Home > South-East Asia >> Indonesia

Indonesia News Digest 7 – February 15-21, 2018

West Papua Aceh Military ties Sexual & domestic violence Labour & migrant workers Freedom of speech & expression Political parties & elections Fake news & hate speech Surveys & opinion polls Internet & social media Environment & natural disasters Health & education Tertiary education & campus life LBGT & same-sex marriage Terrorism & religious extremism Vigilante & para-military groups Freedom of religion & worship Sex, pornography & morality Land & agrarian conflicts Parliament & legislation Armed forces & defense Criminal justice & legal system Foreign affairs & trade Mining & energy Infrastructure & development Economy & investment Taxation & state budget Analysis & opinion

West Papua

ULMWP can pass muster: Foreign minister

Vanuatu Daily Post - February 21, 2018

Dan McGarry – In a brief message yesterday, Vanuatu Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu responded to an Indonesian spokesman's claims by Indonesia's First Secretary for Political Affairs in Australia that West Papua's 'game is up'.

Radio New Zealand reported earlier this week that Mr Sade Bimantara said that the "United Liberation Movement for West Papua's bid to be a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead group has reached a dead end."

In the interview with RNZI's Johnny Blades, Mr Bimantara opined "I don't think they qualify to be a full member of the MSG. They are not a state, and as opposed to Kanaks, they are not on the C24 (UN) Decolonisation Committee, they are not on the list, West Papua. And also the separatist group does not obtain full support from all the West Papuans. And West Papua and Papua is also politically free, so there's no reason for the MSG to accept them as full members."

This was disputed yesterday by Vanuatu's Foreign Minister. In an email exchange with the Daily Post, Mr Regenvanu wrote, "Well, that's for the MSG Leaders to decide once the application is presented to them. Technically, the ULMWP can meet the new criteria just agreed upon."

The issue, he wrote, would not be decided by the technicalities outlined by Indonesia's spokesman. "The question is only whether a political compromise can be achieved by the MSG Leaders before the next Summit at which the application for membership will be considered. Vanuatu is working on achieving this political compromise," he concluded.

Mr Regenvanu has been an outspoken supporter of West Papuan Independence movement. One of his last acts as Lands Minister before he took up the Foreign Affairs portfolio was to facilitate a grant of land to provide the United Liberation Movement for West Papua a permanent headquarters in Port Vila.

A ULMWP statement following the announcement of Mr Regenvanu's appointment to the portfolio said that it "is certainly a very effective state policy closely linked to the direction of the effective support of... Vanuatu for the West Papuan independence struggle."

Source: http://dailypost.vu/news/ulmwp-can-pass-muster-foreign-minister/article_bf4c30a1-de70-561e-bd14-9f38b1d1e54d.html

West Papua Liberation Army in fresh campaign against Indonesia

Radio New Zealand International - February 21, 2018

The West Papua National Liberation Army's central command in the Papuan Highlands has made a fresh declaration of war against Indonesian military.

The Liberation Army is the armed wing of the Free West Papua Movement. Since forming in the early 1970s after Indonesia took control of West Papua, the army has been waging a sporadic guerilla campaign for independence with limited weaponry.

However, it's been linked to a spate of skirmishes with Indonesian security forces in the Highlands region of Papua province in the past few months. It claimed responsibility for the killing of an Indonesian soldier in remote Puncak Jaya regency last week.

The Army's recently appointed Chief of Field operations, Major General Telenggen Lekkagak, has issued a new declaration about driving Indonesian forces out of Papua. The Liberation Army also wants to close the operations of foreign companies that are exploiting Papua's resources.

Major General Telenggen specifically mentioned the oil and gas multi-national BP with its gas project in Bintuni Bay, and the US mining giant Freeport which runs the massive Grasberg gold and copper mine in Mimika.

The Freeport mine, which is one of Indonesia's largest single sources of revenue, has long been the subject of West Papuan grievances over environmental and social impacts.

As well, Papuans have complained about not being consulted over the control of Freeport, and about not gaining any benefit from its lucrative operations.

Attacks by the Liberation Army on Indonesian security forces have often occurred in the area around Freeport, and have at times extended to attacks on the miner's infrastructure and personnel.

In the declaration, Major General Telenggen says that Papua's resources must be protected for the sake of West Papuan independence.

"As long as Indonesia occupies our homeland, the war's resistance continues until Papuan independence becomes real," read an English version of the Army's declaration.

He said that as of last month, the Liberation Army had ordered a general mobilisation of all its soldiers in Papua to carry out operations against what it calls "the invaders".

Although its membership has, in the past, been divided into various groups over West Papua's rugged interior, a spokesman for the Army says all of its wings are now united

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/350911/west-papua-liberation-army-in-fresh-campaign-against-indonesia

Indonesia helps finance Melanesian Spearhead Group secretariat

Radio New Zealand International - February 19, 2018

Indonesia's government has been helping fund the Melanesian Spearhead Group's secretariat. The secretariat, based in Vanuatu's capital Port Vila, has experienced funding limitations in recent years.

The five full members – Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia's FLNKS Kanaks Movement – are meant to pay annual contributions.

However, some members have struggled to pay their dues on time in the past few years. According to a spokesman for Indonesia's embassy in Australia, Sade Bimantara, Jakarta has been helping the MSG out.

"And we have been giving our annual contribution. On top of that we have also helped the secretariat in procuring vehicles and other things for their secretariat. Yeah, so we have been assisting them financially as well."

Sade Bimantara, a representative of Indonesia's government, which has associate member status in the MSG.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/350755/indonesia-helps-finance-melanesian-spearhead-group-secretariat

West Papua one step closer to MSG membership, says Wenda

Asia Pacific Report - February 17, 2018

Meriba Tulo, Port Moresby – West Papua's application to become a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group has gained traction, with MSG leaders referring the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) request to the MSG Secretariat for deliberation.

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister and new MSG chair, Peter O'Neill, made this known at the conclusion of the Leaders' Summit.

According to O'Neill, the leaders of Melanesia have approved new criteria guidelines for observers, associate members and full members to the sub-regional grouping.

Currently, the ULMWP has an observer status to the MSG, with Indonesia already an associate member to this sub-regional grouping. However, with this new move, West Papua, or the ULMWP at least could be one step closer to becoming a full member of MSG.

ULMWP leader Benny Wenda was present at the closing of the MSG Leaders' Summit and was pleased with the outcome. When addressing Melanesian leaders, Wenda called on the MSG to support West Papua in the same way that the MSG had shown support for the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) in New Caledonia in their push for independence.

Indonesia, however, called on the MSG to respect its sovereignty, calling the West Papuan issue an "internal matter". These comments did not go down well with Wenda, when speaking to EMTV News: "West Papua Is a Melanesian issue, which must be dealt with by Melanesians – Indonesia is not Melanesia."

[Meriba Tulo is a senior reporter and presenter and currently anchors Resource PNG as well as EMTV's daily National News. Asia Pacific Report republishes EMTV News stories by arrangement.]

Source: https://asiapacificreport.nz/2018/02/17/west-papua-one-step-closer-to-msg-membership-says-wenda/

West Papua membership issue still unresolved at MSG

Radio New Zealand International - February 16, 2018

Leaders of Melanesian Spearhead Group countries have referred a West Papuan application for full membership in the group to its secretariat for processing.

The leaders had their summit this week in Papua New Guinea's capital Port Moresby. A long-pending application for Spearhead membership by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua is to be processed under new guidelines for membership. Johnny Blades has more.


Johnny Blades: So the MSG – whose five full members are Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia's FLNKS Kanaks Movement – has been wrestling with this matter of full West Papuan membership for a number of years. Shortly after forming, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua was granted observer status in the MSG in 2015. But since then, they've been lobbying strongly for more representation at the MSG, this subregional body, arguing it is the best first avenue for addressing their long-running grievances with Indonesian rule. Yet there's been an impasse within the group over whether to grant the West Papuans that full membership. You've got Vanuatu and Solomon Islands and the FLNKS very much supportive of it, or who in recent years have indicated their support, whereas PNG and Fiji have basically opposed it. It seems like they are more toeing the line of Indonesia who of course is an associate member in the group. Indonesia has opposed the Liberation Movement taking such a part in the MSG.

Don Wiseman: And this is why the leaders back in 2016 requested the MSG secretariat to clarify guidelines around membership?

JB: Yes, it was found that the guidelines on membership weren't clear – or at least that different interpretations on what they meant were creating a problem around this West Papua matter. So a special committee was established to develop new guidelines. This has been done, and after almost two years, the MSG leaders this week formally approved the criteria. This is the criteria under which the United Liberation Movement for West Papua's bid for membership is to be processed by the MSG secretariat.

DW: So what does this mean for the West Papuan membership application?

JB: Well, in the short term, more waiting. It's unclear whether this is just another way to defer the decision for an indefinite period. And is it a technical decision to be made, or a political one? Or a bit of both? It's still a bit confusing.

DW: What is Indonesia's response to this?

JB: At the summit, Indonesia delivered a warning to the MSG member states not to meddle in other countries' matters. Their delegation head, Desra Percaya, said "we remind member states to continue to focus on the principles of MSG, the core principles, and to refrain from meddling in other countries' businesses". That's interesting though because the MSG's founding principle really was to work towards the entire decolonisation of Melanesia.

DW: And the Liberation Movement?

JB: They remain hopeful, and have always been very respectful of MSG leader's decisions on this ongoing matter. But ahead of the summit, they had submitted their short, medium, long-term political and social agendas and demonstrated again that they've got sort of unity of representation of all the major West Papuan groups. But coming out of this summit, I think there is some frustration among some MSG member governments that this West Papua issue remains at this stage. I think the leaders are all in broad agreement that the MSG states should work together towards more regional, economic co-operation, and they've all outwardly happy with the re-structure now being undertaken by the secretariat, which has been poorly financed in recent years. But the West Papua issue remains a sticking point. And Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai has told local media that he's worried that that founding principle of freeing all Melanesian peoples from colonialism has sort of got lost along the way. So he wants the MSG to take a more active role in putting the focus of the group back on self-determination of Melanesia. And he cited the case of the Kanaks (in New Caledonia). He says MSG should work with the Papuans and the Indonesians more closely to get them together as it were to progress the issue forward, as has been the case with france and the Kanaks. And that's a nod to the fact that there's a self-determination referendum due to happen in New Caledonia later this year.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/2018632280/west-papua-membership-issue-still-unresolved-at-msg

West Papuan MSG bid at a dead end, says Jakarta

Radio New Zealand International - February 16, 2018

Indonesia says the United Liberation Movement for West Papua's bid to be a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead group has reached a dead end.

MSG leaders meeting in Port Moresby this week referred the Movement's application to the group's secretariat for processing under new membership guidelines.

The Movement already has observer status at the MSG but the group's leaders have been divided on whether to allow it full membership.

Indonesia's government says that the Agreement Establishing the MSG, which was revised in 2015, stipulated that members must respect the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the domestic affairs of states. It says that based on that, the membership application of the Liberation Movement "will not succeed".

However, following this week's summit, Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai urged the MSG to stay focused on its founding goal of political independence for all Melanesian peoples. "This is the raison d'etre for this group, and it must not be diluted in our wider consideration," Mr Salwai told local media.

"I therefore encourage the MSG to work in collaboration with parties concerned and encourage dialogue between Indonesia and West Papua to progress the issue forward, as this has been the case with France and FLNKS (the body repesenting New Caledonia's indigenous Kanaks which is a full member of the MSG)."

But Jakarta says that the self-determination choice of West Papuans has been finalised with incorporation into Indonesia in the 1960s, describing the Liberation Movement as a "separatist" group. It has warned MSG member states not to meddle in others' soveriegn affairs.

According to a spokesman for Indonesia's embassy in Australia, Sade Bimantara, the Liberation Movement's bid is at a dead end. "I don't think they qualify to be a full member of the MSG," he said.

"They are not a state, and as opposed to Kanaks, they are not on the C24 (UN) Decolonisation Committee, they are not on the list, West Papua. And also the separatist group does not obtain full support from all the West Papuans."

Sade Bimantara said West Papuans were politically free under Indonesia's democratic system. "Those claiming to represent the West Papuan people, the ULMWP, they do not truly represent the people. They only represent themselves. They have their own narrow political goals, and their narrow self-interest," he said.

However, the Liberation Movement remained hopeful that the MSG would accept it as a full member. Its chairman Benny Wenda

"I want to send my people a message that this is another positive," he said of the MSG's referral of the application for processing. "Step by step, we are in the right diorcetion, so please pray. We hope that the secretariat will discuss our application very soon."

Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/350579/west-papuan-msg-bid-at-a-dead-end-says-jakarta

Indonesia warns MSG states not to meddle in other countries'

Radio New Zealand International - February 15, 2018

Indonesia has warned Melanesian Spearhead Group member states against meddling in other countries' affairs.

The warning was delivered by the Indonesian Foreign Ministry's Director General of Asia-Pacific and African Affairs, Desra Percaya, at this week's MSG leaders summit.

The summit was hosted by Papua New Guinea's prime minister Peter O'Neill in Port Moresby. It was attended by leaders and officials from the other four full MSG members: Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Caledonia's FLNKS Kanaks Movement.

Indonesia, which is an associate member, was represented by Mr Percaya who endorsed the MSG's plan on regional co-operation and common prosperity. Antara reported that he warned the other states not to meddle in other countries' sovereign matters.

This came amid the MSG's ongoing deliberations on whether to admit the United Liberation Movement for West Papua as a full member. The Liberation Movement currently has observer status.

"We remind member states (of their obligation) to continue to implement the mandate in accordance with the principles of forming MSG, including refraining from meddling in other countries' businesses much less than their sovereignty," Mr Percaya said in a press statement.

Indonesia's inclusion in the MSG in 2012 was controversial, seen by many critics as solely an attempt to quell support for West Papuan independence aims. But Jakarta argues that with eleven million Melanesians across five of its provinces, Indonesia has the biggest Melanesian population in the world and is an important part of the region.

Leaders of the five full MSG members have been divided over whether to grant the West Papuans full membership. Yet they mostly agree on the need to remain engaged with Jakarta on their ongoing concerns about human rights abuses and the lingering self determination issue in Papua.

Meanwhile, the Moresby summit resulted in the MSG leaders endorsing new guidelines on membership criteria. They also referred the Liberation Movement's application for full membership to the MSG secretariat for processing.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/350486/indonesia-warns-msg-states-not-to-meddle-in-other-countries-affairs

ULMWP leaders welcomed to Port Moresby

Vanuatu Daily Post - February 15, 2018

Len Garae – The four West Papuan official representatives of United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) led by Chairman Benny Wenda, have been provided with historic VIP welcome by the Melanesian Spearhead Group host, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O'Neil on arrival at Port Moresby last weekend.

Speaking for ULMWP in Port Vila, Executive Member Andy Ayamiseba says it gives his organization and the people of West Papua great joy to know that the 21st MSG host has demonstrated true Melanesian diplomatic respect for their leaders, by making them feel a true part of Melanesian brotherhood.

Ayamiseba says he has received reports from Port Moresby that on arrival, his leaders were saluted, provided with official black diplomatic cars and driven to Stanley Hotel, the venue of the meetings in PNG's Capital City.

After signing declaration after declaration for about 50 years, ULMWP Leaders made an unanimous decision that the signing ceremony to endorse OPM Leader Jacob Prai and the Liberation Army of West Papua into ULMWP at Grand Hotel in Port Vila last week was the "final declaration".

Now they are confident that West Papua is about to enter a new dawn with Melanesia.

Source: http://dailypost.vu/news/ulmwp-leaders-welcomed-to-port-moresby/article_400c95f4-8911-5bf8-a529-7c1914c0027e.html


Aceh trans women who were stripped naked and beaten speak out about

Pink News - February 15, 2018

Meka Beresford – A group of trans women who were stripped and beaten in Indonesia have spoken out about their ordeal.

Last month, 12 women had their heads shaven, were forced to wear typically male clothing and forced into demeaning exercises in an effort to "turn them into men".

The raid was called "operasi penyakit masyarakat," which translates as "community sickness operation".

The horrendous abuse was carried out in Aceh, Indonesia. It is the only province in the country which practices Sharia Law.

The 12 women have recounted to Amnesty International Indonesia exactly what happened on the night of January 27 when they were rounded up as part of the "clean up" operation. Police conducted multiple raids on local salons to find the trans women and then they were brought to a central part of the town.

In front of a group of onlookers, the women reported that the police chief delivered a speech condemning their gender identity and provoked the crowd to jeer at them. "Oust them. Just burn them. Just kill them," the onlookers reportedly chanted.

The women said that they were then marched in a military-style manner to a nearby park where they were forced to carry out mock military training to make them "manlier". They were also forced to strip naked.

They were ordered to roll on the ground, but when one woman refused a warning shot was fired to scare her. Another woman said she had water thrown on her for protesting the treatment.

One begged the police to "just shoot me", and told them that she would rather die with "dignity" than be tormented and humiliated. "You as a transgender do not have the right to have dignity," the police chief allegedly responded.

Six of the women had their hair cut off and were told to urinate in a bottle for a drug test. One woman was told to hose down the others, but she was kicked by authorities for not doing it properly. They were told to shout "like men" and were slapped with shoes.

After being soaked through with the hose, the women say that they were detained and made to sleep in a cell with no mattress on a cold floor in wet clothing.

The following day, they say that 11 of them were "released" but forced to go to a religious sermon where a Muslim cleric told them that they should "return" to their "nature". He also allegedly said that it was "ok to kill transgender or other LGBT people because they are more eying than kafir (an infidel)".

The one woman who was not released was detained because of an explicit video found on her phone.

Amnesty said that the treatment was "cruel, inhuman and degrading" and could be defined as torture under international law.

Usman Hamid, the Executive Director for the Indonesia branch of the charity said that the arrests and abuse was based on nothing but discrimination. "It is appalling that a group of heavily armed police officers raided and arrested transgender women on the basis of nothing but hatred."

"Local authorities and ordinary people, in the name of Shari'a law, have colluded to attack and humiliate these transgender women. We believe the actions of the police amount to torture under international law," Hamid said.

The women are said to have been left "deeply traumatised" by the raid and felt forced to flee the province out of fear for their safety. Some were intimidated by neighbours or family members.

One woman was kicked and had a stone thrown at her. A number were also fired from their jobs because employees were afraid to keep employing them because of unwanted police attention.

Amnesty made a call on Indonesian authorities to investigate into the "War against transgenders".

"The harrowing tales of these women must be a wake-up call to the Indonesian authorities and people everywhere. The human rights of all Indonesians... must be upheld and protected equally.

"President Joko Widodo must instruct the National Police to order North Aceh police to stop attacking and start protecting transgender people, should they receive threats and intimidations from local people," they said.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/02/15/aceh-trans-women-who-were-stripped-naked-and-beaten-speak-out-about-ordeal/

Military ties

Indonesia says Uncle Sam to lift last bans on Kopassus troops

The Australian - February 21, 2018

Amanda Hodge, Nivell Rayda – Indonesia says the US has undertaken to lift the remaining restrictions on engagement with Indonesia's Kopassus special forces, ending a 19-year ban on the unit linked to civilian killings and human rights abuses in West Papua, Aceh and East Timor.

Former Indonesian military commander Moeldoko, now chief of staff to President Joko Widodo, said US ambassador Joseph Donovan had confirmed on Monday during a meeting at the presidential palace that the US would "gradually lift" the last restrictions on the military unit.

This follows a request last month from Defence Minister Ryacudu Ryamizard to his US counterpart Jim Mattis to end the ban, imposed in 1999, on US engagement with the unit.

Successive Indonesian governments have lobbied for the ban to be lifted, but have had only partial success despite support from the Pentagon. Former president Barack Obama in 2010 lifted the outright ban on US military contact with Kopassus, although its 6000 members are still banned from travelling to the US or training with US forces.

In a statement issued after Monday's meeting, General Moeldoko said Mr Donovan had emphasised the importance of co-operation between the two armed forces in preserving stability in the Asia-Pacific region and said the US intended to "reopen the possibility of a military training cooperation, (beginning) with Kopassus".

But the US embassy in Jakarta appeared reluctant to confirm General Moeldoko's statement yesterday, or give a time line for when US training of Kopassus might resume.

Instead an embassy spokesman said: "As Secretary Mattis' trip to Indonesia demonstrated, we are committed to deepening our defence co-operation with ­Indonesia and are seeking opportunities for further engagement in various areas. All engagement ­activities are conducted in accordance with US law.

"We support Indonesia's ­efforts to promote human rights and the rule of law, and we continue to discuss the importance of accountability for past abuses."

The move would be in line with the unveiling last month of a shift in US national security focus from counter-terrorism to contain the rising power of China and Russia.

American forces are prevented under the "Leahy Law" from providing assistance or training to units known to have engaged in human rights abuses, unless they have addressed the abuses and held those responsible to account.

Mr Mattis said last month he understood Kopassus had turned a corner and removed those from the unit believed responsible for a crackdown on student activists under the Suharto regime, as well as the deaths of independence and secessionist activists in East Timor, Aceh and Papua.

Australia also cut ties with Kopassus after its members fired on Australian soldiers sent to East Timor in the lead-up to independence in 2002. Its ban also cited links between Kopassus and the disappearance and killings of political activists and civilians.

Canberra lifted the restrictions about a decade ago following a series of deadly bomb attacks in Bali and on the Australian embassy in Jakarta, rationalising that improving the skills of Kopassus was in Australia's interest and could save Australian lives.

Amnesty International Indonesia spokesman Usman Hamid said the military had not fulfilled its promise to bring to justice high-ranking officers responsible for kidnapping and murder in Papua, East Timor and Aceh.

He also said those accused of human rights violations continued to enjoyed strategic positions within the military and in the Joko administration.

Source: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/us-to-lift-ban-on-indonesian-kopassus-troops/news-story/54a4128144e2d34cef1924f1a948e170

Sexual & domestic violence

Sexual assault suspect says was turned on by victim's dress, Komnas

Coconuts Jakarta - February 15, 2018

Police on Tuesday arrested a suspect in the sexual assault case in Jatinegara, East Jakarta, CCTV footage of which has gone viral recently showing an assailant tackling a woman to the ground and grabbing her private parts before running away.

With the help of the footage, the Jatinegara Police identified a suspect, known by his initial R, a married man and father who lives near the victim's neighborhood. After the arrest, police say R confessed that he acted "spontaneously" when he saw the victim, who has been identified by her initials DK.

"He was [driven by] desire, just spontaneous like that because the victim was wearing a house dress which was somewhat see-through because of the lighting in the area," said Jatinegara Police Chief Supadi, as quoted by Detik yesterday.

Though the police were just conveying R's motive to the public, the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) condemned the suspect's attempt to deflect blame from himself.

"The culture of victim-blaming must be stopped. The reason that the suspect gave [for the assault] shows that discriminative viewpoints against women are still very strong within our society," Komnas Perempuan head Azriana Rambe said yesterda, as quoted by Detik.

Azriana added that it's imperative to educate men that women aren't merely to be seen as sexual objects and that women's clothing is never an invitation to sexual harassment or assault.

"Just like men, women have the right to wear whatever they want," she said. "Human rights values and gender equality must be integrated into formal and non-formal educational curriculum, including education in families. People have the right to their own bodies."

While victim-blaming in sexual assault cases like this one is unfortunately still common in Indonesia, the argument that wearing more conservative dress helps prevents women from getting harassed simply does not hold weight. For example, one of the most talked about sexual harassment cases so far this year involved a woman in the city of Depok who was wearing a hijab when a passing motorcyclist groped her breasts.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/e-jakarta-sexual-assault-suspect-says-turned-victims-dress-komnas-pa-stop-victim-blaming/

Labour & migrant workers

Indonesia not yet ready for the automated era

Jakarta Globe - February 19, 2018

Adinda Normala, Jakarta – The government must prepare Indonesia's workforce to be competitive to anticipate future challenges associated with coming technological advancements, especially in business, a former deputy foreign minister said on Sunday (18/02).

The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) will inevitably bring changes in the economy and social structure due to exponentially expanding technological advancements, said Dino Patti Djalal, the former deputy foreign minister and also the founder of the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FICP).

According to Dino, jobs will face the greatest disruption from technology and is one of the major challenges expected to come about as a result of the advent of the 4IR. Automation, advanced robotics and artificial intelligence are expected to replace millions of existing jobs.

Recently, around 10,000 toll road personnel in Jakarta were laid off after the government began to employ cashless transactions on major roads in the capital city.

"Based on data from [global consultant] McKinsey, by 2050, hundreds of millions of people around the world will lose their jobs; that will occur mostly in China, which is expected to lose over 200 million jobs," Dino said in a speech at the 21st Supermentor event hosted by FICP in Jakarta.

According to state-owned China Central Television news network, Yangshan deepwater port in Shanghai, the world's busiest container port, in December last year conducted trials on 100 pieces of intelligent equipment, including 50 driverless automatic guided vehicles, to handle cargo.

Qingdao New Qianwan Container Terminal in China became Asia's first automated port terminal in May last year. The port reduced the amount of workers required to unload a cargo ship from 60 to nine.

Highly skilled workers will benefit from the technological changes but low skilled workers will have to compete with automated processes, Dino said.

While Indonesia seems to have a long way to go before a fully automated workplace becomes commonplace, the government should start preparing to create a balance between the workforce and profitability to avoid job loss. New approaches to education are expected to rein more innovative solutions to 21st-century workplaces.

"Nothing will change much regarding community empowerment if there is no change in education to adapt to the technology, which is currently thriving at full speed," Dino said.

Erik Meijer, president director of telecommunications company TelkomTelstra, said the technology utilization in jobs will increase safety as it reduces the risk of human error.

According to Erik, jobs available over the next 10 years will be divided into "personal areas," such as nurse practitioners, physical therapists and personal financial advisers, and "science," which will include jobs like cybersecurity experts, developers and network engineers. Meanwhile, assembly line workers, service jobs and administrative jobs will ultimately be replaced.

"We must be aware of the skill shifts needed in the digital era to get opportunities from technology and not be sidelined," Erik said.

Speakers at the event included other influential figures, including Dato Sri Tahir, founder of Mayapada Group and Tahir Foundation, and Tony Fernandes, chief executive of budget airline group AirAsia.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/indonesia-not-yet-ready-automated-era/

Freedom of speech & expression

Authorities bar art exhibition in Yogyakarta

Jakarta Post - February 15, 2018

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – Local authorities in Yogyakarta barred an art exhibition initiated by a group of activists protesting of the construction of a new airport in Kulonprogo regency, Yogyakarta.

The exhibition, titled "Tanah Istimewa" (Special Land) and initiated by a group called "Teman Temon" (Temon's friends), was initially to be held at Lorong Gallery in Kasihan district, Kulonprogo.

Local authorities, however, prevented the exhibition's opening, citing the organizer's failure to lodge a notification letter with the local authorities as the reason.

"After we checked with the village head, we found out that the organizer had not submitted a notification letter about the event to local authorities. The Lorong Gallery [management] voluntarily cancelled the exhibition," Kasihan Police Precinct head Comm. Supardi told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Lorong Gallery curator Arham Rahman, however, said a village head in Kasihan, Joko Pramono, had called him while he was preparing the opening of the exhibition of Wednesday evening. During the meeting, Joko claimed that the police had warned him not to let the exhibition go on because "it triggers unrest among society".

The planned two-day exhibition was held in solidarity with local farmers affected by the construction of a new airport in Kulonprogo. The farmers were allegedly evicted from their plots of land to make way for the airport construction. The exhibition had planned to display paintings, art installations, posters, short films and pieces of evidence indicating evictions in Kulonprogo.

The Post was unable to reach Joko for comment. (swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/15/authorities-bar-art-exhibition-in-yogyakarta.html

Political parties & elections

Kinship politics hamper women's involvement in regional elections

Tempo - February 21, 2018

Riani Sanusi Putri, Jakarta – Women's involvement in politics is currently still relying on family ties or kinship politics, which also applies at the 2018 Regional Elections. Political parties are considered to be too pragmatic and are oriented towards the aspect of electability and capital strength.

"This is why the chances to have female candidacy is still hampered by the domination of capital strength and electability dominated by men," said Maharddhika, a researcher at the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) on Wednesday, February 21.

Maharddhika revealed that female regional head candidacy through kinship politics has increased. It was 24.39 percent during the 2015 regional elections. The number grew to 31.82 percent in the 2017 regional elections and it grew to 39 percent in 2018.

He argues that this is evidence that political parties cannot supply adequate female candidates since parties tend to not have an inclusive and open recruitment mechanism.

Other than that, according to Maharddhika, there are three dominant backgrounds of female candidates that run for regional elections, such as the party cadres, former legislative member, and an incumbent. "Political regeneration that is intended to prepare female candidates with great quality and electability has not been running well," he said.

Based on records from infopemilu.kpu.go.id obtained on Wednesday, February 21, the 2018 regional elections will be participated by 8.85 percent women candidates. There are a total of 101 female candidates from 1,140 candidates that have registered.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/21/055915939/Kinship-Politics-Hamper-Womens-Involvement-in-Regional-Elections

Fadli Zon: Prabowo Subianto cannot be paired with President Joko

Tempo - February 21, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – Gerindra Party Deputy Chairman Fadli Zon responds to a survey institute that conducted a poll by pairing Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto with Joko Widodo. Fadli said Prabowo cannot be paired with Jokowi.

"Do not think Prabowo wants to pair up with Jokowi," Fadli told reporters at the parliament building on Tuesday, February 20. He, the Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives, said that Prabowo and Jokowi have different platforms so they cannot be paired.

Fadli Zon also said that Gerindra Party will declare Prabowo Subianto as a presidential candidate in the 2019 election.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/21/055915903/Fadli-Zon-Prabowo-Subianto-Cannot-Be-Paired-With-Jokowi

Intolerance, identity politics on the rise ahead of 2018 and 2019

Jakarta Globe - February 21, 2018

Telly Nathalia, Jakarta – Indonesians would do well to keep to their official national motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, or unity in diversity, ahead of June's regional elections and next year's legislative and presidential elections, one hundred prominent public leaders said in a joint statement in Jakarta on Tuesday (20/02).

The religious leaders, human rights activists, researchers and lawyers said they have been alarmed by the spate of violent attacks on priests, monks and Muslim clerics and places of worship across the country, especially in Java, which some in the media have been blaming on attackers who suffered from mental illness.

"Why have these people been attacked? Why did they say people who were involved in the attacks were mentally ill?" Hendardi from human rights watchdog Setara Institute said.

Just this month, a sword-wielding assailant attacked the Saint Lidwina Catholic church in Yogyakarta and injured four people, including a priest and a policeman.

Another incident took place in Bandung, West Java, when a Muslim cleric suffered heavy injuries after being tortured by a group from a different Islamic sect.

Also this month, a Buddhist monk was kicked out of his home in Tangerang, Banten, by his Muslim neighbors.

Last week, a Muslim ulema was beaten in an attack in Lamongan, East Java.

Local media reported the attackers in East Java and West Java were people who suffered from mental disorder. "Our dearly held principle of plurality has been under attack this year," Hendardi said.

The group making the statement urged the Indonesian government to do more to prevent threats to the country's unity.

"The elections this year and next year should not be a reason to use Machiavellian ways to manipulate the public, using attacks on religions, black campaigns or hate-mongering. No one should be allowed to use SARA [ethnic, religious, racial and group] sentiments to sow divisions among our people," the group's statement said.

They also said religious leaders will play a key role to keep the country united, since they have a lot of clout over their followers and can educate them to help prevent the disintegration of the country.

Radicals back in favor

Taufik Andrie, the executive director of Institute for International Peace Building (IIPB), warned that a lot of canny political operators in Indonesia have been trying to curry favor with radical religious groups ahead of the elections in 2018 and 2019.

"They're capitalizing on these groups, though many of them by principle still refuse to vote in elections," he said in Jakarta on Tuesday.

"Many leaders in regional areas made political compromises with radical groups, for on anti-alcohol regulation, and this has serious implications. Just how far and for how long will they play to the interests of these radical groups?" Taufik said.

Navhat Nuraniyah, an expert on radicalism from the Institute for Policy Analysis and Conflict, meanwhile said identity politics can be, and has been, used to divide people along sectarian lines. "Anti-Shia sentiment for example. This has been used to provoke the more radical Muslim groups," she said on Tuesday.

The sporadic attacks on religious leaders and places of worship, according to Taufik, may have been proof that radical groups are being manipulated for others' political gain.

But Taufik admitted incidents of intolerance are on the rise in Indonesia, and that things can only get worse if the government fails to stamp them out. "Intolerance can be a seed of division. It can lead to radicalism," Taufik told the Jakarta Globe.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/intolerance-identity-politics-rise-ahead-2018-2019-elections-indonesia/

How will the new 'New Order' party fare the 2019 elections?

BBC Indonesia - February 20, 2018

Abraham Utama – The Working Party (Partai Berkarya), which was initiated by former President Suharto's youngest son Hutomo Mandala Putra alias Tommy Suharto, is aiming to occupy third place in the 2019 legislative elections.

Observers however predict that like the three other political parties established by the Cendana [referring to the Suharto family residence in Central Jakarta] lineage in earlier elections, New Order symbols will not ensure that the Working Party passes the parliamentary threshold required to gain a seat in parliament.

Working Party general chairperson Neneng Tutty says that Tommy is a central figure in the organisation. He says that in the lead up to the elections Tommy will be campaigning intensively for the same program as his father.

"He is the chairperson of our party's advisory board. So he will most certainly follow his father. We will continue with the [policy] trilogy of development, the people's economy and food self-sufficiency", Tutty told BBC Indonesia on Monday February 19.

The development trilogy of Suharto's New Order regime referred to by Tutty was based on so-called dynamic national stability, high economic growth and development for all.

Referring to data from the General Elections Commission (KPU), the Working Party has 409,022 members with the level of women's representation standing at 36.36 percent.

The party's membership is higher than that of several other established parties including the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) which only has a membership of 339,224.

The Islamic based parties the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) and the National Awakening Party (PKS) also have fewer members than the Working Party with 300,158 and 375,254 respectively.

Nevertheless, Gadjah Mada University (UGM) political science educator Mada Sukmajati says that the Working Party has yet to provide the public with any kind of detailed explanation about its political program.

Sukmajati believes that the party is simply betting its future on Tommy as a symbol of the New Order and isn't offering a concrete political program.

"They're still short [on detail], the Working Party's campaign will simply sell the New Order's program. The public hasn't noticed them yet. They'll just sell the New Order through Tommy and the banyan tree symbol and the colour of yellow", Sukmajati told BBC Indonesia.

On its official website the Working Party states that its mission is to increase political participation and fight for the public interest and the party's ideology.

In relation to the party's ideology, Sukmajati says that the only differentiation between the political parties in Indonesia is whether they are based on the state ideology of Pancasila or religion.

Of the parties based on Pancasila, including the Working Party, says Sukmajati, there is no essential difference between them.

"This new party is not offering a new ideology, vision, mission or program. What they are offering is an improvised program, just [hoping to pick up on the] mood or political climate at the moment", said Sukmajati.

Following reformasi – the reform process that began with the overthrow of Suharto – another political party backed by the Suharto family that once participated in the elections was the Concern for the Nation Functional Party (PKPB), namely in 2004 and 2009.

The PKPB won two seats in the House of Representatives (DPR) in 2004 but failed to get any representatives into the parliament in 2009. In 2004 the PKPB openly backed Suharto's oldest daughter Siti Hardijanti Rukmana alias Mbak Tutut as president.

This plan however failed because the PKPB was unable to reach the parliamentary threshold to nominate a presidential candidate.

The two other parties established by the Cendana family were the Functional Republic Party (Partai Karya Republik, Pakar) and the National Republic Party (Partai Nasional Republik, Partai Nasrep). Neither party has ever taken part in an election.

According to Sukmajati, with the banyan tree logo and the all yellow colours, the Working Party is endeavoring to attract support from sympathisers in the Golkar Party – Suharto's former ruling party. Moreover, the Working Party's vision and mission are almost identical to that of Golkar.

"I suspect that they are trying to garner votes from Golkar supporters disappointed with the performance of the party's leadership. They hoping for a spillover of votes from Golkar voters", said Sukmajati.

'Still grey'

When the political parties drew lots for their electoral campaign numbers at the KPU offices in Jakarta last Sunday, Tommy was present representing the Working Party. When asked about how many votes they were targeting in the 2019 elections, Suharto's youngest son failed to give a clear answer.

"Later okay. My schedule's packed. Later. Essentially we will be serving the nation and the country", he said as quoted by Kompas.com.

In a discussion with BBC Indonesia, Tutty said that the party wants to nominate a presidential candidate – meaning that it must obtain at least 20 percent of the national vote.

"We must be able to nominate a presidential candidate. We must be able to take part (in the presidential election), no matter who the candidate is, because it's still a long way to go", he said.

According to Sukmajati, the voters being targeted by the Working Party are among those who experienced the Suharto regime. This grouping however will be quite small because the electorate in the 2019 elections will be dominated by youth voters.

"Their market isn't very big. What they can play on is the memories of people who directly experienced the New Order, not the youth vote", said Sukmajati.

Based on data from Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting, 55 percent of voters in the 2019 elections will be 17-38 years old. Meanwhile the total number of potential voters recorded by the Department of Home Affairs stands at 196.5 million.

"The 'piye, enak zamanku' narrative [which attempts to evoke memories of how much better it in Suharto's time] have gone viral but are yet to be confirmed electorally, and [parties relying on this sentiment] have been unable to pass the electoral threshold.

"If they only play up this narrative, yes well they will continue to fail. Except if they can convince the public that the programs of the past were good", said Sukmajati.

Aside from the Working Party, the three other new parties that will be participating the 2019 elections are the Indonesian Reform Movement Party (Partai Gerakan Perubahan Indonesia, Garuda), the United Indonesia Party (Partai Persatuan Indonesia, Perindo) and the Indonesian Solidarity Party (Partai Solidaritas Indonesia, PSI).

The Garuda Party is led by Ahmad Ridha Sabana, the president director of the commercial TV network TPI, owned by Suharto's daughter Siti Hardiyanti "Tutut" Rukmana.

Perindo meanwhile is headed up by media tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo, who is often referred to as Donald Trump's 'business partner in Indonesia'. The PSI is led by former television presenter Grace Natalie.

The Garuda Party has a membership of 693,191 people, the second largest after the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) which has 828,225 members.

Out of the 14 parties that will take part in the 2019 elections, Perindo has the fourth largest membership of 629,859 people. The PSI meanwhile has a registered membership of 332,172.


Photos of a smiling Suharto with the caption in Javanese "piye kabare? sih uenak dijamanku toh?" – "How are you, better in my time, wasn't it?" – have been going viral since the 2014 election and have appeared around the country on billboards and bumper stickers.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Seberapa kuat partai 'bernuansa Orde Baru' bertarung di Pemilu 2019?". Note that additional explanations have been added to this translation for readability.]

Source: http://www.bbc.com/indonesia/indonesia-43116035

Former president Suharto's son among new contenders for 2019

Channel News Asia - February 19, 2018

Chandni Vatvani, Jakarta – Indonesia's General Elections Commission (KPU) on Saturday (Feb 17) declared that 14 political parties will participate in next year's legislative and presidential elections, with the addition of four new contenders.

The 14 parties successfully passed the Commission's vetting process, with two other parties, the Crescent Star Party (PBB) and the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI) failing to meet the minimum requirement of a 75 per cent office representation in several provinces, and therefore unable to take part.

This is a landmark moment for the four new contenders: The Garuda Indonesia Movement Party (Garuda), the United Indonesia Party (Perindo), the Berkarya Party and the Indonesia Solidarity Party (PSI), who will be participating in a general election for the very first time.

The Working Party (Berkarya), established in 2016 and initiated by Tommy Suharto, the son of former President Suharto, is mostly comprised of former Golkar party members.

Golkar, was once led by the former President and is Indonesia's second-largest political party. It is also a member of President Joko Widodo's ruling coalition.

Former President Suharto's daughter also made an attempt at joining politics in the past. His oldest daughter, Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana who is popularly known as Tutut, formed the Concern for the Nation Functional Party (PKPB) in 2002 for the purpose of running for Presidency in 2004.

However, she failed to take part when her party performed poorly in the legislative election, securing just 2.1 per cent of the votes.

In 2012, three political parties, the National Republican Party which nominated Tommy Suharto, the Concern for the Nation Functional Party (PKPB), and the Republican Working Party formed by Suharto's grandson, Ari Sigit failed to pass the verification process by the General Election Commission.

This time around however, Tommy's Working Party (Berkarya) has officially passed the necessary requirements. Both party logos, Berkarya and Golkar also feature a banyan tree."

Tommy meanwhile, has been quoted by local media as saying that he wants the spirit of the "New Order Era" – the term coined for the era under Suharto's reign – to "re-emerge."

Perindo, was established by entrepreneur and founder of MNC Group, Hary Tanoeseodibjo in 2015. The tycoon and ethnic Chinese-Christian, whose businesses range from media to property, first waded into politics in 2011, joining the National Democrat Party (NasDem).

After souring relations with fellow media tycoon, Surya Paloh, Hary left Nasdem in 2013 to join the Hanura party. He served as running mate for presidential hopeful and current security minister Wiranto in 2014, only to resign prior to the elections in order to support Widodo and opposition Prabowo Subianto at the time.

In contrast the two other new parties, Garuda and the PSI, are both hoping to tap into the "youth" population. PSI, is also said to be the party with the highest number of female members, amounting to 66 per cent of its total membership.

The remaining ten parties that have qualified for the elections are: the National Mandate Party (PAN), the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) – the country's largest political party, and the party which leads the current government's coalition – the Democratic Party, the Gerindra Party, the Golkar Party, the Hanura Party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the National Awakening Party (PKB), the NasDem Party, and the United Development Party (PPP).

The PBB and the PKPI have until Feb 21 to submit an appeal.

Source: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/former-president-suharto-s-son-among-new-contenders-for-2019-9970584

PBB, PKPI ineligible for 2019 elections: KPU

Jakarta Post - February 17, 2018

Jakarta – The General Elections Commission (KPU) on Saturday declared the Crescent Star Party (PBB) and the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI) ineligible for the 2019 General Election.

At a plenary meeting on Saturday in Central Jakarta, the KPU announced that the PBB failed to fulfil the requirement to meet a minimum 75 percent of office representation in South Manokwari Regency, West Papua, while the PKPI failed to have offices that cover 75 percent of areas in West Java and Central Java.

Both parties said they would appeal against the decision to the Elections Supervisory Agency.

The PBB's General Secretary Afriansyah Noor cited religion as one of the biggest challenges the Muslim party had faced in predominantly Christian South Manokwari.

"We actually have eight representatives in a rural area in South Manokwari, but they failed to attend the regional verification assessment. That's why they were not identified by the regional KPU," he said.

Ashari Ali Agus, PKPI head of legislator empowerment, said he believed there was a misunderstanding between the party and the Commission. "We came here and were assured that there was nothing wrong. We are going to further investigate this matter," he said. (gis/swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/17/pbb-pkpi-ineligible-for-2019-elections-kpu.html

Four new parties to take part in 2019 elections

Jakarta Post - February 17, 2018

Jakarta – Four new contenders are set to stand in the 2019 general election after the General Elections Commission (KPU) declared on Saturday that 14 political parties had qualified for the ballot, up from 10 parties in 2014.

During a plenary meeting in Central Jakarta, KPU leaders announced the 14 political parties: the National Mandate Party (PAN), the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Democratic Party, the Gerindra Party, the Golkar Party, the Hanura Party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the National Awakening Party (PKB), the NasDem Party, the United Development Party (PPP), the Garuda Party, the United Indonesia Party (Perindo), the Berkarya Party and the Indonesia Solidarity Party (PSI).

The last four of the parties listed above will participate in a general election for the first time.

The KPU has assessed three aspects for the central level verification: the existence of core management at the central executive board, female representation within the party and the party's office building.

Following the KPU's announcement, PAN representatives were jubilant, shouting "We are ready for next year's election and ready to win!"

One of the newcomers, the PSI, was declared the party with the highest number of female members, amounting 66 percent of its total membership. "Fighting for women's interests is best done by female representatives," PSI deputy chair Isyana Bagoes Oka said. (gis/swd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/17/four-new-parties-to-take-part-in-2019-elections.html

Indonesia's sectarian tensions likely to worsen in election season

Voice of America - February 16, 2018

Krithika Varagur, Jakarta – A sword attack at a Catholic church by a Muslim assailant this week in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta injured four people during Sunday Mass, a disturbing sectarian episode in a country that has typically seen communities of various faiths live together without incident.

This wasn't the first such attack on a church in Indonesia; there were two other knife attacks in the cities of Medan and Samarinda in 2016.

"The attack on the church in Yogyakarta was clearly an extremist act of violence," said Bonar Tigor Naipospos of the Setara Institute, a religious affairs think tank in Jakarta.

"Although the police have not yet completed the investigation and have been dubbing it a 'lone wolf' attack, this incident it indicates that violent extremist acts in Indonesia don't just target police officers, who are considered the agents of a kafir [nonbeliever] government, but also religious minority groups." Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim-majority country and is about 87 percent Muslim.

Extremist networks

Knife attacks are becoming a copycat phenomenon because it is the "easiest way" to inflict violence in Indonesia, which has fairly strict gun control laws, said Nava Nuraniyah, a researcher with the Institute for Policy Analysis and Conflict (IPAC).

Indonesia's national police chief, Tito Karnavian, has indicated that the assailant may have links to extremist cells in Poso, a region in Central Sulawesi that harbored deadly conflict between Christians and Muslims in the 1990s and has more recently seen militants from ISIS-linked terror groups.

The last major church attack, in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, was also initially described as a "lone wolf" incident but was later revealed to have links with a regional ISIS affiliate called Jamaah Anshorud Daulah (JAD).

Suliono is being questioned in Jakarta by Indonesia's elite counterterrorism force, Densus-88. Police spokesman Setyo Wasisto told Kompas he seems to have self-radicalized on the internet and has tried "two or three times" in the past to go to Syria and join the radical Islamic State group.

Domestic terrorist activity has spiked in Indonesia, particularly on Java island (where Yogyakarta and Jakarta are both located) after 2016, when it became difficult for ISIS-sympathizers to travel to the Middle East and calls were issued to "wage war at home," according to a recent report from IPAC.

The report claims that the extremism of ISIS-sympathizers "has not disappeared, but rather has been temporarily pushed underground where it will stay dormant until the next leader or movement or big idea comes along to stir up sleeping cells."

Suliono also reportedly sold mobile phones in order to buy the sword used in the attack and researched churches near the mosque where he was staying in Yogyakarta, indicating a degree of premeditation.

Sectarian tensions

The attack has been widely condemned in Indonesia, where actual violence against religious minorities remains low despite rising intolerance. The Sultan of Yogyakarta, who is also the region's governor, condemned the incident and called on police to solve the case.

Christians account for about 9 percent of Indonesia's 260 million people, and are free to worship according to the constitution, which is not secular but protects six different religions. There has been a steady drip of anti-Christian sentiments in recent years, peaking in 2017 when Jakarta's Christian governor was ousted and imprisoned because of an extensive campaign from Islamic fundamentalists. It's not always dramatic: sometimes Christmas services are disrupted, or Muslim small business turn down Christian customers.

Whatever its severity, religious intolerance is likely to escalate as Indonesia heads into the long 2019 presidential election season, during which religious identity will be a presiding concern.

Source: https://www.voanews.com/a/sword-attack-indonesian-church-sectarian-tensions/4257313.html

Expert: Jokowi-Prabowo pair will constitute great power

Tempo - February 15, 2018

Chitra Paramaesti, Jakarta – Pollster Indo Barometer conducted a survey on the 2019 presidential election scenario. The survey that involved about 1,200 respondents shows that President Joko Widodo or Jokowi and Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party chairman Prabowo Subianto's remain favorite candidates.

Indo Barometer executive director Muhammad Qodari said there is a possibility of Jokowi pairing with Prabowo in the upcoming presidential election.

In the survey, Jokowi's electability stands at 48.8 percent, while Prabowo's was at 28.9 percent. Both names have a high percentage in all sectors.

In the scenario of Jokowi-Prabowo, the pair gain 48 percent of the votes, with Budi Gunawan and Anies Baswedan as their rivals. The support for the Budi-Anis pair only accounts for 3.9 percent of the total votes given by the respondents.

With Anies and Gatot Nurmantyo as their rivals, the Jokowi-Prabowo pair gains 49.7 percent of the votes, while the Anies-Gatot pair is only supported by 4.2 percent of the respondents.

The Jokowi-Prabowo pair gets 50.5 percent of the votes against Jusuf Kalla and Anies, who are expected to get 3.2 percent of the total votes.

Based on the results, Qodari suggested that Jokowi and Prabowo would constitute great power should they run together in the upcoming election.

The survey was conducted across the provinces on January 23-30. The survey involves 1,200 respondes with a margin of error of 2.83 percent at a confidence level of 95 percent.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/15/055915772/Expert-Jokowi–-Prabowo-Pair-Will-Constitute-Great-Power

Jokowi calls for unity as local election campaign kicks off

Jakarta Post - February 15, 2018

Andi Hajramurni, Makassar – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has called for Indonesians to maintain unity and harmony as the local election campaign period begun today.

"Let's maintain our unity, harmony and solidarity. Don't let elections of governors, regents, mayors and president divide us," Jokowi said during a visit to Gowa, South Sulawesi, on Thursday.

Jokowi added that Indonesia had been blessed with diversity in religions and ethnicities. "Diversity is God's blessing for our country. Let's maintain that together," he said.

Today marked the first day of the campaign period for the simultaneous local elections. On June 27, 171 areas including 17 provinces, 39 cities and 115 regencies, will see eligible voters casting the ballot to choose their leaders.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/15/jokowi-calls-for-unity-as-local-election-campaign-kicks-off.html

Campaigning kicks off in Indonesia's crucial local elections

Nikkei Asian Review - February 15, 2018

Jun Suzuki and Erwida Maulia, Jakarta – Campaigning kicked off in Indonesia on Thursday for local elections that will have a significant bearing on President Joko Widodo's bid to retain the presidency next year.

Gubernatorial elections will be held in half of Indonesia's 34 provinces on June 27, as will polls in 39 cities and 115 regencies.

Some parties will only select their candidate for the April 2019 presidential race once they have seen how they fare at local level this year.

The polls will also be a chance for parties to map out a strategy and consider coalition partners for the national elections, according to Djayadi Hanan, executive director of pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting.

As a result, June's local elections are likely to see the kind of full-scale campaigns that would be run at national level.

Within the ruling coalition, the Golkar party has already come out and backed Widodo for the presidency. His own Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, headed by former President Megawati Sukarnoputri, on the other hand, has yet to officially pick a candidate.

Prabowo Subianto is expected to lead the opposition group. The former son-in-law of the late ex-President Suharto ran Widodo close in the last presidential election in 2014.

The two are currently seen as the only candidates who can realistically win enough support in parliament to have a shot at the presidency. Under Indonesia's political system, presidential candidates require support from groups that command a minimum of 20% of parliamentary seats.

More importantly, the governors who emerge victorious in June will be pivotal in mobilizing votes in the presidential race. In 2014, the governors of West Java, West Sumatra and West Nusa Tenggara managed to sway the electorate in favor of Subianto, Hanan pointed out.

Of particular interest will be the gubernatorial elections in the country's four most populous provinces of West Java, East Java, Central Java and North Sumatra.

A number of candidates launched their campaigns at religious centers. West Java hopeful Ridwan Kamil visited an Islamic boarding school in Purwakarta regency on Thursday.

"I come here to listen to the hopes of students and the ulemas, as well as to ask for the ulemas to pray for me in my nomination," said Kamil, the current mayor of the provincial capital Bandung.

Saifullah Yusuf, the incumbent deputy governor of East Java now running for the top job, is scheduled to visit clerics in the province, a stronghold of the Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Muslim organization.

Yusuf himself is an NU member. His rival, former Minister of Social Affairs Khofifah Indar Parawansa, is a prominent figure in the organization's women's wing.

Parawansa began her campaign with a visit to a fishing village, where she promised to empower 4,000 working women by improving family welfare.

Having carried out extensive reforms and anti-corruption campaigns as mayor of the ancient city of Surakarta and later governor of Jakarta, Widodo was elected president by voters who saw him as a hands-on leader who gets things done.

With the public sick and tired of widespread corruption, similarly no-nonsense local government chiefs have gained extensive support.

A serious concern at the coming elections is the threat of renewed religious and ethnic discord.

The 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, in which Anies Baswedan defeated the incumbent ethnic-Chinese Christian Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was accompanied by large anti-Basuki rallies that had been organized by conservative Islamic groups.

"Religion was the key factor that explains the victory of Anies and Sandi," said Burhanuddin Muhtadi of pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia, referring to Anies' running mate Sandiaga Uno.

"Given the success of identity politics, it would be unsurprising if candidates use the strategy as a winning template in other regions."

There are concerns that the growing influence of hardline Muslims could affect foreign companies' investment decisions. Southeast Asia's largest economy has seen considerable advances in democratization since the collapse of the long-running Suharto dictatorship in 1998.

In particular, national and local elections in recent years have strengthened democratic institutions and political stability. The resulting economic benefits, such as increased foreign investment, have seen Indonesia join the Group of 20 leading economies.

But the country still has a long way to go in terms of transparent campaign spending. Parties use colossal sums during election season, often staging events like pop concerts to win over voters.

One influential person gave up running for governor in East Java, revealing it would cost in the region of 40 billion rupiah ($2.93 million) to run a successful campaign.

Meanwhile, the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, already revealed a case allegedly involving a candidate. "The KPK deeply regrets that bribery of regional leaders keeps happening. The KPK found in one of our raids in 2018... that a bribe had been used to fund an incumbent's re-election campaign," the anti-graft body said in a statement on Thursday.

"Everything is as usual in Indonesia as elections are held almost every year," said Widodo in an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review in December last year. Now that campaigning is underway, the government will have to mitigate any adverse effects they have on the country's economy.

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Campaigning-kicks-off-in-Indonesia-s-crucial-local-elections

Fake news & hate speech

Teacher arrested for sharing fake news about communists coming to

Coconuts Jakarta - February 21, 2018

While Indonesia is often criticized for its draconian online censorship laws, the country also has a big problem with fake news and hoaxes being spread online (like much of the world). Lately, the government have stepped up their attempts to crack down on fake news by going after not only the people who create the hoaxes but even the people who simply share them.

Yesterday morning, officers from the National Police Directorate of Cyber Crimes arrested a 48-year-old high school teacher in Banten, West Java, named Yayi Haidar Aqua. Police say that Yayi, using a Facebook account with the name Ragil Prayoga Hartajo spread a fake news story titled, "15 million members of the PKI (the long-defunct Indonesian Communist Party) armed to slaughter ulema (Muslim scholars)".

"[Yayi] was arrested in relation to his posting on his Facebook account which contained racial and ethnic discrimination and/or hate speech and hostility towards certain individuals and/or community groups based on SARA (an acronym used to describe attacks based on race, religion or ethnicity)," Police Brigadier General Fadil Imran, director of the cyber crime unit, in a written statement released today and picked up by CNN Indonesia.

According to Fadil, the suspect has been charged with the 2008 Law on the Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination as well as Article 28 of the Law on Electronic Transactions and Information (UU ITE) and faces up to five years in prison for sharing the hoax.

The cyber crime czar's statement also included a message to the public asking citizens to learn from this case and be careful while using social media, advising them to "Think before click."

In recent weeks and months, the cyber crime directorate have also gone after other people for sharing hoaxes, including a 23-year-old who was arrested for sharing fake news about a homeless man who was beaten up for being a suspected communist, as well as a 37-year-old housewife who shared a hoax about President Joko Widodo's political party, PDI-P, including an edited photo of a billboard saying PDI-P didn't care about Muslims.

Although the hoaxes in question might indeed be dangerous, many rights activist still say the government is going too far in arresting people for simply sharing fake news online. But it is clear that Jokowi's administration sees arresting sharers as an important deterrent to the spread of hoaxes. The revised criminal code currently under discussion in the House of Representatives also includes a law that would potentially make sharing a fake news item a crime that could be punished by up to six years in prison, which critics say would be a huge threat to free speech.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/high-school-teacher-arrested-sharing-fake-news-communists-coming-kill-islamic-scholars/

Can Indonesia's new cybercrime unit win its war on fake news?

South China Morning Post - February 18, 2018

Resty Woro Yuniar – Indonesia has unleashed a new cyber and encryption agency as a weapon in its long war on cybercrime, online radicalism and fake news, but the Southeast Asian nation still needs to define the office's scope of authority to prevent bureaucratic overlap and to shake off privacy concerns.

A plan to establish the National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN) was put forth four years ago when President Joko Widodo took office, but the agency only started work in January after Major General Djoko Setiadi was installed as its leader.

The agency faces myriad tasks, such as squeezing terrorist cells' online communications, curbing radical content and hoaxes on the internet, securing digital payments and e-commerce systems, tracking cybercrimes and consolidating the nation's vast cybersecurity elements. BSSN itself is a revitalisation of the country's existing national encryption agency, and it reports directly to Widodo.

"We have to work together to address cyber threats," Setiadi said during a panel discussion held by the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club. "BSSN will coordinate with all of the [existing] governmental cyber units, including those in the police and armed forces."

The agency currently has no operating budget, but it has requested 3 trillion Indonesian rupiah (US$217 million) from parliament, which would be used to hire hundreds of information technology experts. The lack of an operating budget creates concerns that cyber units working under the direction of BSSN will be forced to stop temporarily, including the crucial Indonesia Security Incident Response Team on Internet Infrastructure.

"We need [the incident response team] to come back to life, it's a very important response unit. When the WannaCry virus was first detected in Indonesia they quickly notified us and gave us directions on how to handle it," said Sylvia Sumarlin, chairman of Jakarta-based Indonesian Information Technology Federation, referring to last year's global ransomware attack that crippled England's National Health Service and two large hospitals in Indonesia, among others.

Another concern is that the agency's scope of authority is too broad, tasked with coordinating all the existing cyber response teams when it is unclear whether it has the authority to enforce the law.

"What we want to know now is the [agency's] authority," Sumarlin said. "If they do have the authority to enforce the law then they need a law enforcement unit, like the National Security Agency in the United States, but now we don't know whether to report an attack to the police's cybercrime unit or to the ministry of communications and information."

Setiadi said that among Indonesia's biggest cyber threats this year were online hoaxes on social media, which are predicted to proliferate during the election season.

"Indonesia will hold simultaneous local elections this year, then a presidential election next year, and BSSN has the responsibility to maintain political stability and communications security [during those periods] so we have to fend off fake news," Setiadi said.

Setiadi didn't respond to This Week in Asia's question about whether the agency would resort to monitoring private chats on messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Line, where fake news could easily be distributed.

Like the rest of the world, Indonesia has grappled with the spread of fake news. It has played a major role in inflaming political, racial and religious tensions in the Muslim-majority nation. Half of Indonesia's 250 million people are connected to the internet and have at least one account on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Indonesians also spend an average three hours per day on messaging apps, which have been used by Islamic militants to spread their ideology and raise donations.

Last year's gubernatorial election in Jakarta highlights the struggle to contain doctored news in Indonesia.

Incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, was imprisoned for two years on a blasphemy charge after a video purportedly showing him insulting the Koran during a speech went viral. The video prompted a massive protest by hardline Islamic groups that demanded Purnama be jailed.

Widodo has also fallen victim to fake news assaults, including those that claimed he was of Chinese-Christian descent and a member of the now-defunct Communist Party during his 2014 presidential campaign.

In August, Indonesian police detained three people who allegedly operated a business to create and distribute politically charged phoney stories, in what could be the country's biggest fake news-related bust to date. The group, called Saracen, distributed false content through hundreds of thousands of social media accounts, mainly on Facebook, the police said.

Indonesian lawmakers have proposed a revision to the country's outdated criminal code to include provisions about fake news, but critics say the law is too broad and would be oppressive if passed. In the draft, any person who distributes fake news resulting in upheaval would be handed a maximum of six years in prison, although definitions of what constitutes "upheaval" and "fake" remain vague.

"The high level of state control of online content and activity has continued to increase, without a commensurate increase in Indonesia's transparency on cyber issues," Australian Strategic Policy Institute's International Cyber Policy Centre said in its latest cyber maturity research, which tracks nations' approaches to cyber policy and cybersecurity. "A more coordinated, transparent and contestable approach to cyber issues would improve Indonesia's cyber maturity."

Fake news is also causing headaches among other Southeast Asian regulators. Malaysia's de facto law minister, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, told local media that Kuala Lumpur may introduce a new regulation to tackle fake news. In Singapore, a new committee will be established by parliament to study and respond the growing trend of online falsehoods.

Among Southeast Asian countries, Indonesia's cyber maturity is ranked fourth behind Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei, according to ASPI research. Indonesia, however, fares better than Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia.

"We observed attacks by state-sponsored cyber espionage operations against organisations in Indonesia last year. China, for one, continues to demonstrate an interest in Indonesian affairs through its attacks, and we have observed Chinese groups launching attacks during this period," said Bryce Boland, Asia-Pacific chief technology officer at California-based cybersecurity company FireEye. "China is one of the most active actors in Asia, but we've even seen Vietnam direct attacks on its neighbours and on foreign multinationals."

Financially motivated cybercrimes are also rampant in Indonesia, with actors using ransomware, bank fraud and spear phishing attacks on the financial services industry, Boland said. Last year, Indonesia arrested 153 Chinese nationals who operated an online fraud syndicate in the country. The group raked in US$450 million in 2017.

"We sometimes see attackers resort to using 'watering hole' attacks, where they use a website of interest to their targets to profile victims and then launch secondary attacks based on what they learn," Boland said.

Critics say that until the cyber agency's role is clearly defined and gets funding, Indonesia's efforts are likely to be hobbled by bureaucratic overlap and a lack of national governance on its road map for cybersecurity. That road map, analysts say, is an urgent priority that can't rely on foreign cybersecurity standards alone.

"More effective coordination and governance frameworks, such as a national-level cyber strategy, would prove beneficial for Indonesia's cyber maturity," ASPI research said. "Indonesia continues to be a leading source of malware in Southeast Asia, which suggests that Indonesia's law enforcement efforts against cybercrime could be improved."

Source: http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/geopolitics/article/2132683/can-indonesias-new-cybercrime-unit-win-its-war-fake-news

Surveys & opinion polls

Pollster: Jokowi's position yet safe in 2019 election

Tempo - February 19, 2018

Chitra Paramaesti, Jakarta – Poltracking Indonesia executive director Hanta Yuda suggested that the public's high satisfaction level towards President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Jusuf Kalla would not guarantee their position in the upcoming 2019 Presidential Election.

"This means that there are people who are not satisfied with Jokowi's performance," said Hanta on Sunday, February 18, as a response to Jokowi's 45-57 percent electability.

Hanta further explained that 60 percent of respondents are satisfied with the health and education sector under Jokowi's administration.

"The right number is 50 percent in the economy and law enforcement sector, this can be an added value for President Jokowi to improve his electability," said Hanta.

The average level of satisfaction is a challenge that Jokowi must face. He suggested Jokowi intensify his communication with his supporters.

Poltracking Indonesia also conducted a simulation of five presidential candidates using a semi-open questionnaire. The simulation resulted in 55.9 percent of respondents choosing Jokowi over the 29.9 percent who preferred to vote for Prabowo. Following them were Anies Baswedan (2.8 percent) and Gatot Nurmantyo (2.3 percent).

Poltracking Indonesia's poll on President Jokowi and other candidates were conducted in 34 provinces involving 1,200 respondents.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/19/055915850/Pollster-Jokowis-Position-yet-Safe-in-2019-Election

Pollster measures chances of Jokowi-Sri Mulyani in 2019 election

Tempo - February 17, 2018

Riani Sanusi Putri, Jakarta – Pollster Indo Barometer revealed that 36.8 percent of respondents react positively towards the pairing of Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Sri Mulyani, compared to the alternative option of Prabowo-Anies that was voted by 21.9 percent of respondents.

The poll involved 1,200 respondents who were surveyed in 34 provinces between January 23-30, 2018. "This survey revealed an urgent problem in Indonesia that the public considers important," said Indo Barometer Executive Director Muhammad Qodari on February 15.

According to Qodari, the poll was conducted to measure the dynamics of the 2019 presidential election. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani was also eminent as a presidential candidate. She is popular among the Indonesian public, which is shown by the 65 percent of respondents who chose her.

There was 65 percent of respondents who favored Sri Mulyani as a Vice President in the upcoming election. "This poll was to measure the candidate's constellation, the public's judgment towards a candidate in their determining aspect that has caught the people's attention," said Qodari.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/16/055915782/Pollster-Measures-Chances-of-Jokowi-Sri-Mulyani-in-2019-Election

Internet & social media

New Indonesia web system blocks more than 70,000 'negative' sites

Reuters - February 19, 2018

Ed Davies, Cindy Silviana, Jakarta – Indonesia has blocked more than 70,000 websites displaying "negative" content such as pornography or extremist ideology in the first month of using a new system to help purge the internet of harmful material, the communications minister told Reuters.

The world's most populous Muslim-majority country has stepped up efforts to control online content after a rise in hoax stories and hate speech, and amid controversial anti-pornography laws pushed by Islamic parties.

The so-called "crawling system" developed by a unit of state-run Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk (Telkom) was launched in January, using 44 servers to search internet content and issue alerts when inappropriate material is found.

"We just put some sort of key words there, most of them are pornographic," said Minister of Communication and Information Rudiantara, who uses one name. "Because after 2017 we have blocked almost 800,000 sites and more than 90 percent (of these were) pornographic," said the minister.

According to ministry data, the system, installed at a cost of around $15 million (10.68 million pounds), helped block 72,407 pornography sites in January. The ministry also acts to get content removed from social media platforms if there are complaints from the public.

Indonesia threatened last year to block Facebook Inc's WhatsApp Messenger, which is widely used in the country, unless obscene Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) images provided by third parties were removed.

Authorities also blocked access to some channels on encrypted messaging service Telegram last year, saying it had several forums that were "full of radical and terrorist propaganda".

Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc, removed 73 LGBT-related apps from its Play Store last month, including the world's largest gay dating app, Blued, on a request by Indonesia, a communications ministry official said.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community has faced a crackdown in Indonesia and the official said the contents of the apps contradicted cultural norms and contained pornographic content. Google declined to comment.

Rudiantara said the relationship with social media companies and tech giants was improving and put some disagreements down to differences over what, for example, constitutes pornography.

"To us probably it is pornographic, because we refer to the laws of pornography in Indonesia. But for other parts of the world, they say it is not pornography, it is art," he said.

"But now it's getting better, particularly when we consider content associated with radicalism, terrorism... On that content, I think they respond very fast," he said.

The minister also said that nine tech companies, including Google and Facebook, had recently pledged to help authorities fight fake news and hate speech during upcoming elections in the world's third-biggest democracy.

[Additional reporting by Tabita Diela; Editing by Nick Macfie.]

Source: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-indonesia-communications/new-indonesia-web-system-blocks-more-than-70000-negative-sites-idUKKCN1G30K4?rpc=401&

Environment & natural disasters

Borneo orangutans dying off as forests are lost: study

Agence France Presse - February 16, 2018

Miami – The population of orangutans in Borneo has plummeted by more than half since 1999 – nearly 150,000 of the apes – largely due to chopping down forests for logging, paper, palm oil and mining, researchers said Thursday.

Illegal hunting of the critically endangered apes is also a leading factor in their disappearance, said the study published in the journal Current Biology.

"Our findings are alarming," said the report, which estimated that 148,500 orangutans vanished on the southeast Asian island between 1999 and 2015. "Natural resources are being exploited at unsustainably high rates across tropical ecosystems, including Borneo."

The deaths represent a 53 percent decline in the population, lead author Maria Voigt of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany told AFP. "We estimate there are between 70,000 and 100,000 left," she said.

Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), along with their cousins, the Sumatran and Tapanuli orangutans, are all considered critically endangered species.

For the study, Voigt and colleagues compiled field studies from 1999-2015. They estimated the overall size of the island's population from the number of orangutan tree nests observed in Borneo – a total of 36,555 nests.

By analyzing separate populations of orangutans, they found that only about half (38 of 64) of these groups contained more than 100 individuals, enough to maintain a viable population.

Maps of land-cover change over time suggest that the most dramatic cause of the decline is land clearance. However, a much larger number of orangutans were lost in forests that were only selectively logged.

"The decline in population density was most severe in areas that were deforested or transformed for industrial agriculture, as orangutans struggle to live outside forest areas," said Voigt.

"Worryingly, however, the largest number of orangutans were lost from areas that remained forested during the study period. This implies a large role of killing."

At the current pace, researchers predict that 45,000 more of the of the slow-breeding ginger-haired apes will be lost over the next 35 years.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/16/borneo-orangutans-dying-off-as-forests-are-lost-study.html

Health & education

Major online media outlets publishes article on positive effects of

Coconuts Jakarta - February 15, 2018

Indonesia has the unfortunate distinction of having one of the highest smoking rates in the world, especially among men and underage children and an estimated rate of over 200,000 deaths per year due to tobacco-related diseases.

And it's still rising. This is due in large part to a lack of government regulations on smoking advertisements – most Indonesians are bombarded with tobacco ads from every angle, even (especially) children around schools.

If you think things might any different online, check out this article that was shared through the Facebook page of Tribunnews.com, which has 8.5 million followers and belongs to one one of the biggest online media outlets in Indonesia (Tribunnews.com is the #8th most visited website within Indonesia according to Similarweb).

The headline translates to: "Not Just Bad Effects, It Turns Out Smoking Also Has Some Positive Sides"

Now when you visit the link you'll notice it takes you to the website blog.tribunjualbeli.com, not tribunnews.com. While that site is filled with articles, many of them conspicuously advertorial in nature, the name suggests it is not a real news site but a blog and so perhaps it could be argued that it shouldn't be held to the same standards as a news site like Tribunnews.com.

Except, of course, that it was shared via Tribunnews.com's official Facebook page (the one with 8.5 million followers). And it is included in the news/health content category.

At any rate, what does the article argue are the positive effects of smoking? Although it doesn't link to any sources, it says smoking lowers the risk of knee joint surgery (one reason – smokers are less likely to run), Parkinson's disease, obesity, the risk of death after a heart attack, and improves the effectiveness of the heart medicine clopidogrel. Some but not all of those points cite studies that prove them (again with no links but they do seem to have cited real studies).

While some of the article's specifics may be true, it never makes the point of saying that overall the negative health impacts of smoking far, far, far outweigh any potential benefits. Read with an uncritical eye, there is no doubt an article like this could only make a reader think smoking is less dangerous than it actually is.

Is it unethical? Well, if you consider publishing and promoting information that is dangerous to the public (like posting bomb-making instructions) unethical, then yes.

Media companies in Indonesia can and do get into trouble for ethical breaches, but the chance that anybody else will call Tribun on this are small. After all, they don't have the most sterling reputation for journalism anyways and they've insulated themselves by posting it to a sister "blog" site (as some other media outlets here do too, generally to publish articles that adhere to few, if any, journalistic standards).

And, on top of that, arguing the benefits of smoking is seen as legitimate discourse in Indonesia still. Politicians have long used arguments about tobacco's supposed medicinal qualities, in tandem with arguments about how regulations will hurt poor tobacco farmers, to reject even moderate regulations on the lucrative industry.

Western countries like the United States struggled for decades to dismantle the power of their tobacco industries, who also used phony arguments about the health benefits of their products to stave off regulations. But those arguments, and the many multi-million dollar lawsuits they set off, have been settled.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/one-indonesias-biggest-online-media-outlets-publishes-article-positive-effects-smoking/

Tertiary education & campus life

University deploys fully armed troops to stop students from meeting

Catatan Kaki - February 15, 2018

Petunia – Students planning to convey concerns their about the commercialisation of education to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the Hasanuddin University (Unhas) in the South Sulawesi provincial capital of Makassar have been blocked by fully armed soldiers and paramilitary police.

The students began gathering at around 3pm on Thursday February 15 at the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (MIPA). Carrying banners reading "Stop the Commercialisation of Education", they then set off in the direction of the Baruga Pettarani, where Widodo was attending the opening of the Indonesian Rectors Forum (FRI).

Before they could get very far however, they were blocked by fully armed soldiers near the MIPA corridor. Some distance away scores of paramilitary Mobile Police (Brimob) armed with clubs were also gathered at the Unhas central library.

The soldiers negotiated with the protesters urging them not to go any further. Because they were unable to obtain permission to proceed, the students asked to be allowed to hold prayers near the MIPA corridor as a symbol of their opposition to the commercialisation of education. This request was also rejected.

A short time later deputy rector Abdul Rasyid arrived to meet with the protesters. "There's no need for [you to be part of] the discussions, no need okay, please disperse, there will be no discussion because there is no need for discussion, you have your own forums, we don't attend those, if you want to attend a rectors forum you have to be a rector first, please have a little respect, we're hosing a state symbol, okay, there'll be no discussion", insisted Rasyid. Cido as Rasyid is known, then left the area.

As of around 5pm the protesters were still gathered in the area of the MIPA corridor because they had still not obtained permission from the soldiers. One of the demonstrators meanwhile said that the aim of the action was to convey the concerns of Makassar students to President Widodo.

"The aim of this gathering was to present our concerns about the current state of education in Indonesia which is not okay, it has already been discussed by all the [student] institutions and all the campuses in Makassar", they explained.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Mahasiswa dihadang Tentara Bersenjata Lengkap".]

Source: http://www.catatankaki.info/mahasiswa-dihadang-tentara-bersenjata-lengkap/

LBGT & same-sex marriage

Indonesian city sets up an anti-LGBTI taskforce to 'stop the spread

Gay Star News - February 19, 2018

Shannon Power – Another Indonesian city has set up a taskforce to monitor and police LGBTI people.

Depok – a satellite city about 24 miles (40 kilometers) south of the capital Jakarta – followed in the footsteps of provincial police in West Java to set up the taskforce. Depok Deputy Mayor Muhammad Idris made the announcement today.

The taskforce will be made up of social workers, police and civil society groups. They'll be tasked with 'anticipating the spread of LGBTI' and to 'coach' LGBTI people.

'We have created an integrated team to handle LGBT, we will collaborate with police and mass organizations to coach LGBT,' Idris told media.

Even though homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, the LGBTI community has faced an unprecedented crackdown on its very existence.

Idris told media that the taskforce won't criminalize LGBT people, but being LGBT was immoral according to Islam. 'Religion has agreed that LGBT acts are forbidden, so legally we will overcome this problem so that it will not spread,' he said.

The local government's decision comes only a few weeks after it hosted a seminar about how to prevent LGBTI people from living in the sub-district of Sawangan.

Last month in Depok two men were arrested for allegedly making a sex video together and then uploading it online. If convicted, they face up to 12 years in jail.

Criminalizing homosexuality

Proposed amendments to the Indonesian penal code (KUHP) that would criminalize homosexual acts and all sex outside of marriage have been postponed. The House of Representatives is likely to resume debate about the proposed revisions in about two to three months.

But it is likely that the laws to criminalize homosexuality will pass as most major political parties said they would to vote in favor of them. Many political parties are jostling to look strong on morality before the 2019 elections.

A petition protesting the proposed changes has already gained nearly 75,000 sigantures.

Source: https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/indonesian-city-sets-anti-lgbti-taskforce-stop-spread-lgbti/

Depok forms anti-LGBT taskforce to tackle spread of LGBT among

Kompas.com - February 19, 2018

Iwan Supriyatna, Depok – The Depok municipal government is working to anticipate the spread of socially deviant lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) behaviour among youth in the Depok city area.

The mayor of the Jakarta satellite city, Muhammad Idris, said that they have formed a special team made up of the Depok Municipal Social Office and police.

"We have formed an integrated team to handle the LGBT [problem]. We are collaborating with the police and ormas [social or mass organisations] to supervise and control LGBT" said Idris at the Depok government offices on Monday February 19.

This endeavor is being carried out because the LBGT movement is deviating from religious norms. "In religious terms it has been agreed that LGBT is a proscribed act, but in terms of legislation we will overcome it before problems emerge", he said.

In addition to this, the Depok government will ask for assistance from 200 ormas members and religious youth from 63 sub-districts across Depok.

"Through this endeavour we will prevent [the spread of] LGBT because many people have phoned in to the Social Office asking for assistance in dealing with this LGBT sickness, including campaigns to reject LGBT which will also be carried out by the integrated team", said Idris.

Earlier, a gay couple committed a socially deviant act at a fitness centre in the Pancoran Mas area of Depok. They recorded a video of their intimate relationship then spread it on social media.

Following the circulation of the video, police arrested RS and M on Saturday January 20 at 11pm in the evening. Following the arrest, police seized material evidence in the form of a white T-shirt and three mobile phones which were used by the perpetrators.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Bina Kelompok LGBT, Pemkot Depok Bentuk Tim Terpadu".]

Source: http://megapolitan.kompas.com/read/2018/02/19/13140221/bina-kelompok-lgbt-pemkot-depok-bentuk-tim-terpadu

Terrorism & religious extremism

KontraS demands police to investigate death of terrorist suspect

Tempo - February 17, 2018

Riani Sanusi Putri, SSN, Jakarta – Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) demanded police to investigate the cause of death of terrorist suspect Muhammad Jefri in Indramayu. This is deemed important since the information of his death is unclear and violation of law is indicated in the incident.

"The case of Muhamad Jefri or MJ is under the authority of National Police's counterterrorism squad Densus 88," KontraS coordinator Yati Indriyani said on Friday, Feb. 16.

Jefri was arrested by Densus 88 since he was allegedly involved in a number of terrorism cases. However, his family mentioned that his arrest was not under an official warrant. Jefri was in good health when the police took him in.

The news of his death was delivered by the police on February 15, 2018, yet he died a week prior. Yati stated that this kind of treatment on terrorist suspects will spark controversy since there was no transparency and they neglected human rights (HAM) parameters and the law.

"It is concerned that this will trigger, create or flourish other links of terrorist acts," Yati said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/17/055915802/KontraS-Demands-Police-to-Investigate-Death-of-Terrorist-Suspect

Vigilante & para-military groups

Rizieq Shihab homecoming fiasco sparks conflict among 212 members

Tempo - February 21, 2018

Dewi Nurita, Jakarta – The 212 Alumni spokesman Aminuddin demanded the 212 alumni brotherhood (PA 212) to issue an official apology for spreading misleading information regarding the homecoming of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab.

"The 212 alumni brotherhood that had formed a committee to welcome the Imam (Rizieq) home must take responsibility professionally by holding a press conference," said Aminuddin on Wednesday, February 21.

The 212 Alumnus consist of members from Muslim groups and the general public that participated in the massive rally held on December 12, 2016, to protest against former Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok).

According to Aminuddin, the PA 212 must provide an explanation on why Rizieq Shihab canceled his homecoming and apologize to the people especially those who came to the airport to welcome Rizieq Shihab.

Furthermore, he explained that the PA 212 must not use Rizieq Shihab as an object of speculation that can ruin their follower's trust. "The PA 212 must also transparently report the use of funds collected from fellow members," he explained.

The PA 212 already denied the news of Rizieq Shihab's return to Indonesia ever since the rumor broke out. Many followers considered the denial as a misleading opinion. However, the PA 212 continued to form a committee to welcome the FPI leader at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport.

Another conflict sparked within the group is the split opinion about the group naming as the 212 alumni presidium or 212 alumni brotherhood. Some allegations from within the group suggest that either side was actually illegally formed.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/21/055915930/Rizieq-Shihab-Homecoming-Fiasco-Sparks-Conflict-among-212-Members

FPI faithful wait for Rizieq airport, unsurprisingly another no

Coconuts Jakarta - February 21, 2018

There had been talk that the fugitive founder of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Rizieq Shihab, would be flying back to Indonesia from his hiding place of Saudi Arabia this morning since photos supposedly showing his return ticket to Jakarta were posted online.

But police and other government officials quashed those rumors yesterday, saying that the firebrand cleric and pornography suspect had already cancelled his supposed homecoming trip.

Despite that, plus all the numerous instances when Rizieq or his lawyers said the hardline leader would return to Indonesia soon before he decided not to, hundred of his most die-hard followers reportedly came out this morning to eagerly await his glorious homecoming. They were, of course, severely disappointed.

Government officials had already confidently stated that Rizieq was not flying back to Indonesia today and thus they had decided not to prepare a law enforcement team to immediately arrest him upon his arrival or secure the airport from his followers, (who had previously promised to bring "millions" out to Soekarno-Hatta to defend him from being unjustly apprehended).

But officials from FPI and Persaudaraan Alumni 212 (another hardliner Islamist group made up of "alumni" of the December 2, 2016 protest against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama) continued the charade of saying that Rizieq might yet return and organizing a "welcoming committee" for the FPI leader, including a car with the custom license plate B 1 FPI. So police were still forced to deploy thousands of personnel to the airport just in case they caused an incident.

It was Rizieq himself, speaking via speaker phone at Baitul Amal Mosque in Cengkareng (located near the airport) where his followers had amassed there this morning, who confirmed what the rest of us already knew – that he wasn't coming back to Indonesia today. He said that both his spiritual teacher in Saudi Arabia and his prayers had led him to his decision.

"Therefore, I ask all Muslims to pray for me and my family, to pray to God, to ask God that my family and I were allowed by God to return to safely to our country and achieve victory for all Muslims," he said as quoted by Detik.

Rizieq said he really, really wanted to come home because of all of the threats facing Indonesia, including the continuing criminalization of ulema (Islamic scholars) such as himself. He also mentioned the judicial review recently filed by Ahok against his controversial blasphemy conviction (the trial at which Rizieq was called as an "expert witness") as another dire matter in need of his attention.

The FPI founder finished his phone call by promising to inform his followers himself, via social media, when he would really be returning to Indonesia and apologized to those who had come out to meet him this morning.

Rizieq's words were not enough to placate some of his followers, leading to more infighting among his faithful. Persaudaraan Alumni 212 was criticized by Aminuddin, a spokesperson for Presidium 212 (another rival 212 alumni group) for carrying on with the welcoming committee and demanded that they apologize to all of Rizieq's followers who made the trek out to Cengkareng for his alleged arrival.

"They must promise to no longer make [Rizieq] an object of speculation that can damage the faith of the people. Because of this incident their faith in the ulema will increasingly disappear, especially those who are members of Persaudaraan Alumni 212," Aminuddin said, adding that the funds spent on the endeavor also needed to be shown transparently.

The Presidium spokesperson's words come just two days after it was announced that one of the Presidium's founder had been kicked out of the organization for daring to say that Rizieq should learn from "noble" Ahok and face his charges honorably in court instead of hiding and using the masses to protect him.

Rizieq has been hiding in Saudi Arabia since he was named a pornography suspect in the infamous "baladacintarizieq" pornography case in May. Explaining his long refusal to return to Indonesia, one of the firebrand cleric's lawyer's once said Rizieq would rather stay in Saudi and be called a coward than return to Indonesia and get arrested.

[The original title of this article was "Hundreds of FPI faithful go to Jakarta airport to wait for Rizieq's return, unsurprisingly he no-shows yet again".]

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/hundreds-fpi-faithful-go-jakarta-airport-wait-rizieqs-return-unsurprisingly-no-shows-yet/

Amien Rais demands president Jokowi to drop Rizieq Shihab case

Tempo - February 20, 2018

Zara Amelia, Jakarta – The 212 alumni presidium advisory council chairman Amien Rais urged President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to stop on what he claims the attempts to criminalize ulemas (Muslim scholar), such as the pornography criminal case entangling Rizieq Shihab.

Amien asked President Jokowi to instruct the police to drop the Rizieq Shihab case. "So Jokowi, I tell you to be careful. You are the headman of this country, tell law enforcers to not be arrogant, don't get carried away, because we are also the lawful owners of this country. This country is for all of us, don't try me," he said Tuesday, February 20.

Amien Rais maintains that the criminal cases of Rizieq are mere accusations. He claims that the government should focus on solving bigger problems such as the prostitution business at the Alexis Hotel in North Jakarta.

He claims that the Muslim community has always been a peace-loving group of people and often concede but the government pays that back by siding against the Ulemas.

"I ask that the regime of rulers beware. The Muslim community has never caused problems, but if our Ulemas are looked down upon just to vilify the great imam (Rizieq Shihab). Then beware," said Amien Rais.

Rizieq Shihab is currently entangled in a criminal case sparked by his alleged pornographic Whatsapp chat with Firza Husein. Jakarta Metro Police named the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader as a suspect on May 29, 2017.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/20/055915891/Amien-Rais-Demands-President-Jokowi-to-Drop-Rizieq-Shihab-Case

Alumni 212 leader fired for saying that Rizieq should be more like

Coconuts Jakarta - February 20, 2018

Well it looks like the talk about fugitive Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) founder Rizieq Shihab returning to Indonesia tomorrow was, yet again, premature as police are saying that Rizieq has "canceled" his return trip to Jakarta (whether the photo of the airplane ticket that was supposed to bring him home was real or not is still undetermined).

But Rizieq's continued evasion of Indonesian law (after being named a suspect in a high-profile pornography case in May) has led to a change in leadership in the Presidium Alumni 212, an Islamist political group named for the massive December 2, 2016, protest against Rizieq's hated enemy, former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

On Saturday, during a meeting to discuss Rizieq's possible return and its impact on politics, Faisal Assegaf, one of the founders of Presidium Alumni 212, negatively compared Rizieq to Ahok. Faisal said that Ahok had been "noble" in facing the blasphemy charges against him.

"We dare to call Ahok kafir (infidel), but the facts show that the people we accuse to be kafir do not use thousands of lawyers or the masses, but their constitutional rights, their right as citizens," Faisal said as quoted by Republika.

Faisal was of course referring to the heavily politicized blasphemy charge against Ahok that was the reason of the 212 protests as well as the former governor's eventual election loss and imprisonment. Ahok attended every session of his blasphemy case trial during and after the gubernatorial campaign and was handed a much criticized 2-year sentence at its conclusion.

Rizieq, on the other hand, has been hiding in Saudi Arabia since he was named a pornography suspect in the infamous "baladacintarizieq" case in May. Explaining his long refusal to return to Indonesia, one of the firebrand cleric's lawyer's said Rizieq would rather stay in Saudi and be called a coward than return to Indonesia and get arrested.

But regardless of how accurate Faisal's statement was, it obviously did not go over well with his fellow 212 "alumni and it was announced yesterday that he had been kicked out of the Presidium, saying they "deeply regretted" his comparison of their glorious leader and their object of hatred.

"Actually comparing the roughness of the behavior or character of Ahok with the glory of the high priest of Indonesian Muslims, Habib Rizieq Shihab, is an opinion that really has no intellectual weight, even from an ethical point of view (Ahok) is uncivilized," Presidium 212 spokesperson Aminuddin said yesterday as quoted by Detik (yes, the 212 alumni named Rizieq high priest of all Indonesian Muslims; no, that is not actually a real thing).

While we feel sorry for anybody who is punished for speaking the truth and common sense (as happens so often in Indonesia) we can't feel too badly for Faisal since, after all, he chose to found the Presidium – a group dedicated to the political domination of Indonesian Muslims over minority groups.

But at least he was able to, eventually, see Rizieq for what he really is. How long must the FPI leader hide in Saudi Arabia before the rest of his followers wise up as well?

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/presidium-alumni-212-leader-fired-saying-rizieq-like-noble-ahok-face-law/

'Alumni' leader: Rizieq should learn from 'noble' Ahok and face the

Coconuts Jakarta - February 19, 2018

Since he became a fugitive from Indonesian justice 10 months ago after being named a suspect in a high-profile pornography case, every few months there have been announcements that Rizieq Shihab, the founder of the infamous Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), would leave his hiding place of Saudi Arabia and return to Jakarta in the near future.

Those announcements never came true, but a recent viral photo supposedly showing a ticket for Rizieq's return flight to Jakarta on Wednesday has led to renewed discussion about what would happen if Rizieq were actually to return to Indonesia.

Rizieq and his legal team have always maintained that the pornography case against him was engineered by his political enemies and have often said he would only return to Indonesia if the case was dropped.

But one of the leaders of Presidium Alumni 212 (a hardliner Islamist political group made up of 'alumni' of the massive December 2, 2016 protest against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama that was officiated by Rizieq) says that the FPI founder should follow the example of his bitter enemy Ahok and face the law honorably.

"The noble soul of Ahok must be imitated by Habib Rizieq, sometimes we take lessons from our enemies," said Faisal Assegaf, one of the founders of Presidium Alumni 212, at a discussion on Saturday titled, 'The arrival of Habib Rizieq and Potential Uproar in this Political Year' in Jakarta on Saturday as quoted by Republika.

Faisal was of course referring to the heavily politicized blasphemy charge against Ahok that was the reason of the 212 protests as well as the former governor's eventual election loss and imprisonment. Ahok attended every session of his blasphemy case trial during and after the gubernatorial campaign and was handed a much criticized 2-year sentence at its conclusion.

Rizieq, on the other hand, has been hiding in Saudi Arabia since he was named a pornography suspect in the infamous "baladacintarizieq" case in May. Explaining his long refusal to return to Indonesia, one of the firebrand cleric's lawyer's said Rizieq would rather stay in Saudi and be called a coward than return to Indonesia and get arrested.

At the discussion on Rizieq's potential return, Presidium Alumni 212's Faisal argued that it was essential that a cleric never rely on the power of the masses and that ulema (scholars) who are sincere in their devotion do not rely on lawyers but on faith in what they believe.

"We dare to call Ahok kafir (infidel), but the facts show that the people we accuse to be kafir do not use thousands of lawyers or the masses, but their constitutional rights, their right as citizens," Faisal said.

Previously, FPI leaders had said that "millions" of Rizieq's followers would flood Soekarno-Hatta Airport to make sure their leader was safe from arrest should he return.

Faisal also said that Rizieq would definitely return to Indonesia should he be asked by current Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, implying that Anies owed Rizieq since he won in large part due to the 212 protest movement and thus should guarantee his safe return.

Police apparently think there is enough of a chance that the FPI leader might really return this time (unlike the many, many other times he was said to be coming back) as authorities have apparently called for a special tele-conference of police chiefs from across the country on how to handle it.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/anti-ahok-protest-alumni-leader-fpi-founder-rizieq-learn-noble-ahok-face-law/

Freedom of religion & worship

Police beef up security to protect clerics, houses of worship

Jakarta Post - February 19, 2018

Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta – The National Police have instructed their personnel to improve security at houses of worship across the country following a number of attacks on clerics.

National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Syafruddin had briefed regional police chiefs in a teleconference conducted Monday.

"We have reminded regional police chiefs to increase the security of houses of worship and clerics. We received reports on some assaults, some of [the reported assaults] were proven to be false information," Setyo said at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta.

In the most recent case, a sword-wielding attacked and injured several churchgoers at the St. Lidwina Catholic church in Sleman regency, Yogyakarta, on Feb. 11. In January, a Muslim preacher was attacked in Bandung, West Java.

Police officers would be more frequently monitoring religious figures and deploying more personnel to safeguard certain religious events to ensure security, Setyo added. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/19/police-beef-up-security-to-protect-clerics-houses-of-worship-following-attacks.html

Muhammadiyah supports progressive Islam: Chairman

Jakarta Post - February 16, 2018

Jakarta – Muhammadiyah chairman Haedar Nashir has said his organization would continue to uphold the idea of Islam berkemajuan, or progressive Islam, in Indonesia amid concerns of rising religious extremism in the country.

Haedar made the pledge in a public lecture he delivered at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday, according to a statement released by Muhammadiyah. The Muslim scholar had been invited to the Australian university to explain the ideas and values of Islam embraced by the country's largest modern Islamic movement.

"The view of progressive Islam introduced by the founders of Muhammadiyah has given birth to a progressive ideology that is widely known as reformist and modern Islam," Haedar said in his lecture, as quoted in the statement.

Muhammadiyah, established in Yogyakarta in 1912, is one of the oldest Islamic organizations in the country. While some of its predecessors, such as Syarikat Dagang Islam and Jam'iyatul Khair (both established in 1905), have descended into obscurity, Muhammadiyah currently operates 9200 schools, 170 universities and 500 hospitals and nursing homes.

"Muhammadiyah is committed to spreading the ideas and mission of progressive Islam, as it was the spirit of its birth in 1912," Haedar said.

The Muslim scholar told his Australian audience that the organization believed Islam was opposed to war, violence and terrorism and should be a blessing to mankind.

Islam is basically a religion that consists of "progressive values to build a foremost civilization", he said. (mos/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/16/muhammadiyah-supports-progressive-islam-chairman.html

Ahok files for appeal almost 1 year after controversial blasphemy

Coconuts Jakarta - February 19, 2018

Former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's controversial blasphemy case has taken yet another unexpected turn even after he has served almost half of his 2-year sentence for blasphemy.

When the North Jakarta District Court controversially found Ahok guilty and handed him a sentence that exceeded that which was demanded by prosecutors in May 2017, the former governor and his legal team decided not to launch an appeal – a decision that legal analysts believe was made to eliminate risks of Ahok being handed a heavier sentence and having his right to run for public office revoked.

Even the case prosecutors, who demanded that Ahok be given a 2-year probationary sentence, filed an appeal against the judges' decision, only to withdraw it soon after.

But today, it has been revealed in the media that Ahok's lawyers recently filed an appeal on their client's behalf, as confirmed by the Supreme Court.

"It's true that on February 2, 2018, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama's legal advisors filed an appeal to the Indonesian Supreme Court through the District Court that handleded the decision, in this case the North Jakarta District Court," said Abdullah, head of the Public Relations Department in the Supreme Court, as quoted by Liputan 6 today.

Abdullah said the appeal request came in the form of a handwritten letter from Ahok's lawyers, Josefina A Syukur and Fifi Lety Indra – the latter being Ahok's sister.

The North Jakarta District Court, where the appeal trial is going to be held, said that the first hearing is scheduled for Feb. 26.

Neither Josefina nor Fifi have spoken publicly to reveal their reasons for filing the appeal so far into Ahok's prison sentence, but common sense would suggest that the only reason why anyone would be confident enough to launch an appeal this long after the ruling is because they can present new, irrefutable evidence proving Ahok's innocence or evidence that the court presiding Ahok's blasphemy trial was somehow compromised.

In September 2016, Ahok was reported to the police for blasphemy after a video of a speech he gave in Jakarta's Pulau Seribu district was circulated online in which he told the audience that his political opponents used a contentious interpretation of a Quranic verse to convince people not to vote for non-Muslim public officials. Ahok was sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of blasphemy against Islam by the North Jakarta District Court on May 9, 2017.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/former-jakarta-governor-ahok-files-appeal-almost-1-year-controversial-blasphemy-conviction/

Sex, pornography & morality

Indonesian police round up amorous couples amid celebration ban

Agence France Presse - February 15, 2018

Jakarta – Valentine's Day was banned in some Indonesian cities as police rounded up amorous couples, giving the official kiss-off to a tradition which critics say does not deserve any love in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation.

The prohibitions come amid concerns that traditionally tolerant Indonesia is taking a sharp fundamentalist turn by pushing to make pre-marital sex, including gay sex, illegal and punishable with jail time.

Authorities in the country's second biggest city Surabaya briefly detained about 24 couples during a raid to sniff out any sign of Valentine's Day celebrations yesterday. They were expected to be released with a reprimand.

Mataram city, located on the tourist island of Lombok, issued its own Valentine's Day ban and ordered police to raid schools in the hunt for passionate students unable to keep their hands off each other. However, romantic parties at hotels and cafes were left alone, according to authorities.

Syamsu Rizal, the deputy mayor of Makassar on the island of Sulawesi, said his city prohibited Valentine's celebrations, while Depok on the outskirts of Jakarta followed suit.

"It has never been declared by the government to be a celebration in the country" and the ban would prevent hanky-panky among students, Rizal said.

Makassar has imposed bans on Valentine's Day for the past few years. Last year, city authorities raided convenience stores to seize condoms in a bid to stop teenagers from having sex on Feb 14.

At least 10 cities across the nation issued full or partial bans on Valentine's Day celebrations.

Aceh province, the only place in Indonesia that imposes Islamic law, issued a fresh Valentine's prohibition yesterday, citing religious norms. It has ordered similar bans in previous years.

"Valentine's Day reflects a culture which is not in line with Aceh's and Islamic law," provincial governor Irwandi Yusuf said in a statement.

Islamic clerics and some pious Muslims use the occasion to criticise what they see as Western decadence. But many Indonesians practise a moderate form of Islam and celebrate Valentine's Day with cards, chocolates and flowers for their loved ones.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2018/02/15/valentines-day-gets-the-kissoff-indonesian-police-round-up-amorous-couples-amid-celebration-ban/

Land & agrarian conflicts

Yogyakarta court upholds law preventing non-indigenous Indonesians

Coconuts Jakarta - February 21, 2018

One of the nicknames for Yogyakarta is "City of Tolerance", reflecting the history of the special region's capital as a place of culture, learning and pluralism.

But despite that reputation, Yogyakarta Special Region still enforces one of Indonesia's most blatantly discriminatory laws, a relic of anti-Chinese racism from decades past that continues to prevent citizens who are not considered to be pribumi (a controversial term to describe "native" Indonesians) from owning land within its territories.

Yesterday, the district court of Yogyakarta once again rejected a legal challenge to the racist regulation, deciding that it was not within the court's discretion to nullify the policy based on higher law.

The policy in question is Yogyakarta Regional Head Instruction Letter No. K.898/I/A/1975 on the Unification of Land Rights Issuance Policy for Non-Pribumi (non-native) Indonesians. The law was signed by Yogyakarta Deputy Governor Paku Alam XIII in 1975 and says that all regents and mayors in Yogyakarta are not allowed to issue land ownership certificates to non-natives.

Explaining his ruling, lead judge P. Cokro Hendro Mukti said that because the law was originally issued as an "instruction" by the deputy governor utilizing his executive privilege, it was not a statutory law that could be legally challenged using higher law (including several national laws against discriminatory land ownership policies) within the court.

"An instruction is a regulatory policy and not a statutory law, and meaning it cannot be tested using higher laws and regulations because there is no legislation that was used as the basis for making it," Mukti said as quoted by Tribun.

Besides contradicting higher law, the lawsuit also aimed to test the policy on the legal principle of good governance (AAUB), which basically amounts to whether a law can be argued to be of some benefit to citizens.

The judges' ruling considered this but sided with the argument made by the Yogyakarta Administration's lawyers who defended the policy on the basis that it protected citizens who were "relatively weak economically" people (because apparently there are no relatively poor Chinese-Indonesians in Yogyakarta...) and helped the government achieve its "development goals".

"According to the assembly and according to the facts in the hearing, the policies imposed by the defendant are not contradictory to AAUB because their objective is to protect the public interest, namely the weak economic community, as it relates to their privilege and explicit special authority in the field of land ownership to maintain the culture and the existence of the Ngayogyakarto Sultanate," judge Mukti said.

The court rejected the lawsuit, filed by a Chinese-Indonesian citizen named Handoko, and ordered him to pay court fees of IDR407,000 (USD 30).

How such a blatantly racist and discriminatory law has been allowed to exist in Indonesia so long is troubling, but even more so is the sultanate's active attempts to defend it.

The "City of Tolerance" has been criticized over several recent acts of intolerance, including hardliner Islamists shutting down a church charity event (which the sultan chose not to denounce) and a radicalized lone-wolf attacker who assaulted a church congregation with a sword. But this racists land ownership policy shows that intolerance has long been institutionalized in Yogyakarta and until the the sultan and local government move to get rid of it, things will only get worse.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/yogyakarta-court-upholds-law-preventing-non-indigenous-e-chinese-indonesians-owning-land/

Parliament & legislation

Jokowi has yet to ratify UU MD3 Law

Tempo - February 21, 2018

Vindry Florentin, Jakarta – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) revealed why he has yet signed the Law on the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), House of Representatives (DPR), and Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) or known as the UU MD3.

Jokowi admitted that he is waiting for the legal study report before ratifying the Law. "The Law has been on my table but I have yet to sign it. I haven't ratified it because I want study reports on whether I should sign it or not," said President Jokowi on Wednesday, February 21.

Jokowi realizes that the Law has attracted criticism from the public who is worried that it would blur the lines between legal issues and ethical issues. Meanwhile, others say the Law's formation was heavily influenced by politics. "I am aware that we do not want democracy to deteriorate," said the seventh Indonesian President.

Furthermore, the UU MD3 will automatically take effect 30 days after it was issued even though the president has not ratified the law. Jokowi said that it is the risk contained in the Law (UU).

However, Jokowi said that whether the UU MD3 is ratified or not, the government will not issue a cancellation of the law. The president suggested that people who are against the UU MD3 to submit a judicial review to the Constitutional Court.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/21/055915937/Jokowi-Has-Yet-to-Ratify-UU-MD3-Law

Armed forces & defense

Wiranto hesitant to comment on Rizieq Syihab in meeting with TNI

Tempo - February 20, 2018

Adam Prireza, Jakarta – The Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto stated the meeting with Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Hadi Tjahjanto and National Police deputy chief Syafruddin on February 19, was not for discussing Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Syihab who will return to Indonesia.

"We talked about nothing specific, but anything such as regional election preparation, national security, political stability," said Wiranto after the 2018 regional election coordination meeting at Grand Sahid Jaya Hotel, Jakarta, Tuesday, February 20.

Wiranto was hesitant to comment about the upcoming arrival of Rizieq Shihab. The minister added that he routinely held a meeting with officials regarding law and national security every week at his office to strengthen the coordination between TNI and the National Police. "Both (institutions) work together and cannot be separated."

Previously, Rizieq Shihab plans to return to Indonesia by Saudi Arabian Airlines 816 Boeing 777-300 and will be arrived on February 21, around 9 p.m. Western Indonesia Time. The 212 Alumni presidium chairman Slamet Maarif confirmed the ticket's validity.

The Directorate General of Immigration stated will send Rizieq Shihab to the police at his arrival. "He (Rizieq Syihab) was on the police wanted list, so the immigration will detect him and hand him over to the police investigation," said Agung Sampurno, the head of general public relations for the directorate.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/20/055915885/Wiranto-Hesitant-to-Comment-on-Rizieq-Syihab-in-Meeting-with-TNI

Indonesian President Jokowi boosts ties with military in power

Straits Times - February 15, 2018

Jakarta (Bloomberg) – Standing before thousands of soldiers, Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto delivered a blunt message intended to resonate far beyond the army's strategic command headquarters in East Java.

The Indonesian military's neutrality in upcoming elections is "non-negotiable", he told 1,500 troops late last month at an army base in Malang. "The politics of the TNI is the politics of the state."

Where his predecessor Gatot Nurmantyo was perceived as harbouring political ambitions and courted controversy with notions of a resurgent communist threat, the new chief has signalled the military is set to fall in behind President Joko Widodo at a critical juncture for Indonesia.

As the first president to come from outside the military and political elite, Widodo last month moved to further shore up links with Indonesia's armed forces, appointing former TNI chief General Moeldoko as his chief of staff and former special forces commander General Agum Gumelar as an adviser. "President Joko Widodo's recent appointments – during last month's mini-reshuffle – are clearly aimed at strengthening his ties with the military," said Peter Mumford, Southeast Asia director at Eurasia Group.

"Surrounding himself with more generals is part of the president's shift to a more conservative stance and image as he tries to widen his support base ahead of regional and local elections this year and the presidential vote in 2019."

Growing Islamisation

For Widodo, known as Jokowi, the appointment of Tjahjanto also provides a bulwark against the Islamic groups that last year lead a bitter campaign against Jakarta's then governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama or 'Ahok', a Christian, and threatened to engulf the president.

Sectarian unrest is not only a risk for Indonesia's reform process but to Widodo himself as he prepares for a long presidential campaign and seeks to woo hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign investment.

And while the world's biggest Muslim country faces a growing influence from radical Islam at home, Indonesia is also seen as crucial in efforts to contain regional security risks.

"Indonesia is hugely important in terms of countering the threat of terrorism, both because of the security risks within the country itself but also the potential for extremists in Indonesia to travel overseas, as has already occurred, to become foreign fighters, drawn into conflicts such as the insurgency in Marawi, Philippines last year," said Mumford.

Power play

Within weeks of his appointment in December, Tjahjanto moved swiftly to assert his authority over the ranks, purging dozens of senior officers who'd been recently appointed to high-ranking positions by his predecessor.

He also made a fresh appeal for the military to be given a greater role in the fight against terrorism. In a letter to the parliamentary committee examining Indonesia's terrorism laws, he wrote that the current bill limits Indonesia's efforts.

"Although ties between the government and military are stable, this is essential but not sufficient to tackle terrorism and other threats," said Mumford. "The growing Islamisation of the political environment could make it harder to tackle terrorism if it prevents the parliament passing tough new anti-terror laws." Muhammad Syafi, a Gerindra lawmaker and the chairman of the committee, said the letter was "just a proposal" that can be accepted or rejected. "But the TNI will not be involved in law enforcement because that is the responsibility of the police," he said in an interview.

While the military's influence in politics has waned since Suharto's 32-years in power ended in 1998, it remains a prominent fixture in Indonesian society – many former generals enjoy powerful roles in the country's political arena, including holding key positions in Widodo's cabinet.

Twenty years since Suharto's fall, its push for more power is raising concerns the TNI wants to expand its presence in civilian life.

The Indonesian military has not responded to requests for comment. But a senior official from the Security Ministry said that terrorism "continues to pose a serious threat" that no single law enforcement could deal with alone.

Critical support

Indonesia is set to hold simultaneous elections in 171 regions including 17 provinces across the country in June, followed by a long presidential campaign that starts in September and could take almost a year to conclude.

The potential for these polls "to inflame religious and ethnic tensions" means the loyalty of the TNI commander and his ability to work closely with other key security agencies "will be critical," Greta Nabbs-Keller, a Senior Research Associate at the University of Queensland's Centre for Policy Futures said.

The former TNI commander was accused by some of trying to push his own political agenda. "The combination of Nurmantyo's political proximity to hard-line Islamic groups, most obvious during the late 2016 anti-Ahok protests, and his xenophobic and proxy war discourse revealed a readiness to exploit social cleavages for personal political ambition," Nabbs-Keller said.

Jokowi and Tjahjanto, however, have had a close relationship since their days together in Solo, where the president served as mayor before becoming the Jakarta governor and Tjahjanto commanded the Abdurachman Saleh Airbase.

"Tjahjanto will be a very different TNI commander and one Jokowi can rely on as he wards off powerful opponents in his bid for a second presidential term," she said.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesian-president-jokowi-boosts-ties-with-military-in-power-shift

Criminal justice & legal system

House supports BNN to perform urine drug test on all celebrities

Tempo - February 17, 2018

Jakarta (Antara) – The House of Representatives Commission III member Ahmad Sahroni demanded National Narcotics Agency (BNN) to take a proactive measure by getting all celebrities in Indonesia tested for drugs in the event of high cases of celebrities arrested for drugs early this year.

"We support BNN to work together with celebrity association to perform urine drug test. A high number of celebrities arrested as drug users at the beginning of this year indicates the high vulnerability of this profession to drugs," Sahroni said in Jakarta on Friday, Feb. 16.

He reminded that celebrities as public figures should set a good example for the society. He expected that no more celebrities get involved in drug cases in the future.

"We urge all celebrities to maintain professionalism instead of setting a bad example by taking drugs. That will be humiliating," he continued.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/17/055915793/House-Supports-BNN-to-Perform-Urine-Drug-Test-on-All-Celebrities

Foreign affairs & trade

US says Indonesia forgoing billions of dollars in investment

Straits Times - February 20, 2018

Jakarta (Bloomberg) – Indonesia is forgoing billions of dollars on offer from American companies eager to invest in South-east Asia's biggest economy, United States Ambassador to Indonesia Joseph Donovan said.

As the US tries to arrest a deteriorating trade balance with Indonesia, which last year found itself in President Donald Trump's cross-hairs, Donovan has also rejected complaints of increasing American protectionism.

Indonesia had made significant progress on macroeconomic stability, improving the business environment, education and infrastructure, yet more must be done to encourage trade as well as foreign investment, he said.

"Those that caution the United States about being trade protectionist, I would respectfully suggest that they look at their own markets and they might find a good deal of ingrained protectionism there," he said in an interview last Wednesday (Feb 14) in Jakarta.

Indonesian officials such as Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati have consistently criticised the protectionist tone sounded by Trump, who last year accused a host of nations, including Indonesia, of potentially abusing their trade relationship with the world's biggest economy.

Since then, the US trade deficit with Indonesia has worsened to US$13.3 billion (S$17.5 billion) from US$13.2 billion in 2016, according to the United States Census Bureau.

"The current protectionist language is definitely going to create concern about whether globally there will be a setback in the progress that has been made over the past three decades," Indrawati said in an interview last month.

Oke Nurwan, director-general of Foreign Trade at Indonesia's Trade Ministry, did not respond to questions about protectionism. He said Indonesia had made progress in terms of ease of doing business and was seeking to better manage imports, as well as targeting export growth of 11 per cent in 2018.

Donovan said the US's average tariff rate was less than 3 per cent and half Indonesia's average applied tariff rate. Despite the imbalance, he said trade in goods between the two nations had increased last year by about 7 per cent to approximately US$27 billion in bilateral terms, with US exports to Indonesia increasing about 14 per cent.

Indonesia must do more to encourage foreign businesses to invest and trade, he said, adding that the US wants to see more access granted to American companies, particularly in the agriculture sector, including dairy, cotton, soybean, fruit and vegetables.

"Indonesia is leaving billions of dollars on the table right now in the field of power generation by not following through on offers by American companies," he said, declining to reveal any specifics.

It's not about China

Ekoputro Adijayanto, the chief of the Indonesian Planning Ministry's Centre for Private Investment, said a number of US private equity firms had shown interest in Indonesia, including one that's "seriously looking" to invest in greenfield power generation. But there also appeared to be a "Trump effect," he said. "He's trying to lure investors in the US to invest back in America, make America great again."

"China is a bit different from other countries," Adijayanto said. "Instead of us going there, they are coming here. Many Chinese companies are coming to our office."

Figures show that in the space of three years, the US has lost significant ground to China in terms of foreign direct investment in Indonesia. Last year, direct investment from the US was worth US$2 billion, according to the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board, while Chinese foreign direct investment was US$3.4 billion.

"It's not a competition between America and China," Donovan said. "What I look for are opportunities for American businesses to compete on a level and fair trade ground here. Rather than look at China, what I'm interested in doing is helping American businesses to do more here."

Donovan said Indonesia must maintain the pace of economic reform established under President Joko Widodo and "stand up to protectionist voices who advocate for special interest under the guise of nationalism".

He cited Indonesia's local content regulations – which saw Apple's market access curbed before the company built a domestic research facility – as "a real deterrent" to foreign participation in the Indonesian economy. "It's important to recognise that these companies have options. They can choose to be here, they can choose to be elsewhere in Asean, they can choose to be elsewhere in the world," he said.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/us-says-indonesia-foregoing-billions-of-dollars-in-investment

Indonesia records $670m trade deficit in January: BPS

Jakarta Post - February 15, 2018

Stefani Ribka, Jakarta – Indonesia booked a US$670 million trade deficit in January, an unusual situation in the past three years, where January has usually seen trade surpluses, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) announced on Thursday.

BPS head Suhariyanto said the deficit was due to a significant import surge by 26.44 percent year on year (yoy) to $15.13 billion and moderate export growth of 7.86 percent yoy to $14.46 billion. "The import surge mostly occurred for vehicles [helicopters] and their components," he said.

All import types surged sharply – consumer goods, dominated by garlic, fresh apples, grapes and frozen meat, up by 32.98 percent; materials, mostly airplane and helicopter components, printed circuit boards and other electronic integrated circuits, up by 24.76 percent; capital goods, helicopters, floating machinery and other machinery, up by 30.9 percent.

Exports of oil and gas, meanwhile, were only up by 1.11 percent; agricultural products were down by 8.27 percent and processed goods up by 6.85 percent.

"Most of our exports still go to China, the United States and Japan, meaning we're still highly dependent on these three markets so we need to diversify," said Suhariyanto. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/15/indonesia-records-670m-trade-deficit-in-january-bps.html

Mining & energy

Indonesia extends export recommendation for Freeport

Jakarta Post - February 19, 2018

Jakarta – The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has extended the export recommendation for gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia amid sluggish progress in the negotiation of the divestment of 51 percent of the company's shares to Indonesian entities.

Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry business supervisory director Bambang Susigit said in Jakarta over the weekend that the export recommendation was issued on Feb. 16 and would take effect from Feb. 17, 2018 to Feb. 17, 2019.

"Freeport demanded an export quota of 1.66 million tons [of copper concentrates], but we only allowed 1.2 million tons in line with the budget and cost plan," Bambang said as reported by kompas.com.

He said one of the reasons for deciding to issue the export recommendation was that progress of the smelter construction had reached 2.4 percent.

"Freeport has implemented its early plan, starting with an administrative requirement to conduct soil tests to assess the land's stability," he added.

Meanwhile, Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama said the company had failed to fulfil the export target of 1.1 million tons last year because of various internal problems, particularly related to workers' issues. "Last year, there was large absenteeism among workers," Riza added.

Mineral resources expert from Tarumanegara University Ahmad Redi said the extension of the export recommendation indicated that the government was powerless in its dealings with Freeport.

Ahmad said Freeport did not have good will to complete the negotiations on the divestment of its shares. "But the government even gave the company the privilege of issuing a recommendation for exports of over million tons," he added. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/19/indonesia-extends-export-recommendation-for-freeport.html

More permit snags for Freeport Indonesia as smelter construction

Jakarta Globe - February 18, 2018

Rangga Prakoso, Jakarta – The Indonesian government still has not issued a new copper concentrate export permit for Freeport Indonesia – the largest gold and copper miner in the country, putting the company's next overseas shipment in a lot of doubt.

Freeport's last export permit expired on Friday (16/02). Indonesia's Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry will evaluate progress in the company's plan to build a local smelter before issuing a new one.

"We're still waiting for news from the ministry. Hopefully [we'll hear it] soon," Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama said on Sunday.

Riza said Freeport still does not know if its next copper concentrate delivery to overseas clients will be delayed or not.

Freeport Indonesia – the local unit of US mining giant Freeport McMoran – needs to have completed 90 percent of the agenda on its annual smelter construction plan to be issued a new export permit.

Riza said according to an independent audit by Surveyor Indonesia, that target has already been reached.

Freeport has been preparing the construction of a smelter in Gresik, East Java, since 2014. The facility will be able to process 2 million tons of concentrate per year once it is fully operational. But as of now, the project still has not reached construction stage.

Currently, Freeport Indonesia is involved in tough negotiations with the government to attain a special mining business license (IUPK) to replace its original work contract that will expire in 2021.

The miner has been arguing it needs be assured the Indonesian government will allow it to operate in the country beyond 2021 before it can commit to large-scale investments like building a smelter from scratch.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/business/permit-snag-freeport-indonesia-smelter-construction-stuck-planning-stage/

Infrastructure & development

YLKI criticizes poor construction safety, calls for forensic

Jakarta Post - February 20, 2018

Jakarta – The Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) has criticized the poor construction site safety of infrastructure development projects, as indicated by several incidents connected to several projects in Greater Jakarta.

YLKI chairman Tulus Abadi said in Jakarta on Tuesday that the government should focus not only on the acceleration of infrastructure projects, but also on adequate safety measures at construction sites.

"The implementation of accelerated infrastructure development is akin to a reckless angkot [public minivan] driver pushing to make a deposit. The important thing is to make [the deposit], without prioritizing the safety, security and comfort of the passengers," Tulus said as quoted by kompas.com.

He was referring to the practice among public minivan operators, which require its drivers to deposit a certain amount of money each day to pay the vehicle's rental fee.

On Tuesday morning, a section of the Bekasi-Cawang-Kampung Melayu (Becakayu) toll road collapsed in Kebon Nanas, East Jakarta, injuring seven workers.

It was the latest accident that followed several others, including the collapse of an underpass retaining wall near Soekarno-Hatta International Airport that caused one death, the collapse of a crane on the double-track railway in Jatinegara, killing four people, and the collapse of six girders on the Antasari-Depok toll road under development along Jl. TB Simatupang in South Jakarta, which damaged an empty truck.

Tulus said that the accidents showed that safety measures were not a high priority in the construction of infrastructure projects. "These accidents are partly due to construction failure. The accidents also indicate that the infrastructure projects were not well-planned or that they lacked rigorous and consistent supervision," he said.

He added that such accidents could result from failures during either the planning or construction phase. Tulus thus called on the government to establish a team to carry out forensic engineering to investigate the cause of the accidents. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/20/ylki-criticizes-poor-construction-safety-calls-for-forensic-engineering.html

Indonesia suspends infrastructure projects after string of

Reuters - February 20, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesia suspended on Tuesday the construction of elevated infrastructure projects, including rail and roads, after a series of accidents raised questions about the safety of a government drive to upgrade transport networks.

Minister of Public Works and Housing Basuki Hadimuljono, who is in charge of infrastructure construction, said the government would suspend all construction of elevated infrastructure.

"Design, equipments and standard operating procedures will be evaluated. Everything will be evaluated," he said, adding that President Joko Widodo had requested the action.

When Widodo came to power in 2014 he outlined a need for $450 billion investment in infrastructure by 2019 to help cut high logistics costs holding back Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Under the drive, a series of projects ranging from a subway in traffic-clogged Jakarta to seven new airports and thousands of kilometers of roads are being built, often by state-owned enterprises.

"We hope with such supervision, any negligence, errors in erecting such components that support the constructions are fully supervised one by one," Widodo said on Tuesday.

There have been 14 accidents in the past six months, Hadimuljono said. In the latest, a girder collapsed at a toll-road construction site in Jakarta on Tuesday injuring seven workers, media reported.

This month, a crane collapsed at an elevated railway project in another part of Jakarta, killing four people and injuring five.

Arie Setiadi Moerwanto, a director general at the ministry, said "a lot" of infrastructure would be suspended although he said it should not disrupt government infrastructure development targets.

Moerwanto said the length of suspensions would depend on the result of evaluations, but it could range up to a month.

The opposition Gerindra party criticized Widodo's infrastructure push, likening it to forced-labor in colonial times.

"People's lives are not being respected because what is most important is that the project must be completed on time. If in colonial times, workers were slow, they were whipped. In today's era, slow workers are fired," Gerindra said on Twitter.

"Gerindra urges workers working on these projects to be careful so they don't become the next victims. And the public using these infrastructure projects should also be careful."

[Reporting by Cindy Silviana and Maikel Jefriando; Additional reporting Kanupriya Kapoor; Writing by Fransiska Nangoy.]

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-infrastructure/indonesia-suspends-infrastructure-projects-after-string-of-accidents-idUSKCN1G40VP

Accidents mar Indonesia's fast-and-furious infrastructure program

Nikkei Asian Review - February 18, 2018

Erwida Maulia, Jakarta – A string of accidents is threatening to undermine Indonesian President Joko Widodo's signature infrastructure development drive.

Though the causes remain unclear, the president's political rivals have seized on the problems ahead of local and presidential elections, blasting the administration for pushing projects too hastily.

Just a month after Widodo opened a railway connection to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, heavy rain triggered a landslide at a rail underpass near the airport on Feb. 5. Tumbling concrete and soil crushed a passing Honda Brio, killing the female driver and injuring the other passenger. Railway operations were suspended for three days.

The landslide occurred a day after a deadly accident at a construction site for a commuter rail line in Central Jakarta. A heavy crane fell over, killing four workers and injuring at least one other.

These are the latest in a series of at least 14 accidents involving infrastructure projects over the past several months – 10 in Jakarta and its suburbs. The total death toll stands at nine.

The troubles have coincided with a pickup in construction, after sluggish funding and progress in the first half of Widodo's presidency. Most of the cases are still under investigation, but skepticism is building over the quality of the infrastructure and the government's ability to fulfill its ambitions.

Some observers see a combination of factors at play: the unprecedented scale and variety of the projects, coupled with pressure on builders to complete them quickly – in many cases by 2019, when Widodo is expected to seek re-election.

Consider the Jakarta LRT, the capital's first light rail transit network. The project should have been launched in 2015, but due to funding and other kinks, construction did not begin until January 2017. Despite the long delay, the target for completion was left unchanged – before the Asian Games in August. The government wants athletes to be able to use the LRT to avoid the city's notorious traffic jams.

"The train carriages will arrive in April," Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan told reporters in December. "God willing, [the line] will be able to start operations in July at the latest."

On Jan. 22, however, workers were installing a box girder for elevated tracks near a velodrome in East Jakarta when the girder collapsed, injuring five of them.

Franky Rivan, an analyst at Mirae Asset Sekuritas Indonesia, is among those who believe rushed work is to blame.

"The LRT that will connect the velodrome, [built by] Wijaya Karya, is the fastest LRT construction because it is aimed for the Asian Games," said Rivan, who has been following state contractors involved in infrastructure projects, such as Wijaya Karya and Waskita Karya. "But they shouldn't have rushed the completion."

Opposition politicians took the opportunity to criticize the Widodo administration's election-oriented deadlines. Lawmakers are reportedly planning to summon and interrogate government officials and construction companies over the "construction failures."

"Simultaneous developments running on tight deadlines surely afflict moral burden to anyone, including construction companies," said lawmaker Nurhasan Zaidi of the Prosperous Justice Party. "The government must bear responsibility."

There is a shortage of qualified workers across all levels – including laborers and engineers – so they are overstretched

Public Works Minister Basuki Hadimuljono also pointed to the human element. "We observed that many of the accidents happened on Saturday [or] Sunday," Hadimuljono told Kompas TV in an interview. "So there may have been carelessness, which we must acknowledge as human error."

Police have blamed human error in at least one case – the deadly crane accident on Feb. 4. The operator of the crane has been detained and named as a suspect, with the authorities ruling out equipment failure.

Dradjat Hoedajanto, chairman of the Indonesian Society of Civil and Structural Engineers, spoke broadly about an unprepared labor force. Of the 8.1 million construction workers in Indonesia, less than 10% have proper certification, according to the Public Works Ministry.

"Human resources in the construction sector are probably not well-prepared to do so many [jobs] and have to complete them in such a short time," Hoedajanto said. "There is a shortage of qualified workers across all levels – including laborers and engineers – so they are overstretched."

Obfuscation of the investigations has also prompted whispers about unsuitable appointments of contractors and subcontractors, which Hoedajanto said are frequently based on "forced efficiency."

"Winners of the bids are often those who offered the cheapest prices," he said. "That's problematic."

Five state-owned construction companies – Waskita Karya, Wijaya Karya, Adhi Karya, Hutama Karya and Pembangunan Perumahan – have snapped up the majority of the transportation projects. Private builders have found themselves with only a small slice of the pie, despite the government's calls for their participation in the infrastructure program.

The state companies have only said they are looking into the accidents. The Public Works Ministry, meanwhile, has so far only issued a reprimand to Waskita, the contractor behind nearly half the accident-hit projects.

The reprimand was intended to nudge the company to "fix the work system and address [the issue of] construction supervisors, so they will be more careful," said Arie Setiadi Moerwanto, the ministry's director general. "Waskita has followed up [on the reprimand]. Let's say that they've changed the system."

The ministry last month formed a Construction Safety Committee to investigate the accidents and evaluate related projects. It also plans to set up a Building Safety Committee to evaluate the infrastructure once construction is completed.

But apart from brief halts of the affected projects, there is no indication that the government is willing to change its fast-and-furious approach.

Widodo last week launched the construction of what will be the first toll road in West Sumatra – part of the Trans-Sumatra project, which will connect the southern and northern tips of the island with a total of 2,800km of pavement.

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Economy/Accidents-mar-Indonesia-s-fast-and-furious-infrastructure-program

Jokowi sets sights on equality in 2019 national programs

Jakarta Post - February 15, 2018

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has raised the theme of equality for quality growth in the 2019 government work plan, the final year of his current term in office and the year the legislative and presidential elections will be held.

National Development Planning Minister/National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) head Bambang PS Brodjonegoro said that equality was not only about reducing the wealth gap between the rich and the poor, but also concerned interregional equality.

"The work plan is elaborated in five national programs and 24 prioritized programs," said Bambang on Wednesday in Jakarta during the kickoff of preparations for the 2020 census, as quoted by tempo.co.

The five programs for 2019 are developing human resources, reducing interregional inequality, improving added value products and services, stabilizing national security and stabilizing the provision of food and energy, Bambang said. He added that the government introduced 10 national programs this year.

Bambang said the government stressed the importance of national security stability, because it was closely related to ensuring smooth progress in efforts to attain equality.

"There have been questions as to why the government linked national security stability and equality," he said, answering that if equality could not be attained, certain people might feel they were discriminated against.

In discussing the 2019 work plan at a Cabinet meeting recently, President Jokowi stressed the continuing need for the country to boost investment and exports to support economic growth. He also called on regional leaders to support the economic program by improving the investment climate in their regions. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/15/jokowi-sets-sights-on-equality-in-2019-national-programs.html

Economy & investment

Q4 foreign debt grows by 10 percent: BI

Jakarta Post - February 20, 2018

Jakarta – Bank Indonesia has said Indonesian foreign debts in both the public and private sectors increased by 10.1 percent year on year (yoy) to US$352.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017.

BI spokesman Agusman said on Monday in Jakarta that new foreign debts were used mostly to finance infrastructure projects.

"According to maturity, Indonesian foreign debt was still safe in the last quarter of 2017," Agusman said as reported by tempo.co, adding that 86.1 percent of the foreign debt was long-term debts.

He added that long-term debts grew by 8.5 percent yoy in the fourth quarter, while short-term debts grew by 20.7 percent yoy.

Most of the debt was distributed among the finance industry, the manufacturing industry, the electricity, gas and clean water industry and the mining industry, Agusman said.

The private sector's share in the four sectors reached 76.9 percent in the fourth quarter, showing a minimal decrease from the 77 percent recorded in the third quarter.

The central bank saw that the condition of the foreign debt, whose ratio to gross domestic product (GDP) was 34 percent, was still manageable, while the ratio of short-term debt to the total debt was stable at 13 percent, he added.

Agusman said Bank Indonesia would continue monitoring the Indonesian debt to ensure that it would play an important role in financing the country's development and would not affect macroeconomic stability. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/20/q4-foreign-debt-grows-by-10-percent-bi.html

Taxation & state budget

Sri Mulyani criticizes poor budget planning by government

Jakarta Post - February 21, 2018

Marchio Irfan Gorbiano, Jakarta – Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati criticized on Wednesday the rampant revisions of budget execution lists (DIPA) by working units of ministries, regional administrations and other government institutions across the country.

The minister said the rampant DIPA revisions indicated poor planning of state revenue spending by nearly all government working units, adding that her ministry would punish working units that frequently revised their DIPAs.

"If working units cannot plan their own budgets then why should I disburse their budgets?" Sri Mulyani said in response to a report made by Finance Ministry director general of the treasury Marwanto that showed there had been 52,400 revisions made to DIPAs by about 26,000 working units across the country.

She further said that, "Working units that frequently revise their DIPAs should not receive budget allocations. Is that fair? [...] It indicates they do not respect the state revenue collected from the people."

Sri made the comments in front of bureaucrats who attended the National Coordination Meeting for the Implementation of the 2018 State Budget at the Finance Ministry office.

She said that to try to improve the budget planning of all government working units, the ministry would impose punishments. "Sometimes, shaming is more effective. Award granting no longer works here," she added.

However, she expressed hope that civil servants would be able to improve their budget planning so they could efficiently and effectively use the state revenue to further the prosperity of the Indonesian people. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/21/sri-mulyani-criticizes-poor-budget-planning-by-government-institutions.html

Analysis & opinion

Indonesia's military craves more power

Asia Times - February 19, 2018

John McBeth, Jakarta – To the consternation of pro-democracy activists and those with grim memories of ex-president Suharto's authoritarian rule, Joko Widodo's government continues to mull over legislation that would give the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) a wider counterterrorism role.

It is not clear yet what changes will be made to the 2003 Anti-Terrorism Law, but in a letter to Parliament last month new armed forces chief Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto rang alarm bells by proposing that terrorism should be changed from a law enforcement to an officially defined state security issue.

That, and the contention that terrorism is also a threat to territorial integrity, would place it squarely within the domain of the military, which lost its internal security role when democratic reforms made it solely responsible for external defense in 1999.

"The question is whether it is desirable to give the military the authority to take the initiative without reference to the police," says Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, a think tank. "It opens a wedge where the dangers will outweigh the benefits that would come from specifying its roles in the law."

Previous versions of the draft legislation have allowed Indonesia's capable special forces units to spearhead the response in cases of ship or aircraft hijacks, mass hostage-taking and multiple simultaneous terrorist threats.

"The law only provides for prohibited acts carrying criminal liability for the perpetrators (and) is only applicable after terrorism acts have been carried out," said in his letter to the parliamentary committee working on the draft.

To deal effectively and efficiently with terrorism, Tjahjanto wrote, the strategy of "proactive law enforcement" should be applied where terrorists are lawfully apprehended in the planning stages of an operation before they can inflict death and destruction.

Maritime Coordinating Minister Luhut Panjaitan, a former commander of the army special forces' (Kopassus) elite Detachment 81 counterterrorism unit, told Asia Times that Indonesia is merely seeking to model itself along the lines of many Western countries.

He points in particular to the involvement of the British Special Air Service in the dramatic 1980 Iranian Embassy operation as an example of the army being called in when the police were not thought to be up to the task.

Panjaitan says the government wants to create a crisis center at the presidential palace, separate from the existing National Anti-Terrorism Agency (BNPT), which would make decisions on threat levels and whether to involve the military in any given situation.

"All we want to do is create the right balance," says the retired four-star general, who also acts as Widodo's chief political adviser. "We want to establish an equilibrium for the roles of the police and the military."

Panjaitan rules out formalizing a specific anti-terrorism role for the military's nationwide territorial structure. But he says the retired non-commissioned officers who form the village-level layer, known as babinsa, could still act as "eyes and ears" of the counterterrorism apparatus.

Former president Susilo Bambang Yiudhoyono was furious when he learned that the militants responsible for the 2009 bombing of Jakarta's J.W. Marriott Hotel had been living in a village in Java for four years without anyone reporting their presence.

Security experts estimate 80% of anti-terrorism efforts focus on intelligence, 15% on investigation and only 5% on what they call "door-kicking," though the tactical capabilities involved in that task are crucial.

On that score, there is a significant difference in capabilities between Detachment 81 and its police counterpart, Detachment 88, which was created in the wake of the devastating 2002 Bali bombing and has still performed remarkably well with limited training.

Those limitations became obvious during a joint exercise at a supposed terrorist-held hotel in central Jakarta, where two police commandoes found themselves stuck upside down as they rappelled down the front of the building – in stark contrast to the fast-roping ability of the Kopassus operators.

US instructors and other well-placed sources say that like other specialized units, Detachment 88 has perishable skills which require constant training – something that hasn't been achieved up to now because of a continual turnover of manpower.

This lack of continuity, they say, means the unit has yet to learn the teamwork and expertise needed to take down a building occupied by terrorists, one of the main reasons why the paramilitary force has often been accused of shooting first and asking questions later.

Kopassus appears to have maintained its skill level, despite the 17-year embargo the US imposed on military contacts between the two countries over the bloody events in East Timor in 1991 and later during the then Indonesian territory's vote for independence in 1999.

While Kopassus has vastly improved its human rights record, it will take more time to relax the so-called Leahy Law, named after Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy, which still forbids the Indonesians from engaging in combat training with US special forces.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis promised to re-explore the issue during a visit to Jakarta in late January, where he was treated to a bizarre display of Kopassus soldiers breaking concrete blocks with their heads and drinking the blood of snakes they had killed.

Ironically, when then US President Barrack Obama visited Indonesia for the 2011 East Asia Summit, Kopassus and army regulars occupied the two inner rings of the security cordon at Bali airport, leaving the police outside on the perimeter.

The amended anti-terrorism law aims at bolstering the policy and coordination powers of the BNPT, a 100-strong counterterrorism agency staffed by police and military officers which has proved largely ineffectual since it was established by the Yudhoyono administration in 2010.

Critics say there is no guarantee that giving it more staff and a larger budget will make it any more effective, particularly in the disengagement and de-radicalization of terrorist convicts.

Recidivism within five years of an arrest is surprisingly low, certainly below 10%, but researchers say that has little to do with government programs and more to do with pressure from wives, the birth of a new child or other family circumstances.

On the other hand, the Correction Department's failure to keep convicted militants in isolation and away from the general prison population has led to further terrorist recruitment from among common criminals.

To rectify that shortcoming, the government is building a new maximum security facility on the prison island of Nusakambangan, off Java's southern coast, which will eventually hold 240 of the country's convicted terrorists and other high-risk prisoners.

It is modeled after Louisiana's Pollock federal penitentiary in the US, with one notable exception: it will be surrounded by a moat, which presents potential water-soaked escapees with an additional hazard when negotiating an electrified perimeter fence.

Much will depend, however, on whether the supposedly specially trained guards will make a difference, particularly in preventing the prisoners from using mobile phones, as they have been able to do by paying off wardens in other jails.

The 210-square-kilometer Nusakambangan is already home to seven prisons, including Pasir Putih, which along with Cirebon and Garut in other parts of mainland West Java is one of three facilities currently designated for terrorist convicts.

The island houses up to 1,500 prisoners, including about 60 criminals who face death by firing squad at one of two sites set aside for executions; it was where Bali bombers Imam Samudra, 38, Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, 47, and Al Ghufron, 48, were put to death in 2008.

Now on trial in Jakarta, radical cleric Aman Abdurrahman, 46, could suffer the same fate if he is found guilty of masterminding from behind bars the January 14, 2016, bomb and gun attack in the center of Jakarta which left four militants and four civilians dead.

It was that incident, inspired by the now-faltering Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), that prompted calls for strengthening BNPT's ability to coordinate the 36 different ministries and agencies involved in trying to rein in violent jihadism.

Source: http://www.atimes.com/article/indonesias-military-craves-power/

YIndonesia's anti-gay drive should concern all Asia

Nikkei Asian Review - February 19, 2018

Indonesia's growing moral and political panic about sexuality has now produced draft laws that could criminalize sex outside marriage, and same-sex conduct.

Things may get even worse: One legislator has called for the death penalty for gays and lesbians. Others have cynically attempted to portray criminalization as a means of protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from vigilante violence.

None of this bodes well for a country that proclaims a message of "unity in diversity" on the international stage, seeks to attract foreign investors and draws millions of tourists by promoting itself as a relaxed beach holiday destination.

It is also profoundly concerning for the LGBT people who before 2016 lived peacefully, even piously, among pluralist neighbors.

The roots of Indonesia's rising intolerance lie in the failure of successive governments to effectively respond to harassment, threats and violence by militant Islamists against religious, ethnic and sexual minorities – a trend that should concern all of Asia.

Parliamentarians in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations expressed their concerns in a joint statement on Feb. 7. Teddy Baguilat, a Philippine lawmaker, calling the proposed laws "a blatant violation of all Indonesians' right to privacy and their fundamental liberties."

One strain of the current agitation began in January 2016 when Indonesia's Higher Education Minister Mohammed Nasir tweeted that he wanted to ban all LGBT student groups from university campuses. Within two months, dozens of public officials had contributed to a cascade of anti-LGBT vitriol.

At a maternal-health seminar, a mayor warned young mothers off instant noodles – their attention, he said, should be given to nutritious cooking, which would prevent their kids from becoming gay. Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu labeled LGBT rights activism a proxy war on the nation led by outsiders, and more dangerous than a nuclear war.

Powerful institutions supported the invective. The Indonesian Child Protection Commission issued a decree against "gay propaganda." The Indonesian Psychiatric Association proclaimed homosexuality and transgender identities to be "mental illnesses." And the Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Muslim organization with about 80 million members, called for criminalization of LGBT activism and for "rehabilitation" of gay people.

Sexual and gender minorities in Indonesia have historically lived with intermittent bouts of animosity, but tolerant social attitudes provided a shield that typically prevented violence. The government has never criminalized homosexual conduct, although the lack of legal protections for LGBT people left them vulnerable.

Discriminatory clauses in existing laws were long ignored by authorities – but the spike in anti-LGBT rhetoric has given social sanction to their enforcement. For example, Indonesia's 2008 Pornography Law calls same-sex conduct a "deviant behavior." It was only a matter of time before authorities used it as a tool for repression.

More than 300 Indonesians were arrested in 2017 for alleged LGBT-associated behavior – the majority under the Pornography Law – and countless others have been terrorized in police raids.

In March 2017 unidentified vigilantes forcibly entered an apartment in Aceh province and took two men in their twenties to the Sharia (Islamic law) police for alleged same-sex relations. The men were publicly flogged in the first such whipping in Indonesia's history.

In May, police raided the Atlantis gym and sauna in Jakarta, a well-known gay hangout. 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. There have been many similar raids.

As the repressive acts continued, conservative activists sought to explicitly outlaw all sex outside marriage and same-sex conduct by petitioning the Constitutional Court. The petition posed more than a hypothetical threat.

Some estimates suggest that as many as half of Indonesian couples do not get legally married because of difficulties registering, especially in remote districts, along with discrimination against unrecognized religions. Criminalizing their sex lives could overwhelm the police and prison systems.

In mid-December, Indonesia's Constitutional Court dismissed the petition on technical grounds. However, within 24 hours of the judgment, the North Jakarta district court sentenced eight men arrested at the Atlantis to two or three years in prison.

This year Parliament has entered the fray through a committee charged with revising the criminal code. In January, Parliamentary Speaker Zulkifli Hasan falsely claimed that parliamentarians were discussing legalization of same-sex marriage.

Hasan's statement effectively cornered most politicians into publicly affirming some degree of opposition to LGBT rights. From this chaos emerged a so-called moderate view, proffered by members of President Joko Widodo's party. They suggested a law that allows the prosecution of sex outside marriage and same-sex conduct "only if one of the sexual partners or their family members report the crime to police."

The proposal is being spun as "a firewall," without which, legislators insist, "the public can try to take the law into their own hands" and attack LGBT people.

At a time when countries around the world are progressing towards recognizing basic rights regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status, Indonesia is backsliding even compared with its Asian neighbors.

The economy could be hit. The Financial Times has reported that the government's failure to check Islamist attacks on LGBT people might damage tourism and real estate development. A 2017 study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law noted: "Discrimination against LGBT Indonesians in workplaces, schools, and social opportunities is pervasive and will limit their ability to fully contribute to the Indonesian economy."

Some Indonesian officials tentatively indicated they will defend the rights of LGBT people. National Police Chief Tito Karnavian ordered an investigation into raids on transgender-owned hair salons. Widodo has declared that "there should be no discrimination against anyone," including LGBT people. But these moves are too little and too late to halt rising intolerance.

The committee revising the criminal code has deferred its deliberations until March, giving a temporary reprieve. But Indonesia is at a crossroads and the privacy rights of all Indonesians are at stake. Is it a country of diversity, pluralism, tolerance, and connectivity with its neighbors and the international community? Or does it prefer the politics of scapegoating, at the expense of millions of citizens and its global reputation?

With local and national elections on the horizon, exploiting the moral panic over sexuality may be tempting. But whatever protection it promises LGBT people will be ephemeral, and ultimately lives will be ruined. Widodo has in the past pledged tepid support for the privacy and security of the LGBT community, but the abuses of the past two years remain uninvestigated. His leadership as the public alarm over LGBT grows will be crucial.

[Kyle Knight is a researcher at Human Rights Watch in the LGBT program, and author of the 2016 report "'These Political Games Ruin Our Lives': Indonesia's LGBT Community Under Threat."]

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Viewpoints/Kyle-Knight/Indonesia-s-anti-gay-drive-should-concern-all-Asia

'If Prabowo and Jokowi resort to same old strategies they will only

Mojok - February 18, 2018

"If Jokowi and Prabowo go head to head in 2019, they almost definitely cannot, and should not, repeat the strategies they used in 2014".

Puthut EA – It is almost certain that Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chairperson Prabowo Subianto will again face off against President Joko "Jokowi" Jokowi in the 2019 presidential election.

But the current political situation is quite different from the first time they ran against each other in 2014.

The precursor to this "hottest of battles" is last year's Jakarta gubernatorial election which ended with Anies Baswedan defeating incumbent governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama. The reverberations of this contest are still being felt to this day. The second precursor will be the upcoming simultaneous regional elections.

Because of these "warm ups", Indonesia's social conditions have of course become over heated. In such an excessively heated atmosphere, if the Jokowi vs. Prabowo rematch is not held in an astute and engaging manner, there's a good chance that voters will suffer "dehydration" and psychological fatigue. The political consequence of this could be disastrous: first irrational politics will come to the fore. Or second, voters will become even more apolitical.

Let us look even further ahead. There are several issues that need to be scrutinised. It is almost certain that in terms of campaigns, the two camps will take up the same issues as they did in the 2014 presidential elections and the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election.

For supporters in Prabowo's camp, the issue of religion and Jokowi's alleged links with the defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) will continue to dominate. The supporters in Jokowi's camp meanwhile will continue to take up the issue of diversity and human rights.

But, these issues could in fact harm both camps. The religious issue for example, cannot be used to attack Jokowi because unlike Ahok, who was an ethnic Chinese Christian, Jokowi is a Muslim. And not only does he embrace the religion of Islam, he's known as being a devout Muslim. Trying to corner Jokowi with any kind of religious issue simply will not work.

It has already been demonstrated that the PKI issue can't be used to stop Jokowi from winning. It was used in 2014 and was a proven failure. It would be idiocy for Prabowo's supporters to use these two issues again.

Meanwhile if the diversity (kebinekaan) issue is taken up by Jokowi's supporters it will also be counter-productive because right from the start it can easily be countered. Claims by Jokowi's supports that he is pro-diversity and pluralist will in fact expose the fact that they are not pluralist and his government is even tending towards authoritarianism (fascism).

This was easy to see in the wake of the Jakarta gubernatorial elections, because while Ahok's supporters were quick to exploit pluralism and diversity, the policies of the Ahok administration actually showed the opposite, so they lost the majority of the civil society vote.

The human rights issue also can't be used to attack Prabowo. The simple reason being that during Jokowi first term in office there have been no efforts by the government to bring Prabowo to justice for the human rights violations he was accused of during the 2014 presidential election. So if they repeat this worn out approach, it could instead boomerang back on Jokowi.

The current problem for both camps' supporters is that they are fat around the middle. This "overweight middle" is susceptible to shifting positions and choices. At the same time they are easily dehydrated and fatigued.

This is very clear from a number of surveys. Why for example is the difference between the number of people who are satisfied with Jokowi's performance so much higher than his electability? This means that people are satisfied with Jokowi but if there was a better choice they wouldn't vote for him again.

These survey results cannot of course be applied to Prabowo because he is not in power. What kind of survey tool could test the public's level of satisfaction with Prabowo performance?

The fluidity and "fat" of voters around the middle cannot be ignored however because there is another statistical fact regarding Prabowo. Several surveys show that people who voted for Prabowo in 2014 are no longer interested in voting for him again. In simple language, for a number of reasons Prabowo tends to be abandoned by his long-term vote base.

It is on this point that both camps have to be careful about what strategy they apply. Meaning that what could eventuate is that the supporters of the two competing camps shrink at both poles and become smaller and more isolated from voters. Especially so if they use the same old jargon and strategies (the issue of religion and the PKI by Prabowo's supporters and diversity and human rights by Jokowi's supporters).

This isolation of supporters in the two camps will also automatically "imprison" and isolate Prabowo and Jokowi as well.

Supporters in both camps will become even more isolated if for example Jokowi tries to clear away or silence critical voices in civil society, whether it be in the name of the Palace, political stability or whatever. This is already happening quite a lot. Moreover many among Jokowi's supporters themselves are embarrassed by this strategy because it will only harm Jokowi. It's just cheap. As the saying goes, "If you're going to lick arse, don't go too far...".

Lashing out at activists, social figures and the scientific community who are critical of Jokowi is counter-productive. This would be very foolish because in an electoral democracy, criticism is not always the same as voting preferences. Jokowi is criticised by people but they still vote for him. But, if his supporters stifle this democratic mechanism, Jokowi will be abandoned by his critical supporters. Of course this does not automatically mean that the votes of his critical supporters will go to Jokowi's opponent. But their absense will be a disaster for Jokowi in the same way as it was a disaster for Ahok in the Jakarta election. Perhaps Jokowi's supporters need to become better acquainted with the temperament of Indonesian civil society, and what the meaning of "critical support" actually is.

There is a similar problem among Prabowo's supporters. Identity politics is indeed coming to the fore. But, Indonesia is not Jakarta and the 2019 presidential election will not be the same as the 2017 Jakarta elections. If religion is offered up as the main dish, voters will further distance themselves from Prabowo. Especially since there has been a series of incidents that directly link the unhealthiness of religion being used as a political issue in people's daily lives. Indonesia has grown intellectually and old methods which are repackaged will only create a backlash against their creators.

It is increasingly clear for both camps that applying the wrong strategy has the potential to damage and isolate both Prabowo and Jokowi. Meanwhile the political reality right now is that these are the only two candidates with any real potential to face off against each other in the presidential elections. There is no, or at least not yet, any alternative candidates. And even if there were, the likelihood of their being elected is extremely low.

And the other issue that they should be on guard against is if the public begins to suffer from "political fatigue". The dust hasn't even settled yet on the Jakarta gubernatorial elections and the public will soon be faced by simultaneous regional elections in 171 electoral districts followed by simultaneous presidential and legislative elections in 2019.

This fatigue, added to by voter's alienation from the two competing camps, plus wounds that are increasingly difficult to heal, will force a majority of Indonesian voters into the unhealthy alternatives of becoming either irrational or apolitical.

This has already begun to be apparent from research on social media trends, where people who talk electoral politics are un-friended, un-followed and un-liked. If this kind of thing is not carefully considered, voter interest in the 2019 presidential contest will be low and its destructive effects greater. Because it is not easy to map out the political shifts if a society is apolitical and irrational.

But this is, once again, is not the fault of voters. They're just plain worn out. And are becoming more so in the face of cheap and foolish strategies on the part of both camps' supporters. Or more accurately, the two camps have forced this onto voters by the stupidity of their political strategies.

While there is still enough time, it would be advisable if the creators of the two camps' strategies try to find a fresh theme, a new outlook and approach. Because, Indonesia doesn't just need elections, it also needs a healthy and thriving democracy.

Puthut EA is a writer and social researcher. He has written numerous books and short stories in the Indonesian media and established Mojok.co as an alternative website which is popular among social and political critics.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Makin Terisolasinya Jokowi dan Prabowo dalam Masyarakat yang Letih".]

Source: https://mojok.co/puthut-ea/esai/makin-terisolasinya-jokowi-dan-prabowo-dalam-masyarakat-yang-letih/

Sensitivity as Indonesia grapples with a measles outbreak in Papua

The Interpreter - February 16, 2018

Kate Walton – The Indonesian Government is grappling with a measles outbreak in the Papuan district of Asmat, where at least 65 children have died since the epidemic began in October.

Almost 600 people, including adults, have been treated for the disease in the remote highland district, with hundreds hospitalised in the district's capital, Agats. Many are also reportedly suffering from malaria and severe malnutrition.

Criticism levelled at the government has not been taken well. Papua has always been a sensitive issue, primarily due to region's separatist movement, but criticism has now extended to the efforts of the Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo administration to develop the region. The local immigration office detained a BBC Indonesia journalist, Australian Rebecca Henschke, after she tweeted photographs from Asmat. Henschke was ordered to leave the province, and her passport was confiscated, after allegedly offending the feelings of soldiers assisting the Asmat relief program.

Unfortunately, the aid is probably too little, too late. After news of measles-related deaths broke into the mainstream media in mid-January, the military, Ministry of Health, and Coordinating Ministry of Human Development and Culture quickly dispatched medical teams and food supplies to Asmat. Humanitarian workers say health problems have long been evident, and that the government simply choses to look elsewhere, focusing on quick-win solutions to gain political favour rather than on long-term development.

The political sensitives make those responding to the crisis reluctant to speak out. "The measles outbreak in Asmat is caused by a drop in the quality of basic healthcare," said a Papua-based development worker who visits Asmat frequently. "Health services at community health centres are provided on a needs-only basis, and the quality is getting worse, so there is little knowledge of what really lies behind problems like these."

Measles vaccinations are freely available to all children at community health centres across Indonesia, but coverage is low in Asmat. This is not only due to the region's geography, with many facilities accessible to villagers only via long and expensive speedboat trips, but also to a lack of qualified health workers. Mobile health facilities and village-based vaccination clinics are rare, and locals complain that health workers rarely show up to work. Many are not provided with adequate housing and are forced to travel up to two hours each way to and from work. Others refuse to live nearby because of a lack of security; inter-family and inter-tribal conflict is common across the province. Even when staff do make it to the health centres, opening hours are short and medicines are limited.

"Only some of the 16 community health centres in Asmat have doctors," the development worker explained. "It is difficult to reach many of the centres – you have to travel by boat... But the decrease in health services is caused by many factors, including low health worker competencies, lack of budgetary transparency, and [lack of] data." She also commented that the Asmat District Health Office works slowly and inefficiently, with many of its staff uninterested in their work.

Papua and West Papua continually place last in Indonesia when it comes to human development, despite large local budgets resulting from the regions' special autonomy. Major infrastructural improvements are underway, such as the Trans-Papua Road and multiple new seaports and airports. But public services, such as health and education, remain of poor quality. Asmat has a Human Development Index (HDI) ranking of only 47.31, placing the district below Afghanistan (47.9) and just above the Democratic Republic of the Congo (43.5).

The national government has placed a priority on developing remote regions, such as Papua and West Papua, under the Jokowi administration, and the two provinces have significant annual budgets. Papua Province alone has a budget of IDR 56.85 trillion (approximately US$4 billion) in 2018; 25% of that goes to the provincial government, with the remaining 75% transferred directly to districts, cities, and villages for their own use.

At a press conference in January, the Ministry of Health's Head of Public Services, Dr Oscar Primadi, blamed Papua's situation on its uniqueness. "Residents are spread all over the place in Papua," he said. "The social, cultural, and geographic sides [of Papua] are problems in themselves." Dr Primadi also stated that many Papuans refuse to visit health centres or vaccinate their children.

Worryingly, Jokowi appears to agree, even suggesting in January that villagers should be relocated to Agats rather than continue living traditional lifestyles. His argument is that they would be able to access services and facilities more easily in the capital.

Mahlil Ruby, an expert who regularly works with the Ministry of Health, believes the solution is not that simple:

"There is not enough awareness-raising from health workers. The people do not know about vaccinations, so it is normal that they are afraid. It takes time, and health workers must be patient and help build understanding. Where are the programs that do this? There aren't any. 70% of the blame lays at the feet of the government. Immunisation is the government's responsibility."

While there may be significant focus on Asmat at the moment, this is not a one-off occurrence but a long-term problem across eastern Indonesia. The same health problems have killed almost 30 people in the Bintang Mountains Regency, approximately 300 kilometres from Asmat, while 16 other districts have been named by the Ministry of Health as having the pre-conditions (measles and malnutrition) for similarly high mortality rates.

While there is no denying that providing services to residents in remote locations is difficult, the government plainly needs to reassess its development priorities in the coming months.

Source: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/sensitivity-indonesia-grapples-measles-outbreak-papua

Home | Site Map | Calendar & Events | News Services | Resources & Links | Contact Us