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Indonesia News Digest 2 – January 9-16, 2007

News & issues

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 News & issues

Protest fails to bring SBY, causes minor traffic problems

Jakarta Post - January 16, 2007

Jakarta – A protest meant to unseat the President drew only a few hundred demonstrators and caused minor traffic delays in downtown Jakarta on Monday.

Billed the "Second Malari" protest, after a student riot on Jan. 14, 1974, it lasted less than three hours. The rally's main event, speeches condemning President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in front of the State Palace, ran for less than half an hour.

On Sunday, protest organizer Hariman Siregar had said that the President and his ministers should resign because people were dissatisfied with their work.

On Monday Hariman, who took part in the original Malari protest, repeated his demand that Yudhoyono step down without waiting for a mass movement to unseat him.

Hariman said that Monday's rally was a "warm-up" for bigger things. "We'll see, but let's start this first," he told reporters.

Vehicles moved slowly through the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle and the main thoroughfares leading to the State Palace during the demonstration.

Hariman was joined at the rally by poet W.S. Redra and lawyer Eggy Sudjana.

A number of student groups took part but kept their distance from Hariman's group. The Muslim Student Association, the People's Revolutionary Movement and the Socialist Student Movement all carried banners identifying themselves.

Noted economist Sjahrir, who participated in the original Malari march and was jailed by the New Order regime as a result, said he attended on Monday to remember the 1974 rally. He said he did not endorse the demands of Hariman and his companions.

Responding to the rally, presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said the demands were unconstitutional. "The President was directly elected by the people and his mandate lasts for five years and he has done a lot for the people," Andi was quoted as saying by Kompas online. Andi asked the politicians behind the protest to wait for the next election if they wanted to replace Yudhoyono.

Some analysts have suggested that Monday's rally simply represented nostalgia for a strong student movement, while others believe it was a show of force designed to gauge how far challenges to the President could go.

A number of politicians have condemned the rally for violating democratic principles.

The secretary general of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Pramono Anung Wibowo, said that while the PDI-P opposed Yudhoyono, it would only attempt to unseat him through a legal election.

Ray Rangkuti, an analyst at the Indonesia Civil Society Circle, said that the protest could disrupt the democratic procedures that had started to take root in the country. "Such a protest will achieve nothing," he told The Jakarta Post.

Police deny arrest of activist Sri Bintang

Jakarta Post - January 16, 2007

Prodita Sabarini, Jakarta – Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Adang Firman has denied activist Sri Bintang Pamungkas was arrested Sunday for displaying banners at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle for Monday's "Lift the Mandate" rally.

"Who said we arrested him? He merely feels he was arrested. When officers were going to question another person, he tagged along," said Adang on Monday at Jakarta Police Headquarters.

Political activists Sri Bintang Pamungkas and Pandapotan Lubis were reportedly arrested Sunday by Central Jakarta Police.

The banners reading "No Trust, Down", intended for a rally protesting the policies of the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono-Jusuf Kalla (SBY-JK) administration, were confiscated by the Central Jakarta administration.

The two were released Sunday night, after being taken to the Central Jakarta municipal hall. They had previously been questioned for six hours by Central Jakarta Police.

Sri Bintang said he had notified police of the planned rally and was setting up banners for the event. Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Ketut Untung Yoga Ana said placing banners in public places required a permit from the city administration.

"The case is now in the hands of the city administration... he has allegedly violated a 1988 city ordinance on public order."

More than 700 people turned out for the rally Monday, marching from Jl.Thamrin in Central Jakarta to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, before congregating at the Presidential Palace at midday.

Prominent activists such as Hariman Siregar, poet WS Rendra, as well as Pandapotan and Sri Bintang, led the march that fell on the commemoration of the Jan. 15, 1974 anti-Japan demonstration in Jakarta, known as the Malari incident.

In his oration, Sri Bintang said the SBY-JK duo had failed to improve the welfare of the people. Hariman said that he hoped the two would accept their failure and step down.

Adang said he had deployed 10,000 personnel to secure the rally.

Four million workers without social security

Jakarta Post - January 15, 2007

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta – Journalism can be a dangerous profession, but most local journalists are working without any insurance, along with pilots and other aircraft crew.

Data from the Indonesian Journalists Association say thousands of media workers in the city are poorly paid and have no access to social security programs. Only a few print and electronic media outlets have registered their staffs with the state-owned insurance company PT Jamsotek.

"Certain media registered only part of their staff and reporters with Jamsostek while certain other media reported only on a part of their staff's gross monthly salaries. This wrongdoing is actually criminal and creates job insecurity among mobile journalists," Jamsostek's Jakarta office chief Aufa Azis Chan told The Jakarta Post here over the weekend.

Almost all mass media have published stories about private companies ignoring social security programs but have also failed themselves, he added.

Pilots and cabin attendants employed by private airlines have also been kept away from social security programs.

The more than 13,600 small- and medium-scale companies operating in the city in the manufacturing and service sectors employ around 6.5 million workers. Of these, as many as 4.6 million have no job security. Their incomes are low and their employers terminated their participation in social security programs after the Asian economic crisis in the late 1990s.

Workers who are dismissed for efficiency reasons or suffer accidents on the job face an uncertain future.

"The workers are paid in accordance with the gubernatorial decree on the monthly minimum wage in the city, they do not obtain any financial benefits from the social security problems and many dismissed workers did not receive severance pay in accordance with the labor law because of their employers' financial difficulties," said Munzi Tambusai, the director general for industrial relations and social security affairs at the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry.

The government has used a persuasive approach to enforce the social security law among companies

Jamsostek and the manpower and transmigration office in the city have traded accusations of taking bribes from employers while enforcing the law.

Jamsostek has accused labor inspectors of taking bribes from employers to ignore violations, while the latter has reported fictitious claims to Jamsostek involving its own field staff.

Jamsostek has no authority to enforce the law and its staff have no investigative authority to sue companies breaching it.

Employers have intentionally registered some of their workers or of their wages to reduce their enrollment to the minimum because up to eleven percent of the insurance premium is paid by the employers while workers pay two percent.

A 1999 government regulation required all workers, including those on contracts, to be registered with Jamsostek. Under the regulation, insurance premiums are based on gross monthly wages, not basic salaries.

Jamsostek has collected Rp 2.1 trillion from the 1.8 million workers and 18,500 companies that participate in its social security programs. The money forms premiums for health care, workplace accident compensation, death benefits and pension programs. It has paid out a total of RP 619 billion in compensation for almost 297,000 cases.

Due to the decreasing number of participants in the formal sector, Jamsostek, in cooperation with the city administration, now covers workers in the informal sector, including those working on development projects.

Tens of thousands of construction workers, bus drivers and conductors, ojek and becak drivers, food traders, fishermen and home industries operators have been registered with Jamsostek under special programs.

Aufa said Jamsostek would also construct a large number of cheap flats and affordable houses over the next five years to help improve the social welfare of low-income workers in the city.

More disasters ahead, warn transportation workers

Jakarta Post - January 13, 2007

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta – The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has warned the ongoing use of old, unsafe aircraft and ships will lead to more accidents.

ITF Indonesia coordinator Hanafi Rustandi slammed the government's transportation policies and oversight, saying the country has become a dumping ground for junked vehicles.

"We will certainly see more fatal accidents on air, sea and land, because most private transportation operators here use old imported vessels which are no longer feasible for operation and have been scrapped in their countries of origin," he told The Jakarta Post prior to a hearing Friday with the transportation commission at the House of Representatives.

The hearing followed the tragedies that recently struck an Adam Air passenger plane and a PT Vista ferry. The Boeing 737-400 aircraft went missing with 102 people aboard on New Year's Eve before arriving in Manado, North Sulawesi, from the East Java capital of Surabaya. The Senopati Nusantara ferry sank in the Java Sea with more then 600 aboard on a voyage from Semarang to Kumai, East Kalimantan, on Dec. 29. Some 250 ferry passengers are known to have survived.

Hanafi said besides allowing operators to bring in superannuated aircraft and ships from other countries, the government has permitted scrapped cars, buses and wagons to be imported from Singapore and Japan. These have become killing machines, he argued, since they are operated solely to make a profit, without taking passengers' safety into consideration.

"The ill-fated Adam Air aircraft was made in 1990, while the ferry was bought by Indonesia in 1978 and modified into a ferry in 2003, and both are no longer fit for operation. According to safety regulations, old aircraft and ships are required to undergo regular checks and overhauls but in reality, the government has been too lax in supervising their operation," he said.

Airliners and shipping companies have been involved in a fierce battle to provide the cheapest and fastest transportation, and critics say they ignore safety regulations.

Meanwhile, the transportation commission has joined forces with the ITF to press the government to enforce transportation laws and raise standards to reduce accidents.

"The transportation system must be accredited in accordance with international transportation standards, and the operation of old aircraft and ships will be limited," the transportation commission's chairman Ahmad Muqowwam said during the hearing.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has also asked Indonesia to give a comprehensive report on the results of its investigation into the sea accident to ensure international confidence in its national shipping safety.

The House commission suggested airliners be allowed to operate only aircraft less than 15 years old that undergo regular checks and overhauls after every 1,000 flying hours. Only ships aging up to 25 years old would be allowed to operate, and old ones would have to undergo routine body and engine checks at an approved shipyard.

In the latest development, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has issued a decree on the formation of a national team to evaluate domestic transportation safety and security, a spokesman said Friday.

"The decree was issued in view of the increasing frequency of transportation accidents over the past five years which is causing anxiety and unrest among the people," presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said.

The team is to be led by former Air Force chief Chappy Hakim, with former transportation minister Budi Mulyawan Suyitno as his deputy and Rear Adm. (ret) Yayun Riyanto as secretary.

Microsoft denies arranging covert agreement

Tempo Interactive - January 12, 2007

Grace S. Gandhi, Jakarta – President Director of PT Microsoft Indonesia Tony Chen denied that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Information and Communication Minister and Microsoft was arranged covertly.

When pressed that other government officials were uninformed of the agreement, including those at the Department of Information and Communication, Tony acknowledged that he did not know very much about the matter. However, this was not aimed at another (negative) purpose.

The purchase agreement was not publicized, Tony told Tempo Wednesday (01/10), because Microsoft offered a huge discount to the government. "We offered a discount of more than 70 percent."

According to him, if the discount offer becomes bigger, other countries could demand the same thing. Microsoft once offered a discount to Egypt and China as well. However, Microsoft gave a very special price for the Indonesian government. "In addition, with the discount, it will benefit the Indonesian government," he said.

Tony said that the agreement was a positive matter since the purpose of the Indonesian government was to legalize software that government offices used. It was also the government's intention to appreciate intellectual property rights in the country.

In an MoU that Information and Communication Minister Sofyan Djalil and the President of Microsoft of Southeast Asia Chris Atkinson signed on 14 November 2006, the government agreed to buy 35,496 licenses of Microsoft Windows and 177,480 licenses of Microsoft Office.

Indonesian police kill suspected militant

Associated Press - January 11, 2007

Police have raided a house on Indonesia's Sulawesi Island where several alleged Islamic militants were staying, sparking a fierce gun and bomb battle that left one suspected terrorist dead, a top police chief said.

Four other alleged militants were arrested in Thursday's raid in Poso town in central Sulawesi, the scene of bloody violence between Muslim and Christian gangs six years ago and sporadic bombings and shootings ever since, said Brig Gen Badrodin Haiti.

The alleged militants hurled at least eight bombs and opened fire with automatic weapons at officers who moved in after receiving information the men were sheltering there, Haiti told The Associated Press.

"We killed one of the terrorists and arrested four others," Haiti said. Police seized three bombs and five automatic weapons from the house, he said.

He said the five men were wanted by police in connection with the fighting in central Sulawesi between 2000 and 2001, which killed some 1,000 people and attracted Muslim militants from all over Indonesia.

Citras handed back in protest

Jakarta Post - January 10, 2007

Jakarta – Thirty young filmmakers returned Citra awards, the country's highest film prize, to Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik on Tuesday, in a protest over the handling of last year's Indonesian Film Festival.

The filmmakers, including directors Riri Riza, Hanung Bramantyo and Mira Lesmana, as well as cast and crew members such as actresses Marcella Zalianty and Rachel Mariam and actor Nicholas Saputra, said that they were disappointed with the jury's decision to name high school drama Ekskul best feature film in last year's festival.

They also alleged that the score for Ekskul was taken from Korean film Tae Guk Gi.

"For the good name of the Indonesian film industry, we call for the revocation of the Citra award for best film and hold the festival's panel of jurors accountable for their decision in an open debate," Riri said.

The young filmmakers, who have named themselves the Indonesian Film Society, have also written to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the House of Representatives.

Ekskul is just the tip of their complaints. They are campaigning for the reform of the numerous regulations they say are hindering the development of the country's film industry.

Riri said that Ekskul's win showed the lack of transparency present in the agencies responsible for promoting the local film industry. He said that agencies such as the Film Censorship Body and the National Film Consultative Body were remnants of the New Order regime.

The filmmakers also called on the government to draft a new law on film to boost the local industry. Jero said that their decision to return their awards represented their dedication to rejuvenating the country's film industry.


Former rebel elected governor vows to keep Aceh in Indonesia

Agence France Presse - January 11, 2007

Jakarta – A former separatist rebel elected governor of the Indonesian province of Aceh on Thursday said he would not push for independence for the province while in power.

"Aceh remains committed to remain within the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia," said Irwandi Yusuf, who won a landslide victory in last month's election, the first direct vote for provincial governor.

Yusuf was a former spokesman for the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) which fought a long and bloody campaign for independence for the province on the northern tip of Sumatra island.

After calling on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the palace here, he said both sides respected the peace agreement signed by rebel leaders and the Indonesian government in 2005.

Yusuf said he and president held a dialogue "on how to implement a government in Aceh within the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia."

The governor-elect said he also briefed the president on policy packages he wanted to introduce in Aceh. "It turns out what we want to do was also in line with the president's instruction," he said.

Presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng told journalists at the same occasion that Yudhoyono had congratulated Yusuf and his vice governor Muhammad Nazar and called on them to implement good governance in Aceh.

Yusuf and Nazar won the December 11 elections with 38.20 percent of the vote while their nearest rivals trailed on 16.62 percent.

Yusuf was jailed in 2003 for rebellion and eventually fled when the tsunami struck on December 26, 2004, flooding his prison.

The giant waves killed more than 168,000 people in Aceh and compelled the rebels and the Indonesian government to reassess their priorities after decades of conflict.

The 2005 peace accord signed between the GAM and Jakarta paved the way for December 11 elections which are seen as a further consolidation of the peace process.

Female backers of Aceh's rebels now battle to rebuild lives

Christian Science Monitor - January 11, 2007

Simon Montlake, Pidie – With her payments book and bundle of patterned sarongs, blouses, and head scarves, Juayriah bin Abdurani is rural Aceh's equivalent of the Avon Lady. Every week, she hops on a motorbike and makes the rounds of nearby villages to show off her wares and collect payments from her customers, who are happy to pay a dollar a week for a new dress.

It's a departure for Juayriah – she goes by her first name – who used to farm chilies beside her family home. That was her day job: At night, she gave food and shelter to rebels fighting Indonesian troops for control of Aceh Province. In April 2005, she was arrested, beaten, and jailed for her part in the independence movement, known as GAM. Four months later, after a peace deal, she was released.

Now, she's trying to start over. "This business is like beginning a new life for me," she says. "I wanted to do something new, not just growing chilies."

Women like Juayriah are the hidden face of an armed struggle that tore Aceh apart during three decades. As the male-dominated rebel movement lays claim to the economic spoils of peace, female ex- combatants, activists, and widows are trying to rebuild lives and find a political voice. Today's struggle is against discrimination and hardship as well as lingering mental scars.

"Without women, GAM is nothing. During the conflict, the women fed the men, and they hid them," says Liza Fitri, an activist in the Aceh Women's League, an advocacy network created last year. "Women were also combatants and were trained to fight. There's been almost no assistance to women since the [peace accord]. So now we want to see how women are treated in the future. We want women active in politics."

Under the 2005 accord between GAM and the Indonesian government, 3,000 rebels surrendered their weapons in return for amnesties, a drawdown of Indonesian troops, and a sweetened autonomy package for their resource-rich province on the northern tip of Sumatra Island. The province bore the brunt of the catastrophic 2004 tsunami, an event that spurred the pace of the peace talks. The accord also saw the release of more than 2,000 political prisoners – including Juayriah, who was charged but not convicted of sedition.

Helping rebels return to society and find long-term jobs has become one of the toughest challenges in the peace process. That process passed a crucial landmark in December with the largely trouble-free election of Irwandi Yusuf, a GAM member, as provincial governor. His three-year term starts next month.

But internal wrangling over millions of dollars in government aid earmarked for reintegration has slowed the disbursement of funds, leaving many ex-fighters out of pocket and out of work. Another handicap is that GAM's ranks of combatants is several times greater than the 3,000 stated in the peace deal, splitting available money. Analysts say the lowball figure was agreed on by both sides for political reasons.

For female ex-combatants, who were known within GAM as "Inong Balee," the Acehnese word for widows, this has led to frustrations, as most have received only a trickle of aid. Activists say discrimination in Aceh's conservative Islamic society makes it harder for them to rebuild their lives.

"Because of the conflict, women in the villages suffer trauma. They remember the fighting. They lack confidence, they don't have the motivation to study or improve themselves," says Sabariah, a mother of seven who joined GAM after her husband, a rebel fighter, was shot dead by Indonesian soldiers in 2001.

Aid workers say targeted livelihood programs, which combine skills training with career guidance, offer one way to tackle these disparities.

Juayriah started her clothing business after receiving training and a $1,000 grant last year from the International Organization for Migration, which had facilitated her return from prison. The IOM began a similar effort last month for 3,000 ex-combatants, one third of whom are women.

Juayriah originally wanted to invest in her chili business, but lost her crop to flooding. IOM advisers suggested she try selling clothes door to door from her motorbike, both as a way of earning more money and spending more time away from the house she shares with 14 family members.

It seems to be working: officials say Juayriah is less anxious, and has gained confidence. "I think she enjoys her life more now. She has her own income," says Mohamed Hasan, an IOM trainer.

Juayriah says she still occasionally wakes at night, her heart thumping from nightmares of soldiers at her door. She shifts uncomfortably when she recalls her arrest in April 2005, and the threats to kill her unless she led her tormentors to GAM's secret hideout. Today, when she goes on sales rounds, she insists that her sister come. "I'm not brave enough to ride the motorbike by myself. My sister drives, and I sit behind her," she explains.

Such emotions are common among survivors of a conflict that took the lives of more than 12,000 people and provoked repressive measures, including periods of martial law and news blackouts. Human rights groups say the routine use of torture and intimidation by Indonesian soldiers and police went unchecked by civilian controls, while GAM also committed lesser abuses, such as beatings and extortion.

In frontline communities, such as the hamlets where Juayriah sells her scarves, the result is levels of trauma similar to those found in postwar Bosnia and Afghanistan, according to a recent study by the IOM, Harvard Medical School, and Aceh's Syiah Kuala University.

Of the 596 adults interviewed for the baseline study, 41 percent said a family member or friend had been killed during the conflict. Nearly 80 percent had lived through combat, such as firefights or bombings. One-third showed symptoms of post- traumatic stress disorder.

IOM officials say tackling trauma, anxiety, and depression is crucial to any long-term reintegration plan for both ex-fighters and civilians. It plans to begin a pilot mental health project in one district in Aceh this month and hopes to offer more outreach services to affected communities.

"Reconstruction and rehabilitation in Aceh is predicated on having a healthy, functioning community. When we have the extraordinarily high baseline level of mental health issues, it's inevitably going to impact on this process," says Paul Dillon, a spokesman for IOM.

President told to fire BRR officials

Jakarta Post - January 10, 2007

Ridwan Max Sijabat and Nani Afrida, Pematang Siantar – An alliance of non-governmental organizations has asked President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to replace senior officials at the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR).

Aceh's Anticorruption Movement (Gerak), the Aceh Forum for NGOs, the Aceh Transparency Society and Greenomics Indonesia said in a joint media conference in Banda Aceh, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, on Monday that the President should immediately replace Kuntoro Mangkusubroto as chairman of the agency because of his and the agency's poor performance.

They said the President needed to appoint a new, qualified official to improve the agency's bad performance and to allow it to reach its target by 2009.

"Kuntoro's leadership is not effective and BRR's 2009 target will not be achieved if he remains in power and his staff in the agency is maintained," said Gerak coordinator Akhiruddin, while citing the results of an investigation conducted by the alliance.

The Forum for 69 NGOs in Aceh said it was disappointed by the alleged financial leakages, the BRR's security budget and the slow pace of reconstruction work, while a huge number of internally displaced people were yet to be given houses.

Secretary general for the Forum for Aceh NGOs Wiratmadinata questioned BRR's 2006 spending of Rp 6 billion (US$664,267) for Kuntoro's bodyguards, the procurement by BRR of a number of handguns and rifles for the local police, the allocation of a security budget for the local military and graft cases in BRR's development projects.

"BRR was founded not to nourish military personnel, but to rehabilitate all assets damaged during 2004's devastating earthquake and tsunami and construct houses for displaced victims," he said.

Greenomics said that based on its field study, Kuntoro was unable to construct the policy needed to speed up the rehabilitation and reconstruction work and had been deceived by his own men, who occupied strategic positions in the agency.

"This is a strong indication that Kuntoro is incapable and not professional. There is no other alternative but that Kuntoro must be replaced immediately to ensure the rehabilitation and reconstruction work," said Greenomics coordinator Vanda Mutia Dewi.

Chief spokesman for BRR Mirza Keumala, however, declined to respond in detail to the NGOs' demands and allegations, and would only say that their evaluation was input that would help the agency improve its performance over the next three years.

He said all BRR spending in the past two years had been in line with its annual budget, which was approved by the central government and the House of Representatives.

"The BRR is open for public criticism and constructive input to improve its performance," he said, adding that the BRR was audited by the Supreme Audit Agency annually.

The agency recently admitted to mismanagement in the spending of its annual budget and said it was running short of qualified human resources to do reconstruction work.

So far, it has constructed 57,000 of 130,000 of the houses targeted for completion by 2009 and land appropriation has hindered reconstruction work.

In the 2005 fiscal year, it spent only 60 percent of its Rp 5 trillion budget and in 2006, it did the same with its Rp 11 trillion budget. The graft allegations are currently before the Banda Aceh District Court.

 Human rights/law

Jakarta to seek Soeharto millions

Sydney Morning Herald - January 16, 2007

Lindsay Murdoch, Jakarta – Eight years after Soeharto stepped down as president, the Indonesian Government has announced new moves against the 85-year-old, who ruled with an iron grip for 32 years.

As fallen strongmen go, Soeharto has had it pretty good. He spends his days watching the National Geographic channel on cable television and feeding his parrot on the veranda of his Dutch-era house in the Jakarta suburb of Menteng.

The High Court in Jakarta last August approved a decision by the Attorney-General's office to drop charges of embezzlement of more than $US500 million amassed by seven foundations Soeharto controlled during his rule, citing his ill health.

But the Attorney-General's office is now set to file a civil suit against Soeharto and his youngest son, Hutomo Mandala Putra, 44, known as Tommy. The action in the State Administrative Court is an attempt to recover some of the money Soeharto allegedly transferred from state coffers.

The Attorney-General, Abdul Rahman Saleh, said his office was still deciding how much it wants to seize, but it would be "a lot".

Human rights groups had criticised the failure to pursue criminal charges against Soeharto. "No charges have been brought against the former president for human rights violations committed during his more than three decades of power," the US-based Human Rights Watch said.

Soeharto, who is usually seen in public only when being taken to hospital for various ailments, has made no comment about the suit. He has denied amassing illegal wealth, saying the foundation money was spent on the poor.

The Attorney-General's office has also announced plans to pursue Tommy over allegedly corrupt funds that it suspects he deposited in two bank accounts in the British tax haven of Guernsey. Mr Saleh told reporters his office would appoint a lawyer in Guernsey to try to recover funds.

Tommy has been busy since he was released from jail last November after serving less than a third of his original 15-year sentence for paying a gunman to kill a judge who had convicted him of corruption and illegal weapons possession.

He has said he plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on three large property projects, including a resort on 400 hectares and a marina in Bali.

Experts slam court, House over political party law

Jakarta Post - January 15, 2007

Jakarta – A Constitutional Court ruling allowing political parties to recall their representatives from legislative bodies leaves the representative system open to abuse, political experts said.

Issued last September, the ruling allows political parties to recall publicly elected representatives over internal procedural disputes.

"I disagree, by all means, with the law," political observer Denny Indrayana told The Jakarta Post on Saturday. Denny is based at Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University.

"Those sitting in the House were elected by the people. Therefore, only the people can recall them from the House," Denny said.

The new law applies to the composition of the People's Consultative Assembly, the House of Representatives, the Regional Representatives Council and regional legislative councils. It was deliberated and passed by the House.

University of Indonesia political science expert Arbi Sanit said the law violates Indonesia's Constitution. The House has granted more power to the political parties of which it consists, he said.

Experts further said the House must not act as a law-making body as well as executor of the laws and policies that effect its own running. Such practice would allow for the abuse of power, they said.

"I'm sure there was internal lobbying among members of the House, who had an interest in the law being passed," Denny said. "The House consists of political party members. They will surely want anything that makes them more comfortable," he added.

Recently, the Muslim-oriented Reform Star Party ousted one of its members, deputy speaker of the house Zaenal Ma'arif, over his disobedience to the party's internal procedures. Zaenal, however, said his dismissal owed to his decision to engage in a second marriage.

The House has yet to dismiss Zaenal from his post as deputy speaker, though is said to be searching for his replacement.

"There's no reason for House leaders to retain Zaenal," said Denny.

Actress-turned-lawmaker Marissa Haque was also removed from the House, though by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, for her decision to run in the Banten gubernatorial election on the Prosperous Justice Party's ticket.

"The House should instead have asked the people, who voted for her in the 2004 elections, about whether to dismiss her from her post," Denny said.

A request made by a political party to recall a lawmaker must be approved by the General Elections Commission prior to the President issuing a decree to make it official.

Little progress on Suharto era abuses in Indonesia: HRW

Agence France Presse - January 12, 2007

Jakarta – Indonesia has made little progress in addressing human rights crimes committed during the rule of former dictator Suharto, US-based Human Rights Watch said.

"No charges have been brought against the former president for human rights violations committed during his more than three decades of power, or for the violence instigated by pro-Suharto forces in a failed attempt to stave off his 1998 fall from power, the New York-based rights watchdog said in its annual report released Thursday.

Suharto ruled Indonesia with an iron grip until he stepped down amid mounting unrest in 1998. More than 1,000 people died in riots which devastated the capital Jakarta.

Now 85, Suharto has also escaped trial for massive corruption, with the attorney-general's office abandoning its pursuit of him last year on health grounds.

Human Rights Watch said Indonesia had also failed to bring to justice those responsible for an orgy of violence by pro-Jakarta militias in East Timor after it voted for independence.

"Despite significant international pressure and interest, trials of senior Indonesian officers at an ad hoc human rights court in Jakarta have failed to give a credible judicial accounting for atrocities committed in East Timor in 1999," it said.

The rights court set up to try military officers and officials was widely condemned as a sham. A militia leader, Eurico Guterres, is the sole person serving a jail term for his role.

Human Rights Watch also expressed concern over the slow pace of reform of the military, which is accused of running its own sometimes illicit cash-generating businesses and rights abuses.

"The Indonesian military continues to raise money outside the government budget through a sprawling network of legal and illegal businesses, by providing paid services, and through acts of corruption such as mark-ups in military purchases," it said.

"This self-financing undermines civilian control, contributes to abuses of power by the armed forces, and impedes reform."

The rights watchdog also expressed concern about the more than one million Indonesians, mostly women, who work abroad mainly as domestic workers.

It said migrant domestic workers commonly become heavily indebted to pay exorbitant recruitment agency fees and many receive little or incorrect information about the terms of their employment.

"In the worst cases, such conditions contribute to making the migrants vulnerable to even more egregious abuses abroad, including forced labour, debt bondage, and human trafficking," it said.

Munir's widow, Garuda face off in court

Jakarta Post - January 12, 2007

Jakarta – The legal battle between the widow of murdered rights activist Munir and national carrier Garuda airline continued Thursday at the Central Jakarta District Court, with her lawyers insisting they had a legal basis for suing the company.

Munir Said Thalib died of arsenic poisoning on a Garuda flight from Singapore to Amsterdam in September 2004. His widow, Suciwati, is suing the airline and crew members who worked on the flight, including Pollycarpus, on off-duty Garuda pilot who was on the flight.

Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto was sentenced by a district court in 2005 to 14 years in prison for the murder of Munir. However, the Supreme Court quashed his murder conviction in November 2006.

The court did sentence the pilot to two years in prison for falsifying flight documents. He walked out of jail in December thanks to several sentence remissions.

"They (Garuda and crew) were wrong when they said our suit had no legal basis and that it should be automatically thrown out following the Supreme Court's decision," Choirul Anam, one of Suciwati's lawyers, told the district court during a hearing Thursday. "The decision, in fact, has strengthened our suit."

The Supreme Court's decision surprised many people, and has come under criticism by activists. The police have also been criticized for their failure to solve the murder and bring those responsible to justice.

"All of us should encourage the police to keep on working on the case. They need more confidence to find the mastermind," Suciwati said.

Her lawyers added that the National Intelligence Body (BIN) should also play a more active role in helping the police investigate the murder. According to reports, in the months and weeks before the murder Pollycarpus made about 40 phone calls to high-ranking BIN officials.

Suciwati filed her lawsuit against Garuda and crew members, including Pollycarpus, last year. The suit accuses Garuda of negligence resulting in the death of Munir.

Heru Santoso, a lawyer for the airline, said Garuda and its employees followed normal flight procedures in seating and serving Munir.

In response, Suciwati said: "The crew was negligent and failed to keep a proper watch over the food and beverages, which in fact led to Munir's death."

Authorities believe the arsenic that killed Munir was placed in a meal he was served during the flight.

Suciwati has been active in seeking international support for her campaign for justice. "This country continues to maintain impunity for human rights violators, many of whom have never been convicted," she said.

Presiding judge Andriani Nurdin adjourned the trial until Jan. 24.

Ex-justice says public opinion could keep Munir case alive

Jakarta Post - January 11, 2007

Jakarta – Strong public opinion could force the reopening of the Munir murder case, former Supreme Court justice Adi Andojo Soetjipto said Wednesday.

Adi Andojo said the most effective way to keep the case alive would be for the public to demand a review of the recent Supreme Court decision to quash the murder conviction of Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto. Pollycarpus, who was pilot for national carrier Garuda, was convicted by a lower court for the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

"The Supreme Court's decision to let Pollycarpus go free is final. However, the Attorney General's Office can file for a review if there is strong public opinion that the decision has harmed the court's image," Adi said while addressing a public discussion of the Munir case in Utan Kayu, East Jakarta.

In 2005, Pollycarpus was sentenced to 14 years in prison for the poisoning death of Munir aboard a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Singapore in September 2004. The Supreme Court overturned that verdict in November, but jailed Pollycarpus for two years for falsifying flight documents.

Pollycarpus was due for release in March 2007, but was freed from Cipinang Prison in East Jakarta in December last year after the government granted him a one-month Christmas remission and an additional two-month remission it said he should have received on Independence Day in August.

The decision to release Pollycarpus from jail early has drawn angry protests from many rights activists.

Suciwati, the widow of Munir, has sought explanations from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono over Pollycarpus' release, but no response has been forthcoming.

Suciwati has sought the support of the international community, including the US government, the United Nations and the European Union, in seeking justice for her husband.

The Indonesian public and the international community have voiced strong concern over the case and have pushed the government to take concrete action to resolve it.

Lukman Hakim, a member of the law and human rights commission at the House of Representatives, said that because of the strong public interest, the Munir case was no longer just a criminal matter and its resolution required the good will of the government.

He cited the political nuances of the case, including rumors and suspicions of military involvement because of Munir's past criticisms of the force.

Lukman called on former members of a government-sanctioned fact- finding team, which was set up to probe the Munir murder, to reveal their findings.

"The fact-finding team, which was established through a presidential decree, is no longer in existence as it has been dissolved. Now, as common citizens, they should be able to reveal the team's findings to the public," he said.

Lukman said he remained optimistic the government could settle the case, adding that the authorities had all the tools needed, including quality human resources.

He said the government also could capitalize on the momentum of the national security bill deliberations, which have raised concerns over the state military and security systems.

"The police can use this momentum to prove their professionalism, as well as to show the general public that they can be objective and neutral in the midst of political pressure," he said.

Lawmakers, experts differ on security bill

Jakarta Post - January 10, 2007

Jakarta – Lawmakers on a key committee are optimistic that a proposed bill on national security will pass, putting the National Police under the supervision of a ministry. Experts, however, are calling for a more thorough discussion.

"Around 75 to 80 percent of the lawmakers in Commission I agree that the National Police should be under a ministry," a member of the commission, Djoko Susilo, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday at the House. Commission I oversees defense, security, communication, information and law.

The bill was proposed by the Defense Ministry and the drafting process initially involved the Indonesian Military (TNI), the police and experts on defense and security affairs. But the police left the team as they objected to the idea of being under a ministry, said Djoko.

"We hope the Defense Ministry sends the bill to the House as soon as possible," he added.

Theo L. Sambuaga, chairman of the commission, also agreed that the police should be responsible to a minister rather than the president. "Personally, I prefer the Home Affairs Ministry to manage the police," he said. The final decision would be made later.

In Malaysia, the national police are under the Home Affairs Ministry, while in Japan and some other countries, they are under the Justice Ministry.

The Defense Ministry sponsored the drafting of the bill in the spirit of the reform movement to allow the police to work more efficiently and eliminate the rampant abuse of power within the force.

If the House passes the national security bill, the National Police Chief, unlike the Attorney General and the Chief Justice, will no longer be responsible to the president. The police will still have full authority over their field operations, however.

"Administratively the police will be under a ministry, but in the field, they will be independent," Djoko said.

The ministry would address political issues and draw up the annual budget for the police. "When an institution has both political and operational authorities, this leads to the abuse of power," Djoko added.

Djoko was positive that the bill would be passed later this year, as the House had given it top priority. "We will not compromise with the police if they do not accept the law. They should comply with the decision of the House and the government," he said.

Criminologist Adrianus Meliala, however, said the House should consider carefully before passing the bill. "It's too early to say that the police need to be put under the auspices of a ministry," said Adrianus.

"If the government and the House insist on passing the law this year, there will be around 80 laws that need to be reviewed, including laws about the police, immigration, intelligence and the military. Are they really aware of this?" said Adrianus.

He added that if the bill were passed, the public might think the government and the House favor the military over the police. "The bill may be good. However, not all good things are acceptable," he said.

Even if the House passes the bill, Adrianus said he was pessimistic that the law would take effect soon. "Observing the style of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who always plays it safe and placates his people, it will take a long time before the law is enforced," he said.

"SBY needs to be careful. If he approves the law, he could face opposition from the police in the 2009 general election," said Adrianus.

Andi Widjajanto, an expert on the military, suggested the House put the bill on hold. "They should amend the Police Law first and talk with the police," Andi said.

Suharto civil claim completed

Tempo Interactive - January 10, 2007

Sandy Indra Pratama, Jakarta – The Attorney General's Office has completed the draft of the civil claim against former president Suharto in the seven foundations case.

Yoseph Suardi Sabda, Civil Director and a Deputy Attorney General for Civil and State Administration, said that the claim draft document has been submitted to Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh.

"The draft is now being studied by the Attorney General's Office (AGO) expert staff and being perfected," he said when contacted yesterday (9/1).

Yoseph explained the civil claims as regards the seven foundations – Yayasan Supersemar, Dana Sejahtera Mandiri, Trikora, Dharmais, Dana Abadi Karya Bakti, Amal Bhakti Muslim Pancasila and Yayasan Gotong Royong Kemanusiaan – were separated.

The claim documents contained, he said, questions about government funds that should have been used for humanitarian purposes and the underprivileged, but were not.

"It was not only government regulations, but even the foundations' our bylaws were violated by the misuse of funds," he said.

Yoseph went on to say that under the civil draft claims, the AGO as the state's attorney would prosecute Suharto as the first defendant while the second defendants are the foundations themselves.

"In the draft claims, the AGO has confirmed that the state's losses were due to the seven foundations," he said.

After the claim draft was studied, Yoseph said the AGO will await a special power of attorney from the government.

According to him, the parties that can issue such a special power of attorney are the President or the Finance Minister.

However, Yoseph said the AGO was not authorized to ask for this. "So it depends on the government. Once the special power of attorney has been obtained, we can handle the matter directly," he said.

KPI asks Constitutional court to reinstate its powers

Jakarta Post - January 10, 2007

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta – The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) has taken the government to the Constitutional Court over its decision to issue regulations reducing the KPI to a consultative body.

KPI deputy chairman Sinansari Ecip and commission members Sasa Djuarsa and Bimo Nugroho Sekundatmo asked the court on Tuesday to reinstate it as the sole regulatory body in the broadcasting industry.

"We are of the opinion that the KPI is the only regulatory body that has the authority to issue broadcasting licenses and this view has also been endorsed by the House of Representatives," Sinansari told the court's panel of constitutional judges.

He said that under the 2002 Broadcasting Law, the KPI was a manifestation of the state, which grants broadcasting licenses through the commission.

The government, however, chose to understand the "state" referred to in the article to mean the Communication and Information Ministry, he said.

Sinansari said that the interpretation had allowed the government to issue four regulations that had diminished the KPI's authority and reduced it to a consultative body.

Last year, the ministry issued a regulation that boosted its authority as the broadcasting regulatory body and stated that it had the right to renew licenses for television and radio stations.

Since then, the ministry has renewed licenses for private stations RCTI and TransTV, along with Jakarta-based radio stations Elshinta, Indika, Radio-A, Smart FM, Otomotion and Radio One.

A number of legislators have also criticized the ministry for delaying the release of the KPI's operating funds, for which the ministry is responsible.

Sinansari said that the ministry's issuing of licenses contradicted the broadcasting law. "The broadcasting law clearly stipulates that the regulatory body is the KPI and it makes no mention at all of the communication and information ministry," he said.

The KPI members told the court that it should decide which institution could represent the state as a regulatory body, the KPI or the ministry.

Bimo said the commission had been granted authority by the 1945 Constitution to guarantee the free flow of information. "However, such a role has been reduced by the presence of the Communication and Information Ministry," he said.

Judge Ahmad Roestandi said the KPI members needed to build a strong case to challenge the ministry. The three-judge panel gave the commission two weeks to build their case, while the panel will decide whether the communication and information minister will be summoned.

 Politics/political parties

Papernas proposes five alternative presidential candidates

Kompas - January 17, 2007

Jakarta – The National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) has proposed five figures that would be suitable to be nominated as presidential candidates in the 2009 elections. The five figures are Kwik Kian Gie, Sukardi Rinakit, Rizal Ramli, Hasyim Wahid and Dita Indah Sari.

Speaking in Jakarta on Tuesday January 16, the general chairperson of the Papernas Preparatory Committee, Dominggus Oktavianus Tobu Kiik said that local Papernas boards and members have screened and come up with the five alternative presidential candidates who are economic, political and movement activist figures.

Kwik Kian Gie and Rizal Ramli are economists with experience as ministers while Sukardi Rinakit is known as a politician and the director of the Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicated research group. Dita Indah Sari is a movement activist and chairperson of the Peoples Democratic Party while Hasyim Wahid is the younger brother of former President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Of these five figures, only Dita has declared that she is ready to be nominated by Papernas. The other candidates meanwhile have not provided any confirmation. When contacted by Kompas Rinakit only laughed. "Let me just be a researcher. Cos' the president needs experience", he said. He did say however that the discourse that has surfaced on alternative presidential candidates is positive in terms of stimulating the emergence of an alternative leader.

According to Dominggus, an alternative presidential candidate would have to have a high commitment to resolving the nation's problems. Currently, there are no traditional political leaders that have the capacity needed for the nation to extract itself from the various problems it faces.

The chairperson of the Papernas Preparatory Committee, Agus Jabo Priyono, said that the candidate must be able to take up Papernas' program that flows out of the Three Banners of National Unity for the Welfare of the People. The Three Banners are the nationalisation of the mining industry, the abolition of the foreign debt and building a national industry for the welfare of the people. (mzw/bdm)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Doubts expressed over transition to democracy

Jakarta Post - January 12, 2007

Jakarta – Indonesia's transition toward democratic consolidation lacks key reforming elements required for success, said chairman of the Institute for Review of Democracy and Welfare, Fadjroel Rachman.

"It would be hard (for the country) to transform (from an authoritarian system) into a democracy because the old forces still exist," he said at a seminar on Indonesian experiences in the post-independence era.

Fadjroel said democratic consolidation would only be possible if the current regime freed itself from the New Order's legacy. This includes its values, individuals, institutions and the practice of totalitarianism.

Soeharto's New Order forces still dominate important political institutions and parties, including in the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) and Golkar, he said.

Golkar, the prominent political party of the Soeharto era, now makes up 18.87 percent of the 678-strong MPR and 23.7 percent of the 550-strong House of Representatives (DPR). This condition, he said, made it difficult for a smooth transition toward a more democratic system.

Fadjroel also said amendments made to the nation's constitution were not adequate. "We need a totally new democratic constitution for democratic consolidation. The amendments are not enough."

He also said that continued involvement of the old forces had worsened the performance of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which is only empowered to review cases from 1999 onward. "Thus, it releases the old regime from its responsibilities and for what it did in the past," he said.

Furthermore, the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation (KKR), which was created to investigate the New Order's past human rights violations, has been dissolved by the Constitutional Court, he said.

Fadjroel insists moves to speed democratic consolidation would prove difficult. "We have to go back to 1998," he said.

Yudi Latif, deputy rector at Paramadina University, agreed with Fadjroel, insisting Indonesia was still lacking many key democratic characteristics. He said, however, that the country had shown some improvement in its transition toward democracy.

"A settlement with the political elite has been reached which will help the democratic spirit. The political elite have shown their willingness to share the political sphere, and not dominate it solely with their groups' interests in mind, which is good for democracy," he said.

However, democracy in Indonesia is still weak because the country's achievements are still procedural in nature. A democracy requires concrete economic measures and good social welfare programs, he said.

He said the government's enforcement of political reforms was lacking, adding that the country needed more commitment to the eradication of corruption and empowerment of small-scale business. Indonesia's democracy, he said, needed more public discussion to help legitimize political decisions.

Yudi used last year's debate over Sharia-inspired bylaws as an example, insisting the movement to pass the bylaws lacked support because they had not been appropriately deliberated upon by the public.

Government does not keep promises, PDI-P says

Jakarta Post - January 10, 2007

Wasti Atmodjo, Sanur – The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) concluded its congress here Tuesday by releasing a final evaluation of the government's performance.

"After two years of carefully evaluating the performance of the present government from the regional to central level, I can clearly comment that they have failed to meet the people's expectations for the betterment of their lives," party chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri said.

The PDI-P condemned the government's handling of the natural and man-made disasters that have affected the country in the last two years.

A winner in the previous election and tipped as an opposition to the current government, the PDI-P also said that the government had failed to properly manage the country's transportation system or haj pilgrimages to Mecca.

"I urge the media not to partially quote my speeches. Here I am delivering my opinion on the government's performance," said Megawati, who has been criticized in the past for remaining silent on many political and national issues.

The party also said that it was confident about its performance in the 2009 elections.

"We will be running like the wind. We are not a marathon runner, but a sprinter," Megawati said in her closing remarks at the congress. Megawati, Indonesia's first female president, was in power from 2001 to 2004, when she was defeated by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The possibility of her running in the 2009 presidential election was raised at the congress, although party secretary general Pramono Anung said that Megawati is yet to agree.

"This is a recommendation that was agreed upon by the majority of party members, but a further meeting of PDI-P leaders will comprehensively discuss the issue and make a final decision," Pramono said. The party's next congress will be held in 2008.

The meeting issued 23 recommendations on improving national issues and the political system, as well as imposing a moratorium on environmental exploitation.

Among the most controversial recommendations is the proposal to change the election schedule, which suggests the presidential election be held before the legislative poll.

Under the laws that governed the 2004 elections, a legislative election is required in order to name the parties that can nominate presidential candidates.

The PDI-P's recommendation has drawn criticism from a number of political candidates, who have said the proposal suggests the party is concerned it may lose the 2009 presidential election.

 War on corruption

SBY under increasing fire over allowance hike

Jakarta Post - January 12, 2007

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta – A coalition of corruption watchdogs has asked President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to revoke a regulation that increases allowances for councillors of provinces, regencies and cities.

The coalition said Thursday that by issuing the regulation, Yudhoyono had unwittingly endorsed a massive swindle of taxpayer money.

The coalition includes Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), Transparency International Indonesia, The Partnership for Governance Reform and Gadjah Mada University's Center for Anti- Graft Studies (Pukat).

"Although government regulations state that the payment of the allowance has to take into account the capability of the local budget, a number of local administrations have paid the councillors the maximum amount and as a result these regions suffer from a budget deficit. This is corruption," Denny Indrayana of Pukat said at a press conference.

The coalition has estimated that in the next five years, close to Rp 17.5 trillion (US$1.9 billion) of taxpayer money will have to be earmarked for councillors' allowances, which include attendance fees, family allowances, communication allowances and meal costs.

Denny said most regencies in the country, who already have barely enough money to pay for public services, will likely suffer from a chronic budget deficit once the new regulation takes effect.

"How can poor regencies such as Bulukumba in South Sulawesi, with a regional income of Rp 5 billion, or Yahukimo in Papua with a local income of only Rp 911 million, pay these allowances, which can go as high as Rp 5 billion (per regency) in one year?" Denny asked.

The coalition also criticized the fact that the raise was retroactive. The regulation was issued on Nov. 14 last year, but ordered the increased allowances to be paid dating back to January.

A number of local administrations have started paying out the new allowances. The Banten provincial administration, for example, paid the allowance to councillors only one week after the regulation was issued.

Under the new scheme, each council member will get an additional allowance of Rp 108 million per year, while council leaders and deputies will get an additional Rp 342 million and Rp 223 million per year respectively.

On Wednesday, the Finance Ministry issued a directive that the payment of the allowance must not exceed the capability of local budgets.

The coalition is expected to seek a judicial review on the regulation from the Supreme Court later this month.

Bambang Widjojanto of ICW said the raise in allowances was politically motivated. "The timing could not be more perfect. The government will soon deliberate 11 political laws with the House of Representatives and it really needs support from political factions," Bambang said.

He suspected that the new allowance scheme was devised to bribe political parties. "This is a new type of corruption, politics taking precedence over budget," Bambang said.

Anti-corruption court law urgently needed in 2007

Jakarta Post - January 11, 2007

Sofie A. Schuette, Jakarta – In view of the recent reporting by The Jakarta Post on the Constitutional Court's decision to give lawmakers three years to enact specific legislation governing the Anticorruption Court, with the latest report, A corruption body, a witch-hunt and a counterattack, appearing on Jan. 5, some further reflection seems necessary.

The public debate centers on the Constitutional Court's ruling on a series of requests for a constitutional review of various articles of Law No. 30 of 2002 on the Corruption Eradication Commission, which were filed by a number of applicants in August and September 2006, including persons prosecuted by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and subsequently convicted of corruption by the Anticorruption Court.

In the Constitutional Court's decision last month, all of the challenges were dismissed except for the one concerning the Anticorruption Court. The Constitutional Court found that the existence of the Anticorruption Court, with its own procedures and jurisdiction to only hear cases prosecuted by the KPK, resulted in legal dualism that needed to be addressed through the enactment of specific new legislation providing a firm legal basis for the Anticorruption Court within a maximum of three years. Until then, however, the relevant provisions of Law No. 30 remain in effect and the Anticorruption Court, as currently constituted, is able to continue its work.

Under Law No. 30 of 2002, two new institutions were established, the KPK and a special court to try corruption cases, which was constituted as a chamber of the Central Jakarta District Court, although the jurisdiction of both institutions extended to the entire territory of Indonesia. The underlying reasons that prompted the national legislature to set up these new institutions was the fact that corruption seriously impairs national development and was not being handled effectively by the existing agencies.

Many believed – and continue to do so – that the establishment of an independent commission with a strong mandate for both prevention and enforcement, and a special court to try graft cases, was the last resort to eradicate corruption, which has become so deeply and firmly entrenched in this society.

In late 2004, the KPK brought its first case before the Anticorruption Court, to a bench consisting of two career judges appointed by the chief justice and three non-career judges appointed by the President. Since its establishment in 2004, a total of 20 verdicts handed down by the Anti-Corruption Court have achieved final and conclusive legal effect.

Twenty-three cases are currently being heard by the Court: 11 at first instance, one at the appellate level, and eleven at the Supreme Court (final appeal) level.

It is true, as argued in the applications to the Constitutional Court, that none of the cases brought before the Anticorruption Court by the KPK have resulted in acquittals. It is not true, however, that the prosecution of a case by the KPK will automatically result in a guilty verdict.

Rather, the fact that the KPK's success rate has been so outstanding is the result of solid case-building based on the careful gathering of evidence. The high success rate may also be interpreted as a sign of clean court proceedings.

The KPK receives dozens of complaints and reports about alleged corruption cases every day – about 16,000 to date, in all. However, it is a comparatively small organization and can only go after a limited number of cases, while turning over others to the police, prosecution service and state auditors.

The KPK was not designed or intended to handle all corruption cases in Indonesia, but rather to prosecute cases of major public importance, to oversee and coordinate the work of other agencies in the fight against corruption, and to serve as a catalyst for reform. From the very beginning, it has been made abundantly clear that the majority of corruption cases will continue to be investigated and prosecuted by the police or the prosecution service.

In fact, considerations concerning the need to have an Anticorruption Court to hear all corruption cases, whether from the KPK or the prosecution service, were already adduced by the KPK to the government following Presidential Instruction No. 5 of 2004 on the Acceleration of the Fight against Corruption, and to the committee drafting amendments to the existing anticorruption laws – Law No. 31 of 1999 and Law No. 20 of 2001 – a process that is still underway at the present time.

Considering the time limit of three years the Constitutional Court has given lawmakers, it is strongly recommended that the government submit new legislation reconstituting the position of the Anticorruption Court to parliament within the next six months. Furthermore, it is highly desirable that parliament prioritize the deliberation and passage of such a bill so that it can be promulgated by the President this year.

This would give the Justice and Human Rights Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Supreme Court two years to prepare for the establishment of special chambers to handle corruption cases, including the selection and training of non-career judges for these courts.

Experience with the establishment of the existing Anticorruption Court as a chamber of the Central Jakarta District Court shows the importance of thorough preparation to ensure the timely availability of the necessary funding and infrastructure.

There is certainly a lot that will need to be discussed in detail, decided on and prepared over the next three years. While doing all this, the overriding common cause should be constantly kept in mind: the eradication of corruption and the promotion of legal certainty and public welfare.

[The writer is the international anti-corruption advisor to the KPK.]

 Gender issues

Domestic violence in South Sumatra

Jakarta Post - January 16, 2007

Palembang, South Sumatra – The Palembang chapter of the Women's Crisis Center recorded 400 cases of domestic violence in South Sumatra last year.

Yeni Roslaini, the chapter's chairwoman, said on Sunday that 334 of the cases were assaults on housewives, while the remainder included sexual harassment and violence against children and domestic workers.

Yeni said that two of the cases had resulted in the deaths of victims in Palembang. "But the cases were not tried (in court) on the request of the victim's families," she said.

She said that there had been 147 cases of domestic violence against housewives in 2004, up from 92 in 2003. "The phenomenon of violence against housewives constitutes the tip of the iceberg. The real number could be much higher because many cases are not reported," she said.

Domestic violence was caused by various problems, including economic, cultural and social issues, Yeni said.

Jambi students found working as prostitutes

Jakarta Post - January 12, 2007

Jambi – The local social welfare and community empowerment office says more female students are getting involved in the sex industry in Jambi city.

Office head M. Basyari said Thursday this conclusion was based on the results of prostitution raids on hotels and nightspots in the city.

Without providing exact figures, Basyari said 80 percent of the women picked up during the raids were high school and university students. "This is a bit worrying," he said.

Basyari said this situation required immediate attention from all related parties, otherwise more and more female students would be drawn into the sex industry. "Parents have to be watchful of their daughters' activities, especially what they are doing outside the house," he said.

M. Zayadi, a member of the Jambi Legislative Council, also urged parents to do a better job of monitoring their daughters.

Politics and sharia this year's feminist targets

Jakarta Post - January 9, 2007

Jakarta – Women's rights activists pledged Monday to continue to campaign for greater political representation for women and to fight against sharia-inspired laws.

"We are pursuing changes in the election law to require that 30 percent of parties' legislature candidates are women," said Masruchah, the secretary general of the Indonesian Women's Coalition, speaking at the coalition's annual report meeting.

"This regulation should be made mandatory, so that parties will not be allowed to run in the 2009 general elections (if they fail to comply)," she said. While current electoral law states that 30 percent of a party's candidates should be women, it is not compulsory.

"We have been working to draft the amendment and are lobbying several House commissions related to electoral issues, such as Commission VIII which oversees women's empowerment," Masruchah said.

The coalition has also spoken about electoral reform with political parties, women's organizations and in the public arena. It also plans to work to amend the marriage law, particularly the polygamy articles, which it regards as discriminating against women.

"Polygamy is not fair and is considered violence against women," she said. "An article in the law stipulates that a man is allowed to take a new wife whenever his current wife 'cannot function as a wife', (in situations such as) being infertile or undergoing a serious illness."

Public attention was recently focused on the polygamy issue when a popular Muslim cleric announced he had taken a second wife. There have been calls to ban the practice completely. Sharia law allows a man to have four wives.

The coalition is also fighting against regional sharia-based bylaws. "We have filed a judicial review with the Supreme Court to annul a sharia bylaw enacted by the Tangerang municipality administration," Masruchah said.

The coalition, which is still waiting for results of the judicial review, said there were 56 sharia bylaws across the country, most of which were passed in 2006.

 Health & education

Indonesia reels from two new bird flu deaths

Agence France Presse - January 13, 2007

Nabiha Shahab, Jakarta – Bird flu has killed two young women in Indonesia, officials have said, taking fatalities this week to four in the country worst-hit by a disease scientists say could cause a human pandemic.

The women bought live chickens from a market on December 30 for the Muslim Eid festival but the birds later died suddenly, the Kompas daily quoted a health official as saying Saturday.

The women were admitted to Persahabatan hospital on Thursday. Zulfah, 27, and Ani Afriani, 22, died of acute pneumonia on Friday and Saturday respectively, health officials said, taking the overall death toll to 61.

The vast majority of bird flu cases have occurred after contact with infected poultry.

Officials had hoped that vaccinating poultry and increasing public awareness would eradicate human deaths from the disease in Indonesia this year.

Health minister Siti Fadilah Supari lashed out at local governments for failing to eliminate backyard farming from residential areas.

"I strongly called for local governments to make sure there was no poultry farming in residential areas," she said on ElShinta radio.

"The central government has done maximum effort, through mass media and non-governmental organisations, to help make sure people know how to prevent themselves from being infected by the deadly virus," she added.

She stressed that people would have to be actively involved in helping to prevent the spread of the virus amid fears of a cluster of cases after the husband and son of one of this week's victims, a 37-year-old woman, also fell ill.

She and a teenage boy were the first reported fatalities in Indonesia since November last year.

Persahabatan hospital is currently treating seven patients thought to have bird flu, including the husband and 18-year-old son.

The son's condition is worsening and he has been placed in an isolation unit, officials said, but his father is improving.

Poultry consumption usually increases during religious festivals. Indonesian Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, on December 31.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed more than 150 people worldwide since late 2003 and triggered the slaughter of tens of millions of poultry.

Scientists fear it could mutate into a form that could cause a human flu pandemic.

Efforts to curb the spread of the disease in Indonesia have been hampered by the reluctance of some poultry owners, especially backyard farmers, to hand over their sick or potentially infected birds for slaughter.

Indonesia last month announced a substantial increase in spending on the prevention of bird flu and pandemic preparedness. Total international and domestic funding has risen to 126.5 million dollars for 2007, up from 91 million last year.

Indonesia is continuing its "Beat the bird flu" campaign to raise public awareness and aims to restructure its poultry industry this year.

Poor rely on community for schooling

Jakarta Post - January 10, 2007

Anissa S. Febrina, Jakarta – A 12-meter-square single-classroom kindergarten in a kampong in Pangkalan Jati, South Jakarta, offers nothing fancy. But, for the last five years, it has been a safe haven for toddlers from poor families in the area.

Initiated by a group of local women involved in regular meetings at a nearby mosque, the kindergarten runs a morning playgroup, charging parents a monthly fee of as low as nothing.

Separately, in a squatter settlement in Bukit Duri, South Jakarta, parents send their children to an affordable kindergarten run by 70-year-old Herry Insiami Koestiono.

Aside from providing services for poor children, the school also teaches adults to read and write.

While wealthier families can choose either to enroll their children in an international preschool or hire a babysitter, community-initiated kindergartens are poor families' last resort.

If there happens to be one in their neighborhood. Others who are not so lucky have nothing to offer their children but the school of hard knocks.

Scavengers pulling carts loaded with junk, and their children, are a common sight in the city. Saniman's three toddlers – Mega, Yuli and Wati – have learned pretty much everything they know hanging out by the railway tracks in Palmerah, Central Jakarta.

"A nice woman rented a house for us, but I can't leave my children unattended all day," said Saniman's wife. Apparently early education and care is not a priority on her side of town.

Despite studies saying that the existence of such centers benefits toddlers from low-income families more than their better-off counterparts, Jakarta has yet to see enough centers providing early education for the poor.

According to the Jakarta Statistics Agency, only 92,850 of the some 720,000 toddlers in the city have access to the service of 1,833 kindergartens.

A review of the development of early education and care in the country, conducted by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 2004, cited that children from poor families receiving education at an early age would have the chance to increase their future potential income by 12.5 percent. Sadly, the country's spending on early education and care is among the lowest in the world, lagging behind that of Jamaica, Mexico, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

During its review in Jakarta, the UNESCO team also found that subsidies from the National Education Ministry were often misdirected to train teachers at wealthy kindergartens instead of community-initiated ones in the city's kampongs.

It further pointed out the potential of maximizing the role of long-time community-based activities like the Family Welfare Program (PKK) and integrated health service posts (Posyandu).

East Jakarta municipality has started by training PKK members to manage small day-care centers for toddlers in the area.

Meanwhile, through simple corporate responsibility programs, the private sector could also join in the effort to make early education and care available by supporting community-managed centers.

Such a social investment would undoubtedly go a long way toward improving lives.

 Armed forces/defense

Government plans to do its arms shopping at home

Jakarta Post - January 11, 2007

Jakarta – The government will purchase arms from local vendors and cover all the outlay involved, a coordinating meeting between the Defense Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Industry Ministry, the State Ministry for Research and Technology, the State Ministry for State-owned Enterprises and the Indonesian Military concluded Wednesday.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who chaired the meeting, said the funding for arms purchases, which could amount to US$3.7 billion, would be taken from the government's export credit fund.

Kalla said the decision had been made as part of the government's efforts to develop a homegrown weapons industry and reduce the country's dependency on foreign vendors.

"We want to see all the weapons that can be manufactured here actually being made here. If we can't do it now, we will engage in more research and development to make it possible," Kalla said after the meeting at the Defense Ministry, as quoted by Detik.com.

The Vice President said the exact details of how much the government would spend on arms purchases from local vendors would be decided on within the next month.

Also present at the meeting were Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo A.S., Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Industry Fahmi Idris, State Minister for Research and Technology Kusmayanto Kadiman, State Minister for State-owned Enterprises Soegiharto, TNI commander Air Chief Marshal Djoko Suyanto, and the chiefs of staff of the three branches of the military.

However, the meeting did not decide on what types of arms would be purchased from local vendors.

Juwono said the Defense Ministry and TNI Headquarters would work out the details of what types of arms and the quantities that would be ordered by the government.

He said that the decision to purchase arms from local vendors was aimed at developing the local defense industry.

"We will make efforts to encourage strategic industries and private firms to work together to develop a domestic defense industry," Juwono was quoted by Detik.com as saying.

However, Juwono said the government was not aiming for the development of a heavy armaments industry, but was rather focusing on the development of a mid-level one.

"Jet fighters, submarines, large-caliber canon are all beyond the capabilities of local industry. What we agreed on was mid-level technology in transportation," Juwono said.

Indonesia's defense systems have long been at the mercy of foreign vendors, and politics has at times disrupted the delivery of armaments.

Following the arms embargo imposed by the United States, the government looked to countries in Europe for the supply of new weapons. The embargo was lifted in 2005.

TNI head wants better communication

Jakarta Post - January 10, 2007

Jakarta – In an unprecedented move Tuesday, Indonesian Military (TNI) head Air Chief Marshal Djoko Suyanto spoke publicly about the poor relationship between TNI headquarters and the Defense Ministry.

Addressing a Defense Ministry leadership meeting in Jakarta, Djoko called for intense coordination and communication between the TNI and the Defense Ministry so that the state's defenses could reach their full potential.

"The 2004 Indonesian Military Law states that the TNI's strategic policies and defense administration are under the supervision of the Defense Ministry. However, in practice, the Defense Ministry sometimes issues policies without prior coordination or communication with TNI headquarters," Antara quoted Djoko as saying.

Djoko added that such communication gaps had frequently surprised both institutions and resulted in incomplete policies. He said that any policies issued by the ministry would have significant implications for the TNI's performance.

"Therefore, good coordination and communication should be established between TNI headquarters and the Defense Ministry," he added.

Apparently responding to the TNI chief's statement, Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said the ministry had decided to improve coordination among defense-related institutions by the end of this year.

"For 2007, the defense ministry has decided to improve coordination among institutions related to the TNI in an attempt to maximize the performance of the ministry as the state's defense political authority," Juwono said.

Separately, Defense Ministry secretary-general Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin said the ministry had been able to reduce "leakages" in budget spending at both the ministry and TNI headquarters.

"For the year 2005, we recorded unaccounted expenditures of Rp 225 billion (US$24.9 million). Meanwhile, last year the amount had dropped to Rp 100 billion," Sjafrie told journalists after the meeting, as quoted by detik.com news portal.

He added that leaks occurred in the procurement sector, particularly in arms deals, and in development projects.

"From 2007 and on, the Defense Ministry will establish and consider the scale of priority in budget spending," he said, citing efforts to curb illegal logging and illegal fishing as examples.

 Economy & investment

Focus on labor-intensive industries, government told

Jakarta Post - January 11, 2007

Ika Krismantari, Jakarta – The government needs to formulate and implement policies that promote the speedy growth of the real sector, and labor-intensive industries in particular, to help tackle Indonesia's "economic paradox", a discussion forum concluded Wednesday.

The forum, initiated by the Jakarta-based think thank, The Habibie Center (THC), used the term "economic paradox" to refer to the fact that, despite the country's macroeconomic stability, the real sector had yet to get into top gear, as a result of which poverty and unemployment remained all pervasive.

Therefore, THC urged the government to focus on policies such as the overhauling of the investment, tax and labor legislation so as to stimulate the private sector and investment in labor- intensive industries – primarily manufacturing and agriculture – in order to foster strong and sustainable economic growth, thus helping tackle the poverty problem.

The World Bank says that 110 million people, or nearly half of the population in Indonesia, are living in poverty – defined by a per capita expenditure of US$2 per day, while the number of unemployed and underemployed people is estimated at more than 40 million.

"The poverty problem will continue to exist as the government is only concentrating on monetary policies while neglecting the other sectors that have the potential to provide jobs for the unemployed, such as agriculture and manufacturing," said Umar Juoro, a senior THC researcher.

He admitted that the government had done a fairly good job in restoring macroeconomics stability, as could be seen from the continued decline in inflation and interest rates, which both currently stand at single-digit levels.

However, the government needed to act to quickly improve the investment and business climate, which would in turn attract fresh money to the real sector. Only robust investment flows, he added, could accelerate economic activity and create jobs.

"Boosting investment means that the government should act to ensure more flexible labor legislation, provide investors with incentives, such as tax holidays, eliminate lengthy and costly bureaucratic processes, and improve coordination between the central government and local administrations," Umar explained.

"If amended labor legislation cannot be enacted due to the opposition of the labor unions, why not do the job through a government regulation?"

Without drastic measures to increase investment, the THC predicts that Indonesia's economy will grow this year by not more than 6 percent, while full-year inflation will remain flat at between 6 and 7 percent.

THC also predicts that bank lending will increase by around 20 percent from 13 percent last year.

The government has set an economic growth target of 6.3 percent for this year. Andrinov A. Chaniago, another senior THC researcher, urged the government to pay more attention to local government ordinances, many of which were detrimental to investment.

He also reiterated the need for the central government to require local administrations to establish sound and accountable systems for the management of their development funds following Bank Indonesia's recent revelation that the country's regions had parked funds totaling more than Rp 43 trillion in central bank treasury bills (SBI).

The 'success story' of New Order rice self-sufficiency

Jakarta Post - January 11, 2007

Budiawan, Yogyakarta – Floods and the shortage of rice stocks leading to higher prices for the essential commodity are two of the current problems facing the country.

On the surface, these two problems seem separate issues. However, a critical assessment of the rice "self-sufficiency" achieved in the mid-1980s reveals the two problems are interrelated. Floods as a result of environmental destruction have been at the cost of this momentary self-sufficiency – far too high a price to pay.

During most of the past 20 years, Indonesia has been a net rice importer. But just a few years earlier in 1984, the Food and Agriculture Organization awarded Indonesia for successfully achieving rice self-sufficiency. But as the FAO lauded Indonesia as a model developing country for managing to meet its national food needs, the rot was setting in.

Many factors were behind this failure of sufficiency, and the most important was the lack of concern about the environmental consequences of unchecked agricultural development.

Since the first Five-Year Development Plan (1968-1973), Indonesia under Soeharto had a strong ambition to achieve rice self- sufficiency, as it was realized that historically rice was not merely an economic commodity, but a strategic political commodity in Indonesia. Because of this ambition, the government mobilized various resources for the success of rice production.

The direct and visible result of such strategies was the tremendous increase of rice production. In 1970, the total production of rice was 19.2 million tons; in 1980, 29.6 million tons; and in 1990, 44.9 million tons. Despite this significant increase, as Indonesia's population growth was still relatively high – 1.8 percent, the country had to again import rice to secure its national stocks as the 1980s neared their end.

The issues of population pressure outside Java are now critical. Although the amount of land and resources outside Java seem abundant, soil fertility and other physical characteristics are not so promising for agricultural practices. Conversion from tropical rain forests to agricultural land does not always create land with good-quality crops, especially paddy fields. It should not surprise people when these lands are classified as critical; deforested and degraded.

As a result of a national policy to maintain rice self- sufficiency – especially the expansion of rice fields outside Java, lowland areas planted in rice increased in all regions except Java. In Kalimantan, for example, the expansion of lowland rice fields from 1980 to 1990 reached 4.9 percent; while in Sumatra, 2.5 percent; in Sulawesi, 2.4 percent. In Java there was a slight decrease of 0.2 percent. This might be related to rapid industrialization and other uses of land. However, during the same period, the harvested rice areas in Java increased by about 1.27 percent a year. This was an indication of an increased degree of intensive land-use practices on paddies.

The expansion of harvested-rice areas obviously had something to do with the government policies of rice intensification through BIMAS (mass guidance), INMAS (mass intensification), INSUS (special intensification) and OPSUS (special operations), coupled with extensive government investment in irrigation schemes. These programs were actually the application of land-saving technology methods, which, in turn, had serious environmental impacts.

Land-use practices have indeed pushed agricultural growth and the increase of rice production up to 1997. However, at the same time they have also served as an agent for land degradation. Official data estimates the rate of decline of forested land at no more than 200,000 hectares a year, however, some international agencies have put the annual rate of deforestation far higher, at about a million hectares.

When deforestation is defined as any change or transfer of forested land to other uses, the area deforested and the rate of deforestation in Indonesia is the highest in Southeast Asia. This is mainly caused by forest conversion into agricultural use, and for reservoirs and infrastructure needs. The rate is even higher when deforestation refers to all forest losses.

In the context of the Indonesian economy as a whole, forest conversion into agricultural land has inevitably contributed to the decline of forest area. This is because the expansion of agricultural land is directly associated with past policies of the government to maintain levels of rice self-sufficiency. It was also expected that such an effort could be replicated in food production in general. The long-term objective of such a policy is that in the future, rice production must not come from Java and Bali only, but also from other islands.

Such policies inevitably have caused land degradation, which can occur both in forest area and agricultural land. In 1980, the total area of degraded land reached 6.9 million hectares, up to 12.9 million ha in 1989, or a 6.4 percent annual increase.

Degradation inside forests mostly occurs in production and converted forests. In converted forests, land degradation refers to activities caused by the expansion of agricultural land. It is inevitable that this expansion will eat up forest land. The land conversion can be either through the "planned expansion" of agricultural land – for mostly rice, food crops and some cash crops – or through "spontaneous" colonization and planned official migration.

Regarding this land degradation, the government has taken some efforts to mitigate it, including reforestation and forestation programs. But these efforts have not been significant compared to the total environmental damage. In 1994/95, budgeted expenditure for this program amounted to only Rp 452 billion, to rehabilitate – and cover – 152,292 ha of critical land.

Learning from the "success story" of past rice self-sufficiency, it is apparent that the increasing rice production at the expense of land degradation will only make this production unsustainable. Importing rice, if it is considered a solution, is only a partial one. Reforestation and a more proper intensification of agricultural development can perhaps solve these two mutually related problems.

[The writer is a lecturer in Sanata Dharma University's graduate program in Yogyakarta. He can be reached at bdwn@lycos.com.]

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