Jakarta Police say a Polish man detained in Indonesia's troubled Papua region on suspicion of links to separatists will be tried there instead of being deported.
Jakub Fabian Skrzypski, 39, described by police as a journalist, was arrested several days ago in Wamena, the capital of the mountainous district of Jayawijaya, following the arrests of five Papuans who had a quantity of ammunition.
Papua police spokesman Ahmad Mustofa Kamal said on Friday that Skrzypski would be charged with involvement in a treasonous plot.
Indonesia restricts foreign journalists from entering its two easternmost provinces, Papua and West Papua, where a pro-independence insurgency has simmered for decades.
Pacific Island civil society says the Pacific Island Forum leaders must support Vanuatu's effort to take the issue of West Papua to the UN.
The executive director of the civil society umbrella group, PIANGO, or the Pacific Islands Association of Non Government Organisations, Emele Duituturaga, said they continue to be concerned with ongoing human rights violations in Indonesia's Papuan provinces.
Ms Duituturaga said the issue of West Papua has been on the leaders agenda for decades without evident progress. She said PIANGO had raised its concerns over the last two years, but nothing had changed.
Her organisation has called for a UN Special Rapporteur on West Papua to investigate continued human rights violations; support for a UN General Assembly Resolution to include West Papua on the UN Decolonisation List; and scrutiny of development co-operation with Indonesia and participation in the Pacific Island Forum.
Selected people representing civil society will meet with Pacific leaders next week at the leaders' summit in Nauru.
A New Zealand-based West Papua advocacy group has appealed to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other leaders meeting at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru next week to support Vanuatu's United Nations initiative.
Vanuatu has pledged to take a resolution to the 2019 UN General Assembly endorsing West Papua's right to self-determination and calling for West Papua to be re-inscribed on the list of nations overseen by the UN Decolonisation Committee (the Committee of 24).
Vanuatu has the strong backing of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).
A statement from West Papua Action Auckland group said today New Zealand had the opportunity to be a game-changer at this Forum meeting.
"New Zealand is influential at the Forum and its support for the issue to go to the UN is crucial," said spokesperson Maire Leadbeater, author of the recent book See No Evil about NZ's "betrayal" of West Papuan aspirations.
"The people of West Papua were cruelly denied their right to self-determination in the 1960s, setting the stage for decades of state sanctioned violence at the hands of the Indonesian military.
"The 1962 New York Agreement brokered by the United States delivered West Papua to Indonesian control without any consultation with West Papuan representatives.
"The so-called 'Act of Free Choice' held in 1969 was a fraudulent exercise carried out under extreme duress.
"This issue is extremely urgent. The people of West Papua are experiencing slow genocide due to ongoing human rights abuses and the harmful conditions of life experienced by so many Papuans.
"Authoritative human rights reports document the routine use of torture and killings as well as the denial the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Not to mention the constant inflow of migrants and the marginalisation of indigenous Papuans.
"It is time to stand up for our Melanesian neighbours. West Papuans risk their lives to speak out for self-determination and freedom.
"New Zealand should have nothing to fear by joining in a call to involve the United Nations in what is the most grievous human rights crisis in our region."
Four West Papuan students were arrested on Tuesday for showing the Morning Star flag, as Indonesian universities crack down on pro-independence displays.
Antara News reported the students in Jayapura were carrying bags on campus displaying the symbol.
The four students at STIKOM Muhammadiyah University were arrested for a few hours before being released later on Tuesday.
The arrests come two weeks after two students from Cenderahwasih University in Jayapura were arrested for wearing bracelets bearing the Morning Star and singing Papua Merdeka, a song promoting independence for the region.
After that incident, the university's director signed an agreement that Morning Star symbols could not be brought on campus.
Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman said Tuesday's arrests were likely "inspired" by a growing opposition to the use of the Morning Star at universities.
A low-level insurgency has simmered for decades in resource-rich Papua, with Jakarta keeping a tight grip on the region through a heavy military and police presence.
Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura A Polish citizen is currently in custody with police in Papua over his alleged attempt to film what the Indonesian Military (TNI) claims was a planned "ammunition trade" between two armed groups in the restive province.
The Pole, identified only as JF, 39, was arrested on his way to the location of the handover at Habema Lake in Jayawijaya last Friday, according to the police.
172/PWY Military Command commander Col. Inf. J. Binsar P. Sianipar told reporters on Wednesday that his personnel had found indications that he was linked to an armed group.
"He had communicated with the armed group, and that day he was going to Habema Lake to cover the sale of hundreds of rounds of ammunition," he said, adding that the suspect had been planning to expose the event to the world.
Binsar said JF had come to Indonesia on a tourist visa and had visited Raja Ampat in West Papua. "It is reprehensible that [he] entered Indonesia using a tourist visa but is also engaging in another activity building relations with armed groups."
Jayawijaya Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Yan Piet Reba told The Jakarta Post that the ammunition transaction was between an armed group operating in Wamena and another group from Puncak Jaya.
"JF was planning to go to Habema Lake, where representatives of the armed group from Puncak Jaya were waiting to buy the ammunition," he said.
Police have questioned four people linked to the case. "Three people have been sent to the Papua Police, one is a Polish national and the other two are locals," Yan Piet said. (ahw)
A West Papua support group in New Zealand is calling on Pacific leaders to support Vanautu's push for the Indonesian region to be included on the UN's decolonisation list.
West Papua Action Auckland said leaders attending next week's Pacific Islands Forum summit in Nauru must back Vanuatu's draft resolution when it is raised by prime minister Charlot Salwai.
It said the denial of the right of self-determination for West Papua in the 1960s set the scene for decades of state-sanctioned violence against the indigenous population.
The activist group said the so-called 'Act of Free Choice' in 1969 was a fraudulent exercise carried out under extreme duress.
It said there is evidence West Papuans are experiencing slow genocide due to ongoing human rights abuses and the harmful conditions of life experienced by so many Papuans.
New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters says his country recognizes West Papua as a part of Indonesia.
He made this comment when asked about New Zealand's stand on the West Papua issue where Vanuatu is spearheading efforts in support of West Papua, during his recent visit to Port Vila.
"If you were the examine the economic and social condition of West Papua per capita as opposed to PNG, even PNG would acknowledge that their (West Papua) performance is higher than PNG's.
"PNG is the neighbor of West Papua. And I think as a Polynesian, or Melanesian or Pacific concept, the first person I'd be consulting on an issue like that is the nearest neighbor to the issue that might be the problem, namely PNG.
"So all I was trying to say is let's not underestimate the emotional sincerity of the Vanuatu people's feeling on the issue but never at the same time overlook how deeply concerning this issue is to the nearest neighbor, Papua New Guinea," Mr Peters said.
He continues that the Indonesian Government should be worked with to look at its programs of improving the lives of its people.
"But what we do not want, surely is to have PNG, that is soon to put on APEC, having all this anxieties of being condemned by its own kin, namely fellow Melanesian countries.
"We are from the most southern part of Polynesia, New Zealand, but we see it that way, in a sense.
"Our job is to try to facilitate at ease a longterm comfort with this issue where the people concern in this issue, people of West Papua, where their conditions are improved."
Mr Peters says New Zealand is dreading very carefully on handling this issue. The Minister was responding to a question raised by Kizzy Kalsakau from 96 Buzz FM on New Zealand's stand on West Papua.
Vanuatu is the only country in the world that has been in the forefront of this issue in the past to see fellow Melanesians gain political freedom and the stand has been supported recently by other countries in the Pacific.
Jakarta The Mimika Police in Papua have arrested AY, a worker at gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia, for making a video that police have described as "hate speech against Indonesia" and distributing it on social media.
Mimika Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Agung Marlianto said on Tuesday that AY was arrested at his house at Bumi Kamoro Indah housing complex last Thursday.
"[AY] faces charges under Article 45 Paragraph 2 of Law No. 19/2016 on electronic information and transactions, because he deliberately spread information aimed at fueling hatred against an individual or group of people based on their ethnicity, religion or race," Agung said, as quoted by Antara news agency.
AY made a short video of his young son expressing opposition to Indonesia's sovereignty over Papua. The video was then posted on Facebook. The police did not arrest the child.
Conflicts between Papuan residents and police have spiked in the past week, as the country celebrated its Independence Day on Aug. 17.
A group of Papuan students living in a dormitory in Surabaya, East Java, refused to fly the Indonesian flag ahead Independence Day, resulting in a clash between the students and local residents.
Separately, freshmen from the Jayapura-based Cendrawasih University wore attributes of the Morning Star, the flag used by separatist groups in Papua, on campus and chanted "free Papua", as instructed by senior students.
The students were taken to police stations for questioning but were later released as the police did not press charges. (vny)
On Saturday 25th August at 12:20, Polish tourist Jakob Fabian was arrested by the Indonesian military at the Napua military post in Wamena, West Papua.
He was arrested along with West Papuan locals, Chief Naftali Wasahe and Edward Wandik, Jakob Fabian and Abel Wilil. According to the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), the 5 were then taken to the local Indonesian police station and interrogated for one hour, before being returned at 14:00.
Jakob was then arrested again at 09:10 on 26th August, with Chief Naftali and students Edward Wandik, Alfons Hisage and Linus Wandik. Two more West Papuan people, Alex Wasahe, Yohanis Wandik were then also reportedly arrested.
It was then reported yesterday 27th August that Jakob Fabian, Edward Wandik and another unnamed person were all sent to Port Numbay (Jayapura), the capital city of West Papua. Their current whereabouts and condition are unknown.
The Indonesian police alleged that arrests were made due to "transactions of ammunition" but by all accounts they have produced no evidence of this whatsoever.
Why are the Indonesian military and police really arresting and interrogating tourists for going to West Papua?
Fiji's Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa has called on the government of Fiji to "stop its betrayal" of the people of West Papua.
She said the government should strongly support the inclusion of the territory in the United Nation's Decolonisation List at next year's UN General Assembly.
"Vanuatu has taken a courageous decision to seek freedom for the West Papuans through the UN," Ro Teimumu added in a media statement.
Vanuatu is pushing for support from the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) which is meeting in Nauru next week.
Fiji's official stance over the region has been to regard the future of the twin Melanesian provinces of Papua and West Papua as an internal matter for the Indonesian government.
Indonesia invaded the former Dutch colony in 1962 and established rule by a controversial UN-sanctioned "Act of Free Choice" in 1969 that has been widely criticised as a flawed process and achieved by coercion. West Papuans have continued to struggle for self-determination since then.
"I call on Fiji and other regional governments to demonstrate solidarity with this cause. It is time to stand up and be counted, " Ro Teimumu said.
"I thank and salute Prime Minister Charlot Salwai of Vanuatu for showing real leadership, and for being a true Melanesian brother to the West Papuan people. The SODELPA opposition in Fiji is behind him in his mission. A SODELPA-led government will put its weight behind West Papua."
Fiji is due to have an election this year but the date has not yet been called. Ro Teimumu said Fiji's government and its Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama were outspoken advocates for Melanesian unity.
"Despite this they have stabbed the indigenous Melanesian people of West Papua in the back by refusing to support their quest to be released from the colonial control of their homeland by Indonesia," she said.
"Their behaviour towards the oppressed West Papuans is shameful. How dare the Prime Minister speak so glowingly of Melanesian brotherhood when he and his government have completely sold out their West Papuan kin to Indonesia?
"The truth is that they are afraid to challenge Indonesia's sham claim to sovereignty over West Papua. They should have the courage to follow Vanuatu's example.
"The West Papuan struggle is known here at home, throughout the region and around the globe our silence and that of our neighbours is deafening.
"For more than 50 years, the indigenous people of West Papua have struggled for self-determination.
"It is immoral for the region and international community to look the other way and deny the people of West Papua the liberty to decide for themselves how they wish to be governed.
"There is little that we can do to reverse our past failure to support the people of West Papua; however we can do something now and in the future to make amends for our past failures."
Fiji is due to hold elections this year but a date has not yet been set and West Papua is expected to be an issue.
Jane Joshua Since her appointment as the Special Envoy on Decolonization of West Papua to the Pacific Island States, Lora Lini spoke exclusively to the Daily Post about how she sees her role and the importance of the position entrusted upon her by the Vanuatu Government.
But first, she says that it is the present government who recognizes the importance of taking the West Papua issue further and to a higher level via a United Nations Resolution for West Papua.
Ms Lini says past governments and civil society organizations of Vanuatu have maintained the country's stand for the West Papua since Vanuatu's independence in 1980. But the issue of West Papua has reached another level and the present government also recognizes the struggle of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and other organizations that support and work together with the Movement for the cause of West Papua self- determination.
"My role as Special Envoy on the Decolonisation of West Papua to the Pacific Island States is to bring to the attention of member states of the Pacific Islands Forum Vanuatu's intention to table a UN Resolution for the decolonization of West Papua."
The draft Resolution has now been presented to all Forum members. Ms Lini is optimistic and says although Australia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, may have indicated not to support the Resolution on West Papua which Vanuatu intends to push through to the UN Committee of 24 on Decolonization, Vanuatu will continue to lobby for support from all member states of the Pacific Islands Forum including Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji.
Ms Lini confirmed that Vanuatu will raise the issue of West Papua and lobby support from the Pacific Leaders at the upcoming Leaders Summit in Nauru in early September 2018.
She said one thing is clear during her previous stint at the Pacific Islands Forum meetings in Samoa is that most members share the sentiments that raw colonialism has no place in Melanesia or in the Pacific. The issue of West Papua is like climate change issues they seem to come in all different forms but the root is still colonialism just in other forms and but Pacific Island States are no longer blind," says Ms Lini.
"If Vanuatu as a Melanesian country who we share the same ethnicity with our brothers and sisters of West Papua but does not speak for West Papua? Then who will?" She said there is no way around this issue the only way is to re-present the issue at the United Nations.
"We must not turn a blind eye on West Papua this issue has been around longer than we have struggled for our own independence and we, like other Melanesians and Pacific Islander are the only people that can truly speak for West Papua not because we have policies or conventions that obliges us to do as Governments but because we know that as Melanesians or Pacific Islanders it is our duty to speak for them and it is the right thing to do because they are unable to do so in such international forums, says Ms Lini.
She said although Vanuatu is seen as a small nation but over 38 years now since Independence Vanuatu has over the years established bilateral relations with many countries and gained many friends small states as well as super powers.
Ms Lini says if it is the will of the Government and the people of Vanuatu and the Almighty God to set free West Papua then let thy will be done. She is not new to the issue of West Papua. She is a founding member of the Vanuatu Free West Papua Association Of Vanuatu.
She has also previously worked at the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat in Port Vila and is well versed over the outstanding work for West Papua at the level of Melanesia as a sub-regional Organisation that was founded in the core issues of Decolonisation in the region of Melanesia. She is adamant that MSG is still obliged to the issue of West Papua as agreed by the Leaders meeting and the MSG is a key region that she will visit to rally support.
"This is our own backyard and we must be the first to unite on this issue," says Ms Lini. She also served at the Communications and Public Affairs Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London in the United Kingdom and is a journalist by profession. Source: http://dailypost.vu/news/if-vanuatu-does-not-speak-for-west-papua-then-who/article_4fbe1b69-9724-5ac6-b0d2-b667aac160a9.html
Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian will summon the head of the police's criminal investigation division (Kabareskrim), Insp. Gen, Arief Sulistyanto, to re-investigate the assassination of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib following the release of Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto.
"I will summon Kabareskrim to re-investigate the case," said Tito Karnavian on Friday, August 31.
Tito said the investigation sought to examine whether there was data that could still be developed. Earlier, Arief Sulistyanto said he had not looked into the case.
The Civil Society Coalition for Human Rights has prompted the government to open the fact-finding team's (TPF) document on Munir's case and resume the investigation, which has lasted for 14 years.
Kontras' advocacy division coordinator Putri Kanesia said the TPF's document was crucial to resolving the case.
Putri said the Munir case was not finished yet despite the release of one of its convicted murderers, Pollycarpus. "Although Pollycarpus has been released, this case is not finished yet," she said.
Pollycarpus was released on Wednesday, August 29, after serving the Supreme Court's sentence of 14 years' imprisonment. He was convicted of murdering Munir using arsenic poison.
Arya Dipa, Bandung, West Java Convicted murderer of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, was finally declared a free man from the Class I Bandung Correctional Center in West Java on Wednesday morning after finishing his parole.
The former Garuda Indonesia pilot came with his wife, Yosepha Hera Iswandari, to the correctional center on Wednesday morning to report for the last time and take care of the administration regarding the end of his sentence. After about 20 minutes, he came out of the prison officially a free man.
"I feel like I no longer have any burden now," he told journalists, adding that he had been serving his sentence without having a clue about why he was convicted of Munir's murder.
Polycarpus was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2006 for his role in the death of the prominent human rights campaigner during a flight from Jakarta to Singapore on Sept. 6, 2004. He was granted parole by the government in 2014.
When asked whether he wanted to meet with Munir's widow, Suciwati, he revealed that he was open to the idea. "I'm ready [if I have to meet Suciwati], but what does she need from me? Suddenly we're all related," he answered.
However, out of his 14-year sentence, Pollycarpus only served eight years in Sukamiskin Penitentiary in Bandung and was released on parole in November 2014.
There has been mounting pressure from the public and rights activists for law enforcement to prosecute the mastermind, as despite Pollycarpus being sentenced, it remains unclear who masterminded the murder.
Activists have also called on the government to establish a new fact-finding team to investigate individuals allegedly involved in the murder, who many believe to be important people, as alleged in a 2005 investigative document by the murder case's fact-finding team. (ris)
Sheany, Jakarta Xpedisi Feminis, an initiative to explore diverse perspectives on feminism through travel, was launched on Saturday (25/08) with a visit to Cirebon, West Java, where participants sought to learn more about feminism in Islam.
The program began at the Fahmina Institute of Islamic Studies (ISIF), where a number of speakers shared their views on Islamic feminism.
Among them were Mariana Amiruddin from the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) and ISIF deputy directors Marzuki Wahid and Faqihuddin Abdul Kodir.
Mariana said feminism was a tool to better the lives of women, and stressed that the idea was not solely a Western concept. "There are hidden texts in our history, which is filled with stories of female leaders," she said.
They include figures such as Tribhuwana Tunggadewi of the Majapahit Empire, Queen Kalinyamat of Japara and Nyi Ratu Mas Gandasari from Aceh. Their stories, Mariana added, should be researched further for a better understanding of feminist movements in Indonesia.
Marzuki, who is also a prominent member of Nahdlatul Ulama, said he believes that Islam is just and in tune with gender equality.
"Islam teaches us that women are human beings. The value of a human being is not determined by sex, but piety," he said, adding that it is important to interpret the Koran in accordance with the values of justice, freedom, equality, brotherhood and well-being of the people.
According to Mariana, Xpedisi Feminis is extremely timely, as it attempts to discover Indonesian values in the movement for gender equality and enrich it with a more local perspective.
"Not many people have tried to explore this, and it's a women-led initiative, comprising mostly young women," she said.
Xpedisi Feminis organizers said in a statement that they had chosen Cirebon for the program's first session, as it was considered the entry point of Islam to Indonesia.
The first session's participants also visited the Sunyarangi Cave, Keraton Kasepuhan and Kebon Jambu al-Islamy, a feminist boarding school led by Masriyah Amva.
Masriyah said Muslim women should be feminists, and asserted that a culture in which women are dependent on men should not be upheld.
The 23 participants who took part in the first event were activists, journalists, retirees and housewives. The program was supported by online platform Indonesia Feminis, Cherbon Feminist community, online publication Magdalene.co and online traveling platform iwashere.id.
Xpedisi Feminis organizers told the Jakarta Globe they plan to take on themes centered on perspectives covering social, cultural and historical issues unique to Indonesia to raise awareness on social justice and equality.
Jon Afrizal, Jambi A landmark ruling by the Jambi High Court has exonerated a 15-year-old rape victim of all criminal charges, but it will be some time before she can return home.
In a controversial case that captured the attention of local and international news media, the teenager, who was raped by her 18-year-old brother, had been sentenced to six months in prison by the Muarabulian District Court after she was found guilty of aborting her eight-month pregnancy.
The Jambi High Court on Monday changed her fate and acquitted her of all charges, saying she had the abortion while under extreme duress.
An official from the Jambi Social Affairs Agency, Tuti Rosmalinda, said she and her team were ready to return the girl to her home in Pulau village in Batanghari regency, Jambi, but they were concerned about her safety as her mother was her sole guardian but was on trial at the Muarabulian District Court for abetting in her daughter's abortion.
The girl and her brother have been exiled from their village. "Although the villagers have said that they are willing to accept her return, we are still waiting for the verdict in [the mother's] case. The girl needs her mother after such an ordeal," said Tuti on Tuesday.
If the district court acquits the mother, Tuti said the girl could return to her village. However, if the court sentenced the mother to more than two years in prison, the girl would stay at Alyatama, a social institution in Jambi run by the provincial social agency.
Tuti said the social agency was looking for a school for the 15-year-old to attend.
The Muarabulian court declared the girl guilty of abortion her pregnancy as stipulated in Article 77 of the Child Protection Law, while her brother was found guilty of abortion and sexual assault as stipulated in Article 81 of the same law.
According to the 2009 Health Law, rape victims can legally abort their pregnancies within 40 days after conception. However, the pregnancy in the teenager's case was aborted after eight months.
The girl and her lawyer appealed the court's decision, citing Article 75, Paragraph 2b of the Health Law, which stipulates that a woman who aborts a pregnancy caused by rape that resulted in psychological trauma is exempt from criminal punishment.
The 15-year-old has been staying at Alyatama since July 30, after being removed from the Muarabulian Women's Penitentiary. She is accompanied by officials from the Jambi Social Affairs Agency.
The high court ruling has been praised by human rights activists and advocates who have been assisting similar rape victims.
Uli Pangaribuan, a lawyer from the Legal Aid Foundation of the Indonesian Women's Association for Justice (LBH Apik), lauded the court decision, saying the judges had answered public calls for justice.
"Many of the cases that we handle usually end in the victim being sentenced to a facility to receive counseling," she said. "So this ruling could be considered extraordinary."
In 2017, LBH Apik handled the case of a 16-year-old rape victim who was found guilty for aborting her pregnancy and sentenced to a counseling facility in East Jakarta for 18 months where she receives counseling and continues her education.
Pulau village head Daman Huri said he was glad the high court had acquitted the 15-year-old. He guaranteed that the girl would be safe in the village. "We will welcome her. We will not reject her," he said.
Daman Huri said, however, that if the girl's mother was incarcerated the girl would have to stay with relatives, because the village officials did not want to be accused of mistreatment. (ris/wit)
Jakarta It never occurred to 23-year-old Devina Heriyanto that she would be sexually harassed in a neighborhood near her office an area she had long considered safe.
Devina was walking with her friends from a cafeteria on Jl. Palmerah Selatan, on the border of West Jakarta and Central Jakarta, on Saturday when an unidentified man in a motorcycle groped her breast and drove off, leaving her stunned and traumatized.
Devina, a community officer at The Jakarta Post whose daily tasks include writing, editing and managing social media, decided to tell her story to the public via social media in a rare move to break the silence on harassment in the country.
On her Twitter account, she shared her experience and described how, in the aftermath of the incident, she had difficulties working and sleeping and struggled with feelings of anger and distress.
"Remember: sexual harassment can happen anywhere, to anyone, and anytime, regardless of the victim's clothes," she said in her tweet, which garnered over 6,700 retweets and 3,800 likes.
The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) recorded that more than 3,500 sexual violence cases, including molestation and harassment, occurred in public last year.
But the numbers may only be the tip of the iceberg as a survey conducted by support group for victims of sexual violence Lentera Sintas Indonesia and feminist website Magdalene.co in 2016 revealed that more than 90 percent of rape cases in Indonesia went unreported.
The survey highlighted that the country's "deafening silence" on sexual violence was partly because victims feared of being blamed.
Magdalene.co and Lentera Sintas launched the #MulaiBicara (#SpeakUp) campaign in 2016 to encourage victims to speak up. However, the campaign did not gain much traction.
Lentera Sintas founder Wulan Danoekoesoemo attributed the lack of support to a persistent mindset that pressured men, even those who may be personally against such behavior, into harassing and being aggressive toward women, or else they would be labeled "losers".
The online campaign regained traction after Dangdut singer Via Vallen published a lewd message she received from an unnamed soccer player in July.
Via's post, however, received mixed responses, with some netizens praising her for her bravery and others mocking her, calling her an attention seeker or drama queen.
"The public response is generally divided into two, with the more aware citizens condemning [sexual] assault but, because of the strong culture of victim-blaming in Indonesia, there are still those who find fault in the victim," Wulan said.
Legal Aid Foundation of Indonesian Women's Association for Justice (LBH Apik) director Veni Siregar said that such movements, including those amplified through social media, were critical in pressuring authorities to enforce the law.
Devina's tweet was also met with mixed responses.
"That's what happened to me too. Not only my chest but also my butt. Thank you for being brave to share, I have no courage at all," wrote @Aurinaans.
Some speculated that Devina provoked the assault by not dressing conservatively.
"Excuse me [...] are you Muslim? If yes, then wear a hijab or fix your clothing. I guarantee it's a clothing problem. Thanks," wrote user @Sutarno99256947.
But Devina did not budge, saying: "I believe that this is something that needs to be told [so] that more people are aware that street harassment is still, sadly, an everyday occurrence in Indonesia."
She filed a report with the Jakarta Police on Tuesday. (nor)
Jon Afrizal, Jambi A 15-year-old rape victim who was convicted of abortion can walk free after the Jambi High Court acquitted her of all charges on Monday.
Her case has garnered global attention after a lower court landed her in prison for abortion earlier this month. Child protection as well as women and human rights activists criticized the decision, saying she was a victim of rape by her brother and should have been treated as one.
The decision was made after the girl and her lawyer, Damai Idianto, appealed the Muarabulian District Court's decision, which sentenced her to six months in juvenile detention to the high court.
The detention was based on the evidence of a badly decomposed baby boy found on an oil palm plantation in Pulau village, Muara Tembesi district, Batanghari regency, Jambi.
In the appeal, the girl's legal team argued against Article 75, Paragraph 2b of the 2009 Health Law, which stipulates that a woman who aborts her pregnancy due to rape that resulted in psychological trauma is exempted from criminal punishment.
"The panel of judges stated that [the girl] was proven to have had an abortion, but the action was done under forced circumstances," Jambi High Court spokesperson Hasoloan Sianturi said, adding that the judges would clear her name of any wrongdoing and would be exempt from all court fees.
Some of the figures in her village also regarded her as an "incest perpetrator", and a customary council decision banished her and her brother from the village. However, after the case resulted in national uproar, some of the village authorities, including village head Daman Huri, held a more sympathetic view toward the girl.
Save Our Sister (SOS) spokesperson Zubaidah said the ruling showed a change in the once rigid legal effort and reminded that judges and prosecutors should be more careful in determining a case.
She also said the court's ruling would positively influence other rape victims to have faith in the legal system.
Jambi Women's Consortium (KPJ) spokesperson Mirna Novita Amir added that her organization, along with many others, like the Jambi chapter of the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (PKBI), the Indonesian Women Coalition, the Sikok Foundation, the Legal Aid Foundation of Indonesian Women's Association for Justice (LBH APIK) and the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid (YLBHI), have declared their commitment to helping the girl by paying for her school outside of her district to assist the girl in recovering from her trauma. (ris/evi)
Ganug Nugroho Adi, Surakarta Civil society groups based in Surakarta, Central Java, the hometown of the President and former mayor of the city, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, have rejected a planned event that they believe will be used to campaign against Jokowi.
Eight groups have signed a petition, calling on the local police to deny the committee of an event to commemorate National Sports Day a permit to hold the event, slated for Sunday. The groups alleged that the committee would use the event to announce an anti-Jokowi movement using the hashtag #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ChangeThePresident).
"The event is politically loaded. The [committee] says it's a commemoration of [national] sports day but the leaflets include irrelevant messages such as 'lower the prices of staple food and fuel!' and so on. We will stop the event at all costs," Tego Widarto, the coordinator of Residents Love Surakarta Forum, said on Thursday.
The Surakarta Police have received the petitions but have not made any decision regarding the requests.
"We are studying the requests lodged by the groups. They suspect that the event will be political. We basically want to minimize any tensions," Surakarta Police deputy chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Andy Rifai said.
According to the leaflets that were circulated in the city, the event will be attended by opposition activists, including Ahmad Dhani and Neno Warisman.
A committee coordinator, Endro Sudarsono, denied the accusation made by the local groups.
"We understand their suspicion, although we think they are overreacting. I assure that this will only be a sports day," he said, adding that the event would include prizes.
Surakarta Mayor FX Hadi "Rudy" Rudyatmo, who served as Jokowi's deputy between 2005 and 2012, said there were no problems with the event, except for its planned venue, which had been reserved for another event.
He called on local residents to refrain from hosting political campaign events before Sept. 21, when the campaign period for the 2019 presidential election officially begins. (swd)
Jakarta The Elections Supervisory Agency's (Bawaslu) decision to allow five former graft convicts to run in the 2019 legislative elections has been harshly criticized by the public, including anticorruption non-governmental organization Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW).
Despite the fact that the General Elections Commission (KPU) has issued a regulation forbidding graft convicts to run as legislative candidates, Bawaslu chose to ignore the regulation and based its assessment on the 2017 Election Law, which allows those who receive a sentence of more than five years to run for office.
Bawaslu decided to pass five legislative hopefuls from Rembang in Central Java, Pare-Pare and Tana Toraja in South Sulawesi, Aceh and South Sulawesi provinces after they were declared unfit by the KPU.
ICW researcher Almas Sjafrina said on Thursday that Bawaslu was arrogant by ignoring KPU regulations as the regulation issued by the commission is a valid law according to the 2011 law on the establishment of legal regulations.
KPU commissioner Wahyu Setiawan said he predicted that Bawaslu would allow more ex-convicts to run for office as the agency had previously allowed three hopefuls that were declared unfit by the KPU due to their status.
"I've warned that the first three cases would snowball and the number [of ex-convicts allowed to run for office] would continue to rise," he said, adding that allowing former graft convicts to run for elections would inspire others to do the same. (ris)
Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta Democratic Party deputy secretary-general Andi Arief is once again in the spotlight after accusing the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) of poaching Democratic members for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's reelection campaign team.
"I don't understand why [PDI-P chairwoman] Ibu Megawati gave her blessing to [PDI-P secretary-general] Hasto, who is always trying to poach Democratic members to join Jokowi's team," he posted on his Twitter account on Thursday morning. "Is the PDI-P so short of quality members?"
Andi went on to question whether Hasto held a grudge against the Democrats because he was not offered a seat in Democrat chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Cabinet during the latter's second term as president.
"If the PDI-P likes poaching so much, it would be better for the party to turn into a soccer club instead," he continued.
The Twitter rant came two days after former West Java deputy governor Deddy Mizwar announced that he was joining Jokowi's campaign team as a spokesperson. Deddy had joined the Democratic Party late last year in the lead-up to his failed bid for the West Java governorship.
Previously, outgoing West Nusa Tenggara Governor Muhammad Zainul Majdi resigned from the Democratic Party after declaring his support for Jokowi.
This is not the first time Andi's tweets have raised eyebrows shortly before the presidential candidates were officially announced, he accused Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto of picking former Jakarta deputy governor Sandiaga Uno as a running mate because Sandiaga could pay off the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the National Mandate Party (PAN). (ahw)
Jakarta Vice presidential candidate and businessman Sandiaga Uno admitted that he had no clue what the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) was talking about when it portrayed him as a santri di era pos-Islamisme (a pious Muslim in the era of post-Islamism).
In an apparent attempt to calm its constituents after presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto unexpectedly picked Sandiaga and not a senior PKS member as his running mate, the Islam-based party was quick to label Sandiaga, who attended a Catholic school, a santri (orthodox Muslim) as opposed to abangan (nominal Muslim).
"That was the first time I heard the term [post-Islamism], as I never attended a pesantren [Islamic boarding school]," he said during a show on Kompas TV on Wednesday night, referring to the night of his nomination.
The term post-Islamism is actually a term coined by Iranian sociologist Asef Bayat to roughly describe a new generation of Muslims, young and affluent, who easily blend Islamic values and popular culture.
The PKS, in a desperate attempt to sell the Prabowo-Sandiaga pair as a nationalist-religious ticket, believes that Sandiaga is the poster boy of post-Islamism in Indonesia.
Such a move was probably triggered by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's decision to name Ma'ruf Amin, arguably the most influential cleric in the country, as his running mate.
But Sandiaga said he was confused by the term, although he claimed that he had worked with pengusaha santri (Muslim businessmen) under Nahdlatul Ulama.
He said: "When [PKS leader] Pak Sohibul Iman mentioned the term, I wondered what it was." (ahw)
Ahmad Faiz Ibnu Sani, Jakarta The Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) spokesman Guntur Romli said the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab was not an ideal ulema for the young generation.
Thus, PSI was grateful the vice presidential candidate Ma'ruf Amin did not meet Rizieq when he was performing Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
"For us, Rizieq Shihab is not an ideal ulema for the milennial generation because he is lack of politeness, tolerance, open-mindedness and he does not acknowledge diversity, which are the key value for the millennial generation," said Guntur in a written statement, Tuesday, August 28.
According to Guntur, only Ma'ruf Amin and other ulemas who have broader knowledge are worth to be great exemplars among young generation. "[As long as those] who spread Islam in a kind way and Rahmatan Lil Alamin (a blessing to all natures)," he added.
Earlier, Ma'ruf Amin said he would meet Rizieq while performing hajj in Mecca. However, during his time on August 15-27, the plan was not actualized.
"We appreciate him [Ma'ruf Amin] for not meeting Rizieq Shihab, the FPI figure who is in the Holy Land thus far," Guntur said.
Dewi Nurita, Jakarta Golkar Party Chairman Airlangga Hartarto denied that the support for Joko Widodo or Jokowi in the 2019 presidential election had split in Golkar's internal.
The indication emerged after Jokowi chose Ma'ruf Amin as his vice presidential candidate in the 2019 presidential election.
"I have said, the Golkar Central Board (DPP) is all solid to support Jokowi Ma'ruf Amin and it is ready to work," Airlangga Hartarto said at the Golkar DPP office, Jakarta, Monday, August 27.
Airlangga responded to the statement of Golkar Party politician Fadel Muhammad who said that the internal Golkar party had split because Jokowi chose Ma'ruf Amin instead of Golkar politician.
Fadel also said that the split would make some Golkar cadres would support Prabowo Subianto Sandiaga Uno.
Airlangga confirmed that Fadel was no longer worthy of representing the Golkar party as a whole. Because Fadel is currently nominating himself as a member of the Regional Representative Council or DPD RI that is required to be neutral. "So he has no right to speak on behalf of the Golkar Party," Airlangga said.
Airlangga believes that Golkar will still be in the top two positions as in the previous election. "Our target remains optimistic, 110 seats in parliament," Airlangga said.
Jakarta The #2019ChangePresident campaign once again made waves as planned events in Pekanbaru, Riau, and Surabaya, East Java, on Sunday were marked by clashes between protesters, counter-protesters and police.
The clashes began on Saturday afternoon, as opposition activist Neno Warisman arrived at the Sultan Syarif Kasim Airport in Pekanbaru to attend a #2019ChangePresident event in the city on Sunday.
Her plans were thwarted as hundreds of counter-protesters blocked the entrance to the airport, carrying banners denouncing the #2019ChangePresident campaign and urging Neno to "go home," as reported by kompas.com.
A group of people claiming to be from the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) also came to the airport, saying they wanted to safeguard Neno.
The mob then started throwing missiles at the former pop singer's car, which was trying to exit the airport. Police eventually forcefully dispersed the crowd and sent Neno on a plane back to Jakarta.
"The police and TNI [Indonesian Military] attempted to prevent clashes between supporters and opponents [of the #2019ChangePresident campaign]," Riau Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Sunarto said on Sunday, as quoted by Antara, when asked why they sent Neno home.
A similar protest also occurred against Neno several weeks ago in Batam, Riau Islands.
Similar scenes occurred in Surabaya on Sunday, as musician Ahmad Dhani was blocked from leaving his hotel to attend a #2019ChangePresident event.
An organization calling itself the Surabaya People's Movement held a demonstration outside the Hotel Majapahit, where Dhani was staying.
The police dispersed the #2019ChangePresident event held near the Surabaya Heroes Monument, citing security concerns.
East Java Police spokesperson Frans Barung Mangera said the police had received complaints about the event.
"For safety reasons and to avoid untoward incidents, we dispersed the event," Frans said, as quoted by kompas.com. (kmt)
Democratic Party Deputy Secretary Genral Andi Arief has been propelled into the political spotlight ever since he accused former Jakarta Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno of paying IDR1 trillion (US$35 million) in "political dowry" to secure his position as Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto's running mate in next April's election.
The explosive accusation was said to have caused friction within the opposition coalition of parties, and now Andi is saying that he might have actually put himself in harm's way by making it.
"The issue I heard is that last night a regional executive board of a political party in Jakarta ordered a certain ethnic group to intimidate me, so of course I'm worried," Andi said, as quoted by Detik today.
"I have always been afraid of physical threats so it's best that I avoid this." Andi added that he may have to ask for police protection due to the threats against him.
The Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), which has said that it is investigating the political dowry claims, has summoned Andi for questioning three times but the Democratic politician has failed to show up thus far, with his latest excuse being that he is looking after his sick parents.
Bawaslu has yet to summon Sandiaga for questioning, but indicated that they will do so in the near future.
If Bawaslu was to find proof that Sandiaga had paid to be made Prabowo's running mate, then he and all of the parties involved would be subject to Article 228 of the 2017 Election Law, which explicitly makes "dowry" payments to influence a political party's choice of presidential candidate illegal.
The penalties for violating the law include the revocation of the candidates' registrations and a prohibition on the political parties involved from nominating another candidate in the next election.
The two reports already filed with Bawaslu over Andi's accusation came from two civil society groups: The United Indonesia Federation and the Jokowi-Ma'ruf President Centre Nusantara Volunteer House. Media reports mentioned that they included Andi's tweets, where he made the original accusation, as evidence in their reports but there is no word on whether they had any more concrete evidence to back the accusation.
Andi was at first adamant that his accusation was not a lie and that he had data to back it up. However, after the Democrats decided to join Prabowo's coalition after all, Andi backed down from his claims and even claimed that he had been ordered to make the accusation by his party. However, he said he would stand by the accusation and face whatever legal consequences are coming for him.
Meanwhile, Gerindra, PAN and PKS have all fiercely denied the accusation although they stopped their threats to report Andi to the police for defamation after the Democrats joined the opposition.
Sandiaga Uno also firmly rejected the accusation, saying it was 'very untrue' and that he was being totally transparent with his finances to relevant agencies including reporting his assets to the Corruption Eradication Commission. He did, however, admit that he was willing to contribute funds to the campaign in the future, which is legal.
The practice of cadres having to pay their parties enormous "dowries" in order to receive nominations and cover the costs of their campaign is extremely pervasive in the world of Indonesian politics. On top of their basic corruption of the democratic process, in many cases candidates end up of having to finance the dowries by making crooked money-making deals once they're in office.
Kharishar Kahfi, Apriadi Gunawan and Arya Dipa, Jakarta, Medan and Bandung A judge at the Medan District Court in North Sumatra, Wahyu Prasetyo Wibowo, was recently under the spotlight when he presided over the controversial blasphemy trial of Meiliana, a Buddhist resident of Tanjung Balai.
The case reached its climax last week when the court sentenced the 44-year-old mother of four to one-and-a-half years in prison for complaining about the volume of the adzan (Islamic call to prayer) from a speaker at a mosque near her house.
On Tuesday, Wahyu's name returned to the spotlight after he was apprehended by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in an investigation into bribery allegedly involving Medan court officials.
"At least eight people were apprehended during the operation, including judges, court clerks and other parties. Investigators are still working to verify information obtained from citizens," KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo told The Jakarta Post.
Investigators, he said, had seized an undisclosed sum of cash in Singapore dollar banknotes during the operation.
Medan District Court spokesman Erintuah Damanik said Wahyu, who is the court's deputy chief, was nabbed along with three other judges the court's Chief Judge Marsudin Nainggolan, Judge Sontan Merauke Sinaga and Judge Merry Purba and two court clerks.
However, whether or not Wahyu was among the KPK's persons of interests or merely a witness remains unclear as the KPK is still investigating the case.
The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), which had been vocal in criticizing Meiliana's conviction, lauded the KPK's investigation into the possible corruption within the Medan court.
"If a judge can't resist the urge to accept illicit money, he or she should also be suspected of not being able to resist giving in to pressure. Therefore, he or she is not fit for the job of maintaining the court's integrity," ICJR executive director Anggara said.
Previously, many perceived the Medan Court's guilty verdict against Meiliana as being the result of pressure from the public empowered by the local chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council, which allegedly described Meiliana's remark as "blasphemous".
The alleged remark was believed to have triggered riots, during which several Buddhist temples were burned or ransacked. Over a dozen people were sentenced to one to four months in prison for their roles in the riot.
Tuesday's KPK operation has also brought back old concerns over the integrity of the court and judges, as the KPK suspects the bribery was related to a case being handled by the court.
"[The arrest was] related to a corruption case, in which the judges recently issued a verdict," KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said, stopping short of revealing which case it was. Suspicions point to a corruption case related to land-use rights implicating businessman Tamin Sukardi.
Tamin was sentenced to six years in prison by a panel comprising three of the arrested judges Wahyu, Sontan and Merry on Monday, only hours before the KPK launched the operation. The sentence was lighter than the 10 years' imprisonment demanded by the prosecutors from the Attorney General's Office (AGO).
Although his case was handled by the AGO, Tamin's trial had been monitored closely by both the antigraft body and the Judicial Commission since May.
Should the antigraft body bring a formal accusation against the judges in Medan, their case would add to the list of court officials to be investigated or prosecuted on corruption allegations by the KPK.
According to data from the KPK's Anticorruption Clearing House (ACCH), at least 18 judges were prosecuted from 2010 to May 2018.
One of the cases occurred in October 2017, when KPK investigators arrested Manado High Court Judge Sudiwardono for bribery. In June, Sudiwardono was sentenced to six years in prison for accepting bribes that were paid to influence an appellate bench handling a corruption case related to allowances for village officials (TPAPD) in Bolaang Mongondow, North Sulawesi.
The Judicial Commission was quick to deplore Tuesday's arrest, with its spokesman Farid Wajdi saying: "We have been warning heads of courts to minimize the potential for ethical violations. A huge commitment and concrete actions are more important than regulations [to prevent further arrests]."
Last week, Meiliana, an Indonesian woman of Chinese descent, was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison for blasphemy for allegedly complaining about the volume of the speaker at a mosque near her house, eventually leading to rioting and the burning of several Buddhist temples in her hometown of Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra, in July 2016.
The verdict has been heavily criticized by many, including senior religious and political figures as well as over 150,000 people who have signed a petition asking President Joko Widodo to intervene in her case.
On Friday, the government's Ministry of Religious Affairs weighed in on the matter, in a roundabout way, by issuing a circular containing suggested guidelines for the use of mosque speakers, including limiting the use of loudspeakers for things other than the azan (call to prayer), especially during hours when other people may be sleeping.
Some international outlets, such as the Straits Times in an article titled "Indonesia issues guidelines on call to prayer amid outcry over blasphemy case", seemed to suggest that the government had issued brand new guidelines due to the case. But as was carefully noted by all Indonesian articles on the ministry's circular, the guidelines were actually first issued in 1978 as a letter from what was then known as the director general of Islamic Guidance.
The 1978 guidelines specify that mosque loudspeakers be used by experienced personnel to prevent the creation of disturbing mechanical static that would degrade the quality of the audio and possibly create ill will towards mosques. It also asked that those giving the azan have melodious voices.
In addition the guidelines ask that azan only be broadcast at appropriate times and that loudspeakers not be used for other purposes, such as Quranic recitals, especially during times when people might otherwise be resting. The letter cites Quranic verse regarding the Muslim obligation to respect and honor their neighbors.
The reason the Religious Affairs Ministry was careful to point out that they were simply "reissuing" 40 year old guidelines is likely due to the outcry that would be caused were people to perceive that they were new and specifically issued over Meiliana's case.
As the term guidelines suggests, the ministry also has no power to enforce these regulations and, given the sensitive nature of such issues in the Muslim-majority nation (there have been numerous legal disputes and conflicts over mosque loudspeakers in the past) they would likely face fierce opposition were they to try to enforce them.
Din Syamsuddin, the chairperson of the Advisory Council of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), on Sunday joined a number of other senior and political figures who have come out to say that complaining about the volume of a mosque speaker should not be considered blasphemy.
"Indeed, the sound of the call to prayer, especially in a pluralistic environment (there are non-Muslims), needs to be sound comforting. Maybe the soft and melodious voice of the azan can rouse non-Muslims to like the call to prayer," Din said in a written statement picked up by Liputan 6.
However, MUI Vice Chairman Zainut Tauhid Sa'adi argued that Meiliana's case involved more than simply a complaint about the volume of the loudspeaker because she also allegedly used "sarcastic" and "mocking" language.
A local branch of MUI issued a fatwa saying that Meiliana had committed blasphemy, which was used as a primary piece of evidence against her in her court case (her defense attorneys argued she never used such language and that there is no recorded evidence of any of her allegedly blasphemous statements).
According to the prosecutor's version of events, the case began about a week before the July 2016 riots when Meiliana went to some of her Muslim neighbors and asked them to ask the caretakers of the mosque in front of her house to reduce the volume of their speakers because it was noisy and painful.
Her request was relayed to the mosque's management, who visited her on the day before the riots. Meiliana repeated her request that they reduce the mosque's speakers volume which allegedly led to an argument. Meiliana's husband went to the mosque to apologize but word had already gotten out about what she said, which spread on social media, leading to calls for violence and the subsequent riots.
Meiliana was reported to the police for blasphemy and the North Sumatra branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a fatwa declaring that she had indeed insulted Islam. After that, she was named a suspect by the police leading to her eventual imprisonment.
Shortly after the riots, President Joko Widodo demanded that firm action be taken against the rioters and police made numerous arrests. However, out of the eight people who were eventually convicted for their part in the violence and property damage, all but one received sentences of less than two months in jail (one received a sentence of 2 months and 18 days) at the conclusion of their trials in January 2017.
Meiliana's attorneys have said they will appeal the verdict.
Indonesia's controversial blasphemy laws have been under intense scrutiny in the past few years, particularly after the jailing of former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in 2017 for blasphemy against Islam. Many domestically and abroad, including the United Nations, have called for the abolishment of the laws as they are prone to political manipulation and have been used overwhelmingly to persecute religious minorities.
Indonesia's Ministry of Religious Affairs has issued a circular on azan or the Islamic call to prayer, with guidelines on when and how it ought to be broadcast by mosques across the country, amid an outcry over the jailing of a woman who had griped about azan volumes to a neighbour.
Titled "The use of loudspeakers in Mosques, Langgar, and Musholla", the circular released on Friday (Aug 24) urges religious institutions to follow the instructions of the director-general of Muslim guidance, Tempo news portal reported on Saturday (Aug 25).
The directive came three days after a 44-year-old woman of Chinese descent and Buddhist faith was found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to 1 1/2-year jail by the Medan district court.
The woman, named Meliana, complained to her neighbour in 2016 about the volume of azan broadcast by a mosque near her home in northern Sumatra. But the neighbour told others about it and soon rumour had it that Meliana was trying to ban azan.
The resulting outrage led to a rampage by Muslims on several Buddhist temples in what is believed to be the worst bout of anti-Chinese violence in the country since 1998.
After Meliana was sentenced on Tuesday, civil society groups and lawyers denounced the verdict as excessive and silly. The two biggest Muslim organisations in the country, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, also questioned the use of the blasphemy charge against the woman.
The religious affairs ministry's instructions on azan runs over six points according to Tempo:
1. Loudspeakers in mosques should be handled by experienced personnel to avoid droning sounds, humming, and other noises that would potentially arouse antipathy towards mosques.
2. Those issuing the azan must possess a melodious and good voice. Meliana, a Buddhist, was jailed for complaining to a neighbour about the volume of the azan (call to prayer) from the speaker of the community mosque.
3. Do not raise sound levels while conducting a prayer.
4. Except for the azan, do not broadcast sounds when most people are likely to be sleeping, resting, and praying.
5. Azan must fulfil basic requirements including being melodious and easy on the ears.
6. Azan should be broadcast at appropriate times like during the subuh prayer at dawn. Activities such as Quran reciting should utilise only indoor speakers.
Sheany, Jakarta Indonesian civil society organizations have denounced the imprisonment of a Buddhist woman who was found guilty of blasphemy after complaining that the Islamic call to prayer from a mosque near her home in Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra, was too loud.
In separate statements, the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) and the Setara Institute, a human rights group, called on the government and the House of Representatives to revise the country's archaic blasphemy law, as part of efforts to curtail discrimination against marginalized communities.
"Komnas Perempuan is urging for Meiliana to be cleared of all charges, as this was not a criminal offense," the commission said in a statement on Friday (24/08).
The Medan District Court sentenced Meiliana, an ethnic Chinese, to 18 months in prison earlier this week after ruling that she insulted Islam by telling a neighbor that the call to prayer was too loud and asking for the volume to be turned down.
Her legal team has filed an appeal against the verdict. Her remarks triggered a mass riot in the area in 2016, when angry mobs burned down and damaged several Buddhist monasteries and temples.
Other organizations, including Human Rights Watch and the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, previously said Indonesia's blasphemy law has been used to prosecute and imprison members of the country's religious minorities.
Amnesty International Indonesia said the court's decision was a flagrant violation of the freedom of expression.
"Sentencing someone to 18 months in prison for something so trivial is a stark illustration of the increasingly arbitrary and repressive application of the blasphemy law in the country," said Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia.
Komnas Perempuan further said the case against Meiliana cannot be seen in isolation, noting that it has been receiving reports of potential religious tensions in Tanjung Balai since 2010.
The commission said mistrust, prejudice and a lack of peaceful dialogue between the diverse ethnic and religious communities in the city were exacerbated by social and economic disparities, as members of the ethnic Chinese community are generally perceived as being wealthier than those from other groups.
Meiliana's case therefore served as a trigger for the expression of mass discontent. "Through our findings on tensions and conflict in Tanjung Balai, we can conclude that Meiliana's case cannot stand on its own," Komnas Perempuan said.
Komnas Perempuan and the Setara Institute both also noted that Meiliana's case was spurred on by mass public pressure.
"The trial against Meiliana is an example of mob justice, which erodes the integrity of our legal institutions," said Hendardi, chairman of the Setara Institute.
The Setara Institute criticized the Indonesian justice system and said Meiliana's case illustrates that the country's legal institutions are weak when pressured by intolerant groups.
"Intolerance and discrimination are glued to Indonesia's legal institutions. Intolerance is not only increasing among members of the public, but also among law enforcement officers and in government," Hendardi said.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta Recent days have seen an outpouring of support for Meiliana, a Chinese-Indonesian woman of the Buddhist faith who was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison for complaining about the volume of the adzan (Islamic call to prayer) from a speaker at a mosque near her house in Tanjungbalai, North Sumatra.
Religious Affairs Minister Lukman H. Saifuddin, who is currently in Saudi Arabia, recently joined the chorus of support, even expressing his readiness to testify in Meiliana's favor in a higher court.
He expressed his willingness on his personal Twitter account in response to a query from Saiful Mujani, the director of the Saiful Mujani Research Center, who tweeted, "So it's not seen as intervention, it's better for the religious affairs minister to appeal as a related party or an expert witness. Please [do so], Sir!"
Lukman tweeted again on Thursday, saying that "In my opinion, Article 156a of Law No. 1/1965 [on blasphemy] regarding Meiliana's case cannot be used as an independent variable as it is dependent upon context."
Lukman also pointed to Instruction No. 101, released by the Religious Affairs Ministry's Public Guidance Directorate General in 1978 that regulates the use of speakers in houses of worship. The instruction, among other things, stipulates that amplified Quran recitations can be broadcast, at the earliest, 15 minutes prior to the call to prayer.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who also serves as the chairman of the Indonesia Mosques Council (DMI), suggested that legal sentencing over a complaint was unnecessary.
"Of course residents who ask [mosques to lower the volume of speakers] should not be charged [...] It's an acceptable request to make, even the DMI has asked mosques to set their speakers at a tolerable volume and not to use the speakers for too long," Kalla told reporters at his office recently.
Kalla also made a similar request back in 2015, criticizing the overuse of mosque loudspeakers especially during Ramadhan.
Members of the public have also voiced their concern by signing a petition on change.org calling on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to free Meiliana. Over 100,000 people had signed the petition as of Friday evening.
However, in a statement released by the Presidential Office, Jokowi said he would not "intervene in the legal process", but suggested that the ruling could still be challenged in a higher court.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Discrimination Movement (Gandi) said on Thursday that Meiliana's request was similar to Kalla's in 2015. Therefore, Gandi secretary Ahmad Ari Mahsyuri requested the North Sumatra chapter of the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) to review their fatwa that declared Meiliana's complaint to be "demeaning and insulting toward Islam" because the adzan was part of Islamic law.
Based on the fatwa, the police charged Meiliana with blasphemy. Meiliana made the comment to a neighbor on July 22, 2016, however she reportedly disappeared until she was finally arrested on May 30 this year.
Despite criticism, the MUI doubled down on the fatwa, with MUI deputy secretary-general Tengku Zulkarnain arguing that "people should respect the rule of law".
Meiliana's blasphemy trial started on June 26 this year and continued on Aug. 13 when the prosecutors demanded she be found guilty under Articles 156 and 156a of the Criminal Code, and be sentenced to 1.5 years in prison.
Meiliana's private comment became a source of rumors in the days following its utterance, with people claiming a woman of Chinese descent wanted to "ban adzan".
The rumors quickly snowballed, triggering a riot that saw a mob destroy and set fire to several Buddhist temples in the port city. The police arrested 19 people for their roles in the riot. All were given one to four month jail sentences. (JP/Nerida Indahsari)
Christie Stefanie, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo says that he respect the verdict handed down by the Medan District Court against Meiliana who was sentenced to one-and-a-half years in jail after being found guilty of blasphemy.
According to Widodo, if there are those that disagree with the verdict then Meiliana can lodge an appeal. "Yes, an appeal process is available", said Widodo after meeting with the Bishops Council of Indonesia (KWI) in Jakarta on Friday August 24.
Speaking on behalf of Meiliana, her legal attorney Ranto Sibarani said that she will soon launch an appeal against the verdict.
Widodo said even as the head he is not above the law and is unable to intervene in the case. This is because even he has recently been found guilty by the law in a suit over the burning of forests and land by the Palangkaraya High Court.
"I am unable to intervene in legal affairs that are related to the authority of the courts. I myself have only just been found guilty by a court in Palangkaraya over a [forest] fire", said Widodo laughing.
The Palangkaraya High Court recently found Widodo guilty of violating the law in a forest and land fire case.
The other defendants in the case included Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, Agricultural Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman, Agriculture and Land Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil, Health Minister Nila F. Moeloek, Central Kalimantan Governor Sugianto Sabran and the Central Kalimantan Regional House of Representatives (DPRD). The defendants are currently preparing to submit an appeal with the Supreme Court. (ayp)
The last few days have seen a massive outpouring of support for Meiliana, a Chinese-Indonesian woman of the Buddhist faith who was sentenced to 1.5 years for complaining about the volume of the adzan (Islamic call to prayer) from a speaker at a mosque near her house in Tanjungbalai, North Sumatra. An online petition addressed to Widodo which was launched on August 22 calling for Meiliana to be freed has already been signed by more than 100,000 people. The petition also requests that the panel of judges that sentenced Meiliana be reviewed and that the Ministry of Religious Affairs issue a regulation on the use of loudspeakers by mosques, which it has since done.
Sheany, Jakarta More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition against a court decision sentencing an Indonesian woman of Chinese descent on blasphemy charges for complaining that a mosque's loudspeaker was too noisy.
The ruling has reinforced concerns about the arbitrary use of blasphemy laws, which limit freedom of expression in the world's largest Muslim-majority country.
The Medan District Court this week found 44-year-old Meiliana, who is a Buddhist, guilty of blasphemy and sentenced her to 18 months in prison for saying that the Islamic call to prayer coming from a mosque near her home in Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra, was too loud.
The incident, which took place in 2016, triggered mass protests and mob violence in the region, with crowds burning down several Buddhist monasteries and temples.
Vice chairman of human rights group Setara Institute, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, said on Friday (24/08) the court's decision reflects a pattern in blasphemy cases, where there is pressure from the masses.
"Is Meiliana guilty? Did she incite hostility? Her statement cannot be categorized as such, nor can it be categorized as blasphemy. The court is misguided,"" Bonar told the Jakarta Globe.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who also heads the Indonesian Mosques Council (DMI), said a complaint from a member of the public on the volume of a mosque's speaker is not a criminal offense.
"I'm not entirely sure what Meiliana was protesting, whether it was a recitation or call to prayer. But of course if there's a complaint from a member of the public, it should not lead to conviction," Kalla said, as quoted by Suara Pembaruan.
Thousands of Indonesians have since expressed their support through an online petition to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, which has been signed by more than 100,000 as of Friday afternoon.
The petition, which started on Wednesday, is pushing for Meiliana to be freed. It also requests that the panel of judges that sentenced Meiliana be reviewed and that the Ministry of Religious Affairs issue a regulation on the use of loudspeakers by mosques.
Amnesty International Indonesia called the court's decision "ludicrous" and a "flagrant violation" of freedom of expression.
The executive board of Nahdlatul Ulama, the country's largest independent Muslim organization, has also denounced the verdict.
According to Robikin Emhas, the board's head of legal affairs and human rights, Meiliana's complaint did not constitute blasphemy.
In a statement, Jakarta-based Institute for Criminal Justice Reform warned that the court's decision will have a negative impact on tolerance in Indonesia and may further erode the rights of minority groups.
According to ICJR, Indonesia's blasphemy law has always been used to prosecute individuals accused of insulting the majority religion. Human Rights Watch warned the law has been used to prosecute and imprison members of religious minorities.
Rosie Perper Indonesian political actors are paying social media influencers to spread propaganda ahead of the country's 2019 elections, in a growing practice that many believe has strengthened political and religious divides in the country.
Several reports point to dozens of these influencers, referred to as "buzzers", working in swarms to flood social media with political propaganda in order to influence election results.
According to research by the Center for Innovation and Policy Research, buzzers began to be used to promote political interests in 2014, and were used extensively to disseminate propaganda during that year's presidential election.
Buzzers often work alone or as part of a coordinated effort to spread messages, enticed by large payments for their likes and shares across social media.
The research also indicates that all candidates in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election used teams of buzzers in order to spread viral campaign messages.
Swarms of buzzers played a crucial role in the divisive election campaign that pinned Christian Chinese governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as "Ahok," against two Muslim contenders.
The election was wrought with religious tension which came to a head after edited segments of a speech made by Ahok featuring Quranic verses spread like wildfire across social media. As a result, Ahok lost his post and was jailed for blasphemy against Islam.
Several outlets, including The Guardian and The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, have reported on the growing number of buzzers appearing to pop up in the digital landscape over the last few years.
A source told the Guardian that leading up to the 2017 election in Jakarta, a team of more than 20 people worked as part of a "secretive cyber army" that blasted messages on social media in support of Ahok during his re-election campaign.
According to the source, each member of his team had 11 social media accounts, and would generate up to 2,400 posts on Twitter per day.
Most were supporters of Ahok and university students enticed by the pay of around $280 per month, though buzzers with influence could earn $1,400 for a single post, according to the report.
"They told us you should have five Facebook accounts, five Twitter accounts and one Instagram," he told the Guardian. Efforts were coordinated through encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp.
Authorities have started to take note as it remains rampant in Indonesia's political landscape.
Earlier this year, police made a string of arrests against a self-proclaimed cyber-jihadist network known as the Muslim Cyber Army (MCA), which according to a Guardian investigation employed semi-automated accounts and buzzers to push fake news and spread defamatory political content.
The report revealed that MCA was linked to several opposition parties, and is believed to have been funded by at least one entity with political influence.
Michael Sianapar, Director of Indonesia's Solidarity Party (PSI), told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that political manipulation of the masses has only gotten worse in recent years.
"Social media is a tool [the political elite] have now mastered... to the detriment of the society. We just have to master it back again," he said.
Election season has already kicked off across 31 provinces in Indonesia, including four of the country's most populous provinces. The country is set to hold its general election in April 2019, and campaigns are in full swing.
But rumors and religious divide continue to dominate the Indonesian political landscape.
Rahmat Effendi, reelected as mayor of Bekasi in West Java in July, told Al Jazeera that prior to the local election, gossip about his religious affiliations buzzed across the electorate.
"There were rumours and fake stories spreading from mosque to mosque that I would build 500 churches and that a crusade was about to happen," Effendi told Al Jazeera.
"But we have acted quickly together with police to arrest those responsible for spreading lies."
Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta Indonesian Military (TNI) and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) are praised as the two most trusted national institutions according to a poll conducted by Charta Politika and Asumsi.
"TNI and KPK still top the list," said Charta Politika researcher Muslimin in South Jakarta on Tuesday, August 28.
According to Muslimin, the poll result shows that the level of confidence towards TNI is 73.5 percent while KPK scored 73.4 percent. The poll was conducted through a random phone interview among 800 respondents in eight major Indonesian cities with a 3.46 percent margin of error.
Taking the third spot is the 'presidential institutions' that scored 68.5 percent among participants. "President Jokowi's image is one of the driving factors," said Muslimin. Meanwhile, the national police (Polri) scored 50.4 percent.
Furthermore, the Charta Politika researcher said that the House of Representatives (DPR) ranked fifth with 49.3 percent, which he deemed an improvement. Unsurprisingly, political parties scored the lowest with 32.5 percent.
Elisabeth Jackson A new regulation that makes it easier for the Indonesian government to contract social organisations to deliver services reflects a shift in the relationship between the government and NGOs.
The release of Presidential Regulation No. 16 2018 on public procurement has the potential to improve the reach and quality of services delivered to the poorest and most marginalised people. These are people living in remote and isolated communities, ethnic and religious minorities, vulnerable women, children and youth, and people with disabilities whom government services often fail to reach.
It will also provide access to much-needed funding for grassroots NGOs and faith-based organisations that are often uniquely placed to meet the needs of people who are socially and economically excluded.
A recent survey found that national and provincial-level NGOs depended on international donors for funding, while local-level organisations relied on funds they generated themselves for example, through small businesses. At both the national and local levels, government funds represented only a small fraction of NGOs' income.
The reliance on international donor funds is problematic. Many Western donors are reducing their development assistance as Indonesia consolidates its status as a lower-middle-income country. These overall reductions will have a significant impact on the ability of Indonesia's NGOs to deliver services effectively or in some cases at all.
In many countries around the world, government agencies work in partnership with NGOs to deliver public services such as health, education and sanitation. These partnerships take a variety of forms, including memoranda of understanding, contracts and grants.
In Indonesia, national and local governments do provide some funding for social and community services. Social assistance (bantuan sosial, bansos) funds, for example, can be used for programs or activities relating to community empowerment, poverty reduction, or disaster relief. But the funds are generally only provided for one-off activities. This makes them unsuitable for organisations that provide ongoing services.
In 2011, Indonesia passed a law on legal aid (Law No. 16 2011). This law enables accredited legal aid organisations to claim government funding for legal advice and court representation of poor clients. However, this kind of formal NGO-government partnership is relatively rare.
Before the release of Presidential Regulation No 16 2018, Indonesia's public procurement regulations only allowed commercial entities to bid for government contracts. This meant NGOs wanting to tender for government work had to establish a limited liability company or PT.
The changes under the new presidential regulation are the result of efforts by research and advocacy organisations AKATIGA, the Centre for Law and Policy Studies (PSHK) and the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM). These organisations worked with the National Public Procurement Agency (LKPP) to explain the challenges that NGOs faced and provide input into the revisions to the regulations.
As a result, social organisations can now bid for government contracts that fall within the category of self-managed projects (swakelola). Challenges and risks
This development reflects a shift over the last 15 years in the relationship between government and NGOs, from mutual suspicion to a greater willingness to work together. It acknowledges the important role that NGOs play in Indonesia's development. But challenges remain.
The changes to the procurement regulations could benefit NGOs that deliver services but will be less beneficial for research and advocacy organisations. These organisations also serve an important function, by deepening understanding of social, economic and political issues and informing the development and implementation of public policy.
Fortunately, the revisions include a new section on procurement of research. This will enable a range of research actors, including universities and non-government think tanks, to tender for government contracts for research. This was a result of input provided by research and advocacy NGOs to LKPP and the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education.
Given that 78% of corruption cases handled by Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in 2016 involved procurement, corruption remains a risk. One way to overcome this is by ensuring that procurement processes are open and transparent. Another is to improve the governance of the NGO sector as a whole, perhaps by having NGOs develop sector-wide standards for governance and accountability.
Over the past 15 years, Indonesia has more than halved its poverty rate, from 24% in 1999 to 11% in 2014. But inequality has risen, and reaching those at the very bottom will be harder.
Many faith-based and non-government organisations have developed strong networks in local communities and have put in place structures and institutions for delivering critical services. If the government is to achieve its poverty and human development targets, it will need to work with these organisations to extend and improve services for those who are most in need. Rather than setting up new service infrastructure, the government can take advantage of what is already in place.
Translating the changes in regulation into better services for communities will require NGOs and governments to work in genuine partnerships of mutual trust and respect. Both partners will need to ensure they remain accountable to each other and to the communities they serve.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta The Supreme Court has received a cassation appeal filed by the government against a Palangkaraya High Court ruling that found President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo liable in the disastrous forest fires in Central Kalimantan.
Court spokesman Abdullah said the Supreme Court's administrative division was still checking the completeness of the appeal dossier, after which it would be handed over to the clerks' division to be given a registration number.
"We cannot be sure when [the case will be processed] but it will not be too long, possibly within one month at the maximum," Abdullah said on Tuesday adding that the government would get no privilege from the court in handling the case.
Palangkaraya High Court ruled on Aug. 22 upholding the Palangkaraya District Court's ruling issued in March last year, which sided with environmental activists from Central Kalimantan who filed a citizen's lawsuit against the government on the 2015 fires that caused the nation's worst-ever haze crisis.
The activists filed the lawsuit against the President and his Cabinet ministers, including the environment, agriculture and health ministers as well as the Central Kalimantan governor and Central Kalimantan Regional Representative Council (DPRD).
In the ruling, the District Court ordered Jokowi to issue a regulation to support the implementation of the 2009 Environmental Protection and Management Law to prevent and control forest fires with the involvement of members of the public.
Jakarta Nickel miner Laman Mining is suspected of illegal bauxite mining operations, disrupting orangutan habitat in West Kalimantan's Tulak River forest.
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry raided the company's sites in Puring and Kempapakon on Aug. 20, finding seven heavy-duty vehicles for excavation.
Laman Mining claimed the areas were included in its mining business permit (IUP). According to forest maps, however, Puring and Kempapak belong to the Tulak River convertible production forest area, to which Laman has no rights. Convertible production forests are forested areas that the government can designate for a limited use such as farming.
The Tulak River forest area is also Palung Mountain National Park's buffer zone as well as orangutan habitat, neither of which should be disrupted.
"This is an extraordinary evil," Rasio Ridho Sani, the ministry's director of law enforcement, said in a statement on Sunday (26/08).
The ministry is questioning Laman's directors and commissioners. "We are also investigating the possibility that money laundering was involved in this illegal mining operation," Rasio said.
Under a 2013 law on prevention of forest destruction, the company's officials may face between eight and 20 years in prison, if convicted, while the company may face a fine of Rp 20 billion ($1.37 million) to Rp 50 billion.
Jakarta The Environment and Forestry Ministry sealed land owned by five holders of plantation concessions in Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan over the weekend after authorities discovered fires in the areas.
The five companies were identified only by their initials: PT SUM, PT PLD, PT AAN, PT APL and PT RJP.
"The move is aimed at creating a deterrent effect," Rasio Ridho Sani, the ministry's law enforcement director general who led the operation in Kubu Raya, said in a press statement on Sunday. "The government is serious in handling [forest fire] cases."
"We will continue to monitor other locations, including by using satellite and drones," he added.
Rasio said that his office was considering levying both administrative punishments and civil and criminal charges on anyone responsible for causing forest fires in the province.
The police have named 26 individuals as suspects for allegedly burning forest across West Kalimantan. As of Friday, investigators had arrested 14 of the suspects.
Data by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) showed that the number of hot spots in West Kalimantan had decreased from 885 on Thursday to 38 on Sunday morning.
A team comprising more than 2,300 personnel from the Military, police, government ministries and local administrations have been working to extinguish fires across the province, BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. (sau/ipa)
Panca Nugraha and Aman Rochman, Mataram/Malang As the emergency response period for recent earthquakes in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) comes to an end, survivors continue to struggle with daily needs as they remain displaced from their homes.
Earthquake victims shared their troubles with newly appointed Social Affairs Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita on Saturday during his visit to a shelter in Gunungsari district, West Lombok regency.
The evacuees told Agus that they hoped the government could provide them with a daily allowance while they await the rebuilding of their homes.
"We have many problems, sir," said Asmahan, a 42-year-old housewife. "Especially for our daily needs, our stomachs, because we are unable to carry out our activities as usual."
West Lombok Regent Fauzan Khalid echoed Asmahan's concerns. "Hopefully, there will be a daily allowance, some social aid, especially for our residents whose houses are badly damaged, and even for those [whose homes] only suffered light damage, because they are still unable to work," he said.
He also asked that charitable donations be allocated to productive sectors, such as for the construction of an emergency market to replace West Lombok's damaged traditional market.
According to Fauzan, some 170,000 West Lombok residents remained displaced while 52,000 houses were damaged in a series of large earthquakes in August.
Separately, Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said his ministry was targeting to rebuild 11,000 homes within the next six months.
"The government has set aside Rp 4 trillion [US$274 million] in the state budget to fund the rebuilding of infrastructure affected by the earthquake in Lombok," he said in Malang, East Java, on Saturday.
Agus assured the victims that the government would provide whatever help was needed.
"Do not worry because central government will do anything that is needed to solve the problems here, from the early stages until life returns to normal," Agus said, adding that he would speak to Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Monday regarding the daily allowance.
"Hopefully, the state has the funds. And if it does, God willing, we will work it out so that we can provide the allowance," he said. (kmt/ipa)
David Lipson A month ago this Wednesday, the Indonesian Island of Lombok was struck by the first of a series of devastating earthquakes, and aftershocks still keep on coming. More than 430,000 people are now homeless.
Despite a major relief effort, opponents of President Joko Widodo say he should have declared a national disaster to open the door to more international aid.
A full month of relentless earthquakes and aftershocks has turned the popular tourist haven of Gili Trawangan into a ghost town. The streets are littered with rubble and debris from damaged shopfronts.
Ben Ozduzen, from Shepparton in Victoria, set up a makeshift clinic with his wife outside their property in the hours after the quake. "We took all those bricks and made a barrier here and brought all our injured. About 30, 40 metres away, we had all our deceased."
The majority of large earthquakes occur on or near Earth's tectonic plate boundaries and the ones in the past week are no exception. However, there are some unique conditions around Lombok.
The quakes have made sleep difficult, as people remain wary of further aftershocks. Mr Ozduzen said it was a grim scene, working to retrieve bodies and clean up after the destruction wrought by the quakes.
"We'd been walking near the broken jetty and we found another body under that, we saw the back of his pants sticking out. People had been walking past it and didn't notice because it was a grey pair of jeans matching the grey cement."
In the run-up to next year's presidential election, a debate has raged over whether President Joko Widodo should have declared a national disaster to allow international aid to flow freely.
Jakarta maintains the provincial Government has been on top of the effort throughout. But officials have also admitted they didn't want a declaration to impact on tourism or national pride.
Spokesman for the National Disaster Agency, Sutopo Nugroho, said showing a strong internal response was a factor in the decision.
"When a disaster happens, not many countries are willing to declare a 'national disaster' status, as it will show the weakness of the country. We want to show the world that we are capable of handling the disaster in Lombok."
Government and local aid groups are rolling out relief on the island of Lombok. But locals say it's taking much too long and what they have received is barely enough.
On the east of the Island, where there's been relatively little media focus, a 17-year-old girl, Eva Haerani, is very ill lying down, hooked up to a drip under a hot plastic tarp.
Her mother, Ibu Susuryani, said the government hadn't sent any medics. "There are children here who still need help."
Evi Mariani and Apriadi Gunawan, Jakarta/Medan Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya paid a visit to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the palace on Oct. 31 last year bearing good news. A group of scientists had confirmed the finding of a new orangutan species called Tapanuli orangutan, she reported to the President.
Less than a year later, the global scientists who researched the endangered species sent two letters to the Presidential Palace. The first letter in July said there was a Chinese-funded hydropower project in the orangutan habitat that "could be the death knell for the Tapanuli orangutan, by flooding a key expanse of its habitat and, even more crucially, by slicing up its remaining forest home with new roads, power lines, tunnels and other built facilities".
The scientists believe only 800 Tapanuli orangutans remain in their habitat, the Batang Toru ecosystem in South Tapanuli regency, North Sumatra. The apes, with frizzier hair than their Bornean and Sumatran counterparts, have been threatened by poaching and illegal logging. The planned dam, they believe, will make the species' chance of survival slimmer. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has included the species on its red list, calling it "critically endangered". The second letter, dated Aug. 16, reiterated the scientists' request, saying that they had collected scientific evidence that had led them to believe the project "should not have been approved initially by the North Sumatra provincial government".
The company responsible for the project, PT North Sumatera Hydro Energy (NSHE), refuted the scientists' claims, saying that the hydropower plant, designed to produce 510 megawatts of electricity, was an environmentally friendly project, which would not flood much of the Batang Toru ecosystem.
The NSHE said the hydropower plant, which used "run-of-river technology" and had Chinese state-owned company Sinohydro as the contractor and operator, would only flood 67.7 hectares of area in Batang Toru, which is not a protected forest but an area penggunaan lain (nonforest estate). The company also argued that it had completed all the necessary documents required by the North Sumatra administration.
The company, which is financially backed by a consortium of Chinese and international banks, told The Jakarta Post that it had taken measures to protect the orangutans and that it was also interested in protecting the forest because its project depended on the abundance of water in the Batang Toru River. "We will join any effort in the future that aims to better the orangutan habitat," Agus Djoko Ismanto, a senior adviser to the NSHE, said recently. "We are not planning to inundate 9,600 hectares," Agus said.
The scientists, however, are not convinced. One of them, Bill Laurance, director of the Center for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science at James Cook University, said in-depth scientific analysis of the conservation status and threats to the Tapanuli orangutan had found that when new roads appeared, apes disappeared.
The NSHE confirmed that besides the 67.7-ha that will be flooded with water; about 600-ha will be used to build roads, tunnels and other infrastructure.
In the letter addressed to the President in July, 25 scientists from all over the world, including Jatna Supriatna from the University of Indonesia, said that instead of approving the dam project, the government should have had initiated forest restoration efforts in Batang Toru. "Roads are a particularly insidious threat because they open the ape's habitat to poachers, illegal loggers, miners and land encroachers. Recent scientific analysis shows that the Tapanuli orangutan survives only where roads are almost entirely absent," the letter said.
Environmentalists and others all over the world have voiced their support for the scientists. A global campaign to save the species began early this month and had gained more than 1.31 million supporters.
"As citizens from across the world, we urge you to save the last 800 Tapanuli orangutans from extinction by canceling the Batang Toru hydropower dam project. The fate of this entire species rests in your hands, "the petition on avaaz.org said.
Protests from national environmentalists have also escalated into a lawsuit. The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) filed a lawsuit earlier this month against the regional administration's decision to issue permits for the power plant.
One of the organization's lawyers, Golfrid Siregar, said the permit issuance was problematic on account of the lack of discussion and participation from locals.
Separately, the director of Walhi's North Sumatra office, Dana Prima Tarigan, said the power plant could also cause an ecological disaster, as it would be located near an earthquake-prone area in the province.
In response to the growing calls, the Environment and Forestry Ministry had held a coordination meeting with the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry and the company to discuss possible solutions.
"After the meeting, we established a joint team comprising personnel from both ministries, the company, regional administration and the Indonesian Orangutan Forum [Forina], which is task with looking for alternatives to be applied in the area," the ministry's natural resources and ecosystems director general, Wiratno, told the Post last week.
One of the solutions offered by the company, he added, was to build an "orangutan corridor" that would help the animal migrate between the two forest areas in Batang Toru. Should the concept can be applied in the area, it will become the first corridor to be implemented in Indonesia.
"It, however, was still an idea. The team will need to go into the area first before offering possible solutions. We are still waiting for data from the field," Wiratno said. (amd)
Fadli and Rizal Harahap, Batam/Pekanbaru The target of a 95 percent coverage rate for the second stage of the measles-rubella (MR) vaccination campaign in Pekanbaru, the provincial capital of Riau province, and in another province, Riau Islands, is unlikely to be met because of parents' opposition.
The campaign is scheduled to run until September. However, nearly four weeks into the campaign the coverage rate is slightly under 20 percent.
"Only 39,236 out of 196,848 children, or slightly under 20 percent, had been vaccinated as of Friday," said the acting head of Pekanbaru Health Agency, Zaini Rizaldy Saragih.
"The number of students who want to get MR immunization has dropped dramatically day by day. We guess the target won't be achieved even if the campaign continues," he added.
Furthermore, the agency decided to halt the MR immunization on Friday in relation to Clause 2 of the recent Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) edict No. 33/2018, which stated that the vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) contained haram substances.
Zaini said the agency would wait for further action by the central government before proceeding further.
"However, we won't refuse parents or schools who want their children or students to get vaccinated as long as they declare it a voluntary action in a statement letter," he added.
In neighboring province, Riau Islands, the MR immunization coverage rate was also recorded at around 20 percent, according to the province's health agency. The head of Riau Islands Health Agency, Tjejep Yudiana, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday that the statement by the Riau Islands' chapter of the MUI urging Muslims to refrain from using the MR vaccine, had affected the number of students looking to be vaccinated.
"Currently, around 120,000 out of 604,000 children in Riau Islands have been vaccinated. The impact [of the Riau Islands MUI edict] is substantial," he said.
He said, however, that he was optimistic the MR vaccine's coverage rate target within the province would be achieved within the remaining timespan if Riau Islands MUI followed the latest edict issued by the central MUI, which stated that the MR vaccine was mubah (permitted for Muslims). (sau)
Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta In a bid to counter intolerance and radicalism that are reportedly on the rise at universities lately, a group of University of Indonesia (UI) alumni formed the Alliance for Tolerance which will, among other measures, monitor intolerant and radical activities on campus.
Alliance chairman Donny Gahral Adian said on Thursday that a number of academics of the university had shown signs of trying to insert radicalism and spread intolerance at UI. The radicalism and hatred toward "others, usually minorities," were conveyed through a small discussion forum called mentoring.
"Through the one-on-one discussion called mentoring, messages like 'don't choose a leader who has different beliefs to yours' were inserted by the mentor," Donny said, adding that mentors in the small forum were usually affiliated with political parties or Muslim groups like Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI).
Although the HTI had been disbanded, Donny said, the HTI movement lived on at UI.
The Alliance for Tolerance has set up a website at uitoleran.id, where cases of intolerance or radicalization at UI could be reported.
Donny said the reports would be followed up by a special team comprising of UI alumni and the university's rectorate. Those proven to sow or spread intolerant or radical ideas would be sanctioned in line with the university's rules.
The alumni in the alliance include Saparinah Sadli, JB Sumarlin, Albertine Minderop, Sulistyowati Irianto, Riris Sarumpaet, Ratih Ibrahim, Saras Dewi, Prita Laura, Kasandra Putranto, Ade Armando and singer Once.
The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) found previously that students at seven state universities in Indonesia were exposed to radical ideas.
The universities are UI, Airlangga University, Brawijaya University, Sepuluh November Institute of Technology, Bandung Institute of Technology, Bogor Agriculture Institute and Diponegoro University. (evi)
Jakarta The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) detained Idrus Marham, the former social affairs minister in President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's Cabinet, after hours of questioning at its headquarters in Jakarta on Friday.
Idrus, who is also a top Golkar Party politician, has been named a suspect in an embezzlement case related to the development of a coal-powered power plant (PLTU) in Riau.
"IM [Idrus Marham] will be detained for the first 20 days at the KPK's detention center in Jakarta," KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah said on Friday.
On Friday, KPK investigators questioned Idrus and Golkar lawmaker Eni Saragih, who is also a suspect in the case, as well as witness Dwi Hartono, the operational director for PT PJBI.
The investigators have dug deeper into past meetings and discussions on the project as well as the cooperation mechanism and scheme, which took place, said Febri.
Idrus voluntarily resigned from his ministerial post last week, citing his ethical and moral obligation to step down. He was Jokowi's first Cabinet minister to be named a suspect in a graft case.
When asked after the questioning whether there would be more politicians implicated in the case, Idrus said, "The investigators will reveal everything." (swd)
Syafiul Hadi, Jakarta The Federation of United Indonesia (Fiber) has slammed the Election Supervisory Agency's (Bawslu) decision to stop its investigation into the case of political dowry allegedly committed by vice presidential candidate Sandiaga Uno for the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).
Fiber secretary-general M. Zakir Rasyidin said Bawaslu's decision was too hasty. "How could the Bawaslu-level institution decide that Fiber's report was not proven, while none of the reported parties was examined," Zakir said on Friday, August 31.
Bawaslu decided that the case was not proven and therefore stopped due to the lack of evidence. Bawaslu chairman Abhan said the plaintiff and the witnesses did not hear or see the political dowry directly.
In addition, Bawaslu did not get a direct statement from Andi Arief as the first person to mention the political dowry. The Democrat Party politician failed to meet three summonses.
Zakir said his party doubted the objectivity of Bawaslu's decision as Andi Arief as the key witness had not been questioned at all. "In fact, to get the information in question is very easy, but all depends on Bawaslu, whether they were serious or not in revealing it," Zakir said.
Zakir said that as a plaintiff his party did not understand Bawaslu's consideration to stop the case. Fiber, he said, would still review Bawaslu's decision. "If the decision has potential to have a legal loophole, then we will make further legal remedy," he said.
Jakarta The Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) has said three recently elected regional leaders have been named graft suspects.
The ICW said Biak Numfor deputy regent-elect Nehemia Wospakrik was first declared a suspect in 2011 by the Biak Numfor Police in Papua.
"This case is special as there have been no reports in the media about him being declared a suspect. We only found out after receiving complaints from local residents," ICW researcher Almas Sjafrina said on Thursday as quoted by kompas.com.
Nehemia was implicated in graft involving official trip funding when he served as the Biak Numfor Legislative Council speaker from 2004-2014.
However, eight years after being named a suspect, it seems the police have not made any progress in their investigation into the case. In a corruption case in which the minimum sentence is more than three years, a suspect status lasts for 12 years before it expires.
Nehemia ran for office in the 2014 elections and became the deputy speaker for the 2014-2019 period. He and his running mate, Herry Aryo Naap, later won the 2018 regional election and will be inaugurated in October.
The 2016 Regional Elections Law allows those with a suspect status to be inaugurated.
Previously, the ICW found that Tulungagung regent-elect Syahri Mulyo and North Maluku governor-elect Ahmad Hidayat Mus had also been named suspects by the Corruption Eradication Commission. (ris)
Many have urged a thorough investigation into the explosive allegation that former Jakarta Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno paid IDR500 billion (US$35 million) each to political parties PAN and PKS to secure his nomination as Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto's running mate in next year's election.
But despite the magnitude of the charge, it may never receive the investigation in deserves.
Today, the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) announced that they have dropped their investigation into the allegation citing lack of evidence.
Bawaslu said they could not proceed with the investigation because the key witness, Democratic Party Deputy Secretary General Andi Arief, who made the allegation public in the first place, has not been available for questioning.
"Andi Arief's absence, despite an invitation from Bawaslu [for questioning] means we can't clarify the giving of money to PKS and PAN," Bawaslu Head Abhan said in an official statement, as quoted by Kompas today. Abhan added that the allegation could therefore not be legally proven.
Curiously, Bawaslu ended their investigation before they could make good on their promise to question Sandiaga himself. It appears their investigation was completely reliant on Andi's testimony as their primary piece of evidence and that they never said that they looked into the financial accounts of the parties implicated.
Reacting to Bawaslu's decision, Andi accused them of being "lazy and not serious" in their investigation in a text message sent to reporters today. That said, Andi himself previously failed to meet several summons from Bawaslu for questioning, claiming he had to look after his sick parents in Lampung.
According to Indonesian election laws, paying "political dowries" to influence a political party's choice of nominees for elected officials is illegal. The penalties for violating the law include the revocation of the candidates' registrations and a prohibition on the political parties involved from nominating another candidate in the next election.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said earlier this month that they would also look into Sandiaga's political dowry allegation, but there have been no significant updates on their progress yet.
Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta The Golkar Party has denied allegations that the party had received money connected with a graft case in a coal-powered power plant (PLTU) project in Riau.
Fadli Nasution, the lawyer of Eni Maulani Saragih, a Golkar lawmaker who has been named a suspect in a bribery case in the Riau-1 power plant project, has claimed that his client used some of the kickback money she had accepted from businessman Johannes Budisutrisno Kotjo to fund the party's extraordinary national congress (munaslub) in December.
Party chairman Airlangga Hartarto, who was elected during the congress, denied the accusation on Monday. "The congress' organizing committee chairman Agus Gumiwang [Kartasasmita] said it was not true," Airlangga said.
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators arrested Johannes and Eni, who was the deputy chairwoman of the House of Representatives' Commission VII overseeing energy and mineral resources, during an operation in July.
They were eventually named suspects as the lawmaker was suspected of accepting kickbacks amounting to Rp 6.25 billion (US$427,500) from the businessman to secure the Riau-1 project.
The antigraft body also named former social affairs minister and Golkar politician Idrus Marham a suspect in the case for allegedly pushing the signing of the power purchase agreement between Johannes' company, Blackgold Natural Resources Limited, and state-owned electricity firm PLN.
"During the congress, Eni became the committee's treasurer. At that time, she asked [Johannes] for Rp 2 billion, and later used it for operational funds for the congress," Fadli said.
Ed Davies, Jakarta A top Indonesian anti-corruption investigator plans to release the findings of his own probe into an acid attack that partially blinded him last year, after a failure by police up to now to solve the case.
Novel Baswedan, an investigator at the country's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), has undergone multiple surgeries on his eyes since acid was flung in his face while he was walking home from a mosque in April, 2017.
The shocking assault heightened concerns about the vulnerability of those trying to fight endemic graft in Southeast Asia's biggest economy.
"I am convinced that this attack has something to do with graft cases that I handled," Baswedan told a briefing organised by the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club on Thursday. He declined to elaborate, but said one case was related to a police general.
A police investigation has so far failed to reveal who carried out or ordered the attack, even though President Joko Widodo had called for the case to be solved quickly.
"Initially, I fully supported the investigation conducted by fellow policemen so that they could address this case and find out the perpetrators as quickly as possible," said Baswedan, who was a police investigator before joining the KPK.
But he said later he had come to the view that "they are not really serious in dealing with my case."
Baswedan said his own probe had identified "intellectual actors behind the attack", while also uncovering "irregularities" in the police investigation, noting the elimination of CCTV footage and intimidation of witnesses.
"I have reported this to Komnas HAM (Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights) for further investigation and my team of lawyers and I have also conducted our own investigation and I will soon disclose the results," said Baswedan, whose left eye had to be rebuilt by specialists in Singapore after the attack.
He said he had been attacked at least five times previously, including attempts to run him over while riding a motorbike.
Argo Yuwono, Jakarta's police spokesman, said the force was serious about resolving the case and denied that CCTV footage potentially useful to the case was not being used or that witnesses had been intimidated.
He said that the team set up to investigate the case was sharing its progress with the KPK and the national ombudsman.
Referring to the broader fight against corruption in Indonesia, Baswedan said it was crucial for the current president and the next government, with elections due in April next year, to do more to clean up the police and other legal institutions.
The KPK has jailed a string of high-ranking officials in the past decade, but Indonesians still have to contend with high levels of graft in many areas of their lives.
Transparency International placed the Southeast Asian nation 96th among 180 countries in its annual corruption perceptions index last year, on a par with neighbouring Thailand and Colombia.
Firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab, founder of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), played a pivotal role in the 2017 Jakarta governor's race, but has done little politically in the lead up to the 2019 presidential election.
Being a fugitive from Indonesian law enforcement hiding in Mecca definitely plays a part in that, although the ruling PDI-P party of President Joko Widodo said just last week they would be open to Rizieq's support.
Although Rizieq never formally respond to PDI-P's wooing, it's now pretty clear that he's going to be sticking with the opposition. In a new video from Mecca, posted to Rizieq's Twitter account and FPI's Youtube page, Rizieq calls for a "jihad" against the persecution of the government.
"Our concern is the emergence of paid thugs who persecute ulama (Islamic scholars), public figures, activists, even against women. This should not be allowed," Rizieq says in the video.
"We call from the holy city of Makkah al Mukarromah for all the people, the whole nation, all citizens, to unite in jihad against the paid thugs who want to divide the people, who want to cause chaos in Indonesia and who want to break the peace," he continued.
Rizieq was referring to the #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ReplaceThePresident) controversial opposition movement that has been supported in large part by hardline Islamic organizations.
A #2019GantiPresiden rally that had been scheduled for Sunday in the East Java capital of Surabaya was not given clearance by the city's police over concerns it would disrupt the peace.
Supporters of the opposition movement gathered during Surabaya's Car Free Day event anyways, despite attempts by the police to disperse them, and eventually they clashed violently with counter-protesters.
Since then, many political figures from the opposition have accused President Joko Widodo's administration of being repressive and using state force to silence a legitimate political movement.
Rizieq takes it further in his video, accusing the president's supporters of using paid thugs to attack their side and demanding that his followers rise up in revolution against the government.
SAYA SERUKAN KEPADA SEGENAP UMAT ISLAM; (Persiapkan diri kalian..) AYO... JIHAD...!!! HRS pic.twitter.com/1OibhOvNAX ???? ????? ??? ???? (@RizieqSyihabFPI) August 26, 2018
One line of this poster reads: "If the police and preman (thugs) are already collaborating there is only one solution revolution"
Despite Rizieq's outsized influence on the 2017 Jakarta election, it seems unlikely that many will answer his call for jihad from Mecca. Most analysts predict that President Joko Widodo's decision to pick Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) leader Ma'ruf Amin as his running mate will make it very difficult to attack the incumbent on religious issues as was done to devastating effect against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.
Messages such as this one could push Rizieq, FPI and the entire #2019GantiPresiden movement even further to the fringe. Not only does Ma'ruf symbolize MUI, the country's highest Islamic clerical body, he is also a senior leader of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia's biggest Islamic organization.
Indeed, NU members, particularly members of the organization's youth wing, Bansor, seem to have played a major role in the #2019GantiPresiden counter-protests in Surabaya.
Also, despite the government dropping Rizieq's suspect status in the infamous pornography case that first led to him fleeing the country, he has not announced any plans to return to his homeland in the near future (there are several other legal cases against him still pending). So this could be Rizieq's last attempt at relevance, or the start of something much worse. We'll see.
Jakarta The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) is advising the Bandung city administration to refrain from continuing a plan to build row houses in Balubur village, Bandung Wetan city, Bandung, West Java, before having a proper mediation with residents.
In October, Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil told the public that he would develop row houses in a 5,000-square-meter area that the city administration claimed to own. The development was intended to improve the village's condition.
The city administration promised that the residents would receive money to rent a house anywhere they wanted until the development was finished and that they would later be able to rent units at Rp 270,000 (US$18.50) per month.
However, residents are refusing the development due to unfair compensation.
"The administration only relied on the land status certificate it owns for the eviction. It did not have a proper public consultation to reach an agreement with the residents and did not do a proper appraisal for the land," Komnas HAM chairman Ahmad Taufan Damanik said in a statement on Monday.
He added that the residents had never agreed to the amount of land compensation or the relocation plan promised by the administration.
Ahmad said the Bandung administration should obey the 2005 law on international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, which stipulates that a local administration should reach an agreement with the residents, give proper announcements and relocate the residents before an eviction. (ris)
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has appointed Golkar Party politician Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita as the new social affairs minister, replacing fellow Golkar politician Idrus Marham, who resigned after being named a graft suspect.
Agus, the son of senior politician Ginandjar Kartasasmita, was inaugurated at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Friday afternoon, just hours after Idrus' resignation.
"The Social Affairs Ministry has an urgent task of handling the [post-disaster management] in West Nusa Tenggara. So we decided to immediately name [Idrus'] successor," the President said after the inauguration.
Agus has served as a Golkar lawmaker since 2004 and is currently sitting as the secretary of the Golkar faction at the House of Representatives. He is also listed as a member of Jokowi's campaign team.
Idrus submitted his resignation letter to Jokowi on Friday afternoon, citing his ethical and moral obligation to step down.
The Golkar politician, who was named a suspect in a case of alleged embezzlement surrounding the development of a coal-powered power plant in Riau, said he had been notified by the Corruption Eradication Commission about his suspect status in the case. (sau/ahw)
Jakarta The East Jakarta Prosecutor's Office in Jatinegara struggled to handle the sudden spike in traffic violators on Thursday, most of whom had violated the newly expanded odd-even license plate traffic policy.
Hundreds of individuals needing to redeem their vehicle documents after completing the traffic ticket procedure formed a line that spilled out onto the streets, intertwining with parked motorcycles and cars.
The odd-even policy, which restricts private cars from entering certain major thoroughfares based on plate numbers, was expanded on Aug. 1 to ease congestion ahead of and during the Asian Games. Many residents were caught off guard, with police ticketing over 5,000 motorists in the first six days.
Hendra Ramadan said he had been queuing since 8.30 a.m. but only received the necessary documents at 11 a.m. He added that the office was understaffed, as only seven officials were on duty, placing stress on officials and visitors. "There should be more officials," he said as reported by tribunnews.com.
Joko, another visitor, said he had to pay Rp 80,000 (US$5) for violating the expanded traffic policy, far less than the Rp 250,000 fine he was issued. "We had to queue for two hours, just to pay Rp 80,000", he complained.
Lidia, another traffic violator, concurred, adding that she took a day off work to handle the affair. "I hope they increase the number of staff on duty and the number of counters," she said. (nor)
Jakarta Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has denied accusations that the significant jump in the allocation of social assistance to poor households was a political motive ahead of the presidential and legislative elections next year.
"Through social media, the Finance Ministry always says that it is not [the government's] money, it is the people's money [...] I think, we shouldn't worry about the motive [behind the social assistance]," Sri Mulyani said as quoted by tempo.co on Wednesday.
She was responding to criticism raised by Ramson Siagian, a lawmaker from the opposition Gerindra Party, who accused President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's government of using the state budget for the President's own political interests while the country's debts increased.
Ramson revealed that the government allocated Rp 55 trillion (US$3.75 billion) for social assistance in 2017 and was projected to spend Rp 80.2 trillion and Rp 103.2 trillion for the assistance in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
"The debt made by the government has burdened the people, now and in the future. [...] Yes, it is the people's money, not the President's," he added.
Sri Mulyani argued that the spending on social assistance was in line with the government's efforts to address the issue of poverty in the country by helping communities who lived below the poverty line, and
It is also part of the government's aim to improve the country's economic performance, as requested by the House of Representatives, she added. (bbn)
Adinda Normala, Jakarta The Asian Games had an immediate impact on the economies of the two host cities, in the form of increased retail sales, a tourism boost and improved public infrastructure.
The international multisport event, which kicked off on Aug. 18 and ends on Sunday (02/09), is estimated to have boosted August retail sales in Palembang by between 10 percent and 15 percent month-on-month, and by up to 10 percent in Jakarta, according to Roy Mandey, chairman of the Indonesian Retailers Association (Aprindo).
"In Palembang, the increase was mostly felt around Jakabaring," Roy told the Jakarta Globe, referring to Jakabaring Sport City, the city's main Asian Games venue.
"While in Jakarta, because it is a larger area, we have not yet compiled all the data," he added.
The retail sales boost was mainly driven by transactions made by athletes, officials and tourists in malls and retail stores, Roy said.
In addition to an estimated 150,000 foreign visitors mainly tourists and around 5,000 members of the media, the two cities also welcomed around 15,000 athletes and officials from the 45 countries competing in 40 sports disciplines during the Asian Games.
The Ministry of Tourism estimates that foreign visitors will contribute an additional Rp 3 trillion ($202 million) in foreign exchange, assuming they spend between $1,200 and $1,500 each during their visit.
"Thus, it does not only function as a big sports event, but it is also useful to boost economic growth in Indonesia," Roy said.
Retail sales are estimated to have grown by up to 10 percent to more than Rp 100 trillion in the first six months, according to Aprindo, thanks to improving consumer purchasing power. Around 40 percent, or Rp 40 trillion, came from sales during Idul Fitri and Ramadan. Aprindo has set a retail sales target of Rp 220 trillion for this year, 10 percent higher than last year.
Retail sales are a gauge of household spending, which accounted for 55 percent of Indonesia's nominal gross domestic product in the second quarter.
The tourism and hospitality industries in Jakarta and Palembang expect to have doubled their daily revenues during the Asian Games, said Asnawi Bahar, chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (Asita).
"Occupancy rates at hotels near sports venues in Jakarta and Palembang reached 100 percent," Asnawi told reporters last week.
He said Indonesia should consider presenting annual world-class events, such as Formula One, or a Grand Prix motorcycle race, to boost tourism.
Rosan Roeslani, chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), said although Asian Games events were mainly held in Jakarta and Palembang, small and medium businesses from across the country were involved in producing souvenirs and memorabilia.
The Indonesia Asian Games Organizing Committee (Inasgoc) chose 15 local businesses as official license holders of 350 different merchandise items.
"We're involving all businesses, from food and beverages to transportation and services, to improve purchasing power," Rosan said.
The result of a study by the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) that was released last month showed that the Asian Games would likely contribute up to Rp 22 trillion to Jakarta's economy and Rp 18.7 trillion to that of South Sumatra.
Investment in construction between 2015 and 2018 amounted to Rp 13.7 trillion in Jakarta and Rp 15.4 trillion in South Sumatra, while Asian Games events would likely contribute another Rp 5.8 trillion to Jakarta and Rp 2.1 trillion to South Sumatra. Tourists are meanwhile expected to spend up to Rp 2.6 trillion in Jakarta and Rp 968 billion in South Sumatra, Bappenas said.
The multisport event is also expected to have created an additional 57,300 jobs in Jakarta and 51,500 in Palembang between 2015 and 2019, which may raise the average wage by between 0.36 percent and 0.46 percent in the two provinces.
"The indirect impact on the economy will come from a multiplying effect that will trigger job creation, economic growth and additional personal income," Bappenas head Bambang Brodjonegoro said.
Bhima Adhinegara, a researcher at the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef), predicts that the Indonesian economy will be stable in the third quarter of this year, thanks to the Asian Games. Southeast Asia's biggest economy expanded by 5.27 percent in the second quarter its fasted rate since 2014.
"The most obvious economic effect can be seen in household consumption, which in the third quarter will be quite stable within the 5 percent range, thanks to the Asian Games. Then, there are also increased retail sales, as athletes and tourists are visiting malls between events," Bhima told the Jakarta Globe.
He added that the Asian Games will also have a sustainable impact on Indonesia due to the facilities and infrastructure that have been developed for the event, such as stadiums and light rail transit systems. The country will further benefit from free promotion, having demonstrated its ability to host a major international event.
"The promotion started with the Asian Games opening ceremony, which drew lavish praise from other countries, making foreign tourists curious about Indonesia," Bhima said.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta In a rare moment in the lead up to the 2019 presidential election, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and his political nemesis, Prabowo Subianto, ended up having a group hug while celebrating the victory of a pencak silat athlete during the Asian Games in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Hanifan Yudani Kusuma, who won a gold medal in pencak silat in the final of the men's Class C (55 kilograms to 60 kg) on Wednesday, united the two presidential rivals through a group hug when he came to their VVIP seats to greet them after his victory.
Wearing a red sports jacket, Jokowi sat side by side with Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo, who attended the sporting event in his capacity as the Indonesian Pencak Silat Association (IPSI) chairman.
Hanifan came to Jokowi and hugged him briefly before hugging Prabowo. Afterward, the athlete extended his hand to Jokowi and pulled him in for a group hug with Prabowo.
The moment immediately garnered applause from the audience as well as officials in the VVIP seats, including Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani.
Jokowi later posted a picture of the group hug on his Instagram account and congratulated Hanifan and the 14 pencak silat athletes who won gold medals for Indonesia.
"The three of us Hanifan, myself and Pak Prabowo hugged each other under the cover of the Red and White," Jokowi said in the caption of the post, referring to the Indonesian flag that Hanifan draped around his back.
Jokowi and Prabowo, who competed against each other in the 2014 presidential race, are set to have a rematch next year. Jokowi is paired with non-active Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) leader Ma'ruf Amin, while Prabowo will run with former Jakarta deputy governor Sandiaga Uno. (ahw)
Fanny Potkin, Jakarta Athletes competing in the Asian Games in Indonesia have been banned from consuming alcohol in their accommodation in the host cities of Jakarta and South Sumatra's Palembang, officials said on Monday (28/08).
Athletes who had lost their events, or were no longer competing, had a habit of turning to alcohol, said Harry Warganegara, deputy of sports at the Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee.
"Those bringing beer from outside athletes' villages will be held before entering. We've seized many bottles and cans of beer that athletes and officials have tried to bring in from outside the villages," Harry told reporters.
He said some mission heads also could not fully control their athletes and officials. "Thus we're also preventing officials from bringing beer into the athletes' villages," he said.
The Indonesian organizing committee said it was enforcing an Olympic Council of Asia regulation that prohibits the consumption of liquor in athletes' housing.
Muslim-majority Indonesia imposes high rates of tax on imported alcohol, but it is widely available in cities and tourist areas. The Asian Games runs until Sept. 2.
Jakarta Islamic convenience store chain 212 Mart had opened 192 branches since its May 2017 establishment, Ahmad Juwaini, the executive director of the 212 Islamic Cooperative that founded the chain store, said on Tuesday in Jakarta.
"Of 192 stores, 108 are in Greater Jakarta. The rest are in other regions," Ahmad said as quoted by kompas.com. He added that, due to the cooperative's adherence to the sharia principles of Islamic finance, 212 Mart did not have individual partners.
"We do not work with individual partners. One cooperative has to have at least 100 members," Ahmad said, and that partner cooperatives of 212 Mart must be actively involved in the daily management of its stores, including purchasing goods from cooperatives.
"Every store also must reserve 20 percent of its shelf space for products made by small and medium enterprises [SMEs]," he said.
In January, the cooperatives started distributing profit among its members, whereas it had previously generated revenue from membership fees, said Ahmad.
The country has been seeing growth in Islamic convenience stores that tap into Muslim consumers' demand for halal products and aspirations for a "Muslim economy".
The "212" brand name refers to the 2016 protests on Dec. 2 (2/12), when hundreds of thousands of people held a rally in Jakarta to demand the removal of then-Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Chinese-Indonesian of the Christian faith, on allegations of a blasphemous reference he made to a Quranic passage. Ahok was convicted the following year for blasphemy against Islam. (rfa/bbn)
Gas station attendants don't exactly have the best working conditions even on a good day, but one attendant in Tanjung Morawa, North Sumatra, recently had to deal with the worst kind of customer: the sort who not only doesn't want to queue but is willing to beat up anybody who stands up to them.
The culprits in this case, as shown in a CCTV video that recently went viral, are a military officer and his wife. The clip shows the couple on their motorcycle skipping a line of cars and going straight to the gas pump. The attendant in charge of the pump then appears to tell them to go to the back of the line, after which this happened:
Both the military officer and his wife got off their motorcycle, with the latter screaming at the attendant and throwing something at her. As the attendant was running away from confrontation, the officer chased after her and kicked her in her back (1:20). The attendant tried to fight back but a security guard, other attendants and passersby quickly intervened to prevent further violence.
According to a report by Tribun, some viral posts about the incident accused the military officer and his wife of becoming angry after being told off for skipping the queue, with the wife allegedly screaming, "Can't you see what kind of motorcycle this is?" at the attendant, pointing at its military license plate.
Regional Military Public Relations Head Roy Sinaga confirmed that the culprit in the video is indeed a military officer and that the military is investigating the alleged assault on the attendant internally. No sanctions for the officer or his wife have yet been announced.
"I apologize in the name of the Military District Command and I hope the public will also speak to people in the service industry with respect," he said, as quoted by Kompas yesterday.
The Military Police is also questioning the attendant as well as one of her colleagues and a security guard. The attendant's father was reportedly a military officer as well, but he passed away some time ago.
Unfortunately, it is not that rare for Indonesians in positions of authority to abuse their power and assault those they think are beneath them.
In July of last year, a military doctor and the wife of a police general slapped airport security officers for what they said to be impolite manners while carrying out their jobs. The incidents prompted Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta Airport management to instruct their security officers to "smile more" to prevent themselves from being slapped.
James Massola & Karuni Rompies, Bogor The Australia-Indonesia free trade deal will be a "massive win-win" for both nations, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says, as it will bring the two nations closer together, deepen strategic ties and strengthen economic growth.
The long-awaited deal, which has been years in the making and was due to be signed last December, could deliver a big boost to Australian universities and health providers by making it easier for them to set up operations in Indonesia.
Aussie farmers are also expected to receive certainty in the form of annual quotas which will determine the volume of beef, live cattle, potatoes and other agricultural products that can be exported to Indonesia.
Speaking ahead of his first meeting with Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, just a week after taking over as prime minister from Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Morrison also reassured the leaders of Pacific island nations that they could "count on me" despite him missing the Pacific Island Forum on Nauru next week.
And at a time when China's rising economic influence and military presence in the Asia-Pacific is causing growing concern, Mr Morrison reassured Beijing that Australia's deepening strategic relationships with nations including Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam, were no cause for concern.
"This is a skills transfer and sharing [trade deal]. This is building up capabilities within economies. It is about using Australia's strengths to build in Indonesia but at the same time provide opportunities for Indonesia to tap into what is happening in Australia," he said.
"It is much more than a trade deal we are talking about today. It is not a transaction. This is a partnership."
"The economic relationship is where we are underdone and it is the economic relationship that needs more balance, more grunt, more investment, more engagement."
Mr Morrison said he was disappointed to miss the Pacific Island Forum China's growing influence in the Pacific has also become a concern for some nations in the region and that "in normal circumstances I would be there".
Relations with China under Mr Turnbull turned frosty as the government passed new foreign interference laws and took a harder line with Beijing. Mr Morrison emphasised the importance of Australia's "shared prosperity" with the economic power house.
Mr Morrison and Mr Joko were due to meet at the Presidential Palace in Bogor on Friday and announce the formal end of negotiations on the trade deal.
The pair are also expected to announce the relationship between the two nations will be upgraded from "comprehensive partnership" to "comprehensive and strategic partnership".
The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership declaration will "highlight five pillars": the economy, security cooperation including cyber security and combating terrorism, maritime cooperation, people-to-people contact and regional cooperation. Australia has recently reached similar agreements with Singapore and Vietnam.
Sofyan Wanandi, a senior official in the office of Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, told Fairfax Media the finalisation of the free trade agreement was "very good news for both countries. Negotiations took a very long time, it had gone [for] more than five years".
"We [Indonesia] decided to open our education sector to foreign investment. So Australian universities can invest in Indonesia but they have to work together with Indonesian universities."
"It means we can improve the quality of our human resources. Also, Australian hospitals can enter Indonesia but limited only to specific services [such] as in chronic diseases."
"Also we agreed on annual quota for live cattle, beef and other Australian agricultural product like potatoes."
It's understood the deal will allow, for the first time, Australian universities to set up campuses in Indonesia and retain a majority ownership of up to 67 per cent. At present, the limit on foreign ownership of universities is 40 per cent.
For Indonesia, one of the main benefits will be most goods exported to Australia will have tariffs removed, including in the textile and garment sector.
"We couldn't compete with Vietnam in the Australian market because Vietnam already has [an] FTA with Australia."
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said greater access for Australian universities to operate in Indonesia would deepen ties between the two countries.
"If Australian universities open campuses in Indonesia, this would make the possibility of an international, world-class education accessible to many more Indonesian citizens."
Lisa Martin Australian universities are expected to get the green light to start setting up campuses in Indonesia under a new free trade deal.
Scott Morrison will make his first overseas trip as prime minister to Jakarta at the end of the week to announce, with Indonesian president Joko Widodo, that negotiations, first launched in 2010 and reactivated in 2016, have been finalised.
The trade deal is expected to be officially signed at trade minister level in September or October. Australia is likely to ratify the deal by the end of the year but Indonesia's parliament is expected to approve it by mid next year.
A senior Indonesian government official said in the next three to five years he expects a dramatic uptick in the trade of goods and services while it could take longer for an investment bounce. "I think it's going to be a game changer," he told the Guardian Australia.
There is momentum building in Indonesia towards opening up its university sector to foreign institutions and Australian education providers are likely to get a head start under the deal.
"By inviting international universities to Indonesia they become much more accessible to a much larger number of Indonesians. We don't want an international education to only be available to the rich," he said.
He said other big winners included Australian luxury yacht builders as the archipelago pushes to expand its maritime tourism sector. Under the deal import duties on Australian yachts and boats will be eliminated.
The news should keep shipyards happy in former trade minister Steve Ciobo's Gold Coast seat. It will also be easier for Australian companies to provide training on boat maintenance and crewing.
Australia's cattle industry will also be pleased import quotas will be locked in for the first time. "That will give stability and certainty to the annual flow of cattle imports, which will make Indonesian consumers very happy," he said.
The cattle issue was one of the last sticking points to be settled, during the final round of negotiations in Melbourne earlier this month.
There has been much angst in Indonesia over cattle imports since the Gillard government in 2011 temporarily banned the trade in response to footage of cruelty being aired on the ABC. In 2015 Indonesia temporarily cut its import quota for Australian beef by 80%.
The deal will also increase the quota of working visas to Australia for Indonesians despite the fact the existing allocation is under used.
The government official doesn't expect any implementation problems from Indonesia's end. However, Lowy Institute south east Asia expert Aaron Connelly, believes there could be some push back from nationalist forces in some quarters of the country.
He said it's possible vested interests in Indonesia which control some of the relevant bureaucracies could thwart reform attempts.
"Indonesians have this tremendous sense of economic vulnerability and have always wanted to achieve self sufficiency in pretty much everything but especially food," Connelly said.
"It would not be surprising that even if there were an agreement there would be serious obstacles to the implementation."
On the sidelines of meetings it's likely Morrison will attend an Asian Games sport event in Jakarta with the president.
Morrison must build rapport with his Indonesian counterpart and hope that any irritation has subsided over boat turn back policies from his time as immigration minister.
Indonesia was ropeable when it was emerged Australian border protection vessels "unintentionally" breached Indonesian maritime boundaries during asylum seeker boat turnback operations in late 2013 early 2014.
Relations deteriorated further after Guardian Australia revealed that Australian intelligence agencies had attempted to listen in on the personal phone calls of the then Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife, senior ministers and confidants.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim has expressed hopes for Indonesia and Malaysia to further strengthen bilateral relations during his cordial meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at Bogor Palace on Thursday.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who accompanied Jokowi during the occasion, said Anwar's visit was a form of silaturahmi (friendly gathering) with the President after he became president of Malaysia's People's Justice Party (PKR) on Aug. 5.
In the closed-door meeting, during which they discussed various issues, Retno said that Anwar also conveyed regards from Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who expressed to Anwar his positive impression of the result of Mahathir's recent visit to Indonesia.
"Tun [Mahathir] also expressed [to Anwar] the commitment to strengthen relations with Indonesia," Retno told journalists on Thursday. "Pak Anwar Ibrahim even said [to Jokowi] that now was the right time for Indonesia and Malaysia to improve ties."
Jokowi once again raised the issue of the protection of Indonesian nationals living in Malaysia as well as the importance of the neighboring countries to fight together against the European Union's plan to restrict exports of crude palm oil.
Anwar was released from prison in May after Mahathir won a shock election over former prime minister Najib Razak.
When asked whether or not Anwar visited Jokowi on the latter's invitation, Retno said she had to check the details, however, she added that Anwar visited Indonesia from time to time and so his meeting with the President was usual.
Adinda Normala, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo may import 2 million tons of rice this year, falling short of fulfilling his 2014 presidential campaign promise of rice self-sufficiency.
Since 2015, Indonesia has imported 3.35 million tons of rice. This year the imports are going to be increased, as severe droughts are expected to disrupt harvests. A price spike in the country's staple food would not be beneficial to the president who is seeking reelection next year.
Last week, the Ministry of Trade issued a permit for the national procurement agency, Bulog, to import 1 million tons of medium quality rice for the second half of the year. The year's total rice imports would then become 2 million tons, the highest since 2011.
Said Abdullah, coordinator of the People's Coalition for Food Sovereignty (KRKP), a farmers' advocacy group, said droughts may continue until the end of the year, making it hard for the government's rice production target of 47 million tons to be achieved.
"Rice harvests dropped by at least 50 percent due to droughts, even there are regions that failed 100 percent, especially those far from rivers, lacking irrigation," Said told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday (27/08).
According to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), most of the country's rice-producing regions, especially in Java, will see no rains before October.
Bulog data shows in mid-August the agency's rice supplies were 2 million tons in its warehouses across the country. The amount, Said said, should be at least 3 million tons to be safe.
Nailul Huda, economist at the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef), said this year's imports are meant to secure Bulog's rice supplies during the 2019 election campaign.
"As harvests are between April and May, the beginning of next year is the most crucial time, because there is a risk of price fluctuations. Importing rice at that time would be [politically] suicidal. Therefore, the safest way is to issue import permits this year, with less political risk," Nailul said.
Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said the rice imports are meant to keep the inflation rate at 3.5 percent, in accordance with this year's state budget, not because of the upcoming election.
"We are not talking about the election, we are talking about inflation, the rising prices, so we cannot leave it unattended," Enggartiasto told reporters on Monday.
"We need to import... because we see there is a tendency for the prices to increase while the supplies decrease. We need to fill the stock," Enggartiasto said.
Jokowi has been importing rice since 2015, the highest imports so far were in 2016, with 1.28 million tons, up a 49 percent from a year earlier. The country's imports then decreased by 76 percent to only 305,275 tons last year.
According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Indonesians will consume 33.8 million tons of rice this year, compared with 30.65 million tons in 2017. Last year, 47 million tons were produced domestically.
Edhy Prabowo, a Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) lawmaker who sits at House of Representatives Commission IV, which oversees agriculture, has questioned the government's decision to import rice again, as to him rice supplies seem sufficient.
"I can't understand the logic of importing rice again. Programs that we provide in the agriculture sector are supposed to have fulfilled the country's rice needs for one year... Import is allowed only if [a commodity] is not available domestically," Edhy said.
Rice consumption in Indonesia is among the highest in the world, with the average citizen consuming 114 kilograms every year. In comparison, the average annual consumption of rice in Vietnam is 191 kilograms per person, in Thailand 147 kilograms, in India 78 kilograms and in China 75 kilograms, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2016.
Jakarta Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said on Monday that the government had reaffirmed its plan to import 2 million tons of rice this year to assure the availability of the commodity in the market.
He said the decision to import 2 million tons of rice was made during a coordination meeting among relevant ministries and the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) in April.
Meanwhile, the Monday coordination meeting was decided to talk Bulog into carrying out market penetration to assurance a balance between supply and demand.
"If the supply declines, we see a price increase trend. If the stock decreases, we have to add the stock," said Enggartiasto after the meeting as quoted by kontan.co.id.
According to Statistics Indonesia (BPS), Indonesia imported 844,164 tons of rice in 2014, 861,601 tons in 2015, 12 million tons in 2016 and 305,275 tons in 2017.
He said the release of more rice stock was to maintain the market price of the commodity below the ceiling price of Rp 9,450 (65 US cents) per kilogram in Java, Lampung and South Sumatra as well as Rp 10,250 per kg in Papua and Maluku.
According to food price website hargapangan.id, the rice price in many parts of the country has exceeded the ceiling prices. (bbn)
Jakarta State-owned electricity company PLN has announced losses of Rp 5.35 trillion (US$363 million) in the first half of 2018, mainly because of increasing costs, kontan.co.id reports.
In its financial report published by Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) on Wednesday, PLN says the cost burden of the company increased to Rp 142.42 trillion in the first half of 2018, up from Rp 130.25 trillion in the corresponding period of last year.
Specifically, the fuel cost increased to Rp 64.66 trillion in the first six months of 2018, up 16.63 percent year-on-year (yoy).
Meanwhile, the cost of procuring electricity from third parties rose 10.47 percent yoy to Rp 37.81 trillion, maintenance costs swelled 20.07 percent yoy to Rp 9.52 trillion and contraction costs increased 6.5 percent yoy to Rp 15.11 trillion.
The rupiah depreciation is one of the main reasons for the increase in costs.
On the other hand, PLN recorded 7.37 percent yoy growth in revenue from electricity sales to existing customers at Rp 127.16 trillion and 7.93 percent growth in revenue from newly connected customers at Rp 3.54 trillion. (bbn)
Jessica Jaganathan, Wilda Asmarini, Singapore/Jakarta Indonesia is pushing to nationalise more of its oil and gas assets as it tries to reduce imports and boost government revenue amid emerging market turbulence that has staggered Southeast Asia's biggest economy.
Since 2015, whenever product-sharing contracts with international companies expire, the government has increased state-owned Pertamina's stakes the related oil and gas fields.
The goal is to accelerate a four-year-old plan that aims to send domestic crude oil to Indonesian refineries for local use.
But experts say that is risky because it discourages investors and global energy companies who have expertise crucial to maintaining Indonesia's output.
"Getting rid of the international oil companies' involvement means Pertamina will be losing valuable technical and operational know-how," said Den Syahril, a senior oil analyst at consultancy FGE, adding that it could result in "lower productivity at its fields."
Oil and natural gas are two of Indonesia's biggest cash earners, but their contribution to government revenue has declined along with output, shrinking from more than 20 percent a decade ago to under 5 percent last year, according to government data.
President Joko Widodo, running for re-election in 2019, told supporters this month that he would "safeguard national resources" by nationalizing assets like the large Rokan and Mahakam oil blocks.
In 2021, Pertamina will take over the Rokan block, Indonesia's second-largest crude producing field, from current operator Chevron. It already took over Mahakam from France's Total and Japan's Inpex this year. Consultancy PwC says in its 2018 oil and gas investment guide "that crude oil production in Indonesia has been on a downward trend for the past decade" and that its oil industry has entered a "transitional phase, with a growing domestic need for gas for both consumers and industrial use."
Indonesia's crude oil output has been declining for decades, from a peak of more than 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in the 1970s and 1990s, to below 800,000 bpd now, according to industry data. Government oil and gas revenues have fallen too, from around 400 trillion rupiah ($22.60 billion) in 2010 to 135 trillion in 2017, according to data from SKKMigas. The situation does not appear likely to improve on its own.
Indonesia is on track to spend far less than planned on its 2018 oil and gas investments. In the first half of the year it spent only $3.9 billion, compared with its target of $14.2 billion, according to regulator SKKMigas. Just five years ago, the country was investing about $20 billion a year into the industry.
"The country's failure to attract new foreign investment in the upstream sector has seen licensing activity and development drilling fall to decade low levels," FGE's Syahril said.
Indonesia must act soon if it wants to turn around its declining output, which has already forced the country out of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Without significant spending increases, Rachel Chua of Moody's Investors Service said Indonesia has only 10 years of oil production left, warning that nationalising oil and gas fields would crimp foreign investment.
Pertamina has estimated that Rokan would require about $70 billion in investment over the 20-year life of its contract.
Other regional oil companies like Malaysia's state-owned Petronas or Thailand's PTT have successfully sought international partners for major projects.
In Indonesia, leases on a dozen oil and gas blocks will expire between 2021 and 2026, and 15 blocks expiring between 2017 and 2021 have already been given to Pertamina.
The country's deputy energy minister, Arcandra Tahar, told reporters in August that Rokan was awarded Pertamina was because the company made the best offer.
Tahar said Pertamina offered the biggest signing bonus, the highest government production revenue and lower discretion of his ministry on production split made it easier for the energy minister to change how revenue is divided up.
He said these factors would be considered in awarding future leases on expiring blocks.
Pertamina aims to increase production by focusing on undeveloped fields in Rokan, said Syamsu Alam, the company's former director of upstream. He was replaced on Wednesday by Dharmawan Samsu, previously the country head of oil major BPL. Samsu declined to comment.
"If it goes well, hopefully we can control the decline rate so that production after 2021 won't drop too much," Alam told Reuters. "Hopefully we can maintain it or even increase it."
Pertamina is poised to benefit regardless. Chua of Moody's said the addition of the Rokan block would increase the share of Indonesian oil Pertamina uses at its refineries, which have a combined capacity of 1 million bpd, to 40 percent from the current 35 percent.
At current costs for Brent crude LCOc1, that equates to savings of $30 million per day.
Shotaro Tani, Jakarta The Indonesian rupiah fell to its lowest mark against the U.S. dollar in 20 years as investors grow increasingly weary of holding emerging market assets after another plunge in the Argentine peso.
The currency hit 14,840 rupiah to the greenback on midnight Friday, its lowest against the dollar since July 1998 following the Asian financial crisis.
The central bank has intervened to prop up the currency. "Bank Indonesia's commitment to maintain economic stability is very strong, especially the stability of the rupiah exchange rate," said Perry Warjiyo, governor of Bank Indonesia, the country's central bank. "Therefore, we intensify or we increase... the volume of intervention in the forex market."
The latest sell-off was prompted by the plunge in the Argentine peso on Thursday, which fell to a record low against the dollar even as the country's central bank raised its key interest rate by 1500 basis points to 60%. The move stoked fresh fears of emerging market assets among international investors.
The Indonesian currency had been falling since the start of the year amid concerns over heightening trade tensions between the U.S. and China, as well as the financial crisis engulfing Turkey.
Friday's fall means the rupiah has dropped as much as 8.7% since the start of the year, despite Bank Indonesia raising its interest rate by a total of 125 basis points since May and burning through foreign currency reserves, which stood at $111.9 billion in July, down 10.5% compared to the end of January.
The governor stressed that the country's economic condition "is strong and resistant," and that the bank will "continue to be aware of what is happening in other countries," including Turkey and Argentina.
Indonesia, which was one of the so-called Fragile 5 countries during the Taper Tantrum in 2013, is prone to large sell-offs in times of market stress due to economic fundamentals. The nation's current-account deficit widened to $8 billion in the second quarter of this year the most in nearly four years and its trade deficit clocked in at a five-year high of $2 billion in July.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is eyeing a second term, is keen to keep the rupiah under control as a falling currency may translate into higher living costs, which could cost him April's presidential election next year.
Jakarta has sought to improve its trade position by introducing an array of policies. President Widodo has said publicly that he wants to boost tourism to bring in more foreign cash, while ordering increased use of locally produced palm-oil biodiesel fuels to wean the country away from imported fuels.
The government is also aiming to raise import tariffs on 900 consumer items to slow imports.
Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Jakarta President Joko Widodo has pledged to tackle Indonesia's widening current account deficit, which is seen to reach about US$25 billion (S$34 billion) this year, by chasing tourism dollars and increasing the use of local biodiesel to help reduce overall fuel imports, a statement posted on the Cabinet secretary website revealed.
Besides a net cash outflow and a dumping of bonds and stocks, a current account deficit is also affected by trade deficits, when the country's import of goods and services exceed exports.
The President, who is also known as Jokowi, met Indonesian tycoons on Tuesday (Aug 28) to discuss global economic uncertainties that are affecting the emerging markets, including Indonesia. He also shared with them some of the government's strategies in dealing with these risks.
Mr Joko stressed that there is tremendous uncertainty for the world economy.
"People were concerned about (the impacts from) the China-United States trade war, and now we have one more, the crisis in Turkey. We don't know what could be the next trigger to bring about even more uncertainties for the global economy," Mr Joko was cited as saying in the statement, which was released after his meeting with the business leaders.
Turkey's current financial crisis which has seen the lira fall close to 40 per cent against the US dollar has created jitters among global investors who shifted their investments away from the emerging markets, including Indonesia.
Indonesia, which has been relying on foreign investment inflows to fund its current account deficits, saw a net US$3.8 billion pulled out of bonds and stocks this year, according to Bloomberg figures.
And after recording a surplus for three years in a row, Indonesia posted a trade deficit of US$1.02 billion in the first half of 2018, official figures show.
The widening current account deficit has lead to a depreciation of the country's currency. Indonesia's rupiah has dropped more than 7 per cent this year against the US dollar.
This has prompted Bank of Indonesia the central bank to raise interest rates more than three times this year, pushing up the cost of housing loans as well as affecting consumer purchasing power.
This, analysts say, could hurt Mr Joko's popularity ahead of next year's presidential election, where he is seeking re-election.
Economists say although the crisis in Turkey bears a striking similarity to the collapse of Asian currencies in 1997, the emerging markets have evolved since the Asian Financial Crisis and their economies have become more insulated from the risk of contagion.
Mr Joko blamed long-time problems that he said were not seriously addressed by previous governments for the current account deficit, and cited the lack of a push to use biodiesel in the country as an example.
Indonesia is the world's largest palm oil producer and has recently issued a regulation to expand the use of 20 per cent palm oil-based blended biodiesel (B20) to all sectors. This will take effect on Saturday (Sept 1).
The government has also said it will raise the required biodiesel content to 30 per cent (B30) next year in the transportation sector, a year earlier than initially planned.
Such a move could save the state coffers as much as US$11 billion in oil imports, Mr Joko was cited as saying in the statement.
The statement also underlined Indonesia's increased focus on developing the tourism sector, with the government optimistic of achieving this year's target of attracting 17 million foreign visitors, up from 14 million in 2017.
"Thailand could get 34 million foreign visitors. Why can't we achieve at least the same? I think (going forward) we can do it," Mr Joko said.
Indonesia boasts a wide range of natural scenery, such as Lake Toba in Sumatra, but a lack of infrastructure spending had impeded the growth of tourism to the country. Lake Toba occupies the caldera of a large ancient volcano 900m above sea level.
As part of that infrastructure push, Mr Joko wants to build 10 new Balis, and attract more affluent travellers from China, which is on track to become the biggest tourist market for Indonesia.
Recent drives in upgrading smaller airports located close to tourist attractions, including one near Lake Toba, have helped Indonesia to be well-positioned to achieve its ambitious target to get 17 million foreign visitors this year and 20 million in 2019.
Jakarta Moody's investor service has estimated that the Indonesian government will likely narrow the fiscal deficit in the 2019 state budget, but that the strains on debt affordability will likely persist.
Last week, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced in the 2019 state budget bill that the government would seek to narrow the fiscal deficit to 1.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from the projected 2.1 percent in 2018.
"These targets indicate the government's continued commitment to fiscal discipline, which should support market confidence," a Moody's research note issued on Thursday read.
According to Moody's, the targeted moderation in the deficit to 1.8 percent for 2019 reflects a slight deceleration in revenue and spending growth to 12.6 percent and 10 percent yoy, respectively, compared to this year's projection of 14.2 percent yoy and 10.5 percent.
The 2019 targets were based on 5.3 percent yoy GDP growth, which was marginally more optimistic than Moody's estimate of 5.2 percent, the note said, adding that the targets may still be challenging to achieve, particularly when set against a track record of revenue underperformance and the absence of any major revenue reforms.
"Although the government is targeting an optimistic increase in revenue to 13.3 percent of GDP in 2019, revenue collection rates will remain the lowest among investment-grade sovereigns. Slow revenue improvements have weighed on debt affordability," Moody's said.
"Spending trends indicate a move away from the recent thrust on capital spending, and towards recurrent expenditure, particularly personnel, social and interest spending, which is a continuation of populist measures in the run-up to elections scheduled in April 2019." (bbn)
Jakarta The Taxation Directorate General will spy on people's activities through social media in trying to boost tax revenue, an official has said.
"Social media covers wide range of activities [...] We still need to prepare the infrastructure to support the plan," Taxation Directorate General communication and information technology transformation director Iwan Djuniardi said in Jakarta on Wednesday.
With the effort, the tax office expects that it will increase the basis data of taxpayers that currently is in the hands of the office, he said, adding that the monitoring activity was expected to improve taxpayers' obedience to fulfill their obligation to pay taxes.
He said with social media monitoring, the tax office would be able to record all data of taxpayers by using the social network analytics (Soneta) system.
The system is able to record taxpayers' networks such as share ownerships, business networks and family relationships, Iwan said.
He said through the analysis of the data collected through media monitoring, the tax office estimates the amount of income taxes (PPh) and value-added tax (VAT) that should be paid by a taxpayer.
Iwan said with Soneta, the tax office was also be able to monitor the relationships among the taxpayers. Through Instagram and Facebook, we can see a taxpayer's movement from one place to another and with whom they have relations, he said as reported by kontan.co.id. (bbn)
Jakarta The city administration has eliminated 10 programs in the revised 2018 budget through the general regional budget amendment policy (KUPA) and temporary regional budget priority and ceiling amendment (PPAS), with an eye to increasing the draft budget to Rp 83.2 trillion, an official has stated.
"We've cut 10 programs, with the greatest reduction in direct expenditures," acting Jakarta Planning and Development Agency (Bappeda) head Subagiyo said on Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
Among the axed programs are the Rp 1.3 trillion (US$90,561) low-cost apartment development project, the Rp 114 billion public facility improvement project for 15 regional public service agencies (BLUD) and the Rp 87 billion water system projects in eastern part of Jakarta.
Despite the cuts, however, the KUPA-PPAS amendments have increased the revised city budget by Rp 6 trillion from the 2018 city budget that was approved last year. "The city budget has increased from Rp 77.1 trillion to Rp 83.2 trillion in the revised budget," Jakarta secretary Saefullah was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the city's income target has decreased to Rp 65.8 trillion in the revised budget from the initial target of Rp 66 trillion in the original budget. (stu)
Thor Kerr and Theo Kartawijaya On August 21 2009 an offshore oil well in the Timor Sea blew up. This caused at least 40 millions litres of crude oil to spill into the ocean between Indonesia and Australia.
The leak from the Montara wellhead platform damaged the environment and the health and livelihoods of fishers and seaweed farmers of West Timor, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. Nine years after the disaster, the coastal community affected by the oil spill has yet to be compensated.
The oil spill is considered one of Australia's worst oil disasters. Despite this, the mitigation response did not receive the levels of publicity of other offshore oil disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
I study media and governmental responses to environmental threats affecting coastal communities on the eastern rim of the Indian Ocean. My student (who is co-author of this piece) and I examined online articles between 2006 and 2017 by The West Australian, The Australian and The Australian Financial Review and Indonesian news outlets Pos Kupang, Kompas and Bisnis Indonesia. We found significant gaps in coverage of the unfolding disaster and subsequent legal action.
The media we surveyed represented regional, national and business newspapers from Australia and Indonesia. We chose media that were not owned by the state but nonetheless shaped the knowledge of the communities they addressed.
We found that coverage of the Montara oil spill, the mitigation response and subsequent lawsuits has been sporadic, inconsistent and relatively insubstantial.
At the time of Montara oil spill, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) sprayed 184,000 litres of chemicals to break down the oil into smaller droplets so it could mix with water faster and be less visible. But these dispersants are known to increase the toxicity of the oil for some marine organisms.
The use of toxic dispersant by an Australian government agency potentially played a part in worsening victims' suffering. But the Australian media we surveyed wrote little about it.
The West Australian, The Australian and The Australian Financial Review stopped reporting on the safety and effectiveness of the dispersants following their early reports on the oil spill in August and September 2009. This was despite the issue being raised in the Australian Parliament.
They also did not pay much attention to the class-action lawsuit launched by Indonesian seaweed farmers against the Thai-owned oil company PTTEP, which owned the platform. More than 15,000 seaweed farmers from East Nusa Tenggara launched the lawsuit, asking for potentially more than A$200 million.
In contrast, a study of media coverage of the Deepwater Horizon spill found this coverage was big enough to have affected Barack Obama's image as president.
The impact of the lack of proper coverage of the Montara oil spill is significant.
The Australian public has been left in the dark about the role Australian government agencies played in the Montara disaster. According to a report by the Montara Commission of Inquiry, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority (NOPSA) now National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) and the Northern Territory's Resources Department failed in their regulatory duties to prevent a major accident from happening.
The public also lacked understanding of how poorly AMSA handled the spill. The AMSA sprayed poisonous dispersants without proper assessment and planning. The three Australian media early in the spill praised AMSA for its quick actions, but did not mention the harmful effect of dispersants on people in Indonesia.
Because Australian media did not provide sufficient coverage, the Australian public have little knowledge of how the coastal communities in West Timor lost their livelihoods. Due to the oil spill, the farmers can no longer plant or harvest seaweeds. A picture taken on June 13 2014 of West Timor woman Maria Liman Mulik. She holds an image of her seaweed farmer husband Philipus who died suddenly in April 2014. He was one of many West Timorese who have suffered skin complaints and illness in the years since the Montara oil spill. AAP Image/Gabrielle Dunlevy
The spill has also affected the health of communities. According to a report by the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA), the local people suffered from rashes, pus-filled cysts and inexplicable bruising following exposure to the ocean. The report also mentioned food poisoning in the spill's aftermath.
The lack of substantive coverage has enabled the Australian government to blame the entire disaster on PTTEP, through the narratives presented to and reported by the Australian media that we studied.
The absence of media coverage of environmental disasters that involve multiple countries raises the need for media collaboration between countries.
The lack of coverage of the Montara oil disaster has indicated a lack of connection between locally based sources and overseas media. The problem comes from the limited ability of sources to reach and gain the trust of journalists from foreign media.
We can see this in the way Australian and Indonesian media choose and quote their sources. Indonesian articles would feature a spokesperson from a local NGO or an Indonesian government official. Australian media featured Australia's resources and environment ministers, the oil company spokesperson and Australian politicians.
Most sources in Montara oil spill reports were found in press conferences or releases. This approach was found in both Australian and Indonesian news organisations. There has been no Indonesian media reporting of the charges against PTTEP in the Northern Territory court.
In the event of an environmental disaster involving multiple countries what can people do to make sure that people overseas understand the conditions they face?
First, people can try to reach out to journalists and ensure their statements are made digitally available to news organisations. They should also consider engaging locally based allied organisations or public relations professionals, or investing in a temporary physical presence near the targeted news organisations.
While their claims might still not meet media organisations' standards and ethical requirements, it is important to make journalists aware of relevant situations in other countries.
Once their statements reach an overseas public, the latter will have a better understanding of the conditions facing the affected communities. This knowledge will enable the public to demand better environmental emergency responses and safer industrial practices from their governments and corporate sectors.
Elaine Pearson Prime Minister Scott Morrison is visiting Indonesia this week on his first international trip as Australia's leader. The two governments will announce a new trade deal and Australia is keen to show this as a deepening of ties between the two nations.
But in his meetings with Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and other senior officials, Morrison should also raise a disturbing trend: the repression of religious minorities in predominantly Sunni Muslim Indonesia.
Last week, an Indonesian court in Sumatra convicted a Buddhist woman of blasphemy and sentenced her to 18 months in prison because she complained about the loudspeaker volume of a neighborhood mosque.
That means at least 22 people have been prosecuted under the blasphemy law since Jokowi took office in 2014. Former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Purnama, a Christian, is the most high-profile victim of this law, and remains in a Jakarta prison, sentenced to two years behind bars because of a public reference he made to a Quranic verse.
Indonesia's 1945 constitution explicitly guarantees freedom of religion, as does the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Indonesia is a party. However, the Indonesian government has long enacted, and in recent years strengthened, legislation and regulations that have subjected minority religions to official discrimination. This has made minority groups extremely vulnerable to members of the majority community who take the law into their own hands.
United Nations human rights experts, and groups such as the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, have criticised the discriminatory use of the blasphemy law. But instead of repealing the law, Indonesia's Ministry of Religious Affairs is seeking to reinforce and expand its scope through a so-called "Religious Rights Protection Bill". The misnamed bill is nothing less than a repackaging of highly toxic regulations against religious minorities in Indonesia. It enshrines the abusive blasphemy law and decrees that restrict religious minorities seeking to construct houses of worship.
Indonesia's Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) also reports that there are hundreds of discriminatory national and local regulations targeting women. They include local laws compelling women and girls to don the hijab (headscarf) in schools, government offices, and public spaces.
School authorities are pressuring Christian schoolgirls to wear the hijab as part of their school uniform in violation of protections on freedom of religion. In July, Kompas newspaper reported that a new student in a junior high school in East Java cancelled her enrollment after she was asked to sign a document declaring that she's willing to wear the hijab as part of her school uniform despite her Catholic faith. And on August 25, Independensi newspaper wrote about a public high school in Sumatra that forces Christian female students to wear the hijab.
Jokowi has failed to confront increasing intolerance that has led to discrimination and violence. Domestic human rights activists criticised him for his recent choice for his vice presidential running mate, Ma'ruf Amin, a conservative cleric who has played a pivotal role in fuelling worsening discrimination against religious and gender minorities.
And emboldened Islamists are no longer just attacking religious minorities; other communities are increasingly at risk, such as LGBT people who have faced invasive raids by Islamist vigilantes and police.
As prime minister, Morrison has repeated the Australian government's oft-cited rhetoric about the importance of "protecting the international rules-based order". Here is a concrete case where Morrison can put those principles into action.
Asher Hirsch This week, home affairs minister Peter Dutton again reiterated the false claim that "there are 14,000 people in Indonesia waiting to get on to boats now".
I've just returned from a research trip in Indonesia, where I spoke to many refugees. Such a claim is not only disingenuous, it also highlights the double standards of Australia's approach to refugee protection in the region.
Refugees in Indonesia don't want to get on boats they will wait patiently for a fair resettlement process. However, the Australian government is continuously undermining any such process and making life much harder for refugees who are waiting for a solution.
As refugees in Indonesia told Fairfax on Sunday: "If there was a proper humanitarian program, no one would be willing to go by boat." The problem is that resettlement from Indonesia is only a tiny number, and getting smaller.
In 2014, then minister for immigration Scott Morrison announced that no refugees who registered with UNHCR in Indonesia after July 2014 would be resettled in Australia. Globally, resettlement numbers have drastically decreased, with US president Donald Trump considering to decimate the US's refugee resettlement program down to less than 25,000, from Barack Obama's 110,000 cap.
This has created an almost unattainable hope. While there are more than 14,000 refugees and people seeking asylum in Indonesia, only a few hundred are resettled to another country. UNHCR had to tell refugees in Indonesia the sobering fact that most will never be resettled.
Dutton's claim also runs counter to his department's recent policy decisions in Indonesia.
In March 2018, the Australian government announced it would cut funding to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Indonesia. This funding is used to provide basic assistance for refugees and people seeking asylum in Indonesia while they wait for resettlement or another durable solution. This support includes food, medical care and some other social supports.
In order to receive this support, refugees need to be detained by Indonesian authorities, after which they are referred to IOM to provide "migrant care management". Some of this care is provided to refugees still in detention, while others are assisted to live in community houses throughout the archipelago.
However, from March 2018, no new referrals will be helped by IOM, leaving over 4,000 refugees (and any new arrivals) without any support in Indonesia.
Refugees have been stranded in Indonesia for years, without the right to work and with very limited access to any financial or social support. While some may have arrived in Indonesia with their life savings, money is running out. Others are relying on the generous support of individuals and small nongovernment organisations (many of which are run by refugees themselves).
Out of desperation, hundreds of refugees have been camped outside Kalideres detention centre in Jakarta, begging to be detained in order to receive basic food and shelter. Between 2014 and 2017, more than 4,000 refugees have reported themselves to detention centres, leading to overcrowding in what were already inhumane conditions.
Dutton and other Australian politicians talk a lot about their wish to undermine "the people smugglers' business model". This business model is based on the desperation felt by refugees who are seeking protection and have no safe and viable options available to them.
If refugees in Indonesia have access to basic support, if they are allowed to work and have basic rights, and if they get access to a fair and timely resettlement process or other viable long-term options, they won't be interested in anything people smugglers are trying to sell.
If Dutton is indeed concerned about the 14,000 refugees in Indonesia, he will reverse his department's decision to cut support to refugees in Indonesia and work with Indonesia and other countries in the region to address the lack of rights for refugees stranded on the doorstep of Australia.
The Supreme Court dealt a major blow to access to justice in late May when it ruled that paralegals are no longer permitted to provide direct legal assistance in Indonesian courts. The Court ruled in favour of a challenge to Articles 11 and 12 of Ministerial Regulation 1 of 2018 on Paralegals and Legal Aid Providers, deciding that the articles conflicted with Law 18 of 2003 on Advocates.
The challenge was filed by 18 advocates who said they were unfairly disadvantaged by the role of paralegals in providing litigational and non-litigational legal aid. They believed that Articles 11 and 12 of the regulation allowed paralegals to perform the same tasks as advocates. The result was a major disappointment for legal aid providers, who saw paralegals as a solution to the uneven distribution of legal services across the country, and the difficulties many have in accessing them.
The Supreme Court's decision could be justified if Indonesian advocates fulfilled their commitment to providing pro bono legal assistance to underrepresented communities and individuals. The 2003 Law on Advocates states that Indonesian lawyers have a responsibility to provide pro bono legal aid. But the law is not enforced and there is no data on whether advocates have met their responsibilities to provide pro bono service. If advocates remain relatively uninterested in providing pro bono legal aid, access to justice will continue to be denied to many poor Indonesians.
Indonesia recently rolled out a national state-funded legal aid program for the poor, yet it is still struggling to meet the needs of the poor. Legal aid organisations are understaffed and the National Law Development Agency (BPHN), which is tasked with distributing funds to legal aid providers, is itself underfunded.
There are 405 legal aid organisations spread across 127 districts and municipalities. They attempt to provide legal aid services to more than 28 million poor Indonesians. This covers just a fraction of the need for legal services across the country. There are 516 districts and municipalities in Indonesia, meaning that there are 389 districts and municipalities without a single legal aid organisation.
Providing paralegals with the authority to offer litigational and non-litigational legal aid was intended to respond to this inequity in supply. The Supreme Court's decision will only harm poor Indonesians by further limiting access to legal services.
Having made this decision, the Supreme Court now has a responsibility to work with advocates to ensure that poor Indonesians are not denied legal aid. It can do this in two ways. First, it should set up a mechanism to verify whether advocates have met their pro bono responsibilities. Second, there must be a way to ensure poor people have access to legal assistance, for example, by forcing advocates to accept any legitimate request for legal aid, even if they have already met their pro bono commitments as required by law.
Hopefully advocates will respond to this development sensibly. If they don't want paralegals to be doing what they regard as their job, then they must be willing to take on additional pro bono responsibilities. If advocates are willing to take on any pro bono legal aid request they receive, then maybe paralegals will not be needed in court. But if they are not willing to do so, then the Supreme Court has made a huge mistake.
In a strict legal sense, it is possible to understand that the Supreme Court felt that the regulation on paralegals resulted in confused or overlapping authorities between paralegals and advocates. For this reason, the Supreme Court's decision should be respected.
But this does not mean that the door should be closed on the provision of litigational and non-litigational legal aid by paralegals. The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights should be pushed to revise the ministerial regulation to improve clarity, or, if necessary, the 2003 Law on Advocates could be challenged in the Constitutional Court. By allowing only professional advocates to provide legal aid, the 2003 Law on Advocates could realistically be viewed as restricting Indonesian citizens' constitutional right to equal treatment before the law.
The role of advocates in providing legal aid is guaranteed by law. But this is not a reason to restrict non-lawyers from offering legal aid to poor Indonesians. Access to justice is a right that should not be limited under any circumstances.
The only valid reason to restrict a person from offering legal aid is lack of knowledge. If a person understands legal procedural rules and regulations, he or she should be able to provide legal aid. The only real difference between paralegals and advocates in this sense is educational background. In fact, there is often no guarantee that an advocate will provide better legal assistance than a paralegal.
Meanwhile, in the courtroom, whether legal assistance is provided by a registered advocate or not will not have a major impact on the outcome of a case. The most influential factor is the quality of the argumentation and the extent to which the legal representative is able to persuade the panel of judges.
Paralegals should not be seen as a threat, rather they should be recognised as complementing and strengthening the formal profession. Instead of taking over the role of advocates, they can, in fact, spur advocates to increase the quality of the service they provide. Surely no advocate would want to be shown up by a paralegal?
Paralegals are a vital part of Indonesia's legal system. The government needs to move quickly to make sure they do not disappear.