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Indonesia News Digest 1 – January 1-8, 2018

West Papua Aceh Human rights & justice Criminalisation & political violence Sexual & domestic violence Political parties & elections Sharia & discriminatory by-laws Surveys & opinion polls Environment & natural disasters Health & education LBGT & same-sex marriage Corruption & abuse of power Terrorism & religious extremism Poverty & social inequity Retail & service industry Transport & communication Mysticism & the supernatural Armed forces & defense National security & intelligence Foreign affairs & trade Tourism & hospitality Mining & energy Infrastructure & development Economy & investment Taxation & state budget Focus Analysis & opinion

West Papua

A former political prisoner's fragile freedom in Indonesia

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - January 8, 2018

Andreas Harsono – Last week an activist famous in Indonesia for peacefully advocating for the independence of the country's Papua and West Papua provinces, Filep Karma, briefly became a political prisoner. Again.

This time around, Karma, who always wears the Morning Star symbol of West Papua independence on his shirt, was detained by a uniformed Indonesian Armed Forces officer after disembarking at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

What ensued was a 90-minute arbitrary detention in which seven Air Force officers, including one bearing a semi-automatic rifle, interrogated Karma about the symbol on his shirt. The officers insisted Karma remove that symbol from his clothing and asked if he was a member of the armed separatist Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka or OPM).

According to Karma, throughout the interrogation, the officers verbally abused him, calling him "scoundrel," "monkey," and "moron." They subsequently transferred Karma to the custody of airport police who released him without charge.

Karma, who spent 11 years behind bars after being convicted in 2005 of makar – rebellion or treason – for publicly raising the Morning Star flag, is no stranger to abuse at the hands of Indonesian authorities. In November 2011, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared him a political prisoner and demanded that the Indonesian government release him, "immediately and unconditionally." The authorities only released him in November 2015.

Karma is just one of many Indonesians targeted under articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code, which imposes multi-decade prison terms on peaceful protesters advocating independence or other peaceful political change. Many such arrests and prosecutions are of activists who raise banned symbols, such as the Papuan Morning Star or the South Moluccan RMS flags. (Human Rights Watch takes no position on whether Papua should be independent, but we oppose the imprisonment of people who peacefully express support for self-determination.)

Karma's experience last week was an unwelcome reminder that his freedom remains at risk so long as rights-violating laws are on the books, and that there are Indonesian officials who would rather call him a "monkey" than respect his right to free expression.

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/01/08/former-political-prisoners-fragile-freedom-indonesia

Jailed West Papuan gets trial date after 6 months in prison

Radio New Zealand International - January 8, 2018

A West Papua independence campaigner, held for over six months without charges, is due in court tomorrow.

Yanto Awerkion was arrested on 23 June last year because of his involvement with a petition calling for independence from Indonesia. He is due to face charges of treason, and if convicted could be sentenced up to 15 years in prison.

The exiled West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda is calling for Mr Awerkion's "unconditional and immediate release" and for better scrutiny from the international community.

The former New Zealand Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty said supporting a petition to talk about a referendum for West Papuans was not treasonous.

"This young man is a symbol of the abuse of power and the state sanctioned colonisation and most people don't even know about it and don't know where it is."

Yanto Awerkion's trial is due to take place in Timika, in Indonesia's Papua Province.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/347676/jailed-west-papuan-gets-trial-date-after-6-months-in-prison

Shooting incident in Papua province

Radio New Zealand International - January 6, 2018

Since the latter part of 2017, fighters with the West Papuan Liberation Army, or TPN, have intensified hostilities with Indonesia's military and police in Tembagapura and its surrounding region in Papua's Highlands.

There's been another shooting incident on the road to the Freeport mine in remote Tembagapura region of Indonesia's Papua province. This comes as a stand-off between West Papuan liberation fighters and Indonesian military forces continued into the new year in Tembagapura.

Reports from Papua indicate the shooting on Monday was directed at a convoy of vehicles linked to the lucrative mine at Grasberg, operated by US-based company Freeport.

The Papua Police Chief Inspector General Boy Rafli Amar told Indonesian media there were no casualties in the gunfire and that the shooters immediately fled to the surrounding bush after the incident.

Sporadic shootings at Freeport vehicles or security forces along the 125-kilometre road to the mine in the past fifteen years have left dozens of people killed and hundreds injured. However there's been a surge in shootings in the past three months.

There has also been an intensifying of the type of hostilities between Indonesian security forces and Papuan independence fighters that has simmered since the incorporation of the former Dutch New Guinea into Indonesia in the 1960s.

Since the second half of last year, fighters with the West Papuan Liberation Army, or TPN, have been in a rolling combat with Indonesia's military, the TNI, and police in Tembagapura and surrounding region.

In recent days, reports from Papua indicate the fighting has spread to Nduga regency where two TNI personnel were killed last month, prompting reprisal attacks which left two civilians dead and a church burnt.

The TPN said that as well as independence, its goal was to close the Freeport mine, which is one of the largest sources of revenue for the Indonesian state.

Last year, police claimed the TPN was targetting civilians in its military campaign. However, the TPN has denied this. According to sources linked to the TPN, it has recently proposed establishing demarcated areas for fighting in order to protect civilians.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/347563/shooting-incident-in-papua-province

Morning Star badge embroils West Papuan activist

Radio New Zealand International - January 5, 2018

A former West Papuan political prisoner has been interrogated by Indonesian security forces for wearing the Papua Morning Star symbol.

Filep Karma, the most prominent pro-independence Papuan to have been incarcerated in Indonesia, was held up for questioning by military and police officers at Jakarta's main airport.

It's two years since Filep Karma was released from prison after serving 11 years for treason for raising the banned Papuan nationalist flag, the Morning Star. Flying in to Sukarno Hatta airport from Yogyakarta, Mr Karma caught the attention of a military, or TNI, officer due to the customary Morning Star badge he wears on his shirt. He was taken in for questioning by the airport police squad, and interrogated about his activities.

While the national constitution allows citizens to express cultural identity, Indonesian authorities take a dim view of Papuans expressing aspirations for independence.

Mr Karma denied he was breaking the law by wearing a small symbol on his shirt. He said the security officers tried to link him to armed elements of the Free West Papua movement, or OPM, but his credentials as a peaceful advocate for independence are well established.

At the time of Mr Karma's release from Papua's Abepura prison Indonesia's Political, Law and Security Minister, Luhut Pandjaitan, said the Papuan had been wrongly convicted of treason, or makar, which implies inciting armed revolt. He had served 11 years of the 15-year sentence.

This week, security forces took Mr Karma in again briefly. Released after almost three hours of questioning, Mr Karma revealed that officers had become aggressive to him, calling him a monkey.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/347492/morning-star-badge-embroils-west-papuan-activist

PDI-P, Gerindra must partner to hinder nomination of Papua governor: Expert

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2018

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura, Papua – The two parties with the highest number of seats in the Papua Legislative Council (DPRD) – namely the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Gerindra Party – must form a coalition if they want to hinder the nomination of Papua incumbents Lukas Enembe and Klemen Tinal in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

Currently, the Lukas-Klemen ticket is supported by 10 parties, which control 43 out of 56 seats in the DPRD Papua. The PDI-P has seven seats and Gerindra six.

"I'm sure these two parties will form a coalition for the Papua gubernatorial election because they are fully aware that the upcoming regional election in the province is not only an event to elect a governor and deputy governor, but also a battle to maintain Papua as part of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia [NKRI]," said Marinus Yaung, a political expert from the University of Cenderawasih, on Wednesday.

He said the PDI-P and Gerindra doubted the commitment of the current Papuan leaders to maintain Papua as part of the NKRI. That was why the two parties are striving to nominate a candidate with a strong commitment to maintain the solidity of the NKRI, Marinus added.

"It is even possible that several parties, which have previously backed the incumbent pair, will withdraw their support."

Earlier, Ones Pahabol, the former Yahukimo regent, declared his nomination for the 2018 election with Yoram Mambay as his running mate. He has not yet revealed the parties supporting his candidacy. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/03/pdi-p-gerindra-must-partner-to-hinder-nomination-of-papua-governor-expert.html

Papuan activist Filep Karma held by airport police, interrogated and called a

KBR - January 3, 2018

Jakarta – Former political prisoner and Papuan pro-independent activist Filep Karma was intercepted by five Air Force officers upon arriving at the Soekarno-Hatta airport in Cengkarang.

The incident occurred at around 9pm on Tuesday January 3 after he had picked up his baggage. Karma had just arrived from the Central Java city of Yogyakarta by Lion Air and was about to exit through Arrival Gate A.

After being intercepted, the Air Force officers took Karma to a room where one of the Air Force officers pointed to a small pin that Karma was wearing on his chest with a picture of the Morning Star independence flag.

"I was asked all kinds of things. 'This is the OPM [Free Papua Movement] flag isn't it?, he asked. I answered, 'No. It's just a symbol. Based on the 1945 Constitution a flag is made from cloth measuring 1x2 metres. It's not a flag'", Karma told KBR by phone on Wednesday January 3.

Feeling that he had done nothing wrong, he then tried to explain himself saying that he was a former political prisoner who had been incarcerated in jail for 12 years.

Karma also quoted the words of former Coordinating Minister for Politics, Security and Legal Affairs, Luhut Panjaitan, who gave him a guarantee when he was released from jail in November 2015.

Karma told them, "I got a guarantee from Luhut Panjaitan, if Filep Karma wants to shout about things he's free to do so. He struggles peacefully, he doesn't carry bombs. But they didn't believe me".

Annoyed because Karma continued to protest and reject the accusations thrown at him, the Air Force officers became angry. One of the officers snapped at Karma hitting the table and abusing him.

"I was called a 'monkey'. Okay I said, 'Thank you Sir for the insult that was just made'", related Karma.

Karma said that he was interrogated by the Air Force officers for almost two hours. After the interrogation, he was taken by police to the Soekarno-Hatta airport police station in Tangerang to fill out a police investigation report (BAP).

In the middle of making out the BAP, an activist from Civil Liberty Defender, Uchok Sigit Prayogi, arrived to assist Karma. Prayogi questioned police about the grounds for making the BAP and in the end the police stopped the process.

"The detective unit chief wasn't able to answer Uchok's questions because he only received the request from the AURI [Air Force]. Eventually I was released and went home", explained Karma, who was released at 12.30am.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Dicegat TNI di Bandara Soekarno-Hatta, Filep Karma Diinterogasi dan Dipanggil 'Monyet'".]

Source: http://kbr.id/berita/nasional/01-2018/dicegat_tni_di_bandara_soekarno_hatta__filep_karma_diinterogasi_dan_dipanggil__monyet_/94285.html

Amole police engage in shootout with armed criminals in Papua

Tempo - January 1, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – The Amole police engaged in a shootout with armed criminals at mile 61 in Tembagapura, Mimika District, Papua Province.

The shootout occurred at 7:50 a.m. local time, Chief of the Papua Provincial Police Inspector General Boy Rafli stated on Monday. No casualty was reported in the shootout, as the armed criminals fled to the jungle.

Prior to the shootout, the armed criminals shot at two PT Freeport vehicles carrying officers. They hit the cars' front and right windows. The attackers were members of the Waker group, according to Rafli.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/01/055914492/Amole-Police-Engage-in-Shootout-with-Armed-Criminals-in-Papua

Aceh

Aceh still practices punishment with shackles

Tempo - January 7, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – In this day of age, punishment with shackles still exists. Social Worker Association (IPSM) recently found such a practice in Aceh province.

Fauzi Murtala (27), a resident of Baktiya district, North Aceh Regency, suffered a mental disorder in a devastating condition in which he was put in shackles and alienated.

"Fauzi was put in shackles and alienated since he often hit people around him including his own family," North Aceh IPSM chairman Muktaruddin said on Saturday (6/1).

IPSM with his team met Murtala on Saturday afternoon after the victim's wherebouts was informed. He explained that the victim was in a devastating condition in a shack without walls.

"When we came to see him, he was eating grass on the place he was shackled. This is tragic," Muktaruddin said and verified by his vice chairman Akmal Daud.

IPSM explained that they have coordinated with the victim's family and public health center of the district. Furthermore, Baktiya Community Health Center head Ibnu Khaldun said that the victim suffers from schizophrenia paranoid and was brought to mental hospital.

Khaldun explained that he will be taken gain to mental hospital in Banda Aceh for further treatment.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/07/055914623/Aceh-Still-Practices-Punishment-with-Shackles

Human rights & justice

Kontras demands solution on perceived persecution of civilians

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2018

Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has called on the government to speed up the legal process of two persecution cases allegedly committed by military and police officers against civilians in Maluku and Papua.

On Thursday, Kontras said it had assisted in the legal process of the cases involving La Gode in Taliabu, South Maluku, and Isak in Kimaam, Merauke in Papua. Both were reportedly tortured to death by security officers.

"In La Gode's case, the police have named 10 people as suspects but they have not yet revealed who they are, whether they have been detained and which law they have been charged with," said the commission's coordinator, Yati Andriyani.

The activist further added that three members of the Yalet 755 Infantry Battalion had allegedly tortured Isak to death in November 2017 in Merauke, Papua. Kontras' investigation revealed that the military had not taken immediate action to tackle the problem or named a suspect in the case.

"Instead, the military gave the victim's family 'condolence money' to hold a funeral procession," Yati said. She added that the police, as a law enforcement institution, had also abandoned the case.

Yati raised concerns that the military and police officers in remote areas often failed to do their job of providing security and safety to people. She was disappointed that the personnel chose to hand out an amount of money to the victim's family instead of taking full responsibility. (vla/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/04/kontras-demands-solution-on-perceived-persecution-of-civilians.html

Criminalisation & political violence

7-year sentence demanded for environmental activist who allegedly displayed

Coconuts Jakarta - January 8, 2018

Along with anti-LGBT paranoia, Indonesia has also seen a surge in communist paranoia in the last few years. Despite the Indonesian Communist Party having been eradicated over 50 years ago, the mere specter of communism remains such a powerful political boogeyman that mere accusations of support for the banned ideology can be used to attack and silence activists.

A well-known environmental activist named Heri Budiawan, better known as Budi Pego, is currently undergoing trial for allegedly displaying communist symbols after police accused him of raising a banner featuring the hammer and sickle during a protest.

During his sentencing hearing on Thursday at the Banyuwangi District Court in East Java, the prosecution demanded that Budi Pego be given 7 years for "spreading communist teachings" by holding up a banner featuring the communist symbol at a protest against a gold mine in Pesanggaran on April 4.

"The defendant has been proven legally and convincingly guilty of committing crimes against the security of the state," prosecutor Budhi Cahyono said at the hearing as quoted by Tempo.

The prosecutor accused the 37-year-old environmental activist not just of holding up the offending banner but also planning and coordinating the protest at which it was displayed.

However there are several good reasons to believe, as most of his fellow activists believe, that Budi Pego was framed by those who wanted to silence his protests against the gold mine.

For one thing, although the prosecution presented several witnesses and pieces of evidence to support their accusation, including 8 of the banners from the demonstration, none of those banners actually had the hammer and sickle in question on them.

In fact, the only evidence that Budi Pego held up the hammer and sickle banner comes from photos taken by the police that were used to arrest him after the demo.

This fact becomes even more suspicious when you learn that the demonstrators actually made all of the banners under the watchful eyes of the police.

"If there had been a drawing similar to the hammer and sickle, the police could have stopped them and arrest the people immediately," Muhammad Afandi, head of the advocacy and campaigning division of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), told Kompas back in September soon after Budi Pego was arrested.

Other protesters also said they only knew about the supposed hammer and sickle logo on the banner after police showed them photos. They were also adamant that it had not been one of the 11 banners they had made.

Afandi said that at least five other "criminalization" attempts have been made to arrest people engaged in peaceful protest against the Tumpang Pitu gold mine.

The Walhi officer noted that Article 66 of Law 32/2009 on Environmental Protection and Management says that those who struggle for the right to a good and healthy environment cannot be prosecuted criminally or civilly sued.

That law could not protect Budi Pego from being arrested and tried. Hopefully the judges in the case will fairly evaluate the evidence (or lack thereof) in this case.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/7-year-sentence-demanded-environmental-activist-allegedly-displayed-communist-symbol-demo/

Activist accused of 'spreading communist ideas' faces 7 year jail sentence

Tempo - January 4, 2018

Ika Ningtyas, Banyuwangi – The state prosecutor in a hearing at the Banyuwangi District Court in East Java on January 4 has demanded that activist Heri Budiawan alias Budi Pego be jailed for seven years minus time already spent in detention.

Budi is charged with spreading communist, Marxist and Leninist ideas over a banner with the symbol of a hammer-and-sickle which appeared during a protest action by scores of Pesanggaran sub-district residents opposing a gold-mine on April 4, 2017.

Budi was indicted under Article 107 Paragraph (a) of Law Number 27/1999 on Revisions to the Criminal Code related to crimes against state security.

"The defendant has been proven legally and convincingly guilty of committing a crime which is related to crimes against state security", said state prosecutor Budhi Cahyono when reading out the sentence demand.

According to the prosecutor, Budi Pego was the coordinator and planner of the action who instructed residents to hold a protest action. The banners rejecting the mine used at the demonstration were made at the 37-year-old man's house.

Based on expert testimonies, said the prosecutor, the crossed shaped hammer-and-sickle symbol was identical to the internationally recognised symbol of communism.

Thus, said the prosecutor, any person who displays a picture of the hammer-and-sickle in a public place shall be deemed to be spreading communist, Marxist and Leninist ideas which is illegal in Indonesia.

"The incorporation of the logo or hammer-and-sickle symbol was a form of spreading communist ideology although it was still in the initial stages", said Cahyono.

During the court hearing the prosecution presented 16 witnesses and four pieces of material evidence in the form of eight banners, [a picture of] the pickup truck that carried the banner, a set of [car] keys and a flash disk containing a video covering the protest action against the mine.

Out of the eight banners submitted as material evidence however, not one had a logo of the hammer-and-sickle on them. According to the prosecutor, they have not yet been able to find the banner with the hammer-and-sickle on it. "The said banner is included in the list of evidence being sought", he said.

One of Budi's defense lawyers, Ahmad Rifai, said that the prosecution's demands were excessive. Yet, based on the facts revealed during the trial, not one witness saw a banner with the hammer-and-sickle at the house of the defendant.

"Moreover the banner with the hammer-and-sickle was not able to be presented to the court", said Rifai.

The case against Budi began on April 4, 2017 when scores of residents from Pesanggaran sub-district put up banners opposing a gold-mine run by the companies PT Bumi Suksesindo and PT Damai Suksesindo. The protesters made the 11 banners at Budi's house out of white cloth and spray paint.

When the banners were being made, Budi claims that there six police officer watching over them. The banners were then put up along the road between Merah Island beach and the Lowi intersection around five kilometres away.

The following day however, Budi was approached by several police officers who claimed that there was a hammer-and-sickle logo on one of the banners.

Police presented several photos of the banner as evidence. "If it was me who made [the banners], they why wasn't I arrested immediately back then", said Budi who has been actively opposing the mine since 2014.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Dituduh Sebarkan Komunisme, Aktivis Lingkungan Dituntut 7 Tahun".]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1047482/dituduh-sebarkan-komunisme-aktivis-lingkungan-dituntut-7-tahun

Sexual & domestic violence

Social Affairs Ministry offers counseling for 41 alleged rape victims

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2018

Jakarta – Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa has offered to provide psychosocial treatment to 41 children who were allegedly raped by a man arrested on Thursday in Sakem village, Tangerang, Banten.

"The victims are likely suffering from trauma," Khofifah said in a statement released on Saturday, adding that the children would be treated at the ministry's shelter in Bambu Apus, East Jakarta.

Tangerang Police arrested on Thursday a man identified as WS for allegedly raping 25 children after receiving a report from one of his alleged victims' parents.

The number of alleged victims, all of whom are boys between the ages of 11 and 15, has since risen to 41, police revealed.

WS, who works as contract teacher at an elementary school, confessed to having sexually assaulted children since April 2017, several months after his wife left the country to work in Malaysia.

The Social Affairs Ministry has deployed a team comprising social workers and counselors to provide the alleged victims with social assistance and medical and psychological treatment.

Khofifah encouraged the public to report cases of sexual violence against children and help the government prevent such crimes.

"For parents, please do not think that it is disgraceful and hide [incidents of sexual violence], because it will hinder the psychosocial therapy of the victims. I encourage parents to learn more about technology because pedophiles also use technology to lure the victims. Monitor your children's use of smartphones; assist and educate them about [the internet]," Khofifah said. (wnd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/06/social-affairs-ministry-offers-counseling-for-41-alleged-rape-victims.html

KRL Commuterline deploying undercover security officers to combat sexual

Coconuts Jakarta - January 4, 2018

Sexual harassment has unfortunately long been a problem on Jakarta's KRL Commuterline trains, as evidenced by the existence of women-only carriages that were introduced by the train company in their bid to combat the problem (though critics say that segregating women on public transportation does more to normalize sexual harassment than protect women).

But PT Kereta Commuter Indonesia (PT KCI), the operators of the KRL Commuterline, said they have been deploying undercover security officers to catch sex offenders on their trains for some time.

Though hard data was lacking in determining the effectiveness of the undercover officers, PT KCI said the strategy has had some success as they recalled one undercover officer catching an alleged abuser on the Tanah Abang-Duri line recently.

"It happened around a month-and-a-half ago, now the case is being investigated by the police," said PT KCI First Director Muhammad Nurul Fadhila, as quoted by Warta Kota during a press conference today.

"He (the undercover officer) witnessed the abuse, apprehended the suspect and reported him to the police."

However, Muhammad admitted that undercover officers, being limited in numbers, can't be the sole solution in combatting sexual harassment on the KRL Commuterline.

"We can't realistically monitor 3,000 people at once in one train. That's why to prevent (sexual harassment), we hope victims would come forward and report incidents to us. God willing, we will follow it up. There's always a risk of embarrassment (when victims come forward), that's for sure. But if (sexual harassment) isn't reported then it will continue to happen," he said.

Last month, a woman was allegedly attacked by a man on the KRL Commuterline after she witnessed him taking out his genitals and rubbing it on another female passenger.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/krl-commuterline-deploying-undercover-security-officers-combat-sexual-harassment-trains-official/

Political parties & elections

Generals told to resign if granted candidacy status by KPU: National Police

Jakarta Post - January 8, 2018

Jakarta – Police generals seeking candidacy in the 2018 simultaneous regional elections have been told to resign from the force once the General Elections Commission (KPU) confirms their eligibility, a spokesman for the force has said.

"They have yet to resign. They will after the election commission verifies their registration on Feb. 12," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said on Monday as quoted by Antara news agency.

Setyo dismissed concerns that the generals would abuse their authority to win votes during the campaign period as the National Police had transferred them to nonstrategic posts. "Our internal affairs division [Propam] will also look [into possible abuses of authority during the election."

Three police generals are set to run in this year's regional election, namely former West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan, former National Police Mobile Brigade commander Insp. Gen. Murad Ismail and former East Kalimantan Police chief Insp. Gen. Safaruddin.

Anton is set to run as a deputy governor candidate in West Java alongside former House of Representatives lawmaker Tubagus Hasanuddin. The pair is backed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

Meanwhile, Murad and running mate Barnabas Orno are supported by the PDI-P and two other parties, the NasDem Party and National Awakening Party (PKB), in the Maluku gubernatorial election. Safaruddin is also backed by the PDI-P as an East Kalimantan gubernatorial candidate, although his running mate has yet to be announced. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/08/generals-told-to-resign-if-granted-candidacy-status-by-kpu-national-police.html

PDI-P politician may drop election bid over leaked photos

Jakarta Post - January 5, 2018

Jakarta – Banyuwangi Regent and East Java deputy gubernatorial candidate Abdullah Azwar Anas has told running mate Saifullah "Gus Ipul" Yusuf that he wants to pull out of the election.

Gus Ipul confirmed on Thursday that Azwar had contacted him. "I was surprised. I also received the information about Azwar Anas' plan to withdraw from the supporting parties," he said as quoted by kompas.com.

The news came after a number of leaked photos allegedly showing Azwar in a compromising position had gone viral on social media. One of the photos allegedly shows Azwar sitting in a car while holding a woman's leg. A bottle of wine is seen next to him.

The photos, if confirmed, could undermine Azwar's electability in East Java, one of the most conservative provinces in the country and home to the largest population of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) followers..

Azwar has stated in a press release that he has received several threats in the lead up to the East Java gubernatorial election registration on Jan. 7.

"There have been threats against me and my family, and there have also been attempts to assassinate my character as a deputy gubernatorial candidate for East Java," he said.

He added that he had been receiving such treatment since his second term as Banyuwangi regent. "I have been sent pictures in the past to stop me from enacting certain policies. But I didn't let those stop me from doing what was best for the public," he said.

Secretary-general of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) Hasto Kristiyanto also said there had been an attempt to tarnish Azwar's image ahead of the elections.

"Because they have the potential to win, of course there will be deliberate and systematic attempts to lower their electability," he said. "They will often use moral issues to do this." (kmt/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/05/pdi-p-politician-may-drop-election-bid-over-leaked-photos.html

Dems say candidates treated unfairly in lead-up to elections

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2018

Jakarta – The Democratic Party called a meeting on Wednesday led by party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to discuss matters concerning the party's contenders in regional elections.

"There has been arbitrary and unfair treatment of [the Democratic Party] and its cadres who have or will contest elections," Democratic Party secretary-general Hinca Panjaitan said.

He mentioned as an example Sylviana Murni, who was backed by the Democratic Party to be the running mate of Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, who ran for Jakarta governor last year. Sylviana was questioned regarding a graft case just before the election.

Hinca said in the latest incident, which prompted the party to hold the meeting, Syaharie Jaang and Rizal Effendi, a candidate pair supported by the Democratic Party in the 2018 North Kalimantan gubernatorial election, had been summoned by the police in connection with a different graft case.

Hinca said the summons was sent after Syaharie declined an offer by a political party to be the running mate of North Kalimantan Police chief Insp. Gen. Safaruddin in a regional election.

"This is unfair treatment. Pak Syaharie was asked several times to pair with [Safaruddin] and it was implied that if he rejected the offer, there could be a legal case against him."

A couple of days later, Syaharie and Rizal were summoned by the National Police's Criminal Investigation Department for questioning. "This can be regarded as intervention by law enforcers," Hinca said. (nmn/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/04/dems-say-candidates-treated-unfairly-in-lead-up-to-elections.html

Indonesian general posied to throw his hat in the political ring

The Australian - January 4, 2018

Amanda Hodge, Nivell Rayda – Indonesia's military chief, who suspended military co-operation with Australia a year ago and accused Canberra of trying to "recruit" his officers, looks set to launch his political career within months with a possible tilt at a provincial governorship -­ a tested platform to the presidency.

Gatot Nurmantyo, 57, has been named a possible candidate for the Central Java governor's post by three allied parties -­ Golkar, the United Development Party and the Democratic Party -­ ahead of nominations for ­regional elections in June.

Party officials confirmed yesterday that General Gatot, a nationalist with an apparent deep suspicion of Australia and the US, was a strong candidate in a shortlist of contenders for the post, but insisted there had been no communication with him given he is an active military officer until his retirement on March 13.

Just last month, General Gatot said he had no plans to enter politics and wanted to "spend time with both my grandchildren". But he added: "If the country needs me, I am ready to serve in any way I can, whatever my role may be."

General Gatot's short-listing has reignited speculation over his political ambitions, which some analysts suggest could stretch as high as the presidential palace.

He has also been touted as a possible vice-presidential running mate in 2019 to both incumbent, Joko Widodo, and his likely challenger, Prabowo Subianto, another retired general.

Philips J. Vermonte from the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies said General Gatot had the potential to win a future presidential election.

"It's just a question of whether he wants to participate in the 2019 race or wait until 2024," he said. By 2024, Jokowi would be constitutionally barred from contesting a third election and Mr Prabowo -­ now 66 -­ could be too old for another tilt.

"Right now, he cannot run on his own because his popularity is still way below Jokowi and Prabowo so he really has nothing to lose if he entered the gubernatorial race. "He could easily win the Central Java election and set his sight on 2024."

Mr Joko's rise from Jakarta governor to president had set a precedent for such a strategy, Mr Vermonte said, adding voters were slowly turning away from career politicians and political elites. "They want the country to be led by someone with a proven track record as a bureaucrat."

Paramadina University politics lecturer Hendri Satrio predicted General Gatot would most likely run as Mr Prabowo's vice-presidential candidate next year and build his strategy for a 2024 tilt at the presidency.

Either way, General Gatot's political rise would likely pose fresh challenges for Australia, which is enjoying an era of friendly relations with Indonesia but has a prickly history with the commander.

In March 2015, when he was army chief of staff, General Gatot said East Timor's secession from Indonesia was part of a proxy war launched by Australia to secure the oilfield in the Timor Gap. He reiterated his accusations the following June during his parliamentary confirmation hearing as military chief.

In November 2016, General Gatot described the presence of US marines in Darwin as a potential threat because the base was close to resource-rich West Papua and Indonesia's Masela gas block, and accused Australia of trying to "recruit" Indonesian officers through military exchange programs.

A month later he suspended a military exchange program with Australia over allegedly offensive teaching materials at Perth's Campbell Barracks that referred to the sensitive topic of independence in West Papua and appeared to ridicule Indonesia's founding philosophy of unity, known as Pancasila.

Australian army chief Angus Campbell was forced to deliver a personal apology to the commander but full military co-operation was restored only last February during Mr Joko's visit to Australia.

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/indonesian-general-posied-to-throw-his-hat-in-the-political-ring/news-story/b8055bf9a1263cb499efaa78a9ccc389 ?

Coalition eyes Gus Dur's daughter for East Java election

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2018

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The coalition of the Gerindra Party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the National Mandate Party (PAN) is considering to endorse the daughter of late former president Abdurrahman Wahid, Zannuba Ariffah Chafsoh Rahman Wahid, known as Yenny, as a governor candidate in the 2018 East Java gubernatorial election.

Gerindra deputy chairman Ferry Juliantono confirmed Wednesday that the party was considering to back Yenny in the race for the top post of the country's second most populous province. "There is a possibility that we will go in that direction," he told The Jakarta Post.

PKS deputy secretary-general Mardani also admitted that Yenny was among the names to be a potential candidate. "Yenny is among the names appearing in our discussions. We want an alternative figure who has the potential to win," he said.

If the coalition supports Yenny, she will likely be a rival of the pair Khofifah Indar Parawansa-Emil Dardak, endorsed by the Golkar Party, the Democratic Party, the NasDem Party and United Development Party (PPP), and the pair Saifullah "Gus Ipul" Yusuf-Abdullah Azwar Anas, backed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the National Awakening Party (PKB).

Yenny, Saifullah and Khofifah all have affiliations with the country's biggest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, which has a stronghold in East Java.

Mardani claimed that the coalition aimed to challenge President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the 2019 presidential election with their choice.

"We all know that both Gus Ipul and Khofifah have big potential to support Jokowi in 2019, while we [PKS and Gerindra] want to challenge the incumbent in the presidential election. Victory in the East Java election is part of the scenario for the presidential contest," Mardani said. (kmt)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/03/coalition-eyes-gus-durs-daughter-for-east-java-election.html

Sharia & discriminatory by-laws

No more 'Western' names for children in Karanganyar: Councillors

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2018

Ganug Nugroho Adi, Surakarta, Central Java – The Karanganyar Legislative Council (DPRD) plans to issue a bylaw that will prohibit parents from giving their children "Western" names.

"The bylaw is being deliberated. It will take quite a long time for the council to pass the bylaw. But in principal, the bylaw aims to protect local cultures that have begun to disappear," said DPRD Karanganyar speaker Sumanto on Wednesday.

He said Karanganyar councillors were of the opinion that local names must be protected because they were part of the nation's noble historical inheritance.

"The use of Western names has become very common. We are concerned about the condition," said Sumanto. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/04/no-more-western-names-for-children-in-karanganyar-councillors.html

Surveys & opinion polls

Gallup yearend survey names Indonesia 'most optimistic country'

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia ranks among the world's happiest and most optimistic countries, according to US-based Gallup International's 41st Annual Global End of Year Survey.

The survey, which was conducted in 55 countries between October and December 2017, asked respondents questions on three topics: hope, economic optimism and happiness.

Gallup International's report on the survey crowned Indonesia "this year's winner" in overall optimism with a net score of +66.

When asked whether they thought 2018 would be better or worse than 2017, 73 percent of the 1,026 Indonesians polled said this year would be better while only 6 percent said it would be worse, putting Indonesia at the top of the survey's Hope Index with a score of +67.

In the Economic Optimism Index, 63 percent of Indonesians believed that 2018 would be a year of economic prosperity for the country, making Indonesia (+53), the third most economically optimistic out of the 55 countries polled.

In the survey's Happiness Index, 73 percent of polled Indonesians said they felt happy about their lives, placing the country (+68) above developed countries such as the US, the UK, Germany and Japan.

Overall, however, the survey showed that the world was more pessimistic than it was last year, with only 40 percent of global respondents hopeful that this year would be better than the last, or 13 points down compared to the result in 2016. A mere 28 percent believed that 2018 would be economically prosperous. (kmt/ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/04/gallup-yearend-survey-names-indonesia-most-optimistic-country.html

Indonesia among the top 10 happiest countries on earth, its people the most

Coconuts Jakarta - January 3, 2018

A bunch of things make us happy to be living in Indonesia, such as martabak, the country's pristine beaches, and, of course, its beautiful and kind people.

According to a recent survey by Gallup International Association, that happiness seems to be shared by the majority of Indonesians, as Indonesia was ranked the 8th happiest country in the world in 2017, ahead of India, Argentina, and the Netherlands but some ways behind the happiest country in the world, Fiji.

The rankings were based on the happiness net scores for respondents' answers to the question, "in general, do you personally feel very happy, happy, neither happy nor unhappy, unhappy or very unhappy about your life?" In Indonesia, 73% said they were happy, 9% said they were unhappy, while 22% were "neutrals," resulting in a net score of +68 (considerably higher than the global net score of +48).

On an even more hopeful note, Indonesians ranked first in the world in terms of general optimism for the year 2018. We are also third in terms of economic optimism for this year, a result that is in line with previous surveys showing that Indonesians have the highest levels of confidence in government despite high levels of systemic corruption, endless graft scandals and inefficient bureaucracy.

Just under 54,000 people from 55 countries were quizzed between October and December for the survey. The results for Indonesia were based on a sample size of 1,026 people who responded to an online survey.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesia-among-top-10-happiest-countries-earth-people-optimistic-survey/

SMRC: Jokowi's electability rating rises, Prabowo's falling

Tempo - January 3, 2018

Jakarta – A survey conducted by Saiful Mujani Research and Consluting (SMRC) says that President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) would win if the presidential election were to be held today. SMRC Executive Director Djayadi Hanan said that Jokowi's electability rating is way above other candidates.

"There are no other names yet who gets a significant support," he said yesterday in a press conference at SMRC office in Jakarta.

The survey says that Jokowi's electability rating stands at 38.9 percent, followed by Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto with 10.5 percent, Democrat Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with 1.4 percent, former National Armed Forces (TNI) chief Gatot Nurmantyo with 0.8 percent and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan with 0.5 percent.

The poll was conducted on December 7-13 involving 1,220 respondents via face-to-face interview. It had 3.1 percent margin of error.

Jokowi's electability rating continues to rise. In January 2017, the figure stood at 27 percent. It rose to 34.1 percent in May and remained at 38.9 percent since September.

In the same period, Prabowo's electability rating was at 9.9 percent. It increased to 17.2 percent in May and 12 percent in September and currently stands at 10.5 percent.

Jokowi's high electability score relates to his approval rating that stands at 65 percent.

His electability increases when respondents had two candidate choices. If pit against Prabowo only, Jokowi's got 64.1 percent electability rating and Prabowo garnered 27.1 percent.

Gerindra deputy chairman Ferry Juliantono said SMRC survey on the electability rating of Jokowi and Prabowo was invalid.

– Ahmad Faiz Ibnu Sani

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/03/055914533/SMRC-Jokowis-Electability-Rating-Rises-Prabowos-Falling

Environment & natural disasters

Indonesian fuses myth and science for volcano disaster management

Voice of America - January 5, 2018

Krithika Varagur, Jakarta – Mount Merapi, in Central Java, is one of the most important volcanoes in Indonesia, one of the most volcanically active countries in the world. Just north of the ancient sultanate city of Yogyakarta, Merapi has its own extensive mythology.

It is believed, for instance, that a shadow sultanate of the spirit kingdom is located inside the volcano. Still, when it erupted in 2010, 353 people died in the disaster, even though 350,000 people were evacuated.

Since that tragedy, Yogyakarta has developed one of the most comprehensive volcano management systems in the world, aided by several helpful factors.

Mount Merapi is near a major city. It's on the nation's wealthiest and most populous island, Java, and there is a high concentration of scientists and policy experts in the university town.

But it's also unique in its combination of grassroots and high-level efforts, from a large volunteer search and rescue squad to a hereditary spiritual guardian who works hand-in-hand with government officials.

Spiritual guardian

Mount Merapi, like some other spiritual sites in Indonesia, has a juru kunci, or caretaker, who is responsible for ritual activity and is appointed by the Sultan of Yogyakarta. Merapi's caretaker since 2011 is Asih, also known as Bekel Suraksosihono, whose father, Mbah Maridjan, was the previous caretaker and a cult icon.

Mbah Maridjan was famous for his close spiritual connection with the mountain and chose to die in the 2010 eruption while his family and other villagers descended to safety.

"My father said, 'please go down. But it will be cowardly if I do so. It is my time to go,'" said Asih, speaking from his home at the base of Merapi. "By the time the call to prayer sounded, lava had reached the bunker." Mbah Maridjan died while bent over in prayer.

Asih, a math professor at the Islamic University of Yogyakarta during the week, is not quite as committed to the mountain as his charismatic father was.

"I am just a servant of the sultan," he said. "I don't feel any particular batin [or spiritual connection] with Merapi. I took my father's title but not his mannerisms." This is literally true: Asih declined his father's honorific "Mbah," which means "mountain guard."

The caretaker's evolving role also reflects how tradition and modernity increasingly work in tandem in post-eruption Yogyakarta.

"I work closely with the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation," said Asih. "It's not easy for me to give information to people in the area without panic... the government can do a better job."

Today, every family on Merapi has a walkie-talkie. "We respect the local traditions," said I Guste Made Agung Nandaka, the head of the volcanology center. "Also, after 2010, I think people have wanted to listen to science-based warnings, which makes my job easier."

He said that today, Yogyakarta's early warning system for volcano alerts combines everything from social media to "mouth-to-mouth knowledge transfer for older people."

Asih himself lived in a shelter for six months after the eruption while resettlement housing was built. One big concern going forward? His successor, Asih, only has two daughters whereas the caretaker is traditionally a man.

Active citizenry

Beyond the spiritual and official actors involved in disaster management, Yogyakarta also has a highly engaged citizenry that compounds their efforts at the grassroots level.

The city has an all-volunteer search and rescue (SAR) committee of 2,000 young people who train to help not just disaster victims, but also those who get lost or hurt on the mountain.

In 2010, said Endro Sambodo, an SAR member, many of them gave up their day jobs for three months to intensively help eruption victims. "We escaped our reality, but it was very worth it," said Sambodo.

SAR works both with Asih and the local government, which gives them a building to use as headquarters.

For Endro, the volunteer work is a good tool with which to approach life in the shadow of a volcano, which is a reality for hundreds of thousands of Indonesians.

"Indonesia is a supermarket of disasters," he said, cheerfully. "But our ancestors lived here. Most of us still want to live here. And Merapi gives so much to us besides: fertilizer for crops, job opportunities, and now, even tourism."

Since the eruption, open-air jeep tours have become a popular addition to the mountain, attracting 3,000 to 10,000 tourists each weekend. There is even a free community school on the volcano's slopes.

Yogyakarta is a case study in how a community can manage an on going threat by tackling it from many directions.

The mountain is still active; you can see it on clear days from parts of the city. But it doesn't weigh on residents' minds, in part because of their great advances in the past decade. As Sambodo said, "Merapi is a house and we are its guests."

Source: https://www.voanews.com/a/indonesian-fuses-myth-science-volcano-disaster-management/4193915.html

Health & education

Indonesian ulemas urge vaccination against diphtheria outbreak

Jakarta Globe - January 4, 2018

Telly Nathalia, Serang – The Banten branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council, or MUI, issued a statement on Wednesday (03/01) urging Muslim parents to get their children vaccinated against diphtheria as an outbreak of the disease continues all over Indonesia.

A.M. Romly, the head of MUI Banten, said the provincial administration has been working hard to provide vaccination for everyone from age one to nineteen.

"[Diphtheria] threatens people's lives, so getting vaccinated is necessary to keep them safe," Romly said, as quoted by Antara news agency.

Controversy about whether or not vaccination is "halal" (permitted) for Muslims has been going on for some time in Indonesia. Government health officials said they have had to deal with parents resisting vaccination for their children.

The Health Ministry declared diphtheria outbreaks in 20 provinces across Indonesia, including Banten, in November 2017.

Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection that affects the mucous membranes of the nose and throat and may cause difficulty breathing, paralysis and even death in serious cases.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesian-ulemas-urge-vaccination-diphtheria-outbreak/

LBGT & same-sex marriage

Anti-LGBT Indonesians threaten to boycott Unilever over Golden Gaytime ice cream

Coconuts Jakarta - January 8, 2018

Although many human rights defenders cheered last month when Indonesia's Constitutional Court rejected a petition that would have criminalized homosexual acts, the court decision did little to mitigate the country's rampant homophobia (in fact, it probably increased it to some degree).

Virulently anti-LGBT Indonesians not only oppose gay rights but have threatened to oppose anybody, including businesses, that support gay rights. Companies ranging from Starbucks to Facebook have been threatened with boycotts from Indonesians offended by their executives' statements in favor of LGBT rights and marriage equality.

However, the latest company threatened with a boycott by anti-LGBT Indonesians was targeted, not for any statements made by the company but for the name and appearance of one of its most delicious and beloved products – Golden Gaytime ice cream bars.

Mengetahui sedikit kemudian mengklaim sudah sangat tahu segalanya adalah virus yang akhir-akhir ini mewabah. Islam... – Posted by Harmasto Hendro Kusworo on Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Above is one example of the posts that went viral on Indonesian social media recently featuring a photo of the fabulous "Rainbow Gaytime" ice cream bar produced by Walls, which is a subsidiary of international conglomerate Unilever. The post argues that Islam condemns homosexuality and says, "If there are some who say Islam is a paranoid religion then you could say that is true, because the Muslim people do not want to experience the afterlife (like those who disobeyed God)".

So apparently rainbow colored ice cream treats with the word "gay" on them fall under the poster's definition of justifiable anti-LGBT paranoia. And many agreed, with enough people calling for a boycott of the ice cream's manufacturer that Unilever Indonesia actually released a press statement to clarify that Golden Gaytime ice cream bars are not even sold in Indonesia while also distancing themselves from the notion that they would ever sell anything that would be so contrary to "the cultural and religious values and norms in Indonesia":

Responding the news on social media about Walls Gaytime Ice Cream, Unilever Indonesia, the owner of Walls explains as follows:

The Gaytime ice cream mentioned in the social media are not the products of Wall's Indonesia.

Unilever has been in Indonesia for 84 years and we respect and upholds the cultural and religious values and norms in Indonesia. We always ensure that our products, activities and campaigns in Indonesia are suitable for Indonesians from different backgrounds.

Furthermore, all products from Wall's that are sold in Indonesia have obtained halal certified from LPPOM MUI. Walls Indonesia just received the LPPOM MUI award as Halal Top Brand 2017.

Golden Gaytime ice cream bars (which are toffee and vanilla ice-cream dipped in chocolate and wrapped in honeycomb biscuits, yum) are in fact only available in Australia, where they are a beloved brand. First released in 1959, they were named during a time when the word "gay" was usually used to mean happy or carefree, although in recent years the company's marketing has embraced its name's modern connotations.

The "Rainbow Gaytime" bar pictured in the viral posts was also not officially produced by Walls but was instead created by a fan specifically for the Sydney's Mardi Gras.

The threat of any actual boycott seems to have evaporated after Unilever's clarification. The misinformation behind the viral posts was also thoroughly debunked by the good folks at Indonesian Hoaxes.

#PENJELASAN Berdasarkan hasil penelusuran Golden Gaytime (Cookie Crumble di Selandia Baru) adalah makanan ringan es krim... – Posted by Indonesian Hoaxes on Friday, December 29, 2017

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/anti-lgbt-indonesians-threaten-boycott-unilever-golden-gaytime-ice-cream-isnt-sold-indonesia/

Corruption & abuse of power

Setya Novanto uncertain on becoming justice collaborator

Tempo - January 5, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Maqdir Ismail, the defense lawyer of Setya Novanto, said his client is unsure about becoming a justice collaborator. He said his client does not want to defame others.

"We have yet to decide whether to submit a proposal to become JC or not. We don't want to because a JC [will have to] name names. We don't want to defame others," Maqdir said at the Corruption Court on Thursday, January 4.

In a preliminary hearing held yesterday, the panel of judges rejected Setya Novanto's exception in the electronic ID cards (e-KTP) graft case. As such, the trial will resume hearing the witnesses' testimony on Thursday, January 11.

The lawyer said that he did not want to see Setya Novanto 'on the receiving end of a defamation' as experienced in previous hearings.

He added that Setya Novanto is not the main perpetrator. "He was a member of the DPR [House of Representatives] that was involved midway [through the e-KTP project]; at the end, even," he said. The lawyer said that the main perpetrators in the graft case were officials of the Home Affairs Ministry.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) spokesman Febri Diansyah said that the opportunity to become a justice collaborator is open to anyone. "If a defendant is willing to become a JC, please submit a proposal to the KPK. It will definitely be considered and examined. A JC must admit their wrongdoing and cooperate to reveal the roles of many others and bear in mind that the JC [status] cannot be given to the main perpetrator," Febri said.

Setya Novanto is charged with manipulating the procurement of the Home Affairs Ministry's e-KTP project. The indictment says he received US$7.3 billion and a Richard Mille watch worth US$135,000 in relation to the project. The total state losses caused in the project reached Rp2.3 trillion.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/05/055914581/Setya-Novanto-Uncertain-on-Becoming-Justice-Collaborator

KPK operations net officials for alleged corruption

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested several public officials for alleged corruption during a string of operations in South Kalimantan and East Java, its head confirmed.

"There have been operations in Hulu Sungai Tengah regency in South Kalimantan and in Surabaya, East Java," KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo told journalists on Thursday.

He refused to disclose details about the arrests and added that more information would be revealed at a press conference later this afternoon.

According to reports, one of the officials KPK investigators arrested is a regional head.

This is the KPK's first successful operation of 2018 to arrest people suspected of committing graft and being involved in bribery.

Last year, the antigraft body conducted 19 operations and arrested 72 suspects, including eight regional heads. In November, the graft busters arrested three officials and a regional councillor in Jambi on allegations of bribery pertaining to the 2018 provincial budget deliberation. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/04/KPK-operations-net-officials-for-alleged-corruption.html

Anies appoints campaign team member to head anticorruption team

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2018

Fachrul Sidiq and Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta – Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan officially appointed former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) commissioner and election campaign team member Bambang Widjojanto on Wednesday to head the newly established Jakarta Corruption Prevention Committee.

The committee, which consists of five individuals, is part of his Governor's Team for Development Acceleration (TGUPP).

Apart from Bambang, the team comprises noted human rights activist Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, former National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Oegroeseno, political expert Tatak Ujiyati and Muhammad Yusuf, the former TGUPP chief in the previous administration.

"We are happy because we begin our work in 2018 with the appointment of the Jakarta Corruption Prevention Committee," Anies said at City Hall in Central Jakarta.

He said the committee would strengthen the anticorruption campaign in Jakarta, given the capital's pivotal role in the country.

Bambang said that with the various backgrounds and experience possessed by the team's members, he expected to create a stronger movement up to grassroots level in combating and preventing corruption.

"This should become a corruption prevention movement that involves participation from the public," he added.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/03/anies-appoints-campaign-team-member-to-head-anticorruption-team.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

Indonesia beefs up anti-terror police unit to combat 'extremist' challenge

Asia Pacific Report - January 2, 2018

Indonesia is beefing up its elite Detachment 88 (Densus 88) unit in light of increased threats from local and international terror networks, says National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian.

There will be additional 600 policemen assigned to the squad, bringing the total headcount to 1300, reports The Straits Times.

"We now have Isis, not only Al-Qaeda elements. We are also seeing those who, through the internet, got self-radicalised, learnt how to make bombs and made attack plans," said General Tito at a media briefing in Jakarta. "Therefore, the Detatchment 88 must be beefed up."

General Tito, who was involved in various high-profile terrorist raids when he was a field officer with Detachment 88, said silent operations must be stepped up, meaning more preemptive strikes were needed. This in turn required higher detection capability, he added.

Tasks within Detatchment 88 are divided into various operations: arrests and raids; investigation and cross examination; interrogation; wiretapping; and evidence handling.

Won praise, condemnation

The unit has won praise for the many raids it has made on militant networks in Indonesia, foiling attacks and arresting terrorist suspects.

However, it has also been heavily criticised for a repressive role in West Papua against indigenous self-determination and civil society groups.

In 2017, Detatchment 88 arrested 154 and killed 16 terrorists during raids, with 14 officers injured and four killed during the raids operations.

The unit made more than 150 arrests in 2016, disrupting terror plots, including the planned launch of rocket attacks on Singapore's Marina Bay Sands from Batam island.

General Tito also unveiled plans to send more police officers for overseas studies, saying he was inspired by the late Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in his bold move in preventing corruption.

The police force has, for the first time, received an allocation of 120 scholarship positions from the Finance Ministry to send its personnel abroad. This would mean a record number of officers studying overseas in coming years.

Waves of new faces

"We want to have big waves of new faces and a less corrupt culture," said General Tito. "When they return to Indonesia, they will have their own community who think the same way and who will be the agents of change. We want to replicate the Singapore concept. This is what Singapore did."

He noted that when young policemen were sent to the United States, Britain and other countries with a less corrupt culture, they would be shaped accordingly.

The plan is to send 100 of the 300 fresh graduates from the police academy overseas as well as scores of other early-career policemen, he added.

Source: https://asiapacificreport.nz/2018/01/02/indonesia-beefs-up-anti-terror-police-unit-to-combat-extremist-challenge/

Poverty & social inequity

Indonesia to address poverty, human resource issues in 2018

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2018

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – The government has vowed to redouble efforts to eradicate poverty and develop human resources in 2018 through the disbursement of social aid and village funds as well as by expanding vocational training.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced on Wednesday that the government would begin disbursing the village funds and social assistance this month.

"I just got news from the Finance Minister that 20 percent of the Rp 60 trillion (US$4.2 billion) in village funds can be disbursed in January," the President said at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta as he opened the first Cabinet meeting of the year.

He stressed that the village funds should be disbursed immediately, so that the villages could start implementing their respective programs.

Last year, the government allocated Rp 47 trillion for the village funds programs. Sixty percent of that sum was distributed in April and the remaining 40 percent in August.

Meanwhile, to equip more job seekers with professional skills, Jokowi added, the government would intensify its training programs. Certificates would be issued to program participants after they passed an evaluation test, Jokowi added.

Last year, 6,201 trainees took part in a profession competency program, 5,635 of whom received certificates. "The certification program just started. We will expand the program based on the demand from industries," he said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/03/indonesia-to-address-poverty-human-resource-issues-in-2018.html

Indonesian city's sidewalk features tactile paving strip that guides blind...

Coconuts Jakarta - January 8, 2018

The Indonesian government unfortunately still has a long way to go when it comes to making life easier for both pedestrians and people with disabilities, and not just in terms of infrastructure but also general awareness. Only a lack of concern for those with disabilities (and common sense) could lead to something like this:

??saat membangun fasilitas bagi pejalan kaki dan guiding block (garis pemandu) bagi disabilitas tuna netra... hasilnya... – Posted by Koalisi Pejalan Kaki on Friday, January 5, 2018

This viral photo was taken by Facebook user Valen Tino and reposted by Koalisi Pejalan Kaki, a pedestrian rights advocacy group. It shows a sidewalk in the East Java city of Mojokerto that features tactile paving blocks meant to safely guide the blind (which is great) that lead directly to a giant opening over a sewage canal (which is, obviously, very bad).

"Already there is no more work (being done on the sidewalk) but it still leads directly to the canal," Valen told Detik on Saturday.

In other words, the opening is not there due to damage to the sidewalk or because construction is still ongoing but simply because that is how it was designed.

While we don't believe that the Mojokerto government nor the contractors they hired to build the sidewalk intended to create a death trap for the blind (and we have not seen any reports of injuries at the site) it is, at the very least, a total failure of planning and design – the guiding blocks are even painted black instead of the usual bright yellow – a color chosen to make them easy to spot for the visually impaired.

Disabled Indonesians have achieved many amazing things. In September, for example, the country's athletes triumphed at the ASEAN Para Games, emerging as the overall champions with 126 gold medals. But the government needs to do a lot more to help its disabled citizens achieve the quality of life they deserve. In fact, President Joko Widodo signed a law mandating the establishment of a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities back in April 2016, but the commission has yet to be established.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/design-fail-indonesian-citys-sidewalk-features-tactile-paving-strip-guides-blind-directly-sewage-canal/

Retail & service industry

Indonesian gov't to modernize thousands of traditional markets

Jakarta Globe - January 6, 2018

Adinda Putri, Jakarta – Indonesia will refurbish 1,592 traditional markets across the country this year as part of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's nine-pronged and domestic-focused Nawacita development program, its Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said on Thursday (04/01).

A total of Rp 5.5 trillion ($409 million) will be made available to modernize 267 markets through co-administration funding (TP), 1,275 markets through special allocation funding (DAK) and 50 markets under the management of the Cooperatives and Small Businesses Ministry.

Enggartiasto said the government faces many challenges in trying to modernize traditional markets, ranging from budget limitations to protests from market sellers.

"It's not easy to rebuild or move [traditional] markets. Moving an old market always raises problems... even if we only move it 500 meters away from its original site. The sellers never want to move," Enggartiasto told reporters during a press conference in Jakarta.

The ministry's director general of national export development, Tjahya Widayanti, warned regional administrations to treat sellers fairly when they refurbish a market. "Don't abandon the old merchants. [City administrations] should reserve stalls at the new market for them, not just for new sellers coming in," Tjahya said.

The government will focus on refurbishing traditional markets in the suburbs this year – mostly markets that are open at least twice a week and comprising at least 50 sellers in a 500-square meter area. It will also refurbish some weekly markets with at least 500 sellers in a 500-square meter area.

The government has already refurbished 2,715 traditional markets since 2015 till last year, out of an eventual target of 5,000 markets by 2019.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/indonesian-govt-modernize-thousands-traditional-markets/

Transport & communication

'Government subsidy unequal to commuter train passenger target'

Jakarta Post - January 5, 2018

Jakarta – Commuter train operator PT Kereta Api Commuter Indonesia (KCI) president director Muhamamd Nurul Fadhila has said the government subsidy allocated to KCI's public service obligation (PSO) only covers 56 percent of the company's passenger number target in 2018.

The government has allocated Rp 1.29 trillion (US$96.23 million) to PT KCI's PSO, while the total allocation for state-owned railway operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI), the parent company of KCI, is Rp 2.4 trillion, he said.

"The fund is only enough for 295 million passengers. Our target is to increase the number of passengers to 320 million," said Fadhila when speaking at a press conference in Jakarta on Thursday as reported by kompas.com.

He said the commuter trains transported 315 million passengers last year, up from 292 million in 2016.

But Fadhila could not mention by how much the fund was short, saying his company had to calculate the number of passengers in every three months. He said the calculation of PSO in every three months was stated in a contract signed by the company and the Transportation Ministry.

Last year, PT KCI got a PSO allocation of Rp 1.26 trillion, said Fadhila, adding that the entire fund had been spent on providing a subsidy for 315 million passengers. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/05/government-subsidy-unequal-to-commuter-train-passenger-target.html

Jokowi launches Soekarno-Hatta airport train

Jakarta Post - January 2, 2018

Anton Hermansyah and Farida Susanti, Tangerang, Banten – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Tuesday inaugurated the new airport train that connects Soekarno-Hatta Airport Station in Tangerang, Banten, and Manggarai Station in South Jakarta.

Wearing a casual purple shirt and red running shoes, Jokowi arrived at the airport train station at 9:00 a.m. He was accompanied by State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Minister Rini Mariani Soemarno, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi and Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono.

"After three years of working hard, we can finally officiate the airport train," the President said in his speech.

He said the airport train would be integrated with other public transportation such as the Greater Jakarta Commuter Line, the light rail transit (LRT) and the bus rapid transit (BRT).

Jokowi then rode the airport train from Soekarno-Hatta station to Sudirman Baru Station (BNI City) in South Jakarta. The trip took about 55 minutes. The airport train operates 42 single-trips per day.

Services from South Jakarta's Sudirman Baru Station starts at 3:51 a.m., with the last train departing at 9:51 p.m., as several facilities at Manggarai Station are still under construction.

From Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, trains run at at hourly intervals with the first train departing at 6:10 a.m. and the last train departing at 11:10 p.m. Tickets are available at a flat price of Rp 70,000 (US$4.9). (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/02/jokowi-launches-soekarno-hatta-airport-train.html

Mysticism & the supernatural

Paranormal 'expert' confirms viral photo of freaky 'ghost' to be authentic; it

Coconuts Jakarta - January 2, 2018

If you ever needed convincing that there is always a rational explanation for any supposedly "supernatural" phenomena, particularly in superstitious Indonesia, then perhaps this story will be the nail in the coffin for hantu myths and theories.

On Friday, police in Probolinggo, East Java, carried out a vice raid at a karaoke joint in the city. The photo above, taken during the raid, immediately went viral in Indonesia as many thought that one of the female karaoke attendants sitting in the background was a ghost – one that apparently wanted to show off her grotesque face for the camera.

The photo got so much national media attention (in the absence of real news during the holiday, perhaps) that Detik sought the expert opinion of a so-called "paranormal" from Probolinggo for an explanation.

Being a person whose job is to mainly come up with convenient explanations for strange occurrences, the paranormal said that the woman herself isn't a ghost, but that a supernatural being had obscured her face on purpose.

"So when the photo was taken, (the being) covered up the face of the woman," Ahmad Hasyim, the "paranormal," was quoted as telling Detik on Saturday.

Hasyim then added that the being is a jinn (Islamic genie) who took the form of a kuntilanak (a female vampiric ghost in Indonesian mythology, somewhat resembling the ghost from The Ring in appearance).

Hasyim's ghost-busting street cred unfortunately took a massive hit as the police confirmed that there was no jinn or ghost of any shape or form in the photo, just a woman wearing a black floral pattern veil.

"When the photo was taken, the veil was used to cover up the (karaoke attendant's) face. As for the glowing eyes, that was caused by the camera phone's flash," Probolinggo Police Chief Alfian Nurrizal said yesterday in a statement on the police department's official website.

"We hope the public will stop speculating and spreading this hoax about a 'ghost sighting' photo that could disturb the public."

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/paranormal-expert-confirms-viral-photo-freaky-ghost-authentic-wasnt/

Armed forces & defense

TNI commander appoints new Kostrad chief

Jakarta Post - January 5, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto has appointed Lt. Gen. Agus Kriswanto as the chief of the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad).

Agus, formerly the head of the Army's doctrine, education and training division, replaces Let. Gen. Edy Rahmayadi, who is set to run in the North Sumatra gubernatorial race.

Former TNI commander Gatot Nurmantyo had previously named Sriwijaya Military Commander Maj. Gen. Sudirman to the post in an order that came to light a day after Hadi was announced as Gatot's replacement.

Hadi canceled the order on Dec. 19, 2017, saying the call to undo Gatot's reshuffle was made after an evaluation of human resources and the needs of the military in facing future challenges.

"The evaluation was based on professionalism and a merit system," he said on Dec. 20. "In the development of a military career, there is no such thing as 'like' and 'dislike.'"

Considered to be one of the most strategic command positions in the military, the Kostrad chief is capable of mobilizing a strike force of more than 40,000 personnel. (kmt/ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/05/tni-commander-appoints-new-kostrad-chief.html

10 TNI members named suspects in La Gode murder

Tempo - January 5, 2018

Jakarta – The Ternate Military Police Detachment (Denpom) has named 10 people as suspects for allegedly torturing and abusing a man to his death. The 10 people are military officers.

"The ten suspects are members of the TNI," the Ternate Denpom Commander Lt. Col. Ali Mustofa said told Tempo yesterday.

He did not reveal the suspects' identities. He said that the case files will soon be submitted to the military court to be prosecuted and tried.

In October last year, La Gode (31) – a resident of Taliabu, North Maluku – was found dead in the military's detainment post. There were suspicions that he was abused by officers of the military and the police.

La Gode was arrested under suspicion of stealing grated cassava, worth Rp25,000. He had escaped to meet his wife, Yanti (27), and told her that he was tortured while being detained at the TNI security post in Banau.

On October 23, the Pos Lede Police, members of the TNI, and members of the Bintara Pembina Desa arrested La Gode. He was taken to the TNI security post.

A day later, he was found dead, his entire body had lashes and incision wounds, eight of his teeth missing, and his toe nails pulled out. An autopsy was held on December 14.

Ali said the Denpom would strike a full investigation over La Gode's murder. He added that the trial at the Military Court will be open for public.

– Hussein Abri Dongoran

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/05/055914591/10-TNI-Members-Named-Suspects-in-La-GodeMurder

National security & intelligence

Budi Gunawan retires as police officer, keeps job as BIN chief

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2018

Jakarta – National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian is re-assigning 32 retiring police officers, including State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Gen. Budi Gunawan.

Budi is set to retire as a high-ranking officer at the National Police's Security Intelligence Agency (Baintelkam), but will keep his post as BIN chief, according to a National Police statement released on Friday.

National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Muhammad Iqbal confirmed the reshuffle as part of the officers' retirement.

"Budi will be retiring as an active officer, but he will remain as BIN chief because [the BIN position] is not based on his position at the National Police," Iqbal said on Friday as quoted by kompas.com.

Among the re-assigned officers are senior officer Brig. Gen Didik Purnomo, senior officer Brig. Gen. Suprayitno and Insp. Gen. Arief Dharmawan. (nmn/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/06/budi-gunawan-retires-as-police-officer-keeps-job-as-bin-chief.html

New cyber agency chief apologizes gaffe, says he was testing public reaction

Coconuts Jakarta - January 4, 2018

Indonesia's newly appointed Cyber Body and National Encryption Agency (BSSN) chief Djoko Setiado didn't exactly have the best first day at work yesterday, telling reporters following his inauguration by President Joko Widodo that he would instruct the agency to eradicate hoax news stories but allow "positive" ones.

His strange statement was instantly ridiculed by many, with the hashtag #HoaxMembangun (productive hoaxes) becoming the top trending topic on Twitter yesterday afternoon, a status it still held this morning this morning. We especially like this tweet comparing #HoaxMembangun to an infamous post-truth phrase coined by a certain U.S. counselor to the president.

Aside from the online ridicule, politicians have also jumped on their criticism of Djoko, with one member of parliament correctly pointing out that spreading fake news or hoaxes online is a violation of the country's Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), no matter the intended merit.

In light of all the criticism, one would think Djoko would offer a sincere apology so we can get on with our lives. Instead, in his first clarification to Kompas, he defended the existence of "positive" hoaxes.

"If (the hoax is intended to) bring down the government, is inappropriate, that's what we forbid and what we'll silence. If the hoax is positive, to criticize, I think that's fine," Djoko said, as quoted by Kompas yesterday.

So we should criticize the government based on falsehoods? Doesn't that defeat the very essence of criticism?

In any case, Djoko later conceded his position on hoaxes and offered a public apology, albeit one that with an evasive tone.

"It was just a style, I want to know how perceptive people were to my statement. It turns out they were extraordinarily perceptive, so I'm proud. But the public reaction (to the statement) was too serious," he said.

"The lesson is, it was a socialization to the public that there was an appointment of a BSSN chief. If I had gone too far, I, as a human being, must apologize."

So, did we all pass the test, or did Djoko's apology fail miserably?

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesias-new-cyber-agency-chief-apologizes-hoaxmembangun-gaffe-says-testing-public-reaction/

Cyber security crucial for Indonesia: Wiranto

Tempo - January 4, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto has expressed his appreciation that Indonesia had finally got a National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN), as cyber security is a must for the nation.

The cybersecurity agency is crucial for Indonesia in responding to the global, regional, and national developments, he said on Wednesday. Previously, cybersecurity was handled by a cyber desk in Wiranto's office.

Although the BSSN chief is directly accountable to President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), the coordination on cybersecurity, which involves BSSN, the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI), the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), the National Counter Terrorism Agency (BNPT) and the National Narcotic Agency (BNN), is under Wiranto.

Meanwhile, Jokowi installed Major General of the Indonesian Army, Djoko Setiadi, as head of the BSSN at the State Palace on Wednesday.

Setiadi, the former chief of the State Code Agency, was sworn in by the president in the presence of Vice President Jusuf Kalla, several cabinet ministers, and some high-ranking government officials.

Also present at the occasion were Chief of the People's Consultative Assembly Zulkifli Hasan; Deputy Chief of the Constitutional Court Anwar Usman; Governor of Bank Indonesia, the central bank, Agus Martowardojo; Military Chief Hadi Tjahjanto; Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto; Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung; and Chief of the Presidential Staff Teten Masduki.

Djoko's inauguration was in accordance with Presidential Regulation No. 53 of 2017, signed on May 19, 2017, on the establishment of BSSN. Under the regulation, the BSSN chief possesses ministerial-level authority.

The BSSN is a non-ministerial government agency, which is directly accountable to the president and is tasked with detecting and preventing cybercrimes through an effective and efficient cybersecurity system by using and consolidating all related elements.

Setiadi was born in Surakarta. After graduating from high school in 1977, he enrolled at the State Encryption Academy. He had served as head of the National Encryption Agency for seven years and had earlier held several positions in various government institutions.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/04/055914544/Cyber-Security-Crucial-for-indonesia-Wiranto

Jokowi wants tighter, wider cyber security

Tempo - January 4, 2018

Jakarta – President Joko Widodo or Jokowi has requested for the cyber security to be tightened and expanded this year. The president made the request when attending the swearing-on ceremony of Maj. Gen. Djoko Setiadi as chief of the National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN) at the State Palace on Wednesday.

Cyber security will be expanded not only for government agencies and state-owned enterprises, but also for citizens.

According to the Widodo, the establishment of BSSN, which will serve as an umbrella agency for all cyber units of ministries and institutions, was highly needed. "Especially in anticipating the rapid growth of cyberspace," he said.

In carrying out its duties, BSSN will coordinate with other institutions, such as the TNI, the Police, and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN).

BSSN chief Djoko Setiadi said he is ready to carry out the president's instructions and focus on securing the cyberspace in Indonesia by "using technology to control cyber activities."

He also promised to take actions against hoaxes and fake news posters. He said that there are positive and negative hoaxes, and those that are positive will not be prosecuted.

The Communication and Information Ministry's director general for informatics applications Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan is confident that the BSSN will be effective in doing its job as the nation's cyberspace agency that coordinates other cyber units. he also believes that the BSSN can tackle and prevent potentials of cyber-attacks – especially ahead of the general elections.

– Amirullah Suhada, Danang Firmanto

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/04/055914561/Jokowi-Wants-Tighter-Wider-Cyber-Security

Indonesia's new cyber agency chief says he'll eradicate hoaxes, but allow

Coconuts Jakarta - January 3, 2018

Is there such a thing as a "positive" hoax news story? Well, according to the man tasked with eradicating them in Indonesia, there just might be.

Today, President Joko Widodo officially named Djoko Setiadi chief of the newly formed Cyber Body and National Encryption Agency (BSSN), a government organization tasked with ensuring cyber security in the country. Djoko himself was previously head of the Encryption Agency (Lemsaneg) before it was dissolved into the BSSN.

In his first interview with reporters following today's inauguration, Djoko said that the new agency will play its part in eradicating hoaxes in Indonesia, especially in the lead-up to the 2018 nationwide regional elections and next year's presidential election.

Makes sense, particularly as legitimately fake news items like vaccines supposedly containing traces of pig DNA have strengthened the anti-vaccines movement in Indonesia in recent years, which is said to be a contributing factor to the large number of deaths in the recent diphtheria outbreak.

But here's where it gets confusing. Djoko seems to be selective in what hoaxes he wants to eradicate.

"Surely we'll look at the hoaxes, as there are positive and negative ones. I implore to you my friends, the sons and daughters of Indonesia, that if the hoax is productive then by all means (spread it)," Djoko said, as quoted by Kompas.

So we're supposed to spread "positive" hoaxes? Got it. "But don't protest too much (online), or insult others. I think it's best if we decrease all those expressions that are inappropriate," he added.

A hoax's merit is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. It might suit certain people's agenda just fine (looking at you, Trump), and is therefore positive for them, but we're going to go ahead and say it: blurring the line between truth and fiction is a massive net negative for the public at large.

If the BSSN serves as their own moral compass in determining the merits of a hoax story, who's to say they won't censor all hoaxes out there except those that paint the government in a positive light?

Unless Djoko Setiadi and BSSN commit to eradicating all hoaxes, then this new agency runs the very realistic risk of being used as a political tool, which is arguably just as bad as letting people spread hoaxes for political gain in the first place.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesias-new-cyber-agency-chief-says-hell-eradicate-hoaxes-allow-positive-ones/

Jokowi swears in new chief of national cyber agency

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2018

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instated Djoko Setiadi as the chairman of the newly established National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN), responsible for the nation's cyberspace.

Djoko, former chairman of the National Encryption Agency (Lemsaneg), was sworn in at the State Palace on Wednesday.

The long-awaited installation of the national cyber agency chief follows the presidential regulation signed on Dec. 16, 2017, which established the agency under the president's authority. Initially, the BSSN was set up as a state institution under the supervision of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister.

"This is a very important agency that the state needs, especially to anticipate the rapidly developing cyber world," Jokowi said at Wednesday's ceremony.

Djoko said the BSSN would also take a role in tackling the rampant cases of hoaxes and fake news on social media, particularly ahead of this year's regional elections and the 2019 presidential and legislative elections. He added that the agency would ensure that the elections would run smoothly in a healthy environment to produce the best leaders.

"Don't [make] insulting posts and those that are not proper for spreading. We must reduce that kind of thing," Djoko said after the ceremony.

The agency is to cooperate with the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the Communication and Information Ministry, as well as the National Police, in managing those who spread fake news and hoaxes.

"We will take action. We will first warn them to stop it. But if they persist [in the activity], then we will impose [sanctions]," he said. (vla)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/03/jokowi-swears-in-new-chief-of-national-cyber-agency.html

Foreign affairs & trade

Indonesia's foreign reserves at record high

Jakarta Globe - January 5, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia's foreign exchange reserves increased to a record high of $130 billion in December from $125.97 billion a month earlier, Bank Indonesia's governor Agus Martowardojo said on Thursday (04/01).

The government's global bond issuance of $4 billion last month helped bump the reserves, which had been in decline in October and November.

"As of December, the reserves were at $130 billion. The details will be announced later," Agus told reporters. The central bank has scheduled another announcement next Monday.

The country's strong reserves is one of the main reasons why credit rating agency Fitch Ratings had decided to raise Indonesia's long-term sovereign debt rating to "BBB with a stable outlook," a notch above investment grade, in December.

The agency said the reserves provide Indonesia with enough buffer to shield it from global financial shocks.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/indonesias-foreign-reserves-record-high/

Rupiah range shrinks to 20-year low as authorities stifle trade

Bloomberg - January 2, 2018

Liau Y-Sing, Jakarta – While volatility in many financial markets has been rising over recent weeks, one notoriously unpredictable currency has been dead in the water.

The trading range for Indonesia's rupiah shrank to the least in two decades last year and volatility all but vanished as the central bank made maintaining the currency's stability its chief mission.

All this in a year when there were plenty of reasons to be bullish: a narrowing current-account deficit, rising bond inflows and two rating upgrades have helped to cement the turnaround of an economy that was part of Morgan Stanley's "Fragile Five."

Bank Indonesia has introduced a range of measures to regulate foreign-exchange transactions involving the rupiah, including a requirement for lenders to have written internal guidelines in conducting hedging transactions. Governor Agus Martowardojo said in November the central bank will continue to intervene to maintain currency stability.

"Bank Indonesia tightened its FX rules before Malaysia, and even before China," said Andy Ji, Asia currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Singapore. "While short of implementing outright capital-account restrictions, the rules are stringent, which explains the very subdued exchange-rate movement. So in that regard, it does affect investors in terms of inflows."

The rupiah traded between 13,145 and 13,645 per dollar last year. The range of 500 rupiah compares with 1,065 for 2016 and as much as 11,599 during the Asian financial crisis in 1998.

One-month implied volatility for the dollar-rupiah currency pair dropped to 3.585 in September, the lowest in a decade before ending the year at 4.1950. It was as high as 26.05 in 2011.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/02/rupiah-range-shrinks-to-20-year-low-as-authorities-stifle-trade.html

Tourism & hospitality

Bali accuses competitors of spreading hoaxes about volcano

Jakarta Post - January 8, 2018

Jakarta – The Bali provincial administration has accused countries that have destinations similar to Bali of spreading hoaxes about the impact of the volcanic activity at Mount Agung in trying benefit from recent disruption.

While volcanic activity at Mount Agung has been declining, they [other countries] spread [false] information, claiming that Bali is a dangerous place to visit, said the head of Bali Development Planning Agency (Bappeda) I Putu Astawa in Sanur, Bali, on Monday as reported by kompas.com.

"The countries of our competitors spread [misleading information]. It has been building a bad image about Bali," said Putu.

Therefore, he called on the government to counter these hoaxes by spreading real information about Bali all over the globe. He called on those involved in tourism to take part in spreading positive news about Bali.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) on Jan. 4 narrowed the danger area surrounding the volcano to six kilometers from Mount Agung's crater, from the previous 10 km. However, the agency still maintains the highest alert status (Level 4) for the volcano.

"We have to jointly counter false information to explain the real conditions in Bali. In fact, volcanic activity is declining," he added.

Mount Agung erupted in late November, spreading volcanic ash to nearby areas and forcing I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport and Lombok International Airports to close for several days.

BNPB said 70,610 people were being accommodated at 240 displaced person shelters, while many others have been allowed to return to their houses. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/08/bali-accuses-competitors-of-spreading-hoaxes-about-volcano.html

Mining & energy

Renewable energy production exceeds 2017 target

Jakarta Post - January 8, 2018

Jakarta – The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has announced that, as of December 2017, renewable energy contributed to 12.62 percent of the total national electricity supply, exceeding the 2017 state budget target of 11.96 percent.

The country's renewable energy supply comes from state-electricity firm PLN and private companies.

"The energy mostly comes from hydropower plants and geothermal energy plants," ministry spokesman Agung Pribadi said as reported by tribunnews.com on Monday.

He added that hydropower plants contributed to 7.27 percent of the renewable energy produced, followed by geothermal power plants at 5 percent and other sources at 0.25 percent.

He further explained that the hydropower plants produced 16,793 GWh, 11,154 GWh of which was produced by PLN and 5.639 GWh by independent power producers (IPP).

Meanwhile, as of November 2017, geothermal power plants produced 11.560 GWh, while other renewable energy resources produced 579 GWh.

He said the government had signed last year 68 power purchase agreements (PPA) with private companies to produce renewable energy power plants with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts.

"We encourage efficient renewable energy power plant projects. We assure that the 68 PPAs signed in 2017 will immediately be financed and constructed soon," he added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/08/renewable-energy-production-exceeds-2017-target.html

Indonesia to stop using state budget for clean energy projects

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2018

Jakarta – The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry said the government had stopped using the state budget to finance renewable energy-based power plant projects, following reports of damaged power plants in a number of regions.

On Wednesday, the ministry's energy conservation and renewable energy director-general, Rida Mulyana, said the development of clean energy projects would be handled by state-owned electricity company PLN.

The ministry had allocated Rp 3.01 trillion (US$224 million) from 2011 to 2017 to construct clean energy power plants. The projects have provided 97,000 households with electricity across Indonesia.

The Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) said the damages to 112 government-constructed power plants totaled Rp 467 billion.

Rida had previously stated that only 68 renewable energy plants were damaged. He explained that 55 projects, worth Rp 261 billion, had sustained minor damages, while 13 others, worth Rp 48.85 billion, sustained heavy damages.

Rida said heavy damages at some of the plants had been caused by landslides, flooding or lightning and the plants could not be fully operated. He did not elaborate on the condition of plants that sustained minor damages. (fny/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/04/indonesia-to-stop-using-state-budget-for-clean-energy-projects.html

Freeport given lifeline until June 2018

Jakarta Post - January 2, 2018

Viriya P. Singgih, Jakarta – The government has once again extended the temporary permit of miner PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) until June 30, indicating that both parties were unable to settle their dispute before the Jan. 10 deadline.

The current administration has been involved in intense negotiations with PTFI, a subsidiary of American mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, since early 2017 over the latter's future operations in the country.

While both parties have been negotiating the detailed arrangements, the government had allowed the gold and copper miner to resume exporting copper concentrate by issuing a temporary special mining permit (IUPK) backdated to Feb. 10, 2017 and valid for eight months until Oct. 10, 2017.

As they could not reach a settlement by October last year, it was decided to extend the permit until Jan. 10, before giving the latest extension.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Tuesday that the new deadline would provide certainty for PTFI's operations while talks were ongoing.

"The extension of the IUPK until June 2018 is part of our efforts to finalize four key points in our negotiations [with PTFI]," Sri Mulyani Indrawati said, referring to contract extension, divestment, smelter construction and fiscal and legal certainty for Freeport's planned long-term investment.

"[The negotiation is] still ongoing, but it is almost done," she said, adding that the government expected to issue a permanent permit before the designated timeframe.

Without such an extension, PTFI, which has been granted an export permit effective until February, would not have been able to export after the Jan. 10 deadline. (lnd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/02/freeport-given-lifeline-until-june-2018.html

Hours-long power outage in Jakarta tests local businesses

Jakarta Globe - January 2, 2018

Dion Bisara & Sarah Yuniarni, Jakarta – A four hour power outage in Jakarta on Tuesday (02/01) helped expose chronic vulnerability in the country's basic infrastructure that has proven costly to local businesses.

Most of the capital and surrounding areas were without power from 07.00 a.m.-11.00 a.m. in the morning, as offices and manufacturing plants returned to normal operations after four days of New Year's celebrations.

State-controlled utility company Perusahaan Listrik Negara, which has a monopoly on power transmission in the country, said that 17 out of 80 major transmission hubs in Jakarta went offline – for an unknown reason – and caused power outages in most areas around the capital.

PLN needed around three hours to reroute the power using other hubs, with priority given to public facilities like hospitals, public transport and government offices, said Dini Sulistyawati, a manager at PLN Distribusi Jakarta Raya.

The blackout stands as a painful reminder for more than 361,000 manufactures and businesses in Jakarta to keep backup power systems ready in case of emergencies.

"We mitigate such risks by setting up electrical generators in each of our offices," said Haryono Tjahjarijadi, the president director of Bank Mayapada. "Of course it means additional costs for the generator itself and for the fuel," Haryono said.

The outage disrupted the IDX trading system early in the morning, but the bourse managed to kick off backup power generators before stock trading started at 09.00 a.m., IDX spokesman Yulianto Adi Sadono said.

For businesses that are less prepared, disruption to operations could cost much more than the price of generators or fuel.

The World Bank's Enterprise Surveys found that Indonesia's businesses lost 1.9 percent of total sales due to outages in 2015, down slightly from 2.2 percent six years earlier.

In comparison, businesses in neighboring countries like the Philippines and Malaysia lost only 0.8 percent and 1.8 percent of their sales, respectively. Vietnamese firms saw 2.2 percent of their sales wiped out by power blackouts, while businesses in Thailand, which were surveyed in 2016, lost 4.1 percent of their sales.

Toll road operator Jasa Marga saw its company's electronic payment system – which it has required for all users since October – ceased to function and caused traffic jams in some major toll gates, enraging many of its customers.

"We are sorry for the inconvenience, Pondok Ranji toll gate is now under maintenance," Jasa Marga said on its official Twitter account, referring to one of its toll gates in Jakarta's outskirts. The company said in a later statement that it managed to keep disruptions to a minimum by deploying mobile generators to impacted locations.

Other business, like telecom operators Smartfren Telecom and Indosat, invested in expensive backup power equipment to ensure uninterrupted operations of their networks, seeing outages as a common risk they have to face.

"Each time we experience an outage, the system switches to our own generator. The process just takes milliseconds," Smartfren Yodi Hartanto said

"The switch has not failed us so far and we really do not have any complaints about power. But, it is better if [the outage] just doesn't happen in the first place," Yodi said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/hours-long-power-outage-jakarta-tests-local-businesses/

Infrastructure & development

Indonesia to monetize infrastructure projects through LCS scheme

Jakarta Post - January 2, 2018

Jakarta – The Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister plans to monetize a number of infrastructure projects through the Limited Concession Scheme (LCS), kontan.co.id reported on Monday.

Currently, the office is preparing a presidential regulation on the legal basis of the policy.

Undersecretary for industry and commerce Elen Setiadi said on Sunday that his office was still waiting for proposals from state-owned enterprises (SOEs) on which infrastructure projects could be monetized.

"Next Week, maybe, we can finalize [the plans] after Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin [Nasution] agrees on what projects can be monetized," Elen said.

Meanwhile, the undersecretary for infrastructure acceleration and regional development Wahyu Utomo said the draft would be discussed with a number of related ministries before being handed over to the Presidential Office.

He declined to mention the projects that would be monetized through the LCS scheme. "The Transportation Ministry proposed airports, while the State-owned Enterprises Ministry wanted road projects to be included," he added.

Previously, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said a number of assets like Tanjung Perak Port in Surabaya, Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta, Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Banten and I Gusti Ngurah Rai in Bali were among the projects that could be monetized.

Under the LCS, existing infrastructure will be offered to investors and granted as operational concessions. The funds raised would be used to finance other infrastructure projects. (srs/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/02/indonesia-to-monetize-infrastructure-projects-through-lcs-scheme.html

Economy & investment

Jokowi questions Indonesia's slow economic growth

Jakarta Post - January 6, 2018

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has questioned the reasons behind Indonesia's sluggish growth despite receiving praise from various international organizations for its efforts to improve the economy.

Indonesia received an investment grade status from all global rating agencies, including a recent upgrade to BBB from Fitch Ratings Inc., the President said, adding that the World Bank had also improved Indonesia's ranking in the ease of doing business (EODB) to 72 from 140 in 2014.

Meanwhile, the Jakarta Composite Index (JCI) broke its record several times in 2017, increasing by 19.99 percent to 6,355.66.

However, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati estimated the economy to grow by 5.05 percent last year, lower than the 5.2 percent target stipulated in the 2017 state budget.

"[Indonesia's] EODB ranking jumped, its stock market index skyrocketed, inflation was low, the state budget is safe and ratings have gotten better. Everything is good. What should we do?" he said in the front of ministers during a Cabinet meeting at the State Palace in Jakarta on Friday.

"I compare [Indonesia's] condition to that of a sick person who does not have any symptoms – cholesterol levels are good, there is no heart problem [...] and the lungs are good," Jokowi said.

He then instructed the ministers to find out what the problem was so that Indonesia "could [grow] faster."

Jokowi promised during his 2014 presidential campaign to boost Indonesia's economic growth to 7 percent. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/06/jokowi-questions-indonesias-slow-economic-growth.html

Indonesian economy in good health despite rising oil prices: Central Bank

Jakarta Globe - January 4, 2018

Adinda Putri, Jakarta – Bank Indonesia – or BI, the country's central bank – said local economy remains in check despite rising global oil prices. Nevertheless, BI also warned against a worsening in the food price volatility index, which may increase inflation.

Oil prices jumped on Wednesday (03/01) to new two-and-a-half year highs as robust output in the United States and Russia balanced tensions from a sixth day of unrest in OPEC member Iran, a Reuters report said.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures stood $60.87 a barrel late on Wednesday, up 49 cents from their last close and their highest level since June 2015, the report said.

Meanwhile, Brent crude futures – the international benchmark for oil prices – were at $67 a barrel, up 43 cents but still trailing Tuesday's high of $67.29 that was the most since May 2015.

"Inflation [in Indonesia] will peak at 3.5 percent plus or minus 1 percent (2.5 percent to 4.5 percent) in 2018. Rising oil prices are one thing we need to be cautious of," BI Governor Agus Martowardojo told reporters on Wednesday in Jakarta.

Agus said higher oil prices are a positive for the government's budget, since that means the country can earn more from its oil and gas exports.

He said the central bank is aware the government is unlikely to revise its current oil subsidy plan, which means the price of gasoline at retailers will remain unchanged.

Higher fuel prices typically lift inflation, causing multiplier effects on various prices of goods.

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said last month the government had decided not to raise fuel and electricity prices in the first three months of 2018, fearing that doing so may cause shortage in fuel supply.

The central bank governor issued a cautious note on the prospect of volatile food prices, which may spike inflation further. Indonesia's annual inflation rate picked up in December, the first time it rose since June.

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) announced on Tuesday that the country's headline consumer price index (CPI) increased 3.61 percent in December from a year earlier, a rise from the one-year low of 3.30 percent in November.

December's inflationary pace was higher than market consensus as analysts in a Reuters poll forecast an annual inflation of 3.4 percent for December.

The food price volatility index – part of the consumer price index (CPI) – showed an increase of 0.71 percent year-on-year in December. That compared to a 1.24 percent contraction in November.

Analysts said heavy rains in some of the country's food-producing regions added to the volatility of food prices during the Christmas and New Year holiday seasons.

"[But] macroeconomic [indicators] look good and strong.... Growth should hover around five percent [in 2018]," the central bank governor said.

– With additional reporting from Reuters

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/indonesian-economy-good-health-despite-rising-oil-prices-central-bank/

Indonesia's manufacturing PMI signals contraction for the first time since July

Nikkei Asian Review - January 2, 2018

Tokyo – The Nikkei Indonesia Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, fell to 49.3 in December from 50.4 in November.

A reading above 50 indicates economic expansion, while a reading below 50 points toward contraction. It was the first time the PMI had posted below the neutral 50.0 level since July.

"Latest data indicated that subdued client demand let to renewed falls in both output and new orders," said Aashna Dodhia, economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.

"Furthermore, new export orders declined for the first time since July amid reports of reduced international demand for Indonesian manufacturing goods," Dodhia added. (Nikkei)

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Economy/Indonesia-s-manufacturing-PMI-signals-contraction-for-the-first-time-since-July

BPS records 3.61 percent inflation in 2017

Jakarta Post - January 2, 2018

Jakarta – The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) on Tuesday recorded the country's inflation rate at 3.61 percent, lower than the 4.3 percent target set in the 2017 State Budget.

"We can say that volatile foods were controllable in 2017. We need to maintain this performance in 2018," said BPS head Suhariyanto at a press conference in Jakarta.

This year's inflation rate, however, is higher than the figures in the last two years – 3.02 percent in 2016 and 3.35 in 2015.

BPS deputy for statistics distribution and service Yunita Rusanti said the increase in administered prices, particularly the electricity tariff increases, contributed significantly to the inflation rate for the whole of 2017.

"Electricity price increases were dominantly contributing to inflation. This year, the contribution of rice price hikes to inflation was less than its contribution in the last two years," she added.

Inflation in December was recorded at 0.71 percent, much higher than the figure in November, which was recorded at 0.20 percent. This inflation in December 2017 was also higher than the figure in the same month, last year, which was recorded at 0.42.

BPS says volatile foods contributed 0.46 percent in December, while transportation, communication and financial services contributed 0.14 percent to inflation.

The agency records price increases of several food commodities such as rice, chicken, fish, chili and eggs. (srs/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/02/bps-records-3-61-percent-inflation-in-2017.html

Taxation & state budget

Tax revenue meets 91% of 2017 target: Minister

Jakarta Post - January 3, 2018

Jakarta – Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has announced that Rp 1.34 quadrillion (US$93.79 quadrillion) in taxes had been collected by the yearend, or 91 percent of the Rp 1.45 quadrillion revenue target as set in the 2017 State Budget.

While the government failed to achieve its target, Sri Mulyani said the figure was the best performance in the last three years.

"It is the greatest achievement in the last three years," Sri Mulyani said in Jakarta on Tuesday, adding that tax collection achieved 83.3 percent of the revenue target in 2015 and 83.5 percent in 2016.

Meanwhile,, the government spent Rp 2 quadrillion, or 93.8 percent of the targeted 2017 expenditure.

The minister said government spending on goods was 96.8 percent, compared to 85.3 percent in 2016 and 89.8 percent in 2015, adding that spending on social assistance reached 100 percent.

Sri Mulyani said the social assistance spending had made a positive impact in helping low-income families survive the difficult economic conditions.

She also noted that the state budget deficit was 2.57 percent. "This is below our projection of 2.92 percent." (sha/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/03/tax-revenue-meets-91-of-2017-target-minister.html

Finance Minister to take 'softer approach' on tax collection

Jakarta Post - January 2, 2018

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has announced that the government will replace the infamous gijzeling policy – taking taxpayers hostage until they had paid their taxes – with a softer approach.

"Gijzeling is a method for collecting taxes, [and] not the target. We can implement a better approach that does not cause a lot of commotion and fear," she said on Tuesday at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta.

The hostage-taking approach was used frequently under the two-year tenure of the previous Director General of Taxation, Ken Dwijugiasteadi. Read also: No day without taking tax evaders hostage: Top tax official

The use of gijzeling intensified in the few months before Ken's tenure ended, with the former tax chief even saying that no day would pass without taking taxpayers hostage.

The controversial approach prompted protests from many businesspeople. Sri Mulyani, in response to the protests, instructed Ken's successor, Robert Pakpahan, to take a softer approach.

"I agree with [a softer approach]. I have asked the new tax chief to watch and listen to the complaints from businesspeople," she said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/02/finance-minister-to-take-softer-approach-on-tax-collection.html

Focus

Like biting into a durian: Indonesia's weird architecture of the '50s and '60s

Sydney Morning Herald - January 7, 2018

Jewel Topsfield – On the impoverished Indonesian island of Madura is a house that looks like it has taken an acid trip.

It has exuberant zig-zag awnings, a textured fake chimney, herringbone-patterned teak doors and candy-pink oblique boxed windows. Jakarta-based photographer Tariq Khalil calls it the Hansel and Gretel house.

"There is a bit of deco, a bit of '50s, there is a bit of everything in there," he enthuses. "It's an extreme art form from an extreme era."

Khalil was determined to find out the story behind this "mad" house. He learned it was the brainchild of local tobacco baron Haji Samsul, who was intoxicated by the fancy mid-century modern style of houses he encountered on his business trips to central Java.

There were no architects in Indonesia – let alone Madura – following the expulsion of the Dutch in 1957. So Samsul made sketches and gave them to local builders, who in 1967 created his dream home.

"This – albeit elite – habit soon spread in and around Madura's big towns where builders and owners freely rolled in elements of art deco and mid-century modern," Khalil says. "Today they would carry an aesthetic health warning," he quips.

Khalil is obsessed with this unique but obscure architectural style. Called Jengki (from the word Yankee), it briefly flourished throughout Indonesia in the 1950s and 60s.

"I feel like a weirdo," Khalil says. "I am interested in something that is just invisible to everyone. It's there in front of your eyes. Every town in Indonesia around in the '50s has this stuff."

When Khalil first came across images of Jengki-style architecture from the Indonesian city of Bandung a decade ago, its "bold lines and outlandish angles" reminded him of The Flintstones cartoons. The aesthetic struck him as unusual but "kind of familiar".

Jengki is Indonesia's version of mid-century modernism, characterised by unusual shapes, such as pentagons, asymmetrical roofs, cut-out doors and windows, tilted columns or walls and air vents – crucial for the tropics – in playful circles, trapeziums or diamonds.

Khalil was beguiled by the fusion of geometric forms from southern California. A touch of Hollywood – fast-food drive-ins and flamboyant motels – was transplanted to Java.

He compares the visual assault to the first time someone bites into a durian – the South-east Asian fruit that has the texture of custard and (some say) a smell like rotting flesh – "something so wrong, but kind of pleasing". "Am I enjoying this or am I not? For me, personally I really liked it."

And so began an Indonesian odyssey that took Khalil – whose alter ego is an environmental consultant from Glasgow with a "healthy dislike of travel and no understanding of architecture" – to almost 50 cities and towns, from Sumatra in Indonesia's west to Papua in the east.

While working on mining projects he would sneak away and sweet-talk his way into buildings across the archipelago. "Why wouldn't you do something like this in Indonesia, when everyone just opens their doors?"

Khalil's modus operandi was always to follow the money. "You go to a town and the first thing you do is go to Chinatown. Where are the traders? Where are the shop houses – all those ugly ones with the metal grilles and the battered tiles? They were once very, very beautiful. Around there, you are going to get some of the [mid-century] stuff that might still have survived."

In South Jakarta, Khalil once taught a maid to cook Indian food in exchange for cutting down trees and hedges to photograph a diplomat's '60s townhouse.

In Semarang, a port city on the north coast of Java, he paid street vendors to move so he could photograph Apotek Sputnik, a former pharmacy with space-age windows and a rocket-cum-satellite above the door, that opened the year after the Soviets' Sputnik satellite launch in 1957.

Once a manufacturer of powdered drugs – the supply of Western medicines dwindled after the nationalisation of foreign pharmaceutical firms in the late 1950s – Apotek Sputnik served an elite lifestyle now usurped by pharmacy chains.

"The Sputnik is a bizarre relic upstaged by street carts. It should really be a bar," Khalil notes sadly.

Semarang, an important colonial port city, is prime hunting ground for Jengki style, given its history of sugar and tobacco plantations. "These commodity barons all wanted to have a house up in the hills, a mansion, a townhouse in the city."

A sketch community group, Orart Oret, researched the influence of Jengki as part of a biography on one of the pioneers of the style, Oei Tjong An, who once built a house in Semarang with windows at the bottom.

"A fellow architect questioned why the windows were at the bottom when they served no function," says Adeline Gunawan, who heads the research division of Orart Oret. "But Tjong An said they were beautiful and artistic."

Unfortunately the bottom-windowed house, which sounds like something from a Dr Seuss book, has been demolished and replaced by a bank.

Gunawan worries Jengki-style homes will disappear altogether if owners can't afford the maintenance costs or choose to demolish them.

"The government must get involved in preservation efforts," she says. "Our research went for two years. Every two weeks we wandered around to look for Jengki houses which were in good condition and we preserved them by way of drawing."

Jengki-style architecture is widely regarded as an expression of political freedom following Indonesia's proclamation of independence on August 17, 1945.

Some have even speculated that the pentagon shape in many of these buildings was inspired by the Indonesian state ideology of Pancasila, which has five principles including a belief in one God, democracy and unity.

Gunawan says the unique style was a form of rebellion against the "neat, well-structured" buildings of the former Dutch colonialists.

"Being nationalists... they created buildings without any rules, asymmetrical. Perhaps some people called it norak (tasteless) but then that style became popular as Jengki."

The irony of this nation-building exercise, according to Khalil, was the Jengki-style prototype was designed by Dutch architects and engineers, who were delivering endless projects from 1949 to 1957, "somehow oblivious yet making hay" inside the first president Sukarno's post-revolutionary hothouse.

"They [the Dutch] know the game is up, so they go for this last flourish and it's a crazy flourish. They weren't really welcome here, right? They just fought a bloody war. I like to call it the twilight Indies style. It is architecture for an extreme period."

They built Indonesia's first garden city in Kebayoran Baru, now one of the most affluent areas in Jakarta, with magnificent villas for executives from international firms such as Batavia Oil, Shell's main oil-producing entity in Indonesia.

"It was supposedly a new Indonesia for Indonesians, but it was the exact opposite," Khalil says.

In 1957 the Dutch were finally forced out and their assets nationalised. But Indonesia suddenly found itself without architects.

Much of the design work was taken on by builders and contractors to the Dutch, or sometimes students from the Bandung Institute of Technology, who were influenced by American architecture.

"Now this Jengki stuff goes viral, gets madder and madder and becomes the standard form for success and luxury," Khalil says.

He was surprised by how little had been documented. "Talking to academics, no one really knows about its risky rags-to-riches history. The way to set the record straight was to go back to the owners. The only archive I ever found was in Holland, in Rotterdam. I went to Rotterdam and interviewed an 80-year-old Chinese gentleman, one of the interns who built these houses."

As the distinctive buildings slowly disappear across the archipelago, victims of neglect and disinterest, Khalil has immortalised them in a new coffee-table book, Retronesia: The years of building dangerously, available from this week via Amazon Prime.

The "dangerous" vacuum was filled by the late 1960s, as Indonesia's first wave of homegrown architects began rolling out sober styles of architecture championed by Sukarno.

"As these architects would say [Jengki] is form over function, it is superfluous, it is too flourishy," Khalil says.

"The verve was gone, right? There was just earnest mission: 'We are here to build the country'. What they went on to make was pretty boring."

A remarkable period of architectural creativity in Indonesia was over.

– With Karuni Rompies

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/like-biting-into-a-durian-indonesias-weird-architecture-of-the-50s-and-60s-20180104-h0dtlu.html

Analysis & opinion

Marketing morality a winning strategy for Indonesian hardline groups

Channel News Asia - January 7, 2018

Vedi Hadiz and Inaya Rakhmani, Jakarta – The first anniversary of the largest religiously-driven mass demonstration in Indonesia has just been celebrated by some of the organisations that were its driving force.

Millions of Muslims descended upon Jakarta in December 2016 and joined with large numbers of the city's residents in a rally called the Action to Defend Islam. The demonstrators demanded that then governor of Jakarta Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (better known as Ahok) be stripped of his governorship and put on trial for blaspheming against Islam.

Ahok, who is now in prison, controversially commented on a Quranic verse that suggests Muslims should not appoint a non-Muslim leader. Ahok himself is a Christian and ethnically Chinese.

This makes him part of a social group seen by many in Indonesia to have unfairly benefited from colonial-era policies that concentrated wealth in their hands.

Let down by modernity

The Ahok case shows a link between expressions of Muslim solidarity and resentment of existing socio-economic conditions.

Such resentment is not exclusively held by poor Muslims – many Indonesians, especially the young and educated middle class who have aspirations of upward social mobility, feel let down by the promises of modernity and development instilled through educational and other institutions.

For them, Ahok's controversial programme of urban redevelopment involving mass evictions arguably accentuated the already strong sense of precarious existence that permeates through Indonesian society.

Indonesians' responses to their socio-economic circumstances are increasingly articulated through language of religious morality, which reflects growing levels of piety within Indonesian society and enables the sort of religious solidarity seen in the 2016 protests.

This connection between socio-economic grievances and strength of religious sentiment has facilitated the emergence of a "market of morality" – A space through which religious symbols are consumed and reproduced as an expression of grievance against an unjust status quo.

In Indonesia, religious morality potentially provides a rich cultural resource pool for competing elites to exploit, including in many of the 171 local elections due to take place across the archipelago in 2018. The narrative of oppression, used so well against Ahok, is often employed to rally mass mobilisations of support.

This narrative is one that emphasises the struggles of a virtuous but marginalised majority that forms an ummah (community of believers). The ummah is contrasted against greedy business elites (typically the ethnic Chinese minority) who are in turn backed by corrupt and powerful political figures.

Social injustice?

A survey of 600 people who participated in the Action to Defend Islam rally sheds some light on the link between perceptions of social injustice, adherence to Islamic morality and political action among Indonesians.

Reflecting the youthful nature of the protests, 60 per cent of respondents were in their 20s, 18 per cent were in their 30s and only 14 per cent were over 40 years old.

A slight majority (51 per cent) had completed tertiary education while secondary education was the highest attained by 47 per cent of respondents.

44 per cent reported monthly household expenditures of IDR4.5 million to IDR7 million (approximately US$350 to US$500), which places them in the lower middle-class bracket.

While the anti-Ahok mobilisations of 2016 were spearheaded by hardline groups like the notorious Islamic Defenders Front, nearly 60 per cent of respondents claimed affinity with mainstream Islamic organisations like Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama.

These organisations are usually held up as guardians of moderate forms of religious politics in Indonesia.

This simultaneous support for moderate groups and for actions spearheaded by hardline groups is not so surprising.

When comparing those who veer toward moderate groups and those who veer toward hardline organisations, the survey results show little difference in adherence to opinions on many questions pertaining to Islamic morality.

These include attitudes toward non-Muslims, the role of women in society and what construes religiously acceptable economic activity.

Moderate Muslim organisations are perceived to be incapable of addressing Indonesians' socio-economic anxieties, driving respondents to support the more assertive narratives of marginalisation deployed by hardline Muslim groups.

Interestingly, one-fifth of the survey's respondents felt that not one Islamic organisation represents their interests. This gap explains why hardline narratives are increasingly easier to push into mainstream Muslim politics (previously led by moderate Islamic organisations).

Others as scapegoats

These survey results do not reflect a set of social circumstances that have suddenly come into being. Since the late 1980s, the liberalisation of the Indonesian economy has eroded public institutions and increased competition between individuals in a context largely devoid of social safety nets beyond the family.

But because the market is too abstract to be blamed, the most convenient scapegoats are "others" who are defined as being firmly outside of the toiling majority.

The Ahok case – which displayed strong anti-Chinese sentiment – shows that feelings of resentment toward market injustices can be smoothed over by the idea that the Muslim majority has been systematically marginalised in the competition over economic resources.

It also shows that political elites are ready to take advantage of the economic anxieties of young and educated Muslims.

Issues of inequality and injustice in Indonesia are likely to be increasingly framed on the basis of racial as well as religious identities.

This will only perpetuate the current neglect of how these issues are more fundamentally related to neoliberal transformations and the nature of economic and political power.

[Vedi Hadiz is professor of Asian Studies at the University of Melbourne and an adjunct professor in Indonesia. Inaya Rakhmani is a lecturer in communications in the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Indonesia and an associate at the Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University. This commentary originally appeared in Asian Currents. Read the original here.]

Source: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/commentary-marketing-morality-a-winning-strategy-for-indonesian-9835046

Where is West Papua's struggle for independence from Indonesia headed?

World Politics Review - January 4, 2018

Simon Philpott – John Ondawame greatly admired the independence struggle in East Timor, especially its ability to win active support from people in Europe, the United States and Australia.

But the exiled former fighter, activist and spokesman for West Papuans also longed for the world to take notice of the plight of his people and to see the shared contours of the two conflicts – two ethnically distinct regions of Indonesia longing to break free. Ondawame did not live to see his dream of West Papua's independence fulfilled; he died in 2014. But it is more difficult than ever for the Indonesian government to keep the problems of its most restive province out of sight.

Long mismanaged by successive administrations in Jakarta, West Papua is pushing harder to have its case for independence heard. Now possibly a minority in the province after decades of inward migration from other parts of Indonesia, ethnic Papuans increasingly worry that even a plebiscite, if secured, may not result in a decision in favor of independence. Further delays on a vote only add to their worries. For its part, the Indonesian government is unlikely to ever agree to independence for the resource-rich province, which along with Papua forms the western half of the island of New Guinea in eastern Indonesia.

The immense Grasberg mine in the central Papuan highlands is the main reason why. It is estimated to hold the world's largest supply of gold and its third-largest supply of copper. Freeport-McMoRan, the American mining company that owns and operates the mine, has long been Indonesia's single largest taxpayer. A deal transferring majority ownership of the Grasberg mine to the state-owned PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium is nearing conclusion. The agreement will extend Freeport-McMoRan's rights to mine at the site until 2041 and see new phases of underground mining, as Grasberg's massive open pit is nearly exhausted.

While militarily insignificant, armed pro-Papuan independence guerrillas have responded to the Grasberg deal by stepping up their campaigns in communities around the mine, declaring themselves at war with all the key actors involved with the mine and its protection: the police, military and Freeport. The mine has become a flashpoint against foreign exploitation of West Papuan resources and the Indonesian state's complicity. For the security forces that have long acted with impunity in West Papua, adding layers of grievance to Papuan discontent, increased violence is more an irritant than a serious threat to Indonesia's hold over West Papua. And yet, if unrest leads to a security crackdown and the emergence of documented, visual proof of Indonesian state violence against guerrillas or civilians, it could quickly change the dynamic in West Papua.

Consider what happened in East Timor. In 1991, some 250 East Timorese demonstrators were killed by Indonesian troops in what became known as the Santa Cruz massacre. While it was but one of many instances of state violence in East Timor, it was caught on camera by Western journalists. The filming of the Santa Cruz massacre put the Indonesian government under international pressure from which it never fully recovered. It took the fall of Suharto and the capriciousness of his successor for an independence referendum to take place, but Santa Cruz was proof enough to the world at large that Indonesia's rule in East Timor was toxic and violent. While it is extraordinarily difficult for journalists to gain access to and move freely around West Papua, the tensions around the Grasberg mine have nevertheless made international headlines and could attract more attention.

The dynamics in West Papua suggest something has to give, or there could be an unexpected spark that ignites a process of change.

Of greater concern to the Indonesian government is the increasing effectiveness of the political opposition to Indonesia's continuing presence in West Papua. The United Liberation Movement for West Papua, or ULMWP, has had some success in welding together the notoriously divided and fractious elements of the independence movement, notably through its attempt to secure membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group, a body composed of the states of Fiji, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Its membership bid failed in part because it was undercut by the Indonesian government's own unsuccessful membership application, which explicitly aimed to block West Papua. In a determined attempt to demolish the ULMWP's pro-independence argument that West Papua is ethnically distinctive from the rest of Indonesia, the Indonesian government insisted that there are other substantial Melanesian populations in five of its provinces and that they are suitably incorporated into the nation-state.

Internationalizing the campaign has also delivered some minor successes to West Papuan activists. In September, seven Pacific Island governments addressed the U.N. General Assembly to express their concerns about the Indonesian government's policy in West Papua. Although the U.N.'s decolonization committee then rejected a petition allegedly signed by 1.8 million Papuans asking for West Papua's case to be put back on the committee's agenda, the petition alone attracted media interest. While there has been no significant breakthrough since then, the ability of West Papuan activists to make use of international networks and raise media awareness may be a sign of growing sophistication in their campaign. West Papuans have more prominent backers in the likes of Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the British Labour Party and a possible future prime minister, who is a founding member of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua. The group, which includes lawmakers from more than a dozen countries, is committed to "West Papua's inalienable right to self-determination."

The Indonesian government finds itself with difficult decisions to make about its handling of an increasingly able political opposition and a population more worried than ever about its very survival as a distinctive ethnic group. The long history of human rights abuses meted out by Indonesian security forces may have destroyed any prospect of restoring trust in the state among Papuans. How to manage a restive population that opposes clearly articulated plans for the extension of divisive mining operations is the kind of question that the Indonesian government has tended to answer in a heavy-handed and unimaginative way.

Despite efforts by President Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi, to improve the situation in West Papua, problems there are deeply entrenched. Political life has been poisoned by decades of abuses and local corruption. Policies of economic development have not, by and large, benefited the ethnic Papuan population, either. And the political opposition to Indonesian rule, for all its recent attention, is still too factionalized.

But the dynamics in West Papua suggest something has to give, or there could be an unexpected spark that ignites a process of change. Does Indonesia really want to go into its second half century of control of West Papua so burdened by its past activities and policies that a crisis there becomes inevitable?

[Simon Philpott is a senior lecturer in international politics at Newcastle University.]

Source: https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/23910/where-is-west-papua-s-struggle-for-independence-from-indonesia-headed

Double standards in Indonesia's climate policy

Jakarta Post - January 4, 2018

Randi Julian Miranda – The nexus between climate change and economic development is complex. Indonesia heavily relies on forestry, agriculture and the mining industry as the backbone of its economy, accounting for nearly 40 percent of its gross domestic product and making up nearly half of the national export value. However, these sectors also contribute to approximately 80 percent of the nation's greenhouse gasses (GHG) emissions. Deforestation in particular makes up 62 percent of its national emissions.

This is the rationale behind Indonesia's mitigation measures which heavily focus on land use, land use change and forestry and energy-derived emissions where 80 percent of the national emission reduction actions focus on the LULUCF. Let's look at the progress of Indonesia's emission reduction from deforestation in the last decade.

Indonesia's climate journey was especially marked in the G20 meeting in 2011 through its statement to reduce emissions by 26 percent by 2020, and up to 41 percent with international support. However, a 2017 report from the World Research Institute shows an increase of GHG emissions from almost all sectors.

Land use, land use change and forestry increased from 51 percent in 2000 to 65.5 percent in 2013 and is projected to stay above 50 percent by 2027. However, the effect of its climate policies on deforestation-related emissions remains unclear under the existing policy narrative where land and energy-intensive economic activities have been the major drivers of its growth as well as weak forest governance.

The expansion of agriculture and forestry industry has resulted in large scale deforestation through forest clearance and conversion, resulting in more GHG emissions. There has been approximately 15 percent increase in deforestation in Indonesia from 1997 to 2012 relative to the value of 2004. In Indonesia, more than 50 percent of lands used for palm oil plantations in 2005 were previously intact forests in 1990.

Also, 90 percent of palm oil plantations in Kalimantan today used to be forested lands between 1990 and 2010, with 47 percent primary forests and 43 percent secondary forests. These inform linearity between expanding forestry and agriculture industry with increasing deforestation in Indonesia.

Peatland and forest fires are also major drivers of the country's deforestation and land-based carbon dioxide emissions. The Global Fire Emissions Database in 2016 reported that Indonesia's emissions from peat and forest fires exceed those of the daily United States' economy; the US economy is 20 times greater than Indonesia's.

To tackle these issues, the Indonesian government has adopted several policy strategies including the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradations (REDD+) scheme, a forest moratorium and zero burning policy. However, these policies do not reduce deforestation given poor enforcement, complex land use systems and decentralization issues due to poor governance and relatively low state willingness to enforce policies.

In the global south, Indonesia has become a leader in REDD+ implementation. Nevertheless, REDD+ in Indonesia caused serious problems, particularly to poor indigenous and forest-dependent communities who rely heavily on forest resources, resulting in continuous disputes and often the closures of the projects. This indicates that any mitigation efforts must also consider social dimensions because natural resources such as forests underpin complex social-ecological systems; thus failure to integrate social factors would result in socio-economic problems.

The moratorium on forest and peatland conversion has neither been effective in tackling deforestation. The moratorium has been in force since 2011, but forest loss is still prevalent and the moratorium constantly hangs in the balance since its two-year validity with no certainty of further extension. Additionally, concession licenses and licenses approved prior to 2011 are still in place. These licenses may overlap with the Indicative Moratorium Map of the Environment and Forestry Ministry and result in further deforestation. Moreover, the moratorium only includes primary natural forests and peatlands, not secondary forests which account for more than a half of Indonesia's forest area, which means potential failure to protect a total forest area of 46.7 million hectares with high carbon stock and biodiversity.

Another obvious obstacle is the plan of great expansion of the palm oil industry. In September 2017, the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (GAPKI) informed that "Indonesia plans to increase production to 42 million tons by 2020 to maintain its global lead", as The Jakarta Post reported – nearly double the total production in 2012. Those economic activities further risk peat and forest fires, contributing to huge C02 emissions due to the absence of effective fire preventions.

These suggest two interdependent issues; first, forest governance has not improved and second, emission reduction target from land use, land use change and forestry can hardly be met if the status quo is maintained.

Better options may include improving the REDD+ design especially in protection of people's rights, extending the moratorium to 2030 and enhancing it by including secondary forests and forest areas under concession licenses with potential emissions reduction up to 427 million metric tons by 2030, and restoration of another 4.6 million hectares of degraded forests and peatland.

Additionally, providing nationally-accessible fiscal incentives to transform forest-production and agriculture into more sustainable practices might be one way to cut land-based emissions. However, such incentives are still very limited and often do not reach all regions across the nation.

It remains a concern whether the emission reduction measures can align with Indonesia's economic agenda, especially given that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo set a high-target for annual economic growth by 7 percent.

This narrative clearly explains double standards within Indonesia's climate policy domain. On the one hand, deforestation is pushed to decrease at a significant rate. While on the other hand, forestry and agriculture are growing as a key economic pillar, and adequate and effective measures have not been taken to address forests and peatland fires, resulting in continuously increasing emissions.

[Randi Julian Miranda has an extensive experience working in forest conservation, community empowerment and sustainable development with some NGOs including Heart of Borneo Project (HoBP), International Labour Organization (ILO), The Forest Trust and grassroots NGOs in Indonesia. His research focuses on forest governance and indigenous people as well as gender equality.]

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2018/01/04/double-standards-in-indonesias-climate-policy.html


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