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Indonesia News Digest 8 – February 22-28, 2018

Aceh Military ties Human rights & justice 1965 anti-communist purge Labour & migrant workers Political parties & elections Blasphemy, fake news & hate speech Surveys & opinion polls Environment & natural disasters LBGT & same-sex marriage Terrorism & religious extremism Vigilante & para-military groups Freedom of religion & worship Politics & religion Parliament & legislation Jakarta & urban life Retail & service industry Criminal justice & legal system Foreign affairs & trade Mining & energy Analysis & opinion

Aceh

Christian couple publicly caned in Indonesia's Banda Aceh for gambling

Straits Times - February 28, 2018

Jakarta – Authorities in Banda Aceh caned a non-Muslim married couple on Tuesday (Feb 27) after the two were arrested for gambling at an entertainment centre in the capital of Aceh.

The Aceh Sharia Court sentenced the Christian couple, identified as Dahlan Sili Tongga, 61, and Tjia Nyuk Hwa, 45, to eight and seven lashes respectively for violating provincial laws.

Aceh is the only province that upholds sharia, although non-Muslims found guilty of committing crimes that are regulated under the Criminal Code such as gambling can choose to either be punished by incarceration as stipulated under the code or under provincial sharia.

The couple were found guilty of violating a jinayat (Islamic bylaw) on gambling. The caning took place outside the Babussalam Mosque in Lampaseh Aceh, Meuraxa.

Each lash is the equivalent of one month's incarceration, thus the Christian couple were said to have preferred to receive corporal punishment.

The court also sentenced a 67-year-old man, Ridwan, to 22 lashes for allowing gambling to take place on his premises. The authorities confiscated coins, vouchers and cash from Ridwan.

The court also convicted unmarried couple Muzakkir and Cut Hamidar for khalwat (affectionate contact between an unmarried couple). The couple received 25 lashes each.

"This punishment shows our commitment (to implementing sharia). We want to create a deterrent so that other people do not violate sharia," Banda Aceh Mayor Aminullah Usman said, adding that the caning was deliberately carried out in an open space so that the public could see it.

"This is different to imprisonment, in which the public can't see (the convicts being punished)," he said, adding that he called on people to report any violations of sharia to local authorities.

– The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/christian-couple-publicly-caned-in-indonesias-banda-aceh-for-gambling

Prisoners caned for 'adultery and gambling' as people film punishment on

Agence France Presse - February 27, 2018

Two Indonesian Christians were publicly flogged in conservative Aceh province Tuesday for playing a children's entertainment game seen as violating Islamic law, as hundreds of onlookers ridiculed them and took pictures.

The pair were among five people – including a couple whipped two dozen times each for showing affection in public – who were lashed with a rattan stick.

Aceh is the only province in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes sharia law and people can be flogged for a range of offences – from gambling, to drinking alcohol to having gay sex or relations outside of marriage.

Five Acehnese people, two of them Christian, were punished for adultery and gambling, receiving between six and twenty two lashes.

On Tuesday, Dahlan Silitonga, 61, and Tjia Nyuk Hwa, 45, were flogged six and seven times respectively after being arrested for playing a long-standing game at a children's entertainment complex that lets users exchange coins for prizes or vouchers, including cash.

The pair were accused of gambling while another man Ridwan MR got 19 lashes for being involved in the game.

'This is to create a deterrent effect, in order for people not to repeat violations of Islamic sharia law,' Banda Aceh's mayor Aminullah Usman said. 'We purposely do it in front of the public... so it won't happen again.'

About 300 spectators, including some two dozen tourists from neighbouring Malaysia, jeered the gambling-accused trio as they were whipped on a makeshift stage outside a mosque. 'You are old, show remorse,' the crowd screamed.

Non-Muslim Tjia Nyuk Hwa tried to hide her face in a specially provided white cloak with head-covering hijab.

The two Christians are among just a handful of non-Muslims to be punished under Aceh's strict religious law since it was adopted in 2001 as part of a deal with the central government to end a long-running insurgency.

In January, an Indonesian Christian was flogged for selling alcohol in the province at the tip of Sumatra island, which made headlines recently after local police publicly humiliated a group of transgender women.

About 98 percent of Aceh's five million residents are Muslims subject to religious law.

Non-Muslims who have committed an offence that violates both national and religious laws can choose to be prosecuted under either system.

Christians and other non-Muslims sometimes choose a flogging to avoid a lengthy court process and jail term.

Aceh is the only province in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, which implements Islamic law, or Sharia.

Last year, two gay men who admitted having sex were flogged in Aceh, with each receiving 100 strokes of the cane, drawing heavy criticism from rights groups.

Gay sex is not illegal in the rest of Indonesia, which mainly follows a criminal code inherited from former colonial ruler the Netherlands.

The province of Banda Aceh began implementing Sharia law after being granted autonomy in 2001 – an attempt by the government in Jakarta to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.

Islamic laws have been strengthened since Aceh struck a peace deal with Jakarta in 2005.

People are flogged for a range of offences including gambling, drinking alcohol, gay sex or any sexual relationship outside marriage.

More than 90 per cent of the 255 million people who live in Indonesia describe themselves as Muslim, but the vast majority practice a moderate form of the faith.

The brutal and public beatings have become more prevalent this year with a number of reported incidents of those being punished collapsing in pain on stage.

Back in September 2014, Aceh approved an anti-homosexuality law that can punish anyone caught having gay sex with 100 lashes.

After a three-decade-old separatist movement, a peace agreement signed in 2005 granted special autonomy to Aceh, at the northern tip of Sumatra, on condition that it remained part of the sprawling archipelago.

As part of that deal, Aceh won the right to be the only Indonesian province to use Islamic sharia law as its legal code.

Anybody caught engaging in consensual gay sex is punished with 100 lashes, 100 months in jail or a fine of 1,000 grams of gold.

The law also set out punishment for sex crimes, unmarried people engaging in displays of affection, people caught found guilty of adultery and underage sex.

Religious police in Aceh have been known to target Muslim women without head scarves or those wearing tight clothes, and people drinking alcohol or gambling.

Over the past decade, the central government has devolved more power to regional authorities to increase autonomy and speed up development.

Engaging in homosexual acts is not a crime under Indonesia's national criminal code but remains taboo in many conservative parts of the country with the world's largest Muslim population.

The trend appeared to be slowing down after a string of worrying incidents at the turn of the new year, but the new pictures reveal the practice still looms large in Indonesia.

Men and women have collapsed in pain due to the severity of their injuries and people can be caned for something as innocent as standing too close to a partner in public or being seen alone with someone they are not married to.

In the past two years or so, MailOnline has reported on the troubling rising trend of public lashings carried out in Aceh, Indonesia:

[The original title of this article was " Prisoners are dragged on stage, forced to kneel and lashed with a cane for 'adultery and gambling' as people film the brutal punishment with their mobile phones in Indonesia".]

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5439727/Indonesian-Christians-whipped-sharia-banned-childs-play.html

Military ties

US moving to restore ties with blacklisted Indonesian army unit

Eurasia Review - February 28, 2018

Roni Toldanes and Arie Firdaus – The United States is taking steps to resume training with Indonesian special forces unit Kopassus, American officials said, after suspending military ties nearly two decades ago over human rights concerns.

The two governments are working through a process under American law that would allow Washington to re-establish military-to-military contact with Indonesia's elite army unit, U.S. Defense and State Department officials told BenarNews.

"We are going through the process of what is called 'remediation,'" Lt. Col. Chris Logan, spokesman for the Pentagon, said during a phone interview when asked to confirm reports that the U.S. military was restoring training with Kopassus.

"[T]hat is the desire in the States. But there are regulations we have to follow to be able to work with them."

In Jakarta, a spokesman for the U.S. embassy said last month's visit by Defense Secretary James Mattis had demonstrated that "we are committed to deepening our defense cooperation with Indonesia and are seeking opportunities for further engagement in various areas."

"All engagement activities are conducted in accordance with U.S. law," the spokesman told BenarNews via email. "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."

Tying aid to rights

Under the so-called "Leahy Laws," which the U.S. Congress began to implement in 1998, Washington cut ties with Kopassus the following year over allegations that its forces had killed civilians and committed rights abuses in Indonesian-occupied East Timor as well as the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and West Papua.

The laws attach human rights conditions to congressional appropriations of U.S. military aid to foreign countries.

Under the Leahy Laws, Congress can prohibit U.S. assistance to any security unit of a foreign country, if there is evidence that it committed "a gross violation of human rights." This can include extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances.

The laws, codified under the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, allow for the Defense and State departments to resume aid to and ties with a blacklisted unit through a "joint policy on remediation."

According to a State Department fact sheet on these laws, remediation "can occur when the Departments determine that the government of that country has taken, or is taking, effective measures to bring those responsible to justice" through investigations, prosecutions or administrative actions, among other things.

"We will abide by all the regulations in order to be able to work with all the military forces in Indonesia," said Logan, with the Pentagon.

"[W]hat it comes down to is we have to have a legitimate plan that would allow us to have a military-to-military engagement with them. We will not be able to do that until we have done this process," he added.

'No problem': Indonesian security minister

The interviews with U.S. officials followed recent comments about Kopassus by Wiranto, Indonesia's security minister and the former chief of its armed forces.

Last week, he told reporters that American restrictions on the unit had been lifted and the U.S. military would soon take part again with Kopassus in training exercises, after a 19-year hiatus.

"Yes, no more [restrictions on Kopassus]," Wiranto said. "It's been a month when I met a special envoy from the U.S. and we talked about it, there is no problem."

Wiranto made the remarks a day after a meeting between U.S. Ambassador Joseph R. Donovan and Moeldoko, President Jokowi's chief of staff.

Donovan said then that the United States was planning to resume a military training program with Kopassus, according to the Moeldoko's office.

Questions about accountability

However, it remained unclear whether any former Kopassus members, who had been accused of committing rights abuses while serving with the unit, would be brought to justice ahead of any restoration of full military ties.

Wiranto served as chief of the Indonesian military in 1999, when Kopassus was accused of carrying out abuses in East Timor, as people there voted in a U.N.-backed referendum to break free of Jakarta's rule.

Since the U.S. blacklisted Kopassus that year, some veterans from the unit have risen to prominent roles in Indonesian politics.

These include Prabowo Subianto, a former Kopassus commander whose forces were accused of killing civilians in Dili, the capital of East Timor, in 1983, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). In 2014, Prabowo, the chief of the Gerindra party, lost the presidential election to Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. Prabowo is also the former son-in-law of Suharto, Indonesia's late dictator who ruled for 32 years.

Another ex-Kopassus officer, Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, who served as deputy defense minister from 2010 till 2014, was allegedly involved with the unit in abducting student activists in Jakarta in 1997 and 1998, as well as abuses in East Timor in 1991 and 1999, HRW said.

"Those who are responsible still need to be brought to justice," Usman Hamid, the director of the Indonesian chapter of Amnesty International, told BenarNews.

Still, the prospect of ties being renewed between the U.S. military and the Indonesian special forces unit could help improve the image of Kopassus, according to a local analyst.

"[T]he resumption of cooperation can provide a good name for Kopassus and the Indonesian government because Kopassus has always been linked to human rights violations," said Muradi, a military expert based at Padjadjaran University in West Java.

Source: http://www.eurasiareview.com/28022018-us-moving-to-restore-ties-with-blacklisted-indonesian-army-unit/

Human rights & justice

Revised criminal code will impact human rights in Indonesia

Jakarta Globe - February 23, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – The finalization of the current draft revisions to the criminal code, or KUHP, will have a serious impact on human rights in the archipelago, Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, warned on Thursday (22/02).

"There has not been an indication that any of the political parties [at the House of Representatives] will call off the revisions, so there's a big chance it will be passed. When that happens, there are four negative possibilities toward human rights," Usman told reporters at a press conference in Jakarta.

The impacts include discriminatory local regulations at the provincial level, rising discriminatory speech or expression, increased imprisonment and persecution.

"[The revised criminal code] will provoke a reaction from groups that were behind hate-filled politics in the country, in which they will start their own vigilante acts," Usman said.

He expressed hope that the draft revisions will not be passed, and said that the central government must step in to revoke it.

"There hasn't been one political party that has objected to the substance of the draft revisions of the criminal code, whether in the name of protecting press freedom or minority rights, or on other articles in the draft that's considered problematic," Usman noted.

If the revisions were to pass, Usman said they must not be implemented, although he added that such a situation will be challenging.

Fajrimei A. Gofar, a deputy from the Office of Presidential Staff (KSP), acknowledged that there are notable lapses in the current revisions and said his office is keeping a close watch of the ongoing revisions.

"KSP is keeping a close watch on these revisions, especially to avoid this from becoming a bad legacy of the current administration," Fajrimei said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/revised-criminal-code-will-impact-human-rights-indonesia/

Gov't fails to address past human rights abuses: Report

Jakarta Globe - February 23, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – Indonesia failed to address past human rights violations despite promises from top officials and commitments by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, a new report on Thursday (22/02) showed.

"This is one of President Jokowi's campaign promises that he has yet to fulfill, which is to resolve past human rights violations," Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said during a press conference in Jakarta.

In 2015, Jokowi announced that the government would form a reconciliation commission to address past human rights abuses, though it has yet to be seen in practice.

In fact, the Jakarta Administrative Court overturned a decision by the Public Information Commission to publish a report on the 2004 murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, on the grounds that the current administration did not receive the report from its predecessor.

"In August, the Supreme Court upheld the Administrative Court's decision," the report said.

In May, when Indonesia's human rights record was examined under the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, the government promised that the Attorney General would finalize a criminal investigation into human rights violations in Wasior, West Papua, in 2001 and Wamena, Papua, in 2003.

The report published by Amnesty International – The State of the World's Human Rights – noted that the government's promises during the UPR have not been upheld by the end of last year.

Indonesia rejected, among other things, calls to investigate past human rights violations, during the UN review.

Concerns over impunity for perpetrators of past human rights abuses in Indonesia have also been part of the discussions rejecting current draft revisions to the country's criminal code.

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) earlier this month suggested that extraordinary crimes will be better addressed in a separate regulation, instead of including it in the revised criminal code.

Furthermore, several incidents last year also point to a seemingly lack of understanding from authorities on the pursuit of justice in cases of human rights violations, such as the disruption and ban of events related to discussions of the 1965 violations in August and September.

Read the full Amnesty International report here: https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/asia-and-the-pacific/indonesia/report-indonesia/

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/govt-fails-address-past-human-rights-abuses-report/

1965 anti-communist purge

Komnas HAM collects 162 graves data of 1965 massacre victims

Tempo - February 22, 2018

M Yusuf Manurung, Jakarta – The Human Rights Commission or Komnas HAM is still processing the report on the findings of 162 mass grave sites of 1965 massacre victims.

"As far as I know, the data is still being collected, it is only still from one side and there are reports from other groups," said Deputy Chairman of Komnas HAM's External Affairs, Sandrayati Moniaga, at Amnesty International office, Central Jakarta, Thursday, February 22.

Previously, as published in Koran Tempo, Chairman of Research Foundation for Victims of 1965 Massacre (YPKP 65), Bedjo Untung, visited Komnas HAM on January 22, to urge the settlement of the human rights cases including the report of the mass graves.

Bedjo Untung urged Komnas HAM to verify the assessment of the location and the victims that were killed in the grave. At the mass grave, forensic testing can also be done on the framework of the remaining victims for subsequent transfer to a decent place.

Besides, the YPKP 65 also asked Komnas HAM to immediately form an investigation team to reveal the human rights violations occurred on the Buru Island, Maluku. The location allegedly stored a lot of data and complete evidence of the crimes against humanity.

Bedjo revealed that former President Soeharto once issued a letter as Commander of the Security and Order Restoration No. KEP 009/Kopkam/2/1969 which established Buru Island as a place of detention for people suspected to be communist.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/22/055915976/Komnas-HAM-Collects-162-Graves-Data-of-1965-Massacre-Victims

Labour & migrant workers

IMF chief calls on RI to increase number of females in labor force

Jakarta Post - February 26, 2018

Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta – International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde on Monday called on Indonesia to empower more women to increase their number in the labor force.

Lagarde was taken to Tanah Abang market in Central Jakarta, which is Southeast Asia's biggest textile market, by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

She was impressed by the number of woman working in the market and said she would be happy to see more participate in the labor force on her return for the IMF-World Bank Annual Meeting in October in Bali.

"I hope that during my next visit to Indonesia in October, there will be even more women in the labor force," Lagarde added.

The National Planning Agency said in 2015, only 49 percent of the women productive population (the labor force participation rate for females) was a part of the labor force. That meant only 49 percent of females in the productive age of between 15 and 64 entered the labor market.

The number was lower compared to the total labor participation rate that reached 66 percent.

Under the Indonesian 2045 vision, the government is targeting the labor force participation rate for females to increase to 73 percent, while the total labor force participation is targeted higher than 80 percent.

"Our female participation is good but not good enough for developed countries' standards. We have to increase it again," National Development Planning Minister Bambang PS Brodjonegoro said. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/26/imf-chief-calls-on-ri-to-increase-number-of-females-in-labor-force.html

IMF chief calls on Indonesia to boost growth rate to absorb workers

Reuters - February 26, 2018

David Lawder, Jakarta – International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Monday called on Indonesia to boost its potential growth rate and channel revenues to more development spending to help create jobs for its growing labor force.

After meeting with President Joko Widodo at the start of a week-long trip to Indonesia, Lagarde praised the country's economic management and stronger policies.

"Indonesia's economy continues to prove resilient with a sound economic performance and favorable outlook," she said in a statement issued after the meeting.

But in recent years, Indonesia has struggled to get its growth rate to exceed 5 percent, well below the pace of China and India, amid tepid consumer demand and foreign direct investment.

GDP growth failed to meet the government's 5.2 percent budget target last year and the IMF is forecasting that Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy, will grow by 5.3 percent in 2018.

Lagarde said she and Widodo discussed the importance of achieving higher potential growth to help create jobs, adding "This requires mobilizing revenues to finance development spending and support reforms in the product, labor and financial markets."

In its recent annual review of Indonesia's policies, the Fund said the government should focus on financing infrastructure with domestic revenue in order to avoid a build-up of external debt.

Lagarde, whose visit comes two decades after a painful IMF bail-out imposed harsh austerity on Indonesia, praised the country's greatly expanded health care system during a hospital visit.

Widodo also took her shopping at a crowded Jakarta textiles market, along with Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

The IMF chief on Tuesday will participate in an economic conference, featuring central bankers and other officials from ASEAN countries, focused on new growth models and adjusting to rapidly changing technologies.

She also plans to visit the city of Yogyakarta in Java and the island of Bali, where the IMF will hold its annual meetings in October.

[Reporting by David Lawder and Maikel Jefriando; Editing by Richard Borsuk.]

Source: https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-imf/imf-chief-calls-on-indonesia-to-boost-growth-rate-to-absorb-workers-idUKKCN1GA0YU

Lack of knowledge, migrant workers without documents increasing

Tempo - February 26, 2018

Chitra Paramesti, Jakarta – National Secretary of the Migrant Workers Network Savitri Wisnuwardhani said the number case of migrant workers abroad without complete documents is increasing. "From 2016 to 2017 it has increased to 254 cases," she said at the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) on Sunday, February 25.

There are 133 people without documents in 2016 and in 2017 it increases to 384 cases. Most migrant workers who have problems with immigration documents, did not understand about the visa. "They think passport ownership is a document that can guarantee them to work abroad."

Savitri said some workers who went abroad with complete documents became problematic when running away from work. "Because their documents are held by their employers." When they fled, they did not bring documents, so they became migrant workers without documents.

The death cases of migrant workers abroad also become the focus of the Migrant Workers Network. Every year, the dead workers are increasing. In 2016, there were 190 workers who died and increased to 217 in 2017. "This data did not mention the cause of death," Savitri said.

Taiwan and Malaysia became the destination countries with the most labor deaths. In addition, countries in the Middle East contributed to the number of deaths of Indonesian migrant workers.

The Migrant Labor Network calls on governments, especially local governments, to understand labor issues. According to Savitri, the government, especially the village government as the owner of the pockets of migrant workers, does not provide full socialization to the villagers. "Many people do not understand the right path to work abroad."

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/26/055916049/Lack-of-Knowledge-Migrant-Workers-Without-Documents-Increasing

Indonesian maid's death highlights failure to protect helpers

Agence France Presse - February 25, 2018

Trafficked to Malaysia, forced to sleep outside with a dog before dying from serious injuries – the latest abuse case involving an Indonesian maid highlights a failure to protect domestic helpers despite repeated government pledges, critics say.

Adelina Sau died earlier this month in hospital a day after being rescued from her employer's house in Malaysia's Penang state, with wounds covering her body.

Her 60-year-old employer was charged with her murder this week, and in Indonesia, two people have been arrested on human-trafficking charges for allegedly using fake documents to send her abroad.

About 2.5 million Indonesians work in more affluent Malaysia – many illegally – in sectors ranging from agriculture to construction, including an estimated 400,000 female domestic helpers.

Allegations of abuse are common. These range from overwork, to beatings and sexual abuse, and the issue is a regular diplomatic flashpoint between the Southeast Asian neighbors.

Sau's death sparked widespread anger in Indonesia. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has branded it unacceptable while Jakarta is reportedly considering reimposing a ban on sending domestic helpers to Malaysia.

Jakarta last banned sending maids to Malaysia in 2009 after a series of shocking cases, only lifting the measure two years later following lengthy negotiations that resulted in an agreement to give Indonesian helpers better conditions.

However, abuse and exploitation is still regularly reported, and activists lament that pledges made to better protect maids appear to have had little effect.

Glorene Das, executive director of Tenaganita, a Malaysian rights group that deals with migrant workers' cases, said Sau's death was "symptomatic of a widespread and deep-seated malaise in our society".

She said there was an "utter disregard for the dignity and rights of migrant workers in general and migrant domestic workers in particular".

String of abuse cases

There has been a string of headline-grabbing abuse cases in recent years involving maids in Malaysia and other Asian countries where helpers are employed.

In 2014, a Malaysian couple were sentenced to hang for starving their Indonesian maid, Isti Komariyah, who weighed just 26 kilograms (57 pounds) when she died.

The plight of Indonesian helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih in Hong Kong, who was badly beaten and starved by her employer, sparked international outrage and made her the face of a movement fighting to force change for the city's army of maids.

And the death of a Filipina maid in Kuwait, whose body was found this month stuffed in a freezer, has sparked outrage in the Philippines and prompted the government to impose a departure ban on Filipinos planning to work in the country.

In Malaysia, Tenaganita believes a major cause of the problems is that maids lack proper legal protection.

Das said that a 1995 employment law supposed to protect domestic workers defines them as "servants" rather than workers, meaning some employers have few qualms about meting out abuse.

Live-in Indonesian maids in Malaysia earn as little as around 1,000 ringgit ($250) a month, far lower than in wealthier places such as Hong Kong or Singapore.

'Chaos' and corruption

But critics say the problems in Indonesia are just as bad, with authorities failing to protect poor women from being illegally trafficked abroad.

Wahyu Susilo, executive director of Indonesian NGO Migrant Care, said there was "chaos" in the recruitment process. "There is a tendency to falsify documents to speed up the process and ignore rules about age limits," he told AFP.

Domestic helpers are legally meant to be at least 21 to work abroad but many are younger.

Sau – from a remote village in impoverished East Nusa Tenggara province – was believed to be 19 when she died, and her family claims an unscrupulous recruiter falsified documents to make it look like she was six years older.

Susilo added there was little oversight of recruiters in poor villages such as Sau's where women are commonly hired, and corrupt officials were sometimes involved in illegally sending helpers abroad.

Activists accuse governments in both countries of failing to take the issue seriously, pointing out that the deal struck in 2011 to improve maids' conditions in order to lift the ban had expired two years ago.

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has insisted Sau's death was an isolated case and called for a new deal to replace the 2011 agreement. "We are concerned about the welfare of maids from Indonesia," he said.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/indonesian-maids-death-highlights-failure-protect-helpers/

Political parties & elections

Democrats moving closer to Indonesia's President Jokowi as election

Straits Times - February 28, 2018

Jakarta – In a move that would further boost President Joko Widodo's standing in the 2019 presidential election, the Democratic Party (PD) has reportedly been laying the groundwork for an alliance with the President's party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

Under the direction of party chairman and former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who led the nation from 2004 to 2014, the second-largest opposition party has been intensifying its lobbying effort to forge an agreement with the PDI-P, which just officially declared its support for Joko's re-election bid.

Democratic Party and PDI-P executives have confirmed that Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, the eldest son of former president Yudhoyono, is planning to soon hold a meeting with Prananda Prabowo, the son of PDI-P chairman Megawati Sukarnoputri, though they have yet to set a date.

"We have begun communicating but have yet to schedule the meeting between (Agus and Prananda)," Democratic Party deputy chairman Nurhayati Ali Assegaf said on Tuesday (Feb 27).

President Joko, popularly known as Jokowi, has secured the support of five political parties: the PDI-P, the Golkar Party, the NasDem Party, the Hanura Party and the United Development Party. Together, they control about 52 per cent of seats at the House of Representatives.

The Democratic Party holds 8.6 per cent of House seats, making it the fourth-largest party after the PDI-P, Golkar and the Gerindra Party.

With just six months to go before the General Elections Commission closes registration for the 2019 presidential election, political parties are scrambling to find coalition partners.

As of now, only Gerindra has publicly announced its intention to challenge Jokowi in 2019 by nominating its leader, Prabowo Subianto, who lost to Jokowi in the 2014 presidential election, as its presidential candidate again.

The Democrats, the National Mandate Party, the Prosperous Justice Party and the National Awakening Party have yet to decide whether to back Jokowi or Prabowo, or come up with a third candidate.

However, in a strong signal that the Democratic Party is inclined to endorse Jokowi, a top party official suggested that building an alliance with the PDI-P would be good for the nation.

"Collaboration between two nationalist parties, such as the PDI-P and the PD, is badly needed," Democratic Party secretary-general Rachland Nashidik told The Jakarta Post.

The PDI-P, meanwhile, said it was open to forging an alliance with the Democrats. "The PD is an influential party in the country. We won't rule out any possibilities, particularly in the current political situation," PDI-P central executive board chairman Andreas Pareira said.

He also did not rule out the possibility of pairing Jokowi with Yudhoyono's son, saying, "Agus has experienced a political contest during the Jakarta election. He is widely known. We'll see later if he is ready to face bigger political competition."

Agus has long been groomed to be the political heir of Yudhoyono and is therefore a potential presidential candidate. His participation in the Jakarta election last year was widely seen as part of Yudhoyono's and the party's effort to give his son more exposure ahead of the 2019 presidential election.

The Democratic Party has assigned Agus to lead a task force charged with preparing the party for the 2018 regional elections and 2019 presidential and legislative elections. Agus has also built good relations with the First Family, having visited Jokowi's son Gibran Rakabuming at the State Palace to ask him to attend the opening ceremony of think tank Yudhoyono Institute.

"The PD believes it is necessary to make Agus a presidential candidate. That is for the future of the party," Rachland said.

Jokowi has yet to decide who he will pick as his running mate, though speculation is rife that he might run with Vice-President Jusuf Kalla again to avoid upsetting the parties that support him. Should Kalla be the VP candidate, the real battle for national leadership would likely take place in 2024.

While the Democratic Party might announce Agus as its presidential candidate during its upcoming national meeting on March 11, the former Army major might only be able to contend in 2024.

– The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/democrats-moving-closer-to-jokowi-as-election-nears

Cendana returns: Longing for the Suharto days

Tempo - February 27, 2018

Jakarta – Hutomo Mandala Putra, better known as Tommy Suharto, is grateful that the Berkarya Party was given number seven on the 2019 general election ballot. For Tommy, the number is a sign that his party will likely do well.

"All the other parties got unlucky numbers, and we received the 'good' number seven. Hopefully, our election results will also be good," said Tommy, 55, during the party's thanksgiving event at the Granadi Building in Kuningan, South Jakarta, last Monday.

Once the Berkarya Party qualified for the general election, Tommy began encouraging party cadres to work diligently. The next goal is to win seats in the parliament, whether in the House of Representatives (DPR) or the Regional Representatives Council (DPRD). "We're working hard to win as many seats as possible," said the party's chair of the advisory board.

Tommy hopes the party will be able to take part in budget planning by having power in the parliament and placing its cadres as regional heads. "Programs in the national and regional budgets must benefit the 'small' people and not just a handful," he said.

He then compared Indonesian President Joko Widodo's administration to that of his father, Suharto. During Suharto's era, said Tommy, the national debt was about US$54 billion, but today the debt is seven times greater. "If the President or finance minister were asked when it will be paid off, no one would know," he said.

But perhaps Tommy has not looked hard enough at the figures. At the time of his father's downfall, Suharto left behind a debt of US$68.7 billion, or about Rp551.4 trillion, at the exchange rate prevailing at the time, with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 57.7 percent. In comparison, the government debt as of 2016 was US$258 billion or Rp3.466 trillion, but the debt-to-GDP ratio was only at 27.5 percent, below the safe level of 30 percent.

Despite the data inaccuracy, the Suharto era is being flaunted by the Berkarya Party to bring in votes. According to Berkarya Party Secretary-General Badaruddin Andi Picunang, Indonesia's second president is the magnet for the party. Today, the Suharto legacy has been passed down to Tommy, his offspring number five. "Mas Tommy is the prince of the Suharto family," he said.

Established on July 15, 2016, Berkarya is a merger between two parties, the National Republic Party and the Beringin Karya Party. The former had been registered at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights since 2012, but did not qualify to run in the 2014 general election. Tommy sat as chair of the party's advisory board.

Meanwhile, Beringin Karya was declared by former military police center commander, Syamsu Djalal, along with several Golkar politicians, including Andi Picunang, in mid-May 2016. At the same time, Golkar was holding a national convention in Bali to appoint the party's general chair, the position which was then given to Setya Novanto.

In that national convention, according to Andi Picunang, Tommy intended to run for Golkar's general chair. Failing to run, he gave his support to Ade Komarudin, who was defeated by Setya Novanto.

After the convention in Bali, Andi and several Beringin Karya officials met with Tommy and offered to merge with the National Republic Party. In addition to needing Tommy as a public figure, the National Republic Party was considered because it was already a legal entity. In short, the two parties merged and changed their name to Berkarya.

Under the new flag, Syamsu Djalal became chair of the board of advisors, while Neneng A. Tuty-previously secretary-general of the National Republic Party-became general chair. Similar to Tommy Suharto, Neneng is also active in the Laskar Merah Putih mass organization.

The Berkarya Party did not initially pass administrative verification. According to a member of the General Elections Commission (KPU), Wahyu Setiawan, at the time Berkarya was considered as not meeting the minimum requirements for membership in the regencies/cities of 1,000 people or one-thousandth of the number of residents. Berkarya then challenged the KPU with the Elections Supervisory Agency and showed that their data referred to by the KPU had, in fact, met the requirements.

According to Andi Picunang, Berkarya was founded to realize the late Suharto's aspirations. A number of plans have been drafted, including creating an economy that favors the people and changing the system. "We intend to return to the 1945 Constitution, return to the version before the amendments," said Andi Picunang.

Those who best understand the late Suharto's desires, said Andi, are his own offspring. Later on, Berkarya will not only become a vehicle for Tommy, but also become a roosting place for members of the Suharto family wishing to get involved in politics.

One member of the Suharto family who already has a party membership card is Haryo Putra Nugroho Wibowo, the grandson of Sigit Harjojudanto, Suharto's second offspring. Andi says Berkarya has officially asked all the Suharto family members to join. "We have left the lobbying to the chair of the advisory board," he said.

With the Suharto family behind it, Berkarya has not had too much difficulty running. Its headquarters in Jalan Pangeran Antasari, South Jakarta, is the office of one of Tommy's companies. According to Neneng, Tommy has supplied a great amount of party paraphernalia for distribution to party cadres. But this does not mean that other party officials are not contributing. "We all pitch in," she said.

Although the 2019 election will be their first, Berkarya hopes to win 78 of the 575 DPR seats, or about 13 percent-a target that is much higher than the legislative threshold of four percent, or only 23 seats. According to Andi Picunang, the target is not wishful thinking, but the result of calculations made in the field.

Since officially becoming a political party, said Andi, Berkarya has been serious in working in the election districts. Nearly every week Tommy travels to the provinces and gives aid to the public, especially farmers and fisherfolk. The area most visited by Tommy as of late is East Java, where he encourages the people he meets to farm catfish and join a cooperative. "We are giving out the fishing rods, not the fish," he said. Andi claims that because of these efforts, the party's membership has grown significantly. According to their database, they have about 500,000 card-carrying members. Andi believes the number will continue to grow after Berkarya officially enters the general election.

When visiting the provinces, Tommy also visited religious pockets. At the end of October 2017, for instance, he went to several Islamic boarding schools in the 'horseshoe' region of East Java. At the Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah Islamic Boarding School in Brani, Probolinggo, Tommy attended the 33rd commemoration of the passing of Habib Husein bin Hadi al-Hamid.

According to Andi, Tommy has close relations with several kiai (clerics) and habib (Islamic figures). "He has a spiritual guru," he said, adding that Tommy has not limited himself to associating with kiai of any particular group.

For this reason, it is unsurprising that Tommy appeared at the 19th anniversary of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) last August at the Kamal Muara Stadium, North Jakarta. In December 2017, Tommy also received FPI general chair, Sobri Lubis, at his residence in Jalan Cendana, Jakarta. They spoke about, among other things, the idea of the people's economy.

Tommy is not like what most people assume he is, said Andi. He has become increasingly religious and conducts worship regularly. "He never misses his five-time prayers and performs them on time," he said. He also holds weekly religious study sessions at his home in Jalan Cendana.

Tommy Suharto was incarcerated after a judge found him guilty of the murder of Supreme Court judge Syafiuddin Kartasasmita in 2001. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but was released in 2006 after receiving numerous sentence reductions. It was while in prison that Tommy became more religious.

[Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine: https://magz.tempo.co/konten/2018/02/26/LU/34196/Longing-For-The-Suharto-Days/28/18.]

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/27/055916106/Cendana-Returns-Longing-for-The-Suharto-Days

Indonesia presidential race shaping up as Prabowo-Jokowi rerun

Straits Times - February 27, 2018

Jakarta (Bloomberg) – Former general Prabowo Subianto is firming up as a candidate for Indonesia's presidential election, raising the prospect of a rerun of the bitter 2014 race that saw Joko Widodo take power in South-east Asia's biggest economy.

In the strongest signal yet, the co-founder of the main opposition party known as Gerindra has indicated that Prabowo would be the party's nominee for president, something that needs to be finalised by August ahead of the April 2019 vote.

Hashim Djojohadikusumo, who is also Prabowo's brother, said Gerindra had the funds to support a "credible" presidential campaign.

"All things being equal, he will run for president next time," Djojohadikusumo said in an interview on Feb 20 in Jakarta, when asked about Prabowo. "In the next election, 2019, we're asking for our turn."

A repeat of the 2014 contest would see Mr Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, pitted against an opponent who has sought to build an image of a populist in touch with voters on bread-and-butter issues like education and tackling inequality.

While Jokowi is popular in opinion polls, and has focused on improving access to healthcare and infrastructure in the archipelago of 17,000 islands, he has fallen short of a promise to boost economic growth to seven per cent.

Jokowi is the first president to come from outside the political elite and the military, while both Prabowo and Djojohadikusumo have strong ties to Indonesia's dynastic families.

Their father served as a minister under former ruler Sukarno and dictator Suharto, and was a chief architect of Indonesian economic policy in the late 1960s. Prabowo was married to a daughter of Suharto.

Since Prabowo's loss in 2014, Gerindra has assumed the mantle of the country's main opposition party while Prabowo has remained visible in the political arena.

Gerindra has criticised Jokowi's move to ban the hardline Islamic organisation Hizbut Tahrir, and joined other parties in protesting a law on the threshold needed for parties to field a candidate in 2019. Parties must have at least 20 per cent of seats in parliament or have secured a minimum 25 per cent of the popular vote in the last legislative election to nominate a candidate.

Djojohadikusumo said Gerindra would fight the election on economic issues, adding the party wants a budget shake-up that would see more money for defence spending. And he said it would seek to be less reliant on China. "Our government's finances are too dependent on China," Djojohadikusumo said, and money from China comes with "strings attached".

Indonesia's economy is growing at about five per cent and is forecast to pick up again this year while inflation is expected to moderate further, presenting a potential electoral boon for Jokowi heading into the campaign. However, growth remains well short of Jokowi's target, while revenue from tax collection is low.

"We are underachieving," Djojohadikusumo said, without elaborating. "For Indonesia, five per cent is not good enough."

Jokowi has proven himself a shrewd politician after converting minority support in the parliament when he came to power in October 2014 into a majority backing of more than two-thirds of lawmakers. A recent poll by Saiful Mujani Research Centre of 1,220 people put Jokowi on 64 per cent support with voters, compared to Prabowo on about 27 per cent.

Still, "as matters now stand it's Jokowi's to lose but we're a long way from the election and enormous amount can happen between now and election day," said Tim Lindsey, an Indonesia analyst at the University of Melbourne. "We can expect a very well funded, highly strategic and efficient campaign from Prabowo."

Amid the influence of more conservative groups in the world's largest Muslim majority nation, religion is expected to be a prominent feature of the campaign, which will officially begin in September. The Jakarta gubernatorial race last year was a potential harbinger, delivering a strong win to Prabowo-backed Anies Baswedan in a race marked by large rallies by Islamic groups against the incumbent, Chinese-Christian Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok.

Jokowi, who in the final days of the 2014 election visited the holy city of Mecca to fend off questions over his Muslim credentials, faced months of unrest before the Jakarta vote. Ahok was later jailed for two years for insulting Muslims over comments he made about the Koran.

"The Jakarta election served as an important warning for Jokowi," said Tobias Basuki, a researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta. The Jakarta election entrenched polarisation that began in the 2014 presidential vote, he said.

Lindsey said Prabowo would be expected to play on anxiety towards China, which has built its economic and military clout in the region in recent years and is in dispute with some South-east Asian countries over parts of the South China Sea.

China has sought to be part of the massive infrastructure agenda at the heart of Jokowi's first term. Foreign direct investment from China increased from about US$600 million (S$791 million) in 2015 to US$3.3 billion last year.

Concern about China's expansionism is "a fault-line in Indonesian society and undoubtedly people will respond to that, particularly if it's about economic protectionism," Lindsey said.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesia-presidential-race-shaping-up-as-prabowo-jokowi-rerun

JK, Puan, even Prabowo: Potential vice presidents rumored to run with

Coconuts Jakarta - February 27, 2018

Last Friday, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) made no surprises by officially nominating President Joko Widodo to run for a second term in the 2019 election.

With the government's coalition of parties set to continue their support for Jokowi and his poll numbers remaining strong, his victory, barring any extraordinary events between now and 2019, is all but assured.

The big remaining question from Jokowi's camp is who will be paired to run as the incumbent's vice president? Following Jokowi's nomination, the media and political analysts in Indonesia have been speculating as to who the ideal second-in-command would be (never mind that we're still more than a year away from heading to the voting booth).

From current VP Jusuf Kalla to opposition leader Prabowo Subianto, below is a round up of politicians who have been talked about as Jokowi's potential running mate recently:

Jusuf Kalla

There has been no indication that Jokowi's relationship with VP Jusuf Kalla, popularly known as JK, has been anything less than amicable. At the very least, there have been no public rifts between the pair ever since they assumed office in 2014.

For that reason, some in PDI-P are contemplating nominating JK once again as Jokowi's VP in 2019. The problem is, under Indonesia's constitution, a president or vice president is only allowed to serve for two terms, and JK had already served his first term as VP under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono from 2004-2009.

However, supporters of Jokowi-JK are hoping to exploit a legal loophole in the constitution, as it doesn't state whether or not the two terms must be served in succession. For his part, JK said he would not run again as VP out of respect for the constitution.

There is no legal ambiguity about whether the 75-year-old could run as president, though. Could JK garner support from his Golkar party (which is officially part of the government's coalition but, in reality, is split internally between the government and the opposition) to mount a challenge against Jokowi? If he does, then Jokowi's path to reelection could be far from smooth.

Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono

Thirty nine-year-old Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono may be the youngest potential VP to appear on this list, and he may not have any political experience beyond losing in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, but he came out on top in a recent survey of people's preferences for vice president as many respondents said they wanted a young and charismatic politician to take the job.

The Demokrat party, which was founded by Agus' father and former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has hinted that they would back PDI-P's coalition in the 2019 election if Agus was selected as Jokowi's second-in-command.

Jokowi-Agus is not completely out of the question, especially as Agus was confirmed to have met with PDI-P Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri (the person who ultimately has the final say on who Jokowi's VP will be) over the weekend. If the political union came to fruition, than the Demokrat's backing (they had previously stayed neutral in the 2014 election) would be an immense boost to Jokowi's chances for reelection.

Muhaimin Iskandar

Realistically speaking, however, the candidate for VP will very likely come from the government's existing coalition if PDI-P aims to appease its allies. Possibly the biggest name from the coalition is Muhaimin Iskandar, chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB) and Minister of Manpower and Transmigration under Jokowi.

Muhaimin as Jokowi's running mate would undoubtedly attract a great number of Islamic voters, considering the former is chair of an Islamic party and is an influential figure within Nahdlatul Ulama, the biggest Islamic organization in the world.

Wiranto

Former military general and current Hanura party Chairman Wiranto has been a loyal ally to Jokowi since 2014, backing the president's campaign then before going on to serve as his Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs.

Politicians at Hanura have publicly suggested that Wiranto deserves to be Jokowi's running mate in 2019 due to their chairman's wealth of experience in Indonesian politics. Whether the suggestion will turn into a flat out demand remains to be seen, but it wouldn't be in Jokowi's interest to ignore one of his strongest allies.

All that being said, Wiranto has quite a dark past. Human rights activists decried his appointment as Jokowi's senior minister as Wiranto was among those indicted by United Nations prosecutors over gross human rights abuses during Indonesia's 24-year occupation of tiny East Timor, during which time around 100,000 people were estimated to be killed.

Puan Maharani

If Megawati Soekarnoputri wants to form a political dynasty, then placing her daughter Puan Maharani one step away from the presidency would be the obvious move. After all, there was a hint of nepotism when Puan, who previously had no experience in a government position, was appointed as one of Jokowi's senior cabinet officials in 2014 when she was tapped to be the Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Cultural Affairs (which was a new post created for Jokowi's cabinet).

When asked about the possibility she might run for VP recently, Puan refused to comment and said (rightly so) that a lot can happen between now and 2019.

Prabowo Subianto

It would be a major surprise if Jokowi were to be paired with Prabowo Subianto, his losing rival in the closely-contested 2014 election. Prabowo is the leader of the most represented party in the opposition, Gerindra, and is seen as having total control over his faction, effectively making him Megawati's direct counterpart.

Gerindra is expected to officially announce Prabowo as their presidential candidate very soon, yet recently there has been talk of their chairman being considered as Jokowi's ideal running mate in 2019. Even Bambang Soesatyo, chairman of the House of Representatives, supported the idea as it could reconcile the (sometimes hostile) differences between Jokowi and Prabowo's supporters.

Is Prabowo as VP likely? Well, the former military general is widely seen as a strong-willed and determined politician, so he likely won't ever forget that Megawati backed out on her promise to nominate him as president in 2014 after he ran with her as her VP candidate in 2009 (which they lost). Accepting nomination as VP to the man Megawati broke her promise for and eventually beat him in 2014 would certainly not be a dignified look for Prabowo.

On the other hand, Prabowo becoming Jokowi's VP could be a strategic step for the former's rise to the presidency. Waiting in the wings until the end of Jokowi's second term in 2024 could be a better option than spending a huge amount of energy and resources going head-to-head against the incumbent, who is, according to current polling, the only politician who could clearly beat Prabowo in an election.

If Prabowo does become Jokowi's candidate for VP, however, then we might as well not hold the presidential election next year as Gerindra leaving the opposition means that they won't have the number of seats in parliament necessary to nominate a presidential candidate. After that, we'll be left with a government that is much too powerful, and that is a scary thought indeed.

Of course, a lot can happen between now and the presidential election in April 2019, most notably the nationwide regional elections this year. Based on how that goes, we might see shifts in coalitions that could greatly influence the political landscape of Indonesia as well as the choice of VPs.

Some rising politicians may also fancy putting themselves in the running as well before long, such as Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, former military chief Gatot Nurmantyo or Finance Minister Sri Mulyani.

Candidates for president and vice president will be officially registered with the General Election Commission in September 2018.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/jk-puan-even-prabowo-potential-vice-presidents-rumored-run-president-joko-widodo-2019-election/

Jokowi's potential running mates: Pros and cons

Jakarta Post - February 26, 2018

Devina Heriyanto, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is once again running for, well, president. The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) officially endorsed the former Surakarta mayor and long-time PDI-P member during its national meeting in Denpasar, Bali, on Friday.

The endorsement is huge for Jokowi, who has already secured the support of four major parties: the Golkar Party, the United Development Party (PPP), the Hanura Party and the NasDem Party. With the support of five political parties that control more than 50 percent of seats at the House of Representatives, analysts have said it could be smooth sailing for Jokowi in 2019.

The only remaining question is: Who will be Jokowi's running mate?

Jokowi told reporters shortly after the PDI-P endorsement that he would discuss the issue with other political parties that had declared their support even before the PDI-P. The incumbent candidate will have to name his running mate before Aug. 13, when he is required to register with the General Elections Commission (KPU).

It remains unclear who will fill the position of vice-presidential running mate, but several names have been mentioned by analysts and members of pro-Jokowi parties as possible candidates. Here are six of them:

Jusuf Kalla

Jusuf Kalla, a longtime player in Indonesian politics, is a former chairman of Golkar. Kalla has held the VP position twice, during former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's first term and now with Jokowi. He also served as a House of Representatives and People's Consultative Assembly member and as minister twice, as the trade and industry minister (1999-2000) and the coordinating minister for people's welfare (2001-2004). Currently, he is the chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross and the Mosque Council.

Kalla oversees a significant business empire, making him one of the most successful businessmen from eastern Indonesia. In 2014, Kalla's wealth was valued at over Rp 465 billion.

Why Jokowi would choose him: Kalla is the best choice if Jokowi wants to play it safe. Golkar is the second-largest political party after the PDI-P, and Kalla's record and experience justify the choice. Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) political analyst Arya Fernandes said that securing Kalla as VP would mean preventing his mentee, current Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, from running either as a presidential candidate or Prabowo Subianto's VP.

Possible downside: The Constitution bans a president or vice president from serving more than two terms. But some Golkar and PDI-P politicians have said the provision could be interpreted differently, as Kalla did not serve the two terms consecutively. Many would consider him too old for the job, as he will be turning 76 years old this May – the same age as Soeharto when he was ousted from the office in May 1998.

Furthermore, a statement from Kalla indicates that he might not run again. He said on Monday that the philosophy of limiting the terms of a president and vice president should be respected.

Budi Gunawan

Budi Gunawan is a retired four-star police general who has chaired the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) since September 2016. He is considered to be close to PDI-P patron Megawati, for whom he served as a presidential adjutant.

Why Jokowi would choose him: He is a close ally of Megawati. The PDI-P, the nation's largest party, has said it has given its leader, Megawati, the discretion to decide Jokowi's running mate. Jokowi needs Megawati's approval of his choice of running mate to keep the party's support, though he has had enough support to contest the election without the party.

Possible downside: Budi Gunawan's track record is not necessarily flawless. In January, 2015, Jokowi had nominated Budi Gunawan as the National Police chief with approval from the House of Representatives. But the President was not able to inaugurate him because the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named him a graft suspect. Budi filed a pretrial motion to challenge the KPK's decision and won the case. The court annulled his suspect status, practically exonerating him from all charges before the trial began.

Puan Maharani

Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani is above all known as the daughter of Megawati and the late Taufiq Kiemas, who served as the speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly until his death in 2013. She was a lawmaker and head of the PDIP's faction before she was appointed minister.

Why Jokowi would choose her: She is Megawati's daughter and, therefore, a political heir to former president Sukarno, one of the nation's founding fathers. Puan had eyed the VP position in 2014. If she is chosen as VP, she would be the second female VP in the country's history after Megawati in 1999-2001.

Possible downside: Some people may consider Puan as incompetent, and that she only enjoyed her political positions based on her blood and not merit. The PDI-P will certainly dismiss such a notion. Even though Megawati has two other children, Puan is the one being groomed as the heir to the political party.

Moeldoko

Following his recent appointment as presidential chief of staff, the possibility of Moeldoko being a VP candidate has risen. A retired four-star military general, Moeldoko served as an army chief for a brief period before being appointed military chief from 2013 to 2015. Moeldoko's military career includes his involvement in the Seroja Operation (Indonesian invasion of East Timor).

Why Jokowi would choose him: He is a military man. According to a survey released by Pollster Indo Barometer last December, Jokowi is better off with a military partner to counterbalance the strongman image of his rival, former military general Prabowo. His name was also raised as a possible running mate for Jokowi in 2014, but he told The Post he would rather continue his job as then military chief.

Possible downside: As a military chief, Moeldoko made several pushes to increase the role of the military – a concerning move for a country with a history of military rule.

Tuan Guru Bajang or Muhammad Zainul Majdi

Tuan Guru Bajang (TGB) is a Muslim scholar and the two-time governor of West Nusa Tenggara. As a scholar, he often preaches in other Indonesian provinces, building more national rapport. Under his leadership, West Nusa Tenggara has gained several awards in tourism. He is currently the chairman of the Indonesian branch of the Al-Azhar Alumni International Organization.

Why Jokowi would choose him: In the current political climate, TGB's image as a respected Muslim scholar could help boost Jokowi's electability among more conservative Muslim voters. While Jokowi himself is a Muslim, he is often seen as anti-Islam and at one point was rumored to be a Christian. Analyst Muhammad Qodari from Indo Barometer said, Jokowi must choose a running mate that "can reach out to majority groups". TGB is also popular in West Nusa Tenggara, which helps Jokowi's development program in eastern Indonesia.

Possible downside: Although TGB is not a controversial figure, he is relatively unknown to the national public compared to other candidates.

Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono

Agus is the eldest son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Before retiring to pursue the Jakarta governor ticket, Agus' military career was dominated by several foreign postings and academic leaves. After falling short in the first round of the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, Agus stayed busy, attending Democratic Party events across Indonesia and establishing the Yudhoyono Institute.

Why Jokowi would choose him: A Jokowi-Agus pairing would thaw the often conflicting interests between the PDI-P and the Democrats, which came fourth in the 2014 legislative election with 10.19 percent of the vote. Agus is young and social-media savvy, making him an easy sell for Indonesia's burgeoning young lower and middle class.

Possible downside: His strength is also his weakness. Agus is seen as too young and inexperienced for such a strategic post. Choosing a VP candidate from the Democrats, a party outside the ruling coalition, could also affect Jokowi's relations with other political parties that have supported him. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/26/who-are-jokowis-potential-vp-candidates.html

KPI restricts parties from funding broadcasting companies

Tempo - February 26, 2018

Riani Sanusi Putri, Jakarta – The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) along with the Press Council will work with the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) and the General Election Commission (KPU) to watch political campaign in mass media.

KPI's broadcasting unit coordinator Hardly Stefano Fenolono said the supervision will include funds coming to broadcasting from political parties.

"In the broadcasting code of conduct (P3) and broadcasting program standards (SPS), it is stipulated that broadcasters are prohibited from being financed by political figures," he said in Jakarta, on Monday, February 26.

Hardly added that a task force consisting of the four institutions has been established. He clarified that the regulation is not aimed at limiting political parties or broadcasters, but at maintaining fair and orderly campaign for all parties.

"Campaign ads may appear on television and radio, but not all parties have the access, thus we must have a spirit of justice," he said.

Hardly went on that the KPI will impose sanctions that begins with a written warning. After that, KPI will wait for the KPU and Bawaslu to make a decision. The sanctions will not only be given to broadcasters but also political parties.

Hardly stated that the KPI and the Press Council will support the KPU and Bawaslu as election organizers. The issue related to campaign advertisement in broadcasters, he said, has also been discussed with broadcasters.

"We hope the broadcasting companies will comply with the rules," he said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/26/055916075/KPI-Restricts-Parties-from-Funding-Broadcasting-Companies

Impossible to pair Kalla with Jokowi again, PDI-P says

Jakarta Post - February 25, 2018

Margareth S. Aritonang, Denpasar – The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has voiced its objection to a proposal that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo be paired with Vice President Jusuf Kalla in the 2019 presidential election.

It would not be possible to endorse Kalla as Jokowi's running mate as it could violate the 1945 Constitution, PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto said.

Kalla has been the vice president for both Jokowi and his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Article 7 of the Constitution bans a president and vice president from contending the election after serving for two periods.

"It is the regulation that bars him from running again," said Hasto on the sidelines of the PDI-P's closed door national working meeting on Saturday.

With Kalla's re-nomination unlikely, Hasto said he would make sure that the ruling party would work closely with Kalla in finding the best running mate for Jokowi because of Kalla's "thorough knowledge of the challenges that the country is facing".

Hasto said he was convinced that discussions between the party and Kalla would be constructive, citing good relations between Kalla and PDI-P leader Megawati Soekarnoputri. "We will definitely involve Pak [Jusuf Kalla] in the process."

Political lobbying to find Jokowi's running mate intensified on Friday after the PDI-P officially announced its endorsement for the incumbent candidate.

Four political parties – the Golkar Party, the United Development Party (PPP), the Hanura Party and the NasDem Party – preceded the ruling party in making the declaration. Like the PDI-P, these parties have also proposed to nominate their own members as Jokowi's running mate.

Speculation is rife that Jokowi is considering appointing Kalla, his running mate in 2014, as his vice presidential candidate in 2019 to avoid upsetting some of the political parties that support him.

Jokowi, however, has said he would consult with his coalition partners about the vice-presidential candidate. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/25/impossible-to-pair-kalla-with-jokowi-again-pdi-p-says.html

Indonesia's biggest political party PDI-P backs Jokowi for second term

Straits Times - February 23, 2018

Jakarta (Bloomberg) – Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo has won the backing of the nation's biggest political party for a second term in office.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), led by former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, endorsed Joko, also known as Jokowi, as its presidential candidate in the elections scheduled for April next year, according to Pramono Anung Wibowo, Cabinet secretary and a member of the party.

Jokowi, the first president to come to power from outside the political elite in 2014, has already been endorsed by at least four other political parties, which are part of his government.

The nominations for the 2019 presidential election must be submitted by Aug 10 ahead of a campaign period that officially kick offs in September.

Jokowi has presided over an economy that regained an investment grade sovereign debt rating and has focused on improving infrastructure in the world's largest archipelago, but has also faced difficulties in parliament and criticism from hardline Islamic groups.

The president's popularity remains high – a December survey by Jakarta-based Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting put his approval rating at 76 per cent – and after a tricky first few months he cemented his hold on parliament, where he has the support of parties holding more than two thirds of seats.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesias-biggest-political-party-pdi-p-backs-jokowi-for-second-term

Hanura supports Wiranto as Jokowi's vice in 2019 election

Tempo - February 22, 2018

Chitra Paramaesti, Jakarta – The People Conscience Party (Hanura) Chairman Oesman Sapto Odang announced the Board of Trustees Party Chairman Wiranto as vice president to be promoted in the 2019 presidential election to pair with the incumbent president Jokowi.

"It is appropriate for me to say that Wiranto is my candidate for the next vice president," Oesman said in his speech at the launching event of party number at his private residence on Thursday, February 22.

After declaring Wiranto as Vice President from Hanura Party, Oesman asked his cadre to stand up and support his decision. "State Wiranto as Vice President," he exclaimed.

Oesman also called on his cadre to display image of Wiranto in each party office branch as a form of full support from the party.

Last Sunday, February 18, the General Elections Commission (KPU) drew the serial number for political parties who will participate in the 2019 presidential election. Hanura Party got the number 13.

Previously, Oesman hoped to get the biggest odd number for Hanura. At the drawing, he was so happy as to know his party got the number 13. "In Islam, 13 is a blessing figure," he said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/22/055915971/Hanura-Supports-Wiranto-as-Jokowis-Vice-in-2019-Election

Blasphemy, fake news & hate speech

Police: Characteristics of the family MCA similar to Saracen

Tempo - February 28, 2018

Chitra Paramaesti, Jakarta – Police Public Relations Division's Public Information Bureau Head Brig. Gen. Muhammad Iqbal said the Muslim Cyber Army family or the Family MCA is almost similar to Saracen group arrested in 2017, a group which started hoaxes and spread news interpreted as hate speech.

"Family MCA is different (to Saracen), yet has some similar traits," Iqbal said at Police Headquarters on Tuesday, February 27. Police will hold a press conference tomorrow for further information. Iqbal explained the group spread provocative issues through social media. Police seized electronic devices and checked their financial transactions. "We also investigate groups they followed in social media," he added.

The groups followed by the Family MCA including Akademi Tempur MCA, Pojok MCA, The United MCA, The Legend MCA, Muslim Coming, MCA News Legend, Special Force MCA, Srikandi Muslim Cyber, dan Muslim Sniper. Iqbal claimed the police will explore other actors in this group.

Muslim Cyber Army Family Group, Iqbal continued, often spread the news that cornered the president and other figures. The issue of scholars assault incident was also spread through the group. "We will catch those behind the group," said Iqbal.

Other than spreading provocative issues, the Family MCA also distributed the virus for electronic devices through links contained hoax news. "Our mobile phone can be damaged if we get the virus (by clicking the news link)," he stated.

The suspects of the Family MCA were Muhammad Luth, 40, Rizki Surya Dharma (35), Ramdani Saputra (39), and Yuspiadin (24). They were charged with the Law of Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE).

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/28/055916131/Police-Characteristics-of-The-Family-MCA-Similar-to-Saracen

'Muslim Cyber Army' members arrested for spreading fake news about

Coconuts Jakarta - February 27, 2018

A recent fake news item shared on Facebook. It says "15 million members of the PKI armed to slaughter ulema (Muslim scholars)"

No, Indonesian communists are not coming back from the dead and neither are ulemas (Islamic scholars) being targeted for persecution – you can't really trust most "news" being shared on WhatsApp anyway, and now the authorities have apprehended some of the people responsible for sharing harmful lies on the popular messaging service.

The National Police's Cyber Crimes Directorate and the National Intelligence Agency yesterday arrested four people belonging to the WhatsApp group The Family MCA (aka the Muslim Cyber Army), who the authorities said spread fake news to incite hatred among groups in Indonesia.

"Based on our investigation, this group often created provocative issues and spread them on social media," National Police Cyber Crimes Director Fadil Imran told Kompas today.

Fadil said that the fake news stories the group shared include the supposed rise of the Indonesian Communist Party, or PKI (which has been banned since 1966, yet anti-communist rhetoric is still widely used as a political tool both to legitimize the establishment and to attack it), the kidnapping of ulemas across the country, and defamatory content aimed at the president and his government.

But their cyber attacks were allegedly not limited to spreading misinformation. "They deliberately spread viruses to people and their enemies that caused damage to the device of the receiver," Fadil said.

The four suspects, who were arrested in four different cities including Jakarta, were charged with inciting religious hatred under the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), a crime punishable by up to four years in prison.

While Indonesia is often criticized for its draconian online censorship laws, the country also has a major 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 those who simply share them.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/members-muslim-cyber-army-whatsapp-group-arrested-spreading-fake-news-rise-communists-scholar-kidnappings/

Muslim Cyber Army spread fake news on religious attacks, resurgence of

Kompas.com - February 27, 2018

Ambaranie Nadia, Kemala Movanita, Jakarta – The national police say that The Family Muslim Cyber Army (MCA) has not just been spreading provocative news on religion, ethnicity and race, but also on attacks against religious figures and the resurgence of the PKI.

Recently, these issues have gone viral on social media and most of the reports being spread are hoaxes or fake news.

"Provocative news such as spreading negative issues about the PKI [the banned Indonesian Communist Party], also about attacks on ulama [Islamic scholars]", said Public Information Division Chief Brigadier General Mohammad Iqbal at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta on Tuesday February 27.

In addition to this, the group has also been spreading hateful ideas about the president and other government officials.

The police seized material evidence of these crimes when the suspects were arrested. "We have seized material evidence for the criminal investigation in the form of electronic devices", said Iqbal.

Aside from spreading provocative news, the suspects also spread content containing malware to particular groups. "If they get this virus it will damage electronic devices, our mobile phones can be damaged", said Iqbal.

The motive of the MCA group in spreading this news is still unknown. The national police's Criminal Investigation Bureau Cyber Crime Directorate plans to issue a release on the arrest and motives of the suspects on Wednesday.

Earlier, police arrested five members of the WhatsApp group "The Family MCA". The five suspects arrested were Muhammad Luth (40) who was arrested in Tanjung Priok (Jakarta), Rizki Surya Dharma (35) in Pangkal Pinang (Bangka Belitung), Ramdani Saputra (39) in Bali, Yuspiadin (24) in Sumedang (West Java) and Romi Chelsea in Palu (Central Sulawesi).

The content spread by the perpetrators covered the issue of the resurgence of the PKI, the abduction of ulama and defamation against the president, the government and other national figures.

The perpetrators also spread content containing malware to people or rival groups resulting in the recipients' electronic devices being damaged.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Kelompok Muslim Cyber Army Sebarkan Hoaks Penganiayaan Ulama dan PKI".]

Source: http://nasional.kompas.com/read/2018/02/27/16393121/kelompok-muslim-cyber-army-sebarkan-hoax-penganiayaan-ulama-dan-pki

Judges made mistake in Ahok's case: Lawyer

Jakarta Post - February 26, 2018

Jakarta – More than nine months after being convicted of blasphemy, former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has officially challenged his conviction through a case review petition to the Supreme Court.

The preliminary hearing of the petition, which lasted only 10 minutes, was held at the North Jakarta District Court on Monday. The Supreme Court justices will later decide whether or not to grant Ahok's case review petition.

The hearing at the North Jakarta District Court was presided over by Judge Mulyadi, who had previously presided over his trial at the district level.

Speaking to reporters after Monday's hearing, Ahok's lawyer and sister, Fifi Letya Indra, said she believed the North Jakarta District Court had made a mistake in declaring Ahok guilty of blasphemy.

She said the guilty verdict against Buni Yani, a communications lecturer found guilty of tampering with video footage of a speech given by Ahok that was used as evidence to lodge the blasphemy allegations against the former Jakarta governor, was the basis for the case review request.

"The legal argument for our petition is that the judges [at the district level] made a mistake in their verdict [on Ahok], particularly in relation to Buni Yani's verdict." she said, adding that the defense team also had other legal arguments to support their petition. "We have six to seven points to make."

Ahok was found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to two years in prison on May 9 following a series of rallies by conservative groups who believe he had commited blasphemy againt the Qur'an when he said some people "were deceived" by other people "using Al-Maidah 51", a Qur'anic verse some clerics say prohibits Muslims from electing a non-Muslim as leader.

He was charged with blasphemy under Article 156a of the Criminal Code, which carries a maximum punishment of five years' imprisonment. According to the 2017 Election Law, a person charged with a felony punishable by five years' imprisonment is barred from running as president or vice president.

The Bandung District Court, meanwhile, sentenced Buni Yani to 18 months in prison for breaching the nation's Cyber Law, on Nov. 14, 2017.

Ahok did not appeal his conviction at the appellate courts, while Buni Yani did. Ahok's verdict is now final and binding and thus eligible for a review.

The prosecutors told reporters after the hearing that the defense team had not brought new evidence to back up their latest legal move.

Ahok's case and Buni Yani's case were not related, prosecutor Sapta Subrata said. "Ahok was guilty of blasphemy, while Buni Yani was guilty of tampering with a video that was not his."

He added that prosecution of Ahok's case did not affect Buni Yani's case and vice versa. "The evidence in Buni Yani's case is part of a speech cited by Buni Yani, it was not used as evidence in Ahok's trial." The district court's verdict on Ahok was correct, he said.

Judge Mulyadi, however, said that the prosecutors had two to three days to give their response before he sent the case review petition to the Supreme Court justices.

"We do not have the authority to grant a case review petition. It's the Supreme Court's authority. We just examine the administrative requirements," the judge said.

Security personnel from the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police were seen guarding the North Jakarta District Court on Jl. Gajah Mada in Central Jakarta from Monday morning.

Supporters of Ahok came to the court wearing red clothes while those opposed to the former governor came dressed in white clothes. (vel/ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/26/judges-made-mistake-in-ahoks-case-lawyer.html

Demonstrators both for and against come out for first session of Ahok's

Coconuts Jakarta - February 26, 2018

Today was the first courtroom hearing in former Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama's judicial review (PK) of the guilty verdict in his controversial blasphemy trial. Although the court session only lasted ten minutes, it brought out several dozens of protesters both for and against the former governor.

Many of the protesters came from a group called the Islamic Movement Alliance (API). Some held banners saying "Reject Ahok's PK. Enforce justice. Ahok must be punished."

Pro-Ahok demonstrators answered back with chants of "Free Ahok!" and "Ahok is innocent!" Some yelled "Arrest Rizieq!" referring to Rizieq Shihab, the fugitive founder of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the figurehead of the anti-Ahok movement.

Around 2,000 police were assigned to safeguard the court session, which took place at the North Jakarta Courthouse on Jalan Gajah Mada this morning.

The brief hearing, which Ahok did not attend, was primarily a procedural affair, with Ahok's legal team simply submitting the new evidence used to file the PK. The judge will announce whether the new evidence forms a valid basis for the PK next week.

"Hopefully next Monday I can give my opinion whether to send this to the Supreme Court," said head judge Mulyadi as quoted by Detik.

Once the session was finished, the protesters peacefully dispersed soon after without incident.

Many were shocked last week to learn about Ahok and his legal team's decision to file a PK, considering that he is already nearly one year into his 2-year sentence and he had previous decided against filing an appeal against the verdict.

However, a PK is legally distinct from an appeal and carries fewer risks (such as the possibility of having one's prison sentence increased if they lose their appeal). A PK can be filed on the basis of new evidence or circumstances in a case.

For Ahok's PK, the major new piece of evidence is the guilty verdict in the case of Buni Yani, the man who uploaded a short clip of a speech Ahok gave in the Thousand Islands that contained the alleged blasphemy against Islam. Buni Yani was sentenced in November for spreading hate speech by sharing just a 30-second clip of the nearly 2-hour long speech (along with an inaccurate transcript). The incendiary clip was the primary incitement for the anti-Ahok protests that eventually led to the former governor's election loss and imprisonment.

As we understand the argument from Ahok's side, the verdict in his case and Buni Yani's case are based on directly contradictory legal opinions. Buni Yani was convicted largely because the judges said that his editing of the clip had been meant to incite hatred, and yet in Ahok's case the judge determined that the clip being edited had not affected the blasphemous nature of what Ahok had said about a verse from the Koran.

The next session for Ahok's PK will take place next Monday.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/demonstrators-come-first-session-ahoks-judicial-review/

Gov't approach in tackling hate speech is wrong: Human rights group

Jakarta Globe - February 23, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia on Thursday (22/02) pointed out that the government's approach to tackle hate speech in the country has blindsided minority groups.

"Often times the government chooses a side, and forces minority groups to yield to the majority in order to prevent that same hate speech. This approach is wrong," the executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, Usman Hamid, told reporters in Jakarta.

In June last year, the local government in Depok, West Java, sealed a mosque belonging to the Ahmadiyya religious minority, which many Islamic groups in the archipelago consider deviant and outside of Islam.

In September, the police banned a closed-door discussion featuring survivors of the 1965 communist purge at the office of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute.

Despite groups' freedoms, particularly on assembly and religion, authorities continue to prosecute minority sects for simply exercising their rights on the basis of curbing hate speech or restoring public order.

"The purpose of putting an end to hate speech is valid, but the approach to make that happen has been erroneous. In practice, they have deviated from basic human rights principles," Usman said.

Sandrayati Moniaga, vice chairwoman for external affairs at the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), said the government must be proactive in supporting the country's democracy.

"It's important to ensure that law enforcement authorities are professional, and the government is not implicitly supporting hate speech or violent extremism," Sandrayati said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/govt-approach-tackling-hate-speech-wrong-human-rights-group/

Surveys & opinion polls

Baby boomer generation most satisfied with Jokowi administration

Tempo - February 24, 2018

Chitra Paramaesti, Jakarta – Alvara Research Institute Director Hasanuddin Ali said the age group with the highest level of satisfaction with the government of President Joko Widodo or Jokowi is the Baby Boomer generation. The generation is between the ages of 56-65.

"This generation is the most satisfied with the leadership of Jokowi, with the satisfaction rate of 81.4 percent," said Hasanuddin in his survey results presentation at Hotel Oria on Friday, February 23.

In the research, Alvara divides the age categories by generation groups. In Generation X aged between 46-55 years, 80.9 percent of respondents said they were satisfied. "However, for the age range 36-45 years, 74.3 percent of respondents are satisfied," said Hasanuddin.

In the Millennial generation with the 17-25 year age group, the satisfaction up to 79 percent and in the 26-35 year age group of which is 74.7 percent. "Overall, satisfaction rate is 77.3 percent," he stated.

According to him, based on the level of public satisfaction, the weak point in Jokowi administration is the economic sector. Particularly, in the employment aspect of 59.8 percent, poverty alleviation as much as 58.1 percent, and the stability of daily needs price of 55.7 percent.

Alvara Survey Institute involved 2,203 respondents in the survey conducted on January 17-February 7, 2018 in all provinces in Indonesia. The approach used is quantitative research with face-to-face interviews by using a questionnaire. Alvara used multistage random sampling method, with an error margin of 2 percent and 95 percent confidence level.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/24/055916027/Baby-Boomer-Generation-Most-Satisfied-with-Jokowi-Administration

Environment & natural disasters

BNPB anticipates forest fires for 2018 Asian Games

Tempo - February 24, 2018

Vindry Florentin, Jakarta – National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho stated that 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang coincides with the peak of the dry season. At that period, risks of forest and land fires increase.

Sutopo explained that forest and land fires produce smoke that potentially causes disturbance to Asian Games. "In South Sumatra, 146 villages potentially catch fire and the smoke will fill up the venue," he said in Jakarta on Friday, Feb. 23.

Risks of forest and land fires are predicted to escalate with the event of the regional election this year. In light of past experiences, acting regional heads tend to not declare emergency status when a disaster occurs, whereas declaring emergency status eases BNPB's job to mitigate disasters.

Sutopo expressed that BNPB has prepared a number of strategies to anticipate forest and land fires. BNPB prepares task force to perform patrols on land and on air, as well as prepares water-bombing helicopters, artificial rain, and air patrols.

In addition, BNPB together with Environment and Forestry Ministry prepares law enforcement to provide sanctions to those involved in forest and land fires. BNPB also disseminate information on threats of forest and land fires to the people and regional heads.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/24/055916014/BNPB-Anticipates-Forest-Fires-for-2018-Asian-Games

Bali hopes to regain paradise island status with mass cleanup

The Guardian - February 23, 2018

Kate Lamb, Jakarta – Overwhelmed by tides of waste and decades of mass tourism, to some, the Indonesian island of Bali is a paradise long lost.

This weekend, however, thousands of people will join in an effort to rid its coastline, rivers and jungles of rubbish and restore its natural beauty.

The mass cleanup is the initiative of One Island One Voice (OIOV), an umbrella movement of organisations and individuals wanting to reduce waste and create a "greener, cleaner Bali".

The movement includes groups such as Bye Bye Plastic Bags, an NGO founded by two Balinese teenage sisters, Melati and Isabel Wijsen, who want Bali to ban plastic bags.

"This event is not only a cleanup action, it is a chance to raise awareness and understanding about what really happens in Bali," said Rima Agustina, one of the coordinators.

She said the action was as much about changing attitudes as cleaning up beaches. "All it takes is one or two hours of picking up trash and for most people the mindset is completely transformed. They would start thinking that those single-use plastics give more harm than benefits to community."

Bali's beaches have been swamped by unsightly mounds of rubbish for months, much of it plastic washed in from neighbouring Java during the annual rainy season – or what Balinese call rubbish season.

The waste has become such an issue that tourists are being scared away. "Many tourists have reported that they don't want to come back to Bali after seeing how bad the trash is," said Sara Craves, an OIOV spokeswoman.

Indonesia is the second-largest plastic polluter in the world after China, with 200,000 tonnes of plastic flowing into its oceans via rivers and streams each year.

The initiative echoes other movements around the world trying to tackle the steady burial of the earth's beauty under mounds of consumer jetsam.

Volunteers in Mumbai have been waging war on detritus on the city beaches for several years. Readers of this series, The Upside, have been in touch to point to local initiatives everywhere from Devizes in England to Lodwar in Kenya.

It's the idea of really focusing in on places that make up this experience of living in Bali

The OIOV initiative will collect tonnes of rubbish in every region in Bali and take it to village-scale and industrial sorting centres. Some will be upcycled or turned into EcoBricks.

The significant quantities of waste that flow over from Indonesia's larger islands are one element of the problem in Bali.

A small island ill-equipped to cope with endless hotel developments and the millions of tourists that visit each year, Bali alone produces about 5,000 cubic metres of waste a day.

With five legal rubbish dumps on the island, only about 25% of its waste is collected through official channels. The rest is burned, or dumped on roadsides and mountains and in rivers and the ocean.

Harriet Burrows, a British teacher from Bali's Green School, will be attending cleanups on Saturday, accompanied by kindergarten and high school students and their parents in what she says is a whole-community event.

"People can take part in three cleans in one day, which is pretty incredible," said Burrows. "So you can go from where you live to the beaches where you walk your dog, to the beaches where you surf, so it's the idea of really focusing in on places that make up this experience of living in Bali."

Saturday's event even has its own theme song, Satu Pulau Satu Suara, or One island one voice, a collaboration between local and international musicians that calls for the island to be left "just the way we found her".

The cleanup organisers say they do not expect to turn Bali's rubbish woes around overnight.

"Cleanups are not the solution," said Craves. "They are just the way to raise awareness and a way to bring people together, and get them involved in the problem so we can start to find solution."

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/23/bali-hopes-to-regain-paradise-island-status-with-mass-cleanup

Study to challenge claim Indonesia second-biggest marine polluter

Jakarta Post - February 23, 2018

Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta – A top Indonesian marine scientist has said that Indonesia is planning to conduct a large-scale research study aimed at challenging international findings that the world's largest archipelago nation is the world's second-largest marine polluter.

"Many parties have said Indonesia's seas have been polluted by plastic and other [materials]. We want to determine whether this is accurate," said Dirhamsyah, who heads the Center of Oceanography Research at the government-sanctioned Indonesian Science Institute (LIPI).

Various studies indicate Indonesia is the second-biggest polluter of marine plastic debris worldwide after China. International parties like the United Nations have also pressured Indonesia to take stern action to deal with the plastic littering its seas on the back of its effect on sea ecosystems like coral reefs.

Indonesia's status as one of the biggest marine polluters on Earth was also highlighted in the UN's maiden Ocean Conference in New York last June.

A study published in the journal Science in January estimates that there were more than 11 billion pieces of plastic debris in coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific region. Surveying more than 150 coral reefs in Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Australia between 2011 and 2014, the study found reefs near Indonesia were littered with the most plastic, while the lowest concentration was found in Australia.

"People can say they accept or reject the results. But I personally don't really believe [the findings]," Dirhamsyah said, referring to the January study.

Reza Cordova, a LIPI marine scientist and lead researcher of the institution's upcoming study, said LIPI was trying to fill in the gaps in the data on marine debris in Indonesia's seas. The Indonesian government has yet to record official data on the matter. Most of the data, he said, came from outside parties like NGOs.

LIPI will begin gathering data for the study at the end of this month. It has identified around 20 locations in the country where sampling will take place. Eight universities across Indonesia and relevant agencies will help the institution conduct the study.

Researchers will focus on at least one seashore area in each of the 20 sampling sites, which are located in 16 provinces. In each seashore, researchers will use 50-100 m2 transects in three different locations to calculate the weight of and amount of debris in each transect.

The sampling will be conducted once a month, especially during full moons when high tides are expected to bring in more debris from the sea to the seashore. Reza said the results from the 20 locations could be used to calculate a nationwide estimate.

The method had never been used before, Reza claimed, adding that the institute was open to collaborating with NGOs to verify the sampling process.

Reza said it would take at least 12 months for his team to conclude the study, which he expected to be the basis for the country's effort to combat the problem of marine debris. "From the study, we can give suggestions to the government on regions in Indonesia that need specific attention," said Reza.

Globally, plastic debris is a major threat to coral reef ecosystems, apart from blast fishing by fisherfolk and coral bleaching caused by rising sea temperatures due to global warming.

Coral reefs are important for coastal communities because they help boost tourism and provide protection from waves and storms. More importantly, they also act as key spawning and nurturing grounds for fish and other sea creatures.

Plastics entering the sea carry pollutants and can be a magnet for harmful bacterial, which could lead to diseases in coral reefs entangled in the debris. "Plastic is a silent killer for sea creatures," Reza said.

Andi Rusandi, director of marine conservation and biodiversity at the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, welcomed LIPI's initiative, saying it could help the government in its sea conservation efforts.

"As the study will calculate the amount of marine debris in Indonesia, it will help the government to take a step forward," Andi said. (ahw)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/23/study-to-challenge-claim-indonesia-second-biggest-marine-polluter.html

Polluted air from fires starts to affect Riau residents

Jakarta Post - February 22, 2018

Rizal Harahap, Pekanbaru – Air quality in Dumai regency, Riau has worsened, with the latest air quality index showing a moderate level of pollution resulting from recent fires in surrounding peatland, an official has said.

Dumai Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Tengku Ismed said pollutant particles in the air had increased. "The PSI level stands at 43," Tengku said Wednesday, referring to the pollutant standard index. He added that the level stood at 27 on Feb 15.

Tengku said the fires had affected land in West Dumai, South Dumai, East Dumai, Sungai Sembilan, Bukit Kapur and Medang Kampai.

Tengku said his agency would take measures to prevent air quality from worsening. "We do not want it [the air pollution] to disrupt two major events: the Asian Games and the regional elections," he said.

Dumai is nearly 1,000 kilometers away from Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra, which will cohost the quadrennial sporting event in August. Riau will also hold a regional election in June.

Tengku claimed that this year's fires were less severe than those in 2015 and 2016, when fires decimated vast areas. In 2017, the agency reported that the fires affected 64 hectares. Tengku attributed the cause of the fires to the dry season.

Meanwhile, Riau BPBD head Edwar Sanger said worsening air quality was also reported in the province's other regencies, such as Rokan Hilir and Kampar.

On Wednesday morning, the Riau Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) spotted three hot spots in Bengkalis, Rokan Hilir and Siak. "Rain is helping us put out the fires," said Slamet Riyadi of Riau BMKG. (gis/dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/22/polluted-air-from-fires-starts-to-affect-riau-residents.html

LBGT & same-sex marriage

Fear and horror among Indonesia's LGBT community as gay sex ban looms

CNN - February 25, 2018

Ben Westcott – When Ael left home to go to school in Jakarta, his parents warned him to be careful in the big city. "Be a kind person," his mother told him.

He worked hard and found a good job as a teacher in the sprawling Indonesian capital, but seven years later the 23-year-old is fearful for his future as a young gay man in a country which increasingly views homosexuality as a sin and, potentially soon, a crime.

"Many people don't like us... they don't like us being more visible, so they are preparing laws that can criminalize us," Ael, who asked for his surname to not be used, told CNN.

Within weeks, lawmakers could vote on a new law that looks set to criminalize sex outside of marriage and homosexual sex in Indonesia, as part of wide-reaching changes to the country's criminal code. "If the penal code is approved, I don't know our future in Indonesia," Ael said.

It is just the latest move in a widespread crackdown on Indonesia's gay and lesbian community since 2015, which has shocked and horrified the country's LGBT population.

Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim-majority country, home to hundreds of millions of followers of the Islamic faith, but until recently it was relatively tolerant, if not exactly accepting, of its LGBT population.

But in the last decade a conservative strain of Islam, quietly tolerated by presidents past and present, has gained sway, with conservative Muslim leaders and groups intimidating lawmakers, holding mass rallies in Jakarta and targeting prominent Christian and LGBT minorities.

"(Recently) when LGBT Indonesians open our social media, quickly we find there are lots of people speaking hatefully about us," Ael said. "As a gay person and a young person in Indonesia this issue has actually become dangerous for us."

The local LGBT community isn't alone in worrying about the developments. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said at a press conference in Jakarta on February 7 he was "greatly concerned" about the proposed revisions of the penal code.

He said the proposed amendments were "discriminatory" and appeared to be planned for "cynical political purposes."

'Indonesian values and culture'

In one of the latest drafts of the bill seen by CNN, committing an "obscene act" with someone of the same gender is punishable by a fine and up to 18 months in jail, if the act is public. It doesn't detail what could constitute an obscene act.

If the acts are "publicized in the form of pornography," the sentence could be up to nine years.

Activists had breathed a sigh of relief in December 2017, when Indonesia's Constitutional Court narrowly voted down a call for the criminalization of LGBT relations brought by a group of conservative Muslims. But the court's decision now appears to have only been a temporary reprieve.

No date has been set for the vote on the new criminal code, but a conservative lawmaker told CNN strict new restrictions against same sex-relations and extramarital sex will be included, no matter what.

"Basically all factions in the Parliament agree on the expansion of extra-marital sex articles and the inclusion of certain deviating acts of LGBT," said Arsul Sani, a politician with the conservative Islamic United Development Party (PPP).

Sani, who has a seat on the influential law and human rights panel that will approve the draft criminal code, said criminalizing sex outside marriage and same-sex relations will bring Indonesia's outdated criminal code in line with the rest of the country's "religious values."

"Those who oppose (the law) base their perspectives on Western cultures and values, whilst we propose this new criminal code upon Indonesian indigenous values and culture," he said.

While many conservative Islamic Indonesian politicians would like same-sex relations to be banned entirely, the existence of large, secular majority parties could lead to the compromise of seeing it only outlawed "in public."

Sani's fellow panel member Ichsan Soelistio, lawmaker with the secular Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), said while it was true there was majority support for the new criminal code, full criminalization of same-sex relations is out of the question.

"We (will) still protect their private lives, including their sex life, as long as they don't do it in a public area," he told CNN.

Soelistio said the law couldn't reach into people's private lives if there was no complaints from the parties involved. "This will go to a vote maybe around one or two months after our recess, which ends on March 4... I believe (the new code) will be good for Indonesia," he said.

Despite its widely held Muslim beliefs, Indonesia's population didn't always openly discriminate against LGBT people.

"Indonesia has a long history of tolerance towards queer communities. It's always been described as one of the most tolerant countries in Southeast Asia to its queer population," Tim Lindsey, director of the Center for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society at the University of Melbourne, told CNN.

But a recent poll by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting released in January found 87.6% of Indonesians believed LGBT people were a threat to Indonesia, while a 2013 Pew Research poll found 93% of Indonesians thought homosexuality was "morally unacceptable."

However despite many citizens' deeply-held Islamic beliefs, not everyone is in favor of the complete criminalization of homosexuality. Jakarta resident, Viana, told CNN that while her Muslim faith prohibited homosexuality she didn't want LGBT people to be sent to jail.

"I don't want homosexuality to spread (but) I think it should not be criminalized. Rather people should get better religious education," she said.

More than 70,000 people have signed a petition, started by women's rights activists, calling for lawmakers to throw out the new draft but experts say that secular politicians are unlikely to take up the cause.

'Sissies'

In recent months Indonesian authorities have grown bolder in their attacks on the country's LGBT population.

Before dawn on January 28, police raided beauty salons in conservative Aceh province, dragging 12 transgender women out to the streets. The women were then shaved, taken into custody and forced to act as men.

In a video taken shortly after the raid, North Aceh Police Chief Ahmad Untung Surianata speaks to a crowd that gathered to watch the arrests, describing the group of women as part of a "disease."

"This "disease" is contagious and growing... It is inhumane if I let the number of sissies increase in this area," he tells the crowd.

Speaking to CNN days after the incident, Surianata insisted it had not been an anti-LGBT operation but instead a drug raid to investigate reports of crystal meth being circulated in the area.

Jakarta-based activist Kate Walton said the violence shocked and horrified Indonesia's already nervous LGBT community.

"One concerning element was that the police chief said he had the right to do this because he had consulted with Islamic leaders beforehand," she said. "So people are starting to ask – who is really in charge in Aceh? The government or the religious leaders?"

The rise of powerful Islamic conservatives in Indonesia, mostly unopposed by senior politicians, has emboldened authorities with a low opinion of LGBT people to act against them.

Hundreds of Indonesian men have been arrested by police in raids on gay saunas and private events across Java, ostensibly for breaking pornography laws, while local media reported more than a dozen LGBT apps have been made unavailable inside the country at the government's request.

UN Human Rights head Zeid said he found the recent "extremist views" playing out across Indonesia "deeply worrying," during his visit in February.

"Accompanied as they are by rising levels of incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence in various parts of the country, including Aceh," he said.

"Islamophobia is wrong. Discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs and color is wrong. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or any other status is wrong," he said.

'We should fight together'

It's no coincidence the brutal crackdown on LGBT Indonesians and the showdown over the criminal code comes just before a series of national elections, set to take place over the next 14 months.

Local elections for governors and mayors across Indonesia's dozens of provinces are due to take place in June 2018, while Indonesian President Joko Widodo faces a battle for re-election in April 2019.

Indonesian politicians are scared to oppose conservative Muslim groups after they were instrumental in the toppling and imprisonment of once-popular Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, in May 2017, Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono said.

"Many Islamist leaders are going to put pressure on every politician (to pass the criminal code)... Many politicians in a conservative country like Indonesia will think twice before standing up for an LGBT individual," he said.

It isn't unusual for harsh rhetoric against minorities such as LGBT Indonesians to be used prior to an election to gain votes, but unlike in previous political cycles, experts believe the current hostile environment could be here to stay.

There is no confirmed date for when the final vote on the criminal code will come, or what form the final legislation might take. A vote was postponed in mid-February and activists say it could take place in April, when the next plenary session in Indonesia's parliament is scheduled.

Despite the looming possibility of criminalization and even a jail sentence, Ael said he had never for a moment thought about leaving Indonesia, despite the growing hostility towards LGBT people such as himself.

"I've never imagined that situation because we should fight for this issue. Who will work for this issue if all of us young people go out from this country?" he told CNN.

"We are the future of this country so we should fight for this issue. We should fight together."

Indonesia's LGBT crackdown

Sources: CNN, Human Rights Watch, Tempo

Indonesia's 'archaic' penal code

Lawmakers in Indonesia have been trying to agree on a new version of their criminal code for years – to replace the system of laws first put in place by Dutch colonists.

"Imagine running any modern country with a code which was written in the 1880s. It's not going to work," Tim Lindsey, director of the Center for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society at the University of Melbourne, told CNN.

He says the outdated code imposes inappropriate penalties which are no longer used because they're archaic or fines that are ridiculously low.

So far attempts to bring together Indonesia's fractious national parliament to fix the code of laws have been unsuccessful.

"There hasn't been consensus on a range of difficult issues from the death penalty, to religion and blasphemy, to defamation," he said.

The National Alliance on Reform of the Indonesian Criminal Code (Reformasi KUHP) was formed in 2005 to address this very issue, but even they have come out against the current draft of the new code.

The organization said it was concerned the new criminal code could negatively affect Indonesia's democracy and freedom of expression, while harming the country's "vulnerable groups."

[Journalists Devianti Faridz and Kathy Quiano contributed to this report.]

Source: https://us.cnn.com/2018/02/25/asia/indonesia-lgbt-criminal-code-intl/index.html

Terrorism & religious extremism

MUI asks Jokowi to give clemency to Abu Bakar Baasyir

Tempo - February 28, 2018

Friski Riana, Jakarta – Chairman of Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) Maruf Amin asked President Joko Widodo or Jokowi to give clemency to terrorist convict Abu Bakar Baasyir.

Baasyir has served nearly seven years in prison. Initially, he was imprisoned in Nusakambangan, Central Java. However, due to the declining health condition, he was transferred to Gunung Sindur Detention Center in Bogor.

Abu Bakar Baasyir received a verdict of 15 years in prison since 2011 over terrorism.

Maruf Amin also asked Jokowi to give permission for Baasyir to be hospitalized. He said Jokowi approved the request.

The presidential spokesperson Johan Budi said he could not comment on the request of Abu Bakar Baasyir's hospitalization. "I want to confirm it first," he said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/28/055916152/MUI-Asks-Jokowi-to-Give-Clemency-to-Abu-Bakar-Baasyir

Vigilante & para-military groups

Mahfud MD: Illegal sweeping is unlawful acts

Antara - February 28, 2018

Bogor – The constitutional law expert Mahfud MD said illegal sweeping acts which often done by certain groups were unlawful acts. "In any name, it (sweeping) violates the law," said Mahfud in Bogor, West Java, Tuesday, February 27.

The former Chief of Constitutional Court gave the statement in the socialization of the Citizenship Constitutional Rights Development for Indonesian Journalists. The event was organized by the Constitutional Court in cooperation with the Press Council.

Mahfud set an example of illegal sweeping acts, at the time Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a fatwa (rule) on banning Muslim to wear Christmas attributes, some groups conducted sweeping to markets and shopping centers and forced the Muslim workers to take off the Christmas attributes on them. "Those people (who conducting sweeping) can be punished," he said.

Mahfud MD stated that only Police and Indonesian Military (TNI) have the rights to do sweeping acts. The police duty is to enforce the law for those who violate security and order in society. While the TNI duty is to uphold the law if there is any threat to the state's resilience.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/28/055916148/Mahfud-MD-Illegal-Sweeping-is-Unlawful-Acts

Freedom of religion & worship

Prominent politician claims 'powerful individual' behind attacks on

CNN Indonesia - February 22, 2018

Abi Sarwanto, Jakarta – United Development Party (PPP) chairperson Muhammad Romahurmuziy suspects that there is a "powerful individual" behind the recent spate of attacks on Islamic scholars and religious figures.

According to Romi, as he is known to his friends, this suspicion is based on the results of an investigation by a fact finding team formed by the PPP after communicating with people in the area where the attacks occurred. "It showed that there are suspicions of a former powerful figure in this republic who is systematically carrying it out", Romahurmuziy said at the CNN Indonesia editorial office on Thursday February 22.

The aim of the attacks, said Romahurmuziy, is to create a perception among the public that the government of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo does not have the capacity to deal with security matters and simultaneously the need for a firm and strong leader.

"Because [of the attacks] what is needed is a government that has a strong security capacity", he asserted.

Nevertheless, Romahurmuziy was reluctant to confirm that the attacks are being carried out by a former strong man with a military background. He said only that there are two groups who might be capable of carrying out such a design.

"But I think there is an interest group, the number of such groups in this republic are very, very limited, only one or two groups in this republic could possibly have the capacity to work systematically [like this]", he said.

A pattern of attacks such as this he said resembles a series of incidents that befell leading religious figures in the lead up to the fall of former president Suharto's New Order regime.

"We suspect that this pattern is the same as the pattern in the lead up to Suharto's fall in 1996, when many Nahdlatul Ulama kiai [Islamic teachers] at the lowest levels, mosque ustad [Islamic teachers], prayer room ustad, were accused of being black magic practitioners and killed", he said.

Based on his records, there have been at least 20 attacks against ulama and 15 of the perpetrators have been identified as suffering from mental illness. These attacks are believed to have been carried out in a systematic manner by these forces.

According to Romahurmuziy, it is impossible that the attacks on ulama and religious figures were carried out by the ruling administration. The government, he said, would only harm itself by doing such a thing. Moreover, the current government would be incapable of carrying out such systematic attacks.

A series of attacks against religious leaders have been taking place since late January.

The first attack occurred at the Al Hidayah Cicalengka Islamic boarding school (ponpes) in Bandung regency, West Java. The head of the boarding school KH Umar Basri was attacked and assaulted following dawn prayers on January 27.

On February 1 there was an attack on Islamic Union (Persis) leader Ustaz Prawoto and on February 11 an attack on the Santa Lidwina Bedog Church in Sleman, Yogyakarta.

National police criminal investigation chief Commissioner General Ari Dono has revealed that there have been 21 attacks on religious leaders in six provinces: Aceh, Banten, Jakarta, West Barat, Yogyakarta and East Java.

According to Dono the largest number of attacks have occurred in West Java with a total of 13 incidents followed by East Java with a total of four incidents (arh)

Notes

1. Although Romahurmuziy does not say who the alleged "powerful figure" is, it is clear that he is referring to former Special Forces (Kopassus) commander and Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) leader Prabowo Subianto, who was responsible for the abduction and disappearance of pro-democracy activists in 1997-98 and is believed to have orchestrated the 1998 anti-Chinese riots in Jakarta prior to the fall of former president Suharto's. Subianto, who is widely expected to run against incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the 2019 presidential election, is portrayed by his supporters as a "firm" and "strong" military leader who can maintain security and public order.

2. Over several months starting in October 1998, around 150 people were murdered in a mysterious killing spree in East Java. Initially the victims were alleged practitioners of "black magic" (dukun santen) who were abducted and killed by organised groups of "ninjas", so called because they wore black masks and clothing. The killings later spread to Muslim scholars and teachers – particularly members of the Islamic mass-organisation Nahdlatul Ulama. Several prominent people at the time claimed that the killings were orchestrated to spread unrest in the run-up to the 1999 elections.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "PPP Duga Ada Orang Kuat di Balik Penyerangan Tokoh Agama".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20180222174145-32-278123/ppp-duga-ada-orang-kuat-di-balik-penyerangan-tokoh-agama/

MUI calls on national police to explain mounting attacks on religious

Jakarta Globe - February 22, 2018

Sheany, Jakarta – Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council, or MUI, Advisory Board, said on Wednesday (21/02) that recent incidents against religious leaders and places of worship in the country are "systematic" attacks and called on the National Police to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.

"We've concluded that these incidents did not take place in a vacuum, but rather as part of something manufactured and systematic," Din said during a press conference in Jakarta.

MUI cited a series of violent attacks on priests, monks and Muslim clerics, as well as places of worship, across Indonesia since December and expressed concerns over what appears to be mounting incidents.

Earlier this month, a sword-wielding assailant attacked the Saint Lidwina Catholic church in Yogyakarta, injuring four, including a priest and a policeman. Last week, a Muslim ulema was beaten in an attack in Lamongan, East Java.

Reports on the increasing violent attacks from local media claimed the attackers suffer from mental disorders.

On Wednesday, the MUI Advisory Board held a meeting with the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) and the National Police's Criminal Investigation Unit (Bareskrim) to discuss the issue.

Bareskrim chief Comr. Gen. Ari Dono Sukmanto said his unit recorded 21 incidents against religious leaders and places of worship between December and February, most of which took place in West Java.

"We are still conducting investigations... we [the police] must not conclude right away that the perpetrators are mentally ill, only medical experts can conclude such things," Ari told reporters after the meeting.

According to Ari, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian has urged his subordinates not to comment on an individual's mental health but instead to let experts determine such diagnoses so as to avoid public misinterpretation.

"Public order police conducts patrols and if they find an individual suspected of suffering from a mental disorder, he will be taken for an examination," Ari explained.

He added that it's still too early to conclude that the incidents were premeditated. "MUI is urging the police to provide an explanation as soon as possible, to put an end to all the hubbub going on around these incidents," MUI secretary general Anwar Abbas said.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/mui-calls-national-police-explain-mounting-attacks-religious-leaders/

Politics & religion

Baswedan 'still respects Rizieq' despite claims FPI leader was used to

Tempo - February 23, 2018

Muhammad Hendartyo, Jakarta – Mardani Ali Sera has clarified a statement by sacked Alumni Presidium 212 founder Faizal Assegaf who said that Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan used Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Habib Rizieq Shihab to win the Jakarta election.

"Perhaps the intention of Faizal's statement was to remind us all to always take care of each other and not forget each other's [contributions]. This is good for us all", said Mardani when contacted by Tempo on Friday February 23.

Mardani, who is also the deputy secretary general of the Islamic based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), was formally the head of the Governor Anies Baswedan and Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno election campaign team in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election.

Assegaf was dismissed from the Presidium Alumni 212 after he made a statement on February 17 calling on Rizieq Shihab to return home to Indonesia to face justice like the "noble" former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

Assegaf accused Baswedan to using Rizieq Shihab purely in the interests of winning the Jakarta election.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that Anies used Rizieq Shihab and the Islamic community for the interests of the Jakarta gubernatorial election, and this suspicion has long been highlighted internally within the Presidium 212", said Assegaf in a written message on Thursday February 22.

Mardani said that Baswedan respects Rizieq Shihab and always maintains friendly relations with him. "Including maintain a good and productive relationship with [our] FPI friends", said Mardani in explaining Assegaf's criticisms of Baswedan.

Notes

1. Fugitive Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab is currently hiding in Saudi Arabia having fled Indonesia after being charged under the anti-pornography law last year over alleged steamy WhatsApp chats with a woman named Firza Husein which went viral on social media.

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

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Anies Baswedan Dikritik, Mardani: Dia Menghormati Rizieq Shihab".]

Source: https://metro.tempo.co/read/1063604/anies-baswedan-dikritik-mardani-dia-menghormati-rizieq-shihab

Anies 'only using' FPI leader Rizieq Shihab to win election, says ex-212

Coconuts Jakarta - February 23, 2018

Faizal Assegaf would once have been considered an important ally of Rizieq Shihab, the fugitive founder of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

Faizal was one of the founders of another Islamist group, Presidium Alumni 212, made up of "alumni" of the massive December 2, 2016 protest against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for alleged blasphemy against Islam.

Rizieq was the figurehead of the 212 protest and was even declared the high priest of all Indonesian Muslims (which is not actually a thing, FYI) by the 212 alumni. But Faizal was kicked out of the Presidium this week for daring to negatively compare Rizieq, who is still a fugitive from Indonesian justice hiding in Saudi Arabia, to "noble" Ahok who faced his blasphemy charges in court.

But don't think Faizal has lost faith in Rizieq. Despite being ousted from his position, he still sought to help the firebrand cleric by accusing current Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan of taking advantage of Rizieq just to defeat Ahok in the election.

"It is clear that Anies was only using Rizieq Shihab and Muslims in the Jakarta elections, and that suspicion has long been highlighted internal within Presidium 212," Faizal Assegaf said in a release yesterday picked up by Tempo.

Faizal said that Anies could help Rizieq return to Indonesia safely by meeting him in Saudi Arabia, but refuses to do so.

"It is a form of betrayal to the ulema Islamic scholars and 212 elements," Faizal wrote. He added, "Anies should have realized that without the great contributions of Rizieq Shihab, the ulema and the 212 elements, he would never be the ruler of the nation's capital."

Although some argued that the anti-Ahok protests were based purely on religious sentiment and were not politically motivated (as one of the judges who convicted Ahok in his blasphemy trial asserted as fact), the more time passes, the more Islamists are willing to flat-out admit that it was all about politics so that they can get what they feel is the credit they deserve for Anies' win.

During his campaign, Anies was often criticized for his blatant attempts at wooing the support of Islamic hardliners like the FPI, such as when he was pictured speaking next to their leader Rizieq at an event in early January 2017. However, he denied allegations he was pandering to Islamists and said he wanted to be a leader that united people instead of dividing them.

Asked about Faisal's statements regarding Anies and Rizieq's relationship, Anies' former campaign co-chair, Mardani Ali Sera, said yesterday that Anies still respects Rizieq and has good relations with his "FPI friends". He also said Faizal's statement were really about how we should all take care of each other.

There were rumors that Rizieq would return to Indonesia this Wednesday, leading hundreds of his other die hard followers to travel to Soekarno-Hatta Airport to welcome him, but he (once again) decided not to return to his homeland and face being arrested by the police as a suspect in a high-profile pornography case, among others.

[The original title of this article was " Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan was clearly 'only using' FPI leader Rizieq Shihab to win election, says ex-212 alumni leader".]

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/jakarta-governor-anies-baswedan-clearly-using-fpi-leader-rizieq-shihab-win-election-says-ex-212-alumni-leader/

Sacked Alumni 212 founder says Baswedan used FPI leader Rizieq Shihab to

Tempo - February 22, 2018

Muhammad Hendartyo, Jakarta – Recently sacked founder of the Presidium Alumni 212, Faizal Assegaf, has accused Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan of using Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Habib Rizieq Shihab to win the Jakarta gubernatorial election.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that Anies used Rizieq Shihab and the Islamic community for the interests of the Jakarta gubernatorial election, and this suspicion has long been highlighted internally within the Presidium 212", said Assegaf in a written message on Thursday February 22.

According to Assegaf, Baswedan's refusal to assist Rizieq Shihab's return to Indonesia, "Is a betrayal of the ulama [Islamic scholars] and the 212 organisations", said Assegaf.

Assegaf believes that Baswedan as the gubernatorial candidate that they backed must pay attention to and take positive action to find a solution the problems facing Rizieq Shihab.

"The fact is however that since occupying the soft seat [of the governorship], Anies appears to be favouring and inclined towards embracing just his own group".

"But when it's Habib Rizieq's turn to be arbitrarily mistreated, the one who fought to make him governor, he is just tossed aside", said Assegaf.

"Anies must be aware that without the great contribution of Rizieq Shihab, the ulama and 212 organisations, he would never have become the ruler of this country's capital. The 'rung in a ladder politics' ['politik anak tangga' – to use others as steps to climb the ladder to power] approach demonstrated by Anies just took advantage of the ulama and the Islamic community", said Assegaf.

"After achieving his goal of power, the aspirations and problems faced by the ulama and the people have been abandoned. [We] must be on guard against this inelegant behaviour", said Assegaf. He also called on Baswedan to meet with Rizieq Shihab in Mecca.

Assegaf was dismissed from the Presidium Alumni 212 after he made a statement on February 17 calling on Rizieq Shihab to return home to Indonesia to face justice like the "noble" former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

When asked about the request for him to meet with Rizieq Shihab in Saudi Arabia, Governor Baswedan simply shook his head. "Oh, it's like that, yes? I have no comment", he said at the Jakarta City Hall on Wednesday February 21.

Notes

1. Fugitive Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab is currently hiding in Saudi Arabia having fled Indonesia after being charged under the anti-pornography law last year over alleged steamy WhatsApp chats with a woman named Firza Husein which went viral on social media.

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

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Alumni 212 yang Dipecat: Anies Baswedan Manfaatkan Rizieq Shihab".]

Source: https://metro.tempo.co/read/1063402/alumni-212-yang-dipecat-anies-baswedan-manfaatkan-rizieq-shihab

FPI: Rizieq Shihab may become president if emergency

Tempo - February 21, 2018

Chitra Paramaesti, Jakarta – General Secretary of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) Jakarta Novel Bamukmin said that if God wills, FPI leader Rizieq Shihab may become the next President of Indonesia.

"If this country is in an emergency [situation] and Indonesian citizen ask for Habib Rizieq to lead Indonesia then it might happen," Novel told Tempo on Friday, February 23.

Novel claimed such statement is in a condition had Rizieq Shihab appointed without running the election. "But based on people's deliberation, not by democracy," he added.

National Survey Media Institute (Median) conducted a survey about the Presidential Election. The names Rizieq Shihab and the preacher Abdul Somad or mostly called as Ustadh Somad was in the list of figure name who is considered worthy of running election as the presidential candidate. The survey revealed that Rizieq Shihab's electability is 0.3 percent, the same number for Abdul Somad's electability.

Median Director Rico Marbun said the names of Rizieq Shihab and Abdul Somad, along with 33 names submitted by respondents, were emerged as respondents were authorized to file the candidate name.

The survey was conducted on February 1-9, by taking 1,000 respondents with an error rate limit of 3.1 percent approximately. The survey claimed a 95 percent of confidence level. The samples were randomly selected by multistage random sampling technique.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2018/02/23/055915995/FPI-Rizieq-Shihab-May-Become-President-if-Emergency

Parliament & legislation

Parliament passes controversial law targeting its critics, anti

ABC Radio Australia - February 28, 2018

Michael Walsh and Nurina Savitri – Members of Indonesia's House of Representatives have come under fire for passing a law giving themselves powers to obstruct corruption investigations and even press charges against their critics.

The revised Law of Representative Assemblies – locally referred to as the MD3 law – may also allow members to compel police to haul people into the House of Representatives (DPR) to face questioning from politicians.

Petitions against the changes have gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures since they were passed on February 12, and challenges to the law in Indonesia's Constitutional Court are already being prepared.

The MD3 law is set to come into force on March 13 unless President Joko Widodo – whose own party led the revisions – ratifies it sooner.

Observers say the law went largely unnoticed as it was passed at the same time as controversial LGBT laws.

Dini Purwono, a member of the Indonesian Solidarity Party's legal division, told the ABC it had filed a judicial review objecting to the "ambiguous" nature of the laws.

"It endangers justice and democracy. In fact, they are against our constitution," Ms Purwono said. "I feel like we're going backward, it's authoritarianism in a sense."

Professor Tim Lindsey, the director of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society at the University of Melbourne, said the revisions constituted a "very dramatic accrual of powers".

"It's aiming to create a DPR that is able to resist criticism, and stifle criticism, and which protects its members from prosecution," he said.

The law change comes as DPR members continue to wage war with Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission, which has led numerous high-profile investigations into politicians.

"Many of the critics of the DPR in Indonesia talk about a slow unwinding of democracy in Indonesia," Professor Lindsey said. "It's probably too soon to say whether that's the case, but these elements don't bode well."

Critics may be hauled before Parliament

A vaguely worded article within the revised law allows members of the House of Representatives (DPR) to press charges against anybody who "tarnishes the dignity" of the Parliament or its members.

"That has a potentially enormously wide scope," Professor Lindsey said. "It seems that the DPR has given itself power that may be wide enough to allow it to bring criminal proceedings against its critics, including the media or civil society."

Professor Lindsey said another article making it mandatory for police to bring people before the Parliament for questioning could be used both against such critics, as well as corruption investigators.

"It's almost as if the Australian Parliament was out arresting people and dragging them before Senate Estimates," Professor Lindsey said.

"The DPR has a got a terrible track record of corruption and misconduct on a grand scale... so if you try and criticise it, does that mean that you will find yourself facing legal steps from the House Ethics Council?"

A third article facing scrutiny forces police and corruption investigators to "consider the views" of the DPR's Ethics Council before investigating a member of parliament.

Indonesia's Constitutional Court struck out a similar article in the same law back in 2014 – the original wording allowed the parliament to fully prevent investigations.

"It's softer than the previous provision, but it's clearly trying to make it as difficult and as obstructive as possible for anyone to question DPR members for crimes, particularly for example corruption," Professor Lindsey said.

Jokowi's hands are tied

Mr Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, is yet to sign the revisions into law – a sign of how much public opposition the legislation has sparked.

"I understand the unrest in society about this. We all want the quality of our democracy to increase, not to decrease," Mr Widodo wrote on Twitter last week.

Mr Widodo's own Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) was one of the leading forces behind the revisions, which were supported by eight political parties.

But Professor Ian Wilson, an Indonesian politics researcher at Murdoch University, said there is not much the leader can do as the laws will automatically come into force after 30 days, even if he does not ratify them.

"There's been a huge backlash. There's online petitions. There's been a variety of civil organisations, advocacy groups that are lobbying now largely to the President for the laws to not be ratified," Professor Wilson said.

"He has in principle the capacity to not ratify the laws, but that doesn't mean that they won't necessarily pass anyway."

The politics around the issue is complicated by a series of regional elections to be held this year, as well as the upcoming presidential elections in April 2019.

"The President probably will be seen as trying to establish a middle ground, not alienating his party support base within Parliament, but at the same time there's a populist position he could take," Professor Wilson said.

"Many people see this as Parliament seeking to protect itself. It's a deeply mistrusted and generally disliked institution in Indonesia – poll after poll shows that people have very little faith or trust in Indonesian parliament."

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2018-02-28/indonesian-parliament-passes-controversial-law-targeting-its-critics-anticorruption-commission/1739350

Controversial MD3 law amendment can be enacted without president's

Jakarta Globe - February 23, 2018

Telly Nathalia, Jakarta – Even though President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has not signed a recent amendment to the 2014 Legislative Law, it will still be enacted, a legal expert said on Friday (23/02).

The amendment to the law, which is locally know as the MD3 law, was passed by the House of Representatives on Feb. 12.

Civil society groups have expressed concerns, especially over Article 122 of the law, which grants the House's ethics council the power to press charges against those critical of the legislature and its members, if they "disrespect the dignity of the House and its members."

An online petition to reject the amendment has been circulated by individuals and organizations such as Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) and the Indonesian Center of Law and Policy Studies (PSHK). As of Friday afternoon, it was signed by more than 190,500 people.

In a Twitter post, the president said he did not sign the proposed amendment.

"I understand these concerns," Jokowi said in the post and in a statement issued by the Cabinet Secretariat on Wednesday. "We all want the quality of our democracy to continue to rise, not to fall," the president added.

But the amendment will be automatically enacted, former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD told the Jakarta Globe.

"After 30 days, if it [the draft] is not signed, it will be automatically enacted, in accordance with Article 20, Section 5, of the Constitution," he said, adding that on the 31st day since the law was passed, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights will have to issue its official number.

A similar case occurred during Megawati Sukarnoputri's term, Mahfud said, when the former president did not sign the Law on Sabang Free Trade and Free Port Zone.

Source: http://jakartaglobe.id/news/controversial-md3-law-amendment-can-enacted-without-presidents-signature/

Indonesian president puts off signing law protecting parliament

Reuters - February 22, 2018

Jakarta – Indonesian President Joko Widodo has delayed signing a draft law that would allow parliament to crack down on criticism aimed at its members or the legislature, suggesting it could undermine the quality of the country's democracy.

Members of parliament have proposed modifying laws governing parliament to allow an internal ethics council to take legal action against any individual or group that insults the house or its members.

But Widodo, citing concern among the public, who widely see parliament as corrupt, said he had put off signing it.

"The draft is on my desk but I have not signed it yet. I understand the public's concern about this issue. We all want the quality of our democracy to improve, not deteriorate," Widodo said on Twitter late on Wednesday. He did not say if he would sign it.

Rights groups and anti-corruption activists have criticised the proposed law, saying it could harm freedom of speech and slow a fight against endemic graft.

Surveys show that Indonesians have for years perceived parliament to be among the country's most corrupt institutions. An anti-graft watchdog has said the majority of its investigations involve members of parliament.

Legislators say the law would protect them from "false allegations" of corruption and other criticism. "It is important to differentiate between criticism and insult. People should not make accusations without legal facts that they can be held accountable for," said one member of the assembly, Firman Subagyo.

[Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor and Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Robert Birsel.]

Source: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-indonesia-politics/indonesian-president-puts-off-signing-law-protecting-parliament-idUKKCN1G60F4?rpc=401&

Jakarta & urban life

Jakarta's traffic ranked 12th worst in the world according to new survey

Coconuts Jakarta - February 26, 2018

Jakarta definitely has the some of the worst, most maddening traffic in the world – nobody is denying that. But does the Indonesian capital really have "The Worst Traffic in the World" as some other publications have declared?

According to the latest INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard, not quite. But according to the annual report from the transportation analytics company, it is getting worse. In their 2017 scorecard, which was just released over the weekend, Jakarta was ranked as having the 12th worst traffic in the world. That a significant drop from it's ranking as 22nd last year.

The INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard claims to be the largest study of its kind, analyzing data from 38 countries, and 1,360 cities. So which 11 cities are somehow unlucky enough to have worse traffic than Jakarta?

As you can see, Jakarta just managed to edge out nearby Bangkok, which came in at 11th in the ranking. A few western capital cities also beat out the Big Durian, with Paris coming in 9th and London 7th. Quite a few US cities are near the top of the list as well including Los Angeles, which was ranked as having the worst traffic in the world yet again this year.

One of the measures used in the study is "hours spent in congestion". According to INRIX's data, Jakartans spend an average of 63 hours sitting in traffic per year (up from 55 last year). Which is, obviously, terrible, but compared to the 102 hours that Los Angelinos supposedly spend per year in traffic, it doesn't seem quite so bad (of course, the fact that they can use that time to break out into award-winning song and dance numbers probably eases the pain).

We would also note that the hours spent in congestion metric is measured only using traffic "during peak hours based upon 240 commuting days". As any Jakartan who has somehow managed to get stuck in a slow moving traffic jam on a Saturday afternoon can attest, the macet here is certainly not limited to weekday rush hours.

At any rate, the fact that Jakarta's ranking dropped significantly over the last year is troubling. While initial construction on the capital's MRT and LRT transit systems are supposed to be completed within the next two years, analysts have their doubts about how much those can really help considering the thousands of new cars and motorcycles hitting Jakarta's streets every single day.

It's been estimated that Jakarta's traffic costs the capital about USD$5 billion per year, primarily in lost productivity. If bolder anti-macet measures aren't put in place soon (such as electronic road pricing and vastly increased tariffs on vehicle ownership), the capital might not just drop even further towards the top of these ranking, it may grind to a standstill altogether.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/jakartas-traffic-ranked-12th-worst-world-according-new-survey/

Retail & service industry

Again, Jokowi extends KPPU commissioners' term

Jakarta Post - February 28, 2018

Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has issued a decree to extend the office term of the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) commissioners after the House of Representatives failed to confirm any of the 18 commissioner candidates he submitted in November, last year.

"I need to inform the media that the Keppres (presidential decision) on the extension of the terms of the 2012-2017 KPPU commissioners has been signed by the President," said presidential spokesman Johan Saptopribowo in a statement on Wednesday.

He said the extension period was valid for two months until April 27, 2018. It is the second extension after the KPPU commissioners' original term ended on Dec. 27, 2017.

On Nov. 22, 2017, the President submitted the names of 18 KPPU commissioner candidates to the House for approval. Under the existing regulation, the House is required to carry out fit and proper tests of the candidates before electing nine of them.

However, House Commission VI, which is tasked with electing the KPPU commissioners, rejected to hold fit and proper tests, arguing that the selection team had not done its job properly in nominating the candidates.

The President initially extended the current commissioners' term until Feb. 28. Johan said that the President had called on the House Commission VI to immediately conduct fit and proper tests for the 18 KPPU commissioner candidates. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/28/again-jokowi-extends-kppu-commissioners-term.html

Competition watchdog suspends operation as House fails to elect

Jakarta Post - February 28, 2018

Jakarta – The Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) is temporary closed as of Wednesday after the House of Representatives rejected to confirm any of the KPPU candidates, who were submitted by the government in November, 2017.

Business group Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) deputy chairman Shinta W. Kamdani criticized the House for its reluctance to hold a fit and proper test of the KPPU commissioner candidates. "We have called for the immediate election of the new commissioners," she said as reported by kompas.com.

Meanwhile, head of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) expert team Sutrisno Iwantoro said although the KPPU's decisions were often counterproductive to businesses, its existence was legal under Law No. 5/1999 on the prohibition of monopolies and unhealthy business competition.

"The House should buy time. The President carried out his constitutional obligation by submitting the KPPU candidates. The ball is in the House' court," Sutrisno.

In November 2017, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo submitted 18 KPPU candidates to the House, which is required to elect nine as KPPU commissioners.

The office term of the outgoing KPPU commissioners ended on Dec. 27, 2017. The President extended their terms until Feb. 28. But the President had not issued any decree to extend the commissioners' terms as of Tuesday night.

Previously, House Commission VI chairman Teguh Juwarno argued that the commission had not held fit and proper tests for the 18 KPPU commissioner candidates, as lawmakers saw many irregularities in the selection of the candidates. (bbn)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/28/business-watchdog-closed-as-house-fails-to-elect-commissioners.html

Ferrari optimistic about Indonesian sales

Jakarta Post - February 25, 2018

Jakarta – Citra Langgeng Otomotif, Indonesia's authorized Ferrari distributor, is optimistic about its sales prospects this year as it continues to strengthen its presence within its specific target market, which has remained relatively immune to the sluggish growth of the country's automotive industry.

The company's CEO, Arie Christopher, said Ferrari had personally approached its existing and prospective customers to increase the exclusivity of its brand.

One of the aspects of its exclusivity is maintaining the confidentiality of prices of Ferrari's vehicles in Indonesia, which are discussed solely between the company and its customers.

"So far, we are still on track in sales," he told The Jakarta Post on Saturday, declining to disclose the sales value recorded in 2017.

Indonesia's car sales stood at 1.08 million units in 2017, a mere 1.6 percent growth over the previous year, according to data from the Indonesian Automotive Manufacturers Association (Gaikindo) show.

On Saturday, Ferrari Indonesia showcased the California T "Superameric," with livery number 16 and the 488 GTB "Test Driver" with livery number 63 to promote the manufacturer's global tailor-made customization program.

The tailor-made program allows customers to customize the interior and exterior appearances of their new Ferraris.

Arie said the company had delivered 20 tailor-made customized Ferrari cars to Indonesian customers, with six of them agreeing to sign up with the program. (ami/gda)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/25/ferrari-optimistic-about-indonesian-sales.html

Criminal justice & legal system

Yogyakarta academicians call on MK chief justice to step down

Jakarta Post - February 22, 2018

Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta – Around 300 academicians, comprising lecturers, professors and students, from Yogyakarta have called on Arief Hidayat to step down from his position as Constitutional Court (MK) chief justice and member for ethical violations he has allegedly committed.

"As an academician, especially as a law professor, you [Arief] should have understood well that ethical violations are a shame in the career of a constitutional justice, who should be highly respected and [act ethically]," said Eko Riyadi from the Indonesian Islamic University's (UII) School of Law, when he read out a joint statement during a demonstration at Gadjah Mada University on Wednesday.

As of today, Arief still serves as MK chief justice despite pressure from various groups, which have expected his immediate resignation.

The MK Ethics Council has said Arief is proven to have violated ethics twice. First, he gave a special message to a junior attorney at the Attorney General's Office and asked him to "assist" a prosecutor at the Trenggalek Prosecutors' Office in 2016. The second time was when he met with members of the House of Representatives' Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, during his nomination as an MK justice in 2017.

Eko said two constitutional ethics violations committed by Arief showed that he could not act as a statesman.

Eko also deplored Arief's previous statements, in which he said criticisms launched by a number academicians were politically motivated.

"We, as academicians, are really concerned with your condition, in which you could no longer think and act wisely. Therefore, we call on Pak Arief to immediately step down." (gis/ebf)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/22/yogyakarta-academicians-call-on-mk-chief-justice-to-step-down.html

Foreign affairs & trade

60 Years of diplomatic relations with Indonesia: black marks on the

The Daily Blog - February 27, 2018

Maire Leadbeater – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a snazzy theme to promote the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Indonesia: '60 years as friends for good'.

I'm all for friendship with the Indonesian people, but the diplomatic relationship has been badly marred over the years by our complicity and silence in the face of a long list of human rights crimes.

The 24 year Indonesian occupation of East Timor is a well-known example, but there are other egregious examples including the matter of the 1965 massacres, when the 'New Order' regime set about killing half a million people accused of 'communist sympathies'. New Zealand officials were well-informed about the scale and arbitrary nature of killings, but they welcomed Suharto's rise to power and one diplomat told a 1967 parliamentary committee that the transfer of power had been 'surprisingly peaceful'. At that time New Zealand's diplomatic representation in Jakarta was upgraded from a Legation to a full Embassy.

New Zealand's diplomatic relations with Indonesia began in 1958 when Dr A. Y. Helmi, Indonesia's Canberra based Ambassador, was accredited to New Zealand, and in 1961 New Zealand's Colombo Plan office in Jakarta was upgraded to a Consulate General. Back then there was a strong focus on New Zealand aid – especially educational and technical training support.

One of the first clouds on the horizon came in 1960. The future of Netherlands New Guinea, as it was at the time, was at a crossroads. The Dutch were preparing the territory for eventual independence, but Indonesia was insisting that it should be incorporated into the Indonesian Republic. The other half of the New Guinea island – today's Papua New-Guinea- was administered by Australia under UN mandate.

New Zealand's Prime Minister, Walter Nash, put forward a proposal that the two halves of the New Guinea Island should be placed under joint trusteeship and prepared for eventual independence as one country. Nash put forward his initiative in The Hague in May 1960 and this prompted a trip across the Tasman by Dr Helmi. Declassified reports show that Dr Helmi's attempt to sway Mr Nash from his position wasn't successful. Nash said that the people of New Guinea might need more time to get ready, but one day, like people everywhere, they would want to be independent.

Nash underestimated the forces against him – the United States and Australia had come to the conclusion that Indonesia mattered more to them than the people of West Papua, and were quietly letting the Dutch know that they would be on their own should Indonesia carry out its threats of force. But he was on the right track and over the years Papuan leaders have often upheld the idea of one united country: 'from Sorong to Samarai'.

Unfortunately, New Zealand soon fell into line, burying its qualms about the way the 1962 US brokered 'New York agreement' handed the territory to Indonesia on a plate. Our Ambassador observed part of the subsequent 1969 so-called 'Act of Free Choice', and described a stage-managed process, but his critical report did not prompt any action. During the UN debate that followed, New Zealand stayed silent, leaving it to newly independent African nations to speak up for the West Papuan people.

New Zealand acquiesced to Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East Timor and helped Indonesia to cover up subsequent crimes even as the death toll approached 200,000. Three New Zealanders died in East Timor at the hands of the Indonesian military or militia during the Indonesian occupation: photo-journalist Gary Cunningham in 1975, human rights activist Kamal Bamadhaj in 1991 and peacekeeper Leonard Manning in 2000. Notwithstanding, New Zealand has worked hard to develop and maintain a close bilateral relationship with Indonesia – and because the military is so influential in Indonesian affairs that has included defence ties. Military training ties were suspended in 1999 after the cataclysmic violence in East Timor but resumed again in 2007 in the absence of any indication that the military had changed its spots or been held accountable for its crimes in East Timor.

Sadly, this is very much an ongoing issue as New Zealand says as little as possible about Indonesia's ongoing crime of 'slow genocide' in West Papua. In January it emerged that dozens of children of the Asmat tribe had died of measles exacerbated by widespread malnutrition. The Asmat, famed for their elaborate carving and wood sculptures, struggle to preserve their way of life and diet against the predations of forestry, palm oil plantations and mining. Yet they live, metaphorically speaking, in the shadow of the Freeport McMoran gold and copper mine, Indonesia's largest taxpayer.

The Papuans are calling for their right to self-determination to be respected but for successive New Zealand governments that is an 's' word, never to be uttered for fear of offending Indonesia. Sixty years yes, for good – hardly.

[Maire Leadbeater is one of NZs leading human rights activists. Currently her focus is the human rights abuses in West Papua.]

Source: https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2018/02/27/guest-blog-maire-leadbeater-60-years-of-diplomatic-relations-with-indonesia-black-marks-on-the-record-card/

Mining & energy

Pertamina renewable investment portion to reach 15 percent by 2030

Jakarta Post - February 24, 2018

Viriya P. Singgih, Jakarta – State-owned energy giant Pertamina aims to gradually increase its investment spending for renewable energy to around 15 percent of its total capital expenditure by 2030 from a mere 1 percent at present.

Pertamina set a 2030 target to generate 2,300 megawatts (MW) from geothermal power plants and 600 MW from solar power plants, as well as distribute 17,000 barrels of biofuel per day.

Within the same time frame, the company will be seeking opportunities to produce 300 MW from wind power plants and 200 MW from biomass plants.

"The allocated investment for the renewable energy business might reach around 10 to 15 percent in 2030, compared to only nearly 1 percent as of today," Pertamina investment planning and risk management director Gigih Prakoso told reporters recently.

Pertamina has allocated US$5.59 billion in capital expenditure in 2018, up 55 percent annually. About 59 percent of the allocated figure will be used to support its upstream business activities.

Moreover, Gigih said Pertamina would use organic and inorganic growth strategies to boost its renewable business. "At first, we will develop such a business ourselves. Then, we'll also pursue an acquisition in the next few years," he said.

Pertamina currently operates geothermal power plants with a combined capacity of only 587 MW, a mere 2 percent of the country's total geothermal potential. (dmr)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/02/24/pertamina-renewable-investment-portion-to-reach-15-percent-by-2030.html

Analysis & opinion

Indonesia's ideological convergence: Emerging trend in Islamic

Eurasia Review - February 28, 2018

Alexander R Arifianto – Since the Defending Islam rallies in late 2016 and early 2017, there is a perception of a growing ideological convergence between clerics and activists affiliated with different Indonesian Islamic groups, ranging from mainstream ones such as Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah – the two largest Indonesian Islamic groups, to the more conservative groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) and Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

Beyond the headlines, this apparent convergence can be found in numerous localities throughout Indonesia. Since Indonesia's political decentralisation began in 2001, activists from these groups have worked together in numerous localities throughout Indonesia to successfully enact and implement local shari'ah regulations known as perda shari'ah in these localities. As of today, nearly 450 local regulations have been implemented by more than 100 Indonesian cities and municipalities.

The Pamekasan case

Previous research on Islamic regulations in Indonesia concluded that these regulations were developed to bolster the Islamic credentials of local mayors or regents (bupati) so that they could easily win re-election to their positions. They also found the regulations tend to be enacted in the regions with a strong history of Islamism in their politics, for instance, in West Java and South Sulawesi provinces, which were former sites of the Darul Islam rebellion during the 1950s and early 1960s.

However, research by the RSIS' Indonesia Programme found these regulations are enacted by local councils (DPRD) and executives after extensive lobbying by prominent clerics representing a wide variety of Islamic organisations, which lends support to the ideological convergence thesis outlined above. Also these regulations are now being introduced in areas that historically do not have a strong tradition of regional Islamism, such as in East and Central Java provinces.

An example can be found in the Pamekasan District in Madura Island, East Java province. The regulation here was enacted after an extensive lobbying campaign by a group of local religious scholars (ulama). They were united under the banner of the local branch of the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI), with support from the local branches of NU, Muhammadiyah, Al Irsyad, and Sarekat Islam (SI).

The perda was enacted unanimously by Pamekasan's legislative council owing to the united support from these Islamic organisations, which argued the regulation should be enacted because of the strong Islamic tradition present both within the regency and Madura Island in general.

Uztaz Dwiyanto, the deputy chairman of MUI branch in Pamekasan, said no DPRD councillors were willing to oppose it, as the ulama would have "campaigned to vote them out of office" if they expressed any opposition to the regulation. Kyai Haji Kholil-ur-Rahman, a notable cleric who led the movement to enact the regulation, was then elected as the Bupati of Pamekasan from 2008 to 2013.

After Pamekasan enacted the first perda in 2003, at least five additional regulations were also enacted by the regency – including those which require women to wear headscarves (hijab) while appearing in public places, require all primary school graduates to be tested on their Qur'anic reading proficiency, prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages, and prohibit the establishment of nightclubs and other forms of entertainment within the regency.

The Bojonegoro regulation

A second example can be found in Bojonegoro District, in the border between East and Central Java provinces. While it is historically known as an area where non-observant Muslims (abangan) predominated as late as the 1980s, it is now transformed as a region where deep expressions of Islamic piety now can be seen clearly in the public sphere. This motivates a group of local clerics to promote a perda mandating primary school graduates to recite the Qur'an properly.

Introduced in 2017, the proposed regulation receives strong support from local branches of Islamic organisations, ranging from NU and Muhammadiyah to more conservative groups like HTI. The latter organisation is having an increased following within this rural region. It has established its own Islamic cooperative, which has attracted many small farmers and tradesmen to become its members, because it does not charge any interests on its loans.

With the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) as its primary sponsor, the regulation receives wide support from Bojonegoro's legislative council. The only party which publicly opposes its enactment is the Indonesian Democratic Party Struggle (PDIP), which expresses concerns that the regulation intervenes in the private lives of Bojonegoro residents.

It also believes the perda can be perceived as a regulation that favours Muslims over other religious faiths, something that violates Indonesia's national ideology Pancasila, which promotes the equality of all recognised religious groups in Indonesia.

However, other parties represented in the legislative council have expressed their support for the perda, because they do not want to be seen as intimidating the local ulama who are unanimously supporting it, especially as the regency is due to hold its local election in June this year. It is expected to win an easy passage in the council.

Underlying implications

The effective lobbying for local shari'ah regulations in Pamekasan and Bojonegoro districts illustrates the emerging ideological convergence among activists of mainstream and more conservative Islamic groups in Indonesia to support the enactment of these regulations. This is notwithstanding the fact they are contradictory to the national ideology of Pancasila and the 1945 Indonesian constitution, which bars the creation of laws that favours one religious group above others.

The proliferation of these regulations in multiple localities throughout Indonesia is a 'bottom-up' strategy by Islamic groups to change Indonesia's legal foundation to become more religiously-based instead of Pancasila-based. This is something Indonesian policymakers should be paying more attention to in order to better appreciate the implications for nation building.

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

Source: http://www.eurasiareview.com/28022018-indonesias-ideological-convergence-emerging-trend-in-islamic-regulations-analysis/

What's behind the move to limit foreign researchers' access to

The Conversation - February 28, 2018

Olivia Tasevski – A new requirement for foreign researchers to obtain a permit to enter museums run by the Indonesian military constitutes an attempt to bolster questionable Suharto-era narratives of the nation's history. This is a concerning development for Indonesia's democracy.

The Indonesian military (TNI) recently announced that foreign researchers must request a permit from the military chief intelligence assistant to visit the museums for research purposes.

Among the museums are the Museum of Communist Treachery, which examines highly contested events in Indonesia's political history, and Indonesia's main military museum, Satriamandala.

The events of 1965

The Museum of Communist Treachery, created during Soeharto's dictatorship, depicts the regime's narrative of 1965, to which the TNI still subscribes.

That year, officers from the presidential guard kidnapped and killed seven Indonesian military officers. The operation was called the 30th September Movement.

The army, then led by Soeharto, quickly quashed this movement and claimed the PKI had masterminded the kidnapping of the generals.

The army then carried out an extermination campaign against the PKI with the help of vigilante groups. At least 500,000 PKI members, alleged communists and members of PKI-affiliated organisations were killed. The army also perpetrated mass rape and imprisoned many individuals without trial.

The Museum of Communist Treachery, through its dioramas and captions, depicts the PKI as being behind the kidnapping of the generals and and thus a threat to Indonesians. This narrative is problematic.

Historians remain unclear about the extent to which the PKI was involved in the 30th September Movement. Additionally, the narratives in the museum reinforce Soeharto-era stereotypes of the PKI as "evil and inhuman". Thus, much like the Soeharto regime, the museum seeks to justify the subsequent mass killings as "legal and necessary", according to prominent historian Katharine McGregor.

Importantly, by extension, the museum constitutes an attempt by the TNI to justify its involvement in the killings. Although no perpetrators have been prosecuted, the mass killings were gross human rights abuses that violate international law, notably the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The museum presents a selective and censored narrative of 1965. Although the museum does seek to justify the 1965-66 mass killings, it does not draw attention to them through dioramas or captions.

This approach mirrors the Soeharto regime's intense focus on the killings of the seven army officers through annual commemorations and the creation of a monument to them, rather than the killings of 500,000 Indonesians by the army and vigilante groups.

Likely effects of the regulation

A TNI spokesman argued that the regulation aims to "ensure research is not conducted haphazardly" and is impartial. But, it is likely that the TNI will refuse to provide permits to foreign researchers who have, through their academic work, questioned the Suharto-era version of 1965, condemned the mass killings, or demonstrated sympathy to the victims of the mass killings, imprisonments and rapes from 1965 to 1966.

The TNI might also refuse to provide permits to academics who have been critical of human rights abuses perpetrated by the TNI in the restive Indonesian province of West Papua and during the 1975-99 Indonesian occupation of East Timor.

If this happens, it would be an attempt to censor history and reduce foreign scrutiny of the TNI.

Where to next?

In 2017, the TNI ordered its personnel restrict attempts to publicly screen "The Look of Silence", a documentary that features paramilitaries boasting about their involvement in the mass killings. Instead, TNI personnel were directed to hold public screenings of "Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI" (The Treachery of the 30 September Movement), a Soeharto-government film that justifies the killings.

Thus, the latest regulation needs to be seen as part of a concerted campaign by the TNI to bolster the hegemonic narrative of 1965 and quash counter-narratives.

The TNI could extend this regulation to include other TNI museums that depict the 1965 events, notably The Sacred Pancasila Museum.

Such action would be unwise. Rather than extending the regulation, the TNI should scrap it. The regulation undermines Indonesian democracy, further tarnishes the international reputation of the TNI and threatens academic freedom.

[Olivia Tasevski is a tutor in International Relations and Political Science, University of Melbourne.]

Source: https://theconversation.com/whats-behind-the-move-to-limit-foreign-researchers-access-to-indonesias-military-museums-92056

The 'orang gila' scare in Indonesia

New Mandala - February 24, 2018

Liam Gammon – In the past couple of months, a regular feature of the right wing (for lack of a better term) Indonesian Facebook groups I follow has been "news" of attempted attacks on ulama by orang gila – "crazy people".

Posts about these purported attacks take a similar form: a video or series of photos with a brief description of an incident in which an unknown person makes a threatening appearance at a mosque, pesantren or ulama's house. After being detained by an emotional mob, this orang gila is sometimes said to have "confessed" to being a "sympathiser" of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). Many posts describe the assailant as pura-pura gila or "pretending to be crazy". (A Facebook or Twitter search of "pura-pura gila" or "orang gila" will yield a representative enough sample of these videos; some, I should warn, include distressing vision of purported attackers – many of whom really do not appear to be mentally well – being manhandled or beaten by the crowd.)

This week, the orang gila issue breached the confines of social media and achieved cut-through. After a meeting with the senior police and antiterror officials, Indonesia Ulama Council (MUI) chairman Din Syamsuddin said that police were aware of 21 cases of attacks on ulama since December 2017. The mainstream news media is now devoting considerable coverage to the orang gila attacks.

The government and its supporters don't seem to know how to spin it. Jokowi has instructed the police to deal "firmly" with those responsible for attacks on religious leaders, while his chief detective has suggested, in quite vague terms, that the orang gila issue is an orchestrated hoax. The police's spokesman said that some reports of attacks were hoaxes, others not. Nadhlatul Ulama chairman Said Aqil Siroj has doubted that the attackers were gila at all, telling Metro TV that the wave of attacks appeared too "tidy, systematic, and orderly" to be the work of the mentally ill. Health Minister Nina Moeloek had to reassure the public that "orang gila" cannot be "taught" to attack ulama.

Jokowi's political opponents, meanwhile, have seen political opportunity. The tireless Fadli Zon went to the trouble of writing a poem about how "crazy people are becoming more dangerous/massacring ustadz [religious teachers] so callously". He had earlier told reporters that ulama in his electorate had discovered that their homes had been "marked" with strange symbols, as if for future targeting.

In an attempt to display that they're taking the issue seriously, local authorities across Java have begun rounding up orang gila on the streets and transferring them to (presumably abysmal) care facilities.

Indeed, it's more than a little curious that the orang gila scare is making headlines at the start of a year in which three vote-rich provinces in Java will elect governors ahead of the April 2019 presidential polls. Politicians are already trading accusations: PPP party chairman Romahurmuziy, a Jokowi ally, has said that the attacks were the work of an unnamed "powerful figure" with an interest in discrediting the Jokowi government ahead of the upcoming elections. This is a pretty transparent swipe at Prabowo Subianto; the Secretary-General of Prabowo's Gerindra party took Romahurmuziy's bait and dismissed the idea that the attacks had anything to do with politics.

Of course, this is also occurring in a climate of renewed paranoia about the reemergence of the PKI. A seemingly coordinated wave of attacks on Islamic leaders from a shadowy enemy will trigger memories in many Indonesian minds of the violence committed by PKI members towards ulama during the Soekarno era. It's also difficult to avoid being reminded of the "ninja" killings in East Java in the 1990s.

Whatever is going on here (and I won't pretend to have any idea) it's interesting to see it in light of the debate following the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election over whether Jokowi could be "Ahoked" in 2019 – that is, taken down by a dirty tricks campaign designed to inflame the sentiments of Muslim voters. Jokowi is known to be seriously concerned about Indonesia's "fake news" problem, being a common target of hoaxes spread on social media already. The president could be forgiven for harbouring a little paranoia about whether the real target of the orang gila is not Javanese ulama, but himself.

Source: http://www.newmandala.org/crazy-person-scare-indonesia/

Beyond the bounds of democracy: DPR consolidates its power

Indonesia at Melbourne - February 23, 2018

Robertus Robet – While most of Indonesian civil society was up in arms about controversial revisions to the Criminal Code (KUHP) last week, the national legislature quietly went about passing a separate piece of revised legislation, and one with just as grave consequences for democracy.

On 14 February, the legislature passed reforms to Law No. 17 of 2014 on Legislative Bodies, commonly known as the MD3 Law.

The revised MD3 Law looks set to produce a House of Representatives (DPR) that is resistant to criticism and immune from prosecution. For years, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) – with the support of civil society – has withstood efforts by the DPR to erode its authority. Through these revisions, the DPR may have finally got what it wanted.

One of the most egregious reforms of the revised MD3 Law relates to Article 122(k), which states that one of the tasks of the House Ethics Council is to take legal or other steps against individuals, groups or legal entities that tarnish the dignity of the DPR or its members. Through this article, members of the DPR will have the power to criminalise anyone who they feel has sullied their reputations.

The second problematic component is Article 245, which states that if law enforcement officials, such as police, KPK investigators or prosecutors, wish to interrogate members of the DPR, they must first "consider the views of" the House Ethics Council. This article restores language that the Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional back in 2015. The original Article 245(1) of the 2014 MD3 Law stated that interrogation of DPR members who were suspected of committing a criminal offence required written approval from the House Ethics Council. But in Decision No. 76/PUU XII/2014, the Constitutional Court, recognising the conflict of interest this involved, ruled that the article was unconstitutional unless it was read as "written approval of the president". Although the 2018 MD3 Law uses softer language – "consider the views of" – the DPR is clearly trying to make it difficult for KPK investigators to question members of the DPR involved in corruption cases, as they will have to first seek approval from the DPR Ethics Council.

Another article seemingly designed to weaken the KPK is Article 73, which states that it is "mandatory" for police to forcibly bring people in for questioning by the DPR. The DPR reportedly added the word "mandatory" to ensure there was a way to compel district and provincial leaders to attend questioning at the DPR, a process that many local leaders had avoided. But by revising the article in this way, the DPR can also force members of the KPK to be questioned by the legislature. The article even allows police to detain parties who refuse to attend questioning by the DPR for up to 30 days. It is hard to view this as anything but a response to the special inquiry into the KPK, which the anti-graft body refused to acknowledge as legitimate.

It will now be almost impossible to criticise the DPR, as any criticism could be perceived as degrading its members' dignity. The DPR will be immune from legal action because whatever its members do, there are no state authorities that can investigate or prosecute DPR members without first seeking the DPR's approval. And to top it all off, the DPR has given itself the power to force the police to take action against people who its members feel have insulted their dignity.

The revised MD3 Law was supported by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Golkar, National Awakening Party (PKB), Hanura, Gerindra, National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and was passed following consultation with the government, in this case the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. But Minister Yasonna Laoly said that because he was so busy, he didn't have the chance to inform President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo about the most controversial revisions.

After stressing that Jokowi did not know about the contentious articles, Laoly said that there was a possibility the president would not sign the revisions into law – which is what eventuated on 21 February. This is a moot point, as the revisions will become law within 30 days whether Jokowi signs them or not. Frustratingly, Laoly said if anyone had a problem with the law, they were welcome to challenge it at the Constitutional Court. Laoly's statements make it quite clear that he knew what he was doing, and the revisions were the result of collaboration with his party, PDI-P, the largest party in the government coalition.

It is also worth noting that this law was passed at a time when the DPR committee working on revisions to the Criminal Code (KUHP) had agreed on re-inserting articles on insulting the president. In the draft revised criminal code from 10 January, Article 263 makes it an offence to disseminate insults against the president or vice president, and violation of the article carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. Similar articles in the existing KUHP had been revoked by the Constitutional Court back in 2006. What's worse, the DPR is seemingly seeking to strengthen and broaden these terms by extending them to insults made online, through Article 264. The DPR has since said that the proposed articles are still being discussed, but it is hard to avoid reaching the conclusion that both the DPR and the executive are seeking to take advantage of the law reform process to consolidate their power.

There is certainly precedent for this kind of behaviour. When the 2014 MD3 Law was passed in the last few months of the 2009-2014 period, a day before the 2014 Presidential Election, DPR members used the reform process to ensure that the leadership of the DPR would be selected by members, instead of being allocated based on the proportion of seats won. This allowed parties that were members of Prabowo Subianto's Red and White Coalition to control all DPR leadership positions, and deny PDI-P the DPR leadership role, which had previously been guaranteed to the largest party in the DPR under the 2009 MD3 Law.

The 2018 MD3 Law will have grave implications for the fight against corruption, civil rights and the already declining quality of democracy in Indonesia. Almost all corruption mega-scandals involve collusion between members of the DPR, bureaucrats and big business. Providing DPR members with near immunity from investigation will open the floodgates. At the same time, Indonesia's shaky civil freedoms will come under more pressure.

The revised MD3 Law and the proposed criminal code revisions on insulting the president show that the interests of the DPR and executive are much the same. They are both willing to operate outside the bounds of democracy to consolidate their power.

[Dr Robertus Robet (@Republik_Baru) is the head of sociology at the State University of Jakarta (UNJ).]

Source: http://indonesiaatmelbourne.unimelb.edu.au/beyond-the-bounds-of-democracy-dpr-seeks-to-consolidate-its-power/


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