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Indonesia News Digest 2 – January 9-15, 2018

West Papua Criminalisation & political violence Women's rights & gender Labour & migrant workers Political parties & elections Blasphemy & hate speech Internet & social media Environment & natural disasters Health & education LBGT & same-sex marriage Population & migration Corruption & abuse of power Politics & religion Poverty & social inequity Farming & agriculture Parliament & legislation Jakarta & urban life Food & beverage industry Armed forces & defense Criminal justice & legal system National security & intelligence Mining & energy Fishing & maritime affairs Economy & investment Banking & finance Taxation & state budget Analysis & opinion

West Papua

Papua to get Freeport's shares

Jakarta Post - January 12, 2018

Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, Jakarta – The central government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Papua provincial administration and the Mimika regency administration on Friday, granting the local government a 10 percent stake in the coming divestment of gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI).

The government was represented by the Finance Ministry, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry and state-owned aluminum firm PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum).

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said that under the MoU, both the Papua administration and Mimika regency would jointly own a 10 percent stake out of the 51 percent of divested PTFI shares. Negotiations between the government and PTFI are still taking place.

"The portion of the stake was to accommodate the rights of the indigenous people, which are affected by PTFI's [operation]," she told reporters on Friday.

Discussions over the transaction mechanism between Inalum and the local administrations were underway, she said, adding that the transactions would use neither state budget nor regional budget funds.

Inalum president director Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the signing of the MoU had settled the issue of the allotment of shares among central and local governments in the coming divestment of PTFI, a local subsidiary of United States-based mining giant PT Freeport-McMoRan.

The government previously extended the temporary permit of PTFI to June 30, allowing the latter to resume its operation while negotiations take place. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/12/papua-to-get-freeports-shares.html

Papuan religious leaders hold interfaith prayer for peaceful elections

Jakarta Post - January 11, 2018

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura, Papua – Eighty-seven religious clerics from all over Papua held on Thursday a joint prayer, after which they began a 30-hour fast in order to ensure a peaceful atmosphere in the province for the upcoming regional elections.

The religious leaders gathered at Sahid Hotel to pray and begin to fast, starting from noon on Thursday until 6 p.m. local time the next day, when they will break fast together.

"Muslim, Christian, Catholic, Hindu and Buddhist clerics will pray and fast for 30 hours," said Papua Interfaith Communication Forum (FKUB) chairman and Catholic priest Lipiyus Biniluk.

He said this event was the first one to be held in Papua that was aimed at ensuring peace during the upcoming regional elections. Papuan residents are also encouraged to perform their prayers, he added.

"We, religious clerics, have spared time and energy to ask for God's intervention to ensure a peaceful Papua election,"Lipiyus said.

Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar, who attended the opening of the interfaith prayer session said that clerics played an important role in creating a safe and comfortable atmosphere prior to and during the election period.

"We need to make an effort to create the peaceful atmosphere we desire. We cannot let ourselves be distracted by temporary political interests," he said.

Aside from the Papua gubernatorial election, seven regencies will hold elections to appoint regional heads. They include Biak, Mimika and Jayawijaya. (nmn/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/11/papuan-religious-leaders-hold-interfaith-prayer-for-peaceful-elections.html

Trial further delayed for West Papuan campaigner

Radio New Zealand International - January 10, 2018

The trial of a West Papuan independence campaigner, jailed for over six months without charges, has been delayed due to the judge not appearing for court.

Yanto Awerkion was scheduled to appear on Tueday but for a fourth time the session was cancelled. The pro-independence KNPB movement said the previous three cancellations were due to a lack of witnesses.

Mr Awerkion was arrested on June 23 last year because of his involvement with a petition calling for independence from Indonesia. He is said to be facing charges of treason which, if convicted, could lead to a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

Mr Awerkion's trial has been re-scheduled to take place on Thursday in Timika in Indonesia's Papua Province.

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/347849/trial-further-delayed-for-west-papuan-campaigner

West Papuan activist on trial for treason over independence petition

The Guardian - January 9, 2018

Helen Davidson – West Papuan independence campaigners have called for the release of an activist who has been put on trial for treason after he helped gather signatures for a petition.

Yanto Awerkion was arrested for his involvement in a pro-independence petition which gathered more than 1.8m West Papuan signatures.

The petition, calling for a free vote on independence, had been outlawed by Indonesian authorities but was smuggled out of the region and delivered to the United Nations in September.

The 27-year-old man is deputy chair of the Timika branch of the pro-independence West Papua National Committee (KNPB). According to his supporters he was arrested after getting on stage to speak about the petition at an event in May.

The Free West Papua campaign said Awerkion's health had seriously deteriorated in jail, and he had not been able to see his wife and daughter.

If convicted on the charges relating to sedition and separatism, conspiracy and incitement to commit an offence, Awerkion could face a prison term of between six years and life. His trial was scheduled to begin in Timika on Tuesday.

In a video filmed from prison for the Free West Papua movement, Awerkion described himself as a political prisoner. "Because of struggling for Free West Papua, I was arrested by the Indonesian military and police, and I remain in prison," he said.

He called for international diplomats to "unite and urge the world and the United Nations to intervene in West Papua and to immediately organise a referendum in West Papua".

A spokesman for the Indonesian embassy in Australia, Sade Bimantara, said the rights of people to "peacefully voice their opinions" were protected under Indonesian law, but "when laws are broken, the authorities will act to enforce the law".

This included activities supporting or inciting acts that aim to "take over or separate a part of the Indonesian territory and the formation of a new state in its place", he told Guardian Australia.

Bimantara did not detail Awerkion's alleged actions, but said "separatist groups in Papua and West Papua have been found to commit a number of offences", and noted the death of a policeman last year.

Awerkion is not believed to be facing charges involving violence. Bimantara said that was a matter for the prosecutor.

The petition asked the UN to "put West Papua back on the decolonisation committee agenda and ensure their right to self?determination... is respected by holding an internationally supervised vote".

West Papua was annexed by Indonesia in 1963, an act formalised six years later with a widely discredited UN-supervised vote known as the Act of Free Choice. The only voters were 1,063 people selected by the military and compelled to vote in favour of Indonesian annexation.

"In the West Papuan people's petition we hand over the bones of the people of West Papua to the United Nations and the world," exiled independence leader Benny Wenda told the UN when the petition was handed over.

"After decades of suffering, decades of genocide, decades of occupation, we open up the voice of the West Papuan people which lives inside this petition. My people want to be free."

Indonesian foreign ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir said at the time the petition was "purely a publicity stunt with no credibility".

The petition also called for the appointment of a special representative to investigate human rights abuses but was ultimately rebuffed by the UN's decolonisation committee because West Papua was outside its mandate.

There are frequent reports of mass arrests and violence by Indonesian police and military forces against separatists and their supporters, but information is difficult to verify because of restrictions on foreign media entering the territory.

The leader of the Greens, Richard Di Natale, called for the Australian government to make entreaties on behalf of Awerkion and other prisoners, and to support West Papua's calls for a UN-backed referendum.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/09/west-papuan-independence-campaigners-call-for-release-of-activist

Criminalisation & political violence

Indonesia's 'anti-communism' law used against environmental activist

Human Rights Watch Dispatches - January 12, 2018

Andreas Harsono – Indonesian prosecutors are seeking a seven-year prison sentence for an environmental activist for allegedly raising pro-communist banners while peacefully protesting pollution linked to a local gold mine.

Prosecutors in Banyuwangi, East Java, argued in court on Monday that Heri Budiawan, a leader of the grassroots environmental organization Banyuwangi People's Forum, displayed eight banners bearing the communist hammer-and-sickle symbol during an April 4, 2017 protest against the Tampung Pitu gold mine. Under Indonesia's draconian anti-communism laws, anyone convicted of publicly supporting communism can be imprisoned for up to 12 years.

Budiawan's prosecution is just the latest effort by local authorities to effectively criminalize protests against the mine. In 2016, after facing nearly a decade of protests, the Indonesian government declared the mine to be a "strategic national project," making it harder to oppose.

At the trial the prosecutors failed to present evidence of any protest banners that bore the hammer-and-sickle symbol. Budiawan denies the allegations.

Beyond this one case is the lingering peril posed by dangerously ambiguous laws, Dutch colonial legacies appropriated during the three-decade Suharto dictatorship, which give prosecutors wide latitude to prosecute public expressions of support for communism and display of communist symbols.

Budiawan's prosecution for alleged communist sympathies coincides with a recent surge in efforts by elements of the Indonesian security forces to stoke "anti-communist" paranoia. This is a response to calls for accountability for the 1965-66 massacres, in which between 500,000 to one million people were killed by the military, paramilitary groups, and Muslim militias. Those targeted were suspected members of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) and ethnic Chinese, as well as trade unionists, teachers, activists, and artists.

This past September, paramilitaries and Islamist groups led a violent "anti-communist" demonstration in Jakarta. Days later, the Indonesian military launched a propaganda offensive aimed at reinforcing the official narrative that the killings were a justified response to an attempted communist coup.

Budiawan's prosecution is an ominous signal that environmental activists are now vulnerable to prosecution as "communists" if they dare challenge corporations implicated in pollution. As long as laws that facilitate such prosecutions stay on the books, the rights of peaceful protesters – including those seeking to defend the right to a healthy environment – will remain in doubt.

Source: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/01/12/indonesias-anti-communism-law-used-against-environmental-activist

Anti-mine protesters demand release of activist charged with 'spreading

Tempo - January 9, 2018

Ika Ningtyas, Jakarta – Scores of residents in the Pesanggaran sub-district of Banyuwangi, East Java, held a protest action demanding the release of their colleague, Heri Budiawan, who is being tried for spreading communist ideas.

During the action the protesters handed out 500 kilograms of dragon fruit to residents in the vicinity of the rally.

The protest took place north of the Banyuwangi District Court on Jl. Adi Sucipto. The protesters brought the dragon fruit in a pickup truck which was divided into plastic bags weighing 1 kilogram.

The protesters invited road users to take a dragon fruit for free. "This is evidence farmers can prosper without mining", said a representative of the protesters, Zaenal Arifin, on Tuesday January 9.

The protest action was held to coincide with a court hearing scheduled to hear the reading out of the defendant's defense speech.

In addition to handing out the dragon fruit, the protesters held a theatrical action, sang, gave speeches and unfurled banners reading "Banyuwangi Rejects the Tumpang Pitu Mine" and "Banyuwangi Rejects Criminalisation".

Heri Budiawan alias Budi Pego has been charged under Article 107 Paragraph (a) of Law Number 27/1999 on Revisions to the Criminal Code related to crimes against state security. At a hearing on January 4, the public prosecutor demanded that Budi be sentenced to seven years jail.

Budi Pego stands accused of spreading communist, Marxist and Leninist ideas after the symbol of the hammer-and-sickle was allegedly found on a banner when scores of local residents were protesting against the gold mine on April 4, 2017.

According to the prosecution's charges, the banner with the hammer-and-sickle was made at Budi's house and he was the coordinator of the protests.

The banner with the hammer-and-sickle was reported to the Banyuwangi district police by Bambang Widjonarko on April 8, 2017. At the time, Widjonarko still held the position of Senior Manager for External Affairs at PT Bumi Suksesindo (PT BSI), the operator of the mine at Tumpang Pitu Mountain which residents were protesting against.

"Budi Pego is not a communist. All of us residents reject the mine", said Fitri Yati, one of the local residents who spoke at the rally.

Around 300 metres away, protesters from several organisations also held a counter protest. They came from the Pancasila Youth, the Voice of Blambangan Forum and the Indonesian Religious Community Defense Forum, and demanded that the panel of judges hand down a heaver sentence against Budi Pego.

According to the groups, the prosecutor's demand for a seven-year sentence is too light given that the maximum sentence under Article 107(a) is 12 years jail. "Save the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] and [the state ideology of] Pancasila from communism", said Hanan, one of the speakers.

Inside the court Budi Pego read out his nine-page hand-written defense speech. According to Budi, neither he nor any of the local residents protesting at the time made any banners with the logo of the hammer-and-sickle. "The banners were intentionally tampered with by people with a specific goal", he said between sobs.

Budi said that he opposed the gold mine at Tumpang Pitu Mountain because the mountain is a natural barrier against tsunamis. In 1994, a tsunami hit his village resulting in the death of hundreds of people.

The coordinator of the legal defense team, Abdul Wachid, asserted that the prosecution's case is being forced through and has ignored the facts revealed in the trail.

Not one of the eight banners used as material evidence had a logo of the hammer-and-sickle communist symbol on them. Moreover not one witness testified that they saw the defendant instructing others to make banners at his house with the hammer-and-sickle. "We ask that the defendant be released from all of the charges", said Wachid.

PT Bumi Suksesindo's Corporate Communications Manager T. Mufizar Mahmud said that PT BSI never submitted a report with the authorities in relation to the hammer-and-sickle banners.

Up until now, said Mufizar, his company has focused on raising the local community's standard of living and prosperity through various programs such as education, healthcare, social programs and infrastructure. "People have the right to demonstrate", said Mufizar in an email message on January 5.

Mufizar adding that the BSI mine was designated as a strategic national project by the government in February 2016. Therefore, he said, the BSI is a national asset which is owned by the Banyuwangi regency government has had a strategic impact in promoting regional and national economic growth.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Warga di Banyuwangi Tuntut Pembebasan Terdakwa Kasus Komunisme".]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1048774/warga-di-banyuwangi-tuntut-pembebasan-terdakwa-kasus-komunisme

Women's rights & gender

Polygamy: why some men are promoting it again, and what a leading

South China Morning Post - January 11, 2018

It's not illegal in Indonesia for a Muslim to have more than one wife, but it's frowned upon; that hasn't deterred pro-polygamy activists, whose activities a critic says are a sign of 'moral panic' about extramarital sex in the country

Risyiana Muthia – When it comes to polygamy and Indonesia, it's a complicated relationship. Although the practice is legal in the Muslim-majority nation, there are restrictions on having more than one wife and it is widely frowned upon in society.

Previous attempts in the country to promote a polygamous lifestyle – which some Muslim men regard as a sign of virtue – have met fierce opposition. In 2003, for example, protesters gathered to disrupt a "Polygamy Awards" ceremony organised by Puspo Wardoyo, a well-known pro-polygamy activist, to honour men who had taken more than one wife.

The uproar, with protesters waving "Monogamy Yes, Polygamy No" placards, prevented the ceremony from being held again.

In 2006, well-known cleric and businessman Abdullah Gymnastiar faced a public outcry after taking a second wife. His once loyal followers boycotted his television shows and businesses. He quickly lost his television contracts, and some of his companies were forced to close.

In the past year, polygamy has become a hot issue in the country again, and support for it has been growing, according to Vicky Irawan Zaeni, founder of Dauroh Poligami Indonesia (DPI), a Jakarta-based pro-polygamy group established in April 2017 that has been organising monthly "polygamy seminars" in cities across the country.

Zaeni, 31, who promotes his seminars with the phrase "quick ways to have four wives", is determined to change the way polygamous marriage is perceived.

"There used to be negative propaganda everywhere when it came to polygamy, and the mass media helped exacerbate the stigma," Zaeni, who has four wives, tells the Post.

He says public education about the correct way to practise polygamy has been lacking. "Of course, as a polygamy practitioner myself, I have seen many transgressions caused by some who didn't practise polygamy in the proper manner. Most of these men want to have a polygamous relationship to satisfy their carnal desires, not because of their religious faith," he says.

Under Indonesia's marriage law, a Muslim man is only allowed to enter into a polygamous marriage if he has the consent of his first wife. Approval will only be given by a court if the applicant's wife is proven to be "unable to fulfil her duties" because she is terminally ill, disabled, or unable to bear children.

Negative perceptions of polygamy stem in part from the fact that many men enter another marriage without the blessing of their existing wife or wives, which creates friction and often leads to divorce. They do this by arranging a nikah siri, or "secret marriage", with a ceremony held in front of a Muslim cleric, rather than a legally sanctioned religious court. A woman entering such a polygamous relationship is commonly labelled a home wrecker. Zaeni says that at DPI's one-day seminars, participants are coached in how to gain permission from their existing wife or wives, ensure each wife is fairly treated, and navigate the conflicts that can occur in a polygamous relationship.

Although DPI was only set up last year, Zaeni says he has been involved in pro-polygamy campaigns since 2011. He was a part of an organisation called Forum Keluarga Poligami Samara, loosely translated as Forum for a Happy, Loving and Supportive Polygamous Family. The group organised gatherings, provided counselling to members, and hosted discussions on social media and through a WhatsApp group.

The forum made headlines in 2015 when it held a meeting of about 270 members in Sumedang, West Java, to discuss plans to file for a judicial review of Indonesia's marriage law to address its restrictions on polygamous relationships.

Zaeni says that in the past eight months DPI's pro-polygamy message has found support across Indonesia, and that its places at seminars it held in eight cities have sold out despite the entrance fee for men, the equivalent of US$300 (women can take part free of charge).

"I'm definitely seeing more interest. These days, Indonesians are generally receptive towards things that are related to Islamic sharia law," Zaeni says.

The events have been so popular, he says, that DPI is launching a new programme – a pre-polygamy seminar directed at single young people who are interested in the idea of a polygamous relationship. The first will be held in Jakarta later this month, followed by one in Surabaya in February.

DPI is not the only platform to spring up in support of polygamy over the past year. Last April, around the time Zaeni held his first seminar, Lindu Cipta Pranayama launched AyoPoligami, a Tinder-like mobile app aimed at helping pro-polygamy Muslims find partners.

Loosely translated as "Let's do Polygamy", AyoPoligami grabbed headlines when it attracted 56,000 users within three months of its launch.

Lindu, 34, says he originally developed the app for personal reasons, having never being married. "I've joined many dating sites, but I have never been able to find the right partner through those platforms. Then it dawned on me: I'm an IT professional, so why don't I just develop my own dating site?" he says.

Although Lindu set out to build a conventional dating platform, he changed course after interviewing fellow dating site users while he was conducting informal research.

"After talking to a few people about their views on polygamous marriages, we decided to create a dating platform that would allow men to find a second, third, and fourth wife," he says.

The app's run was short-lived, however. After five months of operation, Lindu shut it down and erased all 56,000 user profiles when it was discovered that almost half of them were fake. A month earlier, a writer for Magdalene, a feminist online publication, reported that she had gone undercover as an AyoPoligami user, only to be approached by men asking for her photo, or soliciting her for an extramarital affair.

Lindu relaunched the app in October, with a new registration system requiring users to provide documents such as a valid ID, and a wife's consent form or divorce papers. The revamped app has so far received 30,000 user applications, but only 2,000 users have managed to provide all the required paperwork, he says.

Academic Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, founder of Indonesia's first Women's Crisis Centre, and a former chairwoman of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, has been working in the field of women's rights for 15 years. She says that despite recent campaigns in support of polygamy, it remains socially undesirable in Indonesia.

"In Indonesia, not even one per cent of marriages are polygamous," says Siti Ruhaini. What may appear to be genuine interest in polygamy is actually a sign of "moral panic" gripping the country, argues Siti Ruhaini, vice-rector of the faculty of law at the Islamic State University in Yogyakarta.

"This happens when there's a feeling of inadequacy to cope with something that is perceived as threatening to the values, safety and interests of the community," she says. "Recent political or economic conflicts, for instance, or the inability to cope with the constant stream of information coming from digital technology."

When a society is faced with moral dilemmas, its citizens tend to view complex problems affecting them from a moral standpoint, she says. "Usually, this means issues that are related to sex or sexuality.

They are unable to fix the real problems around them, so they resort to wanting to fix society's 'morals'. We're seeing people wanting to promote and justify polygamous marriages because it's better than having extramarital sex. This is moral panic."

Siti Ruhaini says most proponents of polygamous marriage in Indonesia justify the practice by claiming it is Islamic practice. However, polygamy was a fact of life long before the arrival of Islam, and the religion merely set out to humanise it, she says.

"In the Koran, the practice is limited to taking four wives. But the book also puts a strong emphasis on fairness and equality in marriage. It is suggested... that if men cannot be fair to each wife, then they should only take one wife.

"The book also mentions that, as human beings, no matter how hard we try to be fair, such a thing is impossible. So it is actually monogamous marriages that are strongly promoted in Islam," Siti Ruhaini says.

She says women's rights activists have long been engaging with different stakeholders to educate the Indonesian public about the facts of polygamy.

"Years ago, at the Women's Crisis Centre, we actually started a pro-monogamy movement, working with the sultan of Yogyakarta, Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, who is the only Javanese ruler not to practice polygamy," Siti Ruhaini says. "Perhaps it's time for us to start another pro-monogamy movement."

Source: http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/families/article/2127630/polygamy-indonesia-why-some-men-are-promoting-it-again-and-what

Labour & migrant workers

Journalists in Jakarta are being paid too little: AJI

Jakarta Globe - January 15, 2018

Telly Nathalia, Jakarta – The Jakarta branch of Indonesia's Alliance of Independent Journalists, or AJI, urged the country's press council on Sunday (14/01) to raise the minimum wage of journalists working in the capital.

AJI Jakarta sent a survey in December to 31 national and international media publications in the capital that asked respondents how well their wages covered their basic needs, the organization said in a statement. The survey found most wages for journalists working in Jakarta to be insufficient.

Based on the survey, AJI Jakarta recommends that the minimum wage for Jakarta's journalists in 2018 should be raised to Rp 7.96 million ($596) per month. The organization said the proposed wages should be guaranteed until a worker's third year of tenure.

The survey found many media outlets paid their journalists below Jakarta's minimum wage in 2017 of Rp 3.35 million, even for journalists with over 10 years work experience. Jakarta's 2018 minimum wage is Rp 3.65 million.

"AJI Jakarta urges the press council to change media company wage standardization... According to AJI, journalists' wages must be higher because [the job] requires special skills, high risks and susceptibility to be affected by legal danger," the association said.

Nurhasim, chairman of AJI Jakarta, said that proper salaries would support journalists to work professionally, which can improve the quality of journalism in the country.

Besides proper wages, the association also said that workers should be guaranteed health insurance as well as other rights like maternity leaves and breast feeding rooms.

AJI is one of Indonesia's journalist organizations under the National Press Council.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/journalists-jakarta-paid-little-aji/

Political parties & elections

ICW: 2018 is crucial momentum for Indonesia's democracy

Tempo - January 14, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) stated that 2018 is a crucial momentum for the democracy in Indonesia since threats of corruption in regional head elections are lurking in several regions.

ICW in Jakarta on Saturday (13/1) called 2018 as a "politically hectic" year as not only General Election will be held simultaneously in 171 regions, but also the procedures for 2019 legislative election and presidential election will kick off concurrently.

The Non-profit Organization claimed that electoral contests are susceptible to problems, especially corruptions many of which are handled by Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

The corruptions range from budget manipulation, business permit provision, bribery to get a position in regional administration to bribery to win electoral dispute in Constitutional Court.

Meanwhile, political parties perceive 2018 General Election as a means to measure the strength and effectiveness of the parties' machines for the upcoming presidential election.

– Antara

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/14/055914813/ICW-2018-Is-Crucial-Momentum-for-Indonesias-Democracy

Number of independent candidates in election rises significantly

Tempo - January 14, 2018

Jakarta – The number of independent candidates in 2018 General Election jumped significantly compared to that of 2017. General Election Commission (KPU) recorded that in 2018 Election, 13 regions have independent candidate. Meanwhile in 2017, nine regions had independent candidates.

Regions with independent candidates in 2018 General Election include Enrekang, Mamasa, Puncak, Padang Lawas Utara, Pasuruan, Mimika, Tangerang, Tangerang Regency, Lebak, Karanganyar, Minahasa Tenggara, and Prabumulih Regency.

"In 2017, 90 percent of independent candidates are incumbent or related to someone with power," Association for Elections and Democracy(Perludem) executive director Titi Anggraini said in Central Jakarta on Saturday (11/1).

Last year, there were nine independent candidates, eight of which were incumbent in their respective regions. The other one who became Regent of Landak was Karolin Margaret Natasa, the daughter of West Kalimantan Governor Cornelis.

In addition, General Election Commission Commissionaire Pramono Ubaid Tanthowi is concerned that independent candidates are still running in 2018 General Election. He believes that the phenomenon of independent candidate ruins the essence of competition in politics. "It results in no political contest," he said in Jakarta on Wednesday (10/1).

– Adam Prireza

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/14/055914820/Number-of-Independent-Candidates-in-Election-Rises-Significantly

300 billion to become a gubernatorial candidate, that's a 'value pack'

Detik News - January 13, 2018

Aryo Bhawono, Jakarta – Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) General Chairperson Prabowo Subianto claims that he feels saddened by the current state of the democratic system.

This is because figures with prestige and good character are unable to become leaders if they do not have money.

If someone wishes to become a regional head such as a governor and they come to me, under the system and conditions that exist at the moment, said Prabowo, his highest priority is what funds the candidate has available.

"I feel sad, because currently if there is someone who wants to become a governor and comes to me, what's the first question I'll ask them. 'Do you have the money?' I don't ask you where you graduated from, what you have accomplished, have you ever written a book, ever been a regent, ever been a sub-district head? (But) what I ask is, 'How much money do you have?'", explained Prabowo when presenting greetings to an event at the Al-Islah Islamic boarding school in Bodowoso, Central Java, on Sunday July 23, 2017.

In the 40-minute 56-second video recording uploaded to YouTube by Spardaxyz News Channel on July 24, 2017, also present on the stage with Prabowo are a number of well-known figures including, among others, National Mandate Party (PAN) honorary board chairperson Amien Rais, Prabowo's younger brother and business tycoon Hashim Djojohadikusumo and Kiai [Islamic teacher] Maksum who hosted the event.

If you want to become a governor, said Prabowo, at 15.22 minutes into the recording, you must have at least 300 billion rupiah. "That's a value pack, pahe". He then cited Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno as an example of a figure who used his own money to contest the Jakarta gubernatorial election.

"But how many people are there like Sandi[aga]? For you out there it would be very hard to become governor. (Because) you don't have 300 billion rupiah", joked Prabowo to the laughter of those present.

Gerindra Deputy Chairperson Ferry Juliantono says that these remarks are an expression of concern and at the same time a criticism of what happens in every regional election. Prabowo was only giving an example, not describing the reality of what happens in his party. "It's a criticism, not the custom in Gerindra", he asserted when contacted by Detik.com on Saturday January 13.

The high cost of taking part in regional elections, he continued, resulted in Gerindra once proposing that regional heads no longer be elected directly and instead return to the situation when they were elected by regional parliaments (DPRD).

Juliantono also refuted a recent statement by former Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) chairperson La Nyalla Mattalitti who claimed that Prabowo asked him for 40 billion rupiah in exchange for being endorsed by Gerindra as a candidate for the East Java gubernatorial election. According to Juliantono, Mattalitti must be held accountable for the statement and that it should be followed up.

Former Constitutional Court chief justice Prof. Mahfud MD, who was once offered a chance to be a candidate for the East Java gubernatorial election, also testified that he had never been questioned about or asked for money.

"Before when I was offered [a chance] to be an alternative gubernatorial candidate for the East Java elections for [a coalition of] three political parties I was not asked for money, rather I was told there was no need to think about money. But I still wasn't ready. Why? Well because I wasn't ready, that's all there was to it", Mahfud said in a Twitter post on January 11. (ayo/jat)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Prabowo: Rp 300 Miliar untuk Nyagub Itu Paket Hemat".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-3813301/prabowo-rp-300-miliar-untuk-nyagub-itu-paket-hemat

Jokowi ratifies decree for additional political party funding

Tempo - January 12, 2018

Jakarta – President Joko Widodo or Jokowi issued government regulation No. 1/2018 on financial assistance for political parties. "[The decree] was ratified by the president on January 4," said presidential palace spokesman Johan Budi Sapto Pribowo on Thursday, January 11.

The latest rule that changed the government regulation No. 5/2009 increases the financial assistance for political parties from Rp108 per vote to Rp1,000 per vote at the level of the House of Representatives (DPR).

Meanwhile, the increase in the level of Regional Legislative Councils (DPRD) is bumped up to Rp1,200 per vote for the provincial DPRD and Rp1,500 per voted for district or city DPRD.

The decree states that the allocations are prioritized for party members and public political education. The use of the grant will be audited by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK). "Further fund will not be granted without the report submission," the document said.

DPR's chairman of Government Commission Zainuddin Amali said that the additional political party fund will push political parties to become more independent and improve its quality. He reasons that the current situation shows that political parties are controlled by financial networks from financiers.

– Hussein Abri

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/12/055914785/Jokowi-Ratifies-Decree-for-Additional-Political-Party-Funding

Dynastic politics haunts regional elections

Jakarta Post - January 12, 2018

Panca Nugraha, Mataram/Jakarta – Dynastic politics may haunt the 2018 regional elections with a considerable number of candidates related to incumbent or former regional heads committed to running as registration closed on Wednesday.

For instance, in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), incumbent Governor Zainul Majdi's elder sister, Sitti Rohmi Djalilah, is running for the deputy governor post accompanying governor candidate Zulkieflimansyah.

Campaign team member Muhammad Nasip Ikroman, however, insisted that Sitti was nominated through a democratic process.

"This is not dynastic politics. Dynastic politics uses all kinds of means, including forcing the nomination of an incapable candidate. Sitti is capable of running, regardless of the fact she is related to the incumbent governor," Ikroman said on Friday.

Daughter of incumbent West Kalimantan Governor Cornelis, Karolin Margret Natasa, who is running for her father's post this election, also dismissed the notion of playing the political dynasty card.

She said her candidacy, supported by the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), was the result of the party's regeneration process.

"My candidacy was not decided out of nowhere. It was the result of party regeneration," she said on Thursday, as quoted by kompas.com.

Constitutional law expert Feri Amsari said that dynastic politics had a detrimental effect on democracy, especially in developing countries like Indonesia where citizens were less knowledgeable about democratic processes.

"Certain groups and certain families take advantage of this lack of awareness to block others from the [election] process," he told The Jakarta Post. "This results in leadership that puts family interests above the public good." (nmn/kmt/ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/12/dynastic-politics-haunts-regional-elections.html

Sandiaga Uno: La Nyalla misunderstands Prabowo's intention

Tempo - January 12, 2018

Jakarta – Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno clarified that Anies Baswedan's candidacy during the 2017 Jakarta Gubernatorial Election did not involve transactional politics.

Sandiaga said that Great Indonesia Movement Party advisory board chairman Prabowo Subianto is very professional.

"There was also no transactional politics involved in the Jokowi-Ahok candidacy [in the 2012 election]," said Sandiaga Uno at the City Hall on Friday, January 12.

Earlier, La Nyalla Mattalitti, chairman of the East Java chapter of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN), revealed that Prabowo had asked Rp40 billion form in exchange of endorsement to run as an East Java Governor candidate in the upcoming election.

"I was asked to pay Rp40 billion. The money must be submitted before December 20, in order get recommendations," he told Tempo yesterday.

Sandiaga suggested that La Nyalla misunderstood Prabowo's intentions. According to Sandiaga, Prabowo might intend to ask La Nyalla about his financial readiness for his candidacy.

Sandiaga said the last election costed him and Anies Rp100 billion to run as a candidate pair. Sandiaga added that it had been reported to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

Sandiaga claimed that the last Jakarta Gubernatorial election can be made as an example for the upcoming regional head elections. He called on regional head candidates to focus on welfare issues during their political campaigns.

– M Rosseno Aji

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/12/055914791/Sandiaga-Uno-La-Nyalla-Misunderstands-Prabowos-Intention

La Nyalla claims Prabowo has extorted him for Rp40bn

Tempo - January 12, 2018

Jakarta – Former Chairman of the Indonesian Soccer Association (PSSI) La Nyalla Mattalitti claims that he was asked by Gerindra Party Chairman Prabowo Subianto to provide Rp40 billion for his candidacy in the 2018 East Java Gubernatorial election.

"I don't have proof. But I dare to do a ghost oath (swear to death)," La Nyalla said to us on Thursday, January 11.

The ghost oath (sumpah pocong) oath is mostly regarded as the utmost oath that risks death or chronic illness if they lie about their innocence while wearing a shroud.

La Nyalla said that the Gerindra chairman made the request on December 9, 2017, at his home in Hambalang. Accompanied by his assistants Prasetyo and Sugiarto, Prabowo instructed the former PSSI chairman to provide the money before December 20, so that he could recommend La Nyalla.

La Nyalla claims that, at the time, he had prepared funds up to Rp300 billion, but he only wanted to hand the money over after he was officially registered in the East Java General Election Commission (KPU). Nyalla revealed that Prabowo refused his offer.

"He was so infuriated as if he was possessed. He wasn't like the usual Prabowo Subianto," said La Nyalla.

He claims that regional head candidates that are endorsed by Gerindra mostly do not come from the party itself. La Nyalla argues that this phenomenon proves that there were similar meetings like he experienced, which he said it was a proof that the party is purely transactional.

– Riani Sanusi Putri

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/12/055914782/Tempo-News-La-Nyalla-Claims-Prabowo-Has-Extorted-Him-for-Rp40bn

As political year starts, jaded electoral candidate fires angry salvo at

Detik News - January 12, 2018

Jakarta – His failure to be endorsed as a candidate in the 2018 East Timor gubernatorial election has not left La Nyalla Mattalitti powerless.

Mattalitti, who had earlier struggled to obtain endorsement from the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and support from the National Mandate Party (PAN), has come out firing live rounds at Gerindra chairperson Prabowo Subianto at the start of the political year.

During a press conference at the Mbok Berek Restaurant on Jl. Prof Dr Soepomo in Tebet, South Jakarta, on Tuesday January 11, Mattalitti revealed that Prabowo had asked him for money.

Mattalitti fired off an extremely serious accusation claiming that Gerindra, and Prabowo himself, asked him for billions of rupiah in exchange for endorsing him as an East Java gubernatorial candidate.

The former Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) chairperson said that he felt disappointed with Prabowo's attitude because he claimed that his service to the party with the head of a Garuda bird as its symbol not been inconsiderable.

"What I regret is that I have been a Gerindra cadre since 2009 who fought for 08 (Prabowo – Ed) until 2018, I was arrogant as it turns out. Ultah Bu Rachma (Gerindra Deputy Chairperson Rachmawati Sukarnoputri) summoned me to Hambalang [Prabowo's private residence] to meet with 08, I conveyed my wish to be put forward [as a candidate] and I then asked for permission. I'd already met with [PAN patron] Amien Rais, then last of all with 08, it was all okay", he said.

"Prabowo was able to speak [to me], 'Are you willing to put up 200 billion [rupiah]?' I have 500 available, I said, because I have a lot of support from Muslim businesspeople behind me", said Mattalitti.

Mattalitti claimed that Prabowo then snapped at him when he tried to discuss the issue of money and he didn't accept the treatment he received from Prabowo.

"To the point that Pak Prabowo became angry at me, abused me. In my heart I said, who is this person, what's ailing him? Why talk about money for the 2014 presidential election, certainly I was involved with money in the 2014 presidential election", said Mattalitti.

Mattalitti then dragged the Presidium Alumni 212 into the issue by urging the ulama [Islamic scholars] and the greater 212 community not to be easily "used" by political parties.

"Let those who blocked [me] be held responsible. I'm warning the ulama and 212 community not to again be used by parties [whose interests] are unclear", asserted Mattalitti.

Appearing very disappointed, Mattalitti even said that he would leave Gerindra and not support Prabowo in the 2019 presidential election.

"The question is, will I support Prabowo in 2019? I'm sorry, I would have be stupid if I still supported Prabowo Subianto. And I am sure that all of my supporters in East Java won't want to support Prabowo Subianto either. That's the end of it. So, if I'm asked do I still want to be with Gerindra, (the answer is) no", he exclaimed.

Mattalitti's accusations have sparked a response from the Gerindra elite. Gerindra central leadership board chairperson Ahmad Riza Patria said accusations that Prabowo set billions of rupiah in money as a pre-condition [for Mattalitti's candidacy] is absolutely untrue.

Patria explained that Gerindra is not a party which is interested in getting money from candidates who they back in regional elections. He even said that Gerindra is often the main source of funds for candidates.

"The Gerindra Party back then, [Prabowo's brother] Pak Hasjim [Djojohadikusumo] spent as much as 62.5 billion rupiah to support Jokowi-Ahok [Joko Widodo and Basuki Tjahaja Purnama] in the [2012] Jakarta gubernatorial election", said Patria.

Gerindra Deputy Chairperson Fadli Zon meanwhile also spoke out about Mattalitti's accusations saying that there is no evidence to support his statement. "[No such request] was made by Pak Prabowo, I've never heard such a thing and have never seen any evidence of such a thing", said Zon.

Notes

The Presidium 212 were the organisers of the so-call Defend Islam actions which succeeded in mobilising massive protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in November and December last year which eventually led to him being jailed on trumped up blasphemy charges and loosing the election to the Prabowo Subianto backed Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno ticket.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Peluru-peluru Tajam La Nyalla untuk Prabowo di Tahun Politik".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/3811017/peluru-peluru-tajam-la-nyalla-untuk-prabowo-di-tahun-politik

Court maintains presidential threshold

Jakarta Post - January 11, 2018

Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – The Constitutional Court has rejected a petition to scrap the presidential threshold, which is stipulated in Article 222 of the 2017 Elections Law.

The court rejected on Thursday a judicial review petition filed by the Benign Islam Party (Idaman Party), which challenged the presidential threshold set for the 2019 election.

Article 222 stipulates that a party or coalition of parties is required to secure at least 20 percent of the seats at the House of Representatives or 25 percent of the popular vote to be eligible to nominate a presidential candidate in next year's election.

Justice Maria Farida said the threshold was a legal policy in elections that ensured the simplification of the multiparty system and strengthened the presidential system.

She said the court issued a similar ruling in 2009 concerning an article in the 2008 Elections Law, which said the presidential threshold was a legal requirement of the legislative body.

"The plaintiff's request regarding the threshold for political parties has no legal basis," Maria said.

Among the nine justices on the bench, justice Saldi Isra and Suhartoyo gave dissenting opinions. They argued that the article contradicted the Constitution, which ensured equal rights for every party to nominate a presidential candidate.

The presidential threshold was also challenged by the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem), judiciary watchdog KoDe Inisiatif and several activists. (ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/11/court-maintains-presidential-threshold.html

PDIP labeled as PKI, Megawati is upset

Tempo - January 9, 2018

Jakarta – Chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) Megawati Soekarnoputri expressed her frustration during a speech in the declaration of six candidates for governor and deputy governor in the Office of the DPP PDIP, Lenteng Agung, South Jakarta.

Megawati was upset because the party she led was often associated with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

"Always using PKI accusation, please use the ethic (in politic)," Megawati said on Sunday, January 8, 2018. "My party is PDIP, the ideology is Pancasila, that (PKI accusation) is insulting, PKI no longer exist."

Megawati claimed that she had complained to Nahdlatul Ulama officials regarding the assumption. Moreover, the figure of his father, the first Indonesian President Sukarno also once referred to as PKI.

According to him, Sukarno has been given the title by NU as waliul amri adlaruri bissyaukah. "It means the leader of the Indonesian nation whom his orders must be obeyed until whenever. It is impossible if he joined the forbidden party," she said.

Megawati also felt sorry for President Joko Widodo or Jokowi who often get labeled as PKI. It affected the party bearer, PDIP is labeled as PKI. "(Jokowi) labeled as PKI, his mother is labeled as Chinese. I know his family very well," she said in an annoyed tone.

In August 2017, Gerindra Party politician Arief Poyuono, through a written statement had equalized the PDIP with PKI. Arief alluded to PDIP's statement that criticizing Prabowo's statement about the presidential threshold in the Election Law.

"The existence of PKI itself has finished, so Prabowo should not criticize the Election Law which is considered as a political joke and lie to the people, it is thought that he had the ambition to be President. Why Hasto (Kristiyanto) act as Secretary General of the anti-criticism party," said Arief.

"Well, usually the character of the PKI is anti-criticism and violates the constitution, so it is reasonable if PDIP is often equated with the PKI."

For his remarks, Arief was reported to Polda Metro Jaya by the PDIP organization, the Volunteer for Democratic Struggle (REPDEM). Gerindra had time to ask for Arief's responsibility at that time.

In addition, PDIP has reported Alfian Tanjung on the same charge. He (lecturer and preacher) mentioned that PDIP filled by PKI cadres. He is currently undergoing trial for the defamation case.

– Adam Prireza

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/09/055914663/PDIP-Labeled-As-PKI-Megawati-is-Upset

In regional elections, compete with ideas not smear campaigns, says

Jakarta Post - January 9, 2018

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has urged all hopefuls taking part in this year's regional elections to contest it fairly and avoid smear campaigns for the sake of peaceful elections.

"Refrain from insulting each other. We really need to eradicate smear campaigns from our democratic process," the President said in East Nusa Tenggara on Monday, as reported by tempo.co.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) officially opened registration for candidates running in the third concurrent regional elections on Monday and Wednesday.

Jokowi reiterated that democracy in Indonesia must reflect the nation's values that uphold politeness. He urged the candidates to seek fairness in competition to create peaceful elections.

"Please compete against each other with track records, ideas, programs and planning. Those things need to be highlighted," he added. (nmn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/09/in-regional-elections-compete-with-ideas-not-smear-campaigns-says-jokowi.html

Blasphemy & hate speech

Councilor given 1-year sentence for FB post criticizing fellow Muslims'

Coconuts Jakarta - January 11, 2018

In his infamous speech in the Thousand Islands, former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama criticized those who misused Islam to attack him politically.

For that, he was persecuted, protested and eventually thrown in jail for blasphemy. Many people criticized those highly politicized blasphemy charges against Ahok, and now one of them has been thrown in jail for that.

Back in May, shortly after Ahok was sentenced to two years in prison at the conclusion of his blasphemy trial, Riano Jayawardhana, a member of the West Tanjung Jabung Regency Council, allegedly wrote the following message on Facebook:

"I am personally very disgusted with Muslims who have faith but no sense as if they are most righteous, abusing religion using Al-Maidah and not forgiving others as if they're the devil... religious reason is number one but conscience is gone."

The comment caused an uproar and led to a member of the Tanjung Jabung Barat Muslim Community Alliance reporting him to the police in May.

Riano, who is Muslim himself, apologized for the upset caused by the post but claimed that his account had been hacked and said he did not write the message.

Nonetheless, in September, police detained and charged Riano for violating the Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) Law (Indonesia's much-criticized law that can be used to criminalize any online communication that could be considered insulting or defamatory).

Yesterday, a panel of judges at the local court of Kuala Tungkal found Riano guilty of "disseminating information that is aimed at generating a sense of hatred or hostility towards an individual or community group" and sentenced him to one year in prison and a fine of IDR5 million (USD 350), which was less than the sentence of 1 year and 3 months demanded by the prosecution.

In justifying their decision, the judges noted that the chairman of the local branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) had been personally offended by Riano's post.

Critics of Indonesia's ITE and blasphemy laws say both have used with increasing frequency, especially to intimidate critics of both the government and Islam. As this case proves, not even followers of Islam can criticize the actions of their fellow Muslims without fear of being reported to the police.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesian-city-councilor-given-1-year-sentence-fb-post-criticizing-fellow-muslims-treatment-ahok/

Facebook post lands Jambi councillor in prison for blasphemy

Jakarta Post - January 9, 2018

Jon Afrizal, Jambi – The West Tanjung Jabung District Court in Jambi has sentenced local councillor Riano Jaya Wardhana to one year in prison and Rp 5 million (US$350) in fines for blasphemy in a Facebook post.

The judges declared him guilty on Monday of violating the Electronic Information Transactions (ITE) Law by inciting hatred and hostility toward individuals and/or groups based on ethnicity, religion, race or intergroup affiliation. The sentence was lighter than prosecutors' demand of a 15-month prison sentence.

Riano, who chairs the branch of the NasDem Party in the regency, was reported to West Tanjung Jabung Police in May last year over a Facebook post in which he criticized the way some Muslims had treated former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

He wrote: "I am personally disgusted by Muslims who practice the same faith as me but are senseless, as if they are the most righteous; they abuse religion [...] and do not forgive other people, as if they are as bad as the devil."

Riano is not the first person charged with blasphemy. There have been 97 blasphemy court cases from 1965 to 2017, according to rights group Setara Institute. The number of cases grew after the fall of Suharto's New Order regime. The case that garnered most attention, both nationwide and globally, was that against Ahok, who is now in jail for insulting the Quran. (nmn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/09/facebook-post-lands-jambi-councillor-in-prison-for-blasphemy.html

Islamic group to report former child singer Joshua Suherman for alleged

Coconuts Jakarta - January 9, 2018

Few would have guessed that the next high-profile blasphemy case in Indonesia, after that of former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, would involve the former child singer famous for such adorable hits as "Diobok-obok" and "Cit Cit Cuit" in the '90s.

Now 25 years old, Joshua Suherman has still remained in the public limelight by appearing in several movies and TV shows. But he's likely to be propelled to religious-based infamy like Ahok was for his stab at doing stand up comedy recently.

Today, an Islamic group called the People of Islam Unite Forum (FUIB) plans on filing a formal blasphemy complaint to the National Police against Joshua over his stand up material that they perceived to be offensive to Islam, footage of which has circulated online recently.

In the clip above, Joshua asked his audience why Anisa, a former member of the girl group Cherrybelle, was more famous than her colleagues, including the group's leader at the time, Cherly Juno.

"Back then, all men's eyes were on Anisa. All on Anisa. Their singing skills were similar, their dancing similar, and beauty is relative, right? I asked myself why Anisa was always more popular than Cherly, and now I found the answer. That's why Che (Cherly), (you gotta be a) Muslim!" he said to the roaring laughter of fellow comedians and the audience.

Joshua, himself a minority Christian in Indonesia, went on to say, "In Indonesia, there's one thing that can't be defeated by any talent, however big: the majority."

Regardless of whether or not Joshua's words contained any truth, the FUIB took it as an insult towards their religion and are seeking legal action.

"Life in Indonesia is filled with Pancasila (nation's ideology) principles. We must respect all religions," said FUIB head Rahmat Imran, as quoted by CNN Indonesia yesterday.

Indonesia's controversial and highly-subjective blasphemy law has been used to convict and jail more than 100 people in the last 15 years, most of them belonging to minority beliefs.

Human rights activists believe the law – violation of which can be punishable by up to five years' imprisonment – has been used as an effective criminalization tool in politics and struggle for power, such as in the two-year imprisonment of the Chinese-Christian Ahok for blasphemy against Islam, the trial for which was carried out while he was running for reelection for the Jakarta governor post.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/islamic-group-report-former-child-singer-joshua-suherman-alleged-blasphemy-stand-performance/

Internet & social media

Unsatisfied Islamic hardliners plan further action against Facebook

Coconuts Jakarta - January 15, 2018

Last Friday's protest by Islamic hardliner groups under the coalition name "Alliance Against Facebook's Wickedness" came to a rather awkward and anti-climactic conclusion as the social media giant's Jakarta HQ was closed for the day, meaning the protesters' demands fell on deaf ears.

The hardliners, with protesters reportedly numbering over 1,000 people, had to settle for filing a letter to Facebook containing their demands and conveying their displeasure with the social media network for banning multiple pages and groups related to the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) which they argued was an attempt at censoring all things Islamic (though it in fact specific to FPI due to the group's promotion violence and discrimination, a violation of Facebook's community standards.

The hardliners say they are unsatisfied with the results of their protest and will continue with their moral crusade against Facebook.

"We'll wait until Monday and if there's no answer [from Facebook], we'll mobilize again. We might mobilize like before (on Friday), and we demand that the government get involved to protect the interests of its people," said Eggi Sudjana, an advisor for the protest movement, as quoted by Detik today.

While nobody was at Facebook HQ to listen to the protesters' demands, the company did issue a statement to the media saying that they are committed to keeping the platform safe from negative content and anyone who spreads hatred toward others.

As a result of having their pages blocked by Facebook, the Islamic hardliners also carried out a 24-hour blanket boycott of social media last month in a move that seemingly hurt nobody but themselves.

It appears that groups within the Alliance Against Facebook's Wickedness now have differing opinions on future boycotts of the social media network while an alternative is being created, with some calling for totally abandoning Facebook while others, like the FPI, conceding that they still need Facebook to preach their values online.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/unsatisfied-islamic-hardliners-plan-action-facebook-following-anti-climactic-protest/

Court sentences Saracen member to 32 months in prison

Jakarta Post - January 12, 2018

Rizal Harahap, Pekanbaru – The Pekanbaru District Court in Riau has sentenced M. Abdullah Harsono, a member and administrator of Saracen an online syndicate believed to have been involved in creating and spreading hoax news for money, to 32 months in prison.

On Thursday afternoon, the panel of judges found Abdullah guilty of "intentionally spreading information to incite hate" on social media and violating the Electronic Information and Transactions Law.

The bench said Abdullah had committed his crimes between April and Aug. 2015 from his residence in Pekanbaru. For instance, he led a hate speech campaign against President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo through an account in the name of Harsono Abdullah.

Abdullah had also used the name Muhammad Ali Firdaus to spread hate speech on Facebook to spearhead an anti-Chinese campaign.

"Therefore, the panel sentences the defendant to two years and eight months in prison," presiding judge Martin Ginting said. Thursday's sentence fell short of the four years prosecutors had sought.

Abdullah was arrested on Aug. 30 last year at his residence in Pekanbaru, a month after police arrested Jasriadi, Saracen's alleged leader. (ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/12/court-sentences-saracen-member-to-32-months-in-prison.html

Protest by Indonesian Islamists accuses Facebook of discrimination

Reuters - January 12, 2018

Kanupriya Kapoor, Jakarta – Several hundred Indonesian Islamists held a protest rally outside Facebook's headquarters in Jakarta on Friday, accusing the social media giant of discrimination for blocking some pages operated by hardline groups for allegedly spreading hate.

The protesters, many dressed in white and including members of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), marched from a mosque to Facebook's offices in the capital of the world's biggest Muslim-majority country.

"We want to remind Facebook to remain neutral and balanced," Slamet Maarif, a spokesman for FPI, told reporters.

"There are many accounts that spread hate about Islam, ulamas, that are allowed to operate. There are accounts that talk about Islamic humanitarian aid, those are blocked," said Maarif, adding that the group still planned to use Facebook and intended to open new accounts.

Facebook said its policy was to delete content that violated its community standards. "Our community standards are made to prevent organisations or individuals that urge hate speech or violence against those who hold different views," said a company representative, who declined to be identified.

A spokesman for Indonesia's communications ministry, Semuel Pangerapan, said, "We have never requested that FPI's accounts be closed."

Some Islamist groups in Indonesia use social media extensively and FPI usually has about 100 accounts on Facebook, as well as on other social media platforms such as Twitter.

The rally was peaceful, though more than 1,200 police officers were brought in to guard the offices, media said.

Indonesians are avid users of social media and Facebook had 115 million users in the second quarter of 2017, according to media citing its country manager, ranking the country fourth globally after the United States, India and Brazil.

Some of the protesters on Friday made live video streams of the rally to air via Facebook.

The vast majority of Indonesians practice a moderate form of Islam, though a reputation for religious tolerance has come under scrutiny as hardline groups muscle their way into public and political life in the young democracy.

President Joko Widodo has expressed concerns over hoax stories and hate speech spread online and has pledged to "clobber" any group threatening to destroy Indonesia's tradition of pluralism and moderate Islam.

At a rally late last year in Jakarta by Muslims opposing U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a body of Muslim clerics urged a boycott of U.S. and Israel products if Trump did not revoke his action.

So far there has been no indication the measure will gain traction and Indonesia's vice president said calls to stop using U.S. goods and technology were misguided.

[Additional reporting by Cindy Silviana; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Clarence Fernandez.]

Source: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-indonesia-protest-facebook/protest-by-indonesian-islamists-accuses-facebook-of-discrimination-idUKKBN1F111C?rpc=401&

Gov't launches 'web crawler' to seek out negative internet content

Jakarta Globe - January 11, 2018

Herman and Dames Alexander Sinaga, Jakarta – The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology launched a web crawler, operated by a special team known as Cyber Drone 9, at the beginning of the year to actively seek out negative content on the internet and prevent Indonesians from accessing it.

A web crawler, sometimes called a "spider," is an internet bot – a software program that runs automated tasks on the World Wide Web – that systematically browses websites, typically for the purpose of indexing them.

Although the government sees the internet as a useful tool for economic development, it has become increasingly concerned over the impact uncontrolled access to information has on the world's largest Muslim-majority country.

The government has demonstrated an interest in increasing its control over offensive online content, particularly pertaining to pornography and radicalism.

Teguh Arifiyadi, head of investigations and litigation at the Communication Ministry, explained that the web crawler works similarly to common search engines on the internet, but that it has the ability to find a greater volume of negative content while also operating much faster.

"Unlike common search engines... our web crawler does not only gather information, but uses smart technology [such as machine learning] to analyze what content should be taken down or prioritized for filtering," Teguh told BeritaSatu.com on Monday (08/01).

He said the web crawler is able to sort negative content based on popularity and its potential to go viral. However, the results are first sent to a verification team, which will then take action based on the findings.

"For instance, if 10,000 items of negative content are found, not all of it will necessarily be blocked. It will be subject to human analysis, because it is still a machine running on software; it cannot perform a contextual analysis. But we will keep teaching the machine, because it uses artificial intelligence. The results will become more accurate with time, as the system continues to run," he said.

Teguh, who is also founder of the Indonesia Cyber Law Community, said negative content that will be targeted include anything considered violations of the country's laws and regulations, such as pornography, gambling, depictions of violence, radicalism and discrimination based on race and religion.

He added that the government will coordinate with internet service providers and social media platforms to block content that violate laws and regulations.

Porn websites

Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, director general for informatics applications at the Communication Ministry, meanwhile said the web crawler is badly needed because manual search methods do not offer satisfactory results.

He said manual screening was based on community reports, requests from state institutions and manual search efforts by Trust Positive, a special team set up by the ministry.

"We estimate that there are around 30 million pornographic websites on the internet, while we have only been able to block 700,000. Only major websites have been blocked because it had to be done manually. Meanwhile, there are still many smaller websites, but it is hard to find them. By using this web crawler, the search for negative content on the internet can be faster," Semuel said.

He explained that the web crawler is operated by a special team of 58 people who form part of Cyber Drone 9, situated on the eighth floor of the ministry's headquarters in Jakarta.

He said the web-crawler software was procured in an open tender process, which started in August last year. The contract was awarded to state-owned telecommunications firm Industri Telekomunikasi Indonesia (INTI), based on its bid of Rp 198 billion ($13.8 million), which was adjusted to Rp 194 billion.

However, Semuel said the web crawler will not be able to completely eliminate all negative content on the internet because more such content is continuously being added. But he expressed hope that the system would help to block access to at least half of the 30 million pornographic websites within a year.

Digital literacy

Nukman Luthfie, a social-media observer, meanwhile said improving digital literacy among the public may help reduce the adverse impact of negative content on the internet.

"In addition to the use of that machine, it is also important to educate people on how to use the internet more positively. It is just like driving in traffic. Despite the presence of police and traffic signs, drivers must still be educated," Nukman said.

He added that digital literacy education should not only be the responsibility of the Communication Ministry, but also other ministries.

"For example, the Ministry of Education and Culture should provide digital literacy education to students, starting from junior high school. By doing so, the public can learn to use the internet for more positive applications," Nukman said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/govt-launches-web-crawler-to-seek-out-negative-internet-content/

'Alliance Against Facebook's Wickedness' to protest at digital giant's

Coconuts Jakarta - January 11, 2018

A mass protest against Facebook by hardline Islamic groups is set to take place tomorrow, with their newly formed umbrella organization featuring the rather dramatic name "Aliansi Tolak Kezholiman Facebook" (Alliance Against Facebook's Wickedness) specially for the occasion.

The protest, following the trend of previous demonstrations carried out by Islamists, is being dubbed "112" to denote tomorrow's date. Their displeasure and denouncement of Facebook is due to the social media giant banning multiple pages and groups related to the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) for promoting violence and discrimination, though they believe the censorship has extended to all things Islamic.

"It started when Muslims' accounts, whether they were for preaching, raising social issues or humanitarian concerns, were all blocked without explanation. They tried making the accounts again but they got blocked again," said Ali Al'Athos, the coordinator for Alliance Against Facebook's Wickedness, as quoted by CNN Indonesia yesterday.

"We don't get it, when it comes to Muslims posting (Quranic) verses they get blocked. All sorts of mass organization pages, fanpages, and even Ustad Arifin Ilham (a celebrity preacher) were blocked. Other preachers' accounts were also blocked after they were created only for a few minutes."

Facebook Indonesia has not responded to the threat of the protest, nor did they respond when the same Islamists called for a 24-hour blanket boycott of social media on Christmas day (a move that seemingly hurt nobody but the Islamists themselves).

The Islamists have been promoting alternative social media and online platforms that better suit their agendas, including an Indonesian search engine called Geevv to replace Google. Ironically, netizens have pointed out that Google actually does far more to censor content that is considered negative by or discriminatory towards Islam (including pornography) than Geevv.

pilihan FPI emang jooossss ???????? – Posted by Humor Politik on Sunday, December 31, 2017

(The above compares search suggestions based on keywords related to Islam between Google and Geevv. On Google, suggestions for "jilbab" mostly had to do with fashion trends, whereas Geevv gave suggestions catering to headscarf fetishists. Geevv also brought up numerous results relating to fugitive FPI leader Rizieq Shihab's pornography case in its suggestions, whereas Google did not.)

The Jakarta Metro Police estimates that there will be around 1,000 people protesting outside the Facebook Indonesia office on Jalan Gatot Soebroto tomorrow. The protest is expected to start in the afternoon after Friday prayers.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/hardline-islamic-group-alliance-facebooks-wickedness-protest-digital-giants-jakarta-hq-tomorrow/

Environment & natural disasters

Indonesia falling way behind in mangrove rehabilitation

Jakarta Globe - January 10, 2018

Dames Alexander Sinaga, Jakarta – Indonesia is still far behind its target of rehabilitating 1.8 million hectares of degraded mangrove forests by 2045 due to a lack of money and human resources.

According to data from the Environment and Forestry Ministry, Indonesia has 3.5 million hectares of mangrove forests, 1.8 million of which are in extremely degraded condition.

Muhammad Firman, the ministry's director of soil and water conservation, said from 2010 to 2016 it has only managed to rehabilitate 32,653 hectares of degraded mangrove forests.

Firman said the government only sets aside enough money to rehabilitate 500 hectares of mangrove forests each year from the state budget (APBN).

"We are looking for more funding from other stakeholders [so we can achieve our target]," Firman said in Jakarta on Tuesday (09/10).

Firman pointed out other factors that have slowed down rehabilitation of mangrove forests: illegal logging, the charcoal industry, land conversion for development, aquaculture and pollution.

According to Firman, Indonesia desperately needs mangrove forests to fight pollution, prevent abrasion from rising sea levels and reduce carbon emissions.

Mangrove forests can also be turned into attractive tourist destinations since marine life flourishes where there are a lot of mangrove trees.

Firman also said that more economic empowerment programs for communities living near mangrove forests will be needed to prevent them from spoiling the forests for money.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-falling-way-behind-mangrove-rehabilitation/

Indonesian activists, church attack palm plantation bill

UCA News - January 9, 2018

Indonesian activists and church people have reacted angrily to a draft bill set to go before legislators aimed at regulating the palm oil industry, saying it panders to large scale palm companies and fails to protect people's rights and the environment.

The bill is scheduled to be discussed in the Indonesian parliament and likely be passed into law later this year.

The legislation has been drawn up to regulate the industry, especially large firms, which have come in for some heavy criticism from rights and environmental groups, as well as the Catholic Church over alleged environmental destruction and the marginalization of poor and indigenous people.

Palm oil plantations in Indonesia cover more than 12 million hectares, of which 7 million are company owned, and the rest by the government and small farmers.

Critics of the industry say the proposed law is seriously flawed and will fail to give the protections it is supposed to provide.

Inda Fatinaware, executive director of environmental group, Sawit Watch, said many articles in the draft overlap and will give more room for companies to violate other laws including deforestation.

"It does not care about the welfare of farmers and workers, and has the potential to exacerbate social conflict," she told ucanews.com on Jan.4.

"It also does not aim to overcome land conflicts, which often occur between indigenous people and companies," she said.

Mansuetus Darto, director of the Palm Oil Farmers Union, said small farmers object to the draft, as it mitigates sanctions on corporations that violate laws.

According to existing Indonesian criminal law, environmental destruction and neglecting the rights of employees carries a five-year prison term and a fine of US$380,000. But the draft allows a sentence of 16 months in prison and an $11,000 fine.

"We fear the proposed law will be abused by big companies to establish palm oil plantation in peatlands," he said. "It [the draft bill] should be rejected because it does not help small farmers," he added.

Sacred Heart Father Anselmus Amo, who heads Merauke Archdiocese's Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission said Indonesia does not need special law for the palm oil industry because it already has a plantation law.

Father Amo, who campaigns for Papuan farmers effected by big business, also said the proposed law will only benefit large scale investors, not local people.

"I'm afraid it will provide more opportunities for large scale plantations in Papua," he said.

Antonius Sido, 46, a farmer in North Kalimantan province, said if the draft is passed, more small farmers would fall victim to land annexation.

"I disagree with the draft because we will lose our land and be more exposed to flooding because of deforestation," he told ucanews.com.

Some legislators, however, are trying to allay concerns. Hamdhani, who sits on a parliamentary committee overseeing agriculture, told reporters recently the rights of both farmers and palm oil companies would be taken into consideration during the bill's reading and article could be amended, without providing further details.

He said palm oil is a big industry and about 30 million people work in the sector. In 2016, it contributed about US$20 billion to the national Gross Domestic Product.

The new law, he said, would help the government in regulating an industry that contributes greatly to the national economy.

Source: https://www.ucanews.com/news/indonesian-activists-church-attack-palm-plantation-bill/81182

Health & education

Anti-vaccine hoax features photo of famous porn star as doctor, becomes

Coconuts Jakarta - January 11, 2018

The anti-vaccine movement in Indonesia is unfortunately all too real, blamed for being one of the biggest factors behind the deadly outbreak of diphtheria in the country that has killed dozens since late last year.

Anti-vaxxers in Indonesia often cite religious reasons for refusing vaccines, believing in and spreading hoaxes such as a pernicious one about vaccines containing traces of pig DNA, making them forbidden in Islam. But there are other kinds of conspiracy theories being spread to turn people against vaccinations as well, such as this one that was first posted in June of last year but which has recently become the subject of much online mockery.

The caption of the post summarizes the content of the article it links to, saying that an American doctor named Dr Bernard Mahfoudz is completely against vaccines as he believes that they lower people's drive. If vaccines were to be given to people fighting in a war, then their fighting spirit would diminish in a short time.

Beyond the lack of any actual scientific evidence to back that up and the fact that the article was posted on a Blogspot page, keen-eyed netizens recently figured out who Dr Bernard is.

What they learned is that, first, Dr. Bernard doesn't actually exist, and second, the photo said to be him is actually that of famous American porn star Johnny Sins.

In case you're sin-free from porn, Sins achieved meme stardom a while back as "the most talented man in the world", as his role in porn movies include him playing a cop, a teacher, and – you guessed it – a doctor, among other roles.

This guy's reaction to the hoax probably sums up how most people feel about it:

I have to share oxygen with people who believe this kind of information. pic.twitter.com/vs5Eq9BDYh – Dennis Adishwara (@OmDennis) January 9, 2018

Our favorite piss take on the hoax though has got to be Twitter thread by Victor Kamang (a well known satirist on social media in Indonesia), who gave hilarious context to screenshots from Johnny Sins' numerous porn scenes, weaving them into a story detailing his amazing journey from anti-vaccine medical professional to the rest of his incredible career.

– Because he's anti-vaccine, the Association of American Doctors fired Dr Bernard Mahfoudz. He then enlisted in the military. pic.twitter.com/QJ7NgZ8xJW – @victorkamang (@victorkamang) January 10, 2018

– During a mission in Kandahar, Tajikistan, Bernard Mahfoudz willingly educated the people about health. pic.twitter.com/Vj0urTlJEK – @victorkamang (@victorkamang) January 10, 2018

– Even though there were many temptations from women while he was on duty, Dr Bernard Mahfoudz is able to resist them. When asked what his secret was, he replied: "worship". pic.twitter.com/XkY1dA4270 – @victorkamang (@victorkamang) January 10, 2018

– Because of his kindness and his achievements, Bernard Mahfoudz became popular in the army and rose up through the ranks. But General George Patton (who is an unbeliever) was bothered by this and discharged Bernard. pic.twitter.com/cTy6hE4K2d – @victorkamang (@victorkamang) January 10, 2018

– Bernard Mahfoudz's noble spirit and willingness to help and protect others led him to enlist as a police officer. pic.twitter.com/qwAa0JYydM – @victorkamang (@victorkamang) January 10, 2018

– Day by day Bernard Mahfoudz handles many domestic cases such as power outages, domestic violence, prisoners disputes, and others. He did his job well. pic.twitter.com/c9CJw8NRz6 – @victorkamang (@victorkamang) January 10, 2018

– Because of many attempted briberies and calls for him to return to medicine, Bernard Mahfoudz left his police career to pursue a career in education. pic.twitter.com/aOTMgZpkHg – @victorkamang (@victorkamang) January 10, 2018

– "Marry me Mahfoudz, please. I'm begging you!" said his teaching assistant, Miss Mia Khalifa. pic.twitter.com/avZuzzhTYe – @victorkamang (@victorkamang) January 10, 2018

– His colleague from Harvard Dr Eva Lovia happens to work at NASA and asked Bernard Mahfoudz if he's interested in coming in for an interview. NASA is carrying out Project Flat Earth. Bernard Mahfoudz accepted the offer. "For science," he said. pic.twitter.com/lZfq3W62BI – @victorkamang (@victorkamang) January 10, 2018

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/anti-vaccine-hoax-indonesia-features-photo-famous-porn-star-johnny-sins-doctor-becomes-butt-jokes/

After video of anti-Ahok group leader drinking camel urine goes viral,

Coconuts Jakarta - January 9, 2018

Bachtiar Usir is both famous and infamous for many reasons. An ultra-conservative ulema (Islamic scholar), he is the leader of the the National Movement to Guard the Indonesian Council of Ulama's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI), an umbrella organization for hardline Islamist groups that organized the politically-charged blasphemy protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

He has been accused of sending money to forces supporting ISIS and has talked about targeting rich Chinese Indonesians for not being "generous" enough. Most recently, he's been all over the news for drinking camel urine (mixed with camel milk).

In the video posted to his personal Instagram page, which has already been viewed more than 200,000 times, Bachtiar can be seen at the Hudaibiyah Camel Farm in Saudi Arabia. Noting their claimed medicinal properties (the accompanying text on Instagram contains verses from Islamic hadiths in which the Prophet Mohammed recommended others to drink camel urine and milk), Bachtiar mixes the yellow and white liquids together and notes the concoction tastes both bitter and rich, before getting somebody else to try it while others off-screen can be heard laughing.

The video quickly went viral and set off quite a bit of debate amongst Indonesians about the dangers and virtues of drinking camel urine and milk, which is indeed a practice condoned and recommended by Islamic teachings as a cure for ailments. Researchers in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries have claimed there is evidence the desert mammal's bodily fluids can even be used to treat cancer.

However, the Indonesian government has made its position on the imbibing of camel urine clear. In response to Bachtiar's video, the Health Ministry's head of communications, Oscar Primadi, gave a statement to CNN Indonesia warning others not to follow the GNPF-MUI head's example.

Oscar said the main concern is that people who drink camel urine are at high risk of developing Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) otherwise known as camel flu. He noted that the World Health Organization has also warned against the practice due to MERS concerns, and in fact has recommended that all contact with camels be avoided as much as possible to avoid spreading the serious infection. He also mentioned that mixing camel milk with the urine did not decrease the risks.

Noorhaidi Hasan, a professor of Islamic politics at the State Islamic University of Sunan Kalijaga in Yogyakarta, told BBC Indonesia that the heated social media debate over the benefits of camel urine is partly due to Indonesia's political polarization between those "branded as conservative Islam and as progressive Islam," a polarization he said would continue through to the 2019 election and shape Indonesian politics for quite some time.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/video-anti-ahok-group-leader-drinking-camel-urine-goes-viral-health-ministry-issues-warning-practice/

LBGT & same-sex marriage

Police arrest 5 men for holding 'gay sex party' in private villa using

Coconuts Jakarta - January 15, 2018

While LGBT and human rights defenders in Indonesia celebrate a small victory in December, when the Constitutional Court rejected a petition that would've made homosexual acts (and all forms of consensual sex outside of marriage) illegal, recent arrests show that Indonesian authorities do not need a clear legal basis to justify criminalizing homosexuality when they can just twist the country's ambiguously worded pornography law towards that purpose.

On Saturday night, police in Cianjur, West Java, arrested five men for holding what they and the Indonesian media termed a "gay sex party" at a private villa in Cipanas.

Police said they found out about the event after investigating a dating app used by "sexually deviant men" and learned about the event taking place in the villa.

Cianjur Police said the oldest of the men arrested was 50 while the youngest, still technically a minor, was 16. When they raided the villa, they said the men were undressed and they found "evidence" including condoms, lubricant, drugs and alcohol.

While the presence of an underage boy is troubling, police did not make the arrests based on charges of statutory rape. And they were, of course, not arrested for homosexual acts since Indonesia has no such law (except in the sharia-enforcing province of Aceh). So, what were they charged with?

"The perpetrators will be charged with violating Article 36 of Law number 44/2008 on pornography, with a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of Rp 5 billion," Cianjur police chief Soliyah told CNN Indonesia.

Article 36 of the pornography law specifically applies to "any person displaying himself or any other person in a public performance or display depicting nudity, sexual exploitation, coercion or other pornographic actions".

As with other similar police raids on private events last year, authorities seems to have blurred the definition of public in the pornography law to such a degree that any sexual acts between consenting adults in a private residence could be considered criminally pornographic.

Last year, West Java police chief Anton Charliyan announced plans to create a task force targeting LGBT Indonesians living in the region, saying they suffered a "disease of the body and soul" and calling on the public to report their activities.

Members of the LGBT community in Indonesia have faced increasing levels of persecution since a moral panic over gay rights erupted in 2016, with homophobic hysteria perpetuated through hoaxes and legitimized by governmental authorities.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/west-java-police-arrest-5-men-holding-gay-sex-party-private-villa-using-pornography-law/

Indonesian Air Force tweet sparks LGBT debate

Straits Times - January 10, 2018

Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network) =- An exchange of tweets between the Indonesian Air Force's Twitter administrator and its followers has opened a debate on whether members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community were allowed to serve in the country's Armed Forces.

It all started when the Air Force's official account, @_TNIAU, tweeted that every soldier was forbidden from committing immoral acts, and they would be discharged if they did. A follower using the Twitter handle RatnaPurba (@ratpruba) then posted a reply asking: "What about the LGBT?"

The Twitter administrator responded by saying that LGBT people could not join the Air Force, and that such sexual preferences were a mental disorder.

"There is (a) mental health test in the selection process. LGBT is included as a mental disorder. If there are still many candidate soldiers who are mentally healthy, then why should unhealthy ones be accepted?" the admin tweeted in Indonesian on Tuesday (Jan 9).

The response sparked a debate on Twitter, with some agreeing but many more disagreeing with the statement. Others questioned the professionalism of the administrator for tweeting in an informal manner and speech.

"It's up to you if you are against (the LGBT community), but don't eliminate their right to be equal among others," @jea_hana replied.

"This is a sensitive issue, but the TNI must be firm," the official account tweeted back, referring to the Indonesian military. "TNI soldiers must be physically and mentally healthy... Same-sex intercourse is a sin, right? I am really sorry, but even animals never miss their target (in mating)," it tweeted.

Homosexuality, although not illegal in Indonesia, remains a sensitive public issue amid growing conservatism and comments from public figures condemning the community.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesian-air-force-tweet-sparks-lgbt-debate

Population & migration

Palm oil association urges gov't to revive Suharto-era transmigration

Jakarta Globe - January 14, 2018

Muhamad Al Azhari, Jakarta – The Indonesian Palm Oil Association, or Gapki, urged the government to revive its now defunct transmigration program, first implemented under former President Suharto, to empower rural farmers and enrich palm oil producing regions.

Gapki secretary general Togar Sitanggang said in a statement on Friday (12/01) that the government's transmigration program made a significant contribution to the nation's development as it helped open up isolated areas and successfully enriched workers in rural areas through improved resource exploitation.

In the 1980s and 1990s, many Balinese and Javanese workers moved to rural areas in remote locations in Kalimantan, Sumatra and Papua to cultivate land and extract natural resources under the transmigration program.

Togar, who spoke at a discussion session in Jakarta last week, said that many isolated regions have been able expand their administrative status to "regency" thanks to increased population growth and economic activity due to the program.

Many of these so-called transmigrants managed to find work as palm oil farmers, helping to stimulate local economies and create new settlements and towns.

The program continued into the 2000s, though the central government later turned its focus on local transmigration to better reallocate labor within regions.

Indonesia is the world's largest palm oil producer. According to Gapki data, about 50 million Indonesians in their everyday lives depend on palm oil and its derivatives, be it directly or indirectly. In 2016, the sector brought $18.6 billion in foreign exchange revenue.

The administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has signaled that it is paying serious attention to the sector, although there is no stated goal to revive the decades-long transmigration program. The current administration is focused on increasing plantation productivity and strengthening the role of smallholder farmers.

Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Darmin Nasution said at a palm oil conference last year that boosting palm oil plantation productivity and improving farmers' welfare are integral parts of the government's agrarian reform initiative. This is aimed at narrowing wealth disparity through better land utilization and redistribution.

Jokowi initiated a replanting program by planting oil palm trees with high-quality seeds for more productive crops in plantation areas owned by smallholder farmers in Banyuasin, South Sumatra, in October.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/palm-oil-association-urges-govt-revive-suharto-era-transmigration-program/

Corruption & abuse of power

Indonesian Police arrest suspects behind alleged fake sick letter

Coconuts Jakarta - January 15, 2018

When you really want to skip work today but you're annoyingly healthy, who you gonna call? While many businesses and government offices in Indonesia require official documentation of illness from a hospital or doctor before granting sick leave, as with so many other things in this country, for the right price you can find somebody to help you skirt those rules.

At least, you could (and probably still can, you'll just have to look harder). The Indonesian police say they have arrested the culprits behind a suspected fake sick letter "syndicate" in Jakarta, who could produce a legitimate-looking letter indicating your illness for a reasonable price.

The Indonesian Police's Head of Sub Directorate II of the Criminal Investigation Department, Commissioner Asep Safrudin said the criminal operation marketed their product on Instagram with the profile name @suratsakitjkt (Jakarta sick letters) and a blog. Three of the people suspected to be behind the scheme have been arrested.

Asep said the investigation began when the Ministry of Health learned about the sick letter service through social media. Based on the evidence they found, the commissioner said around 50 letters were ordered per day at a cost of IDR25,000 – IDR50,000 (US$1.87 – US$3.75) and their customers included employees and students. They have been charged with selling illegal services over the internet and for impersonating medical practitioners and could face up to 5 years in prison.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesian-police-arrest-suspects-behind-alleged-fake-sick-letter-syndicate/

Fredrich Yunadi calls for boycott against KPK

Tempo - January 15, 2018

Jakarta – Setya Novanto's former lawyer Fredrich Yunadi said that his arrest made by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) was a form of criminalization against lawyers. He also urged all Indonesian lawyers to boycott the anti-graft commission.

"I urge all Indonesian lawyers to boycott the KPK," said Fredrich at the KPK headquarters on Monday, January 15.

The KPK on Wednesday, January 10, named Fredrich as a suspect for obstructing justice and allegedly attempting to hamper KPK's investigation against Setya Novanto.

Fredrich claimed that the KPK had insulted the Constitutional Court and the Law on advocates. "They don't have proof," said Fredrich.

KPK deputy chief Laode Muhammad Syarif dismissed Fredrich's statement by saying that Friedrich had drawn an incorrect conclusion implicating that legal proceedings against him was an act against lawyers and advocates.

"There are many lawyers who do their job without hampering any law enforcement efforts," said Laode.

Academician and lawyer Abdul Fickar Hadjar views that the KPK's decision to arrest Fredrich is not a form of criminalization against lawyers.

"Fredrich Yunadi's behavior in defending Setya Novanto as a lawyer does not represent Indonesian lawyers as a whole," he said.

– Riani Sanusi Putri

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/15/055914852/Fredrich-Yunadi-Calls-for-Boycott-against-KPK

KPK arrests Setya's no-show lawyer

Jakarta Post - January 13, 2018

Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has arrested Fredrich Yunadi, a lawyer and suspect of obstruction of justice, only hours after he failed to appear for questioning on Friday.

Fredrich had allegedly helped graft defendant and his former client Setya Novanto to avoid being investigated in the e-ID graft case.

After pursuing him in various locations in Jakarta, KPK investigators managed to arrest Fredrich in an undisclosed area in South Jakarta on Friday, minutes before midnight, KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said.

"We had warned [him] to ensure he show up for [Friday's] questioning," Febri said on Saturday. "The investigators had waited for him until working hours were over on Friday."

Febri said the reason for the arrest was because the investigators had enough evidence to pin Fredrich in the obstruction of justice case.

Following his arrest, Fredrich arrived at the KPK headquarters at around 12:10 a.m. on Saturday and refused to comment, kompas.com reported.

The KPK has said Fredrich, along with other suspect Bimanesh Sutarjo, a doctor at private hospital Medika Permata Hijau in Jakarta, had allegedly conspired to manipulate Setya's medical records and admit him to hospital following a car accident last November, thus allowing Setya, who at that time was a graft suspect, to avoid being investigated by the KPK. Bimanesh was detained earlier on Friday after he underwent questioning.

Fredrich has represented Setya since the latter was first named a graft suspect in July 2017. Last December, Fredrich quit the job when Setya was about to face the graft trial. (kuk/ipa)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/13/KPK-arrests-setyas-no-show-lawyer.html

Setya Novanto asks to be 'justice collaborator' in big win for KPK

Coconuts Jakarta - January 12, 2018

How the mighty have fallen. Once infamous as one of Indonesia's most "invincible" politicians for his ability to dodge corruption charge after corruption charges, former House Speaker Setya Novanto recently sent a letter to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) asking to be a "justice collaborator", which is a wonderfully Indonesian term for what in other countries might be termed plea bargaining (i.e. testifying against criminal co-conspirators in exchange for reduced charges or sentences).

The KPK yesterday confirmed that they had received the justice collaborator request from Setya, who is currently undergoing trial for his role in the massive electronic identity card (e-KTP) graft scandal that is estimated to have cost the government IDR2.3 trillion (US$161 million) in losses.

"[The articles of the criminal code Setya has been charged with] come with a life sentence. I think if [the justice collaborator proposal] is accepted, similar to what happened to Andi Agustinus, the legal charges could be reduced to a sentence of eight years in jail. This might be the consideration behind his request for JC status," KPK spokesman, Febri Diansyah told Antara yesterday.

Febri said the proposal would have to be studied and there would be several requirements Setya would have to meet before he could have his charges reduced, including admitting his own guilty actions.

However, the KPK also requires that justice collaborators not be the "main" culprit behind a crime. While several other politicians have already gotten swept up in the e-KTP investigation, there has not been any concrete evidence to suggest an actor with a bigger role than Setya.

But with his former lawyer, Fredrich Yunadi, having now also been named a suspect by the KPK for obstructing their investigation (in connection with that extremely suspicious car crash incident in November), it looks like the former House Speaker's house of cards is falling down, and he may be desperate to do whatever he can to save himself from a lifetime in prison.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/setya-novanto-asks-justice-collaborator-e-snitch-reduced-charges-big-win-KPK/

KPK names Setya's lawyer, doctor suspects in obstruction of justice case

Jakarta Post - January 10, 2018

Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has leveled up its investigation into an obstruction of justice case by naming an attorney and a medical doctor as suspects for allegedly helping embattled politician and graft suspect Setya Novanto avoid law enforcement.

The antigraft agency had named Setya's lawyer, Frederich Yunadi, and Bimanesh Sutarjo, a medical doctor at private hospital Medika in Permata Hijau, Jakarta, suspects on Wednesday.

"There had been allegations of purportedly preventing the corruption investigation by the KPK into the e-ID case," commissioner Basaria Panjaitan said in a press conference on Wednesday.

Investigators raided Setya's house on Nov. 15 in order to arrest him as he had failed to respond to the agency's summonses. A day later, he was involved in an accident when the car he was in hit an electricity pole. He was admitted to Medika before eventually being detained by the KPK on Nov. 19

"They [Fredrich and Bimanesh allegedly] cooperated to admit Setya to the hospital for treatment with a manipulated medical record so that he could avoid investigation by KPK investigators," Basaria added.

The KPK also suspected Fredrich was involved in the hospital stint as he allegedly had arrived earlier in the hospital to coordinate with doctors, she added.

"We urge those who work as lawyers and doctors to work in line with their professions' code of ethics and not get involved in the hampering of legal enforcement efforts, especially in graft probes," Basaria said, adding that the KPK thanked doctors at Cipto Mangunkusumo National Central General Hospital as well as the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI), which had both helped investigators in the case.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/10/KPK-names-setyas-lawyer-medical-doctor-suspects-in-obstruction-of-justice-case.html

ICW names senior journalist Najwa Shihab as its 2017 anti-corruption

Jakarta Globe - January 9, 2018

Dames Alexander Sinaga, Jakarta – Antigraft watchdog Indonesia Corruption Watch, or ICW, has named senior television journalist Najwa Shihab as its 2017 anti-corruption public icon.

ICW said Najwa – who is widely known as the presenter of the popular weekly talk show Mata Najwa (Najwa's Eyes) – was considered to have integrity, great concern regarding corruption issues and power to influence the public by ICW.

"We have chosen Najwa Shihab as our 2017 anti-corruption public figure. Najwa has been supportive of the fight to eradicate corruption and has been campaigning against corruption through her job until now," ICW researcher Ade Irawan said in a statement received by the Jakarta Globe on Monday (08/01).

Ade hopes Najwa can be constantly critical about corruption issues and always disseminate messages of anti-corruption to community more widely.

Ade also said that Najwa visited the headquarters of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to urge President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to quickly resolve the investigation into an attack on Novel Baswedan, a senior KPK investigator who suffered acid burns to his face from two unknown assailants in April last year.

Antigraft and human rights activists have repeatedly called for the establishment of an independent joint fact-finding team directly led by Jokowi to investigate the incident.

Ade said that 2017 is the first year that ICW has named a public anti-corruption icon.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/icw-names-senior-journalist-najwa-shihab-2017-anti-corruption-public-icon/

Politics & religion

Budi Gunawan named as chairman of Indonesian Mosque Council

Tempo - January 13, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Former Deputy Police Chief Budi Gunawan appointed as the Chairman of Indonesian Mosque Council (DMI) for the 2017-2022 period. He was officiated along with a number of other officials by Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

"A mosque is a place to educate and build the strength of the people's economy," said Budi, during the DMI inauguration at Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta, on Friday, January 12.

Budi asks for the support of the people so the DMI able to function a mosque as a center of Islamic sermon, community development, and a place to unite. According to him, DMI can be optimized to improve people's faith, character, intelligence, and prosperity.

The retired four-star police general insisted that the DMI should keep on track and not be used for politics. "DMI is determined to improve the welfare and unite the people," said Budi.

The 2017-2022 DMI management board was formed in a congress held at the Pondok Gede Hajj Dormitory, East Jakarta, on November 10-12, 2017. Budi is the Deputy Chairman of the DMI Expert Council.

Budi Gunawan retired as a four-star police on December 11, 2017, at the age of 58 years. He served as the chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) despite his retirement as the police.

Besides Budi Gunawan, other DMI board of members include Deputy Police Chief Comr. Gen. Syafruddin, Minister of Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, Minister of Communication and Informatics Rudiantara, and Minister of Agrarian and Spatial Planning Sofyan Djalil.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/13/055914799/Budi-Gunawan-Named-as-Chairman-of-Indonesian-Mosque-Council

After 'winning' them Jakarta election, Islamist hardliners lash out at

Coconuts Jakarta - January 12, 2018

Some people really thought that the movement to persecute former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for his alleged blasphemy was just about defending religion and not politics.

Well, to put it bluntly, those people were wrong. The Islamist hardliners that organized and mobilized the protests against Ahok not only take credit for winning the election for current Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, they are now upset that the political parties backing Anies did not accepting their candidates for this year's regional elections so that they could use the same religious attack playbook to win again.

At a press conference in Jakarta yesterday, Al-Khaththath, the secretary general of the hardline Islamic People's Forum (FUI), explained how upset the Islamist hardliners who had banded together as the Alumni 212 (named for the massive December 2, 2016, protest against Ahok) were with the Gerindra, PKS and PAN political parties for not accepting any of their five recommended candidates for the 2018 regional elections.

"We supported the victory of the Governor of Anies-Sandi with the spirit of 212, the spirit of Al-Maidah 51. We hope it will happen in other places," Al-Khaththath said as quoted by Detik.

In fact, Al-Khaththath said that Rizieq Shihab, the fugitive firebrand founder of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) has asked the leaders of the three political parties that the same strategy that had been used to defeat Ahok in Jakarta be carried out in other provinces using candidates recommended by the 212 Alumni.

"The message of Habib Rizieq, when I went to Mecca, was to ask the three party leaders to copy-paste [the strategy] used in Jakarta to win in other provinces. Well, of course I do not know if there is misperception that we would support them unconditionally, perhaps that is what they thought," Al-Khaththath said.

The FUI official's shocking statements seem to have been prompted by accusations by similarly shocking accusation made by La Nyalla Mahmud Mattalitti, the former chairman of Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) and current chairman of East Java Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), against Gerindra party leader Prabowo Subianto.

Al-Khaththath said La Nyalla was one of the five candidates that had been recommended by the 212 Alumni. At the same press conference yesterday, La Nyalla said the reason he could not move forward in the East Java elections is because he could not pay a sum of IDR40 billion (US$3 million) demanded by Prabowo, even though he had given Gerindra several billion already.

Gerindra officials have denied the accusation but it is on the record that Ly Nyalla did receive official political accreditation to run in the election as Gerindra's official candidate on December 11, but that it was rescinded shortly thereafter.

Whatever the truth behind the conflict, it's clear that Islamist hardliners and some political party elites are not seeing eye-to-eye. In the end, the concerns about the effect Islamization of Indonesia's elections may be put to rest, not by a general rejection of religious influence on secular politics, but by petty bickering and corruption (which we're totally fine with).

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/winning-jakarta-election-islamist-hardliners-lash-political-parties-not-accepting-candidates/

MUI says it'll remain neutral in 2018 elections, asks other Islamic

Coconuts Jakarta - January 11, 2018

There has been a great deal of concern about the increasing politicization of Islam in Indonesia, especially ahead of this year's regional elections.

After the the blasphemy charges against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama were successfully politicized through massive demonstrations that eventually led to his defeat in the election and imprisonment, many observers have expressed concerns that religious-based attacks would be used with increasing frequency to achieve similar political goals in future elections.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the country's highest Muslim clerical body, says that they do not want their institution used by any politician to gain support in the upcoming 2018 regional elections while also asking that other Islamic organizations remain neutral and not voice their support for any particular candidates.

"When it comes to matters of [political] support, then MUI appeals to the public not use MUI or any other Islamic mass organization," said MUI deputy secretary general Nadjamuddin Ramli to CNN Indonesia yesterday.

Many argued that it was MUI who legitimized the religious-based attacks on Ahok by releasing a fatwa declaring him guilty of blasphemy, which led to the formation of an alliance of hardline Islamic groups called 'The National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa'. MUI eventually distanced themselves from the hardliner groups organizing the anti-Ahok protests and recommended that their followers not join the demonstrations (to little evident effect).

Nadjamuddin said they want the next elections to run in peacefully without anybody using MUI's name, especially in their campaigns. He also called on other Islamic groups to not get involved in politics.

"Islamic organizations are not political parties, the vision and mission of Islamic organizations is to empower their members," Nadjamuddin said.

MUI secretary Anwar Abbas and MUI Vice Chairman shared similar sentiments, asking that candidates focused their campaigns on discussions of policies that would empower the people rather than attacking members of other religions or ethnic groups. They warned that such attacks, as well as the spread of fake news and hoaxes during the election, had the potential to create tensions and conflict before the elections.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesian-ulema-council-says-itll-remain-neutral-2018-elections-asks-islamic-groups/

Fugitive FPI leader Habib Rizieq calls for 'copy-paste' of divisive

Detik News - January 11, 2018

Seysha Desnikia, Jakarta – Islamic Community Forum (FUI) Secretary general Muhammad Al-Khaththath has expressed his disappointment with several political parties contesting the 2018 regional elections (Pilkada).

This is because the Alumni 212's recommendations on nominations for regional candidates in the 2018 simultaneous elections have not been headed by the political parties.

This was conveyed when Al-Khaththath attended a press conference by former Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) chairperson and businessperson La Nyalla Mattalitti on the East Java gubernatorial elections at the Mbok Berek Restaurant on Jl. Prof Dr Soepomo in Tebet, South Jakarta, on Tuesday January 11.

Earlier, Al-Khaththath explained that three political parties had failed to heed a recommendation submitted by the Alumni 212 for candidates in five regional elections.

Yet, said Al-Khaththath, [fugitive pornography suspect] Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Habib Rizieq, who is currently in Saudi Arabia, instructed them that the spirit of the 212 in Jakarta be repeated in other regional elections. Rizieq made a request with the three political party chairs that they back candidates recommended by the ulama [Islamic scholars].

Habib Rizieq's request to the three political party chairs was that their parties employ the same method as was used to win the Jakarta gubernatorial election in February. Rizieq wanted this method to be imitated in other regional elections.

"Habib Rizieq's message when I went to Mecca, was to ask the three political party leaders to copy-paste [the method] used in Jakarta in order to secure victories in other provinces. Now, of course I don't know if there was a misperception that we would support them with a blank cheque [unconditionally]. Perhaps that was their understanding", said Al-Khaththath.

"We supported the rise of Governor Anies-Sandi with the spirit of the 212, the spirit of Al-Maidah 51. We hoped that it would happen in other places", he added.

Al-Khaththath also revealed that a meeting took place with the three political party chairs at the official residence of one of the party leaders. The party chairs said that there are particular provinces where they cannot use the same method as they did in the Jakarta gubernatorial election, particularly in provinces where the Islamic community is not dominant.

"(The three chairs said) 'We cannot possibly do that in for example Sulut [North Sulawesi], in Papua, in NTT [East Nusa Tenggara].' We (the Alumni 212) understood but if that happened in East Java, it would be a headache. I've had many complaints from below", said Al-Khaththath.

"It showed in several provinces, showed pictures of coalitions that were not in line with what we support. Including these complaints", he added.

The sympathisers of the Alumni 212, said Al-Khaththath, have asked that that the ulama admonish the three parties. Before the problem gets out of hand, the Alumni 212 made an offer to the party leaders by asking that [our candidates] be accepted in just five regions.

"Never mind the other areas, in just the five we requested there was no positive response. Moreover I waited at Cilandak and Ragunan until 2am in the morning for the recommendation to be issued. None of them were recommended at all, so what's up?", asked Al-Khaththath.

Notes

The Alumni 212 is named after the so-called Defend Islam protests on December 2, 2016 against incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama which eventually led to him being jailed on trumped up blasphemy charges and loosing the election to the Prabowo Subianto backed Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno ticket.

The three political parties referred to by Al-Khaththath are Prabowo Subianto's Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), the Islamic based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) and the Islamic based National Awakening Party (PAN), which backed the Baswedan-Uno ticket in the Jakarta gubernatorial elections in February.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Al-Khaththath: Pesan Habib Rizieq Copy-Paste DKI di Pilgub Lain".]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-3810870/al-khaththath-pesan-habib-rizieq-copy-paste-dki-di-pilgub-lain

Poverty & social inequity

Cigarette consumption second largest contributor to poverty: Bappenas

Jakarta Post - January 10, 2018

Jakarta – Cigarette consumption is the second largest contributor to poverty in the country, following rice consumption as the largest contributor, the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) stated on Tuesday.

"People shouldn't be dependent on such an unproductive habit," Bappenas head and National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said on Tuesday in Jakarta, as quoted by tribunnews.com.

He added that the consumption of meat in urban areas contributed 5.71 percent to the poverty rate, while the figure in rural areas was only 2.83 percent.

Bambang called on the people to stop the bad habit and start spending on more important commodities like meat so they could provide their families with more nutritious meals.

He said the government would never support a decrease in cigarette prices; instead, it would increase prices by imposing a higher excise duty on cigarettes.

"As of September 2017, cigarette consumption contributed 9.98 percent to the poverty rate in urban areas and 10.70 percent in rural areas," Bambang said. The contribution of cigarette consumption to the poverty rate peaked in 2014 at 11.18 percent.

Meanwhile, rice consumption has remained the largest contributor to poverty in the last four years, in both urban and rural areas. Rice consumption contributed 18.80 percent to the poverty rate in urban areas and 24.52 percent in rural areas. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/10/cigarette-consumption-second-largest-contributor-to-poverty-bappenas.html

Farming & agriculture

Peak rice harvest in February, says minister

Jakarta Post - January 15, 2018

Jakarta – Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman has said a peak rice harvest would occur in February, hoping that the country would see a substantial increase in rice stocks next month.

The government has just announced that it would import 500,000 tons of premium-grade rice from Thailand and Vietnam late this month to ease the increasing price of the commodity.

"October to December last year was the planting season, so we will see a peak harvest next month," said Amran after visiting the Economic Coordinating Ministry over the weekend.

Previously, the minister said Indonesia produced 3 million tons of rice last year, while the local demand of the commodity was only 2.6 million tons.

Speaking about the increasing rice prices, an official previously said many farmers were reluctant to sell their unhusked rice at regular prices, particularly for those who produced high-quality rice that could be made into premium-quality rice.

Amran added that the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) had only absorbed 58 percent of the total local production last year, which is far from the minister's initial target of 90 percent. He hoped that Bulog would absorb the local farmers' rice production in order to boost food security in the country.

Meanwhile, Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukito said after the meeting that the imported rice was classified as premium-grade rice with a broken rice rate of 5 percent. (fny/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/15/peak-rice-harvest-in-february-says-minister.html

High rice prices bring no benefits, farmers association says

Jakarta Post - January 15, 2018

Jakarta – Several farmers have said they have not gained from the current high rice prices, claiming an increase in prices was caused by speculation by traders who have stockpiled the commodity.

The chairman of the West Java chapter of the Indonesian Farmers Federation (FSPI), Tatan Sutandi, said the price of husked paddy was Rp 4,500 (34 US cents) per kilogram during the harvest period due to an enormous supply.

"The paddy price is lower than the production cost. So the high price of rice does not affect the farmers in West Java," he said, adding that many farmers produced poor quality rice as a result of pest attacks to their fields.

Meanwhile, FSPI Lampung head Muhlashin explained that many farmers owned less than 3,000 square meters of rice field, forcing them to immediately sell the commodity soon after the harvest period.

"So many farmers are forced to immediately sell their rice to make ends meet, buy fertilizer and so on. They only keep a small portion of their rice to meet their needs," he added.

Speaking on the price hike, Muhlashin said that in Lampung, there were many traders from Java who bought large quantities of rice from warehouses in the province, particularly in Pringsewu and Tanggamus in Central Lampung regency.

Muhlashin said Lampung would begin harvesting rice next month, with the peak of the season set to occur within the next two to three months. In Sukabumi, the rice harvest period was expected to start in March or April, Tatan said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/15/high-rice-prices-bring-no-benefits-farmers-association-says.html

Parliament & legislation

Indonesia's Golkar Party names new House Speaker

Straits Times - January 12, 2018

Jakarta – Golkar party appointed lawmaker Bambang Soesatyo on Thursday (Jan 11) to replace disgraced Setya Novanto as Speaker of Indonesia's House of Representatives, reported Jakarta Globe.

Novanto is standing trial on corruption charges for his suspected involvement in a 2.3 trillion rupiah (S$229 million) scandal linked to a national electronic identity card scheme.

Bambang is currently the chairman of the House's Commission III which oversees human rights, security and legal affairs.

Golkar politician and lawmaker Ahmadi Noor Supit confirmed the party's decision and said the announcement will be made officially at Golkar's plenary meeting, reported Antara news agency.

Earlier on Thursday, Golkar party executive Zainudin Amali was quoted as saying by Jakarta Post: "Bambang has the highest chance (to become the House speaker). If we are talking about opportunities, he has most of them."

On Nov 21 last year (2017), Novanto was relieved of his duties as chairman of Golkar party, the second biggest in Parliament. He resigned as House Speaker in December.

Novanto, 62, has been charged for allegedly receiving at least US$7.3 million (S$10 million) in kickbacks and a Richard Mille wrist watch worth about US$135,000 for his role in ensuring the electronic identity card project would be approved by Parliament.

Prosecutors said in their indictment that Novanto received the funds through some corporate bank accounts in Indonesia and overseas to avoid detection.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesias-golkar-party-names-new-house-speaker

Jakarta & urban life

Anies plans to return 'becak' to Jakarta streets

Jakarta Post - January 15, 2018

Jakarta – Jakartans can expect to see the long-banned becak (three-wheeled pedicabs) return to the city's streets with Governor Anies Baswedan signalling plans to bring back the human-powered vehicles.

"People in Jakarta still need becak. Hence the city administration will prepare special routes for becak," he said as quoted by kompas.com on Sunday.

Women going to the market, Anies said, were one example of the people who needed to use becak. According to Anies, they could not take ojek (motorcycle taxis) or other forms of public transportation if they bought too much at the market.

"It's a nuisance for them to carry bulk using ojek or other forms of public transportation, like minivans," he said. Anies added that banning becak had a negative impact on the many drivers who relied on it as their main source of income.

Becak were banned during the administration of late governor Wiyogo Atmodarminto, who served from 1987 to 1992, as they were considered to cause traffic congestion.

Coordinator of the Jakarta Urban Poor Network (JRMK), Eni Rochayati, said the city's authorities had not provided a comprehensive solution for becak drivers. "We hope the government will support them [the becak drivers] this time," she said. (dpk)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/15/anies-plans-to-return-becak-to-jakarta-streets.html

City issues 'welfare cards' for low-wage workers

Jakarta Post - January 12, 2018

Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta – The Jakarta administration has launched on Friday the Kartu Pekerja (Workers Card) to fulfil its promise to lower' daily expenses for workers earning the 2018 provincial minimum wage (UMP) or less.

The promise was made following a series of protests in November over the Rp 3.6 million (US$252) minimum wage set for 2018, which was less than the Rp 3.9 million that labor unions had demanded.

Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno explained that, with the card, workers could ride the Transjakarta bus for free and could buy daily needs like beef, chicken, eggs and rice at prices lower than market prices through city-owned wholesaler Jakgrosir.

Jakgrosir sells beef at Rp 35,000 per kilogram to holders of the hew Workers Card, while infopangan.jakarta.go.id lists the market price for beef as more than Rp 100,000 per kilogram. Jakgrosir sells chicken at Rp 8,000 per kg, rice at Rp 6,000 per kg and eggs at Rp 12,500 per kg.

"We want to make sure that the city's low-wage workers have a lower cost of living. According to our study, about 30 percent of their salary goes to transportation expenses, and another 30 to 35 percent to daily needs," Sandiaga said during the card's launch at City Hall.

Jakarta Manpower Agency head Priyono said about 3,300 workers on minimum wage had already received their Worker Cards. Workers must possess a Jakarta resident ID and be paid less than Rp 3.6 million a month to be eligible for the new card.

Hundreds of companies have registered their workers with the agency to obtain the cards, but the agency must first verify their data.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/12/city-issues-welfare-cards-for-low-wage-workers.html

Food & beverage industry

Unreliable data prompted govt to import rice: Analyst

Jakarta Post - January 15, 2018

Jakarta – The head of research at the Centre of Reform on Economics (CORE) Indonesia has questioned the validity of the government's rice data.

Unreliable rice data has forced the government to import the commodity to ease prices, although the Agriculture Ministry claimed that the country's rice production was adequate.

"One of the problems is the limited funds for carrying out rice stocks surveys," CORE research head Mohammad Faisal said in Jakarta, as reported by tempo.co on Monday.

The government announced last week that it would import 500,000 tons of rice in late January, although the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) had said earlier that 2.8 million tons of rice was produced last year against an annual demand of only 2.6 million tons. Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman claimed further that rice production had reached 3 million tons.

Faisal said the government needed to look to other ASEAN countries on monitoring food commodities, by obtaining data from both state-owned enterprises and private companies.

He said several ASEAN countries also required commodity distributors to submit monthly reports, so governments had alternative data on food distribution.

Faisal said that the government currently relied on data solely from the National Logistics Agency (Bulog), which controlled only 10 percent of the rice distribution. He said the government had no data on the other 90 percent of the rice distribution.

He believed that the government had to make an urgent decision to import rice, because it had referred to inaccurate data on rice supply and demand. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/15/unreliable-data-prompted-govt-to-import-rice-analyst.html

Government to import rice amid rising prices

Jakarta Post - January 12, 2018

Stefani Ribka, Jakarta – Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita has said the government will import 500,000 tons of medium-grade rice from Thailand and Vietnam to calm the commodity's price, which has been increasing since late 2017 as a result of a supply shortage.

The rice will arrive in late January and will be of a different variety from the local IR 64 variety.

"It could be Japonica or jasmine, and we will import it through PPI," Enggartiasto told a media briefing on Thursday evening, referring to the state-owned Indonesian Trading Company.

"[Private firms] can sell it with partners, but [sales] must be through the PPI, so the government can monitor the rice supply and distribution," he added. If necessary, the rice would also be sold at traditional markets and at modern stores.

The government has set a ceiling price for medium-quality rice according to region: Rp 9,450 (70 US cents) per kilogram in Java, Lampung, South Sumatra, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi; Rp 9,950 per kg in the rest of Sumatra, Kalimantan and East Nusa Tenggara; and Rp 10,250 per kg in Maluku and Papua.

The government said that declining supplies of medium-quality rice had caused the commodity's price to rise since December.

Bank Indonesia's price tracking website hargapangan.id shows a gradual increase in the rice price by 4 percent to Rp 11,900 per kg in the from Nov. 8 to Jan. 11 period.

The price for the Medium I grade of rice, which is consumed by low- and middle-income households, increased even more, by 4.4 percent to Rp 12,050 per kg. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/12/govt-to-import-rice-amid-rising-prices.html

Ministry blames traders for rice price increase

Jakarta Post - January 10, 2018

Jakarta – Trade Minister Anggartiasto Lukita has blamed the recent increase in rice prices on traders accused of controlling rice stocks.

"We have a food task force. We are tough against those who act suspiciously; we will not tolerate them," Enggartiasto said on Tuesday while inspecting a rice warehouse owned by the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) in North Jakarta as quoted by kompas.com.

According to the National Strategic Food Prices Information Center (PIHPSN), the price of medium-quality rice reached Rp 14,100 (99 US cents) per kilogram on average, much higher than the price ceiling of Rp 9,450 per kg.

The highest price was found in West Papua at Rp 14,250 per kilogram, compared to the province's price ceiling of Rp 10,250 per kg. The lowest price for rice, meanwhile, was found in West Nusa Tanggara (NTB), at Rp 9,740 per kg, which is still higher than the province's price ceiling.

Enggartiasto remained upbeat that a planned "market operation" to maintain stable rice availability would push down prices.

"We will monitor [prices] in the coming days; they are expected to decrease," he said, adding that the intervention would continue until prices fall below the price ceilings.

Previously, Bulog president director Djarot Kusumayakti said the agency had prepared 950,000 tons of rice for the market operation in 2018.

He said the market operation was held in cooperation with the Indonesian Rice Millers and Entrepreneurs Association (Perpadi). "We met Perpadi yesterday [Tuesday] to discuss actions to lower rice prices," he added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/10/ministry-blames-traders-for-rice-price-increase.html

Armed forces & defense

KSAD forms watchdog to keep military neutral

Tempo - January 15, 2018

Jakarta – The Indonesian Army Chief of Staff General Mulyono said that the army has formed a supervisory team consisting of an internal intelligence agency to face the political year of 2018-2019.

The team was formed to monitor the political neutrality of soldiers in the field. "[The aim is] to avoid confusion among the public in general. This reflects our commitment to maintaining the neutrality of national armed forces members," said Mulyono at the Army's main headquarters on Monday, January 15, 2018.

Mulyono said that there will always be soldiers who will get themselves involved in politics although they have been called on to remain neutral. "I will make use of our intelligence to conduct their monitoring of society which they will report back to us," he said.

The statement made by Mulyono was related to the position handovers involving nine Army high ranking officers. One of them was the Army's Strategic Reserve Forces Commander lieutenant general Edy Rahmadi. Edy decided to enter the political realm after he agreed to retire from the armed forces.

– Chitra Paramaesti

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/15/055914855/KSAD-Forms-Watchdog-to-Keep-Military-Neutral

Weapons producer eyes Rp 2.9 trillion in revenue for 2018

Jakarta Post - January 10, 2018

Arya Dipa, Bandung, West Java – State-owned weapons manufacturer PT Pindad is aiming for Rp 2.9 trillion (US$203 million) in revenue this year, said Pindad president director Abraham Mose in Bandung on Tuesday.

He said the company had booked net profit of Rp 53 billion in 2017. This year, the company aimed to obtain 30 percent of its revenue from its industrial products.

"This does not mean that the defense industry is slowing down. Our largest contributor is still the defense industry," said Mose.

He explained that Pindad planned to further expand its non-defense products by producing heavy machinery. The company will produce amphibious excavators, for example, by using technology derived from its Anoa armored personnel carriers, he added.

"We have reported this to the National Public Procurement Agency [LKPP] so that our planned product is included in the e-catalog. The Jakarta administration has expressed interest. We are in the process of building the prototype," he added.

Pindad sent 29 of its Anoa armored personnel carriers to the Central African Republic in late 2017 as part of its support for peacekeeping efforts in the area. The shipment was an addition to an earlier batch of 70 other vehicles. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/10/weapons-producer-eyes-rp-2-9-trillion-in-revenue-for-2018.html

Criminal justice & legal system

Death penalty laws to be softened to allow reformed prisoners to avoid

ABC Radio Australia - January 11, 2018

Adam Harvey – Reformed death row prisoners in Indonesia, like Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran who were executed in 2015, could be spared the firing squad under proposed law changes agreed by politicians.

Indonesian politicians have agreed to soften the nation's harsh death penalty laws. The proposed new laws would impose a 10-year stay on executions, after which the death penalty could be commuted to a prison term.

"The legislation in the draft penal code is a small step towards abolition," said death penalty critic Ricky Gunawan, the director of Indonesia's Community Legal Aid Institute. "It's a compromise between groups who are for and against the death penalty."

The changes would give authorities much greater leeway to avoid executing reformed prisoners, like Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran who were shot by firing squad in 2015.

Both men were model prisoners who were praised for helping their fellow inmates. They were among 18 convicted drug smugglers executed in 2015 and 2016.

"There are so many death row prisoners who show transformation," Mr Gunawan said. "The issue at stake is how to ensure prisoners like Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran could be seen by the Government as eligible to have their sentence commuted."

Change makes commutation decision 'highly political'

The 10-year stay on executions would be followed by an automatic review of the penalty by Indonesia's law and human rights minister. The minister could recommend a death sentence be commuted to life in prison or a 20-year term.

Mr Gunawan said he would like to see the review done by an independent committee rather than a politician.

"The decision rests with the minister for law and human rights – therefore it's highly political," he said. "There is a need for an independent body to advise the President."

Legislators have agreed on the proposed law changes, but they are part of sweeping review of the nation's criminal code that will not be enacted for several years.

Eighteen people have been executed under the rule of President Joko Widodo. Most were foreigners and all were convicted of drug smuggling.

The executions caused significant damage to Indonesia's relationship with Australia, among other countries.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2018-01-11/indonesian-death-penalty-laws-to-be-softened-to-allow-reformed-prisoners-to-avoid-execution/1728562

National security & intelligence

Fadli Zon urge national cyber agency hit the brake

Tempo - January 9, 2018

Jakarta – House of Representatives (DPR) acting Speaker Fadli Zon responded to the statement made by the National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN) chief Djoko Setiadi related the need for BSSN to have the authority to arrest and prosecute.

Fadli suggested that BSSN's authority must immediately be limited to prevent it from acting beyond its authority.

"The BSSN or the President needs to be reminded that we did not design the BSSN to become a censorship agency similar that in China," said Fadli in a written statement on Monday, January 8.

As it is globally known, China's Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) serves a function to regulate and censor China's internet and become the central supervisory agency for the country.

Fadli Zon explained that BSSN's authority includes drafting regulations and technical strategies which would make the agency responsible whenever the country faces a cyber-threat or cyberspace attacks.

Under Presidential Decree No. 53/2017 on the cyber and encryption agency, Fadli Zon argued that the agency's authority is still unclear since it does not provide a detailed explanation regarding its taxonomy. Fadli views that the vagueness is prone to misinterpretation.

According to Fadli, the authority to arrest and execute, should it be given to the agency, could potentially overlap with other agencies that also handle cyber-security cases such as the National Police, the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), and the Communications and Information Ministry.

– Dewi Nurita

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/01/08/055914656/Fadli-Zon-Urge-National-Cyber-Agency-Hit-the-Brake

Mining & energy

Indonesia to dig out 485m tons of coal in 2018

Jakarta Globe - January 12, 2018

Adinda Putri, Jakarta – Indonesian miners will dig out 485 million metric tons of coal at the most in 2018, up 5 percent from last year, according to a projection from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.

This year's projection is a wide deviation from the country's target to reign in coal production to preserve resources and mitigate climate change. Indonesia's medium-term development plan (RPJMN) for 2015-2019 dictates that the country produce only 406 million tons of coal.

Many domestic miners are only now starting to extract coal as they have waited years to receive production licenses, only recently granted, said Bambang Gatot Ariyono, the ministry's director general of minerals and coal.

There are currently around 2,500 mining permit holders who have just completed feasibility studies or construction of their facilities and are ready to start production, he added.

Last year, miners produced 461 million metric tons of coal. While lower than the 477 million tons projected in the ministry's initial estimation, the amount of coal produced in 2017 was higher than the 413 million ton cap lined out by the RPJMN.

Still, the government has yet to give up efforts to limit coal production. "The government controls [the overall production] by not arbitrarily giving permits for companies to increase yields," Bambang said.

While the country estimates that it has 28 billion tons of coal reserves, only about 25 percent of all coal produced is used domestically; the rest is exported to markets abroad like China and India.

The country plans to generate 33 percent of its total energy supply from coal by 2025, up from 30 percent today.

On the other hand, local power plants have been slow to absorb coal from miners. Domestic coal consumption only reached 97 million tons in 2017 from a projection of 121 million tons.

The weak domestic consumption of coal, according to Bambang, was in large part due to the failure of steam power plants to meet their operational targets last year.

Construction of coal-fired power plant projects is intended to support President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's target of producing 35,000 extra megawatts of power. However, state-controlled utility company Perusahaan Listrik Indonesia has found it difficult to fund the $140 billion project. Environmental organization Greenpeace Indonesia has also protested the continuity of the project.

Under the government's RPJMN, coal production is expected to reach 400 million metric tons in 2019, 60 percent of which will be consumed domestically.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/indonesia-fails-to-meet-its-coal-production-target/

Indonesia sets sights on $17.04b oil and gas investment in 2018

Jakarta Post - January 10, 2018

Jakarta – The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has said that the government is aiming to achieve a US$17.04 billion investment target in the oil and gas sector.

"[Investment] is returning to the level between 2014 and 2016," Ego Syahrial, the ministry's oil and gas director general, said in Jakarta on Tuesday as quoted by kompas.com. He added that oil and gas investment reached $20.72 billion in 2014, $17.38 in 2015 and $12.74 billion in 2016.

Ego said, however, that the sector recorded the lowest-ever investment in 2017 at only $10.18 billion, of which $9.33 billion was in the upstream oil and gas business and $845.58 million in the downstream business.

Meanwhile, Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force (SKK Migas) head Amien Sunaryadi said the government was attempting to boost investment in a number of upstream oil and gas projects in order to achieve the target.

Among these projects are the Jambaran Tiung Biru project, which will break ground this year, the capacity expansion of the Jangkrik field in the Makassar Strait, the Tangguh Train III project in Papua's Bintuni Bay, and the preliminary front-end engineering design (pre-FEED) for the Masela block in Maluku's Arafuru Sea, which is expected to commence this month.

Meanwhile, Downstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Agency (BPH Migas) head Fanshurullah Asa said the government would auction three gas pipeline projects: the 687-kilometer Natuna-West Kalimantan, the 1,800-kilometer West Kalimantan-Central Kalimantan and the 162-kilometer Central Kalimantan-South Kalimantan pipeline projects. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/10/indonesia-sets-sights-on-17-04b-oil-and-gas-investment-in-2018.html

Fishing & maritime affairs

Fisheries industry misses targets for three consecutive years

Jakarta Post - January 15, 2018

Jakarta – The Indonesian Traditional Fishermen Association (KNTI) has recorded that Indonesia has failed to achieve both its production and export targets in the fisheries sector in last three years from 2015.

Head of KNTI strategic and research department Niko Amrullah said in Jakarta on Sunday that in 2015, Indonesia produced 10.87 million tons of fish, while the total target had been set at 13.6 million tons.

"Meanwhile, in 2017, the production declined to only 9.91 million tons, while the target was 16.04 million tons," said Niko as reported by tempo.co.

He further explained that exports in 2015 reached only US$3.95 billion, below the target of $5.86 billion, while in 2016, exports reached $3.78 billion from the target of $6.82. In 2017, exports were lower still at $3.17 billion, well below the target of $7.62 billion.

The declines in both production and exports have affected the performance of small and medium enterprises in the fisheries sector, as indicated by the increase in non-performing loans (NPL) in the sector to 5.04 percent in 2017 from 4.30 percent in 2016.

Niko blamed the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry for the poor performance of the fisheries industry, and called on the ministry to improve its internal affairs so that it could empower fishing communities that mostly lived in coastal areas.

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti is known for her tough punishments of illegal fishing. She has ordered the destruction of more than 360 ships since 2015. Recently, her policy has received a challenge from her fellow ministers in the Cabinet. (jlm/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/15/fisheries-industry-misses-targets-for-three-consecutive-years.html

Business group supports end to ship-sinking policy

Jakarta Post - January 11, 2018

Jakarta – The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) has expressed its support for Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan and Vice President Jusuf Kalla's call to put an end to the illegal boat-sinking policy.

"There's should be a limit [for the boat-sinking policy]. Besides, it can contributes to sea pollution," said Kadin deputy chairman of fisheries and maritime, Yugi Prayanto, in a press conference on Wednesday.

Luhut previously said foreign fishing boats understood the country's tough stance on illegal fishing. He called on the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry to instead focus on aquaculture to boost production and exports.

The boat-sinking policy enforced by Minister Susi Pudjiastuti is based on Law No. 45/2009 on fisheries. The latest statement from the ministry said more than 300 vessels had been sunk.

Yugi also suggested that the government use the illegal ships for the benefit of local fisherman, whether for daily usage or allowing them to sell the parts for cash. "We can give the ships to local fisherman," he said.

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) said fisheries exports in 2014 reached 1.3 million ton, dropping to 1.1 million in 2015 and further sliding to 1.07 million ton the following year.

Meanwhile, Susi insists on continuing to sink ships found guilty of operating illegally in Indonesian waters. (srs/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/11/business-group-supports-end-to-ship-sinking-policy.html

Jokowi sides with Susi on ship sinking controversy

Jakarta Post - January 11, 2018

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo supports Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiasti's boat-sinking policy.

"The sinking is a form of law enforcement. It is to show that we do not tolerate illegal fishing," said Jokowi in Jakarta on Wednesday as reported by kompas.com.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan called on Susi to stop the implementation of the policy as the government had sunk more than 360 ships since the crack down started in 2015.

Jokowi said any policy introduced by the minister was in the best interest of the people.

Meanwhile, Susi said her policy was based on instruction from President Jokowi. "Pak Jokowi ordered us hand down tough punishments. Therefore, we implemented the ruling stipulated in Law No. 45/2009 on fisheries," she said.

Jokowi, however, also told Susi that the ministry should focus more on increasing the maritime sector's contribution to the economy. "Therefore, I told Ibu Susi to concentrate on the manufacturing of fishery products for export because our exports [in this sector] have decreased," the President added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/11/jokowi-sides-with-susi-on-ship-sinking-controversy.html

Susi insists on continuing her ship-sinking policy

Jakarta Post - January 10, 2018

Jakarta – Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti has insisted that she will continue to sink ships that have been found guilty of operating illegally in Indonesian waters.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said previously that Susi had been told to stop the policy, saying that foreign fishing boats were aware that the country enforced tough punishment on illegal fishing.

Susi said on Tuesday that those opposed to her policy should speak with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo because the boat sinking was part of the implementation of Law No. 45/2009 on fisheries.

She stressed that it was not her personal wish to enforce tough punishments against illegal fishing, but it was a mandate ordered by the law.

She added that the ministry only sank ships that had been found guilty of operating illegally by the courts. "We only execute a court decision," she added as reported by kompas.com.

The ministry started cracking down on illegal fishing in 2015. More than 380 vessels have since been scuttled or destroyed, with last year's figure alone reaching 87 ships weighing between 70 and 120 gross tonnage. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/10/susi-insists-on-continuing-her-ship-sinking-policy.html

Minister Susi prohibited from sinking fishing ships this year

Jakarta Post - January 9, 2018

Jakarta – Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has prohibited Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Mister Susi Pudjiastuti from continuing her policy of sinking fishing boats caught illegally catching fish in Indonesian waters.

"The [ministry] has been told not to sink ships this year; it is enough," Luhut said in Jakarta on Monday after chairing a coordination meeting in his office.

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry started cracking down on illegal fishing by foreign ships in 2015. More than 380 vessels have since been scuttled or destroyed, with last year's figure alone reaching 87 ships weighing between 70 and 120 gross tonnage

Luhut said this year's priority was to increase exports from maritime resources, particularly fish, the production of which had increased significantly. He called on the ministry to pay attention to aquaculture businesses to boost production and exports. Luhut also called on Susi to allow fishermen to use cantrang (traditional seine net), even though the fishing method had been proven hazardous to the marine environment. The ban on cantrang has been delayed several times and was scheduled to be enforced this year. "Don't make any policy that would [trouble] fishermen," he added.

In response to the prohibition, Susi said the sinking of illegal fishing ships was based on the Indonesian Fisheries Law. "It is not my personnel wish," she said as reported by tempo.co. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/09/minister-susi-prohibited-from-sinking-fishing-ships-this-year.html

Economy & investment

Gov't scrambles to ease permit processes as investments worth $42.6b

Jakarta Globe - January 11, 2018

Adinda Putri, Jakarta – The government pledged it will streamline licensing processes to speed up investment in more than 1,000 public and private sector projects, worth approximately $42.6 billion, a minister said on Wednesday (10/01).

Coordinating Economics Minister Darmin Nasution said some of the new projects have been proposed as early as September last year, after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo issued a regulation to simplify and integrate business licensing processes.

The regulation sets a deadline in March for the government to begin operation of a single permit submission system, called the One Stop Integrated Service (PTSP). The new system is a complete overhaul to the current permit service, which only provides basic licensing for newly established businesses and does not process specialized licensing on the regional governmental level or for several government agencies.

For now, Darmin said the government will focus on resolving licensing problems on the 1,054 projects to lay a path for cooperation among various task forces in regional governments and agencies.

"The central task force will supervise the investments that have been listed to each ministry or institution," Darmin told reporters in Jakarta

The Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Tourism will handle most of the projects that have been registered to ministries and institutions, the minister said.

The ministries will identify and check permits and requirements to help resolve obstacles as well as to provide periodical reports to the central task force.

The $42.6 billion value of projects in the pipeline could prove critical for Jokowi, who has initiated various national programs to kick-start lackluster growth. The president has yet to deliver on his promise of 7 percent growth, as the economy only expanded around 5 percent over the past three years.

Foreign and domestic investments account for about a third of Indonesia's economy. The country targets to draw Rp 765 trillion ($53.6 billion) of investments – excluding those in the oil and gas and banking sectors – in 2018, up 13 percent from last year's target of Rp 678.8 trillion.

Data from the Investment Coordinating Board showed that total investments reached Rp 513 trillion by the end of September. Indonesia recorded Rp 613 trillion of investments in 2016, a 3 percent increase from Rp 595 trillion in 2015.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/govt-scrambles-ease-permit-processes-investments-worth-42-6b-wait-pipeline/

Finance Ministry to revise unattractive fiscal incentive

Jakarta Post - January 9, 2018

Jakarta – Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the government might offer other incentives – such as a tax holiday and tax allowance – to investors because no one applied for it last year.

"No one applied for the incentives last year. Were they not interesting? We may need other kinds of incentives," she said during a fiscal dialogue event in Jakarta on Monday.

A tax holiday was introduced in 2011 to allow investors to invest their money in strategic sectors with a minimum capital outlay of Rp 1 trillion (US$74 million). The facility will free investors from paying taxes for between five and 10 years.

Both incentives were issued based on the recommendation of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) and the Industry Ministry.

Sri Mulyani called on related institutions in the ministry – the Fiscal Policy Agency and the Directorate-General of Taxation and Customs and Excise office – to carry out an evaluation of the fiscal incentives.

The evaluation had to involve several other ministries – the Trade Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry and the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry – to find out why the fiscal incentives failed to attract investors, she added.

She suspected that there were still many problems that made investors wary of investing their money in the country, like the scarcity of raw materials and labor issues. "Therefore, if there are problems, we welcome input from other ministries," Sri Mulyani said.

Tax revenue is the backbone of state revenue with a contribution of 85.4 percent. (srs/bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/09/finance-ministry-to-revise-unattractive-fiscal-incentive.html

Banking & finance

Bank Indonesia, police prevent bitcoin transactions in Bali

Jakarta Post - January 15, 2018

Jakarta – Bank Indonesia (BI) has teamed up with the National Police to prevent transactions using cryptocurrency bitcoin in Bali after the central bank declared it an illegal form of payment in Indonesia.

"We are looking out for bitcoin transactions in Bali, particularly in tourist spots. We will take measures against non-rupiah transactions," said BI's Bali office head Causa Iman Karana over the weekend in Denpasar as reported by tempo.co.

As a noted tourist destination, he said, Bali was an alluring place for those who wanted to carry out illegal transactions.

Therefore, he called on the people not to accommodate offers of transactions using the virtual money. "We warned people not to carry out transactions with virtual money because there is no authority that regulates the transactions," he said.

Previously, BI spokesman Agusman said the central bank prohibited payment using bitcoin as it violated Law No. 7/2011 on currency.

To specify the ban, BI has also issued BI Regulation No. PBI: 19/12/PBI/2017 on the implementation of financial technology. Under the law, any payment in Indonesia has to be in rupiah.

Agusman also warned that transactions with bitcoin had high risk because the cryptocurrency had no official administrator. He also explained that bitcoin was at high risk of being used for money laundering, terrorism and other criminal transactions.

"Therefore, [BI] wants all parties not to sell, buy or trade the virtual currency," he added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/15/bank-indonesia-police-prevent-bitcoin-transactions-in-bali.html

Indonesia warns against owning, selling, trading cryptocurrency

Bloomberg - January 13, 2018

Yudith Ho – Bank Indonesia is taking a firm stance against cryptocurrencies as it urges all parties to refrain from owning, selling or trading the tokens.

"Owning virtual currencies is very risky and inherently speculative," the central bank said in a statement Saturday. The digital tokens "are prone to forming asset bubbles and tend to be used as method for money laundering and terrorism funding, so it has the potential to affect financial-system stability and harm the public."

The move highlights the challenge faced by regulators as they seek to manage potential risks from the global cryptocurrency mania while lacking the authority to prohibit its use. South Korea's central bank banned employees from trading cryptocurrencies on the job last week, while China has outlined proposals to discourage bitcoin mining, the process by which the virtual currency enters circulation.

Bank Indonesia's statement follows its earlier ban on financial technology companies using cryptocurrencies for transactions in January, which doesn't prohibit trading of the digital tokens itself. While the authority reiterates an existing ban on payment-system providers under its watch from processing transactions using digital currencies, PT Bitcoin Indonesia, a virtual-currency exchange that boasts more than 940,000 members, doesn't fall under its supervision.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-13/indonesia-warns-against-owning-selling-trading-cryptocurrency

Taxation & state budget

Too high tax revenue target frightens businesspeople

Jakarta Post - January 9, 2018

Jakarta – This year, the government is set to increase tax revenue by 10.94 percent of Rp 1.42 quadrillion (US$99.39 billion) as stipulated in the 2017 state budget.

But, if the 2018 tax revenue target is calculated based on the realization of last year's target, which was at Rp 1.15 quadrillion, while the tax office is assigned to collect Rp 1.62 quadrillion, this year's target will see a growth of 23.71 percent.

PT Indofood Sukses Makmur director Franciscus Welirang expressed his concern as he believed that businesses would become victims of a high tax revenue target. "It is frightening to see the 20 percent target," he said, as quoted by tribunnews.com on Monday.

Similar comments came from the chairman of Indonesia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin Indonesia), Rosan Roeslani, who said the government's target was too high, considering this year's tax revenue shortfall.

He was particularly worried about the implementation in the field. "The government needs to be careful [in deciding the target]," Rosan added.

Meanwhile, Center for Indonesia Taxation Analysis (CITA) executive director Yustinus Prastowo agreed that the tax revenue target was too high while the capacity was limited, sparking a possible tax collection injustice. He believed that 5 percent tax revenue growth would be an ideal figure.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati called on businesspeople not to worry about the tax revenue target because tax officers would work on it based on data. "Don't be frightened. I prohibit tax officers from making up the data," she added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/01/09/too-high-tax-revenue-target-frightens-businesspeople.html

Analysis & opinion

Attempt to criminalize extra-marital sex in Indonesia fails

The Diplomat - January 12, 2018

Jack Britton – Human rights activists in Indonesia have gained a brief respite after the Constitutional Court on December 14 narrowly rejected a petition to alter the criminal code to make extra-marital and homosexual sex illegal.

The petition for the judicial review was lodged by a conservative group called the Family Love Alliance (AILA) and was aimed at changing the substance of a number of articles in the criminal code to reflect, as this group contended, religious values and social norms that prevail in Indonesia. Specifically, AILA requested amendments to articles 284 and 292 of the criminal code to render all extra-marital sex and homosexual sex illegal.

The judicial review attracted national and international attention and was one of the longest in the history of the Constitutional Court. The trial caused divisions between social groups and in the panel of judges presiding over the case. This division was reflected in four of the nine judges, including the chief justice and deputy chief justice, putting forth a dissenting opinion that stated that the criminal code should be brought into line to reflect the living law that prevails in Indonesia by outlawing all forms of extra-marital and homosexual sex and thus the petition should have been granted.

The dissenting opinion stated that homosexuality constitutes a behavior that is intrinsically abhorrent according to religious law and community values in Indonesia and that the original formulation of the criminal code was a victory for homosexuals. The dissenting judges contended that the narrow formulation of the article in regulating only adultery and not fornication was influenced by European secular-hedonistic philosophies that differ from the sociological condition of Indonesian society.

Currently, only adultery is illegal under Indonesian national law; other consensual sexual relations between adults are not regulated by law. The parties who supported the petition for the judicial review put forward arguments that the law as it currently stands does not reflect the religious values or morals that exist in Indonesian society. These groups, including the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) and Association of Islamic Wives (Persistri), argued that the criminal code, which was drafted in colonial times, is a product of Western liberalism and reflects a tolerance to homosexuality and extra-marital sex that is not applicable to the living law in Indonesia.

Related parties to the judicial review who opposed the petition explained to the court that if the petition was approved by the court, widespread criminalization of large cross-sections of Indonesian society would occur. If the criminal code was to be altered in accordance with the petition, unmarried youths, LGBT groups, couples whose marriages are not registered, and the thousands of followers of minority religions whose marriages are not recognized by the state would be prone to criminalization. The National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) has long contended that an unintended consequence of this law reform, should it go ahead, would be the criminalization of victims of sexual violence and rape.

Rape and sexual violence in Indonesia is underreported and when cases are reported offenders are rarely successfully prosecuted. Should extramarital sex be outlawed, victims of rape will be increasingly hesitant to report their cases to law enforcement for fear of criminalization. If a victim were to report a case to law enforcement and the perpetrator claimed that the intercourse was consensual, there is a high possibility that criminalization of the victim would occur.

In the autonomous province of Aceh, extra-marital sex or zina has been made illegal through the Islamic criminal code and people who commit zina are routinely caned in public. In 2014, a gang of eight men broke into a private home where they alleged a couple was engaged in sexual relations. The eight men violently gang-raped the woman and beat the man before taking the couple to the police and reporting them for extra-marital sex. The rape victim was caned publicly for committing extra-marital sex while many of her rapists evaded arrest.

In November 2017, in what has been referred to as a case of sexual torture by Komnas Perempuan, a mob broke into a private home in Tangerang, West Java and forced an unmarried couple onto the street. Men forcefully stripped the seized woman naked and assaulted her while onlookers filmed the incident.

Naila Rizqi, a lawyer with the Community Legal Aid Institute (LBH Masyarakat) who fought against the petition in the constitutional court, explained that making extra-marital sex illegal would spark an increase in similar mob "vigilante" actions.

Mob actions whereby groups acting as moral police invade private homes and commit acts of violence against unmarried couples are already common in Indonesia. It can be expected that these mobs would interpret changes in the law as legal and moral justification for carrying out these raids.

In denying the petition, the Constitutional Court clarified that the court did not oppose the notion of the revision that was included in the petition, rather the decision was focused on arguments of jurisdiction. It was explained that it is not the role of the Constitutional Court to act as a positive legislator but the Peoples' Representative Council (DPR) that has the responsibility to enact such changes by passing new legislation.

Human rights groups fear that these legislative changes are not far away. The draft revised criminal code (RUU KUHP) is currently being debated in the DPR and Article 484 of the code makes extra-marital sex a criminal offense punishable by five years in jail. It can be expected that the dissenting opinion of the four judges will be used by conservative groups to lobby members of the DPR and push for the retention of this article in the RUU KUHP. In response, civil society must step up campaigning and lobbying to increase awareness among members of parliament of the dangers involved in outlawing consensual sexual relations to ensure the article on extra-marital sex is removed.

[Jack Britton is a translator, researcher and freelance writer currently embedded with the Indonesian National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) in Jakarta, Indonesia.]

Source: https://thediplomat.com/2018/01/attempt-to-criminalize-extra-marital-sex-in-indonesia-fails/

Why Ahok remains a man to watch in Indonesian politics: The Jakarta Post

Straits Times - January 12, 2018

Ary Hermawan – In hindsight, it may appear that Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has become the Kim Kardashian of Indonesian politics. Nearly a year after his upset defeat in the capital's gubernatorial election and his controversial blasphemy conviction, the former Jakarta governor has never been completely out of the spotlight.

So it was no surprise that when news broke that Ahok had filed for divorce from his wife, Veronica Tan, the Indonesian Twittersphere went crazy.

This newspaper is obviously no place for gossiping about Ahok's private life, but the continual limelight given to him may provide a glimpse into what lies ahead for arguably one of the most popular politicians in the country today, and why his potential comeback could change Indonesian politics in years to come.

Many would have argued that Ahok's political career was over when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Jakarta to demand his incarceration for blasphemy. That is a fair assessment, given all the doom and gloom foreign analysts repeated like a mantra about Indonesia's dramatic turn to conservatism.

But I argue that Ahok remains one of the few people to watch in Indonesia. There are at least three reasons why.

First, his long political career has shown that Ahok is no quitter; second, his conviction, while it was undeniably damaging politically, remains widely disputed; third and most importantly, the man who became the most talked-about political figure on Twitter last year could benefit from a generational shift among Indonesian voters.

Ahok has built a stellar political career since his election in 2005 as Bangka Belitung regent. His popularity peaked when he was sworn in as Jakarta governor in 2014 to replace Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, offering a new type of leadership that has made political establishments look irrelevant at best and incompetent at worst in the eyes of voters.

True, he lost the gubernatorial election, but his defeat came after a series of rallies filled with hateful sectarian rhetoric and even death threats. The man, regardless of his flaws, did not back down, despite all the intimidation he faced.

The Chinese-Christian politician will struggle to fight the penista agama (blasphemer) stigma, but many are aware that he was a victim of an ancient draconian law. His conviction was challenged not only by human rights activists, but also a number of Muslim scholars who believed he had done nothing wrong.

Ahok accepted his conviction and dropped any legal attempts to have it overturned. This does not mean that he has admitted guilt, and if anything, it could send the right message to Muslim voters that he wanted to put the issue to rest.

That said, Ahok still has a chance to make a political comeback. And given the possible change in behaviour as a result of a generational shift among Indonesian voters, Ahok could outdo many of his rivals.

According to an August 2017 survey by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), millennials are looking for new faces in politics. Jokowi, Prabowo Subianto and Ridwan Kamil are now still the most popular presidential candidates among voters aged between 17 and 29, the survey showed.

Ahok ranks seventh after Tri Rismaharini, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Gatot Nurmantyo. Of the top seven, only Ahok and Ridwan were born after 1965, have an army of online supporters and are widely seen as political outsiders.

At this point, Ridwan seems poised to grab most of the millennial votes, but pitting Ahok and Ridwan against each other is unfair at the present time, when Ridwan is running for governor in West Java while Ahok is incarcerated.

The CSIS survey would yield different results if it were carried out after Ahok had completed his sentence and launched a political campaign.

Assuming that he is granted Christmas and Independence Day remissions and is considered eligible for conditional release, Ahok could be free by this August.

Ahok has a chance to surpass Ridwan's electability, as the former has built a political base that is ready to take on the political establishment. Ridwan's supporters are not as militant and organised as "Ahokers," the most prominent of whom have been consolidating and setting up a political party to contest the 2019 legislative election.

The party in question, the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), is openly and aggressively trying to grab the millennial vote. The party, naturally, is filled with novice politicians with little to no experience and lacks a symbolic figure to rally support.

It is wishful thinking to believe that the political rookies in the PSI would be able to shake up patron-client politics in 2019, but Ahok could change the equation for them if the maverick politician decided to mount it as his political vehicle.

Still, millennials are notoriously unpredictable and hard to please. There is no guarantee they could be more progressive and less sectarian, but the fact is that the old voters who voted for the old parties and their old politicians will be gone soon, and the generational shift is moving voters to favouring newer parties.

[The writer contributes regularly on current affairs to The Jakarta Post, which is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media.]

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/why-ahok-remains-a-man-to-watch-in-indonesian-politics-the-jakarta-post-columnist

Indonesia cracks down on organized labour

New Internationalist - January 11, 2018

Fahmi Panimbang – Facing crucial upcoming elections, Indonesia is cracking down on organized labour.

The country is set to hold regional elections in June and a general election in 2019, and the results could throw more momentum behind the government's recent crackdown on organized labour.

In recent years, unions have been a key player in Indonesian politics, winning important fights, getting labour union leaders elected to parliament at the district level in the 2014 general election.

Since Reformasi – the wave of reform that followed the end of Suharto's dictatorship in 1998 – a wave of strikes has taken place across Indonesia, intensifying between 2011 and 2013. They involved millions of workers, forcing the government to implement huge minimum wage increases – by an average of 27 per cent per year – and increase healthcare provision.

But worker mobilization, including general strikes in 2012 and 2013 as well as legal action, has scared corporations and the state. They are now hitting back, attempting to restrict the power of unions. The government has designated many industrial estates 'national vital objects', de facto banning industrial action, and eliminated the recurring annual negotiations over minimum wage increases.

Workers flex their muscles

A nationwide strike – spanning the manufacturing industry and some informal sectors – was held on 3 October 2012, coordinated by the Indonesian Labour Assembly, an alliance of labour unions. More than two million workers participated in the general strike, spread over 35 cities and districts – in 20 provinces and 80 industrial estates. They protested against poor working conditions including low wages, unsafe workplaces, and short term contracts.

During this strike, tens of thousands of workers managed to occupy the Nusantara Bonded Zone in Cakung, North Jakarta, the country's oldest and most notorious Export Processing Zone – a barrier-free area where a developing country hopes to attract foreign investment, often at the expense of workers. The majority of workers in the garment sector here are women and sexual harassment has been the norm.

The occupation in turn paralysed seven other key industrial estates in Bekasi, West Java, which are the backbone of Indonesia's economy – they contribute 46 per cent of the country's total non-oil-and-gas exports. Thousands of workers also blockaded a number of highways. This collective action brought about a sharp increase in the minimum wage (48 per cent) in 2013. It was the first general strike since the dictatorship ended.

The second general strike lasted for two days, on 31 October to 1 November 2013. As a warm-up, a week prior to this general strike, a wave of strikes escalated in different cities where industrial zones were located. A new alliance, the National Coalition of Labour Movement was formed to help with central coordination. At least three million workers took part in the strikes.

There have been some notable achievements as the results of the mobilization. Between 2011-2013, there was a series of protest campaigns that demanded changes on three major issues: the minimum wage, the elimination of outsourcing, and social security policy. Many of their demands have been adopted into government regulations.

Firstly, workers asked the government to take more elements into account when calculating living costs to set minimum wages, following which the government increased minimum wages across the country (different provinces and cities have these set at different levels) when a new list of wage components – around 60 items – was adopted into Minister of Labour's Decree in 2012.

Secondly, increased restrictions on irregular and agency work have been recommended by the judiciary following a campaign by unions in 2012. A group of workers submitted a judicial review to the Constitutional Court to restrict outsourcing. When the judicial review was accepted in 2012, the Court mandated the government to issue stricter regulations to impede employers from recruiting contract and agency workers. The government was forced to issue the Minister of Labour's Decree No. 19/2012, which limits outsourcing.

Thirdly, the government legislated for a social security policy. Despite controversy and debate within the labour movement around it – as the policy is based on monetary contributions rather than providing universal free healthcare – this policy was enacted to cover all citizens with health insurance. This was previously only provided for formal workers, civil servants, and members of the military.

Free the workers, jail the bosses

Since 2009, with a combination of legal knowledge and skills, workers and labour unions successfully brought a company's general manager – Fathoni Prawata of Japanese stationery company King Jim's Indonesian subsidiary – to criminal prosecution, and then to jail for dismissing a union leader. In later years, as a result of their pressure several other employers were sent to jail for not paying minimum wages. But despite a few victories, law enforcement remains toothless in many instances: bringing employers to prison is not a uniform trend, nor is it an easy process. It depends on various factors, including the creaky judicial system, as well as on political opportunity and power struggles.

Capital and state retaliate

The successes of Indonesian labour unions have led to a strong backlash from capital and the state. Employers have taken the threat of a strike wave seriously and tried to consolidate their power. Multinational corporations including Samsung seem to be behind those who are going on a reactionary offensive against workers' strikes.

Since 2014, the central government has launched a certification scheme to declare certain economic units 'national vital objects', restricting them from any industrial action. The Ministry of Industry has guaranteed an added layer of security for 49 industrial firms and 14 industrial estates with the help of the National Police's Directorate of Vital Object Security, and the national army.

Furthermore, the workers' core campaign on minimum wage increases has been hindered by a new regulation on minimum wage issued in 2015, which replaced annual negotiations with a set formula – economic growth plus inflation rate, weakening organized labour's ability to address more alarming issues in the future, like occupational health and safety.

Employers and government have consolidated their power, and this has been aggravated by the return to politics of military and police figures.

In response, workers need to consolidate their power from bottom-up. Their collective experiences of industrial strikes and everyday resistance have taught them that grassroots labour organizing is necessary for success in political struggle – not only for their rights and justice, but also for Indonesian democracy.

[A more detailed account of Indonesian labour struggles is described in Fahmi Panimbang and Abu Mufakhir (forthcoming, 2018), 'Labour Strikes in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia, 1998-2013', in Jorg Nowak, Madhumita Dutta, and Peter Birke (eds.), Workers Movements and Strikes in the 21st Century: A Global Perspective.]

Source: https://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2018/01/11/indonesia-labour-crackdown

Indonesia elections: Three factors that will shape the political

The Interpreter - January 10, 2018

Greta Nabbs-Keller – For Joko (Jokowi) Widodo, the first Indonesian President elected from outside Jakarta's elite, the combination of disruptive global forces and the intrinsic features of Indonesia's contemporary polity tested both his leadership and the nation's stability in 2017.

It became abundantly clear that individual elites would pursue political gain at the expense of national unity in a dangerous intensification of populist politics.

Indonesians witnessed the triumph of identity politics and the invocation of threats reminiscent of the Suharto-era by opponents of Jokowi and his close political ally, incumbent ethnic Chinese governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok). These opponents succeeded not only in their quest to defeat Ahok in the election run-off, but to eliminate him from political contest through a criminal conviction of blasphemy.

In a phenomenon by no means unique to Indonesia's democracy, the corrosive effects of social media served to bolster the political extremes. In Indonesia's case, it was predominately hardline Islamic elements, conservative nationalists and political opportunists who mobilised against the incumbent governor, buoyed by online vitriol.

Three aspects of Indonesia's contemporary polity are worthy of close attention in the year ahead and beyond. First, the growing political force of Islamic coalitions outside the mainstream Islam-based parties; second, the ongoing political influence of high-ranking security force officers almost two decades after the end of the New Order military-backed regime; and third, the enduring manner in which anti-Chinese sentiment is used as a means to delegitimise political opponents.

Islamic coalitions

The mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of Muslim anti-Ahok protestors in November and December 2016, repeated in February and March 2017 (the latter in far lesser numbers), accompanied by a rise in racially and sectarian-charged hate speech, provoked legitimate concerns within the Indonesian government about the country's social cohesion. The tumultuous political developments prompted some international observers to fear Indonesia was lurching towards an Islamic state.

For political analysts, groups such as Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) have traditionally been understood as proxy militia groups, or more profanely, 'rent-a-thugs'. Backed financially and logistically by former military officers and political figures, they could be both mobilised and shut down relatively easily by their political masters.

However, the danger that became more apparent throughout last year was that in an era of ubiquitous social media, reining in militia groups was not unachievable and containing the spread of their radical sentiment was potentially more challenging. Informal coalitions of different Islamic-based groups could mobilise in large numbers to challenge democratically-elected leaders and ultimately the pluralist basis of the Indonesian state.

Political influence of security forces

In the context of increasing social unrest, the political allegiance of Indonesia's security forces became a key variable in determining the outcome for the Jokowi administration. The political contest was notable for the very different roles played by former Indonesian armed forces (TNI) Commander, General Gatot Nurmantyo, and Indonesian National Police (POLRI) Commander, General Tito Karnavian. Indeed, their roles in the playbook belied an orthodoxy in some Western diplomatic circles that the military and police were (conveniently) a spent political force in Indonesia.

Nurmantyo's inflammatory comments at the time of the first anti-Ahok protests appeared to unnerve Jokowi. Unsure of the TNI Commander's loyalty and as rumours of coup plots swirled, media speculation emerged that Jokowi was considering Nurmantyo's dismissal. Nurmantyo's generally provocative behaviour further prompted concerns among civil society organisations about the TNI Commander's political machinations, if not his deference to civilian executive authority.

Karnavian, by contrast, proved an indispensable balancing actor for the President against destabilising elements. POLRI's pursuit of charges against FPI leader, Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, and his careful management of the protests cemented Karnavian's place as trusted Jokowi confidant and his authority over domestic security concerns. Senior military figures aside from Nurmantyo also acted to stabilise Jakarta's heated political climate. The FPI leader was reportedly summoned by a powerful former TNI officer loyal to Jokowi and presented with an ultimatum: cease provocations and leave Indonesia or face an indeterminate period of detention.

The role of senior TNI and POLRI officers throughout Jakarta's turbulent election year underlines how much civilian politicians – particularly those from outside Jakarta's elite military circles – continue to rely on the support of senior security force figures as political balancing actors and key intermediaries. Conversely, despite TNI's exit from formal politics in 2004, the political aspirations of senior officers can prove a highly destabilising element in post-authoritarian Indonesia.

Chinese-based threat perceptions

Perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of Indonesia's recent political developments was the rise of anti-Chinese sentiment. Anti-Ahok elites were successful in invoking a Suharto-era narrative based on the 'triangular threat' posed by Indonesian communism, mainland China and the ethnic Chinese minority. With its roots in Indonesia's political history, characterised by a deep enmity towards Beijing and its support for communist subversion in Southeast Asia, opponents of Ahok also successfully exploited the racism resident in hardline Islamic circles and in negative public perceptions about the economic dominance of the ethnic Chinese, as well as questions about their national loyalties. What to expect in a year of simultaneous provincial, district and municipal elections?

The exploitation of primordial sentiment for political gain looks set to intensify ahead of elections scheduled for June. This, of course, has broader implications, not just for Indonesia's social cohesion and investor confidence, but also potentially for its foreign policy. The uptick in anti-Chinese rhetoric and offensive remarks by senior officials, such as Nurmantyo, will have been watched closely by Beijing. Similarly, Indonesia's neighbours will monitor developments in the coming year with some anxiety about Indonesia's trajectory as a moderate, Muslim democracy and its significance as a large Indo-Pacific state committed to a rules-based order in the context of heightened geopolitical tensions.

In the race for a percentage of the vote on 27 June that will enable parties to nominate presidential candidates, influential retired and serving security force officers will continue to act as pillars of support for Jokowi in his quest for a second term or, conversely, as destabilising actors in pursuit of personal political agendas. In 2019, Indonesia may well again see a president or vice president with 'Jenderal (Purn)' in his title.

Finally, the mobilisation and political influence of issue-based Islamic coalitions outside the mainstream Muslim parties, such as the National Mandate Party (PAN) and Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) is something that will require close scrutiny. Evidence of greater cross-fertilisation between Sunni militia groups such as FPI and Salafist elements would present a worrying trend in terms of radicalisation, if not for the future viability of Indonesia's democracy.

Source: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/three-key-factors-shape-indonesia-political-trajectory

Indonesia dodges a bullet, but moral panic about sexuality persists

Asia Times - January 9, 2018

Kyle Knight – In mid-December, Indonesia's Constitutional Court dismissed a petition that had sought to criminalize all consensual sex outside of marriage, as well as adult consensual same-sex conduct. Women's rights groups, sexual and gender minorities and others welcomed the 5-4 vote, which followed nearly 18 months of hearings.

The decision was more than hypothetical. With some estimating that as many as half of Indonesian couples do not get legally married because of difficulties registering, criminalizing their sex lives could overwhelm police and prison systems. The judgment also provided some respite to Indonesia's besieged lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, which has faced nearly two years of harassment and violence stoked by the public animosity of government officials.

But gay men in Indonesia already face prosecution and imprisonment under Indonesia's dangerously ambiguous 2008 Law on Pornography. Within 24 hours of the Constitutional Court judgment, a municipal court in North Jakarta sentenced eight men arrested in May at a gay meeting place to two or three years in prison under the Pornography Law.

The decision to reject the petition on the technical grounds that the Constitutional Court was not the right venue for creating new laws provided only temporary reassurance. The petitioners and their allies are sure to persist in their efforts, and in the meantime, authorities target and prosecute LGBT people under existing laws.

Sexual and gender minorities in Indonesia have historically learned to live with scattered instances of animosity, but pluralistic social attitudes provided a shield that typically prevented violence. Against this background, civil-society groups gained a foothold and free expression of sexual and gender identity became more common. But the breathing room was tenuous: While the government has never criminalized homosexual conduct, the lack of legal protections for LGBT people left them vulnerable.

Absurd to apocalyptic

The onslaught by government officials starting in January 2016 tipped that delicate balance. The anti-LGBT rhetoric ranged from the absurd to the apocalyptic: at a maternal-health seminar, a mayor warned young mothers off instant noodles – their time and attention, he said, should be given to nutritious cooking and spending time with their children, which would prevent them from becoming gay. Then the defense minister labeled LGBT rights activism a proxy war on the nation led by outsiders, more dangerous than a nuclear war.

The National Children's Protection Commission issued a decree against "gay propaganda." The national psychiatry association proclaimed homosexuality and transgender identities "mental illnesses." And the Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Muslim organization, called for criminalization of LGBT activism and for "rehabilitation" for gay people.

Then in 2017, there were at least seven raids on LGBT people in private spaces.

In March, unidentified vigilantes forcibly entered an apartment in Aceh province and took two men in their 20s to the police for allegedly having same-sex relations. The men were publicly flogged. In April, police raided a private gathering of gay and bisexual men in Surabaya, arrested and detained 14, and subjected them to HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) tests without consent. In May, police raided the Atlantis Spa in Jakarta. In June, police in Medan apprehended five "suspected lesbians" and shared a video of the raid and the women's names with reporters.

In July, police raided a gathering of transgender women in Kalimantan, arresting at least 200. In September, police in West Java province entered the private home of 12 women they suspected to be lesbians, and forcibly evicted them from the village. In October, police raided a Jakarta sauna popular among gay men and arrested more than 50 people. In December, vigilantes in Aceh province targeted transgender women attending a friend's birthday party and handed them to the local Sharia (Islamic law) police. Law on Pornography exploited

All told, more than 300 Indonesians were arrested in 2017 for alleged LGBT-associated behavior – the majority under the Pornography Law – and countless others terrorized.

While the petition before the Constitutional Court was preposterous in its scope, the roots of its impetus were no secret. The chairman of the Family Love Alliance, the main petitioner in the Constitutional Court case, told the media in August 2016 that while Indonesia's criminal code does not typically touch on private matters, this petition was a specific reaction to the increased visibility of LGBT rights activism.

So-called specialists testifying in the case blamed the rise in LGBT visibility on everything from gay dating apps such as Grindr to a Jewish conspiracy.

After the court ruling, the Family Love Alliance pledged to redouble its efforts to amend the Criminal Code in parliament, where it is currently under debate.

The obligations for Indonesia's policymakers are to draft laws that live up to the country's proud co-sponsorship of a United Nations resolution on privacy in 2013, enshrine the distinction that the Law Ministry has made between morality and criminality, and protect free expression and security rights of LGBT people as the government pledged in 2017 at the UN Human Rights Council.

In the meantime, authorities should end police targeting of suspected LGBT gatherings. Raids on private spaces are certainly not in line with Indonesia's "unity in diversity" motto.

Source: http://www.atimes.com/indonesia-dodges-bullet-moral-panic-sexuality-persists/


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