A West Papuan from Nduga regency says young people are tired of repeated violence triggered by politics in Indonesia's Papua region.
Samuel Tabuni's comment follows a string of deaths in Nduga where Indonesian security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army have exchanged gunfire in recent weeks.
Speaking from the provincial capital Jayapura, Mr Tabuni says he is in communication with friends and family back in Nduga.
He says thousands have fled from the regency since the violence surged during last month's elections because they are terrified by the Indonesian military operations.
Mr Tabuni told Johnny Blades that for locals, the recent influx of Indonesian security forces has revisited memories from 1996 when Indonesian military commander Prabowo Subianto led special forces into the same area on a campaign to save hostages held by the Free Papua movement commander Kelly Kwalik.
Samuel Tabuni: We had a very bad experience, twenty years ago, you know, the Prabowo operations to catch Kelly Kwalik and his group, and the hostages. And before the government really existed in Nduga, for the first time we were faced with the army. So our people 85 percent are not well educated so first time we got in touch with army it was brutality and weapons and killings and stuff like that. So we are deeply traumatised. That's why when a lot of troops... army and police coming in to Nduga, Kenyam, most of our people are afraid, you know, that the same thing is going to happen. That's what is happening now.
Johnny Blades: People are sick of the violence, the fighting?
ST: After forty years being part of the Indonesian province, as a young.. I'm young. I'm representing young population here in Papua, the two provinces. I would love to see that there is dialogue in between central government and Papua people, especially those who are against the government, like OPM (Free West Papua Movement) members, so we can solve all the problems. I'm actually speaking up, trying to represent young Papuans, because we don't want to live in a world where there is conflict all the time, there is gun shots all the time. We actually are not building West Papuans being fully independent in every aspect of life. We want to see that our future is full of peace and prosperity. We don't want to be involved in all this politics and conflict and war. We have to have open dialogue to solve all the problems.
JB: It's difficult for the OPM and Jakarta to agree on the political status of West Papua. Does that mean there needs to be some compromise?
ST: Yeah I think firstly, Jakarta is scared of open dialogue and disintegration, for sure. But the OPM also believes that we have to separate from Indonesia. And then these two positions are not really facilitate young Papuans in this era. Now the era is really advanced, everything is more open. we don't want to stay in the conflict. we need some areas where we can develop our skills and develop our own people. So whether OPM wants full independence... but now central government, they say we already gave you a Special Autonomy, and use that Special Autonomy as an opportunity to develop education and economic and healthcare and stuff like that. But conflicts in special Autonomy is more than in the past, because of this politics. The regional politics as well as the politics in terms of campaigning (for) being head of regency and governors. So these two politics kill many Papuans, honestly, especially those that are young. And this is going to affect us as the next generation. We are fighting among ourselves, in conflicts. So that's why I would love to see whether there is Papuans, as independent or still as part of the Indonesian province, we have to dialogue. Dialogue openly to end all these problems.
Thousands of West Papuan villagers have reportedly fled from their homes in a remote regency due to conflict between Indonesian military forces and pro-independence fighters.
This follows a string of deaths in Nduga regency where Indonesian security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army have exchanged gunfire in recent weeks.
Three people were killed in an attack on police at the local airport two weeks ago during regional elections. A faction of the Liberation Army claimed responsibility.
Following the attack, about a thousand extra police and military personnel deployed to the regency.
They have been conducting an aerial campaign over the Alguru area in pursuit of the Liberation Army, with unconfirmed reports saying at least two Papuans have been shot dead and others injured in recent days.
A police helicopter was reportedly fired on by a faction of the Liberation Army last week, although it is unclear whether it was in response to rounds of aerial artillery fired by the military over Alguru.
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has accused the Indonesian military of bombing in Nduga.
"Bombing, burning houses, and shooting into villages from helicopters are acts of terrorism," the Liberation Movement's chairman Benny Wenda said.
"The Indonesian government's horrific acts of violence against the Melanesian people of West Papua are causing great harm and trauma."
Indonesia's military published a statement saying reports that security forces were conducting airstrikes were a hoax.
However the Nduga regent, Yarius Gwijangge, last week made a plea to the security forces not to shoot from the air because he feared this could lead to civilian casualties.
Responding to the attacks, the largest organisation of Christian Churches in Indonesia called for the country's human rights commission to open offices in Papua region.
The Communion of Churches (PGI) urged Indonesian authorities to stop repressive action and adopt a strategy of persuasion.
It said the National Commission on Human Rights should open an office in Papua, citing a government mandate under Papua's special autonomy laws.
PGI spokesman Irma Riana Simanjuntak said Indonesia's government should establish a fact-finding team to verify deaths in recent attacks and guarantee the public's safety.
Human rights workers, journalists and medical workers should also be able to access Papua, Mr Simanjuntak said.
Indonesia officially ended restrictions on access to Papua in 2015 but human rights groups and journalists continue to face hurdles when trying to travel there.
Young people in Nduga are tired of violence triggered by politics, a West Papuan from the regency said.
Speaking from the Papua provincial capital Jayapura, Samuel Tabuni said he had been in contact with friends and family in Nduga.
Thousands of Nduga villagers had fled from the regency since the violence surged during last month's elections, Mr Tabuni said.
The villagers were terrified by recent developments which echoed shootings and killings that took place in previous Indonesian military deployments to the remote region, he said.
The recent influx of Indonesian military had brought back memories from 1996 in particular, when Indonesian military commander Prabowo Subianto led special forces into the same area on a campaign to save hostages held by the Free Papua movement commander Kelly Kwalik.
"That's why when a lot of troops... army and police coming in to Nduga, Kenyam, most of our people are afraid, you know, that the same thing is going to happen," Mr Tabuni said.
"So we are deeply traumatised. That's why when a lot of troops... army and police coming in to Nduga, Kenyam (the regency's capital), most of our people are afraid, you know, that the same thing is going to happen. " Special Autonomy Status was granted to Papua by Jakarta in 2001 with the promise of developing its human potential but in Mr Tabuni's view this had not transpired.
"Conflicts in Special Autonomy is more than in the past because of this politics," he said.
"The regional politics as well as the politics in terms of campaigning (for) being head of regency and governors. So these two politics kill many Papuans, honestly, especially those that are young."
Mr Tabuni said many young Papuans wanted dialogue between Indonesia's government and those pursuing independence to find a peaceful solution.
"We don't want to be involved in all this politics and conflict and war. We have to have open dialogue to solve all the problems."
Meanwhile, human rights activists urged the security forces to withdraw their join operation in Nduga, saying it was having a major impact on the lives of local villagers.
Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta Human rights activists have urged the National Police and the Indonesian Military to withdraw their joint operation from Alguru in Kenyam, Nduga regency, Papua, after a shootout between security personnel and unknown armed assailants.
"We urge the police and the military to stop their security operation in Alguru village," the activists said in a press release on Saturday.
The activists, which comprised members of 13 non-governmental organizations, including the Papua Legal Aid Institute (LBH Papua) and the Papua chapter of the Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi Papua), said before a massive joint security operation on July 11 that shootings between the two parties had been intensifying over the past two months.
"We recorded four shootings from June to July between the security personnel and the Papua National Liberation Army," the human right activists said.
The joint security operation was launched following an attack on a Twin Otter aircraft carrying election material by unidentified assailants right after it landed at Kenyam airport on June 25. Three local residents were killed in the incident and the aircraft pilot suffered from a bullet wound to his back.
With almost 1,000 security personnel deployed to the area, activists said the residents felt uncomfortable living in their village. Many of them, fearing for their lives, have fled to nearby cities, such as Wamena and Yahokimo.
The situation, the activists said, made it difficult for the residents to access health and education facilities.
Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura A number of prominent people in Nduga, Papua, has ask the Papua Police to withdraw the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) from Alguru in Kenyam, Nduga regency, Papua, following a shootout between the police and unknown armed assailants. On Friday, Samuel Tabuni, a prominent youth group member in Nduga, said he was waiting on Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar to fulfill his promise to withdraw Brimob. He added that the shootout had made villagers scared and many were fleeing to Kenyam, the regency's downtown area.
Tabuni said he and priest Lipius Biniluk, the head of the Papuan Interfaith Forum (FKUB), visited Boy to deliver the request. "He promised to withdraw his troops from Alguru to Kenyam.
"The people don't feel comfortable living in the kampung [village] with the sound of shooting. They have been very traumatized by the shootouts," he added.
On Thursday, Nduga Deputy Regent Wentius Miniangge told Antara that the police and Indonesian Military (TNI) had launched an air strike on Wednesday without telling the local authorities about it.
"We did not give you permission and then you just fire from the air. Whose rules were you following? We did not invite you here," Miniangge told Antara.
The troops suspect that Kampung Alguru is a hotbed for what they call an armed criminal group. The Papua Police claimed that the helicopter had been dropping food in Nduga when unknown armed assailants shot at it.
The TNI and the police hunted for the armed assailants in Alguru after a Twin Otter aircraft carrying election material and Brimob personnel was fired on by unidentified assailants on June 25, two days before local elections. Pilot Ahmad Abdillah Kamil, 27, was shot in the back.
The police claimed that the armed assailants also attacked civilians, killing three people and injuring a 6-year-old boy.
Tabuni said the police could not solve the conflict with the armed assailants, believed to have connections to groups demanding Papuan independence, with violence because it would only generate more deaths.
He added that the government had given Papua special funds, but money would not solve the political conflict, which began in the 1960s. "If you don't solve the problem at its roots, Papua will remain like this," he said, adding that dialogue would be better.
"Today, Papuans feel uncomfortable living in this big house called the United State of the Republic of Indonesia [NKRI] because we have unfinished problems," he added.
On Friday, Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. A.M. Kamal said the situation in Nduga was under control. "Residents have resumed their daily activities and many have begun to trade again." (evi)
Indonesian security forces in Papua province have engaged in more gunfire exchanges with an armed wing of the Free West Papua Movement.
Hostilities in Nduga regency were sparked two weeks ago during regional elections when three people were killed in an attack on police at the local airport.
A faction of the West Papua National Liberation Army, or TPN, claimed responsibility for that attack, following which about 100 police deployed to Nduga to take up the pursuit.
According to Indonesian state media reports, assailants referred to by Indonesian authorities as an armed criminal group on Wednesday fired at a police helicopter while it was dropping food at Alguru in Nduga.
Alguru is a rural village controlled by the TPN, according to Papuan media outlets including Tabloid Jubi who reported that shots were fired from the helicopter.
The Regent of Nduga, Yarius Gwijangge, said the pursuit of the armed Papuan group by Indonesian security forces was ongoing but that there had been no casualties from the latest exchanges.
However he has asked police not to shoot from the air because it was feared this could lead to civilian casualties
Meanwhile, the incumbent governor of Papua province, Lukas Enembe, has been re-elected after the conclusion of regional elections. According to the Jakarta Post, Mr Enembe won with around 1.9 million votes or around 67.54 percent.
Indonesia's ruling Democratic Party of Struggle had earlier supported Mr Enembe's challenger in the election, John Wempi Wetipo.
Jakarta, Indonesia Papuan leaders have protested an Indonesian military and police operation against separatists they say endangered the lives of villagers in the remote easternmost province.
Yairus Gwijangge, head of the Nduga region, said security forces fired on Alguru village with helicopter sorties on Wednesday, attempting to root out independence fighters they believed were based there.
"Thank God there was no reports of casualties, but we regret that they did not warn us before launching the attacks," Gwijangge told The Associated Press.
"It caused panic among villagers," he said, adding he had complained to both the army and police paramilitary forces. "The forces have to be withdrawn," he said.
Yunus Wonda, the head of Papua province's parliament, condemned the operation and on Friday called on security forces to leave the occupied village. Villagers were "traumatized," he said.
An Amnesty International investigation released earlier this month said Indonesia's police and military are responsible for at least 95 unlawful killings in Papua and West Papua provinces since 2010, including targeted slayings of activists.
A local police chief, Yan Pieter Reba, said security forces were responding to attacks last month by gunmen that killed paramilitary police and civilians.
"These conditions forced police to take law enforcement measures, hunting down and arresting the perpetrators," he said.
He denied local media reports that four helicopters were used in the operation. The helicopter sorties were "clearing a path" for delivery of supplies to forces, he said.
A pro-independence insurgency has simmered in the formerly Dutch-controlled region since it was annexed by Indonesia in 1963.
Indonesian rule has been frequently brutal, and indigenous Papuans, largely shut out of their region's economy, are poorer, sicker and more likely to die young than people elsewhere in Indonesia.
Gwijangge's deputy, Wentius Nimiangge, said the attack was unjustified and casualties were unknown because villagers had fled, state news agency Antara reported.
Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura A shootout between unknown armed assailants and the Police's elite Mobile Brigade (Brimob) broke out in Nduga regency in Papua on Wednesday.
The incident started when the assailants, who the authorities are referring to as an armed criminal group (KKB), began to open fire at a police helicopter while it was dropping food for Brimob officers deployed at camps near Alguru village to hunt down the people responsible for two shootings in the regency last month, the Papua Police said.
"The helicopter was fired at by the KKB, which already controls Alguru village. The shootout broke out later," Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. AM Kamal said on Thursday. "The helicopter is not an attack helicopter, but a chopper used for carrying food drops and evacuation missions." No one was injured in the incident in Nduga, he said.
The Brimob platoon, which normally comprises between 30 and 50 personnel, is moving closer to Alguru village as they suspect about four armed groups to have fled to the village following the two attacks at Kenyam Airport in June.
On June 25, a rented commercial Twin Otter aircraft carrying election material and police personnel was fired at by unidentified assailants shortly after it landed at Kenyam. The pilot suffered a gunshot wound to his back, and three residents died allegedly in an ensuing firefight between the gunmen and security personnel.
The incident came only three days after another Twin Otter carrying 16 passengers from an airport in Mimika regency was fired on when it landed at Kenyam. The co-pilot suffered shrapnel wounds to his ankle. (ipa)
Jakarta The Surabaya Legal Aid Institute (LBH) has reported local security personnel to the East Java Police for allegedly committing unethical acts during a raid at a Papuan student dorm in Surabaya, East Java, recently.
LBH Surabaya detailed in a letter submitted on Monday five violations allegedly committed by the personnel.
They include the police's failures to show a warrant, verbal abuses perpetrated against a lawyer and a student, sexual harassment and physical violence committed against students at the dorm, the use of excessive force and harsh treatment of an active lawyer, who is protected by the 2003 law on advocates and the 2011 law on legal aid.
Last month, the police clamped down a movie screening hosted by Papuan students in the city.
The Surabaya raid occurred on Friday evening, during which hundreds of police, military and Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) personnel raided a Papuan student dorm on Jl. Kalasan, Tambaksari, Surabaya.
"We decided to report Tambaksari Police chief Comr. Prayitno and Surabaya Police chief Sr. Comr. Rudi Setiawan to the East Java Police's internal affairs division [Propam] for investigation," LBH Surabaya director Wachid Habibullah said.
Prayitno denied the accusations, saying the police just wanted to conduct a public order raid by launching a sudden inspection to check legal documents of people living at the dorm. The raid was launched based on information of local residents who reported suspicious activity in the building.
Prayitno said the incident occurred because students denied them entrance, forcing security forces to take measures to enter the dorm. (nor/ebf)
Solomon Islands police have defended removing a West Papuan flag from outside the Indonesian stall at the Melanesian Arts and Cultural Festival in Honiara.
Last Saturday, a local man, Ben Didiomea, was questioned by police after holding the West Papuan Morning Star Flag as a protest outside Indonesia's festival stall.
Mr Didiomea said he was standing in solidarity with fellow Melanesian people of Indonesia's Papua region, where the Morning Star is banned.
The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force's Supervising Assistant Commissioner National Capital and Crime Prevention, Solomon Sisimia, said police advised Mr Didiomea and his fellow demonstrators that the flag was being removed because the festival was not a political event.
"In fact before that incident, police had confronted a group of young people the other day who had come in and threatened to burn down the same stall, and said that they were from the West Papuan freedom movement," he explained.
"And so the flag was taken away from that location to stop any further provocation against the Indonesian delegation that day."
Mr Sisimia denied that Solomons police had provided special service to the Indonesian delegation.
"There was no special arrangement for the visiting Indonesian arrangement. The (overall Festival) police operation was for everyone taking part in this festival," he said.
Over the past ten days Honiara hosted thousands of performers from various Melanesian countries for the four-yearly event.
Mr Sisimia said the force had limited manpower with which to patrol the event, but that the Festival largely ran smoothly. According to him, police deployed extra officers to monitor last night's closing ceremony.
Kharishar Kahfi, Jakarta Indigenous communities from 19 villages at the Dampier Strait Marine Protection Area (MPA) in Raja Ampat Islands, West Papua, declared on Tuesday the customary fishing area in the regency, asserting their commitment to conserve marine ecosystems and utilize resources sustainably.
"The customary fishing area in Raja Ampat is a system that regulates members of the indigenous Maya tribe in maintaining and utilizing the sea and its fishery resources wisely and responsibly," said Kristian Thebu, the chief of the Maya Tribe Council, in a statement on Wednesday.
The declaration will lead people of eight villages living on Batanta Island as well as 11 others on Salawati Island to agree to protect the 211,000 hectares of marine area, securing sustainably the livelihoods of 2,000 households on both islands.
Such a declaration is considered helpful for the MPA management in managing the area thanks to "community involvement in planning and management," according to Raja Ampat MPA technical implementation unit head Syafri.
The Marine Protected Area in Raja Ampat was determined through a 2014 decree from the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.
However, damage to marine ecosystems and fishery resources in the region continued to threaten the region in the form of irregular and unsustainable fishing practices as well as a growing number of fishermen from outside Raja Ampat.
Nongovernmental organization RARE, with support from the USAID Sustainable Ecosystem Advanced (SEA) project, will assist with the implementation of the declaration, as well as other attempts at conservation and sustainable resource utilization in the region. (ebf)
Sheany, Jakarta The Surabaya Legal Aid Institute, or LBH Surabaya, has called on the East Java Police to investigate violence exercised by its officers who dispersed a meeting hosted by the Papuan Students Alliance last week.
On Friday (06/07) evening, members of the police, the Indonesian military (TNI) and the municipal police (Satpol PP), raided a Papuan students' dormitory in Tambaksari, Surabaya, East Java, in what they referred to as "Yustisi Operation," meant to ensure enforcement of district regulations, as laid out by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
However, LBH Surabaya said in a statement that Tambaksari subdistrict head Ridwan, who led the operation, was unable to produce a warrant to enter the dorm.
The Papuan Students Alliance was going to host a screening for its weekly discussion, which this time fell on the 20th anniversary of the Biak massacre.
In July 1998, 40 Papuans were killed and more than 100 arrested and tortured by Indonesian security forces for hoisting the Morning Star flag used by the Free Papua Organization and other Papua independence supporters.
Friday's operation was carried out after local residents expressed their concern that the weekly discussions pose a threat to the country's unity, state news agency Antara reported.
According to LBH Surabaya, this was not the first time that the police harassed Papuan students. The institute has called on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to order the police and military to stop intimidating citizens.
"The East Java Police must conduct a thorough investigation on the violence perpetrated by its officers against Papuan students in East Java," it said in the statement.
LBH Surabaya also called on the East Java Police to act firmly against one of the officers who reportedly harassed a female participant of the discussion. Anindya, who attended the meeting on Friday, said she was molested while trying to establish a peaceful dialogue with the police.
Papua New Guinea's prime minister has reportedly encouraged regional countries to take the issue of West Papua to the United Nations decolonisation committee.
Peter O'Neill made the comment while in Fiji where he was the keynote speaker at a public lecture on "Pacific Regionalism".
The Fiji Times reports that when asked whether Indonesian-ruled Papua, or West Papua, could be part of Pacific regionalism, Mr O'Neill admitted it was a sensitive subject for PNG.
However he pointed out that West Papua was part of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and has participated in regional discussions.
In recent years members of the MSG, notably Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, as well as other Pacific countries, have been vocal about West Papua in international fora.
Their concern centres on violations against the basic human rights of West Papuans, and claims that Papuans have been denied a legitimate self-determination process.
Mr O'Neill said PNG had been speaking frankly to Indonesia's government about issues of human rights abuses in Papua region.
But he said PNG urged regional members who were concerned about West Papua to take the issue up at the UN. According to the Fiji Times, Mr O'Neill said PNG was encouraging that this be put to the UN decolonisation committee.
It's not the first time Mr O'Neill has spoken about his country's concerns about human rights abuses in neighouring West Papua, although his government officially supports Indonesian sovereignty on the western half of New Guinea.
However two years ago, Mr O'Neill expressed PNG's desire for West Papuans to have more autonomy. The Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua were granted Special Autonomy Status by Jakarta in 2001.
Vilimaina Naqelevuki Papua is still a sensitive subject for Papua New Guinea, says Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.
Mr O'Neill made the comment after a question posed to him by Jope Tarai of the University of the South Pacific on whether West Papua could be a part of Pacific regionalism.
In response, Mr O'Neill said West Papua was part of the Melanesian spearhead group (MSG) and had participated in regional discussions.
"As you know West Papua is a member of MSG so they have been participating in some regional discussions with regards to this issue, but more importantly we are speaking in very frank terms with the Indonesian Government about issues on human rights abuses especially in the West Papuan provinces," Mr O'Neill said.
Mr O'Neill said PNG was encouraging regional members to take the issue of West Papua to the UN.
"We need to encourage our regional members who are at the forefront of negotiations dealing with this agenda and discussions that we must take it up to the United Nations.
"We are encouraging that this be put to the decolonisation committee of the United Nations," he said.
Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura, Papua The victory of incumbent candidate pair Lukas Enembe-Klemen Tinal during the Papua gubernatorial election on June 27 will not affect support for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the province, although the pair was not supported by the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), an official said.
Tinal, the incumbent deputy governor, made the statement after the Papua General Elections Commission (KPU Papua) confirmed the vote recapitulation results, which showed the defeat of ruling party-backed John Wempi Wetipo-Habel Melkias Suwae.
Supported by a coalition of nine political parties, Enembe-Tinal won 1.93 million or around 67.54 percent of the vote. With support from the PDI-P and the opposition party, Gerindra, Wetipo-Suwae won 932,008 or 32.46 percent of the vote.
"There is no correlation between political parties' support in the Papua gubernatorial election and the support of Papuan people for a particular presidential candidate in the 2019 election. Although the political party that supports Pak Jokowi did not win in Papua; 95 percent of Papuan people still support President Jokowi," said Tinal, who is on the Golkar Party's central executive board in Papua.
The PDI-P, he said, was not the only party backing Jokowi as he sought reelection.
Tinal said Papuans' support for Jokowi was driven by the President's attention to Papua. Since Indonesia's independence in 1945, he said, Jokowi had been the only president to visit Papua nine times within a four-year term. "This is an honor for us, the Papuan people." (swa/ebf)
Jakarta Pro-democracy activists held an event campaigning for freedom of expression and assembly over the weekend, amid recent reports that public discussions were being dispersed either by the police or by opposing groups of people.
The "Solidarity Action: Why Should We Fear Discussion?" event was held on Sunday at Aspiration Park near the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta, following a report that a discussion at a dorm for Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java, was under heavy police guard on Friday.
"We want to protect the narrowing democracy in Indonesia. We also want to pressure the government and the state to stop dispersing discussions and art exhibits, because such events are necessary to foster critical thinking," said Helena, a university student and an organizer of Sunday's event.
Helena said they had recorded several incidents when discussions were not permitted or disturbed by a crowd, but Sunday's event was held in response to the incident in Surabaya and another one on July 1 in Malang, East Java, that also clamped down on Papuan students.
"A nation needs open discussions to foster intellectual life, not just on campus but also in dorms and other places," she said.
Another organizer, Kania Mamonto, said the event was "[an act of] solidarity by artists, journalists and scholars who care about freedom of assembly and expression".
The event noted that besides the two incidents concerning Papuan students, authorities had also prohibited other forms of public discussion like the Belok Kiri Festival in 2016, last year's photography exhibition of poet Wiji Thukul in Yogyakarta and last November's discussion at the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute.
On Friday evening, hundreds of police officers and military personnel raided a Papuan student dormitory on Jl. Kalasan in Surabaya, saying they were there to carry out "Operasi Yustisi" a civil registration raid for checking people's IDs.
According to Tambaksari Police chief Comnr. Prayitno, security forces raided the dormitory based on reports from a local resident that alleged the students were conducting suspicious activity. However, the dorm residents refused, saying the police did not have a proper warrant.
"We initially planned to carry out the operation tonight, but they [the residents] refused," Prayitno said as quoted by Antara news agency.
Anindya Shabrina, a dorm resident, said that the students had planned to hold a discussion over the situation in Papua on Friday night. She also said that the students had refused entry to the police, who could not provide a copy of their warrant. "This is a democratic country," she said as quoted by Antara.
The government has often suspected Papuan students of allegedly carrying out separatist activities outside their home province. The students spoke with the police and said they were watching the World Cup together, not discussing the violence in Biak.
Antara reported that the students were watching the World Cup until dawn on Saturday, while their dormitory was under guard by the security forces. (nor/dpk)
Solomon Islands police says they confiscated a West Papuan flag at the Melanesian Arts Festival to stop any provocation aimed at the Indonesian delegation.
Ben Didiomea had his flag taken by police over the weekend after he held it up in front of Indonesia's festival stall to protest its inclusion at the event.
A video on Facebook shows Mr Didiomea who was part of a group of demonstrators holding up West Papua's Morning Star flag as Indonesian officials tried to move him away from the stall. He was then approached by Solomon Islands Police who confiscated the flag.
Mr Didiomea said he had been standing in solidarity with fellow Melanesian people of Indonesia's Papua region, where the Morning Star is banned. He said the Melanesian Arts Festival, which Honiara hosted over the last ten days, was not intended as an Asian festival.
Police issued a statement saying the flag was removed to prevent provocation of the Indonesians, reminding the demonstrators that it was not a political event.
Mr Didiomea, who along with two other demonstrators was questioned by police, said the inclusion of Indonesia at the Arts Festival was a political move by the Solomons government.
"Because it was a festival of Melanesia, Indonesia is not part of Melanesia. So why does it need an Indonesia stall at the arts festival? It's a Melanesian festival, so what are Indonesia coming to arts festival?"
According to Mr Didiomea, the police action was a sign that the country was forming a closer relationship with Indonesia.
The Solomon Islands government under prime minister Rick Hou has recently shown signs that it was pursuing a different policy regarding West Papua to that of the previous prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.
Mr Sogavare, who is now the deputy prime minister, campaigned internationally about West Papuan human rights issues. He was also supportive of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, and instrumental in its admission to the Melanesian Spearhead Group in 2015.
However after he was replaced by Mr Hou late last year, the Solomons government has been notably less vocal about West Papua human rights issues in international fora.
A visit in April by a Solomons delegation to Indonesia's provinces of Papua and West Papua at the invitation of Jakarta was billed as having added "balance" to the government's view on West Papuan issues.
The Solomons government told RNZ Pacific in May that it was consulting with the provinces as it formulated an official position on West Papuan human rights and self-determination issues.
Marie Leadbeater A few years ago I wrote about New Zealand's betrayal of the people of East Timor during the 24 years they suffered under brutal military rule from Indonesia. The records show that the New Zealand government was well-informed about the violence and repression which marked Indonesian rule but chose not to take a stand for fear of disrupting good relations with Indonesia.
West Papua's Melanesian people are also denied genuine self-determination. New Zealand is repeating the same mistakes, pursuing an unethical foreign policy that has had tragic consequences for the West Papuan people. The situation could not be more critical. Academic research backs the West Papuan claim that the indigenous population is facing "slow genocide". The New Zealand government is under pressure to change direction. But much more is needed.
West Papua was "gifted" to Indonesia while President Sukarno was at the helm. Suharto's regime, aided and abetted by the West, perpetrated one of the twentieth century's worst massacres, systematically eliminating anyone believed to have communist sympathies. Indonesia was opened up to foreign investment and adopted Western-friendly foreign and defence policies. Rich prizes awaited US corporations, not least among them the gold and copper in the mountainous interior of West Papua.
New Zealand politicians and diplomats welcomed Indonesia's change in direction. Cold war anti-communist fervour trumped sympathy for the victims of the purge; and New Zealand was keen to increase its trade, investment and defence ties with the "new" Indonesia.
None of this was good news for the people of West Papua. A feisty resistance movement had developed, but in 1969 Indonesia managed to pass off a fraudulent Act of Free Choice as meeting the self-determination requirement in the 1962 agreement. New Zealand officials knew from first-hand experience that the West Papuans had been coerced but chose to stand with Indonesia when the United Nations sanctioned the outcome. In the 1960s a grouping of recently independent African nations did their best to stand up for West Papuan rights. They were no match for Jakarta's backers, who included not only Western nations but also Indonesia's conservative Asian neighbours.
New Zealand adopted a policy setting that endorsed Indonesia's territorial integrity as sacrosanct. West Papua slipped beneath the media radar and few challenged the government's decision to turn away. The human rights discourse about Indonesia focused on its shocking record of detaining political opponents and suspected communists and on the unfolding tragedy in East Timor.
This official complacency was challenged from time to time when coordinated campaigns showed that the resistance had never given up. In 1977 there was a sabotage campaign against the Freeport-McMoRan mine, followed by Indonesian retaliation; and in 1984 there was a flood of refugees into Papua New Guinea, prompted by another Indonesian crackdown.
When Suharto's dictatorial regime fell in 1998, West Papuans dared to hope for change. Civil resistance and international diplomacy began to take the place of armed struggle. In New Zealand, civil society started taking greater notice of the situation, and there was a brief moment when it seemed our government might amend its "Indonesia first" policy.
In the last decade there has been an avalanche of documentation of crimes against humanity committed in West Papua over the past half century. This includes documenting the inward flow of migrants. West Papua's diplomatic struggle has borne fruit with the grassroots or "taro roots" movements around the Pacific region who are calling for West Papua to be brought back into the Pacific family. A number of Pacific governments have taken up the cause and made strong representations at the UN General Assembly. New Zealand has so far refused to be part of this advocacy.
It's common to hear people remark that New Zealand doesn't speak out on human rights in West Papua because of trade concerns. Indonesia is a valued trading partner, but that's not the full story. New Zealand makes important foreign policy decisions in consultation with its friends; diplomats are constantly exchanging information, analyses and reports with their counterparts in Washington, London, Canberra and Ottawa. Some of this sharing is revealed in declassified documentation, but it's the tip of the iceberg.
We are a tag-along nation a habit formed when we were tied to the apron-strings of mother England. The Second World War and the rise of the global influence of the United States modified, but did not change, the pattern. The cold war anti-communist pacts such as ANZUS and SEATO are no more, but their traces remain in extensive arrangements for defence cooperation, military exercises and in deployments to theatres of conflict. New Zealand is a member of the secretive UKUSA Agreement, known as Five Eyes, along-side Canada, Australia, Britain and the United States; UKUSA, the world's preeminent signals intelligence collection network, has been around since 1946.
However, New Zealand has gone against the flow with its position on nuclear weapons: most notably, it enacted nuclear-free legislation and insisted on banning all visiting nuclear-powered or nuclear weapons-capable vessels. New Zealand was the only Western aligned country to take such an unequivocal stand that challenged the United States' neither-confirm-nor-deny policy. In 1997 New Zealand also played an important role in helping to broker peace between the warring parties in the long-running conflict in Bougainville.
There have been glimmers of hope that New Zealand might move independently of its allies and give some support for West Papuan self-determination. There was a short-lived initiative sponsored by Prime Minister Walter Nash in 1960, and Foreign Minister Phil Goff made a tentative mediation offer in the early 2000s. Papuans continue to raise the possibility that New Zealand could serve as mediator in a dialogue with the Indonesian government.
Many people thought the New Zealand government would never change direction and support self-determination for East Timor but it did happen. It must happen for West Papua too.
Titus Ruban, Jayapura There was alleged harassment occurred following the civil registration drives dubbed as 'operasi yustisi' in a Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya on Friday (6/7/2018). Some time ago, the similar incident happened in Papuan student dormitory in Malang some time ago.
Public Lawyer from Legal Aid Institute (LBH) Surabaya, Mohamad Saleh while contacting Jubi reported the Papuan Student Alliance in Surabaya at that time was holding a weekly discussion at the Papuan Student Dormitory in Jalan Kalasan no. 10 Tambaksari, Surabaya at around 20:30 pm.
Then the Tambaksari Sub-district Head accompanied by hundreds of police officers, military and civil service officers of Surabaya Municipal Government arguing that they were carrying out the 'operasi yustisi'. "There were 50 police, military and civil service officers who come during the students' weekly discussion."
Further, Saleh said two participants and a public attorney from LBH Surabaya asked for an official letter to the sub-district head, but he couldn't prove it. "The two students, Isabella and Anindya, were trying to talk with the sub-district head, but one of the police officers yelled at Anindya with harsh words which began to heat up the atmosphere," he said.
Moreover, he continued the police officers then pulled him and Isabella while Anindya harassed by one of those officers. "Isabella and I were dragged into a police car until our shirt buttons were loosing, while an officer grasped Anindya's chest," he said.
Legislator of Papua, Jhon Gobai separately regretted this incident. He added the officers should carry an assignment letter when conducting the civil registration drives. "I completely regret this incident, whereas officers didn't bring an assignment letter to perform their duty. I ask the Police Chief to evaluate the performance of his subordinates," he said.
Arjuna Pademme, Jayapura Human Rights National Commission (KOMNAS HAM) Papua Representative said people should not underestimate the Amnesty International (AI) because the agency is quite influential in the United Nations.
Ramandey's statement was related to the launched of AI's report 'Sudah, Kasi Tinggal Dia Mati: Pembunuhan dan Impunitas di Papua (Fine, Let them all died: Killing and Impunity in Papua)' on 2 July 2018 in Jayapura.
The Amnesty International reports since January 2010 to 2018, the Indonesian security forces killed 95 people in both provinces of Papua and West Papua, which 69 victims killed without legal consent, and 85 were indigenous Papuans. However, the report has reaped the reaction from the police and military.
"AI is very influential in the decisions taken in the UN Human Rights Council, especially related to the human rights cases," Ramandey told Jubi on Friday (6/7/2018).
Further, he said it should consider that the Amnesty International, which has 72 offices around the world, is the only institution received the accreditation from the UN to provide views on the alleged human rights violations.
"This is a good practice for the state to improve the legal system and litigation. A mechanism, a dynamic that the Indonesian Government not only the police and military should consider. The government must give a good response," he said.
Meanwhile, the Director of LP3BH (Research, Study and Legal Assistance of Manokwari) said both civil and military officers in Indonesia have the custom to rebut over the report without sufficient data and investigation results of proper standards and methodologies. It often leads to polemical lies in public. "It could also lead to ignorance among Indonesians including Papuans about questionable legal facts in order obtaining fair, transparent and accountable information."
Reuters, Banda Aceh Indonesia's ultra-conservative Aceh province held a public caning of 15 people on Friday (13/07), including of two men who received 87 lashes each for having gay sex, despite an earlier pledge to restrict access and only hold caning inside prisons.
Aceh is the only province in majority-Muslim Indonesia to follow Islamic law and imposes public caning for crimes such as theft, gambling and adultery. In 2014, Aceh outlawed homosexuality.
In April, Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf said he would issue a decree so that caning would be carried out inside prisons and the public and media allowed to witness but not record images or videos. He also said children would no longer be allowed to witness corporal punishment.
Previously, public caning has been livestreamed and uploaded on the Internet, drawing international criticism.
Erwin Desman, head of the Banda Aceh prosecutors' office, said it had not received any paperwork ordering public caning to stop and called for the issue to be reexamined.
"There are pros and cons for this in society. So we suggest we sit with the governor again [to discuss this]," he told reporters, adding that caning would continue to be held in public for now.
A crowd of around 300 to 400 people watched Friday's caning, cheering particularly hard during the caning of the two men charged with having gay sex. Some had brought their children and took photos and video using mobile phones.
Muhammad Hidayat, the head of Aceh's Islamic religious police force, said the men found guilty of having gay sex had been turned in by members of the community.
Along with the men, nine people were caned for showing affection in public outside marriage. One woman was caned for selling alcohol and three men for drinking alcohol. Public caning was introduced in Aceh in 2005 and are supported by many Acehnese.
Yusuf could not be reached for comment on Friday. He was arrested by the national antigraft agency earlier this month over accusations that he took illegal kickbacks for projects. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Euan McKirdy As many as 15 people, including five women, were punished with public caning Friday for violating Sharia law in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province.
Two men accused of being gay received 87 lashes each for gay sex, while nine others were sentenced up to 26 lashes for adultery. Four people, one of whom is female, were lashed 27 times for being drunk.
Carried out after Friday prayers, the flogging was attended by hundreds of spectators, including children, outside the Baiturrahim Mosque in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital.
In video of the punishment seen by CNN, people can be heard jeering as the detainees, who are wearing white, traditional koko shirts, are brought up to the scaffold in front of the mosque.
Others took cellphone video of the punishment being administered by a hooded man while a voice counts the strokes over a loudspeaker. At one point a uniformed official appears to instruct the masked whipper where to land the blow.
Prior to the sentences being carried out, the detainees were given health checks and declared strong enough to undergo the punishment.
Earlier this year the governor of the province, Irwandi Yusuf, decreed that corporal sentences be carried out within the city's prison. However, the head of Banda Aceh's religious police, Muhammad Hidayat, said Friday's sentences were carried out publicly because of a lack of detailed instructions concerning the decree.
Irwandi was arrested earlier this month for alleged corruption, according to Indonesian state media. He denied the charge of misallocation of funds when questioned by reporters. "There is (a) graft charge. I did not ask and also did not receive," Irwandi said.
Unlike the rest of Indonesia, Aceh province follows strict Islamic laws, which make sexual activity outside marriage and same-sex relations illegal.
The state's Sharia criminal code went into effect in September 2015. It is the only one of Indonesia's 34 provinces that can legally implement Sharia, according to rights advocacy group Human Rights Watch.
The two men whipped for homosexuality Friday aren't the first last May two men were lashed 83 times for the same offense.
The enforcement of Sharia in Aceh has "had a chilling effect on the basic rights to security and freedom of expression for Aceh's deeply marginalized LGBT community," according to a HRW report.
The HRW states that LGBT people in the state "live in a spiraling climate of fear... (and) face ever-present harassment, arbitrary arrests and detention by Sharia (Islamic law) and municipal police, and threats of torture."
Muhammad Hidayat, the Sharia police chief, said that homosexuality was widely reviled in the deeply religious state, and that his police force would carry out the prosecution of violations of Sharia equally, without favoring officials.
A gay couple was publicly whipped in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province Friday, despite an earlier pledge by officials to stop the punishment after it drew international criticism.
The two men were flogged more than 80 times each for having gay sex, which is outlawed under local Islamic law, as a jeering crowd hurled abuse at them.
They were among 15 people whipped outside a mosque in the provincial capital Banda Aceh Friday for crimes also including drinking or selling alcohol and showing affection in public.
A crowd of about 1,000 people, including tourists from neighbouring Malaysia, snapped pictures and shouted "Flog them harder" as a hooded figure rained down lashes from a rattan cane on their backs.
The unidentified men were the second gay couple whipped in public this year in Aceh, as the small LGBT community in Indonesia faces increasing discrimination.
Aceh is the only region in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, that imposes Islamic law.
Public flogging is a common punishment for a range of offences including gambling, drinking alcohol, and having gay sex or relations outside of marriage.
Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, said this year it would stop public whippings but continue the punishment behind prison walls. The new policy has not yet been implemented.
Rights groups slam public caning as cruel and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo has called for an end to it.
But the practice has wide support among Aceh's mostly Muslim population, including provincial governor Irwandi Yusuf, who himself was arrested last week on corruption charges.
The gay men whipped on Friday were apprehended by a vigilante mob at a Banda Aceh beauty salon earlier this year and handed over to police, authorities said.
Gay sex is not illegal elsewhere in Indonesia, but there has been a backlash against the community across the archipelago in recent years as same-sex marriage has been legalised in other countries.
Aceh started using religious law after it was granted special autonomy in 2001, an attempt by the central government to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.
Lalu Rahadian "I don't agree. The Jokowi-JK vision, mission and program has been socialised since May 2014, how many years is it now? Almost five years, but there hasn't been any progress at all, instead Pak [Mr} Wiranto has been appointed as Menko Polhukam."
Such was Maria Catarina Sumarsih's response to a statement of support for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo by 98 activists in the lead up to the 2019 elections which was celebrated at an event titled "98 Activists National Meeting" in Kemayoran, Jakarta, on Saturday July 7.
Sumarsih is the mother of Bernardinus Realino Norma Irmawan, an Atma Jaya University student who was killed during the Semanggi I student shootings in Jakarta in 1998. She is also one of the active participants in the Kamisan or Thursday Actions which have been held weekly at the National Monument (Monas) Aspiration Park in front of the State Palace since 2007.
As a parent of a victim of the Semanggi I tragedy Sumarsih does not agree with last week's declaration of support for Widodo. She questions this support from two view points.
First, she questions the realisation of Widodo's pledge to resolve past cases of gross human rights violations, including the Semanggi I tragedy, as laid out in Widodo's Nawa Cita or nine point priority program.
"Actually the [the pledge to resolve past human rights cases] was just empty talk. It was just an attempt to garner votes in the last  presidential election", Sumarsih told Tirto on Monday July 9.
Second, the problems that have emerged after Widodo appointed former armed forces chief Wiranto as Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Menko Polhukam). She believes that Wiranto's presence in Widodo's cabinet has not expedited the resolution of past gross human rights violations.
She further questioned the handling of past gross human rights violations if Wiranto continues to hold the post of Menko Polhukam. This is because Sumarsih is of the view that Wiranto is the person who should be held accountable for the human rights violations in 1998.
"If then Pak Jokowi assigns Pak Wiranto [to oversea a resolution], then what will the results of the study [into resolving past human rights cases] be and what dossiers will then be studied by Pak Jokowi?", said Sumarsih.
"The truth for me is that Pak President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, by appointing Pak Wiranto as Menko Polhukam, does not give me any hope in Pak Jokowi's administration [to resolve past cases of human rights violations", said Sumarsih.
A message for 98 activists
The woman who won the 2004 Yap Thiam Hien human rights award says that she once conveyed a message to 1998 activists to be ready to hold important positions in the administration when they once came to a Kamisan action. According to Sumarsih the presence of 98 activists in state institutions is needed to realise the agenda of reformasi.
She also urged 98 activists not to join Wiranto's People's Conscience Party (Hanura), former general Prabowo Subianto's Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) or Suharto's former ruling party Golkar, because she believes that these three political parties were established by and developed by people alleged to be responsible for the 1998 tragedy.
The woman who originates from the Central Java city of Salatiga, hopes that the 98 activists will start to think about an alternative candidate from within their own ranks which they can back in the 2019 presidential elections.
If 98 activists declare their own presidential and vice-presidential candidates, Sumarsih is prepared to support them and take part in the campaign.
"There should be no need for support [for Jokowi from 98 activists]. If necessary I will as a family member of a victim declare, agitate for, who is appropriate to support as a capres [presidential candidate] and cawapres [vice-presidential candidate] in 2019 [from activists groups themselves", said Sumarsih.
Support for Widodo During the 98 Activists National Conference late last week, the organising committee claimed that 60 thousand people attended. The conference made seven recommendations which were read out in front of Widodo.
First, the conference participants agreed to safeguard the Republic of Indonesia from the threat of intolerance, radicalism and terrorism and reject the use of ethnic, racial, religious and inter-group issues (SARA) in practical politics.
Second that they want to continue the struggle for reformasi to fight the practices of corruption, collusion and nepotism (KKN). Third, the activists want to safeguard democracy from the threat of authoritarianism and militarism.
Forth, the participants agreed to fight for the resolution of past human rights cases and proposed that the student activists who were victims of the 1998 student shootings be declared as national heroes.
They also asked that the government declare July 7 as Hari Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity Day).
Finally, they declared their support for Widodo as a presidential candidate in the 2019 elections. They said they were convinced that Widodo is capable of realising the ideals promoted by reformasi in 1998 because he does not have a background of economic, political or humanitarian crimes.
When asked to explain in more detail about the conference agenda, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P, Widodo's ruling party) politician Adian Napitupulu declined to comment.
Napitupulu was one of the politicians who seen attending the event. The spokesperson for the conference, Wahab Tolehu, also declined to comment despite attempts by Tirto to contact him by phone and SMS.
Responding to the event, 98 activist and executive director of the Lokataru Foundation Haris Azhar said that events such as this cannot be avoided in the lead up to the 2019 elections.
"The 98 alumni are many. Those that attended the event in Kemayoran yesterday were only a fraction. Most have different political perspectives. I'm sure that many 98 alumni also have criticisms about today's regime which still has a craving for power", Azhar told Tirto.
Although he sees it as being quite normal, Azhar believes that it is inappropriate to hold political activities in the name of 98 activists. Azhar expressed this view because he believes that the label "98 activists" is merely a historical identity.
The former coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said that no organisation of 98 activists has currently been established. Because of this, Azhar says that it is not impossible that there will be a similar declaration by other 98 activists in the future.
"Later a 98 activists declaration rejecting Jokowi could also take place, or a neutral [declaration]", said Azhar.
Fitria Madia, Surabaya At a glance, no one would be suspicious of Dwi Ratna Sari. The 24-year-old housewife sat alongside others at a discussion titled "Heri Budiawan Demands Justice" at the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) offices in the East Java provincial of Surabaya on Saturday July 14.
She listened attentively to the discussion, occasionally taking pictures with her cellphone.
Who however would suspect that Ratna has been declared a suspect by police on charges of spreading communist or Marxist-Leninist ideas under Article 107 of Law Number 27/1999 on State Security.
The charges originate from a protest action by Sumberagung village residents against mining activities by the companies PT Bumi Suksesindo (BSI) and PT Damai Suksesindo (DSI) at Tumpang Pitu Mountain in Banyuwangi on April 4, 2017.
Ratna, who was informed by a neighbour that there was an anti-mining demonstration, immediately headed off to join the protest which was being held at the Red Island tour gate.
"I wanted to defend by living space, my land of birth and my future grand children. My house is on the foot of the Tumpang Pitu mountain", she said. Ratna, who has a three-year-old child, took part in the action including putting up banners until 1pm.
Riding on her motorcycle, she followed the scores of protesters articulating their demands and putting up banners alongside the road. "There were perhaps around 11 banners containing resident's opposition to the mine", she recalled.
When they arrived at the Pesanggaran sub-district office, the protesters rested for a while having marched for around two hours.
"Some sat down, some had a drink. We wanted to continue on to the Lowi intersection in Sumberagung. Towards late afternoon more and more people joined in until we didn't know who exactly was taking part", she related, occasionally adjusting her veil.
Ratna, who at the time was wearing a white T-shirt with the message, "Reject the Tumpang Pitu Mine", continued her story.
While she was resting on her motorcycle, the residents invited her to be photographed in front of the sub-district office holding up several of the leftover banners. Ratna left her motorcycle which was around 50 metres away from a group of other residents.
"Come on, hold this one", said Ratna mimicking the call of one of the residents who had already unfurled a banner. Ratna immediately grabbed one end of a banner which was also being held by Tri and Andreas, two other residents who have now also been declared suspects by police.
Finished with the photos, Ratna rejoined the march still holding the banner, which as it turned out, had a logo resembling a hammer-and-sickle.
"I didn't have any idea that the banner I was holding had a hammer-and-sickle logo. We thought that like from the first the banners just had the demands of us residents we thought it was just the same", she confessed.
Two days after the action, Ratna received a notification from the Pesanggaran sectoral police saying that she, Tri and Andreas had been reported to the Banyuwangi district police on charges related to the 1999 law against spreading Marxist-Leninist teachings which carries a maximum sentence of 12 years jail.
Ratna, who at the time knew nothing about the banner was shocked and confused about the meaning of the notification. "I was especially confused because I didn't know anything about it. The police just said okay if you don't know anything tell us what you do know", she said.
Two months after being declared a witness, she suddenly received a notification stating that she had now been declared a suspect.
"I asked how come I've become a suspect? What was my crime? Instead [of answering] they just said I was still a suspect", she said half-mumbling.
To this day, Ratna remains a suspect although the Banyuwangi district police have taken no follow up action against Ratna and her two friends.
Now, Ratna is planning to go to the Supreme Court to request that she be released from the charges and to again return to the fight over Tumpang Pitu Mountain, the fortified protector of the Banyuwangi people.
Robertus Wardi, Jakarta Indonesia on Tuesday (10/07) ratified a defense cooperation agreement with South Korea, providing legal footing for continuing joint military projects, including development of the KF-X/IF-X fighter jets.
The Indonesia-Korea Defense Cooperation Law covers the exchange of military personnel, weapons, and the formation of a committee to implement it.
"This defense cooperation will preserve the good relations between the two countries and improve the welfare and the security of our nations" Asril Hamzah Tanjung, deputy chairman of House of Representatives' Commission I, which oversees defense, said on Tuesday.
Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said earlier that the law would allow the government to continue developing the 4.5 generation semi-stealth fighters.
Indonesia joined the $7.5 billion KF-X project in June 2010, by funding it in 20 percent and supplying engineers to work alongside South Koreans.
However, works have been suspended since May 1, as the Indonesian government decided to renegotiate its participation after unexpected restrictions arose with a United States ban on sharing its technology supplied to Korea. Indonesians involved in the project have been denied access to many of the KF-X/IF-X components.
The ban diminishes the technological contribution the project could have for Indonesia and prevents the country from selling the jointly produced jets, which as Ryamizard has insisted, should be Indonesia's right. Since Indonesia planned to finance the project from its state budget, these restrictions appear unacceptable, he said.
The cooperation with South Korea, however, is expected to continue. "Now we're just waiting for the president's instructions," the minister said.
Members of the House of Representatives requested that the government refrain from stopping the cooperation.
"Do not let the final decision [make it] come to a halt. That would disturb the bilateral relations and potentially even violate the law," said Hanafi Rais of the People's Mandate Party (PAN), who also sits on House Commission I.
Jakarta Greater Jakarta train operator PT Kereta Commuter Indonesia (KCI) has received 13 reports of alleged sexual harassment inside trains since January, but none of the victims have filed reports with the police.
KCI vice president of corporate communications Eva Chairunisa said sexual harassment victims often refused to report cases because they did not want to deal with the police.
There were also victims who wanted to report their case to the police, but later made peace with the alleged offender at a police station, Eva said.
Eva said the company encouraged the victims to report sexual harassment incidents to the police to prevent similar cases from happening in the future.
"PT KCI will assist victims who want to report the case to the police. We will not let the victims undergo the legal procedure alone," Eva said on Wednesday as quoted by kompas.com. (cal/wit)
Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta The Gerindra Party's list of potential running mates for chairman and presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto is down to five names.
"From the PKS [Prosperous Justice Party], there are only two names remaining, [former West Java governor] Ahmad Heryawan and Ustadz Salim Segaf al-Jufri; from PAN [National Mandate Party], there is only [PAN chairman] Zulkifli Hasan left," Gerindra central executive board head Ahmad Riza Patria said on Thursday.
"And from the Democratic Party there is AHY [Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono]. There is also the non-partisan [Jakarta Governor] Anies Baswedan."
He said Gerindra would also consider National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin "Cak Imin" Iskandar if the PKB was to join Gerindra's coalition.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said recently that his list of potential running mates was down to five candidates, but refused to reveal the names.
With only 73 House seats, Gerindra needs coalition partners to be able to field a candidate. Four parties with significant vote shares have yet to officially back a candidate: PAN, the PKS, the PKB and the Dems.
PAN and the PKS have worked together with Gerindra recently, most notably during the contentious 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial race, but neither party has officially endorsed Prabowo's candidacy. The PKB has vacillated between Jokowi and Prabowo, while the Dems have toyed with the idea of nominating a third ticket.
However, Ahmad Riza seemed confident that Gerindra's loose coalition would hold, saying: "To this day, the coalition continues to grow stronger, with Gerindra, the PKS, PAN, and, God willing, the Democratic Party". (ipa)
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo says the list of potential running mates for his reelection bid next year has been narrowed down to five names.
As the clock ticks for presidential candidates to register for the 2019 election, Jokowi said he was still discussing all potential running mates with his coalition of five political parties backing his bid. "The list of 10 names has been pared down to five," Jokowi said on Wednesday.
Speculation is rife that Jokowi is likely to pick a non-political party figure as his running mate to prevent conflict among coalition member parties.
The Golkar Party, a strong supporter of Jokowi, has reportedly mulled over the possibility of backing out of the coalition and instead teaming up with the Democratic Party if Golkar chairman Airlangga Hartarto is not named Jokowi's running mate.
Recent moves by opposition parties to pair Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan with Dems rising star Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono has added another layer of complexity, particularly since Anies, who is non-partisan and a Muslim scholar, could be a tough contender for Jokowi, analysts have said.
Airlangga said it was essential for all five coalition members to stick to the agreed mechanism and not force Jokowi to pick candidate of their interest. Jokowi, however, refused to reveal the names. (ipa)
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta This year's political chess match is nowhere near the endgame, with political bigwigs holding closed-door meetings to determine who will run in next year's presidential election.
Golkar chairman Airlangga Hartarto, who is hoping to become Jokowi's running mate, visited Democratic Party chief patron and former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at his house in Mega Kuningan, South Jakarta, on Tuesday afternoon.
Golkar has been a strong supporter of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, but whether the party will stay loyal to him if it gets nothing in return is another question.
In the visit, which was arranged by Airlangga, they talked about the presidential and legislative elections, raising speculation over whether the industry minister will retract support for Jokowi and team up with the opposition Democratic Party if he is not named Jokowi's vice presidential candidate.
Democratic Party deputy secretary-general Renanda Bachtar said on Tuesday evening that a possibility of a Golkar-Democratic Party ticket was discussed in the meeting.
"Why not? If Airlangga doesn't run with Jokowi, then what is the reason for Golkar to still endorse Jokowi?" Renanda told The Jakarta Post. "As far as we know, Airlangga has a good relationship with Yudhoyono. They communicate very well."
The meeting follows reports that Jokowi, along with Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, prepared at least three names for the vice presidential slot, with some sources saying that the names were non-party figures.
This could mean that the chairmen of political parties in Jokowi's coalition, namely Airlangga, United Development Party (PPP) chairman Muhammad Romahurmuziy and National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskandar, were not shortlisted.
Airlangga told journalists that he and Yudhoyono talked about "the current political situation" in the meeting.
Golkar has long pinned hopes on Airlangga as a vice presidential candidate. The party's confidence on securing the nomination is not without reason.
Golkar is the country's most established political party with long-time loyalists and grass-roots supporters. It is the second-largest party in the House of Representatives with 91 seats, meaning it holds sway in legislative affairs.
The party has been trying to show its loyalty to the President it was the first party to officially support Jokowi's reelection bid, even before Jokowi's own PDI-P did.
If the President does not select Airlangga as his running mate, Golkar will only receive several ministerial seats and the party might see itself short-changed.
Should Airlangga get the nod, Golkar is expected to benefit from a "coattail effect" in the legislative election next year. But if he is not on the ticket, the party risks losing a significant number of legislative seats.
Also on Tuesday, Golkar deputy secretary-general Muhammad Sarmuji said the party was preparing another strategy if plans for Airlangga did not fall into place.
"Maybe we will still support Jokowi with certain negotiations or there will be other options, which will be discussed within the party," Sarmuji said.
Democratic Party secretary-general Hinca Panjaitan said both Yudhoyono and Airlangga had yet to make a decision regarding a coalition.
The Democratic Party has been promoting Yudhoyono's eldest son, Agus Harimurti, as a potential vice presidential candidate. With 61 seats in the House, the party is still looking for a coalition that would back Agus.
It could either go with Gerindra (73 seats), form a third coalition with the National Mandate Party (49 seats) and Prosperous Justice Party (40 seats) or team up with Jokowi's camp. To endorse a pair, a party or a coalition needs a minimum of 112 seats.
Yudhoyono said the Democratic Party had no presidential candidate but they had his son as a vice presidential candidate. "We can be with Jokowi or Prabowo, or another candidate. All things are possible," Yudhoyono said after the meeting with Airlangga.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who is also a former Golkar chairman and respected senior member in the party, paid a visit to Yudhoyono's house on June 25.
Democratic Party's Hinca said the meeting could open up the possibility of a Democratic Party-Golkar coalition that could endorse Kalla, with Agus as his running mate.
Airlangga quashed the idea on June 28, saying that Golkar backed Jokowi.
With 30 days left before the deadline for parties to register their tickets, anything can happen, Yudhoyono said. "Politics can be and are dynamic. There's a possibility that everything will culminate on Aug. 9 and 10," he said.
Yudhoyono said the Democratic Party would wait for Jokowi and Prabowo to declare their candidacy and running mates first and even prepare for a scenario in which the rival camps register at the General Elections Commission (KPU) a day before the deadline.
"But the Democrats are ready, we have mapped it all out and we have thought of several scenarios and [we are ready] for chaos or an emergency," he said Tuesday. "On Aug. 9 or 10, we will select our best option." (evi)
M Rosseno Aji, Jakarta House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Fahri Hamzah disagree if Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan runs for president. He reminded Anies about the Jakarta Regional Head Elections in 2017 that he said was 'bloody'. "I feel the people of Jakarta should not be played like this, the last Jakarta election was 'bloody', read the signs of the times, do not forget," he said via his Twitter account @Fahrihamzah, Tuesday, July 10.
Fahri Hamzah said his disagreement with Anies is the same as when he refused Joko Widodo to run for president in 2014. He said do not play with the people of Jakarta.
"I disagree @aniesbaswedan to be a presidential candidate, simply because I used to disagree when @jokowi left his post in Jakarta," he said.
Earlier, Anies was mentioned to run as a presidential candidate by the party that raised Fahri, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). Meanwhile, Gerindra Party has planned to propose Anies as a vice presidential candidate to accompany Prabowo Subianto.
Fahri Hamzah did not explain what he meant about the 'bloody' Jakarta Regional Head Elections. However, as is known, the elections in 2017 was followed by a wave of protests demanding the candidate for the incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama or Ahok to be imprisoned for being considered of blasphemy to Islam
Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) continuous to persistently offer its party member to be the vice presidential candidate for Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto. The party's executive Tifatul Sembiring says that it is an unavoidable requirement that cannot be negotiated.
"As our initial deal states, we have supported Prabowo so far because he will be partnered with a vice presidential candidate from PKS. That cannot be renegotiated, the vice presidency position must be from PKS," said Tifatul at the parliamentary complex in Senayan today, July 10.
Tifatul strongly disagrees if PKS is only asked to be a supporter in backing Gerindra for the 2019 presidential election and argues that both political parties would better part ways if that truly happens.
"We don't want to just be an addition in the presidential election," said the former Communication and Informatics Ministry.
However, Tifatul said that PKS has responded positively to the news of Anies Baswedan being prepared to be Prabowo Subianto's vice presidential candidate but he once again assessed that the slot should be given to a candidate from PKS.
"The presidential candidate could be Prabowo or Anies Baswedan, that's their right. But the vice presidential position must come from PKS," Tifatul warned.
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has picked his running mate in the 2019 presidential election and will announce it "at the right moment".
"I will announce it at the right moment. It is only a matter of days; be patient," Jokowi told reporters on Saturday.
The secretary-general of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Hasto Kristianto, said on Monday in a statement that the President had held a closed-door meeting with party chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri on Sunday evening at Batu Tulis Palace, a privately owned residence of former president Sukarno's family, in Bogor, West Java.
The deadline for the registration of presidential candidate pairs for next year's election is Aug. 10. Reports say Jokowi picked one name from a list of about 10. Who were on the list?
Born in Sleman, Yogyakarta, in 1974, Romahurmuziy is the chairman of the United Development Party (PPP), which formed as a result of a merger of several Islamic parties, including the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Party. Calling themselves Rumah Besar Islam (Islam Great House), the PPP is expected to bring Jokowi a considerable amount of Muslim voters.
In a recent TV interview, Jokowi said Romahurmuziy was a suitable candidate for vice president.
Analysts, however, doubt that Romahurmuziy, who comes from a prominent NU family in Yogyakarta, can help Jokowi boost his electability as indicated by numerous public opinion polls that placed him outside the top 10 candidates for the vice presidential slot.
The PPP controls 39 seats in the House of Representatives.
Muhaimin is the leader of the National Awakening Party (PKB), a party closely affiliated with Indonesia's largest Muslim organization, the NU. Similar to Romahurmuziy, Muhaimin, born in Jombang, East Java, in September 1966, is considered a potential running mate because of his affiliation with Muslim voters. Analysts also say both Romahurmuziy and Muhaimin would interest young voters as well.
The PKB, a party founded by former president Abdurrahman Wahid, or Gus Dur, controls 47 seats in the House. Muhaimin is Gus Dur's nephew, but in a battle for power within the PKB in 2008, Muhaimin was in conflict with Gus Dur himself and his family.
Former Indonesian Military (TNI) chief and current Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko was also on the list.
"Moeldoko can help Jokowi deal with [possible] sectarian tensions, because he has expertise in dealing with security issues, although he can't represent Muslim groups," said Ari Nurcahyo of Jakarta-based think tank Para Syndicate.
Aged 61, Moeldoko served as the TNI commander from 2013 to 2015. One of his notable assignments during his military career was in Timor Leste in 1984 and as a peacekeeper in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1995.
Last week, Moeldoko resigned from his position in the Hanura Party. The party's chairman, Oesman Sapta Odang, said Moeldoko had resigned as the deputy head of the advisory council in the party because of a tight schedule.
Golkar Party chairman Airlangga Hartarto, 55, has also served as the industry minister since 2016. A technocrat-turned-politician, Airlangga graduated from Gadjah Mada University's engineering department and holds two master's degrees from Monash University and the University of Melbourne in Australia.
Airlangga is a son of the late Hartarto Sastrosoenarto, who held three ministerial jobs from 1983 to 1998, during the Soeharto era. Analysts, however, consider him incapable of helping Jokowi quell possible sectarian tensions during the election.
Some PDI-P politicians have proposed Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani. She is also a politician in the PDI-P, the ruling party and the main party that endorsed Jokowi in the 2014 presidential election. Jokowi himself is a PDI-P politician.
Those promoting Puan, 45, as the vice presidential candidate argued that she could entice young voters.
Puan is the daughter of Megawati and the late Taufiq Kiemas, a senior politician in the PDI-P. Puan ran in legislative elections in 2009 and 2014, securing 242,504 and 326,927 votes, respectively. Both results made her the legislator with the second-most votes in both elections.
Political expert Syamsuddin Haris of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said Jokowi would face a conundrum if he picked a running mate from political parties, given their competing interests. "If Jokowi picks one party chairman, then the other political parties could be disappointed and they could just leave him."
Nonpartisan figures thought to potentially be Jokowi's running mate include: Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Ma'ruf Amin, 75; former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD, 61; and West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Governor Muhammad Zainul Majdi, 46, widely known as Tuan Guru Bajang (TGB).
Analysts said support from TGB could significantly boost Jokowi's electability, particularly among Muslim voters in NTB, a Prabowo Subianto stronghold. (kuk/evi)
Andi Hajramurni, Makassar The General Elections Commission (KPU) in Makassar, South Sulawesi, will rerun the election for Makassar mayor and deputy mayor in 2020 after a blank box won the popular vote.
Unopposed candidates Munafri Arifuddin and Andi Rachmatika Dewi only received 47 percent of the vote, which was lower than the 50 percent threshold, while a blank box on the ballot paper won 53 percent, with more than 300,000 voters opting for it.
Munafri is Aksa Mahmud's son-in-law. Aksa, the founder of Bosowa Corp., is Vice President Jusuf Kalla's brother-in-law.
"The final results of the recapitulation of the vote means that there will be a re-election," said KPU Commissioner Abdullah Manshur in Makassar.
The decision was made on Friday midnight after a two-day recount that was marred by walkouts and protests by supporters of Munafri-Rachmatika.
Incumbent mayor Mohammad Ramdhan Pomanto and Indira Mulyasari Paramastuti were disqualified from running in April after the Supreme Court found them guilty of violating Article 71 in the 2016 Regional Elections Law.
Ramdhan, who will continue to serve as mayor until 2019, had distributed nearly 6,000 free smartphones for neighborhood and community unit heads prior to the election.
Meanwhile, the recapitulation of votes for governor and deputy governor of South Sulawesi continues sluggishly as neither the regency nor city election commissions have announced their results. A previous count showed Nurdin Abdullah and Andi Sudirman Sulaiman had received the highest votes. (nor)
We're almost exactly one month away from the registration deadline for candidates competing in the 2019 presidential election and as of yet no tickets have been officially announced.
With time ticking away, much of the focus now is on guessing who Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto will tap to be his running mate and, based on the statements of various party representatives, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan increasingly looks like his likely pick.
Anies met with Prabowo on Saturday for a meeting to discuss the possible team-up following reports that the Jakarta governor had performed well within Gerindra's internal polling as well as those of outside survey groups.
"Pak Prabowo was responding to growing talk about Pak Anies Baswedan, including from political party figures and the public, about his high probability (of success in 2019)," said Gerindra Executive Board Vice Chairman Ferry Juliantono on Saturday as quoted by Detik.
However, Ferry also made clear that Anies was not the only VP option being considered, mentioning that PAN Chairman Zulkifli Hasan and Democratic Party politician Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) had also fared well on the party's internal surveys.
Anies denied that he had taken the meeting to ask for Prabowo's "blessing" to join his ticket and has thus far avoided further statements on whether he would be joining the Gerindra chairman's campaign, saying he was just "focusing on Jakarta".
Although Prabowo has officially been nominated by his party as their presidential candidate, he cannot officially register his candidacy until Gerindra forms a coalition with other parties large enough to meet the required political support threshold. While Anies is officially an independent, he supposedly has strong supporters backing his VP run in Gerindra as well as PAN and PKS.
"Insha Allah, Gerindra's coalition parties, PKS, PAN have accepted Mas Anies to advance as vice president with Pak Prabowo. The coalition parties are basig this based on growing talk (about Anies) in society these days," Anggawira said in a written statement picked up by Liputan 6 on Saturday. PAN and PKS are considered the two parties most likely to back Prabowo's candidacy, though neither has yet to make any commitment.
Talking up the possible pairing further, Anggawira said, "The best possibility is Prabowo-Anies. Mas Anies is a brilliant symbol of Islamic nationality today, and, of course, Pak Prabowo understands it and blesses it."
Should Prabowo pick Anies as his running mate, it would create a similar situation to when Joko Widodo chose to run as president while he was still in his first term as governor of Jakarta, opening up the possibility of Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno having to take over as capital's top executive (as former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama did when Jokowi defeated Prabowo in the last presidential election).
Sandiaga, who is also a member of Prabowo's presidential campaign, said that the possibility of Anies being named the Gerindra chairman's VP pick was a real dilemma for him, as he believes Anies would be a good complement to Prabowo but he would also be saddened by his leaving the Jakarta governorship, which Sandiaga reportedly expressed by putting his hands up to the sides of his head and making a sad face.
Jakarta Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto has deflected journalists' questions about his planned meeting with Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono [SBY].
"My intention to meet SBY is unimportant. Pak SBY is good at singing, I want to invite him to sing," Prabowo said jokingly at his house at Jl. Kartanegara, Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, over the weekend.
Prabowo said as quoted by tempo.co he had rehearsed to compete with Yudhoyono's singing skills and listed names of songs for the meeting. During two terms of presidency, Yudhoyono released five albums with 40 songs.
Gerindra Party deputy chairman Ferry Juliantono had announced the meeting between Prabowo and SBY beforehand. He said the two party leaders would discuss the possibility of forming a coalition for the 2019 presidential election. "There will be a meeting between Pak SBY and Pak Prabowo in the next few days," Ferry said on Saturday.
Ferry said the meeting would be a follow-up to the previous meeting between Prabowo and Democratic Party deputy chairman Syarif Hasan at Prabowo's house in Kartanegara on July 5. Democratic Party deputy secretary-general Andi Arief said via Twitter that the meeting would address political conditions and the possibility of Prabowo teaming up with Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono as a candidate pair in the election. Agus is Yudhoyono's son. (evi)
Former Jakarta Governor Basuki Ahok "Tjahaja" Purnama was sentenced to two years in prison on May 9, 2017, at the conclusion of his extremely controversial blasphemy trial.
Due to having already received some standard remissions to his sentence, Ahok is actually already eligible for parole as early as next month (prisoners in Indonesia are generally eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of their sentences).
However, Fifi Lety Indra, Ahok's sister and one of his legal representatives, confirmed through her personal Instagram account that while Ahok was eligible for parole in August, he would not be taking the option.
The news that Ahok would not be applying for parole was also confirmed by Indonesia's director general of corrections, Sri Puguh Budi Utami.
Andika D Prasetya, the head of Cipinang Prison (under whose authority Ahok is technically under, although Ahok is actually serving out his sentence in the Brimob HQ Detention Center in Depok due to safety concerns) calculated that if Ahok did not receive parole and continued serving his sentence in prison, he would be released on April 23, 2019.
So the obvious question is, why would Ahok choose to stay in prison for so many more months?
"It's risky, better he just finish his writings and replying to letters from Ahokers (a term for Ahok supporter)", said Ahok's adoptive sister, Nana Riwayatie, as quoted by Detik yesterday.
Nana also mentioned that Ahok was writing a book in prison and that he had said that finishing the book was more important than getting parole.
As devoted to his book and responding to his supporters as he may be, we're pretty sure nobody would buy that as being the main reason Ahok, a father of two, would choose to spend that much longer behind bars and away from his family (although he did recently go through a messy public divorce from his wife, Veronica Tan, while in prison).
Without more direct comment from Ahok we can only speculate further, but we'd guess that it is largely due to political considerations. Were Ahok to apply for and receive parole next month, we have little doubt it would become a huge controversy that would be seized upon by the same Islamist political groups that rallied to have Ahok imprisoned in the first place and used to attack President Joko Widodo by claiming that he was being soft on the "religious blasphemer".
While Ahok would no doubt prefer to avoid further controversy upon leaving prison, we can't help but think this is primarily being done for the benefit of Jokowi, who could be facing a tough reelection campaign next year (the 2019 election takes place on April 19, just a few days before Ahok's release from prison on April 23 were he to serve out his full sentence).
Considering how little Jokowi did to help his former vice governor after Ahok's blasphemy controversy blew up, such a huge sacrifice seems unearned. Is Ahok truly that noble, or is he perhaps planning a move back into politics once he is out of prison and Jokowi is safely in power for a second term?
When asked about Ahok's post jail plans, his sister Nana told Detik that he was interested in getting into business and marrying again, but couldn't say beyond that. "(He wants to) get married again and get busy with work again. As for politics, I don't know if he wants to get back into that or not."
We're just about a month from the official registration deadline for candidates competing in Indonesia's 2019 presidential election but with neither President Joko Widodo nor his most likely challenger, Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto, having officially registered their candidacies or announced their running mates, the shape of that race is still very much up in the air.
However, the results of a new poll from the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) reinforce the popular thinking that Jokowi will be tough to beat no matter who Prabowo picks though there are warning signs for the incumbent.
The results of LSI's latest survey, were released yesterday and feature responses gathered after the nationwide regional elections took place on June 27. LSI researchers said the results show that the number of respondents who said they would pick Jokowi in 2019 is 49.3%, up from 46% percent in May.
"There is an upward trend of electability for Jokowi as the incumbent following the election, but as the incumbent is still below 50%, it is not that good," said LSI researcher Adjie Alfaraby at a press conference discussing the survey results yesterday as quoted by Merdeka.
Adjie said LSI's research showed that the post-election bump was not so much due to the election results (which were a mixed bag for the president) but a general increase in Jokowi's job satisfaction rating.
As for Prabowo, the survey still found the former general in a generally weak position compared to Jokowi (who defeated the Gerindra chairman in 2014) although he fared much better with some potential running mates than others.
The strongest pairing was Prabowo with former TNI Commander Gatot Nurmantyo, a ticket picked by 35.6% of respondents. Prabowo paired with Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan was chosen by 19.6% while a ticket of Prabowo alongside Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, Democratic Party politician and son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, received 12.3%.
Despite Gatot's strong showing in this and other surveys, he has been rarely mentioned in recent talk of Prabowo's potential VP pick (a lack of strong political party support being a possible factor). Governor Anies, technically an independent, is supposedly being "seriously" considered within Gerindra as an acceptable candidate by potential coalition partners PKS and PAN, but talk of a possible team-up of Gerindra and the Democractic Party, sealed by Agus becoming Prabowo's running mate, is also being talked up by some party officials.
As for President Jokowi's VP pick, the incumbent has said the choice has already been made and that he is simply waiting for the right time to announce it. Nonetheless, LSI's survey showed the most popular running mate for Jokowi among respondents was Golkar Chairman Airlangga Hartanto with 35.7% while Finance Minister Sri Mulyani received 32.5%
No matter his pick, the LSI researchers said that Jokowi could not consider his position unassailable. One troubling sign from their survey is that the #2019GantiPresident (#2019ReplaceThePresident) opposition movement was growing, with 60.5% of respondents saying they were aware of it and 54.4% of those people saying they supported it (compared to 50.8% of respondents being aware of it and 49.8% supporting it in their May survey).
LSI's survey was conducted from June 27 to July 5 and the results are based on 1,200 respondents chosen through a multistage random sampling with a margin of error of approximately 2.9 percent.
Hans Nicholas Jong, Jakarta Twenty-five of the world's top environmental scientists have lambasted plans to construct a hydroelectric dam in northern Sumatra, Indonesia, because it would threaten the rarest species of great ape on Earth.
The scientists, members of the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers (ALERT), outlined their concerns in a letter addressed to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, which was hand-delivered to the office of the president's chief of staff, or KSP, on July 10.
The scientists said the $1.6 billion hydropower project threatened the Batang Toru forest in North Sumatra province, home to the Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis).
The species was only described last year, but is already teetering on the brink of extinction, as its habitat in the Batang Toru ecosystem continues to be fragmented by infrastructure projects.
Over the course of three generations, the population of Tapanuli orangutans has plummeted by 83 percent, leaving fewer than 800 individuals surviving in a tiny tract of forest less than one-fifth the size of the metropolitan area that comprises Indonesia's capital, Jakarta.
The Batang Toru hydropower project could be the death knell for the Tapanuli orangutan, according to William F. Laurance, a tropical ecologist at Australia's James Cook University, who led a major study of the species and described it as "the rarest and most gravely endangered" great ape on Earth.
"I cannot imagine anywhere else in the world where a project like this would even be seriously entertained," he told Mongabay by email. "The Batang Toru project will slice its tiny remaining habitat in half via the roads, power-line clearings, and massive pipeline required for the project, along with flooding some prime habitat for the ape."
Much of the scientists' concerns have been explained in great detail in a recent study published in the journal Current Biology, which estimates that the project could destroy more than one-quarter of the Tapanuli orangutan's existing habitat.
The group of scientists has now appealed directly to the president, calling on him to protect the Tapanuli orangutan.
"Mr. President, we know well of your strong background in forestry and business and your leading efforts to reduce the spectre of destructive fires in Sumatra," the letter reads. "We appeal now to you to help conserve one of the most unique and high-profile wildlife species in all of Indonesia."
The scientists said the government could do so by halting further developments in the ape's last remaining habitat; strengthening the habitat's protected status; reconnecting the remaining habitat blocks via forest corridors; and listing the Tapanuli orangutan as a high-profile protected species on the Indonesian protected species list.
"An action of this nature would bring you the enduring gratitude of many Indonesians and overseas citizens eager to see global conservation leaders emerging in our increasingly self-interested world, at a time when leaders of many other nations seem to have lost sight of the importance of a healthy environment for our citizens and children," the letter says.
The planned hydropower plant was announced in 2012 and will be the largest in Sumatra once completed as scheduled by 2022. The Indonesian government considers it a priority project under the Jokowi administration's wider infrastructure-building push.
But due to environmental concerns, some major funders, such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank's International Finance Corporation, have already backed out of underwriting the project. Among the reasons cited are that the ape's habitat is far too sensitive environmentally to sustain further development.
However, the project received a lifeline when the state-owned Bank of China pledged financing for the dam as a part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, an immensely ambitious project through which China wants to boost trade across Asia and beyond by building a massive infrastructure corridor linking it across the region to Europe.
Handling the construction of the dam will be state-owned Chinese utility Sinohydro. Laurance said both the Chinese companies and their Indonesian collaborators were doing everything possible to push ahead with the project.
"On top of that, they are actively debating our conclusions, which were published in a top scientific journal, and grossly misrepresenting the environmental consequences of the dam project," he said.
Besides threatening the survival of the Tapanuli orangutan, the dam project also has another serious implication, one that could have dire consequences for other countries where China's Belt and Road Initiative is planned, according to Laurance.
He said China had promised the Belt and Road Initiative would be "green," "circular" and emblematic of "green civilization."
"But if they will not back off from a project that would have such dire consequences not just for the Tapanuli orangutan but also for other critically endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger then how can we possibly take their word about the other 7,000-odd infrastructure and extractive-industry projects that will comprise the Belt and Road Initiative?" Laurance said.
Therefore, he said, the Batang Toru project was shaping up to be an acid test of China's veracity and intent.
"And to date we have seen nothing to give optimism that key parts of the Belt and Road Initiative will be anything more than an environmental calamity one that will encompass some 70 nations and half of the planet," Laurance said.
Onrizal Onrizal, a forestry researcher at North Sumatra University, said both Indonesia and China were putting their global reputation at stake over a project that would generate only a modest amount of electricity.
"Building the hydroproject would literally bring global shame to Indonesia and China," Onrizal said. "This is one of our closest living relatives how could we risk sacrificing it for such a small benefit?"
Laurance said that he had not heard back from Jokowi's office since the letter was delivered. He added that other initiatives protesting the project would proceed. "This is certainly not the end of our campaign; indeed it is only the beginning," Laurance said.
The Batang Toru hydropower project's developer, PT North Sumatra Hydro Energy (NSHE), told Mongabay in May that the development of the dam was still in the early stages.
"We just constructed a road to reach the location," said Agus Djoko Ismanto, the senior environmental adviser at NSHE. "We just opened the access."
Agus said the company had built the road in parallel with the river, to minimize the fragmentation of the orangutan's habitat, adding this was part of the company's efforts to dampen the environmental impacts of the project.
He said the company was also conducting several studies to assess the dam's wider impacts. Agus said the developers would implement the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), a standard widely applied by multilateral donors, international agencies and private lending institutions, to identify, predict and assess the type and scale of potential biodiversity impacts.
This process would complement the mandatory environmental impact assessment required under Indonesian law, known as Amdal.
"This company will voluntarily follow the standard of the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank," Agus said. "So there are things that are not included in the Amdal process, but included here [in the ESIA], such as the study on biodiversity."
To assess the true impacts of the dam, the company will conduct an orangutan population survey along the built road. And while new roads would have to be constructed to support the development of the dam, Agus said the company would create wildlife corridors if the roads happened to cut off smaller populations of the orangutan.
They estimated as many as 12 wildlife corridors will have to be built in anticipation of the impact of the new roads. "These will be built in stages," Agus said. "There are four [corridors] ready to be built."
Another point of criticism is the vast amount of land that scientists says would be cleared to make way for the planned dam and reservoir, spanning an estimated 70 square kilometers (27 square miles).
Tito Prano, a senior communications adviser at NSHE, said that while the developers indeed had permits to clear that amount of land, they wouldn't clear all of it. Instead, they would only clear less than 6 square kilometers, or about 2.3 square miles, he said, with the rest to be returned to the management of the local government.
"If the government designates [the returned area] as protected forest and we are asked to take care of it, we will surely do it," Tito said. "[Because] if the land is converted into palm oil plantations, then the water table will be disturbed."
Editor's note: William F. Laurance is a member of Mongabay's advisory board.
Jakarta West Jakarta Mayor Rustam Effendi suspects that factories in Daan Mogot may be contaminating the Mookervart River that runs through the area.
"The Mookervart River is black. It's polluted, so that means there is some waste there," Rustam said on Tuesday at the Jakarta Legislative Council building, as quoted by kompas.com.
He said that the river turned black because of the waste from factories on Jl. Daan Mogot. Rustam said that if the factories' waste-treatment systems had been working properly, the waste water would not have turned the river black.
"[The waste] should be processed before being dumped into the river. If we look at the river's condition, there must be something wrong. That's why we need to check up on them," he said.
He said that currently a team was inspecting premises in Daan Mogot. If the team found a factory without a waste-treatment facility or infiltration wells, it would be given a warning and might be forced to close. "The heaviest penalty is by suspending their operation," he said.
The Jakarta administration began inspecting groundwater-treatment facilities, infiltration wells and waste-treatment facilities in the city starting on Monday and will continue until July 20.
The administration will inspect a total of 40 buildings at the Jakarta Industrial Estate in Pulogadung and another 40 in Daan Mogot. (ami/wit)
Asni Ovier and Sheany, Jakarta Chief Security Minister Wiranto on Thursday (12/07) drew attention to the daily loss of dozens of lives to drug addiction in Indonesia, and said the country's "narcotics emergency" may be taken advantage of in case of proxy wars.
"Every day, we lose 30 productive-age citizens to narcotics," Wiranto said during an event in Bogor, West Java, as quoted by BeritaSatu.com. According to the minister, drug-related crimes and addiction can be used as a tool in proxy wars to weaken the adversary.
"It's much cheaper and less visible. But it can affect many people. The war on drugs is right before our eyes, whenever there's an arrest we seize tons, not merely grams. Can you imagine how many millions of people are affected?" he said.
Indonesia still needs to step up its antinarcotics efforts, both in law enforcement and rehabilitation programs, Wiranto added.
National Anti-Narcotics Agency (BNN) chief Heru Winarko said more than 3.3 million people used drugs in 2017. "Drug use has declined from 2.12 percent in 2014 to 1.77 percent in 2017," Heru said.
In 2017, police seized around 1.1 tons of crystal methamphetamine locally known as shabu more than 850 kilograms of marijuana, and nearly 220,000 ecstasy pills. In 2018, around 1.3 tons of crystal methamphetamine alone have been seized so far.
Heru expressed hope that other government agencies and ministries would support the antidrug agency's Prevention and Eradication of Drug Abuse and Trafficking (P4GN) program.
"Drugs are our common enemy. We hope there will be support from other ministries and institutions for our P4GN program, and hopefully it will also be incorporated into their respective work plans," he said.
Rachmadea Aisyah, Jakarta The latest Youth Development Index (YDI) has revealed a gap between the quality of education received by youngsters and their chances of gaining employment in Indonesia.
National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) principal secretary Gellwynn Jusuf said on Friday that the 2017 YDI had improved considerably to 50.17 from 47.33 in 2016.
The index accounted for several aspects considered important to youth advancement such as education, health, safety from crime and leadership.
However, while youth participation in education scored the highest, employment opportunities remained low, according to the index, he said during the index announcement.
Most students received education through secondary school not through university, while employment opportunities were mostly in white-collar sectors that required higher levels of education, Gellwyn added.
He said the government had yet to learn the cause of the imbalance between education and employment rates in the index.
"There are other factors, like infrastructure, that could improve employment opportunities as youngsters would be able to travel around and look for jobs more easily," Gellwynn told The Jakarta Post.
The government, meanwhile, would continue to analyze all data related to the YDI as it also influenced the overall human development index, he added. (bbn)
Jakarta Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has admonished the Indonesian Teachers Association (PGRI), saying the quality of education had not improved, although teachers were receiving better pay through the government's certification program.
"I initiated the teacher certification program and I'm glad it happened. [But] It turns out that those certificates mean nothing. It's just a formal procedure to receive extra pay," Sri Mulyani said as quoted by tempo.co in Jakarta on Tuesday.
The 2007 Teacher Certification Program was implemented to improve the quality of 3 million Indonesian teachers by offering incentives for teachers to undergo a comprehensive evaluation.
The program evaluates a teacher's academic performance, personality, pedagogical skills and emotional well-being. The teachers that pass the evaluation will receive double their previous salary and higher allowances toward professional development.
However, the teachers often used their extra income to buy more goods instead of developing their teaching skills.
Sri Mulyani also urged teachers to be more proactive in advising how the annual education budget should be spent to improve the quality of national education.
According to existing laws, at least 20 percent of the state budget must be allocated to education. The annual education budget has been rising steadily from Rp 160 trillion (US$11.1 billion) in 2009 to Rp 444 trillion ($31 billion) this year.
"I knew that this (fixed percentage) system would be dangerous because it makes us passive in managing the annual budget," said Sri Mulyani.
She said the PGRI should strive to improve education in Indonesia and not just focus its attention on protecting the teachers' welfare. (nor/ebf)
Jakarta Indonesian villagers armed with knives, hammers and clubs slaughtered 292 crocodiles in revenge for the death of a man killed by a crocodile at a breeding farm, an official said.
Photographs released by Antara news agency showed bloodied carcasses of the crocodiles in a large pile in the Sorong district of the eastern Indonesian province of West Papua.
The head of Indonesia's Natural Resources Conservation Agency in West Papua said that the 48-year-old victim had entered the crocodile farm and was likely picking grass for animal feed when he was attacked.
"An employee heard someone screaming for help, he quickly went there and saw a crocodile attacking someone," Basar Manullang said in a statement.
After the burial of the man on Saturday, villagers entered the farm and killed all the crocodiles, said Manullang.
Manullang said the farm had been given a licence to breed protected saltwater and New Guinea crocodiles in 2013 for preservation and also to harvest some of the animals.
But one of the conditions was that the reptiles did not disturb the community, he said. "To prevent this from happening again, farming licence holders need to secure surrounding areas," said Manullang.
He said his agency was coordinating with police in their investigation. "Crocodiles are god's creatures that need to be protected too," Manullang said.
Fachrul Sidiq, Jakarta The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) has urged authorities to make a thorough investigation into alleged prostitution involving minors that is reportedly rampant in Kalibata City apartment in South Jakarta.
The commission has found at least four reports strongly indicating that children were forced to become sexual slaves since 2015. Earlier this month, three minors aged between 15 and 17 years of age were alleged to have been forced into prostitution at the apartment.
Nico Richardo, 20, and a minor named MS, 17, were alleged to be the masterminds behind the illicit practice. The two are currently being detained by the Pancoran Police.
"Houses, apartments and residential areas are supposed to be the most convenient and safest places. We are concerned that the cases in Kalibata City could negatively affect residents, particularly children," Ai Maryati Solihah, KPAI commissioner of the trafficking and exploitation division, said in a statement on Friday.
She said that during an assessment the commission conducted at the apartment on Monday, she discovered that the practice of prostitution was rampant and that it was an elephant in the room among residents.
"The residents are too busy to control and prevent it from happening, therefore they are heavily reliant on apartment management to increase surveillance. They should be committed to tackling human trafficking problems," she said, adding that she urged the police to take firm action particularly in cases that involved children. (wit)
Jakarta The Jakarta Corruption Court has sentenced Bimanesh Sutarjo, a doctor of private hospital Medika Permata Hijau, to three years behind bars for hindering the Corruption Eradication Commission's (KPK) investigation into the role of former House of Representatives speaker Setya Novanto in the e-ID graft case.
"[We] have found the defendant Bimanesh Sutarjo guilty of obstructing the corruption case investigation," presiding judge Mahfuddin read out the verdict during a hearing on Monday, as quoted by kompas.com.
The court also ordered the doctor to pay Rp 150 million (US$10,507) in fines or serve an additional month in jail. The verdict was lighter than six years of imprisonment and Rp 300 million in fines demanded by KPK prosecutors.
Bimanesh conspired with Setya's former lawyer Fredrich Yunadi in November, granting the latter's request to have the politician hospitalized for hypertension, as stated in a medical record from Premier Jatinegara Hospital in East Jakarta, where Setya had been previously treated.
Setya was sentenced to 15 years in jail over the graft case in April this year.
Investigators raided Setya's house on Nov. 15 to arrest him after he had evaded KPK questioning, only to find that he had left his home hours before the raid. A day later, the embattled politician was admitted to Medika Permata Hijau Hospital in South Jakarta after he was involved in what we claimed was a car accident.
Fredrich was sentenced to seven years in prison last month, also on obstruction of justice charges. (kuk)
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators have arrested nine people during a raid in Jakarta, including a member of the House of Representatives, an expert staffer, a driver and a businessman, reports the Jakarta Post.
The KPK also seized Rp 500 million (US$34,692) as evidence, the newspaper said.
KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo alleged the evidence confiscated was related to a transaction involving the House's Commission VII overseeing energy, mineral, research and technology and the environment.
Reports circulated that the lawmaker in question was Eni Saragih, the deputy leader of Commission VII, and that she was arrested in the residence of Social Affairs Minister Idrus Marham. Both are Golkar Party politicians.
Agus said the arrests were conducted of Friday following anonymous tip-offs, reports the Post.
Golkar politician Maman Abdurahman immediately dismissed the report of the arrest, saying that the KPK had merely "picked up" his colleague "ES" from Idrus' residence while the minister was throwing a birthday party for his youngest child.
Maman was also present at the party. "I didn't know what reason the KPK had for picking her up. We should wait for the KPK to release an official statement. I hope she stays strong," he said in a statement.
Jakarta Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators arrested nine people during a raid on Friday in Jakarta, including a member of the House of Representatives, an expert staffer, a driver and a businessman. The KPK also seized Rp 500 million (US$34,692) as evidence.
KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo alleged the evidence confiscated was related to a transaction involving the House's Commission VII overseeing energy, mineral, research and technology and the environment.
Reports circulated that the lawmaker in question was Eni Saragih, the deputy leader of Commission VII, and that she was arrested in the residence of Social Affairs Minister Idrus Marham. Both are Golkar Party politicians. Agus said the arrests were conducted following anonymous tip-offs.
Meanwhile, Golkar politician Maman Abdurahman immediately dismissed the report of the arrest, saying that the KPK had merely "picked up" his colleague "ES" from Idrus' residence while the minister was throwing a birthday party for his youngest child. Maman was also present at the party.
"I didn't know what reason the KPK had for picking her up. We should wait for the KPK to release an official statement. I hope she stays strong," he said in a statement. (stu/swd)
Sheany, Jakarta Police have shot dead five and arrested 20 suspected terrorists believed to be linked to the recent attacks in Surabaya, East Java, and a riot at the detention center of the National Police's Mobile Brigade, or Brimob, in Depok, West Java.
"We have secured 25 suspected terrorists in West Java," provincial police chief Insp. Gen. Agung Budi Maryoto said on Sunday (16/07), as reported by state-run news agency Antara.
He added that five of the suspects four in Cianjur and one in Subang were shot dead by officers for resisting arrest.
Agung said the suspects arrested in Subang are affiliated with the Jemaah Ansharut Daulah terrorist group and based in Haurgeulis, a subdistrict of Indramayu, West Java.
The Islamic State-linked local terrorist group was responsible for a series of attacks that claimed the lives of dozens in Surabaya in May.
Meanwhile, the National Police's elite counterterrorism unit, Detachment 88, also shot dead three suspected terrorists in Sleman, Yogyakarta, on Saturday.
According to Muhammad Najib Azca, head of the Center for Security and Peace Studies at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, the suspects killed in Sleman were part of a jihadist sleeper cell.
"All this time, they had been inactive, merely observing and refraining from communicating. But their ideological conviction persisted and they were only waiting for a trigger," Najib said, as quoted by Suara Pembaruan.
Najib said although it is impossible to establish their affiliation, he believes their main aim was to transform Indonesia into an Islamic caliphate.
Following the incident in Yogyakarta, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has called on the public to cooperate with the authorities to eradicate terrorism in Indonesia.
"We have to realize that terrorism is still present in our country. I call on all citizens to work together with the authorities to help resolve this issue," Jokowi said, as quoted by BeritaSatu.com.
The leaders of 28 Asian countries are expected to attend the opening ceremony of the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta next month.
Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta The National Police's counterterrorism squad Densus 88 shot dead three alleged terrorists on Jl. Kaliurang in Ngaglik district, Sleman regency, on Saturday.
"Today we arrested three and they are dead. They were fighting the police so we took a measured action," Yogyakarta Police spokesperson Adj. Sr. Comr. Yulianto told the media on Saturday.
Yulianto said the alleged terrorists used a gun and sharp weapons to fight the police. Two police officers suffered stab wounds to their hands and hips.
The incident, which occurred on Saturday at 5:00 p.m, saw the police chase down four alleged terrorists who rode two motorcycles.
Two of them were shot in front of the Ngaglik district office, while the other two fled. Of the two, one allegedly hijacked a truck, injuring a passenger the driver's assistant and forcing the driver to help him escape.
The truck stopped after it hit a resident's garage in Gondangan, near Jl. Kaliurang.
Gito Sambodo, the owner of the garage, said that after the truck hit his garage, the alleged terrorist exited the vehicle and ran toward his brother's home.
"He held my brother's wife Sulistyani hostage and put a sickle to her neck," Gito Sambodo said. Sulistyani reportedly managed to escape and cried for help.
As the alleged terrorist was hiding in Sulistyani's kitchen, the police surrounded the site and began shooting him. After several minutes of shooting, he was dead.
Yulianto said Densus 88 and the Yogyakarta Police previously arrested five alleged terrorists in Mlati, Sleman regency, and Mrisi and Pleret in Bantul regency. (hol)
Jakarta A husband and a wife on a motorcycle allegedly attacked the Indramayu Police in West Java on Sunday at around 3 a.m., forcing their way into the station.
"The two unknown people were speeding [on a motorcycle] to enter the headquarters as they were going after a uniformed officer," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Muhammad Iqbal said, kompas.com reported.
On-duty police immediately shot at the two suspects, who turned around and headed for the exit gate after throwing a pressure cooker at the officers. Police shot at them, but they managed to flee from the scene. No police officer was injured in the incident.
The West Java Police bomb squad examined what appeared to be a pressure cooker bomb. There was no explosion at the scene. Police chased the fleeing suspects and eventually arrested them, Indramayu Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Arif Fajarudin was quoted as saying by Antara news agency on Sunday.
"One of the suspects is now in critical condition from the shooting," Iqbal said, as quoted by tribunnews.com. The suspect is being treated at the Bhayangkara Hospital on Jl. Losarang Raya in Indramayu. (stu/evi)
Sheany, Jakarta Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu warned on Wednesday (11/07) that the international community must brace for the rise of "third-generation terrorism."
Speaking at the 2018 Indonesia International Defense Science Seminar in Jakarta, the minister was referring especially to the return of Islamic State fighters from the Middle East.
"Based on Defense Ministry's intelligence data, about 31,500 foreign fighters who joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq," Ryamizard said, adding that 800 them came from Southeast Asia, with 400 from Indonesia alone.
The new threat is largely decentralized, and swoops onto regions in the form of sleeper cells and "lone wolf" operations, as well as online radicalization through social media and by other means utilizing advanced technologies.
According to the minister, defense diplomacy and cooperation must be furthered to develop the Indo-Pacific region's security architecture.
"Recalibration of the Indo-Pacific region's security architecture is an urgent matter that must be brought about so we can navigate every threat and challenge in the region appropriately," he said, adding that no country can solve these types of security risks on its own.
"We cannot avoid the need for cooperation among countries in the region, as we are facing these security threats together, at the same time."
In January, the Ministry of Defense launched "Our Eyes" surveillance and intelligence-sharing initiative, which involves Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, to strengthen regional resilience in the aftermath of a five-month siege of Marawi City in southern Philippines.
According to Ryamizard, other partner countries, including the United States, Russia, Australia and Japan, have expressed a desire to join.
Security cooperation involving many international actors is essential in the face of potential risks arising not only from militancy, but also less obvious sources, including the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar's Rakhine State, as the oppressed are vulnerable to being recruited by terrorist groups.
"Concrete steps and joint handling must be taken to address the potential threat coming from this crisis. If we do not handle it properly, these vulnerable refugees may be recruited by ISIS."
The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) has developed from a small band of Islamist vigilantes suspected of running extortion rackets into a significant political force in Indonesia as the country increasingly embraces religious fundamentalism. But despite their growing influence, there are still certain parts of Indonesia where they are not welcome.
One of those places is the city of Tarakan in North Kalimantan. On Saturday morning, a group of FPI officials, including the organization's vice chairperson, Ja'far Shodiq, arrived at the city's Juwata International Airport for a visit meant to inaugurate a new FPI chapter in North Kalimantan.
However, the leaders from the hardliner Islamist organization never made it out of the airport, due to the hundreds of Dayak youth protesters that were there to meet them. The youths formed a blockade just outside the airport and held signs saying things like "Reject the formation of FPI in North Kalimantan", "We are Muslim but we are not FPI, dissolve FPI!"
As the indigenous people of Borneo, many Dayaks are fiercely proud of their culture and, although many have converted to Islam, they have long resisted the influence of religious hardliners. Dayak leaders have specifically criticized the FPI and their leader Rizieq Shihab many times in the past for destroying Indonesian unity.
Hundreds of police and military personnel came to oversee the protest and prevent the protesters from coming inside the airport.
"The local residents have decided that FPI should not be here because they say later they will create chaos," said Kaltara Police spokesperson Yasmin Sumitra on Saturday as quoted by Viva.
After some discussion with the police and representatives of the protesters, the FPI officials decided to cancel their plans and return to Jakarta. Following further discussion with FPI's central board, they also cancelled plans to inaugurate the new FPI chapter altogether.
"We explained to them that, for now, it is not possible for them to carry out activities in Tarakan. The explanation we provide also concerns their safety and security, especially because in the near future we will hold Rakernas Apeksi (Working Meeting of the Association of Indonesian Municipalities). Finally they heard our explanation and accepted it," Tarakan Police officer Riski Fara Sandhyhe told Berita Kalimantan.
Although the protesters at the airport were primarily made up of members of Dayak youth groups, Kaltara Police Chief Indrajit said that those who rejected FPI's establishment in their city came from all walks of life.
"Many have rejected the inauguration of the FPI in North Kalimantan, not just from certain groups, but from the general public. We, as the security apparatus, are impartial towards all. We are only siding with the comfort and security of the people," Indrajit said.
Kaltara and North Kalimantan are not the only areas of Indonesia where locals have rejected FPI. Similar incidents took place in the Central Javanese cities of Salatiga and Semarang last year after the hardliner organization attempted to open chapters only to be met by fierce opposition from protesters.
Harry Pearl, Jakarta As a university student, Luna Atmowijoyo prayed five times a day, refused to shake hands with men who weren't relatives and was "more fundamentalist" than her pious Muslim parents.
But a decade later, Atmowijoyo has turned her back on Islam and is among a small number of atheists in Indonesia who live in fear of jail or violent reprisals from religious hardliners.
Leading a double life devout Muslim on the outside, non-believer on the inside is often the only choice for atheists in the world's biggest Muslim majority country.
Atmowijoyo, who lives with her parents, still wears an Islamic headscarf to escape the wrath of an abusive father who knows nothing of his daughter's change of heart, which started when she was told to avoid friendships with non-Muslims.
"A lot of simple things started to bother me," said the 30-year-old, who asked AFP not to use her real name.
"Like I couldn't say Merry Christmas or Happy Waisak to people of other religions," she added, referring to a Buddhist holiday also known as Vesak or Buddha's Birthday in other parts of Asia.
Treating gay people as abnormal was another problem and it soon became impossible for Atmowijoyo once a conservative Islamic party member to square the Koran's teachings with science.
Then the unthinkable crept into her mind: God does not exist.
The sprawling Southeast Asian archipelago is officially pluralist with six major religions recognised, including Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism, while freedom of expression is supposed to be guaranteed by law.
But criticising religion particularly Islam, which is followed by nearly 90 percent of Indonesia's 260 million citizens can land you in jail.
This year, a university student was charged for a Facebook post that compared Allah to the Greek gods and said the Koran was no more scientific than the Lord of the Rings. He faces up to five years in prison.
Alexander Aan was jailed for 30 months in 2012 for posting explicit material about the Prophet Mohammed online and declaring himself an atheist.
The prosecutions fit a wider trend of discrimination against the archipelago's sizeable population of minorities, observers said. Authorities, however, insist atheist beliefs are not illegal as long as they're not aired in public.
"Once somebody disseminates that idea, or the concept of atheism, that will be problematic," said Abdurrahman Mas'ud, head of the research and development agency at the Ministry of Religion.
Two decades after the fall of dictator Suharto who kept the country running along secular lines conservative Islam has exploded into Indonesia's public life in lockstep with the rise of hardliners and religiously motivated violence.
The country has grappled with Islamist militancy for years, including the 2002 Bali bombing that killed more than 200 in Indonesia's worst-ever terror attack.
More attacks followed and this year, 13 people were killed in a wave of suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State group that targeted Christian congregations.
Buddhist temples have also been attacked, while this year an angry mob rampaged through a small community of the Ahmadiyya Islamic minority on the island of Lombok, destroying homes and forcing dozens of members to flee.
Atheists interviewed by AFP said they worried that hardliners, encouraged by populist politicians, could turn their attention to them next.
"The worst thing that can happen in Indonesia is we can be killed," said one 35-year-old graphic designer who was raised as a Catholic. "I genuinely fear for my life."
Many apostates particularly those from conservative Muslim backgrounds assume two identities, like Atmowijoyo.
"As long as they keep quiet there is not much risk," said Timo Duile, a researcher at the University of Bonn who has studied atheism in Indonesia. "That is the reason that most atheists I talked to prefer to stay incognito."
No one knows how many atheists there are in Indonesia. While small groups hold regular meetings in large cities, most have sought out like-minded individuals online.
The "You Ask, Atheists Answer" open forum on Facebook has nearly 60,000 members, and there are more like it online.
Karina, based in Singapore, said when she found a private Facebook page for fellow atheists in her native Indonesia she finally felt she was "not alone".
Atheists interviewed by AFP said they worried about doxxing publishing private information to identify users by radical Islamist cyber groups, which regularly make death threats.
Indonesia is not the only Muslim-majority nation where non-believers face danger. Secular and atheist bloggers have been killed in Bangladesh, atheists have been threatened by government officials in Malaysia and jailed in Egypt.
Indonesia, by contrast, is often praised for its moderate, inclusive brand of Islam but that is something many atheists say is no longer a reality. Karina said she was concerned about friends back home. "I'm quite worried about them."
And even in Singapore, she felt she needed to watch her back. "I'm becoming more careful. I still post some critiques about Islam, but now it is more subtle."
Jakarta West Java governor-elect Ridwan Kamil has pledged to develop a province-wide village program for nurturing hafiz, or Muslims that have memorized the Quran, during his term in office.
"[..] Then the mosques in all 6,000 villages in West Java will be led by amazing huffaz," Ridwan said on Sunday, referring to the Arabic term.
He was speaking on the occasion of the 2018 International Quran Recitation Competition (MTQ) and the fifth Congress of the Nahdlatul Ulama's Jam'iyyatul Qurrra wal-Huffazh, an organization of Quran readers and memorizers, which were held at the Asshiddqiyah Islamic boarding school in Karawang, West Java.
"I am committed to sending those huffaz across West Java, so there will be new Islamic standards in West Java," he said, as quoted by kompas.com.
Although he is yet to be inaugurated, Ridwan claimed to be preparing a draft academic bylaw on pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) to justify funding for all pesantren in West Java.
If the bylaw was passed, the West Java administration would be able to provide financial assistance annually, so the pesantren students could focus on their studies and their parents would be freed of the financial burdens from school fees. Ridwan also promised to improve the facilities at pesantren.
The five-day Quran recitation competition was opened on Wednesday by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. Participants from Indonesia and beyond competed by the hundreds, participating in several different categories including Quranic recitation, interpretation and memorization. Foreign participants included those from Brunei, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Morocco, Singapore and Thailand. (swd)
Jakarta (Antara) House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo encouraged the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) and Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) to respond to a finding that 41 out of the 100 mosques surveyed were indicated of being infiltrated by radicalism.
"There must be a clarification about the finding. It should not happen that the issue becomes a polemic and creates unrest," Bambang Soesatyo, who is also popularly called Bamsoet, noted here on Tuesday.
Bamsoet made the statement in response to the result of a survey conducted by the Association of Community and Islamic Boarding School Development Institution (P3M).
The result of P3M's survey indicated that a total of 41 of the 100 mosques under government institutions are indicated of having been infiltrated by radicalism.
The house speaker said that the survey was conducted at 100 mosques within the government's institutions, such as ministries, state agencies, and state-owned firms (BUMN).
Bamsoet, who is also a politician of the Golkar Party, stressed that Commission VIII on religious affairs of the House of Representatives should follow up on the finding.
The commission should conduct a working meeting with the minister of religious affairs."The P3M should also be invited to explain the result of its survey," he added.
Bamsoet also called on the BNPT and MUI to study the result of the survey in a bid to adopt preventive measures."The P3M finding also serves as a reminder for the BNPT, ministries, state agencies, and BUMNs.
"I urge the BNPT, BUMNs, state agencies, and all ministries in Indonesia to improve supervision within the houses of worship in their surroundings and organize activities that can foster the spirit of nationalism," he emphasized.
Bamsoet also requested the Ministry of Religious Affairs to provide regular training and counseling to religious leaders and scholars, who deliver religious sermons, so that the lecture material presented will foster a sense of peace and kinship among religious followers.
Activists linked to Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) have savaged the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) online, comparing it to the outlawed Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and claiming it spreads hoaxes and divides the Islamic community.
How did a visit to Israel by a senior Islamic figure lead to members of Indonesia's largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), accusing the nation's second largest Islamic party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), of behaving like communists who are out to destroy Indonesia?
This is a tale about the fevered state of Islamic discourse in Indonesia, one nurtured in the hothouse of social media. It has been fuelled by long-standing and deepening doctrinal animosities as well as competing political interests. Its resonance will be felt in next year's legislative and presidential elections.
The saga began in early June, when Yahya Cholil Staquf, the secretary of NU's Religious Council (PB Syuriah) and a member of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's Advisory Council (Wantimpres) visited Israel. He travelled at the invitation of the advocacy group the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and gave a series of public lectures as well as met political and religious leaders and academics.
Yahya claimed he went to Israel out of concern for the Palestinians and a desire to foster peace in the Middle East. He also invoked the name of Abdurrahman Wahid ("Gus Dur"), Indonesia's fourth president and former NU chair, who visited Israel on numerous occasions and served on the advisory board of the Peres Centre for Peace. Yahya ignored advice from many of his NU colleagues not to go and travelled without the approval of the NU Central Board. News of the visit broke in the Islamic media on 9 June, sparking immediate controversy. When, a few days later, the Israeli press carried pictures of Yahya shaking hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Islamist groups reacted angrily, calling on NU and President Widodo to censure or dismiss him for undercutting Indonesia's long-standing pro-Palestinian policy and for playing into the hands of an Israeli government that had only recently shot dead more than 50 Palestinians on the Gaza border. Criticism of Yahya sharpened when it was reported that he failed to meet any Palestinian leaders and had been "severely censured" by Hamas in a press statement on 11 June.
Some of the most trenchant commentary on Yahya's visit came from PKS. Party elder Hidayat Nur Wahid scoffed at the suggestion that the visit helped Palestinians, stating that the AJC had "twisted [Yahya's] visit to Israel's advantage, not for Palestine's". Former PKS president Tifatul Sembiring remarked, presumably sarcastically, that he'd "only just become aware that Yahya was an Islamic scholar (kiai)". Most inflammatory of all was the North Sumatran PKS leader, Salman Alfarisi, who tweeted: "Not content with being on the Wantimpres... this cockroach (cecunguk) carefully seeks fame in Israel. Does he want a second job on the Israeli Wantimpres?"
Officially, NU's response to the controversy was measured. Its leaders assured the media that NU's support for the Palestinian cause was unwavering and that Yahya's visit was a personal initiative. Some of the more progressive leaders defended Yahya, pointing to his long record of interfaith activism and his efforts to promote moderate and tolerant Islam globally. In private, though, many on the Central Board were displeased by the visit, believing it achieved little and showed Yahya's inflated sense of his own international stature.
But it was the PKS criticism and denigration of Yahya that most aroused ire in NU's ranks. NU social media lit up with denunciations and ridicule of PKS. Younger, media-savvy NU activists mounted counter-attacks against the party on Twitter, using hashtags like #tenggelamkanPKS (#sinkPKS) and #guremkanPKS (#belittlePKS). Most featured mocking or castigating images and comments. For example, one showed a rubbish truck carrying crates with tattered PKS signs, and others had memes depicting a submerging PKS ship with the gloating tagline "PKS sinks in Java", following the party's supposedly poor June regional election results. (Most political observers believed that PKS had actually performed above expectations in the elections.) Another widely shared meme bore the words: "Thank God I am not PKS".
But it was the NU-linked Duta.Islam site that pressed the attack furthest. In a series of articles published in late June, various writers vilified PKS for a succession of perceived evils. One article accused the party of being part of a Saudi Arabian plot to take over Indonesia. It declared: "PKS's main agenda is to destroy Indonesian culture via the invasion of Saudi Arabian culture", calling the party an "extension of the hand of the Saudi Kingdom". It claimed the Saudis planned to take over Indonesia's resource wealth because their own oil reserves would be exhausted in 30 years, and the "most direct way of doing this was by cultural invasion". It concluded that once traditional Islamic culture was deemed "polytheistic and deviant", then the "Unitary Republic of Indonesia would be destroyed". This trope drew on a common view in NU that all "transnational" Islamist groups, such as PKS and Hizbut Tahrir, are Wahhabist/Salafist a categorisation few independent scholars would agree with.
Duta also cast PKS as a national threat due to the party's supposed links to Darul Islam and other "treasonous" movements. Darul Islam declared Indonesia to be an Islamic state in 1949 and waged armed rebellion against the Republic in the 1950s and early 1960s. Among the PKS leaders mentioned as being from Darul Islam families was Hilmi Aminuddin, one of party's most revered Islamic scholars and founders, who was the son of a senior Darul Islam commander. Other articles referred to PKS leaders supporting the now-banned Hizbut Tahrir, or of having pro-ISIL sympathies.
Most extreme of all, the website likened PKS to the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), which has been banned since 1966. In an article titled "PKS is PKI in Religious Garb", the unnamed author listed 15 similarities between the two, including that both were cell-based, cadre parties that demanded uncritical study of key texts (Karl Marx for the PKI, Hasan al-Banna for PKS), as well as full compliance with party leaders' instructions. To drive the point home, an accompanying meme altered the PKS symbol of two crescent moons and a sheaf of wheat to show two sickles and a hammer. Another image implied that PKS was "neo-PKI".
Such public NU broadsides against PKS are without precedent. Mutual suspicion and tensions between the two organisations have existed since the party was founded in the late 1990s, but rarely have NU-affiliated media been so brazen in their attacks.
The reasons for this escalation go far beyond Yahya's Israel visit. In recent years there has been growing concern in many sections of NU that it is losing the information war with Islamist organisations, and especially PKS, which has one the most social media-adept communities in Indonesia. During the 2014 Presidential Election, PKS members played a leading role in the "black campaign" against Widodo, who was favoured by a majority of NU members, spreading rumours that he was a closet non-Muslim and of Chinese descent. The party also featured prominently in virulent social media campaigns against Chinese Christian former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama. Many NU activists bear a particular grudge against the PKS-linked website Piyungan, accusing it of running aggressive, conspiracy-laden sectarian attacks on PKS' rivals, including NU.
As a result, many younger NU members now see fightback as imperative, lest NU increasingly cede ground to its doctrinal and political opponents. NU's championing of Islam Nusantara (Archipelagic Islam, as opposed to putative Arabised Islam from the Middle East) has been one part of this. The "Cyber Army" of NU youth wing Ansor is another. But the Twitter and web campaigns against PKS in the past month show NU's determination to turn PKS's own techniques against the party. The use of highly emotive and provocative language and images, as well as the resort to outlandish, maligning conspiracies, have been trademarks of the most notorious PKS-linked sites. Now NU, which likes to portray itself as a bastion of Islamic moderation, is immersed in unedifying discourses.
Of course, NU leaders will deny, with some plausibility, direct responsibility for the anti-PKS discourse, much as PKS leaders did with Piyungan, but they will hope to benefit from the pillorying of their foes. In the run-up to the 2019 elections, this ramping up of polarising, vituperative campaigning between two major Islamic communities augurs badly for the civility of Indonesian democracy.
Andi Muhammad Ibnu Aqil, Jakarta The government must look at its own backyard to continue the fight against radicalism as a recent study found that dozens of mosques at government offices in Jakarta have been promoting extreme Islamic teachings.
The Association of Islamic Boarding School and Society Development (P3M) and Rumah Kebangsaan discovered that 41 of the 100 mosques in government ministry, state agency and state-owned corporation (BUMN) complexes in Jakarta have had radical teachings espoused during Friday sermons.
Of the 41 mosques that have spread radical ideas, including the creation of khilafah (caliphate), 21 were at state-owned company buildings, eight at state agencies and 12 at ministry buildings.
The study was conducted from Sept. 29 to Oct. 21 last year by analyzing 274 video and 357 audio recordings taken by volunteers.
"We defined radicalism as ideas that called for fundamental changes [to the government] without concern for different groups," head researcher Agus Muhammad of P3M told reporters during a press conference at the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) headquarters in Senen, Central Jakarta, on Sunday.
Agus said the study indicated that the government paid little attention to the mosques in their buildings, which might have resulted in radicalized thinking among civil servants and their circles.
"Mosques [in government-owned buildings] should be free from radical thoughts and ideologies," he said.
He urged the Indonesian Mosques Council (DMI) to heed the warnings from the study and conduct in-depth research on the findings to counter radicalism in mosques.
"We also wish that NU, Muhammadiyah, and other organizations that hold moderate Islamic views will be more active in preaching at government-owned building mosques," he said, adding that otherwise hardliners would fill their absence.
However, Agus emphasized that the study only indicated that mosque-goers had been exposed to radicalism. It could not conclude whether mosque-goers had been radicalized as it only observed Friday sermons.
Rumah Kebangsaan director Erika Widyaningsih said the groups decided to share their findings following recent statements from officials denying any presence of radical teachings in mosques.
However, the groups refused to disclose the names and locations of the 100 mosques, saying they did not want to cause a commotion.
"We are open to discussions if anyone feels that this [study] is offensive. We have the data [on the mosques] and we are ready [to reveal them at request privately]," Erika told The Jakarta Post.
The study results were not initially intended for public release. However, Alissa Wahid, the eldest daughter of late president Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid and national secretariat coordinator of GUSDURian, a network of people who admire the legacy of her father, conveyed the findings during a closed door meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the State Palace in June.
Alissa confirmed to the Post that she had conveyed the study results to the President without any intention of public release.
"We thought that the findings should be handed over to the government as an unpublished report. When the opportunity arrived, I told the President," she said on Sunday. The results were then leaked to Jakarta leaders and the media.
Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno said the administration would take measures to rein in radicalism following the report. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, on the other hand, disputed the results and demanded that anyone who made the claims provide evidence.
Jakarta The poverty rate in Indonesia has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded, according to the latest data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).
"March 2018 is the first time ever for the poverty rate to be in the single digits. Previously, we were always in double digits," said BPS head Suhariyanto in a press conference in Jakarta on Monday, adding that the number of poor people was recorded at 25.95 million.
BPS records show that the poverty rate in September 2017 stood at 10.12 percent with about 26.58 million people living below the poverty line. The agency revealed that most of the poor people live in villages.
The poverty rate in villages was recorded at 13.20 percent in March 2018, down only slightly from 13.47 percent in September 2017.
Suhariyanto said the jump in the government's social assistance, which had grown by 87.6 percent in the first quarter of 2018, compared to a 3.39 percent increase in the first quarter of 2017, was a significant factor in pushing down the poverty rate.
Increased non-cash assistance and rice for the poor had also helped improve people's welfare, he said, adding that low inflation in 2018 had also contributed to the increase in people's purchasing power.
The BPS also recorded a significant increase in consumer spending at the lowest income level. Back in 1999, the national poverty rate stood at 23.43 percent, with 47.97 million people living in poverty. (bbn)
Jakarta Former Presidential Security Detail (Paspampres) commander Lt. Gen. Andika Perkasa has been appointed the new Army Strategic Reserves commander (Pangkostrad), a move that may strengthen the Presidential Palace's influence on the military ahead of the 2019 elections.
The son-in-law of former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Hendropriyono, a close aide to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, will replace Lt. Gen. Agus Kriswanto, who is entering retirement.
The strategic position will give him the authority to oversee all army commands and conduct defense and security operations with other forces in the military.
"There is a tour of duty among high-ranking officers and it includes Lt. Gen. Andika Perkasa," said Indonesian Military (TNI) spokesperson Maj. Gen. M. Sabrar Fadhilah as quoted by antaranews.com.
Andika served as Paspampres chief right after Jokowi took office. He was promoted to a three-star general and appointed to lead the Military Education and Training Command in Bandung (Kodiklat) earlier this year, making him among the army's brightest stars and predicted to become a future military leader.
Critics, however, attribute his rapid rise in the military to Hendropriyono's position in the inner circle of the Presidential Palace. Hendropriyono's son, Diaz, currently leads the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI), a supporting political party to the government.
Backed by the PKPI and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), making a majority in the House of Representatives, President Jokowi is seeking reelection next year.
A recent rash of violent street crimes in the Greater Jakarta Area, coupled with security concerns ahead of the upcoming Asian Games, led the Jakarta Police to declare a month-long operation against thieves and other street criminals from early July to early August.
Disturbingly, police officers were directed to not hesitate to shoot suspects if they attempted to "resist in any way" as part of the operation, which activists have denounced as a violation of human rights opening the door to summary executions by the police.
Police recently revealed the results of the first nine days of the operation, from July 3-12. According to their data, they arrested 1,952 suspected criminals, of which 320 were charged while the rest received "counseling" before being released.
Out of those arrests, 52 suspects were shot by the police, all allegedly for attempting to resist in some way. Forty-two of those shot were injured while the other 11 were killed.
The operation involves around 1,000 officers divided into 16 teams tasked with monitoring certain areas of the capital prone to crime including bus terminals, train stations, shopping centers and highways.
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) have criticized the police operation and warned that it was reminiscent of law enforcement under Suharto's New Order dictatorship.
"Playing around with shooting thieves, what's the difference between them (the police) and what happened during the Petrus incidents," said National Commissioner of Human Rights, Sandrayati Moniaga on Sunday as quoted by Tempo
(Petrus referring to "penembakan misterius" or the mysterious shootings that took place from 1983-1985 involving thousand of suspected criminals who were mysteriously shot to death by undercover snipers and had their bodies placed in public places as a crime deterrent. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's allegedly said that his his bloody war on drugs was directly inspired by the Petrus killings.)
The director of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, Alghifarri Aqsa, urged victims of police shootings and their families to report unlawful actions and called on the police to reevaluate the policy, saying that it was not about protecting thieves but protecting the principle that suspects must be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Devina Heriyanto, Jakarta Ahead of the 2018 Asian Games, the Jakarta Police are carrying out a crackdown on thieves and robbers in the capital. The force has deployed 1,000 personnel in 16 teams from all police precincts in the capital for the operation, which began on July 3 and will last until Aug. 3.
By the third day of the operation, the Jakarta Police had investigated 69 street crimes and detained 73 suspects. Twenty-seven of the suspects had been shot in the leg for resisting arrest.
The police have been given the order to shoot in the case of resistance, as stated by police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono.
A high-profile series of robberies was reported in the capital in the past few weeks. Government officials such as Syarif Burhanuddin, the Public Works and Housing Ministry's housing director general, and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's expert staff member Armedya Dewangga were among the victims of these crimes.
Although many news media reported that Armedya was a victim of a begal, the perpetrators were actually maling, given the lack of violence or threats used in the crime. He was fooled into stopping his car, rather than being forced to do so the latter being a quintessential begal move. Meanwhile, director general Syarif was a victim of a jambret.
The nuance of crimes in Jakarta might be hard to navigate. Here is a glossary to better understand the differences:
This term refers to a specific type of robber who operates on the streets. A begal, a Javanese word, was traditionally on foot lurking in deserted places like in the forests of Java to rob passersby at the point of a weapon. The term has been included in official Indonesian dictionaries and in the contemporary usage means robbers who ride motorcycles armed with bladed weapons or guns. They corner their victims to steal their belongings, with the highest-value target being a victim's motorcycle, hence the term begal motor. Because of the rise of violent motorcycle thefts across the country committed by begal, the term has risen in popularity, and sometimes is used inaccurately to describe other types of robbers such as jambret or maling.
Similar to burglar, a maling is usually stealthy in his operation and the target is a house usually at night or during the day when the residents are out. A maling could also steal from a vehicle or steal the vehicle itself.
A robber who uses violence and/or weapons. A perampok usually targets a house or shops. The difference with a maling is that a perampok is more upfront. In daily conversation, people sometimes shorten the term to rampok, which is actually the verb for "to rob".
A thief who snatches valuables and quickly runs away. The colloquial name for the person is often shortened to just jambret, which is the verb form meaning "to snatch". A jambret is traditionally on foot, but today a jambret pair riding on a motorcycle and targeting the bags of a victim who is either walking or riding pillion on a motorcycle is common. This is dangerous since the victim might lose balance and fall or be dragged by the jambret's motorcycle. But usually the violence is only a byproduct as jambret do not use weapons.
A common pickpocket. Similar to maling in terms of secrecy and stealth, but a copet usually operates on foot and in crowded places where they are hard to notice. Usually the victim is only aware long after the copet is gone. A copet targets small objects like wallets and cellphones.
Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta The House of Representatives' Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, confirmed on Wednesday the selection of two Supreme Court justices proposed by the Judicial Commission (KY).
The two judges, who will serve in the religious and civil chambers, were approved by all 10 political party factions after passing a fit and proper test conducted by lawmakers.
They are Abdul Manaf, former director general of the Religious Court who is set to serve with the religious chamber, and Pri Pambudi Teguh, formerly a judge with the Central Java High Court, who is to serve at the civil chamber. Pri is the older brother of Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo.
"We approved [the two] by acclamation, especially since the Supreme Court is in need of more justices," Commission III deputy chairman Desmond J. Mahesa said on Wednesday.
The Supreme Court had requested eight judges for the country's highest court, but from the applications the Judicial Commission received, the latter only selected two candidates in June to be assessed by the House Commission III.
Desmond, a Gerindra party politician, has criticized the Judicial Commission for proposing only two candidates, saying the House consequently felt obligated to approve both.
He further said the Justice Commission tended to select candidates based only on their legal expertise then avoid their capabilities or lack thereof after they have started serving in the Supreme Court.
However, Desmond acknowledged the challenges in finding a candidate with both the experience and capacity to successfully serve the country's highest court which has been through its share of controversies in recent year. (ebf)
In Indonesia, thieves often receive little sympathy and beatings of suspected criminals by angry mobs are disturbingly common. But footage of a senior police officer in Bangka Belitung physically assaulting two women and a child accused of stealing from a minimarket has quickly drawn an outpouring of outrage from across the country since it went viral yesterday, including the anger of the National Police chief.
The footage, taken just yesterday at about 7pm, shows Bangka Belitung Police Superintendent M Yusuf standing in front of two women who are sitting on the floor of a minimarket. Yusuf can be seen kicking one of the women in the face as she begs for mercy and later throws a sandal at her. He also hits a child standing to the side.
According to the police, Yusuf is the owner of the minimarket shown in the video. He was at home when one of his employees called him to say there were seven people at the store who he suspected were trying to steal goods.
"When [Yusuf], the owner of the store, got a call at home from the shopkeeper that there were seven people who had entered the store pretending to shop in order to steal, finally three were caught, two mothers and one 14-years-old child," Bangka Belitung Police spokesperson Abdul Mun'im wrote in press statement picked up by CNN Indonesia.
Yusuf then questioned the three suspects about who they were, where they lived and the whereabouts of the other four who had managed to escape. But the three said they were nobodies, did not have any homes and did not know about the other four people.
The footage captures Yusuf's reaction to their lack of answers, with the police press release saying that the police officer became "provoked" and "emotional" upon hearing their response.
The Bangka Belitung police spokesperson said the two women and the child in the video had suffered some bruising from Yusuf's assault.
Mun'im also told the media that the women and child had been caught stealing baby formula, instant noodles and a headscarf from the store and said that the "victim" had suffered IDR 600,000 (USD 42) in losses from the theft. One of the women is still being investigated for theft after allegedly being caught with the stolen goods and could potentially still face charges.
After a witness uploaded the video it immediately exploded on social media and soon got back to authorities. Bangka Belitung Police Chief Syaiful Zachri immediately issued an order dismissing Yusuf from his post today and launched an investigation into his actions.
National Police Chief Tito Karnavian was also reportedly furious upon seeing the footage for himself
"In regards to the video (of the beating), the National Police chief is extremely angry and will dismiss Superintendent (Yusuf) today as well," National Police spokesperson M. Iqbal said today as quoted by Detik, adding that Yusuf's actions did not reflect the police's current mission of promoting professionalism and public trust.
Fadli, Batam, Riau Islands US Ambassador to Indonesia Joseph R. Donovan Jr. has said that he has talked to a number of Indonesian ministers about 124 Indonesian products listed in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
"What we are doing is to increase trade with Indonesia, both exports and imports," said Donovan at Hotel Best Western Panbil in Batam, Riau Islands, on Monday evening on the sidelines of a celebration for US Independence Day.
"The important thing is that we work together to increase trade and economic ties between the two countries. I spoke today to a number of ministers. [...] I believe there is much we can do together."
Previously, Sofjan Wanandi, an expert staff member to Vice President Jusuf Kalla, said President Donald Trump had warned the government about Indonesia's trade surplus with the world's largest economy.
Trade Minister Enggartiasto said the country was reviewing how Indonesia benefited from export tariff cuts through the GSP. Roughly 10 percent of Indonesian products would be affected if the US went ahead with its plan to remove 124 products from the system, he added.
Indonesia has consistently recorded a trade surplus with the US. In 2017, its trade surplus was $9.67 billion, 9.89 percent higher than the $8.84 billion surplus recorded in 2016. From 2013 to 2017, Indonesia's surplus grew at a rate of 8.47 percent per year. (bbn)
Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, Jakarta The agreement made on Thursday between PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum) and United States mining company Freeport-McMoran Inc. (FCX) was largely welcomed by the government, which claimed that the future of PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) was now clearer.
It added that the heads of agreement (HoA) signed by FCX and Inalum, which represents the government, was binding and would assure stability for PTFI in terms of investments, tax issues, royalties and operational transitions.
However, law and economics experts have accused the government of overselling the deal and suggesting it would settle every issue relating to PTFI's future operations in Papua.
University of Indonesia (UI) international law expert Hikmahanto Juwana pointed out that the HoA contained errors from a legal perspective.
He emphasized that the deal was not a stock trading agreement, but merely an agreement in principal and should be followed up with another contract.
"It must be thoroughly scrutinized because for lawyers, there is the adage 'the devil is in the details'," Hikmahanto said. He believes that a done deal should be in the form of a sales and purchase agreement.
In this case, the US$3.5 billion is payment to Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto for its 40 percent participating interest (PI), which would be converted into shares in PTFI, and $350 million to local miner PT Indocopper Investama, another local FCX subsidiary, which owns a 9.36 percent share in PTFI.
Only after the payment is made will Indonesia officially control 51 percent of PTFI's shares and become the majority owner of the company, which operates the world's largest gold mine.
Both Rio Tinto and PTFI agreed with Hikmahanto, saying that Thursday's agreement was merely one step toward completing the deal which still has the possibility to collapse.
Rio Tinto clearly stated in a press release distributed last week that the HoA was a non-binding agreement, and the binding agreement was expected to be signed before the end of 2018.
"Given the number of terms that remain to be agreed, there is no certainty that a transaction will be completed," the press release reads.
During a press conference on Thursday, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno assured that the deal was a binding agreement.
"Unfortunately, the impression that government officials gave regarding the deal was overwhelming. It misled the people, who then posted messages [on social media] such as 'Thank you, Pak Jokowi' without fact checking [the deal]," said Drajad Wibowo, a senior economist at the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef).
Drajad, a politician from the National Mandate Party (PAN), which is known to be critical of the Jokowi administration, said the public should know that larger issues had yet to be finalized.
"I hoped the transaction will not overstretch Inalum's finances, as the $3.85 billion deal is equivalent to 61 percent of the firm's assets," he explained. "Not to mention that Freeport still wants to control PTFI's operations, even though Indonesia has become the majority owner."
Hikmahanto added that the HoA was in violation of prevailing laws, because it gave Freeport operational rights until 2041.
According to Law No. 4/2009 on mineral and coal mining, no further agreement can be made when a contract of work (CoW), which Freeport technically still has, is due. Freeport's CoW will expire in 2021.
However, in February last year, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry issued a special mining permit (IUPK) for Freeport, saying the company had agreed to change its CoW into to an IUPK and agree to waive the benefit of a 50-year extension.
Freeport previously refused to comply, arguing that an IUPK was not a nail-down scheme because the stipulations, including the taxation scheme, can change according to a change in government regulation.
"The investment stability agreement also contradicts Article 1337 of the Civil Code, which prohibits any deal that goes against a prevailing legislation," Hikmahanto said.
Meanwhile, non-governmental organization Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) has taken a hard stance against the deal, believing that any agreement would have zero benefits for the people of Papua.
Fergus Jensen, Jakarta Freeport-McMoRan agreed on Thursday (12/07) to sell a majority stake in the world's second-biggest copper mine to the Indonesian government via a series of complex deals worth $3.85 billion, potentially ending a long-running dispute on mining rights.
That agreement, which could still collapse, will have Freeport give up majority control but remain operator of the Grasberg copper mine, located in the country's eastern province of Papua, as Jakarta seeks to gain greater control over its mineral wealth.
Here are some questions and answers on the agreement:
Freeport and Rio Tinto have agreed on a structure and pricing for a series of transactions to transfer majority ownership of the Grasberg project to Indonesia's state-owned mining holding company, Inalum.
Inalum will pay $3.5 billion for Rio Tinto's 40 percent participating interest which Freeport will then convert into an equity holding in local unit Freeport Indonesia. Inalum will also pay $350 million for the share of Grasberg held by Indocopper Ivestama to take the country's total holding to 51.38 percent in Freeport Indonesia.
Heads of agreements are typically non-binding. However, Indonesia's State Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno said the agreement is binding while Rio Tinto and Freeport both said the heads of agreement is just a step and not binding.
Freeport's divestment of ownership of Grasberg is one of the steps the miner must take as it transfers rights to the mine from its current Contract of Work to a special mining permit, to satisfy rules set out in Indonesia's 2009 Mining Law.
Details on exactly how the new permit will differ from the Contract of Work are yet to be revealed, but in essence, it is expected to establish financial and operational guarantees for Grasberg up to 2041.
Indonesia issued Contracts of Work before 2000 and usually royalties or taxes are fixed for the duration of the contract and are generally not subject to government regulation. In contrast, new mining permits are subject to current regulation and places the mining company at a lower status than the government.
Freeport is also required to build a second smelter in line with Indonesia's mining rules, which require mineral ores to be processed domestically to increase the value of the country's exports. According to Freeport, it will have five years to complete a $3 billion smelter project once Inalum has acquired a majority stake.
How can Freeport retain operational control of the mine without retaining majority control?
Freeport is expected to form a joint venture agreement with Inalum that will establish rules on how the mine and the company will be managed on a daily basis, and that agreement is expected to cover shareholder voting rights and capital investment responsibilities.
With the risk of meddling due to the many vested interests swirling around Grasberg, Freeport has insisted it needs operational control before committing to a multi-billion-dollar investment for underground mining at Grasberg instead of its current open-pit form.
How have investors in Freport and Rio Tinto responded to the agreement?
The market response to the agreement has been muted so far, particularly compared to a 14 percent drop in Freeport's shares on April 24 after the company revealed environmental demands by the Indonesian government.
Freeport shares on Thursday rose 2.5 percent in pre-market trade on news of the agreement, but closed 0.7 percent lower at $17.29. Rio shares trading in London were down 0.1 percent at 4,014 pence as of 1010 GMT on Friday.
What is expected to happen next after Thursday's signing ceremony?
Inalum, Freeport and Rio need to finalize sale and purchase agreements for the planned transactions, along with shareholder agreements.
The government needs to issue Freeport and Inalum with a special mining permit for Grasberg, which provides for long-term stability of its operations.
Environmental matters, including government requirements for Grasberg's management mine wastes known as tailings, need to be resolved.
What have the main parties involved said about the agreement?
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said the agreement is a "leap forward" for the country and will mean greater returns from taxes, royalties and dividends.
Freeport chief executive Richard Adkerson said the company does not expect the new agreement to make "a material change" to its taxes, royalty payments or cash flows from Grasberg, but acknowledged Indonesia will benefit from greater dividends resulting from its increased ownership.
Referring to a discount Freeport had agreed to accept for its Indocopper stake, Adkerson said "so we put some money on the table to help facilitate this happening."
Danielle Bochove, Viriya Singgih and Yoga Rusmana In what has become a pattern of two steps forward and one back, Freeport-McMoRan Inc. hailed a framework agreement that has been reached over its flagship copper-and-gold mine in Indonesia while acknowledging it's far from definitive.
"What we've done today, after months of hard work, is reach an important step towards progressing this framework agreement to point towards an ultimate consummation of it," Chief Executive Officer Richard Adkerson said in a conference call Thursday.
Earlier in Jakarta, Freeport and the Indonesian government announced a deal that confirms the price-tag to cede majority control of the Grasberg mine. Under the agreement, state-owned PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium, or Inalum, would pay $3.85 billion to increase the nation's stake in the asset to 51 percent from just over 9 percent now.
The deal is part of a series of complex discussions that would see Rio Tinto Group cash out on its interest for $3.5 billion, leaving Freeport's share of the payment at $350 million.
Freeport made it clear that there are still big issues to be resolved. They include: finalizing the company's long-term rights in Indonesia until 2041, negotiating terms that would allow Freeport to maintain operational control once it's no longer the biggest stakeholder, and coming to an agreement on environment matters, including its treatment of tailings waste.
That, in turn, means Rio's sale isn't a done deal.
"Given the terms that remain to be agreed, there is no certainty that a transaction will be completed. Any final agreements will be subject to approval by the necessary government regulators and authorities," Rio said in a statement.
Indonesia and Freeport have been locked in negotiations for more than a year over the miner's long-term presence in the country. Talks have been peppered by reports of progress, usually from the Indonesian side, followed by complications.
Negotiations will continue between the company and authorities in Jakarta, Adkerson said, calling it a "new day" for relations with the government. "We are not slowing down."
Next steps include finalizing a joint-venture agreement, after which the divestment payment will be made, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno said. Once that happens, the government will issue a new mining license to Freeport and an "investment stability regulation."
On the issue of fiscal stability, officials have said terms are close to being finalized. Adkerson estimates direct benefits to the central and local governments in Indonesia, and dividends to Inalum, would be between $60 billion and $90 billion under a new contract between now and 2041, assuming copper prices between $3 and $4 a pound.
Since 1992, Freeport has paid about $18 billion in taxes, dividends and royalties to Indonesia, Adkerson said. He and Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Quirk stressed that most of the increase over the next 20 years is due to higher dividends flowing to Indonesia because of its bigger ownership stake, not to higher taxes or royalites.
Freeport has received assurances "that we will find a resolution of the environmental issues that will be acceptable for all parties," Adkerson said. The company was blindsided by new regulations around tailings waste earlier this year and he has insisted its right to dump and store much of the waste in a local river system be grandfathered.
Earlier in Jakarta, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said tailings treatment is a crucial point of discussion. "We will keep pushing for this, following the developments and, if needed, there will be policies." she said.
Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said a letter of recommendation is needed from the environment and forestry ministry before Freeport can get two 10-year extensions to operate Grasberg.
Freeport also made clear in a statement Thursday that it expects to remain in charge of operations through its local unit PT-FI, regardless of the size of its stake after divestment. During the call, Adkerson defined this as being able to create and execute a long-term mine plan.
Freeport expects the divestment transaction to take place in the second half of 2018. Soemarno said management decisions are still being finalized. Shares of Freeport were up 0.2 percent at 1pm in New York as the price of copper advanced 1.4 percent.
"This is significantly less than many people in Indonesia were expecting and nowhere near the "completion of divestiture by the end of July" referred to in the numerous statements from Government officials over the past few months," Bill Sullivan, a lawyer specializing in mining at Christian Teo & Partners in Jakarta said by email.
The deal is likely "a face-saving strategy for the Government and designed to give the President some "political cover" for next year's elections," he said.
With assistance by Tassia Sipahutar, and Thomas Biesheuvel
Jakarta State-owned mining holding company Inalum now owns a 51 percent share of gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia after years of "tough" negotiations, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced on Thursday.
"I received reports that our mining holding company, Inalum, has reached an agreement with Freeport related to our 51 percent ownership of [Freeport] from the previous figure of 9.36 percent," Jokowi said at the Indonesia Convention Exhibition (ICE-BSD) in Tangerang, Banten.
Previously, US mining giant Freeport McMoRan Inc. (FCX), a parent company of PT Freeport Indonesia, owned 90.64 percent of PT Freeport Indonesia's shares. The President described the three-and-a-half-year negotiation process as "very tough".
He did not reveal the value of the divestment, saying that he had authorized State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani and Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan to handle the matter.
He said the completion of Freeport's divestment was a breakthrough for Indonesia, because the country could now enjoy more taxes, royalty and dividends from the company.
"Our national interests should come first," Jokowi said, adding that the successful deal was followed by the takeover of Mahakam Block, now managed by state-owned energy giant Pertamina. (bbn)
Stefanno Reinard Sulaiman, Jakarta The approval of the 26 plans of development in the first half has resulted in additional oil and gas production of around 580 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force chairman Amien Sunaryadi has said.
Amien said the additional production was partly because of the achievement in the reserve replacement ratio, which was recorded at 148 percent from the performance target of 100 percent.
"Exploration is a crucial part of ensuring energy reserves and the nation's economic stability," he said in a statement received on Monday.
The achievement was also recorded in the increase in state revenue from the upstream sector. As of the first half, revenue was recorded at US$8.5 billion, or 71 percent of this year's target of $11.9 billion as stated in the state budget
"By the end of the year, revenue collection from the upstream sector is projected to reach 120 percent of the target," Amien said.
In trying to maintain stable productivity, the task force will carry out various activities including surveys, drilling and maintenance throughout the second half.
"There are five projects starting production in 2018 that will contribute around 7,800 barrels of oil per day and 98 million standard cubic feet per day of gas," Amien added. (bbn)
Jakarta Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi has said that the government plans to develop 10 new airports to support the development of tourism in the country.
He said the government was discussing financial resources for the planned projects. "The valuation process is being discussed by the Finance Ministry," Budi said in Jakarta on Wednesday as reported by kompas.com.
Airports would be developed in Lampung, Central Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara, Central Kalimantan, Bangka Belitung and North Sumatra, he said.
Tjilik Riwut Airport in Central Kalimantan was slated for completion this year, Budi said, adding that the the project had secured an investment of Rp 400 billion (US$27 million).
Speaking about financial resources for the airport projects, Budi said that the government invited the private sector to help develop the airports because of a limited amount of funds for infrastructure from the state budget. The government was also discussing ownership of the airports, he added.
"There is an option that the airport would be owned by private companies, while the government would only supervise and operate the airports that would be developed by state-owned airport operators [AP I and AP II]," he said.
For security reasons, the government needed to control the operation of the airports, which would be owned by private companies, he said.
He said the Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway project was an example of an infrastructure project that was being funded by private companies. (bbn)
Jakarta The chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), Thomas Trikasih Lembong, has said that several investors had informed the board that they would be postponing their investment plans because of the rupiah depreciation.
Thomas said that the weakening rupiah, which was hovering at Rp 14,000 per US dollar, had caused the investors to doubt the prospects of investing in the country.
"Yes, they postponed [their investment]. They are waiting for the fluctuating rupiah to become more stable," Thomas said in Jakarta on Thursday, as reported by kompas.com.
He said that postponing investment for six months was common among investors, as they needed to assure that their funds were safe. However, such a postponement was a big deal for Indonesia, because it would affect economy's performance over the next six months.
Thomas added that some investors had canceled their planned investment, but not because of the rupiah depreciation and instead, because of the worsening trade war between the United States and China.
"They prefer to invest in other countries, our competitors," he said. (bbn)
Jakarta National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro has said that the government is committed to creating new centers of economic growth outside Java in its effort to reducing economic disparities between Java and other regions.
Bambang, who is also head of the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), pointed out that 60 percent of the country's economy was based in Java, 20 percent in Sumatra and the remaining 20 percent in other regions.
"Therefore, we have to create new centers of growth outside Java," the minister said in Jakarta on Tuesday, as quoted by kontan.co.id. He made the statement at a press conference on the Indonesian Development Forum (IDF), which Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Gary Quinlan also attended.
Bambang said the government had three main programs to improve economic activities in regions outside Java:
First, accelerate development in those regions that possessed strong economic potential by creating economic growth centers in metropolitan areas; second, focus on creating growth centers in both villages and urban areas; and third, accelerate infrastructure development and improving basic services in frontier, outlying and least developed regions while accelerating borderland development to encourage local initiatives and innovations.
Meanwhile, Quinlan said Australia was committed to helping Indonesia reduce economic disparities among its regions. He and would carry out a study on the disparity between Java and Sulawesi as an initial step to reduce disparity. (bbn)
Anton Hermansyah, Bogor, West Java The government is aiming to strengthen the Indonesian manufacturing industry and secure big investment projects in the face of global uncertainty and a trade war.
On Monday, after attending a more than four-hour Cabinet meeting at the Bogor Presidential Palace in West Java, Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto said the government would guarantee the supply of raw material to manufacturing industries.
The government would also ease the import tax burden to help the export-oriented industry be more competitive, he added.
On investment, the government would provide incentives to labor intensive industries that relocated their factories, like those from West to Central Java, due to cheaper manufacturing costs, Airlangga said, adding that it would also give incentives to small and medium enterprises.
He added that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo also requested minister to carry out a study on the production of 30 percent biodiesel blending (B30 blending) because the upgrade of B20 to B30 blending would increase the use of biodiesel by 500,000 tons per year.
The expansion of the commodity for domestic use is needed due to the increasing protectionism policy by the traditional market for Indonesian palm oil products.
Meanwhile, Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) head Thomas Trikasih "Tom" Lembong said the government would focus on how to secure big investments especially for import substituting and export-oriented products.
"We will focus on megaprojects such as smelters and petrochemicals because such an investment involves a huge amount of money," he said, adding that such industries would produce semi-processed materials that Indonesia still imported. (bbn)
Bambang Muryanto, Yogyakarta A newspaper named Bintang-Barat published in Batavia (now Jakarta) in 1871 is displayed on the wall of Bentara Budaya, an exhibition hall in Yogyakarta. On the front page of the newspaper, which has turned yellow, we can see scheduled departures of vessels sailing from and to the Dutch East Indies throughout May 1871.
Bintang-Barat is the oldest newspaper displayed in the old magazine and newspaper exhibition, which is scheduled to take place from July 3 to 11. Jointly held by Bentara Budaya and national newspaper Kompas, the exhibition displays dozens of newspapers and magazines published in Indonesia from 1871 through 1972, which all used old Indonesian orthography.
One of magazines displayed is Varia, which was published on Sept. 18, 1963. From the magazine, readers can learn that the construction of the National Monument (Monas), a historical landmark in Jakarta, was funded by the public. Varia announced that by purchasing the magazine, which was sold at Rp 54.50 (less than 1 US cent) in Java and Rp 59.50 outside Java, readers would contribute to the development of the monument.
The exhibition's curator, Hermanu, said old newspapers and magazines gave Indonesian people invaluable knowledge on the country's history. They contributed greatly to people's knowledge in various fields, such as politics, religion, corruption, wars and advertisements.
"Newspapers and magazines published in the old era always informed readers of important events that occurred every day," said Hermanu.
Culture observer Sindhunata said a newspaper that had been read might end up in a trash can or be used by street vendors to pack peanuts. But 100 years later, it can become a really important historical document, he added.
"Newspapers and magazines that record daily events may not seem special but in fact they can become very impressive historical documents," said Sindhunata.
Most old magazines and newspapers displayed in the exhibition belong to Haris Kertoraharjo, a contractor who is also an antique collector. In the past, many magazines and newspapers wrote about sensitive matters, he added.
"Before late former president Soekarno was toppled, news reports in magazines and newspapers were just like news reports published nowadays about Ahok [former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama]. Soekarno was always cornered," said Haris.
The exhibition was opened by Budi Ubrux, an artist who has created many art installations that always include newspapers as one of the components. In his short messages, Budi said the exhibition was very important for younger generations. "Newspapers and magazines are historical milestones of human civilization," said Budi.
A literacy community managed by Bandung Mawardi from Colomadu, Surakarta, has also been involved in the exhibition. On Saturday, university students were invited to come to the exhibition to learn to capture moments not by using cameras but by using words. (ebf)
Max Lane On June 27, Indonesians flocked to polling stations across the country to vote in local elections. On the ballot were mayors, district heads, and governors in 171 of Indonesia's more than 500 electorates.
The results delivered few surprises. Parties that have a long-term base of support in this or that region retained that support. The majority of the thirteen parties in parliament back President Joko Widodo only three are outside the government and a majority of new governors are allies of Widodo. The one twist came at the local level, where some party branches that support Widodo at the national level threw their weight behind parties that oppose him. In the key region of North Sumatra, Widodo's party went down in defeat under these circumstances. Both the pro- and anti-Widodo parties are claiming victory in the aftermath.
More than anything, though, the elections once again threw into sharp relief the barren terrain of Indonesian politics the vicious result of the 1965 massacres, which saw hundreds of thousands of leftists slaughtered at the hands of the Indonesian military. The Communist Party, then one of the largest in the world, was wiped out in one fell swoop. Leftist ideas became verboten. Popular mass-based organizations were exterminated. Since the massacres, a tight control on historical knowledge has eliminated almost all memory of past popular struggles or left-wing thought. Marxism remains legally banned, with significant penalties (including imprisonment) for "spreading widely" such ideas.
This isn't to say that there's a shortage of parties in present-day Indonesia. Fourteen different formations participated in the recent elections, deploying a range of symbols and rhetorical styles to differentiate themselves. Some adopted a semi-secular, moderate nationalist rhetoric; others a religious, mainly Islamic rhetoric; still others tried to merge the two, proclaiming themselves "national religious."
But the differences, for the most part, are not deep. There is no formation articulating a left politics no social-democratic or labor party, no party of class disaffection. The union movement, while much more active than a few decades ago, is still small and divided, with the biggest unions coopted by one or another of the registered elite-owned parties. There is no peasant movement, despite a substantial village and rural population and frequent peasant protests over land confiscation. Outspoken social-democratic or socialist public figures are nonexistent on the national political stage, even at the margins.
Why, then, are there so many parties? The answer lies in the character of the Indonesian capitalist class the dominant, and only, class with political organizations in the country.
Indonesia, like most Third World nations, has remained economically underdeveloped despite its robust growth rate on average, between 4 to 6 percent since the late 1960s. Its per capita income is just US $4,000. It has virtually no industrial base no domestic capacity to produce plant and machinery, and for the size of the country, insignificant iron and steel production. No more than 5 million out of a workforce of 160 million are employed in medium or large manufacturing enterprises.
Indonesia, it could be said, has less a "national capitalist class" than a "domestic capitalist class." Capitalists who deploy their capital nationally are rare, and even some of those are based in sectors with no real production weight the richest capitalists are connected to cigarette production. Many of the bigger capitalists trace their origins to the Suharto era, when links to centralized, authoritarian state power helped them flourish.
The vast majority of Indonesian capitalists are relatively small operators. Their enterprises service a local market: an administrative unit, a province, or a few provinces. This parochialism bleeds over into their politics. Their political cultural style reflects the dominant cultural elements in their areas, and the local branches of political parties relate to their voter base through the vocabulary of these cultures: one variant or another of Islam; of the more eclectic Javanese, semi-secular cultures; eastern Indonesian Christianity; and so on.
"Welfare benefits" may be promised, but it occurs in the style of a local patron offering a benefit to his or her clients. To some extent this dynamic is being eroded in the sprawling urban centers of atomized proletarians and semi-proletarians, but no viable alternative has yet appeared. Even in the overcrowded urban hamlets, almost all community organizing is rooted in a patron-client culture.
Perhaps the clearest manifestation of the localist character of the parties is that all of them to varying but significant degrees have their primary voting base in specific regions, even if they're ostensibly national parties.
Another line of differentiation is those political elements that relate to the general needs of the domestic capitalist class and those whose outlook is still framed by their history as state-dependent capitalists.
The first pole, represented by the current president, Joko Widodo, and all the nine parties supporting him, are happy with "democracy" (that is, a formal pluralism for all parties of the bourgeoisie). They recognize the need for freedom for ongoing transactions between all the fragments, and are prepared to accept the messiness of making and remaking coalitions that goes with it. The other pole hankers for the days when a centralized authoritarian government acted firmly, unimpeded by formal pluralism. They want the kind of regime that once allowed them to flourish, and with much less hassle.
Associated with this second pole are the few parties or advocates, openly or otherwise, of an Islamic state of some kind that is, a state where religious law and religious authority (i.e. of selected religious scholars) is preeminent. They loathe what they see as the concessions to secular culture that electoral pluralism has produced.
In the national parliament, the parties are divided into three blocs. The first is a group of eight parties that support the Widodo government the transactional "democrats." The second is composed of two parties: Gerindra, headed by former Suharto general Prabowo Subianto, and the Welfare and Justice Party, a conservative Islamist party. These two parties also regularly align themselves with extra-parliamentary conservative Islamic groups. This bloc acts as an "opposition" to the Widodo government.
The third bloc comprises a single party, the Democrat Party, headed by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which bills itself as "national religious" and recruits liberal intellectuals as well as more conservative politicos. It regards itself as a party that can bridge the gap between different parts of the capitalist class, accommodating the needs of both small and medium capital and the ex-cronies.
Despite their differences, all three blocs favor the current economic strategy, which has been pursued for more than two decades: support for capitalist-led growth and, more recently, wage suppression. They eschew redistribution save for a minimal World Bank-sanctioned social safety net. And they do what they can to keep discussions of past human rights violations out of the public arena.
The three bloc differentiation apparent at the national level is often absent at the local level, with the various parties formally aligning themselves with whomever seems likely to help them get elected or attain positions even those they purportedly oppose at the national level. This makes it difficult to discern which of the national-level blocs performed the best in the recent elections. Looking forward to next year's presidential election, it appears the contest will still be between the current president, Widodo, and his 2014 challenger, Prabowo. Formal nominations by party alliances of their presidential candidates will take place this August.
So, in Indonesia, it's choice with no choice. Of course, this is not just a feature of contemporary Indonesian politics. Most electoral systems in capitalist countries, especially in this era, offer no real choice (although the Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn phenomena indicate that is changing in some places).
But Indonesia is particularly bereft. The extreme and totalitarian character of the suppression in Indonesia, not only of organization but of popular traditions and past progressive ideologies, means that a significant dissident minority current has still not made itself felt. Only the capitalist class, in its variegated forms, is represented politically. For popular forces, Indonesia is a veritable desert a daunting environment for anything verdant to grow.
The longer this goes on, with social and cultural conditions failing to keep up with the aspirations of young Indonesians, most of whom are not part of the bourgeoisie, the more likely the eventual explosion will be shot through with both class tensions and generational conflict.
Tommy Soesmanto The Indonesian rupiah has gone through a rough ride this year as the currency continues to weaken against the US dollar. In early May, it breached its psychological barrier of Rp14,000 per US dollar, making it the second-worst performer in Asia in the February-to-April period.
The country's central bank, Bank Indonesia, has intervened several times by buying sovereign bonds and selling foreign currency to stabilise the rupiah. However, the currency's downward trend continues. As of July 13 2018, the rupiah stood at around Rp14,400 per US dollar.
I will highlight below the factors behind the rupiah's depreciation while also elaborating on the winners and losers of the weakening currency. I will also discuss the prospect of the rupiah bouncing back.
One domestic factor behind the weakening of the rupiah is the lower-than-expected growth of Indonesia's gross domestic product (GDP) as a result of sluggish consumer demand.
However, the depreciation against the US dollar is not isolated to the rupiah. Other major Asian currencies have fallen against the dollar too. In other words, external factors have also played an important role in the depreciation of the rupiah.
A major external factor in the weakening of rupiah is the aggressive decisions of the Federal Reserve (the Fed) to raise interest rates in the US. The Fed has raised US interest rates two times in the first half of 2018. These decisions were taken to control inflation in the US following the country's recovery from the global financial crisis.
The US rate hikes lure investors to invest more in US dollar-denominated financial assets and drive their portfolios away from emerging countries like Indonesia. This triggers higher demand for the US dollar, and hence strengthens the dollar against other currencies including the rupiah.
The rupiah depreciation is bad news for Indonesians travelling overseas as well as for Indonesian online shoppers. Plane tickets, hotel fares and prices of imported goods that are quoted in dollars become more expensive.
When importers lose out, Indonesian exporters on the other hand benefit from the situation. Foreigners will find Indonesian products cheaper to purchase with the weakening currency. Indonesia's manufactured goods and other key export products will therefore gain competitiveness in the world market.
In the bigger context, the increase in exports, combined with the decrease in imports, will result in an increase in Indonesia's net exports. This will be favourable to stimulate short-run growth in Indonesia, whose annual economic growth remains stagnant at the 5% level over the past few years.
For a more comprehensive analysis of the impacts of the currency depreciation, we also need to look at the rupiah's movement in terms of its real effective exchange rate (REER) index.
The REER index goes beyond the simple nominal valuation of the rupiah against the US dollar. The index measures the weighted average value of rupiah in relation to a basket of several currencies of Indonesia's key trading partners such as the US dollar, the Chinese yuan, the euro and the Japanese yen. Further, the index also incorporates the effects of domestic and foreign inflation on Indonesian trade competitiveness.
Putting it simply, we can only conclude that Indonesia will gain trade competitiveness if the rupiah not only depreciates against the US dollar but also declines in terms of its REER index. Data obtained from global macroeconomic database CEIC show a decrease in the rupiah's REER index between April 2017 and March 2018. This verifies that the rupiah depreciation would have improved Indonesia's trade competitiveness and helped to stimulate growth.
In short, the weakening of the rupiah is actually a positive thing for the country's economy.
However, a further depreciation of the currency must be treated with caution as it can cause more harms than gains. A further depreciation will create a greater burden for the Indonesian government in paying its debts in foreign currencies.
Inflation rates will also increase as domestic production in Indonesia becomes more expensive because of the higher prices of imported materials. Consequently, Indonesia can expect Bank Indonesia to further increase interest rates to both control inflation and stimulate a higher demand for the rupiah.
It should not come as a surprise if the rupiah touches the Rp15,000 level by the end of the year.
The Fed is expected to further raise interest rates in US. It has in fact signalled its intention to have two more rate hikes this year.
Adding to these, now we have the China-US trade war. The trade conflict will likely have negative impacts on Indonesia's exports in commodities such as biodiesel and the derivative products of crude palm oil.
Given that China and US are Indonesia's top two export destinations, the negative implication of the trade conflict for these two countries can also hurt Indonesia. This will reduce demand for the rupiah and lead to its further weakening.
Bank Indonesia in this case needs to be prepared to sell more of its foreign exchange reserves to avert a crisis for the rupiah. Fortunately, unlike the 1998 Asian financial crisis, the central bank is now better equipped with more reserves to intervene in the market should the ride get too rough.
So, rupiah, brace yourself! The rough ride will persist in the near future.
Deandra Madeena Moerdaning, Vienna A year ago on July 7, 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that pushes forward a new treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
The agreement is the first of its kind that categorically prohibits nuclear weapons and hence focuses merely on disarmament. The treaty will only enter into force once 50 nations have ratified and acceded to it.
As a nation whose representative was among vice-presidents leading negotiations of the treaty and as a vocal opponent of nuclear weapons, it is crucial that Indonesia ratifies the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty immediately.
It is of vital importance that Jakarta maintains its leadership role and show commitment to shared international security interests of developing countries, the majority of NAM member states. Jakarta and NAM have always been vocal about attempts to eliminate double standards in international security, particularly regarding nuclear security.
On top of being an excellent example to ASEAN countries regarding compliance with non-proliferation regimes, Jakarta continues to encourage ASEAN member states and beyond to improve the persistently slow progress of the nuclear disarmament.
In a joint effort with ASEAN member states to combat the threat of nuclear weapons, during its chairmanship of the Association Jakarta opened the door for consultations between member states and nuclear-weapon states (NWS), to encourage the latter to sign the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ).
Jakarta was praised for its efforts in promoting the spirit of the treaty beyond the region.
By ratifying the new Treaty, ASEAN member states would prove their determination to disarmament and making the region free from all kind of nuclear threats. Currently, only Thailand and Vietnam have ratified the treaty.
Others, including Indonesia, were had signed the deal, while Singapore chose to abstain.
Indonesia should immediately follow the path of Thailand and Vietnam and together persuade Singapore to support the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty in the spirit of Southeast Asia's nuclear weapons-free zone.
Once all ASEAN member states have ratified the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, they can continue pressing wider acceptance of SEANWFZ to nuclear weapon states.
The previous 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference was dubbed a failure due to absence of consensus on nuclear disarmament. Thus all parties including Indonesia must prepare themselves better for the next 2020 Conference and keep trying to achieve a shared vision on disarmament.
The 2015 conference manifested the non-nuclear-weapon states' concerns over the scale and pace of disarmament.
These states believe there have been too many restrictions and demands for them regarding peaceful use of nuclear technology. They also think nuclear weapon states have been ignoring their obligation to disarm their nuclear arsenals.
The 2020 Conference will be an excellent platform to reaffirm Jakarta's demand for nuclear disarmament and security as well as to pressure nuclear weapon states to manifest their commitment to nuclear disarmament.
Indonesian delegates should continue expressing concerns about international security, including the US administration's decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
According to the Foreign Ministry, Affairs, Indonesia regrets this decision as Jakarta believes that the JCPOA is an achievement of diplomacy and can maintain stability in the region and the world. Indonesia is still optimistic about the future of JCPOA and hence urges other JCPOA's signatories to maintain support for the agreement.
Nuclear weapons present a real and imminent threat to humanity, thus Indonesia should not loosen efforts towards nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Ratifying the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons means Jakarta is greatly concerned about the slow pace of disarmament.
This is an edited extract from Tim Lindsey's essay 'Retreat from Democracy', which appears in Australian Foreign Affairs #3, published 9 July.
Tim Lindsey For much of the past 20 years, Indonesia has been held up as a model of democratic transition for other countries, particularly those with significant Muslim populations.
Indonesia's leaders like to present their nation as embodying an exemplary path away from authoritarianism. Their form of government, they say, is tolerant yet enshrines religious practice, offering a political alternative for Muslim communities that is more palatable to the West than the failed Arab Spring and the extremist catastrophes that have engulfed the Middle East since the US intervened in Afghanistan and Iraq.
This view of Indonesia now needs rethinking. The country's hard-won advances towards liberalism and tolerance may be under threat. This nation of more than 260 million people over 85% of them Muslim has often been called the "smiling face of Islam", but that label may no longer apply.
Indonesia's recent questioning of its own liberal-democratic aspirations has been accompanied by growing expressions of intolerance, including violence towards vulnerable minorities. As next year's presidential election approaches, the temptation to resort to regressive identity politics and opportunistic populism will increase, and Indonesia's departure from its post-1998 progressive tilt is likely to become more pronounced.
In Indonesia today, reform has stagnated. Although the democratic transition in 1998 was presented as a national consensus, this was never entirely true. It always had opponents, some of whom felt politically constrained to accept democratisation as a necessary evil but never accepted it as a final settlement.
As well as the hardliners, today these include enormously wealthy oligarchs, tenacious survivors of former dictator Suharto's regime and elements of the armed forces. These disparate forces that together form Indonesia's revisionist and populist right have little in common and often compete with one another. However, they also create expedient alliances from time to time, motivated by a common desire to roll back at least some of the democratic system initiated by Reformasi, the reform era.
Together they can sometimes intimidate or outflank progressive civil-society leaders. Governments, local and national, seem uncertain about how to respond to these challenges, and vacillate between inaction, opaqueness or endorsement of reactionary policies. As a result, 20 years on from Reformasi, the spirit of reform that drove democratisation seems distant.
Most Indonesian champions of civil society would agree that Reformasi ended long ago maybe well over a decade ago but a new label to define what replaced it has not yet emerged. This reflects an uncertainty among many Indonesians about where their country is heading. Many prominent critics of the government believe that while electoral democracy seems entrenched, liberal democracy is under threat from populism, Islamism and renewed conservatism.
For them, Indonesia seems to be sliding towards what some call the "Neo New Order". Others say this is too harsh, arguing that electoral democracy is now firmly entrenched and the critical change that marked the end of Suharto's system, the retreat of the military from government, has not been reversed.
However, it is increasingly difficult to argue that all is well with Indonesian democracy. The forthcoming elections aside, rampant corruption is perhaps Indonesia's single biggest political issue. The courageous Corruption Eradication Commission is under continual attack from politicians and police. The human rights courts are virtually defunct and rarely hear cases.
The National Commission on Human Rights is ineffective; the Constitutional Court has faced its own corruption scandals; the press is confronting increasingly prohibitive defamation laws that assist politicians and oligarchs; and civil society is under pressure from elite push-back and Islamist provocation.
Indonesia's alt-right: trolls, hackers and vigilantes
The tensions over Islam are part of a much older struggle in Indonesia to determine who controls the interpretation of the religion, and thus religious power. However, the recent rise of conservative Islamist hardliners also resembles the rise of populism and conservative politics elsewhere in the world. Islamist conservatives are in many ways the local equivalent of America's alt-right and they are just as adept at online disruption and manipulation.
Research by State Islamic University Jakarta links the rise of religious intolerance among young Muslims to their increased access to the internet and social media. Indeed, Jakarta tweets more than any other city in the world, and Indonesians are very big users of Facebook, as well as WhatsApp, Instagram and Telegram, an encrypted-messaging service.
One of the best-known examples of online disruption involves the so-called Muslim Cyber Army, the most prominent of a number of tags adopted by Islamist trolls in Indonesia. Active across all platforms popular in Indonesia, Muslim Cyber Army members enjoy building an atmosphere of mystery, threat and self-importance, sometimes using the Guy Fawkes mask, popularised by the graphic novel and film V for Vendetta, of the hacktivist group Anonymous in their postings.
This is deeply ironic, given the distance between their ideological objectives and the libertarian ambitions of most Western hacktivist groups. The Muslim Cyber Army does, however, share a willingness to exploit online anonymity to enable criminal activity for example, by hijacking the social media accounts of the dead.
An Indonesian researcher, Damar Juniarto, has shown that Muslim Cyber Army trolls are highly effective, working collectively and using tools such as Twitbots to flood Twitter with coordinated messages. They target their more liberal opponents by "doxing": publishing their personal information and contact details. This often triggers physical attacks from groups such as the notorious vigilante organisation Islamic Defenders Front, or Front Pembela Islam (FPI), within a few days and, in some cases, police attention on suspicion of blasphemy.
A list of such targets went viral in a video produced by the "Blasphemer Hunter Team". These groups have attacked President Joko Widodo ("Jokowi"), former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (known as "Ahok"), foreigners and LGBTI Indonesians targets they share with some prominent hardliner "buzzers", or social media opinion leaders, many of whom are keyboards for hire.
Juniarto also suggests that many of these groups have close ties to politicians and senior military figures. Certainly, social media manipulation and "fake news" hoaxes produced by Islamist groups were powerful factors in the campaign that led to Ahok's defeat in last year's Jakarta gubernatorial elections. The winner was Anies Baswedan, a protege of former general Prabowo Subianto, Jokowi's possible rival in the 2019 presidential election.
It would be naive to think this won't happen again in next April's crucial legislative and presidential races. During the 2014 presidential campaign, Jokowi, a Muslim, endured claims he was a closet Christian and ethnic Chinese (his detractors chose to ignore the fact that his opponent, also a Muslim, has a Christian mother and siblings).
The upcoming presidential election which may well be a rematch between Jokowi and Prabowo, but for the first time held simultaneously with legislative elections is expected to see the most vicious cyber campaigning yet.
Aisyah Llewellyn Regional elections took place across Indonesia on 27 June, when local voters went to the polls to elect governors, regents, and mayors. The results offer a fascinating insight into the current political landscape, albeit one that analysts need to approach with caution.
It is always tempting to look at regional elections in Indonesia as electoral tea leaves, used to extrapolate meaning in the run-up to the race for the presidency that will take place in 2019. I watched the hard-fought elections in North Sumatra featuring Djarot Saiful Hidayat, one-time governor of Jakarta, running against military man Edy Rahmayadi, born in Sabang in Aceh province closely, from the day Djarot took to the campaign trail at Cafe Sobat in the capital city of Medan to the evening of his crushing defeat in late June.
Analysts should be wary of using these elections as a guide in the race to the presidential palace.
From my days on the campaign trail, which took me from Medan to Karo Regency and down to Lake Toba, it seems fair to say that the latest round of elections won't tell us much about whether current president Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is likely to win a second term, or if another hopeful, such as Prabowo Subianto, who ran unsuccessfully in 2014 and is expected to try his luck again, may snatch victory.
Regional elections in Indonesia are far more complicated than simple party politics.
For example, in North Sumatra, often overlooked in electoral analysis but a significant voting power as the fourth largest province in Indonesia, it was a win for Rahmayadi with 57% of the vote, and a loss for Djarot representing Jokowi's Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). This could seem to augur badly for Jokowi in 2019, but North Sumatra has long been a stronghold of parties other than PDI-P. The outgoing governor, Tengku Erry Nuradi, represents the National Democratic Party (Nasdem) which threw its support behind Rahmayadi.
Couched in those terms, Djarot's defeat is not much of a surprise, and the results not particularly significant ahead of the presidential elections. Voters went with the status quo rather than the regional opposition, as would be expected.
Put in wider context, Jokowi actually won the majority in North Sumatra in the 2014 presidential elections, with 55% of the votes against Prabowo. So a win for Rahmayadi doesn't necessarily mean a win for a presidential opposition party candidate in 2019 either. Regional politics doesn't always translate to national voter trends in Indonesia. If it did, North Sumatra should have been an easy win for Prabowo back in 2014.
If we look at elections in Indonesia through the prism of North Sumatra, then primordialism is alive and well. While Djarot is Muslim, his running mate Sihar Sitorus is a Batak and also a Christian, and it was no surprise that the pair won the majority of votes in places such as Lake Toba, a predominately Christian area.
Both Djarot and Rahmayadi also sought to curry favour with local Batak (an ethnic subgroup native to North Sumatra) voters by "adopting" traditional Batak surnames, or marga, although neither man is ethnically Batak. Rahmayadi took the name of the Ginting clan who mostly live in Karo Regency, and Djarot was bestowed with the Nababan surname of the Batak Toba.
Yet Karo Regency, a majority Christian area, voted for Djarot and Sihar rather than Muslim candidate Rahmayadi. These voting markers around ethnicity and religion, while interesting as part of regional analysis, translate less easily to the presidential elections, as Jokowi and possible opponents, such as Prabowo, are both Javanese Muslims.
North Sumatra does make for an interesting case study into voting habits across Indonesia. Data from the General Elections Commission (KPU) shows 9 million registered voters in the province, yet only around 1.6 million actually exercised their right to vote. This kind of voter apathy is often seen at regional levels across Indonesia.
Yet voter turnout is much higher for presidential elections. Asia Foundation findings revealed that more than 6 million North Sumatrans took to the polls in the presidential elections, amounting to a 75% voter turnout across the archipelago.
But data in regional elections in Indonesia is skewed by low voter figures in some areas. Projecting a win for either Prabowo or Jokowi based on 1.6 million regional voters in a province of 9 million is simply impractical.
While the regional elections in Indonesia provide opportunities for colourful analysis at a district level, they serve as a shaky predictive tool for what may lie ahead in 2019. Analysts should be wary of using these elections as a guide in the race to the presidential palace.