN was led by Comr. Gen. Anang Iskandar [from 2012 to 2015], he urged a massive national rehabilitation program for drug users," PKNI national coordinator Edo Nasution told the Jakarta Globe by email on Tuesday (25/07).
He said the rehabilitation-centered solution was implemented to reduce the health and social consequences of drug abuse. At least 100,000 users of illicit drugs were enrolled in the government's rehabilitation program between 2012 and 2016.
In late 2015, Chief Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso, a former chief of the National Police's detective division, took over as BNN chief. Since then Jokowi has preferred a drug policy that deals out repressive and punitive actions, Edo said.
Jokowi's shoot-on-sight order was the latest salvo in his "war on drugs," which includes the much-criticized executions of drug convicts including foreign nationals.
Jokowi's order came after police seized a ton of crystal methamphetamine the largest ever in the country's history worth Rp 1.5 trillion ($112 million) in Serang, Banten, on July 13. The narcotic, known in Indonesia as sabu, was smuggled from China.
Police arrested four Taiwanese men who allegedly intended to distribute the drug in the greater Jakarta area. One of the suspects was shot dead while resisting arrest.
Claudia Stoicescu, a doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford's Center for Evidence-Based Intervention, said crackdowns and executions of convicts for drug-related offenses have not provided Indonesians with any real benefits.
"In fact, more harm has been caused by Indonesia's severe drug policies than the drugs themselves," Claudia said in an article published by Al Jazeera on Wednesday.
She pointed out the number of drug-related offenses in Indonesia actually increased in the months after the executions in January and April 2015 of 18 people, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Dutch citizen Ang Kim Soei, Brazilian Marco Archer Cardoso Mareira and Indonesian Andriani, a.k.a. Melisa Aprilia, for drug trafficking, despite international protest.
Stoicescu said advocates and researchers have documented an increase in the use of "coercive measures, prison overcrowding, including raids by forced drug testing, law enforcement and compulsory detention."
"There was widespread extortion and breaches of confidentiality. Health facilities were compelled to disclose personal details and medical records of suspected drug users to the authorities, pushing drug users away from health services," she said.
"It also increased the price of heroin, driving users to unwittingly take tainted drugs, which increase the risk of overdose."
Edo of PKNI emphasized that a country's drug policy should be evidence-based and measurable, while adopting a public-health approach instead of a repressive and punitive approach.
It was civil society and the health sector that came up with the idea to set up an agency to solve Indonesia's drug problems in 1999, in response to the HIV epidemic.
Then-President B.J. Habibie responded by creating a national coordinating narcotics body. But when Megawati Sukarnoputri became president in 2002, she transformed the body into an armed agency, which became what is now the BNN.
Activists withdrew their participation in the BNN and organized their own response. Since then, they have been rolling out harm-reduction programs aimed at reducing the health consequences of drug abuse. "We should respect everyone's health and human rights, including drug users," Edo said.
Callistasia Anggun Wijaya and Agnes Anya, Jakarta The Jakarta Police officially welcomed Insp. Gen. Idham Azis as their new chief on Wednesday.
National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian swore in Idham, former internal affairs division head, to replace Insp. Gen. Mochammad Iriawan, who was promoted to be Tito's operations assistant.
"[...] I will obey all laws and carry out the duty entrusted to me with full dedication, awareness and responsibility," Azis declared in his oath on Wednesday morning at the National Police's headquarters in South Jakarta.
Tito also inaugurated Brig. Gen. Martuani Sormin as the new head of the internal affairs division, Insp. Gen. Unggung Cahyono as logistics assistant to the National Police chief and Brig. Gen. Rudolf Albert Rodja as the West Papua Police chief.
Haeril Halim and Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has told the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police (Polri) to put aside their egos and collaborate to address the challenges faced by the country.
Jokowi told hundreds of Military Academy and National Police Academy graduates that the country faced multidimensional challenges, including the deterioration of Pancasila state ideology values, a rise in violence, anarchy and terrorism and rampant drug smuggling.
Jokowi further said the military and the police could help the country face global challenges, such as border disputes, state conflicts, asymmetrical wars, energy reserve struggles, weaponry competition and the phenomenon of foreign terrorists.
"In facing these challenges, I remind TNI and the police to keep their synergy and work hand in hand for the sake of the [country's] interests. Eliminate sectoral ego and increase solidarity," Jokowi said in a speech during the inauguration of the 729 military and police personnel at the State Palace on Tuesday.
The President went on to tell the graduates that the inauguration ceremony was only the start of their careers to become military and police personnel who were expected to be loyal and devoted to the state, the nation and the people of Indonesia.
"Remember that all of you are the future of the TNI and Polri. You are going to shape and adopt bureaucratic reforms so that the TNI and Polri will always be able to counterbalance, or even precede the development of modern challenges," Jokowi said. (ebf)
Jakarta The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has said that gold and copper mining operator PT Freeport Indonesia had yet to obtain an extension to their operating permit.
Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry secretary general Teguh Pamudji said on Wednesday that the extension of Freeport's operating permit, which would expire in 2021, was still being negotiated by government officials and company representatives.
"The validity and legal basis of (Freeport's) mining operation after 2021 will be the IUPK, which [Freeport] has not agreed to until now," Teguh said in Jakarta as quoted by tribunnews.com on Thursday. Read also: Freeport to issue new shares to meet divestment requirement
The IUPK, or the special mining permit, is set to replace the contract of work (CoW) scheme signed in 1991 by PT Freeport, a subsidiary of the American mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Inc.
The extension would be granted if Freeport agreed to convert its contract from a CoW into the IUPK, said Teguh, adding that the company could apply to extend its operating permit until 2041, or by two decades. "Under Government Regulation No. 1/2017, IUPK holders are eligible for a permit extension of 2 x 10 years," he said.
Freeport Indonesia's corporate communications vice president Riza Pratama said an extension through 2041 would bee needed for the company to meet the requirements of the government regulation.
An IUPK requires the permit holder to construct a smelter, as well as to divest 51 percent of its shares to Indonesian entities. (bbn)
Jakarta Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Agus Hermanto opposed the government's plan to use the country's haj fund as a source of financing for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's infrastructure projects.
Agus, a politician from the Democratic Party, said that the law on the management of the haj fund had stipulated that it should only be used for projects aimed at improving services for pilgrims.
"The law has details on how the fund should be used and that it should only be aimed at improving services for pilgrims. We can use the fund for building dormitories for pilgrims, but not toll roads," Agus said as quoted by tempo.co on Monday.
Agus also said that the state budget had allocated money for infrastructure projects so the government could be more prudent in its spending. "We can also use funds from state-owned enterprises, investments, or private funding," Agus said.
The National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) proposed in January that the Finance Ministry should use the proceeds of the haj fund to finance infrastructure projects, or channel the funds toward infrastructure spending. (mtr)
Jakarta Indonesian Textile Association chairman Ade Sudrajat has said that the textile industry had to cut production in the first half of 2017 because of weak consumer purchasing power.
Many shopping centers reported weak sales during the recent Ramadhan and Idul Fitri holiday seasons, which usually see the year's peak sales for textile products.
"Several companies have been cutting their production since the first half," he said, as quoted by kontan.id, adding that the textile industry's electricity usage had declined by 20 percent in the first half of the year.
As part of efficiency measures, textile companies extended their Idul Fitri holiday period for employees to 20 days from two weeks, Ade added. He also recorded many companies had also postponed their expansion plans, pending the availability of growth in overseas markets.
Separately, the iron and steel industry had withheld sales, pending the materialization of the government's plan to cut the gas price to US$6 per million British thermal units (mmbtu), said Indonesian Iron and Steel Industry executive director Hidayat Tresiputro.
Meanwhile, state electricity company PLN recorded 1.17 percent increase in its electricity sales in the first half of 2017. (rdi/bbn)
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta The Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) has recorded that investment from China grew by 92.79 percent year-on-year (yoy) to US$1.96 billion in the first half of 2017.
Both the quantity and quality of Chinese investments has increased, said BKPM chairman Thomas Lembong on Wednesday, adding that in addition to their main investments in smelters and infrastructure, the Chinese investors had also started to invest in tourism.
He also stressed that investment from the country was not affected by anti-Chinese sentiment promulgated by certain groups of people.
"So far there has been no significant impact from the anti-Chinese sentiment. Along with investment in the smelter and infrastructure sectors, they are also entering labor intensive sectors like tourism," Thomas said during a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday.
With an investment value of $1.96 billion in the first half, China was Indonesia's third biggest foreign direct investor, behind Singapore with $3.66 billion and Japan with $2.85 billion. If combined with investment from Hong Kong, China's total investment reached $2.79 billion.
"The participation of the government in the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing last May was very useful to boost Chinese investment in the future," Lembong said.
Reports on social media have claimed there has been a large influx of Chinese laborers into the country. However, National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Ins. Gen. Budi Gunawan has stressed the reports are false. He said the rumors were spread by irresponsible people. (bbn)
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta The Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) has recorded that Java is still the main investment destination as investors remain reluctant to put their money into the country's other islands although infrastructure development is being intensified.
"In terms of value, the investment in the areas outside Java increased by 14.39 percent to Rp 155 trillion [US$11.62 billion] in the first half compared to Rp 135.5 trillion in the same period of 2016," BKPM's investment monitoring and realization deputy director Azhar Lubis said on Wednesday.
In the first half, 46 percent of Rp 336.7 trillion investment realization went to areas outside Java, while investment outside Java in the same period last year only accounted for 45.5 percent of the total investment in the country.
Meanwhile, investment in Java grew by 11.75 percent to Rp 181.7 trillion compared with Rp 162.6 trillion in the first half of 2016.
BKPM Chairman Thomas Lembong said mining- and plantation-related investment such as smelters had boosted the investment figure outside Java.
Meanwhile, commodity-based investment in Sumatra and Kalimantan reached Rp 54.6 trillion and Rp 36.2 trillion, respectively, said Azhar, adding that they were the second and third regions with the highest investment, accounting for 16.2 and 10.7 percent of the total investment, respectively.
"The smelter construction is a sizeable contributor. The construction of the smelters tends to be overwhelmingly in areas outside Java," Tom said. (bbn)
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta The World Bank is calling on Indonesia to improve its investment climate to lure more investment into infrastructure development.
World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim advised the government to provide a clearer calculation of risks and returns on investment. Furthermore, it should only offer project guarantees where necessary, so that they did not function as a subsidy.
"By using that principle, you can maximize the government's support, so you can distribute the budget to the other projects. Tools like the guarantee fund cannot be used as a way of subsidizing private-sector investment," Kim said at the Indonesia Infrastructure Finance Forum in Jakarta on Tuesday.
The leader of the Washington-based institution is on a two-day visit to Indonesia to discuss policy reforms with high-ranking officials, including President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani. The declared goal is to increase state revenue and spend it more efficiently.
Kim also advised the country to reduce privileges for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) over private firms to create healthy competition, cut red tape and further develop the capital market, which could provide long-term hedging for investors. (lnd)
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta The Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) says investment grew 12.7 percent to Rp 170.9 trillion (US$12.85 billion) in the second quarter of 2017 from the Rp 151.6 trillion in the same period last year.
"If it is calculated in dollars, investment grew 17.78 percent to $12.85 billion from $10.91 billion in the second quarter of 2016," BKPM chairman Thomas Lembong said in Jakarta on Wednesday.
"The investment figure in rupiah was understated because of the conversion effect due to a stronger rupiah. We used Rp 13,900 per dollar last year and now we use Rp 13,300 per dollar," Thomas said at a press conference at his office.
In the first half, total investment increased 12.95 percent year on year to Rp 336.7 trillion from Rp 298.1 trillion in the same period last year. It means the BKPM has met 49.6 percent its Rp 678.8 trillion target for 2017.
First half investment was boosted by investment in the steel and machinery sector that was realized in the second quarter. Automotive Giant Mitsubishi also inaugurated its Rp 7.5 trillion factory in April.
In July, Chinese manufacturer SAIC GM Wulling launched a US$700 million factory and Krakatau-Osaka Steel launched its $200 million joint factory. (bbn)
Singapore Indonesia hoped that Standard & Poor's upgrade of its rating to investment grade would entice foreign funds into its stock market. Instead, it is struggling to stem significant outflows.
Investors are cutting exposure to a market with one of the highest valuations in Asia, in favor of North Asia's cheaper, better-performing technology-exporting markets. An increase in earnings downgrades, a listless currency and slow progress on regulatory reform amid political uncertainty are also keeping investors at bay.
"As a market, Indonesia is quite expensive. And earnings growth has been a bit sluggish compared to some other markets," said Andrew Gillan, Asian portfolio manager at Janus Henderson Investors in Singapore. "And the politics haven't been as positive."
Investors' indifference to the ratings upgrade is a blow to the government's hopes to attract an additional $10 billion from pension funds and other institutional investors over the next two years.
Officials at the Indonesian Ministry of Finance and financial regulators did not respond to requests for comment.
In a classic case of "buy the rumor, sell the fact," inflows rose in the run-up to the rating change in May, but reversed as hedge funds that anticipated the upgrade took profits.
Foreigners sold $372 million in May and June, according to Thomson Reuters data. That compares with net inflows into almost every other major Asian market during that time except China and Malaysia, for which data is not yet available. Investors bought $1.7 billion of Indonesian stocks in the first four months of 2017, and $645 million in the same period a year ago.
Market participants remain skeptical that Indonesian shares have enough catalysts to outperform their regional counterparts, particularly as MSCI Indonesia has risen 3.7 percent since just before S&P's May 19 upgrade, about two-thirds of the gain of the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index.
Henderson's Asian Growth Fund, which Gillan manages, has a 2 percent exposure to Indonesia through only one stock, conglomerate Astra International.
Indonesian stocks are trading at 16 times forward earnings, a 36 percent premium to the long-term average, according to DataStream. In contrast, Korea is at 9.3 times and Taiwan at 14 times.
"Valuations are not very cheap right now. Investors will be waiting for the next catalysts, which are likely to be the second-quarter [economic growth] figures and second-quarter earnings," said Andre Varian, portfolio manager at BNI Asset Management.
However, earnings revisions for Indonesia, which were positive early this year, have now turned negative. Technology-exporting North Asian markets, on the other hand, have seen positive revisions.
"Tech companies are now the largest components of MSCI Asia, and people do tend to gravitate to that sector," said Jalil Rasheed, investment director, head of the Singapore office at Invesco.
"So when investors are putting money into those markets, it does mean that they're recycling capital from other parts."
Still, the fund manager remains overweight Indonesia in its Southeast Asia portfolio, on the strength of individual companies. Bank Central Asia, Telekomunikasi Indonesia and Astra International are among the Invesco ASEAN fund's top 10 holdings.
The Indonesian rupiah, whose strength would be a draw for investors, is only up about 1.2 percent this year against the US dollar, compared with the Taiwan dollar's 7 percent gain.
A drop in Chinese imports of thermal coal, which account for about a third of Indonesia's exports, is another headwind.
"We do not see any tightening in 2017," strategists at Jefferies, led by Sean Darby in Hong Kong, wrote in a July 6 note. "With commodities accounting for approximately one third of Indonesia's exports, the currency is not likely to find any renewed strength."
A resurgence of political risks including some militant attacks and worries about religious extremism as well as slow progress on the government's reform agenda, such as infrastructure development and cutting regulatory red tape, are also giving investors pause.
"Investors have been disappointed by the lack of progress on reform," said Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group at Franklin Templeton Investments, which has about 2 percent of global emerging market assets in Indonesia following a small reduction this year.
"It seems that the government has been overwhelmed by Muslim extremism, which has frightened international investors who worry about political instability."
Jakarta Finance Minister Sri Mulyani has announced that the rupiah redenomination bill would not be submitted to the House of Representatives for deliberation this year.
"I think this [redenomination] is good, but the government has not submitted the bill," said Sri Mulyani in Jakarta on Thursday as reported by kompas.com.
She made the announcement after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said that rupiah redenomination would not be implemented in the near future as the government needed to study the impact, consider its urgency and decide when to implement the policy.
Bank Indonesia Governor Agus Matowardojo revived the idea of rupiah redenomination, which was first floated in 2013. He stressed that this year was the best time to start the process, considering the condition of the economy.
Agus cited a number of economic parameters, including a 3.02 percent inflation rate and 5.02 economic growth rate last year, as well as a 5.01 percent economic growth rate in the first quarter of 2017. Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution supported Agus' suggestion.
Sri Mulyani argued that the government and the House were currently focused on the 2018 state budget bill. She added that many bills listed in the National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) also needed immediate attention.
"Let's have public discourse on redenomination, but the government has postponed the plan. I will focus on the 2018 state budget deliberation," she added.
Agus said deliberating the issue would not take much time because the bill consisted of only 17 articles. (bbn)
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta The House of Representatives approved into law on Thursday Government Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) 1/2017 on financial information, which allows tax officials to access bank accounts.
The law is the legal basis for Indonesia to follow the OECD initiated Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) in 2018.
"The approval of the Perppu into law will give confidence to the world that Indonesia is ready to follow the AEOI in 2018," Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said during the House's plenary meeting.
An article in the Perppu on the punishment for tax officials who leak taxpayer information was removed from the law because of disagreement in the previous deliberation by the Commission XI overseeing financial affairs.
Most lawmakers wanted the jail term to be at least five years, similar to the punishment in the Tax Amnesty Law, instead of one year as stipulated in the Perppu.
Sri Mulyani said the punishment would be discussed during the deliberation of the General Taxation Provision Law revision, which has already been included in the National Legislation Program (Prolegnas). (bbn)
And the witch-hunt begins. The threat of the dismissal of university lecturers accused of having links to Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) harks back to the 1960s witch-hunt against anyone associated with communists, along with similar crackdowns on "reds" across the United States.
With this new weapon, the new rule banning mass organizations deemed incompatible with the Pancasila state ideology, the government has banned HTI, which campaigns for a caliphate.
Recently, Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir said state-employed lecturers who were HTI members would be sent three written warnings, each valid for 30 days, to leave the organization or be fired.
Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said regional heads must identify any official with HTI links. Jakarta Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat suggested civil servants linked to HTI or similar groups should have their citizenship revoked.
Many of us cheer the government's firmness on HTI and like-minded groups who preach that a caliphate would solve all worldly problems.
No thanks, we prefer the option where no one can hide behind a God. But commitment to democracy faces a test with the instincts to crush HTI and its supporters.
Clearly, we haven't learned from history, when the state and the army, helped massively by the people egged on by religious figures, hunted down "reds" among students, educators, neighbors and even family members.
Hundreds of thousands were arbitrarily arrested and executed; others vanished. Their offspring remain stigmatized.
The role of campuses in the past witchhunt came to light after testimonies presented at the International People's Tribunal on the 1965 events last year at The Hague in the Netherlands, where several elderly exiles, including former students, have died.
As we have yet to resolve this ugly chapter, can we guarantee the traumatic events will not recur? True, we will not likely go around butchering people in the name of Pancasila.
Still, jumping on the witchhunt bandwagon is tempting, given the mad savagery of the Islamic State (IS) movement, which also appeals to Indonesians outside HTI. But with the possibility of HTI members going underground, a more effective option might be to strengthen our democracy and the critical thinking of our citizens.
Besides, crushing anyone today is futile. A Gadjah Mada University (UGM) lecturer who is on the list immediately expressed defiance, saying that his preaching would continue despite the ban.
The attraction will remain for simple solutions with little need to think, with blind trust in the authorities monopolizing interpretation of the law of God. Today's distress in facing growing extremism exposes us to similar yearnings for quick solutions.
However, what is needed is strong leadership in protecting all citizens. Law enforcers should no longer stand by as vigilantes intimidate anyone seen as infidels, just because leaders fear upsetting Islamists.
Critical citizens will not be fooled into defending God or the religious fervors of nationalism.
Andreas Harsono The official Ombudsman of Indonesia has accused both the Attorney General's Office (AGO) and the Supreme Court of "maladministration" in denying a Nigerian citizen, executed for drug trafficking in July 2016, his legal rights.
Ombudsman official Ninik Rahayu outlined a checklist of procedural failures that could have prevented Humphrey Jefferson's execution, including the Supreme Court's refusal to conduct a second review of his case, and the AGO's decision to proceed with the execution despite the fact that Jefferson had filed a clemency request with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
The denial of due process to Jefferson raises troubling questions about Jokowi's signature policy of executing convicted drug traffickers.
Indonesia ended a four-year unofficial moratorium on the death penalty in March 2013, and Jokowi has made the execution of convicted drug traffickers a prominent issue of his presidency. Jokowi has sought to justify the use of the death penalty on the basis that drug traffickers had "destroyed the future of the nation," despite international human rights obligations under which drug-related offenses are deemed as falling outside the scope of "most serious crimes," for which the death penalty can legitimately be retained.
In December 2014, he told students that the death penalty for convicted drug traffickers was an "important shock therapy" for anyone who violates Indonesia's drug laws. Since Jokowi took office in 2014, his government has executed 18 convicted drug traffickers in 2015 and 2016 the majority citizens of other countries. Jokowi has routinely rejected their government's calls for clemency, citing national sovereignty.
Even worse, on July 21 of this year, Jokowi indicated the police could skip due process entirely and summarily execute any foreign drug dealers who resist arrest. "Gun them down. Give no mercy," Jokowi urged police in a speech. National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian and Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso, the head of the National Narcotics Agency, have echoed similarly unlawful approaches to drug crimes modeled on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's unlawful and abusive "war on drugs."
Jokowi and senior police officials should recognize that the cruel and unusual punishment of the death penalty and the barbarity of extrajudicial killings have no place in a rights-respecting country. Instead, Indonesia should restore the unofficial moratorium on the death penalty and ensure the rights of criminal suspects, including those implicated in drug crimes, are respected rather than steamrolled.
Gustav Brown Many have cast the recent Jakarta gubernatorial election as a defeat for religious pluralism at the hands of political Islam, a movement which appears more potent and visible than at any time since Indonesia's transition to democracy.
The "rising radicalism" frame, others suggest, obscures the real contest going on behind the scenes in Indonesian politics.
This contest pits President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) against the coalition of political insiders, tycoons and New Order figures that backed his 2014 presidential rival Prabowo Subianto. While not advocates of political Islam, these forces are prepared to mobilise political Islam in order to weaken Jokowi and set the stage for a return to power in 2019. What appears to be the emergence of a new religious politics in Indonesia is in reality the re-emergence of an old power apparatus that of the New Order deep state.
This was not the only echo of the New Order that reverberated through the election. Earlier in 2017, the National Police arrested Gatot Saptono otherwise known as Muhammad Al-Khaththath and four others on suspicion of makar, which is a term that denotes "treason" or "subversion" against the state. The arrests came in advance of a planned series of rallies in five Indonesian cities.
Many interpreted the move as a message to Islamic hardliners. But the police also claimed to have found a "revolutionary document" outlining plans to ram the gates of the Presidential Palace and occupy the building, as well as evidence that the conspirators had discussed how to bankroll their coup d'etat.
This was the second accusation of makar made during this election cycle. In late 2016, authorities arrested another group on suspicion of makar. That group that included Rachmawati Soekarnoputri (the daughter of one former president and sister of another) and rock star Ahmad Dhani. Soekarnoputri denied the charges and called them politically motivated.
The charge of makar has a long and complex history in Indonesia. Articles 104 to 117 of the Indonesian penal code, which outline the crime, are remnants from the laws of the Netherlands Indies. The colonial state designed these statutes to repress nationalist, Islamic and regional opposition to its rule over the archipelago.
Under former president Sukarno, makar was used primarily in response to the separatists and revolutionaries who threatened the territorial integrity and political legitimacy of the new state.
His successor, Suharto, came to power after dislodging an apparent coup d'etat by a group of leftist military officers likely tied to the leadership of the Indonesian Communist Party. The anti-communist purges that ensued were justified by allegations of makar, as were forced relocations and other repressive measures taken during the military occupation of East Timor.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the Suharto regime also deployed allegations of makar to justify repressive measures taken against conservative Muslim and pro-democracy activists.
Since democracy was put in place in 1998, arrests for makar have largely been contained to the separatist conflicts in Aceh and Papua, as well as to national counter-terrorism efforts.
The recent allegations were notable precisely because they were so unusual. This may simply reflect the charged political moment, or a newfound willingness among opponents of the regime to circumvent the electoral process. Al-Khaththath and Soekarnoputri are certainly on record opposing ex-Governor Basuki "Ahok" Purnama and his patron, Jokowi. Whether they intended to do so using legal or extra-legal means is a matter for Indonesian courts to decide.
Putting questions of guilt or innocence aside, there is a conceptual link between makar and the charges of blasphemy that were levelled at Ahok. In the Indonesian legal context, blasphemy is framed as a violation of the authority of religious leaders, the integrity of the religious community and the sanctity of religious teachings. So in a sense, makar is tantamount to blasphemy against the nation-state, a challenge to the authority, integrity and sanctity of Indonesia and its national ideology, Pancasila.
The Pancasila state is by no means secular, but neither is it Islamic. Rather, it is a religiously pluralistic state animated by "godly nationalism", a mutual assistance pact between the state and the orthodox representatives of the religious communities it recognises, which includes both Islam and Christianity.
If the charges of blasphemy against Ahok were like a sword thrust at that pact, then the charges of makar served to parry that sword. With political tensions set to rise on the approach to the presidential elections in 2019, it may not be the last we see of either.
Rifqi Assegaf In late April 2017, the House of Representatives (DPR) stared down protests from the public and some of its own members and launched a special inquiry into the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
The inquiry is based on the constitutional right of the DPR to investigate government affairs, known as hak angket. It was triggered by former Hanura lawmaker Miryam Haryani's claim that KPK investigators forced her to confess that she had distributed funds to other legislators in the massive electronic identity card (e-KTP) graft scandal, which caused state losses of Rp 2.3 trillion (AU$218 million).
The DPR committee leading the inquiry has said that it aims to investigate complaints about how the KPK conducts its investigations, the KPK's internal governance (including the leaking of classified information, allegations of internal conflict and budget mismanagement), and its apparent failure to strengthen the work of police and prosecutors. But it is widely believed that the real intention of the inquiry is to intervene in, or at least distract from, the KPK's investigation into the e-KTP case, and weaken the commission more broadly.
The legality of the establishment of the inquiry committee has been questioned by scholars. The Association of Constitutional and Administration Law Lecturers, for example, claims that it is flawed in its subject, object and procedure.
On the issue of the inquiry's subject (the KPK), Article 79(3) of Law 17 of 2014 on Legislative Bodies states that the right of inquiry is the right of the DPR:
"to investigate the implementation of a law and/or government policy relating to matters that are important, strategic and have broad-based impacts on the life of society, the nation and state, which are suspected to contravene laws and regulations."
The term "government", according to the elucidation (or explanatory memorandum) to the law, refers only to the president, vice president, ministers, military commander, chief of police, attorney general, or heads of non-ministerial government agencies. These agencies are institutions under the president and are responsible to him or her through the ministers who coordinate them (see Article 25(2) of Law 39 of 2008 on State Ministries). They include the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), the State Narcotics Agency (BNN), the National Land Agency (BPN), the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) and many others. The KPK, an independent institution with no obligation to report to, or coordinate with, a particular minister, does not fall under the jurisdiction of the DPR's right of inquiry.
Likewise, the object of the right of inquiry should be limited to matters that are "important, strategic and have broad-based impacts on the life of society, the nation and state". Arguably, the issues that the inquiry seeks to address, particularly Miryam's confession, do not to meet these stringent criteria. By contrast, the 2009 inquiry into the fuel price increase or even the unsuccessful inquiry attempts into the misuse of Bank Indonesia Liquidity Assistance (BLBI) bailout funds during the 1998 financial crisis or the 2011 tax mafia scandal are much easier to justify on these grounds.
The procedure for establishing the inquiry committee itself was also questionable. DPR Deputy Speaker Fahri Hamza, who has always been very critical of the KPK, simply proclaimed the establishment of the inquiry committee after relatively short hearing, despite the fact that many lawmakers did not agree with the proposal and some even walked out in protest. The decision was made without consensus or a vote, in violation of Article 199(3) of the Law on Legislative Bodies, which states that such a proposal should be considered in a plenary meeting involving at least half of all DPR members, and must have the approval of at least half of them to go ahead.
There is also a serious conflict of interest problem the head and several members of the inquiry committee, Agun Gunandjar Sudarsa, Bambang Soesatyo, Desmond Junaidi Mahesa and Masinton Pasaribu, were reportedly among a group of lawmakers who pressured Miryam to withdraw her confession to the KPK.
This inquiry is not the first attempt to curtail the KPK's powers. Since it was established in 2003, there have been more than a dozen major attempts to kill off the anti-corruption body. These have been led by various individuals and groups, and have involved different strategies, including attempts to amend the KPK Law (Law 30 of 2002), criminalisation of KPK members and supporters, and physical attacks on KPK leaders and investigators, as well as other attempts to destabilise the organisation.
The DPR's multiple attempts to revise the KPK law have aimed at curtailing its powers (such as the power to conduct independent surveillance and prosecution), and converting it into a non-permanent institution. There have been more than 15 attempts to challenge articles in the KPK Law at the Constitutional Court, none of which have been successful. At different times, the DPR has also postponed the appointment of KPK chairs and refused to allocate state funds needed to for construction of the new KPK building.
Notoriously, the police have openly attacked the KPK on several occasions, criminalising its chairs and investigators when the KPK pursued high ranking police officers. Rumours also suggests police were behind the acid attack on Novel Baswedan a KPK investigator who played a crucial role in investigating the e-KTP scandal and other high profile cases.
The ultimate impact of the inquiry process beyond being an unnecessary distraction remains unclear. What is clear, however, is that the committee will try to expose any weaknesses in the KPK and its investigation into the e-KPK case.
For example, the committee has asked the KPK to provide it with a recording of Miryam's interrogation and confession and hopes to bring her before a committee hearing. The committee also visited individuals and institutions who it says are "victims" of KPK investigations and prosecutions, such as corruption convicts and the BPK (Supreme Audit Agency), to gather complaints.
It is highly likely that allegations of misconduct by KPK officials will be reported to police, and we will see another round of conflict between the institution and the police. There will no doubt be renewed attempts to amend the KPK Law, or even abolish the institution.
Whatever the result, the DPR will need support from the executive, which seems not to be forthcoming. Unlike past episodes, when the police have been in the forefront of attacks on the KPK, the police chief has so far kept his distance, stating that the police would not forcibly take Miryam from KPK detention to attend a committee hearing. Presidential Spokesperson Johan Budi, meanwhile, said that Joko Widodo would not support any recommendations from the committee to weaken the KPK.
Desperately needed at this point is stronger civil society support for the KPK and pressure on the president to maintain his position. As past attacks on the KPK have shown, civil society pressure will be critical to ensuring that Indonesian democracy is not hijacked by elites who have only their own interests in mind.
Julia Suryakusuma, Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network) We Indonesians pride ourselves on being a nation of plenty.
From elementary to high school, our textbooks depict how wondrously beautiful, lush and fertile our nation is. It is obviously a source of national pride. The Javanese have a saying for it: gemah ripah loh jinawi.
Unfortunately, this saying is fraught with ironies, manifested in Indonesia's ills as a nation. Unemployment forces 6.5 million people 85 per cent of whom are women to work abroad. There is an ever-widening income disparity. The wealthiest 1 per cent of the population comprise nearly half of total national wealth while over 28 million people, almost 11 per cent of the population, live below the poverty line.
So why are food prices in Indonesia so high, especially compared with neighbouring countries?
The Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) publishes a monthly household index, the Indeks Bulanan Rumah Tangga (Indeks Bu RT), comparing the prices of basic commodities in middle and high income neighbouring countries.
According to the June index, shallots at 42,000 rupiah (S$4.29) are more expensive in Indonesia than in New Zealand (S$3.93), Australia (S$2.06), Singapore (S$1.87), the Philippines (S$1.84), Thailand (S$1.16), Malaysia (S$0.31) and India (S$0.26).
I was in Malaysia recently. I should have filled my suitcase with a ton of shallots and sold them in Indonesia. It is almost 14 times more expensive here I would have made a killing.
Even the price of rice is higher than in Singapore, India, Malaysia and Thailand. In Indonesia, the Indeks Bu RT puts it at 11,000 rupiah while in Thailand, it stands at 5,398 rupiah.
CIPS calculated that because of these high prices, Indonesian households spend 564,500 rupiah more per month on some sembako (excluding kerosene, LPG, liquefied pretroleum gas and some other items) than their counterparts in neighbouring countries.
Sembako is the abbreviation of sembilan bahan pokok (nine basic commodities): rice, sago and corn; sugar; vegetables and fruit; beef, chicken and fish; cooking oil and margarine; milk; eggs; kerosene or LPG; and iodised salt.
The reasons for these high prices are incredibly complex: the length of the distribution chain, the role of the middlemen, the existence of food cartels, the proliferation of illegal levies, patterns of planting and harvesting, smuggling, a national agricultural policy that does not favour farmers, weather conditions, pests, declining availability of arable agricultural land due to conversion (for example, for industrial purposes) and a decline in the number of farmers.
Between 2003 and 2013, around five million farmers changed professions because of low earnings. Shallots, for example, cost 42,000 rupiah but the farmers get a fraction of this.
In 2017, there was a time when they only received 2,000 rupiah for 1kg of onions. This is certainly a reason to cry and not because the farmers were chopping the onions.
Winarno Tohir, head of Kontak Tani Nelayan Andalan (National Outstanding Farmers and Fishermen Association), estimated in 2016 that, in 12 years, Indonesia would lose 14 million farmers. Well, if they keep getting the raw end of the deal, why would they want to commit to a profession that gives them insufficient returns to living a decent life?
About 80 per cent of Indonesians eat rice as a staple. Obviously, the ratio between earnings and expenditure on rice differs widely. With the high rice price, low-income groups could be spending a major part of their earnings on rice alone.
How do you reduce prices? Well, by increasing supply to meet demand. If you cannot increase the supply by producing it yourself, then get it elsewhere. Rice, for example, produced in Indonesia costs around two and a half times more (4,079 rupiah per kilogram) compared with Thailand (1,619 rupiah per kg).
Food is a political and populist issue and it is related to national pride. The government has not been entirely successful in the measures it has introduced to attain food self-sufficiency. The last time Indonesia enjoyed rice self-sufficiency was in 1984. Then President Soeharto delivered a speech announcing the achievement at the 40th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome.
But, up to now, we have not returned to such a state because of insurmountable obstacles. So at what price do we want to attain it again?
The team at CIPS is of the opinion that Indonesia should engage in food trade liberalisation to provide sufficient food to the people, thus allowing for the engagement in more productive activities.
It is like me trying to make my own gado-gado (mixed cooked vegetables with peanut sauce) one of my favourite dishes. I love to cook, but this one dish I usually buy at Mang Budy's, my local gado-gado vendor who sells it from his wooden push-cart. It costs a mere 10,000 rupiah.
If I made it from scratch, it would take me hours just to produce one dish, which would not even taste as good as Mang Budy's. Imagine the opportunity cost for my creative time as a writer if I spent two to three hours making gado-gado for myself. What a waste.
CIPS' proposal for food trade liberalisation would go against the grain of our national food self-sufficiency pride, but it is worth looking into.
Lucky for us, CIPS is offering a massive open online course (MOOC) on food trade from July 26 to Sept. 26. This will enable us to understand the issues in a rational way. The topics discussed will include agriculture in Indonesia, regional value chains, the political-economy of agriculture in Indonesia and domestic consumption.
The course is intended for laypersons, whether students, policymakers or business people in short, anyone without a background in economics, trade or agriculture, interested in the issue of food trade. That would include me. I'm in, especially since the course takes only two hours a week and can be downloaded on your device for free.
We have another saying in Indonesia that is the opposite of gemah ripah loh jinawi: seperti ayam mati di lumbung padi (like chickens dying in a rice barn). This speaks to the fate of too many poor people, including farmers, in Indonesia.
Let us gain more knowledge and become wiser so that we can at least get closer to the state of gemah ripah loh jinawi and not end up like hungry chickens when, in fact, resources abound.