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Indonesia News Digest 14 – April 9-15, 2007

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 News & issues

Two bombs explode in Indonesia town

Agence France Presse - April 14, 2007

Poso – Two homemade bombs exploded 15 minutes apart in this central Indonesia town that has been plagued by religious violence, police said Sunday. No one was hurt.

The first blast Saturday night was in an empty lot, followed by a second blast a little more than a mile away in front of a Christian residence, said local police chief Lt. Col. Adeni Muhan. Witnesses reported seeing two men on a motorcycle near the scene of the second blast, Muhan said.

Poso, a town in Central Sulawesi province about 1,000 miles northeast of Jakarta, was the center of fierce battles between Muslims and Christians that killed about 1,000 people in 2001 and 2002.

A peace agreement ended the worst of the violence, but tensions flared after the beheading of Christian school girls in 2005 and again in September 2006, after the execution of three Roman Catholic militants convicted in an attack on an Islamic school that killed at least 70 people.

Indonesia, the world's fourth largest nation, is secular although 90 percent of its 220 million people are Muslims. In Central Sulawesi and some parts of the country's east, Christian and Muslim populations are roughly equal.

Indonesia needs true free press and clean court: German expert

Jakarta Post - April 14, 2007

Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo, Jakarta – Indonesia needs a free press and an independent judicial system to become a stable democracy and to be able to prosecute past human rights violations, a visiting German legal expert says.

Former president of Germany's Federal Constitutional Court Jutta Limbach said Friday that Indonesia was in a transition phase from dictatorial rule to democracy.

"The first important element for a stable democracy is a real free press," Limbach told a public discussion held by the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras). The Indonesian media became a free press when the New Order regime ended in 1998 and the publication permit was dropped.

Limbach, currently the president of German cultural agency the Goethe-Institute, added that improving the wellbeing of judges was important for the independence of a judicial system.

"Justices must get appropriate salaries so they're not tempted to take money from others. Moreover, you must establish a good pension system for all judges," she added.

Limbach compared the issue to Germany's experience in prosecuting Nazi war criminals, which took a long time before bearing results.

"We needed much time for the German judiciary to prosecute criminal offenses (by Nazi members) at concentration camps during World War II.

"At first, many of those who wanted to bring them to justice felt discouraged because they felt they hadn't enough support. At the time, charging former politicians had its own risks and prosecution could result in a civil war."

Jutta, who headed the German Constitutional Court from 1994 to 2002, said that victims and perpetrators had to discuss together what had happened in the past so the culprits could have amnesty.

Meanwhile, Kontras chairman Usman Hamid said that it was still difficult for Indonesia to become a stable democracy because of the strong grip of the Indonesian Military during the New Order era.

"The military doctrine of the New Order regime was that they were the protector and stabilizer of the country. Secondly, they also controlled the business. They have become deeply rooted and embedded," Usman said.

Prejudices toward Indonesian people with communist affiliations were still present, he said, especially among the political elite. Usman said that Indonesia had to follow the example of Germany in handling past human rights abuses.

"Germany needed three decades to prosecute their war criminals. Indonesia actually requires a shorter period if we want to because we already have fundamental human rights in our 1945 Constitution."

The rights enumerated in the Constitution include the right to life and the right to equal treatment under the law.

Many perpetrators of human rights offenses in Indonesia, such as the kidnapping and killing of activists and students in 1998 as well as the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, are yet to be brought to court.

Usman said that one of the hardest aspects relating to human rights abuses was forgiving. "Germany needed two generations to heal the wounds of the past," he added.

More Jakartans say no to voting for a governor

Jakarta Post - April 14, 2007

Jakarta – For the first time in history Jakartans will this year be given an opportunity to elect their governor – but a survey shows more than one quarter of residents will not vote because they do not like the candidates.

The Center for Strategic Policy and Development Study (Puskaptis) revealed Thursday that 26 percent of survey respondents said they would not vote because the four candidates standing had failed to win their hearts. The center surveyed 2,640 residents in 132 subdistricts from March 30 to April 6.

There are four candidates nominated by political parties for the election, with Fauzi Bowo, the current deputy governor, in the lead with 36 percent of votes, the survey shows.

Other candidates include Agum Gumelar, a retired general and former transportation minister; former deputy chief of the National Police Adang Daradjatun; and legislator Sarwono Kusumaatmadja. The survey shows Agum with 34 percent of votes, Adang with 18 percent and Sarwono with the remaining 12 percent.

Four indicators were used to measure the candidates: bravery, popularity, track record and profession.

Security is still a top priority for many Jakartans – the survey shows 99 percent of respondents see it as their number one reason to vote in a governor. Other election hot-spots include transportation, health services, education and job creation.

The survey shows 65 percent of respondents prefer the collaboration of a military figure and a civilian for the governor and his deputy.

The favorite deputy governor for Fauzi is Slamet Kirbiantoro, a retired Army officer; for Agum it is Biem Benyamin, a public figure, and for Sarwono it is the actor Rano Karno.

Executive director of the surveying company Puskaptis, Husin Yazid, said Jakartans' vision and understanding of democracy was entirely different to the way elite politicians viewed democracy.

"Politicians just want two or three candidates, which restricts people's choice," he said. "But the people want more freedom – including having more candidates from diverse backgrounds. This is why some people will not vote."

Husin said Jakartans needed a governor and a deputy governor who would be able to implement sustainable development in the city and to carry out development plans generally. The survey covered eligible voters, including married residents and anyone over the age of 17.

Indonesia to tackle culture of violence

Sydney Morning Herald - April 14, 2007

Mark Forbes, Jakarta – Cliff Muntu wanted to serve the Indonesian people, so after failing to gain entry to police college he enrolled at the Institute for Public Administration, hoping to obtain a mid-level public sector position.

Mr Muntu had just been elected as the campus flag holder, a prestigious position in the military-style institute, and on April 2 jogged at lunchtime with other members of the flag team carrying duffle bags weighed down with stones on their backs.

After the day's classes he attended drum band rehearsal until 11.30pm, then told friends he had to meet the flag team – the election of the quietly spoken 20-year-old had provoked resentment from others. Soon after, a quarrel erupted, supposedly over Mr Muntu's improper handling of the national flag.

Seven students allegedly surrounded and beat Mr Muntu so savagely his heart, lungs and liver were bruised and bleeding. He died about midnight. Mr Muntu is the 18th student to have suffered a violent death since the institute was established in 1990.

His murder has provoked soul-searching at the highest levels of the administration. The President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said the militaristic culture at the institute and other government training centres was intolerable. Dr Yudhoyono, a former army chief, described Mr Muntu's death as the tip of an iceberg.

"Strong leaders both mentally and physically are not always built by inhuman, violent and sadistic methods," Dr Yudhoyono said. "There are a lot of other ways to create physically and mentally strong leaders."

Initially the institute said Mr Muntu had died naturally, of liver failure, and staff tried to prevent police carrying out an autopsy. A philosophy lecturer, Inu Kencana, went to police and local media this week, saying that senior staff continued to tolerate widespread violence.

"The truth must be upheld in the killing of at least 18 students since 1993, and the institute's curriculum must be revised to phase out the violent culture," he said.

The institute's first reaction was to suspend Mr Kencana for making unauthorised statements to the media. Following Dr Yudhoyono's intervention, Mr Kencana has been reinstated, the institute's rector has been suspended and enrolments frozen for a year to "break the cycle of violence" and overhaul its practices.

Changing a culture ingrained with bastardisation is easier said than done. The previous rector was sacked and reforms supposedly initiated in 2003, after another student was tortured and murdered.

According to local media reports, several students accused of taking part in that murder remain at the institute.

Indonesian Government academies retain some of the worst elements of military training, a hangover from decades of military dictatorship under president Soeharto, according to Sofian Effendi, a public administration expert at Gadjah Mada University.

"The special institutes have to provide education and training programs instead of the military-style education to improve the skills of their students in serving the public," he said.

Dr Yudhoyono announced this week that management of the institute would be transferred from the Home Ministry to the Education Ministry. He has also demanded police and military colleges abandon training involving physical contact.

Violence is not the only problem at the institute, Indonesia's main public sector training centre. Mr Kencana also observed his marks of students were at times mysteriously altered, blaming corruption within the administration.

On Thursday Mr Muntu's parents held a tearful memorial at the institute, attended by other parents and students. One parent, who declined to give his name, remained sceptical that changes would be made. Junior students had been warned not to discuss Mr Muntu's murder, even with their own families, he said.

50 million children 'lack identity'

Jakarta Post - April 14, 2007

Jakarta – An estimated 50 million children in Indonesia do not have birth certificates despite the presence of laws mandating the provision of free certificates, a children's rights expert said.

The provision of free birth certificates is stipulated under Article 28 of the 2002 Law on Child Protection. It is also regulated under Article 27 of the 2006 Law on Civil Registration.

"Last year, some 50 million from a total of 85 million children lost their first basic human right of having recognized identities and nationalities," Magdalena Sitorus of the Commission for Indonesian Child Protection said Friday during a book launch and public discussion on non-discriminatory birth registration.

The government said it aims to have all children in the country registered by 2011. "We are still discussing with related stakeholders the strategy on how to do it," said Joko Moersito of the Directorate of Civil Registration at the Home Ministry.

The government also plans to provide an identity number to every citizen to be used when, for example, applying for a driver's license or processing tax receipts.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the government in 1990, states: "Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name (and) the right to acquire a nationality."

Under the convention, anyone under the age of 18 is considered a child.

The commission said many obstacles existed in providing free birth certificates, including a discriminatory legal system, a complicated bureaucracy and differences in regional procedures.

Problems are also posed by marriages that have occurred under religions that are not recognized by the state. As these marriages are not officially registered, any children born will be viewed as having been born out of wedlock.

The 2006 law stipulates that the provision of free birth certificates is only valid for 60 days after the child is born. Indonesian nationals who are late in reporting births will be fined Rp 1 million (US$109), while foreigners will be fined Rp 2 million.

Public officials face a maximum fine of Rp 10 million for conduct that slows the process of document issuance. There are also fines for document forgery, which are raised by one-third if a public official is responsible.

Magdalena, who chairs the commission's team publishing the book, said the issuance of birth certificates should not be related to the parents' marriage status, nationality or citizenship.

As of December 2006, only 102 of the country's 480 regencies and municipalities provided free birth certificates.

The provinces of Lampung, North Sumatra, DKI Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, Bali, South Sulawesi, West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara and Papua provide free birth certificates, although not all municipalities and regencies in each province have to do so.

Prosecutor seizes books deemed to endanger national stability

Detik.com - April 16, 2007

Zainal Effendi, Surabaya – The Surabaya state prosecutor has seized primary and secondary school history books that are deemed to have the potential to disrupt national security. The book seizures were based on Attorney General Decree Number 19/1997.

The state prosecutor found 28 books originating from three bookshops scattered across the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya. The three bookshops were the Gramedia Bookshop on Jl. Manyar (20 books), the Uranus Bookshop on Jl. Ngagel and the Koko Bookshop located in the Blauran Market.

"We carried out the seizure of books published by the publishers on Jl. Peneleh based on the decree by the Attorney General", said the administrative section head of intelligence from the Surabaya state prosecutor's office, Dedi Irwan Verantama when speaking with journalists during a break in a book raid on Koko Bookshop on Monday April 16.

Verantama added that the contents of the books, which pervert historical facts, could endanger national stability. He gave as an example one of the errors found in the historical books that were seized.

The error is that they do not include the word "PKI" with the words G30S, which should be G30S/PKI. Verantama stated that they would not confiscate those books that had already been bought by students. (gik/asy)


G30S/PKI - September 30 Movement/Indonesian Communist Party. An acronym referring to the alleged coup attempt in 1965 which the New Order regime officially described as a PKI conspiracy, labelling it G30S/PKI. Since the overthrow of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998 however, the involvement of the PKI in the affair has become a subject of debate and it is now generally referred to merely as G30S.

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Pilot may have been trying to save fuel

Sydney Morning Herald - April 12, 2007

Mark Forbes Herald, Jakarta – A Garuda policy of preserving fuel may have been why a pilot did not abort a landing in Yogyakarta last month that killed 21 people, the head of the airline's pilots association said.

Captain Stephanus said the jet's pilot, Captain Marwoto Komar, had made an "impossible" decision to continue landing at excessive speed.

His comments came after the Herald revealed details of the preliminary crash investigation report, which found the Boeing 737 was travelling at more than 400kmh when it hit the runway. "This is a surprise. This is too fast. How could the pilot decide like that?" Captain Stephanus said.

He was concerned about Garuda's policy of paying pilots a 3 per cent bonus if they conserved fuel. "This policy for fuel efficiency for individual pilots could hamper flight safety," he said. "The company is making extra payments to pilots if they can conserve fuel. Maybe this is bothering the pilot."

Captain Stephanus, who interviewed Captain Komar soon after the accident, said the pilot should have "gone around" and "there must be some human factor problem".

Indonesian officials formally released the accident report yesterday, despite attempts by the Transport Minister, Hatta Radjasa, to suppress its details.

The report found the plane approached at "faster than normal speed with the flaps not configured for landing" and revealed the runway safety area at Yogyakarta did not meet international standards. It called for runways at main regional airports, including Yogyakarta, to be upgraded, with a safety run-off 240 metres long and emergency access roads.

The chief investigator, Mardjono Sisowosuwarno, said a longer runway would not have prevented the crash "but it could have been less severe", with fewer casualties.

The report also criticised emergency and rescue efforts, stating fire and rescue vehicles could not reach the scene quickly enough and carried inadequate hoses and chemicals.

The report ruled out mechanical failure and weather conditions as causes of the crash, which left 21 people dead, including five Australians.

Sources close to the inquiry confirmed that investigators are concentrating on pilot error and analysing Captain Komar's psychological state.

The report does not include a transcript of the flight's cockpit voice recorder. However, the Herald understands the recording does not support claims the pilot and co-pilot were arguing about aborting the landing during the descent.

Only in the final seconds did the co-pilot suggest the jet "go around". Captain Komar continued to land, despite the jet's computer systems broadcasting warnings. It is believed the voice recording includes an alarm and aural computerised warnings stating "whoop, whoop, pull up".

Captain Stephanus said that "there must be some problem, it is not a good decision – there should be a go-around".

Garuda did not return the Herald's calls yesterday. A separate Indonesian police investigation is continuing.

 West Papua

Six murderers of Freeport employees appeal to Supreme Court

Antara - April 12, 2007

Jakarta – Lawyers of the six convicted murderers of PT Freeport Indonesia's employees Thursday submitted appeal documents to the Supreme Court over those sentences by lower courts.

Two American teachers and an Indonesian colleague were killed on Aug. 31, 2002 when gunmen ambushed their convoy near the American-owned Grasberg gold and copper mine near the Papuan provincial town of Timika.

Seven people were found guilty over the incident. They are Antonius Wamang, Agustinus Anggaibak, Yulianus Deikme, Ishak Onawame, Esau Onawame, Hardi Sugumol, and Yairus Kiwak alias Kibak. Hardi died in a hospital.

Antonius, who was found guilty as mastermind of the incident got life sentence in the Central Jakarta District Court and the verdict was affirmed by the Jakarta High Court.

Agustinus and Yulianus were sentenced to six year jail term by the Central Jakarta District Court, but the Jakarta High Court granted tougher punishment with 8 years in jail.

Meanwhile, each of the four other people were sentenced to 18 months in jail by district court, but the Jakarta High Court changed the sentences into five years jail terms.

Ecoline Situmorang, the lawyer of the six people, questioned the additional sentences for his clients, saying that it only based on a consideration that the district court's sentence is too light.

"Such a consideration is strange. Politics seems behind it," Ecoline was quoted by Antara news agency as saying.

Papua Muslims hold first congress

Jakarta Post - April 9, 2007

Nethy Dharma Somba, Jakarta – Papuan Muslims will hold an inaugural three-day congress in Jayapura beginning Tuesday, which is slated to attract 260 participants from 29 regencies and mayoralties in Papua and West Irian Jaya.

Congress steering committee member Sayid Fadhal Alhamid said the Papua Muslim Solidarity group was established on Nov. 21, 1999, in Jayapura.

Members had originally planned to organize a congress in 2000, but due to various reasons the realization of this assembly took six years to occur.

A key focal point for the meeting will be the strengthening of ties between various religious organizations, the public and the provincial and local administrations in Papua.

According to the book Papua Dalam Angka (Papua in Figures), the province is home to 1,154,420 Protestants, 409,722 Catholics, 341,057 Muslims, 4,267 Hindus and 1,625 Buddhists.

The Muslim congress will involve interactive dialog between the Papua GKI synod, the Jayapura diocese, the Baptist synod, the World Church Council, tribal leaders, cultural observers and state and security officials. During the congress, the official name of the group will be changed from Papua Muslim Solidarity to Papua Muslim Council.

The organization, said Fadhal, was also open to non-Papuan Muslims. It is not sectarian in nature and aims to boost ties with traditional Papuan Muslim communities, as well as promote human rights, education, health and improvements in the community's economy.

Muslims are a minority group in Papua. They generally live in coastal communities from the west to the south. These include Raja Ampat, Teluk Bintuni, Babo, Inanwatan, Kokosa, Kokas, Fakfak, Kaimana, Teluk Arguni and Kayu Merah, all of which are in West Irian Jaya.

Those living in Papua province predominantly reside in Walesi, Hitigima and Air Garam in Wamana regency, as well as in Jayawijaya and scantily in Okaba and Asmat in the southern Papua.

Fadhal said that although Muslims were a minority in Papua, sectarian disputes had never occurred there.

Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu is scheduled to open the congress April 10, while West Irian Jaya Governor Bram Atururi will close it on April 12.

 Munir assassination

Munir's secret still buried

Jakarta Post Editorial - April 13, 2007

Under mangled branches in a dusty, untended East Java cemetery lie the remains of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

More than two years after Munir's September 2004 murder, questions still remain about his death. Dozens of murder and disappearance cases remain open in this country. But Munir's case exerts a special pull, and each new development excites more public attention. Munir's body may rest in his hometown of Malang, but the mystery of his death remains very much alive.

Munir was not just a mere critic of the military and intelligence. He and his colleagues at the independent Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) were actively involved in investigations into human rights abuses. In the course of such probes they often crossed risky paths and influential people. Why people saw it necessary to kill Munir while he was on his way out of the country to study in Amsterdam only adds to the mystery.

Munir's widow Suciwati – along with the relatives of missing student activists, the parents of children killed in the 1998 riots and former political prisoners – are among those waiting for the answer to one question: who killed the man who was seeking justice for all those who had lost loved ones to the violent abuse of power?

On Tuesday, police said they had two new suspects in the murder case. Lo and behold, they were "officials" from Garuda Indonesia. As they have not been named, we can only guess they are superiors of the former sole defendant in the case, Garuda pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto. The only person to have ever been charged in the case, Pollycarpus was cleared by the Supreme Court in October 2006.

The announcement of the new suspects is yet another insult to the public's intelligence. Who really believed it when Pollycarpus' prosecutors said Munir was murdered because the off-duty pilot resented him for his frequent criticisms of the military? And now we're expected to believe the Garuda officials had a similar kind of motive to kill Munir?

Pollycarpus was sentenced to 14 years prison for lacing Munir's drink with arsenic during the journey to Amsterdam. But the verdict also stated he was clearly not acting alone, and urged further investigation into other parties that may have been responsible for Munir's death.

Where will the investigation into the two new suspects lead us? Probably nowhere, if not backwards.

It was National Police Chief Gen. Sutanto himself who said any progress in the investigation would depend on Pollycarpus' cooperation. Investigations showed Pollycarpus was in intensive communication with a person who, through tracing their phone number, was identified as a former intelligence officer. The intelligence body, BIN, has denied any involvement in the case.

Many times over we are left with unanswered questions and rumors of ugly conspiracies. And, worse than that, there is the lingering sense that Munir's case will not be the last. The continued culture of impunity means it is likely someone else with the right connections will be able to get away as easily as Munir's killers have.

Tuesday's announcement was an obvious attempt to buy time and pay lip service to the international community, which has more than once questioned the lack of progress in the case.

While Gen. Sutanto displayed little optimism after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gave the order to resume the investigation, someone had to be paraded to the world as a sign of progress.

Meanwhile, the government has not even made public the report of the president's personally-appointed fact finding team. It is now public knowledge that team members have strongly urged investigation into intelligence officials, who remain unmolested by police.

The state may be entitled to some discretion, intelligence operations included. But while its command structure remains beyond accountability, we are expected to believe that the flight attendants, pilots and CEO of our national carrier have moonlighted as mercenaries.

The Munir death case goes deeper than the murder of someone who fought for human rights. It is a reflection of the prevailing failure to rein in an office which justifies the use of any grim means to reach its own devious ends.

This case should go beyond looking for a smoking gun or even the finger that pulled the trigger. We need to know who at the top made the order to silence Munir.

The inability to achieve accountability – not only of individuals but also of institutions – presents a clear danger to the future of all citizens. The current freedom of some to kill and silence who they want harks of fascism and totalitarianism.

Munir's ghost will continue to haunt us if we allow our hard earned democracy be corroded by hidden assassins.

New Munir evidence handed over

Jakarta Post - April 14, 2007

Police on Friday handed over to prosecutors new evidence relating to the murder of prominent human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

National Police detective chief Comr. Gen. Bambang Hendarso said after meeting with prosecutors at the Attorney General's Office that the new evidence implicated Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, the only person to have faced charges over the murder of Munir. Pollycarpus was later exonerated by the Supreme Court.

"This is new evidence that will be used to charge him under Article 340," Bambang was quoted as saying by detik.com news portal. Article 340 of the Criminal Code pertains to premeditated murder.

Bambang said the new evidence would not be used against two senior Garuda Indonesia officials recently identified by their initials as IS and R.

It has been widely speculated that the two officials are former Garuda president director Indra Setiawan and president director of corporate security Ramelgia Anwar. On Thursday, however, Bambang said that suspect R was a woman and not Ramelgia.

Munir was a critic of the Indonesian Military (TNI), accusing it of rights violations in the troubled provinces of Aceh and Papua, and of running a network involved in illegal logging and drug smuggling. Following his death, Munir's widow reported receiving anonymous threats demanding she not implicate the TNI in her husband's death.

Munir was found dead Sept. 7, 2004, on the GA 974 Garuda flight to the Netherlands, which included a stop-over in Singapore.

Pollycarpus's lawyer, M. Assegaf, said his client could not be charged again in the same case.

In related developments, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said that the Indonesian government would be ready to face an inquiry into Munir's death from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

"We are prepared, whatever the questions are, with or without a special session," the ministry's director for international security and disarmament, Desra Percaya, was quoted by Antara as saying.

Desra also dismissed criticism that Indonesia's foot-dragging over the Munir case could jeopardize the country's credibility as a member of the UN council.

Police: More evidence in Munir murder case

Tempo Interactive - April 12, 2007

Jakarta – The police claim to have new evidence as regards declaring former Garuda Indonesia Managing Director Indra Setiawan and Vice President forAviation Security Ramelgia Anwar as suspects in the murder case of human rights activist Munir.

According to Insp. Gen. Sisno Adiwinoto, Head of Public Relations at the National Police (Polri) headquarters, the police are also still keeping back the names of other possible suspects.

"However, neither the new evidences nor the names of the other possible suspects can yet be announced to the general public in the interests of the investigation," he told Tempo yesterday (11/4). "These will be announced at the right time," said Sisno.

However, the Solidarity Actions Committee for Munir viewed the suspect Indra and Ramelgia from another perspective. "This is a joke," said Rachland Nasidik, a committee's member.

According to Rachland, the declaration of the two suspects regarding the forgery of a letter for Pollycarpus was only to conceal the process of Munir's murder which had been planned well. "Can the police connect the forged letter with Munir's murder?" he asked

Rachland also questioned the statement of Polri Chief Gen. Sutanto's, in which the time and location of Munir's murder was changed from previously being inside a Garuda aircraft on the Jakarta-Singapore route to Changi Airport, Singapore.

Therefore, Usman Hamid, Coordinator of the Commission for Missing Person and Victims of Violence (Kontras), asked the police to trace everything that Munir experienced before he died – the evidence of a telephone call from the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) office to Pollycarpus and the condition of Munir who was pale when he arrived in Singapore. "There is a possibility that Munir was poisoned several times since he left Jakarta," he said.

Indra Setiawan's legal advisor, Mohammad Assegaf, said the police were careless by declaring his client as a suspect. "This isn't logical because Indra is related to the matter of issuing Pollycarpus' assignment letter which is considered presumed as invalid. What's the connection between Indra and Munir?" asked Assegaf.

According to him, it is very probable that the police acted carelessly due to extraordinary pressure from the general public.

[Yophiandi, Muslima Hapsari, Rofiuddin, Tito Sianipar, Sutarto.]

New suspects named in Munir case

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2007

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta – Police on Tuesday named two new suspects in the 2004 murder case of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

National Police Chief Gen. Sutanto said after a cabinet meeting that the new suspects were former officials from national airline Garuda Indonesia. "They are officials from Garuda with initials IS and R," Sutanto told reporters at the Presidential Palace.

The initials match those of Garuda's ex-president director, Indra Setiawan, and corporate security vice president, Ramelgia Anwar.

Sutanto said separately that R had issued an assignment letter to pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, the only person ever to be charged in the murder case. "The document was issued on orders from his superior, IS," said Sutanto.

Sutanto also said that the police were now continuing their investigation and would name more suspects in the coming days. "We are still building this case," he said.

Munir, co-founder of human rights organizations Imparsial and Kontras, was found dead on a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam on Sept. 7, 2004.

Munir was a critic of Indonesia's military, accusing it of rights violations in the troubled provinces of Aceh and Papua and of running a network involved in illegal logging and drug smuggling. Following his death, Munir's widow reported receiving anonymous threats demanding she not implicate the military in her husband's death.

An autopsy conducted by Dutch authorities found excessive amounts of arsenic in his body, indicating that he was murdered on the one-hour leg of the flight from Jakarta to Singapore.

Rights activists have recently speculated that new suspects in the case would come from the State Intelligence Agency (BIN).

A government-sanctioned fact-finding team has indicated that at least six persons, including Pollycarpus and secretary to Garuda's chief pilot Rohainil Aini, were involved in Munir's death.

The team also implicated two unamed persons linked to BIN, along with Garuda's former president director and the vice president of corporate security.

In October 2006, a Supreme Court verdict cleared Pollycarpus of murder charges, leaving no one to be held accountable the murder of Munir.

Pollycarpus was an off-duty pilot of Garuda on the same flight with Munir from Singapore to the Netherlands. He was the first to administer medical assistance to Munir when the effect of the poison began to take hold.

New suspects linked to UN rights commission hearing

Kompas - April 12, 2007

Jakarta, Kompas – The announcement by Indonesian police chief General Sutanto of the initials of two new suspects in the Munir murder case has raised questions among members of the House of Representatives (DPR) and activist circles. They are asking what the police actually want to solve, a case of document falsification or Munir's murder.

Speaking at the State Palace, Sutanto asked all parties to be patient and wait for the conclusion of the police investigation into the murder. The investigation is still continuing and it is possible that the number of suspects could grow. "The investigation is still proceeding. If everything is finished, it will be announced. Please be patient", said Sutanto on Wednesday April 11. The day before Sutanto announced the initials of two suspects, IS and R saying that both are from Garuda Indonesia airlines.

In relation to the investigation and the naming of the two new suspects, Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi said that the president had yet to receive a report from Sutanto because it was not yet reached the stage where it must be reported. The president is following developments in the investigation of the Munir case that has attracted the attention of the mass media.

Not just a sweetener

The head of the DPR's Commission III, Trimedya Pandjaitan said he appreciates the developments achieved by police in cracking the Munir's murder. He hopes however that this achievement is not just a sweetener in the lead up to the United National Human Rights Commission hearing. "The cracking of the Munir case should not end with two people, but uncover the links in the chain in order to discover who Munir's murderer actually is", he continued.

Commission III member Nursyahbani Katjasungkana from the National Awakening Fraction is also asking Sutanto to quickly conclude the investigation and report the results to the public.

Non-government organisation (NGO) activists also held a press conference in Jakarta. NGO activists Amiruddin Al Raham said he suspects that the two new suspects are linked with efforts to secure the re-nomination of Indonesia as a member of the UN Human Rights Commission who will be elected in late May.

Former Munir Fact Finding Team member Asmara Nababan raised questions about the basis for Sutanto to cite the initials IS and R. Are they being named as suspects in the murder case or just in relation to the falsification of documents, as was the case in the previous suspect Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto.

"We are taking issue with the status of the two initials of the new suspects. What actually needs to be investigated is the murder case, right, and not the falsification of documents at Garuda. Indeed what business is it of Garuda's to want to murder Munir", he said. (dwa/nwo/sut/sf)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Suciwati: Don't announce new suspects just to entertain us

Detik.com - April 11, 2007

Ramadhian Fadillah, Jakarta – The naming of two new suspects in the mysterious murder of human rights activist Munir offers some small measure of hope that the case will be solved. Munir's widow, Suciwati, says that the naming of the two new suspects can be said to be a step forward in the investigation but only if it is not just for the sake of courtesy.

"I hope that this is not just courtesy. Not just merely to entertain us because up until now it has been as if the investigation has stagnated", said Suciwati during a discussion with Detik.com on Wednesday April 11.

Suciwati admitted to not having much hope in this development in the investigation of her husband's death even though former Garuda Airlines Director Indra Setiawan and the Vice President of Corporate Security Ramelgia Anwar have been named as new suspects.

According to Suciwati, up until now both the police as well has the government have given the impression that they are not serious about solving the death of her husband. This lack of seriousness she continued, can be clearly seen from the police's lack of transparency over the results of the investigation.

"The results of the national police's investigation in cooperation with the FBI have never been revealed to the public. Even during the reconstruction, journalists were not permitted to cover it. So how can we know when progress is being made in the case", said a distressed Suciwati.

Nevertheless, Suciwati admits to remaining optimistic and will continue to fight for justice until the perpetrators of the murder are uncovered. "I must remain optimistic and pressure the police to uncover who the mastermind is", she said. (rdf/bal)

[Translated by James Balowksi.]

Former TPF member calls on SBY to honor promise in Munir case

Detik.com - April 11, 2007

Ramadhian Fadillah P, Jakarta – The former deputy head of the Munir Fact Finding Team (TPF), Asmara Nababan, is calling in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's promise to provide direct information on the case to the public.

"Up until no this has never been done. So don't let the president flee from his responsibilities", said Nababan at the offices of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) on Wednesday April 11.

The TPF was formed based on Presidential Decree Number 111/2004 and was disbanded on July 23, 2005. The team's conclusions and recommendations that were handed over to the president stated that there was a conspiracy in the murder of Munir.

Also speaking at the Kontras offices, Kontras Coordinator Usman Hamid made similar remarks. He suspects that there is something amiss in the police's investigation of the Munir case because the developments that have been announced to date have been far below the minimum standards expected from an investigation and the case has dragged on for more than two years.

According to Hamid, in the past police have frequently used professional ways to announce progress in investigations, such as visual presentations, written clarifications and providing photographs and material evidence. "But in the Munir case, the national police have not done this", said the Master of Law from the Trisakti University.

Up until now, only one person has been tried in relation to the Munir case, Garuda pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto. He was sentenced to 14 months jail but this was quashed by the Supreme Court who said it had not been proven that he had poisoned Munir resulting in his death. Pollycarpus was only charged and convicted over the falsification of documents. (nik/nrl)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Police urged to announce new suspect in Munir's murder case

Tempo Interactive - April 9, 2007

Imron Rosyid, Jakarta – A number of legislators are urging the police to announce the name of the new suspect in the human rights activist Munir murder case as soon as possible.

The reason is in order to show to the general public that the police are serious about solving the case.

"Don't say about a new suspect if there's no intention of revealing the name soon," said Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, a member of the Law Commission at the House of Representatives (DPR), speaking in Wonosobo yesterday (8/4).

Any delay in announcing this, said Lukman, would instead cause the public to doubt that the police have in fact found a new suspect.

He said that this was because the police only want to show off in order to be regarded as serious by the international community. "This instead shows that the police are being dictated to," said Lukman.

Earlier, the police planned to announce the name of the new suspect in the Munir murder case, however, the timing of the announcement to the public has not yet been confirmed.

According to Insp. Gen. Sisno Adiwinoto, Head of Public Relations at the National Police (Polri) headquarters, the new suspect's identity is not for public consumption until the investigation is over.

The Munir case has already been on the discussion agenda of the United Nations Human Rights Council. At the end of March, Philip Alston reported about progress in the Munir case to the organization.

According to Usman Hamid, coordinator of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) coalition for Munir solidarity, Philip Alston reported his regret that information had not yet been clarified by investigators.

This is despite the Fact-Finding Team (TPF) for the Munir case having recommended that clarification be made.

Government must make breakthrough in Munir case - HRWG

Kompas - April 10, 2007

Jakarta – In order to increase the chances of Indonesia being reelected as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the government must soon make a breakthrough in investigating the murder of human rights activist Munir.

"Such a breakthrough could be in the form of a naming a new suspect or inviting the UN Human Rights Commission's special rapporteur to come to Indonesia to review the Munir case", said Rafendi Djamin from the Human Right Working Group on Monday April 9. Djamin is the head of a non-government organisation delegation from Indonesia that attended the 3rd Session of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva on March 12-30.

According to Djamin, among other things the session agreed that the commission would hold the next hearing on June 11-18. Before this however, the election of members of the Human Rights Council will be held in late May. "Indonesia it seems will re-nominate itself as a member of the UN Human Rights Council", said Djamin.

Djamin said that the Munir case would become a pebble in the shoe for Indonesia's plans because there are several parties that raised discussion of the Munir murder case during the last council session. They were the forced disappearances working group, the UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings and the special representative of the UN secretary general for the protection of human rights defenders.

"UN special rapporteur Philips Alston, in an official report on the Munir case to the UN Human Rights Council made the evaluation that the Indonesian government has shown a cooperative attitude but it was incomplete", said Djamin.

Speaking separately, Hendardi from the Solidarity Committee for Munir said he has got the impression that the police will soon announce a new suspect in the case. "However, the announcement of a new suspect, if it is indeed done soon, doesn't guarantee that Indonesia's nomination for the UN Human Rights Commission is secure or that it will satisfy the public", said Hendardi after meeting with the head of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, General Bambang Hendarso Danuri late yesterday afternoon. (NWO)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

New suspect in Munir murder from Garuda, initials YS and R

Detik.com - April 10, 2007

Luhur Hertanto, Jakarta – There has been more hints given out on the puzzle of who the new suspects are in the murder human rights activist Munir. They are two individuals from Garuda Indonesia airlines with the initials YS and R.

"Based on the results of forensic work on the arsenic poison, it was able to be ascertained that the crime took place at the Changi Airport in Singapore. Police then conducted a more detailed examination and as a result the names of two new suspects surfaced who are rogue elements from Garuda, that is YS and R", said national police chief General Sutanto.

Sutanto announced the news following a meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the presidential offices on Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara in Central Jakarta on Tuesday April 10. "Among other things their role was to take part in falsifying flight documents of the former suspect Pollycarpus. The flight documents were falsified on the orders of YS", explained Sutanto.

He also said that the national police had not eliminated the possibility of a other new suspects surfacing because the investigation was still ongoing. (sss/nrl)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Munir case: Police still unwilling to name new suspect

Tempo Interactive - April 9, 2007

Badriah, Jakarta – National Police Chief General Sutanto is still unwilling to name the new suspect in the Munir case. This is despite the fact that last week national police headquarters promised it would announce the name.

Sutanto appeared willing only to hint that among the new suspects there would be names that have been the subject of public conjecture. "Among them are [names] that up until now have been guessed at by friends", said Sutanto before meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday April 9.

When journalists mentioned the name of the former deputy head of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) Muchdi Purwoprajoyo, Sutanto only laughed. "He he he... I can also get journalists all excited".

Some legislators have said that they believe that the national police are not being serious about handing the murder of the human rights activists and that if they are unwilling to reveal the name of the new suspect it will only cause doubts among the public.

Sutanto however responded to these accusations light heatedly, "Yeah, it doesn't matter if they don't think we're serious".

[Translated by James Balowski.]

 Human rights/law

Court rejects lawsuit against House

Jakarta Post - April 12, 2007

Jakarta – The Central Jakarta District Court rejected Wednesday a lawsuit filed by an alliance of NGOs against the House of Representatives over the draft pornography bill, stating the matter pertained to constitutional law, not civil law.

"The District Court has no authority to examine and put this case on trial due to the fact that the House has worked according to its legislative role in initiating the bill," presiding Judge Aman Barus said at the hearing for a provisional decision on the case.

He said the House is not a legal entity regulated by civil law. "In this country, there is no law that regulates whether the House can be sued in a civil case by the District Court for performing its legislative functions as a (lawmaking body)," Aman said.

The Alliance of Unity in Diversity, which filed the lawsuit last December, said the draft bill endangers the multireligious, multicultural character of Indonesia. The House later filed its objection on March 12.

"We are also concerned that a lawsuit against the House will make lawmakers uncertain when initiating and deciding on new bills, which then can lead to disruptions in the country's law reforms," Aman said.

Commenting on the decision, the alliance's coordinator, Ratna Sarumpaet, said, "It seems that the court ruling is a way for the judicial authority to avoid any disagreements with the House.

"It is a pity that the people at the House are regarded as... gods, while we know that rampant money politics and corrupt practices result in many incompetent people sitting at the House," she said, adding that the alliance would file an appeal.

"I hope that the House acknowledges the public's restlessness over the bill by not being too hasty in endorsing it," she said. "However, if lawmakers keep forcing the bill's enactment, we still have the Constitutional Court (to go to for our appeal)."

Ratna said the public was disappointed with many of the laws passed by the House, some of which have caused considerable financial losses to the country. She cited the newly-passed investment law endorsed in March.

The alliance said the special committee deliberating the pornography bill had issued two versions of the draft, one having 93 chapters and the other 36 chapters. An explanation has not been given to explain the variations in length.

"The public process is not working here because we do not have any clue as to which draft should be monitored," Ratna said. The alliance – consisting of women activists, artists and scholars – said lawmakers involved in drafting the controversial bill had failed to consider input from civil society.

The bill, initiated by the House in February last year, was previously named the anti-pornography bill, but was later changed into the pornography bill.

The bill has received strong support from some, notably hard- line, Muslim groups that openly seek the adoption of sharia law. It has been opposed by pro-democracy, women's and human rights groups. The controversy surrounding the bill moved lawmakers to delay its deliberation.

Ratna claimed that Bali, Papua, North Sulawesi and East Nusa Tenggara provinces, where Muslims are the minority, had threatened to break away from Indonesia if the House pushed the bill through.

'Bills need to reform party system'

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2007

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta – Political bills prepared by the government and the House of Representatives should provide for a more rigid party system in order to move political parties closer to the people and to pursue popular representation – both at the legislative and executive level.

This idea was floated Tuesday by House member Yasonna H Laoly of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and Indria Samego, a political analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), in response to an increased demand for popular representation.

Yasonna said his party was fighting to insert in the bills tougher administrative requirements and a more democratic system in the establishment of new political parties.

"PDI-P believes that the bill on political parties should require support from at least three million eligible voters nationwide for the formation of a new political party, including financial contribution from supporters, mandatory political education for party members and a democratic recruitment of party functionaries," he told The Jakarta Post.

"We are in need of financially and legally strong parties, with officials elected by supporters, rather than appointed by party leaders."

Yasonna said the bill on general elections should also mandate an open electoral system, including legislative candidates with whom voters are familiar.

"Such a system would ensure that parties nominate officials in local elections and qualified senior figures in the presidential election," he said.

"Tougher political bills should help avoid a huge floating mass and swing voters. And tougher bills should qualify legislators and national leaders in future general elections."

Indria of LIPI agreed that political parties have to undergo a gradual reform to bring them closer to the people.

"Political parties function not only to recruit public officials through general elections but also to mediate between the people and the government," he said.

"Political parties have (been) nothing more than money makers by nominating themselves instead of party officials in local elections. And this has resulted in regional heads who have less commitment to improve social welfare and democracy."

Indria also said the establishment of local parties and the nomination of independent candidates for local and presidential elections was not an appropriate answer to national parties' poor performance.

He said performance issues had to be addressed by empowerment through political bills and that Indonesia still needed three more general elections in order to build a better party system, produce effective legislatures and to build strong national and local leaders.

The Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (Demos) has called for dramatic changes to political bills in order to pursue popular representation; ensure quality general elections; and to build strong legislatures and government in the future.

Anton Prajasto, deputy executive director of Demos, said the democracy launched at the start of the reform era in 1998 had stagnated because political parties during the past two elections had fought only for the interests of party elites, their power holders and domestic and foreign investors.

Civil society, including Demos and other NGOs, has called for political laws which would allow the establishment of local parties and the nomination of independent candidates in local and presidential elections. They say this will provide the people with a fairer alternative when electing their next leaders.

Court rejects civil suit against House over pornography bill

Detik.com - April 11, 2007

Rafiqa Qurrata A, Jakarta – A panel of judges has rejected a civil suit by the Unity in Diversity Alliance (ABTI) led by Ratna Sarumpaet against the House of Representatives (DPR) in relation to the Draft Law on Pornography and Porno-Action.

Ratna is clearly disappointed and intends to appeal. "The panel of judges agrees with the defendant's demurrer and declares that it does not have the authority to try this case, so the examination will not continue", said presiding judge Aman Barus at the Central Jakarta District Court on Jl. Gadjah Mada on Wednesday April 11.

The panel of judges said that they considered the DPR's actions in presenting and proposing the draft law are in accordance with its function as a legislative institution. In addition to this, the panel of judges said that if the DPR were sued then the legislation of laws would be obstructed. "This could have the consequence of disrupting legal reform", said Barus.

Responding to the judge's statement Ratna admitted to feeling disappointed. "We will most certainly appeal, if they continue and ratify the draft law there is still the Constitutional Court", said Ratna. In Ratna's eyes the judges' verdict was as if they were looking for a way out. "It appears that the judges did not want to be concerned with the affairs of the DPR", she said.

Following the hearing some 40 ABTI members held a demonstration and unfurled a banner in front of the court house reading "As pornographic as pornography is the draft porno law is more pornographic", and "The draft porno law divides the people". (umi/nrl)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

House to endorse military tribunal bill

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2007

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta – The House says it will endorse a bill on military tribunals requiring soldiers who commit crimes to stand trial in civilian courts, a prospect the armed forces has fought to block.

Andreas Pareira, chairman of the House of Representatives' special committee preparing the bill, said Monday military courts should only try soldiers accused of violating military rules, and leave the civilian courts to hear criminal cases.

"In the reform era, there must be a clear separation between violations of military codes and criminal codes, no matter who the violators are," Pareira told reporters a day after returning home from South Korea, where he led a House delegation on a four-day study tour in South Korea, which included a look at that country's court system.

"Soldiers and civil servants violating military code are brought to military court, while those violating the criminal code will be tried in civilian courts," he said.

He added that deliberation of the bill would resume next month, with its endorsement expected in August at the latest.

Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono, representing the government and the Indonesian Military (TNI) in the deliberation of the bill, has expressed objections to the bill, saying its adoption at this time would be inappropriate. He has proposed the military be given at least a three-year transition period before enforcing the new military justice system.

Deliberation of the bill had been suspended for three months because of a deadlock between the House and the administration. However, the deadlock was broken in March when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono accepted a House proposal that stressed the authority of civilian courts to try soldiers in criminal cases.

Referring to the South Korean military courts, which he said were similar to those in Indonesia, Pareira said the House was eager to reform the military court system not only because it was unaccountable, but also to minimize crimes and rights abuses involving soldiers.

"The public in South Korea has never complained about their military courts trying soldiers who are criminal suspects because the courts have always been transparent and all verdicts are executed without exception," he said.

Kusnanto Anggoro, a military analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said there were no political or legal reasons for Indonesia not to reform the military courts.

"No matter whether criminal soldiers are tried at civilian courts or not, the military courts must be transparent and accountable and the military criminal code must ensure justice for servicemen, without reservation," he said.

He said that unlike Indonesia, South Korea had the political courage to bring former presidents Roh Tae-woo and Chun Do-hwan to justice for corruption, even though both were retired generals. This has encouraged the nation to make reform a success and has allowed it to achieve significant progress in all fields, he.

"Since entering the reform era in 1998, Indonesia has not had the political courage to bring to justice former president Soeharto and his military men responsible for a great number of human rights abuses and corruption cases during the New Order era," Kusnanto said.

He also questioned the capacity of the civilian courts, which he said were generally regarded as corrupt, to convict soldiers implicated in crimes and rights abuses.

Kusnanto suggested the House maintain the 1993 Military Court Law, simply adding emphasis to transparency and accountability and a harsher military criminal code.


New mudflow agency gets cold welcome

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2007

Indra Harsaputra, Sidoarjo – Residents displaced by the mudflow in Sidoarjo, East Java, said Wednesday that they were pessimistic about the new agency in charge of the disaster.

The government set up on Monday the National Mitigation Agency for the Sidoarjo Mudflow to replace the temporary national mudflow mitigation team.

Residents from the Tanggulangin Sejahtera housing complex have demanded full compensation for their affected properties. Some 2,000 Perumtas residents are slated to stage a rally in Jakarta to protest the arrangement of a 20 percent downpayment, with the rest of the compensation to be paid over two years.

"We are prepared to die. We are tired of living in shelters and will stage a protest in Jakarta. The East Java Police have given us a permit to stage the rally and they will escort us to Jakarta," a resident, Yohanes Imam Suwadi, told The Jakarta Post Tuesday.

The residents said the 20 percent downpayment would make things more difficult for them because the money would be spent repaying housing loans.

"We should have been involved in the settlement process. The government is doing whatever it likes without considering the victimized party," said Yohanes.

He added the new body replacing the national team would not have a positive impact on the plight of victims. The previous national team had been working at its maximum power, but the government was paying more attention on a certain group of people, he said.

"So it's not worthwhile to form a new body just by changing the name. Most residents are also pessimistic and consider the program to be just the government's pet project, as indicated by the appointment of a retired military member as the head of the agency," he said.

Major Gen. (ret.) Sunarso, former commander of the Diponegoro Military Command and current advisor to Coordinating Minister for the People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie, was appointed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to head the new Mudflow Mitigation Agency in Sidoarjo. The head of the previous agency, Basuki Hadimulyono, was a staff member at the Public Works Ministry, and had previously carried out various national projects.

The Legal Aid Institute's Surabaya chapter's operational manager Attoilah said the President should not hide his reasons for appointing Sunarso and should explain the National Intelligence Agency's role in the efforts to stop the mudflow.

"It is no longer a secret that the military has been involved in the program from the start. The President should explain this to prevent sense of distrust about the new agency," said Attoilah.

Despite continuous reinforcement efforts, the mudflow embankment in Wangkal hamlet, Renokenongo village, Sidoarjo, burst again Tuesday morning, channeling mud to Sengon village.

Workers are still afraid to repair the broken dike because the road leading to it is still being repaired. Villagers say they are starting to worry the mudflow might submerge their area.

The national mudflow mitigation team has been unable to stop the mudflow, which started on May 29 last year, although it has tried various methods. Experts are also unable to say when or if it might stop.

The key Porong highway is still closed to traffic. The new Pertamina gas pipeline, replacing the old one that exploded and killed five persons, is still not functioning as it was submerged in mud after the embankment collapsed.

Government embarks on massive reforestation program

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2007

Andi Hajramurni, Makassar – The government has embarked on an enormous reforestation program in a bid to rehabilitate 59.2 million hectares of damaged forest throughout Indonesia, Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Kaban said Tuesday.

This year the government plans to plant 2 billion seedlings on two-million hectares of land along 318 river banks in all provinces in the country, Kaban said.

Speaking at a coordination meeting in Makassar, the minister said the government had earmarked funds amounting to Rp 4.1 trillion (approximately US$445 million) from the 2007 state budget to finance the program.

The planting activities will be conducted between September and October this year simultaneously throughout the country, he said, adding that the program would be launched by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla. Kaban said that his ministry would soon tender the seedling procurement, urging owners of seedling businesses, including farmers, to prepare themselves.

He said that besides involving government institutions, the planting program would also involve timber estate (HTI) businessmen and forest concession (HPH) holders.

Both the HTI and HPH representatives will be entrusted to reforest 350,000 and 85,000 hectares of unproductive land respectively, he said, adding that state-owned forestry company Perum Perhutani would be assigned to reforest 200,000 hectares of land in Java.

The minister said that the only way to prevent further destruction of forests was through massive planting efforts. "There is no other way to revitalize our damaged forests, except through programs such as this," he said.

Kaban said the rate of forest destruction in Indonesia was 2.83 million hectares per year. As a direct result of this, some 59 million hectares of Indonesia's 120.35 hectares of forest have already been damaged.

He attributed the fast rate of deforestation to illegal logging practices, trade in illegal forest products, illegal mining, theft and forest fires.

As a result of the damaged forests, Indonesia suffered losses of about Rp 30 trillion per annum, not including the disappearance of rich natural resources, he said.

Kaban said forest destruction had also led to various natural disasters, including flooding, landslides and drought, due to the fact that forests could no longer function properly.

Andi Idris Syukur, head of the South Sulawesi Forestry Office, said the rate of forest destruction in South Sulawesi was currently 700 hectares out of 2.1 million hectares.

The forest destruction, Andi said, was caused mainly by illegal logging practices and forest fires as well as the conversion of forest land for residential complexes.

39 illegal logging cases uncovered

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2007

Padang, West Sumatra – West Sumatra Police have uncovered 39 cases of illegal logging in the last two weeks, a police officer said Tuesday.

Spokesman for the West Sumatra Police Bambang Hermanto said that the 39 illegal logging cases were discovered in 19 regencies throughout the province in the period between March 23 and April 9.

Police detained 51 suspects and confiscated 378 cubic meters of wood as well as a number of trucks used for transportation, Bambang said. "The confiscated goods include processed Meranti wood to be sold in Padang," he said.

All of the wood, which was without documents, was harvested in the Sawahlunto-Sijunjung, Payakumbuh, Pesisir Selatan, Padang Pariaman and Pasaman Barat regencies, Bambang said.

Indonesia sets up team to handle mudflow

Reuters - April 10, 2007

A permanent government agency has been set up to help communities affected by a torrent of mud that has swamped entire villages in East Java province, Indonesia's presidential spokesman said.

Toll roads, railway tracks and factories have been submerged and 15,000 people displaced since May when the mud began flowing out of a "mud volcano" following an oil-drilling accident in Sidoarjo, an industrial suburb near provincial capital Surabaya.

"The new team will continue efforts to rescue citizens, to handle social and infrastructure issues around the disaster areas," spokesman Andi Mallarangeng told reporters.

The Sidoarjo Mud Management Agency, chaired by a former army general, replaces a temporary team with a seven-month tenure that ended last week.

Mallarangeng said a decree to set up the team issued by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stipulated the government was responsible for covering costs related to the disaster's social impact on people living outside swamped areas.

However, PT Lapindo Brantas, the operator of the Banjar Panji 1 well from where the mud has been flowing, would pay for stopping and handling the mudflow as well as compensation for directly affected residents, he said.

The well is part-owned by Australian company Santos; Lapindo Brantas is a unit of PT Energi Mega Persada Tbk.

Lapindo had been told by the government to pay 3.8 trillion rupiah ($A512.6 million) to victims and for efforts to halt the flow, but officials say the cost could double that.

The company and Energi dispute the idea that the disaster was caused by the drilling and also whether Lapindo alone should shoulder the cost. Energi is owned by the Bakrie Group, controlled by the family of Indonesia's chief social welfare minister, Aburizal Bakrie.

Scientists have dropped hundreds of concrete balls into the mouth of the mudflow to try and stop it but have so far failed.

 Poverty & unemployment

Poverty forces 390,000 children to leave school in Lampung

Jakarta Post - April 12, 2007

Oyos Saroso H.N., Bandarlampung – More than 390,000 Lampung children have dropped out of school this year to help their families earn a living despite billions of rupiah being set aside to provide scholarships for underprivileged families.

The Indonesian Teachers Dignity Forum (FMGI) says these figures are "ironic" because more than Rp 20 billion (US$2.17 million) has been allocated in scholarship funds to Lampung province.

Gino Vanolie, a secretary to the FMGI, wants to know where the money has gone and says the province has been allocated abundant funds, made up of scholarship money, in addition to billions of rupiah from the fuel increase compensation fund.

"So if the number of dropouts continue (to) increase at a time when there are abundant education funds, it is very ironical," he said.

"Besides missing (their) target, the achievement of the local education office (in Lampung) needs reviewing."

With the provision of up to Rp 30 billion in funds there should have been no dropouts or street children in Lampung, he said.

The FMGI also said many school-aged children were dropping out of school because their parents were unaware their children may be eligible for a scholarship fund.

Zainal Mutaqim of the Lampung Education Office said last week the current number of school dropouts in Lampung was 393,952, compared to 228,000 in 2004.

"This (is) temporary data," he said. "The real number can be higher or (lower)."

Mutaqim said of the total number of dropouts, his office had managed to "save" 10,960 students by giving them "a kind of equalization program".

He said those who had not received the equalization program reached 382,992 – consisting of 339,917 dropouts from elementary schools, 23,314 from junior high schools and 19,761 from senior high schools.

Mutaqim attributed the high number of dropouts to poverty and said some children were forced to start working from the age of six.

Without providing any figures, Mutaqim also said many students in the province, including those living at fishermen residential sites in Teluk Lampung, had never attended school at all.

Another reason some children are not receiving any funds in Lampung is that scholarships are being granted to children whose parents were wealthy enough, said Gino.

"That was why students from poor families could not continue their studies," he said.

Poverty to worsen, but SBY could be reelected

Jakarta Post - April 9, 2007

Riyadi Suparno, Jakarta – The number of people living below the poverty line increased last year and will most likely increase again this year, but it is yet to be determined whether or not this will have an impact on the popularity of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono leading up to the 2009 election.

Despite the hardwork of the Yodhoyono government, poverty is likely to worsen this year in Indonesia due to a number of factors.

The 21 million poor families who received US$120 in cash assistance last year will not receive this assistance this year, affecting approximately 80 million people.

Rice prices have increased steeply in recent months. It is a historical fact that whenever rice prices increase sharply, many people fall below the poverty line. It seems this year will be no exception.

Worse, demands for labor, the main asset of the poor, are not improving. Investment has been slow, and even if there are new investment projects, they will not go to the labor-intensive sector. Consequently, the poor will remain poor, and those sitting slightly above the poverty line may easily slip below as a direct result of a lack of demand for labor.

Will the reality of an increasing number of poor people in the country affect Yudhoyono's popularity? A recent survey conducted by the Indonesian Survey Institute suggests this may be the case, with Yudhoyono's popularity falling to below 50 percent from over 70 percent just after he was elected in 2004.

But will this reality translate into anything in 2009 when the presidential election is going to be held?

Gustav F. Papanek, president of the Boston Institute for Developing Economies, has the answer. Papanek, who has conducted research in a number of countries on the relationship between increased poverty and the fate of leaders, said the answer depends on the people's perception of the government.

"Whether people feel hope or despair depends on whether the government is making a genuine effort to help the poor," said Papanek in a recent discussion in Jakarta. "If they feel the government is genuine, the people will vote for the leader."

Papanek has three suggestions for the existing government to not only to create a positive perception among the people, especially the poor, but also deliver results.

First, he said, the government should fully fund and strengthen the new National People's Empowerment Program (PNPM), a community-based program designed to ease poverty in urban and rural areas. The program is based on the World Bank's successful District Development Program and Urban Poverty Eradication Program.

Fully funding the program means that each of approximately 5,500 districts across the country will receive Rp 3 billion a year to finance projects that poor people have selected. This will cost the government $2 billion.

When it is fully operational, the program will create a demand for labor and provide additional employment for 60 days a year to between 20 million and 26 million people.

"Poor people are not unemployed. They are underemployed. Only educated people in the middle class could be unemployed. Poor people would take anything, even work paying Rp 4,000 a day, which educated people would not take," Papanek said.

Those 20 million to 26 million people would receive additional income of approximately Rp 14,000 a month. "But if the government does not pay, these positive things will not happen. Just like a car, it won't go unless you put gas in it," Papanek said.

Investing more in basic education and health care services may also make a difference. The ability of basic education and health care to lift people out of poverty is clear.

Former president Soeharto was successful in these areas. Through his Inpres (an acronym for presidential instruction) program, access to education and health care drastically improved. As a result, people were not forced to spend so much of their income on health care and education, helping many to overcome poverty and improve their social situation.

The export industry is another area that may help to alleviate poverty in the country. Indonesia's exports have been increasing from year to year, but recent increases have been predominantly from the rising prices of natural commodities.

In reality, Indonesia is losing out in the export of its manufacturing products. While overall exports have increased by double digits, exports of manufactured products have increased by less than 5 percent since 1996.

This could be because of worsening infrastructure, red tape, taxation or labor costs. But according to Papanek, the exchange rate is the strongest factor contributing to weak growth in the export of manufactured products.

Despite the competitiveness of your products, if your currency is strengthening against hard currencies such as the US dollar and the euro, you will lose out to countries such as China that keep their currencies relatively weak, he said.

In this regard, Papanek suggested that Indonesia follow the path of China in making its exports always competitive by keeping the local currency weak against major currencies.

If the government heeds the advice of Papanek and pursues these suggestions, Yudhoyono's popularity may improve, strengthening his chances to be reelected in 2009.

 Health & education

Old methods make criminals out of victims: Commission

Jakarta Post - April 13, 2007

Prodita Sabarini, Jakarta – An obsolete approach that sees drug users treated like criminals instead of victims is the main cause of overcrowding and HIV/AIDS related deaths in prisons, the National AIDS Commission says.

Inang Winarso, assistant to the commission's deputy secretary, said Thursday that the current prison health crisis was the result of a "paradigm that views drug users as criminals."

He added that National Police chief Sutanto's 2002 instructions to police to get tough on drug-related cases had resulted in thousands of already ill drug users being imprisoned.

He said that nationwide, prison sentences for drug-related cases had increased fivefold, to 34,166 to 7,211, in the last five years.

"Only two percent of the convicts are drug dealers, while the others are drug users. These are the ones who are sick and become even sicker inside prisons that are overcrowded, poorly sanitized and lacking in adequate health care," he said during a discussion with officials from the Justice and Human Rights Ministry, prison authorities and non-governmental organizations.

Authorities have reported that the majority of deaths in the country's prisons are caused by HIV/AIDS, with Jakarta prisons having the biggest death toll. The city saw 351 of 19,000 prisoners die last year. Some 70 percent of the deaths were caused by HIV/AIDS.

HIV infection in Indonesia spreads fastest among drug injecting users who share needles. Drugs are easily available in prison but needles are scarce and inmates often share them.

While HIV/AIDS and other opportunistic infections such as hepatitis C and tuberculosis are a growing problem, the budget allocation for prison inmate health care is still extremely small.

Soejoto, Secretary General of Correctional Institutions at the Justice and Human Rights Ministry said that health care budget was only Rp 500 per inmate per day.

"Prisons are not a place for people to die. They are correctional institutes. However, with the overwhelming health problem, they're loosing their ability to function as places to restore people to go back into the community as good citizens," said Budi Sulaksana, an official from the drug case unit at the ministry.

Inang said that drug users should not be seen as criminals. "The country should change its paradigm of drug users. We should de- criminalize drug users, because they are sick people. The real criminals are the dealers," he said.

"Putting addicts in the same place as drug dealers, in prisons, where drugs are still available, is not a good idea."

Budi said that the 1997 Psychotropic Law allowed judges to send drug users to rehabilitation centers as well as jail. "But judges hardly look at this option."

Inang suggested the empowerment of community health centers to organize harm-reduction programs, such as providing methadone treatments to convicted drug addicts.

Commenting on the idea, Budi said there should be coordination with prison authorities, the Health Ministry and the police. "The justice ministry cannot make it alone," he said.

Majority of prison deaths related to HIV/AIDS

Jakarta Post - April 11, 2007

Jakarta – The majority of deaths in the country's prisons are caused by HIV/AIDS, authorities said Tuesday.

"As much as 72.5 percent deaths of inmates (last year) were caused by opportunistic infections including high fever, tuberculosis, pneumonia, hepatitis, diarrhea, and thrush related to HIV/AIDS symptoms," said Mardjaman, the director general of correctional institutions at the Justice and Human Rights Ministry.

In Jakarta alone last year, 351 of 19,000 prisoners died.

Of the 116,000 people serving jail terms in the more than 300 penitentiaries and prisons nationwide, 32,000 were imprisoned for drug cases. Seventy percent of those convicted in drug cases were drug users.

Speaking at a media conference at the ministry, Mardjaman said that his directorate general planned to start the identification of new HIV/AIDS positive inmates by next year.

He also said that, "The transaction (of drugs inside prisons) is a fact." "We have been applying routine and incidental sweeping in every prison and penitentiary," he said.

"However, we are not able to detect drug transactions (inside the prison). For that reason, we have been working with the National Police since mid 2006," he said. He added that drugs were brought into prisons by various means, involving prison guards as well as visitors.

Also present at the conference were the director of Dharmais Hospital, Syamsuridzal Djauzi, and AIDS activist Baby Jim Aditya.

"The rampant use of injected drugs in Jakarta started in 1996. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV takes a period of eight to 10 years to reveal its clinical symptoms, known as AIDS," said Syamsuridzal, who is also an AIDS activist.

"The death rate of inmates due to AIDS can be reduced by identifying those who are suffering from the symptoms before serving his or her jail term."

Meanwhile, Baby said that her organization had requested mobile roentgen machines for tuberculosis treatment, as well as are larger budget for supplying HIV/AIDS drugs and supporting follow-up action after AIDS-related tests and consultations.

The Salemba Penitentiary currently only allocates Rp 25 million (US$2,700) in its monthly budget for the treatment of ill inmates as in-patients at a local hospital.

Mardjaman said that by the end of this year his office would start a correctional institution for drug-related inmates with the Gracia Hospital in Yogyakarta.

"We have also completed the establishment of a hospital with a capacity of 200 beds inside Cipinang Prison," he said.

The hospital is yet to start operation, however, because its management is still being discussed with the Health Ministry.

 War on corruption

Yudhoyono asks for caution when investigating corruption cases

Jakarta Post - April 13, 2007

M. Taufiqurrahman, Jakarta – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called on law enforcers to exercise caution when investigating officials from state-owned enterprises for corruption.

Yudhoyono said Thursday that in their fight against corruption, investigators should act prudently to avoid building erroneous cases and wrongly prosecuting individuals.

"If a company suffers business-related losses, then this cannot be considered corruption. Corruption occurs when personal enrichment is made at a loss to the company," Yudhoyono said in an address to top executives from more than 100 state-owned enterprises.

Yudhoyono lamented the fact that a number of state-owned enterprise executives had been subject to trial by the press, and said he would stand in defense of those who had been wrongly- accused.

"Please report to me, because it is my obligation and the government's to correct it all. I have to uphold justice and law correctly," Yudhoyono said.

The President then called on executives to remain independent when making decisions by not being heedful to outside political interference.

Yudhoyono's recent comments could, however, send out the wrong message about his intention to fight graft. His bid for the presidency was significantly strengthened by his stance against corruption. Now, critics are accusing the President of targeting only former officials associated with his political rivals.

Scores of former government officials who have stood trial on corruption charges worked for former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, who is a potential rival for Yudhoyono in the 2009 presidential election.

The government currently controls 139 state-owned enterprises, many of which are havens for corruption. Many of the enterprises have long played the role of cash cow for corrupt government officials and politicians, who accrue funds from the companies to serve their own ends.

The most glaring example of unchecked corruption in state-owned enterprises is shown by the frequent prosecution of chiefs of the National Logistics Agency (Bulog).

A number of Bulog's top executives, including Beddu Amang and Rahardi Ramelan, have been jailed for misappropriating funds from the agency. Bulog funds have also been linked with the bank accounts of several politicians.

The appointment of executives to state-owned enterprises has become a battle between political factions, each wishing to reap financial benefits from the companies.

Yusril, Hamid 'must be held accountable' for Tommy money

Jakarta Post - April 13, 2007

Imanuddin Razak, Jakarta – An academic and an activist have alleged that two cabinet members implicated in the transfer of US$10 million belonging to Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra into a Justice and Human Rights Ministry bank account abused their authority in endorsing the transfer.

Public Financial Law professor Arifin P. Soeria Atmadja of the University of Indonesia and Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) coordinator Teten Masduki said State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra and Justice and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin should be held accountable for the 2004 transfer of the money from the London branch of Bank Nationale de Paris (BNP) Paribas into an account of the Justice and Human Rights Ministry's Directorate General of General Legal Administration.

"I think the President, as the supreme authority for the management of the state's finances, must reprimand and punish the two ministers over the transfer of Tommy's money," Soeria Atmadja told a discussion at the ICW office in South Jakarta.

"The two were responsible for opening the ministry's account to facilitate the transfer... And they did it without the consent of the minister of finance," he said. "It was also wrong of them to let the money go out of the ministry's account later on," he added.

The professor said the money kept in the ministry's account belonged to the state and that any outflows of state money must be conducted through the state budget.

Asked about possible punishment for the two ministers, Soeria Atmadja said besides sanctions from the President, they must return all the losses the state incurred following the release of the $10 million.

Teten said the actions of both Yusril and Hamid met the criteria for corruption. "Therefore, they could also face corruption charges," he said.

Both Yusril and Hamid have denied any wrongdoing. Yusril has said the transfer was conducted in late 2004 by his successor, Hamid, when the cabinet of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was already established.

Hamid, however, said the process to have the money transferred to the ministry's account had started in February, 2004 when Yusril was still the justice minister and continued until 2005, when he had already succeeded Yusril.

ICW has also implicated Justice Ministry Secretary General Zulkarnaen Yunus in the case. Zulkarnaen, who was the director general of general legal administration when Tommy withdrew the money, has been detained since last month.

Soeria Atmadja dismissed the government's argument that no legal violation had occurred because when the money was released the ministry's account was being used as a medium for the transfer from Paribas to Motorbike Corp, a company owned by Tommy.

"There is no single article in the law on state money mentioning the possibility of using the government's account as a medium to transfer an amount of money to another account," he said. "Moreover, the use of a government account for private use violates state financial and treasury laws," the professor added.

 Politics & ideology

Prominent NU cleric Abdullah Faqih to lead anti-Papernas group

Antara News - April 14, 2007

Surabaya – Prominent Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) cleric and the caretaker of the Langitan pesantren (traditional Islamic boarding school) in Tuban, East Java, KH Abdullah Faqih has been chosen to lead a group opposing the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas).

The senior ulama (Islamic scholar) has been appointed to be the advisor to the Friendship Forum to Safeguard Pancasila and the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia Against the Threat of Neo-Communism (Forum Silaturrahmi Mengawal NKRI dan Pancasila dari Ancaman Neo-Komunisme) that held a consolidation meeting in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya on Saturday, which was attended by delegations from Sumatra, Java and West Nusa Tenggara.

Other prominent figures that were in attendance included KH Ir. Solahuddin Wahid (Gus Solah, the caretaker of Tebuireng pesantren in Jombang), Prof. Dr. Aminuddin Kasdi (East Java Indonesian Historians Society, MSI), Prof. Dr. Edi Sri Swasono (economist), Taufik Ismail (cultural observer), retired TNI Major General Sutoyo NK (the former director general of social and political affairs at the Department of Domestic Affairs) and KH Abdussshomad Bukhori (chairperson of the East Java Indonesian Ulemas Council, MUI).

"The PKI [Indonesian Communist Party] has indeed been destroyed, but communist ideas are resurfacing through various means and because of this vigilance is needed", said Faqih who is also one of the founders of the Ulama National Awakening Party (PKNU).

Faqih believes that one of the ways in which ex-PKI or PKI cadres are rising up again is through politics, education and the law. "The political means being undertaken includes among other things efforts to revoke the Tap MPRS XXV/1966(1), but it failed", he said.

"Now, they are trying to take advantage of the situation and conflicts the Indonesian nation is experiencing, most recently by building a new political movement. This conflicts with [the state ideology of] Pancasila and Islam, because of this it must be resisted", he asserted.

Speaking separately with Antara News during a break in the event, Gus Solah explained that it would be best to invite Papernas to address the legal factors because Indonesia is a constitutional state. "But, the legal efforts shouldn't be juridical in character, rather a submission to the Constitutional Court in the form of an appeal or judicial review", explained the younger brother of former President Abdurrahman Wahid(2).

Speaking in a similar vein, the deputy chairperson of the goodwill committee, Arukat Djaswadi said that they are urging the government to act immediately against Papernas because it has violated the MPRS Decree, Law Number 27/1999(3) on State Security, and many other laws.

"Because of this, it is time for the government to act firmly, because they are most clearly an embryo of a communist [party], because they use the principle of populist democracy, whereas if they [want to] live in Indonesia they must use Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution", he said.

The head of the Center for Indonesian Community Studies (CICS) explained that Papernas cannot be dealt with of by juridical means because Papernas uses the ideology of logic, however Papernas has clearly violated the "rules of the game" in Indonesia and the government must be firm.

Similar comments were made by Kasdi. "The aroma of the PKI inside Papernas is strong, including the view that the 1945 [nationalist] revolution is unfinished, the jargon of Tripanji(4) and the focus on workers, farmers and the urban poor", he said.


1. Tap MPRS XXV/1966: MPRS Decree Number XXV/1966 on the Dissolution of the Indonesian Communist Party and Prohibitions on Marxist, Leninist and Communist Teachings

2. Following the attack by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) on Papernas in Jakarta on March 29 Wahid publicly condemned the incident saying that it was unconstitutional and if the government stays quiet on the issue it will endanger the life of the nation. He also called on police to act firmly against the FPI. Wahid was scheduled to speak at a Papernas declaration that had to be postponed because of the attack.

3. Law No. 27/1999 is a revision to the Criminal Code that codifies the MPRS Decree.

4. Tripanji - Papernas' Three Banners of National Unity: Abolishing the foreign debt, nationalising the mining industry and building the national industry for the welfare of the people.

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Troubled Indonesia suffers leader crisis: Politicians

Jakarta Post - April 14, 2007

Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta – The inability of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's government to make headway in solving major national problems such as poverty and corruption has signaled a crisis in national leadership, senior politicians and researchers said.

Former Golkar Party chairman Akbar Tandjung and chairman of the National Independence Bull Party Eros Djarot said at a public discussion Friday that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had failed to fulfill his election promises.

Both Akbar and Eros said the President was too preoccupied with his own preparations for wining re-election in 2009, and that as a result the nation was suffering.

"In the past two years, no significant progress has been made in implementing the programs he promised during the presidential campaign," Akbar said. "Shanghai in China has a vision for 2030, but Indonesia doesn't even have a vision on what it will be like next year."

The public discussion was held after the launching of a book titled, The Syndicate Speaks Out. The book asserts that the government has failed to address major national problems such as unemployment, poverty, widening social disparity, health and education issues, corruption and legal uncertainty.

Eros accused the government of engaging in meaningless rhetoric and of not backing its words up with concrete action, and insisted the President was too focused on his own image.

"Yudhoyono has the potential to make progress if he wants to, but he has been trapped by his own image to win re-election in 2009 and on his own identity as a retired general. He is not tough and dubious enough to act," he said.

Former chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), Amien Rais, said that through the newly-endorsed capital investment law, the President had sold Indonesia to multinational corporations.

"Indonesia's size will decrease because of the capital investment law, which gives foreign investors the right to occupy plots of land for 95 years," he said, adding that a number of important national industries have been sold to foreign countries.

However, former vice president Try Sutrisno called on all parties to work together to strengthen Indonesia, and insisted that playing the blame game would not settle the nation's problems.

"The central government and regional administrations must coordinate to provide better services to the public, while other factions should support the government's efforts to empower the people and to improve their social welfare," he said.

Soegeng Sarjadi, executive director of the Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicate, which has conducted surveys showing Yudhoyono's decreasing popularity, said a majority of those who voted for Yudhoyono and his running mate Jusuf Kalla in the 2004 presidential election were disappointed with the government because of its failure to address their problems.

"After 61 years of independence, the people's livelihood has not improved and is even getting worse. Job opportunities are getting rarer and the number of poor families is increasing," he said.

Pro-democracy activists playing the political game: Study

Jakarta Post - April 13, 2007

Jakarta – Many pro-democracy activists are beginning to play active roles in politics in an attempt to improve political representation in the country, research conducted by the Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (Demos) revealed Thursday.

"The problem of representation is a serious problem in the democratic process. The failure to improve political representation has created wider disappointment over the ongoing process of democracy and in turn will invite the return of an authoritarian regime or a religious-based regime," Demos director Asmara Nababan said during a public discussion on the findings of the research.

The study found that many pro-democracy proponents, including NGOs, students and members of labor and lower-class movements, are now trying to broaden their agenda by working within the political system.

"They are now not only trying to gain mandates through discourse and seminars as they used to do two or three years ago, but are also trying to achieve this through elections and political parties," said Demos spokesman Antonio Prajasto.

The research – conducted from early 2006 in Medan in North Sumatra, Pekalongan in Central Java, Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan, Palu in Central Sulawesi and Manggarai in East Nusa Tenggara – also signaled that many pro-democracy advocates were trying to reconnect the social movement with the political movement.

Advocates are also strengthening their political capacities through alternative methods of representation such as upholding the ideas, views or interests of a specific group or a whole community and its cultural aspirations.

However, elitism, money politics and differing priorities among groups that are resisting subordination, trying to revitalize old customs or reform democratic institutions, have hampered the attempts of pro-democracy advocates to change the nature of political representation.

"We know that the pro-democratic actors are good at creating platforms, but their ideas are usually hijacked by rooted politicians, who then use them for their own political agenda," said Antonio.

Taufik Abda, a former member of the Aceh Referendum Information Center who attend the discussion, said he ran for vice mayor in Banda Aceh last November to test the consolidation of the pro- democracy movement there.

Taufik paired with Akhiruddin Mahjuddin for the election, though they did not make it into office. Taufik said the two major challenges for the pro-democracy movement were to finance political activities and to select candidates.

Demos's findings point to the requisite creation of a pro- democracy, non-party-affiliated political group, based on participatory political mapping, if both local and federated mini-platforms for campaigning are to be developed.

This group could be formed at an intermediary level where civil organizations can cooperate in developing political education to eventually create a mini-platform, as well as to keep politicians and parties accountable. Parties and politicians seen as supporting the mini-platforms would then in turn gain broader backing.

"This (group) is merely a consolidation against recent attempts to close the political system, and is aimed at promoting popular representation instead of elitist representation," Antonio said.

FPI accuses Papernas of spreading communist ideology

Sinar Indonesia Baru - April 11, 2007

Medan (SIB) – Dozens of people from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) demonstrated at Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) in the North Sumatra regional capital of Medan on Tuesday April 10 against the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas). The protesters believe that Papernas is extremely dangerous because it only wants to legalise and provide legal guarantees to commercial sex workers and is hiding behind the mask of the state ideology of Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution.

The demonstrators gave speeches and issued a statement against the establishment of Papernas, which held its founding congress in Kaliurang, Central Java in January. They said that this was extremely dangerous because the denial of religious values is becoming ever more rampant and fate of the country will be to degenerate into an uncivilized nation.

Action organisers Muhammad Iqbal and Ustad Muliyamin said that Papernas only acknowledges Pancasila as the country's ideological basis and the 1945 Constitution as a constitution. In addition to this, Papernas' adheres to imperialist principles (sic) in order to try to recruit members from all sectors of society, particularly from the working class, farmers, students and the urban poor. Based on this, the FPI is asking that the National Unity and Social Protection Agency (Kesbang Linmas) not to accept Papernas' when it registers itself nationally on June 2.

They also called on the national and North Sumatra General Election Commission not to verify the registration of a party that has communism as its ideology, because it violate Tap MPRS Number 25/1996 and Law Number 27/1999(1) on the dissolution of the Indonesian Communist Party. They are also asking the police as investigators and the enforcers of the law to have the courage to take firm action against Papernas and disband all of its regency and municipal offices throughout North Sumatra.

The FPI is also asking the leaders and members of the North Sumatra DPRD to be more careful and stay on guard against the communist movement in the legislator because they suspect that it has already been infiltrated by certain individuals who want to spread communist ideology in North Sumatra and that they also suspect that the mastermind behind this spread is the financier of Papernas in North Sumatra.

They are therefore asking the people of North Sumatra to be wary of agitation and propaganda that is being manipulated by certain irresponsible individuals to overthrow the Pancasila state and the 1945 Constitution and replace it with communist ideas. (A13/c)


1. Tap MPRS XXV/1966 - MPRS Decree Number XXV/1966 on the Dissolution of the Indonesian Communist Party and Prohibitions on Marxist, Leninist and Communist Teachings. Law No. 27/1999 is a revision to the Criminal Code that codifies the MPRS Decree.

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Housewives call on police to cleanse Indonesia of robed thugs

Detik.com - April 10, 2007

Nala Edwin, Jakarta – Thugs usually have tattoos and look scary. But one particular kind of thug is different. They wear robes and make people anxious. It is because of this that scores of housewives are calling on the national police to eliminate them.

The demand was taken up by some 60 people from the Anti-Terrorism Social Forum (FMA) during an action at the national police headquarters on Jl. Jalan Trunojoyo in South Jakarta on Tuesday April 10. The majority of participants were housewives wearing veils as well as a number of young people. "We are asking that Indonesia be cleansed of robed thugs", said action coordinator Husen Hashem.

The protesters also called on the police to continue legal proceedings against the perpetrators of violence in the name of religion such as the violence committed by the Islamic Defenders Militia (FPI) against members of the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) on March 29.

"We appeal to the public not to get involved with organisations that use religion and its symbols for political interests", said Hashem who claimed not to be a member of Papernas.

The demonstrators also brought posters with messages such as "Cleans the Republic of Indonesia from robed thugs", "Disband the FPI" and "The people need food not Islamic law". The also brought photographs of Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir on which were the written words, "Who want's to be led by Ba'asyir" and "Danger - Bush and Ba'asyir". (aan/nrl)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Papernas reports leaders of FPI and LPI to police

Media Indonesia - April 9, 2007

Aries Witjaksena, Jakarta – The central leadership board of the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) reported the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islamic Defenders Militia (LPI) to the Metro Jaya regional police on Monday April 9.

Papernas general chairperson Agus Priyono said that the report that was made at the Metro Jaya National Police Service Center was related to the deprivation of liberty.

In the police report numbered 1465/K/IV/2007/SPK Unit II Agus reported the LPI chairperson Habib Muhamad Asagfar and FPI chairperson Habib Rizieq on charges of deprivation of liberty and disagreeable actions in accordance with Articles 333 and 335 of the Criminal Code.

Agus said that the attack by the FPI and LPI on March 29 can be categorised as the deprivation of the liberty to express an opinion. The attack also disrupted the mass rally that Papernas planned to hold on nationalising the mining industry.

"Whereas by law, we are free to express an opinion", said Agus. Moreover Papernas had already informed the police of the action beforehand and had obtained an official receipt from the national police headquarters numbered STTP/YAMIN/041/2007/BAINTELKAM.

Agus also said that the attack was premeditated. "I see that there is another party behind all this", he said. He also appealed to those parties that dislike Papernas to take legal action against them rather then by using violence.

One of Papernas' affiliated organisations (the Urban Poor Union, SRMK) had earlier reported the FPI and the LPI to the Metro Jaya police on Wednesday April 4. In police report number 1426/K/IV/2007/SPK unit II, SRMK claimed that its several of its members had been injured in the clash that took place in the Dukuh Atas area of Central Jakarta on March 29.

The head of Papernas' advocacy and legal team, Roder Nababan, said that the two mass organisations had committed criminal acts of oppression, a mass attack and immorality. "[Violating] Articles 352, 170 and 281 of the Criminal Code", said Roder.

Nababan said that the violent action took place when Papernas was holding a series of peaceful actions at the National Education Department, the Shangri La Hotel, the Department of Labour and Proclamation Monument. "When we were demonstrating at the Shangri La, protesters wearing FPI paraphernalia suddenly attacked us".

During the incident that occurred alongside the State Bank of Indonesia building on Jl. Sudirman the attackers armed themselves with rocks, knives and other weapons such as catapults. As a consequence a number of Papernas members were injured. Several women who also took part in the demonstration suffered sexual harassment when they were "groped at" by the attackers. (Ars/OL- 03)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Papernas reports LPI, FPI and FBR to police for the second time

Detik.com - April 9, 2007

Rafiqa Qurrata A, Jakarta – Once not being enough, the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) has again reported the Islamic Defenders Militia (LPI), the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR) to the Metro Jaya regional police. The first report was made by one of Papernas' affiliated organisations, this time it was Papernas' central leadership board.

"Admittedly this is the second report. Earlier the Urban Poor Union (SRMK) had also reported the incident. This time round it is directed more towards the organisations", said one of Papernas' legal attorneys, Roder Nababan, at the Metro Jaya police offices on Jl. Gatot Subroto in Jakarta on Monday April 9.

According to Nababan, the actions by the FPI, FBR and LPI in attacking Papernas obstructed their freedom to express their views in public. Whereas Papernas had already obtained a permit from the police to hold the mass rally.

Nababan added that the violent acts committed by the FPI, LPI and FBR violate Article 28 Paragraph 1 of the 1945 Constitution, Article 333 Paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code on the deprivation of liberty and Law Number 39/1999 on Human Rights.

Papernas also plans to report the use of banners and posters that discredited Papernas by accusing them of being a communist party. "This will be reported later, we are still coordinating it", he said.

On March 29 members of the FPI, LPI and the FBR attacked a Papernas rally that was later to declare the party the Proclamation Monument in Central Jakarta. (nal/sss)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

 Art & literature

Teater Satu to stage Pram's work

Jakarta Post - April 13, 2007

Bandarlampung – Teater Satu, a leading theater group in Lampung, will stage from April 13-14 Nyai Ontosoroh by the late senior writer and novelist, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, at the Taman Budaya cultural center on Jl. Cut Nyak Dien, Bandarlampung.

Adapted by Faiza Mardzoeki from Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind), the first volume of the Buru Quartet novels – which were written while Pramoedya was imprisoned without trial by the New Order regime for a decade on Buru Island – Nyai Ontosoroh deals with the complex issues of feminism and nationalism.

Through Nyai Ontosoroh, Pramoedya attempted to break the stigmatization of nyai, a Javanese term of address for a woman that was identified during the Dutch colonial era as a low-class, pretty woman taken as a mistress.

The protagonist is a strong character, persevering and unyielding in her struggle, possessed with rational thinking and a visionary outlook, and is a symbol of resistance against arbitrary power that challenges a nation's dignity.

Unlike some other partial dramatic versions of the same work, the Teater Satu adaptation of Nyai Ontosoroh, directed by Imas Sobariah, will perform the piece in its entirety, featuring a cast of dozens.

Teater Satu, established 1996 in Lampung, is one of Indonesia's leading drama troupes.

In 2003, Teater Satu was honored with the Gedung Kesenian Jakarta (GKJ) Award for best alternative theater group. In 2002 and 2004, under Lampung poet Iswadi Pratama, the troupe received artistic grants from the Kelola Foundation and in 2005, Teater Satu was invited to participate in the Indonesia Performing Arts Mart (IPAM) held in Denpasar, Bali.

 Economy & investment

Indonesia could suffer as result of free trade agreements

Jakarta Post - April 13, 2007

Jakarta – Indonesia could suffer losses as great as, or even worse, than those that other developing countries have suffered as a result of entering into free trade agreements, such as the proposed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Japan, says an international NGO.

"Through Free Trade Agreements (FTA), the developed countries squeeze developing countries, such as Indonesia," Bert Maerten, Oxfam's regional campaign coordinator for economic justice, told a conference Thursday.

Oxfam is an international NGO that focuses on "poverty and injustice alleviation." "With these agreements, the commercial interests of the developed countries prevent developing countries from growing their industries," he argued.

Last November, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed on the key elements of the proposed EPA, which some NGOs here say is a threat to the Indonesian economy.

"We cannot predict the precise consequences that will accrue after the signing of the agreement, but we can learn from what has happened in other developing countries," said Tejo Wahyu Jatmiko, the coordinator of SBIB, a local NGO network.

Studies by Oxfam show that more than 1.3 million Mexicans working in agriculture were forced of the land during the first 10 years after the coming into effect of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was signed by Mexico and its major trading partner, the US, in 1994. In addition, 200,000 manufacturing jobs were lost between 2001 and 2004.

To prevent this from happening in resource-rich Indonesia, Tejo said the government needed to thoroughly sound out all aspects of the EPA before signing it. "The EPA is still at the initial stage. But what concerns us more are the details that will follow," he said.

According to Tejo, the government had never been transparent about the key elements of the proposed EPA, and had never sought submissions from those who might be affected by its consequences.

He also said that the Japanese government appeared to want to "control Indonesia", as shown, for example, by the fact that the Japanese side had warned that it would not sign the EPA if the Indonesian parliament failed to endorse the investment bill. The bill was passed into law in late March amid strong protests from local ultra nationalist and left-wing activists.

In addition, Maerten said that other countries in the region, like Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, would also be affected by the EPA with Japan.

Both NGO executives recommended that Indonesia pursue a multilateral approach, rather than a bilateral one, with developed countries in order to increase its bargaining power.

Thousands of small businesses in Medan going bankrupt

Jakarta Post - April 12, 2007

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – Many small- and medium-scale businesses in Medan have reportedly shut up shop over the past six months due to the low purchasing power of consumers there.

Head of the Medan Market Traders Association, Azri, said most of the bankrupt enterprises were those dealing in the cottage and garment industries and shop-front retail.

Azri said it was estimated that some 25,000 out of a total of 50,000 small- and medium-sized businesses in Medan had been forced to cease activities. He warned that this figure would likely rise over the next few months due to increasing losses.

"I'm pessimistic about their ability to survive in the months ahead. If they can, they would actually be using up their capital and biding their time before they go out of business," Azri told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.

Azri, who is also chairman of the Medan Restaurant and Handicraft Business Association, said many business owners were forced to sell their assets to repay bank loans.

He said he had to sell several of his assets to maintain his restaurant and shoe businesses, which had been incurring losses over the past two months due to price increases in raw materials. He then began experiencing difficulties in selling his products as a result of consumers' low purchasing power.

"I suffer up to Rp 30 million (US$3,350) in losses every month. The source of overhead costs come from my bank loan, which I have to repay monthly. Where would I get the money to repay the loans if not from selling my assets," said Azri, adding that 30 of his employees are now at risk of losing their jobs.

A trader at Medan's Petisah Market, Khairani, said the condition of small-scale traders was critical, due mainly to a decline in consumer numbers. She said it was difficult to sell her products at base price, let alone after minor markups.

"If I may say, the condition of most traders is now grave. We're just waiting to die." Khairani, and others like her, wait in hope of a government plan to bail them out of their current situation.

Head of Petisah Market's management, Adinda Putra Jaya, said as many as 1,034 traders at the market had stopped their business activities due to the low purchasing power of consumers. He said the closures had been occurring since last year, but that because some traders were still able to survive, closures had taken place slowly.

It goes without saying that lagging business has also had an adverse effect on the overall takings of the market's management.

Indonesian consumer confidence up despite concerns

Jakarta Post - April 10, 2007

Jakarta – Indonesian consumers have become more confident about the economy, while at the same time seeing risks ahead, the latest survey by the central bank shows.

Bank Indonesia's Consumer Confidence Index rose 0.9 in March to 93.3, marking the first clear-cut revival of optimism in the country's economy since November last year. The index had declined continuously from 101.6 that month to 92.4 in February.

However, March's overall index, which reflects how consumers perceive current economic conditions, and their expectations for the future, does not yet reveal a complete banishing of pessimism, which would be shown by a reading of more than 100.

Of the 4,650 households in 18 major cities across the country that were surveyed last month, only those in Makassar, Manado, Medan and Pontianak were fully confident about the outlook for the economy.

Regarding their current economic well-being and comparing this with six months before, consumers said they were benefiting from higher incomes, more job opportunities, and the ability to buy more durable goods – all of which translated into a rise of 2.3 in the Present Economic Situation Index to 81.6.

Consumers were particularly happy with their present incomes, the index for which rose to 114.4, while the employment and ability to purchase goods categories came in at 70.6 and 59.7, respectively.

Looking ahead, consumers said that economic conditions were likely to further improve, but were unsure about how better things would become, with the Six-Months Consumer Expectation Index slipping 0.5 to 105.1.

In addition, fewer consumers expected their incomes to increase within the next six months, resulting in the index for this category falling 2.4 points to 128.7.

Over the longer term, more than half of the consumers surveyed said that the economy was likely to tread water ahead, neither becoming better nor worse, which resulted in the One-Year Expectation Index rising only slightly by 0.9 points to 101.9.

Consumers also expected the prices of processed foodstuffs and clothing to rise in the next six months, although interest rates in Indonesia's consumption-driven economy would likely remain stable.

The central bank referred to a possible rise in inflationary pressures and expectations ahead when it decided to hold its key BI rate at 9 percent last week.

The inflation figures for March turned out mixed, with the rate of price rises slowing on a monthly basis to 0.24 percent, but rising on-year to 6.52 percent.

The slowdown in inflation and BI's rate cuts have not yet translated into higher growth as a result of the myriad problems still plaguing the country's investment climate.

First-quarter growth this year will likely come in at 5.4 percent, BI has said, lower than 2006's full-year growth of 5.5 percent.

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