Len Garae "Let me assure the world that I can see the light at the end of the dark tunnel, that now the whole world knows more about West Papua than ever before so this is sure confidence for me which reflects the faith of the population of Vanuatu.
"Indonesia can say whatever it wants to say but I am confident to say that West Papua is getting closer and closer and closer to its destiny for our Great God to give them their birthright and He is choosing us one by one to proclaim it to the world".
This is the first interview with the President of the Civil Society Organisations, Presbyterian Church Pastor Allan Nafuki, that support the longstanding struggle for freedom of the Melanesian people of West Papua.
"My first message is that Vanuatu's support for West Papua has not changed; chiefs, grandparents, fathers, mothers, young people and children's support have not changed. Our mandate is to help West Papua to achieve self-determination and freedom", he says.
"It is the mandate of our Government to continue to lobby with other friendly countries to support the struggle of the people of West Papua to gain their freedom.
"This is to secure enough support by other countries to help us to put the demand of West Papua before the Committee of 24. We have so far 70 countries round the world that has aligned with Vanuatu to support our stand towards West Papua, and we need 30 more.
"In the Pacific we have small countries including Tuvalu, Micronesia and Tonga even though our brothers of Fiji, PNG do not support us and Solomons are 50-50 and so we have seven or eight countries in the Pacific that support our stand plus some Caribbean and African countries".
Asked if the 70 countries are members of the UN, Pastor Nafuki says these are the countries that recognise and support the West Papua Issue.
"We are lobbying for 30 more to arrive at the required 100 countries in order to push the West Papua issue to another level.
"We thank God for our people including MPs Johnny Koanapo and Ralph Regenvanu and civil society organization of which I am Chairman.
"With only 30 more countries to join the list, I am confident of a light at the end of the tunnel that by 2019, we will have enough numbers to push West Papua through the Committee of 24", he says.
"The Vanuatu Government is also committed to making sure that 100 countries will be supporting West Papua in the not too distant future".
Lobbying is now in progress with the 24 member countries of the Committee to support the West Papua Issue. "When Vanuatu raised the West Papua Issue at the UN, thousands of West Papuans marched in support of what Vanuatu was doing", he said.
An emergency meeting was held at the West Papua House at four o'clock yesterday afternoon in Port Vila for Vanuatu Free West Papua Association to be briefed on the latest situation on West Papua.
Asked to comment on the Indonesian representative's address at the UN, the Chairman said there was nothing new in it only the same repetition since day one except Indonesia's tightening of its security in the bush.
However in the same way the West Papua Liberation Army has also tightened its security dividing the men and women and children into groups to move quickly.
"For security reasons, only Indonesia's side releases information while West Papua remains silent but we and United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) know what is happening in West Papua", he says.
Our appeal to West Papuans is to remain vigilant to make sure that different factions within West Papua must always stand united to make sure that individual factions do not break the solidarity of the people of West Papua.
"Let us all stand together to go forward in unity to achieve the goal through our prayers for God to continue to bless the people of West Papua. This is our faith and hope in Vanuatu for the people of West Papua", he concludes.
The commander of the West Papua Liberation Army remains at large in the mountains of Puncak Jaya and is reportedly being pursued by Indonesia's military.
Human rights advocates in Papua province said seven people were killed last week by Indonesian security forces hunting down the commander, Goliat Tabuni, and his men.
Such operations have intensified this year after the Liberation Army declared war on the Indonesian state in January.
An Australia-based spokesman for the Liberation Army-associated Free West Papua Movement, Akouboo Amatus Douw, said after last week's surprise attack at Tabuni's stronghold in Tingginambut, Commander Tabuni fled into the bush.
"At the moment he is still in the bush, and also about thousands civilians also fled to the bush. So we don't know how many people been killed by Indonesian military forces, because it's very far and very remote area," he said.
The latest reports indicated that Indonesian forces were still in the Tinginambut area, attacking suspected Liberation Army members, which Mr Douw said was causing more displacement of villagers not linked to the conflict.
"We believe that because of the civilians, with mum and babies and kids also together with the group, it means it's a real emergency situation in terms of how they can get food or water."
Victor Mambor, Jayapura A human rights worker from the Kingmi Church reported seven people died in a gunfire between a joint Indonesian force of the Law Enforcement Task Force (Satgas Gakkum) with a group of Free Papua Liberation Army (TPN)/OPM) led by Goliat Tabuni in Puncak Jaya District, Papua on Monday morning (1/10/2018).
"Five people killed are civilians, including two children and a pregnant woman. Meanwhile, the other two are TPN/OPM members," he explained by phone on Saturday (6/10/2018).
Furthermore, he said from the information he received from Tingginambut confirmed that these seven dead victims found around the villagers' houses. So apparently more victims might be found in the woods as many villagers escaped to the forest during the shooting.
Meanwhile, the Military Information Chief of XVII Cenderawasih Colonel Inf. Muhammad Aidi in the press release confirmed the gunfire in Tingginambut sub-district really happened.
"At around 6:45 am of Papua time, the military task force of 20 soldiers led by the First Lieutenant Inf. Angga conducted a patrol when they saw the Morning Star flag fluttering on the hill in Gubuleme village of Tingginambut sub-district. They then found out that the location was the headquarters of the insurgent group under Golliat Tabuni," said the colonel.
He further said the military warned the group to surrender, but instead they shot a soldier. Consequently, the 30 minutes gunfire between the army and insurgents unavoidably occurred.
Being oppressed, he said the insurgent group finally retreated behind the hill and ran out to the forest, whereas the soldiers took control on the insurgents' headquarters. An insurgent was down at the location.
"There were also some evidences found, namely a British-made Lee Enfield long barrel, two digital cameras, a number of TPN/OPM documents, a revolver fire gun, dozens of various caliber ammunition, an air rifle, two cellphones, a series of automatic rifle ammunition, two laptops, and the Morning Star flag, "he said.
Jakarta Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno election campaign team spokesperson Dahnil Anzhar Simanjuntak has confirmed that cases of crimes against humanity such has human rights violations which were not resolved under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration will be fully resolved if Prabowo and Sandiaga win the 2019 presidential election.
Simanjuntak said that Prabowo and Sandiaga are committed to resolving stalled human rights cases, in particular the acid attack against Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan, which after a year has still not been solved.
"Of course [they are] (committed) to resolving all human rights cases, particularly in relation to Novel Baswedan", said Simanjuntak by phone on Monday October 15.
Simanjuntak said all crimes against humanity that have taken place since Widodo has been in power will be resolved without favouritism, whether they are related to criminalisation or cases which have just been forgotten.
Part of this, he said, would be ensuring that the national police are able to work optimally and as professionally as possible in pursuing their duties. "The police must work professionally. Without internal conflicts of interest within the institution", he said.
Not only that, Simanjuntak said that Prabowo and Sandiaga will form a Humanitarian Cases Resolution Team (Tim Penyelesaian Kasus Kemanusiaan, TPKM) to resolve cases which took place while the Widodo regime was in power.
Despite this however, he did not provide specific details about exactly who, and which parties, would be part of the TPKM if Prabowo is elected as president. "We will utilise a TPKM, including in resolving the Novel Baswedan case", he said. (osc)
Dyaning Pangestika, Jakarta Indonesia should follow in Malaysia's footsteps in abolishing the death penalty, a human rights group has said.
Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid said an initiative to abolish the death penalty could come from the House of Representatives.
"In Malaysia, the initiative comes from the government. In Indonesia, it could come from the House, as the initiator of the abolition of the death penalty for all crimes," he said, adding that such a move would be supported by the global community.
Usman said he appreciated a statement made by Charles Honoris, a member of the House's foreign affairs and defense commission who suggested that Indonesia learn from Malaysia.
"We recommend that the House communicate with the Malaysian parliament as soon as possible to process the proposal of a death sentence abolition" Usman said.
Previously, Malaysia's cabinet agreed to abolish the death penalty, with more than 1,200 people on death row set to win a reprieve following a groundswell of opposition to capital punishment, AFP reported.
Capital punishment in Malaysia is currently mandatory for murder, kidnapping, possession of firearms and drug trafficking, among other crimes, and is carried out by hanging a legacy of British colonial rule.
Malaysia's communications and multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo confirmed that the cabinet had resolved to end the death penalty. "I hope the law will be amended soon," he said as quoted by AFP.
Dyaning Pangestika, Jakarta The Dutch government has appealed a court decision that holds it liable for abuse and torture against an Indonesian man while he was held captive by the Dutch army in 1947.
Yaseman testified before a district court in The Hague, the Netherlands, through Skype in July 2017, saying that he was abused while in detention and during questioning by the Dutch army more than 70 years ago.
"On July 18 this year, the court in The Hague stated as proven that Dutch soldiers smashed the skull of the captured Yaseman with a stick in 1947 and put out a cigarette on his head," the Committee of Dutch Honor Debts (KUKB), which is providing legal advocacy for Yaseman, said in a statement on Thursday.
The ruling required that the state pay Yaseman's relatives 5,000 euros (US$5,787), it added. Yaseman himself did not get a chance to hear the ruling as he died shortly after giving his testimony. He was 89.
KUKB chairman Jeffry Pondaag lamented the Dutch government's move to appeal the ruling. "Beyond a doubt, this is a violation of human rights of the first order," he said in the statement.
Yaseman's lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld echoed Jeffry's sentiment, saying, "It is a known fact that the Netherlands engaged in large-scale torture during the independence war. Of all the victims, only one has registered with the court, and that is Mr. Yaseman. It is a shame that the state will not take responsibility, even for this one case."
Yaseman was arrested by the Royal Dutch Indies army in 1947 when he was 18 years old on suspicion of being an Indonesian independence fighter. During his 13 months of captivity, Yaseman said he was tortured in a variety of ways, including waterboarding and electrocution.
Karina M. Tehusijarana and Nedi Putra AW, Malang A history seminar scheduled for Oct. 24 at Malang State University (UM) in Malang, East Java has been canceled after a discussion with the Malang Military Command, according to a letter from the university's history department.
The seminar was themed "Historical Change and Continuity in a Scientific and Learning Perspective" and was set to have four speakers, including Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) historian Asvi Warman Adam.
Asvi is known for his research into the 1965 tragedy, in which hundreds of thousands of alleged communist sympathizers were killed after an attempted coup allegedly masterminded by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
He also testified at the International People's Tribunal (IPT) on 1965 crimes against humanity in Indonesia that was held in The Hague, Netherlands in 2015.
The letter, dated Oct. 10 and signed by history department head Ari Sapto and the seminar's committee head, Reza Hudiyanto, was vague about the reasons for the cancellation.
It said that "a misunderstanding arose among the public and spread on social media, from certain groups, which has attracted the attention of security/intelligence forces in Malang." It went on to say that the university had "discussed and negotiated" the matter with the military command in Malang and decided to "postpone [the seminar] indefinitely." The Indonesian Military (TNI) has a history of impeding scholarly inquiry into its past; last year, the TNI reportedly issued a policy temporarily banning foreign nationals from entering Indonesia's main military museum, the Satriamandala Museum, without permission from the military's headquarters.
Malang Military Command Post (Korem) commander Maj. Prasetya HK, however, denied the military command had told the university to cancel the seminar.
"There was no prohibition from Korem 083/Baladhika Jaya or Kodim [military command] 0833/Baladhika Jaya, because the cancellation or the postponement, was purely on the initiative of the [seminar] committee itself," Prasetya said on Thursday. "We have never even received a formal announcement about the planned seminar."
He added that the command had no authority to either prohibit or allow an event to occur. Ari confirmed the university had postponed the event after an internal meeting of the faculty board.
He said the university was worried about a "misunderstanding" arising among groups that considered the seminar a leftist event. "Because of that, we decided to postpone the seminar so those groups do not take advantage of it," he said.
Asvi, meanwhile, said he had received the letter via email on Wednesday and was surprised by the cancellation and the reasoning for it.
"I found it strange because the reason was comments on social media and concerns from the military command," he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday, adding that his impression from the letter was that there might be a demonstration if the seminar was to go on as planned.
"I don't understand what they would want to demonstrate against because the seminar is clearly scientific and is about the development of the study of history in Indonesia," he said. "And in any case usually public safety issues are handled by the police and not by the military."
He added that he still had not decided what material he would have presented at the seminar, saying that there were many topics he could have chosen from, including National Heroes Day.
"One of the subthemes is how controversial historical topics are taught, but there are many controversial topics in Indonesian history," he said. "I think the cancellation shows excessive fear and self-censorship from the university. As an academic institution, it should feel free to hold a scientific seminar."
He also said that he had been unable to contact any UM history department officials since he received the email.
Jakarta Former Army Strategic Reserves Command (Green Berets) Chief of Staff retired Major General Kivlan Zen discussion in Jakarta yesterday to made veiled criticisms of the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo over last year's banning of the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI).
Zen believes that the HTI is not aiming to replace Pancasila with an Islamic caliphate as Indonesia's stated ideology. According to Zen, the HTI movement is simply endeavoring to apply the guidelines of Almighty God in everyday life.
"In the HTI's way of thinking, their way of thinking is to apply Allah's guidelines in daily life. There's no need to be afraid", said Zen during a discussion titled "Differentiating the Political Agenda of Communism and the Caliphate in the 2019 Presidential Elections" in Jakarta on Saturday October 13.
Zen then compared the HTI with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), expressing the view that the PKI clearly pushed its ideology on society, namely communism in Indonesia.
Without citing any data, Zen said that the PKI slaughtered Islamic religious leaders and religious students who did not agree with the communist ideology. "So don't be afraid of the HTI, communism is more dangerous", he claimed.
During the same discussion, the head of the Ansor Youth Movement's [GP Ansor, the youth wing of Islamic mass organisation Nahdlatul Ulama] Strategic Relations and Study department, Mohammad Nuruzzaman, refuted Zen's claims.
The author of the book "Hizbut Tahrir's Dark Record" (Catatan Hitam Hizbut Tahrir) gave the example of the HT's actions in the Middle East such as military coup attempts in Iraq, Syria and Jordan.
Nuruzzaman said that Hizbut Tahrir is endeavoring to replace the democratic systems which they consider to be the path of non-believers (thagut) or the path of Satan. "We in GP Ansor are of the view that if they are ignored, the HTI could carry out a coup d'etat in Indonesia", he said.
Last year the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights (Menkumham) issued a decree withdrawing the legal status of the HTI. In response the HTI submitted an appeal with the State Administrative Court (PTUN). On May 7 this year however, the PTUN found that the Menkumham's decree was in accordance with prevailing procedures and regulations.
A second appeal by the HTI was also rejected by the High Court, following which HTI spokesperson Ismail Yusanto stated that they would submit an appeal with the Supreme Court (MA). Yusanto said that the appeal is part of their fight against the injustice that has befallen the HTI.
"God willing we will appeal", said Yusanto in an SMS message on Wednesday September 26 after CNN Indonesia sought confirmation on the appeal. (dhf/kid)
Jakarta Former Army Strategic Reserves Command (Green Berets) Chief of Staff retired Major General Kivlan Zen says that three of the political parties supporting incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo are cooperating with China to foster communist teachings.
Zen said that there is cooperation in the caderisation of communist ideas which being forged with the Chinese Communist Party by the ruling Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the National Democrat Party (NasDem) and the Golkar Party.
"The PDI-P has signed a caderisation cooperation [agreement], NasDem has also joined with the Chinese Communist Party to carry out caderisation", said Zen at a discussion titled "Differentiating the Political Agenda of Communism and the Caliphate in the 2019 Presidential Elections" in Jakarta on Saturday October 13.
"Golkar also joined in after [former chairperson Setya Novanto] went to jail [after being convicted on corruption charges]. Together they have signed a caderisation [agreement] with China. How could a state [based on the ideology of] Pancasila cooperate with a communist country", continued Zen.
I addition to this, Zen also accused Widodo of getting an injection of support in the 2019 presidential elections from a group which he referred to as the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
Without showing any concrete evidence, he related how this group, which he referred to as the PKI, visited Widodo during the 2014 presidential election campaign five years ago.
At the time the group was prepared to support him by providing 15 million votes for Widodo. Zen said this support was provided on the condition that Widodo represented the state in issuing an official apology to the PKI.
"I read the draft of the 2015 RAPBN [proposed state budget] speech, after being inaugurated on October 20, 2014, he wanted to include it [in the speech], we obtained the concept (the draft speech), [it included] an official apology and providing compensation [to the PKI]", claimed Zen.
He said that the apology was to be included in the final part of the speech although in the end this section was not read out by Widodo. "Fortunately Jokowi didn't want to, if he'd wanted to, it would have been all over", he said.
This is not the first time Zen has made such accusations. On March 6 he claimed that the PDI-P is accommodating former members of the PKI. And, on several occasions Zen has made a noise about the revival of the PKI [see original article for info graphic on this].
Responding to these accusations the Widodo camp says it will not remain silent. Widodo's national election campaign team spokesperson Mohamad Guntur Romli said that they will take legal action against people who spread hoaxes about communism, Widodo and his supporters.
Romli said that firm action will be taken against hoaxes claiming Widodo is part of the PKI. "Of course [we will take] legal measures, whoever commits defamation, spreads hoaxes, links Pak [Mr] Jokowi with the PKI, they will have to face the law", said Romli.
Chaerul Umam, Jakarta Political observer Boni Hargens says that the current discourse in Indonesia about the revival of communist ideas should stop and be left in the past.
Conversely, Hargens said that the real threat at the moment is from the hard-line Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) and the domestic terrorist group Jamaah Anshor Daulah (JAD).
"The concrete [threat of] JAD is real, they are a terrorist group. What is also real is the HTI which although it has been banned as an organisations, as a grouping of people the HTI can't be disbanded, as an ideology it can't be disbanded, meaning that they can still threaten our system [in] their [effort] to create an Islamic caliphate", said Hargens at a discussion titled "Differentiating the Political Agenda of Communism and the Caliphate in the 2019 Presidential Elections", at the Bumbu Desa restaurant in Cikini, Central Jakarta, on Saturday October 13.
Hargens suspects there are rogue elements which are intentionally blowing up the issue of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and linking it with the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
The evidence for this, he said, can be seen from looking at the 10-year administration of Widodo's predecessor president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), during which the issue of the PKI's revival hardly ever came up.
"Although there was some it didn't come up all the time like today. Whey after Jokowi became president did this discourse suddenly emerge as if the PKI is a real threat", he said in conclusion.
Andreas Harsono Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has once again evoked the dangerous and utterly fictitious threat of communism for apparent political purposes.
On Friday, he publicly warned the nation of an existential threat posed by what he described as "communism and the legacy of the PKI (Communist Party of Indonesia)."
During 1965-66, Indonesia's security forces, paramilitaries, and Muslim militias killed between 500,000 to one million suspected "communists." Widodo's speech ignored the decades of relentless security agency surveillance, harassment, and public stigmatization of suspected former communists and generations of their descendants all designed to eradicate any possible reemergence of an organized communist movement.
He also didn't mention how, over the past three years, some security forces backed by paramilitary thugs and Muslim hardliners have repeatedly harassed and intimidated Indonesians trying to discuss routes to accountability for the 1965-66 killings. Indonesia's draconian anti-communist laws persist as a lingering peril for civil society activists who challenge an abusive status quo and demand accountability.
But Jokowi knows his audience he made the remarks at the Indonesian Armed Forces' headquarters during an event marking its 73rd anniversary. The politically powerful military can be expected to be an important player in the upcoming election between Jokowi and opposition leader Prabowo Subianto, a former commander in Kopassus, the notoriously abusive Indonesian special forces.
The Indonesian Armed Forces retain a visceral fear and hatred of the possible reemergence of communism in Indonesia. By showing himself as sympathetic to this perspective, he is sending the army a signal that he could postpone or even derail tentative, long-delayed moves toward accountability for the 1965-66 killings, especially follow ups from the 2016 symposium on the tragedy.
Jokowi's speech was a dog whistle pandering to elements of the security forces and government for whom accountability for past abuses is anathema. And it sends a dismaying signal about where human rights lie on his list of presidential priorities.
Ganug Nugroho Adi, Surakarta, Central Java Approximately 6,000 contract-based teachers in Wonogiri, Central Java, have staged a strike, effectively halting daily activities at several kindergartens, elementary and high schools in the region on Tuesday.
The teachers, grouped under the Contract Teacher Defenders Front (FPHI), protested the government's refusal to grant them civil servant status, even after they had failed to pass the recruitment process for candidate civil servants (CPNSs) and contract-based government employees (PPPKs).
"We demand that the central government grant the teachers the CPNS status without having to undergo the general CPNS recruitment process," said the head of the Wonogiri contract teachers forum, Sunthi Sari, in front of the Wonogiri Education Agency building.
She said around 90 elementary schools in the region were paralyzed by the strike, because the majority of teachers were not civil servants.
"We sincerely apologize. We had to make a tough decision to make the government listen to what we have to say," Sunthi said.
Meanwhile, Wonogiri School Principal Forum head Mahmud Yunus said around 78 senior and junior high schools were still operating since most of their teachers were civil servants who did not participate in the strike.
Wonogiri Education Agency head Siswanto said he bemoaned the protest because the absence of teachers had halted activities in several schools.
"We have instructed the remaining civil servant teachers to merge classes together. Whatever it takes to resume daily activities at schools," he said.
Previously, Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko said the government would improve the general welfare of the contract-based teachers by raising their salaries.
"Teachers who failed the CPNS recruitment or the PPPK recruitment will receive a salary raise," Moeldoko said on Tuesday as quoted by kompas.com.
However, he said he was unable to disclose the exact number for the raise, since it was still being calculated by the Finance Ministry and the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry. (rfa)
Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta A Jakarta-based rights group, the Institute of Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), has criticized the Jakarta Police for detaining Augie Fantinus, a radio presenter, for alleged defamation against the police force.
Augie has been detained since Friday after on Thursday he posted a video on his Instagram account of a police officer allegedly offering him a ticket to enter a basketball match at the Asian Para Games 2018 in Jakarta.
On Sunday, The Jakarta Post checked his Instagram account but could not find the video.
In the video, which has been widely reshared on other social media platforms by other users, Augie described the officer as calo, a local term for ticket scalper.
Augie faces a maximum of six years' imprisonment if found guilty of violating Article 27 point 3 and Article 28 point 2 of the Electronic Information and Transactions Law.
ICJR executive director Anggara said the detention was an exaggerated move by the police.
"An arrest should be based on sufficient evidence. It can also be carried out if the suspect tries to escape, destroy evidence or attempt to commit a similar act," he said on Sunday.
Central Jakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Roma Hutajulu acknowledged that the officer in the video was his subordinate, but denied Augie's claim.
"He's not a calo. After I checked, he wanted to refund the ticket to the ticket box and was not intending to sell it to any visitors," Roma said as quoted by kompas.com.
On Friday night, the police said they had also confiscated Augie's phone. (evi)
They may be knot-tying experts, but most members of the Indonesian Scout Movement (Pramuka) are nowhere near old enough to vote.
Despite that, a recent viral video showed some adults tarnishing the institution with their politics by leading their scouts in a #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ReplaceThePresident) chant in support of the controversial hardliner-backed movement to unseat President Joko Widodo in the 2019 election.
In the short video, the boy scouts, who numbered in the dozens, were seen chanting Allahuakbar six times and "replace the president" three times, led by several adults in Islamic garb.
Among those who called attention to the video was East Java Deputy Governor and the province's Pramuka chapter chairman Saifullah Yusuf AKA Gus Ipul, who shared the video with a precaution not to involve innocent children in politics.
"I strongly protest the video in which Pramuka was politicized and children were involved in practical politics. Whoever deliberately made it must take responsibility and apologize," Gus Ipul wrote in the tweet.
It's not yet known who originally took the video or when it was taken. The identities of the adults and the children in the video are also still unknown, presumably because of the low quality of the footage.
The Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) today said that while Indonesia's election laws do not explicitly forbid children from campaigning, politicizing them is still wrong and may be a breach of other laws.
"Whether or not this is a form of child exploitation or if the children were forced, we must refer to Child Protection laws," Bawaslu member Fritz Edward Siregar told Detik today.
Representatives from both President Joko Widodo and his challenger Prabowo Subianto's campaign teams have condemned the viral video.
This is not the first time children were used to convey a political message in Indonesia. In fact, it arguably pales in comparison to a highly controversial parade during Ramadan in 2017, when children were led to chant "kill Ahok" as punishment for the former Jakarta governor's trumped up charges of blasphemy (and eventual imprisonment) against Islam.
Sri Wahyuni, Yogyakarta The School of Husbandry at Gadjah Mada University (UGM) has prohibited a seminar involving two former ministers, who are members of presidential candidate pair Prabowo Subianto Sandiaga Uno's presidential candidate camp, from taking place at the faculty auditorium.
A statement jointly signed by the school's dean Ali Agus and Student Executive Agency (BEM) chairman Angger M. Ghozwan Hanif declared that the seminar was not part of the BEM's activities, therefore the school canceled the permit they had issued earlier.
The Seminar on Leadership in the Millennial Era was due to present former energy and mineral resources minister Sudirman Said and former agrarian and spatial planning minister Ferry Mursyidan Baldan. Both were ministers under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo but are now members of the Prabowo-Sandiaga camp.
The chairman of the seminar's organizing committee, student Jibril Abdul Aziz, said the forum was scheduled to start at 2 p.m. and end at 4 p.m. on Friday at the school's auditorium.
He said the organizing committee got the permit from the faculty on Thursday afternoon. Jibril shared a copy of a letter with The Jakarta Post, containing a request to use the auditorium. The letter heading was that of the BEM and Angger signed the request. The head of Husbandry Science and Industry Study Program, Diah Tri Widayati, also signed the request as a "notified" party.
"But this morning, at about 9 a.m., the campus told me that the permit to use the auditorium was canceled," Jibril told the Post on Friday.
He said a school staff member told him that the cancelation was made for security reasons, over fears that the meeting might cause unrest. He said he also received threats from the staff member.
"If you insist on conducting the seminar here, you could be ousted from the school," Jibril said, quoting the staff member as saying. Iva Ariani, head of UGM's communication and protocol department, denied any such threat. "There was no such thing," she told the Post.
Avoiding possible further conflict with the campus, he said, the organizing committee finally decided to move the seminar to a restaurant on Jl. Magelang, located some 5 kilometers to the northwest of the school.
Jibril claimed the program was free of political interest. He added that two weeks prior to the event both former ministers had been asked to leave any political attributes behind, considering their positions as members of a presidential candidate's camp. They were also told not to insert any political messages into their speeches.
"Both had agreed to do so," said Jibril, adding that even after being moved to the restaurant, no political messages or attributes emerged in the seminar. The third speaker in the list was Zaki Arrobi, a writer and a former junior researcher at UGM's Center for Security and Peace Studies.
"It was purely academic, as part of [preparations] to face the Industrial Revolution 4.0," Jibril said.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie and Dyaning Pangestika, Jakarta The Joko "Jokowi" Widodo-Ma'ruf Amin camp has criticized Prabowo Subianto's "Make Indonesia Great Again" speech, an obvious reference to United State President Donald Trump's Make America Great Again slogan.
Politicians in Jokowi's camp are concerned that Prabowo would follow in Trump's footsteps by igniting bigoted and racist sentiments.
"What is the purpose [of the slogan]? Does Prabowo want [certain] races or religions to be supreme here [in Indonesia]?" said Raja Juli Antoni, the Jokowi-Ma'ruf campaign team's deputy secretary, on Friday.
"Indonesia's ideology is based on Pancasila, we are united and live with the principle of gotong royong [mutual cooperation]," said Abdul Kadir Karding, the campaign team's deputy chairman.
Prabowo delivered his speech during an Indonesian Islam Propagation Institute (LDII) national working meeting in Jakarta on Thursday.
"I wonder why Indonesians are afraid of saying 'Indonesia First: Make Indonesia Great Again' to their people?" Prabowo said as quoted by tempo.co. "Why are there no leaders who have the courage to say that what is important is to provide jobs for Indonesians," he added.
A political communication expert from Paramadina University, Hendri Satrio, said Prabowo was testing the waters when he quoted Trump.
"It seems like both presidential election candidates are still exploring strategies that suits them. Jokowi, for example, is still seeing if he can raise the infrastructure issues, while Prabowo is testing the waters by using Trump's slogan because the US president's exposure among urbanites are quite high," Hendri told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
However, he said, Prabowo would not likely use "Make Indonesia Great Again" as a permanent slogan. "He will have to explain the meaning and the context behind the slogan if he wants to adopt it." (evi)
Ryan Dwiky Anggriawan, Jakarta The presidential candidate number 02 Prabowo Subianto exemplifies the action of the United States which declared a trade war with China. Prabowo said that after the US lost the competition and announced that there was 'no free trade, American First, and Make America Great Again'.
"Why don't Indonesia dare to say: 'Indonesia First', 'Make Indonesia Great Again'," Prabowo remarked at the national meeting of the Indonesian Islamic Dawah Institute (LDII) in Jakarta, Thursday, October 11.
Prabowo says Indonesia is a country that produces great commodities but instead suffers losses. "The raw material for aluminum is bauxite, we export it in logs. We have all goods, nickel, all the great commodities. But we as a nation, can be considered that we are currently experiencing a loss," he said.
In Prabowo's view, the big problem in this country lies in the nation's elites who ignore the interests of the people and it happens for years.
"If I [am asked] to say who are them; I'm not gonna mention which party, which group. The elite is the element in our leadership. (In fact) I classify myself as part of the elite," he said.
According to Prabowo, a country that is economically successful is a country that is capable of maintaining national interests. "We should not act as the messengers for other nation and we should not lose our homeland," he said.
Dewi Nurita, Jakarta A total of seven people who claimed to have joined 212 Act declared themselves as representatives of Eks 212 Kawal Kiai Ma'ruf Amin (ex-212 alumni guard Kiai Ma'ruf Amin).
Today, October 11, they declared support for the presidential-vice presidential candidate number 01, Joko Widodo or Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin, in the 2019 presidential election; instead of Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno.
"We are ex 212 alumni invite all people to support Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin as to create Islam that is Rahmatan Lil Alamin (the blessings to the entire universe) in this country," said Sulaeman, deputy head of Eks 212 Kawal Kiai Ma'ruf Amin, in Cemara Post, Jakarta, Thursday, October 11.
They were previously active in the act of 212, a community rally that demanded legal proceedings against Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama or Ahok who they deemed defamed Al Quran in his speech regarding Al Maidah verse 51.
The volunteer group led by Razman Arief Nasution, one of the attorneys of the Islamic Defender Front (FPI), stated three points in the support declaration for Jokowi. First, Ex 212 would guard ulema to govern the Unitary State of Republic of Indonesia (NKRI), and so Kiai Ma'ruf Amin as the vice presidential hopeful was the answer of their prayers and struggle.
The second point, Ex 212 would defend Muslim's aspirations and actualize just and prosper development. And last, Ex 212 demanded Jokowi and Kiai Ma'ruf Amin fight for sharia economy, Islamic education and boarding school, as well as uphold the fair law.
Earlier, the spokesman for the alumni of 212 Act joined in the 212 Alumni Brotherhood (PA), Novel Bamukmin, asserted the PA 212 would not support Jokowi despite the incumbent chose Ma'ruf Amin as the vice presidential candidate.
Jakarta Presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto and running mate Sandiaga Uno were on the campaign trail with visits to different pesantren (Islamic boarding school) over the weekend.
During his visit to the Sidogiri pesantren in Pasuruan, East Java, on Saturday, Sandiaga was clad in a white shirt, green sarong and black peci (rimless hat), similar to the garb that of rival vice presidential candidate and Muslim cleric Ma'ruf Amin.
At the pesantren, Sandiaga repeated the Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign's economic message, saying that santri (pesantren students) are the backbone of the country's economy and that they should become entrepreneurs, or what he referred to as "santripreneurs".
The message, however, is not authentic as it also has been voiced by Ma'ruf, who runs alongside incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. The cleric said he wanted to focus on the "Muslim economy".
"I'm certain that one of the movers of the Indonesian economy is the Muslim economy," he said as quoted by Antara. "An economy that can empower [people]."
Ma'ruf previously said that he wanted to establish a "new wave" in the economy based on sharia.
Prabowo, at the same time visited the As Syafi'iyah Pulo Air pesantren in Sukabumi, West Java, on Sunday, and also reiterated his focus on the economy, saying that he would do his best to eradicate poverty if he won the election.
"I feel the support of people in Sukabumi is very strong and this gives me hope that I will win," he said at the pesantren, as quoted by radarsukabumi.com.
Despite having the support of several conservative Islamic groups such as the National Movement to Safeguard Fatwas (GNPF), a recent survey conducted by Indikator Politik Indonesia found that respondents considered the Prabowo-Sandiaga ticket to be less pious than its rival.
Around 76 percent of the respondents considered President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to be religious and pious, while only 58 percent said Prabowo was religious and pious.
Eighty-two percent of respondents said Ma'ruf was religious and pious, while 63 percent said the same for Prabowo's running mate, Sandiaga Uno. (kmt)
Dewi Nurita, Jakarta Vice Presidential Candidate No. 01 Ma'ruf Amin was quite relaxed in responding to the latest survey by the Saiful Mujani Research Center (SMRC) which showed the presence of the vice presidential candidate had no significant impact on the electability of the presidential candidate.
Ma'ruf also said, there would be no breakthrough that he would do to increase the electability. "There's no breakthrough, just normal," said Ma'ruf Amin when met at the Bintang Hotel, Jakarta on Sunday, October 7.
The SMRC survey showed the electability of the Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin pair was 60.4 percent and Prabowo-Sandiaga was 29.8 percent.
The electability of Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin was supported by Jokowi's high electability, which reached 60.2 percent. While Prabowo was only 28.7 percent.
In other words, the SMRC concluded that the presence of the vice presidential candidate did not have a significant effect on the electability of the presidential candidate.
The SMRC survey was conducted on September 7-24 and involved 1,074 respondents with multistage random sampling throughout Indonesia.
The average margin of error from the survey with the sample size was approximately 3.05 percent at a 95 percent confidence level (assuming the simple random sampling).
Jakarta (Antara) Presidential Candidate number 02 Prabowo Subianto denied the notion that he was hungry for power.
"I was repeatedly insinuated and ridiculed and accused of various things, they said that I was hungry for power. I asked myself, is it?" he said when giving a speech at KH Abdullah Syafi'ie Haul at As-Syafi'iyah Islamic Boarding School, Pulo Air, Sukabumi, West Java, Sunday, October 7.
According to Prabowo, he was not willing for some people in Jakarta to steal the nation's wealth.
"The current economic system only enriches some people, it makes Indonesia's wealth taken out of the country. So a person like me is not favored by the elite," he said.
Prabowo also said that if the nation's wealth was taken continuously, one day our country would collapse.
"Every time I am among the people, I always feel the vibration of the soul, passion, and eyesight tells me that there are great hope and trust in me. And I always pray to the Almighty not to disappoint the hope and trust of the people who have given," Prabowo said.
Resty Woro Yuniar An Indonesian anti-government activist's secret plastic surgery procedure has spiralled into the country's latest fake news scandal ahead of next year's presidential polls and bruised a former army general's ambitions to unseat incumbent Joko Widodo.
The bizarre case began last month when former actress Ratna Sarumpaet, 69, a member of ex-general Prabowo Subianto's campaign team, told family that her swollen face and eyes were the result of a politically motivated attack.
Ratna claimed that three unidentified men had assaulted her on September 21 in Bandung, a city two hours from the capital Jakarta.
Photos of Ratna went viral on the internet, with Prabowo springing to her defence. In a news conference, the presidential challenger said Ratna was "traumatised" and he would speak to the police chief about the "human rights abuse".
One by one, Prabowo's political supporters, including Muslim leader Amien Rais a key figure in the reform movement that forced the resignation of President Suharto in 1998 voiced their support for Ratna and demanded an investigation into the assault.
But in a bizarre twist, a tearful Ratna came clean following a police investigation that unearthed images of her checking into a hospital for face liposuction.
"I needed a reason to explain my bruised face to my children, so I told them that I got attacked," she admitted on October 3. "I never thought that I would be stuck in this stupidity."
She continued: "I'm sorry that I lied about this. I hope everybody affected by my lying can accept the fact that I am just a human. This time I have created the best hoax... scandalising an entire nation."
Ratna, who was forced to resign from Prabowo's campaign team, has since been detained and charged under Article 14 of the criminal code for spreading fake news. She faces 10 years in prison.
Police have alleged that she paid the 90 million rupiah (US$5,913) cost of the surgery from a bank account set up to channel donations to relatives of the victims of a June ferry disaster in which almost 200 people drowned. Her lawyer has denied the misuse of funds.
Prabowo has apologised to the public for "amplifying something where the truth had not been verified".
Analysts said the deception could deal a blow to Prabowo and his vice-presidential running mate, businessman Sandiaga Uno, who have trailed behind Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, and running mate Ma'ruf Amin in opinion polls.
Jakarta-based pollster Indikator recently found that nearly 58 per cent of Indonesians favoured Widodo as the next president, compared with 32.3 per cent who support Prabowo.
"Ratna Sarumpaet's hoax shows that political hatred and black campaigns are still used for campaigning," said Septiaji Eko Nugroho, founder and chairman of Mafindo, a community dedicated to combating misinformation.
"There seems to be a 'justify all means' approach among political elites in order to win... this polarisation will remain until the presidential election is over."
But with the Widodo government grappling with an economic downturn and its biggest currency depreciation since the Asian financial crisis last month, the opposition has an opportunity and time to make up ground before the April 17 election.
"The impact for Prabowo would be greater had this happened in 2014, when [presidential] campaigns were only six weeks," said Hendri Satrio, a political analyst in Jakarta.
"While legally the case is ongoing, I think that Widodo's supporters can't afford to keep bringing this up as it could backfire and generate public sympathy towards Prabowo."
Meanwhile, Indonesia continues to debate how to grapple with the insidious spread of fake news, which is exacerbated in the country of 260 million by poor digital literacy and growing religious and racial intolerance.
Disinformation has spiked in hotly contested polls since the 2014 presidential election, when Widodo was a regular target of unsubstantiated claims that he was anti-Islam and a communist.
Former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese and Christian, later became a victim when a doctored video circulated appearing to show him telling voters not to be fooled by a Koranic verse that barred Muslims from voting for non-Muslim candidates in elections.He is now serving a two-year sentence in prison, after a Jakarta court last year found him guilty of blasphemy.
Libel, defamation and hate speech are already illegal in Indonesia. While lawmakers have proposed new laws to tackle so-called fake news, human rights activists have raised concerns that too-broad legislation could be used to crack down on political dissent.
Neighbouring countries are also grappling with the issue. In Singapore, a parliamentary committee recently recommended the introduction of new laws to curtail misinformation online. Malaysia already criminalises the reporting of misinformation, although the government of Mahathir Mohamad is trying to repeal the related legislation.
In Indonesia, Mafindo highlighted 230 examples of fake news and hoaxes in the third quarter of this year alone. Most of the cases concerned politics and were spread through Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.
"There are many online hoaxes that also reached a lot of people, but haven't blown up in mainstream media [unlike Ratna's hoax], which is truly worrying," said Nugroho.
"Our homework is figuring out how to increase people's digital literacy. This is a long-term solution to prevent them from falling for disinformation."
But political elites and religious leaders must also play ball, he said. "We hope political parties will actively report hoaxes and fake news that cause damage not only to them, but also their rivals," Nugroho said.
"Many leaders giving sermons are sourcing their information from gossip spread through WhatsApp groups. This is poisoning the quality of information being circulated among the public. We need religious leaders to also be involved in our collective effort to stop fake news."
Jakarta (Antara) National Campaign Team (BPN) of Prabowo Subianto Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno pair has prepared more than 300 lawyers to assist National Mandate Party (PAN) Honorary Council chairman Amien Rais. He was scheduled to be examined related to activist Ratna Sarumpaet hoax case on Wednesday (Oct. 10).
BPN Advocacy and Legal Agency member Habiburokhman ensured that the number of lawyers who would accompany Amien will increase. According to him, his party has also prepared advocates to assist other figures who summon by National Police, such as Said Iqbal.
"Amien will attend his summon on Wednesday (Oct. 10) and Said Iqbal on Tuesday (Oct 9)," he said on Monday (Oct. 8).
Habiburokhman confirmed Amien was summoned by police as witness. He could not fulfill the summon on last Friday (Oct 4) due to administrative error in his summon.
According to other member of BPN Advocacy and Legal Agency, Surya Imam Wahyudi, Jakarta Police has summoned Amien with the name Amin Rais. In fact, his right name is Muhammad Amien Rais. "The first summon for Amien had an administrative error, so he was not present," Surya added.
Meanwhile, Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, a spokesman of the campaign team endorsing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Sandiaga Uno, assessed National Mandate Party (PAN) Honorary Council chairman Amien Rais summon by Jakarta Police was an attempt of criminalization. Amien was summoned to be questioned related to activist Ratna Sarumpaet hoax case.
In fact, Dahnil considered that Amien himself was a victim of the hoax case. Therefore, he was not surprising that many parties want to assist Amien summon by the authorities. He said that a group that called themselves as Alumni 212 is ready to assist Amien who also former of People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker.
"Amien doesn't ask, but they (Alumni 212) wants to guard him," said Dahnil on Monday (Oct. 8).
Dahnil has considered Ratna hoax case is over. He said Ratna has admitted her action and was processed legally. Moreover, Ratna has been detained after being named as suspect by Jakarta Metro Police.
Meanwhile, National Police spokesman Setyo Wasisto revealed the reason behind Amien Rais summon as witness in Ratna hoax case. According to him, Amien was summoned for clarification. "So don't be afraid. Take it easy, it only for clarifying information received by investigators," Setyo said.
The case began when Ratna who was one of spokepersons of Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign team decided to have cosmetic surgery on September 21 without any consent of her families. The next day, a picture of her with swollen face circulated on social media. To her families, she claimed it was a result of an assault happened in Bandung, West Java.
She kept her secret for a week. Ratna also hide the truth from her politician friends, including Fadli Zon, Amien Rais and Prabowo. On October 2, Fadli created an uproar by tweeting about the assault.
Later that night, Ratna met Prabowo and his national campaign team to talk about the incident. Prabowo then stood for her, saying he would met national police chief to discuss the case.
According to chairwoman of the Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno campaign team, Nanik S. Deyang, the incident had taken place on Sept 21, near Husein Sastranegara International Airport. However, on October 3, police found out that Ratna had not been in Bandung that day, but at Jakarta hospital specializing in cosmetic surgery.
Ratna then admitted to have lied. She said pictures of her swollen eyes that went viral were the result of liposuction and apologized to Prabowo and public for her deception.
Jakarta Police arrested Ratna when she was about to take a flight to Chile at Soekarno Hatta International Airport, Tangerang, Banten on Thursday (Oct 4). She was named as a suspect under Article 14 Law No. 1/1946 on criminal law regulations and Article 28 juncto Article 45 Law No. 11/2008 on Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE).
Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta The coordinator spokesman of National Campaign Agency Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno, Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak said the police summon to Amien Rais and Said Iqbal is a wrong political attempt. Amien Rais and Said Iqbal were summoned for an investigation related to the hoax news of Ratna Sarumpaet.
"We see the summon as a wrong political attempt in the middle of this presidential election," said Dahnil in Jalan Daksa I, Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, Monday, October 8.
Dahnil said Prabowo-Sandiaga coalition considered the case of Ratna Sarumpaet was cleared since the latter admitted her lie and currently undergoing legal proceedings. Ratna was detained at Jakarta Metro Police and named as the suspect since last Thursday, October 4.
Dahnil questioned the police summons to Amien Rais and Said Iqbal. According to him, the honorary chairman of the National Mandate Party and the head of Indonesian Trade Unions Confederation (KSPI) were the victim of Ratna's lie.
However, Amien Rais and Said Iqbal would answer the police summons. Amien would be quizzed on Wednesday, October 10, while Said today, October 9. To fulfill the summon, the campaign team's advocate would accompany both of them.
In addition, the 212 Alumni Brotherhood (PA 212) would also secure the investigation on Amien Rais. Dahnil said the campaign team and Amien Rais did not ask for the guards, but PA 212 intended to ensure Amien's safety.
Other than PA 212, the second largest Islamic organization Muhammadiyah Youth Wing (Kokam) expressed its rage since their senior figure is being criminalized. "We hope they would stop of the politicization or criminalization against our country's figure," Dahnil remarked.
Previous polling has indicated fairly consistently that Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto has to overcome a huge double-digit lead for incumbent President Joko Widodo in order to win Indonesia's 2019 presidential election.
But instead of closing that gap it looks like Prabowo is now at an even worse footing in his rematch against Jokowi (who already beat him once in 2014).
The results of the most recent poll from political think tank Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC), taken in mid-September, shows a significant increase in potential voters backing Jokowi compared to their last poll taken in May.
Their new data shows 60.2% of respondents choosing Jokowi compared to 57% in May, whereas Prabowo dropped from 32.2% to 28.7%. The 11.1% of undecided voters also represents a decrease from May.
One obvious reason for Jokowi's high rating in SMRC's poll is his correspondingly high approval rating, with 73.4% of respondents saying they were eight satisfied or very satisfied with Jokowi's work as president. On the flip side, 25.4% of respondents said they were unsatisfied or less than satisfied with his performance.
As the poll was done from September 7-14, it does not take into account the calamitous events of last week's twin disasters in Sulawesi or the political drama surrounding Prabowo campaigner Ratna Sarumpaet's fake beating.
But, unlike the May poll, it does take into account the announcements of Jokowi's running mate, Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) head Ma'ruf Amin and Prabowo's VP pick, former Jakarta Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno.
SMRC's new poll numbers are also generally in line with the most recent poll from survey group Indikator Politik Indonesia, which showed Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin at 57.7% and Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno with 32.3%. That poll was taken from September 1-6.
If those two polls are evidence of an upward trend for Jokowi and a downward trend for Prabowo, it's unlikely that last week's events would have altered them.
SMRC executive director Djayadi Hanan said that their initial findings from surveys taken after Ratna's hoax was revealed last week show that it had a significant negative effect on undecided voters.
"The optics look bad. That makes it difficult for Prabowo to win votes from those who have not yet made a choice," Djayadi said at SMRC office's in Jakarta yesterday as quoted by CNN Indonesia. It could mean that the next poll, post-Ratna drama, puts Prabowo at an even greater disadvantage.
Hidayat Nur Wahid, deputy chairman in PKS (one of Prabowo's key coalition allies) tried to downplay SMRC's latest data by noting that former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama also once had high job satisfaction ratings in the polls.
Which is true, Ahok did have quite high job satisfaction ratings, even after the blatantly politicized blasphemy charge against him was made. But, of course, that blasphemy charge was a total game-changer it not only led to Ahok's loss in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial race but also landed him in prison.
Unless Jokowi does something comparable to give Prabowo an opening to make a similarly game-changing move, the game might already be over for Prabowo.
Jakarta Torrential rains triggered flash floods and landslides on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, killing at least 27 people, including a dozen children at a school, officials said on Saturday.
A flash flood with mud and debris from landslides struck Mandailing Natal district in North Sumatra province and smashed an Islamic school in Muara Saladi village, where 29 children were swept away on Friday afternoon, said local police chief Irsan Sinuhaji.
He said rescuers retrieved the bodies of 11 children from mud and rubble hours later.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency's spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said rescuers and villagers managed to rescue 17 other children and several teachers on Friday and pulled out the body of a child on Saturday near Aek Saladi river, close to the school.
A video obtained by The Associated Press showed relatives crying beside their loved ones at a health clinic where the bodies of the children were lying, covered with blankets.
Nugroho said two bodies were found early Saturday from a car washed away by floods in Mandailing Natal, where 17 houses collapsed and 12 were swept away. Hundreds of other homes were flooded up to two metres high, while landslides occurred in eight areas of the region.
Four villagers were killed after landslides hit 29 houses and flooded about 100 buildings in neighbouring Sibolga district, Nugroho said. Rescuers search for victims following a flash flood in Mandailing Natal district.
He said flash floods also smashed several villages in West Sumatra province's Tanah Datar district, killing five people, including two children, and leaving another missing. Landslides and flooding in the neighboring districts of Padang Pariaman and West Pasaman killed four villagers after 500 houses flooded and three bridges collapsed.
Both North and West Sumatra provinces declared a week-long emergency relief period as hundreds of terrified survivors fled their hillside homes to safer ground, fearing more of the mountainside would collapse under continuing rain, Nugroho said, adding that dozens of injured people were rushed to nearby hospitals and clinics.
James Massola, Jakarta The World Bank has promised up to $1.4 billion to help Indonesians rebuild their shattered lives following twin earthquakes that have devastated the resort island of Lombok, and then the central Sulawesi city of Palu.
The pledge from the Bank was made as the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on the island of Bali wrapped up on Sunday.
At least 623 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes when a magnitude seven earthquake struck Lombok in early August.
And just over two weeks ago, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake and tsunami up to six metres high struck in central Sulawesi, smashing the city of Palu and nearby towns including Donggala and Sigi.
As of Thursday, the death toll from that disaster stood at 2073 people but as many as 5000 people are still missing and their bodies are unlikely to ever be recovered. The search and rescue effort in Palu has now officially ended.
Whole neighbourhoods in Palu suburbs such Balaroa and Petobo were wiped out by soil liquefaction, and it is likely these areas will be turned into mass graves.
A preliminary assessment by the Bank of the damage done to Palu estimated the value of the infrastructure, homes and others property damaged at approximately $746 million $254 million of that constituting damage to homes, $259 million to other property and $231 million in damage to infrastructure.
The money promised by the Bank on Sunday would be used to aid the massive relief and reconstruction efforts already underway in Lombok and Palu.
World Bank chief executive Kristalina Georgieva said, following a visit to Palu on Friday, that she had been humbled to hear the stories of those who had their lives devastated.
"The government's immediate relief efforts are robust and impressive. As we enter the reconstruction phase we are making up to $1 billion of comprehensive support available for Indonesia. The best memorial to those who lost their lives is build back better," she said.
The $1.4 billion aid package could also allow for cash payments to 150,000 families affected by the disaster, and could also include financing to rebuild housing and critical public infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, bridges and roads.
Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said her government appreciated the support of the international community in our time of need, including from the World Bank Group.
"Restoring lives and livelihoods of the people affected by natural disasters is the government's utmost priority," she said.
Survivors in some of the hardest-hit areas of Sulawesi and Lombok have been sharply critical of the Indonesian government's handling of the disaster response, complaining that aid has taken too long to get to them and has been insufficient.
After Lombok, the Indonesian government refused offers of international assistance from other governments and placed heavy restrictions on what international aid groups could do.
It did allow aid from national governments including Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, the UK in after the Palu earthquake, but only after days of dithering and the Australian team sent in, for example, has already been asked to leave.
Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Jakarta Flash floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains in Indonesia have killed at least 21 people, including 11 schoolchildren, left 15 missing, and destroyed hundreds of homes, authorities said on Saturday.
More than 500 homes in the provinces of North and West Sumatra have been flooded or damaged, with some swept away by the floods, which also destroyed three suspension bridges, said a disaster relief official.
"Evacuation as well as search and rescue operations are underway," said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for disaster mitigation agency BNPB. "But the affected villages are in the mountains and access is difficult, due to damaged roads."
In North Sumatra, 11 children studying at an Islamic village school died after their classroom wall collapsed when a nearby river overflowed on Friday. "The victims were buried in a torrent of mud and wall debris," Sutopo added.
Rescuers are hunting for one student still missing from the 29 in the class at the time, but have accounted for all the rest, regional police chief Irsan Sinuhaji told Reuters, adding that authorities were checking for other people who may have gone missing.
Two people were found dead on Saturday after their vehicles were swept away by the river.
Four people died in landslides in the city of Sibolga in North Sumatra, while flash floods in West Sumatra killed four more, including two children.
Jakarta The Pekanbaru High Court in Riau has declared an executive of palm oil company PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa (JJP) guilty of burning 1,000 hectares of peatland in Rokan Hilir regency, Riau.
JJP plantation head Kosman Vitoni Immanuel Siboro was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay Rp 3 billion (US$196,914) in fines.
However, the company has challenged the court's verdict by suing expert witnesses who were instrumental in providing scientific evidence throughout the trial.
Among them is Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) lecturer Bambang Hero Saharjo, who said the company's lawsuit was "not based on [prevailing] law".
"The court has to reject the lawsuit. Otherwise, expert witnesses would be less inclined to assist the government in the court," Bambang was quoted by kontan.co.id as saying on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Environment and Forestry Ministry's law enforcement director general, Rasio Ridho Sani, said on Monday that the ministry was committed to defending Bambang against the lawsuit.
Previously, the Rokan Hilir District Court imposed a Rp 1 billion fine on JJP, which was represented by company director Halim Gozali.
The Supreme Court's cassation ruling also ordered JJP to pay an additional Rp 491.03 billion fine for environmental rehabilitation.
The Environment and Forestry Ministry has imposed administrative sanctions on 518 companies involved in environmental crimes. (rfa)
Kate Lyons Foreign aid workers who rallied to the island of Sulawesi after the devastating earthquake and tsunami more than a week ago have been asked to leave the country by the Indonesian government.
Foreign agencies flew in after a devastating earthquake on 28 September, which triggered a tsunami. The official death toll from the disaster is 1,944, about 5,000 people remain missing, presumed dead.
Indonesia's national disaster management authority (BNBP) issued regulations for international NGOs, including that: "Foreign NGOs who have deployed foreign personnel are advised to retrieve their personnel immediately."
The announcement has prompted concerns that the ability of NGOs to deliver aid will be hampered.
Tim Costello, the chief advocate for charity World Vision, called the announcement by the government "very odd" and said it meant that overworked and traumatised Indonesia staff and volunteers were not able to be supported and relieved by fresh foreign staff.
"Foreign journalists are free to walk around and report, but humanitarian workers who are foreign and are bringing both the experience and the relief to our staff who lived through the tsunami [are not]," he told the ABC. "They're demoralised, they're knocked about, so this is what's very strange."
Indonesian authorities were criticised for how long it took them to get search and rescue equipment and aid to Palu and other areas affected by the natural disaster.
In the aftermath of the disaster, the city of Palu went days without power and clean water, leading to reports of looting, long queues for fuel and desperate scenes at the city's airport. Countries including Australia, New Zealand and the UK pledged aid.
The regulations issued by the Indonesian government are directed toward international NGOs. Large organisations such as World Vision, which are registered as local NGOs in Indonesia, are allowed to remain.
Jen Clancy at the Australian Council for International Development (Acfid), Australia's peak body for aid NGOs, said only a small number of international staff were being allowed on the ground to provide technical assistance.
Acfid members on the ground in Indonesia told Clancy the restrictions on the number of foreign aid workers was not hampering the response, however they did note concerns about fatigue and exhaustion of local staff.
A senior international NGO worker currently in Indonesia advising on the disaster told the Guardian that Indonesia's preference for local NGOs over foreign ones was "normal".
"In Australia we don't have Indonesian NGOs there, so why would they have [Australian NGOs]? There are security issues, tax issues, it doesn't make sense for a country with enough money to have international NGOs instead of nationalised ones," the worker said.
The worker said that while there were some roles requiring specialist technical skills, these can generally be performed from headquarters and last only for a few weeks, whereas for the bulk of roles, it made sense to hire locally.
Clancy said international NGOs had to walk a careful line of not acting paternalistically and taking over aid operations. "There's pushback against the international community who come flooding in days or weeks later, taking over the response. It's about taking back that power and saying local organisations have significant capacity."
The Indonesian government, the Indonesian Red Cross and other Indonesian NGOs all have "significant capacity" for providing humanitarian assistance, said Clancy. "Natural disasters aren't a new phenomenon for Indonesia, unfortunately... They are well experienced in responding to natural disasters."
Vannessa Hearman When the earthquake and tsunami hit the city of Palu, Central Sulawesi, last weekend, they not only brought wreckage and death.
The twin disasters also swept away efforts by activists and the municipal administration to support the survivors of Indonesia's violent anti-communist purges in 1965-1966. In the rest of the country, such survivors are still very marginalised.
In Palu, a city of some 350,000 inhabitants and the capital of Central Sulawesi province, activists had convinced local government leaders to work with them in helping these survivors.
Palu is the only place in Indonesia where a government leader has made an official apology to the victims of the anti-communist violence in the area. Some nine days after the devastating natural disaster, the fate of some of those activists is still unknown.
Indonesian people lived under Suharto's New Order authoritarian regime between 1968 and 1998, when the president was forced to resign. From 1965-66, the army, under Suharto, spearheaded anti-communist operations that killed half a million people and led to the detention of hundreds of thousands.
The army blamed Indonesia's Communist Party (PKI) for the murder of seven army officers on the night of 30 September and in the early hours of 1 October, 1965, by a group calling itself the Thirtieth September Movement. The 53rd anniversary of these events coincided with the terrible disaster in Central Sulawesi.
In 2012, the Palu mayor, Rusdy Mastura, apologised to the victims of the anti-communist violence. He pledged to provide assistance to them and their families in the interests of "equality, openness and humanitarian considerations".
In his speech, Mastura recalled how, as a boy scout in 1965, he had been tasked with guarding leftist detainees.
Mastura was speaking at an event organised by local human rights group, SKP-HAM (Solidaritas Korban Pelanggaran Hak Asasi Manusia, Solidarity with Victims of Human Rights Abuses).
SKP-HAM was founded in 2004. Its best-known leader is the dynamic secretary, Nurlaela Lamasitudju, the daughter of local Islamic cleric, Abdul Karim Lamasitudju. SKP-HAM is part of the national Coalition for Truth and Justice (Koalisi Pengungkapan Kebenaran dan Keadilan, KKPK).
In 2012, the KKPK held several public events and community "hearings", dubbed the "Year of Truth Telling", to pressure the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to rehabilitate the victims of the violence.
In April 2012, Yudhoyono was reported as having expressed his intention to apologise to victims of human rights abuses committed during the Suharto New Order regime.
Yudhoyono's promised apology never materialised. However, the "Year of Truth Telling" events yielded some important gains in Palu.
Following his apology, the SKP-HAM lobbied Mastura to deliver on his promises by providing healthcare and scholarships. A mayoral regulation and a Regional Action Plan for Human Rights (Rencana Hak Asasi Manusia, Ranham) were promulgated to enable this.
These local government instruments have been made possible through Indonesia's regional autonomy laws.
The mayoral regulation also established a committee to oversee human rights protection and restoration of victims' rights. On May 20, 2013, Palu was declared a "Human Rights Aware City". Each year, the city holds a series of human rights-related events.
In May 2015, the Palu City Regional Planning Body oversaw the process of checking and verifying the identity of victims and their needs, using the information compiled by human rights groups as a base.
SKP-HAM had collected 1200 testimonies about the 1965-66 violence from victims in the area. From these testimonies, it had created and uploaded to YouTube short films of survivors' testimonies.
It had also published a book about the 1965-66 events in Sulawesi, in collaboration with Indonesian author, Putu Oka Sukanta. Mastura wrote the book's preface.
The group supported weaving cooperatives involving women survivors and ran a cafe and meeting space, Kedai Fabula, at its office in Palu. In partnership with religious groups and the municipal administration, members of the group organised social activities to involve abuse survivors in the life of the city.
The activities of SKP-HAM Palu is a reminder of what has been lost. It was a trailblazing city whose achievement in human rights advancement provided a model for the rest of the country.
The people of Palu, with a great deal of assistance, will rebuild, but we still wait for more news from the city.
SKP-HAM leader, Lamasitudju, survived the earthquake and tsunami. With a sprained ankle and having lost several family members in the disaster, she is volunteering to collect and provide information regarding the situation in Palu.
Indonesia needs groups like SKP-HAM that campaign for inclusiveness and equal rights to survive into the future.
Hannah Ellis-Petersen and Kate Lamb in Palu About 5,000 people are still missing, feared death, after an earthquake and tsunami hit Sulawesi just over a week ago.
The official death toll stands at 1,944 but officials believe that when casualties from two of the hardest-hit areas of Palu Balaroa and Petobo are determined, that number could almost triple.
Those searching the ruins of the villages fear that thousands may have been swallowed up by the ground when the earthquake caused liquefaction, causing the solid surface of the ground to turn to liquid, engulfing homes in the mud.
"Based on reports from the heads of Balaroa and Petobo, there are about 5,000 people who have not been found," said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia's disaster agency.
"Nevertheless, officials there are still trying to confirm this and are gathering data. It is not easy to obtain the exact number of those trapped by landslides, or liquefaction, or mud."
Hopes of finding survivors ten days after the double disaster struck the Indonesian island have all but faded, but Thursday will be the official deadline for recovering bodies. After that people will be deemed missing, presumed dead.
In Balaroa, an entire government housing complex, home to over a thousand families, crumbled when the ground beneath it turned to liquid mud. The number of bodies lying beneath the mound of rubble, metal and mud is unknown.
Abdul Maruf, 40, was just stepping out of his house to join Friday evening prayers when he felt it. "Earthquake, get out!" he shouted to his wife and young children. "We got out and then the house crumbled to the ground about 15 seconds later."
"I keep having flashbacks," said his wife, Avia. "Every step I took the land broke off, split off. I was shocked."
There were similarly apocalyptic scenes in Petobo, where dozens of villages disappeared into the ground, which became like quicksand when the earthquake hit, making it almost impossible for rescue teams to extract bodies.
"It would be a miracle to actually find someone still alive," Muhammad Syaugi, the head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency on Sunday. The government said that after Thursday these decimated areas would be designated as mass graves, and left untouched.
The number of people in Sulawesi requiring aid has risen to 200,000. Countries including the UK, US, Australia, India and Japan have sent in millions of dollars worth of aid, but food and water remain in short supply, and the Red Cross said it had treated around 1,800 people in its clinics.
The earthquake ripped apart the roads, hindering access, so helicopters have been dropping aid supplies to more remote areas.
Some schools reopened this week to begin the process of counting how many pupils would be returning after the earthquake. The headteacher of SMP Negeri 15 Palu middle school, Abdul Rashid, said: "Classes haven't started. We're only collecting data to find out how many students are safe." But on Monday morning, fewer than 50 out of 697 students showed up.
Jakarta Police have named seven suspects over forest fires that plagued the province of South Sumatra over the past week.
South Sumatra Police chief Insp. Gen. Zulkarnain Adinegara said two of the suspects were businesspeople, while five were local landowners.
"The seven suspects are involved in forest fires in OKI [Ogan Komering Ilir], Banyuasin, Ogan Ilir and Palembang," he said on Sunday as quoted by tribunnews.com.
He said the suspects had admitted to starting the fires to clear land [for cultivation]. The smoke from the fires had caused thick haze covering Palembang and some surrounding areas over the past few days.
"[The perpetrators started the fires] so that, when the rainy season starts, they could immediately start planting," Zulkarnain said. "But clearing land by burning is wrong. We will continue to monitor the forest fires in South Sumatra."
He added that police were investigating other fires in the region as well. "Fields that have been burned are marked with police line and investigated. After that, we look for the owner of the field," he said. "This way, we hope to deter people from setting fires." (kra)
Jakarta Thousands of contract teachers in Bekasi, West Java, have not received their salaries for the past two months on the back of the stalled deliberation of the revision to the city budget.
Around 3,800 teachers have not been paid for their services in August and September, the coordinator of the Bekasi branch of the Indonesia Contract Worker Defenders Front Firmansyah said.
The teachers' salary was recently raised to Rp 3.8 million (US$250) per month after they were reclassified as contract teachers. They previously received Rp 2.7 million per month as associate teachers. Although classed as contract or associate teachers, they are usually employed full-time.
Firman urged the Bekasi's administration to disburse the payment to the teachers, who were struggling to make ends meet. "They are thinking hard on how to cover their daily expenses," he said as reported by kompas.com on Saturday.
Bekasi Education Agency head Ali Fauzi said the funds to pay the contract teachers were allocated in the 2018 city budget. However, since their salary was raised, the funds available were inadequate to pay the teachers.
The administration was waiting for the 2018 revised budget to be endorsed by the Bekasi Legislative Council, so that it could disburse the adjusted salary. "We only need to wait for the revised budget to be approved by the city council," he said. (gis)
Sheany, Nusa Dua Hundreds of thousands of people living with HIV in lower-middle-income countries, such as Indonesia, risk losing critical support when global charities pull funding from countries graduating to a higher income tier, a global nonprofit warned on Thursday.
Income level, determined by the World Bank based solely on a country's per-capita gross national income, has become the main reference for aid allocation used by many charities focused on HIV support.
Countries often graduate to the upper-middle-income tier without a corresponding equal income distribution, nor robust health care systems in place.
This is soon followed by charities shifting their focus from such countries, leaving many people living with HIV in those places without adequate support, as these countries do not yet provide affordable health care services of their own.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), a Los Angeles-based global nonprofit provider of HIV prevention services to more than a million people in 41 countries, has been advocating for raising the upper-middle-income threshold by three to five times the current standard, and including other metrics, such a country's disease burden, income gap and quality of life.
"We don't want the World Bank to use the arbitrary calculation anymore; we want a more cohesive consideration of all the factors in the country," Marie Ko, advocacy and marketing manager at AHF Asia, said on the sidelines of 2018 Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group in Nusa Dua, Bali.
Indonesia, which currently sits on the higher end of the World Bank's lower-middle-income tier a gross national income of between $996 and $3,895 per capita is expected to soon graduate to the upper-middle-income tier.
The United Nations' AIDS prevention agency said in a statement that several donors have stated their intention to defund HIV programs in Indonesia once the country moves into the upper-middle-income tier. This would leave an estimated 630,000 Indonesians living with HIV at risk.
Only 42 percent are believed to be aware of their HIV status and a meager 14 percent are receiving treatment for the disease. Even worse, foreign funding accounts for about 44 percent of the $100 million the country spends annually on treatment and prevention of the disease.
"We see this as a critical moment for Indonesia, once they lose the funding after becoming [an upper-middle-income country] they will have fewer resources to tackle the problems of HIV/AIDS," Ko said.
Riki Febrian, AHF Indonesia country program manager, said a lack of awareness of HIV/AIDS and current cost of treatment is one of the factors preventing people from having themselves tested for the disease, or from seeking treatment.
Despite ongoing government efforts to combat HIV and the national target of providing 81 percent of all people living with HIV with antiretroviral therapy by 2030, many programs led by civil society organizations to address the issue at the grassroots still heavily depend on external funding.
"We think it's unjust to a certain extent, because [countries such as] Indonesia will lose funding from, for example, the Global Fund, so how can they sustain their programs and cope up with the gaps?" Ko said, referring to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an international financing organization that aims to attract, leverage and invest additional resources to end epidemics of these diseases around the world.
Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta Homegrown ride-hailing app Gojek has come under fire after a screenshot of a Facebook post from one of its executives expressing support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community went viral.
The post, written by Gojek vice president of operations and business development Brata Santoso, was made after Gojek launched an internal campaign called #GOingALLin in conjunction with Coming Out Day.
"I'm happy to say that Gojek is taking the diversity & inclusion matter to the next level by the adoption of a non-discrimination policy toward the underrepresented group, i.e. LGBT, despite being an Indonesian company," Brata wrote.
@gojekindonesia supports LGBT and diversity in Indonesia. Thank you Gojek on #comingoutday Me and my friends feel happy knowing we're not alone pic.twitter.com/7s49n2Yn1e Rio Damar (@rio_damar) October 12, 2018
The post sparked an online furore, with the hashtag #UninstallGojek trending on Twitter since Saturday night. Many Twitter users have posted screenshots of them uninstalling the Gojek app from their phones in protest of what they perceived as Gojek's approval of homosexuality.
Done!!! #UninstallGojek pic.twitter.com/XOUoUUXmpI Athallah (????????) (@athlahzk) October 13, 2018
Ok... Fix, #UninstallGojek pic.twitter.com/66khrzMVbw Sapto Prasetio (@espraszz) October 13, 2018
But many netizens have also defended Gojek, pointing out that many companies widely used in Indonesia have also openly declared their support of the LGBT community, including Twitter itself.
"I respect those who want to #UninstallGojek. That is everyone's right," Twitter user @newsplatter said. "But I also want to remind them to uninstall Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and don't use Apple either because as far as I know all those brands support LGBT rights."
#UninstallGojek kalo mau un-install jangan separo2. Nih yang pro-gay monggo jangan dibeli produknya:))) Auto maen di sawah, pake hape nokia 3310, dan buta teknologi. pic.twitter.com/mg7bArgyQL Woro Tyas (@Worrotyas) October 13, 2018
Gojek itself released a statement on its Twitter account saying that the post was "a personal opinion and interpretation of one of Gojek's employees about an internal event with the theme of diversity." Gojek management said the company respected diversity but also respected "Indonesian values and culture".
GO-JEK menjunjung tinggi keberagaman yang menciptakan persatuan dan keharmonisan, sejalan dengan nilai-nilai dan budaya Indonesia, yang ber-Bhinneka Tunggal Ika. pic.twitter.com/OQq7n1JmlF GO-JEK (@gojekindonesia) October 13, 2018
Unlike in other Southeast Asian nations, homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, but the country has seen a rise in anti-LGBT sentiment in recent years.
Rizki Fachriansyah, Jakarta A Facebook group page that claims to be a online hangout place for young gay people from Garut, West Java, has sent the religiously conservative regency into a moral panic.
Hundreds of school principals in Garut gathered on Wednesday to publicly denounce the presence of the LGBT community in school, as reported by kompas.com.
The Garut Education Agency's head of the middle school division, Totong, said the public denouncement represented the collective resistance of school principals against the LGBT community. However, he said he had yet to identify which students were a part of the Facebook community.
As part of an effort to eradicate homosexuality in schools, he said the education agency would instruct school principals to engage students in religious programs. In addition, teachers will also be encouraged to arrive at their respective schools earlier in the morning to check on their students.
"Since earlier this year, we've prohibited cellphones in schools. We've also confiscated cellphones of students who violated the rule," Totong said, adding that involvement in gay communities would result in expulsion.
The Facebook page, "Kumpulan Barudak Gay SMP/SMA Garut" (A Community of Garut Gay Middle School/High School Students), which has amassed around 2,600 members, is currently under investigation.
Garut National and Political Unity Office (Kesbangpol) head Wahyudijaya of the said the office had coordinated with the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) to identify Facebook accounts associated with the page.
In addition, he said the agency had also cooperated with the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) to discuss further action regarding the case.
Meanwhile, KPAI commissioner for education Retno Listyarti urged the government to implement a strict system that prevents children from being involved in LGBT campaigns.
"Children do not yet have a sexual orientation. Things such as the gay Facebook page could potentially distort the way children view themselves," she said in a statement.
Communications and Information Ministry spokesman Ferdinandus Setu said in a statement that the ministry's internet content division would restrict access to the Facebook page if it contained pornographic material. Furthermore, he said the ministry would coordinate with the Garut Police for further investigation into the case.
Indonesia does not legally ban homosexuality, but the country has seen a rise in anti-LGBT sentiments in recent years.
Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta Members, initiators and partners of IndonesiaLeaks, an independent whistle-blower platform that recently published a report on the alleged involvement of a top police officer in a bribery case, have urged the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to be resolute in holding those allegedly responsible for the case accountable.
The Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers), civil society group Auriga Nusantara and the Alliance of Independence Journalists (AJI) among the parties behind IndonesiaLeaks asked the KPK to not be afraid of any possible police intimidation.
LBH Pers said the KPK had appeared to move backwards when it denied that CCTV footage allegedly showing two police officers who were assigned as KPK investigators at the time ripping out several pages of a book detailing transactions between a meat importer and National Police chief Tito Karnavian was incriminating.
IndonesiaLeaks cited in its report that the CCTV footage in question, filmed in April 2017, allegedly showed that the two former KPK investigators were Adj. Sr. Comr. Roland Ronaly and Comr. Harun.
"KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo previously admitted to IndonesiaLeaks that they had seen the CCTV footage, and handed over the officers to the police after a [KPK internal investigation] found that they were guilty," LBH Pers executive director Nawawi Bahrudin said.
Nawawi was referring to Agus' statement made during an interview with IndonesiaLeaks' members two months ago.
But soon after IndonesiaLeaks published its report, Agus told the media that the accusation of the book being destroyed was not seen in the footage.
KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah has said the KPK's internal investigation was stopped when Roland and Harun returned to the police in late 2017, after a request from the National Police.
"We want the KPK chairman to be consistent both in his statement and actions on the alleged cases related to tampering with the investigation," Nawawi said.
Meanwhile, the AJI suspected that the KPK might be afraid of dealing with the police given its checkered history when investigating police officers.
The National Police are known to have tried to weaken the KPK several times, including when the police besieged the KPK's office in 2012 in an attempt to arrest KPK lead investigator Novel Baswedan, after the KPK declared police general Djoko Susilo a graft suspect.
"During our [seven-month] investigation, IndonesiaLeaks members often received threats, but we are not afraid. As long as it is in the public interest, we will continue the investigation," AJI chairman Abdul Manan said, calling on the KPK to follow its lead.
Mardiyah Chamim, the executive director of Tempo Institute, which participated in the IndonesiaLeaks investigation, confirmed that investigators had been intimidated.
"Our teams were followed and asked about the motives behind the investigation [in an intimidating manner]," Mardiyah said, refusing to detail the alleged incidents.
The IndonesiaLeaks report also cited that the book was among the pieces of evidence confiscated in the bribery case involving meat importer Basuki Hariman and former Constitutional Court justice Patrialis Akbar, both of whom were sentenced in September 2017.
From a KPK report in March last year, IndonesiaLeaks found that a witness, Kumala Dewi Sumartono, Basuki's finance staffer at CV Sumber Laut Perkasa, told investigators that some of the money recorded in the financial records book was wired to Tito between January and July 2016.
With recent scandals and polling suggesting a very hard road until April's election for presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto, his camp has decided to take a new tact by attacking President Joko Widodo on one of the ugliest blemishes on his administration's anti-corruption record: the still unsolved mystery behind the acid attack on Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan.
Andre Rosiade, a spokesperson for the Prabowo's campaign, said that the Gerindra chairman was ready to be tougher on corruption than President Jokowi, should he win, and he specifically promised to resolve the mystery of who attacked Novel.
"Pak Jokowi is not brave and unable to form a TGPF (Fact Finding Team) regarding this case. Pak Prabowo, as president, will immediately form a TGPF and, God willing, three months later the problem will be resolved," Andre told Kompas yesterday night.
On the morning of April 11, 2017, Novel was splashed with hydrochloric acid in the face by two people on a motorcycle as he was leaving a mosque near his home in Jakarta.
The attack took place while the KPK was in the midst of of one of its biggest investigations ever after it accused dozens of high-level politicians of taking part in a scheme to rob the state of US$170 million worth of misappropriated funds from the program for the country's new e-KTP electronic ID cards (which has led to the highly dramatic arrest of former House Speaker Setya Novanto).
Novel spent many months recovering from the attack, which left him blind in his left eye. Unbowed despite his injuries, he returned to work at the KPK in July.
Although police say they are still working on Novel's case, over a year and a half after the attack they have never been able to identify the assailants nor have they announced any new developments in the case for many months.
It's questionable whether Prabowo's promised TGPF could shed any new light on the case within three months, but the fact that Novel's case still remains unresolved is certainly one of the biggest failures of the Jokowi administration in terms of its support for anti-corruption efforts and certainly a legitimate subject of criticism.
Although Jokowi's administration has a generally good reputation for not being mired in the corruption endemic to Indonesian politics, a recent scandal involving bribery accusations against National Police Chief Tito Karnavian has put Jokowi's campaign on the defensive. Prabowo's camp may have seen that as the opening they needed to press their case that the former general could do a better job on corruption than the current administration.
Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has reportedly arrested 10 people comprising officials from the Bekasi administration in West Java and private companies in relation to property permits.
KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah said on Monday that the KPK had also seized an amount of money in Singapore dollars from the suspects.
A number of workrooms at the office of the Bekasi administration had also been sealed, he added.
"We will disclose the names in the upcoming press conference," Febri said, adding that the press conference was likely to be held on Monday afternoon.
The suspects were taken to the KPK headquarters for questioning. (kuk)
Ryan Dwiky Anggriawan, Jakarta The Independent Journalists Alliance (AJI) head Abdul Manan said reporters and law enforcers had the same intention to seek the truth. However, he added, both professions use different ways and instrument in achieving the goal.
Abdul made the statement in response to Indonesialeaks' report on alleged bribe case involving National Police Chief Tito Karnavian. The news sparked pros and cons from many parties.
Setara Institute head Hendardi, for example, considered the report issued by Indonesialeaks was not a journalistic product. "It is not a report from a law enforcement institution which can be trusted," he said in a written statement.
According to Abdul, law enforcers such as the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the police were allowed to use a force to call for an investigation, demand evidence, and hold interrogation in looking for the truth in a case.
"While us, reporters, can find the truth by conducting verification, document check, and confirmation," Abdul told Tempo, Friday, October 12. "So, media and law enforcers have different approach despite having the same goal in finding truths," he noted.
He noted his side was certain that Indonesialeaks' report was based on data and facts. According to Abdul, if other party had different data and facts, the proper way to exposing it would be confronting the fact with re-investigation.
Indonesialeaks is a platform for public informants to anonymously share crucial documents on newsworthy scandals. It is founded by AJI, the Indonesian Association for Media Development, and Tempo Institute with NGO members including ICW, LBH Pers, Change.org, Auriga and national media.
On October 8, 2018, Indonesialeaks disclosed an irregularity in the bribery case that incriminated Basuki Hariman, who bribed Constitutional Court justice Patrialis Akbar in January 2017. Indonesialeaks revealed the destruction of evidence allegedly done by two KPK investigators at that time, Adj. Comr. Roland Ronaldy and Comr Aaron. The evidence in question was the red bank book of Basuki's transaction record to police's top brass, including Tito Karnavian who was posted as the Jakarta Police Chief at that time.
Caesar Akbar, Jakarta Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) urged the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to take action and investigate the two former KPK investigators who allegedly committed the act of evidence tampering as reported by Indonesialeaks.
"KPK leaders need to continue to maintain the dignity of the KPK's struggle as a respected institution with great reputation and its good name, that has been proud of by many," said ICW Coordinator Adnan Topan Husodo in a written statement received by Tempo, Thursday, October 11.
IndonesiaLeaks, a platform for the public to report the scandal of the public official and private sector in Indonesia, revealed the indications of the evidence tampering at the KPK. The act was allegedly committed by the two former KPK investigators from the Police institution, named Roland and Harun.
Adnan regretted that the KPK's internal scandal did not touch the legal process. The two former KPK investigators were instead returned to their original agency and got a promotion.
"Even though the KPK repatriated them because they were considered to have committed an ethical violation, namely damaging the evidence belonging to the KPK confiscated from CV Sumber Laut Perkasa," Adnan said.
"The KPK itself responded flatly, and even seemed to avoid it when Indonesialeaks succeeded in revealing all the facts related to the destruction of the evidence," said Adnan.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Kharishar Kahfi and Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta The release of a recent collaborative investigative report accusing a senior police officer of accepting bribes in relation to a meat-import corruption case has stirred controversy amid the campaign for the 2019 presidential election.
The camp of Joko "Jokowi" Widodo-Ma'ruf Amin has responded by suggesting that the investigation, published by an independent whistleblower platform, IndonesiaLeaks, is not credible.
The investigation released on Monday reported that two former Corruption Eradication Corruption (KPK) investigators, both of whom were members of the police, tampered with crucial evidence relating to a meat-import bribery case. The two allegedly ripped out several pages of a book containing transactions by meat importer Basuki Hariman.
The report, which was developed based on documents sent by anonymous informants, also cited an alleged flow of bribe money from a meat importer to current National Police chief Tito Karnavian.
The platform is a collaborative effort initiated by, among others, the Alliance of Independent Journalists, Tempo Insitute and Netherlands-based Free Press Unlimited. Media members include Tempo, Bisnis Indonesia, Liputan6.com, The Jakarta Post, CNN Indonesia, KBR, Suara.com and Independen.id.
Hasto Kristiyanto, the secretary-general of ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which is also member of Jokowi's coalition, insinuated that IndonesiaLeaks was part of a political movement to harm Jokowi's presidential campaign.
"[The IndonesiaLeaks report timing] is not a coincidence; it has suddenly emerged as part of the drama relating to Ratna Sarumpaet," Hasto said following Monday's release of the report.
The politician was referring to the recent scandal involving Ratna, an activist who was affiliated with presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto's camp, and who claimed to have suffered bruising to her face after being assaulted, but later admitted that her swollen face was a result of cosmetic surgery.
"Whatever is described as leaks must be examined by the law. There may be other leaks that cause harm," he said.
Oesman Sapta Odang, chairman of the Hanura Party, which is part of Jokowi's coalition, also said that there was something fishy about the report, adding that unknown parties ordered the investigation. "There must be something behind it," Oesman said.
The report found that CCTV footage from April 2017 allegedly showed Adj. Sr. Comr. Roland Ronaldy and Comr. Harun, who were assigned to the KPK as investigators at the time, tearing and altering pages from a financial-records book.
The book was among the evidence that was confiscated in a bribery case involving meat-importing businessman Basuki and former Constitutional Court justice Patrialis Akbar both were sentenced to jail in September 2017.
IndonesiaLeaks obtained a document, a KPK investigation report (BAP) on March 9, 2017, documenting interrogation by investigators of witness Kumala Dewi Sumartono, a finance department employee of CV Sumber Laut Perkasa.
The documents revealed that Kumala told investigators that some of the money recorded in the book was wired to Tito. The document showed that Kumala told the KPK that between January and July 2016, the company transferred money to Tito.
Tito served as the Jakarta Police chief from June 2015 to March 2016, as National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) chief from March to July 2016 until he was inaugurated as the leader of the National Police.
There were at least eight transactions recorded in the financial-records book, which Kumala wrote herself. Most of the money was wired in US dollars and amounted to Rp 7.2 billion (US$474,360) in total.
But the flow of funds in the BAP, which was revealed during an investigation led by KPK investigator Surya Tarmiani, was not mentioned in Basuki's indictment. Surya himself said he had his laptop containing key evidence in the case stolen as he exited a taxi in Jakarta, less than a month after the investigation.
The BAP on Kumala's interrogation and other supporting investigative documents received by IndonesiaLeaks have been validated as legitimate by at least four KPK members.
When asked for confirmation back in August Tito said the accusations had been answered by Brig. Gen. Muhammad Iqbal, the National Police spokesperson, who denied the allegations.
The opposition camp has urged Jokowi to prove his anticorruption commitment. "The case can reveal the 'anatomy of corruption' in Indonesia, such as the actors and the patterns," said Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, a spokesman for the Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno campaign team.
Under Tito's leadership, the police have charged firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab, known to be close to Prabowo's camp, with several offenses. The National Police recently arrested Ratna and on Tuesday summoned Amien Rais, a vocal anti-Jokowi figure.
President Jokowi, who is seeking re-election next year, said that he did not want to intervene in legal cases and the KPK. "It's still an allegation. I don't want to intervene or be involved in legal processes," he said.
Meanwhile, Eni Mulia, executive director of the Association for the Development of Nusantara Media (PPMN), one of the initiators of IndonesiaLeaks, said it deplored the politicians who accused the platform of being political, since the core message that it wanted to deliver was the cooperation between the media and the public in corruption eradication.
"I am worried that if our professional investigative reporting is considered to be political, it will kill journalism itself in Indonesia," Eni said. "We hope that the KPK will reopen the investigation into the case to find out who is behind the corruption," she added.
However, KPK commissioner Saut Situmorang said the antigraft body considered the case to be closed and that it did not have the CCTV footage that recorded the two former investigators allegedly tampering with the evidence. (evi)
Marguerite Afra Sapiie and Rizki Fachriansyah, Jakarta The administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has signed a regulation to give informants financial rewards for blowing the whistle on graft.
The new regulation, issued by the Law and Human Rights Ministry on Sept. 18, stipulates that informants who provide tips to the authorities regarding possible graft will be awarded with an official certificate and paid up to Rp 200 million (US$13,137).
"We want people's participation in the prevention and eradication of corruption," the President said on Wednesday. When asked about the budget for the award, Jokowi said that question should be referred to the Finance Minister.
According to Article 17 of the regulation, the financial incentive will be adjusted to the amount of state losses caused by the reported corrupt practices.
Meanwhile, those reporting bribery will be given a financial reward of up to Rp 10 million, depending on the amount of losses caused by the crime.
Informants are allowed to either submit a verbal or oral report of a possible graft. The report must contain the identity of the informant and an elaboration of facts related to the suspected graft.
The authorities will conduct a thorough verification to ensure the legitimacy of the report 30 days after it is submitted by the informant. In addition, authorities will also evaluate the informant's role in uncovering the crime, the risk inherent to the report and the quality of the report.
If the report is deemed valid, the informant is subject to legal protection from the government. (ahw)
Dewi Nurita, Jakarta Public pressure amounted on the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) following the release of the investigative reporting by Indonesialeaks earlier on Monday.
The anti-corruption agency is pushed to take action and solve the nearly-forgotten case involving two former KPK investigators, whom originated from the police institution, who damaged crucial evidence related to a high-stakes corruption case.
Tempo compiled three requests for actions that KPK must take according to the public, former KPK leader, former Minister, and mass-organization.
1. Summon and question national police chief Tito Karnavian
The KPK is once again pressed to summon Police Chief General Tito Karnavian for an investigation. This was urged by former KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto after the Indonesialeaks files contained material that incriminated the national police chief.
"KPK leaders are currently tested under the public's prying eyes, whether they still have the courage to entirely solve the case or at least summon Tito Karnavian," said former KPK deputy chairman Bambang in a written statement on Monday, October 8.
Tempo's reporting that was based on the Indoensialeaks files found that two KPK investigators who were recruited from the police department had erased several names and ripped off 15 pages from a red bank passbook. The investigators were known to be Adj. Grand. Comm. Roland Ronaldy and Comm. Harun.
2. Legally process the former KPK investigators responsible for the evidence tampering
KPK are being pressured by the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) to process the two former KPK investigators in question, since evidence tampering can be criminally charged which is in the level of hampering authorities' investigation and acts against the law.
"The KPK can continue the case and incriminate the two former investigators with Article 21 of Law No. 20/2001 on the eradication of corruption," said ICW investigation division staff Lais Abid on Monday, October 8.
3. Recommission the investigation against the two former KPK investigators
The Institute for Policy and Budget Analysis Alliance (Alaska) urged KPK to continue their investigation upon Roland and Harun, even though the men have been returned to the police institution after they were caught destroying the crucial evidence.
"We call for KPK to uphold the law no matter who it incriminates. Even if it means that they must face the Indonesian National Police Institution together with police's top brass," said Alaska Coordinator Adri Zulpianto on Tuesday, October 9.
Adri argued that merely sending Roland and Harun back to the police institution is not comparable to the violation that the two men had done, considering that the Indonesialeaks files revealed an alleged flow of funds up to Rp1 billion to Tito Karnavian while he led the Metro Jaya Police Department throughout 2015-2016.
Farouk Arnaz, Jakarta While the nation is still mourning the victims of last month's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi, a bombshell allegation has emerged that implicates high-level government officials including the chief of the National Police in a bribery scandal.
The scandal flows from the arrest, conviction and jailing of former Constitutional Court Chief Justice Patrialis Akbar in early 2017 for accepting bribes from businessman Basuki Hariman, a beef importer.
The Jakarta Corruption Court sent Patrialis to eight years in prison, while Basuki and his assistant, Ng Fenny, received jail terms of seven and five years each, respectively. The bribes were related to a judicial review of the 2014 Animal Husbandry and Livestock Health Law, which Basuki claimed was hurting his business.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) nabbed Patrialis, Basuki and Fenny in a series of sting operations in Jakarta in late January 2017.
Local news portal independen.id reported that during a recent search of Basuki's offices in Jakarta, the KPK found a so-called "cashflow book," or ledger, under the name Panorama Indah Sejati, one of the businessman's companies.
According to independen.id, the ledger made by Kumala Dewi Sumartono, a staff member in Panorama Indah's finance department, shows that the company had made several payments to high-level government officials, including in the Finance Ministry's Directorate General of Customs and Excise, the National Police and certain government ministries, allegedly as bribes to secure the company's beef imports.
Independen.id participates in Indonesialeaks, an independent platform supported by senior journalists and local media groups, which facilitates anonymous submissions by whistleblowers or members of the public on controversial issues that may require further investigation.
According to independen.id, an investigative team from Indonesialeaks managed to obtain a copy of the ledger, as well as a detailed investigation report on the questioning of Kumala Dewi by antigraft investigators.
The most controversial part involves Tito Karnavian, who was chief of the Jakarta Police at the time, and whose name allegedly showed up in the ledger. There were several amounts entered next to his name, which suggested that the company had made payments to him.
Some entries in the ledger only listed beneficiaries' initials, while others only listed nicknames, or beneficiaries' job titles or positions. No explanations were given for the purpose of the payments to some of the names listed in the ledger.
The independen.id story further claims that Kumala explained in the KPK investigation report dated March 9, 2017, that Panorama Indah had allegedly made payments to as many as 68 government officials.
Basuki's beef importing business was quite "tasty." The businessman controlled at least 20 companies and he was known as one of the biggest players in the industry in the country.
In a written statement distributed in the media, former deputy KPK chairman Bambang Widjojanto criticized incumbent KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo for investigating Gen. Karnavian's alleged involvement in the case.
The National Police have meanwhile denied the story, which was previously reported in the media, by saying that it was an old issue that had surfaced last year.
"The case came up in 2017, but it has since been clarified. There were also names of customs officials who allegedly received money, which was reported to the Jakarta Police," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto said on Monday.
The Jakarta Police questioned Basuki in response to the report, but according to Setyo, he denied the validity of everything he had written in the ledger.
"Basuki said he just wrote down those names to justify taking money [from the company]. So he put down the names of A, B, C, because his wife also supervises his company's finances. He just used random names," Setyo said.
He also commented on news reports claiming that two former KPK investigators, Adjutant Chief Comr. Roland Ronaldy and Comr. Harun, who were recruited from the National Police, had reportedly ripped out and destroyed several pages containing Tito's name from the controversial ledger.
Setyo said the police did not recall the two officers, but that the KPK had transferred them back to the police. "It is not a recall... Let this be clarified by the KPK again," he said.
Setyo said the National Police's internal affairs division investigated the allegation but found no credible evidence that the two police officers, who were working for the KPK at the time, had destroyed any important evidence.
He said the KPK investigation did not show any "problems" involving the two officers. "We will study this information, but if it is a hoax, we will get rid of it. We won't spend much time on any unnecessary things," Setyo said.
Arya Dipa, Bandung, Indonesia The Bandung District Court postponed on Monday a pretrial hearing on the termination of an investigation into firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab's alleged defamation of former president Sukarno and state ideology Pancasila.
The hearing was postponed because representatives of the West Java Police, who are the defendants in the case, failed to attend.
"The hearing is postponed until next week as we wait for the defendant's attendance," sole judge Muhammad Razzad said at the hearing on Monday.
Sukarno's daughter Sukmawati Soekarnoputri reported the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader to the police in 2016, when a video of Rizieq comparing the early version of Pancasila drafted by Sukarno and the Jakarta Charter's version went viral on social media.
In the video, Rizieq says: "In Sukarno's Pancasila, faith in God is placed in the butt, but in the Jakarta Charter's Pancasila, faith in God is placed in the head. Which one is better? Sukarno's or the Jakarta Charter's?"
The police dropped the case in February, citing a lack of evidence. Sukmawati's legal team objected to the investigation being terminated, claiming that the case fulfilled all the criteria to be brought to court.
"According to Article 184 of the KUHAP (Criminal Law Procedures Code), evidence can include witness statements, expert testimony, clues and defendant statements. We have all those pieces of evidence," Teddi Adriansyah, one of Sukmawati's lawyers, said.
Rizieq's lawyer, M. Ichwan Tuankotta, has claimed that the speech was based on Rizieq's master's degree thesis and was therefore not a crime. (kmt)
Budaya Syirik, Bantul A Sedekah Laut traditional thanksgiving ritual in the Central Java regency of Bantul, which was to be held on October 13, has been cancelled after a mob wearing Islamic turbans vandalised the venue.
The mob left a message which said that the traditional annual ritual is syirik [from the Arabic word shirk meaning the deification or worship of anyone or anything besides the one God Allah].
The incident occurred at midnight on Friday October 12 at Baru Beach in Poncosari village, Srandakan sub-district. In the end an arts performance was held instead of the traditional ritual of throwing offerings into the sea.
A Baru Beach fisherperson, 48-year-old Tuwuh, confirmed the incident. "This is the first time Sedekah Laut has been cancelled. Tents and the honorary platform had already been setup but there is no Sedekah Laut", said Tuwuh on Saturday.
According to Tuwuh, the incident occurred at 23.30pm near the Baru Beach entrance gate next to the statue of a shark and tiger which have become an icon of the beach.
The mob of some 50 people arrived in around 20 vehicles, motorcycles and cars. They immediately destroyed the ceremonial gate, tables, and overturned chairs that had been neatly arranged for guests.
"Shouting Allah Akbar [God is Great], wearing turbans, they chopped everything up using sharp weapons they'd brought", said Tuwuh.
After vandalising the venue, the perpetrators then put up a banner reading, "We reject all associations with Allah wrapped in the culture of Sedekah Laut and the like".
Tuwuh himself claimed to have directly witnessed the incident but was too afraid to do anything.
As a result of the attack, several of the agenda high-points were also cancelled and a reog arts performance [a comic performance performed with dance and drums] held instead. Dishes of food were also handed out to local people.
It is not known if the Sedekah Laut ritual, also referred to as Bekti Pertiwi and Pisungsung Jaladri, is in fact syirik. The ritual is held annually and the 50 million rupiah in funds for the event comes from community donations.
"It had all be setup 15 days beforehand", said Tuwuh.
Sedekah Laut Ngalangi A traditional thanksgiving ritual in which villagers give offerings to show their gratitude for the abundant farm and fish harvest from the rich nature that surrounds them.
Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Fanny Potkin, Jakarta Hardline Islamists protested in Indonesia's capital on Wednesday over the investigation of an opposition activist who claimed that bruising on her face was caused by a politically motivated assault but later admitted that it was due to cosmetic surgery.
The furor over 69-year-old Ratna Sarumpaet's bizarre case has stoked political tensions in Jakarta ahead of next April's presidential election, which will pit incumbent Joko Widodo against retired army general Prabowo Subianto.
Sarumpaet, one of Prabowo's campaign advisers, has been a strident critic of Widodo's government and figurehead of a "2019 Change the President" movement.
After she claimed last week that she had been attacked by three assailants for her political work, a photograph of her face looking swollen and bruised went viral on social media.
Prabowo then told a news conference on Oct. 2 that the assault was a "human rights abuse" and a "repressive act".
However, police found that Sarumpaet had undergone plastic surgery on her face at a Jakarta hospital and charged her with spreading a hoax, a punishable offense in Indonesia.
Sarumpaet acknowledged that her appearance was due to liposuction surgery and said she had been trying to hide it from her family. "There was no assault," she told reporters, before being arrested last Friday as she tried to leave Indonesia.
Sarumpaet was fired from the opposition campaign, and Prabowo apologized for believing her story. However, police reports were made against several prominent members of the opposition camp for their previous support of Sarumpaet.
Conservative Muslim leader Amien Rais was the first of them to be questioned on Wednesday, to the anger of his supporters.
More than 100 members of the hardline Alumni 212 and Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) gathered with loudspeakers and flags in front of the police station where he was being question, saying they were there to protect him.
The groups were behind protests that culminated in the election defeat and jailing for blasphemy in 2017 of Jakarta's ethnic-Chinese and Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ally of President Widodo.
Prabowo campaign spokesman Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak told reporters on Tuesday that he considered Rais' summons to be politically motivated.
Widodo's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle has brought a separate complaint against the Prabowo campaign to the Elections Supervisory Agency over the scandal, accusing it of spreading fake news. The agency has said it will examine whether the case constituted a campaign violation.
Analysts say the controversy is unlikely to be a lasting crisis for Prabowo but it is still a blow for the challenger, who is already trailing far behind Widodo in opinion polls.
"The Sarumpaet affair may recede from headlines soon, but it has impacted Prabowo's image while posing distractions that have squandered finite time to campaign," said independent analyst Kevin O' Rourke.
Sarumpaet's lawyer, Insank Nasruddin, told Reuters that his client had meant her lie to be limited to her family, which did not know about the surgery, and her defense would focus on proving that she was not responsible for it going viral.
This is not the first fake news allegation made against Sarumpaet. In 2018, she said on Twitter that the government had issued a 200,000 rupiah note, an assertion the central bank declared was a hoax.
Michael Taylor, Kuala Lumpur Indonesian poultry farmer Yohanes Sugihtononugroho faced ruin four years ago when plummeting prices forced him to slaughter all 100,000 of his chickens and shutter his business.
He blamed large-scale poultry farmers who carried out a mass cull after their birds fell sick, flooding the market and sending prices tumbling.
"We were a small player fighting tooth and nail every day," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "When it all came crashing down, I was really depressed and didn't know what I then wanted to do with my life."
Instead of turning his back on farming, the 26-year-old decided to help others struggling financially by setting up Crowde, a mobile crowdfunding platform that allows users to invest as little as $1 in thousands of farms across Indonesia.
Most of Asia Pacific's 422 million farms are run by smallholders with less than 2 hectares of land each.
Most farmers in the region face an uphill battle to access credit, leaving them unable to modernize, boost yields, diversify into new crops, or stay afloat when hit by extreme weather fueled by climate change.
Crowde's app aims to change that by making it easier for people to invest in Indonesian farmers whether producers of beef, poultry, fish, rice or chili and share in the profits.
Agents for Crowde go into villages across the sprawling archipelago to persuade farmers to sign up. To date, the scheme has attracted about 14,000 farmers and 22,000 investors who have pledged $4 million-$5 million, Yohanes said.
Crowde farmers do not receive cash, but instead get equipment, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, which the Indonesian startup buys at a lower rate from agricultural suppliers.
When crops are harvested or animals slaughtered, Crowde links farmers with buyers and suppliers to get them the best deals, and already has agreements with major supermarkets.
"I know the farmers I'm helping," said Yohanes, whose startup takes a 3 percent share of all money invested to run the app. "I'm going to every village across Java talking to farmers."
The Asia-Pacific region is home to 4.3 billion people and more than half depend on agriculture for a living, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Because agriculture is seasonal, farmers must often wait until harvest time before their work generates any revenue.
Many are subsistence farmers whose incomes cannot stretch to cover emergencies like school fees, a sick family member or losses caused by disasters.
The bulk of investment in the region's farms comes from small, private and domestic lenders, including family savings, friends, buyers, traders and loan sharks. But that informal system leaves poor farmers vulnerable to indebtedness after crop losses.
"In India, you have horror stories of farmers who end up committing suicide," said Akmal Siddiq, head of rural development and food security at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila.
As well as holding farmers back, informal lending can also hinder growth in the value chain because traders and buyers who offer loans cannot invest that money in their own businesses.
Less than 10 percent of investments in agriculture in Asia Pacific come from formal financial service providers like banks, experts say.
Banks tend to have fewer branches in rural areas and lending to farmers with no collateral is seen as too risky, driving interest rates higher than for urban loans.
Without access to financial services, Asian farmers struggle to pay premiums for crop insurance, join certification schemes that open new markets, use the latest technologies or buy hardier seeds dampening yields as a result.
Farmers cannot afford to upgrade their practices to supply higher-paying markets for export and big retailers, said Eva Galvez Nogales, an agriculture officer at the FAO in Bangkok.
"They cannot increase the quality of their products or make investments required for that," she said.
In developing countries, supply and demand for agricultural products is often badly managed by governments, leading to price fluctuations, said the ADB's Siddiq.
In addition, post-harvest losses due to spoilage caused by poor packing, long transport times or inadequate cooling range between 25 percent and 45 percent, he said. After reaching market, Asian farmers tend to receive only about 30 percent of a food's sale price, he added.
With such high risks, policy makers must take the lead and introduce state-backed crop insurance schemes and regulation to boost formal lending and banking services, food experts said.
Supportive measures could include lending quotas for the agriculture sector, interest rate caps for farmers and rules requiring banks to expand into rural areas, they added.
Alongside credit, they urged banks to offer farmers insurance, financial management, savings accounts and technical assistance by creating partnerships spanning the value chain.
Bangladesh has had some success in promoting private-sector microfinance institutions, which offer small loans and do not ask for collateral in many cases, experts said.
India which has a third of Asia Pacific's farms has made strides in federal schemes for weather-based crop insurance, while China is using apps to get financial services to farmers.
Alibaba Group, China's biggest e-commerce firm, meanwhile has devised a system that uses big data and artificial intelligence algorithms to provide loans to Chinese farmers.
The FAO's Galvez Nogales said formal lenders must also offer products targeting women farmers because they contribute the most labor but often lack access to farming income and assets.
At Crowde, the initial target is to get 100,000 farmers to join the scheme and then foster their growth. "We want to help and empower every farmer," Yohanes said.
One of the main criticisms against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama by human rights activists was his forced evictions of slum dwellers who illegally lived on government-owned land, mostly near the capital's rivers which his administration argued was necessary to clear river banks and prevent flooding during rainy season.
During the gubernatorial campaign, Ahok's eventual successor Governor Anies Baswedan promised to put an end to forced evictions in place of more "humane" solutions to zoning disorder.
But the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta) says that Anies hasn't been keeping to his promise. In a press conference yesterday, LBH said they found that Anies' administration carried out 12 evictions in 2017 and 79 more in 2018, many of which were forced.
"In 2017, 80 percent settlement evictions were carried after a one-sided [decision by the administration]. While in 2018, January to September, 81 percent of evictions were carried out by [the administration], without prior discussions or solutions for the citizens who were affected," LBH Jakarta Public Advocate Charlie Al Bajili told reporters at the conference, as quoted by Detik.
Nelson Nikodemus Simamora, head of the Metropolitan and Urban Citizenry department in LBH Jakarta, added that the Jakarta administration was not the only party to carry out forced evictions during the period others being the military, police, and corporations but it failed to uphold its promise and protect citizens nonetheless.
"There was the political promise that there would be no more evictions. So [the administration] must ensure that they don't evict people and ensure that nobody else evicts its citizens," he said.
Anies has not responded to LBH Jakarta's findings, but his political backers the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) used semantics to defend the governor, arguing that his administration has been "organizing" the city and not evicting residents.
During Ahok's governance, LBH Jakarta estimated that 8,000 families were forced out of the capital's slums in 2015, but they were relocated to government-built low-cost apartments. However, several construction projects for low-cost apartments has been cancelled this year under Anies' administration due to financial and administrative constraints.
Meanwhile, an official from the Public Works Ministry recently warned that 129, or almost half, of Jakarta's 269 subdistricts are at risk of flooding when the rainy season comes in November as the city administration has not carried out "normalization" projects on the capital's rivers (which involves cleaning waterways and clearing them of any blockage to ensure normal water flow), which were regularly undertaken by Ahok's administration.
Arief Ikhsanudin, Jakarta The Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) says that Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan is still carrying out forced evictions one year after his campaign promise not to do so. The evictions were carried out by force without prior consultation with communities.
Jakarta LBH data shows that there have been 91 cases of forced evictions since Baswedan took office. Twelve cases occurred in 2017 and 79 took place in 2018.
"In 2017, 80 percent of the evictions were carried out unilaterally. In 2018 meanwhile, between January and September, 81 percent of evictions were carried out unilaterally without prior consolation or [alternative] solutions [being offered to] affected residents", LBH Jakarta public defender Charlie Al Bajili told journalists at the LBH office on Jl. Diponegoro on Sunday October 14.
Meanwhile LBH Jakarta City and Urban Community Affairs head Nelson Nikodemus Simamora explained that the evictions were not just carried out by the Jakarta government. The Jakarta administration however has been asked to protect communities from forced evictions.
"Ensure there are no more forced evictions, because [Baswedan] signed a political contract with several urban kampongs [residential areas] such as the Fish Market. There was a political pledge not to evict them. So they must ensure that there are no more evictions and there will be no forced evictions by anyone else", said Nelson.
Nelson citied several other parties which have carried out forced evictions such as the TNI (Indonesian military), Polri (Indonesian police) and private companies. There are three locations in the city were evictions are planned which are the current focus of LBH Jakarta's attention.
"We can see that Kodam (Jaya) [the Jakarta Military Command] is evicting [communities]. Then there is a company in Ciracas, then there is a company in Cilincing, and then there is the Kapuk Poglar community that Polda (Metro Jaya) [police] want to evict", said Nelson.
Nelson said the thing that is similar in these three locations is that they were not a base of support for Baswedan and his former running mate Sandiaga Uno during the Jakarta gubernatorial election.
Baswedan must prove that he will behave justly towards residents even if they did not vote for him in the election.
"Political affiliations are not the same as being governor, there's been a lack of attention. Ciracas is still happening, and there's been a summons from Bareskrim Polri [police criminal investigation bureau], the governor must intervene", said Nelson. (aik/rvk)
One of the reasons former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama alienated many of Jakarta's poor was his forced eviction of slum dwellers which the administration argued was necessary to clear river banks and prevent flooding. During the religiously and ethnically divisive gubernatorial election in 2017, Baswedan took advantage of this resentment by pledging to end forced evictions.
Hannah Beech, Jambi When the flowers could no longer summon the gods, the healer knew it was time to leave the forest.
As a traditional healer of the Orang Rimba, or forest people, here on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, Temenggung Tarip had long depended on jungle blooms to conjure the divine for his seminomadic indigenous community. An offering of colorful petals would bring the elephant god, skilled at curing toothaches, or the tiger god, helpful for those who had lost their way.
But timber, rubber, paper and palm oil plantations have encroached on the forests of Indonesia. Since 2000, about 15 percent of the nation's tree cover has disappeared.
In Jambi, the central Sumatran province that is home to a few thousand Orang Rimba, the amount of deforestation is even higher, at 32 percent since the turn of the century, according to Global Forest Watch.
With the land defiled, the flowers no longer worked their magic, Mr. Tarip said. The gods did not come. Toothaches remained unhealed. "We didn't protect the forest, so the forest didn't protect us," he said.
Over the past decade, most of the forest people of Jambi, Mr. Tarip included, have emerged from the jungle, driven both by the rampant deforestation and an Indonesian government policy to settle these tribes of hunter-gatherers and farmers.
A court ruling five years ago was supposed to protect the right of indigenous peoples to live undisturbed in their native habitat, but corporate farming continued to encroach on the national park the Orang Rimba called home.
Last month, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia signed a moratorium on new palm oil plantation development throughout the country for the next three years.
Now, only about 1,000 Orang Rimba families still live in the rain forest. Particularly destructive to their way of life were the fires agro-industrialists set to clear the forests for plantations. Choking fumes drifted over Orang Rimba land. The wild animals that formed the backbone of their diet, along with wild yams, could not survive among the monoculture plantations. Hunger stalked the Orang Rimba.
Since leaving the forest eight years ago, Mr. Tarip, who estimates that he is about 60, has converted to Islam, the dominant religion of Indonesia. On national identity cards, a necessity for life outside the jungle, all Indonesians must select one from among six faiths. Animist flower worship is not among the choices.
Today, Mr. Tarip lives with his wife, Putri Tija Sanggul, in a concrete shell in Sarolangun, a three-day walk from the wilderness that used to be their home. The only reminder of nature in their new house is a bunch of purple orchids that cascades down a wall. The flowers are plastic.
Missionaries, both Muslim and Christian, have tried to ease the transition to what the Orang Rimba call "the outside." Beyond the obvious differences concrete walls, processed food, brightly colored plastic the outside is confounding in other ways.
The forest was cool, sunlight barely penetrating the dense foliage. Concrete, by contrast, holds the heat. Sleeping in the stuffy confines of his home is something to which Mr. Tarip is still not accustomed.
Ms. Sanggul, Mr. Tarip's wife, often claws at the veil around her head and hitches up her dress to air her legs. She is a princess of her Orang Rimba tribe, and her noble lineage meant she could conjure the forest spirits with ease until one day, she said, she couldn't. "The gods took away my gift," Ms. Sanggul said.
As a community leader, one who lives in a proper concrete house with plastic flowers, Mr. Tarip was hailed by a former governor of Jambi as a role model for the Orang Rimba. He has ridden in an elevator and in an airplane, which took him to Mecca for an all-expenses-paid pilgrimage.
The Saudi desert, sere and brown, was about as different from the verdant rain forest as Mr. Tarip could imagine. But it confirmed his faith, even if several of his grandchildren are Christian. "Mecca is real," he said. "The rest is just stories." Image
Nevertheless, Mr. Tarip still respects indigenous traditions. Four of his daughters and three of his sons remain in the jungle, and he knows that by visiting them he could compromise their communion with nature.
The list of Orang Rimba taboos is long and includes soap, fried chicken and certain clothes like the Muslim prayer cap Mr. Tarip now wears. Perfume is also prohibited. "The gods don't like artificial smells," Mr. Tarip said.
Mr. Tarip's conversion was facilitated by his son-in-law, Rahmat, who is from the outside. The child of a family of transmigrasi settlers from crowded parts of Indonesia who were given government incentives to work the land in remote places like Sarolangun Mr. Rahmat said he grew up not certain whether the Orang Rimba were human or not.
"They stole fruit from us," he said. "So we taught them the Quran and they learned how to be better."
Mr. Rahmat, who goes by one name, married Mr. Tarip's daughter in 2012. He is a member of the Islamic Defenders Front, a professed morality force that has raided nightclubs and other places deemed un-Islamic.
Dressed in white robes, members of the Islamic Defenders Front lead mass conversions of the forest people and march through villages of settled Orang Rimba to remind them to pray five times a day.
But piety is a cheap commodity in some villages where the Orang Rimba now live. "I don't know why I am a Muslim but I am," said Rokima, an elderly Orang Rimba woman who lives in a wooden shack.
A picture of Mecca decorated one of her walls but Ms. Rokima, who also goes by one name, said she had no idea what the photograph, a gift from a local official, meant. "I had my own gods in the forest but I cannot go back to the forest because there is no forest left anymore," she said, of her birthplace by a river.
Even Mr. Rahmat, Mr. Tarip's son-in-law, admitted his own wife was an imperfect convert. She maintains a preference for wild pig, a forbidden meat in Islam. Mohammed Asrul, a transmigrasi village chief from Nyogan village in Jambi, is also married to an Orang Rimba woman. More forest people should follow his wife's path, he said. "They will only make progress if they marry outsiders," he said.
To survive on the outside, Mr. Tarip has planted rubber and oil palm on some of his customary land, which he owns because of his indigenous status, even though he knows the crop is responsible for destroying his old way of life.
The tenacious root structures of the African oil palm make it hard for other plants to flourish, even after the crop cycle is done. Pesticides used to maintain the plantations despoil rivers, even as they have contributed to a product that feeds a global hunger for cheap snacks, cosmetics and biofuel.
Worst of all, oil palms, with their blood-red fruit, do not produce colorful blooms. "The gods like fancy flowers," Mr. Tarip said. "They are angry when no one brings them flowers."
A Muh Ibnu Aqil, Jakarta Serving for almost a year as governor, Anies Baswedan and his administration has been applauded by the city's urban poor groups for involving them more in policies that affect them, but critics have questioned the effectiveness of his programs.
For members of the Jakarta Urban Poor Network (JRMK), Urban Poor Consortium (UPC), Jakarta Pedicab Driver Union (Sebaja), Ancol Street Vendors Association (KOPEKA Ancol) and kampung residents, Anies, who will commemorate one-year since becoming the city's leader on Oct. 16, had made at least three achievements.
In their joint statements read out to the public in Kampung Rawa, Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta on Sunday, they pointed out Anies' village revitalization programs; establishment of pedicab waiting areas in Teluk Gong, North Jakarta, as well as mapping their operational routes in 16 areas; and guaranteeing security for KOPEKA vendors who operate inside Ancol Dreamland Park.
For the kampung revitalization programs, Anies issued Gubernatorial Decree No. 878/2018 on village management that listed up to 21 city villages to be rehabilitated by the administration, 15 of which have had their community action plans (CAP) prepared since May.
Anies for example had built the waiting areas in Kampung Kunir and Kampung Akuarium, two of the villages, whose residents were evicted in 2015 and 2016 respectively, while their villages are rebuilt according to the residents' aspirations outlined in their CAP.
JMRK coordinator Eny Rochayati said the group was satisfied with Anies' tenure as governor, but sometimes the working units (SKPD) might not in sync with Anies.
She said the administration had been trying to generate ideas from the residents themselves, although they were hindered by lower levels of bureaucracy.
"People in the lower bureaucracy, such as the district head or subdistrict heads sometimes say that there has been no instruction from above, [in turn] neighborhood unit and community unit heads also say there is no instruction from subdistrict head," Eny told reporters on Sunday.
She said those officials were used to top-down bureaucracy. "Now we are encouraging to switch to a bottom-up model," Eny said.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan who attended the event said he appreciated the acknowledgement by the urban poor groups, adding that his administration wanted to rehabilitate city villages together with their residents.
"We have achieved several things, although we're not finished yet as it has only been a year. This is a good start. In the future, we will do everything that we have committed to one by one," Anies said.
However, not all agree with the groups. An urbanist from Trisakti University, Yayat Supriatna, said the administration's flagship programs, such as the zero-rupiah down payment program, OK Otrip rebrand, city village rehabilitation or river naturalization project were still up in the air without concrete policies.
"So, we are waiting for Anies' concrete and visible policies. The residents are waiting for that as well," Yayat told The Jakarta Post.
He said the governor should speed things up and implement clear-cut policies, such as on the village rehabilitation program that he thought takes too long a process because of the multiple teams that work on them.
"Just make one example as the best practice [for village rehabilitation]," he said, adding that the bottom-up paradigm that the administration tried in the village rehabilitation program might take too long to process because too many ideas needed to be taken into account.
John Duerden, Kuala Lumpur On September 23, Haringga Sirla, a Persija Jakarta fan, did what tens of thousands of Indonesians do every weekend: he went to watch his favorite football team play in a match.
Soon after making the 117 kilometer journey southeast from the capital to the city of Bandung, however, he was set upon at the local stadium by a group of rival fans and beaten to death with rocks, sticks and planks.
At least 16 suspects were detained in connection with the killing, which was captured on shaky mobile phone footage, news reports said.
In the days following the Sirla's death, Indonesia Soccer Association chairman Edy Rahmayadi said that the death was the league's 95th football related death since 2005.
The league temporarily suspended match play in response but observers expect more fan violence when matches resume without significant changes to how games are policed.
The league's struggle with hooliganism dates back even further than 2005, giving it Indonesia the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous place in Asia to watch a football game.
But Sirla's death drew more attention than previous fatalities, with Indonesian President Joko Widodo weighing in to say enough is enough.
"This keeps happening," said Widodo in remarks to the press. "There needs to be a firm commitment from all parties that this will not be repeated."
Whether the death will spur change is still in question for a league, known locally as PSSI, that has long been a source of controversy. The situation has become so violent that some teams' best players have resorted to traveling in armored personnel carriers to games, news reports said.
Persib, who regularly attract more than 20,000 fans in a league that this year has an average attendance of just under 11,000, have been ordered to play all their remaining home games on the distant island of Borneo.
Widodo wants a more fundamental change to the league's policing and management, however. "Sanctions do not guarantee anything. The most important point is that the Ministry [of Youth and Sports], PSSI and supporters groups sit down together to work out what is wrong."
There will be plenty to talk about. Harinnga was said to have been killed by 'Vikings', members of a Persib Bandung supporter groups with an estimated 100,000 members.
Such groups, similar in nature to the hooligan gangs that sparked violence at English Premier League games, have a strong culture of supporting their team and participating in long-running feuds with other clubs.
They also can give young men a sense of belonging. Increasingly however, the violence seems to be driven by hooligans enjoying hooliganism. "This is not about football anymore," said local commentator Dex Glenniza. "They are just criminals."
Still, the mass popularity of football in Indonesia has attracted politicians or those with political ambitions to particular teams.
For instance, Rahmayadi, PSSI chairman since 2016, was inaugurated as North Sumatra governor in September this year. Over the years, other politicians have helped run the game.
That's led to allegations and complaints that politicians are too distracted with their public functions to properly manage the privately-run league. In particular, fans feel that PSSI has done little to nothing to prevent escalating hooliganism.
"Football violence in Indonesia is so common because football match management is bad by PSSI and the police," said Fajar Junaedi, a professor at Universitas Muhamadiyah Yogyakarta who has studied fan culture in the country.
"Fans have no trust in the PSSI but the violence is just one of many problems in Indonesian football such as corruption, amateur management of football clubs and political intervention in the game," he said.
Corruption has been a long-standing problem. Nurdin Halid, a former PSSI president, was convicted twice on corruption charges in the previous decade.
So blatant was political interference in the league that the world governing body FIFA suspended Indonesia from international match play in 2015, after which the government shut down PSSI and announced it would set up its own association. The ban was lifted last year.
There have been accusations of a more general lack of organization and coordination on game days. The PSSI tends to leave it to clubs to police the behavior of their own fans. Traveling supporters can be left to their own devices when arriving at the stadium where their teams are scheduled to play.
"The PSSI see violence as inevitable so they do nothing," said Persija Jakarta fan Gunter Said. "They hand out a few punishments that do little to actually solve the problem.
"Really, they are not that interested in looking at the basic problems because they are part of the problem too. It is easier to [just] talk."
England's experience, some suggest, may offer a solution. Hooliganism was rife there in the 1970s and 1980s due to poor policing.
A series of fatal disasters culminated in the 1989 crushing deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at Sheffield Stadium, in what became known as the Hillsborough disaster.
The inquest into that tragedy laid the foundation for the creation of modern all-seater stadiums and a move away from the violence of the past. Though it's not clear yet Indonesia's PSSI is headed in that safer direction.
"This is not the case in Indonesia, we have to learn from other countries whether in England or Asia and not just accept this," Said added. "Suspending the league is only a step in the right direction if it helps bring about fundamental change but I am not confident that will happen."
English stadiums are a great deal safer and the English Premier League is now the most popular and lucrative in the world. Nobody is expecting an overnight transformation in Indonesia, but clearly more needs to be done so that fans can cheer their teams without fear of violence.
Jakarta On Saturday afternoon, October 13th, around 50 women's rights organizations, grassroots organizations, farmer organizations and workers from all over Asia gathered at Padang Galak Beach in Bali, Indonesia to criticize The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a Balinese ceremony called Larung Ceremony.
During the ceremony, the women affected by the development project funded by the World Bank or supported by the IMF, gathered to express prayers and hopes for a better future. This was done by symbolically giving Balinese offerings at sea.
Sringatin, Chairperson of the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union, said, "For decades The World Bank and IMF facilitate land grabbing, privatize public services and weaken protection policies for workers. This causes women to lose land, suffer from very expensive public services, so they are forced to do informal work or migrate abroad. "
Wardarina, a Program Staff from Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) said, "The World Bank and IMF often overlook the political, social and economic impacts of their policies towards society, especially for women who work as farmers, migrant workers, poor women and indigenous peoples. Both institutions seized our resources that should be part of our social protection. "
"Our hope to do this ceremony is so that the world can understand our struggle as women [and what we] face every time. We want to invite everyone to unite with us and protect our rights. We want to explain that the 'development' project that the World Bank and IMF doing is wrong and is not the development that women want, " said Titi Soentoro from Action for Gender, Social and Ecological Justice, Indonesia, which is also is a member of APWLD.
The Tolak Bala ceremony was followed by the Feminist Carnival event which was held on the 14th October, in which the women's community gave testimony about forced eviction, land grabbing, and lack of access to public services. This testimonial was presented in various forms such as speeches, poetry readings and art shows.
Various women's rights organizations stated that they are strongly oppose neoliberalism driven by the World Bank and IMF because it will only exacerbate inequality and cause violation of women's rights. They asked world governments to move towards fair and sustainable economic model, namely Development Justice, which prioritizes community interests and protect human rights.
Ni Komang Erviani and Dyaning Pangestika, Jakarta and Nusa Dua Police arrested and later released six activists protesting the 2018 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Group in Bali.
The activists are from an alliance called Gerak Lawan (the Civil Movement Against Neocolonialism and Imperialism).
Dhyta Caturani, one of the activists and the founder of One Billion Rising Indonesia, said they were arrested on Thursday morning and released the same day.
"They were arrested [in the] morning, and released this evening after Gerak Lawan's lawyers intervened," she told The Jakarta Post through a WhatsApp text message on Friday.
South Denpasar Police chief Comr. I Nyoman Wirajaya denied that any arrests took place.
"These activists entered Sanur Beach without permission and provoked the public by distributing pamphlets and pictures related to the anti-IMF and World Bank movement, causing people to resent them and chase them away," Nyoman said.
He added that least 20 activists had been protesting but all of them ran away, leaving only the six behind. Police officers, who happened to patrol the area at the time, decided to take the remaining activists to the police station, Nyoman added.
"We didn't arrest them. They were the ones who asked for our help," he said, adding that the police only interrogated the activists for an hour and released them afterwards.
Nusa Dua, Bali An alternative conference on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank's annual meeting this week in Indonesia has been cancelled due to pressure from national police, activists said Thursday.
The planned event set to kick off Thursday the "Peoples' Global Conference against IMF-WB" has had its approval yanked by police, and the venue organizer cancelled, organizers said.
"While the local police has already issued a recommendation in favor of holding the conference, the national police is now using the local village leadership and paramilitary saying that no event can be held without its permission," organizers of the Peoples' Global Conference said in a statement.
The alternative conference, which had attracted around 300 registrants from Indonesia and around the world, was to bring together dozens of civil society groups to draw attention to the impact of free trade and IMF-WB backed policies that critics say aggravate income inequality, abuse labor rights and hurt the environment.
Organizers said police intelligence personnel had infiltrated the event planning team as volunteers, subjecting them to intimidation and constant surveillance.
Hoax banners of the event carrying logos of terror-linked organizations as co-sponsors also appeared around the planned venue in Dangin Puri Kangin village, near the island's capital Denpasar, the organizers said.
"They are trying to intimidate and even ban our democratic activity in relation to the World Bank and IMF," Kurniawan Sabar, an organizer from the Peoples' Global Conference, told AFP. "We were having the conference to discuss how IMF and World Bank projects affect people."
Indonesia's national police could not immediately be reached for comment.
Thousands of security personnel have fanned out around key venues in Nusa Dua, just south of Bali's main international airport, with some 32,000 delegates, including finance ministers and central bankers, attending the IMF-World Bank meetings.
Delegates are focused on maintaining global growth amid increasing protectionist sentiment and escalating trade tensions between China and US. Sabar said the Peoples' Global Conference was looking for an alternate venue and was in negotiations with police in Bali.
Seulki Lee, Jakarta While the 2018 annual meeting of IMF-World Bank Groups entered its third day in Nusa Dua Bali, the parallel global civil society conference has been hassled by local venue organizers in Bali due to central government's ban of public events in Bali during the IMF-WBG Annual meetings.
"The Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI) and Nirmala Hotel management team have cancelled our meeting venue reservation last minute. We were told that this was because our meeting is anti-IMF and against Indonesian national policy of hosting international meetings," said Kurniawan Sabar from the organising committee for People's Global Conference against IMF-WBG meetings (PGC).
The PGC is a civil society conference outside of the official IMF-WBG Annual Meetings in Bali to discuss the impacts of IMF-World Bank's policies to people and communities with more than 300 Indonesian and global civil society representatives.
After six months of preparation, the conference was expected to held in October 12-14, RRI Bali auditorium but was cancelled in October 10. "They didn't submit the national police permit to organize the event so we cancelled the reservation," said Edi from RRI management team in Bali.
But the organising committee of PGC blamed last minute demand of the national police permission while they have notified their event with Bali regional police recommendation letter to central police office twice for last three months.
Nirmala Hotel, the alternative venue of the PGC's two-day meeting after RRI's rejection of hosting also have cancelled the reservation to support IMF-WBG Annual meetings in Bali.
International participants are concerned about shrinking civic space and curving people's rights in Bali during IMF-WBG meetings. "We feel tensed and worried about the situation. While we have our basic democratic rights of assembly and expression, we still have to respect the law of concerning country," said Balgram from All Nepal Peasant Federation, who came to Bali to attend PGC.
The local police officer also expressed difficulties in handling the conflicting situation in Bali during the IMF-WBG Annual meetings.
"Some just want peaceful event hosting and some wants to speak up against the IMF-World Bank event. We feel difficulties in between these two opposing demands," said Jamar, the director of Intelligence unit in Bali regional police office.
Rio Apinino Police have closed down the Peoples' Global Conference Against the IMF-World Bank which should have opened earlier today at the Radio Republic Indonesia (RRI) Auditorium in Denpasar, Bali.
As its name suggests, the conference opposes the annual International Monetary Fund-World Bank meeting which is currently being held in Nusa Dua, Bali.
The event, organised by the People's Movement Against the IMF-WB which his made up of a number of Indonesian non-government and social organisations was to have several discussion panels on a variety of themes broadly aimed at trying to present an alternative to the narrative promoted by the IMF and World Bank.
The event however had to be cancelled after being blocked by police. Agrarian Reform Movement Alliance (AGRA) chairperson Rahmat Ajiguna, who is on the conference organising committee, explained to Tirto that up until the evening of October 10 all of the preparations for the event had proceeded smoothly. All of the technical issues related to the conference had been completed.
"But in the end, the venue was cancelled by the RRI management", Rahmat told Tirto on Thursday morning.
The organisers attempted to find an alternative venue and finally found one at the Nirmala Hotel & Convention Centre, also located in the capital Denpasar.
Once again however, the event was cancelled by the hotel management at the last minute on the grounds that the organisers did not have a permit from police. After being pushed on the issue, said Rahmat, they admitted that "the hotel had been approached by police intel [intelligence officers] and were told that we are not allowed to hold the event there".
The conference participants were not just from Indonesia but also included international guests. Several international organizations were to take part including, among others, the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants, the Asia Pacific Research Network, the Asian Peasant Coalition, the Indigenous Peoples' Movement for Self Determination and Liberation and People Over Profit.
Rahmat said that all of the participants agreed that the IMF-World Bank annual meetings brought no benefits to the majority of people. In fact they result in the majority of the world's people "falling into poverty, hunger, unemployment and long-term suffering. It's like they [the IMF-World Bank] are the gods that determine humanity's lives from the beds they sleep in to their [lives] outside the home", he added.
The participants were only told about the cancelation when they arrived at the venue. They then formed a line holding banners in front of the hotel lobby and give speeches, which resulting in an argument between the participants and the hotel management.
When hotel security personnel tried to remove them one of the overseas guests said, "You're working class. You should be with us!"
In the end they were forced to disband and participants are now trying to find an alternate venue so that the conference can still go ahead.
Rizal Assalam, one of the conference guests, said that the "operation" against the conference had in fact being going on for several days.
On October 7, Peoples' Global Conference posters appeared on WhatsApp with the logo of the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), yet the alliance has no links with the radical Islamic organisation which was outlawed by the government last year.
"Then on October 8, at the Puputan Margarana park [in Renon, Denpasar], out protest action was forcibly broken up by intel officers who claimed to be local residents. Police continued to harass [us] until the action disbanded and while participants waited to be picked up to leave the location", Rizal told Tirto.
"On the evening of October 10, police came to the Bali LBH [Legal Aid Foundation]. Students who were staying overnight there were ordered to leave", he added.
Earlier this morning, Rizal said, several police officers were also at the Nirmala Hotel & Convention Centre taking pictures of the participants.
Denpasar Police arrested and later released five activists from the Community Resistance Movement (Komunitas Gerak Lawan) to prevent them from holding a protest action against the annual IMF-World Bank meeting in Bali.
The arrests were made on Thursday October 11 at around 10.30am to preempt a rally that was to be held at the Sindu traffic light intersection in Sanur, South Denpasar.
The five activists arrested by police were: Afgan Fadilah, Aliza yuliana, Jati Tua Ericson Sitohang, Fikerman Leodireco Saragih and Danar Yuditya Pratama.
Based on information gathered by Radar Bali, the activists said they were members of the Free Bali Group (Kelompok Bali Mardika) which is based at the Jati Jagad offices located on Jl. Cok Agung Tresna in front of the TVRI Denpasar building.
After police obtained information about the planned action they conducted a raid on the offices. "Initially there were around 25 people at the Jati Jagad, Jalan Cok Agung Tresna, Denpasar. After the raid by police, five people were arrested, meanwhile several others escaped", said a source.
The five were then taken to the South Denpasar sectoral police headquarters (Mapolsek) for questioning.
During the raid police found pamphlets and other materials which were to be used at the protest such as masks, banners and head-bands. Police also confiscated materials written in several languages including Indonesian, English, French, Spanish and German.
When sought for confirmation, South Denpasar sectoral police (polsek) chief Police Commander Nyoman Wirajaya confirmed the arrests. "That's right, currently they are still being interrogated", he said briefly.
Wirajaya explained that police arrested the activists after they received a report from local resident that they were planning a demonstration.
"They were arrested then we took them to polsek. Because local people were angry", said Wirajaya, adding that they had planned to hold a rally against the International Monetary Fund-World Bank meeting.
After being questioned, the activists were allowed to return home although the materials seized during the raid remained at the police headquarters.
"They're not allowed to hold such activities. There are laws which regulate this. They can't just do as they please. They didn't have a permit, there was no notification submitted to security personnel that they were to use the beach", said Wirajaya. (rb/pra/dre/mar/mus/JPR)
According to a Jakarta Post article on October 13, police denied making any arrests saying that the activists "provoked" the public by distributing materials against the IMF-World Bank meeting on Sanur Beach. After local people chased most of them away, police decided to take the remaining activists to police headquarters.
Nusa Dua, Bali A group of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) has called for a moratorium or a halt in new projects funded with foreign loans and a thorough audit into past and ongoing infrastructure projects.
Indonesia Forum for the Environment (Walhi) campaign head Khalisah Khalid said the World Bank should be held accountable for the disbursement of the foreign loans.
"The practices by the World Bank have led to human right violation, environmental damage and poverty," Khalisah said in a statement after the People's Summit on Alternative Development in Sanur, Bali, on Tuesday.
The People's Summit was held to counter the International Monetary Fund IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings in Nusa Dua, half an hour's drive from Sanur.
Arimbi Heroepoetri from Debt Watch said the World Bank had operated in Indonesia for nearly five decades and there had been no audit into its performance or into projects and policies it had sponsored.
"Audits is crucial for the Indonesian government to know if loans are proven effective or proven to have damaged the environment and violated human rights," she added.
The civil society organizations plan to convey their demands, set out in a joint communique to be handed over to representatives of the IMF, World Bank and Indonesian government during the "IMF & World Bank Civil Society Town Hall Meeting" scheduled for Wednesday.
Desy Setyowati Civil society organisations will hold a People's Summit on Alternative Development on October 8-10 in Sanur, Bali. Through the event, activists will demand accountability from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank annual meeting, which is also being held in Bali.
According to International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) member Hamong Santono, the IMF and the World Bank have a long history of involvement in development projects in Indonesia.
"However there has been no meaningful resolution [of problems] in the interests of society or the environment", Hamong was quoted as saying in a press release received by Kata Data on October 6.
Without citing an example, Hamong said that projects funded by World Bank loans often have a negative impact on society and the environment.
He also urged the Indonesian government to take advantage of the IMF-World Bank meeting to discuss the larger issues that Indonesia is incapable of resolving itself, such as the flow of illicit money and asset recover. "This is so this year's meeting will truly provide benefits for Indonesia", he was quoted as saying.
A similar view was articulated by debtWATCH Indonesia activist Diana Gultom. "There has never been any genuine process of liability", she said.
Diana gave as an example the construction of the Kedung Ombo dam in Central Java which was built during the era of former president Suharto and other IMF recommendations to the Indonesian government through a series of LoI (Letters of Intent). "This has continued to have a negative impact to this day".
Indonesian forum for the Environment (Walhi) Bali activist Suriadi Darmokodari meanwhile questioned why Bali's economic problems are not being discussed at the IMF-World Bank meeting.
"What has happened is a repressive approach with the unexplained removal of Bali Rejects Reclamation (BTR) billboards opposing the reclamation of the Benoa Bay", he said.
Institute for Public Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) deputy director Andi Mutaqqin meanwhile criticised the World Bank safeguards policy which were put into place on October 1, named the ESF (Environmental Social Framework). According to Andi, this new policy has the potential to create human rights violations and damage to the environment.
On the one hand, Andi said that national laws which cover these projects are not enough to provide protection to the environment or communities which are impacted upon. "How else could it be when national legal standards are far below the World Bank's standard safeguards", he said.
Centre for Welfare Studies (Perkumpulan Prakarsa) director Ah Maftuchan said he is disappointed that a number of agenda items at the IMF-World Bank meeting are closed to the public, yet Indonesia is the host for the event.
He also hopes that the government will not seek new loans from the two institutions following the meeting. "Indonesia must stop digging a hole and filling a hole with debt. No matter who is in government, if the character and practices remain the same, there will be no change", he said.
Separately, former finance minister M Chatib Basri said that the "great event" will not inflate government debt. Through these international forums, the government in fact is able to fight for its own agenda and ideas so that they are heard by policy makers in the financial sector.
"In order to ask for additional loans, you don't need to be the host [country]. Argentina has asked the IMF for loans this year because of the [economic] crisis, they weren't the hosts", he said on his Twitter account @ChatibBasri.
Riza Roidila Mufti, Jakarta Statistics Indonesia (BPS) announced on Monday that the country recorded a trade surplus of US$230 million in September following month-to-month (mtm) deficits $1.02 billion in August and $2.03 billion in July.
In September, both imports and exports declined. Exports decreased 6.58 percent mtm to $14.83 billion in September, from the figure in August, which was recorded at $15.82 billion. In September, oil and gas imports decreased 25.20 percent to $2.28 billion from $3.05 billion in August.
Meanwhile, $14.60 billion imports were recorded, a decrease of 13.18 percent mtm from the figure in August. The import of goods such as rice, beef, grapes and whole meal saw significant decreases.
BPS distribution and service deputy Yunita Rusanti, however, said the trade deficit stood at $3.78 billion from January to September.
"Cumulatively, the deficit is still pretty big. Indeed, the September surplus was small, but hopefully it is a good sign for the months ahead," she said.
Yunita said the impact of the government's move to reduce imports could be seen in October's trade balance, which would be announced, next month.
Among the efforts to reduce imports included the mandatory use of 20 percent biodiesel mix (B20) with the hope of saving $5.9 billion in oil and gas imports and the introduction of higher import taxes on consumer goods. (bbn)
Jakarta (Antara) The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is holding a "Walk for Peace and Humanity: The Joint Walk to Independence for Palestine" to continue supporting the struggle of the Palestinian people in their efforts to realize independence.
"We are walking together this morning to show that Palestinians will never be alone in their struggle for independence. The Palestinian dream is the Indonesian dream too," Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in remarks at the event in Jakarta on Sunday.
Together with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al Maliki, Chairman of the House's Commission I Abdul Kharis Almasyhari, interfaith and community leaders, as well as more than 2,000 Indonesian people, the Indonesian Foreign Minister walked along 1.2 kilometers to the end of the Welcome Monument at the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout.
"The road to the Welcome Monument becomes a symbol of Indonesia's solidarity, support and commitment with Palestine towards our goal, so that we can welcome an independent Palestinian state," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said. "The Walk for Peace and Humanity" activity was held to strengthen solidarity and deepen the understanding of the wider community of Indonesia's contribution and role for the struggle for Palestinian independence.
The activity is expected to show Indonesia's support across cultural, religious and social settings for the Palestinian cause. The joint walk program was also filled with public interaction between the two Foreign Ministers and enlivened the appearance of the capital's artists and poetry readings supporting Palestine.
The joint walk is part of a series of events for the Indonesian Solidarity Week for Palestine organized by the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for October 13-17 2018, and coincides with the visit of the Palestinian Foreign Minister to Indonesia.
This activity is part of the continuation of Indonesia's commitment to Palestine and is aimed at increasing the understanding and care of the Indonesian people for the struggle of the Palestinian people.
Jakarta Indonesia's fruit exports increased by 24 percent in September from the same month last year, according to the Agriculture Ministry.
The ministry's fruit and floriculture director, Sarwo Edhy, said that most export recipients were non-tropical countries, where demand had shifted toward organic fruits.
"Our top fruit exports included mangoes, bananas, snake fruits, oranges, maNGOsteen, pineapples and rambutans," said Sarwo on Friday as reported by kontan.co.id.
At the same time, fruit imports have decreased almost 30 percent to US$91.5 million in September from $130.7 million in the same month last year.
"Our production is increasing and Indonesians generally don't fancy imported fruits other than, for instance, dates and grapes," he said.
The ministry expects Indonesia's overall fruit exports in 2018 to increase by 9 percent compared to 2017. Fruit exports already increased by 7.5 percent from 2016 to 2017.
Concurring with the ministry, Hasan Johnny Widjaja, chairman of the Indonesian Fruit and Vegetables Export Association, said his organization had also enjoyed an increase in exports this year.
"Our exports to China have increased after it eased regulations," said Hasan. (nor/bbn)
Clyde Russell, Launceston, Australia Indonesia wants to export more coal in order to earn U.S. dollars to shore up its faltering currency, but the problem is buyers don't seem to be hearing the message.
Indonesia's coal exports dropped to 24.8 million tonnes in September, down 12.4 percent from August's 28.3 million tonnes and 10 percent from 27.6 million tonnes in the same month last year, according to vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Refinitiv.
If the drop isn't worrying enough, it comes even as the price of lower-grade Indonesian coal is at its widest discount to higher-quality Australian thermal coal.
Indonesia is planning to increase its 2018 output of coal to around 507 million tonnes, up from a previous target of 485 million tonnes. The aim is to convert the additional U.S. dollars from sales of the polluting fuel into rupiah, which has dropped about 12 percent so far this year against the U.S. currency.
In theory, importers should be keen to ramp up purchases of Indonesian coal, as the massive discount to Australian cargoes more than compensates for the lower energy value.
The price of thermal coal at Australia's Newcastle port, as assessed by Argus Media, was $112.25 a tonne in the week ended Oct. 5.
Low-rank Indonesian coal, with an energy content of 4,200 kilocalories per kilogram (kcal/kg), was at $38.88 a tonne at the end of the same week, according to Argus.
This represents a discount of $73.37 a tonne the widest on record, exceeding the $61.07 recorded in November 2016, according to the Argus data.
Even Indonesian coal with a similar energy content to Newcastle is trading at a fairly wide discount, with the Indonesian government's reference price, known as the HBA, set at $100.89 a tonne for October.
The HBA is a composite price made up equally of the Platts Kalimantan 5,900 kcal/kg assessments, the Argus-Indonesia Coal Index for 6,500 kcal/kg, Newcastle Export Index of 6,322 kcal/kg and the globalCOAL Newcastle grade of 6,000 kcal/kg.
In effect, the HBA index sets the price for much of Indonesia's thermal coal exports, and its discount to Newcastle should provide support for exports from the Southeast Asian nation.
Indonesia, the world's largest exporter of thermal coal used in power stations, has two major customers, China and India, the planet's two largest coal importers.
Chinese buyers mainly use Indonesian coal as a blending feedstock with domestic supplies, trading off a loss in energy value for lower sulphur and ash.
Indonesia's exports to China are up strongly in the first nine months of the year, reaching 89.7 million tonnes, 18.8 percent above the level for the same period last year, according to the ship-tracking data.
However, much of this strength was in the first quarter of 2018, and September marked a third month of declining imports from Indonesia.
China imported 7.5 million tonnes from Indonesia in September, down sharply from August's 9.7 million tonnes, making it the weakest month so far this year.
The news on India's imports isn't quite as bad for Indonesian exporters, with September's 7.1 million tonnes down slightly from August's 7.4 million tonnes.
However, for the first nine months of the year, India's imports from Indonesia have been relatively flat, dropping fractionally to 57.8 million tonnes from 58.2 million in the same period in 2017.
What may be worrying for Indonesian coal exporters is that their rivals seem to be gaining on them in India, while they stand still.
India bought 12.5 million tonnes of coal from the United States in the January-September period, up 49 percent on the 8.4 million tonnes imported in the same period last year.
From South Africa, India imported 25.9 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2018, up 16 percent from 22.4 million tonnes in the same period a year ago.
Although the overwhelming majority of Australia's coal exports to India are coking coal used in steel-making, it's worth noting that these are also up in the first nine months of 2018, climbing to 34.7 million tonnes compared to 30.4 million tonnes in the same period last year.
What the numbers are showing is that Indonesia is likely to struggle to ramp up exports of its mainly low-rank thermal coal, as there doesn't seem to be appetite among buyers, even though the discount to higher-grade fuel is as wide as it has ever been.
Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, Nusa Dua, Bali The government canceled on Wednesday its plan to increase the price of subsidized Premium gasoline or the price based on public service obligation (PSO), minutes after Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan announced there would be an increase.
The cancellation was confirmed by State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Rini Soemarno minutes after Jonan's statement.
"We need to discuss it first, for now only [prices of] Pertamax series will be increased. Pertamina is not ready [to increase the price of Premium]," she said over the phone.
Rini said her side and state-owned energy holding company Pertamina had not been informed by Jonan about the plan to increase the price of Premium fuel.
During a press conference, Jonan said the government would increase the price of Premium gasoline, the cheapest fuel in the country, by around 7 percent throughout the country.
Jonan said in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Wednesday that the price increase could start as early as 6 p.m. on Wednesday or depending on the readiness of state-owned energy holding company Pertamina to implement the policy.
Jonan said the decision was made after the price of oil reached around US$80 dollar per barrel oil, an increase of 30 percent, since January.
"For Java, Madura and Bali the price will be increased from Rp 6,550 per liter to Rp 7,000 per liter. Meanwhile, in other places it will increase from Rp 6,450 per liter to Rp 6,900 per liter," he said during his visit while attending the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings.
"I want to ask for people's understanding [regarding this decision], as after all, a 7 percent increase is much lower than the hike in global oil prices." (bbn)
Jakarta State-owned oil and gas holding company Pertamina has announced a price increase for several types of non-public service obligation (PSO) fuels, which will take effect at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
However, the firm has assured that it would maintain fuel prices in the disaster-stricken areas of West Nus Tenggara and Central Sulawesi.
The new policy will impact Pertamax-branded gasoline, Dex biodiesel and non-PSO Biosolar diesel. Prices for PSO Premium-branded gasoline, PSO Biosolar diesel fuel, PSO-Biosolar diesel fuel and Pertalite gasoline will remain unchanged.
The increase was the result of rising global crude oil prices, which reached an average of US$80 per barrel, according to a statement issued by Pertamina on Wednesday.
The company added that the move was based on a ministerial regulation on the calculation of retail fuel prices.
Under the new policy, the new price for Pertamax in Jakarta is Rp 10,400 per liter, Pertamax Turbo Rp 12,250 per liter, Dex is now at 11,850 per liter, Dexlite 10,500 per liter and Non-PSO Biosolar is now Rp 9,800 per liter.
A complete list of fuel prices in other regions is available on Pertamina's official website: Pertamina.com/id/news-room/announcement/. (bbn)
Jakarta Bank Indonesia Governor Perry Warjiyo has said involving the private sector in financing the government's infrastructure projects could boost economic growth to 6.5 percent from around 5 percent at present.
In this vein, he said Tuesday's Indonesia Investment Forum in Nusa Dua, Bali, was expected to boost the role of private companies in financing infrastructure projects to reduce their reliance on the state budget.
In addition to boosting the economy, Perry said, private sector involvement in infrastructure development also had the potential to narrow the current account deficit, which has been blamed for the country's lack of resilience against external pressures.
"If infrastructure financing is sourced from private companies, foreign capital will enter," he added.
"This is [part of] the BI and OJK's [Financial Services Authority] concrete steps toward narrowing the current account deficit, while at the same time, boosting growth in the medium and long terms," said Perry. The central bank and the OJK organized the investment forum.
Another possible benefit from involving the private sector in financing infrastructure projects was that the domestic financial market would strengthen, as bonds and shares issues would expand opportunities for both domestic and foreign investors in infrastructure development.
Earlier, state-owned lender Bank Mandiri said that it would coordinate Rp 200 trillion (US$13.10 billion) in direct investments for 21 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) projects, which were expected to be approved on Thursday during the investment forum. (bbn)
Jakarta State-owned lender PT Bank Mandiri has given out Rp 165 trillion (US$10.9 million) this year for infrastructure projects within Indonesia for the construction of, among other things, highways, train tracks and buildings.
Mandiri risk management director Ahmad Siddik Badruddin said that the figure equaled around 15 percent of its total loans this year.
"State-owned companies play a very important role in national development," said Siddik during the Indonesia Business and Development (IBD) Expo in Surabaya, East Java, on Saturday as reported by Antara news agency.
He said that Mandiri had also doled out another Rp 160 trillion for the agriculture sector one of the largest contributors to GDP to fund everything from transmigrant farmers to industrial agriculture production.
Siddik cited his recent conversation with State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Rini Soemarno, who said that the SOEs were one of two government arms that supported national infrastructure aside from the annual state budget.
He added that the lender participated in the IBD Expo to attract and inspire millennials as a new generation of employees. "Around 60 to 70 percent of our current employees are millennials," said Siddik. (nor/bbn)
Dias Prasongko, Nusa Dua President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo said that the global economy is like the popular TV series, Game of Thrones. Widodo said there are similarities in which both have several great houses and great families who are fighting for the Iron Throne.
"There's the evil winter that aims to destroy the world, covering it with ice and destruction," Jokowi said in his address at the Plennary Meeting, Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center, Friday, October 12.
The fight for power, he added, results in victories and losses, as the battling great houses do not realize this great threat coming from the north.
In the global economy, Widodo remarked, the balance of power between advanced nations is cracked, with weak cooperation and coordination. This causes problems among emerging markets such as drastic oil price hikes and weakening currencies.
The battle further causes the creations of strong, fast-growing countries; as well as nations with weak and unstable growth. Trade wars escalate, and technology innovation shakes up industries,
"With these conditions and economic problems, I think it suffices to say that 'winter is coming'", he said.
President Jokowi closed his speech asking countries attending the IMF-World Bank meeting to cooperate. Widodo said that there is no value in victory when the whole world is destroyed.
Jakarta The rupiah weakened again on Monday as the currency was cited at 15,248 per United States dollar in a spot market at 10 a.m. on Monday, 0.34 percent lower than its position last Friday, as reported by Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, the Jakarta Interbank Spot Dollar Rate showed that the rupiah's exchange rate on Monday weakened 0.03 percent to Rp 15.246 per US dollar compared to its position on Friday.
The weakening was the result of the US dollar's strength against a number of world currencies, including the euro, said futures firm Monex Investindo Futures analyst Faisyal, adding that there were many negative sentiments in Europe, including Italian state budget issues and the debate on Brexit.
He also said the dollar's strengthening was triggered by the unknown whereabouts of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which sparked a dispute between the United States and Saudi Arabia, as the US accused Saudi Arabia of withholding information.
"The conflict causes fear among investors, who avoid holding onto risky assets like the rupiah," said Faisyal as reported by kontan.co.id.
He estimated the rupiah would be in the range between Rp 15,200 and Rp 15,280 on Monday. (bbn)
Shotaro Tani, Jakarta Despite criticism of the government for not doing enough in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi in late September, President Joko Widodo's personal efforts to comfort survivors and be seen leading the army could help him maintain his support base ahead of next year's elections.
More than 2,000 people were killed in the disaster and the death toll is still expected to rise, as search and rescue teams plow through the rubble in areas that had been inaccessible due to a lack of fuel and damaged roads.
Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, flew into Palu, capital of Central Sulawesi and one of the worst affected areas, twice within a week of the disaster, keen to show his support for survivors and that he was in the thick of rescue efforts.
Nonetheless, survivors have criticized the lack of help they received and the scant aid supplies coming their way, according to numerous media reports. It was only four days after the earthquake and tsunami struck that the Indonesian government officially announced the acceptance of foreign aid, but only for certain supplies such as water purifiers and electricity generators.
Indonesia sits above the seismically volatile Pacific Ring of Fire, where 90% of all earthquakes strike and 75% of all active volcanoes are located.
The country is no stranger to natural disasters. Widodo's predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had to deal with such catastrophes from the beginning of his tenure; the December 2004 tsunami hit Banda Aceh just months after his administration took office.
Yudhoyono visited the province several times, but was criticized for a lack of clear direction in recovery efforts. The president's approval rating fell to 69% in January 2005, from 80% in November.
Widodo appears well aware of how a natural disaster could make or break his campaign for a second term, with the opposition group of Prabowo Subianto keenly scrutinizing every move made by the administration, despite both camps announcing a suspension to campaigning in the disaster areas. The president was criticized for attending a lavish opening ceremony for the 18th Asian Games, which took place in Jakarta and Palembang shortly after a series of earthquakes struck the tourist island of Lombok, killing more than 500.
The president did not attend the closing ceremony in Jakarta, opting instead to watch a televised relay in Lombok with survivors.
"[Widodo] was seen handling the situation proactively with his visits [to Lombok]," said Ardian Sopa, researcher at polling company LSI-Denny JA. He said that of the 80% of respondents to a survey who were aware of the earthquake, 60% knew the president went to Lombok, of which 90% said they liked the fact that he had made the trip.
"So even though [this disaster] is a negative thing, by giving the public a perception that he is a proactive leader who pays attention on disasters, the effects on him are positive," Sopa said.
Symbolically, Widodo wore a camouflage jacket on his first visit to Palu, displaying that, as commander-in-chief of the National Armed Forces, he is in charge of rescue operations, according to a member of the ruling coalition.
Some have blamed the Widodo administration for cutting the budget for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, or BNPB over the years. Its budget for this year stands at 742 billion rupiah, an 80% drop from 2015.
This is despite Indonesia being named among the 33 countries and territories at highest risk of natural disasters by the United Nations University's World Risk Index.
In addition, the country was deemed to lack the infrastructure needed to facilitate swift rescue and aid operations, and as not having enough doctors and medical staff to treat survivors.
The high number of casualties in the Palu disaster was partly blamed on the failure of early tsunami warning systems to work properly. A network of 22 buoys that was deployed after the Aceh tsunami to assist early detection was found to have been defunct since 2012, due to vandalism and lack of maintenance.
But the opposition camp may hesitate to criticize the government over the system's failure.
"It might backfire on Prabowo," said Jun Honna, a professor at Japan's Ritsumeikan University and an expert in Indonesian politics. "The lack of disaster education as well as defunct early warning systems are a problem, but if the tsunami buoys were not working from 2012, this is still during Yudhoyono's time [as president]," Honna said.
Yudhoyono and his Democratic Party have aligned themselves with the Prabowo camp for the upcoming elections.
There have also been factions of anti-Widodo Islamic groups spreading theories that the spate of natural disasters Indonesia has endured in recent months is because Allah is angry with the president, who they deem to be not Muslim enough.
But experts said such identity politics, which were pivotal in ousting the incumbent in the Jakarta gubernatorial elections in 2017, would not be effective this time.
"With the choice of Ma'ruf Amin as vice president candidate, I think the escalation has been subdued. That is why campaign topics have shifted more toward economic issues which I think is positive," Sopa of LSI-Denny said.
Widodo is thought to have picked Amin, leader of the Indonesian Ulema Council and the country's top Muslim cleric, as his running mate to fend off allegations that he is not religious enough. Amin has stepped away from his duties while running for office.
Honna agreed that such criticism would have "little to no effect" on Widodo's campaign. "Provinces like Banten and West Java are important when it comes to Muslim votes, but Amin's appointment is having an effect on these areas," he said.
"Whether Jokowi's approval rating falls will depend on the economy. Should a further fall in the rupiah lead to inflation, angering his supporters in the low income base, then that has the potential to raise questions over his re-election hopes," he added.
Okky Madasari, Singapore So it's the time of the year again, from the end of September to October. And again we can expect some ridiculous controversies on the nation's darkest history, which continues to haunt us even as Indonesia celebrates this year the 20th anniversary of freeing itself from an authoritarian regime.
Cancellations of events to discuss the 1965 incidents and its aftermath in some places across the country with military and civilian officials seemingly throwing their support, and with successive governments turning a blind eye shows that support for the New Order regime's 32 years of lies remains strong.
The late Soeharto managed to shift the blame of the entire incidents during the Sep. 30 Oct. 1, 1965, on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), using the term "G30S/PKI" for the killings of generals, and maximized the incident to gain power. He effectively utilized the acronym for the "Sept. 30 movement/Indonesian Communist Party" and accompanying narrative to suppress freedom of expression, silence critics and crush any possible uprising which enabled him to hold on to power for over three decades since after the 1965-1966 mass killings.
The ghost of "G30S/PKI" still haunts the nation as many people, brainwashed for over 30 years, remain convinced in the narrative of Soeharto's heroic move to save the nation from a communist takeover.
It's beyond comprehension that the 1965-1966 upheaval and its aftermath that caused the slaughtering of hundreds of thousands, even millions of Indonesians the tragedy that became the foundation of Indonesia's New Order for so long have not been addressed adequately 20 years after the man responsible for the propaganda had stepped down and died.
While several studies have made it clear that the New Order's version of the mass killings is a big lie, successive post-Soeharto governments have done little to shed light into the tragedy
The biggest tragedy for Indonesia, however, is that these lies are preserved as the truth for the younger generation because the version described perfectly by the propaganda movie Pengkhianatan G30S PKI (Betrayal of G30S/PKI) remains in the school curriculum despite our reformasi era.
Have you ever asked our children, especially those studying in high schools on what their teachers have said about the 1965 tragedy? Have you ever read the history books used in classrooms?
The latest Curriculum 2013 is now applied by all schools in Indonesia. It retains the term "G30S/PKI" to refer to the kidnapping and killing of generals on Sept. 30, 1965. Thus the teachings of the event follow the propaganda, thus killing off efforts made by brave people in the first decade of the reform era to revise the history books, and history of Indonesia, though merely by erasing the word "PKI" from the "G30S."
One small difference from the New Order version, continued from the early reform era, is that this curriculum acknowledges different scenarios around the 1965 failed coup; in itself this is progress.
The textbook for grade 12 states there are controversies around who was behind the Sept. 30, 1965 movement. The book also mentions that at least there are six possible scenarios to explain the coup.
The first scenario is that the coup was only an internal problem inside the army, triggered by jealousy of the Army elites. The second is that the coup was part of a conspiracy of the United States' Central Intelligence Agency. The third is the scenario that the political bloodshed was created by the US and the United Kingdom to remove Sukarno from power.
The fourth theory in the book says Sukarno himself created the coup. The fifth tries to explain there was no single scenario and actor and what happened, just happened. And the last theory is the main narrative in Indonesia's history: PKI is the actor of the attempted coup.
The book gives most space to its attempt to explain what PKI did during the early 1960s that created anger and violence among the grassroots and in the bureaucracy, leading up to the attempted coup. The story ends with Soeharto taking over power and leading the movement to wipe out suspected elements of the movement, followed by the hunting of PKI elites in many regions.
"G30S/PKI has been wiped out successfully, and it also means the existence of Partai Komunis Indonesia has ended," the book reads. That's the end of the history lesson for grade 12.
There is no mention about the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people accused as PKI members or vaguely associated with the party in many regions, with many believing now that these people are actually villagers who knew nothing about politics. There is no story at all about the people jailed without due process.
Despite the changes to the textbooks, there is no recognition of the truth even after so much published research including survivors ' and victims' testimonies about the massacre and persecution.
If the national curriculum deliberately does not acknowledge, and even covers up the massive killings from the young generation just to appease popular and influential families and organizations in Indonesia, how can we find justice for victims' families?
Justice comes after admission. Above all, this omission and fabrication of history preserves the feeding of massive lies to Indonesian generations after generations. These massive state-sponsored lies must end now. Omitting crimes against humanity means the state has also conducted crimes against humanity.
What kind of future generations can we expect if they are continuously fed with lies? And more importantly, what kind of Indonesia can we expect if it is built on lies? Hard-working and decent young Indonesians deserve better, much better than this. We deserve honesty once and for all.
Tom Power Several insightful analyses of Joko Widodo's approach to the presidency have been advanced since he took office. For the most part, these have focused on his overriding preoccupation with domestic economic development, and his lack of a clear ideological orientation in the social and political arenas.
Jacqui Baker has described him as a developmentalist president, who exhibits "impatience with legal complexity" and "illiberal tendencies" consistent with his petite bourgeois class origins.
Eve Warburton develops this picture, noting his government's "statist-nationalist ideological orientation" which sees the maintenance of a strong state and stable political landscape essential for the achievement of economic goals, echoing Burhanuddin Muhtadi's assessment that "Jokowi seems to think of non-economic sectors as secondary, or as mere instruments for improving the economy and people's welfare".
These analyses suggest that where Jokowi has acted in an illiberal or anti-democratic manner, it is the product of narrow political sensitivities, short-term thinking and ad hoc decision making.
But as Jokowi enters the final stretch of his first term, it is appropriate to reflect further on the implications this approach to the presidency has for Indonesian democracy. Jokowi's haphazard approach to dealing with political challenges, perhaps inspired by the prospect of a Jakarta-style sectarian campaign in 2019, has created some very dangerous precedents for Indonesian democracy.
Efforts to consolidate his political position ahead of April's election have started to encroach upon fundamental democratic norms, and indeed, on core achievements of Indonesia's reform era. In 2018 we saw mounting evidence of the Jokowi government taking an authoritarian turn that contributes to the accelerated deterioration of Indonesia's democratic status quo identified by Vedi Hadiz last year. A large part of this process is the consistent effort to obtain narrow, partisan benefit from the political instrumentalisation of key institutions of state.
The politicisation of legal and law enforcement institutions is not a new phenomenon in Indonesia. The complexity of legal regulations and the ubiquity of criminality particularly corruption within the state have long provided the opportunity for powerful patrons to control and manipulate their political subordinates with the implicit or explicit threat of prosecution. However, the government's efforts to use legal instruments in this manner has become far more open and systematic under Jokowi.
The warning signs of this shift were evident when Jokowi appointed the Nasdem politician Muhammad Prasetyo as attorney-general a post traditionally reserved for a non-partisan appointee in 2014. Almost immediately, the Attorney-General's Office moved to undermine the then-majority opposition coalition by arresting a number of opposition party members on corruption charges. Further weakening of the opposition coalition was achieved in 2015-16, as the Law and Human Rights Ministry used its control over the legal verification of party boards to manipulate factional splits within Golkar and PPP, and eventually force them into the governing coalition.
Criminal investigations have been directed at organisers and benefactors of opposition campaigns. A flurry of arrests of government critics occurred on the eve of the 212 rally in Jakarta in late 2016; charges were quietly dropped once the crisis had passed. Cases were brought against several leading clerics in the 212 movement, most notably Front Pembela Islam (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab, who was forced into exile into Saudi Arabia after being charged with pornography offences.
The media mogul, opposition financier and Indonesian Unity Party (Perindo) chairman Hary Tanoesoedibjo suddenly switched his allegiance to Jokowi in 2017 after police charged him with trying to intimidate a public prosecutor over text message; Hary's case appears to have made no progress since then.
Beyond the tactical use of prosecutions to tame opponents, Jokowi introduced new legal powers to proscribe civil society organisations. The presidential decree, or Perppu, on mass organisations issued in mid-2017 served to abrogate "almost all meaningful legal protections of freedom of association", adding another repressive instrument to the government's burgeoning toolkit.
The pro-Prabowo opposition coalition of 2014-15, which sought to roll back direct elections and monopolise sites of patronage within the legislature, possessed a discernibly illiberal character and anti-democratic objectives.
Similarly, the anti-Ahok campaign was founded on a deeply intolerant, majoritarian agenda which threatened the religiously pluralist foundations of Indonesian democracy, with groups like Hizbut Tahrir openly demanding the democratic state be replaced with a theocratic one. Although the Jokowi government employed authoritarian strategies in responding to these political opponents, its approach could be credibly described as "fighting illiberalism with illiberalism".
In the lead up to the 2019 election, however, the government has turned these repressive strategies against opposition forces working within the boundaries of the democratic status quo. By turning the institutions of security and law enforcement against democratic opposition, the Jokowi administration has overseen a blurring of the lines between the interests of the state and those of the government. Moreover, these policies must be understood as part of a deliberate and increasingly systematic effort to impede and enfeeble the legitimate opposition essential to democratic regimes.
Through the middle of 2018, a number of high-profile, opposition-affiliated regional leaders announced their support for Jokowi. The widespread view in elite circles was that government actors had threatened these individuals with legal charges typically relating to corruption unless they realigned to the incumbent. Perhaps the most prominent of these defectors was Zainul Majdi (Tuan Guru Bajang; TGB), the Governor of West Nusa Tenggara and an influential cleric and Partai Demokrat member. TGB had led Prabowo's campaign team in the province in 2014, supported the anti-Ahok protests, and been named as one of the 212 Movement's preferred presidential nominees.
In late May, the KPK announced it might investigate TGB's suspected involvement in graft relating to the sale of shares in mining giant Newmont's Nusa Tenggara operation to the West Nusa Tenggara government. In early July, TGB announced his support for Jokowi's re-election, much to the chagrin of the 212 Movement and other opposition leaders, several of whom accused him of looking for legal protection. TGB's successor as NTB governor, PKS politician Zulkieflimansyah whose name had also been mentioned in connection with the Newmont case was soon displaying a photo of himself with Jokowi on his WhatsApp profile and intimated to party colleagues his preference for the incumbent president.
In North Maluku, incumbent PKS governor Abdul Ghani Kasuba left his party after insisting on running with PDI-P in the 2018 pilkada. In Papua, too, Governor Lukas Enembe who has been implicated in multiple corruption scandals during his tenure also announced his support for Jokowi after winning re-election as a Partai Demokrat cadre. In July, Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo claimed that West Sumatra governor, PKS' Irwan Prayitno another member of Prabowo's 2014 success team had realigned in a similar fashion.
Efforts at what critics call "criminalisation" of opposition politicians were most frequently attributed to the Attorney-General's Department, which handles a far larger number of corruption investigations and prosecutions than the KPK. The department's activities are almost entirely opaque: unlike the KPK, it does not publish information about its ongoing investigations, and has the authority to open and drop cases at its own discretion. One PDI-P functionary I spoke to described the Attorney General's office as a "political weapon" which "is now routinely used by the government to control opposition politicians, and by Nasdem to coerce subnational executives into joining [it]."
A large number of regional heads did indeed join Nasdem in 2017-18. For instance, during a brief trip by Nasdem chairman Surya Paloh to Southeast Sulawesi in March, three local regents shifted allegiance to his party. Jokowi's campaign now claims to have the support of 31 out of 34 governors, and 359 out of 514 mayors and district heads. The electoral implications of this swing in subnational elite support remain to be seen, but the mobilisational capacity of subnational executives is well-documented, and the results of previous elections suggest a degree of correlation between the affiliations of governors and mayors, and the local vote shares of presidential candidates.
The KPK also appears increasingly compromised under Jokowi. The prosecution of Setya Novanto in late 2017 for his role in the electronic identity card (e-KTP) scandal was lauded as a triumph for the agency, but the KPK was also accused of succumbing to political interference after the names of several high-ranking PDIP politicians previously implicated in the case were removed from Setya's indictment. As of October 2018, no high-profile PDI-P politicians have been named suspects by the KPK since the current group of commissioners was appointed in December 2015. This is unlikely to be coincidental: the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Budi Gunawan, who is believed to exert substantial influence among KPK agents recruited from the police force, is a close ally of PDI-P chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri.
The use of corruption cases for political leverage is not the only way in which the state apparatus is being wielded by the Jokowi government for partisan advantage in the lead-up to the elections.
Over the course of 2018, the police have stepped up efforts to repress the #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ChangePresidents; 2019GP) movement. Through the first half of 2018, 2019GP metamorphosed from a viral Twitter hashtag posted by PKS politician Mardani Ali Sera, into a political vehicle with a strong social media presence, its own branded clothing and merchandise, and a formal organisational structure.
While 2019GP lacks the overtly Islamist character of the 212 Movement, the groups draw support from similar constituencies, and share an underlying raison detre of agitation against an incumbent rather than support for a specific challenger. Indeed, the 2019GP movement's simplistic message which boils down to "anyone but Jokowi" positioned it as a vehicle which could swing behind any eventual opposition candidate. This flexibility, which reflected uncertainty among opposition leaders over Prabowo's desire to stand, was apparent even four days before presidential nominations closed when the 2019GP organiser and PKS politician Mardani Ali Sera told me that "Anies Baswedan is the man to beat Jokowi".
Through the middle of 2018, 2019GP organisers received frequent reports that police were confiscating merchandise from sellers and intimidating people displaying the hashtag. In June through September, scheduled 2019GP events in Serang, Bandung, Pekanbaru, Surabaya, Pontianak, Bangka Belitung, Palembang, Aceh and other parts of the country were prohibited or broken up by the police, often with the assistance of pro-government "counter-protesters". Following the police disbandment of the Surabaya event, Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Luhut Pandjaitan argued that 2019GP activities should indeed be banned, so as to avert social discord and clashes between pro-government and opposition demonstrators. The Indonesian Solidarity Party (Partai Solidaritas Indonesia/PSI), which seeks to present itself as a new force for progressive, democratic politics, also supported the movement's suppression on the grounds it was "directing hatred at the president".
Multiple legal justifications have been mounted in support of the crackdown. In March, the police announced that they were investigating the singer-turned-activist Neno Warisman on the suspicion that her creation of a WhatsApp group using the #2019GantiPresiden hashtag may contravene the Electronic Transactions Law (UU ITE), or even constitute grounds for treason charges. Another element of the government's assault on 2019GP has been to assign anti-system, extremist and caliphal motivations to the movement's organisers. Social media messages even circulated claiming one of the suicide bombers responsible for the devastating attack in Surabaya in May had been a 2019GP supporter. (This has been debunked).
The government's systematic efforts to suppress and delegitimise 2019GP activities represent a new challenge to Indonesia's democratic status quo. The repression of 2019GP is qualitatively different from the coercive tactics used against Prabowo's party coalition in 2015-16, or the 2017 ban on Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia.
Whereas Prabowo's coalition had attempted to roll back elements of Indonesian democracy, and Hizbut Tahrir is open in expressing its caliphal ambitions, 2019GP has not espoused anti-system goals, but rather agitated for electoral defeat of Jokowi. Indeed, 2019GP leaders have gone to great pains to establish their movement as a constitutional expression of democratic opposition. The legitimacy of the group's activities has been endorsed the General Elections Commission, the Electoral Oversight Agency (Bawaslu), and even some pluralist NGOs and public figures, while the government's efforts to paint 2019GP as a threat to social harmony and national unity have proven entirely unconvincing.
The crackdown on 2019GP represents the first time since the fall of Suharto that a government has used the state security apparatus for the open, large-scale repression of a democratic opposition movement.
Concerns have grown during Jokowi's presidency about the re-emergence of a "dual function" philosophy within the military, including through the consolidation of its territorial command structure and the renewed involvement of the army in government-led social and economic programs. In 2018, having strengthened his personal influence within the armed forces through the installation of a personal ally as TNI chief, Jokowi went even further in encouraging the re-politicisation of the TNI.
In June, Jokowi announced a major and immediate increase in funding to the TNI's village-level commands, Bintara Pembina Desa/Babinsa. In July, he delivered a speech to Babinsa officers in Makassar during which he instructed soldiers at the village level to put a stop to the spread of "hoaxes" such as those associating him with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). In August, Jokowi made another speech in which he instructed police and military officers to promote his government's programmatic achievements at the community level:
"In relation to government programs, the work that we have carried out I ask all officers to go and promote this to the community. Pass on these [accomplishments] whenever the moment is right to do so."
One of the major achievements of the Yudhoyono years was the acceptance by TNI elites that "the military was an executive tool of the administration" rather than an autonomous political force in its own right. Yet Jokowi seems prepared to use this tool in service to partisan goals, in the context of a general election campaign.
Not since the fall of the New Order have the military and police been deployed in a systematic manner to deliver political advantage to the incumbent government. Should these trends take hold in 2019, it will mark another step in the severe unbalancing of the playing field between government and opposition a feature associated not with democracy, but rather with electoral authoritarianism and regime hybridity.
One reason for Jokowi's instrumental use of law enforcement and security institutions may be his lack of faith in the reliability and effectiveness of political parties, social organisations and "volunteer" groups. His interactions with parties, political elites and civil society organisations have frequently been fraught; on the other hand, he has learnt that the tools of the state are far more easily deployed and far more effective in overcoming political challenges.
Writing shortly after Jokowi's inauguration, Edward Aspinall and Marcus Mietzner described the 2014 election as "the most important in the history of post-Soeharto democracy". They continued:
"Neither the 1999 contest between Megawati and Abdurrahman Wahid nor the 2004 and 2009 races between Megawati and Yudhoyono were about the fundamental direction of the country. In contrast, the choice between Jokowi and Prabowo presented Indonesian voters with the option of maintaining the existing democratic polity or sending it on a path of populist experimentation and neo-authoritarian regression."
It is difficult to frame the 2019 contest in the same stark terms. To be sure, Prabowo gave every indication in 2014 that he intended to deliberately and determinedly wind back Indonesian democracy; by comparison, Jokowi's concessions to authoritarianism have been incremental and haphazard as Eve Warburton says of Jokowi's presidency more broadly, they have been "defined by ad hocery".
Yet he now seems to have settled on a formula for overcoming political challenges, which largely revolves around the application of the most reliable and effective instruments available to the president the institutions of the state. Most concerningly for the quality of democracy in Indonesia, Jokowi and his government have come to treat law enforcement and security services as tools for the repression of opposition, whether it be illiberal and anti-system, or democratic and constitutional.
Of course, the more these strategies are normalised, the more readily available they will be to a Prabowo-style president who harbours ideological hostility towards democracy. Already, Prabowo supporters respond to allegations about their leader's authoritarian objectives by pointing to the democratic regression overseen by Jokowi. In the words of one Gerindra politician I spoke to recently:
"Some say Prabowo is authoritarian. What about this government? Hasn't democracy retreated during Jokowi's term? Isn't it the current president who has criminalised opposition, outlawed mass organisations... [and] used the state apparatus against his critics? Who is authoritarian?"
Indonesian democracy has proven resilient over 20 years. As next year's elections approach, that resilience will again be tested. It is worth reflecting on what has changed since the previous election cycle. As in 2014, the 2019 election will be a two-horse race. As in 2014, we will have on one side a candidate who styles himself as strongly nationalistic; anti-leftist; pro-military; and open to further encroachment of conservative Islamic agendas into the national political arena. His record on the preservation of human rights, his regard for core democratic principles, his commitment to transparent and accountable government, and his support for a meaningful anti-corruption agenda are all highly dubious. He will be contesting the presidential election with the support of a grand coalition of parties, a strong grip on the media, and an assembly of political elites whose own democratic and reformist credentials should inspire little confidence from the Indonesian electorate.
And on the other side of the presidential ballot paper, we will have Prabowo Subianto.
Hellena Souisa Over the past week, two incidents have revealed what a serious problem hoaxes have become in Indonesian politics.
On 1 October, photos of the bruised and swollen face of Ratna Sarumpaet were circulated on social media. Through her Twitter account, Gerindra legislator Rachel Maryam confirmed that Ratna, a vocal critic of President Joko Widodo and a member of Prabowo Subianto's presidential campaign team, had been attacked on 21 September in Bandung. Given the polarised nature of Indonesian politics, it was inevitable the case would have political ramifications.
Opposition member parties scrambled to Ratna's defence. Campaign team deputy leader Nanik S Deyang described how Ratna was on the way home from a conference when she was dragged from her taxi, attacked by three unknown men and thrown to the roadside. Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician (and another campaign team deputy leader) Mardani Ali Sera said the nature of the attack was similar to tactics used by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
In one of the more absurd moments, Prabowo a former general discharged from the military under a cloud of human rights violations held a press conference in which he described the incident as a repressive act that violated human rights. He added that he suspected political motives were behind the attack.
But right from the outset the police were doubtful. On 3 October, they revealed that on 21 September Ratna was not in Bandung, as she claimed, but rather at a Jakarta cosmetic surgery hospital. Within a couple of days, the truth was out. Ratna admitted that she had fabricated the story and her injuries were a result of cosmetic surgery.
Furious that they had been lied to, members of Prabowo's campaign team fired Ratna. In an interview following the revelation, Ratna, seemingly with no sense of remorse, said "It turns out that I am the best creator of hoaxes, scandalising a whole country." (Kali ini saya pencipta hoaks terbaik, ternyata, menghebohkan sebuah negeri).
Putting aside Ratna's bizarre sense of pride in the embarrassing spectacle she became, she is right that Indonesia has a long tradition of using hoaxes for political ends. Over recent years, Indonesia has seen the so-called "fake news factory" Saracen, the Obor Rakyat tabloid distributed to discredit Jokowi in 2014, and even the dubious quick counts promoted by Prabowo's supporters in the media on the evening of the 2014 Presidential Election.
However, these recent hoaxes pale in comparison to the misinformation promoted for decades by the New Order in relation to the failed coup of the evening of 30 September 1965, and the violence that followed.
The New Order repeatedly promoted the line that female PKI members tortured six generals at Lubang Buaya and mutilated their genitals. Autopsy documents have since conclusively proved that this never occurred but the narrative lives on.
Part of the reason it has done so was the screening of the film "The Treachery of G30S/PKI" (Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI) on TVRI every 30 September, from 1984 to 1998. This spectacle became part of the collective memory of everyone who lived during this period, cementing the supposed actions of the PKI as the "chosen trauma" of the nation, helping to promote national unity and justify Soeharto's oppressive 32-year rule.
Following the fall of Soeharto in 1998, Yunus Yosfiah, the information minister under President BJ Habibie, called for screenings to be stopped. He reportedly did so following pressure from retired Air Force officers, who felt they had been poorly represented in the film. Over time, the film has faced harsh criticism from historians, and even the film's director, Arifin C Noer, for its inaccuracy. Journalists, academics, artists, filmmakers and survivors have all offered more complex, and more accurate, alternative narratives to the New Order version of history.
It is therefore hard to agree with tvOne Editor in Chief Karni Ilyas when he announced on 27 September that he had received the "good news" that tvOne planned to resurrect this New Order relic and screen it again on commercial television. In fact, tvOne had already screened the film in 2017, before the anti-communist hysteria that Indonesia typically sees before an election really got going.
What incentive is there for tvOne to show the film? It is likely that there are both editorial and commercial reasons.
When it launched in 2002, tvOne was initially known as Lativi and was owned by Golkar politician and labour minister from 1993-1998, Adbul Latief. Several years later, the station was bought by another Golkar politician, Aburizal Bakrie, and its name was changed to tvOne. Bakrie and Latief continue to serve on Golkar's Board and Honour Council, respectively. Given it was Soeharto's political vehicle during the New Order, it is not surprising that Golkar and figures closely associated with it would seek to promote the New Order line.
However, it is likely other factors are at play as well. Following the 2014 elections, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) declared tvOne, along with MetroTV, RCTI, GlobalTV and MNC, to be "enemies of press freedom" for their partisan coverage of the 2014 race. In 2014, tvOne coverage strongly favoured Prabowo and was highly critical of Jokowi.
Given that prominent government critics, such as retired general Gatot Nurmantyo, retired general Kivlan Zen, and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), have been promoting public screenings of the G30S film over the past couple of years and have accused Jokowi of coming from a communist family, it is perhaps not surprising that tvOne would also want to screen anti-communist propaganda. But Golkar has now said it will back Jokowi in 2019, so why is tvOne continuing to favour the position of Prabowo supporters?
In a broader environment of anti-communist sentiment, another factor comes into play: commercial considerations. In 2017, tvOne sought to rehabilitate its reputation following its partisan coverage of the 2014 election, devoting more time to "softer" content, such as Turkish soap operas. This strategy failed and was abandoned after a few months, and tvOne returned to sensationalist news coverage.
When Gatot began promoting public screenings of the G30S film in 2017, tvOne seized on the controversy and screened the film the first time it had been shown on public television since the fall of the New Order. Commercially, this was a wise decision. The film recorded a rating of 4.0 and a share of 28.1, meaning that it was watched by 4 per cent of the Indonesian population, or 28.1 per cent of the television audience for that night. These are high figures, given that it was screened at 9.30pm.
While the 2018 figures were down on last year, they were still impressive for a similar time slot of 9.00pm the film recorded a rating of 2.4 and a share of 15.33. Perhaps this is the "good news" Karni Ilyas was referring to good news for advertising sales and for the company, never mind that it required the promoting of misinformation and New Order propaganda that has been proven to be incorrect.
As tvOne uses a public frequency, it has a responsibility to provide fair and balanced information to the public. Unfortunately, the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) has showed little interest in pursuing stations that broadcast incorrect information, including about the 1965 violence.
In fact, the KPI took no action against tvOne when it declared victory for Prabowo and Hatta Rajasa in 2014 on the basis of incorrect quick counts. TvOne received no penalties, and not even a warning, from KPI. In fact, KPI and the Ministry of Communication and Information even extended for 10 years the licences of the four stations named by AJI as enemies of press freedom despite the fact that their content frequently violates journalistic principles and the spirit of impartiality embedded in the Broadcasting Law and Journalistic Code of Ethics.
Although the G30S film still attracts support, Ratna's hoax had a much shorter shelf-life. Late last week, all the politicians who had rushed to her defence were suddenly backtracking and frantically seeking to erase any online evidence that they had supported her claims. Nanik S Deyang, for example, wrote "Given Ratna's surprising admission, I am deleting my previous status in relation to her". Democratic Party politician Ferdinand Hutahaean made a similar statement: "As a form of apology, I am deleting all my tweets in defence of Ratna Sarumpaet. Thank you".
But this is not enough. Indonesia needs to take serious action against all the hoaxes and misinformation that are becoming a feature of national politics, because the consequences of many of them are so serious. People who are accused of being members of the communist party cannot simply erase the stigma and discrimination that goes along with it in the same way that politicians can delete their false or misleading tweets.
Maire Leadbeater Indonesia is becoming increasingly frantic about the Pacific Island states who speak up for West Papua.
Triggered by Vanuatu's prime Minister, Charlot Salwai's address at the UN General Assembly this month, Indonesia went on a no-holds-barred attack. PM Salwai requested that the UN Human Rights Council investigate the well-documented human rights abuses in the territory and made reference to allowing the people 'to freely express their choice'.
Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla railed against Vanuatu's support for 'separatist movements' which he described as an act of 'hostility' in 'violation of UN principles'. Gesticulating with a clenched fist, he emphasised that Indonesia would firmly defend its territorial integrity.
Vanuatu's right of reply was unapologetic, calling simply for Indonesia to permit a visit from the incoming Human Rights Commissioner for an objective appraisal and pointing out that Vanuatu was not alone in raising these concerns. Beginning in 2015 seven Pacific nations have taken up the West Papuan cause in the UN Human Rights Council and on the floor of the UN General Assembly.
It is astonishing that Indonesia, South East Asian powerhouse, should is in a tizz about the statements made by small nations like Vanuatu or the Marshall Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu. Hopefully, other nations will be encouraged to look beyond Indonesia's bullying and listen instead to Vanuatu's calm and consistent advocacy for their Melanesian kin.
However, there is another level of Indonesian activity that may be of greater concern: Indonesia's Pacific charm offensive. Indonesia has been working hard to gain influence with individual states and with the regional body, the Pacific Islands Forum.
Over recent years, Indonesia has bestowed gifts of aid, including in the case of Fiji, military aid. Now Security Minister Wiranto is hoping that a well-funded diplomacy project will sway the Pacific leaders. He has proposed the equivalent of NZ $6 million to improve Indonesia's international image and to counteract 'misinformation' that the Indonesian Government has neglected West Papua.
Wiranto, a retired General, was indicted by a UN sponsored court for crimes against humanity in 2003. He was the commander of Indonesia's armed forces in 1999 when the army and military-backed militias conducted a murderous campaign of terror against the East Timorese who had dared to vote for independence.
How will Wiranto explain the HIV/Aids epidemic in West Papua where the incidence rate is 15 times that of rest of Indonesia. West Papua also has the lowest life expectancy in the archipelago as well as the highest infant and maternal mortality rates. In the rural areas many schools are sparsely staffed and in some cases don't open at all.
Wiranto might boast of new economic development and infrastructure projects in West Papua, but too many of these projects only open up more ancestral land for exploitation for palm oil production and other agri-businesses. Pacific Island leaders know from their own experiences what it means to lose pristine forests and to give free reign to multinational companies.
If Wiranto invites heads of state on a promotional tour of West Papua he probably won't take his guests to the southern ASMAT region which recently experienced a deadly outbreak of measles. Malnutrition was a major contributing factor. He will ask the security forces to ensure that there his guests are shielded from any signs of dissent.
But he can't do much to stop anyone from knowing about the ongoing repression which seems to be becoming more Orwellian by the day. West Papuan peaceful pro-independence demonstrators take to the streets every time their issue is raised at the Pacific Islands Forum or at the UN General Assembly.
In September a total of 221 West Papuans were arbitrarily arrested, there were reports that five people had been tortured and one man was killed in police custody. Agustinus Yolemal was detained for posting a video on Facebook in which he and his son voiced independence slogans. He now faces charges of 'disseminating hostility against the state ideology' and could face a penalty of up to six years' imprisonment.
West Papuans are behind Vanuatu's leaders and the proposal to take a resolution to next year's UN General Assembly calling for West Papua to be re-inscribed on the UN list of countries to be decolonised.
Before Indonesia took over control of West Papua in 1963 the territory was under Dutch administration but on a clear path to self-determination. Indigenous leaders, members of the West New Guinea Council met with their counterparts from other Pacific nations at the South Pacific Commission (forerunner to the Pacific Islands Forum). Pacific nations have not forgotten this history and they know that the so called 'Act of Free Choice' held in 1969 was a fraudulent act of self-determination involving the forced participation of only 1022 people, who were in no doubt that they had to vote for Indonesia or risk their lives.
New Zealand's political leaders cannot pretend this did not happen. As I have documented in my recent book, 'See No Evil: New Zealand's betrayal of the people of West Papua' (Otago University Press 2018) it is all there in our national archives, including a frank commentary from New Zealand Ambassador who observed two of the 'Act of Free Choice' assemblies. He noted that what he saw 'merely confirmed the truth of charges of the questionable morality of the entire process. It was apparent that the Consultative Assemblies had been heavily coerced into agreement.'
Vanuatu and other Pacific nations have an unassailable case: the West Papuan people were denied their right to self-determination, a right protected in UN customary law and resolutions such as the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. So asking the UN to re-engage with the issue is a just and necessary step. New Zealand should take note and join this important initiative.