Jayapura United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) spokesperson Jacob Rumbiak has described the recent seven-person delegation from Solomon Islands to West Papua as 'a visitation by robbers'.
The recent delegation visit to West Papua had included the PMO Chief of Staff John Usuramo, Special Envoy to West Papua Rence Sore, Chairman of FSII Wilfred Luiramo, DSE chairman Inia Barry, Lawrence Makili, Gloreta Anderson and Lilly Chekana.
Speaking during his meeting with SICA General Secretary Holmes Saeve Monday, Rumbiak said a summary of Chekana's account of their trip given by Holmes highlighting that the West Papuan people are not united is 'very misleading'.
"I bring voice from inside West Papua as the delegation that recently visited West Papua was like robbers. They came and hid and never met with the people struggling for their right. I think they are blind and they do not know what we already have set up."
He said ULMWP is the answer to their report as they have a Federal Republic of West Papua, a 14 political organisation affiliating with the Federal Republic, six organisations affiliating with West Papuan National Coalition for Liberation, six affiliating with the National Parliament of West Papua being 26 West Papuan organisations already inside.
And the United Liberation Movement for West Papua is a West Papua national political body. "When someone says we are not united, that is misleading, said Rumbiak.
"They say how can they meet with West Papua, they do not have a leader, no political body and they do not have any agenda. We have an agenda, we have a political body, we have leadership member, adjective, we have a legislative leader and member, judicial leader and member, we got Bureau Officers working inside and Diplomats outside, and the support from the whole region of West Papua including churches (7 religions). They recommended support.
"The movement of West Papua is based on the advice from the Melanesian leaders."
On meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare last week, Rumbiak said the group should have involved Fiji and Papua New Guinea before visiting independently and should not have allowed the trip to be funded by Indonesia. They should have went and stayed on the ground with the people of West Papua.
The ULMWP spokesperson's recent visit to Honiara was to meet with the DPM, SICA and organisers of the Melanesian Arts Festival and to reiterate that the recent seven-person delegation from Solomon Islands was done with Indonesian Government incentive for its own interest.
Rumbiak gave a detailed description of the group's visit to the SICA General Secretary, questioning why the group did not visit and call into various civil and interest groups within West Papua.
Rumbiak described how the protestors went to welcome the Solomon Islands delegates but were instead arrested. He showed videos of the documentaries about the atrocities in WP and a protestor who was arrested during the group's stay there.
A human rights advocate says it may be possible that armed Papuan groups could be implicated in Indonesia's new anti-terror laws.
Indonesia's parliament last week passed tough new anti-terrorism measures following this month's suicide bombings in Surabaya. The laws allow police to detain suspects for longer and prosecute those linked to militant groups.
Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch Indonesia says the government started to revise its counterterrorism law in 2016 after Islamic State-linked bomb attacks in Jakarta.
Andreas Harsono: But the draft law remained idle until the Surabaya attacks in May 2018, when three Islamic State families of suicide bombers, attacked three Christian churches and the police headquarters, using their own children, as young as eight years old, in the attacks. It shocked the public in Indonesia. It was probably the first suicide attack in the world where father and mother bombers detonating their own children. President Jokowi went to Surabaya, saying that he will issue a presidential decree on counter-terrorism if the parliament does not finish the bill. The media coverage and the public shock put a lot of pressures on the parliament to deliberate the bill, spending less than a week to pass it.
Johnny Blades: Are there concerns among the public or rights groups over particular aspects of the new laws?
AH: In 2017, rights groups were worried to see the draft included a part called the "Guantanamo Article," in a reference to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the US government has arbitrarily detained hundreds of people since 2002, virtually all without charge. It also included an article that could deprive a convicted terrorist of his or her Indonesian nationality. Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, protested those articles. The Indonesian parliament finally scraped those two controversial articles. But Article 6 of the law still criminalizes violence or threats of violence against "the environment" without providing any definition or clarification as to the meaning of "the environment." It also opens a possibility that the Indonesian military is to be involved in counter-terrorism operations. It might create some confusion with the police's law enforcement work. It's especially problematic in intelligence gathering. The military involvement might be justified if Indonesian terrorists could stage an attack like what the jihadists had down in Marawi, the Philippines.
JB: How might the laws affect Papua?
AH: If we look at the definition of terrorism in the Counter-Terrorism Law, it's unlikely to include various armed groups in Papua to be a part of terrorism. In Papua, most violence from these indigenous groups are launched against police and military officers. A terrorism act is per definition targeted against with mass destructions and creating fear. The Papuans obviously do not do that. But this law does not provide definition of what it claims to be other targets of terrorism such as environment, public accommodations or international facilities. It might open possibilities that the armed groups in Papua could be defined as "terrorist groups" because of these other targets.
JB: So, could the evolving definition of "terrorist" implicate more groups in Papua?
AH: The counter-terrorism law is very clear that it's targeted against groups only with arms which include explosives, chemical, biological, micro-organism, nuclear, or radioactive component. It does not include political groups, such as the various Papua separatist groups, which campaign for independence using non-violence method. The law obviously also does not include traditional arms like machete, arrows and bows.
A human rights advocate says it may be possible that armed Papuan groups could be implicated under Indonesia's new anti-terror laws.
Indonesia's parliament last week passed tough new anti-terrorism measures following this month's suicide bombings in Surabaya.
The laws allow police to detain suspects for longer and prosecute those linked to militant groups such as Islamic State which claimed responsibility for the Surabaya attacks.
The counterterrorism law had been drafted in 2016 after Islamic State-linked bomb attacks in Jakarta, but had remained idle until this month.
National shock at the style of the Surabaya bombings where families and children were used to detonate bombs has galvanised support for President Joko Widodo's government in passing this legislation.
So too has concern at the increasing number of people in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country being recruited into Islamic State and its violent agenda.
While active militant groups are the focus of the toughened laws, Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch Indonesia says various armed groups in Papua are unlikely to meet the definition of terrorism in the Counter-Terrorism Law.
He said their attacks tended to be against police and military officers, whereas terrorism was defined as targeting civilians.
"But this law does not provide definition of what it claims to be other targets of terrorism such as environment, public accommodations or international facilities. It might open the possibilities that the armed groups in Papua could be defined as "terrorist groups" because of these other targets," said Andreas Harsono.
He noted an apparent vagueness around what "environment" as a target might refer to.
The government defined terrorism as an act which "uses violence or threats of violence on a massive scale, and/or causes damage to strategic vital objects, the environment, public facilities or international facilities".
"Article 6 of the law still criminalizes violence or threats of violence against 'the environment' without providing any definition or clarification as to the meaning of 'the environment'," Mr Harsono said.
However, according to him, the counter-terrorism law clearly targets against groups with arms which include explosives, chemical, biological, micro-organism, nuclear, or radioactive components.
"It does not include political groups, such as the various Papua separatist groups, which campaign for independence using non-violence methods," he explained. "The law obviously also does not include traditional arms like machete, arrows and bows."
The new bill provides for greater involvement by Indonesia's military in anti-terror operations. "It might create some confusion with the police's law enforcement work. It's especially problematic in intelligence gathering," Mr Harsono said.
"(But) the military involvement might be justified if Indonesian terrorists could stage an attack like what the jihadists had down in Marawi, the Philippines."
A leading foreign affairs official from the Solomon Islands government says it's now seeing a balanced picture on Indonesia's Papua region.
The government is consulting with the provinces as it formulates an official position on West Papuan human rights and self-determination issues. Consultations follow a visit by a Solomons government-led delegation to Indonesia's provinces of Papua and West Papua at the invitation of Jakarta.
The Solomons' Special Secretary on Foreign Relations, Rence Sore, was one of the government officials in the delegation. He said the visit was aimed at achieving a balanced picture of what's going on in Papua.
"Before we went we had been listening to the other side of the story. And the story we heard, we were always hearing at that time, was there's always human rights abuse, there's always fighting for independence, someone is being killed and all that. It's one-sided, all one-sided."
Rence Sore said that when they went to Papua region, the story was entirely different. He said that for now the government had yet to decide on its official position regarding West Papua and Papua provinces.
"We're trying to give the government a good picture. Both sides of the coin we have to tell the government, and the government independently makes that policy decision."
The delegation's visit and resulting report were indications that the Solomon Islands government, under prime minister Rick Hou, was approaching a different stand on Papua to that of the previous prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.
Mr Sogavare, who is now the deputy prime minister, campaigned internationally about West Papuan human rights issues. He was also supportive of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, and instrumental in its admission to the Melanesian Spearhead Group in 2015.
The Liberation Movement, which Indonesia's government opposes, last month voiced disappointment that it wasn't notified by Solomon Islands about the delegation's visit.
Mr Sore, who said his government consulted with Indonesian authorities for the visit, noted the Liberation Movement's strong connections with civil society organisations in Solomon Islands.
"And to some extent, that strong connection also was with the previous Solomon Islands leadership, government, prime minister. We went (to Indonesia) with authorisation from the current prime minister, and official authorities were notified."
However Mr Sore would not be drawn on whether the Hou-led government had shifted position on Papua.
"That decision is not yet formal. It depends entirely on the report. We did a report when we came back, and we are still doing the consultations on the policy. That policy will go through the government cabinet."
The Solomon Islands government says its official position on West Papua won't be made until after provincial consultations.
Consultations follow the submission of a report to government by a Solomons delegation which visited Indonesia last month.
The delegation, which included civil society workers, visited Indonesia's provinces of Papua and West Papua, at the invitation of Jakarta.
The Solomons' Special Secretary on Foreign Relations, Rence Sore, was one of the government officials who led the delegation. He spoke to Johnny Blades about the purpose of the visit.
Rence Sore: Solomon Islands, we are developing a policy on Papua and West Papua, extension of our foreign relations authority. And having gone to Papua and West Papua, we are now seeing a balanced picture.
Johnny Blades: So before you went was it unbalanced?
RS: Yes. Before we went we had been listening to the other side of the story. And the story we heard, we were always hearing at that time, was there's always human rights abuse, there's always fighting for independence, someone is being killed and all that. It's one-sided, all one-sided. When we went, the story was entirely different.
JB: I'm assuming you met with West Papuans themselves, not just the people in the government?
RS: Yeah, we met Papuans. We met civil society representatives. We had informal meetings in Jayapura. We also had informal meetings in Manokwari, the capital of west Papua province. The time was limited, but the informal meetings we had we consulted a good number of indigenous Melanesians, Papuans in Jayapura and also Papuans in Manokwari.
JB: What sort of things were they telling you, are they concerned about human rights or Indonesian rule?
RS: They are telling us that human rights violation was happening during military rule. Yes, there's no dispute. But since democrasi, there has been lots of improvements.
JB: There was some concern among Papuan groups that they weren't consulted by your delegation before you went to their homeland. What's your response?
RS: We consulted the government in Jakarta. We consulted the provincial government in Jayapura. We consulted the provincial government in Manokwari, West Papua. This is an official government-led civil society mission and all the legal authorities were consulted.
JB: The United Liberation Movement for West Papua, which has links with your country, they voiced disappointment at the way they weren't notified...
RS: The ULMWP, yes, they have strong connections with civil society organisations in Solomon Islands. Yes they have that strong connection. And to some extent, that strong connection also was with the previous Solomon Islands leadership, government, prime minister (Manasseh Sogavare). We went with authorisation from the current prime minister (Rick Hou), and official authorities were notified.
JB: Is it fair to say that under the leadership of Rick Hou the Solomon Islands government is no longer maintaining the stand that prime minister Sogavare had on West Papua?
RS: That decision is not yet formal. It depends entirely on the report. We did a report when we came back, and we are still doing the consultations on the policy. That policy will go through the government cabinet. Once the cabinet endorses the policy then it becomes the official government position. At the moment, the official position on West Papua and Papua, the government has yet to decide on the official position. We're trying to give the government a good picture. Both sides of the coin we have to tell the government, and the government independently makes that policy decision.
Krithika Varagur, Bireuen The 79 Rohingya refugees who set off on a boat from Myanmar's Rakhine state last month were terrified when they were intercepted and redirected by Thailand's navy.
Washing up on the shores of a country they were not expecting seemed, at first, like yet another blow.
They had set off for Malaysia where families and jobs were waiting. Instead they arrived in Indonesia's Aceh province, on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra.
The deeply conservative Islamic province is home to Sharia law and remembered worldwide as the epicentre of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. But it is also one of the only places in the world to openly welcome Rohingya refugees, whom many Acehnese regard as their Muslim brothers and sisters.
The Rohingya, a Muslim minority from Myanmar, have been called the most friendless people on earth. Nearly 700,000 live in refugee camps in Bangladesh after fleeing violence and persecution at home, something the UN has described as having "all the hallmarks of genocide".
Refugee boats have been turned away from Thailand and Malaysia, but in Aceh arrivals have been met with generous donations and fellowship ever since the first of nine Rohingya vessels washed up in 2015. At least 1,740 Rohingya have landed in Aceh in the past 10 years, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Nearly all have been from the state of Rakhine.
The most recent boat arrival, in the coastal town of Bireuen, population 40,000, came during the weekly Friday prayers a few weeks ahead of Ramadan, the holiest month of the year.
"They are taking care of us like parents take care of their children," says Mohammad Shobir, a Rohingya man who came with his wife in the boat. "We were very scared when we landed, but these people have given us everything: food, medicine, shelter... we want to express our sincere gratitude to them."
The refugees are staying in a temporary camp run jointly by the IOM and a local social services agency. After Ramadan they will be moved to more permanent shelter in the city of Langsa.
The first day of Ramadan was bittersweet in the camp. "We are fed very well here but we don't taste the food," says Mohammad Illyas, 24, who left three children behind in an internally displaced persons camp in Rakhine state. "My family doesn't eat if I don't work for even one day, so right now I have no idea how they are coping."
He had hoped to find work in Malaysia, where at least 150,000 Rohingya live. He has no plans to leave now because they are under the care of IOM and the UN and have no way to organise another boat trip.
The Rohingya are not generally welcomed in Malaysia they have no legal right to work or to formal education but their sheer numbers mean they can find work in the "grey market".
The camp in Bireuen is in an empty government complex of cream and dark green buildings around an open field. There are men's and women's dormitories and a mosque where some of the Rohingya work together with local people to conduct their prayers five times a day.
"We take turns singing the azan [Muslim call to prayer] and then the Acehnese lead us in prayer," says Huzaifa, a 16-year-old boy known as "the imam" because he spent years in a madrasa and is proficient in Qur'anic Arabic.
There is also a health clinic and one large room devoted to donations: towers of instant noodle boxes, egg crates, cooking oil and piles of clothes. The refugees wear donated hijabs and sarongs, and the men have white pecis, the stiff caps common to Muslim men in the region, which were donated by local mosques and charities.
Young Acehnese volunteers appear united in their sense of duty. They variously say they are helping out "because they are our Muslim brothers"; "because my soul felt called to do it"; and "because it's our duty as Acehnese".
Saw Myint from the office of the United Nations high commissioner for refugees in Bangkok has been visiting the camp and says the reception given to the Rohingya had been "unique" in the region. "The refugees cry when expressing their gratitude. The Achehnese are very pious, humble, helpful."
Zulfikar is an Acehnese man from the social affairs ministry and is in charge of running the camp. He has been sleeping in the camp and has put all other duties on hold.
"My wife hasn't seen me in 22 days!" he says cheerfully. "According to our maritime law in Aceh, we don't ask any arrivals' religion, race and so forth," he says. "The most important thing is saving lives, not national law."
Indonesia does not officially recognise refugees and is not a signatory to the 1945 UN convention.
"I'm a survivor of the [2004 Boxing Day] tsunami too, like many people in Aceh," adds Zulfikar. Aceh bore the brunt of that tsunami with a death toll of more than 100,000. "We all know what it is like to live through a disaster."
The first fast of Ramadan is broken at 6.45pm. In the afternoon about 40 volunteers cook the evening's feast: rice, fish, noodles, cucumber salad, beef in a coconut milk curry, fried and spiced eggplant. All the ingredients come from donations. A Rohingya woman named Fatima Khatu, the fiancee of Mohammad Shobir, cooks a spiced chicken recipe from home called kurar gustu rendi. Some other Rohingya men shake a tamarind tree in the compound to make juice from the pulp.
At sundown everyone gathers, the women and children on one tarp and the men on another. When the evening call to prayer finally sounds they gulp down fruit punch and eat dates, the traditional fast-breaking food, and then polish off a selection of Acehnese sweets, including slabs of jelly and buns stuffed with sweet shredded coconut.
The men pray together on a large, raised platform in rows, while the women retreat to their dormitory building to pray in private.
But beneath the celebration and the relief, anguish remains. "We are glad to have food here," says Fatima, who left two children behind in Rakhine. "We are very lucky. But nothing else is certain. We don't know how our families are."
M Julnis Firmansyah, Jakarta Suciwati Munir, the wife of a human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, refused to meet with President Joko Widodo or Jokowi during the regular protest, known as Kamisan, held by victims of past human rights abuses today if the meeting held at the State Palace.
President Jokowi is scheduled to meet with the families of the victims. "Jokowi should pay the Kamisan protest participants a visit. He came when the 212 Rally was held," said Suciwati on Thursday, May 31.
By visiting the Kamisan protest participants at the location, according to Suciwati, President Jokowi would show his good faith to meet with the participants. Suciwati added that President Jokowi would only need to cross the street since the location is very close to the State Palace.
In relation to Jokowi's intention to solve human rights cases, including the murder of her husband, Munir, Suciwati said that she no longer believes it can be solved. Therefore, she only asks President Jokowi to take concrete action to conduct an investigation into the case.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is scheduled to meet survivors and families of the victims of past human rights abuses who regularly participate in a weekly protest known as Kamisan, says a prominent human rights activist.
Kamisan is a silent protest held every Thursday that calls on the government to take responsibility to resolve cases of past human rights abuses.
The plan to meet the protesters came after a meeting between Jokowi and human rights activists on Wednesday.
Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid said Jokowi had claimed that over the years he had tried to receive the victims and survivors, but they always refused to meet him.
"So I told [Jokowi] that if he seriously wants to meet Kamisan participants, we should just schedule a meeting," Usman told journalists.
He said, "The President replied 'how about tomorrow [Thursday]?'" to which Usman replied that Thursday coincided with the Kamisan protest.
Usman went on to quote Jokowi who said, "Alright, so we schedule the meeting for tomorrow, I [Jokowi] will communicate with the victims' families."
The meeting, if realized, will be the first time that Jokowi personally receives the victims and survivors, grouped in the Kamisan protest, since taking office in 2014.
During his 2014 election campaign, Jokowi promised to prioritize the investigation into and reconciliation of past human rights abuses.
However, activists, victims and survivors were dismayed with the Jokowi administration's inconsistencies in the handling of at least seven cases of human rights abuses that the government had promised to solve, including the 1965 purge and 1998 riots.
During the meeting, which was also attended by Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto, Attorney General HM Prasetyo and Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly, activists also highlighted the government's lethargy in handling rights abuse cases, Usman said.
"Let's hope that [Thursday's] meeting will be positive," he added. (ahw)
Jakarta Maria Catarina Sumarsih, the mother of Wawan, a victim of the Semanggi I student shootings, has demanded that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo fulfill his promise to resolve past human rights cases and have the courage to end impunity.
"Pak Jokowi, resolve past gross human rights cases and end impunity by ordering the Attorney General to follow up of the [investigation] dossiers submitted by Komnas HAM [the National Human Rights Commission]", said Sumarsih on Thursday May 31.
The families of victims of human rights violations have, on hundreds of occasions, have stood in front of the State Palace each Thursday demanding that the government fully investigate the death of their family members which to this day have not been followed up.
After holding more than 500 Kamisan Thursday Actions as the silent protests are known they have, for the first time, been received by the president.
Sumarsih also complained about the cases dossiers that have been repeatedly returned by the AGO. She hopes that the meeting with Widodo today will result in a serious decision being taken on resolving past cases of human rights violations.
She also hopes that the meeting will not just be used as a political stunt by Widodo. "[You] shouldn't have to be invited, you could have just come and joined us and the families of victims in front of the Palace during a black umbrella Kamisan", she said.
Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) coordinator Yati Andriyani meanwhile warned Widodo not to use his meeting with Kamisan protesters as an image building tool in the lead up to the 2019 presidential elections.
Yati said that the Kamisan protesters will continue to urge Widodo to resolve the numerous cases of human rights violations that have taken place in Indonesia.
Yati adding that the Widodo administration which has been in office for almost four years has been very slow in responding to cases of past human rights violations. This is despite the fact that this was one of Widodo's campaign pledges in the 2014 presidential elections.
"If this meeting is not based on a strong commitment by the head of state, in this case the president, to resolve cases of past human rights violations. If this is only a symbolic meeting, a political gimmick for image building and to get political support, then I think, this is an insult to our sense of justice, and could dash the hopes of victim's [families]", Yati told KBR on Thursday.
Yati said that the meeting between Widodo and the Kamisan protesters is long overdue because the Thursday actions have been taking place for 11 years and they have sent hundreds of letters to the Palace calling for cases of past human rights violations be fully investigated.
Despite having finally met with Widodo, said Yati, they would continue to hold Kamisan actions until these cases are resolved.
Yati believes that Widodo's policies have in fact gone backwards by, for example, promoting former General Wiranto as Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Menkopolhukam) and then giving him the task of resolving past human rights cases.
Yet it is Wiranto who stands accused of being responsible for the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II student shootings in 1998 because at the time he was the commander-in-chief of the Indonesian military (TNI).
Yati also said that it appears as if Widodo has allowed Attorney General Prasetyo to repeatedly refuse to carry out an investigation into the nine cases of gross human rights violations which have been investigated and submitted to the AGO by Komnas HAM.
Widodo has also refused to publicly release the findings of an investigative report by the Fact Finding Team into the 2004 assassination of renowned human rights defender Munir, even claiming that the document has disappeared.
In addition to this, Widodo has not followed up on the House of Representatives (DPR) recommendation to issue a Presidential Decree on the formation of an ad hoc human rights court, to form a team to investigate the abduction of activists in 1997-98, rehabilitate the families and victims of rights violations, and ratify the International Convention on Forced Disappearances.
Jakarta Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs, former General Wiranto, did not attend a meeting between President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the families of victims and survivors of past human rights violations.
When approached by journalists following the inauguration of presidential advisory board members at the State Palace on Thursday May 31, Wiranto was reluctant to talk as he hurried towards his official vehicle.
"Ask the Mensetneg [State Secretariat Minister]. I have duties elsewhere. Ask him", said Wiranto at the Presidential Palace complex on Thursday May 31.
Wiranto is often cited as being the actor behind the May 1998 riots. When the riots erupted, Wiranto held the post of Defense and Security Minister as well as the commander of the Armed Forces, then known as ABRI.
After former president Suharto stepped down, Wiranto faced allegations of involvement in the riots, the abduction of activists and the shooting of student activists. He is alleged to have been directly or indirectly involved in the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II student shootings in Jakarta in 1998.
This afternoon, President Widodo is scheduled to meet with the families of victims and survivors of past gross human rights violations at the Palace. The plan for the meeting was hatched after Widodo met with several legal experts and human rights activists at the State Palace yesterday.
Amnesty International Executive Director Usman Hamid said that at the Wednesday meeting with Widodo he reviewed a series of pass cases of gross human rights violations which have to this day still not been resolved. Upon hearing this, Widodo asked Special Presidential Staff member Teten Masduki and his aide to schedule a meeting with the families of the victims.
"The president felt that he had already tried to receive (the families of the victims). But according to the president the families never wanted to come. I said, if this is really true then the president can meet them and if he seriously wants to meet with the victims of the Kamisan [Thursday] actions, yes well we can just schedule it", said Usman after meeting with Widodo at the State Palace on Wednesday.
"The president immediately said that if that's the case then how about tomorrow (Thursday)? By coincidence there's a Kamisan tomorrow", he added referring to the Thursday actions held by the families of the victims of human rights violations in front of the State Palace each Thursday.
The planned arrival of Widodo at the 540th Kamisan action did indeed give rise to questions among survivors and human rights activists. This is because they have been holding actions in front of the State Palace for 11 years and have sent hundreds of letters to different presidents including Widodo. None of these however have ever elicited a response.
"We are concerned that president Jokowi's arrival or meeting today is just going to be symbolic in nature or a 'gimmick' in the midst of a political year", read a written statement received by KBR.
These doubts were also conveyed by an alliance of human rights NGOs and the families of victims including the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) and Suciwati, the wife of renowned human right defender Munir who was assassinated in 2004.
The activists and victims warned that if the meeting is not based on good intentions and a genuine commitment then it will instead insult their sense of justice and humanity. It is quite possible that it would dash the hopes of survivors and families.
"Right from the start the aim of the Kamisan actions was not simply to be visited by or meet with the president, rather they were to press for state liability for the numerous cases of human rights violations that have taken place in Indonesia", read a joint statement received by KBR from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), YLBHI, LBH Jakarta and Suciwati.
Reports by a number of legal and human rights monitoring groups have categorised the performance of President Widodo and his subordinates in resolving human rights violations as slow. Yet, continued the written statement, a full investigation and resolution to past human rights cases was included in Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla's Nawa Cita or nine point program.
"President Jokowi's policies on resolving gross human rights violations also took a step back with the appointment of Wiranto as Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Menkopolhukam), and placing the coordination for the resolution of past gross human rights violations under [the authority of] the Menkopolhukam", the groups said.
Because of this therefore, the coalition of NGOs is urging Widodo to rid the cabinet of figures alleged to be involved in human rights violations. As a measure of the seriousness of the government in resolving human rights cases, the president is also being call upon to form a presidential committee.
"Instead of just coming to meet with Kamisan action protesters which could tend to smack strongly of image building, President Jokowi should give more priority to forming a presidential committee to resolve human rights cases and take concrete measures rather than actions that are populist", they said.
President Widodo appointed Suharto era Armed Forces chief and Defense Minister General Wiranto as Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs in July 2016. In 2003, Wiranto was indicted on charges of crimes against humanity by a UN-backed court for his role in the Indonesian military violence during East Timor's 1999 independence referendum. He was also implicated in the anti-Chinese riots in 1998 in a 2003 report by the National Human Rights Commission.
Ria Apriyani, May Rahmadi, Jakarta Presidential spokesperson Johan Budi says that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had long wanted to meet the families of victims of past gross human rights violations.
He claims that on two occasions the president tried to invite them to a meeting but that the invitation was never conveyed to the families.
"The president tried to convey [an invitation] on two occasions. But I don't know how or what happened, I don't know. Then when [Widodo] heard it from Pak Usman [Hamid], the president responded, [saying] yes alright tomorrow then. Then a meeting was arranged", said Budi at the Presidential Palace complex on Thursday May 31.
He said that Widodo wanted to hear for himself what had been experienced by the families of the victims, including their hopes and wishes. Although during the actual meeting, he said, no decision of any kind was reached.
Widodo promised only that in the near future he would summon Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo and Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Menkopolhukam) Wiranto to ask that they act as a bridge for communication between the government and the families of victims.
"It won't be handed over to the KSP [Presidential Staff Office]. It was just about process. This development, how can it be handled, the ibu-ibu [mothers of the victims] can ask [presidential chief of staff] Pak Moeldoko. The ones handling it will still be the Attorney General and the Menkopolhukam, coordinating with Komnas HAM [the National Commission on Human Rights]", he said.
Amnesty International director Usman Hamid meanwhile said that the meeting with Widodo happened because of an earlier dialogue on law and human rights that took place at the Palace on Wednesday May 30.
The dialogue involved legal experts, university rectors and a number of non-government organisations concerned with the law. During the closed meeting, Usman criticised the Widodo administration for not being serious about solving past human rights cases.
"[I said] not one case of past gross human rights violations has been resolved. I also cited the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II [student shootings in 1998], the May 1998 tragedy, the Tanjung Priok [shooting of Muslim protesters] in 1984, the Talangsari [massacre] in 1989, the abduction of activists in 1997-1998, and even the mass killings in 1965-1966", said Usman in a speech at a Kamisan or Thursday Action adjacent to the State Palace on Thursday May 31.
Then, Usman continued, Widodo did conceded that not one of the cases had been resolved and that not even one case had made any headway or been taken to court.
Usman then asked Widodo to do something concrete. For a start, he asked Widodo to meet with the Kamisan action protesters. Widodo, said Usman, claimed that he was informed that the Kamisan protesters did not want to meet him.
"The president said that he had already offered to meet with the Kamisan action [participants]. But I heard that they didn't want to. I refuted this. I said there had never been any such proposal. The president then explained that it was a staff member who said this. I didn't want to debate the issue and [instead] asked the president to schedule [a meeting] so [that's how] it happened", said Usman.
Today, after more than 500 Kamisan or Thursday actions in front of the State Palace, representatives of the families of past human rights violations finally met with Widodo at the Palace.
The 20 or so family members of victims of the Trisakti, Semanggi, Talangsari, the 2003 Wamena tragedy in West Papua and Tanjung Priok shootings spoke with Widodo for around an hour.
During the meeting Widodo was given several dossiers. The group's representative, Sumarsih, said that one of the dossiers was related to a demand that Widodo acknowledge past gross human rights violations.
"The second was a document with input on the mechanisms for resolving cases of past gross human rights violations", said Sumarsih. "Then we also handed over a resume on the developments in all of the cases of gross human rights violations."
Following the meeting, Maria Catarina Sumarsih, the mother of Benardinus Realino Norma Irawan (Wawan), a victim of the Semanggi I tragedy, said that no decision at all was reached at the meeting.
"What was conveyed by Pak Johan was that Bapak President needs time to study it. Then Bapak President asked that we chase down Bapak Moeldoko as if [we should] pursue him about our request to Bapak President to acknowledge cases of past gross human rights violations which have already been investigated by Komnas HAM", said Sumarsih at the Presidential Palace complex on Thursday.
Sumarsih said that the meeting earlier did not produce any kind of clarity whatsoever in relation to the legal process that would be followed up as requested by the families. At the meeting Sumarsih also handed over a dossier on cases that still haven't been resolved by the government.
The families demanded that the government publically acknowledge that the Semanggi, Trisakti, the forced disappearance of activists in 1997-98, the May 13-15 riots in Jakarta in 1998, the Talangsari, Tanjung Priok and 1965 anti-Communist purge were gross human rights violations. They also asked that these cases be immediately investigated and tried in court.
During the meeting, she said, Widodo asked for time to study the dossiers she handed over and that he would coordinate with the Attorney General and Komnas HAM.
"We asked Bapak President to attend a Kamisan action and give us some hope and spirit that what we have been requesting and asking for and what was written in the Jokowi-JK [Vice President Jusuf Kalla] mission statement would truly become a reality", she said.
Maria Sanu, the mother of Stevanus Sanu who disappeared during the May 1998 riots in Jakarta, said she was disappointed with today's meeting with Widodo. Based on what was conveyed by Widodo to the families, she said, there was nothing whatsoever that was new.
"Yes well that indeed was about it. (I'm) disappointed. Never mind that mother's [my] child disappeared, was burnt alive. How should I feel? A mother who has carried a child, given birth, his body has never been found, how should I feel?" said Maria fighting back tears.
Maria has waited 20 years for her son to come home. The latest information she has is that Stevanus had gone to the Yogya Plaza on the day that it was burnt down. Today, when she met with Widodo, Maria arrived wearing all black carrying a photograph of Stevanus in both hands the son that disappeared 20 years ago.
Johan Budi admitted that the meeting between Widodo and the families did not indeed involve Wiranto or Prasetyo. Basically, according to Budi, the new [sic] president wanted clarification from the families about their demands and wishes.
"As I've already said, at this meeting the president mostly wanted to listen. The president didn't know all the details yet right. Of course the meeting earlier was quite short, [there was no time] to go into all the details", said Budi at the Presidential Palace complex on Thursday.
Both Wiranto as well as Prasetyo have been given responsibility for resolving outstanding cases of past human rights violations. Wiranto has been entrusted to coordinate the overall effort.
During today's meeting with Widodo and the families at the Palace however, both were absent. Wiranto was seen at the Presidential Palace complex earlier attending the inauguration of new presidential advisory board members. But following the inauguration he hurried out to his official vehicle saying that he had duties elsewhere.
Budi added that the president will summon Prasetyo and Wiranto to discuss how to follow up on today's meeting. So far, he said, the president has not been able to take any kind of decision on the string of past human rights violations that have been left hanging in the air.
Max Walden "I shed a tear. I did not know why," says Ariel Heryanto, the Herb Feith Professor for the Study of Indonesia at Monash University as he reflects upon watching President Suharto's resignation on television on May 21, 1998.
"Perhaps trauma and vague memories of the victims of the regime."
Suharto took power in 1966, ushered in by the killings of up to a million alleged communists in a matter of months. A secret CIA cable from 1968 described the event as "one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century, along with the Soviet purges of the 1930s, the Nazi mass murders during the Second World War, and the Maoist bloodbath of the early 1950s."
For more than three decades afterwards, dissidents would be jailed, tortured and violently suppressed by the iron fist of a military dictatorship. The New Order muzzled the press, tried to eradicate the language and culture of ethnic Chinese Indonesians, and strictly dictated the lives of women.
These things would soon change with Suharto's retirement, ushering in Indonesia's democratic transition known as Reformasi.
"I thought I would probably see Suharto go in my lifetime, but I didn't think it would be so soon," said Ima Abdulrahim, Executive Director of The Habibie Center in Jakarta, one of the country's leading thinktanks on democracy and human rights, founded by Suharto's successor BJ Habibie in 1999.
"Seeing it happen was amazing, of course. I was under the belief we would see the end of Suharto with the death of Suharto by natural causes," Ima, who was a masters student in the UK at the time and received the news on the phone from her mother, told Asian Correspondent.
Disbelief at his willingness to step down was compounded by personal experience her father was imprisoned for 14 months in the late 1970s for student activism.
"I was always against Suharto," said Ahmad Pathoni, a seasoned journalist whose career kicked off when he landed a job with Agence France Presse shortly after the fall of the New Order. He had stopped attending classes to participate in the student protests despite that he "never considered myself an activist". The mood in May 98 was "a mix of optimism and fear", Ahmad said.
Dr Adriana Venny Aryani, a commissioner at the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), was a masters student at the University of Indonesia in Salemba, central Jakarta. This campus was the epicentre of student activism from which demonstrations would march to the parliament or presidential palace.
"During that time, Suara Ibu Peduli (Caring Mothers' Voices) was the centre of Reformasi activism for me," she said, reflecting the broad coalition of the women's movement along with pluralist and Islamic student groups, who eventually toppled Suharto.
The end of the New Order, while greeted with jubilation by democrats worldwide, would spark waves of communal violence across Indonesia. Freed from the fear of a military dictatorship, communities' longstanding ethnic or religious disputes and local conflicts over resources turned deadly.
"It was crazy," reflects career journalist and Human Rights Watch's Indonesia Researcher Andreas Harsono. Data collated for his forthcoming book "Islam, Race and Power: Democratisation and Violence in post-Suharto Indonesia" shows no less than 90,000 people were killed in violence prior, during and after the fall of the New Order across the archipelago from Aceh to Papua.
"Indonesia has sadly failed to come to terms with nearly all its dark pasts: in 1945, 1948, 1963, 1965, 1980, and 1998," Heryanto told Asian Correspondent. "Why? There has been neither the interest, nor the pressure, nor capacity to do so. Most, if not all, the mass-violence incidents are the regular and regulated. They are state-sponsored."
In what is now referred to as the Tragedy of May 98, women were targeted among riots aimed at Chinese businesses and neighbourhoods immediately prior to Suharto's resignation. Some 168 women were raped in Jakarta alone according to initial estimates, with a further 300 reported across Indonesia.
Dr Venny of Komnas Perempuan notes that not a single person has been prosecuted for these crimes, nor widespread sexual violence amid killings in places like Aceh, Poso, Ambon and Papua during the years following. "The perpetrators have never gone to court because [officials] said: 'this is a conflict, this is an anomaly'", she said.
When elected in 2014, rights groups expected Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to address the massacres of 1965-66 and other major mass killings. Two years later he vaguely ordered the Attorney General's office to address past human rights abuses. But as of today, progress on addressing the massacres remains virtually non-existent. Victims and their families remain stigmatised and harassed.
Asked about the major achievements of human rights during Reformasi, Harsono paused before replying: "not much".
Today, US democracy watchdog Freedom House considers Indonesia to be only "partly free", particularly due to government restrictions on its press and internet.
Under Suharto, freedom of speech and the press were tightly suppressed. Indonesia's most celebrated author Pramoedya Ananta Toer was jailed for 14 years under the regime for allegedly promoting communism in his writings, along with hundreds of other activists and intellectuals. Press freedom under Suharto hit a new low in 1994 when the New Order banned three weekly magazines: Tempo, Detik and Editor.
Indonesia's post-Suharto presidents quickly cast off many of the media's shackles, including importantly getting rid of an restrictively expensive media licencing system. Harsono told Asian Correspondent that in 1990 a licence for Monitor Weekly cost 1 million Rupiah, the equivalent of roughly 10 billion Rupiah (US$710,000) in today's currency.
According to Freedom House, "Indonesia's media landscape is vibrant and diverse, though outlets' editorial positions frequently correspond with their owners' interests". In 1998 there were 258 licenced newspapers in Indonesia. This is a number that has since exploded to 43,000 "so-called news organisations", said Harsono the most of any country worldwide.
Nevertheless, Indonesia remains at 124 on Reporter Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index. The international media watchdog has argued that Jokowi has not kept his campaign promises, his presidency is continuing "to be marked by serious media freedom violations, including drastically restricting media access to the Papua and West Papua provinces (the Indonesian half of the island of New Guinea), where violence against local journalists continues to grow."
Moreover, according to RSF many journalists report self-censorship to avoid prosecution under Indonesia's blasphemy and electronic information transaction laws. While Indonesia is ranked lower than neighbouring East Timor, it still fares better than all other Asean member states.
"We want freedom of speech, including those who are wrong, those who are misleading, including those who promote hate speech," said Harsono. "But not those who promote violence. We cannot tolerate that. In that sense I think there has been progress."
Dr Venny told Asian Correspondent that the National Commission on Violence Against Women thinks of itself as "the first daughter of Reformasi". It was established by presidential decree in October 1998, after President Habibie gave a public apology for sexual violence against women during the May riots. Indonesia's formidable Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK) was also established under Habibie.
Harsono notes that the establishment of a children's rights commission, however, was an abject failure. While child marriage has declined significantly in Indonesia over the past three decades, UNICEF reports that more than one in six girls are married before the age of 18.
Moreover, the establishment of institutions has not necessarily translated into better rights protection for Indonesian women. Indonesia is yet to introduce national legislation against sexual harassment and Venny says the article on rape in the criminal code is "very weak".
The activist group Menghitung Pembunuhan Perempuan (Counting Dead Women: Indonesia) recorded 168 murders of women during 2017 in Indonesia, all but four of which were committed by men. Some 50 percent of these women were killed by their intimate partner.
A government survey in 2017 found that one in three Indonesian women reported having been the victim of physical, emotional or sexual violence at the hands of their partner or somebody else in their life.
Indonesia is also far off its target of reaching its aim of 30 percent women's representation in national parliament, a recent report from the Jakarta-based Women Research Institute (WRI) arguing that without significant stronger affirmative action it could only achieve 17 percent.
Indonesians from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community have been increasingly targeted by discrimination and violence in recent years. This is despite the fact that "we have some cultural traditions that respect homosexual life," such as in Central Java and Sulawesi, Venny told Asian Correspondent. She cites rising Islamic conservatism and political opportunism as the primary factors.
"There are a lot of outcomes and hope," according to Venny, who pointed to the commission's successes in promoting gender mainstreaming in policy and establishing partnerships with law enforcement to promote women's rights. Nevertheless, she adds: "what we struggled for from 1998 is still going."
Under Suharto's regime, ethnic Chinese Indonesians were targeted for cultural assimilation. Chinese language schools were shuttered, newspapers banned, and cultural practices forced into secrecy.
The primary target of mass violence in 1998 which spurred the downfall of Suharto, Chinese Indonesians have benefitted greatly in the Reformasi era argued Charlotte Setijadi, a historian and Visiting Fellow in the Indonesia Studies Programme at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore.
"Chinese people symbolise New Order repression in a way that wasn't experienced by other ethnic groups," she told Asian Correspondent. "For a lot of ethnic Chinese like myself, we never really knew what it was to be Chinese."
Today, Confucianism is one of Indonesia's official state religions, Lunar new year is a public holiday, and prominent Chinese Indonesians can be found in virtually all walks of Indonesian life. The case of Jakarta's former governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, targeted by hardline Muslim groups for his Christian faith with a strong undercurrent of residual anti-Chinese racism, is held up by some as evidence of limited change.
But on the whole, argues Setijudi, race relations have improved immensely. "People's political consciousness are far more intertwined than being concerned with their own ethnic concerns," said Setijudi, noting that unlike in neighbouring Malaysia, Indonesians do not tend to vote along ethnic lines. The Habibie Center's Ima agreed, stating that race relations are far healthier in contemporary Indonesia than under the New Order and compared to many other comparable countries, including the United States. "I feel we're in a better place."
Nevertheless, according to Setijudi said Chinese Indonesians "became a token case study of post-Suharto reforms", obscuring rights advances for other marginalised groups like women and ethnic and religious minorities. "Reforms in terms of minority groups have been glossed over".
Harsono believes that the coming decades will be dominated by debates over the relationship between Islam and the state, as Islamist hardliners grow ever-more vocal in their demands. For example, Indonesian parliament is currently considering revisions to the criminal code which would outlaw zina the Islamic conception of adultery which would make pre-marital sex and homosexuality jailable offences.
"Political Islamists want to impose what they consider Islamic Shariah into the society. I do not have a position on Shariah per se, but it is mostly used to discriminate against minorities women, LGBT people," he said.
In terms of religious rights, however, there are some signs of improvement. Local animist religions have finally been recognised by the state. "You do see little gestures like that," said Setijadi. "But on the whole we need to be wary of the rights of minority groups regressing."
For Ima of the Habibie Institute, however, contestations over religion, identity politics and intolerance are part and parcel of an open political system. "You will always have these hiccups," she said. "Democracy isn't always pretty."
"The young generation are very smart now, so we are relying our hopes on them to make the human rights struggle realised in Indonesia," added Venny. "Of course, there's always ups and downs," reflected Ahmad. "But things can only get better."
Peggy McInerny In the course of six months, from October 1965 through mid-1966, roughly half a million members of the Communist Party of Indonesia (Partai Komunis Indonesia, or PKI) were killed and another one million were detained without charge, said Geoffrey Robinson at UCLA on April 25, 2018.
To date, no one has been held accountable for the mass violence. The Indonesian army's account of the events, notable for its extreme demonization of Indonesian communists, has been propagated in the country for over 50 years and is now widely accepted. That history, said Robinson, has been supported by the enduring silence of the two major international powers whose implicit and explicit support made the 1965-66 violence possible: the United States and the United Kingdom.
A professor of history at UCLA and a human rights expert who has worked for Amnesty International and the United Nations, Robinson spoke about his recently published book, "The Killing Season: A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-66" (Princeton, 2018) at an event cosponsored by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) and the UCLA department of history.
The culmination of 30 years of work, the book is based on declassified documents from the archives of seven or eight foreign countries, as well as fieldwork and interviews conducted in Indonesia by Robinson, as well as by two of his dissertation advisors, Ben Anderson and George Kahin. (The latter conducted interviews in the country immediately following the 1965 coup, but never published the materials).
A translated edition of the book will be released by an independent publisher in Indonesia in July.
"The targets of [the 1965-66] violence were ordinary people: farmers, day laborers, teachers, civil servants," said Robinson. "And they were killed in some pretty gruesome ways: they were decapitated, some were castrated and their dismembered bodies were left in public places.
"This was, I stress, not a civil war," remarked the author. "Those killed and detained were not armed and they had not committed a crime. All of them belonged to what were at the time lawful political and social organizations.
"The violence stemmed from official allegations, never proven, that the PKI leadership had killed six top army generals in a failed coup attempt on October 1, 1965," he explained. "Based on that unproven allegation, the army began a campaign to destroy the party and to overthrow the popular left-nationalist President Sukarno."
Although the PKI was not in power, it supported Sukarno's government and the president was in turn sympathetic to the party, noted Robinson. At the time, he said, the PKI was the largest non-governing communist party in the world, with 3.5 million members and perhaps 20 million supporters in affiliated organizations. ? Historical arguments
Robinson attributed the mass violence of 1965-66 to three major dynamics: certain historical conditions and antecedents related to Indonesian political life, the army's leadership and the influence of powerful external states. He concentrated his remarks on the latter two dynamics, which he considered most significant.
"What I am arguing," he said, "is that the resort to mass killing and mass detention was not, as the army has long insisted, the inevitable result of popular anger against the PKI, nor a spontaneous expression of deep-seated religious or cultural conflict," said the historian. "It was, rather, encouraged, facilitated and organized by the Indonesian army leadership itself."
He noted that the Indonesian army:
Robinson attributed the remarkable uniformity of the violence used in the mass killings throughout the country disappearances, sexual violence, decapitation and corpse mutilation and display (what he called the army's "repertoire of violence") to the army's central role in mobilizing the militias that carried out the killings.
Powerful external actors were complicit in both the Indonesian genocide and its cover-up, he said. "There is now abundant documentary evidence that, for at least a decade before 1965, the United States and other western powers, worked assiduously to undermine in fact, to overthrow [President] Sukarno and to destroy the PKI," he said.
Specifically, noted Robinson, "[i]n the final year before the alleged coup of 1965, the United States, the United Kingdom and their commonwealth allies, including... Canada, Australia and New Zealand... undertook a joint covert operation which was designed, in their words, 'to create the conditions for a military takeover.'"
"What did that mean?" asked Robinson. "Among other things, [it meant] provoking a premature or bogus left-wing coup that would provide an ideal pretext for a military intervention in the name of saving the country. And that indeed, is exactly what happened," he concluded.
British Foreign Office note on a December 1964 report about Indonesia reads: "A premature PKI coup may be the most helpful solution for the West provided the coup failed." Source: UK National Archive.
"Available evidence shows in the months and weeks following the supposed coup, the U.S. and its allies actively encouraged and facilitated the mounting violence," he added.
They did this in a number of ways: through a covert campaign of disinformation and propaganda designed explicitly to "blacken the name" of the PKI; through the provision of covert economic, logistical and military assistance to the army leadership; and through a policy of deliberate silence in the face of what they knew to be widespread army-instigated violence against civilians. That support continued, and in fact increased, said the speaker, even as it became clear that many thousands of civilians were being killed.
Since the massacres of 1965-66, Robinson said, "[t]he U.S. government in particular has gone to extraordinary lengths to hide the documentary record of its own and the Indonesian army's complicity. Likewise, the U.S. and its allies have not supported any process aimed at elucidating the truth or seeking justice for the victims of 1965."
The Cold War and the broader international political context including U.S. policy makers' fear that communists could take power in both Indonesia and Vietnam (where U.S. ground troops were introduced in 1965) played a fundamental role in the Indonesian violence, said the historian. "That context dominated the domestic political scene in Indonesia, helping to create the highly polarized left-right division that was one precondition for mass violence," he explained.
"The Cold War was also essential in shaping Indonesia's pre-1965 international relations, driving it ever closer to Mao's China and alienating it from the U.S. and other westerns powers," explained Robinson. "It was Sukarno's drift to the left, after all, that led the U.S. and its allies to support the army leadership's campaign against him and the PKI, regardless of the cost in human life."
Finally, the author contended that the weakness of international human rights norms, institutions and networks in the mid-1960s was an additional factor that made the violence possible.
"Mass violence is not in any sense the natural or inevitable consequence of ancient cultural proclivities, deep-seated religious difference or underlying socioeconomic conditions," said Robinson. "Rather, I argue it is the product of specific acts and omissions of people in political and social power."
In a chilling echo of the current genocidal campaign against the Rohingya people of Myanmar, he noted, "The Indonesian example also confirms a longstanding judgment that genocide and mass killings are provoked and facilitated by language that dehumanizes the target groups, portraying them, say, as atheists, traitors, animals, barbarians, whores or terrorists."
Robinson emphasized that discourses of treachery that result in violence can emerge not only in times of actual war, but also, "in times of intense, yet largely nonviolent, conflicts for political ideas, such as the Cold War." And he pointed out, "International actors and contexts can either contribute to or constrain largely domestic processes in the direction of genocide and mass violence."
Pondering the lack of accountability and long silence that has surrounded the 1965-66 killings, Robinson said succinctly, "Power matters... As long as those responsible for crimes remain in power, the processes of truth seeking, justice, reconciliation, compensation and memorialization are not likely to happen.
"Where powerful external states are complicit in crimes against humanity and in their continued cover-up, as in Indonesia," he added, "the prospects for accountability become ever more remote," he said.
Robinson concluded his remarks with cautious optimism and a call to action. "Indonesia's experience makes clear that the power of states to control historical narrative, memory and justice is never absolute," he remarked. "Even in the darkest year of Suharto's 'New Order,'" he continued, "there were still those willing to challenge official narratives and to work for justice in some form."
He urged scholars and citizens alike to insist that their governments open their archives on the period in question and to demand credible judicial proceedings against those deemed responsible for crimes. Robinson specifically encouraged scholars "to do whatever we can with or without our governments through our scholarship, through our teaching, our creative work, our direct political action, to disrupt the terrible silence that has allowed these and other such crimes to go unnoted and unpunished for more than half a century."
Soeharto left office in 1998 with a reputation as one of the most corrupt leaders in the world. He and his family are estimated by some to have accumulated between US$15 billion and US$35 billion during his 32 years in power.
Twenty years after Soeharto stepped down as president and 10 years after his death, the Soeharto family has still only repaid a small portion of assets owed to the state and even that was only after state prosecutors seized the bank accounts of the family's now defunct Supersemar Foundation. Prosecutors claimed that the foundation was not used for charity, as intended, but as a political slush fund for Soeharto.
From the 1980s until he stepped down, Soeharto's children were granted monopolies to enable them to make their fortunes. Siti Hardijanti Rukmana (Tutut) won a contract to build toll highways, Hutomo Mandala Putra (Tommy) became one of Indonesia's top exporters for the national clove industry, Bambang Trihatmodjo was given a fleet of oil tankers, and Sigit Harjojudanto benefited from the privatisation of Jakarta's water. Most of the children have been involved in the formation of other major conglomerates that together cover a wide variety of industries.
Each of Soeharto's six children, now aged between 53 and 65 years, continue to live prosperous lives, and have in fact acquired further wealth despite the fall of their father and, in Tommy's case, a prison sentence. In fact, Tommy, Bambang and Tutut were each named in Globe Asia's list of the 150 richest Asians in 2016.
They may be rich, but the vibrant press of the democratic era has not had much to say about the Soeharto family in recent years. In fact, the public record is rather light on specific details of the extent of the Soeharto children's business interests. What follows is a brief summary of what is known.
Tutut, Soeharto's oldest child, was groomed by her father as a politician, frequently accompanying Soeharto as de facto first lady after the death of his wife. He even appointed Tutut as Social Minister in his Development Cabinet VII, his last, ill-fated cabinet.
She remained active in Golkar for some time but stood as a presidential candidate for the Concern for the Nation Functional Party (PKPB), in 2004. This was a party formed as an offshoot of Golkar, and it received Soeharto's blessing. However, it never won seats at a general election and eventually fizzled out. Tutut is now rumoured to be considering involvement in Tommy's new party, the Working Party (Partai Berkarya).
Tutut is a principle shareholder (with shares valued at $1 million) in the Citra Lamtoro Gung Persada group, a company with interests in construction, trade, agriculture and handicrafts. She has also been involved in the media business, leading to her long running dispute with Hary Tanoesoedibjo over ownership of Televisi Pendidikan Indonesia (TPI), which became MNCTV. Although the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Tutut she has struggled to enforce the decision and the ownership remains contested.
Of Soeharto's six children, Tutut and Sigit are the only ones who remain married to their original spouses.
Sigit, Soeharto's second child, is generally considered one of the more reclusive of the six children. With Tommy, he is a major shareholder ($22 million) in the Humpuss Group, which has about 60 subsidiaries and interests in oil and gas, shipping, property, and petrochemical and agricultural products. In his younger years, Sigit was known to be a gambler, like his brother Tommy, and at one point was reportedly prevented from travelling abroad to stop him from gambling. He founded the Arseto Football Club in 1983, which was eventually dissolved in 1998 following riots in Solo, where it was based.
Sigit has been back in the media over the sale of the grounds of the former Kadipolo Hospital once used as Arseto's headquarters to property developer Sekar Wijaya. The developer claims Sigit sold the property knowing that several buildings on the site were heritage-listed, meaning that the purchaser's development plans could not go ahead. Sekar Wijaya has filed a civil complaint demanding the return of its down payment. Sigit, his daughter Retnosari Widowati Harjojudanto (Eno Sigit), and grandson Haryo Putra Nugroho Wibowo have also been reported to the Solo Police over the case.
Bambang, Soeharto's third child, and two former school friends founded the massive Bimantara Citra group in 1981. At one point it had dozens of subsidiaries, in a wide variety of sectors, including trade, insurance, real estate, television and communications, hotels, transport, agriculture, fisheries, the automotive industry, food industry, chemical industry and tourism.
Bambang famously also developed the luxury Plaza Indonesia mall and founded Indonesia's first private television station, RCTI. He reportedly sold part of his stake in Bimantara Citra to Hary Tanoesoedibjo's MNC at a markedly discounted price and eventually left the firm in 2012. He is no longer a publicly listed shareholder and reportedly plays no direct management role in the television business.
Bambang is a gun fanatic, and heads the Indonesian Sports Shooting and Hunting Association (Perbakin). The organisation was in the media in 2017 for importing hundreds of guns and millions of bullets. Rumours had circulated suggesting that the weapons were imported illegally.
Bambang's first marriage was to the daughter of a diplomat, Halimah Agustia Kamil, who he controversially divorced in 2007 to marry a well-known singer, Mayangsari, who had given birth to their child the previous year.
Titiek, Soeharto's fourth child, has been the most politically successful of all his children. She remained faithful to Golkar, her father's political vehicle, and in the 2014 election was elected to the House of Representatives (DPR) for the period 2014-2019, representing Yogyakarta District. She has participated in Commission IV on farming, fishing, agriculture and food. As part of this Commission, she called for Indonesia to become self-sufficient in meat production. In March 2018, it was announced that Titiek would become the deputy head of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), a "consolation prize" for not being selected as head of Golkar.
Titiek was once married to former general Prabowo Subianto, who stood as Gerindra candidate against President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in 2014. Although Titiek and Prabowo have been divorced since about 1998 and she is a Golkar supporter, she has nevertheless accompanied him on a number of his political campaigns. Conservative Muslim groups have called for them to remarry, so that if Prabowo becomes president, he will have a first lady. Neither Titiek nor Prabowo have so far shown much inclination to do so.
Titiek has a multi-million dollar private art collection and, partnered with her former brother-in-law, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, in a number of businesses, including energy (oil and electricity) and the upscale Plaza Senayan mall. Titiek was on the board of Surya Citra Media (which owns the television stations SCTV and Indosiar) from 2005 to 2015.
Recently Titiek has been concerned with restoring her father's legacy, supporting a range of activities such as cultural performances and a mass circumcision ceremony, all funded through the Soeharto family's Damandiri Foundation to commemorate "Soeharto Month" in March.
Tommy, Soeharto's fifth child, is chair of the Working Party he launched in July 2016.
The Working Party has been cleared by the General Elections Commission (KPU) to participate in the 2019 General Elections. Like Golkar, the Working Party uses a banyan tree symbol against a yellow background as its logo. The party has an eclectic mix of policies. Its education policies, in particular, are very unusual it advocates internet learning, with children staying at home and learning through the internet. It is also not in favour of intensive spending on infrastructure, advocating for "village funds" to be spent on people's welfare programs. It wants to abolish direct elections of provincial governors, advocating that the president should select them from a list submitted by provincial legislatures. Its policies therefore range from giving more power to the lower echelons of society to being more authoritarian.
Tommy, however, will be unable to stand as a presidential candidate, as Law No 7 of 2017 on Elections states that presidential candidates must not have been involved in corruption and must never have been sentenced to jail for more than five years. Tommy fails these requirements on both counts. In September 2000, he was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 18 months in prison by Supreme Court Justice Syafiuddin Kartasasmita, who was then assassinated. Tommy went into hiding and was subsequently found guilty of paying two men to kill the judge. As a result, his sentence was extended in 2002 to 15 years for murder, fleeing justice and possession of weapons and explosives. However, Tommy was released on parole in 2006, after serving only four years.
Tommy was also implicated, though not convicted, in a plot to plant bombs in the Attorney General's Office, the Trade and Industry Ministry and the Directorate General of Taxation in 2001. Tommy is not the only convicted murderer in his party. Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, who served eight years of a 14-year prison term for the 2004 murder of human rights activist Munir, has also joined the party.
Tommy has also had numerous business ventures a number of which have ended up in court. Tommy, together with Sigit, is the founder and major shareholder in the Humpuss Group. He reportedly holds 60 per cent of shares in the firm, at a value of $33 million.
Tommy was named in the Paradise Papers as director and board chairman of a Bermuda-registered company that closed in 2000.
Mamiek, Soeharto's youngest child, keeps a relatively low profile.
She has set up a popular 3,000 hectare agricultural estate and recreation park, Mekar Sari, in West Java. She has also been listed as the main shareholder of the Manggala Kridha Yudha group, and owns agricultural, transport, warehouse and tourism businesses. Manggala Kridha Yudha was granted a contract to develop one of the islands in the controversial Jakarta Bay reclamation project.
Mamiek's wealth is estimated at about $47 million and, like Tommy, she was named in the Paradise Papers in connection with companies registered in Bermuda in the 1990s.
Despite their political aspirations, it seems unlikely that Soeharto's children will ever climb to the heights of that other famous presidential offspring, Megawati Soekarnoputri. Of them all, only Titiek is likely to continue to enjoy a successful political career.
However, their indisputable wealth means the Soeharto children not only enjoy an extremely comfortable lifestyle but are certainly capable of wielding power behind the scenes that might well influence the course of politics in the future.
Jakarta Jakarta Police have arrested a 16-year-old boy who threatened to shoot President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in a video that has gone viral.
While holding up a picture of Jokowi, the shirtless teenager, identified only as S, ranted about Jokowi and said he would not only shoot but also shackle Jokowi and burn down the President's house in a 19-second video. The teenager then challenged the President to find him in 24 hours.
Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said S was arrested at his house in Kembangan, West Jakarta, on Wednesday. "The teen is accompanied by his parents because of his age," Argo added as quoted by wartakota.tribunnews.com on Wednesday. (cal/ahw)
Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta The Alliance of Independence Journalists (AJI) and the Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers) have condemned the protest staged by supporters of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) against the Radar Bogor newspaper office, in Bogor, West Java, for a report it carried on the party's chairwoman.
Dozens of PDI-P supporters staged a rally in front of the newspaper office protesting against the report's claims that party chief Megawati Soekarnoputri received an excessive allowance from the government.
They reportedly stormed into the office lobby, allegedly intimidated employees and damaged property.
"We condemn the violence carried out by PDI-P members and sympathizers in the office's editorial room. Any objection to a journalistic item should be in accordance with the 1999 Press Law," chairman of the AJI's Jakarta chapter Asnil Bambani said in a statement on Thursday.
The newspaper published a headline story titled "Ongkang-ongkang Kaki Dapat Rp 112 Juta" in its Wednesday edition. The story, the heading of which means earning money for doing nothing, reported that the government paid the former president a monthly allowance of Rp 112 million (US$8,067) for her new role in a body promoting the state ideology of Pancasila.
The protestors said Megawati had never accepted the allowance. Party executives have denied any links to Wednesday's protest.
LBH Pers executive director Nawawi Bahrudin said the police should immediately open an investigation into the alleged violence and demanded that the party severely punish any of its members found to be involved in the incident. (wit)
Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta Former Chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly Amien Rais said the fate of President Joko Widodo or Jokowi as the incumbent in the 2019 Presidential Election could be similar with Basuki Tjahaja Purnama alias Ahok in the Jakarta elections.
"No one can determine besides the God's will," said Amien Rais in Cibubur, Tuesday, May 29.
Amien said although Jokowi has strong electability, it does not guarantee that he is able to continue the leadership for the next period.
Amien, who is also the Chairman of the Advisory Council of Brotherhood Alumni 212, exemplifies the failure of Ahok as the incumbent in the Jakarta governor elections. "Ahok was strong as the incumbent, but he was defeated by Anies-Sandi," he said.
But Amien said that all candidates are welcome to compete in 2019, Jokowi, or Prabowo or other candidates to compete fairly.
According to Amien, the powers will not last forever, now there is a call for two periods, on the contrary, there is also a movement to replace the president. "Let God decides, for God will give power to whom He will, and remove from whom He will," he said.
Jakarta Despite the ongoing controversy over the General Elections Commission's (KPU) plan to prohibit former corruption convicts from running in legislative elections, the commission has been firm on issuing the regulation.
"We would rather face a lawsuit and lose in court than not issue the regulation at all," said KPU commissioner Wahyu Setiawan as quoted by kompas.com on Saturday.
Several objections have come from the government, the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) and the House of Representatives. The institutions accused the KPU of violating Law No. 7/2017 on general elections, Wahyu said.
The law states that former graft convicts who have served their sentence for more than five years can run in legislative elections as long as they publicly declare their status.
"They said the issue is not ours to handle but the court's. But we really feel the need to regulate this because we see corruption as an extraordinary crime," he added.
Wahyu mentioned Constitutional Court ruling No. 92/PUU-XIV/2016, which grants the KPU the authority to issue such a regulation since the KPU is an independent institution.
In a meeting that took place on Tuesday in the House of Representatives, lawmakers of House Commission II, Bawaslu and the Home Affairs Ministry rejected the KPU's plan and insisted on sticking with the 2017 General Elections Law. (vla)
Adinda Putri, Jakarta Both the current president and his main rival four years ago send signals that they will face each other again in the 2019 presidential election. But who are their prospective running mates?
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is already supported by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), the Golkar Party, the United Development Party (PPP), the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), the National Democratic Party (Nasdem) and two new players on the political scene: the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) and the United Indonesia Party (Perindo).
His competitor, retired general and chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), Prabowo Subianto, seems to be still in talks to obtain an endorsement from the undecided the National Mandate Party (PAN), the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the Democratic Party (PD).
In order to compete, a presidential candidate has to be supported by a political party, or a coalition of parties, that won 25 percent of the most recent legislative vote or has 20 percent of seats in the House of Representatives.
Recent electability polls by Charta Politika, Litbang Kompas, Indikator and Poltracking give Jokowi more than 50 percent, while Prabowo's score is under 30 percent.
There is, however, no mathematical certainty in politics. In the previous election, Jokowi won with Prabowo by only 4 percent. The potential vice presidents will play a big role in Indonesian voters' decision on whether Jokowi would remain in the office or Prabowo would replace him.
"The vice president's position becomes important in the 2019 election, not only to increase [each] presidential candidate's electability, but also in toning down the use of identity politics," J. Kristiadi, a senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday (23/05).
While vice presidential candidates may not be announced soon, there are speculations surrounding several names.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, 53, has become one of the most popular ministers in Jokowi's cabinet, partly due to her controversial seize-and-sink policy to combat illegal fishing, in which some 310 foreign vessels have been sunk since 2015.
For her efforts to protect Indonesian waters, the World Wildlife Fund recognized Susi with its Leaders for a Living Planet award in the oceans category in 2016.
According to PDI-P politician Arteria Dahlan, the party considers Susi, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD as Jokowi's potential running mates.
An Alvara Research Center ranking from February, puts Susi as eighth on its list of the most suitable vice presidential candidates to run with Jokowi. "[Yes,] if such is the president's request," Susi replies, when asked whether she would run with Jokowi in next year's election.
Susi started her career as an entrepreneur at the age of 18, when she founded ASI Pudjiastuti Marine Product, which specializes in seafood produce. Later, she established ASI Pudjiastuti Aviation, the owner of Susi Air, which operates light commercial and charter flights.
She is the first Indonesian minister who has not completed high school education. She was expelled from school for joining Golongan Putih, a movement opposed to the then ruling Golongan Karya (Golkar).
This will become an obstacle in her nomination, as the 2017 General Elections Law requires presidential and vice presidential candidates to have completed secondary education.
A volunteer group for Jokowi and Susi, JOSS, says it is ready to file a judicial review with the Constitutional Court to change the regulation.
"The pair may be promising with its high electability, but unfortunately she has no party to back her," said Pangi Chaniago of Voxpol Center.
"Jokowi will try to find a running mate who will increase his electability, as he is still not safe enough to choose someone without a strong Muslim base or political and military support," said CSIS researcher Arya Fernandes.
Susi is not affiliated with any political party.
Sri Mulyani, 56, with her considerable success as finance minister, has been increasingly often mentioned as a suitable candidate for vice president. In February, the World Government Summit recognized her as the best minister.
In 2014, she was the 38th most powerful woman in the world, according to Forbes. An IndoBarometer poll from January, listed Sri Mulyani as the sixth choice among 15 vice presidential candidates.
However, the minister herself does not seem to show much enthusiasm about the possibility of participating in the election. "Just let me serve as finance minister," she told reporters in March.
Sri Mulyani entered Jokowi's cabinet in 2016. Earlier, she was also serving as finance minister under former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) in 2005-10. During her tenure, in 2007, the Indonesian economy grew 6.6 percent the highest rate since the country was hit by the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Sri Mulyani resigned from the office after she was appointed as managing director at the World Bank. It was speculated that political pressure played role in her resignation, after her approval of the bailout of Bank Century in 2008. The bailout generated immense controversy in Indonesia, with critics alleging a litany of irregularities in the decision that some say was taken to save politically connected depositors. It also resulted in Rp 6.7 trillion ($472 million) state losses.
During her current tenure, Sri Mulyani has been perceived as a tough reformist with her tax amnesty program, encouraging taxpayers to come clean about previously unreported assets, which has increased tax revenue, tax compliance and returned more offshore assets to the Indonesia.
"If Jokowi wants to boost the economy, Sri Mulyani will be a great choice. But he must also be realistic, as he needs to raise his electability rate to a safe level first," said Adi Prayitno, lecturer at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta.
Sri Mulyani is not affiliated with any political party.
Former Indonesian Military chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, 58, has been mentioned as a prospective vice presidential candidate for either Jokowi or Prabowo. On March 31, the general was retired from service and on the next day he mentioned the possibility of running in the election.
"Starting today, I have the same rights and obligations as a child of the nation, member of society, and other citizens of the Republic of Indonesia, including the right to vote and be elected in the upcoming elections," Gatot said in a press release on April 2.
According to IndoBarometer survey polls from April, Gatot was the most suitable running mate for both Jokowi and Prabowo.
"Gatot Nurmantyo would help Jokowi gain support among voters who choose Prabowo Subianto... Jokowi lacks strong footing among Muslim voters," Indikator executive director Burhanuddin Muhtadi said during the DBS Asian Insights Conference last year.
Gatot's name started to enter survey polls after he joined the November 2016 protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama. In an interview for Tempo in April, he admitted that Prabowo has approached him several times, but there was no agreement as of yet.
He is not officially affiliated with any political party.
Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, 40, the first child of SBY, resigned from his military career in 2016 to participate in Jakarta's gubernatorial election. He was out of the competition after the first round.
The defeat, however, has not discouraged him from participating in next year's presidential election, as his father's Democratic Party is still looking for a possible coalition with other parties, including PDI-P and Gerindra.
According to a poll by the Indonesia Survey Institute (LSI) from January, Agus was the most popular candidate for vice president, beating out Gatot and Gen. Moeldoko former military chief who is now Jokowi's chief of staff.
In early March, it seemed that PDI-P would be joining forces with the Democratic Party, following several meetings between Agus and Jokowi, but eventually there was no deal, as SBY was displeased by accusations that his administration was responsible for the high-profile electronic identity cards (e-KTP) corruption scandal.
On Sunday (20/05), Agus met with Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno, who is supported by Gerindra. SBY is expected to meet Prabowo after Idul Fitri, at the end of Ramadan.
"Agus's electability is rising, because he often travels across Indonesia to talk with the people. He is a suitable choice for the silent majority that wants someone new on the national political stage," said Herzaky Putra of Manilka Research and Consulting Institution.
According to Charta Politika polls released on Monday, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, 49, ranked first as the most suitable vice presidential candidate for Prabowo. January's IndoBarometer poll also indicated him as the best option for Jokowi.
"I'm taking care of Jakarta.... I will focus on taking care of Jakarta for the time being," Anies said, responding to the possibility of participating in next year's election.
Anies, who was Jokowi's spokesman during the 2014 presidential campaign, became education minister, but was removed by the president two years later.
He then drifted to the main opposition party, Gerindra, to run in the Jakarta election, which was marred by identity politics and deep religious and ethnic divisions.
Before he entered politics, Anies, a grandson of Indonesian freedom fighter and diplomat Abdurrahman Baswedan, was known as a scholar. He obtained degrees from Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, and Northern Illinois University. He served as rector of Paramadina University in 2007-15.
Anies became popular for his educational program Indonesia Mengajar (Indonesia Teaches), introduced in 2009, which assigned university graduates to teach for one year in Indonesia's rural regions.
"Anies will help boost Prabowo's electability. However, whether Anies would become his running mate will depend on PKS, as it wants someone from its own ranks to accompany Prabowo," said Syamsuddin Haris of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).
Though active in politics, Anies is not officially affiliated with any political party.
Among all possible candidates, only Muhaimin Iskandar (Cak Imin), 52, has openly declared his willingness to run with Jokowi in the 2019 presidential election.
"We will keep working on the electability and public acceptance for Jokowi-Muhaimin Iskandar," said Muhaimin, who is a nephew of late Nahdlatula Ulama (NU) leader and former President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur).
Muhaimin has been the chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB) since 2005. Founded in 1998, the party is particularly popular on Java, where it appeals to members of Nahdlatul Ulama.
The nationalist Muslim party received 9.04 percent of the vote in 2014 and has 47 seats in the House of Representatives.
Muhaimin, a Universitas Gadjah Mada and Universitas Indonesia graduate, served as manpower and transmigration minister in SBY's cabinet, in 2009-2014. He is now a deputy speaker at the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR).
According to LSI director Kuskridho Ambardi, a running mate affiliated with Muslim organizations would significantly increase Jokowi's electability.
"Moderate Islamic leaders are considered to be the base for preventing the further division of Indonesia," Kuskridho said.
Muhaimin, however, does not deny the possibility of joining another presidential candidate.
"For now, my choice is to become Jokowi's vice president, because he is the only definite presidential candidate. But the future depends on political dynamics," he said.
Indonesia's General Election Commission (KPU) wants to implement a rule, starting with the regional elections taking place in 2019, barring individuals who have been convicted of corruption from running for office.
You'd think this very reasonable regulation (one which some people less familiar with Indonesian politics might be surprised to learn isn't already a thing) would be relatively easy for them to implement.
But, as anybody with any familiarity with Indonesians politics could guess, that is not the case.
At a hearing today with Commission II of the House of Representatives (DPR), KPU officials met with representatives of various DPR party factions, as well as President Joko Widodo's Home Affairs Ministry (Kemendagri) and the Election Supervisory Board (Bawaslu), to discuss their plan to ban corruption convicts.
Every one of them, except for the KPU, opposed the ban.
"Commission II of the House of Representatives, Bawaslu and Kemendagri agree regarding the rule on prohibiting former corruption convicts to restore the rules set forth in Article 240 Paragraph 1 Letter G of Law No. 7 of 2017 on General Elections," said Nihayatul Mafiroh, deputy chairman of Commission II, at the conclusion of the meeting as quoted by Kompas.
Every single member of the commission said they disagreed with the KPU on the issue. Golkar faction member Rambe Kamarul Zaman argued that the electoral management body did not have a strong legal basis for implementing the rule as the current law concerning the matter (the aforementioned Article 240 Paragraph 1 Letter G of Law No. 7 of 2017 on General Elections) did not prohibit anybody who has served 5 or more years in prison as long as they disclosed their convict status to the public.
Hanura Party member Rufinus Hutauruk argued that corruption convicts who had already served their sentence could not be punished a second time by prohibiting them from registering them as a candidate.
Commission II chairperson Zainudin Amali offered a softer option way for the KPU to help keep the elections clean sending a circular out to political parties asking them not to nominate corruption convicts.
The KPU representatives did not seem enthusiastic about that suggestion, nor receptive to any of the other objections from DPR members. KPU Chairman Arief Budiman argued that existing electoral regulations already ban potential presidential and vice-presidential candidates from running if they were found to have ever betrayed the country, committed corruption or been found guilty of any other serious criminal offenses, providing a clear and reasonable basis for applying the same standard to legislators.
Despite the unanimous opposition of DPR members, KPU Commissioner Wahyu Setiawan said they were not giving up on the corruption convict ban yet. The results of the Commission II meeting are not binding and so Wahyu said he would hold another internal meeting at the KPU to discuss their next move moving forward.
"We respect each other, including the views of the DPR and the government, we hope our views are also respected," Wahyu said.
A survey by Transparency International published in 2017, showed that 54 percent of Indonesians thought that the DPR was the country's most corrupt institution, followed by Regional Legislative Councils (DPRDs) at 47%. Many politicians who have served in the DPR and DPRD have been convicted of corruption, one of the most high-profile and recent of which was former House Speaker Setya Novanto.
Jakarta Alfian Tanjung, a Muslim preacher and former lecturer charged with spreading hate speech for calling the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) members "communists" on Twitter, was acquitted of all charges, as he had only "copied and pasted" information from dubious sources.
The Central Jakarta District Court ruled on Wednesday that what Alfian had done was not a crime.
Alfian had tweeted on his account last year that "85 percent of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle members are [members] of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI)."
The PKI was disbanded after being accused of being responsible for the putsch against president Sukarno and the killing of six Army generals in 1965.
The judge argued that Alfian had just copied an unverified statement from a news portal that apparently was not registered with the Press Council.
"The defendant just copied and pasted the information on his social media account," he said, as quoted by tribunnews.com.
Alfian was arrested in September last year, after a PDIP member reported him to the police for allegedly spreading hate speech against the party. (fac/ahw)
Jakarta Addressing concerns over the monthly allowance given to members of the Agency for the Implementation of the State Ideology of Pancasila (BPIP), which critics have called excessive, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati explained that these "financial rights" covered transportation, insurance and other operational expenses.
"Their basic salary is equal to that of other civil servants, which is Rp 5 million [US$356.61]. They also receive what we call a functional allowance of Rp 13 million, which is smaller than what is offered by other institutions," Sri said as quoted by kompas.com on Monday.
The rest of the package, she added, would cover BPIP members' operational activities, such as transportation, meetings and telephone bills. Each member will also receive Rp 5 million for health insurance and life insurance.
According to Presidential Regulation No. 42/2018, former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, as head of the BPIP's steering committee, is entitled to Rp 112.54 million per month in hak keuangan (financial rights).
However, the allowance does not include work trips. The government would set aside a portion of the state budget to cover additional needs, Sri Mulyani added.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo signed on May 23 a decree on the financial rights of BPIP members, including former Constitutional Court justice Mahfud MD.
BPIP head Yudi Latif, who is entitled to Rp 76.5 million a month, said most of those working for the BPIP were respected senior officials who had never demanded any financial compensation for their work.
"In the [BPIP] directors board, no one is complaining about the salary. As head of the BPIP, my position is at the same level as that of a minister, but I was given a different salary. I accept any amount [the government] will give me," Yudi said in a written statement released on Tuesday.
Yudi added that his staff had worked for a year without being paid. (dpk/evi)
President Joko Widodo has always been perceived by the public as a loyal cadre of his political party, PDI-P, and its leader, Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri. But that loyalty is being put under public scrutiny over Jokowi's decision to put the former president on a lucrative payroll.
Recently, Jokowi signed a Perpres (Presidential Decree) approving financial compensation for leaders and members of the Agency for Pancasila Ideology Education (BPIP), an ad hoc group formed in February tasked with helping the president to promote Pancasila's values throughout the country.
As per Jokowi's Perpres, Megawati, who chairs the BPIP's Advisory Board, shall receive a monthly salary of IDR112,548,000 for leading the board.
To put that in perspective, Megawati's position at BPIP earns her more than Jokowi himself, who gets paid IDR62,740,030, after benefits, per month. Furthermore, the other members of the BPIP Advisory Board who include some of the the country's most prominent political and religious figures including Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) Chairman Ma'ruf Amin, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) leader Said Aqil Siradj, and former Constitutional Court Head Judge Mahfud M.D. also earn more than Jokowi for their work on the board, each drawing salaries of IDR100,800,000 per month.
These whopping figures have not gone unnoticed. For one, Corruption watchdog Indonesian Anti-Corruption Community (MAKI) is planning to take legal action against the Perpres.
"MAKI will sue to annul the BPIP Financial Compensation Perpres by filing for a judicial review at the Supreme Court," said MAKI Coordinator Boyamin Saiman as quoted by Suara today.
Boyamin said he believes Megawati and others on the advisory board do not need such exorbitant paychecks. "For the advisory board, they should be volunteers," he said.
Deputy Speaker Fadli Zon, who is also the deputy chairman for opposition party Gerindra, lambasted the Perpres for being wasteful. "In the middle of a worrisome national economy, the government chose to waste money on an ad hoc body," he said, as quoted by Detik today.
Other parties, including the Democratic Party, have called on Jokowi to explain and justify the Perpres. The president has not yet made a statement at this time.
Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has signed a decree to give former president Megawati Soekarnoputri an allowance for promoting Pancasila that is almost twice his own income as president.
The renumeration is stipulated in a presidential regulation (Perpres) on facilities and renumeration for members of the Agency for the Implementation of State Ideology of Pancasila (BPIP). Under the Perpres, Megawati, as the chairwoman of the agency's steering committee, receives an allowance of Rp 112.54 million (US$8,034) per month.
This amount is almost twice what Jokowi gets per month, which is about Rp 62.5 million. It is almost the same as what chief justices of the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court get per month, which is Rp 121.6 million.
Eight members of the agency's steering committee, including former Constitutional Court justice Mahfud MD, cleric and Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Maruf Amin, as well as former vice president Try Sutrisno, receive Rp 100.81 million every month. Meanwhile, BPIP head Yudi Latif receives a salary of Rp 76.50 million per month.
That amount does not include official travel expenses. The BPIP was inaugurated by Jokowi in February to be in charge of promoting Pancasila in governmental policies.
PDI-P deputy secretary-general Ahmad Basarah claimed that Megawati, the party's chairwoman, never asked for the salary or any other facilities.
"Megawati and other members in the agency never know about the amount of their salaries. They never asked and never proposed them to the government," Basarah said in a written statement on Monday as quoted by kompas.com. (foy)
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta Regardless of presidential candidates, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo or Prabowo Subianto, they will have to partner with former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. (ret.) Gatot Nurmantyo if they want to win big in next year's presidential race.
A survey commissioned by Jakarta-based pollster Alvara Research Center shows that Gatot, who obtained 19.6 percent of the vote, ranks top of the vice presidential candidate list with the highest electability for the 2019 election.
Meanwhile, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono ranks second with 15.7 percent, followed by Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan who secured 11.6 and 9.6 percent, respectively.
About 62.6 percent out of 1,202 respondents voted for Gatot to become Jokowi's running mate. Meanwhile, 56.8 percent want Prabowo, the Gerindra Party patron, to run as a vice presidential candidate.
Both Jokowi and Prabowo have yet to pick a running mate.
National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskandar matches both of them. Around 53 percent of respondents voted for him to run with Jokowi, while 54.1 percent gave him the nod to be Prabowo's running mate.
Despite his party being part of the ruling coalition, Muhaimin has not yet declared whether he will join Jokowi or Prabowo, or establish a third-axis coalition.
Alvara director Hasanuddin Ali said whoever the president candidates were, whether it be Gatot or Muhaimin, both were acceptable to the supporters of Jokowi and Prabowo.
"Gatot and Muhaimin can be game changers who will determine the configuration of the pairs of candidates running in the upcoming election," he said in a statement on Sunday. (ebf)
Vindry Florentin, Jakarta A research institute Alvara Research Center said President Joko Widodo or Jokowi have a higher chance to be re-elected in the next presidential election. But the incumbent candidate needs to be wary of two things.
Alvara Research Center CEO Hasanuddin Ali said Jokowi still excels in various surveys in electability and popularity. In Alvara's survey, Jokowi was noted to lead with a 95.8 percent popularity rate and an electability rate of 46.8 percent.
But Jokowi must be vigilant because the level of public satisfaction with his performance and Jusuf Kalla decreased.
"The number decreased about 3.5 percent in May compared to the survey in February," Ali said when he released his survey titled "Toward the 2019 Presidential Election: Seeking Jokowi's Challengers" at Hotel Oria, Jakarta, Sunday, May 27.
The level of public satisfaction decreased from 77.3 percent in February to 73.8 percent in May. The people who dissatisfied increased from 20.8 percent to 23.2 percent. While the people who feel satisfied decreased from 68.8 percent to 65.9 percent. Similarly, people who feel very satisfied decreased from 7.2 percent to 6.8 percent and who feel very satisfied once decreased from 1.3 percent to 1 percent.
Ali said the weak point of performance Jokowi and Kalla still lies in the economic aspects. "Employment issues, such as the provision of employment and the welfare of workers, still whack," he said.
According to Ali, the decrease in the level of public satisfaction will have implications for the declining desire of voters to revote Jokowi. Although the level of public desire for Jokowi to be the president again still high, which is 64.8 percent, Jokowi was asked to remain wary.
Alvara Research Center's survey was conducted by face-to-face interview method to 1,200 respondents aged 17 years and over. The survey was conducted on April 20-May 9, throughout Indonesia. The method used is multistage random sampling. The margin of error of this survey is 3.10 percent with a confidence level of 95 percent.
Stephen Wright, Bangkok The main global group for certifying sustainable wood has sent a "come clean" ultimatum to one of the world's largest paper companies and its billionaire Indonesian family owners following evidence it continues to cut down tropical forests and operate through corporate proxies.
A May 28 letter from the Forest Stewardship Council seen Wednesday by The Associated Press makes four demands of Sinarmas and the Widjaja family that it insists must be met within days.
The conglomerate's years long effort to be readmitted to the council, whose stylized tree mark is an influential endorsement in the global marketplace, could be completely undone if it doesn't comply. It was expelled in 2007 for extensive destruction of Indonesia's rainforests.
The ultimatum comes after Greenpeace earlier this month ended a five-year truce with Sinarmas, citing an AP investigation into its opaque corporate structure and accusing it of destroying tropical forests during the entire time the two were cooperating on conservation.
Sinarmas founder Eka Tjipta Widjaja and his family control a $9 billion fortune amassed from paper, palm oil, real estate and other businesses, according to Forbes.
The forest council's letter to the Asia Pulp & Paper arm of the Sinarmas conglomerate said it requires a "demonstration of the highest level of commitment by the Widjaja family" to the council's standards, which include protection of natural forests and human rights.
It demands a "high level, official and public announcement" of that commitment by Monday; proposed remedies to Greenpeace's evidence of deforestation, also by Monday; a full disclosure by June 11 of Asia Pulp & Paper's corporate structure including its wood suppliers, shell companies and offshore companies and their true ownership; and disclosure by June 11 of any other violations of the council's standards.
Asia Pulp & Paper had no immediate comment. It said it won't be able to comment on the letter unless FSC agrees. The council didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Indonesia's rainforests, among the world's largest, are an important buffer against global warming and a haven for a staggering diversity of wildlife including critically endangered orangutans, tigers and rhinos.
But they are being cleared faster than in any other country, swelling the profits of paper and palm oil conglomerates while causing chronic social and environmental problems. Rapid forest loss and greenhouse gas emissions have made Indonesia the fourth biggest contributor to global warming after China, the U.S. and India.
The country's emissions soared in 2015 when record dry season fires, worsened by draining of swampy peatland forests for plantations and El Nino weather conditions, burned 10,000 square miles (25,900 square kilometers) of plantations and forests. The smoke blanketed much of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and southern Thailand in health-damaging haze.
Greenpeace 's investigation, which included analysis of satellite imagery, showed that two companies connected to Sinarmas cleared almost 8,000 hectares (19,770 acres) of forest and peatland on Borneo during the five years it was advising the conglomerate on forest conservation.
Its Asia Pulp & Paper arm acknowledged that employees had been shareholders of one of the plantation companies. Sinarmas' direct ownership of the second plantation company named by Greenpeace is a matter of public record.
The investigation followed AP stories in December that found extensive links between Sinarmas, its pulp and paper and forestry arms and nearly all the 27 plantation wood suppliers it had told the outside world were independent, apparently trying to greenwash its image. Most of the wood suppliers were based in Sinarmas offices and owned by employees of the Sinarmas group and in some cases former employees.
Separately, a group of 13 global and Indonesian environmental and civil society organizations including WWF and Indonesia Corruption Watch on Wednesday released a report of their own investigation into the ownership of Sinarmas wood suppliers, which found they are largely owned by current and former employees of the conglomerate.
It also said Sinarmas controls sizeable land that wasn't included in the zero deforestation commitment made by its Asia Pulp & Paper and Sinarmas Forestry arms in 2013 as part of the agreement with Greenpeace.
The Bonn, Germany-based forest council's letter said the "pattern of using corporate proxies to control operations without legal ownership is very alarming."
The letter said "these proxies and agents are considered directly linked" to the Sinarmas empire, which will be held "responsible for remedying violations committed by these proxies."
Residents of Indonesia's second largest city Surabaya can now pay for the bus in a novel way by trading in used plastic.
The city's mayor Tri "Risma" Rismaharini last month announced the roll out of the new Suroboyo Bus, comfortable, air-conditioned buses which are, importantly, accessible for disabled, elderly and pregnant passengers.
While the buses might be shiny and new, passengers are invited to pay for their rides not just with money, but with plastic they turn in at designated bus stops and recycling stations around the city.
"Passengers can travel around Surabaya for two hours for free," Risma said as quoted by Indonesia's Antara News agency. The government seeks to reduce private vehicles which currently consist of 75 percent of traffic on the roads to 50/50 with public transportation.
Indonesia produces 187.2 million tonnes of plastic waste each year, making it the second biggest marine polluter in the world behind only China.
Surabaya's government intends to process the plastic into useful goods. "This is our commitment in handling plastic waste that cannot be destroyed for hundreds of years," added Risma.
Back in 2015, Risma was recognised as one of the world's best mayors "for energetically promoting her social, economic and environmental policies in Indonesia's second-largest city."
The previous year, she closed down one of Southeast Asia's largest red-light district known as Dolly and turned much of the area into kindergartens and playgrounds.
Risma has also overseen the establishment of public parks in a number of unused public spaces which provide WiFi, libraries and sport facilities.
Indonesia has also trialled building roads out of recycled plastic, rolling them out in Surabaya along Jakarta and Bekasi.
If you've ever thought to yourself "I just can't go to school/work today, it's too hard" prepare to feel terrible about yourself because we're sure whatever you were facing wasn't nearly as bad as the obstacle these elementary school students in the Sinjai district of South Sulawesi had to brave to get to school the morning this video was shot.
The students come from Suka Maju Village, in the Tellulimpoe Sub-district of Sinjai. They were crossing the flooded river in order to get to State Elementary School (SDN) 193 Jennae, which is located in the next village. Even accompanied by adults, you can see how the river's powerful current nearly drags them away before they can make it to the other side.
The video was originally posted to Facebook by a user named Ipthul Murthi, who wrote in the caption that it was shot on Saturday, May 26, but said that such dangerous river crossings were a constant issue during the rainy season due to the lack of a pedestrian bridge over the river. He also mentioned that while there was road access to get to the school, it was very far away.
Ipthul's post has since gone viral and been shared more than 6,000 times.
The head of South Sulawesi's Public Relations and Protocol Bureau, Devo Khaddafi, told Kompas the government had never received an official report regarding the need for a bridge over the river from the local administration but said that the budget for one could be allocated when they received one.
This is actually the second viral video about students crossing a dangerous river in South Sulawesi to get to class this year. A previous video showing children risking their lives to get to their school in the village of Bonto Matinngi in the regency of Maros.
The government had plans and allocated a budget to build a bridge for the students in Maros since 2015, but construction failed to get off the ground for some reason. But the viral video showing the student's plight led to a generous outpouring of donations to crowdfunding site Kitabisa.com, which raised IDR198 million (US$14,275) for the bridge's construction, work on which is supposedly underway now.
Will the power of virality also lead to a bridge for the students in Sinjai? Although we're not aware of any crowdfunding efforts yet, Sinjai District Secretary Akbar Mukmin visited the river in the video on Tuesday in order to assess whether a permanent or temporary bridge should be built but promised to solve the student's crossing dilemma soon.
In many parts of rural Indonesia with poor infrastructure, students must brave dangers like raging rivers or broken bridges just to get to school each day. Volunteers have helped bring bridges to dozens of these villages but are often held back by government bureaucracy.
Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta The National Commission for Child Protection (KPAI) demanded President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo evaluate Education and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy over this year's plummeting national exam (UN) scores.
"The president should evaluate the minister of education and culture," said KPAI commissioner for Education Retno Listyarti today in her office.
Based on the reports received by KPAI, Retno explained, many questions for Junior High School (SMP) students were not based on learning material or that the students had not learned.
"We've received a lot of information that some questions in UN SMP were learning material for Senior High School (SMA) students," she underlined.
Retno appealed to the ministry to not blame the students for the declining scores, but rather the questions that were unsuitable for their education level.
Retno also lamented the ministry's regulation to delay the annoucement of the UN results twice although the students could obtain the information online. Previously, the announcement was postponed from Wednesday, May 23 to Friday, May 25, 2018. "It could affect the children."
Meanwhile, Education and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy admitted the average scores of 2018 UN SMP was dipping. "There was indeed a decrease because many HOTS [High Order Thinking Skills] questions, the scores in SMP have terribly dropped," said Muhadjir on May 23, adding that the decrease was related to the integrated implementation of the computer-based national exam (UNBK).
Following the terrorist attacks in Surabaya and Riau about two weeks ago, worries related to religious radicalism have been thrust to the forefront of concerns here in Indonesia.
But well before these latest terror attacks took place, observers had been warning about the large number of students and even teachers at the nation's universities found to have become radicalized or join radical groups.
Universitas Indonesia, considered the country's best university by some metrics, responded to a recent report regarding the large number of radical groups that have infiltrated the nation's top schools by stating that they take harsh action against students found to be joining radical organizations.
"There is a mechanism to prove it through a judgment of the violation and the rules. There will be varying sanctions, from suspension to expulsion," UI spokesperson Rifelly Dewi Astuti said as quoted by CNN Indonesia.
Rifelly said that other ways UI fights radicalism on campus is by working with moderate religious organizations and having all incoming freshman take a course on nationalism and the state ideology of Pancasila.
The National Agency for Combating Terrorism (BNPT) recently released a report stating that almost every state university in Java and Sulawesi have been exposed to religious-based radicalism.
Those findings are in line with a survey from the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) released in April stating that 39 percent of the students surveyed were anti-democratic and disagreed with Pancasila being the foundation of the Indonesian state, while 23 percent said they agreed with the government being overthrown by an Islamic caliphate.
Also in response to concerns about growing radicalism in their schools, two universities in Indonesia banned the use of the niqab (face veil) by female students earlier this year but reversed their policies after public outcry.
Jakarta The Indonesian government will remove the phrase "same sex" from the article on fornication in the Criminal Code (KUHP) bill.
The decision was made after several civil organizations criticized the phrase, saying it discriminated against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
The initial draft version of the article stipulated that anyone engaging in same-sex fornication with an underage victim should be sentenced to a maximum of nine years in prison.
"We changed it, we've made it firmer, so no one, be they homosexual or heterosexual, may engage in fornication," said Enny Nurbaningsih, who heads the government team tasked with formulating the KUHP bill, on Wednesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
"We want to make sure that the bill does not have an impression that it is discriminatory," Enny added. (hol/dmr)
Shannon Power After months of debate, it seems as though Indonesia will not go ahead with plans to criminalize homosexuality.
The idea to criminalize homosexuality was first floated at a Criminal Code (KUHP) bill working committee meeting. It quickly gained momentum in an increasingly conservative Indonesia.
Indonesia's government tasked the working committee with proposing amendments to the KUHP in a draft Bill. Politicians from across party lines formed the committee and are aiming to get the draft Bill in by 17 August.
They came up with a range of proposed amendments including banning pre-marital and homosexual sex. Other amendments included making it illegal to defame the president and reintroducing the death penalty.
The proposal to ban gay sex was controversial and gained headlines around the world. It caused much debate within the country, with some on the KUHP working committee indicating as recently as Tuesday (29 May) the ban would remain on the draft Bill.
But after a meeting with the government on 30 May the working committee decided to remove the term 'same-sex'. The proposed amendment will simply include a law banning 'indecent' sex.
Politicians argued they removed the term 'same-sex' to not appear 'discriminatory'. Chairperson of the KUHP working committee, Enny Nurbaningsih, said it removed the term because criminal law should not discriminate against certain groups.
'We also want did not want the proposed to give a discriminatory impression,' she said. 'We maintain that the proposed law exists for the greater interest.'
It is not clear what will define 'indecent' sex, but LGBTI, women's and other advocacy groups are still fighting for the law to be removed all together.
The House of Representatives will debate and vote on the draft KUHP Bill once the working committee submits it, which it hope to do by 17 August.
Shannon Power A politician on the committee to overhaul Indonesia's criminal code said the amendments to make homosexuality illegal will remain.
A Criminal Code (KUHP) bill working committee has been working for months on a range of amendments to the KUHP.
One of the most controversial proposed amendments was the criminalization of homosexual activity. The proposed changes come amid an escalating crackdown on the LGBTI community and increasing influence of conservative Islamic groups.
Arsul Sani of the United Development Party sits on the KUHP working committee. He said the article which would criminalized homosexual 'indecent conduct' has remained in the most recent revision of the proposed KUHP.
'Instead of deleting the article, we will revise it so that people won't see it as discriminatory,' Arsul told tempo.co.
Other proposed amendments that will remain in the revised draft KUHP include; making it illegal to defame the president, premarital sex and cohabitation, promoting contraception, corruption laws and introducing the death sentence.
The working committee must agree on all the proposed amendments before the draft bill goes to the House of Representatives for a vote. The House had hoped to vote on the draft bill by 17 August after several delays. 'We will finish all of these articles before August 17,' Arsul said.
The KUHP draft bill working committee will meet again today (30 May) to further discuss the changes.
Krithika Varagur, Jakarta, Indonesia Human rights activists in Indonesia are raising concerns about a revised counterterrorism law they say may restrict freedoms of expression and association.
In the wake of several shocking terrorist attacks in East Java and Riau this month, including two suicide bombings carried out by families, Indonesia's House of Representatives unanimously passed a revised counterterrorism law that would allow police to more broadly prosecute suspected terrorists and terrorist activity.
The revisions were originally proposed after a terrorist attack in Jakarta in January 2016, but floundered for two years until this month, when they were quickly passed after the Surabaya bombings. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was under pressure to pass the revisions after the attacks and threatened to issue a presidential decree if the House did not act promptly.
The new law allows police to hold suspects for up to 221 days in detention before they are brought to court, allows the military to join police in counterterrorism operations, and expands the definition of terrorism along broad lines that may criminalize activist groups.
"We mainly have concerns with [the] articles that expand the definition of terrorism to include any kind of violence," said Papang Hidayat of Amnesty International Indonesia, as well as those that allow for prolonged detention.
"In Indonesia, we still have a flawed criminal procedures court, inherited from Dutch colonial rule, which does not recognize rights like habeas corpus. Nor is torture considered a criminal act. So, the revised law raises major human rights concerns."
The revised law passed after three days of discussion, according to Andreas Harsono, a researcher with Human Rights Watch in Jakarta. "The last three days were only used to argue about the definition of terrorism," he said.
The language in the law's Article 1.2 broadens the definition to include "violence or threat of violence which creates or intends to create an atmosphere of terror or widespread fear, creating multiple casualties and/or resulting in damage or destruction of vital strategic objects, the environment, a public facility, or an international facility with ideological, political or security disturbance motive."
Harsono said this could be used to target the peaceful activism of indigenous groups, environmentalists, and religious or political organizations.
One potential target of the revised law is Papuan activists, from the two contested easternmost provinces of Indonesia, Papua and West Papua, where the Indonesian government has been embroiled in a conflict with indigenous inhabitants for over five decades.
"There are two areas in Papua where criminals are tried against the state... Jayapura and Timika," said Harsono. "Thus, if you attack a point in Freeport [the world's largest gold mine, which is located in Papua] or a police officer in Freeport, you might technically be branded a terrorist."
Many countries have had to strike a balance between privacy and security in devising their counterterrorism laws, including the United States, which controversially expanded government surveillance with the Patriot Act after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"The revised law was definitely a response to the recent attacks in Surabaya," Hidayat said. Amnesty International Indonesia has written an open letter to the parliament with its concerns.
He is particularly worried about the growing role of the Indonesian military in counterterrorism operations. "The Indonesian military has no accountability," he said. "They can only be tried in their [internal] tribunal system."
The move to involve the military in counterterrorism in Article 43 of the revised law came just days after the Joint Special Operations Command, a domestic counterterrorism squad, was revived. Per the revised law, military involvement would require both a request from the police and the president's approval.
"The involvement of the military must be limited going forward," Hidayat said. "But this can only be done by presidential decree."
It is unlikely that Jokowi will roll back any provisions so soon after the revisions were pushed through, particularly since he is standing for re-election next year and national security will be a major policy issue.
The law was passed "in an effort to protect the entire nation and all the blood of Indonesia," Muhammad Syafii, chairman of the Special Committee for the Revision of Terrorism Law, said last week.
Officials in Indonesia's House of Representatives could not be immediately reached for comment.
Activists say the revised law could also further curb freedom of expression in Indonesia, which already has punitive blasphemy and defamation laws. Its Article 1.4 defines the threat of violence as "speech, writing, picture, symbol or body language, with or without electronic or non-electronic form which could create widespread fear."
Indonesian citizens can be arrested for Facebook posts, and blasphemy charges have a 100 percent conviction rate.
Jakarta Private carrier Lion Air removed another passenger for cracking a bomb joke on Monday from a flight that was to depart from Supadio International Airport, Pontianak, West Kalimantan bound for Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten.
This was the second time in a week that the airline removed a passenger for making a bomb joke after the company removed YS from a plane bound for Kuala Lumpur from Jakarta on May 27.
The passenger, who was identified as FS, was allegedly joking about the presence of a bomb on the plane because he was angry that one of the attendants moved his bag in the passenger cabin.
FS' joke alarmed several other passengers, leading them to jump out the plane's emergency door, causing passengers to suffer from injuries after falling through the plane's engine.
Supadio Airport operational manager Bernard Munthe confirmed the passenger was removed at 6:40 p.m. on Monday after an aviation security officer received a report on the incident.
"During the incident, the flight attendant had actually informed the pilot about the joke and had ordered other passengers to calmly exit the plane," he said on Monday as quoted by kompas.com.
However, some panicking passengers opened the emergency door by force and jumped through the door.
"FS has been taken to the Pontianak police station to undergo further investigation," Bernard said.
Separately, the Cirebon branch of state-owned railway operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) also removed a passenger on Saturday after the passenger in question claimed that she was a friend of terrorists following a dispute with the train's security officer. (dpk)
Nur Hadi, Surabaya A former terrorist inmate Ali Fauzi Manzi asked Islamic organization Muhammadiyah, to be involved in handling the criminal acts of terrorism. According to Ali Fauzi, Muhammadiyah's moderate way of thinking can be used against radical groups.
"Muhammadiyah has the antidote but it never optimized," said Ali Fauzi after the seminar about terrorism at the Muhammadiyah's East Java Region Main Building in Surabaya, on Saturday, May 26.
Ali Fauzi, the ex-head instructor of bomb assembler group Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), advised to let Muhammadiyah involved in handling the extraordinary crime, "I was once a terrorist inmate, but I was healed by Muhammadiyah," he conveyed.
Fauzi admitted he changed after met Muhammadiyah Surabaya University's lecturer when he continued his master study in the university.
He hoped the Islamic organization that was founded by KH. Ahmad Dahlan could prevent terrorism. Ali Fauzi emphasized that it can be an alternative way to help the government dealing with criminal acts of terrorism that occurred in Indonesia.
Ali Fauzi was appreciating Muhammadiyah by conducting seminars about understanding and handling criminal acts of terrorism. "This is my first time (invited) in the Muhammadiyah community. It needs to be developed," he said.
Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta Pro-Islamic State (IS) cleric Aman Abdurrahman denounced in his defense plea on Friday the recent terror attacks in Indonesia, saying the perpetrators were ignorant and mentally ill.
Aman, who is facing the death penalty for allegedly inspiring others to commit at least five terror attacks in Indonesia, told the South Jakarta District Court that he was not involved in any of the attacks.
"The people who committed [terrorism], allowed it to happen or taught others to do it are mentally sick and frustrated with the world. Islam does not teach that," Aman read out his plea in the heavily guarded courtroom.
He said the suicide bombings targeting churches in Surabaya, East Java, were "hideous" as the perpetrators involved children in their actions.
"What happened in Surabaya, where a mother took her children to blow themselves up could never be the action of a person who understands Islam and jihad."
Aman, touted by analysts as the most influential pro-ISIS cleric, admitted he had encouraged more than 1,000 of his followers to go to Syria and become militants. However, he denied that he had instructed them to carry out attacks in Indonesia.
"Related to a bombing in Samarinda church in [East Kalimantan], Islam urges Muslims who live in a kafir [infidel] country, including Indonesia, to live side by side with followers of other religions as long as they don't disturb or fight Muslims. [...] And there was no report of any religion-based conflict in Samarinda triggered by non Muslims," he said.
The attack in Samarinda in 2016 killed a toddler, and Aman said that killing a child was unforgivable.
Aman asserted his conviction that the government and its apparatus were infidels, but claimed that he had yet to order his followers to attack security apparatuses due to some considerations. (ahw)
Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta The newly passed Terrorism Law will not immediately resolve core problems in the country's fight against terrorism, a human rights researcher said on Friday.
The House of Representatives passed on Friday the revision to the Terrorism Law, replacing the prevailing 2003 law following years of protracted deliberation.
Enny Nurbaningsih, head of the Jokowi administration's team charged with deliberating the terrorism bill, emphasized in a recent interview that the new legislation would ensure security against deadly terror attacks.
However, after a House plenary session agreed to pass the bill into law, Andreas Harsono, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) Indonesia researcher, said on Friday that the new law "isn't a silver bullet."
"It's time for a sober assessment of why most deradicalization programs have not worked. It's time to look at what can be done to strengthen Indonesia's ability to monitor members of ISIS sent back from Turkey, as well as convicted terrorists after their release from prison," Andreas told The Jakarta Post, referring to the Islamic State (IS) group by its alternate acronym.
Andreas' comment came following a series of terror attacks initiated by pro-IS group militants, including the recent coordinated bombings in Surabaya, East Java. It is believed that the perpetrators were radicalized by militants who had returned from Syria.
The new legislation includes numerous provisions on terror prevention, including a legal basis to charge IS group militants returning from Iraq and Syria.
The House and the government have also agreed to grant the Indonesian Military (TNI) a greater role in counterterrorism by inserting the phrase "intention to disrupt security" as among the motives that constitute terrorism in Article 43J of the new law.
"We could interpret that [the article] will allow the military to be involved, albeit in a restricted role. The authority of the BNPT is central [in the new law]," Andreas said, referring to the National Counterterrorism Agency. (swd)
Erwida Maulia, Jakarta Indonesia's House of Representatives on Friday passed a new anti-terrorism law that seeks harsher counterterrorism measures following a recent spate of attacks that have rocked the nation.
The new law allows police to detain terror suspects for longer periods for investigations from one week to three weeks and gives wider room for military involvement in counterterrorism measures.
The role of the military had been limited under the previous law, with the National Police and its special anti-terror unit, Detachment 88, monopolizing counterterrorism activities.
But riots by terrorist inmates at a police detention center outside Jakarta earlier this month that killed five police officers revived calls to cut the red tape to enlist military help.
President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday it was time to tackle terrorism with "extraordinary measures." He has approved a proposal to establish a special military unit that will include elite troops from the army, navy and air force. The president is expected to soon issue a decree to specify the military's role.
Deliberations on revising the 2003 antiterrorism law had dragged on for two years, but picked up after suicide bombings at three churches and a police headquarters in Indonesia's second largest city, Surabaya in May, and another attack on a police compound in Riau province on the island of Sumatra. More than two dozen people were killed in the attacks, including the attackers, some of whom were children as young as 9 years old.
The use of children as suicide bombers has revived calls for urgency in passing the bill. The president said the Surabaya attacks were "a wake-up call how families have become indoctrination targets for terrorism ideology."
Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, has been intermittently hit by terrorism attacks since early 2000s. While past attacks had been linked to Al-Qaeda, in the past few years these have been attributed to local militants affiliated with the extremist group Islamic State in Syria. But this was the first time children were involved in attacks by radicalized parents.
Police have complained that the existing law did not allow detention of people returning from Syria, as it did not recognize crimes alleged to have been committed abroad. Hundreds of Indonesians are believed to have gone to Syria to join IS, a number of whom have returned.
Now included as crimes are participation in military and paramilitary training inside or outside the country with the intention of committing terrorism, Law Minister Yasonna Laoly said in a speech to the legislature on Friday. The new law also enables police to charge leaders of groups whose members carry out an attack.
Deliberations on the anti-terror bill have dragged on due to resistance from local Muslim groups over concerns it could target innocent activists. Rights groups have also been critical of the potential for human rights abuses in handling terror suspects.
One point of contention has been the definition of "terrorism" itself. Government officials and lawmakers have finally agreed there should be a "political, ideological or security disruption motive" that distinguishes terror attacks from ordinary crimes.
Sidney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, however, criticized the increased military role, saying it might stir up the old rivalry between the police and the military.
"I think once you begin to change the system and allow the military to have an independent way of handling terrorism on its own without reference to the police, you are inviting duplication of effort, increased rivalry, actions that run across purposes to one another," Jones said shortly before the bill was passed.
However, another terrorism observer, Al Chaidar, a lecturer at Malikussaleh University, thinks there is a need for a greater military role in terrorism that involves the takeover of territory, such as the 2017 takeover of Marawi city in the southern Philippines by IS-linked militants. The Indonesian police are not well equipped for such combat, he said.
He criticizes the new law for promising the police more power and a larger budget, saying the police "can easily become a tool of power" that abuses the law by arresting many people for political purposes.
John McBeth, Jakarta With President Joko Widodo and his security chiefs leaning impatiently over its shoulder, Indonesia's House of Representatives on Friday rushed through a revision to the 2003 Anti-Terrorism Law which gives police sharp new teeth to deal with a new surge in Islamic State-inspired attacks across the country.
It took barely a fortnight, a record for the notoriously sluggish Parliament, to approve a range of amendments which among other things will give police a longer time to hold terrorist suspects without charge to carry out their investigations.
Shocked by a prison uprising and wave of suicide bombings and attacks in Jakarta, Surabaya and Sumatra, Widodo had warned legislators that unless they approved the revised law in short order he would introduce the necessary changes through a presidential regulation in lieu of law.
Much of the public debate focused on the definition of terrorism and the way it would give the Indonesian Armed Forces' (TNI) direct involvement in counterterrorism, something it has been pushing for over the past decade.
In the end, however, the actual extent of the TNI's future role was left to a presidential decree, with Widodo needing no reminder that it is a particularly sensitive subject in a country with a 32-year history of military-backed authoritarian rule.
More important for investigators is a new article extending the period of detention for anyone suspected of planning a terrorist attack from the current seven days, hardly enough time to build an indictment, to a maximum of 30 days.
The new legislation also extends definitive detention for a suspected terrorist from an all-inclusive 180 days to a maximum of 510 days 300 days for investigation and 210 days for prosecution, including two extensions that must be approved by the courts.
Although the details are not spelled out, individuals believed to be plotting terrorist acts can be placed in "certain places which remain under the jurisdiction of investigators and prosecutors for up to a maximum of six months."
Despite the controversy surrounding the issue, the military's role at this stage is defined in the law as "by any means to provide reinforcement to the police," making it clear that the police retain the lead role in counterterrorism efforts.
Under the current law, terrorism is defined as any action using violence or threats of violence that causes widespread terror and leads to mass casualties and destruction, or the destruction of vital strategic objects.
Most of the parties on the parliamentary special committee reviewing the revision agreed that rather than characterizing terrorism as a national threat, it should be defined as "any action that has political and ideological motives or has the intention of destabilizing security."
As a national threat, albeit an internal one, it might have fitted too easily into the TNI's constitutionally mandated role of external defense, which became the military's singular mission after it separated from the police in 1999 soon after the fall of Suharto's New Order regime.
Widodo's ruling Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P) and two other members of the governing coalition, Golkar and National Awakening (PKB), were the only parties to oppose the new definition, arguing that the limits of the military's role were already clear.
The opposition Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) and the centrist Democrat parties, led by retired generals Prabowo Subianto and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, see terrorism as an extraordinary threat and therefore different from a crime usually handled by police.
So far, it has had enough training to tackle most tasks, but any plane hijack or a mass hostage-taking would almost certainly call for the intervention of army special forces' (Kopassus) elite Detachment 81 unit and its counterparts in the navy (Denjaka) and air force (Bravo 90).
Embedded in local folk lore is Operation Woyla in 1981, when a Kopassus team flew to Bangkok to take down a commandeered Garuda Airlines jetliner, killing all five Islamic militants who had hijacked the plane on an internal Indonesia flight and forced it to land in Thailand.
Then military intelligence chief Benny Moerdani worked with the Thai government and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to mount the pre-dawn assault, which took place at the exact time as the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.
While deploying the military in crisis situations would not be any different from Western countries, legislating its use in any domestic context will always be regarded by Indonesian human rights groups as the thin end of the wedge.
This week the House of Representatives endorsed the reactivation of the Joint Special Operations Command, which TNI commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto has said will lead the military's counterterrorism efforts and not just in times of crisis.
"The TNI's counterterrorism role is a full package, from monitoring, early prevention and enforcement to mitigation, all of which will be carried out under the scope of military operations other than war," he told a parliamentary hearing.
While the army has made significant strides in improving its human rights record, its approach will always be different from a civilian police force. Says one retired police officer: "If you get the army involved, it will want to take control."
In some ways, a compromise may have already been reached. Police and military officials make up the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), formed in 2010 and always led by a policeman, including previously by current police chief Tito Karnavian.
They have also operated together in the field. For instance, the Army Strategic Reserve and a specialized Police Mobile Brigade unit joined forces to track down and kill Islamic insurgent leader Abu Wardah Santoso in the jungles of Central Sulawesi in July 2016.
But Defense Ministry director for strategic policy Brigadier General Muhammad Nakir did nothing to allay fears of a wider military influence when he told an audience in 2016 that the dominant threat to the country was non-military, "which enters softly but can suddenly destroy our defenses."
While Nakir referred to land conflicts, drugs, technology and even overlapping by-laws, the then-TNI chief, General Gatot Nurmantyo, who still has presidential ambitions, often claimed nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were working for foreign interests as part of a so-called "proxy war."
Retired General Agus Widjoyo, head of the National Defense Institute and among the country's leading military reformers, is strongly opposed to the TNI's still-pervasive territorial structure being given any role in counterterrorism intelligence gathering.
"Absolutely not," he told Asia Times. "The military has no authority to venture outside its mission. Everything relating to deployments of TNI elements has to be in accordance with the (constitutional) principle of civilian political supremacy."
David Lipson The Indonesian Parliament has passed controversial new anti-terrorism laws, handing the military direct involvement in counter-terrorism operations approved by the President.
The legislation creates a number of new offences, including engaging in military training with intent to commit terrorism.
The laws also hand police powers to detain suspects for 21 days without charge. After being charged, suspects could be held for another 200 days to give police time to gather evidence before handing the case to prosecutors.
Indonesian security forces did not want the inclusion of "political motives" or "ideological motives" in the definition of terrorism under the act, claiming it would be too restrictive.
But in the end the full definition was maintained in the bill and it passed through the Indonesian House of Representatives. Critics say the laws are unnecessary and could inflame tensions between the Indonesian military (TNI) and police.
"I think it's highly problematic to involve the army and to involve the Indonesian military more generally in the counter-terrorism effort," Sidney Jones, from the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, told the ABC.
"It's likely to result in a big duplication of effort, particularly on intelligence grounds. It will also probably increase the rivalry between the police and the military."
More detail about the military involvement is expected to be revealed via Presidential Regulation, due within 100 days.
Passage of the laws was fast-tracked after a string of suicide bombings in Surabaya early last week. Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) has been blamed for the attacks, but the group's alleged leader has now condemned them.
Aman Abdurrahman is facing trial over the 2016 Jakarta bombing, where 8 people died. Prosecutors want him to face the firing squad, claiming he established, and now leads, JAD.
But in a defence statement read to the court, Aman condemned the families who bombed churches and police in Surabaya. "They are simply sick people, with desperation in their lives," he told the court.
"I believe it's impossible [the attacks on Churches] were done by people who understand the teachings of Islam. As for the parents who took their children... and blew them up at a police station... Clearly that is barbaric and cruel."
He urged the judges not to hesitate in sentencing him. "I'm not even a bit afraid of the sentence, since I have surrendered my faith to God."
Earlier, a security scare in the court saw heavily-armed elite police cock their assault rifles and take up defensive positions around the defendant.
In a sign of the tension surrounding the case, a small explosion at a nearby construction site was mistaken for a bomb blast.
Journalists and police jumped to their feet as armed police rushed outside to investigate. After several minutes, the case resumed.
Nobody should ever have to be told that making bomb jokes on an airplane or in an airport is a terrible, terrible idea, but especially not the week after Indonesia suffered multiple deadly terrorist bomb attacks.
And yet, just yesterday, two Indonesian legislators (both leaders of their regional parties no less) had to be secured at the airport in Banyuwangi, East Java, for allegedly making some explosively inappropriate jokes.
The two lawmakers from Banyuwangi's Regional Representative Council (DPRD) were identified by police as Basuki Rahmad, the head of the regional executive board (DPD) for the Hanura Party and Nouval Baderi, head of the DPD for Gerindra.
The incident occurred at around 12:45pm when Basuki and Nouval were going through security on their way to board a Garuda Indonesia flight to Jakarta for a technical seminar along with other members of the Banyuwangi DPRD.
According to police, Basuki passed through the security screening and then approached another traveling DPRD member, Marifatul Kamila.
"During the examination, Basuki said there was an explosive in [Marifatul's] luggage. When asked about this by a security officer, the council member still said there was a bomb. He was reprimanded by the officer and got angry," said Rogojampi Police Chief Suharyono yesterday as quoted by Detik.
The officers at the security screening then asked Garuda security officers to hold Basuki in the waiting room for further investigation. But by then, he had already managed to get onto the bus waiting to shuttle passengers to the airplane.
According to Surharyono, the airline's security officer asked him to get off the bus and go back to the waiting room, but Basuki refused and entered the airplane anyways.
That's when Nouval Baderi entered the airplane and, for some reason we cannot possibly comprehend, told the flight attendant that his bag contained a bomb. (Perhaps he thought the two bomb jokes would cancel each other out?)
Whatever Nouval's intention, it did not make the situation better and both men were removed from the flight by security.
After being questioned by officers for about three hours, the two legislators were allowed to leave. They gave statements to the media today in which they both apologized but also claimed to be ignorant about the rules against making bomb jokes at the airport.
Despite the apology, the Banyuwangi police said the two legislators could still potentially face up to one year in jail for making bomb threats, but police said they would soon hand the case over to the Civil Servant Investigator (PPNS) of Surabaya as they have jurisdiction in the case.
The two lawmakers are not even the first people to make bomb jokes at an airport following last week's suicide bombings. Just a day after the Surabaya police station was attacked, a 71-year-old man boarding a Jakarta-bound Lion Air flight made a bomb joke and claimed that he was a terrorist, causing the flight's delay and his detainment by security.
In the wake of last week's horrific terrorist attacks in Indonesia, President Joko Widodo urged the House of Representatives (DPR) to push through a draft revision to the country's anti-terrorism law that would give the government increased powers to take preventative action against terrorist acts.
Jokowi urged the country's legislators to finalize the revised bill "as soon as possible", saying that they had until the end of June to make it happen or he would pass a decree known as a Perppu (Government Regulation in Lieu of Law) that would temporarily grant the government the powers outlined in the revision.
Given the shocking and traumatic nature of last week's attacks, many thought the DPR would quickly resolve any disagreements they had about the revision (which has been under discussion since 2016) in order to show the public they were taking strong action against terrorism.
But the same issue that prevented the revision's passage previously continues to do so. Specifically, they can't agree on the definition of terrorism.
Here are the two definitions of terrorism currently being debated by lawmakers:
Some political parties want to use the second definition in order to narrow the scope of the revision, which gives the government broad powers to use against those suspected of terrorism. For example, it would allow the police to hold terror suspects longer without trial, let them more easily arrest people for spreading hate speech or radical content online, as well as make it illegal for people to take part in para-military training or joining proscribed groups.
One member of the committee discussing the bill, PPP politician Arsul Sani, argued that the second definition was necessary to clarify the difference between ordinary crimes and terrorism, but posited that having to determine motive would not hamper law enforcement in acting against potential terrorists.
Deputy house speaker and Gerindra member Fadli Zon agrees. "That's what I think the definition should be, so there is no ambiguity about who is called a terrorist, not everyone is a terrorist just because they criticize the government or do not like government policy," he said as quoted by Detik.
Currently, eight political parties support the second definition while two other factions, PKB and the ruling PDI-P party, support the first definition. Lawmakers are meeting with Minister of Human Rights Yasonna Laoly today to further discuss the definition.
The country's current anti-terrorism law (Law no. 15/2003 on Criminal Terrorist Action) was passed soon after the 2002 Bali bombings and has often criticized for being inadequate in that it largely limits authorities to merely being responsive against attacks.
However, activists have warned that some of the suggested revisions to the anti-terrorism law, such as allowing authorities to wiretap suspected terrorists, goes against the basic principles of human rights and could easily be misused, depending on what definition of 'terrorist' lawmakers go with.
Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Jakarta Improvements to an anti-terror law expected to be passed on Friday (May 25) will allow the Indonesian authorities to hold anyone suspected of planning a terror attack, based on preliminary leads, for up to 21 days.
The move extends the current seven-day maximum period, according to a draft anti-terror Bill seen by The Straits Times on Thursday. In the past, this seven-day limit had forced police investigators to release suspects while they were still attempting to build a case and gather evidence to prosecute ahead of a definitive detention.
The definitive detention is expected to be extended from 180 days to 290, of which 200 will be allocated for police investigators to prepare an investigation dossier and 90 for state prosecutors to prepare an indictment to be tabled to court.
The proposed legislation is part of sweeping changes to Indonesia's anti-terror Bill that President Joko Widodo proposed in early 2016.
Its deliberation has been sped up since the coordinated suicide bombings of three churches in Surabaya, East Java, on May 14, which killed 14 innocent people.
Clause 28 of the almost-completed draft anti-terror Bill reads: "Police investigators may detain any terrorist suspect based on preliminary ?evidence for as long as 14 days. In the case that it is deemed insufficient, police may request the attorney-general office for a maximum seven-day extension."
On Wednesday and Thursday, the government and Parliament intensively deliberated a few final minor technical issues, including the definition of terrorism that should be listed in the Bill. A Parliament plenary session is scheduled for Friday.
Revisions to the law will also penalise anyone who is a member of any group declared by a court as a terrorist organisation, even if the person has not committed any concrete act of planning or launching an attack. This stipulation would allow police to act preemptively before any attack is carried out.
"Anyone being a member or anyone recruiting others to be members... may face a minimum two years and maximum seven years jail term," according to the draft Bill. "Founders, leaders, officials, or anyone controlling the organisation face a minimum three and maximum 12 years."
The draft Bill also makes it an offence for citizens to join a militant group overseas such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and widens the range of firearms to include chemical, biological, radiological, micro-organism, nuclear and radioactive weapons.
It also penalises anyone involved in the sale of any potentially explosive substances, chemical and biological weapons, among others, that could be used in a terror attack or are proven to have been used in an attack.
Another clause mandates Tentara Nasional Indonesia the armed forces to be roped in to help police fight terrorism. It, however, leaves the details to be stipulated by a presidential regulation that must be issued within a year after the Bill is passed into law.
Clause 34A allows any witness in a terrorism trial to testify via a video conference. This is a breakthrough in the outdated Indonesian witness management system, which currently requires witnesses to appear in court physically.
Prosecutors have had problems getting important witnesses to testify or talk openly especially followers of influential terrorist ideologues who are facing trial.
Indonesia's current anti-terrorism law, enacted in 2003 following the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, can punish anyone who plans or launches an attack, or assists and funds any planned attack.
However, it falls short of extending punishment to anyone pledging support or being a member of groups such as the ISIS-inspired Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which played a role in inciting suicide bombers behind the Surabaya church attacks.
This has been a bugbear for the police, often hampering their ability to put terrorists behind bars or prevent terror suspects from carrying out attacks.
Clause 36A of the revised law also stipulates that victims of terror attacks are entitled to be indemnified by the corresponding terrorists or their families.
Failure to pay compensation the amount of which is to be decided by state prosecutors will result in terrorists getting an additional prison sentence of one to four years.
The government will also be required to guarantee the welfare of terror attack victims and their families if they lose their breadwinner. The assistance must include medical treatment, psychosocial and psychological rehabilitation and money for families who lose their loved ones.
Ardian Fanani, Banyuwangi Two rogue members of the Banyuwangi Regional House of Representatives (DPRD), Naufal Baderi and Basuki Rahmat, have been detained by airport security police for allegedly joking about a bomb in another passenger's bag.
"We detained two people. Rogue legislators who it is alleged [joked about] a bomb", Rogojampi sectoral police chief Police Commander Suharyono told Detik.com on Wednesday May 23.
According to Suharyono, the incident occurred at 12.45pm when Rachmad [sic], who is also the chair of the Banyuwangi People's Conscience Party (Hanura) executive board, entered the security screening area. After being declared "clear", he then approached another passenger, also a legislator, Marifatul Kamila.
"During the security check Basuki said that there were explosives in Mrs. Rifa's [Kamila's] suitcase. When questioned about this by security staff, the rogue legislator insisted that there was a bomb. When reprimanded by staff, he became angry", Suharyono said.
Unwilling to accept this, the officer then coordinated with Garuda Airlines security personnel to hold Basuki in the waiting lounge. But during the boarding process, Basuki entered the gate and sat down on the airport shuttle bus.
"Airline security personnel asked him to alight from the bus and return to the waiting lounge. The rogue refused and the passenger subsequently tried to get on the plane. [Then] as the passenger was about to get into the plane, a colleague of the passenger named Nouval [sic] Baderi [from the Greater Indonesia Movement Party, Gerindra] told the cabin crew that the bag he was carrying contained a bomb", he added.
Aviation security (Avsec) accompanied by a police officer subsequently asked Basuki and Baderi to alight from the plane which was then declared clear for takeoff.
"The two passengers were taken off the plane and taken to the Avsec security post and finally handed over to the national police", he concluded. (fat/fat)
According to another Detik article on the incident, when first questioned about his comments by security personnel, an angry Rahmat threatened to kick the security officer. Note that the original article used two different spellings for the names of the passengers concerned.
Jakarta A top leader of the Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR) has denied that the group made demands for Idul Fitri donations from residents, despite a letter with its stamp having been widely circulated online.
FBR North Jakarta branch coordinator Yusriah Dzinun claimed that he knew nothing about the letter.
"Not at all. I have never issued such a letter. I have no clue and i will ask other members about it," he told kompas.com on Saturday, adding that there was no such instruction from the organization to ask for donations from residents.
The letter was widely circulated on WhatsApp. It demanded that residents of Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta donate money for Idul Fitri. (Fac)
A week into Ramadan, we had hope that this year would be different in that there would be no news of self-proclaimed religious vigilantes "sweeping" businesses, (i.e. forcefully imposing their arguably wayward, ultra-conservative interpretation of the holy fasting month on others) as has been the case in every year past.
Unfortunately, this year is no different.
On Monday, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) carried out a sweep on a garment factory in the regency of Sukabumi, West Java, with the goal of ensuring that the factory workers were able to observe religious worship during the holy month.
Specifically, according to Novel Bamukmin (who was recently demoted by FPI and ordered not to make public statements, but here we are), FPI members were there to force the factory's management to let their workers leave by 3pm so that they could have iftar (breaking of the fast) at home.
"This is a way to give virtue to Ramadan for the workers in Sukabumi. This is so that they can carry out their worships without disturbances, and have enough time for iftar and be able to perform the taraweh (optional evening prayer during Ramadan)," Novel said yesterday, as quoted by Tirto.
Never mind the fact that Muslims are encouraged to carry out their daily routines (minus eating and drinking, among others) as usual during Ramadan since that is part of the holy month's test of faith. Even the regent of Sukabumi himself passed a regional regulation requiring the working day to end at 4:30pm during Ramadan. But FPI who have no legal authority were adamant about the 3pm rule.
"It's so we can avoid situations like crowded streets, which would disturb the activities of Muslims who want to break their fast," Novel said.
The factory rejected FPI's request, saying that they would only obey the government's regulations. Unhappy with the response, FPI members reportedly attacked people at the factory, injuring an HR manager and a driver working for the company before police came to diffuse the situation.
The police say they are interviewing witnesses but no arrests have been made.
FPI is one of the biggest perpetrators of vigilante sweeps like these in Indonesia, usually targeting nightlife venues during Ramadan or even raiding supermarkets to make sure Muslim employees aren't wearing Santa hats around Christmas.
A member of the Regional Council (DPRD) in Karawang, West Java, named Hitler Nababan (yes, that's his real name, so if you've ever doubted wondered whether anyone would name their kid after one of the worst people who ever lived, now you know) was attacked yesterday afternoon by a mob over a supposedly insulting meme featuring religious leaders.
According to reports, last month, Hitler shared a meme poking fun at Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader/fugitive Rizieq Shihab and Amien Rais, the former People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) chairman and a revered figure among contemporary conservative Islamic movements, to the Karawang DPRD Budgeting Body WhatsApp group.
The meme shows a cartoonish depiction of the Rizieq and Amien perched on a flying air compressor, to which Hitler commented, "spy plane."
On Monday, a screenshot of the group chat went viral after some journalists somehow acquired it. Hitler and the rest of the Democratic Party faction of the Karawang DPRD apologized to their peers from the National Mandate Party (PAN), an Islamic party which was co-founded by Amien Rais. However, the PAN politicians weren't so quick to accept Hitler and his party's apology.
"We deeply regret it because he (Hitler) is a DPRD member. It's inappropriate in my opinion to post something like that, especially as the picture is of someone many people respect and is a national figure, the former MPR chairman. Rizieq too [is respected]," said Bambang Maryono, head of the PAN faction of the Karawang Regional Representatives Council (DPD), as quoted by Kompas.
Yesterday afternoon, Hitler was scheduled to meet with angry Amien Rais/Rizieq Shihab supporters at the Karawang DPRD office. However, before Hitler could apologize to them, the mob charged at him and beat him up for a couple of minutes, footage of which have gone viral on social media.
Hitler was left with bruises and cuts all over his face and body, while the Karawang Police have arrested four suspected attackers. The police say they are still under investigation.
Despite being an assault victim, the police are also going to investigate Hitler for possible online defamation, which is a violation of Indonesia's Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE) and punishable by up to four years in prison.
"Whether or not there's an element of defamation in the spreading of the meme, we'll look into it," said Karawang Police Chief Slamet Waloya.
Not only that, Hitler may also face disciplinary sanctions from his party over the whole episode. He has yet to issue any statement regarding the attack.
Sarah Yuniarni, Jakarta The government must ensure the freedom of religion for its citizen, including for Ahmadiyah believers in Indonesia, as is guaranteed by the Constitution and international covenants.
A series of attacks on Ahmadiyah followers in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, this month has added to long-term persecution toward the worshipers for more than a decade in the predominantly Muslim nation.
On May 19, at least seven Ahmadiyah families, consisting of 24 people, were evacuated to the East Lombok Police headquarters after mobs from East Sakra subdistrict attacked and destroyed their houses in an effort to force them to leave their village.
The mobs damaged those victims' vehicles and belongings in several other locations in neighboring areas.
The following day at 6.30 a.m., mobs then continued attacking the property of Ahmadiyah followers in different locations, in the same subdistrict in West Nusa Tenggara's East Lombok. The attack was allegedly fueled by hatred against their religious belief. According to police, no fatalities were recorded.
The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) said the Ahmadiyah followers were forced to close down their mosques, when attackers attempted to break up and disturb their religious events as well as prayer sessions, and sexually harassed female Ahmadiyah followers.
Ahmadiyah followers have faced ongoing threats, discrimination and abuse for many years in Indonesia, especially after reforms in 1998. In West Nusa Tenggara, where many Ahmadiyah followers live, those attacks began in October 1998.
The conflict continued to escalate between 2005 to 2006 when mobs ousted some of the 90 Ahamadiyah followers from their homes, forcing them to seek refuge in Transito and Praya districts in Central Lombok.
They have been living in temporary housing in Transito and Praya due to the uncertainty of security and protection.
The violent attacks have occurred in other regions across the archipelago, such as in Cikeusik, Banten in 2011 as well as in Kuningan and Banten in West Java.
Muslim hardliners, including the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), had recommended that Ahmadiyah teachings should be banned as they diverge from fundamental Islamic principles.
The Ahmadis do not believe that the Prophet Muhammad is Islam's final prophet, but claim that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the final prophet and messiah. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is the founder of the sect.
The persecution mounted following the issuance of a controversial joint ministerial decree by then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, known as SBY, in 2008. The decree ordered the Ahmadiyah followers to stop spreading their teachings and conducting activities that deviate from the fundamental principles of Islam.
The decree also imposes up to five-year jail terms to anyone who propagates Ahmadiyah teachings.
Following the decree, hardline Muslims attacked 25 Ahmadiyah followers in Cikeusik, Banten, in February 2011, killing three and injuring five followers of the sect.
After Jokowi took office in 2014, the reported attacks against religious minorities were plummeting, but Human Rights Watch reported that at least seven Ahmadiyah mosques remained closed in Indonesia under the 2008 ministerial decree.
"The recurring attacks on Ahmadiyah communities by vigilante mobs in the region during the past decade are encouraged by the police's reluctance to stop and investigate perpetrators of past attacks, making attackers feel that they are above the law," said Amnesty International executive director Usman Hamid.
"Moreover, such acts are no doubt encouraged by discriminatory legislation as well as repressive measures taken against the Ahmadiyah by the authorities themselves, such as the closure of mosques. This discrimination and impunity must stop," Usman added.
Komnas Perempuan, along with civil group Amnesty International, condemned the attack on dozens of Ahmadiyah followers in West Nusa Tenggara recently.
"Although Ahmadiyah followers had been reporting that there is an indication of violence and attack by mobs to National Police since March, the authorities still have yet to prevent the religious intolerance conflicts," Komnas Perempuan said in a statement on May 21.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International said that the rights of Ahmadiyah followers to hold and manifest their religious beliefs is not recognized by law, which deems their beliefs as "deviant," a violation of international law.
"This brutal act is a clear abuse of the human right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion as it was in all likelihood motivated by hatred against the Ahmadiyah community due to their belief," Usman said in a statement on May 20.
"The authorities must protect Ahmadiyah members' right to freely and safely manifest their religious beliefs. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion in Indonesia, a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which protects this right at all times," Usman said.
Usman said the authorities must ensure that all such attacks are stopped and the incident is investigated thoroughly, while perpetrators will be brought to justice.
"The authorities must ensure that any damage to property is repaired or compensated for and that members of the Ahmadiyah community are allowed back to their homes and neighborhood as soon as repairs are completed. Police must guarantee the safety of members of the Ahmadiyah community much more efficiently from now on," said Usman.
"The ill-treatment against religious minorities has a significant impact on women's lives. Although male victims also suffered from the persecution, women are more prone to violence due to their role as wives, mothers, and also the member of society," Komnas Perempuan said.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta A former critic of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo who now works at the State Palace claims that Muslims must not insult the government as it is "a representation of God on earth."
Ali Mochtar Ngabalin, who joined the Golkar Party after failing to clinch the leadership of the Islamist Crescent Star Party (PBB) in 2010, said the government needed strong support, particularly from the Muslim community as the largest religious group.
He said: "The government, from a religious perspective, should not be slandered [or] insulted. According to the Quran, the Gospel, the Torah and the Psalms, the government is a representation of God on earth."
Ali, who is also known as a Muslim preacher, was a member of Prabowo Subianto's campaign team during the 2014 presidential election, during which he urged God to side with Prabowo and give him victory.
He was recently appointed as an expert staffer for political communication and information dissemination at the office of Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko.
According to media reports, Ali claimed to have been tasked with serving as a "government mouthpiece" and combating fake news about the government.
His appointment to the Presidential Office is widely seen as an attempt by Jokowi to mend relations between the President and Muslim constituents in urban areas, many of whom are believed to be susceptible to a barrage of fake news about Jokowi and his administration.
Jokowi is seeking re-election in the 2019 election and is likely to face Prabowo for a second time.
Ali seemed to confirm this, saying his background as chairman of the Coordinating Body of Indonesian Muslim Preachers (Bakomubin) and former chairman of the Coordinating Body of Mosque Youth would help him in his new position at the State Palace.
"I have the obligation to tell [the Muslim community] that this government is good, and this government has a noble mission, as a representation of God on earth." (ahw)
Jakarta Thousands of Buddhists flocked to the Ekayana Arama temple in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta, on Tuesday morning. They came to pray, sing and observe sacred rituals to celebrate Buddha's birth, which is celebrated as Vesak Day.
The temple's representative, Arama Husen Danawira, said the celebration proceeded peacefully.
"We've always been supported by personnel from the police and military. They guarded the temple's indoor and outdoor areas," Husen said as reported by kompas.com.
The temple chose "Harmony in Diversity for the Nation" as it theme for the 2,562th Vesak celebration this year.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan also paid an impromptu visit to the temple.
Amid the festivity, the leader of the temple, Monk Aryamaitri Mahasthawira, gave Anies a red scarf called the scarf of blessings.
"Keep on making the Ekayana Arama temple a source of love and happiness for all humankind," Anies told the congregation, according to tempo.co. (vla)
While the vast majority of Muslims in Indonesia fast during the holy month of Ramadan, it is obviously not legally required for them to do so but a personal choice based upon their faith.
However, in some particularly conservative parts of the country, restaurants are ordered by their local governments to shut down during daylight hours out of "respect" for those who are fasting.
Such an order was issued once again by the mayor of Padang, the capital city of West Sumatra, for Ramadan this year. Yesterday, the city's Civil Service Police (Satpol PP) performed raids on some warung makan (small, informal restaurants) that they suspected of being open during the day and documented their efforts as a warning to others.
As noted in the top of the press release about the raids posted alongside a video on the Satpol PP Padang's official Facebook page, the raids targeted "Warung Kelambu" literally meaning curtained warungs but used to describe those that secretly remain open during Ramadan for disobeying the mayor's Ramadan regulations circular.
"According to points five and six (of the mayor's circular) it is clearly written that all restaurant and restaurant business owners, as well as warungs, cafes and similar businesses, must honor the holy month of Ramadan by not opening their business during the daytime. To all religious people that want to maintain harmony and tolerance between religious people, you are asked to respect and appreciate (the regulations)," Satpol PP Padang chief Yadrison said according to the statement.
Yadrison said that the day before the raids, his officers had already issued warnings and tried to persuade the owners of those warungs found to be open during the day to close down.
He said that the owner of one restaurant on Jalan Nipah that had been previously warned was found to be open when raided yesterday. Because of that, he said that officers confiscated a number of items from the warung including rice, stoves and gas cylinders.
Yadrison said the owner could get the items back if they signed a form and promised not to open up again during the day.
Apparently Padang has been dealing with the "negative tradition" of Warung Kelambu for some time. Here's a new report about Satpol PP in Padang performing raids on warungs last Ramadan.
Similar raids by Satpol PP in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, were also carried out this week, with three warungs and one home seller found to be selling food and drinks during the day having their goods and cooking equipment confiscated. Police there said the owners would need to pay a IDR500,000 (US$35) fine to have their goods released.
These raids often do not go over well. Last year one hot-headed warung owner in Riau threw sambal at a Satpol PP officer conducting a raid on his stall.
In 2016, Satpol PP officers raided a warung in the city of Serang, Banten. The raid was filmed by the media, and images of the warung owner, an old lady, crying while the officers confiscated her food became the talk of the nation.
The public donated a large amount of money for the lady, and even President Joko Widodo personally donated IDR10 million (US$708) to her.
Despite that outcry, regulations against Ramadan restaurant openings remain in effect in many parts of the country, and every year warung owners choose not to follow them because that's how great their economic need is.
Plus, there are still plenty of people in those cities who might want to eat during the day, including non-Muslims and the many Muslims who have totally valid reasons for not fasting. Why can't their rights be respected?
Jakarta (Bisnis.com) The government has called on the public to spend their Eid holiday bonus or THR in a bid to boost economic growth.
Adriyanto, the head of the Center for Macroeconomic Policy at the Finance Ministry's Fiscal Policy Agency (BKF), said the economic growth is highly dependent on household consumption, especially during Ramadan.
"Hence, people should spend their Eid holiday bonuses to boost consumption," he said on Thursday, May 31.
Earlier, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati projected the economic growth in 2018 would stand somewhere between 5.17% and 5.4%.
Jakarta Jakarta residents are being advised to ignore any Idul Fitri holiday bonus (THR) demands from mass organizations.
Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH) lawyer Aprilia Lisa Tangker said residents were not obliged to give the THR to any mass organizations because the law on bonuses only applied to companies.
"Mass organizations can't ask for the THR because they are not employees and can't represent one," Aprilia told The Jakarta Post on Monday. "The THR is the obligation of employers and the right of employees," Aprilia said.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan urged residents to report any mass organization that demanded the THR to the police.
"What is important is that there is no implicit threat when demanding the THR. If they insist, just report them [to the police]," Anies said on Monday. Anies also urged mass organizations to refrain from asking for the THR.
A letter reportedly from the Betawi Brotherhood Forum's (FBR) Kelapa Gading chapter in North Jakarta was widely circulated on WhatsApp. It demanded that residents of Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta donate money for Idul Fitri.
FBR North Jakarta branch coordinator Yusriah Dzinun denied that the group made demands for Idul Fitri donations from residents and that he knew nothing about the letter. (ami/wit)
Jakarta Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the significant increase of the Idul Fitri Holiday bonus for civil servants, military personnel, police officers and pensioners would increase consumption, particularly in middle-class households.
She said in Jakarta on Thursday that the government had tried to improve purchasing power for low-income families through several social programs, including village-fund and non-cash assistance known as the Family Hope Program (PKH).
"[The holiday bonus] for the middle class is expected to trigger [consumption]," Sri Mulyani said at the office of the Economic Coordinating Minister as reported by kontan.co.id.
The government has allocated Rp 35.76 trillion (US$2.5 billion) for holiday bonuses and 13th salaries, up by 68.9 percent from last year's figure.
Sri Mulyani said the disbursement of both bonuses and social assistance was expected to push up consumption growth in the second quarter of 2018. In the first quarter, consumption grew by 4.95 percent year-on-year (yoy).
She said, however, that her ministry had not estimated the impact of the bonuses and social assistance on consumption growth. "We have not made any calculation, but I hope that consumption will grow higher than in the first quarter," she added.
Sri Mulyani said all working units were now preparing documents related to the Finance Ministerial Regulation on holiday bonuses for the disbursement. (bbn)
Suherdjoko, Semarang, Central Java More motorcyclists will hit the road this Idul Fitri holiday, discouraged by a shortage of public transportation, says an expert.
Transportation expert Djoko Setijowarno of Soegijapranata Catholic University in Semarang, Central Java, said on Tuesday it was estimated that 6.39 million people would travel home by motorcycle during Idul Fitri.
During this holiday season, roughly 9.51 million holiday travelers would pass through Central Java on their way to their hometowns, according to the result of a coordination meeting held by the Central Java administration at the beginning of May.
This figure shows a 15.9 percent increase from 8.20 million motorcyclists recorded during Idul Fitri last year.
"This year, the government has provided free homebound travel services for 39,446 motorcycles via trucks, ships and Roll-on Roll-off (Roro) ferries. It increased by 106 percent from 19,148 during Idul Fitri last year," said Djoko.
Unfortunately, free Idul Fitri ride services provided by the government for motorcyclists account for less than one percent of the total travelers. The biggest subsidy is for sea travel, which amounts to Rp 1.2 million (US$84.54) per motorcycle.
"It will be difficult for us to call on travelers, who are returning to their hometowns, to use public transportation instead of motorcycles. This is because public transportation in their hometowns is rare. Even if they can find it, many are far from roadworthy," said Djoko.
"Don't imagine that in their hometowns public transportation is similar to Jakarta's, which has commuter trains and Transjakarta that is not only cheap, but also comfortable and air conditioned." (hol/ebf)
Jakarta Ahead of the Idul Fitri exodus, Jakarta Transportation Agency officials have carried out roadworthy tests on 97 intercity buses at Kalideres bus station, West Jakarta, with only 22 having passed the test.
"The 75 buses that failed the test are not allowed to operate for safety reasons. They don't have emergency safety triangles, emergency hammers or a first aid kit," bus station head Revi Zulkarnain said on Tuesday as quoted by kompas.com.
A vehicle is considered roadworthy if it has a complete set of administrative documents and meets technical specifications.
The bus station's management, Revi added, had given the bus owners a deadline of a week prior to Idul Fitri to obtain the required safety tools. "They'll be grounded should they fail to fulfill the requirements," Revi said.
Dozens of other buses are slated to undergo the test at Kalideres bus station until June 7. (vla)
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced on Wednesday that the government had agreed to increase Idul Fitri holiday bonuses for civil servants, military and police personnel through a newly signed government regulation, which stipulates that retirees living on pension funds will also receive the bonuses.
Previously, state apparatuses received government-provided holiday bonuses of the same amount as their monthly base salary. Signed by President Jokowi on Wednesday, the regulation increases the bonuses by including several allowances, including family and work performance allowances.
"Civil servants will thus receive holiday bonuses in the amount that is close to their take-home pay for a month [...] Another difference this year is that retirees will also receive a holiday bonus," Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Wednesday.
Until now, retired state apparatuses had not received holiday bonuses, but only the 13th month salary. Their holiday bonus will include their monthly base pension funds and allowances.
State apparatuses will also get their 13th salary, which comprise not only their monthly base salary but also includes general allowance, family allowance, job position allowance and work performance allowance.
Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Asman Abnur said the retirees, which comprised over 2 million people, were now given holiday bonuses as a token of appreciation for their performance during their active years.
According to Sri Mulyani, the government has allocated Rp 35.76 trillion (US$2.5 billion) for holiday bonuses and 13th month salaries in the 2017 law on the 2018 state budget, up by 68.9 percent from last year. (ebf)
A pornographic video clip showing a man who many online have alleged to look like Aryo Djojohadikusumo, a member of Indonesia's House of Representatives (DPR) and the nephew of Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto, recently went viral online.
Although the allegation has been flatly denied by other Gerindra members, the national police and the parliament's ethics board have said they'd investigate the video.
National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. M. Iqbal said authorities would first do an initial inquiry into the video's origins and whether the maker and distributor of the clip broke any Indonesian laws.
"If there is sufficient evidence to commit a crime, we will initiate the investigation process," Iqbal said as quoted by Detik. He said the police would trace the clip's original poster and find out what their reason was for doing so.
A member of the DPR's Ethics Council (MKD), Muslim Ayub said that although they had not yet received an official report regarding the pornographic clip, it was within the MKD's purview to examine the video as well. He added that such an examination would start with a telematics expert examining the origins and veracity of the video.
Gerindra Executive Council Chairperson Habiburokhman dismissed allegations that the man in the video looked like Aryo. "I've read a lot... this has been questioned by some journalists as well. This is a recycled issue, if I am not wrong the last one was in April of 2017," Habiburokhman said.
He was not wrong. Aryo was caught up in a similar scandal in April 2017 when a photo of a man with two naked women was also linked to him. That photo was also dismissed by Gerindra, Habiburokhman explaining that it was part of a black campaign against the party in the wake of Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan's then-recent election victory. Despite the allegation the photo was maliciously engineered, Gerindra chose not to report it to the police for investigation.
Aryo Djojohadikusumo has not yet made any statement himself about the new video and has reportedly been uncontactable, at least by the media, thus far today.
Under Indonesia's harsh pornography laws, those found guilty of producing pornographic materials or committing pornographic acts can be jailed for up to 15 years. It has been used against members of Indonesia's oppressed LGBT community as well as fugitive Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) founder Rizieq Shihab (who ironically helped get those pornography laws passed).
Jakarta The Communications and Information Ministry has said it has blocked at least 3,195 radical postings on social media since May 21 that were identified by its artificial intelligence (AI) software.
"We have found and blocked around 3,195 postings that contained [radical and terrorist content] on several media social platforms," the ministry's information and public policy director general, Rosarita Niken Widiastuti, said on Wednesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
With 53 percent of the Indonesian population, or around 143 million citizens, having internet access, social media has become one of the key tools in accelerating the spread of radicalism and terrorism.
"Social media has been widely used by radical groups to spread their ideology faster," said Niken.
She also expressed a concern that members of the younger generation that were exposed to widespread radical content would end up subscribing to extremist ideologies.
"Let us use social media to deliver positive materials so the nation's energy will not be wasted on only taking care of negative content," she said.
The ministry has also deployed its AI software to crack down on websites containing fake news. The digital tool is expected to help the government curb the spread of hoaxes and false information ahead of the regional elections on June 27, which will be held simultaneously in 171 provinces, regencies and cities. (hol/dmr)
While most Muslims see the holy month of Ramadan as a time of peace and reflecting on their own personal relationship with their faith, some in Indonesia use it as a justification to police the morality of others and harass those they judge as immoral.
On Friday, members from some Islamic civil society groups (or mass organizations aka ormas, as they are referred to here), including the infamous Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), went around the area of Cilaku in Cianjur, West Java, accompanied by police officers doing what the Cianjur police chief described as a "dialogical patrol".
"The report that I received from the Cilaku Police is that, at that time, the members are conducting a dialogical patrol anticipating disruptions to order and safety such as firecrackers, alcohol and sweeping warungs (food stalls) that open during the day (during Ramadan)," Cianjur Police Chief Soliyah told Detik on Saturday.
But the ormas targeted more than just that. This Facebook post from a local FPI supporter says, "FPI Cianjur sweeping warungs that are open during the day, Muslim or non-Muslim must respect Muslims who are fasting and raid places that are hiding bencong (a pejorative Indonesian term for transwomen) in Cianjur."
The video starts with a large group of ormas members physically restraining an older transwoman that they have come across during their patrol. They then surround and start harassing another transwoman and force their way into the building in which the two live along with some others.
There is much shouting as the ormas members then force the building's other occupants outside and scream at them to squat by the wall and listen as one of them preaches to them.
"This reprimand is from the conscious God. I ask, do you want to go to hell or to heaven? If you want to go to heaven then as men you must become men," the preacher says.
The four transwomen are then forced to repeat a pledge saying that they will no longer dress like women. The ormas members then tell them that they are allowed to sing but that they are not allowed to dress femininely. "Go ahead and sing, but wear macho outfits so that nobody will be attracted," one orders.
After some more preaching, the video ends with the ormas members pouring water on the transwomens' faces so that they can wash off their feminine makeup before they finally leave.
Cianjur Police Chief Soliyah confirmed that police officers accompanied FPI and other ormas on the raid, including the incident with the transwomen, but insisted that they did not engage in any anarchic behavior and that the police presence had ensured that the situation remained "safe and conducive".
Being transgender is not a crime in Indonesia. But there are laws against forcibly restraining individuals, trespassing in their homes and harassing them. However FPI and other the country's other self-appointed moral vigilantes are routinely allowed to violate such laws, often, as in this case, with the tacit approval of the police.
Despite it not being illegal, in the midst of Indonesia's ongoing LGBT moral panic, being transgender is dangerous. In January, police in sharia-enforcing Aceh detained and publicly humiliated a group of transgender women (known in Indonesia as waria, a portmanteau of the words for woman and man). Also earlier this year, the social services agency of Jakarta was found to be targeting transwomen and unjustly detaining them for having "social dysfunctions".
One might hope that, given the recent terrorist attacks Indonesia has endured, more people might begin to wonder if religious extremism actually poses a far greater threat to the country then. say, the made-up dangers of LGBT and communism, and would thus refocus their efforts in battling that instead. But here we are.
Jakarta Islamic organizations should make their own list of moderate preachers to promote religious moderation, a renowned Muslim scholar has said following the Religious Affairs Ministry's release of a similar document.
"The Indonesian Ulema Council [MUI] or other Islamic organizations should make their list, and they should cooperate with Islamic universities in making the list so that the names on it could be academically assessed," Azyumardi Azra of the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta said as quoted by tempo.co.
He said the preachers should meet certain standards and such requirements were needed to prevent provocative preaching.
Preachers in countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Egypt, he added, must be licensed to give a sermon. "Indonesian preachers do not have to obtain a permit, but the freedom is often misused," he said.
The list of moderate preachers released by the Religious Affairs Ministry has stirred public debate, but the ministry defended the move, saying that those who were included had met a series of criteria.
According to Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saefuddin, the list was made to cater to the public's demand for moderate preachers.
There are three criteria for moderate preachers, according to the ministry, namely competency in understanding Islamic teachings, experience in preaching and a commitment to preserving the nation's values of unity. The minister assured that there was not political motive behind the list. (gis/ahw)
Monica Arum, Jakarta It is no easy thing to take the story of Pramoedya Ananta Toer's "This Earth of Mankind" from a novel and put it on the big screen. Screenwriter Salman Aristo says that the writing the script has become the most challenging point.
Yet this is not the first or second such experience for the man who is known by his friends as Aris. He has already written scripts for almost 20 films and not a few of these have left a deep impression. "The Dancer" (Sang Penari) is one such film.
"As a literary work, it is very challenging indeed to turn it into a film. Adapting it has indeed been perplexing, for me it has been a big struggle. I have gone through many debates since I began work on it", said Aristo during a visit to the "This Earth of Mankind" set in Sleman, Yogyakarta.
The debates have among others come from director Hanung Bramantyo. And not without reason, because writing the script has proven to be no easy task.
There is a huge span of time that has to be transcended in taking a story about social life under Dutch colonial subjection during the 1900s era to now.
"Hanung very much wants it to be adapted to appeal to the millennial generation. In the end there is one thing for me, I want to celebrate Pramoedya Ananta Toer in this time. Because he has never been celebrated in an audio-visual format", explained the screenwriter.
Not just basing it on the novel, the screenwriter of the film "Garuda in My Heart" (Garuda di Dadaku) is also using other books as a reference in order strengthen the story he is writing. Namely, Max Lane's book "Indonesia is not Present on This Earth of Mankind" (Indonesia Tidak Hadir di Bumi Manusia).
The film has become a huge project for the man who also wrote the script for the film "Crescent Moon" (Mencari Hilal). For Salman, if his script proves a success it will demonstrate his love for Indonesia.
"It is an extraordinary blessing that [writing] this film [script] has fallen to me. A great challenge for myself personally. It is one of the stories that will determine my becoming an Indonesian, to adapt this perfectly", he said. (doc/tia)
Jakarta The Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) gave an unqualified opinion on Jakarta's 2017 financial report on Monday the first one in four years.
A wajar tanpa pengecualian (unqualified opinion or also known as WTP) is the best audit grade given by the agency to a government institution.
"Based on the BPK's audit on the Jakarta administration's 2017 [financial report], including the implementation of the administration's plans, it granted the unqualified opinion to the administration," BPK member Isma Yatun said during a plenary meeting at City Hall, as quoted by kompas.com.
Despite a transparent budget that had been implemented by then-governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and his deputy, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, the administration had failed to achieve a clean status for its financial reports since 2013.
The agency cited irregularities in several asset procurements as the reasons for giving a qualified opinion on Jakarta's financial reports in the previous four years.
The BPK found inflated prices over the purchase of a plot of land in West Jakarta that belonged to the Sumber Waras Foundation. The administration had planned to build a city-owned cancer hospital in the area.
Ahok also did not succeed in fixing the financial report when he replaced Jokowi, who was elected president in 2014.
Despite the clean status, Isma said the audit agency still found several problems in the 2017 financial report, including school and educational operational funds, as well as construction projects.
She said the BPK gave the administration 60 days after receiving the full audit report to follow up on the agency's recommendations and requested that the administration improved the management of its budget. (ami/wit)
Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta The Save Jakarta Bay Coalition (KSTJ), which strongly rejects the Jakarta Bay reclamation project due to the environmental damages it has caused, requested the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) to legally revoke a right-to-build permit (HGB) issued for man-made Islet D during the first hearing of the trial on Monday.
The lawsuit was filed by the KTSJ which is made up of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, the Indonesian Traditional Fishermen Association and the People's Coalition for Fisheries Justice against North Jakarta Agrarian Agency head Kasten Situmorang who had granted the islet's developer, PT Kapuk Naga Indah, the HGB under Decision Letter No. 1697/HGB/BPN-09.05/2017.
The coalition's legal representative, the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), said there were procedural and substantial defects in the issuance of the HGB.
LBH Jakarta's Nelson Nikodemus Simamora said the HGB was contrary to the 2030 Jakarta spatial plan and was issued before the city even completed two bylaws on the Jakarta North Coast Strategic Area Spatial Planning and the Zoning Plan on Coastal Areas and Small Islands.
These are only two among 14 reasons provided by the coalition at the PTUN to urge the court to revoke the HGB.
"We hope the judges at the PTUN will legally revoke the HGB," Nelson said in a statement. "Jakarta Bay must be returned to Jakarta's residents because the reclamation will only damage the environment," he added. (wit)
Jakarta The Jakarta administration has decided to postpone the zero down-payment housing program until it completes a guide that will comprehensively explain the program to applicants.
Previously, the Jakarta administration said residents could start booking the apartments under the scheme in April. However, it has yet to conclude the regulations on the program.
Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno said the guide was needed because the information about the program had been distorted.
The city administration earlier instructed the Jakarta Public Housing Agency to communicate about the guide with city-owned enterprises Bank DKI, PD Sarana Jaya Pembangunan, PT Jakarta Propertindo (Jakpro) and PD Pasar Jaya.
On April 25, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan asked the related agencies to hire communications consultants to help them explain the program to applicants.
"I want to launch the program as soon as possible, but we don't want to rush and make a mistake," Sandiaga said on Thursday as quoted by tempo.co.
Sandiaga added he hoped the book would use simple language so all applicants could understand the program.
The Jakarta administration launched the zero down-payment housing program in Pondok Kelapa, East Jakarta, in January to provide affordable housing for low-income families.
Anies assured that the houses would be made available for those with salaries under Rp 7 million (US$494.50) per month. (cal)
John McBeth, Jakarta Jakartans are looking forward with a measure of trepidation to the August-September Asian Games and the impact visiting athletes and fans will have on the Indonesian capital's already overstretched transport infrastructure.
The same problem will face Bali five weeks later when a whopping 17,500 less-sporting delegates descend on the resort island for the annual International Monetary Fund (IMF)-World Bank (WB) meetings amid a heavy security detail.
Both would in theory present a potential image boost for President Joko Widodo, just six months out from the April 2019 presidential and legislative elections where he will seek to win a second term on the back of already high-flying opinion poll ratings.
They could instead have the opposite effect if the showcase events are weighed down by gridlock and poor planning.
Although the 18th Asian Games, to be staged from August 18-September 2, is being shared with the South Sumatra capital of Palembang, many of the 40 sporting events are to be held at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex, conveniently or perhaps inconveniently located in the heart of Jakarta.
Named after founding president Sukarno, the complex was built for the 1962 Asian Games when the city was a very different place, one virtually devoid of cars and motorcycles and the 3.5 million people who now commute in traffic of epic proportions into the downtown area from outlying suburbs each day.
The early 1960s was also a very different era. The facilities were built with a soft US$12.5 million loan from the Soviet Union, Sukarno's Cold War ally who also supplied most of the Indonesian military's hardware and the muscular Stalinist statutory still in evidence across the capital.
The Gelora complex includes the refurbished 76,000-seat National Stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies and boasts an aquatic center, tennis courts, indoor venues for badminton and basketball, and hockey, baseball and football fields.
But while it may have been an ideal location four decades ago, the 18th Asiad is taking place when Jakarta still resembles a giant construction site as work proceeds across the city on new mass rail transit (MRT) and light rail transit (LRT) systems and elevated roads.
The Asian Games chief organizer, Erick Thohir, acknowledges in public presentations that transport remains his biggest worry, with thought being given to halting construction work and even declaring a school holiday during the length of the August 18-September 2 sports festival.
Thohir, 47, a businessman and owner of the Inter Milan and DC United football clubs, was brought into the job in 2015 in an effort to keep spending down to the current US$479 million; his elder brother, Garibaldi, is chief executive of Adaro Energy, a major coal miner and power developer.
Scrapping plans for an Asian youth games, renovating instead of replacing the existing venues and attracting more sponsorship has allowed Thohir to cut 25% from the original cost. But it still leaves him with the headache of moving athletes and fans around.
In Jakarta, local residents already have some idea of the looming chaos from their experience with unruly football fans who pack the stadium for regular club matches and are prone to violence when they spill out onto surrounding streets during the evening rush hour.
The attendance record for one match in 1985 was 150,000, twice the stadium's capacity. How they all fitted in remains a mystery, but the latest refurbishment work has done away with the previous wooden benches in favor of individual seating.
Thohir believes cancelling school classes and adjusting office working hours will help reduce congestion by a targeted 20%-30%, with Asian Games vehicles being allowed to use existing Transjakarta busway lanes to transport athletes to and from venues.
The organizing committee has set 34 minutes as the maximum time for participants to travel between the athletes' village in northern Kemayoran and the Bung Karno complex, which will take them through two of the city's busiest thoroughfares. Gradually turning into a traffic nightmare itself, Bali has additional concerns as it prepares for the IMF-WB conference, which is being held in the 350-hectare enclave of Nusa Dua at the southern end of the island.
Connected to the airport by a cross-water expressway, originally built for the 2013 Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) conference, what makes Nusa Dua ideal is that security forces can restrict land access to the hotels that will accommodate the delegates.
As many as 15 heads of state are expected at the financial summit, with a small fleet of limousines set aside for each of them and two vehicles assigned to each of the ministers and central bank governors.
A football field, lying between Nusa Dua and neighboring Jimbaran, is the only authorized area where anti-globalization protestors a usual feature at these extravaganzas can gather to air their grievances.
Organizers say because they booked long in advance about 20% of the rooms in the island's more than 20 luxury resorts will still be occupied by non-meeting tourists who may discover the presence of heavily-armed soldiers doesn't make for a relaxing vacation.
In fact, more than 8,000 soldiers and policemen, including members of the elite Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus), are being mobilized to safeguard the summit, along with two navy frigates that will be anchored offshore to secure the sea approaches.
The IMF-World Bank talkfest is not offering medals, but for putting up with the traffic congestion Indonesians are hoping their athletes will reward them by performing a lot better at the Asian Games after finishing in a dismal 17th place at the last spectacle in Incheon, South Korea in 2014.
It may be no coincidence that Indonesia's best-ever finish was at the 1962 Asiad when it finished second behind Japan with 11 gold, 12 silver and 21 bronze. But since then it has climbed no higher than sixth place and in 2006 slumped to a lackluster 22nd out of 45 participating nations.
Historically, it has won 203 medals (12 gold, 60 silver and 95 bronze), well behind its three closest Southeast Asian rivals, Thailand (513), the Philippines (390) and Malaysia (276). Now it remains to be seen whether home-field advantage works to its favor again, 56 years later.
Jakarta The Indonesian Retailers Association (Aprindo) has projected that retail sales will increase by 20 percent when the country hosts the Asian Games from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 in Jakarta and the South Sumatran capital of Palembang.
"Our estimation is that sales during the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang will be up by between 15 and 20 percent," Aprindo chairman Fernando Repi said in Jakarta on Wednesday as reported by kompas.com.
However, he said retailers were disappointed as the government had not involved retail businesses in promoting the event.
He said the association members expressed their readiness to promote the event in all shopping centers and other outlets to ensure that the people were aware that the country was hosting the greatest sports event in Asia.
He said retailers could display banners and other promotional equipment in their outlets if the government wanted to get them involved in the event.
"We of course hope that the brands will display their promotion in our outlets. But we can also display banners if the government tells us to do so. We are ready to support," he added.
Previously, the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) estimated that the total spending by the people during the Asian Games would be about Rp 3.6 trillion (US$253.44 million) Rp 2.5 trillion in Jakarta and Rp 1.1 trillion in Palembang.
"About 80 percent of the spending will come from the spectators of the games, 4.67 percent from athletes, 3.96 percent from journalists, 2.34 percent from officials and 0.77 percent from volunteers," said Bappenas head Bambang Brodjonegoro in April. (bbn)
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has inaugurated Admiral Siwi Sukma Adji as the new Navy chief of staff, replacing retiring Admiral Ade Supandi, whose tenure ends on June. 1.
Siwi was sworn in at the State Palace on Wednesday. Jokowi had upgraded Siwi's military rank from that of a three-star vice admiral to a four- star admiral, making the 56-year-old eligible for the post.
Siwi, a 1985 Navy Academy graduate, was formerly chief of the Indonesian Military (TNI) Academy. He has also served several strategic positions, including chief of the Navy's Western Fleet, which oversees security in the Malacca Strait and South China.
He was among five three-star generals recommended for promotion by TNI commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto.
The others included Navy deputy chief of staff Vice Adm. Achmad Taufiqoerrochman, TNI chief of general staff Vice Adm. Didit Herdiawan Ashaf, Maritime Security Board (Bakamla) chief Vice Adm. Arie Soedewo and the military's Staff and Command School's (Sesko) head Lt. Gen. (Mar) RM Trusono. (ebf)
Bernadette Christina Munthe, Fergus Jensen, Jakarta A state audit of operations at Indonesia's Grasberg mine has cast a cloud over the government's multi-billion-dollar deal to take a majority stake in the mine from Freeport McMoRan Inc and its partner Rio Tinto, according to government and company officials.
In April, in follow-up action to the audit, the environment minister issued two decrees that gave Freeport six months to overhaul management of its mine waste, or tailings, at Grasberg, the world's second-biggest copper mine. One of the decrees said Freeport would be barred from any activities in areas that lack environmental permits.
And there may be more troubles to come for the Phoenix, Arizona-based company as the government has so far acted on only a part of the 2017 report by Indonesia's Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) on Freeport's decades-long operations at the mine in Indonesia's remote easternmost province of Papua.
A letter from Freeport CEO Richard Adkerson to the environment ministry, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters, said the decrees imposed "undue and unachievable restrictions" on Freeport's basic operations.
In a separate letter to the government, quoted by Tempo magazine, Adkerson said: "I am deeply concerned that these actions have the potential to derail the progress that all of us have worked so hard to achieve."
Freeport officials declined to comment on the letters. Officials at the mining and environment ministries confirmed that letters from Adkerson were received, but did not provide detail on their contents.
In a call to analysts last month, Adkerson had played down the impact of the decrees. "This is a distraction, but you all know over time we have to deal with political issues, and this is one of them," he said.
"We don't see anything to interfere with our operations. The government needs and desires now to make sure that we continue to operate and they collect their taxes and royalties."
The biggest problem for both the government and the U.S. company may be the additional findings in the BPK report that are yet to be taken up. It asserted that Freeport caused environmental damage worth $13.25 billion, missed royalty payments, cleared thousands of hectares of protected forest and began mining underground without environmental clearance.
Pressure is mounting on the government to take more action.
Kardaya Warnika, an opposition party member who chairs parliament commission VII, which oversees the mining sector, said the government and parliament were both obligated to follow up on the audit findings.
If Freeport is found to have royalty shortfalls, "then they should pay," Warnika said.
Sonny Keraf, a former environment minister who led talks on Indonesia's 2009 mining law, said the government needs to follow up on the BPK report "comprehensively".
Indonesian state mining holding company PT Inalum is due to take over the majority stake in Grasberg under a long-heralded acquisition deal, which has to be completed by 2019.
Under the proposed transaction, Rio Tinto, which has a stake in Grasberg's output, would sell its interest to Inalum, which would be converted to equity.
Freeport, which would sell Inalum a further 9.36 percent stake, would see its current 90.64 percent holding in Grasberg diluted down to 49 percent, although it would remain the mine's operator.
Last week, Inalum CEO Budi Gunadi Sadikin told reporters discussions on the acquisition were being held up by "several" environmental issues. Freeport had "made breaches that need to be revised through the environmental audit," Sadikin said. "The biggest issue is the issue of tailings that has to be improved."
Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya told reporters on Wednesday she had met Adkerson for a three-hour meeting last week to discuss the decrees on the tailings. No decision was reached and the ministry will hold regular meetings to resolve the matter, although Freeport will meanwhile be allowed to continue to operate, she added.
But with Jakarta's political climate likely to get increasingly tense ahead of the 2019 presidential elections, the government may not be in a position to work out a compromise with the company, political analysts said.
While the BPK report's recommendations are not binding, they could be turned into political "ammunition to undermine" President Joko Widodo ahead of the election, said Achmad Sukarsono, an analyst at the Control Risks consultancy.
That would make it increasingly difficult for Widodo to finalize a deal for a majority government stake in Grasberg before the audit issues are resolved, he added.
For Widodo, getting a majority stake for the Indonesian government in one of the world's biggest mining operations under his watch would be a political boon.
A spokesman for the president's office deferred questions on the matter to Widodo's chief of staff, who did not respond to a request for comment.
The mining ministry directed questions on the BPK report to the ministry's environmental director, who did not respond to requests for comment.
Freeport "has responded to the relevant matters in the BPK report," the company said in a statement in response to Reuters questions, declining to comment further.
Freeport began exploration in Papua in the late 1960's and, helped by ties to late President Suharto, clinched a deal to mine Grasberg in 1988. The company is now one of Indonesia's biggest taxpayers.
The issue of what will happen to Grasberg when Freeport's contract there expires in 2021 has dogged the company for years.
In an effort to end years of wrangling, Freeport pledged last August to transfer majority ownership of Grasberg to Indonesia in return for rights to mine the deposit up to 2041.
That deal is critical to Freeport, whose underground expansion plans for Grasberg require billions of dollars in further investment, particularly as open pit mining there is slated to end this year.
Multi-national mining giant Rio Tinto says it plans to sell its interest in the lucrative Grasberg mine in Indonesia's Papua province for $US3.5 billion.
The Grasberg mine, which is the world's largest gold and second-largest copper mine, is majority owned by United States-based miner Freeport-McMoRan.
In a statement published on its website, London-based Rio Tinto said it was discussing the sale with Freeport and the Indonesian state-owned mining holding company PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium.
The government has appointed the holding company to buy shares in Freeport, in line with a law requiring foreign mining companies to divest 51 percent of their shares to Indonesian entities.
Negotiations over this process have been taking place since early 2017. The government extended the divestment deadline for Freeport until 2019. Rio Tinto says a final decision has not been made on the sale.
West Papuans have long expressed frustration about the environmental destruction caused by the Freeport mine operations in Mimika regency.
West Papuans have long expressed frustration about the environmental destruction caused by the Freeport mine operations in Mimika regency.
According to the Jakarta Post, Freeport-McMoRan and Rio Tinto established an unincorporated joint venture in 1995, which gave the latter control of 40 percent interest up to 2022 in certain assets and future production above specific levels in one of the blocks at Grasberg.
Viriya Singgih, Karlis Salna and Tassia Sipahutar, Jakarta It was a lofty ambition from the start.
Indonesia has now all but given up on the economic growth target set by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo when he swept to power four years ago. Stability is now the priority amid a market selloff that's already prompted two interest-rate hikes, with more likely to come.
Jokowi came into office promising to deliver annual gains of 7 percent by the time his first term was done. He's now preparing to seek re-election in a race set to kick off in September, having missed his goal by a wide margin.
The economy may grow as much as 5.8 percent next year, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told lawmakers on Thursday that would still be the fastest pace of expansion since 2013. It's a sizable downgrade from August, when the government forecast growth of as much as 6.5 percent in 2019.
"In the short run, economic stability must be sought first instead of just pursuing growth," Indrawati told the parliament. "That way, the government's policy mix will be able to give optimum contribution in boosting economic growth in mid-term and long-term."
With interest rates rising in the U.S. and the dollar gaining strength, Indonesian fiscal and monetary authorities have gone on the defensive and sought to halt a rout in the currency. That's seen Bank Indonesia go from easing monetary policy eight times in two years to raising its key interest rate for a second time in two weeks Wednesday.
Jakarta The government has prohibited state-owned enterprises (SOEs) from seeking new bank loans. Instead, they are required to find alternative financing, such as securitization and bonds.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said her ministry would start monitoring SOEs' financial conditions, though she added they were still controllable.
The new policy was aimed at avoiding negative sentiment in the financial market amid global pressure as well as to prevent SOE debts from swelling, she added.
"SOEs will use alternative financing, such as securitization and the issuance of Komodo bonds, or cooperate with third parties," Sri Mulyani said, as reported by kontan.co.id on Wednesday.
With regard to SOEs that had infrastructure projects, the government would closely look into their cashflows, because they needed to carry out land acquisition, she added.
"We will coordinate with the SOE Ministry, so that payments from the State Asset Management Institution (LMAN) could be on time to assure that the SOEs avoid cashflow pressure," she added.
According to an analysis of non-bank SOEs through a macro stress-test model in the 2018 state budget financial notes, several developments could lead to ballooning company debt, including increasing global oil prices and sharp rupiah depreciation.
Under the model, if the oil price increases by US$20 per barrel from the state budget assumption, which was at $45 per barrel, the net debt could swell by 7.19 percent. Meanwhile, if the rupiah exchange rate weakens by 20 percent, the debt would increase by 2.57 percent. (bbn)
Harry Suhartono, Jakarta Indonesian stocks are coming back with a vengeance.
While most of the world's equities have dropped over the last three days, the Jakarta Composite Index has rallied 3.7 percent for the top gain among Asian equity gauges. On Thursday, the Indonesian benchmark measure closed up 2.7 percent after foreign investors returned to the market the day before following 21 straight days of outflows.
For Wilianto Ie, President Director of PT Maybank Kim Eng Securities, it's a sign of better days ahead.
"The money flow has to come back to Indonesia," Ie said. "I'm optimistic about the outlook as foreign outflows have subsided and many of the negative concerns about Indonesian stocks have been addressed."
He sees a jump in auto sales and improvement in retailers' results as a signal consumer spending is rebounding, while an unexpected trade deficit in April was proof that local businesses are confident about future sales. He expects the Jakarta Composite to reach 7,100 if not by the end of this year, at least by next June.
Stocks extended gains as new Bank Indonesia Governor Perry Warjiyo pledged on his first day on the job to take more pre-emptive measures to maintain stability. The currency gained 0.5 percent to 14,135 a dollar.
After two years of annual gains surpassing 15 percent, Indonesia's benchmark index crashed, losing as much as 14 percent since its February peak. That's pushed its valuation back to 14.6 times estimated earnings, around its five-year average, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That compares with 11.8 times for the MSCI Emerging-Markets Index.
Jakarta The government has issued Government Regulation No. 14/2018 on foreign ownership of insurance companies, setting a maximum foreign ownership of 80 percent.
"This regulation is valid for both new and old companies," said the Finance Ministry's fiscal policy head Suahasil Nazara in Jakarta on Tuesday as reported by kompas.com.
Suahasil explained that foreign insurance companies with ownership above 80 percent were still allowed to continue to operate, but they could not upgrade their business level. "If the companies want to expand, we limit their ownership to 80 percent," he said.
Suahasil believed the regulation would not discourage foreign insurance companies from carrying out business expansion because the insurance business in this country still had great potential.
The official said the average insurance premium was about Rp 1.5 million (US$105.82) per capita in Indonesia, relatively low compared to figures in the neighboring countries in Southeast Asia.
"Compared to countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, the opportunity to expand [in the insurance business] is wider," Suahasil said. Government Regulation No. 14/2017 was signed by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on April 17 and started to take effect the day after. (bbn)
Max Lane May 21, 2018 marked the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the dictator Suharto, who ruled Indonesia from 1965 until 1998 33 years; a very long time. This 33 years constituted a massive percentage of the time Indonesia has existed. The leadership of the national revolution proclaimed independence on 17 August, 1945 but the colonial power, the Netherlands, was not forced to take its soldiers and bureaucrats home until the end of 1949. Its capitalists remained dominant there until they were expelled between 1956-1958. The effort to consolidate a new nation and a new state only began in 1950.
The challenge of consolidation in the first years was greater for the nation a new community than the state itself the congealed power of a (capitalist) ruling class, who faced no immediate threat from any other organised class force.
In Indonesia's case the process of creating and then consolidating a nation had begun late. The period of gestation only began at the turn of the 20th century the subject matter of the historical novels of Indonesia's greatest novelist, and revolutionary thinker, Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Prior to this, civilization in the Malay Archipelago, known as Nusantara in the region, was a mosaic of societies at many different levels of social development. The development of the embryo of the new community out of the myriad of scores of differing societies only advanced in the 1920s only 30 years before the proclamation of Independence. Propelled by the evolving material conditions throughout the Netherlands East Indies, producing a common economic life, a common language and literature and a new common culture, embodied primarily in its politics, the process of nation-creation was further enriched as the ideas of three revolutions the bourgeois revolutions of Europe; the anti-colonial revolutions of China, the Arab nation, and the Philippines; and Russia's social revolution were fused. With varying degrees of consistency, these ideas were taken up as the national revolution's ideological weapons. It was a powerfully creative process, enough indeed to forge a new community with a new culture, while also being eclectic, uneven, messy, and unfinished.
Thus the challenge faced by Indonesia's social classes in 1950 to consolidate a nation was extraordinarily daunting. Furthermore, in 1950, it was still unresolved which class would lead that process: the underdeveloped capitalist class borne of colonialism or the equally underdeveloped proletariat, a miniscule proportion of the population compared to the ocean of poor peasants who were embedded in a huge variety of differing exploitive agrarian social relations. The period between 1950 65 was one of deepening contestation over this question of which class would lead the nation creation-consolidation process: a process which the country's preeminent political leader, Sukarno, called revolutionary "character-building" and "nation-building."
Suharto came to power in 1965 in events that brought this contestation to an end, by burying it via a genocidal wave of systematic mass killing and terror, repression, and a drastic dictatorship over historical memory. The 33 years of Suharto's rule, therefore, in some ways represents 100% of the existence of the nation-state now known as Indonesia. Of course, this 100% is not 100% true. There are buried legacies in the memories of past struggles, many recorded in literature and political writings, and indeed also in the string of struggles since 1965, especially that of 1989 1998, which ended the dictatorship. Buried legacies that need to be dug up: are being dug up.
With this history, it should surprise nobody that it is only after 20 years that we might be seeing the first, very early signs of a resumption of the contestation buried in 1965. Even the word resumption disguises the reality: it is really beginning anew. New radicals, especially among the youth, must explore to discover even where to dig up the legacies they need. But all the signs are there. They include the resilience of the works of Pramoedya Ananta Toer about the genesis of the struggle for Indonesia; the success of the people's history oriented monthly magazine, HISTORIA; the steady, if still gradual, growth of independent publishers of history and progressive politics and the popularity of their books among restless youth. And in April, 2018, in Jakarta, there occurred the Indonesian Peoples Movement Conference. This was the first large gathering of the social justice and democratic rights activist spectrum trade unions, farmers groups, democratic rights organisations, feminist groups. There were over 50 organisations. It was initiated by 5 of the most active progressive trade unions, many of which emerged after 1998 among that small section of the workforce concentrated in the factories and larger workplaces. There was a consensus that a united political vehicle was needed respond to an increasingly effective, if still small, right wing spectrum of forces. There were debates, of course, over the nature and character of any new united political vehicle.
The next gathering in a few months intends to bring even more such groups together. While there was no explosive post-dictatorship momentum after 1998, there has been a gradual but steady process of beginning a resistance from scratch. It is too early to say whether this particular initiative will succeed in building momentum, but it is not too early to say that something new is again in gestation.
Sandra Hamid Last week turned dark for Australia's Indonesian neighbour when a parent and four young children detonated suicide bombs in front of three churches in the city of Surabaya, East Java.
Theirs were not the only bombs discovered that day, nor were they the only family with intent to kill two other families, fortunately less successful, were later revealed to be part of the same plot.
Just days before the Surabaya bombs, terrorist inmates seized control of a Jakarta prison and slaughtered five officers. The police responded swiftly, rounding up suspects across the country. The chilling message was clear that terror is all around.
Indonesians grappled with these shocking events in different ways. Almost all condemned the acts of terror; nearly none laid blame for the violence on Islam. The narrative distinguishing Muslims from terrorists is dominant but here ends the agreement. How the country arrived at this juncture and what needs to be done are hotly debated.
One line of argument blames the government for failing to prevent the tragedy. Conspiracy theories abound, including suggestions that the deadly attacks were a ploy to distract attention from other critical issues. Speculation about who orchestrated the attacks, with insinuations of state involvement, have spread to national politics, multiplied and amplified by social media.
Others explain the predicament by linking terrorism to growing intolerance, often so closely as to characterise individuals and groups with intolerant views as "radicals" and "extremists" with some even calling for public measures to limit the freedom of movement and expression of those who espouse these views.
Neither of these approaches is useful in formulating a national agenda to move forward together, an agenda that must encompass multiple goals: addressing intolerance, combating terrorism, and upholding democratic values.
Simplistic theories about state or institutional conspiracies overlook the bleak reality that a handful of Indonesian citizens, using the Islamic lexicon, chose to kill both themselves and their young children in order to inflict terror and death on others.
Last week, these "others" included both Catholics and the Indonesian police, the latter because they are the public face of the supposedly "un-Islamic" state in its fight against terrorism. It is reckless, to say the least, to shrug off the weight of this problem using the simple narrative of conspiracy.
On the other hand, blanket assertions that directly link religiously intolerant groups to terrorism are also worrying. The spectrum of religious intolerance in Indonesia is extremely broad, and most intolerant groups have no direct links to terrorists. While it is an established fact that only intolerant individuals can be lured into terrorist networks, it is crucial to recognise that intolerant views alone do not make one a future terrorist.
Unfortunately, in response to decades of growing intolerance in Indonesia, some defenders of tolerance have attempted to forcibly silence individuals they consider to hold intolerant views, citing the dire need to prevent extremism, and using the power of networks and intimidation to act in ways that others may see as undemocratic or as persecution. There is a sense of urgency that has allowed this to take place and to be accepted by many who would otherwise be in the forefront of support for democratic values.
A national trauma like the bombings in Surabaya should bring together groups with different interests and outlooks, but the gap remains wide open in Indonesia, for two principal reasons. One, Indonesia is approaching a highly political year: both legislative and presidential elections will take place in 2019. Narrow political interests have clouded the judgment of elected leaders and fractured the common narrative of what took place and how to move forward.
Second, after witnessing the primordial impulses that were awakened in the 2017 Jakarta elections when Islamist groups successfully demanded the ouster and imprisonment of the governor and fearing the rise to power of groups that use persecution as a tactic, the defenders of democratic pluralism seem ready to retaliate. Though they may use the language of counter-terrorism, their targets also include non-violent extremists.
Between these two extremes, bombarded by competing narratives of what has happened and why, Indonesians need to think about how to address intolerance and terrorism while upholding democratic values. Politicians and commentators need to be more honest about how they talk about these issues, and refrain from promoting conspiracy theories that serve only to sharpen divisions. And Indonesians must learn to distinguish between intolerance and terrorism. Confusing the two will only create stigma or worse, anarchy in their communities.
This is the pressing new challenge to Indonesia's democracy at the brink of a highly political year.
Indonesia is hastening deliberations of an anti-terrorism bill, following a series of suicide bombings carried out by supporters of Islamic State in Surabaya, East Java, this month. The parliament is expected to pass the bill on Friday.
The new legislation will replace the current anti-terrorism law amid a strong public push in the world's third-largest democracy to "strengthen the state" in countering terrorism. The largest national daily newspaper, Kompas, recently published a black front page displaying a headline "Time for the state to be firm".
Police chief Tito Karnavian blamed the delay in passing a tougher anti-terrorism law for the force's inability to prevent terrorist acts. He had asked the government to issue an anti-terrorism regulation in lieu of law (perppu). President Joko Widodo had said that if the parliament failed to pass the anti-terrorism bill this month, the government would issue this new perppu.
But these are reactionary responses, which can be dangerous for Indonesian democracy. Such responses justify the strengthening of state power based on an alarmist understanding of the Islamist political movement. This may lead to stronger religious extremism, while increasing the potential for abuse of state power.
Violent groups that attempt to establish an Islamic state indeed exist. But, so far, their presence is predominantly understood as simply a result of the rising influence of radical and intolerant ideas or due to weak state capacity. Many employ such alarmist understandings, including rights activists, but they neglect aspects of power and political conflict.
We argue that some individuals may turn to radical Islamic ideas in a setting where Islamic populist alliances have failed to seriously challenge the secular authority. An absence of alternative political movements, such as the organised left, that could further channel public dissent can also contribute to a setting ripe for religious radicalism.
Hence, as stated by political scientist John Sidel, religious extremism is a symptom of the weakness and fragmentation of Islamist political movements. It is also a reaction to political marginalisation and state repression.
In the case of Indonesia, Islamic extremism is a legacy of the repressive Soeharto era. Most of the current terrorists link up to the old members of the underground extremist group Darul Islam, which aims to establish an Indonesian Islamic state.
Responding to Islamic extremism with a stronger security approach may increase the degree of repression. Instead of stamping out terrorism, this could cause religious extremism to proliferate.
In our discussions with a number of rights activists, they said the draft legislation (April 17 2018 version) has accommodated most of the human rights principles of concern.
According to the parliament and the government, there is only one article left to be debated, which is about what constitutes terrorism.
The government proposed that terrorism be defined as "any deed that uses violence or threats of violence on a massive scale, and/or causes damage to strategic vital objects, the environment, public facilities or international facilities". The House wants to limit the definition to acts that are based on "political and ideological motives and/or threats to state security".
As with any expansion of state power, any definition could actually still be interpreted flexibly by the authorities.
In addition to the debate on the definition of terrorism, the bill contains provisions that could lead to abuses of power.
For example, Article 13A regulates hates speech, a type of offence that can be misused to target critics. The Law on Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE Law) has a provision banning this kind of offence, which has been used to jail people for expressing their thoughts on religious matters.
Further, the bill will allow police to keep someone accused of terrorism in custody for 14 days before being officially charged. This period of detention can be extended for an extra seven days. The current law allows only seven days of pre-charge custody.
The bill also allows police to keep a terror suspect in custody for a maximum 290 days after being officially charged. This is almost twice the period in the existing law, which is 180 days.
Extending the detention periods will increase the risks of torture in custody.
Lastly, the bill added a clause on bringing in the military to assist in anti-terrorism efforts. This will potentially create problems since the military's nature is to paralyse and exterminate the state's opponents.
Given its repressive nature, increasing the military's role creates a greater chance of human rights violations. Consequently, civilian supremacy will be threatened, meaning Indonesia risks sliding back to military dictatorship.
Besides, with the existing law, the police have shown they can work effectively in domestic operations. Since 2002, when the first anti-terrorism law was enacted, until 2016, the annual number of terrorism incidents has decreased significantly from 43 to 19.
While many rights activists are somewhat satisfied with the latest draft, the remaining problematic provisions show that the interests that wish to extend state authority have not been successfully challenged. It confirms the activists' compromise with those complications as a consequence of their problematic assumptions in understanding terrorism.
As the bill represents a security approach to terrorism, it inherently equips the state with greater authority that could be misused to silence oppositions.
Indonesia's history shows that abuses of power potentially come out of regulations that strengthen the state's power over its citizens. The anti-subversion law is one example. Soeharto used this draconian law to silent political opposition.
A stronger security approach will likely be counterproductive in eradicating terrorism.
It exerts greater pressure and control not only over the acts but also the ideas that are believed as a source of religious extremism. Such an approach will create a deeper feeling of being politically marginalised, which is one of the main aspects that makes possible the emergence of religious terrorism.
It also leads to abuses of power that tend to repress critics and obstruct the emergence of alternative organised political movements. Indeed, the absence of such alternatives is another aspect that makes religious extremism more likely.