Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta Relevant state agencies are set to collaborate to establish better forestry management in Papua in order to curb rampant illegal logging in the easternmost province, among other things.
The institutions involved are the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the Papua Police and the Papua Forestry and Conservation Agency.
"Collaboration with other agencies is part of our focus on graft prevention by improving natural resources management, this time in relation to forestry," KPK deputy chairman Laode Muhammad Syarif said after a meeting between the agencies in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Among measures to be taken by local authorities is forestry-related permit improvement. The joint team will also work to curb the harvesting of forestry products in the province, Papua Forestry and Conservation Agency head Yan Ormuseray said.
"We will also continue to crack down on individuals who violate forestry laws, especially illegal loggers," Yan said.
In an attempt to tackle the problem, the Papua Police have formed a task force that will cooperate with other agencies to focus on law enforcement against illegal logging. The police have handed over at least 17 forestry-related cases to the court since January.
According to the Papua Forestry and Conservation Agency, the rate of illegal logging in the province has increased recently, especially in Sarmi regency where the cost of environmental damage could reach billions of rupiah.
Papuans depend on forests for a livelihood, Yan pointed out, suggesting that the government consider allowing indigenous people to manage their own forests. (swd)
The Government has expressed dismay at attempts by West Papua leader Jacob Rumbiak, to interfere and meddle in the country's national affairs.
In a statement on Tuesday the Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change Government (SIDCCG) said it strongly disproves the action of Mr Rumbiak.
It disputed the allegations, opinions, and interference by Mr Rumbiak in our national affairs, politics and foreign policies of Solomon Islands, a sovereign State, through the media.
"Mr Rumbiak's comments were purposely made to incite division in the leadership of the SIDCCG that is based on the issue of West Papua," the statement added.
"This misguided intent by a foreigner to attempt to divide and undermine the standing and solidarity of a legitimate government through the media will not succeed," the statement said.
"Mr Rumbiak has no right to tell the people of Solomon Islands who should be their Prime Minister, nor does he has the right to determine who the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands should be."
Solomon Islands is a sovereign nation and only Solomon Islanders can determine who should be their Prime Minister and that can only happen through the democratic election process, the statement added.
"If he thinks that he can come secretly into Solomon Islands when the Prime Minister is out of the country, purposely to create division and disharmony in the Government and amongst Solomon Islanders, then he better think again," it said.
The statement added Solomon Islands has diplomatic relations with the Republic of Indonesia which was formalized in July 1983.
"A Solomon Islands Diplomatic Mission was established in Jakarta on 5 August, 2014. This Mission was operational during the previous DCCG government, continuing on with the present SIDCCG government."
It added that as an upstanding member of the United Nations, Solomon Islands upholds the tenets of international relations enshrined in the United Nations Charter, including those on respect of sovereignty and non-interference.
"Solomon Islands has always acknowledged that West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia. Solomon Islands also acknowledges that West Papua is one of five Melanesian regions in Indonesia.
"Solomon Islands will continue to pursue issues concerning West Papua through both the relevant national mechanisms in Indonesia as well as at the relevant international institutions and forums, as and when appropriate."
The statement said SIDCCG's foreign policies will continue to be guided and determined by Solomon Islands' own national interest and those of its peoples.
"As a sovereign nation, Solomon Islands will continue to vigorously protect these interests. The Solomon Islands Government will not allow these interests to be usurped and dictated by foreign individuals like Jacob Rumbiak," it said.
There are reports a number of university students in Jayapura have begun to wear the traditional Papuan koteka or penis gourd to campus.
Media reports said Devio Tekege, a student at Cenderawasih University in Indonesia's Papua region, launched the movement last week. He was reported by the Jakarta Post as saying the unfamiliar atmosphere on campus had prompted him to wear the koteka.
He said he'd become more confident as he wore it and had been able to relax and follow the classes. The paper reported his friends started doing the same thing as it made them more confident as Papuans
One student at the Jayapura Science and Technology University asked a teacher who reprimanded his choice of attire whether the traditional attire was so different from people who wear Indonesian batik.
People from Papua often face discrimination and suspicion from other Indonesians often their pride in their homeland and traditional culture is mistaken as support for the region's independence movement (which the government is clamping down on, even in its most peaceful forms).
One Papuan university student recently caused controversy for wearing a traditional tribal outfit including a koteka (penis sheath) to class, but he says that it is a matter of showing culture pride, no different than that of other Indonesians, and other students have started following his example.
Devio Tekege, a student at Cenderawasih University in the Papuan capital of Jayapura, wore a koteka to class on Monday, May 28. That Wednesday, four of his fellow students did the same thing, saying they wanted to help reassert pride in traditional Papuan culture against the increasing influence of foreigners.
Even in a Papuan city like Jayapura, the use of koteka is extremely rare and many fellow students and faculties wanted to take photos with the koteka-clad students. But they refused saying that their traditional dress was not simply meant to be a tourist attraction.
"Today I want to teach everybody that using traditional clothes is not about taking photos. There is a time to wear traditional clothes for photos but today is not that day. My friends and I are wearing these clothes for ourselves, not others," said one student, Albertus Yapitai, as quoted by Suara Papua.
Of course, not everybody was happy about the students wearing the traditional outfits to class. When one of his lecturers reprimanded Albertus for wearing his koteka to class, he responded by saying, "If I wear traditional clothes and my friends wear batik clothes, what's the difference?"
Papuan legislator John NR Gobay said he strongly supported the students asserting their pride in traditional Papuan dress, a reaction to the destruction of traditional culture in the name of modernization and a centralized national culture.
"I see they want to show that they are natives and that even though their parents still use koteka they can go to university. It shows people that koteka still exist in this land," Gobay said as quoted by Tabloid Jubi.
Joe Cochrane, Jakarta, Indonesia Yanto Awerkion knew quite well that he would infuriate the local Indonesian authorities for organizing a meeting to discuss a petition for an independence referendum in the strife-torn Papua region but he did it anyway.
"I was exercising my right to free speech," said Mr. Awerkion, a senior official of the West Papua National Committee, a pro-independence organization, who said his ensuing arrest on accusations of treason was the third time he had faced charges for his political beliefs.
The local police, however, did not see the case as a free-speech issue. He was arrested after the gathering in his hometown Timika, where he is vice chairman of the local branch of the independence committee, in May last year on charges of trying to overthrow the state. He was jailed for 10 months.
At his trial this March, Mr. Awerkion, 28, was convicted of treason under an archaic Dutch colonial law, but released on Easter Sunday for time served.
During the trial, there was no proof I was involved in treason," he said in a telephone interview after his release. "And I wasn't. As a member of the young generation, I have to fight against injustices."
Comparatively speaking, Mr. Awerkion got off lightly. At least three Papuans considered as political prisoners by human rights groups are serving lengthy prison sentences for promoting independence from Indonesia or raising the separatist flag of the armed Free Papua Movement in public. Dozens of others supporting the cause have been incarcerated in recent years.
Indonesia, despite its largely successful transition to democracy in 1999 after decades of authoritarian rule, continues to be criticized for the plight of its easternmost region of Papua split into the provinces of Papua and West Papua. Despite being some of Southeast Asia's richest regions in terms of natural resources, the two provinces remain among the country's poorest.
Human rights groups have reported a long list of official abuses there, in the name of fighting a small, armed separatist movement. They include arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, official corruption, rigged local elections, and police and military personnel who use abusive tactics.
"They are using colonial laws to arrest people in modern, democratic Indonesia," said Calum Hyslop, an Australian who is a longtime political observer of the Papua region. "They fail to understand the difference between freedom of speech and real acts of armed separatism."
Indonesia's Papua region lies on the western side of New Guinea Island, the eastern side being the nation of Papua New Guinea.
Indonesia annexed the former Dutch-controlled region in 1963, and took sovereignty after the 1969 Act of Free Choice, a vote on whether to remain part of Indonesia. Opponents say the voting was rigged, as only handpicked representatives were allowed to vote, rather than the entire population. There has been a small-scale armed rebellion ever since, most notably by the Free Papua Movement.
Mr. Awerkion's organization, the West Papua National Committee, is not armed and is a nongovernmental organization supporting a referendum on Papua's future.
Over the decades, the Indonesian government's human rights record in the Papua region, formally known as Irian Jaya, has drawn widespread criticism. Pro-independence activists have been tortured, murdered or have gone missing, with no arrests or prosecutions. The recently released United States State Department report on Indonesia said of Papua: "The lack of transparent investigations continued to hamper accountability in a number of past cases involving security forces."
Development in the region is further cause for concern. Papua Province is home to one of the world's largest gold and copper mining operations, run by the Indonesian unit of the American mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, and a large natural gas plant in West Papua Province, run by a local unit of BP.
But some of the region's demographics are comparable to sub-Saharan Africa, according to analysts, with an alarming gap between Papuans who live in coastal areas and those who live in the remote highlands, mostly only accessible by airplane.
Most Papuans live in rural areas, and poverty rates there are the highest in Indonesia, at around 41 percent, compared with only 5 percent in urban areas. Papuans have the highest rates of illiteracy in Indonesia, with around 25 percent of children not in school, and the region has the highest infant, child, and maternal mortality rates in Indonesia, while having the lowest basic child vaccination rates.
"When it comes to broader questions of human rights in Papua, the real violation relates to the complete lack of services in the countryside," said Bobby Anderson, a researcher with the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. "Things like lack of health care, lack of education, with teachers no-showing at schools."
"Indonesia has a detailed policy for mineral extraction, but they have no real policy for the people of Papua," he said. "It's like they're not even citizens."
After taking office in 2014, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia promised a new deal for the Papua and West Papua provinces, releasing some so-called political prisoners and promising an ambitious economic program. However, his own government has continued to enforce restrictions on foreign journalists visiting there.
The Papua region continues to be troubled. The Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, a Jakarta-based research organization, while noting that Mr. Joko had given more attention to the region than his predecessors, said in an October report, "Conflict there among clans, between indigenous Papuans and migrants, between pro-independence groups and the state remains high."
Amnesty International has labeled three Papuans serving prison sentences as "prisoners of conscience," but notes that hundreds of other human rights and pro-independence activists are routinely arrested and briefly detained, including more than 40 members of Mr. Awerkion's organization just last month.
Papuans Behind Bars, a separate nongovernmental organization, has documented more than 40 people sentenced to various terms in prison under the treason law.
Usman Hamid, director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said that the Indonesian government's "focus on development and putting aside human rights in Papua is a wrong approach to deal with the complexity of problems."
Earlier this month, just after Mr. Awerkion was released, the website of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, the main international partner of Mr. Awerkion's group, was hacked, as were the websites of other pro-referendum Papuan organizations. They say a state-sponsored actor was likely behind the hacking attacks.
For his part, Mr. Awerkion is not letting his jail time affect his independence cause, saying a fourth arrest would mean nothing to him. "Please tell all the people out there to keep a watch on the Papua issue," he said.
Sheany, Jakarta Just when the government seemed ready to take responsibility for resolving cases of past human right abuses and despite a commitment by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to this effect, a statement by the attorney general indicated that there may still be some tough challenges ahead.
Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo said on Tuesday (05/06) that investigations into past human rights abuses would require all relevant institutions to work together, which he said may be difficult to achieve.
"This is not solely in the hands of the attorney general. We have to receive a report from Komnas HAM [National Commission on Human Rights] and if it satisfies the requirements, then we will proceed with an investigation," Prasetyo said, as reported by BeritaSatu TV.
He added that his office has been working hard to address these cases and that they must wait for an instruction from the president.
"When it comes to past human rights abuses, the challenge is time. They happened a long time ago, so it is not easy to find witnesses; they may not even be alive anymore... Even the perpetrators may not be alive anymore," Prasetyo said.
He reportedly also referred to Komnas HAM's report as "assumptions and opinions."
State-run news agency Antara reported that the president instructed Prasetyo on Thursday last week to address cases of past human rights abuses, following a meeting with participants in the weekly Kamisan protest movement.
Kamisan is a silent protest that has been held in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta every Thursday since 2007.
The protesters consist of survivors and the relatives of victims of past human rights abuses. The movement demands that the government resolve these cases, including the unsolved murders of student activists during violent street protests in Jakarta in 1998 and the 1965-66 mass killings.
The State Palace finally opened its doors to the protesters for a meeting with Jokowi on May 31, after 11 years and 540 protests. Former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also received the protesters in March 2008, when he was still in office.
"President Jokowi said he would read the documents we have given him and instruct the attorney general to coordinate with the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, as well as Komnas HAM," Maria Catarina Sumarsih, one of the protesters and an initiator of the Kamisan protest movement, told BeritaSatu TV.
She added that Jokowi told her to continue checking the progress of the investigation in the coming days and weeks.
In a statement issued on Monday, Komnas HAM said it had concluded its investigations on past human rights abuses and forwarded the report to the Attorney General's Office.
"Komnas HAM regrets the attorney general's statement that said the contents of our report are merely 'assumptions and opinions.' The attorney general's statement does not fit existing law in our country," Komnas HAM said in the statement, referring to the 2000 Law on a Human Rights Court.
The commission further emphasized that its report on past human rights violations contains testimonies by victims and witnesses and that this is supported by evidence.
The attorney general has repeatedly returned Komnas HAM's reports through the years, citing various reasons, including an inability to use the reports as a basis to investigate such cases, as reported by the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).
A coalition of human rights groups, which includes Kontras, the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) and the Indonesian Association of Families of Missing Persons (IKOHI), issued a statement in response to Prasetyo's comments, demanding that he be replaced with someone more competent or responsible.
"The attorney general's statements showcased two possibilities, either the attorney general does not understand how the law works in Indonesia, or that he does understand but is deliberately seeking excuses to avoid assuming his responsibility," the statement said.
Tsarina Maharani, Jakarta National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) chairperson Ahmad Taufan Damanik hopes that past cases of gross human rights violations will be soon be investigated by the Attorney General's Office (AGO).
Damanik is urging President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to order Attorney General M. Prasetyo to resolve the cases.
"We very much hope that the president will issue a clear instruction to the Attorney General to start the investigations by forming an investigative team", said Damanik at the House of Representatives (DPR) building in Senayan, Jakarta, on Wednesday June 6. Damanik said that Komnas HAM has already handed over nine dossiers on gross human rights violations to the AGO, including the 1965 anti-communist purge, the 1989 Talangsari massacre and the 1998 Semanggi I and II student shootings.
"There are nine dossiers that were given to the Attorney General quite some time ago", he added.
Damanik said there is no point in the AGO and Komnas HAM continuing to send the dossier back and forward because the AGO has the authority to gather stronger material evidence than Komnas HAM.
"We believe that it would be best if the Attorney General immediately form an investigation team and determine the legitimacy of the cases rather than engaging in a discourse about how they lack this or that. We don't think that this will resolve the problem", said Damanik.
"It would be better to immediately form an investigation team. Study the dossiers, and if there are things that are still incomplete they can be dealt with", he added. (tsa/fdn)
Samsudhuha Wildansyah, Jakarta The government is planning to form a National Reconciliation Council (DKN). Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs, Wiranto, has already invited a number of national figures to meet and discuss the DKN's mission.
The meeting was held between 10am and 1.50pm at the Ministry for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Wiranto (Kemenko Polhukam) offices on Jl Medan Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta on Tuesday June 5.
The figures who attended included, among others, former Constitutional Court (MK) chief justice and Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI) general chairperson Jimly Assiddiqie and Law Professor Muladi from the University of Diponegoro (Undip).
"Primarily (the DKN's mission) will only go as far as matters which do not involve a judicial process, beyond this process we want to revive a mediation mechanism which will have a cultural, traditional, a harmonious national life approach", said Assiddiqie following the meeting.
Assiddiqie believes that a cultural approach takes advantage of one of the rich assets that Indonesia possesses. Because of this therefore, a cultural approach can be used as an alternative if legal channels are deemed too cumbersome.
"If it's all done through the law, not to mention crimes that end in jail sentences, of those that go to jail only 30 percent will be repentant, 30 percent will hold grudges, 40 percent will become even worse. So an approach that is exclusively legal will end up like that. So we want to develop an approach that is more cultural or thereabouts, in order to prevent and overcome existing conflicts", said Assiddiqie.
Assiddiqie did not deny that that the body could later also resolve past human rights cases. He also asserted that a full resolution of human rights cases by the DKN would not ignore the legal aspects.
"Without ignoring the legal approach it will complement [the process] so there is a solution that won't leave things hanging in the air. But what is far more important right now is the future. So we must prevent possibilities like that", said Assiddiqie.
According to Assiddiqie, not infrequently the law is instead used a tool for [certain political] interests. So this cultural approach is also important in the context of reconciliation.
Nevertheless Professor Muladi said that the DKN's mission would be far broader and would not just address past human rights cases. "It will be on a national scale, not small scale issues, on a large scale, yes", said Muladi.
With regard to cases of past human rights violations, Muladi is of the view that they should still be resolved by the Attorney General's Office. The DKN will only mediate social conflicts on a national scale.
The DKN will comprise 17 members although Assiddiqie was unable to spell out who exactly the members would be. (bag/bag)
Taufiq Siddiq, Jakarta The coordinator of the Missing Persons and Victims of Violence Commission (Kontras), Yati Andriyani, questioned the reason why the Attorney General mentioned the obstacles to resolve the past human rights violations through legal action because of limited evidence.
"It is unreasonable if the difficulty of collecting evidence is obstacles in resolving the past human rights cases," Yati said when contacted by Tempo on Saturday, June 2.
Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo earlier said it was difficult to resolve the cases of serious human rights violations in the past through legal action because of the events that have been occurred for too long. It resulted in the difficulty of obtaining new evidence or witnesses.
Prasetyo said that he must repeatedly return the file of investigation submitted by Komnas HAM because it does not contain any evidence. Therefore, according to Prasetyo, the most realistic option today is through non-judicial action such as reconciliation.
"At that time we propose to resolve it by non-judicial approach, reconciliation, that is the most possible to do," he said.
Yati does not believe if the obstacles in resolving the past human rights violations are difficulty in collecting evidence or new witnesses. She also questioned the process of the investigation conducted by AGO.
"The investigation team has been formed or not, what investigation has been done," she said.
According to Yati, the obstacles in solving the cases of serious human rights violations are in the willingness of the Attorney General to resolve the case. "If it continues like this, there is no attempt to resolve the case," she said.
Yati also deplored the action of President Joko Widodo who submitted the case to the Attorney General without taking a clear policy, while the AGO submitted it to Komnas HAM. "It's like [they] hands-off," she said.
Jakarta Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo is pessimistic about the chances of resolving past gross human rights violations through legal channels.
Prasetyo's justification for this is that investigations into these cases are often hampered by the inadequate investigations by the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM). Prasetyo claims that up until now the investigation dossiers submitted by Komnas HAM are weak on evidence.
He says that because these cases happened a long time ago so material evidence and witnesses are difficult to find. As a result the investigation reports which have been received are, according to Prasetyo, limited to assumptions. He doubts that any leader or party tasked with resolving these cases will be capable of bringing them to trial.
"If forced to pursue a legal process we can already imagine [what will happen], it will just go back and forth, I calculate this has happened 10 times since 2007-2008 when the investigations were carried out. But the result was just the same", Prasetyo told journalists at the Pancasila building at the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Friday June 1.
"We have to be honest and state that whoever is leader of this country, whoever the Attorney General is, whoever Komnas HAM's [leadership] is, I feel it would be difficult for the legal process to go to trial, this must be understood. It's not that we don't want to resolve them, not that, but the problem is a legal one", he added.
Prasetyo claims that he is unable to do much if case witnesses and material evidence are not presented. Because, he says, his office works based on facts and "not just assumptions or opinions from sources that are not directly related to the incident when it happened".
He also went on to deny that his office is having difficulties resolving these cases because a number of strategic positions in the government are held by people alleged to have been involved in past human rights abuses.
"No, that's not true. Pak President [Joko Widodo] himself has already asked the Attorney General to reexamine [the cases], yes our examination was like that. You can go ask Komnas HAM for a balanced view, whether our statement correct", he said.
A number of non-government organisations concerned with human rights such as the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta) and the network of families of victims of human rights abuses have criticised the appointment of former General Wiranto as Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Menkopolhukam).
Human rights activists and survivors believe that the inclusion of Wiranto as part of the administration has made the resolution of these cases even more difficult. Particularly since the coordination for resolving past gross violations of human rights in under the authority of the Menkopolhukam.
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.
During the 540th Kamisan action actions held in front of the State Palace every Thursday President Widodo met with representatives of the survivors and families of victims of rights violations at the State Palace on Thursday May 31.
Widodo was accompanied at the meeting by Presidential Chief of Staff (KSP) Moeldoko, presidential staff member Teten Masduki and presidential spokesperson Johan Budi. Wiranto and Prasetyo meanwhile were not present.
Human rights activists and victims have warned Widodo not to just turn the meeting into a political commodity and have urged Widodo to take concrete steps to resolve past human rights violations by, for example, forming a presidential committee.
In a written statement the groups again warned Widodo that as president his platform on fully investigating human rights cases has been slow, even though this point was included in his Nawa Cinta or nine point priority program.
The groups said that a number of things can be seen as a retreat on human rights issues, including, among others, appointing Wiranto as Menkopolhukam, allowing the Attorney General to refuse to investigate nine cases of gross human rights violations which have already been investigated by Komnas HAM, his refusal to publicly release the investigation results of the Fact Finding Team (TPF) into the 2004 assassination of renowned human rights defender Munir and, ignoring the House of Representatives (DPR) recommendation to the president to issue a Presidential Decree on the formation of an ad hoc human rights court, form a team to find the missing activists abducted in 1997-98, rehabilitate the victims and families of victims and to ratify the International Convention on Forced Disappearances.
Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta It could be love, or it could be nostalgia. Social media went abuzz last week when an image of an old man that looks like Soeharto, the country's longest-serving president, appeared on Twitter.
The photo captured the man who was sitting on a priority seat in a commuter train from a distance. It first appeared on the Twitter handle of senior Kompas photographer Arbain Rambey, @arbainrambey, on May 30 a post that, as of today, has been retweeted more than 900 times users and garnered over 500 likes.
Just like other memes that have circulated about Soeharto on social media, they were welcomed with jeers and cheers for the leader, who has often been called a dictator for his strong military grip and links to human rights abuses to keep his long tenure, also known as the New Order era.
Some said they missed Soeharto for "advancing the country". Propelled by government officials during the New Order era, he was once dubbed Bapak Pembangunan (Father of Development).
A Twitter user who commented on the latest post on Soeharto, Paulus M. Pangau, said Soeharto was unlike today's leaders who could only impoverish their people. Soeharto was a father of development who contributed a lot to the country. Another user, @Dani_er, said Soeharto deserved to be remembered for his leadership. Only during his tenure "could the people feel safe, staple food prices be stable and the development run smoothly".
Talks continued to speculate on the identity of the man on the picture. Some guessed he was Koeswali Somadihardja, 69, who was already known as Soeharto's look-alike.
Koeswali said he had been told by his niece that he was suddenly famous on the internet at a time when the country was commemorating two decades after the former president's fall and the political and economic crises that surrounded the event.
But the Pamulang resident said it was not him. "The last time I was on a train was in 2011," Koeswali said.
Asvi Warman Adam, a historian with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said it was normal for the public to still be fascinated by the late president for he did appear, in many history books, as a figure who could deliver justice, security and welfare.
"But these people might be unaware that it cost a lot to let the dictator lead the country for decades. Many human rights violations occurred back then," Asvi said on Sunday.
Soeharto was allegedly involved in several human rights abuses, such as the Tanjung Priok massacre in early 1984 and the 1989 Talangsari incident in Lampung.
He was also linked to a series of mysterious shootings between 1982 and 1985, known as Petrus, in which 2,000 people were reportedly killed across the country, with the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police deemed responsible for the killings, according to reports by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) in 2012.
Due to the controversy surrounding his legacy, the government has rejected naming Soeharto a national hero.
Nicky Aulia, 25, said she did not miss the former president one bit. "I am lucky that I could learn history from sources other than textbooks taught in school when I was a little kid," Nicky said.
The media company employee said she had learned a lot of alternative narratives about Soeharto when she was studying communication sciences at Padjadjaran University.
Narendra, a University of Indonesia (UI) student, also shared Nicky's experience of learning the other side of historical events after starting university.
The 21-year-old admitted that he learned about "the real" Soeharto after he entered university, where he was introduced to books and movies about various human rights violations in the country allegedly initiated by the dictator.
"Before that, the only thing I knew wass that Soeharto was the father of development." (ami)
Fadli, Batam The East Bintan Police in Riau Islands have arrested a 24-year-old ustaz (Islamic teacher), identified only as SH, for allegedly sexually abusing his students at a number of pesantren (Islamic boarding school) where he teaches.
Two of the three students who fell victim to his alleged misconduct came forward and reported the teacher to the police.
East Bintan Police chief Det. Second Insp. Anjar Pratama Putra said on Tuesday the investigation began following a report that the teacher was beaten up by angry residents on Friday.
"The police detained [SH] and launched an investigation, only to find out that he had sexual harassed his own students," Anjar told The Jakarta Post.
The angry residents allegedly first learned about the teacher's misconduct after a student told her mother about the abuse in May. It was reported that she admitted to having been raped by the teacher. Her mother was said to have later shared the revelation with neighbors.
"After we pursued the case, we found there were other victims from different pesantren," Anjar said. "He teaches in different pesantren. He seduced his targets just like the way people seduce their romantic partner," he said.
According to the preliminary physical examinations, the victims reportedly showed signs of sexual abuse. The teacher is expected to be charged under the Child Protection Law, potentially facing an extended maximum sentence given the number of victims.
"We expect this dossier will be finished soon and the trial may start after the Idul Fitri holiday," he said. (stu/swd)
Monika Winarnita and Ken Setiawan Young Indonesian people like me don't know anything about the May 1998 violence. How will you engage with them beyond social media selfies?
A female student asked this of Rani Pramesti, a Chinese Indonesian artist who was discussing her digital graphic novel, "Chinese Whispers", at an event in Melbourne commemorating the 20th anniversary of Indonesia's May 1998 violence.
More than 100 people, mostly Indonesians from various ethnic groups living in Melbourne, attended. Other women with Chinese Indonesian heritage who presented their artistic and literary work at the event included survivor-artist Elina Simbolon and journalist and author Dewi Anggraeni.
Twenty years ago, in the lead-up to and following the resignation of long-time Indonesian ruler Soeharto on May 21, violence erupted in which the Chinese Indonesian minority was targeted. This included mass rapes and sexual assaults of Chinese Indonesian women by organised groups acting under orders of the security forces in major Indonesian cities such as Jakarta, Medan and Solo.
Despite evidence of gross human rights violations, the cases were never brought to court. Justice for the victims and survivors thus remains elusive. There is persistent denial and silencing of this violence.
When an initial report on the violence was made public in 1998, the state denied any involvement. The rapes were also denied in media reports on the event, as well as in statements by high-ranking government officials.
Groups working with victims were threatened. One victim, who had agreed to testify at the United Nations, was murdered.
In commemorations of May 1998 over the past two decades, Chinese Indonesian women's voices have long been absent. The work of Rani, Elina and Dewi presented in Melbourne fills a void in public knowledge of a dark chapter in Indonesian history. At the same time, their voices continue to be contested.
Human rights organisations, including the National Commission for Women's Rights (Komnas Perempuan), have persistently demanded attention to the violence against women in 1998. However, much of their work has framed the events as a violation of the rights of all Indonesian women, leaving out the racial motives from the narrative of gender-based violence.
Similarly, efforts to mark sites of violence (for instance, through the May 1998 memorial in Jakarta), have placed May 1998 under a broader story of regime change. While this may enhance awareness, it avoids issues central to the violence: the systemic discrimination against Chinese Indonesians, the position of women, and the use of sexual violence as a tool of repression.
Around three months after the May '98 violence in Indonesia, the Huaren Chinese diaspora online group organised a commemorative event in Sydney to discuss what happened. The event discussed at length the human rights violations against those of Chinese descent, emphasising male testimonies. While the event was important, it downplayed the gendered ethnic violence against Chinese Indonesian women.
The event in Melbourne, although it showcased three Chinese Indonesian women's art and literary work, also featured testimonies of two Chinese Indonesian men and comments from predominantly the male section of the audience. They graphically retold the events of 20 years ago. One recalled protecting his property as if he were a soldier ready to go to war.
Studies of genocidal rape are critical of male testimonies that depict violence against women as a form of communication between men. In other words, the stories emphasise violence against women as a way to de-masculinise the other group, or to make them less of a man, by not being able to protect their women, who are treated as the property of men.
Having predominantly men from the audience commenting about the event was challenged by Rani. She asked for more gender balance, giving women, like the young female Indonesian student, an opportunity to have their voices heard.
Rani's Chinese Whispers tells the story of May 1998 through her eyes. In 1998 she was 12 and lived in Jakarta. She subsequently migrated to Australia. The nonfiction digital graphic novel traces Rani's quest to find out how such violence could occur.
For this project, Rani spoke to Chinese Indonesian women living in Melbourne, including Dewi Anggraeni. Chinese Whispers features Rani's personal stories as well as the stories of the Chinese Indonesian women she interviewed.
Dewi told Rani that at the time, as a journalist based in Melbourne, she couldn't believe mass rapes and sexual assault could happen. This was because very few Jakarta-based journalists were able to talk to survivors. It was not until she met a female survivor recovering in Melbourne that she was compelled to do her own research and unearth the truth. Through her writing, Dewi thus challenges the denial of the violence and the silence surrounding it.
Dewi also experienced resistance to her work about the May 1998 violence, particularly her novel "My Pain, My Country". The story of the female survivor she met in Melbourne inspired this work. According to Dewi, social media coverage of her book on Australia Plus attracted derogatory and negative comments on their Facebook timeline.
It was claimed that, being located outside of Indonesia, Dewi had no right to write about the events. However, she explained that it was exactly this distance that allowed her to write about May 1998. This remains extremely difficult in Indonesia, where individuals and organisations concerned with this issue continue to be intimidated.
A male audience member, who identifies as an Indonesian with Chinese Indonesian friends and wanted to focus on positive relations between the two groups, challenged Dewi and Rani by asking: "Why don't we all just move on?"
Dewi responded that "acknowledgement and justice are still needed". Rani said: "Moving on does not mean forgetting the past or silencing its stories; that's denial."
Events like the commemoration in Melbourne intend to create spaces where people can exchange ideas. The responses to the female artists show that their voices remain contested. But, at the same time, those reactions also show that people are affected by the messages that the women are conveying through their work.
More importantly, events such as these raise the question about who can speak or bear witness. As we are further removed from May 1998, inevitably other people will speak up.
Women such as Rani, Dewi and Elina may pave the way for more voices of Chinese Indonesian women voices missing in earlier commemorations generating insights into how Indonesia's past continues to reverberate across time and space.
Jakarta National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has said it will employ pilots of Indonesia's Air Force if the airline's pilots follow through on their strike threat.
Garuda Indonesia's vice president corporate secretary Hengki Heriandono said in Jakarta recently that it was an anticipatory step in response to the threat made by the airline's pilots.
"We have made a contingency plan in case they really go ahead with their strike action," Hengki said as reported by tribunnews.com, adding that the cooperation with the Air Force was to ensure that the airline could continue to operate as normal.
The Garuda Indonesia Pilots Association (APG) and the Garuda Labor Union (Sekarga) had initially threatened to strike unless the government stepped in to help resolve "managerial problems" at the flag carrier, namely that they were allegedly causing a continued decline in the company's performance.
Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar pandjaitan said on Tuesday that the pilots had agreed to cancel their strike plan as their representatives continued to talk with representatives of both the airline management and the government to discuss their demand.
Hengki said the cooperation with the Air Force also had the long-term objective of "utilizing" manpower, particularly pilots, who were working for the force. (bbn)
Jakarta Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan claimed that there would be no strike by employees of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, including its pilots, who initially threatened to strike because of their disappointment with the management.
Luhut said Garuda Indonesia's operations would carry on normally, with employees and management scheduled to meet to resolve their differences.
"If there is input [from employees], it is good. There is no problem. [We told them] not to strike and they agreed," said Luhut in Jakarta on Monday as reported by kompas.com.
He said the meeting between Garuda Indonesia management and employees' representatives aimed seek a solution to complaints from the Garuda Indonesia Pilots' Association (APG) and other airline employees.
Luhut told both Garuda Indonesia employees and management to prioritize communication and to avoid a strike so that the airline could continue to fulfill the rights of its customers.
"All agree that there would be no strike as long as their aspirations are heard. [The management] has listened to their aspirations," Luhut said, adding that the government would also meet with the employees' representatives.
The Garuda Indonesia Pilots' Association (APG) and the Garuda Labor Union (Sekarga) had initially threatened to strike unless the government stepped in to help resolve "managerial problems" at the flag carrier, namely that they were allegedly causing continued decline in the company's performance. (bbn)
Jakarta The Garuda Pilot Association (APG) has said that as many as 1,300 pilots and 5,000 cabin crew members of state carrier PT Garuda Indonesia may soon go on strike with the Idul Fitri holiday just two weeks away.
"We may even [go on strike] during the mass Idul Fitri exodus if the government does not intervene," said APG chairman Bintang Hardono on Thursday, as reported by tempo.co.
Bintang added that up to 10,000 Garuda employees under the Garuda Employee Union (Sekarga) would join the strike, adding that the time period of the strike would soon be announced.
He said that all employees had agreed that a strike was the only way to "save" the airline, which he said had become worse over the years. "We don't want to end up like Merpati," he said, referring to the now-defunct state carrier that went bankrupt.
He said that the APG and Sekarga had conveyed to the government their plan to conduct a strike last year and again in May, giving the government 30 days to meet their demands.
Their demands include, among other things, a reshuffle and restructure of the airline's board of directors. Mediation between the directors and employees to discuss the losses the airline has experienced, recorded at up to US$213.4 million in 2017, has failed to progress.
Sekarga chairman Ahmad Irfan Nasution previously said that there were three internal problems that had affected the airline's services, namely operational, financial and industrial issues.
In response, tempo.co reported that Garuda Indonesia president director Pahala Mansury had asked pilots and crew members to continue working as usual and to prioritize customers, as the peak season was looming.
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi previously asked Garuda Indonesia to solve the matter between the employee union and the corporation and to conduct dialogues to find a solution. (dwa)
Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta Radar Bogor chief editor Tegar Bagja has described an attack on his office in Bogor, West Java, as "barbaric" and said the editorial team refused to apologize for a story on Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chief Megawati Soekarnoputri.
Nearly 100 PDI-P Bogor supporters and an executive staged a protest rally in front of the newspaper's office on Wednesday, following an article by the newspaper that criticized a government allowance payable to Megawati as excessive.
One of the protestors included PDI-P Bogor secretary Ati Somaddikarya, Tegar said.
"They stormed our office lobby and chased our frightened female front office staffer. They tore up our newspapers, destroyed property such as chairs, a table and trash bin," Tegar told The Jakarta Post on Thursday, adding that some of the protestors physically attacked employees.
"They kept hitting the table when conveying their aspirations and used foul language," he added.
The newspaper published a headline story titled "Ongkang-ongkang Kaki Dapat Rp 112 Juta" (Earning Rp 112 million for nothing) in its Wednesday edition. The story reported that the government would pay the former president a monthly allowance of Rp 112 million (US$8,067) for her new role in a body promoting Pancasila state ideology.
The newspaper invited eight of the protestors to discuss the matter, during which they demanded the publication clarify the news story and issue a full-page apology.
"We agreed to make a follow-up story and clarify that Megawati never accepted the money, which we published in Thursday's paper. But we can't fulfill their demand to publish an apology [in the newspaper]," he said. (wit)
Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has continued to strengthen his electoral position in Java, while Gerindra, the party of Jokowi's main rival Prabowo Subianto, has also gained ground, boosting its chances of becoming the country's second-largest party behind Jokowi's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), a new poll reveals.
Java, which is divided into four provinces, is Indonesia's most populous island with around 160 million people, accounting for 70 percent of the total population and around 60 percent of potential voters in the upcoming general election.
Jakarta-based pollster Charta Politika recently surveyed 800 people in Banten and 1,200 people each in West Java, Central Java and East Java, asking them which presidential candidate and political party they would vote for in 2019.
As in other polls, Jokowi and Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto are the frontrunners, while the PDI-P remains the dominant party, with Gerindra pushing for second place.
In 2014, Jokowi won both Central Java and East Java by more than 6 percentage points but lost by landslides in Banten and West Java, with Prabowo gaining almost 60 percent of the vote in both provinces.
According to the survey, Jokowi has turned the tables in West Java, with 46.1 percent of respondents saying they would vote for him, compared to 40.5 percent backing Prabowo.
On the other hand, Prabowo seems to have maintained his stranglehold over Banten, with an electability rating of 44.1 percent compared to Jokowi's 36.9 percent. Prabowo's popularity in the province has also produced a "coattail effect" for Gerindra's electability, according to Charta Politika's executive director Yunarto Wijaya.
Around 20.6 percent of respondents in Banten said they would vote for Gerindra, comfortably beating the Golkar Party at 15 percent and the PDI-P at 14.4 percent and improving on their 2014 performance of 14 percent of the vote in the province.
"Prabowo's increased political capital from his two previous presidential bids has strengthened the coattail effect for his party," Yunarto said at the survey release event on Wednesday.
In Central Java and East Java, however, Jokowi and the PDI-P maintain their strong positions. More than two-thirds of respondents in Central Java said they would vote for Jokowi, compared to Prabowo's meager 11.2 percent, echoing the results of the 2014 election.
In East Java, Jokowi had the support of 53.4 percent of respondents, compared to 33.6 percent for Prabowo, while the PDI-P had an electability rating of 20.3 percent, slightly higher than its 2014 vote count.
The results reflect those of a nationwide Charta Politika survey from April, in which 2,000 people were polled across all 34 provinces.
In that poll, Jokowi had a formidable electability rating of 58.8 percent, far ahead of Prabowo's 30 percent. Despite his lackluster electability, Prabowo's nationwide presence has helped propel Gerindra to second place behind the PDI-P with 12.3 percent, overtaking Golkar.
Nearly 40 percent of respondents who said they would vote for Gerindra named Prabowo as the main reason for their support. A recent survey from pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia showed similar results, with both Jokowi and Gerindra's electability showing an upward trend.
"Since Jokowi is only behind in Banten, it's safe to say that he remains dominant in Java, which is reflected in several national surveys," Yunarto said. "Overall, Jokowi has improved his lead compared to 2014."
He added that Jokowi still had some work to do in Sumatra, where he was weak in several provinces, but that Java seemed solidly in his column. "Prabowo, on the other hand, has failed to retain West Java, which was the source of much of his support in 2014," he said.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly has asserted that the General Elections Commission's (KPU) plan to ban former graft convicts from running in legislative elections was both discriminatory and against the law.
Yasonna acknowledged that the KPU's intentions were honorable in issuing the regulation, but it must be pursued through a mechanism that did not contradict prevailing laws.
"Everyone agrees that candidates running for legislative positions should be honest and accountable people, but the law states that former [graft] convicts can run [in legislative elections] after serving their sentence and declaring their status publicly," Yasonna said on Wednesday.
Law No. 7/2017 on general elections stipulates that former corruption convicts who have served a sentence for more than five years can participate in legislative elections as long as they publicly declare their status.
Yasonna said the KPU's planned regulation was also discriminatory in nature because former terrorist convicts were not included in the list of people who did not qualify as candidates. Besides, he said, it also contradicted the Constitutional Court's ruling.
The minister instead suggested that former convicts who ran in legislative elections must have their conviction status written beside their name and ballot number at polling stations.
"It is better for the KPU to regulate technical details instead of curtailing [people's] rights," Yasonna said. "The KPU does not have the authority to eliminate such rights." (ebf)
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta The Democratic Party is mulling over nominating former Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gatot Nurmantyo as its presidential candidate, despite its high hope for Agus Harimurti, son of party patron Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Democrats deputy chairman Syarief Hasan said Gatot was among the hopefuls that would be assessed by the party ahead of the 2019 race. The assessment is scheduled for after the simultaneous regional elections slated for June 27.
"Of course, we well review [him], along with others, whether as a presidential or vice presidential candidate," Syarief said Monday. Other possible candidates, Syarief said, included Agus and Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto.
Gatot was reported to have met with Yudhoyono at the home of businessman Chairul Tanjung last Saturday, on the occasion of which he referred to Yudhoyono as "my parent".
Gatot is said to be on the radar of both Gerindra and the Democrats, the two-largest opposition parties, not only for his high electability as a vice presidential candidate, according to a number of surveys, but also because he is known to have strong ties to Islamic groups.
Gatot previously submitted his name to Gerindra to be the party's presidential or vice presidential candidate, but the party has yet to give him an answer. Most Gerindra executives have insisted on nominating Prabowo for 2019, but some of the party's politicians have said Gerindra was still open to other figures, including Gatot.
Gerindra deputy chairman Fadli Zon said Tuesday that besides Gatot, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan was also among the names being considered by the party.
Aside from Gerindra, no other party has made a decision to endorse Prabowo as their presidential candidate. To field a candidate, Gerindra will need to reach the presidential threshold and to do that it needs to form a coalition. The National Mandate Party (PAN) and Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) are seen as the Gerindra's closest allies, however both of them have yet to announce their official decisions. (evi)
Jakarta The National Police have dropped a case pertaining to the alleged violation of campaign rules implicating the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI).
"Yes, we've stopped the investigation," Bridg. Gen. Herry Rudolf Nahak, the director of general crimes, said on Friday as quoted by kompas.com.
Several linguistic experts found that an ad at the center of the case was not campaign material, the police have argued.
On April 23, the PSI published an advertorial in a newspaper calling on the public to help choose the running mate and Cabinet members of the party's candidate, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
The advertorial also contained the party's logo and its number in the upcoming election.
The Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) reported the PSI to the police, arguing that the advertorial was a violation of the Election Law as it was campaign material published before the campaign period had begun. (gis)
There have been many blatantly false accusations made about Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, such as the one about how he's secretly a Chinese communist, but nobody has said anything to cast doubt on his credentials as a devoted family man until recently.
In May, a photo of a woman hugging what appeared to be Jokowi at first glance went viral online, with haters saying it was proof of the president's infidelity. The caption for the particular post below says, "Viral!!! Aduuhhh which hotel could this have been taken at? This can't be his supporter right? Why so intimate with a supporter?"
The State Palace finally responded to the infidelity accusation yesterday, saying that it should be pretty obvious to all that what the woman was hugging was not human, even if it is creepily lifelike.
"Everybody knows it's a wax figure," said Palace official Ali Mochtar Ngabalin, as quoted by Detik yesterday. "The hug is a form of awe from the people towards the wax figure of the president."
Ali went on to say that the State Palace is not fussed about the silly accusation and that no defamation lawsuits are being filed.
While Ali did not specify where the wax figure is located, there's only one official Jokowi wax figure in the world, and it was made by Madame Tussauds wax figure museum in Hong Kong last year.
Amal Ganesha and Telly Nathalia, Jakarta/Yogyakarta People from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds, including Muslims, Christians and Buddhists, gathered for a Ramadan fast-breaking event at Jakarta Cathedral in the capital on Friday (02/06) as part of a Pancasila Day commemoration to strengthen solidarity between Indonesia's various communities.
The official state ideology of Pancasila, which consists of five value principles, including freedom to practice religion, is celebrated on June 1 every year after its inception in 2017.
The first tenet of Pancasila is "belief in one God," meaning that every Indonesian citizen has the right to practice the religion or belief they choose, although the state only recognizes Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism.
Representatives of various community groups, including Nahdlatul Ulama, the country's largest Muslim organization, and Pustaka Bergerak, a group that provides a network of mobile libraries, were present to accompany Muslims performing iftar, or breaking the fast, as this year's event coincided with Ramadan.
Leaders of the represented groups agreed that the gathering will show solidarity following the widely condemned terror attacks in Surabaya, East Java, last month, which claimed the lives of at least 23 people.
"We were shocked by the latest terror in Surabaya, but with this gathering we feel more secure now," said Hani Rudi Hartoko, the head of Jakarta Cathedral. "We're now revitalizing a spirit of togetherness," the Catholic priest added.
Also present was Alissa Qotrunnada Munawaroh, better known as Alissa Wahid, the eldest daughter of Indonesia's fourth president, Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid.
"This event was initiated after we felt pain of the Surabaya attacks. We also feel the pain, and though the pain can last forever, at least we're trying to fix that," said Alissa, who represented GusDurian, a community group that upholds the values and beliefs of her late father.
"This gathering is also to show that Pancasila remains strong," she said.
Police have confirmed that the Surabaya attacks were carried out by members of Islamic State-inspired group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).
"They [terrorists] will all enter Hell," James Smith Carrington, better known as Ustaz James, told the Jakarta Globe on the sideline of the gathering.
"It's not true that they will enter Paradise after killing [innocent] people," said the man who is also a member of both Nahdlatul Ulama and Majelis Ulama Indonesia.
James explained that Islam has always respected diversity, in line with Pancasila, from which Indonesia derives its national motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, or Unity in Diversity. He reiterated that the gathering was held to confirm that value.
"In the Koran, it is stated that human beings are created different, to know each other well," James said. "It's impossible for everyone in this world to be of the same race, and religion," he said.
"Indonesia is now experiencing an emergency of intolerance, as everyone feels they're right, while they start to blame everyone else. It contradicts what happened in the past with the Prophet Muhammad and the Medina Charter."
The Medina Charter is an agreement established in the city of Medina in seventh-century Arabia when the Prophet Muhammad welcomed people from other faiths, including Judaism and Christianity, to practice their religions freely in Islamic territory.
"Muhammad at the time was open to people from other faiths. He is known for having brought peace for all, or rahmatan lil alamin," James said.
Separately, an interfaith gathering, which began with a discussion of how to appreciate Indonesia's diversity, was also held at Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta on Friday to coincide with iftar.
Professor Sumanto al Qurtuby, the main speaker during the event, encouraged fellow Indonesians to protect the nation's diversity.
He said increasing radicalism in Indonesia is due to a misinterpretation of Islamic teachings, a lack of knowledge and a misunderstanding by some Muslim leaders of Arabic culture, politics and society.
The cultural anthropologist said this contributes to a misguided society, especially among Indonesian Muslims, while people in the Middle East actually respect diversity.
"This [Indonesia] is our common home, for us to take care of together," said Sumanto, who is a lecturer at King Fahd University in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Also participating in the discussion was Bram Hasto, a Buddhist scholar who said the spirit of unity, as promoted by Pancasila and the national motto, should be preserved and strengthened.
The iftar event was initiated by Chattra Kebaya, a community group that seeks to preserve Indonesia's cultural heritage in daily practice, especially in traditional fashion. It was also supported by Banser, the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama.
"We host this discussion because of our concern over the current political situation in Indonesia that is heating up in the leadup to the elections and because there are parties trying to politicize our diversity by driving a wedge between us," said Christ Amadea Esti of Chattra Kebaya.
Sumanto, who is also a founder of Nahdlatul Ulama's branches in the United States and Saudi Arabia, emphasized the protection of Indonesia's diversity.
He said interreligious and intercultural gatherings will provide room for people to understand each other better and help reduce negative sentiment based on belief.
"Preserve the diversity, because that's our extraordinary cultural asset," he said.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta As the country celebrates the birth of Pancasila, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has called for the country to strengthen collective unity and further implement and preserve the state ideology Pancasila as the nation's way of life.
In his speech during the commemoration of Pancasila Day on June 1, which has been a public holiday since last year, Jokowi asserted that Indonesia must continue to live with the nation's motto of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) so that Indonesia can grow and keep up with global competition.
Every country in the world has continued the process toward developing a nation that lives in diversity, Jokowi said on Friday.
"Diversity is often haunted by the risks of intolerance, disunity and disregard of gotong royong [mutual cooperation]," Jokowi said. "It is time for us to share our experience [...] in tolerance and building unity in the nation."
Jokowi also expressed gratitude for the existence of Pancasila, introduced by founding father Sukarno, as he believed that the Pancasila could overcome adversity and served as a strong foundation for the country toward further development.
"I also want to thank and appreciate the younger generation, which has preserved the understanding and implementation of Pancasila in the lives of the people and the nation," he said. (evi)
Pribadi Wicaksono, Jakarta Hundreds of people gathered in zero-kilometer point of Yogyakarta holding a ceremony or locally known as tirakatan to commemorate the birth of state ideology Pancasila on Thursday afternoon, May 31. Several communities, including Gadjah Mada University's student community, attended the event.
The participants sitting on the floor in front of Gedung Agung Palace were listening to the songs about Pancasila in the Javanese language. "This tirakat is a form of residents' gratitude that now Pancasila could be celebrated on every June 1. There was no celebration ever took place years ago," said the coordinator Sigit Sugito on the sideline of the ceremony.
According to Sigit, the spirit brought up during the ceremony asserted that Pancasila is a state principle and ideology. "We declined Pancasila Day polluted with political actions bringing political interest by a certain group such as an act to defend this or that which was planned to be held in Yogya," he underlined.
Sigit said Pancasila should be a tool to unite the nation. He also demanded Pancasila not being used as a tool to attack each other during these political years of 2018 and 2019. "We're here praying to remember and remind the true value of Pancasila as a unifying tool; not dividing tool," he added.
Earlier, two rallies dubbed Aksi Bela Bangsa (act to defend the nation) and Yogyakarta Benteng Pancasila (Yogyakarta the fortress of Pancasila) that planned to be held to celebrate Pancasila Day on June 1 were halted by the police considering both were susceptible to spark dispute as it would be held at the same time in public area of Yogyakarta's zero-kilometer point.
Rezki Alvionitasari, Jakarta Based on its latest nation-wide poll, pollster Charta Politika suggests that the former Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) Commander General Gatot Nurmantyo has a great chance of advancing himself for Vice Presidency.
There were four Indonesian provinces in Java Island that favored Gatot such as; Banten, West Java, Central Java, and East Java. The poll shows that people favor him in becoming the running-mate for incumbent Joko Widodo (Jokowi) or the opposition in Prabowo Subianto.
According to Charta Politika Executive Director Yunarto Wijaya, the poll conducted on 800 respondents in Banten favored Gatot Nurmantyo more than Anies Baswedan and Agus Harimurt Yudhoyono (AHY).
"When asked who would be most suitable to accompany Jokowi, 5.5 percent of respondents voted for Gatot Nurmantyo, 5.4 percent chose Anies Baswedan, and 3.8 percent chose AHY," said Yunarto on Wednesday, June 6.
Muhaimin Iskandar who has officially offered himself to be Jokowi's running mate only gained 3.3 percent votes. Meanwhile, Fishery and Maritime Affairs Minister Susi Pudjiastuti gained 2.5 percent support despite not declaring herself to be a vice presidential candidate.
Furthermore, respondents in Banten also preferred Gatot Nurmantyo to be the vice presidential candidate to accompany Prabowo Subianto. The three remaining regions in West Java, Central Java, and East Java also mainly placed Gatot Nurmantyo as their preferred choice to become a Vice Presidential candidate in the upcoming 2019 election.
The poll on Gatot Nurmantyo was conducted on May 23 to May 29 through random interviews with a total of 4,400 respondents that live in the four regions of Java Island.
Devina Heriyanto, Jakarta A survey by the Varkey Foundation found that 93 percent of young Indonesians believed that religious faith was important to happiness, far above the world's average at 45.3 percent.
This figure bucks the global trend as another survey by Deloitte found more than half of global youth believed religious leaders brought a negative impact to the world.
Varkey's survey last year found Indonesians were the happiest, scoring 90 percent on the net happiness score, with world's average at mere 59.35 percent. The Generation Z: Global Citizenship Survey by Varkey involved 20,000 young people in 20 countries.
Generation Z refers to those born between 1995 and 2001, the post-millennial generation. Among others, Indonesia also had the highest level of emotional well-being at 40 percent, with world's average at 29.95 percent. Young Indonesians did not think about problems too much, did not feel anxious, bullied, lonely, or unloved.
A separate survey finds that global millennials are skeptical toward religious leaders. 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey reported that 52 percent millennials stated that religious or faith leaders brought negative impact on the world, with only 33 percent said otherwise.
More millennials believed that NGO leaders and business leaders had positive impact, at 59 percent and 44 percent respectively. Millennials were particularly skeptical toward political leaders, with a staggering 71 percent believing that they brought negative impact, contrary to 19 percent who thought otherwise.
This is despite views among millennials that corporate and business are more interested in pursuing their own agenda and making money than helping society or doing business ethically.
Deloitte questioned 10,455 millennials across 36 countries and 1,844 Gen Z in six countries. No member from Indonesia's Gen Z was questioned in the Deloitte survey. Millennials in the Deloitte survey refer to those born between 1983 and 1994, while Gen Z includes those born between 1995 and 1999.
Moses Ompusunggu, Jakarta Indonesia, one of the planet's major plastic polluters, is now banking on one of its biggest resources to entice people to take a plastic bag diet: Muslim clerics.
On Tuesday, the government declared a cooperation with clerics from the country's largest Muslim groups, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, to change consumer behavior pertaining to the use of plastic shopping bags.
In the partnership, NU and Muhammadiyah now have a mission to promote the use of reusable bags to cut plastic bag use in Indonesia.
"NU and Muhammadiyah have a large number of followers. The most forceful way is for their clerics to tell the masses in a simple way to change their mind sets," Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, the Environment and Forestry Ministry's director general for waste management, told reporters on Tuesday.
Indonesia is desperately trying to end the dependency of its people on plastic shopping bags, having pledged to reduce its waste volume to 30 percent by 2025.
The use of plastic bags in Indonesia has increased over the past 10 years to approximately 9.8 billion plastic bags per year 95 percent of which end up unprocessed, according to the Environment and Forestry Ministry.
NU and Muhammadiyah said in a joint statement that they were committed to "carrying out a plastic bag use reduction movement, which is part of an Islamic culture, by implementing it in numerous activities from childhood to adult level."
The two organizations, which boast more than 100 million followers combined, said they would also conduct a "reusable bag movement" that would be introduced gradually within their organizations and at their regional branches.
"The declaration shows that the NU does not only care about politics or religion, as many people think," Fitria Aryani, the waste bank director of the NU's Disaster Mitigation and Climate Change Agency (LPBI NU), told the media on Tuesday.
Fitria said the declaration followed an NU initiative launched in May, "Ngaji Sampah", which translates to "sermons on waste". In the program, broadcast online by NU's central office in Jakarta once a month, clerics connect waste management with religious norms in their sermons.
"The next session of ngaji sampah, to be held after the Idul Fitri holiday, will discuss the reduction of plastic shopping bags," said Fitria. (swd)
Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura Ahead of World Environment Day on June 5, Papua province declared the area would be free of plastic waste by 2020, which coincides with the province's hosting the 20th National Games (PON XX).
"We hope everyone will support this program in their daily lives," Papua Governor Soedarmo said at Monday's event marking Word Environment Day.
The province is readying Jayapura municipality and the regencies of Jayapura, Biak, Jayawijaya, Mimika and Merauke for hosting PON XX. Soedarmo said he would send letters to regional leaders to support the waste elimination program, which included public awareness campaigns on the importance of recycling plastic waste. The program also encouraged people to reduce the use of plastics.
Papua Environment Agency head Martha Mandosir said she would propose that a special unit be set up within the agency to deal with plastic waste, which were often found in gutters and the rivers of Papua. (evi)
Jakarta Indonesia needs nearly a million new teachers for state schools to replace those who retire, die or leave the job, as well as to anticipate the growth in student and school numbers, a ministry official has said.
Education and Culture Ministry spokesperson Ari Santoso said in a press release on Thursday that the ministry had made a proposal to the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry to recruit gradually, beginning with 100,000 teachers for state schools this year.
According to Ari, Indonesia currently has 2.1 million teachers nationwide. Yet, the country needs an additional 988,133 teachers. He did not elaborate on his calculation.
"However, assuming that some teachers are capable of teaching more than one subject in two different educational levels, I think we can make do with 707,324 teachers," Ari said.
With state schools in dire need of new teachers, Ari added, the ministry had suggested the recruitment of 100,000 new teachers every year, from 2018 to 2024.
The education ministry will also create a list to decide which schools should be prioritized for the additional teachers.
"The priority list will be made according to a school's student to teacher ratio and location," Ari said. (dpk)
Pribadi Wicaksono, Yogyakarta The recent raid conducted by Indonesian anti-terrorism special ops Densus 88 at the University of Riau attracted the attention of the managements at Gadjah Mada University (UGM) Yogyakarta.
UGM Rector Panut Mulyono said that his campus refuses to let any similar event take place within the area of his campus.
"We have many Student Executive Boards (BEM), which has many of the students staying overnight in campus facilities. This is what we will observe," said Panut at the Yogyakarta Governor's office yesterday.
Furthermore, Panut said that campus managements plan to regulate the way students stays overnight at campus grounds through a permit system that will be provided by each student's faculty member.
"We also requested for every faculty leader to actively participate in monitoring the location used for student activities. Don't let there be any dangerous chemicals used for explosives or illegal drugs," said Panut.
As it was reported, the three suspected terrorists arrested in the University of Riau had ready to use explosives and several materials to construct it, such as KN03 fertilizer, sulfur, sugar, and charcoal.
However, Panut asserted that he will not prevent his students to conduct late night activities or ones that last overnight as long as it has an academic content to it.
As an academic in engineering, Panut fully understands the tasks that UGM students need to work on, especially the ones that cannot be taken home. "Such as architecture students, many of their assignments must be worked on until late in the evening. There is no problem with this as long as it's procedural," said Panut.
Evi Mariani, Jakarta The Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) suspended a student organization for allegedly being involved with the now disbanded Muslim group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI).
According to the university's vice rector for academic and student affairs, Bermawi P. Iskandar, the organization had been suspended two weeks ago as a final warning.
Prior to the suspension, Bermawi said the university had given verbal warnings as the organization, the Harmonious Deeds and Knowledge Bridge organization, often invited HTI figures to its events.
"They already had discussions with HTI figures twice on campus and posted information about the discussions on social media. We warned them because the discussions were related to HTI's aspirations," he said as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday.
However, Bermawi said, there were no significant changes after the warnings were given. The university then decided to suspend the organization. The organization itself has existed at ITB for five years and has 59 members.
As the organization held the discussion as its main event, Bermawi said his team had launched an investigation to find out if there was any dangerous activity taking place in the organization.
If the investigation showed any indication of dangerous activity, it was possible that the university would have permanently banned the organization.
"Thankfully, the organization did not conduct any destructive activities," he said. (dpk)
Jakarta The government plans to monitor the activity of college students on social media as part of efforts to prevent the spread of radical ideologies, a minister has said.
Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Mohammad Nasir said his side was cooperating with the Communications and Information Ministry to track students' social media accounts and profile them.
"We need to be more cautious of the spread of radical ideas on social media," Nasir said as quoted by tempo.com on Thursday.
He also invited university managements to participate in tracking their students' social media accounts to ensure they were not being exposed to radicalism. Nasir also plans to gather rectors nationwide to discuss radicalism on June 25.
The move follows the National Police's Densus 88 antiterror squad's recent raid at Riau University in Pekanbaru, during which the squad arrested three suspected terrorists and confiscated homemade explosives.
The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) found that social media had been used to spread radical teachings. The agency also suspects college students in Java and Sulawesi have been exposed to radical teachings, albeit at different levels of exposure.
Separately, a survey conducted by the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) in 2017 showed that 39 percent of college students in 15 provinces across Indonesia rejected democracy and disagreed with Pancasila as the nation's ideology. (dpk/swd)
Aman Rochman, Malang, East Java Preventive measures against the spread of radical teachings and anti-Pancasila movements can be launched during new student orientation events to protect campuses from such ideologies, a rector has said.
Brawijaya University Rector Moch. Bisri said it was difficult for universities to issue guidelines on the prevention of radicalism. "It is law enforcers that are responsible to issue guidelines, which we can later translate into campus regulations," the rector said on Monday.
Bisri said universities had become a red zone for the spread of radicalism, citing the influence of hardline Islamist group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI).
He admitted there had been radical movements on campuses, including at Brawijaya University. These movements grew beneath the surface, especially after the banning of the HTI, who were accused of supporting the idea of an Islamic caliphate replacing Pancasila.
"There has been a spread of radicalism on our campus, which has 60,000 students. This movement has worked effectively during our student orientation events, although most of the time it is not easily detected," said Bisri.
To prevent such movements, Bisri said, the university would distribute nationalist materials to new students during their orientation and alert them about organizations that adopt radical ideologies.
Malang State University Rector Roifudin said preventing radicalism could not be conducted through repressive measures.
Islamic State University Malang rector Abdul Haris said his university had applied a one-year Islamic boarding school education system for new students.
"During this program, we introduce them to Islamic teachings, which uphold the principle of Islam as a rahmatan lil alamin [blessing for the whole world]," he said. (ebf)
Moses Ompusunggu and Rizal Harahap, Jakarta/Pekanbaru Indonesian universities are tightening monitoring on student activities following the arrest of a suspected terrorist in a state university in Sumatra last Saturday.
The National Police's counterterrorism unit, Densus 88, arrested on Saturday three Riau University (Unri) alumni over an alleged plan to launch an attack on the House of Representatives building in Jakarta and the Riau Council building in Pekanbaru.
The arrests marked the first time law enforcement personnel arrested suspected terrorists inside a university. Police have in the past arrested university students and alumni allegedly connected to terrorist groups, but all of the arrests were made away from campus.
After the arrests in Riau, the Medan-based North Sumatra University (USU), located in Riau's neighboring province of North Sumatra, instructed all university departments to stop activities on the institution's premises by 10 p.m.
"Every course taught at USU must end by 9:30 p.m. After that time, we prohibit [students and lecturers] from holding activities [inside the USU compound] to anticipate anything related to radicalism," said USU rector Runtung Sitepu on Monday.
Rundung said that even though USU had yet to discover any activity related to radicalism being conducted on the university premises, the university's central office had visited all departments to "convey moral messages" to lecturers and students about the danger of "being contaminated by radical teachings".
Of the three men arrested on Saturday, one has been declared a suspect by the police, while the other two were declared witnesses.
The police have said the suspect, identified as Muhammad Nur Zamzam, was connected to Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a local pro-Islamic State (IS) extremist group accused of launching the recent terror attacks in numerous areas in Indonesia, including in Riau province.
On Monday, scholars from Unri, located in Riau province's capital of Pekanbaru, endorsed a declaration to "strengthen its commitment to combating" terrorism, radicalism and intolerance, which they considered as "activities that violate the law and intend to divide the NKRI", referring to the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.
Unri rector Aras Mulyadi said the university would take several measures to prevent radicalism from spreading within the institution, with one such measure being the intensive monitoring and controlling of student activities carried out at Unri.
"The recent event [the arrest] must be the first and the last to take place at Unri," Aras said.
Educational institutions like universities had long been seen as places where people could freely conduct any activity, including "negative activities", said Abdul Rasyid Jalil, deputy rector of Hasanuddin University (Unhas) in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province.
"That is why we have intensified our monitoring of activities conducted in either departments or student extracurricular groups," Abdul said.
Unhas has begun the intensified monitoring because many alumni are still involved in student organizations held inside the university compound, said Abdul. Abdul said Unhas also prohibited activities from being held inside the university after 10 p.m.
The police's initial investigation revealed that the suspected terrorists in Riau had stayed in the building for one month, during which time they allegedly constructed bombs and planned to blow up the Riau Legislative Council in Pekanbaru and the House of Representatives in Jakarta.
"There were explosive materials at the scene on campus. We deemed them to be dangerous, so the measures [to remove them] were taken when there was no academic activity going on inside the campus," said National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammad Iqbal.
The arrests on Saturday showed that members of terror groups are approaching and recruiting students or academics at educational institutions, said Ridwan Habib, a terrorism expert at the University of Indonesia (UI) in Depok, West Java.
"These groups often use a personal approach to recruit those with prior links to other Islamic groups that have values similar to those they offer," said Ridwan on Sunday.
Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Mohamad Nasir told the Indonesian press recently that the government held data about universities whose students were exposed to radical ideas on campus. Since then, a list of seven top state universities has circulated, quoting the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) as the source.
The seven are: University of Indonesia, Airlangga University, Brawijaya University, Sepuluh November Technology University, Bandung Institute of Technology, Bogor Agriculture Institute and Diponegoro University.
Last year, the ministry said it planned to issue a regulation to control the spread of radical views on campuses. A search of regulations on their website on Monday, using the keywords "radikalisme" and "radikal", did not reveal any results.
What the ministry and the BNPT meant about "exposure to radicalism" was radical teachings and persuasion by outside influences to join radical movements on campus.
However, terrorism expert Ridwan Habib said students and other members of academia exposed to extremist teachings were not necessarily part of a radical group or likely to become involved in terror acts.
Based on The Jakarta Post's interview with Zamzam's friend at Riau University, Zamzam was not a devout Muslim and was not known to have joined any Quran recital groups anywhere.
The friend, Syahrul Mubarak, who referred to Zamzam as Zega, said he knew Zamzam as they enrolled at the university in the same year and because both were members of the university's mountaineering club. Syahrul said Zamzam had not been a devout Muslim until a year ago, and described him as preman mau insaf, loosely translated as a "repentant delinquent".
Syahrul said Zamzam began to change when he read about Palestine's fight for its own country and about IS on the internet.
"All of a sudden, he started bragging that he wanted to carry out jihad, talking about bombs and going to Syria. We, the friends who usually hung out with him, of course laughed at him," Syahrul told the Post on Monday. "Don't get us wrong, he is not a devout figure. He does not even pray five times a day. If there were people drinking together, he joined [them]," he said.
Syahrul believed the other two alumni arrested along with Zamzam were less likely to be involved in terrorist activities.
Jakarta Authorities of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) will not be damaged by the government and House of Representatives' deliberations of the Criminal Code (KUHP), a minister has said.
Through a statement received by The Jakarta Post, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Hamonangan Laoly said on Wednesday that the KPK did not need to worry because corruption-related articles that had been included in the KUHP bill were not designed to extenuate the punishment for graft perpetrators.
"Laws that regulate corruption crimes are exempted from the Criminal Code; hence these laws are categorized as lex specialis [special laws]. It means articles [related to corruption investigations] in the 2001 Corruption Law will not be repealed," Yasonna said.
As previously reported, the House's KUHP bill working committee (Panja), along with the government, has decided to include some corruption-related articles in the bill.
All this time, the KPK has been using the 2001 Corruption Law to conduct antigraft investigations. This decision has triggered KPK protests as the antigraft body considers it may hinder the progress of its work in solving corruption cases.
Yasonna further said the KPK still had the authority to conduct investigations over graft cases as stipulated both in the existing Corruption Law and the KUHP bill. "Articles for corruption crimes have also been included in a chapter on special crimes in the bill," he said. (dpk/ebf)
Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta Politicians Aziz Syamsudin of the Golkar Party and Ganjar Pranowo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) have confirmed their absence from Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) questioning into the e-ID graft case on Tuesday.
They appeared to choose running errands for their political parties elsewhere as they asked to reschedule via letters sent to the antigraft body.
"Aziz said he had to undergo a [Golkar] Party event in Lampung today," KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said on Tuesday. "Thus, he asked to reschedule for June 6 [Wednesday]."
Meanwhile, Ganjar, a former deputy chairman of the House's Commission II on home affairs, which deliberated the project between 2010 and 2012, cited campaign activities for his re-election bid in the upcoming Central Java gubernatorial race as a reason to skip Tuesday's questioning. "He [Ganjar] is preparing for his candidacy," Febri said.
Aziz and Ganjar are among politicians on the list of witnesses to be grilled by the KPK this week in an investigation into the e-ID graft case, which reportedly caused Rp 2.3 trillion (US$165 million) in state losses.
The series of witness questionings kicked off on Monday with former lawmaker Mirwan Amir and five current lawmakers the PDI-P's Arif Wibowo, Golkar's Agun Gunanjar, Melchias Markus Mekeng, House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo and the Democratic Party's Khatibul Umam being summoned.
All but Bambang, who cited a tight schedule elsewhere, came to answer the Monday summons. (ipa)
Jakarta The National Police revealed on Tuesday that 96 people allegedly involved in terrorist activities had been captured or killed across Indonesia as part of a crackdown on terrorist networks in the country.
National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said the police were currently striving to uncover terrorist networks in Indonesia following the deadly riot at the police's Mobile Brigade headquarters (Mako Brimob) detention center in Depok, West Java, which took the lives of five police officers in May.
"Fourteen of [those 96 people] were gunned down by the police force for attempting to resist arrest," Tito said during a joint coordination meeting at the National Police headquarters on Tuesday.
He explained that terrorist networks existed in most Indonesian provinces. Some of them were sleeper cells at the moment, but others were active.
Learning from the Surabaya bombings, Tito said, sleeper cells were more prone to committing terrorist acts than active ones. However, it was also important to keep an eye on the active terrorist cells, he went on.
On Sunday, counterterrorism squad Densus 88 captured three alleged terrorists in Pringsewu regency, Lampung. The suspects were identified only as US, 43, IN, 37, and IM, 42. They stand accused of being involved with Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), the largest local terrorist group, which pledges allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group. (nor/dpk/ebf)
Sheany, Jakarta Indonesia and Australia have agreed to continue cooperation in counterterrorism and cyber security, Chief Security Minister Wiranto said on Monday (04/06).
"We agreed to coordinate efforts with Australia to tackle terrorism. We also discussed how we can cut off terrorism financing," Wiranto said, after a meeting in Jakarta with recently appointed Australian Ambassador Gary Quinlan.
"We need to work together to accelerate our cyber capabilities, and to balance the fast regional and global developments," Wiranto said.
Since the 2002 Bali bomb attack that killed 88 Australians, the neighbor has been in close counterterrorism cooperation with Indonesia, helping the latter to fight the Jamaah Islamiyah terrorist group responsible for the bombing.
Today, Indonesia faces new threats from the Islamic State, which is trying to have a foothold in Southeast Asia.
According to a statement issued by the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, another special meeting is planned by Indonesia and Australia with Malaysia, the Philippines, New Zealand and Brunei.
This will be a follow-up to a meeting in July 2017, when the six countries agreed to synchronize law enforcement efforts and share intelligence on terrorist activities.
Last year, Indonesia adopted several approaches to step up security and tackle emerging threats, including stronger cooperation with Malaysia and the Philippines as a response to the hostile takeover of Marawi City in southern Philippines by Islamic militants.
The siege prompted concerns from Indonesia and Malaysia, which feared that militants could flee to nearby North Maluku and Sabah.
Last month, Indonesia saw the deadliest series of terrorist attacks on its soil, when terrorism convicts at the detention center of the National Police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) in Depok, West Java, instigated a days-long riot and killed five officers. The incident was followed by suicide bombings in East Java, which killed 28 people.
The House of Representatives approved revisions to the 2003 Antiterrorism Law on May 25, after more than two years of deliberations, allowing tougher preventive measures to reduce the risk of attacks by terrorists.
Rizal Harahap, Vela Andapita and Kharishar Kahfi, Pekanbaru/Jakarta The National Police's Densus 88 counterterrorism unit's recent raid and arrest of three people at a state university has opened a new chapter in the country's fight against terror.
While radicalism has reportedly been growing in higher education institutions in the last few years, the alleged terrorism on campus is new.
The police were said over the weekend to have found explosive materials hidden at the Gelanggang Mahasiswa student facility of the social and political sciences department (FISIP) at Riau University in Pekanbaru.
What's next for Indonesia's counterterrorism measures? Should it send intelligence officers to universities, known as a place of academic freedom in democratic Indonesia? Here is what we know so far on the Riau University case:
A police statement made available on Sunday named the suspect as Muhammad Nur Zamzam or Zamzam, also known as Zega.
The statement said the police had been targeted Zamzam for some time and when they arrested him on campus on June 2, Zamzam was with two other people, Rio Bima Wijaya and Orandi Saputra, alias Kalek, who were also detained for questioning. As of noon on Monday, the police were yet to declare either Rio or Orandi as suspects.
Zamzam was formerly enrolled in Riau University's Tourism department in 2003 (not 2005 as previously reported), and had already graduated. He was a member of the university's extracurricular organization Mapala, the mountaineering club. Most universities in Indonesia have such a club with life membership, so many alumni can still access campus facilities.
According to the police statement, Zamzam was connected with Jamah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a local pro-Islamic State (IS) group led by Aman Abdurrahman, who is standing trial for allegedly masterminding the Jl. Thamrin bombing in Central Jakarta in January 2016. The police also said Zamzam knew the people behind the recent May 16attack on the Riau Police station.
Zamzam's university friend, Syahrul Mubarak, who referred to Zamzam as Zega, said he knew Zamzam from enrolling at the university in the same year and because both were members of the mountaineering club. Syahrul said Zamzam had not been a devout Muslim until a year ago, and described him as "preman mau insaf", loosely translated as a "repentant delinquent".
Syahrul said Zamzam began to change when he read about Palestine's fight for their own country and about the IS on the internet.
"All of a sudden, he started bragging that he wanted to do jihad, talking about bombs and going to Syria. We, the friends who usually hung out with him, of course laughed at him," Syahrul told The Jakarta Post on Monday. "Don't get us wrong, he is not a devout figure. He does not even pray five times a day. If there were people drinking together, he joined [them]," he said.
Syahrul added that Zamzam worked as a contractor and sometimes got projects on campus, which was why he often stayed at a homestay belonging to the mountaineering club, even though his parents lived in Pekanbaru.
Syahrul said Zamzam often told him "tall tales" about suicide bombings and terrorist networks, but that he did not believe the stories. However, since the arrest, Syahrul said all of Zamzam's tales were probably true.
Along with Zamzam's arrest, Densus 88 personnel confiscated several weapons and explosive materials consisting of six kinds of gunpowder, an air rifle, two bows with eight arrows and several hand grenades. The police also found an IS video and a book titled Perjalanan Rahasia (The Secret Journey).
A Riau Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) officer arrange evidence during a press conference following a raid at Riau University in Pekanbaru on Saturday night. The police said they found explosive material on campus.A Riau Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) officer arrange evidence during a press conference following a raid at Riau University in Pekanbaru on Saturday night. The police said they found explosive material on campus. (Antara/Rony Muharrman)
"The book contains tutorials on making bombs, weapons and land mines. It also contains techniques on survival, security and alert," the police statement read.
During the raid, Riau Police chief Insp. Gen. Nandang said that four high-explosive bombs had been defused, and that the bombs were reportedly similar in explosive power to the ones used last month in the terror attacks in Surabaya, East Java.
"The bombs were allegedly constructed by Zamzam. He allegedly also used social media to teach others [to make bombs] and to campaign for suicide bombings," said Nandang.
The police said Zamzam and the two other arrested alumni had been staying at the Gelanggang Mahasiswa FISIP building for a month.
"We had been watching them for around two weeks. They allegedly planned to blow up the Riau Legislative Council [in Pekanbaru] and the House of Representatives building in Jakarta," Nandang said.
Syahrul said the police discovered the evidence in an empty room on the second floor of the Gelanggang Mahasiswa FISIP. "There are many rooms in that building. We don't know when and how he built the bomb," he said. He also had no idea how Zamzam could store such materials without anyone else noticing. "Every day, many people flock the building because several organizations are headquartered there. But it could get a bit deserted at night, although there would usually be some students spending the night in other rooms there," he said.
National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammad Iqbal stressed that the raid had been carried out according to the police's standard operating procedure.
"There were explosive materials at the scene within the campus. We deemed them to be dangerous, hence the measure [to remove them] was taken when there was no academic activity on the campus," he said as quoted over the weekend by tribunnews.com.
Iqbal went on to deny that the raid was part of the police's attempt to repress university activities, noting that, "We'd do the same thing if the crime occurred in, for example, a house of worship."
Riau University rector Aras Mulyadi condemned the alumni's on-campus activities. "They weren't even allowed to be living there [at the Gelanggang Mahasiswa FISIP]. They're not students, university staff or lecturers," said Aras.
Aras said he would immediately summon university management and the leaders of student organizations and ask them to work together to prevent such incidents from happening again.
"This should be the first and the last attempt at plotting terror that occurs on our campus. We'll declare our condemnation of terrorism on Monday," he added. Campus radicals 'not the same' as terror cells
University of Indonesia terrorism expert Ridwan Habib said on Sunday that students and other members of academia exposed to extremist teachings were not necessarily part of a radical group or would potentially become involved in terror acts.
However, he said Saturday's arrests in Pekanbaru showed that members of terror groups were approaching and recruiting students or academics at educational institutions.
"These [extremist] groups often use a personal approach in recruiting those with prior links to other Islamic groups that have values similar to those they offer," said Ridwan.
Zamzam's friend Syahrul said, however, that as far as he knew, Zamzam had not been recruited on campus, but through social media. He believed the other two, Orandi and Rio, were unlikely to be involved in terrorism and radical activities. (evi)
Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Jakarta Indonesian anti-terrorism police have detained a former student and are questioning two others after a raid on a university campus in Pekanbaru, on Sumatra island, where crude bombs and other explosive material were seized, police said.
The former student is thought to have been planning attacks on the Indonesian parliament in Jakarta and the local assembly in Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau province, national police spokesman Setyo Wasisto told a news conference on Sunday.
An earlier police statement had said all three men had been named suspects, but Wasisto said that applied to only one and two were being questioned as witnesses.
Wasisto said the suspect had links to members of the Islamic State-inspired Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an umbrella organization on a U.S. State Department terrorist list that is reckoned to have drawn hundreds of Indonesian sympathizers.
During Saturday's raid on a faculty at Riau University, police found a pipe bomb, a homemade grenade, as well as the homemade explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP), known as the "Mother of Satan", Wasisto said.
They also seized an air rifle and sets of bows and arrows, as well as other material such as fertilizer that could be used to make bombs, he said.
Authorities have highlighted concerns about a rise in radicalism at universities in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country.
A number of recent surveys of students have pointed to significant support for Islamic State, carrying out jihad and the establishment of a caliphate in Indonesia.
After some major successes tackling Islamist militancy in the last two decades, there have also been a resurgence of attacks in recent years.
Last month, police shot dead four men who used samurai swords to attack officers at police headquarters in Pekanbaru.
That attack came soon after a series of suicide bombings by militants targeting churches and a police building in Indonesia's second-biggest of city of Surabaya.
In all, about 30 people were killed in the attacks in Surabaya, including 13 of the suspected suicide bombers.
Ahmad Faiz Ibnu Sani, Jakarta Democratic Party central board (DPP) chairman Ferdinand Hutahaean stated his organization declined to join a coalition initiated by Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab.
According to Ferdinand, the Democratic Party will not be working for Rizieq. "If we are to be working for Habib Rizieq, we are not interested," said Ferdinand today at his office, Wisma Proklamasi, Jakarta.
Ferdinand said the Democratic Party was in intensive communications with the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party. However, the communications did not last for long as Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto had a meeting with Rizieq.
"If Prabowo remains under Rizieq's command, the Democratic Party will not join [the coalition]," he said.
According to Ferdinand, no representatives from Gerindra or other parties have explained about the coalition. Thus, he views that the coalition is still a concept proposed by certain figures.
Ferdinand mentioned the FPI did not invite the Democratic Party to join the coalition since Rizieq was once imprisoned by the authorities under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono leadership.
After the meeting between Prabowo and Rizieq Shihab, Ferdinand added, Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or SBY issued an instruction to form a similar coalition.
Ferdinand explained the move was not meant to disrespect religious leaders. The Democratic Party, he went on, views Ulemas as advisors instead of policymakers.
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Margareth Aritonang, Jakarta The Gerindra Party, a nationalist-based opposition party led by Prabowo Subianto, appears to have supported an idea floated by Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab that it form an "ummah alliance" to challenge President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the 2019 presidential election.
The party called on the nation's Islamic parties to stand behind its candidate, Prabowo, against Jokowi, who has only secured the support of one Islamic party, the United Development Party (PPP).
The initiative to form a religiously orientated political alliance was proposed after Prabowo met with National Mandate Party (PAN) patron Amien Rais and Rizieq in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, last week.
Gerindra deputy chairman Fadli Zon confirmed on Tuesday that the party's attempt to create an "ummah alliance" was Rizieq's idea. Rizieq, who fled to Saudi Arabia while under investigation for his alleged role in a pornography case, appears to have become more influential among conservative Muslim groups opposed to the Jokowi administration.
"It makes sense we name it an 'ummah alliance', because the coalition is for the sake of the ummah and all of the people," Fadli said.
The party's move has fueled concerns that sectarian politics could play a role in the upcoming presidential election as it did during the 2014 presidential election and the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election.
Gerindra is currently close to two Muslim-based parties PAN and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). PAN is closely associated with Muhammadiyah, the nation's second-largest Islamic group after Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), while the PKS controls a vast network of urban Muslim activists inspired by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
The National Awakening Party (PKB) is the only Muslim-based party that has yet to decide whether to side with Jokowi or Prabowo in 2019. The PKB's support could be decisive as it is widely regarded as the party of NU, even though, like Muhammadiyah, NU is an independent organization with no affiliation to any political parties.
Gerindra has reportedly offered the PKB ministerial seats, along with the Democratic Party, a nationalist party that remains undecided whether to back Jokowi or Prabowo or to create a third axis and offer an alternative candidate.
The PKB has been aggressively offering its chairman, Muhaimin Iskandar, as a vice presidential candidate to Jokowi and Prabowo, but neither has yet accepted the offer. The Democratic Party is also seeking to pair its member, Agus Harimurti, with either of the two candidates.
"I am not saying that we would offer them ministerial seats, but we can offer power sharing. Power sharing is a requisite in any political negotiations for building an alliance," Fadli said. (ahw)
The main takeaway from Saturday's meeting Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader and pornography case fugitive Rizieq Shihab's and likely presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and National Mandate Party (PAN) board of trustees chairman Amien Rais in Saudi Arabia other than the possible formation of an Islamic-based party coalition in the 2019 election is that their group's next crusade will be against social media network Instagram over some removed photos.
The photos, which feature Rizieq being flanked by Prabowo, Amien Rais and other followers as they sat on the floor in seemingly jovial spirits, were first posted to Amien Rais' Instagram account @amienraisofficial. However, not long after they were put up, Instagram removed the photos for breaching community guidelines.
Kapitra Ampera, one of Rizieq's lawyers, said his client is taking the removal of the photos seriously and is intent on suing Instagram to an international court (though which one was not specified).
"This is our momentum. Gather all of the accounts that have been suspended with the warning that they did not meet [Instagram's] standards for posting several regular photos of HRS (Rizieq), because we will mobilize our legal team to process this even up to the international court," read a message from Rizieq to Kapitra that the latter showed to the Indonesian press that was picked up by Detik yesterday.
In the caption above, the admin for @amienraisofficial (it has since been established that the politician does not handle his own account) vaguely suggested that the powers that be in Indonesia are somehow at fault for the removal of the photos, saying, "This is proof that freedom of expression is one of the reform agendas that has become a casualty; we are being taken back to the repressive era (New Order), in the middle of false populist policies (Old Order). We all long for the light in the dark, not the other way around! Let's #saveIndonesia."
Amien Rais' daughter, Hanum Rais, doubled down on the conspiracy theory, tweeting, without providing any evidence, that those in power have asked Instagram to create a face detection algorithm for Rizieq Shihab so that his photos can be automatically removed from the social media platform.
The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), one of the parties lined up to join a potential coalition to back Prabowo in 2019, is less vague in placing the blame on President Joko Widodo for the removal of the photos.
This is part of a panic that led to blunder after blunder [by the current administration] that is actually strengthening the #2019GantiPresiden movement," said PKS Central Leadership Board Chairman Mardani Ali Sera, referring to the hashtag movement created by the opposition to have Jokowi replaced as president next year, as quoted by Detik today.
A representative for Instagram told Detik yesterday that they are looking into why the photos were removed, but said it was likely the result of user reports against the photos.
Of course, this is not the first time Rizieq's FPI has had issues with "Western" media over the removal of posts and accounts. Back in December, the group called on Muslims to boycott Facebook and create an alternative social media platform (which never materialized). Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, will there be calls for boycott against the photo sharing platform this time around?
Despite being a fugitive in Saudi Arabia hiding from pornography charges brought against him by the Indonesia Police, Rizieq Shihab, the founder of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), still holds a great deal of political sway in his homeland.
On Saturday, two of the country's most senior political figures, Gerindra chairman (and likely 2019 presidential candidate) Prabowo Subianto and National Mandate Party (PAN) board of trustees chairman Amien Rais, met Rizieq in the Holy Land to discuss political matters.
Novel Bamukmin, a spokesperson for Brotherhood Alumni 212 (the political action group made up of "alumni" of the massive protest against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on 2/12/2016), said that during the meeting with Prabowo and Amien, Rizieq said that he wanted PAN, and the Crescent Moon Party (PBB) to join Gerindra and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) to form the "Koalisi Keumatan" ("People's Coalition") to back Prabowo and defeat President Joko Widodo in the 2019 presidential election.
"We hope PAN and PBB formally join Gerindra and PKS. [Rizieq Shihab] also conveyed that he will only support candidates supported by the coalition and sanctioned by the 212 clerics," said Novel (the former FPI Jakarta spokesperson known to some as "Fitsah Hats") as quoted by Tempo.
Although Prabowo has been named Gerindra's pick for presidential candidate, his candidacy remains unofficial as he does not yet meet certain political support thresholds needed to register a candidate. For that, Gerindra will need the backing of other parties. Although PKS, PAN and PBB have all indicated they would be willing to join Prabowo's coalition, nothing has been finalized as the parties are still negotiating terms (with fighting particularly fraught over who would be Prabowo's potential VP).
The photos of Prabowo in Mecca with Rizieq are the clearest sign yet that the loser of the 2014 presidential election may embrace the Islamist-backed 212 protest movement in order to win in his rematch with the incumbent. Many analysts believe that it was Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan's embrace of Rizieq and the Islamists' anti-Ahok movement that brought him victory in the 2017 election and many predicted the opposition might adopt a similar strategy in 2019. Given that PKS, PAN and PBB are all considered "Islam-based" political parties, it looks increasingly likely that is the tact Prabowo will take.
But while Rizieq may still hold some sway even in exile, his words alone were evidently not enough for PAN to commit to a coalition, with PAN honorary board member Dradjad Wibowo saying that while they had agreed to more intensive discussions with the other parties, the particulars of a formal partnership still needed to be worked out.
Vela Andapita, Jakarta Pictures of politician Amien Rais meeting with cleric Rizieq Shihab who is currently on the National Police's wanted list in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, have gone viral on social media.
Amien had posted two photos of him with Rizieq on his official Instagram account on Sunday morning.
A screen grab from Amien Rais' Instagram story shows him shaking hands with Rizieq Shihab on Saturday.
Another photo shows the National Mandate Party's (PAN) chief patron sitting next to and holding hands with Rizieq, presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto and two prominent Muslim figures, Slamet Maarif and Ansufri Idrus Sambo.
Slamet and Ansufri are alumni of the 212 group that staged a rally on Dec. 12, 2016, which was attended by hundreds of thousands of Muslims, that demanded the government jail former Jakarta governor Basuki "Tjahaja" Purnama. "Let's unite to save Indonesia," Amien said in the photo's caption.
Ansufri confirmed that they visited Rizieq to talk about the 2019 presidential election. Prabowo, who is running as a presidential candidate, is seeking to build a strong coalition to challenge President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
Previously, the 212 alumni declared its support for Rizieq as a potential presidential candidate.
"But Rizieq told us that he doesn't want to run in the upcoming presidential election. He's so selfless that he doesn't want to let down his supporters nor hurt his haters," Ansufri told tempo.co on Saturday.
Gisela Swaragita, Jakarta Two major opposition figures, Prabowo Subianto and Amien Rais, are currently in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for a religious pilgrimage, sparking rumors of a possible meeting with firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab.
Gerindra Party deputy chairman Fery Juliantono told The Jakarta Post on Saturday that his party's chief patron flew to Mecca directly from Europe on Friday, while the National Mandate Party's (PAN) chief patron reportedly went to Mecca from Medina.
Desmond Junaidi Mahesa, another Gerindra politician, confirmed the meeting between Prabowo and Amien in Mecca, but stopped short of confirming if the two would meet with Rizieq, who fled to Saudi Arabia while being investigated for his alleged role in a pornography case.
Rumors swirled on Saturday that Prabowo and Amien may have met with Rizieq to talk about the 2019 presidential election.
Prabowo has been tapped as a presidential candidate by his party and is now seeking to build a strong coalition to challenge President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo again next year.
The former general is also looking to find a running mate, with Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan being tipped as one of the candidates with the most potential.
Rizieq's support may prove significant for Prabowo, with the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader now seen as an influential leader among Muslims supportive of the Dec. 2, 2016, rally against then-Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.
An alliance of Islamist groups linked to the rally which calls itself the Brotherhood of 212 Alumni has declared its support for Rizieq as a potential presidential candidate.
Habiburokhman, another Gerindra politician, said on Twitter that a meeting of "national figures" like Prabowo, Amien and Rizieq would be good for the country.
A tweet sent from his account @habiburokhman read: "Everyone is allowed to be close to and support [Prabowo], as well as other figures of other religions." (ahw)
M Rosseno Aji, Jakarta Chairman of the Board of Trustees of National Mandate Party (PAN) Amien Rais has flown to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to perform Umrah (Islamic pilgrimage) with his son who is also PAN politician Hanafi Rais, the 212 alumni brotherhood (PA 212) head Slamet Maarif, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician Aboe Bakar Al-Habsyi, and Garda 212 head Ansufri Idrus Sambo.
Tempo received a photo before their departure showing Amien Rais and others held up the index finger.
According to PA 212 spokesman Novel Bamukmin, the trip of Amien Rais and several politicians along with 212 alumni was aimed to perform umrah and meet Rizieq Shihab in Mecca.
"He [Amien Rais] will deliver the meeting minutes of 212 National Meeting yesterday," said Novel via a phone call on Friday, June 1. In the meeting, Rizieq Shihab was suggested to run in 2019 Presidential Election. Aside from Rizieq Shihab, the meeting recommended several names including Prabowo, West Nusa Tenggara Governor Tuan Guru Bajang Zainul Majdi, the Moon and Star Party (PBB) chairman Yusril Ihza Mahendra, PAN chairman Zulkifli Hasan as presidential or vice presidential candidate.
Previously, the plan of Amien Rais's departure to Mecca was conveyed by Gerindra Party deputy chairman Fadli Zon. He said Amien Rais would perform umrah with Prabowo Subianto and several cadres of PKS on June 1, and there would be a chance to meet Rizieq Shihab.
Jakarta Some 90 percent of the 152 intercity buses at the Kampung Rambutan bus terminal in East Jakarta failed ramp checks ahead of the Idul Fitri exodus, an official has said.
"One hundred and thirty-seven [intercity interprovincial, AKAP] buses did not pass the test, so only 15 buses passed the ramp check," Kampung Rambutan terminal head Emirald August Dwinanto said on Thursday as reported by kompas.com.
"We have carried out the test since May 15, and until now we have done ramp checks on 152 buses," he added.
He said the buses that did not pass the test could still operate but would be required to meet the bus safety equipment requirements. "Most of the buses did not pass the test because they did not have the standard equipment," Emirald said
He said the terminal authority would give leeway for the bus operators to meet the equipment requirements. "We will recheck the buses and place a sticker on the buses that have passed the ramp check," he said.
Idul Fitri is expected to fall on June 15-16. (ami)
Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) founder Rizieq Shihab's days as a fugitive in Saudi Arabia might be coming to an end soon, with Indonesian police now saying that the pornography charge against him could be dropped. Yesterday, Rizieq's lawyer Kapitra Ampera told the media that he had received information that the police were dropping Rizieq's pornography charge, which was filed against him after alleged evidence of his extramarital affair with a woman (in the form of nude photos and sexts) leaked online last year.
Rizieq went into exile in Saudi Arabia as soon as he was named a suspect under Indonesia's strict anti-pornography law and he pledged he would not come home until this case, as well as other criminal charges against him, were dropped.
National Police Spokesperson Mohammad Iqbal today neither confirmed nor denied the rumors, but indicated that Rizieq's pornography charge being dropped is a possibility as the police's investigation into the case has gone cold.
"As far as I know, according to expert witnesses, investigators handling this case must interrogate the uploader of the chat (between Rizieq and his alleged mistress). The uploader has not been interrogated," Iqbal said today, as quoted by Detik. "An SP3 (Investigation Termination Warrant) is possible."
The police have not been able to identify the uploader of Rizieq's alleged sexts or his alleged mistress' nude photos, even though the investigation into the case started over a year ago.
Last month, the West Java Police dropped Rizieq's Pancasila insult case, citing lack of criminal intent by the then-suspect. That move came not long after President Joko Widodo's representatives visited Rizieq in Saudi Arabia, which led to speculations that the president may be ready to influence the police into dropping the firebrand cleric's criminal charges in exchange for political favors ahead of the 2019 presidential election.
But it appears Rizieq still holds great political sway even with his being absent from the country, with Jokowi's likely sole challenger Prabowo Subianto himself visiting Rizieq in Saudi this week to discuss the formation of a coalition to challenge the incumbent in next year's election.
Over the past couple of years, Rizieq was reported to the police at least on 11 occasions, including for blasphemy against Christianity, spreading misinformation that the national currency is secretly a communist tool, and defamation. However, he was only formally named a suspect in two cases, the pornography case and the Pancasila insult case.
One of the earliest controversies surrounding Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan was his inauguration speech in October, during which he said that it's time for the pribumi (a term loosely defined as a "native" Indonesian citizen) to be the masters of their own land again.
The controversy is back in the spotlight again today as the Central Jakarta District Court rejected a lawsuit over the speech filed by a group named Anti-Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Advocacy Team (Taktis) back in October.
In reading out the judges' decision, presiding judge Tafsir Sembiring ruled that the plaintiff did not have a personal legal connection with the defendant, which is necessary for a civil lawsuit.
"It's highly likely that we'll appeal to the High Court," said Taktis member Daniel Tonapa Masiku at the conclusion of the hearing, as quoted by Kompas today.
During his inauguration speech on October 16, 2017, Anies said, "Jakarta is one of the few places in Indonesia that felt the presence of colonialists in our daily lives for centuries. In those days, we pribumi were oppressed and defeated. Now that we're sovereign, it's time for us to be masters of our own nation. Don't let Jakarta be like that Maduran saying: 'The duck lays the eggs but the chickens hatch them.'"
His speech was derided by many to be in poor taste considering he had just defeated non-pribumi former Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in a long and oft-times ugly campaign as well as for accentuating racial divisions that resulted from the Jakarta election last year.
It was pointed out that his speech violated a presidential edict from 1998 disallowing the use of the term pribumi when referring to Indonesians in political communication. Another group, Banteng Muda Indonesia (BMI), a youth wing of the PDI-P party, reported Anies to the police over the speech, which they argued was a direct violation of Law no. 40/2008 on the Eradication of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination, punishable by up to five years in prison. However, that lawsuit seems to have gone nowhere.
When asked to comment, Anies said that his speech, and his use of the word pribumi, was said in context of the Dutch colonial era. He has since refused to elaborate further on what he meant as public uproar over the controversy gradually died down.
Jakarta The Jakarta administration has urged the Mosque Welfare Council (DKM) in the city to be selective in inviting preachers to deliver sermons amid fear of radicalism being taught at houses of worship.
"We urge the DKM to present preachers that promote peace and are able to maintain a conducive environment," Bureau of Mental and Spiritual Education (Dikmental) head, Hendra Hidayat, said at City Hall on Wednesday.
The concern was expressed following a report that radicalism had infiltrated at least 40 mosques in the capital.
Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno said on Tuesday that he had obtained the names of the 40 mosques in question. He said the administration would take steps to prevent radicalism from growing by empowering their economy.
"One of the problems that leads to radicalism is injustice and [the lack of] understanding, which the younger generation are continuously being indoctrinated with, causing them to take a shortcut. There is no other way than education and giving them an opportunity to become successful entrepreneurs through the OK OCE program," he said on Tuesday as quoted by kompas.com. He was referring to an entrepreneurial program he introduced during the election campaign.
During the election, political observers believed that mosques had been utilized to discourage voters from supporting then-governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who was seeking reelection.
Some mosques reportedly erected banners stating that they would refuse to be used as a place to perform rites for supporters of a blasphemer, referring to Ahok, who was accused of committing blasphemy against Islam. (fac)
Jakarta A group opposed to the privatization of Jakarta's piped water supply has submitted to the Central Jakarta District Court a counter-memorandum to the judicial review on the water privatization case filed by the Finance Ministry.
The Coalition of Jakarta Residents Opposed to Water Privatization (KMMSAJ) has won a Supreme Court ruling instructing the Jakarta administration to put an end to the privatization and return the authority for water treatment and distribution to city-owned water company PT PAM Jaya.
"The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the civil society. We're very disappointed that the Finance Ministry still cannot accept it," the plaintiffs' representative, Nurhidayah, said on Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
Through the judicial review, the Finance Ministry attempts to challenge the Supreme Court's decision.
The coalition's counter-memorandum, meanwhile, contained 13 points aimed at strengthening the plaintiffs' stance against the ministry, Nurhidayah said, adding that it pointed out the ministry had failed to present new arguments and kept holding on to a policy that was causing state losses.
On April 10 last year, the Supreme Court granted the cessation petition of KMSSAJ and decreed that PAM Jaya's cooperation with PT Lyonnaise Jaya (Palyja) and PT Aetra Air Jakarta since 1997 was illegal, because it gave water treatment authority to private entities.
The verdict states that the privatization had not improved the water supply to residents in terms of either quality, quantity or continuity. (vla)
Jakarta The consumer confidence index (CCI) rose 1 percent to 99.5, from 98.5 in May, after declining by 2.2 percent in April, according to Danareksa Research Institute's (DRI) survey.
"Our latest survey reveals that consumers gave more positive assessments on current economic conditions and the state of the job market," said DRI in a press statement received by The Jakarta Post on Monday.
Consumer concerns on job scarcity eased from 39.0 to 36.7 percent in May, while consumer concerns on the high prices and scarcity of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) also declined from 14.3 to 10.6 percent in May.
Of the two main components that make up the CCI, only one increased in May, says DRI, adding that the component measuring consumer sentiment toward current conditions, the present situations index (PSI), climbed 4.0 percent to 84.7 percent, as sentiment toward the current state of the economy and the job market improved.
"By contrast, the other main component of the CCI the one measuring consumer sentiment toward the future (the Expectations Index, or EI) crept down by 0.7 percent to 110.6. The fall in this index reflects weaker consumer optimism toward the economy and the job market outlook over the next six months," the statement says.
With consumers less upbeat on the national economic outlook, buying intentions for durable goods also declined to 40.49 percent from 41.59 percent in the previous month.
"Nevertheless, on a yearly comparison, buying intentions for durable goods are still higher since only 39.50 percent of consumers expressed plans to purchase a durable good back in May 2017," it says. (bbn)
Jakarta Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said his ministry has revoked a regulation that requires the use of Indonesian ships to export and import three commodities coal, crude palm oil and rice.
Trade Ministerial Regulation No. 82/2017 on the use of sea transportation and national insurance for export and import of certain commodities was revoked in response to protests by businesspeople about the difficulties in fulfilling the requirement.
"The regulation has been revoked," the minister confirmed as reported by kontan.co.id after attending a breaking-of-the-fast event at his office in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, Enggartiasto said he had met with members of the Indonesia National Ship Owners Association to find out about the readiness of the country's shipping companies to take over the export-import operations of the three commodities.
However, it became apparent the national shipping companies were not ready to take over export-import operations.
Before revoking the regulation, the Trade Ministry reportedly issued Trade Ministerial Regulation No. 48/2018 to revise the contents of Regulation No. 82/2017, which postponed the requirement of using Indonesian ships for export and import of the three commodities. (bbn)
Jakarta Malaysia has taken over China's position as the largest contributing country of tourists to Indonesia in April, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).
The BPS said on Monday that foreign tourists visiting Indonesia reached 1.3 million in April, 215,339 of which came from Malaysia or 16.56 percent of all foreign tourists. Malaysian tourist arrivals had grown 25.53 percent year on year (yoy) in April.
The second-largest contributing country was China, which had sent 185,167 tourists or 14.24 percent of total tourist arrivals in April, with 9.97 percent yoy growth.
The arrivals of more Malaysian tourists to Indonesia was supported by the opening of new flight routes, such as Miri-Pontianak and Kuching-Pontianak, said BPS head Suhariyanto.
"The opening of new routes facilitates Malaysian tourists to visit Indonesia. Any opening of direct flights had a significant impact on tourist arrivals," he added.
The number of tourist arrivals in April declined 4.59 percent from the previous month, but compared to the figure in April, 2017, it had grown 11.04 percent yoy.
In April arrivals at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, the main gate of the country, declined 8.45 percent, while arrivals in Batam, Riau Islands declined 0.31 percent, from arrivals in March.
Meanwhile, arrivals at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport increased 6.46 percent from March. "The cumulative tourist arrivals from January to April reached 4.9 million," he added. (bbn)
Jakarta The Indonesian Traditional Fishermen Association (KNTI) says the revision of a presidential regulation (Perpres) on procurement, distribution and retail prices of subsidized fuels has failed to solve the fuel scarcity problem affecting fishermen.
The KNTI says that its members in many parts of the country have found it difficult to buy subsidized Solar diesel fuel and Premium gasoline to operate their fishing boats.
"As of the issuance of this press release, traditional fishermen across the country still find difficulty in accessing both Solar and Premium based on the national price standards," said the KNTI in a press release on Monday.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo issued Perpres No. 43/2018 as a revision to Perpres No. 191/2014 on the procurement, distribution and retail prices of subsidized fuels to address the scarcity of subsidized fuels.
The government set the price of Premium and Solar at Rp 6,550 (47 US cents) and Rp 5,150 per liter.
Meanwhile, the KNTI said fuel prices in a number of regions were higher, claiming that in fishermen villages in Surabaya, East Java, Premium was sold at Rp 9,000, while Solar at Rp 8,000. (bbn)
Jakarta The Indonesian government expects to take a controlling stake in the operator of the world's biggest copper and gold mine this month, even as sanctions it imposed for environmental violations threaten to hamstring the multibillion-dollar deal.
Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan is expected to divest its decades-old majority stake in its Indonesian subsidiary, PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI), the operator of the Grasberg mine in Papua province, by the end of June, according to Ignasius Jonan, Indonesia's minister of energy and mines.
In testimony to the country's parliament on May 30, Ignasius said the move, mandated under the country's mining law, would cut Freeport's stake in PTFI to 49 percent, from the current 90.64 percent, although it will remain the mine's operator. The Indonesian government, through state-owned mining holding company PT Inalum, will control 51 percent, up from 9.36 percent at present. The takeover has been valued as high as $8.1 billion.
Discussions between Freeport and PT Inalum have "reached the final stage," Jonan said as reported by local media. "We hope the whole acquisition process can be completed in June, which is among the government's requests to extend [Freeport's operation]."
However, Inalum CEO Budi Gunadi Sadikin told reporters in May that the main hurdle to the acquisition was the dumping of mining waste, or tailings, by PTFI, for which the government has imposed sanctions on the miner.
Budi said Freeport had "made breaches that need to be revised through the environmental audit," Reuters reported on May 24. "The biggest issue is the issue of tailings that has to be improved," Sadikin said.
The sanctions on PTFI, imposed in October last year, stemmed from findings by the Indonesian state auditor, the BPK, that identified a wide range of irregularities in the company's operations and contract. These included indications of reckless mining, and the dumping of mining waste into rivers, forests and the sea. An earlier review by the agency pegged the environmental damage from the company's operations at 185 trillion rupiah ($13.1 billion).
In April this year, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry followed up with a pair of decrees ordering PTFI to overhaul its waste management within six months. They include slashing toxicity levels at dumping sites and producing a strategic environmental impact assessment, known as a KLHS. Freeport has balked at the conditions laid out, with its CEO, Richard Adkerson, saying they imposed "undue and unachievable restrictions" on Freeport's basic operations, according to the Reuters report.
Reuters also quoted local media as reporting that Adkerson, in a letter to the government, 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."
"The main point is that [Freeport] must fix all of this, though we know it can't all be done at one time," Siti Nurbaya Bakar, Indonesia's environment minister, told reporters in Jakarta on May 23. "We are giving them a transition period in which they can consult with the government [on the waste management]."
The minister and officials from Freeport have met several times to discuss the decrees on the tailings management, with the latest taking place in Jakarta on May 17.
Siti said that particular meeting lasted almost three hours, but no decision was reached. She said her office would continue to talk with Freeport officials, and that pending a conclusive outcome, PTFI would still be allowed to operate.
PTFI spokesman Riza Pratama, however, was not as optimistic about the company being able to comply with the decrees.
"The new ministerial decrees are impossible to be implemented right now, and we are still trying to negotiate with the environment ministry to find a solution," he said on May 24 as reported by local media.
The BPK audit that set off the sanctions and decrees over PTFI's waste management practices also found that Freeport had used 4,536 hectares (11,208 acres) of protected forest area without obtaining the proper permits, costing the government $20 million in lost fees between 2008 and 2015.
In addition to the environmental damages, PTFI's operations have also been blamed for disrupting the lives of the indigenous Papuans whose ancestral territory is the site of Freeport's mining town of Timika.
The indigenous Amungme and Kamoro communities traditionally subsisted on sustainable agriculture, fishing and hunting until the opening of the mine in 1967. They were stripped of their rights to 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles) of their ancestral land, and over the following decades have been further displaced and marginalized by migrants from elsewhere in Indonesia drawn to the mining boomtown.
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), a state-funded body, said in March 2017 that PTFI had never compensated the indigenous people as the original stewards of the land where it operates, characterizing Freeport's concession as a land grab.
Activists have urged the government to use the BPK's findings as a basis in the share negotiations with Freeport. President Joko Widodo, who is seeking re-election next year, has said his administration wants a win-win solution as quickly as possible, despite neither side seeing eye to eye on the key issues.
Adinda Putri, Jakarta The government has reiterated its commitment to keep fuel and electricity prices steady this year, amid rising global oil prices and the recent strengthening of the US dollar.
State Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno said the government will continue to subsidize diesel fuel at the current rate, which is four times higher than planned in the state budget. The government will also increase its subsidies for electricity.
"Diesel was subsidized Rp 500 [a liter] by the government. Now it is Rp 1,500 and it will be Rp 2,000. It is covered from the current state budget," the minister said over the weekend.
According to her deputy, Harry Fajar Sampurno, the government's diesel fuel quota is 16.23 million kiloliters for this year, which means the subsidies will cost Rp 32 trillion ($2.3 billion).
The government will discuss the increase with House of Representatives Commission VII, which oversees the energy sector.
It was previously planned to keep fuel and electricity prices stable until the end of 2019, but pressure is mounting to increase them, as crude oil prices are now nearly 50 percent higher than the government's initial forecast of $48 a barrel.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who is preparing to run for a second term next year, went as far as to support consumer purchasing power by raising energy subsidies to $588 million to keep fuel and electricity cheap until the end of 2019.
Household consumption, which accounts for half of Indonesia's economy, has been subdued over the past few years as Jokowi opted to divert money previously used for energy subsidies toward infrastructure development.
The government spent Rp 98 trillion on energy subsidies last year, compared with Rp 342 trillion in 2014. State spending on infrastructure has meanwhile increased by more than 80 percent to Rp 376 trillion in the same period.
Last month, oil prices spiked after the United States announced plans to impose new sanctions on Iran, a major exporter. The announcement resulted in oil prices hitting their highest levels since November 2014, with Brent crude futures at $77.90 and US West Texas Intermediate at $71.80 a barrel.
Meanwhile, the rupiah traded at an average rate of 13,713 versus the dollar, compared with the initial forecast of 13,400, according to central bank data. Bank Indonesia governor Perry Warjiyo said the central bank expects a rupiah exchange rate of between 13,800 and 14,100 to the dollar for the remainder of this year and next year.
Although higher oil prices and the weaker exchange rate will likely boost state revenue from oil and gas, they will also increase energy subsidies, especially for electricity and liquefied petroleum gas.
The decision to maintain fuel and electricity prices is also intended to avoid undue pressure on the 2018 state budget, while at the same time limiting the budget deficit to 2.19 percent of gross domestic product.
The government aims to keep the budget deficit at Rp 325.9 trillion, or 2.19 percent of GDP for the full year, compared with last year's Rp 336.4 trillion, which amounted to 2.48 percent of GDP.
Danielle Bochove and David Stringer Every year, Freeport-McMoRan Inc. dumps tens of millions of tons of mining waste into the Ajkwa River system in Indonesia. The company has been doing it for decades, and is demanding the right to keep at it for decades to come.
The discharge of what are called tailings, the leftovers of mineral extraction, is perfectly legal under Freeport's current contract with the government. But recently, after more than a year of tense negotiations over the terms of a new deal, Indonesia suddenly changed the rules: The Grasberg mine in the highlands of Papua province would have to operate by heightened standards. It shouldn't have been a surprise, really, considering most every other miner in the world has been forced or has elected to stop discarding tailings in rivers.
Freeport, though, has said that won't happen at Grasberg. Chief Executive Officer Richard Adkerson has been blunt about it. "You can't put the genie back in the bottle," he said in April. "You simply can't say 20 years later 'we're going to change the whole structure'." Grasberg's waste management, he added, has "always been controversial."
The tailings tussle is the latest twist in the complicated relationship between the mining giant and the Southeast Asian republic. How it plays out will have far-reaching consequences in Indonesia. Freeport is a major taxpayer and job provider and has built homes, schools and hospitals in one of the poorest provinces. But Grasberg has also long been a target for environmentalists, indigenous and separatist groups and human-rights watchdogs.
At stake for Freeport are reserves that Bloomberg Intelligence estimates to be worth $14 billion at the world's biggest gold deposit and second-largest copper mine. Grasberg accounted for 47 percent of Freeport's operating income in 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
"What happens at Grasberg has global significance," said Payal Sampat, the mining program director at the mining watchdog-group Earthworks. "It involves some of the largest global players in the mining industry and one of the leading mining economies."
Most countries have banned tailings deposits in waterways over concerns they can be toxic, destroying habitats, suffocating vegetation and changing the topography of rivers, causing floods. Most miners have said they're against the practice regardless of local rules. The industry's biggest, BHP Billiton Ltd., won't "dispose of mined waste rock or tailings into a river or marine environment," as the company put it in a statement.
Only two other industrial-scale mines and a third, small operation are known to get rid of tailings as Grasberg does, and they're in Papua New Guinea, which occupies half of the island of New Guinea; Indonesia owns the rest, which is home to the Freeport-run mine. In recognition of risks that could leave "a massive environmental burden for future generations," the practice has been phased out everywhere else, according to the United Nations' International Maritime Organization.
Freeport sees things differently. "As we have stated before, the tailings are benign," said Eric E. Kinneberg, a spokesman, referring to the corporate website for a detailed explanation.
The Phoenix-based company maintains that much of the sediment in the Ajkwa River system downstream from Grasberg is caused by natural erosion, and that tailings pose no significant or at least unexpected threats. "There have been no human health issues or impact on the environment that wasn't anticipated," Adkerson said on a quarterly earnings call in April.
The company's partner in the Grasberg complex, Rio Tinto Group, recently addressed concerns about waste removal. "Riverine tailings disposal is very, very far from best practice," Chairman Simon Thompson told a meeting in London in April, perhaps highlighting one of the reasons Rio may be willing to sell its 40 percent interest to a state-owned company for $3.5 billion. A spokesman for the company declined to comment for this story.
Rio declined 1.4 percent in Sydney trading, as an index of the country's largest energy and mining companies fell 1.2 percent.
"If you think about it from Rio Tinto's perspective, one of the biggest problems with this mine is the environmental issues. I think that's an incentive for Rio to get out," said Christopher LaFemina, an analyst at Jefferies LLC. "This is a critically important part of Freeport's overall value. For Rio Tinto, it's not."
The problem for Freeport and Indonesia is that there's no easy solution. "There has been no realistic alternative identified," Thompson said. Freeport's local unit studied 14 alternatives for tailings disposal including dams and pipelines and concluded all were too risky in a mountainous terrain prone to earthquakes and heavy rainfall.
As it is, the heavy ooze wends its way through glacier-capped valleys, descending almost 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) to tropical lowlands and a 230 square kilometer deposition zone, where roughly half the tailings are parked. The rest flows on to a river estuary and the Arafura Sea.
"The company has sacrificed not just the river, but also the coastal area," said Pius Ginting, coordinator of Action for Ecology and People's Emancipation, an Indonesian environmental group.
According to Earthworks, Freeport sends more than 76 million metric tons of tailings and waste rock into Indonesian rivers every year. The company puts the 2017 figure at 50 million tons. Without spelling out precisely how the requirement should be met, Indonesia told Freeport that it would boost to 95 percent from half the amount of tailings that must be recovered from the river system, according to Adkerson.
That was a shock that sent Freeport's stock tumbling after Adkerson revealed it on April 24. Shares have largely recovered as investors bet the government will fail to follow through.
The negotiations to secure the right to keep mining Grasberg until 2041 had already been complicated by an edict that foreign miners sell majority stakes in their assets to local interests. Rio's apparent interest in divesting would ease that problem for Freeport, reducing how much it would need to unload.
Even if its share dropped below 50 percent, Freeport as an operator could still win big Grasberg is a stunning asset, expected to produce more than 520,000 tons of copper in 2018 and more gold than any other mine. Of course, Indonesia's tailings mandate may be a negotiating tactic, as some Freeport investors said they suspect. Ilyas Asaad, inspector general at Indonesia's Environment & Forestry Ministry, didn't respond to a request for comment.
The company is holding its position: The discharge of tailings into the river system is an inescapable consequence of keeping the mine in operation. If the government backs down, it will be "a political decision," said David Chambers, a geophysicist who runs the U.S. nonprofit Center for Science in Public Participation. "There aren't many governments that are willing to sacrifice those kinds of environmental resources for the financial resources."
Few investors have publicly seized on the tailings mess as a reason to shun Freeport. One was Norway's $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, which in 2006 excluded Freeport from its investment universe and in 2008 sold its holding of about $850 million of Rio shares, citing Grasberg's use of the river system to dispose of tailings.
"The spotlight has shone on these issues a lot more brightly in the last couple of years," said Andrew Preston, head of corporate governance in Australia for Aberdeen Standard Investments, which owns shares in Rio and BHP. The "wake-up call," Preston said, was the 2015 failure of a tailings dam at BHP's Samarco iron-ore joint venture with Vale SA in Brazil. Billions of gallons of sludge escaped to travel hundreds of kilometers down the Doce river, killing at least 19 people and leaving hundreds homeless.
Jefferies' LaFemina said investors are betting on the status quo in Indonesia. "In negotiations, different sides are trying to get leverage." In the end, "I am not expecting there to be a significant change to how this asset operates."
With assistance by Eko Listiyorini, and Steven Frank
Anton Hermansyah, Jakarta The government and the House of Representatives agreed on Tuesday to revise the growth target stated in the 2019 draft state budget to the range 5.2 to 5.6 percent from the 5.4 to 5.6 percent stated in the initial draft prepared by the government.
The target was revised during a meeting between House Commission XI overseeing financial and monetary issues and government representatives at the House building in Jakarta
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati was even more pessimistic saying that the achieved growth would be at the bottom end of the target, namely 5.2 percent. The revised target is similar to the growth target set by Bank Indonesia (BI).
BI Governor Perry Warjiyo said the Indonesian economy would still endure a lot of pressure from US policy normalization and the trade dispute between that country and China. "We will still face global uncertainty in the next few years," he said.
During the meeting, the participants agreed a number of macroeconomic parameters including inflation (2.5 to 4.5 percent), the rupiah exchange against the US dollar (Rp 13,700 to Rp 14,000) three-month treasury yields (4.6 to 5.2 percent), unemployment rate (4.5 to 5.2 percent) and human development index (71.98). (bbn)
In June this year, elections will take place in 171 districts, provinces and municipalities across Indonesia. On paper, millions of citizens in the world's third-largest democracy will be afforded the right to select leaders with extensive powers over their everyday lives. In practice, however, most will be offered a choice between candidates already hopelessly in hock to secretive corporate interests. Many citizens will unknowingly vote for politicians backed by companies that have violated their human rights and caused irrevocable harm to the environment.
The undue influence afforded corporations through campaign financing is a global problem. From fragile states in West Africa to the more mature democracy of the United States, government decision-making is warped by relationships politicians forge with private-sector donors. In the two decades since the beginning of Indonesia's democratic project, this phenomenon has become entrenched, systemic, and underpins some of the most serious challenges facing the Southeast Asian country.
Understanding how political and corporate interests converge is key to understanding why so little progress has been made toward solving two of Indonesia's most egregious problems: the destruction of its environment, and the proliferation of conflicts over land and resources. These twin crises appear intractable largely because of the hold that corporations exercise over regional politicians, and the mutually beneficial relationships between them. It begins with elections. Rise and scale of money politics
Indonesia's transition to democracy began with the 1998 fall of the military dictator Suharto, who exercised a highly centralized and ruthless control over the country, its politics and its resources. After the regime collapsed and the hegemony of the central government receded, local business and political elites vied to assume control over natural resources worth billions of dollars. The governors, mayors and district chiefs who came to preside over jurisdictions across the archipelago were initially chosen by local legislatures.
The January 2000 election for governor of Central Kalimantan, a forest-rich province on the island of Borneo, is indicative of how these early contests were fought. Rivals to the winning candidate later leaked a list of 31 parliamentarians who had allegedly received traveler's checks worth nearly $12,000 each as an inducement to vote for him. The night before the election, a further $6,000 was reportedly handed out to each of them, and even more went out on election day to those still wavering in their decision. A report by a consortium of local NGOs, cited in an academic paper, claimed that the campaign's financiers included an illegal-logging baron named Abdul Rasyid, who was then busy extracting timber from a national park in the province.
In 2005, the transition to democracy received a turbo boost, with the right to choose regional heads passed to the people through the establishment of direct elections. But any hope that candidates would not be able to buy off entire constituencies, in the way they had with local legislatures, would prove profoundly wrong. Not least because it came on the heels of a dramatic shift of control over land, minerals and other resources from Jakarta down to these regional chief executives. This blew up the value of the rewards on offer to the victors, turning campaign finance into a potentially lucrative investment for corporations and other "entrepreneurs."
In the 13 years since, political scientists and civil society observers have documented the way elections have been fought, and the critical role of money within them. A 2016 book, "Electoral Dynamics," profiled the 2014 legislative elections, noting that in the weeks afterward, "the consensus view that developed in the media was that candidates had distributed cash payments to voters, handed out goods, and bribed... officials at levels that had never previously been seen in Indonesia's electoral history." The authors of a book to be released later this year, "Democracy for Sale," write that the "exchange of favors and material benefits at every stage of the electoral cycle is so pervasive that it is apt to think of democracy in Indonesia as being for sale."
The process involves a range of expensive and prohibited acts. In order to get on the ballot, candidates must secure the backing of political parties representing at least a fifth of the seats in the local parliament. These parties charge extortionate fees, euphemistically referred to as "dowries," for their support. Ward Berenschot, co-author of "Democracy for Sale", estimates the price in resource-rich areas reaches as much as 1 billion rupiah (about $72,000) for each seat a party holds in parliament. In January, a gubernatorial candidate said he was asked to pay 40 billion rupiah ($2.9 million) for one party's support.
Those who want to evade this system can theoretically stand for office as an independent, but to do so they must first obtain signatures from between 6.5 and 10 percent of registered voters in the constituency, depending on its size. The task is so logistically challenging that few independents make it onto the ballot; in the larger provinces it would entail gathering signatures and copies of ID cards from nearly 800,000 people. Abdon Nababan, one of Indonesia's foremost indigenous-rights activists, sought to run as an independent in this year's gubernatorial election in his home province of North Sumatra, but failed to collect enough signatures before the deadline. "If I run through a political party, it's huge money involved," Abdon told us. "Because almost all political parties in Indonesia are not really based on ideology they are based on political transactions."
A survey of candidates by the KPK, Indonesia's anti-corruption agency, identified these dowries as the most expensive component of a campaign. Yet some candidates seek to stitch up the backing of all the parties, to close off challengers at this early juncture. This is because a subsequent stage of the process can be just as costly: handing out cash and gifts to voters. Though the amounts per voter are small, the cumulative costs of this illegal practice can be huge.
"You have to do it," Alfridel Jinu, a former journalist who sought to stand in a 2013 race for chief of a district in Borneo, told us. In his home district, he said, "It's 'no money, no vote.'" The winning candidate in that race, Hambit Bintih, who was later jailed for corruption, was alleged to have offered voters up to 300,000 rupiah, then equivalent to $26, for every ballot cast in his favor. In a district with some 60,000 voters, it could have cost him more than $1.5 million. In North Sumatra, where Abdon, the indigenous-rights activist, failed to get on the ballot as an independent, Edy Rahmayadi, a retired military general whose own candidacy for governor is backed by several political parties, was caught on video handing out money at a church before Christmas last year. He denied it was connected to the election, claiming it was just to "help small children."
The best estimates suggest that the cost of winning a race for district chief is in the millions of dollars. A 2016 study by the KPK placed it between 20 billion rupiah and 30 billion rupiah, or up to $2.9 million. A former KPK chief told Tempo magazine that a district election in Central Java cost 52 billion rupiah ($3.8 million); the current home affairs minister has estimated winning a district would cost 75 billion rupiah ($5.4 million).
There are no caps on expenditure, unless imposed locally, but there are campaign donation limits of 1 billion rupiah ($72,000) per individual and 4 billion rupiah ($289,000) per company. The general level of expenditure suggests contributions far outstrip these limits. But "institutional weaknesses and loopholes" in the monitoring regime have led to a situation in which "even the most blatant violations are not investigated," according to Marcus Mietzner, a professor at Australian National University. One political party, he wrote, spent 100 billion rupiah ($10.6 million) on TV ads alone in the 2009 legislative elections double the entire budget it reported to the election monitoring agency. The source of the money remains hidden from authorities and voters. Candidates often stake their own savings on campaigns, and even go deeply into debt. But few, if any, are rich enough to bankroll a whole campaign. "It's impossible for them to cover the costs from their own pockets," Jimly Asshiddiqie, the inaugural chief justice of Indonesia's Constitutional Court, told us. "It must be from corporate donors."
The KPK interviewed 450 out of almost 800 candidate pairs that took part in the 2015 regional elections. Two-thirds reported that the donors who financed their campaigns demanded something in return: government contracts, jobs, policy influence, and, above all, business licenses, such as those granted for mines and plantations. Mietzner has written that "[s]uccessful candidates for political office... assume their new posts with significant private debt or feel an obligation to serve the interests of their sponsors."
Where their interests are sufficiently concentrated in one constituency, corporations or family businesses have sought to install one of their own in office; the steady convergence of business and politics arrives at the point where corporations effectively take political office themselves. The current governor of Central Kalimantan, Sugianto Sabran, is a nephew of Abdul Rasyid, the one-time illegal-timber baron. The latter is now a near billionaire, the main source of his wealth a collection of vast oil palm estates.
The governor of Lampung province in Sumatra, Muhammad Ridho Ficardo, is the son of a director of Sugar Group Companies, a major holding group of sugarcane plantations and factories in the province. ("I'm not close to the company," Ridho said in response to questions about the connection. "It's my family. No one asks to be born a king.") The company's plantation licenses were up for renewal shortly after Ridho's election in 2014, during which large sacks of sugar emblazoned with his image were distributed to voters, along with cash. Local observers estimated that the election cost up to 500 billion rupiah around $52 million.
Once in office, there are numerous means by which victors can set about repaying donors and building up a war chest for their next campaign. They can inflate the price of infrastructure projects and give lucrative contracts to companies controlled by their cronies and relatives. The proportion of local budgets dedicated to such projects rose to six times the amount deemed proportionate by the World Bank, according to Mietzner, the ANU professor. They can siphon off money through inflating procurement costs for hospital equipment or oil tankers. Politicians in mineral-rich regions have exploited their control over mining licenses.
For the district chiefs, or bupatis, who assumed control of regions with stagnating economies and little infrastructure, land was perhaps the most valuable commodity they had to offer. Licenses for oil palm plantations in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo, commonly sell for between $400 and $1,200 per hectare. The bupatis could issue licenses for thousands of hectares at a time, to whomever they wanted. It is likely no coincidence, then, that the beginning of direct elections and the emergence of mass vote-buying in 2005 were accompanied by a third phenomenon: the palm oil boom. In Kalimantan, the rate of plantation expansion increased fourfold after 2005, to more than 3,750 square kilometers (1,450 square miles) per year.
This expansion has come at a considerable cost. It has fueled the destruction of Indonesia's rainforests, propelling the nation up the ranks of global carbon emitters. It has plunged thousands of villages into conflict with their neighbors, with the government, and with companies that have annexed their land. Mongabay and The Gecko Project investigated the role of corruption in driving the issuance of permits. In the two cases we have exposed to date, we found a direct link between plantation expansion and electoral corruption, and showed how such corruption lies at the root of deforestation and land conflicts.
In the first case we exposed, a bupati in Borneo issued licenses to 18 shell companies set up by his relatives and cronies. The companies were quickly flipped to two of Indonesia's biggest palm oil firms for millions of dollars in total. The bupati's son sold one shell company just three months before his father stood for re-election. The contest was marred by allegations of money politics. In the second case, a bupati's campaign treasurer sold five companies to a Malaysian palm oil firm in the months before the vote, for a fee eventually rising to $9.2 million. Some of that money appears to have been used to bribe the chief justice of the Constitutional Court to decide the election in their favor.
Both cases provide irrefutable evidence that such corruption plays a singular role in driving both deforestation and land conflicts. In Seruyan, the first district, it dramatically increased the area of land issued to plantation firms and deprived communities from sharing in the economic benefits of the palm oil boom. In Gunung Mas, the second district, the bupati issued licenses within the borders of villages that were already protesting against plantations, and whose forests would have been saved by a politician sensitive to the views of their constituents.
Our investigation showed that Ahmad Ruswandi, son of the then bupati of Seruyan district, participated in a corrupt scheme to sell oil palm plantation licenses to multinational firms. He is now the speaker of the local legislature.
There is every indication that these practices are rife across Indonesia, even if the true extent remains hidden. The KPK has prosecuted bupatis who traded permits for cash bribes; as recently as last October, Rita Widyasari, a district chief from East Kalimantan province, was accused by the KPK of soliciting a 6 billion rupiah (US$434,000) bribe for issuing a plantation license. Meanwhile, Rita's mother, Dayang Kartini, is the largest shareholder in a separate company that has operated more than a dozen coal mines in the same district. In Ketapang, a district in West Kalimantan, Yasir Ansyari, who was standing to succeed his father, Morkes Effendi, as bupati, is believed to have bankrolled his campaign by selling mining permits attached to shell companies. A bupati in Sumatra, Tengku Azmun Jaffar, used shell companies and family members as proxies to cash in on his power to green-light timber plantations.
Through examining these and other cases, and through interviews with government officials, corporate executives and lawyers, we have identified a number of red flags suggesting that corruption may have taken place. These include the use of shell companies, with no history of trading, as a conduit for selling licenses to genuine investors; permits that are expedited, or issued without legally required preconditions such as environmental impact assessments; a large number of licenses issued to the subsidiaries of a single business group in a short period of time; licenses issued by politicians who were later convicted of other, unrelated corruption offenses; and licenses issued or sold in close proximity to an election campaign.
There may be legitimate reasons in some of these instances, but the probability is that they are indicative of some degree of collusion between politicians, companies and the middlemen who move assets between them. Our analysis of government permit databases and company documents suggests they are rife across the districts targeted most heavily by major palm oil firms.
Some of the most significant threats to Indonesia's forests that have emerged in recent years betray several of these red flags. Permits to turn 4,800 square kilometers (1,850 square miles) in Aru, a biologically spectacular cluster of islands in eastern Indonesia, into a series of 28 sugarcane plantations were issued by the local bupati, Theddy Tengko, during the five months leading up to the vote in which he hoped to retain his seat. The final permits came through five days before the vote, pushed through without the legally required environmental impact assessments. Theddy was later convicted of embezzling 43 billion rupiah ($4.5 million) from the district budget.
The palm oil project that currently poses the single biggest threat to Indonesia's rainforests, in the country's easternmost Papua province, was signed off by another bupati, Yusak Yaluwo, as he was concurrently embezzling 67 billion rupiah ($6.5 million) in state funds through a procurement scam, for which he was later jailed. While the project in Aru was defeated by an unprecedented grassroots campaign, the project in Papua continues. No legal action has been taken over either.
Some local leaders have broken the cycle, running campaigns based on popular policies such as subsidized healthcare, and resisting corporate influence while in office. However, they have tended to break through in urban areas with more mixed economies, where no single interest is quite so overwhelmingly powerful. (An obvious example is President Joko Widodo, who began his political career as a mayor in Central Java before becoming governor of Jakarta). The authors of "Democracy for Sale" make the case that such leaders are far less likely to emerge in places where the economy is concentrated in a small number of sectors, or even in just a single one. These conditions, they suggest, tend to occur in the rural, forested areas where agribusiness and extractive industries are preeminent.
There is some evidence to show that civic-minded candidates can win in such areas, and that those who are willing can take on entrenched corporate interests. For that to occur more broadly, however, will likely require greater interventions by the KPK and civil society to break up the hegemony of "mafia coalitions." Some recent progressive legal developments that may help that to happen.
While numerous public officials, including more than 70 regional chief executives, have been jailed for graft, to date there has been limited action against the companies on the other end of this corruption. This problem was recognized in a 2016 Supreme Court regulation that could elicit a radical change in enforcement. The regulation removes the legal obstacle the KPK had faced in applying liability to companies, that had allowed many to escape consequences for their proven role in corruption cases. A presidential regulation issued in March this year also requires disclosure of the beneficial owners of corporations, which, on paper, will reduce the ability of politicians to exploit proxies and shell companies. The president is also expected to mandate a review of all oil palm licenses, which could in theory delve into the circumstances in which they were issued.
Our investigations found that the obstacles to enforcement, however, relate not only to the letter of the law. The political pressures faced by the KPK, its capacity and the relevant weight it assigns to perpetrators are equally important. The voices of some in the plantation industry pushing back against any efforts to regulate its excesses are at least as powerful as those in civil society decrying forest destruction and land grabbing. The question is whether, as Indonesia faces overlapping electoral, environmental and social crises, it can afford to allow impunity to continue.
Last Thursday, participants in Indonesia's longest running human rights protest, Kamisan ("Thursdays"), met with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. This was the first time that Jokowi met directly with survivors and families of victims of human rights abuses that participate in the protest.
Kamisan has now run for more than 11 years. It is supported by well known human rights organisations, such as the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS). Every Thursday afternoon, the protest is held in front of the Presidential Palace and every week, the participants hand a letter addressed to the president to the officers guarding the palace. This location is significant as it symbolises both political power and the need for the state to be take responsibility for human rights crimes.
While initially focused on human rights crimes committed under Soeharto's New Order, over time the protest has also focused on other human rights cases. This includes the 2004 murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, and the persecution of minority Muslim groups like Ahmadiyah and Shi'a. In late 2017, one Kamisan protest focused on the resistance of farmers against eviction for the creation of a new airport near Yogyakarta.
Based on the protest of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, Kamisan was initially conceived as a silent protest. However, over time Kamisan has included the reading of statements by participants, as well as poetry, songs and music. Unlike its Argentinean counterpart, which uses white as a colour of protest, Kamisan uses black. Participants wear black clothing and carry black banners, often with the names and photographs of victims. They sometimes bring flower petals that are commonly used on graves. Kamisan in many ways represents mourning.
In an earlier piece on Kamisan, I argued that the protest is significant because of the political claims it puts forward. The protest brings together various cases of human rights violations in past and present. Kamisan therefore tells individual stories of loss and suffering as a shared experience of resistance, and in the context of the broader objective of the pursuit of justice for human rights crimes in Indonesia.
The protest is a reminder that 20 years after the fall of authoritarianism, justice remains elusive. Despite the development of new legal norms and institutions, the implementation of human rights leaves much to be desired. The Human Rights Courts, which have the authority to rule on gross human rights violations both in past and present, have prosecuted very few cases and secured even fewer convictions.
Kamisan's black umbrellas illustrate this. They carry the names of unresolved cases and slogans such as melawan lupa ("resist forgetting"). Since Jokowi has taken office, another motto has been added to these umbrellas: Jokowi Utang Janji: "Jokowi, Deliver on Your Promises".
When Jokowi was elected, there were hopes that a civilian president would be able to break the justice impasse. These hopes were based on Jokowi's inclusion of a human rights agenda including justice for past crimes in his Nawa Cita, his priority action plan. For this reason, as well as the dark human rights record of his opponent, Prabowo Subianto, many rights activists backed Jokowi.
However, hopes of change were dashed early on in the Jokowi presidency, when a now defunct Reconciliation Committee was established to resolve past human rights crimes. The most recent development, in 2017, was the establishment of a National Harmony Council to settle so-called horizontal conflicts with the possibility that it would also hear past human rights abuses. Minister for Law and Human Rights Yassona Laoly has argued that non-judicial bodies such as these will ensure a lasting resolution. As such, addressing human rights crimes through judicial means seems to be firmly off the table.
Does Jokowi's meeting with the Kamisan protesters signal a change of heart?
The Office of Presidential Staff revealed little about the 45-minute meeting, which was conducted at Merdeka Palace behind closed doors, aside from a few publicity photos. Suciwati, wife of murdered activist Munir, commented that meeting at the location of the protest would have been more appropriate.
According to Presidential spokesperson Johan Budi, the president "mainly wanted to listen" to the Kamisan participants. They handed over documents related to a number of unresolved cases recommended for prosecution by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM). Jokowi asked for time to study the documents, even though the findings were made public long ago. In addition, the Kamisan participants also asked Jokowi to sign a so-called "Letter of Acknowledgment". This document identifies six past human rights cases as crimes against humanity that must be followed up by the Attorney General's Office with a view of bringing these to the Human Rights Courts. Jokowi did not sign the document.
Jokowi's meeting with the Kamisan protesters was nothing but a deeply cynical attempt to give the impression of some interest in the human rights agenda. This has more to do with Jokowi's own interests. Ahead of the 2019 presidential race, he will be keen to get rights activists onside again to support his bid for re-election.
During Jokowi's presidential term, it has become evident that his government has little interest in pursuing justice for past crimes. The establishment of non-judicial bodies like the National Harmony Council that serve to shield perpetrators from being held accountable illustrates this. In addition, Jokowi appointed former Commander of the Armed Forces Wiranto as coordinating minister of politics, law and security, whose portfolio includes gross human rights violations. It is hard to believe that this will happen as Wiranto was involved in numerous violations under the Soeharto regime and has been indicted for human rights crimes in Indonesia-occupied East Timor.
That there is little prospect that the meeting will generate a change was made evident the next day, when Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo commented on the likelihood of cases being heard by the Human Rights Courts, as demanded by Kamisan participants. Prasetyo stated that "we need to be honest in realising that whoever is the leader of this country, whoever is its Attorney General, whoever sits in Komnas HAM, it will be difficult to bring these cases to court. This must be understood. It is not that we do not want to finalise these cases, but it is a legal problem".
The Kamisan fight is far from over.
Nathalia Tjandra With more than 260m people, Indonesia is the biggest economy in South-East Asia. The country's young population 37% are under the age of 20 is one of its greatest strengths. But Indonesia's potential and productivity are being threatened by the number of deaths associated with smoking.
Of the 10% of the world's smokers who live in South-East Asia, half are in Indonesia. It is estimated that smoking-related diseases kill nearly 250,000 Indonesians every year.
The 76% of males aged 15+ who smoke is the highest rate in the world and the next generation show every sign of following in their footsteps. In addition, 20% of 13-15 year olds smoke, which is the highest figure in the region. Even before the age of ten, 20% of children have tried a cigarette and by the age of 13 it's more like 90%.
Statistics like these explain why Indonesia is the second biggest market for tobacco in the world after China, selling more than 315 billion cigarettes a year. The country also exports vastly more cigarettes than it imports. The industry produces annual sales of over US$21 billion (#16 billion), with growth forecast at around 5% a year.
Tobacco contributes approximately 10% of all Indonesian tax revenue and employs some 2.5m workers in farming and manufacturing. Little wonder the country is planning to double tobacco production within the next decade.
Five players control over three quarters of the market in Indonesia. The leader is HM Sampoerna, 92.5% owned by Philip Morris International which also makes Marlboro cigarettes. Then come a couple of Indonesian conglomerates: Gudang Garam and Djarum, both of which are known for traditional kretek or clove cigarettes. Fourth is British American Tobacco, with another Indonesian group, Nojorno Tobacco, in fifth (the source of these numbers is anti-smoking group Tobacco Free Kids).
These companies have long had significant political and financial influence in Indonesia. The government consults the industry over proposed changes to tobacco policy, but the rules don't often seem to be tightened up.
Indonesia is the only country in Asia that has not signed and ratified the World Health Organization's Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC) even China is on board and making steady progress. The framework includes restrictions on the extent to which tobacco companies can lobby governments, as well as sales to children and passive smoking. It also recognises that a complete ban on tobacco marketing activities is the most effective way of reducing youth smoking uptake.
The Indonesian government believes that stricter tobacco controls could damage the industry, citing concerns for farmers and other tobacco workers. It is certainly true that the majority of tobacco workers are vulnerable and live in poverty, but this industry also supports four Indonesian conglomerates whose owners have a combined net worth of around $43 billion.
While the majority of South-East Asian countries led by Singapore, Brunei and Thailand are making good progress towards a comprehensive ban on tobacco marketing, Indonesia remains lenient. This has earned the country the nickname, the "tobacco industry's Disneyland".
It feels particularly appropriate considering how many children get attracted to smoking. Individual cigarettes are sold as cheaply as $0.07 each. A pack of 20 Marlboro can be bought for $1.55, compared to around $20 in Australia. Indonesia's laws state that cigarettes can only be sold to and consumed by adults aged 18 and above, but no penalties are imposed for retailers who sell them to youngsters.
Indonesia is the only country in the region that still allows direct tobacco advertising. To reduce exposure to children and teenagers, advertising is restricted on TV and radio to between 9.30pm and 5am. But youngsters are still exposed through billboards, roadside stalls, music concerts, sporting events and the internet. There are shops and restaurants branded with tobacco advertising everywhere.
The tobacco companies deny that their advertising targets under-18s, but I don't find this very convincing. The messaging uses themes that are likely to be very attractive to young people, such as humour, adventure, bravery and success. The hip young designers in this advert for the Gudang Garam's GG Mild brand are a good example:
This advert for Sampoerna's A Mild seems like a clarion call to the younger generation, with its mopeds, guitars and street acrobatics: (image omitted).
One more example is Djarum's LA Bold advertising. Melding shadow boxing, young men in sharp suits and fawning girls, the voiceover declares: "I rule the world because I live Bold."
The industry also positions itself as integral to society via corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sponsorship. Much of this directly involves young people. Sampoerna has developed its own educational pathway called Sampoerna School System, which distributes scholarships, supports underprivileged schools and trains teachers and principals.
Djarum sponsors Djarum Superliga Badminton and establishes sports training academies for young talents. Gudang Garam actively sponsors events and festivals which target digital natives, referring to them as "Generation G".
In South-East Asia, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have all banned tobacco companies from using their CSR activities to attract publicity, while Brunei has banned them from such activities altogether. Indonesia has a comparable ban on tobacco CSR publicity, but such activities are still well publicised in the media and the government endorses and even participates in them.
In short, Indonesia has a big problem with tobacco. In particular, the government needs to urgently do more to protect children, since they're not experienced enough to make well-informed choices. There needs to be a complete ban on tobacco advertising, along with stricter measures around sales and these need rigorously enforced. Tobacco-related sponsorship and CSR must also be banned whatever contribution they make to society is outweighed by the harm.
At a time when most countries in the region are moving in the right direction over tobacco, Indonesia urgently needs to follow suit.